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|:: September 5-September 19,
Food and Rural Communities
Federal and International
The vote in the recount was 11,900 for the “right to farm” amendment and 8,587 against it compared to the primary election count of 11,898 to 8,588 in Franklin County.
The big ag bill vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon this summer will remain vetoed. An attempt during the veto override session failed by just one vote. A legislator changed his vote from “yah” to “nay” at the last minute. The Missouri Dairy Association, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and the majority of ag groups in the state had pushed for the override, saying important provisions in the bill are necessary for Missouri agriculture. The controversial provision to move captive deer from the oversight of the Conservation Department to the Department of Agriculture was the reason for Nixon’s veto of the entire bill.
Governor Steve Beshear joined state officials and community leaders to recognize two bills that support the state’s farm families and food banks. In particular, the budget bill provided funding for the Farms to Food Banks initiative. A second bill designed to support landowner rights in protecting their crops and livestock from nuisance wildlife also has beneficial impacts for food banks. The Farms to Food Banks initiative provides for the Kentucky Association of Food Banks to purchase Kentucky-grown surplus and No. 2 produce that is edible but not sellable on the retail market. The produce is distributed at no cost to low-income Kentuckians throughout the food bank network. House Bill 448 gives better protection to Kentucky’s landowners by clarifying their legal ability to remove wildlife in the act of causing damage. After those depredating animals are harvested, property owners may dispose of the carcasses on-site or can donate the meat to be processed and sent to a local food bank.
The Iowa Soybean Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, and the Iowa Pork Producers Association announced the formation of the Iowa Agricultural Water Alliancea nonprofit organization committed to advancing the success of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy by increasing farmer awareness of the initiative and their adoption of science-based practices proven to have quantifiable environmental benefits. The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was developed as Iowa’s response to the 2008 Gulf Hypoxia Plan that called for the states bordering the Mississippi River to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus reaching the gulf by at least 45 %. The Strategy is not limited to agriculture but includes elements to deal with both point and nonpoint sources of pollution. In Iowa the point sources of nitrogen and phosphorus include 102 major municipal wastewater treatment plants and 28 industrial facilities.
Food industry groups urged a federal judge to halt Vermont's gmosm food labeling law, describing it as a costly and unnecessary measure that would trample food groups' constitutional rights. The GMA filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that would prevent Vermont from going forward with its plans to implement the new food labeling requirements under Act 120. The groups say the rules, currently scheduled to go into effect in 2016, should be put on ice until after “this litigation has run its course.”
Yale Law School Animal Legal Defense and the Connecticut Bar Association Animal Law Section proudly present this year's conference entitled "The Agricultural Gag Laws--Your First Amendment Rights, Your Health, Animal Welfare, and Our Environment." Eight states currently have agricultural gag laws that criminalize whistleblowers who expose animal cruelty and food safety issues in farming practices through undercover investigations, and many other states have considered or are considering such legislation. This year's conference will examine the impact of these laws on freedom of speech, health, food safety, consumer advocacy, animal welfare, and the environment. The conference will bring together prominent individuals and activists from the animal law, food law, health law, and journalism fields. The keynote address will be delivered by the Humane Society of the United States CEO, Wayne Pacelle.
The three-bill package signed by Brown will create local agencies to oversee groundwater extraction, a turn from the state’s historic practice of allowing landowners in most cases to extract any water that lies beneath their land.
Michigan agriculture commission agrees. By a vote of 4-0, Michigan's commissioners of agriculture adopted changes in the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program that make raising farm animals in areas zoned primarily residential ineligible for livestock verification. Commissioner Bob Kennedy was absent. Verification that a farm is following all protective rules under the voluntary MAEAP program has been a tool farmers, especially those in suburban or urban areas, could use to demonstrate their farms are in compliance with all state and federal farming regulations. Although a farm may still comply with every other aspect of sound management, the change makes farm animal ownership in primarily residential areas automatically a "significant hazard.”
I would have a really hard time lying about who I was, my work history and why I am interested in working on a livestock facility. It just isn’t in my makeup. I was a little surprised that when two veteran animal rights undercover video activists told the audience at Farm Animal Rights’ National Animal Rights Conference about their “exploits,” they didn’t mention any stress or strain to their consciences brought about by their deception. They complained about the hard work on the farm. Taylor Radig, undercover activist, complained that when working for the Quanah Cattle Company she had to work 12- to 14-hour long, hard, laborious days. It was “hard, back-breaking.” TJ Tumasse, complained of being cut open, chemically burned, experiencing heat exhaustion, being rammed, bitten and also working with broken ribs while employed at roadside zoos, animal shelters and “factory farms.” Simone Reyes, animal rights activist said we “won’t stop until we complete our goal of total and complete animal liberation.” She said that the animal rights movement needs to join other social movements because “no one is free while others are suppressed.”
All aboveground tanks over 1,320 gallons must be registered with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection by Oct. 1, this includes water and milk tanks.
Rows of cotton that have been picked by the same family for generations sit in the shadow of a railroad track in Mumford, a small farming community about 22 miles northeast of College Station in the Brazos River Valley. The cotton is starting to bloom and Frank DeStefano, who farms the land along with three brothers, said it will be a beautiful sight in a few weeks. DeStefano also said this might be one of the last seasons they grow crops on this land. Union Pacific Railroad has bought about 700 acres of the land DeStefano’s family leases to grow cotton, and the company says it is considering building a rail yard in the area to service the railroad. “It’s going to change the way of life here in this community — this is a farming community, and it is going to become an industrial community,” DeStefano said. “For the people who live here, there’s not going to be nighttime. There’s going to be noise and lights constantly.” About 50 farmers and landowners who are part of a coalition called the Brazos River Bottom Alliance are fighting the potential construction of the rail yard, concerned it will destroy longtime farmland and damage the environment.
“Voter Initiative, Genetically Engineered Organisms: Should the proposed initiative prohibiting the cultivation or reproduction of genetically engineered organisms within the County of Maui, which may be amended or repealed as to a specific person or entity when required environmental and public health impact studies, public hearings, a two thirds vote and a determination by the County Council that such operation or practice meets certain standards, and which establishes civil and criminal penalties, be adopted for Maui County?”
A group of Maui County residents and organizations are suing in an attempt to stop a county voter initiative to ban GMO farming from appearing on the November ballot. The Molokai Chamber of Commerce and a group called Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban filed the lawsuit.
If the activists who insist that foods made with ingredients from GMO crops are potentially dangerous to the health of the American people, if they really believe that were true, then they shouldn’t be advocating for labeling, they should be advocating that foods made with GMOs need to be banned! I’d ask these activists the following question: If there were a “dangerous” ingredient being added to your food, and you were convinced of it, would you be okay with a company merely printing a “Made with [Potentially Dangerous] Ingredients” statement somewhere on the package? And that's the end of it? Would you be satisfied with that?
A state rule-making panel has given its preliminary approval to Indiana's first regulations governing big stand-alone ponds and lagoons built to hold manure trucked in from livestock farms. The Environmental Rules Board gave initial approval to the rules for so-called "satellite" manure lagoons. Some environmentalists fear the rules will turn Indiana into a dumping ground for out-of-state manure. The rules largely mirror Indiana's existing regulations for manure lagoons on large livestock farms. Board chairwoman Beverly Gard says the panel is expected to tweak the rules in response to some of the environmentalists' concerns before giving them its final approval.
This review briefly summarizes the scientific literature on performance and health of animals consuming feed containing GE ingredients and composition of products derived from them. It also discusses the field experience of feeding GE feed sources to commercial livestock populations and summarizes the suppliers of GE and non-GE animal feed in global trade. Numerous experimental studies have consistently revealed that the performance and health of GE-fed animals are comparable with those fed isogenic non-GE crop lines. United States animal agriculture produces over 9 billion food-producing animals annually, and more than 95% of these animals consume feed containing GE ingredients. Data on livestock productivity and health were collated from publicly available sources from 1983, before the introduction of GE crops in 1996, and subsequently through 2011, a period with high levels of predominately GE animal feed. These field data sets representing over 100 billion animals following the introduction of GE crops did not reveal unfavorable or perturbed trends in livestock health and productivity. No study has revealed any differences in the nutritional profile of animal products derived from GE-fed animals. Because DNA and protein are normal components of the diet that are digested, there are no detectable or reliably quantifiable traces of GE components in milk, meat, and eggs following consumption of GE feed.
Journal of Animal Science (for complete article contact email@example.com)
Until recently, most farmers using UAVs have been safely and legally operating as hobbyists, who are not subject to FAA regulations on unmanned aircrafts. Then on June 25, the FAA proposed a new interpretation of "hobbyists" that explicitly excludes farming activities. Under a list of sample activities that would not qualify as hobbyist or recreational use of a UAV, the document lists, "Determining whether crops need to be watered that are grown as part of commercial farming operation." The commercial use of UAVs is currently banned, so the FAA's reference to the use of UAVs in agriculture throws this already bustling area of agricultural activity and experimentation into a strange gray region, said Kent Shannon, a natural resources engineering specialist with the University of Missouri. Farmers must be careful to keep their UAV activity within the other hobbyist guidelines for now. That means flying under 400 feet, always keeping the UAV in your line of sight, using an aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds, and never flying closer than five miles to an airport. It also means farmers should not be using an UAV for any obvious commercial activity, such as hiring someone to fly over their fields.
