Thursday, 31 January 2013

Pryor to chair Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2013 - Senator Mark Pryor, D-Ark., announced Wednesday that he will chair the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.

As Chairman, Pryor will be responsible for funding federal programs that benefit farmers, producers, and rural communities. In addition to funding the USDA, Pryor’s subcommittee will also be responsible for funding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Whether it’s rice, cotton, or poultry, there’s no question that agriculture is critical to our state’s economy,” Pryor said. “As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations, I’ll fight to ensure that Arkansas receives its fair share of federal dollars so we can keep our agricultural sector strong.”

According to the University of Arkansas, agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, contributing an estimated $17 billion to the state’s economy each year. The agricultural sector also supports over 275,000 jobs, $10.7 billion in labor income, and more than $3 billion in exports annually.

“We are pleased to see Senator Pryor receive this appointment, and given agriculture's significance to the Arkansas economy, we feel this is very appropriate,” said Randy Veach, President of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. “Having Senator Pryor to lead the agricultural appropriation subcommittee will further strengthen Arkansas agriculture, and we congratulate him on this important appointment.”
Original article Here

Our Turn: New England agriculture gets a new voice in D.C.

New Hampshire may have a new all-women dream team representing it in Congress, but forging a path for women may not be their only opportunity. Flying under the radar is the fact that 2nd District Rep. Annie Kuster is now a member of the House Agriculture Committee, the first representative from New Hampshire in many years.

While it may seem an odd match for a state not known for agriculture, it is really indicative of how local, sustainable agriculture is on the rise in our region. Kuster’s seat on this committee is an opportunity for the agricultural community of New England and for area consumers whose interest in knowing more about their food has been steadily mounting. Now more than ever, people are becoming more connected with the source of their food and recognizing that what they eat is closely linked to their health, as well as to the health of the environment and their local communities.

This heightened consumer awareness is helping to keep New England farms in business, especially the hundreds of organic dairies in the region. Not only are these dairy farms an iconic part of our New England landscape, but they are also a critically important part of our local economy.

On the political front, we see evidence of the growing importance of New England agriculture in the establishment and growth of the New England Farmers Union. The diverse membership of this group, from century-old family farms to young urban farmers, is a testament to the surge in the region’s interest in producing and eating local, sustainable food and the need for advocating for policies that better serve our farmers.

New Hampshire’s agricultural economy is small in comparison with other states, but it still accounts for nearly $1 billion in economic activity and thousands of jobs. It also helps conserve our landscapes, both farm and forest. Well-managed farm and forestland contribute to improved soil health and water quality, and provide wildlife habitat and recreational use. Federal farm programs that support better management on these lands are essential to maintaining these benefits.

One of the first orders of business Kuster will have to deal with is the farm bill, which affects New Hampshire and New England in ways we rarely hear about. It’s critical to our region’s conservation and forestry programs, and it also holds the key to nutrition initiatives that will help families in need get greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms.


Over the past few years, we’ve seen the introduction of a variety of farm bill programs that would really help our area. They focus on organic agriculture and fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as beginning farmers and ranchers. Programs designed to help build local food systems really help our area. Unfortunately, Congress gutted all of these programs, including the nation’s largest conservation program, when it extended the farm bill as part of the fiscal cliff deal passed early this year.

This year Congress has a chance to reauthorize this bill, restore funding for these critical programs, and make much needed reforms to the farm safety net. While this won’t be easy, especially in light of the need to reduce the federal deficit, it’s never been more important for Congress to deliver a farm bill that meets the needs of both consumers and agriculture. A more regionally diverse agriculture committee is sure to do a better job of this than one that is stacked with members from the Corn Belt.

We’re counting on Kuster to make hay of this opportunity.
Original Article Here

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Syrian conflict sends agriculture into shambles

Almost two years of civil war has devastated Syria’s once growing agricultural sector and rapidly created a food security crisis for its population of more than 22 million people, a United Nations mission found last week.

With 10% of the population already in need of food assistance, the blow taken by farming is expected to push the crisis even deeper, said Dominique Burgeon, director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Emergency and Rehabilitation Division.

“In terms of food security, the coping strategies of many families are exhausted and they rely almost exclusively on food assistance. Our colleagues from WFP (the World Food Programme) are currently providing food assistance to 1.5 million people in Syria and are looking to further increase this number,” Burgeon told www.freshfruitportal.com.

“Within the 2013 Syria Humanitarian Action Response Plan (SHARP), FAO appealed for USD34.85 million to help small-scale farmers and herders in need of emergency agriculture assistance. This includes seeds, fertilizer, animal feed, poultry production packages and veterinary drugs. These proposed activities remain largely unfunded.”

Burgeon described a vibrant agricultural sector pre-conflict, comprised in large part by fruit production which accounted for 32% of output. In 2009, agriculture employed an estimated 17% of the population and generated 21% of the gross domestic product, the director said.

Once a net importer, Burgeon said Syria had recently achieved exporter status for products such as fruits, vegetables, cotton and other food products.

On the Jan. 18-22 mission to Damascus and the governorates of Homs and Dara’a, however, farming was found to be hanging by a thread.

Wheat and barley production had dropped to less than half of its typical level, while vegetable output decreased by 60% in Homs. Among other impeding factors, the mission found a lack of fuel, damage to major irrigation canals, and low access to agriculture inputs such as seeds and fertilizer.

Overall, only 45% of farmers had been able to fully harvest their crops; 14% of those who did not harvest attributed the issue to insecurity or lack of fuel.

Burgeon appealed for seeds, fertilizers, animal feed, veterinary drugs, poultry and rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure to help the sector get back on its feet. In the long term, he said debt and the loss of assets could mean a large section of the population may never recover.

“From an economic perspective, the conflict has severely affected the food supply chain. On one side, production has been disrupted with a sharp reduction in the availability of locally produced food,” he said.

“The population is increasingly selling their productive and non-productive assets, incurring debts and substantially reducing essential expenditures and food consumption. As the crisis further deepens, the humanitarian needs of the population will become more and more acute.”

Burgeon asked the international community to scale up its efforts to develop a humanitarian response. He said SHARP will cost an estimated US$519 million, only 4% of which has been funded.

The FAO currently works in other conflict zones to alleviate similar agriculture crises. In Afghanistan, the organization supports local seed production. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, quality seeds, farming tools and technical training have been provided to assist production. The FAO also runs similar operations in Somalia, Yemen, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Sudan and South Sudan.

Photo: Flickr, FreedomHouse
Original Article Here

Wash. Department of Agriculture offers grants

By Tri-City Herald Staff

KENNEWICK, WA — The Washington State Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant.

