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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nebraska Farmers Get Rich, Georgia Farmers Learn Immigrants Work Hard

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 7:30 AM

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Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. Farming as a lucrative endeavor? Time has an odd, interesting story about how rising food and biofuel prices have Nebraska farmers making money, despite the recession. "Want to Make More Than a Banker? Become a Farmer!" is the title of the article. Readers will note that all the money is apparently coming from meat, grains, and biofuel -- three very unpopular agricultural products with environmentally conscious eaters. And if the government drops subsidy payments and its support of corn-based ethanol, as President Obama just hinted at, the rural recovery may suffer.

2. Georgia pays the price for anti-immigrant laws. On his blog Politics of the Plate, Barry Estabrook reports on a severe labor shortage that Georgia's agricultural sector is experiencing, thanks to draconian new anti-illegal-immigration laws. Georgia farms used to rely on skilled, undocumented laborers. As this fantastic New York Times feature lays out, illegal immigration has dropped sharply as more and more Mexicans find opportunities in Mexico and as the United States makes it too difficult and/or expensive to cross the border. So Mexican farm workers are choosing to give Georgia a pass, causing huge losses in the fields, and the governor is attempting to force parolees pick fruits and vegetables instead. The plan isn't working quite as well as he hoped.

3. GM labeling is a go! Well, sort of. Canadian papers such as the Toronto Globe & Mail are reporting that the United States has finally withdrawn its 20-year opposition to labeling of genetically modified food, which allows the Codex Alimentarius, an international food-safety committee, to release GM labeling guidelines. Don't look for GM labels on your Fritos anytime soon, though -- the guidelines are voluntary.

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