Kenneth Feeley, the Smathers Chair of Tropical Tree Biology in the University of Miami’s Department of Biology, is an expert in studying the effects of climate change on tropical forests. From the mountains of Peru to the lowlands of the Amazon, Feeley examines the ramifications of climate change on the trees and other species that comprise the diverse forests of these regions. Yet, recently, Feeley shifted gears from studying tropical forests to examining the impacts of climate change in rural farming communities in Peru. As co-author of a study published in Global Change Biology, Feeley, along with fellow biologist, Richard Tito, a native Quechua Indian from the region and the study’s first author, discovered that tough times lie ahead for rural farmers growing the Andes’ staple crops–corn and potatoes. The simulation revealed that, with just a small temperature increase of 1.3 degrees to 2.6 degrees, nearly all the corn plants were killed by invading birds and pest insects. Potato plants fared even worse. When potatoes were grown at lower elevations (but in their normal soil), most of the plants died and any potatoes that survived were of such low quality they had no market value.
Current and future court challenges to the “waters of the U.S.” rule must be heard in federal district courts, not circuit courts of appeals, the Supreme Court said Monday in a unanimous decision that ultimately could lead to lawsuits filed all over the country. The court did not buy the arguments of the federal government, most environmental groups and some states that federal appeals courts are the proper venue for litigation over the rule, which has been blasted by the vast majority of farm groups as overly broad but supported by conservation groups that say it strikes the proper regulatory balance. The decision sets up a battle in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals over a nationwide stay of the WOTUS rule that the court issued in October 2015. Because the Supreme Court said that jurisdiction for WOTUS litigation lies in the district court, that means the 6th Circuit will almost certainly have to dissolve its stay wh
While members of Congress try to deconstruct a tax-law change that drives farm sales to cooperatives over private companies, farmers are taking advantage of the law change and wondering whether they will get to continue reaping the rewards. Then there are the farmers who would like to take advantage of some of the new 20% tax breaks for pass-through income, but they sell their commodities through C corporations. Instead of a tax deduction, they could face higher tax rates if they do not restructure those corporations. In the run-up to completing the new tax law, some in Congress worked to offer a counter tax deduction for grain cooperatives. The new provision on "qualified cooperative dividends" from cooperatives was written to benefit not just any patronage dividend, but also any "per unit retain allocation." That translated into any amount paid to patrons for products sold for them. The language also broadens out further into any revenue from a farmer cooperative "that is includible in gross income." The tax break amounts to 20% of all income that comes from those dividends or sales from a farmer cooperative. "That's the problem is it's extremely broad," said Paul Neiffer, an accountant and principal with CliftonLarsonAllen. "It's essentially any payment a cooperative gives to a farmer, including purchasing their crop."If Congress had limited the provision strictly to patronage dividends, then it would be a much smaller issue. And after the implications were flushed out a little bit earlier this month, Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and John Thune, R-S.D., began working with groups representing farmer cooperatives and grain companies to correct the language in the new law.
While more than 90 percent of U.S. consumers eat meat at least occasionally, nearly half (47 percent) of respondents in a recent survey agreed with the statement, “I support a ban on slaughterhouses.”
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favor of the United States, determining that China had failed to comply with an earlier ruling and faulting them for antidumping and countervailing duties imposed on U.S. chicken imports. With the latest ruling, China will be expected to lower its duties, unless it files an appeal within 20 days.The ruling is the latest development in the trade dispute that dates back to 2010 when China first implemented the antidumping duties of up to 105.4 percent, and anti-subsidy duties of up to 30.3 percent, according to a report from Reuters.
The nation’s farms are in a “new farm crisis” as Kansas State University experts put it during the Cover Your Acres Conference on Jan. 17 in Oberlin, Kansas. And, as Zerr and others in attendance would soon learn from the variety of speakers, it could be another crucial year as farmers battle to turn a profit—especially the ones struggling to make payments on their rising debt. Some financial woes are so deep that economists like Mark Wood questioned whether these farmers can stay in business. In 2016, the average net farm income dropped to just $300 a farm and, for 2015, the average producer was in the red. Charlie Griffin, a research assistant professor in the School for Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University, calls this the “new farm crisis.”The crystal ball question is how long the new crisis could last, said Griffin, adding that farmers should have a long-term plan in place.“We don’t know if things are going to get better in the next year or two or not,” he said. “I can’t find anyone on the production ag economics side willing to express an opinion on that right now —especially in terms of grain prices.”
Western United Dairymen (WUD) and the California Dairy Campaign (CDC) have petitioned the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for an emergency hearing to increase over-base milk prices by about 35¢/cwt for the next 12 months. CDFA has 15 days in which to grant or deny the petition for hearing. “The significant negative margins witnessed every quarter since January 2015 have placed many producers in a dire financial situation,” says Annie AcMoody, WUD director of economic analysis. “According to CDFA’s cost of production data, the smallest loss recorded these past three years was 23¢/cwt of milk produced during the first quarter of 2017.”
The fight over a patch of farmland in Goodhue County near Zumbrota is going to the Minnesota Supreme court. Concerned residents are contesting an appeals court ruling that allows construction of a proposed hog farm to go through.Opponents argue the farm would violate county zoning ordinances. They also say it will create problems like possible sinkholes and the release of a gas they say is hazardous.The farm has the needed permits, but construction is on hold while the legal battle continues.The farm owners say what they're trying to build has been used by livestock owners for fifty years.
A group of Arkansas state legislators has approved a ban on dicamba use between April 16 and Oct. 31 of this year, meaning that soybean and cotton growers will not be able to use Monsanto's Xtendimax or BASF's Engenia for over-the-top applications. The action by the state's Legislative Council came without discussion this morning. The council's Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee also approved the seasonal ban, which was approved as a proposed rule by the Arkansas State Plant Board in November.In December, the subcommittee sent the proposal back to the plant board, asking it to review the science and consider whether to divide the state into two growing zones for purposes of regulation. The plant board rejected any changes to its proposal, which includes exemptions for the use of dicamba in pastures, rangeland, turf, ornamental, direct injection for forestry, and in the home.
Farmer has high hopes for her spina bifida treatment as well: At the four-month, postoperative checkup, Darla and Spanky were able to run and play like typical puppies, seemingly free of the debilitating paralysis that plagued them just a month earlier. Within the next year, Farmer plans to file a request with the National Institute of Health to start a clinical trial of the stem cell treatment in human fetuses with spina bifida. Like the puppies, her hope is that children born with spina bifida will be able to enjoy a life free of wheelchairs and walkers. It’s too early to tell if the treatment will be a success in human beings—but if it is, we’ll have puppies like Spanky and Darla to thank.