"A blue-ribbon panel of scientific and technology advisers to President Obama warns that the nation risks losing its longstanding supremacy in food production because research in agriculture has not kept up with new challenges like climate change, depleted land and water resources and emerging pests, pathogens and invasive plants."
"SEVERANCE, Colo. -- Since he was a boy in western Colorado, John Bartmann seemed destined to become a sheep man. He raised lambs with the local 4-H club and sheared them for elderly German farmers. His office is lined with paintings of sheep and a plaque honoring him for 'promoting culinary excellence' in lambs. But over the last few years, skyrocketing costs, a brutal drought and plunging lamb prices have battered Mr. Bartmann and the 80,000 ranchers across the county who raise sheep -- from a few to several thousand."
"The Kansas City Star, in a yearlong investigation, found that the beef industry is increasingly relying on a mechanical process to tenderize meat, exposing Americans to higher risk of E. coli poisoning. The industry then resists labeling such products, leaving consumers in the dark. The result: Beef in America is plentiful and affordable, spun out in enormous quantities at high speeds, but it's a bonanza with hidden dangers. Industry officials contend beef is safer than it's ever been."
"Drought continued to expand through the central United States even as winter weather sets in, wreaking havoc on the nation's new wheat crop and on movement of key commodities as major shipping waterways grow shallow."
"You've heard of peak oil—the idea that the globe's easy-to-get-to petroleum reserves are largely cashed, and most of what's left is the hard stuff, buried in deep-sea deposits or tar sands. But what about peak phosphorus and potassium? ...These nutrients, which are essential for plants to grow, are extracted from soil every time we harvest crops, and have to be replaced if farmland is to remain productive."
Cornfields -- which occupy a big fraction of U.S. farmland -- differ from normal ecosystems in that they are nearly sterile ecologically. Breeding and spraying aim to prevent anything from living but corn.
"We'll start in a cornfield — we'll call it an Iowa cornfield in late summer — on a beautiful day. The corn is high. The air is shimmering. There's just one thing missing — and it's a big thing...
...a very big thing, but I won't tell you what, not yet.
"YADKINVILLE -- Google, of all companies, last year got into the business of hog poop."
"In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying. While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking, or fracking, operations are poisoning animals through the air, water or soil."
"The U.S. government's proposal to use the canal to deliver water to Mexico doesn't sit well with farmers and officials in the Imperial Valley."