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Agriculture News

Monsanto halts plan for BT Soybeans

| Posted on May 10, 2018

Monsanto has shelved a longstanding project to bring Bt soybeans to the U.S. by the turn of the decade. The company cited low grower demand, but U.S. insect resistance to the proteins in its Bt soybean product is more likely the culprit, entomologists told DTN.Monsanto first launched Intacta RR2 PRO soybeans, which contain the single Bt protein Cry1Ac, in South America in 2013. The company has produced a second-generation product called Intacta 2 Xtend, which adds the Bt proteins Cry1A.105 and Cry2Ab2, as well as dicamba tolerance. Both products target certain Lepidoptera pests of soybean, such as soybean looper and velvetbean caterpillar.Monsanto hopes to launch Intacta 2 Xtend in South America around 2021, Mark Kidnie, Monsanto’s South American lead for corn and soybean technology

Bring urban livestock, agriculture into Fairbanks neighborhoods

Daily News-Miner | Posted on May 10, 2018

When Fairbanks was founded in the early 1900s, it wasn’t possible to run down to the supermarket to purchase a dozen eggs or fresh produce. If you wanted eggs or produce, it was likely that you or someone you knew grew or raised the food. Obviously, the Fairbanks community has changed quite a bit in the last century with the establishment of multiple large supermarkets, but the local food movement is strong and growing in Fairbanks, as well as nationally, as people strive to produce more food themselves and to purchase from local vendors. This is evident in the growing success of local farmers markets and the increase in the desire for backyard chickens and other small livestock. Did you know that local zoning laws in the borough prohibit any type of livestock or commercial agriculture in most zoning districts? Over the years, the FNSB Community Planning Department has received many inquiries from residents wishing to keep small livestock, mostly chickens, or sell some of the produce that they grow in their home garden. Likewise, complaints have been received from residents who don’t particularly enjoy their neighbor’s new backyard flock when not maintained properly. Community sentiment has generally been in favor of increased agricultural and animal husbandry opportunities in more areas of the borough. 

Hanging onto uncertainty

The Farmers | Posted on May 10, 2018

It’s been a tough go for farmers these last few years with low incomes. Many dairy farmers across the U.S. have been hit particularly hard — financially, physically and emotionally — as they work 16-plus hour days, seven days a week, to care for cattle and manage their farm businesses.  Farmers work where they live. They don’t go home at the end of the day — they are already there. Coworkers can mostly be family members. They wrestle with responsibility versus control. Farmers feel responsible for just about everything, yet some things are beyond control. Farmers have multiple roles, including some have off-farm employment. Farmers feel isolated and a loss of peers and community.For farmers that are struggling, Moynihan urges them to reach out to their medical professionals. Moynihan also encourages farmers to reach out to each other and help.“I want farmers who might not be struggling quite so much to pay attention to their friends and neighbors who are having trouble,” she says. “Get over the standoffish Minnesota reticence and reach out. And if someone reaches out to you, don’t reject them. Accept the offer.”

China food giant expands in Brazil

Bloomberg | Posted on May 10, 2018

China’s food giant Cofco International is positioning itself to increase soybean purchases from Brazil as trade tensions escalate between the U.S. and the Asian nation, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Cofco has strengthened its team that buys, stores and sells farmer crops, known as origination, in the South American country, recently hiring as many as 12 people to work directly with farmers in Mato Grosso, Goias, Parana and Rio Grande do Sul states, said the person, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public. Brazil is the world’s largest soybean exporter.

Profitability Pressures Kansas Land Values

DTN | Posted on May 8, 2018

Kansas farmland prices continue to march steadily downward, and there's little in the economic forecast to reverse the trend. "All of the numbers are pointing down, but it’s not falling off a cliff," Kansas State University farm management specialist Mykel Taylor said about near-term price movements in a press release. The USDA said overall values to declined 3.9% to an average of $1,970 per acre last year, and that trend is likely to continue.Kansas is a non-disclosure state, so Taylor uses data from the Kansas Property Valuation Division of the state's revenue department to make her estimates, which show sharper declines than data used by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. For example, USDA says that since 2014, irrigated land prices have fallen 13.1%; dryland values, 13%; and pasture values, 7.9%. Taylor's data suggests it's more like 17.4% for irrigated, 19% for dryland and 21.4% for pastureland. 

