U.S. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved commercial planting of two types of potatoes that are genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine.

The approval announced Friday covers Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co.'s Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties of the company's second generation of Innate potatoes.

The company says the potatoes will also have reduced bruising and black spots, enhanced storage capacity and a reduced amount of a chemical created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures that's a potential carcinogen.

Five conservation groups on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Idaho seeking to stop a federal agency from killing wolves in the state until a new environmental analysis is prepared.

Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project and four other groups in the 27-page federal lawsuit say the 2011 analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services is outdated.

 

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has denied a request by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to dismiss a lawsuit by eastern Idaho potato growers seeking to end a quarantine after the discovery of a microscopic pest that caused some countries to ban Idaho spuds.

But the U.S. District Court ruling earlier this month did dismiss Idaho officials from the lawsuit, noting state court was the proper venue concerning potential violations of state law.

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Farmers and ranchers in the West's worst-hit drought regions will receive an additional $21 million to help them save water and soil despite the long dry spell.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the aid Monday. The assistance will go to areas of the West that are rated in the highest categories of drought. That includes parts of California, Kansas, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Utah.

The aid is meant to help farms and grazing pastures cope with drought through better irrigation, cover crops and other measures.

CompassioninWorldFarming / Flickr

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says dairy farmers can begin signing up Sept. 2 for a new program that replaces old subsidies.

The program is a kind of insurance that pays farmers when the difference between milk prices and feed prices shrink to a certain level. It replaces a program that paid farmers when milk prices sank too low.

Dairy farmers have struggled in recent years even with good milk prices. Feed costs have risen because of demand for corn from the ethanol industry and recent droughts.

Martin LaBar / Flickr

Agribusiness giant Monsanto says genetically modified wheat found in Oregon could be the result of an accident rather than a widespread planting of the controversial seed. In a call today with reporters, the St. Louis-based company says its provided its specific tests to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for use in the investigation.