Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

CFRA newsletter: ethanol, etc.

The latest is out from the Center for Rural Affairs. This November 2006 issue is particularly good, with several articles on ethanol issues. Also “corporate farming notes,” “top 10 reasons why small schools work better,” among other topics. It’s currently available here, but soon will be archived here. Some highlights:
Now is the time to ask critical questions and set farsighted strategies to develop ethanol production in a way that serves the common good. High oil prices are driving a dramatic increase in ethanol production that will reshape agriculture and rural economies (see article front page). We need to steer it in the right direction. >> PROFIT – We should help beginning farmers, family farmers, and workers in ethanol plants become the owners. Keeping the profits in rural America in many hands will increase the benefit to rural communities…. >> CONSERVATION – If land is removed from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to feed ethanol plants, will the conservation benefits be maintained? There should be incentives to leave parts of fields in contour grass strips, grass windbreaks, grass waterways, and buffer strips…. >> LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION – Ethanol production has already contributed positively to the reemergence of farmer cattle feeding in states like Iowa, prompted by availability of feed byproducts. However, one proposed model for ethanol production would do just the opposite. Some propose co-locating ethanol plants with big feedlots and using the manure to power the ethanol plant while feeding the byproducts on site. Publicly funded research institutions should focus on developing models that integrate ethanol production with dispersed family farm based livestock production…. >> FOOD SECURITY – There is no direct tradeoff between hunger and ethanol production. Hunger is largely not the result of insufficient grain supplies. Nonetheless, extreme shortages prompted by increased ethanol production could contribute to world hunger. USDA projects much more volatile markets in which a severe drought could prompt severe shortages.

Use Systems Thinking to Make Lasting Social Change

What can be done when our best intentions create unintended problems—such as temporary shelters increasing homelessness or food aid accelerating starvation?After decades of helping change-makers in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors address tough social problems, systems-thinking expert David Stroh shares the pioneering framework that both demystifies systems thinking and shows how it can lead […] Read More..

Recipe: How to Make the Perfect Pancake

When most people think pancakes, they think breakfast. But for Amy Halloran, breakfast is only the start.Halloran, author of The New Bread Basket, is a self-described pancake connoisseur. From a young age, she was entranced by the magic of bubbly batter rising to fluffy cakes on the griddle. Over time, her love of pancakes developed […] Read More..

Inside the Rise of the Local Grains Movement

Our daily bread. Breaking bread together. Bread and butter. These are all common phrases that reflect bread’s foundational role in our diet and in the building of our civilization. The stored energy of grain first allowed our ancestors to shift from nomadic hunting and gathering to building settled communities—even great cities. So why in an […] Read More..

The Limits to Growth and Greece: Systemic or Financial Collapse?

Could it be that the ongoing Greek collapse is a symptom of the more general collapse that the Limits to Growth model generates for the first two decades of the 21st century? Author Ugo Bardi (Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet) examines the correlation between what is unfolding between Greece […] Read More..

Economic Development is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It

Economic development today is completely broken. That’s the argument of author Michael Shuman in his new book, The Local Economy Solution. The singular focus on attracting global corporations is not just ineffective but counterproductive, Shuman argues, especially given the huge opportunity costs. Indeed, it’s not far-fetched to suggest that the best way most communities can […] Read More..
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