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Agriculture News

Policymakers in ‘denial’ about depth of farm recession

The Topeka Capital-Journal | Posted on February 5, 2019

Farmers driving $250,000 combines across wheat fields and the niche growers of fruits and vegetables, he said, to some extent have been grappling for five years with economics of rising input costs, weak commodity prices and a political system unwilling or incapable of a balanced response to recession. He said farmers paid a price for international trade conflict given traction by President Donald Trump. “It put many farmers on the edge or over the edge,” Teske said. “This is probably the kicker year, because of the added tariff stress. But mostly because this has been accumulating. The debt has been restructured, and if you didn’t make it work this year, you’re running out of options.” Teske, who lives near Wheaton, said politicians responsible for public policy were “in a state of denial” about resurgence of farm bankruptcies and damage to mental health of families. Paul Johnson, a Jefferson County farmer with the Kansas Rural Center, said psychological wounds afflicting rural Kansas could been better addressed through expansion of eligibility for health insurance under Medicaid. “If we would have expanded Medicaid, it would have picked up a vast amount of mental health coverage all across the state,” Johnson said on the podcast. “From the state level, we’ve been cutting virtually every program. Mental health wasn’t left out of that. They’ve seen less dollars and more need.”




Bud Light picks fight with corn syrup in Super Bowl ad

The New York Times | Posted on February 5, 2019

Bud Light made an enemy of the corn industry on Sunday by boasting in a Super Bowl ad that, unlike its fiercest competitors, it does not brew its beer with corn syrup. While corn lobbyists responded in anger, and competing brands fought back, some viewers were left to wonder: Does it matter if corn syrup is used during fermentation?“The bottom line is that the claims regarding corn syrup in brewing are more marketing than science,” said David Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Beer is made by fermenting sugar. During the fermentation process, yeast converts the sugar into alcohol.“Corn syrup is a form of sugar that’s been produced from a grain,” Dr. Ludwig said. “Whether that sugar is produced by first milling and then enzymatically treating the grain, or doing so from corn in a separate process, isn’t going to matter much to the final nutritional quality.”Bud Light’s ad came days after it became the first major beer to start listing its ingredients on its label. It lists just four — water, barley, rice and hops.In response to the ad, Kevin Ross, a vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, shared a video of himself pouring Bud Light down the drain.“Bud Light, if you’re not standing with corn farmers, we’re not standing with you,” he said.


What Soybean Politics Tell Us About Argentina and China

The New York Times | Posted on February 4, 2019

The vast majority of Argentina’s soy products are exported, mostly to China. Rising Asian demand — for soy sauce, tofu, animal feed — has fueled the explosion of the soybean industry across Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The pattern is a familiar one for Argentina. A century ago, it became one of the world’s wealthiest countries on a per-capita basis by shipping the pampa’s abundant yields of grain and beef to Europe. Today, however, it is the price of soybean futures that dominates the electronic tickers on the wall. Last year, Argentina exported $17 billion in soybean products, more than a quarter of its overall export earnings. Over the past decade, China has more than doubled its overall trade with Latin America and the Caribbean, to $244 billion in 2017, elevating China past the United States as the region’s top trading partner, a stunning development in America’s own backyard. 

USDA Awards Agricultural Trade Promotion Program Funding

USDA | Posted on February 4, 2019

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $200 million to 57 organizations through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) to help U.S. farmers and ranchers identify and access new export markets. The ATP is one of three USDA programs created to mitigate the effects of unjustified trade retaliation against U.S. farmers and exporters. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) accepted ATP applications between September 4 and November 2 – totaling nearly $600 million – from U.S. trade associations, cooperatives, and other industry-affiliated organizations. USDA has released a list of the ATP funding recipients.

Minnesota scientists aim to curb chronic wasting disease with 'moonshot' tool

Park Rapids Enterprise | Posted on February 4, 2019

Minnesota scientists say they could have a tool to detect a fatal neurodegenerative disease in deer within two years. But it will come at a cost.As the state fights to protect wild and captive deer from catching chronic wasting disease, veterinary scientists at the University of Minnesota expect to have a breakthrough prototype tool to detect the disease in 2021. And they asked lawmakers last week for $1.8 million to make that a reality.

Why are researchers growing human protein in hens' eggs?

Medical News Today | Posted on February 4, 2019

Chicken eggs are already important in clinical research and production — specialists currently use them to make vaccines. New research is now taking the eggs' potential even further by suggesting a new use for them, as repositories in which to grow specialized human proteins.

Grants to Improve Massachusetts Farm Food Safety | Posted on February 4, 2019

The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $300,000 in grants to 21 Massachusetts farms to install practices that improve food safety within their operations. The Agricultural Food Safety Improvement Program (AFSIP) is a competitive grant program that allows agricultural operations to complete food safety upgrades on their farms, enabling the operations to meet buyer demands, increase consumption of local food and protect public health by reducing food safety risks. 

Farm subsidies to leap on $9.8 billion in trade aid

Agri-Pulse | Posted on February 4, 2019

Government payments to farmers are forecast to hit their highest level in more than a decade because of the trade assistance being provided to producers this year, and the total could go even higher if Congress, as expected, authorizes a new round of disaster aid. The Trump administration's temporary Market Facilitation Program, launched last fall to compensate farmers for lost exports of soybeans and other crops due to retaliatory tariffs, will pay out $9.8 billion in fiscal 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office's latest projection of farm program costs. The $17.2 billion in total farm program spending that CBO estimates for FY19 doesn’t include additional disaster assistance that Congress is considering for producers harmed by hurricanes and wildfires in 2018. A bill passed by the House would authorize $3 billion in agricultural disaster aid. 


Dairy economists: Not a lot to be optimistic about

Capital Press | Posted on February 4, 2019

The government shutdown left a void in market data for the dairy industry, with no reports on milk production, stocks, prices, world supply and demand and exports. Markets have been struggling for four years, with 2018 the worst for milk prices and dairy farmers, Bob Cropp, University of Wisconsin dairy economist, said.The effects are increasingly being felt, judging from conversations with dairy producers and bankers, Stephenson said.“The persistence of this downturn is really starting to take its toll,” he said.Farms are exiting at an increased rate, people are getting discouraged about the dairy industry and cow values are really low, almost at cull cow prices, he said.

Our government's dairy conundrum

The Week | Posted on February 4, 2019

The United States' dairy surplus has reached a record high, rounding out at 1.4 billion pounds of cheese. Reports attempting to quantify this astonishing amount have deferred to metrics like "enough to wrap around the U.S. Capitol." Suffice to say, nobody's suggesting we could consume it all. In the past, the U.S. government has supported dairy farmers through various programs and agencies, accumulating a staggering surplus with policies unique to this industry. What it's done with that surplus has changed the American welfare state and diet forever.