Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Member Blog: Stephanie Mercier

The Evolution of U.S. Farmers Markets--from Eleanor Roosevelt to Michelle Obama

May 19, 2015
The modern concept of a farmers market, where local farmers regularly gather at a particular place in cities and towns during the summer to sell their fresh produce directly to consumers, dates back several decades. One of the earliest such outlets was the Los Angeles Farmers Market established in 1934 (and still operating), nestled in downtown Los Angeles between the La Brea Tar Pits and West Hollywood. More farmers markets popped up during World War II, often to sell the fruits and vegetables grown in the ‘Victory Gardens’ promoted as an opportunity for civilians to contribute to the war effort by many prominent Americans, including then-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. One study identified 724 farmers markets operating in the United States at the end of the war in 1946.

The movement waned during the next few decades, as middle class families increasingly moved out of cities into suburban neighborhoods, and were provided with produce that was mass produced, trucked long distances over the new interstate highway system, and sold at nearby supermarkets.

The modern, “open air” community farmers market movement was revived in the 1970’s, in part by the passage of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-463), that authorized county extension agents to work with farmers on these activities. At the time, market experts and partial surveys suggested that there were about 600 enclosed and open air farmers markets still operating nationwide.

USDA began to systematically identify farmers markets in 1993, with the first nationwide count in 1994 at 1,755. A Rutgers University survey of New Jersey consumers who visited farmers markets and other direct marketing outlets in 1994 found that the majority of respondents were middle class, middle-aged, and white suburban residents, who “welcomed the opportunity to get fresh, high quality produce at lower costs.”

Read the entire blog post on agweb.com>>

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Member in the News: Jesse Tack

Troubling new research says global warming will cut wheat yields

Observant aliens visiting Earth and studying its civilizations would probably be pretty obsessed with wheat. They couldn’t fail to note how staggeringly many people we feed with the crop on this planet.

“Wheat is one of the main staple crops in the world and provides 20% of daily protein and calories,” notes the Wheat Initiative, a project launched by G20 agricultural ministers. “With a world population of 9 billion in 2050, wheat demand is expected to increase by 60%. To meet the demand, annual wheat yield increases must grow from the current level of below 1% to at least 1.6%.”

That’s why the punchline of a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is pretty troubling. A warming climate, it suggests, could drive wheat yields in the opposite direction – down — in the United States and, possibly, elsewhere.

[Scientists unlock the genetic secrets of bread wheat]

“The net effect of warming on yields is negative,” write Jesse Tack of the agricultural economics department of Mississippi State University and two colleagues, “even after accounting for the benefits of reduced exposure to freezing temperatures.”

That’s no small matter, the study notes, in that wheat is “the largest source of vegetable protein in low-income countries.”

The study compared results from nearly 30 years of winter wheat trials across Kansas — a state that produced $2.8 billion worth of wheat crop in 2013 — with data on weather and precipitation. Winter wheat grows from September to May and faces two major temperature-related threats during this cycle — extreme winter cold, and extreme spring heat.

Read more on WashingtonPost.com >>

Friday, May 8, 2015

Call for Applications: Junior Researcher Task Force

Application deadline: 15 July 2015

The 2nd International Conference on Global Food Security will feature a Junior Researcher Task Force, a team of 22 young people responsible for capturing and distributing via social media the big and recurring conversation topics that evolve under each thematic area. Selected members will attend all thematically-related sessions, use Twitter during the conference, and write blog posts immediately following to synthesize the most exciting research and new ideas. These individuals will also be required to attend a one-day “science communications” training the weekend of 10-11 October 2015.

The organizing committee is now accepting applications to be part of this task force. Graduate students, post-docs, and other junior research staff with an established professional social media presence (preferred) or an interest in cultivating one are encouraged to apply. Selected task force members will receive discounted admission to the conference (US$160 total), however all other costs must be covered by the individual.

Please submit the completed application form along with your CV to c.alman@elsevier.com no later than Wednesday 15 July 2015.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Call for applications: Junior researchers on social media at Global Food Security Conference

Posted on May 5, 2015- Megan Sheahan is a Research Support Specialist, Leah Bevis is a PhD candidate, and Joanna Upton is a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell’s Dyson School.

