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When the Big Overshadows the Little

Touch the Soil News #774 (feature photo – Coat of Arms for the Nation of Zambia – Public Domain) In the wide world of food and agriculture, the world is undergoing a new colonialism. Big nations that are far beyond their capacity to feed themselves are creating tight economic and political relationships with smaller nations that have excess farmland and water. It’s a global game of chess in which the stakes are higher than oil – food. While our big player today is China, there are other powerful food-insecure players on the horizon such as India and oil rich but food poor Middle East nations. Hitting the news recently is…

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Who’s Vying for a Seat at the Dinner Table?

Touch the Soil News #621 While the obvious answer to the question is everyone, the secondary answer is the nation in which you might live. Almost 60 percent of the world’s peoples live in just 10 nations. Can you guess them? Global food trade is the amount of food that nations with food to sell export to nations that need to import food. In a nutshell, that is almost every nation in the world. Even the USA – considered by many as a powerhouse of agricultural production – imports more than $100 billion a year in food. Today, when we think of international trade, the hot topic is imported cars…

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Fonterra – How Complicated Can the Milk Business Get?

Touch the Soil News #617 Fonterra means “spring from the land.” Fonterra is one of the world’s largest dairy producers and manufacturers headquartered in New Zealand. The company is responsible for about 30 percent of the global dairy trade and is the largest company in New Zealand. New Zealand in general and Fonterra in specifics are to dairy what Saudi Arabia is to oil. No, you probably won’t see Fonterra dairy products at the grocery store. However, you might be eating them when you go to McDonalds. Fonterra supplies enough cheese to McDonalds to create a cheese ring that goes 3.5 times around the Earth. Fonterra is a dairy cooperative…

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New Zealand – Feeling Antsy About its Farmland

Touch the Soil News #184 A subject that keeps popping up is that of farmland and farmland ownership. Recently, Shanghai Pengxin made a $56 million offer to buy a 34,000 acre plot of pastureland in New Zealand– suitable for livestock and dairy. The purchase had to go through various New Zealand regulatory bodies for approval. Now, 4 years ago, Shanghai Pengxin purchased 16 dairy farms in New Zealand, the aftermath of which raised lots of public ire. While the New Zealand landowner was ready to ink the deal, regulatory approval ultimately did not. The land in question has been tagged by the New Zealand government as sensitive – i.e. important…

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When it Comes to Food – The Three Big Ominous Shadows Humanity Faces (Part 3 of 3)

Touch the Soil News #163 In part 1, we looked at the shadow cast by topsoil loss. In part 2 we looked at the shadow cast by the financial world as it organized humanity to pave the best farmland. In part 3, we are going to look at a shadow whose path is easily recognized. Grains underpin all baked goods, pastas, meats, poultry products and dairy poducts Nonetheless, grain stocks represent a barometer that can be followed. Each month, the World Agricultural Outlook Board (a USDA committee) estimates what the grain stocks will be and the numbers are adjusted up or down depending upon weather developments, production and consumption. The…

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