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Agriculture News

It’s not enough to treat animals well; we have to win the information war

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on March 29, 2017

With so few people connected to agriculture these days, how are we going to convince students that a career in agriculture is a viable course of study? The rapidly increasing demand for food has insured that ag-oriented students often have multiple job offers. The last few years, many good poultry and animal science jobs have gone unfilled.  Without a new crop of talented, newly trained ag students, the world’s ability to produce food will be strained. If we are struggling to get the word out that food animal production is in good shape, how do we get the word out that we need more people to get involved?


Financial Pressure on Farms Likely to Continue

Food & Agriculture Policy Research Institute | Posted on March 28, 2017

The latest analysis of national and global agricultural trends from the University of Missouri indicates continued financial pressure on United States farm sector. Good news in the report includes a modest recovery in grain prices in 2017. The March 2017 U.S. Baseline Briefing Book by economists at the University of Missouri provides projections for agricultural and biofuel markets, based on market information available in January. The report’s macroeconomic assumptions are based primarily on forecasts by IHS Global Insight, which suggest moderate growth in the U.S. and global economies.   “The world is an uncertain place, and commodity markets will continue to be volatile,” says Patrick Westhoff, director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri. “We use our models to develop a range of projected market outcomes that takes into account some major sources of uncertainty about future supply and demand conditions. In some of the resulting 500 outcomes, prices, quantities and values are much higher or much lower than the averages reported here.” Projections contained in the Briefing Book include declines in corn and wheat acreage and production in response to price decreases brought on by record production in 2016. Projected corn prices increase to $3.60 per bushel for the 2017‐18 marketing year and $3.71 per bushel for the period from 2018 to 2026. Meanwhile, shifts in relative prices are likely to push up soybean and cotton acreage in 2017. Strong export demand has supported soybean and cotton prices in 2016‐17, and projections have soybean prices averaging $9.57 per bushel in 2017‐18


Florida has won the battle against screwworms

NBC | Posted on March 28, 2017

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says it will wind down its response against flesh-eating maggots that threaten small, endangered deer in a national wildlife refuge in the Florida Keys. The department said in a news release that the check point for New World screwworms in Key Largo will close at 7 p.m. Saturday. This comes after more than five months of aggressive response efforts and no new screwworm infestations found since January 10. New World screwworm can eat livestock and pets alive, and once cost the U.S. livestock industry millions every year. There hadn't been a U.S. infestation in over 30 years, until agriculture officials confirmed in September that screwworm was killing the dog-sized Key deer whose range is limited to a national wildlife refuge.


Tractor Hack: Farmers are harnessing hacked software for John Deere repairs

Fox News | Posted on March 28, 2017

Today, if you’re a farmer in the heartland of America who wants to keep planting it, growing it and harvesting it with the help of your trusty tractor, nothing is simple anymore — especially if your tractor breaks down. That’s when your new best friend may turn out to be a shadowy software hacker living in the Ukraine. A thriving crop of black-market hackers in Europe is creating and selling software hacks to John Deere software, which local mechanics in America’s breadbasket are downloading and using to repair the company’s tractors. Nebraska is one of eight states that are considering right-to-repair legislation that would invalidate John Deere's license agreement, which also prevents farmers from suing for "crop loss, lost profits, loss of goodwill, loss of use of equipment … arising from the performance or non-performance of any aspect of the software." John Deere, predictably, is opposing such legislation.


How Big Data And Tech Will Improve Agriculture, From Farm To Table

Forbes | Posted on March 28, 2017

Big data is moving into agriculture in a big way. Need proof? Several well-known investors recently dropped a combined $40 million into Farmers Business Network, a data analytics startup. Venture capital has flooded the ag tech space, with investment increasing 80% annually since 2012, as investors realize big data can revolutionize the food chain from farm to table. Sensors on fields and crops are starting to provide literally granular data points on soil conditions, as well as detailed info on wind, fertilizer requirements, water availability and pest infestations. GPS units on tractors, combines and trucks can help determine optimal usage of heavy equipment. Data analytics can help prevent spoilage by moving products faster and more efficiently. Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, can patrol fields and alert farmers to crop ripeness or potential problems. RFID-based traceability systems can provide a constant data stream on farm products as they move through the supply chain, from the farm to the compost or recycle bin. Individual plants can be monitored for nutrients and growth rates. Analytics looking forward and back assist in determining the best crops to plant, considering both sustainability and profitability. Agricultural technology can also help farmers hedge against losses and even out cash flow.


