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Agriculture

Microscopic Peptide Polymers Kill Drug Resistant Bacteria Without Any Drugs

Drug resistant bacteria is showing its face around the world and causing worry that the golden age of antibiotics is coming to a close. At the University of Melbourne in Australia researchers have been working on something called structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers (SNAPPs), tiny microscopic devices that are able to damage bacterial walls without using any drugs.

Will it work to pay farmers to sequester carbon?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association and its Soil Health Partnership a $1 million Conservation Innovation Grant to help farmers better understand and adopt farming practices that help reduce climate change impacts.

New Technology Spurs Consolidation in Seed Industry

The upper echelons of America’s modern agricultural prowess are betting that massive mergers will allow it to seize powerful new gene editing technologies to fuel much needed growth.  All but one of the “Big Six” seed and agrotechnology companies, including number one ranked Monsanto Co., saw revenue declines in 2015. Farmers are buying less seed and fewer chemicals as U.S. farm income has plummeted 30 percent from a 2013 high. Mounting pest and weed resistance to genetically engineered (GE) seeds has also begun to worry farmers, as crop yields have begun to flatline in the last few years.

Canada:Proposed Bill C-246 Could Criminalize Routine Livestock Agriculture Practices

A private member’s bill entitled the “Modernizing Animal Protections Act” will receive second reading on September 28, 2016. While the off-the-hop goals of avoiding shark harvesting in Canadian waters and shutting down puppy mills seem in line with the title, the bill, put forward by Liberal MP for Beaches-East York Nathaniel Erksine-Smith, goes much further than that.  Bill C-246 leaves enough to translation that it could, potentially, criminalize not just livestock agriculture, but hunting and fishing as well.

Ag Secretary, NPPC Agree $150 Million Not Enough for FMD Vaccine Bank

The U.S. pork industry wants Congress to fully fund a foot and mouth disease vaccine bank in the next farm bill. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Senate Ag Committee last week it would take more than the $150 million livestock groups want for the bank. National Pork Producers Council President John Weber agrees with that assessment and says while they projected $150 million over five years, the U.S. livestock industry is not prepared for any possible FMD outbreak. He says the two foreign laboratories the U.S. could source vaccine from are getting high demand from other countries.

Dairy Sheep Research Coming To An End In Spooner

David Thomas is looking over his life's work at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station in northern Wisconsin. After 26 years with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the professor of sheep genetics and management is retiring and the research station's dairy sheep program is going along with him.  The university's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences decided to end the program after being dealt a nearly $3 million cut as part of reductions in state funding to UW System.The Spooner Ag Station has been home to the only land-grant university in the nation researching dairy sheep.

The science doesn't warrant banning gmo crops in Sonoma County

Eleven years ago, voters were at the center of a food fight over whether genetically engineered crops should be banned in Sonoma County. Proponents sought to scare voters with claims that GMO foods jeopardized the health of children while opponents argued that, given how the ballot measure, Measure M, was worded, it put children at risk by preventing common vaccinations.

Puerto Rico finds unexpected source of growth in agriculture

Puerto Ricans are buying rice produced on the island for the first time in nearly 30 years. They are also eating locally grown mushrooms, kale and even arugula, along with more traditional crops such as plantains and pineapples.  The U.S.

Massachusetts Launches $1 Million Loan Fund To Aid Farmers Affected By Drought

Up to $1 million in micro-loans will now be available to Massachusetts farmers struggling under the impacts of a widespread and historic drought. The launch of the Drought Emergency Loan Fund, announced Wednesday, is one of a series of steps Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration are taking in response to five months of abnormally dry weather.

Minnesota to open new Bee, Pollinator Research Lab

To find solutions to protect bees and pollinators and also food supplies and human health, the U of M has built a new state-of-the-art Bee and Pollinator Research Lab on the St. Paul campus that opens in October. Two-thirds of the nearly $5 million cost was covered by state-funded bonding, with the balance coming from private gifts and donations. Mann Lake Ltd. is one of several major private funders of the Bee Lab.

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