Approximately $3 million in federal money will be available to enhance the state’s fruit, vegetable and nursery industry. Requests can be made for grants between $25,000 and $250,000 to fund projects on pest and disease control, food safety, international trade, sustainability and more.

Pre-proposals are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 25 at specialtycrop@agr.wa.gov. Invitations for full proposals will be sent in early April.

For more information and forms, visit agr.wa.gov/Grants/SCBGP.

Original Article Here

Plant botanical names

Plants receive their botanical names in order to be officially classified and organised in terms of family, genus and species.

Latin is most commonly used when designating a plant’s botanical name. Historically, this was due to the fact that Latin was an internationally recognised language and was even taught in schools. There are also a number of plants with Greek botanical names as this culture also established a classification system for naming plants.

The botanical name of a plant may be defined by the family group it belongs to, by individual physical features, or sometimes named after its discoverer.

Did you know?
  • Plants can also be named after someone other than its discoverer, such as the Nepenthes attenboroughii, which is a giant pitcher plant that was discovered by three men in the Philippines and named after the broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
  • The very first ‘plants’ on Earth were cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, that was discovered to have lived around 3.5 billion years ago.
  • There are 298,900 accepted species of plant in the world today, with 263,925 ‘unresolved’, which means they have yet to be classified.
Original Article Here

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Completing the Census of Agriculture is important to your farm

By DALE HILDEBRANT

Taking a few minutes to complete the 2012 Census of Agriculture will give each farmer and rancher an opportunity to help shape farm programs, boost rural services and grow your operation’s future. The Census, which is conducted every five years by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, provides detailed data covering nearly every facet of the nation’s agricultural industry. It looks at land use and ownership, production practices, expenditures and other factors that affect the way farmers to business and succeed in the 21st Century.

“The 2012 Census of Agriculture provides farmers with a powerful voice. The information gathered through the Census influences policy decisions that can have a tremendous impact on farmers and their communities for years to come," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "I strongly encourage all farmers, no matter how large or small their operation, to promptly complete and return their Census, so they can voice to the nation the value and importance of agriculture.”

All farmers and ranchers should receive a Census form in the mail by early January, according to Patrick Boyle, deputy director of the NASS North Dakota Field Office.

“The Ag Census provides a lot of our benchmark numbers that our other programs revolve around,” Boyle said. “We attempt to contact every producer in the state. None of our other surveys have that broad a scope, so this really serves as the benchmark for our programs internally.

“But more importantly, the information gathered is used by Congress and by policy makers at the federal, state and even local level.”

The Census form is 26 pages in length and officials estimate it should take an average of 50 minutes to complete, according to Boyle. Those with smaller operations may find it takes less time to complete, while those with larger, more complex enterprises may take a bit longer. Producers can either fill out the copy they receive in their mail box, or complete the Census form online at a secure website: www.agcensus.usda.gov. Everyone receiving a Census of Agriculture form is required by federal law to complete the form and return it by the established deadline, which is Feb. 4, 2013.

Even though the general population Census is taken every 10 years, the Census of Agriculture is taken every five years because there are so many changes that occur within the agricultural industry, Boyle said. Agricultural information was gathered with the population census until 1840 and was collected every 10 years until 1950, when it was decided to collect ag data every five years. Between 1954 and 1974 the U.S. Census Bureau conducted the Census of Agriculture in years ending in 4 and 9. However, following the Census of Agriculture in 1978, the Census Bureau and USDA decided to conduct ag census in years ending in 2 and 7 in order to align it with the Economic Census and the Census of Governments.

Federal law requires all agricultural producers who had more than $1,000 in product sales in 2012 to participate in the Census. Even though the number of individuals receiving Census of Agriculture forms has remained relatively stable for the past few times, Boyle noted, the number of large farmers continues to decline nationwide, which makes it even more important that everyone complete a census form.

“In a statistical sense, the smaller your sample size the more influential each record can be,” Boyle said, referring to the declining number of large farms. “If someone doesn’t send their form in we are going to have to make our best estimate on what’s going on at their farm. We know the best source of information is from the producers, not what we can interpolate on other records.

“The return that they get for the little time they invest is high. It may not be a direct return, but indirectly, they benefit greatly by taking a few minutes by filling out the form and getting it back to us.”

All individual information gathered from the Census is kept confidential, Boyle noted.

Citing the importance of the Census of Agriculture to North Dakota’s ag industry, Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring encouraged producers to fill out and file the Census form.

“It is especially important in North Dakota, where agriculture is the largest segment of our economy,” Goehring said. “This is a major opportunity for farmers and ranchers to influence the decision that will shape the future of their operations, their communities and the entire agricultural industry.” 

With the number of those involved in production agriculture, Vilsack said it is important that rural America tell their story to the rest of the nation, and the Ag Census helps with that challenge.

“Along with their accomplishments as business men and women, farmers know about the challenges they face in their local areas,” said Vilsack. “Taking part in the Census is increasingly important to farmers and every community in America because it provides important information and helps tell the true story about the state of agriculture in the United States today.” 
Original Article Here

UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences sees increased enrollment

Agricultural departments at universities across the nation have seen a rise in both undergraduate and graduate enrollment.

The number of undergraduate students enrolled in agriculture programs nationwide has risen more than 17 percent since 2006 and continues to increase, according to the Food and Agricultural Education Information System database.

In the fall of 2011, there were 3,265 students enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the UA, an increase of more than 1,000 students from 2006, according to the UA Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support.

The agriculture college at the UA is promoting the growth in enrollment by adding multiple program specialties and facilities.

The UA has four Tucson Area Agricultural Centers that provide students with a location to research and study food production, greenhouse production and breeding. There is also a 50,000-acre range outside of Tucson that is used for research studies and several direct internships that are available to students to help increase the appeal of the program and promote a higher standard of education in agriculture.

“It is absolutely critical that farmers stay highly educated and proactive in increasing productivity on their farms in an efficient manner,” said Steve Husman, director of UA’s Tucson Area Agricultural Centers. ”There is absolutely no question that agriculture production is going to be as important, if not more so, in the future from the challenges relative to population increase.”

Husman said the rise in the number of students going to college to study agriculture is thought to be a product of technological advancements in the industry.

“Farming has become an increasingly high-technology based operation,” Husman said.

With the invention of genetically modified organisms and other advances in efficient productivity, agriculture has become increasingly science based. Farming is no longer thought of as a profession that does not require a college degree, according to some.

“When people think agriculture, they think sows, plows and cows,” said Andie Tanner, a senior studying agricultural technology management and education. “Agriculture isn’t that way anymore. 
Agriculture is science and people forget that.”

