Cornucopia Institute http://www.cornucopia.org Economic Justice for Family Scale Farming Sat, 28 Feb 2015 10:05:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Take Care of Baby Chickshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/take-care-baby-chicks/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/take-care-baby-chicks/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 21:12:26 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15383 Raising baby chicks can be really rewarding. Rodale News by Matthew Benson Source: Our Green Thumb Farm If ever there were a path to instant farm cred—a fallback to hopping up on your straw bale and shouting, “Hey, I’m farming here!”—chickens might be it. And knowing what we know about the wing-on-wing crowding and misery of most poultry farms, keeping a few contented chickens makes a lot of karmic sense. We eat with our eyes

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Raising baby chicks can be really rewarding.

Rodale News
by Matthew Benson

Source: Our Green Thumb Farm

If ever there were a path to instant farm cred—a fallback to hopping up on your straw bale and shouting, “Hey, I’m farming here!”—chickens might be it. And knowing what we know about the wing-on-wing crowding and misery of most poultry farms, keeping a few contented chickens makes a lot of karmic sense. We eat with our eyes and minds as much as we do with our tongues, and the sight of a small flock of freely ranging hens clucking about the property, happily creating delicious eggs, is an ongoing delight.

Whether you allow them to range free or keep them in a coop and run, caring for backyard chickens is relatively easy. As long as they have access to clean water, food, shade, and shelter, they’ll go about their business without much fuss. The rewards of caring for your own feathered flock are many, and you may find yourself bonding with your birds as you would with any other pet. Their insatiable curiosity and amusing social habits are always entertaining. Besides all their bug-eating and egg-laying benefits, chickens are just plain fun to have around.

Be sure to check local ordinances before you decide to raise a backyard flock. Some towns and municipalities don’t allow chickens, while others restrict the size of the flock and whether roosters are permitted. You may also want to let your neighbors know, appeasing any concerns with the promise of fresh, organic eggs.

Chicks should be ordered in early spring. They can be bought either at the local farm supply store or from catalogs and online suppliers. Ordering online has the advantage of variety, although most hatcheries require you to order a minimum of 25 chicks, as they come cheeping in the U.S. mail, huddled together for warmth. The least expensive orders are straight runs, which are usually half roosters, half hens. Since a flock needs only one rooster to produce fertile eggs, a “sexed” run of all females and one male is best. If you just want a laying flock and don’t plan on breeding chicks (or if roosters would unnerve the neighbors), order a sexed run of only females.

Your baby chicks will need close attention and care for the first few weeks, so be sure your schedule fits theirs. It’s important to have your brooder box set up before you order. This is an enclosed space for day-old chicks with a water fountain, feeder, and heat lamp. It can be as simple as a large cardboard box with wood shavings or paper towels as bedding, but be sure to change the bedding regularly. The brooder box needs to be draft free and placed somewhere in the house or garage where it can be checked on easily at least a half-dozen times a day (although chicks are so adorably fuzzy and cute you may find that they monopolize your time!).

Baby chicks need a steady heat source for the first few weeks of their lives: 95°F (35°C) for the first week, 90°F (32°C) for the second, and so on, reducing the temperature by 5 degrees each week. Keep a thermometer in the brooder to monitor the heat. Extremes in either direction could be fatal. An infrared lamp (250 watts) is a good heat source, and its red spectrum is less disruptive than white light.

Baby chicks can be chaotic and messy when it comes to drinking and eating, so invest in a waterer and feeder designed specifically for them. The waterer should be filled a few times each day, as 95°F and no shade brings on thirst. The feed you’ll need, usually called starter feed, is a finely ground mash, or crumble, that’s medicated to prevent certain diseases in young chicks. You can even feed them the odd bug or two, which they’ll love!

By the second week, your chicks will be strong and curious enough to flap out of their brooder box, unless the top is covered with netting or chicken wire. If you find a chick poking around in your sock drawer, you know it’s time to put the roof on.

Once your chicks are a few weeks old, and if it’s warm enough outside, you can bring them out for a little romp in the garden. Be sure they have access to water and shade and protection from drafts and predators. Until fully grown (and their sharp beaks are at eye level with the family cat), they’re on everyone’s meal plan.

Adapted from Growing Beautiful Food

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Organic Farming Continues to Rise Across the Globehttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/organic-farming-continues-rise-across-globe/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/organic-farming-continues-rise-across-globe/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:59:48 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15376 2 million of the world’s 1.5 billion farmers are now producing organically, with nearly 80 percent based in developing countries. India boasts the most certified organic producers, followed by Uganda and Mexico. The Christian Science Monitor by Kendra Nordin Source: Nithi Anand Across the decades of boom and bust that characterize agricultural history runs a trend: the rise and recognition of organic farming worldwide. According to the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), 2

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2 million of the world’s 1.5 billion farmers are now producing organically, with nearly 80 percent based in developing countries. India boasts the most certified organic producers, followed by Uganda and Mexico.

The Christian Science Monitor
by Kendra Nordin

Source: Nithi Anand

Across the decades of boom and bust that characterize agricultural history runs a trend: the rise and recognition of organic farming worldwide.

According to the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), 2 million of the world’s 1.5 billion farmers are now producing organically, with nearly 80 percent based in developing countries. India boasts the most certified organic producers, followed by Uganda and Mexico.

Currently 164 nations have certified organic farms, powering an industry worth $63.9 billion. (In 2000, there were 86 countries with certified farms producing $15.2 billion.) With this growth come opportunities for farmers to add value to their products and access expanding markets.

While the 94 million acres of certified organic agricultural land constitutes less than 1 percent of total global agricultural land, industry analysts call the growth of organics significant, also noting that the certified numbers fail to account for the vast numbers of small-scale farmers who use organic methods by default.

“[There are] probably 500 million small family farms worldwide; most of those are traditional farmers who farm primarily through organic principles,” says Andre Leu, president of IFOAM.

He adds that 200,000 organic farmers become newly certified each year. “In most places there is still a dramatic loss [in the numbers] of farmers and … where we see growth is in the organic sector.”

