Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category


Wednesday, November 6th, 2013


The controversy over genetically modified (GM) crops rages on.   The link below is a video explaining all the dangers of genetically crops and the WSJ article makes the case for their safety.  You be the judge !   Nancy



Oct. 22, 2013
Farmers can now produce more crops in an environmentally sustainable way at a lower cost thanks to the efforts of hundreds of scientists over the past half-century. Seeds are developed in a laboratory and then field tested to enhance nutritional value or resistance to drought, disease and herbicides. Genetically modified crops are now planted on nearly a quarter of the world’s farm land by some 17.3 million farmers. More than 90% of those farmers are smallholders who harvest a few acres in developing countries.

Society, the economy and the environment have benefited enormously from GM crops. India has flipped from cotton importer to exporter because of insect-resistant cotton. Herbicide-tolerant GM crops have stimulated no-tillage farming, reducing soil erosion and greenhouse gas emissions. Insect-resistant GM crops have cut insecticide sprayings by more than 25%—and as much as sevenfold in some parts of India. In developing countries, GM crops have helped ensure food security and bolster incomes for farmers, allowing parents to focus more resources on other priorities, such as educating their children.

Such remarkable achievements are only the beginning. Dozens of better GM crops are in the pipeline from companies, universities and public agencies around the world. Crops in development include virus-resistant cassava, a starchy root otherwise known as tapioca; nutritionally enriched rice that can help prevent blindness and early death among children; nitrogen-efficient crops that reduce fertilizer runoff; and many more.

These crops will continue to reduce hunger by bringing more bountiful and nutritious harvests. They will also help the environment by mitigating the impact of agriculture by conserving our precious, finite supply of fresh water; freeing up land for other uses, like carbon-absorbing forests; preserving topsoil; and reducing the use of insecticides and herbicides, thereby enhancing biodiversity. (more…)



Saturday, May 11th, 2013


The Wall Street Journal

Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer:

In Defense of Carbon Dioxide

The demonized chemical compound is a boon to plant life and has little correlation with global temperature.

Mr. Schmitt, an adjunct professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was an Apollo 17 astronaut and a former U.S. senator from New Mexico. Mr. Happer is a professor of physics at Princeton University and a former director of the office of energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy

Of all of the world’s chemical compounds, none has a worse reputation than carbon dioxide. Thanks to the single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control of energy production, the conventional wisdom about carbon dioxide is that it is a dangerous pollutant. That’s simply not the case. Contrary to what some would have us believe, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit the increasing population on the planet by increasing agricultural productivity.

The cessation of observed global warming for the past decade or so has shown how exaggerated NASA’s and most other computer predictions of human-caused warming have been—and how little correlation warming has with concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. As many scientists have pointed out, variations in global temperature correlate much better with solar activity and with complicated cycles of the oceans and atmosphere. There isn’t the slightest evidence that more carbon dioxide has caused more extreme weather.

The current levels of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, approaching 400 parts per million, are low by the standards of geological and plant evolutionary history. Levels were 3,000 ppm, or more, until the Paleogene period (beginning about 65 million years ago). For most plants, and for the animals and humans that use them, more carbon dioxide, far from being a “pollutant” in need of reduction, would be a benefit. This is already widely recognized by operators of commercial greenhouses, who artificially increase the carbon dioxide levels to 1,000 ppm or more to improve the growth and quality of their plants. (more…)



Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

April 28, 2013

Government as Entropy

By Daniel Payne

On May 15th, 1862, the thirty-seventh Congress passed into law the creation of the United States Department of Agriculture. Its purpose, as the law explained, was “to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture in the most general and comprehensive sense of that word, and to procure, propagate, and distribute among the people new and valuable seeds and plants.”

How charming; how quaint. Over one hundred and fifty years later, the USDA is still going strong; from its humble beginnings; it now commands hundreds of billions of dollars in Federal funds and more than 100,000 personnel. What is it doing with all that manpower, and all that cash? Is it spreading “useful information” about agriculture? Is it passing out “new and valuable seeds and plants?” Are we getting the most bang for our agricultural buck?

Er, not quite, or rather not merely. As came to light this week, the USDA has distributed a flyer that assures Mexican immigrants that they can acquire food stamp benefits for their children without proper documentation — that is to say, illegal immigrants may still be eligible for an EBT card. The news is hardly surprising; what’s remarkable is that the USDA is actively advertising it.

But that’s what happens to bureaucracy over time. The USDA was founded on a relatively simple set of principles: promote American agriculture. That was it; that was pretty much its whole raison d’être. In one hundred and fifty years it apparently learned a few new tricks, the least of which is teaching people how to live off the public dole. The USDA now boasts an Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, an Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and an Economic Research Service, to name a few of its bureaucratic functions; it manages offices of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Tribal Relations, Communications, Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the Executive Secretariat, and many others; it hath pronounced on the “Harmonized Tariff Schedule” and “International Phyosanitary Standards” and lots of other fascinating topics.

How much of this is “useful information?” about agriculture? How much of it is regulatory folderol? (more…)



Monday, April 29th, 2013

April 25, 2013

U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim


EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:  On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.

The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud.

In the winter of 2010, after a decade of defending the government against bias claims by Hispanic and female farmers, Justice Department lawyers seemed to have victory within their grasp.

Ever since the Clinton administration agreed in 1999 to make $50,000 payments to thousands of black farmers, the Hispanics and women had been clamoring in courtrooms and in Congress for the same deal. They argued, as the African-Americans had, that biased federal loan officers had systematically thwarted their attempts to borrow money to farm.

But a succession of courts — and finally the Supreme Court — had rebuffed their pleas. Instead of an army of potential claimants, the government faced just 91 plaintiffs. Those cases, the government lawyers figured, could be dispatched at limited cost.

