USDA

Indiana Bee Deaths Down Since 2015

May 13, 2016
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports Indiana lost fewer honey bee colonies in the first quarter of this year than the first quarter of 2015, when the state lost 22-percent of its 9,500 colonies.

The Honey Bee Colony Loss Survey reports this year’s first quarter loss is 12-percent.

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Hoosier farmers didn't make much progress planting corn in the past week, after a strong early start -- and they're running out of time to get the state's signature crop in the ground.

Heavy spring rainfall didn't stop Indiana farmers from planting twice as much corn by the start of May as they had in 2015. They were on their way to planting a projected 2.6 percent more acres of corn than last year, despite a glut of the crop worldwide.

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The final avian flu quarantine has been lifted in Dubois County, where an outbreak earlier this year led to the loss of more than 400,000 birds.

The outbreak affected 10 turkey farms, all of which were identified within a 24-hour period. The State Board of Animal Health quickly quarantined the farms and restricted the moving of poultry or poultry products in and out of the farms.

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The USDA is offering up nearly $12 million in funding to increase internet access in rural communities.

The annual federal grant program has funded one major Indiana broadband project in the past -- an $800,000 community computer center for Harrison County, near Kentucky.

Phil Lehmkuhler is the USDA's rural director in Indiana. He says it's hard to do business these days without the web -- more goods and services go online every year, putting disconnected towns at an increasing disadvantage.

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The state Department of Agriculture is looking for new ways to make Indiana specialty crops competitive.

They'll divide more than $380,000 among research and marketing projects for fruit, veggies and more. The federal money comes from the USDA’s specialty crop block grant program.

 

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The USDA is estimating that American farmers may plant more corn this summer than they have in years.

 

But with the news that China will begin selling off its huge corn stockpiles, economists say prices could suffer.

Indiana accounts for 2.6 percent of the national increase. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says the state increase came from fields that went unplanted last summer due to floods.

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A national watchdog group is calling on the USDA to fine Purdue for the deaths of 10 animal research subjects.

According to officials with Stop Animal Exploitation Now, the university was negligent in the deaths of eight chinchillas in November 2013 and two calves in January of 2014.

The group’s executive director, Michael Budkie, says the information was obtained from reports the university submitted to the National Institutes of Health.

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The average age of Indiana farmers is 56, and as their retirement nears, there is a need to get the next crop of farmers up and running.

In Indiana and round the nation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $18 million to help educate and develop the next generation of agribusinesses. The funding is in the 2014 Farm Bill, under the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program.

Traci Bruckner, senior associate for agriculture and conservation policy for the Center for Rural Affairs, said the program is a great starting point for people who want to farm.

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA News

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has wrapped up a two-day visit to Purdue.

He says a mountain of data the school has collected on rural communities, many of them agrarian in nature, may help the government better target solutions to problems such as child poverty.

“The ability of Purdue to help us identify the common characteristics of counties and regions where child poverty is high is going to give us the ability to focus government resources more effectively at trying to address that issue,” Vilsack says.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has chosen Purdue as the site of one of four regional centers for research into nutrition education and obesity prevention.

The North Central Nutrition Education Center of Excellence will focus on research into interpersonal, community and environmental factors that influence the food and physical activity choices of low-income people.

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