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full report for the 2012
Ag census is due out May
2, but even the preliminary deserves a good
read. While the supposed rise of factory farms receives a lot of press, nationally 75 % of all
farms grossed less than $50,000 in 2012, and just 3.8 % grossed more than $1 million.
Yet Chipotle Grill, which spends millions to make commercials about “factory farms”
will earn $3.8 billion this year. Where is the real factory food coming from?
Ag Clips doesn’t have
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state legislatures, if you would like to support it too –
11- April 18, 2014
Food and Rural Communities
Federal and International
An Idaho tax incentive bill recently signed into law includes the main elements of a previously proposed Ag Jobs bill that failed to pass during the 2012 and 2013 legislative sessions. The Idaho Reimbursement Incentive Act provides a tax credit of up to 30 % for up to 15 years on corporate, income and sales taxes paid as a result of a new project that creates a minimum of 50 jobs in an urban area or 20 in a rural area. There is no limit on the amount of the credit and it’s available to new and existing businesses.
The Ohio legislature has passed legislation which requires one farmer per farm operation to be certified to apply fertilizer.
The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has received $600,000 in the recently-passed NY State Budget for research to enhance the sustainability and profitability of farm businesses in the state’s six northernmost counties. The Northern New York agricultural industry contributes nearly $600 million in farm product market value to the local economy and has a local payroll of approximately $53 million.
The Peru Gazette
Nebraska lawmakers have given final approval to legislation creating a new water sustainability fund. The fund will help local governments and the state pay for water projects, with an 11 million dollar annual appropriation. Nebraska Farm Bureau president Steve Nelson calls it “a milestone piece of legislation”. He says the difference between this bill and previous water-related bills is that this one provides significant funding. “It’s taken a number of years—we’ve talked about it for a long time,” Nelson says. “We’ve been able to get smaller amounts of money moved towards these issues before, but never this kind of commitment from the state.” Budget bills that were approved this year are expected to generate 32 million dollars for the fund by mid-2015
Missouri dairy farmers could be helped by new bill. The Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2014, would help dairy farmers pay for catastrophic insurance. In 2011, and 2012 drought caused many farms in The Ozarks to close. If passed, the act would be funded by a portion of the taxes paid on dairy products in Missouri. This would not be a new tax - it would instead take money currently going into the general revenue fund, and redirect it.
Lawmakers could give the University $1.2 million to stave off a deadly swine disease. Sen. Gary Dahms who is leading legislation to give the research lab $100,000, said it is important to help researchers fighting the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus because its effects are far-reaching. Another proposal that would provide $1.2 million to help University researchers surfaced in the House.
Vermont lawmakers making their state the first to require the labeling of genetically modified food are hoping history won’t repeat itself. The bill mandates labels on all genetically engineered edibles sold in the state, with exemptions for animal feed and some food-processing aids, such as enzymes for making yogurt. But this isn’t the first time that the Green Mountain State has been challenged on its efforts to enforce labeling requirements on products. Now, lawmakers are looking to learn from their mistakes, adding language to the bill that they hope will provide an iron-clad legal justification for the measure. “Yes, it’s quite likely we will be sued, and we have looked at the various court cases out there” and wrote the bill to reflect those rulings, said state Sen. David Zuckerman who sponsored the bill. In 1996 the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals backed an industry argument that the state was in violation of the First Amendment when it required the labeling of milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine somatotropin. The FDA approved the hormone in 1993, finding that milk from cows treated with rBST was not substantively different from that of untreated cows. As a result, the agency did not require labeling. The court issued an injunction of the state’s labeling law finding in International Dairy Foods Association v. Amestoy that without compelling health or safety reasons, the state could not compel speech from dairy producers in the form of labeling. Judges Altimari and McLaughlin wrote for the majority. “Were consumer interest alone sufficient, there is no end to the information that states could require manufacturers to disclose about their production methods.” Supporters wrote the bill with a lengthy preamble that attempts to justify the labeling by pointing to a lack of independent safety testing by FDA, the potential of GMOs to reduce biodiversity and contaminate organic foods, and the possibility that consumers could get confused by a lack of labeling. The Senate Judiciary Committee also amended the GMO labeling bill with provisions to create a special fund for the defense and implementation of the measure, including state funding and private donations.
The Louisiana House Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development unanimously approved two bills, HB 886 and HB 1045, that addressed the Louisiana rice check-off programs that fund vital research and promotion efforts. The state Supreme Court ruled that portions of the rice statutes were unconstitutional. The overwhelming majority of rice producers in the state have been continuing to fund the check-off voluntarily. Owen said a compromise was included in the bills to create a refund option for growers who do not wish to support the research and promotion programs.
In the months following passage of a federal farm bill that gave the green light to certain types of industrial-hemp cultivation and research, legislators in at least two Midwestern states have adopted new laws of their own. Indiana’s SB 357 permits the production of industrial hemp. Under the measure, individuals interested in growing hemp are required to obtain a license and subject to periodic inspections. Nebraska’s LB 1001 allows post-secondary institutions and the state Dept of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. The department must develop regulations and certify sites where the hemp is grown. The new federal farm bill allows state departments of agriculture, colleges and universities to grow hemp for research purposes — provided state law allows for hemp cultivation. North Dakota has allowed industrial-hemp production for several years. However the federal government does not acknowledge state authority to regulate industrial hemp and does not distinguish between it and marijuana. As a result, those seeking to grow hemp must secure a state-issued license as well as approval from the U.S. DEA.
The Connecticut Supreme Court issued a decision in a case involving liability for a biting injury a boy suffered at a farm when trying to pet a horse. Affirming a decision of a lower court, the state Supreme Court found that an owner or keeper of a domestic animal has a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent injuries that are foreseeable because the animal belongs to a class of animals, such as horses, that is “naturally inclined” to cause such injuries, regardless of whether the animal had previously caused an injury. Accordingly, the owner may be held liable for negligence if he or she fails to take reasonable steps and an injury results. The court said that issue must be decided on a case-by-case basis, and therefore, the case was sent to the trial court for an individual determination of whether the defendant was negligent. Legislation supported by the horse industry and the governor is pending in Connecticut to declare that horses are not inherently vicious or dangerous in civil liability cases. The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will consider the extent to which state licensure boards are subject to federal antitrust laws. In the case, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that decisions of the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners related to unauthorized and unlawful practice are subject to federal antitrust law.
Colorado SB 39 allows an emergency medical service provider to provide pre-veterinary emergency care to dogs and cats. District of Columbia B 20 153 makes several changes to the veterinary practice act, including new licensing rules for veterinary facilities, certification of euthanasia technicians and adding a certified veterinary technician to the Board of Veterinary Medicine. Indiana HB 1013 provides that in certain circumstances related to public health and safety, an animal’s veterinary medical records must be released within five business days. Maryland HB 73 and SB 247 overturn a court decision from April 2012 and reinstate the prior law that liability for damages caused by a dog is determined without regard to the breed or heritage of the dog. Mississippi SB 2177 removes controlled substances dispensed by a veterinarian from drugs required to be reported to and monitored by the Board of Pharmacy. Mississippi SB 2727 allows for the creation of a trust to provide for an animal after the owner’s death. South Dakota SB 46 makes some animal cruelty violations Class 6 felonies, meaning that all states now have felony penalties for animal cruelty. Tennessee HB 1796 categorizes artificial insemination of livestock as an accepted livestock management practice, therefore exempt from the definition of practice of veterinary medicine. Utah SB 120 exempts an employee of an animal shelter from the requirement to be licensed as a veterinarian to administer a rabies vaccination to a shelter animal. Virginia HB 972 makes the state the 24th to allow a court to include possession of a companion animal in a protective order. West Virginia HB 4393 creates a regulatory process for prohibiting and issuing permits for possession of dangerous wild animals.
The Animal Agriculture Alliance is now taking registration for its 13th annual Stakeholders Summit, to be held May 8-9 in Crystal City, VA. This year, the Alliance’s showcase event will explore the theme of “Cracking the Millennial Code." The Summit is a one-of-a-kind conference that is attended by a diverse group of decision makers.
Animal Ag Alliance
Wisconsin’s eight-year-old Livestock Siting Rule which regulates land use across the state, is up for review this year. “The original intent of the rule was to help stimulate animal agriculture in Wisconsin by making the permitting process more uniform, more predictable, and based on sound science," said Ward, who authored the bill that led to ATCP 51 as a Wisconsin legislator in 2003. Prior to the rule, each county issued land use permits based on different criteria. "Producers, their lenders, and local government now have a permitting process that creates outcomes rather than lawsuits.”
Nebraska has great potential to expand its livestock industry, but obstacles remain. That’s the conclusion of a report on livestock expansion from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr. Ronnie Green, vice president for agriculture and natural resources says Nebraska has several advantages to offer livestock producers, including extensive water resources and the synergy created by the production of corn, ethanol and cattle. The UNL report outlines several scenarios for livestock growth, including a 25 % increase in the swine finishing sector, a doubling of dairy cows in the state (from 60,000 to 120,000 head), a tripling of egg-layer production, and a ten % increase in feed cattle numbers. “As the state’s land-grant university, we are hoping to use this report as a way to start a statewide conversation about this potential, understanding that all Nebraska citizens have a stake in this matter,” says Green.
Delaware growers are the first on the East Coast able to take advantage of a new online tool that helps protect sensitive crops from pesticides that may drift due to wind or weather. Delaware is the newest participant in the DriftWatch program, which allows growers of certain crops or commercial beekeepers to alert pesticide applicators of sensitive areas before they spray. “Proper pesticide use is an important part of agriculture, and we are pleased to provide this new tool to help applicators and growers communicate and share information,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. Ten states are participating in the program, with most in the Midwest and West.
Bad news for chickens. Good news for chicken farmers and locavores. Rhode Island's only USDA regulated slaughterhouse for poultry opened for business. The remodeled facility at Baffoni’s Poultry Farm offers farms and backyard farmers a local option to slaughter chickens and turkeys, and with the new USDA label to sell them to retailers and restaurants and across state lines. Without the federal seal, small farmers are only permitted to sell meats directly to the public from their farm or at famers markets. “
The state Superior Court has pumped new life into a long-running court battle between the owners of a York County farm and 34 neighbors who claimed the spreading of sewage sludge on the farm made their lives a smelly hell. The case seemed to have died when a county judge granted a summary judgment motion filed by the defendants in the case, including Hilltop Farms of New Freedom, and dismissed the neighbors' suit in December of 2012.
