Decades of family farming just ahead

Peasants voice their hopes and concerns about the UN's Decade of Family Farming

The Decade was officially launched at FAO headquarters in Rome on 29th May 2019 and was preceded by sessions to exchange and discuss the priorities to implement the global action plan

In December 2017, the UN General Assembly declared 2019-2028 as the “United Nations Decade of Family Farming” and mandated the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to implement the Decade. The resolution of the General Assembly also called on governments, international organizations and civil society organizations to contribute to the implementation of the decade.

The goals announced for the Decade are based on a global action plan with 7 pillars:

  • Pillar 1. Develop an enabling policy environment to strengthen family farming.
  • Pillar 2 – Transversal. Support youth and ensure the generational sustainability of family farming.
  • Pillar 3, – Transversal. Promote gender equity in family farming and the leadership role of rural women.
  • Pillar 4 – Strengthen family farmers’ organizations and capacities to generate knowledge, represent farmers and provide inclusive services in the urban-rural continuum.
  • Pillar 5 – Improve socio-economic inclusion resilience and well-being of family farmers, rural households and communities.
  • Pillar 6. Promote sustainability of family farming for climate-resilient food systems.
  • Pillar 7. Strengthen the multidimensionality of family farming to promote social innovations contributing to territorial sustainability and food systems that safeguard biodiversity, the environment and culture.

Agriculture means much more than just a daily activity. It carries values, a culture, feeling love for our earth and life and, more importantly, taking pride in what we do. Today, we are threatened by transnational corporations that have found the means to act on our food system. We have taken action, and that is why we proclaim food sovereignty as a right of the peoples. We have also made very strong, clear and precise proposals so that people understand that, today, not only peasants are at risk of disappearing, but that peoples are at risk of becoming subordinate and living in slavery by being forced into a large market of cheap labour. We refer to peasants’ rights to ensure healthy diets, to keep our land alive and with diversity, to conserve our earth, the source of wealth. Above all, we want to protect life. And food is life, as long as it is produced using the forms of traditional agriculture that have been practised for millennia by indigenous peoples. This is why, for us, family farming is peasant and indigenous agriculture; it is practised by families, true, but in connection to the community, with workers united to build the future.

Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, gave the following address before the government representatives at the launch of the Decade:

“Right now, while we are sitting here, climate change and agribusiness are threatening us; hunger is increasing around the world and peasants commit suicide every day. We must move into action. It is time to implement solutions. We, the peasants, have these solutions and we have been explaining them for many centuries. The solution is to promote peasant family farming based on agroecology and food sovereignty, including small-scale food producers.”

Why Did Bayer Buy Monsanto?

Fully aware of the accusations building up against Monsanto, Bayer, already the biggest pesticide company in the world, upped its bid three times ($US6B) to acquired this the 'most hated company in the world'.

Monsanto was already on the verge of being found guilty of negligence and liable for the cancer linked to its flagship product, the Roundup herbicide. Why buy all that trouble - it seemingly doesn't make sense ...

Since then Bayer has lost a $2 billion lawsuit over claims against the weedkiller Roundup. Its stock has been in a free-fall all year, as more bad news about Roundup reaches the public. The company’s stock has dropped more than 44% since the acquisition of Monsanto.
It now faces a shareholder revolt and over 30,000 more lawsuits on similar charges. Just from the marketing perspective RoundUp had already reached saturation in the USofA, and in the EU was facing huge consumer concerns about health and environmental harm. All this was so obviously inevitable that it makes you wonder - What on Earth were they thinking? Their CEO thinks they are onto a winner, but they're not telling anyone why.

Hello Brazil...

Long famous for its Carnaval, coffee and rain-forest destruction, Brazil is also the world's second largest soybean producer, (after USoA). With 98% of the world's soybeans used for livestock feed we're talking serious factory-farmed beef; in China and USoA.

Bayer's interest in acquiring Monsanto was in genetically modified seed sector and in the growth of that sector: If these three variables – genetically-modified seeds, agricultural poisons and growth – are put together, only one common denominator can be found worldwide: Brazil.

Currently, Bayer sell 12 pesticide-active ingredients in Brazil that are not authorised at EU level. These are: carbendazim; cyclanilide; ethiprole; ethoxysulfuron; fenamidone; Indaziflam; ioxynil; oxadiazon; propineb; thidiazuron; thiodicarb; .thiram.

