Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Federal judge orders destruction of sugar beet stecklings

A federal judge has ordered the destruction of the current root stock for producing biotech sugar beet seeds.

In a ruling issued late Tuesday, Judge Jeffrey White ordered that the root stock, also known as stecklings, be "removed from the ground." The order doesn't take effect until Dec. 7, according to White's ruling.

The stecklings would have been replanted in early 2011, to eventually produce seed for the 2012 beet crop.

Check back for more details.

Friday, November 26, 2010

'Help your neighbor, not a turkey'

Alyson Cunningham writes in the Salisbury, Md., Daily Times:

For the last five years, Marissa Filderman has adopted a turkey for Thanksgiving.

But she's never interested in raising the feathered fellow.

The 24-year-old vegetarian is focused on saving that turkey from its inevitable holiday fate.

So each year, she adopts a foul from Farm Sanctuary, an organization which rescues abused farm animals and works to stop and expose cruel farming practices with shelters in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif.

Around Thanksgiving, the sanctuary has a special turkey fundraiser that allows people to sponsor a turkey for $30 or a flock for $180.

According to the Farm Sanctuary's website, the organization has saved more than 1,000 turkeys in 24 years.

It's all too much for Troy Hadrick at Advocates for Agriculture, who responds:

As we approach Thanksgiving we think about all the things we are thankful for. Our family is thankful for the food we have to eat. But for too many families there isn’t much food to be had for the holidays. It makes it even harder to accept when we have people in our society giving money to animal rights groups to feed turkeys when that money could be used to feed their neighbors. Please support your local food banks so those less fortunate than you can enjoy Thanksgiving rather than a turkey.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving tradition

A poem by Denny Banister of Jefferson City, Mo., the assistant director of public affairs for the Missouri Farm Bureau:

Tradition is tradition, often difficult to explain,
We do it because we do it, not to would be insane.
Nationalities, races and religions have traditions they must follow,
Without traditions, traditional times would be meaningless, void and hollow.

Americans each year at Thanksgiving have a traditional Thanksgiving feast,
The traditional meat served is turkey, we don't feast on just any beast.
How did the turkey gain its place on our traditional Thanksgiving table?
Because that's what the pilgrims feasted upon according to fact and fable.

Now we've all heard how they hunted the bird, but I know the real rendition,
Our forefathers’ gunpowder was damp that day, they were hunting with bad ammunition.
Don't laugh, you'll have to prove me wrong, but that's what I'm here to say,
Our forefathers couldn't have shot a buck - their buckshot was damp that day.

The men marched forward toward the woods, their ranks had one addition,
They took along an Indian scout, you guessed it - it was tradition.
The women all proudly waved good-bye as their protectors left to go hunting,
Then prepared the table for the feast, trimmed with doily, napkins and bunting.

It's a good thing women are blessed with women's intuition,
This first feast had to be done just right or we'd be stuck with unpalatable tradition.
They didn't know what their pilgrim husbands would bring home for the main dish,
So they fixed foods that would go just as well with partridge, venison or fish.

They created something called dressing made from bread a day old,
They had no intention of starting a fad, they just didn't want it to mold.
Meanwhile deep in the forest, our hunters were being harassed,
By the Indian scout who mocked their skills - the pilgrims were very embarrassed.

One spotted an elk, took careful aim, pulled back the trigger - CLICK!!
They discovered damp gunpowder would not fire, the realization made them sick.
What could they have for their Thanksgiving feast, on what would they that night sup?
One of the lads said, "Let's stew our shoes, I'm famished - I'll gobble it up!!!"

They were in no mood for jokes, and one of the blokes flung his musket into the field,
Just as old Tom Turkey, who heard the "gobble" jumped up - his fate was sealed.
What senses he had were knocked out that day, the turkey was plucked stuffed and roasted,
In exchange for his silence the Indian was fed while the hunters exaggerated and boasted.

They truthfully said they didn't fire a shot, they had no need for ammunition.
That's why today we raise turkeys on farms - to shoot them would break with tradition.
The producers of food from the Missouri Farm Bureau want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving,
As to the quality of my poetry, what can I say - it's a living.

So Banister's poetry isn't the greatest, I did as good as I could,
I was inspired by one of the very best, but Charles, I'm not nearly Os- Good.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The AgChat Foundation is urging people today to express their gratitude for those who provide food in a tweet, Facebook entry, video or blog post. People are encouraged to use the hashtag #foodthanks. It's part of the foundation's effort to let the public get to know farmers through social media.

For our part, we at the Capital Press are thankful for our readers who support what we do. I'm thankful to live in a country that produces such an abundance of foods and other goods, with more than 100 different crops grown in my state and many more grown in other states. I'm also thankful that people in big cities are rediscovering the value of agriculture through the local food movement.

