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Agriculture News

New Pa. Horse Racing Commission is up and running | Posted on August 22, 2016

A stronger, unified governance body to oversee Pennsylvania's more than $1 billion equine racing industry began its work to strengthen horse and harness racing. The new State Horse Racing Commission now has two meetings under its belt.  Governor Tom Wolf paved the way for the new commission and other needed reforms to the industry earlier this year when he signed Act 7. The law represents the first significant industry reforms in three decades — a period over which time the nature and breadth of racing in Pennsylvania changed dramatically, bringing with it new challenges and new opportunities.  The new commission puts the oversight of Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing under one body, rather than the two separate commissions that existed previously for each breed.


12 poultry farm biosecurity principles you should know

Watt Ag Net | Posted on August 22, 2016

Every farmer should ask if their biosecurity plan is strong enough. The most important part of any biosecurity plan is having the right attitude, according to Dr. Gregory Martin, educator and extension specialist at Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension. Having all the correct precautions in place doesn't do any good if workers and managers don’t follow the rules. Martin said operations should focus on establishing three disease barriers on their farm: a physical barrier, keeping disease and its vectors from making contact with the animals; a chemical barrier, killing the disease whenever possible by way of sanitation; and a logical barrier, ensuring farmers establish the correct management processes to minimize disease risk.

Agriculture commissioner on Louisiana floods, expectations

Delta Farm Press | Posted on August 22, 2016

floodwaters continued to shift, causing fresh misery for Louisianans and state officials trying to get a handle on a lengthening list of concerns.  “Flooding has no discretion as it affects everyone in all aspects,” says Mike Strain, Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner. “I’m very proud of the team – the LDAF, the governor’s office, Homeland Security, everyone working together. We’re trying to stay abreast and keep up with the moving problems. As everyone knows by now, this is a record flood event.  By now, says Strain, “more than 20,000 – perhaps more than 30,000 – homes have been affected. In Livingston Parish, 70 percent of all homes have been affected. Seventy to 80 percent of homes in Denham Springs have been, as well. This is very widespread with more than 8,000 people in shelters.”  One of the major issues Strain and colleagues face is leapfrogging assets due to the moving floodwaters. “Now, we’re worried about parishes around Iberville, Ascension Parish and into Lafayette Parish. That has required great cooperation between agencies and private individuals.”

Deere Cutting Output as Farm Slump Continues

Wall Street Journal | Posted on August 22, 2016

Deere & Co. plans to cut additional production of its trademark green tractors and harvesting combines this fall in response to the continued downturn in the global farm economy.The world’s largest maker of farm equipment by sales said the cuts will affect plants in Illinois and Iowa, blaming weak demand in North America and markets in Europe and South America for the moves.Falling crop prices have hit farmer incomes and made them more reluctant to buy new machinery, while Deere and its rivals face a glut of used equipment from a near decadelong sales boom that ended three years ago.

Finney: I fouled up nitrates column

Des Moines Register | Posted on August 19, 2016

Let’s revisit a column I wrote earlier this month about Douglas and Kathleen Redhead. They’re the Des Moines couple who stopped paddling their canoe on the the Racoon River because of hteir concern about nitrates.  I see those stacked paragraphs as flawed. The Redheads’ fear about nitrates was legitimate insofar as it is how they actually feel about the river. Where I let you down, dear readers, is not articulating the scientific perspective that could have assuaged the Redheads' worries and eased the general public’s fears.“There are a lot of people upset about the article you wrote concerning the couple who stopped canoeing because of nitrates,” Tyler wrote. People in both his office and in the Iowa ag science community were “extremely frustrated about this article promulgating hysterical and mythical claims about health issues and nitrates.”  Tyler is also the kind of guy who would properly use the word “promulgating” in a sentence.  Schneiders said there is great confusion in the public about nitrates, but the bottom line is that high nitrate levels are a problem in drinking water for infants 6 months and younger and pregnant women.  There are no EPA warnings about adults drinking water with high levels of nitrates. None. Zero. And skin and incidental contact is of no concern either.  Richmond said the ongoing debate is whether nutrient strategy — which would include nitrates — should be voluntary or a matter of government regulation.

