Even many years after being abandoned, plant diversity of former agricultural sites is still incomplete compared to undisturbed sites. Agriculture is considered a major disturbance...
Federal and private funding to support climate research at U.S. land-grant universities doesn't match scale of agriculture's impact.
We know industrial farming needs to change. But regenerative agriculture may not be the transformation our global food system needs.
Federal funds aimed at helping agriculture address the impacts of climate change must not be raided to fund agriculture as a whole, Democratic senators say. The move comes as Congressional Republicans suggest defunding agricultural conservation programs entirely. “I strongly oppose any measures that would essentially cannibalize Inflation Reduction Act conservation funding in order to pay...
A new study finds that drought is costing California’s agriculture industry billions. Meanwhile, Russian strikes knocked Ukraine’s electricity offline, and the Biden administration approved a new oil export terminal. This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Sign up...
Vilsack was there to highlight the Department of Agriculture’s progress on several long-stalled rules around enforcing organic standards and Origin of Livestock rules for dairy. In addition, Vilsack mentioned that the long-anticipated animal welfare rule will likely be finalized by late summer or early fall. But the biggest announcements were focused on opening up new […] The post In DC, Organic Ag Gets a Funding Boost but Is Missing from the Climate Conversation appeared first on Civil Eats.
They've turned the food system into a cash cow for the powerful few by undermining small farmers and encouraging operators to “get big or get out.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has allocated more than $3 billion to help farmers transition to practices that sequester carbon and reduce emissions. But some researchers claim the program can’t measure emissions accurately and is unlikely to achieve its climate goals.
Yesterday, the agency took a big step toward refining its definition of that term by announcing a major initiative intended to improve the data it uses to guide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and make farms more resilient to climate change. “It is important that we embrace the notion of climate-smart agriculture […] The post The USDA Plan to Better Measure Agriculture’s Impact on the Climate Crisis appeared first on Civil Eats.
Will the legislation help turn agriculture, a climate problem, into a climate solution?
Intact forests are important climate regulators and harbors of biodiversity, but they are rapidly disappearing. Agriculture is commonly considered to be the major culprit behind...
“Let paraquat be your plow,” a 1972 Chevron advertisement in No Till Farmer, the leading resource on no-till methods, urged soil-conscious farmers. The chemical giant’s marketing edict turned into practice. “Basically, no tillage means substituting the contact herbicide Paraquat for your plow and other tillage tools, in the preparation of your seed bed,” reads an […] The post Paraquat, the Deadliest Chemical in US Agriculture, Goes on Trial appeared first on Civil Eats.
Report sponsored by some of the largest food and farming businesses finds pace of shift to sustainable practices too slowFood companies and governments must come together immediately to change the world’s agricultural practices or risk “destroying the planet”, according to the sponsors of a report by some of the largest food and farming businesses released on Thursday.The report, from a task force within the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), a network of global CEOs focused on climate issues established by King Charles III, is being released days before the start of the United Nation’s Cop27 climate summit in Egypt. Continue reading...
Republicans have already vowed to strip climate funding from the bill.
This story was originally published by Grist and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. This year’s midterm elections will decide the direction of a massive legislative package meant to tackle the nation’s agricultural problems. Republican Senate and House members are already vowing they won’t pack it with climate “buzzwords.” Roughly every five years, lawmakers pass The Farm […]
Lisa Charpilloz Hanson was deputy director of the agency from 2005 to 2021.
Past Presentation | What happens when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market. From farm fields to government meetings to industry trade shows, director Shelley Rogers shows us the hidden costs of conventional agriculture. We also see how our health, the health of our planet, and the agricultural needs of our society are all intimately connected.
In this week’s Field Report, the WIC program faces funding cuts, crop insurance costs rise as the climate changes, and more. The post Changes to WIC Benefits Would Cut Food Access for Millions of Parents appeared first on Civil Eats.
