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Ben Grosscup, Northeast Organic Farming Association. Lots of formal and informal learning takes place when the organic and ecological farming associations hold their annual meetings. - The NOFA conference is one among so many that you could learn, see their exhibits, and eat the usually great local food just about any month of the year.
Ben Grosscup, organizer for the Northeast Organic Farming Association describes this year's summer conference, held in the center of the state on the campus of UMass, Amherst. There are "tracks" at this meeting on carbon farming, using draft animals, new farmers, dowsing, cooperatives, and more.
Ben Helphand is co-chairing the 35th annual conference of the American Community Gardening Association. He's also executive director of NeighborSpace, a nonprofit urban land trust that preserves and sustains Chicago's community-managed open spaces.
A grassroots form of community development, community gardens' scale and largely urban presence foster new ideas. Somewhere in the world's community gardens there is every permutation of growing things and using space to: grow food, flowers and healthy people; create beauty and foster recreation; teach new skills; and make communities more alive. In what amounts to a survey of cutting edge issues, Ben gives examples of Chicago gardens, describes plans for speakers, tours, and workshops, and conveys these gardens' remarkable contributions to communities.
Jay Feldnman, Beyond Pesticides. Consumers reach for familiar brands without much reflection. But the familiar brand of USDA organic has been fought for for 20 years. It requires awareness and protection - today and into the future.
Jay Feldman, National Organic Standards Board member and director of Beyond Pesticides, describes the federal structure that institutionalized (in a good sense) organic agriculture. About more than no-spray produce, it defines and protects the entire alternative approach to conventional agriculture. It stimulates farmers to innovate and insulates the standards from corporate influence. But once organics promised significant growth, more, larger producers became involved. Now the defenses that protect the broad and deep organics program are being attacked. Feldman, present at the creation, recounts this process.
Farmers Margot McMillen (Missouri) and George Naylor (Iowa) discuss pesticide drift - when dust, droplets or vapor move to unintended sites and affect non-target species.
Pesticide drift can harm farmworkers, residents, wildlife, plants, and property. Accordingly, with each new pesticide generation manufacturers, regulators, public health experts and farmers continue to address drift management. But herbicide-resistant corn and soy with both 2,4-D and glyphosate - Enlist Duo - significantly raise the risks. 2,4-D volatilizes. This matters because vapor can be inhaled and because wind, temperature, and humidity affect rates of volatilization. Inclement weather makes farmers apply herbicides later in the season, for example, increasing risk of volatilization because the temperature is higher and prompt incorporation into the soil is impractical.
Pesticide resistant weeds and massive disappearance and death of the U.S. honeybees - a farmer and two beekeepers lay out their perspective on managing weeds and protecting bees in the context of U.S. GM commodity crops.
Glyphosate and neonicotinoids poison bees' food, kill the bees, and destroy their forage. Even without being combined with 2,4-D into Enlist Duo, their impact is huge. This week's show and the extra interview are with guests George Naylor, who grew up weeding soybeans and now uses conventional herbicides to grow non-GM soy and corn; commercial beekeeper Steve Ellis, who trucks 1300 hives between Minnesota and California annually and works with EPA regulators to protect bees; and Michael Mayer, commercial beekeeper in central Missouri for 42 years.
The US EPA is accepting comments through June 30th on Dow Agroscience's application for approval of soy and corn seeds containing glyphosate and 2, 4-D. Linda Wells, Associate Director of Organizing at Pesticide Action Network North America, assesses the implications.
Utilization of Round-up Ready and 2,4-D-ready GM seeds involves use of a massive amount of pesticides on a regular basis - and 2,4-D has more serious health effects and is both more susceptible to drift and more harmful to non-target species. She also notes that USDA and EPA are interpreting their mandate to protect very narrowly, giving inadequate consideration to exposures of rural people, both farm families and farm workers. Linda often writes for the PANNA blog, Ground Truth.
Regulatory agencies in the US, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa are considering applications for approval of a new GM soybean resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D, a well-documented human health and environmental hazard and an ingredient in Agent Orange.
Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN, 2,4-D describes this as part of the agribusiness GM seed strategy to control "the immense market for agricultural inputs and toxic herbicides" and to defeat those who continue to resist agribusiness incursions into their homelands. Henk notes the irony of 2,4-D's re-introduction to counter rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant superweeds that exist by having adapted to survive repeated sprayings of Roundup. GRAIN is an international NGO supporting small farmers' struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems
The 6 year old Fish Locally Collaborative (FLC) unites individuals and organizations who represent 400,000 fishermen and people around the world who want to support fish stocks, fishing communities, and to change policy.
Ideally, managing a resource locally or eating locally is about stewarding and enjoying what flourishes in a distinct ecosystem with its own particular features. Taking this seriously, the FLC's bottom-up approach to fisheries management utilizes the knowledge and power that result when participants with local stakes collaborate - from fishermen to academics and policy makers. Brett Tolley, organizer for the Northwest Marine Alliance, describes FLC's values and its aims to reach beyond its "silo" to others with common interests to sustain local food sources and food systems.
The 4th generation in a line of New England fishermen, Brett Tolley started out helping farmers struggle to co-exist with industrial agriculture, because his father had discouraged him from becoming a fisherman. But seeing consolidation doing the same things to fishermen that it has to farmers, he came back to fisheries as an activist.
