Digest – News: Answer to Alice Waters mystery, Farm Bill stalls again, avian flu back in UK
Umbrellas up, chickens — there's a deluge of catch-up links since last weekend's Digesting. O how we hate it when the RSS-feed headlines top 4,000.
Alice on the Ameya Preserve: In a Wall Street Journal story titled "Politically Correct Developments: Montana Project Raises Ante for PC Amenities," Alice Waters pretty much answers the question Charlotte asked her in our most-commented blog post ever. (Alas, she never got back to us.) "Waters says she signed onto the project because Mr. Dokken agreed to pledge $500,000 to Slow Food Nation, an organization she founded: 'I wanted the money for Slow Food.'" Later she says: "Whenever you take money you're compromising yourself. Most people who have money have strings attached, but there are definitely better and worse ones." We sincerely hope she is correct that Ameya is the former, and that Dokken's check has cleared. Charlotte will post a response to this when she comes up for air. (Wall Street Journal; free repost here)
Clustercluck in the Senate: The last five-year Farm Bill expired Sept. 30 — and no, we still don't have one as the Senate heads home for Thanksgiving recess. Republicans filibustered over unrelated amendments they wanted regarding the alternative minimum tax, immigration and other nonagricultural issues. (AP) Related: The Center for Rural Affairs gives odds on when we can expect a bill.
Business is great! Now give us a handout: A story about the status of the Farm Bill — sorry, the "Food and Energy Security Act of 2007" — mentions that net farm income is forecast to hit a record $87.1 billion in 2007, up $28.1 billion from a year ago and almost $25 billion more than the average farm income during the past decade. (San Francisco Chronicle)
England can't catch a break: A confirmed case of H5N1 bird flu has hit a free-range turkey farm in England. (Financial Times)
I want my rBST-free!: Pennsylvania is stopping dairies from advertising their milk as hormone-free. State Agriculture Secretary Dennis C. Wolff said it implies that competitors' rBST-hopped-up milk is not safe, and is often priced unjustifiably higher. It is rather tragic that gullible consumers are being forced at gunpoint to pay so much. (AP) Related: Fillippelli the Cook gets on "the Google" for a little homework on rBST, then tears old "Denny" a new nipple. The state's Evening Sun asks, reasonably, Why aren't agriculture regulators instead devising a method to properly certify dairy products as being produced without hormones, to justify those higher prices?
Seriously, Gov, nothing better to do?: David Gumpert, whose raw-milk blog reports we link to in just about every installment of the Digest, has a roundup piece in the Nation titled "Old McDonald Had a Farm...and He Got Arrested?" that covers all the incidents he's been posting about regarding government crackdowns on small farmers. Related: Gumpert blogs about two Austin-area farmers, who have 30 goats they milk to produce their fresh Maid in the Shade cheese. Or at least they did until two weeks ago, when the state’s Department of State Health Services showed up and confiscated $300 worth of the couple’s cheese. (The Complete Patient)
The Daley show: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has enacted a new nickel-a-container tax on bottled water. As part of a "Tap Water Delivers" campaign for January, when the tax takes effect, the Daley administration plans to give away or sell stainless steel tap-water containers. (Chicago Sun-Times)
You had us going there for a second: Five Smithfield Foods facilities received an Environmental Achievement Award. Yeah, those guys. Oh wait — the award, which recognizes environmental stewardship by companies that exceed requirements in five categories. is given out by the American Meat Institute. What's the matter, Cargill won too many times in a row? (Pollution Online; thanks for the tip, Erin C!)
What color is your pair o'steaks?: The food industry is trying to convince a skeptical Congress that using carbon monoxide to preserve meat's color long past its usability date is no big deal. Hormel Foods and Cargill execs told lawmakers they support a label encouraging consumers to depend on a "use by" or "freeze by" date rather than color. Great! Just what we need, another label explaining why what looks safe might not be. (Reuters) Related: Target wants to add a warning to meat treated with carbon monoxide. (Target sells meat?)
The best help money can buy: Monsanto has hired former U.S. Rep. Larry Combest to lobby the federal government on its behalf during Farm Bill negotiations. Combest chaired the House Ag Committee from 1999 to 2003. (Thomson Financial)
Get inside the belly of the beast: The U.S. EPA is seeking members for a new Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee. Who do they want? From the press release: "Members may represent farmers, ranchers, and rural communities — large and small, crop and livestock, commodity and specialty, regionally balanced--and the rural suppliers, marketers, and processors that serve farmers, ranchers and rural communities…" Sound like anyone you know? (Federal Register)
Stop the clones: Amendment 3524 to the Farm Bill, introduced by Senators Mikulski and Specter, calls for more information on food products from cloned animals, with specific focus on elements that have not been addressed by the FDA's initial risk assessment. (Food Navigator)
But eating them, that's not dangerous at all: Environmentalists think farmers shouldn't compost dead cows and other animals because of pollution concerns about antibiotic- and hormone-filled water runoff. (MSNBC)
I switched cooking oils and all I got was this lousy decal: Los Angeles County has rolled out a program in which local restaurants that stop using trans fats in their cooking get a decal to display in their windows. (Los Angeles Times)
EU subsidies 'shifting away from real farmers' (Telegraph)
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