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Agriculture News

Now Your Pets Might Infect You With Superbugs

NBC news | Posted on August 18, 2016

Pets might be a source of drug-resistant superbugs, Chinese researchers reported. They found a pet shop worker infected with a much-feared antibiotic resistant strain of E. coli may have been infected by dogs at his store that carried the same strain.  The 50-year-old man with a kidney inflammation had an infection with E. coli bacteria carrying the dreaded mcr-s gene — a little cassette of DNA that provides resistance to an important group of antibiotics, which other bacteria can pass around like a tray of snacks.  Tests on 39 dogs and 14 cats in the pet shop where the man worked turned up mcr-1 in four dogs and two cats, they reported in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Plus the bacteria infecting the animals were resistant to a range of other drugs, too.  Tests on 39 dogs and 14 cats in the pet shop where the man worked turned up mcr-1 in four dogs and two cats. Plus the bacteria infecting the animals were resistant to a range of other drugs, too.

New Study Shows Neonicotinoids Pose Little Practical Risk To Bees

Growing Produce | Posted on August 18, 2016

While neonicotinoid pesticides can harm honeybees, a new study by Washington State University (WSU) researchers shows that the substances pose little risk to bees in real-world settings. The team of WSU entomologists studied apiaries in urban, rural and agricultural areas in Washington, looking at potential honeybee colony exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides from pollen foraging. The results were published in the Jpurnal of Economic Entomology. After calculating the risk based on a “dietary no observable adverse effect concentration” – the highest experimental point before there is an adverse effect on a species – of five parts per billion, the study’s results suggest low potential for neonicotinoids to harm bee behavior or colony health. “Calculating risk, which is the likelihood that bad things will happen to a species based on a specific hazard or dose, is very different from calculating hazard, which is the potential to cause harm under a specific set of circumstances,” said co-author Allan Felsot, WSU Tri-Cities Professor of Entomology and Environmental Toxicology. “Most of what has dominated the literature recently regarding neonicotinoids and honeybees has been hazard identification,” he said. “But hazardous exposures are not likely to occur in a real-life setting.”

Cancelling Atrazine Would Cost Farmers $2.5 billion

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on August 18, 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency released its draft report on ecological risks of Atrazine in June of this year as part of its re-registration process for the herbicide. If the assessment recommendations are allowed to stand, farmers would essentially lose access to atrazine, and that would cost farmers a lot of money. The National Corn Growers Association says the EPA report could cost the industry up to $2.5 billion in yield losses and increased production costs, all at a time when incomes are down sharply. A 2012 University of Chicago study showed that farming without atrazine would cost farmers an extra $59 per acre. That is a large boost in costs when farm incomes have dropped 55 percent in the past two years. A jump in costs that high would not only affect producers but would have ramifications across the entire agribusiness industry.

European Union reviewing DuPont-Dow merger

Delawareonline | Posted on August 17, 2016

The European Union's antitrust commission has raised concerns about the historic merger between Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. and may require more concessions before approving the nearly $122 billion deal. United States, Brazil and Canada are running similar investigations of proposed arrangement. Last week, the European Union's Competition Commission initiated a second review for the $130 billion merger, which was approved in July by shareholders of both companies. The panel will look at whether the merger will reduce competition in seeds, crop protections and other areas. Reviews are required under EU law before a merger takes place.

Virginia Beach is placing a cap on the value of agricultural land

The Virginian Pilot | Posted on August 17, 2016

armers want the city to cap the value of agricultural land so property taxes don’t get out of control when crop prices are doing well.  Over the past seven years, the value of an acre jumped by $1,820. Land values rise and fall based on the price of corn, wheat and soybeans.  When crop prices were up, those increases were passed on to farmers.  “If you owned, your tax costs went up,” Agriculture Director David Trimmer said. “And if you rent it, your rent went up.”  But when commodity prices drop like they have over the past three years, it takes a while for the land values to adjust, Trimmer said.  Real Estate Assessor Jerry Banagan plans to cap the agriculture land values at $1,800 per acre based on the most recent assessment of farmland in 2009. The change will be reflected in the tax period covering July through December, he said during a presentation to council members Tuesday. The city will lose $73,200 in taxes during that time.

