Chocolate Barons Devastate National Parks In West Africa

Screenshot 2017-10-23 at 10.41.53 AM

By Davis Harper for Eco Watch – For several years, chocolate barons have devastated forests to make room to plant cocoa, a crop that naturally grows in shade. Now, a report from Mighty Earth—a nonprofit that works to conserve threatened landscapes—shows new evidence that illegal deforestation is occurring in protected areas; specifically, in the national parks of West Africa. The Ivory Coast and Ghana produce a combined 2.6 million tons of chocolate—60 percent of the world’s supply. It’s no wonder so many of these nations’ protected lands are at risk. According to Mighty Earth’s report, 10 percent of Ghana’s tree cover has been replaced by cocoa monocultures. The Ivory Coast, once heavily forested and extremely biodiverse, has lost seven of its 23 protected areas to cocoa. Due to habitat loss, its chimpanzees are now endangered, and its elephants are nearly extinct. This means that companies like Mars, Nestlé, Hersey’s and Godiva are on the hot seat for making products using cocoa grown by uncertified sources. “Chocolate companies have taken advantage of corrupt governance in Ghana and the Ivory Coast to deforest parklands,” saic Glenn Horowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth. With a rising demand for the world’s guiltiest pleasure, chocolate companies are also taking advantage of farmers—on average, these growers are paid less than 80 cents a day.

NAFTA Renegotiation: What's At Stake For Food, Farmers And The Land?

cornPile_j_regan_web

By Staff of IATP – The re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Mexico and Canada begins on August 16, and there is much at stake for farmers and rural communities in all three countries. Despite promised gains for farmers, NAFTA’s benefits over the last 23 years have gone primarily to multinational agribusiness firms. NAFTA is about much more than trade. It set rules on investment, farm exports, food safety, access to seeds, and markets. NAFTA, combined with the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the 1996 Farm Bill, led the charge to greater consolidation among agribusiness firms, the loss of many small and mid-sized farms and independent ranchers, the rapid growth of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and further corporate control of animal production through often unfair, restrictive contracts with producers. The Trump administration’s negotiating objectives reflect relatively small tweaks to NAFTA, while adopting deregulatory elements of the defeated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Family farm groups have called for the existing NAFTA to be scrapped and propose a fundamentally new agreement with a goal of improving the lives of family farmers and rural communities in all three countries.

Community Market Stand Small Part Of Patching Big Hole With 23rd And Jackson Red Apple Closure

Screenshot 2017-10-14 at 12.48.21 PM

By Staff for Capitol Hill Seattle Blog – When the Central District Red Apple closed this month as Vulcan readies plans to redevelop the store’s corner of 23rd and Jackson, residents of the CD lost a community resource and one of the only big grocery markets in the area. Lottie Cross, the director of Clean Greens, a nonprofit market stand and CSA, and 55-year resident of the Central District, came to the rescue. Providing no-pesticide, herbicide-free collard greens, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkins, sweet corn, and many other vegetables, Clean Greens is filling a small part of the big hole left by Red Apple’s closure. “They (Vulcan) came to me,” Cross tells CHS. “Last Saturday was our first day in the new location — we sold way more than usual. At least 50 people stopped by and almost bought us out.” Formerly located at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Saturdays, the Clean Green market stand now pops up across the parking lot from the old Red Apple, near the Walgreens. According to Cross, Vulcan partnered with Clean Greens to provide access to healthy food “for as long as possible.” It’s up to the weather to decide how long the stand is there, but Cross expects to have a presence through December, and maybe after. Cross tells CHS that any leftover vegetables go to Operation Sack Lunch, a nonprofit that provides free vegetarian meals throughout Seattle. Vulcan supplies a tent, and funding for one person to run the market stand, but other than that, it’s a purely volunteer organization.

