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Agriculture News

33% of Farmers Flying Drones This Year

Farm Journal | Posted on April 19, 2017

Drones have been hot talk in agriculture for the past several seasons. But how popular are they, really? According to a recent Farm Journal Media Pulse poll that surveyed more than a thousand farmers and ranchers, use of this technology has definitely gained a firm foothold in the industry. The Pulse poll simply asked, “Will you use a drone(s) on your operation this year?” Of the nearly 1,100 respondents, a third answered positively, with 21% saying they will operate the drones themselves, and another 12% opting for a retailer or other third-party entity to fly the drones.Another 31% say they will keep an open mind about using drones on their operation in 2018, but weren’t ready to pull the trigger this year. The final 37% say they aren’t interested in using this technology.

Ten Years of Potential Losses for 6 Row Crops? – Commentary

Ag Fax | Posted on April 19, 2017

Over the last 3 weeks we looked at the USDA Agricultural Projections to 2026 for corn, soybeans, and wheat. We used those projections to calculate the profit/loss per acre for the average US farmer for each of the 3 crops for the 10-year period from 2017 to 2026. For corn, the loss per acre for the 10-year period was $867 per planted acre. The cumulative loss for soybeans over the same period would be $314 per acre while for wheat the loss would be $980

Genetically engineered citrus virus could be answer for fighting HLB

Capital Press | Posted on April 19, 2017

A Florida firm’s plans to advance field trials of a genetically engineered virus that could make trees resistant to huanglongbing brings promise of relief from a disease that has devastated the citrus industry. But both the firm — the Clewiston, Fla.-based Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery — and a California citrus growers’ group caution that the process is still early.Southern Gardens is seeking permits from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for the environmental release of a modified version of the Citrus tristeza virus (CTV), which was developed by University of Florida researchers.The virus, which has already undergone limited testing in Florida, has been genetically engineered to use defensin proteins from spinach to manage huanglongbing, according to the Federal Register. Also known as citrus greening disease, huanglongbing can be carried by the Asian citrus psyllid and eventually kills the tree.“We’re in the concept phase of our research,” said Tim Eyrich, Southern Gardens’ vice president of research and commercialization. “We need to expand acres to be able to look at our technology across more geography.”APHIS is taking comments through May 10 as it prepares an environmental impact statement on Southern Gardens’ request to be able to commercialize the modified virus, which would be applied to citrus trees by grafting and wouldn’t involve genetically engineering the trees themselves, according to APHIS officials.

H7N9 influenza mutating quickly

Smart Brief | Posted on April 19, 2017

China reported 96 human infections and 47 deaths linked to H7N9 avian influenza last month, and scientists at Hong Kong University say the virus readily mutates and has rapidly developed into a form that kills chickens quickly, posing a threat to the poultry industry. "I think this virus poses the greatest threat to humanity than any other in the past 100 years," said Guan Yi, one of the world's leading virologists.

Public thinks Des Moines Water Works was right to sue counties

The Storm Lake Times | Posted on April 19, 2017

The public would appear to have made up its mind about the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties over nitrate pollution of the Raccoon River. The Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll reported Sunday that 60% of those surveyed believe the water works was right to sue drainage districts in the three counties for discharging polluted water into the river. Urban residents, small towners and even rural dwellers all show majority support for the water works position. This after a barrage of advertising in the Des Moines TV market sponsored by Farm Bureau, and a host of radio ads aiming to fire up rural residents against encroaching government. Anyone can see how filthy Storm Lake is, how the Des Moines River near Humboldt is a mud flow, how shallow lakes in Northwest Iowa have eroded into duck marshes. Anyone with eyes and a nose knows in his gut that Iowa has the dirtiest surface water in America. It is choking the waterworks and the Gulf of Mexico. It is causing oxygen deprivation in Northwest Iowa glacial lakes. It has caused us to spend millions upon millions trying to clean up Storm Lake, the victim of more than a century of explosive soil erosion. Everyone knows it’s not the city sewer plant causing the problem. And most of us recognize that this is not just nature at work busily releasing nitrates into the water. Ninety-two percent of surface water pollution comes from row crop production — an incontroverted fact from the court case. What’s more, the public probably suspects that it should not cost billions of dollars to fix the problem. It doesn’t. The solution demands that we quit farming into the ditch and over the fenceline. If we left 10% of Iowa’s marginal land fallow the nitrate problem would disappear. Iowa State University research proves it.

As hog feedlots grow, neighbors ask: What about our rights?