I held her as she wept into my shirt while my lab mate ran across the coffee field to get tissues. We were standing on a coffee farm 7,500 feet above sea level in the middle of the Jamaican Blue Mountains. Before she broke down, the woman was telling us about her life as a farmer. Weeping was commonplace throughout my interviews in Jamaica. Farmers told me how fertilizer prices skyrocketed because Russia is the world’s top fertilizer exporter and the Russian invasion of Ukraine made it nearly impossible for them to afford the increased costs. I also heard stories of how unattended rural roads make it impossible to maintain vehicles. However, during this interview this woman was one of a few who told us about a more local economic issue: farmers have no control over the value of their crops because local corporations control the market. She explained how for farmers to produce enough to make a living, they need fertilizer and pesticides, which are expensive. Agrochemical companies spend billions of dollars to ensure that industrial farms can maintain a crop year-round —so that Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans get from a farmer’s bush in Portland Parish of Jamaica and into your hands at your local grocery store, even in the middle of February. But the labor of small-scale farmers is not calculated into these companies’ profit margins, leaving the people who grow those coffee beans crying on the shoulder of anyone who would listen. The global food system is broken. We have seen the latest examples wreak havoc across the world this past year: wheat production in Russia declined with the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; Hawai’i’s governor wants to grow more food on-island because recent studies have shown that if they were to be hit by a natural disaster, they would only have three days’ worth of food as they rely on imports for survival. Meanwhile, industrial agriculture emits one-third of the world’s climate-warming gases. But the biggest example of how broken the system is: small-scale farmers, which produce more than 70% of the food we eat, are often the populations with the most malnourished individuals living in absolute poverty.This essay is also available in SpanishIf humans want to withstand upcoming and ongoing climate disasters, our food system needs to change. It is time to shift away from industrial agriculture. We need to produce our food in ways that give back power to those who produce, distribute and consume food so they can change and design the mechanisms and policies that govern food production and distribution. You have the power to change what happens to your food before it's on your plate or in your cup by integrating a relationship with farmers and the land around you into your daily lifestyle.How has agriculture changed throughout history? The Jamaican woman I interviewed at the Blue Mountains reminded me of my history with agriculture. My grandparents were sharecroppers in the deep South during the Jim Crow era. Throughout my life, they explained they were forced to produce crops that white landowners wanted to sell in markets, and, as a result, my family had little to no control over what they ate or how much money they made. Millions of African-Americans were cogs in the machine of what we in academia know as the industrial agriculture food regime. A food regime is, in simple terms, how food is produced in a certain society during a specific period. For example, between 1870-1914, tropical fruits, vegetables and crops like sugar were shipped from colonies to Europe, where a new industrial class was growing. That era was called the colonial food regime. But as we approached 1945, industrialized countries, also known as the Global North, pushed former colonies (the Global South) toward industrialization, injecting into their fields with crops like wheat, corn, or soy –and the pesticides needed to help them grow to industrialized standards – and the use of agricultural technology, such as tractors. This led us to today’s food regime: agriculture is characterized by the overuse of fertilizers, large extensions of single crops known as monocultures, and, most importantly, pesticides. It’s the era of the corporate food regime. Jamaica is a prime example. The third-largest island of the Greater Antilles, there are 14 parishes in Jamaica, of which 13 produce coffee. The high mountains crossing the landscape of the Caribbean archipelago nation infuse a uniquely earthy and herbaceous flavor to Jamaican coffee beans. Due to this limited production and high demand, this coffee is also significantly more costly and sold internationally by large-scale companies. In Jamaica and elsewhere, this food regime is taking an enormous toll on the environment, from polluting waterways to endangering public health through disease outbreaks and pesticide exposure, to exacerbating climate change. Industrial crops require fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, and other intensive materials to kill all other organisms that might touch our food. Cattle production requires clearing large swaths of land, and all plant life that would have been sucking CO2 from the surrounding atmosphere is gone and replaced with livestock. As a result, one-third of the world’s carbon emissions come from agriculture.What do the farmers think about industrial agriculture? After the weeping subsided, the woman I interviewed had a lot to say about the Jamaican food system. She wasn’t the only one. When I sat down with farmers of all ages across the Jamaican Blue Mountains to