WBEZ | agriculture http://www.wbez.org/tags/agriculture Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Daughter of Holocaust survivor visits region in turmoil to reconnect with her roots http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-07-16/morning-shift-daughter-holocaust-survivor-visits <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/josh.ev9_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today, we look at the reasons for low minority enrollment in some elite schools on Chicago&#39;s North Side. And, a look at the CPS budget. And, host Ayana Contreras joins us for another Reclaimed Soul.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-60/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-60.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-60" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Daughter of Holocaust survivor visits region in turmoil to reconnect with her roots" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 08:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-07-16/morning-shift-daughter-holocaust-survivor-visits Drought drives drilling frenzy for groundwater in California http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/drought-drives-drilling-frenzy-groundwater-california-110483 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rig_DeLaCruz_SK.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>The drought in California may be thousands of miles away, but it&rsquo;s having a direct effect on the rest of the country, including the Great Lakes region. </em></p><p><em>As part of our Front &amp; Center series, we&rsquo;ll be reporting on that all week.</em><em> But first we take you back to California, which grows nearly 50 percent of the nation&rsquo;s produce.</em><em> </em></p><p><em>The situation for farmers and ranchers has become so dire there&rsquo;s a potentially dangerous drilling boom going on. Not for oil or gas. For water. </em></p><blockquote><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/158677537&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false" width="100%"></iframe><strong>Related: <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/water-issues-in-the-west-could">What water issues in California mean for the Midwest</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Steve Arthur practically lives out of his truck these days. But he&rsquo;s not homeless. He runs one of Fresno&rsquo;s busiest well drilling companies.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s officially getting crazy. We go and we go but it just seems like we can&rsquo;t go fast enough,&rdquo; he says, sitting behind the steering wheel as he hustles up and down Highway 99 to check on drilling rigs that run 24 hours a day, probing for water.</p><p>Some days, Arthur doesn&rsquo;t even have time to stop for gas; he&rsquo;s got an extra tank hooked up to the flatbed of his pickup. He says he&rsquo;s lucky if he gets three hours of sleep a night.</p><p>&ldquo;Toward the end of the week, I start to get run down pretty good,&rdquo; he sighs. &ldquo;On a Friday afternoon, you might see me parked on the side of the road taking a cat nap.&rdquo;</p><p>Counties in the farm-rich Central Valley are issuing record numbers of permits for new water wells. Arthur says his company&rsquo;s got an eight-month waiting list. Some of his competitors are backlogged more than a year. Drillers like Arthur say they&rsquo;re even busier than they were during the drought of 1977, when Californians drilled 28 thousand new wells.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/california-drought-renews-debate-regional-food-systems-110497">Will California drought prompt a stronger Midwest food system?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;This is off the scales, here,&rdquo; says Arthur, shaking his head. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just amazing, the amount of people that call and want wells. A customer called this morning and I&rsquo;m supposed to do two for him, and he said, &lsquo;Add 14 to the list.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You have to literally grab these guys and drag &lsquo;em to your property and say &lsquo;Please, please drill me a well!,&rsquo;&rdquo; laments citrus farmer Matt Fisher, who&rsquo;s been scrambling to keep his trees alive after learning that he won&rsquo;t get any water from federal reservoirs this year.</p><p>&ldquo;I have even heard of drilling companies that won&rsquo;t tell growers who&rsquo;s in front of them, because guys are trying to buy the other guy&rsquo;s spot in line,&rdquo; says Fisher. &ldquo;Its crazy, some of the things that are going on, but if you&rsquo;re in our shoes, and you have to pay a guy $10,000 for his spot in line, that&rsquo;s cheap compared to what you&rsquo;re going to lose if you lose your whole orchard.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not always about losing trees, though. Right where a brand new almond orchard will be planted in rural Fresno County, a 70-foot high drilling rig bores a hole in the earth 2,500 feet deep. This well will cost the farmer about a million dollars.</p><p>Juan de La Cruz works on this rig 12 hours a day, seven days a week, carefully guiding the drill bit. He&rsquo;s standing in a little hut next to the drill hole that they call &lsquo;the doghouse.&rsquo; It&rsquo;s where workers keep a log of the layers of sand and clay they find, collecting samples every ten feet as the drill probes deeper.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also home to two other essential pieces of gear: a microwave and a fridge.</p><p>&ldquo;This is basically where we live while we&rsquo;re working,&rdquo; says De La Cruz in Spanish. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got some nopales (cacti) and zucchinis in here to cook up. The farmers bring us cantaloupes, tomatoes, whatever we want. They are so grateful because when we&rsquo;re done with this well, these fields will have water.&rdquo;</p><p>Bob Zimmerer&rsquo;s company, Zim Industries, owns this rig and a dozen others. He knows there&rsquo;s a silver lining to the drought for well drillers this year. But he knows it can&rsquo;t last forever.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t keep sustaining this amount of overdraft, we all know that,&rdquo; says Zimmerer, standing on the platform next to the drill. &ldquo;At this point in time, we don&rsquo;t want to keep going on at this pace. It&rsquo;s more of a temporary fix.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s a sobering admission from a well driller.</p><p>California&rsquo;s aquifers supply 40 percent of the state&rsquo;s water in normal years but in this drought year, it could be closer to 65 percent. That makes it our biggest water reserve &ndash;- bigger than the Sierra snowpack.