Tuesday Roundup: Popular Ag Programs Cut

Share This:

More people than ever want to learn about how to farm (especially women from the cities). But state budget cuts are reducing the size of ag programs in one of the nation’s most important farm states.

Cuts to higher education in California are affecting college farms, the L.A. Times reports. “Some schools have been forced to close departments, sell farms, reduce animal herds and scale back research projects, even as enrollment in many agricultural disciplines grow,” Carla Rivera reports. 

Cal Poly Pomona once had five majors in the plant sciences department. Now it has just one. Meanwhile, enrollment in the school’s ag college has grown 21% since 2005 to about 1,500 students, “most from urban areas and many of them women.”

Rivera reports:

At Cal State Fresno, state support to operate the campus’ 1,050-acre farm has fallen to about 25% of its total operating cost of nearly $6 million, said Charles Boyer, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences & Technology. A decade ago, the state covered about 70% of the farm’s budget, he said…

State support for agricultural and natural resource programs at UC campuses in Berkeley, Davis and Riverside has dropped 15% to 20% in the last three years, officials said. As a land-grant university, UC also receives federal funding and operates county-based cooperative extension programs, 4-H youth programs and nine research centers.

• Our Missouri friends are still covered in water and here in Texas we will have over 30 days in a row over 100 degrees (a record) with no rain in months.

There are tribulations everywhere. On the East Coast, we see there is a stink bug invasion. The flat, brown bugs love the apple crop, eating $37 million worth last year. But…,

Government entomologists say this year’s plague seems worse in many areas, and they expressed a particular worry about this invasive species from Asia, which has no natural predators in the United States. The warmth-loving insects appear to be migrating from eastern Pennsylvania, where they were first spotted in 1998, to the sunny Southeast, where the population might explode.

“If they get to Florida, it could be like the atomic bomb going off,” said Douglas G. Luster, research leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. “They’re starting to show up in North Carolina.”

• Tyson Foods reported a 21 percent drop in profit in the third quarter, due to higher grain costs and a lagging chicken market. An oversupply of chicken has depressed prices in the poultry market. 

DTN reports that folks in the upper Great Plains shouldn’t expect to see a lot of road work in the coming months (years??). 

• The Union of Concerned Scientists says farmers markets could create tens of thousands of new jobs with only modest federal support. 

The group notes that the number of farmers markets has more than doubled from 2000 to 2010, from 2,863 to 6,132. It asserts that a small amount of federal support could keep this trend in place. 

Meanwhile, AgriPulse reports that the number of farmers markets has grown 17% since 2010, according to USDA, to over 7,000. 

• The Weston A. Price Foundation says in a press release that it finds small risk in raw milk:

Data gleaned from U.S. government websites and government-sanctioned reports on foodborne illnesses show that the risk of contracting foodborne illness by consuming raw milk is much smaller than the risk of becoming ill from other foods, according to research by Dr. Ted Beals, MD, appearing in the Summer, 2011 issue of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

“At last we have access to the numbers we need to determine the risk of consuming raw milk on a per-person basis,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation that provides information on the health benefits of raw, whole milk from pastured cows.

The key figure that permits a calculation of raw milk illnesses on a per-person basis comes from a 2007 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) FoodNet survey, which found that 3.04 percent of the population consumes raw milk, or about 9.4 million people, based on the 2010 census. This number may in fact be larger in 2011 as raw milk is growing in popularity.  For example, sales of raw milk increased 25 percent in California in 2010, while sales of pasteurized milk declined 3 percent.

In addition, Dr. Beals has compiled published reports of illness attributed to raw milk from 1999 to 2010.  During the eleven-year period, illnesses attributed to raw milk averaged 42 per year. 

“Using government figures for foodborne illness for the entire population, Dr. Beals has shown that you are about thirty-five thousand times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk,” says Fallon Morell. “And with good management practices in small grass-based dairies offering fresh unprocessed whole milk for direct human consumption, we may be able to reduce the risk even further.”

• Ken Ward Jr. reports that the share of electricity in the country produced by coal is at a 30-year low. 

 

Topics: Uncategorized
x

News Briefs