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Agriculture News

Webinar - Unmanned Aircraft and Animal Agriculture | Posted on June 2, 2016

June 17, 2016 Webinar on unmanned aircraft and animal agriculture
Unmanned aircraft systems are rapidly becoming available to the public. Drones are a tool that can assist with many tasks, and animal agriculture is no exception. Drones can make tasks such as visual inspections, data collection, and small payload operations easier. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates drone use, and requires that drones weighing over 0.55 pounds be registered with the FAA. Before operating a drone, one should be familiar with the FAA guidelines and restrictions. An overview of the capabilities of drones, the potential for drone use in animal agriculture, and the current FAA regulations will be presented. An application for continuing education credit for Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) and members of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) has been submitted

Can Minnesota stop polluting its lakes, rivers?

MPR News | Posted on June 2, 2016

At the Capitol, lawmakers are divided on how far to go to fix the problems. Gov. Mark Dayton has made water quality an issue central to his legacy. He's pushed to boost the number of buffer strips along Minnesota lakes and rivers to help trap farm runoff, although he stepped back from some of those efforts amid pressure from some lawmakers and farm groups.  In southeastern Minnesota, about 45 minutes from Rochester, farming and water quality are regular topics for debate. Statewide, the Minnesota Department of Health has detected nitrate pollution in more than 8,000 new drinking water wells. More than 1,000 had nitrate levels deemed unsafe for infants and pregnant women. And there's a lot of bad news. In urban and farm areas less than half of the lakes are considered "fully" swimmable because of phosphate and bacteria contamination. Agriculture may be the biggest culprit, but it is not the only one. Leaking septic systems, mercury in rain and urban runoff also contribute.

Maryland to Become First State to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides for Consumer Use

Eco Watch | Posted on June 2, 2016

The bipartisan legislation would take neonicotinoids away from everyday consumers who spray their home gardens and trees with these harmful pesticides. They would not be able to buy neonic-products such as Knockout Ready-to-Use Grub Killer, Ortho Bug B Gon, All-In-One Rose & Flower Care, Lesco Bandit Insecticide from the thousands of hardware stores, garden centers, nurseries in the state that sell such products. Farmers and professional gardeners, who better understand how to apply the chemicals, are exempt from the law which will come into effect in the year 2018.

Farm Belt Banks Tighten the Buckle

Wall Street Journal | Posted on June 1, 2016

anks are tightening credit for U.S. farmers amid a rise in delinquencies, forcing some growers to turn to alternative sources of loans.  When U.S. agriculture was booming this decade, banks doled out ample credit to strong performers and weaker growers alike, said Michael Swanson, an agricultural economist at Wells Fargo & Co. But with the farm slump moving into its third year, banks have become pickier, requiring some growers to cough up more collateral and denying financing outright to some customers who need it to pay for seeds, crop chemicals and rent. Farmers this year have been grappling with low commodity prices, mounting debt and weaker incomes. With traditional bank loans harder to come by, farmers are turning to sources like CHS Inc., a large farmer-owned cooperative in the U.S., which operates grain elevators and retail stores across the Midwest. CHS said its loans to farmers increased 48% in both number and volume in the 12 months to March and have more than doubled since 2014.

N.D. UAS test believed to be world’s first

Agweek | Posted on May 31, 2016

What’s believed to be the world’s first test of its type using large unmanned aerial systems for agricultural data gathering in a public-private partnership took place at the Hillsboro (N.D.) Municipal Airport. John Nowatzki, the North Dakota State University agricultural machine systems specialist for the Extension Service, says a May 20 test was the first test of UAS vehicles for agricultural data gathering he’s heard of in the U.S. It is the first in the world, he says.  “We’re flying over large areas,” Nowatzki says, noting the footprint of the study corridor is 40 miles by 4 miles. The Extension Service preceded the tests with Steele and Traill county public meetings and notices, specifically to address privacy concerns.  The project uses the Hermes 450, a plane that weighs 1,200 pounds and has a 35-foot wingspan. The plane is owned by Elbit Systems of Haifa, Israel. It carries up to 400 pounds of equipment and can scan at 92 mph, using an internal combustion engine.

Long-Dreaded Superbug Found in Human and Animal in U.S.

National Georgraphic | Posted on May 31, 2016

The antibiotic resistance factor MCR, which protects bacteria against the final remaining drugs of last resort, has been found in the United States for the first time—in a person, and separately, in a stored sample taken from a slaughtered pig.  A 49-year-old woman who sought medical care at a military-associated clinic in Pennsylvania last month, with what seemed to be a urinary tract infection, was carrying a strain of E. coli that’s resistant to a wide range of drugs. That turned out to be because the organism carried 15 different genes conferring antibiotic resistance, clustered on two “mobile elements” that can move easily among bacteria. One element included the new, dreaded gene mcr-1.

SD cattle herd all killed by one lightening strike

Keloland | Posted on May 31, 2016

The Moody County Sheriff's Office said a single bolt of lightning killed 21 cows next to a metal bale feeder.

Written humane handling programs - robust or bust? | Posted on May 31, 2016

Can anyone imagine trying to manage and direct food safety, occupational safety, or human resources without the aide of written programs and associated recordkeeping in today’s highly regulated environment? The legal liabilities alone by not having written programs and recordkeeping are too numerous to count.  For those not too familiar with humane animal handling and the initial and critical steps of harvesting live animals, know that it’s a unique and expansive world within its own that can be fraught with daily surprises at nearly every rounded corner starting from the continuum of the delivery and unloading of animals, to hoisting, hanging, sticking and bleed-out stages of harvesting. This is one area of industry that can never have enough training and re-training of its employees.  Many people both in and out of industry are surprised when informed that FSIS does not have a statutory or a regulatory basis to require USDA harvesting establishments to have in place a formal written humane handling program, except for meat destined for the school lunch program.

Lenders will be cautious toward cage-free egg expansion

Watt Ag Net | Posted on May 31, 2016

A leading creditor for the egg industry predicts $6 billion of investment must be in order for the industry to meet cage-free demand in the coming years. This will challenge lenders and borrowers.  The switch will cost producers about $40 to $50 per bird, or about $6 billion in total to house the needed birds. Coit said about 40 percent of that amount is “net capital need” -- what the industry will need to provide up front -- and the rest is “debt financing” -- what will need to be borrowed. Coit said current market conditions will make lenders hesitant to dive in.

Indiana County Approves New Livestock Farm Zoning Regulations

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on May 31, 2016

A central Indiana county has approved new restrictions on livestock farms limiting where those farms can be built. The ordinance approved this week by the Bartholomew County commissioners takes effect immediately for concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.  CAFOs can be built no closer than a quarter-mile from schools, health care facilities and churches, and 500 feet from residential lots in areas zoned for agriculture. New farms must also be at least a 500 feet from any water well.