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Agriculture News

The E.U.-Japan Trade Deal: What’s in It and Why It Matters

The New York Times | Posted on July 10, 2017

The European Union and Japan announced a broad agreement on Thursday that would lower barriers on virtually all the goods traded between them, a pointed challenge to President Trump on the eve of a summit meeting of world leaders in Germany. Though the deal still needs further negotiation and approval before it can take effect, it represents an act of geopolitical theater, a day before a Group of 20 summit meeting begins in Hamburg. At a meeting of G-20 finance ministers in March, Steven Mnuchin, the United States Treasury secretary, pointedly declined to endorse a statement in favor of free trade. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said the deal signified the creation of “the world’s largest free, advanced, industrialized economic zone.” The core of the agreement aims to increase the flow of Japanese cars to Europe and of European food to Japan.

Washington looks to WSU for elk hoof disease research

Skagit Valley Herald | Posted on July 9, 2017

The state Department of Fish & Wildlife continues to investigate the cause and spread of a hoof disease affecting elk in the state, including in Skagit County. The disease is caused by a bacteria that can cause hoof deformities. The bacteria is known to also cause lameness in affected livestock.Its spread into northwest Washington remains a mystery, as the disease was first found in southwest parts of the state years earlier.

New insecticide to remain on market despite ESA violation

Capital Press | Posted on July 9, 2017

Cyantraniliprole, a new insecticide that’s significant for blueberry and citrus growers, will remain on the market even though a federal appeals court has ruled its approval violated the Endangered Species Act. he chemical provides a new weapon against the spotted wing drosophila in blueberries and the Asian citrus psyllid in citrus crops.Environmental groups — Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety and Defenders of Wildlife — filed a lawsuit against EPA claiming the agency never studied CTP’s potential effects on threatened and endangered species.According to the plaintiffs, CTP may be “fairly persistent” in an agricultural environment even as it degrades, raising the possibility the chemical will accumulate over time.The plaintiffs pointed to EPA’s own ecological risk assessment that found the insecticide is expected to be sprayed in areas inhabited by 1,377 endangered species. The D.C. Circuit said it’s convinced that leaving CTP’s registration in place while EPA further evaluates the chemical will maintain “enhanced protection of environmental values.”

2nd pack of gray wolves spotted in Northern California

Capital Press | Posted on July 9, 2017

A female gray wolf, her mate and at least three pups are the second pack of wolves spotted in Northern California since the species went extinct there in 1924, state wildlife officials said.  The gray pups were born this spring in Lassen National Forest to a female wolf of unknown origins. Her mate is the son of OR7, a wolf with a tracking device that was the first of its kind in almost a century to migrate into California from Oregon, the Department of Fish and Wildlife said.Biologists began surveying the Lassen National Forest area in May after they found evidence of wolf presence. On June 30, they captured the 75-pound female gray wolf and fitted her with a tracking collar. An examination revealed she had recently given birth to pups.A day later, Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists returned to the area for a follow-up check on the female and found that a nearby trail camera operated by the United States Forest Service had captured photos of the mother and pups. The gray pups were also photographed playing in front of the camera.

Mexico is no longer no. 1 U.S corn-buyer after trade tensions

Bloomberg | Posted on July 8, 2017

Mexico is no longer the biggest buyer of corn from the U.S.,  a sign that trade tensions are pushing American grain toward other markets while its southern neighbor lines up new suppliers. Sales to Mexico through May were $1.04 billion, down 6.7 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a monthly update. That contrasts with the 32 percent increase for the overall value of U.S. corn exports in the period, during which the average dollar value of the commodity was little changed. Japan boosted its purchases 53 percent to $1.19 billion to become the largest importer of American corn. Mexico initiated talks with other major corn exporters this year after it was criticized by President Donald Trump, who said the country has taken advantage of its northern neighbor through the North American Free Trade Agreement, taking away jobs and investment.

