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National Briefs - Skim milk can be called skim milk

Wisconsin State Farmer


Appeals court rules skim milk can be called 'skim milk' 

A small, all-natural dairy isn't being deceptive when it calls its skim milk "skim milk," a federal appeals court has ruled — a victory for a Florida creamery that fought the state's demand to label the product "imitation" because vitamins aren't added to it.

The ruling overturns a decision last March when a federal judge sided with the Florida Department of Agriculture, which said the Ocheesee Creamery couldn't label its skim milk "skim milk" because the state defines the product as skim milk with Vitamin A added. The state instead said that if the creamery wanted to sell the product, it should label it as "imitation" skim milk.

"The State was unable to show that forbidding the Creamery from using the term 'skim milk' was reasonable," the three-judge, Jacksonville-based panel wrote in its ruling.

The court said the state disregarded far less restrictive and more precise ways of labeling the product, "for example, allowing skim milk to be called what it is and merely requiring a disclosure that it lacks vitamin A."


Sen. Schumer pushes for malt barley crop insurance

Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make crop insurance for malt barley available to more New York farmers to help the craft brewing industry in the state.

New York's farm and craft breweries need state-grown malt barley to make their beer, but many farmers are unwilling to plant it because it's prone to losses from severe weather and disease.

Schumer says more farmers would take the risk if they had access to federal crop insurance like growers do in other states. Right now, the insurance is available in only four New York counties.


Momentum builds for Young Farmer Success Act

Over 100 agricultural, business, and nonprofit organizations have signed a letter urging Congress to support the Young Farmer Success Act (H.R.1060), a bipartisan measure that would address the growing issue of student debt among America’s young farmers.

The mounting support was announced by Andrew Bahrenburg, National Policy Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC).

“Groups from all over the country are calling on Congress to support the Young Farmer Success Act because they know the future of our national food system depends upon developing a new generation of farmers,” said Bahrenburg. “America needs young farmers to support our rural economies and feed our citizens for generations to come. Young farmer support must be a national priority.”


Arkansas cotton acreage expected to spike this year

After two weeks of surveying farmers for its annual farm production forecasts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it expects Arkansas farmers to plant 500,000 acres of cotton, up from 375,000 last year.

Cotton consumption is up worldwide, but the increase comes because the prices for other commodities are poor, according to Bill Robertson, a cotton agronomist with the University of Arkansas System's Agriculture Division. The division works with the USDA in gathering the estimates.

Cotton prices are about 75 cents a pound, up from 56 cents last year.

"The prices are better for cotton than anything else, but they're still not good enough for a farmer to go out and buy more pickers," Robertson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


West Virginia professor develops tomatoes resistant to fungus, blight

Mannon Gallegly, West Virginia University professor emeritus of plant pathology, has made it his mission to develop a disease-free tomato.

In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the university and its first academic unit, the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, Gallegly and his research partner, Mahfuz Rahman, released two new varieties of tomato last month.

The tomatoes, identified as West Virginia '17A and West Virginia '17B, were obtained by breeding the tomatoes known as the West Virginia '63 and the Iron Lady. Gallegly developed the West Virginia '63 tomato in the 1960s as a tomato resistant to late blight, a plant disease usually caused by fungi. The Iron Lady tomato, developed by Martha Mutschler-Chu of Cornell University, also resists late blight but also Septoria lycopersici, a fungus that causes spotting on leaves.