The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) on Wednesday launched a partnership “to improve environmental outcomes while optimizing productivity and profitability.” “Many practices that increase soil health and water quality also boost farmers’ bottom lines,” said Suzy Friedman, senior director of agricultural sustainability at EDF.“EDF and NCGA have worked together for many years to align economic incentives and environmental outcomes. Formalizing our partnership was a natural next step to accelerate progress toward our shared goals.”“The public expects greater stewardship and transparency from farmers, and it’s critical for the agricultural sector to show leadership on conservation,” said Nathan Fields, vice president of production and sustainability at NCGA.“EDF and NCGA are stronger together. We have different expertise and perspectives, and combining them is a real opportunity.”
Farmers, Fertilizer Companies, Groups Working to Address Water Quality Issues. Blair said various groups in the region, wanting to act on their own on the algae issue, could not convince Ohio Gov. John Kasich to meet with them. Instead, the Republican governor allocated $3 billion to improve water works and various other projects in the area, he said.It was frustrating not to be heard by the governor, Blair said. As a fertilizer retailer, The Andersons is on the front lines in attempting to ensure fertilizer is applied correctly and that runoff into Lake Erie is limited, he said. The algae is caused from high levels of phosphorus in the lake.Among the practices The Andersons are advocating is the 4R program: the right source, at the right rate, at the right time and at the right place."There is a spectrum of the 4Rs, and we have to help farmers build up speed in this process," Blair said.Blair admitted not many of his farmer customers are utilizing the system currently. Farmers are struggling with trying to make a profit, and a program like the 4Rs is not a priority, he said.Retailers have to be the first group to work on implementing the system, show farmers they can remain profitable and make sure the environment is safe from fertilizer runoff, he said. Retailers need to show their services, as well as their products, are valuable.
The trend is both simple and complex. For example, current numbers are not unprecedented, even in the recent past, having reached 70 bankruptcies in 2010. However, current price levels and the trajectory of the current trends suggest that this trend has not yet seen a peak. Not surprisingly, bankruptcy numbers inversely follow the rise and fall of commodity prices. After a comparatively steep spike in chapter 12 filings during the Great Recession—that 2010 peak—ag prices started rising across the board, and bankruptcies logically pivoted and started to decline. Farm bankruptcies bottomed out in 2014, but again pivoted as high prices reversed and have remained low
For example, The Guardian’s headline read like this: Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown. Their article goes on to explain that, “U.K. and U.S. citizens need to cut beef by 90% and milk by 60% while increasing beans and pulses between four and six times… Reducing meat consumption might be achieved by a mix of education, taxes, subsidies for plant-based foods and changes to school and workplace menus…”Alternatively, The Hill’s headline declared, “In order to ‘feed the world’ we must stop factory farming our animals.” And then piles on by asserting: “Worldwide, animal agriculture is responsible for 90% of methane emissions and the U.S. habit of raising animals for food contributes more than half of our carbon footprint.” Stop right there -- “raising animals for food contributes more than half of our carbon footprint?” That’s not even close to being right. The Environmental Protection Agency designates all of agriculture, collectively, as contributing only 9% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. (versus 28% for both transportation and electricity, respectively). EPA further designates livestock as representing “almost one-third of the emissions from the agriculture economic sector.” In other words, livestock are responsible for about 3% of total GHG emissions in the U.S. -- a long ways from half.
Members of DxE Bay Area chapter, whose mission is “total animal liberation,” conducted a protest Sept. 29 at McCoy’s Poultry Services in Sonoma County. They claim they believed they were following laws when trying to help chickens they said were in distress. Sonoma County animal officials took custody of 15 chickens, including six that were dead, that had been taken by the protesters, according to the report.Sonoma County Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Naugle is quoted as saying law enforcement’s role is to balance First Amendment rights with the rights of private property owners. He said recent demonstrations suggest an escalation in tactics among animal activists in the area.“Our concern is the trespass and the theft of the animals,” he is quoted as saying.
If history is any guide, the trade war with China will have lasting affects for U.S. farmers and their soybean crops that the president won’t be boasting about. Donald Trump is set to meet Xi Jinping, his counterpart in China, at the G-20 summit and traders are optimistic for a resolution. But a flashback to Richard Nixon’s 1973 soybean embargo and Jimmy Carter’s 1980 Soviet grain ban suggest that what’s already happened this year may lead to permanent changes ahead as China seeks alternatives to the U.S. market."It’s possible that China will never fully trust the U.S. as a reliable trade partner again," said Ann Berg, an independent consultant and veteran trader who started her career at Louis Dreyfus Co. in 1974. "They will always be on their toes and their decision to diversify supplies could become a ‘de facto’ import quota for U.S. soybeans."As China looks elsewhere for its beans, many countries could jump on the bandwagon and look to boost planted areas. The obvious candidates would be in South America, but Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has already warned his country is planning to increase production in the Far East for delivery to China.
rare disease has popped up in a Teton County cattle herd. The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory and the National Veterinary Services Laboratory found five cows infected with brucellosis, a bacterial disease that can pass from wild animals to cattle, according to a press release from the Wyoming Livestock Board. The disease causes cattle, elk and bison to abort their pregnancies. All reported cases in Wyoming since 1988 were caused by transmission from wildlife to livestock.
U.S. farmers would need about 11,000 markets the size of Sri Lanka to replace Chinese soybean purchases, but these days many growers will take any shred of new business they can get. A small but growing number of farmers have all but given up waiting for diplomatic solutions and started scrambling themselves to help open new markets and salvage existing ones disrupted by tariffs, according to dozens of interviews with producers, industry officials and trade lobbying groups.“Outside of China, foreign soybean importers have capitalized on bargain-priced U.S. supplies. In the European Union this year, a higher soybean crush is being encouraged by a diminished rapeseed supply and a scarcity of soybean meal shipments from Argentina. At the same time, competition from China has also depleted the normal supply of South American soybeans in Europe. Consequently, EU purchases of U.S. soybeans have swelled 150 percent compared to a year ago. Likewise, U.S. soybean sales to Mexico, Argentina, Egypt, and other Asian markets have surged. As of November 1, the year-to-year increase in U.S. sales to countries other than China is equivalent to 239 million bushels.”
A state commission declined Thursday morning to designate eight Lake Erie watersheds as distressed, which would have set in motion requirements to protect the water against toxic algae blooms.The Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission instead decided that the rules to protect Lake Erie should be written with input from the agriculture community before the distressed designation will be approved at a Feb. 15 meeting.The decision is the latest in the tug-of-war over the protections between Gov. John Kasich -- whose administration called Thursday’s move a delay tactic -- and members of the agriculture community -- who praised it.In July, Kasich signed an executive order to reduce agricultural runoff that contributes to the algae blooms in the lake, affecting 7,000 farmers in Northwest Ohio. Millions of Ohioans rely on the lake for drinking water, and algae levels were so harmful in 2014, Toledo residents were advised not to drink or use the water.
Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) has approached Argentina-based soy crusher Molinos Agro about buying its livestock feed and soy oil manufacturing plant, according to a Reuters report. A spokesman for the Perez Companc business group, which controls Molinos Agro, said the company has been approached several times by potential buyers and the offers were rejected. But Reuters reported that discussions between ADM and Molinos Agro began last year and then stalled over the price.Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have given U.S. soy crushing companies a competitive advantage over Argentina’s. Argentine soy crushers are working at half capacity, and U.S. soy crushers are benefiting from low soy prices as a result of China’s tariffs on U.S. soybeans. As U.S. soy prices go down, profits for U.S. soy processors go up.