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Agriculture News

Dubai is getting the world's largest vertical farm — and it will grow produce for the world's largest international airport

Business Insider | Posted on July 9, 2018

Crop One Holdings, a Silicon Valley food startup, and Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), one of the world's largest airline catering operators, plan build a 130,000-square-foot vertical farm in Dubai. Vertical farms grow crops indoors and year-round without natural sunlight or soil.The facility will be the largest of its kind, and will produce 6,000 pounds of crops daily. The greens and herbs will be used for in-flight meals at Dubai International Airport, the world's largest by international passenger traffic.

New York $30 million available for dairy farm projects

Times Union | Posted on July 9, 2018

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $30 million is available to support conservation easement projects on dairy farms across New York. Plummeting milk prices have "increased the threat" of more farmland being converted into other developments, Cuomo said in a statement. Land trusts, municipalities and other entities can apply for farmland protection grants of up to $2 million.

Wisconsin’s Dairy Future: The Walmart Impact

WSAW | Posted on July 9, 2018

An agricultural business expert says Wisconsin’s cheese production would likely act as a buffer if the milk processing model Walmart started using this summer ever expanded to impact America's Dairyland. "It should be remembered for Wisconsin, 85 to 90 percent of our milk goes to cheese manufacturing," University of Wisconsin – Madison College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Renk Professor of Agribusiness Brian Gould said. “For Wisconsin, beverage milk is not that important. For individual farms it is if they happen to supply to a plant. But for the industry as a whole, very minor share of our milk production goes to fluid milk,” Gould added. In June, Walmart officially went into the milk processing business, creating 200 new jobs at their new Indiana plant. One-hundred additional contract jobs, including truck drivers, were also added. Thirty dairy farms and co-ops, within an average 140 mile radius of the Fort Wayne, Ind. location have also received Walmart contracts. They supply the plant local milk. Then it is sent to nearly 500 Walmart stores in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. However, that ‘opportunity’ also cost farmers their milk contracts. Dean Foods losing some business, so Walmart could process their own milk, trickled down to more than 100 dairy farms in eight states: Indiana, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee."They're really up in the air. They don't know what they're going to do," said Kentucky dairy farmer Carl Chaney, who worried about family members who lost their Dean contract. "It'll be kind of rough for a little bit if they don't find another milk plant to take you," Pennsylvania dairy farmer Bob Nickerson, who lost his Dean contact, added. The Walmart model comes at a time when Wisconsin finds itself losing hundreds of dairy farms every year.

Oregon OSHA adopts stricter rules for pesticide drift protection

Capital Press | Posted on July 9, 2018

Oregon OSHA adopted rules Monday establishing “Application Exclusion Zones” under the federal Worker Protection Standard to shield farmworkers from drifting pesticides in fields and orchards. Oregon regulators will allow farmworkers and their families to take shelter indoors from drifting pesticides under controversial rules adopted Monday by the state Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or Oregon OSHA.

Trump's trade war against China is officially underway

The New York Times | Posted on July 7, 2018

A trade war between the world’s two largest economies officially began on Friday morning as the Trump administration followed through with its threat to impose tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese products, a significant escalation of a fight that could hurt companies and consumers in both the United States and China. The penalties, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m., prompted quick retaliation by Beijing. China said it immediately put its own similarly sized tariffs on an unspecified clutch of American goods. Previously, the Chinese government had said it would tax pork, soybeans and automobiles, among other goods. In a statement, China’s Ministry of Commerce said the United States “has launched the biggest trade war in economic history so far.”  The escalation of the trade war from threat to reality is expected to ripple through global supply chains, raise costs for businesses and consumers and roil global stock markets, which have been volatile in anticipation of a prolonged trade fight between the United States and almost everyone else. “At the moment, I don’t see how this ends,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “This is very much in the president’s hands because he’s got advisers that seem divided, some substantively, some tactically. I just don’t think we’ve had any clear signs of the resolution he wants.” The Trump administration is waging trade wars on multiple fronts as it imposes tariffs on foreign steel, aluminum, solar panels and washing machines from countries like Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Japan. Yet the tariffs on China, the world’s largest manufacturing hub, affect a much larger share of products and a greater percentage of companies that rely on global supply chains, potentially hurting American companies even more than the Chinese firms the Trump administration is targeting. Mr. Trump’s aggressive stance toward China is aimed at pressuring the country to curtail what the White House describes as a pattern of unfair trade practices and theft of American intellectual property. In addition to the tariffs, the White House is placing restrictions on investment and on visas for Chinese nationals. The administration says the trade barriers are being used as leverage to force Beijing to make changes, including opening its markets to American companies and ending its practice of requiring firms operating in China to hand over valuable technology.