Egg prices are at a record low, and nobody’s buying cage-free

| Posted on July 8, 2017

Well it’s been a long two years, and our egg windfall is leading to the cheapest egg prices in at least a decade, according to a recent USDA report. This news is a sad trombone for cage-free egg producers, who’ve been having a tough time selling their higher-priced wares.  The CEO of Cal-Maine Foods—America’s largest egg producer—bemoaned the cage-free surplus at a conference in early June. According to Buzzfeed, CEO Dolph Baker said, “Right now, there is a much greater demand for commodity eggs at these low prices than there is for cage-free eggs.”  In essence, egg farmers are nervous that they’re making all the elaborate structural changes to abandon battery cages, only to have shoppers turn up their noses. “90% of consumers stand in front of the egg case, and they pick conventional caged eggs because they’re economical,” Chad Gregory, CEO of the egg industry’s lobbying group United Egg Producers, told BuzzFeed News. To further toss water on the cage-free parade, most consumers aren’t totally clear on what the concept really entails (see our in-depth look at this phenomenon from last year). If the average Joe is unwilling to shell out extra cash for what they think cage-free means (ie, idyllic, pastoral bliss), just imagine of how they’d feel if they had the whole picture.

. Extreme heat broils the Dakotas and Montana; flash drought takes toll on wheat crop

The Washington Post | Posted on July 8, 2017

A massive and intense heat dome has spread over the northern Plains and mountain West, sucking moisture out of the soil, and may persist for weeks. The scorching heat and absence of rain have spurred a rapidly intensifying drought that is decimating the region’s wheat crop. Temperatures in Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas surged into the 90s and 100s on Wednesday, about 15 to 20 degrees above normal. Forecast models predict the same general weather pattern that supported this heat to persist up to two more weeks. The pattern is characterized by a sprawling heat dome or area of high pressure at high altitudes over the western third of the nation — resulting in simmering conditions not just in the Dakotas but all over the West. On Wednesday, Salt Lake City hit 105 degrees, its seventh-hottest reading recorded. It is expanding into the desert Southwest, resulting in searing 120-plus-degree heat in Death Valley and prolonging a 21-day streak of temperatures of at least 105 degrees in Las Vegas.

Dog and cat treat trends follow human snacking trends

Pet Food Industry | Posted on July 8, 2017

Many pet owners, as we know, like to pamper their pets by feeding dog or cat treats – and increasingly, as they are aware of health and wellness, with treats that offer health or functional benefits. A new study from Mintel reveals that for US consumers, these behaviors may mimic their own snacking habits. The top reason these American consumers gave for snacking is to treat themselves; 50 percent said so. And while 28 percent ranked taste over health in choosing a snack, 32 percent claimed that most snacks they eat are healthy, and another 28 percent said their snacks now are healthier than what they ate in 2016. In addition, 37 percent said they snack as a way to take a break during the day, 24 percent to relieve stress and 17 percent to control their weight. (That latter reason has increased from 10 percent in 2015, when the study was last done.) Other research shows that consumers worldwide are snacking more, with 72 percent noshing at least occasionally between meals, according to GlobalData. Interestingly, that behavior is higher among pet owners, at 82 percent.

Multiple States Ban Dicamba

| Posted on July 8, 2017

The states of Arkansas and Missouri both took action Friday to ban the use of dicamba-mix herbicide applications in their respective states after waves of complaints from farmers who were not using the technology. The Arkansas Legislative Council executive subcommittee on Friday chose to take no action on a vote by the state plant board to ban the use of any dicamba-mix herbicide in the state, which basically means Arkansas will ban the use of dicamba for at least 120 days.Just hours later,  Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn issued a temporary stop sale, use or removal order on all herbicides that contain dicamba. The Missouri ban is considered "temporary," said a spokeswoman for the state agriculture department "until a solution is reached." Arkansas has been at the heart of the battle over dicamba misuse or volatilization and drift to off-target crops. Just under 600 complaints have been filed with the Arkansas State Plant Board, which initially recommended a ban on the sale and use of dicamba on June 23. The Arkansas plant board's recommendation was sent to a joint legislative Agriculture Committee, which held a hearing Friday morning then voted by voice vote to approve the plant board's recommendation. That kicked the decision up to the Arkansas Legislative Council executive committee, which met Friday afternoon and chose not to take an action. That essentially allowed a ban to go into effect.

41 PEDV positive sites confirmed in Canada

National Hog Farmer | Posted on July 6, 2017

Manitoba Pork Council confirms 41 positive operations identified in southeast Manitoba in the 2017 porcine epidemic diarrhea virus outbreak. So far, officials confirmed PEDV on 18 sow operations representing over 54,000 sows, seven nurseries representing just over 126,000 nursery spaces and 16 feeder operations representing just over 99,000 feeder spaces.