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Agriculture News

Dicamba Update

Texas Agriculture Law Blog | Posted on November 16, 2017

Dicamba will likely go down as the biggest agricultural issue in 2017.  This post will discuss some background information and then address several recent developments regarding the herbicide dicamba. Even before the new dicamba formulations were approved for use, drift complaints were prominent across the South.  In Tennessee, for example, there were approximately 40,000 acres destroyed by dicamba drift in 2016.  Given that there was no dicamba formulation available for over-the-top application approved by the EPA during the 2016 growing season, it is likely that farmers who purchased the dicamba-tolerant seeds applied older, potentially more volatile versions of dicamba and applied them off-label to their crops.These issues did not end when the new herbicides were available for use.  The University of Missouri reports that drift damage from dicamba has been reported in 21 states.  From January to September 2017, there were more than 963 alleged misuse complaints involving dicamba in Arkansas.  At one point mid-growing season, drift complaints were so severe that Arkansas banned the further use of dicamba during the growing season.  In June, Missouri initially imposed bans, but withdrew those in favor of imposing additional restrictions on application.  Tennessee also imposed additional restirctions in June.  The issue of drift damage is particularly concerning for sensitive crops such as soybeans, wine grapes, or vegetable produce.

More Jurisdictions To Provide Legal Defense For Immigrants At Risk Of Deportation

NPR | Posted on November 16, 2017

While the Trump administration continues the federal government's already-massive deportation program, 11 cities and counties will be joining the list of jurisdictions providing legal defense for undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation. The Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit that researches and advocates changes in the criminal justice system, launched the Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Network this past week. The cities and counties making up the network will be providing legal counsel for immigrants facing deportation proceedings.Vera says it selected the jurisdictions for committing to invest public money toward defending immigrants against deportation. The nonprofit says it will use a fund it administers to match the public money.

Hawaii judge dismisses lawsuit against seed company, board

Sun Herald | Posted on November 16, 2017

A judge in Hawaii dismissed a lawsuit that sought an environmental review of the actions by a seed company operating on the island of Kauai.Environmental groups filed a lawsuit after the state Board of Land and Natural Resources in February consolidated two parcels of land leased by Syngenta under a single revocable permit, The Garden Island reported .The lawsuit claimed that the board's action violated state law by exempting the company from environmental document preparation and by violating the duty to protect public trust resources.Judge Randal Valenciano issued the ruling on Thursday that said the state does not require an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment because the company isn't proposing any changes for how the leased land on western Kauai will be used. The judge did note that should companies like Syngenta propose changes, then the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act will apply.

Crops are rotting in UK fields following Brexit immigration changes

Quartz | Posted on November 16, 2017

A county in Britain is asking the government for special permission to circumvent broad immigration laws because of a drain on labor. Crops in Cornwall are literally “rotting in the fields” because since the Brexit vote there aren’t enough migrant workers to reap the harvests, according to media reports. Based on research prepared by the local council in Cornwall, farm staff levels have plummeted to just 65% of what would typically be needed to complete the necessary agricultural work.“Changes to migration laws after Brexit could lead to multi-million pound losses to the Cornish economy if the horticultural industry can’t access the skills and workforce it needs,” according to the research.

Just in time for Thanksgiving dinner: traceable turkeys

Abilene Reporter News | Posted on November 16, 2017

Turkey buyers in select Texas markets will be able to either text or enter on the Honeysuckle White website the code found on the tag on the packaged bird to find out where it was raised and get information about the farm's location, view farm photos and read the farmer's message. "What traceability does is just allow us to connect with the consumer," Glaser said. "And I think over time there has been a disconnect. People have kind of lost where their food comes from and this is a way to re-establish that line of communication."

