Ag News Update – October 26, 2011

A few interesting stories from around Ohio and the U.S. from the past few days …

The fracking industry’s war on the NYT – and the truth

Huffington Post – by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

American sourced natural gas might also have helped free us from our debilitating reliance on foreign oil now costing our country so dearly in blood, national security, energy independence, global leadership, moral authority, and treasure amounting to $700 billion per year — the total cost to our country of annual oil imports — in addition to two pricey wars that are currently running tabs $2 billion per week.

My caveat was that the natural gas industry and government regulators needed to act responsibly to protect the environment, safeguard communities from irresponsible practices and to candidly inform the public about the true risks and benefits of shale extraction gas.

The opposite has happened. …

Read the rest at the Huffington Post

Farm Bill process rolling with Ag leaders striving for Nov. 1 deadline

Wallaces Farmer

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is laying out USDA’s farm bill priorities this week. But given the current economic climate, and the efforts of the Congressional Super Committee tasked with finding more than $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says USDA’s leadership may not carry much weight. He says that he thinks there won’t be time for the Administration to have much of an impact.

That’s because the leaders of the Agriculture Committees Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., have told the members of the Super Committee that they’ll have a detailed set of 2012 Farm Bill policy suggestions aimed at achieving the $23 billion in savings they previously recommended by Nov. 1. Grassley believes it will mostly affect Title I, food stamps and perhaps conservation. His understanding is that programs outside those areas will be handled next year.

Read the rest at Wallaces Farmer

Corn ethanol may heighten food scarcity for world’s poor

The Iowa Independent

Pumping that golden elixir — corn-ethanol — into the gas tank can do a world of good, or so goes the argument.

It relieves the U.S. from dependency on foreign oil, some reports say, and it reduces the pollution spewed out the tailpipe.

But, those benefits may take a high human toll.

Over 80 percent of the world’s supply of corn comes from five countries. The U.S. leads the pack, supplying over half of world’s exports, according to a study released Oct. 13 at the World Food Prize in Des Moines.

Read the rest at The Iowa Independent

Bridging the GAP: Bringing food safety regs to small farms

Food Safety News

For large farming operations, food safety audits are commonplace. Most buyers require them before purchasing produce. However, small farms are rarely inspected by auditors, because the cost of implementing a safety plan can be too expensive.

That’s where Bridging the GAPs – a program designed to help small and mid-sized growers find a way to meet food safety guidelines – comes in.

Organized by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), the initiative will allow modest-sized operations to reach broader markets such as schools, grocery stores and restaurants, most of which now require Good Agricultural Practices certification.

Read the rest at Food Safety News

New rules proposed for kids working on farms

Ohio Farmer

An update of federal labor regulations governing youth employment could mean significant changes in the types of work young people can do on the farm, according to the leader of Ohio State University Extension’s Agricultural Safety and Health program.

“The Hazardous Occupations Orders For Agricultural Employment hasn’t been touched or changed for the past 40 years,” says Dee Jepsen, with OSu’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. “What the hazardous occupations order for agriculture does is prohibit youth under the age of 16 from working in and around certain types of environments, outside two basic exemptions.”

One of the two exemptions allowed for in the order historically included allowing children to work on farms owned and operated by their parents. The second traditional exemption was for children under the age of 16 who completed a prescribed farm safety education and training program.

Read the rest at Ohio Farmer

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