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Agriculture News

Farm Incubator Program in the Upper Peninsula

Michigan State University Extension | Posted on December 7, 2016

The Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) is home to an exciting program designed for those interested in starting a small farm business. The North Farm, located on the state’s oldest operating research station, was reopened in 2014 as an education and research facility focused on northern climate organic vegetable and fruit production. The flagship program for this facility is the Apprentice Farmer Program (AFP), which serves as a business incubator for farming entrepreneurs. The residential Apprentice Farmer Program is designed to serve as a launching point for individuals interested in starting their own farm business. The program provides access to resources valuable to beginning farmers, including land, equipment, infrastructure, and technical assistance. Farmers work to establish their farm in a low-risk environment, focusing on fine-tuning production strategies and marketing channels instead of concentrating on more traditional concerns such as land and equipment acquisition. Fruit and vegetable producers have access to up to one acre for up to five years, as well as access to a large collection of tools and equipment to manage production on their plots. The farm also provides greenhouse and field tunnel production space, packing shed facilities, cold storage for produce, water access, and a talented staff dedicated to helping participants succeed. Livestock producers are encouraged to keep an eye out for important information regarding new developments in the program designed to accommodate livestock operations. Affordable housing is available to program participants who opt to live on-farm.

N.H. Dairy Farmers Task Force Moooves Forward on Plans to Offer Drought Relief

New Hampshire Public Radio | Posted on December 7, 2016

Hampshire’s struggling dairy farmers may soon get some help from a relief program in the works at the Statehouse.  Backed by the majority leaders in both the New Hampshire House and Senate, the Joint Dairy Farmers Task Force moved Monday to aid farmers affected by this year’s drought.The program is aimed at dairy farmers who have suffered financial losses from “unreasonably low” milk prices, and meager feed crops.Nineteen of New Hampshire’s 120 dairy farms stopped producing milk this year.This isn’t the first time the state has helped out the dairy industry. In 2007, when milk prices were similarly bad, the state provided emergency assistance. Rep. Tara Sad stressed the importance of doing something about the “dairy issue.”

Michigan DOA awarding grants to projects targeted for rural areas | Posted on December 7, 2016

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is aiming to improve the infrastructure and boost industry in some of the state’s more isolated communities.  The DOA is offering grants for projects that would promote sustainability and expand industries that use a lot of land, such as farming, mining, oil production, tourism, and rural industry projects.  The department has $1.5 million available, and projects will be awarded portions of that through a competitive process, where the applicants will have to explain how their proposal will improve rural areas.

Scientists identify pandemic threat viruses

BBC | Posted on December 7, 2016

The scientists found 37 different viruses they believe have the potential to spread across the globe. All of them have shown the ability to spread between people, but have not so far caused a major epidemic. The Mers coronavirus, relatives of the Ebola virus, and several mosquito-borne viruses are singled out by the study. Researchers said these viruses had all caused disease outbreaks in the past and were the cause of "greatest concern". The method the team used to identify the most dangerous viruses has already predicted the threat of both the Ebola and Zika viruses before they emerged to cause major epidemics.

3.4 million poultry culled nationwide as bird flu spreads

Korea Herald | Posted on December 7, 2016

Twenty days after a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus was first detected in South Korea, the epidemic shows no sign of abating. Nearly 3.4 million poultry had been culled as of Monday morning.  According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, some 2.5 million chickens, 790,000 ducks and 71,000 quails have been slaughtered nationwide as part of the quarantine, after nearly 70 farms were confirmed or suspected of having avian influenza, or bird flu, outbreaks. Most of the ducks were culled at farms in Eumseong and Jincheon in North Chungcheong Province, two of the hardest hit areas. Those two places account for more than half the farm ducks in North Chungcheong Province. So far, 69 farms in seven cities and provinces have confirmed H5N6 cases since Nov. 16, when the H5N6 strain of bird flu was first reported at a chicken farm in Haenam, South Jeolla Province.

AVMA provides resources to battle cyberbullying

AVMA | Posted on December 7, 2016

AVMA has now partnered with Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. to provide a 24/7 hotline to assist our member veterinarians and clinics who face attacks and cyberbullying. Members calling the hotline will receive up to 30 minutes of actionable consultation with an experienced crisis management team at no charge to you. If you need additional help, you can pay for additional consultation at a significantly discounted rate, as an AVMA member.  Your online reputation is part of your overall reputation, and preventive care is just as important for your practice’s online health as it is for your patients’ health. Monitoring and early response can help prevent the crises that arise from overlooked problems that escalate.

Genetically Modified Pigs Could Ease Organ Shortage

Wall Street Journal | Posted on December 6, 2016

There are more than 120,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant and not enough donors. The dire shortage has led some researchers to consider an unusual solution: They are breeding genetically modified pigs whose organs could be compatible for human transplant.  Researchers have been trying for decades to make animal-to-human transplants work, a process known as xenotransplantation. Pigs are a particularly promising source of organs. They produce big litters. Organs such as the kidney and liver are similar in size to those of humans. “Nobody has come up with a better animal,” says Joseph Tector, a professor of surgery who runs the xenotransplantation program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

GMOs Have Had A Good 2016, But Teachable Moments Lie Ahead

Forbes | Posted on December 6, 2016

Despite the political rancor of the election season just past, 2016 has turned out to be one of the most peaceful and positive years ever when it comes to the discussion and science around GMOs. Consider this: The debate over labeling foods produced through biotechnology has raged for some 15 years. But this year, with the implementation of a new, nationwide standard, we now turn the page to educating consumers about the implications. No longer will consumers and food producers face the nightmare of a patchwork of labeling laws at the state level. Unfortunately, it seems as if consumers are being constantly bombarded with changes to food labels. While intuitively we might think that more information means a better-educated consumer, IFIC Foundation research often finds that our best intentions can backfire, as we fall victim to “information overload.” This is also potentially the case with forthcoming Nutrition Facts labels that will add a line for added sugars.

New North America Production Challenges Fertilizer Outlook

DTN | Posted on December 5, 2016

New North American nitrogen production is beginning to hit the world market in 2016 during a time of oversupply, and it could take the global market a few years to balance out this new production.  New capacity, lower energy prices and currency devaluations have all combined to put significant pressure on nitrogen fertilizer prices, according to a fertilizer industry consultant. Hoadley said world nitrogen production for 2015/2016 is expected to be just over 165 million tons, which is up from closer to 143 million tons in 2009/2010. Roughly about 20% of the market accounts for industrial uses, he said. World nitrogen demand shows a consistent growth of about 2% a year. The world nitrogen capacity growth should slow after 2017 once the new North American production is on the world market, he said.

Christmas Trees Are Dying From Drought

Huffington Post | Posted on December 5, 2016

For 23 years, Curtis Abbott and his family have been growing and selling Christmas trees on their farm in the town of Charlton, Massachusetts. Photos from previous harvests show picture-perfect trees — towering evergreens with sturdy branches dusted with white snow. But this year, Abbott Tree Farm has shared no photographs.Instead, a couple of days before Thanksgiving, the farm posted an unexpected message on Facebook: “Sorry we are closed.” Drought, said Abbott, had forced the farm to shutter its doors this year — only the second time it’s done so in over two decades. “We feel it would be best to keep the farm closed,” he wrote on Nov. 22.Massachusetts has been plagued by drought for months. As of last week, more than 60 percent of the state was suffering severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The dry weather has wreaked havoc on the state’s wildlife, water and vegetation.