Tom Vilsack is a far cry from Dacian Cioloş. Plus, More Agriculture News This Week.
Below, is a selection of recent agriculture-related news.
Today’s news post title was inspired by a der Spiegel article. The piece, which I recommend reading, discusses Germany’s dislike for the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, who took his post in 2010. But it explains that many of the other EU nations do approve of Cioloş’ agricultural management approach which includes environmental preservation and protection of the countryside and a goal to combat global warming. Cioloş knows that 90 percent of Europeans want the farmers to help serve the public good in return for the billions of Euros that they receive from taxpayers. His green approach stems from seeing first hand the damage that was done by Communist all out production to the land and water in his home country of Romania, including the way it destroyed small rural villages. He is quite a contrast to Obama administration’s Tom Vilsack, who is on course to serve eight years as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack promotes industrial agriculture and the economic interests of his home state of Iowa, with all out production through the promotion of monocultures, biofuels policies, and a reduction in Conservation Reserve Program lands. Cioloş, on the other hand, wants to see 7 percent of EU farmland turned into environmental priority areas which are off-limits to the use of chemicals and high-tech farming methods. The next farm bill writers and the American citizens need to pay attention to this contrast between European and American leadership approaches to agriculture policy. Here is a quote from der Spiegel:
He (Cioloş) wants agriculture to no longer be focused primarily on growth, mass production and expanding exports, but rather on environmentally friendly farming and biodiversity. In other words, Ciolos is concerned about the survival of the bit players, both farmers and animals. … he wants to put an end to the unrestrained practice of plowing pastureland to convert it into arable fields — a process that releases massive amounts of greenhouse gases. Ciolos wants to stop the trend toward monocultures in fields with more extensive crop rotation, which would eliminate the need for tons of high-energy chemical fertilizer.
In other news . . .
Twenty ethanol plants have now been idled and one has closed for good. What if there is a drought again in 2013? Or, put another way, what if God made and likes the farmer but doesn’t like ethanol?
I recommend this GM technology myth-busting article from The Atlantic.
How will climate change impact crop production? This is a new study released by the USDA which received a lot of media attention this past week. If you want to see the DesMoines Register coverage of the study, it’s here. “Changes may overwhelm ability of plants, animals to adapt.”
Brazil and Argentina are expected to produce record soybean harvests, but here in the U.S. stocks are so low we’re looking to import. (Yet we are using soybeans to make taxpayer subsidized biodiesel.)
The FAO Food Price Index remained unchanged in January. World cereal production fell in 2012 but prospects are looking good for 2013, along with an expected increase in global wheat production.
Greek farmers handed out fifty tonnes of free produce to protest the government’s fuel tax and VAT costs.
In the last 45 years, IITA working with national partners have developed more than 40 improved cassava varieties with potential yield ranging from 20 to 40 tons per hectare as opposed to traditional varieties that give farmers less than 10 tons per hectare.
A new alliance has formed between struggling labor unions and an increased demand for marijuana workers. The medical marijuana market could grow to $8.9 billion by 2016.
This is a very sane article by a new book author on the subject of bees, and she concludes that bee problems are multi-factorial.
Originally from Iran, University of Idaho professor Essie Fallahi has been an innovator in helping Idaho with fruit production techniques and by introducing new farm products and thinking to Idaho growers.
Written and compiled by K. McDonald.