Agriculture

Cows talk to each other, including about food, shocking new study says

Cows are able to “commooonicate” with each other, a startling new study says. Published in Scientific Reports in December, the study notes that Holstein-Fresian heifer cattle are able to communicate with one another, using their own distinct moos. The researchers, including lead researcher Alexandra Green, took 333 samples of cow vocalizations and analyzed them using acoustic analysis programs. They discovered the cows are able to give cues in certain situations and express different emotions, including excitement, arousal, engagement and distress. “We found that cattle vocal individuality is relatively stable across different emotionally loaded farming contexts,” Green said in a statement. Positive signs were seen when the females were in heat and when there was anticipation of being fed. Negative contexts were spotted when they were denied access to food and during “physical and visual isolation from the rest of the herd.” Cameron Clark, one of the study’s co-authors and Green’s academic supervisor, praised her research. “Ali’s research is truly inspired,” Clark said in the statement. “It is like she is building a Google translate for cows.” Previous research had revealed cows and their calves are able to communicate by keeping individuality in their lowing (the vocal sounds made by cattle), but Green’s research indicates that the individuality is kept throughout their entire lives and spread across the herd. “Cows are gregarious, social animals,” Green added. “In one sense it isn’t surprising they assert their individual identity throughout their life and not just during mother-calf imprinting. But this is the first time we have been able to analyze voice to have conclusive evidence of this trait.” Green hopes that her research will be used by farmers and integrated into their routines to better understand their animals and improve their well being. “Individual distinctiveness is likely to attract social support from conspecifics, and knowledge of these individuality cues could assist farmers in detecting individual cattle for welfare or production purposes,” the researchers wrote in the study’s abstract.

Fun!!  To read the study, click on the text above.     🙂

Trump signs memorandum diverting more water to California farmers

President Trump on Wednesday signed a memorandum directing more of California’s scarce water supply to farmers and other agriculture interests in the state’s Central Valley, a Republican stronghold. Speaking alongside House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the lawmaker’s hometown of Bakersfield, Trump boasted of how his administration reworked environmental rules to assure more water gets to farmers, while also taking shots at his political rivals – from California Gov. Gavin Newsom to Democratic presidential primary hopeful and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. “For too long water authorities have flushed millions of gallons into the Pacific,” Trump said. “I ordered the administration to update outdated opinions which determined water allocation in this state.” Trump added that he is going “to put a lot of pressure” on Newsom to enact the changes and if the California governor doesn’t follow through then “you’ll get a new governor.” Trump has long criticized the environmental rules governing the flow of water in California – calling the rules “insane” during a campaign stop in 2016 and pledging that he’d be “opening up the water” for farmers. The environmental rules are meant to ensure that enough water stayed in rivers and the San Francisco Bay to sustain more than a dozen endangered fish and other native species, which are struggling as agriculture and development diverts more water and land from wildlife. Environmental advocates and the state say the changes will allow federal authorities to pump more water from California’s wetter north southward to its biggest cities and farms. The Trump administration, Republican lawmakers and farm and water agencies say the changes will allow for more flexibility in water deliveries. In California’s heavily engineered water system, giant state and federal water projects made up of hundreds of miles of pipes, canals, pumps and dams, carry runoff from rain and Sierra Nevada snow melt from north to south — and serve as field of battle for lawsuits and regional political fights over competing demands for water. Environmental groups say the changes will speed the disappearance of endangered winter-run salmon and other native fish and make life tougher for whales and other creatures in the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. After an initial study by federal scientists found the rule changes would harm salmon and whales, the Trump administration ordered a new round of review, California news organizations reported last year. The overall effort “ensured the highest quality” of evaluation of the rule changes, Paul Souza, Pacific Southwest director for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement Tuesday. “We strongly disagree that the proposal will reduce protections for endangered species,” Souza said. Beyond operational changes in the federal Central Valley Project water system, the administration’s changes allow for more habitat restoration, upgrades in fish hatcheries and the water system itself, monitoring of species and other improvements, Souza said.

