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Agriculture News

Farmers for Free Trade launches latest campaign

Politico | Posted on August 9, 2018

Farmers for Free Trade, the association that’s railing against President Donald Trump’s tariffs, is ramping up an advertising campaign highlighting the harm that the escalating trade war is having on the U.S. agriculture industry. The new effort involves $800,000 in radio, print, online and television ads on farm programming across the heartland. Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin will see the first round of ads.The “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” campaign will also include town hall events in various states. Two radio ads will start airing today and run through September. The ad buy is part of a larger $2.5 million national anti-tariff campaign the group launched in July, shortly after Trump announced a $12 billion aid program to farmers affected by trade retaliation in response to new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum as well as trade penalties directed toward China.

Couple cash in on the live chicken rental craze

Valley News Dispatch | Posted on August 9, 2018

It’s “Rent The Chicken,” not “Rent-A-Chicken.” Local entrepreneurs Phil and Jenn Tompkins stress the distinction because their South Buffalo Township-based business, Rent The Chicken, in their assessment, is on top of the pecking order of live chicken rental businesses, which includes Michigan-based competitor Rent-A-Chicken.Rent The Chicken continues to add customers after the Tompkins hatched the business five years ago for supplemental income promoting a shared value of the couple: Homesteading — producing yard-to-the-table fresh food.The success of the business illustrates the popularity of backyard hen houses, especially in urban areas. Nearly 4 percent of households surveyed in four major American cities planned to have chickens in the coming years, telltale of the growing acceptance of urban farming, according to a 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

'Virtually unprecedented': Banff bison roaming free for first time in 140 years

Calgary Herald | Posted on August 9, 2018

Wild and free. That’s the new life for a herd of 31 plains bison which have finally been fully reintroduced to the backcountry of Banff National Park for the first time in 140 years. “These are not a captive display herd. These are wild bison,” said Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager with Parks Canada.“This is virtually unprecedented. If we look at the largest land mammal in North America, it’s been gone from Banff National Park for over 140 years, and just the role that bison play in the ecosystem, makes this even more significant than perhaps many other species that we work on in the park.” The reintroduction of wild bison in the 1,200 square-kilometre area in the Banff backcountry of Panther Valley has been a $6.4-million project years in the making.

Heatwave and climate change having negative impact on our soil say experts

Science Daily | Posted on August 9, 2018

The recent heatwave and drought could be having a deeper, more negative effect on soil than we first realized say scientists. That's because organisms in soil are highly diverse and are responsible not only for producing the soil we need to grow crops, but also provide humans with many other benefits, such as cleaning water and regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Survey released to address future of agriculture in West Virginia

The Intermountain | Posted on August 9, 2018

The West Virginia Agriculture Advisory Board announced the first step in developing a five-year, strategic plan for agriculture. A statewide survey, as well as market analysis will be conducted to address the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt relaunched the board in July of 2017 which includes Governor Jim Justice and the Dean of WVU Extension Service Steve Bonanno. The West Virginia Agriculture Advisory Board Steering Committee includes representatives from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, West Virginia Farm Bureau, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, West Virginia Conservation Agency, WVU Extension Service, WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and West Virginia State University Extension Service. To learn more, visit

California jury weighs testimony in first trial alleging Monsanto's Roundup causes cancer

St Louis Post Dispatch | Posted on August 9, 2018

A trial in which a school groundskeeper alleged that his use of Monsanto's Roundup weed killer caused his terminal cancer will go to a California jury after lawyers for both sides delivered their closing arguments on Tuesday. Groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson is one of more than 5,000 plaintiffs across the United States who claim Monsanto's glyphosate-containing herbicides, including the widely-used Roundup, cause cancer. His case, the first to go to trial, began in San Francisco's Superior Court of California four weeks ago.Johnson's lawyer Brent Wisner urged jurors to hold Monsanto liable and punish them with a verdict he said would "actually change the world." Wisner claimed Monsanto knew about glyphosate's cancer risk, but decided to bury the information.  Monsanto, a unit of Bayer AG following a $62.5 billion acquisition by the German conglomerate, denies the allegations and says expert testimony on which Johnson and others rely does not satisfy any scientific or legal requirements."The message of 40 years of scientific studies is clear: this cancer is not caused by glyphosate," Monsanto's lawyer George Lombardi said.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September 2017 concluded a decades-long assessment of glyphosate risks and found the chemical not likely carcinogenic to humans. The World Health Organization's cancer arm in 2015 classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans." If it finds Monsanto liable, the jury can decide to award punitive damages on top of the more than $39 million in compensatory damages Johnson demanded.

