The state has paved the way for Costco's experiment in extreme vertical integration for years. But farmers and activists brought together in opposition envision another way forward. Read more on Civil Eats.
Jimmy Emmons isn’t the kind of farmer you might expect to talk for over an hour about rebuilding an ecosystem. And yet, on a recent Wednesday in January, before a group of around 800 farmers, that’s exactly what he did.
After walking onstage at the Hyatt in Wichita, Kansas to upbeat country music and stage lights reminiscent of a Garth Brooks concert, Emmons declared himself a recovering tillage addict. Then he got down to business detailing the way he and his wife Ginger have re-built the soil on their 2,000-acre, third-generation Oklahoma farm. Read more on Civil Eats.
To the untrained eye, Jeremy Gustafson’s 1,600-acre farm looks like all the others spread out across Iowa. Gazing at his conventional corn and soybean fields during a visit in June, I was hard-pressed to say where his neighbor’s tightly planted row crops ended and Gustafson’s began.
But what distinguished this vast farm in Boone, Iowa, was a thin, 16-acre strip of oats Gustafson had planted in a loop around the barn. At the time, the chest-high oats were at the “milk stage.” When Gustafson squeezed the grains embedded in the feathery grass between his thumb and forefinger, they released a tiny dollop of white liquid, a sign that they would be ready to harvest in about a month. Read more on Yale Environment 360
It has been a rough few weeks for Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest poultry producer.
On Sept. 5, the company announced that it was planning to build a $320 million poultry complex outside of Tonganoxie, Kansas — a relatively well-appointed bedroom community in Kansas City with a population of 5,300. The plant was designed to be a first-of-its-kind, fully integrated operation that would have included everything from a hatchery to slaughter and processing.
Read more on BillMoyers.com
Lawsuit Challenges the Future of Small-Scale Livestock Production at Point Reyes National Seashore
If you follow Sir Francis Drake Boulevard down the Point Reyes Peninsula toward the lighthouse, beyond the now-vacated Drakes Estero, you might find yourself at Historic Ranch B, also known as Double M Dairy. Here, Jarrod Mendoza raises dairy cows on land his family has ranched for generations.
Despite its sweeping views and windswept vistas, the 1,200-acre ranch isn’t large by today’s standards. The certified organic milk from the 250 cows Mendoza manages usually only fills half of the refrigerated storage tank that is kept in a low-ceilinged room beside the milking parlor. When Jarrod’s father, Joey, ran the ranch using conventional methods, he grazed 500 cows at a time, and the tank was always full. Now, Mendoza sells his organic milk to Straus Family Creamery. The move to higher-priced organic has allowed him to produce less and give each animal access to more pasture during the winter and spring when seasonal rains bring the grass on his land to life. Read more.
On a windy afternoon in Marin County, California, rancher Guido Frosini reached down into a clump of weeds, pulling back the dry stalks to reveal a sapling so small some might not recognize it as a tree. But Frosini’s voice swelled with pride when he saw the cork oak, still covered in leaves that looked strikingly green against the drought-bleached backdrop of rolling, golden hills. Read more.
Navina Khanna thinks big. Two years ago, Khanna and Anim Steel, executive director of the national, campus-based group Real Food Challenge, sent a memo to around 20 food advocacy organizations to propose that they work together on something with a larger impact.
Khanna and Steel had previously studied successful social justice campaigns — such as Martin Luther King’s Birmingham strategy and the more recent “One Penny More Per Pound” campaign to help tomato harvesters in Florida earn a living wage. With these in mind, they wrote out this mission: create a “long-term campaign to re-align national food and agriculture policies with principles of health, sustainability, and fairness.” Read more on Food & Wine.
When Zoe Wong moved to the San Francisco Bay Area three years ago, she fell in love with the fresh and abundant produce from surrounding farmers’ markets. Wong grew up in Hong Kong, where fruits and vegetables were scarce and imported. After attending college in upstate New York, she moved to California, the largest agricultural state in the country.
Soon, though, Wong discovered something was off. “At the market, I’d see farmers getting ready to throw out boxes and boxes of fruit and vegetables they couldn’t sell,” she says. “I was shocked.” Read more on The Guardian.