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Huge organic dairy farm skirted organic rules, agrees to behave

One of America's largest organic dairies has agreed to alter its operations to comply with national organic standards after the U.S. Department of Agriculture threatened to remove its certification for skirting the rules. Aurora Organic Dairy, which sells milk under the label High Meadows and also makes milk for private-label brands including Wild Oats and Wal-Mart, was accused of not providing its cows with enough access to pasture in 2005 to qualify as organic. The subsequent investigation uncovered other rule-breaking such as the improper transitioning of cows from conventional to organic status. The company yesterday agreed to a consent decree …

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Driving Us to Vegetarianism

Animal-rights groups say meat-eating worse for climate than driving With which instrument do you cause more greenhouse-gas emissions: your car key or your fork? It's a question asked in an advertising campaign by the Humane Society, which, along with other big animal-rights groups, is striving to open consumers' eyes to an oft-overlooked connection: the climatic impact of eating meat. Bolstered by a recent United Nations report stating that the livestock business spews more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined, animal-rights groups say greens aren't stressing the point enough. "Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and SUVs …

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How globalization is smothering U.S. fruit and vegetable farms

Earlier this month, President Bush roiled U.S. vegetable farmers by announcing a crackdown on undocumented workers. Last week, industrial-meat giant Smithfield Foods goosed the hog-futures market by inking a deal to export 60 million pounds of U.S.-grown pork to China. These events, unrelated though they seem, illustrate a common point: that despite all the recent fuss around local food, the globalized food system, far from losing strength, continues to gain traction. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree -- especially if no one's there to pick it. Unwittingly or not, Bush's move puts a heavy squeeze on large-scale U.S. …

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… for real

It sounds like an unappetizing combination, I know, but it's for real: http://www.shrimp-petrofest.org/

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USDA brings the enforcement hammer down on nation’s largest organic dairy producer

This, fresh from the Cornucopia Institute, is big news: Tonight at 7:20 p.m. EST, August 29, the USDA issued an emergency news release announcing that they had sent a Letter of Revocation to the Aurora Organic Dairy. In lieu of revoking Aurora's organic certification, the Agency has instead entered into a consent agreement requiring the nation's largest certified organic dairy to make substantial and wide-ranging changes to the livestock management practices at their operations in Texas and Colorado. Cornucopia's been after Aurora for a while now, and this is vindication. I wish scrappy, effective little organizations like Cornucopia got more …

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Animal-rights groups point out the climatic effect of meat-eating

With which instrument do you cause more greenhouse-gas emissions: your car key or your fork? It's a question asked in an advertising campaign by the Humane Society, which, along with other big animal-rights groups, is striving to open consumers' eyes to an oft-overlooked connection: the climatic impact of eating meat. Bolstered by a recent United Nations report stating that the livestock business spews more GHGs than all forms of transportation combined, animal-rights groups say greens aren't stressing the point enough. "Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and S.U.V.'s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate," says …

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Interior Dept. plans huge water giveaway to Big Agribiz

Brad Plumer points to this, which tells the story of how the Interior Department is planning to give away gargantuan amounts of water to Big Agribiz in California. If you'd like to dig into the background details, check out some posts we ran by Lloyd G. Carter, president of California's Save Our Streams council -- here, here, and here. It's mind-boggling.

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Small protest may be start of agrodiesel’s biggest nightmare

A link to John Cook's Venture Blog in the Seattle P-I via a post by Glenn Hurowitz brought my attention to a guy named Duff Badgley (not to be confused with Duffman or Ed Begley). Duff is an old-school, grassroots, car-free, long-haired, bleeding-heart, dirty hippie environmentalist. His protests may very well turn out to be Imperium's worst nightmare. From an article about the filing of Imperium Renewables' IPO (initial public offering) where they must, by law, warn potential investors of known potential risks: In its filing, the company said that palm oil is the cheapest feedstock available and noted that …

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Grass Backwards

Carbon dioxide contributing to un-grassing of grassland, says new study Thanks in part to rising levels of carbon dioxide, the world's grasslands are turning into woody shrublands, says a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When researchers artificially doubled CO2 levels over sections of the Colorado plains, they observed a fortyfold increase in the growth of fringed sage, which takes over the prairie flora that serves a crucial purpose as a livestock buffet. Grasslands, which are also in danger from overgrazing and wildfire suppression, cover 40 percent of the earth's land surface; some projections hold that current CO2 …

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