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United States Drought Monitor Shows Growing Drought

University of Nebraska | Posted on July 17, 2018 in News

An active summer pattern continued over the central and northern Plains and into the upper Midwest, with several areas seeing well above normal precipitation associated with thunderstorms. Along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida, precipitation was plentiful and widespread as ample moisture continued to be transported into the region. The precipitation along the Gulf also helped to keep temperatures 1-3 degrees cooler than normal for this time of year.

Scott Pruitt's Parting Shot At U.S. Ethanol Producers

Seeking Alpha | Posted on July 17, 2018 in Energy News

EPA Administrator and refining industry ally Scott Pruitt resigned earlier this month after losing the support of the White House. Shortly before his departure, the EPA implemented substantial reductions to biofuel blending volumes under the national blending mandate. Recently-released EPA documents show that the reductions were implemented in a way that will keep ethanol blending at roughly 10 vol% of gasoline consumption. The EPA documents also show that the reduction decision occurred shortly before Mr. Pruitt's departure.

People on food stamps may no longer be able to shop at farmers’ markets

Market Watch | Posted on July 17, 2018 in Food, Rural News

Squabbles over a government contract may prevent low-income families from having easy access to farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. At issue: The ability of low-income Americans on government assistance to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to buy food at farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets have to be equipped to accept the EBT cards. If markets are not able to operate devices that can handle EBT payments, vendors must use manual paper vouchers instead. Congress has approved $4 million each year so the USDA can provide EBT equipment to markets and farmers, the USDA said.

SARL Members and Alumni News

Announces 1.6 Million for Support Projects in Rural Communities

My Panhandle | Posted on July 15, 2018

Governor Scott announced that more than $1.6 million has been awarded to support projects in rural communities across the state. This grant funding was provided through the Rural Infrastructure Fund to help with the planning, preparation and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities. These projects will result in job creation, capital investment and the strengthening and diversification of Florida’s rural economies. During Gov. Scott’s time in office, every county has had a decrease in unemployment and every region in Florida has experienced job growth.

Virginia regulators accuse Mountain Valley Pipeline of erosion violations

The Roanoke Times | Posted on July 14, 2018

Virginia regulators have accused the builder of the Mountain Valley Pipeline of environmental violations punishable by fines and repair mandates, saying the company’s failure to install and maintain erosion-control devices has fouled 8,800 feet of streams in six locations.The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality gave Robert Cooper, project manager for EQT Corp. in Pittsburgh, a nine-page notice of violations on Monday.

North Dakota sues Dakota Access over farmland ownership

MPR news | Posted on July 14, 2018

North Dakota's attorney general is suing the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline over agricultural land the company owns in violation of a state law banning large corporations from owning farmland. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a civil complaint in state district court against Dakota Access LLC, a company formed by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners to build the $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The pipeline began operating a year ago.

Alliance releases report from 2018 Animal Rights National Conference

Dairy Business | Posted on July 12, 2018

The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report detailing observations from the Animal Rights National Conference, held June 28 through July 1 in Los Angeles, Ca. The event was organized by the Farm Animal Rights Movement and sponsored by Mercy for Animals, The Save Movement, Compassion Over Killing and The Humane League, along with other animal rights extremist groups.

Colorado oil and gas ballot initiative would bar extraction on more than 80 percent of non-federal land, state regulators say

The Denver Post | Posted on July 12, 2018

 More than 4 of every 5 acres of non-federal land in Colorado would be off-limits to new oil and gas drilling if voters this fall approve a proposed ballot measure that aims to significantly widen the distance wells have to be from occupied buildings and water sources, according to an analysis released this month by state energy regulators.The report, which doesn’t directly address the initiative’s potential economic impact, comes at the fever pitch of a yearslong dispute over how and where companies access mineral rights.

Agriculture News

Blame Congress for immigration inaction that jeopardizes American agriculture

The Hill | Posted on July 17, 2018

For more than 50 years, since the nullification of the Bracero Treatyand left-unprotected U.S. border, the issue of illegal immigration has vexed our democracy. If there is one thing worse than the byzantine immigration system left in its wake, it’s the unending blame game from the very people charged with providing sound immigration policy: Congress.   On one side are the hardliners more than willing to cast the first stone at the illegal immigrant, yet completely unwilling to see their own neglect of leaving a border wide open to a poverty-stricken nation for so many years.

Lawsuit: Blame Monsanto for widespread Kansas crop losses

Fast Company | Posted on July 17, 2018

A new lawsuit alleges that Monsanto knew that a potent herbicide would harm crops that weren’t resistant, but sold a product based on it anyway. As a result, potentially thousands of acres of crops that weren’t resistant to the herbicide died, the lawsuit says. The legal complaint was filed by 4-R Farms, which lost 200 acres of soybeans.

33 people were killed on farms in the last year

Eastern Daily Press | Posted on July 17, 2018

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says the number of fatalities in agriculture is 18 times higher than the average across other major UK industries. Among the 29 farm workers killed, the biggest cause of death was livestock, accounting for almost a quarter of all fatalities (24%), followed by being struck by a farm vehicle (18%), and trapped by a structure collapsing (15%). Other causes include being struck by an object, falls from height and contact with electricity.