HSUS is going after chicken

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on August 18, 2016

It seems that HSUS has sent a letter to many CEOs of broiler companies with language noting their victories with layers and swine as well as their intent to now focus on the broiler industry. While I am not surprised at the attitude, I am somewhat flummoxed by their sending such an obvious threat.  I agree that they have won some major victories.  In the case of cage-free at the expense of the animals but nevertheless, the change is now a fact.  The swine issue with gestation stalls is also now a fact.  So what do they have in mind for broilers?  I took a look at their white paper on the topic.

Rural Mainstreet Economy Weakens in July: High Share of Crop Farmers with 2016 Negative Cash Flow

Creighton University Economic Outlook | Posted on August 18, 2016

Survey Results at a Glance: • For an 11th straight month, the Rural Mainstreet Index fell below growth neutral. • Farmland prices remained below growth neutral for the 32nd straight month. • Bank CEOs reported a 6 percent decline in farmland prices over the past year. Bankers expect cash expenses will exceed cash revenues for one in five crop farmers in the region. • Bank CEOs expect farm loan defaults to grow by 5.4 percent over the next year.

FDA policy changes may turn veterinarians into beekeepers

Bangor Daily News | Posted on August 18, 2016

They may be neither fish nor fowl, but as far as the United States government is concerned, honeybees are livestock.  Which means as of the first of the year, beekeepers — including the roughly 1,200 in Maine — will no longer have access to certain over-the-counter antibiotics used to treat the condition known as European foulbrood, and are going to need prescriptions for the drug from a licensed veterinarian. European Foulbrood is a bacterial disease that affects honeybee larvae before the capped stage and is characterized by dead and dying larvae in the hive.  “Thanks to a pending [Federal Drug Administration] policy and rule change, veterinarians will need to be involved,” according to Dr. Don Hoenig, former state veterinarian and beekeeper. “This is a major policy shift.”

Now Your Pets Might Infect You With Superbugs

NBC news | Posted on August 18, 2016

Pets might be a source of drug-resistant superbugs, Chinese researchers reported. They found a pet shop worker infected with a much-feared antibiotic resistant strain of E. coli may have been infected by dogs at his store that carried the same strain.  The 50-year-old man with a kidney inflammation had an infection with E. coli bacteria carrying the dreaded mcr-s gene — a little cassette of DNA that provides resistance to an important group of antibiotics, which other bacteria can pass around like a tray of snacks.  Tests on 39 dogs and 14 cats in the pet shop where the man worked turned up mcr-1 in four dogs and two cats, they reported in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Plus the bacteria infecting the animals were resistant to a range of other drugs, too.  Tests on 39 dogs and 14 cats in the pet shop where the man worked turned up mcr-1 in four dogs and two cats. Plus the bacteria infecting the animals were resistant to a range of other drugs, too.

New Study Shows Neonicotinoids Pose Little Practical Risk To Bees

Growing Produce | Posted on August 18, 2016

While neonicotinoid pesticides can harm honeybees, a new study by Washington State University (WSU) researchers shows that the substances pose little risk to bees in real-world settings. The team of WSU entomologists studied apiaries in urban, rural and agricultural areas in Washington, looking at potential honeybee colony exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides from pollen foraging. The results were published in the Jpurnal of Economic Entomology. After calculating the risk based on a “dietary no observable adverse effect concentration” – the highest experimental point before there is an adverse effect on a species – of five parts per billion, the study’s results suggest low potential for neonicotinoids to harm bee behavior or colony health. “Calculating risk, which is the likelihood that bad things will happen to a species based on a specific hazard or dose, is very different from calculating hazard, which is the potential to cause harm under a specific set of circumstances,” said co-author Allan Felsot, WSU Tri-Cities Professor of Entomology and Environmental Toxicology. “Most of what has dominated the literature recently regarding neonicotinoids and honeybees has been hazard identification,” he said. “But hazardous exposures are not likely to occur in a real-life setting.”