The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank Thursday announced farm debt in the Midwest is increasing. In the first quarter of 2016, the bank says loan demand continued to rise, repayment rates continued to weaken, and almost all district bankers under the KC Fed Bank reported that farm income declined. The Bank released its Ag Credit Survey, which says that, although cash rents declined modestly, production costs have remained high and many producers reduced both capital and household spending to cut costs. Farmland values also moderated slightly and were expected to remain under pressure in the coming year. Through the first quarter, survey respondents reported three full years of increasing loan demand amid reduced profits.
Imagine that weeds were left to grow uncontrolled in corn and soybean fields across North America. That scenario would cut U.S. and Canadian yields by about 50 percent, resulting in $43 billion in annual economic losses to those two crops alone, according to a new study.
The research, spanned seven years from 2007 to 2013.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he has introduced legislation that would ban packer ownership of livestock after seeing continued consolidation in the livestock industry. The consolidation means independent producers have fewer choices for where to buy from and sell to, said Grassley, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and also a member of the Agriculture Committee.
Grassley’s bill contains exceptions to the ban for:
The entire Pacific Northwest experienced record high temperatures throughout April, causing much of the remaining snowpack to melt and runoff. More than 80% of all Snowpack Telemetry sites with at least 15 years of data set all new melt rate records for April. During two separate high-pressure weather systems in April, sites experienced minimum daily temperatures exceeding 20 degrees above normal. Due to the rapid snowmelt, runoff was above normal and Washington State’s rivers and streams were able to contain it without flooding.
The New England states and New York are more than 50 percent forested, a rate well above the national average. Economies in this heavily forested region have historically relied on forest-based industries, and human population has clustered along coastal regions and major waterways, though recent trends suggest widespread in-migration to amenity-rich rural areas. Over the last decade, all states in this region have experienced notable declines in forest cover. In urban and suburban areas like southern New Hampshire, this loss of forest cover is likely related to increased demand for housing and services. It is also likely to be a permanent transition, since developed land rarely reverts to forest cover. Much of the forest cover loss in rural northern New England is due to commercial timber harvesting and is likely temporary, but in other portions of northern New England forest cover has declined consistently since 2001, and it is unclear whether this shift is the result of development or forest harvesting.
Federal inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor are conducting spot inspections of farms across south Georgia, a week after many farmers complained the agency has failed to properly process visa applications for migrant workers.
“Wage and hour agent teams are in multiple locations across south Georgia today,” Georgia Agriculture Commission Gary Black told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The agents inspect payroll and personnel records to ensure workers are fairly paid and that the workers are here legally.
American farm co-ops are coming under pressure to merge from global competition, falling farm incomes, ag industry consolidation and a growing need for specialized talent, according to co-op leaders. Farmer-owned cooperatives historically have bought grain from farmers, storing it in elevators until it was loaded for shipment. But today, many co-ops do much more than store grain and sell fuel, fertilizer and pesticides.
Co-op executives say their businesses are being affected by the same economic pressures and opportunities facing other businesses, from globalization to economies of scale. As farm operations have increased in size and scale, co-ops have had to do the same, according to Ludwig. “We’re competing against big multinationals--ADM, Cargill--that are doing $100 billion in sales. We have to compete against that.”
U.S. crop prices surged Tuesday, extending an unexpected run in agricultural prices that has drawn in big investors like hedge funds. The gains promise much needed relief for a farm economy battered by the slump in prices for major row crops over the past three years. The catalyst was a closely watched government report that said rising exports would eat into the glut in farm commodities by next year. The big surprise was a projection that U.S. soybean inventories would fall by a steep 24%.
Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. is embarking on a new public relations effort to educate consumers about the poultry industry. “We recognize we have not done a good job of getting our messages out,” said Bill Satterfield, the longtime executive director of DPI, an 1,800-member trade association. “We are embarking on a major effort to share factual messages about the poultry industry.” he biggest perception issues faced by poultry farmers are environmental issues and concerns over zoning, setbacks and other land use issues. Other issues, such as persistent misconceptions about the use of steroids or hormones, are national issues that go well beyond Delmarva.
Good news - the quality of water in the Illinois River has improved in one important aspect. A new study from the University of Illinois reports that nitrate load in the Illinois River from 2010 to 2014 was 10 percent less than the average load in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Reducing the nitrate and phosphorus loads in the Mississippi River by 45 percent is the US EPA's ultimate recommendation. This will serve to reduce the size of the seasonal hypoxic area, or "dead zone," created in the Gulf of Mexico when nitrate in tributaries like the Illinois River flows into the Mississippi River and down to the Gulf.