understand the choices they had made and where they saw themselves in the grand scheme of the global food system, I realized many of them had family ties to agriculture that reached back generations. They told me how they prefer small, local business owners to buy their crops because they treat them better than larger corporations. Mr. Brown, a coffee farmer with 40 years of experience, said of the small business owner he works with?, “He’s a small farmer like us, and he knows the benefit of it, so he pays us more than the other people that come in to buy would buy for, you know?”Agents of Change in Environmental Justice · Alexa White on supporting small-scale farmers Walking with them through their farms, I saw that the crops growing alongside the coffee were not foods that they would take home to eat but rather foods that they needed to sell for export. Yet that diversity did not bring in enough additional money. Most of the companies, mostly led by non-Jamaican men, that buy their crops are only interested in coffee production. Even when these companies would buy other crops, they would pay them a minuscule amount compared to what they would make from the coffee on the international market. If you compare the prices of the fertilizers, manure, and other inputs needed to produce enough coffee to satisfy these companies with their rising costs, they would probably not be able to last until next year, farmers told me. Mrs. Crew, a third-generation farmer, explained, “It’s giving us a hard time, so I say maybe that is what is going to push small farmers out of the business.” Small-scale farmers are stuck in limbo, as they need to produce enough food to sell to the companies that control the market, which forces them to use expensive inputs that make it possible to get the crop yields the buying companies require. Profit margins are small –and farmers struggle to put enough food on their table. As a result of this unjust arrangement, half of the world’s undernourished population (about 407 million people), 75% of Africa’s malnourished children, and most people living in absolute poverty live on small farms. That means that those living on the nearly 500 million small farms on this planet do not seem to benefit from their contributions to the world’s food security.What can be done to help small farmers and tackle hunger?For years now, sustainable development circles have debated changing the agricultural system as an urgent task if humanity is to have a livable future. A lot of attention has been given to pushing small-scale farms to increase production to “feed the world’s growing population.” And yet, small-scale farms already produce enough food to feed the world. Therefore, international initiatives to address world hunger should include small-scale farmers’ perspectives and participation.But that won’t be enough. To drive ourselves away from industrial agriculture we have to embrace the ideals of the food sovereignty movement –a movement that advocates for a food system in which the people who produce, distribute and consume food also control the mechanisms and policies of food production and distribution. It stands in contrast to the present corporate food regime, in which corporations and market institutions control the global food system. Food sovereignty requires us to rethink our relationship with food. It invites us to recognize, for example, how unnatural it is to expect to drink a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee on a cold February morning. A good way to start developing a more intimate relationship with food can be by consuming food from nearby food cooperatives or Community Supported Agriculture systems, which you can find using websites like Local Harvest or the Co-op Directory. Buying your food from Black, Indigenous, or POC-owned farms helps to re-distribute wealth to small-scale farmers.Food is an environmental issue that we encounter every single day, yet as an international society, we chose to ignore the people who help to get food to our table and do nothing to end the oppressive systems impoverishing them. There must be a major shift in how our food systems operate. This can begin with you. This essay was produced through the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice fellowship. Agents of Change empowers emerging leaders from historically excluded backgrounds in science and academia to reimagine solutions for a just and healthy planet.
The Brewers run cattle and grow some alfalfa across 12,000 acres of grassland that’s a combination of owned land, leased tribal land, and federal trust land. This complicated arrangement isn’t unusual for Indigenous producers, who experience unique hurdles such as financial lending discrimination, limited land ownership opportunities, additional governance requirements, and disproportionately high poverty rates […] The post Building a Case for Investment in Regenerative Agriculture on Indigenous Farms appeared first on Civil Eats.
A budget proposal in the House could roll back billions for rural clean energy.
At her 6-acre Sakari Farms outside Bend, Oregon, Schreiner employs traditional ecological knowledge to cultivate regional first foods—foods consumed before European colonialization—and passes that expertise down to Native American youth. The operation started out with an urban nursery growing plants to makes salves, tinctures, oils, and lotions through Schreiner’s company, Sakari Botanicals. In 2018, the […]The post This Oregon Farmer Is Building a New Model for Indigenous Food and Agriculture appeared first on Civil Eats.
