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Farm Economy Softens Further

Kansas CIty Fed | Posted on August 22, 2017 in Agriculture News

A prolonged downturn in the agricultural economy continued in the second quarter of 2017, but recent data suggest conditions in the farm sector may be stabilizing. Although farm income and farm real estate values continued to decline, and credit conditions weakened further, the pace of deterioration has slowed. With the fall harvest approaching, agricultural lenders and borrowers remain concerned about prospects for the farm economy in the Federal Reserve’s Tenth District, particularly in regions with limited potential for high crop yields.

Is Vegan Farming the Next Plant-Based Phenomenon?

Civil eats | Posted on August 22, 2017 in Agriculture News

But there’s a new contender looking for members, offering something unique, something more than just its cheeky name: Lazy Millennial Farms. The founders of the Salinas-based farm believe it is the only farm in the Bay Area that’s growing crops veganically. That means no animal fertilizers, fish emulsions, blood or bone meal (dried animal bones and blood that is processed from the remains at slaughterhouses) that are relied upon so heavily in organic farming.

Texas investigates brucellosis, warns against K-Bar raw milk

Food Safety News | Posted on August 22, 2017 in Rural News

Texas officials say all raw milk and other unpasteurized products from K-Bar Dairy should not be consumed and should immediately be discarded because the dairy has been linked to an antibiotic-resistant strain of Brucella bacteria that has hospitalized at least one person. “At this time, it is uncertain how long Brucella (bacteria) may have been present in the raw milk from this dairy. Testing is ongoing in an attempt to answer that question,” according to the Monday alert from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

SARL Members and Alumni News

Examining Farm Sector and Farm Household Income

USDA | Posted on August 21, 2017

Farm sector net cash income is expected to decline 35 percent between 2013 and 2016, following several years of record highs—though it will remain near its recent 10-year average.  Starting in the late 1990s, the median household income for farm households has exceeded the median income of all U.S. households; in 2015, farm households had a median total household income of $76,735, a third greater than that of all U.S. households but less than that of U.S. households with a self-employed head.

Photovoice for Agricultural Resilience: Farmers educate decision-makers through photos.

Snohomosh Conservation District  | Posted on August 17, 2017

Seven farms took part in the Photovoice Project hosted by the Snohomish Conservation District and The Nature Conservancy. Through a series of four workshops, participants responded to two questions - "Why is agriculture important to our community?" and "What are the major challenges facing agriculture?" - through photos and discussion. Farmers each selected three of their photos, including captions, that are now part of this exhibition.

Judge: New Arizona law regulating citizen initiatives can take effect, for now

Arizona Central | Posted on August 15, 2017

A new state law making it tougher for residents to put issues on the ballot will take effect Wednesday, a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge has ruled.  But "it's certainly a possibility" the ruling will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, said attorney Roopali Desai, who represents those challenging the law.

High-tech ideas to fix opioid crisis compete for Ohio grants

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on August 15, 2017

 A call by Republican Gov. John Kasich for scientific breakthroughs to help solve the opioid crisis is drawing interest from dozens of groups with ideas including remote controlled medication dispensers, monitoring devices for addicts, mobile apps and pain-relieving massage gloves.The state has received project ideas from 44 hospitals, universities and various medical device, software and pharmaceutical developers that plan to apply for up to $12 million in competitive research-and-development grants.

SARL member wins special state Senate election to succeed lieutenant governor (also a SARL member)

News-Leader | Posted on August 15, 2017

Rep. Sandy Crawford, R-Buffalo, ensured future GOP control a southwest Missouri Senate seat by defeating Democrat Al Skalicky in a special election Tuesday to succeed Lt. Gov. Mike Parson. Crawford had been elected four times to the Missouri House.

Agriculture News

Farm Economy Softens Further

Kansas CIty Fed | Posted on August 22, 2017

A prolonged downturn in the agricultural economy continued in the second quarter of 2017, but recent data suggest conditions in the farm sector may be stabilizing. Although farm income and farm real estate values continued to decline, and credit conditions weakened further, the pace of deterioration has slowed. With the fall harvest approaching, agricultural lenders and borrowers remain concerned about prospects for the farm economy in the Federal Reserve’s Tenth District, particularly in regions with limited potential for high crop yields.

Is Vegan Farming the Next Plant-Based Phenomenon?

Civil eats | Posted on August 22, 2017

But there’s a new contender looking for members, offering something unique, something more than just its cheeky name: Lazy Millennial Farms. The founders of the Salinas-based farm believe it is the only farm in the Bay Area that’s growing crops veganically. That means no animal fertilizers, fish emulsions, blood or bone meal (dried animal bones and blood that is processed from the remains at slaughterhouses) that are relied upon so heavily in organic farming.

