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Agriculture News

USDA Withdrawal of Certain Proposed Rules and Other Proposed Actions

USDA | Posted on January 8, 2018

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing that it has withdrawn certain advance notice of proposed rulemakings (ANPRM) and proposed rules that were either published in the Federal Register more than 4 years ago without subsequent action or determined to no longer be candidates for final action. USDA is taking this action to reduce its regulatory backlog and focus its resources on higher priority actions. The Department's actions are part of an overall regulatory reform strategy to reduce regulatory burden on the public and to ensure the Spring and Fall 2017 Unified Agendas of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions provided the public accurate information about rulemakings the Department intends to undertake.

Sniffing out weevils: How Chili the dog is saving greenhouse peppers

CBC Canada | Posted on January 8, 2018


Chili the Belgian shepherd is a dog whose nose could save millions of dollars, protect hundreds of jobs and potentially ensure the future of Canada's burgeoning greenhouse pepper industry. The industry, which is worth $275 million and is concentrated in Leamington, outside Windsor, Ont., was devastated last year by a tiny invasive pest called the pepper weevil.The weevils burrow into bell peppers on the vine to feed and lay eggs. The peppers eventually drop to the ground and die. For about three hours each day, Heide leads Chili through different sections of the sprawling NatureFresh complex. They first concentrate on the loading docks and massive distribution centre where weevils can get in by hitching a ride on equipment and supplies, such as rented wooden pallets that could have been used on infected farms

Robotic harvesting technology passes on-farm testing.

Wallace's Farmer | Posted on January 8, 2018

An Iowa-based company is marketing one of agriculture’s first driverless systems for tractors. Smart Ag, an ag technology firm in Ames, has successfully tested the system that allows existing farm equipment to become autonomous. Smart Ag is taking orders and will sell a limited number of the systems in 2018. Smart Ag’s technology was demonstrated at a field day on a farm near Plainfield in northeast Iowa in November. MBS Family Farms hosted the event to help introduce AutoCart, a software program. When used with the SmartHP hardware system, it enables a tractor pulling a grain cart to be remotely controlled.

Pennsylvania: Executive Order Strengthens Fight Against Invasive Pests

Lancaster Farming | Posted on January 8, 2018

Recognizing the increasing threat invasive species pose to Pennsylvania’s economy and people, Gov. Tom Wolf last week announced an additional step to complement recent bipartisan legislation to help battle bad bugs and out-of-control plants. Wolf signed an executive order expanding the Governor’s Invasive Species Council to bring additional expertise and resources to bear in the battle against new invasive species, such as the spotted lanternfly, which has been found in 13 southeastern Pennsylvania counties.“When a new pest or species is introduced into an ecosystem, it disrupts the natural order, posing a threat to native species, established industries and the quality of life of our residents,” Wolf said.The council will be expanded from 10 to 14 members to pave the way for adding representatives of county and municipal governments, conservation districts and the transportation sector.

Soaring popularity of grass-fed beef may hit roadblock: less nutritious grass

NPR | Posted on January 8, 2018

What he's found is a trend in the nutritional quality of grasses that grass-fed cattle (and young cattle destined for grain-heavy feedlots) are eating. Since the mid-90s, levels of crude protein in the plants, which cattle need to grow, have dropped by nearly 20 percent.  "If we were still back at the forage quality that we would've had 25 years ago, no less 100 years ago, our animals would be gaining a lot more weight," Craine says. He has a sneaking suspicion that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are contributing as well. Increased CO2 levels have been linked to fewer nutrients in plants like rice, wheat and potatoes....Craine may have a point about rising carbon dioxide levels: The more carbon dioxide, the bigger the plant, but the amount of nitrogen, which makes plants nutritious for cattle, doesn't change.




Want to fix agriculture? Stop with the name-calling — and death threats.

The Washington Post | Posted on January 8, 2018

What has the world come to when people get death threats for expressing an opinion about agriculture? The toxicity of the debate about farming in general and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in particular is so entrenched that Mark Lynas, a prominent British journalist and environmentalist who publicly changed his mind about genetic modification, wasn’t even surprised by the death threats. “I got very few,” he says. And the name-calling and Internet trolling were just what he expected when he put his head over the parapet to champion GMOs. Other vocal supporters of conventional agriculture told me of a litany of insults: “Nazi,” “baby killer,” “Monsanto shill” and lots of stuff that we can’t put in a family newspaper.Being kind, though, is easy. Well, relatively easy; in moments of weakness I’ve certainly been snippy and snarky, and I will be making a concerted effort not to be. (Most of the time, at any rate. As I work on this column, an article about people paying $6 a gallon for “live” spring water crosses the transom and reminds me to reserve the right to some snark.)Mostly, though, my goals for 2018 are to be nicer, to try to change my mind more, and to persuade everyone to drop “anti-science” from their vocabulary. “Baby killer” should probably also go.

NC State project develops solar heaters for chicken houses

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on January 2, 2018

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a practical solar heater for poultry houses as part of a project partially funded by USPOULTRY and the USPOULTRY Foundation, the organization announced. Sanjay Shah and his colleagues developed and tested the low-cost solar heater that warms the air as it passes through a black plastic housing that has been heated by the sun. The system is designed to supplement the heat generated in poultry houses using propane-fueled equipment and should reduce overall heating costs at poultry farms where the systems are installed, the group said.

The Transformation of the American Farm, in 18 Charts

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on January 2, 2018

The shift to specialization, fed by technology and competition, has boosted profits. It has also left farmers more vulnerable to price busts like the one currently sweeping the Farm Belt.

EPA nixes bid to herd livestock under Clean Air Act

Capital Press | Posted on January 2, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it has denied a petition by environmental groups to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations like factories under the Clean Air Act. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, in a letter to petitioners, acknowledged livestock are potential sources of air pollutants. The agency, however, doesn’t have a reliable method for estimating animal emissions. Until it does, new rules could be unjustified and ineffective, according to Pruitt.“Once the agency has sufficient information on CAFO emissions, it will determine the appropriate regulatory approach to address those emissions,” he stated.

Rabobank warns of ‘rising tide of milk’

edairynews | Posted on January 2, 2018

Rabobank expects EU milk supply to continue growing in the next six months. European milk supply in the next six month will decide the fate of global markets, according to the latest report from the Dutch-based agri lender.Rabobank’s latest quarterly dairy report sets the tone clearly in its headline: “Rising tide of milk weighs on sentiment”.While the bank’s analysts note that global supply has increased since last spring, they warn that it is not over yet. In Oceania, unfavourable weather conditions reduced production during the November spring peak. This leaves room for expansion this year.