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Agriculture News

Wheat straw-Cellulosic biorefinery to break ground in North Dakota

Biomass Magazine | Posted on September 26, 2018

A biorefinery that will produce 16 MMgy of cellulosic ethanol and 120,000 of lignin pellets is set to break ground in Spiritwood, North Dakota, in the spring of 2019. The facility, under development by New Energy Blue, will feature Inbicon technology. The proposed plant, known as New Energy Spirit Biomass Refinery LLC, will be located in Spiritwood Energy Park near Jamestown, North Dakota, adjacent to Dakota Spirit AgEnergy LLC, an existing 70 MMgy corn ethanol plant, and Spiritwood Station, a 99-megawatt coal-fired power plant that produces electricity and steam.

Wisconsin to Add Ag Enterprise Areas

Wisconsin Ag Connection | Posted on September 26, 2018

Three more agricultural enterprise areas totaling 185,000 acres have been designated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. The new AEAs will be in Trempealeau County's town of Arcadia; St. Croix County's town of Troy; and six townships in northwest Outagamie and northeast Waupaca counties. Wisconsin will have a total of 37 agricultural enterprise areas, or AEAs, in 26 counties, 108 towns and the Bad River Reservation, as of January 1, 2019.AEAs may be created or expanded when at least five landowners, in partnership with local governments, petition the DATCP for the designation. They are part of Wisconsin's farmland preservation program, intended to encourage preservation of agricultural land use and to promote agricultural economic development appropriate to each area.Landowners outside designated AEAs who want to participate should work with their neighbors and local governments to petition for AEA status.

Entire working ranch, with 1,000 head of cattle, donated to Calgary's vet school

Calgary Herald | Posted on September 26, 2018

A father and daughter with a passion for the beef industry have donated an entire working ranch — land, buildings, a 1,000-head herd of cattle and all — to the University of Calgary's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.In terms of monetary value, W.A. Ranches — which is northeast of Cochrane and valued at $44 million — is the largest gift of a ranch that has ever been made to a North American university. And, in terms of size, at nearly 7,700 hectares, it represents the biggest gift of ranch property in Canadian university history.The donation was made by businessman and philanthropist J.C. (Jack) Anderson, 90, and his daughter Wynne Chisholm, 61. The two have operated W.A. Ranches since 2005, when Anderson — then 77 — decided to get back into the cattle industry after giving it up decades before to focus on his oil and gas interests. “There are only three grandkids in our family and all have chosen careers outside of agriculture. So we were looking at what our next steps were and what we might do,” Chisholm said. “We just thought it was an area the university was missing.”The University of Calgary’s vet school, which was founded in 2005, already gives students the chance to work with private ranches and veterinary practices as part of their overall training. But having an entire “turnkey-ready” working ranch incorporated into the university’s program is very unique, said Dr. Baljit Singh, dean of the faculty of veterinary medicine.

Trade wars, "Meatless Mondays" and BBQ. Texas Agriculture Commissioner candidates square off

Houston Business Journal | Posted on September 26, 2018

Much of the race for Texas Agriculture Commissioner centers on food — whether immigrants should be able to help harvest it, how crops are traded or what items schools can serve students for lunch. Democrat Kim Olson, a farmer and Air Force veteran, is challenging the incumbent, Republican Sid Miller.  In the latest edition of our Split Decision virtual debate series, watch Olson and Miller discuss these issues, as well as Miller's presence on social media and more. Olson is critical of what Miller's done over his first term as agriculture commissioner, including the fees he raised on farmers and ranchers in 2016 that an audit showed raised millions more dollars than necessary. Miller highlighted reforms he said he's made at the Texas Department of Agriculture, including increased inspections and expanded foreign markets.The two also see President Donald Trump's tough trade policies very differently. Olson says Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports are hurting Texas farmers and beef producers. Texas' beef industry recently started re-establishing a relationship with China after a 14-year ban on U.S. beef exports to the country was lifted last year. Miller counters that the U.S. "hasn't really gained the beef market back" and added that he's confident that, ultimately, the president will make good on his promise to protect rural America.

Food and Agriculture Grants Will Boost Businesses in Michigan | Posted on September 26, 2018

During its regularly scheduled meeting, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for three food and agriculture projects in Michigan. The projects will help grow companies focused on cheese-making, asparagus packing and production, and grain processing as well as support the expansion of consumer-demand driven, value-added Michigan products. “Food and agriculture processing is a diversified business in Michigan, and these three projects are great examples of the support we can give to small companies in order to accelerate their growth,” said Peter Anastor, Director of MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division. “We hope these companies continue to grow and establish themselves as key pieces of our food and ag supply chain that will support local, regional and national food companies and consumers.”The Food and Agriculture Investment Program provides financial support for food and agriculture projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and Michigan’s economy. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan. 

