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Agriculture News

Vandals set hundreds of cows loose at Maine dairy farm and 1 dies

Central Maine | Posted on December 8, 2016

A cow broke its neck and died last week after vandals let it and hundreds of other cows out of their pens at the Misty Meadow Farm and also vandalized the Wright Place Farm. Sometime between 2 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., about 500 milking cows were released from their pens. Roy said those cows were discovered by the next shift of workers arriving at the farm. All told there are 1,500 cows on the farm, Roy said. One of the cows that was released fell into a drainage hole and broke its neck. Workers at the farm also discovered that stainless steel cooling tanks for milk and cream had been turned off.  It was also discovered that two headlights from a farm truck in the garage had been stolen, as had some meat from a freezer in the garage. A pellet or BB gun was also stolen, which probably was used to shoot out a window from a nearby tractor.

Crspr gene editing yields tomatoes that flower and ripen weeks earlier

EurekAlert | Posted on December 7, 2016

Using a simple and powerful genetic method to tweak genes native to two popular varieties of tomato plants, a team at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has devised a rapid method to make them flower and produce ripe fruit more than 2 weeks faster than commercial breeders are currently able to do. This means more plantings per growing season and thus higher yield. In this case, it also means that the plant can be grown in latitudes more northerly than currently possible - an important attribute as the earth's climate warms.

Monsanto Says Next Breakthrough for Farmers Is a Friendly Fungus

Bloomberg | Posted on December 7, 2016

 Monsanto is introducing a new feature for its geneticall modified corn seeds that it says will not only boost yileds but cut down on fertilizer use and carbon dioxide emissions.  They have developed a coating for seeds made from a friendly fungus that helps corn plants in their earliest growth stages.  Corn crops treated with the new Monsanto-Novozymes microbial -- officially known as Acceleron B-300 SAT -- had better yields than those without the treatment, the companies said in a statement Monday. The product stays on seeds longer and is compatible with other chemical treatments, unlike previous versions. It could be applied to more than 90 million acres (36 million hectares) by 2025.

Hog Prices Join Corn and Wheat at Ten-Year Lows

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on December 7, 2016

It is interesting to be an observer of agricultural price movements. However, for many producers of agricultural commodities, prices are a key driver of their financial wellbeing. Wide ranging price movements over time can vastly alter their financial conditions. It is clear that the financial impacts of price movements affect many agricultural input businesses as well. What can happen to prices of agricultural commodities in a decade, and why look at the last decade? It is because it was 10 years ago in the fall of 2006 that agricultural commodity prices began to head upward in what can be described as a boom/moderation price cycle. Nearby futures prices are used to compare prices over time. Measured this way, prices for wheat, corn and lean hogs in the fall of this year fell to 10-year lows, dating back to 2006 or earlier. Unfortunately, costs of production are not at 10-year lows and this means narrow margins or losses are likely for many producing these commodities.Focusing on lean hog futures prices, the low this fall was on the October 2016 contract at $40.70. The previous time lean hog futures had been this low was in October of 2002. This means lean hog futures in the fall of 2016 were the lowest lead contract price in 14 years. Lean hog futures have recovered somewhat since October, with the lead contract currently trading around $50, a level that is at the lower end of the ten-year range.Cash prices also reflect these multi-year lows. Live prices of hogs for 51 percent to 52 percent carcasses are expected to average about $36.25 in the final quarter of this year. This will be the lowest fourth quarter price since 2002, the lowest cash prices in 14 years, the same as lean hog futures. The current quarter is shaping up to have the worst losses since the first quarter of 2008 when cash corn prices moved above $4 per bushel after many years around $2.

Rabobank: Avian influenza poses threat to global poultry trade

Meat + Poultry | Posted on December 7, 2016

In its latest poultry industry report, the Rabobank International Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory’s Q4 Poultry Quarterly report signalled challenges to an otherwise positive global poultry outlook in the year, due to global reports of avian influenza (AI) outbreaks reminiscent of  similar incidents in 2015. Trade of meat and breeding stock are at risk during a period when tailwinds for poultry were resulting in  positive momentum at a time when seasonal vulnerability for AI outbreaks are more likely given the onset of the winter season.                

Anthrax found on Indiana cattle farm

Indy Star | Posted on December 7, 2016

The Indiana Board of Animal Health has issued an advisory after one bull on a southern Indiana beef cattle farm was infected with anthrax. A veterinarian collected tissue samples for laboratory testing after the animal died unexpectedly. Only a single, mixed-breed bull died; other animals in the herd have not shown signs of infection, Fox59 reported.The infected animal was incinerated on-site, and the farm was placed under a 30-day quarantine and observation order by the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH)

Farm Incubator Program in the Upper Peninsula

Michigan State University Extension | Posted on December 7, 2016

The Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) is home to an exciting program designed for those interested in starting a small farm business. The North Farm, located on the state’s oldest operating research station, was reopened in 2014 as an education and research facility focused on northern climate organic vegetable and fruit production. The flagship program for this facility is the Apprentice Farmer Program (AFP), which serves as a business incubator for farming entrepreneurs. The residential Apprentice Farmer Program is designed to serve as a launching point for individuals interested in starting their own farm business. The program provides access to resources valuable to beginning farmers, including land, equipment, infrastructure, and technical assistance. Farmers work to establish their farm in a low-risk environment, focusing on fine-tuning production strategies and marketing channels instead of concentrating on more traditional concerns such as land and equipment acquisition. Fruit and vegetable producers have access to up to one acre for up to five years, as well as access to a large collection of tools and equipment to manage production on their plots. The farm also provides greenhouse and field tunnel production space, packing shed facilities, cold storage for produce, water access, and a talented staff dedicated to helping participants succeed. Livestock producers are encouraged to keep an eye out for important information regarding new developments in the program designed to accommodate livestock operations. Affordable housing is available to program participants who opt to live on-farm.

N.H. Dairy Farmers Task Force Moooves Forward on Plans to Offer Drought Relief

New Hampshire Public Radio | Posted on December 7, 2016

Hampshire’s struggling dairy farmers may soon get some help from a relief program in the works at the Statehouse.  Backed by the majority leaders in both the New Hampshire House and Senate, the Joint Dairy Farmers Task Force moved Monday to aid farmers affected by this year’s drought.The program is aimed at dairy farmers who have suffered financial losses from “unreasonably low” milk prices, and meager feed crops.Nineteen of New Hampshire’s 120 dairy farms stopped producing milk this year.This isn’t the first time the state has helped out the dairy industry. In 2007, when milk prices were similarly bad, the state provided emergency assistance. Rep. Tara Sad stressed the importance of doing something about the “dairy issue.”

Michigan DOA awarding grants to projects targeted for rural areas | Posted on December 7, 2016

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is aiming to improve the infrastructure and boost industry in some of the state’s more isolated communities.  The DOA is offering grants for projects that would promote sustainability and expand industries that use a lot of land, such as farming, mining, oil production, tourism, and rural industry projects.  The department has $1.5 million available, and projects will be awarded portions of that through a competitive process, where the applicants will have to explain how their proposal will improve rural areas.

Scientists identify pandemic threat viruses

BBC | Posted on December 7, 2016

The scientists found 37 different viruses they believe have the potential to spread across the globe. All of them have shown the ability to spread between people, but have not so far caused a major epidemic. The Mers coronavirus, relatives of the Ebola virus, and several mosquito-borne viruses are singled out by the study. Researchers said these viruses had all caused disease outbreaks in the past and were the cause of "greatest concern". The method the team used to identify the most dangerous viruses has already predicted the threat of both the Ebola and Zika viruses before they emerged to cause major epidemics.