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Recently signed Iowa law will pour more dollars into farm-based water quality projects

Over the next 12 years, Iowa will commit an additional $282 million to water quality, the result of legislation passed early in 2018 after years of unsuccessful legislative initiatives in past sessions. Even with SF 512 now law, Rep. John Wills says, it still is only “the beginning of the conversation [on water quality], not the end” in Iowa. The measure was passed along a party-line vote, with opponents expressing concern that the bill does not do enough to hold accountable those who receive dollars from the state — either through the benchmark goals or the ongoing testing of waterways.

Spring is running 20 days early

A longer growing season sounds great, especially given the dire warnings of food shortages resulting from climate change. Hang on, though, because a longer growing season is not always a good thing. The longer growing season is inherently related to food shortages. Really. We can see it happening even now. “Plant productivity has not increased” alongside the number of growing season days, according to the National Climate Assessment. There are a number of reasons for this.  Freeze damage caused by late-season frosts. This is straightforward.

A corporate takeover of legal weed looms in California

Many small farmers in California worry about this new world of legal pot. They’ve been the backbone of the industry through the drug-war years of heavy enforcement and heavy penalties, and they know all too well what it’s like to live as outlaws. They now fear that big agriculture will take over the industry that some of them pioneered and worked in for generations. Under Proposition 64, also called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, after Jan. 1, 2023, there will be no state cap in California on the size or production amount of marijuana farms.

As milk prices decline, worries about dairy farmer suicides rise

As the nation's dairy farmers struggle through their fourth year of depressed milk prices, concerns are rising that many are becoming depressed themselves. The outlook for the next year is so bleak, it's heightening worries — especially in the Northeast — about farmer suicides.  Agri-Mark Inc., a dairy cooperative with about 1,000 members, saw three farmers take their own lives in the past three years. The most recent was last month.

CME reverses course on addressing cattle market volatility

Four months after the CME Group “declared victory over cattle market volatility” the futures exchange offered yet another surprise for the cattle industry. On Feb. 1, the CME issued an advisory notice to the marketplace that stated three delivery points would not renew their participation on the Live Cattle Futures Contract: North Platte, NE; Columbus, NE, and Pratt, KS.

USDA-ERS Report: Farmland Values, 2000-2016

Economic theory suggests that farmland values will change in response to changes in the underlying factors that support them, namely, returns to farmland. One measure of returns to farmland is net cash farm income per acre, or the net return that an acre of farmland generates.  Values for  both cropland and pastureland, two major uses for farmland, increased substantially in 2004-14, nearly doubling in real, or inflation-adjusted, terms.But national trends in U.S.

The Environmentalist Case In Favor Of GMO Food

Consumers are deeply suspicious of GMO foods--products made from genetically modified agricultural crops.  I was concerned about the environmental impact and the integrity of the food production. But then I decided to teach a class on "Food Law" at the University of Chicago, and in preparation I read the literature—not the pamphlets, but rather the underlying science. I was astonished to discover that my prior suspicions were deeply misguided.


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