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3 Nebraska farmers to plead guilty in $10.9 million organic grain fraud scheme

Omaha World Herald | Posted on October 13, 2018 in Agriculture, Federal News

Three Nebraska farmers will plead guilty to knowingly marketing non-organic corn and soybeans as certified organic as part of a lengthy, multi-million-dollar fraud scheme.Tom Brennan, his son James Brennan and family friend Michael Potter have each agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud.

As milk prices decline, worries about dairy farmer suicides rise

KAKE | Posted on October 13, 2018 in Agriculture, Rural News

Kansas dairy farmers are used to dealing with hard times, but as they struggle through the fourth year of depressed milk prices, they too have become down.Orville and Mary Jane Miller have been dairy farmers their entire lives. Mary Jane's father passed the farm in Reno County down to them, and they plan to pass it on to their son. “It's very demanding, my wife starts at 1:30 a.m. milking cows. There's a calf born nearly every other day. There's just a lot happening all the time,” said Orville Miller.

N.C. extends hog farm buyout program

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 13, 2018 in Agriculture, SARL Members and Alumni News

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to extend its program to buy out swine operations within the state’s 100-year floodplain, the state agency said in a news release. Using funding grants from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the state will be able to institute permanent conservation easements to the farms.The program began in 2000 after Hurricane Floyd.

SARL Members and Alumni News

N.C. extends hog farm buyout program

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 13, 2018

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to extend its program to buy out swine operations within the state’s 100-year floodplain, the state agency said in a news release. Using funding grants from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the state will be able to institute permanent conservation easements to the farms.The program began in 2000 after Hurricane Floyd.

State Branding Programs and Local Food Purchases

Choices Magazine | Posted on October 11, 2018

Previous research on U.S. consumers details how the products they buy and where they make food purchases are changing. For example, in 1990, 80% of food for at-home consumption was purchased at supermarkets; by 2014, that number dropped to 65% (Ver Ploeg, Larimore and Wilde, 2017). The USDA Economic Research Service has calculated food at home expenditures since 1987, and annual data are available starting in 1929. In their calculation, production value or sales is equal to total expenditures.

Why Oceanside’s Measure Y hurts farmers

San Diego Union Tribune | Posted on October 11, 2018

It may not seem like it, but San Diego County is a farming community.That phrase, “farming community,” may conjure up images of old-timey black and white photos of tractors tilling up huge fields in what may now be a suburban neighborhood. Yet local agriculture continues to be important today.But our farming community is not without challenges. The most urgent challenge is Oceanside’s Measure Y, a ballot initiative that could spell the end of local farming.

Oklahoma puts brakes on poultry expansion, for now

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 10, 2018

Oklahoma’s government implemented a moratorium on applications to build new poultry feeding operations. The State Board of Agriculture’s decision comes about a month after Gov. Mary Fallin and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced that the state and tribe were forming a council to evaluate the expansion of poultry growth and its impact on rural communities in northeast Oklahoma.At the time of the council’s formation, the state had issued 41 permits to expand or build new poultry houses within the last year, with several more pending.

Irvine quit using synthetic pesticides in 2016, now a farm bill could block such local restrictions

Orange County Register | Posted on October 10, 2018

In the past three years, Irvine went from treating its parks and nature areas with more than 50 pounds and about 60 gallons of synthetic weed and pest killers annually, all the way down to zero. The city now uses organic products with ingredients such as corn gluten meal and oil from soybeans, lemongrass or rosemary. And Irvine is not alone – it’s one of more than 150 U.S.

Agriculture News

3 Nebraska farmers to plead guilty in $10.9 million organic grain fraud scheme

Omaha World Herald | Posted on October 13, 2018

Three Nebraska farmers will plead guilty to knowingly marketing non-organic corn and soybeans as certified organic as part of a lengthy, multi-million-dollar fraud scheme.Tom Brennan, his son James Brennan and family friend Michael Potter have each agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud.

As milk prices decline, worries about dairy farmer suicides rise

KAKE | Posted on October 13, 2018

Kansas dairy farmers are used to dealing with hard times, but as they struggle through the fourth year of depressed milk prices, they too have become down.Orville and Mary Jane Miller have been dairy farmers their entire lives. Mary Jane's father passed the farm in Reno County down to them, and they plan to pass it on to their son. “It's very demanding, my wife starts at 1:30 a.m. milking cows. There's a calf born nearly every other day. There's just a lot happening all the time,” said Orville Miller.

N.C. extends hog farm buyout program

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 13, 2018

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to extend its program to buy out swine operations within the state’s 100-year floodplain, the state agency said in a news release. Using funding grants from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the state will be able to institute permanent conservation easements to the farms.The program began in 2000 after Hurricane Floyd.

Guided by CRISPR, prenatal gene editing shows proof-of-concept in treating disease before birth

Science Daily | Posted on October 11, 2018

For the first time, scientists have performed prenatal gene editing to prevent a lethal metabolic disorder in laboratory animals, offering the potential to treat human congenital diseases before birth. Researchers offer proof-of-concept for prenatal use of a sophisticated, low-toxicity tool that efficiently edits DNA building blocks in disease-causing genes.

