The iron ox robotic farming operation.

Robots could conserve water, cut labor costs: Brandon Alexander would like to introduce you to Angus, the farmer of the future. He’s heavyset, weighing in at nearly 1,000 pounds, not to mention a bit slow. But he’s strong enough to hoist 800-pound pallets of maturing vegetables and can move them from place to place on his own. To Alexander, Angus and other robots are key to a new wave of local agriculture that aims to raise lettuce, basil and other produce in metropolitan areas while conserving water and sidestepping the high costs of human labor. READ MORE

THE FUTURE

The problem with eating insects: Eating insects, instead of meat, could have significant environmental and health benefits. However, many people are disgusted by the idea of insects as food, so researchers are working to increase their appeal. A recent study finds that promoting insect-based food as pleasurable, luxurious and exotic—rather than healthy or environmentally friendly—could be an effective marketing strategy. READ MORE

Sales of milk products looking up in Southeast Asia: Until very recently, Southeast Asia was a dairy wasteland. Supermarkets would all stock milk, cheese and yogurts, but in a fraction of the quantities one might expect to see in organized retail in other parts of the world, while food processors would look to other segments for their ingredients. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

The connection between food insecurity, political insecurity: In this podcast, former University of Texas chancellor and former commander of Special Operations Command retired Adm. William McRaven and Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, talk about the connection between food insecurity, political insecurity, poverty and terrorism. READ MORE

America isn’t ready for lanternfly invasion: The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is native to Southeast Asia and was discovered in Berks County, Penn., in 2014. Already it’s threatening to harm more plants and crops than even the brown marmorated stink bug, discovered in Pennsylvania around the turn of the century and now wreaking havoc in 43 states. This July, the lantern fly—which is decimating Pennsylvania’s grape crops—was confirmed in New Jersey this summer and in New York this September. READ MORE

Don’t toss that food! Starting last Monday, Austin restaurants and food businesses have to come up with alternatives to tossing extra food in the trash. The city hopes businesses donate the extra food to those in need, but they could also give it to local farms or compost it. It’s part of the Universal Recycling Ordinance, which the city hopes will help reach its Zero Waste by 2040 goal. READ MORE

Food defense—regulation vs. reality: Sessions on food security and food safety will underscore the theme of the 112th Ozark Food Processors Association annual convention and exposition on Oct. 8 at the Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences in Fayetteville, Ark. Rod Wheeler, CEO of the Global Food Defense Institute, will present the keynote address on Thursday, Oct. 18. He’ll speak on Regulation vs. Reality: Merging Food Safety Modernization Act Food Defense Regulations with Reality. READ MORE

Dairy program expires: As of Oct. 1, Congress had failed to pass the 2018 farm bill or legislation to extend the Dairy Forward Pricing Program, which provided that proprietary plants offering forward pricing were not required to pay minimum Federal Order prices. Because the program expired without any authorizing extension, proprietary handlers establishing new forward contracts on or after Oct. 1 will not be exempt from paying minimum Federal order prices, said Vic Halverson, administrator for the Upper Midwest Federal Milk Marketing Order. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Lessons can be learned from food-allergy death: The inquest into the death of a girl who suffered a fatal reaction to sesame in a baguette sandwich prepared by the UK sandwich chain Pret a Manger has shone a light on food allergen labeling. As the hearing concludes, British experts say lessons need to be learned from the teenager’s death. Read more HERE and HERE

Federal officials say check your eggs: During the past three weeks public health officers confirmed another two dozen people with Salmonella Enteritidis infections in an outbreak traced to cage-free eggs from Cullman, Ala.-based Gravel Ridge Farms. Federal and state officials continue to express concern that consumers might have unused Gravel Ridge Farms eggs that have been recalled, especially because some are marked with an Oct. 3 best-by date. READ MORE

RESTAURANT SECURITY

Pizza delivery man saves hostage: A 55-year-old Wisconsin man is facing several counts of domestic abuse after allegedly entering his ex-girlfriend’s house uninvited, where he’s alleged to have beaten and tied her up. A pizza delivery man alerted police when the woman mouthed the words “help me” to him. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Ricin packages traced to former Navy sailor: Packages with suspicious substances—at least two of which tested positive for ricin—sent to the Pentagon, White House and Sen. Ted Cruz’s office in Texas this week were part of a coordinated effort by a former Navy sailor, officials told Fox News. READ MORE

WEATHER EMERGENCIES

How you can help North Carolina farmers: North Carolina bore the worst of Hurricane Florence’s fury, which left behind a trail of terror that will cost the state’s agricultural producers $1.1 billion. Even though the storm is long gone, waters—and damages—continued to rise for at least another 10 days and officials are only now beginning to sort out the impact. Here’s how to help. READ MORE