National Ag Briefs

Wisconsin State Farmer
Leaves of Bader Farms' peach trees bear holes and discoloration that owner Bill Bader believes is the result of drift from illegal applications of the herbicide, dicamba at Bader Farms in Dunklin County, Mo.


Pot plants at State Fair

Nine living marijuana plants will be displayed at the Oregon State Fair in a first-of-its-kind event for the United States starting Aug. 26.

The exhibit of the nonflowering, immature plants brings pot cultivation more into the agricultural mainstream less than two years after Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana. The Oregon Cannabis Business Council, which organized the exhibit, says it's the first time live cannabis will be shown at a state fair anywhere in the U.S.

The group had an informational booth about marijuana at last year's fair, and there were no complaints — a key factor in allowing it to go one step further and offer live plants for viewing this year, said Dan Cox, spokesman for the Oregon State Fair.

The specimens were selected at a competition last weekend by judges who chose three winners each in the sativa, indica and hybrid categories.

The entire exhibit will be housed in a translucent tent, and extra security will be on hand to check identification so only people 21 and over can enter, Cox said.

None of the plants are allowed to have buds, which are more potent than the leaves.


Illegal herbicide may threaten Missouri's largest peach farm

Bill Bader, owner of Bader Farms in Campbell, MO, says over 900 acres of peach trees are showing signs of defoliation or damaged leaves due to what he believes is the effects of dicamba, a drift-prone herbicide suspected of causing widespread damage to crops in southeastern Missouri and beyond.

The problem has reached a fever pitch in the Bootheel, where more than 100 complaints of drift have been reported since late June — exceeding the Department of Agriculture’s usual statewide caseload for an entire year.

Bader's farm is Missouri's largest producer of peaches, accounting for more than half of the state's harvest. But even with much of this year's crop still to be picked, Bader is bracing for production to take a dramatic hit.

He said the farm's typical harvest of 5 million to 6 million pounds may be reduced by 40 percent this year, as trees with withered or missing leaves have borne smaller fruit. Bader reports that almost 10,000 other trees mustered only walnut-sized peaches not even worth picking. He said the shortfall will amount to a loss of produce of $1.5 million to $2 million.

Bader blames the problem on people he calls "dicamba outlaws" — area farmers suspected of unauthorized or "off-label" use of the herbicide.


Farmers seek tax credit for pantry donations

Each year New York farmers give millions of pounds of apples, squash, corn or other agricultural products to the state's food banks. Now they're looking to get some credit for those good deeds — a tax credit.

Legislation awaiting action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo would offer farmers a tax break of up to $5,000 a year for donations to the regional food banks that serve hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters around the state.

Many farmers often donate surplus fruits and vegetables or products they can't sell because of a superficial imperfection. Sometimes an apple is too small, a melon is too big, or a squash has a slight blemish.

The federal government already offers a tax credit to farmers who donate goods to food banks. Several states have created their own tax credits, including California, Oregon and Colorado.

Food banks welcome the donations, which give struggling New Yorkers access to healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. Last year farmers donated 12 million pounds of food in New York, and advocates for emergency food programs say there's an appetite for more.