Poultry processor Allen Harim Foods has defended its right to convert a former Vlasic pickle plant into a poultry processing plant in an industrialized area in Millsboro. Protecting Our Indian River, a grassroots citizens group, filed a lawsuit against Allen Harim and the Sussex County Board of Adjustment in an effort to halt the project. In its answering brief filed in Superior Court, Allen Harim disputes the citizens group's assertion that the board inadequately scrutinized the application and did not seek necessary expert testimony from state environmental officials. In September 2013, the county board of adjustment approved a special-use exception for the parcel, which could pave the way for the chicken-processing plant. “The applicant presented significant evidence that the public health, safety, morals and general welfare will be properly protected and that necessary safeguards will be provided for the protection of water areas or surrounding property,” the Allen Harim brief states. The brief also notes that Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Deputy Secretary David Small said the agency had no objection to the board of adjustment granting a special-use exception to Allen Harim.
Mid-sized farmers are stuck in the middle – too conventional and “toxic” for the foodies, too small to matter to Big Ag corporations. How do you participate in the food debate without becoming part of the menu? Or, with friends like these, who needs aliens? It’s getting harder and harder to exchange information in America. No one seems to be speaking the same language. Special-interest buzz around every issue is almost indecipherable. Even worse, everyone wants to talk, but no one wants to listen. People who should be my friends – the ones who write editorials for big-city newspapers or best-selling books on food, and their foodie followers – should want to be buddies with guys like me. Family farmers should be at the head of the table. Instead, these folks are putting us on the menu. That’s what Lorraine Lewandrowski just talked about on Daily Yonder last week when New Yorkers forgot to include farmers in their talk about food. But it’s not just the foodies who like to see my head on a plate. On the other end of the spectrum, big government, big agriculture and big corporations would like to be rid of me, too, because I’m not big enough to affect their bottom line. We’ve been alienated.
I’m considered non-essential to one group, and too modern and efficient to be considered “colorful” by the other. I grow corn and soybeans, awful things ... and cattle! Those ruminant, atmosphere-polluting beasts that make meat and milk. Much is said about cattle and methane emissions. For some people, folks like Wendell Berry or New York Times columnist Mark Bittman are prophets. For others, they’re entertainers – a nice evening companion to roast rack of lamb with potatoes. But to my diminished neighbor-base, they’re out of touch with reality and invisible. Few people in my world have ever heard of them. Fewer still would care what they have to say. On any scale though, farmers like me are no better than microbes in a digestive apparatus, laboring in the gut of the nation to grow crops our world demands.
The big boost in ag land values drove a nearly $21 billion increase in the state’s real property valuation for the year. Growth in the value of Nebraska residential and commercial property was modest by comparison. The tremendous growth in ag land values over the past six years has produced a significant shift in the property tax load carried by the state’s farmers and ranchers. In 2008, ag land represented less than 23 % of Nebraska’s overall property tax value, and now it’s about 33 %. Residential property, meanwhile, dropped from 51 % to 42 % over the same period. Rempe said about 45,000 Nebraskans are actively involved in farming and ranching, which represents less than 3 % of the state’s population.
The State of Hawaii Environmental Council is issuing a call for state agencies to increase pesticide investigation and enforcement and for the State Legislature to provide adequate funding. The Environmental Council brought together stakeholders from all sides of the pesticide debate to find common ground on how the State can better regulate the use of pesticides.
State agricultural crews will begin eradicating colonies of little fire ants within about a 4-acre area of Waimanalo. During a briefing about little fire ants, state Agriculture Department officials said the colonies, pinpointed by a survey, will be controlled and eradicated in about a year.
Drones are still most known for their use by the U.S. military, but they are beginning to get more attention from state legislators and others who set domestic policy. The recent activity in Illinois is a case in point. As state Rep. Norine Hammond describes it, some rural constituents voiced concerns to her about plans by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to use what it called “air angels”: drones that could be deployed to let “hunters know that someone may be watching —and recording — them” and that could expose “hunters’ dirty secrets.” Illinois lawmakers responded to those concerns by passing HB 1652, a first-of-its-kind bill that regulates drone use by individuals. Under the new law, it is now a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois to use a drone in a way that “interferes with another person’s lawful taking of wildlife or aquatic life. In all, 45 states have introduced legislation to regulate such activity. In North Dakota, legislators jumped on the prospect of the state becoming a test site for Federal Aviation Administration unmanned- aircraft systems. With SB 2018, they authorized spending $1 million to pursue such a designation. The same bill also provided $4 million to operate the site. North Dakota has since been chosen as one of six research sites.
There are still multiple endings that could be put on the raw-milk story told during the 2014 state legislative season. One popular theory is that the foodies and libertarians have joined hands in a great coalition to pass bills to legalize unpasteurized milk across the land. These theorists point to 40 bills introduced in 23 statehouses during the current legislative season. Another possibility is that not all that much has changed in 2014 except for the fact that raw milk advocates are now more visibly split in their ranks on the direction their movement should take. After Wisconsin’s “raw milk outlaw” Vernon Hershberger was found not guilty of operating without various licenses at the infamous Baraboo trial last year, his vocal opposition to GOP state Sen. Glenn Grothman’s bill to make licensed raw milk sales legal in Wisconsin became symbolic of the split. All states are equal, but not when it comes to raw milk.
Food Safety News
Keepers lose high percentage of honey makers over winter. The number of beekeepers in north central Ohio is on the rise, as more and more hobbyists are taking up the sweet activity. Unfortunately, the honeybees themselves are continuing to experience a sharp decline in their numbers
A slow change in agricultural practices is having an unintended consequence: limiting food for bees. Since the 1980s, Vermont has lost more than 100,000 acres of hay fields that used to be full of bee friendly blooming alfalfa and clover. That means bees today aren’t finding as many flowering plants as they need to flourish. And while hay is still grown, it is often cut before it can bloom, making it more nutritious for cows but bad for bees. The decrease in hay fields — in line with the overall dwindling number of farms in the state — is just one factor affecting bees. Mites, viruses, bacteria and pesticides have also contributed to the bees’ decline. On top of that, colony collapse disorder has caused about a third of bees to die each winter since 2006.
The USDA's WASDE report released on April 9 projected corn stocks at the end of the current marketing year at 1.331 billion bushels. The projection of year ending stocks has declined for five consecutive months and is now 556 million bushels smaller than the November 2013 projection. Compared to consumption projections made in November, current projections are 100 million bushels larger for corn used for ethanol production, 350 million bushels larger for exports, and 100 million bushels larger for feed and residual use. There have been minor changes in the estimate of stocks at the beginning of the marketing year, the projection of imports, and the projection of other domestic consumption.
Corn is the most common grain in the U.S., it had been ungrowable in the fertile farmland of Canada’s breadbasket. That is changing as a warming climate, along with the development of faster-maturing seed varieties, turns the table on food cultivation. The Corn Belt is being pushed north of what was imaginable a generation ago. Growing seasons on the Canadian prairie have lengthened about two weeks in the past half-century. The mean annual temperature is likely to climb by as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit in the region by 2050. In Canada, that means amber waves of wheat are giving way to green fields of corn. Farmers sowed a record 405,000 acres of corn in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta last year, double the amount two years earlier and almost eight times what it was 20 years ago.
A 50-year plan for managing water in Kansas is likely to include regional conservation rules and greater use of the Missouri River for the state's residents. The officials said the plan isn't likely to suggest imposing a single set of statewide regulations or water conservation targets because participants in dozens of meetings have wanted to retain some local control. The officials also said there's widespread interest in public education about water issues and concerns about the eroding storage capacity of the 13 federal reservoirs in Kansas, which are tied to the public water supplies for about two-thirds of the state's residents. There's also a sense that Kansas isn't fully using the Missouri River, along its northeast border. But team members aren't sure the plan will mention a decades-old proposal to build an aqueduct from the river to western Kansas.
Central Arizona has a rich history of agriculture, contributing $9.2 billion toward the state’s economy. That water has near-absolute power in determining the region’s fate is not an over-reaching assumption. With increasing urban development and an uncertain climate, is this industry doomed or can it be sustained? Researchers at Arizona State University have been studying the issue, talking to farmers about how to keep their industry on a sustainable path. They argue that a mutually inclusive and ongoing conversation among the agricultural community, urban residents, water agencies and policymakers is necessary if the region would like to maintain an agrarian footprint in the future. The scientists found that most farmers in the region are educated, motivated, entrepreneurial producers who are eager to learn more about water conservation and irrigation improvement programs to ensure that agriculture remains an integral part of the state’s future. Yet, they feel they lack a voice.
Arizona State University
Net farm income is forecast to be $95.8 billion in 2014, down 26.6 % from 2013’s forecast of $130.5 billion. The 2014 forecast would be the lowest since 2010, but would remain $8 billion above the previous 10-year average. After adjusting for inflation, 2013’s net farm income is expected to be the highest since 1973. In comparison, the 2014 net farm income forecast would be the seventh highest. Net cash income is forecast at $101.9 billion, down almost 22 % from the 2013 forecast (see table on farm income indicators Excel icon (16x16)). Net cash income is projected to decline less than net farm income primarily because it reflects the sale of more than $6 billion in carryover stocks from 2013. Net farm income reflects only the earnings from production that occurred in the current year.
Fifty-two locations out of a total of 97 that store 10,000 pounds or more of AN in the state store the chemical in wood frame structures similar to West, Connealy said. Federal investigators and others determined that had West Fertilizer stored AN in a concrete structure away from seed and other materials and had a working sprinkler system, the explosion may not have occurred.
State House Committee Hears Proposals on Fertilizer Rule Changes. Texas State Rep. Dan Flynn has heard from old-timers in rural areas who say they remember welding close to nearby ammonium nitrate stockpiles -- never thinking twice about whether it was risky. Then came the West Fertilizer Co. explosion last spring in West, Texas. "Why haven't we seen more of these kinds of incidents?" Flynn, asked Texas Fire Marshal Chris Connealy during a special AN safety hearing. "Is it just luck?" Although AN has been stored in the state for decades, Connealy said there have been relatively few accidents similar to West. "Quite frankly, yes," Connealy said in response to the question. "I can't tell you why there hasn't been more accidents." Committee Chairman Rep. Joseph Pickett, said the committee's sole purpose is to consider legislative and other changes to promote public safety with AN. "The one-year anniversary is coming up, but I worry that will anyone cover this on a second anniversary?" he said.
This past week Yahoo’s education department released another article “5 Careers That Are In Crisis”. Those who work in the Agriculture Industry may have been shocked to learn that the number one career facing extinction, according to the article is ‘Farmer, Rancher and other Agricultural Manager.’ Those who work in agriculture know that there are a number of shortages for different types of skilled workers? So, how can these two realities co-exist? The statistics are correct, traditional farmer and rancher jobs will decline by 19% between 2012 and 2022. Very few people in the agricultural industry would argue that the small mom and pop ‘farmer’ career is declining, but does that one career define the entire agriculture industry? According to the US Department of Labor, it does. The Department of Labor defines agriculture solely as on farm work. Not taking into account the allied careers that support the work of the farmer.
March storms increased snowpack in the northern half of the West but didn’t provide much relief for the dry southern half. Washington, most of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and northern parts of Colorado and Utah are expected to have near normal or above normal water supplies. Far below normal streamflow is expected for southern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah and western Nevada.
