Thursday, September 06, 2012

Francisca's Farm & Food Roundup

FranciscaHurricane Isaac delivered three to five inches of rain to the Corn Belt. For some farmers, the rain will nourish maturing soybean plants, help sow winter wheat and replenish pastures. Unfortunately, Isaac did not reach Plains states like Kansas and Nebraska. Many farmers and researchers remain unsure about the benefits of Isaac's rains. It will take weeks to measure long term effects.

In Greeley, Colorado, farmers and ranchers are competing with oil and gas conglomerates for water rights. The companies can use up to five million gallons of water to force stores of oil and gas from the land. Industry officials obtain court approval to buy water rights from farmers and to lease surplus water from cities. Farmers and environmentalists are worried that the oil and gas tycoons now have an unfair monopoly on water supplies. Farmers and ranchers pay $30 for an acre-foot of water while oil and gas companies are willing to shell out up to $2,000 for the same amount of water.

Thirty-nine farm groups have formed a coalition called Farm Bill Now. The coalition includes: livestock, dairy, specialty corps; state and local governments; farm cooperatives, financial groups and many more. The partner groups explain that the farm bill is in the interest of the whole nation and other countries that depend on agriculture imports from the U.S. They made a point to remind the public that 1 in every 12 jobs are funded by the agriculture industry. The groups are also urging the public to speak to members of their Congressional delegation about passing the 2012 Farm Bill.

A recent study conducted at Stanford University states that there is no significant nutritional difference between organic and conventional food. Many natives of Portland, Maine believe that the study asks the wrong questions. They buy organic for fewer pesticides and in support of environmentally friendly practices. Other supporters of organic food fault the Stanford study for its exclusion of empirical data from the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Verde Gardens Farm Program has helped decrease the unemployment rate and homeless population in Miami-Dade County. The program employs homeless families to work on Verde Gardens. The farm only works with families that have at least one disabled member. In 1996, there were 8,000 homeless people in Miami-Dade. In August of 2012, officials counted 882 homeless on the streets.

The United Nations food agencies have advised world leaders to curb the rising prices of corn, wheat and soybean. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported a six percent increase in global prices. If prices continue to rise, a repeat of the 2007-2008 food crises is a likely outcome. The UN advised against import restrictions, but recommended that countries adjust biofuel production requirements once food supplies start to decrease. The UN agencies also released a statement urging poorer countries to: expand assistance to small farmers; provide nutrition programs for mothers and children; and invest in sustainable food production.

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