Under Measure 92, citizens can file lawsuits accusing retailers and manufacturers of violating the GMO labeling requirement. Farmers are not subject to lawsuits unless they also manufacture or retail food products. Critics of mandatory labeling are worried the initiative will create legal liabilities for farmers who make jams, jellies or other processed products from their crops and sell them through farmers markets or other outlets. “That’s going to be a lot of smaller operators that are trying to do value-added products,” said Katie Fast, vice president of public policy at the Oregon Farm Bureau. Growers who don’t cultivate genetically engineered crops themselves would still bear the burden of proving that other product ingredients aren’t transgenic, said Barry Bushue, the OFB’s president. “I think it creates a real litigation risk for farmers,” he said. A farmer who makes jams, for example, would have to find out whether his sugar supply is non-GMO.
Free-range chickens are more likely to catch disease, get injured and die earlier than their caged counterparts. Chickens that roam free live a life of peril because they have not been bred to survive an outdoor life, said Dr. Barry Thorp of the Royal School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh. “I think that for long-term sustainability, free-range systems do not work,” He also warned that a greater number of free-range chickens raises the risk of a major epidemic of bird flu in the United Kingdom as the disease could spread between chickens in fields and ducks in nearby rivers. Dr. Victoria Sandilands of Scotland’s Rural College said that free-range birds have a mortality rate of 8 to 10 % – above the death rate of 2 to 4 % for caged hens – and free-range hens are twice as likely to have fractured bones than those kept in cages.
Cows raised on organic and conventional dairy farms in three regions of the US show no significant differences in health or in the nutritional content of their milk, according to a study by Oregon State University.
Farm and dairy
The Cumberland County Agriculture Committee agreed to present changes in the poultry ordinance as requested by Keystone Foods, to the fiscal court. Over 20 individuals spoke to the court about their concerns with the poultry ordinance. Kim McCoy, a representative of the Cumberland County Agriculture Committee, presented the changes recommended by the committee to the fiscal court. The changes recommended by the committee were: -changing the number of chicken houses a producer can have on his property from two to four houses. -changing the amount of birds per house from 23,000 to 25,000. -changing the minimum feet from a residence from 2,500 feet to 1,500 feet. -removal of the agricultural zone wording from the ordinance. The committee also said that the producer must live on the property where the chicken houses are located. The court approved the requests and accepted the changes to the ordinance with a unanimous vote. The amended ordinance will have its first reading at the October fiscal court meeting.
The sale and use of fertilizers laden with phosphorous, used to feed crops and keep lawns and fields green, will soon be restricted by a law that opponents say will hurt the farming and landscaping industries. The rules, which stem from a law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick two years ago, seek to curb the use of phosphorus fertilizers. State officials say the regulations – which were supposed to have gone into effect Jan. 1 -- were delayed by opposition from the lawn care industry, farmers and others. The new rules are expected to be implemented this fall. Methuen's Richard Bonanno, president of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, said farmers are concerned the proposed setback and other restrictions will threaten the agricultural industry. “If you’re growing a crop, you have to feed it. That’s what fertilizer is,” said Bonanno, a vegetable farmer. “Whether you get that fertilizer from manure, compost or a bag, you still have to feed that crop. Or it dies.”
Board officials confirmed the investigation into the practices at the Winchester Dairy near Dexter. They were working on interviewing the activist and tracking down the workers identified in the video. "We are investigating it very aggressively. The district attorney is on board and everybody is working hard to make sure we do this right," said Shawn Davis, an area supervisor with the livestock board. Dairy officials have been cooperating since investigators first arrived last Friday, board officials said. The dairy said in a statement that animal care and well-being are central to its operation. As a result, the dairy fired all employees and referred the abusive workers to law enforcement for further review following its own internal investigation. The dairy also halted milking operations, stopped shipments to all vendors and dispersed thousands of cows to other dairies with strong track records in animal welfare.
We received word that the next dairy farm abuse video is right around the corner. After watching it, it is indeed abuse and deserves no excuses. But we won’t share more than that to limit unneeded promotion. Yes, there may be parts that are not actually abuse that are staged to look like a horrible situation – like attempts to get a down cow up using extreme measures to significantly improve her well-being – but they do not make up for the appalling parts of the video. My hope is that this is the last one, ever. But odds are that is wishful thinking. Whether farm owners or employees act in good faith 364 days a year or not, it just takes one bad decision to result in deserved consequences for that person and farm, while also unfortunately painting a poor, untrue picture for our entire industry. Time to fight back We, animal agriculturalists, need to work harder to share the story of the vast majority of farms. If you’re not sharing 100 great things about your farm to family and friends for every 1 bad thing that happens somewhere else, I fear we will continue to lose the confidence of the public.
Wall Street Journal
Federal fisheries managers have proposed a new rule requiring West Coast commercial fishermen who unroll long lines of baited hooks on the ocean bottom also put out long lines of fluttering plastic to scare off seabirds trying to steal the bait. The proposed rule published in the Federal Register is designed to protect the endangered short-tailed albatross, which once numbered in the millions but is down to about 1,200 individuals. The West Coast is the last piece of U.S. waters within the range of the short-tailed albatross to adopt the protective measures, which are already in effect for waters off Alaska and Hawaii. The public has 30 days to comment on the proposed rule, which is expected to take effect in November.
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the National Milk Producers Federation signed a memorandum of understanding to promote increased cooperation and communication between the organizations in their efforts to make watershed level water quality improvements. The agreement marks a milestone in efforts to strengthen ties between urban and rural sectors on conservation activities to improve local water quality and the environment. The goal of the agreement is to encourage clean water agencies and nearby dairy farms to work together on these endeavors. Potential projects include cooperation on building anaerobic digesters, which can use manure to generate electricity and reduce methane emissions, and increasing production of water quality benefits through the use of nutrient separation technologies and land management practices such as planting grass buffers near streams.
A new Leawood-based investment group wants to improve the way agriculture technology is researched and marketed. Technology Acceleration Partners, is a private capital investment group aimed at improving business and research for companies in the agriculture, animal and plant health sciences and food sciences sectors. A group of eight investors, who also serve as the board of directors for TechAccel, want to change the current model for agriculture science, a partner, like an agriculture-based business, would come to TechAccel with an idea that they would like to see put into the marketplace. That idea could be anything from a new vaccination, a modified crop or something simpler, like a tool or piece of equipment. Maybe they lack funding, expertise, technology or research capability, but whatever the problem is, TechAcel will scout out the solution. It will use a pool of contracted experts or research universities like Kansas State to develop the idea, with TechAccel and the partner splitting costs. Once the product reaches the marketplace, TechAccel will receive a portion of the revenue or profit from a buyout. They would like to start six projects per year. TechAccel will hire a small number of analysts and tech experts, but the research will be contracted out to labs or universities.
The Daily Signal
Mississippi River Basin Lags Behind in Reducing Nutrient Runoff. Most Mississippi River basin states have not finished plans to reduce nutrient runoff into the Gulf of Mexico, have not set specific reduction targets or timelines, and have expressed concern about a limited ability to monitor water quality and measure the progress, according to a new EPA inspector general report. Only Iowa and Ohio completed final nutrient reduction strategies among the 12 states in the basin by 2013. The IG found that of the 12 task force states, only Iowa and Minnesota established nitrogen and phosphorus reduction goals. Wisconsin is the only state to set phosphorus reduction goals. The other states do not have nutrient reduction goals in place. So far only Minnesota's draft strategy has a timeframe for achieving nutrient reductions. Minnesota set reduction goals of 20% for nitrogen and 35% for phosphorous.
Soft white wheat farmers have struck a tentative settlement deal with the Monsanto to end litigation over an unauthorized release of genetically engineered wheat in eastern Oregon last year. Farmers in several states filed legal complaints against the biotech developer after the USDA announced that an Oregon farmer had discovered transgenic wheat that’s resistant to glyphosate herbicides.
The US Poultry & Egg Association has released a video featuring experts who explain the current and future use of antibiotics in the poultry industry.
The meat industry's unsuccessful attempts to get an injunction against implementation of federal country-of-origin labeling (COOL) laws may have opened a back door to the industry's adversaries, said Steve Kay, editor of Cattle Buyers Weekly. In late July, an en banc panel of judges with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld government rules requiring country-of-origin labels on packaged steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat to inform consumers where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. But the ruling went beyond allowing the USDA to implement COOL, Kay argued. The injunction was about the First Amendment and Constitutional rights. Industry testified in court that COOL goes beyond congressional intent and force meat producers to provide information about their products without "directly advancing a government interest". But the judges' ruling "laid down a legal justification for compelled speech," Kay said, which could later be used by activist groups as a weapon against the livestock industry. Cattle feed practices, environmental impact and union and wage status of workers could become public fodder for meat industry foes to turn against the industry. A dissenting opinion written by Judge Janice Rogers Brown: “Of course the victors today will be the victims tomorrow because the standard created by this case will virtually ensure the producers supporting this labeling regime will one day be saddled with objectionable disclosure requirements (perhaps to disclose cattle feed practices; how their cattle are raised; whether their cattle were medically treated and with what; the environmental effects of beef production; or even the union status or wage levels of their employees). “Only the fertile imaginations of activists will limit what disclosures successful efforts from vegetarian, animal rights, environmental, consumer protection, or other as-yet-unknown lobbies may compel,” she said.
