Daily Harvest -- 2/24/2016
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse Daybreak Wednesday, February 24
- (Audio) USDA officials set to take hot seats in two House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee hearings today; the ag sector lines up behind Sen. Roberts’ biotech bill; and Vilsack voices concerns over Chinese bid for Syngenta.
Reuters: Tightening credit heralds more pain in U.S. farming downturn
- Tightening credit sends a clear message: the hard times are here to stay, and sacrifices are in order to avoid a future of forced land sales, farm equipment repossession and bankruptcies.
Washington Post: Number of Maryland farms shrinks in 2015
- The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in Annapolis says in a statement that the number of farms in Maryland in 2015 is estimated at 12,200. That’s 100 fewer than in 2014.
Grist: Investors flock to food and agriculture technology
- A new report from AgFunder found that in 2015, investors put $4.6 billion into food and farm technologies, up from $2.3 billion in 2014. That’s a good thing for the environment, mostly.
Agri-Pulse: Multiple markets help biogas compete in a cheap energy world
- (Subscriber only) Turning livestock manure into biogas isn't just for generating electricity any more.
New York Times: Bill Gates, the ‘Impatient Optimist,’ Lays Out his Clean-Energy Innovation Agenda
- Bill Gates answers questions about new energy investments and technologies, and how to engage young people in and around the clean energy sector.
Providence Journal: Providence’s Deepwater Wind also banking on solar power
- The Providence company that’s in the midst of building the first offshore wind farm in the United States is now working on a host of energy projects that are on land and have nothing to do with the wind.
Stevens Point Journal: Grants available for renewable energy
- USDA is offering grants to ag producers and some rural businesses to build renewable energy systems. Funding is available in three forms: grants of up to $20,000, grants of up to $500,000 and loan guarantees.
Huffington Post: Pakistan Parliament First In The World To Run Completely On Solar Power
- First announced in 2014, the $55 million solar project was funded by the Chinese government as an act of friendship.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: Senate GMO labeling bill in the works
- (Audio) On Thursday, the Senate Agriculture Committee will convene to mark up a GMO labeling bill, and the contents of that bill are still up in the air.
Des Moines Register: GMO labeling bill's fate lies with Democrats
- We “aren’t sure where Democrats stand on it yet,” Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters Tuesday. “It’s going to be very difficult to get it through the Senate if it isn’t bipartisan.”
ABC News: Polygamous Sect Leaders Facing on Food Stamp Fraud Charges
- Investigators say they noticed something strange when they began tracking food stamp transactions coming out of two small convenience stores in a polygamous community on the Arizona-Utah border.
LA Times: Mars recalls candy bars in 55 countries after plastic found in product
- U.S. chocolate maker Mars says it's recalling candy bars and other items in 55 countries after plastic was found in one of its products.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Nasdaq: Brazil Faces Double Squeeze of Inflation and Recession
- Soaring food prices helped drive the nation's inflation rate to a 12-year high of 10.84 percent in mid-February, the government said Tuesday. Unemployment is rising and fearful shoppers are cutting back on spending.
Associated Press: As Drought Hammers Countryside, Many in Haiti Go Hungry
- Last year’s crop yields in Haiti were the worst in 35 years – a country where more than two-thirds of people eke out a living from agriculture, many using archaic hand tools.
Reuters: Conflict and powerful companies stoke land disputes in Myanmar's Kachin
- The villagers say they were not consulted about plans to turn their land into grazing grounds and believe it was a ploy by officials who planned to profit from renting out 300 acres to a Chinese company for a banana plantation.
New York Times: Chinese Deals Feel the Chill From Washington
- As growth slows at home, more and more Chinese companies are looking to do deals in the United States. And they are increasingly running smack into the American national security apparatus.
Wall Street Journal: Stricter Alcohol Guidelines Rattle U.K. Booze Makers
- The United Kingdom is adopting some of the world’s strictest alcohol-consumption guidelines, triggering a wave of industry protest and fanning a decades-old debate about whether even a little alcohol can be bad for you.
Wall Street Journal: Line Them Up: ‘Crafty’ Expats Stir Up the Vietnamese Beer Scene
- The Vietnamese sure do love their beer. Beer makes up about 98 percent of the country’s alcoholic drinks industry, and in 2015, they consumed roughly 3.4 billion liters (nearly 900 million gallons) of it.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Live Science: 13 Dead Bald Eagles Prompt Investigation, $10,000 Reward
- The eagles were found in Federalsburg, Maryland, on Feb. 20, after a local resident reported seeing several of the dead birds in a field, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Maryland Natural Resources Police.
New York Times: A Danger to Our Grizzlies
- (Opinion) If dispersing bears are shot without restraint, chances of the species’ survival will be sharply lowered. Keeping federal protections in place is the best way to keep these great beasts alive.
Washington Post: Maryland sets bolder target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions
- Environmentalists call the new goal one of the nation’s strongest state requirements.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Purdue: US farm entrapments fall to lowest level in decade
- Grain bin entrapments and other confined space accidents on the nation's farms fell to their lowest level in a decade last year, a Purdue University study has found.
Colorado River Public Media: Farmworkers Need Suitable And Affordable Housing In Yuma County
- Affordable farmworker housing is in high demand in Yuma County, where up to 50,000 seasonal workers are employed annually. While there are some federal programs to help workers obtain housing, most of the pressure is on employers to provide housing.
Yakima Herald: Growers adapting to rules on rest breaks for ag workers; nuances of pay subject of discussion
- The nuances of how best to comply with the state Supreme Court’s decision remain unclear for some employers because of the varied ways harvest workers get paid, such as changing piece rates throughout the season or using productivity or retention bonus on top of hourly wages.
Washington Post: Alaska regulators to take applications for pot businesses
- A regulatory board in Alaska on Wednesday will begin accepting applications for marijuana business licenses — the next step in setting up the state’s legal pot industry.
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