Beginning on Wednesday, from 60,000 to 100,000 livestock and poultry operations will be required to report emissions of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide, said Drovers. The EPA previously exempted livestock farms from filing the reports but a federal court, in response to a lawsuit filed by environmentalists, vitiated the exemption.
For the third time this year, the Agriculture Department is holding up a regulation that would give livestock on organic farms more elbow room than is common at conventional operations, and this time, it says, it may rewrite the rule, which already is a decade in the making. "We will see the department in court and are confident that we will prevail on this important issue for the organic sector," said the Organic Trade Association, which sued USDA two months ago for unlawful delay of the animal welfare regulation.
In a major new statement about the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, the World Health Organization is urging livestock agriculture and fish farming worldwide to sharply cut antibiotic use, reserving the precious drugs for animals that are sick and then choosing only antibiotics that are not important to human medicine. (No paywall)
Antibiotic-resistant infections — everything from gastrointestinal illnesses to recurring urinary tract infections and staph — are among the most menacing issues in public health today, sickening 2 million people a year and killing at least 23,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So perhaps it’s not surprising that government has begun to take steps to limit antibiotics in animal agriculture, where many of these infections arise, before they wreak further havoc in humans.
Big Ag is back on the offensive in Oklahoma, less than a year after voters defeated a bill that would have stripped the state’s residents of their ability to regulate corporate farming. The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association wants ranchers to pay an additional $1 tax per head of cattle sold in the state, and will hold a Nov. 1 vote on the tax for Oklahoma cattle producers. Family farm advocates say that much of the money collected under such checkoff taxes is funneled to private industry groups that use it to promote the interests of corporate agriculture over independent farmers.
The U.S. pork industry is spending billions of dollars to build five new plants and expanding another existing plant in the Midwest. But that investment will pale in comparison to the money needed to supply those packing plants with pigs, according to Successful Farming. The five new plants alone will be capable of processing at least 40,000 hogs a day.
Texas is easily the largest cattle state in the country, with 12.3 million head, or nearly one of every seven head in the U.S. inventory of 93.6 million cattle. The 54 Texas counties declared a disaster area due to damage by Hurricane Harvey hold 1.2 million beef cows, the animals that are the foundation of the cattle industry, says livestock economist David Anderson of Texas A&M.
Ongoing lawsuits against the producer-funded beef checkoff are part of a drive by activists "to end beef promotion and, ultimately, the production of beef in the United States," says the chief executive of the largest U.S. cattle group. "We might disagree on policy matters within the industry, but it’s another thing entirely to target the volunteer-led state beef councils through unholy alliances with animal rights activists and others intent on driving beef producers out of business," wrote Kendal Frazier of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association in an essay on Drovers.
Colorado native David Bernhardt won Senate confirmation as deputy Interior secretary, the No. 2 job at the department, on a mostly party-line vote, reported the Denver Post. A high-ranking Interior official in the past and most recently part of a law-and-lobbying firm in Denver, Bernhardt was described by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren as a walking conflict of interest.
Faced with prolonged and intensifying drought in the northern Plains, USDA opened a still-larger portion of the Conservation Reserve, ordinarily off-limits to farm work, to emergency haying and grazing. In its fourth announcement of permission for landowners to use the idled land for livestock forage, the USDA said haying and grazing would be permitted on wetlands and on buffer strips, often used to protect waterways from farm runoff, that are enrolled in the reserve.