February 25, 2007

Farm and Biofuel Reports

United States

A former bank executive living in North Carolina now runs the largest alpaca ranch in the southeast.

A 30% shortage of farm workers has been putting a pinch on Michigan farmers and contributing to crop loss.

Vandalism at an urban farm in Rochester, NY trashed more than infrastructure and equipment.

The American Farmland Trust is pushing for the 2007 Farm Bill to include additional funding for farm and ranch preservation, so that land that's being used for agriculture now won't be turned into housing developments.

Throughout the Midwest, women's off-farm work is often what keeps a farm going and provides needed health coverage for rural families.

President Bush visits an ethanol enzyme factory, sniffs jars. (h/t The Rural Blog)

Corn cobs have been turned into briquettes that can store 180 times their own volume of natural gas. (h/t The Rural Blog)

Future Farmers of America has broadened its reach over the years and helps prepare young people for a wide variety of agricultural, horticultural and bioscience careers.

A Nebraska ethanol plant is powering its energy needs with natural gas from manure, courtesy of the 27,000 cattle that also provide fertilizer for the corn that's used as the feedstock for ethanol production.

Is a future of cellulosic ethanol going to rely on transgenic switchgrass?

Ethanol OpEds: Bill Burkett says that ethanol subsidies are bilking consumers twice: once when they pay the subsidies and again when they pay higher prices for meat because of inflated feed costs. Nolan Finley says the country would be better off saving corn to make bourbon.

If you're interested in making your own biodiesel at home, Evolution Biodiesel in Texas sell you a processing unit small enough to make 13 gallon batches.

Chevron is opening a 20 million gallon a year biodiesel plant in Galveston, Texas, that will use soybean oil as a feedstock. Chevron says that in the future, they'd prefer to use non-food oil sources such as castor beans or tallow trees. Texas regulators have given Chevron and other biodiesel supporters until the end of this year to present a case on the question of whether or not biodiesel produces more greenhouse-causing nitrogen oxide emissions than regular diesel. Nitrous oxide is a highly potent greenhouse gas, 296 times more potent that carbon dioxide.


Avian flu confirmed in Kuwait.

China recalls U.S. peanut butter after salmonella warnings were issued for Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter in the U.S. following a contamination outbreak affecting over 300 people.

Turkey and Yemen sign a fisheries pact.

Australia and Syria hold trade talks on agricultural cooperation, with Syria being particularly interested in animal resources.

A Spanish study indicates that honeydew honeys are highest in antioxidants among the different varieties of honey.

The agricultural sector in the Indian state of Gujarat appears to be in decline in terms of total land area in food production, while also seeing an increase in barren land and a decrease in electricity consumption. But throughout India, rising basic food prices are hurting the poor.

Loans from the Asian Development Bank are helping Pakistan reform agricultural irrigation and provide better veterinary services to farmers. An ADB loan to the government of Nepal is planned to help farmers in an impoverished region of the country grow higher value crops and perform value-added processing.

Brazil is looking to increase ethanol output by 1500% over 20 years, an amount that could replace 10% of the world's gasoline consumption.

The ongoing worldwide water crisis is going to require the agricultural sector to use less and urban areas to recycle more.

A group of public employees in Bangkok, Thailand have been cooking their own biodiesel for years at a cost that comes in under the market price of regular diesel. They report no problems with it and in a tropical climate, you wouldn't get the gelling that can occur at colder temperatures in temperate zone winters.

Paul Wolfowitz speaking as president of the World Bank says that developing nations are being hurt by the environmental policies of industrialized countries and urged greater support for biofuel production as part of the solution.

Natasha is currently an intern with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, an organization dedicated to outreach and education in sustainable agriculture and food systems issues. The opinions expressed in this post are her own and are not representations on behalf of MFAI. For regular legislative alerts about food sustainability issues, sign up with the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture.

Posted by natasha at February 25, 2007 01:46 PM | Agriculture | Technorati links |