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Agriculture News

Ag Barometer Drops Sharply on Concerns About Weak Farm Income

Purdue | Posted on October 4, 2018

The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer fell to a reading of 114 in September, fifteen points below its August reading of 129 and its lowest reading since October 2016. September marked the second large decline in the barometer this summer, as it also declined precipitously in July. The barometer, a sentiment index based upon a nationwide monthly survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers, has been unusually volatile in recent months.

Turns out groundwater is not a point source

Farm Futures | Posted on October 4, 2018

In February 2018, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held the Hawaii County of Maui’s pollutants were traceable to wells which discharge into groundwater and that groundwater was considered a point source under the Clean Water Act. But a new ruling has reversed that call and agriculture will benefit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled on September 24, 2018 that the Clean Water Act (CWA) does not extend liabilitywhen pollution from a point source reaches surface water through groundwater movement. The plaintiffs in this case were the Kentucky Waterways Allianceand Sierra Club. The defendant was Kentucky Utilities Company which burns coal to produce energy and the leftover coal ash is discharged into man-made ponds. Kentucky Waterways and Sierra Club alleged the chemicals in the coal ash discharged into ponds leaked into surrounding groundwater, and the groundwater carried the contaminants to a nearby lake.The Court of Appeals was told this contaminating groundwater that contaminates a nearby lake violates both the CWA and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This case is only partially complete because the Court held the RCRA claim must be heard by U.S. District Court.

Canadian Farmers Lose Under Nafta Update That Opens Up Milk Trade

Bloomberg | Posted on October 4, 2018

“This doesn’t fix the problems of American oversupply,” said Holtmann, a third generation dairy farmer in Rosser, Manitoba, who will spend the winter reviewing the impact of the deal and whether his expansion plans still make sense. “It’s a slap in the face to Canadian producers who work very hard at managing supply.”Canadian dairy farmers say they’re on the losing end of the new deal, which will give the U.S. greater access to Canada’s protected dairy market and eliminate its new milk pricing system, one that’s been repeatedly attacked by President Donald Trump. Dairy was one of the core remaining hurdles to striking a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed to defend the nation’s restricted sector. On Monday, Trudeau pledged to compensate farmers to cushion the blow.As part of the deal, Canada will eliminate its Class 7 milk policy that makes it cheaper for processors to buy domestic supplies of ultra-filtered milk, a concentrated ingredient used to boost protein content in cheese and yogurt. While the system helped support a wave of new processing capacity that’s being built across Canada, U.S. farmers complained it effectively blocked imports and dragged down world prices.The U.S. is grappling with an oversupply of milk and Trump said in April that Canada has made business for American dairy farmers “very difficult.” 

U.S. agriculture applauds NAFTA replacement

Capital Press | Posted on October 4, 2018

Some U.S. commodities will gain additional access to Canadian markets, and others will retain existing zero-tariff access to Canada and Mexico. The trilateral agreement barely came in under a midnight deadline imposed by the U.S., at which point the U.S. would have moved forward with the trade deal reached with Mexico a month earlier.The renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement will move ahead as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.A major sticking point with Canada was granting more access to U.S. dairy products and the elimination of Canada’s Class 7 milk-ingredient pricing program implemented last year.That program artificially lowered prices for Canada’s domestic milk ingredients for domestic processors to discourage the purchase of U.S. ingredients. It also undercut competitors’ dairy product prices in the international market, according to the U.S. and other dairy-exporting countries.The agreement also gives additional access to Canadian markets to U.S. poultry and eggs and addresses issues with Canada’s grain-grading system. For other commodities, it was a matter of safeguarding existing market access.“However, the true measure of success will be when U.S. markets regain full trading status, and that is why FFT will continue to urge the immediate removal of tariffs, she said.Americans for Farmers and Families said the significance of the agreement cannot be overstated.NAFTA “has brought unprecedented economic success to the U.S. — not only through strong job growth, higher wages and low consumer prices — but also by allowing America’s food and agricultural industry to thrive,” Casey Guemsey, an AFF spokesman, said.

This Gene-Edited Calf Could Transform Brazil's Beef Industry

Wall Street Journal | Posted on October 4, 2018

World's first angus calf engineered to be heat tolerant could beef up meat production in warmer climates.