</p><p>Scientists are already sounding alarm bells about pumping too much groundwater. State water managers estimate that water tables in some parts of the Valley have dropped 100 feet below historical lows. As water levels sink, the land can sink, too &mdash; in some places by about a foot per year. Groundwater pumping could also put more stress on the San Andreas Fault.</p><p>That&rsquo;s not the only seismic consequence.</p><p>&ldquo;We are a one-way trajectory towards depletion. Toward running out of groundwater in the Central Valley,&rdquo; warns Jay Famiglietti, a hydrologist at UC Irvine. He points out that California is the only western state that doesn&rsquo;t really monitor or regulate how much groundwater farmers and residents are using.</p><p>&ldquo;If you own property, you can dig a well and you can pump as much groundwater as you a want,&rdquo; says Famiglietti, &ldquo;even if that means you are drawing water in from beneath your neighbor&rsquo;s property into your well. So it&rsquo;s not unlike having several straws in a glass, and everyone drinking at the same time, and no one really watching the level.&rdquo;</p><p>That could change. A bill making its way through the state legislature could, for the first time ever, require local agencies to track, and in some cases, even restrict groundwater pumping. Some farmers oppose it, saying it&rsquo;s a violation of their property rights.</p><p>But retired attorney and water activist Jerry Cadagan says counties should be thinking hard right now about the permits they&rsquo;re giving to farmers to drill thousands of new wells.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve got to put reasonable restrictions so people are only pumping out a reasonable amount of water that underlies their land,&rdquo; says Cadagan, who lives in Stanislaus County, and is suing farmers there for drilling wells without considering the environmental impact. &ldquo;Groundwater is like a bank account. You can&rsquo;t take out more than you put in on an ongoing basis.&rdquo;</p><p>Farmers too, are starting to worry. In Merced County, farm leaders are trying to stop two private landowners from selling as much as 7 billion gallons of well water to farmers in another county. They call it &ldquo;groundwater mining.&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 05:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/drought-drives-drilling-frenzy-groundwater-california-110483 Majority of Illinois crops are genetically engineered http://www.wbez.org/news/science/majority-illinois-crops-are-genetically-engineered-110458 <p><p>The recent rainfall in Illinois has provided some welcome relief for many farmers who worry that too much or too little moisture is tricky for corn and soybeans.</p><p>But farmers like Lin Warfel, a Central Illinois farmer who grows corn and soybeans in Tolono, may have found a solution.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m nearing the end of my tenure, this is my 52nd crop, so I&rsquo;m trying to simplify everything and the simple way and easy way to do it nowadays is just plain corn and plain soybeans. Both of which are GMO.&rdquo;</p><p>Warfel started using corn and soybeans that have been genetically modified, that means scientists have been able to identify and multiply the strongest and best genes.</p><p>He says he doesn&rsquo;t necessarily have to worry about the weather anymore and has seen a huge difference in his yield compared to the years before GMOs were around.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GMO-Corn_0.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 280px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Around 89 percent of corn in Illinois is grown from genetically engineered seeds, according to the Illinois Farm Bureau." />&ldquo;About 25 years ago, we had a drought and this was before current genetics. My corn that year yielded just over 100 bushels per acre. With the change in the genetics, it was only 155. It was 55 bushels better than my corn was earlier because of genetics.&rdquo;</p><p>According to the <a href="http://www.ilfb.org/">Illinois Farm Bureau</a>, 89 percent of corn in Illinois and 92 percent of soybeans are grown from genetically engineered seeds.</p><p>Warfel says GMO corn and soybeans are more likely to make it through harsh weather conditions.</p><p>&ldquo;It withstands too much moisture better or not enough moisture better. So, it&rsquo;s more productive, more consistently, than it used to be.&rdquo;</p><p>Warfel says using GMO crops also helps to reduce his bottom line. He spends less on fuel because he doesn&rsquo;t need to be out on the field twice cultivating it. He also employs fewer people because there&rsquo;s not as much work that needs to be done.</p><p>But not all farmers are on board with GMOs</p><p>Dave Bishop is the owner of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.prairierthfarm.com/PrairiErth_Farm/Homepage.html">Prairie Earth Farm.</a>&nbsp;His farm is also based in Central Illinois, but grows organic and conventional non-GMO produce including corn and soybeans.</p><p>&ldquo;I think there are better ways to address issues of pest resistance and weather changes to different kinds of crop rotation and cover crops. In my opinion, far better than genetically engineered crops.&rdquo;</p><p>Bishop says he doesn&rsquo;t believe the hype that GMOs are better at resisting drought or too much rain.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that conventional crops yield as well. They are more profitable in most cases, at least here we have a significant premium in the marketplace for non-gmo crops.&rdquo;</p><p>But, Illinois Department of Agriculture director Bob Flider says despite the significant crop devastation due to the drought of 2012, crops were <em>still </em>able to survive.</p><p>&ldquo;If you think about the drought that we had a couple of years ago, quite candidly it was probably the worst weather conditions that we&rsquo;ve had in Illinois ever, in terms of the heat and the dryness, but yet we still had a crop. If we hadn&rsquo;t have had those kinds of seeds and scientific research that could grow and develop a crop we might have had virtually nothing and that would have been a disaster.&rdquo;</p><p>Flider says as resources around the world continue to become depleted, it&rsquo;s important to support research and find ways to increase production in order to feed the growing population.</p><p>And that is a topic that pits the debate of good versus bad when it comes to the overall impact of GMOs.</p><p><em>Mariam Sobh is Midday Host and reporter at WBEZ Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/mariamsobh">@mariamsobh</a></em></p></p> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/majority-illinois-crops-are-genetically-engineered-110458 Great Lakes brace for more toxic algae http://www.wbez.org/news/great-lakes-brace-more-toxic-algae-110112 <p><p><em>Update, August 4, 2014, 11:30a.m.: Officials are scrambling to address a growing algae bloom in Lake Erie that threatens the water supply of hundreds of thousands of people in parts of Michigan and Ohio. After tests at a water treatment plant showed dangerous levels of contamination, Toledo, Ohio officials&nbsp;warned residents not to use city water early Saturday. The water ban was lifted Monday, but the algae bloom isn&#39;t expected to peak until September, potentially continuing to pollute the lake that supplies drinking water for 11 million people.