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A 10-minute delay of key USDA reports gave some people an advantage. Here’s why.

Each month, the United States Department
of Agriculture releases a series of reports that analysts, grain traders,
investors and farmers use to make decisions or buy and sell commodities.

But on Friday, November 8, two of those USDA
reports - World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) and the Crop
Production report – were delayed by at least 10 minutes.

Does efficient irrigation technology preserve groundwater? A new GAO report says the answer is probably no.

Note: This story is embargoed for republication until Nov. 24, 2019

Efficient irrigation may produce more crops, but it doesn’t appear to preserve groundwater, according to a federal report released this week. Decades of irrigation has already depleted aquifers that many irrigated farms rely on, according to the report from the Government Accountability Office, and efficient systems appear to not help. Minus a few exceptions, GAO researchers found “there is no change in the amount of water farmers apply to a field with more efficient technology,” according to the Nov. 12 report.

This was the next step on our pesticide drift project

Last week, we hosted a discussion regarding our pesticide drift sensor project. Twenty-five people from various industries including scientists from the University of Illinois, local public health officials, the Champaign County Farm Bureau, and environmental focus groups gathered at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department as we presented our findings from the project and asked for their input.

Experts advocate for human rights to a healthy environment

President Trump withdrew this week from the Paris Climate Agreement, a global effort to combat climate change. Earlier this year, Illinois Engagement Reporter Claire Hettinger attended the annual Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment Congress at the University of Illinois. This is what she learned about climate change.

Public science for private interests: How University of Missouri agricultural research cultivates profits for industry

The partnership is emblematic of the broader system of industry-sponsored research that takes place in MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and especially in the Division of Plant Sciences. Corporate money goes to MU professors on both ends of the research spectrum, from basic science to product testing.

Industry’s stake in the system is clear. Companies gain the expertise and credibility of renowned plant science experts , University Extension experts who Missouri farmers trust.

What’s not so clear is how the public benefits

Soybean promoters shop for new markets as talks with China continue

In Washington D.C. Friday, President Trump announced that China and the U.S. had reached a tentative trade agreement. The announcement came at the end of a 13th round of trade talks between the two nations over 18 months. Though the president's statement was light on details, one promise brought cautious optimism to U.S. farmers and ranchers. Trump said the deal will include $50 billion in U.S. agricultural goods heading to China, though no timeline was mentioned. More than 800 miles west of Washington D.C., Rich Guebert, a farmer in Ellis Grove, Illinois, hoped the rain would hold off long enough for him to finish harvesting corn.

Seeking a Cure: The Quest to Save Rural Hospitals

A seven-state news investigation revealed plenty of problems facing rural patients but also a variety of creative attempts to solve them. The head of the National Rural Health Association puts it this way: “Everyone realizes we’re at a crisis point.”

Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. But it can also be a part of the solution.

The global food production system, which
includes agriculture, accounts for more than a third of manmade greenhouse
gases, according to an August report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change.

And while past focus has been on industries
such as fossil fuels and transportation, new attention is being put on
agriculture’s role in the climate change
solution. On September 18, a coalition representing 10,000 farmers and ranchers
delivered a letter to congress supporting the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution to
transition the United States to 100 percent clean energy by 2030.

Farming, more than any other industry, might be the best hope for curbing climate change.

Critics worry about food safety as federal meat inspectors face work overload, burnout

A nine-month investigation by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found dozens of situations at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service where routine vacancies leave the remaining federal food inspectors vulnerable to burnout, work overload and other job hazards.

In several cases, employees in other roles are oftentimes forced to abandon their own job duties to cover the slaughter line inspections mandated for plants to operate.