Nebraska Farmers in “David and Goliath” fight as Keystone XL clears hurdle

the_barnThe controversial Keystone XL pipeline that will move Alberta crude to refineries in the Houston area is one step closer to being a reality. The U.S. State Department concluded the project won’t significantly impact greenhouse emissions. U.S. President Barack Obama will still have the final say, but this is certainly a major hurdle for the pipeline to cross the border.

The part of the pipeline from the Houston area to Oklahoma is already complete and oil began flowing last week. Ground zero now is Nebraska. We often tell this story from 30,000 feet – how it’ll affect the economy, create jobs, harm the environment etc. – but for the most part the pipeline will never directly affect most of us. So we went to someone who it will affect. More than 100 ranchers and farmers, about a third of the landowners in the state, refuse to sell parts of their land.

Source: CTV News | by: Jordan Chittley, Kevin Newman

– This Farm Bill Deserves A Veto

capitolWashington Post Editorial Board | IN TWO recent speeches, his Dec. 4 oration on income inequality and his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama proclaimed his commitment to fairness and equal opportunity. In the former address, he called inequality “the defining challenge of our time”; in the latter, he vowed to use executive action to meet it. So we hope Mr. Obama will pick up the phone, call Congress — and tell them he’s preparing his veto pen for the 2014 farm bill. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that this legislative grotesquerie gives to the rich and takes from the poor.

Read the entire Editorial Here>>

Source: The Washington Post | Editorial Board

Agriculture: Cornerstone of European Economic Reforms

EuEastern Partnership: EU support for agriculture could become cornerstone of economic reforms, Commissioner says

Support for agriculture could become a cornerstone of economic reforms in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, on which stronger economic and trade relations with the EU could be built, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle has told the EaP Ministerial Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development in the Moldovan capital Chisinau.
Addressing the first EaP ministerial meeting after the Vilnius summit last November, Füle touched upon the political framing of the Partnership, and its agriculture and rural development component.
The Eastern Partnership supports deep political, structural and economic reforms that are needed for achieving stability and prosperity in the Neighborhood, Füle underlined.
The more ambitious partner countries are in the run-up to signing far-reaching Association Agreements” and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Agreements with the EU sometime this year, the Commissioner went on to say, which present an important challenge for them to adopt and fully apply a broad range of EU standards and rules.
In particular, he cited the need to gradually align food safety, veterinary and plant protection standards to EU norms. These and other challenges will require sustained political commitment, which will be rewarded by concrete economic benefits, the Commissioner stressed.
The EU has made available considerable assistance to put these Agreements in place, Füle said,including a broad set of programs, ranging from specific technical assistance to very large sector programs to support in-depth reforms in the areas of agriculture, rural development or food safety.
Source: ENPO Info

Pak, Argentina to enhance coop in agriculture sector

pakistan_argentinaPakistan and Argentina have great potential to enhance cooperation in agriculture sector for achieving mutually beneficial results, say Rodolfo Martin Saravia, Ambassador of Argentina while addressing business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

He said Argentina is strong in meat production could provide modern technology to Pakistan for quality meat production with modern line slaughter houses and end to end supply chain solutions. He said Halal meat is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and Argentina could send its experts to help Pakistan meat industry for reaping its full potential in Halal meat market.

Rodolfo said Argentina could also support Pakistan with technology transfer and expertise for agriculture development and increasing per acre yield, which has great impact for Pakistan’s economy. He said 50-60 companies of Argentina are participating in GULF FOOD 2014 Expo being held at Dubai from February 23-27, 2014 and stressed that maximum number of Pakistani entrepreneurs should attend that Expo. Read the entire article>>

Source: Pakistan Observer

Cochabamba: At least 7,926 families affected by floods

floodsAt least 7,926 families were affected by floods caused by heavy rains that fell last week in three regions of Cochabomba, Bolivia.  

Cinthia Vargas, Secretary of the Bolivian environmental group,”Derechos de la Madre Tierra,”  explained that this figure is still preliminary pending a survey of the damage in the towns of Villa Tunari, Chimoré, Puerto Villarroel, Shinahota, and Entre Rios. Vargas explained that the 

In addition to the human toll, there is nearly 20,000 acres of crops that were affected.  The representative of the Andina Commonwealth, Juan Carlos Terrazas, reported that several acres of potatoes and corn were damaged by a hail storm last weekend.

Poyang Lake and the Three Gorges Dam

poyang_lakebedChina’s largest fresh water lake, the Poyang , recently – if reluctantly – gave up a 400 year old archeological treasure.  The remnants of a granite bridge from the Ming Dynasty  emerged as the lake’s water levels receded to historic lows.

