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Agriculture News

New equity funds ignite rural renaissance and some renewables

Agri-Pulse | Posted on December 18, 2017

New private investment funds financed by the Farm Credit System and rigorously vetted by USDA are capturing some of the equity capital that typically ignores rural America. Led by St. Louis-based Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners, which USDA licensed as a Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) in 2014, current and prospective RBICs could deliver over $1 billion in capital earmarked for rural business financing. Advantage Principal Tim Hassler sees compelling need to pump this new investment capital into rural America. “People in rural America have a hard time finding the right capital resources that a business needs,” he tells Agri-Pulse. “So, it certainly holds back the rural economy and that’s exacerbated by younger generations moving to urban areas because of the shortage of quality jobs in their rural areas.” Hassler says that with the East and West coasts controlling 80 percent of venture capital, Middle America is seriously shortchanged, especially in rural areas. He explains that as an RBIC, “We’ve met with a tremendous number of companies seeking capital . . . which tells me there’s significant pent-up demand for capital.”Hassler sees an urgent need not only for today’s RBICs but plenty more. That’s because each RBIC has its own niche, with Advantage being a private equity fund focused on “established companies, to help grow them.” Its parent, Advantage Capital, has been doing that since 1992, targeting rural businesses with significant growth potential.

NYC passes new urban agriculture bill

Metro | Posted on December 18, 2017

The bill will create a new digital hub will help organize urban farmers throughout the city. The New York City council passed a bill today that will create the city’s first centralized digital hub meant specifically for urban agriculture. This hub will be run entirely by the city and will hopefully be seen as a resource for both new and established businesses. This bill, entitled 1661-A, is sponsored by council member Rafael Espinal, at the request of Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President, and passed overwhelmingly with a 47-0 vote in the City Council. According to Espinal, this bill will bring a new excitement to New Yorkers who are looking to go green and healthy with the expansion of the urban agriculture sector.  The website will be run by the New York City Parks and Recreation Department in collaboration with educators and representatives from existing community gardens. The site, which will go live on July 1st, 2018,  will act as a one-stop-shop database for those looking to get involved with local urban gardens and farms and to help aid those who are looking to start their own. The site will also provide guidelines by the New York City Department of City Planning and New York City Department of Small Businesses to assist prospective urban farmers to develop new centers in their communities. 

Young people returning to farming

Daily Yonder | Posted on December 18, 2017

A new survey of young farmers finds these entrepreneurs have plenty of energy and ambition, but not nearly enough capital. Access to land, student debt, costs of labor and healthcare raise big questions for the next generation of farmers.

Preserving Water Quality: Challenges and Opportunities for Technological and Policy Innovations

Choices magazine | Posted on December 18, 2017

Nutrient pollution refers to water quality damages caused to water resources by various forms of nitrogen and phosphorous,which are essential nutrients for living organisms. Water pollution problems occur when the concentrations of these nutrients are elevated to harmful levels by human activity. Examples of this activity include densely populated urban areas, intensive agricultural production, and substantial energy
production from fossil fuels.

Low-protein wheat challenge deates US bakers

Food Navigator | Posted on December 18, 2017

The $23bn US bread market is facing a crisis as low-protein levels in this year’s winter wheat crop have given rise to higher costs. The US wheat industry has endured a poor harvest for the past two years, resulting in a scarcity of high-protein hard wheat.

Iowa Farmland Values, and the Corn Belt Economy- “At a Crossroads”

Farm Policy News | Posted on December 18, 2017

The 2017 Iowa State University Land Value Survey was released on Tuesday, and showed that farmland values climbed 2% this year to $7326 an acre the first increase after three years of decline.“Limited land supply is driving this year’s increase in farmland values, not an improvement in the overall farm economy, said Zhang, who leads ISU’s annual survey.”

Family farming group sues USDA to reinstate fair practice rule

Meat + Poultry | Posted on December 18, 2017

The Organization for Competitive Markets which advocates for family farming interests, is suing the US Dept. of Agriculture for withdrawing a rule intended to protect family farmers when selling live animals to large agribusiness companies and meat processors.The lawsuit brought by OCM intends to reinstate the rule to “prohibit major meat and poultry producers who contract with farmers from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices.”The Farmer Fair Practice Rule was under the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) of the USDA. GIPSA was eliminated in November as a standalone agency by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and re-established in the Fair Trade Practices program of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The Organization for Competitive Markets also claims that the rules allow farmers to hold agribusinesses accountable for practices “…like retaliation, bad faith cancellation of contracts, or collusion efforts to force farmers out of the market.”  The lawsuit, which is in the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, is in the form of a petition for review. The Organization for Competitive Markets is being represented on a pro bono basis by Democracy Forward Foundation.

As NAFTA talks continue, Canada strengthens ag ties with Mexico

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on December 14, 2017

In between rounds of negotiation on possible changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada’s Agriculture Minister concluded a two-day visit to Mexico City to strengthen bilateral relations and promote trade last week. Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay also attended the Mexican food and beverage trade show Alimentaria, touring the show with Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto and Mexican Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, José Calzada.

State files again to dismiss Colorado River ‘personhood’ lawsuit, threatens to sanction lawyer

Post Independent | Posted on December 13, 2017

Protestors spurred on by the environmental group Deep Green Resistance gathered at dusk in front of the Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse in downtown Denver Friday. High above their heads, the words "Colorado River Rights of Nature" loomed, lit by a spotlight projector placed outside the protester circle.The activists had come in support of a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in the U.S., the Colorado River Ecosystem v. the State of Colorado, which seeks to grant direct rights to nature in the United States. If successful, the case would allow anyone to file a lawsuit on behalf of the Colorado River ecosystem, including all the river's tributaries.And even as the protestors gathered on Friday, the attorney general's office filed a second motion with the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit. A Dec. 1 deadline to do so had been set by the court in response to an amended complaint filed by the plaintiffs on Nov. 6.

Wolf Administration Officials Tour New Agricultural, Environmental Learning Center at Philadelphia’s Largest Head Start Center

Pennsylvania State Government | Posted on December 13, 2017

Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, and Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell participated in the grand opening of the first Head Start center in Philadelphia to use agriculture and environmental lessons for teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts to young children.  The School District of Philadelphia welcomed Wolf Administration officials, local leaders and families to celebrate the opening of the Agricultural and Environmental Learning Center with Outdoor Engagement Learning Gardens. The Pratt Head Start Center facility, which serves 150 pre-school children, will become a model for the district’s other 100 Head Start facilities.