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Agriculture News

Are there antibiotics in my meat? Let’s clear the confusion

Huffington Post | Posted on November 16, 2017

I was stunned to hear a mother express guilt about being “unable to afford meat that doesn’t have antibiotics in it.”I wondered how many parents who are trying to provide the best for their children have the misconception that their kids are consuming large doses of antibiotics because they can’t afford meat labeled “antibiotic free.”One look at common questions being asked on Internet search engines tells us this misconception is distressingly common: “Are there antibiotics in my meat?” “Why is it bad to eat meat with antibiotics?”There is one undeniable fact that should bring comfort to parents trying to provide safe, healthy meals for their families on a budget: multiple safeguards are in place to ensure the meat we buy in the grocery store – regardless of the label – is safe.Before an antibiotic is ever approved for use in animals, it must go through a rigorous Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process. The process begins with testing to determine how long an antibiotic remains in an animal’s body, which is called the withdrawal period. Withdrawal periods are required by law. Animals cannot be processed until the drug, in this case the antibiotic, has cleared from their bodies.Additional studies are conducted to assess the potential for the development of resistant bacteria and to examine whether public health could be affected by using the antibiotic in animals.On top of that, food companies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) routinely test meat during processing to confirm there are no unsafe antibiotic residues. This is true for all meat. With or without an “antibiotic free” label.So, parents take heart. Whether the meat you buy is labeled “antibiotic free” or not, its safety is confirmed by extensive studies, mandatory withdrawal periods, and routine testing to ensure there are no unsafe antibiotic residues.

NC:Suit seeks to stop new union limits around farm operations | Posted on November 16, 2017

North Carolina's only farmworker union is challenging a law limiting organized labor's activities in and around the state's vegetable and tobacco fields and other agricultural operations. Their lawsuit filed Wednesday called the restrictions unconstitutional and discriminatory.A last-minute House amendment inserted into the General Assembly's annual farm law last summer prohibits farming operations from collecting union dues from workers. It also blocks any future legal settlements requiring a farm to enter into a collective bargaining agreement.

Monsanto, U.S. farm groups sue California over glyphosate warnings

Reuters | Posted on November 16, 2017

Monsanto Co and U.S. farm groups sued California on Wednesday to stop the state from requiring cancer warnings on products containing the widely used weed killer glyphosate, which the company sells to farmers to apply to its genetically engineered crops.

Ten Percent Expect Farm Foreclosures to Pose Greatest Banking Threat

Creighton University Economic Outlook | Posted on November 16, 2017

Survey Results at a Glance: The overall index improved from September’s reading, but remained below growth neutral.  For the 47th straight month, average farmland prices declined across the 10-state region. For the 50th straight month, the agriculture equipment sales index fell below growth neutral.Almost one in 10 bankers expect farm foreclosuresto be the greatest challenge to banking operations over the next five years. Almost one-half of bankers report that current corn prices are below break-even for cash renting farmers in their area.

MI Soybean Farmers Partner with Midland County to Promote Better Rural Bridge Evaluation and Management | Posted on November 16, 2017

 Michigan farmers depend upon rural bridges to efficiently deliver their commodities to the local elevator or processing facility. The structural integrity of this infrastructure is essential to farmer profitability. Unfortunately, an increasing number of rural bridges in the state are load limited, requiring vehicles transporting agricultural commodities to detour - often at significant distances. This results in additional costs being inserted in the nation's food delivery system and diminished profitability for Michigan farmers. In an effort to promote better evaluation and management of the state's rural bridges, the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee and the Soy Transportation Coalition have partnered with the Midland County Road Commission in central Michigan on an innovative project designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of load testing technology when assessing the condition of rural bridges. The partnership employs the use of load testing sensors attached to the underside of the bridge. After the sensors are installed, test loads are driven over the various segments of the bridge surface to determine a precise understanding of the capabilities of the bridge. 

Be especially thankful for organic turkey

Watt Ag Net | Posted on November 16, 2017

Butterball, the largest turkey producer in the United States, has quietly entered the organic turkey market in time for the Thanksgiving holiday next week. It did so with so little fanfare that unless you are a reader of USA Today, you probably didn’t know the company even got involved with organic turkey production.Why didn’t Butterball shout it out loud and proud to all of the consumers who are preparing to put a turkey on the table on November 23? The reason is simple: “We want to (avoid) a situation where we’re overselling what we produce,” Butterball Chief Operating Officer Jay Jandrain told USA Today.The company had previously released products from turkeys raised without antibiotics through its Farm-to-Family line. But this will be the first year that organic Butterball products will be available for people who value that organic label.For me, it really won’t matter what is on the table or how that food was raised. I’ll simply be thankful that we all have something to eat. That’s something that’s a struggle for so many people.However, in the United States there is enough wealth that there are people who have the luxury of consuming niche’ products like antibiotic-free or organic turkey meat and the ability pay a premium price for them. That’s certainly something for which to be thankful.

From Cattle To Capital: How Agriculture Bred Ancient Inequality

NPR | Posted on November 16, 2017

The gap between rich and poor is one of the great concerns of modern times. It's even driving archaeologists to look more closely at wealth disparities in ancient societies. "That's what's so fun about it," says Timothy Kohler, at Washington State University. "It widens our perspective, and allows us to see that the way things are organized now is not the only way for things to be organized."Measuring inequality in societies that didn't leave written records is hard, of course. But physical ruins remain, and Kohler figured that even long ago, the richer you were, the bigger the house you probably occupied.In a report that appears this week in the journal Nature, Kohler reports that increasing inequality arrived with agriculture. When people started growing more crops, settling down and building cities, the rich usually got much richer, compared to the poor.

Dwindling immigration stresses tree-fruit industry

Yakima Herald | Posted on November 16, 2017

Over the past several years, farmers have complained that a dwindling labor force continues to stress production of the state’s multi-billion dollar tree fruit industry.Employment and market experts in the past have questioned whether such a shortage really exists. But recent studies are indicating that our once robust low-wage labor force primarily from Mexico is in fact dwindling, or not keeping pace with industry growth.

Iowa company will convert cow manure into natural gas. But is it an environmental asset or hazard?

Des Moines Register | Posted on November 16, 2017

Walz Energy plans to custom-feed 1,680 cattle in each of six partially enclosed open feedlots. "We'll be the hotel, the inn-keeper, the caregiver," Haman said. All the manure will be captured under the cattle in 2-foot deep manure pits "that will be flushed at least twice a day," Haman said.The manure will be mixed with feed and food waste, which will get pumped directly into storage tanks before getting mixed into six,1.5-million-gallon anaerobic digesters."Anything that stinks makes gas," Haman said.Micro-organisms will break down the waste, and the methane will be pulled off, converted into natural gas, and pushed through existing underground pipes to end-users.What's left over — called digestate — will be stored in the operation's 39-million-gallon open lagoon. Each fall the liquid fertilizer will be applied to farmland.The project is getting no state or federal tax credits, grants or loans.

Dairy farm violated Clean Water Act, told to pay up

Hawaii News Now | Posted on November 16, 2017


An environmental watchdog group came out on top in court over clean water violations by a Kauai dairy.A federal court ordered Hawaii Dairy Farms to pay $506,000 to The Friends of Mahaulepu, an environmental watchdog organization. The money will go to cover legal fees encountered over a three-year legal battle.