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Agriculture News

By 2050, more than half of meat, dairy, and eggs in high-income countries could be animal-free.

Fast Company | Posted on November 8, 2018

By the end of the year, you may be able to walk into a restaurant and order chicken grown from chicken cells in a bioreactor rather than from an animal. It’s already possible to buy plant-based burgers more realistic than anything available in the past. It raises a question: What would it take to fully replace meat from animals? In a new book, The End of Animal Farming, Jacy Reese, the research director and cofounder of the nonprofit think tank Sentience Institute, argues that it’s something that could feasibly happen by the end of the century.Reese studied past shifts, such as how long it took women to get the right to vote and how long it took for cars to be widely adopted, and then made adjustments based on the difficulty of the problem, how motivated people are to tackle it, and what tools are available.Increasingly, he argues, people are aware of the giant environmental footprint of producing meat, and problems with factory farms. And now it’s becoming more practical to actually replace it.

Meet Mestic, the company that makes fabric out of cow poop

The Next Web | Posted on November 8, 2018

Would you wear a shirt if the label said it was made of shit? Chances are you’re currently wearing something made of cotton. Ever since the fifth millennium BC, people have used the natural fiber derived from the cotton plant in textile production, and it’s now an enormous industry. Currently, the plant is growing on about 2.5 percent of the world’s arable land to supply the world with 25 million tons it uses every year. Cows are famous for having four stomachs (in fact, they have one, consisting of four compartments, but whatever right) to be able to digest tough grass. One way to look at this is that they’re eating grass, extracting the nutrients they need to survive, and dropping waste.Another way would be to see that they’re ingesting a rough source material that’s high in cellulose content, taking out all the material useless to textile production, and producing a base material that mostly consists of the cellulose needed.Jalilia Essaidi developed a method to turn cow manure into cellulose fiber. “Our solution turns an acute agricultural problem of waste into a sustainable source of raw material for the textile industry,” she told us. 


Winnowing farm programs

Ag Policy | Posted on November 8, 2018

The 2018 Farm Bill is being written in an intensely partisan environment. We see it in the campaign rallies, we see it in the ads on television, we see the results of partisanship in day to day interactions when neighbors are afraid to talk to each other if they are on opposite sides of the divide. That partisanship is clearly evident when it comes to the nutrition title of the farm bill where some want to make critical changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Program and others don’t. But when it comes to the commodity title, no partisanship is evident. Members of both parties are in agreement.Generally, that would be good news as members of both parties pull together to support farmers in their districts and states. But in this case, it is bad news because neither side has the best interest of crop farmers in mind. The enhancements that the leadership of the Congressional agriculture committees have generally agreed on will do little for farmers who soon will be facing reluctant bankers in tense discussions over 2019 farm operating loans.Right now, the three most important problems crop farmers are facing price, price, and price. Get the price near or above the full cost of production and the other farm challenges become manageable.The problem: no one in Congress wants to touch the price issue with a ten-foot pole. There is no farm income supplementation program that will provide farmers with the revenue they need to survive.Crop insurance won’t work. The lower the price goes, the lower the level of protection farmers are offered. ARC and PLC won’t work no matter how enhanced they are because even though the reference price is at historic levels, the payments will be paid on only a portion of production. And, that will not work for a large number of farmers.The trade supplementation program will not work. There is not enough money in the program to get farmers through one year, let alone multiple years.Any other kind of program that would shovel enough money to farmers to make them near whole would a) break the bank (federal budgetary limits), b) exceed the US Yellow Box limits under World Trade Organization rules, and c) result in the massive dumping of US crops on world markets at prices well below the full cost of production.Talk about trade disputes, supplementing US Farm income at the level needed would trigger more trade challenges than you can shake a stick at.

Scientists may have found the key ingredient for a universal flu vaccine, and it comes from llamas

Los Angeles Times | Posted on November 8, 2018

A team from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and their international colleagues have taken a major step toward the long-sought goal of developing a universal vaccine against influenza.First, they vaccinated llamas against a number of A and B strains of influenza. Then they took blood samples to collect the antibodies the llamas produced in response.Among them were four uniquely small antibodies that showed an ability to destroy many different strains of influenza. In a nod to their size and function, they called their creations “nanobodies.”From those multitasking little powerhouses, the researchers engineered a single protein capable of squeezing into spaces on a virus’ surface that are too small for most proteins. The resulting “multidomain antibody MD3606,” with its “impressive breadth and potency,” could confer protection against pretty much any strain of flu that nature could throw in humankind’s way, the study authors said.When they tested their intranasal formulation in mice, it quickly conferred complete protection against a raft of human flu strains adapted to mice. Those include A viruses, such as the H1N1 “swine flu” that touched off a global pandemic in 2009, and B viruses, which occur only in humans.Against H1N1, a dose of the experimental vaccine was shown to protect for at least 35 days — a span of time equivalent to more than a single flu season for humans.

