Archive for June, 2010

25x’25 Vision within Reach

The bold vision created by a renewable energy advocacy coalition calling for 25x’25 is becoming a reality.  A new report titled, “Meeting the 25x’25 Goal: A Progress Report,” shows that between 2004 and 2009, renewable energy produced in the U.S. increased by 23 percent. In May of 2009, 11.5% of all energy produced in the U.S. came from renewable sources, a record for the clean energy sector. Those numbers and the influence of the vision don’t appear to be shrinking.

The report summarizes the role several energy sources will play in the future including: biofuels, biodiesel, biogas, biopower, wind, solar, geothermal and hydro.The report also comments on the numerous constraints to progress: policy constraints, insufficient infrastructure and variances in biofuels blending are just a few named differences.

“The 25x’25 progress report demonstrates the tremendous progress that has been made by the renewable fuel sector to create a cleaner, more energy independent nation,” Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, told EPM.

Formed in 2004, the 25×25 alliance initially aimed at meeting 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs with renewable energy by 2025.

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USDA to Provide Emergency Assistance to Producers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that disaster assistance will be issued starting today to livestock, honeybee and farm-raised fish producers that suffered losses in 2008 because of disease, adverse weather or other conditions. The aid will come from the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP).

“American farmers, ranchers and producers should have protection from market disruptions and disasters,” Vilsack said. “The assistance announced today will be particularly helpful to beekeepers whose bees suffered from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and will also assist other producers facing economic challenges.”

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Feds Propose Listing Plover as Threatened

A young mountain plover in Bent County, CO. CFB and other ag organizations worked with the FWS in 2005 to determine the health of the continental plover population. As a result of the work CFB was awarded the Department of the Interior's Conservation Service Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Department.

Yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed listing the mountain plover as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Citing agriculture, oil and gas, and other alleged threats, a listing would affect activities in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. Parts of northeastern Utah, Western Kansas, northeastern Arizona and northwestern Texas could also be affected.

The proposed listing is a slap in the face to ongoing conservation efforts and partnerships between  Colorado agriculture and environmental groups and government agencies like the FWS and Department of the Interior. Increased collaboration between the parties has provided a wealth of information about the birds numbers, and has increased protections for the species through voluntary changes in grazing and tilling.

The FWS also intends to throw out proposed regulatory exemptions (in the form of a 4(d) Rule) for farming and ranching activities. Without common sense exemptions, farmers and ranchers across eastern Colorado would be shut down by the listing of the plover under the ESA.

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Wheat Harvest Well Underway

The Colorado winter wheat harvest was approximately 8 percent complete by Monday, June 28, as estimated by USDA.  Home to more than thirteen different wheat varieties, Colorado’s wheat harvest is an excellent example of diversity and progress.

The harvest was 3 percent complete at this time in 2009, and the five-year average for this date is 12 percent complete. The wheat harvest is focused in Baca, Prowers, Kiowa, and Cheyenne counties, with harvest in Cheyenne and Kiowa counties just beginning.

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Vegan Nutritionist Tours Colorado Feedyard

Ryan Andrews, a self-proclaimed “nutrition stud,” vegan, nationally ranked bodybuilder and registered dietitian, recently blogged about visiting a cattle feedlot, Magnum Feedyard in Colorado. Andrews met owner Steve Gabel and was given an exclusive tour of the feedyard. His lengthy blog entry includes extensive descriptions of different types of feed rations in addition to observations from a non-farmers’ perspective on how the cattle are cared for and housed.

Although he blogged that he has no plans to start eating meat again, Andrews also wrote, “If my experience at Magnum is representative of other cattle farms, all those accounts of the dismal, depressing, disastrous cattle conditions seem to be exaggerated.” He wrapped up his narrative about the visit this way: “They’re producing safe and cost-effective meat in, arguably, the most cattle-conscious way (short of opening up those pens and letting them run free). Rock on Magnum.”

(image: ryanandrews)

EBT Machines at Farmers’ Markets Accept SNAP Benefits

A new handbook released by the Agriculture Department provides guidance to managers of farmers’ markets on installing Electronic Benefits Transfer machines and accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. A record number of Americans now receive SNAP benefits. At the same time, the number of farmers’ markets participating in the SNAP program has increased.

USDA anticipates that helping SNAP recipients buy fresh produce from farmers’ markets and farm stands will boost revenue for local producers. The handbook covers nut-and-bolts issues such as installation of EBT machines and tactics to ensure the program is a success for both farmers’ market vendors and customers.

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Sensorship Threatens Agriculture Advocates

What makes a video inappropriate?  It’s like the old quote from a former senator about pornography, “I know it when I see it.”  Apparently that’s what employees at YouTube thought about video of hogs living on Chris Chinn’s Missouri farm, when they flagged the video as inappropriate for anyone under 18 and could only be viewed by adults who are YouTube members.

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