Soil is the digestive system of the earth.  Think about it: organisms in the soil consume, digest, and recycle organic matter—just like your stomach digests the food you eat.  Like your gut, the soil is a living organ, teeming with microorganisms that are tasked with exchanging nutrients and keeping plants and ecosystems healthy.  And like your diet, improper “food”—what we add to the soil—can make it very sick or very healthy.

 

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A powerful solution to the climate crisis can be found right beneath our feet—in the soil. By harnessing the immense power of photosynthesis, we can convert atmospheric carbon, a problem, into soil carbon, a solution. Emerging science proves that shifting to regenerative forms of agriculture such as agroecology, agroforestry, cover-cropping, holistic grazing and permaculture will allow us to store excess carbon safely in the ground.

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Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

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An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a day. That’s over 1,000 meals a year! Say you live with three other people – that’s over 4,000 meals in one household.  Each of those meals has the potential to contribute to climate change, or to help solve it.

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Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

', 3 => 'https://soilsolution.org/', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'soil-report-hero_498x312_56037.jpg', 1 => '[MINI REPORT] Soil & Carbon: Soil Solutions to Climate Problems', 2 => '

An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

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One of our biggest potential climate allies is directly under our feet: soil. Healthy, living soil has an enormous capacity to store carbon. In fact, carbon stored in soil accounts for roughly three times the amount stored in the atmosphere! Improving the health of degraded soil holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change.

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Take the Cool Foods pledge and do your part to stabilize the earth’s climate by being more thoughtful about the way you eat.


Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign provides information about the connection between agriculture, food and a stable climate.

Everyone eats, so everyone can join our campaign!

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This weekend, hundreds of thousands of citizens will march in Washington, D.C., and around the world, raising their voices to demand action on climate change, one of the most critical issues of our day.

Energy and fossil fuel will be at the center of the dialogue, of course, but it’s also critical to address the reality that our industrial agriculture system—drenched in fossil fuels and sucking up energy, water, and other critical resources—is a leading climate change culprit. In fact, agriculture systems contribute at least 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Even more stunning, use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers on agriculture crops accounts for approximately 60 percent of global nitrous oxide emissions, a compound around 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

It doesn’t have to be this way: A global shift to sustainable farming will not only help create a stable climate, it will also improve food and water security and safety, sustainable rural livelihoods, and environmental health. But industrial agriculture requires the production and use of toxic chemicals; converts forests, marshes, and other lands to agricultural uses; and encourages excessive tillage, unhealthy livestock-rearing conditions, and long-distance food transport—all climate-changing practices responsible for inefficiencies, inequities, and conflict the world over.

Massive use of agricultural chemicals has degraded the health of our soils so significantly that crop yields have plateaued or collapsed in some regions. Scientists estimate that 50 to 70 percent of carbon has been lost in industrially farmed soils. That carbon escapes into the atmosphere, causing increased levels of CO2. It also dissolves into our oceans, causing raised acidity levels that threaten marine life and critical food systems. Additionally, after decades of intensive over-use, pest and plant diseases are becoming resistant to fossil fuel-based chemicals.

On the inequity front, despite the supposed merits of our global industrial agriculture system, at least 2 billion people around the globe are chronically undernourished. And climate change further exacerbates food insecurity. Global agencies agree that crop productivity will markedly decline over the next few decades in Central America, South and Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa—regions already hard-hit by unstable food supply.

Catastrophic weather related to global warming not only spikes food insecurity, but leads to national and international conflicts over resources, migration and refugees. Take for example the current crisis in Syria. Very few would utter the words “climate change” in the same sentence as “the war in Syria,” but the truth is global warming in the region played a significant role in the present tragedy.

Between 2006 and 2011, more than 60 percent of Syrian territory experienced the worst long-term drought in recorded history. Water resources were cut in half. The primary wheat-growing region lost 75 percent of its crops and 85 percent of its livestock. This climate and food crisis triggered extreme poverty for millions of Syrians and massive migration from rural communities to overcrowded cities, exposing the government’s inability or refusal to help and stressing ethnic and religious tensions.

Hope for Farming, Hope for the Planet

However, on the climate and agriculture front, there is reason to hope. While agriculture is currently a big part of the climate change problem, it has the potential to be a big part of the solution. We can reduce or eliminate our food system’s chemical dependency—which will lower GHG emissions, rebuild healthy soils and fertility, and restore watersheds, among other benefits.

We must ditch our massive monoculture approach and build resilience to extreme, unpredictable weather by bringing back crop diversity. We need to smartly reintegrate livestock into farming systems, rather than into animal factories. We need to provide economic assistance to farmers and rural communities to generate viable incomes from ecological agricultural practices.

One of the most promising aspects of truly climate-friendly agriculture is found in emerging soil science that shows ecological farming can draw down carbon from the atmosphere and put it back into the soil where it can contribute to healthy, functioning ecosystems. This science is especially consequential given that scientists agree that we are beyond simply cutting back on GHGs; we must pursue “net negative emission” strategies to avoid utter catastrophe.

Yes, there are challenges to transitioning away from a global warming intensive, industrial food and farm system, but it is clear that it will be at our peril if we continue on our present path. For most of this century, governments have invested billions of dollars in our fossil-fuel driven, chemically dependent agricultural model. Governments must instead invest in practices and people that promote a resilient and healthy climate, food, and water future.

So let’s march. But if we’re going to get serious about curbing climate change, then we need to get serious about addressing agriculture as both a profound problem and a hopeful solution.

This piece was originally posted in Civil Eats.

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This weekend, hundreds of thousands of citizens will march in Washington, D.C., and around the world, raising their voices to demand action on climate change, one of the most critical issues of our day.

Energy and fossil fuel will be at the center of the dialogue, of course, but it’s also critical to address the reality that our industrial agriculture system—drenched in fossil fuels and sucking up energy, water, and other critical resources—is a leading climate change culprit. In fact, agriculture systems contribute at least 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Even more stunning, use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers on agriculture crops accounts for approximately 60 percent of global nitrous oxide emissions, a compound around 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

It doesn’t have to be this way: A global shift to sustainable farming will not only help create a stable climate, it will also improve food and water security and safety, sustainable rural livelihoods, and environmental health. But industrial agriculture requires the production and use of toxic chemicals; converts forests, marshes, and other lands to agricultural uses; and encourages excessive tillage, unhealthy livestock-rearing conditions, and long-distance food transport—all climate-changing practices responsible for inefficiencies, inequities, and conflict the world over.

Massive use of agricultural chemicals has degraded the health of our soils so significantly that crop yields have plateaued or collapsed in some regions. Scientists estimate that 50 to 70 percent of carbon has been lost in industrially farmed soils. That carbon escapes into the atmosphere, causing increased levels of CO2. It also dissolves into our oceans, causing raised acidity levels that threaten marine life and critical food systems. Additionally, after decades of intensive over-use, pest and plant diseases are becoming resistant to fossil fuel-based chemicals.

On the inequity front, despite the supposed merits of our global industrial agriculture system, at least 2 billion people around the globe are chronically undernourished. And climate change further exacerbates food insecurity. Global agencies agree that crop productivity will markedly decline over the next few decades in Central America, South and Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa—regions already hard-hit by unstable food supply.

Catastrophic weather related to global warming not only spikes food insecurity, but leads to national and international conflicts over resources, migration and refugees. Take for example the current crisis in Syria. Very few would utter the words “climate change” in the same sentence as “the war in Syria,” but the truth is global warming in the region played a significant role in the present tragedy.

Between 2006 and 2011, more than 60 percent of Syrian territory experienced the worst long-term drought in recorded history. Water resources were cut in half. The primary wheat-growing region lost 75 percent of its crops and 85 percent of its livestock. This climate and food crisis triggered extreme poverty for millions of Syrians and massive migration from rural communities to overcrowded cities, exposing the government’s inability or refusal to help and stressing ethnic and religious tensions.

Hope for Farming, Hope for the Planet

However, on the climate and agriculture front, there is reason to hope. While agriculture is currently a big part of the climate change problem, it has the potential to be a big part of the solution. We can reduce or eliminate our food system’s chemical dependency—which will lower GHG emissions, rebuild healthy soils and fertility, and restore watersheds, among other benefits.

We must ditch our massive monoculture approach and build resilience to extreme, unpredictable weather by bringing back crop diversity. We need to smartly reintegrate livestock into farming systems, rather than into animal factories. We need to provide economic assistance to farmers and rural communities to generate viable incomes from ecological agricultural practices.

One of the most promising aspects of truly climate-friendly agriculture is found in emerging soil science that shows ecological farming can draw down carbon from the atmosphere and put it back into the soil where it can contribute to healthy, functioning ecosystems. This science is especially consequential given that scientists agree that we are beyond simply cutting back on GHGs; we must pursue “net negative emission” strategies to avoid utter catastrophe.

Yes, there are challenges to transitioning away from a global warming intensive, industrial food and farm system, but it is clear that it will be at our peril if we continue on our present path. For most of this century, governments have invested billions of dollars in our fossil-fuel driven, chemically dependent agricultural model. Governments must instead invest in practices and people that promote a resilient and healthy climate, food, and water future.

So let’s march. But if we’re going to get serious about curbing climate change, then we need to get serious about addressing agriculture as both a profound problem and a hopeful solution.

This piece was originally posted in Civil Eats.

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During my tenure as an intern with CFS, I’ve had the opportunity to research a wide variety of issues pertaining to our food system, such as pollinator health, animal production, and genetic engineering. Recently, I got to attend Farm Bill 2018: Policy, Politics and Potential Symposium, and wanted to share some of what I learned. The American University School of International Service and the Berkeley Food Institute co-hosted this important gathering of activists, academics, scientists and policymakers. Experts from all disciplines and agricultural arenas came together to lay out what issues the next Farm Bill should tackle.

The great news was that overall, various speakers seemed to agree that the next Farm Bill should make efforts to be more inclusive, push back Big Agriculture consolidation, and incentivize environmentally friendly practices.

What does inclusivity have to do with farming?

Our food system depends on many whose sacrifices often go unacknowledged, but a fresh Farm Bill is a chance to change that. Ideally, funds will shift from supporting industrial agriculture towards investing in the wellbeing of rural Americans, minorities, farm workers, and new farmers.

While cities are quickly growing, the rural America that supports our food system is dwindling. Not just in numbers, but in resources as well. Many rural communities lack technical resources, such as internet access and multiple U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offices, but also more essential resources, such as clean water and hospital access. This constricts growth in these areas and encourages communities to disperse. To revitalize these communities, Congress should consider investing in rural county infrastructure development.

Minorities and farm workers are two other groups that, while integral to our food system, are frequently left out of the conversation. The Hopi Indian tribe was one example highlighted at the symposium. Their intrinsic connection with the land inspires communal stewardship with environmentally friendly practices that have been used for generations. Unfortunately, this vision is not always compatible with governmental assistance programs. A key to solving this discrepancy is increasing communication between USDA, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and Indian tribes to explore the successes in Indian country and how to better incorporate their valuable relationship to the land into our food system.

In order to ensure a resilient food system, it’s imperative we educate and invest in the next generation of farmers. Currently, the average age of farmers in America is 60 years-old, so it’s crucial to look at the most effective ways to grow the next generation of farmers who will be stewards of the land and supported by the communities they feed. Some suggestions for how to do this include: forgiving student loans for those studying agricultural sciences, funding new farmer programs that teach sustainable agricultural and business management practices, or moving some assets from financial assistance programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) away from industrial producers and toward new farmers.

Are our farmers getting what they deserve?

How can American farmers, who work strenuous twelve to fourteen hour work days while in season, be projected to see a nine percent decrease in their farm income from 2016 to 2017? If this forecast is correct, this would reflect a 50% drop from net farm incomes in 2013. Experts suggest this is primarily linked to an increase in commodity crop supply which drives down prices farmers receive. Big agribusiness consolidation has also impeded farmer returns. By buying up smaller producers, larger companies control the production methods all along the supply chain and pressure the smaller producers to “get big or get out.” The result: production values fall and contracted producers become price takers. Solutions proposed at the symposium include: managing crop supply to control prices, investing in independent producers, and dismantling monopolies.

How can we encourage farmers to use environmentally friendly practices?

Industrial agriculture practices are often associated with soil, air and water contamination. Experts are looking for practical ways to incentivize farmers and businesses to incorporate environmentally-friendly practices without burdening them. For one, land-grant university research is supported by government and corporate funding. Corporate funding, not surprisingly, is awarded to projects that can further their agendas and government funding for agriculture research is in peril. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) are both on the chopping block for the next Farm Bill. Without these grant programs, researchers will have to halt their projects and innovations from the field of sustainable agriculture will be at a standstill.

This is why some experts are looking for partnerships between private corporations and the government to financially support sustainable agriculture research and practices. If corporations join the cause, they have the power to inspire positive changes all along their supply chain while still supporting their farmer base.

In addition to increasing funding for research and education, some experts suggest incentivizing farmers by altering subsidy and crop insurance programs. Crop insurance is essential, but current programs don’t always support sustainable practices such as cover cropping. Many experts have therefore proposed linking subsidies and insurance returns to farmers with conservation plans that increase biodiversity, support pollinators, or prevent pollution, etc.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider before an October 1st deadline for a new Farm Bill. Experts and advocates are looking for ways to increase the resiliency of the food system in the next Farm Bill. Ultimately, it seems the first step is to improve communication with advocacy organizations, government groups, corporate interests, and most importantly – farmers.