Catch shares, the current approach used to regulate commercial fishing, is not preserving fish stocks as intended and is making it impossible for local fishing communities to survive. Catch shares have turned the right to fish into a trade able commodity that belongs increasingly to large fishing fleets and seafood processing companies. Brett describes why, when and how catch shares were introduced and their ramifications for owners of small boats.
The conversation captures the multiple roles of a state legislator - and by implication, the several ways food activists can collaborate with other players in policy-making.
The legislative roles include: individual with particular values and concerns and student of those he cares about; pivotal member of networks where activists and lobbyist learn about each other's positions; and participant/strategist during the approximately six years between introduction to law. Better known for concerns with healthcare, education, and economic support for working families, MA State Senator Jason Lewis strongly opposes cruelty to animals and the ecosystem destruction it usually involves. He has proposed legislation banning sale of shark fins in MA and banning certain animal confinement systems.
State legislatures are a crucial battle ground for food rights issues. By mid-April, 2014, Vermont had passed the first GMO labeling bill in the US, and the Grocery Manufactures' Association had gotten a bill offered in the US House to preempt state GMO labeling.
Pete Kennedy, Board President of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, describes beating back an article slipped into an unrelated bill in Illinois to ban raw milk sales to consumers on farms. Pat Fiero, Lead Regional Organizer, Move-On New England, tells how the MA GM labeling law is one committee away from the floor of the legislature. David Gumpert, writer on raw milk and food rights, describes raw milk as a food rights lightening rod for consumers and the FDA.
Christopher Leonard - The Meat Racket (Part 2): The Meat Racket author Christopher Leonard reports on the "chickenization" of poultry and meat producers' farm and ranching operations.
Christopher's business journalism in the Midwest took him to small towns where he saw poultry and hog farms and beef feedlots going out of business. He was witnessing emergence of what he calls "broken markets" and an almost feudal relationship between growers and owners of big meat companies. Listen to him describe the real facts behind the graying of rural America, as well as the couple years when he thought things might change, what happened instead, where his hopes for the future lie, and the risk that increasing proportions of supermarket meat will be imported.
Christopher Leonard - The Meat Racket (Part 1)
Rodrigo Marciacq has been a successful pioneer of hydroponics in Panama for the last 15 years of his 50 years of farming.
What's For Dinner visited Rodrigo's greenhouses north of Boquete, where he raises 3/4 of an acre of hydroponic lettuces, grossing the equivalent of $250,000 per acre. After attending Texas A & M for a degree in agronomy, he worked for Chase Bank in Panama, grew coffee, and then onions, finally achieving a yield four times the average US commercial harvests, and without pesticide and herbicide use. With the kind of holistic view of farming you'd hear from a speaker at a U.S. organic farming conference, Rodrigo mentors other farmers as well as maintaining his own successful business.
While they have U.S. Midwestern farming roots and an auto parts business in the Shenandoah Valley, Ron and Kim Miller grow organic vegetables, fruit and chickens in Panama.
The Millers now sell at 2 farmers' markets on the Pacific side of Panama's central mountain range. In 2003 they began seeking property and making contacts in Panama. Their dream was to create a sustainable organic operation that could model and share techniques they're developing there for organic production of a broad range of fruits and vegetables. With a fulltime staff of 14 and practices based on the scientific and traditional knowledge of Panamanian farmers helping them, the Millers work very hard, enjoy it, and are in sight of their dream.
This is the first of 3 shows featuring successful farmers in Panama talking about their work and the philosophy behind it. Price Peterson is the man behind the specialty coffee from Hacienda La Esmeralda famous for commanding $350/pound.
Price Peterson had a doctorate in neurochemistry and taught at U of PA before taking over a family coffee farm in the northern Panama highlands in 1973. He and his wife moved [here] and learned the business of raising coffee and cattle before the region became popular and the now famous Geisha coffee bean got its current reputation. Hear how his perspective raising a popular specialty crop in Panama straddles liberal and mainstream US views about agriculture.
Professor Steve Swallow describes economics research helping field birds and farmers.
This professor of resource economics in Connecticut and Vermont and his students work on the problem of getting people to pay for their share of public goods. E.g. farmers need to cut their hay at exactly the time Bobolinks' very new young will die if the nests lose cover. The project brings together consumers who want to protect birds and preserve farmers' livelihoods and farmers who leave certain fields for the birds in return for payment covering their costs for participating.
Heather Putnam partners with small Costa Rican coffee farmers to save their livelihoods from destruction by La Roya, the coffee rust threatening the world's specialty coffee supply.
Large coffee plantations use chemical controls against coffee rust. But they're expensive for small farmers nearly wiped out by recent years' low coffee prices. And these external inputs threaten ecological relationships among plants they raise for food and local markets. Heather co-directs a network of researchers and farmers, the Community Agroecology Network, working to help rural communities in Mexico and Central America develop self-sufficiency and sustainable farming practices. CAN offers tools and training to use non-chemical alternatives to address coffee rust, and Heather describes farmers' decision process to adopt them.
The 2014 Farm Bill is signed at last! To Kathy Ozer and Ben Burkett (National Family Farm Coalition) what it lays out for the next 5 years "could have been better but could have been worse."
Important programs for family farmers and members of southern farmer cooperatives survived but with decreased allocations. (E.g. Value-Added Producer Grants; Outreach & Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers; Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development). SNAP cuts were lower than expected. But it's business almost as usual for commodities: direct payments to farmers were replaced with income support based on commodity prices and income. Crop insurance was expanded. Kathy and Ben deplore missed opportunities to restructure the system to pay farmers fairly for their work.
