This week’s events show just how powerful a role mother nature plays in our food, for better or worse.
1. Research shows that ecosystem biodiversity impacts food safety
Farms are better when they’re operating at maximum cost efficiency, right? For farming operations, maybe, but for consumers, not necessarily so. A recent study has found that the removal of natural habits like hedgerows and ponds has a trickle down effect on other important players in the farm ecosystem. These habitats are home to insects and bacteria which are experts at removing feces and pathogens from the soil, including the dreaded E. Coli. As farms continue to become mechanized, and thus carry increased risk for food safety, it will be interesting to see whether any regulations will be proposed on biodiversity.
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2. Puerto Rico hurricane food assistance in jeopardy
Senate Democrats and Republicans are once again at odds over the amount of disaster relief Puerto Rico should receive in the most recently proposed $13 billion national disaster bill. President Trump has said he would not cosign on anything more than $600 million in nutritional assistance for Puerto Rico specifically, and progress on the overall package has now stalled on this one issue. The passage of this new bill is crucial especially to the Midwest states affected by recent flooding.
3. Flooding in the midwest destroys communities, compromises farming and drinking water
While California has been declared drought-free for the first time in 7 years, the Midwest has seen record rainfall and snowmelt causing leading to flooding which has caused over $3 billion in property damage in Nebraska and Iowa alone, with billions more in agricultural damage. Missouri has declared a state of emergency, which will allow the state to draw on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance funds. Kansas City has asked 600,000 residents to conserve drinking water, as flooding from the Missouri River has contaminated drinking water. Farmers, reeling from their losses, may be forced to raise their prices. Experts have estimated that beef prices at stores may increase as much as 50 cents per pound, and pork prices as much as $1 per pound.