AppHarvest’s 2 million square-foot greenhouse will rank among the world’s largest,


02-23-2017

AppHarvest to locate high-tech greenhouse in Pikeville, creating 140 jobs on reclaimed mine site

Kentucky Press News Service
FRANKFORT – Agricultural startup AppHarvest plans to build a $50 million high-tech greenhouse, creating 140 full-time jobs in Pikeville at a former surface coal mine repurposed for new industry, Gov. Matt Bevin announced Thursday.
“AppHarvest’s project will bring exciting, high-tech job opportunities to Eastern Kentucky,” Bevin said in a statement. “Our administration is dedicated to increasing economic opportunity across Kentucky, and this project presents a fantastic opportunity to help our Appalachian region continue its rejuvenation. We intend to make Kentucky the engineering and manufacturing center of excellence in America, and job growth in Eastern Kentucky will be a key part of our success.”
Targeted for a 60-acre site, AppHarvest’s 2 million square-foot greenhouse will rank among the world’s largest, a state news release said. There, the company plans to grow fresh vegetables year round for consumption in the U.S. Northeast, Southeast and Midwest. The operation will grow a variety of produce with a focus on cherry tomatoes and bell peppers. The high-tech facility will feature computerized monitoring and cutting-edge hydroponic, above-ground growing systems.
AppHarvest Founder and CEO Jonathan Webb cited Pikeville’s proximity to retail markets, quality of the regional workforce and opportunities created as the coal industry transitions as reasons for locating in Eastern Kentucky.
“The spirit of the region is unmatched and we want to work alongside those hardworking men and women,” Webb said. “Appalachia, let’s grow veggies, let’s do work!”
Building near its markets will significantly reduce shipping costs, Webb said, and also lower costs for consumers. As a gateway between the Midwest and South, Kentucky’s boarders lie within a day’s drive of 65 percent of the U.S. population and income. That continues to make the commonwealth a major draw for logistics-intensive companies.
Webb has supported U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives’ efforts with private financing and development of some of the largest solar projects in the Southeast. He recently founded AppHarvest to provide a local, more logistically feasible option in response to US produce imports from Mexico tripling over the past decade.
AppHarvest employees will be trained in agronomy and agricultural science. Positions include management, human resources, logistics and picker/crop worker. Webb said he expects greenhouse construction to begin in June.
The company’s greenhouse environment will provide dramatic yield increases versus traditional field and low-tech greenhouse operations and allow it to adjust to customers’ needs and demands, as well as provide a longer shelf life for produce.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said AppHarvest’s project stands to benefit the state on multiple fronts.
“Agriculture is economic development, and this facility would bring much-needed investment and jobs to Eastern Kentucky,” Quarles said. “This project would capitalize on increasing demand for U.S.-grown produce, technical innovation, the opportunity to recapture market share from beyond our borders, and an available workforce. This is an exciting opportunity that could change the economic trajectory of the entire region for decades to come.”
Sen. Ray Jones, of Pikeville, said Eastern Kentucky has a workforce ready for new opportunities and that AppHarvest will be a great fit.
“Eastern Kentucky is continually seeking ways to diversify and attract much-needed jobs to our region,” he said. “Many of our people lost their jobs because of the decline in the coal industry. Our region stands ready with a willing and skilled workforce to meet this company’s needs. We are pleased that AppHarvest is locating in our region and look forward to their success, along with the economic boost they will bring to Eastern Kentucky.”
Rep. John Blanton, of Salyersville, said the project will assist with efforts to diversify the local economy.
“I am thrilled to welcome AppHarvest to Pikeville,” Blanton said. “Eastern Kentucky is home to a dedicated and reliable workforce, and the creation of 140 jobs is a much-needed boost to our local economy. We continue to work diligently in diversifying our economy, and AppHarvest is a welcome addition to our business community. I thank them for their investment in Pike County and look forward to their continued success.”
Pikeville Mayor James Carter said the community has worked endlessly to make opportunities like this possible.

SOURCE LINK

Appharvest on TWITTER:

https://twitter.com/appharvest?lang=en

Seminars to provide information on Kentucky’s hemp industry


 

Below and attached you will find details for a series of hemp seminars to be held across the state.  The seminars are a collaborative effort of the UK Cooperative Extension Service, Kentucky Hemp Research Foundation, Kentucky Hemp Industries Association and Kentucky Department of Agriculture.  I highly recommend that participants in our Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program and anyone interested in hemp research attend one of these seminars.  This is a good opportunity to learn more about hemp in general.  These seminars should NOT be confused with the mandatory orientation meetings for pilot program participants.   See attached for more details of the daily agenda and the full press release from UK.

Please call the corresponding extension office to reserve your free lunch.

Thanks,

Doris

2017 Kentucky Industrial Hemp Seminars

· January 30, 2017   Christian County Extension Office     270-886-6328

· January 31, 2017    Clark County Extension Office           859-744-4682

· February 9, 2017   Shelby County Extension Office         502-633-4593

NEWS

Contact: Tom Keene, 859-257-3144

Seminars to provide information on Kentucky’s hemp industry

By Katie Pratt

LEXINGTON, Ky., (Jan. 17, 2017) – New and experienced industrial hemp producers and interested individuals can get a broad overview of hemp production and the Kentucky hemp industry at one of three regional meetings.

The meetings will be at the following University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service offices: Jan. 30 in Christian County, Jan. 31 in Clark County and Feb. 9 in Shelby County. They are a collaboration between the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association, Kentucky Hemp Research Foundation, UK Cooperative Extension Service and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. All the meetings will begin at 10 a.m. local time and end at 4 p.m.

