Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
"Excuse me," I told the supermarket cashier. "You rang up that squash at $1.99 a pound. The sign said $1.29." "This is organic. It's $1.99," she said. "Then somebody stocked it in the conventional section," I said. "Well, I'm not paying 70 cents more for organic. I'm not paying anything more for organic." Please, don't send irate emails if you're an organic supporter. Though I won't spend extra for organic, I'm not anti-organic. Not at all.
Federal crop insurance in its current form is hurting family farms, the land and rural communities, while benetting big insurance companies, according to a new report from the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project.
FARGO — Lanny Faleide is a farmer turned technological pioneer whose work has been praised by NASA. For 24 years, his self-described "bleeding-edge" company has used space-age technology, particularly satellite imagery, to help agricultural producers better understand their fields and farm them more efficiently. But Faleide said greater interest in precision agriculture, including the use of satellite and drone imagery, doesn't mean he and his company, Satshot, have finally reached the promised land.
Gerald Stokka wasn't quite sure what to expect when he traveled to Washington, D.C., recently to take part in one stage of the Pew Charitable Trusts' "Supermoms Against Superbugs" initiative. But Stokka, North Dakota State University extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist, said the Feb. 27-March 1 event — in which parents, doctors and agriculturalists met with policymakers and shared their perspective on the growing threat on antibiotic resistance — was both positive and encouraging.
LAWTON, N.D. — Justin Zahradka says that when he was a high school freshman, "I was the kind of kid who sat in the back of the class and never said a word." He pauses for a second and adds, "That's obviously changed, and it's because of FFA." Zahradka, now a 24-year-old full-time farmer from Lawton, N.D., says his involvement with FFA made him a better person and better farmer and opened up wonderful opportunities both during and after his time with FFA.
NEKOMA, N.D. — It's November — a Friday, late afternoon — in Nekoma, population "26 on a good day." Snowflakes dance in the chill breeze before settling to the ground. From as far as 60 miles away, people are leaving their farms, homes and businesses to drive through the dusk over snow-covered roads. They want food and drink. They want camaraderie and companionship. And they know it's all waiting for them here at the Pain Reliever.
Q: What is the Land Stewardship Project? The Land Stewardship Project is a membership organization of about 4,000 households, primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It works through members to foster an ethic of land stewardship, to promote sustainable agriculture and build healthy communities. Q: What do you raise on your own farm?
If you ask farmers what skill or attribute is most important in their occupation, the majority will pause for a few seconds before saying "optimism" or "faith in the future." Some will answer "capital," "vision," "access to land" or "willingness to change with the times." I agree, all those things are important, even vital. But here's what I firmly believe is the trait that modern farmers and ranchers need most to survive and thrive:
The North American Free Trade Agreement is a big deal to U.S. agriculturalists. NAFTA is even more important to their Canadian counterparts, a Canadian attorney with close ties to agriculture says. Given that, ongoing efforts to revise NAFTA are "a huge concern," Kenton Rein says. Rein is a partner in Cassels Brock's Calgary, Alberta, office, where he leads the firm's agribusiness practice. He also is on the executive committee of the Canadian Bar Association's Food and Agribusiness Section.
Editor's note: Jonathan Knutson received a fellowship from the North American Ag Journalists to attend the Society of Environmental Journalists' recent annual convention in Pittsburgh. He is not a member of the group. PITTSBURGH — Andrew Dessler compares current public debate over climate change to the long-concluded debate over smoking.