Farmers markets to lose access to EBT technology

USDA | Posted on July 17, 2018

In response to the recent news about access to farmers markets for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Brandon Lipps offers the following statement:  "The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) was recently informed by a major provider of mobile EBT technology for farmers markets and farm stands that it will discontinue this service. With few providers in this marketplace, this is of great concern.  Farmers markets play an important role in providing Americans with access to nutritious foods.

Giant pork pile awaits Americans as trade wars risk exports

Bloomberg | Posted on July 17, 2018

Donald Trump’s trade wars are making pork a bargain.  American production is poised to reach an all-time high this year, and output is forecast to surge again in 2019. The supply boom comes as tariffs from China and Mexico threaten to curb export demand, leaving Americans with a mountain of cheap meat. On Saturday in Dallas, as many as 30 people on a local bacon-focused food tour were set to traverse the city chomping down on bacon donuts, bacon brown sugar ice cream, bacon jam and candied bacon.

Federal News

Blame Congress for immigration inaction that jeopardizes American agriculture

The Hill | Posted on July 17, 2018

For more than 50 years, since the nullification of the Bracero Treatyand left-unprotected U.S. border, the issue of illegal immigration has vexed our democracy. If there is one thing worse than the byzantine immigration system left in its wake, it’s the unending blame game from the very people charged with providing sound immigration policy: Congress.   On one side are the hardliners more than willing to cast the first stone at the illegal immigrant, yet completely unwilling to see their own neglect of leaving a border wide open to a poverty-stricken nation for so many years.

Scrapping dairy management system 'unacceptable,' Canadian diplomat says

Politico | Posted on July 17, 2018

Canadian Deputy Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman said that scrapping the nation's dairy supply-management system — a proposal the U.S. made in the NAFTA renegotiation — is "unacceptable." Canada is America's "second-largest export market for dairy," Hillman pointed out. Despite that robust cross-border business, many in the U.S.

Nearly $2 Billion Now Available for Eligible Producers Affected by 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

USDA | Posted on July 17, 2018

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that agricultural producers affected by hurricanes and wildfires in 2017 now may apply for assistance to help recover and rebuild their farming operations. Signup begins July 16, 2018, and continues through November 16, 2018. “Hurricanes and wildfires caused billions of dollars in losses to America’s farmers last year. Our objective is to get relief funds into the hands of eligible producers as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Perdue.

FDA Adds New States to Cooperative Agreement Program to Support Produce Safety

U.S. FDA | Posted on July 15, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced new cooperative agreements with Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi and American Samoa, as well as renewed agreements with 43 other states, in support of efforts to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

Trump Falsely Claims It’s ‘Impossible’ for American Farmers to Do Business in Europe

The New York Times | Posted on July 15, 2018

Mr. Trump’s suggestion that it is “impossible” for American farmers to sell their products to the European Union is wrong. In fact, the 28 countries of the European Union are the United States’ fifth-largest export market for agricultural goods, like tree nuts and soybeans, totaling $11.5 billion in 2017, according to the Department of Agriculture.But the United States did import about $10 billion more in agricultural products, like wine, beer and chocolate, from the European Union than it exported there.

Rural News

People on food stamps may no longer be able to shop at farmers’ markets

Market Watch | Posted on July 17, 2018

Squabbles over a government contract may prevent low-income families from having easy access to farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. At issue: The ability of low-income Americans on government assistance to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to buy food at farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets have to be equipped to accept the EBT cards. If markets are not able to operate devices that can handle EBT payments, vendors must use manual paper vouchers instead. Congress has approved $4 million each year so the USDA can provide EBT equipment to markets and farmers, the USDA said.

Air pollution is increasing over a wide swath of the U.S. because of record wildfires

Mashable | Posted on July 17, 2018

The consequences of America’s swelling wildfire problem are traveling well beyond blackened, ashy forests.

Missouri governor signs law banning marriage of 15-year-olds

The Kansas City Star | Posted on July 16, 2018

Missouri — long the easiest state in the nation for 15-year-olds to wed — has outlawed the practice. Gov. Mike Parson on Friday signed into law Senate Bill 655. Before, Missouri was one of 25 states with no minimum marriage age. And Missouri was the only state that allowed children age 15 to marry with only one parent’s approval, even if the other parent objected. Children younger than 15 needed a judge’s approval.

Wisconsin dairy farms no longer burning, burying plastics, thanks to recycling company

Herald Times Reporter | Posted on July 16, 2018

Wisconsin farms use and dispose of hundreds to thousands of pounds of plastic items each year, but only a small portion of it is accepted by many recycling centers.  That is why Revolution Plastics has stepped up to accept agriculture plastics like silage bags, bale wraps and oxygen barriers that other recycling centers are unable to.   "Ag plastics used on Wisconsin dairy farms come covered in silage, mud and sometimes manure."  said Price Murphy, director of operations for Revolution Plastics. "Feed, in particular, leaves distinct aroma on the plastics that is hard to get out.