“These meetings will give producers and processors good information about the hemp industry in Kentucky and will get them ready to grow and process hemp this year,” said Tom Keene, UK agronomy specialist.

“Our strategic objective is to position the commonwealth’s growers and processors to ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “These regional meetings will help us achieve that objective. We appreciate the opportunity to work with our partners to inform the participants in the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program.”

The KDA Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program has tripled its acreage for the upcoming growing season, bringing the total to 12,800 acres.

Topics on the agenda include hemp marketing, hemp agronomics, the KDA’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program and KDA policies. Presenters include Keene, Doris Hamilton, program manager of KDA’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, and representatives from Kentucky’s hemp industries.

More information is available by online at https://hemp.ca.uky.edu/ or by contacting each host site. Those numbers are 270-886-6328 for Christian County, 859-744-4682 for Clark County and 502-633-4593 for Shelby County.

Writer: Katie Pratt, 859-257-8774

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

http://www.ca.uky.edu

AGRICULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES • COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND ENVIRONMENT • UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY

131 SCOVELL HALL, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY 40546-0064

PHONE (859) 257-4736 • FAX (859) 257-1512
The College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization.

Doris Hamilton

Industrial Hemp Program Manager

Department of Agriculture

Office of Marketing

111 Corporate Drive

Frankfort, KY 40601

Doris.Hamilton@ky.gov

502-782-4113

Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly


Link to video: https://youtu.be/rye7J6jnVeE
Produced By Navdanya International and FINCA
Direction, footage and editing by FINCA and ESC

The Monsanto Tribunal and the People’s Assembly were held in The Hague from 14th to 16th October 2016.
Over the last century giant agribusiness interests which came out of the war industry have poisoned life, our ecosystems, destroyed our biodiversity and pushed farmers off the land. As these corporations become bigger, they gain more power, more immunity and more rights.

Using free trade neoliberal policies and deregulation of commerce to enlarge their empires, these corporations are attacking life on earth and biodiversity. They have broadened their control over our seed, our food and freedom, robbing us of our human rights and democracy. They have established monopolies and threatened farmers’ rights to seed and people’s rights to affordable medicine through patents and IPRs.
Across the world people are rising, democratic governments are responding to stop this ecocide and genocide. These giants have responded by attacking laws and policies of governments that take action in response to people’s movements and call to protect the earth and people’s rights.

The process of holding the Poison Cartel accountable for its crimes is the culmination of 30 years of scientific, legal, social, and political work by movements, concerned citizens and scientists. Since the ground for the tribunal was laid by the movement, a parallel People’s Assembly was created to allow for movements from across the world to gather together, sharing problems, political strategies and visions of the future for a sustainable agriculture. This is the coalition that has got together to organize the Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly.

The Tribunal aimed to synthesize the existing crimes and violations for which Monsanto is in courts across the world— in India, Europe, US, Mexico, Argentina, as well as to expand the scope of criminal activity to include the crime of ecocide, the violation of the rights of nature. The judges will issue an advisory opinion, they will verify whether Monsanto’s activities are in compliance with the laws as they exist in the UN, along with other legal instruments. It is an educational tribunal, that can influence international human rights law.

The People’s Assembly was a gathering of movements, seed savers, seed defenders, farmers and growers and civilians to address the crimes against nature and against humanity perpetrated by chemical and biotechnology corporations. The People’s Assembly included different aspects of the movements defending the corporate assault as well as positive people’s stories of the movements building the alternative.
After listening to witnesses and lawyers from the Tribunal, as well as to organizations, farmers, activists and common citizens from the People’s Assembly, the evidence is clear: “The poison cartel, which includes toxic makers such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, and the like, are together destroying both our bread and our freedom. They are corrupting governments, violating nations’ sovereignty and imposing on our planet a model of greed, poison and corruption”. Monsanto and the Poison Cartel are guilty of crimes against our planet and against humanity. This is the verdict from the People’s Assembly stated in the final press release.
Dr Vandana Shiva: “If you consider the attack on nature and the rights of nature that’s what’s called ecocide. If you take attacks on human beings in large numbers knowing that you chemicals will cause disease, knowing that your patents and royalties collection will create debt and farmers will commit suicide, in the UN definition that is called genocide.”

Andre Leu: “The reason why we have a People’s Assembly as well as the Tribunal is because while the Tribunal is a proper legally constituted trial, the real punishment is the one of public opinion.”

Nnimmo Bassey: “Coming to the People’s Assembly and the Monsanto tribunal is very important for me because we are going to build a platform for actually getting people to stand for their own rights and to fight against industrial toxic agriculture based on genetically engineered crops and toxic chemicals.”

Marie-Monique Robin: “This is really like a nightmare to be quite frank. When you see how toxic these products are and what Monsanto did to maintain its products on the market, it is really very difficult to believe. Along with the total lack of sense of responsibility and the impunity that is going on.”

Hans Herren: “Good food, quality food for the long term it’s absolutely not in the picture of these corporations. It is actually a scandal and it’s very tragic that short term profit – and the example is in all these mergers – trumps over long term sustainability and survival for humanity. We know for sure that we can produce enough quality and diverse food to nourish a populations of 10 billion with sustainable agriculture practices”

Ronnie Cummins: “Now we’ve got these massive corporations like Monsanto who are trying to control everything, including our food, our health and if we work together internationally, we can make it, we can be much more powerful.”


www.peoplesassembly.net
www.monsanto-tribunal.org
www.seedfreedom.info

 

SOURCE

First new hemp strain bred for US farmers


By: Chris Conrad

Retail Hemp field crop

A new industrial hemp cultivar has passed the THC hemp trials managed by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the first hemp seed variety bred for the US to pass a Department of Agriculture hemp trial in any state.

