Washington lawmakers have raised fees to save the Department of Agriculture's brand program, settling for now an issue that divided the cattle industry for two years. While beef cattlemen's groups endorse the new fees, the outcome disappointed the Washington State Dairy Federation.The fee for inspecting branded cattle to verify ownership will increase by 10% to $1.21 per head.The fee for inspecting cows that haven't been branded or fitted with a certain type of electronic tag will increase by 150% to $4 per head. So-called "unidentified" cows are common on dairies.The higher fee presumably will motivate dairy farmers to identify their cows, a goal of animal-health officials.Dairy federation policy director Jay Gordon said that's OK, but the fees aren't going to help trace diseases. Instead, the money will support an asset-protection program "our guys don't want, don't need, don't use," he said Friday.
"I've got to make $16 (per 100 pounds, or 11.6 gallons of milk) just to break even,” Dwight Raber said, as he turned the pages on a printed report that details daily production of the farm’s 235 cows. “Right now, I’m at $13.89, and it’s been that way for two years.” In Raber’s younger days, a cow that produced 100 pounds of milk a day was a herd superstar. These days, that’s almost the average. Large-scale dairy farms and low milk prices have forced Raber to find new ways to keep the bills paid and their farms operating.Raber added beef cattle to the farm to supplement the dairy portion. But even so, he has come to the conclusion that he just can’t make a living at it anymore.So, at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Raber will sell his herd of dairy cows and much of the equipment he has accumulated through the years.
Indiana lawmakers on Thursday defeated a controversial power plant moratorium aimed at preserving in-state coal generators, but the language could resurface later in the legislative session. State lawmakers voted 53-38 to remove Amendment 7 from Senate Bill 472. The amendment would have halted utility purchases or construction of generation assets 250 MW or larger until 2021. Debate over the generation moratorium corresponded with a lobbying campaign by out-of-state coal interests that supply fuel to Indiana generators. Utilities, which plan to retire their aging coal generators in favor of cheaper gas and renewables, have opposed the moratorium.
The survival of thousands of smaller dairy farmers rides on the success of the latest program designed to save them as dairy farmers right now continue going out of business at a rapid clip.Struggling dairy farmers and their bankers are being told to just hold on until this summer when USDA will finally be ready to sign up dairy producers for the Dairy Margin Coverage program.“This program isn’t perfect, but it’s the best thing that we’ve had in dairy in a long time,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. “It will keep these small guys in business, and that’s the purpose of it.”
Approximately 2.4 billion people live in water-scarce regions. Driven by population growth, rising consumption, urbanization, and energy needs, demand for water continues to increase. According to a new report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a combination of careful management strategies, technological innovations, investments, and policies are imperative to address the challenges of water scarcity.
Just over a year ago, on March 1, 2018, President Trump announced that he was using existing authorities to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. This was the first in a series of actions taken by the Administration on trade that included a significant conflict with China. In Part I of this two-part series, we review the trade conflict after one year including retaliation of trading partner countries, impact on agricultural exports, and reaction in commodity prices.Among all retaliating countries, China has responded with the most expansive list of retaliatory tariffs on imports from the U.S. More than 800 U.S. products, including almost all U.S. agricultural and food exports to China, are subject to additional tariffs of 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, or a combination of these tariff levels. Canada, Mexico, Turkey, and the EU have each levied tariffs on between 8% and 14% of U.S. agricultural and food exports.
Some dairy farmers are eyeing federal supply management as a way to stabilize the industry amid four years of low prices, but not everyone sees limiting production as a savior. We’ve got part two of our dairy policy deep dive.
A major milestone for the apple industry was reached this spring in a remote New Zealand orchard: the world’s first commercial robotic harvest. The harvest started in February and will end in late April or May in one of New Zealand’s largest orchards, T&G Global, with a machine built and operated by Abundant Robotics of Hayward, Calif.Using robots to replace human pickers has been a decades-long dream of the apple industry. Robots can save millions of dollars in labor costs and alleviate picker shortages that have forced many orchards to hire expensive foreign guestworkers. Just last year, Washington state’s $2.5 billion apple industry hired 24,862 guestworkers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced the availability of $1 million in cooperative agreement funding to support animal disease traceability (ADT) and electronic identification for cattle. According to APHIS, the money will fund between two and five projects that are designed to help USDA increase the accuracy, efficiency and cost effectiveness of collecting key pieces of traceability information while also supporting the cattle industry’s management and marketing needs. These projects will document how to link ultra-high frequency (UHF) back tags with other identification devices to collect animal movement and disease program data while still maintaining the speed of commerce. Back tags are used extensively in livestock markets, and the agency said it needs to learn more about how adding radio-frequency identification functionality will support traceability in these high-volume, fast-paced environments. The projects will gather important real-world data to help USDA, states, tribes and industry advance ADT and implement electronic identification.
Tests of Europe's rivers and canals have revealed more than 100 pesticides -- including 24 that are not licensed for use in the EU. The study, which tested samples from 29 waterways in 10 countries including the UK, also found 21 veterinary drugs.Every river and canal screened in the study -- from countries as far apart as Poland and Spain -- contained multiple pesticides, and most contained veterinary drugs.The scientists, from Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter, said the highest levels of contamination were found in a Belgian canal that contained 70 pesticides.In 13 of the 29 waterways, concentrations of at least one pesticide exceeded European standards for acceptable levels.