Taxpayers help subsidize crop insurance premiums for farmers to the tune of about $9 billion dollars, a figure that's growing each year. These policies protect farmers from major losses, and help support their income even if there's no loss of crops.
And in return? Well, environmentalists argue that farmers who receive this financial supportshould be required to be good stewards of the land.
According to a new survey of America's beekeepers, almost a third of the country's honeybee colonies did not make it through the winter.
That's been the case, in fact, almost every year since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began this annual survey, six years ago.
Over the past six years, on average, 30 percent of all the honeybee colonies in the U.S. died off over the winter. The worst year was five years ago. Last year was the best: Just 22 percent of the colonies died.
It's a captivating story: A global rice-growing revolution that started with a Jesuit priest in Madagascar, far from any recognized center of agricultural innovation. Every so often, it surfaces in the popular media — most recently in The Guardian, which earlier this year described farmers in one corner of India hauling in gigantic rice harvests without resorting to pesticides or genetic modification.
For years, many marine biologists have argued that the floating, open-ocean net pens that produce billions of pounds of salmon per year also generate pollution, disease and parasites.
In some places in western Canada, the open-ocean salmon farming industry has been blamed for the collapse of wild salmon populations in the early 2000s — though other research has challenged that claim.