It’s time for vegans to get real

"But it’s all different now, of course. Vegans can afford to criticise current farming systems on the back of the modern lifestyle, which they enjoy. But they should remember that all of the great industrial and technological breakthroughs achieved by mankind have their origins in the agricultural revolution that started some 10,000 years ago.

Had it not been for the intensification of farming practices, the opportunities to achieve all of these other wonderful breakthroughs would never have happened.
Or let me put it another way. Our forefathers only got the chance to think about the bigger picture once they, no longer, had to spend all day hunting and foraging for food. In essence, farmers took over this responsibility on their behalf."

Researchers test self-destructing moth pest in cabbage patch

"Researchers in a New York cabbage patch are planning the first release on American soil of insects genetically engineered to die before they can reproduce. It’s a pesticide-free attempt to control invasive diamondback moths, a voracious consumer of cabbage, broccoli and other cruciferous crops that’s notorious for its ability to shrug off every new poison in the agricultural arsenal."

"Shelton is doing field tests of gene-altered moths at Cornell’s Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, 160 miles west of Albany. Those experiments began in 2015, but until now were restricted to net-covered plots to keep the moths from straying. Now, he’s awaiting a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to release the moths freely in a 10-acre cabbage patch at the research center. He hopes to do that this summer."

Two Scientists, Two Different Approaches To Saving Bees From Poison Dust

"That pipe is close to the ground. When a tractor pulls this planter across a field, dust will get sucked into this opening, along with air. Inside the planting mechanism, "the air is rushing past that seed, it's laden with dirt, and it's acting like a sandblaster," Schaafsma says. That dirt grinds a little bit of the neonicotinoid coating from the seed, and then carries the pesticide dust with it as it exhausts from the planter, straight up into the air.

That's normally how the planter works. But Schaafsma has made some changes on this one, outfitting it with special dust traps, similar to high-quality vacuum cleaner filters. "We're probably filtering 99 percent of what comes out of the exhaust," he says.

Schaafsma thinks that this equipment, if installed on all seed planters, would eliminate most of the risk to bees from neonicotinoid-treated seeds."

Organic Farming is Bad for the Environment

""The evidence is clear that organic farming on any meaningful scale is significantly less land efficient than conventional farming. That may, in fact, be part of the motivation for organic opposition to GMOs – they know they can’t compete. With increased use of GMO technology, the production difference is likely to increase. Imagine if scientists are successful in tweaking photosynthesis or making varieties that fix their own nitrogen. The organic lobby needs to stop our scientific advance in agriculture if they are to remain viable."

How ACA Repeal Would Hurt Farmers and Rural Communities

"The ACA has been a mixed bag for agriculture. While many large farms balked at the requirement to ensure their employees (experts say it cost farm employers in California about $1 per hour per employee working in the field), most small-scale farmers often opted out of insurance all together before the ACA, or sought off-farm employment in order to get coverage through an employer’s plan. A 2015 USDA blog post notes that prior to the ACA, rural families struggled to find affordable healthcare, “paying an average of nearly half of their costs out of their own pockets” and that “one in five farmers is in debt because of medical bills.”

U.S. Farmers Want to Grow World’s Costliest Spice

"As spring crocus blooms approach, some growers have visions of a fall-flowering crocus that produces saffron, the world's most valuable spice.

University of Vermont researchers have been raising the exotic spice now grown primarily in Iran and are encouraging growers to tap into what they hope will be a cash crop.

It's not a hard sell, particularly in the short growing season of the Northeast. A crop harvested in the late fall, when other crops have died off, that tolerates extreme climates and yields an average of $19 per gram."

Google World Maps: 2014 Agricultural Output Per Worker

While the United States and Canada have some of the most productive farms in the world, France and Norway produce slightly more economic output per person employed in agriculture.

Notes from the World Bank: Agriculture comprises value added from forestry, hunting, and fishing as well as cultivation of crops and livestock production. Data are in constant 2000 U.S. dollars. Agricultural productivity is measured by value added per unit of input. Agricultural value added includes that from forestry and fishing. Thus interpretations of land productivity should be made with caution. Among the difficulties faced by compilers of national accounts is the extent of unreported economic activity in the informal or secondary economy. In developing countries a large share of agricultural output is either not exchanged (because it is consumed within the household) or not exchanged for money. Agricultural production often must be estimated indirectly, using a combination of methods involving estimates of inputs, yields, and area under cultivation. This approach sometimes leads to crude approximations that can differ from the true values over time and across crops for reasons other than climate conditions or farming techniques. Data on employment are drawn from labor force surveys, household surveys, official estimates, censuses and administrative records of social insurance schemes, and establishment surveys when no other information is available. The concept of employment generally refers to people above a certain age who worked, or who held a job, during a reference period. Employment data include both full-time and part-time workers.

Data Source: World Bank, Economic Indicators. Table 3.3. Agriculture value added per worker (constant 2010 US$) (EA.PRD.AGRI.KD). http://wdi.worldbank.org/table/3.3#

Real Gross Domestic Product – Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting for New York

While the gross domestic product varies a lot from year to year based on commodity prices, the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting industry in New York has seen some growth in real (inflation-adjusted terms) in recent years.

Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Real Gross Domestic Product by Industry: Private Industries: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting for New York [NYAGRRGSP], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/NYAGRRGSP, February 24, 2017.

Google Maps: Maple Trees Tapped

This interactive google map shows how many maple taps were driven in for each county. New York State and Vermont are the nation's biggest maple producers, but there are several other states that have smaller numbers of trees tapped. This is a consolidation of county level data, those counties with only one farm reporting maple production, were not included in the survey results, which depresses tap counts in counties that are marginal maple producers.

Data Source: USDA Agriculture Census, 2012. Maple Taps. Counts. https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/

Google Maps: Meat Goat Production

Goat meat, aka chevon and cabrito, capretto, or kid is not a real popular commodity in the United States, although there are some very large meat goat farms in Texas and some pockets of meat goat farms in Oklahoma, Tennessee and a few other states. Most counties have some farms raising meat goats, but for the most part, it's not a major commodity, as people don't raise goats commercially much in the United States for food.

More about meat goats: https://www.southernstates.com/articles/raising-meat-goats.asp
Data Source: USDA Agriculture Census, 2012. Goats for meat. Counts. https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/