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EPA Sued to Force Decision on Pesticide

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San Francisco, CA (SF Gate, September 10, 2014):  More than four years ago, environmental groups asked a federal court to order the Environmental Protection Agency to decide whether to ban a widely used pesticide that scientists have linked to illnesses in children. They settled the case in November 2011 after the EPA said it would make a decision within a year. When that didn't happen, they sued again. More promises, the groups said, but no performance.

On Wednesday, the same organizations filed a third lawsuit, asking for a firm. court-ordered deadline.

"They've done a lot of work to get to the point of making a decision," said Patti Goldman, a lawyer for the environmental firm Earthjustice in San Francisco. "We're asking the court to hold them to their most recent promise."

That would be a decision by the end of December, she said, on whether to outlaw all uses of a chemical called chlorpyrifos. Studies have linked it to asthma and other physical and mental health problems in children, including delayed mental and motor skill development. The EPA cited those potential dangers in 2000 when it prohibited all household uses of the chemical, which was contained in the pesticide Dursban and other products. The ban also applied to schools, day-care centers, hospitals and nursing homes.

But chlorpyrifos is still used as an insecticide on corn, grapes, oranges, almonds and other crops, on golf courses and for pest control in urban areas — as much as 5 million pounds applied in the United States each year, one-fifth of that in California alone, according to Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America.

Farming Brothers Turn Fame Into Ag-Vocacy

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Johnston, IA (Iowa Public Television, September 5, 2014):  Deep in the heart of waving wheat, the Peterson Family Farm is a working soundstage.

This 1000 acre operation has served as a real-life studio for the Peterson Brother's breakout hit, "I'm farming and I grow it."

The video went viral and now has amassed 9 million views. It launched a farm/music career of Greg, Nathan and Kendal Peterson of Assaria, Kansas.

Nathan Peterson: "It's just crazy to think people are for some reason clicking on our videos out there."

The trio has taken a handful of pop hits and made them their own.

Market to Market first discovered the Peterson's "agrotainment" efforts in 2012. In the years since, a few things have changed.

Mt Joy Farmer Wins Top Environmental Award

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Lancaster, PA (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era, September 18, 2014):  There's an adage in the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay that we all live downstream.

For making that upstream water quality better, Luke Brubaker of the family-owned Brubaker Farms in Mount Joy has been awarded the top honor of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Brubaker was to receive the nonprofit group's Alliance Environmental Leadership Award today in Annapolis, Maryland.

The award honors a person who demonstrates a long-standing commitment to the protection of the Chesapeake Bay's lands and waters, and whose efforts are consistent with the group's mission of fostering partnerships and building local solutions that advance environmental stewardship in the watershed.

"With agriculture often under fire for not doing enough, Mr. Brubaker represents what can be achieved through a strong personal commitment to conservation and innovation on the farm," said Al Todd, Alliance director.

The Alliance called the Brubaker farm, a multi-generational dairy operation, a showcase of conservation practices including no-till farming, cover crops, buffers and stream protection, nutrient management and generation of energy with manure.

"Brubaker Farms demonstrates a stewardship ethic that promotes the economic value of conservation practices and provides a sustainable model for agriculture in the future," Todd said.

"It is so important for farmers to realize the value of conservation practices, rather than doing it just because they have to."

In 2006, Brubaker Farms hooked up with Mount Joy Borough to put in place the first nutrient-trading project in Pennsylvania.

In 2010, the family installed a $1 million anaerobic methane digester that converts manure into electricity.

Dairy Calf Care: Get A Handle on Dystocia Data

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Lenexa, KS (Dairy Herd Management, September 11, 2014):  Colorado State University professor of veterinary medicine Frank Garry suggests dairies can improve calf survival by monitoring and improving calving management. He recommends regularly recording and tracking:

• Dystocia severity score for every animal that calves:

1= No assistance; 2 = One-person pull;

3 = Severe traction or surgery.

(Averages: 1: 75%; 2: 20%; 3: 5%)

• Number of calves stillborn.

(Average: 7%)

• Number of calves dying within 24-48 hours.

(Average: 2%)

These averages are Garry's estimates based on industry data and clinical experience. Your goal for each area should be better than average.


