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Agriculture News

Yet another documentary aims to skewer animal ag on the fork | Posted on July 14, 2016

Following in the footsteps of “Food, Inc.” and “Cowspiracy” before it, the latest film to use entertainment as a tactic to plant questions in consumers’ heads about their food supply is set to premiere this week. "At the Fork" positions itself as a “refreshingly unbiased look at how farm animals are raised for our consumption” —but I can’t see how that’s possible when the film was produced in partnership with HSUS, an organization with a vegan CEO and a 15-member “meatless transition team” working to take meat off the menu at restaurants and in schools and institutions. I’m also not sure how a film can be considered “unbiased” when it is accompanied by the “At the Fork challenge,” which claims to offer participants a way to “improve the lives of farm animals” by receiving 21 days’ worth of “higher-welfare” and plant-based recipes. You can bet the definition of “higher welfare” will include the GAP program used by Whole Foods — which is also a “partner” in the film. This isn’t sounding very unbiased to me.

Organic seed in short supply due to cost of production, intellectual property rights

Genetic Literacy Project | Posted on July 14, 2016

A newreport from theOrganic Seed Alliance found that the supply of organic seed isn’t keeping pace with the rising demand for organic products.

Agricen’s Film on Farming Wins Two Telly Awards

Agricen | Posted on July 14, 2016

Agricen, a Loveland Products Company, announced today that the Company’s groundbreaking farming film, "Prove it to me" has won two Telly Awards, one for videography and one in the green/eco-friendly category. “Prove It to Me” is a 26-minute documentary that follows five growers from Iowa and Arkansas during the 2015 growing season. It was produced for Agricen by Back Home Productions, a digital agency based in North Carolina. “We wanted a film that accurately captured growers’ experiences, and we wanted to share those stories to give people a better idea of what growers may face over the course of the season, including unpredictable weather and changing crop prices,” said Michael Totora, president and CEO of Agricen. “This is a really unique film, and I’m very happy that it’s getting this recognition.”

Turkey processor’s town embracing immigrant workers

Watt Ag Net | Posted on July 14, 2016

Immigrant workers from Myanmar make up a large percentage of the workforce at Dakota Provisions' turkey plant in Huron, South Dakota, and the community has made those immigrants feel welcomed. Huron, South Dakota, home of Dakota Provisions, has helped immigrants from Myanmar, and vice versa. Heuston, who began recruiting the refugees from Myanmar in 2007, said those workers are reliable and have helped Dakota Provisions have a low employee turnover rate. Dakota Provisions’ annual turnover rate is around 15-20 percent, which Heuston said is “four of five times less than the national average for the meat-packing plants.”

H5 avian influenza confirmed in Ontario

Watt Ag Net | Posted on July 14, 2016

Low pathogenic avian influenza has been detected on a duck farm near St. Catharines

Goats are as loving and clever as dogs, say smitten scientists

The Telegraph | Posted on July 14, 2016

Their latest experiment, documented in Biological Letters, showed that goats will gaze imploringly at their owners when they are struggling to complete a task, a trait common in dogs but not wolves, for example, who have never learned how to co-exist with humans. The team has also demonstrated that goats can work out how to break into a sealed box using levers, a task used to gauge intelligence in apes. They can even remember the skill four years later without prompting. “Our results provide strong evidence for complex communication directed at humans in a species that was domesticated primarily for agricultural production, and show similarities with animals bred to become pets or working animals, such as dogs and horses.” 

North Dakota farm group wants price protections for milk

Star Tribune | Posted on July 14, 2016

The North Dakota Farmers Union will fight for better price protections for milk to stimulate the state's slumping dairy industry, the group's president said. Watne said the price paid by consumers is not representative of the price paid to producers. The national average price received by farmers for milk fell to $14.5 per hundred pounds in May compared with $16.8 a year ago and $24.2 per hundred pounds two years ago in May

Cargill sells its feedlots in Texas

Star Tribune | Posted on July 14, 2016

Cargill is selling its two Texas cattle feedlots as it continues to redefine its protein businesses.  It is Cargill’s latest in a series of divestments in businesses with low margins, specifically those in meat. A year ago, Cargill sold its entire pork business to JBS USA Pork for $1.45 billion, a deal that combined two of the country’s largest pork processors.

“Selling our feed yards in the Texas panhandle allows us to redeploy many tens of millions of dollars annually into investments that will help us grow our protein business — money that otherwise would have been tied up as working capital used to purchase and feed cattle,” John Keating, president of Cargill’s Wichita, Kan.-based beef business, said in a statement.  Cargill, the largest privately held company in the U.S., has spent about $500 million in the last year on protein-related acquisitions or facility upgrades with an eye fixed on higher growth markets.

Animal, farm groups say NC law halts probes

The Charlotte Observer | Posted on July 14, 2016

An animal welfare group says it found abuses at a Kinston poultry plant in the months preceding a new law that now deters the exposure of farm and other workplace conditions.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals contends the abuses occurred at the Sanderson Farms poultry plant. The organization says it planted an employee there during the three months last year leading up to the law going into effect on Jan. 1.  The company says it investigated after learning of the allegations from PETA in February, but found no evidence that any abuses had occurred.



Farmland Value Report will Show Significant Retreat

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on July 14, 2016

The survey says farmland values are down about 9% from where they were last year. That number may change a bit as we wrap things up, but in order to get that thing to not be negative would be a real surprise, so I think the direction is pretty clear that we’re adjusting to the lower income environment, the lower price environment, the lowered expectations about what prices are going to be in the future.