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Agriculture News

Pork piling up as export pace slowing: Rabobank

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on October 24, 2016

A glut of U.S. pork at a time when Chinese imports are slowing will pressure global pork prices in the months ahead, Rabobank said in its latest quarterly pork report.  “Prospects for 2017 are weak, with global trade expected to stabilize and all main producers in expansion mode, making supply discipline key to the outlook," Rabobank animal protein analyst Albert Vernooij said.

Mountaire Farms gets $2.3 million in tax incentives for N.C. plant project

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on October 24, 2016

A local tax incentive package totaling some $2.3 million over the next six years will help Mountaire Farms reopen and possibly expand a former Townsends chicken processing plant in Siler City, N.C. The Chatham County board of commissioners approved about $1.5 million in the form of a property tax refund, and the Siler City town council also approved a property tax incentive worth about $800,000.

WI:State may expand funding for dairy farm digesters

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Posted on October 24, 2016

The state's utility regulator is planning to spend more money on energy projects in rural Wisconsin, including a plan to help underwrite the use of systems that convert cattle manure into electricity.  The state Public Service Commission voted on Thursday to authorize at least $7.7 million in funding for rebates for solar, wind and geothermal projects around the state that would keep in place a rebate program for energy consumers. The program, Focus on Energy, provided $8.5 million in rebates over the past two years. The commission also decided to increase funding for systems known as manure digesters that convert animal waste to electricity. The digesters also serve a dual role of helping farms manage manure, which has become an increasingly controversial issue in Wisconsin as the size of dairy farms grows. The commission says it is considering spending $10 million to $20 million on manure digester technology and will lead efforts with other state agencies to encourage the use of the equipment.

USDA to invest in expanding wood energy markets | Posted on October 24, 2016

The USDA has announced it will invest up to $7 million in grants for projects designed to expand wood products and wood energy markets that support sustainable forest management, especially in areas with high wildfire risk. The grants will be made available in through the U.S. Forest Service’s Wood Innovations Program.  According to the request for proposals (RFP) published to the Wood Education and Resource Center website, proposals must be submitted by Jan. 23. Applicants are scheduled to be notified of the results in mid-April, with awards made in early July.  The RFP focuses on three main priorities. The first is to reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health on National Forest System and other forest lands. The second is to reduce the costs of forest management on all types of land, while the third is to promote the economic and environmental health of communities.

Is There a Place for GM in Aquaculture?

The Fish Site | Posted on October 24, 2016

With no problems with sea lice, no risk of escape, minimal to no use of antibiotics and the same great taste and nutritional profile as other farmed Atlantic salmon, is the AquAdvantage® Salmon the perfect salmon? The Fish Site Editor Lucy Towers talks to Dr Ron Stotish, CEO of AquaBounty Technologies about its sustainable production. In a world where demand for food is growing, the Genetically Modified (GM) AquAdvantage Salmon (AAS) could be a sustainable option for meeting future dietary needs. The fish starts its journey in land-based egg production facilities in Canada and is then, currently, transported to the hills of Panama where the eggs are hatched and the fish is farmed in a land-based flow through system. AAS takes just 16-20 months to grow to market size (4-5kgs) compared to the 30-36 months it takes conventional farmed Atlantic salmon. AAS is able to grow faster thanks to a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon, with the breakthrough innovation occurring when researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada inserted the growth hormone into fertilised Atlantic salmon eggs nearly 25 years ago. This growth hormone gene, which is coupled to a promoter sequence of DNA from ocean pout, enables AAS to produce its own growth hormone year-round instead of only in the spring and summer months.

In Boulder County, An Effort To Ban GMO Crops Moves Ahead

KUNC | Posted on October 24, 2016

Officials in Boulder County have released a plan to remove all genetically-modified crops from county-owned farmland within the next five years.  The county’s commissioners directed staffers to draft the plan following a series of heated public hearings in early 2016, where scientists argued farmers were being unfairly targeted and local activists said the crops in question threaten the county’s agricultural viability, and its reputation as an environmentally-conscious community.  The plan calls for farmers who lease county land for their operations to stop planting GMO corn within the next three years, and sugar beets within the next five years. Nine farmers currently grow the modified corn and sugar beets on the county land they lease. The plants are engineered to withstand applications of an herbicide, sold under the brand name RoundUp, that kills weeds. Since the 1970s, the county has been in the business of buying farmland, leasing the land back to farmers. As of early 2016, the county manages more than 100,000 acres of open space. Of that land, about 1 percent is planted with GMO corn and sugar beets every year.