Steve Gliessman is one of the people who literally coined the term "agroecology."
With a PhD in ecology, Steve did several years of subsistence farming in the 1960s in Central America and then taught agronomists in Mexico, near where new Green Revolution practices focused only on yields and discounted the value of any local knowledge. But in his collaboration with farmers, he realized that their "traditional knowledge" got high joint yields - from intercropping and relying on symbiotic relationships among plants and soil organisms. Since then Steve has taught US students at UC Santa Cruz, helped build the Community Agroecology Network, and helped lead 14 "Agroecology Short Courses" where WFD spoke to him in July, 2013.
Fields of Farmers, Joel Salatin's 8th book, addresses both prospective interns and older farmers he hopes will follow his lead, learning how to make these enriching and complex partnerships benefit both sides.
Joel is a third generation, alternative, full-time farmer in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Passionate about the urgency of the farm succession crisis and well-trained interns as the solution, Joel has refined his methods and materials for training interns over many years. 3 generations of Salatins run Polyface Farm, raising salad-bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey and forestry products and serving "more than 5,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs, using relationship marketing."
Today on What's for Dinner: Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director for Organic Consumers' Association and a lawyer, describes prospects for Grocery Manufacturers of America legislation pre-empting state labeling of GMOs in food.
Did you know US sweet corn is genetically modified? It's because once the GM traits were approved for field corn, they could be applied without returning to the FDA for additional approval. This conversation is an update about GMOs in the US food supply. Baden-Mayer, who has been arrested for trying to deliver petitions for GMO labeling to Michelle Obama, tells how big food influence will result in a watered-down, compromise FDA proposal unless citizens demand pro-labeling stands from their representatives that match voters' preferences to know what's in their food.
On a food sovereignty tour you see how small farmers are responding in places where their livelihoods are threatened or lost due to globalized, concentrated industrial agriculture.
Katie Brimm manages Food First's tours to Bolivia, Italy, Korea, Cuba and Spain's Basque country; she describes her work and her own experience on a tour to Bolivia. The food sovereignty movement believes those who grow food and eat have the right to decide how it will be grown. Staying, meeting and sharing meals with small farmers in this movement offers not so many answers about what should happen as a lens on complex forces that both endanger traditional ways of life and sometimes present new opportunities to renew them.
Senator Elizabeth Warren opposes Fast Track because forcing a Congressional vote on the complex Transpacific Partnership without adequate time for open hearings, review, and public scrutiny sets a dangerous precedent.
Tonight we speak to Elizabeth Warren, MoveOn Regional Organizer in North San Diego County and National TPP Team Coordinator for a broad coalition of groups which build on the analytical and resistance work of Public Citizen's Global Tradewatch and Popular Resistance/Flush the TPP. On the Hill the coalition obtained 200 members' signatures on letters opposing the TPP. It holds trainings and meetings in legislators' home districts and challenges biased media coverage. Elizabeth gives a powerful account of how efficient the mid-layer between national groups and local action can be.
Niaz Dory, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, and Jaydee Hanson, Center for Food Safety, on 2013's best and worst developments.
Niaz describes pushback against NAMA's work to restore and enhance fisheries and the marine life that sustains them. She illustrates collaborative strategies used to enlarge the movement's base and enable diverse communities to eat local fish and participate in marine conservation. Jaydee leads CFS's emerging technologies work (synthetic biology, nanotech, and GM animals). He weighs US and international concern with GM food safety and labeling against agricultural biotechnology's disappointing results. Jaydee directed The United Methodist Church's legislative program and genetics and bioethics work for 23 years, and he comments on the renewed attention Pope Francis brings to world hunger.
Edith Maxwell, former certified organic farmer, author in the genre of cozy mystery, on her work as farmer and writer.
Hear how Edith wrote a mystery about a CSA, A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die, and note resemblances between her work as author and other hard creative work. What's growing is always on her mind. Mornings she writes and edits, afternoons she blogs, meets and builds a community (of readers). She solves production problems by mulling them over while doing other tasks. Edith presently writes two mystery series with a third is in the planning stage - all within the cozy mystery framework (seamy and bloody parts don't happen "on the page").
Tim Wise, just back from 9th Ministerial meeting of WTO, on what makes multilateral trade talks important right now.
The 158 WTO members surprised the world by reaching a trade agreement this year. Tim, Director of the Research and Policy Program at Tufts University's Global Development and Environment Institute, attended the Bali WTO meeting. He also attended WTO in Cancun in 2003, where developing countries also held out against developed countries, and a Korean farmer shouted that the WTO kills farmers and stabbed himself to death. Tim closely follows free trade consequences in Mexico and Latin America, and we discuss ways the past and possible future trajectory of the WTO meetings offer reason for hope.
Karen Hansen-Kuhn discusses TAFTA, proposed EU-US "NAFTA-type" trade agreement.
Karen describes December's simultaneous international trade talks - including World Trade Organization negotiations and meetings on both proposed Transpacific Partnership and US-European Union free trade agreements. Stakes are high. US legislators haven't seen drafts of TPP and TAFTA. Secret horse-trading means negotiators trade off laws and regulations on everything from patents to food safety. Agreements establish permanent rules. Negotiators try to carry their wins from one to another set of negotiations. Describing how trade issues cut close to home, Karen notes how US corporations' attack on European GM labeling could hurt US consumers and looser agricultural imports could allow EU suppliers to undercut US "buy local" programs.
