The face of corporate exploitation in the third world is increasingly local, and thus even more invisible than usual.
Most land in Africa is technically owned by "local chiefs," and bribery and collusion between chiefs, state and corporations are dispossessing huge numbers of rural families of their land, health and livelihoods.
's magazine, In Good Tilth:
Our inaugural issue of 2016 celebrates women farmers and food leaders. Stories include: An interview with Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth; a photo narrative by Audra Mulkern; an analysis of why women farmers have been invisible for so long; a look around the United States at female leaders in our good food movement; and more.
(probably not mobile-friendly)
"Honestly? I've never had more fun cooking. Or eating.
I didn't want to write this piece; it's almost humiliating to hear myself talk this way. But there it is. I'm in Berkeley. I'm lucky to be here. I may stay." Mark Bittman talks about California produce. [more inside]
"A set of towers, spread across the globe, have given goats
the opportunity to make good on their evolutionary heritage and farmers a chance to leave an unforgettable impression on visitors. And don't worry—there hasn't been a single report of the goats falling." From Modern Farmer. [Previously]
"In October 2013, Drs. Tim Perkins and Abby van Den Berg of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center
, revealed the findings of a study at a maple syrup conference in New Brunswick, Canada that sent waves through the industry. In 2010, they were studying vacuum systems in sap collection operations. Based on the observation that one of the mature trees in the study that was missing most of its top was still yielding high volumes of sap, they hypothesized that the maples were possibly drawing moisture from the soil and not the crown. Previously, they had presumed that the sap dripping from tap holes was coming from the upper portion of the tree. But, if the tree was missing most of its crown then, they surmised, it must be drawing moisture from the roots. ... They realized that their discovery meant sugarmakers could use saplings, densely planted in open fields, to harvest sap. In other words, it is possible that maple syrup could now be produced as a row crop like every other commercial crop in North America.
" [more inside]
is a story about India’s agrarian crisis and the growing inequality seen through the work of the Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu
, P Sainath
. The entire film
is uncopyrighted and available to watch online. As Sainath says, "There are two kinds of journalists. One kind are journalists, the other are stenographers." As to the silence of the mainstream Indian media on the farmer suicides, he noted
"Tacitus despised Nero. His writings on the Emperor show us that. However, he wrote very little about his guests. Those who could pop that fig while human torches burned around them.
But then, come to think of it, the media of our time – the first-drafters-of history – are remarkably silent about this side of our own elite. Too many of whom are today just that. Nero’s Guests.
"Farmer Bowman began purchasing Monsanto’s patented seeds in 1999 and, because of the licensing agreement, did not save any of the seed for future planting.
But he also bought so-called “commodity” seed from a local grain elevator, which acts as a clearinghouse for farmers to buy and sell seed.
But given that more than 90 percent of the soybeans planted in the area were Roundup Ready crops, the elevator’s seed was contaminated with Monsanto’s patented seed.
Farmer Bowman planted that commodity seed, which was substantially cheaper to purchase, to produce a second, late-season crop, which is generally more risky and lower yielding. He then used seeds generated in one late-season harvest to help produce subsequent late-season crops.
Monsanto sued him for patent infringement, and he lost." [more inside]
Geeky? Crafty? Got some time on your hands? Make your own boardgame pieces! Tutorials
for making custom
3-d Settlers of Catan tiles (and gorgeous custom sets here
, and here
, although with no instructions,alas). Agricola
more your style? Grab some polymer clay and get making resources
, more resources
, more sheep
, and (of course) farmers
, and farmers
. Don't forget fences, tiles, and a starting player piece
. Lots more in the image gallery at BoardGameGeek
Farmers across the US are increasingly isolated and work brutally long hours. It can be pretty hard to get a date when you work sixteen hour days and live in the middle of nowhere. Happily, now there is farmersonly.com
, a dating site for "farmers, ranchers, country folks" and the people who want to love them. As one patron explains
, "I don't want to baby-sit some city boy who is afraid of stepping in poop."
Save the South Central Farm! (video)
Sure, Daryl Hannah is a little nutty, but she got behind a good cause here, helping urban farmers in LA
Twilight for Black Farms.
An interesting topic at NPR. Photos. Audio. Essay.
is intended to share my love and appreciation for the hard work farmers and their families do to create such beautiful places and beautiful food. Tana Butler visists small farms near Santa Cruz, CA, sharing her thoughts and photographs [ farms
Farmer Homer McFarland is being sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Monsanto corporation.