State Branding Programs and Local Food Purchases

Choices Magazine | Posted on October 11, 2018

Previous research on U.S. consumers details how the products they buy and where they make food purchases are changing. For example, in 1990, 80% of food for at-home consumption was purchased at supermarkets; by 2014, that number dropped to 65% (Ver Ploeg, Larimore and Wilde, 2017). The USDA Economic Research Service has calculated food at home expenditures since 1987, and annual data are available starting in 1929. In their calculation, production value or sales is equal to total expenditures.

Federal News

3 Nebraska farmers to plead guilty in $10.9 million organic grain fraud scheme

Omaha World Herald | Posted on October 13, 2018

Three Nebraska farmers will plead guilty to knowingly marketing non-organic corn and soybeans as certified organic as part of a lengthy, multi-million-dollar fraud scheme.Tom Brennan, his son James Brennan and family friend Michael Potter have each agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Oil industry, green groups join to oppose Trump’s ethanol plan

The Hill | Posted on October 11, 2018

President Trump is creating strange bedfellows with his proposal to expand ethanol sales, with some environmental groups and the oil industry opposing the new rule. The groups have different reasons for pushing back against Trump’s plan to remove a key barrier to selling gasoline with 15 percent ethanol (E15), but both say it’s a bad policy and are contemplating suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if it is finalized.Trump on Tuesday directed the EPA to craft a regulation that would allow for sales of E15 year-round.

Trade and a frog

OFW law | Posted on October 11, 2018

The U.S. trade deficit rose in August to $53.2 billion. That’s up $3.2 billion. A decline in soybean and oil exports is what pulled us down. China is not buying our beans – at least, not now. Their companies don’t want to pay the 25% tariff imposed by China on our beans. There is some good news. USA Rice Chairman Charley Mathews, Jr. is cheering a big purchase – 90,000 metric tons of rice by Iraq. That is triple what they had been buying. The National Pork Producers Council is praising President Trump for announcing that the U.S. and Japan are to begin trade talks.

U.S. dairy experts cast doubts on Canadian trade deal ending deep slump for American farmers

Journal Sentinel  | Posted on October 11, 2018

U.S. dairy farmers remain hopeful that a new trade deal with Canada could help lift them out of a deep slump, but some are casting doubt that it will make much of a difference in an American market flooded with milk. The deal, announced Monday by President Donald Trump, is “more of the same,” except it hurts Canadian farmers, said Jim Goodman, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and president of the National Family Farm Coalition.“Canadian family farms will go out of business, and Canadian dairy farmers will see their incomes fall due to increased U.S. imports.

'Buy local' dairy campaign sparked by trade deal that allows more U.S. milk into Canada

CBC | Posted on October 11, 2018

The latest trade deal allowing more U.S. milk to pour into Canada has sparked a rallying cry to buy Canadian dairy. The message comes not only from dairy farmers upset over losing market share but also from many Canadian consumers pledging their support on social media."My heart hurts for the local industry," said software engineer Erum Tanvir in Winnipeg. Last week, she posted a Facebook message to buy Canadian milk.Tanvir says she'll choose Canadian over U.S. dairy products — even if they're more expensive.

Rural News

As milk prices decline, worries about dairy farmer suicides rise

KAKE | Posted on October 13, 2018

Kansas dairy farmers are used to dealing with hard times, but as they struggle through the fourth year of depressed milk prices, they too have become down.Orville and Mary Jane Miller have been dairy farmers their entire lives. Mary Jane's father passed the farm in Reno County down to them, and they plan to pass it on to their son. “It's very demanding, my wife starts at 1:30 a.m. milking cows. There's a calf born nearly every other day. There's just a lot happening all the time,” said Orville Miller.

Simba The Lab To Provide Comfort To Kids In Court

Vernon Hills Patch  | Posted on October 13, 2018

Simba is the nation's first dog to be assigned to a county public defender's office. While the name Simba might remind most of us of a beloved cartoon lion, kids at the Depke Juvenile Justice Complex will meet another Simba whose purpose is to comfort them. The 2-year-old Labrador retriever is assigned to the guardian ad litem office, which advocates for kids' best interests. Simba has one mission, and it's a lucky one. "His job is to be petted," said Kathy Gordon, an assistant public defender and guardian ad litem, according to the Daily Herald.

Could TV Whitespace Get Real With Microsoft Initiative

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 11, 2018

Terrain, demographics, trees, hills, politics, and low population density all conspire to block rural residents from getting easy internet access.  Could that be changing? A year ago Microsoft announced its Airband Initiative, an effort to move TV whitespaces from a good idea to a working technology. The project coordinates smaller Internet service providers, manufacturers, and software vendors around the new technology. Some early signs hint at future successes.

