While the growing list of Democratic candidates for president is dominated by politicians from predominantly urban settings, some still have decent track records on agriculture and food issues. This policy experience could help them in rural communities, a weak spot for the party in 2016. But rural advocates caution that the candidates need to build on past proposals if they hope to steer rural voters away from Donald Trump and the GOP.
Spring officially arrives March 20, three weeks from now, but spring-like weather is arriving two to three weeks early in the southern United States and "is likely to keep rolling north," says the U.S. Geological Survey. The Interior Department agency, which links early arrival of warm weather to climate change, says the change in timing poses challenges for human health and for food production.
Nearly 2 million acres — 3,100 square miles — of forested land were cleared for agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon in the year ending July 2016, while Bolivia has cut down 865,000 acres, equal to 1,351 square miles, annually, says The New York Times. "A decade after the 'Save the Rainforest' movement forced changes that dramatically slowed deforestation across the Amazon basin, activity is roaring back in some of the biggest expanses of forests in the world," said the newspaper.
Farmers, foresters, fishers and graziers generate one-fifth of the world's greenhouse gases, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in its annual State of Food and Agriculture report. FAO says the chief message of the 2016 edition is, "Agriculture must both contribute more to combating climate change while bracing to overcome its impacts."
The jokes about bovine belches melting the polar ice caps can be shelved for the moment, according to a new EPA annual report on U.S. greenhouse-gas production.
Researchers say the biosphere, which includes the plants, animals and organisms on land around the world, has become a "net source" of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, reports the Washington Post, citing a study in the journal Nature.
Whether Republican or Democrat, farmers name "national security" or "terrorism" as the most important issue facing the United States, far outweighing any agricultural issue, says a nationwide survey by Aimpoint Research.
The Paris agreement on climate change was "a game changer," according to the FAO director general for giving priority to food security in its preamble. But, notes Think Progress, the text of the agreement does not mention food security or agriculture at all.
There will be nearly two open jobs for every qualified graduate in the agriculture, food and natural resources sector in the next few years, says Harvest Public Media in summarizing a report by Purdue and the USDA. The gap between graduates and the estimated 60,000 jobs open annually for the next five years has "left the USDA, land grant universities and private industry scrambling to try and bridge the gap."