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Agriculture News

When it matters most, the industry pulls together to help pet owners and their pets through disaster.

Pet Food Industry | Posted on September 14, 2017

“Pet store and veterinary hospital groups, manufacturers and distributors, and associations and organizations within the pet industry are pooling their resources and working with lead disaster and shelter officials to coordinate the logistics of providing much-needed supplies, including sharing warehouses, facilities and distribution centers for storage until affected areas can be accessed,” said the Pet Leadership Council. “They are also tapping resources to help provide vehicles and helicopters to assist with evacuations and providing financial assistance to rescue organizations.”

Dairy Processors Stretched by Milk Production Gains

edairynews | Posted on September 14, 2017

Every year, U.S. dairy farmers produce 3 billion more pounds of milk than the year before. For the past few years, production growth has outpaced processing capacity growth and dairy processors are struggling to keep pace. As a result, “Dairy processors are faced with the challenge of handling an ever-growing milk supply, while anticipating the right product mix to meet consumer demand,” said Ben Laine, senior dairy economist at CoBank. “An additional 27 billion pounds of U.S. milk processing capacity will be needed over the next 10 years if current trends persist.”Numerous new plants and plant expansion projects are underway or recently completed, but available capacity remains a challenge at times — especially in the Northeast and Mideast areas — and has strained the ability of dairy cooperatives to fill the role of market balancers. Since these co-ops largely bear the brunt of the near-term oversupply of milk, they are increasingly looking for ways to discourage producers from expanding production.

NAFTA talks spark deep divide in American agriculture

CNN | Posted on September 13, 2017

A group of mostly southeastern U.S. farmers want a major change to NAFTA, which they say has hurt them. But a separate coalition of farmers and industry leaders are vehemently opposed to the agriculture overhaul, saying it's bad for business. The thorny debate illustrates how NAFTA's winners and losers have been defined along fine lines, from one farm to another. The key issue for some U.S. farmers is proving whether Mexican or Canadian growers are selling tomatoes, blueberries, avocados and other products at a price well below the average price tag. A group of mostly southeastern U.S. farmers want a major change to NAFTA, which they say has hurt them. But a separate coalition of farmers and industry leaders are vehemently opposed to the agriculture overhaul, saying it's bad for business.The thorny debate illustrates how NAFTA's winners and losers have been defined along fine lines, from one farm to another.

Estate tax debated to death

DTN | Posted on September 13, 2017

While the political focus of the estate tax is on farmers and ranchers, few producers pay the estate tax. USDA's Economic Research Service studied the issue earlier this year and concluded 1.7% of farm estates in 2016 had to file an estate-tax return. Of that group, 0.42% are estimated to owe any taxes. ERS estimated farm estates paid $344 million in taxes for 2016. "It impacts hardly any farmer, and in fact it impacts hardly any people across the U.S., far less than 1%," said Roger Johnson, president of NFU. "They are the wealthiest among us. If you have got $11 million in net assets, you can move them free and clear to the next generation. It's only beyond that do you have any sort of issues." The exemption is $10.98 million for a farm couple. Farms can also take advantage of special valuations as well when determining the fair market value of estates.

Is There Really Too Much Milk?

edairynews | Posted on September 12, 2017

Milk futures have taken a beating over the past month with prices experiencing very few days of higher closes. Technically, futures should be about ready to rebound in price retracing some of the losses experienced during that period of time.The bottom line is that there is just too much milk and product out there to warrant much higher prices. Yes, prices could increase to some extent and hopefully we will experience Class III futures back to $17.00 again before the end of the year, but there is significant lost ground to regain. Summer weather is now basically behind us and with it any impact from sustained hot weather. The next item on the horizon is holiday and end of the year demand. That certainly can reduce inventory and available fresh supply, but we much remember that milk continues to be produced every day and demand must exceed supply in order to reduce inventory. If the current trend remains intact, we will end this year with higher levels of cheese in inventory than last year. This would make it the fourth consecutive year of higher inventory at the end of the year for total cheese and the fifth consecutive year for American cheese.

