Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lauren's Farm and Food Roundup

Lauren

Here’s the latest on the controversy revolving around the Keystone XL Pipeline that would transport tar sands from Canada to the U.S., cutting through farmland and passing dangerously close to the Ogallala Aquifer. While President Obama has said he will not make a decision until the end of the year, opponents and advocates alike have been throwing their weight around in an effort to tip the scales in their favor.

The FDA announced on Wednesday that the deadly Listeria outbreak was likely due to pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment at a Colorado farm’s cantaloupe packing facility. The equipment had previously been used at a potato-processing facility, and the bacteria could have been introduced from the past use of the machine. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says 123 people were sickened in the outbreak including the 25 who died.

The African Cocoa Initiative, a proposal to invest in sustainable cocoa programs in West Africa, will be launched in the coming weeks.  Cocoa is one of the most significant crops in West and Central Africa, 90 percent of which is grown on 2 million small family farms. Funding will go toward improving farmer incomes, alleviating poverty, strengthening government and regional institutions, and helping to advance food security throughout the region.

In response to the discovery of the disease Infectious Salmon Anemia in wild salmon off the coast of British Columbia (a previously benign disease that mutated and ran rampant through densely-packed farmed salmon populations), Paul Greenburg explains the options for preventing farmed fish from spreading disease to wild fish populations.

Lawmakers are calling for the end of the direct payment program, a subsidy that was created in 1996 to wean farmers off of government support. Unfortunately, it appears that most of the money “saved” by doing so will go towards a new subsidy that will continue to benefit commodity farmers.

In that same vein, would ridding our food system of subsidies actually make it healthier? Civil Eats blog reviews the history of government supported agriculture and explains why throwing it out won’t miraculously make zucchini cheaper than donuts.

And word is spreading that the congressional "super committee," deciding where to find $1.5 trillion in savings over the next ten years, may also decide the fate of the next Farm Bill.

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