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

AgClips

To subscribe to AgClips, the weekly e-newsletter providing a roundup of agriculture and
rural development news from the regional offices of The Council of State Governments
and State Agriculture and Rural Leaders, send an e-mail to corr@sarl.us with
"subscribe-agclips" in the subject line or contact any of the regional staff listed at the bottom

Participants in the Agriculture Site Visit of the
Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting in Omaha,
were rewarded with the opportunity to experience the revealing
of CLAAS’s all new 4WD Xerion tractor. This week the tractor
was revealed to the public at the Farm Progress Show. 

Just another example of CSG being ahead of the curve! 

Mark your calendars now for 2015 meetings:

Legislative Ag Chairs Summit: Jan 2-4, 2015, Clearwater, FL
(Registration open now)
and the summer annual meetings
Midwestern Legislative Conference, July 12-15, Bismarck, ND
Southern Legislative Conference-July 18-22 Savannah, GA
CSG-WEST- July 28-31, Vail, CO
Eastern Regional Conference, August 16-19, Wilmington, DE

Contact corr@sarl.us for more information on any of these

 
::  August 29-September 5, 2014 ::

Agriculture News

Food and Rural  Communities

Federal and International

OH: Stricter rules for agriculture debated

Ohio Rep. Mike Sheehy is one of several legislators who have proposed or announced plans for tighter CAFO rules. Mr. Sheehy has introduced HB 611, legislation to ban winter application of manure. It’s a practice that many Great Lakes scientists want to end because manure doesn’t penetrate soil when it’s frozen. Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels said such a ban is not necessary because most manure-management plans required by the state do not allow the practice.

Toledo Blade

AK: In a Tough Place to Farm, Discovering Much to Love

Alaska Turns to Locally Grown Food Thanks to State Incentives. In Fairbanks, just 200 miles from the Arctic Circle, frost can continue into June, while summer surrenders as early as mid-August. Partly as a result, Alaska imports about 95 percent of its food. But advocates for local food are now pushing back against the widespread notion that eating food grown in Alaska is impossible or too expensive. Boosted by a state program that is helping school districts buy local products, and food stamp incentives that are luring low-income shoppers to farmers’ markets, locavore warriors are teaching small farmers how to reach the public, and consumers how and where to buy. (In Alaska, local can also mean wild, as in moose or seal meat.) One consultant on food issues, Ken Meter, likened the effort to matchmaking. There is, for instance, only one tortilla chip manufacturer in Alaska, the manufacturer took an interest in Alaskan salmon and the product of the culinary marriage, the salmon tamale, is now being shipped to schools across the state.

CA:Growers say groundwater bills would bring uncertainty

New state controls and monitoring requirements outlined in a package of bills sent to Gov. Jerry Brown over the weekend could make farmers think twice about putting in an orchard or investing in a new well

Capital Press

Florida's Economy & Immigrants Reel As 'Greening' Ravages Orange Juice Industry

The bleak outlook for Florida's multibillion dollar citrus industry’s growing season will mean fewer jobs for seasonal workers and a big hit to the state’s economy, experts predict. Analysts expect the state to produce its smallest citrus crop in five decades during the season beginning next month, as up to 75 percent of the state’s 65 million citrus trees are infected by the insidious “greening” disease. The disease is likely to eliminate a large swath of this year’s citrus crop, posing a serious threat to a longstanding way of life for tens of thousands of largely Mexican seasonal workers and the Sunshine State’s economy -- and even its identity

International Business Times

Pilot program puts Bhutanese refugees to work on New York dairy farms

Every morning, a handful of Bhutanese refugees who have settled in city neighborhoods board a van that takes them past bustling streets and suburbs and into a rural landscape where cows outnumber people.  In a setting much closer to the homeland they left behind, the refugees train to work on dairy farms, part of a pilot program that seeks to find work for the new arrivals while addressing the demand for milk driven by the state's booming yogurt industry.  Idaho, Oregon and Arizona also have experimented with placing refugees on dairy farms in an effort to satisfy both the interests of the immigrants and the needs of their adopted states. 

Daily reporter

Nixing Kauai’s Anti-GMO Ordinance Was Good for Hawaii

The recent ruling on Kauai County’s Ordinance 960, formerly Bill 2491, has profound positive implications for the Garden Island and the entire state.  For farmers and ranchers, the backbone of Hawaii’s agricultural industry, this was a major step forward, but there is still much more work ahead.  Hawaii has always valued its agricultural roots, and now, more than ever, we must do all that we can to ensure that our farmers have all the tools they need to be productive and succeed. Ordinance 960 was directed at only a handful of large farming operations on the island, redundant, but inconsistent and costly regulations burden all farmers, many of whom are already struggling. 

Civilbeat.com

Tax bill aimed at crop research deferred after spirited testimony

After circulating several amendments, and following a spirited discussion, a Kauai County Council committee deferred for another two weeks a bill that seeks to tax crop-research land separate from other agricultural land.   Councilman Tim Bynum, the bill’s introducer, said the council is addressing what he described as an important issue — whether the research use of land, which produces no product, should get the same tax incentives as diversified agriculture.  Bill 2456, if passed, would establish “agronomics” as a new and separate real property tax class and exclude lands used primarily for crop research or parent seed production from the county’s definition of “agricultural use.” 

The Garden Island

In New Jersey, disputes over use of farms to host events

For Tuckahoe Turf Farms, use of its sprawling fields by soccer teams is simply a no-brainer: It grows turf for recreational venues, so allowing games on the farm is a way to market the product and demonstrate its quality.  What difference is there between Tuckahoe's use of its land and farms that operate corn mazes and hay rides to draw customers to buy produce? lawyers for the soccer league and farm ask.  Over the last four years, thousands of people have turned out for the games held by the Mid-Atlantic Soccer Showcase League at the sprawling farm in the 400 block of North Myrtle Street - with no harm to the land, the attorneys say.  But the Pinelands Commission has ordered all soccer games and practices to cease after Nov. 30, saying they violate preserved land deed restrictions that allow only low-intensity recreation.  The dispute is one of several that have flared across the state as deed-restricted farms and wineries have been prevented from holding events on their land by the State Agricultural Development Committee and state and county boards, which enforce limits on preserved tracts. 

Philly.com

S.F. property owners to get tax break from creating urban farms

A new law taking effect next week will mark another innovation for San Francisco: The city will be the first in the country to offer a financial incentive for urban farming.  Starting Sept. 8, owners of empty lots could save thousands of dollars a year in property taxes in exchange for allowing their land to be used for agriculture for five years or more.  It's part of the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act.  San Francisco will be the first to enact it because the Board of Supervisors has already passed the necessary local ordinance. The bill was conceived as a way to help cities reduce blight and give residents more opportunities to grow food, even to raise livestock where health codes allow it.  Karen Peteros hopes that Clear Channel, which owns the site of her educational bee farm, under a billboard in Visitacion Valley, decides to take advantage of the new tax break, which she estimates could reduce its current bill of around $21,000 a year to about $50.

SFGate

How Urban Farming Is Making San Francisco's Housing Crisis Worse

There have been harder times to be a renter in this city of 826,000. Room rates shot up during the 1850s and again following the 1906 earthquake and fire. But talk to tech workers, low-income families, or housing lawyers, and they'll all agree on this much: There aren't enough affordable places to live, and as a result, the city's renters are pinched more than at any time in living memory.  That's why a Monday article in the San Francisco Chronicle, headlined in the print edition as "Tax Breaks for Urban Farming Kick In," is so stunning. "A new law taking effect next week will mark another innovation for San Francisco: The city will be the first in the country to offer a financial incentive for urban farming," the newspaper reports. "Owners of empty lots could save thousands of dollars a year in property taxes in exchange for allowing their land to be used for agriculture for five years or more." Successful urban centers are constantly changing, and those changes raise complicated issues. A growing city's dynamism is core to what makes it attractive and useful. At the same time, cities aren't just concrete and glass: They're where people live. There's a cost to pricing out families and disrupting longstanding communities. Settling on the most fair or desirable housing policies can seem impossible.  But subsidies for urban farming in one of the most dense, geographically constrained, pricey U.S. cities? That's insanity.