Farmers in Eastern Washington are preparing to spend $48 million to bring water from the Columbia River to their farms, replacing water from the declining aquifer. Construction is expected to begin this summer. The system will be an 8-mile pipe with branch lines that will provide roughly 26,000 acre-feet of water each year to irrigate 14,000 acres. The association secured funding commitments from 12 irrigators or secondary parties for the system, which is the first of four planned. Costs range from $2,500 to $4,500 per acre, depending on the farmland’s elevation and proximity to the canal.
State and federal water agencies unveiled a comprehensive drought management plan for California on April 9 but didn't increase allocations for agriculture. They said new allocations could be made in the next couple of weeks, but added many demands exist for a water supply that is still historically scarce.
Wall Street Journal
Organic egg production in the U.K. fell by 8.2 % during the first three quarters of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012, despite a high degree of consumer acceptance. Organic eggs accounted for 5.3 % of all supermarket egg sales in 2013 - second only to yogurt in terms of market penetration among fresh food categories. More producers left organic production through the year, skeptical about future prospects in the face of rising costs and tightening standards, raising the prospect of supply shortages. A significant factor in the drop in production has been the tightening of EU organic standards, with some producers choosing to drop out of organic production rather than incur higher costs. Supply shortages are beginning to appear in the U.K. market for organic eggs as consumer demand is continuing to rise.
At the same time as producers were paying a high price for their feed, some stores in Germany were selling eggs for as little as 89 cents for 10. One of the country's larger chains, promoted Planet Earth eggs, pushing an ethical message, but at the same time it was selling eggs at a price that was simply not sustainable. Barn eggs in the Netherlands were now being sold at the same price cage eggs had been sold for in the past. "Producers are losing money. By October 30 to 40 % of producers in Germany will be insolvent. The same is happening in the Netherlands."
Agritourism is an increasingly trendy approach to generating new revenue streams for small farms, but it is also an increasing area of litigation as tourism in farm areas tests the limits of existing statutes, ordinances, and expectations of those who live in the country. Bringing new uses to the farm can generate a host of questions about the nature of the agricultural environment. Those questions have quickly become legal ones.
Farm debt's increased a lot over the last 2 decades. Bad news, right? At the same time, general farm income's grown by even more, resulting in lower average debt-to-asset ratios and fewer farmers leveraged to what's considered "high." The total debt held by U.S. farms grew by just shy of 40% between 1992 and 2011. During that time, the debt-to-asset ratio's gone from 0.13 in 1992, up to 0.15 in 1997 then back to 0.09 in 2011.
Canadian pork producers will receive education kits to instruct them on the new requirements to report the transportation of pigs in Canada. Under amended regulations under Canada's Health of Animals Act, due to take effect July 1, anyone transporting pigs will be required to report the movements to the PigTrace Canada database. Producers have seven days to report information such as destination location, date/time of departure and arrival as well as the vehicle license plate to the PigTrace database. The information must be kept for five years.
By 2050 we’ll need to feed two billion more people. How can we do that without overwhelming the planet? It doesn’t have to be factory farm versus small organic. There’s another way. Step 1: Freeze Agriculture’s footprint. We can no longer afford to increase food production through agricultural expansion. Trading tropical forest for farmland is one of the most destructive things we do to the environment. Step 2: Grow more on farms we’ve got. Using high-tech, precision farming systems, as well as approaches borrowed from organic farming, we could boost yields in these places several times over. Step 3: Use Resources More Efficiently. Advances in both conventional and organic farming can give us more “crop per drop” from our water and nutrients.Step 4: Shift Diets. People in developing countries are unlikely to eat less meat in the near future, given their newfound prosperity, we can first focus on countries that already have meat-rich diets. Step Five: Reduce Waste. Of all of the options for boosting food availability, tackling waste would be one of the most effective.
Alan Krivanek, a tomato breeder for Monsanto, dons a white protective suit, wipes his feet on a mat of disinfectant and enters a greenhouse to survey 80,000 seedlings. He is armed with a spreadsheet that will tell him which ones are likely to resist a slew of diseases. The rest he will discard. Krivanek, 42, is part of a new generation of plant breeders who are transforming the 10,000-year history of plant selection. And their work has quietly become the cutting-edge technology among today’s major plant biotech companies. Instead of spending decades physically identifying plants that will bear fruits of the desired color and firmness, stand up to drought, and more, breeders are able to speed the process through DNA screening. When his tomato plants were just a week old, technicians manually punched a hole in each seedling to get leaf tissue that was taken to a nearby lab, converted into a chemical soup and then scanned for genetic markers linked to desired traits. Krivanek uses the information to keep just 3 % of the seedlings and grow them until they fruit this spring, when he can evaluate fully grown plants, keep a few hundred, sow their seeds and then screen those plants. “I’m improving my odds. Maybe I can introduce to market a real super-hybrid in five years,” Krivanek said. “A predecessor might take a whole career.”
A group of scientists and food activists is seeking to change the rules that govern seeds. They're releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge" that's intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely. It's inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone's proprietary product. Anyone receiving the seeds must pledge not to restrict their use by means of patents, licenses or any other kind of intellectual property. In fact, any future plant that's derived from these open source seeds also has to remain freely available as well. These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you're not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year. Even university breeders operate under these rules. When Goldwin creates a new variety of onions, carrots or table beets, a technology-transfer arm of the university licenses it to seed companies. This brings in money that helps pay for Goldman's work, but he still doesn't like the consequences of restricting access to plant genes — what he calls germplasm.
The present delays by BNSF Railway Co., in moving farm commodities, oil, freight and passengers stands on the edge of being a crisis, especially for ag producers wanting to sell and move corn. The potential for economic loss is large. The railroad has said it will add resources — workers and cars — to make things work. But the delay for grain cars, up to 45 days, continues to stymie farmers, elevators and grain dealers. BNSF needs to do more than talk about fixing the situation. It needs to get it done.
Rail delays throughout the fall and winter brought South Dakota Farmers Union Marshall County President, DuWayne Bosse to Washington D.C. to testify before the Surface Transportation Board. Bosse, a fourth generation family farmer from Britton, discussed concerns farmers currently face due to service problems in the US rail network. “These rail service problems have begun to negatively impact our producers,” he said. “While we understand the challenges that the rail industry faced due to the extreme cold, there is a legitimate concern about how the delays and lack of service are affecting the agriculture industry.” Bosse highlighted three areas of concern facing farmers and the agriculture industry as a whole: market fluctuation, grain storage and capacity. “As a farmer, basis is critical in the marketing of crops. It helps us determine when it is best to sell or hold our crops. We use it as a way to hedge, evaluate cash contracts, and cash prices at a specific point in time. Basis can determine whether or not we make a profit on our grain,” said Bosse.
BNSF Railway Co. will add trains in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Montana solely for transporting fertilizer for spring crop planting, the railroad has told a federal oversight board. "Simply put, we are working to deliver high volumes of fertilizer into the marketplace as quickly as we can," the railroad said in a mandated response to the Surface Transportation Board that was released Thursday.
Fertilizer prices have been increasing in recent months; however, per acre fertilizer costs should be lower in 2014 than in recent years. In this post, monthly prices for anhydrous ammonia, diammonium phosphate (DAP), and potash are shown for 2009 through 2014. In most cases, monthly fertilizer prices in 2014 have been below prices for the 2011, 2012, and 2013 crop years. Prices suggest fertilizer costs for corn of $150 per acre in 2014, compared to costs near $200 per acre in 2012 and 2013.
So much of what we eat and drink in Hawaii is shipped in from somewhere else that our elected and community leaders have stated a priority to increase agricultural production in the islands, a philosophy that has garnered the enthusiastic assent of everyone from schoolchildren, to restaurant chefs to business executives throughout the islands. Now is the time to put the walk to that talk, as forces on Kauai coalesce against Hawai‘i Dairy Farms, which would be the state's first grass-fed dairy operation and effectively double milk production in the state. Backed by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar's Ulupono Initiative, the dairy has been open with the community about its plans, has taken steps to mitigate odor and other concerns, and is well more than two miles away from a major resort that is among those lodging pre-emptive complaints
Over the past couple of decades, global coffee production has been shifting towards a more intensive, less environmentally friendly style, a new study has found. That's pretty surprising if you live in the U.S. and you've gone to the grocery store or Starbucks, where sales of environmentally and socially conscious coffees have risen sharply and now account for half of all U.S. coffee sales by economic value.
With the implementation date for California’s Proposition 2 less than nine months away and with several legal challenges already filed or on the way, Chad Gregory, president, United Egg Producers, said, that he hopes that a plan will be approved and announced at the UEP’s upcoming legislative board meeting in mid-May in Washington, D.C. Gregory reiterated that UEP is no longer working to secure passage of the national hen welfare legislation, the so-called Egg Bill. The implication was left that if the industry takes no action, the future shape of the industry could be decided by outside forces.
Cargill’s meat processing facility in Columbus, Neb., and beef processing facility in Schuyler, Neb., are donating $100,000, including corporate matching funds, to the Columbus Community Hospital’s new health and wellness center. Perdue helps stock Va. Pantries. The Arthur W. Perdue Foundation has donated $10,000 in grant money to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, along with 20,000 pounds of “lean protein products” from Perdue Farms. The combined contribution will enable the Foodbank to distribute close to 40,000 meals.
Forget the Easter Egg Myth that says eggs are safe to eat after the hunt. The truth is eggs are only safe for about two hours at room temperature, be safe and support the egg industry, make extras and keep them in the refrigerator.
The North Carolina State Fair is not liable after more than 100 people became sick after an E. coli outbreak at its petting zoo in 2004, the state appeals court ruled. E. coli is a life-threatening bacterium that is especially dangerous to children under the age of 5. The state's health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced the infection of 108 people to the petting zoo at the state fair in 2004. Jeff Rolan and dozens of others then sued the fair's sponsor, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The North Carolina Industrial Commission ruled in favor of the state, noting that veterinarians prepared for the fair by checking the animals' health and removing those that were sick. Also, a veterinarian posted additional signs warning patients to wash their hands and also added hand sanitizers to the petting zoo area. In light of these facts, the commission determined that the state had taken precautions to protect the health of the patronsA three-judge panel with the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the commission's ruling.
Emerson Poarch Jr., 72, says his father went to his grave incredulous that hunters would pay a fee to run their hounds in a “fox pen.” At issue are foxhound training preserves, as they are officially called, which were established as part of an earlier effort to keep the peace. Inside fenced enclosures averaging 200 acres, hounds pursue wild foxes. Sometimes, as might be expected, the hounds catch and kill the foxes, and that is the latest problem. A new Virginia law passed in March will phase out fox pens over 40 years and toughen regulations in the meantime. However, some animal rights organizations want changes now, and some vow to shut down the fox pens sooner than the law requires, possibly through the courts. They are targeting other states, as well. Over all, there are more than 600 enclosures in almost 20 states. Nearly 60 % are in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. An effort to ban the practice in North Carolina, which has over 130 pens, failed in 2009. Florida prohibited them in 2010. The Virginia legislation was a compromise hammered out by lawmakers, pen operators, the state attorney general’s office and the Humane Society of the United States. It outlaws future fox or coyote enclosures, but grandfathered existing fox pens for the next four decades.
