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Agriculture News

New grant money available to boost Pennsylvania dairy industry

Your Erie | Posted on September 27, 2018

Low milk costs mean tough times for dairy farmers across the Commonwealth, leaving many with no choice but to shut down. At one time, Erie County was home to dozens of dairy farms; that's no longer the case. Farmers say the business as a whole is to blame, but they tell us policy changes and support from the state could be a turning point. After more than 80 years in business, the barns at Curtis Dairy are now empty.  You can see in the video what the facility looked like just a few months ago, housing more than 300 cows.Dean Curtis tells us, "It hurts when I think of all the years that I put in here and to see it go away. You know, it's hard." Curtis says there just isn't money in the industry anymore, and he says the problem comes down to the cost of milk. "You look back in history; in the 80's, we were getting more money back in the 80's than we are now for a hundred of milk." It's a dilemma forcing farms across the Commonwealth to shut down. That's why Governor Tom Wolf approved $5 million dispersed among eligible applicants. The money is part of the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program.

US Attorney Sues West Virginia Hemp Farm Over Seeds' Origin

US News and World Report | Posted on September 26, 2018

A U.S. attorney is suing a West Virginia hemp farm and others, saying they violating the federal Controlled Substances Act.U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart has sued Matthew Mallory of CAMO Hemp WV, and Gary Kale of Grassy Run Farms. Grassy Run Farms owns the land, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Saturday.The lawsuit charges the farmers with manufacturing, cultivation, possession, and intent to distribute marijuana and not hemp. Hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis sativa plant, but by state law hemp must be comprised of less than 1 percent THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.The complaint says the farmers purchased their hemp seeds in Kentucky and brought them over the West Virginia state line. A state pilot program only allows hemp producers to obtain seeds internationally, via the state Department of Agriculture, the lawsuit said.The complaint also said the defendants indicated they would install security measures around the farm. However, that allegedly hasn't happened.If Stuart prevails in the lawsuit, the farmers' plants, property, equipment and seeds could all be seized and forfeited to the government. His complaint says the federal government could receive either $250,000 in civil penalties or twice the sum of the defendants' gross receipts.The farmers' attorneys argue the Agricultural Act of 2014 protects their right to grow hemp under state laws. Also, the Farm Bill and related provisions of a federal appropriations bill together state that no congressional appropriated funds can prevent the transportation, processing or sale of hemp under a state program authorized under the federal legislation.

Could intensive agriculture be better for the environment than organic eco-farming?

Eastern Daily Press | Posted on September 26, 2018

A new study, led by scientists from the University of Cambridge, says focusing resources to generate higher yields from smaller areas might be the “least bad” option to meet rising demand for food – as long as it allows more natural habitats to be “spared the plough”. Agriculture which appears to be more eco-friendly, but uses more land, may actually have greater environmental costs per unit of food than high-yield farming, said researchers.The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, suggests that – contrary to perceptions – intensive agriculture which uses less land may also produce fewer pollutants, cause less soil erosion and consume less water.“Agriculture is the most significant cause of biodiversity loss on the planet,” said study lead author Andrew Balmford, professor of conservation science from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology. “Habitats are continuing to be cleared to make way for farmland, leaving ever less space for wildlife.

The world's first floating dairy farm will house 40 cows and be hurricane-resistant

Business Insider | Posted on September 26, 2018

The Dutch company Beladon is opening the world's first floating dairy farm in the Netherlands. Located in Rotterdam, the farm will house 40 cows in a high-tech facility on the water.Minke van Wingerden, one of the project's leaders, told Business Insider that the farm will produce an average of 211 gallons of milk each day.Most of the cows' food will come from city waste products, such as grains left over from local breweries and by-products from mills.Beladon is also interested in launching floating chicken farms and floating vertical farming greenhouse


Walmart, Sam's Club to put food products on blockchain

Reuters | Posted on September 26, 2018

Walmart and its unit Sam’s Club said on Monday leafy greens suppliers will be asked to implement real-time, farm-to-store tracking using blockchain technology by next September, as the retailer tackles food-safety incidents. Walmart is among several other retailers such as Nestle SA trying to tap blockchain, a shared record of data kept by a network of computers to track food supply chain and improve safety.Walmart said on Monday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has consulted with the company to improve traceability of food products to help public officials investigate and find the source of food-borne disease outbreaks.



