AgClips :: a service of the regional offices of the council of state governments | state ag and rural leaders


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Today is World Food Day

The 2014 World Food Day theme -
Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth” -
has been chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers. It focuses world
attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing
food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the
environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.


The 2014 Borlaug Dialogue:The greatest challenge in human history

Can we sustainably feed the 9 billion people on our planet by the year 2050?
Special emphasis to the powers of intensification, innovation and inspiration to uplift
smallholder farmers and meet the increasing demand for nutritious food. See the webinar.

Legislative Ag Chairs Summit: Jan 2-4, 2015, Clearwater, FL

(Registration. linited and open now)

::  October 10 - October 17, 2014 ::

Agriculture News

Food and Rural  Communities

Federal and International

Local groups sue over Missouri ‘Right to Farm’ vote

Missouri's Amendment 1 passed in August, but the measure isn't out of the woods yet.  Three individuals are bringing a lawsuit before the state's Supreme Court seeking to send the controversial amendment back to the legislature and eventually to hold a re-vote on the issue. The individuals all play prominent roles in local groups that were opposed to the measure: Wes Shoemyer, Missouri's Food for America president, Richard Oswald, Missouri Farmers Union president, and Darvin Bentlage, Missouri Rural Crisis Center board member.


Proposition 1’s water bonds followed long legislative odyssey

Amid a multiyear dry stretch that is among the worst droughts on record, California lawmakers this year made crafting a new water bond a priority.  It required months of wrangling as legislators sought to win the needed votes by appeasing various demands: Gov. Jerry Brown wanted a smaller sum, something in the $6 billion range, while Republicans, Central Valley lawmakers and agricultural interests wanted more storage money. Environmentalists cast a skeptical eye on dams and warned about backdoor funding for Brown’s Delta tunnels.  In the end, the $7.5 billion measure (it allocates $7.1 billion and would reappropriate $425 million from existing bond money) won broad support. What it does- Authorizes bonds for:  $2.7 billion for water storage, which could mean both dams and groundwater replenishment, $810 million for regional water supply projects, $725 million for water recycling and $800 million to clean up contaminated groundwater,  $500 million to help communities purify wastewater or obtain more potable drinking water,  $395 million for flood protection, $1.5 billion for the environment, including $137.5 million for the Delta.

Ohio Farmers Face Big Property Tax Hike

Many Ohio farmers will see their property taxes take a big jump next year because of imperfections in a formula used to determine farm taxes. For some, those tax bills will double or go up even more.  "Sticker shock is a very good way to describe this," said state Sen. Bob Peterson, a Republican from southwest Ohio who farms about 2,000 acres in Fayette County.  Current Agricultural Use Value that is designed to make farming financially easier for operators.  It calculates with farmland values based on crop yield, soil conditions and market prices. But low interest rates and swings in grain prices are revealing imperfections in the formula and adding up to higher property taxes next year. The formula used by the program is based on a rolling, seven-year average of crop prices, soil values and other measures of farm productivity. The higher bills are based on past performance.

Ag Web

Nebraska offers tax breaks to beginning farmers

Nebraska offers tax breaks to beginning farmers, but anyone interested in receiving the incentives next year must apply before Nov. 1.  State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach says the program offers both a tax exemption for beginning farmers and tax credits for any established farmer or rancher who works with a beginning farmer or rancher.  Beginning farmers can get an exemption on up to $100,000 of equipment or property used in farming.

NY: County soil programs may help farm industry, waterways

If counties develop their own soil health management programs, will they be able make farms more productive while also making New York's waters cleaner?  Madison County’s Soil and Water Conservation District will soon be one of 13 in the state trying to find out, thanks to the Environmental Protection Fund.  Some counties’ districts outlined ideas such as carrying out regular soil health tests and creating equipment loan programs as ways to improve New York’s farms.  That, in turn, would allow farmers to see what works best for their farms — and allow them to use machines they may never have been able to otherwise.

Rose Acre Farms building egg complex in Texas

New complex in Red River County, Texas, will include 14 layer houses.

Watt Ag Net

Indiana: 4,000-hog facility approved despite protests

Danny DeVito to Chris Christie: Free the pigs!

First Martha Stewart lobbied legislators to override Gov. Chris Chrisite’s veto of a bill banning keeping pregnant pigs in crates.  That didn’t work. So now animal rights activists are bringing in another Jersey-bred celebrity: Danny DeVito.

Missouri seeking comments on nutrient reduction strategy

Currently there is ono federal mandate to develop state-level nutrient reduction strategies.  This allows Missouri to have more control in developing its own program. The primary goal of the Missouri Nutrient Reduction Strategy Committee is to develop a comprehensive, integrated state level nutrient reduction strategy that is science-based, effective, achievable and economically sustainable.

NRC Committee on GE Crops: Registration Open for October 22 Webinar

The National Research Council committee for the study, "Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects," will hold a webinar on Wednesday, October 22, from 2-4pm Eastern. The webinar will feature guest speakers:     Russel Higgins, Extension Educator, Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center, University of Illinois Extension  Jeff Lannom, Weakley County Extension Director, University of Tennessee Extension  Diana Roberts, Regional Extension Agronomist, Washington State University Extension  Dallas Peterson, Professor and Extension Weed Specialist, Kansas State University   Members of the public are welcome to register to listen to the webinar and view the presentations. The webinar will also be recorded and posted on the study’s website.

National Academy of Sciences

Evidence about safety of GMOs is being ignored

Letters on the anti-genetically modified organism initiative need response. The initiative states that you cannot grow a GMO crop unless you first do a study. If you do grow a GMO crop, including GMO papaya in your backyard, after the ban, the first fine is $10,000. Letter writers are intentionally ignoring all the available scientific evidence available on GMO safety. They continually ignore the safety data available by universities, federal agencies and independent scientific researchers on the safety of GMOs. With all this scientific data available to the world, why does Maui County need have a moratorium to study it again?  Should Maui County have a moratorium to study aspirin? All farmers, not only GMO growers, use pesticide combinations, i.e., insecticides and fungicides. These are EPA approved uses. In fact, the homeowner can buy pesticide combinations off the shelf in the garden supply store. What's the problem?  Problem is, you want to know what the farmer is spraying and I want to know what my neighbor is spraying.

More young people start farms

Two years ago, Kate McNellis was earning a six-figure salary as a New York City fashion designer.  Today, the she is fledgling vegetable farmer in New York, hoping to clear a few thousand dollars next year as she begins to build her business.  She's among a growing number of Americans in their 20s and 30s ditching careers and starting small, often-organic, farms and selling vegetables, beef or dairy products on their land, at farmers markets or at drop-off locations for consumers who buy annual subscriptions.  "There's a very full pipeline of people that are going into" farming, says Gary Matteson, vice president of the Farm Credit Council, which lends to farmers.  The number of Americans younger than 35 who are running farms as their main occupation increased 10% to about 55,000 between 2007 and 2012. Their share of all principal operators has been holding steady at about 5% the past couple of years, but their ranks are still well below the 70,000 reached in 2002.  The longstanding decline in the number of young farmers worries government officials because the average age of principal farm operators is 58, and about 40% are 65 and older.


100 billion and counting…feed from biotech crops is safe

The debate continues to swirl about the safety of livestock feed from genetically-modified crops, but a review of scientific literature on the performance and health of animals consuming genetically-modified feed shows no difference between feed containing GE ingredients and that which does not.  The review, which appears in the October issue of the Journal of Animal Science, looks at scientific data going back to 1983 before GE varieties were introduced in 1996 through 2011 when feed containing GE ingredients were prominent. In all, the study represents more than 100 billion animals. The authors note a small number of experimental animal feeding studies have generated controversial results “suggesting deleterious health effects of GE crops.” These studies have been criticized by international scientific organizations for flawed methodology. Despite the flaws and a large amount of data and literature proving otherwise, these studies have been the basis for new regulations in some countries and have also fueled the fire for mainstream media.  “The media attention developed to these sensational studies is exacerbating the continued controversy associated with the safety of GE food and feed and is bolstering arguments calling for the mandatory labeling of milk, meat, and eggs from GE-fed animals,” the review states.


