Climate Change: Navajo Nation Faces Drought, Fire, Flooding

Gallup, New Mexico — It’s an overcast, windy November day as Zachariah Ben stands tall over the small, folding table at a local flea market.

His tsiiyééł sits low on his neck and it’s clear that his dark brown hair is very long. Before him, on a black-and-white Pendleton blanket, sit two products — Bidii Baby Food and neeshjizzii — that share a common element, naadą́ą́, or corn. He’s already sold out of tádídíín, or corn pollen, this year, which sells fast during the summer and fall.

But tádídíín is not the only thing missing from the table. Over the summer, he offered a variety of melons grown at Ben Farms, owned and operated by his family, at different flea markets in the Four Corners area on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Is A Program To Foster Sustainable Farming Leaving Out Small-Scale Growers Of Color?

Even when there are funds available, the soils program can be difficult for farmers who grow many crops, as well as immigrant farmers who may not speak English fluently, to access or make use of. It’s also hard for lower-income growers who lease their land year to year to successfully complete an application, because the program requires a three-year commitment for all who participate. And HSP takes a largely prescriptive approach—requiring that one practice be applied to the same plot of land for the entire time. But smaller operations tend to grow a diverse range of crops that require intricate rotation and the ability to swap out crops due to weather, water availability and other factors.

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On Contact: Struggle Against Industrial Agriculture

The San Joaquin Valley in California is the most agriculturally productive farmland in the United States, but it is also plagued by high levels of poverty and water pollution, as well as the serious health risks that come with constant exposure to pesticides. These huge corporate farms in California, established over the last century, became the model for modern agrobusiness designed to exploit a transient labor force, bankrupt, and seize small family farms, exhaust the soil, and drain the aquifers and reservoirs. These agrobusinesses use their economic might to buy elected officials, deform the court system to legalize their assault on the land, and silence criticism in academia and the press.

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Why Seed Companies Fear México

Orange, California – Last month México’s Supreme Court provided hope for biodiversity, especially in the Global South, while flaming fear for seed companies. In a historic step, it ruled for corn advocates and against genetically modified (GMO) corn. The decision was a momentous act in country where maíz (corn) carries daily and sacred significance.

This promises a way out of stale GMO debates that plague us. One side argues that genetic changes to seeds increase harvests. Seed companies and industrial agriculture make up this side. Another side says GMOs damage plant DNA.

Small-scale farmers and environmentalists stand on this side. Neither addresses the other. This standstill keeps GMO policies ineffective. The court’s decision offers a path out of this by cutting at seed company positions.

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Indian Government Forced To Withdraw Farm Laws

After fighting for almost a year, farmers in India finally won a victory against the three farms laws enacted by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government last year. Prime minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday, November 19, that the three laws would be repealed and all legal processes related to the matter will be completed during the upcoming session of parliament.

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In The Name Of Saving The Climate, They Will Uberise The Farmlands

Ag Tech and Big Tech firms are championing a kind of uberisation of farmlands in an effort to dominate all aspects of food production. This ensures that it is the powerless smallholders and agricultural workers who take on all the risks. The German pharmaceutical company Bayer’s partnership with the US non-profit Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) intends to use e-extension training to control what and how farmers grow their produce, as agribusinesses reap the benefits without taking on risk. This is another instance of neoliberalism at work, displacing the risk onto workers whose labour produces vast profits for the Ag Tech and Big Tech firms. These big firms are not interested in owning land or other resources; they merely want to control the production process so that they can continue to make fabulous profits.

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Israeli Officials Barring Palestinian Farmers From Their Land

In response to the outbreak of the Second Intifada (the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation), Israel decided to erect a wall separating the Occupied West Bank from the rest of Palestine in 2002.

The government justified the move as a way to block so-called terrorists from crossing the Green Line (1949 armistice line serving as the de facto border between the state of Israel and its occupied territories). However, most of the apartheid wall wasn’t constructed along the Green Line, instead, it was built inside the West Bank — essentially fragmenting the region. The space between the wall and the Green Line is known as the Seam Zone and makes up 9.4% of the West Bank. Israel designated the Seam Zone as a closed military area, meaning Palestinians need special permission to access their land there. This is where Amarneh’s farmland is situated.

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Biden’s Farm Methane Plan Could Worsen Consolidation And Pollution

Reducing methane emissions took center stage at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow ending Friday. More than 100 countries pledged to reduce their methane emissions by 30% over the next decade. Methane is a significantly more potent yet shorter-lived greenhouse gas, making it a target to prevent near-term warming as societies hurtle towards the 1.5 degrees of warming deemed disastrous for life on Earth.

In tandem with this global commitment, the Biden administration released its plan to bring down U.S. methane emissions. While this plan would set new limits on methane emissions coming off oil and gas plants, it does not regulate the single largest source of U.S. methane emissions: animal agriculture.

