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Agriculture News

97 people arrested in immigration raid at meat plant

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 12, 2018

U.S. immigration officials executed a criminal search warrant at the Southeastern Provision meatpacking plant in Grainger County, Tenn., leading to the arrest of 97 individuals who are subject to removal from the United States.

Mountaire gets the go-ahead on wastewater treatment plan

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 12, 2018

The state of Delaware said it has granted permission to Mountaire Farms to store sludge at its Millsboro poultry complex, as the next step in a multi-year plan to improve the facility’s wastewater treatment process. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control issued a permit that allows Mountaire to transfer excess sludge to a previously abandoned lagoon at the facility that the company intends to retrofit for short-term storage. The process will speed up removal of excess sludge from two other lagoons, the state said in its order, published online this week. The sludge then will be prepared for off-site disposal.

Shippers concerned about rail service problems

National Grain and Feed Association | Posted on April 11, 2018

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) wishes to apprise the Surface Transportation Board (Board) of major concerns it has received regarding severe rail service problems and excessive charges involving Class I railroads that are being experienced by shippers and receivers of grains, oilseeds and processed grain products. There is a fundamental concern among rail customers that the underlying root cause of these service and accessorial charge-related issues is Class I railroads’ aggressive effort to reduce their operating ratios to impress Wall Street investors and shareholders. This, in turn, has resulted in the systemic shedding of resources by Class I carriers, including locomotives and crews, that has degraded service to unacceptable levels, and resulted in virtually non-existent surge capacity to meet rail customers’ needs. Conditions have failed to improve for several months, resulting in grain and grain product companies shifting their supply chains to just-in-time deliveries and increasing their reliance on costlier truck transportation just to get agricultural products moving. Automobile manufacturers are encountering similar issues.

Canada unveils $3 billion ag growth initiative

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 10, 2018

 The Canadian government recently announced the launch of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a C$3 billion commitment that will help chart the course for government investments in the sector over the next five years. The partnership aims to help the sector grow trade, advance innovation and strengthen public confidence in the food system, the government said. In addition, business risk management programs will continue to help producers manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farms and are beyond their capacity to manage.

Changes to West Virginia agriculture rules to take effect

The Register Herald | Posted on April 10, 2018

The West Virginia Legislature approved seven rule changes related to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, most of which will go into effect April 29. House Bill 4079 adopted several rule changes involving animal disease control, state apiary law, fruit inspection, auctioneers, noxious weeds, inspection of meat and poultry, and inspection of nontraditional/domesticated animals.“Technology innovations and federal guidelines change on a yearly basis,” Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt said in a Monday news release. “This requires the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to update rules and regulations to modern standards. The department is here to help farmers and producers understand these changes."For animal disease control, the change allows people who own sheep and goats to submit certifications online or by mail. Certified flocks or herds can be approved for entry to fairs or festivals by the commissioner or through a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection.

Immigrant labor in rural Midwest is on the decline: study

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 10, 2018

A declining flow of immigrants into the U.S. and aging population of immigrants already in the country is exacerbating challenges in the pork industry’s labor market, according to a study conducted by Iowa State University. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) commissioned the study, which it is using to support the organization’s argument for immigration reform that will provide them a larger labor pool.But the study states that immigration policy is only one of many factors that are changing the landscape in the rural Midwest, particularly in the hog industry.

'Scruffles Law' proposed in NJ to offer animal justice

My Central Jersey | Posted on April 10, 2018

When Danielle DiNapoli's English bulldog, Scruffles, died last year after being groomed at the PetSmart in Flemington, she found no real legal recourse in the event of possible gross negligence or recklessness when pets are in the care of others. Her attorney, Daryl Kipnis, a Somerset attorney and Republican 12th District congressional candidate, is looking to change that by proposing an animal justice revision to New Jersey Civil Code that would allow pet owners to sue for damages, including statutory damages of $10,000.On Friday, Kipnis introduced "Scuffles Law" to be considered by the New Jersey State Legislature. His Somerset law office worked on writing the proposal. According to Kipnis, the proposed legislation recognizes the relationship that owners of domestic companion animals have with their pets and gives them powerful legal remedies against individuals who cause the injury or death of their pets through negligence, recklessness or animal cruelty.

How many farms won't survive a trade war? In Iowa, the question is real

Politico | Posted on April 10, 2018

Across the Iowa countryside, the prospect of a damaging trade war with China at a time of stubbornly low commodity prices has given rise to an uneasy guessing game among the state’s agricultural bankers and lenders. “The bankers are quietly talking in the corners of the room,” said Leslie Miller, vice president at Iowa State Savings Bank in Knoxville, Iowa. “We talk about those farmers we know that, if pricing doesn’t get better, aren’t going to make it.”Slumping commodity prices and low land valuations are nothing new. But last week China imposed an initial set of tariffs on U.S. goods, including on modified ethanol and pork. That's no small matter in Iowa, the country's biggest pork-producing state. And as the Trump administration moves to crack down on China's intellectual property practices, the possibility of further retaliation from Beijing threatens U.S. farmers' access to the second-biggest market for American agricultural goods.While the increasing U.S.-China trade tensions have fueled a dizzying spate of headlines over the last few weeks, bankers in Iowa have been hashing out forecasts of how many farmers could be forced to downsize — or pack it in altogether — by the end of the year if a full-blown trade war develops.

Midwestern BioAg gets a dream opportunity with new partnership with General Mills

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on April 10, 2018

“Biological farmers want to feed the soil life and create the ideal home (for plants) and we’ve got a whole concept,” Zimmer said. A major food manufacturer, General Mills, agrees. Last month, it announced it was partnering with Midwestern BioAg — the Madison-based biological farming company Zimmer founded in 1979 — to convert the 34,000-acre Gunsmoke Farm near Pierre, South Dakota, into an organic farm. When it’s completed in 2020, it will become the largest organic transition in North America, Zimmer said.

Vermont needs to make ‘tough decisions’ on cow herds

Vermont Digger | Posted on April 10, 2018

There are more cows in Vermont than the state’s agricultural land can accommodate under current practices, according to a new study from a UVM research fellow. But a promising solution to the problem would place a financial burden on struggling dairy farmers. The study recommends “precision feeding” as a promising approach to reduce dairies’ rate of water pollution without reducing herd sizes. However, some Vermont counties, including Franklin and Orleans, may simply have more cows than the land can handle.“We have in many parts of the state a herd size the land cannot support,” said Jon Erickson, a UVM professor who co-authored the study.“I hope [the study] is yet another wake-up call, that despite our best efforts … in many senses the efforts are missing the target: We need to make some tough decisions around herd size and location,” Erickson said.Authored by UVM’s Gund Graduate Fellow Michael Wironen, of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, the study focuses on phosphorus, and its accumulation in Vermont soil over the past 90 years.The study looks at how much of the element is imported into the state, how much is exported through products like milk and meat, and how much remains in the state, either bound to the soil or polluting surface waters.“While feed is imported and milk exported, manure remains in Vermont,” the study states.