Stories About Agriculture

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USDA Invests $63M to Support Renewables and Energy Efficiency
USDA Invests $63M to Support Renewables and Energy Efficiency

CLEANTECH - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday announced $63 million in loans and grants for 264 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide that USDA is supporting through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass, small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.

Startup Develops Solar-Powered ‘Smart’ Garden Watering System
Startup Develops Solar-Powered ‘Smart’ Garden Watering System

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - Agriculture consumes close to 70 percent of water demand, but a significant 10 percent goes to domestic applications, such as maintaining lawns and other landscaping.Arguably, the best and most sustainable course of action is to let your lawn die and plant indigenous landscapes but, realistically, not everyone is going to do that. The next-best thing, however, would be to find a way to maintain non-native landscaping using as little water as possible.A company called Blue Marble hopes to help people do just that by leveraging Internet of Things technology to conserve water during domestic irrigation.

Study: Almond Industry on Its Way to Carbon Neutrality Through Byproduct Reuse, Irrigation Management
Study: Almond Industry on Its Way to Carbon Neutrality Through Byproduct Reuse, Irrigation Management

WASTE NOT - A new study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology highlights the progress of the notoriously water-consumptive almond industry in becoming carbon-emission neutral or even carbon negative. The research, undertaken by UC Davis scientists, highlights the carbon capture potential of almond orchards and concludes that reusing byproducts from almond production and harvest is critical to the industry’s environmental impact and emissions reduction.

To Till or Not to Till, That Is the Agri-Question
To Till or Not to Till, That Is the Agri-Question

SUPPLY CHAIN - Farmers have tilled the soil - turning it as preparation for planting - for millennia. But that legacy is under scrutiny today as “soil health” has entered the vernacular – at least amongst people aware of prevailing agri-trends such as those recently discussed in the New York Times.

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To Infinity and Beyond: How Levi's Is Embracing the Circular Economy
To Infinity and Beyond: How Levi's Is Embracing the Circular Economy

THE NEXT ECONOMY - At Levi Strauss & Co., our sustainability thinking has traditionally begun at the cotton stage of the product life cycle. The cotton is picked, ginned, spun, and woven into fabric. The fabric is cut, sewn, and finished into a pair of jeans before being sent to a distribution center, then on to your favorite store where the jeans are sold to you.

Ethiopian Gene Bank Preserving Agricultural Biodiversity
Ethiopian Gene Bank Preserving Agricultural Biodiversity

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - The Third International Conference on Financing for Development was held in Ethiopia this week, gathering top government officials to discuss initial implementation plans for the UN’s post-2015 development agenda.

Dow Implementing Sustainable Ag in Brazil as Part of Carbon-Mitigation Program for Rio 2016 Olympics
Dow Implementing Sustainable Ag in Brazil as Part of Carbon-Mitigation Program for Rio 2016 Olympics

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - The Dow Chemical Company, the “Official Chemistry Company” of the Olympic Games and Official Carbon Partner of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, announced Tuesday that Dow AgroSciences Brazil is working with Brazilian farmers from the state of Mato Grosso to implement more sustainable agricultural practices that will generate climate benefits for the mitigation of Rio 2016’s direct carbon footprint.

THRIVE Farmers, Second-Fastest Growing Company in Georgia, Cites Sustainability as Key to Rapid Growth
THRIVE Farmers, Second-Fastest Growing Company in Georgia, Cites Sustainability as Key to Rapid Growth

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - Mission-driven coffee startup THRIVE Farmers was recently recognized as the second-fastest growing company in Georgia by The Association for Corporate Growth in Atlanta.

General Mills Commits to 100% Cage-Free Eggs in the U.S.
General Mills Commits to 100% Cage-Free Eggs in the U.S.

SUPPLY CHAIN - General Mills announced a major move toward cage-free eggs this week as part of an updated animal welfare policy that now extends throughout its global supply chain.The Minnesota-based food giant committed itself to 100 percent cage-free eggs for its U.S. operations, a move several other large companies also have taken recently. The company did not set a deadline but said it will work with its suppliers to determine a "reasonable timeline," given the disruption that bird flu has caused to the U.S. egg supply.

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London’s First Subterranean Farm Bringing Its Sustainable Produce to Market
London’s First Subterranean Farm Bringing Its Sustainable Produce to Market

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - London’s first subterranean farm will begin selling produce to its first commercial client later this month, marking a breakthrough for the city’s urban farming.

BASF Convenes Scientists, Leaders at Symposium to Discuss Sustainable Food Solutions
BASF Convenes Scientists, Leaders at Symposium to Discuss Sustainable Food Solutions

LEADERSHIP - On Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago, BASF is hosting a Science Symposium, gathering academics and thought leaders from a variety of disciplines to discuss the challenge of sustaining global food production.The event, “Sustainable Food Chain – From Field to Table,” is part of BASF’s yearlong program to celebrate its 150th anniversary, during which it will collaborate with multiple stakeholders to “co-create” solutions to global issues including smart energy, food and urban living.

