READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 21st…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 21st…

CA Dairy Farmers Navigating Methane Reduction Bill

Dairy farmers in California now have more to consider in running their day-to-day operations. An article on Milk Business Dot Com says farmers face water issues, regulatory burdens, and the nation’s highest minimum wage. Farmers now must reduce methane emissions on their farms after Senate Bill 1383 was signed into law. Producers now have to reduce their methane emissions by 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. “Dairy farmers are wondering what it means for them and their dairies,” said Paul Sousa, Director of Environmental Services and Regulatory Affairs for the Western United Dairymen. Sousa says the only way dairymen can meet the regulations is to install a digester. Digesters are showing up on more than 200 farms throughout the nation despite their very high cost. California producers have time to meet the regulations. Sousa says the new law can only take effect on or after January of 2024 if the regulations are technologically and financially feasible. “This gives families seven years to prepare and to implement reductions voluntarily with incentive funding,” Sousa says. The state of California has $50 million dollars available to help farmers make those changes.  


Panera Makes Animal Welfare Pledge for Broilers

Panera announced it will be adopting practices outlined in the Global Animal Partnership’s Broiler Chicken Standard. A CNBC Dot Com article says the non-profit organization created a five-step program it says promotes effective animal livestock care. The Standard requires no cages or crowding crates be used on animal farms. It also requires outdoor access for animals, as well as pasture centered farms, which means animals are brought indoors during bad weather. The overall goal is to improve the environment of livestock on farms. Global Animal Partnership also wants no alterations to the livestock, including beak trimming, de-spurring, or toe trimming. Panera is the first chain to adopt these standards and wants more to follow them. The CEO of Panera says, “It is our hope that leadership by companies like Panera will continue to be a catalyst for animal welfare across the industry.” The company wants these standards in place by 2024.   


USDA Releases Local Food Marketing Survey Results

The National Ag Statistic Service released the results of its first-ever Local Food Marketing Practices Survey this week. Over 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through direct marketing practices. That resulted in $8.7 billion in revenue in 2015. Farmers who sold directly to institutions and intermediaries like wholesalers who would locally brand the product brought in the most money at $3.4 billion. Roughly 115,000 American farms sell their products direct to consumers, through on-farm stores or farmers’ markets. That segment of producers took in $3 billion in sales. A group of farmers also sold to retailers, pulling in $2.3 billion in profit. The top five states in direct food sales were California, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania led the nation in farms selling their products directly to consumers with over 6,000 operations. Only eight percent of U.S. operations were selling directly to consumers through an online market. The survey also concluded over 80 percent of all direct marketing food sales were made within 100 miles of the farm. Most farms selling to consumers were within 20 miles of their largest grossing marketplace.


Public Comment Period on GIPSA is Open

The comment period on proposed Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration rules is now open and runs for 60 days. The aim of the proposed rules is to protect poultry and livestock producers. The controversial rules would make it easier for producers to sue livestock companies and much harder for meat companies to cancel contracts with farmers. The rules would also give the U.S. Department of Ag more power to punish companies that have a track record of abuse. Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says the changes are designed to improve a system that the Obama Administration and some farm groups say has given meat companies the power to keep farmers in debt and destroy the livelihood of those who speak out against them. Meat and poultry groups across the country have called it the latest regulatory overreach for the Obama Administration. The National Pork Producers Council says the rules are an attack on rural America for playing a large part in helping Donald Trump get elected to the White House.” 


Avian Influenza Problems Continue in Asia and UK

A Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak is taking a toll on wild and domestic poultry flocks in Asia while another outbreak is just beginning in the United Kingdom. The outbreak has left authorities in Asian and European nations scrambling to deal with the disease and prevent further trouble. U.K. officials are now dealing with the first case that’s been recently found on the mainland. Japan is culling another 200,000 birds at a poultry farm after an outbreak killed another 30 birds. Japan had already culled over a half million birds in the last month. South Korea has already culled a record 16 million birds after a series of influenza outbreaks, representing a total of 20 percent of the nation’s flocks. Meating Place Dot Com says another 30,000 turkeys and ducks were culled last weekend in Germany after officials discovered another strain of the H5N8 influenza virus at two additional farms. Several reports in the United Kingdom this week confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza at a turkey farm. Threats of arrest and imprisonment are still in place to prevent the movement of poultry and eggs around the U.K.


Georgia Grower Wins Corn Yield Contest

Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy (dow-dee) took top honors in this year’s National Corn Growers Association 2016 Corn Yield Contest. Dowdy told Brownfield, “It’s not every day you get to announce you have 500-bushel corn.” He finished the year with 521 bushels per acre. Dowdy says farmers need to be students of the crop itself. “We have to control the controllable things,” he said, “and know what those things are. You have to walk the field and understand what stress is to a corn plant.” Once a farmer understands these things, Dowdy says the next thing is to figure out what to do to reduce stress on those plants. He says the key to better yield results starts with the plant stand, including, “how it emerges and how it comes out of the ground. It all has to come up at the same time.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service