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Agriculture News

Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Quebec

Valley News | Posted on October 4, 2018

 A deer in Quebec has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the closest that the equivalent of “mad cow disease” for deer and moose has been found to New Hampshire and Vermont, increasing concern from wildlife officials about keeping the fatal ailment out of the state. According to New Hampshire Fish and Game, a red deer from a captive facility in the Laurentides region of Quebec, north of Montreal, recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the province’s first confirmed case. This finding represents the closest confirmed case of CWD to date, which “poses a much greater threat to the state’s deer and moose populations than past cases of the disease elsewhere in North America,” according to a statement from Fish and Game.Chronic wasting disease is an ailment of the brain and spinal column roughly similar to “mad cow disease.”Quebec now is legally classified as a CWD-positive jurisdiction, meaning that hunters cannot bring whole carcasses of cervids (members of the deer family including moose, deer, elk and caribou, as well as any species of captive deer) killed in Quebec back to the states.

New Iowa law provides more funding to control nutrient runoff

CSG Midwest | Posted on October 4, 2018

Iowa and other states in the Mississippi River basin have been the focus of national attention lately due to soil nutrients that drain to the Gulf of Mexico. Efforts in Iowa to reduce and limit the amount of nutrients that are delivered to the Gulf have been numerous. Senate File 512 was passed at the start of our 2018 legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds on Jan. 31; it provides significant, long-term funding to support implementation of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The new law dedicates $282 million over 12 years for water quality and soil conservation — $156 million to address point sources of water pollution and $126 million for nonpoint sources. SF 512 does not supplant or change any of our state’s existing programs; rather, it simply enhances our Nutrient Reduction Strategy. In 2017, $420 million was spent in Iowa to further the goals of this strategy. We will now be able to add to that amount, with targeted investments leveraged by a mix of public and private dollars.

To increase farmers’ insurance options, two Midwest states try ‘coop,’ ‘association’ models

CSG Midwest | Posted on October 4, 2018

Residents living in more than half of the nation’s counties have only one insurer to choose from on their state’s Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange. This lack of options is most prevalent in rural areas: 41 percent of enrollees in non-metro counties vs. the overall rate of 21 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.Could the creation of agricultural cooperative health plans help fill insurance gaps, offer more choices for consumers and lower costs? Minnesota lawmakers hope so, and their passage of SF 1 in 2017 marked the start of that state’s policy experiment with this type of health insurance option. “Farmers can join together in self-insured plans like those used by large employers,” explains Rep. Tim Miller, who helped guide the legislation through the House. By the start of this year, two agriculture cooperatives, 40 Square and Land O’ Lakes, had jumped into the market and enrolled more than 1,700 people.

Immigrant farm workers forced off Hermon dairy farm

Watertown Daily Times | Posted on October 4, 2018

Eight days ago, Gebarten Acres, a large dairy farm on East DeKalb Road, was forced to lay off 17 farm workers from Guatemala and Mexico after an investigation by federal officials showed the immigrant farm workers lacked documentation to legally work in the United States. Greg J. Coller, co-owner of the 2,800-cow farm, said Friday that three other immigrant workers were allowed to stay, but they decided to leave with the other 17. Some had worked and lived at the farm for the past seven years, handling milking and other chores.“They gave us a few days warning so we had time to contact family and friends to help us out,” Mr. Coller said. “Many of us have been working 17-hour days to get the cows milked.”He said he believes many of his former farmhands are already working at other farms, creating a situation where the dairy farm owners suffer the most harm.“I guarantee they’re working. To make them leave is crazy, as we’re the only ones who suffer,” Mr. Coller said.Echoing a problem faced by many other north country dairy farmers, Mr. Coller said it’s increasingly difficult to find Americans who are willing to put in the hard work to keep a farm running.

A tale of two economie: Farmers struggle despite strong US economy

Kansas City Federal Reserve | Posted on October 4, 2018

At a time when the overall U.S. economy continues to boom, the U.S. agricultural sector has continued to struggle amid falling farm income and deteriorating agricultural credit conditions. Over the past five years, U.S. economic growth has continued to strengthen. The growth in U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) has averaged 2.4 percent per quarter since 2013. Down on the farm, though, conditions have been far from robust. From 2013 to 2017, net farm income—considered to be a broad measure of farm profitability—fell 39 percent, from $123.8 billion to $75.5 billion. The farm economy does not always run counter to the rest of the overall economy, but unique conditions this past year— amplified in the Midwest—continue to curb agricultural growth. In 2012, commodity prices began to soar as a severe drought that summer lingered in the main growing areas of the Midwest, leading to a jump in land values and farm income. Strong domestic and export demand also fueled gains. Following this 2013 peak, though, crop prices dropped amid increased plantings, good growing conditions and higher crop yields. 

