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Agriculture News

Balancing Farms, Tourist Sites Poses Local Challenge

Sierra Sun Times | Posted on October 13, 2016

The rise of the farm-to-fork movement has been accompanied by the growing popularity of agritourism, as more landowners open their ranches to people who want to experience the bucolic views of the countryside. But the proliferation of event centers, wedding venues and bed-and-breakfast inns on agricultural land has also increased tensions between those landowners and surrounding farms that see their normal activities impacted by nearby events. Farm animals are a popular attraction at agritourism destinations, which provide farmers a new venue to market their crops and bring in additional income.  Chris Scheuring, an environmental attorney for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said the problem has less to do with agritourism and more to do with nonagricultural uses in rural areas that are incompatible with agriculture and interfere with farmers' ability to farm. Agritourism operations are more appropriate, he said, when what they do is "ancillary to existing agricultural operations, rather than just somebody coming in and plopping down a big wedding center that really isn't agriculture and calling it that."

America’s Dairy Farmers Dump 43 Million Gallons of Excess Milk

Wall Street Journal | Posted on October 13, 2016

More than 43 million gallons’ worth of milk have ended up in fields, manure lagoons or animal feed, or have been lost on truck routes or discarded at plants, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That is enough milk to fill 66 Olympic swimming pools, and the most wasted in at least 16 years’ worth of data. Desperate producers are working to find new uses for the excess, like getting more milk into school lunches, and in revamped tacos and Egg McMuffins. But many can’t even afford to transport raw milk to market at current prices, which have plunged 36% on average since prices hit records in 2014.

PA:State cultivates farm labor at Dover high school

York Daily News | Posted on October 13, 2016

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding talks about the looming shortage of agriculture workers and his push to the next generation to consider jobs in agriculture.Brett Sholtis. Pennsylvania faces a shortage of workers in the agricultural sector, and it's looking to York County to fill some of those jobs.Top officials from the state departments of agriculture and education toured Dover High School Tuesday, where they encouraged students in the farm-oriented school district to seek agriculture-related educations.Agriculture is Pennsylvania's largest industry, said Scott Sheely, special assistant to workforce development for the Department of Agriculture. With a wave of Baby Boomers about to retire, Pennsylvania will need to fill 75,000 agriculture jobs in the next 10 years.Those jobs run the gamut from people who milk cows to researchers who develop new crop hybrids.For those who want to pursue advanced degrees, engineers, agronomists and scientists are needed, Sheely said. A much larger pool of "technically-trained" workers is also in strong demand. That includes those who would do things like repair equipment and work with animals.The greatest number of jobs are for what Sheely called "production workers." Those people might harvest fruit or work in a food processing plant.

Bayer chief promises no Monsanto GM crops in Europe

The Local | Posted on October 12, 2016

German chemicals firm Bayer said it would not introduce genetically modified crops in Europe after its gigantic takeover of US seed and pesticide producer Monsanto.

Farmers dealing with losses from hurricane

The Wilson Times | Posted on October 12, 2016

Wilson County farmer Gerald Tyner said right now his land is what can only be described as a big mess.
During Hurricane Matthew’s heavy rainfall and strong winds Saturday, Tyner’s farm shop experienced extensive flooding, damaging a lot of his equipment.  "There was a tractor in there,” Tyner said. “Generator, irrigation pumps — we’re still trying to see what, if anything, can be salvaged.”  His equipment was not the only thing devastated in the storm this weekend. He said much of his soybean and peanut crop is still under water.  “We don’t know how long it will be before we can get into the fields,” Tyner said. “The ground is still heavily saturated so crops like sweet potatoes and peanuts could rot in the ground before we get to them.”
He said he was fortunate to have already harvested his sweet potato crop before the flood waters arrived Saturday.  Many farmers are seeing destruction similar to Tyner’s all over eastern North Carolina. On Sunday, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services activated a toll-free hotline to connect farmers with resources that can assist with Hurricane Matthew recovery.

Believe it or not, the bees are doing just fine

The Washington Post | Posted on October 12, 2016

You've probably heard the bad news by now that bees were recently added to the endangered species list for the first time. But if you're part of the 60 percent of people who share stories without actually reading them, you might have missed an important detail: namely, that the newly endangered bees are a handful of relatively obscure species who live only in Hawaii. The bees you're more familiar with — the ones that buzz around your yard dipping into flowers, making honey, pollinating crops and generally keeping the world's food supply from collapsing? Those bees are doing just fine, according todata released by the USDA this year. In 2015, there were 2.66 million commercial honey-producing bee colonies in the United States. That's down slightly from the 2.74 million colonies in 2014, which represented a two-decade high. The number of commercial bee colonies is still significantly higher than it was in 2006, when colony collapse disorder — the mass die-offs that began afflicting U.S. honeybee colonies — was first documented.

Gene-engineered gut bacteria successfully treat sick mice — and could treat humans someday

STAT news | Posted on October 11, 2016

In the study, one group of hypertensive mice got bacteria carrying the protein, another group got just the bacteria, and a third group received no treatment at all. After four weeks of twice-a-day treatment, the researchers found that mice getting the tweaked probiotic had reduced blood pressure, reduced heart wall thickness, and better heart contraction than either the untreated group or the group that received only bacteria. Researchers presented their results, which haven’t yet been peer-reviewed, earlier this month at the American Heart Association Council on Hypertension meeting.Probiotics have some important advantages over medications traditionally used to treat pulmonary hypertension — a type of high blood pressure affecting the lungs and heart — said lead researcher Mohan Raizada, professor of physiology at the University of Florida.

Cuba, Louisiana sign memoranda on ports, agriculture

Fox News | Posted on October 11, 2016

Cuban authorities and officials from the U.S. state of Louisiana on Tuesday here signed memoranda pertaining to ports and agriculture after a business forum attended by a trade delegation headed by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. The understanding signed by the Port Authority of Cuba and the Port Association of Louisiana includes installations in the New Orleans and Lake Charles areas, and the other agreement was signed by Cuba's Agriculture Business Group and the state's Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Louisiana has been an important provider of agricultural products to Cuba and the potential exists for its firms to participate in opportunities on the island, which are not necessarily limited to the buying and selling of products, Edwards and Cuban officials agreed, as reported in local media outlets.

Biobased industry growing, but needs more federal help, report says

Agri-Pulse | Posted on October 11, 2016

Production of biofuels and biobased products such as plant-derived plastics already support 4.2 million jobs, but the industry's future growth rate depends in part on oil prices and the availability of new government incentives, according to a study commissioned by the Agriculture Department. The study, authored by experts at Duke University and North Carolina State University, also said that the federal government itself has been slow to use the products despite USDA's efforts to promote them. The job estimate includes 1.6 million jobs directly involved in the biobased sector. Another 2.6 million jobs are indirectly created in its supply channels or through additional purchasing by households that benefit from the industry's impact on employment and production. The industry added $393 billion to the economy in 2014, including $127 billion from sales, the study found. USDA's definition of biobased products excludes livestock, food, feed and pharmaceuticals.

Cows Engineered with Human Genes Could Stop Our Next Disease Outbreak

MIT Technology Review | Posted on October 11, 2016

Cattle that can crank out human antibodies are being tested as a first line of defense against infectious diseases. SAB Biotherapeutics of South Dakota has genetically engineered cattle to produce large quantities of human antibodies—proteins that help remove harmful foreign pathogens from the body—in a rapid fashion that could be used to treat patients suffering from infectious diseases like Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Ebola, and influenza. The World Health Organization recently recognized the company’s approach among six promising new technology platforms that could help respond to disease outbreaks worldwide.