3 Picks: EU Farm Policy, Biodiversity Solution, 2013 Food Prize

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, former Iowa lawyer, Tom Vilsack, meets with Iowa farmers during the drought of 2012. USDA photo by Darin Leach.

Below, are today’s three chosen agricultural-related news picks.

1) Biggest Farms in Europe To Receive Fewer Subsidies: In what has been a very long and involved legislative process, the EU is closer to reforming its agricultural policy, and there has been some success in promoting ecological farming methods. Rowena Mason, for the Telegraph, tells us “The European Union has long been criticised for handing billions of pounds of public money to prop up the continent’s farmers. Around 40 per cent of the EU’s entire budget is spent on subsidies under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), with much paid to big business and industry. Its annual cost to British families is around £100 a year. However, European officials last night appeared to have struck a deal to slash subsidies for large-scale industrial farming by up to a third. More support will be challenged to small-scale famers, especially young ones and those who work in an environmentally-friendly way.” More info on the subject from Bloomberg here.

2) Study Out of Iowa Recommends Biodiversity as a Sustainable Solution (pdf): Matt Liebman1, Matthew J. Helmers, Lisa A. Schulte and Craig A. Chase. A new Iowa study addressed Iowa environmental farming problems including water contamination by nutrients and herbicides, a lack of non-agricultural habitat to support diverse communities of native plants and animals, and a high level of dependence on petrochemical energy in the dominant cropping systems. It also considered that future weather extreme events are likely to make soil and water conservation more difficult. The authors used three cropping systems to address the challenges, and the results included this conclusion… Conversion of small amounts of cropland to prairie buffer strips can provide disproportionately large improvements in soil and water conservation, nutrient retention, and densities of native plants and birds.

3) 2013 World Food Prize Goes to Three Biotechnology Scientists: “Three distinguished scientists — Marc Van Montagu of Belgium, and Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert T. Fraley of the United States — will share the 2013 World Food Prize for their independent, individual breakthrough achievements in founding, developing, and applying modern agricultural biotechnology. Their research is making it possible for farmers to grow crops with: improved yields; resistance to insects and disease; and the ability to tolerate extreme variations in climate.” To see Mark Bittman’s take-down of the Food Prize over at NYTs Opinionator, go here: “The True Deservers of a Food Prize”. (I wish I had time to critique what he wrote, as I disagree with some of it, agree with some of it, but also think he’s missing some of the big picture.)

This news post was written and compiled by K. McDonald.

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