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July 7, 2024 Readings

July 7, 2024 Readings

War is Peace: Andrew Carnegie’s “Temple of Peace” in the Hague–Dr. Jacob Nordangard

GOP Senate Farm Bill Framework, Similar to House Bill, Elevates Threat to Health, Biodiversity, and Climate – Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog

Crash Or Bear Market, Either Way Stocks Going “Down, A Lot”: Mark Spiegel–Quoth the Raven

150 Million Americans Under Weather Alerts As “Potentially Historic Heatwave” Tests Major Power Grids | ZeroHedge

Communicative Resilience in a World-in-Crisis: It Gets Personal! Part 1–Reslience.org.

60 lives lost, hundreds of thousands displaced as widespread floods hit northeast India – The Watchers

Google’s Net Zero Plans Are Going Up In Smoke–Robert Bryce

Earth’s Latest ‘Vital Signs’ Show the Planet Is in Crisis | Scientific American

Alaska’s Juneau Icefield Is Melting at an ‘Incredibly Worrying’ 50,000 Gallons per Second, Researchers Find | Smithsonian

Startling: Humans Are Absorbing Microplastics, and It Is Increasing Our Risk of Cancer, Diabetes, and Heart Disease–SciTechDaily

Climate change is pushing up food prices — and worrying central banks–Financial Times

 

War On Nation’s Food Supply?: Idaho Restricts Water To 500,000 Acres Of Farmland 

War On Nation’s Food Supply?: Idaho Restricts Water To 500,000 Acres Of Farmland 

In late May, Idaho Department of Water Resources Director Mathew Weaver issued a curtailment order requiring 6,400 junior groundwater rights holders who pump off the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer to shut off their spigots.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued a statement following the order on May 30, “Water curtailment is never desired, but the director must follow Idaho law and the Constitution in issuing this order.”

Brian Murdock, an East Idaho farmer, said the water curtailment affects 500,000 acres, which equates to roughly 781 square miles of farmland.

“Well, as you said, the state of Idaho and the Idaho Department of Water Resources has issued this curtailment of 500,000 acres. And to help put that in perspective, that’s basically 781 square miles of farm ground that is being taken out of production,” Murdock told the hosts of Fox News.

The grain and potato farmer continued, “And, of course, the worst problem is this is happening during a very plentiful water year. We have the reservoirs [that] are completely full, and when I mean full, they’re dang near breaking. The rivers are running as high as they possibly can. Just trying to keep those dams from breaking.”

In eastern Idaho, groundwater users with junior water rights breached the 2016 agreement in 2021 and 2022. Currently, Gov. Little, the lieutenant governor, the Director of Water Resources, and representatives from groundwater and surface water user groups are discussing a new deal. The plan is to strike a new agreement before the curtailment dries up the farmland.

Murdock told co-hosts Dagen McDowell and Sean Duffy that his family’s century-old farm faces a $3 million loss due to the state-issued order.

“This is the largest curtailment in the history of the United States as far as farm ground,” Murdock said in a video posted on X.

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

It’s Dangerous to Farm Alone

It’s Dangerous to Farm Alone

At the start of the famous video game, Legend of Zelda, a helpful old man says “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this.”

Surprisingly, the protagonist is then given a limited selection of technologies to use, so that they can then proceed, alone, on their adventure. I suppose the whole point of a video game is to push the limits of your character. If you mess up the worst outcome is waste a life.

Over the last several years I often wondered about the dynamics of the system I was building around me. Dairying animals in particular are a big commitment that need daily milking, with rare exceptions. Many times I had to grit my teeth and keep squeezing with an injured hand for days at a time. Fair is fair, I would say, since the girls would have to do the same if they had a scratch on their teat. Often I had to drag a sore leg around the paddocks for a few hours to move a fence. Only once did I have to skip milking when I was in the middle of a proper bout of flu.

Cropping is a little more relaxed in its timing, though without irrigation the window for sowing can pass from too wet or cold to too dry in a matter of days during some seasons. Harvest windows can be as long as fortnight for staple crops to a single morning for fruit (though the season itself usually lasts a week or more). All types of harvests have been missed at times and ended up either rotting on the ground or inside bellies smaller than mine.