Farmers today, battling climate swings and plummeting farm incomes, are essentially faced with four options: leave farming completely, obtain off-farm income, expand and play the commodity game more efficiently, or find ways to add value per unit of production, says Joel Gruver, a soil science professor at Western Illinois University in Macomb.

“Basically, organic farming anywhere in the world – if you are certified – is the one label that is most clearly defined,” says Professor Gruver, the university’s director of organic research. “Each nation has its own rules in how they define organic, but the general set of rules is very much the same,” he says. Organic methods eschew chemical additives and rely on such practices as crop rotation to harness ecological processes that promote healthy soils and fight disease, weeds, and pests.

For consumers, organic farming addresses a range of issues on which many feel conventional farming falls short: environmental impact, pesticide residues, and nutritional quality. It addresses concerns about energy consumption and climate change, and even restores a social connection to the land that many feel commodity farming has eroded.

In fact, consumer demand is the driving force behind the growth. In 2012 in the United States and Europe, markets with a healthy appetite for organic goods, there was a 10 percent year-on-year rise in sales.

“Organic farming is the fastest growing multi-product sector in the world,” says Mr. Leu. “[I]f you go into any store now, organic products are in every section. Anything from dairy to [prepared foods] to body care products to organic clothing…. And there is no other sector like that.”

Organic farming does draw critics. Some question the consistency of its accreditation and labeling system. There is debate over whether organics deliver higher nutritional value, and concern that the certification process is too costly to allow for financial success. And there is doubt over whether organic methods can yield enough to feed an ever-growing population. Yet consumer preference continues to grow.

“[T]here is more demand than supply,” says Anna Lappé, author of “Diet for a Hot Planet.” Ms. Lappé also points out that less than 1 percent of agricultural research funding now goes toward refining proven chemical-free farming methods.

Still, there have been considerable efforts to support organic farmers. A growing number of nonprofits provide microloans. IFOAM publishes the principles of organic farming on its website for those who want to practice it but can’t yet afford certification. Countries such as Denmark and Sweden have set goals for organic agriculture. The US offers small grants and loans.

Commercial investment may gain momentum, too. Nature’s Path, an organic cereal manufacturer, recently bought 5,640 acres of farmland in Canada and northern Montana in efforts to support organic family farmers there.

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Arkansas Farmers Say Syngenta Tainted Grain Supply To Promote GMOhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/arkansas-farmers-say-syngenta-tainted-grain-supply-promote-gmo/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/arkansas-farmers-say-syngenta-tainted-grain-supply-promote-gmo/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 22:03:04 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15367 Arkansas Business by Jan Cottinham Source: John Lillis At least a dozen Arkansas farmers have joined hundreds of farmers in 19 other states in almost 800 lawsuits against Swiss seed maker Syngenta over genetically modified corn seed, a case that has been widely reported in the media. But one of the lawsuits, filed on behalf of two Newport farms, contains a previously unreported twist: an allegation that Syngenta, a global agribusiness, has engaged in a

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Arkansas Business
by Jan Cottinham

Source: John Lillis

At least a dozen Arkansas farmers have joined hundreds of farmers in 19 other states in almost 800 lawsuits against Swiss seed maker Syngenta over genetically modified corn seed, a case that has been widely reported in the media.

But one of the lawsuits, filed on behalf of two Newport farms, contains a previously unreported twist: an allegation that Syngenta, a global agribusiness, has engaged in a criminal conspiracy to contaminate the U.S. corn crop to force China, other nations that buy U.S. corn and U.S. farmers to accept genetically modified corn.

The suit, field by the Emerson Poynter law firm, which has offices in Little Rock and Houston, alleges that Syngenta violated the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, which is usually used to fight organized crime.

Emerson Poynter filed the class-action suit in January on behalf of Kenny Falwell and Eagle Lake Farms, farming operations in Newport. It, like at least eight other lawsuits against Syngenta over its genetically modified corn seed, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

These lawsuits joined hundreds of other lawsuits filed by U.S. farmers since the fall against Syngenta, the Swiss developer and marketer of seeds and agricultural chemicals.

The suits claim that Syngenta caused losses of between $1 billion and $2.9 billion to U.S. corn farmers after it sold genetically modified or bioengineered corn seed that had not been approved for use by China, a huge and growing importer of U.S. corn and corn byproducts.

The seed in question is Agrisure Viptera, also known as MIR 162, which has been genetically modified to resist corn pests like earworms and cutworms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the Viptera seed in 2010.

China began refusing shipments of American corn in November 2013 after it detected the GMO (genetically modified organism) trait, and the price of corn and corn byproducts dropped. Even farmers who did not grow the GMO corn experienced losses, the suits say.

Lawsuits have been filed in 20 states, representing 86 percent of the corn planted in the U.S. last year, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers.

China went on to approve Viptera in December, but plaintiffs’ lawyers say the development has little, if any, effect on their case. Scott Powell of Hare Wynn Newell & Newton of Birmingham, Alabama, is one of those lawyers.

China, with its rapidly expanding middle class, has “a voracious appetite for corn,” Powell said, and when it stopped buying U.S. corn, it found other vendors, like Brazil. And once a country finds a substitute vendor for a product, it rarely switches back.

Cargill, ADM Sue

Farmers weren’t the only ones alleged to have suffered. Agribusiness giants Cargill Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland Co. sued Syngenta late last year over the sale of the GMO corn before it had received import approval from China.

Cargill, a top U.S. grain exporter, filed suit in September alleging that it lost $90 million when China rejected corn shipments. “Unlike other seed companies, Syngenta has not practiced responsible stewardship by broadly commercializing a new product before receiving approval from a key export market like China,” Mark Stonacek, president of Cargill Grain & Oilseed Supply Chain North America, said in a company statement. “Syngenta also put the ability of U.S. agriculture to serve global markets at risk, costing both Cargill and the entire U.S. agricultural industry significant damages.”

Seed companies, farmers, grain handlers, exporters and others “have a shared responsibility to maintain and preserve market access when introducing new technology,” Cargill said.

