Interesting news in Ag
June 5 - 9, 2017
USDA Announces More than $22 Million in Conservation Innovation
The agency is investing in 33 projects nationwide through its competitive Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which helps develop the tools, technologies, and strategies to support next-generation conservation efforts on working lands and develop market-based solutions to resource challenges... read more ».
State By State Nutrient Use Strategy
Nutrient reduction is a conversation here to stay. Find out what your state is doing and prepare to help customers adopt the changes coming your way. read more ».
April 17 - 21, 2017
Water quality urgency?
Water quality: Producers may want to take extra steps to ensure it before the state legislature makes laws governing it. read more ».
What practices save nutrients?
Nitrogen stabilizers and spring-only applications won’t achieve nutrient reduction goals. read more ».
Feb 27 - Mar 3, 2017
China wants more
This time, it’s China’s demand for safe, high-quality foods that is exploding.... read more ».
Africa has 60% of non-cultivated lands worldwide (FAO)
Africa is far from exploiting its true agricultural potential. This is what suggests the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicating that the continent has 60% of non-cultivated lands worldwide.... read more ».
Reviving Puerto Rico's Cocoa Farms, Centuries After Hurricanes Destroyed Them
The dream of reviving Puerto Rico's chocolate tradition took root in Juan Carlos Vizcarrondo's mind years ago. He's always been obsessed with flowers and trees. As a boy, he planted so much greenery in his mother's backyard, there was hardly room to walk.... read more ».
Ireland’s Food Industry Wants to Woo the Mideast Before Brexit
Ireland’s $21 billion food and beverage industry is turning to the Middle East for sales as the U.K., its biggest buyer, prepares to move ahead with Brexit and leave the European Union.... read more ».
Agribusiness in Africa: Unlocking the business potential of smallholders
Agribusiness and agriculture are primed to be the catalysts of Africa’s economic transformation and development in the coming years. According to the World Bank, they are both expected to form a USD $1 trillion industry by 2030 in Sub-Saharan Africa whilst representing 45 percent of the continent’s GDP... read more ».
Monsanto: Acquisition By Bayer A Done Deal? Not So Fast.
Investors are more confident that Bayer's announced acquisition of Monsanto will close given a Republican president and Congress with an anti-regulatory attitude. Investors retain some skepticism, however, that the deal will close as shares trade over 10 percent below the $128 a share announced acquisition price.... read more ».
Downturn in Farm Economy Complicating new Farm Bill Efforts
As the elder statesman from an agricultural state, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has worked on crafting seven farm bills. But it is with some trepidation that the work begins to draft new legislation amid daunting challenges confronting farmers in the era of President Donald Trump... read more ».
Feb 6-10, 2017
Can China Solve Central Asia’s Impending Water Crisis?
China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative has become a major foreign policy priority. The land-based Silk Road Economic Belt aims to expand China’s economic connections and political influence across much of Eurasia through vast infrastructure and investment schemes, potentially involving over 40 countries. But reviving the ancient Silk Road will not be easy. Water conflicts, as elsewhere, are top on the list of potential challenges... read more ».
Soybean futures 'may fall sharply' if China-US trade war kicks off
Chicago soybean futures may "fall sharply" if the US enters a trade war with China – but prices in Latin America would benefit, Societe Generale said, terming the risk of a levy battle a "major concern"... read more ».
Jan 16-20, 2017
India Is Not the New China, at Least Not Yet
India has the second largest population in the world, about 18% of all people one the planet. The main reason many people compare India and China is that they are the two most populated countries in the world. Recently, the Indian economy has begun growing faster while China’s fierce growth has begun to wane. While often compared, the two countries have some significant differences. read more ».
For Africa's farmers it's government, not big business, that is key
Agricultural productivity in Africa is rising, but still lags behind much of the world. Would a greater role for multinationals in the continent’s farming sector help or hinder progress? read more ».
Estimated 30 per cent of food produced is lost or wasted, conference told
Speaking during the launch of the 1st All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition on Tuesday, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said food wastage was a serious global issue, but more pronounced in Africa, and especially sub-Saharan Africa. He said an efficient, productive food system with minimal loss is needed. read more ».
Global markets for U.S. agriculture expected to perform well
Exploring the 2016 balance of foreign trade we expect U.S. agricultural exports to be near $133 billion when the final tally is taken. read more ».
Organic Beverages Market to Grow at 15% Till 2021: TechSci Research Report
Growing concerns for environment and health, deteriorating food quality and associated benefits of organic products to drive global organic beverages market through 2021. read more ».
Jan 9-13, 2017
Research finds microbial traits, not plants, determine abundance of soil organic matter
Healthy soil is rich in organic matter, but scientists have yet to fully understand exactly how that organic matter is formed. Now a team of University of New Hampshire scientists have uncovered evidence that microbial pathways – not plants – are the chief originator of the organic matter found in stable soil carbon pools. read more ».
Technology Quarterly: The future of agriculture
If agriculture is to continue to feed the world, it needs to become more like manufacturing, says Geoffrey Carr. Fortunately, that is already beginning to happen... read more ».
Jan 2-6, 2017
As Australia Becomes Bigger Cheese in China Trade, U.S. Loses Ground
Australian cheese exports to China have grown, thanks largely to a deal between the two countries, at the expense of U.S. cheese makers read more ».
Dec 19-23, 2016
UNH Research: Microbial Traits, not Plants, Determine Abundance of Soil Organic Matter
Healthy soil is rich in organic matter, but scientists have yet to fully understand exactly how that organic matter is formed. Now a team of University of New Hampshire scientists have uncovered evidence that microbial pathways – not plants – are the chief originator of the organic matter found in stable soil carbon pools. read more ».
Will microbes save agriculture?
David Perry believes that he can repackage beneficial bacteria and fungi as something akin to human probiotics and deliver them to plants to alter their microbiome in ways that will boost growth, increase resistance to drought, disease and pests, and reduce farmers’ reliance on fertilizers and pesticides. read more ».
Oct 24-28, 2016
State letter to farmers demands water to fix nitrate problem
A state water agency has told some farmers in Tulare County that their operations caused nitrates to get into drinking water, and that the contamination must be replaced with a clean source. If the farmers don’t do it voluntarily, the state will order them to do so, the enforcement division of the State Water Resources Control Board says in a confidential letter obtained by The Bee. read more ».
Oct 3-7, 2016
EU resumes probe into DuPont, Dow mega deal, to rule by February 6
EU antitrust regulators have resumed their investigation into the $130 billion merger of U.S. chemicals giants Dow Chemical (DOW.N) and DuPont (DD.N) after the companies provided key data. The European Commission, which halted its scrutiny in early September, will now decide by Feb. 6 whether to approve the deal. Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso confirmed in an email that the companies had submitted important information requested by the EU competition enforcer. read more ».
