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Indian govt exempts agriculture-farming, allied activities from Covid-19 lockdown

Government has granted relaxation in the nationwide lockdown for activities related to agriculture-farming and allied activities with a view to address problems being faced by the farming community. Categories exempted from the lockdown include agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products, markets operated by the agriculture produce market committee, farming operations by farmers and farm workers in the field, manufacturing and packaging units of fertilisers, pesticides and seed, and intra and inter-state movement of harvesting and sowing related machines.

Read more at The Star

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Is factory farming to blame for coronavirus?

Starting in the 1990s, as part of its economic transformation, China ramped up its food production systems to industrial scale. One side effect of this was that smallholding farmers were undercut and pushed out of the livestock industry. Searching for a new way to earn a living, some of them turned to farming “wild” species that had previously been eaten for subsistence only. Wild food was formalised as a sector, and was increasingly branded as a luxury product. But the smallholders weren’t only pushed out economically. As industrial farming concerns took up more and more land, these small-scale farmers were pushed out geographically too – closer to uncultivable zones. Closer to the edge of the forest, that is, where bats and the viruses that infect them lurk. The density and frequency of contacts at that first interface increased, and hence, so did the risk of a spillover.

Read more at The Guardian

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Revolutionary Carbon Foam from Wood

Carbon foam — a stiff, porous structure formed from a web of carbon atoms — is the stuff of manufacturers’ dreams. The breakthrough material is strong but lightweight, non-flammable and able to maintain its performance at high temperatures, and capable of absorbing sound and radiation. This unique combination of traits means carbon foam is brimming with potential applications across military, aerospace, and commercial industries. Scientists at the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Products Lab and Ligsteel LLC are working with Domtar, Inc to develop high-value carbon foam from lignin, the substance in a plant’s cell walls that makes it rigid. Lignin is cheap and readily available — 70 million tons are produced by the pulping and paper industries each year.

Read more at USDA

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Can cows be used to fight coronavirus?

Bovine plasma donors genetically engineered to produce human antibodies are in the front lines of the struggle against coronavirus. SAB Biotherapeutics, a biotechnology company injects cows with a noninfectious part of the virus, causing them to produce fully human antibodies that will actually neutralize and bind to the live virus. Since the cows are born with human antibodies, “they recognize them as just being a part of themselves”. Polyclonal antibodies bind to multiple epitopes on the virus and so it’s much more difficult for the virus to mutate and become resistant.

Read more at Agri-Pulse

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Coronavirus measures could cause global food shortage, UN warns

Protectionist measures by national governments during the coronavirus crisis could provoke food shortages around the world.

Empty shelves in supermarkets should not be much of a concern.

It is not a supply problem – it is a logistics problem. There is enough supply for all, as long as everyone stays calm and stops hoarding. We may tend to waste food if we hoard more than required, and hoarding would also artificially increase food prices because of the pressure on the supply chain.

Read more at The Guardian

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Producers shouldn’t change planting plans

Livestock, grain and energy, mainly oil, prices and the stock market have dropped so dramatically because of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, and not because of a supply and demand issue. This situation is unprecedented, so people don’t know what to expect and tend to think of the worst-case scenario.

Don’t change your plans based on what you see in the markets today because it’s not going to be a good reference point

Read more at Farm and Ranch Guide

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Farming the Countryside: Talking Technology

If you’re looking for ways to better use technology on your farm, or you’re wanting to know what can bring return on investment (ROI), precision technology could be the ticket. As in the case of corn crop, the plants should come up within 48 hours of each other. If that last one comes up 64 hours afterwards it becomes a weed so you’re just wasting seed.

For every singulation point you lose, you’re losing two bushels to the acre

Read more at AgWeb

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Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Things are far from business as usual in cities and towns across America this week. While many retailers are scaling back and temporarily closing for public health, agriculture remains on call 24/7. In the days, weeks and months ahead, agriculture will continue to depend on access to a skilled workforce to help with the work of planting, cultivating and harvesting our crops. Times like these should remind us all of the importance of ensuring nation’s food security.

Empty shelves can be frightening, but empty fields and barns would be devastating.

Read more at American Farm Bureau

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SMEs fight for their lives in face of coronavirus: ‘It is a nerve-wracking time’

Small and medium sized food brands who have benefited from the diversification of the grocery aisle in recent years are now feeling the squeeze as the unprecedented coronavirus crisis sweeps Europe – and the world. The average projected loss in revenue in 2020 plans, for those that felt capable to estimate at this stage, stood at 33%. Ahead of the coronavirus crisis, around 40% of food was eaten out of home in the UK.

Read more at Food Navigator

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The Case for Food and Agriculture is Critical in Trying Times

Everyone needs to eat and drink. This point comes to the forefront, especially during times of crisis. That’s precisely why the Food and Agriculture industry is among the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 16 critical infrastructure sectors. Being designated as such can help ease uncertainties and possible roadblocks for industry stakeholders in the face of COVID-19. Food and Agriculture Sector is responsible for food manufacturing, processing, and storage facilities, accounts for one-fifth of the nation’s economic activity.

Read more at Growing Produce