Social media is transforming the way researchers communicate their ideas, providing an avenue to reach new and broader audiences and another medium for conversation among academics. Given the diverse and geographically dispersed audience for research on food security, the 2nd International Conference on Global Food Security will feature a social media-savvy Junior Researcher Task Force. This set of 22 competitively selected early-career researchers will be responsible for capturing and distributing, via Twitter and blog posts, the key insights and conversation topics that evolve under each of the 11 thematic areas of the conference in Ithaca, New York from October 11-14, 2015.

We invite you to apply to be part of this effort. More details about the program and application process (with a deadline of July 15, 2015) can be found here. We will prioritize applicants with an already robust social media presence, but also welcome submissions from those with a sincere interest in cultivating one.

We hope that you will consider joining us, along with our colleagues at the Earth Institute’s State of the Planet blog, in this exciting endeavor to help voice and shape the messages that will evolve out of the upcoming Conference on Global Food Security.

And don’t forget to submit your abstract by Friday May 8, 2015!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

AAEA Member Bailey Norwood speaks at TEDx Event

Why college lectures are worthy of Netflix

F. Bailey Norwood is a teacher, advisor and researcher in the Department of Agricultural Economics at OSU. A South Carolina native, he attended Clemson, Kansas State and North Carolina State universities in his journey toward a Ph.D in economics. He has published a textbook, a novel, two books on controversial agricultural issues and numerous scientific journal articles.


Call for Volunteers: Farmer to Farmer Short-term International Volunteer Opportunities

Land O’Lakes International Development Division is currently looking for volunteers for the USAID Farmer to Farmer Program (F2F) in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Farmer to Farmer program relies on the expertise of U.S. Citizens and great card holders to respond to agriculture and agribusiness needs in the developing world. Volunteers donate their time and Land O’Lakes, the Implementer for F2F in the MENA region, takes care of all of the volunteer’s travel arrangements and expenses relating to the assignment.

Farmer to Farmer Assignments are a great way to gain international work experience, offer expertise to those in need, and get a chance to see a new part of the world. Most Farmer to Farmer volunteers return to report great personal satisfaction from the experience.

Land O’Lakes is currently recruiting volunteers for the Following horticulture and value-added assignments for the Farmer to Farmer Program:
Apply through the website or send an email letter of interest with your most updated CV highlighting your expertise to spaschke@landolakes.com. A list of all Farmer to Farmer assignments can be found here (https://lol.avature.net/Careers/SearchJobs/Farmer%20to%20Farmer).

If none of the above assignments fit your expertise or interest, but you are interested in volunteering in Egypt or Lebanon, we would still love to hear from you. You can send an emails to the above email address or apply online here. We may be able to find a project that suits your expertise and match you with ahost organization!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Member in the news: Marc Ribaudo

Conservation Programs Have Limited Impact on Waterways 

USDA Economist -- Greenwire
Source: Greenwire (1 May 2015)
Author: Tiffany Stecker
(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) A senior economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, writing in Choices magazine, says the agency must reframe how it implements its voluntary conservation programs if it wants to effectively address water quality programs. Marc Ribuado said current programs are unable to address large-scale agricultural pollution, such as runoff in the Mississippi River or the Chesapeake Bay. "While some water quality metrics have improved in some agriculturally influenced watersheds, others have deteriorated and more generally, outcomes have remained short of established water quality goals," he said. The problems, said Ribuado, are that non-point-source pollution discharges are unevenly shared among farmers and that farmers typically enroll in conservation programs for their own self-interest, rather than the societal need for clean water. Ribuado suggests that conservation advocates need to tap into farmers’ entrepreneurial character to achieve better results. The USDA should also introduce compliance measures that require certain results to be considered eligible. "By linking payments to practice costs rather than the provision of environmental outcomes, voluntary financial assistance programs limit the ability of farmers to act entrepreneurially or to introduce innovative ideas into conservation management,” he wrote. Suzy Friedman, the director of agricultural sustainability at the Environmental Defense Fund, said voluntary programs are limited due to the relatively small pot of money available, the cumbersome paperwork process, and the fact that the majority of agricultural landowners get their advice from private companies, not the federal government. Engaging the private sector, she said, "is how…we are going to get to scale and get to scale in those significant areas. You need to go through the advisers that they trust." The article in Choices is available at: http://www.choicesmagazine.org/choices-magazine/submitted-articles/the-limits-of-voluntary-conservation-programs. more