industrial agriculture

Report: Fertilizer responsible for more than 20 percent of total agricultural emissions

As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) gets underway in Glasgow, a new report finds that synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought, outpacing even the commercial aviation industry. The report, from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Greenpeace and GRAIN, urges a swift transition toward more sustainable food production in order to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change.(No paywall)

IUCN Congress dispatch: A paradigm shift for the food system

In the face of climate change, biodiversity loss, and growing global food insecurity, conservationists, farmers, and policymakers called for a “paradigm shift” in global food production at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on Tuesday. To get there, they urged the expansion of agroecology as a way to build a food system that can help protect and restore the environment while feeding the world.(No paywall)

With industrial meat hobbled, small producers are seeing a surge in sales. Can it last?

With industrial meat operations struggling to stay open, consumers are turning in droves to smaller producers to keep them in beef, pork, chicken and lamb, as Stephen R. Miller reports in FERN's latest story, published with HuffPost. Miller's story takes a close look at one operation, SkyPilot Farm in Longmont, Colorado, which is run by Chloe Johnson and her husband Craig Scariot. Since the outbreak, sales at SkyPilot have increased about 400 percent and the customer base has tripled.(No paywall)

Trump tariff payments went to big farm operators

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.

Wild bees outperform honeybees, but our farms don’t make them welcome

Scientists are discovering that wild bees are far better pollinators than the honeybees that dominate commercial agriculture, according to FERN's latest story, published with HuffPost. But that discovery, which coincides with a worldwide collapse in pollinator numbers, spotlights a "desperate need" for new approaches to farming that work with these wild bees.(No paywall)

Eating tomorrow: A conversation with Timothy Wise

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)

In Iowa, ag-gag is reborn. What does that mean for other states?

In January, Iowa became the latest state to have its ag-gag law overturned by the courts, a victory for free speech and animal-rights advocates. But the victory was short-lived. This month the state’s legislators revived ag-gag with a new law that targets undercover investigations into livestock farms — and it comes as ag-gag supporters across the country are looking to craft laws that will survive constitutional challenges.(No paywall)

Hog farming shifts to contract production

Some 63 percent of U.S. hogs are raised under contract to a processor, nearly double the 34 percent that were sold under contract 20 years ago, said the USDA. Ninety percent of poultry and eggs are produced under contract. Tobacco and sugar beets also are in that range.

More manure lagoons in North Carolina damaged, flooded, or overflowing

Some 57 manure lagoons in North Carolina were flooded, overflowing, or structurally damaged by the heavy rains and floods caused by Hurricane Florence — an increase of 14 in a day, said the state Department of Environmental Quality on Thursday.

Florence swamps Matthew as North Carolina agriculture scourge

Twice as many livestock have died in North Carolina due to Hurricane Florence as perished in Hurricane Matthew two years ago, and more manure lagoons have been damaged or flooded, state agencies said on Wednesday.

Farm leaders urge federal shield against lawsuits

Two national farm leaders called for federal protection from lawsuits that hold farmers liable for the noise and foul odors of increasingly large-scale agricultural production. "It is time for our elected leaders to step up and stop this madness," said Howard Hill, speaking for U.S. hog farmers and taking aim at lawsuits that allege North Carolina hog farms are nuisances to their neighbors. "The regulations need to be on the trial lawyers," said president Zippy Duvall of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Jury awards hog-farm neighbors $473.5 million in nuisance lawsuit

A federal jury awarded six neighbors of industrial hog farms in North Carolina $473.5 million in damages on Friday. The lawsuit is the third so far on the waste-management practices of Smithfield-associated hog farms in the state. Earlier verdicts have awarded plaintiffs about $75 million.

Skeptical greeting for USDA nominee Hutchins

The Senate should reject President Trump’s nomination of DowDuPont executive Scott Hutchins for USDA chief scientist, said Food and Water Watch on Wednesday, calling him “a particularly egregious gift to the chemical industry that imperils our food system from field to plate.”

A much-debated Costco plant draws more ire from Nebraskans

When the plan for a new Costco chicken-processing plant in Fremont, Nebraska, was announced in 2016, it drew angry local protests. Now large-scale chicken farms that will supply the plant are popping up across the state, causing a new round of protests amid concerns about environmental and health effects.

North Carolina lawmakers override veto to pass Farm Act

On Wednesday, the North Carolina General Assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto to pass into law the Farm Act, which expands the state’s right-to-farm law. The law now greatly restricts farm neighbors’ ability to bring nuisance lawsuits against farm operations for air, water, and soil pollution.

Big farms account for a larger share of agricultural production

Large farms, with more than $1 million a year in gross income, nearly doubled their share of U.S. agricultural production in the past quarter-century, says USDA's Economic Research Service. As production shifted to larger farms, so did crop subsidies and crop insurance indemnities, says the ERS, which made the comparison on inflation-adjusted revenue figures.

Iowa ‘ag gag’ law is challenged as unconstitutional

A coalition of consumer, free speech and animal rights groups filed suit in federal court in Des Moines to challenge the constitutionality of Iowa's "ag gag" law, enacted in 2012. Iowa is the No. 1 state for hog and egg production and the largest target yet by campaigners against state laws that criminalize undercover employment on farms and at packing plants.

Worrisome levels of nitrate in drinking water for 7 million Americans

Seven million Americans who live in small cities and towns have worrisome levels of nitrates in their drinking water — below the federal limit of 10 milligrams per liter, but high enough to be associated with cancer in some studies, said an Environmental Working Group official. Craig Cox, head of EWG's Midwest office, said 1,683 communities had nitrate levels above 5 milligrams per liter and, when plotted on a map, they "crazily lined up with intensive agriculture."

UN: A third of Earth’s land is damaged, largely from industrial agriculture

A third of the Earth’s land is severely degraded and 24 billion tons of fertile soil are disappearing each year, according to a new United Nations-backed study that puts the majority of the blame on intensive agriculture. “The Global Land Outlook is billed as the most comprehensive study of its type, mapping the interlinked impacts of urbanisation, climate change, erosion and forest loss," reports The Guardian.  "But the biggest factor is the expansion of industrial farming.”

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