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Trump’s push on immigration and NAFTA cast shadow over the Kansas City area economy

Expanded immigration enforcement and potential trade renegotiation are casting a shadow over Kansas City area residents and businesses. Both topics surfaced Wednesday during an agricultural trade forum at Union Station. Talk focused mostly on trade and President Donald Trump’s calls to renegotiate the North America Free Trade Agreement that covers the United States, Canada and Mexico. “For all those who are thinking about renegotiating NAFTA, our request is do no harm first and foremost,” said Neil Herrington, executive director of the Americas for the U.S.

Health insurance woes add to the risky business of farming

There are many challenges to farming for a living: It's often grueling work that relies on unpredictable factors such as weather and global market prices. But one aspect that's often ignored is the cost of health care.  A University of Vermont researcher found that nationally, most farmers cited health care costs as a top concern. Shoshanah Inwood is a rural sociologist at UVM. She has been studying the aging and shrinking farm population, and what components are needed to build a prosperous farm economy.

Slump in Farmland Values Continues

Farmland values continued to wane in the fourth quarter, according to the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions. On average, nonirrigated and irrigated farmland values dropped 6 percent, and ranchland values fell 7 percent from the same period last year (Chart 1). These downgrades were the largest since the Great Recession of 2007-09 but were relatively small compared to declines in the 1980s. The largest changes in District states occurred in Kansas and Nebraska (Table 1).

A Bee Mogul Confronts the Crisis in His Field

Mr. Adee (pronounced Ay-Dee) is America’s largest beekeeper, and this is his busy season. Some 92,000 hives had to be deployed before those buds burst into blossom so that his bees could get to the crucial work of pollination.  But it is notable that he has a business at all. For the last decade, a mysterious plague has killed billions of bees every year. Pollination services, as the bees’ work is known in the industry, has risen this year to between $180 to $200 a hive from an average of $154 a hive in 2006, Mr. Curtis said.

HSUS agrees with Animal Agriculture Alliance’s advice

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Animal Agriculture Alliance (Alliance) aren’t often on the same side of the paddock. (Shocking, right?) So I was especially struck while reading the Alliance’s list of its top five ways to fight back against animal rights activists.

Governor Mark Dayton Signs Bipartisan $35 Million Rural Finance Authority Bill

Delivering needed assistance to Minnesota’s 74,000 farmers, Governor Mark Dayton signed the bipartisan $35 million Rural Finance Authority legislation (H.F. 14) into law. The new funding will allow the Authority to continue offering eligible Minnesota farmers affordable financing and terms and conditions not offered by other traditional lenders. Without the investment, many Minnesota farmers would face a credit crunch caused by several years of low commodity prices and rising expenses.

Rural Mainstreet Begins Year Weak: One-Third Indicate Loan Defaults Biggest Banking Threat

For a 17th straight month, the Rural Mainstreet Index remained below growth neutral. • Almost one-third of bank CEOs indicated that soaring loan defaults represented the greatest Rural Mainstreet banking threat for 2017. • Almost nine often bankersreported thatlow agriculture commodity represented the biggest threat to the rural economic for 2017. • Eighty percent of bankers expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in the first half of 2017.

Video counters HSUS stance on antibiotic use

HumaneWatch, a project of the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom, released a video rebutting Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle’s assertions on antibiotic use in animal agriculture. The video addresses Pacelle’s claim that overuse of antibiotics on farms is a public health menace, pointing to recent findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that show nearly one-third of antibiotics prescribed to humans are unnecessary.

Washington orchardists take pay muddle to lawmakers

Washington tree fruit growers are asking legislators to set rules for paying piece-rate workers, effectively intervening in pending federal lawsuits spawned by a 2015 state Supreme Court decision. The ruling in Lopez v. Sakuma required growers to pay piece-rate workers separately for 10-minute rest breaks. The decision upset longstanding practice, left unresolved key questions and exposed growers to more lawsuits. The suits seek back pay for rest breaks for up to three years.

Absent Federal Policy, States Take Lead on Animal Welfare

In the opening weeks of the Trump administration, the state of animal welfare—as with so much other policy—is in upheaval. On February 9, the administration froze the implementation of the just-passed Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP)—the only comprehensive federal law that regulates the welfare of animals raised for food.  The freeze comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) removing Animal Welfare Act inspection reports from its website.


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