What Iowa soybean farmers told Newt

Written by stevefairchild on .


This is a release from the Iowa Soybean Assciation. I thought it had some good information on how agriculturalists will vet presidential candidates: 

Soybean farmers across Iowa participated in a telephone townhall meeting, speaking directly with Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Tuesday evening. It was the first of several opportunities planned by the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) in an effort to focus attention on the critical topics of agricultural policy and trade issues impacting America’s farmers.

ISA has extended the invitation to all major Presidential candidates to participate in telephone calls with Iowa farmers. Former House Speaker Gingrich was the first candidate to accept the invitation.

The questions raised by ISA members during the call aligned closely with the issues that have emerged during the association’s recent District Policy Conferences.

Why you should clear your throat and weigh in on the farm bill...

Written by stevefairchild on .


...because everyone else is.

This e-mail letter came addressed to yours truly, and with some notion that I am a comrade of the folks over at the Concerned Citizens Network. 

On a matter of principle, I've never joined a club or organization with the word "concerned" in its title. "Concerned citizens" steers me to even more skepticism. If you can't bother to say what you're for, why organize? In this case, the cause is veganism. And if you plumb into the depths of the concerned's website, you’ll see that veganism is the answer to a mounting list of humanity's hobgoblins and pinching crises, including our impending doom from climate and trace gasses.

The ruling class likes a crisis. So do the professionally aggrieved. It gives them something important to do and a way to concentrate power to fulfill their world view (or in this case our destiny. Our destiny!)

When the climate is out to kill us, it's necessary to go vegan to rescue ourselves. 

When we're a nation of fatties, veganism is a necessity that must be implemented by fiat and law. 

If it's not veganism, its carbon. If it's not carbon, it's nuclear power. If it's not nuclear power, it's population control. If it's not population control it's deficit control. 

Regardless of the season on earth, Something. Must. Be. Done.


William Pitt the Younger, prime minister of England at the turn of the 19th century burned that straw man for eternity when he said, "Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves."

Here is "my fellow journalist" urging me toward action. I wonder how many "journalists" buy it?:






Food Policy Determines Our Destiny

Dear Fellow Journalist Steve,

If you know of an important solution which could save millions of lives and the world, would you choose to keep quiet or to help to put out  the fire? 

We all want a healthier nation with cleaner water, cleaner air, food free from toxic chemicals and genetic modification, and to curb the climate change crisis. With a huge financial deficit, high unemployment, food security issues, water shortage crisis, and rising health care costs, just one single change in our food policy, we can significantly alleviate each  of the issues above and reset things back to the right track. Now is the time to do it.

The 2012 Farm Bill does not only impact to the future of United States, it also affects the welfare of people all over the world. Tell Congress to start subsidies for Organic Plant Farming. By helping farmers transition and succeed in Organic Plant Farming, United States will build a solid foundation for sustainable agriculture. It is a win win policy for the government, farmers, taxpayers, consumers and the world. This new food policy will determine our destiny.

A good practice goes a long way beyond staying with the law. We urge you to help American recognize the cruel truth about the meat culture. A shift to plant-based Organic Agriculture is the quickest way to restore the health of each American and the health of our Planet. For the continual survival of the human race, food choice is no longer a personal preference.

Join us. Sign the letter today and  share the solution.

For more information, please visit


Corps gets input from stakeholders

Written by TF staff on .

Hears concerns and commits to flexible water releases this winter, spring

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently concluded eight open house sessions and public meetings in cities throughout the Missouri River basin to listen to the concerns of citizens. Brig. Gen. John McMahon, Northwestern Division Commander, said, 

“The top priority of the Northwestern Division is to responsibly prepare for the 2012 runoff season.”
According to the Corps, the approach to the Missouri River will change in the coming season. First, the Corps will assume a more flexible posture as water is evacuated through the system for the remainder of the fall and early winter. “We will get as much water out of the system as possible as weather permits and the repair work allows,” said Jody Farhat, Chief of the Water Management Division.

Second, the Corps will take an aggressive stance with winter and spring releases.
Third, the Corps will communicate more frequently and more broadly as the 2012 season unfolds. Farhat will conduct bi-monthly conference calls. During those calls, conversation will continue with officials, emergency management officials and the press to discuss conditions on the ground and current Corps’ reservoir release plans and forecasts. Audio files of the conference calls will be widely available.

A primary concern raised in the public meetings was the Corps’ strategy to only evacuate water from the reservoir system back to the designated amount of flood control storage.  “We set the target in late July as an initial first step to safely drawdown historic releases in time for people to get back into their homes, farms and businesses, and for the Corps and state agencies to begin making repairs as quickly as possible,” said McMahon.

