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Agriculture News

Storm clouds gathering over Kansas farms as income dips

The Wichita Eagle | Posted on May 2, 2016

Low crop and cattle prices have cut farm incomes and are starting to push down the value of ag land. That affects farmers' ability to repay loans and take out new ones, which could force foreclosures and forced sales.

It will almost certainly lead to more farm foreclosures and ownership consolidation across Kansas and the country. How much is impossible to know, because it is just starting to unfold.


Agricultural Commodities Egged On by China’s Futures Frenzy

Wall Street Journal | Posted on May 2, 2016

The recent fevered commodities trading in China hasn’t been limited to iron ore. Investors have piled into futures for everything from wheat and cotton to eggs and asphalt.

As with industrial metals, analysts reckon much of the interest is coming from speculative investors who have been turned off to China’s stock markets by tighter rules over trading.

“Chinese speculators didn’t want to buy into the equity market with all the curbs, so they jumped into the commodity markets and it seems they’ve done so in massive style,” said Michael Coleman, managing director at RCMA Asset Management Pte.

Rampant speculation means Chinese futures markets often don’t reflect economic or industry fundamentals, while excess liquidity attributable to loose monetary policy is further driving the spike in interest in agricultural futures.

Cattle rustling increased with price of cattle

Oxford America | Posted on May 2, 2016

Cattle rustling has returned, but it has also changed; if the essential act has not, its context has. Today’s rustler has no hope of parlaying a few stolen cattle into a business. Rustling is no longer an aspirational crime, but a stopgap, a stay against desperation. A single head of cattle is not the seed of an empire; it’s a payday loan, a child support payment, or cash for pills. Rustling is not, in this sense, an archaic crime at all, but a crime very much of its time and place, adapted to today’s America, in which social classes are established and the frontier, whatever it was once, has collapsed.

Michigan corn producers turn down program amendments | Posted on May 2, 2016

Michigan's corn producers have voted down a proposed increase to the assessment they pay to support activities for the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan.

The proposed amendments would have increased the assessment rate on Michigan grown corn from one cent per bushel to one and one half cents per bushel; required seed corn to be included in the assessment process; and included revisions to the nominations process and grammatical updates.

Under the Agricultural Commodities Marketing Act (Public Act 232 of 1965) when a sufficient number of producers request changes to a marketing program, the MDARD Director conducts a hearing.  If there is enough support, the department conducts the election so growers of the commodity can decide on whether to move forward.

Michigan corn producers turned down the proposed assessment increase to the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan in a referendum held in February, 2016.

AVMA- States reviewing role in Rx drug monitoring

AVMA | Posted on May 2, 2016

Veterinarians’ role in prescription-drug monitoring

At least 10 states are considering whether veterinarians should be included in prescription drug monitoring programs, which compile data on prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances in a statewide database. Proponents of these programs say they can help stem opioid abuse by preventing patients from receiving multiple prescriptions for these drugs. There is ongoing debate about whether veterinarians should be included in the requirements to report their prescribing and dispensing, and to consult the database before offering opioids to patients/clients.


Last month, the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy finalized regulations that exclude veterinarians from mandatory participation in the program. A bill signed into law earlier this year in New Hampshire clarifies that veterinarians need to report their dispensing data every seven days instead of daily, as is required of other health practitioners

Australia set to block sale of massive ranch to Chinese firm

CNN | Posted on April 30, 2016

The Australian government said Friday that the deal for China's Dakang Australia to take control of the Kidman beef company is "contrary to the national interest."

Dakang has until Tuesday to respond to the government's concerns, but the announcement means the deal is likely to be blocked.

The Chinese company and its local partner, Australian Rural Capital, want to buy Kidman and 77,300 square kilometers (30,000 square miles) of its land for $370 million Australian dollars ($283 million). Dakang brought on board ARC, which was planning to take a 20% stake, in an effort to overcome opposition to selling so much land to foreigners.

But that wasn't enough to sway Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison.

He said he was worried that selling the Kidman property in one huge chunk had made it hard for Australian bidders to compete.

Coexistence Plan for Alfalfa Hay in Western Canada now available

Seed Quest | Posted on April 30, 2016

Recognizing that GM development of alfalfa and other crop kinds will continue, the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) agreed to facilitate a value chain process to develop a coexistence plan for conventional, organic and GM alfalfa production, first in Eastern Canada in 2013, and now in Western Canada.

Many experts contributed to the development of the Western coexistence plan and voluntary Best Management Practices (BMP’s), including forage specialists, alfalfa producers, seed companies and honey producers. The group reviewed the biology of alfalfa in Canada and alfalfa hay production systems, and tailored the BMP’s to the specific needs of Western Canada. The plan does not advocate for or against the commercialization of GM alfalfa, or favor any one system. The result is a science-based document designed to help farmers understand and incorporate the voluntary BMP’s into their crop management system, whether conventional, organic or GM.

Saving the planet, one cow burp at a time

Newsworks | Posted on April 29, 2016

Hristov and his team study ways to reduce those emissions, so they have gotten very good at quantifying the amount their cows exhale. Prompted by some extra snacks, cow number 2050 ducks her head into a hooded machine that records the amount of methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide in her burps. During experiments, the scientists take eight measurements from each cow over several days. In a few months, this gives a snapshot of just how much methane the animals churn out -- and whether particular interventions work to slash that pollution.

One way to reduce the environmental impact of cow digestion is to chemically block the creation of methane in the gut. Hristov's group has been testing an inhibitor made by DSM Nutritional Products that is added to cow feed to do just that. It's called 3-nitrooxypropanol, or 3NOP, and prevents an enzyme in bacteria from powering the last step of methane formation.

So far, the compound appears to work. In Penn State's study, which was partially funded by DSM, methane emissions fell by 30 percent, compared to controls. The decrease persisted for the entire 12-week period the cows were on the drug, and milk production didn't suffer. Hristov, who previously evaluated a variety of natural herbs and oils for similar effects, sees 3NOP as a breakthrough.

Dry La Niña period likely to follow El Niño

San Francisco Chronicle | Posted on April 29, 2016

The monthly climate outlook released this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects that most of California will remain in drought over the next several months. The forecast reverses last month’s projection that nearly half of the state would begin seeing relief.

Kirsty Perrett (l to r), pushes Zephina Robertson, 7 months, in a stroller as Graham Robertson walks alongside while out for a walk at Dolores Park on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

The change reflects the results of a disappointing El Niño, which didn’t deliver the wetter-than-average winter that many had hoped for, and the increased odds of a La Niña emerging this fall — now at 70 percent.

While El Niño represents a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean and is associated with jolts in global weather that often bring more rain and snow to California, La Niña is marked by cool equatorial waters and has virtually the opposite effect on weather.

“There is a trend for drier-than-normal conditions across the southern United States,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief of the operations branch of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

U.S. animal ag has some work to do

Feedstuffs | Posted on April 29, 2016

America’s livestock and poultry farmers have some work to do.

More than half the people in a recent nationwide survey by The Center for Food Integrity strongly agree with the statement, “If farm animals are treated decently and humanely, I have no problem consuming meat, milk and eggs.” Only one in four people in the same survey strongly agree with the statement, “U.S. meat is derived from humanely treated animals.”

See the gap?