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Food and the Purpose of Money

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Touch the Soil News #640 What is the purpose of money? Recently over 140 civil groups in the European Union have called for dramatic reform of food and farming. The groups have sent an open letter to EU leaders who are meeting to discuss the future of food and farming in the European Union. The claim of the 140 signatories to the letter are quite direct: European Union Farm policies (which include farm subsidies) are working for the interests of a few to the detriment of the majority of people, farmers and the planet. The 140 civil groups are requesting: Creating fair and diverse farm economies along with fair incomes…

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U.S. Agriculture – Caution

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Touch the Soil News #600 Rhetoric is hot. The nation is threatening to increase import tariffs on foreign autos coming into America. Particularly hot are the issues of U.S. automakers and their factories in Mexico and threats to impose high tariffs on German-built cars coming into the states. While it may seem odd, trade decisions about cars must be weighed in balance with trade decisions about agriculture and financial decisions about interest rates. Take Mexico for instance. Mexico is one of the largest destinations for U.S. agricultural production. According to the USDA, Mexico buys about $20 billion a year in agricultural and food products from America. If Mexican jobs are curtailed…

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The External Tentacles on American Agriculture

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Touch the Soil News #501 Few folks realize that global trade agreements mean that foreign interests can own and operate agricultural enterprises in America the same as Americans. Back in 2013, the world’s largest pork processing company – Smithfield Foods – was purchased by Chinese state-supported company Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. for $14 billion. Brands such as Smithfield, Nathan’s, Armour and Farmland are icons in America – but are Chinese owned. Today, Smithfield has over 50,000 employees in the U.S., Mexico and 10 European countries. The company also owns the world’s largest slaughterhouse and meat-processing plan in the world located in Tar Heel, North Carolina. Overall, the company processes over…

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Food and Cities – This is Way Out!! (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #407 As we covered in Part 1, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs sponsored the 140 page report called: GROWING FOOD FOR GROWING CITIES – Transforming Food Systems in an Urbanizing World. After reviewing much data and providing much dialogue, the report issued its recommendations on what should be done about global food and agriculture. As you will see, many of the recommendations require action by Congress. Do you think Congress should follow the lead of this “think tank” material? The report had four (4) broad recommendations: Develop, implement, and strengthen policies for global food security. Included were recommendations that the U.S. Congress pass authorizing legislation…

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Food and Cities – This is Way Out!! (Part 1 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #406 “Think Tanks,” even though they have been around for decades do what they say they do – thinking – but for who? Consider the complexities of the world and massive amounts of information. Individual politicians not as proficient at assembling and digesting volumes of data into some kind of policy or direction. Hence the power of Think Tanks to provide solutions to politicians. A constant question is what sort of agendas are weaved into “think tank” material? Recently, a powerful policy organization (think tank) – The Chicago Council on Global Affairs – sponsored the coming together of 23 people – all highly educated and experienced in…

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Is America on the Cusp of a Game-Changing Movement?

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Touch the Soil News #305 Located in Southeastern Iowa is Johnson County – home to some 132,000 people. Recently the Johnson County Extension service created a new position – a first in Iowa (maybe in the nation). The position is for a Local Food and Planning Specialist for Johnson County. The position is designed to bolster the local foods supply chain around the Iowa City area – the county seat of Johnson County. Unlike the USDA which is focused primarily on industrial agriculture and exports, Johnson County wants to develop and expand the production and consumption of food in the Iowa City area. The County just hired Shanti Sellz, an…

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