Brazil is the world leader in the use of agricultural poisons – and the GM soy-growing province of Mato Grosso holds the world record: If the total amount of agricultural poisons released in Brazil per year is measured in terms of per head of population, then one arrives at the terrifying amount of 7.3 litres per Brazilian citizen. But this is "only" the national average. Brazil's leader in spraying agricultural poisons is the Central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, where 13.3% (140 million litres) of all the pesticides used in Brazil were sprayed each year from 2005 to 2012, according to the latest calculations by the State Institute for Agricultural Safety of Mato Grosso.

A study by the Federal University of Mato Grosso found in one study that there were 1,442 cases of gastric, oesophageal and pancreatic cancer in 13 municipalities (644,746 inhabitants according to last 2015 census), in which soy, corn and cotton were grown between 1992 and 2014.
By comparison, in the 13 comparable municipalities (219,801 inhabitants according to last census 2015), where tourism predominated instead of agriculture, the number of cancer cases was just 53. This results in a cancer rate of 223.65 per 100,000 inhabitants in predominantly agricultural municipalities, whereas in predominantly tourism municipalities, there is a cancer rate of 24.11 per 100,000 inhabitants -- a factor of 8 times!

Source: https://gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/18914

Food Waste Reduction

Better Post-harvest Processing

a solution to global hunger?

Though hunger rarely makes the headlines anymore, it is still a burning issue in many countries, with an estimated 821 million undernourished people in the world. For decades, governments and donors have been increasing investment into food production to alleviate the problem. But what if the solution lies elsewhere?

Seven years have passed since FAO estimated that about one third of the food produced worldwide is either lost or wasted. Surprisingly huge amounts of food are lost even in the poorest countries, the very same which have the highest numbers of hungry or malnourished people. Most of these countries are affected by high levels of post-harvest losses caused by inappropriate handling of the produce after harvest.
For example Rwanda: like many other sub-Saharan African countries, agriculture is the leading economic activity in this densely populated nation, with more than 70 per cent of the workforce employed in the agricultural sector. Most of the produce is handled by smallholder farmers in their own homes through rudimentary post-harvest practices, often leading to low quality produce and high post-harvest losses.

Climate change is a big part of the problem. Due to shifting climatic patterns, maize harvesting currently happens during the peak of the rainy season. Most farmers do not have access to adequate drying facilities and cannot dry their produce to acceptable moisture levels before storing it, leading to pest infestation, mold and contamination. The result: large quantities of their maize is either inedible or unsalable.

The problem is a real one and there is data to prove it. According to the Africa Post-Harvest Loss Information System (APHLIS), the leading source on post-harvest wastage in Africa, losses in the Rwanda maize supply chain could be as high as 22 per cent. The figure is also alarmingly high for other crops in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with an average grain loss estimated at 13.5 per cent continent-wide.

Reducing such losses could constitute a more cost-effective answer to hunger than increasing productivity. If the figures published in a 2011 World Bank report paint an accurate portrait, eliminating grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa alone could provide the annual calorie requirement for around 48 million people. And this increase would not be detrimental to the environment, as it would require no extra resources (water, land and energy) to grow the food that would otherwise go wasted.

The problem is that it is difficult to isolate post-harvest losses from the issue of rural underdevelopment in general. That is because they are largely due to the lack of infrastructure and appropriate equipment that affects many developing economies. What is really needed is a complete overhaul of the rural sector and its value chains, and one that leaves no loss behind.

A growing number of projects supported by IFAD follow a holistic approach that aims to improve the overall efficiency of the value chain by upgrading the capacities of all actors involved. An internal desk review found that between 2013 and 2016 IFAD earmarked about US$433 million to post-harvest operations through such projects. The infrastructure, equipment and capacity developed thanks to this investment is essential to enable producers to reduce their losses.

