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Agriculture News

A couple of 30-something guys swapped high finance for farmland and now manage $575 million

Business Insider | Posted on September 7, 2017

Homestead Capital, a $575 million private-equity fund, was founded by Daniel Little and Gabe Santos, both of whom have personal ties to agriculture. Because of the many uncertainties involved in farming, outside investors are sometimes unwilling to take a long-term investment approach, making some farmers skeptical of working with outside investors.Santos and Little, both 39, try to establish a local presence with their regional managers and local farm operators.

Healthy meat demand boosts business, red tape for small processors

Agri-Pulse | Posted on September 7, 2017

The nation’s small meat processors are confronting a new market reality: an increasing demand for healthier local meat options coupled with the often-labyrinthine set of regulations that accompanies it. As a result, some processors in Missouri, Illinois and other parts of the nation’s heartland have changed their model from a slaughter-only facility to one that includes a specialty meat operation and opted for federal certification, allowing them to sell across state lines but increasing the amount of regulatory infrastructure. Small meat processors, who number approximately 800 nationwide, according to the latest USDA figures, have had to adjust to realities imposed from outside the industry. State authority over inspections, which used to be the reality as little as 10 years ago, is only active in 27 states, as funding has dissipated because of budgetary constraints, said Rebecca Thistlethwaite, manager of the Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network at Oregon State University.

EPA eyes limits for agricultural chemical linked to crop damage

Reuters | Posted on September 7, 2017

The U.S. environmental agency is considering banning sprayings of the agricultural herbicide dicamba after a set deadline next year, according to state officials advising the agency on its response to crop damage linked to the weed killer. Setting a cut-off date, possibly sometime in the first half of 2018, would aim to protect plants vulnerable to dicamba, after growers across the U.S. farm belt reported the chemical drifted from where it was sprayed this summer, damaging millions of acres of soybeans and other crops.

USDA Strengthens Enforcement Rules for Livestock Mandatory Reporting and COOL Programs

Penn State Law Blog | Posted on September 7, 2017

On August 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced that the agency has issued a final rule that permits USDA to impose civil penalties against violators of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) and the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations. AMS stated that the announced final rule extends the current rules under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, as amended, to include LMR and COOL violations. AMS asserted that when there is a failure "to meet the LMR reporting requirements it impacts the ability of AMS to publish timely and reliable livestock information that the industry relies upon." Accordingly, under the new final rule, USDA now has the ability to enforce compliance through the imposition of up to $10,000 in penalties for each violation of an LMR regulation. Regarding COOL, the program is intended to provide consumers with information regarding the origin of many foods. To achieve that objective, the final rule authorizes the imposition of fines against covered retailers or individuals that willfully violate COOL regulations. The announced final rule became effective upon its publication in the Federal Register on August 9, 2017

Texas Farmers Suffer Extensive Crop Losses In Wake Of Harvey

NPR | Posted on September 7, 2017

In south Texas, this was going to be one of the best years farmers had seen in a while. The cotton crop was projected to bring in record prices and even clear out many families' debts. But the massive rainfall, winds and a slow drying-out process from Harvey have left many farmers overwhelmed and worried. It will take months, maybe even a full year, to get final figures on Texas' agricultural losses to Harvey. But Gene Hall of the Texas Farm Bureau says he's done some back-of-the-envelope calculations. Roughly, Hall says just looking at cotton, Texas's No. 2 product, farmers lost at least a fifth of the crop."We think that it could be as much as $135 million" in cotton losses, he says.And Hall says for rice farmers, 20 percent of their crops are still stuck in the ground.

Clean water act's double standard

Daily Yonder | Posted on September 7, 2017

A California farmer who plowed dry ground faces large fines from the Environmental Protection Agency for polluting America's waterways. Meanwhile, under some conditions, cities can dump raw sewage into major rivers with impunity. How is this fair?

Corn:Earmarked for Cars and Cups

National Geographic | Posted on September 7, 2017

Society’s focus on petroleum for fuel and other products has, in Taylor’s view, unfairly drawn focus away from homegrown, locally produced, renewable corn. “The reality is that just about anything petroleum can be refined into, corn can be.” Corn is being used by today’s innovators to create more sustainable products – from construction materials to medical supplies. Increasingly it’s also a petrochemical substitute in tires, sneakers, cups, cutlery, bags and more. Taylor has even had lap throws and a polo shirt made from cornstarch; the shirt wore well, he reports.Bioplastics have become widely used in containers and food packaging – even Taylor’s trusted morning coffee cup -- and they have the advantage of being biodegradable without releasing toxic substances. It takes less energy to produce bioplastics than petroleum-based plastics and they contain no toxins.

Gene-edited camelina cleared by USDA

Capital Press | Posted on September 7, 2017

A variety of camelina that’s gene-edited to increase oil content can be grown without undergoing the USDA’s regulatory process for biotech crops. The agency has determined the camelina cultivar doesn’t pose a plant pest risk, which means it’s outside the USDA’s regulatory jurisdiction over genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Canada OKs second generation Innate potato

The Packer | Posted on September 7, 2017

The second generation GMO Innate potato has received regulatory approval in Canada.Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have authorized J.R. Simplot’s Co. second generation GMO Innate potato to be imported, planted and sold in Canada. The OK comes after the Canadian agencies completed a comprehensive safety assessment, and follows last year’s regulatory approval of three varieties of first-generation GMO Innate potatoes, according to a news release.

Ohio:What does CAUV reform mean for me?

Farm and Dairy | Posted on September 7, 2017

The property tax reforms that Ohio farmers and farm groups sought over the past three years are just a few weeks from taking effect. The law itself becomes effective Sept. 30, and the reforms will be phased in over the next six years of assessments. It is estimated landowners will see an average of 30 percent savings beginning with the 2017 reassessments, with full savings realized after six years.Most recently, CAUV reform refers to changes included in the 2017 state budget bill that ensure all the factors in the CAUV calculation tie directly to the agricultural economy, making for a more accurate CAUV valuation. An earlier set of reforms were adopted by the Ohio Department of Taxation in 2015, which resulted in about a $10-per-acre savings.