America's wetlands and prairies are being lost and our drinking water and food supplies are contaminated with toxic pesticides, fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics. The productivity of our farmland is being depleted, threatening future generations of farmers.
Many farmers are producing food in ways that protect family farms and the environment. But farm policies are doing too little to reward good stewardship and too much to underwrite unsustainable crop and animal production by the largest and most successful farm businesses.
Ken Cook's keynote talk on organic farming, big agriculture, and the federal farm bill at The Organic Center's 2011 Gala in Anaheim, CA.Read More
For too long, funding provided by the United States’ most far-reaching food and farm legislation -- the farm bill -- has primarily benefited agri-business and industrial-scale commodity farms that aren’t growing food.Read More
The cost to taxpayers of the current crop insurance system has soared from $2.4 billion in 2001 to nearly $9 billion in 2011 as a result of high commodity prices and the generous premium subsidies that lead farmers to buy the most expensive insurance available.Read More
America’s water, soil and wildlife habitat have never been under greater assault from the ravages of modern industrial agriculture. And since industrial crop production is exempt from most federal regulations, farm bill conservation programs and policies like the conservation compact are often our only line of defense against erosion and water contamination by toxic agrichemicals.Read More
As a Congressional “Super Committee” presses to meet its Nov. 23 deadline to come up with a deficit reduction proposal, powerful farm state legislators and agricultural industry lobbyists have moved to hijack the process of rewriting the federal farm bill and enact a new, multi-billion dollar entitlement for the largest, most profitable farming operations. Their goal is to have the 12-member committee adopt their scheme, drafted entirely behind closed doors, while shutting out everyone else with a stake in the outcome – including taxpayers and advocates for healthy food, rural revitalization, children, conservation, public health and the environment.
“You learn something every day if you pay attention.” ~Ray LeBlond
And that happened this morning, when in an online dialogue, a farming friend popped in, talking about his trip to DC for the “Corn Congress.”
“What’s a ‘Corn Congress’?” I asked, never having heard the term.Read More
Animal waste and fertilizer from farming operations in California’s Salinas Valley and Tulare Lake Basin are the source of 96 percent of the nitrate contamination in the area’s groundwater, a new study commissioned by the State Water Resources Control Board found.Read More
Critics of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (previously known as food stamps) claim some recipients are wrongly receiving benefits after winning lottery jackpots. SNAP fraud is serious. Those who are not in need and improperly receive benefits are taking precious resources from people desperate to feed their families in our slowly healing economy. Thankfully, according to the US Department of Agriculture, SNAP fraud is limited.Read More
"As you renew food and farm policy, we urge you to strengthen USDA conservation programs in order to reward farmers and ranchers who take steps to protect our air, water and wildlife."Read More
Some commitments should be honored. In exchange for farm subsidies, farmers have for decades committed to adopt land management practices that reduce the runoff from their fields – a provision of the 1985 farm bill called “conservation compliance.”Read More
Tell USDA to stand by its pesticide data program. It's the time of year when the U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing to release its annual pesticide data – information the Environmental Working Group uses to bring you the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which helps careful consumers minimize their exposure to pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.Read More
A new research paper finds that most farmers support the long-standing conservation compact that has helped protect the rich soil and clean water that sustain food, farming and public health.Read More
Aldo Leopold was perhaps the most influential conservationist of the 20th century. He died nearly 65 years ago, yet his life’s work continues to inspire us to love and respect our land, water and wildlife. Green Fire, the first documentary film about Leopold’s life and work, looks back at his extraordinary career and examines how his philosophy of ethical land use endures today. As this year’s debate over renewing the farm bill gets underway, policymakers would do well to learn more about Leopold and other pioneering conservationists to better understand the need to protect and preserve the land that will feed future generations.Read More
America’s farmers need a safety net, but so do the rich soil and clean water that sustain not just agriculture but the entire fabric of American society.Read More
December 31 marked the overdue demise of one of the government subsidies that has long propped up the corn ethanol industry. But if you think corn ethanol is now standing on its own in the energy marketplace, take another look. Yes, the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) is gone and will no longer pay oil companies for every gallon of ethanol they mix with gasoline.Read More
The National Academy of Sciences should review the health, environmental and safety effects of E15 ethanol blends before they’re allowed on the market, but limiting EPA’s authority to enforce the Clean Air Act would be a bad idea.Read More
As the 2012 food and farm policy fights heat up, entrepreneurs have some lessons for Washington. These were on full display at a recent TEDx Manhattan conference, where the innovative business leaders shared how they are changing the way we eat and developing a following among consumers concerned about where their food comes from.Read More
When the farm bill fight gets rolling again in Congress, one question will be at the heart of the debate: Is it fair to ask farmers to take a few basic steps to protect soil and clean up waterways in return for the billions of dollars that taxpayers spend each year to provide them with cut-rate crop insurance?Read More
For too long, funding provided by the United States’ most far-reaching food and farm legislation has primarily benefited agri-business and large scale industrial-scale commodity farms that aren’t growing food. Instead, they’re growing ingredients for animal feed, fuel and highly processed food -- at a high cost to our nation’s health, environment and rural communities.Read More