Organic Farm Co-op To Be World’s Largest Food Producer Using 100% Renewable Energy

Alan Levine

By Staff of Co-operative News – Organic Valley is creating a solar partnership that is set to increase overall usage in Wisconsin by 15%, and will incorporate insect-friendly habitat. Organic Valley, America’s largest co-operative of organic farmers, is set to become one of the largest food companies in the world to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. The co-op is collaborating with the Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group (UMMEG) and OneEnergy Renewables to create the solar community partnership. Together, the partners will initiate over 12 megawatts (MW) of solar installations in Wisconsin. The electricity created by this partnership will not only enable Organic Valley to cover 100% of its electric energy needs from renewable sources by 2019 but also increase overall solar energy use in Wisconsin by 15%. Beyond the 12 MW project portfolio, an additional 17-plus MW expected to be constructed as well, resulting in nearly 30 MW of new solar in the region. Organic Valley will purchase renewable energy credits from the solar projects near their headquarters and distribution centre enabling the co-operative to be fully renewable-powered. It is hoped the partnership will deliver lower and more stable electric costs for all participants, alongside the environmental benefits of renewable power. Additionally, the solar community partnership will adopt pollinator-friendly solar standards, which Organic Valley says reflects its commitment to “animals, people and the planet”.

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

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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.

Dirty Dairy: Why Consumers Need To Force Ben And Jerry's To Go Organic

From organicconsumers.org

By Ronnie Cummins for Organic Consumers Association – The Vermont brand has been built on a bucolic image of cows grazing on endless pastures . . . Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and other Vermont companies have used this idyllic imagery to sell their products. Gone are the days, however, when most of Vermont’s cows were grazing in spectacularly scenic landscapes. Now a majority of Vermont’s cows are locked up in . . . ‘confined animal feeding operations’ or CAFOs . . . grazing on concrete with a diet rich in GMO corn and pesticides. – “Vermont’s GMO Addiction: Pesticides, Polluted Water and Climate Destruction,” Regeneration Vermont The most important thing we can do today as conscious consumers, farmers and food workers is to regenerate public health, the environment and climate stability. We can do this most readily by moving away from industrial, GMO and factory-farm food toward an organic, pasture-based, soil-regenerative, humane, carbon-sequestering and climate-friendly agriculture system. What’s standing in the way of this life-or-death transformation? Rampant greenwashing. The proliferation of $90 billion worth of fraudulently labeled or advertised “natural” and “socially responsible” food products in the U.S. confuses even the most well-intentioned of consumers and lures them away from purchasing genuine organic or grass-fed products.

Victory!! Pesticide Contamination Prohibited From Organic Production

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By Staff of Center for Food Safety – SAN FRANCISCO— Synthetic pesticides are once again prohibited in compost used for organic production, thanks to a federal court in the Northern District of California. The court issued a decision in litigation brought by several nonprofits challenging the United States Department of Agriculture’s allowance of pesticide contamination in compost used in organic food production. Center for Food Safety, Center for Environmental Health and Beyond Pesticides filed the case in April 2015, arguing that USDA had unlawfully changed organic regulations to create a new pesticide loophole …

Hawai‘i Provides Landmark State-Funded Tax Credit For Organic Farmers

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By Staff of Center For Food Safety – Hawai‘i lawmakers hope to strengthen and expand the state’s organic farming sector after passing unprecedented legislation that would allocate $2 million in state-funded tax credit for certified organic food production (House Bill 1689 CD 1). The state-funded tax credit is the first of its kind in the United States, and is designed to complement existing federal programs that help organic farmers overcome the financial barriers of certification.

Monsanto Profits Drop 25% As Farmers, Individuals Go Organic

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By Mike Barrett for Global Research News – For Monsanto’s 2nd quarter, total sales for Monsanto dropped 13%; with one of Monsanto’s top-sellers, corn seeds, falling 11%. The biotech giant cites an “unfavorable agricultural market” for its losses. While the company is admittedly still seeing profits in the billions, the continuous decline paints a bleak picture for the agricultural giant. It means that the massive grassroots movement against Big Biotech giants such as Monsanto is working, and that our collective voice is being more than heard.

Denmark Is On Its Way To Becoming An Organic Country

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By Lindsay Oberst for Food Revolution – Imagine a organic country. Does this seem possible or realistic? In the United States, where only 1 percent of U.S. farmland is certified organic, this may seem like a far-away dream. But in Denmark, this vision is much closer to reality. First of all, people in Denmark have a great appreciation for organic food. Their country’s national organic brand has been in business for 25 years, making it one of the oldest organic brands in the world. Plus, the Danish government is working in multiple ways to convert the entire country’s agriculture into organic and sustainable farming.

