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Agriculture News

Deere Cutting Output as Farm Slump Continues

Wall Street Journal | Posted on August 22, 2016

Deere & Co. plans to cut additional production of its trademark green tractors and harvesting combines this fall in response to the continued downturn in the global farm economy.The world’s largest maker of farm equipment by sales said the cuts will affect plants in Illinois and Iowa, blaming weak demand in North America and markets in Europe and South America for the moves.Falling crop prices have hit farmer incomes and made them more reluctant to buy new machinery, while Deere and its rivals face a glut of used equipment from a near decadelong sales boom that ended three years ago.

Finney: I fouled up nitrates column

Des Moines Register | Posted on August 19, 2016

Let’s revisit a column I wrote earlier this month about Douglas and Kathleen Redhead. They’re the Des Moines couple who stopped paddling their canoe on the the Racoon River because of hteir concern about nitrates.  I see those stacked paragraphs as flawed. The Redheads’ fear about nitrates was legitimate insofar as it is how they actually feel about the river. Where I let you down, dear readers, is not articulating the scientific perspective that could have assuaged the Redheads' worries and eased the general public’s fears.“There are a lot of people upset about the article you wrote concerning the couple who stopped canoeing because of nitrates,” Tyler wrote. People in both his office and in the Iowa ag science community were “extremely frustrated about this article promulgating hysterical and mythical claims about health issues and nitrates.”  Tyler is also the kind of guy who would properly use the word “promulgating” in a sentence.  Schneiders said there is great confusion in the public about nitrates, but the bottom line is that high nitrate levels are a problem in drinking water for infants 6 months and younger and pregnant women.  There are no EPA warnings about adults drinking water with high levels of nitrates. None. Zero. And skin and incidental contact is of no concern either.  Richmond said the ongoing debate is whether nutrient strategy — which would include nitrates — should be voluntary or a matter of government regulation.

HSUS is going after chicken

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on August 18, 2016

It seems that HSUS has sent a letter to many CEOs of broiler companies with language noting their victories with layers and swine as well as their intent to now focus on the broiler industry. While I am not surprised at the attitude, I am somewhat flummoxed by their sending such an obvious threat.  I agree that they have won some major victories.  In the case of cage-free at the expense of the animals but nevertheless, the change is now a fact.  The swine issue with gestation stalls is also now a fact.  So what do they have in mind for broilers?  I took a look at their white paper on the topic.

Rural Mainstreet Economy Weakens in July: High Share of Crop Farmers with 2016 Negative Cash Flow

Creighton University Economic Outlook | Posted on August 18, 2016

Survey Results at a Glance: • For an 11th straight month, the Rural Mainstreet Index fell below growth neutral. • Farmland prices remained below growth neutral for the 32nd straight month. • Bank CEOs reported a 6 percent decline in farmland prices over the past year. Bankers expect cash expenses will exceed cash revenues for one in five crop farmers in the region. • Bank CEOs expect farm loan defaults to grow by 5.4 percent over the next year.

FDA policy changes may turn veterinarians into beekeepers

Bangor Daily News | Posted on August 18, 2016

They may be neither fish nor fowl, but as far as the United States government is concerned, honeybees are livestock.  Which means as of the first of the year, beekeepers — including the roughly 1,200 in Maine — will no longer have access to certain over-the-counter antibiotics used to treat the condition known as European foulbrood, and are going to need prescriptions for the drug from a licensed veterinarian. European Foulbrood is a bacterial disease that affects honeybee larvae before the capped stage and is characterized by dead and dying larvae in the hive.  “Thanks to a pending [Federal Drug Administration] policy and rule change, veterinarians will need to be involved,” according to Dr. Don Hoenig, former state veterinarian and beekeeper. “This is a major policy shift.”

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.