In November, ADM, one of the world’s largest corn processors, also sued Syngenta, which reported sales of $15.1 billion in 2014. “Syngenta chose to sell a corn seed product with traits that were not approved in all major export markets, without undertaking reasonable stewardship practices to prevent the resulting crop from commingling with or otherwise tainting the rest of the U.S. corn supply,” an ADM spokeswoman said.

In response to the Cargill lawsuit, Syngenta said that it believed the lawsuit to be without merit and “strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and their profitability.” Syngenta maintained that it had been “fully transparent in commercializing the trait over the last four years.”

The farmers’ and grain handlers’ lawsuits were consolidated late last month in U.S. District Court in Kansas as a multidistrict litigation assigned to federal Judge John W. Lungstrum.

A team of four lawyers has been named to lead the litigation: Powell; Don Downing of Gray Ritter & Graham of St. Louis; William Chaney of Gray Reed & McGraw of Dallas; and Patrick Stueve of Stueve Siegel Hanson of Kansas City.

(Also see: Syngenta Corn Case Draws Comparison to Riceland Lawsuit)

‘A Hobson’s Choice’

The lawsuit by Kenny Falwell and Eagle Lake Farms of Newport accuses Syngenta of violations of the RICO statute. Although approved by Congress in 1970 to fight organized crime, it’s been cited in other cases against corporations.

On Thursday, for example, more than 90 landowners and other royalty owners in Pennsylvania accused Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Williams Partners LP of violating RICO by conspiring to restrain trade and engaging in a scheme “to help Chesapeake solve financial problems associated with the massive amount of debt that it incurred in acquiring oil and gas leases at the expense of royalty interest owners.”

The Falwell suit says that trends against GMO products, particularly in regard to the growing Chinese market, threatened Syngenta’s financial and competitive health.

If farmers continued to balk at growing GMO corn, the suit says, “it would weaken Syngenta competitively, reversing its economic growth and momentum and potentially disabling it from recovering the approximately $200 million it had invested in Viptera’s development over a span of five to seven years.”

Therefore, the suit alleges, Syngenta “embarked on a plan to purposely undermine U.S. non-GMO corn growers and those resistant to growing Syngenta’s unapproved genetic corn traits.

“To that end, Defendants engaged in a scheme designed to inevitably taint and contaminate the U.S. Corn supply, effectively causing its economic vitality to be held hostage to MIR-162 trait GMO corn, knowing that the continuous marketing and sale of Syngenta’s MIR-162 trait corn seed would ultimately prejudice and disrupt the U.S. Corn export market and the U.S. Corn commodities market.”

Syngenta knew that it was “impossible” for farmers to keep Viptera corn separate from non-GMO corn, the suit says, and that the U.S. corn supply would inevitably become contaminated.

This situation, the suit alleges, would then present China and other nations importing from the U.S. with “a Hobson’s choice: reject U.S. corn tainted with MIR-162 genetic trait and take a chance on securing other viable trade partners, failing which that nation would risk lacking sufficient corn to feed its people and livestock, or, rather than accept such risk, feel compelled to accept delivery of U.S. Corn.”

There was another goal, according to the lawsuit: to force U.S. farmers to realize that resistance to GMO corn, including Syngenta’s, was “futile and perhaps even economically disadvantageous in the long term.”

This “scheme,” the suit alleges, was carried out by Syngenta and several of its subsidiaries, along with Syngenta CEO Michael Mack and David Morgan, at that time president of Syngenta Seeds Inc., and “a network of independent ‘Syngenta Seed Advisors’” and Syngenta dealers and distributors.

A “Syngenta GMO Corn Seed Enterprise” was formed that contaminated the U.S. corn supply with Viptera corn, the suit alleges. It alleges that the defendants engaged in mail fraud in the marketing of the GMO corn and wire fraud in the dissemination of “false and misleading information and material omissions in public conference calls, press releases, articles and statements published over the news wires and interviews.”

Asked to respond to the allegations of RICO violations, Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart said:

“Syngenta believes that the lawsuits are without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and their profitability. The Agrisure Viptera trait (MIR162) was approved for cultivation in the U.S. in 2010. Syngenta commercialized the trait in full compliance with regulatory and legal requirements. Syngenta also obtained import approval from major corn importing countries. Syngenta has been fully transparent in commercializing the trait over the last four years.”

Powell, who represents other farmers in their pursuit of Syngenta, said he knew of the RICO allegations in the Falwell suit but declined to comment on whether they were likely to be included in the master consolidated complaint, which is being drafted. That complaint is due March 13.

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Small Farmers Hold the Key to Seed Diversity: Researchershttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/small-farmers-hold-key-seed-diversity-researchers/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/small-farmers-hold-key-seed-diversity-researchers/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:13:48 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15363 Reuters by Chris Arsenault Source: VitaminGreen ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Up to 75 percent of the seeds needed to produce the world’s diverse food crops are held by small farmers, researchers said following a review of international census data. Growers with farms of less than seven acres preserve diversity through “networks of seed and knowledge exchanges”, Karl Zimmerer, a Penn State University geography professor who led the research, told a conference of the American

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Reuters
by Chris Arsenault

Source: VitaminGreen

ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Up to 75 percent of the seeds needed to produce the world’s diverse food crops are held by small farmers, researchers said following a review of international census data.

Growers with farms of less than seven acres preserve diversity through “networks of seed and knowledge exchanges”, Karl Zimmerer, a Penn State University geography professor who led the research, told a conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Friday.

Some 75 percent of the world’s plant genetic diversity has been lost since the 1900s, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has reported, as farmers shift from local varieties to genetically uniform, high-yielding crop breeds.

About 75 percent of the world’s food is generated from only 12 plants and five animal species, the FAO has said.

Unlike large plantations which are monocultures, small farmers often plant several different species of staple crops, like potatoes, improving the resilience of their food and increasing its diversity.

While less efficient for some large farms, planting a variety of seeds can help food systems build resilience to pests or climate change, growers said.

“How many resources are going to monocultures and how many are going to diversifying food production systems?” Nicaraguan indigenous activist Myrna Cunningham asked during a U.N. conference on Monday.

“If we (start to) base food production on the richness of our diverse societies, we can improve the situation.”