As Bayer-Monsanto deal materializes, West Michigan farmers brace for consolidation
…While the deal still requires approval from various regulatory bodies across the globe, West Michigan farmers have expressed concern that it will ultimately lead to less choice in the marketplace and higher operational costs. Moreover, Bayer’s bid for Monsanto has also sparked criticism and questions over a wider trend of industry consolidation that includes deals between a number of agriculture’s largest conglomerates. read more ».
Tanzania: Coffee and Flower Growers Turn to Organic Farming
Moshi — Coffee and flower growers seem to be ready to embrace organic farming and give up conventional agricultural practices that use synthetic pesticides and watersoluble synthetically purified fertilizers. This comes after decades of conventional agriculture that has seen coffee production, the typical cash crop in Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions drop in quality as well as quantity. read more ».
THIS WEEK: VILSACK CHATS BIOFUELS; THE FIGHT FOR THE WHITE HOUSE ... GARDEN:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this afternoon will discuss USDA's investments in biobased products from plants and waste during a luncheon at the National Press Club touting the department's promotion of advanced biofuels. Vilsack also will release new data on the industry's impact on the U.S. economy, such as revenue and the number of jobs it has created. The increasing use of biobased products displaces about 300 million gallons worth of petroleum each year, or the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from the road, according to USDA. The department has helped 21 states build thousands of pumps in rural areas to drive demand for renewable fuels made from agricultural commodities, such as ethanol. read more ».
Sounding the Alarm on Southern Africa’s Food Crisis
On Tuesday, the Center for Strategic & International Studies' Global Food Security Project is set to release a new report examining the food crisis in Southern Africa. The report is based on research conducted in Malawi and Mozambique during what has been one of the worst droughts in decades. The crisis, which has left 40 million people food-insecure this year, has prompted the World Food Programme to scale up operations in the region, in a bid to reach 13 million of that population by January. During a panel discussion at CSIS headquarters in Washington, D.C., experts from USAID, Refugees International and the WFP will assess the humanitarian response and ways to prepare communities for future climate-related food shocks. read more ».
U.S. FRUIT GROWERS COMPETE FOR MARKET SHARE IN CHINA
China's demand for fruit has grown rapidly over the last decade as consumers have more disposable income and seek a diverse and nutritious diet. U.S. exports to the country grew more than threefold, to 3.8 million metric tons, in 2015, representing nearly 7 percent of total market share by value, according to a report published Friday by the USDA Economic Research Service. While the U.S. continues to be a major supplier of fruit like bananas, grapes, navel oranges and Red Delicious apples to China, it faces increasing competition from both Chinese growers and Southeast Asian neighbors Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Combined, those three countries supply more than half of China's fresh fruits each year. Still, the outlook for U.S. fruit sales to China are good, researchers said. As the country carries out a five-year plan (2016-2020) to move more people from rural areas to cities and modernize its agriculture industry, consumers are expected to have increasing purchasing power
Sept 5-9, 2016
BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION INTRODUCED TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO VOLUNTARY FARM CONSERVATION PROGRAMS
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides cost-share assistance to farmers to improve conservation practices on their farms; However, annual federal reporting regulations required under NRCS programs have been burdensome on many small, mid-sized, beginning, and historically underserved farmers read more ».
Bayer sweetens Monsanto bid as talks enter final stretch
By Ludwig Burger, Arno Schuetze and Greg Roumeliotis | FRANKFURT/NEW YORK German pharmaceutical and crop chemicals manufacturer Bayer AG says talks with Monsanto Co have advanced and it is now willing to offer more than $65 billion, a 2 percent increase on its previous offer for the world's largest seeds company. "Both sides are gradually nearing consensus," one person familiar with the matter said. read more ».
Russia earns more from agriculture than arms sales
…Grain production rose over the last six years and in 2015 Russia unseated the US as the world’s biggest wheat producer and exporter. According to the Russian Ministry of Agriculture this year’s harvest will be at least 110 million metric tons. At the moment, Russia exports 22.5 million metric tons of grain and this is expected to increase by 4.5 million tons for 2016/17. read more ».
Aug 29-Sept 2, 2016
THE CHALLENGE OF WATER INSECURITY
The impending water crisis is already evident in various parts of the country. This, combined with effects of climate change can worsen the quality of life. The time is ripe for the Government to bring radical changes in its water policies. Water insecurity is fast emerging as a daunting challenge with some 1.1 billion people having inadequate access to clean water in the Asia Pacific region alone. India especially is exceedingly being left high and dry, literally. In northern India, groundwater supplies are being depleted faster than natural processes and good monsoons can replenish them. read more ».
How agriculture can be intensified in Africa without causing harm
Tawanda Marandure, Stellenbosch Universityand Kennedy Dzama, Stellenbosch University Sustainable agriculture is a popular concept. It’s warmly embraced as a guiding light for the future of food production. But there is still a great deal of disagreement about what the concept actually means and entails. There is broad agreement about what sustainable agriculture’s main aim should be. It ought to optimise locally available natural resources without negatively affecting the resource base. Social integrity is also a priority. For example, the welfare of animals and labourers should be taken care of. read more ».
August 22-26, 2016
US Lawmakers Plan Hearing Over Wave of Agriculture Mergers
U.S. lawmakers say they plan to hold a hearing to examine a wave of mergers that could reshape the $100 billion global market for seeds and pesticides. Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said multibillion-dollar deals between some of the agriculture sector’s biggest players could reduce competition and lead to higher prices for farmers at a time when farm income is projected to hit its lowest level in more than a decade. read more ».
USDA SAYS CHEESE:
The USDA on Tuesday said it plans to purchase $20 million in cheese products and distribute them to federal nutrition programs and food banks, a strategy designed to raise milk prices, which are at their lowest levels since 2009 amid a global glut that has dairy producers reeling. The scenario has sent U.S. cheese stocks soaring to their highest levels in 30 years, the USDA says.
The department's plan falls short of a request made by the National Milk Producers Federation earlier this month for USDA to purchase up to $150 million in cheese products - a remedy that would have removed an estimated 900 million pounds of milk from the U.S. market and increased farm-level prices by about $0.16 per hundredweight (100 pounds).
But NMPF President Jim Mulhern expressed only appreciation for USDA's decision and said the group will continue to assess the economic situation facing dairy farmers and work with the department and Congress to improve a new insurance program enacted in the 2014 farm bill. The Margin Protection Program - which makes payments to a producer when the difference between the price of milk and feed costs fall below a certain level selected by that producer - has not effectively managed producers' risk so far, says industry groups like NMPF, National Farmers Union and American Farm Bureau Federation.
