Ag and Extension Briefs

Women in Ag Network December Workshop is Dec. 13 in Willmar

The Women in Ag Network will host its December workshop, Micro-Loans, Grants, and Traditional Farm Financing, on Dec. 13 in Willmar at the University of Minnesota Regional Extension Office (1802 18th St. NE, Willmar). Starting with registration at 9:45 a.m., the workshop is from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The cost for the workshop is $15, which includes lunch. Register and pay online by Dec. 7 at z.umn.edu/WAGN-Financing.

“Obtaining operating money and other finances are always time-consuming and stressful. Knowing what documents are required and different avenues to obtain this financing will save time and relieve stress. The goal of this program is to help figure out both,” said Nathan Hulinsky, Agricultural Business Management Extension educator.

The program will feature loan officers with USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) speaking about FSA loan programs, RFA loans and MDA grant opportunities. Nathan Hulinsky will share resources the University of Minnesota Extension has for farms seeking financing.

Learn more about the Women in Ag Network at z.umn.edu/WAGN. For more information about this event, contact Sarah Schieck (schi0466@umn.edu).

New England farms could see new climate adaptation tools

ORONO, Maine (AP) — Researchers in New England are working on a project to develop tools for small- and mid-sized farms in the region to address productivity problems related to climate change.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted nearly $500,000 over three years to the University of Vermont for the project, and more than $200,000 will go to University of Maine researchers. UMaine officials say the project will seek to help farmers with issues that have a link to a changing climate, such as changes in the growing season, drought risks and new pests.

UMaine said its research team will focus on the importance of developing climate adaptation tools. The university says most farmers in New England own small to medium operations, and many have been farming for less than a decade.

California makes cage-free hens a state law

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California voters overwhelmingly approved a measure Tuesday requiring that all eggs sold in the state come from cage-free hens by 2022.

Proposition 12 also bans the sale of pork and veal in California from farm animals raised in cages that don’t meet the new minimum size requirements. That means the Golden State’s new rules will apply to farmers nationwide whose eggs, veal and pork are sold in California.

Supporters said the measure is a big step toward more humane farming practices, while opponents say it is misleading and maintains cruel practices for animals.

Dubbed the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act, Proposition 12 builds on an earlier ballot measure, Proposition 2, that passed in 2008 and banned keeping hens, calves and pigs in tiny cages so cramped they couldn’t stand up, lie down or turn around.

That measure took effect in 2015 but lacked specific size requirements and did not apply to out-of-state farmers whose products were sold in California.

Proposition 12 specifies how much floor space farmers need to give each animal.

“Change is coming,” said Josh Balk, vice president at the Humane Society of the United States, which sponsored and financed the measure. “This vote is a massive blow against industrial animal agriculture’s abusive confinement systems.”

It requires that, starting in 2020, calves confined for production have at least 43 square feet of usable floor space, while breeding pigs be given at least 24 square feet of floor space in their pens starting in 2022.

Starting in 2020, egg-laying hens must be been given 1 square foot of floor space each on the way to being cage-free by 2022.

The measure also had support from several animal welfare groups, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Sierra Club and Center for Food Safety, and a variety of veterinarians and religious organizations.

The Humane Society, which also sponsored Proposition 2, says the upgrade will strengthen the earlier measure and restore California as a leader in the ethical treatment of farm animals.

A decade ago, Proposition 2 was the furthest-reaching law for farm animals in the country. Since then a dozen states have banned or restricted confinement for at least one farm animal. Massachusetts passed a comprehensive measure in 2016 that is similar to Proposition 12.

Among those opposed to the measure were the National Pork Producers Council and the Association of California Egg Farmers, which said it will raise costs for farmers and, as a result, prices for consumers.

Bradley Miller, a spokesman for Californians against Cruelty, Cages and Fraud, which led a “No on Proposition 12” campaign, said the measure makes misleading claims and does little to end cruelty to animals in the near term.

“We are vehemently opposed to the 1 square foot per hen cage space,” said Miller, who is also president of the Humane Farming Association. “It is a cruel step backward.”

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says Proposition 12 would likely result in an increase in prices for eggs, pork and veal partly because farmers would have to remodel or build new housing for animals.

It could also cost the state as much as $10 million a year to enforce and millions of dollars more a year in lost tax revenues from farm businesses that choose to stop or reduce production because of higher costs, the office said.

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