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Agriculture News

Farms’ lawsuit against California labor regulators revived

Capital Press | Posted on January 3, 2017

A lawsuit filed by two farms against California labor regulators has been revived by a federal appeals court, which ruled it’s plausible the companies were unfairly targeted.  The dispute relates to law passed by California lawmakers in 2015 that provided some — but not all — farms with safe harbor against certain labor lawsuits. Farms in the state were facing possible class action litigation after court rulings that piece-rate workers, such as those paid based on harvest amounts, must be paid the minimum wage even for breaks, meals and other “non-productive” periods. Before those rulings, farmers simply ensured that the total amount paid to piece-rate workers for a period of time exceeded the amount they’d be paid by the minimum wage. In response, California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 1513, which shields growers from liability as long as they correct “minimum wage deficiencies” that occurred between mid-2012 and the end of 2015.

In Europe, GMOs rejected by consumers, embraced by farmers

Capital Press | Posted on January 3, 2017

European consumers don’t approve of genetically engineered crops, but European farmers are eager to feed them to their livestock, according to a USDA report. As a result, Europe poses an economic opportunity for U.S. farmers while the threat of a consumer-driven trade disruption looms over exports of biotech crops, experts say. “As the global cultivation of GE crops expands, it is increasingly difficult for European importers to source non-biotech soybean products. Their availability is declining and prices are on the rise,” according to the new report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant provides training for rural veterinarians

High Plains Journal | Posted on January 3, 2017

Researchers from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine have received a nearly quarter-million dollar federal grant to improve rural veterinarians’ awareness of endemic, transboundary and emerging diseases of production animals. The $239,656 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is going to a Kansas State University-based team headed by Brad White, professor of production medicine and interim director of the Beef Cattle Institute.  The team will use the grant to conduct organized workshops and create online modules that enhance education and career development for rural veterinarians who work with production animals—livestock raised for food. Another goal of the grant is to enhance career opportunities for rural production animal veterinarians.

New Illinois Laws 2017: Agriculture, Animals and Hunting

Chicago Patch | Posted on January 3, 2017

The Wildlife Code (HB 4604/ PA 99-0866): Public Hunting Grounds for Game: Changes the name of the fee from "Public Hunting Grounds for Pheasants" to "Public Hunting Grounds for Game Birds."  Fish and Aquatic Life Code (HB 5788/PA 99-0867): Adds catfish to the list of aquatic life that may be taken by pitchfork, spear gun or bow and arrow.  The Wildlife Code/Youth Trapping License (SB 2410/PA 99-0868): Allows minors to apply for youth trapping licenses with limited privileges.  Wildlife/Hunter/Landowner SB 3003/ PA 99-0869): Allows only one application to be submitted for hunters hunting on their own land of over 40.  Local Food, Farm and Jobs Act HB 5933/ PA 99-0653): Removes provisions giving the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Council responsibility to develop, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, a label and certification program.  Department of Agricultural Law of the Civil Code (. (HB 4318/ PA 99-0823): Department of Agriculture may sell at cost, to qualified applicants, signs designating an agribusiness that has been operated for 100 years or more. (HB 4318/ PA 99-0823)  Property Tax Code (SB 2160/PA 99-0560): Extends sunset date on valuation of vegetative filter strips to December 31, 2026 (SB 2160/PA 99-0560).

Canada looks to tighten animal transportation protections

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on January 3, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has proposed an update to that country’s “Health of Animals Regulations” dealing with the transportation of animals.   The CFIA proposes to amend the regulations to:Provide clarification by adding definitions (for example definitions for “compromised” and “unfit” animals) and establishing clear requirements for regulated parties to better understand what is expected of them;Improve animal welfare and reduce risk of suffering during transportation by establishing clear and science-informed requirements that better reflect animals’ needs and current industry practices;Better align with the standards of Canada’s international trading partners and the OIE animal welfare standards for animals transported by land, air and sea; and Remove obsolete or unnecessary requirements to reduce the burden on the industry.

Growing Ohio promotes food, agriculture industry

Sidney Daily News | Posted on January 3, 2017

The Ohio Department of Agriculture recently unveiled the 2017 edition of Growing Ohio, a magazine and web program that promotes and educates how the food and agriculture community contributes to Ohio’s economic well-being. Stories highlight Ohio’s food producers, the local community and farm families. Articles focus on the state’s thriving and diverse agritourism; how women are growing their influence in the traditionally male-dominated agriculture industry; innovative agriculture education efforts through virtual field trips; and Ohio’s booming greenhouse industry. Find more innovative and engaging content about Ohio’s food and agriculture at Growing Ohio is part of, a national food and farming website that profiles America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers, and connects consumers to the country’s vital agriculture industry. The website includes recipes, data-based facts about U.S. agriculture and overviews of the farmers who produce our food, fuel and fiber.

