Weekly World News 25.11.16
Canada: Alberta Rancher says TB Quarantine Measures Lack Transparency
Since September 22nd an outbreak of bovine TB in Alberta has seen a quarantine imposed on 33 farms in Alberta, and two others more recently in Saskatchewan. While investigators from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) try to source the outbreak, farmers in Alberta are being forced into debt as they must continue feeding animals that cannot be sold and are ultimately likely to be destroyed.
Brad Osadczuk petitioned parliament in Ottawa on Tuesday seeking financial support. "It's been a long two months. As a community, it's been very tough on everybody. There's very little flow of information.” In his submission he told parliamentarians: “So we owe the bank hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we go, 'Oh, hey, by the way, we need a couple hundred thousand dollars for feed for some cows that are, in the end, going to die.” The CFIA will pay compensation for culled herds, but only to the value of the animals it kills. Feed costs incurred during the quarantine must currently be borne by the ranchers, who fear that the process could take two more months.
Ross White also gave evidence. He said: "We may well be quarantined by the buyers long after the CFIA quarantine has lifted. This truly was a disaster, and the way in which the quarantine was handled made the process even more devastating. The lack of communication and concern for us as ranchers running a business is totally lacking."
Canada: Alberta State of Agricultural Emergency Due to Poor Harvests
Alberta has declared a state of agricultural disaster due to terrible harvest conditions with rain and storms preventing farmers from bringing in their crops. Yellowhead and Parkland Counties were the latest to declare emergencies. 50% of cereal crops and 21% of oil seed rape is unharvested in Yellowhead County.
Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka said: “There are many years where growing conditions are perfect for farmers to have a highly productive season – this, unfortunately, was not one of them.” Now that winter is pretty-much in, many crops will have to stay in the fields until spring. Both Yellowhead and Parkland are applying for state relief.
Mark Cardinal, manager of Parkland County Agricultural Services said: “Right now in a significant number of acres across Parkland County, the excess moisture has made it very difficult for farmers to get into the fields and harvest their crops. There is simply still too much moisture in the ground. Unless the ground freezes and precipitation is at a minimum, most of these crops will have to remain on the ground until spring.”
Canada: Farmers Watch Move to Ban Another Neonicotinoid
Grain growers in Ontario are watching closely as federal law-makers move to phase out the use of the neonicotinoid pesticide, imidacloprid. Although it is not commonly used, two of its sister pesticides are highly popular seed treatments and any action against imidacloprid might soon be extended. The treatment is thought to be harmful to aquatic insects. “We kind of breathed a sigh of relief because it’s not one we rely heavily on” said Grain Farmers of Ontario chief Mark Brock, a Perth County cash crop farmer. “[But] what it’s done is trigger a special review of two ingredients we do use for corn and soybeans.”
Canada's federal body, Health Canada, called current use of neonicotinoids 'unsustainable', citing evidence that levels of pesticides in waterways are too high for insects to survive. As mayflies and midges form the staple diet of many other species, their disappearance is having knock-on effects. In addition it said that since 2014, restrictions on chemicals used in soya bean production have reduced bee deaths by 80%. Under these regulations farmers must prove that pests are present in the crop, to be allowed to spray the restricted chemical.
Brock said the he himself had lost three to four bushels (0.08-0.1 tonnes) per acre since the measures were taken and a farmers' study is being carried out to assess the loss to growers.
Health Canada said that levels of imidacloprid in water were found s high as 11.9 parts per billion, well above the .041 considered to be the highest safe threshold.
Germany: Peruvian Farmer Sues Energy Company Over Climate Change
A Peruvian farmer whose home and livelihood are threatened by melting glaciers in the Andes, is taking a case to the German courts against energy giant RWE over its contribution to climate change.
Saul Luciano Lliuya says that, as it is a historic major emitter of greenhouse gases, RWE is partially responsible for the melting of glaciers in Peru, which are causing flooding that threatens his home and livelihood. His German lawyer Roda Verheyen says that RWE is the "top single-greatest CO2-emitter in Europe" and alleges that it is responsible for 0.5% of total global emissions "since the beginning of industrialisation". Lliuya is supported by environmental group Greenwatch, which is using his suit as a test case, attributing responsibility to large polluters for climate change.
Mr Lliuya comes from the Ancash region of Peru, where glacial melt-waters have over-filled Palcacocha lake. Large chunks of melting glaciers falling down from the mountains threaten catastrophic floods. He says he has seen the Andes glaciers falling apart all his life: "Someone caused this. It's not right to remain silent. The world belongs to all of us, not just the polluters." Lliuva is seeking €17,000 to pay for flood defences for his community and €6,300 compensation for works already carried out. In a 2014 report, the US Agency for International Development said the lake is so swollen it is now a permanent threat.
