A Florida county has cleared the way for the first U.S. test using genetically modified mosquitoes to fight against the species that spreads Zika virus. Monroe County, Florida, voted to allow a test of GMO mosquitoes created by the British biotech company Oxitec. Oxitec has created genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, adding genes to the same insects that transmit Zika virus. The GMO variety passes on genetic traits to their offspring that cause them to die in the wild, dramatically reducing the overall population of the mosquitoes. They have conducted tests in the Cayman Islands, Panama and Brazil and have wanted to do a test run in the U.S. since 2010.
Indiana voters have approved a constitutional amendment to protect the right to hunt and fish. The amendment states that the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject only to laws prescribed by the General Assembly. Hunting and fishing are popular in Indiana. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates Indiana has about 392,000 hunters and about 801,000 anglers. The amendment's author, Republican Sen. Brent Steele, says he wants to ensure animal rights groups do not endanger those rights.
Montana’s Initiative 177 was soundly rejected by voters in the Gem State on the Nov. 8 ballot. The initiative would have banned trapping on all public lands, including city and county parks, municipal golf courses and more.
Donald Trump blames Mexico and China for stealing millions of jobs from the United States. He might want to bash the robots instead. America has lost more than seven million factory jobs since manufacturing employment peaked in 1979. Yet American factory production, minus raw materials and some other costs, more than doubled over the same span to $1.91 trillion last year, according to the Commerce Department, which uses 2009 dollars to adjust for inflation. That’s a notch below the record set on the eve of the Great Recession in 2007. And it makes U.S. manufacturers No. 2 in the world behind China. Trump and other critics are right that trade has claimed some American factory jobs, especially after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and gained easier access to the U.S. market. And industries that have relied heavily on labor — like textile and furniture manufacturing — have lost jobs and production to low-wage foreign competition. U.S. textile production, for instance, is down 46 percent since 2000. And over that time, the textile industry has shed 366,000, or 62 percent, of its jobs in the United States. But research shows that the automation of U.S. factories is a much bigger factor than foreign trade in the loss of factory jobs. A study at Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research last year found that trade accounted for just 13 percent of America’s lost factory jobs. The vast majority of the lost jobs — 88 percent — were taken by robots and other homegrown factors that reduce factories’ need for human labor.
Exactly how President-elect Donald Trump's policies will affect agriculture remains virtually unknown, a group of panelists said at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual convention here the morning after Election Day. There are a number of questions to be answered that are critical to agriculture. That includes who will be the next secretary of agriculture, what happens with the next farm bill, the fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and trade policy in general, the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and the fate of the waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule. Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, said when it's all said and done, he believes trade issues will be what carried the day for Trump in rural America. "I think this is a big deal in this election," he said. "Farmers Union is in a different position than other agriculture groups in that we have been skeptical of what we hear about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Fundamentally, Trump has antipathy for trade agreements. We think we've done not a very good job with these trade agreements. I would say a lot of agriculture and farmers are in support of TPP, but that's not necessarily so for others in rural areas." In addition, Johnson said a "regulatory malaise" coming from Washington, D.C. -- including the WOTUS rule -- motivated rural America to vote for Trump. In general, he said, farmers are tired of what they perceive is an elite ruling class in D.C. handing down a bevy of regulations.
This first of a three-part introspective series for communities takes a serious look at why Iowa's rural population continues a downward spiral and the personal responsibility we all have to grow. The article was originally published in the October, 2016 issue of "Iowa County," a monthly publication of the Iowa State Association of Counties. * Today's column is a "state of the state" of much of rural Iowa, and suggests questions and topics citizens should be discussing among themselves and with their elected officials. The accompanying pyramid emphasizes that most business/job creation takes place in new and expanding existing businesses, not on "chasing smokestacks." * The second will look at healthcare and what may be happening in your local hospitals and medical facilities, a sobering snapshot of rural healthcare in America. It will also share 10 solid strategies for rural to grow. * The final article commends collaboration by working together on public issues and opportunities with BIG vision. It describes the need to eliminate "silos," between organizations, agencies, departments, communities, and offers six markers of success. An illustration of what can happen when business ideas are supported -- or not -- concludes the series.
Charges of “terrible” trade deals, the shipping of jobs overseas and the dangers of globalization dominated the presidential campaign. But many states are aggressively courting foreign companies to boost and diversify their economies. “People make it too complicated,” said Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, a big proponent of foreign — especially Chinese — investment in his state. “Globalization is clearly a huge trend that’s been going on for some time and is only going to continue. If you want to be a strong economic engine … you have to engage.” In Snyder’s and other Rust Belt states, U.S. manufacturers left behind willing workforces and abandoned buildings when they departed. In California, foreign tech giants and pharmaceuticals are tapping a supply of skilled workers and access to North American markets. Many states and regions are looking for foreign investors as a way to boost economic growth. At the same time, there is increasing interest among overseas firms in investing in the relatively stable U.S. economy
For wildlife in Oregon, the best way to stay alive is to make sure someone wants to kill you. If the state can make money selling a fishing license or a hunting tag for an animal, it goes to great lengths to keep populations healthy. Teams of biologists collar hundreds of mule deer with tracking devices that cost almost $1,000 each. State police fly planes over wilderness in the dead of night searching for poachers. In one recent four-year span, Oregon spent upwards of $37 million to improve habitat for mule deer. But for the Western pond turtle, a candidate for the endangered list, the state’s longest-running survey amounts to one man with some homemade gear in the back of his truck.
The impact of illegal immigration on jobs is significant in agriculture and construction industries, with the undocumented workers taking a "disproportionate share," including over a quarter of all farm jobs, according to a new analysis of federal data. Illegals make up about 5 percent of the total U.S. workforce, but because far more are younger and of working age than the overall population, they have an outsized impact on jobs, according to the analysis from the Pew Research Center.
Production agriculture is literally “white as snow.” Farmers of color have been gone for at least two generations. People of European ancestry have thrived on the Plains since the mid-1800s, and their productivity has only been matched by that of similar white settlers who moved from Europe to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Steve King, an Iowa Congressman, took a lot of heat for declaring that white people have contributed more to the advancement of human civilization than any other “sub-group” of people. Although it was politically insensitive to say, in agriculture, he was right. That doesn’t mean diversity is not coming. Agribusiness is already diversifying for one simple reason: There are not enough farm-raised kids to supply the needs of corporate America. Rural youth have been one of the most attractive “subgroups” in modern times as the work ethic taught by farm life combined with their parents’ desire for each generation to be educated and excel has resulted in most rural youth seeking careers off the farm. It is often pointed out that our most valuable farm export has been our children. But the well is running dry. DuPont/Pioneer says only 10 percent of its new hires come from a farm background.