Tag Archives: Agriculture

Biden Urged to ‘Be the Hero’ to Save American Bumblebee From Extinction

“It is our hope that the Biden administration grasps the gravity of this moment.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-1-2021

Failure to secure Endangered Species Act protections for the American bumblebee, said the the Center for Biological Diversity’s Jess Tyler, could risk “losing this iconic part of the American landscape forever.” (Photo: Xerces Society / Katie Lamke)

Warning that threats including the climate crisis and pesticides are pushing the American bumblebee toward extinction, two conservation groups on Monday urged the Biden administration to give federal protections to the native pollinator.

“We’re asking President [Joe] Biden to be the hero that steps up and saves the American bumblebee from extinction,” said Jess Tyler, an entomologist and staff scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “It’s unthinkable that we would carelessly allow this fuzzy, black-and-yellow beauty to disappear forever.” Continue reading

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Amid Broader Concerns Over Biden USDA Nominee, Watchdog Flags ‘Disturbing Suppression’ of Science by Vilsack

“Unless he pledges to implement significant safeguards for scientists, Tom Vilsack should not be confirmed. The days in which federal agencies function as scientific gulags should be behind us.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-29-2021

Tom Vilsack during the 2008 transition. Photo: Obama Biden Transition Project/CC

On top of concerns about his close industry ties, corporate-friendly policy record, and alarming civil rights history, President Joe Biden’s Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack is also facing scrutiny over what one watchdog organization on Friday characterized as “disturbing” evidence that he improperly meddled in and suppressed scientific research during his previous tenure as head of USDA.

Throughout his nearly eight years as former President Barack Obama’s USDA chief, Vilsack “routinely interfered with scientific work that big agriculture found bothersome,” the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) alleged in a statement Friday, pointing to the direct testimony and survey responses of department scientists. Continue reading

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Two-thirds of Earth’s land is on pace to lose water as the climate warms – that’s a problem for people, crops and forests

Cape Town residents queued up for water as the taps nearly ran dry in 2018. Morgana Wingard/Getty Images

Yadu Pokhrel, Michigan State University

The world watched with a sense of dread in 2018 as Cape Town, South Africa, counted down the days until the city would run out of water. The region’s surface reservoirs were going dry amid its worst drought on record, and the public countdown was a plea for help.

By drastically cutting their water use, Cape Town residents and farmers were able to push back “Day Zero” until the rain came, but the close call showed just how precarious water security can be. California also faced severe water restrictions during its recent multiyear drought. And Mexico City is now facing water restrictions after a year with little rain. Continue reading

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Indigenous Leaders Furious After EPA Grants Oklahoma Control Over Sovereign Tribal Lands

“We must fight back against this underhanded ruling,” said one Indigenous leader. “In the courts, on the frontlines and in the international courts, life itself is at stake.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-5-2020

The Oklahoma State Capitol is the only one in the nation containing a working oil rig on its grounds. (Photo: duggar11/Flickr cc)

In a little-noticed development last week that drew ire after being reported Monday, the Trump administration’s EPA granted the state of Oklahoma wide-ranging environmental regulatory control on nearly all tribal lands in the state, stripping dozens of tribes of their sovereignty over critical environmental issues.

The Young Turks which first reported the news, obtained a copy of an October 1 letter (pdf) from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler granting a request by Republican Gov. J. Kevin Stitt for control of environmental regulations on tribal land on a wide range of issues, including: Continue reading

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Trump EPA Denounced for ‘Disgusting’ Decision on Atrazine, Herbicide Tied to Birth Defects

One critic warned that “this decision imperils the health of our children and the safety of drinking water supplies across much of the nation.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-19-2020

Atrazine is mostly used on corn, according to Civil Eats, “but also on sorghum, sugarcane, and a few other crops, as well as on golf courses, Christmas tree farms, and in residential landscaping.” (Photo: TumblingRun/flickr/cc)

The Trump administration alarmed environmental and public health advocates on Friday with the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reauthorize the use of atrazine, an herbicide common in the United States but banned or being phased out in dozens of countries due to concerns about risks such as birth defects and cancer.