While we do not know the specifics, it appears that this decision was made after much thought and consideration.  California is controlled by the Democrat party in Sacramento with a supermajority / veto-proof majority in the state legislature and a VERY liberal Democrat governor who are all beholden to the extreme enviro-wakos there.  And, the state is so far in debt that it’s on the verge of bankruptcy.  So, it’s more than reasonable to assume that a little pushback by Trump for the benefit of those poor farmers trying to feed all of us is probably a good thing.  Of course we’ll continue to monitor this developing story and report any more details we hear about.

Trump’s China deal, USMCA relieve Iowa farmers rocked by trade war

Iowa’s farmers were among the biggest casualties of the U.S.-China trade war, but President Trump’s historic trade agreement has them confident of a comeback. The phase one deal comes on top of trade pacts his administration has negotiated with Canada, Mexico and Japan. Those four countries are the biggest buyers of U.S. agriculture, purchasing more than $62 billion of products in 2018. “You’re going to have to get bigger tractors and a hell of a lot more land,” Trump said at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, just days before the state’s caucuses to choose a Democratic candidate for president. A battleground state, Iowa gave its six electoral votes to Trump in 2016, and the state is important to his re-election bid this year. Its economy had been humming along before the outbreak of the trade war, growing at 5.4 percent and 4.2 percent in the first two quarters of 2018, before Trump imposed his first set of tariffs on Chinese goods on July 6. China responded by putting its own levies on U.S. goods, including soybeans. The nation had bought $12.5 billion of U.S. soybeans the year before, and Iowa was the largest producer, growing 562 million bushels, or about 22 percent of nation’s output. The state’s economy decelerated sharply as the tit-for-tat trade war escalated, growing just 1 percent in the third quarter before contracting 2 percent in the final three months of the year. It returned to growth in 2019, expanding at 2 percent, 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent in the first three quarters of the year. Trump responded to the trade war’s toll with two aid packages, totaling $28 billion, to help cushion the blow to U.S. farmers, whom he publicly praised. “What President Trump has done had to be done,” Roy Bardole, president of the Iowa Soybean Association, said…

For more, click on the text above…

Record Farm Yields Contradict Climate Doomsayers’ Claims

U.S. and global crop production continue to set new records, even as climate activists ramp up a campaign to convince people that climate change is decimating crop production and forcing farmers out of business. The latest misinformation was spread by Politico. Politico in October published an article titled, “‘I’m standing right here in the middle of climate change’: How USDA is failing farmers.” On December 9, Politico followed up with an article titled, “How a closed-door meeting shows farmers are waking up on climate change.” The October article claimed “American farmers are reeling” from extreme weather caused by climate change. The article also complained that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not devoting more money toward climate change programs. The December article asserted horrible “destruction wrought by catastrophic weather this year.” The article placed the blame on climate change and then trumpeted efforts to change government agriculture policy to focus on climate change. The Politico articles generated substantial attention from the media echo chamber, including Google News searches for “climate change” placing the Politico articles at the top of search results. Unfortunately for climate activists – but fortunately for farmers and the rest of us – the climate change crop scare is pure fiction. Presenting crop data collected by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the Global Economy website documents that U.S. crop yields are enjoying excellent short-term, mid-term, and long-term growth, with new records being set almost every year. According to the USDA publication, “Crop Production Historical Track Records,” the past three years produced the three highest U.S. wheat yields per acre in history. The past five years produced the five highest U.S. corn yields and the five highest soybean yields per acre in history. U.S. and global crop production are a story of steady growth and almost yearly new records as the Earth modestly warms. Even with the “catastrophic weather this year,” the USDA projects this year’s corn, soybean, and wheat yields to each be among the top six years all-time. Also, much of the problematic “catastrophic weather” occurred as part of early-spring snowstorms and late-fall snowstorms, which will continue to become less frequent and severe with ongoing modest warming. At the global level, the UN Food and Agriculture’s “World Food Situation” website documents the same strong, consistent crop growth globally, with new records being set virtually every year. The UN global crop production data is particularly helpful getting to the bottom of claims that climate change is a major factor in people attempting to enter the United States from Central America. NBC News, for example, published a July 2019 article titled, “Central America’s choice: Pray for rain or migrate.” The subtitle read, “Ravaged by drought, farmers in rural Honduras and Guatemala live on the edge of hunger.” The article placed the blame for drought, crop failures, and resultant migration on global warming. UN Food and Agriculture data, however, show Honduras and Guatemala are enjoying long-term growth in crop yields per acre, with record crop yields being set throughout the past decade. The same holds true for Mexico and nearly every other country in Central America. Ultimately, more atmospheric carbon dioxide has the same beneficial impact on farm production as it does in greenhouse growing facilities. Also, warmer temperatures bring longer growing seasons and fewer devastating frost events. U.S., Honduran, Guatemalan, and global crop data show that climate activists are telling tall tales when they assert that climate change is causing global or regional crop devastation. The proof is in the objective crop production data.

