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Rural News

A pent-up threat to the Chesapeake Bay: Editorial

Penn Live | Posted on August 24, 2017

Just a few miles from the Maryland- Pennsylvania border lies the Conowingo Dam, an 88-year-old power station stopping the massive Susquehanna River, which is the source of much of the freshwater flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Since bay cleanup began, states in the Chesapeake watershed have relied on the dam to limit the flow of sediment and phosphorous further downstream, and the plan was to continue doing so for decades to come. But the dam's sediment pools are full, long before the cleanup plan projected them to be. Now Maryland, where the dam is located, and Pennsylvania, which is responsible for much of the pollution in the Susquehanna, have to decide what, if anything, to do about it.Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced last week that the state would conduct some limited dredging behind the dam, testing the feasibility of doing so on a larger scale and determining whether there could be some use for the material recovered.But Chesapeake environmental advocates are wary, concerned that diverting focus and resources to dredging behind the dam might undermine more important environmental initiatives, such as stopping pollution from entering the Susquehanna and other rivers in the first place. That is an argument for proceeding with care, not refusing to attend to the dam.

Texas investigates brucellosis, warns against K-Bar raw milk

Food Safety News | Posted on August 22, 2017

Texas officials say all raw milk and other unpasteurized products from K-Bar Dairy should not be consumed and should immediately be discarded because the dairy has been linked to an antibiotic-resistant strain of Brucella bacteria that has hospitalized at least one person. “At this time, it is uncertain how long Brucella (bacteria) may have been present in the raw milk from this dairy. Testing is ongoing in an attempt to answer that question,” according to the Monday alert from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Examining Farm Sector and Farm Household Income

USDA | Posted on August 21, 2017

Farm sector net cash income is expected to decline 35 percent between 2013 and 2016, following several years of record highs—though it will remain near its recent 10-year average.  Starting in the late 1990s, the median household income for farm households has exceeded the median income of all U.S. households; in 2015, farm households had a median total household income of $76,735, a third greater than that of all U.S. households but less than that of U.S. households with a self-employed head. Federal Government payments—including disaster assistance programs and commodity program payments—are expected to be about $13 billion in 2016, and buffer swings in farm income.

Telemedicine extends healthcare to rural patients

Farm and Dairy | Posted on August 21, 2017

A doctor’s appointment, particularly with a specialist, can mean long hours of driving and sitting in waiting rooms. But a new telemedicine program through the Butler Health System in western Pennsylvania is giving patients more free time and less wait time. Telemedicine visits — where patients meet with doctors via a computer video connection instead of in person — allow patients to cut down on the lost time by staying closer to home.

Pig-to-person spread of flu at fairs a continued concern | Posted on August 21, 2017

The spread of influenza among pigs is common at fairs and other gatherings, and protective measures including cutting the length of time pigs and people congregate make good sense for both the animals and humans, say the authors of a new study. A team led by Andrew Bowman of The Ohio State University tracked human cases of H3N2 swine  associated with seven agricultural fairs in 2016. They tallied 18 cases in Ohio and Michigan documented after exposure to flu-infected pigs. Though most of these infections caused mild, manageable illness, new flu viruses jumping from pigs to people raises the risk of a .The good news is that there are ways to curtail the spread of disease without eliminating swine exhibits altogether, said Bowman, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine. Chief among them: a 72-hour limit to swine exhibits, which would interrupt widespread flu transmission from pig to pig and from pigs to people, he said."Shorter exhibitions don't eliminate the possibility of the disease spreading, but it can be the difference between a few  catching the virus and most of them becoming infected," Bowman said.

