National Briefs: Farmer accused of starving cattle

Wisconsin State Farmer
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Farmer accused of starving more than 20 cattle, pigs

Whatcom Humane Society officials say a dairy farmer near Bellingham neglected more than 20 cattle and pigs for so long that some needed to be euthanized.

The Bellingham Herald reports 34-year-old Seth Snook, owner of Snook Brook Farms in Ferndale, faces five counts of animal cruelty. Whatcom Humane Society Executive Director Laura Clark says investigators earlier this month seized all of Snook's living animals - 23 cows. She says five had to be euthanized and the others are being given emergency treatment. According to charging papers, Snook said he couldn't afford to feed the animals.

Charges say an investigation of Snook's farm began in late March after the U.S. Department of Agriculture expressed concern about the animals in a report. Officials say they found the animals starving and that they'd been neglected for at least six months.


North Dakota agriculture trade delegation to Peru returns 

Officials with four North Dakota companies have returned from a trade mission to Peru where they promoted pulse crops such as dry beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils.

The North Dakota Trade Office helped organize the trip, and state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring led the delegation.

Goehring says Peru is a "highly promising" pulse crop market, because those crops are a staple of the Peruvian diet. North Dakota leads the nation in the production of many pulse crops.

The Trade Office also organized a trade mission to Peru in 2008.


Ohio farmers plant fewest wheat crops in state history

Ohio farmers are following a national trend by planting the fewest acres of wheat in state history but are expected to plant a record amount of soybeans this year.

The Columbus Dispatch reports 470,000 acres of wheat have been planted in Ohio this year. That's less than half the acreage planted eight years ago. Ohio farmers are expected to plant 5 million acres of soybeans in 2017.

Wheat prices are at 10-year lows after peaking at more than $10 a bushel in 2008.

Ohio farmers say changes in food trends and foreign competition is to blame for the reduce wheat acreage.

Wheat grows in a variety of climates but is only used for human consumption. People shying away from processed foods and gluten has led to declining demand.


Lawmakers OK limiting nuisance lawsuits against hog farms

North Carolina lawmakers decided on April 27 that hog and poultry operations should get added protection from lawsuits by neighbors complaining that swarms of flies and the intense stink of animal waste create a nuisance.

The Republican-dominated state House gave final approval to legislation restricting how much neighbors of high-density hog and poultry barns could collect if they prove a nuisance. The measure becomes law if it is signed by Gov. Roy Cooper.

The legislation was prompted by pending federal lawsuits involving about 500 rural neighbors against Murphy-Brown LLC, the North Carolina-based hog production division of Virginia's Smithfield Foods. They are U.S. subsidiaries of the Chinese company that is the world's largest pork producer.

Lawmakers changed the original language so that the new limits would not apply to the pending litigation.

The legislation is designed to undercut the appeal of such lawsuits for lawyers who would pursue cases with little or no upfront payment by plaintiffs and the hope of a big payday if they win a case.


Ag groups showcase technology, sustainability

A trio of industry groups hosted federal officials for a field day of demonstrations on seed treatments, planting practices, and equipment innovations that are bringing continuous improvement to sustainable farming practices.

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) hosted more than three dozen officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs for a series of hands-on presentations and product demonstrations.

The event offered an opportunity for producers and manufacturers to demonstrate cutting-edge technologies in each respective industry, and how these innovations have made modern agriculture more efficient and sustainable than ever. The product demonstration day took place on the working farm of NCGA Chairman Chip Bowling in Newburg, Maryland.


Häagen-Dazs Brand® digs into sustainable agriculture

The Häagen-Dazs brand is helping to change the way ingredients are grown to better support bee populations by working hand-in-hand with its farmer suppliers.

The internationally-recognized ice cream brand has installed one of the largest, privately funded pollinator habitats on the farmland of its almond supplier in California's Central Valley. No stranger to helping the bees, the brand aims to impact additional ingredients used throughout its super-premium ice cream portfolio and positively influence sustainable agriculture practices.

The "Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees" program launched in 2008, and is expanding from research and educational funding to hands-on initiatives that will rejuvenate pollinator habitats to allow native bees to flourish. Located in Chowchilla, CA, the habitat consists of six and a half miles of hedgerow and 11,000 native drought-tolerant shrubs and flowering plants, impacting 840 acres of farmland. In order to supply what pollinators need, the Häagen-Dazs brand worked with expert agronomists and the Xerces Society to maximize the impact of the habitat by choosing regional plants that are attractive to pollinators. Looking forward, the team will work to create custom habitats for more of its ingredient suppliers who depend on bees to pollinate their crops.

"Bees are critical to the environment, supporting one-third of the world's crops, including ingredients that are used in more than one-third of Häagen-Dazs ice cream flavors," says Alex Placzek, Director of the Häagen-Dazs brand. "Consumers want to know that they will be able to enjoy their favorite foods for years to come and that the ingredients used are grown in a responsible way. By proactively getting involved on the farms of our suppliers, we are staying true to our journey that began nearly 10 years ago to ensure that bees can continue to thrive and enrich the planet."