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Image: Organic Logos and Label Requirements – MOFGA Certification Services

USDA DEFIES CONGRESS AND UNILATERALLY CUTS REIMBURSEMENT RATES TO FARMERS FOR ORGANIC CERTIFICATION. In October 2002 USDA formally began regulation of the organic industry. As an element of its control over organic, USDA made it mandatory that EVERY farmer using the regulated word "Organic" MUST become Certified Organic by a USDA- Accredited Certifying Agency (here in Maine we have been Certified Organic by USDA-ACA MOFGA for 38 years).
Because organic farmers are involuntarily forced to be Certified Organic, it has been fair – and there has been an on-going compromise – that USDA help organic family farmers pay for the cost of mandatory organic certification. In the 2018 Farm Bill Congress set the cost share at 75% USDA / 25% Farmer with certain additional ceilings in effect.
On Monday, in defiance of the law, USDA capriciously dropped its reimbursement share to 50%.
USDA's long-held hatred of organic and strong bias against family farmers is coming through loud-and-clear. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic virtually NO organic farmers have benefited from federal bailout programs. As is typical with USDA, most of the emergency funds have been channeled to the largest corporate operations.
You can help organic farmers by contacting your members of Congress and asking them to make USDA obey the law and comply with full Congressionally mandated reimbursement rates. This article contains good background info.Thanks! Caleb, Megan & Jim http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render…

"USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced yesterday that they would be reducing reimbursement rates for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program from 75 percent to 50 percent, despite the 2018 Farm Bill passed by Congress clearly setting the reimbursement rates at 75 percent. This is a huge blow to organic producers who rely on this funding, especially as farmers are still dealing with the pandemic and loss of markets. In 2018, 360 operations in Maine received $253,900 in cost share reimbursements…

"In addition, the FSA has done a huge disservice to the organic community in this time of crisis by delaying the release of funds by many months while organic operations struggle to stay in business as they weather a pandemic and loss of markets. Organic, direct market, and diversified operations have largely been excluded from existing USDA pandemic relief programs, including the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, while the top 1 percent of recipients got more than 20 percent of the money, totaling $1.2 billion."

Image: Organic Logos and Label Requirements – MOFGA Certification Services

Found on Google from mofgacertification.org


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Um, why is there a gigantic black cloud circling the globe?

EXPLANATION OF THE 'GIGANTIC BLACK CLOUD' WHICH IS CIRCLING THE GLOBE. The huge black cloud was generated by the recent destructive and widespread fires in Australia and occupies an area half the size of Canada. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"One of the largest fire clouds ever recorded has been drifting around the Southern Hemisphere for over a month. Heat and freak thunderstorms generated by Australia’s massive wildfires sent ash and toxic materials high into the atmosphere, where they formed a massive dark cloud of debris. It’s been measured at 15 miles high at some points, and at one point it covered more than 1 million square miles — about half the size of Canada."

Um, why is there a gigantic black cloud circling the globe?

Australia’s epic wildfires — along with freak thunderstorms — rocketed dust particles and ash 15 miles into the atmosphere. The massive 'fire cloud' is drifting around the Pacific Ocean.


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New Zealand has gone 100 days without community transmission of COVID-19

NEW ZEALAND HAS GONE 100 DAYS WITHOUT A SINGLE CASE OF COVID-19. With great beauty and populated with good-thinking people, New Zealand has a lot going for it. Their enviable position includes a much more responsive government which is led by a top notch Prime Minister.
We would do well to learn from our friends in New Zealand. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"New Zealand, Fiji, and Taiwan are among a handful of nations worldwide that have managed to last 100 days without a recorded case of COVID-19 through community transmission…

"From the first known case in New Zealand on February 26 to the last case of community transmission detected on May 1, elimination took 65 days, according to the New Zealand Herald. New Zealand’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 remains at 1,219…

"New Zealand relied on three types of measures to get rid of the virus including lockdown and social distancing to stop community transmission, border controls to stop the virus from entering the country, as well as case-based controls using testing, contact tracing, and quarantine."

New Zealand has gone 100 days without community transmission of COVID-19

New Zealand, Fiji, Vietnam, and Taiwan are among a handful of nations worldwide that have managed to last 100 days without a recorded case of COVID-19 through community transmission.