South Minneapolis Creates Free Organic Market

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By Unicorn Riot. Minneapolis, MN – The project itself began as conversations over a backyard fire pit where people came up with the idea to teach people to grow food, and through that process give food away for free. The project gives families classes with a master gardener and the resources to make a raised garden and help with installation. The agreement between the twenty participating families and the project was to give 3 small harvests a season to the free farmers market. The harvests are moved by a food cart created as part of volunteers dreamed up to make it all sustainable. That cart now pulled up to the various gardens driven by volunteers who gathered the food to give away for free at the market.

USDA: Sales From Organic U.S. Farms Reached $5.5 Bln Last Year

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By Tom Polansek in Reuters – Sales from organic U.S. farms reached $5.5 billion last year, a 72 percent increase from 2008, the U.S. Agriculture Department said in a report on Thursday that highlighted the consumer trend toward such products. The USDA data, compiled through farmer surveys, showed that milk was the top organic commodity in 2014 with sales of about $1.1 billion. Sales of organic eggs, which are laid by hens raised without cages, totaled $420 million. Demand for organic foods, from fruits and vegetables to meat and grains, has risen steadily in the past decade as shoppers have become more concerned about genetically modified products, as well as chemicals used in the food chain. “We need a higher rate of growth in order to get close to meeting the demand,” Laura Batcha, chief of the Organic Trade Association, said after reviewing the sales data.

Farmers Turn To GMO-Free Crops To Boost Income

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When Justin Dammann enters his southwestern Iowa cornfield this month, the 35-year-old farmer will sow something these 2,400 acres have not seen in more than a decade — plants grown without genetically modified seeds. The corn, which will head to a processor 20 miles down the road this fall, will likely make its way into tortilla shells, corn chips and other consumable products made by companies taking advantage of growing consumer demand for food without biotech ingredients. For Dammann and other Midwest farmers, the burgeoning interest in non-GMO foods has increased how much they get paid to grow crops in fields once populated exclusively with genetically modified corns and soybeans. The revenue hike is a welcome benefit at a time when lower commodity prices are pushing farm income down to what’s expected to be the lowest level in six years.

Organic Consumer Pressure Works—Stonyfield Quits IDFA

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In the latest example of how consumers can pressure food companies to do the right thing, on Friday (December 5, 2014), Stonyfield Farm, a New Hampshire-based producer of organic milk and yogurt, became the second organic dairy company in five months to resign from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). IDFA is a trade group that is suing Vermont to overturn the state’s GMO labeling law, passed earlier this year. The resignation came after OCA and other groups sent an open letter to leading organic dairy companies, demanding they withdraw their membership in the IDFA. An article in Vermont Digger, stated that Stonyfield and California-based Clover-Stornetta Farms, which pulled out of the IDFA in July, claimed they were “under fire” from consumers.

Organic Crops Can Compete With Big Ag

The yields of organic farms, particularly those growing multiple crops, compare well to those of chemically intensive agriculture, according to a new UC Berkeley analysis. (Photo by Kristin Stringfield)

A systematic overview of more than 100 studies comparing organic and conventional farming finds that the crop yields of organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. The study, conducted by UC Berkeley researchers, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic crops and conventional farming. “In terms of comparing productivity among the two techniques, this paper sets the record straight on the comparison between organic and conventional agriculture,” said the study’s senior author, Claire Kremen, professor of environmental science, policy and management and co-director of the Berkeley Food Institute.

Groups Rally Against Legislation To Keep GMOs Off Labels

A sign at Wednesday morning's rally in front of the U.S. Capitol building. (Photo: Occupy Monsanto/@gmo917/Twitter)

Consumers, farmers, states’ rights and consumer rights activists traveled to Washington D.C. today to attend a scheduled hearing and protest on a bill that would preempt states’ rights to pass laws requiring the mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).” H.R. 4432, dubbed by pro-labeling groups as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, was introduced in April by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). It was written with help from the biotech and processed food industries to protect corporate profits. Sixty-four countries require corporations to disclose whether or not their products contain GMOs. More than 90 percent of Americans surveyed say they want this right, also.

Dramatic Correlation Shown Between GMOs And 22 Diseases

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The research highlighted below, “Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America,” was published in The Journal of Organic Systems September and links GMO’s to 22 diseases with very high correlation. We have reprinted many of the graphs from the study that show an incredible correlation between the rise of GMO crops that use the herbicide glyphosate and a wide range of disease. Glyphosate was introduced to the marketplace in 1974 but data on its use is only available since 1990. The study points out that research has shown that “glyphosate disrupts the ability of animals, including humans, to detoxify xenobiotics. This means that exposures to the numerous chemicals in food and the environment, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, could be causing levels of damage that would not occur if the body were able to detoxify them.” Correlation is not proof of causation. But the authors points out “we have data for 22 diseases, all with a high degree of correlation and very high significance. It seems highly unlikely that all of these can be random coincidence.”