Family farmers need livestock market reforms
The economic survival of family farmers and ranchers in California and throughout rural America depends, however, on access to markets for their crops and livestock that are based on fair competition – a fair shot for ordinary folks who work hard and do a good job. Unfortunately, livestock markets don’t work that way anymore. John Crabtree writes in Open Forum, San Francisco Chronicle.
Farmers to Obama: What’s holding up GIPSA?
After waiting decades for enforcement of anti-trust laws in the livestock market, farmers are waiting – again. This time, it’s for the proposed Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration, or GIPSA, rules that proponents say will level the playing field for livestock and poultry producers by making markets more competitive and fair. That’s why farmers and family farm groups from across the nation flooded the White House information line this week with calls urging the Obama Administration to put the rules into action. Independent Review, Litchfield, Minnesota story.
Has ‘local’ become as meaningless as ‘natural’?
For a couple of years now we’ve been told that local is the new organic, the next fad for the ethically-minded food shopper. And, hey, it’s true! How do I know? Because the supermarkets have got hold of the idea. Sales of “local” foods and drinks are up 30% at Tesco, 41% at Asda. “Local” is as big as fish now, says Asda. The store is “very proud” to be stocking 6,500 “local” lines. “Local” badly needs those inverted commas. It is yet another of those homely epithets – like “natural”, “fresh” and “farmhouse” – that the food industry takes and abuses as it pleases. Asda’s spokesperson was asked to define the term by BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today yesterday – “Something that is relevant to the customer in that particular store,” he said. Guardian UK story.
Local labels on many foods are false, study suggests
Almost a fifth of foods labelled “local” in England and Wales are making the claim falsely, a study suggests. Local Government Regulation inspectors tested 558 items in 300 shops, restaurants, markets and factories. They found misleading labels including “Welsh lamb” which actually came from New Zealand, “Somerset butter” from Scotland and “Devon ham” from Denmark. The LGR said 18% of the local claims were “undoubtedly false”, with a further 14% unverifiable. BBC News story.
Walmart’s Seal of Approval: What Industry Won’t Do
How could it be otherwise? Everything the country’s largest retailer does, and particularly its history with unions and labor, is controversial. Its responsibility is to shareholders, not the public good; if it’s doing anything “good,” that’s just a way to pressure the First Lady to show up at a press conference it sponsors, winning it an avalanche of good press with the very communities it ruthlessly exploits. As for local produce, if you think it has any intention of supporting small farmers, ask all the small businesses it has driven into bankruptcy—if there are any left to ask. The cynicism is as understandable as it is inevitable. But it’s important to keep an eye on the effect any action by Walmart can have. The Atlantic article.
Cultivating Resilience: A Food System Blueprint that Advances the Health of Iowans, Farms and Communities
The report is the result of multi-disciplinary efforts including food system stakeholders across Iowa engaged in conversations about the future of food. The objective of the Iowa Food System Blueprint is to measure the resilience and health of Iowa’s food system through a report card leading to recommendations for research, programs and policies to ensure a food system that supports healthier Iowans, communities, economies, and the environment. The Iowa Food System Blueprint has two parts: Report card on the health of Iowa’s food system; and Recommendations for Iowa’s food system. Report (2.2 MB PDF). Executive Summary (7.8 MB PDF).
How might robotics and sensing technologies be used in support of local small-scale agriculture? How can design play a role in shifting us towards more sustainable modes of agriculture? What kinds of products, services and systems would need to be designed and engineered to enable that shift? How will technologies of automation and monitoring need to be refigured for these contexts – if indeed they are still at all useful? The growBot garden project explores these questions by bringing together designers, artists, farmers and other food producers. Website.
Real Time Farms Launching More Robust Food Information Platform
Real Time Farms is a web platform that uses crowdsourcing to help you “connect the dots of your food web” and understand where your food is coming from. It’s no secret that truly understanding the full social, environmental, and health implications of any given food is a nearly impossible feat for any one person to undertake. Information technology, however, offers unique opportunities for collecting the disparate pieces of information that in aggregate begin to provide a better picture of these implications. This week, Real Time Farms launches their newly designed site, which takes us one step closer to understanding real-time information about farms, food artisans, and farmers markets. Website.
Northeast Indiana group Sets Milestone on Farmland Easements
One of the tools used to protect farmland from Ohio east is the farmland easement. Some states and counties even have programs that contribute financially to make sure certain parcels will never be developed and will always remain as farmland. Annie Sanders recently worked with Wood-Land-Lakes to preserve her wooded land in LsGrange County. Her goal is to see the family farm protected from further subdivision and from the building of additional residential structures. That’s a reason which motivates many landowners to seek entry into this type of program. Indiana Prairie Farmer story.
The future of rural development policy, EU
“Climate change, resource efficiency and territorial balance are high up on the agenda in the EU. All these issues, and many more, are addressed by the rural development policy, the so-called 2nd pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). With 20% of the CAP budget, rural development works alongside the 1st pillar (direct payments and market instruments) to support sustainable agriculture and dynamic rural areas across the EU.” Agricultural Policy Perspectives Briefs January 2011.
AND IF YOU HAVE TIME
Year of the Locavore | Facebook
Founded January 1, 2011
Location Port Macquarie, Australia
About Kim Honan is eating her way through 2011 one local ingredient at a time. Her year long challenge follows four years of locavoring across each month of September.