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Agriculture News

Report shows how ag research funding can supercharge U.S. industry

Feedstuffs | Posted on April 1, 2019

A newly released report shows how U.S. farmers — facing a surge of weather events and disease outbreaks — can increase production and revenues with innovations produced by federally funded agricultural research but warns that more investment in agricultural research is needed to prevent falling further behind China.

Estimated Effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Farms and Farm Households

USDA | Posted on April 1, 2019

90 percent of the total value of U.S. agricultural production; thus, the biggest effects of the TCJA on farmers are from changes to the Federal individual income tax code. We estimate that had the TCJA been in effect in 2016, family farm households would have faced an average effective tax rate of 13 .9 percent that year versus 17 .2 percent after factoring in several tax credits (Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit) but excluding self-employment taxes. The reduction in average effective income tax rates resulting from the TCJA would have varied across family farm sizes, with midsized and large farms experiencing greater reductions (see figure). About 91 percent of f amily farms are small (less than $350,000 gross cash farm income, or GCFI, before expenses). We estimate that the average small family farm household would have experienced a decrease of 3.0 percentage points in its effective income tax rate had the TCJA been in effect in 2016, while the average midsized (GCFI between $350,000 and $999,999) and large (GCFI between $1 million and $4,999,999) family farm households would have experienced decreases of 5.8 and 3.4 percentage points, respectively. Very large farms (GCFI greater than $5 million) would have experienced a 2.6-percentage point reduction.

Dairy farmers need profits, not handouts

Edairy News | Posted on April 1, 2019

airy farmers continue to face longstanding challenges that are squeezing many out of business. But this year, dairy provisions in the new Farm Bill promise a better safety net. Second, with more farmers having been forced out of business, milk production is expected to decline, boosting prices for those who remain. As a result, policymakers in Washington and Madison should avoid knee-jerk reactions to the farmers’ dilemma. Rather, they should focus on solutions to the long-term economics of dairying.Dairy farmers are important to Wisconsin’s economy and its identity. That’s why the state is known as America’s Dairyland, and why we call ourselves Cheeseheads. Wisconsin is home to more dairy farms than any other state. We are No. 1 in cheese production. The dairy industry contributes $43 billion a year to the state’s economy.

Diminished Optimism in the Corn Belt

Farm Policy News | Posted on April 1, 2019

Flooding and gloomy price prospects for corn and soybeans are diminishing optimism in the Corn Belt as spring planting nears.  Recent news articles continue to discuss the ongoing negative impacts of Midwestern floods on an already battered farm economy.  Meanwhile, corn and soybean prices fell on Friday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released data relating to prospective planting intentions and grain stocks.

Minnesota farmer losing sons and farm in immigration battle

KARE | Posted on April 1, 2019

Spring should be a time of promise, but the Mulder Dairy is clouded by doom. “Pretty depressing topic to talk about so I don't really bring it up a whole lot,” Kelsey Mulder said as he milked his father’s herd of 170 Holstein cows.Mulder is counting the days until the United States of America – the only country he's ever known - forces him to leave.Eighteen years ago, Kor Mulder and his former wife brought their two sons - ages two and three - from their native Holland to the open spaces of western Minnesota to start a dairy farm.Back home, land was scarce - while regulations were many.  With an E-2 Visa in hand, Mulder saw in the U.S. freedom and opportunity.He hoped that if he paid his taxes and invested in his community, a nation built by immigrants would one day open its arms to his family and grant permanent status.“Boys go to school, I don’t live on welfare, then you would think you could eventually make it work to permanent residency. That’s logical thinking,” Kor Mulder said.  But Mulder’s hopes have repeatedly been thwarted by rigid immigration rules.  Now Kelsey - weeks from his 21st birthday – must, according to those same rules, return to Holland.In June he’ll go back to a language he doesn't speak and a country he barely knows.“I prefer the gravel roads of western Minnesota, that's for sure,” Kelsey Mulder said.And Kelsey will not be the first Mulder to go.Garion, Kelsey's older brother, was forced off the farm and back to Holland last year.With both his boys in Europe – and unable to run the dairy alone – Kor Mulder sees only one course: liquidating his farm and returning to Holland too.


