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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Report: Driven by Growth in Local Food Markets, Food Hubs Thrive

June 27, 2016 |
Food hubs are hubbubs of activity, with containers of produce arriving and departing constantly. Photo courtesy of Rich Pirog/MSU Center for Regional Food Systems)

Food hubs are hubbubs of activity, with containers of produce arriving and departing constantly.
Photo courtesy of Rich Pirog/MSU Center for Regional Food Systems)

Food hubs are financially viable forces for good in their communities providing locally grown to institutions, wholesale buyers, grocery stores, restaurants and other retail outlets. They also offer much needed infrastructure, aggregation, and marketing to enable small and mid-sized farms to achieve and maintain economic sustainability.

These conclusions were among the results of the 2015 National Food Hub Survey of more than 150 food hubs across the U.S. The report was released on May 12 by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. Seedstock recently spoke with the center’s director, Rich Pirog, to learn more about the report’s findings and the future of food hubs. Read More

Mapping Study Pins Wild Bee Decline on Intensive Farming Practices

January 27, 2016 |
Map of counties facing an imbalance between wild bee abundance and pollinator-dependent crops. Courtesy: University of Vermont.

Map of counties facing an imbalance between wild bee abundance and pollinator-dependent crops. Courtesy: University of Vermont.

A national study suggests that intensive farming is perhaps the greatest danger to wild bee survival.

Led by University of Vermont scientist Dr. Insu Koh, the research team is the first to compare the species’ population over time with the location of pollinator-dependent crops. The researchers found that between 2008 and 2013, the abundance of wild bees dropped in almost a quarter of the contiguous United States.

The study suggests that conversion of grassland and pasture to row crops is the driving force behind the disappearance of bees–not pesticides, climate change, or disease. Read More

Stanford’s FEED Collaborative: Academics and the Food System Collide

May 23, 2013 |
Matt Rother, co-founder of FEED Collaborative. Photo Credit: Feed Collaborative.

Matt Rother, co-founder of FEED Collaborative. Photo Credit: Feed Collaborative.

Currently, the world’s food system is in a state of flux. Small growers across the globe attempt to impact their local communities by producing organic food that challenges traditional food production. The students of Stanford University’s FEED (Food Education Entrepreneurship Design) Collaborative intend to impact the food system in another way: human centered design.

Matthew Rothe of Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design explains the FEED Collaborative’s approach to fixing the global food system. “We believe that human centered design is a powerful process for uncovering the unmet needs of people and for unlocking the creative problem solving potential of its practitioners. Coupled with the domain knowledge of our collaborators and opportunities for social entrepreneurship, we believe human centered design is the most compelling opportunity we have for driving the level of innovation needed to transform our food system.” Read More

Food Think Tank Takes On Task of Fixing Global Food System

May 2, 2013 |

Nearly 1 billion people around the world are hungry. Another billion people are obese. At the same time, one third of the food produced for human consumption spoils or goes to waste. These problems have become pervasive throughout the globe. They affect industrialized and developing nations alike. Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson of Chicago, Illinois saw these statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as symptoms of a failed global food system. In response, they launched Food Tank: The Food Think Tank as a platform for anyone with a stake in the global food system to contribute to a solution. According to the non-profit’s website, “Food Tank: The Food Think Tank is for the 7 billion people who have to eat every day.” Read More

USDA Reports Synthesize Literature on Climate Change Effects and Adaptation Strategies for U.S. Agriculture and Forests

February 11, 2013 |

USDA National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef CattleNews Release – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released two comprehensive reports today that synthesize the scientific literature on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for U.S. agriculture and forests. The reports, entitled Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation and the Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector, were created as inputs to the National Climate Assessment. Scientists from the federal service, universities, non-governmental organizations, industry, tribal lands and the private sector contributed to the peer-reviewed studies. Read More

California Strawberry Commission Report Highlights Farmers’ Global Leadership in Sustainable Agriculture

January 17, 2013 |

News Release – WATSONVILLE, CA, January 16, 2013 – Since first pioneering drip irrigation in the 1970s, California’s strawberry farmers continue to serve as global leaders in developing sustainable strawberry farming practices to reduce negative impacts to air, water and land, according to a report issued today by the California Strawberry Commission.

“Investing in a Sustainable Future” chronicles the contributions of the state’s family farmers to protecting the environment along California’s Central Coast. It captures more than forty years of sustainable practices – from water conservation and ozone protection to pesticide reduction and the broad-based incorporation of organic farming methods among California’s strawberry farmers, said commission officials. Read More

Presidential Report Calls for New “Innovation Ecosystem” for Agricultural Research

December 18, 2012 |

News Release – The Federal Government should launch a coordinated effort to boost American agricultural science by increasing public investments in that economically important domain and rebalancing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research portfolio, according to a new report by an independent, presidentially appointed advisory group. The report also calls for the creation of a network of public-private agricultural “innovation institutes,” to leverage the strengths of government scientists and commercial interests. Read More

N.C. State CEFS Report Lays Out Strategies to Reduce Environmental Impact of Outdoor Hog Production

December 4, 2012 |

Photo Credit: West Wind Farms

News Release – The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) has released a new report entitled Conservation Practices in Outdoor Hog Production Systems: Findings and Recommendations from the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.

The report, written by N.C. State University animal science Research Associate Silvana Pietrosemoli, explains strategies for reducing the environmental impacts of outdoor hog production systems, which can pose environmental risks if not properly managed. Read More