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Agriculture News

China’s JD.com details pork, beef buy from Smithfield, Cross Four Ranch

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on November 9, 2017

Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com announced it has signed a deal to import over $1.2 billion of U.S. beef and pork over three years. In a big win for Montana beef producers, the agreement includes a minimum commitment of $200 million in beef to be imported by JD from Cross Four Ranch and Montana Stockgkrowers Association members at fair market value over three years. It is estimated that JD’s purchase of Cross Four Ranch and MSGA beef will increase Montana beef export sales by as much as 40 percent in 2018.


USDA Chief Scientist Statement on WHO Guidelines on Antibiotics

USDA | Posted on November 9, 2017

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released recommendations regarding the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Acting Chief Scientist, today issued the following statement: “The WHO guidelines are not in alignment with U.S. policy and are not supported by sound science. The recommendations erroneously conflate disease prevention with growth promotion in animals."“The WHO previously requested that the standards for on-farm antibiotic use in animals be updated through a transparent, consensus, science-based process of CODEX. However, before the first meeting of the CODEX was held, the WHO released these guidelines, which according to language in the guidelines are based on ‘low-quality evidence,’ and in some cases, ‘very low-quality evidence.'"“Under current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy, medically important antibiotics should not be used for growth promotion in animals. In the U.S., the FDA allows for the use of antimicrobial drugs in treating, controlling, and preventing disease in food-producing animals under the professional oversight of licensed veterinarians. While the WHO guidelines acknowledge the role of veterinarians, they would also impose unnecessary and unrealistic constraints on their professional judgement."


Syngenta's property being repurposed in Alexandria

Exome | Posted on November 9, 2017

Alexandria is currently remodeling the former Syngenta site into what will become the Alexandria Center for Agtech. Boragen is the first tenant. Dombrosky says tests of its lead boron-based fungicide candidate in crops such as corn and soybean have laid the groundwork for field trials set to begin in South America this winter. By the second quarter of next year, Dombrosky expects to begin talking with agriculture companies that may be interested in partnering with the startup. It’s a timeline he says would not be possible if not for greenhouse access.Greenhouses are scarce because they are specialized structures that require a large capital investment—more than many startups can afford, says Oliver Sherrill, Alexandria’s regional market director for RTP. With its greenhouses already in place, the former Syngenta site gives Alexandria a head start on its RTP expansion plans. Sherrill says work on the rest of the site should be completed within a year. By then, other startups will have the opportunity to join Boragen.


US ag equipment manufacturers eye Cuba before rules change

KTIC Radio | Posted on November 9, 2017

U.S. manufacturers appear to be racing the clock before the Trump administration tightens economic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Over the last week, both John Deere and Caterpillar announced agreements with the Cuban government that might let the two Illinois-based companies sell farm tractors and other heavy equipment on the island. The occasion for this rush of activity was the annual Havana International Fair, Cuba’s largest commercial fair. Focus of the event is the Mariel Special Development Zone, a container ship facility near Havana and center of Cuba’s import/export businesses.In June, President Donald Trump announced that he was “cancelling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.” He did not give specifics, but administration officials said details would follow within 90 days. Those details have not been made public yet. With that in mind, Deere announced it would send 5000 Series tractors (between 75-115 horsepower) to Cuba this month. “This equipment is for testing and appraisal to ensure it will work with specific Cuban agricultural conditions and farming practices,” said Deere spokesman Ken Golden. A report in Manufacturer News quotes Golden as saying Deere would send “several hundred tractors and associated implements” over a four-year period.


Robot Farm: How farms are planting the seeds of technological progress

WAOW | Posted on November 9, 2017

Automation isn’t limited to the dairy. It its taking root in nearly every system onboard combine harvesters and tractors. The mechanized behemoths kick up dust across Indiana’s 14.7 million acres of farmland each autumn.  As they rumble over the row crops, combines are tracking every soy bean pod or ear of corn they take in. Crop productivity data is harvested and sent to the farmer. The machines use signals from GPS satellites high above the Earth, to pinpoint their location and drive themselves with precision. Although an operator sits in the cockpit, no hands are on the steering wheel.“The modern combine harvester as more lines of computer code than the space shuttle did when it first launched in 1981,” explains Chad Lantz of Troxel Equipment. “These machines are about 80 percent electronic and 20 percent mechanical.”Mr. Lantz would know. He’s been fixing combines and tractors for years. Now, he can do most of the work without leaving his office. Each implement is connected to the internet through a cellular connection. Engine performance, speed and direction are tracked and sent in near real-time to Lantz at Troxel’s office in Bluffton. He can fine tune operating parameters from the comfort of his office chair.“These machines can tell me of a problem before it turns into a bigger one,” Lantz explained.


