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Agriculture News

Try, try again: Advancing animal disease traceability

High Plains Journal | Posted on October 17, 2018

Getting a nationwide group of notoriously independent and private people to voluntarily turn over information to the government can be a difficult obstacle to overcome. The U.S. Department of Agriculture made a major push to identify and track livestock in 2007, back when South Dakota native Bruce Knight was undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. The “primary emphasis is about supporting animal health,” and supporting producers, Knight said at the time. Some livestock producers jumped on board, but many did not. Now, Greg Ibach, USDA’s current undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs is pushing hard once again—hoping to build on the vision that his predecessor outlined. He hopes producers will recognize the cost-benefit analysis that traceability presents and that food companies expect.“If we can get to the point where we help producers understand the risks and the benefits that might be associated with traceability, I think that they will see the value in it for them and they’ll be more apt to participate,” he said during an interview with Agri-Pulse.Ibach makes no secret about advancing animal disease traceability being a personal priority. For about 10 years now, his Nebraska ranch has been participating in a USDA Process Verified Program, which he says allows his cattle to qualify for a value-added program.USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently announced its “four overarching goals for advancing animal disease traceability.” The release highlighted USDA’s goal to push for electronic data sharing between states and the federal government, the use of electronic identification tags, enhancing birth-to-slaughter tracking ability and creating a system where animal health certificates are electronically shared with state health officials.

USDA invests in veteran farmers and ranchers

Delta Farm Press | Posted on October 17, 2018

USDA will issue $9.4 million in grants to provide enhanced training, outreach, and technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers. This funding is available through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Programmanaged by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. The program was created through the 1990 Farm Bill to help socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and foresters, who have historically experienced limited access to USDA loans, grants, training, and technical assistance. Provisions were expanded in the 2014 Farm Bill to include outreach and technical assistance to military veterans.Grants are awarded to higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations to extend USDA’s engagement efforts in underserved communities. Since 2010, the 2501 Program has distributed more than $93 million to 398 partners. 

Agricultural damage from Hurricane Michael forecast to top $1.3 billion, led by cotton and pecans

CNBC | Posted on October 17, 2018

Agricultural damage from Hurricane Michael's rampage last week is expected to top $1.3 billion in the Southeast, with $1.2 billion of the total in Georgia alone, according to officials. Cotton and pecan farmers suffered the worst damage in Alabama and Georgia.Roughly 100 chicken houses were destroyed in Georgia, including more than 2 million chickens.Florida suffered damage to at least 3 million acres of timber as well as peanuts, cotton and other agricultural commodities.

84 Georgia poultry houses lost to Hurricane Michael

Watt AgNet | Posted on October 17, 2018

Hurricane Michael was responsible for the loss of at least 84 poultry houses and 2 million birds in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Oregon megadairy Lost Valley Farm fined $187,320 for 224 environmental violations

Statesman Journal | Posted on October 17, 2018

Oregon regulators have fined Lost Valley Farm, the state’s second-largest dairy, $187,320 for 224 violations of its wastewater permit. The penalty comes as the dairy’s owner, Greg te Velde, faces bankruptcy proceedings, a pending permit revocation, criminal contempt of court sanctions and felony drug charges in two states.The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced the fine exclusively in a tweet Friday afternoon. It’s the largest fine the agency has ever imposed on a dairy or other confined animal operation.

Study shows impact of tariffs on farmers

High Plains Journal | Posted on October 16, 2018

Tariffs are an ongoing concern for farmers as harvest is delayed due to wet conditions in many areas of the Midwest. Even with the trade deals made with Mexico and Canada, concerns continue. A new study led by John Crespi, interim director at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University, shows the impact of trade disruptions due to tariffs estimates losses to Iowa’s gross state product in the range of $1 billion to $2 billion.“The farm crisis of the 1980s, of course, was much worse because it also came at a time of very high interest rates and record farm debt,” Crespi said. “An interesting déjá vu with the farm crisis of the 1980s is that much of the impact was linked to policies out of Washington.”The CARD study calculates Iowa’s soybean industry facing losses between $159 million and $891 million. Iowa’s corn industry may lose between $90 million and $579 million. Losses in the hog industry could be $558 million to $955 million. Ethanol production is estimated to lose $150 million.

Iowa Supreme Court takes Pinky the dog's case, will decide fate of Des Moines ordinance

Des Moines Register | Posted on October 16, 2018

The Iowa Supreme Court will decide whether the ordinance used to confine a Des Moines dog for two years as a dangerous animal is unconstitutional. The court will accept briefs Tuesday in the case of Helmers v. City of Des Moines, which concerns a dog named Pinky whom the city deemed to be dangerous and impounded for two years after she injured a neighbor's cat during a fight.The city moved to have Pinky destroyed, but instead she remained confined at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, which contracts with the city, while her case worked its way through the court system. Pinky was released in April after the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled in the dog's favor by finding that the law is unconstitutionally vague.In a concurrence with the majority opinion, Appeals Court Judge Richard Doyle wrote that "the city of Des Moines has been unwavering in its mission to kill Pinky."The city appealed the decision to Iowa's high court, which will have the final say on the constitutionality of the ordinance in its current form.Lawyers for Helmers argue Pinky was improperly seized from her previous owners in violation of the city's ordinance and without notice or a declaration that she was dangerous. They say the seizure violates due process and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution, which protect against unreasonable search and seizures.

Bayer Weighs Selling Its Vet Unit in Post-Monsanto Revamp

Bloomberg | Posted on October 15, 2018

Bayer AG is considering a sale of its animal-health business as it scrutinizes its portfolio in the aftermath of the $63 billion Monsanto Co. acquisition, people familiar with the company’s plans said.Bayer is evaluating animal health as part of a broader review, though a sale isn’t imminent, said the people, who asked not to be named because the appraisal hasn’t been made public. No final decisions have been made, and it’s still possible the German company could decide to keep the business.

USMCA Paves the Way for Biotech Innovation

Biotech Now | Posted on October 15, 2018

fter more than a year of high-stakes drama, the U.S. has inked an updated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, otherwise known as the USMCA, has achieved an important step in bringing our neighboring countries closer to high U.S. intellectual property standards that have made us the world leader in biotechnology innovation.“The USMCA sets important new standards for U.S. trade policy by ensuring trading partners establish policies that protect, respect, and advance the hard work and investment needed to bring new biotechnology innovations from the lab to the marketplace.”

Trump trade war delivers farm boom in Brazil, gloom in Iowa

Reuters | Posted on October 15, 2018

The Bella Vita luxury condominium tower rises 20 stories over the boomtown of Luís Eduardo Magalhaes in northeastern Brazil. Its private movie theater and helipad are symbols of how far this dusty farming community has come since it was founded just 18 years ago. Local soybean producers shell out upward of a half-million U.S. dollars to live in the complex. Nearby farm equipment sellers, car dealerships and construction supply stores are bustling.Nearly 5,000 miles to the north in Boone, Iowa, farmers are hunkering down. At a recent agriculture trade show, Iowa corn and soybean grower Steve Sheppard reflected the cautious mood.“I’m not buying any machinery, I’m not spending any money,” Sheppard said.Two countries. Same business. Two different fates. The reason: China.