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Agriculture News

PETA chicken memorial idea trivializes human fatalities

Watt Ag Net | Posted on August 24, 2016

PETA wants to erect a stone to memorialize chickens that were lost in a highway crash.   To me, the thought of putting up a roadside stone monument to memorialize chickens is more than absurd. It’s downright insensitive and offensive, and I would hope that most people who have lost someone they cared about in an automobile accident agree.


European Grapevine Moth Eradicated From California

Growing Produce | Posted on August 24, 2016

Agricultural officials from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and USDA, in cooperation with county agricultural commissioners, have declared the European grapevine moth (EGVM) eradicated from California and have lifted quarantine restrictions. EGVM was first detected in Napa County in 2009 with subsequent detections and quarantines in the counties of Fresno, Mendocino, Merced, Nevada, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Joaquin, Solano, and Sonoma in 2010, 2011, and 2012. No EGVM have been detected in California since June 25, 2014. “It is no easy feat to eradicate an invasive species, especially one like the European grapevine moth when it gains a foothold in a place as hospitable as California’s prime winegrape growing region,” said Karen Ross, CDFA Secretary.


Sizing up livestock farming’s carbon footprint

Food and Agriculture Organization | Posted on August 24, 2016

A new and interactive tool released by FAO allows farmers, policy makers and scientists to calculate meat, milk and eggs production as well as greenhouse-gas emissions from livestock to make the sector more productive and more climate-friendly.  GLEAM-I the Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Modelinteractive, provides answers to a wide range of questions. For example, as a small livestock keeper or a pastoralist, how can you get your animals to produce more milk, meat or eggs? If you're a policy maker, what practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock should you support? It includes variables such as countries and regions, the number and types of livestock - dairy or meat sheep, backyard or industrial pigs, grazing or mixed systems - feed materials, manure management as well as the specific conditions under which the animals are kept.


Test your animal welfare assessment skills withAVMA quiz

AVMA | Posted on August 24, 2016

Ensuring animal welfare is a human responsibility that includes consideration for all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling and, when necessary, humane euthanasia. Seems straightforward, right? In reality, animal welfare assessment may be much more complex and challenging to assess; real-life situations may present advantages in one area and disadvantages in another, and an assessment often depends on weighing which elements of welfare are most important to the animals. Even well-respected animal welfare experts may disagree. Take the quiz, which is based on a llama welfare assessment scenario from the 2015 intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging Assessment contest, to get a sense of the contest scenarios and assess your own animal-welfare assessment skills.


The next animal rights target

Brownfield | Posted on August 23, 2016

If our new friends in the eat-no-meat movement are to be believed, then which on-farm practice is the next target?  While I have no inside track on the strategies of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and its cohorts, I’m guessing the next target will be the broiler industry specifically and poultry production of all varieties broadly, if only because we raise and kill more than 9 billion birds a year for food. The list of shortcomings in the chicken industry as catalogued by HSUS and others is long.  It starts with ending genetic selection for growth, replacing birds which reach slaughter weight in five to six weeks with varieties which hit that mark at something closer to the 16 weeks it took a broiler to reach market weight in 1920. Once the genetics of the bird are reversed, stocking densities in the “warehouse-like sheds” in which they’re housed must be addressed, as in fewer birds in bigger houses, preferably with outside access.  This would also to a large extent solve the air quality issues animal rightists contend affect every bird barn in the country.  Then artificial “24-hour” lighting must be done away with in favor of lighting that does not wreak havoc on the bird’s natural circadian rhythms or artificially stimulate its appetite.


Genetically modified soil bacteria work as electrical wires

Science Daily | Posted on August 23, 2016

Scientists have genetically modified a common soil bacteria to create electrical wires that not only conduct electricity, but are thousands of times thinner than a human hair.


Pennsylvania calls on conservation districts to help with inspections

Farm and Dairy | Posted on August 23, 2016

As Pennsylvania continues its push to reduce the loading of farm nutrients into the Chesapeake Bay, the state is now calling on the 41 county conservation districts in the bay watershed to conduct on-farm inspections. It’s a decision that was announced in May, as part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s “Bay Reboot” strategy, that would shift conservation district staff from conducting 100 educational farm visits, to conducting 50 farm inspections a year. The goal is to inspect 10 percent of the state’s farms each year — eventually inspecting all the farms in the watershed.


Phosphorus levels trending lower in Ohio soils

Farm and Dairy | Posted on August 23, 2016

Agricultural soil phosphorus levels held steady or trended downward in at least 80 percent of Ohio counties from 1993 through 2015.  The findings, part of the college’s Field to Faucet initiative, represent good news for Ohioans concerned about protecting surface water quality while maintaining agricultural production, according to college researchers Elizabeth Dayton, Steve Culman and Anthony Fulford. “Soil phosphorus levels are strongly related to runoff water phosphorus levels. Less phosphorus in the soil should result in reduced phosphorus runoff risk,” Dayton said. “While there is still room for improvement where soil phosphorus levels are higher than crop needs, the fact that so many counties show soil phosphorus levels trending down indicates Ohio farmers are moving in the right direction.”


Dairy Farmers Seek U.S. Help to Cut Into Cheese Glut

Wall Street Journal | Posted on August 23, 2016

Dairy farmers drowning in cheap milk begged agricultural officials on Friday to buy up tens of thousands of tons of cheese to help bail them out. Jim Mulhern, chief executive of the National Milk Producers Federation, asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to buy $150 million worth of cheese to protect struggling dairy farmers and provide 90 million pounds of food to needy Americans. “Dairy producers here in the United States need assistance,” Mr. Mulhern wrote to Mr. Vilsack. A spokesman for the Agriculture Department said the regulatory body “shares the concerns for our nation’s dairy farmers, who like many in the farm community are facing tight margins,” and that it would review the letter.


A radical vision for saving the family farm

Philadelphia Enquirer | Posted on August 23, 2016

a former dairy farm that, as of this year, is fully leased to nine small farmers, represents a new vision for farmland conservation and sustainable agriculture - and, its operators hope, a model for connecting small farmers with land trusts, which control more than 600,000 acres in Pennsylvania. "Underlying this is the concept of reinventing the family farm for the 21st century," said Marilyn Anthony, Lundale's executive director. "On a family farm back in the day, there would be livestock, fruit, and vegetables: a full diet. Now, farms have gotten way bigger, and they specialize in one or two crops. What the USDA calls 'the farm in the middle' - it's not 25 acres, and it's not 1,000 acres - is the thing that's disappearing from American agriculture. We looked at this as a way to recreate the family farm, using multiple families."  This particular family farm belonged to Samuel and Eleanor Morris, who bought the land in 1946. Eleanor, who died in 2011, specified in her will that the land be farmed organically and biodynamically. Their children, nonfarmers, had to get creative.  "There weren't good options," said Eleanor Morris Illoway, president of Lundale's board. "Large farming conservancies didn't want to take it unless it had a large endowment. . . . And it was unlikely to be sold as a piece because the land is under [conservation] easement." Besides, in a region where plenty of farmland is devoted to commodity feed crops, Morris Illoway and her family wanted to do something radical: "Our goal was to have a place where actual food would be produced." They realized they could accomplish that by removing two major barriers for farmers: access to affordable land and affordable housing. Growers could sublet an acre or 100 acres, depending on their needs, and some could live in the four historic farmhouses on the property. And they'd create a community, supporting one another as they grew. The family created a nonprofit and hired landscape architect Simone Collins to divide the property into parcels suited to various crops. There are about 300 tillable acres, including large swaths now devoted to cattle grazing and crops such as spelt.


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