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Agriculture News

Lost markets take toll on Idaho dairies

Capital Press | Posted on December 21, 2018

Efficiencies of scale usually give large dairies an edge in weathering downturns in the market. But that’s not the case for Box Canyon Dairy of Wendell and others in Idaho that have lost their market entirely. Box Canyon is set for a complete herd dispersal sale on Dec. 14. The owners declined to comment, but the sale will include 17,000 head — 9,000 milking and dry cows and 8,000 heifers — according to the Toppenish Livestock Commission in Washington state, which is handling the sale.“They lost their market,” Rick Naerebout, CEO of Idaho Dairymen’s Association, said.The brokerage Box Canyon was selling milk to let the owners know in early fall it would no longer be able to return the value of the milk. The broker would still buy the milk but at distressed prices. There isn’t a viable market for the dairy’s milk, and all the other processors are full, he said.“They had to make the tough decision to disperse their herd. It was a shock to the entire industry,” he said.

Bills would classify large Oregon dairies 'industrial'

Capital Press | Posted on December 21, 2018

Large dairies would be classified as industrial facilities and subject to new restrictions under two bills to be considered by Oregon lawmakers next year. At a Dec. 12 work session, the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources voted 4-2 to introduce the two bills during next year’s legislative session along with a bevy of other “legislative concepts.”Both pieces of legislation would apply to dairies with more than 2,500 cows, or 700 cows if they don’t have access to pasture.If they were reclassified as industrial facilities, such dairies would be stripped of protections under Oregon’s “right to farm” law, which prohibits local governments from imposing restrictions on farms. The statute also bans lawsuits alleging nuisance or trespass against farms.The two bills were prompted by the regulatory problems at Lost Valley Farm, a large dairy in Boardman that’s been cited for a multitude of wastewater violations since it began operating last year, said Ivan Maluski, policy director for Friends of Family Farmers, a nonprofit that supports strong dairy regulations.

Canadian companies face charges for chicken abuse

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on December 21, 2018

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said two chicken companies face 38 charges alleging abuse of chickens. CFIA conducted an investigation following the release some 18 months ago of an animal activist video shot at Elite Farm Services in Chilliwack, B.C., showing workers abusing chickens in the loading and unloading process.

Dairy farm saved by donations pays it forward, prays for better milk prices

Green Bay Press Gazette | Posted on December 20, 2018

A year ago, Dale and Karen Cihlar faced a bleak Christmas. Their 145-year-old dairy farm was failing and bankruptcy loomed in their future. Fast forward to December, 2018, and the picture is much different  — thanks to the generosity of family, community and people across the nation.The couple's dairy farm dilemma echoes the plight of farmers across the state: Years of stagnant milk prices, growing piles of bills and depleted savings accounts are forcing the demise of dairy farms, small and large. Wisconsin is on track to lose more dairy farms this year than in any year since at least 2003, according to state Agriculture Department figures for dairy producer licenses reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.As of Nov. 1, the dairy state had lost 660 cow herds from a year earlier, and the number of herds was down nearly 49 percent from 15 years ago

Missouri farmer charged in $140M organic grain fraud scheme

Omaha World Herald | Posted on December 20, 2018

A Missouri farmer is accused of marketing $140 million worth of non-organic corn, soybeans and wheat as organic over 7½ years.The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, charged Randy Constant with fraud on Wednesday. He is expected to appear in court Thursday.Constant owned and operated two companies that grew and sold organics. He’s accused of saying his grains were certified organic because some of them came from organic farms he operated in Nebraska and Missouri. But prosecutors say more than 90 percent of his product was non-organic grain purchased from other farmers.

New study will track how trade wars affect the Midwest

Ohio State News | Posted on December 20, 2018

A team of researchers who first proposed studying the effect a global trade war could have on the Midwest never imagined there would be an actual trade war underway as they conducted their research. But as 2018 played out—and as the United States and China traded tariff after tariff this summer—the real-world applications of their research became more and more clear.“Our farmers in the Midwest provide food throughout the world, so if we shut down that ability for them to send their goods all over the place—if we invoke tariffs and counter-tariffs—then that really affects the demand for what they produce,” said Jeff Bielicki, an assistant professor of civil, environmental and geodetic engineering at The Ohio State University.The goal of their work, which is funded through a 3-year, $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation, is to build models that could show how various trade scenarios—from trade wars to trade alliances to other future scenarios—could affect the food, energy and water supply coming from the Great Lakes region. The five-state area includes Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. 

Farmers buoyed but cautious as China resumes buying soybeans

MPR | Posted on December 20, 2018

The resumption of soybean sales to China this week is encouraging to American farmers who have seen the value of their crop plummet amid a trade war with the world's second-largest economy, but producers see it only as a small step and say they need more federal aid. Private exporters reported sales of 1.13 million metric tons of soybeans to China on Thursday and another 300,000 metric tons on Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. The Thursday report was the ninth-largest daily sale since 1977, according to the agency's Foreign Agriculture Service, and it comes less than two weeks after the Trump administration reached a three-month truce in its trade war with China during which the two sides will try to work out their differences.

DuPont Pioneer lays off Iowa workers as it works toward full Dow-DuPont merger

Des Moines Register | Posted on December 20, 2018

DuPont Pioneer will lay off 35 workers as parent company DuPont continues work on its merger with Dow Chemical. Company spokesman Gregg Schmidt said DuPont notified Iowa Workforce Development on Nov. 30 of its intent to eliminate the Iowa positions on Jan. 31, 2019.DuPont and Dow Chemical closed on their $150 billion merger in fall 2017. Since then, the firms have announced plans to rename Iowa-based DuPont Pioneer to Corteva Agriscience after it spins out of DowDuPont next year and becomes part of a new standalone ag business.

Even after Farm Bill, hemp needs help from Washington lawmakers

Capital Press | Posted on December 20, 2018

Federal lawmakers have lightened up on hemp, but the non-intoxicating plant still needs an assist from Washington's marijuana-embracing legislators. The new Farm Bill takes hemp off the federal list of illicit drugs, but it does not change state hemp laws.In Washington, hemp can't be grown within 4 miles of marijuana. That regulation helps explain why Washington has lagged behind other states in growing and processing hemp.Washington has more than 1,200 licensed marijuana growers, according to the State Liquor and Cannabis Board. A large portion of the state is closed to hemp.

Destructive spotted lanternfly could be hiding in NYC Christmas trees, and Sen. Chuck Schumer calls on feds to act fast

New York Daily News | Posted on December 20, 2018

A pesky bug is wreaking havoc on Christmas trees across the Northeast — and it could soon hitch a ride to the Big Apple.The spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect native to China and Southeast Asia, has been destroying maples and pines across Pennsylvania — and it could ravage New York’s forests if the federal government doesn't act fast, Sen. Chuck Schumer warned Sunday.