National briefs - Seeding the Future of Agriculture

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


Company wants hard-to-kill GMO grass deregulated

Federal agriculture officials could decide this week to give up its oversight of a spreading grass that was engineered to resist an herbicide. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Scotts Miracle-Gro is no longer planning to commercialize the grass and wants federal agriculture officials to deregulated it.

Scotts partnered with Monsanto to engineer the hard-to-kill grass. Scotts was fined $500,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for letting it spread. Federal officials also made the company responsible for controlling the grass.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife found the grass puts endangered plant and animal species at risk. Research by Oregon State University and the Environmental Protection Agency determined the herbicide resistance could pass onto other grasses. The presence of genetic modifications can also block some international sales.


Destructive beetle infests Maui coffee farm

A beetle that can destroy up to a third of a coffee berry crop has made its way to Maui. The state Agriculture Department confirmed the coffee berry borer has infested a 13-acre farm on the island, reported the Maui News.

Department entomologists said the farm's infestation indicates the beetle has been there for some time. A resident told agriculture officials about the beetle's presence in November. The department's quarantine officials are looking into adjusting current restrictions to keep the coffee berry borer from spreading into unaffected areas.

Scott Enright, chairman of the state Board of Agriculture, said that despite strict quarantine rules, infestations have been extremely difficult to contain.

The tiny beetles bore into coffee cherries to lay eggs. Larvae then feed off of the bean - leaving a hollow shell.

The beetle has not yet been spotted on Kauai.


Program looks to raise awareness of ag career opportunities

In 2017, the America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund in conjunction with the FFA, will award more than $500,000 in scholarships to students looking to study ag-related fields, including farming, agronomy, education, science, technology, business, communications and more.

In addition to providing scholarships, the America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders program is looking to raise awareness of the many and varied career opportunities in agriculture.
Agriculture is one of the top hiring sectors in the U.S., but few high school and college students currently intend to pursue a career in agriculture.

In fact, recent research shows that employers have nearly 60,000 job openings in agriculture each year, but only approximately 35,000 students graduate each year with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture.

Now through Feb. 1, students looking to pursue higher education in an agriculture-related field of study from a two- or four-year program or trade school are eligible to apply for a $1,500 scholarship through the program. For more information about the program, rules and eligibility information, visit or apply at


Activists disrupt Wolf's speech at farm show opening

Animal rights activists disrupted Gov. Tom Wolf's speech during opening ceremonies at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Activists yelled, "It's not food," and held signs inside the farm show complex in Harrisburg on Saturday, Jan. 7. Pennsylvania State Police removed the protesters.

Rachel Ziegler, founder of the Harrisburg chapter of the group Direct Action Everywhere confirmed that12 members of the group were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. The group also protested at last year's opening ceremony.

The 101st edition of the farm show opened to the public Saturday. It features nearly 6,000 animals and more than 10,000 exhibits.