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a day. That’s over 1,000 meals a year! Say you live with three other people – that’s over 4,000 meals in one household.  Each of those meals has the potential to contribute to climate change, or to help solve it.

', ), 'lead_img' => 'tara_firma_farms1_87225.jpg', 'gallery' => array ( 0 => array ( 0 => 'tara_firma_farms1_87225.jpg', 1 => 'Visit CFS’s Soil Solutions Website', 2 => '

Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

', 3 => 'https://soilsolution.org/', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'soil-report-hero_498x312_56037.jpg', 1 => '[MINI REPORT] Soil & Carbon: Soil Solutions to Climate Problems', 2 => '

An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

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One of our biggest potential climate allies is directly under our feet: soil. Healthy, living soil has an enormous capacity to store carbon. In fact, carbon stored in soil accounts for roughly three times the amount stored in the atmosphere! Improving the health of degraded soil holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change.

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Take the Cool Foods pledge and do your part to stabilize the earth’s climate by being more thoughtful about the way you eat.


Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign provides information about the connection between agriculture, food and a stable climate.

Everyone eats, so everyone can join our campaign!

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During my tenure as an intern with CFS, I’ve had the opportunity to research a wide variety of issues pertaining to our food system, such as pollinator health, animal production, and genetic engineering. Recently, I got to attend Farm Bill 2018: Policy, Politics and Potential Symposium, and wanted to share some of what I learned. The American University School of International Service and the Berkeley Food Institute co-hosted this important gathering of activists, academics, scientists and policymakers. Experts from all disciplines and agricultural arenas came together to lay out what issues the next Farm Bill should tackle.

The great news was that overall, various speakers seemed to agree that the next Farm Bill should make efforts to be more inclusive, push back Big Agriculture consolidation, and incentivize environmentally friendly practices.

What does inclusivity have to do with farming?

Our food system depends on many whose sacrifices often go unacknowledged, but a fresh Farm Bill is a chance to change that. Ideally, funds will shift from supporting industrial agriculture towards investing in the wellbeing of rural Americans, minorities, farm workers, and new farmers.

While cities are quickly growing, the rural America that supports our food system is dwindling. Not just in numbers, but in resources as well. Many rural communities lack technical resources, such as internet access and multiple U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offices, but also more essential resources, such as clean water and hospital access. This constricts growth in these areas and encourages communities to disperse. To revitalize these communities, Congress should consider investing in rural county infrastructure development.

Minorities and farm workers are two other groups that, while integral to our food system, are frequently left out of the conversation. The Hopi Indian tribe was one example highlighted at the symposium. Their intrinsic connection with the land inspires communal stewardship with environmentally friendly practices that have been used for generations. Unfortunately, this vision is not always compatible with governmental assistance programs. A key to solving this discrepancy is increasing communication between USDA, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and Indian tribes to explore the successes in Indian country and how to better incorporate their valuable relationship to the land into our food system.

In order to ensure a resilient food system, it’s imperative we educate and invest in the next generation of farmers. Currently, the average age of farmers in America is 60 years-old, so it’s crucial to look at the most effective ways to grow the next generation of farmers who will be stewards of the land and supported by the communities they feed. Some suggestions for how to do this include: forgiving student loans for those studying agricultural sciences, funding new farmer programs that teach sustainable agricultural and business management practices, or moving some assets from financial assistance programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) away from industrial producers and toward new farmers.

Are our farmers getting what they deserve?

How can American farmers, who work strenuous twelve to fourteen hour work days while in season, be projected to see a nine percent decrease in their farm income from 2016 to 2017? If this forecast is correct, this would reflect a 50% drop from net farm incomes in 2013. Experts suggest this is primarily linked to an increase in commodity crop supply which drives down prices farmers receive. Big agribusiness consolidation has also impeded farmer returns. By buying up smaller producers, larger companies control the production methods all along the supply chain and pressure the smaller producers to “get big or get out.” The result: production values fall and contracted producers become price takers. Solutions proposed at the symposium include: managing crop supply to control prices, investing in independent producers, and dismantling monopolies.

How can we encourage farmers to use environmentally friendly practices?

Industrial agriculture practices are often associated with soil, air and water contamination. Experts are looking for practical ways to incentivize farmers and businesses to incorporate environmentally-friendly practices without burdening them. For one, land-grant university research is supported by government and corporate funding. Corporate funding, not surprisingly, is awarded to projects that can further their agendas and government funding for agriculture research is in peril. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) are both on the chopping block for the next Farm Bill. Without these grant programs, researchers will have to halt their projects and innovations from the field of sustainable agriculture will be at a standstill.

This is why some experts are looking for partnerships between private corporations and the government to financially support sustainable agriculture research and practices. If corporations join the cause, they have the power to inspire positive changes all along their supply chain while still supporting their farmer base.

In addition to increasing funding for research and education, some experts suggest incentivizing farmers by altering subsidy and crop insurance programs. Crop insurance is essential, but current programs don’t always support sustainable practices such as cover cropping. Many experts have therefore proposed linking subsidies and insurance returns to farmers with conservation plans that increase biodiversity, support pollinators, or prevent pollution, etc.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider before an October 1st deadline for a new Farm Bill. Experts and advocates are looking for ways to increase the resiliency of the food system in the next Farm Bill. Ultimately, it seems the first step is to improve communication with advocacy organizations, government groups, corporate interests, and most importantly – farmers.

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. 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Recently, I got to attend Farm Bill 2018: Policy, Poli.', 'page' => array ( 'id' => '4918', 'SECTION_ID' => '186', 'PARENT_ID' => '0', 'BLOCK_ID' => '0', 'order' => '71', 'visible' => '1', 'feature' => '0', 'hide' => '0', 'name1' => 'Moooo-ve Over Big Ag: Fresh Farm Bill Ideas for 2018', 'url' => 'moooo-ve-over-big-ag-fresh-farm-bill-ideas-for-2018', 'bitly' => 'http://bit.ly/2ocJTEg', 'lead_img' => 'death_to_stock_photography_farm_4_01528.jpg', 'meta_title' => 'Center for Food Safety | Blog | | Moooo-ve Over Big Ag: Fresh Farm Bill Ideas for 2018', 'meta_desc' => 'Moooo-ve Over Big Ag: Fresh Farm Bill Ideas for 2018 During my tenure as an intern with CFS, I’ve had the opportunity to research a wide...', 'meta_img' => 'death_to_stock_photography_farm_4_01528.jpg', 'meta_json' => '', 'update_meta_title' => '1', 'update_meta_desc' => '0', 'update_meta_img' => '0', 'update_meta_json' => '0', 'start_time' => '0', 'end_time' => '0', ), 'section' => array ( 'id' => '186', 'PARENT_ID' => '486', 'PAGE_ID' => '0', 'name1' => 'Blog', 'url' => 'blog', 'hide' => '0', 'order' => '2', ), 'bid_5960' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Subtitle', 'block_type' => 'Plain Text', 'block_alias' => 'subtitle', 'post_id' => '43941', 'content' => array ( ), ), 'bid_3610' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Related Issue 2', 'block_type' => 'Relation', 'block_alias' => 'rel2', 'post_id' => '43946', 'content' => array ( ), ), 'bid_3611' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Related Issue 3', 'block_type' => 'Relation', 'block_alias' => 'rel3', 'post_id' => '43947', 'content' => array ( ), ), 'bid_2295' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Keywords', 'block_type' => 'Tags', 'block_alias' => 'tags', 'post_id' => '43950', 'content' => array ( ), ), 'bid_1102' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Hash Tag', 'block_type' => 'Grouping', 'block_alias' => 'hash_tag', 'post_id' => '43954', 'content' => array ( ), ), 'bid_5598' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Hide', 'block_type' => 'Hide - In \'page\' table', 'block_alias' => '', 'post_id' => '63155', 'content' => array ( ), ), 'alias' => array ( 'title' => 'Moooo-ve Over Big Ag: Fresh Farm Bill Ideas for 2018', 'desc_short' => 'By: Amanda Mainello, Research and Administrative Intern', 'desc' => '

During my tenure as an intern with CFS, I’ve had the opportunity to research a wide variety of issues pertaining to our food system, such as pollinator health, animal production, and genetic engineering. Recently, I got to attend Farm Bill 2018: Policy, Politics and Potential Symposium, and wanted to share some of what I learned. The American University School of International Service and the Berkeley Food Institute co-hosted this important gathering of activists, academics, scientists and policymakers. Experts from all disciplines and agricultural arenas came together to lay out what issues the next Farm Bill should tackle.

The great news was that overall, various speakers seemed to agree that the next Farm Bill should make efforts to be more inclusive, push back Big Agriculture consolidation, and incentivize environmentally friendly practices.

What does inclusivity have to do with farming?

Our food system depends on many whose sacrifices often go unacknowledged, but a fresh Farm Bill is a chance to change that. Ideally, funds will shift from supporting industrial agriculture towards investing in the wellbeing of rural Americans, minorities, farm workers, and new farmers.

While cities are quickly growing, the rural America that supports our food system is dwindling. Not just in numbers, but in resources as well. Many rural communities lack technical resources, such as internet access and multiple U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offices, but also more essential resources, such as clean water and hospital access. This constricts growth in these areas and encourages communities to disperse. To revitalize these communities, Congress should consider investing in rural county infrastructure development.

Minorities and farm workers are two other groups that, while integral to our food system, are frequently left out of the conversation. The Hopi Indian tribe was one example highlighted at the symposium. Their intrinsic connection with the land inspires communal stewardship with environmentally friendly practices that have been used for generations. Unfortunately, this vision is not always compatible with governmental assistance programs. A key to solving this discrepancy is increasing communication between USDA, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and Indian tribes to explore the successes in Indian country and how to better incorporate their valuable relationship to the land into our food system.

In order to ensure a resilient food system, it’s imperative we educate and invest in the next generation of farmers. Currently, the average age of farmers in America is 60 years-old, so it’s crucial to look at the most effective ways to grow the next generation of farmers who will be stewards of the land and supported by the communities they feed. Some suggestions for how to do this include: forgiving student loans for those studying agricultural sciences, funding new farmer programs that teach sustainable agricultural and business management practices, or moving some assets from financial assistance programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) away from industrial producers and toward new farmers.

Are our farmers getting what they deserve?

How can American farmers, who work strenuous twelve to fourteen hour work days while in season, be projected to see a nine percent decrease in their farm income from 2016 to 2017? If this forecast is correct, this would reflect a 50% drop from net farm incomes in 2013. Experts suggest this is primarily linked to an increase in commodity crop supply which drives down prices farmers receive. Big agribusiness consolidation has also impeded farmer returns. By buying up smaller producers, larger companies control the production methods all along the supply chain and pressure the smaller producers to “get big or get out.” The result: production values fall and contracted producers become price takers. Solutions proposed at the symposium include: managing crop supply to control prices, investing in independent producers, and dismantling monopolies.

How can we encourage farmers to use environmentally friendly practices?

Industrial agriculture practices are often associated with soil, air and water contamination. Experts are looking for practical ways to incentivize farmers and businesses to incorporate environmentally-friendly practices without burdening them. For one, land-grant university research is supported by government and corporate funding. Corporate funding, not surprisingly, is awarded to projects that can further their agendas and government funding for agriculture research is in peril. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) are both on the chopping block for the next Farm Bill. Without these grant programs, researchers will have to halt their projects and innovations from the field of sustainable agriculture will be at a standstill.

This is why some experts are looking for partnerships between private corporations and the government to financially support sustainable agriculture research and practices. If corporations join the cause, they have the power to inspire positive changes all along their supply chain while still supporting their farmer base.

In addition to increasing funding for research and education, some experts suggest incentivizing farmers by altering subsidy and crop insurance programs. Crop insurance is essential, but current programs don’t always support sustainable practices such as cover cropping. Many experts have therefore proposed linking subsidies and insurance returns to farmers with conservation plans that increase biodiversity, support pollinators, or prevent pollution, etc.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider before an October 1st deadline for a new Farm Bill. Experts and advocates are looking for ways to increase the resiliency of the food system in the next Farm Bill. Ultimately, it seems the first step is to improve communication with advocacy organizations, government groups, corporate interests, and most importantly – farmers.

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In the United States today, hunger impacts more than 42 million Americans. This is a national disgrace caused by poverty and income inequality. In the not-too-distant future, hunger could also be the result of climate change. The warming climate is causing a host of alarming changes—unseasonable temperatures, disruptions in pollination, biblical floods and epic droughts —all of which threaten the long-term viability of our food supply. Yet despite these well-established risks to agriculture, the president has signed an Executive Order rolling back progress in the fight against the climate crisis.

Here’s the hard truth: Nothing will undermine food security for all Americans more than an unstable climate. We are already seeing the following effects:

Lower Productivity

Extreme weather events harm crops and reduce yields, and they are becoming more frequent and intense all the time. We’ve seen this across the country and with many different crops, from cherries in spring (Michigan’s unduly warm winter in 2012 resulted in $220 million of losses) to pumpkins in the fall (in 2011 Hurricane Irene caused a pumpkin shortage in the Northeast) to staple crops year-round. Without serious reductions in greenhouse gases, by 2100 half the country’s corn harvest could be wiped out, wheat production could fall by 20 percent, soybean production by 40 percent.

Compromised Nutrition

A decline in the nutritional value of crops is another consequence of a warming climate. Soaring levels of CO2 lead to a reduction in both the mineral and protein content of crops, including trace minerals such as selenium, zinc, and iron that are essential to human health.

