January 28, 2009

Links: Food and Ag Edition

1.  Giving a cow a name increases her annual milk yield by almost 500 pints.  This is pretty cool but my guess would be that dairy farmers who call their cows by name and "treat them as family" are the types of farmers who are also taking greater care in other matters more central to an increase in milk production, if those were controlled for I hazard the increase would disappear.  But I like this bit:
Dr Douglas added: "Our data suggests that on the whole UK dairy farmers regard their cows as intelligent beings capable of experiencing a range of emotions."
2.  The Feeding of the Nine Billion.  A summary post by Alex Evans on the release of his excellent year long study report (pdf) of the same name looking at global food prices and scarcity.  Definitely worth a download and read.  I especially like this bit from the executive summary on the need for a 21st-century Green Revolution (emphasis mine):
Invest in a 21st-century Green Revolution. The 20th-century Green Revolution achieved astonishing yield increases. Now, a 21st-century equivalent is needed – one that not only increases yields, but that also moves from an agricultural model that is input-intensive (in water, fertilizer, pesticide and energy) to one that is knowledge-intensive. Genetically modified crops may have a role, but ecologically integrated approaches – such as integrated pest management, minimum tillage, drip irrigation and integrated soil fertility management – often score higher in terms of resilience and equitability, as they put power in the hands of farmers rather than seed companies. Additional funds for public research and development are also vital: the budget of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research has fallen by 50% over the last 15 years, for example.
3.  Getting fat in rural America.  Blog for Rural America points to the release of the Center for Rural Affairs' new report Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity in Rural America (pdf) - also worth a read.

4.  When banks manage the food crisis - from the Food First Institute.

5.  Tom Philpott over at Grist has some thoughts on the Gates Foundation's plans to boost food production in Africa as outlined in their annual letter.

7.  Reason on agricultural subsidies, a topic that rarely comes up outside of Farm Bill discussion.

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