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AgClips for December 21, 2017


Agclips for the week ending March 17, 2018

This Week's AgClips

Bill looks to legalize industrial hemp in Illinois

Illinois News | Posted on March 15, 2018 in SARL Members and Alumni News

Hemp could be in play as a new crop option for farmers in Illinois if a bill expanding its production passes the General Assembly. Bill Bodine, associate director of state legislation for the Illinois Farm Bureau, said Senate Bill 2298 would allow farmers to begin growing industrial hemp.“It is a bill that the Illinois Farm Bureau supports, though it is not our initiative,” Bodine said. “It would authorize the state Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp in the state of Illinois.”

Syngenta Agrees to Pay More Than $1.4 Billion in Corn Accord

Bloomberg | Posted on March 15, 2018 in Agriculture News

Syngenta AG agreed to pay more than $1.4 billion to U.S. farmers who complained that the marketing of the company’s genetically modified corn seeds shut them out of the Chinese market, according to people familiar with the deal. The settlement with more than 100,000 farmers was announced Tuesday in a Minnesota class-action trial. It resolves all farmers’ litigation in the U.S. but doesn’t include Canadian lawsuits, according to Paul Minehart, a Syngenta spokesman.

Michigan proposes partnership to help pay for new Asian carp controls

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 15, 2018 in SARL Members and Alumni News

Michigan has 3,000 miles of coastline and more Great Lakes water within its jurisdiction than any other state or province in the basin. But one of the big ecological threats to this freshwater system is well outside the state’s borders — in Illinois and Indiana, where invasive species of Asian carp would be most likely to enter the Great Lakes basin, via the Chicago Area Waterway System.Gov. Rick Snyder proposed that all of the Great Lakes states (along with Ontario) collectively pay for that $8 million in operations costs.

Obstacles to new NAFTA deal include process for resolving disputes, ‘rules of origin’ for autos

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 15, 2018 in Federal News

Negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the United States have begun their seventh round of discussions for a new, or modernized, North American Free Trade Agreement. And while the dissolution of NAFTA seemed very likely several months ago, negotiations are still alive. To this point, results of the trilateral discussions have been mixed — consensus on some changes, but continued disagreement on issues such as dispute resolution and “rules of origin” that could ultimately block a new deal from being reached.

Farm to pharma: This story at a glance

Stat News | Posted on March 15, 2018 in Agriculture News

On the night before his weekly trip into the slaughterhouse, Fraser Taylor stepped into the back of the truck to make sure everything was in place. The hold still smelled faintly of cow — a subtle whiff of something grassy — but the equipment inside seemed better suited to a day of spelunking through the sewers. There were hard hats and hoses and straps. There were huge conical tanks, and a valve-laden contraption that might come in handy for siphoning off the contents of pipes. The truck itself was white.

This 'acoustic lighthouse' could keep birds from killing themselves on wind turbines

Popular Science | Posted on March 15, 2018 in Energy News

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recently falsely claimed that wind turbines kill 750,000 birds each year. In actuality, wind turbines kill a little more than 350,000 birds annually — which is far fewer than cars, house cats, or plate-glass windows put to death. What’s the biggest threat to our flying friends? According to the Audubon Society, it’s climate change. The Acoustic Lighthouse generates a high-pitched sound that prompts birds to slow down.

Sixty-three aging 850-kilowatt turbines will be replaced by twenty-nine 2.6-megawatt turbines at wind site in Illinois

Green Tech Media | Posted on March 15, 2018 in Energy News

This might be the future of wind repowering in the United States. In a first-of-its-kind project, the owner of a pioneering Illinois wind farm will bring down an aging fleet of 15-year-old turbines in a process akin to trees being logged in a forest. The Mendota Hills site, in operation since 2003, was the first utility-scale wind farm in Illinois. The project owner, Dallas-based Leeward Renewable Energy, is replacing sixty-three 850-kilowatt Gamesa turbines with twenty-nine 2.6-megawatt turbines from Siemens Gamesa.

How Sensitive is the Farm Sector’s Ability to Repay Debt to Rising Interest Rates?

Choices magazine | Posted on March 15, 2018 in Agriculture News

Recent farm sector trends, including rising debt and declining income, have led to comparisons between agriculture’s current economic environment and the period leading up to the farm financial crisis. Between 1970 and 1980, inflation-adjusted farm sector debt grew rapidly, expanding by 5.6% annually. Over the most recent decade, inflation-adjusted farm sector debt was still climbing an average of 4% per year, and the USDA currently projects inflation-adjusted debt to be at its highest level since the early 1980s.

