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Building Bioregional Food Systems Post-COVID 19: The Northeast Healthy Soil Network & the power of regional food system reform consortium work

COVID-19 has reminded us, perhaps as never before, that we need an overhaul, not only of our health care system, but our food system as well. [1]  As a steady stream of studies and articles point out, a priority of future] food system policy should be to support the emergence of local and regional, diversified, healthy food and farming systems, derived from fertile, carbon-rich soils.

Over the course of 2019, I helped to coordinate a network of food system stakeholders in the Northeast, as a researcher at the Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute.[2] This network, now called the Northeast Healthy Soil Network (NEHSN), held a symposium in late February, right before the coronavirus pandemic put an end to most public gatherings in the US. This growing network of Northeast farmers, farm organizations, food system nonprofits, agricultural research labs and state governments has come together to discuss how we can channel badly needed funds and resources to regenerative farmers in the Northeast region who are promoting biodiversity, holistic livestock management, and other healthy soil management[3] practices on their farms.


The agricultural policy strategies proposed by NEHSN members[4] parallel those of many other farmers across the nation’s various regions. They are aimed at agricultural subsidy reform, proposing that our food system should incentivize not a small handful of specific crops, but rather the production of a wider variety of foods and crops, which would not only feed greater numbers of Americans with affordable, nutritious food, but also engender healthy ecosystem services such as soil erosion prevention, water conservation, watershed cleanup, and biodiversity. An incentive payment system for healthy soil farm management could become the first government-backed fund stream for this healthier system of farming.[5]

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Food Shortages to Reduce the Population Brought to you by the COVID Triumvirate

This is a photo of the food line beside the Brooklyn Bridge approach in New York City that prevailed between 1930 and 1935. Never before in history have Americans had to cue in line for food since this orchestrated pandemic by Gates, Fauci, and Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum. Food prices are also rising because of this dynamic trio because they have deliberately shut down food production. Farmers have been unable to get their food to market because of the lockdowns and social distancing.

Today, there are food lines once again because of this dynamic trio, the COVID Triumvirate, composed of Gates, Fauci, & Schwab. Food lines have appeared around the country from Miami to New York City. Farmers were already being pushed into bankruptcies in 2019. That is only getting worse because this COVID Triumvirate also wants to end meat production to reduce CO2 (the World Economic Forum is pushing hard to end meat production).

An alternative agriculturist’s guide to science

An alternative agriculturist’s guide to science

To begin, just a heads up on a couple of new things on the site. First, I’ve posted on the My Book page advanced comments about my forthcoming book that have come in from a number of interesting thinkers. It’s nice to get such positive notices. Currently, I’m pretty busy gearing up for the book launch on 15 October (21 October in the USA) and I’ll be devoting some blog posts to the book thereafter.

Also, an interesting comment has come in concerning my house rules on the About page, to which I replied here. I don’t promise to debate my rules with all comers, but I think the issues in this instance are thought-provoking, so I (cautiously) welcome further comments.

And now to work with a few thoughts on science and alternative agriculture, inspired partly by this article and partly by the themes explored in Chapter 16 of my book (“From religion to science (and back)”). I’m not going to engage systematically with either source, but instead just use them as points of departure for a few remarks concerning the need as I see it for many of us in the alternative agriculture movement to develop a more nuanced approach to science.

Let me start by invoking a distinction I made some time ago between what I call ‘science’ and ‘SCIENCE’. Lowercase ‘science’ is the everyday, generally unglamorous work that scientists do in laboratories, field study sites and the like, where they use carefully-formulated techniques to tease out the relationships between entities in the biophysical world. A vital aspect of ‘science’ in this sense is that the people engaged in it – almost uniquely in human discourse – have developed rigorous procedures for conceding when they’ve got things wrong and the evidence doesn’t support their contentions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Slaughter of the Innocents: COVID-19 & the Future of Agriculture

Slaughter of the Innocents: COVID-19 & the Future of Agriculture

Above: Massive cattle operation in Imperial County, California [Photo by the author]

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It’s early days yet, but the COVID-19 pandemic has already proven to be revelatory, exposing much that is ugly about the “normal” functioning of the US: the sorry state of health care, the unresponsiveness of corporate-owned government, the hyper individuality of the populace, the high levels of ignorance among the same, and the racism of the entire system.

