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Agriculture News

Scientists find major change in freshwater caused by agriculture and climate

Newsweek | Posted on May 30, 2018

Water, water everywhere—but not necessarily in the places it used to be. Even just in the past two decades, freshwater has been on the move in what scientists are now realizing represents "major hydrologic change." That's according to a new study published in the journal Nature. The study looks at freshwater between 2002 and 2016 and suggests that water distribution is becoming more extreme—places that used to have more water have even more water, and places that used to have less water have even less water.That's due in part to human activities like agriculture, but also to the consequences of climate change.The study was based on data produced by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, a pair of NASA satellites that orbited Earth and detected small changes in gravity caused by higher or lower amounts of water.

US forces Germany's Bayer to shed $9 billion in ag business in biggest ever antitrust sell-off

CNBC | Posted on May 30, 2018

Bayer has agreed to sell agricultural businesses and assets worth about $9 billion to chemical company BASF. The divestiture is the large antitrust-related divestiture ever, according to the Justice Department. The sell-off will allow Bayer to proceed with a proposed $66 billion of Monsanto.

Wolves breed problems for Washington ranchers

Capital Press | Posted on May 30, 2018

Fewer cows have been breeding on the range since wolves migrated to northeast Washington, an economic loss little known outside the cattle industry, according to the owners of the region’s largest ranch. The Diamond M ranch estimates that the rate of “open cows” — females that didn’t become pregnant — has increased to about 20 percent from the historic rate of 5 percent.“If wolves were attacking people night and day, I don’t think you’d have too many people pregnant,” said Len McIrvin, the patriarch of the family-owned and -operated ranch.

State inspection programs – the debate continues

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on May 30, 2018

A new bill has been introduced that would permit state-inspected meat and poultry to be shipped anywhere in the country. Twenty-seven states have inspection programs that have been judged ‘equal to’ the federal inspection program run by FSIS.  Generally, however, meat and poultry produced in a plant under a state program can be sold in-state only. One might ask, “Why is state-inspected meat prohibited from crossing the state line if it was produced in a plant under an inspection system ‘equal to’ the FSIS system?”  With such a query, the argument begins anew.A skeptic might say, “State programs are not really equal to the federal program.  Political pressure is all that keeps these state programs operating.”In reply we hear, “Many state programs operate quite successfully, some with former FSIS personnel having returned home to live and work.”Another disbeliever will exclaim, “States only run their programs to collect the 50 percent support the feds supply.”An astute observer responds, “FSIS always opposes interstate movement of state-inspected meat and poultry products because the agency doesn’t want to see its monopoly of inspection funds diminished.”Others exclaim, “It wouldn’t be safe to allow state inspected products to move freely around the country.”A common rejoinder sounds like this, “Meat or poultry products from three dozen countries are eligible to enter the U.S. and cross state lines.  Foreign programs only need to be ‘equivalent’ to that of FSIS, allowing for important differences.  State programs must be ‘equal to’ the FSIS program.”In my opinion, federally approved state programs should be able to export their meat and poultry products anywhere within the United States.  Also, the states should be held to the international standard of ‘equivalent to’ FSIS.

California farmers await potential change in dairy pricing

Ag Alert | Posted on May 30, 2018

People in the dairy business say they're quite certain the state will be changing to a federal milk pricing system this fall, but they're holding out on making any long-term business decisions in anticipation of this move. In a producer referendum that ended earlier this month, California dairy farmers voted whether to join a federal milk marketing order for the state. Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture has yet to announce the results of the vote, the state's three largest dairy cooperatives, which represent the majority of the state's milk, reportedly bloc-voted on behalf of their members, indicating approval of the order.USDA has said implementation of a California federal order, if it is approved, is expected no later than Nov. 1. Currently, California dairy farmers operate under a state milk pricing system administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, while the majority of farmers in other states operate under a federal-order system.Exactly how the change would affect each individual farmer remains unclear, Tulare County dairy farmer Frank Mendonsa said, though he noted some are "very optimistic," while he and others are taking a "wait-and-see approach."

