An Ohio Department of Agriculture spokesman has disputed an activist group’s claim that the state agency has for 15 years lacked legal authority to issue or enforce permits for more than 200 livestock facilities large enough to be classified as concentrated animal feeding operations. “ODA’s priority has and will continue to be to operate a thorough and reasonable permitting program that protects Ohio’s natural resources while allowing agriculture to remain productive,” spokesman Brett B. Gates said.He said the department will continue to exercise its permitting authority, as designated by state and federal law. He called assertions made by Toledo-based Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie “just a repeat of previous statements and litigation, which was ultimately dismissed by the U.S. District Court for being ‘completely devoid of merit.’”
Since 2012, China has become the predominant market for U.S. agriculture exports, accounting for 16% of U.S. agriculture export value in 2016. The value of exports to China increased 25.6% per year from 2002 to 2013 and added $23.4 billion to the U.S. agricultural export market over this time period. Exports to China in 2014 and 2015 declined slightly but began to rebound in 2016. In 2016, the four largest export markets for U.S. agricultural commodities and products—China, Canada, Mexico, and Japan—accounted for 52% of U.S. agriculture export sales (USDA, 2017a). Strong growth in U.S. exports to China reflects significant changes in China’s domestic policies, which have created a more market-oriented economy with market-determined prices, and changing consumer preferences as incomes increased. China’s policies on trade, domestic agriculture, and food security have greatly affected trade with the United States. In China, strong income growth, increasing urbanization, an emerging middle class, and growing concerns about food safety have meant more diverse U.S. exports, including greater numbers of valued-added products. The greatest growth in U.S. exports to China has been in commodities that do not conflict with China’s domestic policies for maintaining self-sufficiency and are in short supply. The best example is soybeans, which are needed for China’s expanding livestock industry. Hides and skins also pose no threat to China’s local industry. Consumer demand is strong for new products, especially those perceived to be healthy and have passed U.S. food safety regulations, particularly among higher income households in urban areas. Dairy imports, for example, increased after China’s melamine food safety issue in 2008.
Arla Foods, a Europe-based cheesemaker with a plant in the Fox Valley, has been sued over a $30 million advertising campaign that — the plaintiff says — casts bovine growth hormone rbST in an unfavorable light. In a lawsuit filed recently in U.S. District Court in Green Bay, Eli Lilly Elanco US of Indianapolis alleges that Arla’s campaign perpetuates false claims that rbST — which promotes milk production in cows — is dangerous.Elanco markets rbST — recombinant bovine somatotropin — under the brand name Posilac. In its complaint, Elanco seeks an “immediate stop to a false and disparaging advertising campaign” by Arla Foods Inc. USA, based in New Jersey.“Arla’s assault on rbST’s safety is anything but subtle. In the 30-second television commercial that is the centerpiece of the campaign, Arla depicts rbST as an enormous, six-eyed monster with razor-sharp horns and electrified fur,” the lawsuit says.“Arla reinforces the core message, that rbST is dangerous, through an extensive, internet-based social media campaign that amplifies and repeats the commercial’s key images and messages,” the suit says.Arla says it is the fourth-largest dairy company in the world. In Wisconsin, it has a cheese plant in Kaukauna, near Appleton, that makes havarti, Gouda, Muenster and fontina products.Elanco says the ads depicting rbST as “weird stuff” and a six-eyed monster “intentionally frighten and mislead consumers" in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage.
Mexico announced plans to invest $30 million in a Guatemalan milk plant, aiming to increase employment in its neighbor and reduce the outflow of migrants. The plant will be built in Escuintla, 31 miles (50 kilometers) outside of Guatemala City. A representative of Guatemala's foreign ministry told The Associated Press that the plant will generate at least 4,000 new jobs. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said cross-border commitment is particularly important for efficient trade and migration. Tens of thousands of Guatemalan immigrants cross the Mexican border each year in a bid to reach the United States.
