Media/News Archive

The Dairy Crisis Continues to Deepen

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: Wisconsin lost nearly two dairies a day in 2018, most of them family farms. As factory farm “organic” dairies continue to grow their operations, ethical organic farmers continue to lose their footholds as well. Use Cornucopia’s Dairy Scorecard to choose the best milk, cheese, butter, and other dairy products for your loved ones. Your dollars count!

Dairy farmers are in crisis — and it could change Wisconsin forever
USA Today
Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Farmers cling to a dream that, for some, has become a nightmare.

Source: Digital Photography Hobbyist

There was a time when the soft glow of barn lights dotted Wisconsin’s rural landscape like stars in a constellation, connecting families who labored into the night milking cows, feeding calves and finishing chores.

Hundreds of those barns are dark now, the cows gone, the hum of milking machines silenced.

“All of our neighbors are done,” said Sue Spaulding, a dairy farmer near Shell Lake, in Washburn County.

She and her husband, Chuck, soldier on, milking about 60 cows on their 300-acre farm that Chuck bought when he was only 17.

Seven years ago, the Spauldings borrowed heavily to modernize their barn and position things for the future.

“It looked good on paper,” Sue said. Read Full Article »

Four Cash Crops Take Up Half of Global Farmland

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: Although more kinds of crops are now grown than in the 1970s, almost half of all farmland in the world  currently produces wheat, corn, soy, or rice. Monocultures are notoriously vulnerable to pests, disease, and increasingly wild swings in precipitation and temperature. Biodiversity improves the resilience of the ecosystem as a whole and is foundational to regenerative and organic agriculture.

Global crops are growing more diverse, but just a few still dominate our food system
Anthropocene Magazine
by Emma Bryce

Source: Phil Roeder, Flickr

Global agriculture is increasingly dominated by just a handful of crops with limited genetic richness, says a group of researchers writing in PLOS One.

The research shows that despite an uptick in the diversity of crops grown across the planet over the last 60 years, the largest share of our crops worldwide is now made up of just a few types of plants. As an example, [four] of these particularly dominant crops–wheat, maize, soya, and rice–now take up almost 50% of the farmland on earth.

The researchers, from the University of Toronto in Canada, combined data on 161 plant groups, across 22 subcontinental regions, taken from the six decades between 1961 and 2014. The period they examined kicked off with very little change in crop diversity between 1960 and the late 1970s, but then a period of rapid diversification in the 1980s as agriculture industrialised. This period reflected a rapid surge in the number of crops being grown around the planet, though there were some large regional differences. For instance, in Central America farmers added 30 new crop species to their repertoire between 1961 and 2014, compared to Polynesia’s one.

But crucially, this period of abundance in the 1980s was also when just a few crop species began to rise to the top–mainly cash crops–and start dominating global agriculture. The researchers found that part of the reason for this was agricultural subsidies for specific cash crops like wheat and soya beans began to support their expansion during this era. Read Full Article »

Real Organic Project Symposium, March 2 at Dartmouth College

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Cornucopia’s colleagues at the Real Organic Project are hosting a symposium at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire on March 2.

You will hear many passionate speakers from across the fields of farming, policy, science, and activism offer their takeaways and ideas for action regarding the many challenges and opportunities facing organic farmers today.

TED-style talks will be offered by farmers Jean-Paul Courtens, Emily Oakley, Paul Muller of Full Belly Farm, Francis Thicke of Radiance Dairy, Dave Chapman, and many others. Eliot Coleman and author Anne Biklé are keynote speakers. Eliot will describe 50 years of organic farming at Four Seasons Farm and why real organic is important to all of us. Anne will talk about the powerful connection between soil health and human health.

This day-long symposium will be held at Filene Auditorium at Dartmouth College from 9 am to 5:00 pm.

The $25 ticket price includes a delicious lunch and refreshments.
Purchase tickets online.

You can find further information on Facebook. Read Full Article »

Dropping Flies: Over 30% of Insects Now Endangered

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: Insect mass is declining by 2.5% annually. They pollinate plants, recycle waste, and provide food for many species, and humans cannot live without their various ecosystem services. More insects can be observed on organic farms than conventional or GMO farms. Deforestation, pesticide use, and other changes to ecosystems are thought to be major contributors to the catastrophic species loss.

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’
The Guardian
by Damian Carrington

Source: LadyDragonflyCC, Flickr

Exclusive: Insects could vanish within a century at current rate of decline, says global review

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients. Read Full Article »

New Research Analysis Finds Glyphosate Linked to Cancer

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: According to a new meta-analysis, people with prolonged or high-level exposure to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup) are 41% more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The study’s authors focused on the most extreme cases of glyphosate exposure, reasoning that those would be the most likely individuals to develop cancer if glyphosate is a factor. The EPA continues to assert that the herbicide is safe when applied per Bayer/Monsanto’s instruction. Glyphosate is prohibited from use in organic agriculture.

Weedkiller ‘raises risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41%’
The Guardian
by Carey Gillam

Study says evidence ‘supports link’ between exposure to glyphosate and increased risk

Source: Alex Proimos, Flickr

A broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weedkilling products in the world, has found that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The evidence “supports a compelling link” between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the authors concluded, though they said the specific numerical risk estimates should be interpreted with caution.

The findings by five US scientists contradict the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) assurances of safety over the weed killer and come as regulators in several countries consider limiting the use of glyphosate-based products in farming. Read Full Article »