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Agriculture News

Ikea sets sustainability goals for chicken; pork, beef are next

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on January 11, 2018

Ikea Food Services AB introduced the Better Chicken Program, which sets criteria for broiler chicken housing, breeds and antibiotics use for its chicken suppliers with an eye toward expanding to pork and beef suppliers by 2025.   Through the Better Chicken Program, Ikea Food aims to ensure broiler chickens are raised in accordance with criteria including space, lighting, enrichment and breeds with improved health outcomes. The program works toward responsible use of antibiotics and addresses environmental impacts such as deforestation and pollution from manure.

Ninth Circuit Upholds Major Components of Idaho "Ag-Gag" Law

Ag Web | Posted on January 11, 2018

Last week, many news outlets ran with the “ag-gag gets gagged” headline in describing the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Wasden, which scrutinized a bevy of animal rights activists’ First Amendment claims against Idaho’s Interference with Agricultural Production law, colloquially/derisively known as an “ag gag” law. While it is true that the Ninth Circuit panel struck down major provisions, the decision also leaves enough of Idaho’s law intact to provide farmers and ranchers with substantial protections against those who would lie to get jobs with the intent of damaging the farm operation.  

Preserving Water Quality: Challenges and Opportunities for Technological and Policy Innovations

Choices magazine | Posted on January 11, 2018

The agricultural nutrient management problem is technologically, economically, politically, and institutionally complex. Nutrient flows from agricultural lands to water bodies are diffuse by nature, difficult to observe and measure at reasonable cost, and there is significant heterogeneity and weather induced stochasticity in the links between input use and polluting discharges. Policies for protecting water quality have therefore tended to focus on managing farming practices rather than environmental outcomes by encouraging the adoption of best management practices. But this highlights another key technological complexity, which is the tremendous spatial heterogeneity, at a sub-field level, in land quality, topography, and proximity to environmentally sensitive areas that exists in agricultural production. One result is tremendous fine-scale variability in cropping systems that can minimize nutrient losses to the environment while remaining competitive land uses. Another is high information, technology, and farm management requirements for such systems. A key economic complexity is that the U.S. agricultural economy is driven by multiple factors (consumer preferences, locations of high density populations, agricultural economic geography) to be nutrient intensive and to move nutrients to nutrient-sensitive environments.

Agricultural fungicide attracts honey bees

Science Daily | Posted on January 11, 2018

When given the choice, honey bee foragers prefer to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone, researchers report.

Pesticide makers examining "freeze" on neonics in California

Agri-Pulse | Posted on January 11, 2018

Pesticide manufacturers and applicators are examining the impacts of a California decision to “freeze”  uses for neonicotinoids while the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation re-evaluates their effects on pollinators. DPR issued a notice last week saying that it would not approve new or expanded uses for products currently being re-evaluated. Products affected include four neonicotinoids – thiamethoxam (trade name: Cruiser), clothianidin (Poncho, Votivo), imidacloprid (Gaucho), and dinotefuran (Venom).

How gene editing can revolutionize feeding the world

Agri-Pulse | Posted on January 11, 2018

Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to adopting new ways of farming and producing food. But there are big innovations underway in labs and universities that analysts describe as "revolutionary," enabling the creation of new plants and animals in months rather than decades. For the next few weeks, Agri-Pulse will explore “The Breeding Edge” – a seven-part series on how these new precision methods for plant and animal breeding are set to transform global food production and the potential impact for agribusinesses, farmers and consumers around the world.  These advancements are driven in part by new scientific discoveries, genetic research, data science, enhanced computational power, and the availability of new systems for precision breeding like CRISPR—an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.The outcomes possible with different types of precision breeding today might have seemed impossible just a few decades ago and these new opportunities have strong implications for both producers and consumers. 

What does Sessions’ policy mean for the future of weed?

Capital Press | Posted on January 11, 2018

Even as a series of states legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the possession, use or sale of the drug remained a federal crime. Still, the Justice Department, under President Barack Obama, took a hands-off approach. That changed Thursday. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked an Obama-era policy that was deferential to states’ permissive marijuana laws. Sessions is leaving it up to federal prosecutors in states that allow drug sales and use to decide whether to crack down on the marijuana trade.The move by Sessions has generated outrage among advocates for legal marijuana as well as some conservatives who believe the federal government shouldn’t overrule the wishes of state government on issues like this. It’s also generated confusion about what the policy might mean for marijuana users, sellers and states that collect taxes from pot sales.

Oregon sues Monsanto over PCB pollution in waterways, soil

Capital Press | Posted on January 11, 2018

The lawsuit cites internal memos and correspondence indicating that Monsanto knew early on about the toxic effects of PCBs. The lawsuit seeks $100 million to use to mitigate pollution, particularly along a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River in Portland that will be the target of a $1 billion cleanup announced by federal authorities in 2016.

ASPCA Runs Afowl in Game Bird Case

Cavalry Group | Posted on January 11, 2018

The federal agents had a warrant. They were looking for evidence of cockfighting. Carrano was made to sit in his kitchen while they searched the premises. There was no evidence because, well, Mr. Carrano isn't a cockfighter. Unfortunately, that didn't protect his birds. Carrano's birds are housed some 300 feet from his driveway. According to neighbors and others who witnessed their actions, the people from ASPCA put the birds in boxes, dropped them on the ground, tossed them around, and rolled them to their trucks, all of which is very stressful for the birds that have been raised from eggs on the property. An ASPCA truck also drove off and broke the end of his driveway as it was leaving.According to Mr. Carrano, he had five or six hens who were sitting on large nests of eggs getting ready to hatch. The agents and ASPCA personnel broke all of the eggs so they couldn't produce new chicks. They took all 70 of his hens and all of his roosters. These were birds that Carrano had bred and raised himself. He interacted with each bird several times per day and could identify each one on sight. As Mr. Carrano explained, he and his wife don't have any children and he put all of himself into caring for his birds. He had some birds with bloodlines dating back to the 1890s and one special hen he had kept for 16 years.

Despite seizing his birds, after four months there were still no charges in the case. Friends rallied around Carrano and a legal expense fund was set up to help him. The ASPCA was pressuring Carrano to relinquish his ownership rights to the birds, asking him four times to give them up.Unable to charge him with cockfighting, the government finally brought one count against Carrano: conspiracy to train and then sell his roosters to cockfighters.

Supercharged antibiotics could turn tide against superbugs

Science Daily | Posted on January 11, 2018

An old drug supercharged by researchers has emerged as a new antibiotic that could destroy some of the world's most dangerous superbugs. The supercharge technique potentially could revitalize other antibiotics.