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TPP Deal Killed

hite House officials conceded Friday that the president’s hard-fought-for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal would not pass Congress in light of the election of Donald Trump, who campaigned on anti-global trade policies.  Desmond O’Rourke, publisher of the World Apple Report, noted that several weeks ago Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he would not allow debate on the TPP to be raised in the lame duck session. The White House announcement confirms that.

St Louis Fed Reserve: Agricultural Finance Monitor

According to the latest survey of agricultural bankers in the Eighth Federal Reserve District, a solid majority reported that farm income declined in the third quarter of 2016 relative to a year ago. Consistent with previous surveys, proportionately more bankers continue to report that falling farm income is pressuring farmers to trim their household expenditures and farming- and ranching-related capital outlays.

What’s organic? A debate over dirt may boil down to turf

If a fruit or vegetable isn’t grown in dirt, can it be organic? That is the question roiling the world of organic farming, and the answer could redefine what it means to farm organically.  At issue is whether produce that relies solely on irrigation to deliver nutrients to plants — through what is known as hydroponic and aquaponic systems — can be certified organic. And the National Organic Standards Board, an advisory group that makes recommendations to the federal secretary of agriculture, will get an earful on the topic at its meeting in St. Louis this week.

Fed reports highlights farm struggles

When a recent gathering of Southern Illinois farmers revealed that 7 out of 10 of them had serious concerns about the viability of their farming operation over the next three years, one might think they were being overly dramatic.  But late last week, three of the Federal Reserve Banks that serve the Corn Belt confirmed the seriousness of the financial struggle farmers are having.

USDA: Midsize farms hold their own

The number of midsize growers in the U.S. has dropped slightly but the category hasn’t experienced as much change as other farm sizes, according to USDA.  Farms in the midsize category, with roughly $350,000 to $1 million in annual revenue, declined in number by 5 percent between 1992 and 2012, according to a recent USDA study.  To compare, large farms with more than $1 million in revenue more than doubled in number, while small commercial farms — those with revenues between $10,000 and $350,000 — declined in number by 22 percent.

USDA to host Livestock Mandatory Reporting meetings

The US Dept. of Agriculture announced several meetings to gather feedback from industry on the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) program in addition to current livestock and meat marketing practices. The first meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15-16 in Washington.  The first informational meeting will include several activities. The Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) will provide an overview of current LMR reporting and audit processes. Industry stakeholders also will be able to participate in “interest-based problem-solving and training” and identify dates for future meetings.

State attorneys object to EPA's move on Clean Energy Incentive Program

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, along with 25 other state attorneys general sent a letter criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency this week, alleging the agency is ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court’s stay of the Clean Power Plan. Earlier this year Fox joined with other states in challenging the EPA’s carbon regulations, which would require Montana to reduce carbon emissions by more than 40 percent. That lawsuit resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court issuing an injunction on implementation of the Clean Power Plan until legal challenges have concluded.

Trade chief: protectionism is not the answer to job losses

The head of the world's leading trade body says that hostility toward trade agreements witnessed in the United States and other countries is misplaced and that protectionist measures can hurt the poorest most. World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo says protectionism "is the wrong response" to voter concerns about job losses and economic uncertainty. He says the introduction of new technology is a much bigger threat to jobs. Azevedo declined to comment specifically on the U.S. presidential candidates. However, he said Monday that "the major question is ...

Obama on Food, Big Ag and GMOs

Agriculture and food policy have not become even small issues in the 2016 presidential campaign, but on Friday, TV host Bill Maher asked President Barack Obama about “food purity” and “torturing animals on factory farms” and got answers.  Obama did not say anything that deviated from his previous statements, but it was a rare, three-minute exchange with the president on the subject.  Maher asked if food should not be put “more at the top of the agenda” on health care.  Obama replied, “We’ve got a disease care system; we should have a health care system,” which would include nutrition and ex

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