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)
Rebel-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)
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