National Briefs

Wisconsin State Farmer
Briefs from around the country


California governor backs rules on cow, landfill emissions

California will begin regulating greenhouse-gas emissions tied to dairy cows and landfills under legislation signed Monday, Sept. 19 by Gov. Jerry Brown, escalating state efforts to fight climate change beyond carbon-based gases to include methane and other pollutants.

The law targets a category of gases known as short-lived climate pollutants, which have an outsize effect on global warming despite their relatively short life in the atmosphere. Environmentalists hope that tackling short-lived pollutants now would buy time to develop new and more affordable technology to reduce carbon emissions.

California has stoked a global reputation for its attempts to slow climate change through a combination of strict mandates against pollution and financial incentives for green technology.

Republicans said the strict regulations will hurt agricultural businesses, despite concessions made to dairy farmers.

Dairy farmers will be required to reduce methane emissions from manure to 40 percent below their 2013 levels by 2030, with the help of $50 million from the state's fee charged to polluters, known as cap-and-trade.

The money will help a handful of them buy dairy digesters, which use methane from manure to generate energy that's sold to electrical utilities.

The law also allows the Air Resources Board to regulate cow flatulence if there's viable technology to reduce it.


American Farm Bureau Urges Caution on Ag Mergers

Farmers and ranchers know market forces have led to major-company mergers like Bayer-Monsanto, but they cannot afford to lose access to technology and innovation if they go through, American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist Dr. Bob Young told the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

"AFBF has had several--and repeated--assurances from the companies involved as to their intent to maintain as strong an innovation arm as they can," Young said. "We have no reason to doubt, but we also are reminded of the old line: trust, but verify."

Young noted the market for seeds, chemicals and crop nutrients is poised to shrink from six major companies to just three. He asked that regulators review these mergers not only in light of market concentration, but also the structure of the entire industry in a post-merger environment.

"Everyone's knee-jerk reaction is to think that increased concentration will lead to higher prices for these inputs," Young said. "Knees tend to jerk reflexively, but sometimes they jerk with reason."


New method finds salmonella faster in meat, chicken

A team led by University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) researchers has found a faster and more precise way to detect salmonella in beef and chicken - a finding that could help prevent major illnesses.

Salmonella is the leading cause of bacteria-associated foodborne illnesses in the U.S., according to the study. Thus, early detection of the pathogen by a rapid and sensitive test is important to prevent the illness.

In a newly published study, researchers artificially contaminated food with salmonella. They then tested the food samples using salmonella-specific antibodies combined with a unique signal amplification technique. Their test found the presence of salmonella after 15 hours and removed other microorganisms that sometimes clutter laboratory results. This is shorter than the two to three days it takes to detect salmonella in a culture, the report notes.


Website highlights updated antibiotic standards

A number of agricultural groups - including the Animal Health Institute (AHI), National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. and Animal Agriculture Alliance - launched a new educational website,, to provide information about how the Food & Drug Administration's new policy will change the way antibiotics are used to keep food animals healthy.

The new policy, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, will stop the use of antibiotics for animal growth purposes if those antibiotics are also used in human medicine. The policy requires the supervision of a veterinary medical doctor for use of antibiotics to fight disease in animals when those medicines are also used to treat people.

"This policy ensures that the antibiotics classes we need as humans are only administered to food animals when medically necessary to fight disease," AHI president and chief executive officer Alexander S. Mathews said. "Most importantly, the policy protects animal health and well-being while providing consumers with the safest food possible."