The Atlantic

Canadian beekeepers sue Bayer and Syngenta over neonicotinoid pesticides

Canadian beekeepers are suing the makers of popular crop pesticides for more than $400 million in damages, alleging that their use is causing the deaths of bee colonies.  The proposed class action lawsuit was filed in the Ontario Superior Court on behalf of all Canadian beekeepers by Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey, two of Ontario's largest honey producers.  "The goal is to stop the use of the neonicotinoids to stop the harm to the bees and the beekeepers," said Paula Lombardi, a lawyer.   More than 30 beekeepers had signed on to participate in the class action.

CBC.ca

Canadian honeybee lawsuit quickly attracts critics

The national program director of Sierra Club Canada introduced the beekeepers to the class action firm Siskinds LLP, which then filed the lawsuit on their behalf.  And so, bees became the spokes-animals of the Sierra Club Canada’s cause, said Lee Townsend, a commercial beekeeper at TPLR Honey Farms in Stony Plain, Alberta.  “They’ve been working a while trying to ban these products,” Townsend said. “First they tried to use butterflies and frogs.”  “I have a fine understanding of what they’re doing. But it’s not accurate.” In fact, Townsend said the amount of colonies on his farms has more than doubled in the last eight years – from 1,500 in 2006 to 3,100 this year.  Richard Tren, the director of Africa Fighting Malaria, disagreed so strongly with the anti-neonic claims that he authored an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in July. It is called, “The Honeybees are Just Fine.”  The piece notes that the bee population in the United States has remained stable since the introduction of neonics, while numbers have slightly risen in Europe and have grown to the highest they’ve been in Canada since the late 1980s.  He also said worldwide, global bee populations are up dramatically since the 1960s.  .

Washington Examiner

More leeway for farmers

New APR rules give owners more options for land use. A lot has changed since Massachusetts began its first-in-the nation Agricultural Preservation Restriction program.  More than 68,000 acres have been protected on more than 800 farms statewide, with 15,305 acres on 218 Franklin County farms protected by selling development rights to the state to keep farmland in production.  Yet the definition of agriculture has changed over 35 years as renewed interest in farming has spawned enterprise down on the farm.  Some of those ventures, from food processing to agritourism, have been encouraged by the state Department of Agricultural Resources yet have caused controversy when sought for protected APR lands.  Now, a new provision to the APR program, approved as part of the state budget process, adds some needed flexibility, say program advocates. Yet the added flexibility, including an appeals process where APR approval is denied, comes as federal changes threaten to tighten the farmland preservation effort.

The Recorder

Mushrooms have deep roots in Pa. demographics and history

More than a century after a Quaker florist spread spores he imported from England beneath greenhouse benches and sparked mushroom farming in southern Chester County, cultivation of the fertile fungi is a $500 million industry that still provides jobs for hard-working immigrants.  Next weekend, nearly 100,000 visitors are expected to flock to Kennett Square, a 1-square-mile borough, for its annual festival celebrating the self-declared Mushroom Capital of the World.  But it's no accident of soil or sunshine that sustains Pennsylvania's largest cash crop. Rather, say industry leaders, mushrooming can trace its prosperity to generations of growers and pickers - Quaker, Irish, Italian, African American, Puerto Rican, Mexican, and now a handful of Guatemalans and Hondurans - who start before dawn and often work 12-hour shifts so fresh-cut mushrooms, which lose moisture quickly, can be picked, packed, and shipped the same day.  "These are the immigrant populations who wanted to improve their lives, just as my grandparents did," said Chris Alonzo, president of Pietro Industries.  While today's growers blend lab science with modern techniques for temperature, humidity, and carbon-dioxide control, harvesting is still by hand, an arduous, on-your-feet-all-day job for successive waves of mostly foreign-born laborers. Doing work that is dirty and time-sensitive - mushrooms grow in a loamy mixture and double in size every 24 hours - workers begin at minimum wage and earn more through piece work, filling three to five 10-pound boxes an hour.  speaking Spanish, were recruited during World War II. Their Latino influence still permeates.

Philly.com

Corn crop still best in 20 years

dairyherd

On the Horns of the GMO Dilemma

 Can genome-editing technology revive the idea of genetically modified livestock?   Four years ago, Scott Fahrenkrug saw an ABC News segment about the dehorning of dairy cows, a painful procedure that makes the animals safer to handle. The shaky undercover video showed a black-and-white Holstein heifer moaning and bucking as a farmhand burned off its horns with a hot iron.  Fahrenkrug, a molecular geneticist then at the University of Minnesota, thought he had a way to solve the problem. He could create cows without horns. He could save farmers money. And by eliminating the dairy industry’s most unpleasant secret, he might even score a public relations success for genetic engineering.  The technology Fahrenkrug believes could do all this is called genome editing.  A fast, precise new way of altering DNA, it’s been sweeping through biotechnology labs. With livestock, gene editing offers some extraordinary possibilities. At his startup, Recombinetics, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, Fahrenkrug thinks he can create blue-ribbon dairy bulls possessing traits not normally found in those breeds but present in other cattle, such as lack of horns or resistance to particular diseases. Such “molecular breeding,” he says, would achieve the same effects as nature might, only much faster. In short, an animal could be edited to have the very best genes its species can offer. That could upend the global livestock industry.

Technology Review

Farm Confessional: I Lied About Selling Non-Local Produce at a Farmers Market

I was very shocked, and decided that I would speak to the owner first thing the next morning, which I did. I asked him where all of the products we were selling at the market were coming from, and he said that not all of it was coming from the farm, that some of it was coming from other farms, and I asked was it coming from local farms and he said some of it was not.  He was honest with me — he said that they had to do it to stay competitive, and that other farms did it as well. So he told me that I should work for the day and think about it and talk with him again shortly about how I was feeling. Needless to say, I thought it was a bit strange that we were selling products at market that was coming from places as far away as Georgia.

Modern Farmer

Tobacco growers act to protect children

Burley Council opposes tobacco work by children under 16 worldwide. In July 2014, the Council for Burley Tobacco, a Kentucky-based association representing approximately 5,000 tobacco growers in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and Ohio, approved a resolution adopting the position that “workers under 16 years old should not be employed in tobacco production not only in the US but worldwide.”

Human Rights Watch

Read Between The Lines Of HSUS Rhetoric

Much can be learned in life and politics by looking beyond the political rhetoric and reading between the lines. Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, has made his intentions clear. He’s politically astute enough to say it in a way that’s politically palatable and couches HSUS attacks on animal agriculture as a battle against so-called factory farming.  You have to listen carefully but he is very clear that HSUS intends “to transform agriculture and the way consumers think about and consume food.” I translate that as meaning no animal production, though I think he’s willing to accept a much smaller industry as an interim step. HSUS argues livestock production isn’t environmentally sustainable, and is immoral and inhumane, and blames factory farming for contributing to nearly every ill in America.    HSUS is extremely sophisticated in its attacks, and attacks on many fronts. It uses legislation and public policy where possible; the judicial system to sue people into submission; has a huge public relations machine to blackmail businesses to fall in line; and effectively wields the ballot initiative to circumvent the legislative and judicial branches when those avenues fail them. 