Sri Lanka to rehabilitate degraded agricultural lands in central highlands under five-year US$ 11 million project
Aug 23, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government will implement a five-year project to reverse and arrest land degradation in agricultural lands in Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Badulla districts in the central highlands at a cost of over US$ 11 million. The land degradation caused by various reasons including soil erosion has become a severe environmental issue in Sri Lanka. About 50 percent of lands in central highlands have degraded and most of them are in Kandy, Badulla and Nuwara Eliya Districts. read more ».
China’s Agriculture Reforms to Address Food Crisis Despite Lack of Arable Land
China is set to undertake reforms in its agriculture industry to address the growing food security crisis, which is seen as the biggest change since the Great Leap Forward. The changes are being planned as China is faced with problems on how to feed the nation of 1.3 billion, almost a fifth of the world population with only 7 percent of arable land. read more ».
August 15-19, 2016
Africa can feed the world, if it overcomes its hurdles
Africa is believed to account for about 15 to 25 percent of population increase. For solutions, it rests exclusively on the shoulders of its citizens. One big suspicion is that African farmers can be a handy lot in this. And even get other parts of the world out of a deepening hole. read more ».
California farm communities pay price for decades of fertilizer use
The State Water Resources Control Board, meanwhile, is considering new rules for agricultural discharges in the San Joaquin River watershed. A proposal to update the state’s irrigated lands regulatory program is moving forward with provisions for stepped-up monitoring and reporting requirements for farmers… Some environmental groups demanded a more rigorous rule, with more penalties for farms with discharge violations. Others asked the board to refine recommendations for fertilizer management, giving farmers goals to hit in reducing nitrate pollution. read more ».
August 8-12, 2016
MEET THE CALIFORNIA COUPLE WHO USES MORE WATER THAN EVERY HOME IN LOS ANGELES COMBINED
The Resnicks are the world's biggest producers of pistachios and almonds, and they also hold vast groves of lemons, grapefruit, and navel oranges. All told, they claim to own America's second-largest produce company, worth an estimated $4.2 billion. The Resnicks have amassed this empire by following a simple agricultural precept: Crops need water. Having shrewdly maneuvered the backroom politics of California's byzantine water rules, they are now thought to consume more of the state's water than any other family, farm, or company. read more ».
USDA IS BURMA-BOUND
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service is opening a new office at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma. FAS says the office represents its 94th at U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions around the world, covering 171 countries. It describes Burma as a "small, but growing market for U.S. food and agricultural products," accounting for $15.3 million in sales in fiscal 2014, an increase of 24 percent over the previous year. It is not one of the 12 nations involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. Last month USDA swore in 10 new foreign service officers, assigning staff to China, Colombia, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Peru, South Korea, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
‘Agriculture holds key to Africa’s economy’
… that African with wide arable land can be utilised maximally to provide food for the people of the continent, adding that agriculture holds a future for the people if all the available potentials are harnessed. According to him, over two billion people are hungry in the world and Africa is located at a strategic place to provide food in excess in order to feed its citizen and export to other parts of the world so as to boost their economy. more ».
WALMART GIVES $1M TO HELP RICE FARMERS WITH CONSERVATION
The Walmart Foundation, the retail giant's charitable arm, on Friday gave a $1 million grant to Ducks Unlimited to support its partnership with the USA Rice Federation, which is focused on conserving soil, water and wildlife in wetlands. The grant will mainly be used for technical assistance to train farm owners, operators and workers in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley and along the Gulf Coast in conservation practices.
The USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Stewardship Partnership was established in 2013 and secured a $10 million grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service the following year. But only 10 percent of that grant is dedicated to advising interested farmers, so the donation from the Walmart Foundation will complement those efforts, Scott Manley, Ducks Unlimited's director of conservation innovation, said in a statement . The majority of the NRCS funding goes to helping farmers with the cost of implementing conservation practices that, for example, prevent erosion or create a more efficient irrigation system, a Ducks Unlimited spokeswoman said.
Chile targets China as main destination for food exports
Chile hopes China will soon become the No. 1 destination for its food exports, Chilean Agriculture Minister Carlos Furche said Friday…"What is going to happen is that, in the next decade, China will become the first destination for Chilean food exports, a position that the United States currently occupies," said Furche. more ».
August 1-5, 2016
LAWMAKERS CALL FOR DAIRY INDUSTRY RESCUE
Less than two months after the USDA spent $300 million to help the struggling cotton industry, another sector is in need of some relief. A bipartisan group of more than 60 lawmakers is asking the USDA to provide emergency financial assistance to the dairy industry amid depressed market prices, which are mainly the result of oversupply in the U.S., the European Union and countries in other parts of the world. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack should use his authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation and look to past precedent to decide what action to take, according to the Thursday letter from the Hill contingent, which includes the likes of Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Chris Collins (R-N.Y.). They noted producers are still adjusting to the new margin insurance program in the 2014 farm bill - and industry officials have separately said it hasn't provided enough protection during the glut.
"We encourage USDA to take any and all actions available in order to make an immediate market injection and offer financial assistance that will directly support U.S. dairy farmers equally, while being cautious to not stimulate overproduction further," the lawmakers wrote.
In the past, the USDA has addressed economic setbacks in the dairy industry by purchasing surpluses, for example; but the secretary has multiple options to review before deciding what approach will have the best results for producers, said Leahy spokesman David Carle. A USDA spokesperson said in an email the department is focused on implementing the available safety net enacted in the 2014 farm bill, and "will do everything we can within our authorities to make sure our dairy producers have a strong, effective safety net, in addition to expanded market opportunities domestically and abroad."
Europe has its own dairy woes. Earlier this month, the European Commission announced it was infusing 500 million euros into its dairy sector due to tanking prices. The commission for more than a year has tried to solve the crisis, which was triggered by events like the end of milk quotas last year and the Russian ban on EU food imports. The shift away from production quotas was supposed to allow farmers to be more market-oriented and grow their business, but instead has lead to overproduction.
U.N. warns of 'race against time' for 23 million drought-stricken African farmers
Failure to help 23 million farmers in drought-stricken Southern Africa with seeds, fertilizer and other inputs will leave rural families there dependent on development assistance, Reuters reports ».
Venezuela calls for mandatory labor in farm sector
Venezuela calls for forced farm labor to reboot food and agriculture production in the troubled nation, CNBC reports ».
Fonterra Maintains Milk Price Forecast Despite Kiwi Strength
An estimated 80 percent of New Zealand's dairy farmers are operating at a loss in the face of a milk glut, Bloomberg reports ».