The lake, which has covered as many as 1,740 square miles, has been reduced to less than one-third its original size due to persistent drought conditions and the impact of the Three Gorges Dam project.

The combined stresses of the drought and the dams alteration of river flow is threatening the plankton, fish, and the way of life of local residents who derive their income by fishing these waters – most for many generations.

The situation reached a crisis point in 2012 which required the Chinese government to air-drop millet, maize, and shrimp over Poyang Lake to feed wildlife which were at risk due to the drought conditions.

According to the People’s Government of Jiangxi Province, the conditions have exposed much of Poyang’s lake bed and is challenging the viability of the ecosystem.

In human terms, the decimated income streams are made worse by water shortages affecting the region.







Chipotle Lampoons Agriculture Industry With Hulu Miniseries

Two words: exploding cows. That’s the problem caused by industrial agriculture in a new satirical miniseries, Farmed and Dangerous, created by fast-food-with-integrity chain Chipotle (CMG). The four-episode series makes its debut on Hulu next month.

In case you couldn’t tell, subtlety isn’t a big part of Farmed and Dangerous. The series follows fictional company Animoil’s attempts to market a new animal feed made of petroleum, PetroPellet, despite its unfortunate side effect of making cows blow up. Animoil’s efforts with its PR agency to manipulate the public into believing PetroPellet is safe are thwarted by an idealistic farmer who decides to launch his own public-relations assault.

About two hours long in total, is the series a bit overkill? Farmers have criticized Chipotle’s prior marketing efforts as inaccurate and manipulative. It launched a game and video last year, The Scarecrow, and a TV ad in 2011 that promoted similar anti-industrial agriculture themes. “The message is not realistic nor does it paint an accurate image of modern agriculture,” wrote cattleman and blogger Ryan Goodman about The Scarecrow. Read the entire article>>



AU urges Africa to deepen economic integration to eradicate poverty

african_agricultureAfrican Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma on Monday called on Africa to deepen economic integration in order to eradicate widespread hunger and poverty on the continent.

Dhlamini-Zuma made the call at the opening of the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council.

“We are today more convinced than ever, that we shall not succeed in eradicating poverty, disease, conflict and hunger and provide a better life for the peoples of our continent unless we have greater integration of our economies,” the AU Commission chairperson said.

She said mineral beneficiation, increased industrialization and agricultural production were also key to accelerating development on the continent.

With the upcoming 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly running under the central theme, “Agriculture and Food Security”, Dhlamini-Zuma said agriculture and agro-processing were critical to ensuring sustained and inclusive growth of 7 percent and higher in Africa.

The continent, she said, would in 2014 focus more on increasing agricultural investment and productivity; growing agro-business and value chains; expanding infrastructure; skills; and research for agriculture in pursuit of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) goals.  Read the entire article here>>


Brazil: Amazon deforestation rose 28% in a year

amazon_deforestationBrazil says the rate of deforestation in the Amazon increased by 28% between August 2012 and last July, after years of decline.

The government is working to reverse this “crime”, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said.

Activists have blamed the increase in destruction on a controversial reform to Brazil’s forest protection law.

Last year Brazil reported the lowest rate of deforestation in the Amazon since monitoring began.

The provisional statistics from August 2012 to last July suggest that the area suffering deforestation was 5,843 sq km (2,255 sq miles), compared to 4,571 sq km (1,765 sq miles) in the previous 12 months.

The 28% rise interrupts a period of declining deforestation which began in 2009. However, it still remains the second lowest annual figure for forest loss in absolute terms.

The worst year on record was 2004, when 27,000 sq km of forest was destroyed.

Monthly data from several scientific institutions had suggested the deforestation rate might be on the rise. Read the entire article here>>

Source: BBC News |

Stormy Sea Ahead for the California Water Debate

Central Valley Water CrisisWASHINGTON — The California drought will soon expose the geographic, political, personal and institutional divisions that complicate meaningful congressional action.

Forget farmers versus environmentalists, that classic California plot. These divisions go deeper, and could easily kill the legislative fixes House Republicans vowed to make at a Bakersfield-area farm last week.

In the state’s Central Valley, the potential farmer-against-farmer conflict could pit East Side versus West Side and North versus South. On Capitol Hill, besides the never-ending clash between Republicans and Democrats, unresolved tensions divide House from Senate. One on one, bad blood divides certain key lawmakers.

“It’s probably going to be very difficult for Congress to respond,” Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, said in an interview Friday, “but this crisis is so big that Congress has to try.”  Read the entire article here >>

Source: Sacramento Bee | By: Michael Doyle, McClatchy Washington Bureau