4 Reasons Manufacturing Jobs Are Returning to the USA

The Agurban | Posted on August 17, 2017

Manufacturing jobs are (still) being reshored to the US. Here are the main drivers behind this trend. 1. Automotive and Electronics Industry Growth, 2. Increased Labor Cost, 3. Logistical Challenges, 4. Lack of Skilled Workers

Anti-Zoo HSUS Exec Infiltrates Zoo Community

Humane Watch | Posted on August 17, 2017

We wrote recently about Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle speaking at next month’s annual meeting of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. But Pacelle’s invitation by executive director Dan Ashe has created significant concern among AZA members. Pacelle is on record saying he envisions a future without pets—”I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.” He and his followers are also no friends of those who keep animals in “prisons.” Also troubling for the AZA is its tin ear regarding other invited speakers. We already mentioned the speaking slot (since vacated) given to HSUS staffer Jonathan Balcombe, who says, “If you apply my rule of thumb, then very few species of fishes can adequately be kept in a tank.” He claims, “Each fish is a unique individual…with a biography.”  Whatever weasel words Paquette or Pacelle use with aquariums and zoo directors, the truth is they hope every one is shut down. When Pacelle appears on stage he will be his slick non-threatening self. Like any good snake oil salesman, Pacelle knows his audience. His goal will be to assure AZA members he means them no harm (while he separately promises something different to his donors and backers). But his diplomacy in the moment should not be confused with his long-term agenda. He should have no endorsement by AZA, which naturally comes from being offered a prime speaking role at the annual conference.

A summary of the Animal Rights Conference 2017

Tri State Livestock News | Posted on August 17, 2017

The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report today detailing observations from the Animal Rights National Conference, held August 3-6 in Alexandria, Virginia. The event was hosted by the Farm Animal Rights Movement and sponsored by Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and The Humane League, along with other animal rights activist groups. Activists in attendance were encouraged to be as extreme as necessary to advance their goals. "Breaking the law can often be a good thing to do," said Zach Groff, Animal Liberation Collective. Groff spoke about the 'nature of confrontational activism' such as "protests, open rescues from farms without permission, vigils…" According to Groff, "this is a type of activism that can often upset people, it can rile people up." A major focus of this year's conference was on pressuring restaurant, retail and foodservice brands to adopt certain policies, with the end goal of forcing them to stop selling animal products. In one session on "Engaging Institutions," a speaker from The Humane League said the group had "basically harassed" one national sandwich chain with a campaign. When an audience member commented about 'humane' policies not being as good as complete liberation, Krista Hiddema, Mercy for Animals (Canada), hinted at no animal products being sold as the end goal, stating "we're never going away." Hiddema also stated that "we [the animal rights movement] are winning against the largest organizations in the world," and "they are terrified of us."

Urban floods intensifying, countryside drying up

Science Daily | Posted on August 17, 2017

Drier soils and reduced water flow in rural areas -- but more intense rainfall that overwhelms infrastructure and causes flooding and stormwater overflow in urban centers. That's the finding of an exhaustive study of the world's river systems, based on data collected from more than 43,000 rainfall stations and 5,300 river monitoring sites across 160 countries.

Grain-free pet foods are no healthier, vets say.

The Washington Post | Posted on August 17, 2017

These grain-free, all-meat and raw-food diets are inspired by the meals eaten by wild relatives of our fidos and felixes. But are these diets really better for our pets? Veterinarians and pet nutrition researchers say probably not.According to clinical veterinary nutritionists at Tufts University, grain-free foods were one of the fastest-growing sectors of the pet food market in 2016. “All I ever hear is, oh, on a good diet, it’s grain free,” said Dena Lock, a veterinarian in Texas. The majority of her pet patients are overweight. “Grain-free is marketing. It’s only marketing,” said Cailin Heinze, a small-animal nutritionist at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. “A lot of foods market themselves by what they’re not including,” and the implication is that the excluded ingredient must be bad. Some pet owners have a false impression that grains are more likely to cause an allergic reaction, but “it’s much more common for dogs to have allergies to meat than to grain,” Heinze said. Chicken, beef, eggs, dairy and wheat are the most common allergies in dogs. And it’s not that there’s anything particularly allergenic about these foods, she said, they’re just the most frequently used ingredients.