Loss of Diversity

Plants are stationary. When the going gets rough they can’t move to a more hospitable location. Climates are changing faster than plants can adapt; as a result, one out of every five plant species is at risk of extinction. And food isn’t the only thing we rely on plants for—about half the drugs prescribed in the U.S. are plant-based.

The solution? Rebuilding our nation’s soil health. We can begin by transitioning immediately to farming and ranching practices that respect soil as the living carbon-rich ecosystem that it is, rather than as merely a growing medium. These practices are regenerative, agro-ecological and organic, and include minimal tillage, cover cropping and increasing crop diversity to support soil microorganisms and beneficial insects. They create more resilient systems for farmers and free agricultural production from dependency on fossil fuels. Most important, regenerative agriculture has vast untapped potential to rebalance Earth’s woozy climate system by drawing down excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and storing it in the ground as life-giving soil carbon.

As individuals, we can play an important role in building food security and resilience in our communities. So while Trump is busy ripping up the Clean Power Plan for the short-term benefit of a few corporations, engage however you can. Rip up the lawn. Plant some fruit trees. Start composting. Volunteer at a community garden. Create a garden school. Grow your own food-secure community.

Start locally, and affect change nationally by putting pressure on elected officials. Now more than ever, we have to work urgently at the state, local, and community levels to implement policies that protect and support our food supply. A number of states (including California, Hawaii, Vermont, Maryland and New York) are planning ahead by focusing on regenerating degraded landscapes and incentivizing carbon-farming methods that increase soil health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve resilience to a changing climate.

On the ground action is the way to achieve food security for everyone.

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a day. That’s over 1,000 meals a year! Say you live with three other people – that’s over 4,000 meals in one household.  Each of those meals has the potential to contribute to climate change, or to help solve it.

', ), 'lead_img' => 'tara_firma_farms1_87225.jpg', 'gallery' => array ( 0 => array ( 0 => 'tara_firma_farms1_87225.jpg', 1 => 'Visit CFS’s Soil Solutions Website', 2 => '

Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

', 3 => 'https://soilsolution.org/', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'soil-report-hero_498x312_56037.jpg', 1 => '[MINI REPORT] Soil & Carbon: Soil Solutions to Climate Problems', 2 => '

An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/3846/soil-and-carbon-soil-solutions-to-climate-problems', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 2 => array ( 0 => 'soil_still_84072.jpg', 1 => 'Video: Soil: Our Climate Ally Underfoot', 2 => '

One of our biggest potential climate allies is directly under our feet: soil. Healthy, living soil has an enormous capacity to store carbon. In fact, carbon stored in soil accounts for roughly three times the amount stored in the atmosphere! Improving the health of degraded soil holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change.

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/videos/2584/soil-our-climate-ally-underfoot', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 3 => array ( 0 => 'coolfoods_7_31_beets2_78071.jpg', 1 => 'Take the Cool Foods Pledge!', 2 => '

Take the Cool Foods pledge and do your part to stabilize the earth’s climate by being more thoughtful about the way you eat.


Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign provides information about the connection between agriculture, food and a stable climate.

Everyone eats, so everyone can join our campaign!

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Trump Signs Away Action on Climate Change Impacts

Executive Order Unravels National Progress to Fight Effects of Climate Change

WASHINGTON— Today President Trump signed an Executive Order that drastically rolls back progress made by the Obama administration to tackle the environmental, economic and public health impacts of global climate change. The order specifically sets into motion the unravelling of the Clean Power Plan, which was intended to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants and create new jobs in the renewable energy sector. If enacted, Trump’s coal-focused energy program as outlined in the order will also make it nearly impossible for the U.S. to meet climate solution commitments set by the 2105 Paris Agreement. The Executive Order also revoked the requirement that federal agencies analyze climate change impacts in all their decision-making.

The following is statement from Andrew Kimbrell, Director, Center for Food Safety:

“The negative impacts of greenhouse gas pollution and resulting climate change are already being felt around our country and around the world, Farmers and our food system bear the brunt of the burden: Unseasonable temperatures, floods, drought and disruptions in pollination are all effects of endorsing a pollution-producing economy that contributes to climate change.

“Our president should not be investing in the harmful extraction methods and outdated, polluting technologies that jeopardize our health, food security, and environment. Industrial agriculture is a major source of climate change causing emissions, from its pesticide inputs to its animal factory pollution. We need to regulate these sources, not give them a free pass. The new administration should look to bolster struggling rural communities by encouraging a transition to the renewable energy economy and non-pesticide intensive agro-ecological methods of food production that have the potential to re-create viable livelihoods in America’s neglected rural regions.”

###

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This is a national disgrace caused by poverty and income inequality. In the not-too-distant future, hunger could also be the result of climate change. 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In the United States today, hunger impacts more than 42 million Americans. This is a national disgrace caused by poverty and income inequality. In the not-too-distant future, hunger could also be the result of climate change. The warming climate is causing a host of alarming changes—unseasonable temperatures, disruptions in pollination, biblical floods and epic droughts —all of which threaten the long-term viability of our food supply. Yet despite these well-established risks to agriculture, the president has signed an Executive Order rolling back progress in the fight against the climate crisis.

Here’s the hard truth: Nothing will undermine food security for all Americans more than an unstable climate. We are already seeing the following effects:

Lower Productivity

Extreme weather events harm crops and reduce yields, and they are becoming more frequent and intense all the time. We’ve seen this across the country and with many different crops, from cherries in spring (Michigan’s unduly warm winter in 2012 resulted in $220 million of losses) to pumpkins in the fall (in 2011 Hurricane Irene caused a pumpkin shortage in the Northeast) to staple crops year-round. Without serious reductions in greenhouse gases, by 2100 half the country’s corn harvest could be wiped out, wheat production could fall by 20 percent, soybean production by 40 percent.

Compromised Nutrition

A decline in the nutritional value of crops is another consequence of a warming climate. Soaring levels of CO2 lead to a reduction in both the mineral and protein content of crops, including trace minerals such as selenium, zinc, and iron that are essential to human health.

Loss of Diversity

Plants are stationary. When the going gets rough they can’t move to a more hospitable location. Climates are changing faster than plants can adapt; as a result, one out of every five plant species is at risk of extinction. And food isn’t the only thing we rely on plants for—about half the drugs prescribed in the U.S. are plant-based.

The solution? Rebuilding our nation’s soil health. We can begin by transitioning immediately to farming and ranching practices that respect soil as the living carbon-rich ecosystem that it is, rather than as merely a growing medium. These practices are regenerative, agro-ecological and organic, and include minimal tillage, cover cropping and increasing crop diversity to support soil microorganisms and beneficial insects. They create more resilient systems for farmers and free agricultural production from dependency on fossil fuels. Most important, regenerative agriculture has vast untapped potential to rebalance Earth’s woozy climate system by drawing down excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and storing it in the ground as life-giving soil carbon.

As individuals, we can play an important role in building food security and resilience in our communities. So while Trump is busy ripping up the Clean Power Plan for the short-term benefit of a few corporations, engage however you can. Rip up the lawn. Plant some fruit trees. Start composting. Volunteer at a community garden. Create a garden school. Grow your own food-secure community.

Start locally, and affect change nationally by putting pressure on elected officials. Now more than ever, we have to work urgently at the state, local, and community levels to implement policies that protect and support our food supply. A number of states (including California, Hawaii, Vermont, Maryland and New York) are planning ahead by focusing on regenerating degraded landscapes and incentivizing carbon-farming methods that increase soil health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve resilience to a changing climate.

On the ground action is the way to achieve food security for everyone.

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. 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In the United States today, hunger impacts more than 42 million Americans. This is a national disgrace caused by poverty and income inequality. In the not-too-distant future, hunger could also be the result of climate change. The warming climate is causing a host of alarming changes—unseasonable temperatures, disruptions in pollination, biblical floods and epic droughts —all of which threaten the long-term viability of our food supply. Yet despite these well-established risks to agriculture, the president has signed an Executive Order rolling back progress in the fight against the climate crisis.

Here’s the hard truth: Nothing will undermine food security for all Americans more than an unstable climate. We are already seeing the following effects:

Lower Productivity

Extreme weather events harm crops and reduce yields, and they are becoming more frequent and intense all the time. We’ve seen this across the country and with many different crops, from cherries in spring (Michigan’s unduly warm winter in 2012 resulted in $220 million of losses) to pumpkins in the fall (in 2011 Hurricane Irene caused a pumpkin shortage in the Northeast) to staple crops year-round. Without serious reductions in greenhouse gases, by 2100 half the country’s corn harvest could be wiped out, wheat production could fall by 20 percent, soybean production by 40 percent.

Compromised Nutrition

A decline in the nutritional value of crops is another consequence of a warming climate. Soaring levels of CO2 lead to a reduction in both the mineral and protein content of crops, including trace minerals such as selenium, zinc, and iron that are essential to human health.

Loss of Diversity

Plants are stationary. When the going gets rough they can’t move to a more hospitable location. Climates are changing faster than plants can adapt; as a result, one out of every five plant species is at risk of extinction. And food isn’t the only thing we rely on plants for—about half the drugs prescribed in the U.S. are plant-based.

The solution? Rebuilding our nation’s soil health. We can begin by transitioning immediately to farming and ranching practices that respect soil as the living carbon-rich ecosystem that it is, rather than as merely a growing medium. These practices are regenerative, agro-ecological and organic, and include minimal tillage, cover cropping and increasing crop diversity to support soil microorganisms and beneficial insects. They create more resilient systems for farmers and free agricultural production from dependency on fossil fuels. Most important, regenerative agriculture has vast untapped potential to rebalance Earth’s woozy climate system by drawing down excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and storing it in the ground as life-giving soil carbon.

As individuals, we can play an important role in building food security and resilience in our communities. So while Trump is busy ripping up the Clean Power Plan for the short-term benefit of a few corporations, engage however you can. Rip up the lawn. Plant some fruit trees. Start composting. Volunteer at a community garden. Create a garden school. Grow your own food-secure community.

Start locally, and affect change nationally by putting pressure on elected officials. Now more than ever, we have to work urgently at the state, local, and community levels to implement policies that protect and support our food supply. A number of states (including California, Hawaii, Vermont, Maryland and New York) are planning ahead by focusing on regenerating degraded landscapes and incentivizing carbon-farming methods that increase soil health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve resilience to a changing climate.

On the ground action is the way to achieve food security for everyone.

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This week is the first congressional recess of Donald Trump’s presidency, and for many, it will be the first opportunity to speak directly with your members of Congress. During the recess, members of Congress will be working in their home districts, and many of them are holding town hall meetings, events, and open office hours.

Center for Food Safety strongly believes in active participation at all levels of government because we the people are who they serve. These town hall meetings are especially valuable in our current political climate, as many people have had a hard time getting through to their representatives’ offices – phone lines have often been busy and voice mail boxes full. We encourage you to take the opportunity to interact with your elected official, voice your very valuable concerns, and get answers to your questions. 

We know it can sometimes be intimidating to attend these meetings, let alone speak up and ask a question, so to make it easier for you we have created a simple toolkit to help you look up your representatives, find a town hall meeting near you, and target your questions on issue areas that are of importance to you.

Get Your Town Hall Guide

Public pressure works! Just a few days ago, Andy Puzder, fast food titan and Trump\'s pick for Labor Secretary, withdrew his nomination under growing pressure from constituents.

Now more than ever it is imperative to be engaged and informed on the various issues facing our food system and the environment. That’s why CFS has also just launched a new “Trump Watch” page to help watchdog the administration’s actions on food, agriculture, and the environment. This is your hub for all the latest news, actions and blogs on the cabinet members, executive orders, and regulatory policies that affect the food movement. Please check it out and be sure to share it with your friends!

The Town Hall Project is keeping an up-to-date list of town hall meetings and open office hours across the country. Find one near you and get active!

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There’s more good news in the pollinators and popcorn world, and it’s just in time for National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. We’re excited to share that a third company, Preferred Popcorn, a fully farmer-owned company that provides popcorn to popular popcorn brands and movie theatre concessions, has taken bold steps toward removing bee-toxic insecticides from their popcorn supply chain.

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Want to join us in standing up for bees? Use your purchasing power to support popcorn companies that are doing the right thing for bees and the environment. Our Guide to Bee-Friendly Popcorn can help you get started!

 

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/fact-sheets/4363/guide-to-bee-friendly-popcorn', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 2 => array ( 0 => 'savebees_fbad2-1fw_14578.png', 1 => 'Tell Orville Redenbacher to Stop Killing Bees!', 2 => '

It’s no secret we love popcorn. In fact, Americans consume more than 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year, but we’re getting more than we bargained for in all those bowls of popcorn: bee-toxic pesticides. That’s why we’re calling on Orville Redenbacher—the biggest brand in the popcorn industry—to source its popcorn from seeds that are NOT coated in these harmful chemicals.

', 3 => 'http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1881/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17611', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 3 => array ( 0 => 'animation-title-card_fb_00193.jpg', 1 => 'What\'s Popcorn\'s Dirty Little Secret? Bee-Killing Pesticdes', 2 => '

It’s no secret we love popcorn. In fact, Americans consume more than 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year. But we’re getting more than we bargained for in all those bowls of popcorn: bee-toxic pesticides.Bees are dying at alarming rates, and that scientists have identified a group of insecticides called neonicotinoids (“neonics”) as a prime culprit in these drastic population losses. Unfortunately, the popcorn industry uses bee-killing chemicals on their seeds, too. Watch the animation and take action!

