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Agriculture News

Hours of Service waiver for ag haulers

Brownfield Ag News | Posted on March 21, 2018

An hours-of-service waiver has been put in place for agriculture haulers for 90-days. The waiver, issued by U.S. Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, gives that agency more time to release guidance on regulations related to agriculture.

Canadian beef producers applaud signature of CPTPP Agreement

Beef Producer | Posted on March 21, 2018

International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne gathered with his counterparts from 10 other countries March 8, 2018 in Santiago, Chile to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), also referred to as TPP11. Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) Vice President David Haywood-Farmer, a beef farmer from Savona, British Columbia, was present to witness the signing. Haywood-Farmer congratulates the Government of Canada for joining the new trade agreement, which provides beef producers with competitive access to Japan, Vietnam and other dynamic markets in the Asia-Pacific region. “This is an extremely positive development for Canada’s entire beef sector,” said Haywood-Farmer. “The CCA is very proud to have been a principal advocate for resurrecting the market access provisions of the TPP. I applaud and thank Minister Champagne and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay for their diligence and leadership in achieving this landmark agreement,” he said.

Court finds Foster Farms liable for $2 million of $6.5 million salmonella verdict

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 21, 2018

In a precedent-setting food safety case, an Arizona federal court jury on March 1 returned a verdict in the amount of $6.5 million in favor of a 5-and-a-half-year-old child who suffered a brain injury in 2013 as a result of a Salmonella Heidelberg infection from what was believed to be chicken produced by Foster Poultry Farms.

FDA report on antibiotics sold for use in “food-producing animals”

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 21, 2018

The report has been out for a couple of months, but I am just not seeing the press that it should have generated. Is that because the never-ever, organic, cage free and anti-CAFO groups have nothing to crow about? For the very first time since FDA started tracking sales in 2009, there was a drop; and not a small one either. The sales of medically important antibiotics, those used in both human and animal health, dropped 14 percent!Shouldn't there be a headline or two about this change? And this was for the year 2016, not 2017 when Guidance 213 went into effect. Sales of not medically important antibiotics — those that are never used in human medicine — accounted for 40 percent of total sales. Again.And these not important antibiotics are included when the anti-ag crowd says 80 percent of all antibiotic sales are to healthy animals and we will all die because of it.  

Bayer wins EU approval for $62.5 billion Monsanto buy

Reuters | Posted on March 21, 2018

German conglomerate Bayer won EU antitrust approval for its $62.5 billion buy of U.S. peer Monsanto, the latest in a trio of mega mergers that will reshape the agrochemicals industry.

Syngenta Agrees to Pay More Than $1.4 Billion in Corn Accord

Bloomberg | Posted on March 15, 2018

Syngenta AG agreed to pay more than $1.4 billion to U.S. farmers who complained that the marketing of the company’s genetically modified corn seeds shut them out of the Chinese market, according to people familiar with the deal. The settlement with more than 100,000 farmers was announced Tuesday in a Minnesota class-action trial. It resolves all farmers’ litigation in the U.S. but doesn’t include Canadian lawsuits, according to Paul Minehart, a Syngenta spokesman. Minehart wouldn’t confirm the amount of the settlement, saying the terms will be made public when the deal is presented to a judge.The pact resulted from months of negotiations between a four-lawyer team representing farmers and Syngenta’s attorneys, according to the people familiar, who said they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the settlement. Syngenta halted the trial involving about 22,000 Minnesota farmers to announce the deal. Those farmers were seeking more than $400 million in damages over their corn losses.

Farm-income losses hurting Midwestern states’ budgets; no turnaround for sector in sight

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 15, 2018

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that real gross domestic product increased 2.3 percent nationally between 2016 and 2017, but agriculture subtracted from overall economic growth in every state in the Midwest — most notably Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. “It’s a big deal in Nebraska when our farmers are hurting,” says Tony Fulton, the state’s tax commissioner and a former state legislator. Last year, Nebraska had to close a nearly $1 billion shortfall for the biennium that began July 1, and lagging tax collections opened an additional $200 million shortfall.States whose agricultural economies are tied more to dairy haven’t had as many highs and lows over the past decade, says Mark Stephenson, an economist with the University of Wisconsin. Still, the dairy industry is clearly facing struggles as well. Federal court data shows the Western District of Wisconsin, which covers more than half the geographic area of the state, had 28 Chapter 12 (family farm) bankruptcy filings in 2017, the highest number in the country. The Eastern District of Wisconsin had 17 cases and the Minnesota District had 19. Farmers are trying various ways to make it through this difficult period — for example, planting more niche and organic crops, accepting wind turbines on their property, relying on off-farm income, or raising chickens or hogs on contract (this latter strategy, though, requires taking out loans of up to $1 million). According to Jay Rempe, an economist for the Nebraska Farm Bureau, a growth in livestock processing also should help stabilize the agriculture sector.