Small farmers are often the first to face hunger or displacement, but their role in preserving varied types of seeds is crucial, activists said.

The new research from 11 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America underlines the importance of supporting small farmers, particularly women, who are leading the way in preserving diversity in their use of seeds, they said.

The 25 percent of seeds for food crops not held by small farmers are preserved in gene banks, researchers said.

“As a society, we are increasingly exposed to shocks and risks (in our food systems),” Adolfo Brizzi, director of policy for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), told the U.N. conference.

“We need diversity as a base in case something goes wrong.”

(Reporting By Chris Arsenault; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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UAVs Awaiting Take-off in US Agriculturehttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/uavs-awaiting-take-off-us-agriculture/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/uavs-awaiting-take-off-us-agriculture/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:13:46 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15359 Farmers Guardian by John Wilkes Source: David Rodriguez Martin Like their counterparts in Europe, farmers in the United States see potential for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in their businesses. However, a ban on the use of drones for commercial purposes is preventing any further development of the technology in agriculture from, quite literally, getting off the ground. The agricultural sector featured strongly at the UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) Commercialisation Industry Conference held

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Farmers Guardian
by John Wilkes

Source: David Rodriguez Martin

Like their counterparts in Europe, farmers in the United States see potential for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in their businesses. However, a ban on the use of drones for commercial purposes is preventing any further development of the technology in agriculture from, quite literally, getting off the ground.

The agricultural sector featured strongly at the UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) Commercialisation Industry Conference held in Washington, DC, at the end of last year.

As of June 13, 2014, crop research with UAVs at American universities became more complicated. Research must now have an aviation sector focus to be legal. On June 18, 2014, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) also stopped all UAV flights over agricultural land for economic purposes without operators first obtaining a ‘333 Exemption’ (Special Rules for Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems).

Anyone can fly a UAV as a ‘hobby’ but they are prohibited from using machines for the purposes of making management decisions.

So, ‘viewing a field to determine whether crops need water when they are grown for personal enjoyment’ is permitted but ‘determining whether crops grown as part of a commercial farming operation need to be irrigated’ is not permitted. If a UAV has gathered the data, decisions around agchem, fertiliser and pesticide applications are completely off the radar.

Any commercial use qualifies UAVs as aircraft, subjecting those who employ them to more onerous caveats, via the FAA’s 333 Exemption, than hobbyist fliers. A qualified pilot, aided by a spotter, must fly the UAV, which itself must pass stringent Airworthiness Certification. Otherwise, both hobbyist and industry must respect other criteria set out for UAVs.

Potential providers of equipment, services and software across a raft of sectors, including the oil industry, public services, meteorology, journalism, logistics and photography, gathered at the conference to discuss the latest aerial observational technology.

Rulings

Overshadowing the discussions were the FAA rulings, which directly affect the development of UAVs in the commercial world. Penalties for regulation violations start with a US$10,000 (£6,600) fine and can lead to prison.

Jim Williams, of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, could give the conference few answers and little hope of any imminent regulatory movement by the FAA. The US Government’s lack of funding for the FAA might go some way to explaining its limited ability to research areas of concern associated with the safe use of American airspace by this new and rapidly expanding technology.

The FAA will publish rules for comment this year, followed by implementation. Until then crop scouting and use of Near Infra Red (NIR) technology on some of the 66 million hectares of US soybean and wheat will have to wait, if it is to be performed by UAVs. The feeling at the conference was implementation might not happen until 2016, too late for the 2015 cropping year. In fact, 2017 would now seem a more realistic target for all concerned.

For those companies keen to develop and apply technology to large swathes of America’s farming acreage, which comprises 40% of all US land, the sense of disquiet at the conference was palpable. Factoring in currently only 5% of American crop farmers are using technology to make management decisions illustrates the size of the potential market.

Much of the frustration in the room was voiced by fourth generation Idaho grain farmer and precision agriculture and UAV pioneer Robert Blair, who spoke plainly and with purpose about his industry and its challenges.

He highlighted the strides taking place on large-scale South American and Australian arable operations as well as in the UK, all unhindered by excessive bureaucracy. There was a need for the US to up its game and maximise resources to keep parity and compete globally, he said. The US did not even rank in the UAV ‘friendly skies’ statistics – Brazil gets a 5/5 rating, Australia 4/5 and it is 3/5 in the UK, according to Mr Blair.

Yet despite the inertia, some companies are forging ahead, but with focus now shifting onto the gathered data – rather than its sourcing solely via UAVs.

Manned flights

Phil Ellerbroek, global sales director with RoboFlight, based in Greenwood, Colorado, told the conference, following this legislative setback, his company was now looking at manned flights in small light aircraft to gather images and data. Fewer constraints are placed on flight times and altitude, which may lower the cost per hectare for scouting and remote sensing for farm co-ops and neighbouring farmers using an aircraft for a few hours. Figures of about US$4-$10/acre (£6-£16/ha) for mapping/scouting were being bandied around, although price would depend on individual locations and likely yields, he said.

Gathered imaging and data was turned round quickly, normally within 24 hours, into the shape files which formed the basis of field prescriptions for agronomist’s crop recommendations. These files were fully compatible with most US farm management solutions, including Trimble’s Farm Works, Ag Leader’s SMS and SST’s Summit software.

Mr Ellerbroek cited an early piece of work: “We had two fields of 17ha side by side. On the first field we used a traditional agronomist prescription for flat rate application, on the second we used remote sensing and created an NDVI [Normalized Difference Vegetation Index] map and cross-referenced that to 12 soil samples and generated a prescription from that leading to a 30% nitrogen reduction and an $18/acre saving.”

Up in Madison, Wisconsin, Mike Hopke is an agronomy territory account manager with Landmark Services, a 15,000-member farmer cooperative servicing Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. He is one of 30 agronomists responsible for about 364,000ha of corn, soybean, wheat and alfalfa. Harvest year 2014 was a good one in Wisconsin: corn yielded to 18t/ha; the wheat crop also came in better than expected at 5.3–6.7t/ha and soybean was up to 3.7t/ha.

