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Agriculture News

Alaska bill to protect spawning habitats could affect rural development

Webcenter 11 | Posted on May 8, 2018

House Bill 199, also known as the "Wild Salmon Legacy Act" updates "Title 16, an older fish habitat protection and permitting law. According to the updated bill a broader definition of what constitutes salmon spawning environments, or "anadromous fish habitat" is the aspect of the legislation that is causing so much debate. According to HB 199, "anadromous fish habitat" includes any "naturally occurring permanent of intermittent season water body, and the bed beneath, including all sloughs, backwaters, portions of the floodplain covered by the mean annual flood, and adjacent riparian area, that contribute, directly or indirectly, to the spawning, rearing, migration, or overwintering of anadromous fish." 
Supporters of the legislation argue people will say anything to distract from the real issues at hand. They say HB 199, was proposed to update an older Alaska fish habitat protection permitting law.  "The two tier permitting program that the initiative sets up really creates a streamlined and efficient process for people who are looking to do projects in the salmon habitat areas, whether they are large or small there are guidelines to follow. It gives business the certainty it needs to move forward," said Director of Stand for Salmon, Ryan Schryver.
Opponents of the bill say the definition used to define 'Anadromous fish habitat' is so broad that it will impair community and resource development - potentially hurting Alaskan communities. 


Governor Dayton Thanks Republican Legislators for Supporting Water Quality Buffer Tax Credits

Minnesota Governor | Posted on May 8, 2018

Proposal would provide eligible landowners $50 per acre, each year, for farmland converted to water quality buffers.  Governor Mark Dayton today thanked Republican legislators for supporting a tax credit to help alleviate the cost of compliance with state water quality requirements. The tax credit would provide eligible landowners $50 per acre, each year, for farmland converted to water quality buffers. Governor Dayton first proposed a version of this tax credit as part of his 2017 Tax Bill.“I thank Representative Paul Anderson and Senator Bill Weber for authoring this sensible, bipartisan proposal to support Minnesota farmers, who are working to protect clean water throughout our state,”said Governor Dayton. “I strongly support this legislation, and encourage Republican Legislative Leaders to send it to me, as a clean bill, as soon as possible.” The proposed tax credit would allow Minnesota landowners who have installed water quality buffers on tillable land to receive the tax credit, even if they installed the buffers before the new water quality law went into effect.


With their way of life in jeopardy, dairy farmers search for ways to stabilize markets

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Posted on May 8, 2018

Gina Stokes says she will keep fighting for her family’s dairy farm, where the cows have names, not numbers, and the land tugs at her heart.  That’s a tall order these days for many farmers. Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year, putting the total number of milk-cow herds at around 7,600 — down 20 percent from five years ago. Nationwide, dairy farmers have been pummeled by more than three years of falling income and rising costs.“The milk checks are not covering the bills,” Stokes said of her family's dairy operation, which has about 75 cows.  


New York reminds farmers tax credit programs available this year

WKYT | Posted on May 4, 2018

New York State is reminding farmers that several tax credit programs are available to help them offset business and labor costs for the 2018 tax season. The Farm Workforce Retention Credit has increased to $300 per eligible farm employee who works at least 500 hours annually, and it will increase to $500 in the 2019 tax year. The Retention Credit is expected to save farmers an estimated $14 million this year, according to the state.The Minimum Wage Reimbursement Tax Credit is also available for farms who employ students ages 16-20 who are paid the New York minimum wage.


Why farmers only get 7.8 cents of every dollar Americans spend on food

The Washington Post | Posted on May 3, 2018

For every dollar consumers spend on food, only 7.8 cents goes to farmers — a record low that reflects shifts in how Americans eat, according to the Department of Agriculture. Where once consumers cooked most of their meals at home, they’re now buying just as many at cafes and restaurants. And while shoppers were once content to husk their own corn and slice their own apples, they now buy those foods — and thousands of others — pre-husked, pre-sliced and otherwise processed. Economists say those trends, coupled with low commodity prices, caused farmers’ share of consumer food spending to fall 1.2 cents in 2016, reaching the lowest point, adjusted for inflation, since USDA began the measure in 1993. (It's the latest year for which data is available).


EU proposes to cut farm subsidies, France says unacceptable

Reuters | Posted on May 3, 2018

The European Commission proposed to reduce farm subsidies and leave more latitude to member states under the bloc’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), drawing swift condemnation from France, which called the move “unthinkable”. The CAP proposal comes as part of a bigger, new, multi-year EU budget set to trigger battles among member states over how to fill the funding gap left by Britain’s exit next year.In an effort to cut costs and promote other policies, farmers will see aid shrink in the 2021-2027 period to 365 billion euros ($438 billion), down 5 percent from the current CAP, the Commission said.This would represent a share of less than 30 percent of the total budget of 1.28 trillion euros in inflation-adjusted prices, down from more than 45 percent 20 years earlier.


Half of NY's farm labor is here illegally, official says

Syracuse.com | Posted on May 3, 2018

Half of New York's farm labor force is in the U.S. without documentation, New York's Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball estimated. Ball said immigration raids on farms throughout the state are creating a labor crisis that could close hundreds of farms and keep food from making its way to grocery stores and kitchen tables. "It's a large number, which should point us toward the fact that we need to stop kicking the ball down the field and deal with it," Ball said in an interview with Syracuse.com/NYUP.com Tuesday.


Bayer clears path to clinch Monsanto acquisition by divesting more to BASF

C&EN | Posted on May 3, 2018

Bayer has agreed to sell a second tranche of agrochemicals and seeds businesses to BASF for $2 billion. The move should enable Bayer to satisfy European Union competition rules and complete its $63.5 billion deal to acquire Monsanto—first announced in September 2016—by July.Bayer already agreed in October 2017 to sell significant parts of its seed and pesticides business to BASF for $7 billion in a bid to satisfy EU regulations. In the new divestment round, Bayer will sell to BASF assets including its global vegetable seed activities, certain seed treatment products, its research platform for wheat hybrids, three herbicide research projects, and its digital farming business. Together, they generated 2017 sales of $900 million.


Wisconsin facing agriculture agent shortage

News 8000 | Posted on May 2, 2018

Steep budget cuts have reduced the number of county agriculture agents in a key area of Wisconsin at a time when their knowledge and advice are in high demand. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the UW-Extension is currently operating with 15 fewer ag agents than last year. Republic Rep. Todd Novak, of Dodgeville, says Grant, Green and Lafayette counties don't have a full-time agent despite paying the required fees for them. He says officials are in the process of hiring an agent for Grant and five other counties.


Perdue advised to change or remove Harvestland ads

Watt Ag Net | Posted on May 2, 2018

Company says it doesn’t feel the ads misled consumers into thinking all Perdue chickens are raised using organic methods and is appealing National Advertising Division’s decision.NAD, a unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation that is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, stated that it found advertisements for Harvestland to be potentially misleading to consumers who might think that all Perdue chickens – not just those raised for the Harvestland Organic label – are raised using organic farming methods.The ads in question do display the Perdue Harvestland label on the side of barns, on the screen of a tablet and in a logo at the end of the commercials, but the Perdue Harvestland Organic brand is not specifically spoken. However, in the ads, a voiceover message states: “Perdue, raising more organic chickens than anyone in America.”


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