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The Financialization of the American Elite – American Affairs Journal

"THE FINANCIALIZATION OF THE AMERICAN ELITE." This valuable 'American Affairs' article from last year by Harvard Business School graduate Sam Long helps explain tectonic changes in the financial sector over recent decades which has had the nasty impact of increasing American wealth and income inequality.
If we're going to fix the problem we have to understand it first. Jim

"…a closer look at Klarman’s remarks, as well as the origins and trajectory of his career, suggests a deeply flawed messenger. Indeed, Klarman’s story provides an interesting window through which to understand much of what afflicts our economy and society today.

"A considerable amount has been written about the financialization of the American economy. Less understood is the financialization of America’s business talent. Klarman, his alma mater, and its peer institutions are all part of this story. What we confront today—a business elite dominated by financiers and their squires, presiding over a disordered economy gutted of both its productive energy and the ability to generate mass prosperity—is a direct result of this economic and cultural evolution…

"…the shareholder primacy movement proved lucrative to a wave of CEOs in the early 1990s whose compensation was tied to stock price. In 1990, Jensen published another landmark article, this time in the Harvard Business Review. Jensen asserted that corporate performance could be improved by using stock options to compensate CEOs and further align their interests with those of shareholders. The result, coupled with a 1993 tax law that increased the cost-effectiveness of compensating management with equity, has been twenty-five years of skyrocketing executive pay…

"The new elite also applied their ample talent and superior educa­tion to devising financial mechanisms and 'business strategies' that captured increasing percentages of their companies’ revenues. They discovered financial engineering techniques to boost stock values without growing earnings or investing in productive assets. Bankers and consultants helped shareholders and boards value, measure, and optimize their equity, which often led to decisions to offshore jobs or purposefully reallocate capital away from asset-intensive industries that employed millions of middle-class Americans…

"…Within the economy, the finan­cial sector’s contribution to GDP now approaches 10 percent, more than triple what it was in 1950.

"The consequences have damaged the long-term health of the American economy and hindered its ability to create prosperity and offer opportunities for social mobility…

"Related to this shift in sectoral balances is both a shameful level of inequality and historically weak economic performance and produc­tivity growth…We live in the richest society in the history of mankind, but as the Federal Reserve report­ed earlier this year, 40 percent of Americans would be unable to fund the costs of a $400 emergency from their savings…

"…Given that 50 percent of Americans own no stocks, the wealthiest 10 percent own 80 percent of the country’s stocks, and the top 1 percent own almost 40 percent of the country’s equities, the benefits of this financially engineered asset price inflation have flowed almost entirely to the largest capital holders…

"The impact is not merely economic. The cultural and political consequences of shareholder primacy have undermined our social cohesion…

"It was not always this way. If the class of ’82 represents the wealth and success achieved by the shareholder primacy generation, another HBS class tells the story of a different era.

"In 1974, Fortune published a profile of the HBS class of 1949 on the twenty-fifth anniversary of its graduation. As a cohort, its mem­bers had achieved fantastic financial success: one in five were mil­lionaires in 1974 dollars. Fortune’s editors titled their profile “The Class the Dollars Fell Upon,” and the nickname stuck.28

"By 1974 approximately 45 percent of the class held the position of CEO or COO…

"While their wealth, professional success, and acclaim drive the comparison to the 82ers, it is the difference in how the two classes made their money that is striking. The young Americans who ma­triculated at HBS in the years after the war found an institution that sought to instill in its graduates a sense of noblesse oblige, despite the fact that few of them had any blue blood to speak of. They had been given an unprecedented opportunity, and much was expected of them…

"At bottom, when many of our country’s wealthy citizens say 'democracy,' what they really mean is 'our class’s way of life.' If they respected democracy as fervently as they worship the 'invisible hand,' they would see that the popular discontent simmering across the world today is the direct result of decades of elite hypocrisy and greed, hidden behind a façade of neoliberal economics…

"These are the same people who have left us with an upside-down economy and a weakened social fabric. Income inequality, financialization, and a socially inefficient distribution of both capital and tal­ent are the legacies of shareholder capitalism. Although these elites now mourn the erosion of the political 'center,' they actively par­ticipated in the erosion of the American middle class. To add insult to injury, they insist on telling us elaborate stories about their entrepreneurial spirit and good intentions, and invite us to celebrate their virtue when they give back a tiny share of their captured wealth.

"Encouraged by academics like Porter and Jensen, and the univer­sities at which they preach, this elite now purports to know how to fix our politics. Given their track record, we would be foolish to listen."

