This message is from the Agriculture Update Committee:

A number of Leagues have requested information to help them develop forward momentum with the Agriculture Update. The update is complex and involves understanding issues that impact our food supply: 1) the technologies used in agriculture, 2) the interactions of farmers, suppliers, processors and consumers and 3) the role of government in regulating and financially supporting the food industry, and 4) how natural processes (often related to climate and weather) effect practices and decision-making.  Many of these issues vary from state to state.  It is the committee’s recommendation that Leaguers should develop a general understanding of agriculture within their own state, so they can then view the system as it relates throughout the county and the global market.

Good sources of information include the local/state farm bureaus, state departments of agriculture, university extension services and farm associations. If possible, consider farm visits to different types of farms such as orchards, commodity crop, conventional and organic farms.  Visit the websites of your state’s universities to see what agricultural topics they are researching.

Some questions that you may want to consider include:

      How much of your state’s GDP is agriculture related?

            How much does food processing add to state GDP?

      What crops are grown in your state?

            Is that changing due to climate or other influences?

      How much of your agriculture is irrigated?

            Has that changed over the past 10-15 years? Why?

            Has it placed any additional stresses on your water system? How so?

      How much acreage is involved in farming?

            What is the average farm size?

      What are the local farm issues?

      What are some of your state farming success stories?

            Are these unique? How so?

      What are the federal and state funding sources available to farmers?

            Have changes to funding resources assisted or hindered farmers? How so?

If you cannot visit farms, then take advantage of the many videos about farming and farming issues found on the internet.  Make sure to not limit your viewing to any specific type of farm or to any specific viewpoint on a farm issue.  Because farm practices differ greatly by geographic regions, include some viewing from other parts of the country. Furthermore, over the next week or so the Ag Update Committee will be suggesting a great variety of videos for members to watch.


Norman's Update

Come on, Norman!  We can update state issues anytime.  What I am interested in is national issues--we really need some info.


Agriculture update--antibiotics in livestock

Here in Oregon's Rogue Valley we are researching the use of antibiotics in livestock and their connection with antibiotic resistance and MRSA. We are inviting infectious disease specialists, FDA, vetinarians, and ranchers to a forum.

I welcome any current  peer- reviewed articles which do not recommend curtailing non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock. 

Thank you for the referral of the Scientific American articles on Agriculture.

Kathleen Donham


Agricultural Update

Doing this research would be interesting, but without knowing what would be reflected in consensus questions could not just be useless, but could be very frustrating if work was done that could not be reflected in the consensus.  many of our states are very diverse in their agricultural areas, not just California. We have our own conflicts over water policy.  We are looking for a national consensus, which requires a national focus, set of questions to look at.  If you cannot provide a study kit on time, can you provide consensus questions to direct our focus.  None of these questions are really applicable to California.  Those answers are easy.  What should be the federal policies that affect them?  All agriculture in California is irrigated.  What should be Colorado River policy as that is federal and not just mulit-state but international.  Just go visit a farm--that is what we do with our primary students. We need more direction.

frustration with Ag position update progress

We have been familiarizing our selves with farms here in New England already and they are about as different from CA farms as is possible. (I lived there in the 60's and 70's and have a son there now). The differences are illustrated by the proposed regs being discussed right now which were developed for huge corporate megafarm operations it seems to us and not for the small family farms we have here. So maybe the committee is having problems develping questions and materials that cover such a variety of farming operations in the nation. At any rate-I think doing all the preperation we can should get us ready for the questions when they do come and a delay would be most frustrating of all.  We too have GMO loabeling legislation being discussed in committee and would like to be able to take a position on it as a state League. Sally Davis Co-President LWVNH