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PLYMOUTH, MA

Growers see solid cranberry harvest

With summer winding down, the cranberry bog harvest can’t be far behind. The head of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, Brian Wick, says his members are largely optimistic about this year’s crop, but weather remains a variable.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service forecasts the total U.S. cranberry crop to hit 9 million barrels, a 4% increase over 2018. One barrel equals 100 pounds of cranberries.

In Massachusetts, the second largest cranberry producer behind Wisconsin, the crop is projected at 2.3 million barrels, up about 3% from last year.

Wick says early September is a critical period for cranberries, which need both additional moisture and cooler nights to reach full size and develop their distinctive color.

While most growers deploy supplemental irrigation systems, he says “nothing beats a good soaking rain.”

LOUISVILLE, KY

KFC partners with Beyond Meat

It's finger lickin' fake chicken. Kentucky Fried Chicken plans to test plant-based chicken nuggets and boneless wings at one of its restaurants in Atlanta. Depending on customer feedback, the chain could expand the test to other markets.

California-based startup Beyond Meat said it developed the new product specifically for KFC. It's made with wheat protein coated in a proprietary breading.

Beyond Meat also sells plant-based burgers, sausages and meat crumbles at grocery stores and some fast food chains like Carl's Jr. and Del Taco. 

Restaurants are responding to a surge in consumer demand for plant-based meats as people seek healthier, more sustainable food. U.S. sales of meat substitutes are expected to jump 78% to $2.5 billion between 2018 and 2023, according to Euromonitor.

MADISON, WI 

Teacher mini-grants available for ag literacy projects

Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program is offering mini-grants of up to $100 to fund projects that promote agricultural literacy. Grants can be used for innovative lessons, activities, resources, presentations, school fairs and other creative ideas.

The proposed project must be targeted to grades pre-K through 12 and should enhance student knowledge of the importance of agriculture. Preference will be given to projects that use funds toward an ongoing, sustainable education effort, events designed to reach large groups of students or those that involve innovative approaches to promoting agricultural literacy.

Applications are evaluated on quality and uniqueness of the project, integration of agriculture into a variety of curriculum areas, alignment with educational standards, assessment methods used to evaluate students’ knowledge and quality of the submission.

A selection committee will review all funding requests that are postmarked by October 15. Applications can be downloaded from wisagclassroom.org under the grants section of the teachers tab. Five signed copies of the application must be submitted.

For more information about the teacher mini-grants, call 608.828.5644 or email darneson@wfbf.com.

DECATUR, IL

Advocates showcase hemp at farm show as multiuse crop

The National Hemp Association showcased the versatility of hemp during the recent Farm Progress Show in central Illinois.

Representatives of the hemp association used the event that ran Tuesday through Thursday to demonstrate how hemp can be used in dietary supplements and body care products, but that it also has industrial applications, the Herald & Review in Decatur reported.

Industrial uses for hemp include textiles, automotive, aviation and energy storage, building materials and paper, Geoff Whaling, chairman of the association, said.

Hemp provides an excellent natural alternative to cotton, which is the most widely used raw material for textile production, Whaling said. The automotive and aviation industries can use hemp bio-composites in multiple applications such as door panels, window pillars, package trays, truck liners and luggage racks.

These bio-composites are cheaper and reduce fuel consumption when used in place of fiberglass composites, according to the National Hemp Association.

Cameron McIntosh was touting Hempcrete, a bio-composite material that he said is resistant to mold, mildew and pests and can be used for insulation. McIntosh is the president and principal owner of Americhanvre, a hempcrete installation company.

"You're trapping the carbon inside rather than creating more so this is more environmentally friendly," McIntosh said. "It really improves the quality of life within the structure as well because it is managing the moisture and humidity."

The 2018 Farm Bill permitted industrial hemp farming for the first time in the U.S., but Whaling said some people have been resistant to hemp as a crop because they struggle to differentiate between hemp and its close cousin, marijuana.

OLYMPIA, WA

WA set to impose new rules on cattle

New rules for selling cattle in Washington are scheduled to take effect in October, hiking fees and nudging producers into using USDA-approved radio-frequency identification tags.

The Capital Press reports ranchers who use the "840" tags — a three-number international code for the U.S. — will be able to report sales online to the state Department of Agriculture.

The department hopes the convenience will motivate more cattlemen to use the tag. The 840 tags allow animal-health officials to track a cow from birth to slaughter.

The USDA intends to make 840 tags mandatory by 2023.

The federal agency says tracking every cow will limit crippling trade sanctions if a livestock disease breaks out.

The 840 tags and online reporting will be voluntary, for now.

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