The Financialization of the American Elite – American Affairs Journal

On October 1, 2018, the newly christened Klarman Hall opened to much acclaim on the campus of Harvard Business School. The stunning $120 million building houses a conference center as well as a gleaming auditorium built around a 32-million-pixel, 1,250-square-foot video wall and a state-of-the-art,….


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STIRRUP HOEING CORN ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE. Here, Caleb's sis…

STIRRUP HOEING CORN ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE. Here, Caleb's sister Amy (left) and Megan clean up the remaining few visible weeds left after running through this field of Organic Dorinny Seed Corn with a tractor outfitted with potato hoes. https://www.woodprairie.com/…/sweet-corn-seed-organic-dori…/
Immediately after this hand work, we companion-sowed this corn field to Organic Winter Rye to protect the soil and suppress weeds. This year the Rye will form a dense short mat. Next Summer the Winter Rye will be harvested as a grain crop.
Organic Certified Seed Potatoes (https://www.woodprairie.com/…/certified-organic-maine-cert…/) were grown in this field last year in our 4-year rotation . Immediately after last Fall's harvest potato, fields were planted to Winter Rye. That crop of Winter Rye is drying down and will soon be harvested. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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Sweeping U.S. pesticide reform bill introduced, banning some chemical agents

"SWEEPING U.S. PESTICIDE REFORM BILL INTRODUCED, BANNING SOME CHEMICAL AGENTS." Our current regulatory structure for assessing pesticides is deeply broken, and regularly caters to vested interests marching to elite political dictates over scientific scrutiny.
The formerly-valuable Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), founded in the environmental era of the 1960s by President Nixon has devolved to dysfunction which increasingly fails to protect the public interest and instead utilizes political power which consistently kowtows to powerful economic forces such as Industrial Ag and pesticide manufacturers.
Reform is urgently needed and this bill – sweeping in its broad reform – could pass if there is a shake-up in Washington. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"The Protect America’s Children From Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020, introduced on Tuesday by Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, and Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat of Colorado, would overhaul the nation’s framework for regulating the sale and use of pesticides to safeguard public health and the environment, the legislators said in a press call with a panel of experts.

"Current regulations are based on outdated science and contain loopholes that keep dangerous pesticides on the market despite clear evidence of harm to people and the environment, they said. 'Our nation’s system for regulating harmful pesticides is broken and badly outdated,' said Sen. Udall. The system was meant to protect farmers and agricultural workers, consumers and the environment, he said. “'But it’s not. It’s protecting the pesticide industry.'”

Sweeping U.S. pesticide reform bill introduced, banning some chemical agents

The Protect America’s Children From Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020 would overhaul the nation’s framework for regulating the sale and use of pesticides.


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Aroostook County’s harvest break is indispensable for the potato industry, farmers say

ADDRESSING OUR 'POTATO HARVEST BREAK.' Aroostook County, Maine is one of the last regions in the country which perpetuates our traditional farm-based culture and still incorporates a Harvest Break into school schedules.
Next week, Caleb's sister Amy begins life as a High School Senior (in a bow to Covid 19, half of her 30-student Senior class will attend masked, socially distanced half-days in the morning and the other half in the afternoon).
After WWII, Maine enacted a State law which required all Maine schools to conduct classes for a minimum of 175 days. Back then, the Aroostook County delegation fought and worked hard to modify the law and create an accommodation so that Aroostook would be permitted to start classes early in August, then break for harvest in September, and in that way still meet the 175-day requirement.
While, yes, farmers do acutely need the harvest help, what is too often minimized in the on-going debate over keeping Harvest Break is the increasingly rare educational and personal benefit for young people in participating in the community farming activity. (https://www.mofga.org/…/Potato-Culture-of-Aroostook-County-…).
We're fans of structuring learning to incorporate outside the classroom opportunities. Potato Harvest Break is King of outside learning opportunities.
For generations, to get a Summer job on the coast after graduation from High School – in a tourist hotel or restaurant business – all a young person had to mention to a potential employer was that he or she was from Aroostook and had worked Potato Harvest. They would be hired on the spot. That's testimony to the reputation of a highly-developed work ethic which Aroostook potato fields helped to cultivate. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"A formal harvest break from school has been a vital part of Aroostook County’s history and culture since at least 1945.