In the US, endangered plant conservation is carried out by a network of 39 leading botanical institutions through the Center for Plant Conservation, and its Executive Director botanist Kathryn Kennedy has brought 750 of America's most imperiled native plants into its care since 2000.
Off-site, hands-on conservation involves collecting live plant material from nature; maintaining it as seed, rooted cuttings or mature plants; and conducting horticultural research to grow and return many plants to their natural habitats. Kathryn operates as scientist, program developer and manager coordinating this work, acutely aware that 80 percent of the at-risk plants of the United States are closely related to plants with economic value somewhere in the world, and more than 50 percent are related to crop species.
Nelson Carrasquillo and Elizabeth Henderson spoke with us after their workshop on "Farm Worker Movements Past and Present" at a summer organic farming conference.
Nelson is General Coordinator of Comite De Apoyo A Los Trabajadores Agricolas, the Farm Workers' Support Committee. Elizabeth represents Northeast Organic Farming Association to the Agricultural Justice Project. They draw parallels between farm workers' and part time service workers' wages under present policy approaches. Under proposed immigration reform, undocumented farm workers will face much greater pressure - required to make 125% of poverty level wages for up to 20 years to get permanent work permits. The conversation explores key ways consumers, farmers, farm workers and citizens share common interests.
Diana Robinson describes the Food Chain Workers Alliance and its Thanksgiving 2013 actions.
Nearly 20 million men and women in the US grow, harvest, produce and serve food at every stage from field to table. Yet farm workers aren't covered by US labor relations laws; law enforcement to protect immigrants and undocumented workers is poor; and the majority of food chain workers lack benefits, earn poverty wages, and have difficulty unionizing. Diana shows how the US food system, developed on slave labor, still exploits its workers, the majority of whom are members of minorities. Projects she describes are a fine example of what a diverse coalition membership committed to social and economic justice can accomplish.
The first new food safety legislation in 70 years, FSMA, the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed in 2011, after 3 high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks in 2006 and 2007.
Now FDA has prepared regs to implement it, with comments due November 15th. Aimed at preventing micro bacterial pathogens in produce (not at safety issues related to meat, poultry, eggs, pesticides or antibiotic resistance), FSMA is meeting wide resistance. Hear webinar accounts of rule details, Kathy Ozer of the National Family Farm Coalition, and Jack Kittredge of NOFA. They describes a one-size-fits all approach that makes key organic farming practices illegal, omits due process, and may renege on the Tester-Hagan amendment exempting smaller producers from requirements likely to bankrupt them.
Food + Justice + Democracy - Fall IATP Conference models food justice work.
Food activists say effective collaboration among current food system insiders and outsiders is the toughest, most crucial challenge to overcome to create a system that's fair for all. The show offers conversations from the Sept 2012 Minneapolis Food + Justice = Democracy conference organized by La Donna Redmond and Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Speakers describe doing unusual self-reflection and believe it was different from any other US food system meeting - starting with the way plenaries all concerned the experience of people of color. The show conveys the careful planning involved and how attendees felt what they experienced here may offer leverage for that core, very hard work.
Pati Mortensen and Terrie Bad Hand are co-directors of the Taos County Economic Development Center, host of the 2013 Gathering of GFJI.
Holding a GFJI meeting to celebrate and share the approach and work of the TCEDC (Taos County Economic Development Center) has been a long-standing dream of its two co-directors and Will and Erika Allen and their organizations (Growing Food with Justice for all Initiative is the food justice organizing arm of Growing Power). The gathering brought together people of all colors and ages with very different spiritual values and manners of doing business, and they discussed water rights, genetically modified seeds, and organizing in powerfully urgent and specific ways. Terrie and Pati describe how TCEDC's mission and programs over its nearly 30 years have embodied Food Justice principles.
Eileen Sche is the co-author of Rural Literacies - Studies in Writing and Rhetoric (2007) and Reclaiming the Rural: Essays on Literacy, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy (2011).
Eileen teaches writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University. She and her co-authors grew up on farms --- Eileen on a Washington State apple farm – and have stakes in examining portrayals which further corporate or political agendas. She explains how they distort the complex circumstances faced by American farmers and draw attention away from agricultural policies that caused families to lose their farms. We discuss several “narratives” about farmers, including Jefferson’s idea of farmers as chosen people of God and 20thh century accounts of the “tragedy” of farm losses and farmers as victims.
Shirley Sherrod has worked for change for black Americans in southwest Georgia in the face of extreme racism - and for opportunities for black farmers, because agriculture is the life of rural communities.
This is a US story chosen to highlight the Food Sovereignty Prize ceremony. A black farmers' daughter in the 1950's, Sherrod wanted to escape rural life, but her father's murder in 1965 redirected her to civil rights activism and then co-founding New Communities, a 6000 acre land trust modeled on a kibbutz, on which black Americans could farm and live. She describes working with the conditions black farmers faced - during those years, at the USDA, and now fostering opportunities for women farmers and creating the new site for New Communities.
A-dae Romero, Cochiti Pueblo/Kiowa, and Paul Nicholson, Basque farmer, share food sovereignty experience rarely recounted in the US.
