Thursday, October 04, 2012

Francisca's Farm & Food Roundup

FranciscaNinety-five percent of the beef eaten in Hawaii comes from the U.S. mainland. It is more expensive to feed and slaughter cattle in Hawaii than it is to bring the meat in from the mainland. However, a recent movement towards locally grown foods and grass-fed beef has inspired ranchers to process beef in Hawaii. Unfortunately, the 2012 drought and several years of horrible weather have thwarted efforts made by ranchers and farmers. Researchers are now looking into alternative feed that is more affordable and irrigation techniques to keep cattle healthy and in Hawaii.

Drought conditions in the lower 48 states remain relatively unchanged. Some of the U.S.’ major farming states are experiencing worsened weather conditions. Seventy-five percent of Iowa and 98 percent of Nebraska has been designated as extreme or exception drought areas. All counties in Hawaii were declared drought disaster areas.

In Zollikofen, Switzerland, researchers have teamed up with dairy farmer Christian Oesch to test the electronic heat detector. The device implants sensors into cows and notifies farmers via text message when the animals are in heat. Researchers believe that the detector is necessary because of the drop in cow reproductive activity. The implant is expected to cost at least $1,400.

All around the world farmers are downsizing their herds to cope with feed costs. The worldwide mass slaughter of farm animals is expected to increase food prices by 14%. In 2013, all meat products will become more expensive, especially bacon since farmers can more easily cut and rebuild pig herds.

The Christensen Fund published an information graphic that evaluates agroecology (“a scientific discipline that uses ecological theory to study, design, manage and evaluate agricultural systems that are productive but also resource conserving”) and industrial agriculture. The agriculture industry accounts for approximately one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to the infograhic, because agroecology applies ecological principles to the food system, the practice has the potential to reduce agriculture’s contribution to pollution.

In a few weeks, California residents will be voting on Proposition 37. According to a recent poll published by the L.A. Times, 61% of registered voters support the initiative for GMO labeling. The poll was taken before last week’s barrage of anti-labeling advertisements from the opposing side. Since then support has gone down to 56 percent.

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