Report: Biobased Products Industry Adds $369B, 4 Million Jobs to US Economy
Report: Biobased Products Industry Adds $369B, 4 Million Jobs to US Economy

CHEMISTRY, MATERIALS & PACKAGING - A new report suggests the U.S. biobased products industry has a notable impact on the nation’s economy. It is the first research effort to quantify the effect of this industry from an economics and jobs perspective, according to U.S. Agricultural Secretary, Tom Vilsack.“Before, we could only speculate at the incredible economic impact of the biobased products industry. Now, we know that in 2013 alone, America’s biobased industry contributed four million jobs and $369 billion to our economy,” Vilsack said.

BASF, Cargill Partnership Helping Filipino Farmers Achieve Sustainable Coconut Oil
BASF, Cargill Partnership Helping Filipino Farmers Achieve Sustainable Coconut Oil

CHEMISTRY, MATERIALS & PACKAGING - For more than three years, BASF, Cargill and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH have worked together to promote sustainable coconut oil and improve the living conditions of coconut farmers in the Philippines. This week they’ve announced the establishment of the world’s first certified production of copra, the dried coconut flesh needed to process coconut oil. The project on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao is partly financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) under the develoPPP.de programme.

Top Mexican Companies Will Abstain from Fishing Pacific Bluefin Tuna Until 2020
Top Mexican Companies Will Abstain from Fishing Pacific Bluefin Tuna Until 2020

BEHAVIOR CHANGE - Member companies of the Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna, representing 93 percent of tuna production in Mexico, have announced they will refrain from fishing Pacific Bluefin tuna until 2020.

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Conflict Palm Oil Progress Report Calls Out Major Snack Food Brands for Lagging on Commitments
Conflict Palm Oil Progress Report Calls Out Major Snack Food Brands for Lagging on Commitments

SUPPLY CHAIN - Today, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) released a new progress report, titled Testing Commitments to Cut Conflict Palm Oil, ranking the relative strength of palm oil commitments made since the launch of its Snack Food 20 campaign two years ago. The 2015 progress report shines a spotlight on the laggards in the Snack Food 20 and outlines the actions that these companies — as well as the frontrunners who are pushing ahead on their commitments — can and must take to rapidly cut Conflict Palm Oil from our food system.

Field to Market, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Harmonizing Metrics for Dairy Feed Sustainability
Field to Market, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Harmonizing Metrics for Dairy Feed Sustainability

COLLABORATION - Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced a new partnership this week that seeks to harmonize on-farm sustainability metrics and drive greater collaboration between the two organizations. The collaboration will benefit crop producers, dairy farmers and the entire agricultural supply chain by creating a more consistent approach for measuring and advancing continuous improvement in the sustainability of dairy feed production.

Practical, Affordable Solutions for BOP, Closing Loops Rule Sustainia's Top 100 Solutions for 2015
Practical, Affordable Solutions for BOP, Closing Loops Rule Sustainia's Top 100 Solutions for 2015

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - Each year, Scandinavian think tank Sustainia highlights leading-edge sustainability solutions, technologies and practices from around the globe in its Sustainia100. Published today, this year’s list, which highlights standouts from more than 151 countries, points to a new development: sustainability alternatives are increasingly becoming the affordable and convenient choice.

How Timberland Partnered with Smallholder Farmers to Scale Sustainable Development in Haiti
How Timberland Partnered with Smallholder Farmers to Scale Sustainable Development in Haiti

ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE - On Wednesday, over an intimate, invite-only lunch at SB ’15 San Diego, Timberland and the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) screened the trailer for their documentary, KOMBIT: The Cooperative, scheduled for release in October 2015.KOMBIT means “pulling together” in Haitian Creole. Timberland says this is the perfect description of the partnership among local Haitians, as well as its work with them and SFA to rebuild the island nation’s environmental and economic landscape through small-scale farming.

Timberland and Smallholder Farmers Alliance: A Model for Driving Economic and Environmental Progress in Haiti
Timberland and Smallholder Farmers Alliance: A Model for Driving Economic and Environmental Progress in Haiti

PRESS RELEASE - With an estimated 1.5 percent tree cover remaining, Haiti is one of the most severely deforested countries in the world. In January 2010, an earthquake devastated the people of Haiti and illuminated the ongoing degradation of the country’s natural environment. While short-term relief efforts were essential, sustainable changes to restore tree cover and agricultural production remain critical for the future of Haiti. The Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) is the culmination of a $1 million, five-year, innovative public/private partnership led by Timberland, delivering a long-term solution that empowers Haitians to play an active role in spurring economic development, improving agricultural practices, and supporting reforestation and environmental restoration.

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Sustainable Design, Consumer Behavior Change Key to Moving Away from Wood-Based Paper, Packaging
Sustainable Design, Consumer Behavior Change Key to Moving Away from Wood-Based Paper, Packaging

CHEMISTRY, MATERIALS & PACKAGING - Jeff Mendelsohn, moderator and founder of New Leaf Paper, opened up Tuesday’s SB ‘15 San Diego panel about the use of non-wood fiber with two questions that — from a consumer’s perspective — are questions we all should embrace and act on, now:

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