Tim Mueller has raised corn and soybeans on 530 acres near the city of Columbus, Nebraska, for decades, but today he is planning to take a big gamble.The big box retailer Costco is building a new chicken processing plant in Fremont, about an hour from Mueller’s farm. The company plans for the plant to slaughter 2 million birds per week. To raise all those chickens, the company is recruiting about 120 farmers to sign on as contract poultry farmers. Mueller wants in. But to do that, he plans to take out a massive $2 million loan to finance the construction of four chicken barns.As pork and poultry production grows in the U.S., this is an increasingly common arrangement. Farmers sign multi-million dollar deals to do business with big corporations. The company provides animals and feed. The farmer builds the barns and cares for the animals. It requires a major investment from the farmers who enter into the agreement and hope the investment will pay off.We walk out of Mueller’s home and down a gravel driveway about 50 yards to the corner of a cornfield speckled with young, green corn stalks. This plot of land is where he wants to build as many as 12 new chicken barns, with room for a total of 180,000 birds. That would require about $6 million of loans. Makes me a little more diversified, brings some extra income in,” says Mueller. “Every farmer needs extra income.”Mueller has never raised chickens, except for backyard birds. But like many farmers, the chance for steady income when grain prices are down, as they are now, has grabbed his attention. Also, he says, adding chickens would help two of his sons come back to the business.“Bringing the boys back to the farm is huge for me,” Mueller says. “I’m not a big enough farmer to where another family could farm and do corn and soybeans and survive. This way they can.”
With nearly 25 percent of the state in a moderate drought, cattle ranchers are selling more livestock. As a result, Kist Livestock Auction is seeing from 1,000 to 1,300 more heads going to sale than usual for this time of year, according to Matt Lachenmeier, a fieldman at the Mandan business.The drought conditions, coupled with a depleted hay supply from the tough winter, have left ranchers without feed and with little hope for a good hay crop this summer.“The conditions are pretty severe in much of the state,” said Julie Ellingson, executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association. “Hay crops look to be poor, or, in some cases, no crop.”Cattle being auctioned are from a widespread area and other sales barns in the state are seeing similar increases, according to Lachenmeier.According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the state has had less-than-average precipitation during the past three months, with portions of central and south-central North Dakota receiving only 25 percent and 50 percent of normal precipitation during this period. Spring so far has been the seventh driest on record in Bismarck.
Agriculture today is a high-tech business, but as that technology has developed, so has the temptation to take shortcuts and steal trade secrets that could unlock huge profits. The FBI calls agricultural economic espionage "a growing threat" and some are worried that biotech piracy can spell big trouble for a dynamic and growing U.S. industry. Intellectual property is often hard to protect, no matter what form it takes: films, books, consumer products. The technology used in our food system, however, presents a unique challenge.
Theft of intellectual property costs the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars each year, according to a recent report from the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, a Washington, D.C.-based ad-hoc panel formed to study intellectual property theft. China, the authors say, is the biggest offender.
The Quapaw tribe plans this summer to open a processing plant near Miami, Okla., for bison and cattle. The tribe began raising bison in 2010 and now has a herd of 160. It launched cattle and bee-raising programs in 2014 as part of a farm-to-table initiative that also includes greenhouses and eventually could add poultry, the paper reported. The tribe owns 500 head of cattle that graze on 1,500 acres throughout Ottawa County.
FDA announced its intention to extend the compliance dates for agricultural water requirements in the Produce Safety Rule (other than for sprouts). According to the announcement, FDA intends to use this additional time to work with industry to develop an approach that addresses stakeholder concerns while achieving the Agency’s enumerated public health goals. FDA intends to extend the compliance dates using appropriate administrative procedures at a later time.
The Texas Department of Agriculture has partnered with KRFE AM 580 in Lubbock for a new weekly radio show, Texas Agriculture Matters. This show will air throughout the week — on Tuesdays and Fridays — on KRFE and will feature the latest news about what’s happening at TDA and in our ag industry. The show will also help listeners learn more about TDA in our Did You Know and GO TEXAN segments. Each week, you’ll hear from a special guest who will sit down with our host, Rick Rhodes. Rhodes is a longtime member of TDA’s team and currently serves as TDA’s administrator for the Office of Rural Affairs. Be sure to tune into KRFE AM 580 in Lubbock to hear each episode of Texas Agriculture Matters. The show will air at 1:25 p.m. on Tuesdays and just after 6 p.m. on Fridays.