Regarding that lattermost point: This nation was founded by white Europeans who stole the land from the Indigenous and then built wealth with African slaves, and guess who’s doing the worst in this pandemic? The Native Americans and the Blacks. And look who’s protesting the loudest to get things “back to normal”: Whites, many of them with Confederate flags. Let that sink in.

Agriculture was at the heart of the settler colonialism: The land was seized for farming and the people were kidnapped to work the fields. From brutal beginnings, the situation has only worsened, especially in the last few decades. Small-scale, family-farming à la Old MacDonald is the stuff of myth at this point, with precious few exceptions. Pesticide use is up, ground-water levels are down, top soil is blowing away, wildlife biodiversity is shrinking, and human workers are abused.

Corporate ownership of the means of food production has led to concentrated ownership, de-localization, and supply chains that are brittle in response to stress. A handful of corporate giants (in fact, only four) have gobbled up most of the US meat industry.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

False Solutions to Climate Change: Agriculture

False Solutions to Climate Change: Agriculture

Editorial Note: This is Part 3 of Mary Wildfire’s series on false solutions to climate change. You can read Part 1 on Electricity here and Part 2 on Transportation here.

It’s become increasingly clear that climate change is not only real but beginning to bite. Now that much of the population is finally feeling the urgency—and during a time when COVID19  has much of our frenetic commerce on hold, giving us a space for thinking and discussion–what can we do to protect the only planet we’ve got? Unfortunately a good many of the solutions on offer seem designed to quiet the increasing concern, the impetus to do something, without challenging the status quo.

Can we get real solutions and still maintain economic growth, population growth, and the growth of inequality? Are we entitled to an ever-rising standard of living? I believe the answer is no; we need some profound transformations if we are to leave our grandchildren a planet that resembles the one we grew up on, rather than a dystopian Hell world.  This is the basic theme of the controversial Michael Moore produced film Planet of the Humans. I see that film as seriously flawed, but agree with its basic message—that it’s time for humanity to grow up and accept limits, get over what I call human exceptionalism, or androtheism—the notion that man is God.

A veritable cornucopia of false solutions is being pushed these days, not only by corporations and think tanks but by the UN’s IPCC, the international body responsible for research and action on climate.  We could have made a gentle transition if we had begun when we first became aware of this problem decades ago, but for various reasons we did not.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

An “All-Out Blizzard” That Is “Unheard Of For October” Is About To Hit Farms In The Midwest With Up To 2 Feet Of Snow

An “All-Out Blizzard” That Is “Unheard Of For October” Is About To Hit Farms In The Midwest With Up To 2 Feet Of Snow

Farmers in the middle of the country are about to get hit by what could potentially be the worst October blizzard in U.S. history.  According to USA Today“the massive size and intensity of this snowstorm is unheard of for October”.  In other words, we have never seen anything like this in the month of October ever before.  Such a storm would have been disastrous enough in a normal year, but this has definitely not been a normal year for Midwest farmers.  As I detailed extensively in previous articles, endless rain and horrific flooding made planting season a complete and utter nightmare for many Midwest farmers this year.  Millions of acres did not get planted at all, and planting was seriously delayed on tens of millions of other acres.  As a result, corn, soybeans and other crops are simply not ready to be harvested in many parts of the Midwest, and now an unprecedented winter storm is barreling directly toward our heartland.

This is a very, very serious situation.  Normally, most corn in the Dakotas and Minnesota is considered to be “mature” by now, but this year we are facing a completely different scenario.

According to the latest USDA Crop Progress Report, only 22 percent of the corn in North Dakota is considered to be “mature” at this point…

Many farmers continue to wait on the sidelines to get into the fields. With freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, and high winds set to hit the northern Plains this week, the corn in North Dakota is only 22% mature vs. a 75% five-year average, according to Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report.

Also, South Dakota corn is rated 36% mature vs. an 80% five-year average. Minnesota farmers have a corn crop that is just 39% mature vs. an 83% five-year average.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Insect Apocalypse:” US Farmland 48 Times More Toxic To Insects Than 25 Years Ago

“Insect Apocalypse:” US Farmland 48 Times More Toxic To Insects Than 25 Years Ago

new study shows how “insect apocalypse” is unfolding across America’s farmland since neonicotinoid pesticides were introduced several decades ago.

