Awareness Index Up: Climate Change, Farm Workers Exploitation

Coalition of Immokalee Workers' demonstrators, Burger King protest, University of Florida campus, 2007.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have determined that the accelerated increase in atmospheric nitrous oxide in the last few decades has been caused by synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use. In other words, The Science has spoken again, and established beyond the shadow of any remaining doubt that industrial farming is linked to climate change, that it is a major culprit in the global warming trend. Read more on Grist. Then sign this petition to demand the gradual conversion of farmland to agroecology, a form of agriculture that — among many good things — forfeits chemical inputs.

Now, here is a great article from Civil Eats about the work and progress made on the farm labor front in America. I’ve long been fascinated by the seeming blindness of “responsible” consumers who look for the “fair trade” logo on imported products but don’t have a thought for those who grow and produce their food at home. As awareness grows, change is definitely in the air. The inequalities inherited from the New Deal era legislation are moving frontstage, and farm workers are mobilizing and gaining support.

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Grow Them Out! (or how to save cultivated biodiversity)

Photo credit: ellenm1

Jim Richardson is no scientist. He’s a National Geographic photographer. As such, he got to work on one of the most fascinating, relevant, crucial stories of our times: the preservation of seeds and heirloom animal breeds.

The great thing about lay people is that they speak a language that you and I can understand. “Agricultural biodiversity is the most important legacy of mankind,” said Jim Richardson this week at a talk hosted by the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. I guess that sums it up. Think about it: thousands of plant species and animal breeds created over 10,000 years of agricultural history, designed to match an innumerable diversity of climates, elevations, weather hardships, and pests. All for one purpose only: making sure that we, humans, have food to sustain ourselves.

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White House Proposes Slashing US Farm Subsidies

The perfect storm that may obliterate controversial farm subsidies is brewing. The federal budget crisis, together with the historically high agricultural income recorded in 2011, have led the Obama Administration to consider the obvious: big commodity growers don’t need the help of government subsidies. Farmers themselves have been speaking against such subsidies in recent weeks, denouncing what they consider to be a system benefiting Big Ag.

The White House announcement also echoes the recent proposals made by the heads of the Senate and House Committees on Agriculture to slash direct payments. Of course, not everyone is pleased with the announcement… Learn the detail in the articles linked below:

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US aims to create 100,000 new farmers

Occupy Monsanto Rally, The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Times Square, New York, during the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2011 Industrials conference, December 8, 2011.

Government-backed loans to new farmers have more than doubled in the past decade in the United States. The goal is to reverse a worrisome trend: U.S. Census data showed that the average age of U.S. farmers rose from 52 in 1987 to 55 in 2007. The government hopes that new census data due this year will show more young farmers, a factor that government leaders say is critical for the future of food production. Because of its focus on specialty crops and organic farming, the new generation already spells trouble for the entrenched farming industry, starting with biotech and chemical giant Monsanto… Read more about that, and about the US public policy designed to increase support to beginning farmers: Eyeing greener acres, new farmers reap growing U.S. aid (Reuters)

Good news: agriculture is getting more attention than ever before among economic leaders of the world, according to World Farmers Organization leader Robert Carlson, who attended the recent World Economic (WE) Forum in Davos, Switzerland: Carlson representing agriculture at the World Economic Forum (Farm & Ranch Guide) Bad [old] news: GMO are expected to save the day. Apparently, agroecology was never mentioned in the conversations held by the big and powerful in the Swiss Alps, despite the appearance of UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier de Schutter.

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