USDA’s Trade Aid Package

Farm Policy News | Posted on October 4, 2018

Recent news articles have discussed USDA’s trade aid package, as well as the potential impacts of ongoing trade tariffs on U.S. farm goods.  Today’s update provides an overview of several of these articles. Wall Street Journal writer Jesse Newman reported late last week that, “The Trump administration has started compensating U.S. farmers for damage tariffs are doing to their business.“Many farmers say the payments won’t make up for lost sales to China and other foreign markets they were counting on to buy the huge amounts of crops and meat being produced across the Farm Belt.“Bumper corn and soybean harvests and record pork production have pushed down prices for agricultural commodities. U.S. farm income is expected to drop 13% this year to $66 billion, according to the Department of Agriculture, extending a yearslong slump in the agricultural economy.” Beth Ford, chief executive officer of Minnesota-based agriculture cooperative Land O’Lakes Inc.] said the Trump administration’s compensation package falls short of the losses being incurred by producers, many of whom can’t simply wait for tariffs to be lifted.

Canada opened its dairy market. But by how much?

CNN | Posted on October 4, 2018

Dairy was a big sticking point for Canadian and US officials as they renegotiated NAFTA.In the end, Canada agreed to open up its market and allow American farmers to sell more milk, cheese and other dairy products north of the border. It also agreed to end a pricing system that limited imports of certain milk ingredients.President Donald Trump is calling the deal a win for US dairy farmers, and Canadian farmers are angry. But some experts are downplaying the impact."Honestly I don't think it's going to have a terribly noticeable impact on US dairy farmers in general," said Andrew Novakovic, a professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University.Under the new deal, which will be called USMCA, Canada will set new quotas for dairy imports from the United States. It will still put tariffs on dairy products that exceed the quotas, ranging from 200% to 300%.The new quotas are expected to give American dairy farmers access to up to 3.6% of Canada's market. Estimates suggest this will increase exports to Canada by $70 million, or 0.0003% of US GDP, a BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report said.

Going green isn’t a fad for Ohio dairy farmers

Cincinnati Business Courier | Posted on October 4, 2018

Ohio dairy farmers strive to conserve natural resources and minimize the environmental impact in everything they do — from properly managing manure and protecting the rivers and streams to reducing odors and air pollutants. Advanced, modern technologies have allowed dairy farmers across Ohio to work more efficiently while protecting the environment. Today, a gallon of milk is produced with 65 percent less water and 63 percent less carbon than a gallon of milk in 1944.U.S. dairy cows generate the fewest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per gallon of milk. The U.S. dairy community is committed to continuous improvement when it comes to environmental stewardship, including a voluntary goal of 25 percent GHG emission reduction by 2020.

Illinois Soybean Growers Meets with New Cuban President

Illinois Soybean Association | Posted on October 1, 2018

Earlier this morning, Mark Albertson, Illinois Soybean Growers director of strategic market development, met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in New York during the United Nations General Assembly. This is the first time Díaz-Canel has visited the United States since taking office in April. After his visit, Albertson said: “We were honored to sit down and met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel during his first visit to the United States. We have been working on opening doors with Cuba since 2012 and value the opportunities trade with Cuba brings to our Illinois soybean producers. We continue to believe that the improvement of economic conditions and trade relations between the United States. and Cuba is the foundation for future success. As Illinois soybean producers struggle to make ends meet with lower commodity prices and decreased access to key markets, it’s important that we maintain positive relationships with Cuba and other countries who import our soybeans.”

Cost-Effective Strategies for Reducing Cropland Nutrient Deliveries to the Gulf of Mexico

| Posted on October 1, 2018

Targeting regions and practices that can most cost effectively reduce nutrient deliveries from cropland to the Gulf of Mexico would reduce the overall cost of achieving water quality objectives for the Gulf but also would increase costs and land-use adjustments for production regions closest to the Gulf. The least-cost strategy for nutrient reduction within the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin would involve a mix of conservation practices—including optimally placed wetlands and buffers, which are generally the most cost-effective strategies for nitrogen reduction.Providing incentives for the reduction of a single nutrient—either nitrogen or phosphorus—would result in a reduction of the other nutrient as well, though the strength of the association varies regionally and the effect is greater when nitrogen is the targeted nutrient.