Such symbiotic solutions are investigated and tested within the emerging scientific field known as “agroecology.” An agroecological approach designs and manages farms with whole ecosystems—soils, plants, animals, the atmosphere, and human beings—in mind. By understanding the connections between each component, farmers can be productive while building essential natural resources. There are a growing number of examples from public universities that show how agroecological practices can produce multiple benefits. Research at the University of New Hampshire is demonstrating how an organic dairy farm can generate energy and reduce environmental impacts, while a long-term study at Iowa State University has shown that more diversified farming systems can reduce chemical use and increase farmers’ profitability. Despite their potential, a lack of funding is holding back further development of such systems.
While condemning the
conventional agriculture feeding the masses, many anti-GMO councilmembers
support organic agriculture. Organic and conventional agricultural systems can
and do coexist, and are we really producing so much food that we can get rid of
a whole sector?
When we think of invasive species, we picture red lionfish hailing from Southeast Asian waters, the emerald ash beetle currently destroying trees in the Midwest, or biting fire ants. But the "invasive species" that is possibly most devastating to ecosystems throughout the world is a little closer to home: cattle grazing. Livestock are one of the main drivers of ecological degradation globally, and the crisis is only becoming worse. Grazing has a place in just about every agricultural system, but introducing large numbers of grass-munching cattle into areas where cows were not previously found is rapidly wreaking havoc on native ecosystems - so much so that the practice can now be characterized as an "invasive species."
Across the globe, consumers (81%) and farmers (78%) say they care a lot about sustainability in agriculture. However, the two groups have a very different understanding of what sustainability means. While farmers see it as a detailed, multi-dimensional issue, consumers tend to define it mainly in the context of environmental aspects. This is one of the main findings revealed in the latest BASF Farm Perspectives Study. Carried out for the second time since 2011, the study analyzed answers from 2,100 farmers and 7,000 consumers in seven different countries regarding their perceptions on a range of topics related to food production. Compared to results from previous years, the study revealed how attitudes regarding agriculture differ greatly not only between farmers and consumers, but also from country to country.
It turns out, passion and grit are just a few of the prerequisites. Some of the biggest stumbling blocks are access to land and access to capital: Tractors don't come cheap. And some of the steepest learning curves come when young farmers learn they also need to become competent bookkeepers and marketers.
Virtual reality project is journalism first. In a first-of-its-kind explanatory journalism project, The Des Moines Register and Gannett Digital have partnered to tell the story of an Iowa farm family using emerging virtual reality technology and 360-degree video. The experience — which will launch on Monday, Sept. 22 as part of the Register's Harvest of Change series about how sweeping demographic and economic changes in America are affecting Iowa farm families — takes viewers on a virtual tour of the Dammann family farm in southwest Iowa, to a central "shop" location that includes the original 1901 farmhouse and the nerve center of the family's corn, soybean and calving operation.
Des Moines Register
Larger corn and soybean crops translate into lower projected 2014/15 prices for many grains and oilseeds. Corn prices drop to $3.50 per bushel, soybeans to $9.92 per bushel and wheat to $5.91. In all three cases, these projected prices are close to the midpoint of the price ranges reported in the September USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. Larger crops in 2014/15 also result in larger beginning stocks and total crop supplies in 2015/16. As a result, corn and soybean prices for next year’s crop are lower than projected in August. Corn prices average $3.80 per bushel in 2015/16, and soybean prices drop to $9.04 per bushel. Prices recover as markets adjust. Corn prices average $4.10 per bushel, soybeans average $10.21 per bushel, and wheat averages $5.78 per bushel. Upland cotton price projections for 2014/15 are largely unchanged from last month, as USDA estimates suggest offsetting reductions in domestic supplies and global demand. The weaker global demand is assumed to continue, slightly reducing price projections for 2015/16 and beyond relative to previous estimates.
AgFeed Industries agreed to pay $18 million to settle an accounting fraud case that resulted civil charges against the company earlier this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission reported. AgFeed Industries is a Tennessee-based international agribusiness with operations in the United States and China. The SEC filed civil charges against several top executives at AgFeed for their involvement in a massive accounting fraud. The SEC alleged that four executives based in China orchestrated the fraud in which they reported fake revenues from their China operations and inflated hog weights to inflate sales. The agency also charged an executive and a company director in the US with trying to delay reporting the fraud once they learned about it. The SEC's case continues against five former company executives and a former audit committee chair. The funds will be distributed to victims of the company's fraud, the agency said. The settlement is subject to court approval by the bankruptcy court as well as the district court in Tennessee where the case was filed.
The Tampa Tribune
Cargill is seeking damages from Syngenta for commercializing its Agrisure Viptera (MIR 162) corn seed before the product obtained import approval from China. Cargill's grain export facilities in Reserve and Westwego, La., loaded the vessels that were destined for and rejected by China. The Agrisure Viptera trait was approved for cultivation in the U.S. in 2010. Syngenta said it commercialized the Viptera trait, which genetically controls a broad spectrum of lepidopteran pests, in full compliance with regulatory and legal requirements. Syngenta has also maintained it obtained import approval from major corn importing countries -- which at the time of commercialization did not include China. Cargill stated that since mid-November 2013, China has rejected imports of U.S. corn due to the presence of Syngenta's MIR 162 trait because of its lack of approval for import, virtually halting U.S. corn trade with China. A study by the National Grain and Feed Association estimated that U.S. exporters and farmers lost up to $2.9 billion because of the uncertain trade environment.
Trans Coastal Supply Co, a major exporter of livestock feed products, said in court documents it expects to lose more than $41 million because Syngenta sold Agrisure Viptera corn seed to U.S. farmers without first obtaining import approval from Beijing.
CHS Inc., the giant U.S. energy, input and food cooperative, surprised the fertilizer trade last week with its decision to plunge into nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing. The price tag on its new plant near Spiritwood, N.D., had ballooned from an initial $1.2 billion to $3 billion just since 2012, making the commitment the single largest investment by CHS and the single largest private investment in North Dakota.
Cargill has no plan to shutter or relocate an Arkansas hog farm, despite concerns from environmentalists who say the operation poses a pollution threat to the nearby Buffalo River. The company is committed to installing newer technology at its Mount Judea facility in northern Arkansas — including using synthetics to line the holding pond and settling basin and installing a flare system to burn off gasses — and has already self-imposed a moratorium on expansion of hog production in the watershed area. The farm is on a tributary less than 10 miles from the river and has some 2,500 sows and 4,000 piglets, all of which are owned by Cargill. The three families who own the hog farm contract with Cargill, which owns the animals. Mike Martin, a Cargill spokesman, said the hog operation has told the company it wants to stay in the area and that that farmers there have done nothing wrong. “There’s a frustration because there are other things directly impacting the quality of the river: livestock operations and cattle ranches are all over the place, including near the park boundaries, there’s cattle standing in the river,” Martin said Monday. “There are other things that are impacting water quality, and those aren’t being addressed.” Perhaps illustrating the recent tension between the company and its critics, Mike Luker, president of Cargill Pork, confessed in a letter last month to the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance that “a solution which satisfies all is probably unrealistic.”
The global seed industry as it is today began to take shape in the 1990s. During the latter part of that decade, the acquisition of smaller seed companies by larger ones began to pick up speed with the "Big Six" (Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and BASF) emerging at the top of the heap. Since 2008, the top eight seed companies have acquired more than 70 of their competitors. A big consequence of continued consolidation is that seed diversity will continue to decrease. This means diminished overall seed variety as well as reduced availability of non-patented seed varieties. As industry giants continue to patent seed varieties and genetic traits, farmers have little choice but to purchase new seed each year. Over the past few decades, farmers have also had to cope with a relentless increase in seed prices. As heavy consolidation continues within the industry, these increases have become more pronounced. Ultimately, continued consolidation means less control for farmers and a decrease in the vitality of rural communities.
