National briefs: Northeast farmers face climate change challenges

Wisconsin State Farmer


Schumer wants more help for NY's craft beer industry 

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says there's more the federal government can do to help New York's growing craft beer industry. 

The Democratic lawmaker is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to add New York to a list of states eligible for a special federal crop insurance program for farmers who grow malt barley. 

Schumer says malt barley requires specific conditions to grow and can be a risky proposition for farmers in New York. He says that giving New York farmers greater crop insurance options will encourage more farmers to grow the crop. 

Demand for locally grown malt barley is expected to increase as brewers look for local ingredients to use in their beer.


Arizona man to be sentenced in standoff in Nevada

An Arizona man is due for sentencing in Las Vegas for his role in an armed standoff that stopped federal agents from rounding up cattle near Cliven Bundy's ranch in 2014. 

Gregory Burleson of Phoenix faces a minimum of 57 years in prison on Wednesday after being found guilty of eight criminal charges. They included threatening and assaulting a federal officer, carrying a weapon as part of a crime of violence, obstruction and traveling across state lines in aid of extortion. 

The 53-year-old Burleson was one of two defendants found guilty of some charges by a U.S. District Court jury that failed to reach verdicts for four other defendants. 

Todd Engel of Idaho is due for sentencing Sept. 28. 

The other four co-defendants are being retried, while Bundy and other defendants remain jailed pending trial later. 


Farmers and foresters to receive help adapting to climate 

Farmers and foresters in the Northeast facing challenges posed by climate change are the focus of a newly announced University of Vermont project. 

The University of Vermont Extension's center for sustainable agriculture says it will use a $248,900 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a curriculum geared at helping such workers plan for and adapt to climate change. 

The center's coordinator Joshua Faulkner says the emphasis will be on helping farmers and foresters learn from each other to help their businesses. 

The program will look at reducing pest damage, improving yield, managing water effectively, improving risk management and conserving soil and water. 

The project is part of a regional collaboration involving researchers in states such as Maine and New Hampshire. 


California's booming almond crop hits 1 million acres 

California's almond boom has hit 1 million acres, covering a total area bigger than the state of Rhode Island. 

The Record news of Stockton reports the state's almond harvest is expected to hit a record 2.2 billion pounds (1 billion kilograms) this year. 

Surging demand for almond snacks in Asia has helped make almonds California's richest agricultural export, passing wine grapes and other crops. 

The doubling of the state's almond acreage since 2000 is controversial because the state has frequent droughts, and nut trees can't be fallowed in a dry year. The Almond Board of California says the state has the most efficient almond growers in the world. 


Perdue Farms announces critical improvements to animal welfare policy 

Perdue Farms, the nation's fourth-largest poultry producer, today promised critical improvements to reduce suffering for chickens raised and slaughtered in its supply chain, including the following: 

Providing chickens more floor space with plans to further reduce stocking density.

Providing chickens six hours of darkness at night and increased light levels during the day, including natural light.  

Third-party monitoring of all processing facilities and conducting more research into breeds with measurably improved welfare. 

Perdue's announcement comes just weeks after a national survey found four out of five Americans want restaurants and grocers to implement policies that eliminate the worst forms of cruelty to chickens in their supply chains.  

Perdue also promised to meet the current and future demands of food companies that have committed to using only chickens raised according to Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards and slaughtered using controlled atmosphere stunning.

This is a first-of-its kind pledge among large poultry producers.  


Punishing drought takes toll on crops across Northern Plains 

A punishing drought that stretches across much of the U.S. Northern Plains could cause farmers to lose 64 million bushels of wheat production this year, according to federal officials. 

That dire projection comes as northeast Montana experiences the worst drought in the country, with similar dry conditions in neighboring North Dakota and South Dakota.

The federal government has declared numerous counties in the three-state region to be disaster areas and authorized haying and grazing on land meant for conservation to help alleviate the conditions. 

Federal agriculture officials have labeled as poor or very poor more than half of Montana's 2017 crops of spring wheat, lentils and durum. Combined, the three crops were valued at more than $600 million in 2016. 

A scant 1.2 inches of rain have been recorded since April 1 in the small town of Nashua on the edge of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.