The H5 avian influenza A virus that devastated North American poultry farms in 2014-15 was initially spread by migratory waterfowl, but evidence suggests such highly pathogenic flu viruses do not persist in wild birds. While wild ducks and other aquatic birds are known to be natural hosts for low pathogenic flu viruses associated with milder symptoms, the results of this study indicate that is not the case with the highly pathogenic flu viruses that are associated with more severe illness. In this study, researchers analysed samples taken from 22,892 wild ducks and other aquatic birds collected before, during and after a 2014-15 H5 flu outbreak in poultry.
Through cooperative agreements with farmers in California’s Central Valley, a historic one hundred percent of rare Tricolored Blackbird colonies on agricultural fields were protected during the 2016 harvest season. Working with the USDA California Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and their Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Tricolored Blackbird Project, Audubon California helped seven farmers delay the silage harvest, saving roughly 57,000 birds on 378 acres.
A second mega-dairy is planned for Eastern Oregon, close to Threemile Canyon Farms, one of the largest confined animal feeding operations in the nation. The proposed Willow Creek Dairy would house 30,000 animals. It would be the second-largest Oregon dairy, after Threemile Canyon, with 70,000 animals, said Wym Matthews, who oversees confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) for the state Department of Agriculture. The department is taking public comment on the dairy’s proposed water pollution permit, which lays out how it must manage the 187 million gallons of manure it will produce each year.
runching across a brushy, logged-over slope near Corvallis, Oregon, Reed Wilson points his trekking pole at an ancient Douglas fir in a neighboring patch of forest. The tree is more than an armspan in diameter, its toes decorated with saprophytic orchids and millipedes. One of 117 behemoths among these otherwise young stands, this tree and 38 others also wear necklaces of pink tape. Tree-climbing citizen surveyors left them to mark the presence of red tree vole nests. The vole is also favored prey for the threatened northern spotted owl, and its population here in the low-slung northern Coast Range is a candidate for endangered species protection.
The federal government set aside this area as part of a 10-million-acre network of reserves in western Oregon, Washington and Northern California, largely to protect species like spotted owls and voles whose old-growth habitat was being destroyed by logging. In 2009, though, the Bureau of Land Management proposed a commercial project to thin younger trees here, ostensibly to restore more diverse forest structure. And though the Benton Forest Coalition, to which Wilson belongs, and two other environmental groups forced the agency to leave intact forest around most of the vole trees, several stand alone amid logging slash, their tiny tenants marooned and more vulnerable to predation. “This was native forest,” regenerating from a 1931 wildfire, Wilson says. “It hadn’t been logged before.”
Now, the BLM is proposing a pair of new management plans for its 2.5 million acres in western Oregon. Several environmental groups fear the plans could make it even easier to allow destructive logging inside old-growth reserves.
The family of a rancher authorities say was shot and killed by two Adams County Sheriff’s deputies has filed a legal notice of their intent to sue the county. The family of Jack Yantis filed a tort claim earlier this year as a precursor to a wrongful death lawsuit seeking $500,000. Authorities say the deputies shot and killed the 62-year-old Yantis after one of his bulls was hit by a car and charged emergency crews on a highway just north of the tiny town of Council in west-central Idaho. Authorities said the deputies planned to shoot the injured bull when the rancher arrived with a rifle. Investigators say all of them fired their weapons.
Oklahomans will decide as part of the November general election whether to add a right-to-farm amendment to their state constitution. It’s the third time since 2012 the idea has been tested at the state level. North Dakota approved a right-to-farm amendment in a 2-to-1 landslide in 2012, and Missouri approved its amendment by a razor-thin margin in 2014. Mainline farm groups, ranging from the state Farm Bureau and Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association to retailers and farm suppliers, support the amendment as a line of defense against “deep-pocketed animal rights groups” and other outsiders who would restrict farm and ranch operations. In an appeal to urban voters (66% of the population), umbrella group Oklahoma’s Right to Farm says the amendment, Question 777, will hold down food prices by letting farmers and ranchers decide which production methods work best for them. pponents include animal welfare groups, the Sierra Club, and the Humane Society of the United States, which has pushed state referendums against sow crates, veal-calf stalls, and battery cages for laying hens. Massachusetts will decide a citizen initiative on farm animal confinement on November 8.
Profit at seed and chemical giant DuPont Co. surged 8.5 percent in the second quarter as it benefited from strong demand for its agricultural and nutrition products — despite ongoing challenges in the farm sector.
At Lavoie’s Farm in New Hampshire, beans and corn haven’t broken through the ground yet and fields of strawberries are stunted. The drought that has taken hold in the Northeast is especially felt at John Lavoie’s farm in Hollis, presenting him with some tough choices. Irrigation ponds are drying up, forcing him to choose between tomatoes and berries or apple and peach trees. Lavoie decided to hold off watering the fruit trees so he could quench the tomato and berry plants before they succumb to the heat.
The dry blast in New Hampshire is being felt throughout the Northeast, from Maine to Pennsylvania, driven by a second year of below-average rainfall. Though not as dire as the West Coast drought of five-years running, the dry, hot weather has stressed farms and gardens, prompted water restrictions and bans in many towns and threatened to bring more wildfires than usual. In the hardest hit areas of western New York, Massachusetts and southern parts of New Hampshire and Maine, it’s been dryer than in a decade or more. And national weather experts predict the drought will persist at least through the end of October.
Shareholders of Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. approved the companies’ historic merger, clearing a hurdle for the deal to close this year and for a later split into three entities. Majorities of both sets of stockholders approved the 50-50 combination of the two largest U.S. chemical makers, the companies said in a joint statement Wednesday. The $59 billion all-stock transaction, a record for the industry, was announced Dec. 11.
Food prices could rise by more than 2% and greenhouse gas emissions would increase substantially according to a paper to be presented at the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association Annual Meeting in Boston. “There are people that would like to ban GMOs,” said Wally Tyner, a Purdue University economist. “We wanted to see what the result of a ban would be when it comes to food prices and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” “Total welfare losses associated with loss of GMO technology total up to $9.75 billion. The loss of GMO traits as an intensification technology has not only economic impacts, but also environmental ones. “The full environmental analysis of GMO is not undertaken here. Rather we model the land use change owing to the loss of GMO traits and calculate the associated increase in GHG emissions. We predict a substantial increase in GHG emissions if GMO technology is banned.”