More focused interventions may still be needed to reduce losses at critical loss points, as we've done for example in East Timor by subsidizing 42,000 improved storage drums for household storage. Yet the comprehensive and durable development many of our projects have brought to rural communities is arguably more effective than piecemeal interventions, which may have a more immediate and measurable impact, but a more uncertain future.
Source: https://www.ifad.org/web/latest/blog/asset/40810706

Reducing food losses is just as important as improving yields, especially in the context of shifting climatic conditions. But the most effective way to stop the loss is to take a holistic approach that carefully integrates post-harvest loss reduction into every step of the targeted supply chains, from production to retail. If adequately funded and implemented, this approach could be the key to building more sustainable food systems, ensuring that everyone is adequately fed while our environment is protected.

16th October, 2018

International Day of Action for the Food Sovereignty of Peoples and Against Multinationals

Peasants' seeds are a heritage of peoples in the service of humanity. They are the basis of global food production and they enable peasants to produce and a healthy and diversified food supply.

The world's seeds are threatened by the seed policies of rich countries, free trade agreements and agribusiness. Under the pretext of "improving" seed productivity, agribusiness has created a neo-liberal seed system that has homogenised, impoverished and monopolised seeds, causing the loss of three-quarters of seed diversity and annihilating a diversity that it took people – thanks to the work of peasants – 10000 years to generate.
Three companies, Monsanto-Bayer, Syngenta-ChemChina and Dupont-Dow, control more than 50% of the world's commercial seeds – usually GM seeds claimed to resist herbicides and deter insects. Under the impetus of the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, and through free trade agreements and laws protecting seed and breeders' rights, such as UPOV standards, this seed system only allows the circulation of its own seeds, criminalising the saving, exchange, donation and sale of local farmer seeds.

The situation is such that farmers have lost a lot of their heritage seeds, are put in prison for the defense and exchange of their seed heritage, and risk raids and seizure of their seeds. Biodiversity is destroyed by the use of chemical fertilisers, hybrid seeds and genetically modified organisms developed by multinational companies. \Everywhere citizens have difficulty accessing healthy, diversified and healthy food.

All over the world, La Via Campesina and its member organisations are stepping up their efforts in training, education, mutual support and seed exchange. We fight for national laws and international treaties to guarantee the rights of farmers to save, use, exchange, sell and protect their seeds against biopiracy and genetic contamination, we write books on the history of seeds, carry out studies and mapping. We also found agro-ecology schools and organize peasant' seed exchange fairs. We exercise our right of self-determination to select the seed varieties we want to plant and reject economically, ecologically and culturally dangerous varieties. These are rights affirmed by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and by the United Nations Declaration on Peasants' Rights which has just been adopted by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It is also the only way to ensure healthy food for citizens, the preservation of biodiversity and the achievement of food sovereignty.

No government measure can limit the collective rights of farmers to use, exchange and sell their OWN seeds.
Free seed exchange between farmers should NOT be subject to restriction.

“Adopt a Seed”

We call on every peasant, peasant family or community to engage in the adoption of a variety of plant or animal seeds, to become the guardian of this seed, ensuring its propagation, reproduction and distribution and to engage in the collective defense of their rights to use, exchange, sell and protect them. In this way, we will create a large network of peasant seeds to save those that have become rare and extend production towards the food sovereignty of peoples.
By adopting a seed, peasant families preserve their identity and territory and affirm their peasant way of life. They claim the historical memory and ancestral culture of seed management, promoting an urban and rural ecological agriculture that reproduces the miracle of more seeds and food of better quality, taste and nutritional value.

Global Food Movement Rejects 'Gene drive' Technology

World Food Day (Oct/18) ...

Over 200 global food movement leaders and organisations representing hundreds of millions of farmers and food workers set out their clear opposition to “gene drives” – a controversial new genetic forcing technology.

Their call for a stop to this technology accompanies a new report, Forcing the Farm: How Gene Drive Organisms Could Entrench Industrial Agriculture and Threaten Food Sovereignty, that lifts the lid on how gene drives may harm food and farming systems.

Unlike previous genetically modified organisms (GMOs) these gene drive organisms (GDOs) are deliberately designed to spread genetic pollution as an agricultural strategy – for example, spreading "auto-extinction" genes to wipe out agricultural pests. Agri-research bodies now developing these extinction-organisms include the California Cherry Board, the US Citrus Research Board and the private California company Agragene Inc. Next month, the United Nations Biodiversity Convention will meet to discuss measures to control this technology, including a possible moratorium.

