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Agriculture News

Do It Yourself High-Speed Internet

DTN | Posted on April 29, 2016

By coincidence, I recently ran into an Indiana farmer/entrepreneur who is working on ways to cross to the internet divide. Steve Gerrish calls his company airBridge, and its business model is to help farmers establish robust local high-speed internet networks. The idea isn't new; farmers for years have used systems to extend their WiFi systems beyond the office and onto the farm. But Gerrish brings an enthusiasm and a vision to the issue that is kind of inspiring.

Gerrish has done a version of that on his own farm in west-central Indiana. First, he brought a fiber optic line to the farm to gain internet speeds of up to 1 gigabyte. He then placed an omni-directional antenna on a 45-foot pole. He will place BATS units on farm vehicles so they can capture signals from the antenna and establish a network among themselves, the office and other vehicles. The system is line-of-sight, so signals are lost over the horizon or behind obstructions. But with an eventual 200-foot-tall tower, Gerrish said, it will work within an 18-mile radius.

To demonstrate the value of an on-farm network, Gerrish created the AgBOT Challenge, an event to take place on his farm May 6 and 7. http://www.agbot.ag

Teams of contestants from universities and private industry will compete using autonomous vehicles to plant and fertilize half-mile long test strips. Each vehicle will rely on a BATS mobile tracking antenna to provide internet access for real time video and data transfer.


Litigation filed by farmers against Pilgrim’s dismissed

Wattagnet | Posted on April 28, 2016

A federal judge in Texas has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Pilgrim's nearly ten years ago by poultry growers who accused the company of violating federal law by manipulating poultry prices with intentions of shutting down some of the growers’ operations.


AB-free has its limits, say avian pathologists

meatingplace.com | Posted on April 28, 2016

Antibiotic use in poultry should be minimized “through carefully planned and well-executed preventive practices,” but the birds’ health should not be sacrificed for a marketing message, said a position statement released by the American Association of Avian Pathologists.

Antibiotics should remain “a viable option when appropriate and necessary for the health and well-being of the animal, even when marketing and consumer preference dictate otherwise,” the organization summarized in a release.


California dairy argues manure not solid waste

Farm Futures | Posted on April 28, 2016

A Washington State U.S. District Court last year engaged in a faulty analysis of the Resource Conservation Recovery Act in determining cow manure is a regulated solid waste.

A new U.S. District Court case in California –Blackwood V Mary DeVries – is taking the correct approach that Congress and EPA have argued for.  The California dairy gets it right. “Congress did not intend for RCRA to regulate agricultural material such as manure produced by [a] dairy…”

The DeVries dairy makes arguments which should have been made in the Cow Palace case in Washington State. It tells the Court in a recent filing that manure is not a solid waste under RCRA. The brief makes clear “Congress has confirmed its intent that manure from a dairy which is reused [is] exempt from classification as a solid waste,…[moreover] EPA has respected this intent by not regulating manure from dairies under RCRA.“  


Farmers’ Market Friendly Laws Can Be Trumped By Health Boards

Growing Produce | Posted on April 28, 2016

It’s critical for vendors to know for themselves, or at the very least to know that the market manager knows, the state and local health department, as well as weights and measures, which will get the fresh folks, too, though I’m not sure about the “label font” regulations mentioned in the article, and business licensing regulations for each market where they plan to sell. It may differ from one community to the next, depending how much they want a farmers market. Some may require individual mercantile licenses while others offer an umbrella license for the market. Health inspection certs will likely be for individual vendors, unless there’s a blanket exemption, and the list goes on.


Livestock's Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction

American Feed Industry Association | Posted on April 28, 2016

'Efficiencies in U.S. livestock agriculture have lowered this industry's combined greenhouse gas emissions to a historic low of about four percent of the nation's total,' said Mitloehner. 'Furthering recent advances will be paramount to satisfy a growing global demand for animal protein without depleting natural resources.' 'With Frank's expertise and years of research, I am glad he is able to provide sound, science-based information to consumers,' said AFIA President and CEO Joel G. Newman. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the livestock industry accounts for 4.2 percent of the U.S. GHG emissions. Energy production and transportation are the largest contributors, together equaling more than half of the total U.S. GHG emissions.
In perspective, if Americans practiced 'Meatless Mondays' there would only be a 0.6 percent decrease in U.S. GHG emissions. However, replacing incandescent lightbulbs with Energy Star bulbs would be twice as effective--1.2 percent.


Cattle initiative to beef up New York Southern Tier agriculture

Cornell | Posted on April 25, 2016

Recently awarded a $627,000 programming and research grant from Gov. Andrew Cuomo as part of the $5 million Southern Tier Agriculture Industry Enhancement program, Cornell University plans to bring an emerging livestock market, known as “stocker” beef cattle, to the Southern Tier.

Along with being a good fit for the region’s agricultural landscape, raising stocker cattle is a developing enterprise in New York state. Its low start-up costs are tailor-made for beginning farmers and those who want to diversify their farm holdings. Through the initiative, Cornell will hold regional stocker cattle summits and create a training program geared for success in the industry. It will also provide personnel to assist in grading and marketing, and conduct research to support farmers and agri-service personnel.


Oregon farmers fighting bank to sell radish seed

Capital Press | Posted on April 25, 2016

Several warehouses are caught in the middle of a legal dispute over radish seeds between Oregon farms and an out-of-state bank.  Both the farms and the bank claim to own the radish seeds, which are currently stored at five Oregon warehouses.

Whether those warehouses are acting as “agents” of the farms or the bank will be a key legal question in a lawsuit that’s scheduled to go to trial on June 7.

The lawsuit involves multiple Oregon farms who are fighting for the right to sell off radish seeds they initially grew in 2014 under contract for Cover Crop Solutions, a Pennsylvania company that was unable to pay for the crops due to weather-related demand disruptions. The Oregon farms filed liens to ensure they’d be treated as secured creditors with collateral in the company’s assets if it went bankrupt.

Meanwhile, Northwest Bank of Warren, Pa., also claimed the radish seeds served as collateral for a $7 million loan taken out by Cover Crop Solutions. The dispute prompted the bank to file a lawsuit against numerous Oregon farms in federal court, seeking a declaration that it had a priority security interest in the seed.

As the June 7 trial date approaches, it now appears the role of warehouses used to store the seed will be pivotal in the litigation.


Tightening in the Ag Belt

Pro AG | Posted on April 25, 2016

The record revenue growth of the last few years has given way to tightening in the U.S. agricultural industry, and analysts say these conditions could last a few years.

Many reasons persist for the tightening, such as production outpacing consumption, a strong dollar’s effect on exports, a decrease in commodity prices, and a drop in land values.  


Breakthrough method means CRISPR just got a lot more relevant to human health

The verge | Posted on April 25, 2016

The gene-editing tool CRISPR may one day change the way humans approach medicine — or at least that’s how it’s been portrayed so far. But for all the talk of using CRISPR to eliminate disease, the method was never very good at doing one important thing: altering single letters of DNA. (DNA is made of four chemical units, represented by the letters A, T, G, and C.) Now, scientists at Harvard University say they've modified the CRISPR method so it can be used to effectively reverse mutations involving changes in one letter of the genetic code. That’s important because two-thirds of genetic illness in humans involve mutations where there’s a change in a single letter.


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