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Agriculture News

Oregon's second largest dairy wins state OK, still needs water rights

Oregon Live | Posted on April 5, 2017

The development of what would be Oregon's second-largest dairy received approval from state agencies, despite an unprecedented amount of controversy and public concern about effects on business and the environment. The Oregon Department of Agriculture issued a permit with more stringent groundwater monitoring requirements than ever before, but environmental and small-farm advocacy groups say that the requirements don't go far enough to protect the environment. Lost Valley Ranch will eventually house 30,000 cows, grow crops to feed them and process a huge amount of manure on 7,288 acres where an iconic poplar tree farm currently sits near Boardman. The ranch's owner bought the land in January 2016 from GreenWood Resources for $65 million. Lost Valley Ranch is planned to be second in size to Threemile Canyon Farms, which has 70,000 animals on land about 30 minutes away.

Investigation Into TB in South Dakota Cattle Herd Continues

WNAX | Posted on April 5, 2017

South Dakota Board of Animal Health officials are continuing to investigate the discovery of bovine tuberculosis in a cattle herd in Harding County. Since February, 41 infected animals have been found. South Dakota State Veterinarian Dr. Dustin Oedekoven says a cow calf herd was quarantined in February after Bovine TB was found and traced back from a routine inspection at a slaughter plant of cull cows in Nebraska. He says the South Dakota Board of Animal Health is working with the USDA and the herd owner on how to dispose of the herd. Oedekoven says the Bovine TB found in the Harding County herd is a strain never seen before in the United States, but was detected in dairy cattle in Mexico.

DuPont sells part of Stine-Haskell to FMC, saving 600 jobs

Delaware News Journal | Posted on April 5, 2017

DuPont will sell the majority of its 600-employee Stine-Haskell Research Center in Newark to Philadelphia-based FMC Corp. as part of a multibillion-dollar asset swap. The Wilmington-based company also announced it has pushed back the expected closure date of its proposed $130 billion merger with the Dow Chemical Co. DuPont now expects the deal to be completed between Aug. 1 and Sept. 1. Originally, Dow and DuPont said the merger would be finalized in the first half of 2017.  FMC will acquire the 515-acre facility's agriculture research space, known as the Stine portion. DuPont, however, will retain the plant's Haskell side, which houses product and toxicology testing laboratories. The Haskell side will likely be transferred to one of the three spinoffs that will be created after DuPont completes the Dow merger.  FMC intends to retain all Stine-Haskell employees and will add workers.  "We absolutely do not intend any reductions in staffing," he said. "In fact, we expect to keep upgrading. People should not have any fear or questions about our strong commitment to our population working there."

U.S. pig inventory continues — and will continue to — rise

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 3, 2017

U.S. pork producers continue to expand their herds as windfalls from 2014 and relatively cheap input costs help them weather lagging pork pricing and new slaughtering capacity set to come online in the fall provides an incentive. So said analysts Thursday after USDA released its quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, which showed a record crop of 71 million head, up 4.2 percent from the year-ago report. That compared to analysts' average expectations of a 3.9 percent bump in the total inventory.

Prestage Farms break ground for new plant in Iowa

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 3, 2017

Prestage Farms on Thursday broke ground in Eagle Grove, Iowa, to begin construction of its new fresh pork processing plant.  The $240 million facility is expected to be completed in the fall of 2018 and will employ about 1,000 people.Prestage Farms now raises pigs in more than 30 counties in Iowa. The plant will support those operations, utilizing "the latest in processing and automation technology," the company said.

DFA reports record profits

Dairy Farmers pf America | Posted on April 3, 2017

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) officials reported net income of $131.8 million, compared to $94.1 million of net income for 2015. The increase was attributable to higher sales volumes, overall operating efficiencies and lower commodity input costs. The record earnings were also buoyed by the acquisition of the remaining 50 percent equity interest in DairiConcepts, a manufacturer of cheese, dairy ingredients and dairy flavor systems with eight facilities across the United States. DFA’s net sales totaled $13.5 billion for 2016, compared to $13.8 billion in 2015. This decrease is primarily a result of lower milk prices. The U.S. annual average all milk price was $16.24 per hundredweight in 2016 compared with $17.12 per hundredweight in 2015.“Being owned by dairy farmers, we are always working to strengthen our milk marketing business and to bring value to our dairy-farmer members,” said Rick Smith, president and chief executive officer. “While 2016 was a year of challenges for many of our farmers, DFA itself continues to grow, and remains focused on continuing our investments in new and existing plants, as well as progressing on our strategic initiatives.”In 2016, DFA directed the marketing of 62.6 billion pounds of milk for both members and others through the Cooperative’s consolidated businesses, which represent approximately 29 percent of the total milk production in the United States. The average 2016 price paid to members per hundredweight of milk was $16.22 compared with $17.18 in 2015.Cash distributed to members in 2016 totaled $42 million compared to $35 million in 2015. In 2016, members received $21 million in equity retirements and $21 million of allocated patronage dividends.

