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Farm & Livestock

Farm & Livestock

HIMALAYAN BLACKBERRY

HIMALAYAN BLACKBERRY
Rubus discolor Weihe & Nees
The Free Press WV

Gilmer County Conservation Supervisors, Larry Sponaugle and Jane Collins are working to get a noxious and invasive plant identified and eradicated before spreading to other locations in Gilmer County.

The first of October Conservation Supervisor, Larry Sponaugle, was notified that a vigorous thorn-studded vine was growing on property owned by Rick Frame in the Normantown vicinity. The vines were beginning to get out of control and taking over a meadow that is being used for Agriculture purposes.

Contacts were made to The Dept. of Agriculture, DNR, and WVU Extension office in an attempt to get this thorny vine identified. Paul Harmon, Rare and Endangered Plant Botanist at DNR, after receiving samples from the site, unofficially identified the plant as Rubus discolor Weihe & Nees(Himalayan Blackberry). Photos were taken of the vine and sent to WVU Extension Specialist Rakesh Chandran, who also unofficially identified the plant as Himalayan Blackberry however, he was checking further with WVU’s Herbarium Curator before a final identification would be confirmed. In West Virginia, tracking and control of a non-native invasive plant species is conducted by the WV Dept. of Agriculture. Mr. Harmon has alerted the Dept. Of Ag of this find in Gilmer County and is currently working with Donna Ford-Werntz, Herbarium Curator at WVU to positively identify the plant.

According to Mr. Harmon, since this species is perceived as an invasive plant species elsewhere in North America the quicker the population could be treated and eliminated from the site in Gilmer County the better. At this time, West Virginia has NOT identified this vine as an invasive species.

Gilmer County Conservation Supervisors, are currently working with WVU Extension, DNR, and WV Dept. of Agriculture to get the species identified and to develop a plan eradication..

Larry Sponaugle and Jane Collins – Gilmer County Conservation Supervisors

The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV

Monsanto Plaintiff Gets Good News, and $211M in Bad News

The Free Press WV

A Northern California judge on Monday upheld a jury’s verdict that found Monsanto’s weed killer caused a groundskeeper’s cancer, but she slashed the amount of money to be paid from $289 million to $78 million. In denying Monsanto’s request for a new trial, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos cut the jury’s punitive damages from $250 million to $39 million, per the AP, which is the same amount the jury awarded Dewayne Johnson for other damages. The jury awarded punitive damages—designed to punish companies that juries determine have purposely misbehaved and to deter others—after it found the agribusiness had purposely ignored warnings and evidence that its popular Roundup product causes cancer, including Johnson’s lymphoma. Johnson’s suit is among hundreds alleging Roundup caused cancer, but the first one to go to trial.

Johnson sprayed Roundup and a similar product at his pest control manager job at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, per his attorneys. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 at age 42. In a tentative ruling Oct. 11, Bolanos said it appeared jurors overreached with their punitive damages award and that she was considering wiping out the $250 million judgment after finding no compelling evidence Monsanto workers ignored evidence that the weed killer caused cancer. The judge reversed course Monday and said she was compelled to honor the jurors’ conclusions after they listened to expert witnesses for both sides. Bolanos has given Johnson until Decembr 07 to accept the reduced amount or demand a new trial. A rep for Johnson says he and his lawyers are reviewing the decision. A Monsanto rep says the company is pleased with the reduced reward but still plans to appeal the verdict.

For First Time in 7 Years, Good News on Florida Oranges

The Free Press WV

Florida’s orange crop is expected to increase for the first time in seven years, per the AP. The US Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that 79 million boxes of oranges are expected during the coming season, a 76% increase from the 45 million produced last season. That crop was ravaged by Hurricane Irma, and the industry is still suffering from citrus greening, a disease that kills trees. Each box of oranges weighs 90 pounds.

“I was expecting it to be much lower than that. Very good,“ Mongi Zekri of the University of Florida tells the Naples Daily News. Still, the forecast is only about a third the size of the typical Florida orange crop of the early 2000s. Almost all Florida oranges are sold to juice manufacturers. The grapefruit crop is expected to grow 73% to 6.7 million boxes, and the combined tangerine and tangelo crop is expected to jump 60% to 1.2 million boxes.

Farmers Worried as Death Rates Surge for Female Pigs

The Free Press WV

Operators of farms with a large number of female pigs are seeing a worrying trend—death rates are surging among the sows. One industry group, Swine Management Services, says the death rate increased from 5.8% to 10.2% from 2013 to 2016, per National Hog Farmer. “This makes you wonder what has changed,“ says Ron Ketchem of SMS. Many of the sows appear to be dying from prolapse, the collapse of the pig’s ######, rectum, or uterus, explains the Guardian. So what’s going on? The industry is trying to figure that out, with one theory being that booming demand for pork in the US has led industrial-scale farms to adopt unhealthy breeding practices for the sows, including confined quarters, in order to keep them churning out the average 23.5 piglets a year.

“They’re breeding the sows to produce a lot of babies,“ renowned animal behaviorist Temple Grandin tells the Guardian. “Well, there’s a point where you’ve gone too far.“ A soon-to-be-departing official with Compassion in World Farming adds that the pigs also are being bred to have less fat, which is in sync with consumer demand but not with biology in terms of producing a lot of piglets. “Their bones are weak and they don’t have enough fat to support the reproductive process,“ she says. “We’ve bred them to their limit and the animals are telling us that.“ At TreeHugger, Katherine Martinko’s suggestion for concerned consumers is to skip supermarket pork and find a small, local farmer.

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