Daily Harvest -- 12/28/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: ASTA chief takes a look forward
- (Audio) American Seed Trade Association CEO Andy LaVigne says government regulatory systems can't keep up with plant breeding technology, with potential consequences for farmers and consumers; he also offers thoughts on recent company mergers.
Bismarck Tribune: New crop insurance boosts farm diversification
- Whole farm crop insurance became available in North Dakota this past growing season. No policies were sold, but the state Agriculture Department thinks more producers might find it useful as they learn more about it.
N.Y. Times: F.A.A. Drone Laws Start to Clash With Stricter Local Rules
- As the Federal Aviation Administration begins to assert its authority to regulate drones, local lawmakers contend the agency’s efforts do not go far enough in protecting privacy and public safety.
AP: Latino lawmakers look to USDA to address civil rights issues
- USDA is embarking on a partnership with universities across the country in hopes of infusing its ranks with more diversity as it faces civil rights complaints from Latino farmers and ranchers. But some members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are voicing frustration, saying the agency has been dragging its feet and has yet to adequately address their concerns.
Agri-Pulse: Highs and lows for ethanol in 2015
- (Audio) Renewable Fuels Assn. President and CEO Bob Dinneen reflects on mixed year: record production (reaching 1M barrels a day), for example, but tight margins.
Casper Star-Tribune: Wyoming posts unexpected growth in personal income, but bust persists
- Low oil prices propelled growth, with ag earnings increasing by about 65%, or $93 million, in the third quarter. The trend was mirrored in other Plains states. Nebraska and South Dakota both saw personal income rise by 2.2 percent for the quarter.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: USDA surveying beekeepers, farmers on health of honey bee colonies
- The surveys will be used to develop baseline data and additional goals for winter, summer, and total annual colony loss in support of the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.
AP: Chinese Medicinal Herbs Provide Niche Market for US Farmers
- Dwindling wild stands in China, as well as quality and safety concerns, could drive up demand for herbs grown in the U.S. Several states have set up "growing groups" to help farmers establish trial stands of the most popular plants, for a market that could be as large as $300 million a year.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Reuters: Wal-Mart considers closing 5 percent of Brazil stores: report
- Wal-Mart is thinking about closing more than two dozen stores and renting some of its property in Brazil next year, Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico reported on Wednesday, as the world's largest retailer looks to exit poor-performing markets.
N.Y. Times: Drought deepens South Africa's malaise
- The worst drought in more than a generation has gripped South Africa and other African nations as El Niño brings record high temperatures and low rainfalls across much of the continent. The full impact of the drought and resulting poor harvests will be felt only in the months ahead, but they have already left 29 million people in southern Africa without reliable access to food, according to the UN.
Wall Street Journal: From Cattle to Coffee, Farmers Weather Worst of El Niño
- Since May, El Niño has brought high temperatures and lower-than-normal rainfall to eastern Australia, Southeast Asia and India. Crop yields are down, including rice, the region’s staple food.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Pioneering Hoard's Dairyman Farm's problems resurface
- The farm's problems highlight manure's double-edged sword: It serves as a valuable nutrient on cropland, but can be a source of surface and groundwater pollution if handled improperly, or things go awry.
AP: Damage from sinking land costing California billions
- A canal that delivers vital water supplies from Northern California to Southern California is sinking in places. So are stretches of a riverbed undergoing historic restoration. On farms, well casings pop up like mushrooms as the ground around them drops.
Christian Science Monitor: Agriculture is big threat to water quality. These farmers are doing something about it.
- Phosphorus and nitrogen from manure and synthetic fertilizers are causing problems not only in the Midwest, but also in places like the Gulf of Mexico, where a “dead zone” has formed as big as Connecticut.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
AP: State agency says farm workers were coached on survey
- State officials say a survey on wage rates for farm workers appeared to be influenced by a business group’s “recommended answers” in an apparent attempt to keep standard minimum wages low.
Washington Post: Marco Rubio campaign haunted by past immigration stand
- Rubio's past support for comprehensive reform -- he has since renounced it -- was litigated before a national audience during a Dec. 15 televised debate. Since then, it has gained a deeper foothold in the daily campaign fray than ever before.
Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas Livestock Association endorses Huelskamp's challenger
- (We're running this again because when we ran it Dec. 24, we misspelled Rep. Tim Huelskamp's name.) "Kansas agriculture was without representation on the last Farm Bill after nearly a century of inclusion on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. It cannot risk another Farm Bill without having a voice,” said KLA president Matt Perrier in a news release.
Washington Post: Why we're losing foods we love, why it matters, and how we can stop it
- (Opinion) For millennia, we’ve made decisions about what to grow or not grow, and what to eat or not eat. But our ability to make those decisions — and indulge in our pleasures — is being compromised in ways that are unprecedented.
Reuters: Presidential hopeful Trump blasts Republican expected to endorse rival
- Trump assailed Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Sunday for backing Marco Rubio, also running for the GOP nomination.
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