June 25th, 2014
08:45 PM ET
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CNN Exclusive by CNN Investigative Correspondent Chris Frates

Wake County, North Carolina – Chickens buried alive. Pigs so sick that their intestines hang out of their bodies. These are some of the grisly scenes from videos taken by animal rights activists who went undercover at farms that produce food destined for dinner tables.

It’s a tactic animal rights activists have used for years, going undercover at slaughterhouses and factory farms to document squalid conditions, abuse and neglect. Their videos have gone mainstream and led to criminal charges, fines and even the largest meat recall in American history.

But undercover video is under attack and with it, activists argue, their ability to expose animal abuses that can make meat dangerous to eat.
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Orange is the new green: produce from prisons
June 6th, 2014
12:00 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

The first season of the Netflix hit show Orange is the New Black featured a series of prison food posters, with recipes attached. Among the highlights: Prison Pad Thai (four ingredients: ramen noodles, peanut butter, peanuts and hot sauce) and Prison Tamales with a beef jerky filling.

For those of us who haven't binge-watched all of the second season yet, there's no word yet on what the prison food situation will be (beyond that the show’s cookbook comes out in October). I wonder if the star of the series, Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling), will start a garden. Because that’s what’s happening at a lot of prisons around the country.

Farm programs, like the ones below, teach inmates about nutrition, how to grow food and related life-skill lessons. The programs supply healthy food for prison cafeterias as well as for nearby restaurants and homeless shelters. Not only that: These gardening programs have been shown to reduce the rate of repeated incarceration. Bring on the #OITNB Cellblock Caesar Salad.
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April 15th, 2014
08:00 PM ET
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Hitting the grocery store is getting more costly.

Beef prices are at a record high, and the cost of other staples, such as milk, butter, eggs, fruit and vegetables are climbing. With a severe drought ravaging farms across most of California, prices are at risk of shooting significantly higher this year.
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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Disaster • Drought • Environment • Farms


Urban farmer: 'If I do not farm, I’ll get sick.'
April 2nd, 2014
01:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. In honor of the SFA's featured oral history project, Women Who Farm: Georgia, we’re sharing “She Spoke and I Listened” by Sara Wood, the group's oral historian.

The evening I met Haylene Green, an urban farmer in Atlanta, Georgia, rain mercilessly poured on midtown Atlanta—and on me. I squeaked across the lobby of Ms. Green’s apartment building and followed her to a small room in the basement. There, she opened a thick photo album with pages of fruits and vegetables from her West End community garden. And she started talking. I put the recording equipment together as fast as I’ve ever assembled it. My job was simple: She spoke, and I listened. All of her answers were stories.

Speaking of his book "The Storied South" on a radio program, folklorist Bill Ferris recently said something that stopped me in my kitchen: “When you ask a Southerner to answer a question, they will tell a story. And embedded in that story is the information that they feel is the answer to the question.”

Oral history, like the most satisfying literature, relies on listening and observation. The way people speak, how they tell stories, where they choose to pause and scratch their nose, to me, is the greatest part of listening. Being an oral historian or a writer requires you to listen as though your life depends on it. What seems like a simple acts is actually the heart of the work. To that end, I share an excerpt from my interview with a farmer who also happens to be a storyteller.

Haylene Green’s Story
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February 17th, 2014
01:15 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog, AgricultureProud.com.

Farmers and ranchers are upset about how a burrito company is portraying their business. If you haven't seen them already, Chipotle has run a series of ads during the past few years centered around "Food With Integrity" and the idea that we can "Cultivate a Better World" by eating their burritos. 

These ads depict modern food and livestock production through Chipotle's marketing eyes and as their spokespeople tell us, the motive is to raise awareness about learning more about where our food comes from. But does Chipotle practice what it preaches?
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February 4th, 2014
07:00 PM ET
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The Senate passed a farm bill on Tuesday that ends direct subsidies for farmers and trims $90 a month from food stamps for 850,000.

The House had already passed the nearly $1 trillion farm bill that will set agriculture policy for the next five years. President Obama has said he would sign it into law.

The bill could be passed before the spring planting season. That's significant because farmers need to know early how it might affect prices and what to expect for their corn, wheat or tobacco yields.
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February 4th, 2014
11:00 AM ET
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It may be the most overlooked mega-bill of the past 12 months.

After taking a 72-22 leap through a Senate test vote Monday, the nearly $1 trillion Farm Bill is poised for final passage Tuesday.

While it's called the Farm Bill, in truth, it's more of a food bill. It sets five years of eating and farming policy in the United States, including what we grow, what you know about your dinner and how much government spends in the process. It cuts the food stamp program and increases spending on farmers markets. Whatever you think of Congress, this is a bill that deserves some attention.

Here's five lesser-known things the farm bill could mean to you:
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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Farm Bill • Farms • SNAP


'Frostbite on their teats' and other cold weather farming issues
January 9th, 2014
03:00 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog, AgricultureProud.com.

Winter storm Ion, polar vortex, or cold outbreak. No matter which term we use to describe this week’s weather across much of the country, it has been downright cold. Most of us are aware of precautions to prepare our homes and pets for the harsh conditions, but how are farmers and ranchers dealing with all of this weather?

Last year we talked about how there is no such thing as a snow day on the farm or ranch. Livestock must still be fed, equipment must still be maintained, and preparations for the next growing season continue. All of that work becomes much more difficult when the mercury drops well below zero degrees.
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Drones, drones on the range
December 10th, 2013
11:30 AM ET
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Editor's Note: Brian Scott farms with his father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. They grow corn, soybeans, popcorn and wheat. He blogs about it at The Farmer's Life.

Farmers and ranchers are going to take flight to improve the profitability and sustainability of their operations. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are on the verge of playing a big part in modern agriculture. In fact, many people expect agriculture to be the top market for UAV technology when, by 2015, the FAA lays out regulations pertaining to the commercial use of these systems.

These Aren’t The Drones You’re Looking For

Farmers interested in being on the ground floor of farm UAVs have already learned that "drone" is a dirty word. Proponents of putting this technology in the hands of civilians believe the term conjures images of missile strikes and secret surveillance.

Rest assured that the farms and ranches of America won’t be putting Global Hawks and Predator drones to work. Agricultural devices will be something carried around in the back seat or bed of a pickup truck used to take photos and videos of farmland.
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