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Agriculture News

Midwestern BioAg gets a dream opportunity with new partnership with General Mills

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on April 10, 2018

“Biological farmers want to feed the soil life and create the ideal home (for plants) and we’ve got a whole concept,” Zimmer said. A major food manufacturer, General Mills, agrees. Last month, it announced it was partnering with Midwestern BioAg — the Madison-based biological farming company Zimmer founded in 1979 — to convert the 34,000-acre Gunsmoke Farm near Pierre, South Dakota, into an organic farm. When it’s completed in 2020, it will become the largest organic transition in North America, Zimmer said.

Vermont needs to make ‘tough decisions’ on cow herds

Vermont Digger | Posted on April 10, 2018

There are more cows in Vermont than the state’s agricultural land can accommodate under current practices, according to a new study from a UVM research fellow. But a promising solution to the problem would place a financial burden on struggling dairy farmers. The study recommends “precision feeding” as a promising approach to reduce dairies’ rate of water pollution without reducing herd sizes. However, some Vermont counties, including Franklin and Orleans, may simply have more cows than the land can handle.“We have in many parts of the state a herd size the land cannot support,” said Jon Erickson, a UVM professor who co-authored the study.“I hope [the study] is yet another wake-up call, that despite our best efforts … in many senses the efforts are missing the target: We need to make some tough decisions around herd size and location,” Erickson said.Authored by UVM’s Gund Graduate Fellow Michael Wironen, of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, the study focuses on phosphorus, and its accumulation in Vermont soil over the past 90 years.The study looks at how much of the element is imported into the state, how much is exported through products like milk and meat, and how much remains in the state, either bound to the soil or polluting surface waters.“While feed is imported and milk exported, manure remains in Vermont,” the study states.

ICE raids Tennessee meatpacking plant

Meat + Poultry | Posted on April 10, 2018

Immigration officials executed a federal criminal search warrant at the Southeastern Provision meatpacking plant in Bean Station, Tennessee, on April 5. According to a statement released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Public Affairs Officer Tammy Spicer, 97 people were arrested during a search by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The individuals detained could be deported.The Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division also participated in the search.Spicer stated that 10 people were arrested on federal criminal charges, one was arrested on state charges and 86 were arrested on administrative charges for being in the US illegally.

Marfrig buys National Beef, becomes world's 2nd largest beef processor

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 10, 2018

Brazil's Marfrig Global Foods has reached an agreement to acquire 51 percent of National Beef Packing Company for $969 million, becoming the world's second largest beef processor.

Cheese-maker stepping up to help save 4 family farms as dairy crisis deepens

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Posted on April 10, 2018

Not many people get to save a family farm, let alone four of them, but cheese-makers Jay and John Noble may do just that.  The Racine County brothers are reopening the Beechwood cheese plant near Adell, in Sheboygan County, that's been closed for about a year. By most standards it’s a small plant, a two-man operation where the Nobles will make high-end organic cheese. But for a handful of dairy farms that were about to lose their milk buyer for the second time in two years, the plant is a lifeline that may keep them in business.The four farms, roughly in the Mayville area, were in a tough spot when Westby Cooperative Creamery, of Westby, said it was dropping them this month. "We must have called 50 to 75 plants and couldn't find anybody looking for milk," said Tom Weidmeyer, who milks about 120 cows. "I have never seen anything like this in my life," he said, including the farm crisis of the 1980s that wiped out scores of small dairy operations. But even that stemmed from other economic factors, not a surplus of milk. 

Front-of-package labelling proposal has Canadian dairy farmers concerned

The Western Producer | Posted on April 10, 2018

Health Canada launched a consultation period in February for its proposed new front-of-packaging labelling. The proposal is part of Health Canada's Healthy Eating Strategy and would include placing new warning labels on the front of products sold in Canada for foods that are high in saturated fats, sugars and sodium.   “Our concern is that many Canadians would actually put that product back down if they see a warning label on it. So it would impact our markets domestically,” said David Wiens, chair of Dairy Farmers of Manitoba. Dollar-wise the proposal could have a huge effect for Canadian dairy farmers. Wiens has heard that it could negatively impact the Canadian dairy industry by as much as C$800 million.While milk will be getting a pass from the proposed labels, other dairy products such as cheeses and yogurts will not, which has the Canadian dairy industry concerned.

Missouri Attorney General defends states’ sovereign, economic interests

Farm Futures | Posted on April 5, 2018

In requesting the U.S. Supreme Court to accept its complaint in the California cage size case, Missouri’s Attorney General states, “Unless this Court acts, California will continue to impose new agricultural regulations on other states in violation of federal law and those States’ sovereign, quasi-sovereign, and economic interests…”. The Reply Brief filed on March 20, 2018, to the Supreme Court states, “California persistently ignores federal law in its regulation of extraterritorial agricultural production.” The brief also declares California’s effort to regulate the size of a cage for laying hens “…reflects one of several attempts by California to dictate the manner of agricultural production in other States…”   California passed a Proposition, then legislation and regulations, which mandate that California egg producers and egg products in other states spend large amounts of capital to put in new cage systems for laying hens. We reported on this last December. California’s creative standards are required on other states if those states’ producers wish to sell eggs in California.In a move which has infuriated the complaining states, California has the audacity of sending its enforcement officials into neighboring states to enforce its cage size statute and regulations.

Milk production increases in the West

Capital Press | Posted on April 5, 2018

University of Wisconsin economists say milk production seems to be trending westward while slowing in the Northeast and Midwest.

Ohio farmers reminded of manure application regs

Farm and Dairy | Posted on April 5, 2018

New measures signed into law by Gov. John R. Kasich in 2015 clarified and enhanced the restrictions on manure application within the Western Lake Erie Basin. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Soil and Water Conservation, applications are not permitted in the Western Lake Erie Basin in the following situations:When the local weather forecast for the application area contains a greater than 50 percent chance of precipitation exceeding one-half inch in a 24-hour period;Producers are reminded it is their responsibility to research and make a copy of the local forecast or the 24-hour precipitation forecast.

Opinion: U.S. can’t export its way out of farm crisis

Daily Yonder | Posted on April 5, 2018

In general, I find the concept of focusing on exports problematic, particularly as a silver-bullet solution to depressed farm income. Exports are important, but they’re only 20% of the market. That leaves 80% of purchasing power among U. S. consumer. Additionally, nearly 100% of farmers are selling the things they produce in a domestic market. Farmers don’t export; agribusiness companies do the exporting. Export-oriented agriculture does not have the best track record in delivering better incomes for farmers. When I was in college during Clinton’s first term, the passage of NAFTA had the pro-export agriculture lobby salivating. Mexico’s appetite for corn, the thinking went, would lead to a boom once Mexico reduced trade barriers. That’s exactly what happened. U. S. corn exports exploded. Yet, even with the export boom for corn producers, by the turn of the millennium corn prices paid to U. S. farmers were at historic lows compared to farmers’ cost-of-production. Mexican corn producers were leaving their farms because of a flood of U. S. corn exports, and U.S. farmers were in deep trouble and had to be bailed out by large “emergency payments” from Congress.