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Agriculture News

Nutria out of control in California

KTVU | Posted on February 22, 2018

Last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said wardens had found more than 20 "nutria" in wetlands, rivers and canals and in Merced, Fresno and Stanislaus counties. Wardens were trying to figure out how to eradicate the rodents, which are as big as small dogs and breed as fast as rabbits. If they take hold, wardens said, nutria could wreak a lot of havoc. "They burrow in dikes and levees and roadbeds so they weaken infrastructure. They're problematic for flood control systems," said Peter Tira, spokesman for the California Fish and Wildlife.Native to South America, nutria can reach up to 2.5 feet in body length and 20 pounds in weight. 

Six Tennessee ag businesses awarded grants from state

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on February 22, 2018

The Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture has recognized the first round of recipients of grants aimed at supporting rural agricultural programs in the Volunteer State. The grants from the Agricultural Enterprise Fund (AEF) are part of a plan to facilitate job creation, economic development and agricultural development in rural Tennessee, the agency said in a news release.

The Home Farm Comes Inside

Wall Street Journal | Posted on February 22, 2018

Don Beland is converting his five-bedroom suburban home in Holly Springs, N.C., into a farm— indoors. In the kitchen he has set up shelves that hold 12 trays of tomato seedlings, arugula, spinach and microgreens. In about two weeks, the tomato plants will move into the dining room, where Mr. Beland will replant them into a 7-foot high soilless growing system he is building. Near a window, jalapeño and habanero pepper seeds germinate in a 3-foot wide miniature greenhouse.The house is typically aglow with purple LED lights that can be seen from the street. “My wife worries about what people think,” Mr. Beland says.Restaurants tout tomatoes grown on site and supermarket placards designate produce from nearby farms. But homeowners like Mr. Beland may be the ultimate locavores. They are reoutfitting their homes to grow the freshest produce possible—even in winter.The $2 billion vegetable gardening industry is finding new ways to get indoors as well as out. Hydroponics, a soil-free way of growing plants, appeals to homeowners who like the idea of gardening but would rather avoid the dirt, especially indoors. Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. now either owns or has a majority stake in three home hydroponics brands including AeroGarden, which are devices that look like salad-growing space ships.

‘Canada does not treat us right,’ Trump complains on trade, the border

The Star | Posted on February 22, 2018

“We lose a lot of money with Canada. Canada does not treat us right in terms of the farming and the crossing the borders,” he said at a White House event on his new infrastructure proposal. “So they’ll either treat us right or we’ll just have to do business a little bit diff… really differently,” he said. “We cannot continue to be taken advantage of by other countries.” The Canadian government has disputed Trump’s frequent claim that the U.S. “loses” money on trade with Canada. When services trade is counted, the U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada, not a deficit.“The sum of our trade, including both goods and services, is essentially balanced. In fact, in 2016, the U.S. enjoyed a trade surplus with Canada of close to $8 billion (U.S.). In manufactured goods, your surplus was nearly $36 billion,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a speech Friday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. “Those are American numbers, by the way, from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in the Department of Commerce.”Trudeau also rejected Trump’s conception of trade as a battle between winners and losers.

American Soybean Association hires CEO to replace Steve Censky

Watt Ag Net | Posted on February 22, 2018

The American Soybean Association announced February 12 the selection of Ryan Findlay as its new CEO.  Findlay replaces Stephen Censky, who left ASA in October of 2017 after confirmation by the U.S. Senate as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Findlay is a native of Caro, Michigan, where his family still farms row crops.  He earned a degree in political science from Western Michigan University and an MBA from Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. The last four years Ryan worked for the global agricultural company Syngenta, focusing on freedom-to-operate issues impacting farmers. His seven-year tenure with the Michigan Farm Bureau included work on two farm bills, international trade, climate change and regulatory issues.  Ryan, his wife Gretchen, and their two children will be relocating to the St. Louis area, where he will work out of ASA’s headquarters office.

Britain worries about antibiotics in US inports

The Guardian | Posted on February 22, 2018

Livestock raised for food in the US are dosed with five times as much antibiotic medicine as farm animals in the UK, new data has shown, raising questions about rules on meat imports under post-Brexit trade deals. The difference in rates of dosage rises to at least nine times as much in the case of cattle raised for beef, and may be as high as 16 times the rate of dosage per cow in the UK. There is currently a ban on imports of American beef throughout Europe, owing mainly to the free use of growth hormones in the US. The contrast between rates of dosage in the US and the UK throws a new light on negotiations on Brexit, under which politicians are seeking to negotiate trade deals for the UK independently of the EU. Agriculture and food are key areas, particularly in trading with the US, which as part of any deal may insist on opening up the UK markets to imports that would be banned under EU rules.

