Cargill Inc. reported a 66% jump in profits for its most recent quarter, driven by expanding beef supplies and consumers’ rising appetite for burgers and steaks. A rebound in the Minnesota agricultural conglomerate’s U.S. meat business, also lifted by chicken and turkey sales, helped raise Cargill’s net earnings to $852 million for the fiscal first quarter, even as sales declined slightly. Cargill said the results illustrated how a wide-ranging revamp of its voluminous business portfolio is paying off. Over the past two years, Cargill has shuttered plants, shed assets and spun off operations while acquiring new processing capabilities and investing in higher-profit meat and ingredient businesses, following several years of sliding profits.
our industrialized food system nourishes more people, at lower cost, than any comparable system in history. It also exerts a terrifyingly massive influence on our health and our environment. Photographer George Steinmetz spent nearly a year traveling the country to capture that system, in all its scope, grandeur and dizzying scale. His photographs are all the more remarkable for the fact that so few large food producers are willing to open themselves to this sort of public view.
Major drone manufacturers have created their own industry advocacy group focused on unmanned aircraft for the growing consumer market. The Drone Manufacturers Alliance “will serve as the voice for drone manufacturers and our customers across civilian, governmental, recreational, commercial, nonprofit and public safety applications,” Kara Calvert, director of the new coalition.
An emergency relief fund created in 2008 to help New Hampshire dairy farmers was never funded, but state officials said Monday they want to get money to farmers struggling with low milk prices and drought conditions by December. Nineteen of the state’s 120 dairies have closed in recent months. The state had lost 10 dairies over the previous four years combined. New Hampshire’s agriculture commissioner, Lorraine Merrill, said it’s time to “stop the hemorrhaging.” “We’ve been losing dairy farms at an accelerated pace, and we know that we have a number of them that are really kind of perched on the edge of a cliff at this point, getting bids from cattle dealers on how much they would get for their herds,” Merrill said. The board said it plans to come up with an amount by next week and help create a task force of legislators to hold a hearing on the proposal. It said the goal is to get the money to farmers by the time the Legislature is sworn in Dec. 7. “Some of these farmers aren’t going to make it to Christmas,” said Republican Rep. Bob Haefner, of Hudson, chairman of the fund’s board.
Food and agriculture entrepreneurs took the stage at the White House lawn for SXSL 2016 to discuss the potential and limits of technology to feed a burgeoning world population. According to the most recent available estimates from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 793 million people in the world do not have enough to eat today. And with a global population expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050, the U.S Agency for International Development (US AID) expects that agricultural production will need to increase by at least 60% from current levels to serve our nutritional needs. The founder of Food + Tech Connect — a media company that focuses its reporting and events on improving our global food systems — Danielle Gould, moderated the discussion. Gould pointed out that in recent years, consumers have been driving big trends in food production and retail — they want more food that’s produced locally, organically, and with ingredients that are clearly listed by producers.
The domestic dairy industry in Canada has proved to be a strong economic driver increasing its GDP from C$15.2bn ($11.6bn) in 2009 to C$19.9bn ($15.2bn) in 2015, according to a new report from the Dairy Farmers of Canada titled “Update on the Economic Impacts of the Dairy Industry in 2015.”
Genetic modification will be extended to many more crops. It will be used to enhance the nutritional value of rice—such as with Golden Rice, which is fortified to provide vitamin A—as well as cassava, two major staples. Insect resistance will be conferred on more crops and widened to protect against more pests, reducing food waste and spoilage, especially in the developing world. The strides that GMO crops have already made against drought and heat stress will accelerate. Yields and yield stability will increase for plantation crops like palm, coffee, cocoa and trees for paper.
Carter Chavez saw plenty of online job platforms for produce executives, but little to help harvesters find work. So he started QuickHarvester.com. Chavez, CEO of San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based Quick Harvester Inc., started the company within the past year and the website went live this summer. “I worked for Talley Farms in Arroyo Grande for a while and realized they never had enough labor, like the majority of farms,” he said. “I realized there was no online, easy way for the farmers to connect with the workers.” The project remains in beta, but growers and workers alike use it, he said. Chavez plans to expand the service beyond the Central Coast region, which includes Santa Maria, to other major production areas, starting with Fresno and Oxnard. “We’re still adding features and eliminating bugs,” he said. “We’re looking for feedback, so it’s free to use.” At the website, a grower signs up and posts job descriptions. Workers who’ve signed up are notified — usually in Spanish — by text message or e-mail. If interested, they click. The grower receives their information and calls to schedule an interview.
Drug resistant bacteria is showing its face around the world and causing worry that the golden age of antibiotics is coming to a close. At the University of Melbourne in Australia researchers have been working on something called structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers (SNAPPs), tiny microscopic devices that are able to damage bacterial walls without using any drugs. Shaped like tiny stars, it is their shape that seems to be the mechanism that helps destroy cell walls and let ions move across the membrane without any regulation, eventually leading to cell death. Remarkably, the SNAPPs work equally well on all the Gram-negative bacteria trialed, including ESKAPE and colistin-resistant and MDR (CMDR). The investigators showed that the engineered polymers have low toxicity and that bacteria doesn’t seem to develop a resistance to them.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association and its Soil Health Partnership a $1 million Conservation Innovation Grant to help farmers better understand and adopt farming practices that help reduce climate change impacts. As a result, Monsanto announced it also intends to make an additional investment of $1.6 million in this collaborative effort to help provide expertise, tools and needed resources to further develop a system that will help verify and quantify greenhouse gas reductions from carbon smart farming practices.