&nbsp;</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s spring, and the heavy snowmelt and rain is good news for farmers and scientists who have been worried about drought the last few years. But all that water has other consequences for the Great Lakes, including runoff: rainstorms carry fertilizer from farms and lawns into streams and rivers.</p><p>Much of it eventually ends up in the lakes, and when too much accumulates it can feed huge blooms of toxic algae. The problem is especially dire in Lake Erie around Toledo, Ohio, where algal blooms in 2011 and 2013 were some of the worst on record.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve seen the lake go from where you weren&rsquo;t even supposed to go swimming in it to what it&rsquo;s like today, and the change has been phenomenal,&rdquo; says Tim Robinette, a Toledo-area resident and longtime fisherman. &ldquo;There were places that used to literally dump their waste in the river, and it used to float on down the river back in the &lsquo;50s and &lsquo;60s. And that don&rsquo;t happen anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>Lake Erie became infamous for its contamination after the <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cleveland.com%2Fscience%2Findex.ssf%2F2009%2F06%2Fcuyahoga_river_fire_40_years_a.html&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNFrwLjBkRSrEfOZxS0CiBu_HPNmSQ">Cuyahoga River caught on fire in 1969</a>; the lake&rsquo;s notoriety is credited with inspiring the passage of the federal Clean Water Act as well as the creation of Earth Day. And Lake Erie&rsquo;s comeback has been equally legendary: point source pollution from factories and sewage systems was cleaned up to a great extent by the 1990s.</p><p>In the 2000s, though, algal blooms began to reappear in the lake, bringing with them dead zones, bad smells and water that was once again risky to consume even in small amounts. In 2011, following a spring of particularly extreme rains, the algae blooms in Lake Erie grew to more than 5,000 square kilometers&mdash;three times the previous record. That got the attention of the International Joint Commission, the U.S. and Canadian body that has monitored the lakes for more than a century. They worked on <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ijc.org%2Ffiles%2Fpublications%2F2014%2520IJC%2520LEEP%2520REPORT.pdf&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEL7GD6q-OXSzaquvJC8_DaPA47IQ">a major report</a> released this spring urging states and provinces to take immediate action to curb runoff.</p><p><strong>The green goblin</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Well, it looks kind of like green goo, you know, like thick, like pea soup-type green,&rdquo; says Carol Stepien, a biologist at the University of Toledo&rsquo;s Lake Erie Center, which overlooks the Maumee Bay.</p><p>The gooey muck she&rsquo;s talking about is blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, which, when it&rsquo;s overfed by fertilizers in the water, can grow into blooms that are dangerous to drink or even touch. In recent years cyanobacteria has poisoned multiple pets who drank from the lake, and last summer it <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.toledoblade.com%2Flocal%2F2013%2F09%2F15%2FCarroll-Township-s-scare-with-toxin-a-wake-up-call.html&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNFoUOuLh5_aFgTbMxEWSmrMHbEGTA">shut down a water treatment system in a township near Toledo</a>.</p><p>When the algae decomposes there&rsquo;s another problem: it eats up oxygen, and that creates dead zones in the lake where no fish or plants can live, an effect called hypoxia.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Copy%20of%20DSCN1768.JPG" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="The Maumee River runs from the west through Toledo and into Lake Erie, carrying fertilizer runoff from rural and urban sources with it." /></div><p>Stepien explains that the Maumee River, a large river that runs through the middle of Toledo and into the bay, carries fertilizer runoff from up to 150 miles away. The Maumee Bay is a particularly warm, shallow part of the lake, and as runoff gathers, the algae becomes a well-fed monster.</p><p>But this isn&rsquo;t some mysterious green goblin. Stepien says the problem can be traced primarily to phosphorus, an ingredient in commercial fertilizers that&rsquo;s also found in manure, and sewer overflows from municipal water systems. The trouble is identifying and stemming the sources of the phosphorus.</p><p>&ldquo;This is water that&rsquo;s coming in from many many places, it can&rsquo;t be pinpointed to a single pipe or certain pipes,&rdquo; she says.</p><p><strong>Golf greens can&rsquo;t be brown</strong></p><p>Sources can&rsquo;t be pinpointed individually, but the potential sources are widely known. Among them are lawns and golf courses that use commercial fertilizers. Just a couple miles away from the lake, there&rsquo;s a golf course right along the river.</p><p>&ldquo;Golf courses get a bad rap for the leaching issue,&rdquo; says Tim Glorioso, the golf course manager at the Toledo Country Club. He admits people who come here don&rsquo;t want their greens to be brown, and a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eifg.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F07%2Fgolf-course-environmental-profile-nutrient-report.pdf&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEgmkTGFSZ4oHA9FXxlx8sHFw-UGg">2009 survey of golf course managers</a> found the average golf course puts down 65 pounds of phosphorus per acre each year, and even more pounds of nitrogen.</p><p>Glorioso, though, says he uses a lot less.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Copy of DSCN1661.JPG" style="height: 201px; width: 280px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Tim Glorioso is the director of golf course operations at the Toledo Country Club." />&ldquo;With the way budgets are right now, why would you go out and put more phosphorus down and more nitrogen than you need to? It doesn&rsquo;t make sense, economically,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Glorioso monitors the phosphorus in the soil constantly, and says he only puts on the amount the grass can absorb. Timing matters too &mdash; simple stuff like not putting down nutrients on frozen ground, or right before a storm. He attends continuing education classes during the winter months and thinks responsible management practices can lessen golf courses&rsquo; contribution to the algae problem. But he admits that not everyone is quite so diligent.