Organic Farms Could Help Fight Climate Change

Local workers pick organically grown squash and zucchini at the Clear Brook Farm in Vermont. The farm was started in 1995 by Andrew Knafel and cultivates 25 to 30 acres (10 to 12 hectares) of its more than 200-acre (81-hectare) property. ROBERT NICKELSBERG/GETTY IMAGES

By Shaun Chavis for How Stuff Works – Agriculture is one of the more significant contributors to global warming. Nitrogen-based fertilizers and farm animals generate greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. Conventional farming depletes soilof carbon, while planting and managing forests can help offset carbon emissions. But a new study shows that organic farming fights climate change by trapping temperature-raising carbon in soil, keeping it from contributing to the greenhouse effect. Organic farming can also help offset carbon by storing it in soil. The study is published in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal Advances in Agronomy. The research was conducted by scientists at Northeastern University’s National Soil Project, in partnership with The Organic Center. They gathered more than 650 topsoil samples from organic farmers in 39 U.S. states and compared those samples with more than 725 conventional soil samples from the continental U.S. The results showed soil from organic farms is 26 percent better at retaining carbon — and retaining it for longer periods of time — than soil that’s farmed with conventional methods and synthetic fertilizers. Here’s why: The matter that organic farmers use, such as compost, green manure, animal matter and others — as well as the living things in healthy soil, such as microorganisms, earthworms and other components — gives soil humic acids.

New Study Shows Organic Farming Traps Carbon In Soil To Combat Climate Change

170911-organic-farming-soil

By Lela Nargi for Civil Eats – When it comes to mitigating the worst impacts of climate change, keeping excess carbon out of the atmosphere is the prime target for improving the health of our planet. One of the best ways to do that is thought to be locking more of that carbon into the soil that grows our food. The scientific community has been actively debating whether organic farming methods can provide a promising solution. A 2010 paper published in the journal Ambio found that research about increased carbon sequestration due to organic farming methods was inconclusive, while a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found increased carbon sequestration in organic farm soils—though a 2013 letter in the PNAS disputed those findings, arguing that there were no carbon sequestration benefits related to organic farming. A new study from Northeastern University and nonprofit research organization The Organic Center(TOC), though, has reached a different conclusion: Soils from organic farms had 26 percent more potential for long-term carbon storage than soils from conventional farms, along with 13 percent more soil organic matter (SOM). For the study, which Civil Eats got early access to review, chemists Elham Ghabbour and Geoffrey Davies began by analyzing soil samples from over 700 conventional farms in 48 states.

Frackers Nearly Destroyed Me, Join Me In Fighting Back

1maggie

By Maggie Henry for Beyond Extreme Energy. Fracking has destroyed my business and laid to waste everything my husband and I have worked our entire lives to build, our children’s inheritances, keep the farm going yet another generation? All destroyed! In the fall of 2014 I traveled to DC to take part in a week-long nonviolent blockade of FERC. I was one of about 80 people arrested that week, and I’ve continued to be active ever since. BXE has been a lifeline for me. Being associated with like-minded individuals around direct action nonviolent protest is just incredible! The support is emotionally healing in a way I find difficult to describe. I’m planning to be in DC again in a couple of weeks to take part in BXE’s April 26-29 convergence and actions.

America’s Farmers Face Uncertain Future

No more field days … life is set to become more difficult for US farmers. Image: Rich via Flickr

By Tim Radford for Climate News Network. LONDON, 5 April, 2017 – Spare a thought for the farmers of America: climate change is going to make their lives more difficult. Growing seasons will be extended, as spring arrives ever earlier and winter’s onset is delayed. But that also throws one of farming’s great specifics into new uncertainty. What matters most immediately to farmers is not just the overall pattern of rain and sunlight; it is the number of days on which they can successfully and fruitfully work the soil. And this, say agricultural researchers, is crucial. Working days “Everything else flows from field working days,” says Adam Davis, an ecologist for the US Department of Agriculture and a crop scientist at the University of Illinois. “If you’re not able to work, everything else gets backed up.

Message To Rep. Ryan: 80% Of Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Oppose TPP

After a quarter century of off-shored jobs and depressed wages in the wake of corporate-driven trade de-regulation, the claim that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will make life better for American workers is so discredited that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are opposed. (cool revolution/ Flickr)

By Danielle Endvick for Wisconsin Farmers Union – CHIPPEWA FALLS – Responses to a recent survey sent out by Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) indicate dairy farmers throughout the state are against passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in its current form. The survey, which was sent to all dairy producers in Wisconsin, is the first of its kind to ask dairy farmers directly about their views on the TPP.

