Skip to content Skip to navigation

Agriculture News

Rural Mainstreet Economy Remains Weak for June: Bankers Tighten Farm Loans

Creighton University Economic Outlook | Posted on July 14, 2016

Survey Results at a Glance: • For a tenth straight month, the Rural Mainstreet Index fell below growth neutral. • Farmland prices remained below growth neutral for the 31st straight month. • Due to the weak agriculture economy, 73.5 percent of bankers increased collateral requirements, half boosted interest rates, and 35.3 percent rejected a higher percentage of farm loans. • Rural Mainstreet businesses boosted hiring for the month. While remaining very fragile, the Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) has increased four of the last five months. The index, which ranges between 0 and 100, rose to 43.9 from May’s 40.9.

US Senate passes national GMO labeling bill

Watt Ag Net | Posted on July 14, 2016

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 63-30 to approve a bill that would require a mandatory labeling system of genetically modified organisms (GMO) for all 50 states.  The measure would require the USDA to determine which food products and ingredients should be labeled as GMO. Those products would be labeled by text, symbols or a bar code that can be scanned with smartphones. The USDA would have two years to develop the rules and regulations for the nationwide labeling program.  The measure now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

Court rules Monsanto can't dismiss farmer's cancer claim

Digital Journal | Posted on July 11, 2016

A federal judge has refused Monsanto's request to dismiss a claim brought by a former coffee farmer who claims the company's weed-killer, Roundup caused her cancer.

U.S. Chesapeake Bay blue crab population rising: report

Reuters | Posted on July 11, 2016

The summer crab season has begun on the mid-Atlantic seaboard and supplies of the crustaceans in the largest U.S. estuary are improving, according to a survey, meaning crab lovers will enjoy bountiful feasts. A study released by the Chesapeake Bay Program this week said the "blue crab" population in the bay is growing, though numbers are below healthy target levels. State and federal agencies have been monitoring a variety of environmental problems in the bay that are thought to have hurt wildlife, resulting in higher water temperatures. The report did not draw conclusions on the reason for the current uptick in crab populations. The total population of blue crabs increased from 411 million in 2015 to 553 million in 2016, according to the survey. The population peaked at around 800 million in the 1990s and in 2012

Ranchers handbook on grazing, hunring and livestock leases | Posted on July 11, 2016

Whether a person owns land or is seeking to find land to rent, leasing property for grazing or hunting leases can be beneficial for both parties. Similarly, both the owner and lessee of livestock benefit from lease agreements as well.  This handbook details issues to be aware of.

How GMOs Fit Into the Farm Toolbox

Biotech Now | Posted on July 11, 2016

On the farm our tools range from the typical tractor and seeds to tablets and satellites.  While some are more important than others, each tool has its place and without the others would not be as effective or efficient.  Probably the most important tool we use is human capital. Our rural community is full of experts in their field.  Our neighbor knows our tractors inside and out.  Friends from high school now sell seed and fertilizer, recommending combinations that might work well in our fields.  Agronomists, crop specialists, grain marketers . . . all these people live and work in our communities, proving that farming is not an insular activity, but very communal and very dependent on others.

It seems the world would like to talk only about GMOs, but on the farm we have to talk about more than that, because farming takes tools and lots of them.  GMOs are one tool – a valuable one at that – and not the whole toolbox.

Off label use of Dicamba causing problems down south

DTN | Posted on July 11, 2016

Soybeans are very sensitive to dicamba and this summer is showing it. Damage complaints have been filed in several Southern states because of what appears to be off-target movement of dicamba herbicide onto sensitive crops.

The damage is also being connected with applications made in herbicide-tolerant crops that do not yet have a federally approved dicamba herbicide labeled for in-crop use. The situation could hold legal implications for errant applicators and bring additional regulatory scrutiny to a technology many farmers have been asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sanction.  Seed companies repeatedly issued warnings that there would be no approved dicamba product available for use on the trait this growing season after EPA failed to label the product in May. However, dicamba herbicides are readily available in the marketplace. Growers that applied those herbicides are not only in violation of federal and state law, but the herbicide formulations currently available tend to be volatile and more likely to move off-target under summer conditions, according to university weed Extension specialists contacted by DTN.

"It looks like a bomb went off in some parts of the South," said Ford Baldwin, an independent weed consultant based in Arkansas. "Some growers returned dicamba soybeans when they learned the beans did not yet have clearance in the European Union (EU) and dicamba applications would not be legal. It's a good thing, otherwise we might have been facing Armageddon."  The EPA told DTN it "is aware of reports of illegal use of dicamba having caused damage to neighboring crops. We are working with state and other federal agencies to investigate these incidents."

Guilty of forced labor on Ohio farm, man gets 15 years | Posted on July 7, 2016

man who smuggled Guatemalan teenagers into the U.S. and forced them to work on an Ohio egg farm was sentenced in Toledo last week to 15 years in prison.  Aroldo Castillo-Serrano and associate Conrado Salgado Soto had previously pleaded guilty to labor-trafficking and immigration offences, according to a report in The Marion Star. Ana Angelica Pedro-Juan, who ran the operation for Castillo-Serrano, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Another individual, Pablo Duran Jr., pleaded guilty to immigration offenses. Back in December 2014 federal agents and local police took down the operation based in a trailer park near New Bloomington, rescuing some 35 young captives at the time.

New York Dairies Talk Labor Woes, Impact of Minimum Wage Hike

Ag Web | Posted on July 7, 2016

A global glut of milk is now in the market, but dairy producers worry immigration and farm labor issues could dry up milk supply.  “It’s a competitive pay. I think we’re just having trouble finding enough people to do it,” says Kendra Lamb, a dairy farmer in Oakfield, N.Y.  That’s especially true for dairy farms in New York. Farms which hire seasonal workers to harvest fruits and vegetables can use the H-2A Visa program. But dairy is not seasonal. It’s 24 hours, seven days a week.

“We have no access to H-2A here in dairy in New York. We have no options really to bring a foreign person in unless they have the documents that come through our federal system,” says Sarah Noble-Moag who works in dairy production operations in Pavilion, N.Y.  "What we need to see is a guest worker program nationally. New York is not the only one that has labor challenges,” says Tonya Van Slyke, executive director of the North East Dairy Producers Association.  These dairies say they’re reaching out locally, but aren't have much luck. 

Corn Prices Face Strong Headwinds

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on July 7, 2016

December 2016 corn futures moved $0.80 per bushel higher from April 1 to June 17. The strength reflected a short fall in the size of the Brazilian corn crop and resulting large export sales of U.S corn, expectations that planted acreage of corn in the U.S. would be less than intentions reported in March, above normal temperatures in the U.S. in June, and concerns that hot, dry weather in July would reduce yield potential.

The price of that contract has since declined by $0.95 and is currently trading at contract lows. The price decline reflects a change to more favorable weather conditions in the U.S. and forecasts for less stressful weather in July. Additional price weakness followed last week's USDA reports that showed larger than expected June 1 stocks of U.S. corn and a larger than expected estimate of planted acreage of corn