Landmark has been employing UAVs for the past couple of years, on a no-charge basis to their customers, as part of their agronomy service. They credit a good growing season and assistance from this new technology for improved yields.

They do not use software for data analysis, but rely on visual image assessment to assess crops before following up with inspection conventionally on the ground. Even so weed outbreaks, crop emergence patterns, insect attack and drought stress can be flagged up and responded to more quickly than before. The clarity obtainable from low-flying UAV imagery post-crop emergence enabled weeds species identification and assisted herbicide selection, Mr Hopke said.

Landmark is just one of many US agronomy businesses looking to expand its services, but will not do so until there is more clarity from the authorities.

“The more technology and software analysis which develops, the more time we will save exponentially, but for now we are not investing.”

As the range of potential benefits for America’s farmers from UAV technology continues to grow, the agricultural industry needs someone with a seat at the administrative high table, like Robert Blair, for farming’s voice to be heard loud and clear. UAV use needs expediting, unhindered by unrealistic, onerous regulation; otherwise America is going to be left trailing behind crop-producing powerhouse nations which have embraced this new and innovative technology.

Case study: Robert Blair, Three Canyons Ranch, Idaho

Robert Blair started down the precision agriculture route at 526ha Three Canyons Ranch in Kendrick, Idaho, in 2003. This led to his pioneering UAV experimentation in 2006, and to him becoming International Precision Farmer of the Year in 2009. Scholarships followed, allowing for studies across the world. A passionate advocate of the technology, he says: “In 2004, I took a flight over my land, and it just all made sense – the ability to actually see the crop and areas of stress in real-time – it was a no-brainer.”

Use of UAVs took precision agriculture to a new level on the farm. Being able to stitch multiple-imagery together and then overlay yield mapping with NIR imagery opened up many more possibilities. On a purely practical level, while deep canyons split the farm, fields an hour’s tractor ride away are actually very close – in a straight line.

“Using UAVs, the journey to start scouting those crops takes me a couple of minutes,” says Mr Blair.

This all contributes to tight controls on inputs. Three Canyon’s three-year rotation of hard and soft winter/spring wheat, followed by malting barley or spring wheat with a legume break crop – marrowfat peas, lentils or garbanzo beans (chick peas) afford a rolling yield average for wheat of 100 bushels/acre (6.7t/ha).

Weed control has been a significant beneficiary from aerial surveillance. Identification of wild oats and goat grass allows hand rogueing, while perennials such as Canadian thistle and morning glory can get spot strategic applications with herbicide.

The impact of crop damage from the local elk population can also be monitored easily during the growing season. Issues with claims under the federal farm crop insurance scheme are greatly simplified with relevant evidence obtained from the air when, for example, severe weather conditions make on-land assessment difficult. Federal crop insurance is now applicable for 89% of all insurable farmland in the US.

Current FAA rules require drones must:

  • Be kept below 121.92 metres (400ft)
  • Remain within half a mile of the pilot and always in visual line of sight
  • Weigh under 55lbs (25kg) weight
  • Not be flown within five miles of an airport
  • Be flown for no more than 30 minutes at a time

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Farmers, Workers, and Allies Hold Speak Out Against Fast Track Outside Rep. Ron Kind’s La Crosse, Wis. Office on February 27http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/farmers-workers-allies-hold-speak-fast-track-outside-rep-ron-kinds-la-crosse-wis-office-february-27/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/farmers-workers-allies-hold-speak-fast-track-outside-rep-ron-kinds-la-crosse-wis-office-february-27/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 00:27:49 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15349 Family Farm Defenders Urges Congressman Kind to Support the Working People of Wisconsin by Opposing Unfair Trade Deals Family Farm Defenders Rep. Ron Kind Farmers, workers and their allies will be speaking out against unfair trade deals and urging Rep. Ron Kind to oppose Fast Track outside his La Crosse, Wis. office (205 5th Ave. S. #400) on Friday, February 27 at 12:00 Noon.  Many of them will be gathering at 11:30 am outside the

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Family Farm Defenders Urges Congressman Kind to
Support the Working People of Wisconsin by Opposing Unfair Trade Deals

Family Farm Defenders

Rep. Ron Kind

Farmers, workers and their allies will be speaking out against unfair trade deals and urging Rep. Ron Kind to oppose Fast Track outside his La Crosse, Wis. office (205 5th Ave. S. #400) on Friday, February 27 at 12:00 Noon.  Many of them will be gathering at 11:30 am outside the main entrance to the MOSES Organic Farming Conference  before heading over to Representative Kind’s office to insist that he standup for the interests of the working people of Wisconsin and not those of corporate elites.

The White House is now trying to railroad through Fast Track as a prerequisite for passing the TransPacific Partnership, as well as the TransAltantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  Under Fast Track, Congress will have no power to amend either sweeping trade deal. Worse yet, they are so secretive that much of Congress – including Rep. Kind – has not been allowed to even see a draft.

“Farmers, ranchers, farmworkers, and fishing people are trying to save their livelihoods around the world from the threat of corporate globalization,” noted Joel Greeno, president of Family Farm Defenders from Kendall, WI.

“Last year,” Greeno added, “we were here to urge Rep. Kind to look out for the interests of real people in his district, and we are now back again to tell him to stop trading away our rights!  Every other trade deal has only led to a worsening trade deficit, loss of good paying jobs, and declining middle class income – all for the sake of more corporate profit.  I hope that Ron Kind, as my elected representative, will choose to do the right thing to save our communities and the planet by opposing Fast Track, as well as the TPP, TTIP, and any other unfair trade deals waiting in the wings.”

In 2014, Family Farm Defenders and its allies delivered a basket of mystery imported dairy products to Rep. Kind’s office, warning that if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) passed U.S. farmers and consumers would face a veritable flood of dubious milk protein concentrate, casein, and tainted infant formula from overseas.

For example, imported infant formula has been found to contain toxic levels of melamine, while imported milk protein concentrate (MPC) undergoes no safety testing for residues and is not even deemed fit by the FDA for use in human food.  Those attending last year’s Organic Farming Conference were shocked to learn that the U.S. now imports over 265 dairy products, yet the U.S. public remains woefully ignorant of this since there is not yet country of origin labeling (COOL) for dairy.