Those launching the call for a moratorium on gene drives in food and agriculture include all past and present UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food; the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements; IUF (the International Union representing Food and Farmworkers); La Via Campesina, the largest network of peasant movements representing 200 million peasants in 81 countries; and GMWatch. Signatories also include well-known commentators on food matters including seed activist Vandana Shiva, World Food Prize winner Dr Hans Herren, International President of Friends of the Earth International Karin Nansen, activist and food entrepreneur Nell Newman, and environmentalist and geneticist David Suzuki.

Applying gene drives to food systems threatens to harm farmers’ rights and the rights of peasants as enshrined in international treaties,” said Dr Olivier De Schutter, who served as the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food from 2008-2014. “Gene drives would undermine the realisation of human rights including the right to healthy, ecologically-produced and culturally appropriate food and nutrition

Africa grabbing | Economic colonialism

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, is a G7/G8-led scheme, masquerading as an aid programme is serving up African nations on a silver platter—to Big-Seed/Big-Ag corporations. The deal threatens to rob and imprison farmers needing aid, while growing profits for various Ag-based giants.

A list of the organisations involved includes the names of the usual Big-Ag/Food/Bank corporations lurking behind such schemes: Monsanto; Syngenta; Caygill; Nestle; Swiss Re … it’s a war against tradition: self-reliant peasant agriculture.

The GuardianEuropean parliament slams G7 food project in Africa

Tanzania recently enacted a law that criminalised seed sharing, an ancient agricultural practice that is widespread in many parts of the world and critical to local farming. Under the new legislation, if a farmer buys seeds from Monsanto or Syngenta, those companies retain the intellectual property rights. For instance, if a farmer saves some seeds from the first harvest, those seeds can only be used on that farmer’s land for non-commercial purposes. This new law threatens an essential practice for many of these farmers.

The penalty for sharing seeds is twelve years in prison or a fine of over 200,000 euros. The average wage of a farmer in Tanzania is two dollars a day.

According to news reports, about 90% of African farmers depend on their seeds for survival. The informal sale or exchange of seeds allows farmers to be independent from the commercial seed business, while allowing poor farmers to have resilient crops at affordable prices. Eliminating seed-sharing closes off a fundamental source of revenue for poor farmers.

Tanzania did not enact this law out of thin air. An aid programme launched by the G8 (the US, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, the European Union, and Russia) in 2012, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN), promises aid in the form of agricultural investment to the ten African member countries, but only on the condition that countries receiving aid enact political reforms that help Big-Ag at the expense of small farmers who produce 70% of the world’s food.

Launched in 2012, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition provides aid money from rich countries like the US and the UK, and helps big business invest in the African agricultural sector. But in return, African countries are required to change their land, seed and trade rules in favour of big business.

By 2013 ten African countries had signed up: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Benin, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal. Around 50 multinational companies including Monsanto, Cargill and Unilever, and around 100 African companies, are also involved.

A few years on and evidence is mounting against the New Alliance.

A recent report from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact condemned the New Alliance as “little more than a means of promotion for the companies involved and a chance to increase their influence in policy debates”.

This excerpt from The Guardian says it all:

[NAFSN] will lock poor farmers into buying increasingly expensive seeds – including genetically modified seeds – allow corporate monopolies in seed selling, and escalate the loss of precious genetic diversity in seeds – absolutely key in the fight against hunger. It will also open the door to genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa by stopping farmers’ access to traditional local varieties and forcing them to buy private seeds.

NAFSN also calls for countries to help foreign investors take over agricultural lands. This “aid,” in short, is the wedge that Big-Ag and biotech companies are using to get a stronger foothold in Africa, leading many critics to call the schemes a “new wave of colonialism.” We tend to agree. Depriving farmers of their livelihood is hardly a way to battle poverty and hunger.

The New Alliance will:

  • Make it easier for big corporations to grab land in Africa.
  • Prevent farmers from breeding, saving and exchanging seeds.
  • Heavily promote chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which increase farmers’ risk of debt as well as damaging the environment and farmers’ health.
  • Replace family farms with low paid, insecure jobs.
  • Prevent countries from restricting crop exports, even at times of domestic shortage

Much of the aid money and investment promised as part of the New Alliance prioritises crops for export, including tobacco, palm oil and biofuel crops, rather than supporting small farmers to grow crops sustainably for local consumption.

