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Ag briefs: Impossible Foods unveils pork, sausage

Wisconsin State Farmer

MADISON, WI

Sand County Foundation receives grant for prairie filter strip research in Midwest 

The United Soybean Board has awarded a grant to the Sand County Foundation to demonstrate how prairie filter strips can improve water quality and increase biodiversity on soybean farms.

The $107,500 grant supports Sand County Foundation’s work with farmers and conservation partners in three Midwestern watersheds.

A prairie strip is a farmland conservation practice that incorporates diverse, native vegetation within crop fields to capture runoff.

Research from Iowa State University has shown that placing prairie strips on 10 percent of a farm field can reduce soil erosion by more than 90 percent and nutrient loss by more than 80 percent. Prairie strips also provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.

Sand County Foundation, a national non-profit that works at the intersection of agriculture and environmental improvement, will work with farmers to install prairie strips, study their economic and environmental impacts, and share the findings with landowners, municipalities, lake associations and other water quality stakeholders.

The grant from United Soybean Board broadens the scope of Sand County Foundation’s efforts to demonstrate prairie filter strips on Wisconsin farms of varying soil types, typographies and management styles.

Key partners in this project include American Farmland Trust in the Upper Macoupin Creek watershed in Illinois, the Catfish Creek Watershed Management Authority in Dubuque County, Iowa, and the Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil & Water and Dodge County Alliance in Wisconsin.

DUBUQUE, IA

Iowa man charged with neglecting livestock at farm

 A Jan. 13 hearing has been scheduled for a Dubuque man charged with neglecting livestock and failing to properly dispose of dead animals.

Cesar Gonzalez, 31, faces nearly three dozen counts, according to Dubuque County court records. The records don't list the name of an attorney who could comment for him.

Several of the 26 animals rescued from the Dubuque farm earlier this month were in poor health, officials said. “The surviving animals all appeared malnourished and skinny,” a court document says. “The bones and rib cages of the animals could be seen. The animals had matted hair. The food and water was dirty and poor quality.”

The animals removed included horses, a pony, goats, sheep, pigs and geese.

OTSEGO TOWNSHIP, MI

Barn fire kills 300,000 hens at Michigan poultry farm

About 300,000 hens died in a barn fire at a southwestern Michigan poultry farm.

The blaze started about 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 3, at the farm in Otsego Township, WWMT-TV reported.

The barn was destroyed. About 250,000 hens in a second barn were unharmed.

Otsego Township is about 160 miles (257 kilometers) west of Detroit.

About 50 people who work at the cage-free farm were evacuated, according to Konos Inc. spokesman Brian Burch.

The farm will be at reduced production for the near future, he said.

Fire crews were forced to truck in water to battle the blaze. 

"Agriculture fires are always a challenge, especially at a place like this," Burch said. "We don't have city water. We don't have those same kinds of assets that we sometimes take for granted in cities."

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

SALEM, OR

Oregon fines Organic Valley $26K for dumping milk into river

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality fined a creamery for river water pollution caused by dumping milk, officials said.

The $26,574 fine was levied against Organic Valley for dumping by its McMinnville Creamery, The Statesman Journal reported on Dec. 27.

The creamery discharged 87 gallons (329 liters) of condensed skim milk and 384 pounds (174 kilograms) of milk solids into a storm drain that leads to a tributary of the South Yamhill River Jan. 5, the environmental quality department said.

The creamery discharged milk into the same drain June 25, which turned the creek white for nearly three-quarters of a mile (1.21 kilometers), the department said.

Organic Valley does not plan to appeal the fine, spokeswoman Elizabeth McMullen said.

Organic Valley, the nation's largest organic farming cooperative, recently upgraded systems designed to prevent accidental discharges at the McMinnville plant and has reviewed proper procedures with production employees, McMullen said.

The department fined Organic Valley $12,600 in June 2018 for a similar violation and issued citations for eight similar violations in November 2018.

The McMinnville creamery employs about 40 people and processes about 500,000 pounds (226,796 kilograms) of milk per day.