When corporations failed to invest adequately in better broadband service for Montrose, residents decided the service was too important to leave to chance. They voted 3 to 1 to allow the city to play a bigger role in financing and building critical elements of a faster, more accessible network. Their goal is to become one of a handful of gigabit cities in the U.S. In 2005 that right was taken away by corporate Internet giant lobbyists who persuaded the state legislators it would be unfair competition to allow rural areas like mine to provide their own gigabit Internet speeds if the giants refused to do so. The city’s ambition is that every business and premises in the city will have the broadband capacity of Chattanooga and the dozen cities that are getting the same capacity through Google Fiber. It used to be that if a town wanted to prosper, it needed a river, then a railroad, then an Eisenhower Interstate highway, and then a cell phone tower. Today it needs to be a “gigabit city.” One of the amazing things about technology is how it enables communities and countries that are tied to legacy systems to leapfrog their neighbors by adopting the latest tech gadgetry. For example, Bulgaria has faster Internet service than the U.S.
Now, here is a chance to actively change the way this organization operates. On change.org, a petition to the Internal Revenue Service calls for the removal of the HSUS from the non-profit list. You can sign the petition here.
Cant food producers sell their product on its own merits? Latest case in point brought to light by Grazing the Net- “We're throwing a penalty flag on Will Witherspoon for a cheap shot. Oh, we like Witherspoon's passion for beef, but we're not convinced he's committed long-term. That's because he has a lucrative day job as a linebacker for the St. Louis Rams, making about $3.5 million which allowed him to start Shire Gate Farm. where he raises organic and antibiotic-free White Park cattle. Cool. Until he begins promoting his products by criticizing yours: "You have a huge commodity market for factory-farmed beef. These animals are being raised shoulder-to-shoulder in filthy conditions, and the only way they're being kept alive is with antibiotics." Now that quote is the Super Bowl of exaggeration. And what about these sustainable steaks from Shire Gate Farm? They're $28.95 a pound
Grazing the net
What goes into maintaining the local food culture at a time when Big Agriculture and corporate farming dominate? And with no across-the-board definition of "local," just how local is the meat? To shed light on some of these questions, we talked to a Pioneer Valley farmer, a market manager, and the owners of a restaurant, butcher shop and slaughterhouse. Each one described the process -- and challenges -- from his or her perspective.
After years of discussion and inaction, four influential Republican State Senate committee chairmen and one Democratic chairman have signed off on an ambitious bill that would lay the groundwork for a long-term, comprehensive approach to restoring the state’s 38 most important and threatened springs. But the proposal, which has a price tag of $380 million for next year, requires concessions from agriculture, home builders, septic tank owners, property rights advocates and other powerful interests. And the measure poses a difficult test of whether divided Republican legislators have the will to address the problems in a comprehensive way.
The Soy Transportation Coalition is offering money to a dozen state departments of transportation to help offset the cost of upgrading to better, more accurate bridge testing equipment. Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek says bridges that farmers depend on to get crops to market are sometimes unnecessarily posted with weight limits.“We’re suggesting that departments of transportation and local country governments actually utilize and avail themselves of technology that’s on the marketplace but not being widely utilized to help them better decipher the true condition of their bridges,” said Steenhoek. Steenhoek says improved bridge testing technology would result in departments of transportation putting maintenance resources where they’re needed most. He says it will also help avoid situations where trips to the market are lengthened because of the need to avoid bridges that have unnecessary weight limits. The 12 states in line for the financial help are those whose soybean checkoff organizations are members of the Soy Transportation Coalition: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Tennessee.
In 2007, a 13-year-old golden retriever named Alex, who was the subject of a contentious custody suit, was given a court-appointed lawyer to look after his best interests. In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina — during which some people refused to evacuate because they were worried about the fate of their animals — Congress passed a Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, requiring disaster-preparedness plans to account for pets. While early American laws dismissed cats and dogs “as worthless objects that didn’t even warrant the meager legal status of property” — they could be stolen or killed without repercussions — today’s pets, he says, have “become family in the eyes of the law.” State legislatures have passed tough anticruelty acts, imposing fines and prison time on anyone who harms a cat or a dog, and “judges have begun awarding damages for mental suffering and loss of companionship to the owners of slain pets, legal claims typically reserved for the wrongful death of a spouse or child.”
A discussion on the complex relationship between rural communities and our state’s most valuable resource by Marnie Werner, research director Andrew Hayes, research intern Can people who live in the land of 10,000 lakes really have a water problem? The city administrator of Worthington says yes, they can. Worthington, a community of 12,500, sits on busy I-90 in the very southwest corner of the state, not too far from Sioux Falls. It’s an area of high prairie and little groundwater. “Historically, we’ve always been challenged with water, but it’s really acute now,” says Craig Clark, Worthington city administrator. The city is now purchasing 500,000 gallons of water every day from neighboring Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water System while the city’s municipal wells continue to decline. And while the city’s largest business and largest water user, pork processor JBS, has managed to reduce the amount of water it uses per animal, strict USDA standards say the processor cannot use less than a certain amount. Worthington would like to recruit more ag-related businesses, but it’s out of the question right now, Clark says. “The water situation puts us at a competitive disadvantage.” Now a solution Worthington and others in the region have been working toward for years is being threatened by a decrease in federal funding. The massive Lewis and Clark Regional Water System is supposed to deliver water from the Missouri River to twenty cities and rural water systems in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. However, cuts in federal funding have stopped the project dead for the most part, literally at the Minnesota state line. Meanwhile, in the southeast corner of the state, the problem for the city of Lewiston is not quantity of water but quality. One of the city’s two municipal wells is contaminated with nitrates from agricultural runoff while the other well has been found to be contaminated with radium, a heavy metal that occurs naturally in the region’s sandstone bedrock. The city is currently blending water from the two wells to address the nitrate issue but it also needs further upgrades to take care of the radium.
Doesn’t look good for the west
The Central Valley was once one of North America’s most productive wildlife habitats, a 450-mile-long expanse marbled with meandering streams and lush wetlands that provided an ideal stop for migratory shorebirds on their annual journeys from South America and Mexico to the Arctic and back. Farmers and engineers have long since tamed the valley. Of the wetlands that existed before the valley was settled, about 95 % are gone, and the number of migratory birds has declined drastically. But now an unusual alliance of conservationists, bird watchers and farmers have joined in an innovative plan to restore essential habitat for the migrating birds. The program, called BirdReturns, starts with data from eBird, the pioneering citizen science project that asks birders to record sightings on a smartphone app and send the information to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in upstate New York. By crunching data from the Central Valley, eBird can generate maps showing where virtually every species congregates in the remaining wetlands. Then, by overlaying those maps on aerial views of existing surface water, it can determine where the birds’ need for habitat is greatest. The BirdReturns program, financed by the Nature Conservancy, then pays rice farmers in the birds’ flight path to keep their fields flooded with irrigation water from the Sacramento River as migrating flocks arrive.
NeighborWorks Rural Initiative focuses on building the capacity of rural community development organizations in the areas of housing and economic development activities. The initiative advocates a mixed market approach to strengthen communities with smaller populations by integrating them within larger regional economies. Find the NeighborWorks organization closest to you.
Easter Seals Wisconsin’s Farm Assessment and Rehabilitation Methods program has been named a finalist in a national rural health competition for its innovative work to help self-employed farmers continue to operate and work on their farms despite disabling injuries and illnesses.
The millennial generation is entering the labor force with one trait in common: they watched as the Great Recession dramatically reshaped the landscape of employment, housing, and their overall expectations. "The Great Recession has reshaped many millennials' plans and opportunities," wrote Carter. One big difference is that millennials are not getting married or buying homes at the rate of previous generations. In 2012, 36 % of 18- to 31-year olds lived in their parents' home, according to data from Pew Research Center. Among the same age group, just 25 % were married, compared to 30 % in 2007.
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
State workforce development agencies are crucial in deploying federal funding related to job training and placement. In this Economic Development podcast, Rich Hobbie of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and Burt Barnow of George Washington University explore how these agencies are evolving as funding streams change.
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Discusses rural children and poverty rates. Authors report that nearly half (48.6 %) of black children and just over four in ten (41.7 %) Hispanic children across rural America live below the poverty threshold.
Darrold Bertsch, CEO of Sakakawea Medical Center and Coal Country Community Health Center, Hazen, N.D., discusses how a rural critical access hospital and federally qualified health center (FQHC) can work in an integrated and collaborative setting to provide better service to their communities.
The Center for Public Integrity wins a well-deserved Pulitzer for its investigation of the corrupt black-lung benefits program. But the political leaders who claim to be on the side of coal miners should have been paying attention long before the reporters made a national story out this disgraceful state of affairs.
Dark-fired tobacco is one of the nation's oldest and richest cash crops, and notoriously precarious. The new five-episode series TOBACCO WARS takes an unfiltered look inside the lives of fourth and fifth generation Adairville, Ky. farmers who BET everything they have on the high-stakes dark fire industry,
Animal rights groups have pressured nearly all large commercial air carriers from shipping nonhuman primates (NHP) for research purposes. As of this writing, Air France is the ONLY airline shipping NHPs for research. Despite continued targeting and mounting pressure from animal activists, Air France remains committed to supporting biomedical research to advance human and animal health by continuing to transport these important research animals.
Politicians running for statewide office routinely promise to reduce property taxes, which are actually set at the local level by local officials. Instead of focusing on the real problem, which is overspending at the local level, governors and legislators promise to increase state aid to local units anticipating that the funds will be used to limit the growth in property taxes and local spending. This approach has proved futile in terms of economic outcomes. Between 2000 and 2011 as a share of gross domestic product, the 26 states that increased state aid to local government raised property taxes by a median of 0.31 percentage points while the 24 states that reduced state aid to local units expanded property taxes by a smaller 0.26 percentage points. Furthermore over the same time period, the same 26 states that increased state aid boosted local spending by 1.05 percentage points while the same 24 states that reduced state aid enlarged local spending by a smaller 0.27 percentage points. Thus, past data show that not only did state aid not provide property tax relief, as customarily promised, property tax burdens and overall local spending actually rose more quickly for states that grew state aid more swiftly. What should state policymakers do instead? States should limit the increase state aid to local nits to the growth local population plus the increase in prices. This action would tend to reduce state tax burdens and encourage local political leaders to limit growth in local spending.
