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Agriculture

Land Wealth Plugs the Profit Gap

U.S. farmland is the savings account that is propping up ag borrowers today. Its stability is the mitigating factor keeping both borrowers and farm lenders in relatively good standing despite three back-to-back years of negative farm incomes, a growing number of ag economists and lenders say.  While some land experts forecast as much as a 25% to 30% drop from recent peak land values, most doubt a correction of that size would cause the kind of contagion that infected the farm economy in the 1980s.

How the vegan movement broke out of its echo chamber and finally started disrupting things

The American vegan movement was always its own worst enemy.  Members of the movement made their first impressions bellowing into bullhorns, desperate to make a difference by willing it with a loud enough voice. But actual engagement was a weakness as people tended to ignore the passionate subculture with a rigid gospel prohibiting use of any and all animal products. For the most part, the only marks left by their efforts throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s were those scuffed into their shoes as police officers dragged them off the streets.  And then, with little warning, something changed.

DNA evidence from 5,310-year-old corn cob fills gaps in history

Researchers who have sequenced the genome of a 5,310-year-old corn cob have discovered that the maize grown in central Mexico all those years ago was genetically more similar to modern maize than to its wild ancestor. For example, the ancient maize already carried genetic variants responsible for making kernels soft, a common feature of modern corn.

A record September for Colorado’s marijuana shops

The streak continues for the Colorado cannabis industry.  Colorado marijuana shops in September reeled in $127.8 million in sales of medical and recreational cannabis, notching a new revenue record for the third consecutive month, according to newly released data from the Colorado Department of Revenue.  So far this year, sales have topped $974.3 million in nine months, about $22 million shy of the $996.2 million revenue totaled for the entirety of 2015.

SD cattle producers and sales barns working to avoid what happened to state’s sheep industry

South Dakota’s sheep population peaked in 1943 at 2.4 million head. Now there are only 255,000 sheep in the state, a 89 percent drop, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s South Dakota office of ag statistics.The reasons for the decrease are several, but key ones have to do with U.S. trade policies that have given other countries more access to America’s meat-loving consumers, says Bryan Hanson.

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Grants New Innovator Award to Nine Early Career Scientists

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit organization that supports innovative science addressing food and agriculture challenges, today announced the first New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award recipients.  The nine New Innovators will receive a total of $4.8 million over five years. Matching funds from each awardee’s respective institution will leverage the Foundation’s investment of up to $300,000 per recipient.

R.I. farmers and food producers get free legal help

Susan Sosnowski is a state senator, but she is also a farmer who grows vegetables and raises sheep and turkeys on 60 acres in West Kingston. So she understands the need for farmers to get legal advice on everything from contracts to licensing to estate planning, and she also understands how hard it can be for them to cover that expense.  “We often run on such thin financial margins that there isn’t extra funding to pay for attorneys,” said Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown, New Shoreham, the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture.

Iowa farm to be replicated in China

Midwestern American agricultural practices will be showcased in China at an Iowa demonstration farm set to be built starting next year.  The farm in Hebei Province will be modeled after one operated by Rick and Martha Kimberley, who live near Maxwell, about 25 miles northeast of Des Moines. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Kimberley farmstead in 2012. Then China's vice president, he met with friends he made in Iowa in 1985 while he was a Hebei Province party official and director of the Feed Association of Shijiazhuang Prefecture.

Bacterial Imbalances Can Mean Bad News for Honeybees

A team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators have established a strong link between honey bee health and the effects of diet on bacteria that live in the guts of these important insect pollinators. In a study published in the November issue of Molecular Ecology, the team fed caged honey bees one of four diets: fresh pollen, aged pollen, fresh supplements, and aged supplements.

Prison for woman who helped Michigan farms get illegal labor

A woman who illegally helped immigrants work at dairy farms in Michigan's Thumb region was sentenced Wednesday to two years and three months in federal prison. In her plea deal, Yolanda Stewart admitted that she conspired with farms for years. She said she enabled at least 10 farms, especially in Huron and Tuscola counties, to benefit from the labor of more than 100 people who were in the U.S. illegally. Defense attorney Paul Beggs said the 60-year-old Marlette woman regrets her actions. But he called it a stiff sentence for "something so many people do." "She's Hispanic. She's a U.S.

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