‘This is a holistic approach’: Danone unveils details behind its industry-first methane reduction program

Read the full story at Dairy Reporter.

The dairy giant’s director of sustainability spoke of the ‘important precedent’ its initiative has set – and how it’s planning to enact it.

New WOTUS rule restores protections for many waters, but uncertainty persists due to continuing litigation

Read the full story in Environment + Energy Leader. See also coverage at Agri-Pulse.

On December 30, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (collectively Agencies) announced the issuance of a final rule defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), a key term in the Clean Water Act (CWA). That phrase, which serves as the definition for “navigable waters” in the statute, effectively establishes the boundaries of the Agencies’ regulatory authority under the CWA. The rule was published in the Federal Register on January 18, 2023, and will take effect 60 days thereafter.

As previously discussed, during the Trump administration, the Agencies promulgated a rule that defined WOTUS more narrowly than previous iterations of the rule, substantially reducing the waters subject to CWA protections and EPA authority under that statute. The new rule establishes a broader definition of WOTUS, although seeking to reflect certain Supreme Court decisions, the new rule is not as broad as the earlier (pre-2015) WOTUS rules. However, with the Supreme Court’s decision still pending in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, a case in which the Court will decide the types of wetlands that are within the statute’s scope, and the litigation already filed in the Southern District of Texas challenging the new rule, uncertainty remains regarding the new rule’s applicability.

Bees exposed to common weedkiller via wildflower nectar

Read the full story from Trinity College Dublin.

Bees may be at risk from exposure to glyphosate — an active ingredient in some of the EU’s most commonly used weedkillers — via contaminated wildflower nectar, according to new research. Residues of glyphosate have previously been found in nectar and pollen collected by bees foraging on plants that have been selectively targeted with weedkiller, but this time it has been reported in unsprayed wildflowers growing near sprayed fields.

Ancient farming strategy holds promise for climate resilience

Read the full story from Cornell University.

Morgan Ruelle, M.S. ’10, Ph.D. ’15, was living in the remote mountains of Ethiopia in 2011, researching his dissertation on food diversity, when he kept hearing about a crop that confused him.

The farmers repeatedly mentioned a grain called “duragna” in Amharic that had no equivalent in English. “They kept saying, ‘Well, it’s not really wheat, it’s not really barley,’” Ruelle says. “I was just kind of stumped by it for several weeks.”

Eventually a farmer explained that duragna was actually a mix of both wheat and barley, and sometimes other grains too, planted together, rather than one type of grain sown in orderly rows.

He had stumbled upon one of the few places in the world where farmers still sow maslins, or cereal species mixtures, which can contain rice, millet, wheat, rye, barley, triticale, emmer and more.

The knowledge the farmers shared with Ruelle led to a paper by current and former Cornell researchers that suggests maslins, which have fed humans for millennia but now are largely forgotten, have the unique capacity to adapt in real time to increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather caused by climate change.

Wildlife management practices can be implemented in other fields

Read the full story at The Land.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has found it practical to enlist farmers to assist in managing their Wildlife Management Areas. For years, farmers have been involved in providing food plots on WMAs.

Farmers battle microplastics in aquatic systems – plastic waste in agriculture

Read the full story at Waste360.

From seed to soybean, farmers are aware of plastics in agricultural systems, but the perception of microplastics in irrigation is fluid, according to a new study in Science of the Total Environment.

Air quality improvements lead to more sulfur fertilizer use

Read the full story from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

As the atmospheric deposition of sulfur has decreased, the use of sulfur fertilizer in Midwestern U.S. agriculture has increased between 1985 and 2015.

US government approves use of world’s first vaccine for honeybees

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The world’s first vaccine for honeybees has been approved for use by the US government, raising hopes of a new weapon against diseases that routinely ravage colonies that are relied upon for food pollination.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted a conditional license for a vaccine created by Dalan Animal Health, a US biotech company, to help protect honeybees from American foulbrood disease.

Tyson, others, lose Oklahoma lawsuit over poultry pollution

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The world’s largest poultry producer, Tyson Foods, is among nearly a dozen poultry companies that have less than two months to reach agreement with the state of Oklahoma on how to clean a watershed polluted by chicken litter.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell in Tulsa ruled Wednesday that Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, Minnesota-based Cargill Inc. and other companies polluted the Illinois River, caused a public nuisance and trespassed by spreading the litter, or manure, on land in eastern Oklahoma, and that it then leached into the river’s watershed.

The companies and the state have until March 17 to present an agreement on how to remedy the pollution’s effects, which includes low oxygen levels in the river, algae growth and damage to the fish population.

USDA issues rule strengthening organic program

Read the full story at Food Dive.

USDA published a final rule to strengthen oversight on products that can bear the “USDA Organic” seal in an effort to reinforce a system that had been exploited to allow products that were not truly organic to slip through the cracks. The rule takes effect on March 19, 2024.

The 282-page rule requires more certification and training for people and businesses that deal with organic food worldwide, including importers, brokers and traders. It mandates more import certificates for organic products entering the country, gives the National Organic Program more oversight to take action against certifiers, and requires more unannounced inspections with more stringent requirements for organic operations. There are also new documentation requirements for containers that ship organic products, as well as certification and data reporting requirements.

Massive fraud in the USDA Organic certification was first exposed by The Washington Post in 2017, with reports on imported conventionally grown crops that became labeled as organic when they arrived in the United States. This rule is intended to tighten the weaknesses found in the program.