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Agriculture News

Purdue professor talks GMOs

Agri-news | Posted on May 6, 2016

The image of a mad scientist injecting corn with a syringe full of DNA does not accurately portray the use of genetically modified organisms. Most transgenic work takes place in a laboratory with intensive attention to detail, says a professor at Purdue University. Peter Goldsbrough, professor of botany and plant pathology, talked about GMOs during an Extension event in Martinsville. “There’s a lot of misinformation and lack of knowledge about GMOs,” he said. “My goal is to try and help explain and answer questions and see where we’re going next. “Genetically modified organisms are a branch of biotechnology. We’ve been using biotechnology for a long time. Things like making bread, brewing beer and making wine are using biotechnologies like yeast to improve the product.”

Biotechnology extends beyond the food arena. In sewage treatment facilities, microorganisms are used to break down materials. In the medical field, biotechnology is used to make new drugs that treat diseases, or vaccines that prevent disease. In 1983, the first genetically modified plant using modern gene transfer methods was made. “Understanding DNA was just in the beginning stages,” Goldsbrough said. “We could take genes, modify them and move them to a plant. The idea is that you can take DNA from any organism, from a microbe or animal or another plant, and take useful genes and move them to another plant. “I think in the future we’ll be making our own genes — designer genes — to do useful things. We will be able to design new genes with functions we don’t know how to do at the moment.”


Recent Developments with Right-to-Farm Laws

Ag Law Education Initiative | Posted on May 6, 2016

Webinar on April 4, 2016 covering recent developments with right-to-farm laws. Webinar features Tiffany Lashmet with Texas A&M and Ashley Ellixson and Paul Goeringer with University of Maryland.


Prestage Farm plant turned down by Mason City, IA

Globe Gazette | Posted on May 6, 2016

In a stunning turn of events, the City Council early Wednesday rejected Prestage Foods of Iowa’s proposal to build a $240 million pork processing plant in Mason City. Its plan was to hire more than 1,700 workers over the next four years but it met with protests from citizens concerned about environmental and quality-of life issues.The vote was a 3-3 tie with council members Travis Hickey, Janet Solberg and Brett Schoneman voting in favor of a development agreement with the company and Alex Kuhn, Bill Schickel and John Lee voting against. A tie vote on a motion represents a loss. Prestage, headquartered in Clinton, North Carolina, issued a statement Wednesday morning saying, “While we are disappointed, we believe in a bright future for agriculture and wish the people of Mason City all the best.”


Livestock, Dairy and Egg Sectors in Trouble

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on May 5, 2016

A new report by AgriBank projects livestock, dairy, and egg sector margins to continue adjusting downward from record levels set in 2014. The report on 15 Midwest states called the egg industry “the largest percentage loser” due to bird flu and record high prices. However, the report says the turkey industry is rebounding as flocks are rebuilt, and prices remain high. AThe report did say weather remains a wildcard as the transition to La Niña from the historically strong El Niño could bring major drought conditions across the Corn Belt region late in the coming growing season.


Turkey flock destroyed after avian flu reported in Jasper County, Missouri

Joplin Globe | Posted on May 4, 2016

A commercial flock of about 39,000 turkeys in Jasper County was destroyed after some of the birds tested positive for avian flu, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

The H5N1 virus that was found is low pathogenic, or less able to produce disease, unlike the strains of avian flu that sickened turkey flocks in Missouri and other states last year, Sarah Alsager, with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, wrote in an email to the Globe. About 48 million turkeys and chickens died in that outbreak, the worst in U.S. history. It affected 15 states, including Missouri.


Legume Bloat Problems Killing Cattle in SW Missouri

Missouri Extension | Posted on May 2, 2016

There has been an unusually high number of bloat problems among cattle in southwest Missouri.

"Some of those cattle deaths were posted by veterinarians, and frothy bloat was found to be the cause," said Cole.

Clover is very evident in most pastures this year. This follows a tremendous amount of common white or ladino clover in 2015.

"Some farmers report the clover is so dense it is crowding out their fescue, ryegrass, and orchardgrass," said Cole.

Legumes such as ladino are great to blend in cool season grass pastures especially those based on toxic Kentucky 31 fescue. Clover helps dilute the toxin intake and provides valuable nitrogen for the grass when it is about 25 to 30 percent of the stand.

Some farmers and extension specialists estimate this year the percent of ladino and white clover approaches 50 percent, even up to 75 percent or more.


Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Population Shows Improvement

Maryland Dept. of Agriculture | Posted on May 2, 2016

The 2016 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey, which show another year of growth in the stock of the Chesapeake Bay crab population and bodes well for a better harvest this year. The survey indicates a bay-wide crab population of 553 million, a 35-percent increase over last year. This is the fourth highest level in two decades, and builds on last year’s 38-percent boost in abundance.

“Due to a milder winter, favorable currents and tides, and wise bay-wide management measures, the Maryland crab population continues to rebound and strengthen,” Fisheries Service Director Dave Blazer said. “With an increase in abundance and steady recruitment, we fully anticipate a robust crab season this year.”

Improvements were seen in all age groups of male and female crabs. The spawning female stock nearly doubled from 101 to 194 million and the adult male stock more than doubled from 44 to 91 million – the second highest levels since 1995.


Storm clouds gathering over Kansas farms as income dips

The Wichita Eagle | Posted on May 2, 2016

Low crop and cattle prices have cut farm incomes and are starting to push down the value of ag land. That affects farmers' ability to repay loans and take out new ones, which could force foreclosures and forced sales.

It will almost certainly lead to more farm foreclosures and ownership consolidation across Kansas and the country. How much is impossible to know, because it is just starting to unfold.

 
 


Agricultural Commodities Egged On by China’s Futures Frenzy

Wall Street Journal | Posted on May 2, 2016

The recent fevered commodities trading in China hasn’t been limited to iron ore. Investors have piled into futures for everything from wheat and cotton to eggs and asphalt.

As with industrial metals, analysts reckon much of the interest is coming from speculative investors who have been turned off to China’s stock markets by tighter rules over trading.

“Chinese speculators didn’t want to buy into the equity market with all the curbs, so they jumped into the commodity markets and it seems they’ve done so in massive style,” said Michael Coleman, managing director at RCMA Asset Management Pte.

Rampant speculation means Chinese futures markets often don’t reflect economic or industry fundamentals, while excess liquidity attributable to loose monetary policy is further driving the spike in interest in agricultural futures.


Cattle rustling increased with price of cattle

Oxford America | Posted on May 2, 2016

Cattle rustling has returned, but it has also changed; if the essential act has not, its context has. Today’s rustler has no hope of parlaying a few stolen cattle into a business. Rustling is no longer an aspirational crime, but a stopgap, a stay against desperation. A single head of cattle is not the seed of an empire; it’s a payday loan, a child support payment, or cash for pills. Rustling is not, in this sense, an archaic crime at all, but a crime very much of its time and place, adapted to today’s America, in which social classes are established and the frontier, whatever it was once, has collapsed.


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