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Agriculture News

Innovative plan to combine housing, farmland nears vote

Daily Democrat | Posted on October 29, 2018

In a first for the Bay Area, developers hoping to break ground on a new housing complex next year are wooing potential residents by offering a quirky but increasingly popular perk. It’s not a golf course, health club or even a pet spa — the big draw will be a farm, and access to all the tomatoes, zucchini and kale you can eat. The “Agrihood” development plan heading to the Santa Clara City Council for a vote as early as next month calls for 361 homes and a small farm to be built on vacant land across the street from Westfield Valley Fair and down the road from Santana Row, near the San Jose border. If the council approves the proposal, it would introduce the Bay Area to a new trend already taking the national real estate world by storm.

Demand for Larger Farm Operating Loans Bears Watching

Farm Equipment | Posted on October 25, 2018

he Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released it third quarter Ag Finance Databook last Friday and its headline read “Large Scale Financing Drives Ag Lending Activity Higher.” In summarizing its findings, the report said, “Large operating loans made by large agricultural banks led to a significant increase in farm lending in the third quarter of 2018. A sharp increase in the volume of loans exceeding $1 million was a primary contributor to the increase in non-real estate farm lending. In particular, a majority of the increase was supported by loans used to fund current operating expenses. The increase in the size of loans also sharply increased the share of agricultural lending at large banks while interest rates on farm loans continued to trend upward.”

Court order stalls Arkansas hog farm permit decision

The State | Posted on October 25, 2018

A judge has further delayed an Arkansas hog farm's permit application to operate near the Buffalo River watershed. Newton County Circuit Judge John Putman issued a stay Wednesday on an order issued in August by the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission. The order had reopened the permit application process for C&H Hog Farms. The farm is permitted to house about 6,500 hogs on Big Creek.

DowDuPont to Record $4.6 Billion Charge as Agriculture Unit Suffers

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on October 25, 2018

DowDuPont Inc.’s agriculture unit is taking a $4.6 billion charge in the third quarter after the business lowered its long-term expectations on sales and profits, a move that underscores challenges agribusinesses are facing in the Americas. DowDuPont said in securities filings Thursday that it recalculated the fair value of goodwill and other intangible assets on the books of the merged Dow and DuPont company, and determined that the values of assets in its agricultural unit had fallen.

Kansas City Fed Update: Ag Lending, Farmland Values, and Farm Income

Farm Policy News | Posted on October 25, 2018

“Non-real estate lending increased significantly in the third quarter, according to the National Survey of Terms of Lending to Farmers. The total volume of non-real estate farm loans was more than 30 percent higher than a year ago.  This sharp growth in farm lending followed steady increases earlier in 2018 and represents the largest annual percentage increase in the third quarter since 2002.”

Incidence of Financial Stress on Illinois Grain Farms

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on October 25, 2018

Over time working capital has deteriorated and debt-to-asset ratios have increased on grain farms across the Midwest. Average levels of working capital and debt-to-asset ratios still suggest an overall strong financial position for grain-based agriculture. However, averages mask diversity in financial positions across farms. Ranges in debt-to-asset and working capital positions are presented in this article using data on grain farms enrolled in Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM). At the end of 2017, 12% of grain farms had debt-to-asset ratios exceeding 0.50, up from 7% at the end of 2013.

New CRISPR tool opens up more of the genome for editing

Science Daily | Posted on October 25, 2018

Researchers have discovered a Cas9 enzyme that can target almost half of the locations on the genome, significantly widening its potential use.

Communities Want Trees Thinned. Timber Companies Want Contracts. So What’s The Problem?

Pew Trust | Posted on October 25, 2018

Many of the trees that Ford’s Forest Health Company removes are too thin to turn into conventional lumber products, such as boards and planks. So he chips them. And now, six years into his 10-year tree thinning contract with the Forest Service, he has far more chips than he can sell. Four orange-brown heaps of wood chips, as high as 20 feet tall, loom around his small sawmill in the mountain town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The heaps collectively cover five acres, he calculates. They’re so vast that his company has halved the area it thins per year to between 500 and 600 acres. “We’ve slowed down,” he said, “because you can only pile so many wood chips.”The Trump administration, states and local leaders — including many environmentalists — agree that more must be done to avert catastrophic wildfire, including thinning trees. But few timber companies have found a way to make a profit from the stewardship work land managers want.That means the work is costly, and can be delayed while contractors tinker with their business model.Mechanical thinning on steep slopes can cost taxpayers up to $2,000 per acre in Colorado, said Courtney Schultz, director of the public lands policy group at Colorado State University. While it’ll take controlled burns to improve forest conditions on a large scale, she said, the state also needs contractors who can turn forest debris into dollars.

Monsanto, DuPont cannot escape dicamba class action suits

Reuters | Posted on October 25, 2018

The federal judge overseeing lawsuits alleging dicamba-based weedkillers have caused crop damage has denied requests by defendants Bayer AG unit Monsanto and DuPont that he dismiss several class action claims broader than those contained in the multidistrict litigation master complaint. U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh in Cape Girardeau, Missouri denied the companies’ motion to strike the claims from seven individual lawsuits, rejecting their arguments that allowing them to remain would harm judicial efficiency and violate civil procedure laws.

Culver's allows guests to support Wisconsin dairy farmers

Wisconsin State Farmer | Posted on October 25, 2018

Anyone who knows a dairy farmer, knows things are tough right now as they deal with the ramification of trade wars, collapsed prices of milk and other commodities. Wisconsin lost 47 dairy farms in August, putting the state on pace for its worst year since 2013. Since 2017, more than 650 Wisconsin dairy farms have gone out of business.  More than three decades ago, Culver's got its start with the help of Wisconsin dairy farmers and is committed to efforts that help dairy farmers today and into the future, according to a news release from Culver's. Since Culver's has long believed in the importance of supporting their neighbors — especially in tough times like those dairy farmers are facing — Culver's is setting out to allow guests to do something special for Wisconsin dairy farmers starting Oct. 22.