Some believe students are attracted to the industry because it demands innovation and creativity to thrive, and with the combination of potential profitability and rapid development of the agricultural business, it can lead to a secure and successful career.

“The future of farming is very positive and the reason is really quite simple; it’s all based upon supply and demand and world population,” Husman said. “The farmers are challenged to find more efficient ways to produce increasing amounts of food and fiber for the population of the world.”

The youth movement has already begun in the community with large farms encouraging the involvement of young people. RichCrest Farms, located in Cochise, Ariz., promotes youth participation by partnering with programs that bring children to the farms to experience what it has to offer.

“A lot of people in their 20’s, they don’t look at being a farmer as a career. I think if more people came to the farmers’ markets and the U-pick’s and stuff like that, then the youth will see that there is a career in that,” said Josh Dumas, a farmer from RichCrest Farms.
Original Article Here

WA’s ‘tough’ soil challenges future agriculture practice

WITHIN the context of impending climate variability and the uncertainty of unstable markets, soil experts are speaking up about the necessity to continue focusing on the State’s land management practices.

“Especially in the south-west of WA, we were dealt a really ‘difficult hand’ in terms of soil, in that many of the soils in that region are notoriously low in fertility,” Murdoch University soil fertility and land management specialist Professor Bell says.

“This arises from the fact that it is an old landscape that has been deeply weathered for millions of years—unlike much of Europe where glaciation stripped away all the old soils and they’ve got newly weathered soils that are no more than 10,000-years-old in some cases.”

According to Soils For Life, a non-for-profit organisation committed to sustainable environmental practice that undertakes studies in WA; Australia, “needs to redesign itself to ensure resilience of our agriculture system and the ecosystem on which it depends”.

They claim future challenges include; an increasingly arid landscape; increased erosion; longer drought and consequently more bushfires; more severe storms; population growth and therefore need for food production.

They also estimate WA’s salinity has been spreading at the rate of about a football ground per hour.

Unfortunately, Prof Bell says we do not have solutions for this major problem yet but are developing techniques in the right direction.

Techniques include a greater use of perennial plants in the landscape: planting oil mallee, tree forages like tagasaste, and saltbush.

“Farmers are adopting many of these, and we’ve actually been saved somewhat by droughts of the past decade that have halted salinity, but if we go back to a series of wet seasons we will see salinity back on the agenda,” Prof Bell says.

He also says soil acidity is an ongoing issue and Australian farming methods tend to cause soils to acidify over time.

“You can arrest that with adding lime, but farmers aren’t currently using anywhere near as much lime as they would need to hold the problem, generally because of cost,” he says.

“The benefit of lime only pays off after 3-5 years, rather than immediately.”

There are other techniques experts and organisations like Soils For Life are striving to achieve sustainable agricultural practice too, such as; encouraging natural biological cycles and nutrient transfer; time-controlled planned grazing; and investing in revegetation.

For some commentators though, such as Jared Diamond in his recent book Collapse, the future of Australian soils and agriculture still looks grim.

However, Prof Bell says many such reports tend to have a “historical” perspective.

“The evidence that’s the easiest to report and scrutinise tends to be at least 10 years out of date, compared to what’s happening now,” he says.
Original Article Here

Africa: Supporting Women in Agriculture for a 'Prosperous' Africa

BY SAMANTHA NKIROTE MCKENZIE

The African Union (AU) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but instead of looking back, the current chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, seems intent on casting her vision ahead to an Africa 50 years from now. Her hope is that it will be "a prosperous Africa at peace with itself".

Dlamini-Zuma admits that this will not be easy, and she sees human and agricultural development as critical to the realisation of the Africa she envisions. "Agriculture is very central not only in providing nutrition, food and food security but also in stimulating industrialisation," said Dlamini-Zuma, speaking last week at the bi-annual Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) meeting.

Calling on the support of the 55 civil society organisations that make up the GIMAC network, she said, "The AU can only coordinate, facilitate and advocate but the actual work, in the end, has to be done at the national level by yourselves."

The unique and powerful role GIMAC can play was echoed by Frannie Léautier, the executive secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF). Léautier said GIMAC's connections at the grassroots level and its ability to "break doors in the halls of power whether it is at the pan-African, country, chamber of commerce or ministry level" allows for "holistic vertical and horizontal change".

In Africa, women play a vital role in agriculture and nutrition, but they face significant challenges. Léautier believes there are three key rights the GIMAC network needs to address if it aims to transform the role women play in agriculture: land rights; the right to conduct of cross-border trade without harassment; and the right to own businesses and conduct business across borders.

Another challenge that African women face in the agriculture sector is climate change. Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland who leads the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice has brought to GIMAC her passion to raise awareness about what she says is the injustice of how climate change is undermining livelihoods, particularly in developing countries. Bineta Diop, the founder of GIMAC, affectionately refers to Robinson as her "African sister".

Speaking to reporters after the GIMAC meeting, Robinson said she was impressed by how the women of GIMAC had adopted climate justice as part of their core agenda, and she applauded their focus on the role of women in agriculture because, she said, "food and nutrition is at the heart of development."

Last July GIMAC, in partnership with ACBF and under the patronage of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, launched an initiative to empower women in agriculture. In its first phase, the initiative is carrying out a baseline study to determine what work is being done regarding women and agriculture. This will then determine what key areas the initiative will focus on.
Original Article Here

Ontario’s premier designate takes on agriculture

by SUSAN MANN

Agriculture is a priority for the Liberal government, says premier designate Kathleen Wynne and that’s why she plans to be agriculture minister for up to a year, along with being premier.

Wynne made the comments during a televised session speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park in Toronto today before going into her first Caucus meeting. They follow up on a promise that she had made early on during the Liberal leadership campaign.

The MPP for Don Valley West in Toronto was elected Ontario Liberal leader at the party’s convention in Toronto Saturday. She takes over from out-going Premier Dalton McGuinty, who resigned last fall.

She couldn’t be reached for comment.

On her campaign website, Wynne lists the re-introduction of local food legislation as a priority for agriculture and rural Ontario.

Other priorities include:

• Streamlining regulation and creating a single window approach to government;
• Developing a regional and community transportation strategy;
• Reviewing small municipalities’ share of provincially-mandated programs; and
• Ensuring “a sustainable Ontario Horse Racing industry and increased municipal autonomy and local control on the siting of green energy infrastructure.”

In an interview Monday, Ontario Agriculture Minister Ted McMeekin says he is prepared to step aside to enable Wynne to take on the agriculture ministry.

Even though that would mean losing a job he loves, McMeekin says he isn’t worried about himself. “I’m worried about the agricultural and agri-food people and rural Ontario. If I’ve got a new premier who wants to take the lead on those files and commit the resources to that and the time and energy, I’ll gladly step out of the way.”