Aroostook County students have been excused from classes for two to three weeks each fall to work for farmers during the annual potato harvest. This year, even with debate about sending students back to in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic, not a single district that participated last year has decided to ax the break…

"'[Students] learn things working in the fields that they are not going to learn in school,' Stanley said. 'That has a huge educational benefit even if it’s not something that we can put down in a grade book.'"

Aroostook County’s harvest break is indispensable for the potato industry, farmers say

While acknowledging there are potential drawbacks, superintendents say the break is necessary in a highly agricultural region.


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Finnish Photographer Shoots Foxes, And We Can’t Finnish Looking At Them

37 FANTASTIC PHOTOGRAPHS OF FOXES. Finnish photographer Ossi Saarinen has a knack for discovering and capturing Red Foxes in their natural environment.
We see foxes frequently on our Maine farm, in addition to regularly spotting moose, black bears and deer.
Also, this Summer after years of absence, we're again seeing Cottontail Rabbits. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"Ossi has photographed these adorable animals since last summer. In an early morning, when he was just wandering around the countryside with his camera, Ossi luckily encountered baby foxes. The cubs noticed his presence, but without any fear, they curiously come close to check out this human with their eye wide opened. He quietly took photos of them, enjoyed watching the wild animals playing with each other, and felt the emergence of a special connection to the cute foxes. Since that unforgettable moment, the fox has become an endless inspiring topic for his photos."

Finnish Photographer Shoots Foxes, And We Can’t Finnish Looking At Them

Remember the Finnish photographer Ossi Saarinen, the guy who captures angry birds in real life? It turns out that he also has huge love with wild foxes, and his photos say it all. Ossi has photographed wild foxes since last summer. In an early morning, when he was just wandering around countryside w…


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The Dark Forest Theory of the Universe

MAYBE IT'S TIME WE CONSIDER THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE 'DARK FOREST THEORY.' If – as the numbers would indicate – we do have intelligent alien neighbors, why are we not hearing from them? Maybe it's time to think this situation through. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"But this scenario is a bit different in the Dark Forest theory which arises from Liu Cixin’s novel The Dark Forest, a sequel to the award-winning Three Body Problem. In the novel, the theory becomes an attempt to answer the question of the Fermi Paradox, a problem in science named after physicist Enrico Fermi. It is, in short, an exploration of why we’ve so far seen no signs of alien life when we should statistically be able to see at least 10,000 of them in the universe with 20 of those alien civilizations existing somewhere nearby (on a cosmic scale). These numbers come from the Drake equation, conceived by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961. The equation is an estimate of how many civilizations should exist in our galaxy by examining the many factors that might play a role in their development.
Image for post…

"In The Dark Forest, the assumptions of life are this: living organisms want to stay alive — they have a survival drive — and there is no way to know the true intentions of other lifeforms. Because there can be no certainties of a peaceful encounter, the safest course of action is to eradicate the other species before they have a chance to attack you instead. This also explains why an alien society might want to stay quiet, reducing the risk of discovering that humanity, for example, might be hostile after all. The novel also brings up the point of limited resources. A civilization that wishes to continue expanding across the universe will need to compete for the limited resources with any other intelligent life. With this assumption, one need not even consider that the species is hostile. We endanger animal populations on our planet all the time, not out of hatred but out of need for resources."

The Dark Forest Theory of the Universe

A terrifying answer to “where are all the aliens?”


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Watch: Eerie Deepfake Video Depicts Nixon Announcing Apollo 11 Disaster | Coast to Coast AM

OUR BRAVE NEW WORLD: WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL OF "DEEPFAKE" VIDEOS FROM HERE ON OUT. Technology has advanced to the point where malefactors-with-a-motive are now capable of creating flawless "Deepfake" videos which are indistinguishable from the real thing.
Watch this Deepfake video (7:46) created by experts at MIT in order to demonstrate the point of believeability of a faked version of the July 1969 Moon event. Caleb, Megan & Jim

"Initially unveiled last November at an art event, MIT's Center for Advanced Virtuality posted the creation online for the public on Monday in commemoration of the 51st anniversary of the Apollo landing. The group hopes that the video will enlighten people as to just how well-crafted and believable these so-called 'deepfake' videos can be, especially since it is almost certain the quality of such productions will only improve as technology advances."

Watch: Eerie Deepfake Video Depicts Nixon Announcing Apollo 11 Disaster | Coast to Coast AM

In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers surrounding deepfake videos, experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have released a chilling creation which depicts President Nixon announcing that the Apollo 11 mission had turned tragic.


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