Daily Harvest -- 12/22/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: Farm Bureau survey seeks farmer feedback on USDA programs
- AFBF is asking farmers and ranchers about their experiences with 10 USDA programs administered by three agencies.
Sacramento Bee: California drought regulators move to ease restrictions for inland areas
- The proposal by the State Water Resources Control Board would also mean less onerous conservation mandates for California’s fastest-growing communities, as well as those that have created new “drought-resilient” water supplies for themselves through recycling, desalination or other means.
N.Y. Times: California Wants to Store Water for Farmers, but Struggles Over How to Do It
- The state is debating how best to save water that arrives between drought years and help its farmers without sacrificing the needs of its cities or the environment.
San Diego Union-Tribune: Genetic engineering’s new frontier
- In January, the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, Calif., will hold a workshop to discuss the ethics of genetic engineering. “The workshop itself will focus on insects, but not just insect-borne human diseases,” Robert Friedman, CEO of the Institute, said. “It will also focus on potential agricultural applications of gene-drive technologies.”
N.Y. Times: Gene Drives Offer New Hope Against Diseases and Crop Pests
- Biologists in the U.S. and Europe are developing a revolutionary genetic technique that promises to provide an unprecedented degree of control over insect-borne diseases and crop pests.
Reuters: Brent oil hits 11-year low as global supply balloons
- Demand for heating oil slumped on warmer-than-normal temperatures and traders tested for a bottom, as Brent oil cratered to its lowest price in more than 11 years Monday.
Energy Trends Insider: A congressional Christmas for energy industries
- An accounting of who in the energy industry got candy canes and sugar plums in their stocking, and who ended up with a lump of coal.
AP: U.S. power grid vulnerable to foreign hacks
- About a dozen times in the last decade, sophisticated foreign hackers have gained enough remote access to control the operations networks that keep the lights on, according to top experts who spoke only on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter.
AP: Renewable energy efforts stymied by transmission roadblocks
- Due partly to the intense opposition from local property owners, Missouri regulators have blocked the 780-mile-long Grain Belt Express power line from being built, highlighting one of the toughest challenges facing the nation as it tries to shift toward a greater reliance on renewable energy.
The Cannabist: Colorado pot grows used as much energy as 35,000 homes in 2014
- The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis industry is power-hungry, and growing marijuana indoors is hampering energy conservation efforts.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Dallas Business Journal: EEOC wins record settlement for former Texas-based Sara Lee factory workers
- Federal authorities are scheduled to announce Tuesday a record $4 million settlement for former Sara Lee factory workers based on allegations that the company’s Paris, Texas, plant subjected some of its black employees to a racially hostile work environment.
N.Y. Times: Chipotle E. coli cases rise, with 5 more ill in Midwest
- The CDC said five people who had eaten in two Chipotle restaurants in Kansas and Oklahoma grew ill after eating something contaminated with E. coli STEC O26. The agency has not yet determined which food is responsible for the outbreak.
Washington Post: The 10 best food cities in America, ranked
- The Post's food critic crisscrossed the United States this year, sampling iconic and inventive dishes. He started in Charleston, S.C., and ended in Washington, D.C.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Agri-Pulse: Congress will wait until next year to take on TPP
- (Audio) President Obama calls Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement "a huge win for American agriculture," says Speaker Paul Ryan "would like to try to get it done."
Agri-Pulse: Nairobi deal ends export subsidies, sets credit, aid rules
- (Subscriber only) The World Trade Organization's member countries have agreed to end export subsidies for agriculture and set rules for credit assistance and food aid. Some poor countries, however, would be allowed to continue subsidizing transportation costs for years.
Agriculture.com: Corn, soybeans decline on Argentina worries, end-of-year selling
- Corn and soybeans closed lower as fears of increased exports from Argentina trumped concerns about dry weather in Brazil.
Reuters: Zurich to buy U.S. crop insurer RCIS in $1 billion deal
- Zurich Insurance Group AG will pay up to $1.05 billion to buy U.S. agricultural crop insurer Rural Community Insurance Services from Wells Fargo & Co, the Swiss company said on Friday.
Bloomberg Businssweek: Why Asia Craves America's Pig DNA
- The sow headed to the Philippines boasts a strong family line. Her mother is a descendant of the late Wisconsin Steel, the champion boar at the 2009 Wisconsin State Fair.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Agri-Pulse: CSP: Taking Time to Get It Right
- (Opinion) NRCS Chief Jason Weller recently indicated that he believes that it would be beneficial to take additional time to field-test new tools developed to update the program.
L.A. Times: Wild bees are least abundant where they're most needed, study says
- The Central Valley's love affair with almonds and other orchard crops has left the area with a steep imbalance between wild bee populations and the need for the pollination services they provide, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Seattle Times: Feds barred from killing wolves in Washington
- Judges rules for conservation groups, finding that Wildlife Services in USDA did not adequately study the environmental impacts of killing wolves.
The Weather Channel: One third of world's arable land has disappeared
- Erosion and pollution have wiped out a third of the world’s farmable land over 40 years, researchers say. University of Sheffield professor of plant and soil biology Duncan Cameron says “a sustainable model for intensive agriculture could combine the lessons of history with the benefits of modern biotechnology.”
KSTP.com: Minn. agriculture officials see wolf attacks in new locations
- The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has received wolf attack claims from farmers who have lost livestock in new southern locations in the state.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
The (S.C.) State: Farmers, farm workers need more flexibility to create local food supply
- (Opinion) Co-chair of Midlands Food Alliance says that news that federal officials are investigating a local farm for allegedly hiring undocumented farm workers should call attention to the larger problem of a shortage of farm workers in South Carolina and across the nation.
AP: Michigan couple charged in probe of dairy farm labor
- A federal criminal complaint describes a four-year scheme that involved phony identification, "stash houses," shuttles between Michigan and Ohio and regular stops at a bank to cash nearly $2 million in paychecks.
Reuters: Caterpillar hit with $73.6 mln trade secrets verdict in U.S.
- A federal jury in Chicago on Friday awarded the damages to Miller UK Ltd, a British manufacturer whose case drew attention because the company funded its suit with financing from third-parties not involved in the dispute.
N.Y. Times: Lindsey Graham bows out of presidential race
- The S.C. senator had been stuck in single digits in the polls and failed to advance beyond the "undercard" in the debates.
Creighton Institute for Economic Inquiry releases latest surveys
- Creighton University's Rural Mainstreet Index, focused on the economics of a 10-state, agriculture- and energy-dependent region of middle-America, projects negative overall growth ahead for the third consecutive month in its November report, released Monday.
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