Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Bluebird Meadow Farms Recommends

Although Andy at Bluebird Meadow Farms personally blogs, he's the first to admit that he doesn't "spend a LOT of time reading other farming blogs. Between our fulltime jobs and the work on "the farm" - I'm luck to get ours posted to."


That said he does have some recommendations and there are some small farm blogs that he turns, to especially when he's looking for information about a subject.





Ones he peaks at, in no particualr order, when not pressed for time?





Tiny Farm Blog - Organic micro-farming with two acres and some tools ~ a daily photo journal...





Blue Line Farm - Blue Line Farm itself is a 20 acre one-time horse farm in SW Michigan. Currently, the farm is about 15 acres of woods and 5 acres cleared



The Deliberate Agrarian One Man's Ruminations About Faith, Family, and Livin' The Good Life












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Bluebird Meadow Farms (NY; 35 acres; poultry, vegetables, berries)


"Welcome to Bluebird Meadow Farms - a taste of our country life and journey towards the dream of sustainability on our farm."


Thanks to Andy for writing to me with some more info about his farm and blog, Bluebird Meadow Farms in Upstate NY, U.S.A. outside of Rochester. Some good practical stuff on this blog which I learnt from, especially regarding chicken processing. (The picture below is the set up for big day for the chickens.)



"We have 35 acres, a house and a barn. Currently our work with livestock is limited to the seasonal production of broiler chickens (this first year was experimental - next year we are selling a bunch) - we will also likely be adding just a few layer chickens next year for primaraly personal production.
We farm about an acre - have all anual crops you would expect - plus we are starting on blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, asparagaus, rhubarb and other perannual crops as they come up."





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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Farm Blogs going off-line for 1 week but please read this.

I'm going away for a few days, and won't be blogging or checking email until next Monday.

However, while I am away, can I please ask you to read this request and please try to find the time to act on it?

Farm Blogs from Around the world relies on bloggers who have been recommended by other bloggers to send me their recommendations of their favourite farm blogs.

In this way, the blog roll grows organically; the idea is that the good blogs lead us all to the great ones.

Nearly all the bloggers on Farm Blogs From Around the World have been recommended to me by other bloggers. I then contact these bloggers, ask them for some more information about their own agricultural holding (at a minimum their location, acreage, and what food and fibre they raise), some text about their blog and permission to use up to 5 photos from their blog so that I can make a posting about a new recommended blogger.

I also ask them to send me up to 5 of their favourite recommended blogs (name, with url and brief description of each), who I then add to the blog roll and then contact, asking them for the above.

If you are listed on Farm Blogs from Around the World, it is probably because someone has recommended you.

IF YOU HAVEN'T SENT ME ANY INFO ABOUT YOURSELF OR YOUR OWN RECOMMENDATIONS I WOULD VERY MUCH APPRECIATE YOU GETTING IN TOUCH WITH ME AT INFO AT IANWALTHEW.COM

(NB: All bloggers who have made recommendations are marked 'Recommender')

IF YOU AREN'T LISTED ON FARM BLOGS BUT WOULD LIKE TO BE, PLEASE ALSO CONTACT ME WITH INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR BLOG AND YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS, WHICH I'LL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO CHECK OUT.

IF YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS BUT WOULD LIKE TO MAKE SOME MORE, AGAIN, PLEASE CONTACT ME AT INFO AT IANWALTHEW.COM

Many thanks for taking the time to read this and I look forward to hearing from you and getting back to you next week.

P.S. Back in August, I somehow managed to permanently delete my Farm Blogs 'To Reply To' folder in Outlook Express. So, I am afraid that I have lost many of your recent emails, specifically any sent to me between 15th August 2008 and 26th August 2008.

Obviously I am annoyed at my stupidity, but also apologetic for all those people who took the time to write to me at what is, for most people, a busy time of year.If you see this post, and did write to me between the above dates, I can only apologise, and ask you to re-send your email to me.





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Kelly the Kitchen Cop on Milk

Kelly the Kitchen Cop wrote to me, asking if I might be interested in reading (and sharing?) a post in which she shares her notes from a talk given by a local farmer.

Given my love of raw milk, and what is going on in China right now, indeed I am, so here it is:

Milk comes from cows, not beans

Just a word on Kelly the Kitchen Cop:

"Need some new and healthy recipe ideas, along with plenty of Health & Nutrition information? Go to www.kellythekitchenkop.com"





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EU agency to check health risk of China milk powder (IHT)



ANNECY, France: Europe's top food safety agency will issue a scientific opinion this week on whether processed items containing milk products coming from China pose a risk to human health, the agency's chief said on Monday.
Speaking on the margins of an informal meeting of EU agriculture ministers in France, the executive director of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said the opinion was likely to be issued on Wednesday or Thursday.
EFSA's opinion had been requested by the European Commission, the EU's executive arm responsible for monitoring food safety and implementation of EU food standards across the bloc's 27 member countries, Catherine Geslain-Laneelle said.
"The Commission would like to know, in case you find melamine in this type of product, would there be a risk for human health," she told Reuters.
"There are so many ingredients that are imported and then used in complex products."
China's top quality regulator has resigned over the scandal, which has found milk powder contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, used in making plastics.
Four deaths have been blamed on the toxic milk powder, which causes kidney stones and agonising complications, and a string of Asian countries have banned or recalled Chinese milk products. Thousands of Chinese infants are also sick in hospital after drinking tainted milk formula.
While the European Union does not import milk or milk products from China, Commission experts are keen to make absolutely sure that nothing enters EU markets as an ingredient or as part of a processed product that might pose a health risk.
"There's no question of having milk products from China in the European Union ... but in case they (Chinese) have used milk for the production of biscuits, for example," EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou told reporters.
"My suspicion is that they use melamine to give the impression of high protein in the milk. It's not a coincidence that people are being criminally prosecuted in China," she said.
Melamine is rich in nitrogen, and relatively cheap. Adding it to milk makes watered-down milk's protein level appear higher. Standard quality tests estimate protein levels by measuring nitrogen content.