Producers, vets prep for change to medication, paperwork

Iowa Farmer Today | Posted on October 24, 2016

Randy Hilleman says he first heard of the new veterinary feed directive (VFD) policy earlier this year.  “I happened to be in the vet clinic not long after, and I asked about it,” he says. “I talked to our vet and figured we needed to get set up.”  Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, producers will no longer be able to use medications without veterinarian approval. Medically important drugs such as tetracycline will no longer be used as a growth promotant, according to guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Livestock producers should be in contact with their veterinarians so they are ready for the changes ahead, says Tom Burkgren, a veterinarian and executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Hilleman says he and other producers will need to make changes to comply with the new directive, but for most, it should not be a major issue. The paperwork will likely be the biggest headache, Hilleman says. “If I treat a pig, I write it on the board and that stays with them until they’re gone, but now we’re going to need to put it on paper,” he says. “We’ll just need another notebook or two.”

International Poultry Council Commits to Coordinated Effort to Address Antibiotic Resistance in Animal Agriculture

National Chicken Council | Posted on October 24, 2016

The International Poultry Council (IPC) said the global poultry industry will work on a coordinated effort to address antibiotic resistance in animal agriculture and will work to release a comprehensive report in the next several months in the next several months.  This issue was part of the discussions among delegates from 20 countries at the IPC’s recent conference in Estoril, Portugal.  “The International Poultry Council shares the public’s concern about antibiotic resistance, which is an issue of global significance,” IPC President Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said in a news release. “IPC recognizes the need for collaborative efforts among governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and the poultry sector to minimize the development and transfer of antibiotic resistance,” Sumner said. Recent IPC action on antibiotic resistance has included last year’s issuance of a position statement on the responsible use of antibiotics in poultry production. Sumner said that the recent United Nations ministerial meeting on antimicrobial resistance has increased global visibility on the issue, particularly among international livestock organizations. The discussion in Portugal included member countries’ obligation to ensure that animals in their care are free from disease and as healthy as possible. Sumner said that the veterinary use of antibiotics and other interventions are effective and necessary tools to keep birds healthy. “It’s important that our industry maintain access to these forms of treatment, to ensure that they are used responsibly under veterinary supervision, and only when necessary,” he said. “Responsible use of antibiotics when treating not only poultry but all livestock is critical to minimize agriculture’s potential contribution to antibiotic resistance.”

Carbon farming: What is it, and how can it help the climate?

Yale | Posted on October 21, 2016

For produce farms, carbon farming generally means growing fruits, vegetables, and legumes with minimal disturbance to the soil. One important approach is no-till farming, which implicitly means less disturbance. As much as five times more carbon can stick around in the soil under no-till than with conventional tillage, according to Bernacchi’s study of corn and soybean fields in Illinois. His calculations suggest that if all farms in the U.S. stopped tilling, they’d cut national carbon emissions by 1-2 percent.  Carbon farming may be a buzzword, but the practices themselves are not new – they were simply left by the wayside during the rise of modern industrial farming in the latter part of the 20th century. Today, they’re being rediscovered by some for their climate-friendly ways, but for most, simply because they’re practical once they are up and running. “None of the core carbon-farming techniques we have were developed for sequestering carbon,” Toensmeier says. “They were developed because they’re good for the farm.”  Improving soil also boosts its water-holding capacity – which will become increasingly vital as drought and severe storms continue to increase. It can also potentially mean better yields.  Still, it’s risky for farmers to adopt techniques that may be new to them. For example, moving to no-till can be challenging for organic farmers who rely on tilling to kill weeds, and also for cover-crop operations that use tilling to work the plant residue back into the ground.

DOJ queries farmers on Deere-Precision Planting deal

DTN | Posted on October 21, 2016

It's not every day that the government comes a-callin', so when the Washington, D.C., phone number popped up on his cellphone on September 28, Illinois farmer Matt Foes couldn't resist answering.  He's glad he did -- the phone call was from the Department of Justice, and they wanted to know how John Deere's plans to purchase Monsanto's Precision Planting would affect Foes, who farms in Bureau County, Illinois.  The proposed acquisition has come under fire recently from the Department of Justice (DOJ), which filed a lawsuit in August to block it. The lawsuit argues that the purchase would allow Deere to hold a monopoly on high speed planting technology. John Deere's ExactEmerge technology accounts for 44% of this market, and Precision Planting's SpeedTube technology accounts for 42%, for a combined market share of 86%.