Ag Today November 17, 2020

Progressives have knives out for Heitkamp as USDA race intensifies [Politico]

Progressives within agriculture are mounting an aggressive push to keep former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp from being selected to serve as Agriculture Secretary in a Biden administration. The tension is emerging right as Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) has begun publicly gunning for the top job at USDA, a sprawling $150 billion department that feeds millions of low-income households, oversees agriculture policy and supports the farm economy….A coalition of more than a dozen groups is preparing to publicly oppose Heitkamp in the coming days. They include Family Farm Action, Organic Consumers Association, HEAL Food Alliance, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Food and Water Watch, People’s Action, Women Food and Agriculture Network and Center for Food Safety.


UC Santa Cruz researchers develop environmentally, sustainable fish feed [Santa Cruz Sentinel]

UC Santa Cruz researchers Pallab Sarker and Anne Kapuscinski made a scientific breakthrough Thursday, changing the landscape of aquaculture and its future practice. Aquaculture is a growing practice across the world, according to Kapuscinski. The number of fish eaten from fish farms is roughly even with the number of wild fish consumed, especially as the demand for fish has grown….Other fish feeds use corn and soy as base ingredients. This has also been shown to be an unsustainable practice. The act of growing food, that could be consumed by people, to feed fish to be consumed by people is an unnecessary step in the process of food production. Problems like these are why Sarker and Kapuscinski conducted research that developed more sustainable fish feed for fish farmers to use. Their formula is derived from two microalgae, nannochloropsis and schizochytrium. Both of these algae are high in protein and are what fish like tilapia feed on in the wild, Kapuscinski said.


Cal/Osha fines Farmer John for hundreds of COVID-19 cases [Associated Press]

Southern California’s huge Farmer John meatpacking plant on the edge of Los Angeles has been assessed more than $58,000 for safety violations state officials say exposed more than 300 workers to COVID-19 infections, including three who were hospitalized….The plant’s corporate owner, Smithfield Foods of Virginia, said Monday it has worked hard to ensure employees at all its plants remain safe from COVID-19 and will aggressively contest the $58,100 in proposed penalties….“In the absence of leadership from Smithfield, we have taken it on ourselves to call for safer working conditions and an investigation from Cal/OSHA,” said Farmer John employee Jose Guzman.


Study: Low food-safety risk at Northern California farmers markets [Davis Enterprise]

A new study by UC Davis researchers finds a low risk of contamination of foodborne pathogens on produce and meat at Northern California certified farmers markets, but still finds cause for some concern. The study, published in the Journal of Food Protection, examined the prevalence of salmonella on meat and produce, as well as the prevalence of generic E. coli on produce. Samples were taken from 44 certified Northern California farmers markets, including in the Sacramento region and Bay Area….“Based on this data, I think it’s safe to consume meat and produce from farmers markets,” said lead author Alda Pires, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist and research scientist in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “That’s a low risk of contamination of foodborne pathogens, especially salmonella.”


Operator of popular Bay Area pumpkin patch sells off more property [Bay Area News Group]

Bay Area investors have bought a chunk of Morgan Hill farmland from a well-known agricultural family that was the one-time operator of a popular but now-shuttered pumpkin patch. Uesugi Farms has sold a property in Morgan Hill, a deal that extends the selling activity by the long-time farming family, according to Santa Clara County public documents….The price for the Uesugi farmland acreage in Gilroy was $7.5 million, county documents show.


Japanese ‘Monster Wolf’ aims to scare off wild bears [New York Times]

After bears kept venturing into the city in search of food, officials installed mechanical wolves with bared teeth, glowing red eyes and a fearsome screech to keep the animals away….The wild bears were becoming more than a nuisance, lumbering into a small Japanese city on the northern island of Hokkaido in search of food and increasing the risk of deadly encounters with humans….The mechanical wolf, originally developed by the machinery maker Ohta Seiki, stands 2.6 feet tall and is four feet long, its maker said. But when planted high in a field, it appears more than a match for a wild bear….With fake fur, bared fangs and flashing red eyes, the wolf turns its head from side to side and makes howling, screeching sounds when its motion detectors are triggered. The screech can travel about a kilometer, and it comes in more than 60 varieties, including a dog’s bark, a hunter’s voice and gunshots.


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