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Agriculture News

Invisible Hands | Posted on July 20, 2017

“The trend towards Hispanic dairy workers was started in New York in the late 1990s,” said Thomas Maloney, farm management extension specialist in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. He explained that dairy farms began to grow, but there wasn’t much of a workforce who was willing to do the work.  “[American workers] were not that interested and they didn’t stay very long and the workers who were good seemed to be few and far in between, and if you lost one it was hard to get another one,” Maloney said. At this point, most produce farms, as well as vineyards in the area, were employing Hispanic workers, mostly of Mexican descent. Dairy farmers needed a more stable workforce, one that wouldn’t get tired after a few months and that could stand the 24/7 model of a dairy farm, and immigrant workers wanted a non-seasonal, year-round job.  Seeing that half of all dairy workers in the U.S. are immigrants, it is safe to say that there are many people in the area who find themselves in a constant fear of deportation and who are both geographically and systematically isolated from the outside world. According to a study done in 2016 by Maloney along with the College of Agriculture and Life science at Cornell, about 70 percent of the farms surveyed in upstate New York  had Latino immigrants make up 50 to 100 percent of their workforce. Latinos occupy the grunt work; milking cow and moving rocks to cover the fields, protecting the cows’ food supply. Most Americans on the farms are mechanics, provide veterinary services or are the diary owners themselves. Juan said that he had never  seen an American worker endure the harsh hours and conditions of milking cows for more than a month and that there is an apparent divide between the Americans and the Mexicans on the farm. It’s not a trend unique to New York: Nationwide, the U.S. dairy industry has a has a deep dependency on immigrant labor, enough so that 79 percent of the nation’s milk supply is immigrant-produced,according to a study done by the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University. As much as we depend on immigrant labor, we also find it indispensable: The same study highlighted that eliminating immigrant labor would reduce the U.S. dairy herd by 2.1 million cows and retail milk prices would increase by an estimated 90.4 percent, reducing US economic output by $32.1 billion and reduce employment by 208,208 jobs.

AHC Extends Deadline for Horse Owners, Suppliers Survey

Blood Horse | Posted on July 20, 2017

The American Horse Council Foundation announced July 19 it will be extending the deadline to complete its horse owner and supplier survey to Aug. 18. The results of the survey will be used to update the AHC's National Economic Impact Study. "The survey has been open since the beginning of June, and unfortunately we have only had around 9,000 responses," said AHC president Julie Broadway. "We decided to extend the deadline for respondents to take the survey to ensure that we are getting as many responses as we can—we estimated that the survey link should be reaching approximately 900,000 people, and the 2005 Study had over 18,000 responses itself. The industry has waited a long time for this study to be updated and we want to be sure we are getting the full picture of the impact of the vast equine industry."

Perdue Applauds President Trump for Selections of McKinney & Clovis for USDA Posts

USDA | Posted on July 20, 2017

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded President Donald J. Trump’s declaration of intent to nominate Ted McKinney for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and Dr. Sam Clovis for Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

Japanese trader to acquire Creekstone Farms

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on July 20, 2017

Japanese trading house Marubeni announced today it will acquire Creekstone Farms from private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners. Terms were not disclosed in either of the parties’ news releases, although Japanese news outlet Nikkei Asian Review reported the deal is worth about $170 million.The move gives Marubeni, which already owns Australian beef interest Rangers Valley, a foothold in two of the world’s largest beef-producing and exporting countries and follows China’s recent announcement that it would lift a ban on beef from the United States.

Deal reached to help dairy and cotton farmers in ag spending bill

Politico | Posted on July 20, 2017

Senate Appropriations ranking member Patrick Leahy secured provisions in the fiscal 2018 agriculture spending bill aimed at encouraging more dairy farmers to sign up for an insurance program and to select greater levels of coverage under it. The provisions are part of an agreement brokered with Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran that helps both dairy and cotton farmers, who are struggling financially amid a sustained period of depressed prices. The total cost of the changes would be $1 billion over 10 years, split between the two commodities.Leahy said the bill would make five changes, including directing the Margin Protection Program to send out indemnities to dairy farmers on a monthly, rather than bi-monthly, basis. The program makes payments to dairy farmers when the difference between the cost of milk and feed drops below certain thresholds. Other changes include reducing premium costs and waiving a $100 administrative fee for "underserved producers," something USDA allows for in other programs, Leahy said.National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jim Mulhern said the provision would strengthen MPP and help pave the way for additional improvements to the program in the 2018 farm bill.Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow, who has pushed for a deal that would provide assistance to both dairy and cotton farmers, said in a statement that she will support the spending bill."As I’ve said throughout the appropriations process, all farmers must be considered if we are going to make significant changes to farm bill programs," Stabenow said. "Not only does this bill make important interim improvements to help dairy farmers recover from tough economic times, it also sets the stage to continue repairing the dairy safety net in the farm bill." Congressional appropriators in May almost succeeded in including the provision in the fiscal 2017 omnibus spending package, but that effort fell apart when Senate agriculture lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on how to help dairy farmers.