Not surprisingly, one of those pushing hard for Fast Track and TPP is Fonterra, the New Zealand-based dairy giant that now controls 40% of the global market and is aggressively expanding its U.S. influence.

To find out more about the Fast Track and other unfair trade deals, as well as the positive alternative offered by the international food sovereignty movement, please stop by the Family Farm Defenders’ booth at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference, or visit www.familyfarmdefenders.org and the organization’s Facebook page.

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Research Details Deluge of Spending by Opponents to GMO Labelinghttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/research-details-deluge-of-spending-by-opponents-to-gmo-labeling/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/research-details-deluge-of-spending-by-opponents-to-gmo-labeling/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 18:49:10 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15344 Final Infographic Spotlights Dueling Food Brands on Colorado and Oregon Initiatives For the third election cycle in a row, biotech corporations and large agribusinesses narrowly defeated statewide citizen initiatives that would have mandated the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on food packages. This time the electoral showdowns took place in Oregon, where it was narrowly defeated, and Colorado where the loss was decisive after labeling backers chose to focus their resources on Oregon. As

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Final Infographic Spotlights Dueling Food Brands on Colorado and Oregon Initiatives

For the third election cycle in a row, biotech corporations and large agribusinesses narrowly defeated statewide citizen initiatives that would have mandated the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on food packages. This time the electoral showdowns took place in Oregon, where it was narrowly defeated, and Colorado where the loss was decisive after labeling backers chose to focus their resources on Oregon.

As in past campaigns in California (2012) and Washington (2013), the votes sparked a high-stakes bidding war pitting consumer and farmer advocates against multi-billion-dollar biotechnology interests and food industry giants.

Corporate opponents of labeling contributed unprecedented amounts of money in Oregon to narrowly push the No vote, ever so marginally, over the 50% mark.

The Cornucopia Institute has released an updated infographic that examines the final dollar totals spent on the state referendums.  Big Food interests and its allies in the biotech industry opposing the “consumer’s right-to-know” outspent the Yes side $32 million to $12 million in Colorado and Oregon.  Over the past three years, including the two previous, similar referendums in California and Washington, corporate interests have outspent the pro-labeling supporters $100 million to $29 million.

“This nonpartisan electoral contest clearly illustrates how corporate interests, with unlimited budgets, can manipulate popular sentiment at the ballot box,” lamented Mark A Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group.

Despite the seemingly “sufficient” cash deluge, the result in Oregon required a recount as the final tally resulted in a squeaker of just 800 votes separating the two sides out of 1.5 million cast.  Spending by both factions continued during the two-week recount with both sides lawyering-up to closely observe the review.  The electoral result was ultimately upheld.

Opposition to the state food labeling measures came from giant biotech companies (DuPont, Dow and Monsanto), that sell genetically engineered seeds, and consumer packaged food companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, and General Mills.  Once again millions of dollars were spent largely on television advertising.

The Cornucopia Institute’s new, post-election detailed infographic reveals which food companies supported or opposed the food labeling initiatives.  Many of the major manufacturers opposing passage own leading brands in the natural/organic marketplace — generally patronized by consumers that oppose genetic engineering.  The use of GMOs in organic food is prohibited under federal law.

“Many loyal customers will likely be surprised to learn that owners and management of some of their favorite organic and natural brands are fighting against their right to know what is in their food,” Kastel added.  “We are spotlighting these companies so that consumers can vote in the marketplace for manufacturers and brands that best reflect their personal values.”

Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food ingredients (commonly called GMOs — standing for genetically modified organisms) at the state level is viewed as a watershed event by many industry observers, given the prolonged inaction at the federal level.  In 2014 Vermont passed a law requiring GMO food ingredient labeling.  The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), a pair of industry trade-lobby groups representing the food industry and dairy marketers and manufacturers, respectively, are now suing Vermont over its legislatively authorized food labeling act.    The states of Connecticut and Maine have adopted similar legislation that will take effect when other neighboring states pass such legislation.

In 2013 a state GMO food labeling initiative was narrowly defeated in Washington by a 51-49 percent margin.  Earlier in 2002, in California, a nearly identical labeling initiative lost by a similarly slim margin.  Biotech interests spent close to $50 million opposing the initiatives in California and Washington.

At the national level, Monsanto, its biotech allies, and the GMA in particular, have been credited for bottlenecking action on federal legislation although industry interests  are now rallying behind a new proposal that would outlaw state GMO food labeling laws while permitting “voluntary” labeling  genetically modified ingredients (although voluntary labeling is already allowed by the FDA).

More than 60 countries around the world require the labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients.  “Interestingly, in Europe where GMO labeling is required, consumers overwhelming choose to buy organic and non-GMO products,” said Kastel.  “The industrial food lobby is fully cognizant of the European experience and what’s at stake — that’s why they’re fighting like hell against these grassroots efforts in states like Colorado and Oregon.”

Among those throwing their financial weight behind the consumer’s right to know in the Oregon and Colorado state referendums were Dr. Bronner’s, Organic Consumer’s Fund, Center for Food Safety, Food Democracy Action, Mercola.com, Nature’s Path and Presence Marketing.

“Despite spending tens of millions of dollars to keep us in the dark,  Americans are waking up and demanding their right to know when our food has been genetically engineered by the pesticide industry to survive huge doses of the pesticides they sell,” observed David Bronner, the President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.  “I am confident that the tide is moving in our direction.”

The biggest single donor to the “NO” vote was biotech giant Monsanto, pouring more than $10 million into the two recent state campaigns.  DuPont donated $7.6 million, Pepsi donated $4 million and Coca Cola donated more than $2.5 million.   Other heavyweight opponents included General Mills, Kraft, Dow AgroSciences, J.M. Smucker, Land O’ Lakes and ConAgra.

“We doubt if loyal customers of Naked Juice (PepsiCo), Dagoba chocolate (Hershey’s) RW Knudsen or Santa Cruz juices (Smuckers) realize that their corporate parents are taking the profits from their patronage and stabbing them in the back by investing to defeat GMO labeling on food packages,” the Cornucopia’s Kastel lamented.

