In a bid to strengthen local and regional food systems and help small and midsized farms and food businesses reach new markets and resources, the USDA is creating a dozen new regional food centers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday. (No paywall)
In the year-end Washington scramble to pass a government funding package, Congress snuck in a concerning new law that helps agribusiness corporations influence federal farm conservation policy. The SUSTAINS Act, first introduced by Republican leader of the House Agriculture Committee Glenn Thompson, allows corporations to give money to the Department of Agriculture to fund conservation programs. No paywall
The wild relatives of some of the world’s most important crops are at risk of extinction, threatening efforts to breed plants with greater resilience to climate change and improve yields, according to a new paper presented Tuesday at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. (No paywall)
From meat packers to seed companies, farm equipment to agrochemicals, the agriculture industry has become increasingly concentrated, leaving farmers with few options when it comes to buying inputs or selling their commodities. This has also become a potent political issue in rural areas, but …
When the Trump administration poured billions of dollars into rural America to mitigate the impact of trade war, "most of it bypassed the country's traditional small and medium-sized farms that were battered by the loss of their export market," said the CBS News program 60 Minutes on Sunday. It's just as likely big farmers will benefit in a big way when the USDA disburses $16 billion in coronavirus-relief cash to farmers and ranchers, said the program.
A bill in Missouri that would eliminate local regulation of CAFOs has passed in the state Senate and House and is headed to the desk of Gov. Mike Parson, who is expected to sign it into law. Opponents of the bill say it favors the interests of the largest livestock farms while exposing communities to greater health and environmental risks.
America’s family farmers increasingly are out-muscled by large agribusinesses in trying to make a living, said the think tank Center for American Progress on Tuesday. It called on Congress to create an Independent Farmer Protection Bureau with offices nationwide to even the fight by enforcing …
Communities in Missouri have been fighting the expansion of large-scale livestock operations in the state for years. But a controversial pair of bills moving through the state legislature would make community oversight of those farms even harder. The bills would eliminate local ordinances that regulate industrial animal farms in the state, or make it impossible to enforce those ordinances. The bills mirror trends in other states where legislators have moved to undermine local control of large-scale livestock farms.(No paywall)
Fundamental change in U.S. agricultural and rural policy is "an absolute necessity," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday in calling for Teddy "Roosevelt-style trust-busting laws to stop monopolization of markets and break up massive agribusinesses." In a position paper, Sanders, pursuing the Democratic nomination for president, endorsed supply management — federal control over farm production — higher minimum prices for major commodities such as grain and milk and a return to a government-owned grain reserve "to alleviate the need for government subsidies and ensure we have a food supply in case of extreme weather events."
Timothy A. Wise spent four years researching the industrialization of agriculture and the influence of agribusiness on policy creation around the world. Everywhere he traveled, he saw how governments and philanthropies have committed to a vision of hunger eradication that heralds industrial, large-scale agriculture. His new book, Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food, details how this vision has largely failed to bring countries closer to food security even as it has imperiled our water, soil, and farming communities.(No paywall)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her agriculture policy platform Wednesday, three days before she is set to participate in a Democratic presidential candidates’ forum in rural Iowa. The platform calls for curtailing consolidation in agriculture by breaking up big agribusiness companies, reversing agriculture mega-mergers, and more. (No paywall)
Twenty years from now, vastly fewer but much larger farms will generate the lion's share of agriculture output, said chief executive Brett Sciotto of Aimpoint Research. Speaking at a farm conference on Monday, Sciotto said current trends in agriculture point to 100,000 "production" farmers in the country, one-quarter or one-fifth of the current crop of mid- and large-size farms that dominate the sector.
Legislators and governors have scaled back funding for state universities in recent years, and one result is that industry funding has become more important, says the New Food Economy. “And with industry money comes industry priorities.”
The U.S. District Court in Wyoming ruled Monday that the state’s ag-gag laws are unconstitutional. The ruling comes after several years of litigation between the state and plaintiffs who argued the laws were written solely to deter monitoring of the effects of agriculture on the state’s water, land, and air.
Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, introduced a bill yesterday that would impose a temporary moratorium on large agribusiness and food industry mergers. The bill is a companion to legislation introduced last month in the Senate by New Jersey’s Cory Booker.
California regulators violated the Constitution by requiring warning labels on glyphosate containers saying the herbicide is a carcinogen, says a federal lawsuit filed by Monsanto and a dozen farm and agribusiness groups.
With little notice, more than two dozen state legislatures have passed “seed-preemption laws” designed to block counties and cities from adopting their own rules on the use of seeds, including bans on GMOs. Opponents say that there’s nothing more fundamental than a seed, and that now, in many parts of the country, decisions about what can be grown have been taken out of local control and put solely in the hands of the state. (No paywall)
Big Ag has long chanted the benefits of NAFTA to American farmers, pointing out that the free-trade deal with Mexico and Canada has quadrupled U.S. farm exports since it went into effect in 1994. “But despite the largely pro-trade drumbeat in the ag sector, there are plenty of farmers who feel otherwise,” say Kristina Johnson and Sam Fromartz in FERN’s latest story, published with NPR’s The Salt.
Dow Chemical and E.I. DuPont can carry out their planned $130 billion merger if they agree to sell off some of their pesticide and petrochemical business, said the Justice Department. Justice’s antitrust division said the divestitures would preserve competition in the ag chemical sector.