Agriculture

The Swine Republic

A Swine Republic Primer: Q and A with author Chris Jones

Dr. Chris Jones recently retired from the University of Iowa as a research engineer. A trained chemist, his tenure included penning an incisive blog series that took aim at water quality issues in Iowa. Because his writing was honest, accurate, and well-informed, it rubbed some powerful people the wrong way. You can read more about […]

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Lack of ‘Conservation Compliance’ Highlights Need for Stricter Federal Oversight

Previously at EWG. Farmers are failing to comply with federal “conservation compliance” requirements designed to protect wetlands and soil, according to University of Iowa Associate Professor Silvia Secchi, who says the resulting environmental damage requires stricter federal oversight and enforcement. In a recent interview with EWG, Secchi discussed her most recent research on conservation compliance mandates established

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mcdonalds fries

The High Cost of Cheap McDonald’s Fries

Co-written with Honor the Earth’s Winona LaDuke and first published at Civil Eats. For 50 years, a single company has extracted millions in profits from one of Minnesota’s most important and ecologically vulnerable regions, the Pineland Sands. The 770-square-mile area in northern Minnesota is home to globally threatened jack pine forests and abundant streams and wetlands. It is also

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spraying pesticides

A Neighbor’s Plea to Potato Giant: ‘You’re going to have casualties’

Previously at EWG. Mike Tauber, a plumber by trade, grew up and now lives on the outskirts of Hackensack, a town of 300 located within 10 miles of 127 lakes in north central Minnesota’s Cass County. Hackensack is also on the eastern boundary of the Pineland Sands region, where for 30 years the RD Offutt company

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john boyd

Trump Cuts Food Stamps for Hungry Americans, But Handouts to Rich Land Barons Keep Coming

Previously at EWG. President Trump’s tariffs are a disaster for American soybean farmers, effectively cutting off access to China, their largest market. The Department of Agriculture’s bailout program has not helped most of them, because the bulk of payments go to the biggest and richest farmers. And recently, a fourth-generation Virginia soybean grower told Congress these

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Curbing Polluting Farm Runoff Is Key to Fighting the Epidemic of Toxic Algae Blooms

Previously at EWG. In 2011, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., fell “deathly sick” from a severe upper respiratory illness after swimming in a lake infected with toxic algae. Inhofe, a notorious science-denying patron of corporate polluters, laughed it off as “the environment strikes back.” Now Inhofe looks like the proverbial canary in the coal mine.   In the

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black farmers

Trump’s Farm Bailout Program Continues USDA’s Racist Legacy

Previously at EWG. President Trump’s tariffs are a disaster for American soybean farmers, effectively cutting off access to China, their largest market. The Department of Agriculture’s bailout program has not helped most of them, because the bulk of payments go to the biggest and richest farmers. And recently, a fourth-generation Virginia soybean grower told Congress these

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How Cover Crops Can Help Farmers, Protect Drinking Water and Fight Climate Change

Previously at EWG. As farmers struggle with a plummeting farm economy in the wake of President Trump’s trade war, the administration is rushing to send a second round of cash payments – reportedly totaling $15 billion to $20 billion – to farmers across the nation. Trump’s tariffs are hitting farmers as they are also struggling with floods,

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ag pollution

Rural Iowans Feel the Brunt of Ag Pollution

Previously at EWG. The major role that rural voters played in recent elections has amped up the focus on farm country from politicians and candidates on both sides of the aisle. In the runup to 2020, presidential hopefuls are once again flocking to Iowa, home of the crucial first-in-the-nation caucuses. Iowa is also ground zero for a growing

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Lake Erie toxic algae bloom

Manure From Unregulated Factory Farms Fuels Lake Erie’s Toxic Algae Blooms

Previously at EWG. Across America, outbreaks of toxic algae, triggered by polluted farm runoff, are increasing in frequency and severity, fouling drinking water with dangerous toxins. In 2014, an algae outbreak in Lake Erie contaminated the tap water for 500,000 people in and around Toledo, Ohio, rendering it unsafe to drink for three days. Lake Erie is fed

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Chickens

Avian flu is hammering hens — should poultry farmers get a bailout?

Previously at Grist. You may have noticed that the price of eggs has gone up. That’s partially due to the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza epidemic that decimated poultry farms across 15 U.S. states this spring. The death toll from the flu and culling has surged to over 48 million birds. The bulk were egg-laying hens, many concentrated

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corn ethanol

The GOP’s King Corn Problem

Republican politics — especially the presidential primary — have become a contest of appealing to the far right voter by demonstrating conservative street cred. That’s why it was fascinating to observe March 7th\’s awkward march of Republican candidates to the Iowa State Fairgrounds to articulate their position on the Renewable Fuels Standard — a government handout for those turning

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GMOs Expose Dangerous “Science” Disconnect in Agriculture

Previously at Politico. A contentious issue in the upcoming Colorado and Oregon GMO labeling referendums is the perceived safety of consuming genetically modified foods. Question a representative of the National Corn Growers Association or the American Farm Bureau Federation about the safety of eating GMOs and you’ll rightly be scolded about the scientific evidence that consuming those

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buffalo

A Sustainable Bison Rancher With a Wild Idea

Previously at Civil Eats. For years Dan O’Brien raised cattle on his ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota. After enduring beef’s punishing boom and bust cycle and experiencing first-hand the environmental toll that cattle took on his land, O’Brien made a dramatic change. He started raising North American Bison*, the great icon of the Great

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plowing under

Satellite Study Documents Vast Loss of Midwest Grasslands

Previously at EWG with Soren Rundquist. America’s Midwest and Great Plains are often derisively described as fly-over country. And now unblinking, data-collecting satellites soaring over the western Corn Belt have recorded a devastating manmade environmental disaster. Researchers from South Dakota State University caused a stir in the agricultural and media worlds last week with a satellite imagery-based

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Dust Bowl

Meet the New Dust Bowl, Same as the Old Dust Bowl

Previously at Civil Eats. There is no better time than the Thanksgiving Holiday to explore the connection between our food and the land it comes from. Ken Burns, America’s premiere documentarian, has tackled topics from jazz to the Civil War. His new film chronicles the Dust Bowl, the massive ecological disaster that plagued a large

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