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.
Cornucopia’s Take: Field workers born in the U.S. are a rarity, and it will be difficult to replace undocumented immigrant labor currently being squelched by the Trump administration and increasing industrialization in Mexico. Organic farms require more hand labor than conventional farms, and, as farm labor becomes more expensive, it remains to be seen what large organic farmers in the West will do.
Born in the U.S.A. and working in the fields — what gives? Los Angeles Times
by Cindy Carcamo
Nicholas Andrew Flores swatted at the flies orbiting his sweat-drenched face as he picked alongside a crew of immigrants through a cantaloupe field in California’s Central Valley.
The 21-year-old didn’t speak Spanish, but he understood the essential words the foreman barked out: Puro amarillo. And rapido, rapido! Quickly, Flores picked only yellow melons and flung them onto a moving platform.
It was hard and repetitive work, and there were days under the searing sun that Flores regretted not going to a four-year college. But he liked that to get the job he just had to “show up.” And at $12 an hour, it paid better than slinging fast food.
For Joe Del Bosque of Del Bosque Farms in the San Joaquin Valley, American-born pickers like Flores, though rare, are always welcome. Read Full Article »
Cornucopia’s Take: Following a ripple of response from cities across the state to rising regulatory and scientific scrutiny of glyphosate and neonicotinoids, Carlsbad, California has now also voted to rely first on organic pesticides and herbicides to tend city property and school athletic fields, in response to resident safety concerns. Councilmembers have chosen voted unanimously to spend more money on organic pest control in the interest of public health.
Roundup, the most widely used chemical pesticide in the world, will no longer be the weed killer of choice in Carlsbad.
The city earlier this month became the first in the county to adopt a policy that makes organic pesticides the preferred method for getting rid of weeds, bugs and rodents on hundreds of acres of city property and school athletic fields.
Urged by residents worried about the use of toxic chemicals, the City Council unanimously agreed to phase in the new policy over the next year as part of an update of Carlsbad’s integrated pest management plan. The plan was last updated in 2003.
“We will stress the use of organics first,” city Parks Services Manager Kyle Lancaster told the council, though he said other solutions could be necessary for persistent problems. “It does not prevent us from using chemicals, if necessary.” Read Full Article »
USDA Should Enact the Proposed Rule Improving Enforcement of Organic Livestock and Poultry Living Conditions
Don’t Let Factory Livestock Interests Undermine the Organic Label
Screened-in Porch as “Outdoor Access”
The USDA recently announced its intent to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule (OLPP) from the National Organic Program. This move comes after successive delays by the agency and in spite of massive public comment in favor of implementing the rule.
Help protect the integrity of the public organic rulemaking process by submitting your comments decrying this unprecedented move by the USDA.
By the USDA’s own account, they received over 47,000 comments when the agency asked whether they should implement, delay, suspend, or withdraw the OLPP as submitted. Over 40,000 commenters supported the option to implement the OLPP as planned. In striking contrast, only 28 commenters supported the option to withdraw the rule (presumably representing corporate agribusiness interests).
What is at stake? The OLPP would require a set amount of outdoor space for poultry and improves some management practices for all livestock under the organic label. Most importantly, the OLPP would close a loophole allowing some factory farms to use small screened-in porches as “outdoor access” for laying hens. These industrial “organic” farms confine as many as 200,000 birds in a single building. Read Full Article »
Cornucopia’s Take: Wealthy investors have been purchasing productive land over the last decade, seeking to protect their assets from the volatility of the marketplace. This land grab has driven the price per acre ever higher, making land ownership even more expensive, if not impossible, for most beginning farmers.
The federal government is by far the nation’s biggest land owner, holding 640 million acres of purple mountains, fruited plains and amber waves of grain in the name of the American public.
But over the past decade, the nation’s wealthiest private landowners have been laying claim to ever-larger tracts of the countryside, according to data compiled by the Land Report, a magazine about land ownership in America.
In 2007, according to the Land Report, the nation’s 100 largest private landowners owned a combined 27 million acres of land — equivalent to the area of Maine and New Hampshire combined.
A decade later, the 100 largest landowners have holdings of 40.2 million acres, an increase of nearly 50 percent. Their holdings are equivalent in area to the entirety of New England, minus Vermont. Read Full Article »
A big thank you from the staff and leadership at The Cornucopia Institute for the outpouring of support (dollars, comments, and notes) during December. Your confidence in our work really means a lot to us!
We are happy to report that we were able to completely utilize the $50,000 matching grant contributed, for the second year in a row, by a family foundation that had requested anonymity.
There are still checks coming in through the mail, postmarked prior to the end of the year, so we don’t have a final accounting for 2017 yet. We again expect that we will end 2017 in the black, as we have always done during our 14-year history. We now move into 2018 with adequate funding to maintain our expert staff and an ambitious array of projects that we hope will benefit our broad-based constituency and society as a whole.
We couldn’t do this work without your partnership, both our farmer-members and their urban allies.
Thank you for trusting us with something as important as helping protect the authenticity of our food supply, the hard-working families who produce it, and marketplace options, so we can all proactively steward the earth through our purchasing decisions.