Areas where landscape shifts from urban to rural or forest to farmland may have a higher likelihood of severe weather and tornado touchdowns, a Purdue University study says. An examination of more than 60 years of Indiana tornado climatology data from the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center showed that a majority of tornado touchdowns occurred near areas where dramatically different landscapes meet - for example, where a city fades into farmland or a forest meets a plain.
Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter forest conditions and management needs in the Northern United States have been outlined in a new report. "The northern quadrant of the United States includes 172 million acres of forest land and 124 million people," said one researcher. This report "is helping identify the individual and collective steps needed to ensure healthy and resilient futures for trees and people alike.
Wildfires across the west have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years. The total area these fires burned increased at a rate of nearly 90,000 acres a year -- an area the size of Las Vegas, according to the study. Individually, the largest wildfires grew at a rate of 350 acres a year, the new research says.
During his run for mayor, Bill de Blasio pledged to eradicate the Central Park horse-drawn carriage business. He called the industry inhumane, and proposed to replace the retired horses with electric-powered replicas of vintage cabs. Since taking office, he has not agreed to meet with the operators or hear their views. The majority of New Yorkers, however, do not agree with him. The latest poll shows that 64 % of New Yorkers polled support the horse carriages.
Ammunition manufacturers say point blank the problem is a matter of supply and demand for certain calibers, but many shooters don’t buy such a simple answer. “Every week I hear someone blame the federal government,” said George Orr, at the Spokane Valley White Elephant Store. “The latest rumor is that the Postal Service is buying a bunch of ammo. Mike Bazinet, National Shooting Sports Foundation public affairs director, dismisses rumors that the federal Department of Homeland Security has been stocking up and hoarding ammunition. “A federal report from the GAO two months ago said DHS purchases actually are lower than in the past,” he said. Recent news about the U.S. Postal Service stockpiling ammo was blown out of proportion on the Internet, he said. “It was for a small law enforcement arm of postal inspectors, not for mail carriers,” he said, noting the purchases were insignificant to the market. Bazinet said the bottom line for ammunition shortages is consumer demand. Increased sales triggered even more demand as shooters stockpiled as much ammunition as they could get their hands on, he said.
The goat, named "Gluca," is the first of its kind in South America. It has been genetically modified to produce the enzyme glucocerebrosidase. Gaucher's disease is a rare human genetic condition caused by hereditary deficiency of that enzyme. People with Gaucher's—which can manifest itself with fatigue, bruising, anemia, low blood platelets and an enlarged liver and spleen—often are treated with drugs and bone marrow transplants but still face pain and often poor long-range health prospects.
Brown was charged by the Maine Department of Agriculture with selling raw milk without a license and two other violations in 2011. After the parties failed to settle the case in mediated negotiations, Hancock Superior Court Judge Ann Murray issued a summary judgment in April 2013 in favor of the Department; she upheld her decision in June, fined Brown $1,000 and subsequently denied a motion to stay judgment pending Brown’s appeal to the Maine Supreme Court.
When the weather warms and the South Carolina humidity hangs like a soggy blanket along the coast, you can often find an entrepreneur selling shrimp out of the back of a pickup truck by the road with a hand-scrawled sign promoting it as both fresh and local. There's a chance it's neither. And the fresh, local, red snapper you order as you watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico from the deck of a seafood place in Florida may just turn out to be none of the above. In a nation where 92 % of seafood is imported and labeling fraud is rife, both state and federal lawmakers are moving to pass laws to help make sure customers are getting the seafood they are paying for. A seafood labeling law in the South Carolina General Assembly would mean that, among other things, what is advertised as fresh local shrimp is what it says -- not imported and frozen. It would make it a misdemeanor to intentionally mislabel seafood. A bill introduced this year by Maryland state delegate Eric Luedtke imposes penalties for intentionally mislabeling seafood like the Chesapeake Bay's iconic blue crab. And the governor of Washington last year signed a bill requiring all processed fish and shellfish to be labeled by their common names to avoid confusing consumers.
To some, banning chocolate milk from elementary schools seemed like a good idea, but new Cornell University research shows that removing chocolate milk from school menus has negative consequences. “When schools ban chocolate milk, we found it usually backfires. On average, milk sales drop by 10 %, 29 % of white milk gets thrown out, and participation in the school lunch program may also decrease,” reports Andrew Hanks,research associate at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. “This is probably not what parents wanted to see.” Nutritionally, after the milk substitution, students consumed less sugar and fewer calories; however, they also consumed less protein and calcium. Here’s what the behavioral economics experts propose: “Put the white milk in the front of the cooler, and make sure that at least one-third to half of all the milk is white. We’ve found that this approach can increase sales by 20 % or more.”
Food is so fundamental to human life that it stirs our passions like few other subjects. For the most part that's a good thing: Humanity needs all the passion we can muster if we're going to solve the problem of feeding 10 billion people just 35 years from now. But solid information, science, and reason are essential to solving this challenge too, and I'm afraid that they sometimes take a back seat to emotion. So from time to time in these blog posts, I want to offer my perspective on the myths that sometimes circulate about our business and the science behind the facts. The truth is that many claims about what we do have less substance than the Tooth Fairy ... and bring even less value. I sometimes read, for example, that genetically modified crops aren't needed to feed the world. Since my company, Monsanto, is a leader in the development of GMO seeds, we pay close attention to the facts about GMO crops. The fundamental facts are these: By 2050, the world will need to produce somewhere between 70 % to 100 % more food to meet demand, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Moreover, we will need to do this sustainably, so we can feed humanity again in 2051, and all the years thereafter. That means we have to figure out how to do it in ways that allow farmers to most efficiently use our planet's precious and finite resources. And we must do all this at a time when the climate is changing.
The most popular of these reports was his story on the testing of honey purchased from retail stores all over the country: Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey: Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins. We call it the “bogus honey story,” and I caught up with Andrew about it because, this past week, the FDA came out with new “draft guidance” for the honey industry on “Proper Labeling of Honey and Honey Products.” The crux of the issue is that when the pollen, those microscopic particles from deep inside the flower, are totally removed, there’s no way to tell if the “honey” came from a legitimate and safe source. Pollen is removed from honey by a process known as ultra-filtering, in which honey is heated, sometimes watered down, and then forced through micro-filters with high pressure. Once the pollen is removed, it opens the door to illegal dumping of honey measured by the tonnage. For years, the Chinese have illegally dumped into the U.S. market millions of dollars worth of their “honey,” which is often exposed to illegal antibiotics. They have a harder time getting their “laundered” honey into places such as Europe because many world food-safety authorities say that ultra-filtered honey missing its pollen is no longer honey. Those countries insist on being able to determine the origin of the honey being sold within their national boundaries. This is probably where you expect me to say that, with the new draft guidance, we are shortly going to know where our honey comes from. But, sadly, FDA has no intention of closing the bogus honey loophole.
Food safety news
Researchers at the University of North Carolina published a paper that introduced another wrinkle into the debate about childhood obesity. They disputed recent findings that obesity among young children had fallen since 2004, arguing that a longer view — using data all the way back to 1999 — showed that these youngsters were not really getting any thinner. So which view is correct? The answer seems to be both. Obesity has become a major health problem, affecting about 17 % of Americans ages 2 to 19, up from about 5 % in the early 1970s. The rate rose for years but then leveled off, and the current debate centers on whether obesity has begun to decline in the youngest of these children.
Record-high prices for U.S. beef burgers and pork chops are helping to make 2014 the most profitable year ever for chicken producers.
“While claims using the term ‘natural’ have increasingly come under fire for lack of clarity regarding definition, the use of additive-free and preservative-free claims has been able to move forward relatively unhindered,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation for Innova Market Insights. “Interest in naturalness is still highly evident, however, and is also reflected in the growing use of G.M.-free labeling, although it remains relatively limited on a global scale.” Nearly 13 % of global food and beverage introductions in 2013 used an additive- or preservative-free claim, up from 10 % in 2008, according to the market research firm.
Our beef consumes more grass than Willie Nelson
For years, visitors to the Scottish island of Rum were puzzled to find the bodies of Manx shearwater chicks missing their heads, wingbones and leg bones. Then a few years ago, a hunter saw a red deer chewing on a chick. Scientists used that sighting to give them clues, and now it seems clear that the deer are eating parts of the chicks to give them the calcium they need to grow strong antlers This isn’t the only instance of supposed vegetarians eating meat. There are bird-eating sheep in the Shetland islands. In the U.S. the miniature video cameras biologists use to monitor nests are revealing that white tail deer eat both eggs and birds. Canadian bird researchers capturing songbirds in mist nets were astonished to see deer eating the birds right out of the nets. It all makes sense when we think about how animals choose what to eat. When they experience a deficiency, such as calcium or phosphorous, animals experiment with new foods.
A recent New York Times article linked the use of antibiotics in food animals with human obesity. I was asked how to respond to this issue. As with more than one “hot topic” this issue has very little science to support the position but manages to connect actual facts with current issues. If you do not know how to read between the lines, this article in the New York Times Review on March 8, it is very convincing. The new theory is that use of antibiotics to increase growth in animals led to obesity in humans. By definition, antibiotics kill off bacteria and in turn, change the population in the intestine. Among the bacteria lost are the ones that we need to stay healthy. While the article notes that meat is not the cause, it sets the stage for another attack on animal agriculture.
A national survey has identified the leading questions consumers have about genetically modified organisms and how food is grown. The survey was conducted in order to identify, for the first time, the top 10 questions consumers have about GMOs and to open up the conversation on biotechnology's role in agriculture. Over the next several weeks, scientists, farmers, doctors and other experts will answer one of the top 10 questions each week on the GMO Answers website and via Twitter.
Dawn Bicoy, community affairs manager for Monsanto Molokaʻi issued a statement saying the company will be mounting “an aggressive campaign against this initiative,” saying it would “devastate our county’s fragile agricultural economy.” Bicoy said the initiative is based on what he called “false claims that are not supported at all by the overwhelming body of scientific evidence.” Monsanto representatives say biotech crops are “critical to making food available and affordable to the world while also protecting crops threatened by disease, like Hawaii’s own papaya.”
It’s tornado season, the springtime tempest, which means the Big Empty of the US will get another cameo on the nation’s stage. Prepare for the annual montage of heartbreak and houses tossed to the wind, of schools scalped of their roofs and trailer parks reduced to rubble. What most of us know about the heartland barely extends beyond Dorothy’s house in Kansas. That’s a shame, because there are two big stories shaping the Great Plains — one of steroidal growth and disruption in the energy boom, the other of the slow death of small-town life. Incongruent as it seems, both are going on at the same time, in the same states. The oil and natural gas bonanza has made housing in places like Minot, N.D., as competitive as rent-controlled apartments in Manhattan. Of the nation’s 10 fastest-growing metro areas last year, six were in the greater Great Plains, according to the Census Bureau. For all of that, a record one in three of the nation’s counties are dying off — more deaths than births. The emptying of America is happening in Maine and West Virginia, in Michigan, western Pennsylvania and upstate New York. But the most depopulated area is right down the midsection of the United States.
