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Agriculture News

PETA Attacks Indiana Poultry Operation

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on October 13, 2016

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has launched an attack on a Northern Indiana poultry operation. PETA videos claiming animal abuse on farms are well known for their slick, one-sided, and often misleading claims.  The video released about the Culver Duck farm in Middlebury has many of these elements.  The heavily-edited video  claims to be an eyewitness account of animal cruelty; however, it spends more time  preaching vegan philosophy than documenting animal abuse, “Go vegan today and enjoy all the  flavor and nutrition and none of the cruelty.”  The abuse that is shown in the video is actually not abuse but the industry standard for euthanizing poultry, says Paul Brennan, with the Indiana State Poultry Association, “Part of what they are showing is cervical dislocation which is the standard AVMA approach for euthanizing sick or dying birds. Though it may not look great on video, the practice is acctually the most humane practice and is the industry standard.”


Climate change has doubled western US forest fires, says study

EurekAlert | Posted on October 13, 2016

A new study says that human-induced climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the U.S. West over the last 30 years. According to the study, since 1984 heightened temperatures and resulting aridity have caused fires to spread across an additional 16,000 square miles than they otherwise would have--an area larger than the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. The authors warn that further warming will increase fire exponentially in coming decades. The study appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Fires in western forests began increasing abruptly in the 1980s, as measured by area burned, the number of large fires, and length of the fire season. The increases have continued, and recently scientists and public officials have in part blamed human-influenced climate change. The new study is perhaps the first to quantify that assertion. "A lot of people are throwing around the words climate change and fire--specifically, last year fire chiefs and the governor of California started calling this the 'new normal,' " said lead author John Abatzoglou, a professor of geography at the University of Idaho. "We wanted to put some numbers on it." Warmth drives fire by drying out the land. Warmer air can hold more moisture, and the air ends up sucking it out of plants, trees, dead vegetation on the ground, and soil. Average temperatures in forested parts of the U.S. West have gone up about 2.5 degrees F since 1970, and are expected to keep rising. The resulting drying effect is evident in the rise of more fires. Williams published a study last year showing how climate-driven removal of moisture from land worsened the recent California drought, which was accompanied by widespread fires.


Millennials are pet food’s future, boomers spending now

Pet Food Industry | Posted on October 13, 2016

The future of the powerhouse pet food market lies with millennials. Consider this comment by David Lummis, lead pet market analyst for Packaged Facts, in a column for Pet Product News: “Much as computers have always been there for them, millennials know only a world where treating pets like fully entitled family members is normal, if not expected … and expensive.” Indeed. Pets being part of the family is as familiar and ingrained for millennials – something they seldom think about, if ever – as are mobile phones, social media and the air they breathe. It’s second nature for them to feed their pets well and spend on pet food accordingly.


Balancing Farms, Tourist Sites Poses Local Challenge

Sierra Sun Times | Posted on October 13, 2016

The rise of the farm-to-fork movement has been accompanied by the growing popularity of agritourism, as more landowners open their ranches to people who want to experience the bucolic views of the countryside. But the proliferation of event centers, wedding venues and bed-and-breakfast inns on agricultural land has also increased tensions between those landowners and surrounding farms that see their normal activities impacted by nearby events. Farm animals are a popular attraction at agritourism destinations, which provide farmers a new venue to market their crops and bring in additional income.  Chris Scheuring, an environmental attorney for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said the problem has less to do with agritourism and more to do with nonagricultural uses in rural areas that are incompatible with agriculture and interfere with farmers' ability to farm. Agritourism operations are more appropriate, he said, when what they do is "ancillary to existing agricultural operations, rather than just somebody coming in and plopping down a big wedding center that really isn't agriculture and calling it that."


America’s Dairy Farmers Dump 43 Million Gallons of Excess Milk

Wall Street Journal | Posted on October 13, 2016

More than 43 million gallons’ worth of milk have ended up in fields, manure lagoons or animal feed, or have been lost on truck routes or discarded at plants, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That is enough milk to fill 66 Olympic swimming pools, and the most wasted in at least 16 years’ worth of data. Desperate producers are working to find new uses for the excess, like getting more milk into school lunches, and in revamped tacos and Egg McMuffins. But many can’t even afford to transport raw milk to market at current prices, which have plunged 36% on average since prices hit records in 2014.


