What You Need to Know About Drone Safety

What You Need to Know About Drone Safety

The FAA must provide safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into national airspace no later than September 2015. Until that time, it is difficult to advise on best practices that are technically illegal when used by business including farming operations (…)”

USDA Announces $19 Million in Grants to New Farmers

USDA Announces $19 Million in Grants to New Farmers

Earlier this month, the USDA announced $19 million in grants for young farmers. The grants, managed by the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture, are aimed at those trying to break into farming and those who have been at it for fewer than 10 years.

The grants will help train producers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), the USDA said in a statement in mid-April. Those competitive grants help beginning ranchers, farmers and foresters through the extension of training and technical assistance.

Legislation Roundup – Alaska

What sort of agricultural laws is your state considering to pass?  Legislation Roundup highlights the laws that each state’s legislative branch is considering in session.  Never forget the importance of public political participation.  If you live in any of these states and support or oppose any state legislation, never hesitate to contact your assembly(wo)man/representative/senator and voice your opinion!  We pay their salaries in taxes.

  • HB215 – Would require all genetically engineered food products to have a label indicating it was “produced with genetic engineering” or “partially produced with genetic engineering.” Unpackaged food, such as produce, would have to have a label visible on the shelf or bin they are being sold in. This bill would bar any product from being labelled as “natural,” “naturally grown,” or “all natural” if it contains or was processed with genetically engineered food products.
  • HB224 – Prohibits the application of any neonicotinoid pesticide to any seed, foliage, or granular form to soil unless it is applied entirely within a greenhouse.
  • HB249 – Would prohibit the use of genetically engineered seeds and plants for agricultural product production.
  • HB248 – Establishes May 15 as ‘Think Local Day’ to raise awareness of use of local businesses, food, and products.

Legislation Roundup – Alabama

What sort of agricultural laws is your state considering to pass?  Legislation Roundup highlights the laws that each state’s legislative branch is considering in session.  Never forget the importance of public political participation.  If you live in any of these states and support or oppose any state legislation, never hesitate to contact your assembly(wo)man/representative/senator and voice your opinion!  We pay their salaries in taxes.

Alabama

  • HB98 – Would change the state insect to queen honey bee.
  • SB362 – Creates the Alabama Poultry Revolving Loan Fund; would allocate state bonds to finance farms that want to transition from using propane-fueled heating sources to using wood-fueled heating sources.
  • SB335 – Will require that all catfish and catfish products be labeled if they were imported from any country other than the US.  The labels must clearly indicate country of origin.  Restaurants will also have to list country of origin for imported catfish on their menus.
  • SB69 – Exempts retail sales of agriculture machinery from state taxes but not local sales tax.
  • HB5 – Repeals Section 3-1-20 of Alabama’s criminal code.  Currently, it is illegal to sell or buy domestic animals/fowl [livestock] between sunset and sunrise.  HB5 would repeal that law and make it legal.

FDA’s Voluntary Program to Address Antibiotic Overuse in Animal Byproduct Industries

Modern methods of livestock care focus on the use of antibiotics – it fattens livestock up fast and, when used as non-therapeutic supplement, it prevents the spread of infectious viruses among cattle.  Overcrowding of livestock in factory farm settings creates a huge risk of viruses, infections, and diseases among the animals that can spread fast.  Antibiotics, when used supplementary in animal feed, prevent this and allow for more crowded quarters and ultimately a higher yield in animal byproducts.

This use of antibiotics in this manner is detrimental to human health and medical science.  When overexposed to antibiotics through ingestion of animal byproducts, people develop a resistance to antibiotics, rendering them ineffective to treat common ailments – the flu, injury infections,etc.  The CDC issued a threat report at the end of 2013 that found that 23,000 people in the United States die annually from antibiotic resistance – deaths that should have been avoided with effective antibiotic treatment.  The CDC warns that the continued use of antibiotics in animal feed creates a risk of death for simple infections such as strep throat.

Now, for the first time in over 35 years, the FDA is seeing some control over the practice of feeding antibiotics to livestock through a new voluntary program.  While the FDA is not directly regulating the practice, they have issued guidance documents and recommendations (see #209, #213). THe FDA asks veterinary antibiotic manufacturers to alter the drug labels to no longer provide antibiotics over-the-counter, thus rendering the drugs unavailable for use in animal feed.

On March 26, 2014 the FDA published a list of 25 companies that agreed in writing to no voluntarily comply and no longer allow their antibiotics to be sold over-the-counter.

For more information, see this article.

Drones and Agriculture

Drones and Agriculture

Will commercial agriculture be the largest beneficiary of unmanned aircraft? 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are controlled by GPS and have a variety of uses when it comes to agriculture.  For example, UAVs can aid in scouting pests, collecting information on plants with high growth, locating livestock, and tracking precipitation damages.

From a regulatory standpoint, UAVs are not allowed commercially by the FAA.  Farmers must therefore follow guidelines applicable to hobbyist UAV use.

An interesting extension of this is the argument that agriculture is growing too industrial, too focused on growth yield, and too far from sustainability.  Conversely, drones are battery operated and can eliminate emissions from other aircraft and motor vehicles.