Changing housing market, timber glut limit prices

Mississippi State  | Posted on October 11, 2018

Housing start fluctuations and an abundance of timber are limiting the ceiling on stumpage prices in Mississippi now, but expect the market to improve when sawmills begin stocking up for winter. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau National, home construction dropped 13 percent from May to June, which is considered a significant decrease.

‘Forever Chemicals’ Seep Into Michigan’s Water (and House Races)

Roll Call | Posted on October 10, 2018

Years after the Flint water crisis drew national attention, another water pollution issue has emerged in House races in Michigan. Residents are growing concerned about human exposure to so-called forever chemicals, known as perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

Energy News

Blown Away:WInd energy in the southern states

Southern Legislative Conference  | Posted on October 11, 2018

Wind energy production in the United States continues to grow, heralding expanded transmission capacity, lower energy prices and job growth in several sectors. This SLC Special Series exploring the myriad impacts of wind energy expansion in SLC states has examined the benefits of wind energy in the region* and provided case studies from three SLC states.† However, a further understanding of the full impacts of this growing industry also necessitates a discussion of its challenges.

The narrative of renewal: If we can't mine coal, what are we going to do?

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 11, 2018

“EPA = Expanding Poverty in America.”  This statement is written in three-foot-high letters on a banner stretched over a bandstand in a public park in Pikeville, Kentucky. It is June 2012 and I am just starting production of the After Coal documentary. The crowd around me is dressed in the reflective stripes of mining uniforms or in T-shirts reading Friends of Coal and Walker Heavy Machinery.

Oil industry, green groups join to oppose Trump’s ethanol plan

The Hill | Posted on October 11, 2018

President Trump is creating strange bedfellows with his proposal to expand ethanol sales, with some environmental groups and the oil industry opposing the new rule. The groups have different reasons for pushing back against Trump’s plan to remove a key barrier to selling gasoline with 15 percent ethanol (E15), but both say it’s a bad policy and are contemplating suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if it is finalized.Trump on Tuesday directed the EPA to craft a regulation that would allow for sales of E15 year-round.

NY to invest $40M in solar energy storage technology

Miami Herald | Posted on October 11, 2018

New York state is investing $40 million in technology that stores energy from solar power. The office of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the funding decision. The money will support solar power projects around the state that are designed to ensure energy derived from the sun can be stored for use when demand is greatest. That can reduce the need for other, less environmentally friendly forms of power.Cuomo has set a goal for the state to generate half of its power from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Blind focus on ‘energy dominance’ may cripple Endangered Species Act

The Hill | Posted on October 11, 2018

The bald eagle, sea otter, timber wolf — these iconic animals and more have been saved by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). But the Trump administration doesn't seem to care about our country's natural heritage. It's using questionable arguments about the popular law in an effort to gut protections and convert our public lands into private assets. The administration's destructive intent is apparent in the proposed revisions to the ESA by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries.

Food News

Compound in Cow’s Milk May Help Kill Malignant Mesothelioma Cells

Mesothelioma.net | Posted on October 11, 2018

When you were a kid and your mother told you to drink your milk, you probably never dreamed that the white stuff you poured over your cereal might hold the key to curing malignant mesothelioma. Though it would definitely be a stretch to think that drinking more cow’s milk could eradicate the asbestos-related disease, as so often turns out to be true, there’s a grain of truth to what mom always said.

DHS gets in the weeds on cyber threats to agriculture

FCW | Posted on October 10, 2018

DHS' Threats to Precision Agriculture report looks at cyber vulnerabilities in embedded and connected technologies that harness remote sensing, global positioning systems and communication systems to generate big data, data analytics and machine learning to manage crops and livestock.

Regulators face food fight over lab-grown meat

Washington Examiner | Posted on October 10, 2018

A food fight has been brewing over how the government should regulate animal tissue grown in labs. The prospect of lab-grown tissue has raised the hopes of animal welfare and environmental groups because it is created without slaughter and meant to substitute for traditional pork, beef, chicken, and fish.

Danny Meyer Just Made a Big Investment in Food Delivery

Grub Street | Posted on October 10, 2018

Danny Meyer wants to be your delivery man. His private-equity fund Enlightened Hospitality Investments has led a new funding round into Goldbelly, the online food market that brings local specialties to a national audience. Following the success of Shake Shack, Meyer — once a neighborhood restaurateur who didn’t even stray far from Union Square — has been busy investing in food businesses like Los Angeles chain Tender Greens and Portland ice-cream maker Salt & Straw.Goldbelly is a one-stop resource for American regional foods that smartly capitalizes on people’s food obsessions.

Disqualified from SNAP? SAM I Am!

OFW Law | Posted on October 10, 2018

Owners of retail food stores permanently disqualified from participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are saddled with serious consequences in addition to the loss of the store’s ability to accept food stamp benefits (EBT). After USDA’s Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) permanently disqualifies a store, the agency promptly searches its SNAP retailer database to determine if the disqualified store’s shareholders have ownership interests in other SNAP-authorized stores.