A-dae works as a lawyer to undergird traditional Pueblo farming's role in sustaining community. She highlights food sovereignty's importance for Native American farmers in light of reservations' extreme food insecurity and describes implications of FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act). If applied to tribal food enterprises, it would break constitutional and treaty protections of tribal sovereignty and cripple farming done for economic development. Her words and Paul Nicholson's account of the relevance of food sovereignty in the western European country of Spain frame discussion of this year's awarding of the Food Sovereignty Prize and its opposite, the World Food Prize.
Martin Dagoberto, Chris Stockman, and Kalia Lydgate campaign for transparency about GMOs in the US food supply at Lobby Day for GM Labeling in MA.
MA Right to Know GMOs' event was standing room only. Scientist and activist, Marty touches on key reasons labeling is both important and contentious and describes "trigger clauses" authorizing labeling in ME and CT, contingent on similar laws passing in other northeastern states. Also hear Kalia Lydgate effectively wrap up the public session and Chris Stockman illustrate the deep roots in practice that make this movement powerful. She and partner/campaign co-founder Ed Stockman began the learning that culminated in this campaign in 2000 at BIO protests in Boston.
Farm Aid 2013 held its 28th concert on Willie Nelson's 80th birthday - with Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson and many more.
Farm Aid is the longest running benefit concert series in America, raising more than $43 million to help family farmers thrive while inspiring millions of people to learn about the Good Food movement. This year more than 26,000 people attended the concert at Saratoga Springs, NY. The show describes some of the good eats available and what farm support groups did. It shares parts of headline musicians' performances, the press conference, and Homegrown Village Stage conversation between Jim Hightower and Charlene Carter.
Max Spoor chairs the Department of Agrarian and Environmental Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague (part of Erasmus University Rotterdam).
Max specializes in economies in transition. He describes the motivations of consumers and the predicament of small food producers who together make up the massive food sovereignty movement around the globe. He sees national and international policy initiatives pushing small food producers into global supply chains, resulting in a tenuous hold on their livelihoods, since the great majority cannot now cover costs of production for their principal crops. Max has recently been involved in institutional capacity-building projects in China, Kazakhstan and Vietnam and consultancy missions in nearly a dozen developing countries.
Teresa Mares is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at University of Vermont and affiliate of its Transdisciplinary Research Initiative in Food Systems.
We discuss why citizens engage in tough and complex food justice issues like the fight against corporate promotion of GMOs in Africa and the severe conditions migrant workers experience due to immigration enforcement in New England. The interview draws on Teresa's experience during her Ph.D. studies working with Community Alliance for Global Justice in Seattle and her current development of a new project on food access and food security among Vermont Latino & dairy workers. Teresa's work focuses on food and migration studies and changes in diets and foodways as a result of migration.
Lori Hylton is a Presbyterian Hunger Fellow in the New York Hudson River Presbytery and Jed Koball is Presbyterian mission co-worker in Lima, Peru.
As participants in Joining Hands Against Hunger Peru (JHAH-PERU), an ecumenical and democratic network of organizations and churches throughout Peru, Lori and Jed are organizing to halt Fast Track and the multilateral proposed TPP after seeing investor state protections in the bilateral Peru USA Free Trade agreement invoked against Peru. JHAH-PERU documented poisoning of children in the 35,000 person town of la Oroya by a multi-metal smelter run by the Renco Group. It reneged on an agreement to reduce environmental levels of lead, cadmium and arsenic levels and is suing the state of Peru for $800 million of alleged lost profits.
Jennifer Clapp is Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security and Sustainability at University of Waterloo, Canada.
She explains why food leaders wrote How We Count Hunger Matters in response to the UN's FAO's State of Food Insecurity 2012. It underrepresented world hunger, and the trend line implied progress toward meeting the Millennium Development goal of reducing hunger by 2015. Jennifer describes the preferred alternative for counting hunger - including everyone affected by life conditions as they are really lived under current conditions of global change. The interview demonstrates the way defining the goal and the problem shape what you count, and the way these leaders confronted the prevailing aid and development paradigms.
David Gumpert and Ben Grosscup preview Northeast Organic Farming Association's 2013 summer conference, introducing the raw milk workshop and defining this premier meeting's goals.
Much happens in 3 days. Farmers, gardeners, teachers, activists, lawyers, young and old, families and public officials share information about farming as a livelihood and about raising, marketing and using food and forage. They bring experience and strategies for civic engagement to preserve seeds, markets and democratic principles. David came to raw milk research and writing from the business press and has just published Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights: The Escalating Battle Over Who Decides What We Eat. Ben is NOFA's Education Events and Summer Conference Coordinator who comes from student activism.
Ed Fredrickson uses a toolkit from 20 years research with USDA's Agricultural Research Service to help Kentucky farmers develop uses of beef and other livestock to improve Kentucky family farms' profitability and sustainability.
Expert in desert ecology and nutrition/behavior of range livestock, Ed researched desert-adapted cattle in North Africa for a breed suited to hotter weather and desertified, fragile ecosystems. He then collaborated with a researcher from the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua to focus on the Criollo, cattle raised by Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyon region of Chihuahua, Mexico to provide milk, meat and draft in Mexico. Their bodies seem to partition energy in ways more suited to arid areas, and they distribute their impact more evenly across landscapes because they graze more widely in rougher country.
Amber Heckelman is documenting climate resilience of rice varieties developed by Philippine rice farmers and scientists to reverse negative results of Green Revolution practices.