WAYNE, NE

Program allows students to gain 2 degrees from 2 colleges

Students may receive two bachelor's degrees from two Nebraska colleges after four years in a new biology and agriculture program.

Wayne State College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln announced the program earlier this month. Students can earn a life sciences degree with a concentration in biology from Wayne and an applied science degree with concentrations in agriculture and natural resources from the Lincoln university.

Tammy Evetovich, dean of the Wayne State School of Natural and Social Sciences, praised the flexible program, saying "People can take it and do what they want with it."

The Norfolk Daily News reported that students will spend three years at Wayne State's School of Natural and Social Sciences and then finish with a year at UNL's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Graduates will be prepared for jobs related to farming, ranching, parks and recreation and land management.

Participants may relocate to Lincoln for the final program year or finish online with UNL and in local lab settings at the Haskell Ag Lab in Concord.

LAS VEGAS, NV

Impossible Foods unveils pork, sausage

After a big year for its plant-based burger, Impossible Foods has something new on its plate. The California-based company unveiled Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas.

It's Impossible Food's first foray beyond fake beef. The Impossible Burger, which went on sale in 2016, has been a key player in the growing category of vegan meats. Like the burger, Impossible Food's pork and sausage are made from soy but mimic the taste and texture of ground meat.

Impossible Pork will be rolled out to restaurants first. The company isn't yet saying when it will come to groceries. Impossible Foods only recently began selling its burgers in grocery stores, although they're available at more than 17,000 restaurants in the U.S., Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.

According to Associated Press, 139 Burger King restaurants will give consumers their first taste of Impossible Sausage later this month in the form of the Impossible Croissan'wich, a breakfast sandwich.

AUSTIN, TX

Vital Farms Shows You the Farm Your Eggs Are From

Vital Farms is launching a groundbreaking food traceability program. Every consumer of Vital Farms eggs can now see the small family farm – with 360° video footage – where their eggs were laid, with the click of a button.

Vital Farms believes that today's complex industrialized U.S. food system has made it difficult for people to understand and trust where the food on their plates comes from. As a leader in ethically produced food and the largest U.S. brand of pasture-raised eggs by retail dollar sales, Vital Farms believes seeing is better than wondering, so they are making it easy for consumers to see all their partner farms.

"At Vital Farms, we are committed to providing food people can trust. Traceability is a natural extension of this commitment. We began pasture-raised egg farming over a decade ago and want to make it possible for consumers to see and appreciate the small family farms that their eggs come from," said Russell Diez-Canseco, President and CEO of Vital Farms.

Vital Farms' traceability program makes it easy. Simply pick up a carton of Vital Farms eggs, enter the farm name printed on the carton at vitalfarms.com/farm and enjoy a 360° view of the exact farm your eggs came from.

"We want everyone to enjoy seeing hens doing what they do best – roaming the pasture, foraging for insects, sampling seasonal grasses and maybe relaxing in the shade," said Becca Simmonds, Associate Brand Manager and traceability project lead for Vital Farms. "Each partner farm is unique, but they all offer abundant outdoor space that meets our leading standards for the hens, all year-round."

Vital Farms partners with about 200 small family farms that focus on animal welfare, including year-round access to pastures. The 360° pasture videos feature each family farm and the videos will be updated at least twice a year to ensure consumers get an accurate view of the hens' environment.

Vital Farms egg cartons featuring farm names can now be found on shelves nationally. To find a store near you, and for more information, please visit vitalfarms.com.

WARSAW, POLAND

Bird flu kills 25,000 turkeys in eastern Poland, sparks cull

Authorities in eastern Poland say bird flu is responsible for the deaths of at least 25,000 turkeys in poultry farms near the country's borders with Ukraine and Belarus. 

Polish veterinary authorities on Thursday were planning to cull tens of thousands of birds in the Lubartow area, a major poultry farming region. Police were blocking access to the affected area to non-residents. 

The chief veterinarian for Lublin province, Pawel Piotrowski, confirmed that the deadly H5N8 virus was responsible for the turkey deaths in two farms in the village of Stary Uscimow, which lies 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the borders with Ukraine and Belarus.

It was not clear how the bird flu virus found its way to the farms.