The story goes into some detail about how a few big corporate farmland owners
crowd out small farmers.
She didn’t go for my comparison to Wal-Mart,
and I suppose my comparison to the Highland Clearances was a bit too obscure,
but she got the point and backed it up with documentation.
Then there’s this part:
“Shell of a shell of a shell”
Public records suggest Cascade Investments has bought its farmland
through a web of at least 22 limited liability shell companies
across the country. These shell companies have made it difficult to
find out where and how much farmland the Gateses own even for local
farmers, like John S. Quarterman, a farmer and landowner who grows
okra, corn, squash and other vegetables in Lowndes County on the
southern edge of Georgia.
That’s where the Gateses began buying land in 2013 through two
limited liability corporations registered to an address in Kirkland
by Derek Yurosek, then head of agriculture operations for Cascade.
When Quarterman first heard about Gates’ firm buying land in the
area, he began digging through local property records, linking
addresses and business records from registered owners to
Kirkland-based companies, until he was able to piece together that
the companies buying multiple tracts of land in the Suwannee River
Basin were all a “shell of a shell of a shell company
investing for Bill Gates.” NBC News’ independently confirmed
that there were, in fact, shell companies tracing back to Gates’
firm that purchased 6,021 acres across four counties in Georgia.
Diane Howard will moderate a farmer panel,
Growers Tell All: A Conversation with Experienced South Georgia Growers about God-Given Talents and 150+ Years of Growing,
South Georgia Growing Local 2014:
Innis Davis and three of the children in his family who help with his
very large backyard garden on Cherry Street, Valdosta.
With a combined 150+ years of experience as growers, these veggie
veterans will interact with members of the audience sharing their
stories which include the following: planting, harvesting, and
preserving by the moon; rotating crop sites; fertilizing;
controlling weeds and insects; saving seed for 50+ years; growing in
containers; and using their talents and techniques of growing to
help friends and 3 generations of family. Serving as a moderator for
this discussion will be Diane Howard who works closely with
individuals in South Georgia to promote growing their own food and
oversees a large garden on her 5th generation family farm in Grady
India’s struggling farmers are starting to profit from a budding interest
in organic living. Not only are the incomes of organic farmers soaring
– by 30% to 200%, according to organic experts – but their yields
are rising as the pesticide-poisoned land is repaired through natural
How did this happen?
Organic farming only took off in the country about seven years
ago. Farmers are turning back to traditional farming methods for a number
By the late ’80s, the chemicals had started taking a toll. Mr. Govindan’s land dried up. Yields declined. Mr. Govindan said the quality of his crops did, too. In the old days, he told me, if you cooked too much rice for dinner you could keep it overnight and eat it the next day for breakfast. Now, rice from the fields around Molasur turned rotten overnight.
Other things had changed: labor was more expensive, the price of fertilizers and seeds had increased, and the overall cost of living had outstripped the rise in crop prices.
How bad is it?
The scientist M.S. Swaminathan, often referred to as the father of India’s green revolution, has spoken of a “disaster” in Indian agriculture. The sociologist Dipankar Gupta has written of “hollowed” villages.
According to a recent report in The Hindu newspaper, almost 200,000 farmers committed suicide between 1997 and 2009 — a national tragedy (although it is rarely treated as such) brought on by rising debt and the resulting economic and existential despair.
So is the Indian government being realistic about the problem?
Mr. Govindan wondered about something else, too. Farming had always seemed a special profession to him, with a vital, even noble, role in feeding the nation. He wondered why the country didn’t see it that way anymore. Just the previous night, he had watched Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on television, assuring the nation that it wouldn’t face food shortages. Mr. Govindan felt something didn’t add up. He pointed to the barren fields; he said you couldn’t even grow peanuts on them anymore. “I don’t understand,” he said, “Where is all the food supposed to come from?”
Well, if India follows the U.S. model, the food will come from a tiny number of agrobusinesses that will end up owning most of the land.
The Eprida process simultaneously creates value in three markets
in this order at today’s prices:
Energy: gas-to-liquids diesel, from biomass
Fertilizer: agricultural soil restoration, carbon enriched with nitrogen
Carbon Credits: once an agricultural CDM is completed
Unlike other biomass gasification, the Eprida process can operate at small scale, converting waste biomass into fuel and fertilizer. The diesel produced will ultimately be more valuable than ethanol or methanol, and the Eprida process can convert woody plant materials that cannot be cost effectively fermented. Also, unlike virtually all other approaches for biomass to energy, which deplete soil nutrients, the Eprida process restores and enhances soil mineral, carbon and nitrogen content. As a direct result of this new approach to integrated energy and fertilizer production from biomass, the Eprida process effectively removes net CO2 from the atmosphere, and can do so profitably before the value of any carbon credits are even considered.
I especially like the small scale aspect. Individuals could do this.
(And if, like me, you wondered how to pronounce biochar, the ch is like in charcoal.)
Or municipalities like Valdosta or Lowndes County could do this, instead of the current plans for a conventional biomass power plant that looks like it will release more CO2 per kilowatt than a coal plant. Why not go with a homegrown technology that’s cleaner and may also produce diesel as a side effect?
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain must find ways to grow more food while using less water, energy and fertilizers to help feed a growing world population and offset the effects of climate change on agriculture, the government said on Monday.
OK, that makes sense.
But where’s the radical part?
Farmers will have to adopt new methods to grow bigger crops while being more careful with increasingly valuable commodities such as water and fuel for machinery and fertilizers, Benn said.