Independent brewers to fund USDA research on disease-resistant hops

To assure a "truly local pint," a trade group for small and independent brewers announced an agreement with USDA's Agricultural Research Service to fund the breeding of a disease-resistant hop cultivar that will be freely available. The trade group Brewers Association says the goal is to ensure "all growers have access to high quality, disease-resistant cultivars they need to sustain production at levels required by brewers."

Disease, drought, government. Pick the existential threat to farmers.

For the second time in a week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers that government is a greater threat to U.S. farmers than drought or disease. And in nearly the same words at two House hearings, he offered the might of the U.S. government to boost farm income through larger food and ag exports.

USDA weighs open-air trial of GE moth to combat crop pest

New York "is one step closer to becoming the first state to have genetically modified, non-sterile insects released" for an open-air trial against the crop-damaging diamondback month, says news site EcoWatch. The public comment period has closed on USDA's environmental assessment, which says the proposed field trial is unlikely to cause adverse effects on plants, soil, water and people.

Climate change is pushing species to new latitudes — with disturbing results, study

Climate change has set off the largest mass movement of species, since the last ice age, about 25,000 years ago, says a study published in the journal Science. “Land-based species are moving polewards by an average of 17km per decade, and marine species by 72km per decade,” said Professor Gretta Pecl at the University of Tasmania in Australia, the study’s lead author.

New World screwworm is eradicated in Florida, ending livestock threat

Five months after the New World screwworm was detected in the United States for the first time in more than 30 years, the pest, a maggot that kills animals by eating their flesh, has been eradicated, said USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. No new cases have been reported since Jan. 10 in Florida.

Drought drives up food prices in East Africa; armyworms a threat in southern Africa

Corn, sorghum and other cereal grains are selling at record prices in East Africa, where drought has shriveled crops, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. High food prices "are severely constraining food access for large numbers of households with alarming consequences for food insecurity," said an FAO official.

Can gene editing stop citrus-greening disease?

Orange production in Florida has plummeted since the arrival of citrus-greening disease. This season's crop in the No. 1 U.S. citrus state is estimated at 71 million boxes, less than half of pre-disease levels, says Agri-Pulse. Clemson University researchers are looking for a cure that involves gene editing.

It’s parasitoid vs invasive species in bio-battle over California citrus groves

Entomologists from UC-Riverside and the California Agriculture Department "have launched a classical biological control program to reduce ACPs [Asian citrus psyllids] in the state's urban areas," says the UC Food Observer. The tiny psyllid help spread the devastating citrus greening disease, which results in bitter, misshapen fruit and eventually kills infected trees.

New crop pest, the allium leafminer, found in south-central Pennsylvania

The allium leafminer, a tiny but destructive insect, was identified in leeks and onions in Lancaster County in south-central Pennsylvania, say Penn State entomologists. "This is the first confirmed infestation in the Western Hemisphere."

Desert locusts, found in Yemen, jeopardize crops in region

Infestations of the Desert locust have been found on the southern coast of Yemen, says the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, describing the insects as a force of nature when the adults gather in swarms that ride with the wind. "A very small swarm eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people," says FAO.