Missouri woman dies of rare tick-borne illness called 'Bourbon virus'

USA Today | Posted on July 20, 2017

A Missouri woman died June 23 after contracting a rare tick-borne illness called Bourbon virus. Tamela Wilson, 58, was the first person to test positive for the virus in Missouri, and is only the fifth confirmed case since it was identified in 2014, CBS reported. Wilson, who worked as a superintendent at Meramec State Park in Missouri, fell in ill shortly after she pulled two ticks off her body in May. CBS reported that Wilson's doctor initially diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection and prescribed her antibiotics, but her condition continued to deteriorate. 

How live animal markets create a perfect storm for bird flu

STAT news | Posted on July 20, 2017

Katz and Todd Davis, principal investigator on the CDC team that studies flu viruses that infect other mammals and birds, told STAT in a recent interview that this year’s surge in H7N9 case numbers is likely due to the fact that the virus is infecting poultry in more parts of the country. More infected birds equals more exposed people.Swayne’s research, which hasn’t yet been published, points to how that happens. He and colleagues at the Department of Agriculture’s Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga., infected chickens, then slaughtered and defeathered them.The study was done in laboratories with a BSL 3 (enhanced) rating, meaning safety mechanisms were in place to ensure viruses from the experiment could not make their way out of the lab and that the researchers were protected.But the researchers proved that the viruses could be transmitted through slaughter by placing healthy chickens, and later ferrets, in cages in the laboratory where the experiments were being conducted. The healthy chickens all became infected and most of the ferrets — which are used as stand-ins for people in influenza research — did too.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns joins Alliant group as Chair of Ag

KTIC Radio | Posted on July 20, 2017

Alliantgroup, a leading tax consultancy in the area of government-sponsored credits and incentives, is proud to announce the addition of former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns as the firm’s new Chairman of Agriculture. A former Governor and U.S. Senator representing the state of Nebraska, Johanns brings more than 30 years of experience at virtually every level of government and a strong background in both agriculture and economic development. In his new position, Johanns will play a key role in guiding the firm’s outreach on the various tax credits and incentives available for the benefit of the agricultural industry. With his lifetime of public service and extensive network within the sector, Johanns will be alliantgroup’s main advisor for the industry and support the firm’s growing team of agricultural professionals. In addition to helping build alliantgroup’s agricultural practice, Johanns will be a vital resource to the firm’s clients, CPA partners and industry alliances by providing valuable insight on the inner workings of Washington and updates on potential policy changes and their anticipated impact on American businesses.

NC:Agriculture Bill With Anti-Union Language Signed by Cooper

US News and World Report | Posted on July 20, 2017

Unions in sparsely organized North Carolina are unhappy with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for signing a wide-ranging farm bill because it contained a last-minute provision that seeks to ensure growers don't have to collect dues for organized workers.Cooper announced Thursday the legislature's annual agriculture measure was among six bills on his desk that he's signed into law.The legislation, approved on the second-to-last full day of this year's General Assembly chief work session, includes a provision designed to prevent farms from being forced into future agreements to collect workers' dues and transfer them to unions. Farmers also could not be required to enter into union contracts as part of settling worker lawsuits.The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the only agricultural worker union in the state, said the provision was aimed to block it from helping laborers improve their own working conditions through union agreements and litigation. A group leader blasted Cooper for "choosing to be on the wrong side of history" by expanding an anti-labor law first passed in the state in 1947 and vowed to challenge the new law in court."It is a shame that this Democrat and others refuse to stand on the side of the most marginalized working poor and the immigrant workers that keep this state's economy afloat," said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez in a release. He said worker and immigrant rights groups had been hopeful for a veto after meetings with Cooper last month, before the union provision got debated.

"Working people in North Carolina deserve better fr

This will make you cringe: Wheat farmer faces millions in fines

Farm Futures | Posted on July 20, 2017

In June, 2016, I described a Clean Water Act (CWA) case involving a California wheat farmer. A U.S. District Court found John Duarte chisel plowed pasture lands which were considered to be vernal pools even though the pools seldom have water in them. The Court determined his vernal pools were wetlands or waters of the United States. See where this is going? After a year-long delay, the penalty phase of the case against Duarte starts on August 14th. For chisel plowing alleged wetlands, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are seeking $2.8 million in fines and approximately $30 million to buy wetlands which would mitigate the alleged damage created by Mr. Duarte. He claims “It (450 acres of pasture land) was farmed for wheat many times before, and the permit they wanted me to get had never been issued to a farmer before”