Category Archives: Agriculture

We mapped how food gets from farms to your home

Where has your produce been? CoolR/Shutterstock.com

Megan Konar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

My team at the University of Illinois just developed the first high-resolution map of the U.S. food supply chain.

Our map is a comprehensive snapshot of all food flows between counties in the U.S. – grains, fruits and vegetables, animal feed, and processed food items.

To build the map, we brought together information from eight databases, including the Freight Analysis Framework from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which tracks where items are shipped around the country, and Port Trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which shows the international ports through which goods are traded. Continue reading

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‘We Have to Get This Right’: Historic Bill in US House Would Create Specific Protections for Climate Refugees

“If we are going to meaningfully discuss comprehensive climate equity and climate justice, we must inject security assistance and resettlement opportunities for climate-displaced persons into our conversations.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-24-2019

A group of Syrian refugees arrives on the island of Lesbos after traveling in an inflatable raft from Turkey near Skala Sikaminias, Greece on July 15, 2015. (Photo: UNHCR/Andrew McConnell)

Rep. Nydia Velázquez on Wednesday introduced historic legislation in the Democrat-controlled House that would establish formal federal protections in the United States for refugees fleeing impacts of the human-caused global climate crisis.

“If we are going to meaningfully discuss comprehensive climate equity and climate justice, we must inject security assistance and resettlement opportunities for climate-displaced persons into our conversations,” the New York congresswoman said in a statement. Continue reading

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‘Unacceptable’: Family Farms, Ag Advocates Hit Back After Sec Perdue Says Small Dairy Farms Destined to Die

“Five years of plunging farm prices, increasing bankruptcies, and climbing suicide rates were not discussed by Perdue. His message to them was basically, stop whining, your demise is inevitable.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-2-2019

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visits The World Dairy Expo and holds a stakeholder townhall in Madison, Wisconsin, October 1, 2019. (Photo: USDA/Flickr)

Furious family farmers flamed Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Wednesday after comments he made on the future of the dairy business that cast doubt on the future of small farms during a stop in Wisconsin Tuesday.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” said Perdue. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” Continue reading

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200+ Groups Denounce UN-WEF Agreement That Entrenches Corporate Interests Driving Global ‘Social and Environmental Crises’

“It moves the world dangerously towards a privatized and undemocratic global governance.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-27-2019

Samir Saran, President, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), India, Alice Bunn, Director, International, UK Space Agency, United Kingdom, Frederick Kempe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Atlantic Council, USA speaking during the Session “Future Frontiers of Technology Control ” in “Situation Room” at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 22, 2018. Photo: Greg Beadle – World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

Over 200 civil society groups this week voiced their firm opposition to a recently-inked agreement between the United Nations and World Economic Forum that stands to further entrench transnational corporations and their interests in global governance.

“It moves the world dangerously towards a privatized and undemocratic global governance,” said Gonzalo Berrón of Transnational Institute. Continue reading

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UN Climate Report on Oceans, Frozen Regions Warns ‘Unprecedented Transitions in All Aspects of Society’ Needed to Sustain Life on Earth

Describing scientists’ latest warnings as “chilling and compelling,” environmentalists called for “enacting radical policies” that protect marine ecosystems and fully phase out fossil fuels.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-25-2019

An iceberg floats in Disko Bay, near Ilulissat, Greenland, on July 24, 2015. (Photo: Saskia Madlener/NASA/Flickr/cc)

A landmark United Nations climate report published Wednesday details the observed and anticipated future impacts of planet-heating emissions from human activity on the world’s oceans and frozen zones—and warns of the emerging consequences for humanity, marine ecosystems, and the global environment.

The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) is a product of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a U.N. body that assesses the latest science related to the human-caused climate crisis. It follows recent IPCC reports on the consequences of 1.5°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels and the necessity of reforming land use practices worldwide. Continue reading

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Trump Rollback of Key EPA Water Protection Rule Denounced as ‘Callous’ and ‘Immoral’ Giveaway to Big Polluters

“This is shameful and dangerous.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-12-2019

As the Trump administration repealed the 2015 Clean Water Rule Thursday, one critic warned that “the EPA’s callous decision endangers communities and threatens our environment.” (Photo: Varanos/Flickr/cc)

Environmental and public health advocates blasted the Trump administration Thursday for finalizing its rollback of an Obama-era regulation designed to curb the pollution of waterways nationwide.

“Fifty years after the Cuyahoga River fire that inspired the Clean Water Act, President Trump’s administration wants to turn back the clock to the days of poisoned flammable water,” declared Abigail Dillen, president of the non-profit legal group Earthjustice. “This is shameful and dangerous.” Continue reading

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How climate change is driving emigration from Central America

A farmer carries firewood during the dry season in Nicaragua, one of the Central American countries affected by a recent drought. Neil Palmer for CIAT/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Miranda Cady Hallett, University of Dayton

Clouds of dust rose behind the wheels of the pickup truck as we hurtled over the back road in Palo Verde, El Salvador. When we got to the stone-paved part of the road, the driver slowed as the truck heaved up and down with the uneven terrain. Riding in the back bed of the truck, Ruben (not his real name) and I talked while we held on tight, sitting on sacks of dried beans that he was taking to market.

“It doesn’t come out right,” he said, “it just doesn’t pay anymore to work the land. I take out a loan for seed, and then I can’t count on making it back to pay off my debt.” Continue reading

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Tipping Point: UN Biodiversity Chief Warns Burning of Amazon Could Lead to ‘Cascading Collapse of Natural Systems’

“If we don’t work together, we are going to die together.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-30-2019

The fires engulfing the Amazon rain forest are a sign that the Earth is approaching an environmental and ecological “tipping point” that all of humanity must work together to avoid, the U.N.’s top biodiversity expert said Friday. (Photo: ©Victor Moriyama/Greenpeace)

Unless world governments, consumers, and businesses all work together to address the root causes of the current burning of the Amazon rain forest, the Arctic, and forests in the Congo and Angola, the planet will continue careening toward a point of no return, the U.N.’s top biodiversity expert said Friday.

Cristiana Paşca Palmer, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, called the fires that have torn through more than 1,300 square miles of the Amazon this year “extraordinarily concerning.” Continue reading

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As New Fires Rage in Amazon, Global Calls for Urgent Action to Avert ‘Astronomical’ Impacts to ‘Life on Earth’

Pope Francis urges protection of “that lung of forests” and French President Macron says G7 nations pledged help at summit

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-25-2019

The latest official figures show 79,513 forest fires have been recorded in the country this year, the highest number of any year since 2013. More than half of those are in the massive Amazon basin. Experts say increased land clearing during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing has aggravated the problem this year. Photo: @capnfrenchie/Twitter

Brazil’s army on Sunday deployed aircraft to battle the raging fires in the Amazon as global concern and outrage over the potential consequences—and the destructive causes—of the disaster grow.

The military operations involving C-130 aircraft to put out fires came after Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro triggered global protests over his government’s policies and failure to take swift action to combat the flames. Continue reading

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Health and Labor Groups Sue Trump EPA for Refusal to Ban Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage in Children

“Farmworkers, families, and developing children must be safe from chlorpyrifos.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-8-2019

The Environmental Protection Agency ended household use of chlorpyrifos in 2000 but still allowed famers to use it on crops, including corn. (Photo: Pixabay)

A coalition of health and labor organizations sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over the Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal last month to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide tied to brain damage in children.

Represented by nonprofit environmental legal firm Earthjustice, the 11 groups filed a petition for review (pdf) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, challenging EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s July decision to reject the call from environmental groups for a ban on the pesticide. Continue reading

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