More than 1 million acres of U.S. cropland ravaged by floods

Reuters | Posted on April 1, 2019

At least 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of U.S. farmland were flooded after the “bomb cyclone” storm left wide swaths of nine major grain producing states under water this month.

Farmers, banker, researcher explain economics of milking cows

AP News | Posted on April 1, 2019

From Marin Bozic’s perspective, there are three ways to fix the dairy industry: Americans need to consume more cheese and milk, the county’s exports of milk need to grow, or, frankly, dairy farmers need to milk  fewer cows.Bozic, an assistant professor of applied economics who studies dairy foods marketing and economics at the University of Minnesota, said dairies have been economically upside down for the past five years, and there are plenty of macro-level reasons why.For starters, he said, “In the United States, productivity per cow is growing faster than population size."Each year, dairy farmers are getting 1.5 percent to 2 percent more milk per cow, whereas the U.S. population is growing at just less than 1 percent annually.Until about 10 to 12 years ago, Bozic said, Minnesota was not an export superpower on the global dairy market. Bu that has changed, and dairies saw the benefit. But now, even with exports continuing to grow, though at a slower pace, it’s not enough to put the U.S. dairy farmer in the black.

Midwest flooding hits hard

Daily Yonder | Posted on April 1, 2019

As floodwaters recede in the first areas hit by flooding in the Midwest, residents are eager to start cleanup. For farmers, the damage comes when livestock is vulnerable and the ag market is soft. The damage to local infrastructure and agricultural operations is enormous. “It has hit our government infrastructure hard. Dams, roads, levees, bridges have been impacted. Property damage, livestock losses, it’s pretty staggering. The Spencer Dam collapsed. This is a 90-year-old dam, aging infrastructure like we see all over the state, that caved under duress from the storm.“For farmers, the most immediate damage is with livestock. It’s calving season for most farmers. We will learn more in the weeks ahead about the water quality issues that emerge, see the extent of the soil erosion, see how local roads held up to water damage,” Depew said.

‘Breaches Everywhere’: Flooding Bursts Midwest Levees, and Tough Questions Follow

The New York Times | Posted on April 1, 2019

The widespread, severe flooding in the Midwest over the last month has exposed the vulnerabilities in a levee system that is now so full of holes that many here ruefully describe it as “Swiss cheese.” With dozens of costly breaks across Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and nearby states, the surging waters have left large areas without even cursory flood protection.“Breaches everywhere: multiple, multiple breaches,” said Tom Bullock, the top elected official in Holt County, Mo., where crews were rushing last week to patch a leaking levee that, if it failed completely, would flood the small town of Fortescue.

A tough row

Storm Lake News | Posted on April 1, 2019

Suicide rates are soaring among the last of the independent Wisconsin dairy farmers getting squeezed out by consolidation and a USDA program that isn’t helping. Net farm income has dropped in half in the Midwest over the decade. Iowa corn and soy farmers have lost money five years in a row. Loan delinquencies are at their highest levels since the Farm Debt Crisis of the mid-1980s.“Farmers and bankers are having difficult conversations,” said Aaron Heley Lehman, president of the Iowa Farmers Union, himself a crop and livestock farmer from central Iowa. “Because of the loss of farm income, we are losing equity as we speak. A lot of people don’t have enough equity left to get them through this.”Trade wars with China, Mexico and Canada tanked soybean markets for US farmers as Brazil emerged as a more reliable supplier. Rural people wonder when a third of the nation’s hogs are owned by a Chinese subsidiary, Smithfield Foods. And they wonder when JBS of Brazil, the biggest meatpacker, gets a disaster check from the USDA for Trump’s tariffs.Farmland prices in Iowa fell 3% this year. That’s a pretty big drain on the state’s balance sheet, and its effects are felt all over in fewer sales of pickup trucks and not much new iron moving off the farm implement dealer’s lot.