BEEF

I Chicken, by  PETA

Now PETA hopes their virtual reality video—called "I, Chicken"—will convince you to stop eating chicken. The virtual reality game lets users first experience a free-roaming hen on an idyllic pasture, then takes users to a caged farm to let them see what it's like to be "crammed into factory-farm pens."

Counterpoint: Cargill's Arkansas pig farm is a good neighbor

The farm is owned by three local families who have resided in rural northwest Arkansas for eight generations, farmed the land for half a century and raised hogs for more than a decade. They grew up near the mountain community of Mount Judea, learning to swim in local creeks and fish in local ponds, all the while producing food for others.  Mount Judea is nestled in a portion of the state that forms the backdrop for the Buffalo National River, a treasured waterway that became America’s first national river in 1972. Much of the river’s watershed is part of National Park Service land, and agriculture, including hog farming, has taken place in the watershed long before there was a park. Today, cattle ranches, poultry barns, hog operations and crop fields dot the landscape.  In 2013, with a state-approved permit in hand, the three families of C&H expanded their hog production by building a farm incorporating the latest design elements, including environmental safeguards exceeding state or federal government requirements. The farm houses 2,500 Cargill-owned sows and up to 4,000 piglets. The piglets stay on the farm for about 21 days before being weaned and transported to farms outside Arkansas to be raised for pork.  Objections to the farm surfaced because of its number of hogs and the manure they generate. More hogs lived in the area 10 years ago, albeit spread across 11 farms that didn’t have the benefit of today’s waste-handling technology. C&H is the lone remaining area hog farm, and the family owners earn their livelihoods producing hogs for Cargill.

Star Tribune

Drones, Cornfields, and Marijuana

As farmers harvest their corn crop this year, they might want to look carefully to see what else—namely, marijuana--might be growing among their cornstalks.  The biotechnological and labor-saving innovations that have reduced costs for corn farmers mean that literally no one walks into the average corn field during the growing season. Which presents a major opportunity for marijuana growers."  These illicit producers are not only appropriating a farmer’s land, they’re also taking advantage of the farmer’s agronomic investments.  She tells the story of a farmer who found an "usually large patch" of marijuana in 2010. "The DEA was called in to cut down and burn the contraband. "As they watched the bonfire die down, they asked the DEA officials to estimate the value of the marijuana they had just burned. The reply: half a million dollars. The farmers had to laugh. The value of the corn that had been cut down to grow it? $32."

Ag Web

Agriculture equipment sales decline in 2014

Newsobserver.com

Most Farms are Family Farms

Should we be helping small family farmers to stay in agriculture, or to move up and out?  In most parts of the world, if you’re a farmer, you probably cultivate a small or medium-sized tract of land alongside your next of kin. Farming is one of the last economic activities performed largely by families working together. These common features of farming—small size and management by families—are often taken for granted, but the United Nations has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming to shine a light on these farmers’ key roles in improving food security and protecting natural resources.  Many development experts believe that smallholder farmers have great productive potential and can increase their output quickly with access to modern technologies, inputs, credit, and markets.

insights.ifpri.info

High food prices get bad rap from farmers

One of farmers’ longstanding complaints is that they’re often blamed unfairly for rising food prices. Now, two separate reports from the U.S. government show consumers are paying more for food, even as farmers receive less for what they produce.  A third set of numbers, from the National Farmers Union, shows farmers receive less than 20 cents of every dollar consumers spend on food.

Prairiebizmag.com

More veterans look to farming

Wood’s transition from the battlefield to the farm field highlights a growing trend in America: As thousands of young military personnel leave the service, many are finding themselves drawn to the prospect of jobs on farms and ranches scattered throughout the countryside.

Cincinnati.com

Influenza A virus transmitted from swine to humans at 2012 agricultural fairs

At agricultural fairs in Ohio during 2012, influenza A viruses circulated widely among exhibition swine, and genome testing confirmed that some of these viruses were zoonotically transmitted to humans.  The findings suggest that more thorough preventive strategies are needed at swine-human interfaces such as agricultural fairs.  As part of an ongoing virus surveillance project, researchers enrolled 40 agricultural fairs located across Ohio. At the end of each fair, investigators visually examined exhibition swine for signs of respiratory illness and took nasal swab samples from at least 20 swine not selected based on apparent health status. Of the 834 swine sampled, influenza virus was identified in 161 (19.3%). The researchers isolated influenza A(H3N2)pdm virus from swine at all seven fairs associated with human cases of subtype H3N2. None of the 30 fairs in which influenza A virus was not identified in swine were associated with human cases of subtype H3N2 virus. 

Healio.com

Farmer grows familiar foods for Maine’s African refugees

Directions to Alfred Matiyabo’s farm in South Portland are not of the usual turn-at-the-big-red-barn variety: Take a left into a housing development, park next to his beat-up Dodge sedan and duck into the nearby underbrush. It’s like heading into some teenagers’ secret party lair. Or a homeless encampment.  But at the end of a narrow, well-trodden path is nearly an acre lined with Matiyabo’s vegetables: 1,000 tomato plants, 850 habanero chiles, rows and rows of amaranth, some pumpkins snaking their way across the ground and 500 eggplants. And these plants, cleaned, cut and packaged under his brand – Africando – in the commercial kitchen of a church in Portland, are crops specifically planted for a growing community of African refugees, Matiyabo’s customer base. He sells to only one restaurant, Chez Biso na Biso, the new African restaurant on Munjoy Hill. His customers are eager for the leaves of those pumpkin plants and for amaranth and eggplants that look familiar to refugees from places like the Congo, Burundi, Nigeria and Rwanda.

Portland Press Herald

Drone Developers Consider Obstacles That Cannot Be Flown Around

But for all the Tomorrowland wonder of a potential delivery-by-drone service, plenty of issues will be tricky to solve. Drone technology has not been thoroughly tested in populated areas, and commercial use of drones is not allowed in the United States. Even if it were, it is not clear that companies could make a profit using advanced, helicopterlike vehicles to deliver dog food, toothpaste or whatever else a modern family might need. Still, dozens of companies have experimented with using drones for tasks like crop dusting and monitoring breaks in railroad tracks and oil pipelines. The commercial viability of delivery drones would depend heavily on two things: how many people live in the area and how much people are willing to pay for the service.  Dr. Kopardekar said he expected the first commercial applications to be in agriculture and “asset monitoring,” like keeping an eye on crops or remote oil pipelines.

NYTimes.com

Cousins ready to scale up growth at Iowa fish farm

Jeff and Mark Nelson probably wouldn't be insulted to be called Iowa farm boys. They'd probably barely acknowledge a tag of shrewd businessmen with a half-smile. And they might chuckle a little if you called them visionaries, like most Iowa farm boys would.  Still, there's truth in all those monikers, and the fact that they named their Blairsburg fish-farming business Iowa's First shows a certain level of self-awareness and pride in a forward-thinking strategy. The fact that they opened a fish-farming business at all speaks to their grasp of basic business principles — empty buildings don't produce income — and of The Big Picture, which illustrates resources being sucked up at an alarming rate and a world population that is hurtling toward 8 billion.  The Nelsons also noticed that in the food world, no word seemed to resound as firmly as "local."  "As far as natural resources go," Jeff said, "oil is our No. 1 trade deficit. No. 2 is seafood. Eighty-five to 90 % of the seafood we eat in this country is imported."  'It just sort of clicked' 

USA Today

Novak leaves Pork to lead Corn

The National Corn Growers Association announced that Chris Novak will become the organization’s next chief executive officer, he is leaving a similar role with the National Pork Board.