While some might only know Mitchell as a tourist trap on the way to Mt. Rushmore, or as the boyhood home of former Senator and unsuccessful presidential candidate George McGovern, this city has quietly reinvented itself as an economic center for technology, marketing and manufacturing. The nation’s leading supplier of rural telecommunication services developed itself right here, and billboards for miles around tout new high-paying jobs in Mitchell. Ultra-high speed Internet to every home and business for a fraction of what it costs us for satellite Internet back in our rural northern Minnesota home. This little town in the corn had suddenly become a poster child for what many rural places across the country want to be. Investments in existing companies and tech infrastructure allowed hometown entrepreneurs to build an international communication software company in Mitchell. That brought more than 500 high-paid software developers and communication professionals to town. From there, the Mitchell Technology Institute formed to advocate for public investment in infrastructure and attracting private enterprise to develop and expand companies. As the Information Age was settling in, changing communities of all stripes, a vibrant tech services industry sprouted in Mitchell, aided by a fiber-to-the-door network faster and more robust that what’s available to most of the nation
The owners of a New Hampshire-based company are moving ahead with plans for a small poultry processing plant in Concord, N.H., despite concerns aired by residents over potential odor and traffic issues. It’s not the first time that Craig Fournier and Omar Khudari, who are seeking approval to build a 5,524-square-foot food processing facility, have faced community opposition to such a plan. The proposal comes less than a year after plans by New Hampshire-based Fournier Free Range Foods fell apart for a 7,600-square-foot poultry slaughterhouse in Massachusetts. Among those sticking points were noise, lighting and hours of operation.
It's unclear if Illinois officials will release complete information about companies seeking to grow or sell medical marijuana in Illinois because the state law that legalized medical marijuana exempts prospective companies' applications from open records laws. The application period will close Sept. 22. Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for Illinois' medical marijuana pilot project, said the state won't release any information about the number of applicants until after the deadline.
The new Meat Processor Assistance Network provides tools for new businesses, a “Find a Meat Processor” feature and information on mobile slaughter units.
A package of bills aimed at stemming heroin and opioid painkiller addiction in New Jersey by lawmakers, is the first coordinated legislative response to a crisis that has overwhelmed the health care system, confounded law enforcement and caused hundreds of deaths. The 21 bills, which have bipartisan support and several of which have already been introduced in the state Senate or Assembly, focus on education, prevention and access to treatment. But despite broad enthusiasm for the legislators’ move, parts of the package are already drawing concern and raising controversy: Medical groups have bristled at efforts to constrain prescribing practices, and addiction experts are wary of the bills’ emphasis on outpatient care and the possible lack of funding or training for new mandated services in colleges, prisons and ambulatory-care centers.
Deep into the third year of a historic drought, Californians are finally starting to take water conservation seriously. Statewide, urban residents cut water use 7.5 % in July, compared with July of last year, according to new figures released Tuesday afternoon. Those savings show progress from June, when overall water use was down 4.4 % from the previous year, and from May -- when it was up 1 %. "People are stepping up," said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. "It's not enough yet, but we are heading in the right direction." The board's survey of 362 cities, private water companies and water districts -- the most extensive so far during California's drought -- continues to show Northern Californians are cutting water use more than Southern Californians.
Despite the applicant citing its history of meatpacking operations at the site and how its small size created a hardship as it couldn't meet setback requirements, the Lyon County Board of Commissioners denied requests to allow for a kosher meat packing operation.
Will animal rights activists keep a bobcat farmer from setting up shop in Montana? Five years ago, Larry Schultz’s bobcats started killing their kittens. Schultz is one of just two large-scale bobcat farmers in North America. For 32 years, he and his wife, Carol, have raised the animals for fur in Arengard, North Dakota. The last thing Schultz ever expected was international infamy. Yet infamy is what’s been thrust upon him, brought on by the confluence of an oil boom, an environmental review and a coalition of animal rights activists. Arnegard sits at the heart of the Bakken region, when production in the Bakken spiked, so did truck traffic past the Schultz Fur Farm. The stressed-out bobcats responded by killing their offspring. (Although Schultz started his farm with wild-caught stock, today all his cats are born in captivity.) Forty % of his kittens were slain by their mothers. Schultz decided it was time to move to central Montana. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks completed a pro forma environmental assessment and recommended that Schultz receive a license to operate his relocated farm. The state then opened the assessment to a public comment period — and the fur hit the fan. The comment period quickly turned into a referendum not on the environmental impacts of Larry Schultz’s bobcat farm, but on the ethics of farming animals for fur at all. Several countries, including the United Kingdom, have responded to pressure from animal rights campaigners by passing complete or partial bans on fur farming. The U.S., however, has no such law — to the outrage of many activists. This spring, ski mask-wearing vandals destroyed breeding records at a bobcat farm in Ronan, Montana, though their attempts to free the cats were deterred. “Our motives were borne of a fierce love for wildlife,” the activists wrote in an email. (Whether bobcats that have been raised in captivity for generations qualify as wildlife is a question the email did not address.)
High Country News
Montana law prohibits harassment of hunters, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in prison. But tracking hunters and their activities is not illegal as long as nothing is done to disrupt the hunt, said a warden captain with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
West Virginia natural resources police say they have made 11 arrests and seized 190 pounds of dry ginseng that was illegally harvested. The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources estimates the market value of the native herb at $180,000. West Virginia has a ginseng digging season. It begins Sept. 1 and runs through Nov. 30. The department says the seized ginseng was harvested before the digging season began.
Greater distance and less access to technology can make it harder for rural residents to enroll in health-insurance programs. But the biggest barriers may be state decisions about whether to expand Medicaid and operate their own health insurance exchanges. Minnesota and Virginia offer a study in contrasts in rural enrollment methods.
State representatives for the Humane Society of the United States contend the organization is fully transparent about how it helps to protect animals and posts some financial information on its website for public inspection. Although the posted information does not give a breakdown of specific expenses or contributions, its 2013 annual report shows HSUS spent 81 % or $134,934,326 of its budget on animal protection programs. The organization also says 77 % or $131,195,584 of their revenue comes from contributions and grants. Leighann Lassiter, the Tennessee director for HSUS, said the organization’s primary purpose is to operate programs to stop puppy mills, animal fighting rings, horse soring, the wildlife trade and large-scale cruelties.
Columbia Daily Herald
Note: According to HSUS own non-profit IRS 990 the major expense is Advocacy and Public Policy
Instead of litigation and animosity, an Idaho organization uses collaboration to restore the region’s forests. In the process, they helped turn back a fire that ravaged nearly 340,000 other acres. The coordinator of the stewardship project explains how diverse stakeholders work together for common good.
Illinois cut support for county fairs by 38 % as attendance fell by almost a third from 2000 to 2013.
In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act created a national Cooperative Extension System (Extension) that established partnerships between USDA, State land grant universities and other institutions, and local partners (city or county governments), with the goal of promoting U.S. agricultural productivity growth and improving rural life. Extension's role has varied through time and across regions.
Looking for a job in Idaho? The process may now be more streamlined, especially for individuals looking for a job to fit their specific skill-set. The Idaho Department of Labor launched Choose Idaho, an initiative to help employee retentions and recruiting in light of a growing job gap in the state. Jobs seekers can upload their resume to the ChooseIdaho.gov website, and DOL recruiters will work to match those resumes to employer openings. "We have a high demand for a workforce and thousands of job seekers," said Gloria Totoricagüena, project manager. "We want to encourage people to return (to the state)." Totoricagüena said the initiative is a way to find jobs for idahoans, former Idahoans and those looking to move to the Gem State. There will be an estimated 109,000 job openings in the coming decade in the state.
Idaho State Journal
The development of safer pesticides and legal restrictions on their use have sharply reduced the risk to humans from pesticide-tainted rivers and streams, while the potential risk to aquatic life in urban waters has risen, according to a two-decade survey. The study, conducted by the United States Geological Survey monitored scores of pesticides from 1992 to 2011 at more than 200 sampling points on rivers and streams. In both of the last two decades, researchers reported, they found insecticides and herbicides in virtually all of the waterways. The results nevertheless documented a striking decline in dangers to humans from pesticide pollution. From 1992 to 2001, 17 % of agricultural streams and 5 % of other streams contained at least one pesticide whose average annual concentration was above the maximum contaminant level for drinking water. But in the second decade, from 2002 to 2011, the survey found dangerous pesticide concentrations in only one stream nationwide.
A novelist remembers her rustic childhood home in Upstate New York
Wall Street Journal
Curran and Birge decided to start a produce market by making runs to Boston to get fresh fruits and vegetables. With total capital of $600, they bought – what else – a used VW bus, painted the slogan “Give Peas A Chance” on it, and in 1978 started taking turns schlepping to Boston’s big wholesale market. To help fill the van, they got five chefs at local restaurants to agree to take some produce as well. They had no intention then of entering the wholesale fresh- food business and running the huge company they now co-own, Black River Produce, let alone evolving into an essential cog in sustaining and fostering Vermont’s localvore, artisanal, farm-fresh cachet. That rickety bus has morphed into 50 refrigerated trucks distributing Vermont produce, cheeses, yogurt and meats, as well as vegetables and fruits, flowers and seafood that the company hauls from regional out-of-state markets. The partners often call their company “the FedEx of fresh food.”
Three states are ending a program that qualified residents for extra food paid for by the federal government -- including two, New Jersey and Wisconsin that are led by potential Republican presidential candidates. The farm bill raised the costs of so-called heat-and-eat programs. Such initiatives had allowed states to give residents as little as $1 a year in home-heating assistance to qualify for an average of $1,080 a year in added food stamps. The new minimum state contribution is $20 per household a year, and Chris Christie’s New Jersey, Scott Walker’s Wisconsin as well as Michigan are taking a pass.