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

N-wrecked

N-wrecked

The way that humans have messed with the Earth’s carbon cycle rightly figures as planetary eco-problem No.1 in public debate, but the way we’ve messed with its nitrogen cycle probably ought to get more attention than it does. In the former case, farming often gets a bit too much of the blame in my view, whereas in the latter case there’s no doubt that it’s the key culprit. The consequences for nature loss, human health and climate change are serious. If humans somehow manage to get over their fatal attraction to the fossil fuels that drive our messing with the carbon cycle while retaining anything like present patterns of energy use, then our messing with the nitrogen cycle will loom all the larger as a problem of high-energy human civilization. According to the planetary boundary framework, human use of nitrogen (and phosphorus) is already a long way past levels compatible with the stability and resilience of earth systems.

The inimitable Gunnar Rundgren has been writing an excellent series of articles about farming and the nitrogen cycle. I’m not going to cover much of the same ground, but I’d recommend taking a look at his analysis. Instead, I focus more on arguments about … well, arguments about arguments about nitrogen. And an argument about how we might get by with using less of it.

But let me get into that by outlining what seems to me a problematic modern mythology around nitrogen in agriculture that goes something like this: prior to the invention of the Haber-Bosch method for ammonia synthesis, people were miserably yoked to the soil as servants of the natural nitrogen cycle. But once Messrs Haber and Bosch had worked out how to transcend this nature-imposed limit, a world of abundant cheap food opened up for humanity…

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

The Government’s War on “Backyard” Farms

The Government’s War on “Backyard” Farms

“I’m still the king of me” – Part 1

On the front page of the CDC website, is the following headline:

Which then opens into the following:

  • Are you ready to give away your chickens?
  • Move from the country?
  • Wear gloves and a mask when caring for backyard chickens?
  • Stop buying eggs from your local farmer
  • or, all of the above?

But hold your horses, reading further into the report – here are the numbers:

Out of 330 million people in the USA in 2024, 109 have gotten sick from Salmonella and have some association with backyard poultry this year.

A further dig into the CDC archives reveals that for the past six years, the CDC has conducted successive investigative “reports” on Salmonella outbreaks linked to backyard poultry. In fact, they write numerous articles on the subject each year.

Something fishy is going on here…

A search for poultry and salmonella on the CDC website reveals no such investigations or public reports for commercial poultry operations. There are NO reports for 2024, 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020 or 2019 (the archives stop at 2019).

The CDC estimates that Salmonella bacteria cause about 1 million illnesses, 19,000 hospitalizations, and 380 deaths each year in the U.S

Below are the numbers for salmonella cases linked to backyard poultry, according to the CDC webpages:

An extensive search on the CDC website could not find how many people are sickened by commercial poultry each year.

So I went to various AI services, which spat out answers about risk of transmission and statistics about being sickened backyard poultry. The exact same pablum that I had found on the CDC website.

So, then I went the USDA website, and from there I was able to extrapolate the answer.

Therefore, according to the USDA, 1 million x .23% = 230,000 people are sickened by Salmonella associated with the consumption of chicken and turkey each year.

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

Menace on the Menu: The Financialisation of Farmland and the War on Food and Farming

Between 2008 and 2022, land prices nearly doubled throughout the world and tripled in Central-Eastern Europe. In the UK, an influx of investment from pension funds and private wealth contributed to a doubling of farmland prices from 2010-2015. Land prices in the US agricultural heartlands of Iowa quadrupled between 2002 and 2020.   

Agricultural investment funds rose ten-fold between 2005 and 2018 and now regularly include farmland as a stand-alone asset class, with US investors having doubled their stakes in farmland since 2020.

Meanwhile, agricultural commodity traders are speculating on farmland through their own private equity subsidiaries, while new financial derivatives are allowing speculators to accrue land parcels and lease them back to struggling farmers, driving steep and sustained land price inflation.

Top-down ‘green grabs’ now account for 20% of large-scale land deals. Government pledges for land-based carbon removals alone add up to almost 1.2 billion hectares, equivalent to total global cropland. Carbon offset markets are expected to quadruple in the next seven years.

These are some of the findings published in the new report ‘Land Squeeze’ by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES), a non-profit thinktank headquartered in Brussels.

