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Agriculture News

Oregon: No unique threat from canola

Capital Press | Posted on November 16, 2017

Canola poses no greater threat to specialty seed producers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley than turnips, radish and other related crops, according to Oregon State University. Problems with insects, diseases and volunteers weren’t materially different enough in canola fields for the crop to be considered a unique risk compared to other species from the Brassica genus, the three-year OSU study found.

UK plans to make cameras in slaughter facilities mandatory

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on November 16, 2017

Closed circuit television (CCTV) recording would become mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England next year under a new legislative proposal, the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced.

Tyson wants poultry plant built where it’s welcome

Watt Ag Net | Posted on November 16, 2017

Tyson Foods was caught by surprise in September when residents of Tonganoxie and Leavenworth County, Kansas, made it clear that they did not want the company to build a broiler complex in their community. That public outcry led public officials to withdraw their support for the $320 million complex and Tyson Foods to re-evaluate where it would locate the plant.Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes, who said this is the first time since the 1990s that Tyson Foods has announced plans to build a new plant, indicated that this was a learning experience for the company.While speaking to reporters on a November 13 conference call, Hayes said that Tyson Foods worked with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, state representatives and leaders from Leavenworth County to develop what they thought was a good plan. Tonganoxie area residents disagreed.“I don’t know how in touch all the officials were with what the direct local sentiment was,” Hayes said.As Tyson Foods continues to narrow its search for a new location for the poultry complex, which is to include a poultry plant, feed mill and hatchery, the company wants to “have a really strong pulse” on what the residents of the community want.

Top 1 percent of Texas commodity farmers get quarter of $1.6 billion in subsidies

Texas Observer | Posted on November 16, 2017

Last year in Nueces County, sorghum farmers raked in $10.9 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies. Corn farmers in Castro County took $12.6 million. In Deaf Smith County, the kingpins of cotton were paid $32.5 million, according to new farm subsidy data released last week. But as the state’s biggest farms drew lucrative paydays, the pocketbooks of small family farmers got thinner. Now, critics of federal farm subsidy programs are calling for reform of a system they say overwhelmingly favors big agribusiness.   The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers a long list of subsidy programs for farmers, and though the payment schemes are complex, they generally involve giving farmers taxpayer money to compensate for low market prices and weather-related crop damage. In 2016, Texas farmers received $1.59 billion in subsidies, more than any other state, and most of that went to growers of a handful of commodity crops — cotton, wheat, corn and sorghum. Eighty-one percent of Texas farmers collected no subsides at all.  Farmers of virtually every other crop — from spinach growers in the Rio Grande Valley to peach specialists at the Texas-Oklahoma line — are excluded from the USDA’s most generous safety net. And even within the coterie of farmers who receive subsidies, there’s a huge disconnect between the haves and the have-nots: The top 1 percent of subsidy recipients get 26 percent of all payments, about $1.7 million per recipient.

Stop pretending the estate tax has anything to do with us family farmers

The Washington Post | Posted on November 16, 2017

As Republicans push ahead with their tax reform plan, the small farmer is again invoked. This time it’s about the estate tax. During a speech in North Dakota, President Trump declared, “We’ll also protect small businesses and family farmers here in North Dakota and across the country by ending the death tax.” He added: “Tremendous burden for the family farmer, tremendous burden. We are not going to allow the death tax or the inheritance tax or the whatever-you-want-to-call-it to crush the American Dream.” But few farmers put the elimination of this tax on the top of their wish lists. Only about 20 farms a year are subject to any inheritance tax, and in almost all cases, those farms have adequate liquid assets to cover the taxes without having to sell any part of the business to do so. After searching for 35 years for one example of a family farm that was lost due to the estate tax Iowa State professor Neil Harl stated simply, “It’s a myth.”It is a sales pitch, nothing more, again capitalizing on that mystique of the family farm that people hold so dear. Getting rid of the estate tax is a gift to the very rich, not to farmers. As the old saying goes, ask a farmer what they would do if they won a million dollars: Keep farming till it ran out.While estate taxes are not a threat to the family farm, we face plenty of other challenges. But you’ll never see politicians tackle the greatest threat to the family farmer: unfairly low prices for our products.

Perdue issues sweeping reorganization memo

Agri-Pulse | Posted on November 16, 2017

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is moving ahead with some reorganization moves just a few weeks after hitting the pause button so they could be discussed further. Specifically, in a memorandum issued Tuesday, Nov.14, Perdue said he was directing that the Codex Alimentarius program in USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service be moved to the Office of the Undersecretary for Trade and Agricultural Affairs.He also has decided to eliminate the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) as a standalone agency and move its functions to a new Fair Trade Practices Area in the Agricultural Marketing Service and to AMS’ Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).“The Packers and Stockyards Program, formerly part of GIPSA, and the Warehouse Act functions, formerly part of the Farm Service Agency, will be transferred to AMS and included in the Fair Trade Practices program area,” the memo says. “The grain inspection activities, formerly part of GIPSA, are to be included in (a) new program area” in AMS overseen by a new Deputy Administrator for FGIS.  The Food and Drug Administration and food safety groups had criticized the proposed move of the Codex program. In a letter to USDA, Stephen Ostroff, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said that the international Codex Alimentarius program “plays a critical role at the intersection of food safety and trade by developing science-based, voluntary food standards that governments may use to protect consumer health and provide a level playing field for food trade.”“FDA strongly believes that moving Codex to the oversight of a trade promoting, non-science organization could undermine the credibility of U.S. Codex as a science-based enterprise,” Ostroff said. “Transfer of the U.S. Codex Office under a trade umbrella would build a perception that the United States places a stronger priority on advancing trade over public health.”

CRISPR-carrying nanoparticles edit the genome

Science Daily | Posted on November 16, 2017

Nanoparticles that allow for CRISPR genome-editing in adult animals have now been developed by researchers. Using a new nanoparticle-based, nonviral delivery technique, the researchers were able to cut out a disease-causing gene in about 80 percent of liver cells, and permanently lower cholesterol in mice.

Pharmaceutical, personal care pollution impacts aquatic life

Science Daily | Posted on November 16, 2017

Traditional toxicity testing underestimates the risk that pharmaceutical and personal care product pollution poses to freshwater ecosystems. Criteria that account for ecological disruption -- not just organism death -- are needed to protect surface waters, which are under pressure from a growing population and escalating synthetic chemical use.

In bee decline, fungicides emerge as improbable villain

Science Daily | Posted on November 16, 2017

When a team of scientists analyzed two dozen environmental factors to understand bumblebee population declines and range contractions, they expected to find stressors like changes in land use, geography or insecticides. Instead, they found a shocker: fungicides, commonly thought to have no impact. While science has studied insecticides, such as neonicotinoids, that attack bugs' central nervous systems, this new work shows how fungicides -- particularly chlorothalonil, a general-use fungicide often found in bumblebee and honeybee hives -- may negatively affect bee health, said McArt, a fellow at Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

CDFA releases final Environmental Impact Report for CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Program | Posted on November 16, 2017

The EIR outlines potential significant environmental impacts associated with the adoption and implementation of statewide cannabis cultivation licensing regulations and provides mitigation measures to reduce those impacts to less than significant. CDFA is developing regulations for statewide cannabis cultivation licensing, as well as a track-and-trace system. This system will record the movement of cannabis and cannabis products through the supply chain, from cultivation to sale.