USDA Decides Not to Impose Additional Regulatory Requirements for Organic Producers and Handlers

USDA | Posted on March 14, 2018 in Federal News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule published on January 19, 2017. The rule would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers. The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018. Significant policy and legal issues were identified after the rule published in January 2017.

Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America

USDA | Posted on March 14, 2018 in Agriculture News

The Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America provides statistics by broad categories of socioeconomic factors: People: Demographic data from the American Community Survey (ACS), including age, race and ethnicity, migration and immigration, education, household size, and family composition.Jobs: Economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, including information on employment trends, unemployment, and industrial composition of employment from the ACS.County classifications: The rural-urban continuum, economic dependence, persistent poverty, persistent child poverty, popul

Low Milk Prices + Higher Labor Costs + Pricing System = Closing CNY Dairy Farms

Syracuse University | Posted on March 14, 2018 in Agriculture News

Central New York dairy farmers are facing such difficult times that they’re considering leaving the business altogether.  A combination of persistently low prices of milk and rising labor costs are forcing long-time farmers to make some tough decisions. John F.

House defeats ‘right-to-try’ legislation to allow expanded use of experimental drugs

The Washington Post | Posted on March 14, 2018 in Federal News

In a major setback for Republicans, the House rejected “right-to-try” legislation that would have allowed seriously ill patients to bypass the Food and Drug Administration to get access to experimental treatments. The vote came after a spirited debate in which GOP lawmakers portrayed the measure, which was strongly backed by President Trump and Vice President Pence, as a last chance at survival for desperately ill patients. Democrats said the bill would weaken critical FDA protections without addressing the fundamental obstacles to experimental drugs.

“Organic” doesn’t mean “small”

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 14, 2018 in Agriculture News

Not too long ago a press release from a big CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) called Natural Prairie Dairy crossed the desk of the Daily Yonder, proclaiming a new era for organic dairy production.  It offered “a 21st century farm (with) 21st century careers.” A 21st century farm with more than over 4,000 cows, that is. The dairy is proposing to build an operation in northwest Indiana with 4,350 cows. The farm will produce 26 million gallons of urine, manure, and dirty water, according to the Newtown County Enterprise. But don’t worry. The milk will be organic.

Food stamps fight threatens farm bill before it’s out of the gate

Politico | Posted on March 14, 2018 in Federal News

A fight over how tough to make work requirements in the food stamp program is already threatening to derail the House farm bill, which some see as one of the only shots for bipartisan legislation this year. Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee publicly revolted last week after learning that Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) was eyeing stricter work requirements for some 8 million recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, widely known as food stamps.

Iowa could support 45,700 livestock confinements, but should it?

Des Moines Register | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Agriculture News

Trent Thiele loves feeding and caring for the 3,400 pigs that live less than a half mile from his home. "I truly enjoy coming to work every morning.

China hog prices plunge after farm building boom

Reuters | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Agriculture News

Chinese pig prices hit their lowest in nearly four years this week, plunging farmers in the world’s top pork market into the red and underscoring concerns that a rapid expansion of large pig farms in China has outpaced slowing demand growth.

Brexit: Scotland and Wales face battle for fish and farm policy

The Guardian | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Federal News

The UK government has told Scottish and Welsh ministers they are likely to be barred from controlling policy in areas such as genetically modified crops, fishing quotas and farm payments after Brexit.

Feds tell student loan companies to ignore state authority

Santa Fe New Mexican | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Federal News

The U.S. Education Department issued guidance Friday informing state regulators to back off the companies managing its $1.3 trillion portfolio of student loans, arguing that only the federal government has the authority to oversee its contractors.“State regulation of the servicing of direct loans impedes uniquely federal interests,” the department wrote.

Poultry farms aren’t small independent businesses, says the agency that funds them

The New Food Economy | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Agriculture News

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on Tuesday announced in a new report that most chicken growers may no longer qualify as independent, small businesses. And that means they won’t qualify for small business loans. It’s a finding that could signal a significant loss in support: Between 2012 and 2016, SBA loaned about $1.8 billion to poultry growers. In 2016, poultry companies received more than three-quarters of all the SBA loans that went to agricultural businesses.

Oil and Corn Tout Dueling Studies on Future of U.S. Biofuel Program

US News and World Report | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Energy News

Big oil and big corn are touting opposing studies released this week on proposed biofuels policy reforms under consideration by the Trump administration, part of an ongoing clash between the two sides over the future of the program.Valero Energy Corp , a major oil refiner, funded a study by Charles River Associates that supports placing a cap on the price of biofuel blending credits under the U.S.