July 25-29, 2016
Groups Oppose ChemChina Syngenta Merger
Food and Water Watch and the National Farmers Union are asking the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to block the proposed ChemChina Syngenta merger. Food and Water Watch Senior Policy Advocate and Research Director Patrick Woodall says the merger needs to be stopped due to security and competition concerns. Read more »
Africa’s Top Cotton Grower Looks to Bayer After Monsanto Ban
Burkina Faso has asked Bayer CropScience to help produce genetically modified cotton even as the government decided to stop planting a variety introduced by Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company.
….Burkina Faso said in April it was completely phasing out Monsanto’s cotton because the length of the fiber degraded, which hurt revenue for three consecutive seasons. But if Monsanto can restore the quality of the crop, the government will tell farmers to resume planting genetically modified cotton, said Yameogo, who was appointed the same month. Read more »
Dow Chemical’s CEO Is ‘Pretty Confident’ the DuPont Deal Will Happen
Andrew Liveris explains the future of Dow DuPont.
It’s countdown time at Dow Chemical. The giant chemical company reported one of its last quarterly reports today as an independent company. It earned 95 cents a share in the second quarter, 10 cents better than analyst estimates. The strong earnings came amid deep cost cuts as Dow moves closer toward its $130 billion merger with DuPont—a historic combination of two of America’s oldest industrial corporations. Read more »
'Riding that wave' of agriculture in Canandaigua
CANANDAIGUA — A panel that included a dairy nutrition expert, large crop producer, food distributor, chef, and a number of others in the agriculture field shared the ups and down facing the industry at Thursday’s Agricultural Economic Development Forum.
Agriculture is big business in Ontario County, and the town of Canandaigua — which hosted the forum — brought the panel together as part of its developing the Canandaigua Agricultural Enhancement Plan. “Our number-one goal is the protection and promotion of agriculture,” said Canandaigua Director of Development Doug Finch, who led off the event along with Town Supervisor Pam Helming. “We want to be a shining model for agriculture in the state of New York.” Read more »
July 18-22, 2016
Arizona wins Colorado River promise from Interior
By Annie Snider for "POLITICO"
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake has won a promise from the Interior Department blocking drought-stricken California from tapping extra water being stored in Lake Mead this year unless its gets approval from its neighbors. Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor told Flake in a lette r yesterday the department will not "unilaterally" release extra water stored in the reservoir - a guarantee long sought by Arizona, which is wary of the water demand from California. Drought legislation from Flake that was passed out of committee this month, S. 2902, would codify the approach.
With Lake Mead precariously close to a water shortage declaration, the three Lower Basin states and Interior have developed plans to voluntary store more water in the river. But Arizona fears that extra water could just end up being tapped by California. Under the current management regime, Arizona and Nevada take steep cuts when levels in the reservoir dip low, while California can keep slurping unabated for much longer.
Connor's letter says he hopes the commitment will enable the states to reach a broader water management agreement, especially since the extended drought and rising populations will likely make low water levels the norm. And he reiterated a warning: if the states don't agree on a plan soon, the federal government will step in. "Should the States fail to come to consensus, it appears clear that additional actions, including potentially by the Secretary of the Interior, will be required to protect the Basin from the adverse consequences of worsening drought and declining reservoir storage," he wrote.
July 11-15, 2016
Bad weather and low prices slash milk supply in South America
Milk production for the first half of this year is down by 12.5% in Uruguay, 11.9% in Argentina and 4.5% in Brazil because of low prices and cold wet weather, according to Monica Ganley of Quarterra Consulting and Advisory in Buenos Aires…While dairy farmers in South America are anxious to increase revenues by bringing additional volume back online as quickly as possible, she points out that several persisting factors will limit expansion, including low quality pasture and more expensive grains. here »
WOTUS — CHALLENGERS SAY EPA MISSED THE MEMO:
The states and industry groups challenging EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule say EPA must provide the court with additional documents, including Federal Register notices, some blog posts — and, oh yeah, several Army Corps memos released by congressional Republicans that criticize EPA’s work on WOTUS, also known as the Clean Water Rule.
‘GOOD FOOD’ CAMPAIGN TAPS LEADERS TO HIT BATTLEGROUND STATES:
Plate of the Union, a campaign organized by Food Policy Action, Union of Concerned Scientists and HEAL Food Alliance, to make issues facing the U.S. food system a prominent topic during the presidential race, has named 14 national advisory board members, who will play a key role in battleground states this election. They include celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio and José Andrés; Stonyfield Farm Chairman Gary Hirshberg; Founder and President of the National Black Farmers Association John Boyd; and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).
The campaign is calling on the next president to create a food system that “rewards farmers and farming practices that protect our environment, provides dignity and fair wages to workers, and ensures that all Americans have access to healthy food.” Plate of the Union will be at both the Democratic and Republican Party Conventions, as well as on the campaign trail. See the full list of board members here »
Special Report: The war on big food
An analysis by Moskow found that the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies have lost an equivalent of $18 billion in market share since 2009. “I would think of them like melting icebergs,” he says. “Every year they become a little less relevant.” read more »
July 4-8, 2016
HOUSE SENDS GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY BILL TO OBAMA’S DES
Wait, what? Both sides of the aisle are actually agreeing on something? As expected, the House on Wednesday voted 369-53 to pass the Global Food Security Act, the final congressional hurdle to cementing President Barack Obama's signature agricultural development initiative into law.
Advocates estimate that the legislation will help nearly 800 million chronically malnourished people, including more than 150 million children. The bill also aims to improve maternal and child nutrition from pregnancy to early childhood, and has a significant focus on agricultural development overseas.
Anti-hunger and religious groups cheered the news Wednesday. USAID Administrator Gayle Smith called it “a historic step toward ending global hunger and malnutrition,” that helps send the global community “a clear message that the United States is committed to empowering smallholder farmers and strengthening communities and economies through agricultural development.” More on the bill from the White House »
WHAT KEEPS CALI RICE GROWERS UP AT NIGHT
Water availability, the markets and environmental regulations were the top three concerns of California rice farmers heading into 2016, a University of California-Davis survey found. Researchers heard from 300 rice farmers, a number representing about 12 percent of rice farmers in the state who produce 24 percent of California’s rice production. “While both nominal and deflated prices for rice have been relatively high recently, as compared to the last several decades, deflated prices are not high relative to pre-1981 levels; and the relatively low prices that persisted from 1981 into the early 2000s are fresh in the minds of growers,” the researchers explained.