“Consumers are increasingly interested in ‘voting with their forks,’ and many want to support companies that share their values,” added Jason Cole, a researcher for Cornucopia who compiled the data for the infographic.  “We hope the information we are providing on corporate involvement in influencing legislation and the electoral process will help consumers make informed choices in grocery store aisles.”

Data for the campaign contributions was gathered from appropriate state regulatory agencies.

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10 Amazing Food Co-ops Across Americahttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/10-amazing-food-co-ops-across-america/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/10-amazing-food-co-ops-across-america/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:09:09 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15339 [NOTE: The Cornucopia Institute is proud to partner with the nation’s 300+ co-op grocers—the original organic champions. Support your local co-op!] Food Tank by Rachel Lazar Cooperatively owned grocery stores exist all over the country. Some have thousands of members and have been around since the 1970s, and some opened within the past few years to serve communities with unusual needs. Watch this video, below,  about the advantages of shopping at co-ops, and check this

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[NOTE: The Cornucopia Institute is proud to partner with the nation’s 300+ co-op grocers—the original organic champions. Support your local co-op!]

Food Tank
by Rachel Lazar

Cooperatively owned grocery stores exist all over the country. Some have thousands of members and have been around since the 1970s, and some opened within the past few years to serve communities with unusual needs. Watch this video, below,  about the advantages of shopping at co-ops, and check this directory  for information about food co-ops near you.

Each co-op has a story – here are a few!

At Food Conspiracy Co-op  in Tucson, Arizona, community members teach courses; local nonprofits and schools apply for donations; and workshops on water harvesting and native trees take place. In 2013, the Co-op installed a rainwater harvesting system behind their kitchen with a grant from the city of Tucson. The plan is to build an urban micro farm.

Viroqua Food Co-op  is located in Viroqua, a town of 4400, in a rural area of Southwest Wisconsin called the Driftless. Like many co-ops on this list, before opening as a store in 1995, Viroqua began as a “natural foods buying club,” a group of individuals who worked together to procure healthy foods for their families. According to a 2005 USDA report about successful co-ops in rural areas, it benefited from the guidance of local residents who’d been involved with CROPP, a local organic marketing cooperative which helps farmers transition to organic production.

4th Street Food Co-op  in Manhattan, New York takes its member participation seriously; the store is staffed entirely by members. Working memberships, which require you to work 2.25 hours a week, pay off in the form of a 20% discount. Refrigerators, lights, and electronics are powered by New Wind Energy, and they have a committee that vets products in an effort to stop carrying products owned by multi-national corporations.

Kokua Food Co-op  is, according to its website, the only natural foods co-op in the state of Hawaii. The Honolulu store serves up raw, vegan, gluten-free baked goods, hosts movie and poetry nights, and has eight flavors of kombucha on tap!

In 2003, People’s Food Co-op  received a matching funds grant from the Twin Pines Co-operative Foundation to start its own philanthropic fund. This has allowed the co-op to fund projects, including community gardens, health programs, and farm-to-school programs. The co-op, with locations in both La Crosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota, is very focused on local farmers: in addition to labeling all its locally-sourced products, it distributes a brochure which introduces consumers to the farmers whose products they purchase.

The Sacramento Food Co-op , which incorporated in 1973, is set apart by its community kitchen. This partnership with local nonprofits gives low-income individuals and families the opportunity to take a month-long cooking course. The course is taught by members and volunteers, and focuses on low-cost, nutritious meals. The co-op also runs a Community Learning Center and Cooking School, which has classes scheduled for almost every day – “Herbal Wines, Elixirs, and Confections,” anyone?

Co-op Market , located in the middle of a food desert in Fairbanks, Alaska, recently won the Food Co-op Initiative’s “Startup of the Year” award. The co-op emphasizes local products, connecting with small farmers and fishermen in the region. And every kid who comes in gets a free banana!

Though East Side Food Co-op  in Minneapolis, Minnesota officially opened in 2003, it exists thanks to efforts that began as far back as 1996. After years of volunteer hours, bake and plant sales, parties, community dinners, and a farmer’s market, the organization’s board was finally able to purchase a space in 2003.

River Valley Market Co-op  in Northampton, Massachusetts is described on its website as “large enough to meet your needs but small enough to meet your neighbors.” This 15,000 square foot building has a community room, a cafe, and a low-income member assistance program. Built in 2008 using green construction methods, the co-op is situated on a plateau surrounded by granite cliffs on three sides—stone from the hill on which it sits was removed to build the local highways.

Founded in 1976, the Upper Valley Food Co-op  in White River Junction, Vermont is a small, close-knit community of just over 1000 members . The co-op runs a community garden and a monthly movie series on topics related to nutrition and the environment. The town of White River Junction has no library, so the co-op’s cozy, busy library with a large collection of books and DVDs acts as a satellite for the closest public library.

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Downtown St. Louis To Sprout Its First Rooftop Farmhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/downtown-st-louis-sprout-first-rooftop-farm/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/downtown-st-louis-sprout-first-rooftop-farm/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:53:16 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15335 St. Louis Public Radio by Véronique LaCapra East Collegiate rooftop garden in Toronto Source: Karen Stintz St. Louis will soon have its first rooftop farm. Urban Harvest STL signed a lease for the space this week on the roof of a two-story building a couple of blocks east of the City Museum. The non-profit’s founding director, Mary Ostafi, said the 10,000 sq. ft. rooftop will be more than just a community garden. “We’re going to

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St. Louis Public Radio
by Véronique LaCapra

East Collegiate rooftop garden in Toronto
Source: Karen Stintz

St. Louis will soon have its first rooftop farm.

Urban Harvest STL signed a lease for the space this week on the roof of a two-story building a couple of blocks east of the City Museum.

The non-profit’s founding director, Mary Ostafi, said the 10,000 sq. ft. rooftop will be more than just a community garden. “We’re going to have an outdoor classroom, as well as a gathering space for community events,” Ostafi said. “We’ll be raising chickens and tending bees.”

