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The State of Vermont Arm Wrestles the GMO Cartel – the Biggest Showdown in U.S. Food History

Touch the Soil News #116 –– includes 1 video   Over the last 20 years, the GMO cartel has scored success after success in controlling seeds, promoting chemical agriculture through plants resistant to pesticides, high level lobbying in Congress, the USDA and the FDA and spending millions to block state referendums to have foods labeled that contain GMO crops. In the process of getting their way, the Monsanto Corporation – the lead organization in creating GMO agriculture – has become popularly labeled as the most hated corporation in the world. Over the last three years, several key states have initiated referendums to label foods containing GMOs only to be marginally…

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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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Food Hardship – Is the Solution Food Gardening?

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) recently published its 2014 National, State and Local Index of Food Hardship. Food hardship is a state of being in which there is struggle to put food on the table.  According to the report, food hardship afflicted between 17.2 and 18.6 percent of Americans at various times over the last seven years – that’s between 55 and 61 million people. Here are some of the highlights: Mississippi has the highest food hardship rate of any state at 24.7 percent. About one out of every 4 people in Mississippi is food challenged. North Dakota has the lowest food hardship rate of any state at…

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Hooligan Farm – David Elias Rises to the Challenge

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David Elias from New Jersey (see photo of David with daughter Jasmin) started food gardening in 2010 after losing his job. The immediate economic need to supplement his family’s nutritional needs precipitated the gardening effort. “What motivates me is giving my family an opportunity to eat better at affordable prices and allow them to eat real food that is not processes junk,” says Elias. For Elias, food gardening for the family awakened other visions and opportunities. As a jujitsu teacher and competitor, Elias started seeing the benefits of eating cleaner. Soon he was growing so much that he could sell the extra to friends, family, co-workers, fellow athletes and coaches.…

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Emerging Specs of a Food-Chain Mega Trend (Part 2 of 2)

Farmland

In the realm of theory, our culture likes to believe it is possible for the world to produce (and distribute) enough food for everyone – a world with abundant food. In contrast, investment funds are accumulating – like a storm cloud – to take financial advantage of a world in which food is less than abundant. The largest pension fund management company in the U.S. makes no secret about its emerging target of farmland or why it is doing so. The pension company is called Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF).  TIAA-CREF manages $426 billion in retirement assets for 3.7 million employees with…

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Katie’s Krops – How One Girl Re-instates the Connection Between Gardening and Solving Hunger

KatieWithCropsNow

As much as we may try, the connection between eating and raising food is permanent. From subsistence farming, the world passed the gavel of raising food to farmers and now to industrial farming. In world almost exclusively organized around dollars, hundreds of millions of people have been externalized from the money it takes to buy from the farm via the grocery store. It took a nine year old girl to figure out that solving hunger was somehow related to raising food. Back in 2008, Katie Stagliano – a third grader, took on a school project to raise a cabbage. Her cabbage turned out to be a 40 lb. wonder. She…

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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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The Purchase of General Hydroponics by a Subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro (Part 2 of 2)

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Historically, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company focused on the do-it-yourself home gardener. Its move into hydroponics, via a young subsidiary called Hawthorne Gardening Company, means it is treading into new territory. Scotts is known for its Miracle-Gro, Ortho and Roundup brands. The Roundup is still owned by Monsanto, but the consumer version is marketed exclusively by Scotts. In conjunction with entering into hydroponics, Scotts is on a global goodwill mission to help sponsor more than 1,000 community gardens and green spaces in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. This corporate funding effort is branded GRO1000. This is a rather strange effort, considering Scott’s close ties with Monsanto and the product Roundup. Glyphosate, the…

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The Steady Marching of Investment and Wall Street into Farmland

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The USDA reports that the average value of cropland in 2005 was $2,060 an acre. That number increased to $4,200 an acre in 2014.  Cropland values more than doubled in 9 years. The increasing value of farmland and food prices, have encouraged a universe of investors to invest in farmland. There are large pension funds, insurance companies and now, new-on-the-block Wall-Street stock companies. The events often unfold like this: A farmer, facing a need for cash, looks to the equity in farmland that has been so rapidly escalating. The farmer connects with an investor who doesn’t know how to farm, but is willing to buy the farm and lease it…

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Fruits and Veggies 2015 – Pray for California Water Like You’ve Never Prayed Before

CaliforniaProduce

The statement that water is life can no longer be taken for granted in California. What California means to the rest of the nation is stewardship of the nation’s largest concentration of agricultural capital – 80,000 farms and ranches on 25.4 million acres of productive ground. In 2014, water shortages not only impacted the quality of crops raised, but resulted in 430,000 acres of prime farm ground being left idle. How many acres will it be in 2015? This is the 4th year of drought – now being called the worst drought in over 1,000 years. The drought is primarily one of an extreme lack of snow and rain contributing…

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