In fact, McMeekin says during the Liberal leadership race he suggested to Wynne she become the agriculture minister after she said she wanted to highlight the whole area and “make some important progress advancing agriculture, food and rural affairs issues.” McMeekin says that’s what Premier McGuinty did when he wanted to highlight research; he also named himself research and innovation minister.

Wynne’s background “is one of bringing people together and doing some creative problem solving. I think she’ll continue to do that and that’s why I supported her (in the leadership campaign),” says McMeekin, the MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough- Westdale.

Farm leaders say it’s a positive development if Wynne becomes agriculture minister along with being premier.

Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Mark Wales says Wynne taking on the agriculture ministry while she’s premier means she’s willing to highlight how important agriculture and rural Ontario are to the economy of Ontario.

Wales says Wynne will obviously have to do a balancing act because she will have a lot on her plate as premier.

The agricultural industry’s challenge will be to ensure Wynne gives the agriculture ministry the attention it deserves. Wynne must ensure she chooses a very strong parliamentary assistant who can be very active getting to know farmers and “who we can work with,” Wales says. “I think the realization is out there that agriculture, agri-food and agri-business are a huge employer in Ontario” responsible for 164,000 direct on-farm jobs and $7 billion in wages.

Lorne Small, Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario president, says Wynne has a reputation of being compassionate and concerned about a broad range of issues. “I think she’s going to be very receptive to the issues facing Ontario agriculture.”

But more importantly he’s delighted the Ontario legislature is being reopened soon and the “legislature can get back to work.” Premier McGuinty prorogued the legislature last fall when he resigned.

Oxford MPP and Progressive Conservative agriculture critic Ernie Hardeman says he congratulates Wynne for winning the Liberal leadership race. But he’s not so hot on the idea of her serving double duty as the province’s agriculture minister.

Hardeman says having the premier also be the agriculture minister means
the industry won’t be well served because the voice of agriculture will be just a small part of the premier’s voice. “I think we need a minister who can talk to the premier and look after the needs of agriculture.”

Hardeman says Wynne is very busy now as she deals with the task of becoming the premier and agriculture is not her number one priority. But “I think we need someone in the position that, in fact, it is their number one priority to do the things that need doing.”
Original Article Here

Iraqi Agriculture in Crisis

By: Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse.
Beset by a lack of expertise, capability and workforce, agriculture in Iraq — and other sectors of the economy — is dysfunctional.

In the mid-1990s, following the invasion of Kuwait, an economic blockade was imposed on Iraq, preventing the import of vital goods. Vast tracts of Iraqi land were used at the time to meet 50% of the domestic wheat demands.
According to experts, agriculture represented 7% of Gross National Product (GNP) in the 1990s.
In the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war, agricultural productivity decreased by 90%. The workforce shifting toward state employment, a lack of government subsidization and the lingering effects of long years of severe drought all took their toll on agriculture. From 2004 until 2010, Iraq witnessed its driest winters on record.
Across large swaths of Iraq, wheat crops rely heavily on rain. This agriculture is widely spread in Kurdistan, the provinces of Anbar and Saladin, the city of Mosul and some southern regions, all of which typically experience high amounts of rainfall.
Saddam Hussein’s regime succeeded in persuading the owners of large agricultural holdings to invest in wheat through tripling the prices paid for the crops. When the government of Nouri al-Maliki, on the other hand, followed Saddam’s steps in 2008 by doubling the prices, they aroused little interest on the part of farmers.
For years now, the amount of wheat bought by the Ministry of Trade from local farmers has been steady and not seen any sort of rise, even when prices doubled. As this quantity has increased by 10% since the year 2009, the absence of local contribution has become even more apparent.
Raad Khalil, an Iraqi in his thirties, says that he “temporarily” works in agriculture. “I am looking for a government job, and there are a few officials who have promised to hire me,” he adds. Khalil owns 7,000 square metres of land along the Euphrates River near al-Ramadi, one of Iraq’s biggest towns.
“Agriculture is a hard task to perform and does not provide a steady livelihood; I have a family whose needs I must meet. At times, I make $500 per month, other times only $100 and on occasion I don’t earn anything at all. The Iraqi soldier receives a salary of $1,000 monthly. Why not ensure a fixed and stable income for my family?”
Khalil holds a diploma in Islamic studies. He explained that the majority of young farmers in his region have enlisted in the army or police force, while the rest are waiting in line. “The area of plowed lands is dwindling day after day; the workforce is becoming scarce,” he declares.
Khalil must constantly deal with his father’s vehement reluctance. “My father belongs to this land; he urges me to pursue agriculture work. We have been a family of farmers for centuries,” he says.
Despite the government’s support, the number of farmers has fallen.
The figures of the Ministry of Agriculture indicate a significant decrease in the number of farmers and the area of plowed land, a high-ranking official in the ministry confirmed. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he reiterated that “this work is no longer tempting. Farmers enviously watch government employees buying brand-new vehicles and replacing their furniture. They want the same for themselves.”
When asked if the state were capable of restoring the legacy of agriculture through subsidizes, he replied, “If people do not believe it can be restored, the state cannot do anything to change their views.”
The government provides farmers with fertilizer, agricultural equipment, different types of seeds and pesticides at subsidized prices. Additionally, it offers installment plans if farmers wish to buy tractors or other necessary vehicles.
The agricultural slump did not only impact wheat. Post-2003, the repercussions have been felt by other crops such as potatoes and tomatoes. Iraq, once a major exporter, has become dependent on imports all year round.
Crops imported from Iran, Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey are highly competitive in terms of quality and price.
“Jordan uses techniques that Iraq lacks such as drip irrigation and sprinklers while we opt for surface irrigation. Thus, Jordanian farmers need one quarter of the water that we do,” Khalil says.
In 2011, the government tried to limit the import of crops. As a result, prices skyrocketed and what was thought to be a way to boost local agriculture failed miserably.
Omar al-Shaher is a contributor to I’s Iraq Pulse. His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications including France’s LeMonde, the Iraqi Alesbuyia magazine, Egypt’s Al-Ahaly and the Elaph website.


Original Article Here

Fayette County agriculture tied to 1 in 9 jobs, $2.4B in revenue, study finds

By Janet Patton — jpatton1@herald-leader.com

At least one in nine jobs — almost 17,000 — in Fayette County is tied somehow to agriculture, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

The Fayette County agricultural business cluster generates $2.4 billion annually in revenue, and more than $73 million in state and local taxes, UK researchers found. There also are an additional $1.32 billion in other income, profits and dividends associated with the ag cluster.

