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Agriculture News

New Iowa law changes process for partitioning estates; goal is to help ‘save family farms’

CSG Midwest | Posted on October 25, 2018

It is too common a story line in farm country: The parents pass away, and the entire farm has to be sold to resolve inheritance disputes. In many states, when heirs can’t agree on how to split the property, one common option for a judge is to order a “partition by sale,” with the money then proportionally divided among them. 
But what if one of the family members would like to continue farming the land? “Partition by sale” doesn’t account for this desire among some heirs — a concern that led Iowa legislators to pass SF 2175 this year. “It is a bill to save family farms,” Rep. Lee Hein says of the new law, which took effect in July.Here is how the new partition process will work. First, when disagreements exist among heirs of an Iowa farm, a court-appointed “referee” will establish the value of the land. The determination of fair market value must be completed by three disinterested, knowledgeable appraisers. Each heir will then have 30 days to object to the appraisal, as well as have the chance to buy out other family members, without having to put the property up for sale.SF 2175 was passed unanimously by the Iowa House and with only one dissenting vote in the Senate.

Chinese cutbacks cause nitrogen price surge

Capital Press | Posted on October 25, 2018

A sharp cutback in Chinese fertilizer exports is responsible for the steep increase in prices for urea and other forms of nitrogen over the past year. Nitrogen is a major expense for farmers, with the price of such products as anhydrous ammonia and urea ammonium nitrate, or UAN, generally tracking the price of urea, a globally traded commodity.A ton of urea is now trading in the range of $310-$325 along the Gulf Mexico wholesale market, up from a low point of roughly $160 in mid-2017.

Dairies Continue To Close At A Rapid Pace Throughout United States

Dairy Herd Management | Posted on October 25, 2018

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 497 dairy farms have called it quits year-to-date. That number is 630 year-over-year. While Wisconsin is a big dairy state, operations are closing throughout the United States.

Chinese and Brazilian companies qualify for anti-China tariff bailout from USDA

Washington Post | Posted on October 25, 2018

A Chinese-owned pork producer is eligible for federal payments under President Trump’s $12 billion farm bailout, a program that was established to help U.S. farmers hurt by Trump’s trade war with China. Smithfield Foods, a Virginia-based pork producer acquired in 2013 by a Chinese conglomerate now named WH Group, can apply for federal money under the bailout program created this summer, said Agriculture Department spokesman Carl E. Purvis. JBS, a subsidiary of a Brazilian company by the same name, is also eligible to apply for the federal money. The two companies are the biggest pork producers in the United States. But the possibility of money flowing to foreign-owned businesses underscores the difficulty of trying to craft government programs that benefit only domestic firms. The international reach of companies makes it hard to ensure that federal dollars stay in U.S. hands, regardless of their intended target.The bailout program has also angered smaller hog producers, who expressed frustration that it appears likely to help large, international farms that already dominate the U.S. pork market.

Two more leave as Ohio Governor Kasich makes final stand on limiting Lake Erie algae

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on October 25, 2018

With less than three months remaining in office, a frustrated Ohio Gov. John Kasich is making a final stand in his bid to rid Lake Erie of algae blooms. The governor fired Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels on Friday,and followed with a swipe at fellow Republicans in the General Assembly on Tuesday over their opposition to his move for more dramatic action to clean the lake of sickly green algae that imperils drinking water and recreation.The departures at the top of the Agriculture Department were not limited to Daniels.After Daniels was fired, deputy director Janelle Mead and chief legal counsel Dustin Calhoun submitted their resignations effective Nov. 1. Mead joined the department in 2011 and oversaw legislative, communication and marketing efforts. Calhoun joined the department as its top lawyer in 2016 after serving as chief counsel at the Department of Youth Services.Kasich issued an executive order in July, asking that eight watersheds that drain into western Lake Erie be declared in distress to allow tougher limits to be imposed on farmers’ use of fertilizers that ultimately drain into the lake and fuel algae blooms. A state panel has yet to act on his request, but could vote Nov. 1.

