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Agriculture News

Slower-growing broiler advocates intensify pressure

Watt Ag Net | Posted on April 25, 2017

Make no mistake about it: Animal rights groups are intensifying their push to get every major purchaser of chicken to source only slower-growing broiler breeds that are raised according to Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards.

Survey Shows Farmers Concerns

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on April 25, 2017

A new Voice of the Farmer Report examines the state of modern day farming through a combination of interviews with farmers and analysis of millions of acres of real farm yield as well as thousands of farmer seed and chemical invoices and price records. The survey finds issues including farm profits, industry consolidation, farm consolidation, and health care, along with technology needs, are all top-of-mind for farmers and ranchers. The report predicts industry consolidation will likely further hurt the current low farm profits, and farm consolidation will put further pressure on independent farmers. The report also says health care coverage and cost is a major concern for farm families.

A new CRISPR breakthrough could lead to simpler, cheaper disease diagnosis

Washington Post | Posted on April 24, 2017

The controversial laboratory tool known as CRISPR may have found a whole new world to conquer. Already the favored method of editing genes, CRISPR could soon become a low-cost diagnostic tool that could be used practically anywhere to determine if someone has an infectious disease such as Zika or dengue.  In essence they have taken the virus-recognition properties of the bacterial CRISPR system and turned it into a technique for telling if someone's blood, urine, saliva or other bodily fluid contains genetic markers of a pathogen. The earlier gene-editing tool used a molecule called CRISPR Cas9, but this one uses another enzyme, characterized for the first time only a year ago, and now dubbed Cas13a.They report that their technique is highly portable and could cost as little as 61 cents per test in the field. Such a process would be extremely useful in remote places without reliable electricity or easy access to a modern diagnostic laboratory.“We showed that this system is very stable, so you can really put it on a piece of paper and it will survive. You don’t have to refrigerate it all the time,” Zhang said.

Animals in medicine cared for like the heroes they are

Lexington Herald Leader | Posted on April 24, 2017

The animal research industry has a history of silence that we are beginning to understand must be broken. The public doesn’t have the information needed to understand what happens in our facilities. They’ve been inundated by propaganda that, at best, misrepresents us and at worst, spreads hate and fear. The public is almost exclusively exposed to this nearly always false, fantastical, fanatical misleading information. This isn’t fair to the public, to those of us who work in this industry, or to our animals.What I want the public to know is the truth.  I want the public to understand everything we do in a research facility is guided by many, many regulations. We undergo inspections several times a year — often unannounced — by several different agencies, including the United States Department of Agriculture.I want the public to know environmental conditions are strictly controlled. For example, if an animal room’s temperature gets even a degree out of range, we must respond and correct it immediately — no matter the hour of the day or night. Recently, I drove in to work to check on a mouse whose water valve had stopped working at 1 a.m. Now tell me people like me feel nothing.



Judge slams fruit grower over 'bad faith' bargaining with farmworkers

The Los Angeles Times | Posted on April 19, 2017

The state’s largest grower of peaches and other fruit bargained in bad faith with the United Farm Workers of America and wrongly tried to exclude as many as 1,500 employees from a collective bargaining agreement, a judge has ruled. The decision gives a strong boost to the UFW’s claim to represent as many as 6,500 workers at Gerawan Farming Inc., a 12,000-acre farm and packing operation in the San Joaquin Valley that has been the focal point of one of the longest-running and most acrimonious labor dispute in decades. The decision also reaffirms that employees of labor contractors, who now provide about half the workers who pick the state’s crops, are covered by union contracts signed with the grower. The Gerawan-UFW fight, which began in the early 1990s, has sparked the single largest effort to decertify a union, along with a flurry of labor board and court decisions, including one that has stalled the state’s ability to impose a contract on warring parties.

California farms struggle to hold onto immigrant labor

Vice News | Posted on April 19, 2017

Jose Flores is an undocumented immigrant who has been working as a field hand on California farms for 17 years. But his boss, a strawberry farmer, just gave Flores control of his own plot of land. What did the farmer ask return? Simply that Flores stick around. Farms in California are experiencing a severe labor shortage that’s driving field hand wages to their highest levels in history. It has forced farmers to compete fiercely for skilled workers, offering benefits like health insurance, childcare, paid time-off, or, in Flores’ case, a piece of land. The number of fieldworkers in California has shrunk nearly 40 percent since 2002. Economists and other experts say that’s the result of tightened immigration policies and an improved Mexican economy. People are leaving California because there are more opportunities in Mexico, which has a better social safety net. In addition, making it to the U.S. is harder than before.

33% of Farmers Flying Drones This Year

Farm Journal | Posted on April 19, 2017

Drones have been hot talk in agriculture for the past several seasons. But how popular are they, really? According to a recent Farm Journal Media Pulse poll that surveyed more than a thousand farmers and ranchers, use of this technology has definitely gained a firm foothold in the industry. The Pulse poll simply asked, “Will you use a drone(s) on your operation this year?” Of the nearly 1,100 respondents, a third answered positively, with 21% saying they will operate the drones themselves, and another 12% opting for a retailer or other third-party entity to fly the drones.Another 31% say they will keep an open mind about using drones on their operation in 2018, but weren’t ready to pull the trigger this year. The final 37% say they aren’t interested in using this technology.

Ten Years of Potential Losses for 6 Row Crops? – Commentary

Ag Fax | Posted on April 19, 2017

Over the last 3 weeks we looked at the USDA Agricultural Projections to 2026 for corn, soybeans, and wheat. We used those projections to calculate the profit/loss per acre for the average US farmer for each of the 3 crops for the 10-year period from 2017 to 2026. For corn, the loss per acre for the 10-year period was $867 per planted acre. The cumulative loss for soybeans over the same period would be $314 per acre while for wheat the loss would be $980

Genetically engineered citrus virus could be answer for fighting HLB

Capital Press | Posted on April 19, 2017

A Florida firm’s plans to advance field trials of a genetically engineered virus that could make trees resistant to huanglongbing brings promise of relief from a disease that has devastated the citrus industry. But both the firm — the Clewiston, Fla.-based Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery — and a California citrus growers’ group caution that the process is still early.Southern Gardens is seeking permits from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for the environmental release of a modified version of the Citrus tristeza virus (CTV), which was developed by University of Florida researchers.The virus, which has already undergone limited testing in Florida, has been genetically engineered to use defensin proteins from spinach to manage huanglongbing, according to the Federal Register. Also known as citrus greening disease, huanglongbing can be carried by the Asian citrus psyllid and eventually kills the tree.“We’re in the concept phase of our research,” said Tim Eyrich, Southern Gardens’ vice president of research and commercialization. “We need to expand acres to be able to look at our technology across more geography.”APHIS is taking comments through May 10 as it prepares an environmental impact statement on Southern Gardens’ request to be able to commercialize the modified virus, which would be applied to citrus trees by grafting and wouldn’t involve genetically engineering the trees themselves, according to APHIS officials.

H7N9 influenza mutating quickly

Smart Brief | Posted on April 19, 2017

China reported 96 human infections and 47 deaths linked to H7N9 avian influenza last month, and scientists at Hong Kong University say the virus readily mutates and has rapidly developed into a form that kills chickens quickly, posing a threat to the poultry industry. "I think this virus poses the greatest threat to humanity than any other in the past 100 years," said Guan Yi, one of the world's leading virologists.