The study also noted a political twist. Those who cited environmental regulations as one of their top-three challenges “had significantly more years of experience growing rice and and were significantly more likely to cite ‘Republican’ as their party preference.” Read the survey »
Feed the Future on House floor
The House is set to take up the Global Food Security Act today, the final congressional hurdle to cementing into law President Barack Obama’s $1-billion-a-year agricultural development initiative, Feed the Future. The legislation (S. 1252) will come to the floor under suspension of House rules, a move that requires a supermajority of support, and follows approval of the Senate-passed version out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May. The bill also would authorize the Emergency Food Security Program, which Senate leaders have called a step toward overhauling international food aid because it’s more flexible than traditional programs, mainly because it allows cash vouchers and food to be sourced regionally. But it took months of negotiations with the House Agriculture Committee to secure a “rule of construction” in the measure to ensure it won't impact food aid programs authorized by the Farm Bill, such as Food for Peace, which sends U.S. commodities on U.S. ships to countries in crisis. Read more about those negotiations here »
Toxic Algae Blooms Infesting Florida Beaches Are Putting a Damper on 4th of July Celebrations
What officials have called "unprecedented" toxic algae blooms in some of southern Florida's beaches and waterways is creating a messy 4th of July holiday for those in the area.Thousands of residents and tourists have had to cancel plans to celebrate on the area's usually packed beaches -- keeping the majority of celebrations inland. Read more »
June 27-30, 2016
EPA SEEKS EXTENSION OF CHLORPYRIFOS DECISION:
The EPA has asked a panel of federal judges to give the agency six more months to issue a final decision on whether to revoke the tolerances for chlorpyrifos on agricultural products, a move that could effectively ban the chemical for farm use. In a status report Wednesday, the agency says it needs more time than the current Dec. 30, 2016 court-set deadline to complete assessments of drinking-water exposures and risks to children.
“If EPA is not afforded additional time, it would likely have to take final action on the administrative petition (i.e., a final rule or denial) without seeking public comment on any additional data considered or analyses conducted after the Proposed Rule was published for comment in November 2015,” the agency says in its brief. What’s more, it adds: “Six months represents a modest extension that ensures that EPA has the time necessary for addressing both the public process and extremely complex science associated with this action while holding EPA to an expeditious time-frame for completing an action that relates to the protection of public health.”
EU EXTENDS GLYPHOSATE FOR 18 MONTHS:
The European Commission may have granted temporary EU marketing approval Tuesday for the controversial weedkiller glyphosate, but it has made it very clear that it is not happy it’s absorbing the political hit for countries that do not want to take the blame for the move. The 18-month extension would be timed for the expected final report card from the European Chemicals Agency on whether the weedkiller can cause cancer. Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis announced the move at the farm ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg Tuesday, two days before the deadline. After chastising member countries for hiding behind the Commission on a delicate issue, it went ahead and cleared the renewal anyway.
“I am once again surprised about the positions [of] some member states not to hear our proposals,” Andriukaitis said. “But of course the Commission will follow our legal obligation; we know very well that we have the deadline of the 30th of June and we will adopt an extension of glyphosate [for] 18 months.” Read more »
Target is doling out $40 million in grants
ocused on promoting healthy eating and exercise, to groups ranging from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to Wholesome Wave. Read more »
Explosive cattle prices could be coming
The cattle market has been on a bit of a teeter-totter cycle the past six months or so, with price going up and down. This sideways trade could lead to some explosive price movement down the road, says Naomi Blohm, a senior market advisor with Stewart-Peterson Inc. Read more »
Time’s up! Vermont GMO labeling law takes effect
VT GMO LABELING LAW IS LIVE: Well, it’s happened. Despite lawsuits and intense lobbying in Washington, Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law takes effect Friday. While enforcement won’t start until next year — if the measure is still standing by then…… But hanging over the festivities is the upcoming cloture vote Wednesday in the Senate on the compromise bill brokered by Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, which would preempt the state law. Vermont lawmakers are expected to push back against the measure, but momentum seems to be behind the bill. In a test vote late Wednesday, senators backed moving ahead with the measure, 68-29. The full vote count is here »
AG LEADERS MEET WITH CLINTON STAFF, REACH OUT TO TRUMP
The CEOs of about a dozen trade groups have banded together to engage the presidential candidates more directly on food and ag issues, which have largely been absent from debate this election cycle. Last week, leaders met with top Hillary Clinton staffers in Brooklyn, and they hope for a sit-down with Donald Trump’s campaign soon.
“It was a great opportunity for agriculture to put forward some concepts and needs for future policy,” said attendee Barbara Glenn, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. “The purpose was really to have a dialogue.”
The meeting with Clinton staff, first reported by Agri-Pulse, included representatives from a dozen agriculture groups, including Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation; Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America; and representatives of the American Soybean Association, the National Farmers Union and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. The industry bigs met for more than an hour with a handful of top Clinton policy and communications staff, including Matt Paul, a former adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
June 20-24, 2016
Cuban organic imports on a ‘long road’
This is a short list of hot topics in ag I found on Politico…good stuff
Importers are salivating over Cuba's untapped organic market, given the trouble the U.S. has keeping up with its growing demand for organic products. If most of Cuba’s 400,000 farms gained organic certification, shipments to the U.S. would likely surge. Read more »
June 13-17, 2016
CHINESE SORGHUM BUYERS TO VISIT KANSAS, TEXAS, LOUISIANA
LUBBOCK, Texas – A team of leading Chinese sorghum importers and feed millers will visit the U.S. June 20-July 1, 2016, to tour major sorghum growing areas as well as continue to strengthen well-established relationships with U.S. suppliers. Read more »
China proving to be Africa’s best friend
It is clear that the forum helped bring China and Africa together to enhance exchanges, deepen cooperation and jointly create a better future. What is also of note in this regard is that there is a China-Africa industrial capacity cooperation fund in place, which is aimed at aiding Africa’s development and production capacity building. The fund, with an initial capital of $10 billion, will help capacitate African countries in sectors such as manufacturing, hi-tech, agriculture, energy, infrastructure construction and finance. Read more »
Supreme Court Unanimously Approves Pre-enforcement Review of Clean Water Act “Jurisdictional Findings”
The U.S. Supreme Court in a narrow, unanimous ruling approved pre-enforcement review of Clean Water Act (CWA) findings by EPA and the Corps of Engineers on whether particular waters are subject to permit limits and other CWA protections, but the decision relies in part on an agreement between agencies on how to conduct jurisdictional determinations that the White House has already signaled it may review...Now the Supreme Court should go one step further and strike down the entire Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule before more Americans are strangled by this unprecedented Washington water grab. Read more »
Only Anti-GMO Hippies Grow Organic Corn, Right? Wrong.