Our Meatless Future: How The $90B Global Meat Market Gets Disrupted

CB Insights | Posted on November 16, 2017

Will a meatless food industry featuring lab-grown meat, seafood substitutes, and insect protein be the future of food? Food giants from Tyson to Cargill are working to navigate a future where protein isn't dominated by traditional animal sources. At the moment, meat is still king.By some estimates, 30% of the calories consumed globally by humans come from meat products, including beef, chicken, and pork.That translates to staggering numbers of animals grown for food: there are over 30 million head of beef cows in the US, and 21 million pigs in Iowa alone.Together, the 7 largest meat companies combine for over $71B in market capitalization, with the largest, Tyson, boasting a $26B valuation.Meanwhile, startups using technology to engineer meat in labs or manufacture it from plant-based products are rising in popularity. Meatless food products from beef-free burgers to pea-based shrimp threaten the future of the meat giants.In addition to offering new products, these startups have the potential to upend all parts of the meat production process.Going forward, the meat value chain could be simplified dramatically, as the “clean meat” lab or factory could take the place of farms, feed lots, and slaughterhouses.

How Many Robots Does It Take to Fill a Grocery Order?

Bloomberg | Posted on November 15, 2017

It once took online grocer Ocado two hours to put together a box of 50 food items. Now machines can do it in five minutes. The U.K.'s biggest online grocer hit a milestone this year: Ocado Group Plc put together an order of 50 items, including produce, meat and dairy, in five minutes. Fulfilling a similar order at one of the company’s older facilities takes an average of about two hours. The secret: a fleet of 1,000 robots that scurry about a warehouse snatching up products and delivering them to human packers. 

FDA Launches Visualization Tool for Antibiotic Resistance Genes

FDA | Posted on November 15, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched an interactive research tool called Resistome Tracker. Resistome Tracker is one of the first publicly available tools to provide visually informative displays of antibiotic resistance genes in bacteria. It is designed mainly for public health officials, academics and researchers who are using new genomics technologies to track and treat infectious diseases. Resistome Tracker’s interactive interface allows users to customize visualizations by antibiotic drug class, compare resistance genes across different sources, identify new resistance genes, and map selected resistance genes to geographic region. Currently, Resistome Tracker is focused on antibiotic resistance genes in SalmonellaSalmonella genome sequences from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) public databases are uploaded to Resistome Tracker on a weekly basis, allowing near real-time monitoring of antibiotic resistance. Presently, Resistome Tracker includes WGS data on 97,390 genomes from NCBI, 27,512 of which are U.S. isolates and 8,900 are isolates from the NARMS. Future iterations of the tool will include data on other microorganisms such as E. coli and Campylobacter as well as additional gene categories such as serotype, sequence type and virulence genes.

Indiana University To Turn GHG Emissions Into Plant Fertilizer

WBAA | Posted on November 15, 2017

Indiana University wants to improve its sustainability – and it’s turning to a novel way of recycling to do so. The school’s main campus will turn its greenhouse gas emissions into plant fertilizer with the help of a photobioreactor. The machine is made out of PVC pipe and will sit on top of the university’s central heating plant. There, it will capture plant emissions, which will be used to feed algae, which project co-leader Chip Glaholt says will be turned into plant fertilizer.“Our goal is just to reduce waste on campus, and see that as a great achievement in itself,” he says.The system will be built with the help of a $50,000 grant from Duke Energy. It will conserve 200 pounds of carbon and $4,000 worth of fertilizer – not a tremendous amount in the grand scheme of things, Glaholt says. But, he adds, the system is sustainable and can be doubled in size for only $2,000.

Murphy-Brown loses preliminary round in court

Farm Futures | Posted on November 15, 2017

This Order issued by the District Court is indicative of what can happen to hog producers when the Right To Farm defense is destroyed. On Nov. 8, 2017, North Carolina U.S. District Judge Britt issued an order involving 26 cases regarding Murphy-Brown LLC., a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, Inc. North Carolina’s law reads as follows: “No agricultural or forestry operation or any of its appurtenances shall be or become a nuisance, private or public, by any changed conditions in or about the locality outside of the operation after the operation has been in operation for more than one year, when such operation was not a nuisance at the time the operation began.” Judge Britt concluded the plaintiffs lived on affected properties prior to Murphy-Brown’s beginning swine farm operations. The Court made it clear “This is not a case in which the non-agriculture use extended into an agricultural area.” The Court did not look at whether the land had always been in agriculture but declared “Their land use [housing] had been in existence well before the operations of the subject farms [Murphy-Brown] began. At bottom, plaintiffs’ nuisance claims have nothing to do with changed conditions in the area, and therefore, as a matter of law, the right-to-farm law does not bar those claims. Accordingly, plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment on this defense.”