State health regulators are moving forward with plans that could make it tougher to produce and buy unpasteurized milk in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health says rules are needed to prevent people who drink unpasteurized milk from getting sick. "Our goal is to reduce the risk of illness from unpasteurized milk - not create a burden on dairy farmers. We want to set sanitary requirements and quality standards for raw milk producers in order to ensure the product is as safe as it can be," said Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold. The proposed rules are now under review by a special legislative panel that will decide in the coming months whether to endorse the changes or send them back to the agency for further review
Major U.S. poultry firms are administering antibiotics to their flocks far more pervasively than regulators realize, posing a potential risk to human health.Internal records examined by Reuters reveal that some of the nation’s largest poultry producers routinely feed chickens an array of antibiotics – not just when sickness strikes, but as a standard practice over most of the birds’ lives. In every instance of antibiotic use identified by Reuters, the doses were at the low levels that scientists say are especially conducive to the growth of so-called superbugs, bacteria that gain resistance to conventional medicines used to treat people. Some of the antibiotics belong to categories considered medically important to humans.
The National Chicken Council used Reuters article as an opportunity to reiterate the fact that the majority of antibiotics approved for use in raising chickens are not used in human medicine, and those that are will be phased out for growth promotion purposes by December, 2016. “We understand the concern about the use of antibiotics in farm animals and recognize our responsibility to ensure they are properly used for the right reasons to protect the health of animals, humans and the food supply,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., “All antibiotics used to prevent and treat disease in chickens are approved by the FDA. The majority of these antibiotics are never used in human medicine and therefore represent no threat of creating resistance in humans,” Peterson said. Only about 10 % of the feed tickets reviewed by Reuters list antibiotics belonging to medically important drug classes – the exact ones that both the industry and FDA are currently phasing out for growth promotion purposes.
National Chicken Council
Southeast Farm Press
An Austin area school district has launched a “Meatless Monday” pilot program, and the Texas Agriculture Commissioner isn’t happy about it. The program at the Drippings Springs School District offers meat-free lunch options on Mondays to students in its three elementary schools. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is raising objections to the program. Staples said in an opinion piece published in the Austin American-Statesman that “meatless Mondays” are part of an “activist movement” advocating a vegetarian diet for Americans.
Cute labels saying products haven't been genetically modified are designed to profit off of fear, not protect you with science. The same things keep happening again and again. Take this recent experience of déjà vu: Back in the day, creationists went through creationists went through a phase of putting labels on textbooks. The labels were often accurate, technically speaking. They explained that evolution was a theory, and that it was controversial—both true things. In court, labelers could argue that they were just trying to give students choices, while encouraging critical thinking. Their opponents suggested that the labels, even if they were accurate, were fundamentally deceptive. Anyway, as for the déjà vu: A few months back, I was spending an afternoon in the aisles of a Whole Foods Market when I started to notice innocuous little labels: “Non-GMO Project Verified. I should note here that ge foods present a much subtler, more thornier issue than increasingly quaint Genesis vs Darwin spat. If someone tells you the gmos are 100% safe and great, than that person is lying to you. Still those labels arent all that different than textbook labels. They are blandly worded, adept at manufacturing the appearance of danger and supported by institutions with a vested intered in creating a cultural conflict.
The Daily Beast
Cash cheese prices strengthened in the shortened Labor Day holiday week, a sixth week of gain, while cash butter set a record high. The 40-pound block Cheddar closed Friday at $2.35 per pound, up 2 cents on the week and 54 cents above a year ago. It was unchanged Monday and Tuesday. The 500-pound Cheddar barrels moved higher last Tuesday, plunged 6 1/4-cents on Wednesday, inched up a half-cent on Thursday and ticked up another 2 cents on Friday to close at $2.3250 per pound, down 2 cents on the week but 52 1/2-cents above a year ago.
It's no secret that Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania has created significant discussion about the potential implications for the commonwealth's communities and natural environment. In 2012, a team of researchers from Penn State University began to chronicle community changes in four counties to learn more about the social and economic impacts of Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania. The study, sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, is documenting strategies used by institutions, organizations, and communities to manage economic and social impacts of gas development. The first phase of the study examined county-level indicators including population, housing, local economies, crime, health and healthcare access, K-12 education, agriculture and local government. It also examined the experiences of youth and low-income residents in communities with shale-based development. The results from this phase of the study are available in nine topical reports. Population Change and Marcellus Shale Development, The Impact of Marcellus Shale Development on Health and Health Care, Impacts on Pennsylvania Schools and Education, Youth Perspectives on Marcellus Shale Gas Development, Housing and Marcellus Shale Development, Effects of Marcellus Shale Development on the Criminal Justice System, Local Government and Marcellus Shale Development, Local Economic Impacts Related to Marcellus Shale Development, and Establishing a Baseline for Measuring Agricultural Changes Related to Marcellus Shale Development.
When voters in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, D.C., Florida and Guam head to the polls in November to decide whether to legalize marijuana, either for medical or recreational use, some may wonder how much new tax revenue legalization might bring in. The answer, according to early returns in Colorado and Washington: nobody knows. Washington imposes taxes of 25 % at the producer, processor and retail levels. Because state officials were unsure how much revenue the new market would bring in, the state is not counting it as revenue to fund its current two-year budget. In Colorado, sales of retail marijuana have reaped about $18.9 million in state taxes (with a percentage to go to local governments) from January through June 30.
Nowhere in the United States are Americans more overweight than in Mississippi and West Virginia, where more than 35% of the adult population is now obese. The two Southern states, however, are hardly alone in their alarmingly high obesity rates — another 18 U.S. states, including just about all of the U.S. South, have obesity rates at or above 30%.
For the Daninger family, the daily routine on their 60-cow MN farm changed significantly in the past 10 years. Today, they also bottle milk Monday and Tuesday, and make deliveries Tuesday through Friday. After touring several on-farm processing facilities in 2005, a leap of faith, and some construction, Pat and Shar Daninger opened their own on-farm milk processing plant in February 2008. Today, their on-farm store is open 6 days a week. They hired a 30-year veteran of the home delivery business to work a truck route, distributing to coffee shops and grocery locations throughout nearby Minneapolis and St. Paul. It wasn’t an easy road, and Pat admits they made many mistakes early on. Our calves were well fed,” Pat joked, as milk was returned due to overproduction and early processing mistakes. But today, demand for their milk is growing. “We haven’t looked for a new customer in over two years,” he explained.
Critics are incensed by General Mills’ announcement that it will acquire Annie’s Inc.
General Mills Inc. has agreed to acquire Annie’s Inc., one of the largest producers of natural and organic branded food, in a deal worth $820 million.
Romantic environmentalists tend to get the big-picture problems right, while fudging the details. Rationalists nail the details, but sometimes become so immersed in the minutiae that they lose sight of the big picture. She describes two great trends sweeping the world. “One: a trend of diversity, democracy, freedom, joy, culture — people celebrating their lives.” She paused to let silence ﬁll the square. “And the other: monocultures, deadness. Everyone depressed. Everyone on Prozac. More and more young people unemployed. We don’t want that world of death.” The problem is that, when Shiva gets to the details she frequently gets her facts very wrong. Then she repeats these myths, over and over again. Shiva said last year that Bt- cotton-seed costs had risen by eight thousand per cent in India since 2002. In fact, the prices of modiﬁed seeds, which are regulated by the government, have fallen steadily. Shiva has accused the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of “attempting to impose ‘food totalitarianism’ on the world.” That’s certainly not the case in the foundation’s current incarnation — I looked closely at this issue here. Shiva also says that Monsanto’s patents prevent poor people from saving seeds. That is not the case in India. The Farmers’ Rights Act of 2001 guarantees every person the right to “save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share, or sell’’ his seeds. And then, of course, there’s Shiva’s most widespread claim: That farmers are killing themselves because GMO seeds mire them in debt. If this were the case, we’d expect to see an increase in the number of suicides as GMOs were introduced and became widespread. But the suicide rate among farmers in India remained level. She has invested all her rhetorical capital on demonizing genetic engineering. I still think that Shiva’s big-picture critique is valid, and her work for social justice is valuable. I just wish that she’d accept reasonable evidence to figure out the causes of the problems she’s identified, rather that explaining away evidence by saying that Monsanto now “control[s] the entire scientific literature of the world.”
Chef Dan Barber says the farm-to-table movement that he helped build has failed to support sustainable agriculture on a large scale. To do that, he says we need a new way of looking at diverse crops and the foods we eat. If the farm-to-table movement is to truly support sustainability, end the rise of monocultures, and produce delicious food, it’s the table that must support the farm, not the other way around. And that, he says, calls for a new way of cooking and eating.
Animal rights groups want to stop an experiment that involves killing barred owls to help federally protected spotted owls.
The words we use for everyday foods contain clues to their origins and hint at their ancient travels across the globe as they merge, fuse and sometimes take on different forms altogether.
State Police arrested a man in Roane County after they said they found improvised explosives, AK-47 style rifles and about 30 live chickens in his wrecked SUV at 3:30 a.m. The man, Seth Grim, 21, allegedly told police that he was a “sovereign citizen,” a group that rejects taxes and local, state and federal laws. Courthouse and law enforcement officials, both in West Virginia and around the country, have been warned about members of the sovereign citizen movement. American law enforcement officials view sovereign citizens as the number one potential terrorist threat in the United States.
