Randy Hilleman says he first heard of the new veterinary feed directive (VFD) policy earlier this year. “I happened to be in the vet clinic not long after, and I asked about it,” he says. “I talked to our vet and figured we needed to get set up.” Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, producers will no longer be able to use medications without veterinarian approval. Medically important drugs such as tetracycline will no longer be used as a growth promotant, according to guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Livestock producers should be in contact with their veterinarians so they are ready for the changes ahead, says Tom Burkgren, a veterinarian and executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Hilleman says he and other producers will need to make changes to comply with the new directive, but for most, it should not be a major issue. The paperwork will likely be the biggest headache, Hilleman says. “If I treat a pig, I write it on the board and that stays with them until they’re gone, but now we’re going to need to put it on paper,” he says. “We’ll just need another notebook or two.”
The International Poultry Council (IPC) said the global poultry industry will work on a coordinated effort to address antibiotic resistance in animal agriculture and will work to release a comprehensive report in the next several months in the next several months. This issue was part of the discussions among delegates from 20 countries at the IPC’s recent conference in Estoril, Portugal. “The International Poultry Council shares the public’s concern about antibiotic resistance, which is an issue of global significance,” IPC President Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said in a news release. “IPC recognizes the need for collaborative efforts among governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and the poultry sector to minimize the development and transfer of antibiotic resistance,” Sumner said. Recent IPC action on antibiotic resistance has included last year’s issuance of a position statement on the responsible use of antibiotics in poultry production. Sumner said that the recent United Nations ministerial meeting on antimicrobial resistance has increased global visibility on the issue, particularly among international livestock organizations. The discussion in Portugal included member countries’ obligation to ensure that animals in their care are free from disease and as healthy as possible. Sumner said that the veterinary use of antibiotics and other interventions are effective and necessary tools to keep birds healthy. “It’s important that our industry maintain access to these forms of treatment, to ensure that they are used responsibly under veterinary supervision, and only when necessary,” he said. “Responsible use of antibiotics when treating not only poultry but all livestock is critical to minimize agriculture’s potential contribution to antibiotic resistance.”
For produce farms, carbon farming generally means growing fruits, vegetables, and legumes with minimal disturbance to the soil. One important approach is no-till farming, which implicitly means less disturbance. As much as five times more carbon can stick around in the soil under no-till than with conventional tillage, according to Bernacchi’s study of corn and soybean fields in Illinois. His calculations suggest that if all farms in the U.S. stopped tilling, they’d cut national carbon emissions by 1-2 percent. Carbon farming may be a buzzword, but the practices themselves are not new – they were simply left by the wayside during the rise of modern industrial farming in the latter part of the 20th century. Today, they’re being rediscovered by some for their climate-friendly ways, but for most, simply because they’re practical once they are up and running. “None of the core carbon-farming techniques we have were developed for sequestering carbon,” Toensmeier says. “They were developed because they’re good for the farm.” Improving soil also boosts its water-holding capacity – which will become increasingly vital as drought and severe storms continue to increase. It can also potentially mean better yields. Still, it’s risky for farmers to adopt techniques that may be new to them. For example, moving to no-till can be challenging for organic farmers who rely on tilling to kill weeds, and also for cover-crop operations that use tilling to work the plant residue back into the ground.
It's not every day that the government comes a-callin', so when the Washington, D.C., phone number popped up on his cellphone on September 28, Illinois farmer Matt Foes couldn't resist answering. He's glad he did -- the phone call was from the Department of Justice, and they wanted to know how John Deere's plans to purchase Monsanto's Precision Planting would affect Foes, who farms in Bureau County, Illinois. The proposed acquisition has come under fire recently from the Department of Justice (DOJ), which filed a lawsuit in August to block it. The lawsuit argues that the purchase would allow Deere to hold a monopoly on high speed planting technology. John Deere's ExactEmerge technology accounts for 44% of this market, and Precision Planting's SpeedTube technology accounts for 42%, for a combined market share of 86%.
EPA has sent the final rule for the 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard blend levels to White House for its approval. The White House Office of Management and Budget is expected to complete its review of the final rule within the next 90 days to set renewable volume obligations in the RFS. The OMB received the final rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday. The notice indicates EPA is on track to finalize volumes by its statutory Nov. 30 deadline. For years the agency has struggled to meet RFS deadlines.
A second suit was filed in January, 2016 by HSUS, Association of Irritated Residents, Environmental Integrity Project, Friends of the Earth, and Sierra Club against EPA. Plaintiffs filed their original petition to regulate ammonia from CAFOs in 2009. On September 19, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the environmental groups’ second request to force EPA to regulate ammonia and other emissions of pollutants from CAFOs. The environmental groups are unlikely to stop their effort to regulate ammonia. The environmentalists say CAFOs are harmful to citizens living in the area, claiming that “Given the robustness of the data set, this demonstrates a statistically significant correlation between livestock [ammonia emissions] and infant death.”
The first report of zearalenone (ZEA) in this year’s U.S. corn crop has come in, along with an additional report of deoxynivalenol (DON). DON has been found in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Indiana. Fumonisin has been found in corn from Missouri, Texas, Illinois and Oklahoma.
Syngenta is challenging a federal judge's ruling that creates a major class of farmers who could have been damaged as part of the ongoing lawsuit on Viptera corn. Syngenta filed an appeal last week with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver over a case in which corn farmers are seeking more than $5 billion in damages against the company. "The decision below certified nine classes collectively seeking over $5 billion in damages on novel and dubious theories that Chinese rules on genetically modified (GM) traits for corn seeds should have dictated defendants' practices in the U.S.," Syngenta stated in its request for appeal. Syngenta is dealing with multiple lawsuits claiming the company should have inspected and prevented harvested Viptera (MIR 162) corn from being shipped to China in 2013 and 2014. Plaintiffs in the case allege Syngenta sold Agrisure Viptera and Duracade, causing significant losses to corn farmers across the country. All farmers in the United States who priced corn for sale after Nov. 18, 2013, were approved as a major class in the ongoing lawsuit filed against Syngenta, according to an order issued by a judge in the U.S. District Court in Kansas last month.
In these times of low farm prices, it is encouraging to see farm associations and leaders stepping up to protect our farmers and ranchers. The CEOs of CropLife America, the National Corn Growers Association, and the American Soybean Association became a powerful agriculture industry leadership team, including the American Farm Bureau, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, and many more. The leaders met with policy representatives of both the Trump and Clinton campaigns. Farm leaders of different crops and different priorities spoke in unison. Stop the regulatory overreach. Trade is important to us. We need labor to pick the strawberries. Regardless of who gets elected as President our industry needs to be heard. The Ag CEO council of leaders has also been meeting with Secretary Vilsack and the Administration. They have argued that the Administration (especially EPA) has been too quick to regulate, that they have ignored sound science, forced new rules on states, they have re-written the definition of waters of the U.S., and more. Agriculture is very concerned that the Administration follows sound science as their time in office ticks down.
Arrtificial eggs have been grown in a petri dish for the first time, and used to create living animals in a breakthrough hailed as 'remarkable' by British experts. Scientists in Japan proved it is possible to take tissue cells from the tail of a mouse, reprogramme them as stem cells and then turn them into eggs in the lab. The ‘eggs in a dish’ were then fertilised and the resulting embryos were implanted in female mice which went on to give birth to 11 healthy pups.