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Agriculture News

Ohio, Pa. and N.Y. in early stages of drought

Farm and Dairy | Posted on August 4, 2016

According to the US Drought Monitor, released July 28, almost all of northeast and northcentral Ohio was in a “moderate drought,” the first of four levels of drought severity.

The moderate drought continues in northcentral Pennsylvania, and the majority of both states are classified as “abnormally dry,” a step before drought. The worst conditions are in the northernmost counties of Pennsylvani and into New York, where counties are suffering “severe drought,” or the second level of severity.

Amazing cattle herding ROBOT SHEEPDOG makes debut in Australian Outback | Posted on August 3, 2016

Sheepdogs could soon be a thing of the past now that a fascinating new robot that can command and control livestock has been unveiled.  The 'Swagbot' made its debut in Australia this week, with this incredible footage showing its ability to herd cows on a large farm.  The large animals can be seen bowing to its demands and running out of its way- like they would a cowboy on a horse. A trial which began last month has confirmed that SwagBot is also able to navigate its way around ditches, logs, swamps, and other features of a typical farm landscape.

Improper dicamba use leaves Mid-South a multitude of drift cases

Delta Farm Press | Posted on August 3, 2016

When Monsanto’s Xtend soybeans were approved for planting this season, many applauded the move. After all, the technology means crops can be sprayed with dicamba and weeds are only becoming tougher to control. There was a huge caveat, though: while the seed could be planted, new, less volatile formulations of dicamba were not approved.  In the run up to planting, Mid-South growers were repeatedly warned over-the-top applications of available dicamba products would not be allowed. Even so, state officials fretted improper spraying would happen following a 2015 growing season when “some individuals — a very small group — used a dicamba product not labeled for this seed,” said Susie Nichols at the Arkansas State Plant Board in April. “That’s a big worry for the Plant Board; there’s a lot of Xtend soybean seed in the state. We’ve tried to let everyone know it’s a violation to use any dicamba product on this technology because none is labeled for this use. “It’s a major concern because dicamba has a very adverse effect on soybeans. It has a propensity to drift and can kill an entire crop and a lot of this new technology. Sure enough, despite the warnings the temptation to spray was too much for some growers. Now, neighboring fields are paying the price. The Missouri Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Pesticide Control is conducting investigations of more than 100 complaints in four southeast Missouri counties

How GMOs Can Help Protect Our Habitats And Ecosystems

Forbes | Posted on August 3, 2016

In 2014, GM crops helped preserve the equivalent of 12% of the arable land in the United States1. That’s nearly two thirds of all of the land in America’s national parks, or 51 million acres. Moreover, since 1996, GM insect-resistant crops have led to a reduction of insecticide use, including a 549.1 million pound reduction on cotton crops and 175.7 million pound reduction on maize crops. Through these types of biotechnology advancements, insect-resistant Bt crops have allowed important beneficial insects to thrive in their habitats, allowing our natural pollinators to continue to play their critical role in biodiverse ecosystems.

Humans once opposed coffee and refrigeration. Here’s why we often hate new stuff.

The Washington Post | Posted on August 3, 2016

Humans have a habit of stalling their own progress. From coffee to mechanical refrigeration to genetically altered food, history is littered with innovations that sparked resistance before becoming fixtures in everyday life. In hindsight, opposition to innovations such as mechanical farm equipment or recorded music may seem ludicrous. But the past 600 years of human history help explain why humans often oppose new technologies and why that pattern of opposition continues to this day. Among Juma’s assertions is that people don’t fear innovation simply because the technology is new, but because innovation often means losing a piece of their identity or lifestyle. Innovation can also separate people from nature or their sense of purpose — two things that Juma argues are fundamental to the human experience.

Venezuela's new decree: Forced farm work for citizens

CNN | Posted on August 2, 2016

A new decree by Venezuela's government could make its citizens work on farms to tackle the country's severe food shortages. In a vaguely-worded decree, Venezuelan officials indicated that public and private sector employees could be forced to work in the country's fields for at least 60-day periods, which may be extended "if circumstances merit."

The Tax Break For Kansas Farmers That Few Know About

KCUR | Posted on August 2, 2016

Following the 2012 Brownback tax cuts, farmers no longer had to pay state income tax -- just like 334,000 LLCs, S corporations and sole proprietorships.  But farmers get a little something extra: They also pay no state income tax on subsidies they get from Washington. In all, about 40,000 farmers in Kansas receive about $1 billion a year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Even many farmers think not paying taxes on this money is a bad idea. The farm income exemption got tacked on in the waning hours of the 2012 session as Republican leaders scrambled to get enough votes to pass the tax cuts.

Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at it again | Posted on August 2, 2016

The “they” are six researchers at The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, based at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences.  The “it” is another attempt to alarm citizens with false and misleading information in an attempt to block another new chicken farm in Maryland.  The “it” is contained in a letter to one Jennifer Feindt, a Farm Loan Specialist with the USDA Farm Service Agency. But this time around they really have “egg” all over their collective faces. You see, the proposed farm will be a dairy farm converted to a chicken farm to raise broilers for Perdue Farms.  Most of the misleading misinformation in the letter is about the issue of antibiotic resistance and how modern farming practices are endangering health and causing expensive hospitalizations. They must not know that Perdue Farms has pledged to have over 95 percent of their chickens raised without antibiotics. OOPS! They must not know that this proposed chicken farm will be all organic, no antibiotics and no chemicals. Double OOPS!! They trot out the old 80 percent number of antibiotics sold are for use in animals, but worse yet they state that “A growing body of evidence provides support that pathogens can be found in and around broiler operations.”  I do not know what the growing body of evidence is, as anyone with any kind of a health background and most others know there are pathogens everywhere such as the Staph aureus living on your skin and in your nasal cavity; some of it is even MRSA.

National Farmers Market Week proclaimed

Michigan Farm News | Posted on August 1, 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on July 11 signed a proclamation declaring Aug. 7-13, 2016, as "National Farmers Market Week."

More unresolved GMO issues

Ag Policy | Posted on August 1, 2016

Most of the debate about GMOs has focused on transgenic crops in which a gene from one species is inserted into the DNA of another species. With herbicide-tolerant crops, a gene from a plant that is resistant to the desired herbicide is inserted into the genome of a crop like corn or cotton that normally is killed when sprayed with the given herbicide. Similarly, scientists have inserted a gene that induces the production of the toxin produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into a corn plant. The corn plant then produces the toxin and kills European corn borer caterpillars, reducing the need for spraying the plant with an insecticide that would be used to kill the caterpillars, saving the farmer a field pass and the cost of the insecticide. In recent years, as scientists have increased their knowledge of the function of various genes in a given species, they have developed the technology (CRISPR) needed to edit a gene to express a desired trait. In this case a “foreign” gene is not inserted into the organism’s genome, rather the organism’s own genome is slightly modified. At present transgenic organisms are subject to government regulation while gene-editing using CRISPR technologies is not, because the organism does not contain any “foreign” DNA. For a more thorough summary of the technologies and their risks, readers can download “Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects” by the National Academies Press ( In the current debate, some have argued that these technologies are little different from conventional breeding which uses a less precise means of selecting for preferred genetic traits in all domesticated crops.