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Agriculture News

Bayer, Monsanto start $2.5 bln asset sale to get merger clearance - sources

Reuters | Posted on March 15, 2017

German drug and crop chemical maker Bayer and U.S. seeds company Monsanto are launching asset sales worth roughly $2.5 billion as they seek regulatory clearance for their $66 billion merger, people close to the matter said. To kick off an auction process, Bayer's advisors will send out information packages next week to prospective bidders for the businesses, which have been divided into three bundles of assets, the people said. Bayer and Monsanto have said in the past that they expect to divest activities with combined sales of up to $1.6 billion.


Amid Trump’s immigration crackdown, there’s fear on farms

Boston Globe | Posted on March 15, 2017

The demands of 3,800 heifers at CY Farms dictate the rhythm of labor. Farm workers deliver feed down a central aisle of a massive barn. They scrape away manure with tractors. They inject the cows with vitamin B. On a rainy day, the din on the huge metal roof drowns out the moos.  But beyond the usual problems with tractor repairs and feed prices, this season has brought a new worry: the serious threat that farm workers will be deported as part of President Trump’s immigration crackdown.Migrant labor has long been essential to the dairy farmers in the rolling fields of Western New York. Now, those farmers are arriving at work every day wondering how many of their employees will still be there.Migrant workers, especially those who are undocumented, also worry; they are afraid to leave their employers’ farms to shop because they fear being apprehended by authorities and deported. Reports of workers being picked off farms throughout the country have only added to the atmosphere of fear hanging over the idyllic farming community.

 


Farm pads keep livestock above flood water

King 5 | Posted on March 13, 2017

Flooding is a chronic problem for livestock farmers in the Snoqualmie Valley. As rising water has worsened over the last few years, a King County program that protects cattle during floods is also rising in popularity.  K-T Cattle beef cows spend their entire lives on the same farm, but their home is about to move closer to the Snoqualmie River."In order to move the operation up here in order to scale it, the whole thing goes under water. We have to be able to get them out of the water," explained owner Jim Haack. "It looks like a lake with the tops of the trees sticking out."Like most livestock farmers in the Snoqualmie Valley, flooding is an annual challenge. It's why his new elevated barn sitting atop a "farm pad" will literally save lives. It will also help feed lives, keeping beef local year round but also dry. The King County farm pad program helps farmers secure funding and engineering work. Since the program started in 2008, 30 farm pads have risen in the Snoqualmie Valley. According to the program's website, it gives "technical assistance for flood modeling; engineering and design assistance; logistical support for construction of farm pads, such as facilitating the movement of material from our capital project sites in the vicinity to the farm pad site; and assess alternative means of mitigating flood risks without placing fill material in the floodplain."Haack has a 2-year waiting list for his beef. His cows may not know they're in such high demand, but they do know they prefer walking over swimming.


Planned dairy in Hawaii withdraws impact statement

Capital Press | Posted on March 13, 2017

A planned dairy farm in Hawaii has taken a step back by withdrawing parts of its application to allow more time for discussion of its likely environmental impact. Kauai’s Hawaii Dairy Farms withdrew its Final Environmental Impact Statement from state consideration on Tuesday, reported The Garden Island. Spokeswoman Amy Hennessey said in a release that the dairy wants to allow time for additional responses to comments on its plan to keep a minimum of 699 dairy cows on a 557-acre site in Kauai’s Mahaulepu Valley. Opponents of the dairy see a chance to stop its construction


California growers assess damage amid storms, flooding

Capital Press | Posted on March 13, 2017

Storms in California combined with already high river and creek levels and saturated ground to cause widespread flooding, waterlogging field crops and interfering with the almond blossom. Farmers are still taking stock of the damage from this week’s heavy storms that flooded fields, blew trees over and caused havoc with the almond blossom.Standing water was still in farm fields in the Sacramento Valley a week after heavy rain forced the evacuation of Maxwell, Calif., Colusa County agricultural officials said.In the Salinas Valley, the artichoke and cauliflower fields that weren’t under water after nearly 3 inches of weekend rainfall were so muddy that workers couldn’t get to them. The conditions slowed harvest and caused delays in planting.


Calling Out The Anti-Science Denialists

Civil Beat | Posted on March 12, 2017

The future of Hawaii agriculture hangs in the balance this legislative session.  Having lost in the courts the battle over whether county governments even have the jurisdiction to regulate genetically modified crops, anti-science advocates have moved to state government, hoping there to revive the “genetic modification (sic)” Salem Witch Trials. These people oppose genetics, the science.Now, with the sugar industry gone and Hawaii’s largest agricultural activity, the corn seed industry, shrinking from the recent global commodity price collapse, anti-science advocates seek its annihilation and that of all modern agriculture. Since they can’t deny that transgenic modification yielded their diabetes medicine, a vaccine for Ebola, revival of Hawaii’s papaya industry, a 90 percent reduction in U.S. corn insecticide use since the 1990s, and not a single instance of adverse human health or environmental harm documented in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature, ever, they have to just wing it. They need a new object for their obsession: pesticides.This year’s legislation to regulate already regulated pesticides originates in the findings of a Joint Fact Finding report by a group on Kauai from which all of the scientists resigned. The JFF report hysterically rehashed old rumors to insinuate, without evidence, imaginary health problems irresponsibly attributed to Kauai farming companies, winning the Pulitzer Prize for bogacity in 2016.The JFF ignored a Hawaii Tumor Registry report prepared for the Hawaii Department of Health concluding that “there is no evidence of higher incidence of cancer on the island of Kauai overall or for specific geographic regions of the island, as compared to the state of Hawaii.”Read the science. Even the JFF confirmed absence of evidence of any causal link between restricted use pesticides and human health. Fear-mongering is not science.


