Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
Two conservation-minded farm organizations are applauding a bipartisan bill that would maintain funding and acreage levels for the farm bill's three largest conservation programs. "We're excited to see this bipartisan support for conservation in the farm bill," Anna Johnson, policy analyst with the Center for Rural Affairs, told Forum News Service.
Critics often raise concern that genetically engineered crops might harm the environment or people who eat them. But now a new study finds that farmers who plant Bt corn reduce crop damage and insecticide use in nearby fields of non-genetically engineered crops such as peppers and green beans. The Bt corn brings "positive impacts to growers, including organic producers," according to the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Excuse me," I told the supermarket cashier. "You rang up that squash at $1.99 a pound. The sign said $1.29." "This is organic. It's $1.99," she said. "Then somebody stocked it in the conventional section," I said. "Well, I'm not paying 70 cents more for organic. I'm not paying anything more for organic." Please, don't send irate emails if you're an organic supporter. Though I won't spend extra for organic, I'm not anti-organic. Not at all.
Federal crop insurance in its current form is hurting family farms, the land and rural communities, while benetting big insurance companies, according to a new report from the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project.
FARGO — Lanny Faleide is a farmer turned technological pioneer whose work has been praised by NASA. For 24 years, his self-described "bleeding-edge" company has used space-age technology, particularly satellite imagery, to help agricultural producers better understand their fields and farm them more efficiently. But Faleide said greater interest in precision agriculture, including the use of satellite and drone imagery, doesn't mean he and his company, Satshot, have finally reached the promised land.
LAWTON, N.D. — Justin Zahradka says that when he was a high school freshman, "I was the kind of kid who sat in the back of the class and never said a word." He pauses for a second and adds, "That's obviously changed, and it's because of FFA." Zahradka, now a 24-year-old full-time farmer from Lawton, N.D., says his involvement with FFA made him a better person and better farmer and opened up wonderful opportunities both during and after his time with FFA.
If you ask farmers what skill or attribute is most important in their occupation, the majority will pause for a few seconds before saying "optimism" or "faith in the future." Some will answer "capital," "vision," "access to land" or "willingness to change with the times." I agree, all those things are important, even vital. But here's what I firmly believe is the trait that modern farmers and ranchers need most to survive and thrive:
The North American Free Trade Agreement is a big deal to U.S. agriculturalists. NAFTA is even more important to their Canadian counterparts, a Canadian attorney with close ties to agriculture says. Given that, ongoing efforts to revise NAFTA are "a huge concern," Kenton Rein says. Rein is a partner in Cassels Brock's Calgary, Alberta, office, where he leads the firm's agribusiness practice. He also is on the executive committee of the Canadian Bar Association's Food and Agribusiness Section.
PITTSBURGH — Understanding the U.S. farm bill isn't easy even for full-time agriculturalists. Journalists with limited exposure to ag may face an even greater challenge. But three veteran agricultural journalists, with extensive experience in covering the farm bill, have some insights that can make the task a little less difficult.
PITTSBURGH — A journalist is supposed to ask questions. On rare occasions, when we're especially brave or foolish (or both), we invite readers to submit questions for us to ask in their stead. That's what I did during the recent annual convention of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Pittsburgh. Though I'm not a member of the group, its event had a strong ag component and I received a fellowship to attend.