His crime? Replanting his crops' own seed
, as farmers have done for millennia, which violates the biotech giant's intellectual property rights, the company claims. Quietly, Monsanto's aggressive "seed police" have been suing farmers in 25 states for years, often settling out of court for huge sums, according to the Center for Food Safety's
new report, Monsanto vs. US farmers
[PDF link]. For more information, also see a new documentary called The Future of Food
Party like it's 1892! "Executive power and patronage have been used to corrupt our legislatures and defeat the will of the people, and plutocracy has thereby been enthroned upon the ruins of democracy."*
In the late 1800s, the Populist Party
, or People's Party, formed to merge the Farmers Alliance message of economic empowerment for growers with the Knights of Labor's movement to check the growing power and corrupt practices of big business (along with the Greenbacks Party critiques of monetary policy)
. With a strong base in the midwest and south, the party earned 9% of the 1892 popular vote, won the presidential electoral votes of four states (not to mention electing 10 congressmen, 5 senators, 3 governors, and 1,500 state legislators)
. However the party's power quickly faded as the Democratic Party co-opted much of the Populist platform
while internal disputes
culminated in the Populists placing the Dems' 1896 nominee at the head of their own ticket. Nevertheless, the populist movement's influence continued to be felt through various 20th century reforms including direct election of senators
, presidential term limits
, and abandonment of the gold standard
Should dairy farmers be forced to contribute to the "Got Milk?" campaign?
At this point, all dairy farmers contribute a per-unit fee to help fund the dairy marketing campaign. Is this just? A recent court decision does not think so. What do you think?
Opining that third-world farmers "need a better deal
", the Guardian
has launched kickAAS
, a blog to abolish all agricultural subsidies.
Bet the Farm.
Friday Flash Fun! Do you have what it takes to run a modern farm? This online game pits your decision making against the forces of nature and the market in a simple, clever, educational flash game. I made $9.33 an hour!
Who will be MetaFilter's master farmer?
This isn't about agriculture.
Today, twelve prairie farmers have surrendered themselves to RCMP, rather than pay a fine for their illegal activities. Their mutual crime was choosing to export their wheat crop independently
, rather than through the Canadian Wheat Board
. Are state-run agricultural monopolies appropriate, especially when their authority is exerted unevenly throughout the country? Do you think the action taken by these farmers is justified?
Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe reiterates his threat to re-distribute land.
"One farmer, one farm policy." What this fool doesn't realize (or perhaps more terribly, really does), is that this policy will cause a devastating famine
, and bring about economic chaos: "Commercial agriculture is Zimbabwe’s biggest private employer
, providing work — and, almost invariably, accommodation — for about 350,000 people. If Mr Mugabe carries out his threat to evict 2,900 white farmers, the workers and their families — a total of 1.2 million people — will join the ranks of the dispossessed..." Not only that, but his government has been terrorizing black farm hands and others thought to have opposed him in the recent "election." What can be done about Zimbabwe? The EU seems willing to help in case of famine, but there is no guarantee their money will get past Mugabe's pockets.
US Department of Agriculture under pressure to purchase surplus crops.
One solution is to use the crops in school lunches, so they are testing things like sweet potato pancakes and hamburgers with prune puree in them (which makes them healthier by replacing some of the fat).
Farm Subsidy Web Site Sows Discord:
"Suppose you could go to a Web site, type in the names of co-workers--or maybe your boss--and find out how much money they make. Be honest--you would. And farmers, it seems, are no less curious than the rest of us. Since its public debut on Nov. 6, a new Internet-accessible database
that ranks farmers by name according to the amount of federal subsidies they receive has recorded 10.1 million searches. The payments often constitute the bulk of farmers' income, and many of the hits have been by farmers eager to know how they compare with the guy growing corn or soybeans down the road." (Washington Post story, which C-SPAN pointed me to.)
Taliban Magic Trick: $43m...now you see it, now you don't!
"Afghan farmers are ready to swamp world markets with heroin amid signs that the Taleban has dropped its ban on opium growing."
Okay...can we please end the War on Plants now?
Mugabe's secret plan to evict all whites
Robert Mugabe plans to expel all white farmers from Zimbabwe before next year's elections, according to a secret document obtained by The Telegraph. [...] Entitled Operation Give up and Leave, it reads: The operation should be thoroughly planned so that farmers are systematically harassed and mentally tortured and their farms destabilised until they give in and give up.
Combining two freakish legends in one story ...
Farm accident and self-surgery with uncoventional tools! All it needed was a little sex and it'd be CNN material fer sure. The highlight:
"He said he thinks he'll be able to continue farming, 'but not like I really want to.'"
Monsanto wins case against Canadian farmer
. Percy Schmeiser
, who has attained folk-hero status, was held liable for growing genetically modified canola without paying the royalty. The decision in a federal court in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was a significant setback for farmers who fear they will be held liable if pollen from neighboring farms blows onto their fields, transmitting patented genes to their crops without their knowledge or consent.
Big Business vs. the little guy.
After you read the story, go check out the Website
of the pig farmer. The only question I have is: Can they find a Judge who doesn't golf?
Monsanto, the megacorp who brought you terminator seed technology, and who is known for suing farmers who harvest seeds from crops grown from patented Monsanto seeds, has had a busy couple of weeks. On April 4, they merged with pharmaceutical giant Upjohn to form meta-megacorp Pharmacia. That same day, in a spurt of overactivity, they decoded the genetic sequence of rice.