French applesauce makers ready production at Lancaster County facility
(Harrisburg, PA)(Central Penn Business Journal, August 12, 2014): Officials with French applesauce maker Charles & Alice Group are finalizing production lines for its sugar-free applesauce products at its East Hempfield Township facility in Lancaster County.
Thierry Goubault, chief executive officer of Charles & Alice, is visiting this week to oversee the project. The company announced plans in April to make a vacant food-processing plant at 2870 Yellow Goose Road its first American facility.
Goubault said the company has hired about 10 people so far and plans to start full production in the fall, which could mean up to 50 employees. The area was specifically selected for its fresh apples, major roads, location and available employees, he added. The 55,000-square-foot site is the right size for now and for future growth, he said.
"It's a perfect location in what I call the heart of Northeast America," he said. "At the end of the day, apart from the location, we were feeling very comfortable and welcome, which is always an important factor when you go into a foreign country."
The Charles & Alice deal resulted in a $1.57 million package of grants, tax credits and a low-interest loan from the state. All total, the company is investing about $10 million here, Goubault said.
Do GMO Crops Foster Monocultures?
(Reno, NV)(Science 2.0, August 6, 2014): Do GMO crops "foster monoculture?" This is a frequent criticism of modern agriculture. I have three with problems it:
"Monoculture" isn't the right term to use to describe the relevant issues - its really about a limited crop rotationHistory and economics are the drivers behind this phenomenon, not crop biotechnologyThe solutions - to the extent that they are needed - are not what most critics seem to imagine
The Corn Belt of the Midwestern US, is a multi-million acre farming region almost entirely dominated by just two crops - corn and soybeans. This phenomenon is often termed "monoculture," but monoculture is merely the practical approach of growing a single crop in a given field. The opposite of monoculture is "polyculture" and it is entirely impractical for even minimally mechanized farming.
The Corn Belt is more accurately described as an example of a "limited crop rotation." The typical pattern is an alternation between corn and soybeans in each field. There are also some fields where the growers plant continuous corn or continuous soybeans. There are many reasons that a more "diverse crop rotation" could be a good idea.
Mixing up crop types over time can help build soil quality because of different rooting patterns or residue characteristics. Some plant pests can be more easily managed if their life cycles are disrupted by cropping changes. All of this is well known, but for a variety of reasons that I'll discuss below, the less diverse rotation persists.
Is American farming different than European farming?
(Bismark, ND)(Minnesota Farm Guide, August 7, 2014): A Sept. 7, 2013, article in "The Economist" says American agriculture is different from the European variety because Americans treat food as commodities, whereas Europeans are more concerned where food comes from and if it is produced in ways they view as acceptable.
The Economist article says the emphasis on science in American education and the Extension Service prepare American farmers to rely on technology and to be dispassionate about their methods of food production.
Shortly after The Economist article appeared, Oklahoma State University agricultural economics professor Jayson Lusk wrote that European agriculture is not as productive as American agriculture because government regulation of agriculture is greater in Europe.
Lusk also took offense that The Economist article attacked an organization in which he participated as a youth – 4H, which The Economist said prepares future American farmers to use production methods the British publication took to task. Lusk says America's science, technology, independence and business gives U.S. producers the edge.
When I visited Germany and France in April-May while on a 12-day tour of their healthcare systems, I asked two dozen persons in these countries, "What is your main concern about food production?" The people I interviewed were farmers, food and clothing merchants, restaurateurs and consumers in southern Germany and central France.
The Manheim Young Farmers and Ruhl Insurance will be co sponsoring an informational meeting about the new USDA Farm Bill on Thursday August 28 from 7:00-9:00 pm at the Lancaster Farm and Home Center. See the attachment for more details. All are welcome and no RSVP is required. Click here to download the informational flier.
Ag Issues forum
(Lancaster, PA)(Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, August 20, 2014); The next Ag Issues Forum is scheduled for Thursday, September 11th from 7:30 – 9:00 a.m. at the Farm and Home Center.
Join us to hear from speakers on how feeding a growing population effects agriculture and agribusiness in Lancaster County. Vinton Smith, Elanco, will share a vision for a food secure world and insights on how the agriculture industry is preparing to ensure there will be ENOUGH food for 9 billion people in 2050. In addition, Don McNutt, Center for Dairy Excellence, will share insights on the positive impacts of best practices in agriculture.
Indoor Farming: Future Takes Root In Abandoned Buildings, Warehouses, Empty Lots
& High Rises
(New York, NY)(International Business Times, August 9, 2014): In a 90,000-square-foot warehouse not far from Chicago's Midway Airport, the future of urban farming has taken root. Long shelves thick with fresh herbs and salad greens sit beneath hundreds of fluorescent grow lights. There are planters of basil, watercress and kale stacked in neat rows reaching the ceiling, afloat in a nutrient-rich stream of water fed by large blue tanks filled with tilapia. It's an eerily beautiful scene, interrupted only by the occasional worker driving an aerial lift through the aisles, stopping to pluck handfuls of greens ready to be packaged and distributed throughout the city.
Welcome to the world of vertical farming.
As the demand for fresh, locally grown food has increased among urban consumers, businesses like FarmedHere, which runs the Chicago warehouse, have stepped in to compete with conventional farms. Using advanced hydroponic and aquaponic methods, they're growing fruits and vegetables year-round in facilities that are often in the same neighborhood as the restaurants and retailers they supply. Proponents like to call it ultra-local farming.
"We can grow 200 percent more food per square foot than traditional agriculture, and without the use of chemical fertilizers," said Mark Thomann, chief executive officer of FarmedHere.
The Association for Vertical Farming, an industry trade group, says vertical farms use 98 percent less water and 70 percent less fertilizer on average than outdoor farms. Weather fluctuations aren't a factor, and neither is soil management. They can harvest crops as often as 20 times a year, and with their stack-it-high layout, occupy a fraction of the land traditional agriculture requires.