Researchers found that farmland across the country is 48 times more toxic to insect life than 25 years ago, and neonicotinoid pesticides account for a large majority of the increase in toxicity.

“It is alarming that US agriculture has become so much more toxic to insect life in the past two decades,” said Kendra Klein, Ph.D., study co-author and senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth.

“We need to phase out neonicotinoid pesticides to protect bees and other insects that are critical to biodiversity and the farms that feed us.”

Published in the journal PLOS ONE on Tuesday, the new study is a complete assessment of pesticide usage on farmland in the US, is the first study in the world to quantify how dangerous fields have become for insects by providing YoY changes in toxicity levels of the soil.

The increased toxic load measured in the study could explain why insect populations are collapsing in the US.

Klein said neonicotinoids are more toxic for insects than traditional pesticides and are widely used by farmers. These dangerous chemicals can remain in the soil for months to years after one application.

“Congress must pass the Saving America’s Pollinators Act to ban neonicotinoids,” said Klein.

“In addition, we need to rapidly shift our food system away from dependence on harmful pesticides and toward organic farming methods that work with nature rather than against it.”

The study suggests neonicotinoids are a major factor in the recent decline of insects, along with climate change and habitat destruction, leading scientist to warn of an “insect apocalypse.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Our Veggie Gardens Won’t Feed us in a Real Crisis

Our Veggie Gardens Won’t Feed us in a Real Crisis

A haul from the Author’s urban farming operation in Portland, Sept. 15, 2007 (Photo C.H.White)

Massive flooding and heavier than normal precipitation across the US Midwest this year delayed or entirely prevented the planting of many crops. The situation was sufficiently widespread that it was visible from space. The trouble isn’t over yet: Hotter-than-normal temperatures predicted to follow could adversely affect corn pollination. Projections of lower yields have already stimulated higher prices in UN grain indexes and US ethanol. Additionally, the USDA is expecting harvests to be of inferior quality. Furthermore, the effects of this year could bleed into 2020; late planting leads to late harvesting which delays fall tilling, potentially until next spring, when who knows what Mother Nature will deliver. 

Accuweather’s characterization of this as a “one-of-a-kind growing season” is literally true only in terms of its exact circumstances (given increasingly chaotic events) but not in its intensity (which will surely be exceeded). Prudence would dictate that we heed this year’s events as a warning and get serious about making preparations for worse years. Literal cycles of “feast or famine” have marked agriculture since its birth and sooner or later we will experience significant shortages here in the US, if not from the weather, than from war or lack of resources.

The Midwest floods and their possible repercussions for the food supply got some attention in the news (though not enough). One of the most common suggestions I saw on social media was: “Plant a garden!” 

If only it were that simple.

I used to be a small-scale organic farmer so take it from me: totally feeding yourself from your own efforts is very, very challenging. Though some friends and I tried over multiple seasons, we never succeeded, or even came anywhere close. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry.  Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground.  I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it.  But it turns out that number is 100 percent accurate.  And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly.  In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2 percent of their yield.  Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year.  It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe.

According to the Department of Agriculture, over the past five years an average of 66 percent of all corn fields were already planted by now…

U.S. farmers seeded 30% of the U.S. 2019 corn crop by Sunday, the government said, lagging the five-year average of 66%. The soybean crop was 9% planted, behind the five-year average of 29%.

Soybean farmers have more time to recover, but they are facing a unique problem of their own which we will talk about later in the article.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are we Heading into a Food Shortage?

Are we Heading into a Food Shortage? 

COMMENT: Mr. Armstrong, I find it really distasteful that you laid out events well in advance and then everyone copies you without ever giving you credit. There are articles now appearing about the coming food shortage. The degree of plagiarism is unbelievable. It must be dishearting. I certainly begin to distrust these people and organizations for they certainly even know who you are.

