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Agriculture News

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grants

| Posted on August 16, 2018

Launched in 2008, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin (BLBW) competitive grant program is designed to strengthen Wisconsin’s agricultural and food industries by working to reduce the marketing, distribution, and processing hurdles that impede the expansion of sales of Wisconsin’s food products to local purchasers. Managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the grants can help farms and business more efficiently process, market and distribute food in local markets including stores, schools and institutions. Keeping food dollars in Wisconsin communities supports local businesses, improves farm incomes, and creates jobs.A total of $200,000 is available in grant funding each year through the program; the maximum award for each project is $50,000, and grant applicants must provide a cash or in-kind match of at least 50 percent of the total project budget. Generally, qualified applicants include individuals, groups or businesses involved in Wisconsin production agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food warehousing, retail food establishments or agricultural tourism operations. Proposals can include individual projects, collaborations or partnerships.

Some Beatty residents say burro herd is causing problems

Capital Press | Posted on August 16, 2018

Some residents of a southern Nevada town that has long embraced a local herd of burros want the federal government to do more to control the wild donkey population. Residents of Beatty are complaining that the burros are causing disruptions by knocking down fences, trampling sensitive habitat and damaging property, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .The town has celebrated the animals as symbols of the community’s roots, growing from the early 20th-century mining camp. But residents now have mixed feelings.“They are an element of local color and history, somewhat entertaining and fun to show to visitors,” resident Richard Stephens said. “They are also a nuisance.”

Idaho wolves kill six cows in one week

Capital Press | Posted on August 16, 2018

ascade, Idaho, rancher Phil Davis said wolves killed three of his cows in early August. Separately, three other cows were killed nearby. “We lost three cows to wolves this last week, three days in a row,” said Davis, who for decades has studied Idaho wolf issues and has been outspoken about wolves’ impacts on livestock. The kills were Aug. 2-4 on Davis Cattle Co. property.USDA Wildlife Services confirmed the three cows were killed by wolves, as well as three other cattle on property close by, Public Affairs Specialist Tanya Espinosa said. In necropsies to determine the cause of death, the agency found bite marks and associated hemorrhaging, she said.The Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission recently reported wolf-involved depredation cases set a record high for the fiscal year ended June 30 and are continuing at a strong pace.

Sempra Has to Turn to Cow Dung to Make Up for California Gas Leak

Bloomberg | Posted on August 16, 2018

Reparations for the worst-ever U.S. natural gas leak will involve cow-dung duty. That’s the takeaway from Sempra Energy’s $119.5 million settlement with Los Angeles and California agencies over the leak almost three years ago at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility owned by the company’s Southern California Gas utility. Almost a quarter of the money will go to fund a program to capture methane from dairy farms that can be processed into something called renewable natural gas. This RNG can be substituted molecule for molecule for the fossil fuel version and injected into the vast U.S. pipeline network.

New $425M dairy processing facility expected to create 259 Michigan jobs

Click on Detroit | Posted on August 16, 2018

Michigan's dairy industry is getting a huge boost. Two investments totaling $510 million are expected to create nearly 300 jobs with the building of a new dairy processing facility in St. Johns, Michigan. Glanbia has partnered with Select Milk Producers Inc. and Dairy Farmers of America to form Spartan Michigan LLC, which will develop a new $425 million, 146-acre dairy processing facility in St. Johns, which is expected to create 259 new jobs. The facility will process more than 8-million pounds of milk per day. Proliant Dairy Michigan is investing up to $85 million in an adjoining facility, which will manufacture whey permeate powder and employ 30 to 38 new workers.

New Water Restrictions to Leave California Farmers High and Dry

Growing Produce | Posted on August 16, 2018

Following nine years of research and extensive public outreach, the State Water Resources Control Board today released a final draft plan to increase water flows through the Lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries—the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers—to prevent an ecological crisis, including the total collapse of fisheries.  By limiting water sent to cities and farms and keeping more for fish, the proposal by the State Water Resources Control Board's staff likely will ignite a round of lawsuits and political squabbles. Critics immediately pounced on the plan, saying it will take some of the nation's most fertile farmland out of production and harm the Central Valley economy.But the state board said more water must be devoted to fish to prevent environmental disaster. Several major species of fish are nearing extinction, and increasing river flows will help them survive, the board said."We've simply taken too much water out of the system for the natural ecosystem to survive," said board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus in a conference call with reporters. She said the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the hub of the state's elaborate water-delivery network, "is on the verge of collapse."

