Farmers And Ranchers Are Completely Screwed By American Healthcare

"A new USDA-funded study led by researchers at the University of Vermont surveyed a thousand farmers and ranchers scattered among ten representative states (CA, WA, UT, NE, MI, KY, MS, PA, VT, MA). The survey aimed to find out exactly what the realities and concerns are among workers in the agricultural field about their healthcare in order to better understand the impact of the Affordable Care Act on farmers—and help inform policy going forward."

"The findings are pretty grim. Twenty-four percent of farmers aged 18 to 64 purchased a plan on the healthcare exchange, which doesn’t sound like all that much until you learn that 72 percent of farmers are forced to get a second job, primarily for healthcare purposes. With a whopping 64 percent of farmers and ranchers reporting a pre-existing condition, the state of that provision within American healthcare is paramount; almost half of all the farmers and ranchers surveyed are concerned they’ll have to sell land or equipment to pay for healthcare."

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.”