EU hits pause on helping farmers fight climate change | EURACTIV.com


The farming sector is often blasted for its contribution to climate change. But it also has unique potential to capture and store carbon, write Imke Lübbeke and Andreas Baumüller.

Some paint farmers as climate villains, digging up the land, herding methane-belching cows and sheep.

Others say farmers are climate victims, on the front line of climate change, which is disrupting weather patterns, crop cycles and harvests.

While agriculture does represent 15% of EU greenhouse gas emissions, and farmers are certainly feeling the impacts of changing weather patterns, what is crucial is how to make farmers climate champions.

Source: EU hits pause on helping farmers fight climate change – EURACTIV.com

Clearcutting Forests Means Less Clean Water | Pacific Standard


Deforestation can reduce communities’ access to clean drinking water, according to a recent study conducted in Malawi.

A lot of prior research on how deforestation impacts water dynamics has shown that clearing away forest leads to surges in water runoff, increasing what scientists call “water yield.” The implication of those studies is often “that deforestation will not have a negative effect on water access to people,” Hisahiro Naito, an economist and associate professor at Japan’s University of Tsukuba, writes in an email. “We have challenged this view.”

Just because more water is available doesn’t mean it’s palatable or safe enough for humans to drink.

Source: Clearcutting Forests Means Less Clean Water – Pacific Standard

USDA Launches New Features on Farmers.gov | Nextgov


The Agriculture Department unveiled new features on farmers.gov today that aim to help customers better manage their farm loans and more easily navigate the application process for H-2A visas, which enable employers to bring in foreign workers for seasonal and temporary labor.

“In my travels across the country, I have consistently heard people express a desire for greater use of technology in the way we deliver programs at USDA,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “As we adopt new technology, we are introducing simple yet innovative approaches to support our farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters as they support the nation every day.”

The interactive one-stop site for America’s agriculture producers launched in February last year as one of the original public-facing products created by the government’s IT modernization Centers of Excellence program.

In June 2018, the Technology Modernization Fund Board awarded USDA $10 million to build a customer experience portal on the site.

Source: USDA Launches New Features on Farmers.gov – Nextgov

Digital innovation also creates new risks for farmers | EURACTIV.com


Although the European Commission and machine manufacturers sing the praises of digitalization in agriculture, others point to the risk of creating new dependencies for farmers on multinationals. EURACTIV France reports.

“The Commission is quite right to promote these solutions, but we need to seriously pay attention to the details of these proposals,” said Cyrielle Denharitgh, head of agriculture and nutrition at Climate Action Network France.

“Digitalization is a very large concept in which one can find the bad and the good,” said Denharitgh whose umbrella organization brings together environmental NGOs such as Oxfam and WWF.

Source: Digital innovation also creates new risks for farmers – EURACTIV.com

Groundwater: Nitrate pollution will continue to be an issue across generations | EURACTIV.com


For years, the EU Commission has warned Germany about illegally high levels of nitrate in groundwater. The European Court of Justice even ruled on the issue in June. Now, the German government is working on a new Fertilizer Regulation. However, the groundwater is expected to remain contaminated for many more years. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Clean groundwater is an invaluable commodity, as it covers close to 70% of our drinking water. Germany’s groundwater has been evaluated as being poor for many years because it contains too much nitrate.

The reason for this is that agricultural fertilization is being administered via liquid manure – the nitrate can only be taken off the ground for a limited amount of time, the rest seeps into the groundwater.

Source: Groundwater: Nitrate pollution will continue to be an issue across generations – EURACTIV.com

Sensors, Networks Enable Precision Agriculture | EE Times


There are essentially three platform types involved in precision agriculture: aerial, ground-based mobile, and stationary systems.

The sensors and network technology the platform types tend to utilize do vary, although there is also some overlap. One thing the platforms share, though, is tremendous diversity in feature sets of the many competing products addressing this application space.

Source: Sensors, Networks Enable Precision Agriculture | EE Times

Iran buys Indian sugar for first time in five years to overcome U.S. sanctions | Reuters


Indian traders will export raw sugar to Iran for March and April delivery, five trade sources said, the first Indian sugar sales to Tehran in at least five years as Iran struggles to secure food supplies under sanctions imposed by the United States.

Under the sanctions, Iran is blocked from the global financial system, including using U.S. dollars to transact its oil sales. Iran agreed to sell oil to India in exchange for rupees but it can only use those rupees to buy Indian goods, mainly items it cannot produce enough of domestically.

Source: Exclusive: Iran buys Indian sugar for first time in five years to overcome U.S. sanctions | Reuters

Our Food Is Killing the Planet — But It Doesn’t Have To | EcoWatch


The world needs to change the way it eats, not just as individuals but as a society.

That’s the message from a groundbreaking report issued last month by the EAT-Lancet Commission, which made a series of societal recommendations to help the world’s ever-increasing human population ensure its food security in the face of global warming.

The recommendations are all designed to accommodate a planet that is projected to contain 10 billion people by the year 2050. They include switching to a diet that’s low in meat and sugar but higher in whole grains, fruits and vegetables; cutting food waste; reducing fossil fuel use and emissions; and incentivizing small and medium farming.

Source: Our Food Is Killing the Planet — But It Doesn’t Have To – EcoWatch

The Rise of ‘Zero-Waste’ Grocery Stores | Smithsonian


Packaging waste is a problem worldwide. In the United States, packaging, much of it from food products, makes up nearly a quarter of landfill waste. As we’re increasingly aware, tons of plastic winds up in our oceans each year, choking sea life and creating vast islands of trash in once-pristine places.

Plastic fibers are now even contaminating our tap water.

And it has become much more difficult to recycle packaging since 2018, when China, which once took in about half the world’s recyclable goods, stopped accepting many waste shipments.

That’s why I was so interested to stumble upon a new supermarket in my neighborhood. It’s called Live Zero, and it looks more like a wholesaler than a traditional grocery store.

Source: The Rise of ‘Zero-Waste’ Grocery Stores | Innovation | Smithsonian

Kraft Heinz discloses SEC probe, $15 billion write-down; shares dive 20 percent | Reuters


Shares of Kraft Heinz Co slumped 20 percent late on Thursday after the food company posted a quarterly loss, disclosed an SEC investigation and wrote down the value of its iconic Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands as it highlighted the tough environment for the packaged food industry.

The gloomy results and forecast from the company, which is one of billionaire Warren Buffett’s largest investments, reflect changes in consumer trends away from processed foods to healthier alternatives.

Source: Kraft Heinz discloses SEC probe, $15 billion write-down; shares dive 20 percent | Reuters