Robot Farm: How farms are planting the seeds of technological progress

WAOW | Posted on November 9, 2017

Automation isn’t limited to the dairy. It its taking root in nearly every system onboard combine harvesters and tractors. The mechanized behemoths kick up dust across Indiana’s 14.7 million acres of farmland each autumn.  As they rumble over the row crops, combines are tracking every soy bean pod or ear of corn they take in. Crop productivity data is harvested and sent to the farmer. The machines use signals from GPS satellites high above the Earth, to pinpoint their location and drive themselves with precision. Although an operator sits in the cockpit, no hands are on the steering wheel.“The modern combine harvester as more lines of computer code than the space shuttle did when it first launched in 1981,” explains Chad Lantz of Troxel Equipment. “These machines are about 80 percent electronic and 20 percent mechanical.”Mr. Lantz would know. He’s been fixing combines and tractors for years. Now, he can do most of the work without leaving his office. Each implement is connected to the internet through a cellular connection. Engine performance, speed and direction are tracked and sent in near real-time to Lantz at Troxel’s office in Bluffton. He can fine tune operating parameters from the comfort of his office chair.“These machines can tell me of a problem before it turns into a bigger one,” Lantz explained.


WHO:Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance

World Health Organization | Posted on November 9, 2017

WHO is recommending that farmers and the food industry stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals. The new WHO recommendations aim to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human medicine by reducing their unnecessary use in animals. In some countries, approximately 80% of total consumption of medically important antibiotics is in the animal sector, largely for growth promotion in healthy animals. Over-use and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. Some types of bacteria that cause serious infections in humans have already developed resistance to most or all of the available treatments, and there are very few promising options in the research pipeline.WHO strongly recommends an overall reduction in the use of all classes of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals, including complete restriction of these antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention without diagnosis. Healthy animals should only receive antibiotics to prevent disease if it has been diagnosed in other animals in the same flock, herd, or fish population.Where possible, sick animals should be tested to determine the most effective and prudent antibiotic to treat their specific infection. Antibiotics used in animals should be selected from those WHO has listed as being “least important” to human health, and not from those classified as “highest priority critically important”. These antibiotics are often the last line, or one of limited treatments, available to treat serious bacterial infections in humans.


FDA Announces Withdrawal of Draft Guidance for Industry Regarding Animal Drug Compounding

FDA | Posted on November 9, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is withdrawing draft Guidance for Industry (GFI) #230, “Compounding Animal Drugs from Bulk Drug Substances” in order to clarify that the agency does not plan to finalize the current draft, but instead intends to issue a new draft for public comment next year. The draft guidance issued in May 2015 proposed conditions under which the FDA generally would not intend to take action against the compounding of animal drugs from bulk drug substances, with the goal of making such animal drugs available for patient care without jeopardizing the safety of animals and humans or compromising the animal drug approval process.Current law does not permit compounding of animal drugs from bulk drug substances, but the FDA recognizes that there are circumstances where there is no approved drug that can be used or modified through compounding to treat a particular animal with a particular condition. In those limited situations, an animal drug compounded from bulk drug substances may be an appropriate treatment option.After reviewing the comments submitted to the docket, the FDA decided not to finalize the current draft guidance, and will instead develop and issue a new draft guidance. In developing the new draft, the FDA will carefully consider the issues that are specific to compounding of animal drugs, including the significance of using compounded drugs as a treatment option in various veterinary settings and animal species.


Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program

The Hill | Posted on November 9, 2017

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation in the House and Senate that would overhaul the U.S. sugar program. Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are proposing a measure that would limit domestic supply restrictions and reduce market distortions caused by sugar import quotas while ensuring that taxpayers don’t pay for sugar industry bailouts. Supporters of the overhaul argue that the existing sugar program hurts businesses that use sugar as an ingredient in their products while protecting a small group of well-connected sugar producers. Those advocates say the Sugar Policy Modernization Act could save their businesses and consumers billions every year.


Improving the Illinois dairy industry, one farm at a time

Phys.org | Posted on November 8, 2017

Like most farmers, Illinois dairy producers want to maximize efficiency and productivity to improve their bottom line. But many don't have the time or objective perspective to audit their own operations for potential improvements. That's why the University of Illinois Dairy Focus Team was formed.Upon arrival, the group would fan out, evaluating and sampling every aspect of the dairy, while Cardoso sat down with the  to complete a lengthy questionnaire and get copies of the farmer's data.Specifically, the team evaluated nutrition, by taking samples of corn silage, total mixed rations, and manure; reproduction, by examining farmers' data on yearly pregnancy rate, first conception rate, and services per conception; and young stock, by measuring aspects of calf housing.Back at the lab, the researchers analyzed farm samples and data from farmers to obtain an overall view of the  in Illinois. Specifically, data from farms in northern and southern Illinois were compared to pinpoint geographic patterns.

 


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