Opinion/Editorial Archive

Agroecology Brings Innovation and Sustainability to Farms Worldwide

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Grassroots movements to improve soil health, increase biodiversity, and take legitimate stock of the true and terrible costs of chemical-based, industrial farming are spreading around the globe. Governments in India, Africa, and Europe are funding farmers’ use of agroecological principles as well. Cornucopia applauds the scientific and practical innovations of sustainable farmers everywhere.

Bringing Farming Back to Nature
The New York Times
by Daniel Moss and Mark Bittman

Source: National Agroforestry Center

Farming the land as if nature doesn’t matter has been the model for much of the Western world’s food production system for at least the past 75 years. The results haven’t been pretty: depleted soil, chemically fouled waters, true family farms all but eliminated, a worsening of public health and more. But an approach that combines innovation and tradition has emerged, one that could transform the way we grow food. It’s called agroecology, and it places ecological science at the center of agriculture. It’s a scrappy movement that’s taking off globally.

Representatives of more than 70 countries gathered in Rome recently to discuss this approach to creating a healthier and more sustainable food system. (We were there.) It was an invigorating and encouraging gathering, made more so when José Graziano da Silva, the director general of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, called for “transformative change toward sustainable agriculture and food systems based on agroecology.” Read Full Article »

Aurora Dairy: Destroying the Environment = THAT’S NOT ORGANIC!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

It’s bad enough that the only legal obligations corporations have are to their shareholders and investors. Many companies and brands talk a good game when it comes to “sustainability” practices, but, as this commentary illustrates, their very model is destructive.

In the case of Aurora, not only will they have semi-trailers worth of raw milk coming in from Texas and Colorado (where their corporate-owned mega-dairies are located), they will be shipping truckloads full of packaged milk, from Columbia, Missouri, to Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine — undercutting the livelihoods of family-scale dairy farmers around the country and their regional processing/marketing partners who deliver to stores within a couple hundred miles rather than thousands.

Aurora’s entire model, in terms of environmental stewardship, is anything but “organic.” It is a gross betrayal to the values of the farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers who have built the organic movement (which Aurora and its investors are all too happy to exploit).

– Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst

KEN MIDKIFF: Aurora Organic Dairy an example of unintended consequences
The Missourian
by Ken Midkiff

Source: Taber Andrew Bain

President Dwight Eisenhower was responsible for creating the Interstate Highway System. He did it to expedite troop movements. Recently, we traveled on Interstate 70 and Interstate 25 to and from Fort Collins, Colorado. We saw absolutely no military vehicles. Instead, there were many 18-wheel trucks and even more passenger cars and SUVs.

What President Eisenhower did was create a system that enables civilian travel and has little or nothing to do with troop movements. His unintended consequence in creating the Interstate Highway System for the military inadvertently benefited the military very little and benefited commercial and non-commercial travel considerably. Also unintended was the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions from all those cars and trucks.

Such is the case locally. The Regional Economic Development Inc. folks worked for months to bring a processing plant for Aurora Organic Dairy here, and there is little doubt that construction jobs were created and, when the plant is fully operational, other high-paying jobs (the company says 100) will exist. Read Full Article »

Organic Cattle Farmer Speaks Out on Antibiotics

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Although the FDA banned the use of antibiotics solely as a growth-promoter for livestock in 2017, the agency did not establish any real tracking of antibiotic use by ranchers. The FDA rule also allows veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics for disease prevention, even when no animals in the herd are ill. Overuse of antibiotics in the food system has resulted in antibiotic-resistant disease and may contribute to poor digestive health in humans.

Antibiotics in Meat Could Be Damaging Our Guts
The New York Times
by William D. Cohan

The F.D.A. banned the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in animals last year. One organic cattle farmer is sure the ban is being flouted.

Source: Chris Murphy

In 2015, Sandy Lewis, a small-time organic cattle farmer in upstate New York, bought 13 bulls, for around $5,000 each, from a breeder in Oklahoma. A few weeks after the animals were trucked to his farm near the Vermont border, Mr. Lewis discovered that two of the bulls had died. He could see holes in their abdomens from where they had gored one other.

A field autopsy proved inconclusive. When two more bulls among the new herd fell sick, Mr. Lewis shipped them off to Cornell University to be examined. One died along the way, but a blood test on the living bull provided the answer: It had anaplasmosis, a bacterial illness that destroys red blood cells and deprives the animals of oxygen, causing them at times to act violently. The disease is relatively rare in the Northeast, yet a quarter of Mr. Lewis’s herd ended up becoming infected. He lost another six animals to the disease and spent more than $100,000 trying to save the rest. Ultimately, another 100 animals had to be culled. Read Full Article »

Farmland Conservation Practices Prevent Soil Erosion

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: As markets drop, many farmers are plowing new fields to increase harvests, sometimes removing old windbreaks to do so. Shifting weather patterns present further challenges. The proposed Farm Bill would cut conservation funds, removing incentives for farmers to take much-needed steps to prevent wholesale soil erosion.

When the dust settles, farmers focus on land stewardship
Center for Rural Affairs
by Cora Fox

Source: Shutterstock

In recent past, the Great Plains has experienced extreme weather conditions. Most recently, we witnessed very high winds combined with dry conditions, resulting in dust clouds reminiscent of the 1930s.

With a challenging agricultural economy, partnered with changes in land values, larger equipment, and farming practices, many farmers and ranchers are removing windbreaks. Budgets are tight and producers are trying to maximize use of the land, but risk the loss of valuable topsoil. Windbreaks can be used to control soil erosion by wind and water, enhance crop production, and protect livestock. Read Full Article »

Small Organic Dairy Farmer Speaks Out

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: As “organic” factory dairies flood the market with their questionable version of “organic” milk, real organic milk prices are tanking too. Wisconsin organic dairy farmer, Jim Goodman, shares his thoughts below. Cornucopia offers a dairy scorecard to help shoppers choose truly organic dairy from truly organic farmers.

Retailers Want to Own Farmers – CAFOs Fill the Bill
National Family Farm Coalition
by Jim Goodman

Jim and Rebecca Goodman

As dairy farmers have seen many times in the past, a glut of milk has flooded the market and dropped farm pay prices to the point that some farmers will be forced out of business. Generally it is the smaller farmers that go first. For them, credit, to try and ride out the storm, is harder to come by.

CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operation) seem to be the preferred method of dairy production in the US. Processors and retailers like the model, sort of a one shop stop to get as much milk as you need. Consistent volume of production pretty much year round makes sourcing easy an no pesky farmer co-ops complaining about low prices need be involved.

I personally never thought the CAFO model would show up in the organic dairy business, at least in my lifetime. Sadly I was very wrong. Read Full Article »