RWE is sceptical about the legality of the case and denies responsibility. It says Lliuva has failed to demonstrate a clear link between CO2 emissions and the alleged danger of flooding, adding that emitting greenhouse gases is not illegal. Spokesman Guido Steffen said “We consider the complaint to be unfounded. There is no legal basis for the applicant's request.” He added: “We are making a huge contribution to the modernisation of coal-fired power plants in Germany [to reduce their CO2 emissions].” Steffen also pointed out that RWE are spending billions on renewable technologies. Source: Bangkok Post.
Australia: Victorian Dairy Farmers Owed Millions Feel Abandoned
Fiona and Linden Plant milk 900 cows in Gippsland, Victoria. Despite retrospective price cuts imposed earlier this year, they stayed faithful to milk broker National Dairy Company (NDC) until it went into administration last week, owing the Plants $240,000. NDC has debts of $4.5 million and it's unlikely anything will be left over when its only secured lender, Scottish Pacific, has been paid. Scottish Pacific expects to collect $1.1 million, but according to Deloitte Restructuring Services, “Beyond that, there are only a very small number of physical assets — two motor vehicles and some office equipment and furniture.”
Now the Plants find they are ineligible for the kind of state support that helped suppliers of larger dairy companies Murray Goulburn and Fonterra to overcome a terrible year for milk prices. Fiona Plant told ABC: "There's a lot of people out there hurting at the moment. We might not be 600 or 1,000 suppliers, but at the end of the day, we still have families to feed and employees to pay."
India: Agrarian Crisis Changing Face of Rural India
Global trade and price fluctuations are having a devastating effect on India's farming communities, who comprise 36% of India's households. A quarter of India's 1.27 billion population are farmers or farm workers and the sector provides 15% ($325 billion) of India's $2 trillion economy. But 80% of India's farms are small or marginal operations and they are ill-equipped to handle the impacts of world market forces. Many do not have access to credit, costs are spiralling and returns are less predictable.
Moin Qazi writes: “The small farmers have now to compete with the larger ones who are well endowed with capital, irrigation and supplementary businesses to buffer them against any adverse shocks. As fallout the farmers are facing what has been called a 'scissors crisis', which is driven by the rising cost of inputs without a commensurate increase in output price. A crop failure, an unexpected health expense or the marriage of a daughter are perilous to the livelihood of these farmers. An adverse weather change, for example, can lead to a drastic decline in output, and the farmer may not be able to recoup input costs, leave alone the ability to repay loans. Sometimes farmers have to plant several batches of seeds because they may go waste by delayed rains or even excess rains.”
For some farmers the crisis is overwhelming. Others have come together to form groups, scaling up productivity and lowering costs. It's a crisis that is changing the face of India's rural culture.
Singapore: Fronterra Creates a Virtual Dairy Experience
Delegates attending the recent NIZO Protein Dairy Conference in Singapore were treated to a virtual reality experience exploring a New Zealand Dairy farm. General Manager of NZMP Ingredients for South & East Asia (a Fronterra subsidiary) Hamish Gowans said: “With their headsets projecting 3-D images of a typical dairy farm environment, complete with sounds, delegates were able to get a sense of the origins of our dairy ingredients – a new experience for many.” The conference was focused on opportunities within the milk proteins sector, which is hoping to capitalise on growing consumer demand for protein food and beverage products. Fronterra is New Zealand's largest company and is responsible for 30% of the world's dairy exports.
USA: What will Trump mean for Kansas Agriculture?
Ryan Flickner is a Moundridge farmer and senior director of public policy for the Kansas Farm Bureau. He has Republican ties and worked for Senator Pat Roberts. He offers his opinion on why so many rural voters plumped for Trump, and on what Kansas farmers can expect from the new administration. “From Trump’s talk on eliminating the EPA altogether, it’s clear changes will happen under his presidency, and they should be positive for Kansas farmers and ranchers. In the past eight years, farmers, ranchers and others in the regulated industry have been forgotten and excluded in rulemaking.”
Flickner is in agreement with Trump's dislike for the Clean Waters Act, which was designed to protect public health and rescue endangered wildlife by improving rural water quality. Flickner said: “Regarding Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), [Trump] called it one of 'our most intrusive regulations,' and farmers and ranchers could not agree more. A few things could happen including Congress rescinding EPA/USACE’s final rule early next year, Trump’s EPA administrator may push to rescind the rule through a formal rulemaking process, or the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals could strike it down.”