NCGA.com

Bayer CropScience plans further growth in the USA, opens new R&D site in California

Bayer CropScience sees a positive long-term market development in North America and is committing significant resources to spur further growth.  Bayer CropScience plans to invest close to US$ 1 billion in Capital Expenditures in the United States between 2013 and 2016, mainly to ramp up research and development and to expand a world-class product supply of its top crop protection brands.

Bayer

Perdue to eliminate antibiotics in hatchery

Perdue, one of the country’s largest poultry producers, said it would no longer use antibiotics in its hatcheries, one of the last places it was using such drugs routinely.  Fewer than 5 % of Perdue’s chickens  are receiving antibiotics that are also administered to humans, although a bigger percentage are still getting antibiotics used on animals only.  “The hatchery was the last step we recently accomplished,” said Jim Perdue, the chairman and grandson of the family-owned company’s founder.

NYTimes.com

Florida State Land Sale Garners More Than $15 Million for Conservation Purchases

Today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands closed on the sale of A.G. Holley. The approximately 79.91-acre parcel of improved state-owned non-conservation land was the site of a former state hospital. Governor Scott and the Board of Trustees voted to approve the sale of this property to Southeast Legacy Investments, LLC for $15.6 million.  The department is in the process of selling many state-owned, surplus, non-conservation lands to increase the budget for future purchases of environmentally sensitive conservation lands. The 2014-2015 Florida Legislature gave DEP spending authority to utilize up to $40 million of the proceeds of non-conservation land sales to acquire valuable land needed for conservation and public recreation. 

Southeast Ag Net

New Idaho board provides $225,000 to control wolves

Idaho Wildlife Services will receive $225,000 from the new Idaho wolf depredation board this year to help fund its wolf control efforts. The USDA agency has lost about $700,000 in funding since 2009, which has reduced its efforts to control depredating wolves.

Capital Press

The state of working Wisconsin

The State of Working Wisconsin 2014 uses the best and most recent data available to help refine our understanding of how working people in the state are doing. The picture is better than two years ago – we’ve added jobs and unemployment has inched down. But the labor market is still weak, workers are still seeking jobs, more hours, and more economic security. To paint a comprehensive picture of the economic reality of working people, we rely on a variety of data, most often from the federal government. We focus not only on the changes wrought by the recession and weak recovery, but also on the longer-term trends that have altered opportunity, equality, and outcomes in this nation and state. Our long-term challenges are daunting and largely shared with the nation: relatively stagnant wages and the proliferation of low-wage, low quality, jobs. Racial disparity is not unique to Wisconsin, but it is extreme here; consistently the black/white differences in economic and educational outcomes and incarceration rates rank Wisconsin among the most unequal states in the nation.

Center on Wisconsin Strategy

California counties ask to form separate state

Six counties have so far approved plans to pursue secession, either through elected officials or at the ballot box, and supporters plan to submit more petitions in the coming months.

Capital Press

Montana officials study federal land takeover idea

Montana officials are looking into taking control of federal lands in the state, although they say the proposal is complicated and potentially expensive. Gov. Steve Bullock opposes taking over management of millions of acres of federal land within the state's boundaries. But the Montana Republican Party has endorsed the move, and the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is studying it.  The more the agency reviews the idea, the more complicated it gets. While its not clear how Montana could go about taking over U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands, doing so could cost the state around $367 million a year after factoring in potential revenue from the land.

SFgate.com

Rural Jobs Recovery Stalled Since 2011

While the number of jobs in metro counties is almost back to pre-recession levels, rural employment has remained nearly flat for the past three years, a new report shows.

Daily Yonder

Growing Market for Gator Items

Thousands of hunters are plying Florida waters every night this time of year, searching the swamps for a prize alligator to take during the state's annual 11-week public hunt.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued nearly 6,000 permits to the public this year, with each permit allowing a hunter to take two alligators from an assigned waterway. Private hunts on farms and managed lands occur year-round, but between now and Nov. 1 the public gets its chance at gator glory.  Driven by TV reality shows like "Swamp People" and "Gator Boys" — which feature Louisiana alligator hunters and nuisance trappers in the Miami area — the sport has grown four-fold in the last decade, from 2,164 hunters in 2002 to 8,103 in 2011.

News-press.com

Buyers help small farmers bridge urban-rural divide

A pair of buyers for Portland's New Seasons Market help rural producers meet the expectations of an urban foodie customer base.  Since its founding in 2000, New Seasons has emerged as an innovative market lifeline for producers who might be struggling otherwise. The store’s buyers seek out local suppliers whose products and operations mesh with the New Seasons mindset.  Choosing vendors based on the lowest price and biggest producer doesn’t appeal to Hummel. “It would be easier, but it would be boring,” he says.  In foodie Portland, it’s a formula that works. The chain has grown to 13 stores in the Portland-Vancouver, Wash., region, has nearly 2,700 employees and plans to open four more stores by summer 2015. Ten % of after-tax profits go to nonprofits working to ease hunger, protect the environment or educate young people.  It isn’t a cheap place to shop, but attracts an informed, engaged customer base that wants to know where its food comes from, prefers that it come from a nearby family farm or ranch and is willing to pay more.

Capital Press

Forum on proposed N.C. chicken plant draws large, testy crowd

A public meeting held on Tuesday to address residents’ concerns about a proposed Sanderson Farms chicken plant in Fayetteville, N.C., drew a crowd of nearly 400 people, some of whom voiced skepticism about the plan.

Meatingplace.com

‘Behold! New Lebanon’ Offers Rural Tourism

Small rural communities are perpetually marketing themselves. Witness the annual Heritage Spudfest in Boonsboro, Md., or the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kan.  But it is probably fair to say that no place has come up with a concept quite like “Behold! New Lebanon,” in Columbia County, N.Y., in which this struggling Hudson Valley town in the shadow of the Berkshires is being reimagined as what it hopes will be a “living museum of contemporary rural American life.”  Over four weekends, starting with this one and running through Nov. 2, ticket-buying visitors are promised an unvarnished glimpse of present-day country culture, organizers say, which includes being ferried by school buses to working farms, forests, kitchens, corrals and a speedway. There they will “behold” guides like Cynthia Creech, showing off her genetically rare breed of Randall cattle; Eric Johnson, training Border collies to shoo Canada geese off public fields; and Melissa Eigenbrodt, 46, the local postmaster, who can demonstrate the art of tracking deer — without a gun — by following hoof scrapes along the trail. Part museum-without-walls, part reality show, “Behold! New Lebanon” is being packaged as a deliberate contrast to the stereotypical bonneted butter churners at Old Sturbridge Village and other re-creations of yesteryear, which focus on nostalgic practices.  If the effort succeeds, New Lebanon will join an emerging rural renaissance — a movement that some are calling “rural by choice” — in which small towns are reinventing themselves by embracing local skills and artisanship (and, unlike Marfa, Tex., without monetary or artistic firepower from New York).

NYTimes.com

Five myths about California’s drought

1. California knows how to manage droughts.  California is lurching through this drought like a man who thinks he is so rich he doesn’t have to balance his checkbook. Much of the state’s agriculture is relying on unmonitored pumping of more groundwater from aquifers, a backup source of water during droughts. 2. The drought will sharply increase food prices.  Overall, the drought has reduced surface water supplies in California by one-third. However, increases in pumping underground water will make up three-quarters of this shortfall. When coupled with some shifting of crops, this will be sufficient to supply most fruit, nut and vegetable crops. Lost production will be mostly in commodities such as wheat, cotton and corn that can be grown elsewhere. 3. Conservation and technology are the answers.  Managing drought by improving technology is part of the solution, but it isn’t enough..