Hippies and anti-GMO zealots grow organic crops. Right? Wrong. Timothy Gertson kicks up dirt off Texas’ Gulf Coast, southwest of Houston in Wharton County. He’s a young 31, but Gertson is an old-school farmer with no time for ideology and no wish to curb his options. Field decisions across his 2,000 acres at G5 Farms are dictated by dollars, and in 2016, he’s found a profit window in organic corn Read more »
June 6-10, 2016
Wet weather causes nitrogen availability concerns
Recent and continuing rains across parts of the Corn Belt have farmers wondering how much nitrogen is available in their cornfields. Is a supplemental application necessary at this point? Experts at the University of Minnesota and University of Nebraska-Lincoln offer insight into nitrogen concerns. As the calendar has now turned to June, it's likely that anywhere from half to all of the applied nitrogen, regardless of the fertilizer form or application timing, is in the nitrate form. Nitrate will "denitrify" when the soil is saturated. Read more »
Hello India, Africa's $1 trillion agriculture sector seeks suitors
ACCRA: Here's a heaven-sent opportunity for Indian investors: Africa's $1 trillion agriculture sector is seeking suitors and a report has already been drawn up on how India can benefit. "The agricultural sector is regarded as one of the most critical industries for the African continent due to economic potential and is projected to become a $1 trillion industry in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by 2030," a Price Waterhouse Coopers ( PwC ) report said. Read more »
Agriculture development a top priority
Addressing the post budget press conference here on Saturday, Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar said that this sector provides direct employment to 45 percent of the labor force and contributes 21 percent in the GDP. He said that provision of relief to agriculture sector was the top most priority of the government, so in the budget 206-17, the prices of Urea fertilizers have been reduced by Rs.400 per bag from Rs.1800 to Rs.1400 while the prices of DAP has also been cut from 2800 to 2500, providing Rs 300 per bag relief to farmers. Read more »
New agriculture minister to focus on small farms-Ukraine
Taras Kutoviy, Ukraine’s new agriculture minister, says he will be a champion for small farmers in a country where big agroholdings dominate. By contrast, predecessor Oleksiy Pavlenko devoted much of his time to promoting larger agribusinesses. “Saying every year: ‘We are the champions, we have 50-60 million tons of grain, we exported 35 million’ – yes, this is very good, but it’s not the only way,” Kutoviy told the Kyiv Post in a May 14 interview. Read more »
China G20 Agriculture Ministers Communique
The G20 Agriculture Ministers met in Xi’an on June 3 to discuss the ways in which the members can promote food security, nutrition, sustainable agricultural growth and rural development worldwide. In the communique, the ministers noted an increased commitment to the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). In particular, they noted that agriculture and rural development are critical for global food security and poverty alleviation and that coordination across political boundaries will be needed to meet the complex challenges including climate change. Read more »
TTIP negotiations: Tensions are boiling due to agriculture
Tensions between the European Union (EU) and United States (US) over the lack of progress in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement came to a boiling point recently with each side blaming each other over the stalemate in concluding the transatlantic trade deal before President Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017. The heated communication between the US Ambassador to the EU (Anthony Gardner) and the European Commission (Phil Hogan) was leaked by the POLITICO news service. Read more »
May 30 - June 3
USDA TO CONDUCT MAJOR JUNE AGRICULTURAL SURVEY
During the next several weeks, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its major mid-year survey, the June Agricultural Survey. The agency will survey nearly 4,800 operators across Nebraska to determine crop production and supplies levels in 2016. Read more »
USDA FUNDS FOR FARM LOANS ARE RUNNING OUT
Most farmers are familiar with their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office as the place where they sign up for commodity programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage and as the agency that makes payments under the CRP….FSA will cover up to 95% of potential losses from such loans. If a bank just can’t continue financing, farmers can apply for direct loans made by FSA. Both programs for operating costs are so popular this year that USDA officials and farm and lending groups expect FSA to run out of money for them long before the federal fiscal year ends on September 30. Read more »
Agriculture key to transform world's Least Developed Countries
(this is a short audio worth listening to)
Agriculture is the "backbone" that will lift the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs) out of that category, according to a senior official from a UN agency that is working to eradicate rural poverty. Ashwani Muthoo is in Antalya, Turkey, where he is attending a conference to review progress in these 48 nations over the past five years. Read more »
More Farmland Cash Rent Declines Ahead? Look to the Profits
Cash rent is often the single largest expense item in a crop budget, making its level critical to the profitability of farming operations. During the farm sector’s economic slowdown, rents have been persistently high, greatly contributing to the profit squeeze. It now appears that they are heading lower. For instance, Dr. Craig Dobbins reported that a February poll of Indiana farm managers and rural appraisers found expectations that 2016 cash rents would be down about 8% in 2016. Read more »
May 23-27, 2016
SPONSORED: LESS IS MORE: GROWING MORE CORN WITH LESS N
(my note: conventional publication article focusing on reducing Nitrogen)
The saying, “you can’t save your way to prosperity,” may be true in many instances, but is it possible to save money by spending less on nitrogen while increasing revenue through higher yields? Read more »
Bullish and bearish debates around soybean price
Soybean bears were happy to see yesterday's break in price, but we are still trading close to 15¢ above the $10.63 open posted on Monday. The bulls continue to talk about complications in Argentina and a crop in Brazil that appears to be getting a bit smaller. The bulls also continue to talk about good U.S. demand and the very real possibility that Brazil could run out of export supply sooner than many had forecast. Read more »
What's the cost of uncontrolled weeds?