Dairy Revenue Protection is Here

Farm Bureau | Posted on August 9, 2018

Since 2014 the annual average U.S. all-milk price has fallen by more than 30 percent. This year, it is projected to be at the lowest level since 2009, at $16.10 per hundredweight. Milk prices are projected to improve slightly in 2019 to $16.75 per hundredweight, but ongoing trade tensions in July compelled USDA to push its 2019 milk price projection down by 45 cents per hundredweight. The 45-cent revision represents a nearly $1 billion decline in projected milk revenue – in just one month in 2019.  Dairy Revenue Protection was developed and approved through the Federal Crop Insurance Act’s 508(h) process, which allows private parties to develop insurance products that are in the best interests of producers, follow sound insurance principles and are actuarially appropriate. 

Debate around ag ‘nuisance’ lawsuits heats up

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 9, 2018

Ag organizations have moved to support Smithfield Foods in its bid to have a judge’s gag order lifted, in the wake of a third jury verdict finding a Smithfield-related hog farm responsible for excessive odors and property value damage due to hog waste. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation collaborated on a brief filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina, saying the gag order has a “chilling effect” on agricultural producers’ First Amendment rights.

Smithfield faces down third, and largest yet, 'nuisance' award

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 9, 2018

Smithfield Foods Inc. has struck out a third time with juries in North Carolina, as its Murphy-Brown LLC hog production unit was ordered on Friday to pay $473.5 million to plaintiffs in a noise and odor lawsuit filed by residents near some of its hog farms, according to court documents. Businesses raising hogs for Smithfield’s pork products have already lost two other cases, one in which the jury awarded $50 million and one in which the award was $25 million.  In the third case, among dozens that have been filed, the jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina awarded $3 million to $5 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages to each of the case’s six complainants. In an email, a Smithfield spokeswoman told Meatingplace that, due to a gag order imposed by the judge in the case, the company was unable to comment. The North Carolina Legislature in June approved the Farm Act of 2018, which sets a deadline for bringing such suits of one year from an operation’s start and allows punitive damages only against a farm that had a criminal charge or code violation.

Why campaigns to ban meat send the wrong message on climate change

NBC News | Posted on August 8, 2018

WeWork, the co-working mega-giant, recently instituted a new policy at its office spaces across the world: No more meat. Amid some backlash, the company said the decision was an attempt to reduce its carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment. And while this is a truly noble mission, if you take a deep dive into the science of climate and carbon emissions, the policy starts to look half-baked. For one thing, it perpetuates a ubiquitous myth in climate change messaging that individual decisions are more important than the actions of industry.Worst of all, the growing campaign against meat is shifting the focus away from the world’s worst carbon emitter — the fossil fuel industry. (One popular Netflix documentary in particular has gotten a lot of attention, despite its egregious factual errors.) Caring about the planet — and trying to do something about it — is a noble cause. But with the stakes as high as they are, accuracy in messaging is important. But according to renowned climate scientist Michael E. Mann, who has worked on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Assessment Report — the report that gives a status report on the global climate — the way WeWork has framed its message is misleading. “It let’s fossil fuels off the hook. It’s implicitly accepting the notion that climate solutions are voluntary measures,” Mann told me. “They’re important. But it’s really frustrating to me when they say eating less meat. When it's framed as if influencing the political process isn’t part of the constellation.”