Announces 1.6 Million for Support Projects in Rural Communities

My Panhandle | Posted on July 15, 2018

Governor Scott announced that more than $1.6 million has been awarded to support projects in rural communities across the state. This grant funding was provided through the Rural Infrastructure Fund to help with the planning, preparation and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities. These projects will result in job creation, capital investment and the strengthening and diversification of Florida’s rural economies. During Gov. Scott’s time in office, every county has had a decrease in unemployment and every region in Florida has experienced job growth.

Energy News

Scott Pruitt's Parting Shot At U.S. Ethanol Producers

Seeking Alpha | Posted on July 17, 2018

EPA Administrator and refining industry ally Scott Pruitt resigned earlier this month after losing the support of the White House. Shortly before his departure, the EPA implemented substantial reductions to biofuel blending volumes under the national blending mandate. Recently-released EPA documents show that the reductions were implemented in a way that will keep ethanol blending at roughly 10 vol% of gasoline consumption. The EPA documents also show that the reduction decision occurred shortly before Mr. Pruitt's departure.

Researchers Find Promising Results In Frac Sand Mine Reclamation Test Plot

Wisconsin Public Radio | Posted on July 17, 2018

A five-year study in Chippewa County has transformed a reclaimed frac sand mine into a successful wild prairie. Researchers are hopeful that lessons learned can be used at other mining operations around the state beginning to fill in their pits. In a rare collaboration, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls worked with industrial sand mining firm Superior Silica Sands and Chippewa County’s Department of Land Conservation and Forest Management to learn how sand mining impacts soil that is stripped away, stored and replaced after mining operations wrap up.

California awards $69.9 million for dairy digester projects

Biomass Magazine | Posted on July 16, 2018

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded $69.9 million in grant funding to 40 dairy digester projects across the state. These projects, part of the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manure on California dairy farms. Financial assistance for the installation of dairy digesters comes from California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that uses Cap-and-Trade program funds to support the state’s climate goals.

EPA scraps detailed plan to force U.S. refiners to blend more biofuels

Reuters | Posted on July 15, 2018

The U.S.

Battle Between Ethanol And Refiners Reaches Stalemate

The Fuse | Posted on July 15, 2018

The current zero-sum battle between corn states and the biofuels industry on the one hand, and oil refiners on the other, is not new, but it exploded into a fierce fight over the past year as the Environmental Protection Agency  cracked open the door to a weakening of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The RFS dictates how much ethanol refiners need to procure. The exit of Scott Pruitt from the EPA could signal an end to open war between the ethanol and refining industries, returning it to a more familiar low-grade tug-of-war over annual blending requirements.

Food News

People on food stamps may no longer be able to shop at farmers’ markets

Market Watch | Posted on July 17, 2018

Squabbles over a government contract may prevent low-income families from having easy access to farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. At issue: The ability of low-income Americans on government assistance to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to buy food at farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets have to be equipped to accept the EBT cards. If markets are not able to operate devices that can handle EBT payments, vendors must use manual paper vouchers instead. Congress has approved $4 million each year so the USDA can provide EBT equipment to markets and farmers, the USDA said.

‘We will not serve or pay for meat:’ WeWork takes the green workplace to a new level

The Washington Post | Posted on July 17, 2018

 WeWork is trying a new tactic in the push toward corporate sustainability by saying it was committed to being “a meat-free organization.” The global network of shared office spaces said in an email to employees last week that “moving forward, we will not serve or pay for meat at WeWork events and want to clarify that this includes poultry and pork, as well as red meat.” The company’s co-founder and chief culture officer, Miguel McKelvey, said the new policy was one way it could do more to become environmentally conscious.

How animal welfare claims fare in the grocery aisle

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on July 17, 2018

upermarket executives seeing strong sales of products with claims and certifications that indicate better animal welfare, and are motivated to provide them with precious shelf space. However, supermarket decision-makers largely do not understand the differences between animal welfare claims and animal welfare certifications, according to a study co-authored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Technomic, summarizing the grocery retail landscape for products that bear animal welfare-related claims.

Is lab grown meat really meat?

Slate | Posted on July 17, 2018

After centuries of a veritable monopoly, meat might have finally met its match. The challenger arises not from veggie burgers or tofu or seitan, but instead from labs where animal cells are being cultured and grown up into slabs that mimic (or, depending on whom you ask, mirror) meat. It currently goes by many names—in-vitro meat, cultured meat, lab-grown meat, clean meat—and it might soon be vying for a spot in the cold case next to more traditionally made fare. To put it bluntly: the kind that comes from living animals, slaughtered for food. In February, the U.S.

At FDA meeting, controversy over lab-grown meat

The Food & Environment Reporting Network | Posted on July 16, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting Thursday on the safety and labeling of alternative “meat” proteins produced with animal cell culture technology. In a packed room, a series of FDA employees, industry stakeholders, and scientists discussed current trends in the controversial sector, which some imagine could reshape how Americans consume meat. As alternative meat products enter the market, their regulation has become a top issue for the food industry.