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Nearly 13,000 in hospital in China milk scandal (IHT)

BEIJING: The number of Chinese infants sick in hospital after drinking tainted milk formula doubled to nearly 13,000 and the country's top quality regulator resigned on Monday in the latest blight on the "made-in-China" brand.
Four deaths have been blamed on the toxic milk powder, which causes kidney stones and agonising complications, and a string of Asian countries have banned or recalled Chinese milk products.
The official Xinhua news agency said in a brief statement that the country's quality chief, Li Changjiang, had quit in light of the case. "Li was the highest ranking official brought down so far by the dairy product contamination scandal," it said.
The Communist Party chief of Shijiazhuang, home to the Sanlu Group which made the tainted milk powder, has also been fired, Xinhua said, the latest official to loose their job for mishandling the incident.
The Health Ministry said the number of children hospitalised due to the milk powder contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine rose from a previously announced total of 6,244 -- which included many who had left hospital -- to 12,892, including 104 who were in a serious condition.
More than 1,500 had already left hospital and nearly 40,000 with milder symptoms "received clinical treatment and advice" before going home. The ministry did not explain the sharp rise.
The jump to more than 54,000 affected children was announced late on Sunday, escalating a scandal that has again shaken trust in Chinese products after last year's scares over toxic and shoddy goods from toothpaste and drugs to pet food and toys.
Melamine, used in making plastics, has also been found in cartons of milk and some dairy exports, but no illnesses from those sources have been reported.
Medical experts said on Monday that, as well as causing kidney stones, melamine could potentially cause far more serious complications by crystallising and then blocking tiny tubes in the kidneys.
DEEPER FAILINGS
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited hospitals in the national capital in a bid to reassure an anxious public. But he also said the outbreak of poisonings exposed deeper failings.
"Although the ordinary people are very understanding, as the government we feel very guilty," he said, according to Xinhua. "This event is a warning for all food safety."
He also vowed stiff penalties if the problem re-emerges. "If there are fresh problems, they must be even more sternly punished under the law," Wen said.
China's food quality watchdog has said it found melamine in nearly 10 percent of milk and drinking yoghurt samples from three major dairy companies: Mengniu Dairy Co, the Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group and the Bright group.
Nitrogen-rich melamine can be added to watered-down milk to fool quality checks, which often use nitrogen levels to measure the amount of protein in milk.
Past product safety scandals have exposed corruption, influence-peddling and lumbering, feuding bureaucracies overwhelmed by fragmented, cost-cutting producers. The milk scandal has shown a government campaign did not end those woes.
China's dairy producers faced a "crisis of confidence" that would need strong official steps to cure, said Lao Bing, manager of a Shanghai-based dairy investment company.
"Consumers will start rebuying in a month or two if they feel sure the government is undertaking a vigorous clean-up," he said. "Exports will take longer. This will have a major impact."
JUMPY EXPORT MARKETS, PANICKED PARENTS
Japan's Marudai Food Co. withdrew buns made with milk supplied by Yili. A spokesman for Japan's Nissin said that group had also recalled products with Chinese dairy ingredients.
The Japanese government has asked 90,000 companies to check if imports have been contaminated with melamine.
Other markets that have banned or recalled Chinese milk products include Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Taiwan banned all mainland dairy products from Sunday.
Dutch dairy group Friesland Foods removed three types of milk products from shelves in Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau as a precaution, a spokesman told the ANP news agency.
The products were made by a Chinese company in which Friesland Foods holds a minority stake. Friesland Foods said less than 1 percent of its products were affected.
Even White Rabbit Creamy Candy, a popular Chinese brand of milk sweet, was contaminated with melamine, Singapore has warned.
At the weekend, a three-year-old Hong Kong girl was found to have a kidney stone after drinking a milk product tainted by melamine, making her the territory's first suspected victim.
But the biggest worry remains in China.
Sanlu, the nation's biggest maker of infant milk powder, knew about the problem but did not disclose it publicly for at least a month throughout August, when Beijing hosted the Olympics, officials have said.
The revelation brought a surge of panicky parents and children to hospitals, and the government has promised free treatment for stricken children. But some parents said they worried about costs and long-term complications.
Zhou Zhijun, from south China's Hunan province, said she took her wailing, increasingly thin daughter to hospitals at least three times from June to late August before doctors diagnosed a kidney stone.
"All those visits and checks cost 20,000 yuan (1,600 pounds), and I still don't know who will pay for that," she said, adding that her 15-month-old baby had drunk Sanlu milk powder. "Also what if there are complications and problems later? Who'll pay for that?"
The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture said despairing farmers were dumping milk and killing cattle after companies stopped buying their supplies. It promised subsidies to help farmers.

http://www.iht.com/articles/reuters/2008/09/22/asia/OUKWD-UK-CHINA-MILK.php



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Monday, 22 September 2008

Mariann Fischer Boel Blog Entry (September 15, 2008)











I have returned from the summer holidays reinvigorated.
There’s nothing quite like helping with the harvest to blow away the cobwebs gathered during ten long days of negotiation in Geneva. Following all the headlines we’ve seen about high food prices, I’m delighted to see that this year’s cereals harvest is estimated to be around 307 million tonnes, up by around 50 million tonnes from last year.
Our rapid decision to abolish set-aside has played a major role in boosting output after two poor years. When needs must, we can be as flexible as anyone!
The weather this year was far from special, but at least we didn’t suffer the terrible climatic conditions which wreaked havoc the previous two years.
That’s not too say we didn’t have our fair share of grey skies and even rain.
So it was an even bigger pleasure to fly off in early September to Mauritius to have a look at their sugar industry and see how they are adjusting to the EU’s sugar market reforms.
I must say that I went there with a certain amount of anxiety. I was half expecting to be pursued by mobs of angry sugar growers! Fortunately, I can assure Sunghoon (
see last entry) that the reception I got was extremely warm. Life is far from easy for the Mauritians, but most people I met accepted that there was no alternative to our reforms.
The months ahead promise to be no less intense than what has gone before and I am looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and getting into the nitty-gritty of the Health Check negotiations. We also have the informal ministeral meeting in beautiful Annecy to look forward to, which aims to look even further ahead to the CAP after 2013.
But first things first. The
Health Check is priority number one for me at the moment. It can make improvements to our policy now, for the benefit of all.

In the meantime, people have returned to the normal routines of work and school term. I’m very pleased to say that the relaunched EU school milk programme began with the new school term.
This has been redesigned to extend it to older children, to improve the range of products on offer and to get rid of the anomaly that saw fattier milk receiving a higher subsidy.
I think giving kids good eating habits at an early age is vital.
Today’s obese youngsters are the sick adults of tomorrow.
We don’t all need to be fit enough to bring in the harvest, but everyone deserves good health.