</p><p>&ldquo;We have some people that probably don&rsquo;t do what they&rsquo;re supposed to do,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><strong>Some farmers resist regulation</strong></p><p>Most of the area that drains into the Maumee River isn&rsquo;t golf courses or suburban lawns: it&rsquo;s farms. There are miles and miles of them &mdash; mainly corn, wheat and soybeans &mdash; from Toledo all the way up the Maumee River and its tributaries, which extend into Indiana and Michigan.</p><p>&ldquo;We could argue back and forth about is it urban, is it yards, is it agriculture, is it municipal water systems,&rdquo; says Tadd Nicholson with the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. &ldquo;I prefer to say it&rsquo;s all of those things.&rdquo;</p><p>Corn has been booming recently due to ethanol production, so farmers are planting to the very edges of fields, and at least some of them are laying the fertilizer down thick. But Nicholson says the corn industry is producing more corn per acre while also using less fertilizer than it did a few decades ago. In other words, corn can&rsquo;t be solely to blame for the resurgence of algal blooms. And, like Glorioso, he says education and voluntary programs to reduce runoff are as beneficial for the industry as they are for the lake.</p><p>&ldquo;If we can show farmers how to minimize phosphorus runoff, it&rsquo;s not a hard sell, it&rsquo;s something that we are very motivated to do,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>It&rsquo;s worth noting that over-applying fertilizer isn&rsquo;t against any laws in Ohio, and agriculture in particular has long been <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.epa.gov%2Fsites%2Fproduction%2Ffiles%2F2014-03%2Fdocuments%2Fcwa_ag_exclusions_exemptions.pdf&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNFYv09n7PPIYQ7Xb7QphYUC8zJFTA">exempted from aspects of the Clean Water Act</a>; the industry has also pushed back against water quality regulations for runoff. There&rsquo;s a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Faglaw.osu.edu%2Fblog%2Ffri-01242014-1326%2Fohio-senate-approves-agricultural-nutrient-management-bill&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGZUgzhOTYx7EZmczbUTnJ4dMfOqg">bill pending in the Ohio legislature</a> that would require agricultural users of fertilizer to apply for a permit. It has the support of the Ohio Farm Bureau, but not the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. And even that law is not really a set of rules but a required educational program. In Illinois, a 2010 law restricting the use of phosphorus in fertilizer exempts farms and golf courses.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Copy%20of%20DSCN1775.JPG" title="Runoff into the Maumee River comes from diffuse sources: urban stormwater and sewer overflows, agricultural runoff, and private lawns and golf courses." /></div><p><strong>&lsquo;When you look at Lake Erie, it breaks your heart&rsquo;</strong></p><p>Cities like Chicago and Toledo are under federal order to reduce sewer runoff&nbsp; through extensive infrastructure upgrades, and manure runoff, which is also a contributor, is more tightly regulated than farms. The IJC report finds the need for more research and monitoring to establish clear best practices for reducing runoff from all sources, and the agriculture industry in particular has posited the need for more research as a reason to hold off stringent regulation.</p><p>&ldquo;We would never allow a dump truck full of manure to back up and dump into the lakes,&rdquo; says Lana Pollack, the U.S. chair for the IJC. She refutes the idea that there&rsquo;s not enough research to take action on the issue. &ldquo;The science is there, we understand the cause, we understand the effect, and we understand that no one should have a choice whether or not to harm Lake Erie or any of the other lakes.&rdquo;</p><p>Lake Erie is far from the only body of water that&rsquo;s been affected: smaller lakes throughout the region have seen algae blooms in recent years. Last year, the bay of Green Bay Wisconsin was literally green. And there may not be an algae bloom off Chicago&rsquo;s Navy Pier yet, but that&rsquo;s because <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fillinois.sierraclub.org%2Fconservation%2Fwater%2Fnutrients.pdf&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNH9Lknjq4XxrRhehMxjWLvrrn85Lw">most of Illinois&rsquo; runoff drains to the Gulf of Mexico</a>. In the past, that&rsquo;s helped create a dead zone there larger than the state of New Jersey. Smaller lakes and ponds throughout the midwest are susceptible to algal blooms during the summer months.</p><p>Climate change is also intensifying the algal blooms. Algae prefer warmer temperatures, and more intense rainstorms mean more intense runoff.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ijc.org%2Ffiles%2Fpublications%2F2014%2520IJC%2520LEEP%2520REPORT.pdf&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEL7GD6q-OXSzaquvJC8_DaPA47IQ">IJC report</a> recommends that Ontario, Canada and the states in the Lake Erie basin set new targets for reducing phosphorus runoff in Lake Erie. That could lead to more regulation on farms as well as septic system owners and urban water treatment systems.</p><p>&ldquo;One community shouldn&rsquo;t be able to decimate the resources that are so important to everyone,&rdquo; Pollack says. &ldquo;If you look at Lake Erie, it breaks your heart.&rdquo;</p><p>She also says there&rsquo;s no silver bullet, no single solution or single cause. There was <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fnews.discovery.com%2Fearth%2Fweather-extreme-events%2Fsnowfall-setting-records-in-major-cities-140405.htm&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGXFiLMKp6e_QuEL1trGFNCQURulg">a record amount of snow and ice this year around Toledo</a>, and it&rsquo;s all been melting, running off and bringing phosphorus with it.</p><p>Back down on the Maumee river bank, cold, clear water rushes out of a broken drainage pipe and into the river. In a couple hours, it&rsquo;ll be in Lake Erie.</p><p><em><a href="http://wyso.org/people/lewis-wallace">Lewis Wallace is a reporter for WYSO</a>, the public radio station for Dayton, Springfield and Yellow Springs, Ohio.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Front and Center is funded by the Joyce Foundation: Improving the quality of life in the Great Lakes region and across the country.</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/great-lakes-brace-more-toxic-algae-110112 GMO supporter tells food industry meeting in Chicago to stop opposing GMO labeling http://www.wbez.org/news/gmo-supporter-tells-food-industry-meeting-chicago-stop-opposing-gmo-labeling-108935 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Mark Lynas edited.