Most of all, I'm thankful to work for a company full of good, down-to-earth people who do their darnedest to capture ag's story every week, and every day on our Web site. May everyone be so fortunate.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Report: Freeze coming to California orange groves

Alex Sosnowski, senior expert meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, reports:

AccuWeather.com reports the stormy, snowy weather pattern underway in the West will culminate with a mid- to late-week freeze over California's San Joaquin Valley, home to many orange groves.

Temperatures over the lower part of the valley, where most of the groves are located, will dip into the middle 20s at the core of the cold air.

The cold will challenge record low temperatures in the region which are generally in the upper 20s to near 30 degrees. Lows this time of the year tend to average near 40 degrees.

The lowest temperatures are forecast to occur late Wednesday night into Thanksgiving Day morning, when several hours of below-freezing temperatures can occur in areas between Porterville and Bakersfield.

According to Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler, "Low temperatures in some of the groves may dip as low as 24 degrees Thursday morning."

"Temperatures could also dip into the upper 20s for a few hours late Thursday night into Friday morning," Mohler added.

While near-freezing temperatures are also forecast for the lower San Joaquin Valley Monday night and Tuesday night, it would only be for a very brief time and damage is not expected.

The magnitude of the cold air is very unusual so early in the season.

"You are much more likely to see a freeze like this late in December, rather than late November," Mohler said.

The groves in the region are known for their table oranges, but also a small amount of juice oranges are grown in the area as well.

"Lemons, grown farther south in California, will also be hit with freezing temperatures for a few hours late in the week," according to Western Weather Expert Ken Clark.

Clark added, "These areas are likely to experience low temperatures in the upper 20s Thursday morning and again Friday morning."

Interests in the orange and lemon grove regions are advised to take protective measures or risk damage.

Monday, November 22, 2010

With friends like these ...

Western ranchers, you have a new ally in your push to end the federal ethanol subsidies that many believe contribute greatly to escalating input costs. Want to know who it is?

Wait for it.

Wait for it ...

Al Gore.

"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Reuters quoted Gore saying of the U.S. policy that is about to come up for congressional review. "First-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.

"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president," the wire service reported Gore saying.

Of course, never mind that he thinks emissions from your livestock are destroying the planet. He'll help you cut your feed costs, at least.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Is corn-fed beef better for the environment ...

... than grass-fed beef?

Washington State University's Jude Capper makes the case on the Fox Business Channel.

GIPSA would affect the poultry industry, too

So asserts the National Chicken Council, which reports:

Proposed new regulations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will cost the broiler chicken industry more than $1 billion over five years in reduced efficiency, higher costs for feed and housing, and increased administrative expenses, according to a study released today by the National Chicken Council.

And that doesn’t even count the potential costs of litigation, lost export sales, and increased consumer prices, according to the study by FarmEcon LLC, an agricultural economics consulting firm.

“The proposed rule changes are likely to slow the pace of innovation, increase the costs of raising live chickens, and result in costly litigation,” wrote Thomas E. Elam, president of FarmEcon. “Higher costs would put upward pressure on chicken prices, and economic theory strongly suggests that consumers would ultimately bear most of these costs.”

For one thing, GIPSA would complicate chicken companies' ability to pay premiums to their contract growers for efficiency, an official from the NCC told me.

For my story on this, check back to the Capital Press Web site soon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The values of rural voters

This week's Capital Press editorial explains why rural voters largely rejected the Obama-Reid-Pelosi triumvirate.

A snippet:

People who wager their livelihood on the weather and the markets each growing season don't run scared every time the economy tanks. They deal with the issues up close and personal every day, and they have a clear understanding of the facts.

They are not against government. Even the most conservative farmer or rancher understands that there are a few big things government does well -- defense, air traffic control and law enforcement, for instance. They are against a big, intrusive government that reaches into the smallest aspects of their lives.

They resist unreasonable rules and regulations formulated by unelected and unseen functionaries. They resent the patronizing paternalism of the nanny state.

Rural voters are unwilling to surrender their independence. They don't want a government that dictates what they should eat, what they should think, what they should do with their own property. They are tired of the arrogance of a ruling class that assumes Washington bureaucrats know better than the rest of us how we should live.

The elite might say it's simplistic, but farmers and ranchers really do expect a legislator to read and understand those 2,000-page pieces of legislation before voting "yes." It's just common sense.

The upshot:

Many farmers and ranchers still unapologetically believe in America's exceptionalism. To them this is still a special place, where great things happen. It's a country where people of the most humble origins can make something of themselves if they are willing to work hard. They believe in providing a helping hand to those in need, but balk at creating ever larger groups dependent on entitlements.

Farmers and ranchers are the epitome of individual responsibility and self-reliance. Faith in themselves, and in the grace of God, drive them to plant the next crop, raise their families and provide stewardship for the resources in their care. And rather than bitterly clinging to these values, they happily embrace them as the guiding force of their lives.

Candidates who hold similar values earn their support.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This has to stop!

