dead zone


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As Presidential Candidates Prepare for Ohio Debate, Farmers Need a New Vision

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

It has been a very bad year for Ohio’s farmers. Across the state, they were unable to plant crops on nearly 1.5 million acres this past spring due to unrelenting rainfall and flooding. The Buckeye State has also been hard-hit by the Trump administration’s trade war, with the price of soybeans—Ohio’s most financially valuable agricultural commodity—plummeting. At the same time, intensive commodity farming has taken a heavy toll on the state’s water resources. And growing just one or two crops, as many Ohio farmers do, leaves them and our food supply vulnerable in an erratic climate future. But changing the way farmers do business—starting with their soil—can help solve all these problems. And when the fourth Democratic presidential debate kicks off in Westerville, Ohio on Tuesday, it sure would be great to hear about the candidates’ plans to make healthy soil a reality. Read more >

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What Our 50-State Scorecard Says About Farming and Water Pollution (and What the Farm Bill Should Do About It)

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Last week, my colleagues and I launched a super-cool data tool on the UCS website. The 50-State Food System Scorecard compiles loads of publicly available data dealing with the health and sustainability of food and farming, and ranks the states on their performance in various data categories and overall.

Finding and evaluating a critical mass of data to say something reasonably comprehensive about each state’s food system—from farm to fork—was a big project, and its lead scientist Marcia DeLonge summarized how we did it and why we bothered in a post last week. So today, I want to home in on just one of the aspects we looked at.

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Photo: Tim McCable, USDA/CC BY 2.0 (Flickr)
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This map of dissolved oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico shows the extent of the dead zone in July 2017. Courtesy of Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. https://gulfhypoxia.net/research/shelfwide-cruise/?y=2017&p=oxy_maps

Dead Zone 2017: Even Worse than Predicted (and That’s an Understatement)

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

There’s more bad news for the Gulf of Mexico. A team led by researchers at Louisiana State University this week confirmed the largest Gulf dead zone since standardized measurement began in 1985. The lifeless area of low oxygen in the Gulf is now at least the size of New Jersey, the researchers say, noting in a press release that because they couldn’t map the entire affected area, their measurement is an understatement of the problem this year. Read more >

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This Summer’s Gulf “Dead Zone” Could Be Bigger Than Connecticut—and Trump’s Budget Cuts Would Make It Worse

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Summer is almost here, and you know what that means. Sun, sand, and…a watery wasteland devoid of all life? Yep, this is the time each year when a team of federal and university scientists predicts the size of the so-called dead zone that will develop in the Gulf of Mexico later in the summer. We’re waiting for that official prediction, but based on federal nitrate flux data and Midwest weather patterns this spring, it seems likely that it will be bigger than usual. Read more >

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Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore

How US Farm Subsidies Make Taxpayers Pay Twice (And How We Could Change That)

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Usually, when you buy something, you pay for it just once. But if you’re a US taxpayer, you’re paying twice for the food system you’re “buying” with your hard-earned tax dollars. An example: today’s massive federal farm subsidies encourage farming practices that lead to toxic algae blooms, drinking water pollution, and other costly problems we have to pay for again downstream. By contrast, modest investment in just one proven alternative farming system would achieve annual savings—in the form of water pollution averted—of $850 million. Read more >

Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore
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