TV fans know him from “The Vampire Diaries” and Netflix’s “V Wars,” but now, thanks to his work in Washington, lawmakers know Ian Somerhalder as an advocate for sustainable farming. The performer isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty as he works to break through the partisan gridlock with his new documentary touting the benefits...
By Trevor Herriot From wetlands to emissions, the province is failing when it comes to just about any environmental standard
One of MIT’s five Climate Grand Challenges flagship projects, the Jameel Observatory-CREWSnet project will pilot in Bangladesh and Sudan to help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Increasingly, she has had to contend with extreme weather: early frosts threaten her fall crops. False springs have caused her winter crops to bolt too soon. Rain comes all at once and then not at all. “Over the past 12 years, it does feel like the seasons are getting less predictable,” she said in early […] The post Climate Change Is Walloping US Farms. Can This Farm Bill Create Real Solutions? appeared first on Civil Eats.
Can Danone reach its climate goals without scaling back factory farming?
Developed at SMART, the device can deliver controlled amounts of agrochemicals to specific plant tissues for research and could one day be used to improve crop quality and disease management.
"Regenerative agriculture may not be the transformation our global food system needs"
Sadhguru's campaign points to a real problem, but agricultural advocates say his solutions miss the mark.
During his first few years in the country, Efrain, who has asked that we not use his last name for fear of retaliation from immigration authorities, never felt completely safe or secure in his job. That changed in 2018 when his current employer, a medium-sized Vermont dairy, joined Milk with Dignity, a program that sets […] The post Absent Federal Oversight of Animal Agriculture Safety, States and Others Step Up for Change appeared first on Civil Eats.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Deep Dish, our members-only newsletter. Become a member today and get the next issue in your inbox. “From an observational standpoint, having more perennials in a system makes sense,” said Ebony Murrell, a lead scientist at The Land Institute, a Kansas-based nonprofit that conducts research to […] The post Perennial Crops Boost Biodiversity Both On and Off Farms. Researchers Explain How. appeared first on Civil Eats.
Researchers conduct a cost-benefit analysis of expanded irrigation of corn and soybeans under future climate. With climate change, irrigating more crops in the United States...
Past Presentation | Extending the Link is a student-run documentary team using film as a vehicle for social change. This film tells the story of women in agriculture in Minnesota and Rwanda and illustrates how agriculture serves as a tool to improve community building, nutrition education, and economic development. It is critical for all members of the world to be agents for change in their own communities. The filmmakers hope to generate awareness about the important role women play in global agriculture and how they enhance relationships between consumers and farmers and inspire people to participate in their local food movement.
Tyson, Nestlé, JBS Foods and other food giants should have stricter emissions tracking, experts say
Scott is deeply invested in maintaining healthy soil. She is the fourth generation of her family to ranch the land along the Missouri River east of the Cheyenne River Reservation, and the 125th generation of Lakota peoples to steward the land. Everything on Scott’s ranch, DX Beef, is done a little bit more slowly than […] The post Decolonizing Regenerative Cattle Ranching appeared first on Civil Eats.
The story of America’s “lost crops” shows the reign of corn was not inevitable.
Environmental groups say that large-scale livestock and agriculture operations are largely to blame.
“For the first time during a global climate summit, heads of states of many countries are expected to commit to transforming their food and agricultural systems,” said Patty Fong, the program director of climate at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food (GAFF), during a press conference last week. “In addition, actors from across […] The post Will a Food and Ag Focus at COP28 Distract From the Fossil Fuel Economy? appeared first on Civil Eats.
This interview is an installment of our new series, Faces of the Farm Bill, where we humanize the real-world impacts of ag policy. The first article in the series is an interview with Esperanza Fonseca, a SNAP recipient turned food justice activist. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) is not most lawmakers. Known for his ever-present bowtie […] The post Faces of the Farm Bill: Why Rep. Earl Blumenauer Remains Dedicated to Change appeared first on Civil Eats.
The agriculture and fossil fuel industries are the biggest sources of methane emissions in Australia. Here’s how signing the pledge may affect them.
