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“Agricultural Pollution”

bauer-fertilizer.jpgIndustrial agriculture is among the leading causes of water pollution in the United States today. In the 2000 National Water Quality Inventory conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agricultural activity was identified as a source of pollution for 48% of stream and river water, and for 41% of lake water.

Water pollution from industrial farms not only damages the environment and kills wildlife, but it can also sicken and kill people. And since these farms exercise little restraint when it comes to water usage, they tend to waste large quantities of water, even when neighboring communities are experiencing water shortages.  Because small, sustainable farms are more integrated with their surrounding communities, they pay closer attention to the ways that they use water and how their practices affect local water supplies.

Water overuse is particularly a problem on industrial farms that do not tailor their farming practices on a case by case basis. For example, a dairy that uses an automatic “flushing” system to clean out its animal houses uses an average of 150 gallons of water per cow per day, compared to an average of 5-10 gallons used by farms that monitor their water use in order to conserve it.

https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-and-effects-of-agricultural-pollution.php

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Young Farmers

Dillon Brennan

Current Event

 

In an article that appeared in Farmers in June 2017, the top concerns of young famers were outlined. It was conducted as a round table discussion and the more prominent issues were discussed. Leading the concerns were the issues of when there is not enough land available to farm. Some of the other questions that were raised were how they can determine what to bring to market, what’s going to make them stay competitive and the maintenance of clean equipment. Another concern is the access to capital can often be limited. Other areas they looked at were speaking to landowners explaining financial performance about their business, that they frequently do not get any help from the USDA and the finances can be a struggle to manage. It’s important for them to be well-connected and utilize contacts to help their business.

 

In addition, the young farmers had concerns that they often do not get any time off and there is a lot of responsibility. Also, if they are taking over your parent’s farm, they can have different goals than their parents. They found that if they are taking over their parent’s farm, sometimes the father wants to stay involved and may have a much different approach and goal. The final concern was that they may not have all the skills that they need and often a person has an individual interest or skill but not all the skills they need. It was suggested that if they do not poses all the skills they need to hire from the outside, an example being hiring a marketing consultant.

 

www.successfulfarmingatagriculture.com

Food and Farming

Dillon Brennan

Current event

In an article titled Looking forward: Top 10 Issues for 2018 in Food and Farming was published in Ecocentric December 28, 2018. In this article, some of the pressing issues with regards to farming were reviewed.  Some of the stated concerns of were the cuts to the EPA, blows to the food and environmental systems, there have been rollbacks on the Farmers Fair Practices and proposed reductions to SNAP benefits. In addition, the noted that her have been support by consumers and other advocated to help support policies and initiatives for a better future.

The issues reviewed where the ones that believed to be the that will affect food, faming and the environment. One area looked at is the future of organics with the 2018 NOSB (National Organic Board) voted to let hydroponic and aquaponics farming stay in the program.

There is a fight on the horizon about 2018 farm bill that is part of federal legislation. It represents a $956 billion initiative over 10 years, that will help to dictate America’s agriculture policy. The is assignment of the majority of the funds going to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), crop insurance, conservation and commodity programs.

Other areas looked at are the effect of natural disasters disrupt food system. There is no way to prevent natural disasters but there is a focus of encouraging techniques that can make crops more resilient. Food waste accounts for 40% of all food produced in the United States while 1 in 8 people are starving. There are harmful algal blooms can have an effect on crops and the effects of deregulation. In addition, there are other areas of concern are the increase use of meat free products, the effect of global warming and the increase use of antibiotics in agriculture. Consumers concern, and voice can have a great impact on how the issues are addressed.

 

http://www.gracelinks.org/…/looking-forward-top-10-issues-for-2018-in-food-and-farming

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food and Farming

Dillon Brennan

Current event

In an article titled Looking forward: Top 10 Issues for 2018 in Food and Farming was published in Ecocentric December 28, 2018. In this article, some of the pressing issues with regards to farming were reviewed.  Some of the stated concerns of were the cuts to the EPA, blows to the food and environmental systems, there have been rollbacks on the Farmers Fair Practices and proposed reductions to SNAP benefits. In addition, the noted that her have been support by consumers and other advocated to help support policies and initiatives for a better future.