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Mariann Fischer Boel,Keeping our maps up to date: trade and trade rules in a changing world


Mariann Fischer Boel

Member of the European Commission responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development


Keeping our maps up to date: trade and trade rules in a changing world


Speech at the University of StellenboschSouth Africa, 8 September 2008









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New rules on pesticide residues to strengthen food safety in the European Union (EU Commission)


The European Commission made today [Brussels, 1 September 2008] an important step forward in its efforts to ensure food safety in the European Union, as a regulation revising and simplifying the rules pertaining to pesticide residues entered into force. The new rules set harmonised Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for pesticides. They ensure food safety for all consumers and allow traders and importers to do business smoothly as confusion over dealing with 27 lists of national MRLs is eliminated. With the previous regime, different MRLs could apply to the same pesticide for the same crop in different Member States, a situation which gave rise to questions from consumers, farmers and traders. Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 is the result of a considerable joint effort by the Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Member States.




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Sunday, 21 September 2008

Sugar on Snow Recommends



Sugar on Snow is a general resource site in Vermont, U.S.A, which is all about "Finding and Preparing Vermont’s Local Foods".

Meredith has recommended some fantastic general resource sites (which I have added under general resources) and one other Vermont farm blog:


Local Harvest
USA
"Real Food, Real Farmers, Real Community."
A general resource helping people in the U.S.A to find the best organic food grown closest to you.

Cheese Slave
USA
"For the love of cheese. And bacon. And butter. And raw milk. And all those other things we're not supposed to eat."
Another fun food general resource blog.

Ethicurean
"Chew the Right Thing"
A ethicurean is "Someone who seeks out tasty things that are also sustainable, organic, local, and/or ethical - SOLE food, for short."
Based in the U.S.A but with worldwide correspondents.

Clear Brook Farm , Vermont, U.S.A.

*****************************************************************

N.B
If you are listed on Farm Blogs from Around the World have you sent me your best farm blog Recommendations?











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China orders tainted milk products off shelves (IHT)

BEIJING: China's leaders scrambled Saturday to contain public dismay over widespread contamination of milk supplies, castigating local officials for negligence while moving to tamp down criticism of the government's response.
Officials promised to keep stores supplied with clean milk and set up medical hot lines nationwide to help people cope with one of the worst product safety scandals in years.
Milk and dairy products from 22 companies have been recalled after batches tainted with the industrial chemical melamine sickened more than 6,200 children and left four infants dead from kidney failure.
"This has caused a very widespread scare in Chinese society, and there's a great deal of mistrust," said Jing Jun, a sociologist at Tsinghua University in Beijing. "People see this as a failure of the government. The companies here were not thoroughly inspected."
Trying to shore up public confidence, Premier Wen Jiabao told senior Communist Party members that official misconduct contributed to the milk contamination and earlier product scandals. He demanded they put public safety "at the top of the agenda."
"In some places, incidents of food and production safety have continuously arisen and seriously harmed people's lives and health," Wen said in remarks carried on state-run television. "The social impact is vile and the lesson profound."
In a show of concern, Wen's chief deputy made a highly publicized trip to a dairy region south of Beijing at the center of the scandal, visiting farms, shops and a hospital, where he urged "all-out efforts on medical treatment" for the sick.
The energetic response underscored the deep challenge the crisis poses for the communist leadership. The government has staked its legitimacy in part on competent management of a rapidly developing society, a reputation it hoped would be burnished by last month's lavish, well-run Beijing Olympics.
But the post-Olympic accolades have been pushed aside, and the scandal is again baring widespread public skepticism about the government's abilities to get lower level officials to enforce policies and over cover-ups of problems.
Recalls of Chinese-made dairy products widened Saturday to Japan, which followed the lead of Singapore, while more products were recalled in the self-governing Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau. Starbucks stopped offering milk in its 300 outlets in China.
In the 10 days since the government revealed that Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co. sold tainted milk powder and infant formula, sketchy details have exposed one local government cover-up as well as the sale of contaminated milk by China's biggest dairies, many of them state-owned.
"Since this Sanlu incident arose, many people have a suspicion (naturally it's an old suspicion): If we can successfully hold a highly complex Olympics, how can we not even manage the quality of milk?" Mo Zhixu, a liberal-minded author, wrote in his online journal.
Seeking to rein in criticism, propaganda officials ordered newspapers, TV stations and Web sites to mainly use reports from the government's official Xinhua News Agency, news employees at two publications reported.
An editor said the government is allowing expressions of outrage at the milk scandal, but prohibited accusations that such problems might be systemic. The editor, and a reporter at the second publication, asked not to be identified for fear of retribution from authorities.
One Web log post later deleted from several Internet sites purported to be from the daughter of the recently fired chairwoman of the Sanlu dairy.
The blogger, identified as Wu Qing, said her mother informed Shijiazhuang city officials in early August about the melamine-tainted milk powder only to be rebuffed because the Olympics and the city's stop on the torch relay loomed.
"The government's words said 'first guarantee the sacred torch relay and the rest can be put off until later,'" the post said.
Food and product safety scandals have been a feature of Chinese life. Only last year, the government promised to overhaul inspection procedures after exports of medicines, toys, pet food and other products killed and sickened people and pets in North and South America.
The chemical in the dangerous pet food was the same as in the milk scandal — melamine.
Used in making plastics, melamine is high in nitrogen, which registers as protein in tests of milk. Though health experts believe ingesting minute amounts poses no danger, melamine can cause kidney stones, which can lead to kidney failure. Infants are particularly vulnerable.
Some of the farmers who sell milk to Chinese food companies are thought to have used melamine to disguise watered-down milk and fatten profit margins thinned by rising costs for feed, fuel and labor.
Many of the largest companies whose products have been recalled, like Yili Industrial Group Co. and Mengniu Dairy Group Co., did not have government inspections before the problem became public. The government scrapped that exemption this past week.
"This is not just a single event. It's because of a number of companies and inspectors. This is where the seriousness arises," said Jing, the sociologist. "In the U.S., you have problems too, but that's different. The government system has failed."

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/09/20/asia/AS-China-Baby-Formula-Recall.php




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Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Future Cow-calf Producer (Alberta, Canada; General Resource)




The Future Cow-calf Producer was recommended to Farm Blogs by Scott, at Cedar Cove Farm.


It's an unusual blog, and if you are a cow lover, definetely one to visit regularly.


Written by a a 4th year undergraduate with a major in Animal Science, currently attending university at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, it's is all about beef cattle, from cow-calf to feedlot, facts and information that comes with knowing how to raise cattle economically and practically, as well as the general cattle industry.


The Future Cow-calf Producer wrote to me and explained more about her background, her plans for the future and her blog.


"I was born and raised on a mixed farm near Barrhead, Alberta, Canada. We have two quarter sections (~160 acres each) owned and operated by a family-run farm business for mostly hay (alfalfa-brome-timothy hay) and barley for grain and silage, with a little canola. We also have half of a quarter fenced off for pasture and drylot for backgrounding stocker steers.