After Green Revolution seeds, fertilizers and pesticides left Philippine subsistence rice farmers a narrower, inadequate resource base to survive, farmers learned to re-hybridize, test and plant native rice varieties. They re-attained food security, and the collaboration grew to include 563 member organizations, 38 NGO and 15 scientist partners. Their rice varieties display superior drought, salt and pest-resistance. Amber is documenting these results as PhD work in environmental studies in collaboration with MASIPAG, which means "industrious" in Tagalog - Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development.
Ernesto Mendez is a University of Vermont professor whose specialty is Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods.
Imagine undergraduates, faculty and graduate students, Vermont farmers, researchers, Latin American coffee growers, and agricultural extension agents all collaborating in a loose network of work and study. They learn how ecosystems where food is grown can produce food without compromising water, air and soil quality. Imagine this happening in classrooms and on farms where they apply on-the-ground farming knowledge plus environmental studies, soil science, anthropology, sociology, ecology, ecological economics, gender and food systems studies. Their mutual work produces results to help farmers adapt to climate change and to make the food system more sustainable. Ernesto describes a real network like this, which is as productive, challenging and exciting as it sounds.
Donnie Nelson is a rancher/farmer experiencing the monumental fracking of the Bakken shale in northwest North Dakota.
His family "has had oil and gas development on our place since exploration and drilling began in North Dakota during the 1950's", but never like this. Fracking is sickening animals. Dust from thousands of truck trips cover crops and landscape. The way of life has disappeared. Nelson chairs the Western Organization of Resource Councils' Oil and Gas Campaign Team. The ranch is 70 miles from Williston, the oil boom town where McDonald's workers get $300 to sign on and Halliburton is using a massive mobile housing complex from the Canada Winter Olympics.
Mark Kastel is the Executive Director of Cornucopia Institute, the watch dog of "big organics."
Organic food is the fastest growing segment of the food industry - but the biggest players are not the sustainable kind that raise food without a lot of off farm inputs. Big conventional food companies have acquired more than 60 formerly independent organic companies and dominate the operations of OTA, the trade association of organic companies. Mark talks about the acquisitions by corporations like Kraft and General Mills, the companies that are still independently owned, and what makes 9000 cow organic dairy farms an oxymoron.
Peter Michaelson & Paul Sobocinski on the Beef and Pork Checkoffs
Cattlemen first put money into a checkoff for product promotion in the 1920's, but since the mid '80s, the checkoffs have been required and also the subject of much dispute with large producers on one side and smaller, family scale producers on the other. In 2011 a rancher and a hog farmer long in the business talked about checkoffs, these industry-funded, generic research and marketing programs meant to increase demand for an industry's agricultural commodity.
Michele Simon (Best Public Relations Money can Buy)
This week's guest is Michelle Simon, a public health lawyer and author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back (2006). We discuss her "Best Public Relations Money can Buy" report, about the food industry's use of front groups to discredit health arguments as a way to avoid involving their brands in doing dirty work. She gives examples of these campaigns - e.g.fruits and stilettos in vodka ads - and she says citizens overestimate the legal constraints on rebutting false claims. Simon's 2007 report on alcoholic energy drinks led to federal action to ban the products, and her "Food Stamps, Follow the Money" report on food stamps brought attention to industry lobbying.
Pat Roy Mooney (Kickstarter and the Glowing Plant)
Pat Roy Mooney is tonight's guest. His organization, the ETC Group, is waging the 'KickStopper' campaign against Kickstarter's campaign to fund the glowing plant developed by biohackers using synthetic biology. Mooney explains why release of packets of the plant's seeds through the mail is an irresponsible plan. Ahead of the curve for 40 years in fighting to preserve genetic diversity and keep control of the food supply in public hands, Mooney received the alternative prize to the Nobel Prize. He and colleagues target corporate capture and unaccountable use of technological capabilities - nanotechnology, synthetic biology - through intellectual property rights and patenting.
Lorette Picciano is tonight's guest. The 2012 Farm Bill is still being debated in late spring 2013, the 7th time Lorette helped craft the Farm Bill, which is debated every 4 years and covers everything from subsidies to food stamps (SNAP) and organics to programs for veterans. Executive Director of the Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, Lorette works with 70 plus culturally diverse, community-based organizations that represent both farmworkers and small producers from the US and Mexico. They secure civil and human rights in the agriculture and trade sectors - including the lawsuits to gain equity for all farmers and farmworkers from the US Department of Agriculture.
Dave Murphy is our guest tonight. For him and colleagues at Food Democracy Now, the year 2013 began with Monsanto - a rider protecting it from lawsuits that was attached to the Continuing Resolution to fund government operations. Tonight we go deeper into what's important about current protests against Monsanto. They are not merely against the GM organisms, but against the way the company is able to control what goes into the food by coopting democratic processes for decision making about food and agriculture. Dave describes the exciting breadth of tactics and worldwide scope of anti-Monsanto protests in late spring 2013.
Peter Carstensen is tonight's guest. Earlier this year, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association lost its lawsuit against Monsanto. Lawyer and law school professor Carstensen talks about the next case people hoped would protect farmers from Monsanto in the courts - Bowman v. Monsanto. Carstensen describes the Supreme Court's finding in a patent infringement against Mr. Bowman, the Indiana farmer who purchased and planted soybeans, not from Monsanto, but from a grain elevator. You hear about the finding and its ramifications, the opportunity it gives Congress to act, and how the court appears to have stepped carefully in terms of future cases.