The issues reviewed where the ones that believed to be the that will affect food, faming and the environment. One area looked at is the future of organics with the 2018 NOSB (National Organic Board) voted to let hydroponic and aquaponics farming stay in the program.

There is a fight on the horizon about 2018 farm bill that is part of federal legislation. It represents a $956 billion initiative over 10 years, that will help to dictate America’s agriculture policy. The is assignment of the majority of the funds going to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), crop insurance, conservation and commodity programs.

Other areas looked at are the effect of natural disasters disrupt food system. There is no way to prevent natural disasters but there is a focus of encouraging techniques that can make crops more resilient. Food waste accounts for 40% of all food produced in the United States while 1 in 8 people are starving. There are harmful algal blooms can have an effect on crops and the effects of deregulation. In addition, there are other areas of concern are the increase use of meat free products, the effect of global warming and the increase use of antibiotics in agriculture. Consumers concern, and voice can have a great impact on how the issues are addressed.

 

http://www.gracelinks.org/…/looking-forward-top-10-issues-for-2018-in-food-and-farming

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Visit

On the 22nd of April, me, Dylan and Cindy had the chance to go visit the C&B farm with Professor Weiskoff’s class. After a two hour drive, we arrived on location and we were kindly received by the owner Chuck Obern, who founded the farm in 1986; he gave us a brief description on how the internal stucture on the farm and on his employees. Chuck’s intent was to provide us with a deeper insight on how the US farming industry has been affected by the translocation of productions to countries with cheaper labor (e.g Mexico) and on what basis he hires his employees: most of them are immigrants that have a working permit or domestic and other were illegal. What was surprising compared to what the media claims, is that immigrants are not “stealing” the job to US citizens because the vast majority won’t accept to take the job, that consists in long hours of labor every day, though they would have a higher paycheck compared to working at Burger’s King. For example, Chuck told us that his employees get a drug test every month, and all the immigrant employees come out clean, whereas a few US citizens that applied for the job, were always positive to the test, failing to being hired. Chuck told us in detail how much he pays his workers, with a minimum wage of 11.95$ per hour plus 1.25$ for every box they make throughout the day. The C&B farm provides a variety of produce (eggplants, peppers, boo choy, green beans, kale) grown both conventionally and organic.

After the brief presentation, we drove to the field, where we were assigned in groups to workers to help them collect the harvest. My farmer’s name was Ricardo, an immigrate from Mexico who had been working for the company for the past 5 years. After some initial conversation, I started asking him some personal questions with the purpose to understand more of his situation: I found out that he came from Mexico through the desert five years ago, where he had to survive for three days, and as harsh as it may sound to us, he wasn’t really dramatic about it. Ricardo told me with a smile that he had brought with him all the necessary food an water to survive for the trip. Once he reached United States and found this job, he lately settled down and started a family with a fellow countrywoman with which he had two kids; though they had recently separated he told me he still see’s his kids and the wife of his cousin provides him with lunch and dinner everyday (that day she had prepared mole, a typical dish of the Mexican cuisine). After a long hour spent in the sun, harvesting Long Head Peppers, it was time for lunch. We took a couple of pictures and Ricardo kindly gave me a bag of peppers to give to my mom, who is also Mexican and loves spicy food.

On our way back to Miami, we stopped at the museum of the Seminole’s Reservation which I was very excited to see having a deep personal interest in the history of Native Americans: contrary to my expectations, the reserve looked exactly like any other american town, with abandoned Bingo buildings and casinos. It was sad to see how the original populations of this country were confined to such a small area.

This trip was eye opening and I would suggest it to every student at UM.

Suicide Rates Among Farmers are Alarmingly High. Can Federal Legislation Help?

According to the CDC, workers in the forestry, farming, and fishing industry have the highest rates of suicide compared to all businesses in the U.S. Although multiple news outlets have reported these statistics that came out in 2012, federal lawmakers are just now trying to provide aid. One such effort includes the national STRESS ACT recently introduced by Minnosota Congressman Tom Emmer. The bill entails a network of mental health services for vulnerable farmers. The support would specialize in “agricultural behavioral health” that would include a 24/7 hotline with counselors who understand the farming lifestyle.

