Collared feral hogs turn traitor to their herds

By MICHAEL KRANSZ
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan’s feral swine problem just got a biblical solution. Over the past year, a number of feral swine have been collared with radio trackers and released back into the wild for research, said Dwayne Etter, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife specialist spearheading the eradication efforts. But in winter 2016 these swine will unknowingly lead armed parties to their herd’s position, earning them the title of “Judas hogs,” Etter said. While the hogs won’t earn 30 pieces of silver, they will be left alive for research until the following spring, he said. Until then, research efforts include recruiting more hogs via collaring and examining the behavior of several preliminary Judas hogs after their herds are killed off and they’re left alone, he said.

More women turning to agriculture, experts say

By SIERRA RESOVSKY
Capital News Service
LANSING – With Michigan’s food and agriculture system supporting more than 920,000 jobs, 24,795 of those workers operate farms as their primary occupation. Now things are taking a turn in this predominantly and traditionally male field. There are almost one million female farmers in the U.S., and Michigan alone saw a 17.6 percent increase in women in agriculture between 2007 and 2014 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Shakara Tyler, an undeserved farmer development specialist at Michigan State University, said that although women have always been key players on family farms, now they are the fastest-growing farming population in the country. And they’re finally receiving recognition for their work.

Farm acreage up, climate change partly responsible

LANSING – More crops were planted in the northern Midwest this year than last year, including Michigan, according to a federal report. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report says Michigan farmers planted 300,000 more acres of principal crops in 2014 compared to 2013. One reason may be that warmer temperatures are allowing for a longer growing season, said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri- Business Association. With frost starting later in the year, crops have more time to mature, he said. And higher temperatures are prompting crop production to expand northward.