he promotion of greater diversification and biodiversity in farming and food systems has long been a major goal of the Kansas Rural Center. Diversity in people, cultures and ideas, and a small but growing number of foreign-born immigrants, are also changing the state’s demographics. According to the Pew Research Center, two percent of Kansas’ population in 1980 were foreign-born residents; by 2012, that number had grown to six-and-a-half percent. Immigration has benefitted rural areas of the Midwest by slowing population loss, according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; and because many immigrants have roots in agriculture, food and food production is a unifying force.
The herbicide glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. That is the conclusion reached by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its draft risk assessment released this week. The assessment is set for a 60-day public comment period early in 2018. The EPA said in a news release this week that a proposed interim registration review decision for glyphosate is set for publication in 2019. That decision would propose a variety of mitigation steps to reduce glyphosate risks, if measures are needed. EPA said it also conducted an "in-depth review" of the glyphosate cancer database.
USDA is offering grants for innovative ideas for conservation strategies and technologies. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest $10 million in the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, funding innovative conservation projects in three focus areas: grazing lands, organic systems and soil health. Grant proposals are due Feb. 26, 2018. "Conservation Innovation Grants play a critical role in developing and implementing new methods to help our customers conserve natural resources, strengthen their local communities, and improve their bottom lines," said Rob Johansson, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. "Today's announcement supports our efforts to help producers build economically-strong and resilient farms and ranches by providing producers tools to utilize across their working farmlands.”
It turns out that the current amount of pastureland in the US could only support 45 percent of our current beef production and consumption. This admittedly narrow definition of sustainability relies on feeding cows more agricultural byproducts, which, as of now, account for only about 10 percent of their diet; the scientists note that, “despite the recent doubling of distillers’ grain utilization,” these byproducts are still plentiful. If we were to cut the pastureland that ranchers currently use in half, that would diminish beef availability to... 43 percent of current values, rather than 45. So freeing up about a 135 hectares—almost a quarter of our national surface area, and twice the size of France—would decrease beef availability by only two percentage points.
Whether it’s remote sensing tools or developing better water strategies for rural or urban areas, Texas A&M AgriLife Research is putting m ore research dollars to work faster than any agricultural entity across the nation, according to officials.AgriLife Research led the nation in agricultural research expenditures for fiscal year 2016 with more than $179 million, according to the National Science Foundation. This marked the fifth year in a row the agency led in research investments, topping more than 200 universities nationwide.
A mistrial marked a major step this week in favor of a family of ranchers accused of leading armed standoffs in two states to oppose U.S. control of vast stretches of land in the American West. But states’ rights activist Cliven Bundy and his sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy are not clear of legal troubles and say they are not gearing up for another fight in a decades-long dispute with the government over management of public lands.The Bundys and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne are charged with conspiracy, assault and threats over an armed confrontation with federal agents who were rounding up of Bundy cattle on public land in 2014.The judge scheduled the hearing next month to give prosecutors and defense teams time to submit written arguments about whether the case should be dismissed.“A fair trial at this point is impossible with this jury,” the judge declared Wednesday. But “the court is not determining or making a finding (that) the defendants are in fact not guilty.”She also set a new trial date, Feb. 26. Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre didn’t immediately say whether he would seek to retry the case.U.S. Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said in an email Thursday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has personally ordered a review of the case to decide what to do next.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture made the first formal move Wednesday to electronically follow every cow in the state from birth to slaughter. The department indicated it will propose replacing metal ID tags with radio-frequency identification, or RFID, on tens of thousands of cows. According to WSDA, electronic tags will be less prone to record-keeping errors and help track cattle as individuals, not just part of a branded herd.“Updating our rules to incorporate RFID devices is an important first step in strengthening our state’s animal disease traceability system,” State Veterinarian Brian Joseph said in a written statement.
A Grant County, Wash., farmer and the landowners he leased fields from have been fined a total of $618,000 by the state Department of Ecology for illegally drawing from the shrinking Odessa aquifer to irrigate 530 acres this year. Ecology alleges that Ron Fode continued to irrigate after he and the landowners were told more than once last spring to stop.“This isn’t fair to other irrigators who follow the law or to local communities and rural landowners who depend on this groundwater for their drinking water,” Ecology water resources manager Mary Verner said in a written statement.
California’s legal marijuana market is finally, fitfully, taking shape. The state on Thursday issued the first batch of business licenses to sell and transport recreational-use pot, just 18 days before legal sales will begin on Jan. 1.The 20 temporary licenses — some of which were for the previously existing medical marijuana industry — represent a fraction of the thousands of licenses expected to follow as the state embraces legal weed in 2018, but their release set off jubilation.In general, California will treat cannabis like alcohol, allowing people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce and grow six marijuana plants at home.
Louisiana's agriculture department has unveiled its second mobile pet shelter for emergencies. It's similar to one rolled out during the 2015 hurricane season. The new unit is a 48-foot transport truck equipped with up to 55 metal cages, feed, water bowls and a wash down system. It has an air ventilation system to provide proper air circulation and temperature for the pets.The agriculture department can accommodate up to 3,000 pets at established mega pet shelters. The mobile pet shelter is primarily used when sudden events -- such as the August 2016 flood -- occur in areas where pet shelters aren't available.Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said in a statement that the new mobile shelter was funded with a $72,100 grant from the Banfield Foundation.