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mark Lynas has a knack for dropping bombshells at normally snoozy industry conferences.</p><p>Last January at an agriculture conference, the British environmentalist and writer made international news (and outraged fellow activists) by announcing that, after years of opposing genetically modified crops, he now supported them.</p><p>And Tuesday, <a href="http://www.foodintegrity.org/document_center/download/mediaroom/lynasreleasefinal2.pdf">at a food industry meeting near O&rsquo;Hare</a>, the invited speaker, let loose with another whopper. He told the group&mdash;many from the soybean industry&mdash;<a href="http://www.foodintegrity.org/media-room/audio-video"> that they needed to support federal efforts to label GMOs (GM or GE) in the U.S.</a></p><p>Big food and agriculture groups have long battled labeling efforts, including a pending bill in Illinois and a ballot initiative scheduled for vote next month in Washington state. So Lynas, who changed his presentation late Monday night, knew the statement would ruffle feathers.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not here to tell them what they want to hear,&rdquo; Lynas told WBEZ after his speech at the Food Integrity Summit in Rosemont. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m here to challenge them and provoke them, which is why I told them today that they have to stop opposing GMO labeling. I believe people do have the right to know what&rsquo;s in their food, and they as an industry have a responsibility and a mandate to deliver on that.</p><p>&ldquo;The key issue here is transparency,&rdquo; said Lynas, who <a href="http://www.marklynas.org">posted his reasoning on his website Tuesday</a>. &ldquo;People are scared because they are not told what [food] they are in and it&rsquo;s a ridiculous situation. Because the industry hides behind the fact that these products aren&rsquo;t labeled they can&rsquo;t sell biotechnology on its real merits and its merits are real. There&rsquo;s a big reduction in pesticides and a big increase in productivity. But they can&rsquo;t make that case because they can&rsquo;t tell them that they are being used.&rdquo;</p><p>Several attendees were still digesting Lynas&rsquo; words during a coffee break after his speech.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I understand what he means about familiarity breeding acceptance, and I think it is really compelling and something I&rsquo;m going to need to think about a little bit more before I make a decision,&rdquo; said Susanne Zilberfarb of the Delaware Maryland Soybean Board. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s sort of a reversal of what agriculture and the food companies out there have been working towards and so it&rsquo;s an interesting strategy. It wasn&rsquo;t what I expected. I&rsquo;ll tell you that.&rdquo;</p><p>When asked if this would mean a complete about-face for the food and agriculture industry, Jane Ade Stevens of the Indiana Soybean Alliance said: &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know that the industry has accepted that strategy but that is what he was suggesting we might want to look at. I think everything is on the table as far as the way you look at those things.&rdquo;</p><p>Late Tuesday afternoon Tom Helscher of Monsanto, a major U.S. producer of GM seeds and complementary pesticides, said that he was not familiar enough with Lynas&rsquo; comments to respond. But he added, &ldquo;we respect that people can have different views on this topic.&rdquo;&nbsp; Helscher directed WBEZ to Monsanto&rsquo;s online statement saying, &ldquo;We oppose current initiatives to mandate labeling of ingredients developed from GM seeds in the absence of any demonstrated risk.&rdquo;</p><p>Some GMO labeling supporters seemed pleased by the development.</p><p>&ldquo;I think this goes to show that you can be pro-labeling and pro-GE,&rdquo; said Scott Faber executive director of the national Just Label It campaign which seeks federal GMO labeling. &ldquo;Labeling is not a referendum on the technology but on a consumer&rsquo;s right to know. ...The more industry fights labeling, the more they create the impression that they have something to hide. Denying consumers the right to know does more to stigmatize the technology than anything that any GE opponents could do.&rdquo;</p><p>Faber says that, although Lynas is the highest profile labeling defector in the pro-GMO ranks, he&rsquo;s not alone.</p><p>Faber says that he believes many in the pro-GMO camp &ldquo;figure that the fight against labeling is more costly than labeling. The loss of confidence, brand reputation and consumer loyalty are far more costly to the food industry than simply putting the words &lsquo;may contain GE ingredients.&rsquo; &ldquo;</p><p>He notes that the Just Label It chairman, former Stonyfield yogurt chief, Gary Hirshberg, has frequently noted that his objections to current laws are less about the technology than the right to know.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>David Gumpert, a food policy journalist and author of &ldquo;Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Food Rights,&rdquo; sees Lynas&rsquo; statement as the start of a sea change among industry labeling opponents.</p><p>&quot;GMO labeling laws have already passed in CT and VT, and came close in CA,&rdquo; Gumpert wrote in an emailed statement to WBEZ. &ldquo;Labeling has been proposed in other states, plus Whole Foods Market is committed to labeling all its products. A tidal wave is forming behind labeling and labeling opponents are beginning to see the wave and deciding they should be getting on board. I expect more large food companies (who have been nearly unanimous against labeling) will begin voluntarily labeling as more consumers express the need to be informed.&quot;</p><p>Outspoken farmer Joel Salatin, who was featured in the film &ldquo;Food Inc.&rdquo; and Michael Pollan&rsquo;s &ldquo;The Omnivore&rsquo;s Dilemma,&rdquo; opposes GMOs but also sees federal labeling as government meddling. He was skeptical of Lynas&rsquo; statement.<br /><br />&ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t surprise me,&rdquo; he said to WBEZ Tuesday, &ldquo;because these guys are sharp as can be and they are seeing that they can turn this on its head by saying go ahead and label.&rdquo;</p><p>Less than two hours after Lynas finished his presentation, Center for Food Integrity CEO Charlie Arnot took the floor to report the results of a CFI survey on what causes consumers to lose trust in their food suppliers and even sparks outrage.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;What the public told us was &lsquo;if you want us to trust you, even though you&rsquo;ve changed in size and scale, you need to be more transparent and share more information&rsquo;,&rdquo; Arnot said. &ldquo;...To me those are some good guidelines and we hope that will provide a roadmap for those in the food system to follow.