The report says that agricultural land is increasingly being turned into a financial asset at the expense of small- and medium-scale farming. The COVID-19 event and the conflict in Ukraine helped promote the ‘feed the world’ panic narrative, prompting agribusiness and investors to secure land for export commodity production and urging governments to deregulate land markets and adopt pro-investor policies.

However, despite sky-rocketing food prices, there was, according to the IPES in 2022, sufficient food and no risk of global food supply shortages. Despite the self-serving narrative pushed by big agribusiness and land investors, there has been no food shortage…

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

I’m a British farmer. Here’s the scary truth about what’s happening to our crops

The climate crisis is making the farming business unsustainable – and without support for us, food security will suffer too

Farming has always been a risky business. To the chaos of Brexit and the relentless squeezing of the supermarkets, we can add the rapidly escalating threats associated with climate change. In most industries, at the point where risk is judged to outweigh the potential commercial reward, both capital and people tend to make a swift exit, following economist Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of self-interest.

The problem with farming is that most farmers are emotionally invested in their work. An exit is seldom considered – perhaps we should be more like the bankers, but they wouldn’t be much good at growing potatoes.

Around the world, farming practice evolves in response to past success. Over 30 years, I’ve recorded planting and harvest dates, temperatures and yields, using data to guide my decisions, just like generations of farmers before me. But over the past decade, as the pace of change in weather patterns has accelerated, the value of that accumulated experience has become increasingly irrelevant. For most farmers, this last year has been about grabbing rare, good weather windows and trying to make the most of wet conditions as we repeatedly fail to get crops sown.

As the risk of crop failure has grown, margins have shrunk, meaning there’s nothing in the bank to pay for the bad years. Farm-gate prices have been driven down to levels which, in a good year, just about cover costs, but leave nothing to cover crops lost to adverse weather.

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

California cracks down on water pumping: ‘The ground is collapsing’

Farm region near Tulare Lake has been put on ‘probation’ as overpumping of water has caused faster sinking of ground

Even after two back-to-back wet years, California’s water wars are far from over. On Tuesday, state water officials took an unprecedented step to intervene in the destructive pumping of depleted groundwater in the state’s sprawling agricultural heartland.

The decision puts a farming region known as the Tulare Lake groundwater subbasin, which includes roughly 837 sq miles in the rural San Joaquin valley, on “probation” in accordance with a sustainable groundwater use law passed a decade ago. Large water users will face fees and state oversight of their pumping.

Water encroaching on a road
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The move, which water officials reassured farmers would be lifted if local agencies progress on developing stronger sustainability plans to mitigate issues, is the first of its kind – but has been years in the making. Over-pumping of groundwater in this region has caused the land to collapse faster than in almost any other area in the country, in some places sinking more than a foot every year. Officials say the Tulare Lake groundwater subbasin failed for years to provide adequate plans to mitigate their well-known water problems.

Such plans are required under California’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a landmark law that required local agencies to come up with their own long-term strategies to curb over-extraction and empowers the state to supervise and enforce them. Probation is a compulsory step to set lagging local agencies back on track to achieve sustainability goals that must be met by 2040.

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

Large-scale factory farms have become the biggest source of water pollution in the U.S.

Your hotdogs and burgers may be doing more than feeding friends at a barbeque.

Large-scale factory farms and confined feedlot operations have become the biggest source of water pollution in the United States.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to monitor factory farm pollution back in 2005 — but it has yet to actually do so. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

Factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs, generate millions — if not billions — of gallons of waste each year. In fact, the largest factory farm has been known to generate up to 369 million tons of waste per year. And while every animal produces waste, this level of highly concentrated manure can wreak serious havoc on the health of the environment and on the public.

When massive amounts of fertilizer, animal waste and other pollutants aren’t managed properly, they foul our waterways and release harmful chemicals like ammonia and methane into the environment. Extended exposure to these potent chemicals can result in serious health consequences such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

Additionally, animal waste can leach toxic heavy metals and nitrates into waterways. Elevated nitrate levels in our drinking water can be dangerous for our health, and even cause low oxygen levels in infants and low birth weight.

These risks are why the EPA announced plans to monitor factory farm pollution almost 20 years ago. However, the agency has yet to release finalized plans to observe factory farm pollution and ultimately make decisions based off of the observations. This delay has allowed factory farms to continue emitting hazardous pollutants without sufficient oversight.

