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Agriculture News

Rethinking how the US grows beef

Ars Technica | Posted on December 26, 2017

It turns out that the current amount of pastureland in the US could only support 45 percent of our current beef production and consumption. This admittedly narrow definition of sustainability relies on feeding cows more agricultural byproducts, which, as of now, account for only about 10 percent of their diet; the scientists note that, “despite the recent doubling of distillers’ grain utilization,” these byproducts are still plentiful. If we were to cut the pastureland that ranchers currently use in half, that would diminish beef availability to... 43 percent of current values, rather than 45. So freeing up about a 135 hectares—almost a quarter of our national surface area, and twice the size of France—would decrease beef availability by only two percentage points.

Texas A&M AgriLife invests $179 million to lead agriculture research for fifth year

Southeast Farm Press | Posted on December 26, 2017

Whether it’s remote sensing tools or developing better water strategies for rural or urban areas, Texas A&M AgriLife Research is putting m ore research dollars to work faster than any agricultural entity across the nation, according to officials.AgriLife Research led the nation in agricultural research expenditures for fiscal year 2016 with more than $179 million, according to the National Science Foundation. This marked the fifth year in a row the agency led in research investments, topping more than 200 universities nationwide.

After mistrial, here’s what’s next in Bundy case

Capital Press | Posted on December 26, 2017

A mistrial marked a major step this week in favor of a family of ranchers accused of leading armed standoffs in two states to oppose U.S. control of vast stretches of land in the American West. But states’ rights activist Cliven Bundy and his sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy are not clear of legal troubles and say they are not gearing up for another fight in a decades-long dispute with the government over management of public lands.The Bundys and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne are charged with conspiracy, assault and threats over an armed confrontation with federal agents who were rounding up of Bundy cattle on public land in 2014.The judge scheduled the hearing next month to give prosecutors and defense teams time to submit written arguments about whether the case should be dismissed.“A fair trial at this point is impossible with this jury,” the judge declared Wednesday. But “the court is not determining or making a finding (that) the defendants are in fact not guilty.”She also set a new trial date, Feb. 26. Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre didn’t immediately say whether he would seek to retry the case.U.S. Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said in an email Thursday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has personally ordered a review of the case to decide what to do next.

WSDA acts on goal to radio tag all cows

Capital Press | Posted on December 26, 2017

The Washington State Department of Agriculture made the first formal move Wednesday to electronically follow every cow in the state from birth to slaughter. The department indicated it will propose replacing metal ID tags with radio-frequency identification, or RFID, on tens of thousands of cows. According to WSDA, electronic tags will be less prone to record-keeping errors and help track cattle as individuals, not just part of a branded herd.“Updating our rules to incorporate RFID devices is an important first step in strengthening our state’s animal disease traceability system,” State Veterinarian Brian Joseph said in a written statement.

Farmer, landowners fined $618,000 for drawing from Odessa aquifer

Capital Press | Posted on December 26, 2017

A Grant County, Wash., farmer and the landowners he leased fields from have been fined a total of $618,000 by the state Department of Ecology for illegally drawing from the shrinking Odessa aquifer to irrigate 530 acres this year. Ecology alleges that Ron Fode continued to irrigate after he and the landowners were told more than once last spring to stop.“This isn’t fair to other irrigators who follow the law or to local communities and rural landowners who depend on this groundwater for their drinking water,” Ecology water resources manager Mary Verner said in a written statement.

California issues 1st licenses for legal pot market

Capital Press | Posted on December 26, 2017

California’s legal marijuana market is finally, fitfully, taking shape. The state on Thursday issued the first batch of business licenses to sell and transport recreational-use pot, just 18 days before legal sales will begin on Jan. 1.The 20 temporary licenses — some of which were for the previously existing medical marijuana industry — represent a fraction of the thousands of licenses expected to follow as the state embraces legal weed in 2018, but their release set off jubilation.In general, California will treat cannabis like alcohol, allowing people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce and grow six marijuana plants at home.

Louisiana agriculture chief unveils new mobile pet shelter for floods, emergencies

The Times Picayune | Posted on December 26, 2017

Louisiana's agriculture department has unveiled its second mobile pet shelter for emergencies. It's similar to one rolled out during the 2015 hurricane season. The new unit is a 48-foot transport truck equipped with up to 55 metal cages, feed, water bowls and a wash down system. It has an air ventilation system to provide proper air circulation and temperature for the pets.The agriculture department can accommodate up to 3,000 pets at established mega pet shelters. The mobile pet shelter is primarily used when sudden events -- such as the August 2016 flood -- occur in areas where pet shelters aren't available.Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said in a statement that the new mobile shelter was funded with a $72,100 grant from the Banfield Foundation.

No, agriculture won't be quiet, Mr. Ross

Ag Web | Posted on December 23, 2017

As the NAFTA negotiations have stalled, farmers and ranchers in Canada, the United States and Mexico have grown increasingly concerned that this free trade deal is in jeopardy. They’ve been voicing their concerns, to the point where U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross argued U.S. agriculture groups and farmers were complicating the NAFTA trade negotiation process by speaking up, basically telling the farm community to be quiet. “As one special interest group, say agriculture, for example, gets nervous, they start screaming and yelling publicly. They start writing letters, soliciting the Congress people, and [then] they start screaming and yelling in public. It just complicates the environment and, frankly, makes the negotiations harder,” said Ross, as reported by Politico a few weeks ago. Really Wilbur? Essentially Wilbur Ross is saying “trust us.”Ross has even made comments trying to downplay the significance of agriculture, saying “they’ve just got to get used to the fact that they’re a minor part of the economy and that trade policy isn’t going to be constructed around their interests.”Does Wilbur Ross have no clue how many jobs are created by agriculture and food industries in the U.S. and the rest of the NAFTA region? Congrats to U.S. agriculture stakeholders for not taking Mr. Ross’s comments seriously, and in fact, raising their volume.

Mobile slaughterhouse success may bring permanent facility

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on December 23, 2017

The operators of a cooperative mobile slaughterhouse in Hawaii are considering a plan to open two meatpacking facilities on the Big Island next year, according to local media reports. Mike Amado, president of the cooperative that launched in April, said the mobile operation has processed more than 7,000 pounds of beef, 5,000 pounds of pork, 1,000 pounds of lamb and sheep meat and about 500 pounds of goat meat through November. Amado told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that 21 farms regularly use the cooperative’s mobile slaughterhouse services and there is a demand for post-slaughter services as well.

Pennsylvania: Agriculture Department Offers Training to Help Farms Produce Food Safely, Prevent Foodborne Illness

NASDA | Posted on December 21, 2017

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced that the department will sponsor a series of training programs across the state to help farmers grow produce safely, prevent foodborne illness, and comply with new federal standards. The series of one-day training sessions will be held between January and March at seven different locations throughout the state.