Applied Food Sciences, a Texas-based ingredient supplier, has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission over what the FTC said was a flawed study used to support the weight loss claims of its Green Coffee Antioxidant ingredient.
Saying they never know when a hostage-taker or shooter could strike, more than 20 school districts across the county have been acquiring surplus military equipment from the Pentagon, including armored personnel carriers, high-powered rifles and other weaponry. Los Angeles Unified School District for example received 61 M16 assault rifles, three grenade launchers and one MRAP,
We Americans, along with the Japanese, Australians and Scandinavians, tend to be squeamish about our chicken eggs, so we bathe them and then have to refrigerate them. But we're oddballs. Most other countries don't mind letting unwashed eggs sit next to bread or onions. The difference boils down to two key things: how to go after bacteria that could contaminate them, and how much energy we're willing to use in the name of safe eggs.
A Morrilton farmer who runs Petit Jean Farm was sentenced Friday to three years’ probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for admittedly selling mislabeled meat in 2010 and 2011. Ed Martsolf, also must pay restitution of $3,257.07, to be divided among about 50 people who were considered “end users” of the meat that was falsely labeled as coming from “grass-fed” animals but was actually obtained commercially and fraudulently relabeled.
Based on extensive outreach and public comment, the FDAreleased proposed revisions to four proposed rules designed to help prevent food-borne illness. When finalized, the proposed rules will implement portions of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which aims to strengthen food safety by shifting the focus to preventing food safety problems rather than responding to problems after the fact.
The EPA is delaying plans to update decades-old emissions standards for grain elevators that farmers use to scoop up grain and drop it inside a silo. The EPA proposed new air quality standards for grain elevators in July, which have not been updated since 1984, but said it is extending the comment period through Nov. 6. The new rules would expand the performance standards to include any grain elevator that can hold 1 million bushels or more of grain. Previously, grain elevators that held fewer than 2.5 million bushels were exempt from the rules. "A 'grain storage elevator' means any grain elevator located at any wheat flour mill, wet corn mill, dry corn mill, rice mill or soybean oil extraction plant with permanent storage capacity of at least 1 million bushels." The delay comes after industry groups have complained about the new rules.
During a period when the reputation of the U.S. Congress has been battered by the media and the public, the Senate has a remarkable opportunity to pass historic legislation that would directly assist agriculture producers, private land conservation, sportsmen, local economies, outdoor recreation and more. In a strong showing of bipartisan support last month, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Conservation Easement Incentive Act (HR 2807) as part of a charitable giving legislative package named the America Gives More Act. The vote was 277-130, a demonstration of vibrant bipartisan support. The conservation tax incentives within the America Gives More Act were conceived to create a tax structure that offered federal income tax incentives for traditional “land rich, cash poor” farm and ranch families to maintain open land for agricultural productivity, wildlife habitat and potential recreational opportunity. These tax incentives, which also reduce the exposure of agricultural properties to federal estate taxes, have been in place since 2006, reauthorized for two years at a time. These valuable and beneficial tax incentives need to be permanent.
The EPA has extended by 45 days the comment period for its proposal to limit power plant emissions. The comment period for the proposed rule was set to close Oct. 16, but lawmakers had pressed the EPA for more time. The rule, initially proposed in June, aims to slash electricity emissions 30 % below 2005 levels by 2030.
“Broadcast television is a key tool for rural Americans to obtain local news, weather and market data and emergency broadcast alerts,” said South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke. “Discriminating against some customers just because they live in smaller markets is wrong.” Farmers union is asking for support of the Senate Judiciary Committee version of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, which allows satellite providers to provide broadcast stations from outside the local market in limited circumstances, should be reauthorized before expiring at the end of the year. But some pay-TV providers are lobbying to add language that would make it easier to raise consumer prices and make local broadcast channels more difficult to access. If these changes were to become law, many rural television markets would suffer from reduced revenue, ultimately leaving fewer options for rural customers.
Representatives from grain producers and chemical and automobile manufacturers testified before a Senate panel that poor rail service has cost them business because they can’t get enough rail cars to move their products and then can’t get the trains to move fast enough. They also can’t just put it in trucks, which are more expensive for moving large quantities of goods. “Rail is an essential component of my industry’s supply chain,” testified Shane Karr, vice president of federal government affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Auto manufacturers are encountering the same persistent rail service issues you’re hearing about.” The rail industry’s leading advocacy group admitted that the industry’s performance was less than adequate and that railroads are spending billions of dollars to lay new track, hire new employees and buy new locomotives to meet the increasing demands. “We did not see the surge in traffic coming,” said Ed Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads. “Many of our customers did not, either.”
Lawmakers Cite Economic Losses by Farmers in Considering New Legislation. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, N.D., recounted a conversation she had with six farmers recently about rail freight service. Because of the disruptions, their cash corn price declined to $2.20 per bushel while their break-even price is around $4, a common occurrence across the Northern Plains these days. The farmers estimated the extra transportation costs shaved about half a million dollars from their bottom line. "This is about the very real economic consequences of what's happening in farm country," Heitkamp said. "What I am most concerned about is that we will be back here next year having the same discussion, but we'll have three years of disruptions. This isn't make-believe. This is real."
A majority of parents said they support government school nutrition standards in place
Des Moines Register
The Republican-controlled House on approved a bill to block the Obama administration from implementing a rule that asserts regulatory authority over many of the nation's streams and wetlands — an action that critics call a classic Washington overreach. The bill would block the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from developing or finalizing the proposed rule. The House approved the bill, 262-152. Thirty-five Democrats joined 227 Republicans to support the bill.
"Attorneys general from seven states and the District of Columbia expressed support for a contentious Obama administration Clean Water Act proposal. In comments filed on the regulatory proposal from U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, the attorneys general said the proposal is grounded in solid science, sets a strong floor for protecting rivers and streams, and provides much-needed legal clarity. "Every New Yorker has an equal right to clean water, which is fundamental to the health, environment, and economy of our states," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said in a statement. "The degradation of waters in upstream states can increase flooding, add pollution, damage hunting and fishing habitat, and foul the drinking water supplies of their downstream neighbors. We applaud EPA and the Corps for recognizing that the interconnectedness of our waters requires their comprehensive coverage under the Clean Water Act." Other attorneys general signing on represent Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington and the District of Columbia.
‘I tried intimidation, tried letting the groups work it out on their own.’” Vilsack likened the organizations involved in the Checkoff Enhancement Working Group to bickering children who need an adult to step in with a solution.
More than four years ago, environmental groups asked a federal court to order the EPA to decide whether to ban a widely used pesticide that scientists have linked to illnesses in children. They settled the case in November 2011 after the EPA said it would make a decision within a year. When that didn’t happen, they sued again. More promises, the groups said, but no performance. The same organizations filed a third lawsuit, asking for a firm court-ordered deadline. “That would be a decision by the end of December on whether to outlaw all uses of a chemical called chlorpyrifos. Studies have linked it to asthma and other physical and mental health problems in children, including delayed mental and motor skill development. The EPA cited those potential dangers in 2000 when it prohibited all household uses of the chemical, which was contained in the pesticide Dursban and other products. The ban also applied to schools, day-care centers, hospitals and nursing homes. But chlorpyrifos is still used as an insecticide on corn, grapes, oranges, almonds and other crops, on golf courses and for pest control in urban areas. The California Farm Bureau Federation has opposed a ban and said the EPA’s own studies have shown the pesticide can be applied safely, though its use has declined in recent years. The new suit, filed in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, asks for a binding deadline on an EPA decision by the end of this year. In practical terms, Goldman said, a decision to prohibit all uses of chlorpyrifos wouldn’t take effect until next summer
You’ve probably heard about Cliven Bundy. There’s a case making its way through the courts now that could make the Bundy standoff look like child’s play. The case involves another Nevada rancher, Wayne Hage, who grazes cows on public land without permits – just as his father (also Wayne Hage) did before his death in 2006. In 2007, federal land managers charged Hage Jr. with trespass. But last year, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones sided with Hage, finding that the government had trampled the rancher’s rights — particularly his right to utilize water sources on federal land. Jones ruled that as long as Hage’s cows were within half a mile of one of his valid water rights, the rancher couldn’t be charged with trespass — even if he lacked a grazing permit. The judge also ruled that Hage’s cows must be allowed to wander across public lands to access those water sources. Across the West, there are thousands of valid water rights used by ranchers. If the Jones ruling stands, vast stretches could suddenly become off-limits to oversight by federal land managers. “The agencies effectively won’t be able to regulate grazing.” If that happens, beef production could become the de facto highest and best use of hundreds of millions of acres that belong to you and me. By law, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service must regulate grazing in a fashion that ensures the health of the land. In fact, though, short-staffed agencies often are unable to adequately oversee such vast areas.
