Farming

FARMING

The Earth's average surface temperature has increased by 1.5 °F (0.83 °C) since 1880 with the last years being the hottest. As global warming accelerates, so does extreme weather, which challenges farmers with droughts, floods, and pests. Extreme weather is the cause of 90% of crop losses in the US. And, now there are the trade wars hurtling down on soybeans.

Some fast facts:

In 2019, there were approximately 2 million farms in the US, down from 6.8 million in 1935.

Farmers and ranchers make up 1.3% of the U.S. labor force.

Farming contributes more than $100 billion to the US economy.

This FARMING section will explore how farmers are shifting their practices as they search for solutions, which protect both the climate and their ability to feed people. They are looking to the future for both new technologies and old traditions, such as regenerative agriculture to grow dying topsoil. They are re-examining the methods utilized to ease work and gain greater yields over the last seventy-five years and asking if they need to be reassessed.

Consumers are also learning. Many don’t have a full understanding of how big a role agribusiness has played in the decline of small farming communities. It is increasingly important for us to “know our farmer” and, useful for us to understand how decisions on trade can overnight decimate a rural farming community.

CURRENT NEWS

Solar Storm Crashes GPS Systems Used by Some Farmers, Stalling Planting

By Livia Albeck-Ripka 05/13/24
The powerful geomagnetic storm that cast the northern lights’ vivid colors across the Northern Hemisphere over the weekend also caused some navigational systems in tractors and other farming equipment to break down at the height…
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Solar Panels Spread Across America’s Heartland as Farmers Chase Stable Returns

By Ilena Peng, Michael Hirtzer, and Will Wade 03/07/24
For Stuart Woolf, who grows wine grapes, almonds and other specialty crops in California, solar power is a necessary compromise as farming gets more challenging. Woolf, who has 1,200 acres of panels on his farm…
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The farming conundrum

By Manuela Andreoni 02/29/24
Two news stories this week — one that made headlines, and one that got less attention — point to the fiendish difficulty of reinventing agriculture to reduce its heavy toll on the climate. The first…
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These farmworkers created America’s strongest workplace heat rules

By Nicolás Rivero and Eva Marie Uzcategui 02/17/24
The sweet, earthy scent of tomatoes hangs in the air as a crew of 44 workers speeds through rows of vines. They fill 32-pound buckets with fruit, then deliver them to co-workers waiting on the…
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Farmers get billions in government aid. Some of that money could also fight climate change

By Elizabeth Weise 11/09/23
Over the next five years, millions of dollars could be funneled into efforts to help farmers rotate their crops, preserve their soil, improve how their animals are fed and, along the way, significantly reduce the…
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The 20 Farming Families Who Use More Water From the Colorado River Than Some Western States

By Nat Lash and Janet Wilson 11/09/23
Tens of millions of people — and millions of acres of farmland — rely on the Colorado River’s water. But as its supply shrinks, these farmers get more water from the river than entire states.…
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Later frosts could make new crops possible in Alaska. But climate change brings challenges, too.

By Anna Canny 10/25/23
In October, fall gives way to winter for much of Alaska. But each year, the first frost is arriving later and later. That could be a boon for Alaska farmers.
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A bad apple season has some U.S. fruit growers planning for life in a warmer world

By Mara Hoplamazian 10/20/23
The alarm takes the temperature out in their 30-acre orchard and blares loudly if it dips too low. That Thursday night in Concord, New Hampshire, it was about 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature kept getting…
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Warming Could Make Northern Wilderness Ripe for Farming, Study Finds

10/20/23
The expansion of farmland is the main cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss globally. And climate climate could exacerbate those losses, according to a new study.
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How Crop Insurance Prevents Some Farmers From Adapting to Climate Change

By Grey Moran 09/20/23
Chris Grotegut has earned a reputation in the High Plains of Texas for farming practices that have helped replenish the region’s depleted aquifer. Just over a decade ago, he began converting his 11,000-acre farm to…
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The debate over crop insurance, as climate change drives the price up

By Frank Morris 09/14/23
Climate change is making insuring crops more risky, but the federally subsidized crop insurance program's payouts are up 500%. With a new Farm Bill coming, critics want to rethink the program.
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Creating a heat standard for vulnerable farmworkers could take years

By Eva Tesfaye 09/06/23
Farmworkers are particularly vulnerable to the extreme heat that's affected so many areas of the country including the Midwest. The push for a federal heatprotection policy is slow.
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KEY RESOURCES

Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) participation

05/03/23
Since its inception in the 1930s, the Federal Crop Insurance Program evolved into a key Federal support program for agriculture in the United States. The USDA, Risk Management Agency (RMA) oversees FCIP and offers agricultural…

Inflation Reduction Act Funding for Rural Development

04/06/23
In August, Congress passed the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic legislative package known as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to reduce energy costs for families and create thousands of good-paying jobs for people across rural America. IRA…

 Regenerative Farmers of America

12/09/22
Find a regenerative farm near you to support or learn.

