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Agriculture News

Agricultural fungicide attracts honey bees

Science Daily | Posted on January 11, 2018

When given the choice, honey bee foragers prefer to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone, researchers report.

Pesticide makers examining "freeze" on neonics in California

Agri-Pulse | Posted on January 11, 2018

Pesticide manufacturers and applicators are examining the impacts of a California decision to “freeze”  uses for neonicotinoids while the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation re-evaluates their effects on pollinators. DPR issued a notice last week saying that it would not approve new or expanded uses for products currently being re-evaluated. Products affected include four neonicotinoids – thiamethoxam (trade name: Cruiser), clothianidin (Poncho, Votivo), imidacloprid (Gaucho), and dinotefuran (Venom).

How gene editing can revolutionize feeding the world

Agri-Pulse | Posted on January 11, 2018

Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to adopting new ways of farming and producing food. But there are big innovations underway in labs and universities that analysts describe as "revolutionary," enabling the creation of new plants and animals in months rather than decades. For the next few weeks, Agri-Pulse will explore “The Breeding Edge” – a seven-part series on how these new precision methods for plant and animal breeding are set to transform global food production and the potential impact for agribusinesses, farmers and consumers around the world.  These advancements are driven in part by new scientific discoveries, genetic research, data science, enhanced computational power, and the availability of new systems for precision breeding like CRISPR—an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.The outcomes possible with different types of precision breeding today might have seemed impossible just a few decades ago and these new opportunities have strong implications for both producers and consumers. 

What does Sessions’ policy mean for the future of weed?

Capital Press | Posted on January 11, 2018

Even as a series of states legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the possession, use or sale of the drug remained a federal crime. Still, the Justice Department, under President Barack Obama, took a hands-off approach. That changed Thursday. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked an Obama-era policy that was deferential to states’ permissive marijuana laws. Sessions is leaving it up to federal prosecutors in states that allow drug sales and use to decide whether to crack down on the marijuana trade.The move by Sessions has generated outrage among advocates for legal marijuana as well as some conservatives who believe the federal government shouldn’t overrule the wishes of state government on issues like this. It’s also generated confusion about what the policy might mean for marijuana users, sellers and states that collect taxes from pot sales.

Oregon sues Monsanto over PCB pollution in waterways, soil

Capital Press | Posted on January 11, 2018

The lawsuit cites internal memos and correspondence indicating that Monsanto knew early on about the toxic effects of PCBs. The lawsuit seeks $100 million to use to mitigate pollution, particularly along a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River in Portland that will be the target of a $1 billion cleanup announced by federal authorities in 2016.

ASPCA Runs Afowl in Game Bird Case

Cavalry Group | Posted on January 11, 2018

The federal agents had a warrant. They were looking for evidence of cockfighting. Carrano was made to sit in his kitchen while they searched the premises. There was no evidence because, well, Mr. Carrano isn't a cockfighter. Unfortunately, that didn't protect his birds. Carrano's birds are housed some 300 feet from his driveway. According to neighbors and others who witnessed their actions, the people from ASPCA put the birds in boxes, dropped them on the ground, tossed them around, and rolled them to their trucks, all of which is very stressful for the birds that have been raised from eggs on the property. An ASPCA truck also drove off and broke the end of his driveway as it was leaving.According to Mr. Carrano, he had five or six hens who were sitting on large nests of eggs getting ready to hatch. The agents and ASPCA personnel broke all of the eggs so they couldn't produce new chicks. They took all 70 of his hens and all of his roosters. These were birds that Carrano had bred and raised himself. He interacted with each bird several times per day and could identify each one on sight. As Mr. Carrano explained, he and his wife don't have any children and he put all of himself into caring for his birds. He had some birds with bloodlines dating back to the 1890s and one special hen he had kept for 16 years.

Despite seizing his birds, after four months there were still no charges in the case. Friends rallied around Carrano and a legal expense fund was set up to help him. The ASPCA was pressuring Carrano to relinquish his ownership rights to the birds, asking him four times to give them up.Unable to charge him with cockfighting, the government finally brought one count against Carrano: conspiracy to train and then sell his roosters to cockfighters.

Supercharged antibiotics could turn tide against superbugs

Science Daily | Posted on January 11, 2018

An old drug supercharged by researchers has emerged as a new antibiotic that could destroy some of the world's most dangerous superbugs. The supercharge technique potentially could revitalize other antibiotics.

Sneakers Made from Corn? Seat Cushions From Soybeans?

Wall Street Journal | Posted on January 11, 2018

Robust demand for processed foods, animal feed and biofuels isn’t keeping up with a record glut of crops in the U.S. and around the world, after several years of bumper harvests and largely benevolent weather. To sell the surplus, farmers and trade groups are wooing new customers, from car makers to toy companies. In recent years, corn and soybeans have been added to the recipes for Ford Motor Co. seat cushions, IKEA mattresses, Danone SA’s yogurt cups and Procter & Gamble Co.’s Olay moisturizers. Adidas AG’s Reebok brand recently unveiled sneakers made with corn. Lego A/S earlier this year said it was toying with using grain-based materials to mold its famous bricks. Industry groups also are calling for more research into new ways that the crops could replace petroleum as a raw material in industrial and construction applications.Argo Genesis Chemical LLC of Illinois recently developed its own highly flexible, soy-made plastics for use in products like road-paving materials, cardboard and diapers adhesives. The company says such compounds can help shield manufacturers from volatile oil prices.“Long term, we see this being the way the plastics industry moves,” says Steve Davies, spokesman for NatureWorks. “There’s tremendous potential to grow.”

Agriculture firms warn of unintended impact of tax law

Wall Street Journal | Posted on January 10, 2018

 A provision inserted into the tax code during Senate and House negotiations in December gave farmers more lucrative deductions when they sell agricultural products directly to the farm cooperatives he competes against rather than to businesses like his own.Mr. Tronson, whose four storage facilities handle 17 million bushels of grain a year, said the competition could spell the end of his 76-year-old family-owned business.“We’ve made a big investment. And this law, if they don’t change it, the scenario is that we’ll go broke,” he said.Farm groups and agricultural cooperatives battled last year to preserve a deduction on domestic U.S. production, which manufacturers also received. That deduction went away in the tax rewrite, but lawmakers including Sen. John Hoeven (R., N.D.) won the inclusion of a new deduction. The new provision allows farmers to deduct up to 20% of their total sales to cooperatives, letting some farmers reduce their taxable income to zero. It is a more generous version of a deduction that owners of pass-through businesses, such as partnerships and S-corporations, get in the law.Farmers would get a smaller deduction—about 20% of income—if they sell grain or other farm products to privately held or investor-owned companies like Mr. Tronson’s.Tax lawyers and accountants said the new law will give cooperatives a significant edge over competitors. That stands to benefit co-op giants including American Crystal Sugar Co., Land O’Lakes Inc., CHS Inc. and Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.

Proposed Arkansas dicamba spraying cutoff date remains April 15

Delta Farm Press | Posted on January 8, 2018

The Arkansas Plant Board decided to stick with the same proposed dicamba regulations it first passed last fall. The second go-around with the regulations became necessary when, in December, state lawmakers asked the board to reconsider a mid-April spraying cutoff date along with the possibility of establishing spraying zones. The lawmakers, as part of the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC), said the Plant Board should consider revising those rules using “scientific-based evidence, a dividing line to create north and south zones, and ambient temperature and humidity applicable to temperature inversion during night-time hours.”