The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

Organic Christmas Trees are Greener

December 9th, 2016

Cornucopia’s Take: Christmas tree farms often use insecticides and other chemicals to stave off disease. Organic certified tree farms encourage biodiversity and use Integrated Pest Management to mitigate disease, weeds, and pest damage while protecting soil health.

Why You Should Buy An Organic Christmas Tree This Year
Rodale’s Organic Life
by Amy Grisak

Source: Emma Cooper

By avoiding insect sprays, these farms are making your holiday centerpiece even greener.

Christmas trees can be a boon to the environment, when grown with biodiversity in mind. They provide important habitat for birds and wildlife, reduce erosion, and bolster the local pollinators. All this, and they are a focal point in the festivities throughout the holiday season, says Mark Rohlfs of Santa & Sons Christmas Trees in Philomath, Oregon. Since 1983 his operation focused on using less chemicals, and Rohlfs was an instrumental part in the development of the Socially & Environmentally Responsible Farm (SERF) program in coordination with Landgren at Oregon State University.  Read Full Article »

GMO Drift Renders Organic Crops Uninsurable

December 9th, 2016

Cornucopia’s Take: In an apparent handshake with the biotech industry, the USDA has declared that crop insurance does not cover organic crops contaminated by chemical or GMO drift. Other problems also plague crop insurance programs for organic farmers, as the insurance doesn’t include pesticide contamination in inputs like compost. A good insurance program would pay the organic farmer for the loss incurred. And then the insurer would go after the perpetrator that caused the harm and legally extract from them payment for causing the loss.

Organic crops contaminated by GMO drift not insurable, say feds
Sustainable Food News

Handshake vaxzine
Source: vaXzine

USDA’s Risk Management Agency provides coverage for certified-organic acreage and acreage transitioning to organic

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday released an Organic Farming Practices Fact Sheet, which said organic crop production losses due to contamination by drift of prohibited substances, such as genetically engineered crops like corn and soy, are not insurable.

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) said it “continues to move forward in improving crop insurance coverage for organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production to make viable and effective risk management options available. Read Full Article »

Grocery Manufacturers Association Fined $18 Million

December 8th, 2016

Cornucopia’s Take: The GMO labeling initiative in Washington was narrowly defeated in 2013, assisted by massive infusions of money from anti-labeling companies, laundered by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). A judge imposed a historic fine on the GMA for violating campaign finance laws.  It is most unfortunate that the GMA’s lawless behavior tipped the balance against the people’s voice.  The fine for them is merely a cost of doing business.

$18 million GMO fine: A victory too late
by Praphanit Doowa and Joe Copeland

GMAThree years ago, corporate interests intent on defeating a state initiative to require labeling of GMO grocery products resorted to tactics that recently brought the largest penalty in U.S. history for campaign finance violations. Even so, the initiative almost passed.

But there’s no prospect for another try in Washington state: Congress — largely acting at the behest of chemical and food companies and agricultural interests — passed a law forbidding any state or local regulation of labeling for genetically engineered ingredients.

The 2013 Washington measure, Initiative 522, was defeated in a close election, 51 to 49 percent of the vote. The Grocery Manufacturers Association spent some $11 million to dissuade voters from supporting I-522, with much of the money secretly coming from companies like Pepsico, Coca-Cola, General Mills and General Foods. Roughly another $11 million also poured in from agricultural groups to oppose the initiative, which was showing two-thirds support in polling about a month before the election. Read Full Article »

Good Food in Oakland Schools

December 8th, 2016

Cornucopia’s Take: Cornucopia supports farm-to-school programs which help local farmers, keep carbon footprints smaller, and offer children fresh and healthy meal options.

Fresh approach with farm-to-school meals in Oakland
San Francisco Chronicle
by Tara Duggan

Source: USDA

Getting a 5-year-old to try a bowl of very green tabbouleh salad isn’t always easy. But kindergartner Jera Flenaugh was game to taste the chopped parsley, tomato and bulgur dish during lunch at Glenview Elementary in Oakland last week.

“It tastes like not-hot salsa,” said Jera, her smile missing a front tooth as she put a sticker under the “Loved it” column on a poster set up in the cafeteria to tally student votes. “It was awesome.”

Conducted once a week, these taste tests are part of what makes the Oakland Unified School District a national model for farm-fresh school food. Up to 80 percent of the produce it serves comes from nearby farms, and some of its pasta and meat brands are commonly seen on Whole Foods shelves. As a sign of its commitment, the Oakland school board is now expected to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Policy, which is basically a pledge to buy fresh, healthy and sustainable food. Read Full Article »

Enroll Your Vulnerable Grasslands by December 16

December 7th, 2016

Cornucopia’s Take: In an effort to prevent vulnerable grasslands from being developed or converted into cropland, the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands Initiative has worked with farmers to enroll over 600,000 U.S. grazing acres. This program benefits diversity.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Source: USDA

At the end of just its second sign up period, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands Initiative has enrolled over 600,000 acres of vulnerable grazing land across the country. Strong support for the Grasslands Initiative so early on is a positive sign, but high variability in participation amongst the states with the highest grasslands losses indicates that more outreach may be needed.

Farmers and ranchers enrolled roughly 101,000 acres during the first sign up period and nearly 505,000 acres during the second sign up. The third sign up period is ongoing until December 16. Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
Ph: 608-625-2000