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Agriculture News

Farms a major source of air pollution, study finds

Science Daily | Posted on May 20, 2016

Emissions from farms outweigh all other human sources of fine-particulate air pollution in much of the United States, Europe, Russia and China, according to new research. The culprit: fumes from nitrogen-rich fertilizers and animal waste combine in the air with combustion emissions to form solid particles, which constitute a major source of disease and death, according to the new study.

Rabbits and skunks can pass bird flu to ducks | Posted on May 19, 2016

A government wildlife researcher has found that rabbits and skunks can become infected with the bird flu virus and shed it enough to infect ducks—offering scientists one more clue about how bird flu may move in the environment and spread between farms.

Service allows farmers to share machinery

Washington Times | Posted on May 19, 2016

He listed his combine on a new sharing website for farm machinery. Within weeks, he had wheat farmers in Colorado and Washington state lined up to lease his combine after he completes his own harvest this June. Uber offers a ride-sharing service and AirBNB gives folks a website to list and find lodging. Now, that same sharing economy mindset has come to the farm.

With those sharing platforms in mind, Kansas City, Missouri-based MachineryLink launched a machinery-sharing website.  “Over the past few years, we watched what was going on in sharing in other sectors of the economy and the dramatic impact it had,” said Ben Dye, MachineryLink’s vice president of sales. “We started looking at our customers.”  It hasn’t taken long for farmers to sign up - even quicker than Dye and others first envisioned. MachineryLink Sharing, as it is called, already has more than 1,300 growers signed up - those offering to share their equipment as well as those looking for a machine, Dye said.   The platform lists “tens of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment,” according to the company, which includes not only combines, but sprayers, tractors, drills and other ag machinery.

Alaska looks for Palmer slaughterhouse buyer, offers cheap lease

KTVA | Posted on May 16, 2016

The State of Alaska wants out of the meat processing business. Monday, the Division of Agriculture put out a request for proposals for a private operator to take over the Mount Mckinley Meat and Sausage Plant in Palmer.

Legislators have tentatively agreed to fund the state-run slaughterhouse for another year. The $2,047,500 doesn’t come from the state’s operating budget, but from the Agricultural Revolving Loan Fund, although it still needs legislative approval.  According to a press release from the Department of Natural Resources, the state is offering a five-year lease with an option to buy the plant. Rent for the first two years will be $1 per month. The Department said the low rent is necessary because the new operators will have to make major investments if they want to turn the money-losing plant around.

U.S. sugar beet farmers to grow record crop, unfazed by non-GMO trend

reuters | Posted on May 16, 2016

U.S. sugar beet farmers are expected to reap a record harvest next year, undeterred by a trend among some food manufacturers to favor their competitor, cane sugar that's not genetically modified (non-GMO), the government forecast on Tuesday.

In its first estimate for the upcoming season that starts on Oct. 1, U.S. farmers will harvest 5.09 million short tons (4.62 million tonnes) of sugar from beet, an all-time high and up slightly from 5.06 million tons, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast on Tuesday and data since 1959/1960.

The estimate indicates that beet farmers are remaining resolute even as food manufacturers shun GMO crops like their beet sugar.  Next year's rising beet production coincides with a 5-percent drop in cane production to 3.62 million tons due to the closing of a cane mill in Hawaii.

Farmland Value’s Declining on Lower Farm Income

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on May 16, 2016

The Farm Credit Administration says farmland prices continue to soften across the country, particularly in the Midwest. At a monthly meeting last week, the Farm Credit Administration Board heard a report on farmland values across the nation. The report says a third consecutive year of declining crop prices and reduced farm income is causing cropland values to soften. The decrease follows five years of double-digit price increases since 2009 for most Midwest states, with cropland values reaching record levels in 2014. The Federal Reserve Banks’ quarterly surveys of agricultural bankers found that for the fourth quarter of 2015, cropland values declined between two percent and six percent on average over the past year in the Midwest as well as in some Mountain states.

Religion not off-limits to animal rights activists

Wattagnet | Posted on May 16, 2016

It’s no secret that some animal rights activists are so passionate about their beliefs that people shouldn’t eat meat that they will try just about any avenue to try to convince others to adopt their way of thinking.

But until recently, I always thought religion was one area that couldn’t be touched.  I will come right out and say it without fear of offending: I am a Christian. However, I also respect the spiritual beliefs of others who follow other religions.  I never felt the need to justify to myself that it was O.K. to eat meat, but I always figured if I got into a debate about the morality of eating meat or raising animals for food production, and I knew that the person with whom I was debating was also a Christian, I could always go to Genesis 1:26, which essentially states that God said man is to have dominion over the rest of the animal kingdom. That should be good enough to convince someone whose faith is similar to mine that I am doing nothing wrong.

So it was interesting to find out that there is a movement in the animal rights community that tries to convince others that it is sacrilegious to eat meat.

Farm Debt Accumulating

Kansas CIty Fed | Posted on May 16, 2016

Farm sector credit conditions continued to deteriorate according to respondents of the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions. Bankers noted that poor cash flow prevented many borrowers from paying off loans from the previous year, causing them to carry outstanding debt into the first quarter (Chart 1). The share of farm borrowers in the Tenth District with more carry-over debt than a year earlier increased from 18 percent in 2015 to 29 percent in the last quarter. Moreover, bankers noted that more than 18 percent of loans made in the first quarter involved restructuring existing debt to meet short-term liquidity needs.

Taiwan opens market to US lamb after 13 years | Posted on May 16, 2016

For the first time since 2003, U.S. lamb and lamb products have regained access to Taiwan, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. U.S. lamb lost access to several key markets, including Taiwan, following the first U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in December 2003. The market closures were due to concerns related to scrapie, a disease similar to BSE. Asian markets that remain closed to U.S. lamb include Japan and South Korea.

Ohio moves to protect corn mazes, farm markets from lawsuits

Akron Beacon Journal | Posted on May 16, 2016

Farmers who run pumpkin patches, corn mazes and petting zoos say they can’t always stop an aggressive goat from chomping down on a visitor’s hand or prevent someone from stumbling in a field.

That’s why Ohio lawmakers have signed off on legislation shielding farmers with agritourism businesses from being sued when accidents happen.

Supporters of the measure expected to become law once it’s signed by the governor say it’s an acknowledgement that running a business that brings people onto a working farm poses risks not found in most places.