Sustainable poultry

The “sustainable” movement doesn’t always make sense to me.  Around here, it seems to mean virtually anything grown on a small scale.  The underlying message is that big is bad, and, therefore, not sustainable.  In my opinion “a system that balances local and global efforts to meet basic human needs without destroying or degrading the natural environment” is a workable definition.  So to balance the system, we need to look at the broader issues.  Another way to define sustainable is this: protecting the natural environment includes producing food using less land space, recycling wherever possible and minimizing the consumption of natural resources


Michigan Aquaculture Attracts Powerful Opposition

When Dan Vogler, Michigan’s largest commercial fish farmer, purchased the Grayling Fish Hatchery two years ago, the 45-year-old producer was widely viewed as a civic hero. The 98-year-old hatchery, built to replenish the region’s grayling and rainbow trout fishery, closed in the 1960s, reopened in 1983, and then changed ownership and management three times in 30 years.  Vogler’s plan was to end decades of institutional uncertainty by expanding production of farmed trout for state markets while also ensuring that the stream of summer tourists to the historic hatchery could continue to feed and catch trout. Two years later Vogler’s plan for the Grayling hatchery confront 21st century legal and cultural obstacles.  The Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Anglers of the Au Sable filed a formal petition asking an administrative law judge to overturn the permit.  Vogler and his colleagues in Michigan’s tiny aquaculture industry are frustrated by the opposition because the state is so well set up to raise fish.

Circle of Blue

River Transportation May Be Next Bottleneck for Grain Shipments

When it comes time to ship the huge corn and soybean crops to Gulf export points, the barge system may be unable to handle the volume as it is already operating at capacity.  For years, the grain industry has been urging the government to invest in repairing and upgrading the waterways system, particularly the locks and dams that control the movement of barges up and down the Mississippi River.

Farm Futures

Soggy weather stalls corn harvest yet again

Cattle Network

Warm temperatures cause delay of harvest for sugar beets


Organic industry confused by GMO vaccines

A lack of clarity about which livestock vaccines are made with genetically modified organisms is creating confusion in the organic industry.    The conundrum of keeping genetically engineered vaccines out of organic production will be considered during the Oct. 28-30 meeting of the National Organic Standards Board. Vaccines produced with genetic engineering are officially banned from organic livestock production but in reality most certifiers don’t require farmers to document they’re using non-GE vaccines.

Capital Press

NC:Stretching CAFO regulations exceeds intent of CWA

Rose Acre Farms' original NPDES permit was for a standard five-year period. When the company applied for a new permit in 2009, the N.C. DENR made more unusual demands on Rose Acre Farms. The N.C. DENR was taking the position, that dust, feathers and ammonia exhausted by poultry house fans can be deposited on the ground and eventually become a storm water discharge and that this creates a duty to apply for an NPDES permit.    Rose Acre didn’t agree with the unprecedented requirements that N.C. DENR had inserted into the new permit and decided to pull its application for the permit based on the court ruling in the National Pork Producers Council's lawsuit versus the EPA. It makes perfect sense to me that legislators have the responsibility to correct the actions of regulators if, in the opinion of the majority of the elected representatives of the people, the regulations go outside the original intent of the legislation. Why should the government waste the time and money arguing regulations and the “intent” of legislation in court if legislators have clarified the intent with new legislation?    I just wish Congress would add clarification to both the Clean Water and Clean Air acts. I think that the lawyers and the activist groups are the only ones who like the current process.

Watt Ag Net

Wisconsin companies hit by railway shipping delays

Wisconsin businesses that produce everything from cheese to gravel are concerned about delays in shipping as railroads divert cars to serve Canada’s grain farmers and North Dakota’s oil industry. The bottom line of many of the state’s companies is being affected by a shortage in rail cars and train crews. The demand for shipping via rail has skyrocketed in recent years due to an increase in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Washington Times

Florida’s orange crop estimated at 108 million boxes

The USDA released its initial forecast for 2014-2015 pegging the Florida orange crop at 108 million boxes, up from last season’s total of 104.4 million.  Early-mid varieties accounted for 52 million boxes while Valencias came in at 56 million boxes.

Farm Press

USDA further increases estimates for corn, soybeans

The expected record corn and soybean harvest will be slightly bigger than previously estimated, the result of late summer warmth that helped fill cornstalks with ears and soybean plants with bean pods.  Farmers are expected to bring in 14.5 billion bushels of corn, up 80 million bushels from the September estimate. And soybean farmers will harvest an estimated 3.93 billion bushels, up 14 million bushels from last month’s estimate.  It’ll be a banner year for corn, with farmers expected to harvest a national average of 174.2 bushels per acre, a significant increase over the record of 169 set in 2009.

Method Products Plans World's Biggest Rooftop Farm

Green cleaning products company Method is taking this concept even farther. It is teaming up with Chicago-based Gotham Greens to plant what is being billed as the world’s largest urban rooftop farm.  The 75,000-square-foot installation will be part of Method’s new manufacturing plant planned for the south side of the city. The greenhouses are being designed to grow up to 1 million pounds of fresh produce annually.

In Buffalo, ‘Rust Belt radicals’ put food (policy) back on the table

A new study outlines seven factors that led one of America’s poorest cities to embrace farming, urban chickens and more  That was the story in Buffalo leading up to the 21st century: Nestled in a region loaded with farms and orchards, the city nevertheless housed many neighborhoods where fresh fruits, meats and vegetables were in short supply.  So how, in just one decade, did Buffalo become a leader in urban agriculture, with some 60 community gardens coloring its postindustrial landscape?  The new study focuses on the nonprofit Massachusetts Avenue Project, which established the first urban farming project in Buffalo.  Buffalo’s narrative is compelling because activists managed to remove food from the shadows of urban planning, giving it a prominent place in efforts to rewrite land use and zoning laws.

Minnesota elk farming tops nation, home to 141 farms

The breeders association has unveiled a new website sponsored in part by the state's Minnesota Grown program. It was created to highlight the shortage of elk products and the need for more elk producers.

U.S. pork group counters antibiotics report with online campaign

A leading U.S. pork association will use an online marketing campaign to counter a critical television documentary on antibiotics use in livestock, pointing consumers to websites that defend the practice.


OSU partners to create new agricultural and food law consortium

Ohio State University Extension’s Agricultural and Resource Law program has partnered with a group of universities in the creation of a new Agricultural and Food Law Consortium that will work to research regional and national agricultural law issues.  The consortium is part of and led by the National Agricultural Law Center.  Ohio State is one of three universities to partner in the initiative, a formal collaboration to address agricultural law issues that impact food, fiber and energy production.

Ohios County Journal

Minnesota makes $1.7 million in grants available to fund agriculture research

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is making $1.7 million in competitive grants available for applied crop research.  The department says the research needs to focus on improving agricultural product quality, quantity and value. Projects must also benefit Minnesota farmers and the state's economy in the next three to five years.  The maximum grant award is $250,000 for projects that can last up to three years.  The Crop Research Grant Program is part of the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program created by the Minnesota Legislature to advance the state's agricultural and renewable energy industries. 