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Center for Food Safety and Center for Biological Diversity—joined by Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Prof. Lincoln Brower—have just filed a groundbreaking legal action to list the monarch butterfly as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Sign the petition to extend ESA protection to monarchs!

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a day. That’s over 1,000 meals a year! Say you live with three other people – that’s over 4,000 meals in one household.  Each of those meals has the potential to contribute to climate change, or to help solve it.

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Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

', 3 => 'https://soilsolution.org/', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'soil-report-hero_498x312_56037.jpg', 1 => '[MINI REPORT] Soil & Carbon: Soil Solutions to Climate Problems', 2 => '

An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

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One of our biggest potential climate allies is directly under our feet: soil. Healthy, living soil has an enormous capacity to store carbon. In fact, carbon stored in soil accounts for roughly three times the amount stored in the atmosphere! Improving the health of degraded soil holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change.

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Take the Cool Foods pledge and do your part to stabilize the earth’s climate by being more thoughtful about the way you eat.


Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign provides information about the connection between agriculture, food and a stable climate.

Everyone eats, so everyone can join our campaign!

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The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as “new animal drugs.” Yet, at the same time, the FDA claims it has no jurisdiction over genetically engineered pet fish like the Glofish.

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government’s negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

CFS seeks to halt the approval, commercialization or release of any new genetically engineered crops until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe for human health and the environment. CFS maintains that any foods that already contain genetically engineered ingredients must be clearly labeled. Additionally, CFS advocates the containment and reduction of existing genetically engineered crops.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has reapproved and proposed a dramatic expansion of the use of the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo after only a cursory review of troubling data showing the two chemicals in the pesticide combine to have “synergistic” effects that are potentially harmful to endangered species and the environment. If approved the pesticide cocktail could be used on corn, soy and cotton in 35 states — up from 16 states where the product was previously approved for just corn and soy.

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/4559/after-cursory-review-epa-proposes-dramatic-expansionof-toxic-pesticide-blend-enlist-duo', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'jacksonvictory_59877.jpg', 1 => 'Victory! Judge Upholds Jackson County’s Ban on Genetically Engineered Crops', 2 => '

Family farmers and other supporters of Jackson County’s precedent-setting ban on genetically engineered (GE) crop cultivation are celebrating a federal court ruling upholding the legality of Jackson County’s ordinance. The ruling released this afternoon by Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke was a resounding victory for Our Family Farms Coalition (OFFC) and Center for Food Safety (CFS), which intervened in the case to defend the ban along with two local family farmers.  Lawyers with Center for Food Safety and the Earthrise Law Center based at Lewis and Clark Law School jointly represented the intervening parties.

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McDonald\'s, Wendy\'s, and Gerber have already indicated that they don\'t plan to use these GE apples. Burger King could be next.

Sign the petition: Tell Burger King to commit to keeping GE apples out of its meals.

', 3 => 'http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1881/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19365', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 3 => array ( 0 => 'shoppersguide_mobile2_53822.jpg', 1 => 'Get your free CFS Shoppers Guide to Avoiding GE Foods!', 2 => '

Which supermarket foods are genetically engineered? This is probably the most urgent question the public has about these novel foods. But despite overwhelming demand, almost no foods on U.S. grocery shelves reveal their secret, genetically engineered ingredients. The first of it\'s kind--available both in print and as a mibile app for iPhone and Android--the CFS True Food Shoppers Guide was designed to help reclaim your right to know about the foods you are buying, and help you find and avoid GMO foods and ingredients.

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This week is the first congressional recess of Donald Trump’s presidency, and for many, it will be the first opportunity to speak directly with your members of Congress. During the recess, members of Congress will be working in their home districts, and many of them are holding town hall meetings, events, and open office hours.

Center for Food Safety strongly believes in active participation at all levels of government because we the people are who they serve. These town hall meetings are especially valuable in our current political climate, as many people have had a hard time getting through to their representatives’ offices – phone lines have often been busy and voice mail boxes full. We encourage you to take the opportunity to interact with your elected official, voice your very valuable concerns, and get answers to your questions. 

We know it can sometimes be intimidating to attend these meetings, let alone speak up and ask a question, so to make it easier for you we have created a simple toolkit to help you look up your representatives, find a town hall meeting near you, and target your questions on issue areas that are of importance to you.

Get Your Town Hall Guide

Public pressure works! Just a few days ago, Andy Puzder, fast food titan and Trump\'s pick for Labor Secretary, withdrew his nomination under growing pressure from constituents.

Now more than ever it is imperative to be engaged and informed on the various issues facing our food system and the environment. That’s why CFS has also just launched a new “Trump Watch” page to help watchdog the administration’s actions on food, agriculture, and the environment. This is your hub for all the latest news, actions and blogs on the cabinet members, executive orders, and regulatory policies that affect the food movement. Please check it out and be sure to share it with your friends!

The Town Hall Project is keeping an up-to-date list of town hall meetings and open office hours across the country. Find one near you and get active!

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This week is the first congressional recess of Donald Trump’s presidency, and for many, it will be the first opportunity to speak directly with your members of Congress. During the recess, members of Congress will be working in their home districts, and many of them are holding town hall meetings, events, and open office hours.

Center for Food Safety strongly believes in active participation at all levels of government because we the people are who they serve. These town hall meetings are especially valuable in our current political climate, as many people have had a hard time getting through to their representatives’ offices – phone lines have often been busy and voice mail boxes full. We encourage you to take the opportunity to interact with your elected official, voice your very valuable concerns, and get answers to your questions. 

We know it can sometimes be intimidating to attend these meetings, let alone speak up and ask a question, so to make it easier for you we have created a simple toolkit to help you look up your representatives, find a town hall meeting near you, and target your questions on issue areas that are of importance to you.

Get Your Town Hall Guide

Public pressure works! Just a few days ago, Andy Puzder, fast food titan and Trump\'s pick for Labor Secretary, withdrew his nomination under growing pressure from constituents.

Now more than ever it is imperative to be engaged and informed on the various issues facing our food system and the environment. That’s why CFS has also just launched a new “Trump Watch” page to help watchdog the administration’s actions on food, agriculture, and the environment. This is your hub for all the latest news, actions and blogs on the cabinet members, executive orders, and regulatory policies that affect the food movement. Please check it out and be sure to share it with your friends!

The Town Hall Project is keeping an up-to-date list of town hall meetings and open office hours across the country. Find one near you and get active!

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It’s that time of year when we gather together with friends and family to share in the bounty of the season, reflect on the past year and think about how grateful we are for each other and for the gifts of the harvest. We here at CFS are certainly grateful for the support of hundreds of thousands of members who help us in our mission to create a more just and sustainable food system. We will be thinking about that as we sit down at our Thanksgiving tables, but we’ll also be thinking about a few other things… 

Bee-ing thankful for pollinators!

While you may be familiar with how much preparation it takes to ready a holiday meal, you may not be aware of all the behind-the-scenes work that bees have done before fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs even make it to your kitchen. Apples, cranberries, squash, sweet potatoes, beans—these are just a few Thanksgiving table favorites, all of which rely on bees for pollination. Unfortunately, honey bees and other native bees and pollinators are being negatively impacted by the widespread use of toxic insecticides—so much so that we are seeing historic colony loss and population declines. So this Thanksgiving, learn how you can bee-thankful and help protect pollinators!

Drug-free Turkeys

Many traditional holiday feasts feature large fowl, notably turkeys and roast chickens. But many large-scale livestock producers over-use and abuse antibiotics and other drugs as growth-promoters and to make up for unsanitary poultry rearing conditions. In fact, you may be getting an extra side dish with your turkey that you didn’t bargain for: a risky drug called ractopamine. Ractopamine is a growth enhancing drug that’s added to turkey feed—as well as the feed of pigs and cattle—to increase their muscle mass. But bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Ractopamine raises significant food safety and animal welfare concerns. It is connected to “downed” animals, muscular tremors, cardiovascular dysfunction and increased aggressive behavior in animals. The FDA has allowed its use without comprehensive scientific studies that document the risks of the drug to human and animal health. To ensure your turkey is drug-free, look for organic, free-range fowl.

Cutting food waste

Celebrating the plenty of the season is a beautiful thing, but what we sometimes fail to consider is that enough is plenty. “Leftovers” are especially cherished during the holidays—when else is digging into stuffing and pumpkin pie for breakfast appropriate—but buying, cooking and eating to excess isn’t good for your health or for the environment. According to Food Tank, between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the United States will waste about five million tons of food. And where does all of that food waste go? Not to the needy. Food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching America’s landfills and incinerators. This holiday, keep climate change in mind as you prepare your meals, and think about creative, nutritious ways to re-use what is left over!

How to support communities in need

People in many communities around the country and around the world won’t be worrying about food waste this time of year; instead, their worry will be where they might find their next meal. Food insecurity impacts millions of people each year. According to Feeding America, 13 percent of American households were food insecure in 2015. And that only accounts for those that are reported. Food insecurity is complicated by the rise of the industrial agricultural system and the monopoly control of seed by just a handful of large corporations. This holiday season, offer a helping hand if you can. Food Pantries.org and Feeding America have great resources on where and how to donate to local food banks and kitchens.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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There’s more good news in the pollinators and popcorn world, and it’s just in time for National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. We’re excited to share that a third company, Preferred Popcorn, a fully farmer-owned company that provides popcorn to popular popcorn brands and movie theatre concessions, has taken bold steps toward removing bee-toxic insecticides from their popcorn supply chain.

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Want to join us in standing up for bees? Use your purchasing power to support popcorn companies that are doing the right thing for bees and the environment. Our Guide to Bee-Friendly Popcorn can help you get started!

 

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/fact-sheets/4363/guide-to-bee-friendly-popcorn', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 2 => array ( 0 => 'savebees_fbad2-1fw_14578.png', 1 => 'Tell Orville Redenbacher to Stop Killing Bees!', 2 => '

It’s no secret we love popcorn. In fact, Americans consume more than 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year, but we’re getting more than we bargained for in all those bowls of popcorn: bee-toxic pesticides. That’s why we’re calling on Orville Redenbacher—the biggest brand in the popcorn industry—to source its popcorn from seeds that are NOT coated in these harmful chemicals.

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It’s no secret we love popcorn. In fact, Americans consume more than 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year. But we’re getting more than we bargained for in all those bowls of popcorn: bee-toxic pesticides.Bees are dying at alarming rates, and that scientists have identified a group of insecticides called neonicotinoids (“neonics”) as a prime culprit in these drastic population losses. Unfortunately, the popcorn industry uses bee-killing chemicals on their seeds, too. Watch the animation and take action!

', 3 => 'http://www.pollinatorsandyourplate.org/', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 4 => array ( 0 => 'monarchesa_hero2_75066.jpg', 1 => 'Tell The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to Protect the Threatened Monarch Butterfly', 2 => '

Center for Food Safety and Center for Biological Diversity—joined by Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Prof. Lincoln Brower—have just filed a groundbreaking legal action to list the monarch butterfly as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Sign the petition to extend ESA protection to monarchs!

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a day. That’s over 1,000 meals a year! Say you live with three other people – that’s over 4,000 meals in one household.  Each of those meals has the potential to contribute to climate change, or to help solve it.

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Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

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An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

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One of our biggest potential climate allies is directly under our feet: soil. Healthy, living soil has an enormous capacity to store carbon. In fact, carbon stored in soil accounts for roughly three times the amount stored in the atmosphere! Improving the health of degraded soil holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change.

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Take the Cool Foods pledge and do your part to stabilize the earth’s climate by being more thoughtful about the way you eat.


Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign provides information about the connection between agriculture, food and a stable climate.

Everyone eats, so everyone can join our campaign!

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More and more people are beginning to understand that what we put on our food, land and water ends up in our bodies.  Foods bearing the organic label are grown, processed, inspected and certified “organic” in accordance with the strict legal requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act.  Organically grown food is the only food legally-mandated to safeguard human health, animal welfare and the environment.

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In advance of USDA’s publication of regulations to govern organic aquaculture, CFS’s report, Like Water and Oil:  Ocean-Based Fish Farming and Organic Don’t Mix, warns that permitting “organic” aquaculture at sea would put the entire U.S. organic industry in jeopardy by weakening the integrity of the USDA organic label.

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Organic is the healthiest system of food production and the most beneficial for the environment, wildlife, climate, and biodiversity, and organic keeps getting better all the time. So when you\'re debating between organic and conventional food, the choice is simple: choose organic.

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Today the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) rejected a petition to extend the expiration date for the use of oxytetracycline to treat fire blight in apple and pear production beyond October 21, 2014. The decision is a victory for the organic standard and advances efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics.

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It’s that time of year when we gather together with friends and family to share in the bounty of the season, reflect on the past year and think about how grateful we are for each other and for the gifts of the harvest. We here at CFS are certainly grateful for the support of hundreds of thousands of members who help us in our mission to create a more just and sustainable food system. We will be thinking about that as we sit down at our Thanksgiving tables, but we’ll also be thinking about a few other things… 

Bee-ing thankful for pollinators!

While you may be familiar with how much preparation it takes to ready a holiday meal, you may not be aware of all the behind-the-scenes work that bees have done before fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs even make it to your kitchen. Apples, cranberries, squash, sweet potatoes, beans—these are just a few Thanksgiving table favorites, all of which rely on bees for pollination. Unfortunately, honey bees and other native bees and pollinators are being negatively impacted by the widespread use of toxic insecticides—so much so that we are seeing historic colony loss and population declines. So this Thanksgiving, learn how you can bee-thankful and help protect pollinators!