Kristi Bahrenberg Janzen
Kristi Bahrenberg Janzen is tonight's guest. She is a journalist who married into a Mennonite family that faces the need, faced by many farm families today, to execute a "farm transition" as the generation now farming looks at retirement. Her husband's family own valuable farm buildings, livestock and land in Kansas. Hoping a relative will eventually come forward to farm it, they have already worked for a decade planning for the farm to flourish financially and stay in family hands until then. Karen describes how the family shaped their participative process, and we speculate about whether Mennonite values have facilitated this.
Karen Hansen-Kuhn is tonight's guest. 20 years work on trade and trade policy make her feel it's urgent for the public to learn about and address huge deficiencies in the TransPacific Partnership (now in a late stage of secret negotiations). One instance - it would allow industrial agriculture to undermine sustainable alternatives, since the agreement will prevent types of investment required to make alternatives work. Now at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Karen describes the extraordinary, alarming scope of the agreement, and she explains the secrecy surrounding this proposed agreement - past trade negotiations carried out in public failed because the public knew and protested what was coming down!
Trade issues are Arthur Stamboulis' passion. We discuss what makes trade a major and under-appreciated issue, and we examine the ongoing trade negotiations among countries that border the Pacific Ocean (except China). The TransPacific Partnership (the TPP) will have major implications for the United States and the whole world, since it goes farther than the WTO or NAFTA in curbing national sovereignty, and it will be the model for subsequent agreements.
Arthur directs the Citizen's Trade Campaign and approaches trade believing that international trade and investment are not ends unto themselves, but a means for achieving societal goals like economic justice, human rights, healthy communities, and a sound environment. The national coalition he represents includes a broad range of bedfellows - environmental, labor, consumer, family farm, religious, and others - with 12 million combined members from 20 national organizations and 12 state affiliate coalitions.
Adrienne Alstadt, Ellery Kimball, and Jennifer Hashley are greater Boston area farmers (organic produce and livestock) who host teen volunteers - partly to get real work done and partly because adults in the young peoples' lives want them to be there. Father Edgar Guttierez-Duarte, priest of St Luke-San Lucas Episcopal Church, Chelsea, MA, also needs to rely on volunteers as he administers its food pantry and weekly Saturday breakfast. These four also welcome volunteers because they, too, hope the experience will enrich the young people - as individuals, as consumers and eaters, and as human beings in a world where there will probably always be vulnerable people. Teens who do service learning really respond when they meet adults who convey passion about their work - Rita Stevens, age 17, describes how it makes her feel - and these adults do.
Nathan Holmes helped found and manages a growers' coop among mostly Amish farmers in Pennsylvania. It's a community of family farms using practices that protect the soil and watershed. The coop lets them farm and not worry about distribution. They can satisfy markets by offering a diversity of crops - and at the same time seek to maintain "a natural agrarian family life and facilitate direct personal experiences of connection between customer, farmer, and land". It sounds like many peoples' dream if they were to farm, but it's a story of regular people who found each other and kept taking the next step. It seems to reflect what's possible today.
Maurice Small is a renegade urban gardener and farmer who works to make urban farming an agent of renewal in Rust Belt cities (and now also in Raleigh, NC). He works in neighborhoods and with municipal officials to use urban gardens to do the same things environmental justice activists used to figure EJ should do - address the different pieces of the whole of community well-being - education, jobs, housing, youth empowerment, health... This is the 2nd half of the interview, and he and Susan compare notes about ways gardening works to inspire people and change things for the better.
Dave Murphy is "the big dude from Iowa", a former Dartmouth football lineman, and Food Democracy Now's founder - with 3 others. It helped make Kathleen Merrigan the Assistant Secretary of USDA, and is working to defeat big biotech's newest initiative. Dubbed the "Monsanto Protection Act," this rider to the Continuing Resolution would end courts' ability to halt sale and planting of unapproved GMO crops that are waiting for judge-mandated reviews to be complete. Hear about the changes in Iowa that got him active and about their 37 state GMO labeling campaign.
Maurice Small is applying as an adult what he learned from his father in Cleveland public housing as a boy - to use available land to feed his family. His work building gardens and teaching people to garden in poor neighborhoods has led to a cascade of results of neighborhood empowerment and re-engagement in several cities - as well as a deepening and broadening of city policies related to food and sustainability. He talks about the kind of plant knowledge that suits urban gardening to meet the multiple needs of poor communities - and describes with delight working with, through and around systems.
Greg Bowman directs a faith-based non-profit working in Youngstown, the Ohio city worst hit by the industrial Midwest's economic slump. Goodness Grows uses agricultural leadership and training to "grow families out of poverty and hunger" and make livelihoods and communities more sustainable. Greg served fifteen years with the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, developed two farms for Mennonite churches, and has researched and written extensively about sustainable and organic farming. His Steel in the Field: a farmer's guide to weed management tools is fascinating reading for profiles of techniques and farmers.
Father Edgar Guittierez-Duarte: Father Edgar Guttierez-Duarte is a native of Colombia, and an activist psychotherapist who followed a lifelong dream of becoming a priest. Now a bilingual, bicultural Episcopal priest, he serves a predominantly Hispanic congregation at St Luke-San Lucas in Chelsea, MA. He talks about growing the food pantry from filing cabinet-size to one that serves two Saturday meals and works with 500 families a month. Anti-hunger programs help frame the church's community relationships, and they reach different hungry people than those coming to the pantry before the 2008 recession.