Ohio and Michigan report H3N2v ‘swine flu’ infections linked to pigs at fairs

Outbreak News Today | Posted on August 17, 2016

Four human infections with influenza viruses that normally circulate in swine (swine influenza) were reported by CDC this week. When swine influenza viruses are detected in people they are called “variant” viruses and are designated with a letter v at the end of the virus subtype. The four human infections were caused by H3N2v viruses in Ohio (2) and Michigan (2). All four patients reported attending fairs where they had exposure to pigs during the week preceding illness onset. Pigs at the fairs have reportedly tested positive for swine influenza A (H3N2) infection. The Ohio patients are not related other than both of them reporting having attended the same fair in Ohio. Similarly the Michigan cases both attended the same fair in Michigan, but are otherwise unrelated to each other. CDC is working with state public health officials to support their human health responses and has recommendations for the public on what steps they can take to help protect against H3N2v and other swine influenza viruses.

Rapid US cage-free egg farm expansions lead to ‘chaos’

Watt Ag Net | Posted on August 17, 2016

Cal-Maine president says potential US retail egg market conversion to cage-free eggs has already caused losses for egg producers. The number of non-organic cage-free layers housed in the U.S. rose to 16.6 million head in April of 2016, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. This is roughly double the 8.7 million head housed in 2014. With all the pledges made by retailers, foodservice outlets and food manufacturers to purchase cage-free eggs, it would seem cage-free eggs would be flying off the grocery store shelves in the U.S. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Most of the cage free purchase pledges have 2025 as the year when transition to cage free will be completed, and most of the retail pledges carry provisions with exceptions around availability and affordability of cage-free eggs. These purchase pledge deadlines don’t contain interim benchmarks, so egg producers have concerns regarding timing of cage-free expansions or conversions with actual increases in market demand for cage-free eggs.Chad Gregory, president and CEO, United Egg Producers, suggested that the timing of so many cage-free purchase pledges all taking place in 2025 could lead to chaos in egg markets for egg purchasers and consumers.“We don’t need to wait until 2025 for chaos; it is already here,” said Adolphus Baker, president, chief executive and chairman of board of directors, Cal Maine Foods. The glut of cage-free eggs coupled with an oversupply of eggs in general in the U.S. has resulted in some egg producers diverting cage-free eggs to breakers rather than being sold at retail.

University's new technology blossoming in agriculture

Magic Valley | Posted on August 17, 2016

Williamson is referring to two projects Bulanon is developing at NNU. One is the IdaBOT, which is a robot that can move on its own through vineyards and orchards. The other is a multi-spectral camera, which captures multiple color wavelengths that would aid in counting fruit blossoms to estimate crop yield. The idea came to Bulanon when talking with Williamson in April during the blossom season. Bulanon flew a drone over the orchard and took near-infrared pictures of the blossoms, which showed up more clearly on the image than if a normal camera would take it. By counting blossoms rather than more ripe fruit, yield can be estimated earlier.Bulanon hopes to make the camera small enough that it could be attached to a cellphone and work through an app. Bulanon and his team will find out how many pictures of blossoms and fruit need to be taken, and from what angles, to most accurately estimate yield. Right now, Williamson and other workers count fruit on branches on certain trees and then multiply and average the count through the 24-acre orchard to estimate yield.

State to consider $11.5 million in tax credits for Prestage project

Des Moines Register | Posted on August 17, 2016

Iowa economic development leaders will consider providing about $11.5 million in tax credits for Prestage Farm’s $240 million proposed hog processing plant near Eagle Grove. Prestage, a North Carolina hog and turkey producer, would need to create 922 jobs, with 322 of them paying a minimum of $15.54 an hour, plus benefits, to receive the incentives. About $8.6 million of the state tax credits are based on new job creation and nearly $2.9 million would be a rebate of sales taxes and other fees the company paid during construction.  Tina Hoffman, the agency’s spokeswoman, said the state incentives are similar to those offered Prestage when it considered locating the project in Mason City.

Credit Becomes Gatekeeper

DTN | Posted on August 17, 2016

A year ago, university economists warned that typical Illinois corn farmers would need to shave $100 an acre off average cash rent and production costs if they hoped to break even in 2016. Renters hesitated, landlords balked, most input suppliers held firm. Big savings didn't happen.  Now, worse prospects for 2017 grain markets mean many cash renters will have little choice but to plead poverty when renewing leases this fall. What's different this time is that farm lenders will be the referees making sure rent gets knocked down a serious notch or two, some analysts caution.  Three consecutive years of falling farm incomes from 2014-2016 will have "evaporated" working capital below acceptable credit standards for many producers, cautioned Sterling Liddell, an economist with Rabobank's Food and Agribusiness Research group. In a new report on cash rents and land values, Liddell wants landowners to get a wake-up call when land rents are renegotiated this fall.