Thomas Jefferson was a jealous hempseed breeder who allegedly brought Chinese seeds in from France in the 1790s to mix with the European strains. Later the US Department of Agriculture adopted an aggressive program to breed plants that were drought resistant and climate or soil specific for different parts of the United States and came up with some of the best hemp strains in the world. That all came to an end with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, when hemp farming was essentially banned. The national seed banks died out when the federal Drug Enforcement Agency took control in the 1970s and destroyed them in the name of the Drug War.

Act of Congress opened the way for new hemp seedlines

In February 2015, Congress passed the hemp amendment to the Farm bill and opened new avenues for cannabis hemp. Two years later, Rely™ by New West Genetics has become the first modern hemp variety bred for the U.S. to pass Colorado Department of Agriculture hemp trials. The plants have a stable THC content below 0.1 percent, compared with the federal standard of 0.3 percent or less.

“This is a landmark victory for New West Genetics, as well as hemp production in the United States overall,” said Wendy Mosher, CEO for New West Genetics. “The use of regionally bred hemp seed for production is imperative for the US hemp industry to succeed, and we hope that the results for Rely™ act as a catalyst for other U.S. hemp product makers to recognize the benefit of regionally bred varieties – better yield, disease resistance, sustainability, etc. and demand those be used for their products.”

PLEASE CONTINUE READING…

From Growing Tobacco to Growing Hemp


Jane Harrod, a farmer in Kentucky, talks about transitioning to a different crop after the U.S. soured on cigarettes.

Image result for kentucky hemp

Bourree Lam

 

Since the 1960s, the number of Americans who smoke has decreased significantly; in 1965, more than 40 percent of adults reported smoking, compared to around 17 percent in 2014. During that same period, tobacco production has dropped precipitously as well.

Still, in 2012, the U.S. produced some 800 million pounds of tobacco, and Kentucky—the state with the second-largest tobacco harvest in the U.S. (North Carolina’s comes in first)—is responsible for almost a quarter of that output. Yet even in Kentucky, tobacco farming has waned, forcing many farmers to look into other crops.

Jane Harrod runs a small farm in Kentucky. Her family used to grow tobacco, but she’s since switched over to growing hemp, a somewhat controversial plant—what with the federal ban on marijuana and medical marijuana still being illegal in Kentucky—that the state is currently testing out with pilot programs. For The Atlantic’s ongoing series of interviews with American workers, I talked to Harrod about her family farm, the recession, and why she decided to shift production to hemp. The interview that follows has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

 

We could probably be called hippies at the time. We weren’t big spenders; we grew our own food and raised our two daughters there in Owen County. There were a lot of young people that had moved into the area, because the farmland was cheap. We had an intentional-community situation where we had like-minded people set up a feed co-op and do tobacco together with other crops.

CONTINUE READING…

KY: Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program now taking applications for 2017


Image result for KENTUCKY HEMP

New measures set to enable sustained growth of the program

FRANKFORT (October 11, 2016) Kentuckians interested in participating in the industrial hemp research pilot program in 2017 are invited to submit an application with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“The pilot research program will continue to build on the successes of the previous administration by developing research data on industrial hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing for Kentucky growers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. KDA’s objective is to expand and strengthen Kentucky’s research pilot program, so that if the federal government chooses to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, Kentucky’s growers and farmers will be positioned to thrive, prosper and ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940 that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016 compared with 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program.

Applicants should be aware of important new measures for the 2017 research program, including the following:

· To strengthen the department’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates must be submitted on the application. Applicants must consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored, or processed.

· To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA will rely on objective criteria, outlined in the newly released 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications. An applicant’s criminal background check must indicate no drug-related misdemeanor convictions, and no felony convictions of any kind, in the past 10 years. Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp pilot project program will consider whether applicants have complied with instructions from the department, Kentucky State Police, and local law enforcement.

· As the research program continues to grow, KDA’s hemp staff needs additional resources and manpower to administer this tremendously popular program. The addition of participant fees will enable KDA Hemp Staff to handle an increasing workload without needing additional taxpayer dollars from the General Assembly. Program applicants will be required to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $50 with their applications. Successful applicants will be required to pay additional program fees.

Grower applications must be postmarked or received by the KDA marketing office no later than November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Processor or handler applicants are encouraged to submit their applications by November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST.

For more information, including the 2017 Policy Guide and a downloadable application, go to kyagr.com/hemp.

CONTINUE TO KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF AGRIGULTURE

Bayer and Monsanto: a marriage made in hell


US agriculture giant Monsanto has agreed to a US$66 billion takeover by German chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer. If the deal is approved by international regulators, Bayer-Monsanto will become the world’s biggest agribusiness, controlling 29 percent of the global seed market and 24 percent of pesticides.

The companies have dismissed widespread concern about the deal among farmers and environmentalists as fear mongering. Separately, they claim, their products have contributed to a significant boost in crop yields over the past few decades. Together, they’ll be able to increase investment in research and development, driving the agricultural innovation necessary to meet the demands of a growing world population.

We can only imagine what kind of new health and environmental threats may lurk in the “step change” a company like Bayer-Monsanto will make in an effort to restore profits.

In assessing the claims and counterclaims, we would do well to heed the words of radical US historian Howard Zinn: “If you don’t know history, it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can you tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it”.

Monsanto’s horrible history

Monsanto is one of the world’s worst corporate criminals.