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Yakama Nation Acquires Inaba Produce Farms

On Monday, November 1, 2021, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (“Yakama Nation”), acting through its agricultural enterprise Yakama Nation Farms, purchased Inaba Produce Farms, Inc. from the Inaba family.

“When the Inaba family began farming here on the Yakama Reservation in the early 1900’s, Yakama tribal members supported their efforts, leasing land to them when the laws of the United States did not permit Japanese immigrants to be landowners. Today, the Inaba family honors our historic relationship by selling Inaba Produce Farms to the Yakama Nation to support our sovereignty and food security,” said Virgil Lewis, Sr., the Yakama Tribal Council Vice Chairman and Yakama Nation Farms Board Chair.

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Farmer Co-Ops Are Giving Latinx Communities Room To Grow

On Sundays, Edith Alas Ortega travels 20 minutes from her home to a farm field in Henderson County, North Carolina, and takes a deep breath. “There’s a mental and physical healing that happens out here,” she said in Spanish. Ortega is one of five members of Tierra Fértil Coop—“fertile ground” in English—an agricultural, worker-owned cooperative for and by Latinx immigrants. The group—three Salvadoran and three Mexican immigrants—meet every week on their one-acre parcel in Hendersonville that provides vegetables for the families involved as well as enough for resale, with a focus on culturally appropriate ingredients for the Latinx market.

Ortega marvels at the first strawberries of the season on a recent morning in June—just 40 for now.

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Race, Poverty, Farming And A Natural Gas Pipeline

Five years ago, the mayor of Hopkins Park, a Black, rural community in Kankakee County, Illinois, argued for building an immigration detention center there to boost the economy. The people who lived there said: No, thanks. 

Mayor Mark Hodge now has another idea for new development in his town and the surrounding, historic farming community of Pembroke Township, south of Chicago. He’s backing a proposal for a pipeline, built by the utility Nicor, that would run through the area and, he hopes, bring with it natural gas and a boost to taxes and the local economy. And again, some residents are not pleased. 

“People here love the earth,” said Dr. Jifunza Wright-Carter, who farms 45 acres with her husband in Pembroke Township and promotes sustainable agriculture.

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For Small Farms Surviving The Pandemic, Co-ops Are A Lifeline

Ian Colburn, Zoey Fink, and Casey Holland all operate small, diversified farms in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area. The farmers already had plants in the ground in March when they realized restaurants and farmers’ markets—two of their biggest sales channels—would likely shut down due to the pandemic.

Colburn of Solarpunk Farm worried his acreage was too small to support a robust Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and that he hadn’t planned for the kind of crop diversity that model demanded. Fink works part-time at Farm Shark Farm with her husband. They already had a CSA but didn’t think they could increase membership enough on their own to sell the rest of the vegetables.

“It was a scary time,” she said. “We thought: if we work together, we can be scaling up and serving 100 families per week.”

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Pasture Cropping – The Innovative No-Kill, No-Till System

Regenerative agriculture is a global farming revolution with rapid uptake and interest around the world. Five years ago hardly anyone had heard about it. It is in the news nearly everyday now. This  agricultural revolution has been led by innovative farmers rather than scientists, researchers and governments. It is being applied to all agricultural sectors including cropping, grazing and perennial horticulture.

In previous articles we have described how regenerative agriculture maximizes the photosynthesis of plants to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to increase soil organic matter. Soil organic matter is a good proxy for soil health, as it is important for improving fertility and water capture in soils, thus improving productivity and profitability in farming.

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Add Atmospheric Drying To Climate Change Toll

Drier air brought on by climate change could put a dent in crop yields, triggering smaller and slower-growing plants, a new study says.

“Globally, the atmosphere is drying as the climate warms up,” said Danielle Way, an associate professor of biology at Western University. “That’s been correlated with reduced crop yield.”

Because air wants to hold as much water as possible, it starts to pull moisture from plants as its dries, with potentially devastating impacts on crops and vegetation.

Way, working with researchers at the University of Minnesota, studied 50 years of data and 112 plant species, including wheat, corn and birch trees, to assess how they’re affected by drier air.

The recently published findings show plants react to atmospheric drying — even if they don’t lack water in the soil — by triggering a drought-like response, growing smaller, shorter and slower.

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How ‘Big Ag’ Ate Up America’s Small Farms

The roads were icy and the wind biting cold as we started our 10,000-km journey through the heart of America one January morning. Sristy Agrawal, Rajashik Tarafder — young physicists pursuing their PhDs — Rumela Gangopadhyay, a theatre artiste, and I wanted to witness the state of farming in rural America, the quintessential “Trump country”.

Shooting in the frigid weather amid a pandemic was gruelling, but the warm welcome we got from farmers — Republican or Democrat, black or white — made up for it. We were surprised to learn that the American farm landscape, like India’s, is dominated by small farmers. They make up 90% of all farms, but produce only 25% of the market value. This was our first clue to America’s rural crisis. In the last decade, income of small farms has consistently been in the red.

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