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Urban Farms & Chickens – Changing Food One Law at a Time

Feature

Touch the Soil News #236 Urban chicken farmers are passionate about what they do and what they want. While not grabbing national news, grassroots struggles to enable chickens in backyards have been unfolding in cities across the nation for a number of years. Small but steady changes, like the tide, can suddenly take us by surprise on how things have changed when we’re not looking. Painting by Dario de Regoyos. While an urban garden with chickens makes good art, increasing numbers of city folks think it makes for a good backyard. As we speak, the city of Encinitas, California is embroiled in updating its urban farming laws. Presently, the city…

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Mainstream Poultry (Eggs) – Heading for a National Emergency?

AvianFluEuthanization

On April 20, 2015, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency relative to the avian bird flu. The governor even activated the National Guard to help fight the infection. On April 23, 2015, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency to fight the outbreak of avian bird flu affecting millions of birds in the state. On May 1st, 2015, Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad in concert with the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and the Iowa Division of Emergency Management declared a state of emergency – avian influenza outbreak. At the time some 15 million birds have been lost. On May 14,…

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News Roundup – News You Might Have Missed – Vol 2

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April 2015 │ Springdale, Arkansas Tyson Foods announced that it is striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler chicken flocks by the end of September 2017. They will report annually on their progress, beginning with their fiscal 2015 Sustainability Report. Tyson has already stopped using all antibiotics in its 35 broiler hatcheries, requiring a veterinary prescription for antibiotics used on broiler farms and having reduced human antibiotics used to treat broiler chickens by more than 80 percent since 2011. See uploaded video here. April 2015 │ USDA The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that the organic industry continues to show remarkable growth domestically…

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Market Farmer Profile – Stop Waiting and Jump Right In

Erik-Chickens

Farmer Erik (Erick Halvorson) – also a student at WSU Vancouver, Washington – thinks it’s best to take action with one’s dreams. With access to five (5) farmers markets within a 30 minute drive from his small enterprise, Halvorson is one of some 70,000 farms in the U.S. that only sells directly to consumers. Halvorson began in 2013, leasing 5 acres from his parents to fill, what he calls, a childhood dream. Halvorson started his first year on the animal side of things – based on pasture-raised regimens. He offers eggs, pork and turkey. For 2015, Halvorson is expanding his offerings to include vegetables from a ¾ acre market garden.…

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In a Rare Stance of Courage – Former EPA lawyer, Michele Merkel, Blows Whistle on CAFOs

MicheleMerkel

April 11, 2015 │Washington D.C. Attorney Michele Merkel works at the non-profit Food & Water Watch in Washington D.C. Recently, she went public in special video presentation that uncovers the conflicts of interest between the EPA and the environmental, human and health risks of CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). In her own words, Michele (see photo) explains: “I quit my job at EPA because I couldn’t do my job – and now I sue them. Uploaded here is her 14-minute TEDx talk that provides insights into how conflicts of interest – at high federal levels – can take precedence over the general welfare. While we normally stick to shorter video…

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Calling Organic Farmers – You’re Needed in More Places

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April 3, 2015 │The Wall Street Journal According to the Wall Street Journal, the supply chain for certain organic crops is falling short of meeting the demand. Over the past 10 years, sales of organic foods has tripled – with projections of exceeding $45 billion in 2015. It’s not so much the organic veggies and fruits that are falling short, but primarily in the grains such as wheat, oats and corn. In addition there is a need for organic soybeans and even chickens. To try and manage the shortage, a number of companies have reached beyond their normal operations to dabble in farming and work with farmers more directly. Following…

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The Meatrix – Re-visiting the Factory Farm

Meatrix.1

Did you see the original Meatrix video clip? It is a cartoon animation about factory farms and the problems they cause to humans, animals and the environment. The first Meatrix came out in 2003. The film’s animation takes a serious subject and makes learning about it fun and engaging. Since the original, there have been updates including The Meatrix II and the Meatrix II½ which are all done tastefully and in a way that pulls you in. CNN Headline News said the film was: “Fighting back in a way you might not expect. … You don’t want to miss it.” The Seattle Post Intelligencer said: “The Meatrix achieves something we didn’t…

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The Trend Towards Gardening and Backyard Chickens Is Unmistakable

CommunityGardenChickens

Do you ever get the feeling that some things about food and its availability are not quite right? The mind is an amazing thing, as it picks up bits and pieces here and there. This often results in giving us feelings about what we might ought to do. We may not have economics or science degrees, but we can think just as clearly. Overseen by the USDA, the administration of antibiotics to meat animals continues on an upward trend. Reasons include more rapid weight gain, specific disease control or blanket administration just for overall herd protection. According to the Centers for Disease Control each year at least 2 million people…

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The Need for Protein in Human Diets – Enter the Cricket

Friedcrickets.Thailand

Three forces are converging to change what the world will eat in the future: Continued population growth pushing the limits of farmland and water resources. Widespread economic austerity that seeks low cost and high resource efficiency in the food chain. Business models that can wrest a profit amidst forces 1 and 2. A cornerstone of any diet is protein. The three forces listed above have brought protein to the world via practices that have been criticized or condemned. Most meats come from animals administered hormones, antibiotics and life in confined animal feeding operations. These confined environments are ripe for diseases were it not for rigid drug intervention. Dairy and poultry…

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Old New MacDonald Had a Farm – eee iii eee iii ooo

SprayPlane

What is a farm and what is food? I remember my shock when learning about Roundup Ready GMO corn. The corn has been tampered with to create toxins. When the corn borer eats the corn, it kills the pest. Since when does a plant – whose role is to be a pesticide – become food? Most sweeteners, especially in soft drinks, come from corn sweeteners sourced from GMO Roundup Ready corn. In my previous life, as a consultant to stressed farms, many of my clients raised sugar beets. Controlling weeds was a major problem. Around 2008, the sugar beet industry – nationwide – converted to GMO sugar beets. The sugar…

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