They were wrong.

On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.

The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud.

“I think a lot of people were disappointed,” said J. Michael Kelly, who retired last year as the Agriculture Department’s associate general counsel. “You can’t spend a lot of years trying to defend those cases honestly, then have the tables turned on you and not question the wisdom of settling them in a broad sweep.”

The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department. But an examination by The New York Times shows that it became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees. In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion. (more…)



Sunday, January 6th, 2013



Friday, August 10th, 2012


RAHN: Irrational infatuation with biofuels

Lawmakers drive up cost of food and energy

By Richard Rahn

The Washington Times

Monday, July 23, 2012

EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:  Politicians fail or do not wish to understand that both food and energy markets are caloric markets. The chairman of Nestle, the world’s largest food company, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, notes, “The only difference is that with the food market you need 2,500 calories per person per day, whereas in the energy market you need 50,000 calories per person.” He adds: “Most of the world’s sugar production now goes into making biofuels. It takes about 4,600 liters of water to produce one liter of pure ethane oil if it comes from sugar.” The basic point is that it is economic madness to be using large amounts of what could be food and massive amounts of water to produce relatively little biofuel when the world is awash in much cheaper oil and gas if only it were allowed to be produced.

Are you upset about rapidly rising food costs and high gas prices? You can thank members of Congress and the administration for this situation. Much of the United States is in the midst of a major drought. That’s not the fault of the political class, but those folks have made the consequences of the drought far worse for the entire world.

First, the facts: Corn and soybeans are the biggest U.S. grain crops and are used in many of the foods that almost everyone consumes each day. Congress subsidized and mandated the use of ethanol in motor fuel. Currently, about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is used in the production of ethanol. Corn prices rose as a result of the government creating an artificial, additional demand. As a result of higher corn prices, many farmers grew more corn and fewer other crops, such as wheat, which, in turn, caused the prices of those other crops to rise because of lower production. (more…)



Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
The Wall Street Journal

  • June 20, 2012

Food Stamp Fiasco

The Senate refuses to cut $20 billion out of $770 billion.

The next time someone moans about Washington “austerity,” tell them about the Senate’s food stamp votes on Tuesday. Democrats and a few Republicans united to block even modest reform in a welfare program that has exploded in the last decade and is set to spend $770 billion in the next 10 years.

Yes, $770 billion on a single program. And you wonder why the U.S. had its credit-rating downgraded?

When the food stamp program began in the 1970s, it was designed to help about 1 of 50 Americans who were in severe financial distress. But thanks to eligibility changes first by President George W. Bush as part of the 2002 farm bill and then by President Obama in the 2008 stimulus, food stamps are becoming the latest middle-class entitlement.

A record 44.7 million people received food stamps in fiscal 2011, up from 28.2 million as recently as 2008. The cost has more than doubled in that same period, to $78 billion, and is on track to account for 78% of farm bill spending over the next decade. One in seven Americans now qualifies.

Once there was a stigma to going on the dole, and it was seen as a last resort. But now the Agriculture Department runs radio and TV ads prodding people to get the free food, as in a recent campaign that says food stamps will help you lose weight. A federal website boasts about strategies that have “increased program participation” with special emphasis on Hispanics because “our data show that many low-income Latinos simply don’t apply for [food stamps] even though they’re eligible.”

In the 1990s Bill Clinton boasted that welfare reform took Americans off the dole. The Obama Administration boasts about how many it has added.

Enter Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions, who proposed reforms to limit the worst excesses. One proposal would have established a federal asset test to ensure that food stamps aren’t going to families that may not have an income but have tens of thousands of dollars in savings or may even live in a million-dollar home. Some 39 states have no real asset test for food stamps, which means wealthy families without anyone in the job market are eligible, and 27 have gross-income limits that are above 130% of the federal poverty guidelines.

That amendment lost 56-43, with every Democrat except Missouri’s Claire McCaskill opposing it. New England Republicans Scott Brown, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and Nevada’s Dean Heller joined the antireformers.


Associated PressA sign outside of a store in Sioux Falls, S.D., tells customers that food stamps are welcome. (more…)



Thursday, April 26th, 2012



Saturday, March 24th, 2012



Friday, February 10th, 2012
The Wall Street Journal

  • FEBRUARY 9, 2012, 9:51 A.M. ET


The Catholic church learns the true meaning of Obama’s ‘transformative’ presidency.


  • EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:  Older Americans have sought for years to drop out of Medicare and contract for their own health insurance. They cannot without forfeiting their Social Security payments. They effectively are locked in. Nor can the poor escape Medicaid, even as the care it gives them degrades. Farmers, ranchers and loggers struggled for years to protect their livelihoods beneath uncompromising interpretations of federal environmental laws. They, too, had to comply. University athletic programs were ground up by the U.S. Education Department’s rote, forced gender balancing of every sport offered.

    With the transformers, it never stops. In September, the Obama Labor Department proposed rules to govern what work children can do on farms. After an outcry from rural communities over the realities of farm traditions, the department is now reconsidering a “parental exemption.” Good luck to the farmers.

Pope John Paul II, surveying from his seat in the eternal hereafter the battle between the American Catholic Church and the Obama administration over mandated contraception services, must be permitting himself a sad smile. The pope knew more than most about the innate tensions between the state and its citizens.

The Obamaites will object that it is unfair to liken their government to the Communist Party of Poland. That is not the point. What the former Karol Wojtyla knew is that any state will claim benevolence on behalf of doing whatever it thinks it needs to do in pursuit of its goals.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney invoked the good in defense of the Obama law’s universal reach: “The administration decided—the president agrees with this decision—that we need to provide these services that have enormous health benefits for American women and that the exemption that we carved out is appropriate.” (more…)

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