Drug-free Turkeys

Many traditional holiday feasts feature large fowl, notably turkeys and roast chickens. But many large-scale livestock producers over-use and abuse antibiotics and other drugs as growth-promoters and to make up for unsanitary poultry rearing conditions. In fact, you may be getting an extra side dish with your turkey that you didn’t bargain for: a risky drug called ractopamine. Ractopamine is a growth enhancing drug that’s added to turkey feed—as well as the feed of pigs and cattle—to increase their muscle mass. But bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Ractopamine raises significant food safety and animal welfare concerns. It is connected to “downed” animals, muscular tremors, cardiovascular dysfunction and increased aggressive behavior in animals. The FDA has allowed its use without comprehensive scientific studies that document the risks of the drug to human and animal health. To ensure your turkey is drug-free, look for organic, free-range fowl.

Cutting food waste

Celebrating the plenty of the season is a beautiful thing, but what we sometimes fail to consider is that enough is plenty. “Leftovers” are especially cherished during the holidays—when else is digging into stuffing and pumpkin pie for breakfast appropriate—but buying, cooking and eating to excess isn’t good for your health or for the environment. According to Food Tank, between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the United States will waste about five million tons of food. And where does all of that food waste go? Not to the needy. Food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching America’s landfills and incinerators. This holiday, keep climate change in mind as you prepare your meals, and think about creative, nutritious ways to re-use what is left over!

How to support communities in need

People in many communities around the country and around the world won’t be worrying about food waste this time of year; instead, their worry will be where they might find their next meal. Food insecurity impacts millions of people each year. According to Feeding America, 13 percent of American households were food insecure in 2015. And that only accounts for those that are reported. Food insecurity is complicated by the rise of the industrial agricultural system and the monopoly control of seed by just a handful of large corporations. This holiday season, offer a helping hand if you can. Food Pantries.org and Feeding America have great resources on where and how to donate to local food banks and kitchens.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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It’s that time of year when we gather together with friends and family to share in the bounty of the season, reflect on the past year and think about how grateful we are for each other and for the gifts of the harvest. We here at CFS are certainly grateful for the support of hundreds of thousands of members who help us in our mission to create a more just and sustainable food system. We will be thinking about that as we sit down at our Thanksgiving tables, but we’ll also be thinking about a few other things… 

Bee-ing thankful for pollinators!

While you may be familiar with how much preparation it takes to ready a holiday meal, you may not be aware of all the behind-the-scenes work that bees have done before fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs even make it to your kitchen. Apples, cranberries, squash, sweet potatoes, beans—these are just a few Thanksgiving table favorites, all of which rely on bees for pollination. Unfortunately, honey bees and other native bees and pollinators are being negatively impacted by the widespread use of toxic insecticides—so much so that we are seeing historic colony loss and population declines. So this Thanksgiving, learn how you can bee-thankful and help protect pollinators!

Drug-free Turkeys

Many traditional holiday feasts feature large fowl, notably turkeys and roast chickens. But many large-scale livestock producers over-use and abuse antibiotics and other drugs as growth-promoters and to make up for unsanitary poultry rearing conditions. In fact, you may be getting an extra side dish with your turkey that you didn’t bargain for: a risky drug called ractopamine. Ractopamine is a growth enhancing drug that’s added to turkey feed—as well as the feed of pigs and cattle—to increase their muscle mass. But bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Ractopamine raises significant food safety and animal welfare concerns. It is connected to “downed” animals, muscular tremors, cardiovascular dysfunction and increased aggressive behavior in animals. The FDA has allowed its use without comprehensive scientific studies that document the risks of the drug to human and animal health. To ensure your turkey is drug-free, look for organic, free-range fowl.

Cutting food waste

Celebrating the plenty of the season is a beautiful thing, but what we sometimes fail to consider is that enough is plenty. “Leftovers” are especially cherished during the holidays—when else is digging into stuffing and pumpkin pie for breakfast appropriate—but buying, cooking and eating to excess isn’t good for your health or for the environment. According to Food Tank, between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the United States will waste about five million tons of food. And where does all of that food waste go? Not to the needy. Food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching America’s landfills and incinerators. This holiday, keep climate change in mind as you prepare your meals, and think about creative, nutritious ways to re-use what is left over!

How to support communities in need

People in many communities around the country and around the world won’t be worrying about food waste this time of year; instead, their worry will be where they might find their next meal. Food insecurity impacts millions of people each year. According to Feeding America, 13 percent of American households were food insecure in 2015. And that only accounts for those that are reported. Food insecurity is complicated by the rise of the industrial agricultural system and the monopoly control of seed by just a handful of large corporations. This holiday season, offer a helping hand if you can. Food Pantries.org and Feeding America have great resources on where and how to donate to local food banks and kitchens.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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The U.S. faces a slow moving crisis in agriculture. 

Over the next 20 years, we will lose 700,000 farmers. The average age of the American farmer today is 58.

To close the coming farmer deficit -- 700,000 -- we need to make about 25,000 new farmers a year. As a nation, we have produced just 1,200 new farmers in the last two years. That is not a replacement rate.

Right now American farmers produce enough calories to sustain every man woman and child in our country. In 20 years, unless we do something bold, that will not be the case. 

Farming is tough. Farming is physical. It is financially risky, with low margins and much outside of a farmers control. It is emotionally challenging. It requires the ability to make long term plans, adapt them on the fly, to do something different everyday, to respond to crises, to hold faith that the seed planted now will bear fruit in three months. Farming requires the heart of an entrepreneur, the brain of an accountant, the strength of a weightlifter (most farm jobs hold as a requirement that you can lift 50 lbs above your head, regularly.)

At the same time, the nation produces 200,000 new veterans every year. You see where I\'m going with this. 

These vets -- some with just four years under their belts and others with whole careers behind them -- are among the few Americans with the grit to be farmers. They know how to plan and adapt those plans. They are mission-oriented and don\'t quit until a job is done -- be it taking a hill or harvesting an entire field. They can work as a team or independently, and they absorb training like sponges. 

I know this personally because the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is training 12 military veterans to be farmers now, on land that George Washington cultivated after he retired his military commission 200 years ago. 

The 12 members of our USDA-backed program come to us from all four services. Their interests and plans for agriculture vary wildly -- a Navy intelligence officer owns land in the Bahamas and wants to make an eco-resort and grow food for his guests. An Army vet wants a subsistence farm to feed her family and sell a little bit roadside. A Marine veteran, wounded in combat, wants a vegetable farm and on-site meadery from the honey he will raise. A special forces veteran just bought six acres and is planting now. A Navy veteran is raising five pigs and planting vegetables. An Army veteran is in culinary school and wants a farm-to-table cafe where he will teach underserved children about growing and cooking healthy food.  

They are united by their discipline and work ethic; their desire to create something real, lasting, and healthy for their families. And all of them want meaningful work, work that continues their lives in public service. 

These people, men and women, all stepped up to serve once, and now they are offering to serve again. Some have land, some have experience. But others are called to the work, and need land, training, and support as they commence their second acts in agriculture. 

Arcadia offers two training tracks -- the Veteran Reserve Program and the Veteran Farm Fellowship. The Reserve is one weekend a month of intensive cultivation and farm-appropriate business training, along with visits to successful area farms to understand the full range of what is possible. The Veteran Farm Fellowship is a paid, year-long fellowship on our farm working with our professional farmers. Approved by the VA as an on-the-job training program, our Fellows can draw on GI Bill benefits for additional financial support during their paid training. Both the Fellows and the Reservists work shoulder to shoulder with pros on our farm, learning soil science, pest control, planting and irrigation in real time. Our intention is that these new farmers will experience everything -- bountiful harvests, hail and drought, flooding and crop failure -- with us the first time rather than when they are on their own acres. The military calls it left-seat, right seat training. 

By far the most rewarding outcome of our program is the esprit d\'corps these veterans have found with each other. They are funny and profane and gentle when they need to be with each other. They support each other. They help plant crops on each others farms. They know what it is to be a unit, and I think they missed it. 

Arcadia is now seeking 15 more veterans who want to become farmers to join the Arcadia Veteran Farmer Reserve. No experience necessary -- just your grit, your discipline, and your commitment to continue your life in public service.

 

Pamela Hess is the Executive Director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. She came to Arcadia from journalism. A career national security journalist, Pam covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the Pentagon and CIA with the Associated Press and United Press International. After a brief foray into national politics as a communications director on Capitol Hill, Pam returned to her first love: food and sustainable farms. In 2011, she took the helm of a local food and wine magazine that celebrated sustainable food and farming in the Capitol Foodshed, and in the course of it, met and fell in love with Arcadia. She brings to Arcadia a deep commitment to its mission, a large and expanding network of farmers and food advocates, and a great reputation within the sustainable food community.

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Soil is the digestive system of the earth.  Think about it: organisms in the soil consume, digest, and recycle organic matter—just like your stomach digests the food you eat.  Like your gut, the soil is a living organ, teeming with microorganisms that are tasked with exchanging nutrients and keeping plants and ecosystems healthy.  And like your diet, improper “food”—what we add to the soil—can make it very sick or very healthy.

 

', ), 'lead_img' => 'soil-hand-shot-300dpi_45425.jpg', 'gallery' => array ( 0 => array ( 0 => 'soil-hand-shot-300dpi_45425.jpg', 1 => 'Soil Solutions to Climate Problems - Narrated by Michael Pollan', 2 => '

A powerful solution to the climate crisis can be found right beneath our feet—in the soil. By harnessing the immense power of photosynthesis, we can convert atmospheric carbon, a problem, into soil carbon, a solution. Emerging science proves that shifting to regenerative forms of agriculture such as agroecology, agroforestry, cover-cropping, holistic grazing and permaculture will allow us to store excess carbon safely in the ground.

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/video/2519/cfs-videos/soil-solutions/4134/soil-solutions-to-climate-problems--narrated-by-michael-pollan', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'tara_firma_farms1_87124.jpg', 1 => 'Visit CFS’s Soil Solutions Website', 2 => '

Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

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An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a day. That’s over 1,000 meals a year! Say you live with three other people – that’s over 4,000 meals in one household.  Each of those meals has the potential to contribute to climate change, or to help solve it.

', ), 'lead_img' => 'tara_firma_farms1_87225.jpg', 'gallery' => array ( 0 => array ( 0 => 'tara_firma_farms1_87225.jpg', 1 => 'Visit CFS’s Soil Solutions Website', 2 => '

Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

', 3 => 'https://soilsolution.org/', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'soil-report-hero_498x312_56037.jpg', 1 => '[MINI REPORT] Soil & Carbon: Soil Solutions to Climate Problems', 2 => '

An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/3846/soil-and-carbon-soil-solutions-to-climate-problems', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 2 => array ( 0 => 'soil_still_84072.jpg', 1 => 'Video: Soil: Our Climate Ally Underfoot', 2 => '

One of our biggest potential climate allies is directly under our feet: soil. Healthy, living soil has an enormous capacity to store carbon. In fact, carbon stored in soil accounts for roughly three times the amount stored in the atmosphere! Improving the health of degraded soil holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change.

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Take the Cool Foods pledge and do your part to stabilize the earth’s climate by being more thoughtful about the way you eat.


Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign provides information about the connection between agriculture, food and a stable climate.

Everyone eats, so everyone can join our campaign!

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Today the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) rejected a petition to extend the expiration date for the use of oxytetracycline to treat fire blight in apple and pear production beyond October 21, 2014. The decision is a victory for the organic standard and advances efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics.

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The U.S. faces a slow moving crisis in agriculture. 

Over the next 20 years, we will lose 700,000 farmers. The average age of the American farmer today is 58.

To close the coming farmer deficit -- 700,000 -- we need to make about 25,000 new farmers a year. As a nation, we have produced just 1,200 new farmers in the last two years. That is not a replacement rate.

Right now American farmers produce enough calories to sustain every man woman and child in our country. In 20 years, unless we do something bold, that will not be the case. 

Farming is tough. Farming is physical. It is financially risky, with low margins and much outside of a farmers control. It is emotionally challenging. It requires the ability to make long term plans, adapt them on the fly, to do something different everyday, to respond to crises, to hold faith that the seed planted now will bear fruit in three months. Farming requires the heart of an entrepreneur, the brain of an accountant, the strength of a weightlifter (most farm jobs hold as a requirement that you can lift 50 lbs above your head, regularly.)

At the same time, the nation produces 200,000 new veterans every year. You see where I\'m going with this. 

These vets -- some with just four years under their belts and others with whole careers behind them -- are among the few Americans with the grit to be farmers. They know how to plan and adapt those plans. They are mission-oriented and don\'t quit until a job is done -- be it taking a hill or harvesting an entire field. They can work as a team or independently, and they absorb training like sponges. 

I know this personally because the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is training 12 military veterans to be farmers now, on land that George Washington cultivated after he retired his military commission 200 years ago. 

The 12 members of our USDA-backed program come to us from all four services. Their interests and plans for agriculture vary wildly -- a Navy intelligence officer owns land in the Bahamas and wants to make an eco-resort and grow food for his guests. An Army vet wants a subsistence farm to feed her family and sell a little bit roadside. A Marine veteran, wounded in combat, wants a vegetable farm and on-site meadery from the honey he will raise. A special forces veteran just bought six acres and is planting now. A Navy veteran is raising five pigs and planting vegetables. An Army veteran is in culinary school and wants a farm-to-table cafe where he will teach underserved children about growing and cooking healthy food.  

