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Agriculture News

Water Quality BMPs in Midwest Ag Landscapes: What Can be Learned from the Forest Sector

Dovetail Partners Inc | Posted on April 25, 2018

Declining water quality is a pressing environmental challenge and a landscape scale issue, affecting public and private landowners and many aspects of society. The need to protect water resources has prompted both government and individual involvement in finding solutions. Agricultural crop and animal production significantly impact water quality (Table 1). Land cultivation activities can contribute to increased risks of soil erosion, and the application of fertilizers and pesticides contribute to contaminated water runoff. Land management practices, planting locations and methods, crop selection, soil types and many other factors affect the processes of erosion and runoff. The use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and other strategies have been shown to mitigate water quality impacts from land use activities and can help to ensure healthy water systems. While there are many ways to address the risks of runoff and erosion, this report focuses on BMPs that can be implemented as part of land use practices within agricultural watersheds.

Upstate NY farmer says ICE officers stormed his farm without a warrant, cuffed him | Posted on April 24, 2018

John Collins was standing outside the milk house at his dairy farm this morning when he heard yelling coming from inside. He ran in, he says, and saw his worker, Marcial de Leon Aguilar, pinned up against the window by armed men. The men did not identify themselves and were screaming at Aguilar, Collins said. "I run and say, 'What the hell is going on in here?'" Collins said.Then the men told Collins they were officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He asked them for a warrant or some paperwork to explain what they were doing. They had none, he said, so he ordered them to get off his property and leave Aguilar alone. As this happened, Collins said, Aguilar's children watched. They were waiting nearby for the school bus to come. Collins said the officers put Aguilar in handcuffs and took him across the rural road to their vehicles. At least seven officers had come onto the small farm, Collins said. Collins said he followed the officers cross the street and asked them why they were taking Aguilar, but he didn't get a straight answer. He also continued to ask for paperwork, but was not offered any by the ICE officers. Collins said Aguilar had proper documentation to work for him. And he's been paying taxes since working for Collins. Just like police officers, ICE officers are required to provide a warrant before they go onto private property. "ICE needs a warrant. If they go on someone's property without one, they are violating the law," said immigration law expert and Cornell law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr.

Despite $1.1 billion year, Organic Valley posts $10 million loss in 2017 — its first in 20 years

LaCrosse Tribune | Posted on April 19, 2018

Organic Valley posted its first financial loss in 20 years in 2017, despite its second consecutive year of gross sales over $1.1 billion and business growth of more than 4 percent. The after-tax loss of about $10 million — compared with a $6.3 million profit the previous year — resulted from a combination of factors, including excess supplies of both organic and conventional milk that bedeviled all U.S. dairy farmers.

Farmers’ Anger at Trump Tariffs Puts Republican Candidates in a Bind

The New York Times | Posted on April 19, 2018

As President Trump moves to fulfill one of the central promises of his campaign — to get tough on an ascendant China — he faces a potential rebellion from a core constituency: farmers and other agricultural producers who could suffer devastating losses in a trade war. Mr. Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Chinese goods came with a presidential declaration that trade wars are good and easily won. But the action has injected damaging uncertainty into the economy as Republicans are already struggling to maintain their hold on the House and the Senate in a difficult election year.While the battle for control of the House will be waged in large part in the suburbs, rural districts in Southern Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas and Missouri could prove important. And control of the Senate could come down to Republican efforts to unseat Democrats in North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Montana — all states staring down the barrels of a trade war’s guns.

rotecting Backyard Poultry Owners Against Zoonoses

AVMA | Posted on April 19, 2018

To prevent zoonotic diseases from poultry, remember what your mother taught you, advises Richard M. (“Mick”) Fulton, DVM, PhD, DACPV, professor of pathobiology and diagnostic investigation at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in East Lansing: “Wash your hands before you eat; don’t put your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth; and don’t eat poultry that is undercooked.”  Most people become infected with poultry-related zoonoses via contamination of mucous membranes or by eating undercooked meat, Dr. Fulton said. He discussed problems associated with the growing number of backyard chickens.

Species Threatened as Climate Crisis Pushes Mother Nature 'Out of Synch

Common Dreams | Posted on April 19, 2018

In a new study showing that the timing of species' natural events is failing to synchronize, "everything is consistent with the fact it's getting warmer" The warming of the Earth over the past several decades is throwing Mother Nature's food chain out of whack and leaving many species struggling to survive, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The study offers the latest evidence that the climate crisis that human activity has contributed to has had far-reaching effects throughout the planet.A paper by ecologists at the University of Ottawa examined 88 species on four continents, and more than 50 relationships between predator and pray as well as herbivores and the plants they eat, and found that food chain events are taking place earlier in the year than they have in the past, because of the warming climate.