On World Bee Day, the Costa Rican environmental organization Bloque Verde issued a crucial call for action, demanding greater protection for bees. These invaluable insects are facing a grave threat from toxic products such as fipronil and neonicotinoids, which have caused extensive intoxications, resulting in the loss of millions of bees, irreparable damage to biodiversity, […] The post Protecting Costa Rica’s Bees: Urgent Action Needed appeared first on The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Deep Dish, our award-winning members newsletter. To get the next issue in your inbox—and support our work—become a member today. She came across an opening for pruning and weeding school gardens and other green spaces across New York City’s five boroughs. She got the job. “I just […] The post Re-envisioning New York City’s Green Spaces With Qiana Mickie appeared first on Civil Eats.
As summer heatwaves loom and farmworkers take to the fields, an in-depth report highlights massive gaps in regulations, especially around pesticide use and exposure.
Major cities across the world are being increasingly plagued by severe water shortages. From Bangalore, India to São Paulo, Brazil and even Beijing, China, cities are at risk of drought in the near future. This has been true in South Africa too. Between 2016 and 2018 Cape Town experienced the real possibility of “Day Zero”, […] The post Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ threat concentrated minds appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.
The Northeast Portland project centers a holistic approach to agriculture developed by Native communities centuries ago.
A proposed hydro project in Kauai — the first of its kind in the world — could supply up to a quarter of the island’s power by diverting 4 billion gallons a year from the Waimea River.
Past Presentation | Unbroken Grounds explains the critical role food will play in the next frontier of our efforts to solve the environmental crisis. It explores four areas of agriculture that aim to change our relationship to the land and oceans. Most of our food is produced using methods that reduce biodiversity, decimate soil and contribute to climate change. We believe our food can and should be a part of the solution to the environmental crisis -- grown, harvested and produced in ways that restore our land, water and wildlife. The film tells the story of four groups that are pioneers in the fields of regenerative agriculture, regenerative grazing, diversified crop development and restorative fishing.
Crop insurance puts pistachios, cherries and other vulnerable crops on life-support as rising temperatures threaten California agriculture. The post When Insuring Crops Ensures Climate Mistakes appeared first on .
Past Presentation | The region of La Huerta of Valencia in Spain has some of the world's most fertile soils and consists of a unique environment for both its scenic beauty and its agricultural heritage. In Europe, measures to protect native, nature-rich landscapes have broad public support, but that support rarely extends to agricultural lands, which also entail a cultural heritage seriously threatened by the globalized system of food exploitation. At present, the future of this Mediterranean landscape is at stake.
For years, meat producers have worked furiously behind the scenes to keep meat reduction out of discussions on climate policy. The first draft of the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on climate change mitigation recommended shifting to plant-based diets and agricultural systems. Delegates dispatched by then-Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro—who presided over a mass burning of the Amazon rainforest, in part by beef producers—helped get that phrase removed. The IPPC flinching in the face of lobbying meant that same ambivalence toward agriculture could carry over into that year’s Conference of the Parties for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was focused on establishing a framework to reduce methane emissions: Despite the fact that animal agriculture emits a third of global methane and that it is impossible to meet emissions targets without addressing the food sector, the question of the industry’s contribution to anthropogenic climate change was conspicuously left off the policy menu—even though food options offered to conference attendees were paired with a carbon calculator.The public is well aware, at this point, of fossil fuel lobbyists’ obstructionism on climate policy. We know, for instance, that there were more fossil fuel lobbyists than delegates for any country at COP26, and that the number has increased further at this year’s COP27. It’s harder to run the numbers on those representing the meat industry. Their influence, however, is evident.As criticism of animal agriculture and its contribution to climate change has ramped up in recent years, so has the industry’s counter-offensive.The plan President Biden announced on Friday at this year’s COP27—which to its credit is putting food on the agenda—set specific goals for energy, but was conspicuously vague on agriculture. The president merely said he intended to expand the country’s domestic programs for “climate-smart” agriculture globally—domestic programs that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has previously said would not require any reduction in meat production. This is in line with last year’s methane pledge, which set strict new standards for energy and waste sectors, but approached agriculture “through technology innovation as well as