Where Rice Grows

12/05/22
Each year, American rice farmers sustainably grow roughly 20 billion pounds of rice in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. Half of the rice crop is consumed in the United States, accounting for 80…

Regenerative Agriculture 101: Everything You Need to Know

11/07/22
Quick Key Facts In regenerative agriculture, the physical, biological and chemical integrity of the soil is preserved through minimal disturbance. Indigenous cultures maintain and have maintained a regenerative relationship with their natural environments, including the…

The Highest Level of Integrity for Regenerative Agriculture

09/20/22
Land to Market is working with brands around the world to heal the planet by regenerating its grasslands. We are giving a voice to the land & are the world’s first verified regenerative sourcing solution…

The nutrient density content in our food has dropped over 60%

07/13/22
Soilworks Invests, operates and incubates companies that will power the Regenerative Agriculture Revolution.

Soil Carbon Moonshot

04/18/22
3 Soil Carbon Moonshot Executive Summary Investments from the US federal government have shaped the notion of modern farming known across the country. For decades, the agriculture sector benefited from robust public research and investment…

Farm Bill Primer: What Is the Farm Bill?

02/17/22
The farm bill is an omnibus, multiyear law that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. It provides an..

Restoring Soil, Profits, Farms and Futures

01/31/22
Meet four world-renowned regenerative farming experts and learn why they formed Understanding Ag, LLC.

Regenerative Farm Map

02/06/20
Click any pin on the map to view more information about specific farms. This is the easiest way to find local farms in your area selling regenerative products.

NASA Study: Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Will Help and Hurt Crops

05/03/16
Elevated carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere may increase water-use efficiency in crops and considerably mitigate yield losses due to climate change, according to a new NASA study.

Livestock for Landscapes

01/07/20
Kathy Voth's goal is to help farmers and ranchers be more profitable by helping them use their livestock's natural behavior as an inexpensive alternative for mangaging weeds and other vegetation.

CalCAN – California Climate & Agriculture Network

08/27/19
We represent a statewide network of sustainable farmers and ranchers and allied organizations, agricultural professionals, scientists, and advocates.

Fibershed – Carbon Farming

08/27/19
The carbon cycle is a critical natural process that moves carbon through Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere, pedosphere, lithosphere and oceans.

Carbon Cycle Institute

08/27/19
The Carbon Cycle Institute’s mission is to stop and reverse climate global change by advancing science-based solutions that reduce atmospheric carbon while promoting environmental stewardship, social equity and economic sustainability.

Land Trust Alliance

08/27/19
The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community. As the national leader in policy, standards, education and training, we work passionately to support land trusts so they can save and secure…

A Greener World

08/27/19
Real transparency in food production from the farm right through to the plate.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

08/27/19
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of over 116 member groups that work collectively with NSAC's Washington, D.C.-based staff to promote and enhance sustainable food and farm policy at the federal level.

David Suzuki Foundation

08/27/19
Always grounded in sound evidence, the David Suzuki Foundation empowers people to take action in their communities on the environmental challenges we collectively face. We’re One Nature.

Eco-Farm

07/31/19
The Ecological Farming Association (EcoFarm) is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to nurture safe, healthy, just, and ecologically sustainable farms, food systems, and communities by bringing people together for education, alliance building, advocacy, and…

MORE NEWS

Big Farms and Flawless Fries Are Gulping Water in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

By Dionne Searcey and Mira Rojanasakul   09/03/23  
THE DROUGHT THAT GRIPPED MINNESOTA in the summer of 2021 was one of the worst on record. Day after day a blazing sun shriveled leaves, dried up waterfalls and turned ponds to puddles.
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Survival of Wild Rice Threatened by Climate Change, Increased Rainfall in Northern Minnesota