LMS

REPLY: That is life. They are trying to sell something so they have to pretend to do the research to make money by getting people to read. The flooding wiped out stockpiles. Now the planting season is already behind on schedule because of the weather. As I have warned, the computer has been forecasting colder winters and shorter-summers. The planting season will decline and thus the danger of a serious food shortage as we head into 2024.

I previously wrote about the soaring bankruptcies among farmers and combine this with the flooding that continues, I believe the computer will be on point. I also wrote about how this year, the Russian wheat crop failed has failed because of the bitter cold with even April coming in as the coldest in more than 140 years. To make matters worse, our computer warns that the weather will not improve. The next 4 years will put even more financial pressure farmers. Even in Australia, the drought is sending the “roos” invading the cities and they like to feed precisely during Rush Hour.  The drought is so bad in Australia, that animals are dying for lack of feed crops.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK climate emergency is official policy

UK climate emergency is official policy

Heathrow’s expansion is now in question. Image: By J Patrick Fischer, via Wikimedia Commons

Major changes in the government’s policy on fossil fuels will be vital to tackling the UK climate emergency that Parliament has recognised.

LONDON, 3 May, 2019 − The United Kingdom has taken a potentially momentous policy decision: it says there is a UK climate emergency.

On 1 May British members of Parliament (MPs) became the world’s first national legislature to declare a formal climate and environment emergency, saying they hoped they could work with like-minded countries across the world to take action to avoid more than 1.5°C of global warming.

No-one yet knows what will be the practical result of the resolution proposed by Jeremy Corbyn, the Opposition Labour leader, but UK politicians were under pressure to act following a series of high-profile strikes by school students in recent months and demonstrations by a new climate protest organisation, Extinction Rebellion (XR),  whose supporters closed roads in the centre of London for a week.

The Conservative government ordered its MPs not to oppose the Labour resolution, and it was passed without a vote.

Zero carbon by 2050

Hours after the MPs’ decision, a long-awaited detailed report by the government’s official advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, was published. It recommends cutting the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The current target is 80%.

The report says the government should accept the new target immediately, pass it into law in the next few months and begin to implement policies to achieve it. The committee says that will mean the end of petrol and diesel cars on British roads, a cut in meat consumption, an end to gas boilers for heating buildings, planting 1.5 billion trees to store carbon, a vast increase in renewable energy, and many other measures.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Post-Brexit Farming, Glyphosate and GMOs

Post-Brexit Farming, Glyphosate and GMOs

The following is an edited and abridged version of an open letter recently sent by Dr Rosemary Mason to Michael Gove, the British Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The full version containing relevant citations and additional data and information may be accessed here

You can also find on the site linked to all of Rosemary Mason’s previous work outlining the devastating impact of glyphosate and modern farming practices which remain in place due to the well-documented subversion of science and the corruption of governments and regulatory bodies by industry interests.

It seems likely that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US could mean more of the same and lead to the introduction of GM crops in the UK alongside the lowering of standards for the use of biocides in agriculture. Sainsbury Laboratory already has plans for a new open air field trial of GM potatoes on farms in Suffolk and Cambridge.

Below, Dr Mason lays out her concerns to Mr Gove.

***

Dear Michael Gove,

I am surprised to learn that from the huge number of scientists employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Rothamsted Research (research institute involved in developing and testing GM crops) that not one of them has read the new book by Caius Rommens, former team leader at Monsanto. He helped create GM potatoes and has retracted his research as he explains in the book ‘Pandora’s Potatoes: The Worst GMOs’.

Professor Jonathan Jones, group leader for the Sainsbury Laboratory has worked for Monsanto in the past, so he has massive conflicts of interest.

It all shows an ignorance beyond belief!

In an interview with Sustainable Pulse, Caius Rommens has revealed the hidden dangers of the GMO potatoes he created:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Using manure for fertilizer in the future – it won’t be easy

Using manure for fertilizer in the future – it won’t be easy

Animals produce 44 times more manure than humans in the U.S.

Preface. At John Jeavons Biointensive workshop back in 2003, I learned that phosphorous is limited and mostly being lost to oceans and other waterways after exiting sewage treatment plants.  He said it can be dangerous to use human manure without proper handling, and wasn’t going to cover this at the workshop, but to keep it in mind for the future.