Bayer Now Faces Roundup Issues at Home

Bloomberg | Posted on November 8, 2018

Germany’s Environment Ministry laid out a plan Tuesday for a step-by-step retreat from glyphosate, the weedkiller that has been a thorn in Bayer AG’s side since its $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto Co. The plan calls for a ban on the chemical, the active ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup herbicide, in areas that are environmentally sensitive or important for groundwater. The new rules would also make it tougher for farmers to use similar chemicals that kill a broad range of plants and insects, requiring them to reserve acreage for pesticide-free planting as well.

Canada joins support for gene editing

Western Producer | Posted on November 8, 2018

The Government of Canada believes gene edited crops can help farmers produce “safe and affordable food, feed, fibres, and energy in the 21st century.” The quote comes from a statement released in early November and was delivered during a World Trade Organization meeting.The United States and 12 other nations — Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Vietnam — issued a joint statement on agricultural applications of precision biotechnology.

Gene editing – boon or curse for the agriculture industry?

iam-media | Posted on November 8, 2018

Imagine if we could create crops that were more resistant to abiotic stresses (eg, drought, excessive watering, extreme temperatures, salinity and mineral (metal and metalloid) toxicity) or more nutritious; we could be able to solve the problem of food scarcity and malnutrition around the world. However, the extent to which gene editing could benefit this industry depends on how genetically modified (GM) food is regulated around the world.China – a country with nearly 19% of the world’s population and only 7% of the world’s arable land – does not allow for the cultivation of GM foods, except papaya and cotton. According to data published by the Ministry of Agriculture on 27 April 2013, as of 2010, China had grown 3.3 million hectares of the approved GM cotton and a few hectares of the GM papaya, while no other GM crops had been cultivated, according to the ministry.  The European Union also imposes strict requirements on approving and labelling GM foods, demanding a risk assessment for all new products before marketing and compulsory labelling.

Growing view is China will stretch soybean supplies until early Brazilian harvest

DTN | Posted on November 7, 2018

Archer Daniels Midland's chairman and CEO said Tuesday during an earnings call that it's possible China may not need to buy U.S. soybeans before early harvest arrives for Brazil's soybean crop.Juan Luciano, responding to an analyst's question about possible U.S. soybean exports to China in the next few months, said there remains a question of whether China will need to come in and buy U.S. beans before Brazil can start supplying with its new crop."The reality is the window is getting shorter, and China is finding ways not to use U.S. beans," Luciano said. Early harvest in Brazil could make it so China doesn't need to shift to the U.S., he added. "Maybe China will hold off buying beans until they can overlap with Brazil."Luciano's comment reiterates a similar take last week by Bunge Ltd. CEO Soren Schroder who also told analysts China has lowered protein inclusion in livestock meal and China could "wiggle through into new-crop supplies in Brazil" and supply themselves with Brazil and Argentina "without having to return to the U.S. in case there is no resolution to the trade situation."Those views come after USDA's office in China lowered China's overall soybean import estimate 9.5% to 85 million metric tons.

California makes cage-free hens a state law

AP | Posted on November 7, 2018

California voters overwhelmingly approved a measure Tuesday requiring that all eggs sold in the state come from cage-free hens by 2022. Proposition 12 also bans the sale of pork and veal in California from farm animals raised in cages that don’t meet the new minimum size requirements. That means the Golden State’s new rules will apply to farmers nationwide whose eggs, veal and pork are sold in California.Supporters say the measure is a big step toward more humane farming practices, while opponents say it is misleading and maintains cruel practices for animals.Dubbed the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act, Proposition 12 builds on an earlier ballot measure, Proposition 2, that passed in 2008 and banned keeping hens, calves and pigs in tiny cages so cramped they couldn’t stand up, lie down or turn around.The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says Proposition 12 would likely result in an increase in prices for eggs, pork and veal partly because farmers would have to remodel or build new housing for animals.It could also cost the state as much as $10 million a year to enforce and millions of dollars more a year in lost tax revenues from farm businesses that choose to stop or reduce production because of higher costs, the office said.

Paying for the privilege of milking cows

Farm and Dairy | Posted on November 7, 2018

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sadly, dairy farmers feel like they are living a flashback to 2016. Through September this year, the average Class III price plus the Federal Order 33 Producer Price Differential (the Statistical Uniform Price or SUP) is $15.03 per hundredweight (cwt.), which is exactly the average for all of 2016.Last year, 2017, provided a small measure of relief, with the SUP averaging $16.57.How much are you paying for the privilege of milking cows?Sadly, more cows and more milk in domestic and foreign markets, as well as a relatively strong dollar and uncertain policy, have wreaked havoc on milk markets. Controlling expenses continues to be an important factor in the search for short- and long-term profitability of dairy farms. The challenge continues to be controlling costs without negatively affecting production, reproduction, growth, animal and personnel welfare. With that in mind, regular review of overall costs is in order.