Those Wisconsin dairy cows at the center of another trade kettle now boiling between the United States and Canada, a friend suggests, aren’t really black-and-white Holsteins.They’re tiny, yellow canaries, he opines, and their tweets—not President Donald J. Trump’s—are a warning that America’s reign as the world’s ag export superpower is fading and U.S. farmers and ranchers are ill-prepared for what comes next. “This (was) the first time milk was left and not picked up at any price,” explains the friend, after more than 60 Wisconsin dairy farms were notified by their Canada-based milk buyer that they would be dropped.That shocking news meant “We better make some decisions on the future of dairying real quick (because) every farm is expanding …to leverage survival.” Grain farmers, too, plow “every acre to plant more corn and beans to be sold below the cost of production.”And, he adds, “This is insane.”He’s right. More importantly, he isn’t the only one to hear canaries when he looks at the longer-term American ag picture. On April 21, a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal gave facts, figures, and dates on how and why America’s dominance in global ag export markets is not just slipping but flagging.“With 43% of the [soy] export market,” explained the Journal, “up from just 12% 30 years ago, Brazil can sway global prices…” Additionally, “It’s projected to be the second-largest corn exporter, on the heels of the U.S. this season.” But it’s just not big, growing Brazil, continued the Journal. “As of the last crop year, Russia now beats America in shipments of wheat.”That trend likely will continue. On April 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 2016/17 total U.S. wheat acres would fall to 46.1 million, the lowest since 1919, only because that’s “when U.S. wheat production records began.”Into this ongoing global ag realignment comes the almost perfectly paradoxical farm team of President Donald J. Trump and Sonny Perdue, his long-in-waiting secretary of agriculture. A more polar opposite pair would be hard to find.
At the end of a long gravel road in East College Station, the world's first cloned cat -- now 15 years old -- lives in what longtime Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science researcher Duane Kraemer describes affectionately as a "kitty barn." CC, also known as Copy Cat, was born in December 2001, the result of the 87th attempt at cloning a cat by Kraemer's lab at Texas A&M after several years of trying.Kraemer, who recently retired from the university, said the success was simply the product of his team's work in pushing the boundaries of what is possible to accomplish. Kraemer said CC even had a litter of her own years ago with a male cat named Smokey -- a test to see if she was genetically capable of reproduction. Today, she lives in a small house built by Kraemer and located in his back yard alongside Smokey and her three offspring.
Researchers at Cornell University hope to tackle a small pest and a big problem that has plagued agriculture since the 1800s: controlling the destructive diamondback moth through genetic engineering. The diamondback moth is a small creature, about the length of two grains of rice, but they are capable of inflicting billions of dollars of damage on cabbage and broccoli crops every year. In fact, the moth is Enemy No. 1 when it comes to the cabbage and broccoli family. Cornell University’s agriculture research division in Geneva, New York, is studying how to invade the invaders with genetically engineered male diamondback moths that mate with females, which then die before reaching adulthood. The federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said last week it is seeking public comment on Cornell’s plan to release sterile male diamondback moths from the United Kingdom on Cornell’s research grounds.
A Florida teacher stands to lose his job after school officials said he bullied and harassed Future Farmers of America students who are raising livestock to be sold for slaughter. Middle school teacher Thomas Roger Allison Jr., 53, has been placed on unpaid leave from Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks near Ocala for calling the students who are raising livestock “murderers,” according to a Marion County school district letter documenting the case. Allison is also accused of harassing the group’s teacher adviser and encouraging his honors science students to harass FAA members. A district investigation revealed that teacher is on a quest to end the animal agriculture program because of his animal rights beliefs.
Antimicrobial resistance is a global issue affecting public, animal and plant health. Before the 1960s, antibiotics were expensive and were not widely used in livestock production, said Wondwossen Gebreyes, executive director of Global One Health Initiative at Ohio State University. However, there are economic benefits to using antibiotics in livestock production. A study from the University of Kentucky found the total benefit per pig was $3.98. “There is huge incentive to use antibiotics and when you withdraw them there are huge consequences,” he said.
