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Agriculture News

Cash Rents Still Went Up in 13 States This Year

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on November 2, 2016

Rents did drop between six and seven percent in some states, but in others the rates were five percent higher. Thirteen states saw higher cash rates this year, including Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, South Carolina and Mississippi.

Hakim’s Effort to Skewer Biotech Crops in Sunday's NY Times

OFW Law | Posted on November 2, 2016

Danny Hakim’s attempt to skewer biotech crops in his recent article on the front page Sunday’s New York Times (Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops) is skewed from beginning to end.  His insight – what he says the debate has missed – is that genetic modification has not accelerated increases in crop yields.  Well – duh! – they weren’t meant to.  The two major modifications in widespread use today are resistance to certain types of pests and tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate.  These biotech traits were designed to be advantageous to farmers by decreasing their input costs through reduced use of insecticides, and reduced necessity for weed control.  So citing yield data is simply disingenuous. It’s kind of like accusing the body shop that just fixed your dented car door of not making your engine run better.Indeed, he goes on to say the promise of genetic modification was that herbicide-tolerant and pest-resistant crops “…would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides.” Hmm…this might actually be true, although these modifications would not be expected to directly impact the rate of increase in crop yields. "Instead of higher yields, herbicide-tolerant GM crops have contributed to reductions in herbicide costs, labor time, machinery time, and fuel use. Thus, herbicide-tolerant crops have also helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production.”

The Humane Society's Descent Into Abolitionist Veganism

Weekly Standard | Posted on November 2, 2016

The Humane Society of the United States raises gobs of money (annual budgets over $100 million) by portraying itself as an animal rescue and care organization—check out its tear jerk ads—when that is just a tiny part of its work. In truth, HSUS has become a radical organization with an agenda focused on opposing traditional agriculture and banning meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and other animal products. Its leadership is a rogue's gallery of extremists with histories of making outlandish statements, such as eating meat is "murder" and farming is a Holocaust. HSUS sought to moderate its image by establishing state agriculture councils that ostensibly support farmers and ranchers who give "proper care to their animals." HSUS says it helps "connect these farms to the market." But according to ag council members, HSUS did nothing to help them.  HSUS's most prominent ag council member was, until recently, Kevin Fulton, who runs an organic grazing operation in Nebraska. Fulton is truly committed to the humane treatment of farm animals, which is what attracted him to HSUS. At first, Fulton says, HSUS embraced him and the other ag council farmers. He had a "seat at the table" and used it to influence policy. He spoke freely at HSUS events and brought balance to organization.

Farmers leave HSUS ag councils, say they were 'window dressing'

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on November 2, 2016

When the Humane Society of the United States announced in May it was forming a National Agriculture Advisory Council, after having formed 11 at the state level, the Animal Agriculture Alliance sounded a warning: beware.  “While today HSUS may be acting like the ally of the producers on this council, the tides will no doubt turn as the organization moves on to target other production methods — a lesson some brands have learned in trying to appease it,” warned Animal Agriculture Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith

AVMA has variety of resources for food animal production

AVMA | Posted on November 1, 2016

Access to a variety of resources that can help you make a positive difference in the lives of animals that are used for food and fiber.

For animal ag, cheap grain is good, but might not be enough

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on November 1, 2016

The monthly average price of corn received by U.S. producers has been less than $4 per bushel for 27 consecutive months and prices below $4 are expected to persist well into 2017, writes University of Illinois professor emeritus Darrel Good. Expected larger South American corn supplies on the world market next year would contribute to keeping U.S. corn prices down. Brazil production is expected to rebound from last year’s drought and Argentina is expected to expand corn area due to reduced export taxes. Meanwhile, U.S. farmers are just finishing harvesting a large corn crop. This is a bit of good news for livestock producers and vertically integrated processors, particularly since the prices they are receiving for the livestock they sell and the meat they produce have also declined.  

Activist tricks may be the scariest thing this Halloween

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on November 1, 2016

After 30 years of monitoring the strategies and tactics of animal rights activist organizations, it takes quite a bit to surprise us here at the Alliance. One activist group managed to do just that a few weeks ago when they stooped to a new low to promote their goal of animal liberation – or “trying to destroy animal agriculture,” as its founder stated at the 2016 Animal Rights National Conference.  Direct Action Everywhere is a relatively new and small activist organization that has attempted to make its presence known by staging protests and “disruptions” of public events ranging from the opening ceremony of the Pennsylvania Farm Show to major league baseball games. The goal is always the same – generating attention and media coverage for animal liberation – or, this organization’s belief that all animals should be treated as humans. These actions have failed to create any real traction, so DAE has taken a page out of other activist organizations’ books in an attempt to drive more traffic to the “Donate” button on its website: producing undercover videos. The practice of getting activists hired on farms to capture footage that will be used to malign animal agriculture is dishonest enough. DAE has taken it a step further and made “stealth visits” to farms and entered barns (usually at night, and without permission, of course). The group’s founder, Wayne Hsiung, stated in a media interview that they felt had the right to enter the property because they suspected animal cruelty.

Scientist pleads guilty in rice seed theft case

Capital Press | Posted on November 1, 2016

A 61-year-old scientist has pleaded guilty to a federal charge nearly three years after he was accused of stealing proprietary seeds developed in the U.S. and giving them to a delegation visiting from China.  Wengui Yan, of Stuttgart, Ark., pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., to one count of making false statements to the FBI, the Justice Department said in a release.  Yan was a geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Dale Bumpers National Research Center in Stuttgart, when he was originally charged in December 2013. He and another scientist, Weiqiang Zhang, were charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets and theft of trade secrets. Zhang is a U.S. permanent resident and Yan a naturalized U.S. citizen.  Zhang, 50, an agricultural seed breeder at Ventria Bioscience’s facility in Junction City, is awaiting a trial.

Research: Viral pathogens can move from country to country through feed

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on November 1, 2016

Foreign animal diseases can enter the United States via feed imports from high-risk countries, according to new research from the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC).  Until recently, the industry wasn’t sure whether pathogens moved through feed imports from high-risk regions, largely because little research had been conducted.  But the research, conducted by Scott Dee at the Pipestone Applied Research, Pipestone Veterinary Services, South Dakota State University (SDSU) and Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) confirms suspicions.  “Via simulation, we’ve shown for the first time that viral pathogens can move from country to country through feed imports from countries of high risk to countries without the disease,” Dee said in a news release.

Decision on Dow-DuPont merger won't come until 2017

Detroit Free Press | Posted on November 1, 2016

Midland-based Dow Chemical confirmed that it does not expect a regulatory decision on its proposed merger with its chief rival until early next year. Dow, one of Michigan's largest publicly traded companies, confirmed the expected delay amid third-quarter earnings that had beaten Wall Street expectations. Company officials once hoped the European Commission would  weigh in on the merger by December. But the timing for the decision has been pushed back until February.