Forfeit local sovereignty

70% of Africa’s food is produced by small-scale farmers who grow nutritious food without harming their health or the environment. And they can keep control over their land, seed and soil in line with the principles of food sovereignty.

Unsurprisingly, there are already reports that NAFSN is failing. Canadian authorities conducted a review of NAFSN’s progress in Senegal. The Canadian government concluded that there was no evidence that NAFSN “was effective in reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition, or addressing the challenges faced by women in the Senegalese context.”

This story underscores the depths to which biotech companies like Monsanto and Syngenta will sink to, and why they must be vigorously opposed at every opportunity. Not only have they proven to be reckless with our health, they are intentional about attacking the livelihoods of some of our planet’s neediest.

Licensing Seeds as Commons

You’ve heard about open-source software and hardware, but can the concept be expanded to address other copyright challenges … like seeds and biopiracy?

Today, in this era of privatisation, just a handful of companies account for most of the world’s commercial breeding and seed sales. Increasingly, patents and contractual restrictions are used to enhance the power and control of these companies over the seeds and the farmers that feed the world.

Patented and protected seeds cannot be saved, replanted, or shared by farmers and gardeners. And because there is no research exemption for patented material, plant breeders at universities and small seed companies cannot use patented seed to create the new crop varieties that should be the foundation of a just and sustainable agriculture.

German Nonprofit has Seeds Open-Sourced


OpenSourceSeeds (OSS) recently launched a licensing process for open-source seeds, to create a new repository of genetic material that can be accessed by farmers around the world, in perpetuity. Their strategy is aimed to protect this valuable resource from the takeover of seed rights by corporate interests.

OSS are an offspring of the Association for AgriCulture and Ecology (AGRECOL), which focuses on sustainable and organic agriculture mainly in the developing world,  which has worked on open-source seeds for about five years ago.

There is a similar initiative in the United States – the Open Source Seeds Initiative, (OSSI). Rather than licensing, they add a pledge to seed varieties – an ethical approach …

The OSSI Pledge: “You have the freedom to use these OSSI- Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this Pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.

Working together We are the Commons

Debate about the preservation of common goods – or simply commons – was instigated by Elinor Ostrom. Together with her
working group she studied countless commons and has confirmed: commons do not come into existence by themselves, they are made. Commons are the result of complex interactions of resources, communities and care taking; that is, of commoning.

In her lifework Ostrom defined universal rules – which she calls “design principles” – and demonstrated that compliance with these rules guarantees the sustainable use of common goods. In 2009 she was the first woman awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Right for Peasants

Join the movement for Peasants’ Rights and ask the EU and its Member States to actively participate in good faith in the elaboration of a “UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas“.

Background:

“Peasants and others working in rural areas  represent the largest group of people in the world  suffering from hunger and malnutrition. These  people have faced political and economic  discriminations for decades. In light of this situation,  the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)  undertook several studies that ultimately asserted  the need for an international protection instrument.  Consequently, a working group was created to draft  a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other  People Working in Rural Areas. The first draft of the  declaration was completed in early 2015, following  two rounds of negotiation. The current challenge is  to pressure States to actively engage in the process  so that an ambitious declaration can be adopted.” ~ Factsheet: Hands on the Land (2015)

Join the movement and ask for the adoption of
the UN Declaration on Peasants’ Rights!

Sign the petition here …
No peasants, no food. Let’s grow their rights!


Resources:

FACTSHEET Declaration of the Rights of Peasants: Special Protection is Needed”


Videos:

“Towards a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants”

References:

International focus:
International Congress on Global Peasants’ Rights (7-10 March 2017, Schwäbisch Hall, Germany)

European focus:


Sign the petition here …
No peasants, no food. Let’s grow their rights!

The Coming Cashless Control Grid

A bundle of related issues from the alternative media lately …

1. The EU is Pushing “Restrictions On Payments In Cash”

In the most far-reaching move toward a cashless society to date, the European Commission proposed enforcing “restrictions on payments in cash” under an all-too-familiar premise — terrorism.