Agroforestry Can Boost Profits And Help Save The Planet

Trees planted as windbreaks for crops in Minnesota. (Eli Sagor via Flickr)

By Paul Brown for Climate News Network – LONDON—Feeding the world’s growing population in a rapidly warming world will not be possible with modern intensive agriculture that relies on cutting down more forests to plant crops, according to new research. The only way to produce enough crops and mitigate climate change at the same time is to adopt what the researchers have called agroforestry, a system of growing crops alongside trees and shrubs.

Investors Urge 16 Global Food Producers To Divest From Factory Farming

http://txagtalks.texasfarmbureau.org/factory-farming-not-so-bad-after-all/

By Derrick Broze for Activist Post – The Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) has organized a group of 40 investors in a campaign to raise awareness about the environmental and health risks associated with continuing to support factory farming and the over reliance on animal agriculture. The investors sent a letter to 16 global food producers asking them to acknowledge the risks of industrial farming, specifically animal agriculture, and to invest in plant-based protein sources.

Africa’s Dividing Farmlands A Threat To Food Security

Mary Wanjiru is a farmer from Nyeri County in central Kenya. Experts say that Africa's extensive land subdivision is emerging as a significant threat to food security. Credit: Miriam Gahtigah/IPS

By Miriam Gathigah for IPS – NAIROBI, Sep 10 2014 (IPS) – When Kiprui Kibet pictures his future as a maize farmer in the fertile Uasin Gishu county in Kenya’s Rift Valley region, all he sees is the ever-decreasing plot of land that he has to farm on. “I used to farm on 40 hectares but now I only have 0.8 hectares. My father had 10 sons and we all wanted to own a piece of the farmland. Subdivision … ate into the actual farmland,” Kibet tells IPS. “From 3,200 bags a harvest, now I only produce 20 bags, at times even less.”

Thailand: Reclaiming Mangroves For Shrimp Production

Thai shrimp farmer, Noppadol Tawee, uses mangroves to grow fish, crab and shrimp in a sustainable way at his farm in Kanchanadit district, Surat Thani [Antolin Avezuela Aristu/Al Jazeera]

By Laura Villadiego for Aljazeera – Surat Thani, Thailand – For many years, farmer Noppadol Tawee lived with the constant fear of waking up and finding all the shrimp that were growing in his pond floating dead in the water. “The shrimp used to get sick, and I lost all of them several times. Some years, I could make a lot of money; in others, I could lose everything,” explains Noppadol, a shrimp farmer living in Kanchanadit, a district in the province of Surat Thani in Southern Thailand.

From Livelihoods To Deadlihoods

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 2.04.02 PM

By Ashish Kothari for Local Futures for Economics of Happiness – In India, economic development and modernity have transformed livelihoods into deadlihoods. They are wiping out millennia-old livelihoods that were ways of life with no sharp division between work and leisure, and replacing them with dreary assembly line jobs where we wait desperately for weekends and holidays. Economic progress, we are told, is about moving from primary sector jobs to manufacturing and services. And so the livelihoods that keep all of us alive – farming, forestry, pastoralism, fisheries, and related crafts – are considered backward.

After Century In Decline, Black Farmers Are Back And On The Rise

Above Photo: Lindsey Lunsford gathers peppers at TULIP’s community garden. Photo by Wil Sands.

By Leah Penniman for Yes! Magazine – A few years ago, while clearing dried broccoli stalks from the tired soil of our land at Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York, I received a cold call from Boston. On the other end was a Black woman, unknown to me, who wanted to share her story of trying to make it as a farmer. Through tears, she explained the discrimination and obstacles she faced in a training program she’d joined, as well as in gaining access to land and credit.

2-Acre Farm, Packed Into Shipping Container

Farm From A Box

By Derek Markham for Tree Hugger – This plug-and-play farming system combines water-smart irrigation, renewable energy, and precision farming technology in a single shipping container that is said to be capable of supporting the cultivation of almost two and a half acres, using regenerative agriculture practices. We’ve covered a few different approaches to the ‘farm in a box’ concept, but all of them so far have been built around the idea of growing the crops inside a shipping container, using hydroponics or aeroponics and artificial lighting.