By Andrew Hazzard, Sahan Journal   08/14/23  
Todd Moilanen paddles gently through wild rice beds on Ogechie Lake, trying not to disturb a loon sleeping on its back on a nest of reeds a few feet away.
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Bone dry on the range: Texas cattle ranchers battle drought, extreme heat

By Evan Garcia   08/10/23  
The brown and black cattle of Texas, beloved symbols of the Lone Star state, walk through desiccated grass and stand in shrunken watering holes while their ranchers struggle to get them enough food.
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Hottest July on Record Kills Hundreds of Cows

By Angely Mercado   08/08/23  
Alarming heat and humidity killed hundreds of cows in Iowa last month. These losses have further decreased the size of the overall U.S. cattle herd, which has shrunk to a more than 50-year low. The…
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Sustainable Farming in Upstate New York

By Peter Aronson   07/28/23  
If you are sitting behind a desk, typing on a computer (like I am), then Tianna Kennedy may make you jealous. An NYU grad, Kennedy is among a small but growing group of individuals who…
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It sparked California’s $40 billion wine industry. But what if it was all wrong?

By Esther Mobley, Yoohyun Jung   07/19/23  
Almost a century ago, two academics in a brand-new wine science department at UC Davis embarked on a project that would prove crucial in catapulting California’s wine industry out of the Prohibition era.
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Drought, deluge and the climate curious farmers of central Illinois

By Zachary Nauth   07/19/23  
Drought, killer dust storms, torrential downpours, flooding and extreme weather. Illinois, the country’s number one producer of soybeans, and number two producer of corn, has seen it all this year.
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Climate Change Is Upending Farmers’ Livelihoods — and Exacerbating a Mental Health Crisis

By Mélissa Godin   07/17/23  
When Mike Rosmann, an Iowa farmer and psychologist, heard his phone ring on a spring morning in 2019, he knew he had to answer. In the previous four months, his state had experienced the wettest…
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Scientists are growing seeds in space to help adapt to climate change on Earth

By Nadia Leigh-Hewitson   07/14/23  
Plants naturally adapt to grow in challenging environments. Spontaneous natural mutations produce new traits, such as drought tolerance and disease resistance, which can help the plant to thrive. But the Earth’s climate is changing faster…
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Drought and extreme heat burn through farmers’ margin for error — and it’s only July

By Annie Probert, J.J. McCorvey and Evan Bush   07/14/23  
Record-breaking heat and pockets of drought are baking farmland across the country, threatening crop yields and squeezing out any remaining wiggle room to cope with more extreme weather this summer.
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Adapting Agricultural Practices to Climate Change – Seeds, Beans and Lessons from the Ground Up

By Mathieu Willard and Adèle Pautrat   07/10/23  
Against a backdrop of accelerating phenomena linked to global warming, the urgency to act has long since reached its peak. At this very moment, hundreds of farmers across Europe are facing extreme weather conditions and…
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Climate Change Ratchets Up Stress On Farmworkers On The Front Lines Of A Warming Earth

By Melina Walling   07/08/23  
Mily Trevino-Sauceda was 9 when her mother fell as she worked to move irrigation pipes along rows of potato and alfalfa on an Idaho farm. Mily’s 10-year-old brother splashed water over their mother’s face and…
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Improving soil could keep world within 1.5C heating target, research suggests

By Fiona Harvey   07/04/23  
Marginal improvements to agricultural soils around the world would store enough carbon to keep the world within 1.5C of global heating, new research suggests.
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‘It’s a disaster’: California farmer faces ordeal as pistachio farm sits underwater

By Ian James   07/02/23  
A few years ago, Makram Hanna took his savings from years of work in real estate and decided to make a big investment together with relatives and two other families. They bought 1,270 acres of…
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Amid heat waves and drought, crop insurance costs skyrocket

By James Osborne   06/28/23  
In Gaines County, a hot and dry stretch of West Texas with a population of fewer than 22,000 people, cotton farmers don’t just rely on federal crop insurance to save them in bad years --…
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The plant protein that could push meat off your plate

By Michael J. Coren   06/27/23  
I came to this aquatic farm an hour outside of San Diego because I wanted to see what could be the future of humanity’s protein supply. At the moment, it looks more like a meth…
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Climate-Smart Cowboys Hope Regenerative Cattle Ranching Can Heal the Land and Sequester Carbon

