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Agriculture News

Student transforms cow manure into household furniture | Posted on September 6, 2017

A university student has gone from stool to stools after transforming cow manure into a range of designer household furniture. Sanelisiwe Mafa, a Product Design Student at Birmingham City University, came up with the innovative idea in a bid to create useful items from the .After researching how  could be used as a sustainable resource she put her ideas into practice and transformed the manure into a material which could be shaped, moulded and styled into different items of furniture.She experimented with the substance before finding a method which allowed the manure to be manipulated into a range of shapes and sizes while retaining the detail of the material.The manure has been used to produce a range of stools and designer flower pots, mounted on wood stands, which are also fully recyclable.


Audit: Iowa DNR fails to follow law on wetlands, public works inspections

Des Moines Register | Posted on September 6, 2017

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has failed to follow state law to identify protected wetlands, inspect local public works projects, and create a clean-air advisory panel, an audit released says. In response, Iowa DNR officials said the state laws duplicate other state or federal efforts, are less stringent than federal requirements, are outmoded, or can't be completed because of lack of cooperation from other state leaders.The agency said it would seek changes during the 2018 Legislative session.The state auditor's report says Iowa DNR failed to inventory protected wetlands, a finding that worries environmental leaders.

Michigan Farming Giant Sued for Defaulting on $145M Loan

DTN | Posted on September 5, 2017

When Zeeland, Michigan-based Boersen Farms Inc. bought the bulk of Stamp Farms LLC's land-lease agreements and other assets in what was considered one of the largest farm bankruptcies ever in 2013, the DTN National Corn Index was at $7 a bushel. Now, with cash corn prices closer to $3 a bushel and the farm economy struggling, those headwinds have made it difficult for Boersen Farms to pay its bills, despite planting roughly 83,000 acres of corn and soybeans last spring, according to court records.The farm defaulted on more than $145.3 million it owes CHS Capital LLC, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. CHS Capital has asked the court for a receivership. That would place all property used as collateral for the loans under the control of an independent person known as a receiver."They bought a lot of this property at $6 and $7 corn, and now it's trading under $4," said Cody H. Knight, a bankruptcy attorney with Rayman & Knight based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, who is representing the Boersens."That was a big impact -- it's commodities. Our law firm does all insolvency work. In the past five years, four of five cases have been in agriculture. You have to be big to survive, but even big farmers have been struggling," Knight said.

The raging legal battle over what makes a food ‘natural’

The Washington Post | Posted on September 5, 2017

More than a year after the Food and Drug Administration signaled that it would soon nail down exactly what the word “natural” means, the agency has yet to provide any guidance — and baffled consumers are suing. They’ve sued Sargento, the dairy giant, because the cows behind its “natural” cheeses are given genetically modified feed.They’ve sued Walmart over its “all-natural” pita chips, which contain thiamine mononitrate and folic acid — both B vitamins that are made synthetically. Since January,  court filings show that there’s been an uptick in lawsuits against food companies regarding “all-natural” and “natural” claims — and some lawyers say the FDA’s continued silence is to blame.Nineteen all-natural class actions have been filed this year, as of July 2017. There were 27 such suits for the entire year of 2016.

AVMA helping veterinarians take on telemedicine By Katie Burns

AVMA | Posted on September 5, 2017

The AVMA is providing guidance and soon a toolkit to help veterinarians take on telemedicine in practice. On July 21 at its regular annual session in Indianapolis, the AVMA House of Delegates passed a policy on telemedicine and accompanying revisions to the Model Veterinary Practice Act, which is a model for state practice acts.Dr. Lori Teller, District VIII representative on the AVMA Board of Directors, said ahead of the regular annual session of the House that the AVMA has spent more than two years thoughtfully and thoroughly considering the potential impacts of telemedicine on the public and the profession. She updated HOD members on the Association's activities in the area of telemedicine.In 2016, the AVMA Practice Advisory Panel completed a comprehensive report on telemedicine. In 2017, the Association solicited feedback on the report from members, stakeholders, and the general public. The "Policy on Telemedicine" draws on the report and the feedback."Telemedicine is a tool that may be utilized to augment the practice of veterinary medicine," according to the policy. "The AVMA is committed to ensuring access to the convenience and benefits afforded by telemedicine, while promoting the responsible provision of high quality veterinary medical care." Per the policy, "Given the current state of technological capabilities, available research, and the current state and federal regulatory landscape, the AVMA believes that veterinary telemedicine should only be conducted within an existing Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR), with the exception for advice given in an emergency until that patient can be seen by a veterinarian."

