Add instant communications to generosity and hard work, and what do you get? America's farmers and ranchers respond to the wildfire devastation in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. While the national media response was quiet, local press and farmers' social media took the story and ran. Simultaneously, farmers in other parts of the country started organizing relief efforts. With little national notice, farmers around the country have been sending thousands of truckloads of hay and supplies to burned-out ranchers. Social media has been the key to this volunteer effort of relief. Reports of the wildfires flew through Facebook pages, shared nationally among those in more rural and farm-oriented communities. Through friends of friends of friends, informal information networks spread some of grief at the loss of young ranchers who died trying to save their livestock. Social media also raised the visibility of local press that turned out to cover the fires’ impact in their communities and states.
An appeals court has blocked key parts of a proposed large-scale dairy farm that has been the subject of controversy for years in central Wisconsin. The owners of the proposed farm, known as Golden Sands, do not have the right to use more than 6,000 acres of land for agriculture and manure spreading, according to the Wisconsin District IV Court of Appeals in a ruling issued Thursday morning.The ruling overturns an earlier ruling in Wood County Circuit Court that stated the Wysocki Family of Companies' application for dairy buildings on 100 acres of Saratoga land allowed it to use additional land associated with the proposed dairy for agricultural purposes.The appellate judges who issued the ruling found that Golden Sands "fails to support" its claim to have a right to use the land as planned.Under the new ruling, the company will have the right to proceed with construction on 10 buildings for the cows, feed and other dairy operations, said Paul Kent, town of Saratoga attorney. . The court decision blocks Wysocki from planting crops or spreading manure on the land. The potential impact on water from manure spreading from approximately 4,000 cows and watering more than 6,000 acres of crops is the town's primary concern.
A Lower Valley dairy is being sued over claims that it has violated the federal Clean Water Act for years, including contributing to the impact of a manure-related flood in the Outlook area earlier this year.The lawsuit against Snipes Mountain Dairy was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Yakima.The plaintiffs are Community Association for Restoration of the Environment, commonly known as CARE, and Friends of Toppenish Creek. Both nonprofits have been active critics of dairy practices in the Lower Valley. Charlie Tebbutt, a Eugene, Ore., lawyer who represents CARE, said the Outlook flood was only a small part of the overall lawsuit.Plaintiffs’ lawyers had been working on the case well before that.“That’s just one more problem that the facility has had over the years,” Tebbutt said. “This has been a recurring problem for many, many years, even over a decade or more.”The lawsuit claims that Snipes Mountain has polluted surface water and groundwater by discharging manure and other pollutants. The manure from the dairy cows is spread on farm fields.The dairy is classified as a concentrated animal feeding operation.Under that permit, it is prohibited from polluting groundwater, according to the lawsuit.
Fears on the farm. How President Trump’s immigration crackdown could impact Vermont’s dairy industry. Vermont is probably not a state you’d think of in the conversation about immigration and border security. But the state’s multi-billion dollar dairy industry relies on undocumented agriculture workers to milk and more. President Trump’s executive orders and tough talk have undocumented workers scared. And farmers don’t know what they’ll do without a reliable workforce. This hour On Point, Vermont, agriculture, and immigration.
Recently, I spent a morning with a country veterinarian. As he checked cattle for their health certificates, we talked about antibiotic use in cattle, sheep, pigs, turkeys and chickens. He’s observed a deeply concerning trend; many sick animals are not being treated with antibiotics because ranchers and farmers are required to keep their animals ABF (antibiotic free) for their large, socially driven corporate customers. When animals get sick, and many do, just like many kids get sick, they need antibiotics to get better. Most parents would never withhold antibiotics if their child had an infection that a medicine would help cure. That would be cruelly neglectful. Most in ag production would also gladly pay for the antimicrobials to help their animals heal from an infection. But over the last few years we’ve seen social paranoia needlessly demonize the right judicious use of antibiotics. Chick-fil-a declared they’ll end antibiotic use in their chickens by 2019. Last week, KFC announced that by the end of 2018 all their chicken will be raised without antibiotics “important to human medicine.” Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Subway have also received wide social media praise for going antibiotic free. Is this a scientifically justifiable reaction?