Star Tribune

The Risks of Cheap Water

This summer, California’s water authority declared that wasting water — hosing a sidewalk, for example — was a crime. Next door, in Nevada, Las Vegas has paid out $200 million over the last decade for homes and businesses to pull out their lawns.    It will get worse. But the proliferation of limits on water use will not solve the problem because regulations do nothing to address the main driver of the nation’s wanton consumption of water: its price.  The signals today are way off. Water is far too cheap across most American cities and towns.

Farmers Run Afoul of Labor Laws — and Pay for It

Manning maneuvered a tractor carrying a large round bale of haylage into the barn at Butterworks Farm, a bustling Westfield organic dairy. Upstairs, in the small milk-processing plant, Theresa Peura shuttled quarts of yogurt, made from milk from the farm's Jerseys.  One of these jobs — Manning's — is considered agricultural labor under the Fair Labor Standards Act, so it is exempt from regulations such as overtime. The other one — Peura's — isn't exempt. Failing to draw that distinction has landed some Vermont farms, including Butterworks, in hot water with the U.S. Department of Labor.  DOL has investigated 22 Vermont farms since January 2013.  Farmers — many of whom were reportedly surprised to learn that they weren't in compliance with labor law — faced civil fines and hefty bills for back wages. Butterworks owed $11,000 in back wages.  If a worker doing approved agricultural tasks spent even an hour or two processing yogurt or milling grain, all of his or her labor in excess of 40 hours a week — regardless of how it was spent — would be subject to overtime pay.

Tight Margins Force Some Farmers to Reconsider Biotech Seed

As Matt Hughes pulled large, well-formed ears from his cornfield near McLean, Ill., he conceded that his Bt hybrids performed well this year. Nearly every kernel was free from insect damage and yields could set some farm records. So why is this central Illinois farmer considering abandoning corn containing traits in favor of conventional, non-genetically engineered (GE) hybrids next year?  "The problem is we've seen a 50% decline in our commodity prices.”


Family farms produce 80 % of world's food, speculators seek land

Despite renewed interest in industrial agriculture by investment banks and sovereign wealth funds, more than 80 % of the world's food is still produced by family farmers.  Only 1 % of the world's farms are larger than 50 hectares. Farms smaller than one hectare account for 72 % of all farms, but control only 8 % of agricultural land.


Iowa firm helps hatch China Egg industry

Every year, about 250,000 chicks make a 7,000-mile journey from central Iowa to China.  The migrations begin at a hatchery in Perry, where crates of day-old chicks travel by roller-bed truck to airports in Chicago or Indianapolis, then by Air China or Federal Express plane to Beijing or Shanghai. Then it's back on the road to breeding farms in places like Handan, in Iowa's sister state of Hebei.    Their progeny will end up in egg-laying operations all over China, the world's largest egg producer.

Des Moines Register

Chicken, turkey margins remain unseasonably strong


EPA Says Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments on Soybeans are of Little Benefit

Farm Futures

100 years of Food Safety Education with Extension

Land-grant universities were established with the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. Their mission was to educate the public on subjects of agriculture, home economics and other practical tasks in the home—to literally extend research and help families across the country. While food safety was not initially within the mission’s scope, food safety has a strong and intertwined history within land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension.

Food Safety Magazine

U.S. forecasts 2015 pork output to top beef for first time in 62 yrs


FAPRI October Crop Price Update

The projected corn price for the 2014/15 marketing year w as reduced to $3.40  per bushel. The record U.S. corn crop got even bigger in USDA’s October estimates, and carry in stock s w ere also greater than had been estimated.  Corn acreage could decline in 2015, and more typical growing conditions would result in lower yields next year. Projected prices increase to $3.74 per bushel for 2015/16, and to $4.20 per bushel by 2018/19.  USDA soybean production estimates also increased slightly this month, but this w as offset by a reduction in carry - in stocks, leaving total supplies marginally reduced from September estimates.  The projected 2014/15 soybean price is little changed, at $9.95 per bushel.  Soybean acreage could stay near this year’s record in 2015 and the resulting large soybean supplies cause projected 2015/16 prices to drop to $8.93 per bushel, before recovering to $10.50  per bushel by 2018/19.

U.S. farmers seen cutting fertilizer use as crop prices slide


SARL Member CHS tops list of top 100 ag cooperatives

Minnesota-based CHS Inc. was the top agricultural cooperative in 2013, according to USDA data, bringing in more revenue than the rest of the top five cooperatives combined.


Rabobank Pork Quarterly Report: Global Pork Market Cooling Down

With the peak of the 2014 porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus outbreaks behind us, the global pork industry was faced with another challenge in the shape of the Russian import ban resulting in a rapidly changing trade landscape. According to Rabobank’s Pork Quarterly report, beneficiaries of the ban include Brazil which has seen a 30% per kg price surge. Meanwhile the EU has seen its prices drop by 9% with no sign of recovery. 


New Holland smashes Guinness World Records title for most wheat harvested in 8 hours

New Holland Agriculture has reclaimed the Guinness World Records title, harvesting an impressive 797.656 tonnes of wheat in eight hours with the world’s most powerful combine: the 653hp CR10.90.

Farm Business

ADM funds new laboratory and student space at U. of Missouri

With the help of a $1 million Archer Daniels Midland grant, the University of Missouri College of Agriculture created a laboratory and work space for students and faculty. The new ADM Center for Agricultural Development is in the agricultural engineering building.

Columbia Tribune

ADM buying Specialty Commodities

ADM says its purchase of Specialty Commodities, Incorporated for about $170 million is one of the ways it’s “improving returns and reducing the volatility of its earnings” by expanding their specialty ingredient portfolio.  SCI has a global network of suppliers sourcing natural and organic ingredients for customers in the “snack, ice cream, cereal, health food, bakery, pet food and bird food markets.”


Dow AgroSciences Launches Food Security Initiative

Dow AgroSciences has launched an employee-led food security initiative in collaboration with Indianapolis Hunger Network and international organizations. This initiative aims to develop sustainable solutions to create innovative practical solutions to hunger.

Pennsylvania preserves 500,000 acres of farmland

Pennsylvania has invested nearly $1.3 billion to preserve more than 500,000 acres of farmland -- the most preserved farms and acres of production farmland in the country.

Another Ariz. immigration law shot down by 9th Circuit

Another of Arizona's immigration laws was struck down when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional a law denying bond to undocumented immigrants charged with "serious" crimes.    The law, known as Proposition 100, was passed by voters in November 2006.    After the vote, the Legislature defined "serious" crimes as Class 4 felonies or worse -- the most serious felonies are Class 1, the least serious Class 6. Subsequent immigration laws tended to be classified as Class 4.

N.J. voters should back open-space initiative

On Election Day, New Jersey voters will be asked to approve taking money from an existing revenue stream to support the work of preserving the Garden State's vital landscape. I believe we should vote yes.    New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, with 8.8 million people crowded into nearly 4.8 million acres. While the population is growing, the real estate is not.    We all share a need for fresh air, clean water, and nutritious food. These needs require that we maintain the state's healthy urban and rural forests for clean air, functioning watersheds, and productive farmland. To flourish, each of these systems needs sufficient land.  The money to pay for this open space will not come from a new tax or more borrowing, but from an existing income source, the corporate business tax. Currently, 4 % of that tax is dedicated to environmental purposes. Voters are being asked to allocate the majority of that dedication to open-space acquisition, preservation, and maintenance starting in 2016, and to increase the dedication to 6 % in 2019.    These funds are often leveraged with money from the municipal, county, and federal governments, as well as resources from nonprofit organizations.

