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When we say grassroots, we really mean it

When we say grassroots, we really mean it

By Gene Hall

Fall is my favorite time of the year, even if I have to deal with allergies and even if my favorite football teams struggle a bit.

“Crispness in the air” greets me in the morning. The robe feels good for coffee on the back porch. Then there are the county Farm Bureau annual meetings.

The good folks in five of these county organizations made me part of their conventions this year. That’s about average for me. I get to go and eat good barbecue, sometimes catfish or other fare. I speak on issues and hopefully humorous stories. There was a dessert contest in one county. I ate too much. There are door prizes. There are discussions about how to use Texas Farm Bureau, “The Voice of Texas Agriculture.”

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Federal judge in Hawaii bars county from excessive regulation

Federal judge in Hawaii bars county from excessive regulation

By Gene Hall

It’s always refreshing to see a legal matter settled on the basis of law and fact rather than emotion, overheated rhetoric and political theory. This was the case in Hawaii a few days ago when a federal judge ruled against Kauai County’s aggressive and anti-farmer Ordinance 960.

It’s not that silly laws never win in court, but this one, sillier than most, was turned back, though on more narrow grounds than I believe were justified.  Kauai County Ordinance 960 was passed some months ago with very strict curbs on many agricultural practices and the agribusiness firms that operate there. Included were restrictions on pesticide use and biotechnology, or GMOs if you will. The trouble is, that’s the state’s job—one that Hawaii performs aggressively.

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‘Mega-farming’ contaminates Toledo water supply: not exactly

‘Mega-farming’ contaminates Toledo water supply: not exactly

By Jay Bragg

Recently, 500,000 residents of Toledo, Ohio were without drinking water due to dangerously high levels of cyanotoxin in Lake Erie, produced by excessive amounts of blue-green algae.  National news outlets were quick to point their fingers at agriculture, picking up on the talking points of local politicians, activist groups, and pseudo-scientists.

Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins was quoted by the Los Angeles Times: “Once we clear this problem up, that is not going to eliminate the algae problem in the western basin of Lake Erie; that is not going to eliminate the agricultural runoff; that is not going to eliminate mega-farming.”

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GMOs: It’s all in the name

GMOs: It’s all in the name

By Mike Barnett

Genetically modified organisms. GMOs.

I’m not sure who thought up the nomenclature for this biotech wonder, but the acronym GMO probably contributes more to public fear and misunderstanding than anything else.

GMO. It sounds scary. Genetically Modified Organisms. That’s even more frightening. Those are words and phrases activists can hang their hat on, and let me tell you, they’ve done one fine job of hanging hats.

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Hey, EPA, it’s time to ditch the rule!

Hey, EPA, it’s time to ditch the rule!

By Mike Barnett

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to clarify the Clean Water Act (CWA) is muddying the water for farmers and ranchers in Texas and across the U.S.

That’s not much of a surprise knowing EPA’s history, but their new proposed rule could be bad news for your land use decisions and farming practices.

The CWA was established to give EPA and the Corps the authority to regulate navigable waters, such as interstate rivers.  The law calls these “waters of the U.S.” State and local governments have jurisdiction over smaller, more remote waters, such as ponds and isolated wetlands, because state and local governments are more accountable to their citizens.

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Golden Rice–A compelling moral argument for food biotechnology

Golden Rice–A compelling moral argument for food biotechnology

By Gene Hall

Anti-GMO food activists are among the angriest and most mistrustful people in the world. I get the trust issues. It’s that kind of world, but I often wish we could put aside the anger for reasonable discussions.

I do not pretend to be a scientist, but I’ve studied this a lot. This issue comes into very sharp focus on the question of Golden Rice. We have the technology to introduce beta carotene and therefore Vitamin A into rice at the genetic level. Many children in the poorer regions of the world suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. They go blind from it. They are dying from it. We can fix a lot of that. The question is, “Why would we not?”

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