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Agriculture News

A right to repair: why Nebraska farmers are taking on John Deere and Apple

The Guardian | Posted on March 9, 2017

There are corn and soy fields as far as the eye can see around Kyle Schwarting’s home in Ceresco, Nebraska. The 36-year-old farmer lives on a small plot of land peppered with large agricultural machines including tractors, planters and a combine harvester. Parked up in front of his house is a bright red 27-ton Case tractor which has tracks instead of wheels. It’s worth about $250,000, and there’s a problem with it: an in-cab alarm sounds at ten-minute intervals to alert him to a faulty hydraulic connector he never needs to use. Because farm machinery is now so high-tech, the only way to silence the error message is by plugging in a special diagnostic tool – essentially a computer loaded with troubleshooting software that connects to a port inside the tractor – to identify and resolve the problem. Only manufacturers and authorized dealers are allowed that tool, and they charge hundreds of dollars in call-out fees to use it. For a fifth-generation farmer in an increasingly squeezed industry, whose family has spent decades fixing the equipment they paid for, it’s a tough pill to swallow. He’s coped with the intermittent alarm sound for almost a year. Kyle is one of many farmers in the US fighting for the right to repair their equipment. He and others are getting behind Nebraska’s “Fair Repair” bill, which would require companies to provide consumers and independent repair shops access to service manuals, diagnostic tools and parts so they aren’t limited to a single supplier. They have an unlikely ally: repair shops for electronic items like iPhones, tablets and laptops who struggle to find official components and information to fix broken devices. This means the bill could benefit not just farmers but anyone who owns electronic goods. There’s also a benefit to the environment, as it would allow for more refurbishment and recycling instead of sending equipment to the landfill.

Bovine TB found in SD beef herd

Capital Journal | Posted on March 9, 2017

State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven in Pierre confirmed bovine tuberculosis has been found in a South Dakota beef herd. Oedekoven says meat inspectors initially identified the suspect animals in February during routine slaughter inspection of otherwise healthy appearing cattle. The cattle were traced to a herd in Harding County. Testing of the herd revealed additional infected animals.Oedekoven says his office is working with the herd owner and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials to evaluate the extent of the disease. He says adjacent herds will be tested, and that bovine TB is not a food threat, because of milk pasteurization and meat inspection programs.

Hormel unit to increase chicken housing, handling standards

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 9, 2017

Hormel-owned natural and organic meat brand Applegate announced that by 2024, the company intends to elevate and third-party verify its standards for broiler chickens to be consistent with Global Animal Partnership (GAP).  These changes will require, among other things, using broiler chicken breeds that are scientifically proven to have improved welfare outcomes.

Land O'Lakes reports record earnings

Feedstuffs | Posted on March 9, 2017

Despite continued challenges within the farm sector, Land O'Lakes Inc. reported record net earnings for the year ending Dec. 31, 2016, which it said was powered by growth in core businesses and the unification with United Suppliers.

Tennessee bird flu update

Outbreak News Today | Posted on March 9, 2017

Highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza has been detected in a Tyson breeder flock in Tennessee. In a follow-up on the avian influenza situation in Tennessee, USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) has confirmed the full subtype for the highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza reported in Lincoln County, TN. The virus has been identified as North American wild bird lineage H7N9 HPAI based upon full genome sequence analysis of the samples at the NVSL. All eight gene segments of the virus are North American wild bird lineage. This is NOT the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia. While the subtype is the same as the China H7N9 lineage that emerged in 2013, this is a different virus and is genetically distinct from the China H7N9 lineage.

Visualizing U.S. Farmland Ownership, Tenure, and Transition

USDA | Posted on March 9, 2017

2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) survey-Details about agricultural land for 25 States, 6 regions, and the contiguous United States.USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and Economic Research Service (ERS) jointly conducted the 2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) survey to shed light on the 911 million acres of agricultural land—held by both operator and non-operator landlords—in the contiguous 48 States.