What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from their weed management toolbox? A team of experts with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) found that in the U.S. and Canada, about half of both crops would be lost to uncontrolled weeds, costing growers about $43 billion annually. Read more »
Bayer-Monsanto deal could turn up heat on Dow/DuPont
This one is a must read
If the Monsanto deal comes to fruition, it would be the third major consolidation in the agriculture market in the past six months. In addition to the Dow-DuPont merger, ChemChina, an agriculture company owned by the Chinese government, will pay $43 billion for Swiss pesticide and seed giant Syngenta. Read more »
Organic industry sales grew by nearly 11%
The organic industry added $4.2 billion in sales in 2015, growing total product sales to $43.3 billion, and reported growth of 10.8%, according to the 2016 Organic Industry Surveyreleased May 19. Read more »
Rajasthan seeks Israeli tech to strengthen agriculture sector
Rajasthan has sought Israeli technology to increase crop yield, strengthen dairy sector, help water management, learn grafting techniques and increase shelf life of fruits and vegetables with the purpose of doubling its farmer's income in the state. Read more »
USDA announces ag research funds through NIFA
SALEM, Ohio — The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced the availability of$130 million to fund research, education and Extension projects related to key sectors of agricultural production and sustainability…Later in the week, NIFA also announced funding to help solve critical water problems ($10.7 million), develop bioenergy systems ($21 million), and childhood obesity prevention ($7 million). Read more »
Agriculture without a water policy
Never have Malta’s groundwater resources been in such a precarious state. Ground water is being severely over-exploited.” This grim state of affairs was noted two years ago by a member of the Malta Water Association, an organisation which describes itself as a think tank of water and sustainability professionals. Read more »
May 16-20, 2016
Farmers Fear Higher Prices, Fewer Choices from Bayer/Monsanto Deal
The possibility that Bayer could acquire Monsanto—just confirmed Thursday by both companies—is weighing heavily on the minds of U.S. farmers. “Big isn’t always better,” says Paula Karlock, fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer in Momence, Ill. “My concern is about competition and prices—with competition, others keep (prices) in check.” Read more »
AGRICULTURAL ECONOMISTS: SWITCH TO SOYBEAN PLANTING COULD BE FINANCIALLY REWARDING
The reduction in global soybean inventories has sent prices soaring in recent weeks. Purdue Agricultural Economist Chris Hurt stated on May 11 that farmers who have delayed in planting corn could potentially make up for any losses by planting soybeans instead. Read more »
Hawaii May Become The First State To Help Farms Go Organic
Hawaii has become the first U.S. state to approve tax credits for organic farmers, a huge potential boost for the industry.A bill now awaiting Gov. David Ige’s signature would provide farmers up to $50,000 in tax credits to help offset the costs of getting certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Read more »
Exclusive: USDA to join U.S. panel reviewing ChemChina's Syngenta deal - sources
Unveiled in February, the deal is the largest foreign acquisition ever by a Chinese company, as China is looking to secure food supplies for its population….Syngenta, which is headquartered in North Carolina and generates nearly a quarter of its revenue from North America, is the biggest seller of pesticides in North America and also a key player in seeds. Read more »
Why Have Soybean Prices Rallied $2.32 in Six Weeks
“….Gold predicts farmers might switch acres from corn, rice and cotton to soybeans given the price boost that crop has experienced. Already, the corn-to-soybean ratio has risen from 2.2 to nearly 2.8, he says. At the same time, it’s important to examine USDA figures in perspective.” Read more »
Iowa Farmland Cash Rent Declines 6.5% for 2016
My comments (point is high quality cropland rents for more money)
“It also reports the highest average district cash rent for top-quality cropland of $297 an acre.” Read more »
May 9-13, 2016
USDA Pumps $72.3 Million Into 'Climate Smart' Ag
“In the spring of 2015, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that his agency would engage in a “comprehensive set of voluntary programs and initiatives” to reduce greenhouse gases and sequester carbon in American soil. One year later, Vilsack announces that program, titled “Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry,” is receiving a $72.3 million shot in the arm.” Read more »
THE MAIN EVENT FOR IRRIGATION IN AUSTRALASIA
The Federal Government recently commented that water is the most valuable resource in the 21st century and its importance to agriculture, the next major pillar in Australian economic growth and prosperity, could not be clearer. The Government, having recently added a further $12.5 million into irrigation infrastructure upgrades for the Murray-Darling Basin as well as $120 million for projects in Tasmania, has plans for further investment across the nation including North West WA, Darwin, NSW and Victoria. With this, we are delighted to announce that Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources (Commonwealth), will open the conference! Read more »
Your Organic Marijuana Isn’t Really Organic. . .Not Yet
When it comes to buying cannabis, it seems everyone has jumped on the organic bandwagon. But as a recent rejected Colorado proposal for certified organic marijuana made known, there is no such thing as organic marijuana, at least not yet. Read more »
WA Budget marks $70m for agriculture
Do you have connections in Australia? “The Government would also invest $20 million of Royalties for Regions in the WA Open for Business project to help the agriculture and food sectors increase trade and investment activities in the regions. “Our new Brand WA - to be revealed mid-year - would enable us to market our well-established reputation as a producer of clean, premium and safe produce, as demand from our Asian neighbours continues to grow,” the Treasurer said.” Read more »
G-biack: The Center for Growth of Biodiverse Agriculture of Kenya
…..”G-biack offers education and support to small farmers, teaching them techniques of bio intensive agriculture, nutrition and conservation of natural resources. They also have a program focused on women – “the women are much more vulnerable to poverty, for example, if a man becomes infected with HIV often he abandons his home and goes off to the city to die alone leaving behind his wife -who usually is also infected – and his children.” Read more »
Partnership results in UK organic dairy shipment to China
“Organic Valley, the leading imported organic dairy brand in China, recently transferred the production of its UHT milk bound for China from the US to Europe. This follows recent successful accreditation. "In 2013 we became the first European organic producer certified to USDA organic standards," says Richard Hampton, OMSCo’s managing director. "In 2015 we then achieved accreditation to Chinese standards through the Soil Association.” Read more »
What's next for ag biologicals?
Perhaps last month’s Wired article “Good Riddance, Chemicals: Microbes Are Farming’s Hot New Pesticides” said it best, as author Sarah Zhang writes: “Whether pesticides or growth stimulants, carefully-designed, naturally-derived products are the current agricultural darlings, attracting both startups and heavyweights like Monsanto, Bayer, and DuPont by the billions of dollars." Read more »
‘Mistaken’ Release of Glyphosate Report Raises Questions Over EPA’s Ties to Monsanto
“The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is questioning why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted and then suddenly pulled its highly anticipated risk assessment of glyphosate, the main ingredient in weedkillers such as Monsanto’s flagship herbicide Roundup.” Read more »
Why Many Midwestern Farmers Are Pro-TPP
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other countries that's currently being negotiated. Presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle are deriding the TPP, saying it's a bum deal that will hurt the U.S. economy and especially low-wage workers. But if you venture into the Midwest and ask a farmer about the TPP, you're likely to get a different answer. Read more »
U.S. traders reject GMO crops that lack global approval
Across the U.S. Farm Belt, top grain handlers have banned genetically modified crops that are not approved in all major overseas markets, shaking up a decades-old system that used the world's biggest exporting country as a launchpad for new seeds from companies like Monsanto Co. Read more »
Record growth in US organic farming
The latest USDA figures show another significant increase in the number of certified organic operations in the US, which now stands at 21,781, continuing the sector's recent trend of double digit growth. Read more »
Will planting pace keep a lid on corn prices?