Idaho: Trespass bill backed by Idaho farm groups sent to House floor

Capital Press | Posted on February 22, 2018

A bill supported by dozens of Idaho farm groups and aimed at deterring trespassing on private property has been sent to the House floor with a “do-pass” recommendation. Dozens of people testified on House Bill 536 before the House Agricultural Affairs Committee, including many farmers and ranchers who recounted numerous examples of damage done to their crops and equipment by trespassers. “We have had corrals burnt for firewood, fences cut, crops destroyed, water tanks shot up, livestock chased and shot and calves run over,” said Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who crafted the bill.he bill is supported by at least 30 farm groups.

Despite tweaks, dairy insurance program not saving Wisconsin farmers

LaCrosse Tribune | Posted on February 20, 2018

Western Wisconsin dairy farmers praised tweaks to a price insurance program Monday but told U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin they face much larger problems, primarily too much milk. Baldwin, D-Wis., met with farmers to talk about legislative tweaks to the program, which was introduced in the 2014 Farm Bill.Known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, the MPP allows farmers to purchase insurance that pays out when the cost to produce milk gets too close to their selling price. But farmers complained the formula doesn’t fully account for feed costs, nor does it factor in the cost of transportation and feed supplements.“It’s not a true reflection of costs,” said Tom Jandt, a small dairy farmer from Barre Mills who said he’s yet to receive any benefits from the program. The MPP was a great idea, said Frank Ponterio, a small dairy farmer from Melrose, but lawmakers changed the feed cost calculations and stripped production limits.“There’s no way of stopping all this milk from being produced,” he said.Despite spending about $10,000 a year for coverage in 2015 and 2016, Ken Wunderlin said he received only about $5,000 in payouts from the MPP.


Arkansas judge tosses out Monsanto dicamba suit

Politico | Posted on February 20, 2018

An Arkansas judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Monsanto seeking to block the state's plan to ban the warm-weather use of the herbicide dicamba. Monsanto and the Arkansas Plant Board have been engaged in a monthslong fight over the use of the herbicide in the state. The plant board — which is made up of farmers, agricultural business representatives, pesticide officials and weed scientists — voted last year to prohibit the use of the herbicide from April 16 through Oct. 31 after widespread complaints from farmers that the herbicide drifted from neighboring fields and damaged their crops.In response, Monsanto not only sued the board, but also sued the board's 13 members individually. Arkansas lawmakers, however, upheld the plant board's decision in January.The Pulaski County Circuit Court judge threw out the case based on an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that makes it difficult to sue state agencies."We are disappointed in the court’s decision to dismiss our legal challenge of the plant board’s restrictions, and we will consider additional legal steps that might be appropriate," Scott Partridge, vice president of global strategy for Monsanto, said in a statement. "We look forward to the day when Arkansas growers can benefit from the latest weed-control technology on the market."

MD:Lawmakers propose study to begin tracking air pollution from Maryland chicken farms

Baltimore Sun | Posted on February 20, 2018

Maryland lawmakers are weighing a study of whether huge chicken farms are polluting the air around them — a new front in an ongoing debate over how the state’s expansive poultry industry affects the environment. The proposal is stirring conflicts pitting economic development against public health, and scientific research versus political activism. The poultry industry dominates state agriculture, and its representatives say farms have had to grow in response to the rising costs of complying with environmental regulation and animal welfare concerns. Modern chicken houses hold thousands of birds to supply poultry giants such as Perdue, Tyson and Mountaire Farms. In recent years the poultry industry has responded with “good neighbor” policies intended to buffer the sights, sounds and smells of modern chicken farming and to prevent water pollution. But critics say that isn’t enough, and are calling for state environmental regulators to more closely monitor what, if any, pollutants livestock farms are blowing into communities’ air — and whether they pose a threat to human health.The proposal in Annapolis would put Maryland ahead of other states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has spent more than a decade considering livestock farms’ emissions without establishing a reliable way to estimate such potential air pollution.