Farmers, retailers, manufacturers join forces: Trade associations representing farmers, retailers and manufacturers and other industries are joining forces in a new multimillion-dollar campaign to oppose President Donald Trump’s tariffs, in the latest attempt by U.S. business to stop an escalating trade war. The new coalition, called Americans for Free Trade, is joining Farmers for Free Trade in seeking to change the direction in Washington by highlighting stories of businesses, consumers and farmers in the heartland negatively affected by the duties.
Sales of meat, milk substitutes soar: Sales of substitutes to replace all types of animal products are up, and now comprise a $3.7 billion dollar market, according to data from Nielsen. “Meat” made from plants increased 23 percent in the year through Aug. 11 to $684 million, with Silicon Valley’s Beyond Meat leading the pack with sales up 70 percent. Sales of non-dairy yogurts, cheeses and ice cream also are soaring, increasing 40 percent and more. By comparison, retail food sales generally are growing at 2 percent. READ MORE
Grape thieves take vineyard’s whole crop: A nighttime harvest this week stripped Virginia’s Firefly Hill Vineyards of almost its entire crop of grapes, says co-owner Allison Dunkenberger. The grapes are not visible from the road, she noted. Someone — or rather, a knowledgeable team of someones — entered Firefly Hill’s vineyard on Monday night and removed 2 to 2½ tons of grapes from 2,500 vines growing on 3½ acres. The thieves cut them carefully and quickly. READ MORE
Oklahoma governor, Cherokee chief team up over poultry growth: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker on Wednesday announced that the state and tribe are forming a council to evaluate the expansion of poultry growth and its impact on rural communities in northeast Oklahoma. In the last year, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry has issued 41 permits to expand or build new poultry houses, with more than half listed in northeastern counties. Most were issued to growers contracted with Simmons Foods, which is building a 400,000-square foot chicken plant over the border in Gentry, Ark. READ MORE
State ag departments support USDA jurisdiction over cell-cultured “meat”: Members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) voted this week to support USDA jurisdiction over cell-cultured and tissue culture products derived from livestock and poultry. USDA and the FDA in October will hold a joint public meeting to discuss the use of cell culture technology to develop products derived from livestock and poultry. The two agencies are perceived to be in a battle over which will have regulatory authority over the rapidly advancing technology. READ MORE
African swine fever confirmed in Belgium: African swine fever (ASF) has been confirmed in two wild boars in Belgium, according to the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) at the University of Minnesota. The disease appears to have jumped a considerable distance from the Czech Republic (about 300 miles away), Hungary (500 miles) and Romania (750 miles), which have been previously affected. Belgian authorities are working to prevent the possible spread of the disease, which is not a threat to humans but can wipe out large populations of swine, among wild boar and onto pig farms. READ MORE
ANIMAL FEED SAFETY
Crops harvested from flooded fields may be contaminated: The FDA reminds animal food producers affected by Hurricane Florence that crops harvested from flooded fields are often unacceptable because of contamination. Flood waters, which are different from pooled rain water, may contain sewage, pathogenic organisms, pesticides, chemical wastes, or other toxic substances. Mold growth is another serious concern for flood impacted crops intended for use in animal food. Some molds produce mycotoxins, which are toxic to certain animals and people. READ MORE
Mobile digital transactions at risk: Fifty-eight percent of digital transactions now originate from mobile devices, and one-third of attacks are via mobile. Cyber-security experts warn that mobile is quickly becoming the predominant way people access online goods and services, and as a result organizations need to anticipate that the barrage of mobile attacks will only increase. READ MORE
Civil rights and environmental justice: When she was a teenager in 1967, Katherine Egland was one of a dozen students to integrate the Hattiesburg, Miss., public school system. As a member of the NAACP youth program, she spent her childhood afternoons with civil rights titans Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers. She’s now a chairperson of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice program and says she is fighting another kind of backyard terror, what she calls “the biggest civil rights crisis” in the South: Climate change. READ MORE
Environmental groups sue TVA over new rate structure: Five Alabama environmental groups filed a suit against Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on Thursday over the utility’s new rate structure. The groups allege the charges discourage renewable energy adoption and energy efficiency measures. Read more HERE and HERE.
Kentucky coal town goes solar: Black rock buried deep under the Cumberland Mountains might have put Benham, Ky., on the energy map, but sunlight might keep the former coal camp from fading away. The city of barely 500 residents in the heart of Appalachia is in the midst of switching to solar energy to save on electric bills and — ironically — to keep its prized Kentucky Coal Mining Museum afloat. READ MORE
And a meat packer focuses on bison: USA Beef Packing LLC, the only beef slaughter and meat processing plant in southeast New Mexico, will now handle bison as well. The company has signed 2019 contracts with a family ranching operation near Amarillo, Texas, that will supply the animals, said president Jose Madrid. Madrid said the company is seeking to differentiate itself from the large meat processors that dominate the industry. READ MORE
About that gas explosion: Investigators have yet to determine what caused the gas explosions that burned at least 39 homes in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. But the gas utility that serves the area has more miles of old, cast-iron gas mains than all but 15 utilities in the nation, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal safety data. READ MORE
Cargill agrees to pay fine on discrimination claims: Cargill Meat Solutions has agreed to pay $1.5 million to resolve charges of discrimination investigated by the EEOC, which said it found reasonable cause to believe Somali, African and Muslim employees were harassed, denied their requests for prayer breaks and fired from their jobs at Cargill’s Fort Morgan, Colo., beef processing plant. Cargill does not accept the EEOC’s findings but decided to settle out of court to avoid a lengthy legal battle. READ MORE