In Bryant Park, 3 Million Bees, Sold From the Back of a Truck

The New York Times | Posted on April 19, 2018

The truck’s back door opened to reveal its cargo: 3 million Italian honeybees. They did not seem that happy after having endured a 15-hour drive up from Georgia, but Reife was delighted, as he examined the hundreds of wood-and-screen boxes, each one holding more than 10,000 bees.He picked out two boxes. His mother paid the bee man $150 apiece for them and drove them off to Long Island, where the family keeps hives.They were among roughly 150 beekeepers who flocked to Bryant Park for the bee delivery, to replenish hives across the city and the region: on building rooftops, in small urban backyards and sometimes even indoors. Beekeeping in New York City was long a furtive hobby. It has become more popular since the city made it legal in 2010 to keep hives. For many of the estimated 500 beekeepers now in the city, the annual bee delivery has become a springtime ritual, said the bee man, Andrew Coté, founder of the New York City Beekeepers Association.Every April, Mr. Coté brings up millions of bees to sell — nearly at cost, he said.

Local courts lift Arkansas weedkiller ban, creating chaos

NPR | Posted on April 19, 2018

The wild battle in Arkansas over dicamba, the controversial and drift-prone herbicide, just got even crazier. Local courts have told some farmers that they don't have to obey a summertime ban on dicamba spraying that the state's agricultural regulators issued last fall. The state has appealed. Meanwhile, farmers can't decide what seeds to plant, because seed and herbicide decisions are tightly linked. Time is short, though, because planting season has arrived."This not-knowing thing is concerning," says Mike Sullivan, a farmer in the town of Burdette. "It's embarrassing, is what it is.""Nobody knows what's going on," says Tom Burnham, another farmer located not far away in Blytheville. In late March, though, a different challenge to the dicamba ban, by a group of six farmers, produced a different decision. A judge dismissed the farmers' lawsuit, citing a ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court that state agencies cannot be sued — yet the judge also gave the farmers exactly what they wanted. He lifted the ban on those six farmers because, he decided, they had been denied a legal avenue to appeal that ban. That ruling applied only to the six farmers who'd sued. But other farmers immediately seized the opportunity to file similar lawsuits in other counties. According to press reports, 155 farmers have joined similar lawsuits, and judges in Mississippi County and Phillips County have issued temporary injunctions that allow those farmers to spray dicamba.The state government is fighting back, appealing these decisions to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

House Ag Committee advances farm bill with few farm changes, major SNAP dispute

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on April 19, 2018

After hours of criticism by Democrats on changes to food programs, the House Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill out of committee Wednesday on a strictly partisan 26-20 vote as every Republican voted for the bill and every Democrat opposed it. Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., called the legislation "a flawed bill that is the result of a bad and nontransparent process." Peterson said Republicans are on an "ideological crusade" regarding SNAP changes that would turn urban lawmakers against farm programs on the House floor.  Democrats said roughly 1.6 million people would end up removed from SNAP, while states would be required to greatly expand job-training programs that would end up underfunded. Democrats said the cuts were attacks on poor people."We sometimes look at poor people as if they are not taxpayers," said Rep Al Lawson, D-Fla. "They pay a higher cost of food than most of us here." Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., chairman of the nutrition subcommittee, said changes in nutrition programs aren't about saving money, but getting good policy."We want to look at good policy to help our neighbors in need who find themselves in a tough circumstance," Thompson said. He added, "No one is kicking them off of SNAP because of mandatory work requirements," though if people do not participate in job training or get a job, then they do not participate in SNAP. The House bill would eliminate new signups under USDA's largest conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program. Two amendments had some extended debate. One was by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who has pushed for nearly eight years for his "Protect Interstate Commerce Act," which is meant to target states that require agricultural standards beyond federal law.Specifically, King criticized California's law that requires eggs imported into the state to meet the same cage-space requirements and standards California imposes on eggs produced in the state. King said the Founding Fathers expected the states to have a free-trade zone amongst each other that is blocked by such laws. Denham and King then had another back-and-forth over Denham's amendment to make it a felony to knowingly slaughter a dog or cat for human consumption, or import a dog or cat for human consumption.

Chinese scientist gets 10 years in U.S. prison over theft of GMO rice

Reuters | Posted on April 19, 2018

A Chinese scientist in Kansas was sentenced to more than 10 years in a federal prison for conspiring to steal samples of a variety of genetically engineered rice seeds from a U.S. research facility, the U.S. Justice Department said.