“Use of this extremely dangerous pesticide should be banned, not expanded,” declared Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). “This disgusting decision directly endangers the health of millions of Americans.” Continue reading

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“Touted as ‘Essential’… Treated as Disposable”: Labor Day Anger as Migrant Farm Workers Toil Inside Wildfire Evacuation Zones

“For the workers, their hands were forced by a combination of circumstances as toxic as the ash that falls over the region’s famous vineyards.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-7-2020

Photo via salud-america.org

This Labor Day, immigrant and worker’s rights advocates are sounding the alarm in response to reports of migrant grape pickers, many of whom are undocumented, being forced to work in fire evacuation zones by California growers in a situation critics say demonstrates how some of those deemed “essential” at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic have been rendered “disposable” in the face of a record-setting heat wave and extremely dangerous conditions.

While the threat of flames and smoke was strong enough in Sonoma County to provoke the relocation of area residents, “the county agriculture commissioner invited workers to continue laboring in the fields, doling out evacuation-area access passes to dozens of agricultural producers,” Alleen Brown reported for The Intercept. Continue reading

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How Trump is opening the way for the Taliban to take Afghanistan back

Trump’s eagerness to ‘bring our boys home’ is leaving the Afghan government with little power to resist the Taliban afterwards.

By Paul Rogers. Published 7-31-2020 by openDemocracy

Goodbye Afghanistan | US Air Force photo by Clay Lancaster. Public domain.

One of Donald Trump’s main election pledges back in 2016 was to ‘bring our boys home’. Alongside this came criticism of Germany and other NATO states for not paying their way on military spending. He has followed up on both themes this week, by starting to reduce the US presence in Germany, albeit shifting some to Poland and leaving all the mechanisms of a rapid return in place, so that the extent of the ‘back home’ is far from what it appears.

Extricating US forces from Middle East is another matter. Many army units are consolidating in fewer bases in Iraq or moving to nearby Kuwait. The US Navy is holding on, too, mainly because of the confrontation with Iran. It currently has two carrier battle groups within reach of the region. Continue reading

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USDA’s $19 Billion in COVID-19 Relief for Farmers and Food Banks Sparks Questions About Who Will Benefit

The new plan, says the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, “lacks critical details to confirm whether it will actually reach all who need it.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-18-2020

Photo via salud-america.org

While some industry trade associationshunger relief organizations, and federal lawmakers welcomed the Trump administration’s new pledge to provide $19 billion in relief from the coronavirus pandemic to farmers and food banks nationwide, policy groups, and reporters highlighted that the announcement lacked critical details about who will benefit.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the plan at a Friday night press briefing with President Donald Trump. The president said that “the program will include direct payments to farmers as well as mass purchases of dairy, meat, and agricultural produce to get that food to the people in need.” Continue reading

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‘Victory for Farmers’ as Jury Awards Grower $265 Million in Damages From Drift of Monsanto’s Dicamba

“This verdict is just the tip of the iceberg.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-17-2020

Field day participants make their way past dicamba damaged soybeans to hear University of Arkansas System Div of Ag Weed Scientist Jason Norsworthy talk about volatility of dicamba products on Aug 8, 2017. Photo: uacescomm’flickr/CC

German chemicals giant Bayer announced Monday its intention to “swiftly appeal” a U.S. jury’s decision to award a Missouri peach farmer over $265 million in compensation for years of crop losses as a result of drifting dicamba weedkiller.

The legal challenge was the first dicamba suit to go to trial and was brought forth by Bill and Denise Bader, owners of Bader farms. Dicamba is produced by Monsanto, which Bayer acquired in 2018. Continue reading

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With 14 ‘Billion-Dollar Disasters’ and Record-Breaking Heat in Alaska and Across South, 2019 Was a Year of Climate Extremes for US

“Americans are put at risk by the serious consequences of the climate crisis.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-8-2020

A fire burns near the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Screenshot: ABC News

Underscoring the need for urgent climate action, a new report on the climate of the United States in 2019 sheds light on numerous weather and temperature extremes that were observed throughout the year and the record amounts of money spent on weather disasters.

Alaska was among the states which recorded unusually high temperatures in 2019, according to an annual summary released Wednesday by NOAA ahead of its full U.S. Climate Report, which is scheduled to be released next week. Continue reading

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