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Weekly News Update for July 17, 2015

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

By Sarah Everhart

Wheat field in front of a farm (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

Students Change The Face of Farming-University of Maryland Eastern Shore are taking drones to the next level. The drones fly over the crops and take high-tech images of the plants. The students and faculty can review these images and view the condition of the plant. Chris Hartman is a lecturer and coordinator in the aviation science program. He said students from science and engineering backgrounds to agriculture backgrounds can come together and work on this project. “Agriculture is important in our area,” Hartman said. “It’s also important all over the world. Everyone has to eat.” To read the full story visit

Dairy MOOseum Honors Maryland Family Farm– With just six family dairy farms left in fast-developing Montgomery County, Md., the Weitzer family decided to share their story of success a earlier this month at the MOOseum. The King Barn Dairy MOOseum is a dairy heritage museum in Boyds, about 20 miles north of Washington. “The farm was started by my parents, who bought it in 1946,” David Weitzer said. “It will soon be in the family 70 years. We’re not a particularly large dairy as we have about 75 milking cows and 75 head of young stock. We also farm corn, soybeans and wheat silage for the milking herd.” To read the full story visit

EPA is Accepting Comments on Greenhouse Emissions Analysis– The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting comment on its analysis of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributable to the production and transport of Gossypium spp. seed oil (“cottonseed oil”) feedstock for use in making biofuels such as biodiesel, renewable diesel, and jet fuel. The document explains their analysis of the feedstock production and transport-related components of the lifecycle GHG emissions of biofuel made from cottonseed oil, including both direct and indirect agricultural and forestry sector emissions. To read more details and for further directions visit

How President Obama and Congress Ignored Food Safety. On paper, the law that Congress passed in late 2010 — known as the Food Safety Modernization Act — was bigger than anything since Teddy Roosevelt cleaned up the meatpacking industry. The law mandated more inspections and much tougher anti-contamination standards for everything from peaches to imported pesto sauce, and it placed more emphasis on preventing outbreaks than on chasing them down after people become sick. But almost five years later, not one of the sweeping new rules has been implemented and funding is more than $276 million behind where it needs to be. A law that could have been legacy-defining for President Barack Obama instead represents a startling example of a broad and bipartisan policy initiative stymied by politics and the neglect of some of its strongest proponents. To read the full story click here:

Soybeans Set Acreage Records. Soybeans are growing in record numbers in Pennsylvania and the United States this year, according to USDA’s June 30 planted acreage report. Soybean prices have fallen from the gaudy $15 a bushel seen in 2012, but “we’re still carrying some of that momentum forward,” said John Berry, a Penn State Extension marketing educator. Some people have been saying that soybeans should be a bit more profitable than corn this year, which may have prompted some U.S. farmers to change some acreage to soybeans, Berry said. To read the entire story go here:

Broccoli stem (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

Organic Farmers and Whole Foods Reach Ceasefire Over ‘Responsibly Grown’ Ratings. It is no stretch to say that Whole Foods Markets has been essential to the viability of thousands of organic farms. With over 400 locations around the U.S., no other national chain buys produce directly from more organic farmers, many of whom have been working with the company since its early days. That’s why many farmers were surprised, last year, when Whole Foods launched its own produce rating program, Responsibly Grown, and began rating conventionally grown produce over organic. Whole Foods’ rating program, which costs farmers between $100-5,000 a year to join, and aims to take a range of factors into account, but does not provide third-party verification like organic does, seemed to forsake the company’s historic devotion to its organic suppliers. See more at:

Record Number File for Conservation Compliance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that over 98.2 percent of producers have met the 2014 Farm Bill requirement to certify conservation compliance to qualify for crop insurance premium support payments. FSA is currently reaching out to those who have not filed the proper paperwork. For the full story click here:

28 States File Suit Against EPA. Currently 28 states plus American Farm Bureau, and other groups have filed suit against EPA for the new “Waters of the US” rule. The states argue that EPA has over stepped its authority in the Clean Water Act. Read more here:

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Law for GMOs Moves to House Floor. The bill, H.R. 1599, or the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, would require a national standard for labeling laws related to GMOs — one that did not require food companies to disclose their use of genetically modified ingredients. “Consumers increasingly want to know more about where their food comes from and how it is produced,” said Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. “I think H.R. 1599 satisfies that demand while also recognizing what we know about the safety of the foods that our farmers produce. The bill is a workable solution that will alleviate the potential mess of 50 states with 50 different labeling schemes,” he said. The bill will be votes on later this month. To read the full story visit

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)-Produce & Preventive Rule Webinar- 7/23- Click here to sign up for the ALEI webinar on July 23rd at noon on the Produce & Preventive Rule of FSMA-

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