N.C. estimates crop, livestock losses from Hurricane Florence

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 4, 2018

Crop and livestock losses from Hurricane Florence are expected to exceed $1.1 billion, including $23.1 million in livestock, poultry and aquaculture losses, according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.The agency noted that the losses were expected to be significant because the storm hit at harvest time and Florence hit the state’s top six agricultural counties especially hard. Crop losses alone were estimated to reach a total nearly $987 million, NSDA&CS said.The agency added that the estimated toll on animals raised for food in North Carolina remain at 4.1 million poultry and 5,500 hogs across the state. Florence also caused forestry losses of $69.6 million, green industry losses of $30 million and vegetable and horticulture crop losses of $26.8 million.

Activists arrested after entering poultry farm and taking chickens

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 4, 2018

Members of the organization Direct Action Everywhere, which promotes a vegan lifestyle, were arrested on Saturday after entering a poultry farm near Petaluma, Calif., taking chickens out of their barns and attempting to take them off the farm’s property. The group live-streamed on Facebook what they called a “funeral procession” down a country road to the farm, then took some chickens they said needed medical attention. Event organizer Wayne Hsiung said the group believes that under California Penal Code 597e, they have the right to enter a facility and rescue animals that are being abused.

Ag Barometer Drops Sharply on Concerns About Weak Farm Income

Purdue | Posted on October 4, 2018

The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer fell to a reading of 114 in September, fifteen points below its August reading of 129 and its lowest reading since October 2016. September marked the second large decline in the barometer this summer, as it also declined precipitously in July. The barometer, a sentiment index based upon a nationwide monthly survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers, has been unusually volatile in recent months.

Turns out groundwater is not a point source

Farm Futures | Posted on October 4, 2018

In February 2018, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held the Hawaii County of Maui’s pollutants were traceable to wells which discharge into groundwater and that groundwater was considered a point source under the Clean Water Act. But a new ruling has reversed that call and agriculture will benefit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled on September 24, 2018 that the Clean Water Act (CWA) does not extend liabilitywhen pollution from a point source reaches surface water through groundwater movement. The plaintiffs in this case were the Kentucky Waterways Allianceand Sierra Club. The defendant was Kentucky Utilities Company which burns coal to produce energy and the leftover coal ash is discharged into man-made ponds. Kentucky Waterways and Sierra Club alleged the chemicals in the coal ash discharged into ponds leaked into surrounding groundwater, and the groundwater carried the contaminants to a nearby lake.The Court of Appeals was told this contaminating groundwater that contaminates a nearby lake violates both the CWA and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This case is only partially complete because the Court held the RCRA claim must be heard by U.S. District Court.

Canadian Farmers Lose Under Nafta Update That Opens Up Milk Trade

Bloomberg | Posted on October 4, 2018

“This doesn’t fix the problems of American oversupply,” said Holtmann, a third generation dairy farmer in Rosser, Manitoba, who will spend the winter reviewing the impact of the deal and whether his expansion plans still make sense. “It’s a slap in the face to Canadian producers who work very hard at managing supply.”Canadian dairy farmers say they’re on the losing end of the new deal, which will give the U.S. greater access to Canada’s protected dairy market and eliminate its new milk pricing system, one that’s been repeatedly attacked by President Donald Trump. Dairy was one of the core remaining hurdles to striking a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed to defend the nation’s restricted sector. On Monday, Trudeau pledged to compensate farmers to cushion the blow.As part of the deal, Canada will eliminate its Class 7 milk policy that makes it cheaper for processors to buy domestic supplies of ultra-filtered milk, a concentrated ingredient used to boost protein content in cheese and yogurt. While the system helped support a wave of new processing capacity that’s being built across Canada, U.S. farmers complained it effectively blocked imports and dragged down world prices.The U.S. is grappling with an oversupply of milk and Trump said in April that Canada has made business for American dairy farmers “very difficult.”