Wheat straw-Cellulosic biorefinery to break ground in North Dakota

Biomass Magazine | Posted on September 26, 2018

A biorefinery that will produce 16 MMgy of cellulosic ethanol and 120,000 of lignin pellets is set to break ground in Spiritwood, North Dakota, in the spring of 2019. The facility, under development by New Energy Blue, will feature Inbicon technology. The proposed plant, known as New Energy Spirit Biomass Refinery LLC, will be located in Spiritwood Energy Park near Jamestown, North Dakota, adjacent to Dakota Spirit AgEnergy LLC, an existing 70 MMgy corn ethanol plant, and Spiritwood Station, a 99-megawatt coal-fired power plant that produces electricity and steam.

Wisconsin to Add Ag Enterprise Areas

Wisconsin Ag Connection | Posted on September 26, 2018

Three more agricultural enterprise areas totaling 185,000 acres have been designated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. The new AEAs will be in Trempealeau County's town of Arcadia; St. Croix County's town of Troy; and six townships in northwest Outagamie and northeast Waupaca counties. Wisconsin will have a total of 37 agricultural enterprise areas, or AEAs, in 26 counties, 108 towns and the Bad River Reservation, as of January 1, 2019.AEAs may be created or expanded when at least five landowners, in partnership with local governments, petition the DATCP for the designation. They are part of Wisconsin's farmland preservation program, intended to encourage preservation of agricultural land use and to promote agricultural economic development appropriate to each area.Landowners outside designated AEAs who want to participate should work with their neighbors and local governments to petition for AEA status.

Entire working ranch, with 1,000 head of cattle, donated to Calgary's vet school

Calgary Herald | Posted on September 26, 2018

A father and daughter with a passion for the beef industry have donated an entire working ranch — land, buildings, a 1,000-head herd of cattle and all — to the University of Calgary's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.In terms of monetary value, W.A. Ranches — which is northeast of Cochrane and valued at $44 million — is the largest gift of a ranch that has ever been made to a North American university. And, in terms of size, at nearly 7,700 hectares, it represents the biggest gift of ranch property in Canadian university history.The donation was made by businessman and philanthropist J.C. (Jack) Anderson, 90, and his daughter Wynne Chisholm, 61. The two have operated W.A. Ranches since 2005, when Anderson — then 77 — decided to get back into the cattle industry after giving it up decades before to focus on his oil and gas interests. “There are only three grandkids in our family and all have chosen careers outside of agriculture. So we were looking at what our next steps were and what we might do,” Chisholm said. “We just thought it was an area the university was missing.”The University of Calgary’s vet school, which was founded in 2005, already gives students the chance to work with private ranches and veterinary practices as part of their overall training. But having an entire “turnkey-ready” working ranch incorporated into the university’s program is very unique, said Dr. Baljit Singh, dean of the faculty of veterinary medicine.

Trade wars, "Meatless Mondays" and BBQ. Texas Agriculture Commissioner candidates square off

Houston Business Journal | Posted on September 26, 2018

Much of the race for Texas Agriculture Commissioner centers on food — whether immigrants should be able to help harvest it, how crops are traded or what items schools can serve students for lunch. Democrat Kim Olson, a farmer and Air Force veteran, is challenging the incumbent, Republican Sid Miller.  In the latest edition of our Split Decision virtual debate series, watch Olson and Miller discuss these issues, as well as Miller's presence on social media and more. Olson is critical of what Miller's done over his first term as agriculture commissioner, including the fees he raised on farmers and ranchers in 2016 that an audit showed raised millions more dollars than necessary. Miller highlighted reforms he said he's made at the Texas Department of Agriculture, including increased inspections and expanded foreign markets.The two also see President Donald Trump's tough trade policies very differently. Olson says Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports are hurting Texas farmers and beef producers. Texas' beef industry recently started re-establishing a relationship with China after a 14-year ban on U.S. beef exports to the country was lifted last year. Miller counters that the U.S. "hasn't really gained the beef market back" and added that he's confident that, ultimately, the president will make good on his promise to protect rural America.

Food and Agriculture Grants Will Boost Businesses in Michigan | Posted on September 26, 2018

During its regularly scheduled meeting, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for three food and agriculture projects in Michigan. The projects will help grow companies focused on cheese-making, asparagus packing and production, and grain processing as well as support the expansion of consumer-demand driven, value-added Michigan products. “Food and agriculture processing is a diversified business in Michigan, and these three projects are great examples of the support we can give to small companies in order to accelerate their growth,” said Peter Anastor, Director of MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division. “We hope these companies continue to grow and establish themselves as key pieces of our food and ag supply chain that will support local, regional and national food companies and consumers.”The Food and Agriculture Investment Program provides financial support for food and agriculture projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and Michigan’s economy. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan.