Homeland Security could lose millions unless high-risk chemical tracking improves

From: Dallas Morning News

By REESE DUNKLIN

House budget-writers have proposed cutting nearly $9 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security because of problems and delays in tracking high-risk chemicals at plants like the West Fertilizer Co.

Also, a bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee would withhold $20 million until DHS submitted to Congress a detailed spending plan that included answers about chemical security inspections.

The proposals appear to be the first repercussions faced by any of the federal, state or local regulators since last month’s fire and explosions at West Fertilizer.

Immigration reform progress promising for Michigan agriculture

From: Farmers Advance

LANSING, MI — The May 21 passage of immigration reform legislation by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is a positive step forward in the eyes of Michigan’s agriculture industry. With countless segments of the state’s food and farm sector heavily reliant on immigrant workers, the forward progress of reform at the federal level promises better days ahead for not only farmers, but handlers, processors, wholesalers and retailers alike.

“This is a fair, balanced, workable reform plan that’s comprehensive and which meets the needs of agriculture,” said Ryan Findlay, national legislative counsel for Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB). “This bill will benefit every agricultural sector in a uniform fashion, and help farmers in states like Michigan to secure an adequate, qualified workforce.”

The search for large farmers

From: AgProfessional

David Widmar, Purdue University

If you talk to someone in agriculture long enough, the size of a nearby farm is bound to come up. Whether it’s the neighbor renting up all the land, the most desired seed customer or their most loyal tractor buyer, large farms are always fun to talk about. Ag folks talk about the biggest farmer they know as if the operation is surrounded by some kind of mystique.

At long last, South Korean trade pact kicks in

From: McClatchy Newspapers

By Rob Hotakainen

WASHINGTON — Pop the corks: After years of talk and delay, a historic trade pact between the United States and South Korea kicks in Thursday, and officials predict it will increase wine exports from Washington state by 40 to 50 percent in the first year alone.

The reason: The Korean cuisine relies heavily on beef, and marketers expect Koreans will want a whole lot more of the state’s red wines now that a 15 percent tariff is getting scrapped.

FDA proposes rules for farm produce

From: AgWeek

One of the two proposed food safety regulations released by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration has a direct impact on farm-level
activities associated with the production of fruits and vegetables grown
for human consumption. 

By:  Daryll E. Ray and Harwood D. Schaffer

One of the two proposed food safety regulations released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a direct impact on farm-level activities associated with the production of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.

A New Kind Of Agriculture Replaces Intuition With Precision

From: Co.Exist

Precision farming–using sensors, automatic sprayers, and even drones and satellites–are letting farmers manage each plant in their fields perfectly, leading to farms that are much less resource intensive.

Michael J. Coren

Record-setting drought across the U.S. in recent years has pushed everyone to look for new ways to save water. So while nature and beer don’t always go together, it was natural for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to join forces with America’s beer brewers to change how farmer irrigate their crops. For the non-profit, conserving America’s rivers meant growing America’s barley, one of the primary ingredients in one of our favorite cold beverages, with less water.

ARA accepting nominations for Ag Retailer of the Year

From: Agricutlural Retailers Association

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) is now accepting nominations for the Agricultural Retailer of the Year Award. This award is sponsored by Monsanto Company, ARA and AgProfessional magazine and honors retailers who consistently exceed their customer’s expectations and serve as a positive example for other retailers through their outstanding, sustainable and innovative business practices.

Regulatory Compliance Assessment Tool Helps Retailers Control Risk

From: CropLife

The Fertilizer Institute and Agricultural Retailers Association are encouraging fertilizer retailers to use the regulatory Compliance Assessment tool.

The following statement was released by W. Daren Coppock, president of the Agricultural Retailers Association and Ford B. West, president of The Fertilizer Institute:

“The fertilizer industry continues to extend its thoughts and prayers to the people of West, Texas, who are grieving for those in their town who were lost or injured.  We are watching closely as investigators determine what happened and upon a final determination of cause by the Chemical Safety Board we will work together to identify and apply any lessons learned. While that investigation continues, we are reaffirming our commitment to safe operations of fertilizer facilities by alerting the industry to the availability of an important tool to support compliance with existing federal regulations and associated best management practices.

‘Flag the Technology’ helps in selecting correct herbicide to match crop

From: Southeast Farm Press

By Linda Geist, University of Missouri Extension

There is a simple, inexpensive way to reduce errors in herbicide applications and limit off-target chemical drift, says a University of Missouri Extension weed management specialist.

Kevin Bradley supports the ‘Flag the Technology’ program by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

The idea is simple: Color-coded bicycle flags or similar markers placed at field entrances or other conspicuous locations indicate the use of different herbicide technologies.

The system, which is gaining popularity in the Midwest, can make the difference between a healthy crop and a damaged or dead one.

Full Speed Ahead for Open Ag Data

From: USDA

Posted by Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Last week, hundreds of innovators gathered at the World Bank IFC Center to brainstorm about how Open Data can be harnessed to help meet the challenge of sustainably feeding nine billion people by 2050.  The group included delegates from the G-8 group of nations, US Government officials, private sector partners, Open Data advocates, technology experts, and nonprofit leaders – all participants in the first-of-its-kind G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture.