Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Food

Comments

Senate farm bill post-mortem

The Sustainable Ag Coalition delivers its assessment

Ferd Hoefner of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has been involved in farm bills since the mid-1970s, working behind the scenes to try to snatch farm legislation from the paws of agribusiness. So when he delivers his assessment on how things went, he does so from the perspective of long memory. His insights are particularly important now, as sustainable-ag and food-justice advocates figure out what's in the Senate version that's worth fighting for. And there is plenty more fighting to be done. Early next month, the process of reconciling the Senate and House versions will begin. And then the final version …

Read more: Food, Politics

Comments

Two takes on the farm bill

My opinion, and an industrial soybean farmer’s

Speaking of the farm bill -- and who isn't -- y'all should check out an interview I recently did with something called the Lambert Report. Check out the big ol' Monsanto ad in the upper right corner. And look what they juxtaposed my answers with: those of a dude who used to be president of the American Soybean Association.

Read more: Food, Politics

Comments

The big picture

An unbiased, factual report on biofuels: How rare is that?

The Worldwatch Institute has produced an interesting summary of what's happening in the world of grain supplies. They also just published a book called Biofuels for Transport. Along with all of the positive potential for biofuels, I'm sure it also discusses the "potential" problems with "first generation" biofuels. These are some of the latest buzzwords being used to support industrial agrofuels. The word "potential" suggests that there are not yet any actual problems. The words "first generation" suggest that all of these "potential" problems will fail to materialize thanks to the timely arrival of "second generation" fuels. The reality, of …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

Comments

Time for some rehab

Agriculture is drunk on corn-based ethanol

Thomas Dobbs is Professor Emeritus of Economics at South Dakota State University, and a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food & Society Policy Fellow. ----- American agriculture is becoming addicted to corn-based ethanol, and the economic and environmental effects of this addiction call for some intervention! The explosive growth in U.S. ethanol production from corn is having worldwide ramifications. December 6 articles in The Economist ("Cheap no more" and "The end of cheap food") trace the impacts of ethanol production on prices of other crops and on food. Rising crop prices can benefit farmers not only in the U.S., but also farmers …

Read more: Food, Politics

Comments

Hillary Clinton frets publicly about CAFOs

What must the ‘Rural Americans for Hillary’ think of this?

Days after naming a high-profile champion of factory-style animal farms as co-chair of "Rural Americans for Hillary," Hillary Clinton backtracked a little yesterday. She expressed wan and tepid concern about the environmental and social effects of concentrated-animal feedlot operations (CAFOs). She told the Des Moines Register she would support "local control" over how CAFOs are regulated -- meaning that states and counties would be able to institute regulations more stringent than federal guidelines. "This is an issue I care deeply about," she declared -- although it was her first pronouncement on the issue this campaign season. But it's a hot …

Read more: Food, Politics

Comments

Farm bill update

Payment limits topple, but the livestock title looks good — for now

Update [2007-12-14 13:5:54 by Tom Philpott]:The Senate just passed the farm bill, 79-14. Presumably the livestock title is intact. Now it's time to mount an epochal battle to defend that important title as Congress reconciles the House and Senate versions, which will take place in early 2008. The Senate is set to vote on the farm bill this afternoon. I'll be trying to pull a Brian Beutler and follow the debate via CSpan. An amendment that would have limited subsidy payments crumbled yesterday despite winning the vote 56-43. That's because, in filibuster-related shenanigans similar to what happened to the energy …

Read more: Food, Politics

Comments

Beyond the farm bill

Progressive urban food bills could help reshape America’s food future

The following is a guest essay by Christopher D. Cook, author of Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis. His work has appeared in The Nation, Harper's, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor and Mother Jones. ----- After many legislative hiccups along the way, Congress is rapidly deciding the fate of America's food supply: what's grown, how it's produced and by whom, and how that food will affect our health and the planet. The roughly $288 billion Farm Bill, covering everything from urban nutrition and food stamp programs to soil conservation and farm subsidies, will …

Read more: Food, Politics

Comments

To those who are blasé about expanding the RFS

Once in place, the RFS will be nigh impossible to eliminate

Several posts during the past week, and countless ones elsewhere, have asked people to support the Energy Bill making its way through Congress. Some people have no problem with one of its major provisions, which calls for substantially expanding the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) -- the regulation that requires minimum amounts of ethanol, biodiesel, or other biofuels to be incorporated into the volume of transport fuels used each year. Indeed, some would even welcome the prospect. Many others do not like the idea, but seem to feel that it is a price worth paying in order to preserve solar investment …

Comments

How I shucked my oyster ambivalence and learned to love the noble bivalve

I've lived in Boston for years, but for some reason, I had never visited nearby Portland, Maine -- until last week, that is. I chose a dramatic occasion for my Portland debut: an Oyster Tasting Night put on by Slow Food Portland. Aw, shucks. Photo: pingpongdeath My previous opinion about the celebrated bivalve was decidedly lukewarm. My lack of oyster enthusiasm once even forced me to consider the specter of parental disownment. Having avoided oysters for years, I ate my first one when I was in Denver in my early 20s. I called my Baltimore-born, oyster-obsessed dad afterward to boast …

Read more: Food, Living

Comments

Wild salmon and coral both in trouble, say studies

Infestations of sea lice (ew) in salmon farms off the west coast of Canada are threatening local wild salmon populations -- to the extent that the wild fish could be extinct within four years, says a new study published in Science. While the researchers focused on fish populations off the coast of British Columbia, they believe their findings could be applicable anywhere there's a high density of fish farms where wild salmon also run. But the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans remains unconvinced: "They are asking us to believe 80 percent mortality is from one source," says Brian Riddell …

Read more: Food