Sometimes reality is the best teacher, and when reality yanks someone away from the herd mentality of the anti-modern agriculture movement, we like to give them kudos. Such is the case with Melinda Wenner Moyer, a science writer based in Cold Spring, N.Y. who writes a parenting advice column for Slate.com. Like a lot of moms, Moyer vowed to feed her newborn son only organic, despite the increased cost. Now, a couple of years later, she's asking herself, "I can't help but wonder whether giving my son organic food really makes a difference to his health, considering that he's been known to lick the bottom of his shoes." To find the answer, Moyer talked to toxicologists, horticulturists, risk experts and nutritionists. "What I've discovered has totally surprised me—let's just say I'm going to be a little more relaxed about what I serve kid No. 2." Her research dispels much of what she assumed about organic farming and the expensive food she bought for her son. Thanks Melinda!
$1 Billion Per Page
That's the cost of the new $956 billion farm bill that has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. The Washington Post calls on President Obama to veto the bill since it "gives to the rich and takes from the poor." But even Grist.org's Nathanael Johnson sees some silver linings in this farm bill. For instance, most environmental groups dislike farm subsidies, but they supported this farm bill because it "contains so many good conservation programs." The greenies were happy that crop insurance subsidies were tied to stewardship so farmers can only qualify for the payments if they are following conservation rules. Meanwhile, livestock groups are angry that Congress didn't address problems they see with country of origin labeling regulations in the farm bill. Once it became clear COOL would continue, Canadian officials threatened action. Canada says COOL costs them about $1 billion a year, and Canada's Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz believes that by "refusing to fix country-of-origin labelling, the US is effectively legislating its own citizens out of work."
Scientists Tell Grazing Deniers Cows Aren't the Problem
Eliminating grazing won't reduce the impact of climate change. In fact, grazing animals can actually help "mitigate some of the effects of climate change." That bit of common sense comes from 27 western U.S. scientists who work for nine universities and the USDA. Cows, they remind us, have no influence on the amount of snow pack on western ranges, but they can help reduce "the herbaceous vegetation that becomes fine fuel on rangelands," said co-author Dave Bohnert, Oregon State University. The authors also pointed out that some criticism of grazing has been based on decades-old studies, when the scars of unfettered foraging were still fresh on the landscape.
National Closes Brawley, CA, Plant
National Beef Packing Company announced plans to close its beef processing facility located in Brawley, California as a result of declining fed cattle supplies. The last day of production is expected to be April 4, 2014. Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka says while overall cattle supplies are declining in the U.S., "the situation has been worse in California with the drought." Coupled with Cargill's closure of the Plainview, TX, plant last year, U.S. packing capacity will be cut by 6 percent within 12 months.