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News for July 16, 2010

Research shows that eggs from pastured chickens may be more nutritious

A study conducted by researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has shown that eggs produced by chickens allowed to forage in pastures are higher in some beneficial nutrients.

In the research, titled "Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens," which was published online this year in the January issue of Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, researchers examined how moving pastured hens to forage legumes or mixed grasses influenced hen egg omega-3 fatty acids and concentrations of vitamins A and E.

READ MORE (Penn State) ]

Open Data in Agriculture and Why It Matters

The farmer usually knows best -- for his or her land, crop, livestock, and profitability, among other things. As a girl on a Minnesota farm in the '80s and '90s, I was in awe of my grandfather's ability to know just what his beef cattle needed -- more water, richer pasture, better nutrients -- and to have a crop rotation schedule seemingly in his head. It was as though my Granddad could feel his way through the unpredictability of weather, supply and demand, and price fluctuations to make the optimal decisions for his operation.

A couple of years ago I was with him on his farm when the cows were getting checked for pregnancy. He sat in the middle of the cattle yard while cow after cow ran through the chute. After each check, the cowboy gave a signal to indicate the cow's status, and Granddad jotted down on a spreadsheet the results that would later that evening get saved to someone's hard drive. What could I build, I thought to myself, that would make this process easier, and link the data that emerged from this days-long affair with other information from the farm itself, the region, and the markets to help my family make even smarter operating choices?

READ MORE (Huffington Post) ]

Upstate NY farmers turn to local slaughterhouses

When the owners of Eagle Bridge Custom Meat & Smokehouse opened the doors of their new slaughtering facility in November, they expected to kill no more than 1,200 animals by the end of their first year in business.

Just over eight months later, they've easily surpassed 2,000 animals -- including pigs, sheep, goats and cattle -- and are booked solid through December.

READ MORE (Times Union) ]

E. coli discovery in lettuce raises new food safety fears

California's salad bowl remains far from pristine, even as farmers attempt to do more to keep produce free of stomach-churning contaminants.

Four years after tainted spinach killed three and sickened hundreds, state health officials this week again told consumers the E. coli bacteria was lurking in their produce – this time in Fresh Express brand packaged lettuce in California and 18 other states.

READ MORE (Sacramento Bee) ]

FSIS Names Advisory Committee on Meat & Poultry Inspection

On Thursday, July 15, USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service announced the reestablishment of the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) and the newly appointed members of the committee for 2010-2012.

Established in 1971, the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) advises the Secretary of the USDA on federal and state meat and poultry inspection programs. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requires the Secretary to consult with a committee for advice on meat, poultry and egg inspection and safety programs. The twenty-person committee is appointed by the Secretary and each member serves for 2 years. The committee makes recommendations through the Under Secretary for Food Safety to the Secretary of Agriculture. You can read more about the committee structure on the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) website.

READ MORE (National Sustainable Agricuture Commission) ]

Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt on this year's "Symphony in the Barn"

I went to Michael Schmidt’s farm a for St John’s and filmed an interview where he talks about this Summers plan for the Symphony in the Barn.

As most of you know the last 3 years of the RAW MILK WAR in Ontario has been hard on farmer Michael Schmidt - I am sure - but - he is transforming that experience the best way he knows how - into music - into a mini opera called "Milk Trial by Jury" - as he tells us in this video - a friend found this little opera by Gilbert and Sullivan and wrote a new libretto.

READ MORE (The Bovine) ]

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