&rdquo;</p><p>On the other side of the spectrum, activists were saying basically the same thing.</p><p>&ldquo;There will be growing support for labeling,&rdquo; Faber predicted. &ldquo;That is not because of concern about the technology necessarily. It is really part of a larger trend&mdash;consumers in general want to know a lot more about their food.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/meng">Monica Eng</a> is a WBEZ producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a></p></p> Wed, 16 Oct 2013 09:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gmo-supporter-tells-food-industry-meeting-chicago-stop-opposing-gmo-labeling-108935 Federal study finds many causes for dramatic bee disappearance http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-study-finds-many-causes-dramatic-bee-disappearance-107003 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Bees_130503_LW.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; A new U.S. report blames a combination of problems for a mysterious and dramatic disappearance of honeybees across the country since 2006.</p><p>The multiple causes make it harder to do something about what&#39;s called colony collapse disorder, experts say. The disorder has caused as much as one-third of the nation&#39;s bees to just disappear each winter since 2006.</p><p>Bees, especially honeybees, are needed to pollinate crops, and they are crucial to the U.S. food supply. About $30 billion a year in agriculture depends on their health, said Sonny Ramaswamy with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.</p><p>The problem has also hit bee colonies in Europe, where regulators are considering a ban on a type of pesticides that some environmental groups blame for the bee collapse.</p><p>The report, issued Thursday by the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency, is the result of a large conference of scientists that the government brought together last year to figure out what&#39;s going on.</p><p>The factors cited for the bees&#39; disappearance include a parasitic mite, multiple viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition, genetics, habitat loss and pesticides. The report said the biggest culprit is the parasitic mite varroa destructor, calling it &quot;the single most detrimental pest of honeybees.&quot;</p><p>The report also cites pesticides, but near the bottom of the list of factors. And federal officials and researchers advising them said the science doesn&#39;t justify a ban of the pesticides yet.</p><p>May Berenbaum, chairwoman of a major National Academy of Sciences study on the loss of pollinators, said the class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids hasn&#39;t been proven to be the sole culprit in the bee loss. In an interview, she said she was &quot;extremely dubious&quot; that banning the chemical would have any effect on bee health and that more than 100 different chemicals have been found in bee colonies.</p><p>Dave Gaulson of the University of Stirling in Scotland, who conducted a study last year that implicated the chemical, said he can&#39;t disagree with the overall conclusions of the U.S. government report. However, he said it could have emphasized pesticides more.</p><p>At a news conference with federal officials, Berenbaum said there&#39;s no single solution to the bee problem: &quot;We&#39;re not really well equipped or even used to fighting on multiple fronts.&quot;</p><p>Besides making honey, honeybees pollinate more than 90 flowering crops. About one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination.</p><p>&quot;It affects virtually every American whether they realize it or not,&quot; said EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe.</p><p>Zac Browning, a fourth-generation commercial beekeeper, said the nation is &quot;on the brink&quot; of not having enough bees to pollinate its crops.</p><p>University of Maryland entomologist David Inouye, president-elect of the Ecological Society of America, was not part of the federal report. He said the problems in Europe and United States may be slightly different. In the U.S., bee hives are trucked from farm to farm to pollinate large tracts of land and that may help spread the parasites and disease, as well as add stress to the colonies, while in Europe they stay put, so those issues may not be as big a factor.</p></p> Fri, 03 May 2013 15:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-study-finds-many-causes-dramatic-bee-disappearance-107003 Soil moisture back to normal, now rain hampering Illinois farmers http://www.wbez.org/news/soil-moisture-back-normal-now-rain-hampering-illinois-farmers-106697 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Moisture_130417_LW.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s sprouting time across the state and farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as soil moisture in Illinois returns to normal after a year of uncertainty. Spring of 2012 was marked by arid, warm weather that led into one of the hottest summers on record and a drought that continued through the winter. Illinois farmers&rsquo; concerns about planting conditions for the spring planting season have scarcely subsided, but the forecast is better than it has been for a long time.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now, we are pretty much seeing normal levels across the state, which is a lot better than what we were seeing at this time last year,&rdquo; said Jennie Atkins of the Illinois State Water Survey, which monitors soil moisture daily. Above-average precipitation in January and February made up for a middling fall, and stormy weather this week can&rsquo;t hurt moisture, either.</p><p>&ldquo;After last year, soil moisture is a very precious commodity in the state,&rdquo; said John Hawkins of the Illinois Farm Bureau.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s also a downside to the influx of rain. There were flood warnings and severe storms in parts of Illinois Tuesday, and now many farmers have to wait for warmer, drier weather to plant.</p><p>&ldquo;When you have a lot of rain and flood it definitely affects the larger crop productions,&rdquo; said Toni Anderson, the organizer of Sacred Keepers Sustainability Garden in Chicago&rsquo;s Bronzeville neighborhood. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t necessarily have to worry about that in the city because we need every drop we can get.&rdquo;</p><p>She says the sandy soil on Martin Luther King Avenue on Chicago&rsquo;s south side drains easily, and the garden&rsquo;s focus on native species means they can tolerate weather extremes. But given concerns about climate change, she&rsquo;s not necessarily jumping for joy about yet another swing of the weather pendulum.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s refreshing and scary all at the same time,&rdquo; Anderson said.