Peter Carstensen: Peter Carstensen is a lawyer and professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin who teaches, testifies and writes about antitrust and competition. He co-authored an amicus brief for the Bowman v. Monsanto case heard on 2/19/13, and served as a panelist at the DOJ/USDA Madison, WI, Dairy hearing. Peter describes in concrete terms why concentration of buying power in the hands of only a few large coops or processors distorts prices and means growers (ranchers or dairy farmers) receive low prices. He also discusses the dairy settlements against Dean Foods and Dairy Farmers of America.
Boyce Thorne Miller and Jaydee Hanson: Boyce Thorne Miller, a Marine biologist, is science and policy coordinator at the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). She discusses AquaBounty's GM salmon, its pending approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, and the FDA's comment period. Doubting if facilities can prevent escapes, she is concerned about the detrimental effects on wild salmon populations. Anticipating low priced GM fish, she also expects the market for locally caught fish to be severely weakened. Boyce has carried out public oversight of scientific review processes for several federal agencies and has consulted for national and international NGOs on coastal environmental issues and biological diversity in marine environments.
Andy Fisher: Andy Fisher has a long history of research and writing about urban food security and building coalitions to bridge the anti hunger and local/sustainable agriculture movements. He co-founded and served as Executive Director of the Community Food Security Coalition. Andy describes living on a Food Stamp budget during his week-long participation in the SNAP challenge. And he talks about the achievements and "growing edges" of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) as a largely successful income assistance program. Andy is working on a book exploring agriculture book exploring corporate agriculture participation in the funding and governance of anti-hunger and anti-obesity organizations.
Emily Wheeler: Emily Wheeler is a Climate Action Committee and Food Policy Council member in Concord, MA. She describes how this historic New England town did a food systems assessment working with graduate students from the Conway School, a program in sustainable landscape planning. Key here are the town's undeveloped land and many farms and the students' use of novel and concrete ways to demonstrate how citizens could participate in more complete and extensive food production.
David Jacke: David Jacke is a visionary leader in ecological design and award winning author on permaculture. Hear how permaculture goes way beyond just food production to redesigning our whole culture to mimic the principles, patterns, structures and functions of natural ecosystems, including "the whole kit and caboodle" - our social relationships, our economy, our resource use, and our inner landscapes.
Jim Gerritsen: Jim Gerritsen is president of the Organic Seed Growers Association (OSGATA). He was heading to Washington, DC, to demonstrate and attend a hearing in the lawsuit brought by 100's of farmers and OSGATA'S members to prevent Monsanto from bringing lawsuits against farmers over "patent infringement" after Monsanto seeds naturally spread to nearby farms. Jim discusses "the right to farm without the threat of harassment by the world's largest biotech seed company" in terms of farmers' and consumers' rights as citizens in a democracy. Jim Gerritsen is the Maine potato farmer we interviewed in January of 2012.
Bill Ayres (Why Hunger)
Sharon Thornberry, Oregon Food Bank
Last Minute Agriculture Riders in Washington and Putting Wright-Locke Farm to Bed
Hank Herera, Dig Deep Farms and Produce
(FULL INTERVIEW)Joe Holtz, Park Slope Food Co-op
Thanksgiving Old Time Food - Pickles
Jan Poppendieck (1930s Pigs and Wheat History)
Food Sovereignty Award Ceremony
JeomOk Park Korean Women Peasant Assoc.
Gretchen Maine (Dairy Farmer from New York)
Brother David Andrews (Farmer Voices get to the Table)
Michael Skillcorn and Dean's Beans
Setting the Table, Youth Food & Ag Service Learning
Olga Martha Montiel, Missouri Botanical Garden
Hank Keogh (Oregon Canola Ruling
Steve Suppan (IATP Nanotechnology in food)
St. Louis Universitey Dietetics Department - Going to Town
Rio Plus 20 Sustainability Conference (Part 2)
Rio Plus 20 Sustainability Conference (Part 1)
Sarah Schenck (Parent Earth)
With guest John Donohue
Local Grain, Malt, and Beer
With guest Ellen Manes (Meunier Community Cooks)
Susan Youmans has a different guest each week with a role in the huge global to local network of food production and distribution. You hear voices of farmers and entrepreneurs; organizers, chefs, and fishermen; policy makers and businessmen. They get across how the high and changing stakes there are in a world where severe draughts in Asia affect food prices in the US and new forms of financial speculation create continuing threats of food crises.
Susan is in her 15th year of working with people on farms and in food-related businesses. She ran an organic raspberry u-pick and a non profit organization whose partner was a Dorchester, MA, church with a city lot-sized garden. Before that she was a management consultant, attended business school and seminary, and grew up in Ohio as a granddaughter of generations of farmers.
Susan is always curious to know why something's happening and who it will affect. She likes getting behind mainstream media stories about big agriculture, local food, and food regulation. She loves tying together the facts and the specific details - what a rancher still has to do in winter on the range, what's on a young farmer's mind, and what gives peasants in a southern hemisphere country hope to keep organizing.
What's For Dinner? is about the people involved in getting food to U.S. dinner tables. Their stories reveal the workings of economic power, political influence and the hard work of individuals who want to make a difference.
The show has an edge because today everyone has an issue with what they or other people are eating - where it comes from, what's in it, who's profiting from it.
Food and agriculture matter when people want to know how to keep healthy and who's doing what to their food. Susan thinks they also want to know how the world's farms come into play in international negotiations, if US school food will raise up a generation of students who can be good soldiers, if people are hungrier because of US agriculture policy.
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