Agriculture-dependent Indiana saw 10-percent of its dairy farms close in 2018. The Indiana State Board of Animal Health says there were 1,000 dairy farms in the state producing Grad A milk at the start of the year. By the end of 2018, there were 892 dairy farms still operating.
fter years of low milk prices, about 75 dairy farms closed across Vermont in 2018. Harold Howrigan of Fairfield, Vermont, says the past year set a new low for dairy farmers in the state. And this year isn’t looking any better. In fact, dairy farmers say it’s looking worse.President Donald Trump’s tariff actions and the resulting trade war shut off access to foreign markets for U.S. dairy farmers. The U.S. Dairy Export Council, an organization funded almost entirely by dairy farmers, has worked for decades developing those same markets around the world for their dairy producers.“Those markets were taken away with the stroke of a pen,” Howrigan said, referring to Trump’s move in July that imposed billion of dollars of tariffs on Chinese goods and prompted China to impose retaliatory tariffs of its own. The trade war then expanded to other countries like Canada and Mexico.
A new bioengineering approach for boosting photosynthesis in rice plants could increase grain yield by up to 27 percent, according to a new study. The approach, called GOC bypass, enriches plant cells with CO2 that would otherwise be lost through a metabolic process called photorespiration. The genetically engineered plants were greener and larger and showed increased photosynthetic efficiency and productivity under field conditions, with particular advantages in bright light.
The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food wants to create a new label for New Hampshire milk to help keep local dairies afloat. Agriculture Commissioner Shawn Jasper is working with Gov. Chris Sununu and lawmakers on a House bill to create the program, called the Dairy Premium Fund.Gallons with the “New Hampshire’s Own” sticker would carry milk from New Hampshire farms, and would cost an extra 50 cents for customers. Some of this would go to advertising the new brand, but most of it would go back to farmers voluntarily participating in the fund.Jasper says the bill is in response to the nationwide decline in dairy revenue and dairy farms.“We’re down to under a hundred that are shipping milk in New Hampshire, and I’m aware of another three or four that will be gone by April,” he says.
Today President Trump will address the American Farm Bureau’s 100th annual convention in New Orleans. But any promises of help will be too late for many farmers. Had he set out to ruin America’s small farmers, he could hardly have come up with a more effective, potentially ruinous one-two combination punch than tariffs and the shutdown.The trade wars collapsed farmers’ markets. Now, with farmers down, he’s kicking them with a partial shutdown that has effectively slammed the door on farm payments, loans and more. It’s hurting rural Americans — those who formed a big part of the base of Mr. Trump’s support in 2016.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is forging ahead with a long-overdue update of the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, even as four environmental groups withdrew from mediation and announced they will oppose it. In a Jan. 4 letter to Gov. Kate Brown, representatives for Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity said they will no longer participate in meetings hosted by ODFW to find common ground on wolf management with hunters and ranchers.Wolf advocates criticized the negotiations, describing the process as flawed and skewed in favor of killing wolves to protect livestock, rather than prioritizing non-lethal forms of deterrence. The groups slammed ODFW staff for “leading us to a seemingly predetermined outcome,” despite the agency paying more than $100,000 to hire a professional mediator.
There was a time when if you didn’t grow up on a farm, you at least knew a farmer. Times have changed. In 2018, Wisconsin lost 638 dairy farms – a 7.25 percent decline, according to the latest data from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. It’s the biggest decline since records started in 2004. “It’s a part of life that not many people get to live,” says Stephanie Kate Hoff. “I think it’s special.”She knows firsthand. The UW–Madison life sciences communication major grew up on a farm in Thorp, Wis., that raised pigs and beef cattle. She was a proud member of the Future Farmers of America and still has her blue corduroy jacket to prove it.
After more than 20 years, trade officials in Japan announced the country reopened its borders to lamb and beef exports from the United Kingdom, which is estimated to be worth more than $146 million in the next five years. The ban was imposed in 1996, after bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in UK cattle. The agreement, effective Jan. 10, follows years of negotiations between the two countries and multiple inspection visits by Japan’s officials, including a 2018 inspection visit hosted by the UK Export Certification Partnership, Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland, DAERA and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.
New cattle barns and an unfinished milking facility, which were part of the Ohio prison farm system and brought to a close when Ohio Gov. John Kasich decided to sell the farms in 2016, were more costly than first realized. The state-owned farms were operated by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, along with the Ohio Penal Industries, and used inmate labor to produce food for the prisoners. A report by the Ohio Inspector Generalshows that the new facilities cost the state a little more than $13 million, compared to roughly $8.6 million spent on the buildings. The larger amount comes from interest, because the bonds were not paid off from the sale of prison farms.“None of the bond payments for the London and Marion barns were paid from these income sources — or from the Ohio Penal Industries budget,” according to the investigation. “Therefore, state of Ohio taxpayers will ultimately pay the estimated $13 million in principal and interest on the bonds issued for ODRC’s dairy improvement projects.”
While Americans consumed nearly 37 pounds per capita in 2017, it was not enough to reduce the country’s 1.4 billion-pound cheese surplus, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The glut, which at 900,000 cubic yards is the largest in U.S. history, means that there is enough cheese sitting in cold storage to wrap around the U.S. Capitol. The stockpile started to build several years ago, in large part because the pace of milk production began to exceed the rates of consumption, says Andrew Novakovic, professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University. Over the past 10 years, milk production has increased by 13 percent because of high prices. But what dairy farmers failed to realize was that Americans are drinking less milk. According to data from the USDA, Americans drank just 149 pounds of milk per capita in 2017, down from 247 pounds in 1975.