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 17 Apr 2013 15:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/soil-moisture-back-normal-now-rain-hampering-illinois-farmers-106697 Goat and chicken lovers get together http://www.wbez.org/news/goat-and-chicken-lovers-get-together-105557 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/59748968" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"></iframe></p><p>From the street, Carolyn Ioder&rsquo;s house on the western side of the Austin neighborhood looks pretty normal. It&rsquo;s a large off-white stucco with an American flag hanging out front and a big trampoline crammed into a fenced-in backyard.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the sounds from the garage that give it away. Inside her two-car garage, Ioder keeps one car, six goats and a small coop full of chickens. The animals live here year-round, and Ioder takes the goats to pasture daily in a vacant lot down the street. She has the owner&rsquo;s permission, and she gets water for the goats from the Chicago fire station at the end of the alley.</p><p>&ldquo;Goats are such flock animals, they like to be with each other but they&rsquo;re also extremely bossy,&rdquo; said Ioder, wrangling the goats onto leashes for their daily walk to pasture.</p><p>The occasion of this visit is the first-ever Chicago Urban Livestock Expo, to take place this Saturday at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The event, sponsored by a small coalition of urban agriculture enthusiasts, features workshops on raising bees, rabbits, chickens and goats within city (or suburban) limits.</p><p>Officially, Ioder&rsquo;s goats aren&rsquo;t livestock. They&rsquo;re pets. But Ioder does keep them as a food source.</p><p>&ldquo;In my house all the pets work,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The cats take care of the mice, the dogs scares the people that aren&rsquo;t supposed to be around, and the chickens lay eggs and the goats give milk.&rdquo;</p><p>In the summertime, the goats can yield up to two gallons of milk a day, which is a lot for a single family to deal with. Ioder&rsquo;s only had them for a couple years, so she&rsquo;s struggling to get up to speed on goat cheese production. She started with just two goats, they had twins and twins again, and now she&rsquo;s dealing with a small herd. So she may also have to <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/19540560/wanted-1-goat-herder-30-goats-at-ohare-intl-airport" target="_blank">sell some off</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Not because I want to make a profit,&rdquo; she clarified. Feeding six goats every day is a big task, and her actual yard is a scarce patch of grass.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7026_018-scr.JPG" style="height: 174px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="The garage where it all happens. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p><strong>That&rsquo;s actually allowed?</strong></p><p>There are no regulations specific to goats in Chicago, except that you&rsquo;re not allowed to slaughter them. Same goes for chickens, a more popular pet that&rsquo;s already <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/owning-chickens-scratches-controversy-95624" target="_blank">banned in some Chicago suburbs</a>.</p><p>But urban agriculture experts say no one should get into city goat or chicken farming without getting educated. The backyard pen or coop can be clean and contained, but it takes some work. And they recommend checking in with the neighbors before you welcome in a new flock or herd.</p><p>&ldquo;I have met a couple people who&rsquo;ve complained about it,&rdquo; said <a href="http://urbanchickenconsultant.wordpress.com/chicken-faqs/" target="_blank">urban chicken consultant</a> Jennie Murtoff. &ldquo;I talked to a woman [...] who was adamantly opposed to chickens. She said they were noisy and they were smelly, and she was very unhappy about her neighbor having chickens. And then she told me she was a pit bull rescuer.&rdquo;</p><p>But she says if they&rsquo;re managed right, chickens should be less of a nuisance than some dogs.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re relatively quiet. If the owners keep the pens well, which doesn&rsquo;t take a whole lot of work, there won&rsquo;t be any smell. A lot of people don&rsquo;t even realize that the chickens are in the backyard,&rdquo; Murtoff said.</p><p>Plus, good housekeeping is the key to keeping the city from cracking down, which is part of what the Expo aims to educate people about. An unregulated urban farming landscape is ideal for these passionate local foodies, and they want to have a real conversation about what that takes.</p><p>&ldquo;If people are looking for a day out with the kids at a petting zoo, this probably isn&rsquo;t the place for them,&rdquo; Murtoff said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s an event for people who are seriously interested in the urban agriculture movement.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Local food systems, cute pets</strong></p><p>Murtoff stressed that getting eggs or milk from your own backyard isn&rsquo;t just a novelty. To her it&rsquo;s about having a hyperlocal source of good food, knowing where your food comes from, and maybe even saving some money.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7021_021-scr.JPG" style="height: 337px; width: 710px;" title="Carolyn Ioder's goats wonder whether microphones are edible. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" />&ldquo;Too often we think that, oh, eggs come from the supermarket,&rdquo; Murtoff said. &ldquo;And they don&rsquo;t. They come from a bird.&rdquo;</p><p>And a cool bird, too.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re just wonderful little people inside those feathered bodies,&rdquo; she added.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re working for is local community development of food systems,&rdquo; Ioder said.</p><p>By day, she runs a bread company and stays active in various groups working on issues of food security. And she&rsquo;s not the only goat farmer in town - a scattered number of Chicago and suburban residents keep pygmy goats, which are small enough to pass as terriers but still give milk. Chicken farmers in the Chicago area probably number in the hundreds.<br /><br />Ioder doesn&rsquo;t see her work as real farming, but she said it helps keep her connected to her roots.</p><p>&ldquo;We were the first generation, my husband and I, to be born off the farm,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>And she ran out to catch a goat who was wandering towards the CTA tracks on Lake street.</p><p>The first <a href="https://sites.google.com/site/chicagochickenenthusi/events/urban-livestock-expo" target="_blank">Chicago Urban Livestock Expo</a> takes place Saturday, February 16 from 10am to 1pm at the Garfield Park Conservatory.