56 Organizations Urge Congress to Protect Agricultural Conservation
A national coalition of 56 policy and advocacy organizations urged Congress to preserve funding for essential U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs and to take additional steps to enhance soil, water quality and wildlife on agricultural land. The coalition outlined a set of key principles that lawmakers should observe as they write the Conservation Title of the 2012 Farm Bill and seek ways to trim the federal deficit.
The 56 coalition members are asking Congress to:
- Put a high priority on funding critical conservation programs at the current baseline level of $6.5 billion a year.
- Strengthen and enforce provisions that require farmers to implement basic conservation practices in return for farm subsidies and extend them to insurance subsidies.
- Target conservation dollars where the opportunities for conservation and environmental outcomes are greatest.
- Streamline existing programs by reducing unnecessary administrative burdens and ramp up their effectiveness by linking payments to performance and focusing more on whole-farm and whole-ranch conservation systems.
- Ensure that all segments of the farming community—women, minorities and beginning farmers—have access to funding and technical assistance.
The 2011 Survey on Agriculture and Environment conducted on behalf of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation—released Sept. 28—clearly shows that Americans view conservation as an important priority in national farm policy and don’t want to see conservation programs cut.
The USDA’s conservation programs are the main tools for implementing best management practices that help crop and livestock producers conserve soil resources and avoid deposition of nutrient and sediment into rivers and lakes. Agricultural conservation is also the primary means to protect vital habitat and endangered and threatened species on the privately held land that constitutes the majority of the nation’s land base.
Current market pressures and competition for land are exacerbating our conservation challenges and threatening to roll back the past gains of federal conservation programs. The nation will not be able to meet the natural resource and environmental challenges it faces without well-funded and effective conservation provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill.
Conservation leaders from across America endorsed the principles laid out in the group’s document.
“The public and the conservation community is sending a unified message to Capitol Hill. The worthy goals of deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility must not be an excuse to reduce support for conservation. As a matter of national security, it is imperative that we maintain our robust investment in conservation and simultaneously work to make the conservation programs smarter and more efficient,” said Jon Scholl, president of the American Farmland Trust.
“Chronically underfunded conservation programs can’t stand up to the pressure we are putting on our land and water,” said Craig Cox, senior vice president for agricultural and natural resources at the Environmental Working Group. “The progress farmers have made is real, but pressing problems remain unaddressed. We will lose the ground we have gained if Congress fails to ensure that conservation intensifies in lock-step with production.”
“With heightened pressures on the agricultural resource base and with farmer demand for conservation assistance far outstripping the supply of dollars, we need a robust system now more than ever. Congress can meet the challenge if it pays careful attention to these principles,” said Ferd Hoefner, policy director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
“There are many ways to improve the Farm Bill’s environmental impact without increasing funding,” said Tim Male, vice president for conservation policy at Defenders of Wildlife. “Streamlining programs and better focusing where and how dollars are spent would beef up the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s positive impact on wildlife, water and our environment.”
“In a clearly transitional environment for agriculture policy, where crop insurance has become the dominant means of public support to producers and special congressional committees may be poised to re-write the broad system of production subsidies, conservation compliance will still serve as a simple and logical covenant between the public and producers that ensures soil and wetland protections accompany the receipt of taxpayer dollars,” said Brad Redlin, agricultural program director at the Izaak Walton League of America.
The 2012 Farm Bill will encompass a wide array of programs affecting the farming industry, nutrition programs and rural development. Congress is scheduled to finalize the legislation next year, but the Congressional Super Committee is expected to make recommendations in the coming weeks that will likely impact the bill’s conservation provisions.
“It is critical that the 2012 Farm Bill funds programs that show proven soil and water conservation benefits and that are open to all sectors of agriculture production, including fruit, vegetable and organic growers. Local foods production and delivery is a growing industry and needs to be treated equally,” said Claudia Emken, conservation policy advocate for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.
Collectively, the 56 organizations supporting the conservation principles represent millions of members and supporters nationwide across a variety of ideologies and interests. These groups and others have worked successfully to protect conservation programs and advocate for additional funding in previous farm bills.
“The importance and value of conservation programs for clean water, healthy soil and wildlife habitat must be recognized. Not only are these programs critical for ensuring healthy wildlife populations, they also benefit rural economies through revenues from hunting, fishing and other wildlife-based recreation,” said Aviva Glaser, agriculture policy coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation.
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Russia's Health Ministry has given regulatory approval for the world's first COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Putin's Daughter Among Vaccinated<p>The Russian leader also said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated and is feeling well.</p><p>"One of my daughters got vaccinated, so in this sense, she took part in the testing," Putin said.</p><p>After the first vaccine shot, his daughter experienced a slight fever, 38 degrees Celsius (100.4°F). Her temperature came down to just slightly above normal the next day. </p><p>"After the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine. She is feeling well and has a high antibody count," Putin said. </p><p>He didn't specify which of his two daughters, Maria or Katerina, received the vaccine.</p><p>Russian health authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to receive shots of the vaccine.</p>
Years of Work Reduced to Weeks<p>Russia is the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine. As <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/germany-coronavirus-vaccine-may-only-be-available-in-mid-2021/a-54362065" target="_blank">countries worldwide race to produce the first vaccine</a>, health experts warn that speed and national pride could compromise safety.</p><p>Scientists in Russia and abroad have questioned Moscow's decision to register the vaccine before Phase 3 trials that normally last for months and involve thousands of people, but Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary trials and that vaccination will be voluntary.</p><p>Russian officials have said that large-scale production of the vaccine will begin in September, and mass vaccination may start as early as October.</p><p>Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, has <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippines-duterte-volunteers-to-be-putins-russian-coronavirus-vaccine-guinea-pig/a-54523030" target="_blank">lauded Russia's efforts in developing the vaccine</a> and said that the Philippines is ready to work with Moscow on vaccine trials, supply and production. Duterte volunteered to "be the first they can experiment on."</p><p>"I will tell President Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity," Duterte said, adding that he thinks Russia's vaccine will be ready for the Philippines by December.</p>
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By Arkilaus Kladit
My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.