By Emma Peterson   06/12/23  
“Hop up, Jo,” said Savannah Barteau. Jolene, a border collie, leapt onto the back of the all-terrain vehicle behind Barteau and her 2-year-old son, Enzo, kicking up sand and water from the wash behind their...
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The GOP may target the climate law again — this time in the farm bill

By Maxine Joselow   06/06/23  
Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! It’s that time of year again when we’re loving the “stellar” warm weather, as our friends at the Capital Weather Gang described it, but fending off the…
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Rice Gets Reimagined, From the Mississippi to the Mekong

By Somini Sengupta   05/20/23  
Rice is in trouble as the Earth heats up, threatening the food and livelihood of billions of people. Sometimes there’s not enough rain when seedlings need water, or too much when the plants need to…
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Purdue-led USDA project aims to double impact of climate-smart Corn Belt agriculture

By Steve Koppes   05/18/23  
Purdue University is leading a $1.5 million partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Midwest Climate Hub to help a highly diverse group of farmers and landowners in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa learn what practices…
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Future of food production hinges on water

By Ayurella Horn-Muller   05/17/23  
A team of 40+ USDA scientists has listed the most significant looming challenges facing water resources and agricultural production nationwide. Why it matters: Their newly-released plan unlocks a 30-year roadmap for mitigating some of the…
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Mangoes and agave in the Central Valley: California farmers try new crops to cope with climate change

By Alastair Bland   05/09/23  
In a world of worsening heatwaves, flooding, drought, glacial melting, megafires and other calamities of a changing climate, Gary Gragg is an optimist. As California warms, Gragg — a nurseryman, micro-scale farmer and tropical fruit…
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Grasslands are critical to ecological health & economic sustainability

By Meg Chatham   05/05/23  
We must protect and conserve grasslands for future generations. One way to do this is through regenerative livestock management.
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Want fiscal responsibility? Stop paying wealthy farmers.

By The Editorial Board   05/04/23  
Though major inefficiencies and inequalities persist in how the United States distributes food, its fantastically productive agricultural sector has conquered the problem of supplying it. The most recent data from the Agriculture Department shows that…
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Greener Grazing – Can Beef Become Sustainable?

By Gemma Alexander   05/03/23  
Food production accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. For Americans, meat is about 80% of our foodprint. Among meats, beef is second only to lamb in carbon emissions per kilogram. But we eat…
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Climate Change Is Walloping US Farms. Can This Farm Bill Create Real Solutions?

By Lisa Held   04/26/23  
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…
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Apple TV’s ‘Extrapolations’ Connects Food, Agriculture, and Climate Change

By Donald Carr   04/20/23  
Food and agriculture themes appear throughout Extrapolations’ eight episodes, which take place over a 33-year timeline. There’s an espionage-thriller style seed heist in the fifth installment. In a world where the climate conditions force everyone…
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Op-ed: We Need a New Farm Bill—for My Iowa Farm and Beyond

By Wendy Johnson   04/05/23  
grew up on a farm in Iowa during the Farm Crisis of the 1980s. Back then, life here was not flourishing, but dying. I pursued a career in fashion and moved to Los Angeles, where…
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California Farmworkers Are Underwater in More Ways Than One

By Anne Marshall-Chalmers   03/29/23  
Farmworkers who can’t work in flooded, damaged fields are losing out on weeks—or months—of wages.
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Congresswoman Jill Tokuda Talks Story with Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau

03/27/23  
On Saturday, Feb. 25, more than 40 attendees gathered around the Grove Farm conference table for a talk story with Congresswoman Jill Tokuda about the future of Kaua‘i’s agricultural sector, hosted by the Kaua‘i County…
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Amid soaking storms, California turns to farmland to funnel water into depleted aquifers

By Ian James   03/21/23  
As storms have drenched Northern California, water diverted from the swollen Sacramento River has been flowing from a canal and pouring onto 200 acres of farmland.
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The IPCC’s Latest Climate Report Is a Final Alarm for Food Systems, Too

By Lisa Held   03/20/23  
The world’s top climate scientists are not pulling any punches in their latest assessment: The climate crisis is already affecting the world’s food supply and exacerbating hunger—and those impacts are going to get worse.
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This Farm Bill Really Matters. We Explain Why.