Editorial: NH Chicken plant should get city approval

Fournier Foods has been hauling a mobile processing unit farm to farm for the past three years to process chickens that, because they have not been federally inspected, must be sold from the farm or at farmers markets. The facility proposed by Fournier Foods, would be the first in the state approved by the USDA. The chickens it processes could be sold to retailers, and help meet the increasing demand for locally produced, organic meat. The site proposed for the plant strikes us as ideal. It’s at the end of a dead-end road in an industrial park that sees little traffic. It is in nobody’s backyard. It’s flanked by 150 acres of city-owned woodland and separated from the Mountain Road residential area by a rail line, interstate highway and several thousand feet.

Concord Monitor

SARL member pushes BLM on wild horses

Wyoming lawmakers critiqued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s recent wild horse roundup, insisting the agency's strategy isn't working.    Members of the Select Federal Natural Resource Committee are working to inform the public about their concerns regarding wild horse management in the state. The committee decided to draft a resolution to bring attention to the mustangs' effect on the state's rangelands.    Committee members said proposals for stricter management of the horses are often the victim of public perception.    “We really need to try to tell the true story of where these horses are from and the other side of the story,” Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Glenrock, said. “Every opportunity we have to educate and get the facts will be helpful

Casper Star Tribune

A Benefit For Rural Vets: Getting Health Care Close To Home

Army veteran Randy Michaud had to make a 200-mile trip to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Aroostook County, Maine, every time he had a medical appointment.  He's one of millions of veterans living in rural America who must travel hundreds of miles round-trip for care.  "If I get an appointment in the winter, I'll cancel that sucker and I'll live with the pain until spring time," he says.  Even in the summer, the trip for Michaud — and other vets like him — meant a day, or sometimes two, of missed work, with a night in a motel, plus the cost of gas. The VA reimburses those costs, but this is not a rich area, and people don't always have the cash upfront.  To make it easier for vets to get care, the VA started a program called Access Received Closer to Home. A trial program began three years ago in five states.  This summer, Congress extended the program for two years, as part of a law aimed at reforming the VA. It will allow veterans to use private doctors if they live far from a VA hospital or can't get a VA appointment within 30 days.

Community Heart & Soul Field Guide Published

The Orton Family Foundation has released its complete guide to its signature Community Heart & Soul™ approach to building stronger communities. It is a primer that shows how residents of small cities and rural towns can shape the future of their communities, available online and as a free download.

Orton Foundation

SCORE helps businesses become a reality

SCORE, a national organization of retired business executives who provide free coaching to small businesses, or to people thinking of starting a business.  SCORE is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall, operates as a nonprofit partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The organization has 320 chapters — staffed by 11,000 volunteers — around the country. Any would-be business owner can get free coaching from a SCORE chapter. Though much of SCORE’s work happens through one-on-one mentorships covering a wide range of topics, the group also offers tailored assistance on topics such as marketing or financial documents. And a group of SCORE mentors are available to work as a team and evaluate an existing business that is looking for advice ahead of an expansion, sale or transition. 

Times Dispatch

35,000 Tennessee students apply for free community college

Tennessee Promise gives Tennessee's high school seniors free tuition at the state's two-year community colleges and colleges of applied technology. With the Nov. 1 deadline to apply approaching, it's now crunch time for a program that has already attracted 35,016 applications from high school students across the state. That has put Tennessee Promise on pace to perhaps double the state's goal of 20,000 applications.  That means two-thirds of the 60,000 public high school seniors in Tennessee could eventually sign up. Tennessee Promise pushed by Haslam and approved by the General Assembly this past spring, taps the state's lottery reserves to cover the costs of providing free tuition

Rural Implications of state based health insurance marketplace

State - based Marketplaces ’ choice of service and rating areas has particular relevance to rural areas. Some states have few rating areas, effectively requiring carriers to include rural individuals in large risk pools with urban residents, while others allow insurers to vary premiums across a large number of geographic areas. Average monthly premiums are higher in less densely populated areas.  Few states have explicitly made rural representation a priority in their Marketplace governance structure. In some states rural areas are represented by board members serving as consumer representatives. In addition, rural residents are more likely to work for small employers, so states where small businesses are well represented on the board may be more likely to design policies that facilitate access to health insurance for rural individuals. Given that rural individuals already have limited insurance choices and higher premiums, this trade - off is a challenge for state policymakers.

University of Iowa

Rural Mainstreet Index Sinks for August

Rural Mainstreet Index falls for third straight month to its lowest level in almost two years.  Farmland prices decline for ninth straight month. On average, bank CEOs expect farmland prices to decline by 4.8 % over the next year. Cash rents on farmland per acre advanced from $258 in March of this year to $285. Approximately 26 % of recent farmland sales were cash sales. This is down from 29 % reported last year. Farm equipment sales index declines to a record low in August.

GMO- A Great Medical Opportunity

Genetically modifying tobacco has created incredible medical discoveries; what else remains to be found?   Turns out tobacco may actually be a lifesaver. Despite genetically modified organisms’ bad press, scientists are continuing to practice the technique with a plant that may surprise you. Researchers are genetically modifying tobacco to make human collagen — a protein needed to build our skin, tendons, and connective tissue — as well as vaccines and drugs for devastating diseases such as rabies and Ebola.  These incredible discoveries, which have the potential to save more than tens of thousands of lives are the result of deliberate tweaks to an organism’s genome, and raise the question: Are GMOs bad?

NJ:Trying to Lure Hunters as Bears Get Too Close

State wildlife officials here are trying to get the word out: Bear tastes good.  Hunters who bring in a bear to be weighed when the season starts in December will even receive a cookbook with recipes like “bear satay on a stick” and “grilled bear loin with brown sugar paste.”  “It’s tasty,” Kelcey Burguess, the bear project leader and principal biologist for the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, said of the meat.  The object is not really to get more people to cook bear; it is to get more people to shoot one.  In 2010, in an effort to deal with its growing bear population, and over the objections of animal rights activists, the State of New Jersey reintroduced bear hunting, with a six-day season to run for five consecutive years.

Hunting in America: an overview

Welcome to Hunting in America, our four part series on one of our country’s most sacred traditions. It is a complex, wide ranging, set of principles and activities that brings out many of the great qualities of Americans. With roots set deep in our origins, hunting shows us about our ancestry, as well as providing a map for our future. While certainly a long story to tell, it is vital for us to understand this practice. In the first part of the series, we hope to provide a framework, giving background on America’s earliest forms of hunting, what led to the rise of the modern sportsman, what hunting provides for our society, the issues it faces, and where it is headed in the next few decades.

Protect the Harvest

Expanding Medicaid Good for Rural Access

A new study in Health Services Research reveals that expanding Medicaid to cover more adults boosts health care access and use in rural populations. The researchers compared people on the waitlist who wanted coverage but didn’t get it with people who were enrolled, in order to examine the effect of insurance status on health care use. Insurance coverage expansion means health care costs less to the consumer. In states that have expanded Medicaid, utilization will go up, he said. “The poor who are not on Medicaid who have no doctor and no access, have historically visited the emergency room. Once they have access, however, utilization of care increases, so does a measure of population health.”

Daily Yonder

Dairy farmers ask for help with hungry elk

Organic dairy ranchers are urging authorities to remove elk from agricultural land in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes seashore and build a large fence to keep them out, as a conflict pitting organic farmers and native wildlife conservation supporters against one another intensifies because of the drought.  Ranchers who lease the sweeping hillside pastures from the National Park Service say their cows are competing with the elk for vegetation, which has become scarce after three years of drought.  They say the animals have knocked down fences and often gobble up the rye grasses that cows rely upon.