Founded in 1901 in St Louis, Missouri, as a producer of artificial sweetener for Coca-Cola, Monsanto had its first big break in the 1930s, when it established itself as the sole US manufacturer of polychlorinated biphenyls, otherwise known as PCBs.

Monsanto’s profits soared. Evidence quickly mounted, however, that the chemicals were highly toxic and carcinogenic. As early as 1955, an internal document acknowledged, “We know Aroclors [PCBs] are toxic but the actual limit has not been precisely defined”. Nevertheless, the company continued producing PCBs until they were finally banned by the US government in 1979.

During World War II, Monsanto partnered with the US government on the Manhattan Project to produce the world’s first nuclear weapon, turning over one of their labs to the manufacture of polonium – a highly radioactive substance composing part of the ignition mechanism for the bomb.

In the 1960s, Monsanto was one of the main producers of Agent Orange – the chemical used by the US military to defoliate vast swathes of jungle during the Vietnam War. It contained a highly toxic dioxin by-product, exposure to which is associated with reproductive and developmental problems, immune system damage, interference with hormones and cancer. Millions of Vietnamese people, and many US and allied country veterans, including Australians, continue to suffer the consequences to this day.

When it wasn’t busy with chemical warfare overseas, Monsanto was waging it at home. From the 1940s, it joined a number of other companies in producing vast quantities of the powerful insecticide DDT, the environmental and health effects of which – powerfully documented in Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring – led to it being banned in 1972.

In more recent times, Monsanto’s negative press has come mainly from its status as producer of the widely used herbicide Roundup. Roundup was first sold by Monsanto in 1974. However, until the mid-1990s its use was limited due to the fact that it killed many crops as well as weeds. This all changed after 1996, when Monsanto introduced its genetically modified “Roundup Ready” soybeans, followed by corn in 1998. Now farmers’ fields could be sprayed with herbicide without damaging the crop.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is now history’s most widely used agricultural chemical. In 1987, around 5 million kilograms of it were used on US farms. Today, that figure is 136 million. A 2015 study in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe calculated that, globally, 8.5 billion kilograms of it have been sprayed onto fields. Monsanto’s revenue from Roundup and associated products was nearly US$5 billion in 2015.

This is bad news for human health and the environment. As with PCBs, DDT and Agent Orange before it, it seems glyphosate may be another Monsanto contribution to the “cancer industry”. In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, and the company is currently defending itself against numerous lawsuits from farmers with cancer.

Given the widespread, and increasing, use of Roundup in Australia and around the world, this may be just the start.

Bayer: heroin and Nazis

Bayer may not boast quite the array of crimes of its US counterpart, but the sheer depravity of those it has committed is unmatched.

The company was founded in Barmen, Germany, in 1863. From its original line of business – making dyes from coal – it expanded into a chemical and pharmaceutical giant. In 1897, Bayer developed aspirin, which became the world’s first mass-market drug.

Two weeks later, it stumbled across a new “wonder drug” – a stronger version of opium which it named “heroin”. For the next 15 years, heroin was freely marketed and sold around the world as “a sedative for coughs”. Ironically, it was also often prescribed by doctors to patients struggling with morphine addiction.

During the severe economic crisis that followed World War I, Bayer merged with a number of other chemical and pharmaceutical companies to form the giant conglomerate IG Farben. In the early 1930s, IG Farben was among the biggest corporate donors to the Nazis – helping them consolidate power.

During World War II, the company was rewarded for its support with contracts for the supply of synthetic rubber, fuel and explosives to the Nazis and other Axis powers. One of its main centres of wartime production was Auschwitz. There and elsewhere, it made ample use of the slave labour of prisoners in the Nazi death camps.However, this wasn’t the darkest chapter in its alliance with Nazism. Not only was it profiting from the forced labour of Jewish and other prisoners in the camps. It was also profiting from their murder. IG Farben owned a 42 percent stake in another company, Degesch, which manufactured Zyklon B – one of the main chemicals used in the Nazi gas chambers.

After the war, the IG Farben conglomerate was broken up, and Bayer emerged again as an independent entity. Was it sorry for the direct role it played in the holocaust? Evidently not.

In 1956, Bayer appointed Fritz ter Meer as its new company chair, a role he continued in until his retirement in 1961. During the war, as a member of the IG Farben board, ter Meer played a leading role in the planning and construction of the forced labour camps at Auschwitz. On the stand at the Nuremburg IG Farben trial in 1948, he claimed that no specific harm was inflicted on workers in the camps as “without this they would have been killed anyway”.

In a particularly grotesque touch, following ter Meer’s death in 1967, Bayer established the Fritz ter Meer Foundation (later renamed as the Bayer Science & Education Foundation), to provide scholarships to German chemistry students.

Neither did Bayer hesitate at the prospect of getting involved again in the chemical warfare industry. In the early 1950s,it established the US-based Mobay Chemical Corporation, a joint venture with – you guessed it – Monsanto, that went on to supply one of the key, dioxin-contaminated, ingredients of Agent Orange.

Finally, in the 1980s, it was one of a number of companies selling plasma-based haemophilia treatments that infected thousands of people with HIV.

Should we trust Bayer-Monsanto with the future of global agricultural production? On balance, probably not.

Concentration of capital

The Bayer-Monsanto deal is just one among three proposed mergers among the “Big 6” global seed and pesticide giants, which also include BASF, DuPont, Dow Chemical and Syngenta. Dow Chemical and DuPont announced a US$130 billion merger in December, and earlier this year Syngenta agreed to a US$43 billion sale to China National Chemical Corporation.