Into my in box this morning:

I felt a real need to forward this to you and ask you to do the same.... Please don't misread my intentions. I am in NO way in agreement with any type of gun control, but after seeing this..I am, unfortunately, in agreement that something needs to change...

If you agree with this please send to the powers that be. Hope we can stop it.

While I always agree that hunting is an ethical God given right, we think that we would have to agree with the author on this one. Fox hunting in Colorado should be banned!

Please help ban fox hunting in Colorado ~


Peter Cottontail
Bugs Bunny
The Easter Bunny

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Call-in show to discuss GIPSA rule

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is hosting a live call-in show to discuss the proposed GIPSA rule beginning at 5:30 p.m. today on RFD-TV.

Here is the press release:

Discussion on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed rule on livestock and poultry marketing has created controversy in the agricultural industry. National Cattlemen's Beef Association's (NCBA) television program, Cattlemen to Cattlemen, is hosting a live episode Tues., Nov. 16, featuring numerous experts explaining the impact of the rule, proposed June 22 by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, on the cattle industry. The show will provide an opportunity for viewers to ask questions and express their own opinions.

Panelists for the live call-in show, to be broadcast on RFD-TV from the NCBA’S Cattlemen to Cattlemen studios in Denver starting at 8:30 p.m. EST, will include Allie Devine, vice president and general counsel for the Kansas Livestock Association; Stephen Koontz, associate professor at the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University; David Hunt, a Colorado feedyard operator; Robbie LeValley, president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and co-owner of Homestead Meats; and Colin Woodall, NCBA vice president of government affairs. Viewers can ask questions to these panelists live on the air by calling: 1-888-824-6688.

Among the program’s specific topics will be studies that outline the economic impact on the beef industry if the rule is implemented.

“Because the USDA has refused to conduct an economic impact study, it has been left to industry to determine what kinds of costs this rule might have,” says Steve Foglesong, an Illinois beef producer and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “Producers have a right to know what these studies show.”

The comment period on the proposed USDA rule, which has the potential to significantly change the way cattle are marketed in this country ends Nov. 22. Foglesong said the live broadcast will go beyond the rhetoric to provide details about what the regulation means.

The live program will be re-broadcast on RFD-TV Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 10:30 a.m. EST and Saturday, Nov. 20 at 9:00 a.m. EST. In addition, all episodes of NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen are available on the program’s website at www.cattlementocattlemen.org. The program is also on Facebook and can be followed on Twitter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

CDFA taking block grant applications

California's Department of Food and Agriculture has announced it is taking applications for grants through USDA's 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

USDA is putting up $17 million to enhance competitiveness of the state's fruits, nuts, vegetables and horticultural and nursery crops. The grants will range in size from $50,000 to $500,000, CDFA says.

Eligible applicants — colleges and universities, nonprofits, businesses and agencies of local, state, federal and tribal governments — must start by submitting a concept proposal. Grant proposals will be requested of those passing to the second phase.

CDFA is hosting workshops from Nov. 15-19. Concept proposals are due by Dec. 20.

Application instructions are posted on CDFA's site.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

On reality show, California dairy helps job seekers gain confidence

The Giacomazzi Dairy in Hanford has appeared in a new reality TV show about getting unemployed people back to work.

The premier episode of "The Fairy Jobmother" focuses on the Aughes, a young Hanford couple. "It's time to get America back to work," says the show's host, Hayley Taylor, in an opening voice-over.

To get the Aughes back to work, it's necessary to restore confidence after having lived for several years on welfare, Taylor says. To accomplish that, they volunteer for a day's work at the Giacomazzi Dairy.

Duties include managing payroll records and milking cows by hand — apparently, modern mechanized milking lacks the entertainment punch of the old ways.

Watch the episode here. The dairy segment follows the second commercial break.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Testimony on sugar beets continues

Litigants are presenting more court testimony today on the potential impacts if Judge Jeffrey White decides to destroy this year's Roundup Ready sugar beet stecklings.

Along with live witnesses, they've offered video depositions by experts to support opposing arguments on the likelihood of gene flow to neighboring crops, as well as the potential costs to an organic seed producer for guarding against contamination.

The seed companies also presented testimony from a Wyoming farmer to illustrate the significant advantages — like reduced labor requirements and herbicide applications — of planting biotech beets.

Further updates coming soon.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Litigants argue over sugar-beet stecklings

USDA and seed companies are calling witnesses this morning to testify on the damage the industry would sustain if a federal judge decides to uproot the current root stock, or stecklings, for Roundup Ready sugar beets.

Attorneys for the environmentalists and organic growers who brought the suit are contending that damages to the seed companies would be small. That may be the case, a company representative said -- but damage to the beet industry would be significant.

If the sugar-beet entities of the companies don't maintain profits, they could be sold off, creating further impacts to growers, the representative testified.

Check back later today for more details.

Ag in the West social media watch

Capital Press videos on YouTube

Our most popular videos