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Agriculture

Study rewrites the history of corn in corn country

A new study contradicts decades of thought, research and teaching on the history of corn cultivation in the American Bottom, a floodplain of the Mississippi River in Illinois. The study refutes the notion that Indian corn, or maize, was cultivated in this region hundreds of years before its widespread adoption at about 1000 A.D.

Farmers need seasonal workers — and an immigration solution

Agricultural labor is not just an issue for farmers. For every job on the farm, there are two to three more supported in transportation, food processing, equipment and supply manufacturing, sales and marketing, and other fields beyond rural farm communities. The ongoing shortage of available seasonal farm labor and the uncertainty related to the legal status of the existing workforce has prompted many growers to attempt to use a federal temporary guest-worker visa program for agriculture, known as H-2A.

State Fair of Texas to give Dallas $6 million for improvements at Fair Park

State Fair officials on Friday announced they would give the city a minimum of $6 million to fix up Fair Park. The funds, which the State Fair is contractually obligated to use on such improvements, are an increase over last year's total.  But the announcement coincided with increasing scrutiny of the State Fair's finances and whether the 24-day festivities make for a bad neighbor to the impoverished residents who surround the 277-acre city-owned park.

Beekeeper develops ‘smart bee’ winter storage system

Designing “smart bee storage” to revolutionize the industry has been a labor of love for Israel Bravo for the past 15 years – and it appears it’s an idea whose time has come, given the success of a prototype facility this winter.  Bravo had looked far and wide to find a system that could dependably control the climate in a storage facility to keep bees healthy during their winter reprieve from pollinating crops and producing honey for human consumption.  He finally found it in the expertise at Agri-Stor, a Twin Falls company that has been designing potato cellars for 60 years.

HSUS teaming with company to screen companies for aniaml welfare

Teaming with the Humane Society of the United States, Folio can now screen out companies involved with factory farms, which have come under increasing criticism from animal rights advocates for the overcrowding and mistreatment of their livestock.  “We are very interested in allowing people to invest in a way that alligns with their values,” said Greg Vigrass, president of Folio Institutional. “Working with filters for investments has always been in our DNA and we recently stepped up the commitment.”  The Humane Society maintains a list of firms that engage in factory farming.

Animal research saves human lives

A recent column (Dec. 19) denouncing the significance of biomedical research that uses animals and encouraging the University of Montana to abandon such projects was grossly misleading with respect to the true need and value of animals in research, including their treatment and care.

Is the chicken industry rigged?

Many industries, such as health care and retail, make use of information-sharing services, but Agri Stats provides chicken producers with a rare level of detail, in uncommonly timely fashion. The company’s reports, portions of which Bloomberg Businessweek reviewed, contain exhaustive data about the internal operations of the nation’s biggest poultry corporations, including bird sizes, product mixes, and financial returns at participating plants. According to a 2011 presentation prepared by Agri Stats, the company gathers information from more than 95 percent of U.S.

Bees, pesticides and the activist hive

A pesticides ban in Europe could soon be overturned on the grounds that it was based on unreliable data. Meanwhile, revelations that one of the scientists behind the ban was also involved with a nongovernmental organization that campaigns against pesticides continue to undermine the ban’s integrity.  Two European chemical companies, Bayer and Syngenta, appeared before the European Court of Justice this week to argue that the European Union should revoke a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. “Neonics,” as these sprays are known, were introduced in the 1990s as a safer, greener alternative.

Trouble on the horizon: Farmland values drop, debt increases

The value of farmland across the country continues to decline while credit remains tight for producers and net incomes fall. Low commodity prices, falling incomes, dropping land values and rising demand for credit are weighing down the nation’s agricultural producers, but Johansson told Agri-Pulse he will also be stressing to lawmakers that the farm economy is still strong when considered in a historical perspective.

North Dakota farm giant McM files for bankruptcy

One of North Dakota's largest high-value crop farms has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fargo.   McM, Inc., based in St. Thomas, N.D., north of Grand Forks, filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy. The farm is one of the largest farms of high-value specialty crops in the region, including about 39,000 acres, with about 2,000 acres of sugar beets and about 4,200 acres of non-irrigated potatoes in 2016.

 

 

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