John Adams once said that “facts are stubborn things.”  Indeed..  Thanks to James Taylor (no, not the singer) for that enlightening op/ed. James is director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy at The Heartland Institute.  He can be reached at: JTaylor@heartland.org      Excellent!!      🙂

Farmers to feed cows seaweed to cut down on gas emissions

Coastal Maine has a lot of seaweed, and a fair number of cows. A group of scientists and farmers think that pairing the two could help unlock a way to cope with a warming world. The researchers — from a marine science lab, an agriculture center and universities in northern New England — are working on a plan to feed seaweed to cows to gauge whether that can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. About a quarter of the methane in the country comes from cattle, which produce the gas when they belch or flatulate. The concept of feeding seaweed to cows has gained traction in recent years because of some studies that have shown its potential to cut back on methane. The reduction might be because the seaweed interrupts the process of production of the gas in the animals’ guts. One of the big questions is which kinds of seaweed offer the highest benefit to farmers looking to cut methane, and the researchers hope to find out, said Nichole Price, a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Maine, and the project’s leader. “What on that list has the ability to do two things — not just reduce methane emissions, but have some health benefits for the cow that have a cost savings or cost efficiency for the farmer?” Price said. The researchers plan to conduct feeding trials with cows in Maine and New Hampshire in 2020 and 2021 to see whether seaweeds that can be used as cattle feed can cut the methane. They also intend to screen seaweeds for compounds that make them useful as cattle feed additives. The lab work to determine whether the seaweeds succeed in reducing methane will take place at University of Vermont.

Ok.. Let’s get this straight… Some eco-nerd scientists from the northeast are feeding cows SEAWEED (something that is NOT part of their normal diet) in an attempt to cut back on their farting. Even IF their weird science experience bears some fruit in terms of reduced cow farting, it opens up all sorts of questions like.. What effects will it have on the cows? Will the taste of the cow’s milk or steak be altered? And, will some federal or state governmental agency (or Dem-controlled legislature) seize on this and force farmers in the Midwest to feed their cows SEAWEED?…like that’ll ever happen, lol. For more of this crazy AP story, click on the text above.

Corn War? U.S. Farmers Say Mexico Needs American Corn

Some U.S. farmers say a Mexican lawmaker’s plans to introduce a new bill requiring the country to stop buying American corn and shift those purchases to South America seems more like tough talk than anything else. Mexico currently buys nearly all its corn from the U.S., totaling a quarter of all U.S. corn exports. While it’s a big market, American corn farmers describe it as a mutually beneficial relationship. “It’s not going to make sense for Mexico to buy from South America, from what they’re saying because they are going to see 10 –12 –15% increase in their costs. And, then you’re [going to] have to ship it on top of that,” Chad Etheridge, CEO of Growing America and Founder of Farmers for Trump, told FOX Business. “The likelihood of them actually doing that and spending an extra 15%, just because they’re unhappy with us, doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he adds. Currently, Mexico, which is the largest buyer of U.S. corn at 27%, (surpassing Japan last year, which fell to 22%), is also getting the crop at a very cheap price as the U.S. is seeing a surplus of the commodity in recent years. “Corn prices are now below the cost of production. There is just a lot of corn sitting around because we’ve had several good years of corn yields,” Kurt Hora, a corn farmer from Washington, Iowa and president of Iowa Corn Growers..

Definitely something to keep an eye on..  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.