In 1994, the four biggest global seed companies controlled 21 percent of the market. If all the proposed mergers currently on the table are approved, just three giant companies – Bayer-Monsanto, ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow DuPont – will control 59 percent of the global seed market and 64 percent of pesticides.

In Capital, Karl Marx wrote about this process of concentration and centralisation. In the short term, it can spur technological development and productivity gains. In the long term, however, it’s part of the capitalist system’s inherent tendency to crisis.

The agricultural industry shows the contradiction. The current rash of mergers isn’t a sign of health. Rather, like the heady rush to agglomeration in the banking and financial sector in the run-up to the 2008-09 global financial crisis, it’s a sign of an industry stumbling towards its destructive limits.

Past innovation has helped boost yields to the point where the world is now experiencing a glut of many products. Prices have declined, and farmers are struggling to stay afloat.

The total income of US farmers has dropped from US$123.8 billion in 2013 to just $71.5 billion in 2016. This, in turn, has put the squeeze on the profits of companies like Monsanto, as farmers simply can’t afford to pay the high prices demanded for their products.

At the same time, it’s clear that a new wave of innovation is necessary for yields to continue to grow in the decades ahead. The possibly devastating long term health and environmental impacts of Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer aren’t its only problem. It also, increasingly, doesn’t work. Weeds are developing resistance, and new products will be necessary to address this.

There is a kernel of truth in the Bayer-Monsanto PR spin: to sustain its business model, it needs to innovate. Innovation, however, is expensive. According to Monsanto’s chief technology officer, Robert Fraley, “Fifteen years ago, we spent $300 million on R&D. Today we spend $1.5 billion … To realise a step-change, agricultural companies will need to invest more”.

We can only imagine what kind of new health and environmental threats may lurk in the “step change” a company like Bayer-Monsanto will make in an effort to restore profits. Given the history, we can, unfortunately, expect that it will come at a high cost to human society and the environment on which we depend.

CONTINUE READING…

On 23 Acres of hillside placed in the Appalachian Mountains…


 

 

Image result for appalachian farmstead

 

If I Never Farm Another Day: What ‘Sometimes’ Farming has Given Me. . .

Maybe I am A ‘Sometimes’ Farmer, frankly.

I love a fancy heeled shoe, flash and traveling around for food I didn’t prepare.

For six long and short years, I have dreaded drought and snow. I have carried milk up and down my little mountain in both – 9 and 102 degree weather. I have said goodbye to cows and goats I’ve loved. I’ve raised and cared for what fed my sons. I’ve felt forlorn, like a massive failure. I’ve struggled with being a 20 year vegetarian and raising animals for meat and dairy. I’ve laid that struggle to rest. I’ve researched, used trial and error and learned how to do better. I’ve wondered if it is worth it many times. I’ve pondered if pushing this degree of work on a husband that works off the farm and taking this much time up that could be spent running my boys around to parks and lessons or play dates instead is selfish, ludicrous, even.

I’ve heard from folks that cannot understand the reasons to keep dairy goats, chickens, meat rabbits and cattle when we do not have to do this. It isn’t as if we raise enough to make "life off the land," after all.

That is true enough.

We do not depend on farming to earn an income, to support us economically. We work to allow us to farm, and while we often break even in monetary investment or make a couple bucks now and again, we have never attempted to survive solely working off the land.

On 23 Acres of hillside placed in the Appalachian Mountains, sustainability from this place would prove improbable, but in so many ways, it has sustained us in mind and body, though not through primary sustenance.

Oh, to be sure, it has provided a purpose beyond all I could have imagined.

It is fashionable to try one’s hand at the land these days. It seems every twenty years or so, based on my reading of archaic Mother Earth Magazine volumes, a generation of younger folk give the homestead life a try. Few turn their attempts into an occupation, yet I venture to say, far fewer leave the life without deep lessons that stay with them forever.

I admit I’ve struggled with being a farmer or homesteader when so much of what I do and enjoy is still so conventional.

Then I realized what I’ve learned seems of no less importance. . .despite my "sometimes" farming. . . .

and I believe if I never "Sometimes" farmed another day in my life, the lessons I’ve learned are the most priceless of my lifetime and will endure long past my body’s ability to play "Sometimes FarmHER."

1. Fortitude

Even a year of raising livestock or growing vegetables will change a person’s version of sticking "with it." Nothing except parenting could rise to the level of commitment raising a garden that flourishes, milking a cow through winter or hauling the first home grown steer to be processed requires. You dig in your heels, you refuse to give up and it begins to carry over in all areas of your life outside of the land.

2. Hope

If you tend to seeing a glass half empty, you will find yourself revolutionized while delving into your farm. You will not last 3 months if you can’t dig up hope somewhere. Over and over and over again. You will hope that cow took when you hauled her 2 hours to a bull after chasing her around your property before finally coaxing her into that trailer, hope the rain comes for your heirloom corn’s sake doesn’t wither and for your children when they lament ever having a farm and when you hope your dairy goats do not give you another buck kid crop of 20 or more. You find hope all over the place, in the most unlikely spots, and you will become a person able to cling to the smallest shred of optimism when no one except a farmer could see the glimmer.

3. Sadness

I’ve laid in a stall with a dairy doe I loved greatly waiting for a vet we called too late in January when my hands turned blue, but I was too lost in grief to realize it. I’ve ran out to aid pig farmers when a sow couldn’t farrow only to see the sow and most of the piglets lost at 4am. Little will render you broke and broken in shorter order than a farm venture. You will face that moment your first pig or calf, loved and made into a pet, is old enough be part of circle of feeding your family and finally realize what farming costs. You will wonder how you will make ends meet now and again when winter approaches and hay stores are low or a hay season ran too short. You will watch a cow carry a calf for 9 months only to slip the calf and need to wait another year to see offspring from her. Loss comes in waves, and you stop and consider how you can ever get past it all, and through tears, you do.

