farming

Drew and Joan Norman have been producing organic vegetables on 60 acres just north of Baltimore since 1983. On a recent spring day, signs of another new season at One Straw Farm were everywhere: seedlings in the greenhouse waiting to be transplanted, asparagus ready to be picked, tiny leaves of red- and green-leaf lettuce sprouting out of the ground — and rows and rows of plastic covering the ground on each field.

Electric cars and solar panels are the most visible signs of California's ambitious climate change policies. Now the state is setting its sights on a lower-tech way to cut carbon emissions: soil.

It's spending millions of dollars to help farmers grow plants, which absorb carbon and help move it into the soil where it can be stored long-term. This makes California home to some of the first official "carbon farmers" in the country.

Not that almond grower Jose Robles thinks of himself that way.

President Trump spoke to the centennial gathering of the American Farm Bureau Federation Monday, cultivating ties to rural voters who were a key factor in his 2016 election.

"I'm proud to be a great friend of the farmer," Trump said, addressing the group's convention for the second year in a row.

The president drew applause as he recounted administration efforts to reduce regulation and save the very wealthiest farmers from the estate tax.

Florida’s citrus industry still contributes an estimated $8 billion a year to the state economy. That’s despite its longtime battle against greening - a bacterial disease that sours the fruit and is fatal to the trees.

California voters will soon decide whether to ban the sale of meat and eggs from farm animals raised in cages. A November ballot measure, Proposition 12, would require more spacious digs for pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens. It applies to animals in California and to those raised elsewhere for products sold in the Golden State.

If you're experiencing a bit of déjà vu right now, it makes sense.

Citrus Growers Get A Dose Of Good News

Oct 12, 2018

A year after Hurricane Irma ravaged Florida’s citrus industry, growers are on pace to slightly surpass their production from two years ago.

Scientists think they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by tweaking the food that cows eat. A recent experiment from the University of California, Davis suggests that adding seaweed to cattle feed can dramatically decrease their emissions of the potent gas methane.

CAROL VANHOOK / CREATIVE COMMONS VIA FLICKR

The Florida citrus industry has experienced its worst harvest season since World War II as it continues to recover from Hurricane Irma.   

Orange production is off more than 34 percent from the last growing season, according to the News Service of Florida, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest forecast numbers show no improvement in that figure over the last month. 

Amy Green / WMFE

Steve Messam describes his city, Belle Glade, as having two main exports:

"Sugar," he said, "and wide receivers."

Local lore has it that National Football League standouts -- including Super Bowl-winning wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Santonio Holmes -- hone their speed by chasing rabbits through burning fields, as controlled fires strip sugarcane of excess leaves in preparation for the harvest.

Dave Chapman and dozens of other longtime organic farmers packed a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board in Jacksonville, Fla., this week. It was their last-ditch effort to strip the organic label from a tide of fluid-fed, "hydroponic" greenhouse-grown vegetables that they think represent a betrayal of true organic principles.

A Jewish farming couple from Canada says it has shepherded the sheep of the bible back to the Holy Land after centuries in exile.

With donations from Jewish and Christian supporters, and some help from the Israeli government, Jenna and Gil Lewinsky have airlifted 119 furry members of the Jacob Sheep breed from their farm in Abbotsford, British Columbia, to Israel.

USGS, via Wikimedia Commons

For two decades, Florida has had an annual limit on how much phosphorous can flow out of the Everglades Agricultural Area -- a region of farmland south of Lake Okeechobee. Farmers and sugar-growers must release at least 25 percent less phosphorous than they did before the limit.

 

Until this year, farmers haven’t had much trouble making this goal, which was established in 1996 by the Everglades Forever Act. They have a near-perfect record of exceeding the 25 percent reduction standard -- often by as much as 40 percentage points.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

This December has been one of the wettest on record for South Florida—and while it’s been a couple of days since the hard rains let up, there’s still standing water in fields across the Homestead area.

From the side of the road, you can see yellow squash plants, wilting and submerged in mud. Soft fungus and the pockmarks of rot scar the vegetables.

02/09/15 - On the next Topical Currents we discuss the future of organic farming, sustainable agriculture and how the common lentil can help.

Oranges Prevail In Florida Despite Greening

Oct 13, 2014
Creative Commons via Flickr / Carol VanHook (https://flic.kr/p/jyE2Sb)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its latest citrus projections for the season, with orange production up for the first time in the past three years. The state will produce an estimated 108 million boxes of oranges, which is a three percent increase from last year’s 104.6 million boxes.

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