Farming programs helps veterans learn to farm

Washington Times | Posted on January 3, 2017

Damon Helton had one problem when he bought a 160-acre farm in Lonsdale four years ago - he didn’t know the first thing about farming. Three years out of the military, the retired Army Ranger was still transitioning back to civilian life. He had a well-paying sales job, but it took him away from his wife and children too often. So he bought the Farm at Barefoot Bend in Garland County. “Then, it was like ‘Holy crap, what did we just do?’” he said. Fortunately for Helton, he discovered resources that catered to someone like him - a veteran looking to start a farm. More precisely, he found the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s Armed to Farm Program, the state Agriculture Department Homegrown By Heroes program and the Farmer Veteran Coalition.

Spread by trade and climate, bugs butcher America's forests

Fox News | Posted on January 3, 2017

In a towering forest of centuries-old eastern hemlocks, it's easy to miss one of the tree's nemeses. No larger than a speck of pepper, the Hemlock woolly adelgid spends its life on the underside of needles sucking sap, eventually killing the tree. The bug is one in an expanding army of insects draining the life out of forests from New England to the West Coast. Aided by global trade, a warming climate and drought-weakened trees, the invaders have become one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in the United States. Scientists say they already are driving some tree species toward extinction and are causing billions of dollars a year in damage — and the situation is expected to worsen. "They are one of the few things that can actually eliminate a forest tree species in pretty short order — within years," said Harvard University ecologist David Orwig as he walked past dead hemlocks scattered across the university's 5.8-square-mile research forest in Petersham. This scourge is projected to put 63 percent of the country's forest at risk through 2027 and carries a cost of several billion dollars annually in dead tree removal, declining property values and timber industry losses, according to a peer-reviewed study this year in Ecological Applications. That examination, by more than a dozen experts, found that hundreds of pests have invaded the nation's forests, and that the emerald ash borer alone has the potential to cause $12.7 billion in damage by 2020. Insect pests, some native and others from as far away as Asia, can undermine forest ecosystems. For example, scientists say, several species of hemlock and almost 20 species of ash could nearly go extinct in the coming decades. Such destruction would do away with a critical sponge to capture greenhouse gas emissions, shelter for birds and insects and food sources for bears and other animals. Dead forests also can increase the danger of catastrophic wildfires.

New Wood Technology May Offer Hope for Struggling Timber

ABC News | Posted on January 3, 2017

John Redfield watches with pride as his son moves a laser-guided precision saw the size of a semi-truck wheel into place over a massive panel of wood.  Redfield's fingers are scarred from a lifetime of cutting wood and now, after decades of decline in the logging business, he has new hope that his son, too, can make a career shaping the timber felled in southern Oregon's forests. That's because Redfield and his son work at D.R. Johnson Lumber Co., one of two U.S. timber mills making a new wood product that's the buzz of the construction industry. It's called cross-laminated timber, or CLT, and it's made like it sounds: rafts of 2-by-4 beams aligned in perpendicular layers, then glued — or laminated — together like a giant sandwich.  The resulting panels are lighter and less energy-intensive than concrete and steel and much faster to assemble on-site than regular timber, proponents say. Because the grain in each layer is at a right angle to the one below and above it, there's a counter-tension built into the panels that supporters say makes them strong enough to build even the tallest skyscrapers.

U.S. scrambles to clear egg exports to bird flu-hit Korea

Reuters | Posted on January 3, 2017

U.S. officials are urgently seeking an agreement with South Korea that would allow imports of American eggs so farmers can cash in on a shortage caused by the Asian country's worst-ever outbreak of bird flu. The two sides are negotiating over terms of potential shipments after South Korea lifted a ban on imports of U.S. table eggs that it imposed when the United States grappled with its own bout of bird flu last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If an agreement is reached, U.S. shipments could bring some relief to South Koreans who have faced soaring egg prices and rationing since the outbreak there began last month. The egg shipments also would help U.S. farmers cope with an oversupply that is depressing prices. The opportunity to profit by filling South Korea's shortfall with U.S. eggs has sent brokers and traders into overdrive.