Foreign-born workforce vital to local and national economy

Garden City Telegram | Posted on March 9, 2017

The President said in September that undocumented immigrants are costing the U.S. more than $113 billion annually. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) was reportedly the source of that number, and they noted that state and local governments pay the vast majority of that amount at $84 billion a year, but also reported that the actual net cost incurred by undocumented immigrants residing illegally in the U.S. is closer to $99 billion. But officials in various segments of the agricultural industry, including dairy, meat and produce, all seem to agree on one thing: the foreign-born workforce is vital to American agriculture, and in many ways it is still in need of enhancement. As for the local economy, Lona DuVall, president of the Finney County Economic Development Corporation, said the presence of foreign-born workers, undocumented or otherwise, has been a boon to the community.“We caution our community members and our business owners to realize that a lot of things they hear about in the national news just simply aren’t happening here,” DuVall said. “When they tell the stories of immigrants who may or may not be taking advantage of the system in some communities, we don’t feel like that’s happening here.”  DuVall said 5,000 jobs have been created in Finney County over the last few years, adding that the current level of job creation would not be sustainable without the immigrant influx. “I think it’s just important for people to ask the questions locally,” she said. “Don’t buy into the rhetoric. Don’t believe everything you hear or see that is happening in other places, because that’s not the situation in our community.” Kristi Boswell, the Washington, D.C.-based director of congressional relations on labor and immigration at Farm Bureau, said more than 80 percent of the agricultural workforce in the U.S. is foreign-born, and more than half are presumed to be undocumented.

With Farm Labor Getting Scarcer, Big U.S. Farms Are Preparing To Turn To Robots

Forbes | Posted on March 9, 2017

Buoyed by an inexpensive migrant workforce, California has been the United States’ agricultural mainstay for nearly a century, currently producing about 60 percent of the nation’s fresh produce. But as the state’s minimum wage approaches $15 an hour and competition from a growing Mexican economy mounts, producers face unprecedented operating costs and a workforce that has dropped by 60 percent since the 1990s.  Add to this President Trump’s moves to restrict immigration, which threatens to significantly curtail the sector’s already depressed labor supply. Leading California-based growers like Driscoll’s Berries and Taylor Farms are feeling the immediacy of Trump’s executive orders, as millions of dollars of specialty crops are growing right now that will require a workforce to pick them at the end of the season. Together they spend over a billion dollars on labor each year. “Nothing short of our businesses are at risk here,” said Kevin Murphy, CEO of Driscoll’s. And yet, unlike the CEOs of Tesla, Under Armour, and Johnson & Johnson, agribusiness leaders have not received their invitation to the White House to discuss agriculture’s place within the administration. Murphy and Taylor Farms CEO Bruce Taylor are both looking to automation – ie robots – to tackle their sector’s labor problems. “Everyone in this industry sees the limited nature of labor and its increasing cost, and I believe Driscoll’s Berries is in a position to accelerate the kinds of advancements we need so that people can pick twice as fast- and hopefully make twice as much as they do today.” Murphy said. “We can’t spend the next 10 years doing this, we’ve got to get this going in the next two to three.”

Data Coalition, Growers Join to Launch National Ag Data Cooperative

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on March 9, 2017

A cooperative of growers and an agricultural data nonprofit have agreed to combine their technology platforms and create a vital resource for data-driven agriculture — a neutral, secure and private data storage repository controlled by growers. The combined platforms will be known as AgXchange™ and will be an independent data repository commercially available through the Growers Ag Data Cooperative (GADC) where producers can control, store, view and share their farm data assets.

New Holland Announces Data-Sharing Agreements

Wisconsin Ag Connection | Posted on March 9, 2017

New Holland has announced it has secured agreements to enable wireless data transfer capabilities between its PLM Connect precision land management system and service providers, including Decisive Farming, Encirca services, Onsite, and MapShots, Inc.  If they so choose, users of PLM Connect will have the ability to share their agronomic data from their management portal directly to and from these third-party providers.  "We are very excited to add these providers which will allow our customers to be able to seamlessly share their data through PLM Connect," said Luke Zerby, New Holland's Precision Land Management Marketing Manager. "New Holland has a long and storied history of providing their customers with the latest tools to help them be successful and profitable."  Depending on the services offered by the provider, these producers may elect to share yield maps, guidance line patterns and much more from any computer or tablet connected to the Internet. In return, the service providers will be able to send resulting prescriptions and analysis.