**The “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is bigger than ever.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says hypoxia, which is a reduced oxygen level in the water which can kill marine life or force it to move to other areas, is estimated at 8,776 square miles, 7 % larger than June.

NOAA says its caused by nutrient pollution, primarily from agriculture and developed land runoff in the Mississippi River watershed.

Spring flooding in the Midwest swept nitrogen and phosphorus from fields into waterways feeding the Mississippi and into the Gulf.

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Don Parrish says, to put it a bit more simply, “This is a weather story.”

**The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association says there’s much more to the animal identification discussion than producers tagging livestock.

That was among the comments submitted by cattle producers in response to ongoing stakeholder meetings on the Animal Disease Traceability system.

U.S. Cattlemen’s President Kenny Graner says the conversation has to include traceability in terms of accurate disease tracebacks, effective recordkeeping and efficient and affordable technology.

**The results of a recent survey show healthcare costs are one of the biggest concerns among farmers.

Minnesota Farmers Union president Gary Wertish tells Brownfield feedback from their recent ‘Farm Fest’ meetings with farmers identified crop insurance and an adequate safety net as top priorities in the next Farm Bill.

He says that was not a surprise, but the way healthcare dominated discussions was a bit surprising.

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