This economic effect is much broader than previously assumed, in part because the survey looked beyond the farm to businesses that depend on farms, said Scott Smith, UK agriculture dean.

"I think the study is new and important because it defines agriculture in a broader and more meaningful way, not just through on-farm employment or farm-gate receipts," Smith said.

Researchers noted that their estimates are conservative, that there are many more businesses in Fayette County that have a percentage of their income tied to farms, such as accountants who do some farm-related taxes.

"We looked at those businesses that are entirely ag-dependent," Smith said. "Vet clinics are a great example. ... There are 200 of the world's best equine veterinarians here."

The equine sector is a big factor.

At least 15 recreational establishments, $88 million in additional annual payroll in three industries and $74 million in additional recreational sales are attributed to the presence of racetracks in the county.

The new survey numbers do not take into account the full tourism impact of Keeneland and the Kentucky Horse Park.

Agricultural sales in Fayette County are dominated by the horse sales and they impact hospitality, recreation, finance, real estate, professional services and retail trade as well.

A 10 percent increase in horse sales likely would result in 10 additional businesses in those sectors, $6 million in new payroll in professional services and $45 million in new sales in professional services, real estate and retail industries, the study found.

"The analysis quantifies how important Fayette County's distinctive brand is to major components of the local economy," the researchers concluded. "Agriculture imports wealth into Fayette County that is spent locally by industry participants and visitors."

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer hailed the study as more evidence of the economic importance of agriculture to Kentucky.

"Equine is our signature agriculture industry," he said. "The report showed that if we increased sales by 10 percent how much of a ripple effect that would have for Fayette County. I think that could be seen for beef cattle, for corn, for soybeans, for all of agriculture. ... Any time we increase production agriculture, it's going to have major effects on banks, on real estate, on housing and other sectors."

Comer said he hopes that the state General Assembly and Gov. Steve Beshear will see the research as more evidence that the equine industry should receive economic help.

Although other sectors of agriculture have flourished in recent years, Comer said, "equine continues to decline. And we need to work closely with the equine industry to reverse that trend for all breeds."

He said that lifting the sales tax on horse farm purchases and putting expanded gambling on the ballot are two possibilities.

"Our breeders' incentive fund isn't funded at the same levels as other states, and we need to examine what other states are doing and see how we can have more money in our breeders' incentive fund," Comer said. Many states with casinos or slots at tracks use the revenue to boost purses and breeders' funds.

"Let the people of Kentucky read these economic impact reports and let the people decide" on gambling, Comer said.

The study, funded by the Fayette County Kentucky Farm Bureau, particularly noted the potential impact of lost farmland: A decline of 10 percent, or $41 million, in production agriculture likely would result in an additional decrease of $26 million in other output, the study found.

"Fayette County has a diversified economy, and we wanted to get a better understanding of agriculture's role in it," said Todd Clark, past president of Fayette County Farm Bureau. "This project contains some important data that can be used to raise awareness and promote discussion of the agriculture clutter's importance to the county."

According to the study, the analysis was motivated by ongoing policy debates.

"Current policies preserve farmland at public expense, and discourage sprawl by restricting land use," the study noted. "Related debate exists about economic development priorities: Should the county attempt to lure manufacturing firms, or capitalize on its brand as the 'Horse Capital of the World'?"

Based on the analysis, policies designed to promote manufacturing would have fewer benefits in other local industries than agriculture gains would have.

The benefits go beyond the horse farm.

"Fayette County and local businesses have invested in a vibrant, entrepreneurial local food and entertainment industry," researchers found, citing the Lexington Farmers Market, named on of the top large farmers markets in the country by the American Farmland Trust.

"The addition of downtown businesses such as West Sixth Brewing, Shorty's Grocery, FoodChain Urban Farm, Country Boy Brewing, Town Branch Distillery and several new restaurants and bars in the area near Cheapside Park are all linked by a distinctive local character that blurs the lines of the agricultural, hospitality and recreation industries," the study found.

"Agriculture alone does not create Fayette County's unique image; it is the combination of the visual amenities of its farms; the glamour of its equine events, and the deep cultural history evident throughout the area. Bourbon distilling, originally a way to preserve the value of corn in an easily transported form, blends well with Fayette County's agricultural and equine heritage, strengthening the area's appeal to visitors and residents alike."

Leigh Maynard, one of the study's authors, said that their research reveals the true depth of agriculture's influence on Fayette County's urban economy.

"The important role of agriculture needs to be accounted for in policy discussions," Maynard said. "The linkages are so intertwined in Fayette County's diverse economy. ... If you do replace farmland with some other use, that replacement doesn't come cheap. It really is affecting the brand."

Original Article Here

Monday, 28 January 2013

Completing the Census of Agriculture important to your farm

By DALE HILDEBRANT

Farmers have received the 2012 Census of Agriculture which will give each farmer and rancher an opportunity to help shape farm programs, boost rural services and grow their operation's future. The Census, which is conducted every five years by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, provides detailed data covering nearly every facet of the nation's agricultural industry. It looks at land use and ownership, production practices, expenditures and other factors that affect the way farmers do business and succeed in the 21st Century.

"The 2012 Census of Agriculture provides farmers with a powerful voice. The information gathered through the Census influences policy decisions that can have a tremendous impact on farmers and their communities for years to come," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "I strongly encourage all farmers, no matter how large or small their operation, to promptly complete and return their Census, so they can voice to the nation the value and importance of agriculture." All farmers and ranchers should have received a Census form in the mail by early January, according to Patrick Boyle, deputy director of the NASS North Dakota Field Office.

"The Ag Census provides a lot of our benchmark numbers that our other programs revolve around," Boyle said. "We attempt to contact every producer in the state (as well as the nation). None of our other surveys have that broad a scope, so this really serves as the benchmark for our programs internally.

"But more importantly, the information gathered is used by Congress and by policy makers at the federal, state and even local level."

The Census form is 26 pages in length and officials estimate it should take an average of 50 minutes to complete, according to Boyle. Those with smaller operations may find it takes less time to complete, while those with larger, more complex enterprises may take a bit longer. Producers can either fill out the copy they receive in their mail box, or complete the Census form online at a secure website: www.agcensus.usda.gov. Everyone receiving a Census of Agriculture form is required by federal law to complete the form and return it by the established deadline, which is Feb. 4, 2013.

Even though the general population Census is taken every 10 years, the Census of Agriculture is taken every five years because there are so many changes that occur within the agricultural industry, Boyle said. Agricultural information was gathered with the population census until 1840 and was collected every 10 years until 1950, when it was decided to collect ag data every five years. Between 1954 and 1974 the U.S. Census Bureau conducted the Census of Agriculture in years ending in 4 and 9. However, following the Census of Agriculture in 1978, the Census Bureau and USDA decided to conduct ag census in years ending in 2 and 7 in order to align it with the Economic Census and the Census of Governments.