Corn traders continue to monitor South American weather, Chinese policy, Brazilian politics and the pace of U.S. planting. Really nothing has changed much in the past 24 hours. Read more »
May 2-6, 2016
3 BIG THINGS TODAY, MAY 3
1. SOYBEANS JUMP TO 15-MONTH HIGH AS ARGENTINA RAIN HURTS 9 MILLION TONS
2. U.S. CORN FARMERS KEEP PLANTING EVEN AS RAINFALL HITS MIDWEST
3. THUNDERSTORMS BRING FLASH FLOODING TO APPALACHIA, MISSISSIPPI VALLEY Read more »
Grain Traders Rejecting New Soybeans Developed by Monsanto
U.S. grain companies plan to reject Monsanto Co.’s new genetically modified soybeans because of concerns that they could disrupt international trade without a key regulatory approval from the European Union. Read more »
No TTIP if agriculture is threatened: France
PARIS – France will reject the ambitious TTIP trans-Atlantic trade pact if it endangers the future of French agriculture, President Francois Hollande warned Sunday. “We in France have to defend a certain number of principles” and be “extremely vigilant as it is the future of agriculture which could be at stake,” Hollande’s office said Read more »
Africa: Singapore Tells Uganda to Forget Oil, Concentrate On Agriculture
In a statement issued last week by the ministry, Dr Koon said: "Uganda is doing a good job in carrying out organic farming and I encourage the country to develop its agricultural sector, market the agricultural products so that it becomes the world's market for organic products." Read more »
April 25-29, 2016
Dannon Announces Breakthrough Sweeping Commitment for Sustainable Agriculture
Dannon commits to offer products coming from a more sustainable agriculture by working with its dairy farmer partners and their suppliers to progressively implement the use of sustainable agriculture practices and technology that leads to better soil health, better water management, an increase in biodiversity, and a decrease in carbon emission. Read more »
INVESTING IN SOIL HEALTH PAYS
Soil health value extends way beyond agronomics. What if the soil’s improved resiliency (which helps boost yields in tough environments) adds financial value to your land? You could make the case with lenders that that’s exactly what’s happening. The economic value of soil health should not be overlooked. Read more »
Interactive Maps Show Where Monsanto’s Roundup Is Sprayed in San Francisco and Portland
Based on the maps, glyphosate—the cancer-linked main ingredient in Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup—is being used in a number of public spaces including parks and playgrounds in both cities.
According to a press release sent to EcoWatch, the Portland map displays 1,592 locations in the city where herbicides containing glyphosate are being sprayed.
“Monsanto’s Roundup and its key ingredient glyphosate are major weapons in the Portland Parks Department’s arsenal of herbicides,” the release states. Read more »
(my note: remember that we have an excellent lawn packet and brochure for you to download. I suggest not getting into an argument about the use of pesticides. Simply point out the yes, pesticides may be needed, but unfortunately they harm and destroy vital soil microorganisms needed for a healthy plant, grass, crop. Etc.). Your products containing SumaGrow continually repopulate the soil with these vital microorganisms. It’s kind of like comparing it to antibiotics. Antibiotics kill our bad bacteria and, unfortunately our good bacteria. This is why doctors are now asking their patients to take probiotics, especially while taking antibiotics, to repopulate their microbiome with the good bacteria)
Costco Offering Loans to Organic Farmers to Keep up with Demand
Organic products are flying off the shelf at leading US retailer Costco. To keep up with the mushrooming demand, Costco is now offering loans to organic farmers for land and equipment purchases. The store has recently climbed to the top of the organic charts, selling $4 billion in organic produce annually. This figure surpasses even health food store Whole Foods. Through its new financing program, it’s already helped a San Diego-based farm acquire 1,200 acres of Mexico farmland in addition to new equipment to cultivate it. As part of Costco’s return on its investment, it gets first dibs on the produce harvested from the Mexico farmland.
50 Billionaires on Forbes 400 List Receive Farm Subsidies
The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-partisan consumer watchdog organization, reports that fifty members on the Forbes 400 list are recipients of federal farm subsidy payments. These subsidies are provided to farmers to help moderate the price of agricultural commodities, supplement farmers’ incomes, and adjust supply and demand. Commodities eligible for farm subsidy payments include peanuts, cotton, soybeans, and feed grains like corn among others. According to EWG, between 1995 and 2014, some of the wealthiest residents in the US received at least $6.3 million in payments. Banking magnate David Rockefeller Sr, Wall Street king Charles Schwab, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen were among the rich recipients called out by EWG.   Read more »
Countdown to Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law: 70 days
With Congress still unable to reach a compromise on a federal GMO labeling bill, food companies are likely well underway figuring out what they must do to come into compliance with Vermont’s impending mandatory GMO labeling law, which takes effect on July 1, 2016. Meanwhile, Vermont’s attorney general William Sorrell has requested that major seed and food producers hand over internal research about their GMO crops. The AG filed a number of motions in several federal courts across the country. The motions are part of an ongoing legal challenge that the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association filed against the AG challenging the state’s impending mandatory GMO labeling law, which will take effect July 1, 2016.
Farm Bureau Pres Calls for More USDA Research Funding
American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall published an op-ED this week in The Hill calling for Congress to approve the full amount of funding allocated for USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grants in President Obama’s 2016-2017 fiscal budget. So far, appropriators in the House have only provided a $25 million boost. Green-lighting the full amount would double the appropriations allocated to AFRI grants in FY 2016, which totaled $350 million. According to Duvall, the myriad list of problems plaguing farmers warrants the hearty bump in funding. He also called out the stagnant funding history for USDA research programs, stating that the funding dollars have grown only 0.2 percent in the last 10 years. Read Duvall’s piece here »
Nestle to Source Simpler Ingredients
Consumers have become much noisier when it comes to reading ingredient information on food packages. As a result, some suppliers are swapping out synthetic ingredients for their natural counterparts. Major packaged goods provider Nestle is updating the ingredient lists for six of its ice cream products as part of a multi-year plan to update its product formulations across various segments. The changes include removing GMO ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors and flavors.
Swapping out a synthetic for something else isn’t always easy. In January 2016, General Mills embarked on a mission to reformulate its cereal products to exclude artificial colors and flavors. So far, a number of cereals have gotten a makeover, including Trix, Golden Grahams, and Reese’s Puffs. Scientists are stumped, however, when it comes to finding natural colors to shade the rainbow-hued marshmallows in Lucky Charms that don’t compromise the classic breakfast fare’s flavor.
As Farmers Age, The Plan To Turn Veterans On To Agriculture
There are enough farmers in America to feed the nation right now. They're getting older, though. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the average age is 58. Thousands of younger American are leaving another field. The military is downsizing after the huge mobilization of the last decade. You see where we're headed with this. Across the country, dozens of programs are helping veterans become farmers. NPR's Quil Lawrence visited one in Virginia. Read more »
Russia to become world’s largest wheat exporter in 2016
Wheat exports from Russia are expected to set a new record this year, outpacing the biggest wheat exporters Canada and the US, reports the Wall Street Journal, citing the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
According to USDA statistics, Russian exports this year would rise three percent to 23.5 million metric tons. US wheat exports are projected to fall to a 44-year low, to 21.8 million tons. Canada's exports are expected to be 20.5 million tons, down from 24.1 million the year previous.
Record harvests, a strong dollar and cheap oil are the factors which could shake up the multibillion-dollar global wheat market.   Read more »
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