6月17日，《上海日报》刊登了新华社的英文深度报道，题为《洪灾与美中贸易争端给美国中西部农民带来灾难》（Midwest farmers devastated by historic floods, ongoing US-China trade tensions）。文章客观反映了自然灾害与贸易争端，尤其是后者给美国农民带来的灾难。文章提到，自今年3月底以来，美国中西部地区连绵不绝的水患让当地的农民叫苦不迭。密苏里农会会长布莱克·赫斯特表示，如此大范围、席卷整个中西部地区的严重洪灾，在他40多年务农的记忆中未曾有过。除了天灾，美国政府挑起的对华贸易争端更加剧了美国中西部农民的困境。贸易争端造成美国对华大豆出口大幅下降，大豆价格走低，农民收入大打折扣，不少农民面临经济困难。虽然美国政府去年和今年分别推出120亿美元和160亿美元的对农民损失的补贴援助计划，但受灾的农民对记者表示，比起补贴，他们更想要的是稳定的市场。
Q1: Tracing back to the very beginning of the food chain (such as the producing area/the food processing company), where do you think YOUR last supper come from?
文章发表后不久，《上海日报》收到了美国艾奥瓦州前众议员格雷 库萨克（Greg Cusack）的来信。库萨克在来信中开门见山地说：“太多美国农民不高兴，而且随着争端持久化，更多人对未来感到困惑。”
I totally have forgotten what it was... Now I'm having Vietnamese food. Fried rice absolutely comes from rice but as the author writes the oil maybe extracted from corn... Luckily the vegetables have to do with corn!
Q2: How does the author connect chicken nugget with corn?
Well though the chicken may not have any ralations with corn, the flour that attached to thechicken may be corn flour. The chicken perhaps is glued together by corn starch and then gets fried by corn oil!
That's how the author tries to connect chicken nugget with corn
#Week1# Today's reading task is Chapter Two The Farm
Question 1: Since 1920s, the yields of corn have raised from about 20 bushels per acre to almost 200 bushels per acre. Why or how are the yields able to increase so much?
Years ago, in order not to ruin the land, farmers plant corn and soybean in turns. But in modern times, with synthetic fertilizer being used to the land, farmers no longer have to consider the ability of the land.
Question 2: Where does the excessive fertilizer end up?
《上海日报》刊登报道及格雷 库萨克（Greg Cusack）来信原文如下：
Midwest farmers devastated by historic floods, ongoing US-China trade tensions
在这一章里，作者Pollan深入一个玉米地，和农民大叔George naylor聊天，了解玉米的历史，即玉米是如何在corn belt泛滥起来的。从中大家注意去发现，一个农作物，在什么力量下，产量在短短几十年翻了100倍！而且这样的疯狂增产，既不符合the rule of nature, 也不符合the rule of economics, 它为什么会存在？
#Week1# Today we’ll have a rather easy reading: Chapter Three The Elevator .
About 10 days after the latest round of rainfall, half of Tom Waters’ farmland is still under water. “Some of it’s flooded from the river. Some of it’s flooded from seep water. Some of it just rain water that has nowhere else to go because it won’t drain,” said the seventh-generation farmer.
In this Chapter, Pollan depicts what the grain elevators are like, and the possible manipulating forces behinds those “giant barns”.
Waters and his family farm about 3,500 acres (1,416 hectares) of land in Orrick, Missouri, a small town east of Kansas City. Among his nearly 1,700-acre rain-soaked fields, 900 acres were swallowed by the surging Missouri River when a levee broke on June 1 and are still up to 4.5 meters below water.
Question 1: How does the government manage to keep corn production high and corn prices low?
He had planted a few acres of corn, with the rest intended for soybeans, but “it’s just gone now,” Waters told Xinhua, estimating the loss to be “several hundred thousand dollars.”
The goverment give subsidy to farmers when the balance of supply and demand of corn breaks. SO no matter how low the price of corn is, farmers have to make more yields to earn more. This is a strange thing, you spend more money planting the corn than just but it.
When the flood hit, Waters had to move out some 60,000 bushels (1,633 tons) of soybeans in storage, and sold them at “a pretty low price,” about US$3 a bushel off the normal price prior to the US-China trade tensions. “That’s a lot of dollars difference for us,” he said.
#Week1# Today’s reading task is Chapter Four The Feedlot.
“This has just been rain after rain. Before it even dries out it rains again. It’s been week after week after week like that,” said Waters, who has been farming for over 40 years in this area, adding that the persistent wet weather is a “very rare event.”
In this chapter, Pollan traces the life of a steer (牛) from its birth place to its feedlot. It used to take a cattle 4-5 years to get slaughtered, but now the growing time has been compressed to 16 months. In this highly unnatural process, something wrong must ensue.
Noting that reservoirs up in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota still have too much water to dump, the seasoned farmer worried that “the river is going to be high all the rest of spring and through summer, so chances are we won’t get any of this (flooded land) planted this year.”
Question 1: What problems do cattle have when their staple food is corn?
Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, also a corn and soybean farmer in Tarkio, northwest Missouri, told Xinhua that he saw similarly catastrophic floods in this area in 1993, but such a widespread severe flooding throughout the Midwest is the worst he can remember. “The last 12 months, in the center part of the United States, have been the wettest 12 months on record,” said Hurst, who has about 500 acres of land under water, noting that the relentless rain since late March has contributed to significant planting delays.