In 2003, the FDA announced plans to evaluate every new animal drug based on the drug's potential to create superbugs. But the FDA hasn't reviewed the vast majority of animal drugs now on the market, because most were approved before 2003. Reuters found that the agency has evaluated such risks for only about 10 % of the approximately 270 drugs containing types of antibiotics the FDA considers medically important for treating humans and are also used in chickens, pigs and cattle. Overall, the FDA has evaluated the superbug risks for only about 7 % of the approximately 390 drugs containing antibiotics that the agency has certified for veterinary use in chicken, pigs and cattle.
The first two days of hearings on the latest round of scientific review for biotech crops and genetically engineered foods reflected that the National Research Council is tackling a highly politicized debate about the future role of biotech crops in American agriculture. An ad-hoc committee of 18 scientists is tasked by the NRC with examining the science and ramifications of biotech crops. Speakers offered the committee a range of views from university professors and non-governmental experts who have battled over biotech crops for decades. The forum is the first of several meetings the committee is expected to hold before generating a report sometime in early 2016. NRC reports can carry significant weight in Washington as they usually offer direction for both Congress and regulatory agencies to examine holes or changes needed to address scientific concerns over a given topic. Dietram Scheufele, a University of Wisconsin science communications professor, told the committee that the report needs to go beyond the science of biotech crops. He noted the highly politicized nature of biotechnology stems from the complex science and lack of overall public understanding of it. Yet, a great many people have already framed their views and will validate their own opinions regardless of the report's outcome through the process of "motivated reasoning." However, the scientific committee would be wise not to ignore social concerns, Scheufele said. "To say it's not a scientific question so we are going to ignore it is really the best way to destroy it (the report)," he said.
Two Republican Senators introduced legislation to stop the EPA from garnishing peoples’ wages. The bill would stop the EPA from moving forward on a proposal to collect environmental fines and other debts directly from individuals’ wages without courts’ approval.
The 2014 farm bill gives Farm Service Agency farm owners a 1-time opportunity to elect their Title 1 crop program for the 2014 through 2018 crop years. Three program options exist: Agriculture Risk Coverage-individual (ARC-IC), Agriculture Risk Coverage-county (ARC-CO), and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) with the choice to buy the Supplemental Coverage (insurance) Option (SCO). This article examines the choice between ARC-CO and PLC. In contrast to ARC-CO and PLC, ARC-IC pays on 65% not 85% of program acres and is elected on a FSA farm basis, not a program crop basis. ARC-IC thus is an option to consider based on the ARC-IC farm situation, including when (1) production on the ARC-IC farm unit is highly variable or (2) if fruits and vegetables may be planted on the ARC-IC farm.
The USDA has made new financial assistance available to eligible Florida citrus growers for the removal of trees afflicted with Huanglongbing ( known as citrus greening) and for replanting groves with new healthy stock. The support comes through USDA's Tree Assistance Program. Because HLB damages and then kills citrus trees over time, USDA has expanded the Tree Assistance Program to allow Florida producers to remove and replace trees as they decline. Previously, to receive program assistance, all citrus tree deaths had to occur in one year. Now, farmers can receive support as trees decline/die over a period of up to six years.
Voluntary conservation payment programs are the cornerstone of U.S. agricultural conservation policy. Under the Agricultural Act of 2014, Congress provided an estimated $28 billion in mandatory 2014-18 funding for USDA conservation programs that encourage the adoption of conservation practices. Many States also have their own conservation programs. These programs can support a wide range of practices addressing environmental issues such as soil quality, water quality, air quality, and wildlife habitat loss and degradation.
Pieces include- Theme Overview: The 2014 Farm Bill - An Economic Welfare Disaster or Triumph? Welfare Effects of PLC, ARC, and SCO. Conservation, the Farm Bill, and U.S. Agri-Environmental Policy. The Negligible Welfare Effects of the International Food Aid Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill
Immigration policy gridlock stymies farm labor. The heated tempers of the nation’s border states are driving the debate over immigration policy. States such as South Carolina, though, are reckoning with a different set of challenges: a skimpy agriculture labor market and cumbersome immigrant worker programs that go unfixed amid partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill. Over 20,000 U.S. farms employ more than 435,000 immigrant workers legally every year, according to 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture census data. Thousands – probably tens of thousands – more are employed illegally. In the fruit orchards of the Carolinas, farmers confront a blue-collar labor vacuum.
Two environmental groups have notified the USDA that they intend to sue the department's predator-control program for what they say is a failure to protect the endangered ocelot cat in southeastern Arizona from unintentionally being trapped or harmed. In essence, the formal 60-day notice of intent to sue by WildEarth Guardians and the Animal Welfare Institute says USDA is in violation of the Endangered Species Act because it has yet to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service on ways to avoid affecting the endangered ocelot when trapping and killing animals deemed a threat to crops and livestock.
Western Environmental Law Center
Experts Agree the Corps Took Appropriate Action, Given the Circumstances, but Should Examine New Forecasting Techniques. Experts agreed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made appropriate release decisions during the 2011 flood and 2012 and 2013 drought affecting the Missouri River basin, given the severity of these events. These experts acknowledged that the flood was primarily due to extreme rain in eastern Montana in May and June 2011. The experts agreed that no existing forecasting tools could have accurately predicted these extreme rainstorms more than a week in advance. One of the experts also said that the Corps would have needed several months to release enough water from the reservoirs to have sufficient space for the runoff that occurred in 2011, and predicting an extreme runoff year that far in advance is beyond the current state of science. Moreover, the experts agreed that the Corps appropriately followed the drought conservation procedures in the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System Master Water Control Manual (Master Manual), which sets out policies for managing the river.
What do corporations get in return for their political contributions? Plenty. An agriculture policy professor argues that unlimited corporate money in politics hurts America’s working families. Tax inversions are on the rise because they allow the parent company to escape or reduce U.S. corporate income taxes. The tax inversion is just one example of the many economic policies and tax laws that favor corporations over individuals. These policies help corporations squeeze out more profits at the expense of the middle class, shift the tax burden to working families and hinder government’s ability to provide basic services to the nation. It’s a bad deal for both rural and urban communities.
Food & Water Watch filed suit in federal court to stop the implementation of the New Poultry Inspection System rules—which would turn over key food safety inspection functions to poultry companies with limited oversight by USDA inspectors. “These rules essentially privatize poultry inspection, and pave the way for others in the meat industry to police themselves,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. Food & Water Watch charges the new system violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act. The suit states that the NPIS rules also violate the PPIA’s requirement that federal inspectors supervise slaughter establishment reprocessing, which is done to avoid the condemnation of adulterated birds (essentially removing problematic chicken parts to allow the rest of the bird to pass inspection.)
Examples from ERS's updated collection of 70 charts/maps, each with accompanying text, covering key statistics on farming, food spending and prices, food security, rural communities, interaction of agriculture and the environment, and more.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is a joint venture between USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services. Every five years it meets to make official nutrition recommendations to the American public. Several publications claim that "green radicals" want to plan your food menu and have stacked the Committee with radical green activists who are pushing veganism. The DGAC meeting on January 13, 2014, featured a speaker from the University of Minnesota who claimed that Americans should become vegetarians in order to achieve sustainability in the face of climate change. The speaker from the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture declared: "What pattern of eating best contributes to food security and sustainability of land, [sic] air and water? The simple answer is a plant-based diet." A committee member, Dr. Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health, has stated, "Eating red meat is associated with a startling increased risk of death, from cancer and heart disease." Back in March of 2012, Dr. Hu told ABC World News, "We should switch from a red meat-based diet to a plant-based diet with healthier protein choices."
In the coming months, food stamp work requirements suspended during the Great Recession will be reinstated in at least 17 states. In those states, work requirements will be back in place for able-bodied adults who are 18 to 50 years old and have no children. It’s possible the requirements will return in more than 17 states, but the USDA doesn’t yet have a full count, even though states were supposed to report their plans by Labor Day. Hunger advocates worry that fulfilling the work requirements will be a challenge for recipients who live in areas where both work and job training opportunities remain slim. But others note that the suspension of the requirement was always intended to be temporary, and that the economy has improved sufficiently to end it. Typically, low-income, able-bodied adults without children can receive food stamps for only three months in a three-year period, unless they are working or participating in a training or “workfare” program for at least 20 hours a week.
The funding is being provided through USDA's Rural Business Enterprise Grant and Rural Business Opportunity Grant programs. Rural Business Enterprise Grants help small and emerging rural businesses. Rural Business Opportunity Grants promote sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs. The grants are being awarded in areas designated as Rural Economic Area Partnership zones. REAP zones are areas that are considered economically distressed due to factors such as poverty, geographic isolation, declining populations or economic upheaval (such as the closing of a major job provider). The 2014 Farm Bill extends all current REAP zones through 2018.
This article examines some efforts to renew the marriage of agricultural interests and urban politics – a once-strong alliance that drove agriculture policy for decades. The National Pork Producers Council has launched a strategy to lobby urban, minority and more liberal members of Congress to hopefully win over a constituency still angry over Republican-driven cuts to food stamps in the 2014 farm bill. The NPPC is increasing its educational outreach to those members without agriculture backgrounds, as well as those in the Congressional Black Caucus. Dave Warner, the spokesman for NPPC, said, “We are attempting to educate those lawmakers to agriculture, in general, and obviously, to our issues in particular. We’re building relationships so we can at least go and talk to these members. They may not vote with us, but they’re going to listen to what we say.” The NPPC is also planning to approach the Hispanic Caucus.
