Wenonah Hauter believes that the local food movement is not enough to solve America’s food crisis and the public health debacle it has created. In Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America, she takes aim at the real culprit: the massive consolidation and corporate control of food production. Read an excerpt.
It’s rare that I find myself in agreement with Fox News if that is the source of this story, but bully for agriculture! About two years ago The Daily Beast / Newsweek listed three or four ag related trades on their list of the 20 most useless degrees. FAIL.
Their claimed methodology seemed perfectly reasonable and with the exception of the food and agriculture sector the results matched what we all intuit. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a group called Payscale they identified those degrees “offer(ing) not only the fewest job opportunities, but those that tend to pay the least. The Daily Beast considered the following data points, weighted equally, with each degree’s numbers compared to the average for each category, to achieve a categorical comparison that accounts for differentiation from the mean.” They looked at “1.) starting and mid-career salary levels, using the profession most associated with the degree, 2.) the expected change in the total number of jobs from 2008-2018, (and) 3.) the expected percentage change in available jobs from 2008-2018.”
I’m not sure where the analysis went awry but I suspect that there are relatively fewer agriculture majors, and that sector salaries may be conditioned by the large number of unskilled positions not requiring academic degrees.
Ag folks didn’t let this pass unnoticed. The venerable Hoard’s Dairyman called them out on it. They were similarly perplexed and added to the critique by reminding readers that a $35K starting salary in rural America buys a good deal more than it does in Greenpoint or Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
BTW, if you’re not familiar with Hoard’s visit their website. Their print subscription is probably one of the best media values there is: 60 issues over three years for only $1.66 each. And any date or prospective in-law spying it amongst your magazines will look at you with new found wonder and respect.
Wondering what drives people toward a career in agriculture? Well, the job prospect sure does help!
“Sequencing the genome of wheat was unusually daunting because the wheat genome is five times the size of the human genome, and has 94,000 to 96,000 genes. This sequencing effort involved the identification of essentially all of those genes and mapping their relationship to other genes. Previously, the size and complexity of the wheat genome had been significant barriers to performing a complete analysis, but the scientists overcame that problem by developing a new strategy that compared wheat genetic sequences to known grass genes, such as from rice and barley.” (click the photo to go to the press release which includes a link to the complete article in Nature.)
About the photo: Yeah, it’s gratuitous and borrowed without permission from a site called domai.com . But she’s just so happy - a Persephone in June. Let me know if I’ve stepped past the edge of propriety and should take it down.
It’s no secret that private investment in agricultural research is outpacing public investment. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess who will benefit the most from such investment.
Want to know more? Maybe the authors? Click the link in the press release to the article in Science. Only $20 to download it for the day.
Tom Evans, 61, a small-time grower in northern Mendocino County, is framed by marijuana plants. Veteran Emerald Triangle pot growers see their way of life ending
The second of the two recent articles, this one by Joe Mozinga of the LA Times. Small growers are being pushed out by corporate agriculture. Click the picture to go to the story.
As I predicted Congress recessed without passing the 2012 Farm Bill. Prior to the recess there were the same catastrophic predictions that we heard when they failed to pass the 2008 bill in a timely fashion. Now, from NPR comes the best succinct description I’ve read of the immediate non-consequences. Still, I don’t envy the folks who have to return to Washington for the lame duck session regardless of election results. Can’t say I’ve envied anyone headed to D.C. since leaving in the Reagan administration. Click on the title to go to the NPR article and audiocast.
No single factor accounts for these changes, but industrial agriculture has had a major impact. I strongly suspect an industrial ag model is unsustainable even in the medium term, but this data is darn impressive.
Farm Bill Friday: A coalition, called Farm Bill Now, is comprised of 39 associations and coalitions representing commodity crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, state and local governments, minor crops, energy and biobased product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups, as well as the nation’s two largest farm groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union. Their message: “Calling the farm bill the ‘farm bill’ suggests its impact is limited only to farms and to the rural areas to which they are so closely tied. It’s really a jobs bill. A food bill. A conservation bill. A research bill. An energy bill. A trade bill. In other words, it’s a bill that affects every American.”
Drought map from the USDA. As of last week, almost 2/3 of the US now under moderate to severe drought. Brian Lehrer talks with NPR agriculture correspondent Dan Charles about the drought, food prices, and more.
-Jody, BL Show-
Why God Failed to Earn Tenure
With graduations (and faculty promotion and tenure season) just past, an oldie but a goodie: why God can’t earn tenure:
“The biggest troublemaker you’ll ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every morning.”— Farmer Wisdom
Can political scientists measure "quality" of democracy?
Based on the recent article I co-authored with my friend, Mihaiela Ristei Gugiu, the short...
Word of first fire in Montana.
Just northeast of Livingston, MT- it started about 10pm on Friday. It has taken about 300 miles, but is thought to be...