Capital press

Rats and Their Alarming Bugs

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that our well-being is intimately linked to the health of animals.  The current Ebola epidemic probably got its start when someone came into contact with an infected animal, perhaps a monkey or a fruit bat. The virus causing Middle East respiratory syndrome appears to spread from camels to humans.    Yet animal pathogens remain a scientific terra incognita. Researchers have begun cornering animals in far-flung parts of the world to learn more about what infects them. Recently, a team of pathogen hunters at Columbia University went on an expedition closer to home. They conducted a survey of the viruses and bacteria in Manhattan’s rats, the first attempt to use DNA to catalog pathogens in any animal species in New York City.    “Everybody’s looking all over the world, in all sorts of exotic places, including us,” said Ian Lipkin, a professor of neurology and pathology at Columbia. “But nobody’s looking right under our noses.”

Rural Mortgage Activity Declines

While the number of loans for rural home purchases grew slightly from 2012 to 2013, refinance loans dropped by 23% in rural America. Rural counties continue to have a disproportionate share of higher-interest-rate loans, according to analysis by the Housing Assistance Council.

Daily Yonder

Greens sue to protect wolverines

A coalition of environmental and wildlife groups sued the federal government to force it to protect the wolverine under the Endangered Species Act.  The lawsuit comes after the Fish and Wildlife Service decided in August that, despite scientists’ concerns that climate change would dramatically reduce the wolverine’s habitat, it did not merit protection as an endangered or threatened species. The groups blame the state wildlife directors in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming for FWS’s decision. Those officials argued that computer models were not certain on the impact of climate change to the wolverine. 

The Hill

Center for Consumer Affairs launches website focusing on environmental activists

A website,, to expose environmental activists and their agendas. Whether or not you’re a hunter or angler, their policy agenda still affects agriculture. You should be aware of who they are in case they try to lay a trap in your state.

Food News

Vermont releases draft GMO labeling rules

The nine pages of rules lay out everything from definitions of “food” and “genetic engineering” to the required disclosures that will read “Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”  Three public hearings have been scheduled. Comments can also be submitted by email.   

Washington Times

Editorial: Vote "no" on Proposition 105, GMO labeling measure

Proposition 105 is a badly flawed measure that will hurt Colorado farmers and food producers without providing any health benefit to consumers.   Backers of the measure say all they want is transparency. So Prop 105 would require the phrase "Produced with Genetic Engineering" to appear on certain foods. Such a rule might be relatively harmless if it were carefully written and implemented as part of national labeling law, but neither is the case. To begin with, the measure would put Colorado food producers who ship to other states at a disadvantage. Will grocery stores in those states be as willing to stock Colorado products once they stand out in this fashion?  The proposition will also put a costly burden on farmers who grow both GMO and non-GMO crops, since it imposes what amounts to zero tolerance for commingling. A farmer who grows both GMO and non-GMO corn, for example, may not be able to use the same combine on them — forcing a huge new investment.  For that matter, where will the state find the money to ensure compliance?

Denver Post

GMO labeling in Oregon: Measure 92 turns state into 'battleground for food culture'

Forces for and against mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in Oregon agree on almost nothing.    Proponents say labeling is akin to a Freedom of Information Act when it comes to food choices. How, they ask, can the relatively inexpensive labeling of important food choices be bad for consumers and society?    Opponents see the issue in starkly different terms. Not only will the measure burden farmers, manufacturers and consumers with far higher costs, they say, but it will stigmatize all Oregon agricultural products by creating a standard no other state must meet.     If there is one slender thread on which both sides concur, it's that the Nov. 4 fate of Measure 92 could play a pivotal role in how the contentious and politically costly issue plays out elsewhere across the United States.

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream unveils 'Food Fight' flavor to aid pro-GMO labeling campaign

No foie gras for you! Supreme Court lets California ban stand

Utah lawmakers scrutinize raw milk industry after illnesses

A west Ogden dairy that caused a foodborne illness outbreak has had its license reinstated and it can once again sell raw milk to the public. Of the 80 people sickened this summer, "20 % were hospitalized and there was one fatality.  People with medical conditions sometimes assume that raw milk is healthier, "when in fact it is unsafe," state epidemiologist Cindy Burnett told members of the Legislature’s Natural Resource, Agricultural and Environment Interim Committee.     

Salt Lake Tribune

Carriers are Dropping Liability Coverage for Raw-Milk Producers

Some folks who drink raw milk probably already see themselves as risk-takers, but they may not have thought about the fact that drinking their favorite beverage increasingly means not just taking risk but, for the producers, also “going bare.”    “Going bare” is what the insurance industry calls it when someone opts to go without coverage either because they cannot afford it or because it is just not available. For at least the past two years, reports have popped up around the country about raw-milk producers having difficulty obtaining or continuing insurance coverage.    What began as decisions by individual carriers who sell policies directly to small farms is now a concern for the big re-insurers such as Kansas City, MO-based Aon Risk Solutions. Insurance coverage going away is still coming as a surprise for some raw-milk producers.

Food Safety News

Perdue removing ‘Humanely Raised’ label from Harvestland chicken

Perdue Farms has agreed to remove the “Humanely Raised” label from its Harvestland chicken packaging as part of a settlement of federal cases filed in New Jersey and Florida by HSUS. The plaintiffs have agreed to dismiss their claims with prejudice in exchange for Perdue removing the “Humanely Raised” labels. The plaintiffs claimed that the labeling was misleading and that the chickens were subjected to inhumane treatment, a charge Perdue Farms had vigorously opposed.  Despite the settlement, Perdue still stands by its position, stating that the chickens are well cared for.  “Perdue rejects the plaintiffs’ allegations and maintains that its labels are not misleading in any way. Nonetheless, it has agreed to discontinue the labeling claim at issue,” said Herb Frerichs, general counsel for Perdue Farms.

Watt Ag Net

Kroger removing 'humanely raised' on chicken labels in settlement following Perdue deal

Heirloom Popcorn helps snack reinvent itself

With the invention of steam-powered poppers and caramel-coated Cracker Jack in the late 1800s, popcorn moved from farm-family snack to cultural novelty. It buoyed the movie industry in the Great Depression. Products like Jiffy Pop, which offered pan, oil and corn in one magical purchase, brought popcorn back to the kitchen in the 1960s. They, in turn, were bigfooted by the microwave oven in the ’80s. Now, in an era of farmers markets and a do-it-yourself ethos, older popcorn varieties with names like Dakota Black, Tom Thumb and Lady Finger are being popped on the stove in coconut and olive oils, enhanced with just a kiss of fresh butter and fine salt or fortified with rosemary, wasabi powder or nothing at all. “If you look at craft beers, you’ll see that the same thing happened,” said Glenn Roberts, who founded Anson Mills, in South Carolina, to preserve old strains of rice and other grains. “People are awakening their palates to something that has more flavor and complexity.

CA: drought perk: Better wine

The long drought in California is, of course, bad news for most in the agriculture business — but winemakers are seeing some real benefits. The lack of rain is actually leading to some of the best wine Napa and Sonoma counties have seen in a while.  There are a number of perks to the dryer weather: First, less water means smaller grapes, and that concentrates the flavor. On top of that, the sun is making grapes riper earlier, and that allows a harvest before the threat of autumn storms. 

USA Today

McDonald's to customers: Ask about food quality

In an unusual, perhaps risky, social media campaign that's clearly targeting Millennials, the fast-food chain rolled out the first stage of a promotional effort dotted with "behind-the-scenes" webisodes that it's dubbed: "Our Food. Your Questions."  McDonald's is asking folks -- including skeptics -- to submit questions via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media. McDonald's will respond to some of those questions with webisodes and other social content about how the food is produced and prepared.