View daily and forecasted reservoir and river information on the Water Management section of the Northwestern Division homepage at

The final version of the Annual Operating Plan is expected to be complete by the end of December.

More of a senile whimper than a baby-boom bang

Written by TF staff on .

With the United Nations declaring that the world now hosts some 7 billion souls, the media, and folks around the water cooler alike, have been gnashing teeth and lamenting that we’re doomed to be over-crowded, hungry and generally miserable in the future. Joel Kotkin, a demographer and writer for Forbes (see his work here: reminds us that there are viable opposing views to this projected dystopia. Kotkin and other demographers suggest the possibility that dropping birth rates in many developed countries could spread to the more fecund developing countries, leaving the world with a rapidly diminishing growth rate that leads eventually to population decline. Here is Kotkin writing in Forbes Magazine:

The childlessness phenomenon stems largely from such things as urbanization, high housing prices, intense competition over jobs and the rising prospects for women. The secularization of society—essentially embracing a self-oriented prospective—may also be a factor.

If this trend gains momentum, we may yet witness one of the greatest demographic revolutions in human history. As larger portions of the population eschew marriage and children, today’s projections of old age dependency ratios may end up being wildly understated. More important, the very things that have driven human society from primitive time—such as family and primary concern for children—will be shoved ever more to the sidelines. Our planet may be less crowded and frenetic, but, as in many of our child-free environments, a little bit sad and lot less vibrant.

Our future may well prove very different from the Malthusian dystopia widely promoted in the 1960s and still widely accepted throughout the media. With fewer children and workers, and more old folks, the “population bomb” end up being more of an implosion than an explosion.

Crop diversity isn’t so diminished

Written by TF staff on .

The foodies have told you that there is less diversity among the fruits and vegetables we consume. But here comes a bit of research that says the foodies are wrong. University of Illinois law professor Paul Heald said overall varietal diversity of the $20 billion market for vegetable crops and apples in the U.S. actually has increased over the past 100 years.

“The conventional wisdom, as illustrated in the July 2011 issue of National Geographic, holds that the last century was a disaster for crop diversity,” he said. “In the mainstream media, this position is so entrenched that it no longer merits a citation.”

To support that conclusion, Heald and co-author Susannah Chapman, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Georgia, studied thousands of commercially available varieties of 42 vegetable crops from 1903 to 2004, as well as varieties of apples from 1900 to 2000.

“We started with the assumption that every year we advanced in the 20th century there would be fewer and fewer varieties offered for sale commercially,” Heald said.

But when the researchers went to Washington to study varieties available in historical commercial seed and nursery catalogs, they were surprised by what they found as they worked through the years 1900 to 1930.
“There was no evident sign of decline, so we decided to step back and take a snapshot of 1903 and 2004, two years where others had collected full data on all-important vegetable crops,” Heald said. “We came to this with the exact same preconceptions as everyone else, but we couldn’t ignore facts that were smacking us in the face.”

According to Heald, the reason no one questioned the  conventional wisdom of a crop diversity crisis earlier is that the narrative “resonates so completely with assumptions made in all the socio-biological fields.”
“This false notion of waning crop diversity fits an accepted narrative,” Heald said. “It reconfirms what people already believe, and that belief is certainly bolstered by people’s casual observations about lack of diversity in the supermarket.”

Heald said the lack of choice in the fruit and vegetable section of grocery stores creates the impression that there’s a diversity crisis.

“Since we don’t see the diversity, it must not be there,” he said. “It fits in with a narrative of bad environmental news. There’s no doubt the 20th century was a bad century for the environment, so it must also have been a bad century for crop diversity. But it turns out this is one area in the last century that was pretty good. So all these factors bundled together led to a consensus that was never questioned and never really explored systematically until now.”

According to the study, 40 percent of the diversity gains the researchers found were from imports, but only 3 percent of gains could be traced to patents and less than 1 percent from biotechnological innovation.
“The influx of immigrants from South America and Asia have really brought a lot of new germ plasm into the U.S.,” Heald said. “On the other hand, government stimulus, like patent law, plays a role in only 3 percent of diversity gains, with biotech innovation constituting less than 1 percent.”

In the debate between economists who believe that patent law is essential to increasing plant diversity through innovation, and anthropologists and ethno-botanists who believe that patents destroyed plant diversity in the 20th century, Heald said the study demonstrates that both sides are wrong.

“The story of vegetables and apples in the 20th century is a story of markets working without government intervention, so it’s really a confluence of liberal and conservative dogma,” he said. “You see immigrants, off-the-grid seed savers, small farmers and local gardeners preserving and innovating.”

The study also includes the caveat that corn may be the exception to the influence of the patent system, as federal property rights play a more prevalent role in the ubiquitous crop, as well as with soybeans and cotton.


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