Manufacturers of baked goods are reaching a point where calls to cuts salts, fats and sugars in products are becoming detrimental to the quality of their products, a bakery manager has said.
A federal judge has agreed to allow the Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and several other organizations to join a lawsuit to defend Kauai County’s restrictions on genetically modified farming. Syngenta and other seed corporations are suing Kauai County over Ordinance 960, formerly Bill 2491, which requires the companies to disclose certain details about their use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms, as well as adhere to pesticide buffer zones around homes, roads, parks and other areas. Judge Barry Kurren ruled Monday that the Center for Food Safety, Surfrider Foundation, Pesticide Action Network North America and Ka Makani Hoopono are allowed to join the lawsuit to defend the Kauai law, which is set to take effect in August. The decision strengthens the county’s defense, which was hindered by lack of support from the mayor and the county’s budget constraints.
In the debate over genetically modified crops, one oft-said word is “unnatural.” People typically use it when describing how scientists move genes from one species into another. But nature turns out to be its own genetic engineer. Genes have moved from one species of plant to another for millions of years. Scientists describe a spectacular case this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which ferns acquired a gene for sensing light from a moss-like plant called hornwort. Gaining the gene appears to have enabled the ferns to thrive in shady forests.
Director James Moll says he’s pleasantly surprised by the public reaction so far to the film Farmland. Moll talked about the Atlanta premier of the feature-length documentary that follows the lives of young farmers and ranchers. “We had a Q&A afterward; everybody stayed for it and they asked a lot of questions and they wanted to know more about each one of the farmers,” said Moll, during a conference call with reporters Thursday morning. “And for me, that’s a good sign; that means that I did my job and I was able to introduce people to farmers in a way that they haven’t been introduced to in the past.”
The concept of community orchards dates back to 1992 in England, when the community stepped forward to save an abandoned orchard. In that instance, it was an attempt to preserve green space, old varieties of fruit, local history and a beautiful landscape, according to the National Sustainable Agriculture Service . From that first effort, hundreds of community orchards popped up throughout England, then spread to other parts of Europe. They not only provide fresh, organic produce to the public, but also can be used as an educational tool and a way to share knowledge about local food growing efforts. Seattle is planning what it calls the Beacon Food Forest, which will be a 7-acre edible garden open to the public. In Bloomington, Ill., there is a community orchard where teams select work days, conduct education programs and distribute fruits and nuts. And in Portland, there is the Fruit Tree Project where volunteers pitch in, harvest and distribute to those in need.
Two studies, published today in BMC Genomics, found that the distinct flavour of strawberry has been linked to a specific gene, present in some varieties of the fruit – but not in others. The gene FaFAD1 controls a key flavour volatile compound in strawberries called gamma-decalactone, which is described as “fruity”, “sweet” or “peachy” and contributes to fruit aroma.
To compensate for the high costs for ingredients like beef and avocados, Chipotle Mexican Grill said it would raise menu prices companywide. The company reported an 8.5% increase in first-quarter net income, as more customers flocked to its burrito restaurants, driving up same-store sales. But executives said higher food costs are weighing on profits, resulting in their decision to increase prices by single-digit percentages starting in the current quarter.
Wall Street Journal
Hell Pizza of New Zealand is coming under fire, pun intended, for their latest advertisement. The expanding chain created a specialty pizza just in time for Easter topped with- what else but smoked rabbit. To promote their new product, the company created a billboard with actual rabbit pelts. The larger than life display features the tagline “Made from real rabbit. Like this billboard.” It wasn’t long before the ad began to draw the attention of the internet community, chastising the company for the graphic use of animal skins.
Johnsonville Sausage is asking consumers to nominate the volunteer firefights in their community that they believe illustrates the “greatness of the nation and its spirit for volunteerism,” the company said in a release. The deadline for submissions is May 7
Share of $100 in taxes paid- Defense and Military, $23.68; Social Security, $23.39;Medicare, $14.24, Medicaid, $7.68; Interest $6.41, Veterans Benefits, $4.02; Transportation, $2.65; Civilian Federal Retirement, $2.65; Refundable Tax Credits, $2.43, SNAP, $2.39; Unemployment Insurance, $2.00; SSI, $1.53, Housing Assistance, $1.35, Education,$1.32; Foreign Aid, $.97; Agriculture, $.85. In order to cover all federal spending, taxpayers would need to pay an additional $24 for every $100 they paid in taxes.
Wall Street Journal
In an April 11 letter to Julie Borlaug, President Obama wrote about how pleased he was to join in celebrating her grandfather's life and his passion for feeding the hungry through biotechnology. “I share his belief that investment in enhanced biotechnology is an essential component of the solution to some of our planet's most pressing agricultural problems,” Obama wrote. “Through our new regional climate change hubs, we will use the sorts of technologies pioneered by your grandfather to help farmers and ranchers face the climate challenges ahead.”
Anyone wondering why the U.S. economy can't seem to grow at its usual pace should examine one product category where production is booming: federal regulation. Washington set a new record in 2013 by issuing final rules consuming 26,417 pages in the Federal Register. While plenty of government employees deserve credit for this milestone, leadership matters. And by this measure President Obama has never been surpassed in the Oval Office.
Wall Street Journal
An environmental group has failed to stop a 2,000-acre thinning project in Oregon's Mount Hood National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service found that thinning was necessary for forest health but the Bark environmental group filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Jazz timber sale last year. The controversy centered on rebuilding about 12 miles of temporary roads, which Bark claimed would reactivate large-scale soil shifts known as “earthflows.” U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez has rejected the group’s claim that the Forest Service inadequately studied this possibility. “At the recommendation of a slope stability specialist, all unstable and potentially unstable areas were examined and eliminated from the project,” said Hernandez.
The most recent ban on equine inspections by USDA meat inspectors has moved the horse slaughter debate up to Canada’s House of Commons. A Member of Parliament from southeastern British Columbia hopes that a final hour of debate next month can persuade the country’s federal lawmakers to pass his bill limiting slaughter only to those horses raised as feed animals with complete medical records.
Food Safety News
If country of origin labeling (COOL) was as simple as just slapping a stamp on a package of meat to inform consumers where their dinner came from it would be easy to support. However, there is nothing simple about COOL. The latest developments in 2014 have been confusing to say the least, but might spell a resolution to the maligned program. To start the year, Congress went to work on the Agricultural Act of 2014, serving as a prime opportunity to repeal COOL. The farm bill was later signed by President Obama on February 7 with no revisions made to the COOL portion of the legislation. A collation of packers and industry groups that had previously taken legal action by filing an injunction in a federal district court to stop COOL from putting in place more stringent rules took their case to the U.S. Court of Appeals. On March 28, a three-judge panel for the Appellate Court reaffirmed the ruling by the district court. A week later, in a startling move, the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the panel’s decision and set a May 19 court date to examine the lawsuit.
When is it safe to sell an animal for meat treated with an antibiotic with a withhold period of 72 hours? In other words, if a cow is treated at 8 a.m. on a Monday, most rational people would assume the it would be safe to ship the animal after 8 a.m. Thursday. But that’s not the way USDA's FSIS and FDA counts. According to the agencies, the withhold period doesn’t start ticking until the following calendar day. So the withhold period actually ends on Friday, not Thursday. To avoid antibiotic residues in meat, FDA regulations also require that animals not the leave the farm until the withholding period ends.
The Bureau of Land Management is under fire again, but this time it's not about going head-to-head with a Nevada rancher. Instead the issue revolves around selling horses for slaughter. The Bureau of Land Management rounded up a horse herd that roamed for decades on federal land in northwest Wyoming and handed the horses over to Wyoming officials. They, in turn, sold the herd to the highest bidder, a Canadian slaughterhouse. Wild horse advocates are incensed, saying they should have had a chance to intercede in the March roundup and auction. But the BLM says the horses were abandoned — not wild — and that it publicized the sale beforehand. The BLM rounds up stray livestock perhaps three or four times a year in the West. Usually they are cattle or sheep. Impoundments of large numbers of stray horses are far less frequent.
Nothing is black and white, and considering this scenario has been playing out for almost two decades, there is a whole lot of gray to wade through in arriving at an accurate picture of what is going on with the BLM and Bundy. For one thing, there seems to be a strong undercurrent of resentment among many landowners in the area against the federal government’s management of public lands. Despite Bundy's arguments having been rejected by two appeals courts, the BLM-Bundy case has morphed into a much wider debate over freedom, personal property, state rights, taxation and government overreach. Of course, reporting on what’s transpiring between Bundy and the BLM in Nevada is shaded somewhat by your political leanings. For instance, MSN News reports that the BLM “began a roundup of the cattle from the Bundy ranch a week ago, contending he owes more than $1 million in back fees, penalties and other costs for grazing his cattle on public land and has ignored court orders. Bundy stopped paying monthly grazing fees in 1993.” Meanwhile, Fox News tells of how “two of Nevada’s top elected leaders are riding to the rescue of a rancher whose decades-long range war with the federal government has reached a boiling point in recent day.
The Nevada Cattlemen’s Association gave extended comments on the controversial cattle gather in southern Nevada involving the BLLM and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, saying it does not condone actions to break federal laws. “(NCA) works hard to change regulations detrimental to the sound management of public lands in a lawful manner and supports the concept of multiple uses on federally managed lands and encourages members of the livestock industry to abide by regulations governing federal lands.” BLM officers rounded-up Bundy’s cattle grazing on public land last week as part of a court order finding the rancher had not paid over 20 years of permit fees. The controversy escalated when armed militia arrived to defend Bundy. The BLM returned the cattle and withdrew from the roundup. In its statement, the NCA explained its philosophical support for Bundy on issues related to the Endangered Species Act, and its opposition to certain federal laws that dismiss the historical use of public land ranching. But the association said such laws need to be changed through the avenues of law, and that it does not “condone actions that are outside the law in which citizens take the law into their own hands.”
The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 1528, the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act. As the meeting began, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health Rep. Joseph Pitts urged the others on the committee to support the bill so that veterinarians will be able to legally transport, administer and dispense controlled substances in the field to provide the highest level of care to their patients.
With less than 30 days notice, the U.S. FDA finally set a date for face-to-face consultation with American Indian tribes and pueblos on its proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA’s stated agenda includes a discussion of seven proposed FSMA rules and its intent to create an Environmental Impact Statement for the Produce Safety Rule. FDA officials indicated that they would answer questions and hear feedback on all seven proposed rules
Food Safety News
What do you get when you mix a 40-year old law that has been changed multiple times and is in the process of changing again, been challenged by multiple lawsuits, and is riddled with unclear definitions and a general uncertainty regarding the rules of the game? The current state of affairs surrounding the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, and thus, the expanse of the Environmental Protection Agency’s and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction over water in this country. With a proposed rule that could result in jurisdiction expanding to isolated waters, including some ditches, farm and stock ponds and desert washes to name a few, this is an issue that has captured the attention of farm and ranch groups as well as key lawmakers across the country. The proposed has farmers and ranchers across the country sounding the alarm because they say the draft proposed rule would result in them needing EPA permits for everyday ranching practices and would threaten their private property rights.
EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, commenting on the new definition of what constitutes a water of the United States says, "To be clear: our proposal does not add to or expand the scope of waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act." let's examine how EPA defines a "tributary." Then consider what Ms. McCarthy is saying. Section F of the EPA and Corps of Engineers proposed definition document describes what EPA considers to be a tributary. The section declares "…[our] definition of "tributary" [is] supported by the scientific literature." The paragraph never discusses the legal basis for the agency's proposed definition of tributary. Moreover, EPA declares that all tributary waters "…have a 'significant nexus' to a traditional navigable water, interstate water, or territorial sea such that they are 'waters of the United States' without the need for a separate, case-specific significant nexus analysis." No expansion of jurisdiction here? EPA says any water in the United States not specifically excluded, upland waters, will be automatically under EPA's expanded jurisdiction. Not much left that EPA cannot claim jurisdiction over when it comes to water coming off your property.
Expired marshmallows, broken crackers, stale doughnuts, even orange peels are among the billions of pounds of would-be waste that help feed livestock every year. The massive but little-known recycling system prevents millions of tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere, but an obscure proposal under a 2011 food safety overhaul could inadvertently send much of the reusable food back to landfills. Food manufacturers send the vast majority of their waste to be turned into animal feed, which many view as a significant achievement considering that more than 30 % of all food in the US is thrown away. But the FDA has proposed placing new sanitation and record-keeping requirements on feed production that could increase compliance costs and paperwork mandates that many in the industry and on Capitol Hill warn could make it too expensive for businesses to continue recycling. GMA has estimated that nearly 70 % of the waste stream from food manufacturers goes into animal feed, and only 5 % is dumped into landfills. The bulk of the remaining waste is composted or applied to land. Those numbers would change dramatically if the FDA proposal becomes law, the group said. The proposed regulation would require manufacturers to create food safety plans for all of the byproducts going into feed, a potentially costly mandate that would most likely prompt companies to divert as little as 22 % of their food waste to feed and almost 28 % to landfills in order to save money and avoid the hassle.
A House memorial urging federal support for Florida's efforts to battle citrus greening easily cleared its only two committee stops. Citrus greening, a bacterial disease that is spread by an insect called the Asian citrus psyllid, has caused $4.5 billion in economic damages since its discovery in 2005 and cost the state an estimated 8,200 jobs, according to HB 1427. The bill passed the House State Affairs Committee. Florida is getting $5.4 million under the federal farm bill to battle pests while the House and Senate have submitted different spending proposals.
The Florida Current
The American Farm Bureau and Montana Farm Bureau are giving a cautious thumbs-up to H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Bruce Wright, vice president, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, said, “This seems to be a good bill because it defines labeling. Just because a product contains bio-tech ingredients does not mean it has to have a label. However, companies can label if they so choose, as long as they are factual in their claims. Remember there is no scientific evidence that non-GMO foods are healthier than bioengineered food.” Wright said it’s important that the FDA can specify any special labeling the agency believes it is necessary to protect public health and safety. “It’s good that one agency will be able to oversee the safety and labeling of food. This will eliminate the confusing regulations that come about on a state-by-state basis.”
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued a statement in opposition to H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014, Mr Johnson: "Farmers Union members have clearly stated their position in the policy adopted at our annual meeting in favor of required consumer labeling for foods made from or containing genetically modified organisms. The rights of both GMO and non-GMO producers should be respected as appropriate regulatory agencies continue to research and evaluate ethical, environmental, food safety, legal, market and structural issues that impact everyone in the food chain. "NFU policy supports conspicuous, mandatory labeling for food products throughout the processing chain to include all ingredients, additives and processes, such as genetically altered or engineered food products. "Further, in numerous places NFU’s member-driven policy supports the authority of lower levels of government and opposes pre-emption by federal standards. This legislation would pre-empt state actions to label foods containing GMOs.
The Pig Site
The U.S. FDA has announced that five drug sponsors holding animal drug applications have requested that FDA withdraw approval of a collective 19 animal drug applications because the products are no longer manufactured or marketed. Tylosin and virginiamucin for most of the products.
Agricultural conditions varied across Districts in recent weeks. In the Chicago District, conditions improved. Kansas City and Dallas reported mild growth in the sector, while San Francisco reported stable demand for agricultural products. However, agricultural conditions weakened in the Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Minneapolis Districts. Adverse weather affected several districts. Winter wheat suffered as a result of dry conditions in the Kansas City District, and drought conditions continued to worsen in Dallas. In contrast, wet field conditions delayed planting in the Richmond and Atlanta Districts. Additionally, Chicago noted that the slow arrival of spring-like weather delayed fieldwork, although in some areas crops perform well after late planting. Minneapolis and San Francisco reported that winter weather disrupted transportation of some crops. In most Districts, c rop prices increased in recent weeks but were below year-ago levels. Higher soybean prices shift ed planting intentions away from corn. Dairy demand boomed in Dallas, especially for e xport, and prices for dairy products moved to record highs. Hog operations in a few Districts were battling a virus, and pork prices continued to rise. Beef prices reached record highs.
It’s being called an ‘interagency throw down.’ OSHA and the USDA are publicly feuding over the results of a study that found the same double-digit injury rates among poultry plant workers both before and after processing lines had accelerated. USDA officials are pointing to the study as evidence that a new poultry inspection program it hopes to finalize — which would allow line speeds to rise by as much as 25 % — would not cause further injuries to workers. However, NIOSH Director John Howard chastised USDA officials, saying he was “quite surprised” by the agency’s assertions. “It’s impossible to draw a conclusion about the impact of line speed changes on worker health” from the NIOSH study,” Howard said in a letter to Almanza, adding that to do so “is misleading.”
A bipartisan coalition of 51 senators are urging the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Forest Legacy programs as they begin considerations for the upcoming fiscal year. The letter requests adequate funding levels in the FY 2015 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for LCWF and Forest Legacy Programs, which protect natural resource lands, outdoor recreation opportunities and working forests at the local, state and federal levels so that wildlife habitats, hunting and fishing access, state and local parks, Civil War battlefields, productive forests and other important lands are protected for current and future generations. Leahy is the “father” of the Forest Legacy Program and is the most senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee
After the buckets of political blood spilled over food stamps this past year, the Congressional Budget Office has quietly lowered its cost estimate for the nutrition program by $24 billion over the next decade. The “technical” adjustment is tucked into a report issued Monday and reflects revisions in how CBO calculates what the average beneficiary receives each month under food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s just a 3 % change but more than a little ironic after the fighting over fewer SNAP dollars that dogged the recently enacted five-year farm bill. Indeed, having announced the adjustment, CBO’s report then goes out of its way to say as little as possible about the rest of the farm bill’s costs, even with the drop in grain prices
This post revisits the use of mapping technology to gain a better understanding of this farm bill's dynamics by comparing specific farm bill votes in the House of Representatives. Of the votes that changed in favor of the farm bill, 63 were Democrats (82%) and 14 were Republicans (18%). In contrast, all 23 votes that moved to opposing the farm bill were Republicans. Looking at the regional shifts in voting and support, 15 Members from the Northeast changed in favor of the farm bill (19%), followed by 12 Members in the Pacific region (16%), 11 in the Southeast (14%), and 10 in the Corn Belt (13%). Finally, of the 77 Members who switched to supporting the farm bill, 41 of the districts could be classified as rural (53%), and 22 could be classified as urban (29%).
A petition signed by more than 1,400 rural organizations and advocates, issued by the National Rural Housing Coalition, voices strong opposition to the significant funding cuts proposed in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget for USDA Rural Development programs, including a 60 % cut in low-cost homeownership loans and over $150 million in grants that help small rural communities provide potable water and waste disposal systems to residents. Under the Self-Help Housing program, low-income families work nights and weekends to help build their own home. In doing so, families decrease the cost of construction, earn an average $25,000 in “sweat equity,” and make lasting investments in their community. The Administration proposed a 60 % reduction to this vital program, which NRHC says will cause 50 Self-Help Housing organizations to close down, further adding to the 50,000 families currently on waiting lists to participate.
The CBO report also noted that, “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Technical revisions have decreased projected outlays for SNAP over the 2015–2024 period by about $24 billion (3 %). The most significant of those revisions is a change in CBO’s estimate of the average monthly SNAP benefit per person; CBO lowered that estimate on the basis of updated data from the Department of Agriculture”. CBO estimates that the new law will reduce mandatory spending over the 2014–2023 period by $17 billion”. This sentence included a footnote; and, the footnote stated: “The cost of P.L. 113-79 was estimated relative to CBO’s May 2013 baseline rather than relative to CBO’s February 2014 baseline. Because the May 2013 baseline did not extend through 2024, the estimated budgetary effect of the law was extrapolated into 2024 for this update to the baseline; according to that extrapolation, savings in 2024 were estimated to be $2 billion.
The USD) launched a website which provides details on the agency’s new rules, comments, and regulations related to implementation of the 2014 farm bill. The USDA Economic Research Service also launched a website highlighting some of the economic implications of the new programs and provisions of the farm bill. USDA has held 12 outreach and listening sessions to share information and hear from stakeholders on the farm bill implementation process.
The board of the Brazilian Association of Cotton Producers has called for a speedy implementation of the WTO panel against the US farm bill, especially in view of the conflict with US regarding the cotton subsidies. Board members of ABRAPA recently met with Brazilian Ambassador to WTO Paulo Estivallet de Mesquita, and requested him to seek for quick action from the WTO panel against the US farm bill. At the meeting, president of ABRAPA Gilson Pinesso said that it was necessary to minimize the damage caused to Brazilian cotton producers as soon as possible, and not let the US farm bill cause more harm to them. According to Mr. Pinesso, the US farm bill could bring distortions in prices of cotton as well as production by 7 to 13 %,and it was necessary to take steps against the new farm bill.
Five meat and poultry organizations thanked President Barack Obama for the Administration’s efforts in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. The letter applauded the strong stance your Administration has taken in negotiations with Japan on access to that nation’s market for U.S. meat and poultry exports. We appreciate that, in the latest round of talks in Tokyo on a TPP agreement, your representatives did not capitulate to Japan’s continuing attempts to maintain protectionist barriers to our products. As you are well aware, the ramifications of giving in to Japan’s desires to protect their agricultural products go well beyond our sector. A bad precedent with Japan could lead to future TPP-acceding nations such as China demanding massive exemptions from tariff elimination in industrial and high-tech products. This would be a damaging outcome for a wide swath of our nation’s commerce, agricultural and otherwise. Thank you again for your strong stance in the ongoing TPP effort.