incentives and partnerships” with corporations like Bayer and JBS, a double standard celebrated by meat industry lobbyists. As criticism of animal agriculture and its contribution to climate change has ramped up in recent years, so has the industry’s counter-offensive. Drawing on the playbook developed by the fossil fuel industry during its fifty-year campaign to sow doubt about the role of fossil fuels in climate change, the meat industry is now using dodgy science paired with savvy public relations to convince everyone, from the public through to world leaders, that we should do anything other than the one thing scientists agree we need to do: scale down the meat sector.One of the most effective tactics employed by the meat lobby is the use of creative accounting methods to obscure its climate impact. Because some greenhouse gases are stronger than others, when quantifying emissions, climatologists use a quotient called global warming potential (GWP) to boil everything down to a single figure: carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Since gases like methane contribute to rapid heating but break down in the atmosphere, GWP changes depending on the time frame. For instance, while the global warming potential of methane over 100 years (GWP100) is 28 times that of CO2, over 20 years, methane is approximately 86 times as powerful as CO2. The 100-year figure is what’s typically cited, but many climatologists assert that this downplays the importance of reducing methane and nitrous oxide pollution in the immediate future, as we don’t have a century to stop climate change. Methane’s biggest emitters, including the meat industry, don’t stop there in downplaying methane’s damage. Rather than use the GWP100 figure, which already underestimates heating from methane, they prefer a different one: GWP*. GWP* was developed because although GWP is the universal tool for counting emissions from a country, industry, or company, it doesn’t work well for modeling, since it can’t capture the transience of gases like methane. The new quotient, GWP*, is instead a tool for predicting global temperature change. Since the planet doesn’t heat more when methane levels are stable, the GWP* of a constant methane level is zero. The meat industry quickly realized this meant that as long as methane emissions didn’t rise they could claim they weren’t contributing to global warming, and began lobbying for its use as an accounting metric—not what it was designed for at all. Funneling millions of dollars through backchannels, the animal agribusiness lobby has financed the promotion of GWP* as the new greenhouse gas accounting standard through groups ranging from U.C. Davis’ CLEAR Center to the lobbyists at COP. Challenging the conventional climate calculus not only helps the meat industry to downplay its emissions, but to seed the suspicion that IPCC statistics unfairly malign the industry. The second line of defense that the meat industry has been promoting are technological fixes for the environmental damage caused by livestock. In the case of methane, the industry has rushed to fund research into seaweed-based feed additives for cows, aimed at reducing the methane produced by their digestive systems. But while industry pilot studies estimated the emissions-reduction potential of such additives as high as 80 percent at the feedlot stage, they didn’t mention that this translates to life cycle emissions cuts of only around 9 percent. The industry is quick to drum up positive press to suggest that all it will take to make cows climate-friendly is some algae or methane-capturing masks for cows, but these fixes are far from being widely viable or scalable. In all these cases, the needed environmental improvements can’t be achieved by quick fixes. Yet by aggressively pushing their message to journalists and businesses, the meat industry has prolonged the debate over the environmental sustainability of meat by suggesting that the environmental impacts of animal agriculture aren’t fundamental features, just inconvenient bugs.But perhaps the most egregious tactic of the meat lobby is to sell itself as the solution to the problems it creates. Factory farms and industrial feedlots, by concentrating thousands of animals in confined spaces, also create massive manure lagoons that both generate methane and leech or are outright dumped into waterways, contributing to the so-called dead zones expanding from river deltas. But while scientists stress the need to reduce animal waste, the industry has succeeded in securing lucrative tax exemptions for increasing it, touting the ostensible environmental benefits of refining manure into methane biogas, turning waste into an income stream. Due to successful lobbying, methane digesters have been classified under Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act as renewable energy generation, complete with huge tax credits incentivizing expansion of factory dairies, who have excitedly projected that “milk has become the byproduct of manure production!” Similarly, so-called carbon farming has become a cash cow for the ranching sector. While international panels of experts and even the industry’s own research shows that sequestering carbon in soil can’t persist for any meaningful time-scale, the industry still insists that ranching can become carbon negative with proper management. Carbon credits are now traded like stocks in speculative markets, with both agribusiness and oil backing them as a tool for emissions reduction. The USDA provides carbon credit calculators to assist ranchers in qualifying and