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Free Market Dangers to Food

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Touch the Soil News #691 (Photo- Senzeni Zokwana – South African Minister of Agriculture faces huge challenges – CC SA 4.0)) While public discussions are infrequent, the issue of whether or not the realm of food should be removed from free markets and competition is not new. The issue goes deeper than just the free-market concept. All economic efforts – be they individual or business – must first be translated into dollars. Somewhere along the path where free-market concepts and the financial sector intertwine, things can go awry. They can go awry, because neither the free market nor financial world knows how to react to real world issues such as…

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Will 2017 be the year of Famine?

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Touch the Soil News #689 (feature photo CC SA 4.0) While it is something we wish we could just avoid, folks at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are getting uncomfortable to say the least. While reports in recent years have suggested that global hunger is in retreat, 2017 is changing that. The FAO just released a 2017 Food Crisis Report. Globally, in 2016, 108 million people were facing serious food crisis. This represents a dramatic increase to 2015, when some 80 million people were categorized as facing serious food crisis. An increase of 35 percent in the number of people facing serious food crisis over…

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The FAO Reports on Global Food Tremors

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Touch the Soil News #614 The FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations keeps tabs on global food tremors. While some of the issues may be far from home, our interconnected world – politically, socially and ecologically acts like dominoes – we simply cannot completely separate ourselves from ourselves. So, here are some of the food tremors unfolding: Wheat Rust. It’s a fungal disease that is pushing the edges of an epidemic. New strains of wheat rust are popping up around the world and in recent times. Areas vulnerable to wheat rust account for approximately 37 percent of global wheat production (see video below). Cost of basic…

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Almonds for 10.5 million Americans Taken out of Production

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Touch the Soil News #342 The U.S. is the world’s largest almond producer. California is the largest almond producing state. With prices more than 1/3 below historical averages and severe water shortages in California, a big hit is coming. The nation’s largest almond grower – Wonderful Orchards – recently announced it was taking out 10,000 acres of almonds due to water constraints and poor prices. One acre of almond trees produces about 2,100 lbs. of almonds a year. Americans eat an average of 2 lbs. of almonds a year. The 10,000-acre curtailment of almond orchards represents the annual consumption of 10.5 million Americans. It’s hard to imagine taking a buldozer…

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Climate Volatility Math – $300 Million Lost in South Carolina Crops

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Touch the Soil News #204 “Over the past few days here in South Carolina, I’ve watched, worried and prayed for friends and families who have been terribly impacted by this natural disaster.” – Hugh E Weathers, Commissioner South Carolina Department of Agriculture. Flooded cropland in South Carolina (photo courtesy of SC Dept. of Ag) The drought earlier in the season in South Carolina, plus the flooding this fall, has turned the situation into a state of emergency.   With thousands of farm acres under water, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture estimates crop losses will total $300 million or more. This represents about 10 percent of South Carolina’s $3 billion…

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California – Caught in a Frightening Overshoot

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Touch the Soil News # 183 Overshoot is a condition in which consumption of resources “overshoots” the availability of resources. In the case of California, the overshoot relates to water consumption. Following are a few updates on the California Drought as of 9/1/2015: NASA research shows that increased groundwater pumping – what Californian’s are doing to offset the lack of snow and rain – is causing widespread land subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley. Subsidence means the land is dropping in elevation as the water underneath is permanently withdrawn. Some areas in the San Joaquin Valley are sinking two inches per month. Approximately 2,225 wells have been identified as critical…

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Dangers of Large-Scale Farming – 7,000 People Without Running Water

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Touch the Soil News # 181 The standard economic plan – for centuries – has been one of producing something to sell focusing on the financial cost and not the environmental cost. After decades of intensive farming in California’s Central Valley, a different realization has come home to roost. The area’s water was being exported in the form of food. For decades, the area has depended upon taking more water out of the ground that was being replenished in order to sustain agricultural production. The California drought just escalated the speed at which groundwater was withdrawn in excess of replenishment. The community of East Porterville in Tulare County, California is…

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