Bayer Feed A Bee program funds 20 new projects

PR Newswire | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Agriculture News

Less than one year after launching the Feed a Bee 50-state forage grant program, the Bayer Bee Care Program revealed the list of 20 new organizations that have received funding for important forage initiatives around the country, bringing the total number of projects funded to more than 100. After a rigorous review and evaluation process by the Feed a Bee steering committee, 20 organizations were chosen in the latest round of review to receive awards ranging from $1,000 - $5,000. This brings the total for the program to 112 funded projects in 39 states and Washington, D.C.

These senior EPA officials can now moonlight for secret private-sector clients

Environmental Defense Fund | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Federal News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an ethics waiver to one of Pruitt’s political appointees, John Konkus, to let him work for unknown outside private clients. These clients, and their political or commercial interests, won’t be divulged, raising troubling questions about possible conflicts of interest. He is now one of two employees in senior EPA leadership positions allowed to earn $135,000+ government salaries while also drawing paychecks from outside clients that may have a direct stake in EPA’s work.

Qatar Is Shipping In 3,000 Cows From California, Arizona and Wisconsin

Bloomberg | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Agriculture News

The nine-month Saudi-led embargo of Qatar has an undisputed mascot for Doha’s defiance: the cud-chewing American cow. Thousands of airlifted dairy cows landed in Qatar in the first months of the boycott that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt established against the country in June. The airborne bovines created a spectacle that highlighted the gas-rich sheikdom’s ability to overcome sanctions and provide fresh milk to its 2.7 million residents.The herd settled at Baladna Farms, 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Doha.

Texas A&M to build veterinary complex at West Texas A&M University

The Eagle | Posted on March 13, 2018 in News

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents approved a plan Thursday to build a $22.8 million veterinary education, research and workforce facility on the West Texas A&M University campus. While the Veterinary Education, Research & Outreach Center will be located on the campus in Canyon, it will be operated by the flagship Texas A&M University.

States consider blocking pesticides after EPA flips

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Agriculture, SARL Members and Alumni News

A month after Scott Pruitt began leading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the former Oklahoma attorney general rejected an Obama-era recommendation from agency scientists to ban a widely used pesticide from use on food crops. That means farmers can continue to spray chlorpyrifos on crops ranging from corn to cranberries. The change was welcomed by farm groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which said farmers need access to the chemical to stop infestations.

AtlantaFresh closes its doors after Whole Foods terminates 7-year contract, 14 months in: 'we were naive.."

Food Navigator | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Food News

Georgia-based grass-fed dairy brand AtlantaFresh hasclosed its doors after nine years in business following the abrupt termination of a contract withWhole Foods that accounted for the vast majority of its revenues.

Immigrants say working at Kansas ranch was 'like slavery'

Yahoo News | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Agriculture News

Immigrants working on a remote Kansas ranch toil long days in a type of servitude to work off loans from the company for the cost of smuggling them into the country, according to five people who worked there. There are no holidays, health insurance benefits or overtime pay at Fullmer Cattle Co., which raises calves for dairies in four states. The immigrants must buy their own safety gear such as goggles.One worker spent eight months cleaning out calf pens, laying down cement and doing other construction work. Esteban Cornejo, a Mexican citizen who is in the U.S.

Robotics companies look to fill gaps for struggling dairy farmers

edairynews | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Agriculture News

“Right now, some of the toughest we’ve had in my 35 years,” says Daniel Pearson, an organic dairy farmer in River Falls. “It’s definitely a time to more than tighten your belt, but really look at expenses and really look at doing as much as you can to market everything that you have.” Now, robotics companies are hoping to fill gaps in the industry. Pearson says the labor shortage and low milk prices are factors in the tough market. So how is the problem being addressed? Enter: farm robots.

Minn. bill would fine those passing off untrained pets as service animals

Minnesota Public Radio | Posted on March 13, 2018 in Rural, SARL Members and Alumni News

Minnesota lawmakers are considering bipartisan legislation that would criminalize taking an untrained service animal out in public.  Separate measures in the state House and Senate would make it a petty misdemeanor, punishable with a $100 fine, to pass off a pet as a trained assistance animal. Subsequent infractions would be considered misdemeanors under the bills. A growing number of states are cracking down on passing off pets as trained service animals. And high-profile incidents have brought public attention to the issue.