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Spoiled Milk

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Lenexa, KS (Dairy Herd Management, May 19, 2015):  With milk prices on a downward slope this spring, it's more important than ever not to dump money down the drain this summer.

Keeping cattle healthy and protected from the threat of mastitis can be extremely difficult, especially during the summer months. Heat, humidity and other factors can make managing the potential for pathogenic bacteria even more difficult. Poor practices that might be tolerated during cooler parts of the year hold minimal to no forgiveness during the warmer months.

Roger Scaletti, one of Alltech's dairy experts in milk quality, provides five areas that can keep dairy herds on the right path for peak productivity and assist in preventing instances of mastitis:

1. Parlor routine can be very often overlooked, as simply getting cows milked two to three times a day can be a feat in itself. Wearing gloves, making sure there is adequate predip coverage and keeping in mind the contact time of predip before it is wiped off can have a significant impact. Milking clean, dry teats is the name of the game, and all employees should be working toward that common goal.

Agriculture: One of Best Fields for New Grads

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Buffalo, NY (WIVB.com, May 18, 2015):  A new USDA study shows agriculture is one of the best fields for recent graduates. The report shows about 35,000 students graduate each year with higher degrees in agriculture related fields but there are almost 58.000 job openings. That means only about 60 percent of job openings will be filled.

The study looked at openings in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and environmental fields across America. It found the trend will continue, predicting a strong job market for the next five years.

Experts at Buffalo State say the challenge is making students aware of the opportunities in these fields.

"The development of the solar city solar power plant in South Buffalo is a reminder that renewable energy is really big issue here in the Northeastern United States and Western New York," said Daniel Potts, an Associate Professor of Biology. "We see that by the wind turbines in Southern Tier as a reminder renewable energy is a major industry."

U.S. Gives Farmers Approval To Spray Crops From Drones

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Lenexa, WI (Manufacturing.net, May 6, 2015):  A drone large enough to carry tanks of fertilizers and pesticides has won rare approval from federal authorities to spray crops in the United States, officials said Tuesday.

The drone, called the RMAX, is a remotely piloted helicopter that weighs 207 pounds (94 kilograms), said Steve Markofski, a spokesman for Yamaha Corp. U.S.A., which developed the aircraft.

Smaller drones weighing a few pounds had already been approved for limited use to take pictures that help farmers identify unhealthy crops. The RMAX is the first time a drone big enough to carry a payload has been approved, Markofski said.

The drone already has been used elsewhere, including by rice farmers in Japan. The FAA approved it for the U.S. on Friday.

"I certainly understand their cautious approach," Markofski said. "It's a daunting task given our airspace is complicated."

Soybean Research In PA Fields

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Greenwich, NY (Morning Ag Clips, May 5, 2015):  As soybean producers throughout Pennsylvania are planting their 2015 crop, a group of growers are also participating in research projects through the On-Farm Network. The On-Farm Network takes soybean research studies out of the lab and small test plots into the fields of Pennsylvania soybean growers to see which management practices have an appreciable impact on production.

Now in its seventh year, the On-Farm Network, a program funded by checkoff dollars by the Pennsylvania Soybean Board, focuses on collecting information that can increase growers' profits from soybean production. The network works by conducting research in real-world conditions on test plots planted by farmer/collaborators throughout Pennsylvania on their own farms with their own equipment.

This year, research will be conducted at 22 different locations in 11 counties throughout Pennsylvania.

The field trials are replicated in strips planted side by side and marked using GPS to test variables to compare a difference in the products used, the application method, timing of the application, or other management practices.

Can You Hack It As A Farmer

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Seattle, WA (Grist, April 30, 2015):  So, you want to move to the country. Perhaps you've been raising your kids (or just yourself) in the healthiest environment you can muster in the city. You've built a nice kitchen garden off your back porch, snipping herbs for meals, feeding yourself fresh vegetables and berries from carefully pruned bushes, even keeping a couple of chickens for their fresh eggs. You go to the farmers' market almost every week and supplement your own home-grown food with that of local farmers. But now you want to more fully practice what you preach and incorporate farming into your life.