Extreme weather events linked to climate change impact on the jet stream

Science Daily | Posted on March 28, 2017

Unprecedented summer warmth and flooding, forest fires, drought and torrential rain -- extreme weather events are occurring more and more often, but now an international team of climate scientists has found a connection between many extreme weather events and the impact climate change is having on the jet stream.


JBS dramatically cuts beef production in Brazil after importers cut purchases

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 27, 2017

JBS S.A. decided to suspend operations in 33 out of 36 beef slaughter plants in Brazil for three days, after more than a dozen countries temporarily banned Brazilian meat imports this week. The company aims to adjust production to demand as a consequence of the embargoes imposed by importers, after the country's Federal Police announced an operation to dismantle an alleged bribery scheme involving 33 federal sanitary inspectors and 21 meat processing plants. Since the investigations were announced last Friday, Brazil's daily meat exports fell to $74,000 on Tuesday from an average of $63 million before the probe was made public.


Genetically-modified crops have benefits - Princess Anne

BBC | Posted on March 25, 2017

Princess Anne has said genetically-modified crops have important benefits for providing food and she would be open to growing them on her own land. Her brother, the Prince of Wales, has previously warned GM crops could cause an environmental disaster.But Princess Anne said: "To say we mustn't go there 'just in case' is probably not a practical argument." In an interview with the rural affairs programme to be broadcast on Thursday, the 66-year-old Princess Royal said she saw no problem with modifying crops if it improved their ability to grow.


Court upholds $1.5 million judgment in Oregon dairy lawsuit

Capital Press | Posted on March 25, 2017

The Oregon Court of Appeals has upheld a $1.5 million judgment against Land O’Lakes Purina Feed for selling defective feed to an Oregon dairy. Neal and Nancy Kaste, who own a dairy farm near Tillamook, Ore., won $750,000 in a lawsuit that accused the manufacturer of supplying feed containing hazardous levels of proteins, phosphorous and copper.The plaintiffs claimed the defective feed sickened or killed many of their cows, causing the dairy to spend money on veterinary treatments and sustain financial losses for which Land O’Lakes was liable.After a jury found in favor of the dairy, Tillamook County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Hill ordered the feed manufacturer to pay $750,000 in compensation for damages and another $760,000 in attorney fees.Land O’Lakes challenged the decision before the Oregon Court of Appeals, which has now rejected the manufacturer’s arguments that the judge should have issued a “directed verdict” in its favor.


Wages rise on California farms. Americans still don’t want the job

Los Angeles Times | Posted on March 23, 2017

Before the day was through, Solorio would make the same pitch to dozens of men and women, approaching a taco truck, a restaurant and a homeless encampment. Time was short: He needed to find 100 workers to fill his ranks by April 1, when grapevines begin to grow and need constant attention. Solorio is one of a growing number of agricultural businessmen who say they face an urgent shortage of workers. The flow of labor began drying up when President Obama tightened the border. Now President Trump is promising to deport more people, raid more companies and build a wall on the southern border. That has made California farms a proving ground for the Trump team’s theory that by cutting off the flow of immigrants they will free up more jobs for American-born workers and push up their wages.So far, the results aren’t encouraging for farmers or domestic workers.Farmers are being forced to make difficult choices about whether to abandon some of the state’s hallmark fruits and vegetables, move operations abroad, import workers under a special visa or replace them altogether with machines.Growers who can afford it have already begun raising worker pay well beyond minimum wage. Wages for crop production in California increased by 13% from 2010 to 2015, twice as fast as average pay in the state, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today, farmworkers in the state earn about $30,000 a year if they work full time — about half the overall average pay in California. Most work fewer hours.Some farmers are even giving laborers benefits normally reserved for white-collar professionals, like 401(k) plans, health insurance, subsidized housing and profit-sharing bonuses. Full-timers at Silverado Farming, for example, get most of those sweeteners, plus 10 paid vacation days, eight paid holidays, and can earn their hourly rate to take English classes. But the raises and new perks have not tempted native-born Americans to leave their day jobs for the fields. Nine in 10 agriculture workers in California are still foreign born, and more than half are undocumented, according to a federal survey.


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