Ag Briefs: U.S. wheat headed to war-torn Yemen

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


Wisconsin Corn Growers among grant winners

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), through the assistance of funds provided by sponsor FMC Corporation, awarded four seed grants to encourage innovative programs in state organizations.

These grants, which are an offshoot of the association’s Reaching for Excellence award are provided to state corn associations who implement or enhance a program that was nominated for the award.

Wisconsin Corn will implement a robust grassroots training to coincide with their advocacy day at their state capital.


Wheat headed to war-torn Yemen

Seven ships loaded with wheat grown in America's Pacific Northwest are sailing for Yemen, where a stalemated civil war has pushed more than 8 million people to the brink of starvation.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, which administers the Food for Peace program, purchased the wheat to benefit America's wheat farmers and people in crisis. It was then handed over to the U.N.'s World Food Program to be shipped and distributed in Yemen.

Darren Padget, a wheat farmer from Grass Valley, Oregon, told the Capital Press he's pleased the wheat is going to the needy.

Around two-thirds of the country's population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are at risk of starving.


Labor: Missouri farmworkers kept in inhumane conditions

A Florida company kept more than 100 temporary farmworkers in "inhumane" and "unsanitary" working conditions while not paying them what they were due as they harvested watermelons in southeast Missouri, according to federal labor officials.

The U.S. Labor Department issued a preliminary injunction against Marin J Corp. of Avon Park, Florida, after witnessing conditions for 107 workers hired under the federal H-2A program, which allows foreign workers into the U.S. for temporary agriculture work, The Kansas City Star reported .

Labor department inspectors found 27 workers housed in a former jail with an unusable kitchen, limited windows, no drinking fountains or access to water beyond bathroom sinks, according to an affidavit. Another 80 workers were living in two houses Marin owned and a hotel that had too few beds, leaking toilets, standing water in restrooms and a barely functioning refrigerator, an investigator wrote in the affidavit.

While employees worked 12-hour days harvesting watermelons, they generally shared a Gatorade bottle for water and several workers "passed out from the heat due to dehydration," the inspector wrote. Washing and restroom facilities were "rarely provided" in the field and "workers frequently relieved themselves in the fields, without washing their hands," according to the affidavit.


Confederate flags discouraged at county fairs

New York State Fair officials are asking the operators of the state's 52 county fairs to discourage the selling or displaying of items that could offend fairgoers or pose public safety concerns.

Leaders of Delaware County-based Fair For All say the Confederacy's Civil War flags are a symbol of slavery, racism and hate.

State Fair vendors have voluntarily stopped selling Confederates. The fair opens Aug. 23.


As drought lingers, Texas ranchers opt to reduce their herds

A growing number of Texas ranchers and farmers are trimming their livestock, or selling them altogether, as the persistent drought has eliminated water supplies and forage for the animals.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 45 percent of Texas is contending with drought conditions that are severe or worse. Ranchers describe land bare of grass, bales of hay either too expensive or hard to come by, and stock tanks that have long run dry.

Josh Blanek, with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Tom Green County, says ranchers and farmers in his region are reducing their herds by at least 25 percent.

Oklahoma officials, meanwhile, say they haven't seen the kind of liquidation of cattle that's happening in Texas. Spring rains saved some wheat harvests and boosted grassland there.