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Agriculture News

Atrazine Important for Conservation Farming

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on September 8, 2016

A recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency was highly critical of the herbicide atrazine, which helps reduce soil erosion and runoff problems, keeping soil healthy and water clean. EPA released its draft ecological risk assessment as part of the re-registration process for atrazine; and, if its recommendations stand, farmers will basically lose the use of the herbicide. Tillage is an effective way to control weeds, but disturbing that top layer of soil leads to a loss of 90 percent of crop residue from the soil. Tillage damages the soil and leaves it more vulnerable to erosion from wind and water, which in turn leads to more runoff of fertilizer and pesticides. Atrazine was one of the first products to be used on a widespread basis because it is a broad spectrum product. It reduced the number of times farmers had to drive over their soil, and that decreased erosion and runoff problems.  Iowa State University Professor of Weed Science Bob Hartzler said farmers have made significant progress adopting reduced-till and no-till methods of growing a crop and that atrazine plays a key role in making these practices more sustainable. The National Corn Growers wants farmers to comment on the EPA’s proposal at www.NCGA.Com/atz.

Purdue Entomologist Receives USDA Grant To Study Neonicotinoid Use In Vegetables

Growing Produce | Posted on September 8, 2016

Purdue University entomologist Ian Kaplan and his team have received a $3.6 million grant from USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture to fund their research into the environmental, ecological, and socioeconomic effects of neonicotinoid pesticide use.  The five-year grant is part of the USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative, a program providing funds for research in plant breeding and genetics, pests and disease, production efficiency and profitability, technology, and food safety hazards.

North Dakota unveils new agriculture magazine

My San Antonio | Posted on September 8, 2016

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture has started a new magazine. The publication is called North Dakota Agriculture. It plans to cover topics about industry cooperation, technologies and the numerous commodities grown in the state, among other things. State Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the magazine should help readers gain a greater understanding of how farmers and ranchers produce the state's "food, feed, fiber and fuel."

USDA Data Show Organics Average 67% of Yield of Non-organics

Terry Daynards blog | Posted on September 8, 2016

Widely diverse information exists on the size of the yield penalty associated with organic crop production. Some authors/spokespersons – often connected with organic production/marketing – claim organic yields are typically 80-100% of non-organic. (I prefer the term “non-organic” over “conventional,” because so much of modern agriculture is anything but conventional.) Other sources say 50-70% is more common.  One might ask, “Why does this matter?” Just let farmers grow what they believe they can grow profitably, sorting out yield and price-premium relationships for their individual farms, crops and market environments. And if profit expectation is too low relative to risk and management needs, then organic buyers can raise the price to stimulate production – or import organic produce from afar – just as occurs with any other farm commodity. But the question is often voiced in more fundamental terms. Many in organic production/marketing/advocacy portray organic as morally superior and more sustainable, not withstanding some small reductions in yield. Others argue the reverse: that organic agriculture is bad ethically because of markedly lower yields and the attendant major increase in land needed to produce food.

 “Commercial Crop Yields Reveal Strengths and Weaknesses for Organic Agriculture in the United States.” The strength of the paper is that, unlike any before, it is based on many thousands of actual on-farm records. In briefest terms, the authors compared yield data provided for the year 2014 through aspecial USDA survey of more than 10,000 organic growers, with similar yield data collected for all US crop farmers through the 2014 USDA-NASS December Agricultural Survey. They found that organic crops normally yield less than non organic but with a huge range in yield ratios across crops and across states. Notable exceptions are hay and haylage crops where organic crops yield as much or more – and up to 60% higher for haylage. On average, Kniss et al concluded that organic crops average 80% of non-organic.

Deere/ Precision Planting Lawsuit Likely Won't Impact Other Mergers

Ag Web | Posted on September 8, 2016

Last week the Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to take John Deere to court in an anti-trust lawsuit. At this point the outcome of that lawsuit is unclear. Farmers and industry insiders alike were surprised by the challenge, but some analysts not so much. According to Jim Weisemeyer of Informa Economics, the current road block for the Precision Planting and John Deere Merger is temporary. “There’s not one big leader in this area,” he explained to AgriTalk radio show host Mike Adams. “So some people might say they should have approved it, but I don’t think they want two biggies coming in here at the onset of a fledgling industry.” Precision planting technology is a relatively new industry with very few players. Roger McEowen, an anti-trust law expert with CliftonLarsonAllen, also joined Mike Adams on AgriTalk. He said it was a close call on whether DOJ would do something about this merger, but fortunately the issues are likely to be specific to precision planting.

R Calf seeks to end beef checkoff

BEEF | Posted on September 8, 2016

Attorneys for R-CALF, USA last week asked the court to award the group summary judgment and immediately end the beef checkoff program. The motion was in response to the government’s August motion to dismiss or stay the lawsuit that R-CALF USA filed against the national beef checkoff program in May.  “There is no reason to continue unconstitutionally taxing America’s independent ranchers when the government already admits it should have never happened in the first place,” said David Muraskin, Food Project attorney with Public Justice, who represents R-CALF.  Dudley Butler, also representing R-CALF and a former USDA administrator, said, {The beef checdkoff) has subsidized meatpackers and special interest groups who want cattle ranchers to become serfs on their own land like poultry growers. All the while USDA has looked the other way.”

Are Your Grain Deals at Risk? Lessons from a $27 Million Ponzi Scheme

Ag Web | Posted on September 8, 2016

The last place a farmer wants to spend a summer day is in a court room. But that is exactly where more than a hundred Missouri farmers found themselves this past week, trying to be made whole on grain transactions that went horribly wrong and left them holding $27 million in lost grain sales.  The culprit of the scam was a small grain dealer and hauler named Cathy Gieseker. A rough-hewn, working class gal who tried to build up her grain hauling business after the death of her husband in 2007.  Around this time, she told farmers she had special deals with ADM Grain. These deals, which she claimed a farmer could only get by doing business with her, included well above market prices, exotic contract terms and multi-year contracts. And none of it in writing.  But it was all a lie. Gieseker was a fraud and had fabricated these deals to advance one of the biggest Ponzi schemes to ever hit the grain belt. Indeed, she was labeled the Madoff of the Midwest and subsequently sentenced to 9 years in prison in 2010. In her plea agreement with U.S. attorneys, she stated she acted alone in this fraud. But that didn’t help the farmers. Her assets paid out to farmers amounted to only about $1 million, so there was still a gaping hole in their wallet from this fiasco.

Meat Institute schedules animal care conference

Meat + Poultry | Posted on September 8, 2016

The North American Meat Institute’s (NAMI) Animal Care and Handling Conference will take place at downtown Kansas City’s Westin Crown Center, Oct. 13-14. The educational conference will appeal to all those involved with the production and management of livestock and meat products.

Agriculture market crisis hits machinery sales

euractive | Posted on September 8, 2016

Affected by the ongoing crisis in EU agricultural markets, the European agricultural machinery industry is expected to face further losses this year, after suffering a decline in sales in 2015.

Appeals Court upholds lawyers share of gmo agreement

Reuters | Posted on September 8, 2016

A federal appeals court has ruled that plaintiffs' lawyers leading federal multidistrict litigation against Bayer CropScience over genetically modified rice are entitled to 10 percent of a $92 million settlement the company struck with a farmers' co-op in state court.  The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision finding the lead MDL lawyers' work had benefited the co-op, Riceland, which had also filed a separate federal action that was part of the MDL.