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Agriculture News

Connecticut Restores $1.4 Million In Subsidies For Dairy Farmers

Hartford Courant | Posted on May 31, 2018

nnecticut’s dwindling contingent of dairy farmers was breathing just a bit easier Tuesday after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced he’s been able to restore $1.4 million in subsidies to help dairy operations survive ongoing low milk prices.The money for this fiscal year’s remaining dairy subsidies was chopped last October as part of the legislature’s struggle to deal with multibillion dollar budget deficits. “Thank goodness,” was the reaction Tuesday from Matt Freund, a New Canaan dairy farmer, when he learned that the $1.4 million is being restored. “It’s going to help keep us in business long enough for milk prices to come back up,” Freund said of the state subsidy program.Steven K. Reviczky, state agriculture commissioner, said the subsidy “provides a critical lifeline for Connecticut’s dairy farmers and their families.”

Bill to Boost Urban Agriculture in Illinois Heads to Rauner’s Desk

WTTW | Posted on May 31, 2018

Legislation that could help break up food deserts in Chicago and other cities across the state passed the Illinois Senate last week and now awaits the signature of Gov. Bruce Rauner. The bill would allow local governments to provide incentives such as reduced water rates and utility fees and property tax abatements for farmers in “urban agriculture zones” established at the municipal or county level.After passing the Illinois House by a vote of 86-22 in April, the bill passed the state Senate on May 23 by a unanimous 55-0 vote, sending it to Rauner’s desk for final approval.“[The legislation] will help open doors for urban farmers to supply healthy foods, grow valuable jobs and revitalize land in communities needing extra support,” said Rodger Cooley, executive director of the Chicago Food Policy Action Council, in a statement. The nonprofit aims to increase access to healthy foods in underserved Chicago neighborhoods.

The Linkages between Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Regional Food Networks

Choices magazine | Posted on May 31, 2018

Our overall hypothesis is that more-integrated RFNs will enhance entrepreneurship and innovation through opportunities for adaptation and increased diversity at multiple scales, which will contribute cumulatively to social, ecological, and economic resilience in the food system (Figure 1). RFNs enhance diversity by expanding the range of food marketing options. They present adaptive strategies for small and midsize farm and food businesses as they struggle to compete in the global food system. Small and midsize farms may also be more willing and able than larger operations to adapt their operations to new regional markets.

Creating Entrepreneurial Relationships to Support Prosperous Food Networks

Choices magazine | Posted on May 31, 2018

The Breeze Farm in Orange County, North Carolina, represents a growing trend in the United States of those without a farming or ranching background entering a career in farming (North Carolina Cooperative Extension, 2018). Started in 2008, Breeze Farm is an incubator program, supported by North Carolina Cooperative Extension and public–private collaborative funding, Breeze Farm provides a place for farm enthusiasts to test out skills and markets. Land, tools, infrastructure, and services are available as a part of the lease, which significantly reduces the start-up burden for many beginning, small-scale farmers. Participants of the Breeze Farm program complete a business-planning course, then take their knowledge to the field through the incubator lease agreement. Breeze Farm tenants stay 3–4 years on average, then transition out of the program. The majority of the participants use organic and other conservation practices. The program participants also have the option to bring their own tools and equipment such as a small tractor. Beyond receiving technical support, participants have opportunities to introduce new crops to diversify the local food scene or provide for ethnic demand, as well as to exchange information and experiences to support each other. 

An Overview of Crop Insurance

Illinois Farm Policy News | Posted on May 31, 2018

The CRS report explained that, “From 2007 to 2016, the federal crop insurance title had the second-largest outlays in the farm bill after nutrition. The total net cost of the program during those years was about $72 billion. For FY2018 through FY2027, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that crop insurance will continue to be the second-largest farm bill outlay after nutrition, averaging about $7.7 billion a year, assuming current law remains in effect. After describing several of the challenges faced by early crop insurance providers, and including valuable historic perspective on the development of the modern federal crop insurance program, the report stated, “Between 1980 and 2015, acres enrolled in crop insurance grew from 26.6 million acres (12% of eligible acres) to about 238 million acres (86% of all acres), excluding hay, pasture, range, and forage and separately livestock and nurseries.  During that time frame, the number of crops insured increased from 28 to 123. The types of policies offered also increased over this period from one—yield insurance—to over 20, including yield, revenue, margin, and whole farm revenue, among others.”

