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Agriculture News

Detroit urban farm awarded $500K grant, plans 'art-centered redevelopment'

Michigan Live | Posted on December 22, 2016

Thanks to a national ArtPlace America grant, an urban farm in Detroit is making plans to expand with a dining hall, an Art Farm House, a farm-fresh convenience store and more.  The Oakland Avenue Urban Farm expansion project will bring focus on "art-centered redevelopment" as artists and designers team up to create what officials are calling the nation's first "agri-cultural" urban landscape.Some of the project's prospective highlights include a vacant home transforming into a cafeteria and hostel, the creation of the Art Farm House, an exhibition space and "mini" art school, and the North End Superette, which is a farm-fresh retail space.

Poultry issues we need to speak up about

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on December 22, 2016

If any progress is to be made, it will be because you kept telling your story in a direct, honest manner.  If you are not already doing this, it’s past time to start!  It’s the only way that the disconnect will shorten.  Have no fear of difficult issues.  They exist and will likely always exist. I recently told a friend that many GMOs were developed to reduce pesticide use and she just froze for a minute and then said, “Why don’t I know that?”  Then it was my time to freeze as I also wondered why she didn’t know that if I did.  I should have been talking more.  You get the idea.  The next issue is antibiotic use.  For a multitude of reasons, antibiotic use is shrinking in the animal agriculture sector.  When we talk about it, we must be careful to explain.  First, I believe that a reduction in the use of antibiotics of importance in human medicine is an approach we can all live with, while no antibiotics ever is not acceptable.If we are to provide a humane environment for our animals, both pets and agricultural animals, we must treat them when they are ill.  And, sometimes, the only treatments require use of antibiotics used for humans but many more can be treated with other compounds.

Iowa Farmland Values Decline, Cash Rent Issues

Farm Policy News | Posted on December 22, 2016

“Iowa’s average farmland value declined for the third year in a row, down 5.9 percent to $7,183 an acre over the past year. It’s the first time since the 1980s farm crisis that land values have fallen three straight years, according to an Iowa State University report.  An overview of the ISU report noted that, “In general, the results from the 2016 Iowa State University land value survey echo results from other surveys. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported Iowa land values down 5 percent from October 2015 to October 2016…The USDA reported Iowa farmland values down by 1.9 percent from June 2016 to June 2016.”

Obama signs water bill with caution on drought provisions

Agri-Pulse | Posted on December 20, 2016

President Obama signed into law a water projects authorization bill and issued a statement cautioning agency managers to heed endangered species requirements before increasing irrigation water supplies in California's drought-stricken Central Valley.  Critics of the drought relief, led by retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said the provisions would divert more water to California farmers than should be permitted by biological opinions that enforce the endangered species protections and protect Pacific salmon fisheries.  Obama's signing statement sought to address that concern by saying he interprets the legislation to require “continued application and implementation of the Endangered Species Act, consistent with the close and cooperative work of federal agencies with the State of California to assure that state water quality standards are met.


Stormier times for California's water expected under new law | Posted on December 20, 2016

Legislation signed by President Barack Obama dictates that the federal portion of California's heavily engineered water systems gives agricultural districts and other human users the biggest possible share of the most fought-over resource in a state with a six-year drought. Water experts and conservationists expect that new mandate to conflict with state and federal laws and court orders meant to ensure enough water stays in Northern California's Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and delta for endangered native fish. Dueling interpretations over what the new law means for water deliveries could foster tensions between the state and the incoming Trump administration and worsen the water wars among farmers, fishing industries and conservation interests. "There's going to be fighting, and it is going to commence almost immediately," said Peter Moyle, a professor emeritus of biology at the University of California, Davis.

Survey shows producer support for GMO crops

Agri-Pulse | Posted on December 20, 2016

Genetically modified crops may not be popular among certain aspects of the population, but those responsible for their growth see the technology as an essential tool. A survey of 282 U.S. farmers shows 98 percent of them think GMO seeds - typically bred to be resistant to things like certain crop protection chemicals - are the best way to lessen their environmental footprint, and 69 percent believe the technology leads to higher yields. Some other findings from the survey:87 percent of producers said GMO seeds allow them to reduce their pesticide and herbicide usage; 64 percent said GMO seeds allow for efficient management of resources, specifically, fuel, time and less wear-and-tear on their equipment; 78 percent foresee increased environmental impacts-including an increase in water usage and application of pesticides-if GMO seeds were not to be available to them as a choice in crop production; 92 percent of those surveyed have been using GMO seeds for 10 or more years, and grow a variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat and cotton.

Colorado agriculture plummets

Durango Herald | Posted on December 20, 2016

Income declines to level not seen since 1986. Statewide income from farms and ranches is projected to fall to $444 million in 2016 from about $1.3 billion in 2015. The fall can be largely attributed to the decline in cattle prices because the industry accounts for the largest portion of the state’s agriculture economy, said Stephen Koontz, a professor at Colorado State University. He expects prices for cattle will not level off until 2018, and producers will likely not see the gains that the Trans-Pacific Partnership could have fueled because President-elect Donald Trump does not support it.

Panel Hears Glyphosate Testimony

DTN | Posted on December 20, 2016

The consensus is the herbicide glyphosate is unlikely to be carcinogenic to humans, based on the scientific data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and presented to a scientific advisory panel, or SAP, studying cancer links to glyphosate this week in Arlington, Virginia.  During the first two days of meetings, EPA officials laid out the scientific basis for the agency's decision to the panel of doctors and other scientists.  One of the most significant developments with the SAP came on Wednesday, as witnesses called into question the research by scientist Christopher Portier, a name that has been central to the debate as to whether glyphosate is carcinogenic.In July 2015, Portier, one of the co-authors of the International Agency for Research on Cancer report on glyphosate, said in a scientific briefing in London he was convinced glyphosate causes genetic damage that leads to cancer in humans. Many scientists and glyphosate supporters quickly called into question Portier's cancer research for that IARC report.Witnesses testified this week that Portier admitted some of his research on a glyphosate connection to tumor development was done incorrectly. Witnesses said the methods Portier used tend to exaggerate the significance of rare tumors by as many as 10 times.Portier has said there were issues with his own conclusions, in a written response to a critique of his work by Dr. Robert E. Tarone, biostatistics director at the International Epidemiology Institute. The meeting materials can be accessed at the EPA website.

Idaho Buying Trout Farm in Water Battle

Capital Press | Posted on December 20, 2016

Officials of Idaho Ground Water Appropriators Inc. say they have a contract to purchase the Rangen trout farm in Hagerman. The purchase would put to rest a long-running water battle with Rangen while providing groundwater irrigators a pathway toward resolving other water conflicts in the valley. IGWA attorney T.J. Budge said the sale hasn’t closed, as the parties are still “working through the due diligence.” The purchase price is confidential, Budge said. The property includes about 60 acres, three homes, raceways, a fish hatch house and greenhouse and a research building.

Ohio’s 4R water quality certification expands

Farm and Dairy | Posted on December 20, 2016

The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has expanded its voluntary program statewide in Ohio. Effective Jan. 1, all Ohio-based agricultural retailers and nutrient service providers will be able to participate in the water quality effort. The program is based on the 4R framework, using the right fertilizer source at the right rate, the right time and in the right place.