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Agriculture

Washington Ecology shakes up dairy regulation

The Washington Department of Ecology’s rules could keep dairies out of court, but the costs for farmers are uncertain. New rules issued by the Washington Department of Ecology on Wednesday will change the regulatory landscape for the state’s 230 dairies with more than 200 cows. Embracing the rules may shield dairies from government fines or lawsuits by environmental groups, but will mean taking on new obligations with uncertain costs.

Specialty crop success relies on labor

Without a stable, legal workforce to pick their fruit, the future of Sirles’ Rendleman Orchards in Alto Pass — and many other orchards — is in danger. “We need help to harvest our crops. It is a huge issue for specialty growers,” Sirles said at the recent Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference in Springfield. Rendleman Orchards has been in business for almost a 150 years, but it may have to reduce the size of its operation to keep going if family members can’t find workers. “Our biggest limitation is labor. It’s expensive and restrictive,” Sirles explained.

Radical farmers are expanding agriculture’s political and economic philosophy

In recent years, a global network of alternative farms have pushed the edges of Western society’s “natural food” obsession by incorporating elements of environmental justice, climate activism, and urban planning.  They include the creation of seedbanks to help hedge against the spread of habitat destruction and impoverished sharecropping communities reclaiming land from corporate control to provide living-wage jobs in farm cooperatives and a more diverse, healthier vegetable selection than the dominant monocultures crowding the cereal aisle.

Hormel, Maschhoffs launch probes after hog farm video release

“The Maschhoffs has a zero-tolerance policy for any abuse or mistreatment of its pigs,” the company said in a statement. The company added that it is reinforcing the animal care policy with its employees and production partners, in addition to making sure that “every farm manager” reviews the video and “fully understands the responsibility that comes with proper animal care.” For its part, Hormel released a statement suspending all of the Oklahoma sow operations of the Maschhoffs until “a thorough investigation” is completed.

The Outlook for the Big Six Becoming the Big Three

Syngenta-ChemChina; Dow-Dupont; Bayer-Monsanto. Three agribusiness mega-mergers are streaking for the goal line in 2017. The only obstacles for these combinations are U.S. and European Union regulators. Will any (or all) of them make it past these watch dogs? Farmers have been wary of these mergers, fearful of paying higher prices for seeds and chemicals. Supporters of the deals cite the staggering research, development and regulatory-approval costs of bringing products to the agricultural market.

Hormel, Maschhoffs launch probes after hog farm video release

An investigation is already under way after this morning’s release of an undercover video from the activist group Mercy for Animals alleging abuse at a pig farm that supplies Hormel Foods Corp. The Maschhoffs LLC – one of the nation’s largest pork producers – announced on the company’s website that it is looking into “any animal care deficiencies” in light of the video, which the group said was filmed at a farm in Oklahoma. According to Mercy for Animals, the video shows animals being mistreated.

Michael Scuse confirmed as Secretary of Delaware Department of Agriculture

Michael Scuse was confirmed as Secretary of the Delaware Department of Agriculture, an agency that promotes and supports Delaware’s agricultural industry, oversees food inspection services to protect Delaware consumers, ensures agricultural compliance statewide, and helps conserve forest resources. Scuse has served as the Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture since March 2016, helping support the national agricultural industry, promote vibrant rural communities, and open new markets for America’s farmers.

Food companies ranked on animal welfare

Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of companies have published farm animal welfare policies, up from 46 percent in 2012, according to the findings compiled by Compassion in World Farming, World Animal Protection and investment firm Coller Capital. Cargill and McDonald’s Corp. were among companies that received a Tier 2 ranking for making animal welfare integral to their business strategy. Tier 3 companies that have established policies but still have work to be done included Hormel Foods, JBS, Subway, Sysco Corp., Tyson Foods, Walmart and Wendy’s.

Closed-loop concept could be the future of sustainable animal farms

Dr. Eunsung Kan sees his concept of a closed-loop dairy farm, which reuses wastewater, emits zero waste and powers itself on manure, as the future of sustainable animal farming. Kan's research would utilize existing technology – biochar, a carbon material similar to charcoal, created from and agricultural waste, such as corn stubble or rice straw – that would be used to filter solid waste and effluent.

Meat processing feasibility study shows insufficient volumes for new facility

A study initiated to assess the feasibility of a new multi-species processing facility in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula determined demand was insufficient to support a new facility, but did find a clear need for increased slaughter and processing capacity in the region.  The research team concluded that targeted initiatives could increase the region’s capacity and throughput by nurturing incremental growth in production, processing and demand.  As a result of input received from producers and buyers, a group of stakeholders applied for and received a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rura

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