May 16, 2013 As Congress gets to work on the farm bill, two common-sense, bipartisan reform measures seem to have gotten run over somewhere along the way. The first would set minimum standards for housing egg-laying chickens. The second sought to change how the U.S. provides food aid to people in foreign nations.
May 3, 2013 An economist wanted to find out why some farmers in the developing world were abandoning a new way of growing rice that increases yields while reducing the need for seeds and water. He found that even while their rice fields were more productive, their household income didn't go up.
May 1, 2013 Corn and soybean farmers not only survived last year's epic drought — thanks to crop insurance, they made bigger profits than they would have in a normal year, a new analysis finds. And a big chunk of those profits were provided through taxpayer subsidies.
April 26, 2013 Today's commercial coffee production is based on only a tiny slice of the genetic varieties that have grown since prehistoric times. And that's a problem, because it leaves the world's coffee supply vulnerable to shocks like climate change, or the leaf rust currently ravaging Latin American coffee farms.
April 24, 2013 It doesn't take much effort to find bags of coffee with labels that promise social and environmental improvements. But each one of these certification programs promises something different for the farmer and the land — and every promise involves some compromises.
April 22, 2013 Coffee is social stimulant, solitary pleasure, intellectual catalyst. It also connects us to far corners of the globe. From small specialty farms in Guatemala to large, industrial operations in Brazil and unexpected corners of the world, like Vietnam, the world's morning cup of joe makes quite a journey.
April 19, 2013 This week's explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant in Texas reminds us of the "cursed" side of the nitrogen that powers most of agriculture around the world. Through habit or necessity, we've come to depend on it. But there are costs.
April 10, 2013 The change that may matter most for the proposal's chances of success, though, is purely bureaucratic. The White House wants foreign food aid to be funded through the U.S. Agency for International Development instead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
April 4, 2013 Rumors abound of a major shakeup in the works for U.S. food aid programs. The U.S. would give aid groups money to buy food wherever they could get it cheapest and quickest, rather than shipping abroad commodities bought in the U.S. Already, groups that profit from the current system are mounting a fight.
March 25, 2013 Neonicotinoids are pesticides widely used to coat the seeds of agricultural plants, especially corn. But some evidence suggests these chemicals may also be poisoning bees. A tell-tale clue: reports of massive bee die-offs that all took place during corn-planting season.
March 8, 2013 Two giant honey packers have admitted to buying millions of dollars in mislabeled honey from China. Honey industry insiders have long suspected this misuse, but it's the first time any U.S. packer has admitted to it.
March 1, 2013 When it comes to pollinating our favorite crops — from coffee to watermelon — honeybees can't do it alone. Wild bees in the field play a critical role in creating bumper crops, a massive new study reports. But these bees are disappearing, and scientists say the rise of crop monocultures is partly to blame.