Politics

There’s coal money and then there’s war money

In an electoral year when climate policy will play an unusually high-profile role, the $35 million raised by coal front group ABEC seems like a …

Thompson out

Fred Thompson is dropping out of the race today. A fitting time to reprint the Fredster’s classic bit on Paul Harvey’s radio show: Some people …

EPA provides only some documents related to California waiver

The U.S. EPA has given Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) only some documents related to the agency’s refusal to allow California to regulate car greenhouse-gas emissions …

Boucher for Obama

The latest in a string of endorsements for Obama from red-state Dems

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), notorious champion of Big Coal, has endorsed Barack Obama. Some greens are no doubt going to use this as evidence that …

War is peace; sickness is life

Livestock registration, pitched by feds as voluntary, is creeping toward mandatory

You have read, in this space among many others, of the sinister nature of genetic modification and the patenting of seeds. I have ranted endlessly about the dangers of the food system being in the hands of just a few corporate land barons. No reason to stop now. For about five years now the USDA and many large corporate interests have been pushing a program called the National Animal Identification System. NAIS is touted as an effective tool in battling the spread of livestock diseases such as cattle tuberculosis and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow. It provides methods for tagging livestock of any kind with RFID, the same sort of microchip that many people have put on their pets in hopes of recovering poor Fido if he ever gets lost. The thinking is that if a side of beef in a Greeley, Colorado meatpacking plant tests positive for mad cow, authorities can quickly and easily identify said cow, trace it back through the system, and discover other animals with which it may have made contact. Currently, at the federal level, NAIS is a voluntary program overseen by the USDA and administered by the several states with help from organizations like the Future Farmers of America and the Farm Bureau. Farms, feedlots, and confined animal feeding operations apply for and receive a formal numerical designation that is then applied to microchips injected into or ear-tagged onto each animal. According to the USDA, in 2007 the state of Iowa went from 11,000 registered sites to more than 20,000, an increase of over 80 percent -- all this despite a lack of any sort of government funding to participants for the program. Farmers must buy in if they choose to participate. Setting aside for the moment that this system feels like a perfect bureaucratic method for closing the barn doors after the mad cows get out, all this seems fairly innocuous until we look a little deeper. The state of Texas has recently passed legislation requiring NAIS tagging for all dairy cattle. It goes into effect March 31. Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, and Tennessee now require participation for goats and sheep. In Michigan, farmer and now reluctant revolutionary Greg Niewendorp has endured visits from the sheriff reminiscent of scenes from and old Billy Jack movie.

At Dem debate, candidates agree on green jobs, fight over everything else

Photo: AP/Mary Ann Chastain At the acrimonious Democratic presidential debate on Monday night, the three leading candidates bickered over a whole range of issues, but …

Barack Obama at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 20 Jan. 2008

Full transcript under the fold: —– Barack Obama at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 20 Jan. 2008 The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites …

Deep thought of the day

‘Green empire’ like ‘military intelligence’

Sustainability is not compatible with empire.

Countdown to the 2008 Farm Bill: Part V

Direct and value-added marketing in the farm bill

This is the last installment of a five-part series of farm bill fact sheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. For additional information about the status of sustainable agriculture priorities in the House and Senate versions of the farm bill, please check out SAC's farm bill progress chart. Farm Bill "conference" negotiations are underway at the staff level. Please call your Senators and Representative today and tell them what you want to see in the final Farm Bill! Increasing consumer demand for healthy, sustainably-produced food and agricultural products from local and regional markets has great potential to improve farm income. However, tremendous challenges stand in the way of producers satisfying these consumer preferences, in part because federal policies and programs have been slow to respond. A number of grassroots farmer and consumer organizations have been working to ensure that the final farm bill includes increased funding for direct market and value-added enterprise opportunities, and the removal of the prohibition on interstate sale of meat products processed in state-inspected plants. Greater federal support for these programs in the 2008 Farm Bill will help a larger number of consumers access good food and allow more producers to stay on the land.