Study Shows Differences In Understanding Sustainable Agriculture

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Shawnee Mission, KS (Ag Professional, September 16, 2014):  Across the globe, consumers (81%) and farmers (78%) say they care a lot about sustainability in agriculture. However, the two groups have a very different understanding of what sustainability means. While farmers see it as a detailed, multi-dimensional issue, consumers tend to define it mainly in the context of environmental aspects. This is one of the main findings revealed in the latest BASF Farm Perspectives Study. Carried out for the second time since 2011, the study analyzed answers from 2,100 farmers and 7,000 consumers in seven different countries regarding their perceptions on a range of topics related to food production. Compared to results from previous years, the study revealed how attitudes regarding agriculture differ greatly not only between farmers and consumers, but also from country to country.

The Farm Perspective Study was carried out in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Spain and the United States between March and April 2014. For its realization, BASF commissioned the global market research institute Market Probe, based in Belgium.

Understanding of sustainability in agriculture

Consumers define sustainability in agriculture with a relatively narrow view, describing it as "environmentally friendly" (22%) or the "ability to produce sufficient food to feed the population" (18%). Globally, consumers listed one or two points when questioned about the meaning of sustainable agriculture. Farmers, on the other hand, presented a more specific, although complex, understanding of the topic. They highlighted environmental aspects like "soil protection" (40%), "land use" (27%), "water use" (27%) or "biodiversity protection" (25%), and also named economic aspects, such as "fair farm wages" (25%), as part of sustainable farming.

"These results help us to better understand the different perceptions regarding sustainable agriculture," said Dr. Kristina Winzen, Vice President of Global Communications & Public Government Affairs for BASF's Crop Protection division. "Growers and consumers do not understand sustainability in the same way and that makes it quite challenging for farmers to fulfill the requirements from society."

The importance of sustainability in agriculture is clear to farmers and consumers. In all surveyed countries, the vast majority of consumers (81%) agree that they "care about sustainability in agriculture." When asked about specific farming practices, the views of both groups differ. While 82% of all farmers agreed that crop protection is used responsibly, only 37% of all consumers shared this view.

The perception regarding regulations for agriculture

Globally, 49% of farmers agree that there are currently "too many regulations applied to the agricultural sector". Going in the opposite direction, 38% of consumers in the surveyed countries believe that "there are not enough regulations in the agricultural sector". When looking into the results by country, the situation reveals itself as very diverse. In European countries – France (83%), Germany (72%) and Spain (77%) – farmers feel high pressure from increasing agricultural regulations. In Asia, the perception is the opposite: Indian and Chinese farmers feel that there is a lack of laws in the sector. In their view (54% each), more regulations should be applied.

Higher satisfaction with agricultural production

Although there is a common understanding that food production is becoming more challenging – due to increasing consumers' expectations, globalized markets and scarcity of resources – 76% of all farmers said they were satisfied with the current state of their profession (as compared to 62% in 2011). The most satisfied farmers live in the United States (89%); followed by China (85%) and India (75%).

When consumers evaluate the current methods for food production used in their countries, more than half (58%) are satisfied with the way farming is conducted. Consumers in Germany have the highest satisfaction level (68%), followed by India (65%) and the United States (63%).

Future outlook

Regarding the future of their own profession, growers across the globe share very similar expectations. Farmers believe the following trends will change agriculture in the next five years: "small farmers will disappear" (45%), "tougher regulations" (23%), "improvements in technology" (22%), "water shortage" (21%) and "more sustainable agriculture" (19%).

"The results of the Farm Perspectives Study reinforce the importance of farming today. They enable us to better connect our initiatives and business development with growers' needs," said Winzen. With consumers and farmers having different understandings regarding the fundamental aspects of agriculture, BASF also stresses the importance of promoting an open dialog between the two groups.
"As a company that supports modern, sustainable agriculture, it is also our responsibility to promote and recognize the essential role farmers have in our lives and well-being," concluded Winzen.

Who Speaks For Rural Pennsylvania In Washington?

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Harrisburg, PA (Patriot News, September 16, 2014):  Most Americans see Pennsylvania, but think Philadelphia – the Liberty Bell, sports, scrapple, and cheese steaks.

They may also think Pittsburgh – the Incline, the three rivers, sports, and sandwiches smothered in fries and slaw.

Folks from Philly and Pittsburgh may see their cities a bit differently. However, they – like most Americans – are less likely to think about the rest of the state.

As a result, the nearly 3 million of us living in the large expanse that is rural Pennsylvania pay a price, measured in neglect. The governor and legislature bear some responsibility.

The November 2014 elections will give us a chance to change Harrisburg and to pick our 18 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. However, the composition of the U.S. House will probably not change.

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