Washington Post

Desperately Dry California Tries to Curb Private Drilling for Water

For a century, farmers believed that the law put control of groundwater in the hands of landowners, who could drill as many wells as deeply as they wanted, and court challenges were few.  That just changed. The California Legislature, in its closing hours passed new and sweeping groundwater controls. The measures do not eliminate private ownership, but they do establish a framework for managing withdrawals through local agencies.

NYTimes.com

Chance of 'megadrought' in U.S. Southwest now 50%

LATimes.com

Still Searching: Job Vacancies and STEM Skills

The median duration of advertising for a STEM vacancy is more than twice as long as for a non-STEM vacancy. For STEM openings requiring a Ph.D. or other professional degree, advertisements last an average of 50 days, compared to 33 days for all non-STEM vacancies. Even sub-bachelor’s STEM job openings take longer to fill than non-STEM jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree. Health care and computer openings are advertised 23 and 15 days longer, on average, than openings for non-STEM occupations, like those in office and administrative support. Moreover, professional STEM vacancies take longer to fill now than before the recession, while vacancies for lower-skilled occupations remain much easier to fill. These indicators signal that STEM skills are in short supply in the labor market, relative to demand.

Brookings.edu

Grain Genotyping Center goes to Fargo

The National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board announced that Fargo, N.D., will be the site of the National Agricultural Genotyping Center.

Kmaland.com

Alliance Releases Reports from 2014 Animal Rights Conferences

Conference Speakers Highlight “Successes” but Note In-fighting among Animal Rights Groups. The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report that chronicles observations from the 33rd annual Animal Rights National Conference presented by The Farm Animal Rights Movement and the Humane Society of the United States’ Taking Action for Animals  conference. Collectively, more than 2,500 people, many from foreign countries including; Brazil, Canada, India and Europe, attended the conferences.   Though all of the speakers noted the “great successes” that have been achieved by the movement for animals raised on farms, in zoos and aquariums, and utilized in medical research—numerous speakers also discussed discrepancies in the movement; noting in-fighting among group leaders and dissention in the ranks.    Specifically, FARM founder Alex Hershaft noted that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Ingrid Newkirk had not attended the annual animal rights conference in more than 13 years—despite repeated invitations for her to speak. Hershaft and other speakers also expressed frustration in how the movement lacked coordination. Said Hershaft, “If our opponents knew how little we communicated, they would be amazed.”  

Animal Ag Alliance   

Giving Up My Small-Town Fantasy

By early this year, I had had enough. It was time to move to the city. Patrick felt torn about leaving such a cheap setup for writing, but as the snows continued into March, he saw the wisdom of a more connected life. In August, I began a job in Manhattan and we set about dismantling the home we had made. We can’t let go completely — I love Hudson, I have started whining to friends — so we’ll become those annoying weekenders, the kind who keep the stores buzzing in the summer but shuttered in the winter.  Immediately, of course, nostalgia kicked in: It was so easy to want to live in Hudson, so hard to actually live in Hudson.  Reflexively, I continued to try to meet people. My new Pilates friend, Jill, and I chatted as we left the building together. It turned out that she was just summering in Hudson, eager to see if small-town living would deliver on its promise of outdoor amenities and a better quality of life. We both agreed that there was so much interesting stuff happening, so many cool new art galleries, so many good restaurants and friendly people. “I really like Hudson,” she said, looking guilty, “but I’m moving to L.A. next week.”

NYTimes.com

Former Head of ASPCA Takes Over at PIJAC Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council

Edwin J. Sayres, a former ASPCA executive has been hired as president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council in a move the organization acknowledged is controversial because of his past statements condemning animal breeding and sales. PIJAC is a nonprofit industry group that promotes responsible pet ownership and animal welfare and lobbies against initiatives that seek to curtail the sale and availability of pets.

Veterinary Practice News

Food News

Project exposes challenges of local growing

What had been open, grassy area in a Dearborn neighborhood park is now marked with hurricane fencing, a locked gate and heaps of rock matter.  On a fraction of the 2.5 acres on the city's west side, one can see some peppers, green vegetables and herbs growing, along with numerous weeds. There are stacks of bricks and wooden pallets. A greenhouse is pocked with holes from rocks people have thrown over the fence.  Started more than four years ago through a lease with the city, this is the Crowley Park Sustainable Organic Farm.  The farm was envisioned as a sustainable source of healthy, eco-friendly food for neighbors and people in need. But lately, it illustrates the challenges of urban agriculture that aren't always obvious from the start.  To Maureen McIlrath, 48, the garden's coordinator, the dream of a sustainable farm — complete with apple and peach orchards, grazing goats and domesticated ducks — remains a lofty ambition.  "I think I was a bit naive as to the amount of labor that goes into farming," she said. "I now have a greater appreciation for where my food comes from and what farmers do."  McIlrath has endured problems with water source, poison ivy, weeds, funding and volunteers.  Because of problems setting up a reliable water source this season, she wasn't able to rent out plots behind the fencing as she had previously. In late July, she met with City Council members who told her that marked improvements are needed, or she could lose the site

Livingston Daily

A New Network For Investing In Vermont's Food Economy

Purchasing a CSA isn't the only way for individuals to invest in Vermont's food economy. Or, it won't be, when Slow Money Vermont gets off the ground.  The new network, an offshoot of the national movement that aims to "bring money back down to earth," will connect local entrepreneurs with investors in an effort to contribute to the state's sustainable food economy.  "The idea is really about creating a community of investors that have a shared vision of supporting the local economy and the local food system by putting their money where their mouths are," according to Eric Becker, one of the organizers of Slow Money Vermont. The network will serve both traditional investors and "the main street investor," Becker said in a phone interview Friday. That investor, in his mind, is someone who has between $1,000 and $5,000 that she's looking to put to use. "Vermont already has a robust support system for food and farm businesses, as embodied in the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, but the gap that Slow Money will address here is that there hasn't been a good way for individuals to participate by putting their investment dollars into this area. This is a way for them to actually to take the next step of perhaps taking their money out of Wall Street and putting it into the local community and into the local food system." 

VPR

Is Hyatt The Next Chipotle?

My mother-in-law attended an agricultural conference at a Hyatt Regency earlier this summer and found the food they served to be interesting, to say the least. Every food item was labeled to describe exactly where and how it was raised and produced. She found it curious that none of the agvocates in the room commented on the cage-free eggs or organic yogurt made from milk from grass-fed cows. And she really was curious why an agricultural group would ever host a meeting at a Hyatt Regency.  Don’t misunderstand. Neither my mother-in-law or I have a problem with organic or grass-fed or cage-free or any of the other new, trendy ways food is marketed these days. But when it’s presented in a way that implies that foods from traditional agricultural practices are evil, then it’s time to speak up. A simple burger and fries from McDonald’s is seen as a morally-corrupt food choice. Do you want fries with that burger? Sure, but only if the beef is all-natural, grass-fed and organic, and the potatoes were raised organically, with no pesticides, fertilizers or GMOs.  This mentality comes from the notion that modern technology is bad, and anyone who utilizes these tools must be corrupt

BEEF

Sign open letter to Hyatt about dishonest food marketing effort

There is a fast-growing trend for consumers to know more about where their food comes from and how it was raised. Conventional, modern food production is seen as “factory farming” and small, specialized niche food items are seen as the utopia.