They are united by their discipline and work ethic; their desire to create something real, lasting, and healthy for their families. And all of them want meaningful work, work that continues their lives in public service. 

These people, men and women, all stepped up to serve once, and now they are offering to serve again. Some have land, some have experience. But others are called to the work, and need land, training, and support as they commence their second acts in agriculture. 

Arcadia offers two training tracks -- the Veteran Reserve Program and the Veteran Farm Fellowship. The Reserve is one weekend a month of intensive cultivation and farm-appropriate business training, along with visits to successful area farms to understand the full range of what is possible. The Veteran Farm Fellowship is a paid, year-long fellowship on our farm working with our professional farmers. Approved by the VA as an on-the-job training program, our Fellows can draw on GI Bill benefits for additional financial support during their paid training. Both the Fellows and the Reservists work shoulder to shoulder with pros on our farm, learning soil science, pest control, planting and irrigation in real time. Our intention is that these new farmers will experience everything -- bountiful harvests, hail and drought, flooding and crop failure -- with us the first time rather than when they are on their own acres. The military calls it left-seat, right seat training. 

By far the most rewarding outcome of our program is the esprit d\'corps these veterans have found with each other. They are funny and profane and gentle when they need to be with each other. They support each other. They help plant crops on each others farms. They know what it is to be a unit, and I think they missed it. 

Arcadia is now seeking 15 more veterans who want to become farmers to join the Arcadia Veteran Farmer Reserve. No experience necessary -- just your grit, your discipline, and your commitment to continue your life in public service.

 

Pamela Hess is the Executive Director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. She came to Arcadia from journalism. A career national security journalist, Pam covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the Pentagon and CIA with the Associated Press and United Press International. After a brief foray into national politics as a communications director on Capitol Hill, Pam returned to her first love: food and sustainable farms. In 2011, she took the helm of a local food and wine magazine that celebrated sustainable food and farming in the Capitol Foodshed, and in the course of it, met and fell in love with Arcadia. She brings to Arcadia a deep commitment to its mission, a large and expanding network of farmers and food advocates, and a great reputation within the sustainable food community.

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The U.S. faces a slow moving crisis in agriculture. 

Over the next 20 years, we will lose 700,000 farmers. The average age of the American farmer today is 58.

To close the coming farmer deficit -- 700,000 -- we need to make about 25,000 new farmers a year. As a nation, we have produced just 1,200 new farmers in the last two years. That is not a replacement rate.

Right now American farmers produce enough calories to sustain every man woman and child in our country. In 20 years, unless we do something bold, that will not be the case. 

Farming is tough. Farming is physical. It is financially risky, with low margins and much outside of a farmers control. It is emotionally challenging. It requires the ability to make long term plans, adapt them on the fly, to do something different everyday, to respond to crises, to hold faith that the seed planted now will bear fruit in three months. Farming requires the heart of an entrepreneur, the brain of an accountant, the strength of a weightlifter (most farm jobs hold as a requirement that you can lift 50 lbs above your head, regularly.)

At the same time, the nation produces 200,000 new veterans every year. You see where I\'m going with this. 

These vets -- some with just four years under their belts and others with whole careers behind them -- are among the few Americans with the grit to be farmers. They know how to plan and adapt those plans. They are mission-oriented and don\'t quit until a job is done -- be it taking a hill or harvesting an entire field. They can work as a team or independently, and they absorb training like sponges. 

I know this personally because the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is training 12 military veterans to be farmers now, on land that George Washington cultivated after he retired his military commission 200 years ago. 

The 12 members of our USDA-backed program come to us from all four services. Their interests and plans for agriculture vary wildly -- a Navy intelligence officer owns land in the Bahamas and wants to make an eco-resort and grow food for his guests. An Army vet wants a subsistence farm to feed her family and sell a little bit roadside. A Marine veteran, wounded in combat, wants a vegetable farm and on-site meadery from the honey he will raise. A special forces veteran just bought six acres and is planting now. A Navy veteran is raising five pigs and planting vegetables. An Army veteran is in culinary school and wants a farm-to-table cafe where he will teach underserved children about growing and cooking healthy food.  

They are united by their discipline and work ethic; their desire to create something real, lasting, and healthy for their families. And all of them want meaningful work, work that continues their lives in public service. 

These people, men and women, all stepped up to serve once, and now they are offering to serve again. Some have land, some have experience. But others are called to the work, and need land, training, and support as they commence their second acts in agriculture. 

Arcadia offers two training tracks -- the Veteran Reserve Program and the Veteran Farm Fellowship. The Reserve is one weekend a month of intensive cultivation and farm-appropriate business training, along with visits to successful area farms to understand the full range of what is possible. The Veteran Farm Fellowship is a paid, year-long fellowship on our farm working with our professional farmers. Approved by the VA as an on-the-job training program, our Fellows can draw on GI Bill benefits for additional financial support during their paid training. Both the Fellows and the Reservists work shoulder to shoulder with pros on our farm, learning soil science, pest control, planting and irrigation in real time. Our intention is that these new farmers will experience everything -- bountiful harvests, hail and drought, flooding and crop failure -- with us the first time rather than when they are on their own acres. The military calls it left-seat, right seat training. 

By far the most rewarding outcome of our program is the esprit d\'corps these veterans have found with each other. They are funny and profane and gentle when they need to be with each other. They support each other. They help plant crops on each others farms. They know what it is to be a unit, and I think they missed it. 

Arcadia is now seeking 15 more veterans who want to become farmers to join the Arcadia Veteran Farmer Reserve. No experience necessary -- just your grit, your discipline, and your commitment to continue your life in public service.

 

Pamela Hess is the Executive Director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. She came to Arcadia from journalism. A career national security journalist, Pam covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the Pentagon and CIA with the Associated Press and United Press International. After a brief foray into national politics as a communications director on Capitol Hill, Pam returned to her first love: food and sustainable farms. In 2011, she took the helm of a local food and wine magazine that celebrated sustainable food and farming in the Capitol Foodshed, and in the course of it, met and fell in love with Arcadia. She brings to Arcadia a deep commitment to its mission, a large and expanding network of farmers and food advocates, and a great reputation within the sustainable food community.

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Rural Women Farmers in Malawi Participate in a Focus Group Discussion

(Photo: Claire Jordan)

International Day of Rural Women is an opportunity to bring awareness to the profound ways women living in rural communities around the world contribute to society, as well as the ways they are underrepresented and hindered. Rural women farmers, in particular, have the opportunity to shape a global food system in response to the needs of a growing population and a changing planet, but they need support. For example, it has been proven that women tend to farm more on smaller plots of land utilizing fewer resources, creating more sustainable farms. At the same time, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that global agricultural yields would increase between 2.5 and four percent if female farmers had the same opportunities and resources as their male counterparts. When thinking in terms of food security, that is a significant change in the amount of food produced.

With women accounting for 60 to 80 percent of small-holder farmers internationally, and with 70 percent of the rural poor being women whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, it is crucial that not only today, but every day, rural women farmers are recognized and included in future food security planning.

While they face myriad challenges, four major issues impact rural women farmers across the continents, including climate change, water insecurity, soil infertility, and gender disparities – and often each compounds the other. Let’s look at some examples from Bolivia, Malawi, India, Greece, Australia and the United States:

Climate Change

People all around our planet are seeing the impacts of a changing climate and rural women farmers are especially at-risk. In Bolivia, for example, climate change causes myriad environmental problems—such as reduced rainfall, drought, temperature fluctuations, soil degradation, water pollution, and deforestation—that are specifically detrimental to farmers. Due to the cultural and economic positions Bolivian women are in, they have fewer options for finding alternative livelihoods when climate change destroys their crop yields.

In India, over four-fifths of the women in rural areas work in agriculture. According to a study done by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research, the biggest problems women farmers in India face are climate related, like increased heat and a change in rainfall patterns; an increase in pests and insects; and lower seed quality.[1] Because women are the seed keepers in India, the lack of variety and diversity in the seed market places a heavy toll on these farmers. The same study stated that women farmers and women-headed households in India were more susceptible to shocks from the environmental damages caused by climate change— which is compounded by cultural gender norms that inhibit women from holding land titles, and result in limited control over assets, and displacement.

Likewise, Malawi is one of the countries most affected by climate change. It has been noted that subsistence farmers in rural parts of Malawi are at the forefront of fighting climate change. With 70 percent of the agricultural labor force in Malawi being women, women farmers in rural areas of the country deal the most with the effects of climate change, similar to those faced by their peers in South America and Asia.

 

Women harvesting rice in the Himalaya Mountains in Dharmasala

(Photo: Kaiulani Kimbrell)

Water Crisis

Too much or too little rainfall, and unpredictable and extreme flooding and drought patterns can have drastic effects on rural farmworkers in any community. As with the effects of climate change on agriculture, rural women farmers often feel the brunt of these impacts. Reduced water security in Bolivia is particularly apparent to women. Because women in Bolivia are the ones who tend to manage the farm and ensure that food and water are on the table while men move to urban areas for different jobs, it is women who become most susceptible to changes in quality and quantity of water.

Similarly, erratic rainfall patterns in other parts of the world make once-dependable planting and growing seasons difficult to rely on. Malawi has experienced severe droughts and shorter rainy seasons as a result of climate change, and according to The International Food Policy Research Institute, Malawi loses an average of 1.7 percent of its GDP yearly with small scale farmers most affected. Women there have to walk longer distances regularly to retrieve water. This limits their time on the farm and hinders their ability to adapt to drought.

(In)Fertile Lands

Soil health and quality are essential to successful farming. In the United States, rural communities are plagued by environmental impact issues resulting from the reduction in small farms and the rapid expansion of industrial agriculture. Producers on rural farms in the U.S. experience soil fertility depletion from monocrop planting; soil erosion; lost biodiversity and ecosystem services; and increased costs of irrigation from barren soils and inability to combat drought. Most farms in the U.S. operated by women are small farms with annual sales of less than $10,000. This clearly puts these women farmers at a disadvantage when having to deal with the negative ramifications of industrial agriculture.

Climate change and erratic rainfall have also resulted in reduced soil fertility and soil erosion in Malawi. Flooding followed by drought couples with deforestation to cause increased erosion and sedimentation rates. Women’s inability to seek work elsewhere, and their resulting lower yields, makes them more vulnerable to these environmental problems and further hurts their livelihoods.

Gender Disparities

The environmental barriers to securing successful livelihoods that rural women already face are too-often compounded by cultural gender inequalities.

In Greece, for example, there is a significant gender pay gap that results in women farmers earning less, often having to seek out other sources of income.[2] Additionally, a gender division of labor exists, forcing women farmers to tend to the land, as well as household duties and tasks.[3] This decreases their chances of seeking further off-farm employment due to less available time, making it more difficult for them to finance the strategies needed to combat the environmental problems in rural Greece.

In Australia, women comprise half of the rural workforce, yet are severely underrepresented in the decision-making processes of agricultural politics. So while environmental problems like land degradation, water quality issues, and climate change[4] continue to burden rural women farmers, their insight is not valued. Rural Australian women face the added challenge of overcoming cultural barriers, like gender discrimination, in order to adapt and deal with these environmental problems and the effects of climate change.[5]

Likewise, gender disparities realted to limited access to agricultural resources, limited market access, and time allocation, have contributed to the disempowerment of women farmers in Malawi.

In the Andes Mountains of rural Bolivia, soil erosion is most-limiting to communities and furthers the cycle of poverty. With Bolivian women taking on the burden of ensuring food security, they experience this specific problem more than their male counterparts.[6]

***

It is clear to see that not only are rural women farmers incredibly resilient and hardworking, but without their input on environmental issues and increased equality, food security and the global food system will continue to be at risk. So today while you’re eating a meal, think of the rural women farmers around the world who continue to persevere through the most difficult times to put food on your table and their own.

 

 



[1] Dutt, K. L. (2014). Experiencing and coping with change: Women-headed farming households in the Eastern Gangetic Plains. ACIAR Technical Reports, 83, 1-66.
[2] Gidarakou, I. (1999). Young Women’s Attitudes Towards Agriculture and Women’s New Roles in the Greek Countryside: A First Approach. Journal of Rural Studies, 15(2), 145-158.
[3] Stratigaki, M. (1988). Agricultural Modernization And Gender Division Of Labour: The case of Heraklion, Greece. Sociologia Ruralis, 28(4), 248-262.
[4] Hughes, L., Rickards, L., Steffen, W., Stock, P., & Rice, M. (2016). On The Frontline: Climate Change & Rural Communities.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Zimmerer, K. S. (1993). Soil Erosion and Labor Shortages in the Andes With Special Reference to Bolivia, 1953-1991: Implications for “Conservation-With-Development”. World Development, 21(10), 1659-1675.

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a day. That’s over 1,000 meals a year! Say you live with three other people – that’s over 4,000 meals in one household.  Each of those meals has the potential to contribute to climate change, or to help solve it.

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Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

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An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

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One of our biggest potential climate allies is directly under our feet: soil. Healthy, living soil has an enormous capacity to store carbon. In fact, carbon stored in soil accounts for roughly three times the amount stored in the atmosphere! Improving the health of degraded soil holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change.

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Take the Cool Foods pledge and do your part to stabilize the earth’s climate by being more thoughtful about the way you eat.


Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign provides information about the connection between agriculture, food and a stable climate.

Everyone eats, so everyone can join our campaign!

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$2 million in state-funded tax credit for certified organic food production first of its kind in U.S.