Although a beginning step, farmers are concerned that this act does not tackle the core of the problem, which is the low economic growth in the industry. Reports have stated that the dwindling prices of corn and soy along with the trade war affecting the price of milk are the main culprits behind the unusual high suicide rates of farmers. While contributing risk factors include feelings of isolation, lack of control, and inaccessibility to mental health services, this bill does nothing to address or provide aid for the financial hardships. Despite this real fear, other farmers see this program comparable to the successful AgrAbility program, which helps physically disabled farmers continue working. If the program is established, the bill will be attached to the 2018 Farm Bill and will rely on “discretionary” funding.

I feel this will help the current farmers dealing with depression, but in order to prevent more farmers from struggling congress needs to address the underlying issue. Farmers are hurting to keep up with today’s straining economic environment, and eventually the federal government will need to address the subsidies and the agriculture market. I just hope while we wait for national action that this hotline will help farmers from taking their lives.

Article: https://civileats.com/2018/04/16/suicide-rates-among-farmers-are-alarmingly-high-can-federal-legislation-help/

GMO Labeling- Worth It?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/05/04/mandatory-gmo-labels-are-coming-for-your-food/?utm_term=.c6eccfcc0323

Image result for gmo foods

(Photo Source: YourNewsWire)

There are new mandatory provisions that will require labeling for certain foods but certain foods are exempt from this labeling. If foods “are made with some refined genetically modified sugars and oils, or if a product contains those ingredients in amounts that fall beneath a predetermined threshold” they will be exempt. Additionally, instead of using the term “genetically modified”, companies can use other words such as “bioengineered”. For those that want absolute transparency in food labeling, labeling some GMOs and not others as well as rewording “genetically modified” may be misleading for those that want to know whether or not something is GMO.

However, the question that goes along with this concerns whether or not it is even necessary to label GMOs. Trying to label food a certain way typically means the label is something that the consumer should concern themselves with, and many people believe GMOs are not as bad as they are painted to be, and therefore not worth labeling and misleading.

So, what are the pros and cons of GMOs?

The pros are more obvious. We are living in a world of almost 8 billion people, 12.9 percent of which are undernourished. GMO crops allow us to produce higher yields of crops, due to them being of a higher resistance to diseases, conserve more water, and more.

Despite studies that may have exaggerated the effects of GMOs, there may be the chance that GMOs contribute to higher rates of allergies or cancer, but those conclusions are not very backed up. GMO crops do pose a threat to small businesses, particularly in the case of Monsanto’s monopoly on large scale crops. They genetically engineer crops so that the seeds cannot be harvested, and therefore not reproduced unless purchased through Monsanto.

Overall, there seems to be no real apparent problem in the case of GMOs regarding health. Nevertheless, GMOs, particularly in the case of Monsanto, have the potential to monopolize and overpower smaller companies. This issue is something all people should be aware of, no matter what they think about the effect of GMOs on health.

 

Links Between Diet and Fertility

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-43990184

Image result for fast food and fertility

(Image Source: Fab Fertile)

(Information source: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-43990184)

A recent study conducted by Human Reproduction found that women with a higher amount of fast food in their diets tended to be less likely to conceive within a year than women who had less fast food in their diets.

This is a step in the right direction for producing quantitative studies on how nutrition really can impact health. Nutrition is not factored in nearly as much as it should be, especially in how it can help with health conditions, from diabetes, to heart disease, to some forms of cancer. It is up to the average American citizen to make better decisions regarding their health, despite the convenience fast foods offers. It also up to medical professionals to emphasize prevention through lifestyle, rather than through treatment on preventable diseases.

Further studies on how a male’s diet affects whether or not a woman conceives or how other types of foods affect fertility should still happen; nevertheless, this study offers us valuable information for people who hope to conceive. Hopefully part of recommended ways to increase fertility do become to change one’s diet.