A five-year plan has been launched to encourage the production, sourcing and consumption of food and products from animals to be from higher welfare regimes across Europe. The proposals put forward by the Farm Animal Welfare Forum call on the UK government to lead the way in forcing through new animal welfare measures in Europe. The new measures follow on from the FAWF’s 2008 strategy that called for, among other things, all egg-laying hens to be kept cage-free and improvements in the welfare of chickens reared for meat.
FAO recently commissioned a unique series of 19 case studies where agricultural biotechnologies were used to serve the needs of smallholders in developing countries. From the case studies, we have drawn ten general and interrelated lessons which can be used to inform and assist policy-makers when deciding on potential interventions involving biotechnologies for smallholders in developing countries. These include: the absolute necessity for government commitment and backing from donors and international agencies, and of partnerships, both nationally and internationally, and also with the farmers themselves in the planning and implementation of programmes, the successful use of biotechnologies also requires their appropriate integration with other sources of science-based and traditional knowledge. For the 19 case studies, there were no indications that intellectual property issues, access to genetic resources or specific regulatory mechanisms constrained use of any of the biotechnologies or their products. It was also concluded that planning, monitoring and evaluation of biotechnology applications was weak and should be strengthened.
Japan, the world’s largest pork buyer, will lower its tariff on pig meat shipments from Australia in a bilateral trade agreement that also reduces import duties on beef.
With local suppliers and retailers in China operating largely unchecked, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is fighting back against Chinese regulatory authorities for being continuously checked and fined for problems related to food safety
Wall Street Journal
A Qingdao-based company is robbing California of its reputation as the “garlic capital of the world,
About a Fifth of Nation's Arable Land Is Contaminated With Heavy Metals.
Wall Street Journal
The bill provides a sales tax exemption for community based energy development projects through the purchase of turbines, towers and other wind-farm components. At least 25 % of the gross power purchase agreement payments must go to qualified owner or local community.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer announced new, stronger permit conditions for drilling near faults or areas of past seismic activity April 11. The new policies are in response to recent seismic events that show a probable connection to hydraulic fracturing near a previously unknown microfault.
Farmers Cooperative plans to build a new fueling site at its Country Store in Mount Ayr to offer E10, registered E15, E30, and E85 and biodiesel blends of B5, B10, B20 and B99. The project was also selected to receive $100,000 through the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure program. The Oak Street Station will build a new site in the northwest town of Inwood that will offer renewable fuels in five dispensers. E10, E15, E30 and E85 will be available for ethanol customers. Diesel customers will have access to B5 year-round and B99.9 will be offered to independent jobbers and for special use customers, such as tractor pullers and other blenders, during the summer months.
Committed to establishing earth-friendly farm practices for future generations, Lancaster County’s Kreider Farms is launching a solar power project that will increase energy efficiency for its four Manheim chicken houses, which are the most state-of-the-art egg processing facilities available in the US. Set to begin this month in conjunction with Earth Day on April 22nd, the $2 million project is slated to be complete by mid-summer. Kreider Farms has partnered with MBC Development of Schuylkill Haven and A1 Energy of Manheim, to install solar panels onto the roofs of its four chicken houses. The chicken houses, each of which measures about the size of a football field, will utilize 100 % of the power from the solar panels for its needs, which encompass everything from fans and conveyors to lighting. “
With the expansion of oil shale production across the country in recent years, DTN has been following the challenges farmers and landowners face when deciding whether to lease their land to energy companies for oil production. This latest story shows how expanding shale production has benefitted farmers financially and allowed them to continue farming. After running a marginal breakeven dairy operation since 1972 -- made more difficult by the recent recession -- Ballard was ready to sell the farm in 2010. "There was just no way with 60 cows if we want to feed the family," Ballard said. Ballard's son, Larry, though a successful salesman, said he always had sights on returning to the family farm someday. It appeared he wouldn't get that chance when the family decided in 2010 it was time to sell the cows and pay off creditors. Little did they know, the family farm was about to get a whole new lease on life. That year, an energy company drilled a vertical test well south of Carrollton near the Pennsylvania border, to explore the potential of what now is known as the Utica Shale. Tests found big potential for oil production. Near the close of 2011, the Jenkins' farm was beginning to see big payouts. Ballard received a $700,000 check with the potential for much bigger payouts in years to come. Larry and his brother, "B," now farm about 1,300 acres of corn and soybeans in a region not traditionally rich in high crop yields -- allowing the brothers and their families to make a living while staying on the farm.
A GAO report said when the EPA is late in issuing its annual Renewable Fuel Standards it increases costs for refiners. The RFS each year sets the amount of biofuels refiners must blend into the nation's fuel supply. The standards have contributed to declining petroleum consumption while increasing costs, according to the report. The GAO report looked at three major changes that have affected the domestic petroleum, or gasoline, refining industry, a key one being the EPA's renewable fuel mandate.
Over the weekend – an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a summary of its report for policymakers titled Climate Change 2014 – Mitigation of Climate Change – which is being released today. 25x’25 reports the summary says global emissions of greenhouse gases have risen to unprecedented levels – despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change. In fact – between 2000 and 2010 – those emissions grew more quickly than in each of the three previous decades. The study also shows carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed nearly 78-% of the total GHG emission increase from 1970 to 2010. According to the report – renewed investment in the kinds of renewable energy advocated by 25x’25 can bring about the desired outcome of limiting the global mean temperature two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The panel says sustainability of production practices and the efficiency of those practices are issues to consider – but that bioenergy can play a critical role for mitigating climate change.
Hoosier Ag Today
Oil transportation in the central US is undergoing an historic realignment in response to the recent shale oil boom. Rising oil production in the middle of the country increased inventories due to inadequate pipeline capacity, which caused a spread between the benchmark U.S. crude oil price in Cushing, Oklahoma, and the global benchmark, Brent. These motivated the usage of alternate but costlier modes of transportation, such as rail, as well as increased pipeline capacity. But even as pipeline capacity has risen, continual growth in oil production has caused the oil glut and the price spread to persist. Usage of alternate transport modes has grown, providing a boost to economic activity in areas where it occurs. And if new shale plays are tapped in other places not connected to pipelines, the trend in the usage of alternate transport modes could continue for some time. Meanwhile, some safety and environmental concerns have emerged about both pipelines and oil-by-rail transport.
There is an old joke in the energy business that advanced biofuels are the fuel of the future, and always will be. A Spanish company, Abengoa Bioenergy, has bet $500 million on robbing that joke of its punch line. In the middle of a cornfield it is building a 38-acre Erector set of electrical cable and pipe that will soon begin producing cellulosic ethanol. The automobile and oil industries are resisting efforts to increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline. “It’s very frustrating,” said Christopher Standlee, executive vice president of Abengoa. “The whole purpose of the Renewable Fuel Standard was to encourage investment to create brand-new technologies that would help the United States become more energy-independent and use cleaner and more efficient fuels. We feel like we are just on the verge of doing that and now the E.P.A. is talking about changing the rules.” Other things have changed, too, since 2007. A boom in shale drilling has produced a sudden gush of domestic oil. Increasingly efficient cars and a sluggish economy have cut demand for fuel.
Tobacco, a high-density crop which is mown several times throughout its cycle, can produce as much as 160 tons of fresh matter per hectare and become a source of biomass suitable for producing bioethanol. As one researcher explained, “tobacco plants as a source of biomass for producing bioethanol could be an alternative to traditional tobacco growing which is in decline in the USA and in Europe because it cannot compete with emerging countries like China".
High levels of the greenhouse gas methane were found above shale gas wells at a production point not thought to be an important emissions source. The findings could have implications for the evaluation of the environmental impacts from natural gas production. The study, which is one of only a few to use a so-called "top down" approach that measures methane gas levels in the air above wells, identified seven individual well pads with high emission levels during the drilling stage
Stakeholders GAO contacted and information reviewed by GAO identified the following three major changes that have recently affected the domestic petroleum refining industry: Increased production. U.S. and Canadian crude oil production have increased, leading to lower costs of crude oil for some refiners. After generally declining for decades, monthly U.S. crude oil production increased over 55 % compared with average production in 2008. Declining consumption. Domestic consumption of petroleum products declined by 11 % from 2005 through 2012, resulting in a smaller domestic market for refiners. Key regulations. Two key regulations—the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) and Department of Transportation's (DOT) coordinated fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) vehicle emission standards, as well as EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—have contributed to declining petroleum-based fuel consumption.
Missouri Farm Bureau's board of directors has voted to intervene in the Grain Belt Clean Line case, which is presently before the Public Service Commission. Farm Bureau will oppose granting eminent domain to the company for the proposed electrical transmission line, which it plans to build across northern Missouri. From western Missouri going east, the line would cross Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe and Ralls counties. The Grain Belt Express "Clean Line" is a High Voltage Direct Current transmission line, approximately 750 miles long stretching from western Kansas eastward across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Electrical current carried through the lines will come from new wind turbine farms in Kansas. "Our board of directors consulted with county Farm Bureau leaders and has voted to oppose eminent domain authority for the GBE project. The benefits claimed by the developers absolutely do not justify the granting of eminent domain to the newly formed company selling electricity to out-of-state customers." Clean Line Energy is seeking public utility status from Missouri's PSC so the company can use eminent domain proceedings to acquire easements for the 150-foot-tall transmission towers.
Reliable and affordable electric supplies could be in danger with the EPA’s proposed regulations for greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired plants. Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association says the proposed regulations would remove coal-fired electricity generation from the mix of options that create a reliable electric grid. She says these proposed regulations would be costly to Hoosiers, “We are member owned – our customers are our members. Every expense we have has to be passed on to our coop members because we don’t make profits. It’s quite possible that electric bills could rise by 20%, 30%, and even 50% in some areas.”
Ethanol has seemed to have a run of bad luck lately. First, it hit the blend wall, the maximum of 10% of the total motor fuel supply. Then the recession curtailed some of the miles we drove and less gasoline was purchased. Then the EPA proposes that the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) be revised to curtail ethanol production. Then the government increases the fuel economy target for auto makers to ensure we continue on a downward trend of less gasoline being purchased. Never mind the woes of the petroleum industry, all of those dynamics combine to limit the growth of ethanol. It seems to have a bleak future, or does it? It may not be common knowledge but in recent weeks, the price of ethanol in metropolitan markets such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles has been in the $4 neighborhood. That is $4 per gallon, and is well above the price of unleaded gasoline. This is contrary to conventional wisdom that ethanol is cheaper than gasoline and helps reduce the price of motor fuel for the motoring public.
The Clean Energy Group, the Brookings Institution and the Council of Development Finance Agencies have released a paper on a powerful but underutilized tool for future clean energy investment: state and local bond finance.
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