Modern fertilizers made with the Nobel-prizing winning method of using natural gas as feedstock and energy source can increase crop production up to 5 times, but at a tremendous cost of poor soil health and pollution (see Peak soil).  Fossil fuels will inevitably decline some day, and force us back to organic agriculture and using crop wastes, animal and human manure again.

Below are excerpts from three sources.

The first is about North Korea. Despite tremendous efforts to use all manure, this country is a barren, destroyed landscape that can grow little food, which McKenna describes here: Inside North Korea’s Environmental Collapse.

The second section describes what it was like to live over a century ago when human and animal manure was routinely collected.

The third Below is a NewScientist book review of The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the planet, one flush at a time by Mark Nelson.

Park, Y. 2015. In order to live: A North Korean girl’s journey to freedom. Penguin.

“One of the big problems in North Korea was a fertilizer shortage. When the economy collapsed in the 1990s, the Soviet Union stopped sending fertilizer to us and our own factories stopped producing it. Whatever was donated from other countries couldn’t get to the farms because the transportation system had also broken down. this led to crop failures that made the famine even worse.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The day the Earth’s climate went berserk

The day the Earth’s climate went berserk

The caldera (collapsed crater) of Mt Tambora. Image: By Jialiang Gao (peace-on-earth.org), via Wikimedia Commons.

The day in 1815 when the world’s climate went berserk was only the start of months and years of global climate disruption and social unrest.

LONDON, 19 March, 2019 − If you had been in what were then called the Dutch East Indies on 10 April 1815, the day would have been etched indelibly on your memory: it was the day the global climate went berserk.

Many parts of the world are already feeling the effects of a changing climate. Island nations in the Pacific are seeing their lands eaten away by rising sea levels.

Whole communities of people in Arctic regions are threatened by rapidly expanding ice melt. The foundations of houses are being swept away. Traditional hunting grounds are being lost.

Wolfgang Behringer is a climate historian who seeks to draw parallels between what is going on now and events long ago. In particular Behringer, a professor of early modern history at Saarland University in Germany, looks at how changes in climate can influence and shape events – political, economic and social.

In a new book he focuses on the 1815 volcanic explosion of Tambora, on the island of Sumbawa in present-day Indonesia. The eruption still rates as the largest in human history; the cloud that burst from the volcano reached a height of 45 kilometres.

“Apparently minor changes in temperature and humidity suffice to shake up entrenched ecosystems, but above all entrenched agricultural systems”

Many thousands of people were killed on Sumbawa and adjoining islands, including Lombok and Bali. Dust clouds from Tambora were swept around the globe; the world’s climate went berserk, says Behringer.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Deconstructing the 3 biggest LIES that attack organic farming

Deconstructing the 3 biggest LIES that attack organic farming

Image: Deconstructing the 3 biggest LIES that attack organic farming

(Natural News) Oh yes they did. There’s now a so-called “study” that’s been done which supposedly determined that organic farming creates a much bigger carbon footprint that torques up “global warming” more than ever. Yes, old faithful US News has regurgitated a chunk of claims published in the International Journal of Science, and somebody has to set the record straight.

If you read the entire review of the “study” and the study itself, you can feel the GMO community grasping for anything to save face, especially in the midst of a tsunami of Bayer/Monsanto lawsuits (of which people are winning huge payouts) regarding glyphosate poisoning from using Roundup. Folks, this is the same weed killer used on the inside and out (think genetic engineering here and “Roundup Ready”) of 90 percent of U.S. corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, beets, alfalfa, and the list goes on.

The whole insidious anti-organic industry needs a big PR win and fast, so they’re jumping on the “climate change” bandwagon and spewing infested lies about organic farming. It’s time to deconstruct the biggest ones and expose the fraudulent “news” updates.

DEBUNKED: The 3 “consensus” lies about organic farming that true science completely tears apart

 #1. “Organic food is worse for the climate than non-organic food”

Big lie. First off, non-organic food usually means chemical-based fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides are doused on the farms by crop dusters and spread by tractor “boom” sprayers that spray millions of gallons of unsustainable, climate-destroying bug killer and weed killer over millions of acres. And that comes only after the scientists modify the crop seeds in a laboratory with the same chemical genes from the poisonous pesticides.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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