I have been thinking and planning in the past year or so to turn our stocker operation into commercial cow-calf in the future, thus the blog I created.

I even share personal experiences with cattle from time to time, whether it be working at the vet clinic or going on a field trip for school."









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Sugar on Snow (VT, USA; General resource blog)


The blog Sugar on Snow was recommended by Mary Barrosse Schwartz from Bosky Dell Farm in Vermont.

Meredith was kind enough to drop me a brief line about it along with her own farm blog recommendations which I will post on shortly.

"It's dedicated to celebrating the state of Vermont's local and wild foods. I do not work on or operate a farm, but I do write about farms, farmers and farming on my blog."






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Minister resigns over Japanese rice scandal (IHT)

TOKYO: Japan's agriculture minister resigned Friday in a widening scandal over rice contaminated with mold and pesticide that was sold as food for thousands of people, including schoolchildren and nursing home patients.
Agriculture Minister Seiichi Ota's departure only seven weeks after he took office was a further embarrassment to the teetering government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who announced recently his own resignation amid a parliamentary stalemate.
"I met with Prime Minister Fukuda and told him my decision to resign, considering the seriousness of the tainted rice problem for society," Ota said. The chief cabinet secretary, Nobutaka Machimura, would take over as the interim farm minister, the government said.
Japanese consumers have been horrified in recent weeks over the discovery that contaminated rice intended for industrial uses such as the manufacture of glue had been distributed instead as food to thousands of people.
The rice, imported from China, Vietnam and the United States, was shipped to food companies, schools, day care centers and nursing homes, the government said. News reports said it was also discovered in rice balls sold at convenience stores.
"We deeply regret causing worries over food safety," Machimura told a news conference. "We recognize that this is a very serious situation."
The rice was tainted with the pesticide methamidophos at concentrations that exceeded government regulations, but were too low to threaten anyone's health, officials say. There have been no reports of anyone getting sick from the rice.
The discovery is the latest in a string of food scandals including the false labeling of meat, vegetables and sweets, and Chinese-made dumplings that sickened at least 10 people in Japan.
Ota's resignation comes just days before the governing Liberal Democratic Party's election Monday to choose a new prime minister. The winner is expected to be elected by Parliament to succeed Fukuda two days later.
Japan's top opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, said the resignation was an attempt by the ruling party to halt damage from the scandal before calling parliamentary elections, possibly later this year.
The rice scandal has been particularly damaging in Japan, where consumers are notoriously finicky about food safety. One distributor apparently involved in the sales reportedly committed suicide this past week.
The government so far has tracked down a rice trader in Osaka, western Japan, who shipped the tainted rice to about 370 food companies, including liquor and sweets makers.
But local reports have said that several chemical companies, including a glue maker, also shipped tainted rice as food, and an Agriculture Ministry official said Friday that the government had yet to "grasp the full scope" of the rice scandal.
The Agriculture Ministry has been rocked repeatedly by scandals in recent years, starting when then-farm minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka committed suicide in May 2007.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/09/19/asia/japan.php





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A vineyard steeped in social values (IHT)

José Rallo in her vineyards at the Donnafugata winery,
where she mixes social and environmental responsibility.
(Lidia Costantini/Donnafugata)


MILAN: When asked whether she had a lot in common with Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, the multitasking Republican vice presidential candidate in the United States, José Rallo laughed heartily.
"I think most women multitask," said Rallo, 43, a principal at the Donnafugata winery in Sicily. "And it isn't easy."
At the family-run winery, which had sales of €16.7 million or $24 million, last year from more than a dozen varieties of rich, full-bodied Silician wine, Rallo helps run things and supervises the marketing and public relations teams. That's when she's not raising her two children, ages 9 and 12, with her husband, an insurance executive; fronting a jazz ensemble that promotes her wines; or sitting on the board of Banco Sicilia, one of two women ever to do so.
"The problem for a woman is organizing time," Rallo said. In the end, she believes, it makes you a better manager.
A woman's sensibility is at the heart of Donnafugata, which was founded in 1983 by Rallo's parents as an offshoot of a family business started in 1851. The name is an homage to the imaginary town in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's 1958 epic novel "The Leopard." The name translates as "woman in flight" and alludes to a Habsburg queen, Maria Carolina, who took refuge in Sicily when Napoleon's troops invaded Naples. "I'm convinced that the values at Donnafugata are linked to my being a mother and involved in society," she said.
Those values, Rallo said, can be summed up as "enterprise, nature, culture" - an integrated effort to foster social and environmental responsibility in the territory in which Donnafugata operates.
Sitting on the board of one of Sicily's biggest banks by assets, which is now part of the much bigger Unicredit Group, is an integral part of the picture. The sun-drenched Italian island is at the heart of Donnafugata's image. "People like Sicily," Rallo said. "They want sun, they want a taste of the south, they want human warmth. It's our value added."
Massimiliano Bruni, co-director of the new master's degree program in fine food and beverage at Bocconi University in Milan, said efforts like Rallo's were bearing fruit. "In the last 10 years there's been an improvement in quality, as well as in the ability to create the notion of a specific Sicilian product and promote Sicily," which has given these wines an edge, he said.
The cultural side of Rallo's mission comes in with "Donnafugata Music & Wine Sessions," a marketing innovation that lets Rallo and her husband, Vincenzo Favara, meld their interest in music - she is a singer, he a percussionist - with promoting their wine. They have brought Donnafugata musical wine tastings to restaurants and clubs around the world, including New York, where they played and sipped at the legendary Blue Note. Proceeds from the sale of their second CD are being used for microcredit loans to assist start-up businesses. "We need to support small enterprise," Rallo said.
Growing up, it was never a given that Rallo would join the family business. She left home after high school to study economics at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa because "Sicily was a little confining in 1983," she said. "I didn't see much of a future there either professionally or as a woman."
After graduation she went to work for Andersen Consulting and Arthur Andersen in Rome, where she learned that "no one is indispensable and that good managers are those who ensure that their work can be picked up by anyone else at any time," she said. Rallo imparted that style to the family business when she joined in 1990.
She also brought a green sensibility, installing in 2001 a photovoltaic system to produce clean energy at the three estates in Sicily and on the island of Pantelleria where grapes for Donnafugata wine are grown. For the past decade, the winery has held night harvests in August, lowering the risk of untimely fermentation and reducing the energy consumption needed to cool the grapes.
Why the early jump into environmental issues? "I have children," Rallo said simply. "Of course I think of the environment."




