Insurance and Hay Stocks Help Some, But Crops are Lost and Cattle Being Sold. Mark Watne, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, has been touring parts of western North Dakota this past week to talk to producers about the farm bill. The farther north and west, the worst the conditions are for farmers and ranchers, he said."It's a crisis. It's way more than people think. I've driven through areas where you would expect to see a spindly wheat stand, but there's no crop left -- it's gone," Watne said. "It's almost hard to tell what they did out there."Driving through South Dakota, nearly every open roadside ditch along state highways is now baled. Most cattle producers in western North Dakota have seen their pastures dry up and there is little hay in the area. Any bare nook or cranny -- or piece of grass -- is getting cut up for hay.USDA has opened up the Conservation Reserve Program for haying, but there are growing complaints that landowners are charging exorbitant prices for hay coming off that CRP ground. "I've heard some of those complaints," Watne said.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is investigating about two dozen complaints from farmers about the weed killer dicamba. Dicamba is used on soybean fields that have been genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide. But Minnesota farmers have joined hundreds in the southern U.S. who allege that drifting dicamba hurts non-resistant fields.
As commodity prices remain low and rural economies struggle, farmers and rural citizens need a strong safety net to stay afloat until conditions improve.However, the budget proposals from the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives do not address that need. The House Budget Committee recently released its 2018 budget proposal, which called for a $10 billion cut in programs under the control of the House Agriculture Committee. And the 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, released by the Congressional Budget Office, called for $8.5 billion less in agriculture funding than the 2017 fiscal year enacted level. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to eliminate its undersecretary position for rural development. We are deeply concerned about these changes.
Plenty, a San Francisco vertical farming start-up, has raised $200m from big-name investors that include Japanese media giant SoftBank, Alphabet's Eric Schmidt and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
Ask advocates of marijuana legalization how their cause fared during the 2017 state legislative sessions and they’ll tell you that though the gains were incremental, they’re hopeful that several legislatures will eventually make possession and sale of the federally prohibited drug legal. Ask the same of people who oppose legalization and they’ll say it’s been a banner year — they choked efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in many statehouses and stalled implementation of pot sales in at least one other.Lawmakers in at least 23 states considered legislation to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana this year and 16 states weighed bills to establish medical marijuana programs.But even as public support for marijuana continues to grow, few of those measures survived. That’s in part because many lawmakers are concerned that the Trump administration may begin strict enforcement of federal drug laws, political analysts say. Many legislators are also beholden to conservative supporters and face little political pressure to sign off on marijuana legislation, the analysts say.
Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay, said he’s amenable to negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement but hopes the talks proceed with caution. “It’s put a lot of money in the farmers’ pockets in the U.S. and Canada, so let’s be sure to continue down that path,” MacAulay said. “If you’re going to fix something that’s in good shape, be careful.”MacAulay stopped in Portland July 24 for the annual summit of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a non-profit created by five American states and five Canadian provinces.NAFTA is top of mind in agriculture these days, with negotiations over the agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico set to begin Aug. 16-20 in Washington, D.C.After meeting with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, MacAulay sees an ally who’s also supportive of the strong trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada.
Although it's not clear from the report that beef industry expansion has come to a grinding halt, it does suggest expansion interest is waning. For example, the number of beef heifers being held by producers for herd replacement on July 1st was 2 percent smaller than in 2015 and, when expressed as a percentage of the beef cow inventory totaled just 14.5 percent. In contrast, when the beef industry was expanding rapidly this ratio climbed above 15 percent. Additionally, the ratio of female (cow and heifer) slaughter relative to steer slaughter has been above a year ago 5 out of the last six months, the exception occurring in February. The increase in female relative to steer slaughter suggests herd expansion has slowed, if it has not actually come to a complete halt. USDA's Cattle on Feed report confirmed that the on feed inventory remains well above last year. Early in 2017 the on feed inventory was very near a year earlier, but net placements on feed have been substantially above the prior year every month except February. The placement build-up means that, despite a good marketing pace throughout 2017, pushed the on feed inventory up with a July 1 inventory that was 4.5 percent above the prior year. The combination of a larger cattle on feed inventory and larger placements both point to fed cattle marketings during the last half of 2017 remaining above 2016's.
On Tuesday, July 18, a bill to delay the compliance date of the ELD (electronic logging device rule) for two years to December 2019, was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives and referred to the House Appropriation's Subcommittee on Transportation. The bill asks the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to consider delaying the implementation of ELD, giving owner-operators two additional years to switch from paper logs to an electronic logging device. The ELD rule is intended to create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage and share records of duty status (RODS) data. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording. FMCSA notes that drivers not required to use ELD, unless they so choose, include drivers who use paper logs no more than eight days during any 30-day period, "driveaway-towaway" drivers (transporting an empty vehicle for sale, lease, or repair), and drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.
Most of us don’t spend our days plowing fields or wrangling cattle. We’re part of the 99 percent of Americans who eat food, but don’t produce it. Because of our intimate relationship with food, and because it's so crucial to our health and the environment, people should be very concerned about how it’s produced. But we don’t always get it right. Next time you’re at the grocery store, consider these 10 modern myths about the most ancient occupation. 1. Most farms are corporate-owned - truth = Nearly 99 percent of U.S. farms are family-owned. 2. Food is expensive. Americans spend a considerably smaller percentage of their income on food than they did in the 1960s. 4. A pesticide is a pesticide is a pesticide. Truth-Pesticides fight bugs and weeds in organic and conventional fields. The difference is that organic pesticides cannot be synthesized artificially. This does not necessarily mean they are less toxic.
Visit any dog park in urban Canada these days and you’re bound to encounter at least one or two: rescue dogs adopted from an exotic foreign or domestic locale.It’s estimated, in fact, that tens of thousands of winsome canine refugees enter the country every year — while many others are shipped vast distances inside Canada.But the growing, humanitarian-motivated trend is inadvertently creating a major public-health headache, fuelling a rebound in the deadly rabies problem and importing other nasty diseases, public health officials warn.A federal-government journal has just documented three recent cases of stray puppies being taken from Nunavut or northern Quebec — where the deadly disease is endemic among Arctic foxes — to new homes in southern Canada, only for the owners to discover they had acquired rabid animals. Meanwhile, as dogs stream in from the Caribbean, Latin America, east Asia and the Middle East, Canada’s pet-import rules are among the loosest in the world, vets say. “There are thousands upon thousands of dogs that come into Canada every year, and it’s a completely unregulated process,” said Scott Weese, Canada research chair in zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases at the Ontario Veterinary College. “Animals aren’t supposed make it into the country if they’re sick, but we see it all the time.”