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Texas Ag Daily
WTO rules with Canada and Mexico on COOL

In the ongoing debate of the U.S. mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law, the World Trade Organization (WTO) recently ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico, stating some COOL requirements treat Canadian and Mexican livestock less favorable than U.S. livestock.

Drovers CattleNetwork reports the Oct. 20 ruling says the “compliance panel concluded that the amended COOL measure increases the original COOL measure’s detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities of imported livestock in the U.S. market, because it necessitates increased segregation of meat and livestock according to origin; entails a higher recordkeeping burden; and increases the original COOL measure's incentive to choose domestic over imported livestock.”

WTO’s decision summary added the “detrimental impact caused by the amended COOL measure's labeling and recordkeeping rules could not be explained by the need to convey to consumers information regarding the countries where livestock were born, raised and slaughtered.”

Both Canada and Mexico have threatened to retaliate in the form of placing tariffs on U.S. imports. Canada’s list of targeted products includes more than just live cattle and hogs and meat products, but also fresh fruits, grains, pasta, bread and other pastries, wine, ketchup, certain metals, jewelry, mattresses and more.  Mexico has not yet released its list.

Aquaponics is new, intensified farming

Dr. Joe Masabni, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s vegetable specialist, recently demonstrated a small-scale aquaponics system—a relatively new way of intensified farming that combines aquaculture with hydroponics, according to AgriLife Today.

“We are combining fish, which is the aquaculture, and hydroponics, which is vegetable production in soilless media,” Masabni said.

Aquaponics has been tried and successfully used by Texas farmers since the late 1990s. In the last five years, the method has become popular among Texas vegetable farmers. Crops can be grown with less water and the addition of fish means less fluctuation in nutrients.

Harvesting aquaponics vegetables is different than field harvest. Vegetables are simply removed from the growing cup and packaged. “It (vegetables) will last a lot longer with no wilting. When the roots remain on the plant, it is still alive, so it can last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator and still taste, smell and look like it was harvested yesterday,” Masabni said. 

For more information on aquaponics, contact Masabni at 979-324-1244 or jmasabni@ag.tamu.edu.

Expansion set for the ‘Mushroom Capital of Texas’

Monterey Mushrooms, Inc. is a sprawling mushroom-growing facility in Madisonville and is Texas’ largest mushroom producer. Next year, it will become the nation’s second-largest mushroom grower upon completion of its expanded production capacity, according to The Huntsville Item.

Current mushroom production is 600,000 pounds per week, and with the addition of two new buildings, production is expected to increase to 657,000 pounds weekly. Large modern rooms emit high humidity and cool 60-degree temperatures to create a climate-controlled environment.

Primarily white button, but also baby bella and portabella, mushrooms are shipped mostly throughout Texas, and as far west as Phoenix.

In 2005, the Texas Legislature recognized Madisonville as the “The Mushroom Capital of Texas.” The company is the city’s largest private-sector employer with 650 workers, which will increase with 50 more after the plant’s expansion. 


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