Perhaps the most astonishing and erroneous assumption in the plan is that terrorists and criminals will suddenly abide by the law — as if malicious groups would surmise, ‘Well, damn, large cash transactions aren’t possible, so I guess we’ll have to find another line of work.’

As pointed out by Sovereign Man’s, Simon Black, restricting large-sum cash dealings might have the opposite effect on crime:

If you examine countries with very low denominations of cash, the opposite holds true: crime rates, and in particular organised crime rates, are extremely high.

Consider Venezuela, Nigeria, Brazil, South Africa, etc. Organized crime is prevalent. Yet each of these has a currency whose maximum denomination is less than $30.

Black also presents several examples of countries who have taken the leap away from paper currency only to be hit with soaring crime rates.

In short, banning or severely limiting paper currency is ineffective at what governments claim such programmes are intended to do, as Black continues,

“Bottom line, the political and financial establishments want you to willingly get on board with the idea of abolishing, or at least reducing, cash […]

“Simply put, the data doesn’t support their assertion. It’s just another hoax that will give them more power at the expense of your privacy and freedom.

The freedom to spend, as one desires, on what one chooses comprises such a basic right, governments have had to propagate a massive campaign to conflate physical money with the criminal element.

Reference: Sovereign Man


2. India’s so-called “war on black money”

The same lie is being used to forcibly integrate the rural masses into biometric techno-financial regimes. But it has created tremendous hardships on for ordinary rural people, for whom access to such systems is limited and for whom such systems serve little purpose.

The rise of farmer suicides, the vast majority being related to indebtedness/bankruptcy, highlights the deep distress experienced across India’s agricultural society. It reflects a lack of intimate knowledge about rural economies, and smacks of a financialist agenda.

Demonetisation: whose agenda is it really?

Follow James Corbett down the path to India’s recent demonetisation and as he looks ahead to the coming cashless biometric control grid. (43min.)

Reference: The Norbert Haring article (01.17): A Well-kept Open Secret


3. Australia Biometric Scanning at Airports

As The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has sought technology that would abolish incoming passenger cards, remove the need for most passengers to show their passports and replace manned desks with electronic stations and automatic triage.

Officials are looking to use existing databases coupled with iris scans, facial recognition and fingerprint scans as the final phase of a five-year project called “Seamless Traveller” that is slated for completion by 2020. It’s all a part of the move toward a full-fledged Smart World where YOU become a digitally scanned device in a matrix of online and real-world activity.

Reference: Technocracy News


4. China’s “Sesame Credit” A Blueprint For The West

This online ‘game’ rates Chinese citizens on how closely they adhere to the party line. It pulls data from the internet: social media, online purchases and search histories.
At present it is voluntary but rumours are the government plans to make it compulsory by 2020 …

Seems there are different interpretations of this story but it is something to be aware of in the wider context.
Reference: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186


To the smuggies who excuse themselves with …”Well I’ve done nothing wrong, so I’ve got nothing to hide.” … we say … ‘Shame on you for helping to let this come about!


ENDS

Organic farming covers 4.1 million acres

A new report has found that U.S. land allocated to organic farming has reached 4.1 million acres in 2016, a new record – an 11% increase compared to 2014. Organic farming is now big business. As of June 2016, the number of certified organic farms in the U.S. reached 14,979, a 6.2 percent increase of 1,000 farms compared to 2014 survey data.

While in 2015 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported a more than 5% from 2014 and 250% from 2002, when officials began tracking certified organic producers. Worldwide, they noted more than 27,800 organic producers.

Organic alfalfa/hay was the leading organic crop grown with more than 800,000 acres in 2016. This was followed by organic wheat, corn, and soybeans. Organic oats reached a record level of 109,000 acres in 2016. Organic wheat showed the greatest increase with nearly 150,000 more acres since 2014 and a 44 percent increase since 2011. Plantings of organic corn have increased by 58,000 acres since 2014.

In their recent report Scott Shander, an economist at Mercaris, attributes the increase in organic acres to farm economics and consumer demand for organic foods.

“… production in the U.S. is not growing as fast so more of the production will be international.” he says.

New Zealand farmers would do well to take note of the increase in organic acres overseas, which has been attributed to farm economics and consumer demand for organic foods.

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