Federal law requires all agricultural producers who had more than $1,000 in product sales in 2012 to participate in the Census. Even though the number of individuals receiving Census of Agriculture forms has remained relatively stable for the past few times, Boyle noted the number of large farmers continues to decline nationwide, which makes it even more important that everyone complete a Census form.

"In a statistical sense, the smaller your sample size the more influential each record can be," Boyle said, referring to the declining number of large farms. "If someone doesn't send their form in we are going to have to make our best estimate on what's going on at their farm. We know the best source of information is from the producers, not what we can interpolate on other records.

"The return that they get for the little time they invest is high. It may not be a direct return, but indirectly, they benefit greatly by taking a few minutes by filling out the form and getting it back to us."

All individual information gathered from the Census is kept confidential, Boyle noted.

With the number of those involved in production agriculture, Vilsack said it is important that rural America tell their story to the rest of the nation, and the Ag Census helps with that challenge.

"Along with their accomplishments as business men and women, farmers know about the challenges they face in their local areas," said Vilsack. "Taking part in the Census is increasingly important to farmers and every community in America because it provides important information and helps tell the true story about the state of agriculture in the United States today."
Original Article Here

Japan signs road and agriculture grant for Tanzania

The governments of Japan and Tanzania signed an Exchange of Notes that will bring in 1.55 billion yen (US$17 million) into the East African country. The grant will be used to fund projects to expand and improve key roads as well as to support food security efforts.

Tanzanian Finance Minister William Mgimwa thanked Japan for having been for decades a steadfast partner in Tanzania’s Social Economic Development. He said that 20 billion Tanzanian shillings (US$12.5 million) will be used for expanding Kiwa Road and Harbour Road intersection while 6.92 billion Tanzanian shillings (US$4.3 million) will be spent on the expansion of the TAZARA intersection road. Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania Masaki Okada said that the grant will improve traveling speeds from 0.7 kph to 40 kph during peak hours when people commute to and from work or school. Okada also said that there will be construction of flyovers and construction roads to cut travel time between Dar es Salaam city and the Julius Nyerere International Airport 11 kilometers away.

Also included in the grant is 6.8 billion Tanzanian shillings (US$4.2 million) for agriculture. Called “2KR”, the food security project to be implemented by Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives will target underprivileged farmers and will attempt to improve the country’s agricultural conditions. Okada said that while Tanzania has been enjoying a relatively high level of food self-sufficiency in recent years, it has not yet fully attained food security due to irregular rainfalls and insufficient transportation infrastructure.

[ via All Africa ]

Op−Ed | Urban agriculture nurtures community action in Philadelphia: Why we should care?

Food system issues have been receiving a growing amount of attention on Tufts’ campus, with a new Food Systems and the Environment track projected to join the revised Environmental Studies program. Student groups such as Food for Thought and Tom Thumb’s Student Garden offer more recent additions to campus organizations.

Beyond the Hill, there was a recent victory in Philadelphia of a garden−and−farm zoning campaign demonstrating the importance of agriculture within cities.

Urban agriculture has been emerging in recent years as an important feature in cities across the United States, and many places have been working to support and legitimize it.

This September, Somerville became the first city in Massachusetts to pass an ordinance on urban agriculture, outlining rules for growing and cultivating vegetables, bees and chickens to help promote best practices (see “Somerville officials approve first urban agriculture ordinance,” Nov. 8).

Philadelphia stands as a national model and leader in urban agriculture, due to the growing number of gardens and farms it supports. It has ample opportunity for this field, with over 42,000 vacant lots standing as a reminder of departed industry and urban decay.

A new zoning code introduced in Philadelphia in August recognized urban agriculture as its own land−use type and, for the first time gave gardens and farms the opportunity to apply for an urban agriculture permit.

Just months after the city’s new zoning code went into practice, city council leader Brian O’Neill introduced a bill adding significant barriers for garden groups, along with restrictions for a number of other land−use types.

O’Neill’s bill would have restricted urban agriculture on commercial mixed−use areas—affecting about 20 percent of gardens in Philadelphia.

The bill was in effect since Dec. 12 by “pending ordinance,” having been passed by the Committee on Rules. It was scheduled for a full vote in city council this Thursday, Jan. 24.

Since the bill was first introduced, gardens and interested groups in Philadelphia organized under the “Campaign for Healthier Food and Greener Spaces: Make Your Voice Heard Against Bill 120917,” lead by Amy Laura Cahn at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. A total of 29 organizations joined this campaign, as well as countless individuals who called council members and planned to turn up to the vote on Thursday.

Due to their efforts, O’Neill released a statement on Wednesday saying he would amend his bill to remove the restrictions on gardens and market farms. He postponed the vote on the remainder of the bill for at least another week.

O’Neill’s decision pays tribute to the many voices that spoke up in support of gardens and farms in the city, and I commend him for listening. Farms foster communal action by necessity, requiring a considerable amount of labor. In cities, they nurture civic action and democratic participation.

Gardens and farms matter to communities because, along with increasing access to healthy food and the environmental benefits, they build ties between people, and help make neighborhoods vital, productive and safe.

My own bias and experiences come from working at a nonprofit in West Philadelphia, Urban Tree Connection, that helps maintain a series of gardens and farms, as well as a sliding−scale Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in a low−income neighborhood.

Nine of these gardens exist on formerly vacant land, and each represents a story. Several are on the sites of former crack houses, or chop shops, and were created upon neighbors’ requests. A large children’s garden and orchard stands next to a housing project, and a 3/4 acre farm occupies the inside of one city block on a formerly abandoned construction company site. The CSA produces over 8,000 pounds of food a year, and a Saturday market stand is overseen by a founders group of five neighbors.

This past summer, I coordinated a program for 25 Philadelphia high school teens to work at the gardens, markets and farm. On the final Saturday, the students worked with neighbors to throw a summer festival for community members and family. The party took place in the larger Memorial Garden—a garden created eleven years ago by the neighbors’ request, after seven children lost their lives to gun violence nearby during the previous year.

On this Saturday, people of all ages came out to celebrate the summer. Neighbors barbequed, the teens hosted a talent show and open−mic session, and a neighbor from across the street performed with his reggae band for the first time late into the night. Gardens create a powerful space.

Most of Urban Tree Connection’s gardens are on vacant lots they do not own, which is common of many gardens and farms in Philadelphia. I admire the attitude behind guerilla gardening, but the lack of land ownership can be seriously limiting. Even after decade−long use, many community gardens face the threat of a developer returning and kicking a group out, or building on the land.

