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Healthy Key deer may be corralled to save herd

Federal wildlife managers have begun building an enclosure across several acres of the National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key. If the number of deer battling an outbreak of New World screwworm climbs too high, they will begin fencing healthy deer to save the herd

Alaska gives meat plant survival effort another go

Alaska’s Board of Agriculture and Conservation has issued another request for proposals to lease or purchase the long struggling Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage plant in Palmer after several failed efforts and a looming closure in summer 2017. The meat plant is the only USDA-approved slaughter and processing facility in Southcentral Alaska, which the state has operated since 1986 as an asset of its Agricultural Revolving Loan Fund. State officials said preference will be given to bidders who plan to continue slaughter and processing operations at the property.

For animal ag, cheap grain is good, but might not be enough

The monthly average price of corn received by U.S. producers has been less than $4 per bushel for 27 consecutive months and prices below $4 are expected to persist well into 2017, writes University of Illinois professor emeritus Darrel Good. Expected larger South American corn supplies on the world market next year would contribute to keeping U.S. corn prices down. Brazil production is expected to rebound from last year’s drought and Argentina is expected to expand corn area due to reduced export taxes. Meanwhile, U.S. farmers are just finishing harvesting a large corn crop.

Endangered, with climate change to blame

A court decision on Oct. 24 was a win for species threatened by climate change. The case centered on National Marine Fisheries Service findings that estimate a Pacific bearded seal subspecies will lose so much sea ice habitat, they will become endangered by 2095.  In 2012, the seals had been federally listed as threatened based on climate change predictions, but a lawsuit brought by oil and gas companies, indigenous tribes and the state of Alaska challenged the classification.

Wildlife Services to revisit predator removal effects

Wildlife Services has long rankled wildlife advocates; in 2014, the federal agency killed 2.7 million animals — golden eagles, barn owls, black-tailed prairie dogs, mountain lions and wolves as well as invasive species. The agency researches but rarely uses nonlethal alternatives, and reform has been stalled in part because half of its budget, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is funded by contracts with state and county municipalities, ranchers and businesses.

Chicken industry doing its part in curbing antimicrobial resistance: FDA

Sales of antimicrobials among food-animal producers in the United States have been on the rise, but the chicken industry is showing signs of helping to buck the trend, a Food and Drug Administration official said here at the National Chicken Council’s annual meeting. Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said data show that sales of antimicrobials among food-animal producers rose 22 percent from 2009 to 2014, including a 4 percent bump from 2013 to 2014.

Scientist pleads guilty in rice seed theft case

A 61-year-old scientist has pleaded guilty to a federal charge nearly three years after he was accused of stealing proprietary seeds developed in the U.S. and giving them to a delegation visiting from China.  Wengui Yan, of Stuttgart, Ark., pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., to one count of making false statements to the FBI, the Justice Department said in a release.  Yan was a geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Dale Bumpers National Research Center in Stuttgart, when he was originally charged in December 2013.

Research: Viral pathogens can move from country to country through feed

Foreign animal diseases can enter the United States via feed imports from high-risk countries, according to new research from the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC).  Until recently, the industry wasn’t sure whether pathogens moved through feed imports from high-risk regions, largely because little research had been conducted.  But the research, conducted by Scott Dee at the Pipestone Applied Research, Pipestone Veterinary Services, South Dakota State University (SDSU) and Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) confirms suspicions.  “Via simulation, we’ve shown for the first time that v

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