A lot less pot is being sold in California than initially estimated, analyst says

The Los Angeles Times | Posted on May 30, 2018

With tax revenue from legal pot sales in California falling short of projections, a financial analysis firm estimated Tuesday that total sales this year will be $1.9 billion, significantly less than the $3.8 billion the company expected.The firm, New Frontier Data, had also estimated that total sales in California would reach $6.7 billion by 2025, but now says it is more likely the industry will generate $4.72 billion by then.Most cities in California have refused to allow pot businesses, and there are tough rules for those who want state licenses to grow, distribute and sell marijuana. 

Poultry breeders have ‘compelling’ sustainability story

Watt Ag Net | Posted on May 30, 2018

If people truly understood the science behind modern poultry genetics, there would be little justification for the movement toward slower-growing broiler breeds, a University of California-Davis (UCD) extension specialist said. Speaking at the 2018 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit on May 3, Alison van Eenennaam, PhD, UCD Cooperative Extension Specialist, animal genomics and biotechnology, said that animal breeders, including poultry breeders “have possibly the most compelling sustainability story of all time.”But opponents of modern animal agriculture have painted a negative picture of the broiler breeds used in the industry today, advocating for a move to slower-growing broilers, similar to those that were used in the industry in the 1950s. Those people are ignoring the science, she said.

America should look to states on how to shape immigration policy

The Hill | Posted on May 30, 2018

In the national immigration debate, anti-immigrant rhetoric is at a fever pitch generated by politicians bent on inciting a cultural war and exploiting the fears many Americans have about their economic situation and how their communities are changing. But to truly understand the role of immigrants in the United States, we must look to the states and localities where immigrants live. In spite of efforts by fear-mongering politicians to divide us, both “red” and “blue” states have a proud history of advancing policies that acknowledge and encourage the contributions of all members of their communities, regardless of where they were born. In the midst of monumental national policy debates, it is just as critical to focus on the immediate needs of immigrant and refugee families, and the communities where they feel the most direct impact. While year after year the focus has been on the “failure” of federal immigration reform, we have seen local governments enact measures to make college more accessible, to increase public safety by ensuring access to driver’s licenses, to provide children with access health care, and to keep families safe.

It’s been a ‘calving season from hell’

The Western Producer | Posted on May 30, 2018

Veterinarians say many producers across the Prairies experienced higher than normal calf deaths this year, pointing to the long winter, a vitamin shortage and poor forage quality as the main culprits.While prairie- and province-wide data is unavailable, some veterinarians saw calf deaths range anywhere from normal to 10 percent. There was also at least one case where calf loss reached 25 per cent.Typical death rates average two to three percent, according to previous surveys by the University of Saskatchewan, therefore making this year the “calving season from hell” for some producers, said Dr. Eugene Janzen, a veterinarian and professor with the University of Calgary. “That’s what some producers were saying and I’ve never heard it phrased like that,” he said.“We could expect our calf crop to be severely affected.”Janzen said of the 12 to 15 herds he helped, he saw calf death rates reach 10 percent and go as high as 25 percent. Other veterinarians, however, didn’t see calf mortality reach that high.

Judge: USFWS illegally denied bi-state sage grouse listing

Capital Press | Posted on May 30, 2018

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted illegally in 2015 when it denied Endangered Species Act protection for a distinct population of bi-state sage grouse in California and Nevada, a federal judge ruled.  U.S. District Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero in San Francisco said in an 85-page opinion that the agency ignored its own best scientific evidence when it reversed course three years ago on its 2013 proposal to declare the bird threatened.The bi-state sage grouse found along the California-Nevada border in the Mono Basin along the Sierra’s eastern front is related to but distinct from the greater sage grouse, which lives in a dozen western states and is at the center of a disputed Trump administration plan to roll back protections adopted under President Obama.The judge said the service wrongly concluded voluntary conservation measures in the works were legally adequate to stem the loss of bi-state grouse habitat resulting from urban sprawl, livestock grazing, wildfires, invasive plants, mining and other development.