Map of the Knasaimos traditional lands.
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By Farah Aqel
Overthinkers are people who are buried in their own obsessive thoughts. Imagine being in a large maze where each turn leads into an even deeper and knottier tangle of catastrophic, distressing events — that is what it feels like to them when they think about the issues that confront them.
Ruminating<p>According to the late Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a professor of psychology at Yale University, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796420/" target="_blank">ruminating</a> involves replaying a problem over and over in your mind. We ruminate by obsessing over our thoughts and thinking repetitively about various aspects of a past situation.</p><p>It usually involves regret, self-loathing and self-blaming. Rumination is associated with the development of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. </p><p>People prone to such patterns of thought may, for example, overanalyze every single detail of a relationship that breaks up. They often blame themselves for what has happened and are overcome with regret, with typical thoughts being: </p><p>- I should have been more patient and more supportive. </p><p>- I have lost the most perfect partner ever. </p><p>- No one will love me again.</p>
Worrying<p>Worrying is wanting to predict the future. It involves negative thoughts about things that might and might not happen.</p><p>- They'll not like me in the interview; they'll not give me the job. </p><p>- I haven't heard back from other employers. How long will I be unemployed?</p><p>These thoughts are energy-draining and distressing. They could happen to anyone under stress. But when you reach the point where your thoughts and worrying are preventing you from doing what you want to do — from living your life to the fullest — then you should take action.</p>
Catch Yourself Overthinking<p>Reuben Berger, a psychotherapist at the university hospital in the western German city of Bonn, recommends several practical steps that you could employ in your daily routine when you catch yourself worrying or ruminating.</p><p>One effective remedy, says Berger, is the <a href="https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uf9938" target="_blank">thought-stopping technique.</a></p><p>"When the negative thoughts come or ruminations start, you say to yourself: 'Stop!,'" he says, adding that it is more effective when you actually say the word out loud.</p><p>He even recommends having a rubber band around your wrist to ping against yourself while saying the word. Adding a visual component by imagining a stop sign also makes the technique more powerful, he says.</p><p>The main idea here is conditioning yourself to stop the loop of worrying (making future predictions) or rumination (obsessing over past events).</p><p>Berger says the technique could take up to two weeks to take effect and that it needs to be practiced every day. "Consistency is very important," he says. </p>
Thoughts Are Just Thoughts<p>Another way of dealing with negative thoughts often used in modern therapy is realizing that thoughts aren't facts, says Berger.</p><p>He says it is important when we think something to ask: Is that real? Did that really happen? What is the worst thing that could happen?</p><p>Flight anxiety is one example where untrue thoughts are accepted as facts. Although air travel is the safest way to get around, people suffering from fear of flying accept their thoughts and fears as reality, then act upon them by refusing to fly.</p>
Mindfulness<p>Berger also recommends the use of mindfulness techniques, in which attention is paid to experiences in the moment without judging them, as a way of reducing worrying.</p><p>"Mindfulness helps you to distance yourself from your thoughts and to be more present in the moment," he says.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3432145/#R2" target="_blank">Several studies</a> have shown that mindfulness has a positive impact on reducing stress-related behaviors such as rumination and worrying, as focusing on the moment makes anxiety about other problems impossible.</p><p>Mindfulness can be practiced during routine activities by paying attention to your body and your surroundings. For instance, when you leave for work in the morning, you can focus on sensing the breeze, listen attentively to birds, feel the gravel under your feet and monitor your breath. </p>
Trick Your Brain Into Happiness<p>People plagued by obsessive thoughts do not always choose healthy ways like mindfulness to distract from them, however.</p><p> Dr. Edward Selby, a psychologist at Florida state university, has shown in a study that people try to avoid rumination by engaging in a range of uncontrolled behaviors, such as binge eating and substance abuse.</p><p>But he says that a much better way to overcome such distress is by distraction and shifting attention away from problems that are obsessing us.</p><p>There are many activities that can be used to distract from rumination, he says, and people should choose the one that works best for them. Here are some examples:</p><p>- Listen to music</p><p>- Read a book</p><p>- Take a hot shower</p><p>- Dance or exercise </p><p>- Talk to a friend (not about the problem)</p><p>- Watch a movie</p><p>- Mindfulness meditation</p>
Changing the Perception of Events<p>The way people perceive a situation largely influences their emotions and behavior. It is not the situation itself that determines how they feel, but rather the way they interpret it.</p><p>Reframing negative thoughts can lead to positive emotions and, subsequently, healthier behaviors — including a reduction in damaging overthinking and worrying.</p><p>Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is currently a gold standard in psychotherapy. CBT aims to change the way people think and act. It largely involves challenging unhelpful beliefs or attitudes such as overgeneralization — thinking "I always fail at public speaking" when you have had one bad experience in front of an audience, for example — or "catastrophization," i.e., imagining the worst possible outcome to a situation. </p><p>A psychotherapist can teach people how to implement such thought-changing techniques into their lives. Techniques vary depending on their issues and goals.</p>
Solutions Are at Hand<p>Try to find ways of avoiding worrying, rumination and overthinking that make you feel most comfortable.</p><p>Incorporating any routine in your life when you're stressed isn't an easy task, but you can do it! If you feel overwhelmed, you can always seek professional help. </p><p><em>If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, <a href="https://www.befrienders.org/" target="_blank">at this website.</a></em></p>
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