Truth in Food

GMO labeling a debate for the well-fed

Ben & Jerry's, which dishes out pricey ice cream, long ago made the claim that its products are made with milk from cows that were not supplemented with "growth hormones”.  Never mind that cows make their own bST, which promotes lactation.  In truth, rbST is almost identical to bST. On milk cartons that state that the milk came from rbST-free cows, the FDA requires the labels to carry a disclaimer that there is no difference between milk from cows that were supplemented with rbST and cows that were not.  Now, Ben & Jerry's says its plan is for all of its products to contain non-genetically modified ingredients by the end of the year.  That is just fine, if you want to pay the inflated price.  The problem, in my opinion, is very complex yet very simple.  First of all, the push to source non-GM products, and the drive for mandatory labeling, will surely turn uninformed but fearful consumers to non-GM products if they can afford that option, just like labeling did in the European Union. This will drive up the cost of food. Period.  Second, passing laws that require labeling of GM products because of consumers' unfounded fears will drive producers to go the non-GM route. However, the consequence is that this eliminates so much good technology that helps feed a growing world population, most of whom cannot afford the inflated prices.  This move will markedly decrease or even eliminate beets that are herbicide tolerant, corn that is insect resistant and soybeans that are drought resistant.

Feedstuffs

N.D. Has Lowest Hunger Risk as 49 Million in U.S. Strain

An estimated 8.7 % of North Dakota households were at risk of hunger in 2013, compared with 14.3 % of U.S. households, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in an annual report. Virginia was second lowest, at 9.5 %, the USDA reported, and Arkansas was highest at 21.2 %.

Bloomberg

Appetite grows for older groceries

A growing number of consumers are seeking out packaged food that is close to or just past expiration, or discarded by major retailers due to slightly damaged packaging. While many who buy such food are pressed for cash and looking for a deal, others are concerned that good food is being wasted.  As a result, more dated or dented stock is entering the mainstream, increasingly sold by secondhand retailers like B&E Salvage, or distributed by food banks.  Experts say raising awareness about older packaged food can steer more of it to tables instead of landfills, which is increasingly important because an estimated one in six households in the United States struggle to put food on the table. 

USA Today

Veganism not an identity

In a sound bite during an NPR segment, an individual declared, "I'm a vegan, and proud of it."  Given the myriad things someone might share, that seemed like a strange choice to proclaim one's identity.  More commonly, someone might share with you gratification over a major accomplishment or expertise. But being vegan? There are no barriers to entry; anyone can be vegetarian or vegan. That made the man's pronouncement of pride in his lifestyle even more curious.  Furthermore, the "vegan" label is a pretty broad descriptor. People become vegans for different reasons. Simply declaring it doesn't really tell us much about one's respective discipline and fidelity to the vegan lifestyle. There's no accountability. Maybe you cheat once a year, once a month or once a week.  Sure, being vegan takes some work, but even with some disciplined planning, it really consists of nothing more than avoiding the dairy, egg and meat sections or swearing off leather seats.  To make it really work, the facet that matters most is the personal pronouncement: The vegan feels the need to tell people about what's in his grocery cart. 

Feedstuffs

Whole Foods Plays Bargain Grocer in Manhattan

Whole Foods Market, working to shed its “Whole Paycheck” image, has become one of the cheaper chains for grocery shopping in Manhattan, according to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence.  A basket of 97 items, including orange juice and frozen pizza, was $391.39 at Whole Foods, compared with $398.44 from Fresh Direct and $458.84 at Gristedes. Food Emporium and D’Agostino also were more expensive than Whole Foods in New York City.  The nation’s largest natural-goods grocer has been lowering its prices, especially on produce, to better compete with food sellers that are aggressively pushing into organics.

Bloomberg

Recent research on third-party audits

Until recently there has been little serious research on the most significant food safety advance in the last decade, the extraordinary growth of third party supplier audits. There are now over 500 food safety audit firms, many of which have global operations. The first comprehensive analysis of one of the most serious problems with private food safety auditing – auditor conflict of interest. Auditors are paid by the company being audited. Suppliers have an interest in finding the cheapest and least intrusive audit that will provide a certificate, and auditors have a financial incentive to reduce the cost and rigour of audits to get business in a very competitive environment. This study analyzes several oversight mechanisms that have been developed to mitigate the conflict problem, but concludes that at this time there are still too few financial incentives to assure more rigorous auditing.

Food in Canada

Eating an egg-based brunch right now? You might want to put your fork down

In embracing the medieval cruelty of the battery cage, Australia finds itself increasingly out of step with international norms. Since 2012, the European Union has completely banned the Australian method of cage production. New Zealand plans to phase it out by 2022. India, which is the world’s third largest producer of eggs, recently ruled the practice illegal. In the US, where a powerful farm lobby holds sway over law-makers, a more radical strategy is being tried. Bill Gates-backed startup Hampton Creek is selling plant-based alternatives to eggs that are cheaper than the real thing, one of a growing number of enterpreneurial ventures offering sustainable solutions to factory farming.

The Guardian

Enjoy Those Eggs From Cage Layers. 

They Are the Safest, Most Wholesome, Most Affordable and Most Humane Protein Source. When labels are attached to modern farming practices such as “medieval cruelty” or “moral responsibility to act by avoiding cage eggs” as occurred on 30 August in Chris Rodley’s editorial, “Eating Brunch Right Now, You Might Want to Put Your Fork Down” it’s time to evoke the comments from The Guardian Editor in 1921, C.P. Scott who stated “But facts are sacred”.  Mr. Rodley’s claims are devoid of facts.  In my forty years of professional study and experience in the egg industry and having traveled to six continents to give speeches on animal welfare and view poultry production in other lands, these are the facts: Chickens in conventional cages have significantly better livability than free-range chickens. Chickens in conventional cages produce more eggs, larger eggs, better grade eggs, and waste less feed than free-range.

Eggfarmers.org

Stay away from raw milk

There’s been yet another Campylobacter outbreak associated with raw milk, this time from a Utah dairy. That makes me mad. Why? Because it was totally preventable, and because an “unfazed” consumer, who fed this milk to his 2-year-old son and bragged about it represents the problem. The so-called benefits of raw vs. pasteurized milk are largely myth-based.   • Pasteurization doesn’t denature milk’s important nutrients. Just because it’s “natural” doesn’t make raw milk any more nutritious than pasteurized. 

The Spectrum

The Food Gap Is Widening

Wealthy people are eating better than ever, while the poor are eating worse. the widening gap is related to income and education and “presents a serious challenge to our society as a whole.” Hu also drew a parallel between diet quality and income trends, noting, “After the financial crisis, the top one % is doing very well—actually doing better, but the people in the low socioeconomic status groups are doing worse."

The Atlantic

Have We Reached Peak Burger?

Slower sales growth has many industry watchers forecasting the once unthinkable: the peaking of burger joint growth in the U.S. “Traditional fast food—McDonald’s, Sonic, Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell—are fairly well-saturated in this country with not a lot more room left for growth,” says Peter Saleh, senior research analyst at Telsey Advisory Group.

Bloomberg

The Hot Pursuit of Kale and Its Trendy Friends, and Rumors of Shortages

No need to hoard and freeze kale. Rumors of shortages were vastly exaggerated.  In case you missed it, there was a lot of buzz in early to mid-August about looming shortages in the tough, seemingly ubiquitous leafy green that has reigned as a darling of foodies for the last couple of years.  But grocers and growers have tamped down the apparently unfounded rumors that some seed shortfall would leave produce bins bereft of the coveted curly greens rich in vitamins A,C and K But there are concerns for some other highly coveted foods. With today’s tastes running to chia and the so-called ancient grains, like amaranth, flax and quinoa, there are concerns about some shortages.

