Since 1980, PETA has made a name for itself as the number-one authority on animal welfare. UK-based YouTube vlogger Calum McSwiggan, however, wants people to consider otherwise, and recently used a scathing Twitter rant to sound off on the organisation’s true colours. After recent investigations, PETA has come under fire for a lot more than just the scantily clad women they use for marketing. In a March 2017 press release, the Center for Consumer Freedom revealed that PETA euthanized more than 1400 cats and dogs at its Norfolk, Virginia shelter in 2016. PETA defends their actions as ethically and economically necessary, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that their attention-grabbing media presence may be more important to them than the lives of animals.
Canada’s federal and provincial governments are partnering to provide nearly $5 million to help five local food processors expand capacity and improve efficiency so they can grow their businesses. The agri-food processors in Calgary receiving federal-provincial support include two meat processors.
A longtime Arkansas soybean farmer, Mike Wallace thought of his neighbors as a community and always was willing to lend a hand if they faced any hardships with their crops. “Mike would do anything for any farmer,” his wife, Karen, said. “If there was a farmer who got sick in harvest time or planting time or whatever, he would say, ‘What can I do to help? Here’s my equipment. Here’s my guys. Let’s go do it.”’But across much of farm country, a dispute over a common weed killer is turning neighbor against neighbor. The furor surrounding the herbicide known as dicamba has quickly become the biggest controversy of its kind in U.S. agriculture, and it is even suspected as a factor in Wallace’s death in October, when he was allegedly shot by a worker from a nearby farm where the chemical had been sprayed.Concern about the herbicide drifting onto unprotected crops, especially soybeans, has spawned lawsuits and prompted Arkansas and Missouri to impose temporary bans on dicamba. Losses blamed on accidental chemical damage could climb into the tens of millions of dollars, if not higher, and may have a ripple effect on other products that rely on soybeans, including chicken.
We’ve been reading up on climate change and how it might affect agriculture and food processing. First, you should be happy to know that Iowa State University and its associated labs have taken the lead in research and reporting. Deserving special note are Drs. Gene Takle, Jerry Hatfield and Rick Cruse, who have contributed substantially to the national discussion; Takle shared in a Nobel Prize for his work on climate modeling. These are top-flight scientists, agronomists and climatologists who have issued sober analysis about climate impacts. We were going to say “potential” impacts.They are not potential. They are here.You recognize it when reading Takle’s summary of the 2014 White House Report on Climate Change and Agriculture, on which we reported at the time. But we missed this important part: Soil is carrying more moisture than before 1980. That is the first impact.The Des Moines lobe region where Storm Lake sits — that great flat expanse that grows the most corn in the world — has witnessed a big increase in drainage capacity over the past 30 years, Takle and Cruse note. They argue that the biggest driver is the more extreme rainfalls we have witnessed in recent years. Cruse documents the more severe rains at his daily erosion website.Farmers and landowners have to get rid of that water immediately because the ground is too expensive and the stakes are too high to leave it wet. Google it and the numbers are all there: Drainage tile pays for itself and then some.There are other factors, but increased rainfall onto the Des Moines lobe’s thick glacial remains is the main contributor to increased, and more efficient, drainage.That more efficient drainage system delivers nitrate to the Raccoon River in increasing amounts. Which caused the Des Moines Water Works to sue Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties. The case was dismissed by a federal judge because the districts only have authority to remove water. Under state law, they must remove water under petition from the landowners of the drainage district.
According to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded study, lack of access to affordable health insurance is one of the most significant concerns facing American farmers, an overlooked risk factor that affects their ability to run a successful enterprise. Three of four farmers and ranchers (73 percent) in the survey said that having affordable health insurance was an important or very important means of reducing their business risk. And just over half (52 percent) are not confident they could pay the costs of a major illness such as a heart attack, cancer or loss of limb without going into debt. Insights from the interviews supported the survey results. "During the course of interviews with farmers, many relayed stories about their family members or neighbors who had lost their farms or dairies due to catastrophic illness or injury when they were uninsured," Knudson said. Two out of three farmers and ranchers (64 percent) reported having a pre-existing health condition. With an average age of 58, farmers and ranchers are also vulnerable to higher insurance premiums due to age-rating bands. And among farmers and ranchers 18 to 64 years old, one out of four (24 percent) purchased a plan in their state's insurance marketplace.
President Donald Trump has nominated Stephen Censky, chief executive officer of the American Soybean Association, to be deputy secretary of Agriculture. The announcement came late Thursday. Censky has been CEO of the soybean association in St. Louis, Mo., since 1996.Ag lobbyists and others had anticipated Censky was a frontrunner for the deputy position, a role that largely oversees the day-to-day operations at USDA, a department with a budget of roughly $155 billion and staff of 97,800 employees. Still, agricultural groups have been calling on the Trump administration to begin announcing more nominees for positions at USDA.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture has recommended a dairy build a berm to keep manure from washing off the farm again. The Washington State Department of Agriculture has ended its investigation into the release of fecal coliform-laced water that flooded a Yakima County community last winter, recommending that a dairy block off a manure compost pile or move it to higher ground.
Urea and other forms of nitrogen fertilizer are hitting the lowest price levels seen in more than a decade. Urea is selling for roughly $170 per short ton along the Gulf of Mexico wholesale market, which is the cheapest it’s been for roughly 15 years, said Glen Buckley, chief economist with the Fertilizer Advisory Service.
Crops and pastures continue to suffer in North Dakota as drought persists. The weekly crop report from the federal Agriculture Department says some farmers have started haying small grains crops that aren’t worth harvesting.Forty percent of North Dakota’s staple spring wheat crop is rated poor or very poor. Many other crops are in the same situation.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorizing the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for emergency grazing and haying in and around portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota affected by severe drought. USDA is adding the ability for farmers and ranchers in these areas to hay and graze CRP wetland and buffer practices. “We are working to immediately address the dire straits facing drought-stricken farmers and ranchers,” said Perdue. “USDA is fully considering and authorizing any federal programs or related provisions we have available to meet the immediate needs of impacted producers.”For CRP practices previously announced, including those authorized today, Secretary Perdue is allowing this emergency action during and after the primary nesting season, where local drought conditions warrant in parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota that have reached D2, or “severe”, drought level or greater according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This includes counties with any part of their border located within 150 miles of authorized counties within the three states, and may extend into Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wyoming. All emergency grazing must end Sept. 30, 2017 and emergency haying must end Aug. 31, 2017.