Dr. Charles Hatcher, the Tennessee State Veterinarian, was at the center of the recent flurry of activity with avian influenza when the H7 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was discovered in a commercial facility in the state. “The state of Tennessee benefitted from the previous states going through the outbreak in 2015. The lessons learned there were critical for what we did,” Hatcher said at yesterday’s National Institute for Animal Agriculture meeting in Columbus. “We knew there was a possibility of this happening because the Mississippi Flyway and the Atlantic Coastal Flyway touch Tennessee. Since 2015 we have been planning. The bombshell hit us and once we determined it was HPAI, our pre-determined plans went into place. We had the incident command structure just like you would have going into war. It is like fighting a war because you have all of these battles.”
Here are the worst sites on the internet about agriculture in no particular order:
Environmental Working Group
Pesticide Action Network
The Non-GMO Project
GMO Free USA
David “Avocado” Wolfe
Green Med Info
Food Democracy Now
Kids Right to Know
Food & Water Watch
Just Label It
US Right to Know
Organic Consumers Association
Moms Across America
Erin @ Health Nut News
Mercy for Animals
Best Video You Will Ever See
Healthy Holistic Living
The Mind Unleashed
March Against Monsanto
When reading anything off of these sites, take the information presented with a grain of salt. Look at their background, funding, sensationalism and lies. Check out the authors and see if they’ve ever actually been to a real large scale farm!
The Agricultural and Food Law Consortium will host a webinar will provide an overview of legal issues surrounding genetically engineered and genetically modified products in aquaculture, as well as an overview of GMO regulatory issues, including labeling. The presentations will discuss the AquAdvantage salmon case study and recent legal developments.The webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 17, 12noon – 3pm (EST).
The leader of the Wisconsin Farmers Union is praising the Madison-based Family Dairies USA for being pro-active and working with farmers to limit the milk that comes in, rather than dumping it or selling it for below-market prices after the fact. WFU President Darin Von Ruden said he also commends the cooperative for asking all of their members to shoulder a little of the burden of managing over-supply.
"Wisconsin Farmers Union urges dairy cooperatives to implement internal oversupply management systems that apply proportionally to all members to harmonize their supply of milk with their processing capacity," Von Ruden said. "Oversupply management should not be achieved by summarily dropping existing members. WFU encourages farmers who are members of cooperatives to advocate within their co-ops for supply management, in order to avoid costly dumping of milk due to oversupply."
Earlier this month, Family Dairies sent a letter to its members enlisting their help in managing the current oversupply of milk in Wisconsin. The group asked its patrons to hold their current level of production and informed them that if total output increases more than one percent over the past three months' rolling average, that additional milk will be priced at a different spot market rate.Land O'Lakes was the first cooperative in recent history to implement a base program for conventional milk, according to Von Ruden. Organic Valley Coop and Westby Cooperative Creamery have also worked with farmers to balance output with market demand for organic dairy products.
About $1 million in invoices were paid to Des Moines and Washington, DC, law firms until March, and the supervisors claim not to know who gave them the money. That’s stunning. The Agribusiness Association of Iowa organized a fund that paid those bills, but it reportedly refuses to tell the counties who the donors were. The supervisors believe that they cannot look a gift horse in the mouth to see who planted the bit. We have just learned that the supervisors, not AAI, severed their relationship in April because we wanted to know who those donors were. Monsanto and Koch Fertilizer executives met with AAI when the fund was formed. Who else chipped in? AAI won’t say. Des Moines lawyer Doug Gross, who designed the secret fund, won’t respond to our questions. The supervisors are too timid to ask in an effective way. They appear to believe that this is a moot point since the relationship was severed over transparency issues. We believe it is a continuing offense against the Iowa Public Records Law and precedent set by the Iowa Supreme Court. The supervisors are fully aware of our opinion — they paid lawyers hundreds of dollars an hour to read our editorials on the matter as if they were court briefs, using funds raised from secret donors. We recently asked how much the Belin Law Firm has billed since the relationship was severed with AAI and Doug Gross. Supervisors told us they didn’t know. We asked who is paying the bills. Supervisors said they didn’t know. This is the company line. Eventually, BV County Drainage Attorney Gary Armstrong informed us that Belin has piled up about $300,000 in legal fees since March that remain unpaid until funds appear. This is at least a $100,000 liability to Buena Vista County, as it presumably will share that tab with Calhoun and Sac counties — but we actually do not know, so secret the public officials are.