It’s the EPA’s duty to hold major polluting industries responsible and to safeguard public health and the environment in the process.

Spring Traditions and Celebrations: The Past, The Present and the Future of Farming. Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin

Introduction

Eleanor Parker writes in her book, Winters in the World, that “in Anglo-Saxon poetry winter is often imagined as a season when the earth and human beings are imprisoned, kept captive by the ‘fetters of the frost’. Naturally enough, then, spring is associated with images of liberation and freedom once those fetters are released.” (p. 93) Even the title of the book, Winters in the World, described one’s age, e.g. I have 30 winters in the world, a recognition of the harshness of the winters which one had survived.

Historically, the transition from winter to spring was symbolised by many traditions that reflected the end of difficult times and the coming of the new season of growth and rebirth. These traditions ranged from the celebration of vegetation deities through fertility rites, and the public rituals associated with Carnival/Fat Tuesday (February/March), Lent (February/March), Easter (fires/eggs/hares) (March/ April) and Rogation Days (April). Many rituals were taken over by the Christian church and given new meanings which themselves are now being secularised.

However, since the development of industrial farming in the early twentieth century, the connection between local farming and spring rituals associated with the land have declined and taken on a commercialised aspect separated from nature. We can see this with Carnival and Easter, while Lent fasting is not practised so much anymore.

This is not to say that the ending of the underlying reasons for carnival and the fasting of Lent, i.e. the finishing up of winter stocks and the privation until new crops grew, is such a bad thing, but our dependence on the current global system of industrial farming is worrying at a time when climate change is affecting food production around the world.

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

Over 140,000 Farms Lost in 5 Years

Between 2017 and 2022, the number of farms in the U.S. declined by 141,733 or 7%, according to USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture, released on Feb. 13. Acres operated by farm operations during the same timeframe declined by 20.1 million (2.2%), a loss equivalent to an area about the size of Maine. Only 1.88% of acres operated and 1% of farm operations were classified under a non-family corporate farm structure.

Conducted every five years, the Census of Agriculture collects data on land use and ownership, producer characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. USDA defines a farm as an operation that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the census year.

While the number of farm operations and acres operated declined, the value of agricultural production increased, rising from $389 billion in 2017 to $533 billion in 2022 (40% nominally and 17% adjusted for inflation). These updated numbers highlight the continuing trend of fewer operations farming fewer acres of land but producing more each year.

In addition to Ag Census data, USDA releases survey-based estimates on farm numbers once every year. Using this annual survey data dating back to 1950, the trend of fewer operations farming fewer acres becomes even more obvious. Since 1950, the number of farm operations has declined by 3.75 million (66%) and the number of acres farmed declined by 323 million (27%) – slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Technological advancements that have increased productivity, such as feed conversion ratios in livestock and yield per acre in crops, have allowed farmers and ranchers to produce more with less even as the U.S. population more than doubled, going from 159 million in 1950 to 340 million in 2023, and the global population more than tripled (2.5 billion to 8 billion) during the same period.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

France Caves To Farmers As Ireland ‘Solidarity’ Protests Kick Off

France Caves To Farmers As Ireland ‘Solidarity’ Protests Kick Off

Two of France’s main farming unions on Thursday agreed to suspend protests and lift road blockades across the country after the government announced measures the deemed “tangible progress” in the ongoing revolt against EU ‘climate-driven’ initiatives designed to wean society off of evil, non-bug-based, carbon-emitting food while China, India, and the rest of the world laughs.

In addition to France, protests have been held in Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Germany and elsewhere. Last week, tensions came to a head in Brussels when farmers threw eggs and stones at the European Parliament building, demanding that European leaders stop punishing them with more taxes and rising costs to finance the so-called ‘green agenda.’

After French farmers stepped up protests earlier in the week, the government promised on Thursday to extend protections – including better controlling imports and giving farmers additional aid, Reuters reports.

“Everywhere in Europe the same question arises: how do we continue to produce more but better? How can we continue to tackle climate change? How can we avoid unfair competition from foreign countries?,” said Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, announcing the new measures.

In response, France’s main farmers union, FNSEA, announced that it was time to lift the blockades and “go home.” Arnaud Gaillot of the Young Farmers’ union echoed the message, however both unions warned that other types of protests would continue, and they’d be back if the government doesn’t make good on their promises.

