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10 notable blogs in Western Farm Press in 2014

Here's a short list of what our editors were talking about in 2014

Savvy Western Farm Press readers likely saw a few themes in the blogs we posted over the course of 2014.

For the most part water and the loud debates over biotechnology generated much buzz by our blog writers as thoughts were shared, questions asked and discussions encouraged.

California’s epic drought easily claimed its spot as the most-discussed issue of 2014.

Part One: How to animate a water manager was part of a series of water-related blogs written in response to the major drought California faced. Read how Todd Fitchette recorded how well-known California water district manager’s blood pressure rose when a member of the audience suggested farmers could do more to help themselves out of the drought pickle they were in.

Major media still wrong on agricultural water use: Throughout the year it became apparent that major media outlets would continue to parrot incorrect information related to agricultural water use in California. Here Fitchette responds to false media reporting and gives voice to an agricultural colleague who herself continues to be frustrated at the lack of truthful reporting in mainstream publications.

Will new House leader be good for California Ag? was a question Fitchette posed after it was announced that Rep. Kevin McCarthy was named House Majority Leader. McCarthy is a Bakersfield Republican who was part of a politically-orchestrated media event in January related to California’s drought and a House attempt to pass legislation that would have purportedly made it easier for farmers and ranchers to access surface water supplies in California.

While some in agriculture were publicly praising McCarthy’s ascension to House leadership, the author’s point was to question this in light of political realities that included (at the time) a Democratically-controlled Senate and White House.

In Western agriculture scientist touts GMO safety, benefits Western Farm Press Editor Cary Blake addresses the GMO boogie-man through a guest-opinion he came across in The Arizona Republic newspaper from Shane Burgess, dean of the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. According to Blake, GMO products are part of the most efficient, effective and environmentally sustainable agricultural systems in the world.

Safeway stakeholders reject anti-GMO labeling proposal was a news item Blake addressed in an August blog where he reported that the major American grocer sided with the National Center for Public Policy Research in rejecting GMO labeling on food products.

Blake pointed out that in 20 years of studies, the American Medical Association has seen no ill-effects of Americans eating bioengineered foods, and thus science is significantly on the side of those who say GMO products are safe, that they save lives, and that they provide jobs.

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In School is for factual learning, not anti-GMO rhetoric, Blake asserts that one U.S. public school district needs to focus on the 3-R’s instead of a three-letter acronym that is charged with political hyperbole.

In his blog, Blake points out the irony of the decision by a large school district to shift away from GMO foods because, as one school district director says, “Our students will grow up to make their own decisions about the food they eat.”

But for now the students and their parents have no choice in the matter but to swallow district rhetoric.

DPR report sets record straight on pesticide safety was another science-based blog where Blake attacked the false notion that people in large numbers are dying from eating pesticide-laced fruits and vegetables.

The blog reports on California Department of Pesticide Regulation testing that found “the vast majority of produce the public agency tested in 2013 had little or no detectable pesticide residues and… posed no health risks to the public.”

While DPR officials did find higher-than-approved tolerances of pesticide residue in 4 percent of tested produce, DPR Chief Brian Leahy said some of those products came from imported food products.

Read the whole blog to find out where those products came from.

Where would agriculture be without university research? is one of those questions Fitchette pondered as America’s Land Grant institutions celebrated a century of scientific service to American agriculture and American citizens.

The Land Grant system set up the cooperative extension service and allowed Farm Advisors to bridge the gap between scientific research and on-farm practices in ways that have made American agriculture an envy of the world.

Sirens, chase turn field day into harrowing experience is a first-hand report by Blake that a growing number of people in America’s Southwest have come to experience.

While covering a field day in Arizona, Blake and others were afforded a front-row seat to a police chase that likely included foreign drug smuggler.

The fact that the chase included U.S. Border Patrol agents proved that America’s sovereign border is ripe with illegal activity that jeopardizes even the American farmer.

World peace threatened by loss of chocolate is a light-hearted meme by Fitchette that points to the real challenges faced by world chocolate makers as the world supply of cocoa plants continues to shrink.

In his blog Fitchette suggests that U.S. Land Grant colleges could help by stepping up to the plate with research to assist American farmers in efficiently producing ample supplies of cocoa to meet growing world demand for chocolate.

Holidays like Valentine’s Day and marriages around the world could be in jeopardy without ample supplies of the tasty confectionary.

 

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