Investing in longevity: Ohio dairy builds second facility for mature cows

Progressive Dairy | Posted on October 25, 2018

VanderMade says they wanted the cows to be in a low-stress environment and never have to look for a place to eat, drink or lie down. The idea was to create an environment specifically for the comfort, health and longevity of the older cows.“We want our cows to live a long, happy life,” VanderMade says. He adds they now feel their older cows are producing to their full genetic potential. Some may have considered designing a barn just for older cows to be a gamble, but VanderMade says the facility has paid huge dividends. “This has added one year of life to the entire herd,” he says.They are currently milking cows that are 12 to 13 years old.The first- and second-lactation cows housed at the original farm and the older cows at the new farm are fed the exact same feed, which is all stored and mixed at the same site. The younger cows have a rolling herd average of 28,500 pounds, and the mature cows are averaging 34,000 pounds of milk annually.

Monsanto punitive damages slashed by judge; Verdict upheld

Money Watch | Posted on October 25, 2018

A judge on Monday upheld a jury's verdict that found Monsanto's weed killer caused a groundskeeper's cancer, but she slashed the amount of money to be paid from $289 million to $78 million. In denying Monsanto's request for a new trial, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos cut the jury's punitive damage award from $250 million to $39 million. The judge had earlier said she had strong doubts about the jury's entire punitive damage award.In a tentative ruling on Oct. 11, Bolanos said it appeared the jurors overreached with their punitive damages award. She said then that she was considering wiping out the $250 million judgment after finding no compelling evidence presented at trial that Monsanto employees ignored evidence that the weed killer caused cancer.The judge reversed course Monday and said she was compelled to honor the jurors' conclusions after they listened to expert witnesses for both sides debate the merits of Johnson's claim.

Farmers helped propel Trump to the White House. Their loyalty is being tested by his trade war.

CNN | Posted on October 25, 2018

In good years, cargo trains moving west along the flat, sweeping grasslands of North Dakota’s plains are a sign of money rolling in. Today, as tariffs from America’s largest foreign soybean market -- China -- threaten to upend the industry, many trains sit idle.“There are no shuttle trains leaving. There is no nothing,” said Joe Ericson, the 38-year-old president of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association. “They can’t get rid of the beans.”In conversations with more than 50 farmers, producers and agriculture experts in five states representing each of the five food groups, one trend was clear: The once-deep ties to President Donald Trump have frayed over the past year. But they remain intact for a small majority of farmers CNN spoke with ahead of the critical 2018 midterm elections. Democrats, who see an opening with Trump’s trade war, will likely struggle to make inroads with these voters.The President gives all of them plenty to complain about. They grumble about his tweeting -- that’s not their style -- and what his trade war has done to their bottom lines. But if the President’s re-election were held tomorrow, most of them would back him. They trust Trump, and many believe Democrats don’t understand or largely ignore their way of life.

The 2018 milk prices could be the new normal

Hoard's Dairymen | Posted on October 25, 2018

Milk prices have remained in a fairly narrow range thus far in 2018, with the monthly low of $15.30 per hundredweight (cwt.) registered in February and the high of $16.30 per cwt. posted in June. Early in 2018 there was optimism that U.S. milk prices would move higher in the second half of the year, as it was expected that stronger demand, especially export demand, and lower milk supplies would give a boost to prices. The time has come to recognize that it is going to take a notable shift in one of three areas to move US milk prices higher: 1. A slowdown in U.S. milk production 2. Stronger domestic demand for dairy products 3. Stronger U.S. dairy exports

Farmers in Hawaii lost $28M because of volcano

Insurance Journal | Posted on October 24, 2018

A survey of Big Island farmers has found that they suffered nearly $28 million in damages because of the months-long eruption earlier this year of the Kilauea volcano, the Hawaii Tribune Herald reported. The survey of 46 farmers by University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources found they collectively lost an estimated $27.9 million in destroyed property, the newspaper reported.Of the total damages reported, nearly two thirds, $17 million, was damage to crops, while destroyed land, buildings and inventory accounted for $4.1 million, $3.3 million and $3 million in losses, respectively, the Herald Tribune reported.The survey found that $13.3 million of the reported damages were from the floriculture industry, with another $6.5 from the papaya industry and $2.5 from the macadamia nut industry.