Daily Harvest -- 5/29/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: Bio and Agro-Defense facility finally breaks ground in Kansas
- (Audio) A groundbreaking held this week in Manhattan, Kansas, brought together the Dept. of Homeland Security and the Dept. of Agriculture for a new national Bio and Agro-Defense facility, which has been years in the making already.
Yahoo News: Texas deluge delays cotton planting, crop insurance deadline looms
- The historic rains that have hit Texas this month, causing deadly flooding in parts of the state, have delayed cotton plantings, kindling concerns about next season's crop in the top growing U.S. state.
Wall Street Journal: FCC Proposes Internet Subsidy for Low-Income Users
- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday proposed helping low-income consumers with the cost of broadband Internet access through a program that subsidizes phone bills.
Des Moines Register: Water Works nitrate removal hits record 111 days
- The Des Moines Water Works said Thursday it has run its nitrate removal facility a record-breaking 111 days this year, outpacing the 106 days the equipment was needed in 1999.
Wall Street Journal: Many Mines Put Up for Sale, but Buyers Are Scarce
- The rut is caused by a commodity price rout with little sign of recovery, low-quality assets on the block and a focus on shareholder returns—not acquisitions—from industry giants like BHP Billiton PLC and Rio Tinto PLC.
ABC News: Huge Drop in West Virginia Coal Production Forecast
- University researchers predict that state coal production will drop 39 percent compared with the industry's last high point in 2008 — less-than-encouraging news for more than 1,800 coal miners who learned last week they would likely lose their jobs.
Washington Post: April US mine inspections result in 107 citations
- Federal inspectors issued 107 citations and one order at U.S. mine operations in April.
Wall Street Journal: Big Subsidies Make Solar Power Attractive for Home Developers
- Sacramento developer Mark Wiese added solar-battery systems to a 34-home project his Pacific Housing Inc. built “to create sizzle.” Now he aims to put the green solution into a 91-home development for lower-income buyers.
Business Insider: Russia's Gazprom says Ukraine's total gas debt is $29.5 billion
- Russian natural gas producer Gazprom put Ukraine's total gas debt at almost $29.5 billion on Thursday, ratcheting up pressure in a gas pricing dispute with the country, which is fighting a pro-Moscow rebellion on its eastern outskirts.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: Experts debate effectiveness of Dietary Guidelines
- (Subscriber only) Are the Dietary Guidelines for Americans the best way to suggest healthy eating or are the goals of the program too lofty? Those questions are under debate with statistics indicating that 30 years of federally funded dietary advice, symbolized recently by the MyPlate icon, appear to have had little effect on consumers.
Al Jazeera: Big Food’s no-additives push is misdirection
- (Opinion) Public health issues Americans face will not be resolved by Big Food’s piecemeal and arbitrary decisions to remove artificial colors and flavors, which are often made for PR reasons. These changes simply divert attention from the fact that many of these companies’ offerings remain unhealthy.
Wall Street Journal: Sanderson Farms Profit Soars But Falls Short of Expectations
- Sanderson Farms Inc. said Thursday that its profit rose 40% in the first quarter, as the chicken company benefited from lower grain prices and increased demand for its poultry products.
Washington Post: Washington farmers are dumping unprofitable apples
- A record crop of apples, coupled with the West Coast port slowdown earlier this year, is taking a toll on Washington apple growers. Nearly $100 million worth of apples that cannot be sold have been dumped into fields across central Washington.
Fortune: You may soon be able to buy Amazon-branded milk, cereal and baby food
- The e-commerce leader is planning to add food to its fledgling line up of house labels, a move that seeks to capitalize on customers’ growing acceptance of store brands and its grocery delivery service.
New York Times: In Omaha, Farmers and Chefs Are Good Together
- Farm-to-table dining starts with the farm, so that’s where this story will begin.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Agri-Pulse: USDA expects lower U.S. farm exports
- USDA reduced its fiscal 2015 forecast for agricultural exports to $140.5 billion and cut its estimate of imports to $117 billion, which would still be the highest ever.
Reuters: Food supply fears whet appetite for Dutch farm technology
- One of the most densely populated countries in the world, the Netherlands has long learnt to squeeze the maximum out of its limited farmland, making it the second-largest agricultural exporter after the United States.
Wall Street Journal: Number of African Countries Facing Severe Food Shortages Doubles
- The number of African countries facing severe food shortages has doubled over the past two decades, as extreme weather conditions, natural disasters and insurgencies disrupt farming across the continent, aid agencies said on Thursday.
Wall Street Journal: Canada Faces Export Dilemma
- Some argue Canadians’ historic focus on resource extraction keeps the country prosperous. Others say Canada should diversify its exports to reduce dependence on commodities, which are prone to volatility.
Washington Post: Kazakhstan’s ecological mystery: Why have over 100,000 saiga antelopes died in just a few weeks?
- A species that lived alongside Wooly Mammoths during the last Ice Age has begun dying en masse. In just a few weeks, starting around May 10, almost 121,000 carcasses have been counted.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Agri-Pulse: Forest Service, BLM release proposed plans for greater sage-grouse protection
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) released 14 final environmental impact statements today that will guide the agencies as they complete final land management plans that could help prevent an Endangered Species Act listing of the greater sage-grouse.
Washington Post: Republican Wyoming on board with federal sage grouse policy
- Many Republicans are wary of a large federal effort to protect the greater sage grouse — but not the Republican governor of Wyoming, the state with the biggest share of the birds and more energy development in their habitat than any other.
Daily Progress: EPA plans temporary pesticide restrictions while bees feed
- If honeybees are busy pollinating large, blooming croplands, farmers wanting to spray toxic pesticides will soon have to buzz off, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing.
Star Tribune: Scientists say plastic pollution in Great Lakes poses problems beyond cluttered beaches
- About 80 percent of human-made debris found in the Great Lakes is plastic, ranging from tiny micro-beads found in cosmetics and clothing fibers to bottles and plastic wrap, scientists said Thursday during a meeting of Great Lakes scientists being held at the University of Vermont.
Washington Post: California’s largest lake is slipping away amid an epic drought
- What is happening in the Sonoran Desert perfectly illustrates the fight over water in the West, where epic drought has revived decades-old battles and the simple solutions have all been tried.
LA Times: Hopes rise for a strong El Niño to ease California drought
- Elusive signs of unpredictable El Niño weather phenomenon grow in number, offering a glimmer of hope after more than three years of extreme drought.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Wall Street Journal: Port Truckers Revive Drive for Employee Status
- As contract negotiations between West Coast dockworkers and their employers slowed to a crawl late last year, another group of cargo-moving workers was growing increasingly restless.
Politco: Obama not taking immigration fight to Supreme Court, yet
- The Obama administration has decided not to ask the Supreme Court for an emergency stay on a judge’s injunction blocking President Barack Obama’s newest executive actions on immigration, opting to instead focus on the larger underlying legal battle.
LA Times: Scaled-back immigrant healthcare bill clears key fiscal panel
- A sweeping measure to offer state-subsidized healthcare coverage to people in the country illegally was significantly pared back Thursday in an effort to rein in costs as it cleared a key legislative hurdle.
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