Agriculture

Australia gives more money to drought-hit farmers
September 25, 2007 07:39 AM - Reuters

The Australian government on Tuesday announced an extra A$714 million ($621 million) to help farmers survive a record-breaking drought.

About 65 percent of Australia's viable agricultural land is currently in drought, with 23,000 farming families on some form of drought relief payments.

Frog deformities blamed on farm and ranch runoff
September 24, 2007 07:49 PM - Will Dunham, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Horrific deformities in frogs are the result of a cascade of events that starts when nitrogen and phosphorus from farming and ranching bleed into lakes and ponds, researchers said on Monday.

These nutrients from fertilizers and animal waste create dramatic changes in aquatic ecosystems that help a certain type of parasitic flatworm that inflicts these deformities on North American frogs, researchers said.

"You can get five or six extra limbs. You can get no hind limbs. You can get all kinds of really bizarre, sick and twisted stuff," Pieter Johnson, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

Offer Your Guests and Staff the Best Coffee: Fair Trade Certified
September 24, 2007 01:20 PM - Glenn Hasek, Green Lodging News

There is a pretty good chance you are drinking coffee while reading this column. I am one of those rare individuals who has never had a cup of coffee. Never. That’s probably a good thing with the price of java rising faster than petroleum. Speaking of which, did you know that coffee is the world’s second most valuable traded commodity? It is just behind petroleum. According to San Francisco-based Global Exchange, coffee is the United States’ largest food import.

The United States primarily purchases coffee from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Vietnam. It also buys coffee from Indonesia, Costa Rica, Peru, El Salvador, Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, Uganda, Thailand, Nicaragua, India, and Papua New Guinea. Take another look at the caffeinated concoction swirling before you. It traveled a long way to get to your coffee cup.

Worldwatch Perspective: With the 2007 Farm Bill, the Local Goes Global
September 24, 2007 08:34 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

The 2007 Farm Bill, a critical piece of legislation that highlights America’s agricultural priorities, has been on lawmakers’ agendas this fall. With the authority of the 2002 Bill due to run out by the end of the year, more than 65 proposals put forward by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are in need of extension or reauthorization. The Farm Bill is also seen as evidence of the U.S. government’s commitment to rural areas, and is recognized for its investments in alternative energy sources and food production.

Australia's drought may cut wine vintage by half
September 24, 2007 07:31 AM - Reuters

Australia's drought could cut the 2008 wine grape vintage by more than half, industry groups said on Monday, cutting into a A$3 billion ($2.6 billion) a year export business and possibly forcing hundreds of winemakers out of business.

The 2008 vintage is likely to fall to between 800,000 tones and 1.3 million tones, compared with a normal seasonal crop of about 1.9 million tones, according to Wine Grape Growers and Winemakers' Federation of Australia.

Palm prices seen falling if U.S. cuts biofuel subsidy
September 23, 2007 11:43 AM - Reuters

PANAJI, India (Reuters) - Global palm oil prices, which have been on the boil for the last couple of months, could ease from January if the United States cuts incentives it gives to biofuel producers, a leading analyst said.

"Palm oil prices are likely to reach 2,000 to 2,100 ringgit per tonne by March, down from the current levels of around 2,600 ringgit per tonne," James Fry, managing director of London-based LMC International, told reporters at a conference in India.

Nutrient levels in conventional foods declining
September 21, 2007 01:44 PM -

The title of a newly-released report from The Organic Center tells a sad but timely story: “Still No Free Lunch: Nutrient levels in US food supply eroded by pursuit of high yields.”

Bt corn more susceptible to aphids
September 21, 2007 01:38 PM -

Research into the environmental impact of genetically modified crops appears to be accelerating. Among several recent investigations, a Swiss study published in the journal PloS ONE has documented greater susceptibility to aphids among GM maize lines than among their conventional counterparts.

Amid Big Promises, Plans Proceed For First GMO Foodcrop Release In India
September 21, 2007 12:58 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

India - India is about to serve as host to a newly developed GMO eggplant, the first ever GMO foodcrop for India. The plant has been genetically modified to contain a pesticide that promoters hope will make it resistant to the fruit and shoot borer. Researchers admit, many questions about the new GMO food remain unanswered. No human trials have been conducted in the US or India. 

 

Australia To Give Farmers More Drought Help
September 21, 2007 07:41 AM - Reuters

CANBERRA  - The Australian government will provide more drought aid for farmers, Prime Minister John Howard said on Friday, after a report showed dwindling water inflows in the nation's food bowl around the Murray-Darling rivers.  Farmers had hoped early winter rains from April to June would mark the end of six years of drought, but low rainfall and high temperatures in August have led to below average flows into the river system, where water storage remains near record lows

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