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Agriculture News

Growing urban coyote populations are feasting on pets

High Country News | Posted on April 18, 2019

Once restricted to the western plains, coyote populations are surging in cities across the U.S. They are master adapters who have learned to survive in urban environments – a recent study found coyotes present in 96 out of 105 cities surveyed. But many communities are struggling to figure out new ways to deal with predators in their neighborhoods.One of the most startling findings has been that people’s gardening choices could be contributing to the problem of disappearing pets. A quarter of coyotes’ diet was found to be ornamental fruit, including fruit from palm trees, small red berries called pyracantha, and grapes found around people’s homes. These trees attract coyotes, who – once in the neighborhood – are also finding cats and small dogs. “We are subsidizing the coyotes with these gardens,” says Brown.Brown advises people to keep their pets safe by reducing food sources like fruit trees, pet food, cat colonies, trash left around. Fruit should be harvested and trash covered. “That’s the easiest way to protect your pets – just reduce food sources available,” he says.

Could Hemp be an Economic Lifeline for Rural Texas Towns?

Texas Observer | Posted on April 18, 2019

As the Legislature considers greenlighting hemp production, a litany of farmers, rural economic development advocates and even conservative Republicans are singing its praises. Now a potential new cash crop — hemp —  could give a much-needed boost to local economies and has folks in Haskell and other farming towns in the state buzzing. Hemp and marijuana are the same plant species, but hemp lacks marijuana’s psychoactive properties and can be used to make goods ranging from clothing and paper to building materials and medicine. But there’s a problem: Hemp production remains illegal in Texas, despite Congress deregulating the plant via the Farm Bill last year. That could change this legislative session, as state lawmakers are considering several proposals to legalize farming hemp for the first time in 50 years. The legislation has the support of farmers, rural and community development researchers and advocates, and even conservative Republicans like Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Washington lawmakers loosen truck weight rules during harvest

Capital Press | Posted on April 18, 2019

Truck drivers hauling crops will have some leeway before getting a ticket for exceeding weight limits, according to a bill passed Monday by the state House. Senate Bill 5883 will let drivers carrying crops exceed weight limits by up to 5% twice in a calendar year. Farm lobbyists said that rain can make crops heavier than expected.The bill's sponsor, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, said at a hearing this session the legislation will help growers during harvest season."This is about farmers getting their product out of the field," he said. "It's nigh impossible for that truck to be weighed so that the farm knows exactly what the weight is."The version of the bill passed by the Senate gave drivers four warnings instead of two. The Senate will have to OK the revisions. King accepts the House changes to his bill, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Midwest Farmers Suffer After Floods: ‘I Got My Life in This Ground’

Pew Trust | Posted on April 18, 2019

From the top of a lookout point on a clear day here, Joe Keithley could see the Missouri River spill over its banks into three states: Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Underwater farmland stretched to the horizon in all directions. He used binoculars to zoom in on 1,700 acres of his family farm in Missouri. “Looks like one of our grain bins is tipped over,” said Keithley, 57. “Damn it,” he muttered under his breath.Midwestern states have been battered with intensive flooding since mid-March. Rain and warm temperatures melted the snow from an unseasonably cold and snowy winter in some areas, but the frozen ground couldn’t soak up the water.The wet weather overwhelmed the Missouri River and its tributaries that run like vines through the Midwest and Plains. Levies cracked open, and bloated waterways pushed out into the river bottoms.Blocks of ice bigger than pickup trucks jammed the downstream system, cutting up roads and the approaches to bridges. Similar conditions caused flooding from Minnesota down to Louisiana along the Mississippi River.And as farmers and rural residents worried, lawmakers in statehouses around the Midwest began to wrestle, again, with funding and policies to address the disaster. Intensive flooding will continue to happen, and states will have to figure out what to do about it. 

University of Arizona trying to open the state's first public veterinary school in Oro Valley

Arizona Central | Posted on April 18, 2019

Arizona students could have a public university option to study veterinary medicine as soon as next year, if the University of Arizona's plan for a new program is approved by accreditors.  A new college for veterinary medicine would open and begin enrolling students by fall 2020 under the university's plan.UA has worked to open a veterinary-medicine program for several years, but so far hasn't convinced the accrediting body, the American Veterinary Medical Association's Council on Education, to bless it.

Vaccines do not cause autism in pets

KREM | Posted on April 18, 2019

The anti-vaccine movement has come for pets.  In fact, the spreading fear of side effects from pet vaccines led the British Veterinary Association to issue a statement that dogs cannot develop autism from them.

Ag census shows ag of the middle continues to shrink

Bee Culture | Posted on April 18, 2019

“The 2017 Census of Agriculture puts hard data behind what American farmers and farmer advocates have known for some time – if we don’t invest in beginning farmers and the advancement of our family farms, and if we don’t put checks on increasing consolidation in agriculture, we’re going to be at risk of losing the ag of the middle entirely,” said Juli Obudzinski, NSAC Interim Policy Director.  “Seventy five percent of all agricultural sales are now coming from just five percent of operations. The total number of farms is down nationwide, while the average size of farms continues to increase. We can’t sit idly by while the middle falls out of American agriculture. If we’re going to reverse these trends, we need to focus on programs and policies – beginning farmer and rancher programs, local and organic agriculture, and farmer-driven research to name a few – that help our family farmers thrive, not just survive.”

Farmland Values Currently Steady Economic Concerns- But Potential for Declines Exist

Farm Policy News | Posted on April 18, 2019

Recent news items from the Corn Belt point to several economic challenges facing producers as spring planting approaches.  Nonetheless, relatively steady farmland values continue to be a bright spot.  But a recent update from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City noted that: “If farmland sales continue to increase in 2019 alongside persistently low agricultural commodity prices and higher interest rates, farmland values could decline further.”

EU says it is ready to launch U.S. trade talks, but without agriculture

Reuters | Posted on April 18, 2019

The European Union is ready to start talks on a trade agreement with the United States and aims to conclude a deal before year-end, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said. The EU approved two areas for negotiation, opposed by France with an abstention from Belgium. But agriculture was not included, leaving the 28-country bloc at odds with Washington, which has insisted on including farm products in the talks.

Reviewing US dairy supply management efforts

Edairy News | Posted on April 18, 2019

Farm Bureau grassroots leaders debated this issue in 2019 and ultimately decided to oppose a mandatory quota system with the willingness to consider a flexible supply management system that is administered through the marketplace and not through the federal government, i.e., milk processors and cooperatives alongside individual dairy farmers. Milk supply management programs, which provide incentives or penalties to limit perceived over-production, have been used previously in the U.S. with mixed results. These programs included a USDA-administered milk diversion program, government-administered and industry-funded herd buyout programs, and base-excess plans, i.e., two-tiered pricing. In addition, a milk supply management program was heavily debated during the 2014 farm bill. Today’s Market Intel article reviews these previous attempts to manage the U.S. milk supply.