FSMA inspectors want ‘why’ of animal feed safety plan

Watt Ag Net | Posted on September 26, 2018

To satisfy Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) inspectors, feed mill employees should know and be able to explain the reasoning behind all the steps in an animal feed safety plan, said Cassandra Jones, Ph.D., associate professor at Kansas State University, in an interview after her presentation at the Feed and Pet Food Joint Conference, on September 19 in St. Louis. Jones has observed a recurring problem when she helps feed mill facilities preparing for FSMA inspections. While feed mill workers may know the physical steps of a food safety plan, they may not have been fully trained on the reasoning behind each action.Many facilities haven’t completely fleshed out the why, she said.“The individual who is receiving the investigator understands what is in the safety plan, but may not understand why those decisions were made,” Jones said.

Costco Poultry Complex Could Redefine Farm-to-Fork

Ag Web | Posted on September 26, 2018

As Costco is set to be the first U.S. retailer to integrate its meat supply to the farm level, a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division predicts that other food retailers and foodservice companies may be prompted to reevaluate their own supply chain integration opportunities.
In September of next year, Costco is slated to open a new chicken complex in eastern Nebraska where it expects in-house production to generate a savings of 10 to 35 cents per bird. According to the CoBank report, the move comes as Costco’s rotisserie chickens have become a major traffic-driver for in-store customers, while available supplies of whole birds at targeted weights have declined. Since 2010, Costco’s rotisserie chicken sales have grown by more than 8 percent annually—three times the growth rate of total U.S. poultry consumption—and have maintained a $4.99 per chicken price point.Costco’s move marks the first time a U.S. retailer has integrated its meat supply to the farm level and taken on the risks associated with animal husbandry, including feeding, animal welfare, disease prevention and harvesting.

Residents say Dannon Yogurt factory produces ‘foul smell,’ start petition

Fox News | Posted on September 26, 2018

Utah residents in West Jordan are fed up with a foul odor they say is coming from the Dannon yogurt plant. Maurie Vance created a petition on, urging city, county and state officials to work with residents and Dannon to find a solution to the smell.She describes the smell as being obnoxious and says it is at its worst during the fall and winter months.“It’s like a sour milk, dirty diaper — disgusting,” Vance said.The petition has received hundreds of signatures.“It gags you so much, you don’t go outside. You run back into your house,” said West Jordan resident Dana Grandy.

Investor warns McDonald's over chicken welfare

Crain's Chicago Business | Posted on September 26, 2018

McDonald's Corp. has long been on the receiving end of calls to take better care of its chickens. Earlier this month, actors and musicians including  Kristen Bell, Joan Jett and Weird Al Yankovic have lent their names to demands for more humane treatment. Now there's a new name on that list, and it carries a lot more weight. In a letter dated Aug. 22, obtained by Bloomberg News, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli expressed concerns over the "potential financial and reputational risks associated with McDonald's chicken welfare practices." DiNapoli was writing in his capacity as trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the third-largest public pension fund in the U.S. and—as of July 31—holder of more than $300 million in McDonald's stock. The warning, addressed to McDonald's Chairman Enrique Hernandez, Jr. and CEO Stephen J. Easterbrook, follows a broad media campaign by the Humane Society of the United States, including a television ad running in McDonald's hometown of Chicago and a letter with 20 celebrity signatories. They all urge the restaurant giant to follow competitors such as Burger King and Subway in making "modest reforms" to its chicken welfare policies, including transitioning to more humane breeds and slaughter practices.

Whole Foods Takes Legal Action Against Berkeley Animal Rights Group

CBS | Posted on September 26, 2018

The Whole Foods grocery store chain is trying to turn the tables on animal rights protesters. Fed up with store take-overs, they are taking one East Bay group to court. Animal rights activists from the Berkeley-based group Direct Action Everywhere or DxE have been targeting Whole Foods for several years now. DxE alleges whole foods sources from farms that exercise animal cruelty.Demonstrations run the gamut from chicken funerals to sit-ins where they bring in cow crates to the activists interrupting a recent ribbon cutting at a Whole Foods in Silicon Valley.This week, Whole Foods fought back and a judge sided with them, issuing a restraining order against DxE for its Berkeley store.Whole Foods issued a statement on the group that read in part, “DxE members have repeatedly entered our stores and property to conduct demonstrations that disrupt customers and team members by blocking access to our aisles, departments, and cash registers, interfering with our business and putting the safety of both customers and team members at risk.”The injunction comes on the cusp of a week-long protest planned at the Berkeley Whole Foods store. On Friday, KPIX 5 saw organizers continuing to paint banners for the week ahead. They say that — despite the restraining order – they plan to show up anyway.