buying in—helping them, or whomever buys their credits, to erase their emissions with carbon offsets based on sketchy assumptions and self-reported data. Like seaweed additives, carbon farming generates reams of good press for the industry. And by greenwashing their operations as climate solutions, the meat and dairy sectors can frame their critics as hostile not just to their industries, but to climate progress itself.In this battle over policy and public opinion, scientific claims are wielded as weapons and the industry is itself a weaponsmith, funding the research and scientists that fight in its corner. Both the tobacco industry and the fossil fuel industry have spent heavily on scientists and experts who would push out research and arguments to defend their interests—sometimes even using the same experts. The meat industry—which starts with the advantage of already having close links with land-grant university agriculture and animal science programs—invests in research under the banner of reducing its carbon footprint. Yet this research is also used—arguably, designed, in fact—to challenge critique in the court of public opinion. One recent bombshell investigation from Greenpeace Unearthed, for example, detailed how a livestock feed lobbying group conceived and financed a communications center at U.C. Davis and used it to spread disinformation on the meat industry’s impact on climate. On the global stage, the livestock sector wields considerable influence within international organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which promotes the industry pursuing public-private partnerships for agribusiness development, unlike other UN organizations’ approach to energy.In 2017, industry finance overtook public grants to fund the majority of research in the United States for the first time in almost a century.This problem goes beyond one single scholar or even one single academic center. In 2017, industry finance overtook public grants to fund the majority of research in the United States for the first time in almost a century. The corporate long game to supplant public science has succeeded in transforming not only the output, but the culture of academia. Researchers become reluctant to criticize even the most egregious science corruption scandals when they know their own grants come from private institutions as well. This pattern erodes public trust in scientific institutions, which in turn benefits industry: By creating space for uncertainty, corporations funding misinformation about their products can then demand seats at the political table and the representation of “both sides” in media.When the science became unequivocal that cigarettes and their second-hand smoke were carcinogenic, the tobacco industry sought to challenge these findings, funding its own research and lobbying to cast doubt on the emerging scientific consensus. This delay in meaningful regulation likely caused millions of avoidable deaths. These tactics of delay and agnotology—deliberate ignorance, rather than the organic absence of knowledge—were picked up by the fossil fuel industry, which has regularly employed lobbyists and scientists to challenge the consensus on the role of fossil fuels in driving climate change. These ongoing delay tactics have helped prevent binding regulation and set us on a course to miss the target of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees. The historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway dub those who challenge scientific consensus and muddy the public discussion on behalf of harmful industries “merchants of doubt.” Their game is not necessarily outright denial, but active, perpetual equivocation. The goal is to drag out the debate and introduce doubt where there shouldn’t be in order to defend the status quo.Amid global climate and extinction crises driven in part by animal agriculture, the meat merchants of doubt have thoroughly succeeded at this goal: Their interests have infiltrated the highest echelons of global politics and their ideas have taken root in public discussions about the food system. In recent years, activists have made progress identifying and abating the influence of the fossil fuel industry from media and academia—through campaigning for divestment, tracking political contributions, demanding news coverage, and more. Now we must do the same for meat. The good news is that we know their strategy. The bad news is that we’re running out of time.
Past Presentation | Fleming's Legacy tells the story of agricultural entrepreneur David Thomas Fleming and his role as an early conservationist on Maui. The film also shares the efforts of his granddaughter and others to carry on his work in the native plant arboretum that bears his name.
Now Playing | After his father's death, Yusuf goes back to his village, which he has not been to for years, and learns that a geothermal company wants to buy his father's agricultural lands and drill a well. He wants to solve problems without disrespecting his father's memory, but things don't go as he hoped.
Victoria is planning to engineer wetlands so more water can go to agriculture. It’s not a good plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Deep Dish, our members-only newsletter. Become a member today and get the next issue directly in your inbox. In 2020, Common Ground received just under $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to train entrepreneurs to grow and distribute food in low-income areas. In 2022, […] The post This Farm Bill Really Matters. We Explain Why. appeared first on Civil Eats.