Obesity among active duty forces up 61 % in less than 10 years. Armed with a new report documenting the staggering impact of obesity on America’s military, more than 450 retired admirals and generals urged Congress to not backtrack on or delay updated nutrition standards for foods and beverages served and sold in schools. The healthier meals standards—put in place following the enactment of the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010—have been implemented successfully by more than 90 % of school districts nationwide. The report, “RETREAT IS NOT AN OPTION,” was released by Mission: Readiness, a nonpartisan national security organization calling for smart investments in America’s children. It includes new and previously unreported state-by-state data from the Department of Defense showing the number of young adults who are likely to be ineligible to join the military. More than 70 % are ineligible in many states.
Starting Jan. 1, airlines must file reports for lost or hurt animals that are being shipped commercially, such as by a breeder. This rule will provide consumers with a fuller picture of an airline’s safety record when it comes to transporting animals.
Chinese imports of U.S. soybeans could plunge by as much as a quarter in the crop year that began this month after processing margins in the country fell to their lowest in two years. The potential drop in shipments to the world's biggest buyer of the commodity comes as the US is gearing up to harvest a record soybean crop, piling more pressure on benchmark prices that hit their lowest in four years. Any hopes that demand for the products churned out by China's soybean processors would pick up in the next few months have been dashed by tepid growth in the world's No.2 economy.
China, the world’s top buyer of distiller’s dried grains (DDGs), has failed to settle a row with the U.S. on how to eliminate genetically altered content from a product worth $1.3 billion in trade so far this year
Ireland's Main Dairy Cooperative Bets Americans Will Trade Up for More Expensive Imported Butter, Cheese
Wall Street Journal
One year ago this month, a Chinese company bought America’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods. The $4.7 billion deal is the biggest Chinese acquisition of a U.S. company to date. The takeover raised concerns the Chinese government was a hidden player in the deal. Some members of Congress wondered why Shuanghui group would pay more than Smithfield’s market value. Senator Debbie Stabeno says “This isn’t just an acquisition of a company. It’s 25 % of the pork industry in the United States.” Stabenow is worried that the Smithfield takeover could signal a long-term threat to the vital American food industry
Energy and Renewables
Efficiency efforts throughout New England are expected in the next decade to offset most of the increase in demand for electricity, officials with the region's electric grid said. More distributed generation in the form of solar installations also will cut away at the amount of power needed from the region's largely natural-gas-fired power plants. New England electricity use would be 129,000 megawatt hours in 2014, growing only slightly to 130,500 megawatt hours in 2023. The report's projections take a general stab at outlining how demand for electricity measures up to what's available through the region's power plants, a forecast that has increased in importance after a number of large, important power plants announced they would be closing down in the next few years.
With little fanfare, the Burlington Electric Department crossed the threshold this month with the purchase of the 7.4-megawatt Winooski 1 hydroelectric project on the Winooski River at the city’s edge. When it did, Burlington joined the Washington Electric Co-operative, which has about 11,000 customers across central and northern Vermont and which reached 100 % earlier this year. ‘‘It shows that we’re able to do it, and we’re able to do it cost effectively in a way that makes Vermonters really positioned well for the future,’’ said Christopher Recchia, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service.
The cost of solar panels is falling rapidly. And as the panels become more affordable, they're popping up on rooftops around the country. Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to find better ways to back up its power system against blackouts. And while it may seem counterintuitive, more solar power does not mean fewer blackouts — at least not yet. The tiny town of Del Norte, in southwestern Colorado, is a perfect example. Despite being covered in solar panels, Del Norte is still at risk of losing power if its main power line goes down. The answer to that conundrum is finding a way to let clusters of solar panels operate independent of the main power grid, rather than being connected to the grid in a way that it can't operate if the grid isn't up. That's frustrating for community planners, who have to stare out at rooftop after rooftop of useless solar panels during blackouts.
The restrictions, similar to rules in Wyoming, are meant to prevent disturbances and increase breeding success for the chicken-sized birds, known for an elaborate mating ritual in which males strut around and puff out their breasts in a colorful display.
Arizona businesses announced plans to hire more than 3,000 workers in clean-energy industries, letting the state claim the biggest growth in renewable-energy jobs in the nation for the second quarter of 2014. A report by Environmental Entrepreneurs said the bulk of the new Arizona jobs – and a large share of the total planned for the nation – could be attributed to the proposed Solar Wind Energy Tower project in San Luis. Developers of that project said they plan to add 2,350 workers at the $1.5 billion plant. That announcement allowed Arizona to knock California out of first place for the quarter.
The same kernel of corn that Iowa producers use to make ethanol also can be the source for the industry's next generation of renewable fuel. The northwest Iowa ethanol plant is using corn fiber to produce cellulosic ethanol, a more environmentally friendly fuel that industry leaders have worked years to develop. Using fiber from the same corn kernels it already uses to create conventional ethanol will enable Quad County Corn Processors to produce 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually. The plant already produces 35 million gallons of conventional corn ethanol. Quad County became the first Iowa plant to produce a gallon of commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol in June. It expects to market the cellulosic technology to existing ethanol plants across the country. Officials on Tuesday said Iowa is leading the nation in cellulosic ethanol development.
Des Moines Register
The American Petroleum Institute (API) picked 9/11 to launch the first strike. API announced a TV, radio, print and online advertising campaign to deliver its charge that the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has “raised prices on food and fuel.” The API ads urge consumers to “Tell President Obama to stop playing politics and fix the RFS.” Within hours of the API's announcement, the renewables fuel industry unleashed an answering salvo and launched its own ad campaign. Fuels America representing both corn and cellulosic ethanol producers will air ads supporting the existing ethanol industry and explaining the importance of developing advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol made from corn stalks and other crop residues. Both the API attack and the Fuels America response are driven by the fact that the Obama administration still hasn't announced the RFS requirements for 2014.
The US should commit to exporting oil and natural gas to Europe under a transatlantic trade deal in light of the European Union's geopolitical situation, the EU trade commissioner said. Tension between Russia and the West over the future of Ukraine is spurring the European Union to renew efforts to end decades of dependence on Russian gas. One solution would be greater access to abundant U.S. resources. Overturning a 40-year U.S. ban on oil exports by agreeing to send oil to Europe could pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin by lowering global crude prices.
The nascent U.S. cellulosic ethanol industry has urged the White House to change course on targets for biofuel use, warning in a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday that current policy risks losing investments to China and Brazil.
Germans will soon be getting 30 % of their power from renewable energy sources. Many smaller countries are beating that, but Germany is by far the largest industrial power to reach that level in the modern era.
Brazil will expand a tax credit to sugar and ethanol producers to spur demand for the biofuel, Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters in Brasilia today. Under the program, known as Reintegra, producers will receive a tax credit worth 0.3 % of their exports. And in California, regulators have given Brazilian sugar ethanol a better greenhouse gas rating than corn-based ethanol produced in the U.S., making Brazilian imports more desirable.
While biodiesel companies await government decisions on updates to the Renewable Fuel Standard and Blender’s Tax Credit, the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network checked in with three West Coast biodiesel companies for an insider’s look at the state of the industry. Of the 297 biofuels companies currently operating in the U.S., we chose three — Pacific Biodiesel, Bently Biofuels and SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel — because they share a feedstock of used cooking oil and a passion for protecting the environment. In addition, each one of them is standing strong in uncertain times, surviving conditions that have forced many other biodiesel companies out of business. This article will touch briefly on each company, the challenges that they face, their secrets to success, why it’s important that the biodiesel industry survive, and what we can do to help the biofuel industry succeed.
A study has pinpointed the likely source of most natural gas contamination in drinking-water wells associated with hydraulic fracturing, and it's not the source many people may have feared. What's more, the problem may be fixable: improved construction standards for cement well linings and casings at hydraulic fracturing sites. A team led by a researcher at The Ohio State University devised a new method of geochemical forensics to trace how methane migrates under the earth. The study identified eight clusters of contaminated drinking-water wells in Pennsylvania and Texas. Most important among their findings is that neither horizontal drilling nor hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits seems to have caused any of the natural gas contamination. “There is no question that in many instances elevated levels of natural gas are naturally occurring, but in a subset of cases, there is also clear evidence that there were human causes for the contamination," said study leader Thomas Darrah, assistant professor of earth sciences at Ohio State. "However our data suggests that where contamination occurs, it was caused by poor casing and cementing in the wells," Darrah said. The long vertical pipes that carry the resulting gas upward are encircled in cement to keep the natural gas from leaking out along the well. The study suggests that natural gas that has leaked into aquifers is the result of failures in the cement used in the well.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants, the largest source of carbon pollution in the US, by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. To better understand how the agricultural sector might be affected, its current direct use of electric power, as well as the sector’s direct and indirect use of natural gas—is examined.
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