Bowling Green City Council Rejects NEXUS Pipeline
The Toledo Blade reports that the Bowling Green City Council has rejected Spectra Energy’s request to build part of its 255 mile NEXUS pipeline on 29 acres of city-owned land. The company offered $151,000 to follow an existing utility easement for its pipeline, which would move fracked gas from southern Ohio to Ontario Canada. They may now either reroute the pipeline or attempt to take the land through eminent domain.
Not Just Dakota Access: More Fossil Fuel Projects Delayed or Canceled
A combination of market forces and strong public opposition have led to a wave of infrastructure projects being shelved altogether or delayed, according to Inside Climate News. The decisions offer mounting evidence that public action is effective in protecting water quality and the integrity of farmland.
Answer the Call...or Knock
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) is conducting a survey of vegetable growers to see how the produce industry will be affected by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). While the survey includes questions on chemical use, questions on grower food safety practices are included at the end of the survey. These questions will help identify aspects of FSMA compliance that may be challenging to produce growers and will be used to develop guidance for growers on how to comply with the regulations. Farmers are being contacted by phone or in person. There are no written or online survey options.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is conducting the survey now through January 13. Survey responses are completely confidential and NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. NASS removes all personally identifiable information before providing basic data to ERS.
If you are contacted by NASS, we encourage you to fill out the survey. The information obtained in these surveys is critical for accurately quantifying the economic impacts of FSMA and to ensure good policy making and implementation. If you have questions about the survey, contact Gregory Astill.
Conservation Stewardship Program Applications Due February 3
A major funding opportunity for farmers is now available! The USDA is currently accepting initial applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), a national program that rewards farmers for protecting and enhancing natural resources on their working lands. OEFFA farmers already work to protect and enhance biodiversity as well as the quality of soil and water. This is an opportunity to receive some financial assistance for that stewardship.
CSP funding includes expanded options for conservation activities and increased minimum payments to help smaller-scale producers. Contracts may include everything from cover crops and rotational grazing to ecologically-based pest management. Interested farmers should visit their local NRCS office and fill out a short form by February 3 to take advantage of this opportunity.
Do We Need Pink Pineapple?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a strain of pineapple that is genetically engineered to be pink, instead of yellow. Del Monte Fresh Produce developed the new pink pineapple, which is supposed to be “extra sweet” and will be grown in Costa Rica.
Based on the narrow review given genetically engineered (GE) foods, the product is deemed safe, and it’s unclear if this pink fruit will have a QR code under the new mandatory GE labeling law.
Ideas About How to (Sustainably) Feed a Growing Population
In a recent piece in the Washington Post, Tamar Haspel argues that vegetables are not the answer to feed a growing population. She notes that the U.S. currently has about 4 million acres of vegetable production and if we followed the advice of many nutritionists, we should triple our vegetable consumption (currently at a measly one serving per day), which would require an additional 4 million acres. Sounds like a lot right?
However, corn, soy, and wheat occupy about 230 million acres, with other commodity crops accounting for an additional 100 million acres. Therefore, tripling our servings of healthful vegetables would only affect about 1 percent of total acreage in the U.S. If we want to reform agriculture, Haspel argues “it’s the other 99 percent that need your attention.”
One way to start looking at increasing the sustainability of the remaining cropland in a holistic way has been advanced by The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) in designating 2016 the International Year of Pulses. They note that more healthful eating could improve food system sustainability and sequester carbon to reduce the impact of climate instability. In this piece, the UN FAO addresses the important role of pulses, environmentally resilient crops that deliver high-nutrition foods to people and critical nutrients to biological ecosystems. Pulses such as lentils, dry beans, and chick peas are often used as cover crops for their nitrogen fixing ability.
Glyphosate Panel Split on Cancer Potential
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) convened a four day meeting last month to evaluate the cancer causing potential of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup. Despite the International Agency on Cancer Research (IARC) identifying glyphosate as “probable carcinogen” last year, the EPA panel was split on the issue. Some members backed the EPA's earlier finding that it was not a carcinogen and others said that the evidence was “suggestive” of carcinogenic potential. A split panel is highly unusual for this type of review. Read the views of the panelists on both sides of the issue here.
While glyphosate is frequently used in conjunction with genetically modified crops and deemed safe by the FDA, EPA and USDA, a recent analysis of studies found financial conflicts of interest in 40 percent of the published research on genetically modified crops. Conflicts of interest were defined as studies in which at least one author declared an affiliation to one of the biotech or seed companies, or received funding or payment from them. The authors found a statistical link between the presence of conflicts of interest and studies that drew a favorable conclusion on GE crops. Read the full analysis here.
Register for the OEFFA Conference by January 12 and Save!
OEFFA's 38th annual conference February 9-11 in Dayton includes a six-part food and farm policy workshop track, which features two sessions where you will have the opportunity to shape the Ohio food system and the next Farm Bill.
In addition, the Cream of the Crop Banquet on February 10 will include an empowering program featuring an award for an OEFFA citizen activist and a special guest moderator.
Don’t let the early bird deadline pass: register by January 12 and save $15! Online registration ends January 23.