USA Today

Whole Foods to Rate Its Produce and Flowers for Environmental Impact

Whole Foods Market began a ratings program for fruits, vegetables and flowers aimed at giving consumers more information about pesticide and water use, the treatment of farm workers and waste management, and other issues surrounding the food they eat.  The upscale grocery chain will rate the produce of suppliers electing to participate in the program, Responsibly Grown, as “good,” “better,” or “best,” depending on, for example, how they handle plastic waste in their operations and whether they provide conservation areas to foster bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Whole Foods has struggled to accelerate its sales growth this year, and even though its earnings in the quarter that ended July 6 beat analysts’ estimates, its stock is down more than 30 % this year. The company remains saddled with a reputation for higher prices, and it is facing more competition from mainstream retailers like Walmart.

NY: Forward Push on Soda Ban

De Blasio Administration Considers New Ways to Cap Size of Sugary Drinks.

Wall Street Journal

Apple Commission reps wary of GMO apples

Genetically modified Canadian apples may soon be approved by the USDA and Food and Drug Administration for production and sales in the U.S. Overseas promoters of Washington apples say that will make their jobs more difficult.

Capital Press

Semi-Finalists Named in First National Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

The American Farm Bureau Federation together with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas announced the 10 national semi-finalists of the first-ever Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The challenge provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations being developed in rural regions.

The Ag Land Tax Proposal in Hawaii

I got to wondering, when I saw the New York Times article about the California farmer who developed a Frankenstein pumpkin, how he would have fared on Kauai, under Councilman Tim Bynum's bill to raise land taxes on experimental crops.  The farmer experimented for years, and spent about $400,000, before he mastered the technique of growing his “pumpkinsteins” in plastic molds. This year he grew about 5,500 "pumpkin steins," and they're wholesaling for $75 each. Now that's the kind of innovative, value-added product that would make any farmer drool.    But under an ag land tax proposal — advanced by Bynum and Councilman Gary Hooser to punish the seed companies — he'd be seriously dinged for experimenting on a non-edible crop, even though it was organically grown.   


Ebola Hits West Africa Hard

Virus Not Only Causes Panic, But Guts Food Production in Liberia, Sierra Leone. While the United States finds itself coming to grips with a handful of Ebola cases, agricultural ministers in West Africa say the virus is ripping through their countries not only through infection, but also further exacerbating hunger and wrecking any plans to revitalize the region's farm production. 


EPA Announces Final Decision to Register Enlist Duo

The EPA is registering the herbicide, Enlist Duo with first-time ever restrictions to manage the problem of resistant weeds. The pesticide is for use in controlling weeds in corn and soybeans genetically-engineered (GE) to tolerate 2,4-D and glyphosate. The agency’s decision reflects a large body of science and an understanding of the risk of pesticides to human health and the environment. The herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate are two of the most widely used herbicides in the world for controlling weeds. Dozens of other countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan and 26 European Union Members have approved these pesticides for use on numerous crops and residential lawns. Last year, Canada approved the use of Enlist Duo for the same uses that EPA is authorizing.

NRDC Sues EPA to Block New Pesticide

The suit was filed in the D.C. Circuit court immediately after the EPA approved the use of “Enlist Duo,” a combination of two herbicides: glyphosate and 2,4-D, an older, toxic herbicide. Enlist Duo is intended for use on corn and soybeans genetically modified to be resistant to this chemical cocktail.

Onion growers grapple with proposed produce rule

Oregon State University researchers have started new trials designed to help onion growers meet minimum standards for bacteria levels in irrigation water contained in the FDA's proposed produce safety rule.  The FDA’s revised produce safety rule includes a provision that might allow Treasure Valley onion growers to sidestep strict irrigation water quality standards by proving that bacteria dies off quickly after harvest.  However, some customers are already asking onion packing sheds in Southwestern Idaho and Eastern Oregon to prove their irrigation water adheres to the proposed water standards.  The revised produce rule would allow farmers whose water doesn’t meet the bacteria standards to meet them through different means, including establishing an interval from the last day of irrigation until harvest that would allow for potentially dangerous microbes to die off.    Field trials last year at the Oregon State University research station near Ontario showed that E. coli bacteria levels on bulb onions diminished rapidly after harvest. By the time the onions were packed for storage, there was no trace of bacteria on them.

Capital Press

The 2014 Farm Bill: Answers for Landlords

The Agricultural Act of 2014 has many new provisions that will be important for landlords. This Fact Sheet provides answers to the most common questions that landlords are asking. The 2014 farm bill includes 3 issues that landlords and tenants will need to address in the next few months. First, owners will be permitted to update the program yields on their farms. Second, owners will be permitted to reallocate the base acres on their farms. Finally, landlords and tenants will be required to elect either the new “Agricultural Risk Coverage” (ARC) or “Price Loss Coverage” (PLC) programs for each covered crop on their farms.

Department of Labor, FCC announce wireless apprenticeship program

Right now, thousands of wireless infrastructure jobs are going unfilled because workers have not received adequate training. PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association is orchestrating the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, following up on its mandate to professionalize the wireless workforce by establishing curriculum and standards for training.  The TIRAP marks the first time that a Department of Labor certification for registered apprenticeships has been awarded to an industry consortium.

USDA Replies to House on COOL

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack replied to the 114 Congressmen who wrote him in July urging the USDA to withdraw the mandatory country-of-origin labeling rule if the WTO rules against the US.  Vilsack said in a letter, “We have received the final, confidential report from the WTO Compliance Panel and expect that the WTO will make the findings public in the fall. The Department of Agriculture continues to collaborate with the Office of the United States Trade Representative regarding our next steps in this dispute. It is imperative that the United States continues to show that we will honor our trade obligations and that we will support America’s farmers, ranchers and processors.”

National Hog Farmer

New Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Insurance

New Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Insurance Premium Subsidy Established 2014 Farm Bill Required Policy Offers Diversified Farms More Affordable Protection. The USDA’sRisk Management Agency announced that a premium subsidy has been established to offer more affordable protection to eligible diversified farm operations, as part of the new Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance policy.   Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, required by the 2014 Farm Bill, will be offered through the RMA managed federal crop insurance program. The new policy will offer fruit and vegetable growers and producers with diversified farms selling commodities to wholesale markets, local and regional markets, farm identity preserved markets, or direct markets, more flexible, affordable risk management coverage options. The coverage levels can range anywhere from 50 to 85 %, depending on what producers feel is appropriate for their businesses.

Nutrition programs ditch whole milk

New rules banished 2 % and whole milk from the National School Lunch Program.  Illinois’ Women Infant and Children feeding program followed suit by now offering skim and 1% almost exclusively.


Canada to invest $7.5M in livestock database

Agriculture officials in Canada announced plans to develop, implement and operate a national livestock traceability database.

Canada worker, hog shortages leave industry squealing

Shortages of hogs and packing plant workers in Canada, exacerbated by recent government restrictions, may severely cut hog processing and pork exports, helping to keep North American retail pork prices near record highs.    Farmers in Canada, the world's third-biggest pork shipper, are also bracing for the spread of a deadly virus that has killed millions of piglets in the United States.    Further dwindling of Canadian supplies would especially reverberate in the United States, which relies on young Canadian pigs for fattening and slaughter, and in markets as far away as Japan and South Korea that import Canadian pork.    "If those Canadian pigs don't flow south, you're going to have U.S. hog farmers bidding against each other to get pigs," said University of Missouri livestock economist Ron Plain.

