Farmers, Ranchers, the Railroad and Water: How the (Rio Grande) Valley was Built

Editor’s Note:  

If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you may remember reading about a cross-country move a few months back. Moving from Northern California to South Texas was a major change in cultures as well as states. It’s necessitated learning about the environmental issues (of which there are many), the climate (dramatically different), how to garden here (different climate means different viruses, etc.), and even language challenges (mine).

It’s also meant diving back into Texas history. Being Texas-born, I learned a great deal of Texas history growing up. Amazingly, in Texas, we learned ONLY Texas history until high school, where we were introduced to world history – a big eye opener!

But here is a glimpse of the history of the area where I grew up and now live again. The research was fascinating. Hope you enjoy my latest story which appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of AgMag Magazine.

Irrigation in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas

Irrigation in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas

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There’s hope for farmers who want to raise farm animals humanely

If you know any farmers, you know that earning a living is very difficult. Much money is spent – on equipment of all sorts, high labor costs and a myriad of other things – and the markets are volatile at best. Farmers who raise livestock – be it cattle, chickens or hogs – know that the demand from consumers for humanely raised animals is growing.

Change, however, costs money, something that’s usually in short supply for the American farmer.

But there’s hope out there and resources that farmers can reach out for to help them transition to a third-party certification of humanely raised farm animals.

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A new food label is coming our way – Certified Transitional

Certified Transitional graphic page 1If you read labels – and as an informed consumer you really need to – you know that there are MANY labels out there. Too many in fact.

But get ready because another one’s on the way. This one, though, actually makes sense. Continue reading

Opportunity for industrial hemp included in newly signed Farm Bill

hemp legalizationWhen President Obama has signed the Farm Bill last week, it included a little touted but exciting amendment – one that would allow State Agriculture Departments and colleges and universities to grow hemp. Continue reading

The market for non-GMO crops is growing and farmers and grain processors are getting onboard

Lynn Clarkson founded Clarkson Grain, which accepts only non-GMO grain. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR

Lynn Clarkson founded Clarkson Grain, which accepts only non-GMO grain. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR

As the groundswell against GMO crops and genetically modified ingredients in our food grows, farmers are taking notice. Many are realizing that more demand for non-GMO means better prices for their crops.

Supply and demand always dictate what’s available to consumers and the more we speak up, the louder consumers get, manufacturers, grain processors and farmers will deliver.

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CropMobster helps local farmers eliminate food waste

Cropmobster produce gleaning  with Petaluma Bounty, photo by Gary Cedar, courtesy of CropMobster

Cropmobster produce harvesting with Petaluma Bounty, photo by Gary Cedar, courtesy of CropMobster

It’s almost unthinkable but more than fifty percent of the fresh produce grown in the U.S. goes uneaten. Continue reading

Organic farmers, asociations & seed sellers sue Monsanto

Farmers can find their crops contaminated by Monsanto's transgenic seeds

I’ve posted a few stories about Monsanto and its stronghold tactics in regards to genetically engineered – or transgenic – seeds. There has been much media attention on how the corporate giant has gone after small farmers who inadvertently found themselves growing the contaminated seeds mixed in their otherwise traditional or organic fields.


Now a broad coalition of organic farmers, associations, seed businesses and traditional farmers – who represent over 270,000 individuals from across the US and Canada – have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto to protect themselves from being accused of infringing the chemical company’s 52 patents.

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