NYTimes.com


Food-Stamp Use Starting to Fall

After soaring in the years since the recession, use of food stamps, one of the federal government's biggest social-welfare programs, is beginning to decline.  There were 46.2 million Americans on food stamps in May, the latest data available, down 1.6 million from a record 47.8 million in December 2012. Some 14.8% of the U.S. population is on the SNAP, down from 15.3% last August.

Wall Street Journal

Food Stamp Error Rate Declined as Rolls Grew

Despite a Great Recession-fueled expansion in food stamp rolls, the percentage of Americans mistakenly receiving too much or too little under the program is at an all-time low.  In 37 states, error rates fell between fiscal year 2008 (the recession officially began in December 2007) through fiscal year 2013.  The average error rate among all 50 states and the District of Columbia declined nearly 4 percentage points. Eight states saw their error rates fall more than that, including a decline of more than 6 percentage points in Alaska, and decreases of more than 5 percentage points in Louisiana, Maine, Texas and Virginia. 

Stateline

US rail chiefs in plea on grain delays

Senior executives from two of North America’s biggest rail operators on pleaded with regulators not to force them to take other operators’ trains on their networks in areas of the northern plains plagued by severe freight delays.  The executives from BNSF, operator of the US’s second-biggest rail network, and Canadian Pacific were speaking at a Surface Transportation Board field hearing in Fargo, North Dakota.  The hearing heard how farmers in the northern plains – including North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana – faced severe delays moving last year’s bumper harvest because of rail congestion caused by a rapid increase in the number of trains.  There is growing concern that there could be similar delays for this year’s harvest, which is already starting for some crops and is also expected to be large.  Some power plants in North Dakota are operating at lower-than-needed levels because they are receiving fewer coal trains than they require. The delays also risked restricting production at American Crystal Sugar’s coal-fuelled refinery in Hillsboro, North Dakota.

Financial Times

STB hears from legislators, ag commissioners and coal industry in Fargo

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is made history in North Dakota, holding its first field hearing there, and packing in a crowd of testifiers and onlookers concerned about whether railroads can make the trains run on time.  North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple began the hearing by quoting a recent letter from the Wilton (N.D.) Farmers Union Elevator Co. about an order made in January for April 8 placement that was expected at the end of August. Dalrymple said the hearing is “about the individual elevators and farmers out there who have no place to go, no recourse, no power over the situation, except for you.” He said the impact of late shipments has been in the “hundreds of millions of dollars” for North Dakota farmers, and the damage is continuing. He noted that the North Dakota State Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks shut down 25 times this year because of delays in rail shipments.  Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has instituted plans to invest in and improve its service, but Canadian Pacific Railway has not provided sufficient information. 

Agweek

Rail Companies Issue New Status Reports on Grain Car Backlog

Congressman Kevin Cramer announced BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway  have publicly filed updated weekly status reports on the backlog in grain shipments. The figures from BNSF show a total of 1,016 past due rail cars in North Dakota averaging 10 days late as of August 28, compared to the report the previous week which indicated 1,336 past due cars were averaging 10.2 days late. The CP report shows a total of 7,535 open requests in North Dakota with an average age of 13.14 weeks. The previous report showed 10,266 open requests with an average age of 12.71 weeks.

Cramer.house.gov

USDA oversight of Recovery Act spending faulted by OIG

A USDA Inspector General's review has determined that the department was not sufficiently prepared to handle the mountain of cash - more than $28 billion -- that it was handed by the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  As a result, the OIG said it uncovered a total of about $5 billion in questionable or unsupported costs which it said it has documented in 80 previous reports. The OIG audits resulted in 84 convictions and total recoveries of $11 million, and an additional $1.5 million in forfeitures and seizures.

Agri-pulse.com

‘To-do list’ on food safety grows longer for feds

The largest food safety overhaul in generations is being starved of funding needed to enforce a host of new regulations for factories, farms and importers, safety advocates warn.   The 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act was billed as creating a fundamental shift in the way government protects the nation’s food supply against the threat of food-borne illness. But despite bipartisan and industry support for the program, only a fraction of the funding needed to implement and enforce it has materialized. Now, with most fiscal 2015 funding issues likely in limbo until after the midterm elections, uncertainty remains.  Without additional funding, priorities of the ambitious initiative could fall short, public interest groups fear. 

The Hill

Senators want to include GIPSA rules in USDA funding

A bipartisan group of 13 senators asked leaders of the Senate Committee on Appropriations to exclude a policy rider in the agriculture appropriations bill that would halt certain USDA livestock marketing rules.  The House's agriculture appropriations bill includes a rider that would prevent the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from finalizing several rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Agri-pulse.com

Federal Reserve Beige Book-August 2014

Federal Reserve Board’s Commentary on Current Economic Condition found crop prices decreasing, livestock producers benefiting from this. Parts of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama experienced abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. The USDA designated several counties in the Florida Panhandle as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain earlier this year. There is concern that crops in then north may not fully mature before first frosts.

Federalreserve.gov

Farm Program Sign Up Will be Complicated

Signing up for the new  government farm program as part of the new Farm Bill is going to be complicated and could take up to 6 months to complete. Sign up will be a 2 step process that will likely stretch well into 2015. Step one is to update your yield and base acreage.  Mintert says the Purdue Center for Commercial Ag is recommending growers also take the opportunity to update their base acres, but admits this decision is a little less clear cut,

Hoosier Ag Today

Chesapeake Bay, EPA and agriculture

Washington Post reporter Darryl Fears wrote and article, “Alarming ‘dead zone’ grows in Chesapeake”  that summarized the concern of Virginia and Maryland officials who “said the expanding area of oxygen-starved water is on track to become the bay’s largest ever.”  The water quality problems in the Chesapeake Bay have a long history. Despite 30 years of work to improve the water quality, “a 2007 evaluation concluded that insufficient progress was being made toward load reductions.” As a result the “U.S. EPA established a Total Maximum Daily Load for the Bay…. It sets emission limits for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment across the Bay jurisdictions that are believed necessary to meet applicable water quality standards in the Bay and its tidal rivers and embayments. In late 2013, a couple of farm-related organizations and a home builder association filed an appeal of a ruling by the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that the EPA was operating within its legal authority to work with the states contributing water to the Chesapeake Bay to set limits on the discharge of nutrients and sediments into the bay.  While point sources of pollution like industrial plants and municipal wastewater treatment plants can be regulated by the EPA, agricultural discharge of water is exempt from regulation by the EPA. In general, agricultural activity is a nonpoint source of pollution. Water coming off agricultural land can, however, be regulated by the states, thus the lawsuit against the current process by which the EPA sets the limits for the affected states which the states then allocate among polluters, including agriculture.

Ag Policy

USDA To Launch First National Study of Bison Industry

This initiative is intended to increase knowledge and understanding about the characteristics, health and management practices, and challenges facing bison operations in the US.

National Bison Association

Hundreds of Fast-Food Workers Striking for Higher Wages Are Arrested

Nearly 500 fast-food workers and labor allies demanding a $15-an-hour wage were arrested in sit-ins around the country on Thursday, as the protesters used civil disobedience to call attention to their cause.

NYTimes.com

US manufacturing grows at fastest pace in over three years

US manufacturing grew in August at the strongest pace in more than three years as factories cranked out more goods and new orders rose. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index rose to 59 from 57.1 in July, the ISM said Tuesday. That was the highest reading since March 2011. Any measure above 50 signals that manufacturing is growing. The ISM report coincides with other signs that manufacturing is helping drive the US economy's improvement. Factories are benefiting from strong demand for aircraft, furniture, and steel and other metals. The boost from manufacturing has helped offset slower homebuilding, a slowdown in consumer purchases and weaker spending on utilities and other services.