HONOLULU—In a huge victory for organic farmers Hawai‘i governor David Ige did not move to veto recently-passed state legislation that would allocate $2 million in state-funded tax credit for certified organic food production (House Bill 1689 CD 1). The state-funded tax credit is the first of its kind in the United States, and is designed to complement existing federal programs that help organic farmers overcome the financial barriers of certification. The landmark legislation passed the House in May, and is now state law.

“Government has a critical role to play in building a local sustainable food system. Hawai‘i cannot meet the goal of doubling local food production without support. By providing financial incentives for organic certification, the state is putting its money where its mouth is,” said Ashley Lukens Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety director.

"If we want a new generation of farmers to start growing food and jobs for us, we need to give them the tools and support to do it," said Representative Chris Lee, who introduced the bill. 

Organic foods and products are a strong emerging market in Hawai‘i, and the sector is valued at over $6 million. The growing demand for locally grown, certified-organic produce and products in Hawai‘i greatly exceeds supply, and Hawai‘i farmers face numerous barriers that deter them from entering the organic sector. These include the financial and paperwork requirements associated with obtaining and maintaining organic certification and higher costs for organic materials, such as fertilizer, which can be double that of conventional farming. The tax credit will help off-set those costs and encourage growth of the organic sector.

“Responsible organic farming builds fertile soil, conserves water and energy, protects biological diversity, and helps mitigate climate change,” said Sean Anderson of Green Rows Farm in Waimanalo, OÊ»ahu. “A vibrant organic farming system is a vital component to promoting a healthy, sustainable food future for HawaiÊ»i.”

 ###

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Thirty Groups, Plus CFS Warn of Political and Economic Consequences of QR Code Labeling

WASHINGTON—A national coalition of rural communities, represented by 30 organizations, has joined the efforts of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Food Democracy Now (FDN) to push back against the biotech industry-inspired efforts by Senators Debbie Stabenow and Pat Roberts to pass GMO labeling legislation which  would effectively deny rural areas equal access to product information and protection under the law.

The most recent legislative debate over the GMO bill has centered around including a “technological fix” known as “QR codes,” which are encoded images on a package that must be scanned and are intended to substitute for clear on-package labeling. Real-time access to the information behind the QR code image requires a smartphone and a reliable broadband connection, technologies often lacking in rural areas.

Members of the rural coalition objected strongly to QR code provisions, which were featured in the last compromise labeling bill, pointing out in a letter that “more than half of rural Americans do not have a smartphone, let alone the necessary network coverage that would be required to access the information.”

The rural coalition also voiced concern that “48% of those who have smartphones have had their service switched off or suspended due to financial hardship.”

The coalition letter comes as the three large food movement organizations (CFS, OCA and FDN), with a combined membership of over two million, distributed information to Senate members pointing out the wide swaths of America which are rural, lacking in broadband coverage and afflicted with high rates of poverty.

Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, commented, “The Senate ignores the concerns of rural Americans at its own peril. There are serious issues of economic discrimination and equal protection of the law being raised here. If members of our farming communities are shut out by industry and denied equal access to information, they will remember that in the polls. We are proud to stand with and for our rural communities insisting upon their right to information to make informed choices about the food products they buy and feed their families.”

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Rural Women Farmers in Malawi Participate in a Focus Group Discussion

(Photo: Claire Jordan)

International Day of Rural Women is an opportunity to bring awareness to the profound ways women living in rural communities around the world contribute to society, as well as the ways they are underrepresented and hindered. Rural women farmers, in particular, have the opportunity to shape a global food system in response to the needs of a growing population and a changing planet, but they need support. For example, it has been proven that women tend to farm more on smaller plots of land utilizing fewer resources, creating more sustainable farms. At the same time, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that global agricultural yields would increase between 2.5 and four percent if female farmers had the same opportunities and resources as their male counterparts. When thinking in terms of food security, that is a significant change in the amount of food produced.

With women accounting for 60 to 80 percent of small-holder farmers internationally, and with 70 percent of the rural poor being women whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, it is crucial that not only today, but every day, rural women farmers are recognized and included in future food security planning.

While they face myriad challenges, four major issues impact rural women farmers across the continents, including climate change, water insecurity, soil infertility, and gender disparities – and often each compounds the other. Let’s look at some examples from Bolivia, Malawi, India, Greece, Australia and the United States:

Climate Change

People all around our planet are seeing the impacts of a changing climate and rural women farmers are especially at-risk. In Bolivia, for example, climate change causes myriad environmental problems—such as reduced rainfall, drought, temperature fluctuations, soil degradation, water pollution, and deforestation—that are specifically detrimental to farmers. Due to the cultural and economic positions Bolivian women are in, they have fewer options for finding alternative livelihoods when climate change destroys their crop yields.

In India, over four-fifths of the women in rural areas work in agriculture. According to a study done by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research, the biggest problems women farmers in India face are climate related, like increased heat and a change in rainfall patterns; an increase in pests and insects; and lower seed quality.[1] Because women are the seed keepers in India, the lack of variety and diversity in the seed market places a heavy toll on these farmers. The same study stated that women farmers and women-headed households in India were more susceptible to shocks from the environmental damages caused by climate change— which is compounded by cultural gender norms that inhibit women from holding land titles, and result in limited control over assets, and displacement.

Likewise, Malawi is one of the countries most affected by climate change. It has been noted that subsistence farmers in rural parts of Malawi are at the forefront of fighting climate change. With 70 percent of the agricultural labor force in Malawi being women, women farmers in rural areas of the country deal the most with the effects of climate change, similar to those faced by their peers in South America and Asia.

 

Women harvesting rice in the Himalaya Mountains in Dharmasala

(Photo: Kaiulani Kimbrell)

Water Crisis

Too much or too little rainfall, and unpredictable and extreme flooding and drought patterns can have drastic effects on rural farmworkers in any community. As with the effects of climate change on agriculture, rural women farmers often feel the brunt of these impacts. Reduced water security in Bolivia is particularly apparent to women. Because women in Bolivia are the ones who tend to manage the farm and ensure that food and water are on the table while men move to urban areas for different jobs, it is women who become most susceptible to changes in quality and quantity of water.

Similarly, erratic rainfall patterns in other parts of the world make once-dependable planting and growing seasons difficult to rely on. Malawi has experienced severe droughts and shorter rainy seasons as a result of climate change, and according to The International Food Policy Research Institute, Malawi loses an average of 1.7 percent of its GDP yearly with small scale farmers most affected. Women there have to walk longer distances regularly to retrieve water. This limits their time on the farm and hinders their ability to adapt to drought.

(In)Fertile Lands

Soil health and quality are essential to successful farming. In the United States, rural communities are plagued by environmental impact issues resulting from the reduction in small farms and the rapid expansion of industrial agriculture. Producers on rural farms in the U.S. experience soil fertility depletion from monocrop planting; soil erosion; lost biodiversity and ecosystem services; and increased costs of irrigation from barren soils and inability to combat drought. Most farms in the U.S. operated by women are small farms with annual sales of less than $10,000. This clearly puts these women farmers at a disadvantage when having to deal with the negative ramifications of industrial agriculture.

Climate change and erratic rainfall have also resulted in reduced soil fertility and soil erosion in Malawi. Flooding followed by drought couples with deforestation to cause increased erosion and sedimentation rates. Women’s inability to seek work elsewhere, and their resulting lower yields, makes them more vulnerable to these environmental problems and further hurts their livelihoods.

Gender Disparities

The environmental barriers to securing successful livelihoods that rural women already face are too-often compounded by cultural gender inequalities.

In Greece, for example, there is a significant gender pay gap that results in women farmers earning less, often having to seek out other sources of income.[2] Additionally, a gender division of labor exists, forcing women farmers to tend to the land, as well as household duties and tasks.[3] This decreases their chances of seeking further off-farm employment due to less available time, making it more difficult for them to finance the strategies needed to combat the environmental problems in rural Greece.

In Australia, women comprise half of the rural workforce, yet are severely underrepresented in the decision-making processes of agricultural politics. So while environmental problems like land degradation, water quality issues, and climate change[4] continue to burden rural women farmers, their insight is not valued. Rural Australian women face the added challenge of overcoming cultural barriers, like gender discrimination, in order to adapt and deal with these environmental problems and the effects of climate change.[5]

Likewise, gender disparities realted to limited access to agricultural resources, limited market access, and time allocation, have contributed to the disempowerment of women farmers in Malawi.

In the Andes Mountains of rural Bolivia, soil erosion is most-limiting to communities and furthers the cycle of poverty. With Bolivian women taking on the burden of ensuring food security, they experience this specific problem more than their male counterparts.[6]

***

It is clear to see that not only are rural women farmers incredibly resilient and hardworking, but without their input on environmental issues and increased equality, food security and the global food system will continue to be at risk. So today while you’re eating a meal, think of the rural women farmers around the world who continue to persevere through the most difficult times to put food on your table and their own.

 

 



[1] Dutt, K. L. (2014). Experiencing and coping with change: Women-headed farming households in the Eastern Gangetic Plains. ACIAR Technical Reports, 83, 1-66.
[2] Gidarakou, I. (1999). Young Women’s Attitudes Towards Agriculture and Women’s New Roles in the Greek Countryside: A First Approach. Journal of Rural Studies, 15(2), 145-158.
[3] Stratigaki, M. (1988). Agricultural Modernization And Gender Division Of Labour: The case of Heraklion, Greece. Sociologia Ruralis, 28(4), 248-262.
[4] Hughes, L., Rickards, L., Steffen, W., Stock, P., & Rice, M. (2016). On The Frontline: Climate Change & Rural Communities.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Zimmerer, K. S. (1993). Soil Erosion and Labor Shortages in the Andes With Special Reference to Bolivia, 1953-1991: Implications for “Conservation-With-Development”. World Development, 21(10), 1659-1675.

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a da.', ), ), ), 'bid_3610' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Related Issue 2', 'block_type' => 'Relation', 'block_alias' => 'rel2', 'post_id' => '39657', 'content' => array ( 0 => array ( 'custom_title' => '', 'page_id' => '4422', 'name1' => 'Victory! 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Rural Women Farmers in Malawi Participate in a Focus Group Discussion

(Photo: Claire Jordan)

International Day of Rural Women is an opportunity to bring awareness to the profound ways women living in rural communities around the world contribute to society, as well as the ways they are underrepresented and hindered. Rural women farmers, in particular, have the opportunity to shape a global food system in response to the needs of a growing population and a changing planet, but they need support. For example, it has been proven that women tend to farm more on smaller plots of land utilizing fewer resources, creating more sustainable farms. At the same time, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that global agricultural yields would increase between 2.5 and four percent if female farmers had the same opportunities and resources as their male counterparts. When thinking in terms of food security, that is a significant change in the amount of food produced.

With women accounting for 60 to 80 percent of small-holder farmers internationally, and with 70 percent of the rural poor being women whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, it is crucial that not only today, but every day, rural women farmers are recognized and included in future food security planning.

While they face myriad challenges, four major issues impact rural women farmers across the continents, including climate change, water insecurity, soil infertility, and gender disparities – and often each compounds the other. Let’s look at some examples from Bolivia, Malawi, India, Greece, Australia and the United States:

Climate Change

People all around our planet are seeing the impacts of a changing climate and rural women farmers are especially at-risk. In Bolivia, for example, climate change causes myriad environmental problems—such as reduced rainfall, drought, temperature fluctuations, soil degradation, water pollution, and deforestation—that are specifically detrimental to farmers. Due to the cultural and economic positions Bolivian women are in, they have fewer options for finding alternative livelihoods when climate change destroys their crop yields.

In India, over four-fifths of the women in rural areas work in agriculture. According to a study done by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research, the biggest problems women farmers in India face are climate related, like increased heat and a change in rainfall patterns; an increase in pests and insects; and lower seed quality.[1] Because women are the seed keepers in India, the lack of variety and diversity in the seed market places a heavy toll on these farmers. The same study stated that women farmers and women-headed households in India were more susceptible to shocks from the environmental damages caused by climate change— which is compounded by cultural gender norms that inhibit women from holding land titles, and result in limited control over assets, and displacement.

Likewise, Malawi is one of the countries most affected by climate change. It has been noted that subsistence farmers in rural parts of Malawi are at the forefront of fighting climate change. With 70 percent of the agricultural labor force in Malawi being women, women farmers in rural areas of the country deal the most with the effects of climate change, similar to those faced by their peers in South America and Asia.

 

Women harvesting rice in the Himalaya Mountains in Dharmasala

(Photo: Kaiulani Kimbrell)

Water Crisis

Too much or too little rainfall, and unpredictable and extreme flooding and drought patterns can have drastic effects on rural farmworkers in any community. As with the effects of climate change on agriculture, rural women farmers often feel the brunt of these impacts. Reduced water security in Bolivia is particularly apparent to women. Because women in Bolivia are the ones who tend to manage the farm and ensure that food and water are on the table while men move to urban areas for different jobs, it is women who become most susceptible to changes in quality and quantity of water.

Similarly, erratic rainfall patterns in other parts of the world make once-dependable planting and growing seasons difficult to rely on. Malawi has experienced severe droughts and shorter rainy seasons as a result of climate change, and according to The International Food Policy Research Institute, Malawi loses an average of 1.7 percent of its GDP yearly with small scale farmers most affected. Women there have to walk longer distances regularly to retrieve water. This limits their time on the farm and hinders their ability to adapt to drought.