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Chemical found in liquid milk in China (IHT)

BEIJING: China's latest tainted product crisis widened Friday after tests found the chemical melamine in liquid milk produced by three of the country's leading dairy companies, the country's quality monitor said.
The crisis roiling the nation's dairy industry was thought to have been initially confined to tainted milk powder and was blamed for four infant deaths, and illnesses in more than 6,200 others.
But about 10 percent of liquid milk samples taken from the Mengniu Dairy Group and Yili Industrial Group - China's two largest dairy producers - contained melamine, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. Milk from the Shanghai-based Bright Dairy also showed contamination.
Melamine is a toxic industrial chemical that can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure.
The agency would "severely punish those who are responsible," according to a notice posted on the agency's Web site. It said all the batches that tested positive were being recalled.
Reactions were immediate, with Hong Kong's two biggest grocery chains, PARKnSHOP and Wellcome, pulling all liquid milk by Mengniu from the shelves. A day earlier, Hong Kong had recalled milk, yogurt, ice cream and other products made by the Yili Industrial Group.
Starbucks said its 300 cafés in mainland China had pulled milk supplied by Mengniu. Starbucks said that no employees or customers had fallen ill from the milk.
Earlier this week, Mengniu's chief executive officer, Niu Gensheng, vowed to create a clean dairy product market, saying "if this thing cannot be properly dealt with, I'll resign," according to the financial magazine Caijing.
The scandal began with complaints over milk powder by the Sanlu Group, one of China's best-known and most respected brands; but it quickly became a much larger problem as government tests found that one-fifth of the companies producing baby milk powder had melamine in their products.
Though most of the dairy products involved are only sold domestically, two of the companies exported their products to five countries in Asia and Africa.
On Friday, regulators for consumer product safety in the United States, the European Union and China met to announce a joint initiative that would allow for direct cooperation between the three parties on consumer safety issues.
"The situation underscores the need for these kinds of conversations," said Nancy Nord, acting chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Thousands of parents brought their children to hospitals, worried about their safety.
About 1,300 babies, mostly newborns, remain hospitalized, with 158 suffering from acute kidney failure.
Like many of the babies at the Peace Hospital in Shijiazhuang, Yao Haoge, 11 months old, had an IV drip hooked into a vein in her head. Diagnosed with two large kidney stones, she had been drinking formula by Sanlu since birth.
"We don't make much money, but we wanted to buy good milk powder," said her father, Yao Weiguan, a day-laborer from a small town an hour's train ride from Shijiazhuang.
"We thought it was good, and now it's given us problems."
Melamine has no nutritional value but is high in nitrogen, making products with it appear higher in protein. Suppliers trying to cut costs are believed to have added it to watered-down milk to cover up the resulting protein deficiency.
Questions continued to swirl about the handling of the scandal by the milk producer Sanlu and government officials.
The company reportedly received complaints about its formula as early as March and tests revealed the contamination by early August, just before the Olympics. Sanlu went public with a recall on Sept. 11 after its New Zealand stakeholder told the New Zealand government, which then informed the Chinese government.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/09/19/asia/milk.php



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Friday, 19 September 2008

Number of people needing [food] aid in Africa doubles (IHT)

Reuters
Thursday, September 18, 2008
LONDON: The number of people living "on the edge of emergency" in Africa has nearly doubled to 220 million in just two years, a leading charity said on Thursday.
CARE International said emergency aid to the impoverished and strife-ridden continent continued to arrive too late, was short-term and policies were targeted too heavily on saving lives rather than building resilience in the population.
"The world's inaction on food emergencies has proved costly and it is the world's poorest people -- stripped of enough to eat -- who are paying the price," said Geoffrey Dennis, the charity's chief executive.
"Governments, the U.N., donors and aid agencies must take this opportunity to deliver the long-term structural reforms to the aid system that will protect the most vulnerable from emergency and build their resilience to food price rises, drought and other shocks."
CARE's report "Living on the Edge of Emergency -- Paying the Price of Inaction" is timed to coincide with a summit in New York next week dedicated to the fight against poverty -- one of the key Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for 2015.
It called for donors to fulfil existing aid commitments and then add some, focus on disaster risk reduction, early warning systems, food production and support for the poorest and make emergency aid and long-term development better coordinated.
It also highlighted the more recently emerged threats to security and welfare that have added to older woes.
Prices of staple foods have surged by an average of 83 percent in the past three years, climate change has already hit some of the poorest -- and therefore less resilient -- countries, biofuels have replaced food crops and increasing urbanization has compounded the problems.
"It is a disgrace that, despite warnings, money is still being spent in the wrong ways," said Dennis.
"Leaders at the MDG meeting must ensure that the aid system can rise to the challenge of the global food crisis or they will measure the cost in billions of wasted emergency funds and the suffering of millions of people pushed to and beyond the edge of yet more needless emergencies."
(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell)

http://www.iht.com/articles/reuters/2008/09/18/europe/OUKWD-UK-AFRICA-AID.php





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If you are listed on Farm Blogs from Around the World have you sent me your best farm blog Recommendations?

Farm Blogs from Around the world relies on bloggers who have been recommended by other bloggers to send me their recommendations of their favourite farm blogs. In this way, the blog roll grows organically; the idea is that the good blogs lead us all to the great ones.

Nearly all the bloggers on Farm Blogs From Around the World have been recommended to me by other bloggers. I then contact these bloggers, ask them for some more information about their own agricultural holding (at a minimum their location, acreage, and what food and fibre they raise), some text about their blog and permission to use up to 5 photos from their blog so that I can make a posting about a new recommended blogger.

I also ask them to send me up to 5 of their favourite recommended blogs, who I then add to the blog roll and then contact, asking them for the above.

If you are listed on Farm Blogs from Around the World, it is probably because someone has recommended you.

IF YOU HAVEN'T SENT ME ANY INFO ABOUT YOURSELF OR YOUR OWN RECOMMENDATIONS I WOULD VERY MUCH APPRECIATE YOU GETTING IN TOUCH WITH ME AT INFO AT IANWALTHEW.COM

I just don't have the time to chase people up, and nor do I want to hassle anyone who doesn't want to be a part of this.

IF YOU AREN'T LISTED ON FARM BLOGS BUT WOULD LIKE TO BE, PLEASE ALSO CONTACT ME WITH INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR BLOG AND YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS, WHICH I'LL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO CHECK OUT.

