Friday, November 04, 2011

Lauren's Farm and Food Roundup

LaurenAn interactive graphic from Scientific American depicts estimations of when minerals, water, energy sources and plant and animal species will be exhausted if humanity continues on its current trajectory.

Back in August, the historic Texas drought had caused $5.3 billion in losses in the agricultural sector. We have already seen impacts in global commodities like cotton and beef. With projections that the drought could last until next summer or longer, it is becoming increasingly apparent that extreme weather patterns are a global issue.

Eddie Miller will mow your lawn. Well, his sheep will. For a fee, he’ll rent out his herd to Ohio residents for a few hours to a few days to keep grass and weeds at bay. Free food for the sheep and a zero carbon emission trim for the lawn. I’ll “baa” to that.

According to a study by the Center for Food Integrity (CFI), consumers appear to be losing faith in “Big Food.” In one piece of the study, CFI tested the difference in consumer attitudes toward two farming styles and found that, while consumers by and large thought family farmers shared their values, they believed corporate farms did not. Rock on, family farmers!

Seeking to increase opportunities for the young farmer demographic, the bipartisan Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011 has been introduced in the House. An identical bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate in early November. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), the bill addresses many of the barriers that prevent young people from pursuing agriculture, such as limited access to land and markets, high input costs and a lacking support system.

The U.S. Supreme Court has taken up a case concerning how the pork industry is required to handle "nonambulatory pigs" – pigs unwilling or unable to walk when they arrive at a slaughterhouse. In California, under the current law (the subject of dispute), they are required to remove such animals and humanely euthanize them out of concern that they might be sick and taint other meat during processing. Federal law, however, does not stipulate that non-ambulatory animals cannot be slaughtered and introduced to the food system. The meat associations want the California law struck down.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) reached an agreement this week to withdraw a controversial dairy labeling rule. In 2008, the State of Ohio issued an emergency regulation to prohibit labeling dairy products as produced without the use of the artificial growth hormone, recombinant bovine Growth Hormone (rbGH). Finally, Ohio dairy farmers have won the right to make sure consumers know their milk doesn't contain rbGH!

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