(In)Fertile Lands

Soil health and quality are essential to successful farming. In the United States, rural communities are plagued by environmental impact issues resulting from the reduction in small farms and the rapid expansion of industrial agriculture. Producers on rural farms in the U.S. experience soil fertility depletion from monocrop planting; soil erosion; lost biodiversity and ecosystem services; and increased costs of irrigation from barren soils and inability to combat drought. Most farms in the U.S. operated by women are small farms with annual sales of less than $10,000. This clearly puts these women farmers at a disadvantage when having to deal with the negative ramifications of industrial agriculture.

Climate change and erratic rainfall have also resulted in reduced soil fertility and soil erosion in Malawi. Flooding followed by drought couples with deforestation to cause increased erosion and sedimentation rates. Women’s inability to seek work elsewhere, and their resulting lower yields, makes them more vulnerable to these environmental problems and further hurts their livelihoods.

Gender Disparities

The environmental barriers to securing successful livelihoods that rural women already face are too-often compounded by cultural gender inequalities.

In Greece, for example, there is a significant gender pay gap that results in women farmers earning less, often having to seek out other sources of income.[2] Additionally, a gender division of labor exists, forcing women farmers to tend to the land, as well as household duties and tasks.[3] This decreases their chances of seeking further off-farm employment due to less available time, making it more difficult for them to finance the strategies needed to combat the environmental problems in rural Greece.

In Australia, women comprise half of the rural workforce, yet are severely underrepresented in the decision-making processes of agricultural politics. So while environmental problems like land degradation, water quality issues, and climate change[4] continue to burden rural women farmers, their insight is not valued. Rural Australian women face the added challenge of overcoming cultural barriers, like gender discrimination, in order to adapt and deal with these environmental problems and the effects of climate change.[5]

Likewise, gender disparities realted to limited access to agricultural resources, limited market access, and time allocation, have contributed to the disempowerment of women farmers in Malawi.

In the Andes Mountains of rural Bolivia, soil erosion is most-limiting to communities and furthers the cycle of poverty. With Bolivian women taking on the burden of ensuring food security, they experience this specific problem more than their male counterparts.[6]

***

It is clear to see that not only are rural women farmers incredibly resilient and hardworking, but without their input on environmental issues and increased equality, food security and the global food system will continue to be at risk. So today while you’re eating a meal, think of the rural women farmers around the world who continue to persevere through the most difficult times to put food on your table and their own.

 

 



[1] Dutt, K. L. (2014). Experiencing and coping with change: Women-headed farming households in the Eastern Gangetic Plains. ACIAR Technical Reports, 83, 1-66.
[2] Gidarakou, I. (1999). Young Women’s Attitudes Towards Agriculture and Women’s New Roles in the Greek Countryside: A First Approach. Journal of Rural Studies, 15(2), 145-158.
[3] Stratigaki, M. (1988). Agricultural Modernization And Gender Division Of Labour: The case of Heraklion, Greece. Sociologia Ruralis, 28(4), 248-262.
[4] Hughes, L., Rickards, L., Steffen, W., Stock, P., & Rice, M. (2016). On The Frontline: Climate Change & Rural Communities.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Zimmerer, K. S. (1993). Soil Erosion and Labor Shortages in the Andes With Special Reference to Bolivia, 1953-1991: Implications for “Conservation-With-Development”. World Development, 21(10), 1659-1675.

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Originally published on Huffington Post, 4/14/16

The climate crisis is unfolding far more rapidly than scientists predicted. February 2016 was the warmest in more than 135 years of global record keeping, and March will likely break more records. Meanwhile, April in San Francisco is feeling like August in Albuquerque. Dr. Jeff Masters, co-founder of the Weather Underground, reported that records weren’t just broken; they were smashed by a “jaw-dropping margin.”

It’s a problem of spectacular and unprecedented magnitude, and humans have to implement large-scale solutions to help de-escalate this crisis. Of course, thoughtful consideration must be given to what these solutions should look like. In The Gift of Good Land, noted poet, essayist, novelist, farmer and conservationist Wendell Berry provides wise counsel. In the chapter “Solving for Pattern,” he describes three very different kinds of solutions.

Berry’s first two types of solutions are actually “false paths,” examples of what not to do. These so-called solutions lead to a host of new problems — otherwise known as unintended consequences — “causing a hellish symbiosis in which problem and solution reciprocally enlarge one another.” He gives the example of air conditioners that are powered by burning coal. False solutions, according to Berry, “serve one good at the expense of another or of several others.” Berry’s third option is the one we need — the solution that “solves more than one problem and does not make new problems,” but rather “improves the balances, symmetries, or harmonies within a pattern.” In other words, a true solution.

Using Berry’s criteria, the rapidly growing soil carbon movement sees an enormously promising climate solution right under our feet. This movement, which coalesced at COP21 in Paris, is calling on farmers and land managers around the world to “draw down” CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in the ground as soil carbon (the organic matter in soil). This is critical because unlike in the atmosphere and the oceans, where there is a dangerous overabundance of CO2, most soils suffer from a serious lack of carbon. In fact, it is estimated that the earth’s cultivated soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their original carbon stocks. Rebuilding the carbon would transfer CO2 from the sky, where it has become a menace, to the ground, where it would provide climate relief and more.

The additional benefits? Increasing carbon in soil increases the soil’s water-holding capacity. Carbon-rich soils act like giant fresh water sponges; according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, every 1 percent increase in soil’s organic matter results in as much as 25,000 gallons of available soil water per acre. Meanwhile, carbon-rich soils are better able to support plant growth than degraded soils, and plant biomass (in the form of grasses, bushes, and trees) provides critical habitat and food for the world’s fauna. Carbon feeds soil life, allowing for greater yields of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and grains. Healthy, rich soils facilitate locally appropriate food production worldwide.

Sounds good, but does increasing the carbon content of soil create new problems elsewhere? No. Building soil carbon does not create new problems, but instead improves the “balances, symmetries, and harmonies” within the pattern. Rebuilding soil carbon fits Berry’s strict specifications; it is “ecologically, agriculturally and culturally healthful,” and it improves the whole. Re-building the carbon content of the earth’s much-abused soils offers a true solution to our global climate crisis.

While by no means the only action we should be taking to address this crisis (we must also sharply curtail emissions), it is urgent that we start rebuilding depleted soil carbon stocks and attempt to bring the carbon cycle back into balance. There is cause for hope. Soil science, a long neglected field, is enjoying a renaissance. Farmers and ranchers around the world are dedicating themselves to understanding biological processes and learning how to rebuild soil carbon from the ground up.

Policy incentives can help. California’s Governor, Jerry Brown has proposed $20 million to kick off the “Healthy Soil Initiative“ — a program to increase carbon levels in California’s agricultural soils to help it meet ambitious climate goals. Done right, this investment will also address the state’s 500-year drought, keep farmers in business and citizens fed. Solving for pattern, indeed.

Follow Diana Donlon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RebuildSoil

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Soil is the digestive system of the earth.  Think about it: organisms in the soil consume, digest, and recycle organic matter—just like your stomach digests the food you eat.  Like your gut, the soil is a living organ, teeming with microorganisms that are tasked with exchanging nutrients and keeping plants and ecosystems healthy.  And like your diet, improper “food”—what we add to the soil—can make it very sick or very healthy.

 

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A powerful solution to the climate crisis can be found right beneath our feet—in the soil. By harnessing the immense power of photosynthesis, we can convert atmospheric carbon, a problem, into soil carbon, a solution. Emerging science proves that shifting to regenerative forms of agriculture such as agroecology, agroforestry, cover-cropping, holistic grazing and permaculture will allow us to store excess carbon safely in the ground.

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Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

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An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a day. That’s over 1,000 meals a year! Say you live with three other people – that’s over 4,000 meals in one household.  Each of those meals has the potential to contribute to climate change, or to help solve it.

', ), 'lead_img' => 'tara_firma_farms1_87225.jpg', 'gallery' => array ( 0 => array ( 0 => 'tara_firma_farms1_87225.jpg', 1 => 'Visit CFS’s Soil Solutions Website', 2 => '

Using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere--where it\'s become a problem--and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health.

', 3 => 'https://soilsolution.org/', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'soil-report-hero_498x312_56037.jpg', 1 => '[MINI REPORT] Soil & Carbon: Soil Solutions to Climate Problems', 2 => '

An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity and intensity of extreme weather events. While this is a grim state of affairs, there is hope, and it is right under our feet in the soil.

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/3846/soil-and-carbon-soil-solutions-to-climate-problems', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 2 => array ( 0 => 'soil_still_84072.jpg', 1 => 'Video: Soil: Our Climate Ally Underfoot', 2 => '

One of our biggest potential climate allies is directly under our feet: soil. Healthy, living soil has an enormous capacity to store carbon. In fact, carbon stored in soil accounts for roughly three times the amount stored in the atmosphere! Improving the health of degraded soil holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change.

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Take the Cool Foods pledge and do your part to stabilize the earth’s climate by being more thoughtful about the way you eat.


Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign provides information about the connection between agriculture, food and a stable climate.

Everyone eats, so everyone can join our campaign!

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Originally published on Huffington Post, 4/14/16

The climate crisis is unfolding far more rapidly than scientists predicted. February 2016 was the warmest in more than 135 years of global record keeping, and March will likely break more records. Meanwhile, April in San Francisco is feeling like August in Albuquerque. Dr. Jeff Masters, co-founder of the Weather Underground, reported that records weren’t just broken; they were smashed by a “jaw-dropping margin.”

It’s a problem of spectacular and unprecedented magnitude, and humans have to implement large-scale solutions to help de-escalate this crisis. Of course, thoughtful consideration must be given to what these solutions should look like. In The Gift of Good Land, noted poet, essayist, novelist, farmer and conservationist Wendell Berry provides wise counsel. In the chapter “Solving for Pattern,” he describes three very different kinds of solutions.

Berry’s first two types of solutions are actually “false paths,” examples of what not to do. These so-called solutions lead to a host of new problems — otherwise known as unintended consequences — “causing a hellish symbiosis in which problem and solution reciprocally enlarge one another.” He gives the example of air conditioners that are powered by burning coal. False solutions, according to Berry, “serve one good at the expense of another or of several others.” Berry’s third option is the one we need — the solution that “solves more than one problem and does not make new problems,” but rather “improves the balances, symmetries, or harmonies within a pattern.” In other words, a true solution.

Using Berry’s criteria, the rapidly growing soil carbon movement sees an enormously promising climate solution right under our feet. This movement, which coalesced at COP21 in Paris, is calling on farmers and land managers around the world to “draw down” CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in the ground as soil carbon (the organic matter in soil). This is critical because unlike in the atmosphere and the oceans, where there is a dangerous overabundance of CO2, most soils suffer from a serious lack of carbon. In fact, it is estimated that the earth’s cultivated soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their original carbon stocks. Rebuilding the carbon would transfer CO2 from the sky, where it has become a menace, to the ground, where it would provide climate relief and more.

The additional benefits? Increasing carbon in soil increases the soil’s water-holding capacity. Carbon-rich soils act like giant fresh water sponges; according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, every 1 percent increase in soil’s organic matter results in as much as 25,000 gallons of available soil water per acre. Meanwhile, carbon-rich soils are better able to support plant growth than degraded soils, and plant biomass (in the form of grasses, bushes, and trees) provides critical habitat and food for the world’s fauna. Carbon feeds soil life, allowing for greater yields of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and grains. Healthy, rich soils facilitate locally appropriate food production worldwide.

Sounds good, but does increasing the carbon content of soil create new problems elsewhere? No. Building soil carbon does not create new problems, but instead improves the “balances, symmetries, and harmonies” within the pattern. Rebuilding soil carbon fits Berry’s strict specifications; it is “ecologically, agriculturally and culturally healthful,” and it improves the whole. Re-building the carbon content of the earth’s much-abused soils offers a true solution to our global climate crisis.

While by no means the only action we should be taking to address this crisis (we must also sharply curtail emissions), it is urgent that we start rebuilding depleted soil carbon stocks and attempt to bring the carbon cycle back into balance. There is cause for hope. Soil science, a long neglected field, is enjoying a renaissance. Farmers and ranchers around the world are dedicating themselves to understanding biological processes and learning how to rebuild soil carbon from the ground up.

Policy incentives can help. California’s Governor, Jerry Brown has proposed $20 million to kick off the “Healthy Soil Initiative“ — a program to increase carbon levels in California’s agricultural soils to help it meet ambitious climate goals. Done right, this investment will also address the state’s 500-year drought, keep farmers in business and citizens fed. Solving for pattern, indeed.

Follow Diana Donlon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RebuildSoil

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Climate Change is such an enormous and unprecedented problem that it may seem like  our individual efforts can’t possibly make a difference. But, they do, especially on the food front. Think about it: if we are fortunate, most of us eat three times a da.', ), ), ), 'bid_3611' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Related Issue 3', 'block_type' => 'Relation', 'block_alias' => 'rel3', 'post_id' => '38136', 'content' => array ( ), ), 'bid_1089' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Category', 'block_type' => 'Grouping', 'block_alias' => 'cat', 'post_id' => '38137', 'content' => array ( 0 => array ( 'id' => '222', 'PARENT_ID' => '80', 'sub_group' => '0', 'name1' => 'Soil', 'url' => 'soil', 'visible' => '1', 'order' => '7', ), ), ), 'bid_1099' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Author', 'block_type' => 'Grouping', 'block_alias' => 'author', 'post_id' => '38138', 'content' => array ( 0 => array (