Federal agencies need to prepare for greater quantity, range of biotechnology products

EurekAlert | Posted on March 12, 2017

A profusion of biotechnology products is expected over the next five to 10 years, and the number and diversity of new products has the potential to overwhelm the U.S. regulatory system, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other agencies involved in regulating biotechnology products should increase their scientific capabilities, tools, and expertise in key areas of expected growth, said the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report.  "The rate at which biotechnology products are introduced -- and the types of products -- are expected to significantly increase in the next five to 10 years, and federal agencies need to prepare for this growth," said committee chair Richard Murray, Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering, California Institute of Technology. "We hope this report will support agency efforts to effectively evaluate these future products in ways that ensure public safety, protect the environment, build public confidence, and support innovation."  The U.S. biotechnology economy is growing rapidly, with the scale, scope, and complexity of products increasing. More types of organisms will likely be engineered, the report notes, and the kinds of traits introduced with biotechnology will also increase.


How Farmers Business Network Plans To Disrupt Big Agra, One Farm At A Time

Forbes | Posted on March 10, 2017

Charles Baron has a story he likes to tell about the time that farmers in North Dakota saw his data. Baron’s startup, Farmers Business Network, pools data from farmers and shares insights from the group back with its members. And for one corn crop across thousands of acres in North Dakota, the data said that Baron’s customers were planting the lowest yielding, highest priced seed on the market. “The difference was a lot of money,” Baron says. “So we said, don’t shoot us as the messenger. But what’s going on?” A farmer finally raised his hand, the cofounder explains. “And he says, they took me elk hunting. And then a couple of others raise their hands…” Longtime relationships and free trips to Disney; a heavily consolidated market of suppliers that thrives on a lack of information – that’s how sales have operated for decades in U.S. agriculture, the startup cofounder argues. It’s also why Farmer’ Business Network’s data-driven, pro-transparency approach has taken off so fast since launching just two years ago. And it’s why some of agriculture’s leading players would like to see the controversial business fail.


New lows for animal rights activists

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 10, 2017

Last week, a vegan “animal advocate” in Georgia intentionally crashed into a truck hauling live chickens – not once, but twice. She claimed to be concerned about the safety of the birds and wanted to prevent them from reaching their ultimate destination – the processing plant.Luckily, the driver of the truck was not injured and maintained control, preventing what could have been a massive accident. Apparently, this “animal advocate” didn’t think about what could happen to the driver of the truck and other drivers – not to mention the birds on the truck – if her efforts had been successful.


Ranchers assess damage after wildfires in 4 states

ABC News | Posted on March 10, 2017

Kansas rancher Greg Gardiner got into some of his scorched pastures for the first time Wednesday and surveyed what he likened to a battle zone: carcasses of dead cattle everywhere. "It's pretty much a catastrophe," Gardiner said as he looked out on his ranch near Ashland, charred by wildfires that have burned through hundreds of acres in four states. "It's as bad as a mind can make it."Gardiner cries when he talks about how thankful he is that none of his family members were lost in wildfires that that have led to the deaths of six people. Gardiner's brother Mark lost his home — like dozens of other people in largely rural areas of Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado — but he is safe.Gardiner figures he lost 500 cattle. Any badly burned animals found still alive are mercifully shot. "A lot of people have gone out and run out of shells and come back to get more shells," said Gardiner, speaking by cellphone. "It's pretty grisly work out here right now, to be honest." He saw a coyote's carcass and wryly stated that there's not even coyotes left to clean up the dead. No wildlife is left as far as he can tell.While cattle producers like Gardiner spent much of Wednesday assessing their losses, fire crews were attempting to extinguish the blazes. Most of the burned land is in Kansas, where more than 1,000 square miles has been consumed in a series of blazes, including one believed to be the largest in the state's recorded history.It is too soon to know yet how many animals perished. In Clark County, where Gardiner lives, ranchers so far have lost about 2,500 adult cattle and at least 1,000 calves, said Randall Spare, co-owner of Ashland Veterinary Center."It is just horrendous," rancher David Clawson said from his home near Englewood, a Kansas town of about 50 residents where a fire destroyed 12 homes.Ranch hands were among those who have been killed in the fires. In the Texas Panhandle, three ranch hands died trying to save cattle from fires that have burned nearly 750 square miles.Gray County Judge Richard Peet said it appears 20-year-old Cody Crockett was on horseback and his girlfriend, 23-year-old Sydney Wallace, was nearby on foot as fire and smoke swirled around them. Peet says Wallace died of smoke inhalation. Crockett suffered burns, as did 35-year-old Sloan Everett who also was on horseback. Their bodies were found near each other.


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