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Agriculture News

Ontario dairy farmers dumping skim milk into manure pits and sewer lagoons

National Post | Posted on June 13, 2016

Already forced for months to dump skim milk because there isn’t enough processing capacity in Ontario, a bad situation could get worse if action isn’t taken to modernize aging plants, Ontario’s dairy farmers are warning.  In testimony before the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, Peter Gould, CEO of Dairy Farmers of Ontario said there could be a devastating impact on rural Ontario and rural Canada in the absence of a well-thought-out strategy.  “The status quo is not an option. Doing nothing is not an option,” Gould said. “It’s not a pretty picture.” Processing plants that turned skim milk into powder hit their capacity 12 months ago in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The industry has been disposing of skim milk almost every day since, he said.

A New CRISPR System for RNA

genengnews | Posted on June 13, 2016

While the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system has been “burning up the charts”, so to speak, with its extraordinary versatility and potential for treating a host of diseases, until now its editing capabilities have been limited to DNA. Whereas DNA editing makes permanent changes to the genome of a cell, a CRISPR-based RNA-targeting approach would allow investigators to make temporary changes that can be tuned up or down, and with greater specificity and functionality than existing methods for RNA interference. The research team was able to identify and functionally characterize C2c2, an RNA-guided enzyme capable of targeting and degrading RNA. Their findings revealed that C2c2—the first naturally occurring CRISPR system that targets only RNA to have been identified and initially discovered by this collaborative group in October 2015—helps protect bacteria against viral infection. The scientists were able to demonstrate that C2c2 can be programmed to cleave particular RNA sequences in bacterial cells, making it a valuable addition to the molecular biology toolbox.

Brazil faces corn shortage crisis | Posted on June 13, 2016

After Brazilian farmers watched a drought drop 2015/16 soybean yields, the second-corn harvest (safrinha) faces big yield losses due to adverse weather.  While it will turn to the U.S. for some corn imports, Brazil's end users will look to Argentina to fill in the major supply gaps, marketwatchers have recently said.

Assaults on modern agriculture

The Hill | Posted on June 9, 2016

Rejecting scientific advancements in agriculture may be in fashion, but this fad poses great dangers to the affordability and accessibility of food domestically and worldwide.  In three weeks, the second-smallest state by population is set to create chaos in the U.S. food supply chain. Vermont’s mandatory labeling law for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) takes effect on July 1, with Maine and Connecticut planning to follow suit. If states move forward with their own labeling laws using varying standards and definitions, this legal patchwork will force farmers to implement costly new procedures and equipment. Retailers will have to alter ingredients and distribution chains or face financial penalties. 

These costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers, with the biggest burdens falling to those who can afford them least.  As our global population grows, we should be celebrating producers’ ability to make safe, affordable foods available to more people while preserving our finite resources. Laws such as Vermont’s seek to vilify the very technology making these advancements possible.

Climate change spurs rise in mycotoxin contamination

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 9, 2016

Lectures at the 2016 World Mycotoxin Forum (WMF) addressed aspects of the event’s theme, “Mycotoxins in a changing world”; however, the consensus among many speakers touched on the undeniable impact climate change has had – and will increasingly have – on mycotoxin contamination in the global food and feed supply.  In coming years, agriculture will need to deal with a varied group of issues related to climate change and its residual effects: Grain producers may need to adjust how they plant, what they plant and when. Warmer weather will usher in more insect and fungi infestations, which, in turn, will result in increased use of pesticides and fungicides. And, as the representatives from European stakeholder agencies reported, climate change is likely to increase the prevalence of mycotoxins – affecting animal and human health, feed and food quality, and global trade.

Providing a transparency model for animal agriculture

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 9, 2016

Fair Oaks Farms demonstrates that American consumers can accept large-scale agriculture if they can see it for themselves.

Remember the happy cows in California advertisments with individual Holsteins on lush green hillsides? This imagery created an unreal expectation in the minds of consumers about how these animals were raised. What animal agriculture really needs to share with consumers are the real stories of how cows, pigs and poultry are raised on modern, large-scale farms. Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana has chosen to tackle the biosecurity and public relations challenges of welcoming a half-million visitors each year to tour its 37,000-cow dairy, 3,000-sow farrow-to-wean farm and, coming in 2017, half-million cage-free laying hen farm.

Backyard poultry linked to 7-state salmonella outbreak

Meatingplace | Posted on June 8, 2016

Seven outbreaks of salmonella linked to backyard poultry flocks have caused 324 cases of illnesses in 35 states since January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One death has been reported, and 66 people have been hospitalized. Results from investigations with local health, veterinary and agriculture officials, as well as USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, found the culprit to be human contact with live poultry such as chicks and ducklings from multiple hatcheries.

Crops Rot While Trump-Led Immigration Backlash Idles Farm Lobby

Bloomberg | Posted on June 8, 2016

The death of meaningful U.S. immigration reform, done in by Washington partisanship and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s incendiary comments on foreigners, is leaving crops withering in the field and the farm lobby with nowhere to turn as a labor shortage intensifies. Carlos Castaneda watched one-quarter of his Napa cabbages rot in three of his California fields this spring as 37 immigrant laborers scheduled to arrive March 13 under a farmworker visa program were delayed by bureaucratic paperwork. He said he’d like to see fixes to an immigration system that causes his crops to rot unharvested. But he has little hope that will happen in this political climate.

AFIA'S Foundation funds the revised Beef Nutrient Requirements

AFIA | Posted on June 8, 2016

The Institute for Feed Education & Research is pleased to announce its support of the recently released Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle: Eighth Revised Edition (Beef NRC) publication. IFEEDER largely funded the revision, donating $75,000 to the National Academies of Sciences.  The Beef NRC, originally published in 1944, serves as a reference to animal nutritionists, professors, and the cattle and feed industries in the development and implementation of nutritional and feeding programs for beef cattle. Since the revision of the seventh edition in 2000, the industry has undergone tremendous change, initiating the need for an eighth edition. 

State firm develops Fitbit-like device for cows

Fon du Lac Reporter | Posted on June 8, 2016

Cook learned skills for his startup from an entrepreneur development course at Fond du Lac's Emergent Technology Center. The 12-week session aims to help people bring their business ideas to fruition. Wisconsin often tracks near or at the bottom of state-by-state start-up rankings, but the center is working to change that.  Cook learned to develop back-end business planning steps to launch BoviSync. The software was largely completed when he enrolled in the course, but there are always more steps to starting a business than developing a good product, Cook said. He and his team had worked years on the software, so getting constructive feedback before launching was helpful, he said. "It's like building QuickBooks from scratch," Cook said. "You're not going to do it overnight."  Sitting at his kitchen table, Cook pulled up the BoviSync site on a Microsoft tablet. Through an array of graphs, he can see how much milk each cow produces over an extended period. The software allows nearby dairy farms to share their statistics (neighbor farms are rarely in direct competition) to compare if a production drop is isolated or a seasonal trend.