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Agriculture News

CDC: One-third of antibiotic prescriptions unnecessary

Feedstuffs | Posted on May 10, 2016

At least 30% of antibiotics prescribed in the U.S. are unnecessary, according to new data published May 3 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with Pew Charitable Trusts and other public health and medical experts.

The study analyzed antibiotic use in doctors’ offices and emergency departments throughout the U.S.

CDC researchers found that most of these unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed for respiratory conditions caused by viruses — including the common cold, viral sore throat, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections — that do not respond to antibiotics. These 47 million excess prescriptions each year put patients at needless risk for allergic reactions or the potentially deadly diarrhea-causing bacteria Clostridium difficile.

The researchers also estimated the rate of inappropriate antibiotic use in adults and children by age and diagnosis. 

 


Hawaii plan would offset cost of organic farm certification

Seattle Times | Posted on May 10, 2016

A bill passed by the Hawaii Legislature sets up tax breaks for Hawaii farmers to offset the cost of becoming certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hawaii is the first state to pass such a law.

Under the Hawaii bill farmers could get up to $50,000 in tax credits for qualifying expenses, which include application fees, inspection costs and equipment or supplies needed to produce organic products. The state would be capped at giving out $2 million in tax breaks per year.


Mechanical Onion Harvesting a Game Changer

WTOC.com | Posted on May 10, 2016

Ride through rural South Georgia this time of year and you'll see teams of migrant workers picking sweet onions from the field.  Farmers have struggled for decades to use a federal program to get documented workers. At one Tattnall County farm, a labor crisis may have helped find a solution.

Gary Ray looked behind him as a machine replaced dozens of workers harvesting onions from his field. For years, his family has endured the red tape to get legal migrant workers through a federal program. He says this year, the workers didn't show.

They've let the onions dry in the field a day or two longer than usual to help them withstand bruising. If they can collect their crop with just a quarter of the labor - and find them local - they could say goodbye to the federal program and leave them in the dust.

 


Opponents call cage-free egg ballot question rotten

Boston Globe | Posted on May 10, 2016

A dispute over a ballot question that would mandate all eggs sold in Massachusetts be from hens that are cage-free is headed to the state’s highest court, a sign of the increasing intensity in a battle between agricultural interests and animal welfare advocates.  The Supreme Judicial Court on June 8 will hear arguments in a lawsuit backed by a group allied with the agriculture industry.  Protect the Harvest is disputing Attorney General Maura Healey’s approval of the referendum language, arguing it doesn’t follow the state Constitution’s requirements for initiative petitions.And the nonprofit group, which says it advocates for affordable food, is raising the specter of a full-fledged political battle against the ballot question, should the lawsuit fall short. The proposed ballot item and resulting law, backed by the Humane Society of the United States, would require that, starting in 2022, Massachusetts farms and businesses produce and sell only eggs from cage-free hens; pork from pigs not raised in or born of a sow raised in a small crate; and veal from calves not raised in very tight enclosures.

The plaintiffs in the opponents’ lawsuit are a mother on food stamps with five children in Medford who’s worried about skyrocketing food costs and a farmer from the rural town of Wendell who is concerned about government and “sentimentalists” interfering in the raising of livestock.


Farmer Battles Over Covers

DTN | Posted on May 9, 2016

Kevin Glanz doesn't believe his crop insurance policy should be put in jeopardy because he's following a cover-cropping practice approved by USDA's Risk Management Agency.

Yet Glanz has already been told his corn crop will face a quality control audit this growing season by Des Moines-based Rain and Hail LLC after Glanz informed his insurance agent that he plans to interseed a cover-crop mix into his standing corn crop this year.

Glanz, who farms just over 600 acres near Manchester, Iowa, got cross with his insurer after Glanz heard that farmers in Minnesota had begun interseeding cover crops into standing corn. The practice allows a cover crop to become established, but then largely go dormant as the corn gets taller and smothers out the sunlight during the summer. As the corn matures and dries in the early fall, the cover-crop stand begins to take off.

The objection by insurance companies is that cover crops inhibit growth of the primary crop.


Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta: rush for mega-mergers puts food security at risk

The Guardian | Posted on May 9, 2016

Recent deals in the global agrochemical and seed industry, driven by financial motivations, are a threat to farmers, prices and the environment.

The global agrochemical and seed industry is undergoing profound upheaval, with a spate of mergers and attempted mergers consolidating the sector and raising concerns about the future of the food system.

It began last year when Monsanto started looking for a partner, trying three times (unsuccessfully) to link up with Syngenta. By the end of 2015, Dow and DuPont they were teaming up. Subject to regulatory approval, the new $130bn company – DowDuPont – plans to split into three parts, one of which will focus exclusively on agricultural chemicals and seeds and is set to command a hefty market share. It is estimated DowDuPont could account for around 40% of the corn and soybean seed in the US.


Senate bill backing agriculture also bans plastic bags at farmers markets

Miford Daily News | Posted on May 9, 2016

    Massachusetts shoppers would be able to buy craft beers and spirits at farmers markets - but not take those bottles or any other purchases home in a plastic bag - under a bill approved Thursday by the Senate.

    An omnibus bill (S 2171) that passed the Senate on a 36-1 vote takes a variety of steps aimed at promoting agriculture in the state.

    It includes measures that would allow farmer brewers and distillers to sell their goods at agricultural events and farmers markets; let Department of Conservation and Recreation Land be used for community gardens or temporary public markets in certain circumstances; develop a program supporting veterans working in agriculture; and establish a regulatory framework for off-site raw milk distribution by licensed farmers. The programs in total would cost $1.2 million in the next fiscal year, according to the Senate Ways and Means Committee


U.S. Farmers Open Up Silos as Corn Hits `Magic' Price Levels

Bloomburg | Posted on May 9, 2016

The best rally for corn prices in 10 months meant U.S. farmers were frantic to sell from the mountain of grain they’d been hoarding.

Growers have been stockpiling supplies following a string of bumper harvests, waiting patiently for a rebound in prices. Their hopes have finally been answered after dry weather threatened crops in Brazil, sending futures traded in Chicago to their highest in nine months. With more than 50 percent of U.S. corn stockpiles stashed on farms as of March, the unexpected price gains had resulted in “quite brisk” sales and deliveries


Ag Startups Get Boost from Big Firms

New York Times | Posted on May 9, 2016

New technologies are opening up new opportunities and investment in early stage agricultural companies is springing to life.  One sign is a new "accelerator" to assist fledgling agricultural companies. Its backers include Bayer and Syngenta and some venture capital firms that typically focus on pharmceuticals, not farms.
 


Mechanism discovered for plants to regulate their flowering in a warming world

Science Daily | Posted on May 9, 2016

A new mechanism that enables plants to regulate their flowering in response to raised temperatures has been discovered by researchers. The finding could potentially lead to the development of technology allowing us to control the physiological response of plants and mitigate the impacts of warming temperatures.


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