Minneapolis Star Tribune | Posted on April 17, 2017

A bitter three-year legal battle between a Todd County hog farm and neighbors forced out of their homes by foul smells has become a flash point in the larger fight over Minnesota’s expanding pork business and the power of rural residents to protect their tranquil way of life. The struggle has spilled over into the state Legislature, where pork producers are trying to limit so-called nuisance suits brought by feedlot neighbors.Together they illustrate how dramatically rural life in Minnesota has changed as farms grow bigger and more mechanized. Opponents to the proposed law point out that such lawsuits are exceedingly rare in Minnesota — there have been only a handful in the past 15 years — and say banning them would deprive rural residents of one of their last remaining protections against large livestock operations. Moreover, they say, it’s an attack on a centuries-old property right that protects citizens’ ability to use and enjoy their homes, one that could quickly extend to conflicts beyond feedlots.   Leaders in the Minnesota pork industry say it’s not the neighbors they fear as much as the attorney who represents them: Charlie Speer, a Missouri-based lawyer, who has built a career on winning tens of millions of dollars for clients in similar lawsuits across the country. And by his side is an attorney for the Humane Society of the United States, which has been involved in similar lawsuits across the country.In short, said FitzSimmons, the future of Minnesota’s hog industry could hinge on the Gourley brothers’ case. “That’s what’s changed — the players,” he said. “This is an attack on animal agriculture. You can’t stand down.”

Change to Idaho’s field burning program heads to EPA for approval

Capital Press | Posted on April 17, 2017

A proposed change to Idaho’s field burning program has been approved by state regulators and lawmakers and will now go to the Environmental Protection Agency for a final OK.  The change, which is meant to avoid a major reduction in allowable burn days for farmers, is opposed by some environmental and public health groups but supported by farm organizations.Farmers testified in favor of a bill that makes the amendment during Idaho’s recent legislative session and lawmakers supported it by a combined vote of 91-12.Sen. Mark Harris, a Republican rancher from Soda Springs, said he didn’t believe opponents’ claims that the change would endanger public health. He said it would actually increase the number of allowable burn days, which would spread field burning over a longer period and thus help protect public health.“I think it will be beneficial to everybody who burns crop residue across the state,” Harris said. “It gives growers more days to burn their crop residue and it gives (the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality) more days to manage their program.”Idaho farmers burn about 40,000 to 50,000 acres a year.DEQ can approve a burn request only if ozone and small particulate matter (PM 2.5) levels aren’t expected to exceed 75 percent of the national standard for those air pollutants.But the federal standard for ozone was tightened in October 2015, which will reduce the number of allowable burn days in Idaho by 33-50 percent, according to DEQ estimates.To avoid that, DEQ has proposed loosening Idaho’s ozone threshold to 90 percent of the federal standard. Environmental and public health advocate groups wanted to tighten the state’s PM 2.5 threshold to offset the loosening of the ozone standard.

Bird flu redirects trade flow of U.S. chicken, eggs, grains

Reuters | Posted on April 14, 2017

Global outbreaks of bird flu in poultry have altered the flow of U.S. chicken meat, eggs and grain around the world, adding to challenges faced by domestic exporters and giving a leg up to Brazil, which has so far escaped the disease. Different strains of avian flu have been detected across Asia, Europe, Africa and in the United States in recent months, leading to the culling of millions of birds and a flurry of import restrictions on eggs and chicken meat.U.S. grain traders such as Bunge Ltd and Cargill Inc have lost business because poultry deaths have reduced feed demand. Some domestic poultry producers, though, have managed to boost sales by taking advantage of trading bans that hurt rivals.Sanderson Farms Inc, the third-largest U.S. poultry producer, said it sold more chicken to Iraq when Baghdad backed away from Europe's poultry due to bird flu

Convoys and social media come to rescue after wildfires

Daily Yonder | Posted on April 13, 2017

Add instant communications to generosity and hard work, and what do you get? America's farmers and ranchers respond to the wildfire devastation in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. While the national media response was quiet, local press and farmers' social media took the story and ran. Simultaneously, farmers in other parts of the country started organizing relief efforts. With little national notice, farmers around the country have been sending thousands of truckloads of hay and supplies to burned-out ranchers. Social media has been the key to this volunteer effort of relief. Reports of the wildfires flew through Facebook pages, shared nationally among those in more rural and farm-oriented communities. Through friends of friends of friends, informal information networks spread some of grief at the loss of young ranchers who died trying to save their livestock. Social media also raised the visibility of local press that turned out to cover the fires’ impact in their communities and states.

Appeals court blocks Wisconsin mega-farm

Wisconsin Rapids Tribune | Posted on April 13, 2017

An appeals court has blocked key parts of a proposed large-scale dairy farm that has been the subject of controversy for years in central Wisconsin. The owners of the proposed farm, known as Golden Sands, do not have the right to use more than 6,000 acres of land for agriculture and manure spreading, according to the Wisconsin District IV Court of Appeals in a ruling issued Thursday morning.The ruling overturns an earlier ruling in Wood County Circuit Court that stated the Wysocki Family of Companies' application for dairy buildings on 100 acres of Saratoga land allowed it to use additional land associated with the proposed dairy for agricultural purposes.The appellate judges who issued the ruling found that Golden Sands "fails to support" its claim to have a right to use the land as planned.Under the new ruling, the company will have the right to proceed with construction on 10 buildings for the cows, feed and other dairy operations, said Paul Kent, town of Saratoga attorney. . The court decision blocks Wysocki from planting crops or spreading manure on the land. The potential impact on water from manure spreading from approximately 4,000 cows and watering more than 6,000 acres of crops is the town's primary concern.