Or maybe you've built a comfortable nest egg by putting in long hours in the corporate world and you're looking to change your lifestyle. Perhaps you inherited some money from a loved one and you're looking to invest it. Preserving and creating a productive farm is a popular and noble way to invest in your own future and that of rural America. Or perhaps you're fresh out of school and the idea of working close to the land or animals, instead of a work life spent indoors, is calling to you.

There are as many reasons to own or work on a farm as there are farmers. When embarking on your own path, it's important to clearly define your goals.

Questions to ask yourself when buying a farm

  • Do you want to farm as a lifestyle?
  • Do you plan to be a subsistence farmer or homesteader to independently provide for your family's needs?
  • Are you looking for an investment for your money?
  • Or do you want to be a professional and pursue farming as a career?
  • The farm or land you choose should fit your goals — but don't forget that goals change. So, try not to limit your future options. The spirit to adopt when you begin searching for a farm or taking over the operation of a farm is the same one that British and American women coined when creating the Women's Land Army and the Victory Garden movement that both fed nations and lifted women's work up to the level of national patriotism — they cheered the slogan "Dig for Victory!" You will certainly be doing plenty of digging in the literal sense, but you will also be digging to find your own way of life.

But there will be obstacles, both physical and emotional. Whenever people, especially women, decide on a course that's unconventional, they are met with suspicion of their motives and outright jealousy. You will hear, "Living on a farm is so much work. How will you do it?" or "Farms are not profitable. Don't you know it costs $64 to grow a tomato?" There will be endless stories about an uncle, or a second cousin, or friend of a mother-in-law who moved to the country only to dig themselves a grave of toil, or lose a hand in a combine accident or throw away every penny of their savings on a money pit. There's a pervasive idea that anyone, especially a woman, getting into farming is a dreamer, naive to the point of self-destruction.

Perdue AgriBusiness on DEP Hearing

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Bainbridge, PA (Morning Ag Clips, April 1, 2015):The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on March 31 convened a public hearing in Bainbridge to gather input on its draft plan approval for Perdue AgriBusiness' proposed grain elevator and soybean crushing facility in Conoy Township, Lancaster County. The following is a statement by Gregory Rowe, Vice President of Grain Operations, Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) for Perdue AgriBusiness.

"We appreciate all the support we've received from farmers and the local community every step of the way through the development of this project. We will continue to meet our supporters' high expectations," Rowe said. "We're excited about the progress and look forward to moving to the construction phase. Plans for this project began more than five years ago. That's a long time, but it proves to residents that regulators are confident that it meets very rigorous standards for operation. Perdue has worked with DEP for five years to ensure this permit complies with strict state and federal regulatory requirements to ensure public health, safety and environmental sustainability. The end result is that we've been able to design what we believe is one of the nation's most advanced soybean processing plants."

Perdue's project has undergone considerable public review. This hearing is the state's second public hearing on the project. These hearings are in addition to the many meetings and forums that the company convened over the years to keep farmers and residents informed.

Perdue's plant will be located in the heart of Pennsylvania's largest soybean growing region, which includes seven of the state's top 10 soybean-producing counties. Despite this robust market, most local soybeans today leave Pennsylvania for processing and then come back as livestock feed, and extra costs are incurred on both ends of the transportation cycle.

Farmers will see a direct benefit, but so will communities around the plant. This facility represents an investment of more than $60 million in Pennsylvania agriculture and the region. That investment will generate more than 150 construction jobs, 35 long-term jobs upon completion and an anticipated 500 additional jobs in crop production and transportation.

Perdue's plant will have a smaller environmental footprint than the typical soybean processing plant, since processing water and steam will be provided by the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, enabling added environmental benefits by removing the need for fossil fuels and limiting the long-haul truck miles farmers need to travel.

Click here to view the document containing the Lancaster County Agriculture Council's testimony.

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