Losing the Plot? Agricultural Research Policy and the 2014 Farm Bill

A large part of U.S. agricultural output and its competiveness in international commodity markets is attributable to research-induced gains in productivity accumulated over the 20th century. In 2012, the US accounted for a sizable share (9.5% by value) of the global food, feed, and fiber economy. This is substantially smaller than its 1961 share of 14.8%. Over the same period, the Asia-Pacific region (including India and China) grew its global share from 24.2% to 45.1%. Productivity growth in U.S. agriculture has declined along with its global market share. For the post-World War II period through 1990, agricultural productivity— measured by accounting for changes in the use of multiple factors of production—grew on average by 2.1% per year, but dropped to almost half that rate (1.2% per year) during the subsequent two decades.  As the 21st century unfolds, a question of major importance is whether a continuation of contemporary trends in public investments in research and development are sufficient to preserve or enhance past productivity gains and ensure the United States remains competitive in global agricultural markets.


Comparing ARC-CO to PLC: APAS Sample Farms and the ARC-CO - PLC Comparison Tool

Farmers and share-rent landowners will choose between three options for receiving commodity program payments: 1) Agricultural Risk Coverage - County Coverage (ARC-CO), 2) Price Loss Coverage (PLC), and 3) Agricultural Risk Coverage - Individual Coverage (ARC-IC). Here we focus on tools for making comparisons between the first two options: ARC-CO and PLC. The ARC-CO - PLC Comparison Tool will provide payments given user-entered input. APAS Sample farms will provide expected values of payments for different sets of prices and yields. The choice between ARC-CO and PLC likely will come down to three considerations: 1) payment expectations between ARC-CO and PLC, 2) type of risk the farmer wishes to avoid, and 3) availability of Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO).    Why Focus on ARC-CO and PLC?

Landowner Wins Landmark Case

"Passive" Investors Freed From CRP Tax. In a blow to the IRS, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Conservation Reserve Program payments to a non-farmer are rents from real estate and are not subject to self-employment tax. If a 2013 Tax Court ruling in Morehouse v. Commissioner had been allowed to stand, many nonfarmers and other passive investors could have been subjected to a surprise 15.3% self-employment tax on their CRP payments.


Will The NAS Fumble Its Reassessment Of GMOs?

The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences held two days of discussions on the controversial issue of crop biotechnology as it collects information for a spring 2016 report. The ad-hoc committee of 18 scientists is pledged to take “a science-based look at genetically-engineered crops.” Will it do that? The first two days were not encouraging. The National Academy of Sciences has itself previously concluded that genetically modified foods are as safe or safer than conventional or oganics, as have dozens of other prominent independent science organizations. Yet of the 17 speakers over two days, 12 were critical of crop biotechnology, mostly representing dedicated anti-GMO advocacy organizations, such as the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, ETC Group, Greenpeace and the Union of Concerned Scientists, among others; two others expressed no opinion one way or the other, but endorsed a “big tent” approach to the assessment. The speakers offered the committee a range of views from university professors and non-governmental experts who have battled over biotech crops for decades.

Yamaha Waits for FAA Approval on Agricultural Drone

An unmanned helicopter took flight, Wednesday, hovering about 20 feet over a vineyard in California’s Napa Valley, spraying water as it steadily moved up and down the rows of grapes. The helicopter, made by Yamaha Motor Co.7272.TO -0.28%, has been used in Japan for about two decades to spray crops.

Wall Street Journal

USDA Announces Measures to Help Farmers Diversify Weed Control Efforts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced several steps that the USDA is taking to address the increase of herbicide resistant weeds in U.S. agricultural systems.  USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service will offer financial assistance under its Environmental Quality Incentives Program for herbicide resistant weed control practices that utilize Integrated Pest Management plans and practices.  NRCS will be soliciting proposals under the Conservation Innovation Grants Program for innovative conservation systems that address herbicide resistant weeds.  


USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services Annual Meeting- Weds November 19.

The annual BRS Stakeholder Meeting is open to all stakeholders and interested parties to foster engagement and transparency in BRS regulatory activities. BRS provides updates on current program activities and initiatives, with ample opportunity for questions and discussion both in a group setting, and in one-on-one interactions with BRS staff.    We ask that participants register to attend in advance and indicate if you wish to make spoken or written comments, and whether you'll be attending in-person or via webcast, at the link below.  The agenda and local information may also be found at this link. 


Surface Transportation Board requiring weekly Class I reports

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board announced Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 that it is requiring all Class I railroads to publicly file weekly data reports regarding service performance “to promote industry-wide transparency, accountability, and improved service.”

Climate Change:USDA's Ongoing Efforts Can Be Enhanced with Better Metrics and More Relevant Information for Farmers

The USDA’s climate change priorities for agriculture include, among other things, providing better information to farmers on future climate conditions.  USDA is engaged in research efforts aimed at better understanding climate change's impacts on agriculture and providing technical assistance to farmers. However, USDA performance plans for recent years have not provided a link between the agency's climate efforts and performance goals, and its recent performance reports have not provided information on whether the agency was meeting its performance measures related to climate change. In addition, USDA performance measures do not capture the breadth of the agency's climate efforts.

GAO report

Commodity groups turn to science to help shape federal nutrition policy

Capital Press

Michelle Obama’s school lunch rules lead to hunger free trash cans

The National School Boards Association reported that 83.7 % of school districts around the country have seen an increase in wasted school lunch food since a 2010 law was passed mandating new nutrition rules.  The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was aimed at creating healthier school lunches, but several schools have rebelled against the new rules. Many school districts have reported that while the law requires kids to be served a certain amount of fruits and vegetables, much of that food is being thrown in the trash, resulting in a more costly program that’s not getting results.

The Blaze

India loses WTO dispute over bird flu curbs on U.S. poultry

India broke World Trade Organization rules by blocking U.S. poultry imports because of unsubstantiated bird flu fears, a WTO dispute panel ruled.  India had claimed its import restrictions were justified by international rules on animal health, but the panel agreed with the US and found that India's measures were not based on international standards and were discriminatory.  The US brought the case in March 2012, with the U.S. poultry industry confident the case would open a market for exports then conservatively valued at $300 million. 


Mexican Trucking Pilot Expires

A three-year pilot program of allowing Mexican trucks to deliver goods in the United States has expired and the Department of Transportation has not said what's next.

Capital Press

Angry British Dairy Farmers Stage Protests over Milk-Price Cuts

With prices slashed to below their cost of production, UK dairy producers fear for their future.


Biotech crops in Europe could be ‘dead and buried’ if anti-GM groups succeed

If lobbyists succeed in blocking EU proposals to end a ban on GM seeds, crop biotech in Europe could be lost forever. This week, MEPs will consider proposals by the European commission and member states to overturn a ban on the cultivation of genetically modified crops in Europe. But it’s a step that could be undermined if anti-GM lobbyists get their way. 

The Guardian

More open China market 'only a matter of time'

Now, China is the fifth-largest U.S. export market for pork, behind Japan, Mexico, Canada and South Korea, U.S. Department of Commerce data show. Trade barriers — such as China's ban on a feed additive — have blocked more sales.  If China completely opened up, Hayes said, more efficient producers around the globe would step in, and China's domestic production would fall to 50 % or below. If the U.S. got only one-third of this new market, that would be 18 million tons of pork — twice as large as the current U.S. pork production.

Des  Moines Register

Once a Symbol of Power, Farming Now an Economic Drag in China

For about 4,000 years, farming in this region has been a touchstone of Chinese civilization. It was here that the mythic hero Hou Ji is said to have taught Chinese how to grow grain, and the area’s rich harvests underpinned China’s first dynasties, feeding officials and soldiers in the nearby imperial capital.  But nowadays, Yangling’s fields are in disarray. Frustrated by how little they earn, the ablest farmers have migrated to cities, hollowing out this rural district in the Chinese heartland. Farm output remains high. But rural living standards have stagnated compared with the cities, and few in the countryside see their future there. The most recent figures show a threefold gap between urban and rural incomes, fueling discontent and helping to make China one of the most unequal societies in the world.