4. Perspective

I know what it takes to produce food, so I really know what food should cost. I know good food verses poor quality food. I take little for granted. My children learned the facts of life the old fashioned way. They know food comes at great cost, that no matter where we it comes from, labor and life went into the making. I have learned all the ways food arrives to us: the ethical way, the ideal but unattainable way and the cruel way. I work incredibly hard to make sure some of what we have is from our own hands, land and kindly produced, even though I do not have to do so. When you do not count on your farm to produce your sole income, you know at any moment, you can give it all up. You stay thankful for the milk machine your grandmother wouldn’t have had when milking a cow giving 8 gallons of milk a day, too. You work even when your regular job is done to avoid the fast, cheap and easy lifestyle American has become known for all around the world. You want to be faced with giving up only to opt to keep on because the rewards for the soul are still too valuable to miss.

5. Skill

I know how much land it takes to give quality care to cattle, goats and poultry. I know how much water growing and raising livestock consumes. I know how hard a garden is to maintain. In so many ways, few of us know how to do anything useful when removed from land. Removed from electronics, a car and a grocery store, we have no idea how to do much of anything. I know what has to go into soap to make it lather. I can AI a goat and give IM/IV and SQ injections to animals 10 times my size. I understand how vital moderation in medication, vaccinations and antibiotics are across the board. I see the power of selective breeding, survival of the fittest and how we have ruined so much by making a soft environment. We lack the most basic skills. I discovered what children will do, even in a modern home of video games, phones and apps when you turn them out on 20 acres to be just boys. . .they learn to build forts, to ride ponies, to milk goats. They know when to yell, "Mom, Dutchie is in heat. Time to bring out a buck," and they know when to note a horse is off feed and needs a second look to make sure all is well. We can pull calves, piglets and goats when labor is amiss I know what minerals the soil lacks in my area. I can milk goats and a cow for an hour straight without breaking a sweat, and I can turn that milk into butter, cheese and yogurt. A short time with livestock and growing your food will give you more useful skills than you would find in an entire modern life lived without this connection.

6. Community

Prior to farming, I had no real sense of community, not in a positive light. But a year into farming, I saw how people on a similar walk in life came together, lent / loaned / labored to help another in a way I figured had died out a century ago. If you need a pressure washer, a bull, tractor and an arm smaller than your own to pull out piglets, your local farmer has that for you. In the Snow. At 4am. Twice.

7. Connection

Taking the land or animal lives for granted ever again is not likely. You look at the ground with a new consideration. You think about your impact. The impact of others and mull this over everywhere you go. At night. In bed, You think about how the Livestock Guard Dog works to earn his keep, you think about how the dairy goat produces 8 lbs of milk a day to earn hers. You see this huge portrait where everyone gives their part to make the place run, and it is gives a whole new respect for everything that grows, be that children, hay or goat kids. Your kids talk constantly about how eggs end up on their plate and what it means to not waste sausage when it is served.

8. Strength

You’re strong. . .I’m talking a strength that comes from inside and outside. It isn’t the type we gain from 45 minutes a day in a Gym we pay a membership fee to, it is not the kind to sculpt a body for visual appeal; true enough. It is the kind that makes the body a functional, strong machine that can carry 100lb bags of feed up a mountain in the snow when you only weigh 138lbs yourself. The type of strong that lets you swing 75b hay bales up on a trailer 100 times while working on your natural "tan." I’m also talking about emotional strength. The small stuff suddenly is just that: Small. You are too busy with things worth your while to worry about the nonsense that creates personal drama, thankfully. And if the drama makes it to you, your response is usually going to be: "Meh, whatever. I have goats to milk." You realize what makes the world go round isn’t snarky nonsense or failing to have a clean floor or even clean children. You are better able to deal with real crisis, think fast and ignore the nonsense.

9. Family

Without farming, I’d still have a really great spouse and good kids, but with our ‘sometimes’ farm, life is such a team effort where skills and experiences will last a lifetime and apply across the board, it takes everything a step further. I need my oldest to feed the goat kids while I milk. I need the little ones to gather eggs because I forget. I depend on them to see the things I miss, a chicken who limps, a goat gone wandering to the neighbors or whatever else that I fail to note. They know that the heavy responsibilities here mean time is short and of great value. We have learned life isn’t about just Us, by a long shot. We are conscientious caregivers, and we are Thankful all of the time.

In a world where so little is real, where almost no work is required and the spirit is left void and wanting. . . even producing or nurturing one thing that, in turn, feeds you or otherwise nourishes you is of more value than I ever expected those 6 years ago when I began a ‘Sometimes’ farm that requires work all of the time.

The idea of walking away leaves me feeling blank and desolate, even though there isn’t a lot of tangible reason as to why.

But one day, if I find myself without cows, chickens and goats in my yard, the lessons I’ve learned, the values and skills my children will have, will always make every single moment worth it. I’ve finally become very sure.

http://www.thevegetarianhomesteader.com/…/if-i-never-farm-a…

SOURCE

Seed Freedom Call to Action 2016


Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly
The Hague 14-16 October

We are happy to inform you that Navdanya – along with multiple civil society organizations – is co-organizing a People’s Assembly for the future of food and the future of our planet at the Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague from 14th to 16th October 2016.

