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Agriculture News

How to make the gene-editing tool CRISPR work even better

Science Daily | Posted on August 8, 2018

Scientists have found conclusive evidence that Cas9, the most popular enzyme currently used in CRISPR gene editing, is less effective and precise than one of the lesser-used CRISPR proteins, Cas12a. Because Cas9 is more likely to edit the wrong part of a plant's or animal's genome, disrupting healthy functions, the scientists make the case that switching to Cas12a would lead to safer and more effective gene editing.

Perfect storm forces dairy prices lower

American Agriculturalist | Posted on August 8, 2018

According to USDA, prices for milk and dairy products for the remainder of 2018 are expected to be lower than previously forecast, due to downward price movements in recent weeks, high stock levels of cheese and whey, relatively weak growth in domestic use and expected impacts of tariffs imposed by China. For 2019, all price forecasts have been lowered except for butter. The Class III milk price forecast for August and September is from $14.70 to $15.70 per cwt.

Smithfield unit fights gag order

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 8, 2018

Calling it “unnecessary, unprecedented and unconstitutional,” the Murphy-Brown unit of Smithfield Foods is appealing a federal judge’s gag order related to the series of nuisance lawsuits filed against the hog producer in North Carolina, according to court documents. The gag order prevents anyone associated with the lawsuits, even neighbors, from speaking with a member of the press about the cases. More than two dozen such lawsuits have been filed against Smithfield in that state; the company has lost two of the cases so far.

Wisconsin to hold Workshops Focusing on Farm, Food Entrepreneur Grants | Posted on August 8, 2018

Many Wisconsin farmers and food entrepreneurs have used grants to evaluate new crops or farming practices or to launch value-added businesses. Individuals interested in learning more about possible grant opportunities or other financial options are invited to attend informational workshops scheduled around the state this fall. Specific grant programs to be covered include:USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant program, which funds research and education projects that advance sustainable agriculture;USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) program, a program administered locally by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) which funds endeavors that enhance the competitiveness of Wisconsin specialty crops;Wisconsin's Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant program, a DATCP program which funds projects that increase the demand for and supply of locally produced foods in Wisconsin; and DATCP's Farmer-led Watershed Grants Program, which provides grants that go to projects that focus on ways to prevent and reduce runoff from farm fields and work to increase farm participation in these voluntary efforts. In addition, the workshop will briefly cover USDA financial assistance and loan programs for farmers.  

Livestock haulers receive 1-year ELD extension

Tri State Livestock News | Posted on August 7, 2018

The Senate passed the Minibus Appropriations bill with an amendment sponsored by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) that would delay the implementation of the Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) mandate for livestock haulers by one more year. Livestock haulers are already operating on a delay until the end of the Fiscal Year, but this amendment would extend that delay to Sep. 30, 2019.

Roundtable features impact of ag nuisance lawsuits

Feedstuffs | Posted on August 7, 2018

Discussion in North Carolina featured legislators and ag leaders to discuss economic impact or recent animal lawsuits and threat to all farms. A special national agriculture roundtable was held Aug. 3 highlighting the recent wave of nuisance lawsuits targeting North Carolina hog farms. The event, which was held in Raleigh, N.C., brought together legislators and agriculture leaders to discuss the growing threat to farmers and exposed how out-of-state trial lawyers are using nuisance lawsuits to circumvent state right-to-farm laws.North Carolina Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler says these nuisance lawsuits won’t stop at animal agriculture. “If we don’t do something about it now, there’s not a farm in America that won’t be affected,” Troxler says.

6 farming myths we wish the public would stop clinging to

| Posted on August 7, 2018

Here are six of the biggest myths spread on social media and in the mainstream media, and some stuff we as farmers are frankly really sick of hearing. 1. GMOs are bad. 2. “Factory farms” wreck the environment. 4. Farmers are rich and get government subsidies.5. Agriculture is run on illegal immigrants who aren’t treated fairly.6. Food safety concerns. No, your food isn’t drenched in pesticides and, as the saying goes, the dose makes the poison. NO, livestock aren’t “pumped full” of hormones and antibiotics. Yes, everything we eat is regulated and inspected, 

Hawaii was once a local milk mecca. On Oahu, there’s just one dairy left

The New Food Economy | Posted on August 7, 2018

Naked Cow Dairy, located just inland from Waianae on Oahu’s leeward coast, about 45 minutes from Honolulu, sits on a flat patch of land dwarfed by lush green cliffs. At the far end of the property, past the clucking and bleating, sits the creamery. It’s the key to how Naked Cow continues where no other dairy does. A few small rooms, a guava-wood smoker built from a converted restaurant display fridge with clear doors, and an aging room adapted from a 1963 freezer box truck form the cheese- and butter-making operation. “You have to recycle in Hawaii,” laughs van der Stroom, hinting at the difficulties of doing business on the island. Today, diners at 20 restaurants around the islands and shoppers as far away as Colorado buy the 600 pounds of cheese and 800 pounds of butter produced by Naked Cow each month. But the path to survival for Oahu’s last dairy required a hefty amount of bushwhacking. When van der Stroom moved to the island 25 years ago to run a different dairy, there were 17 others in operation. But one by one, they were priced out by a system in which the Legislature set milk prices that didn’t fluctuate with inflation or changing costs. At the mercy of the single processor on the island, they each gave up. When van der Stroom was handed severance pay and tasked with closing down the final dairy on the island, she looked for a way to soldier on.

Administration lifts GMO crop ban for U.S. wildlife refuges

Reuters | Posted on August 7, 2018

The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era ban on the use of pesticides linked to declining bee populations and the cultivation of genetically modified crops in dozens of national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted. Environmentalists, who had sued to bring about the 2-year-old ban, said on Friday that lifting the restriction poses a grave threat to pollinating insects and other sensitive creatures relying on toxic-free habitats afforded by wildlife refuges.“Industrial agriculture has no place on refuges dedicated to wildlife conservation and protection of some of the most vital and vulnerable species,” said Jenny Keating, federal lands policy analyst for the group Defenders of Wildlife.Limited agricultural activity is authorized on some refuges by law, including cooperative agreements in which farmers are permitted to grow certain crops to produce more food or improve habitat for the wildlife there.The rollback, spelled out in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service memo, ends a policy that had prohibited farmers on refuges from planting biotech crops - such as soybeans and corn - engineered to resist insect pests and weed-controlling herbicides.

The agriculture industry is losing its voice in American politics

Stratfor | Posted on August 7, 2018

Over the past few decades, agribusiness contributions to politics have declined substantially. Lobbying spending by agribusiness as a percentage of total lobbying spending has decreased since 2008, even in election years. Contributions have also gotten slightly more partisan, with more and more contributions going to the Republican Party. Moreover, the composition of the vital, influential Farm Bill has shifted significantly since 2000; its main focus has become funding for food assistance programs rather than protections for farmers.