Feeding China:An ag revolution is on the way

Zhang Qianwei beams as farmers crowd around his grain cart, transfixed by a sight they've never seen before: kernels of corn pouring from a combine harvester.  This is Zhang's combine. It is tiny by Iowa standards, a wheat harvester attached to a four-row head to gather up the yellowing stalks. But this machine could be revolutionary, replacing labor that is quickly disappearing from the countryside. Chinese agriculture, long dominated by lawn-sized plots of land harvested by hand, is rapidly growing larger. Farmers and entrepreneurs are acquiring more land and buying modern equipment. High-tech, mega-sized pork, dairy and poultry operations are replacing backyard production. And China is considering whether to allow farmers to plant genetically modified corn seeds.  These big dreams mean big opportunities for U.S. and Iowa agribusinesses..

Des Moines Register

Feeding China: High tech hog farms

If China can ever compete with Iowa pork producers, this may be the place.  Shang Hai Farm plans to double its hog production by 2016 — to 1 million pigs a year — to feed the growing demand for dumplings and other pork products in China's largest city, Shanghai, a 160-mile drive south of here. Its operations include automated, temperature-controlled facilities to fight disease and increase the number of pigs each sow produces.

Des Moines Register

Rice Crop Seen Shrinking  on Weather, End of Thai Subsidy

Global rice production will shrink after weak rains in India and the end of a subsidy program in Thailand hurt supplies from the biggest exporters.    Worldwide output of milled grain will probably drop 0.4 % to 496.4 million metric tons in the 2014-2015 season from a year earlier. Ending stockpiles will drop 2 % to 177.7 million tons in 2014-2015, the first contraction in a decade, while global trade expands 1.1 % to a record 40 million tons in calendar year 2015.


In New Zealand, Higher Beef Prices Loom

Spike Is Feared as U.S. Shortage Prompts More Exports From Local Farmers

Wall Street Journal

Energy and Renewables

ND agriculture commissioner contest more about oil

North Dakota's contest for agriculture commissioner once focused largely on which candidate was more of a farmer. But as the state's energy-driven prosperity grows, the job increasingly has become more about harvesting oil.  There's unprecedented interest — and record special interest campaign contributions— for Republican incumbent Doug Goehring and Democratic opponent Ryan Taylor because the agriculture commissioner sits on the state Industrial Commission, which regulates North Dakota's booming oil industry. 

San Francisco Gate

Trahant: Mining Issue Big in Wisc. Race

A proposed large-scale iron mine has become an issue in a Wisconsin Senate election. Native votes could make a difference in the results.

Daily Yonder

As Connecticut Enacts Moratorium on Fracking Waste, other States in Region Consider Bills

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has signed into law a bill that creates a three-year moratorium on the disposal, storage, treatment or sale of waste produced from hydraulic fracturing, and instructs state environmental officials to devise a regulatory policy for handling the wastewater produced from natural-gas extraction that protects public health and the environment. (CSG-Eastern Regional Conference)

Southwestern Energy snaps up assets in Marcellus, Utica from Chesapeake

Chesapeake Energy continued its sell-off of gas drilling operations in the Marcellus and Utica shales with its biggest withdrawal from Appalachia. Pennsylvania's biggest shale gas producer agreed to sell 435 shale wells, 1,100 conventional wells and the rights to drill in more than 400,000 acres to Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co. for $5.375 billion.

Ag producers seeing lower gas, diesel prices this fall

Agricultural producers in wide parts of the country are experiencing an easing in gas and diesel prices not seen in years. Gas prices for this time of year are the lowest since 2010 when they ran well under $3 per gallon. Diesel fuel is at its lowest price since 2012.


The new frontier in ethanol is nonfood biofuel

As three cellulosic ethanol plants open in the Midwest, wavering U.S. policy and the oil boom leave a promising technology in limbo.

Star Tribune

The incredible shrinking Keystone

The pipeline that launched so many street protests, ad campaigns and political headaches for the White House is increasingly irrelevant in the midterm elections and the energy markets — even for the groups that have fought so hard to either build it or block it.  Neither side will say publicly that the Keystone XL pipeline is less important than it once was. But after Keystone’s three-year rise to the top of Washington’s energy agenda, fueling lobbying and advertising bills well into the tens of millions of dollars, green groups and the oil industry are both moving on.

Documents Reveal Billions Of Gallons Of Oil Wastewater Illegally Injected Into California Aquifers

Almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater have been illegally dumped into central California aquifers that supply drinking water and farming irrigation. The wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking fluids and other pollutants.

Turbines may be luring bats to their deaths, wind-farm research suggests

A new study of bat behavior at wind farms suggests that the towering turbines may actually be attracting the winged mammals to their doom — especially those of the newer, monopole designs that are thought to be less alluring to birds. The tentative conclusion of the new paper is that tree bats in particular are drawn to the big turbines by vision, mistaking them in silhouette for tall trees and prime roosting territory.

U.S. gas station constraints complicate 2014 biofuel mandate: officials

The Obama administration is trying to balance its support for renewable fuels with awareness of infrastructure constraints at gas stations as it finalizes targets for 2014 biofuel use.    But with only 11 weeks left in the year, the administration also needs to weigh oil refiners' ability to comply with the long-delayed requirements.    Refiners wrote to the White House, arguing against raising the proposed requirements for using ethanol and biodiesel in U.S. fuel supplies so close to year-end.  More than 10 months overdue, the final 2014 biofuel targets have been under review at White House's Office of Management and Budget since August. 


Solar power leaders back EPA climate rule

The Hill

Industry-backed report says EPA climate rule to cost $366B

The Hill

Campaign ads blaming restrictive energy policies for economic problems are hogwash says environmental group

the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), issued a report suggesting that smarter use of energy is the single most important contributor to recent positive trends -- such as lower gas prices.

Biofuel and Biomaterial Crops:We might be doing it wrong

More AgClips

click here to view this week's More Ag Clips story summaries

Russia Interested in Joint Agriculture Projects With China: 

Restaurant to offer $385 steak

It’s Alive! And It Grows Into a Jack-o’-Lantern

How Many Acres of Corn Are Needed in 2015?

Biologists identify pot gardens as salmon threat

Buck, The Coyote-Stomping Donkey

PETA-like Protestors Go Cuckoo over Chicken “Murder”

Woman Interrupts Restaurant Patrons With Tears and Screams, ‘This Isn’t Food, It’s Violence!’

Air-quality expert issues call to action

Declining Wool Demand Forces Scramble to Adapt at New Zealand Farms

Crocodiles are sophisticated hunters: Work as a team to hunt their prey

 Survey Shows Mexicans Drinking Less Soda After Tax

Sex party issue in agriculture chief debate

Goat droppings blamed for Oregon E. coli death

Mexico dumping claim may be next apple challenge

Ebola Virus and Pets

Critics say Gates Foundation’s agriculture program won’t help poor farmers

LaSalle County Soybean Farmer Answers 100 Bushel Challenge

Commentary: Veggie burger vs. dog food

Australian agriculture needs to adapt, not simply shift, to meet climate change

Beef animal welfare views: U.S. public vs. cattle producers

Dust Bowl Conditions Not Rivaled in 1000 Years

New Ebola vaccine study has begun in Maryland

Cloning cows from steaks and other ways of building better cattle

Animal Biotechnology Videos

Intelligence squared Debate on Genetically Engineered Foods on Dec. 3

Should GMO labeling be a law?

Sanderson eager to get a North Carolina plant built

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The regional contacts for agriculture and rural development for The Council of State Governments are:
South Midwest and East West
Lauren Greer Carolyn Orr, Ph.D. Jason  Burruel