Meanwhile in Ireland, farmers began protesting Thursday evening.

“There’s a general dissatisfaction with the level of environmental regulation that is being heaped on farmers, the low margins, and (the) resulting low income the farmers have been suffering from for a very long time now,” said Cathal MacCarthy, media director for the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, adding…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Mess In The West: ‘Army Of God’ Convoy Heads To US Border While EU Farmers Block Cities

Mess In The West: ‘Army Of God’ Convoy Heads To US Border While EU Farmers Block Cities

In the US, a convoy of truckers, calling themselves “God’s Army,” is preparing to embark on a journey from several locations across the Lower 48 to the southern border as tensions soar between Texas and the Biden administration. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, farmers are bearing down on Europe’s capitals – from Bucharest to Warsaw to Brussels – venting frustrations about climate policies. These social instabilities are breaking out ahead of key European and US elections this year.

The organizers of the “Take Our Border Back” convoy are “calling all active & retired law enforcement and military, Veterans, Mama Bears, elected officials, business owners, ranchers, truckers, bikers, media and LAW ABIDING, freedom-loving Americans” to “assemble in honor of our US Constitution and Bill of Rights” at the southern border, in protest against the federal government’s inability to secure the border, according to the convoy’s website.

“Fellow citizens and compatriots … I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character to come to our aid with all dispatch,” Pete Chambers, one of the coalition’s leaders, wrote. “If this call is neglected, we are determined to sustain ourselves as long as possible and act like soldiers who never forget what is due to our own honor and that of our country.”

The convoy plans to “send a message” to government officials at all levels about the need to secure the board amid the multi-year invasion of millions of illegals. Chambers believes Americans are “besieged on all sides” by evil “dark forces.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Avian Flu Is Crushing Farmers

Avian Flu Is Crushing Farmers

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania—The public’s pocketbooks have been hit hard by the skyrocketing cost of eggs in the last few months. Prices have doubled and, in some places, tripled over what they cost a year ago—if you can even find them in your local grocery store.

The average cost of a dozen eggs in the United States is over $4.25, more than twice what it was just a year ago. Options such as cage-free eggs or organic go for over $7. Inflation is a part of the reason, but the agriculture industry says the bigger cause is the outbreak of the avian flu here in the United States a year ago; nationwide, it has affected nearly 60 million birds—nearly 5 million of them here in Pennsylvania.

American consumers love their eggs. The food staple is highly regarded by every walk of life for its simplicity and accessibility; for some families, it is their major source of protein. For others, it is the most important ingredient in baking and the central element in preparing casseroles, pasta, and numerous other dishes.

For many of us, it is hard to make a meal without an egg, so of course consumers are deeply affected by this. However, there is another side of that story that we are not examining. That is the equally devastating economic impact this is having on American poultry farmers and all of those who work with them. Their lives, livelihoods, and family legacies have been upended and even destroyed by the avian flu, a worldwide outbreak that shows no signs of subsiding.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Struggling farmers face another challenge with diesel shortage

Farmer Fuel
Three generations of the Heinrich family of farmers in front of a combine that Tim, right, says can go through 150 gallons of diesel fuel on a busy day. Heinrich family

Just weeks after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order to continue drought relief efforts for farmers in that state, reports of what some are calling a devastating diesel shortage and the higher prices that come with it are rolling in to accompany farmers into the already harsh winter season.

“I’m harvesting soybeans that aren’t even worth harvesting right now,” Oklahoma farmer Tim Heinrich said last month.

Heinrich, who runs a 3,000-acre operation in north central Oklahoma, says a modern combine like the one he uses typically needs about 150 gallons a day to get the job done — a job that might ultimately cost him more in fuel than he will get back in sales. And the combine is just one piece of the operation affected by diesel costs.

“Most of us have diesel pickups that we use to feed cows with all winter long, all the trucks hauling the crops to and from the farm, all of our farm sprayers, our combines and our tractors,” said Heinrich, who also serves on the Garfield County Conservation District board of directors. “All of it is at the mercy of the rising cost of diesel.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its Short Term Energy Outlook in November that diesel prices were nearly 50% higher than they were a year earlier, and reserves were at the lowest level since 1951.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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