Texas and Florida Farmers: Time to Face Crop Loss

OFW Law | Posted on September 12, 2017

It will take months to calculate the damage Hurricanes Harvey and Irma unleashed this summer on the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida: dozens of lost lives, hundreds of thousands of destroyed homes, tens of billions in property damage and untold suffering and disruption. Some losses will take years to mend, some can never be mended at all. For farmers, once conditions clear enough to inspect fields, a first order will be to assess losses to their crops. For many, this disaster, as bad as it was, could have been worse.  Texas farmers had been anticipating records crops in 2017 before the storm struck.  About 75 percent of rice and 15 percent of cotton was harvested or ready for harvest.  Cotton modules already dotted many fields.  But much remained exposed, and Harvey’s fierce winds and unprecedented 30-plus inch rains wreaked havoc on rural infrastructure.  Cotton gins and rice storage facilities suffered on a wide scale, potentially blocking many crops from reaching markets even if they survived the immediate hit.

With ‘Ag-Gag’ Struck Down In Utah, Animal Rights Groups Set Sights On The Midwest

Harvest Public Media | Posted on September 12, 2017

Expect challenges in the Midwest to so-called “ag-gag” laws, laws that criminalize certain forms of data collection and recording on farms and ranches, after a series of challenges have left Utah’s law permanently struck down and Wyoming’s on shaky ground. On Wednesday, the Utah attorney general’s office said it would not appeal a federal judge’s decision to strike down the state’s law as unconstitutional, effectively killing the legislation.“[Ag-gag] laws in states like Iowa and Kansas are crying out for a challenge at this point,” says University of Denver law professor Justin Marceau, one of the attorneys representing animal rights groups in the Utah case.Animal rights groups emboldened by the Utah decision -- like the Animal Legal Defense Fund and People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals -- are already preparing challenges to ag-gag statutes in at least two more states, Marceau says.Ag-gag laws were borne out of farmers’ and ranchers’ frustrations with animal rights activists surreptitiously recording video of purported abuse and then publishing the video for public consumption. Because the undercover agents are often legitimately hired by farms and ranches, the targeted farmers didn’t have legal recourse once the videos surfaced. By criminalizing the collection of images without consent, the animal activists are suddenly opened up to potential charges.Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, North Carolina and Alabama all have some form of an ag-gag law currently on the books.

Monsanto Challenges Arkansas Ban, Praises Indiana's RUP Move

DTN | Posted on September 12, 2017

 Monsanto showed what it will tolerate, and what it won't tolerate, when it comes to states' reactions to the 2017 season's unprecedented dicamba drift damage complaints. The St. Louis-based company on Thursday said it has filed an aggressive petition to the Arkansas State Plant Board, demanding it reject the state's proposed in-season ban on dicamba herbicides within 30 days or risk legal action.That response contrasts with the company's newly announced take on actions in Indiana. The state recently said it is completing the process to make dicamba a restricted use pesticide, keeping the herbicide available in 2018, albeit with restrictions on purchasing and use. Monsanto indicated it was now supportive of that restriction and similar actions in Missouri and Tennessee.

Farm size matters when it comes to profit

Farm and Dairy | Posted on September 12, 2017

But when it comes to the profitability and survival of Pennsylvania farms, size apparently matters, according to a report compiled by economists in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Theodore Alter, professor of agricultural, environmental and regional economics, and Theodore Fuller, development economist, both in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, co-authored the report, Pennsylvania Agriculture: Where the Action Is! Incorporating data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture — the most recent available — the researchers looked at farm size and farm incomes, with an eye toward determining what classes of farms can better weather low commodity prices, which have fallen sharply since the census was completed. A close look at Pennsylvania farms in 2012 suggests that farm incomes are closely linked to farm size,” said Fuller. About nine of every 10 mega-farms and large farms — 92 and 88 percent, respectively — had a gain in net income, and 68 percent of medium farms did as well. On the other hand, only 23 percent of small farms saw their net income rise. The economists also looked at the relationship between productivity and farm size, and they found that mega-farms and large farms outpaced medium and small farms on three key productivity measures in 2012. Farm expenses as a percent of product sales told a similar story. Expenses were 76 percent and 73 percent of sales for mega-farms and large farms, respectively.Medium farms’ expenses represented 92 percent of sales, and small farms had expenses that were 344 percent of sales, fueling their negative net cash income.

Herbicide rotation ineffective against resistance in waterhemp

University of Illinois | Posted on September 12, 2017

Farmers have been battling herbicide-resistant weeds for generations. A common practice for most of that time has been to rotate between different herbicides every season. But despite farmers’ best efforts, herbicide resistance has grown through the years, with some weed populations showing resistance to not one but four or five different herbicides. A new study from the University of Illinois explains why herbicide rotation doesn’t work.