The “they” are six researchers at The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, based at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. The “it” is another attempt to alarm citizens with false and misleading information in an attempt to block another new chicken farm in Maryland. The “it” is contained in a letter to one Jennifer Feindt, a Farm Loan Specialist with the USDA Farm Service Agency. But this time around they really have “egg” all over their collective faces. You see, the proposed farm will be a dairy farm converted to a chicken farm to raise broilers for Perdue Farms. Most of the misleading misinformation in the letter is about the issue of antibiotic resistance and how modern farming practices are endangering health and causing expensive hospitalizations. They must not know that Perdue Farms has pledged to have over 95 percent of their chickens raised without antibiotics. OOPS! They must not know that this proposed chicken farm will be all organic, no antibiotics and no chemicals. Double OOPS!! They trot out the old 80 percent number of antibiotics sold are for use in animals, but worse yet they state that “A growing body of evidence provides support that pathogens can be found in and around broiler operations.” I do not know what the growing body of evidence is, as anyone with any kind of a health background and most others know there are pathogens everywhere such as the Staph aureus living on your skin and in your nasal cavity; some of it is even MRSA.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on July 11 signed a proclamation declaring Aug. 7-13, 2016, as "National Farmers Market Week."
Most of the debate about GMOs has focused on transgenic crops in which a gene from one species is inserted into the DNA of another species. With herbicide-tolerant crops, a gene from a plant that is resistant to the desired herbicide is inserted into the genome of a crop like corn or cotton that normally is killed when sprayed with the given herbicide. Similarly, scientists have inserted a gene that induces the production of the toxin produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into a corn plant. The corn plant then produces the toxin and kills European corn borer caterpillars, reducing the need for spraying the plant with an insecticide that would be used to kill the caterpillars, saving the farmer a field pass and the cost of the insecticide. In recent years, as scientists have increased their knowledge of the function of various genes in a given species, they have developed the technology (CRISPR) needed to edit a gene to express a desired trait. In this case a “foreign” gene is not inserted into the organism’s genome, rather the organism’s own genome is slightly modified. At present transgenic organisms are subject to government regulation while gene-editing using CRISPR technologies is not, because the organism does not contain any “foreign” DNA. For a more thorough summary of the technologies and their risks, readers can download “Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects” by the National Academies Press (http://tinyurl.com/j5kvhg7). In the current debate, some have argued that these technologies are little different from conventional breeding which uses a less precise means of selecting for preferred genetic traits in all domesticated crops.
The decline in prices for food and feed crops, livestock and fish products in 2015 signals that “an era of high prices is quite likely over for all sub-sectors,” economists at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) say. Developed jointly with analysts at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, the Paris-based OECD projected in its Agricultural Outlook 2016-2025 that most agricultural prices would hold steady over the next decade as productivity continued to increase in most parts of the world.
The demands of agriculture and the price tag for new technology have some developers questioning if there is a looming bubble in the ag tech industry. Aaron Magenheim, CEO of AgTech Insight of Salinas, California says there is a disconnect between developers and farmers. Magenheim says their clients in the Midwest, far removed from Silicon Valley, need to be involved in the creation process so developers can better understand what real, on the ground needs of farmers are.
PETA members dress as nuns at RNC and propose a sin tax on meat. “At the convention, campaigners from PETA donned nun’s attire and stilts. Armed with placards emblazoned with polemical slogans like ‘Meat is a Bad Habit. Tax It!’ and ‘Slap a Sin Tax on Meat!’ the nuns quickly drew attention to themselves. PETA attacks New Mexico FFA members. The campaign casts a shadow on Future Farmers of America, the popular agriculture club for high school students. Written by a former FFA member, the post calls the organization hypocritical for encouraging students to raise and slaughter animals for food, while encouraging good character and leadership. At the end of the article, PETA encourages kids in FFA that agree with it to quit the club and become vegan.”
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found a yield boost in corn and soybeans following cover crops. Multi-year data from the survey shows the yield boost increases as cover crops are planted year after year, a revelation that points to an appealing long-term benefit of the conservation practice. The survey offers data unavailable elsewhere, providing a vital glimpse into farmers’ use of and perceptions about cover crops. Acreage planted to cover crops continued its steady rise among survey participants, reaching an average of 298 acres per farm in 2015 and projected to grow to a mean of 339 acres in 2016. Those figures are more than double the acreage survey participants said they planted in 2011.
Farmers in North America are turning back to a neglected crop, sowing fields with the largest rye crop in years as consumers satisfy a growing thirst for whiskey. Rye, planted in autumn and harvested in mid-summer, fell in popularity during the past decade as other crops produced bigger profits. However, with whiskey demand high and new varieties of rye on the market, farmers have regained interest.
Dairy farmers and environmentalists criticized new manure-control rules the state Department of Ecology plans to finalize early next year, accusing state regulators of being too meddlesome or too lax. At the first of two public hearings on the proposal, farmers said dairies already are heavily regulated and that Ecology’s new layer of mandates would be unnecessary, expensive and even dispiriting. Ecology estimates that complying with the permit will cost a dairy between $11,000 and $25,000 over five years. To ease the financial hardship on the industry, the agency plans to exempt from the rules about 100 dairies that have fewer than 200 mature cows. Ecology’s special assistant on water policy Kelly Susewind said the department may consider redrawing the line and exempting more dairies.
urnt River School’s invitation to Portland students paid off, and the rural Eastern Oregon school will host up to eight urban kids when classes begin next fall, and eight more in the spring. “It’s happening,” Superintendent Lorrie Andrews said. The district is arranging places for the students to stay while in school. The school, which had a total of 34 students in 2015-16, offers the Burnt River Integrated Agriculture/Science Research Ranch program, or BRIARR, a dip into the ag and natural resource issues common to the area. The K-12 public charter school is in Unity, Ore., about 50 miles east of John Day. Students will learn about animal production science, sustainable rangeland science and forest restoration studies, and do water quality monitoring with the Powder Basin Watershed Council.