U.S. produce growers deeply divided over NAFTA

Politico | Posted on August 22, 2017

The produce industry is at war with itself over a protectionist proposal the Trump administration is preparing to submit in the NAFTA talks that exposes a deep regional fault line among growers. Southeastern produce growers struggling to compete with cheaper Mexican imports have long lobbied for relief under NAFTA, with little to show for it. Now, with few agricultural groups calling for significant changes to the pact, the “America First” Trump administration has seized on the plight of southeastern produce growers, putting their concerns at the forefront of the national trade agenda.U.S.

U.S. seeks WTO dispute panel on China's grain import quotas

Reuters | Posted on August 22, 2017

The United States has requested a World Trade Organization panel be set up to investigate Chinese tariff-rate quotas for agricultural products, the WTO said on Monday, setting up a showdown between the two largest economies. The row, which includes tariffs for wheat, rice, and corn, was initiated under the Obama administration which sought consultations on Dec. 15, but now the Trump administration has moved ahead with a formal request. The item appears on the formal agenda of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body meeting set for Aug. 31, issued on Monday.

EPA goes after Times on chlorpyrifos

Agri-Pulse | Posted on August 22, 2017

The EPA is pushing back against a New York Times report that describes some of the internal deliberations leading up to the agency’s decision to deny a petition that sought to ban the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos.

Federal News

U.S. produce growers deeply divided over NAFTA

Politico | Posted on August 22, 2017

The produce industry is at war with itself over a protectionist proposal the Trump administration is preparing to submit in the NAFTA talks that exposes a deep regional fault line among growers. Southeastern produce growers struggling to compete with cheaper Mexican imports have long lobbied for relief under NAFTA, with little to show for it. Now, with few agricultural groups calling for significant changes to the pact, the “America First” Trump administration has seized on the plight of southeastern produce growers, putting their concerns at the forefront of the national trade agenda.U.S.

U.S. seeks WTO dispute panel on China's grain import quotas

Reuters | Posted on August 22, 2017

The United States has requested a World Trade Organization panel be set up to investigate Chinese tariff-rate quotas for agricultural products, the WTO said on Monday, setting up a showdown between the two largest economies. The row, which includes tariffs for wheat, rice, and corn, was initiated under the Obama administration which sought consultations on Dec. 15, but now the Trump administration has moved ahead with a formal request. The item appears on the formal agenda of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body meeting set for Aug. 31, issued on Monday.

EPA goes after Times on chlorpyrifos

Agri-Pulse | Posted on August 22, 2017

The EPA is pushing back against a New York Times report that describes some of the internal deliberations leading up to the agency’s decision to deny a petition that sought to ban the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos.

US beef struggles in China

Journal Gazette | Posted on August 21, 2017

At the Sam's Club store in Beijing's Shijingshan district, the chilled beef on offer is so dominated by Australian cuts – such as marbled rib-eye steaks and fatty oxtail chunks – that many customers are oblivious to the few packs of U.S. meat available. “I haven't noticed the U.S. beef here,” said Hui Xue, who was shopping for steaks that he cooks once a week. Even if he had spotted the produce, it probably wouldn't have gone into his cart.

FDA eases restrictions on ultra-filtered milk for cheese-making

Wisconsin State Farmer | Posted on August 21, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says ultra-filtered cow’s milk can now be used to make all types of natural cheeses, a move that Wisconsin cheese-makers have sought for nearly 20 years.

Rural News

Texas investigates brucellosis, warns against K-Bar raw milk

Food Safety News | Posted on August 22, 2017

Texas officials say all raw milk and other unpasteurized products from K-Bar Dairy should not be consumed and should immediately be discarded because the dairy has been linked to an antibiotic-resistant strain of Brucella bacteria that has hospitalized at least one person. “At this time, it is uncertain how long Brucella (bacteria) may have been present in the raw milk from this dairy. Testing is ongoing in an attempt to answer that question,” according to the Monday alert from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Examining Farm Sector and Farm Household Income

USDA | Posted on August 21, 2017

Farm sector net cash income is expected to decline 35 percent between 2013 and 2016, following several years of record highs—though it will remain near its recent 10-year average.  Starting in the late 1990s, the median household income for farm households has exceeded the median income of all U.S. households; in 2015, farm households had a median total household income of $76,735, a third greater than that of all U.S. households but less than that of U.S. households with a self-employed head.

Telemedicine extends healthcare to rural patients

Farm and Dairy | Posted on August 21, 2017

A doctor’s appointment, particularly with a specialist, can mean long hours of driving and sitting in waiting rooms. But a new telemedicine program through the Butler Health System in western Pennsylvania is giving patients more free time and less wait time. Telemedicine visits — where patients meet with doctors via a computer video connection instead of in person — allow patients to cut down on the lost time by staying closer to home.