What’s the Deal with Dicamba and 2,4D Drift in the News?

Texas Agriculture Law Blog | Posted on April 3, 2017

All producers should be aware of the new “Flag the Technology” program.  This is a field-marking program designed to prevent the misapplication of herbicides and to ensure applicators are aware of nearby sensitive crops.  Essentially, producers should mark all fields with a colored flag.  The different colors correspond with the specific trait technology planted in that field.  Red flags, for example, signify conventional varieties with no herbicide technology traits and sensitive crops like grapes, vegetables, or organic fields.  Black and white checks indicate a tolerance to dicamba and glyphosate.  To read more and see all flag colors, click here.  In addition to marking fields, a producer should ensure that anyone applying herbicides is educated on the various flag colors and takes care to notice flags in an area before beginning application. Second, producers should also be aware of the “Texas Crop Registry” which is currently being converted into a mobile app called “Hit the Target.”  The Hit the Target app, which will be available April 15, allows producers to enter the exact locations and boundaries of certain crops and then identify specific pesticide tolerances through using the Flag the Technology colors.  Then, before an applicator enters a field, he or she can pull up the location on the Hit the Target app and see a map of the surrounding area that shows various traits and crops nearby.Third, there are few problems that cannot be lessened, or even solved, over a cup of coffee.  Producers should know their neighbors and try and work with them to avoid issues.  If a farmer owns a cotton field that is surrounded by sensitive crops such as grapes or tomatoes on all sides, he may need to carefully consider whether he wants to utilize these new cropping systems.  If a farmer is growing grapes in the middle of cotton country, he may want to visit with his neighboring landowners to see what precautions they might be able to implement.

Dow and DuPont to sell substantial assets

Reuters | Posted on April 3, 2017

Dow Chemical and DuPont won the blessing of the European Union for their $130 billion merger on Monday by agreeing to sell substantial assets including key research and development activities.The European Commission had been concerned that the merger of two of the biggest and oldest U.S. chemical producers would leave few incentives to produce new herbicides and pesticides in the future. The deal is one of a trio of mega mergers that will reshape the industry and consolidate six companies into three. Asset sales would ensure competition in the sector and benefit European farmers and consumers, the Commission said. The deal is still to be approved by regulators in the United States, Brazil, China, Australia and Canada, but the companies said they were confident of clearance in all remaining jurisdictions."This regulatory milestone is a significant step toward closing the merger transaction, with the intention to subsequently spin into three independent publicly traded companies," Dow spokeswoman Rachelle Schikorra said in an email.The EU approval may be a sign that U.S. regulators would follow suit because the agencies have traditionally coordinated on reviews and remedies for large multinational mergers, said Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute non-profit group.

Farming becoming riskier under climate change

Science Daily | Posted on March 29, 2017

"Going forward, we're predicting warmer and wetter springs, and drier, hotter summers," Davis says. "The season fragments and we start to see an early-early season, so that March starts looking like a good target for planting in the future. In the past, March has been the bleeding edge; nobody in their right mind would have planted then. But we've already seen the trend for early planting. It's going to keep trending in that direction for summer annuals."  Those drier, hotter summers are likely to change farming practices too, particularly in southern Illinois."Drought periods will intensify in mid- to late-summer under all the climate scenarios. If farmers decide to plant later to avoid the wet period in April and May, they're going to run into drought that will hit yield during the anthesis-silking interval, leading to a lot of kernel abortion. That second planting window is probably pretty risky," Davis says.Risk is the key word. If farmers bet on the early planting window and get hit with a frost or more March precipitation than expected, are they out of luck? Davis says they will have to choose to mud the seed in, plant a different hybrid, or even scrap corn and go for winter wheat later in the season. But given that many farmers choose hybrids and purchase seeds the previous fall, they're unlikely to have that kind of flexibility come spring. Any miscalculation will be incredibly costly.

Avian flu detected in Georgia breeder flock

Watt Ag Net | Posted on March 29, 2017

A flock of chickens at a commercial breeding operation in Chattooga County has tested positive for H7 avian influenza, marking the state’s first case in 2017, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) stated. According to a press release from the GDA, it appears to be a low pathogenic strain, because the birds in the flock did not show any signs of illness.