There’s a old saying, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” Women For Women International is teaching women in Rwanda and Sudan how produce food that will feed them for a lifetime. The women are trained to grow crops that not only feed their families, but also earn them a profit.

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that poor countries will spend up to one hundred seventy billion dollars this year to import food. This is an increase of forty percent from last year. The United Nations agency says the rising price of food over the past year is a serious problem because most hungry people also live in poverty. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Sunday, a day of rest, a day when I traditionally try to stay away from posting anything too depressing. It hasn’t been easy lately. When it comes to our government and our food supply there is a far greater stream of not-so-good news. It often makes me wonder just what God (or Mother Nature) must be thinking. But today I give thanks for people like Don Bustos.

Don lives and farms in northern New Mexico’s Espanola Valley. His land has been passed down from his Spanish ancestors who tilled the same soil centuries before. He went organic 15 years ago when he realized the traditional farming techniques he was using could harm his children’s health. But now, Bustos has found an even safer method — vegan organic farming without any animal fertilizers or byproducts. Read the rest of this entry »

Can organic cropping systems be as productive as conventional systems? The answer is an unqualified, “Yes” for alfalfa or wheat and a qualified “Yes most of the time” for corn and soybeans according to research reported by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and agricultural consulting firm AGSTAT in the March-April 2008 issue of Agronomy Journal.

The researchers primarily based their answer on results from the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trials, conducted for 13 years (1990-2002) at Arlington, WI and 8 years (1990-1997) at Elkhorn, WI. These trials compared six cropping systems (three cash grain and three forage based crops) ranging from diverse, organic systems to less diverse, conventional systems. The cash grain systems were 1) conventional continuous corn, 2) conventional corn-soybean, and 3) organic corn-soybean-wheat where the wheat included a leguminous cover crop. The three forage based systems were 1) conventional corn-alfalfa-alfalfa-alfalfa, 2) organic corn-oats-alfalfa-alfalfa, and 3) rotationally grazed pasture. Read the rest of this entry »

Appalachian Harvest, an organic farming cooperative, is searching for new farmers to help meet the growing demand for organic produce. They have a need for more than a dozen different types of organic produce that will go into more than 600 supermarkets throughout the Eastern and Southern parts of the United States.

“Right now, we have more demand than supply when you look at what our partners are wanting,” said co-op marketer Robin Robbins. “Over the last 10 years, organic has become evolutionary because that grocery shopper wants better quality and they want to know where the food comes from.” Read the rest of this entry »

Watch The Real Dirt on Farmer John, a movie about life, farming, family & friends.

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Large family farms, defined as those with revenue of more than $250,000, account for nearly 60 percent of all agricultural production but just 7 percent of all farms. They receive more than 54 percent of government subsidies. And their share of federal payments is growing — more than doubling over the past decade for the biggest farms.

In 2003, the owners of the biggest family farms reported an average household income of $214,200, more than three times that of U.S. households on average.

The shift in subsidies to wealthier farmers is helping to fuel this consolidation of farmland. The largest farms’ share of agricultural production has climbed from 32 percent to 45 percent while the number for small and medium-size farms has tumbled from 42 percent to 27 percent.

Nationally, the average size of a farm has more than doubled in the past two decades, to 441 acres. Many farms now cover thousands of acres, some tens of thousands.

“Farming is a science now,” says one farmer. “The image of a farmer in bib overalls bumbling along is just wrong. I’m an engineer, for God’s sake.”

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/20/AR2006122001591.html

Gary Holthaus thinks this part of the world took the wrong path. Holthaus is administrative director of the LaMoure, N.D.-based Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society. The group promotes what it calls “a more sustainable society through an ecologically sound, socially just and economically viable food system.”

That includes turning away from the region’s large-scale, chemical-intensive and export-oriented agriculture in favor of small, diverse farms that produce organic food primarily for domestic consumers.

One of the society’s key beliefs is that the health of soil, food, people, society and economy are intertwined. Read the rest of this entry »

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