Category Archives: Organic Farming

Organic farming goes for scale in prairies, pushes back on skepticism

OttawaMatters – Sept 2, 2018 (Canadian Press)

Travis Heide was raised on a conventional farm and used to take it personally when his wife, who grew up on an organic farm on Vancouver Island, talked about going pesticide and fertilizer-free.

Travis Heide was raised on a conventional farm and used to take it personally when his wife, who grew up on an organic farm on Vancouver Island, talked about going pesticide and fertilizer-free. Now, his the Saskatchewan-based farmer owns one of the biggest organic farms in Canada.

“Every time she talked about organic, it was like she was attacking the way I was raised.”

High prices for some organic crops helped push him to experiment with the practice in 2015 on farmland he secured through a partnership with property manager Robert Andjelic. Profits on the organic crop ended up helping offset losses on his conventional crop that year.

Heide has since gone all-in on organic and is pushing to see how big such farms can grow with a 16,200 hectare operation, as the industry matures and concerns mount about the impacts of conventional farming. The federal government, for example, recently moved to phase out nicotine-based pesticides that are linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths.

“What we’re not spending in chemical, we’re investing in people and machinery.”

Heide said he stuck with the model because it made sense on a business case, as demand grows for the products and the market matures, and other farmers are taking note.

SOURCE

Organic food – hype or hope? (42 min)

DW Documentary – May 30, 2018  (42 min)

There is growing demand in the western world for organic food. But do consumers always get what it says on the label? How can authenticity be verified?

Is organic food automatically healthier? Consumers are prepared to pay a significant premium for it. There are currently, however, no reliable tests for distinguishing organic from conventionally produced food. Farmers need to invest a great deal of time, energy and money to qualify as a producer of organic food. There is no proof, however, that organic food actually contains fewer contaminants than conventionally farmed products. There is no such thing as pollution-free food, and there are currently no tests available for reliably distinguishing between organic and non-organic food. That opens doors for lucrative labeling fraud, which in turn explains why there are far more organic eggs on the market at Easter than at any other time of the year. The statistics clearly suggest manipulation, but it is hard to obtain evidence due to the differences between the two production processes appearing to have little effect on the quality of the product. Irish dairy farmers, for instance, are not allowed to label their milk “organic” because the pasture land where their herds spend more than 300 days a year are treated with mineral fertilizers. Because cows are themselves bioreactors, however, the milk they yield contains no trace at all of fertilizer. On average, conventional Irish milk contains more omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants than organic milk from Germany. The reason is the fodder; German organic farms may use only concentrates and silage as supplementary feed to increase milk output – which impacts negatively on the quality of the milk. This documentary looks at researchers who are studying potential ways of reliably distinguishing between organic and conventionally produced food. And that is no easy task. Nearly every foodstuff requires a specific test. But one thing is certain: organic farming makes a major contribution to human welfare – by helping to mitigate climate change, protect the groundwater, conserve nature and promote animal welfare.

VIDEO SOURCE

The Great Laws of Nature: Indigenous Organic Agriculture Documentary (22 min)

Muskoday Organic Growers Co-op,

A group of First Nations People in Saskatchewan Canada

Let’s reconnect with our relatives in nature In 2013: the plant beings: A group of First Nations People in Saskatchewan Canada are reclaiming their Indigenous organic and natural agricultural heritage, reconnecting with Nature, learning and observing her natural laws, and getting back on the road to self-reliance. This video is presented here courtesy of Muskoday Organic Growers Co-op.. If you want to purchase a copy of this video please contact the producers through this link: rivard@rivard.tv

NOTE: The Bank ACT prevents loans to First Nations directly to start Coops and businesses.

Video Link

Article:  Indigenous co-ops in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture

Counter Punch – by Brian Wakamo – June 22, 2018

Summer: the season of barbecues, baseball games, and backyard fun. It’s also the time of year when the American farming industry comes into full swing producing the crops we hold near and dear.

The pastoral ideal of golden fields of corn and wheat is what comes to mind for most people, and they’d be on the right track. Corn, soybeans, and wheat are the three biggest crops grown in this country, and — along with cows, pigs, and chicken — make up the bulk of our farming output.

There’s a reason for this: The federal government heavily subsidizes those products. In fact, the bulk of U.S. farming subsidies go to only 4 percent of farms — overwhelmingly large and corporate operations — that grow these few crops.

For the most part, that corn, soy, and wheat doesn’t even go to feed our populace. More of it goes into the production of ethanol — which is also heavily subsidized — and into the mouths of those cows, pigs, and chickens stuffed into feedlots. Those grains purchased by the feedlots are also federally subsidized, allowing producers to buy grains at below market prices.

When we do eat these foods, they’re sold back to us in unhealthy forms, pumped full of high fructose corn syrup and growth hormones. Large corporate farms and feedlots also poison waterways, drain aquifers, and pollute the air.

SOURCE

Agroecology and the fight against deadly capitalist agriculture

Climate and Capitalism, June 17, 2018 by Colin Todhunter

Agroecology can free farmers from dependency, manipulated commodity markets, unfair subsidies and food insecurity. It is resisted by giant corporations that profit from the status quo.

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India. This article was originally published as “Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset,” on his blog, East by Northwest. Colin invites readers to follow him on Twitter.

Food and agriculture across the world is in crisis. Food is becoming denutrified and unhealthy and diets less diverse. There is a loss of biodiversity, which threatens food security, soils are being degraded, water sources polluted and depleted and smallholder farmers, so vital to global food production, are being squeezed off their land and out of farming.

A minority of the global population has access to so much food than it can afford to waste much of it, while food insecurity has become a fact of life for hundreds of millions. This crisis stems from food and agriculture being wedded to power structures that serve the interests of the powerful global agribusiness corporations.

Over the last 60 years, agriculture has become increasingly industrialised, globalised and tied to an international system of trade based on export-oriented mono-cropping, commodity production for the international market, indebtedness to international financial institutions (IMF/World Bank).

This has resulted in food surplus and food deficit areas, of which the latter have become dependent on (US) agricultural imports and strings-attached aid. Food deficits in the Global South mirror food surpluses in the North, based on a ‘stuffed and starved’ strategy.

Whether through IMF-World Bank structural adjustment programmes related to debt repayment as occurred in Africa (as a continent Africa has been transformed from a net exporter to a net importer of food), bilateral trade agreements like NAFTA and its impact on Mexico or, more generally, deregulated global trade rules, the outcome has been similar: the devastation of traditional, indigenous agriculture.

SOURCE

Organic Agriculture Is Going Mainstream, But Not the Way You Think It Is

Organic going mainstream

“Big Organics” is often derided by advocates of sustainable agriculture. The American food authors Michael Pollan and Julie Guthman, for example, argue that as organic agriculture has scaled up and gone mainstream it has lost its commitment to building an alternative system for providing food, instead “replicating what it set out to oppose.”

New research, however, suggests that the relationship between organic and conventional farming is more complex. The flow of influence is starting to reverse course.

Even with the upscaling, the market position of organic agriculture remains limited.

In Canada, organic sales grow by nearly 10 percent per year, and the total value of the organic market is around $5.4 billion. Yet the reality is that the industry is still dwarfed by conventional agriculture.

There are more than 4,000 certified organic farms in Canada, totalling 2.43 million acres. But this accounts for only 1.5 percent of the country’s total agricultural land.

Also, aside from the two organic heavyweights—coffee (imported) and mixed greens (mostly imported)—the market share of organic groceries is pretty small, at around three percent.

Yet the influence of organics is felt well beyond its own limited market.

SOURCE