IATP's blog

Repealing the Monsanto Protection Act

On Saturday, May 25, IATP participated in the March Against Monsanto (MAM) in St. Paul, Minnesota. The MAM took place in 436 cities in 52 countries, with an estimated two million participants. Monsanto was the focus not only because of the scale and reach of its products, but because of its undue influence on the global food system. A recent Food and Water Watch report, summarizing 936 Wikileaks documents, gives an idea of what the U.S. State Department has done to change laws and enable sales of Monsanto products around the world. Indeed, multiple U.S. federal agencies have advanced the company’s commercial interests, in the face of the rejection of Monsanto products by many farmers, consumers, academics and governments. Nevertheless, in the name of free trade and food security, the U.S. promotes GMOs to “feed the world.”

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Spring to summer: Frack sand mining meets fracking

The spring campaign season against frac sand mining has started to take off. It’s not that we’ve been sitting quietly all winter biding our time. As many town boards and county supervisors can tell you, opposition to frac sand mining in the Driftless region of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa has been churning away for months, but something happened when the ice finally melted and the first Spring Beauties bloomed in the woods. In Minnesota, Representative Matt Schmitt from Redwing introduced legislation to limit sand mining near trout streams. On April 29th, 35 Catholic Workers and friends were arrested in Winona protesting at two frac sand operations. On May 15th, IATP, Wisconsin Farmers Union and the Wisconsin Towns Association released a report raising concerns about the economic impact of frac sand mining in West Central Wisconsin. And coming up on June 1 in Black River Falls, a regional conference called Standing Against the Sand Storm will bring together community leaders and activists from across region to address the growing threat from industrial sand mining and find ways that we can work together.

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Farm Bill ignores climate change—mostly

In all of the discussions and proposals associated with the current Farm Bill debate, climate change has gotten little official recognition (although we have pointed out that from IATP’s perspective, the singular focus on crop insurance is clear evidence that climate change is the primary concern of farmers and agriculture state politicians). As the Farm Bill debate goes to the Senate floor, we applaud two amendments that are trying to bring greater recognition of climate change to the farm policy discussion.

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Making food aid work for those who need it (rather than those who profit from it)

IATP joins many NGOs, academics and policy experts today in celebrating a move that could make U.S. food aid more efficient and responsive to the world’s hungry. Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2014 proposes to shift close to half the food aid budget to procuring food aid from local and regional markets rather than the shipping U.S. grains on U.S. ships halfway around the world. With local and regional purchasing, food aid can get to those who need it faster and cheaper while also building local capacity to deal with an increasingly unstable international food supply. It’s a big move, especially when you consider U.S. food aid makes up more than half of all food aid worldwide.

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The price of perfection is immense food waste

It’s tough not being perfect. Everyone who has ever had a bad hair day knows that. And that’s no more true than for those misshapen, oddly sized fruits and vegetables that Mother Nature inevitably produces. For them, the price of being imperfect is being consigned to a slow death, rotting in the farm field or the landfill, while their cosmetically perfect brothers and sisters head off to a grocery store near you.

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Resilience means taking the long view on climate change

In our final “Climate change, agriculture and resilience” video—the series we’ve been publishing all week in the lead up to the MOSES Organic Farming conference—it’s all about being different.

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Building stability through biodiversity: Facing climate change with Martin and Loretta Jaus

“I think we came in April and it was within a month or two when all the ground was still bare and black and we had one of those two- or three-day blows and I had drifts of soil on my window sills and I'm thinking ‘Hmmm this isn't good.’ That was probably what sparked us to start making some of the changes we did.”

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Raising the minimum wage just the tip of the food justice iceberg

In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for the federal minimum wage to be raised to $9 an hour and linked hereafter to the cost of living, so that it will rise along with inflation. He pointed out that a couple with two children working full time at the current minimum wage are still living below the poverty line. If Congress responds to this call, it will be a step in the right direction for building a just food system in America. Workers in fields, food processing plants, restaurants and supermarkets are among the lowest paid in the country. A higher minimum wage would be an important step toward ensuring that the people who feed our society can also feed their own families.

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Food crisis update: Main drivers of price volatility still not addressed

Last year international food markets suffered their third price spike in five years. The trigger was a terrible drought in the United States—a major agricultural producer and exporter. An unstable climate met low levels of international grain reserves, while U.S. ethanol gobbled up maize supplies. The resulting high and volatile prices struck yet another blow at the world’s already fragile food systems.

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Childcare: Fertile ground for healthy young eaters

When a four year old in our project was asked recently where carrots come from, he pretty well nailed it: “The ground, and farmers water them and pick them and give them to people and bunnies too, and stores.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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