Last month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 317 people in 20 states had confirmed cases of Salmonella caused by chicken traced to a California processor.
Kendra Nance's insight:
Just a month ago the Centers for Disease Control found cases of Salmonella caused by Chickens in 20 states! About 317 people were affected and this case traced entirely back to a California processor. People are starting to wonder if we need to change how chickens are raised and housed in factory farming. In most factory farming they practice spreed breeding, and this has now caused many chickens to be weak and they struggle to stand. Many things like standing in their feces, stress, and this speed breeding is making them more susceptible to getting diseases, like Salmonella.
BOONE, Iowa — Unlike most of his Iowa neighbors, farmer Dick Thompson isn't expecting the US government to help him survive the drought.
While others depend upon federally subsidized cro.p insurance, Thompson relies on old-fashioned farming methods to see him through.
As drought scorches U.S. corn and soybean harvests, most American farmers protect themselves from major financial losses with federally subsidized crop insurance.
This year's insurance payouts are expected to top last year's $10.8 billion in damage from droughts and floods.
The federally backed program is the backbone of the farmer safety net Congress is considering as it debates the Farm Bill, an enormous five-year package of legislation encompassing agriculture and nutrition policy.
..Thompson, 80, says he will see none of it.
"I have never bought crop insurance since we started to farm," he says.
On his own
Thompson also foregoes many of the tools of modern agriculture. He uses few chemical fertilizers and weed killers. He doesn't grow genetically modified crops.
"I'm old-fashioned and I'm proud of it," he says.
And yet, Thompson says his farm is more profitable than his modern-farming neighbors.
That success has inspired researchers like Matt Liebman at Iowa State University to study how farmers can succeed with such a contrarian approach.
"The reason we're doing this is because of what he's doing," Liebman says. His research fields at Iowa State University mimic much of what you find on Thompson's farm.
One explanation is crop diversity, something lacking on many Iowa farms today.
Corn and soybeans carpet the Iowa landscape. Many farmers grow nothing else. And when those crops do poorly, as they will in this year's drought, payments from crop insurance keep farmers in business.
Instead of crop insurance, Thompson protects himself the old-fashioned way.
While he grows corn and soybeans, he also raises hay and oats, along with cattle and hogs.
His oat crop was harvested before the drought hit. His third crop of hay sits scattered in round, shoulder-high bales on what will be next year’s corn field.
"I think it's common sense," Thompson says. "You've got diversity and you've got some protection there. If one crop doesn't do well, maybe the other one will make up for the difference."
What Thompson calls common sense used to be common practice on Iowa farms.
But the amount of land used to grow hay is half what it was two decades ago. Oats have fallen by nearly 95 percent.
Livestock disappeared, too. The number of farms with cows decreased by half between 1982 and 2007. The number with hogs fell by more than 80 percent.
Thompson says that is a mistake. "If I'd sell the cows, I would be like everybody else around me, corn and [soy] beans," he says.
The livestock difference
Thompson will not sell off his herds because his cows and hogs are good for more than income. They also provide the manure to fertilize the soil, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers.
And the manure helps the soil hold water, another form of insurance in a drought, according to Iowa State University researcher Rick Cruse.
"It really adds to the condition of that soil that does favor crop growth, particularly under stress conditions," Cruse says. "And that's the kind of conditions we're experiencing this year."
And they are conditions farmers everywhere are more likely to face in the future with climate change.
Matt Liebman says his research shows that Thompson has lessons for everyone.
"Looking toward diversity, crop-livestock integration, the careful stewardship of the soil, making the best use of every drop of rain that falls, those are lessons that we should know here. And they're even more important elsewhere," he says.
Thompson says it takes more work to farm this way than with chemicals and crop insurance, but he thinks it's worth it.
"I think it's a better way of taking care of the land and the environment and the pocketbook," he says. "You can have all three."
Thompson says the old-fashioned ways might still be the best.
To summerize this up, this article was all about how doing things the old fashioned way still may be better. Dick Thompson is one guy who has old fashioned ways of farmer and succeds sometimes more than someone who has more modern technology. Also many of these ways keep his farm safe from many problems that could occur.
Determining losses: Cattle become casualties of snowstorm Dickinson Press Last week's massive snowstorm along the North Dakota-South Dakota border turned deadly for a large, yet still unknown number of cattle, according to an Adams County rancher.
PolicyMic Genetically Modified Food Isn't As Scary As You Think PolicyMic While Washington State has been in the news more for one of its initiatives which passed last year, another recent legislative battle has caught the attention of some of the...
Kendra Nance's insight:
This article was all about the opinion on genetically modified food, or GMO. Modifying foods can create many positive things including growing more food and less pesticides to deal with. Many people though are worried about the health effects from these modified foods. A scientist named Gilles-Eric Séralini conducted an expirement with rats eating the geneticaly modifided corn. In conclustion, he found out that the rats who ate the modified corn had much higher levels of cancer and died earlier. So, he concluded that GMO have a possiblity to cause cancer. His information may not be too accurate though. One big fear about using GMOs is that they could completly put to extintion the non geneticaly modified organisms. Although many people are frightened about GMOs, there is really no need. There is no true evidence that GMOs can hurt us and the environment. There are actually a lot more true evidence towards positive affects of GMOs than negative.
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