The Monsanto Tribunal will hold Monsanto and Co. accountable for their crimes against humanity, human rights violations and ecocide, regardless of what name and form they morph into.

In the last century big agribusiness of today with roots in war have poisoned millions of people, destroyed biodiversity, pushed small farmers off their land, and attempted to take over every aspect of our life. The potential of this harm increases as these corporations become fewer and bigger. An example is the recent bid by Bayer to buy Monsanto. (and once again join hands to make poisons as MoBay and becoming the IG Farben of our times.)

Using free trade neoliberal policies and deregulation of commerce to enlarge their empires, these corporations are attacking life on earth and biodiversity. They have broadened their control over our seed, our food and freedom, robbing us of our human rights and democracy. They have established monopolies and threatened farmers’ rights to seed and people’s rights to affordable medicine through patents and IPRs.

The People’s Assembly will be a gathering of movements, seed savers, seed defenders, farmers and growers and civilians to address the crimes against nature and against humanity perpetrated by chemical and biotechnology corporations. We will also chart the road to our future based on Seed Freedom and Food Freedom, agroecology and farmers rights, our commons and economies of sharing, rights of nature and earth democracy.

Learn more: http://seedfreedom.info/campaign/peoplesassembly-at-mt-the-hague/

Should you want to participate, create a workshop and/or put up a stand, please send a request to info [@] peoplesassembly.net

See People’s Assembly draft program HERE

See Monsanto Tribunal draft program HERE

International Monsanto Tribunal Official Website: http://www.monsanto-tribunal.org/


Seed Freedom Call to Action 2016

People’s Assemblies for the Future of our Food and the Future of our Planet  — 2nd – 16th October 2016 — Everywhere

It is with the same spirit which led us to co-organise the actions at The Hague, that we invite you to organise People’s Assemblies – wherever you are – as this year’s actions for Seed Freedom and Food Freedom; and both, do a public trial of Monsanto as well as create a system of our food free of the poisons and the poisons makers.

From the 2nd of October to the 16th of October, organize People’s Assemblies everywhere, to stop a century of ecocide and genocide, so we can re-begin to start living with peace on the earth.

Those who brought us the concentration camps, the poisons of the green revolution, GMO’s and patents of seeds, and now the new extermination tools of gene editing and drives, need to be tried for crimes against the earth and crimes against humanity.

As earth citizens, we have a duty to protect the earth and we have a right to protect our lives and that of future generations. And even while we trial them for their crimes we must celebrate life on earth, our capacity to work with the earth as co-creators.

Peace, love, celebration, diversity is what we hope in October you will organize wherever you are in your own way.

LEARN MORE ON HOW TO JOIN THE CALL TO ACTION: http://seedfreedom.info/campaign/call-to-action-2016/

Add your upcoming People’s Assemblies/events/actions to the Seed Freedom calendar http://seedfreedom.info/events/submit-your-event/

Watch Dr Vandana Shiva’s video messages:

  1. https://youtu.be/mdpFI_veT64
  2. https://youtu.be/EIOYm5dEHoc

Key Dates

15th – 16th October – The Hague, Netherlands: International Monsanto Tribunal

14th – 16th October – The Hague, Netherlands: People’s Assembly for the Future of our Food and the Future of our Planet.

2nd – 16th October – Everywhere: Local People’s Assemblies for the Future of our Food and the Future of our Planet.

16th October: World Food Day – Everywhere: Monsanto Protests/Marches against Monsanto.


Downloads

Seed Freedom Leaflet
Poison Cartel – Toxic Capital Poster
Seeding Freedom Poster
Monsanto Tribunal Poster

Also Read:


Dr Vandana Shiva’s recent articles:

By Dr Vandana Shiva – The Indian Express, 26 August 2016

By Dr Vandana Shiva – Scroll.in, 22 August 2016

By Dr Vandana Shiva – The Asian Age, 10 August 2016

By Dr Vandana Shiva, 7 July 2016

By Dr Vandana Shiva – The Asian Age, 16 June 2016

By Dr Vandana Shiva – Scroll.in, 31 May 2016

By Dr Vandana Shiva – The Asian Age, 19 May 2016

By Dr Vandana Shiva, 27 March 2016

By Dr Vandana Shiva, 20 November 2015

By Dr Vandana Shiva – Common Dreams, 20 May 2015


Build-up Events and Actions on the way to October 2016:

New Delhi, 17 August 2016

Allahabad, India, 10 August 2016

Berlin, 27 June 2016

Global Action, 21 May 2016

New Delhi, 21 May 2016

Greece, 6 – 8 May 2016 — Bulgaria, 14 – 15 May 2016

Paris, 3 December 2015


Further Actions for Seed Freedom

Join Seed Freedom online:
Website – http://seedfreedom.info
Twitter – https://twitter.com/occupytheseed
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/savetheseed
Facebook Event: http://bit.ly/SF2-16Oct15
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/occupytheseed
Email: info [at] peoplesassembly [dot] com

Mike Lewis and the Growing Warriors


By Andrew Baker  – Sep 20, 2016

 

mike-lewis-and-the-growing-warriors

One of the things I love most about our industry is that it’s constantly being shaken up. Everywhere you look, there’s an individual or a company taking things to a previously unprecedented level. What’s even more amazing is the pace at which things are moving; a pace that’s only going to increase in speed as the industry becomes more open and recognized.

To help illustrate what I mean, think about this: If you have kids that are, say 5 years old or younger, there is a good chance that you won’t need to teach them how to drive. At least not the way you or I learned. It’s entirely possible that our kids will never have to grab a steering wheel or press a gas pedal.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait while you go ahead and put your brain back together.

