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Agriculture News

The greatest conservation program no one has ever heard of

Pocono Record | Posted on February 10, 2019

When it comes to awe-inspiring public lands, Pennsylvania is home to some of the nation’s best hidden gems. Millions of acres of federal, state, and local public lands provide Pennsylvanians with a superior quality of life and enhance our economy. In fact, Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation economy is the fifth largest in the nation. Continued, sustained investment in these outdoor assets is needed to assure that they remain ready to enjoy. The recently-ended federal shutdown – the longest of its kind in U.S. history – has shone a bright spotlight on America’s national park system and the important role of federal oversight and stewardship needed to protect the nation’s most iconic outdoor places.Yet the reality is that our national parks have been in dire need of more funding, greater maintenance, and heightened protection even when the government is open.That’s because even before the government shutdown occurred, programs that protected our parks were on the chopping block. Last September, despite broad partisan support, Congress failed to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or LWCF. For more than 50 years, the LWCF has preserved and improved federal, state, and local parks and open spaces.Incredibly, the LWCF has supported projects in every state and nearly every county in the U.S., from iconic sites like the Gettysburg National Park, the Appalachian Trail and the Flight 93 Memorial to Pennsylvania’s state parks and local trails, pools and playgrounds.

EU to cash $70bn in from trade war, Brazil to benefit $10bn: UN

Agricensus (free registration required) | Posted on February 9, 2019

The European Union will profit the most from changes in global trade due to the US-China trade war, with Brazil cashing in $10.5 billion annually if the world’s two largest economies expand the trade war, a UN report published this week showed. The study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows that the EU will benefit from $70 billion worth of increased trade, equivalent to 0.9% of the bloc’s total exports.Of that headline figure, $50 billion will replace Chinese exports to the US, with $20 billion capturing US exports to China.President Trump has warned that if no deal is reached by March 1, the additional tax rates on Chinese goods will increase from 10% to 25% with China to react reciprocally.The UN estimates that of the $250 billion of Chinese exports taxed by the US, 82% will be snatched up by firms in third countries, with 12% to be retained by Chinese firms and just 6% by US companies.Conversely, of the $110 billion of US exports taxed by China, 85% will go to other countries, with US firms holding on to 10%, and Chinese companies only seeing a 5% increase.Brazil, who became China’s number one soybean supplier in 2018 following the trade war, will benefit to the tune of $10.5 billion, equivalent to a 3.8% increase in annual exports and making it the eight largest beneficiary from the trade war.Yet, only 20% of that increase is due to Chinese tariffs on US goods, meaning that the largest benefits for Brazil are to be reaped from additional trade with the US, such as metals and machinery, rather than additional soybean sales to China.

Company sues Louisiana agriculture agency over pot testing

WAFB | Posted on February 7, 2019

A New Orleans-based company is suing the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry over the agency's testing of medical marijuana.The Advocate reports Reactwell LLC's lawsuit filed in Baton Rouge claims its bid to test the crop as an independent laboratory was improperly rejected last year.Marijuana grown by Louisiana's two approved producers is supposed to be tested by an independent laboratory to ensure the crop's safety, but the agency says no laboratories were qualified. The lawsuit argues the company was qualified.

Technology’s Impact on Farming and the Rural Midwest

Chicago Federal Reserve | Posted on February 7, 2019

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago held a conference to explore the opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies to farms and rural areas in the Midwest and other parts of the U.S. Experts from academia, industry, and policy institutions gathered to discuss how technological advances have reshaped the rural economy and how they may affect its future. The goals of the conference included understanding technological change and its impact on farming and rural communities; examining policies that affect the availability (and adoption) of technological innovations in the countryside; analyzing the primary influences of new technologies on the rural Midwest, especially on its employers, health care systems, and educational institutions; and considering potential ways to fund rural broadband and agricultural innovations, particularly given lower farm profits in recent years.

Aquaculture comes to the rescue in Maine

Aquaculture North America | Posted on February 7, 2019

Maine ticks all the boxes as an ideal incubator of aquaculture enterprises: it has a culture around marine food production, a working waterfront, and a world-renowned reputation for premium quality seafood. Why is it just a bit player in the aquaculture industry is perhaps understandable: its lobster fishery contributes $1 billion to the state’s economy annually and generates 4,000 jobs. By comparison, aquaculture (includes farmed salmon, shellfish and seaweed) has a direct economic impact of $73.4 million in output, 571 in employment, and $35.7 million in labor income, according to a January 2017 Aquaculture Economic Impact Report from the University of Maine.

New York:Fewer farms using revised mega-farm manure permits

The Times Union | Posted on February 7, 2019

After a judge last year ordered the state to tighten up permits aimed at keeping manure at dairy and livestock mega-farms across the state from fouling streams, rivers and lakes, hundreds of farmers switched over to a less-strict state permit instead. Nearly 230 farms that had federal  CWA permits prior to the court ruling have since changed over to less-stringent state Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) permits that cover manure systems specifically design to avoid manure discharge into nearby bodies of water.

USDA Wetlands Rule Draws Agriculture Groups' Ire

DTN | Posted on February 7, 2019

 Agriculture and environmental groups alike are not impressed with USDA's interim final rule on wetland conservation and highly erodible land posted in December. A public comment period on the rule closed on Tuesday. USDA made revisions to codify technical portions of the existing agency policy that had not undergone public review and comment. The revisions amend four sections of USDA's regulations.Agriculture groups, in particular, made the case in public comments that USDA has not followed proper procedure on the regulations from the get-go, and it is making an already confusing situation worse for farmers.

Horse's case raises an important question: What would happen if animals could sue us?

ABC News | Posted on February 7, 2019

A horse named Justice sues former owner for more than $100,000 for neglect. An organization called the Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit against the former owner, Gwendolyn Vercher, in Justice’s name at the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon for the County of Washington, asking for at least $100,000 for veterinary costs as well as "non-economic damages for pain and suffering." The money will be placed in a trust that will be used to look after Justice no matter who takes charge of him.But behind what appears to be just an eye-catching headline and a poignant story may lie a set of far more consequential questions, the answers to which could upend human society and its relationship to animals.Attorneys are appealing to a higher court after a Washington County judge dismissed the case last month.

Sanderson Farms asks for penalties against activists in false ad lawsuit

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on February 7, 2019

Sanderson Farms Inc. is asking a federal judge in San Francisco to impose financial penalties on two advocacy groups suing the poultry processor for alleged false advertising claims. Sanderson wants Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim of the U.S. District Court for Northern California to levy a $11,275 penalty against Friends of the Earth and the Center for Food Safety.

Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on February 7, 2019

A wave of bankruptcies is sweeping the U.S. Farm Belt as trade disputes add pain to the low commodity prices that have been grinding down American farmers for years. Throughout much of the Midwest, U.S. farmers are filing for chapter 12 bankruptcy protection at levels not seen for at least a decade, a Wall Street Journal review of federal data shows.