China targets farm waste as a 'clean' power source

Reuters | Posted on September 5, 2017

China will pay farmers to turn animal poo into fertilizer and power, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Wednesday, as Beijing cracks down on agricultural pollution that has for years leaked into rivers and lakes, angering Chinese residents. China will give farmers subsidies to build animal waste processing facilities to make fertilisers or to treat manure so it’s safe for disposal, and to install biogas plants that use methane to generate electricity, according a government plan announced on Aug. 1.The plan includes setting up recycling programs by 2020 in 200 major counties that have livestock farms. That’s less than half the 586 major counties the government says have hog and poultry farms.The agriculture ministry gave no details about the size of the subsidies, but the move could be a big step toward curbing chemical fertilizer use and cutting water pollution.

A Texas Farmer on Harvey, Bad Planning and Runaway Growth

The New York Times | Posted on August 31, 2017

A century’s worth of unchecked growth, he’ll tell you, has brought prosperity to many. But it also has altered the landscape in ways that have made both the droughts and the floods more destructive and made that prosperity fleeting. Much of the region sits atop the overtaxed Gulf Coast Aquifer, and though efforts have made over the last 40 years to limit withdrawals from it, enough water has been sucked out of it that the ground still subsides in some places, altering runoff patterns and allowing flood waters to gather. What’s more, those more than 2 million newcomers to the region are living in houses and driving on roads and shopping in stores built atop what once was prairie that could have absorbed at least some of the fury of this flood and the next. What once was land that might have softened the storm’s blow is now, in many cases, collateral damage in what could turn out to be a $40 billion disaster.It will take months before the full weight of Hurricane Harvey’s ruinous rampage along the Gulf is realized, and it will be years before a full recovery. And in the space between those two points, my friend would tell you, there might just be a moment to consider how best to rebuild, to pause and rethink how and where we build, to reflect not just on whether we’re altering the weather, but whether there is a way to make ourselves less vulnerable to it. Perhaps we could build differently, or set aside land that would both help recharge the dwindling water supplies in times of drought and slow the floods when they come.

Farmers, experts: solar and agriculture ‘complementary, not competing’ in North Carolina

Southeast Energy News | Posted on August 31, 2017

On a 120-acre farm in Biscoe, North Carolina, near the edge of the Uwharrie National Forest, a flock of hair sheep takes shelter from the summer sun beneath a row of solar panels.  They provide a valuable service to O2 emc – the Cornelius-based company that owns this solar installation – by preventing weeds that could block sunlight and decrease the panels’ efficiency.“What we’re trying to do is put agriculture and solar right next to each other,” says Brock Phillips of Sun-Raised Farms, who owns and manages the sheep. “It can be quite symbiotic if implemented correctly.” Building on an April analysis from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association and the state’s agricultural agency, the latest study finds that less than a third of 1 percent of North Carolina’s 4.75 million acres of cropland now houses solar panels – belying criticisms that large-scale solar arrays are threatening the state’s traditional farms. With a new law adopted this summer expected to more than double the state’s solar capacity – mostly in the form of utility-scale installations – the numbers will undoubtedly increase.

Texas Farm Bureau Sets up Fund

DTN | Posted on August 31, 2017

Farmers and ranchers in eastern Texas and western Louisiana were coping with continued torrential downpours on Wednesday even as floodwaters receded in other areas of Texas hit by Tropical Storm Harvey. The Texas Farm Bureau on Wednesday created a relief fund focusing on agricultural producers in southeast Texas hit by the storm that first struck Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. "One hundred percent of everything we collect will go to them and we are setting up the infrastructure for implementing that right now," said Gene Hall, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau.

1.2 million beef cows in 54 Texas counties affected by Hurricane Harvey

Farm Talk | Posted on August 31, 2017

The 54 Texas counties declared a disaster area due to Hurricane Harvey contain over 1.2 million beef cows, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inventory report.“That’s 27 percent of the state’s cowherd,” said David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock economist in College Station. “That’s a conservative estimate of beef cow numbers because 14 of those counties only have cattle inventory estimates.”Anderson noted since it is late August, a lot of calves in the affected areas are either close or ready to be marketed. The disaster area also includes a large number of livestock auction markets and Sam Kane meat processing.