The new zoning code in effect since August is not perfect—but it is a vast improvement over the convoluted and bulky one in use for the past 50 years. It is a step in the right direction for legitimizing and supporting urban agriculture in Philadelphia, setting a precedent for the rest of America. It represents four years of democratic deliberation, reflecting the voices of many community members and council members.
Original Article Here

Maine agriculture in good growth position

By SUSAN MCMILLAN Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA - Maine's abundant land, growing conditions and location in the Northeast make the state well-positioned for growth in agriculture, said John Piotti, executive director of Maine Farmland Trust.

But there are also challenges involving land prices, the work force and infrastructure to support farms, Piotti and two local farmers said Sunday at a Forum on the Future event at the University of Maine at Augusta.

About 40 people attended the event, many of them as part of UMA's Senior College, and Piotti said that was a good start, considering the importance of educating people about the current state of agriculture and its importance to local communities.

In the past 15 years, Piotti said, Maine has gained about 1,200 farms, and the acreage in production has increased 4 percent.

Most of the growth has been among small farms that sell to a few restaurants or stores or directly to consumers at farmers markets. But Piotti said the big commodity farms, which sell products such as potatoes and blueberries to wholesalers, still make up most of the industry, and different types of farms interact and support each other.

Maine Farmland Trust seeks to keep farmland affordable through agricultural easements and programs such as Buy/Protect/Sell, through which the trust buys farmland at development value and sells it to a farmer at its lower production value.
Original Article Here

Save Agriculture, Heal The Nation

THE HEALING of the nation's economy is in the ground. (Revelation 22; Ezekiel 42) Farming is the lifeblood of a nation. Much of man's sustenance comes from the ground. Oxygen, food, fruit water, oil, natural gas, wood, dye, paper, coal - are some of the things generated by or from the earth. Everything needed to sustain man can be found in the ground.

In Genesis 26, when the nation was experiencing ongoing famine and economic problems, God instructed Isaac not to go the path of the Philistines but, instead, till the land and sow, as an alternative. The Philistines today would be represented by the international lenders.

Many times, farming has been treated as the least within the society. It is a ministry that is put to the back. There needs to be a shake-up right now before it is too late. Farming is the first, foremost and most important profession in the Bible. With the crisis now facing the nation, agriculture should be getting a great deal more funding than it currently is. There needs to be visionaries in that ministry in order to bring changes. It would be interesting to see Phillip Paulwell move to that ministry.

There needs to be better relationships between the Government and the nation's farmers and farming community. There also needs to be basic and advanced courses in agriculture in the secondary-level schools. There should be special classes for farmers (open also to the regular members of the community) in each parish updating on the various kinds of insecticides, and particularly for new farmers, courses on the role of a farmer and the times and seasons to plant certain crops, the effects of current environmental issues on agriculture.

They should also learn the Biblical principles in farming. The Three Feasts must be observed, as well as the law of gleaning and how to prevent praedial larceny through giving.

get serious about farming

If the nation is serious about farming, then the time has come for them to have a farming network, to promote local farming. There should also be more competitions among schools and communities, as well as a farmers' hotline that not only answers pertinent questions, but will also educate them on Jamaica's agricultural history.

The nation needs to provide valid contacts that will foster business relationships - long and short term - with banks, schools, universities and colleges - locally and internationally.

If we really respect the agricultural community and, in particular, our farmers, how many of our nation's farmers have received national honours or awards?

In order to get the youth involved in farming and save the nation, we need to get the local communications groups to get on board with the technology. We also need to incorporate our local athletes and encourage them to promote the noble institution of farming, especially those athletes who are internationally successful.

There are so many opportunities concerning farming, this is the time to put agriculture to the forefront, especially as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund.

If the country is serious about tourism, then the time has come for us to get young, talented people with the 'Artisan Anointing' (Exodus 35), to beautify the nation once again. Places such as Port Royal, Harbour View, New Kingston, Barbican, Westmoreland, Spanish Town, Old Harbour and May Pen all need to have major facelifts.

There needs to be a meeting with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and civil society. We need to have a competition and get the communities involved - get them to come up with new landscaping designs and ideas and even breeds of plants and flowers. So when the tourists come to our island, they will see its beauty, not only in the landscaping, but also in the gifts and talents of the people that live here.

Finally, as we seek to build and rebuild this nation, we must recognise that before the building, there has to be clearing and ploughing of the land. After that, we will see the real builders - those who are not political - who have the nation at heart.

Steve Lyston is a biblical economics consultant and author of several books, including 'End Time Finance' and 'The New Millionaire'.
Original Article Here

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 28 January 2013

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of January 2013 will take place in Brussels on 28 January 2013, under the presidency of Mr Simon Coveney, Irish Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The Commission will be represented by Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Dacian Cioloş, Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development and Tonio Borg, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. Fisheries points will be dealt with on Monday morning, while the afternoon will be dedicated to Agriculture and Health issues. A press conference will be held for each session at the end of the discussions. The public debates and the press conferences can be followed by video streaming: http://video.consilium.europa.eu/ .

Fisheries

Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy

This first Council under Irish Presidency will discuss the Common Fisheries Policy Reform Package, presented by the Commission in July 2011. In particular, the discussions will focus on setting a calendar for the next steps. More specifically, the Council will discuss the Proposals for:


a) the main Regulation for the Reform,


b) the Regulation on the Common Organisation of the Markets in Fishery and Aquaculture Products


c) the Regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

The objective of the reformed fisheries policy is to end overfishing and make fishing sustainable - environmentally, economically and socially. The new policy aims to:


bring fish stocks back to sustainable levels by setting fishing opportunities based on scientific advice,


provide EU citizens with a stable, secure and healthy food supply for the long term,


bring new prosperity to the fishing sector, end dependence on subsidies and create new opportunities for jobs and growth in coastal areas. (IP/11/873).

The new fund, EMFF, will help deliver the ambitious objectives of the reform and will help fishermen in the transition towards sustainable fishing, as well as coastal communities in the diversification of their economies. The fund will finance projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts. It will replace the existing European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and a number of other instruments. The proposed envelope amounts to € 6.5 billion for the period 2014 to 2020 (IP/11/1495).

EU-Norway

The Commission will inform the Council on the fisheries negotiations between EU and Norway and the Council will exchange views on the Proposal for a Regulation on certain technical and control measures in the Skagerrak, proposed by the Commission in August 2012 (seehttp://europa.eu/rapid/midday-express-29-08-2012.htm )

Under the proposal, the EU and Norway are to harmonize technical and control measures for fisheries in the Skagerrak to ensure long-term sustainability of fish stocks. It notably features an obligation to land all catches of certain fish species – to stop the practice of discarding.

