Aug 11, 2017

A people's food policy for England


Stepping away from market imperatives frees our minds and thinking about food and farm production. Agriculture and food systems, the resources needed for producing food and the landscapes where this takes place are a kind of commons or a public good. The more food is viewed as a public good, the less appropri­ate it is that the productive factors needed to produce foods, seeds, land, water etc., are private property and provided by the market. ...Rethinking food as a right, farming as a management system of the planet and the food system as a commons is what I would call a real shift in paradigm (a most overused word!). It doesn’t rule out markets as one of several mechanisms for food distribu­tion, but does it reject market hegemony over our food supplies, and rejects the view that market forces are the best way of allocating food producing resources.

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If the allegations are true that billions of litres of water worth millions of dollars were illegally extracted, this would represent one of the largest thefts in Australian history. It would have social and economic consequences for communities along the entire length of the Murray-Darling river system, and for the river itself, after years of trying to restore its health.

Water is big business, big politics and a big player in our environment. Taxpayers have spent $13 billion on water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin in the past decade, hundreds of millions of which have gone directly to state governments. Governments have an obligation to ensure that this money is well spent.

The revelations cast doubt on the states’ willingness to do this, and even on their commitment to the entire Murray-Darling Basin Plan. This commitment needs to be reaffirmed urgently. 

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Aug 10, 2017

Chemical spray damage results in record $7m negligence court payout

A farmer has been awarded $7 million in damages for losses caused by a neighbour's negligent spraying.
For grape grower, Tony Caccaviello, it has been a four-year legal fight for compensation, after a mix of toxic chemicals destroyed his vineyard in northern Victoria.
In Spring 2013, Mr Caccaviello noticed his vineyard, near Swan Hill, looked different. The leaves were 'translucent' and covered in yellow spots.
He initially he thought the vineyard had been hit by a bad frost.
The Supreme Court of Victoria later heard a cloud of agricultural chemicals, all deadly to grapevines, had blown across the vineyard from his neighbour, Rodney Hayden's property.
In Mr Caccaviello's case, the chemicals involved; 2,4-D, glyphosate and metsulfuron-methyl, are toxic to grapevines and never used in vineyards.

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Aug 8, 2017

Re-coupling the carbon and water cycles by Natural Sequence Farming

This is a scholarly article, to be used only for research purposes.
Cited from International Journal of Water.
Norris, D., and Andrews, P. Re-coupling the carbon and water cycles by Natural Sequence Farming. Int.J.Water, Vol. 5, No. 4. 2010, pp 386-395.
DOWNLOAD LINK:Re-coupling the carbon and water cycles by Natural Sequence Farming

Aug 6, 2017

New 'Soil Alliance' facebook group

To encourage ongoing discussion, we've established a discussion group on facebook HERE. 
You are welcome to join.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/soilalliance/

More launches for Sustainable Agriculture book

The Resistance Books title on Sustainable Agriculture versus Corporate Greed continues to attract attention. Author Alan Broughton helped launch the book in Moruya on July 29.

The launch went well with 25 people attending, all very interested.

Two more launches are coming up around Adelaide on Thursday (Adelaide) and Saturday (Willuna) this week. Please help promote these where you can.

The Ranges Organic Growers Association have also approached Alan asking him to talk on the book at their next meeting on August 25 in Ferntree Gully.
Here are the details of the Adelaide launches. Thursday August 10th, 5.45 pm, The Joinery, 111 Franklin St Adelaide; Saturday August 12th, 2.00pm, Willunga Environment Centre, 18 High Street Willunga.

Jul 31, 2017

The Killing Fields: photo essay.

In Sri Lanka's North Central province, a land of crumbling Buddhist temples and gently swaying palms, farmers have cultivated rice for millennia. Until the 1960s, they relied on oxen, not tractors, to plow their fields. But the introduction of mechanized and chemical methods has rendered such time honored techniques extinct. An island nation that once boasted nearly 3,000 ancient rice varieties now produces a handful of modern strains in fields routinely drenched with herbicides and synthetic fertilizers.

