Growing Power awarded $250,000. from USDA

The USDA announced that a combined $1 million in grants are being awarded to two Wisconsin organizations that implement programs to train beginning farmers. U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin's office said the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship in Seymour and Growing Power of Milwaukee will share the funds, which are being provided through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Growing Power will receive $250,000. That money will help deliver a hands-on, intensive six-week program to train 30 beginning farmers in urban and peri-urban agriculture. This program will target socially-disadvantaged audiences.


Downtown St. Louis To Sprout Its First Rooftop Farm

The non-profit’s founding director, Mary Ostafi, said the 10,000 sq. ft. rooftop will be more than just a community garden. “We’re going to have an outdoor classroom, as well as a gathering space for community events,” Ostafi said. “We’ll be raising chickens and tending bees.”

Ostafi said the farm will also have a greenhouse, so it can keep producing fresh vegetables year-round.

Urban Harvest STL will hire a part-time farm manager to run the operation, but everything else will be done by volunteers.

Along with growing their own food in community garden plots, area residents will be able to buy shares of the harvest through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. Some food will be donated to McMurphy’s Cafe at St. Patrick’s Center, a homeless services provider.


Climate change denier took $1.25 million from Koch brothers, energy companies: Greenpeace

A prominent academic and climate change denier’s work was funded almost entirely by the energy industry, receiving more than $1.2m from companies, lobby groups and oil billionaires over more than a decade, newly released documents show.

Over the last 14 years Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics , received a total of $1.25m from Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and a foundation run by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers, the documents obtained by Greenpeace through freedom of information filings show.


Wisconsin pipeline dwarfs Keystone and affects every waterway in the state

A 42-inch pipeline buried beneath every major waterway in Wisconsin would dwarf the volume of gritty, chemical-laced sludge carried by Keystone XL when it amps up operation next year. Only a Dane County zoning committee stands in the way — temporarily — of oil giant Enbridge’s intention for Line 61 to convey more tar sands crude than any pipeline in the nation.

A network of pipes and pumping stations built at various times and gradually joined together, the convoluted line began in 2006 and currently pumps an astonishing 560,000 barrels through Wisconsin daily. After its 12 pumping stations are either constructed or upgraded with additional horsepower, the line would convey up to 1.2 million barrels daily — one-third more than the Keystone XL’s 800,000 barrels.

Enbridge, North America’s largest oil and gas pipeline operator, has the Western Hemisphere’s worst record for spills. The National Transportation Safety Board has recorded 800 incidents since 1999 — and that’s not including oil that seeps into the environment from weak or corroded sections of pipe, which is ignored by federal regulators.


Ohio Supreme Court Says Towns Aren’t Allowed To Ban Fracking

Ohio cities and towns cannot enact fracking bans through their zoning laws, a sharply divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

In a slim 4-3 decision, the state’s high court ruled that Ohio has “sole and exclusive” authority over oil and gas production, determining that the Ohio Constitution does not permit a local community to ban drilling approved by the state Department of Natural Resources. The fractured decision produced a concurring opinion and three separate dissents, one of which suggested that campaign cash influenced the result.

The ruling comes in response to citizens across Ohio who have raised alarm bells about what they see as harmful effects of fracking. Among their concerns: a recent study found that fracking “triggered 400 small earthquakes over a three-month period in 2013.” Another study found that fracking produced an additional 77 earthquakes in Ohio, including one strong enough to be felt by humans. There is also concern over methane gas leaking from fracking wells close to residential communities. Twenty-five families in eastern Ohio were recently evacuated after a nearby fracking well sprung a leak. Communities are also worried that chemicals from fracking will threaten drinking water — a recent Akron Beacon Journal study found that one vertical-horizontal well “required nearly 1 million pounds of liquid chemical additives.”


Help stop slaughter of elephants, David Attenborough tells Xi Jinping

David Attenborough has called on China's president to help stop the "catastrophic" slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants each year by ending his country's domestic ivory trade.

In an open letter to Xi Jinping, the world famous wildlife filmmaker urges the Communist Party leader to take historic action in order to halt the animals' rapid slide towards extinction.

"The elephants of Africa are dying in their tens of thousands every year to provide ivory for misguided consumers in China and elsewhere. Without your help, they will continue to perish and be pushed towards extinction," says the letter, which is also signed by dozens of prominent conservationists and British MPs as well actress Joanna Lumley and comedian Ricky Gervais.



Stop eating so much meat, top U.S. nutritional panel says

The country's foremost nutrition advisory panel is taking a stand against meat: Americans should eat less of it, top experts say, in order to protect the environment.

The recommendation could have a significant impact on the amount of meat people eat --- as well as the environmental impact of a carnivorous nation.

"We're not saying that people need to become vegans," said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee's members. "But we are saying that people need to eat less meat."


Organic farming – India's future perfect?

India's struggling farmers are starting to profit from a budding interest in organic living. Not only are the incomes of organic farmers soaring – by 30% to 200%, according to organic experts – but their yields are rising as the pesticide-poisoned land is repaired through natural farming methods.

Organic farming only took off in the country about seven years ago. Farmers are turning back to traditional farming methods for a number of reasons.

Many farmers are reluctant to make the leap because they fear a drop in yields in the initial period; good results tend to show after three years. Moreover, the market is growing by 500% to 1,000% a year, according to Morarka, but it only represents 0.1% of the food market.