By Lisa Held   03/20/23  
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…
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Farmers are mobilizing for action. It’s not the first time

By Michael Stewart Foley   03/16/23  
Last week, hundreds of farmers and their allies came to Washington to take part in a three-day mobilization called “Farmers for Climate Action: A Rally for Resilience.” This broad coalition of farm groups held a…
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Farmers March for Urgent Climate Action in DC

By Lisa Held   03/09/23  
This week, another nascent movement appeared to be coalescing at Freedom Plaza, just steps from the White House. There, farmers and their advocates gathered to bring attention to the urgency of the climate crisis at…
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There’s a push underway to help more US farms save big with clean energy

By Kathiann Kowalski   03/06/23  
Drew Bowman’s free-range turkeys don’t use much electricity. Getting their meat to customers, though, from slaughter and processing to packaging and chilling, is an extremely energy-intensive process.
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America’s agroforestry renaissance

By Ayurella Horn-Muller   03/02/23  
Investment in agroforestry — an ancient land management method that integrates the growth of trees with crops or livestock — is emerging with renewed fervor across the U.S.
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As Emissions From Agriculture Rise and Climate Change Batters American Farms, Congress Tackles the Farm Bill

By Georgina Gustin   03/01/23  
When Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) took to the stage at a recent conference in Washington, he made an urgent plea—a call for transformation that he framed as a moonshot.insi
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Inflation Reduction Act provides additional $19.5B for ‘green’ ag

By AGDAILY Reporters   02/13/23  
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the U.S. Department of Agriculture is making 19.5 billion in funding available for agricultural producers and forest landowners nationwide to participate in voluntary conservation programs and adopt “climate-smart” practices.
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Fertiliser emissions could be cut to ‘one-fifth of current levels’ by 2050

By Orla Dwyer   02/09/23  
Fertiliser emissions could be reduced to approximately one-fifth of current levels by 2050 without the need for developing new technologies, a new study finds.
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Record-High Crop Insurance Subsidies Are Unsustainable

01/27/23  
The federal crop insurance program is the most expensive program authorized in the farm bill, excluding nutrition spending, and is a primary driver of monoculture commodity production in the United States. Record-high taxpayer subsidies benefit…
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Storm flooding compounds misery for California farms and workers

By Dorany Pineda and Brittny Mejia   01/21/23  
He pointed to a 40-foot storage container that Santa Clara River floodwaters had swept off a neighboring farm and deposited before him. Overturned tractors and fertilizer bins were strewn about like toys, while the deep…
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USDA toughens up regulation of organic products for first time since 1990

By Carma Hassan   01/19/23  
The US Department of Agriculture is taking steps to improve the transparency and standards for products that are currently considered organic.
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Soil in Midwestern U.S. eroding 10 to 1,000 times faster than it forms

By Isaac Larsen   01/10/23  
In a discovery that has repercussions for everything from domestic agricultural policy to global food security and plans to mitigate climate change, researchers at the University of Massachusetts have found that the rate of soil…
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Indoor farming isn’t just for the rich

By Ayurella Horn-Muller   01/06/23  
Historically costly indoor hydroponic farms are becoming more accessible to small-scale U.S. farmers.Why it matters: While extreme weather exacerbated by climate change hurts crop yields, some small farmers are turning to ag-tech solutions that have…
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USDA Rural Development distributing millions of dollars in Vermont and New Hampshire

By John Hawks   12/16/22  
he Vermont and New Hampshire United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development distributing millions of dollars to rural communities through climate initiatives. “If we can reduce our energy bills, people have more money to spend…
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GreenField GrassBots Aim To Eliminate Weeds (and Chemicals) From Farmers’ Fields

By Jeff Kart   12/10/22  
The robots are coming for you, weeds of Kansas. Up next: bigger bots and more locations, says Clint Brauer, CEO of GreenField Inc., a third-generation, farmer-owned company in Kansas.
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Shrinking Colorado River could trigger an ultimatum for alfalfa

By Jennifer Yachnin   12/06/22  
At an Arizona forum, water managers said the time is ripe to reexamine the water consumption of the thirsty crop.
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A tiny Wisconsin town tried to stop pollution from factory farms. Then it got sued.

By John McCracken   12/05/22  
The small community of Laketown, Wisconsin, home to just over 1,000 people and 18 lakes, is again at the center of a battle over how communities can regulate large, industrial farming operations in their backyards.
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Vermont’s dairy farms recede, giving way to shrimp, saffron and new ideas

By Laura Reiley and Zoeann Murphy   12/02/22  
There was a time when Vermont’s landscape was dotted with weathered red barns full of dairy cows, and every country store was chockablock with local maple syrup and candies. The barns are there still, as…
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