Smithfield getting beat up in costly court cases

Farm Futures | Posted on July 5, 2018

Late last Friday, a North Carolina jury again ruled against Smithfield Foods in a nuisance lawsuit. The jury awarded a couple who live over 1/4 mile from the concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) $25 million for flies, odor and large tractor trailers going by their property. The jury deliberated for three days according to sources. Sources say this was Smithfield’s best case, and the farm itself was owned by a former local police chief. The legal argument used by plaintiffs is that concentrated hog operations are a nuisance. North Carolina’s Pork Council issued a statement Friday evening stating “It is heartbreaking because the jury did not hear the full story about Joey Carter’s farm and now an honest, hardworking farmer stands to lose everything.” Plaintiffs are claiming that Smithfield must replace lagoons at each hog production facility and stop spraying the lagoons’ water and residue onto fields.One source reporting on the trial suggested the jury did not hear all of the necessary evidence about Defendant’s farm and its surroundings. Another charge made about the trial is the judge declined to allow the jury to travel and visit defendant’s farm.

Ernie Hardeman named Ontario agriculture minister

Real Agriculture | Posted on July 5, 2018

Oxford County MPP Ernie Hardeman has been tapped to lead the agriculture portfolio under Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s new cabinet.  The naming of Hardeman as ag minister comes somewhat as a surprise, as Lisa Thompson and Toby Barrett were widely speculated as top picks for the post. Thompson has been named Minister of Education. Barrett did not receive a cabinet post, but was named Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

The Science of Hog Farm Odors

Daily Yonder | Posted on July 5, 2018

Hog-farm odors are a bit like good art: You know it when you smell it. But in the North Carolina hog-farming lawsuit, an expert witness attempts to quantify smell with more scientific methods.  When expert witness Shane Rogers steps into a witness box in federal court these days, he takes pains to explain why he thinks some hog farms in eastern North Carolina create nuisance-level odors. First, the Clarkson University environmental scientist lays out his approach to feces forensics. He hunts for a very specific bacterium called Pig2Bac, a microbe native to the gut of swine that gets excreted with hog feces. “If you have found Pig2Bac you have found pig feces,” Rogers this month told 12 jurors hearing the second of 26 hog farm nuisance lawsuits filed against Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world. Allies to Smithfield, meanwhile, are working hard to counter Rogers’ narrative. In court filings and elsewhere, those allies reject the argument that a bacterium from hog guts is a good proxy for unreasonable farm odors.“Never in the history of the world has anyone used this as a proxy for odor,” said attorney Mark Anderson of McGuireWoods, the law firm representing Smithfield.

In the grinder: Farm economy continues to suffer

Agrinews | Posted on July 5, 2018

It comes as no surprise to any farmer — the overall farm economy health in the United States isn’t strong. John Newton, director ofr market intelligence at American Farm Bureau Federation, discussed economic health at the Agriculture Policy Outlook.“Net farm income has declined over 50 percent since 2013,” he said. “The farm economy is not surging. The farm contribution to U.S. GDP is at the lowest level we’ve seen. As Secretary Perdue says, ‘we’ve got a perfect storm on our hands.’”

Rep. Patterson Applauds Passage Of Bipartisan Lake Erie Funding Bill

The Ohio House of Representatives | Posted on July 5, 2018

State Rep. John Patterson applauded the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 299, the companion bill to Patterson’s House Bill 643, the Ohio Clean lake 2020 Plan. Joint-sponsored with state Rep. Steve Arndt, the bipartisan legislation invests $36 million in efforts to tackle the issue of harmful algal blooms and create innovative programs to clean up Lake Erie. “Our Great Lake remains a vital resource to us here in Northeast Ohio, impacting everything from growing our crops to growing our economy. We must do everything we can to ensure its long-term health,” said Patterson. “The Clean Lake 2020 Plan confronts the challenges we face by investing in new, innovative programs to reduce the devastating effects of algal blooms and clean up our lake so that the next generation of Ohioans can enjoy this precious resource.” The Clean Lake 2020 Plan would invest the following, $2.65 million to monitor phosphorous loading, harmful algal growth and toxicity levels at The Ohio State University’s Sea Grant and Stone Lab;$10 million to research alternative uses for dredged sediment;$20 million in grants and loans for farmers to reduce phosphorous runoff;$3.5 million for soil and water conservation districts in the lake’s western basin.