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.

Known Health Concerns About Glyphosate, the Main Ingredient in Roundup

January 23rd, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: Use of the herbicide glyphosate has skyrocketed around the world since the introduction of crops genetically engineered to be Roundup Ready (resistant) in 1996. While the EPA insists that glyphosate does not cause cancer in humans, some research reviews have come to different findings. U.S. Right to Know seeks transparency in the food system, and the article below catalogs the science and the politics of glyphosate safety studies.


Glyphosate: Health Concerns About the Most Widely Used Pesticide
U.S. Right to Know
by Stacy Malkan

Source: NRCS, Tim McCabe

Glyphosate, a synthetic herbicide patented in 1974 by the Monsanto Company and now manufactured and sold by many companies in hundreds of products around the world, has been associated with various health concerns. Glyphosate is best known as the active ingredient in Roundup-branded herbicides, and the herbicide used with “Roundup Ready” genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Herbicide tolerance is the most prevalent GMO trait engineered into food crops, with some 90% of corn and 94% of soybeans in the U.S. engineered to tolerate herbicides, according to USDA data. A 2017 study found that Americans’ exposure to glyphosate increased approximately 500 percent since Roundup Ready GMO crops were introduced in the U.S in 1996. Here are some key facts about glyphosate:

Most Widely Used Pesticide

According to a February 2016 study, glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide. “In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use,” according to the study. Read Full Article »

Organic Accounts for 14% of Money Spent in the Produce Aisle

January 22nd, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: According to Neilsen data, organic produce sales continue to grow at a much faster pace than conventional produce sales. Neilsen posits that “mindful moms”—those seeking the best and safest food for their children and families—are driving the continued upswing in organic food purchasing.


Retail View: Data show that organics still thriving
The Produce News
by Tim Linden

Scan data at the nation’s supermarkets show that organic produce sales continue to outperform their conventional counterpart and now represent 14 percent of all dollar sales in the produce department.

Source: Northwest Retail, Flickr

This nugget of information was provided by Nielsen Vice President Brian Lechner at the mid-December Organic Grower Summit in Monterey, CA. He and Organic Trade Association Chief Executive Officer Laura Batcha talked about both the numbers and consumer attitudes during a breakout session at that meeting.

Lechner said growth in the organic produce category is outpacing conventional produce growth by a factor of five to seven times. “Organics are still a very strong trend compared to conventional,” he said, even if they aren’t keeping up the torrid double-digit pace that has been in play for most years of this century.

He added that while organic product sales are increasing throughout the store, they continue to be led by gains in the produce department. One exception is the baby food aisle, where it now accounts for more than a quarter of all sales in that category.

That makes perfect sense to Lechner, who noted that the “mindful mom” is driving the gains in organic sales. He defined that demographic as female heads of households with a college degree who live in urban environments and have kids at home younger than six. That group fueled organic sales in the baby food sector, and as their kids age moms are buying organics in the produce department as well. Read Full Article »

Farmer Loans On Hold Until the Federal Government Re-Opens

January 17th, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: Many farmers have lost opportunities or remain uncertain as to how they will get needed loans for the upcoming growing season with USDA FSA offices closed during the shutdown. Secretary Perdue announced that offices will be open January 17, 18, and 22 to producers with existing loans only.


Farm Country Stood by Trump. But the Shutdown Is Pushing It to Breaking Point.
The New York Times
by Jack Healy and Tyler Pager

Source: www.SeniorLiving.Org, Flickr

In Georgia, a pecan farmer lost out on his chance to buy his first orchard. The local Farm Service Agency office that would have processed his loan application was shut down.

In Wisconsin’s dairy country, a 55-year-old woman sat inside her new dream home, worried she would not be able to pay her mortgage. Her loan had come from an Agriculture Department program for low-income residents in rural areas, but all of the account information she needed to make her first payment was locked away in an empty government office.

And in upstate New York, Pam Moore was feeding hay to her black-and-white cows at a small dairy that tottered on the brink of ruin. She and her husband had run up $350,000 in debt to keep the dairy running after 31 of their cows died of pneumonia, and their last lifeline was an emergency federal farm loan. But the money had been derailed by the government shutdown.

“It has just been one thing after another, after another, after another,” Ms. Moore, 57, said. Read Full Article »

USDA FSA Offices Open Temporarily During Shutdown on January 17, 18, and 22

January 17th, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: Producers with existing farm loans who need assistance or 1099s for taxes have three days to get help during the federal government shutdown. Share this story with farmers you know!


USDA FSA offices temporarily reopen during government shutdown
Feedstuffs.com

Offices will be open Jan. 17, 18 and 22 to assist producers with existing farm loans and provide 1099 tax documents to borrowers.

USDA Secretary Perdue

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Jan. 16 that many Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will reopen temporarily in the coming days to perform certain limited services for farmers and ranchers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recalled about 2,500 FSA employees to open offices on Jan. 17-18, in addition to Jan. 22, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 21.

In almost half of FSA locations, staff will be available to assist agricultural producers with existing farm loans and to ensure that the agency provides 1099 tax documents to borrowers by the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline. Read Full Article »

Organic Advocacy Groups File Legal Action to Prohibit Hydroponics from Organic

January 16th, 2019

[Read the rulemaking petition to the USDA.]

Healthy Soils are a Legal Requirement of Organic Production
Soil-less “Organic” Systems are Misleading to Consumers, Undercut Farmers

Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a new legal action demanding the Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibit hydroponic operations from the organic label. Hydroponic production systems—a catch-all term that applies to food production methods that do not use soil—do not meet federal organic standards and violate organic law, which requires that organic farming include soil improvement and biodiversity conservation. Hydroponic systems cannot comply with the organic standard’s vital soil standards because hydroponic crops do not use soil at all. The CFS filing was endorsed by over a dozen other organic farmer, consumer, retailer, and certifying organizations, including the Organic Farmers Association, Northwest Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA), PCC Community Markets, and the Cornucopia Institute.

Source: Adobe Stock

“Mislabeling mega-hydroponic operations as ‘organic’ is contrary to the text and basic principles of the organic standard. Right now there is a pitched battle for the future of organic, and we stand with organic farmers and consumers who believe the label must retain its integrity,” said George Kimbrell, CFS legal director.

Consumers trust the organic label and pay extra for the assurance that it indicates a more healthful and environmentally-friendly way of producing the food they buy. Since the federal Certified Organic label was introduced more than twenty years ago, the organic food market has grown exponentially and is now a $60 billion industry in which multinational corporations have bought organic brands and compete with small food producers growing food using environmentally-friendly methods.

“Allowing hydroponic systems to be certified as organic undercuts the livelihood of organic farmers that take great lengths to support healthy soil as the bedrock of their farms,” stated Kate Mendenhall of the Organic Farmers Association. “Hydroponic producers getting the benefit of the organic label without actually doing anything to benefit the soil undermines the standard and put all soil-based organic farmers at an untenable economic disadvantage.” Read Full Article »

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