Pig-to-person spread of flu at fairs a continued concern

Phys.org | Posted on August 21, 2017

The spread of influenza among pigs is common at fairs and other gatherings, and protective measures including cutting the length of time pigs and people congregate make good sense for both the animals and humans, say the authors of a new study. A team led by Andrew Bowman of The Ohio State University tracked human cases of H3N2 swine  associated with seven agricultural fairs in 2016. They tallied 18 cases in Ohio and Michigan documented after exposure to flu-infected pigs.

4 Reasons Manufacturing Jobs Are Returning to the USA

The Agurban | Posted on August 17, 2017

Manufacturing jobs are (still) being reshored to the US. Here are the main drivers behind this trend. 1. Automotive and Electronics Industry Growth, 2. Increased Labor Cost, 3. Logistical Challenges, 4. Lack of Skilled Workers

Energy News

Fracking debate ramps up again in Illinois with first permit application under new rules

Midwest Energy News | Posted on August 21, 2017

Four years ago, the Illinois legislature passed a law to regulate high volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, after months of contentious negotiations between oil industry interests, environmental watchdogs and community groups.

Missouri regulators deal Grain Belt Express another setback

Midwest Energy News | Posted on August 21, 2017

Even though four of its five members stated unequivocally that a proposed wind energy transmission line would be in the public interest, the Missouri Public Service Commission on Wednesday said it could not grant Clean Line Energy Partners a permit for development of the Grain Belt Express. The commission said it was constrained by a recent state appeals court ruling in a different transmission case.  A lawyer representing clean-energy interests said that another appeal is a near-certainty.

States Move to Encourage Community Solar

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on August 21, 2017

The number of U.S. homeowners who have their own solar panels has been growing steadily since 2000. But as that market slows, the industry’s focus is shifting to the huge swath of customers who can’t put panels on their own roofs. Among them are renters, people who live in places where installation isn’t allowed or isn’t feasible, and those who simply cannot afford their own panels.

Biomass-Based Biodiesel Prices--How Much Does Policy Matter?

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on August 17, 2017

Our analysis suggests that the imposition of an antidumping duty that restricts biomass-based diesel (BBD) imports from Argentina and Indonesia would add about $0.15 per gallon to the average price of BBD in 2018. In addition, an EPA remedy to the court ruling invalidating the interpretation of "inadequate domestic supply" that increased BBD demand by 500 million gallons in 2018 would also add $0.15 to the equilibrium price of BBD. The price impact of each of these policy alternatives is relatively small at about four percent, with a combined impact of about 8.5 percent.

Did This Billionaire Game Ethanol Markets for a $50 Million Windfall?

The Motley Fool | Posted on August 17, 2017

It hasn't exactly been a secret that billionaire investor Carl Icahn holds contempt for renewable fuels. His companies, CVR Energy and CVR Refining, have often blamed government rules for eating into profits. Fuel blenders are required to submit to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency special compliance credits, called renewable identification numbers, or RINs, to show that mandated volumes of renewable fuels are being blended into the nation's gasoline supply.

Food News

US beef struggles in China

Journal Gazette | Posted on August 21, 2017

At the Sam's Club store in Beijing's Shijingshan district, the chilled beef on offer is so dominated by Australian cuts – such as marbled rib-eye steaks and fatty oxtail chunks – that many customers are oblivious to the few packs of U.S. meat available. “I haven't noticed the U.S. beef here,” said Hui Xue, who was shopping for steaks that he cooks once a week. Even if he had spotted the produce, it probably wouldn't have gone into his cart.

FDA eases restrictions on ultra-filtered milk for cheese-making

Wisconsin State Farmer | Posted on August 21, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says ultra-filtered cow’s milk can now be used to make all types of natural cheeses, a move that Wisconsin cheese-makers have sought for nearly 20 years.

How safe is chicken imported from China?

The Conversation | Posted on August 21, 2017

Cooked poultry is considered to be a processed food item, so it is excluded from country of origin labeling requirements which would apply to raw chicken. This means that U.S. consumers will not know they are consuming chicken grown and processed in China. Restaurants also are excluded from country of origin labeling, so the cooked poultry could be sold to restaurants without consumers knowing. The first Chinese exporter did not specify the name brand that its cooked chicken is being sold under. The key issue is cost competitiveness.

FDA Clarifies Sanitary Transportation Rule Waiver for Retail Food Establishments

The Coastal Bend Chronicle | Posted on August 17, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidance to clarify that a waiver to the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food final rule (Sanitary Transportation rule) covers retail food establishments that sell food for humans, including those that sell both human and animal food, but does not apply to establishments that only sell food for animals.

FDA eases restrictions on ultra-filtered milk for cheese-making

Wisconsin State Farmer | Posted on August 17, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says ultra-filtered cow’s milk can now be used to make all types of natural cheeses, a move that Wisconsin cheese-makers have sought for nearly 20 years.