agriculture

The birds, bees & buffer coalition: Will pheasants find friendly habitat in the 2015 session?

Governor Dayton's Pheasant Summit generated some fascinating copy, including an interview with Minnesota Ag Commissioner Dave Frederickson in which he talked about just abolishing laws that require buffer strips regulations to be enforced because preserving water quality and habitat just creates too many hard feelings.

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A rural take in defense of Rep. Jean Wagenius

A farmer friend emailed us yesterday:

Jean Wagenius has been a friend of family farmers in the last two years(and for that matter for a whole lot of years that she has served in the legislature) that she chaired the environment and agriculture finance committee on a number of issues, naming two of which are pollinators and “Forever Green”. She has been a strong defender of environmental review and gets that rural citizens should have rights to have a say about air and water quality in their community. Republican leadership acts like they are going to be bi-partisan but actions are louder than words.

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Crop insurance: Good enough for Monsanto, good enough for sustainable agriculture

From the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction department: In 2007, Monsanto talked the USDA’s Risk Management Agency into giving farmers a discount on crop insurance premiums if they planted the company’s triple-stacked GMO corn. Reportedly, some reviewers of the proposal raised concerns that the premium subsidy would unfairly benefit a single private company.

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Will the global climate talks address the challenges for agriculture?

The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), a body under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), started on Monday, at the General Army Headquarters in Lima, Peru. With almost 30 tents set up across the premises, and thousands of representatives from governments and observer organizations running between plenaries, contact groups, and side events, the climate change negotiations are in full throttle.

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5 below. In the dark. Under the coop.

I started riding NYC subways and buses on my own when I was about 12. My sister and I would take the elevated train to music lessons Saturday mornings – me for flute, Cathy for clarinet. For a short stint, we rode into downtown Manhattan on afternoons to clean cages and welcome visitors at the ASPCA.

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"To lay an egg" – city style vs farm style

A milestone.

Even as a kid in New York City, I knew that “to lay an egg” was not a good thing. It meant you’d failed to do something you’d set out to accomplish – and everybody knew it. Why’s an egg synonymous with failure? According to numbers of Internet sources, it’s because an egg resembles a zero; and zilch is what goes up on the board when you fail to score.

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Milk costs straining shops

(Photo by Zachary Bielinski) Barista Allison Noble makes a drink with soy milk Monday, Nov. 10 at Bordertown Coffee. Local businesses say they are trying to avoid increasing their prices while the cost of milk rises.

Stephen Miller paid $3.15 for a gallon of 2 percent milk in August. Two weeks ago, he paid about $3.45 per gallon.

Though it was a price increase of about 30 cents, Miller, the manager of Bordertown Coffee on 16th Avenue Southeast, said that extra money adds up for the shop, which goes through about 45 gallons of milk each week.

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Don't let Big Meat eat our bumper crop

The last few years have not been good for the factory farm industry. High prices for corn and other crops (in part driven by the growth of ethanol) made feed costs incredibly high, while at the same time, environmental and animal welfare advocates have been winning ballot and marketplace battles to shift more meat production out of intensive confinement and industrial systems. Hog and cattle producers have been hit by disease, drought and weather related disasters, resulting in losses in both sectors.

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Trade vs. local economies: Procurement on the table

Communities across the United States and Europe are working to transform local economic systems so that they are more sustainable and equitable. Many states and communities are utilizing public procurement programs to support those efforts, especially bidding preferences for healthy, locally grown foods, energy or transportation programs that create local jobs and fair markets. Especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Buy American programs have helped ensure that taxpayer-funded programs create local jobs and serve social goals. Farm to School programs that incentivize purchases from local farmers have grown in all 50 U.S. states and many European countries. Innovative efforts are also underway to expand this approach to other institutions such as hospitals, universities and early childcare programs like Head Start.

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FEAST fosters local growers, sustainable food

Locally grown and locally sourced foods are making a real comeback, not only at co-op groceries but on chefs' menus, in public school lunches and at mainstream grocery stores.

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