Ostafi said the farm will also have a greenhouse, so it can keep producing fresh vegetables year-round.

Urban Harvest STL will hire a part-time farm manager to run the operation, but everything else will be done by volunteers.

Along with growing their own food in community garden plots, area residents will be able to buy shares of the harvest through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. Some food will be donated to McMurphy’s Cafe at St. Patrick’s Center, a homeless services provider.

Ostafi said planning for the farm has been conducted by the Urban Harvest STL board and downtown community gardeners from the surrounding neighborhood. “So, I wouldn’t say we’ve really put a focus on diversity,” Ostafi said. “We’re just catering to the people that care about this and want to be a part of it, so far.”

But, she said, that could change later on.

“I think there is an opportunity to enhance that mission as we have the farm built, to reach out to a broader component of the St. Louis region to get more people involved,” Ostafi said. “But right now, it’s just kind of grown as a grassroots initiative.”

Ostafi said once the farm is up and running, Urban Harvest STL plans to reach out to city schools to get them involved. The non-profit already has a partnership with one downtown charter school, Lafayette Preparatory Academy, which wants to take classes to the farm on a regular basis as part of the science curriculum.

Ostafi hopes the rooftop farm will serve as a model for other urban agriculture initiatives. “We’re trying to show that if we can grow food in downtown St. Louis — the most urban neighborhood in our city — then people really have an opportunity to grow food anywhere they live,” Ostafi said.

The project received $33,000 in seed funding from Rally Saint Louis, a crowdfunding platform. Urban Harvest STL has been fundraising to cover the remaining construction costs, which are expected to total just over $300,000.

Ostafi hopes to see construction begin in March. If all goes well, the rooftop should sprout its first seeds by this summer.

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USDA Could Take the Environment Into Account in Its Next Dietary Guidelineshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/usda-take-environment-account-next-dietary-guidelines/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/02/usda-take-environment-account-next-dietary-guidelines/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 00:15:37 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=15328 Will the US government incorporate environmental impacts into dietary guidelines for the first time? Or will it blink? The Guardian by Garrett Hering Aurora Coldwater Dairy in Stratford, Texas When a federal advisory committee created the first federal proposal to explore the relationship between nutrition and the environmental impacts of the American diet in December, it unsurprisingly drew the ire of meat producers and their allies in Congress. It’s not hard to see why. One

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Will the US government incorporate environmental impacts into dietary guidelines for the first time? Or will it blink?

The Guardian
by Garrett Hering

Aurora Coldwater Dairy in Stratford, Texas

When a federal advisory committee created the first federal proposal to explore the relationship between nutrition and the environmental impacts of the American diet in December, it unsurprisingly drew the ire of meat producers and their allies in Congress.

It’s not hard to see why. One of the committee’s central findings was that: “A dietary pattern higher in plant-based foods … and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average US diet.”

This month, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell will review the dietary advisory committee’s final report before releasing it to the public for comment. The report, in turn, will provide the scientific basis for the upcoming eighth edition of the federal government’s dietary guidelines for Americans – a highly influential policy document that the government publishes every five years.

“The reason to include sustainable diets, a new area to [the committee], is to recognize the significant impact of foods and beverages on environmental outcomes,” explained Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University who heads the subcommittee on sustainability and safety.

Where’s the beef?

Following the committee’s December 15 meeting, meat industry groups expressed outrage over the removal of “lean meats” as a component of healthy diets. Noting that the government’s 2010 guidelines included lean meats among its dietary recommendations, Barry Carpenter, president of the North American Meat Institute, called this year’s omission “arbitrary and capricious”.

In a letter addressed to officials at the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health, Carpenter claimed that the committee’s recommendation “reflects either an astonishing lack of awareness of the scientific evidence or a callous disregard of that evidence, again calling into question the entirety of the recommendations submitted by the [committee] to the agencies”.

He predicted “serious, adverse consequences” for America’s health if the recommendations presented in December were to make the final cut into the actual policy document to be released later this year.

“This risk would become real if the agencies incorporate this recommendation into federal policy because it will affect many programs”, including school lunch programs and other food and nutrition initiatives.

The federal advisory committee also advised that a “moderate amount of seafood is an important component of many of the dietary patterns associated with improved health and sustainability”. This includes both farm-raised and wild-caught fish.

Meat producers also questioned the report’s focus on sustainability. Chase Adams, a spokesman for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, declined to comment on the possible impact of the committee’s recommendations on the beef industry. He did, however, suggest that the report overshot its purview.

“Production practices are not a part of the dietary guidelines as authorized by Congress,” Adams said, referring to the year-end appropriations bill, in which Congress directed Secretary Vilsack to address only direct dietary information, not “extraneous factors”, in the guidelines.

In December, the meat industry and other opponents of the draft recommendations set up a new umbrella group, the Back to Balance Coalition, aimed at combating “public policy efforts occurring at the local, state and national levels to malign and restrict certain foods”. Among its members are the American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, American Frozen Foods Institute, Canned Food Alliance, Snack Food Association and the Sugar Association.

Eating: the most powerful impact on the environment

Environmental groups and independent food researchers welcomed the move to incorporate sustainability into US dietary guidelines.

“Our health is not bound by our bodies but reflects the health of the entire food chain from which we eat,” Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, told the Guardian. “Many people don’t yet think of their eating as their most powerful impact on the environment, but it is and this would serve as a salutary reminder,” he added.

Martin Heller, a researcher at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems, said that it was too early to tell if the 2015 guidelines would actually help reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions given the uncertainties over which recommendations will be included in the end.

“I also expect that there are recommendations that can be supported by current nutritional health research – such as reduced consumption of red meat – that don’t make it into the 2015 guidelines that would most certainly lead to further reductions in diet-related greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Kari Hamerschlag, a food expert at environmental group Friends of the Earth, hopes that the Obama administration will stand its ground. “There is no doubt the USDA and the USHHS are under intense pressure from the meat industry and their defenders in Congress to squash important information about the major environmental impacts of food production,” she said.

Committee members and government agencies have declined to comment on reactions to the recommendations until the final report is published at the end of February.

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