Wisconsin's agriculture agent shortage heralds the end of an era for rural America | Posted on May 31, 2018

The University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension has reduced its fleet, bought out ranks of rural agents, and cut the number of positions across the state. Now farmers stand to lose access to 100 years of knowledge at a time when they need it most. “Land rent is a very big topic right now,” says Lori Berget, a youth educator in Lafayette County’s cooperative extension office. “A lot of producers call in and want to know: ‘What can I pay for land rent?’ And on the flip side of that, a lot of producers are calling in and asking: ‘What can I charge for land rent?’”Berget and her co-workers are uniquely qualified to answer those questions. They’re called extension agents: Experts employed by the state’s land-grant university—a state- and federally-funded public institution founded on the study of agriculture, and dedicated to educating farming and working-class families—to bring farm research and technology to rural communities.Systems like the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension—so named because of financial and programmatic responsibilities shared by federal, state, and county governments—were key to the growth of American agriculture. After the Smith-Lever Act established the system in 1914, it was extension agents who taught farmers to implement crop and livestock management practices that not only allowed them to make a living, but also to feed the world.

Dozens of animal welfare activists arrested after large protest at Petaluma chicken farm

The Press Democrat | Posted on May 31, 2018

One of the largest animal welfare demonstrations ever held at a Sonoma County farm ended Tuesday with the peaceful arrests of 40 activists on suspicion of trespassing at an egg production facility northwest of Petaluma. An estimated 500 demonstrators rallied for more than three hours across the street from a farm on Liberty Road north of Rainsville Road. Along with egg production barns, the property houses the offices of Sunrise Farms, one of the North Bay’s largest egg producers.Before sheriff’s deputies arrived, dozens of activists walked onto the farm and took away about 10 chickens that were sick or dying, according to organizers of the Berkeley-based group Direct Action Everywhere. But Arnie Riebli, a partner of Sunrise Farms, said the activists’ accusations of animal abuse were unfounded.


Ag-Blockchain Nexus Growing

DTN | Posted on May 31, 2018

Investigators at the Food and Drug Administration spent the past two months trying to track the source of romaine lettuce linked to 172 confirmed illnesses, 75 hospitalizations and at least one death. The FDA found at least one Arizona farm involved but agency investigators can't confirm if all of the illnesses came from one grower, harvester, processor or distributor. They are still looking. Several consumer groups wrote the FDA last week pressing the agency to propose rules for "comprehensive and rapid traceability of produce, including leafy greens." The groups noted FDA has struggled in the past to find the source of outbreaks."This failure to fully solve this outbreak comes on the heels of another unsolved E. coli outbreak linked to leafy greens last fall," the groups wrote.Among the solutions, the consumer groups wrote to FDA, is blockchain technology. While FDA is taking months to find the source of a food outbreak, retailers and others have traced products from the store back to the farm in as little as 2.2 seconds.

How chicken feet became a crucial item in the U.S.-China trade talks

Observer | Posted on May 30, 2018

Every year, Americans eat over nine billion chickens. That means about 18 billion chicken feet, as well as tons of heads and chicken giblets, end up in trash bins every year. For years, that waste has been partly offset by a huge demand for chicken parts in China, where chicken feet are a popular ingredient in various dishes and snacks.To get a sense of the significance of the matter, chicken feet are now playing a critical role in the difficult trade talks between the two countries. When U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture Ted McKinney visits Beijing this week, his top priority will be pushing China to drop a ban on U.S. poultry imports, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.China consumes the largest amount of chicken feet in the world, eating more than what the country can produce itself. Every year, China imports about $1 billion of poultry; chicken feet alone account for 60 percent, or 300,000 tons.

Ethanol, farm groups sue EPA over refineries' biofuels exemptions

Reuters | Posted on May 30, 2018

A coalition of ethanol and farm groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, challenging its decision to free three refineries, including one owned by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, from annual biofuels requirements. The groups, including the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers Association, filed the challenge in a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, according to a statement from the coalition. The lawsuit targets three waivers doled out to refineries owned by CVR Energy Inc, in which Icahn hold a majority stake, and HollyFrontier Corp.Refiners are required by the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard to blend increasing volumes of biofuels like ethanol each year, but the EPA can offer exemptions for facilities under 75,000 barrels per day, if they experience “disproportionate economic hardship.” The number of waivers has soared, amplifying controversy over a program that has been a battleground for entrenched farm and oil interests in Washington for years. Oil refiners say the requirements cause undue financial strain, while corn and biofuels supporters say the waivers reduce demand for their products.In addition to challenging the waivers themselves, the group criticized the EPA for its lack of transparency. The EPA has refused to share details of which companies have asked for and received the waivers, citing confidential business information.