PA:State cultivates farm labor at Dover high school

York Daily News | Posted on October 13, 2016

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding talks about the looming shortage of agriculture workers and his push to the next generation to consider jobs in agriculture.Brett Sholtis. Pennsylvania faces a shortage of workers in the agricultural sector, and it's looking to York County to fill some of those jobs.Top officials from the state departments of agriculture and education toured Dover High School Tuesday, where they encouraged students in the farm-oriented school district to seek agriculture-related educations.Agriculture is Pennsylvania's largest industry, said Scott Sheely, special assistant to workforce development for the Department of Agriculture. With a wave of Baby Boomers about to retire, Pennsylvania will need to fill 75,000 agriculture jobs in the next 10 years.Those jobs run the gamut from people who milk cows to researchers who develop new crop hybrids.For those who want to pursue advanced degrees, engineers, agronomists and scientists are needed, Sheely said. A much larger pool of "technically-trained" workers is also in strong demand. That includes those who would do things like repair equipment and work with animals.The greatest number of jobs are for what Sheely called "production workers." Those people might harvest fruit or work in a food processing plant.


Bayer chief promises no Monsanto GM crops in Europe

The Local | Posted on October 12, 2016

German chemicals firm Bayer said it would not introduce genetically modified crops in Europe after its gigantic takeover of US seed and pesticide producer Monsanto.


Farmers dealing with losses from hurricane

The Wilson Times | Posted on October 12, 2016

Wilson County farmer Gerald Tyner said right now his land is what can only be described as a big mess.
During Hurricane Matthew’s heavy rainfall and strong winds Saturday, Tyner’s farm shop experienced extensive flooding, damaging a lot of his equipment.  "There was a tractor in there,” Tyner said. “Generator, irrigation pumps — we’re still trying to see what, if anything, can be salvaged.”  His equipment was not the only thing devastated in the storm this weekend. He said much of his soybean and peanut crop is still under water.  “We don’t know how long it will be before we can get into the fields,” Tyner said. “The ground is still heavily saturated so crops like sweet potatoes and peanuts could rot in the ground before we get to them.”
He said he was fortunate to have already harvested his sweet potato crop before the flood waters arrived Saturday.  Many farmers are seeing destruction similar to Tyner’s all over eastern North Carolina. On Sunday, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services activated a toll-free hotline to connect farmers with resources that can assist with Hurricane Matthew recovery.


Believe it or not, the bees are doing just fine

The Washington Post | Posted on October 12, 2016

You've probably heard the bad news by now that bees were recently added to the endangered species list for the first time. But if you're part of the 60 percent of people who share stories without actually reading them, you might have missed an important detail: namely, that the newly endangered bees are a handful of relatively obscure species who live only in Hawaii. The bees you're more familiar with — the ones that buzz around your yard dipping into flowers, making honey, pollinating crops and generally keeping the world's food supply from collapsing? Those bees are doing just fine, according todata released by the USDA this year. In 2015, there were 2.66 million commercial honey-producing bee colonies in the United States. That's down slightly from the 2.74 million colonies in 2014, which represented a two-decade high. The number of commercial bee colonies is still significantly higher than it was in 2006, when colony collapse disorder — the mass die-offs that began afflicting U.S. honeybee colonies — was first documented.


Gene-engineered gut bacteria successfully treat sick mice — and could treat humans someday

STAT news | Posted on October 11, 2016

In the study, one group of hypertensive mice got bacteria carrying the protein, another group got just the bacteria, and a third group received no treatment at all. After four weeks of twice-a-day treatment, the researchers found that mice getting the tweaked probiotic had reduced blood pressure, reduced heart wall thickness, and better heart contraction than either the untreated group or the group that received only bacteria. Researchers presented their results, which haven’t yet been peer-reviewed, earlier this month at the American Heart Association Council on Hypertension meeting.Probiotics have some important advantages over medications traditionally used to treat pulmonary hypertension — a type of high blood pressure affecting the lungs and heart — said lead researcher Mohan Raizada, professor of physiology at the University of Florida.


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