Multi-annual management plans

During lunch, there will be a ministerial debate on the Multi-Annual Management Plans. The Commission’s proposals on the Reform of the CFP gave Multi-Annual Plans a central role in the new CFP; however, the adoption of new plans has been blocked for three years over a disagreement between the institutions on the powers to adopt legal acts under Article 43 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Agriculture

The new Irish Presidency will present its Presidency work programme including its roadmap for reaching a political agreement on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. This will be followed by an exchange of views. In October 2011 the Commission presented its proposals for reforming the Common Agriculture Policy after 2013 (See IP/11/1181 and MEMO/11/685). The reform aims to make the CAP greener, fairer and more sustainable so as to guarantee European citizens healthy and quality food production, to preserve the environment and to help develop rural areas. Among the key axes proposed are for example a better targeted income support, the conditioning of 30% of direct payments to an improved use of natural resources, a more competitive and balanced food chain, agri-environmental initiatives and support measures specifically targeted at young farmers. The Council takes place in the wake of the European Parliament Agriculture Committee vote on the reform proposals on January 19 & 20.

Any other business


the Commission will present its Report on the implementation of the European School Fruit Scheme


the Commission will inform Member States on the draft Free Trade Agreement negotiated with Singapore


the Commission will inform Member states on the status of free trade agreement negotiations with Canada and the status of World Trade Organization negotiations

Health and Consumer Policy

Items for discussion –Any other business


Compliance with the Welfare Pig Directive in the Member States: Implementation of Group housing of sows

Commissioner Tonio Borg, will brief participants on compliance with the Directive on the welfare of pigs in Member States (implementation of group housing of sows) and inform the Council about the updates on the compliance. The intention is to remind Member States to take their responsibilities to ensure full compliance with the Directive on the protection of pigs in view of the implementation of group housing of sows.


the Dutch delegation will present an information note on the European Food Safety Agency 's conclusions on the risk assessment for bees for three neonicotinoids
Original Article Here

Monopoly on meat may end

By Ahmed Al Omari

BAHRAIN is studying plans to open up its meat market in an attempt to prevent shortages of supply.

The Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry has been ordered to prepare a report on the practicalities of introducing new importers.

"We are currently looking at the meat issue locally," confirmed the ministry's agriculture, livestock and fisheries under-secretary Shaikh Khalifa bin Isa Al Khalifa.

"As of now the main importer for red meat is Bahrain Livestock Company (BLC).

"Currently we are trying to bring in another company to introduce their products in Bahrain."

Shaikh Khalifa said increased competition would help improve the quality of products supplied by the BLC.

"We want to create competition in the market place and in the future we are trying to open up the market completely," he said.

"With an open market everyone can supply meat instead of just giving the job to the Bahrain Livestock Company.

"We will open up the market and the people can decide which kind of meat they want to eat."

Shaikh Khalifa also revealed plans to set up another chicken factory and said the project would be put out to tender shortly.

Bahrain has been hit by a series of meat shortages since last August when it turned away a shipment of 21,000 live sheep that led to imports from Australia being halted.

The country, which consumes around 5,800 tonnes of red meat a year, has turned increasingly to Somali meat in a bid to boost supplies, but changing suppliers has reportedly cost the government an extra BD1 million a month.

It has already assigned BD67m for government subsidies on meat, poultry and flour this year, up from BD56m in 2011.

Another BD67m has also been earmarked to continue the subsidies next year.

BLC chairman Ibrahim Zainal was unaware of plans for a new company to enter the market and said it was too early to comment on the effect it would have on the company. ahmed@gdn.com.bh
Original Article Here

Abbott rallies the Liberal troops

TONY Abbott may be aiming to be Australia's next prime minister before the end of the year, but at a campaign rally on Sunday it looked like the poll was this week.

The coalition launched its mini-election campaign on Sunday in Sydney's west with a speech from Mr Abbott and a series of television advertisements.

The unlikely location of the Auburn basketball centre was transformed for Mr Abbott's speech into a US-rally style convention centre complete with stage, a giant Australian flag and hundreds of supporters waving placards with the coalition's slogan Hope. Reward. Opportunity.

After striding to the stage to rapturous applause, Mr Abbott spoke from in front of a bank of tiered seating filled with Liberal party faithful, including his wife Margie.

In the speech, the federal member for Warringah pledged to scrap the carbon and mining taxes, cut red tape and secure the nation's borders, calling the upcoming federal election the most important in a generation.

Despite the event's US-style set-up, Mr Abbott embraced local vernacular in the speech.

"When I say we will deliver competent fair dinkum government you know we will because we did," he told the crowd of around 300 people.

He also stressed his family's place in Australia's "social fabric".

"We're a pretty normal family with a mortgage with bills we've struggled with the school fees we've struggled with the hospital bills," he said.

"We know what it's like to struggle."

Mr Abbott also thanked his wife for her support, and her contribution to coalition policy on child care.

"Don't I know something about child care because every other day Margie's chewing my ear about just what we need to improve the child care system," he said to laughter from the crowd.

The coalition's campaign blueprint - Our Plan: Real Solutions for all Australians - pledges cuts to the public service, and to build a "five pillar economy" by boosting manufacturing, agriculture exports, advanced services, education and mining.
Original Article Here

China's rice imports won't endanger world food security: ministry

China's rising rice imports last year will not alter the supply-and-demand balance in the domestic rice market or threaten global food security, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Friday.

China's rice imports more than quadrupled from the previous year to reach 2.32 million tonnes in 2012, marking the largest amount of such imports since 2000, the latest customs data showed.

Because the imports only accounted for a small share of international rice trade, as well as domestic production and consumption, they will not have an obvious impact on the global grain market or affect the domestic rice market, said a statement issued by the ministry.

China's rice imports accounted for 6.2 percent of global rice trade and 1.6 percent of domestic rice output last year, the ministry's figures showed.

Just 7.7 percent of global rice output was traded last year, according to data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Meanwhile, China's grain output rose for the ninth consecutive year last year, with rice output up 1.6 percent year on year, which has contributed toward making rice supplies generally sufficient, according to the statement.

The ministry said China's rice imports, which used to be dominated by Thai rice favored by high-end consumers, increased last year, as domestic flour and wine makers have turned to overseas markets for cheaper rice.

Rice prices in China started to outpace those in Vietnam and Pakistan last year due to a stronger yuan and steady price hikes in the domestic market, it said.

Customs data showed that 66.7 percent of China's rice imports were from Vietnam, 25 percent from Pakistan and 7.6 percent from Thailand last year, respectively.
Original Article Here

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