This farm said it had a USDA inspector onsite daily. But people still got sick.

Indy Star | Posted on May 8, 2018

At Indiana-based Rose Acre's North Carolina farm, 3 million chickens produce about 2.3 million eggs every day, apparently under the watchful eye of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grader.That grader is supposed to be at the farm every day. Which raises a question: Why did it take an outbreak of salmonella, one that sickened 23 people in nine states, to alert officials to problems at the farm? A USDA spokeswoman acknowledged to IndyStar that a typical day for a grader involves checking a facility's equipment prior to that day's operation. It's at this point that any observed issues are addressed. After that, the grader will enter the grading booth to inspect eggs during the processing day."In this instance, our grader(s) did not observe issues that would have triggered a report to FDA inspectors," the spokeswoman said via email.

Animal Welfare--New CAST Task Force Report

Council for Agriculture Science and Technology | Posted on May 8, 2018

This report shows a growing emphasis on animal welfare regulations. The priorities, state of the science, challenges, and approaches to addressing the topic have also evolved considerably. Increased collaboration has occurred between scientists and philosophers to address agricultural bioethics in an effort to facilitate conflict resolution.

Researchers weigh the tradeoffs of antimicrobial policies in dairy production

Cornell | Posted on May 8, 2018

Dairy farmers use antibiotics to keep their herds healthy and production high. At the same time, these treatments threaten to harm public health through the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While the quantitative impact of such antibiotics on humans is not completely understood, a new Cornell study has pinpointed the financial toll that eliminating antibiotic use would have on dairy farms, a finding that could help guide regulatory policy. “The Farm Cost of Decreasing Antimicrobial Use in Dairy Production,” published in PLOS One in March, shows the cost of forgoing antibiotics on dairy farms would average out to $61 per cow annually. “If consumers or policymakers wanted to implement antibiotic-free dairy production, it wouldn’t be a high cost for farmers, but it is feasible the farmers would ask to be compensated,” said Guillaume Lhermie, lead author and postdoctoral associate in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We wanted to see what we would win and what we would lose with this kind of regulation.”   Gröhn stressed that, in addition to such financial impacts, the team was also taking animal welfare into consideration.“You simply cannot decide not to treat animals for disease,” he said. “That is unethical.”

Kentucky Milk Processing Plant to Close, Eliminating 52 Jobs

U.S. News & World Report | Posted on May 8, 2018

A Kentucky milk processing plant is slated to close next month, resulting in the loss of 52 jobs.The Paducah Sun reports the general manager of the Prairie Farms Dairy plant, David Atchley, notified the Kentucky Division of Workforce and Employment Services on Tuesday. His letter indicated employees will receive severance pay and benefits after the plant closes June 30.Fulton County Judge-Executive Jim Martin says the closure was not unexpected, as the company had raised the possibility several years ago.Martin says milk production in the area has decreased, and the county has seen more job loss than creation over the last decade. He says he hopes the skilled workforce will attract potential investors. Prairie Farms will continue to operate a distribution operation employing about 12 in Fulton.

Alaska bill to protect spawning habitats could affect rural development

Webcenter 11 | Posted on May 8, 2018

House Bill 199, also known as the "Wild Salmon Legacy Act" updates "Title 16, an older fish habitat protection and permitting law. According to the updated bill a broader definition of what constitutes salmon spawning environments, or "anadromous fish habitat" is the aspect of the legislation that is causing so much debate. According to HB 199, "anadromous fish habitat" includes any "naturally occurring permanent of intermittent season water body, and the bed beneath, including all sloughs, backwaters, portions of the floodplain covered by the mean annual flood, and adjacent riparian area, that contribute, directly or indirectly, to the spawning, rearing, migration, or overwintering of anadromous fish." 
Supporters of the legislation argue people will say anything to distract from the real issues at hand. They say HB 199, was proposed to update an older Alaska fish habitat protection permitting law.  "The two tier permitting program that the initiative sets up really creates a streamlined and efficient process for people who are looking to do projects in the salmon habitat areas, whether they are large or small there are guidelines to follow. It gives business the certainty it needs to move forward," said Director of Stand for Salmon, Ryan Schryver.
Opponents of the bill say the definition used to define 'Anadromous fish habitat' is so broad that it will impair community and resource development - potentially hurting Alaskan communities.