IF YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS BUT WOULD LIKE TO MAKE SOME MORE, AGAIN, PLEASE CONTACT ME AT INFO AT IANWALTHEW.COM

Many thanks for taking the time to read this and I look forward to hearing from you.P.S. Back in August, I somehow managed to permanently delete my Farm Blogs 'To Reply To' folder in Outlook Express. So, I am afraid that I have lost many of your recent emails, specifically any sent to me between 15th August 2008 and 26th August 2008.

Obviously I am annoyed at my stupidity, but also apologetic for all those people who took the time to write to me at what is, for most people, a busy time of year.

If you see this post, and did write to me between the above dates, I can only apologise, and ask you to re-send your email to me.


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Instead of eating to diet, they're eating to enjoy (IHT)

Rina Gonzalez-Echandi, with her daughter, Raven, eats better, not less.
(Stephanie Diani for The New York Times)


By Tara Parker-Pope
Thursday, September 18, 2008
After decades of obsessing about fat, calories and carbs, many dieters have made the unorthodox decision to simply enjoy food again.
That doesn't mean they're giving up on health or even weight loss. Instead, consumers and nutritionists say they are seeing a shift toward "positive eating" — shunning deprivation diets and instead focusing on adding seasonal vegetables, nuts, berries and other healthful foods to their plates.
For 32-year-old Rina Gonzalez-Echandi of Los Angeles, giving up calorie counting and packaged foods and adding real food back into her diet has helped her maintain her weight and even be happier. She used to watch fat and calories so obsessively she would sometimes avoid socializing.
"You forget how wonderful it is to have a meal with friends and family," said Gonzalez-Echandi, a special-education aide and mother of a 10-year-old daughter. "I realize I had taken that joy away from myself."
Now she focuses on the pleasure of eating fresh, home-cooked food. She has started cooking with olive oil and occasionally butter, and has increased her consumption of nuts and peanut butter. She even got to know her grocer to find out which fruits and vegetables are in season and grown locally.
The market research firm NPD Group gets a glimpse of national eating habits through the food diaries it has collected from 5,000 consumers since 1980. The percentage of those consumers who are on a diet is lower than at any time since information on dieting was first collected in 1985. At the peak in 1990, 39 percent of the women and 29 percent of the men were dieting. Today, that number has dropped to 26 percent of women and 16 percent of men.
The diarists also report eating more organic foods and whole grains, said Harry Balzer, an NPD vice president.
"Instead of trying to avoid things, they've started adding things," Balzer said.
Even the Calorie Control Council, which represents makers of commercial diet foods, notes the percentage of people who are dieting has declined — to 29 percent in 2007 from 33 percent in 2004.
And there are other indicators of a shift in eating habits. In May, the market research firm Information Resources reported that 53 percent of consumers say they are cooking from scratch more than they did just six months ago, in part, no doubt, because of the rising cost of prepared foods.
Sales of organic foods have surged, and the number of farmers' markets has more than doubled since the mid-1990s.
Nutrition experts and consumers say positive eating trends are being fueled in part by the failures of the past. A national epidemic of obesity suggests that the spread of diet foods, sugar-free soft drinks and low-fat snacks hasn't helped people manage their weight.
Cynthia Sass, a New York dietitian and author who was a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association from 2001 to 2007, said many clients embrace positive eating after years of failed dieting. "They would much rather focus on what to eat instead of what not to eat," Sass said. "Most people I have encountered have a track record of trying different things that didn't work for them."
Meanwhile, books like Gary Taubes's "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007) and Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" (Penguin, 2008) have prompted a rethinking of Americans' eating habits and dependence on processed and refined foods.
Martha McClintock, 46, of Riverdale, in the Bronx, said she was more focused these days on adding healthful foods like avocados, blueberries and walnuts to her plate. She said she tries to improve the quality of food she eats, such as switching to blue corn chips as a snack rather than potato chips.
"If something is high in calories, I try to look at the big picture," said McClintock, a photo service account executive. "If you're going to indulge in something, just try and walk it off or limit it to once a week."
Some former dieters say they've been influenced by the international Slow Food movement, a 10-year-old group that encourages locally grown, unprocessed food. Over the Labor Day weekend an estimated 60,000 people attended the Slow Food Nation festival in San Francisco.
Alice Waters, of the restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, and a prominent supporter of the Slow Food movement, said food habits change when a person begins to cook at home more. Her efforts to encourage home cooking include a new campaign of Internet cooking videos from the Slow Food Nation event, such as one from the chef Bryant Terry, who showed how to strip corn from the cob and sauté it with chili.
"We need to demystify cooking," Waters said. "It creates feelings about food that make you feel cared for, and that's the kind of food that really changes habits."
The cookbook author and television personality Rachael Ray has attracted both loyal followers and harsh critics for creating food that doesn't focus on calories, fat, carbohydrates or even portion control. She intentionally doesn't include calorie information with her cookbook recipes.
"I think that puts your head into science and away from what I think the experience of food should be," Ray said. "If you take the time to cook and provide yourself with a balanced diet, you can cook freely and eat pretty freely and in pretty large amounts without worrying so much about the nutritional intake or the calories or your pant size."
Some nutritionists aren't convinced that the positive eating trend will catch on with time-strapped families. Others worry that people will wrongly interpret positive eating as over-indulging, rather than adding moderate amounts of healthful foods into the diet.
"If everyone ate more plant-based and more whole foods and unprocessed foods, that would be major," said Arlene Spark, associate professor of nutrition at Hunter College in New York. "But that would mean people going back to cooking, and what we've lost is people's ability and knowledge of how to cook."
The real question, is whether better eating can translate into weight loss.
Last year, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on a study of 97 obese women, all of whom were avoiding high-fat foods. Half the women were instructed to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. By the end of a year, the women who were focused on adding vegetables lost an average of 17 pounds, 20 percent more than the women who were just paying attention to fat consumption.
Also, the more time people spend on tasks like food shopping, cooking and kitchen cleanup, the more likely they are to be of average weight. The Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture found that people of normal weight spend more time on meal-related tasks than people who are overweight or underweight.
Marion Nestle, the New York University nutritionist whose book "What To Eat" (North Point Press, 2006) focuses on sensible eating, said she thinks people view food as the enemy, when the real problem is that they have forgotten how to enjoy food in a healthful way.
"If you're eating something you really like, maybe you won't feel like you need to eat so much of it," she said. "If you want a muffin, then eat a gorgeous muffin with marvelous blueberries that's moist and crispy on the outside with a little sugar on it. Yum."





