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Agriculture News

Dairy Revenue Protection is Here

Farm Bureau | Posted on August 9, 2018

Since 2014 the annual average U.S. all-milk price has fallen by more than 30 percent. This year, it is projected to be at the lowest level since 2009, at $16.10 per hundredweight. Milk prices are projected to improve slightly in 2019 to $16.75 per hundredweight, but ongoing trade tensions in July compelled USDA to push its 2019 milk price projection down by 45 cents per hundredweight. The 45-cent revision represents a nearly $1 billion decline in projected milk revenue – in just one month in 2019.  Dairy Revenue Protection was developed and approved through the Federal Crop Insurance Act’s 508(h) process, which allows private parties to develop insurance products that are in the best interests of producers, follow sound insurance principles and are actuarially appropriate. 

Debate around ag ‘nuisance’ lawsuits heats up

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 9, 2018

Ag organizations have moved to support Smithfield Foods in its bid to have a judge’s gag order lifted, in the wake of a third jury verdict finding a Smithfield-related hog farm responsible for excessive odors and property value damage due to hog waste. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation collaborated on a brief filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina, saying the gag order has a “chilling effect” on agricultural producers’ First Amendment rights.

Smithfield faces down third, and largest yet, 'nuisance' award

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 9, 2018

Smithfield Foods Inc. has struck out a third time with juries in North Carolina, as its Murphy-Brown LLC hog production unit was ordered on Friday to pay $473.5 million to plaintiffs in a noise and odor lawsuit filed by residents near some of its hog farms, according to court documents. Businesses raising hogs for Smithfield’s pork products have already lost two other cases, one in which the jury awarded $50 million and one in which the award was $25 million.  In the third case, among dozens that have been filed, the jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina awarded $3 million to $5 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages to each of the case’s six complainants. In an email, a Smithfield spokeswoman told Meatingplace that, due to a gag order imposed by the judge in the case, the company was unable to comment. The North Carolina Legislature in June approved the Farm Act of 2018, which sets a deadline for bringing such suits of one year from an operation’s start and allows punitive damages only against a farm that had a criminal charge or code violation.

Why campaigns to ban meat send the wrong message on climate change

NBC News | Posted on August 8, 2018

WeWork, the co-working mega-giant, recently instituted a new policy at its office spaces across the world: No more meat. Amid some backlash, the company said the decision was an attempt to reduce its carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment. And while this is a truly noble mission, if you take a deep dive into the science of climate and carbon emissions, the policy starts to look half-baked. For one thing, it perpetuates a ubiquitous myth in climate change messaging that individual decisions are more important than the actions of industry.Worst of all, the growing campaign against meat is shifting the focus away from the world’s worst carbon emitter — the fossil fuel industry. (One popular Netflix documentary in particular has gotten a lot of attention, despite its egregious factual errors.) Caring about the planet — and trying to do something about it — is a noble cause. But with the stakes as high as they are, accuracy in messaging is important. But according to renowned climate scientist Michael E. Mann, who has worked on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Assessment Report — the report that gives a status report on the global climate — the way WeWork has framed its message is misleading. “It let’s fossil fuels off the hook. It’s implicitly accepting the notion that climate solutions are voluntary measures,” Mann told me. “They’re important. But it’s really frustrating to me when they say eating less meat. When it's framed as if influencing the political process isn’t part of the constellation.”

Bloomer dairy farm sues Cornell electric company

The Chippewa Herald | Posted on August 8, 2018

A group of Bloomer dairy farmers is suing Cornell-based Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative, claiming that stray voltage from the cooperative’s equipment is harming the dairy herd.The lawsuit was brought by LaGesse Dairy Farms. Thomas C., Catherine J. and Deanne M. LaGesse and Conrad Willi, all of Bloomer.Stray voltage levels are small degrees of voltage traveling through parts of livestock buildings or equipment, according to a 2010 report from the nonprofit Midwest Rural Energy Council.

Drought Puts Livestock Owners in a Pinch

Ag Web | Posted on August 8, 2018

As portions of the U.S. endure scorching drought, livestock owners struggle to locate feed supplies. Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and several more western states range from D0 (abnormally dry) to D4 (exceptional drought).

Too little, too late: Dairy farmers wary of potential impact of cheese factory

WJAC | Posted on August 8, 2018

There have been recent discussions about a cheese factory in Centre County.Some say that such a factory could be a positive factor to help dairy farms in the area, but farmers in Centre County say it may be too little, too late. Harry Wasson, who has been a dairy farmer for 50 years, said 2018 may be his toughest year yet in terms of profitability. “There’s not much left after the milk check so we have to dip into savings to pay expenses,” said Wasson. Doug Wasson said they are probably being paid less than a dollar for each gallon of milk they produce.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin warns 'near crisis time' with low milk prices, export uncertainty, tariffs

LaCrosse Tribune | Posted on August 8, 2018

Dairy farmers are caught in a vortex that includes low milk prices, uncertainty about export markets and President Donald Trump’s tariffs, among other factors, that have created “pretty near crisis time,” says U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.The Wisconsin Democrat made that assessment during a press conference Monday after she toured Organic Valley’s Cashton distribution center and spoke with officials, members and employees of the cooperative. The export market is especially concerning, with 90 percent of the milk in Wisconsin being used in cheese, and 25 percent of the cheese going to Mexico, which may increase tariffs as pushback against Trump’s tariffs, Baldwin said.

Wheat: Heat Wave Impacting Outlook, Prices

Illinois Farm Policy News | Posted on August 8, 2018


Last week, Financial Times writer Emiko Terazono reported that, “The wheat market is feeling the heat, with key global producers sweating over a drought that has curbed output. After several years of bumper harvests, the wheat market is poised to tighten sharply as Russia, Australia and EU countries contend with scorching temperatures. “In Australia, the state of New South Wales has announced a A$500m aid package for struggling farmers, while Germany’s farming association has called for €1bn in financial assistance from federal and state authorities.The FT article noted, “Europe’s wheat production is forecast to fall below 130m tonnes for the first time in six years, according to Strategie Grains, while the German harvest has been downgraded to about 20m tonnes, the lowest since 2003. The consultancy sees further downgrades in the near future.”

Germany launches earliest grape harvest yet amid heat wave

Trib Live | Posted on August 8, 2018

Germany’s grape harvest is officially under way on its earliest date yet after a scorching summer that has many other farmers groaning but — so far — is promising to be good for vintners. At a vineyard in Loerzweiler, south of Mainz in southwestern Germany near the Rhine River, workers started plucking white grapes off rows of vines Monday.The first grapes go to make Federweisser, a young wine that gives the first clues about the potential quality of a vintage. The main harvest is expected to start in late August or early September.