District crop and livestock producers are struggling to cope with a sharp drop in commodity prices. For agricultural producers across the Ninth District, this has been the winter of their discontent. After reaping handsome profits earlier in the decade, producers are reeling from lower crop and livestock prices, the result of several years of high commodity production worldwide and a strong U.S. dollar that has limited farm exports.Many producers in the district are operating at a loss because revenues are not covering their costs. “I’m not sure I want to call it depression, but we’re getting into probably what is the third year of a downswing, and certainly there’s concern and anxiety,” said Keith Olander, dean of agricultural studies at Central Lakes College, a community and technical college in north-central Minnesota.
Canada says it’s being wrongly blamed for a decision by a major dairy processor that could put some Wisconsin farms out of business in less than three weeks.At issue are changes in Canadian policy that make it harder for U.S. dairy processors — such as Grassland Dairy Products of Greenwood — to sell ultra-filtered milk, used to make cheese, in Canada.The policies are “choking off sales of American milk to the detriment of U.S. dairy farmers,” said Tom Vilsack, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary and now president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Grassland notified about 75 Wisconsin farms that as of May 1, it is canceling their contracts because it has lost its Canadian business.“The Canadian government has put in place several regulations to prevent this trade from continuing,” the company said in a letter to the farmers. "Canada isn’t taxing or levying tariffs on U.S. exports, but instead is changing the pricing structure of its own milk supply to provide preferential pricing treatment for domestic suppliers," Galen said.Not so fast on placing that blame, say Canadian farmers, who fault the U.S. for producing too much milk in a global marketplace flooded with it.“We don’t feel good about U.S. farms going out of business. But you know what? It’s not our responsibility. It’s your own responsibility, as a country, to manage your production,” said Isabelle Bouchard, director of government relations for the trade group Dairy Farmers of Canada.“We are a nation of 36 million people, less than the population of California. How do you expect us to (consume) your over-supply of milk when we already produce milk for our market?”
Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America, with 22 of every 100,000 farmers dying in a work-related accident. Farmers are nearly twice as likely to die on the job as police officers are, five times as likely as firefighters, and 73 times as likely as Wall Street bankers. Farming death rates may be high, but the injury rates are even higher. In 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were 58,000 adult farm injuries — nearly 6,000 more than the number of U.S. soldiers wounded in all the years since 9/11. Many of those injuries last a lifetime, driving up disability rates among rural Americans, who are 50 percent more likely to have some form of disability than their urban counterparts. Also contributing are high rates of injury in other professions rooted in rural areas, including logging, fishing and trucking. In fact, the jobs that provide the way of life in America’s iconic farms, fisheries and forests also tend to be the most dangerous in the country. As a result, occupational safety — or the lack of it — is a major and largely unexamined contributor to a cycle of disability, poverty and chronic poor health that makes life difficult for millions of rural Americans.
Six human cases of rat lungworm brain infestations of humans have been reported on the Hawaiian island of Maui in three months, compared with two cases over the previous decade, and health officials are concerned. The parasite, which is endemic in parts of the contiguous US and spreading, likely came from Asia via ships, and globalization still plays a role in its spread. It's transmitted to humans via intermediate snail or slug hosts.
Agriculture’s heavy demand on the world’s freshwater resources is well understood from the output end — of all water consumption for all uses, the United Nations estimates, 70 percent goes to produce food. But the problem has been more difficult at the sourcing end, which requires distinguishing between perpetually replenished surface water from lakes and streams on the one hand, and essentially nonrenewable underground reserves on the other.Quantifying the impact of withdrawals from aquifers has become a little easier since the introduction about 15 years ago of the satellite program known as GRACE, for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, developed in a collaboration of the U.S. and German space programs. But where is the water going?To answer that question, the team made what appears to be the first effort to overlay depletion data with country-by-country statistics on agricultural output, to see how much of the loss could be attributed to food production.They called the resulting measurement GWD — groundwater depletion for irrigation — and the numbers were rather grim in terms of the acceleration rate. Of course, agricultural depletion is not uniform across the globe. About two-thirds of the GWD calculated for 2010 was in just four countries: India (7.35 km3), Iran (3.33 km3), Pakistan (2.75 km3) and China (2.40 km3). Almost 85 percent occurred in 10 nations — the top four plus the United States (1.62 km3), Mexico (1.11 km3), Libya (.25 km3), Turkey (.20 km3), and Italy (.20 km3).During the decade that ended in 2010, the acceleration of GWD was most rapid in India (23 percent), China (102 percent) and the United States (31 percent).