Digest – News: Farm Bill “compromise,” mystery spray clouds, John Edwards gets rural

Not bloody likely: What's up with the Farm Bill? Carolyn Lochhead has a clear, concise summary of all the back-room wheeling and dealing that's been going on. The story's (mis) lead says there's been a "breakthrough," thanks to a couple billion "found" for California fruit and vegetable marketing, farm conservation, and food stamps in a Faustian bargain for maintaining the subsidy system. Writes Lochhead, "It was unclear whether the deal would appease the unusual left-right alliance of reformers hoping to change the 70-year-old system of crop subsidies that they contend has speeded farm industrialization, harmed the environment and contributed to the nation's obesity epidemic." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Good morning, Vietnam: Planes are spraying large swathes of Monterey, CA, with deadly pesticides to combat the light brown apple moth. Residents are getting sick, but the government is honoring the corporation's "trade secrets" and refusing to reveal the pesticide's ingredients. (Los Angeles Times)

At least one presidential candidate has guts: John Edwards is telling rural Iowa audiences that he would push for a national moratorium on building or expanding livestock confinement facilities (aka CAFOs), having seen firsthand in North Carolina what mega-hog-farms do to communities and the environment. He also said he would push for tougher federal environmental regulations and for rigorous enforcement of current manure disposal laws. (Des Moines Register) Related: Meanwhile, Barack Obama just unveiled his agriculture plan, too. It sounds great — so why isn't he in Washington trying to get even a tiny piece of it in the Farm Bill? And who's got more ties to Monsanto: Edwards or Clinton?

Bye-bye, cheap organic TJ's pinenuts: Trader Joe's says it is phasing out "single ingredient" foods imported from China over concerns that its standards on organic products aren't stringent enough. (Chicago Sun-Times)

starRebel-heroes in the food revolution: Looking at small farmers who skirt the federal rules, like the raw-milk outlaws and a Virginia farmer who has violated government requirements by slaughtering his own pigs. Says Joel Salatin: "If you want to come to my farm, look and smell around, and make an informed decision to opt out of Wal-Mart, you should have the freedom to do so." (Washington Post)

Pasture wars: Marion Burros reports on the USDA's grassfed announcement (which we covered Tuesday), and how the American Grassfed Association says it will set up its own certification system. (New York Times)

Oh, "natural"…: A group of 40 Congresspeople has sent a letter to Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner calling USDA's regulation of the term "natural" for fresh poultry products "misleading." Because it makes consumers think the birds are raised with room to turn around, with beaks intact? Nah. Because processors can add ingredients such as sodium, carageenans, and seaweed extracts. (Cattle Network)

The best defense is being offensive: Smithfield is suing the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union for mounting a "public smear campaign." (Meating Place)

Eating on the edge: With gas and heating prices up, low-income families are having an even harder time living paycheck to paycheck. Sales data from Family Dollar, Wal-Mart, and 7-Eleven track trends around paydays. Question for readers: Do any farmers markets pool their leftover produce and donate it to food pantries? (ABC News)

Got a sneeze guard on your milking stool?: A NY dairy farmer wants to sell raw milk through a cow-share LLC, bypassing the licensing. Her argument: "There's a lot more e-coli in salad bars than [in] raw milk, and they're not shutting down salad bars." (WHEC-TV)

Third ‘leaky load’ of chicken scraps hits Wisconsin Minnesota streets; police annoyed (Winona Daily News)

7 Responsesto “Digest – News: Farm Bill “compromise,” mystery spray clouds, John Edwards gets rural”

  1. Jack says:

    "that they contend has speeded farm industrialization, harmed the environment and contributed to the nation’s obesity epidemic."

    Contend?

    Contributed? (could we at least add "strongly" in front of that?)

    Just another example that some writers know a lot more about the subject (Carol Ness) than others at the same newspaper.

  2. Jack says:

    "Question for readers: Do any farmers markets pool their leftover produce and donate it to food pantries?"

    Something I've wondered, too, but I also think (perhaps wrongly) that Farmers' markets and food poverty locations are, for the most part, not on the same parts of the map. I'm not saying it's not everywhere, but I think Farmer's Market are most often found where people have a high amount of money to spend on food, not a low amount.

  3. In Berkeley there is a produce stand run by Spiral Gardens that might sell surplus farmers market goods at prices that are lower than the standard Berkeley farmers market. I'm not 100% sure about that, as they might also have alternative contracts with farmers that offer better prices. Spiral Gardens is located in a lower-income area of Berkeley that is a "food desert" without any full service grocery stores (until the western branch of Berkeley Bowl opens in a few years, after a few years of delay from NIMBY neighbors).

  4. Aaron the Devourer says:

    Winona is in Minnesota.

  5. Bonnie P. says:

    Aaron: Thanks -- got confused because the chicken plant to blame is in Wisconsin.

  6. Kei says:

    Re: Not bloody likely
    This is frustrating. I'd like to think that consumers can bring about change through their purchases, but clearly the paltry amounts people spend buying farm-direct is nothing compared to the dollars at stake in the Farm Bill.

  7. Susan says:

    Mandatory Sterilization of Raw Almonds

    This is "nuts." I wish big business would leave our food alone and stop irradiating it and sterilizing it and putting high fructose corn syrup in everything and, and and. If you want to know more about this, here's a link:
    http://www.livingtreecommunity.com/store2/Almond_FactSheet.pdf