'They’re the lifeblood': O'Neill raid highlights importance of growing immigrant workforce to agriculture

Omaha World Herald | Posted on August 13, 2018

The immigration enforcement action last week in this north-central Nebraska ranching community of 3,700 illuminated how important immigrant workers have become in Nebraska, particularly to the state’s largest industry, agriculture. More than 130 workers were snared in the operation, which was focused on a group that allegedly conspired to exploit, and profit from, the immigrant laborers.The raid left a shortage of workers at a local hydroponic tomato greenhouse, where 250,000 pounds of tomatoes are picked and packed each week, and at one of the state’s largest cattle feedlots, where reportedly 70,000 cattle a day are watered and fed.In rural Holt County, where the unemployment rate is 2.6 percent, the struggle to find people in a tight labor market to fill the often hard, dirty and low-paying jobs like feeding cattle or picking tomatoes has people turning to immigrants.“Labor is tough,” said rancher Kirk Shane, as he directed traffic at the Holt County Fair in Chambers. “I remember when we could hire kids for the summer. Now you can’t get them — they’re either too busy with sports or you can’t rely on them.”The “now hiring” signs outside of the O’Neill Ventures tomato greenhouse have been posted there for several weeks, and now they carry even more urgency after perhaps two-thirds of the company’s workforce was hauled away.

Bayer shares fall 10 percent after Monsanto's Roundup cancer trial

Reuters | Posted on August 13, 2018

Bayer shares plunged more than 10 percent on Monday after a California jury ordered the German company’s newly acquired Monsanto subsidiary to pay $289 million for not warning of cancer risks posed by its main weed killer. The case against Monsanto, bought by Bayer this year for $63 billion, is the first of more than 5,000 similar lawsuits over the company’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, including its Roundup brand, across the United States.Monsanto said on Friday that it would appeal against the verdict which is the latest episode in a long-running debate over claims that exposure to Roundup can cause cancer.“The jury’s verdict is at odds with the weight of scientific evidence, decades of real world experience and the conclusions of regulators around the world that all confirm glyphosate is safe and does not cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Bayer said in a statement, referring to the plaintiff’s type of cancer.

Milking cows on an industrial scale arrives in western Minnesota, and some farmers shudder

Minnesota Star Tribune | Posted on August 13, 2018

The milking carousel at the Louriston Dairy turns 22 hours a day and milks more cows in half an hour than most dairies do all day. Cows step onto the slow-moving merry-go-round in single file. A worker sprays disinfectant on each cow’s udder, another wipes the teats clean with a paper towel, and another secures suction cups onto the teats for milking during a seven-minute trip around the room. Gleaming silver tanks in the next room fill with flash-cooled milk as 106 cows are milked at once.The farm 18 miles west of Willmar is home to 9,500 cows, 40 times larger than the average U.S. dairy operation. It is part of a fast-growing network of giant farms built and run by Riverview LLP, a Morris, Minn.-based firm that is a game-changer for the Minnesota dairy industry. The company owns 92,000 milk cows — more than all the farmers in Illinois or Virginia — and 60,000 of them are in western Minnesota, where it has nine dairies and is building more.“We are really bullish on the dairy industry, especially in the Upper Midwest,” said Brad Fehr, one of the company’s founders.But farmers at smaller dairy operations are aghast. How, they ask, can a company build such huge operations when milk prices yield meager profits and many of their neighbors are leaving the business?

China says U.S. farmers may never regain market share lost in trade war

Politico | Posted on August 13, 2018

China can easily find other countries to buy agricultural goods from instead of the U.S., its vice agriculture minister said, warning that American farmers could permanently lose their share of the Chinese market as a result of the trade war. “Many countries have the willingness and they totally have the capacity to take over the market share the U.S. is enjoying in China. If other countries become reliable suppliers for China, it will be very difficult for the U.S. to regain the market,” Han Jun told official Xinhua news agency in an interview. He also warned that American farmers could lose the position in the Chinese market they have spent several decades building up. Han said they may not be able to make up the losses brought by retaliatory tariffs, even with the White House’s planned $12 billion aid package for farmers caught in the dispute.He said Beijing had imposed duties on 90 percent of the agricultural goods the country imports from the United States since the trade war kicked off at the start of last month, with limited impact on China.China has been buying more soybeans from other countries and promoting alternatives to soybeans to feed livestock, as well as pushing farmers to plant more domestic crops. Before the trade war erupted, China was on track to import 300 million tons of soybeans from the United States this year.The country imported about $24.1 billion of agricultural products from the United States last year, accounting for 19 percent of its total farm imports worth some $125.86 billion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.