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Cornered by war and drought, Afghans fear a harsh, hungry winter (IHT)



By Carlotta Gall
Friday, September 19, 2008
YAKOWLANG, Afghanistan: A pitiable harvest this year has left small farmers all over central and northern Afghanistan facing hunger, and aid officials are warning of an acute food shortage this winter for nine million Afghans, more than a quarter of the population.
The crisis has been generated by the harshest winter in memory, followed by a drought across much of the country, which come on top of the broader problems of deteriorating security, the accumulated pressure of returning refugees and the effects of rising world food prices.
The failure of the Afghan government and foreign donors to develop the country's main economic sector, agriculture, has compounded the problems, the officials say. They warn that the food crisis could make an already bad security situation worse.
The British charity Oxfam, which conducted a provisional assessment of conditions in the province of Daykondi, one of the most remote areas of central Afghanistan, has appealed for international assistance before winter sets in. "Time is running out to avert a humanitarian crisis," it said.
That assessment is echoed by villagers across the broader region, including in Bamian Province. "In all these 30 years of war, we have not had it as bad as this," said Said Muhammad, a 60-year-old farmer who lives in Yakowlang, in Bamian. "We don't have enough food for the winter. We will have to go to the towns to look for work."
Underlying the warnings are growing fears of civil unrest. The mood in the country is darkening amid increasing economic hardship, worsening disorder and a growing disaffection with the government and its foreign backers, particularly over the issue of government corruption.
Returning refugees are already converging on the cities because they cannot manage in the countryside, and they make easy recruits for the Taliban or other groups that want to create instability, said Ashmat Ghani, an opposition politician and tribal leader from Logar Province, south of Kabul, the nation's capital.
"The lower part of society, when facing hunger, will not wait," he said. "We could have riots."
The Afghan government, together with United Nations organizations, was quick to mount an appeal at the beginning of the year to prevent a food shortage as world food prices soared and neighboring countries stopped wheat exports.
The World Food Program, which was assisting 4.5 million of the most vulnerable Afghans with food aid in recent years, widened its program to include an additional 1.5 million Afghans and extended it further because of the drought to reach a total of nine million people until the end of next year's harvest.
Several weeks ago, Oxfam warned in a letter to ministers responsible for development in some countries assisting Afghanistan that the $404 million appeal by the government and the United Nations was substantially underfinanced.
"If the response is slow or insufficient, there could be serious public health implications, including higher rates of mortality and morbidity, which are already some of the highest in the world," the letter said.
It also warned of internal displacement of families who had no work or food, and even of civil disturbances. "The impact as a whole could further undermine the security situation," Oxfam said.
The United States government announced this week that it would supply nearly half the emergency food aid requested in the appeal.
Susana Rico, the director of the World Food Program in Afghanistan, said last-minute contributions had come in to cover the immediate emergency. But there is still a rush to get supplies to the countryside before the first winter snows arrive next month, she said.
Development officials say that deteriorating security has made it harder to do that job in the countryside. Aid workers have become the targets of an increasing number of attacks from insurgents and criminals.
The dangers have restricted the scale and scope of aid operations, said the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an umbrella group of nongovernmental organizations.
Those dangers, the agency says, have even spread to areas previously considered relatively secure. In the first seven months of the year, it reported, 19 workers for nongovernmental organizations were killed, more than the number in all of 2007.
The agency appealed for governments to take a broad range of measures, beyond the military, to combat the escalating insurgency.
"The conflict will not be brought to an end through military means," the agency said in a statement. "A range of measures is required to achieve a sustainable peace, including strong and effective support for rural development."
Neglecting a lifeline as vital as agriculture has been dangerous for stability in Afghanistan, as people are unable to feed themselves, several provincial governors said in interviews.
The governor of Bamian, Habiba Sarabi, has repeatedly complained that because her province has been one of the most law-abiding and trouble-free, it has been forgotten in the big distribution of resources from international donors.
Donors, and in particular the United States government, have spent far larger amounts in the provinces in the south and southeast to help combat the dual problems of the insurgency and narcotics, she said.
Hasan Samadi, 23, the deputy administrator of Yakowlang District in Bamian Province, said, "The economic situation of the people here is very bad and the government is not focused to help.
"They focus on other provinces and unfortunately not on Bamian, and not on remote districts of Bamian," he said.
Daykondi, adjacent to Bamian, is one of the most underfinanced provinces in the country. It receives half the budget of its neighbor to the south, Oruzgan, which has two-thirds the population and a poor record on combating insurgency and the cultivation of the opium poppy, said Matt Waldman, a spokesman for Oxfam in Kabul.
In Daykondi, 90 percent of the population relies on subsistence farming, yet the provincial Department of Agriculture has a budget of only $2,400 for the whole year, he added.
The imbalance in aid to the provinces is being corrected now, Governor Sarabi said, but in the meantime it has put great strain on the people in her province.
She estimated that a quarter of Bamian's population would need food aid this winter because of the drought. There have already been local conflicts over water supplies in two regions, she said.
Development officials warn that neglecting the poorest provinces can add to instability by pushing people to commit crimes or even to join the insurgency, which often pays its recruits.
While the severe drought contributed to the decline of poppy cultivation in the central and northern provinces, it also pushed farmers into debt. If they do not get help now, they could turn back to poppy-growing and lose their faith in the government, said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Costa called for urgent assistance for farmers and regions that have abandoned poppy cultivation. He and others have also criticized the inefficiency of international aid.
Of $15 billion of reconstruction assistance given to Afghanistan since 2001, "a staggering 40 percent has returned to donor countries in corporate profits and consultant salaries," the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief said in a March report.
"Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world," Costa said during a recent visit to Kabul. "I insist on the importance of increasing development assistance, making it more effective. Too much of it is eaten up by various bureaucracies and contractors."






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Thursday, 18 September 2008

Farmers and factories fight over land in India (IHT)

A demonstration in support of the Tata car plant in Singur, India. Land clashes have held up many industrial projects in the country. (Parth Sanyal/Reuters)