As a result, Sri Lankan rice yields have increased by 60 percent since 1979. Unfortunately, a burgeoning public health disaster has arisen alongside this “progress.” Today, a mysterious kidney disease afflicts an estimated 400,000 people in the province, representing about a third of its population.

First-world renal disorders typically accompany obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure, all rare risk factors in rural Southeast Asia. Baffled epidemiologists refer to the illness ravaging Sri Lanka as “chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology,” or CKDu, which results in a slow, torturous death. Sufferers are unable to pass urine, so their limbs swell with toxic fluid, causing constant pain.

Jul 29, 2017

Saving Britain’s food supply: a manifesto to keep food on the table

By Jay Rayner
 
During the early 1990s Britain’s self-sufficiency in food reached its highest in modern times. We were producing just over 70% of all the food we were eating. Since then the story has been one only of decline. We now produce 60%, but because of exports only about 50% of the food we eat is actually produced here. There are a number of reasons for this, but key among them is the dominance of the supermarkets.
In the late 80s and early 90s a series of changes to the planning laws allowed for the building of large out-of-town hypermarkets on greenfield sites, which in turn encouraged the boom in the supermarket sector. That created the food retail landscape we have today in which fewer than a dozen companies control more than 90% of the food retail market.
The supermarkets used that dominance to drive prices ever lower, and with drastic results. This is no knee-jerk negative response to the concept of supermarkets. They have their positives. They have kept pace with social change, shortening the length of time it takes people to get the shopping done, thus enabling the two-job households now required to keep pace with the cost of living. They have been a prime driver of food culture in the UK, providing a ready source of the ingredients consumers have been introduced to via the media. They have enabled huge economies of scale.

Jul 24, 2017

Dreaded weather event twice as common within 35 years: CSIRO

RELATED: Warming whacks wheat yield ; Tougher times for marginal cropping country
DRY, damaging extreme El Niño weather events will be twice as common in a warming world.
Australia is set to suffer at least twice as many extreme El Niño weather events by 2050, even if international efforts to limiting the rise in global mean temperature to 1.5° Celsius are successful.
That’s the unhappy news from new CSIRO research, published today in Nature Climate Change, which projected the the number of extreme El Niño events would grow from four every 100 years to 10 events every 100 years.
The 2015 Paris climate agreement set a warming reduction target for 195 United Nations signatory countries (except the US, which withdrew this year). It aimed to curb carbon emissions to a level where the rise in mean global temperature are restricted to 1.5°C.
But even if efforts to stabilise warming are successful, and the temperature is stabilised at 1.5°C above the current average, extreme El Niños will continue to grow in frequency, reaching 14 every 100 years by 2150.
 

Jul 23, 2017

Indonesian cattle cruelty exhibited at class action trial

DAY three of the Indonesian live cattle ban class action trial was dominated by the defence presenting extensive and intimate details of animal cruelty practices that underpinned the government’s sudden decision to cut off trade.
Lights in the court room were dimmed as Defence Senior Counsel Neil Williams showed selected extracts from the controversial ABC Four Corners episode of May 30, 2011 “A Bloody Business” which was also introduced into trial evidence.
Graphic images of cattle mistreatment ignited the public uproar that applied intense pressure on the former Labor government and a few days after the ABC broadcast the then Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig eventually suspended the entire market for up to six months.
The Federal Court case is being held in Sydney and seeking to prove misfeasance by the commonwealth - claiming about $600 million in damages - in Mr Ludwig’s signing of the second control order that shut trade, to try and address animal welfare standards in Indonesian abattoirs.
On day three, the plaintiff’s Senior Counsel Noel Hutley spent the day presenting his argument and allowed several Four Corners extracts to be shown to the court room.

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