Wisconsin loses half its dairy herds: The news out of Wisconsin is discouraging for small to medium-scale dairy farmers and veterinary practices. Increased efficiency (more milk with significantly fewer cows) hasn’t necessarily improved the bottom line for dairy farmers in the “dairy state.” Since December 2003—just 16 years ago—Wisconsin has lost 49.8 percent of its dairy herds. That’s 7,785 dairy farms that are no longer in business. Farm bankruptcy and farmer suicide rates should be a matter of national concern, and should raise questions about the structure and priorities of U.S. agricultural policies and subsidies. Some 70 percent of the 2018 Farm Bill agricultural subsidy payments are scheduled to go to support large-scale row-crop farming and corporate agriculture rather than livestock agriculture and family farms, which reflects a serious disconnect between the kind of farm operations the American public indicates—at the check-out counter—that they want and support. Bravo to Canada for valuing its dairy farmers and holding firm in restricting access to their market….. “walking the walk, not just talking the talk.” Read more HERE and HERE. (Stephanie Ostrowski)


Hog farm lawsuits update: A federal judge last week brought the fourth North Carolina hog farm nuisance trial to an abrupt halt by ruling plaintiffs presented insufficient evidence to impose punitive damages. Jurors on Wednesday returned verdicts in favor of eight plaintiff who live near a Sampson County hog farm and imposed compensatory damages of a little more than $100,000. A jury in a previous lawsuit imposed punitive damages of $473.5 million, but a state cap on punitive damages lowered that to $94 million. Five hundred hog-farm neighbors have filed 26 lawsuits in all.  READ MORE

The power of pig poop: The power of pig poop is being discovered in North Carolina. Duke Energy is participating in an innovative effort with OptimaBio to produce pipeline-quality biogas from hog farms as a renewable energy. OptimaBio, headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is a swine waste-to-energy project developer and the leader in RNG development for North Carolina. READ MORE

Organic has bigger impact on climate, study says: Organically farmed food has a bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed food, due to the greater areas of land required. This is the finding of a new international study involving Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, published in the journal Nature. READ MORE


Fishy business: Another investigation has detailed the common practice of fish fraud in the U.S. This time it’s NY State Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood’s office who’s out with a report titled ““Fishy Business: Seafood Fraud and Mislabeling in New York State Supermarkets.” READ MORE


Pork producers call for end to trade dispute: The National Pork Producers Council has called for an end to a trade dispute that has cost U.S. pork producers an estimated $1.5 billion this year, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes. A new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada preserves zero-tariff pork trade in North America for the long term, but U.S. tariffs on Mexican metal imports have resulted in retaliatory tariffs of 20 percent against U.S. pork . READ MORE


Uh oh: Institutions across the U.S. may have fallen victim to a tiny fraction of foreign researchers who worked to feed American intellectual property to their home countries, an NIH advisory committee says.  The committee’s report zeroed in on China’s “Talents Recruitment Program,” which the Pentagon has previously identified as an effort “to facilitate the legal and illicit transfer of U.S. technology, intellectual property and know-how” to China. READ MORE


A new biosecurity landscape: From genome editing to “hacking” the microbiome, advances in the life sciences and its associated technological revolution have already altered the biosecurity landscape, and will continue to do so. What does this new landscape look like, and how can policymakers and other stakeholders navigate this space? READ MORE


Wannabe bomber finally sentence: A would-be suicide subway bomber was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison after federal officials hailed his “extraordinary” work as a witness against Al Qaeda. Zarein Ahmedzay, 33, has already served most of the time imposed and is likely to walk free within months barely nine years after his arrest. READ MORE

White House releases WMD strategy: The White House released a new national strategy to address the possibility that terrorists may attack the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). A fact sheet identifies the strategy as necessary because  of  the failure of past approaches to sufficiently mitigate the threat. Although one can agree with the need for a deliberate policy approach to guide interagency efforts, one cannot say this strategy is new. READ MORE

Bioterror-response website may be leaking: The government’s bioterror-response website may be leaking sensitive data, according to Department of Homeland Security inspectors and a former employee. Health workers and government cooperate over a restricted-access website called Biowatchportal.org. In the wrong hands, the information on the site could theoretically be used to compromise the system; disable or spoof the sensors mounted in 30 cities to collect samples of biological toxins; and even target the health workers or officials who use the site. READ MORE


Facebook photo flop: Facebook revealed on Friday that a bug related to its Photo API could have allowed third-party apps to access users’ photos, even ones that were supposed to be private. According to the social media giant, its internal team discovered a bug in the Photo API that impacted users who had utilized Facebook Login and allowed third-party apps to access their photos. READ MORE

How to block unwanted smartphone calls: Unwanted calls are often harmless but some are after your credit card information, IDs or passwords. All are a distraction and a waste of your time. Whatever the scam, here are several ways to stop unwanted calls on your smartphone – and one way to stop them cold. READ MORE


Norovirus on lettuce: More than one in 20 heads of lettuce sold in the UK are contaminated with the potentially deadly bug norovirus, a major study funded by the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) has found. Norovirus is commonly known as the “winter vomiting bug.” READ MORE


Synthetic cannabinoid can cause coagulopathy: The CDC is providing information on the current status of a multi-state outbreak of coagulopathy from exposure to synthetic cannabinoid products containing a vitamin K-epoxide cycle antagonist, brodifacoum; signs and symptoms of presenting patients, and who is at risk; laboratory testing options; available resources to help clinicians; and to whom to report possible cases. READ MORE

McDonald’s will reduce antibiotics use: McDonald’s has announced a policy to reduce the overall use of antibiotics important to human health which applies across 85 percent of the company’s global beef supply chain. The company will monitor antibiotic use in its top 10 beef sourcing markets and set reduction targets for medically important antibiotic use by the end of 2020. READ MORE


The idealistic agrarian: A small but growing movement of young people is seeking out a more agrarian life; while the number of farmers aged 35-54 dropped from 2007 to 2012, there was an increase in millennial farmers by 2.2 percent, according to census data. The young people coming into the profession are fueled by idealism but, like the hippie generation before them (and the many traditional farmers who have been driven out by brutal economics) the reality of life on the land isn’t as simple as they had hoped. READ MORE

Manipulating the ionosphere: China and Russia have modified an important layer of the atmosphere above Europe to test a controversial technology for possible military application, according to Chinese scientists involved in the project. High-energy microwaves can pluck the electromagnetic field in the earth’s ionosphere like fingers playing a harp, producing very low-frequency radio signals that can penetrate the ground or water. Changing the ionosphere over enemy territory can also disrupt or cut off their communication with satellites. READ MORE