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  • ‘Struggling to tread water’: Dairy farmers are caught in an economic system with no winning formula | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    A worldwide surplus of milk has driven down the price farmers receive to the point where many have lost money for months, or even several years, at a time. Nearly 3,000 U.S. dairy farms folded in 2018, about a 6.5% decline, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures.Wisconsin lost nearly 700 last year — almost two a day — as even dairy farmers used to enduring hard times called it quits in a downturn now headed into its fifth year.The fallout continues as farmers, on the cusp of spring planting, decide whether to invest in seed, chemicals, fertilizer and other supplies needed to raise the crops they feed to their cattle. More than 300 Wisconsin dairy farms shut down between January and May, including 90 — three a day — in April alone.Some will find the decision is out of their hands as banks refuse to extend them credit. “It’s enough to test even the most optimistic farmer limping out to the fields,” said Ronald Wirtz, regional outreach director for the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, which regulates banks in parts of six states, including northwest Wisconsin, and keeps close tabs on agricultural lending trends. In 2018, for the third straight year, Wisconsin led the nation in farm bankruptcies. The state's smaller average farm size, particularly in dairy, is at least partly the reason, Wirtz said. The farm economy in the Upper Midwest "might generously be described as struggling to tread water," he added. Some dairy farmers say they've been getting around $15 for every hundred pounds of milk they produce — roughly 12 gallons — but their costs are between $17 and $22. Many families have exhausted their savings and credit to remain in business; a large number have at least one non-farm income to help meet the needs of their families. 

    Post date: Thu, 05/23/2019 - 13:10
  • Small group of America’s big farms gets bulk of Trump bailout | Financial Times

    A tenth of US farm operators have received more than half the money from a federal bailout designed to offset the costs of the Trump administration’s trade battles, data show. Some use legal loopholes to collect multiples of a $125,000 cap on payments. The government had doled out $8.5bn ahead of last Friday’s application deadline for farmers, the US department of agriculture said. The White House launched the Market Facilitation Program in September after China, Mexico and other countries fought back against US tariffs by raising duties on American farm goods, depressing their price. The payments reflect the farm sector’s political clout in Washington. No other US industry has received direct payments to relieve losses caused by tariffs.  Between September and mid-April, $4.5bn of MFP payments went to 10 per cent of recipients, according to records the Financial Times obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act. The government limited payments to $125,000 per person or legal entity in each of three commodity categories. Farmers were also ineligible if their adjusted gross income topped $900,000. The records showed that more than 3,000 farm businesses got paid in excess of $125,000 within a single category, however. More than 100 received at least $500,000 and a handful collected almost $1m.


    Post date: Thu, 05/23/2019 - 13:08
  • Maryland 50% renewable by 2030, but republican governor wants more | electrek

    Maryland’s bill mandating 50% renewable energy by 2030 is set to become law on Friday. The bill will do so without the signature of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Why won’t Hogan sign the bill? It’s probably not what you think. Like a number of critics, Maryland’s GOP governor doesn’t believe the bill does enough to combat climate change, and it gives no guarantees of Maryland jobs. As Hogan wrote in a letter to the Maryland senate president,“Despite its name, this bill is not clean enough, nor smart enough, nor does it create the intended jobs within Maryland.”Hogan actually wants to expand the mandate to 100% clean energy by 2040, surprising his critics. The new law may not go as far as some would like, but it will still have its benefits.

    Post date: Thu, 05/23/2019 - 13:00
  • Ohio House Republicans overhaul ‘clean-energy’ bill to focus on nuclear, coal subsidies |

    Ohio House Republicans on Wednesday dramatically transformed a controversial “clean-energy” subsidy bill, turning it into a bailout plan for both nuclear and coal power plants owned by Ohio companies. The changes to House Bill 6, made by the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would also end Ohio’s much-disputed renewable-energy and energy-efficiency mandates for utilities after this year, which cost residential electricity users an average of about $4.60 per month. Instead, residential customers statewide would pay up to $1 per month into an estimated $190 million “Ohio Clean Air Program” fund, most of which would go to help keep open the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, owned by FirstEnergy Solutions.

    Post date: Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:58
  • Atlanta creates first food forest in Georgia, largest in U.S. | Atlanta Journal Constitution

    Atlanta residents will have greater access to fresh food thanks to a public “food forest.”City Council, on a unanimous vote, approved the transformation of 7.1 acres of property near the Lakewood Fairgrounds and Browns Mill Golf Course into a public park and garden. The food forest is the first in Georgia and the largest in the United States.The Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill has been in the works since November 2016 when the city accepted an $86,150 grant from the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest and Open Space Program. The federal agency has contributed a total of $164,000 to the project, which has additional support from non-profit groups Trees Atlanta and The Conservation Fund.The green space, currently vacant property, will feature trees, shrubs and vines that produce fruit along with walking trails, a community garden and restored forest and stream-side areas by 2020, according to the legislation.

    Post date: Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:57

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