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How An Engineer's Desperate Experiment Created Fracking

The fracking boom in America kicked off almost by accident. An engineer worried about losing his job kept experimenting until he hit on a technique that changed the world. Back in 1995, Nick Steinsberger was 31. He was working for an oil company called Mitchell Energy. And he had just gotten a promotion. He was put in charge of an area called the Barnett Shale. It was in central Texas. And the company had a bunch of natural gas wells there. A couple of months in, management called him in for a meeting.

Ontario court could shut down raw milk distribution, promotion

The outcome of a two-day hearing set for today and tomorrow in the Ontario Court of Justice at Newmarket may send raw milk drinkers in Canada down a more political road after years of fighting court battles. The hearing will determine if the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Health were correct in January when they filed applications for injunctions against Michael Schmidt, Elisa Vander Hout, Glencolton Farms, the Agriculture Renewal Coop, and any other Canadian who provides, distributes, or recommends raw milk.

Catfish Controversy Continues: Lawmakers Push To Upend USDA Inspection Program

Earlier this year, FDA transferred jurisdiction over catfish inspection to USDA.  By way of background, FDA regulates the majority of the U.S. food supply, while USDA exercises jurisdiction over meat, poultry, and egg products.  Although FDA historically has regulated fish and fishery products, the 2008 Farm Bill required FDA to divest its authority over the inspection of Siluriformes fish (including catfish) to USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).

6,000+ Corn Farmers Push Congress to Pass TTP Trade Deal

U.S. corn farmers are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to pushing for passage of the TransPacific Trade Partership (TTP) trade deal. At least 6,325 corn farmers have written letters to urge members of Congress to pass the 12-member trade pact. 

Use of broadband linked to greater civic engagement

Rural residents who use broadband are more likely to vote, belong to a group, trust their neighbors, and do other activities that indicate civic participation. But researchers saw this difference only when residents used broadband, not just when it was theoretically available. That may have implications for how public broadband programs should focus their efforts.

Job Growth Focused on Largest Cities

National employment has been on the rise since 2010, but most U.S. counties still have fewer jobs today than they did when the Great Recession started in 2008.  Half of all metropolitan counties (580 out of 1,165) had fewer jobs in 2015 than they did in 2008. And a stunning 67 percent of nonmetropolitan counties (1,326 out of 1,969) had fewer jobs last year than they did before the recession. All the job growth has been in metropolitan America.

Senate Panel Unanimously Approves CFTC Nominees

The Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday approved two long-delayed nominees to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, though it remained unclear if the full Senate would ultimately confirm the pair. The nominees— Chris Brummer, a Democrat who is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, and Brian Quintenz, a Republican and a former House aide—were approved unanimously by voice vote, a committee spokeswoman said.

Minnesota to open new Bee, Pollinator Research Lab

To find solutions to protect bees and pollinators and also food supplies and human health, the U of M has built a new state-of-the-art Bee and Pollinator Research Lab on the St. Paul campus that opens in October. Two-thirds of the nearly $5 million cost was covered by state-funded bonding, with the balance coming from private gifts and donations. Mann Lake Ltd. is one of several major private funders of the Bee Lab.

Trouble Brewing in the Craft Beer Industry

Creature Comforts Brewing Co. is growing so fast that its supply chain can’t keep up. The brewer has had so much trouble finding enough of a special type of hops called citra—the plant that gives its popular Tropicália ale its bitter flavor and fruity aroma—that it has been forced to reject orders for about 8,000 barrels of beer during the past year. That is more than $2 million in revenue and enough beer to nearly double production. The Athens, Ga.-based brewer isn’t alone.

'Digital future' for farming

Digitalisation, insects and 3D food printing will shape tomorrow’s industry.  o enable this new era of innovation, Bakas said the farming industries should give more room to “outsiders” and “use more craziness”. “Watch people who are doing things differently and learn from them,” he said. “We are living in pre revolutionary times. Be aware of it all, you will do it but you will only do it if you embrace change.” As technology continues to develop, Bakas said consumer engagement and the role of the media will also see a step change.

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