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2.28.2011

Say Yes to Chickens

Times & Transcript Editorial February 28, 2011

It's rare that politicians have a chance to do a deed most fowl and be praised, but Moncton City Council is being asked to create a bylaw allowing the raising of up to four egg-laying hens in what would be backyard mini-farms. And it is a great idea, good for the environment, good for sustainability in an uncertain future and good for people's food budgets. Moreover, a year-long test run of just such a backyard chicken coop has proven highly successful, producing no complaints and no problems. It's an idea whose time has come. And while naysayers can undoubtedly paint all kinds of potential scenarios to scare not-in-my-backyard types, the reality elsewhere and with our experiment is innocuous. Of course, council must ensure that such 'urban farms' do not include pigs, cows and elephants. Even in the bird world, peacocks screech, emus can escape to chase kids and turkey vultures would probably eat the chickens. Common sense must be applied, but Post Carbon Greater Moncton backing the idea knows that, proposing a ban on roosters.

2.25.2011

Cities urged to get cracking on chicken bylaw

Source: Times & Transcript, February 25, 2011

A report on the province's first-ever urban farm urges cities to get cracking on a bylaw to allow chickens in suburban backyards.

Post Carbon Greater Moncton has released a glowing report on the egg-producing hens roosting in the Hub City's core one year after Moncton's planning commission granted the request for a temporary permit to run an experimental urban farm.

The community group's pilot project now hopes to hatch a bylaw allowing chickens in city neighbourhoods, producing fresh and chemical-free eggs.

"We're making a number of quite detailed recommendations in terms of what would need to happen," said Michel Desjardins, a member of Post Carbon Greater Moncton. "We are by no means recommending a free-for-all.

"This activity must be regulated."

The project converted an urban residential property into a small-scale farm, including four egg-laying hens that produced roughly two dozen eggs per week.

The report concludes that urban agriculture is an effective way to increase food security and enhance self-sufficiency in the province's cities.

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2.24.2011

Urban Farming: a seed is planted in Moncton

(Moncton, February 24, 2011) – Urban agriculture is an effective way to increase food security and enhance self-sufficiency in the Greater Moncton. That is the central conclusion of a pilot project conducted over a one year period by Post Carbon Greater Moncton, a local group that aims to help the community reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. The project involved converting an urban residential property into a small-scale farm, including the keeping of 4 egg-laying hens.

According to Michel Desjardins, spokesperson for Post Carbon Greater Moncton, the pilot project is one more step towards more self-sufficiency and food security in the region. “We think food security and self-sufficiency will be huge issues in the future. This pilot project is one of a broad range of public policy initiatives that cities can adopt to enhance our food sovereignty” he said.

In its report, the group says there are many reasons why city dwellers want to consider urban farming. An increasing number of people want to know where their food comes from and want to produce their own. Others want to mitigate risks associated with higher food prices in the future, a direct consequence of higher energy prices. Finally, some worry about the impact of the modern agri-food industry on the environment.

While citizens in the region have long been involved in small-scale gardening or even community gardening, what has gained a lot of attention recently throughout North America are urban chickens. Today, urban chickens are allowed in unexpected places like New York City, Oakland, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Seattle and Portland, Ore. In Canada, Niagara Falls, Brampton, Guelph, Vancouver, Victoria and Surrey allow backyard chickens in one form or another.

The urban farm was run by Anne-Marie Laroche and Isabelle Pineault in one of Moncton’s residential neighborhoods. “From our point of view, the project has been extremely positive. On average, the four hens produced 3.3 eggs per day, which represents almost 2 dozens eggs per week,” said Anne-Marie Laroche.

The group says the neighbors, who all gave their consent at the beginning of the project and were consulted through an independent survey at the end, also considered the project very successful.

The survey has revealed that the neighbors have noticed no unusual noises or odors that could be attributable to the pilot project.

The group goes on to recommend a new bylaw to regulate urban chickens, including a limit of 4 chickens and a ban on roosters. “Keeping any kind of animal is an important responsibility and the activity should be carefully regulated. In our report, we are putting forward many recommendations in this regard,” said
Michel Desjardins.

2.15.2011

Exxon Struggles to Find Oil

Source: Wall Street Journal, Feb 1, 2011

HOUSTON—Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, is struggling to find oil.

Instead, it is stocking up on natural gas, mostly through its acquisition of XTO Energy Inc. last year, according to an annual financial report by Exxon on Tuesday. This shift toward gas is troubling some investors, since gas sells for less than the equivalent amount of oil and companies are finding a lot of gas, putting downward pressure on prices.

Also, Exxon's sheer size has become an issue with investors. It pumps out of the earth the oil and gas equivalent of 1.6 billion barrels of oil each year. And finding a new barrel in the earth for every one it produces—a 100% reserve replacement rate—has become extraordinarily tough. Exxon boasted this was the 17th consecutive year of hitting this mark, but analysts agree that without the XTO deal, Exxon would have fallen far short this year.

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Rising food prices push 44 million into poverty: World Bank

Source: Reuters

Rising global food prices has pushed an estimated 44 million more people into extreme poverty in developing countries over the past eight months, the World Bank said Tuesday.

The poverty-fighting institution said its food price index increased by 15 per cent between October, 2010, and January, 2011, and is just 3 per cent below its 2008 peak during the last food price crisis.

But unlike during the 2007-2008 food crisis, higher prices have not yet affected all regions of the world.

Across Asia and in some parts of Latin America and Eastern Europe countries, costlier food is pushing up inflation pressures, while good harvests of staple foods in Sub-Saharan Africa has so far spared that region from rising prices.

“Higher maize, sugar, and oil prices have contributed to increase the costs of various types of food, though local maize prices have largely been stable in sub-Saharan Africa,” the World Bank said in an updated Food Price Watch report.

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2.08.2011

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices

US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%.

The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their Opec cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand.

However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco's 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached.

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2.02.2011

Some 43 Million Americans Use Food Stamps

Source: Wall Street Journal, Feb 1, 2011

Nearly a year and a half into the economic recovery, some 43.6 million Americans continued to rely on food stamps in November.

More than 14% of the population drew food stamps in November to purchase groceries as high unemployment and muted wage growth crimped budgets. The number of recipients was up 0.9% from October, according to the new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Compared to a year ago, the number of people receiving food stamps was up 14.2%.

In both Washington, D.C. and Mississippi more than a fifth of residents received food stamps — the highest recipiency rates of any state.

But demand has grown stronger in the past year in a handful of other states that recorded significant increases on a per capita basis.

In New Mexico, 19.4% of the population tapped into food stamps. That’s up 3.2 percentage points from the same month a year ago, the largest increase for any state. Idaho reported a similar jump: 14% of residents received food stamps, up 3.1 points from a year ago. Washington, D.C., Florida, Delaware and Texas all experienced similar year over year increases.

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