Farm to pharma: This story at a glance

Stat News | Posted on March 15, 2018

On the night before his weekly trip into the slaughterhouse, Fraser Taylor stepped into the back of the truck to make sure everything was in place. The hold still smelled faintly of cow — a subtle whiff of something grassy — but the equipment inside seemed better suited to a day of spelunking through the sewers. There were hard hats and hoses and straps. There were huge conical tanks, and a valve-laden contraption that might come in handy for siphoning off the contents of pipes. The truck itself was white. It bore no sign of the company it belonged to or the strange journey it was about to take. If they didn’t get onto the floor before the cattle started coming by, there would no way to load their equipment in, and they would get none of the precious liquid they’d come to collect.It’s a substance that most meat processing plants hardly think about: Just another fluid in the fluid-filled business of turning an animal into a side of beef. But Taylor would panic if he saw any spill on the slaughterhouse floor — those lost drops could have saved babies’ lives.This small firm had carefully courted slaughterhouses so that its workers could be allowed inside to suck this off-white foam out of cow lungs. Then, they purified the hell out of it, and shipped vials of it across Canada, and to India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Ecuador, and Iran, where it was shot into the lungs of struggling premature infants. Preemies’ lungs, like the rest of them, aren’t quite ready for birth, and some — almost all of those born very early — haven’t started producing this foam themselves. It’s called pulmonary surfactant, and without it, their air sacs could collapse. In the 1980s, doctors had tried squirting surfactant collected from other creatures in through the tiny nostrils and mouths of babies with respiratory distress syndrome, while also putting them on ventilators. The transformation was immediate: Newborns went from blue to pink. Their chests filled with air.

How Sensitive is the Farm Sector’s Ability to Repay Debt to Rising Interest Rates?

Choices magazine | Posted on March 15, 2018

Recent farm sector trends, including rising debt and declining income, have led to comparisons between agriculture’s current economic environment and the period leading up to the farm financial crisis. Between 1970 and 1980, inflation-adjusted farm sector debt grew rapidly, expanding by 5.6% annually. Over the most recent decade, inflation-adjusted farm sector debt was still climbing an average of 4% per year, and the USDA currently projects inflation-adjusted debt to be at its highest level since the early 1980s. After inflation-adjusted net farm income declined nearly 50% between 1973 and 1979, a sharp rise in interest rates in the late 1970s—as well as other factors—led to a wave of financial stress in many agricultural sectors. As of 2016, net farm income has also declined by 50% from its 2013 peak, and a rising interest rate environment is expected as the Federal Reserve transitions toward tighter monetary policy. In the 1980s, the concurrent trends of higher debt, lower income, and rising interest rates combined with other factors to increase farm debt repayment challenges. This article considers whether today’s rising interest rate environment could also lead to increased farm sector repayment risk. Analyzing the impact of several interest rate path scenarios on farm repayment risk suggests that the sector remains well positioned to handle interest rate increases within a likely range. However, farmers starting from a worse financial position and farmers with a larger share of variable-rate debt may face greater financial stress.

Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America

USDA | Posted on March 14, 2018

The Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America provides statistics by broad categories of socioeconomic factors: People: Demographic data from the American Community Survey (ACS), including age, race and ethnicity, migration and immigration, education, household size, and family composition.Jobs: Economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, including information on employment trends, unemployment, and industrial composition of employment from the ACS.County classifications: The rural-urban continuum, economic dependence, persistent poverty, persistent child poverty, population loss, onshore oil/natural gas counties, and other ERS county typology codes.Income: Data on median household income, per capita income, and poverty (including child poverty).Veterans: Data on veterans, including service period, education, unemployment, income, and demographic characteristics.