Christian Science Monitor

Reshoring Or Offshoring: U.S. Manufacturing Forecast 2015-2016

Shipping across oceans has become cheap, as has international communication, so offshoring, reshoring or never changing are vital decisions. The outlook for manufacturing activity in the United States depends on many factors, including the overall state of the economy. Many generalizations are made, such as “American manufacturing is dead” or “manufacturing is coming back to the United States.” Unfortunately, the world is too complicated for simple conclusions. Some industries are, in fact, dead in this country. Other industries, though, are returning production to the U.S. Others never left and are doing just fine, thank you very much.  To look into the future, let’s first review where we’ve been, and  then figure out the challenges to local production and the challenges to offshore production. At that point we can forecast which sectors will expand in the United States and which will use overseas locations. 

Forbes.com

Japan, Hong Kong bar N.J. poultry on bird flu fears

Findings of low pathogenic H7 avian influenza in ducks and pheasants in New Jersey prompted Japan and Hong Kong to suspend imports of poultry from the state.

Meatingplace.com

U.S. dairy groups oppose Canadian market access restrictions

A coalition of 16 dairy companies and organizations are joining to fight a plan to further restrict U.S. access to the tight Canadian cheese market.  The coalition, spearheaded by a group of cheese manufacturers, dairy cooperatives and trading companies, was formed to oppose a plan that would sizably reduce access for U.S. exports to enter Canada through low-tariff avenues by reserving a much larger slice of access to the Canadian market for the European Union.  In addition to hurting U.S. cheese exports, the organizations say the Canadian plan violates the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which bars countries from using free trade agreements to restrict trade. 

Dairy herd

Dairy auction prices drop again

Russia's ban on food imports from Europe is contributing to the fall in dairy prices, economists say.  Dairy prices fell 6 per cent at the latest Global Dairy Trade auction, the fourth fall of 4.9 per cent or more in the past five auctions.  The average winning price at the auction was US$2787 a tonne, down 45 per cent from the peak of US$5042 in February, while the trade-weighted Global Dairy Trade price index fell to 822 points, its lowest level since August 2012.  Economists said Russia's ban on food imports from most Western countries, including the United States, Australia and the 29 member countries of the European Union, had contributed to the decline.

Stuff.co.uk

Ministers back Food Crime Unit recommendation

Law enforcement agencies believe food crime is becoming a major problem.  International gangs are said to be diversifying elements of their operations from drug trafficking and armed robbery into fraudulent foods.  Michael Ellis, assistant director of Interpol, told BBC News: "This has changed the scope of investigations. Criminals have realised that they can make the same amount of money by dealing with counterfeit food. Invariably the sentences are much lighter.  "In my experience, the patterns used by criminals involved in counterfeiting are very similar to those used in the dealing of drugs. They operate front companies, they employ front bank accounts, they will have false declarations for the movement of their goods, they will mis-declare their shipments."  Operation Opson III in December 2013 and January 2014 involved coordinated raids across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe.  More than 131,000 litres of oil and vinegar, 20 tonnes of spices and condiments, nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drink and 45 tonnes of dairy products were seized. In addition, 96 people were arrested.

BBC.com

Energy and Renewables

Poet and DSM Open Commercial-Scale Cellulosic Fuel Plant

A joint venture of Poet LLC and Royal DSM NV opened a cellulosic-ethanol plant in Iowa with capacity to produce 20 million gallons of fuel a year.  The Project Liberty facility in Emmetsburg, which received a $105 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department in 2011, may eventually expand production to 25 million gallons a year, The plant produces fuel from corn cobs, husks and stalks, unlike standard ethanol that’s made from the edible parts of the plant. It’s an alternative to fossil fuels and won’t have to compete for feedstock with companies that sell corn for food.

Bloomberg

N.C. utilities to meet poultry waste goal; swine delayed

North Carolina electricity producers will meet a state mandate for generating power from poultry waste in 2014 but say they must delay a swine waste requirement for at least another year. At least 170,000 megawatt hours of electricity must come from poultry waste and 0.07 % of power sold to retail customers from swine waste this year, with the requirements due to increase in subsequent years.

Meatingplace

Keystone showdown: Battle over pipeline lands before Nebraska high court

The national debate on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will concentrate on Lincoln, Neb., Friday as that state’s Supreme Court hears arguments in a case examining whether lawmakers short-circuited the regular approval process in an attempt to expedite the pipeline’s construction.   The court’s ruling – not expected for several months -- could force President Obama’s hand in making a final decision whether to green light the oft-stalled project.  Protests and political outrage have accompanied the proposed pipeline for years, but quieted down in recent months because of the Nebraska litigation and the Obama administration’s decision to wait for a ruling in the case before moving forward. 

Foxnews.com

Speak Your Piece: A Climate of Change

There’s a perception that rural areas are less willing to deal with climate-change policy. A groundbreaking project in Minnesota shows that residents are ready to talk and take action, when the conversation addresses rural concerns.

Daily Yonder

EPA’s Renewable Fuel Quota May Rise as Gasoline Sales Climb

U.S. renewable fuel quotas may end up higher than a proposal issued last year because gasoline use is climbing, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator Gina McCarthy said.  She declined to discuss any specific figures, while laying out the rationale for a modest increase.  Tim Cheung, a research analyst at ClearView Energy Partners in Washington, predicted the EPA will require 13.6 billion gallons of ethanol be blended into gasoline for vehicles -- about 600 million gallons more than the agency proposed. 

Bloomberg

Bad news on biofuels

The EPA announced  that it remains “committed to biofuels” and that its goal is to put the renewable fuels program “on a path that supports continued growth.”  Let me translate that into English: “We’re cutting back on the ethanol mandate, mainly because of pressure from the oil industry, but we’ll pretend that the program is still full speed ahead because we don’t need any backlash from ethanol investors.”  The proposed cuts to the Renewable Fuel Standard from 18.15 billion gallons of biofuels to 15.21 billion gallons in 2014 represent a win for the oil industry, which has made no secret of its intention to force repeal of the biofuel mandate.

Cattle Network

Can Ethanol Save Brazil’s Sugar Sector?

Things aren’t looking so sweet for Brazil’s sugar sector, but the outcome of the presidential election could change matters.  Brazil is the world’s biggest producer of sugar and of ethanol made from sugar cane. Years of low prices for both have prompted dozens of mills to close and growers to cut back crop investments.  On top of that, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company subsidizes gasoline. That forces ethanol producers to set low prices in order to remain competitive.

Wall Street Journal

Under Putin's gaze, Gazprom starts mega-pipeline to China

President Vladimir Putin oversaw the start of construction on a giant pipeline that is due to ship $400 billion worth of Russian gas to China in the three decades after flows begin in 2019. 

Reuters

More AgClips

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Wealthy political donors seize on new latitude to give to unlimited candidates

Ohio casinos’ revenue promises haven’t panned out

BEEF Daily Reader Warns Of HSUS & eBay Link

Poultry industry video series highlights environmental stewardship

A Call for a Low-Carb Diet

Monsanto, Under Attack for GMOs, Has a New Defender

Marbling starts at cow/calf level

A new counter to GMO haters

Rebuilding U.S. Animal Industries

Farmer (Allegedly) Sprays Oncoming Car With Whole Load Of Manure

Drought Re-shaping the Cattle Map

CME Group smartphone game lets students "beef up" on agriculture economics

McDonald's to boost China supplier audits after food safety scandal

Free BQA Certifications from Sept. 1-Oct. 31

Maryland Sea Grant Hosts Nova Scotia Shellfish Farmers

Iowa packer fined for fish kill

Just Telling His Story

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Lauren Greer Carolyn Orr, Ph.D.