AgDay Daily Recap - December 6, 2011

December 6, 2011 03:33 AM

DECEMBER 6, 2011

Good morning. The Environmental Protection Agency has released a 128 page report on how to protect the health of the Gulf of Mexico. And part of the report focuses on farm run-off which moves down the Mississippi River from the Midwest. The Gulf Coast eco-system restoration task force was developed as a result of the "Deepwater Horizon" accident that claimed the lives of eleven people. The report helps to prioritize projects to insure the long-term of the gulf. That list includes putting coastal restoration as a national priority. It also talks about the need to stop the loss of wetlands. In its executive summary, this report says the building of levees on the Mississippi River and its tributaries since the 18th century has contributed to depriving wetlands and barrier islands of the freshwater, sediments and nutrients they need to survive. The EPA report also puts the so-called "Dead Zone" high on the list. The EPA says nutrient run-off along the entire length of the Mississippi has a big impact on the quality of the water in the Gulf.

For most row-crop producers, harvest has come to a close. The growing season offered many weather challenges. It also brought continuing weed-resistance problems. We asked some of the top ag schools in the country to tell us what their experts found this year. Over the next three days, we'll be profiling some of those weed warriors. We begin in Tennessee with reporter Ginger Rowsey. We'll continue our look at the Weed Warriors tomorrow on AgDay. We'll head to Illinois to see how water-hemp is causing fits for some growers.

In news from our reporting partners at Dairy Today - USDA will start requiring the somatic cell count in milk marked for export to be limited to 400,000. And this new "quality factor" goes into effect starting January first. 400,000 is in accordance with the European Health Certification Program. USDA says the SCC is based on a rolling three month average for individual farms. The rolling average means that if a farm is above 400k, it still would be allowed to sell milk for export for four months as long as it was making progress toward reducing the cell count. If it had not reached 400,000 by May, its milk could no longer be sold for export. According to Dairy Today, the program also allows for "seasonal adjustments" where SCCS might exceed 400,000 during certain times of the year.

In other news from, the FDA will reportedly start random testing of herds that have a history of anti-biotic residue in meat. The Minnesota Milk Producers Association says the FDA will begin "non-regulatory milk double-blinded sampling survey" of milk samples. FDA investigators will visit certain milk labs and collect milk samples from these herds as well as an equal number of samples from random dairy farms. No farm identifying information will be attached to the samples. You can read more about the milk sample testing at

Gregg Hunt

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield used to say during his stand-up routine "I don't get no respect". When it comes to fruit, the prune is in the same basket. Despite its health qualities, it doesn't get a lot of respect. But for California farmer Sam Nevis, plums - and its dried-down version - deserve plenty of respect. It's been an excellent crop for him. Tracey Sellers has details in this report from the California Farm Bureau. By the way, Tracey says it takes three pounds of plums to make one pound of dried plums - or prunes. Still to come, food and your family looks at why the world's largest soft drink maker may be turning a bit "red-faced" over a marketing decision.

In food and your family...have you ever walked thru the produce aisle and "thumped" a melon to see if it's ripe? Does that test work? What if it's a pear? The Pear Bureau Northwest says 84% of pear shoppers are un-aware on how to tell when a pear is ripe. So the pear marketing organization has launched a campaign to educate consumers about the proper steps. It's called "check the neck". Pear bureau northwest says simply apply gentle thumb pressure to the neck, or the stem. If it pushes in a bit, then the fruit is just right. By the way, December is national pear month. Learn more at

And finally this morning, some customers of Coca-Cola products are "seeing red" over a label change, and they're as angry as, well, polar bears. The company recently took the iconic color red off its soft-drink cans and replaced it images of polar bears for a special holiday label. However, the new product design confused a significant number of consumers, many of whom thought the white labels signified diet versions of Coca-Cola’s drinks. The company ordered nearly two billion of the cans. In response to the upset customers, the company said was going to hold-off on any more shipments of the cans and will revert to the traditional red labels.

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