Monday, Jan 27, 2020, 8:37 am · By Johnathan Hettinger
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and is republished here under a Creative Commons license. Reporter Johnathan Hettinger is covering the dicamba trial for the Midwest Center and will be posting periodic dispatches, which Rural America In These Times will republish as they become available.
After five years of reported crop damage by the weed killer dicamba, German agribusiness companies Bayer and BASF will head to trial this week to defend themselves against charges that they intentionally caused the problem in order to increase their profits.
The lawsuit, originally filed in November 2016 by a southeastern Missouri peach farmer, alleges that Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018, and BASF created the circumstances that have damaged millions of acres of crops. Read the full complaint here.
The trial is set to begin Monday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in Cape Girardeau.
Friday, Jan 24, 2020, 4:59 pm · By Simon Davis-Cohen
How a Little-Know Virginia Law Has Been Used to Uphold White Supremacy and Undermine Local Democracy
November's elections delivered an overwhelming victory for progressives in Virginia, where Democrats solidified a majority in the General Assembly and candidates in local races followed suit. In Charlottesville, where the deadly white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally took place two years ago, voters elected a slate of progressive candidates to the city council, including an activist, Michael Payne, who is endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America.
But the gap between electing progressive officials and enacting progressive policies is a wide one. An ongoing court battle over the Confederate statues at the center of the white nationalist rally shows how a little-known legal rule has been used to hamstring local democracy across the state.
Friday, Jan 17, 2020, 10:52 am · By Anthony Flaccavento
Americans cherish the “family farm.” Most are also happy to be able to buy local foods at farmers markets, grocers or their favorite restaurants.
In the marketplace, consumers are sending the message that they want more sustainable and organic food, sales of which exceeded $50 billion last year. And the vast majority of people in our nation believe that climate change is real, and that urgent action needs to be taken.
While there is some variability depending upon one’s political affiliation, Democrats and Republicans alike hold these views. If this is what we collectively believe, across party, then surely our politics and public policies support these priorities, right?
Well, not so much.
Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020, 2:44 pm · By Anthony Flaccavento
I’m one of those “farmers and ranchers for a Green New Deal,” and like a lot of them, my involvement started with soil.
I began market gardening in 1994, five years before my wife and I purchased the old tobacco farm where we’ve been doing organic farming ever since. Back in the mid-90’s in southwest Virginia, there was barely a hint of a “local food system,” save the occasional bartering of excess produce or the purchase of a quarter cow for freezer meat.
In that context, I started a tiny CSA—Community Supported Agriculture—with a dozen families, supplying them from my market garden. I reckon it was one of the first CSAs in central Appalachia.
Within four years, there were nearly 100 participating families and six other farmers contributing produce, eggs, honey and other staples, organized in a growers’ network we called Highlands Bio-Produce.
Tuesday, Jan 7, 2020, 6:05 am · By John S. Adams
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Montana Free Press on Dec. 10 and is republished here under a Creative Commons license. The bill reported on here was officially introduced on Dec. 11 in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and was co-sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
A bill that would settle a longstanding water rights dispute between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Montana state government and the federal government would also return control of the National Bison Range to the tribes.
While the exact language of the bill has not yet been made public, a draft obtained by Montana Free Press includes a section that reverses a 111-year-old act of Congress that took the lands comprising the Bison Range from the tribes. The Bison Range is entirely within the borders of the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Saturday, Jan 4, 2020, 12:24 pm · By Martha Rosenberg
Editor’s Note: This is a lightly edited version of an article that was originally published on the blog of the Organic Consumers Association. You can read the original article here.
There’s a lot the industrial factory farm industry prefers to keep consumers in the dark about, including what happens when millions of confined, stressed out animals with weakened immune systems are exposed to disease.
What’s the latest food animal pandemic Big Meat has been trying to keep out of the news? African swine fever (ASF), caused by the African swine fever virus (ASFV), a disease that just this year has killed one-fourth of the world’s pigs, including half of all China’s factory farm pigs.
So far, mainstream media’s coverage of ASF has focused almost exclusively on economic issues, including the disease’s potential impact on global trade. Questions about the pandemic disease potentials of intensive animal agriculture are skirted.
Thursday, Jan 2, 2020, 10:28 am · By Robert Parker and Rebecca Lewis
For decades land use regulation across the U.S. has emphasized single-family houses on large lots. This approach has priced many people out of the quintessential American dream: homeownership. It also has promoted suburban sprawl―a pattern of low-density, car-dependent development that has dominated growth at the edges of urban areas since the end of World War II.
Now, however, Americans may be starting to question the desirability of a private house. In the past year, the Minneapolis City Council and the state of Oregon have voted to allow duplexes and other types of multi-unit housing in neighborhoods where currently only single-family homes currently are allowed. Democratic lawmakers in Virginia, who recently won control of their state’s legislature, are seeking to enact similar legislation. And several Democratic presidential candidates have included changes to zoning laws in their housing policies.
Friday, Dec 27, 2019, 2:22 pm · By Liberty Vittert
This year, I was on the judging panel for the Royal Statistical Society’s International Statistic of the Decade.
Much like Oxford English Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this decade. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community and the public at large for a statistic that shines a light on the decade’s most pressing issues.
On Dec. 23, we announced the winner: the 8.4 million soccer fields of land deforested in the Amazon over the past decade. That’s 24,000 square miles, or about 10.3 million American football fields.
Monday, Dec 23, 2019, 9:14 am · By Gabriel Furshong
Five generations of Little Shell people lived and died as members of an American Indian tribe that, according to the federal government, didn’t exist.
Gerald Gray, 52, represents the sixth generation to carry on the fight. Last week, the current chairman of the tribal council was at his office in Billings, Montana when Congress finally approved the Little Shell of Chippewa Indians Tribal Restoration Act, a bill granting federal recognition to the Montana tribe of more than 5,000 people. Gray’s mind was with those who came before him.
“Every morning I smudge and say my morning prayers to my relations because I think they still guide the Little Shell people, ” he said. “I think of my grandfather Ernest Gray who was sent to boarding school as a little boy to remove the Indian from the Indian. They wanted to teach him the white man's ways.”
Now, after more than a century of struggle that began with a controversial treaty agreement in 1892, current and future generations of Little Shell people will be recognized as citizens of a sovereign indigenous nation, the 574th tribe to be recognized by the United States. The tribe will be permitted to exercise limited self-governance through its tribal council. Enrolled citizens will also be able to access federal funding for healthcare, education, and economic development which the U.S. is legally obligated to provide as compensation for appropriating their ancestral land and resources.
Friday, Dec 20, 2019, 3:28 pm · By Pat Thomas
What will we eat in the future?
What was once a rhetorical musing has now become the critical question of our time as scientists grapple with tricky questions about life—and larders—in a climate-changing world.
Agriculture is both a key contributor to climate change and one of the sectors most vulnerable to those changes. That fact alone should send an urgent message that the way we farm has to change. Instead, we see a stubborn cadre of policymakers, tech companies and big agribusinesses that believe business as usual can be maintained with only a few tweaks to the system.
The science, however, tells a different story.