An Idaho House bill that would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity in accordance with a new federal law now includes estimates of how much it will cost. A fiscal note included with House Bill 122, discussed in a hearing Feb. 18, says one-time, startup costs include $100,000 for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and for contracted experts to coordinate a plan in time for the 2020 spring growing season.The plan would be developed with input from growers, processors, the Idaho State Police and others.Another one-time cost is an estimated $50,000 for information technology specific to USDA requirements for hemp cultivation and other startup expenses. Initially, plant and oil samples will likely be sent to an approved testing lab, since the extent to which Idaho growers and entrepreneurs will invest in growing and processing hemp is unknown.HB 122’s fiscal note estimates ongoing costs at $150,000 including operating expenses, salaries and benefits.
Pennsylvania dairy farmers are being short-changed at least $550 million dollars each year, and New York dairy farmers are facing a $650 million dollar shortfall, which should make everyone anxious to do something to correct these criminal prices that dairy farmers are facing everyday. Our figures indicate that the total underpayments to all the US dairy farmers each year are approximately $12 billion. But wait, it gets much worse. Using a multiplier of five, the total loss to our rural economy across the US is approximately $60 billion per year.
Mexico imports nearly a quarter of the U.S. dairy industry’s exports annually. It’s a critical $1.4 billion marketplace. And it’s one that President Trump continues to risk damaging permanently – and unnecessarily. Locked in a trade war since May, Mexican leaders are setting aside American business connections that took decades to build as our neighbors to the south find new sources of cheese, butter and other products.This should have changed in November when Trump declared success with his newly rechristened U.S.-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement replacing NAFTA. In retrospect, it was a disingenuous statement: The administration has not lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexican and Canadian products, and – in response – those countries are refusing to sign the pact or lift retaliatory tariffs, impacting dairy products and other items. “If you’re using the tariffs as leverage, if you get an agreement with countries that have come to the table because of that, if you don’t relieve them of tariffs, you’re going to marginalize that as an effective leverage point for other negotiations,” U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, told reporters at a recent press conference.“The longer this trade war goes on … the greater and more permanent the damage will be,” added Johnson, whose home state saw the dairy-fueled economy lose $139 million through October of last year.
More Americans than ever say they want sustainable food. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the International Food Information Council, 59% of American consumers said they care about whether their food is grown sustainably. But much like “GMO” or “natural,” sustainability can be a murky term with no clear definition. Now, two stalwarts of the ‘Big Food’ landscape are working to clear up that murkiness with a “Turbo-Tax style” software platform aimed at getting farmers to grow their crops more sustainably.
The Oklahoma Board of Agriculture on Tuesday approved proposals for new or expanding poultry operations requiring them to be a certain distance away from homes and schools, but some eastern Oklahoma residents say the plan doesn't go far enough. The board voted 3-2 for the rules that include "setback" requirements that operations with fewer than 150,000 birds be at least 500 feet from homes and larger operations be at least 1,000 feet away. All operations must be at least 1,500 feet from schools.All operations must be 200 feet from streams, 100 feet from private wells and 500 feet from public wells.The proposal now goes to the Legislature and, if approved and signed by the governor, would go into effect in September.
The chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation says the worst threat to farmers currently is a general economic recession. It’s because so many farmers have now become dependent on off-farm income to make ends meet and stay in operation. Farm Bureau’s Chief Economist, John Newton, spoke during a panel of ag economists’ discussion at the Crop Insurance Industry Convention. “Farm lenders say the reason why we can continue to do what we are doing is off-farm income,” Newton says. “It’s off-farm income that allows folks to continue to farm. Lenders are really concerned about a slowdown in the U.S. economy.”
It’s no secret agriculture is struggling, and dairies are bearing the heaviest burden. One state official said farmer stress levels are “at least as bad” as they were during the 1980s agriculture crisis.Low prices and an oversupply of milk have caused hundreds of Wisconsin dairies to close. And it’s not just dairy farms. It’s hard to find a commodity that isn’t in a rut.Some farms close because of tough financial conditions. Others have no successor. Land is absorbed by a neighbor farmer or sold for development.Whatever the reason, when a farm vanishes, it means one more person leaving agricultural production and searching for career reinvention.
Rural counties are experiencing long-term population loss, and the trend is particularly acute in the Great Plains where animal agriculture has played a major role for centuries, according to new research by the University of New Hampshire. Across the country, nearly 35 percent of rural counties are experiencing protracted and significant population loss, according to a release about the study from the university’s Carsey School of Public Policy. Those counties are now home to 6.2 million residents, a third fewer than lived there in 1950.A map tracking the severity of the population loss shows that the out-migration is most acute in a swath of the rural U.S. from Montana and the Dakotas south to Texas, with Iowa and Missouri just to the east also part of the trend. These not only are areas where livestock is raised, but also where many major processing facilities are located, and have been having trouble finding sufficient labor for years.
For 2018, annual farmland values in the Seventh Federal Reserve District were steady overall. Yet, values for “good” agricultural land in the fourth quarter of 2018 were up 1 percent from the third quarter, according to 183 survey respondents representing agricultural banks across the District. Although 75 percent of the responding agricultural bankers expected farmland values to be stable during the January through March period of 2019, nearly all of the rest expected farmland values to move down. Deteriorating agricultural credit conditions continued to affect the District in the fourth quarter of 2018. Repayment rates on non-real-estate farm loans decreased in the October through December period of 2018 relative to the same period of 2017, and rates of loan renewals and extensions increased. Even so, about the same percentage (2.4 percent) of current agricultural borrowers were not likely to qualify for operating credit at the survey respondents’ banks in 2019 as in 2018. Non-real-estate loan demand in the fourth quarter of 2018 climbed from the previous year’s level, while funds available for lending were slightly lower than a year ago. The average loan-to-deposit ratio for the District (79.0 percent) was higher than a year earlier. Average interest rates on farm operating loans and farm real estate loans had moved up by the end of 2018 to levels not seen since 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Breweries would enjoy agritourism privileges similar to those of wineries and cideries on Oregon farmland under legislation that’s hit a snag over on-site hop acreage requirements. Lawmakers allowed wineries in Oregon to conduct certain commercial activities and special events in “exclusive farm use” zones in 2013, then extended similar rights to cideries in 2017.Senate Bill 287 would now allow on-farm breweries to also have tasting rooms for malt beverages and hold brewer’s lunches and dinners, among other promotional activities.“We’re simply asking that you do the same for beer,” said Matthew Merritt, general counsel for Rogue Ales and Spirits. “I think there are a number of breweries that want to do this but are afraid to.”The sticking point is that SB 287 ties these privileges at on-farm breweries to the size of adjacent hop yards, which don’t evenly correspond with vineyards or orchards.