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Posts by Stephanie Mercier

Changes in local food systems policy in 2014 Farm Bill

March 13, 2014 3-17-14 Banner

On Feb. 7, 2014, President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, ending one of the longest farm bill debates in U.S. history. Within its nearly 1,000 pages are included numerous provisions that should serve to strengthen local food systems, both on the supply side and on the demand side.


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The debate over international food aid reform

April 28, 2014 4-29-14 Banner

The U.S. government has been providing humanitarian assistance in the form of food in a systematic way since the passage of the Agricultural Trade Development Assistance Act (also known as PL-480) in 1954.

The main program now operated under that legislation, the Title II “Food for Peace” program, has functioned in...

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Benefits of conserving agricultural practices

May 22, 2014 5-23-14 Banner

Long-term practitioners of conservation agriculture speak glowingly of the benefits of their practices. Indiana farmer Ken Rulon has been using no-till for 20 years. “Our cost of production is far less per bushel with no-till,” he said. “The soil is healthier, and organic matter and earthworm populations are increasing.”

Unfortunately, like...

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Lessons of Norman Borlaug's Green Revolution

October 13, 2014 10-13-14 Banner

This week marks the end of the year-long celebration honoring the centenary of the birth of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, famed scientist and recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in fighting global hunger. His wheat breeding efforts launched the Green Revolution in the 1960s that is...

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A new paradigm for U.S. farm programs

November 21, 2014 11-21-14 Banner

Congress has been providing financial support to crop farmers for more than 80 years in farm bills. Over that time, there has been a consistent policy feature you could always find in these farm bills. Crop farmers preferred to have a suite of policy instruments in their tool kit that...

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The immigration reform needs of Midwest agriculture

December 16, 2014 12-17-14 banner.jpg

Earlier this year, I was commissioned to write a paper on immigration issues for Midwest agriculture by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. That paper was released by the Council on Dec. 9. While public discussions of immigrant labor issues for agriculture have largely focused on the needs...

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Farm policy in the 114th Congress

January 20, 2015 1-20-15 Banner

With the convening of the 114th U.S. Congress, the Republican Party controls both the House and Senate for the first time since 2006. Unlike 2006, today’s GOP Congressional power will be pitted against a Democratic president in the White House. That means any potential agricultural policy changes will have to...

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TPP prospects excite U.S. farm groups

February 26, 2015 2-27-15 Banner

When the George W. Bush administration first proposed that the United States join the P-5 trade negotiations—later dubbed the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—back in 2008, most U.S. farm groups greeted that announcement with a yawn.

As initially configured, the proposed TPP partners consisted either of countries with which the United States...

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Faces of modern agriculture in the United States

March 17, 2015 3-18-15 Banner

Today, March 18, the U.S. agricultural community is observing the 42nd annual National Ag Day, celebrating the abundance provided by American agriculture.

For many Americans living in urban or suburban communities, their image of farming has been frozen in time, hearkening back to the dour farm couple portrayed in Grant Woods’...

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A new era for U.S. agricultural trade with Cuba

April 23, 2015 4-23-15 Banner

For decades, U.S. farm groups have pushed for better access to agricultural markets in Cuba. Thanks to President Obama’s initiative announced last December, such an opportunity now seems achievable. His Administration has since taken steps that will make such transactions easier, though full normalization will require Congressional action.

Aside from Canada...

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Food aid helps keep girls in school in developing countries

June 01, 2015 6-1-15 Banner

Although the vast majority of farm operators in the United States are men—70% of operators, 87% of principal operators as reported in the 2012 Census of Agriculture—that is not the case elsewhere in the world. Within the developing world, women make up about 43% of the agricultural labor force, with...

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Evolution of U.S. farmers markets--from Roosevelt to Obama

June 18, 2015 6-18-15 Banner

The modern concept of a farmers market, where local farmers regularly gather 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 operates today. It is nestled in downtown Los Angeles between the...

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What non-farmers should know about genetically modified organisms

August 14, 2015 8-14-15 Banner

U.S. crop farmers who raise genetically modified (GM) crops such as corn, soybeans, or cotton, choose to do so because this technology makes sense for their financial bottom line. These seeds help them reduce pesticide and/or herbicide costs. In general, U.S farmers have had good yield experience with these seeds because...

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U.S. agriculture and energy sectors: A complex love affair

August 26, 2015 8-28-15 Banner

For most of the last century, the relationship between the nation’s agricultural and energy sectors has been relatively straightforward—farmers used electricity, diesel fuel and natural gas (much of it in the form of nitrogen fertilizer) to run their operations, and the U.S. energy sector provided it to them.

However, over the...

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The views and opinions expressed in AgChllenge2050 blog posts are solely the opinions of the authors, and not those of Farm Foundation, NFP.