Inside a cavernous steel warehouse built in the 1910s for the Port of Los Angeles’ then-booming fishing industry, Catalina Sea Ranch’s unique aquaculture labs are blazing a trail for a budding new U.S. industry. A Cryolab nurtures bunches of genetically diverse breeding mussels growing in baths infused with phytoplankton. Many of their shiny black-shelled progenies, hanging on lines in federal waters 10 miles offshore, are awaiting the ranch’s first harvest in December.And ranch founder Phil Cruver just began work to produce his newest crop: giant sea kelp.The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded Catalina Sea Ranch $450,000 to help kick off the new offshore aquaculture industry, farming kelp for human and animal consumption. The ranch is the first U.S. aquaculture farm permitted in federal waters.
In their ongoing efforts to make drugs cheaper, Japanese researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have genetically engineered chickens to lay eggs containing drugs that can fight diseases like hepatitis and cancer. According to Phys.org, the unique drug creation technique uses gene-editing technology to make the …er, cocks produce interferon beta, a protein related to the immune system that is a powerful tool in treating of skin cancer and hepatitis. Those cells were then used to fertilize eggs and create hens, which inherited those genes. A few rounds of cross-breeding later and voila!: chickens were laying eggs with disease-fighting superpowers.
Has a slow exodus of Plain Sect farmers from the dairy business in Lancaster County already begun? The farmers do not blame consumers’ declining milk consumption for their predicament.Rather, frustrated local Plain Sect farmers here and around the state have banded together to protest — and in at least one case, sue — over the way milk is controlled, priced and sold after leaving their milking barns.They blame what they see as lack of representation and empire-building by large, officially nonprofit milk cooperatives that now are assuming control of dairies and milk processors, and have broad powers.Among the powers cooperatives wield are the right to deduct the costs of marketing and milk transportation from dairy farmers’ checks without having to itemize those deductions to the farmer.The cooperatives also have voting rights on how milk pricing is set, while individual farmers don’t.
South Dakota has gone from a milk deficit to a milk surplus. As a result, state officials and dairy industry representatives were at the World Dairy Expo trying to recruit new processors to the state. David Skaggs works with dairy development for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. He says they’re looking hard at plants that process some of the new dairy products on the market, like protein drinks.He says currently milk is being exported out of state. Plus, permits have been approved for new dairy operations that are on hold because they have nowhere to sell their milk. However, he says attracting a new processor is tough due to the huge investment.
Lawmakers have begun diving into the issue of land conservation programs, which supporters say benefit surrounding communities and Republican Gov. Paul LePage has often derided as a tax giveaway for wealthy interests. LePage has, for years, criticized lawmakers for catering to wealthy groups and individuals whom he claims enjoy scenic views on tax-exempt land that increase property taxes for seniors and poor Mainers. In the days before this year's three-day government shutdown over the state budget, LePage claimed that Democrats were ignoring his proposal to remove property tax exemptions for land trusts and nonprofits that hold large tracts of land.
It’s already known that in pig production, “everything but the squeal” can be used by humans – the meat is a wonderful source of niacin and other vitamins and minerals, pigs’ heart valves have long been used as replacements for human valves, and the list goes on. But now, pigs may have even higher value. Researchers in Cambridge, Mass., may be a big step closer to developing pigs whose entire organs and other tissues can be transplanted into humans. The research team, led by a biotechnology company called eGenesis, “has successfully used a powerful gene-editing technique known as CRISPR to modify the DNA in pig cells and remove a number of viruses that make pig organs unsuitable for human transplant.”
Agriculture leaders are upset by President Donald Trump's announcement Sunday that the administration wants to require e-verification of workers without a new proposal to bring in farm workers, and by the cancellation by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., of the markup of the Ag Guestworker bill that was planned for last Wednesday. The White House on Sunday evening announced an immigration agenda that includes Congress paying for the border wall and implementing the e-verify program for all workers in the United States. The White House did not mention agriculture's need for workers.The White House proposal appears to be the Trump administration's demands if there is to be a deal with Congress to address the future of the 800,000 young people who have been allowed to stay in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) system established by the Obama administration. Critics have said that the administration's demands may mean there may be no DACA deal.
Just a week after the state Department of Fish and Wildlife approved shipment of 1 million more farmed Atlantic salmon to Cooke Aquaculture’s fish farm near Bainbridge Island, another state agency says it has found holes in the nets and corrosion in the structure of the facility. The Department of Natural Resources on Monday notified Cooke that it is in default of the terms of its lease at its Rich Passage operation. It ordered the facility repaired within 60 days, or the department may cancel the company’s lease for the facility, which operates over public bed lands.
MidAtlantic Farm Credit, in partnership with the Rural Maryland Council, has announced the creation of AgPitch17, a competition seeking those who have innovative ideas to enhance the agricultural industry. The deadline for applications is November 1. “The agricultural industry is evolving in ways many people never saw coming,” says Andrew Rose, marketing manager with MidAtlantic Farm Credit, and one of the founding members of AgPitch17. “We’re excited about the direction the industry is headed, both at the local and national level. AgPitch17 gives those who are making strides in our community a platform to share their ideas on how we can make sure agriculture continues to not only thrive, but expand.”
A coalition has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Iowa’s so-called “ag gag” law that criminalizes undercover investigative efforts to expose poor conditions for workers, food safety violations, environmental harm and animal cruelty in agricultural facilities.The lawsuit asks, among other things, the federal court to declare that Iowa’s ag gag law is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, strike it down and block the state from enforcing it. The lawsuit is being filed by the ACLU of Iowa, along with attorneys from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Law Offices of Matthew Strugar, Public Justice and the Center for Food Safety. Among their clients are Bailing Out Benji, an Iowa nonprofit concerned about puppy mills, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the national Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the National Center for Food Safety.