Opinion/Editorial Archive

U.S. Organic Dairy Politics by Bruce A. Scholten

Monday, March 28th, 2016

UK Soil Association’s Organic Farming magazine, Autumn 2015
by Tim Harrap MPhil

Published by
Palgrave Macmillan

With the title U.S. Organic Dairy Politics you might think Bruce Scholten’s new book was too parochial to be of interest to non-US readers interested in organic dairy farming systems. Far from it, this book highlights the social, economic and political challenges we all face in a commercial world.

The book ranges over the background to agricultural revolutions with reference to Balfour, Steiner and Carson and sets the scene for the battles over the number of days on pasture for cows that constitutes an organic production model. With such a variety of climates in the US a one size fits all will always cause friction – EU no different?

Bruce Scholten spends some time teasing out the question of animal welfare, GMO’s and the use of antibiotics in organic herds. He highlights for instance, the conflicting approaches whereby use of antibiotics in the US permanently removes an animal from an organic herd and yet a more liberal interpretation is used when bringing cows in calf into the herd for herd replenishment. Read Full Article »

Farmer John Writes about Farm Monogamy

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Angelic Organics: A Community Supported Agriculture Farm
by Farmer John

I LOVE YOU (Neighbor’s farm is in the
background; maybe it loves the neighbor?)
Source: Angelic Organics

I was driving along one of our fields the other day, and a gleam of light caught my eye. I backed up and spotted what looked like plastic trash. I was about to get out of my vehicle to pick up the shiny intruder when I noticed that it was emblazoned with the words I LOVE YOU.

Who, Who Do You Love?
This was just a cheap, garish balloon, but it was announcing that it loves me. What does this I LOVE YOU mean, I wondered?  Does it love me? Did it love someone else? Perhaps it’s in a serial relationship, and used to love someone else, but now loves me. Perhaps it’s a polyamorous balloon and it loves me and someone else. I began to feel that my irritation with this disheveled balloon was inappropriate. It’s saying it loves me. Maybe I should just take a deep breath and let it in.

I left the balloon where it had landed and drove off, pondering the nature of love. What makes love authentic? Is it the person, or balloon, who declares it? Is it authentic depending on how the love is proclaimed? Does it depend on the setting in which it is delivered?

Love…I thought about the love for a farm. What has to be in place for there to be love for a farm?

Relationship has to be in place for there to be love for a farm. Read Full Article »

Jim Riddle on Minnesota Sen. Klobuchar’s GMO Labeling Vote

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

by James Riddle
Blue Fruit Farm
Board Member, Right to Know Minnesota

Jim Riddle

On March 1, 2016, Sen. Amy Klobuchar voted with the Republican majority on the Senate Agriculture Committee to prohibit the mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients by States or by the Federal government.

This is a major betrayal by Sen. Klobuchar of Native Americans, mothers, children, families and farmers in Minnesota.

The bill Sen. Klobuchar voted for states:

“No State or a political subdivision of a State may directly or indirectly establish under any authority or continue in effect as to any food or seed in interstate commerce any requirement relating to the labeling of whether a food (including food served in a restaurant or similar establishment) or seed is genetically engineered (which shall include such other similar terms as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture) or was developed or produced using genetic engineering, including any requirement for claims that a food or seed is or contains an ingredient that was developed or produced using genetic engineering.’’

This radical over-reach by the Federal government would prevent farmers from knowing if the seeds that they purchase are GE. It would overturn Minnesota’s statutes that regulate the planting of GE crops. The bill was opposed by the Minnesota and National Farmers Union, yet Sen. Klobuchar voted for it. Read Full Article »

Ethan Allen would be Smiling

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

by Paris Reidhead

Ethan Allen statue, Montpelier, VT
Source: Mark Goebel

In the News Notes section of the Winter 2015-16 issue of The Natural Farmer, I read the headline: “U.S. Court of Appeals Tough on GMO Labeling Challengers”. The Natural Farmer, edited by Jack Kittredge, is the quarterly newspaper of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. Kittredge wrote that the labels that Vermont, as of July 2016, will be requiring on food products that contain genetically engineered ingredients, do not appear that scary to Judge Gerard Lynch. Lynch is judge at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, presiding over Vermont’s district, and he wrote that the state’s proposed labeling language is as benign as the wording noting that a food coloring was used. Quoting Lynch: “It seems to me that there is nothing controversial if a product contains red dye #2, and that it is disclosed on the ingredient label. And he lumped in GMO-labeling in the same category.

The hearing relating to this matter took place in a packed Manhattan courtroom on October 8. It lasted about an hour… much more time than was originally docketed for it. At that hearing, lawyers for the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) argued that the GMO (genetically modified organism) labels, which will be required nine months in the future, “imply a safety risk and constitute compelled speak, a violation of the First Amendment”. Read Full Article »

The Food Movement is Small? Not from Where We Sit, It Isn’t.

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

The Washington Post
by Chellie Pingree and Anna Lappé

Source: USDA

In her latest column for The Washington Post, “The surprising truth about the ‘food movement,’ ” Tamar Haspel argues that the number of people who really care about where their food comes from, how it is grown and its impact on our health and the environment is surprisingly small.

We think she’s wrong. As two people who talk to consumers, farmers and retailers every day about food buying choices, we can tell you that the level of awareness and concern for the food we are eating is higher than it has ever been — and shows in changing attitudes and in changing habits, too. Read Full Article »