</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter</a>.</p></p> Fri, 15 Feb 2013 10:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/goat-and-chicken-lovers-get-together-105557 How to build a better ditch. No, really. http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/how-build-better-ditch-no-really-103579 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/two%20stage%20ditch%201.jpg" style="height: 298px; width: 620px; " title="A two-stage ditch built as part of the Nature Conservancy’s Wabash River initiative. (Courtesy of the Nature Conservancy)" /></div><p>Andy Ward remembers the day he drove through the Darby Creek watershed &ndash; the day that convinced him to build a better ditch.</p><p>It was the mid-&lsquo;90s, and the 560 square miles of Ohio land that feeds in the Big and Little Darby Creeks was one of the most diverse aquatic systems in the Midwest. Ward, a professor at Ohio State University&rsquo;s College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, wanted to know how he could best protect the creek and its tributaries from farm runoff and other pollution that threatened life in the waterways. In excess, chemicals like phosphorous can lead to a massive overgrowth of algae, choking off other plant and animal life in and around the Great Lakes and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.</p><p>As Ward and a colleague drove past some of the local farms, they debated the merits of buffer strips &ndash; areas of soil and vegetation meant to separate farm fields from the surrounding landscape and absorb runoff. &nbsp;&ldquo;Buffer strips were the new thing on the block at the time,&rdquo; Ward explained, and farmers were being offered financial incentives to build them.</p><p>But what did that matter, Ward wondered, if most farmers also used a series of underground drains to draw excess water away from their crops? If the drains ran under the fields they would also run right underneath the buffer strips.</p><p>&ldquo;How much value [were they] really going to provide,&rdquo; Ward asked, &ldquo;if a good portion of the flow went right underneath them?&rdquo;</p><p>The farms&rsquo; underground drains would often empty into ditches &ndash; some as big as 15 or 16 feet wide &ndash; that ran around the fields and fed into the watershed. As Ward and his colleague rounded a corner, they saw a bulldozer clearing out one such ditch, ripping out giant clumps of grass and other vegetation and mounds of sediment that had built up over time, fed by nutrients and run-off water. &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/twostageditch.jpg" style="float: left; height: 123px; width: 300px; " title="(Courtesy of the Nature Conservancy)" />&ldquo;I turned to the person I was with and asked, &lsquo;Is that a common practice in the Midwest, to totally remove everything that was in the ditch?&rsquo; &lsquo;Oh yeah that happens a lot. In fact, there are maintenance programs in which the county will come and do that.&rsquo;&quot;</p><p>Ward was shocked. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s crazy!&rdquo; he recalled telling his colleague. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re providing incentives to grow grass at the top of the ditch, yet a lot of the flow is going underneath that grass. Then we&rsquo;re paying people to rip out the grass where the water is actually ending up! It just made no sense to me,&rdquo; Ward said.</p><p>Farmers needed ditches to catch excess water and move it away from crops. But was there a way to design a more environmentally-friendly ditch?</p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t just a crazy dream. Ward and his colleagues came up with what they called a two-stage ditch. Whereas a conventional ditch is a narrow, muddy, waterslide of a tube, channeling water and all of its contents straight through to larger streams and rivers, the two-stage ditch looked like an overgrown series of large steps. Water would flow through the narrow bottom of the ditch, but a flat &ldquo;bench&rdquo; of soil above the water, planted with grass and other vegetation, would absorb water and act as a flood plain during times of heavy rain. Rather than fighting nature, Ward figured they could let nature help protect itself.</p><p>But what would the farmers and landowners think? According to the environmental advocacy group the Nature Conservancy, at $10-$12 per linear foot, two-stage ditches are vastly more expensive to build than conventional ditches, which cost only $1 to $1.50 per square foot. But two-stage ditches are expected to last a lot longer (around 30 years). The Conservancy argues that &ldquo;one option is immediate&rdquo; while &ldquo;the other is permanent.&rdquo;</p><p>In 2007 the Joyce Foundation (which also supports editorial initiatives at WBEZ) gave $5 million in grants to the Nature Conservancy and three other groups to, in part, help build two-stage ditches in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio around the Wabash River watershed. And Kevin Willibey, a farmer who owns land near Ohio&rsquo;s Fish Creek, built two-stage ditches on his property after seeing a pitch from Ward and his colleagues.</p><p>Willibey&rsquo;s testimonial is included in <a href="http://vimeo.com/7901535">a short film</a> produced by the Nature Conservancy. Hear him explain why he feels good about the switch in the audio below:</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F65577993&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Andy Ward spoke at an event presented by the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum earlier this month. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/amplified/two-stage-ditches-helping-nature-clean-farm-runoff-99970">here</a></em>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 03 Nov 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/how-build-better-ditch-no-really-103579 Farm Sanctuary's Gene Baur on conditions of factory farm animals and veganism http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-04-09/segment/farm-sanctuarys-gene-baur-conditions-factory-farm-animals-and-veganism <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP081222128555.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There are around 10 billion farm animals in the U.S., and the vast majority of them are chickens.&nbsp; Gene Baur devotes his life to improving the situation for these billions of farm animals. He’s president and co-founder of <a href="http://www.farmsanctuary.org/" target="_blank">Farm Sanctuary</a>, the country’s largest farm animal advocacy and protection organization. He discusses his book, <em>Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food</em>.</p></p> Mon, 09 Apr 2012 13:09:14 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-04-09/segment/farm-sanctuarys-gene-baur-conditions-factory-farm-animals-and-veganism