They were born to eat grass not corn. But it takes more time and it is harder to digest. So the cattle gets fat really fast and easily gets sick.
In the biggest corn-producing states, farmers had planted 83 percent of corn acreage by June 9, compared with a five-year average of 99 percent, according to the latest data from the US Department of Agriculture .
Question 2: What risks can human have if people do not properly dispose the feedlot wastes?
Hurst, who also has 40-plus years of farming experience, said corn should ideally be planted by the first week of May, and a one-month delay could cut the normal yield by roughly 20 percent, as there might not be enough time for it to mature before the frost hits the ground. The seemingly relentless rain in the Midwest has left farmers drowning in frustration. On top of that, many growers have been bearing the brunt of the US-initiated trade dispute with China, struggling with financial hardship and facing an uncertain future.
“We’ve seen a big cut in our exports to China because of the trade tension, and that’s caused prices to drop,” Hurst said, adding that several months of trade frictions have “made a big difference” to farmers’ income.
Question 3: After reading this chapter, do you want to eat industrial meat anymore?
Noting that the United States has had five years of above average crop yields, Hurst said that already led to an oversupply. A decline in exports to China, caused by the trade tensions and compounded by the African swine fever outbreak, has worsened the situation, he said.
Not anymore. I feel sad about everything.
‘Not a dependable supplier’
When you read this chapter, did you find Pollan’s language humorous, with a sense of pathetic irony? That’s what I like about reading Pollan’s works. Here are some of the phrases/lines I find interesting:
“It’s just a combination of all of them that has really made farming kind of difficult this year,” Hurst said. “It just keeps on and coming.”
The urbanization of modern animals
An arsenal of new drugs
Eating industrial meat takes an almost heroic act of not knowing or, now, forgetting.
“You are what you eat” is a truism hard to argue with, and yet it is, as a visit to a feedlot suggests, incomplete, for you are what what your eat eats, too. And what we are, or have become, is not just meat but number 2 corn and oil.
For Waters, a combination of circumstances has made planning nearly impossible. “I think this has been the hardest year to make decisions for me since I’ve been farming,” he said.
Waters said it has been stressful to wait for a resolution to the trade dispute. “You keep thinking, well maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, then you hear a little bit of good news and maybe the price bumps up a little bit and then that blows up and it goes back down. So it’s just been difficult,” he said. Hurst, who farms 6,000 acres of land with his family, usually plants corns on half of the acreage and soybeans on the other half. Earlier this year, he had planned to plant 5 to 10 percent more corn because of the trade dispute and lower demand for soybeans. The unusual wet spring, however, makes that goal unfeasible.
“Now, anybody that’s shifting will shift to soybean simply because it’s too late for corn,” Hurst said, adding that if soybeans don’t get planted by this week, farmers will start to lose yield as well.
However, the USDA data shows that growers in the major soybean-producing states had only planted 60 percent of acreage by June 9, far below a five-year average of 88 percent. Speaking of the newly approved disaster relief bill and the new round of trade aid package, Hurst urged the administration to announce detailed rules of these programs quickly so that farmers can better plan.
Noting that it took Congress months to pass the disaster relief bill, Waters said he doesn’t expect to receive any money until weeks later. Still, he prefers a stable market rather than a trade aid package. “The question has to be, are we losing these markets permanently?” Hurst said, noting that trade tensions in some ways make the United States “not a dependable supplier” for soybeans.
“Obviously we’re going to put tariffs on you. We’re going to announce tariffs in a tweet. So they can happen at any time. So if I’m a grain buyer anywhere in the world, I’m looking for a supplier I can trust, and we’re no longer that supplier,” he said. “We’ll be paying for this for years.”
The authors are Xinhua writers.
Media role in informing US farmers
I wrote this after reading “Midwest farmers devastated by historic floods, ongoing US-China trade tensions” in the Shanghai Daily . One heck of a lot of farmers in America are not happy, and an even greater number are very worried about how this will all play out, especially the longer the stand-off continues.
The age of the average farmer continues to increase, the prices they receive for their crops are stagnant, the costs of the inputs nonetheless are increasing, and corporate mono-crop “farming” is harming land, air, and water (the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is larger than ever).
So, are they just stupid, misinformed, or what?
I think the problem is really the vast division in our country caused by the culture wars — the real, but deliberately exaggerated, tensions between generations, the urban-rural divide, the skillful way the Republicans keep single-issue politics picked raw, and the marked decline in rural districts that are Democratic leaning. In a sense, many farmers thus believe that they have nowhere else to go.
The Democratic candidates have yet to produce, at least to my knowledge, anything that could remotely be described as a farm or rural program package, making the situation even more dire.
I think the wide range of concerns covered by the Shanghai Daily is truly remarkable, and I hope that despite current tensions you will continue to cover matters in the US, including the many indicators that we are a society in deep trouble: such as levels of student debt after graduation, still largely stagnant wages, the ongoing widening disparity of wealth and the genuine plight of rural America. In contrast, newspapers in the US are not doing so well. The Oregonian, the newspaper published in Portland and its metro area of a few million, is nothing like what it was in the recent past.
They now deliver paper editions to subscribers only four days a week, expecting that on other days people will use their digital apps to access them. And their national, let alone international, coverage is insufficient to provide the information even half-informed citizens need.
The author is a retired US statesman. He now lives in Oregon.
《上海日报》刊登报道中文及格雷 库萨克（Greg Cusack）来信文章中译版如下：