But you see, these types of technological advancements aren’t being made in exclusivity. Strides like what I described above aren’t possible simply because the automobile industry is so advanced. The technology that would go into a self-driving car could be repurposed, tweaked just a little bit, and put to use in something like virtual reality. It can, and often does, work the other way around as well.

The cannabis industry is no exception, as we’re starting to see. I really enjoy tech — and I’m obsessed with entrepreneurship — so the flood of cannabis startups is an exciting thing to watch. Typing all this out makes me realize two things. One, I haven’t tackled this sort of topic in any of my previous posts. Two, I’m eager to do so for you guys.

But that’ll have to wait.

What? You thought all of that was to lead up to me covering some sort of futuristic weed tech? Nope. I just needed a good segue to what I’ll be talking about in today’s post. Who, actually, not what.

His name is Mike Lewis and he’s shaking things up in a simple but powerful way and he’s doing it with just his hands and his voice.

Mike Lewis! Who? Mike Lewis!

Aside from any readers I have out of Houston, who got the song reference?

In all seriousness though, Mike Lewis is a name you’ll come to know quite well if you don’t already. We’ll start with the basics. Mike is a proud husband, father, veteran of the United States Army and Kentucky farmer. In 2012, he established Growing Warriors, the first veteran-oriented food security organization. 

There are about one million veterans and active duty military personnel receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as food stamps. It’s also no secret that the unemployment rate among veterans is unacceptably high. (To be fair, it is declining at a considerable rate.)  Mike’s answer to this issue? Teach them how to grow and preserve their own food while banding together within their communities. This was accomplished by forming partnerships with cities, veteran hospitals, educational institutions, and community based organizations in order to provide veterans with hands on, curriculum-based learning opportunities. Since it’s inception, Growing Warriors has been able to help dozens of veteran families produce tens of thousands of pounds in organic produce.

Keep in mind that I’m just giving you a brief introduction. Mike’s, and the Growing Warriors’, efforts extend across multiple states and I could easily fill out the rest of this post by diving deep into everything they’re doing. For today, though, I want to bring your attention to what Mike and the Growing Warriors are doing for our industry, specifically the industrial hemp side of things.

Harvesting Liberty With Growing Warriors

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this short documentary film, Harvesting Liberty. Backed and presented by Patagonia, this film aims to address and shed light on the legalization of industrial hemp in the United States. Seriously, stop reading this, open that link in another tab, take the next 12 minutes of your day to watch it, then come back here to finish up and talk to me about what you think.

A couple of years ago, President Obama signed the Agriculture Act of 2014 — the Farm Bill — into effect. There’s a section of this act titled Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research. Basically, this section allows for universities and state departments of agriculture — in states where hemp is legal to grow — to grow hemp for research or pilot programs. Back in the 1800’s, Kentucky dominated the industrial hemp market. So, it’s quite fitting that a group of Kentucky farmers, Mike and the Growing Warriors, were given permission to cultivate 5 acres. 

As soon as they got their seeds, Mike “threw ‘em the ground really quickly before anybody changed their mind.”

American Hemp Flag

I found two things to be really interesting while watching that documentary and doing further research afterward.

First, the way Mike and his team go about processing the harvested hemp into useable materials. Get this: it’s done entirely by hand. When you think about it, that actually makes sense. Industrial hemp hasn’t been cultivated in America since it was listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, so of course there’s no hemp processing machinery just laying around waiting to be used. Even if there was, Mike wanted to use traditional methods to weave what he had in store. More on that in a moment, though.

They begin by using a process known as retting. Put simply, retting is the natural process of allowing moisture and microorganisms to remove the sugars in the stalk that hold all the fibers together. Once the plant has been retted completely, it’s moved to the barn for drying. What follows is called breaking, or decorticating. The hemp stalk is run through a hand powered machine that crushes the stalk and separates each of the fibers. Once separated, the fibers are spun together using spinners that are, once again, hand powered.

The second thing that really caught my interest (and by that I mean it had me grinning from ear to ear) is what they decided to make with the materials that came from this first harvest.

An American Flag. (Not sorry if I’m spoiling anything because I told you to stop and watch the documentary!)

“We made this American ingenuity with people from all walks of life. Life and society are not uniform or standardized in any way. This flag represents the bumps and ridges in our society and the great things that happen when we accept differences and work to solve problems. It represents all of us and our future.”

Nationwide Legalization of Industrial Hemp

On the 4th of July, Mike delivered that flag to Congress along with a speech in support of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015/2016. This act proposes the nationwide legalization of industrial hemp cultivation, something I’ll be digging into in a later article.

Mike takes a stance that you don’t see often in this industry and its activists. While he’s obviously in full support of legalization and bringing industrial hemp farming back to America, he also recognizes the need to take it slow. There’s a lot of mistakes left to be made and we need to let those kinks get worked out before attempting to blow up the market. Not only that, but there’s a ton of misinformation out there when it comes to hemp. Most of the public still doesn’t understand that hemp isn’t the same as its THC-laden counterpart cannabis.  

There’s a lot that can be said about Mike Lewis and all the work he’s putting out into the world. If I had to pick one thing, it would be that he’s solid proof that you don’t have to be a high tech startup out of San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, or Denver to effect real change on the cannabis industry. Those types of businesses have their place and I’m rooting for them. I just think it’s important that you don’t forget that there’s a place for you outside of an office space, if that’s where you’d rather be.

Interested in growing hemp or getting involved? You can learn more over at the National Hemp Association and the Hemp Industries Association.

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