By Somini Sengupta
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
SINGUR, India: Barely a month before the introduction of the world's least expensive car from a new factory on these former potato and rice fields, a peasant uprising has prompted Tata, one of the most powerful Indian conglomerates, to suspend work on the plant and consider pulling out.
The standoff is the most prominent example of a dark cloud hanging over India's economic transition: How to divert scarce fertile farmland to industry in a country where more than half of the people live off the land?
At the heart of the challenge, one of the most important facing the Indian government, is not only how to compensate peasants who make way for India's industrial future, but also how to prepare them - in great numbers - for the new economy India wants to enter.
In recent years, clashes over land have dogged several major industrial projects in almost every corner of this crowded democracy of 1.1 billion people, most of them rural and poor.
In the eastern state of Orissa, betel leaf farmers have held up a $12 billion project by Posco, the South Korean steel maker, occasionally kidnapping company officials. In western Goa, several proposed Chinese-style special economic zones were scrapped after sustained public protests. And outside Mumbai, India's commercial capital, village councils have insisted on a referendum this month on an economic zone proposed by Mukesh Ambani, the country's richest man.
In nearly all of these cases, the peasants who resist most intensely are often those who know they are qualified to do little beyond eke out a living off of the land.
If that fundamental anxiety feeds their protests, farmers and farmhands, often egged on by the politicians who seek their support, also stage protests to ratchet up the price of the land or to renegotiate deals.
The target of their ire is often the government, which in most cases acquires the land and turns it over to industrial developers. The central government has not finished a long-awaited national policy on compensating those who lose their land.
"If the price is right, people will sacrifice the emotional attachment, but if you no longer have the guarantee of living off the land, then what do you do?" said Subir Gokarn, chief economist for Standard & Poor's in India. "The people who are being displaced are not the people who see themselves as benefiting immediately from the employment opportunities."
Medha Patkar, one of the best-known opponents of large industrial projects in India, said, "Land is livelihood, it's not just property."
Last month, in this rich farm belt in the state of West Bengal, protesters laid siege to the new Tata Motors plant, on one occasion preventing workers from leaving.
The protesters want the government to return roughly a third of the 997 acres, or 403 hectares, that the state acquired for the Tata factory. Some of the land was taken by force from farmers.
Their demands have since led the state government, controlled by an elected Communist administration, to sweeten the deal without taking apart the factory site.
On Sunday, in a bid to assuage protesters, the government announced a more generous compensation package for those who had been evicted. It included a 50 percent increase in the price paid for the property and job training for one member of each displaced family. The governing party and its opponents have been staging competing protests this week.
That new deal only revealed the deep wedge of anxiety that the factory has driven through this cluster of villages.
"We are farmers," said Tayab Ali Mandal, of the village of Joymolla. "We know only farm work, we don't know any paper-pencil work." He gave up his land last year, but bitterly. Now he wants it back, and he rejected the government's latest offer of a job in the plant.
He said he would rather have his 16-year-old son continue to work in a small factory embroidering clothes, a traditional craft in his community. "I won't go inside that place, even to urinate," he said. "We are disgusted by that place."
Gopal Santra and his clan, who refused to accept money for the land they lost, said they hoped the renewed agitation would prompt the state to raise its offer even more.
The Santras owned land across the street from the Tata plant, which they sold a month ago for more than four times the price the state is now offering. Still others, like Sheik Muhammad Ali, who welcomed the Nano, Tata's flat-faced, pint-size car, to his fields, threatened to put the naysayers in their place.
Ali had readily given up his land and through his contacts with government officials, started a business supplying cement to the developer.
On Sunday, he was seething at the protesters who had halted work on the plant for the past two weeks and in turn, his business.
"There's a limit to our patience," he said. "If you take my plate of rice, will I just let you go off with it?"
Bidyut Kumar Santra, a rare high school graduate in Joymolla, was among the lucky few to get a job on the assembly line, and, in turn, realize how poorly equipped he was to keep up with events on the factory floor. The engineers all spoke English, to him an alien tongue.
"I feel ashamed, like what kind of education did I get?" Santra said the other day. He vowed to make certain that his son, who is in first grade, learned to speak English.
The villages of Singur, where the Nano was to be produced, stand at the crossroads of two Indias.
For Tata, it is ideally located along a new national highway heading north to New Delhi, the capital, and near an important east-west artery.
For farmers, it is ideally located on the fertile delta plains of the Ganges River and fed by irrigation canals, making the earth so rich and red that it yields two rice harvests a year, in addition to potatoes, cucumbers and squash.
West Bengal lured Tata here with heavy incentives, including a generous land lease and tax breaks from the state's industrial development agency.
Some of the details of the company's contract with the government have emerged in recent days, prompting the company to go to court, where it blocked further disclosures.
If Tata were required to give back 300 acres of land from the factory site, as the opposition demands, it would have to evict auto parts makers who are setting up shop next to the main Nano plant.
Their proximity allows Tata to save on the cost of production. Those savings and the generous land and tax deal allow Tata to sell the Nano at a price of less than $2,500.
The plant's fate is uncertain. Tata, while welcoming the government's proposed compensation package, has remained silent on its plans.
The company has several other plants where it could produce the Nano in time for the Hindu festival season in October, traditionally a time of big spending.
Tata has dangled the possibility of making the Nano elsewhere if the cost of production and the price of car rise too high.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/09/17/business/land.php



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EU backs more food aid for Europe's poor (IHT)

BRUSSELS: The European Commission backed a plan on Wednesday to pour more cash into an EU scheme to feed millions of poor people across Europe.
The plan was drafted after radical policy changes ended the infamous grain mountains and milk lakes of the 1980s and 1990s.
With most of those stocks gone, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel recommended raising spending on the EU's food aid scheme, set up in 1986 to distribute its surplus food stocks to a wide range of people living in poverty.
"Now that surplus stocks are extremely low and unlikely to increase in the foreseeable future, the scheme should allow market purchases on a permanent basis, to complement remaining intervention stocks," the European Commission said on Wednesday as it backed the proposal.Under the plan spending on the scheme would rise to 500 million euros (398 million pounds) in 2009 from the 310 million euros earmarked in 2008.
The scheme will provide millions of meals to people including families, the elderly and asylum seekers in 19 of the EU's 27 countries.Before the EU's reform of its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2003, public intervention stocks of cereals, beef, butter, milk powder, olive oil, rice and sugar were usually plentiful and stored around Europe at taxpayers' expense.

But those large surplus stocks, for which the EU was heavily criticised by its trading partners for exporting with subsidies, are now mostly non-existent, with the exception of sugar.If ministers agree, food distribution plans will be set up for three-year periods, in cooperation with charities and local social services, and with EU countries choosing the food they want, based on nutritional criteria. Priority will be given to intervention stocks where these are available.
For the three-year plan starting in 2010, EU states would get 75 percent of the costs paid by Brussels but have to pay the remaining 25 percent themselves. More economically disadvantaged areas would get 85 percent of their bill paid by EU money.
From 2013, EU countries would have to match, euro for euro, the cash they get from Brussels. Poorer regions would pay 25 percent of their costs and EU money would cover 75 percent.
Around 43 million people across the European Union are believed to be at risk of food poverty, based on their inability to afford to buy a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day, the Commission says.
http://www.iht.com/articles/reuters/2008/09/17/europe/OUKWD-UK-FOOD-EU-POOR.php




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