Daily Harvest -- 2/17/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: FAA releases proposed rule for commercial use of small drones
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today released its long-awaited proposal for regulations governing the commercial use of small, unmanned aircraft, or drones, including in agriculture.
Agri-Pulse: Open Mic with David Lyn, Sr. VP Farm Credit Mid-America
- (Audio) This week's guest on Open Mic is David Lyn, Senior Vice-President for Financial Services with Farm Credit Mid-America. Lyn believes the industry is better prepared than in years past to weather the financial downturn. Lyn says farmers are more dependent on crop insurance than ever before and he fears program changes could put more farmers at risk.
Agri-Pulse: USDA auditor requests funds for cyber security, improper payment fixes
- USDA Inspector General Phyllis Fong told House appropriators Friday that her office would focus on cyber security and improper payment challenges with its fiscal year 2016 budget request for $98.9 million.
Agri-Pulse: Cotton growers watching budget and trade issues
- (Audio) The president’s proposed budget included cuts to important programs for cotton producers, such as crop insurance and conservation, as well as a program that funds pest eradication activities.
Wall Street Journal: Port Delays Starting to Damage Businesses
- As employers at the ports along the West Coast on Monday refused to unload ships for the sixth day out of the past 10, their nine-month contract dispute with port workers is becoming a significant business problem.
Reuters: Small farmers hold the key to seed diversity: researchers
- Up to 75 percent of the seeds needed to produce the world's diverse food crops are held by small farmers, researchers said following a review of international census data.
Bloomberg: Canada Introduces Law to Force CP Rail Strikers Back to Work
- Canadian Labor Minister Kellie Leitch introduced legislation aimed at ending a two-day-old strike by Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. locomotive engineers and conductors, saying the walkout could have “lasting effects” on businesses across the country.
NPR: As Rules Get Sorted Out, Drones May Transform Agriculture Industry
- At farm shows across the country, drones have become as ubiquitous as John Deere tractors. The Colorado Farm Show earlier this year included an informational session, telling farmers both the technical and legal challenges ahead.
Salina Journal: Senate tax bill seen as knockout blow to some Kansas farmers
- A bill in the Kansas Senate that would cause property taxes on agriculture land to mushroom has farmers concerned about the wallop to their operations.
Des Moines Register: Monsanto nears its ‘largest biotech trait launch’
- To counter a “super weed” epidemic plaguing farmers, agribusiness giant Monsanto is steadily moving forward on the introduction of its next major wave of genetically engineered crops.
Reuters: From cattle to corn, crude oil dive ripples through farm economy
- The lowest energy prices since 2009, which have already benefited transport, retail and industrial companies, are giving farmers a boost just as the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts their incomes will plunge 32 percent this year.
The Hill: Iowa pumps ethanol to 2016 field
- The Hawkeye State’s political and agricultural leaders hope to make the renewable fuel and support for its federal mandate a bigger issue than it has ever been over the next year in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: U.S. companies pledge to build 20 GW of renewable energy in India
- The companies announced the plans at the beginning of India's first major renewable energy conference, where Modi's government is trying to drum up support from investors to reach a target of 100,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022, a 33-fold rise from today's level.
Reuters: EU launches pilot projects to leverage green energy spending
- European Union climate and energy bosses launched two projects on Monday designed to unleash more than a billion euros ($1.1 billion) of spending on measures to save energy and adapt to climate change.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: USDA deregulates GE non-browning apples
- USDA today announced its approval of two varieties of apples genetically engineered to resist browning by Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits.
Bloomberg: Chocolate’s Evolution to Luxury Status Cuts Cocoa Demand
- A dimming global economic outlook means that consumers are looking for ways to cut spending, and cocoa demand in 2015 will grow at the weakest pace in six years, Rabobank International predicts. At stake is the $114 billion that Euromonitor Plc estimates will be spent globally on the sweet treat this year.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Agri-Pulse: West Coast port situation getting serious for agriculture
- (Audio) The labor dispute of West Coast ports is really starting to hurt agriculture. With 29 ports up and down the West Coast impacted by the slowdown, American Farm Bureau Federation trade specialist Dave Salmonsen said the cost to agriculture is being estimated at more than $1.7 million each month.
Agri-Pulse: Canada confirms new mad cow case
- The Canadian government said a case of mad cow disease has been confirmed in a beef cow in Alberta, but said no part of the animal entered the human or animal food supply.
Reuters: Modernizing China's agriculture key to tackling slower economy: Premier
- Modernizing Chinese agriculture will help in countering slower economic growth by driving investment in rural infrastructure and boosting consumption, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said.
Wall Street Journal: CFTC to Propose Swaps Anonymity
- U.S. regulators are poised to introduce measures that would ensure anonymity for traders in the $700 trillion market for swaps, said people familiar with the discussions, a flip-flop that would hand a victory to hedge funds and speedy trading firms while dealing a blow to banks.
Bloomberg: Putin’s Paradise Becomes Economic No-Go Zone Where Cash Is King
- International banks like UniCredit SpA, credit cards like MasterCard and Visa, global brands like McDonald’s -- all vanished with Russia’s adventurism in Ukraine and seizure of Crimea. In their place has come a cash-only society of runaway inflation, chronic shortages and growing anxiety over the conflict. Even Russian companies are staying away.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Agri-Pulse: Public land could provide path to pollinator health, industry says
- (Subscriber only) While environmental groups are putting pressure on the EPA to rein in agricultural chemical companies on the production and use of neonicotinoids, agricultural entities are encouraging government agencies to work with beekeepers in providing access to federal- and state-owned land with healthy forage for pollinators.
Agri-Pulse: Opinion: Bruce Knight: The best kept secret
- The 2015 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) will cover up to 7.7 million new acres and provide $100 million to participating farmers. But you only have until February 27 to sign up to be part of this year's program. Of course, you can fill out the paperwork at any time, but to be considered for funding this year, you must move quickly.
Sacramento Bee: State’s population growth expected to outstrip water conservation in coming years
- California water agencies are on track to satisfy a state mandate to reduce water consumption 20 percent by 2020. But according to their own projections, that savings won’t be enough to keep up with population growth just a decade later.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Washington Post: Federal judge in Texas blocks Obama immigration orders
- A federal judge in Texas last night temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s executive actions on immigration. The judge, responding to a suit filed by 26 Republican-run states, did not rule on the legality of immigration orders but said there was sufficient merit to the challenge to warrant a suspension while the case goes forward.
Los Angeles Times: Improving conditions for Mexican farmworkers: The how is the trick
- Some of Mexico's largest export farms have acted in recent weeks to improve conditions for farmworkers — installing toilets and beds, reforming pay methods and ousting stores from labor camps that charge inflated prices to a virtually captive clientele.
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