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Much of the race for texas agriculture commissioner centers on food — whether immigrants should be able to help harvest it, how crops are traded or what items schools can serve students for lunch. Democrat kim olson, a farmer and air force veteran, is challenging the incumbent, republican sid miller. In the latest edition of our split decision virtual debate series, watch olson and miller discuss these issues, as well as miller’s presence on social media and more. Washington university in st louis athletics olson is critical of what miller’s done over his first term as agriculture commissioner, including the fees he raised on farmers and ranchers in 2016 that an audit showed raised millions more dollars than necessary. Miller highlighted reforms he said he’s made at the texas department of agriculture, including increased inspections and expanded foreign markets.The two also see president donald trump’s tough trade policies very differently.

Olson says trump’s tariffs on chinese imports are hurting texas farmers and beef producers. Texas’ beef industry recently started re-establishing a relationship with china after a 14-year ban on U.S. Beef exports to the country was lifted last year. Miller counters that the U.S. "Hasn’t really gained the beef market back" and added that he’s confident that, ultimately, the president will make good on his promise to protect rural america.

During its regularly scheduled meeting, the michigan commission of agriculture and rural development voted to approve food and agriculture investment fund grants for three food and agriculture projects in michigan. The projects will help grow companies focused on cheese-making, asparagus packing and production, and grain processing as well as support the expansion of consumer-demand driven, value-added michigan products. “food and agriculture processing is a diversified business in michigan, and these three projects are great examples of the support we can give to small companies in order to accelerate their growth,” said peter anastor, director of MDARD’s agriculture development division. “we hope these companies continue to grow and establish themselves as key pieces of our food and ag supply chain that will support local, regional and national food companies and consumers.”the food and agriculture investment program provides financial support for food and agriculture projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and michigan’s economy. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in michigan.

As costco is set to be the first U.S. Retailer to integrate its meat supply to the farm level, a new report from cobank’s knowledge exchange division predicts that other food retailers and foodservice companies may be prompted to reevaluate their own supply chain integration opportunities.

In september of next year, costco is slated to open a new chicken complex in eastern nebraska where it expects in-house production to generate a savings of 10 to 35 cents per bird. According to the cobank report, the move comes as costco’s rotisserie chickens have become a major traffic-driver for in-store customers, while available supplies of whole birds at targeted weights have declined. Since 2010, costco’s rotisserie chicken sales have grown by more than 8 percent annually—three times the growth rate of total U.S. Poultry consumption—and have maintained a $4.99 per chicken price point.Costco’s move marks the first time a U.S. Retailer has integrated its meat supply to the farm level and taken on the risks associated with animal husbandry, including feeding, animal welfare, disease prevention and harvesting.

McDonald’s corp. Has long been on the receiving end of calls to take better care of its chickens. Earlier this month, actors and musicians including kristen bell, joan jett and weird al yankovic have lent their names to demands for more humane treatment. Now there’s a new name on that list, and it carries a lot more weight. In a letter dated aug. 22, obtained by bloomberg news, new york state comptroller thomas P. DiNapoli expressed concerns over the "potential financial and reputational risks associated with mcdonald’s chicken welfare practices." dinapoli was writing in his capacity as trustee of the new york state common retirement fund, the third-largest public pension fund in the U.S. And—as of july 31—holder of more than $300 million in mcdonald’s stock. Washington university neurology the warning, addressed to mcdonald’s chairman enrique hernandez, jr. And CEO stephen J. Easterbrook, follows a broad media campaign by the humane society of the united states, including a television ad running in mcdonald’s hometown of chicago and a letter with 20 celebrity signatories. They all urge the restaurant giant to follow competitors such as burger king and subway in making "modest reforms" to its chicken welfare policies, including transitioning to more humane breeds and slaughter practices.

The whole foods grocery store chain is trying to turn the tables on animal rights protesters. Fed up with store take-overs, they are taking one east bay group to court. Animal rights activists from the berkeley-based group direct action everywhere or dxe have been targeting whole foods for several years now. DxE alleges whole foods sources from farms that exercise animal cruelty.Demonstrations run the gamut from chicken funerals to sit-ins where they bring in cow crates to the activists interrupting a recent ribbon cutting at a whole foods in silicon valley.This week, whole foods fought back and a judge sided with them, issuing a restraining order against dxe for its berkeley store.Whole foods issued a statement on the group that read in part, “dxe members have repeatedly entered our stores and property to conduct demonstrations that disrupt customers and team members by blocking access to our aisles, departments, and cash registers, interfering with our business and putting the safety of both customers and team members at risk.”the injunction comes on the cusp of a week-long protest planned at the berkeley whole foods store. On friday, KPIX 5 saw organizers continuing to paint banners for the week ahead. They say that — despite the restraining order – they plan to show up anyway.

In practice, the owners have found ways to legally funnel money out of the operations. Washington university the methods they use are open industry secrets and the situation has played out in nearly every state that required dispensaries to be run by nonprofits.As a result, most of those states have changed their laws to reflect the reality of the industry and ease the restrictions on dispensaries that are trying to raise capital."A not-for-profit doesn’t have shares or membership in an LLC that they can sell on an open market . But these cannabis operations are very capital intensive, especially if they’re going to grow their own marijuana," said scott moskol, co-chair of the cannabis business advisory division of the boston law firm burns & levinson. "So how is a not-for-profit to raise millions of dollars? In a traditional not-for-profit you might have memberships, membership dues, fundraisers or a capital campaign."That’s not what happens in the marijuana industry. Instead, there are several common workarounds. One way is for the officers of the nonprofit, or their friends and family, to lend the organization money at extremely high interest rates, allowing them to receive returns equivalent to being an investor in a business.