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Agriculture News

U.S. Supreme Court ties, allowing landmark culvert order to stand in Washington

Capital Press | Posted on June 11, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court today split 4-4 and will let stand a lower-court order requiring Washington to remove hundreds of culverts to protect tribal fishing rights, an order that farm groups warn will bolster legal challenges to dams and irrigation systems. The tie, made possible by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s recusal, is a victory for 21 Western Washington tribes that had previously prevailed in U.S. District Court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.Washington appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing the order misinterpreted the Stevens Treaties, which the tribes signed in 1854 and 1855.Several Western states, including Idaho, had filed briefs urging the high court to overturn the culvert-removal order. The Washington, Oregon and Idaho Farm Bureaus also filed briefs, echoing the states’ concerns.Former Justice Department lawyer Nathanael Watson, who litigated tribal cases, said the tie vote improves the negotiating position

Trade war breaks out: Will it reach chicken and turkey?

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 11, 2018

Something that nobody wanted has started – a trade war. At least nobody on the south side of the Rio Grande wanted it, because on the other side it seems that it was wanted. In response to tariffs on steel and aluminum, the Mexican government has decided to impose several tariffs on various American farm products.  For many, that was a lukewarm response, or even timid, very timid, since Mexico "punished" the U.S. with tariffs on cranberries (how many cranberries do Mexicans eat?) and bourbon (maybe we do consume more this, but I doubt it is consumed more than tequila). Corn?  In 2016, Mexico imported 54,500 metric tons of corn from Brazil. By 2017, this figure increased to 583,200 metric tons, and in the first quarter of 2018 it is already at 107,000 metric tons.

Economic challenges of converting to cage-free eggs

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 11, 2018

The number of eggs consumed per person has to do with the retail price of the product. When consumers are presented with various prices of eggs, they tend to choose the lowest-priced option, explained Maro Ibarburu, business analyst, Egg Industry Center.  "This is the reason why conventional eggs are still 84% of the market.  The U.S. has one of the world's lowest egg production costs, which has helped the U.S. maintain egg exports of 5% annually.  This helps maintain the market. A relatively small change in supply can result in a large change in price.  Since cage free eggs are costlier to produce, as the U.S. industry converts to cage free, it will lose its low cost position in the world market.  This means that egg export volume will decrease,

AEM hosts EPA and USDA for ag equipment demonstration on nutrient management

AEM | Posted on June 9, 2018

On May 9th, AEM hosted its 3rd annual agricultural equipment demonstration for officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture at the University of Maryland’s Wye Research Farm.

Future of agriculture grows at fairs

My San Antonio | Posted on June 9, 2018

The importance of agriculture is abundant — from the food we eat, the major industries it supports and the benefits it provides to our environment. But looking ahead, in order for agriculture to continue to advance, it’s essential to educate and inspire young minds, invest in the next generation and turn today’s youth into tomorrow’s leaders. That’s where youth agriculture organizations come in. Across the country, state and county fairs have a long tradition of doing just that — bringing people together, promoting community and connecting all ages. Members of youth agricultural organizations are familiar faces at these events. For them, state and county fairs are more than just an experience — they serve as a platform.

Mountaire, Delaware enter consent decree over wastewater

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 9, 2018

Mountaire Farms and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) entered into a consent decree that addresses wastewater-related permit violations at its poultry processing operations in Millsboro, Delaware. Mountaire, in 2017, had been advised by DNREC that it had violated the conditions of its permits to treat and spary irrigate reclaimed wastewater onto nearby agricultural farmland. DNREC notified the company that it had exceeded allowable levels of nitrates, fecal coliform and chlorine. The company had since stated that it was working to correct the situation. The decree, which has been submitted for approval in Delaware Superior Court, requires Mountaire to pay a civil penalty of $600,000 and reimburse DNREC $25,000 for expenses incurred during its investigation

If it doesn't come from a hoofed animal, you can't call it 'milk,' NC bill says

The Sacamento Bee | Posted on June 9, 2018

If a drink doesn't come from an animal with hooves, North Carolina legislators don't want you to call it "milk." Part of the General Assembly's 2018 Farm Billwould ban the marketing of milks made from plants, including almond, coconut and soy, from being labeled "milk" in North Carolina after Jan. 1. The products could still be sold, they just couldn't legally be labeled "milk" under the proposed law. That distinction would be reserved for dairy products like milk from animals, including cows and goats.

Stung by critics, amendments made to proposed NYS beekeeping bill | Posted on June 9, 2018

Following criticism from commercial and recreational beekeepers in upstate New York, the New York Senate Agriculture Committee plans to amend a proposed beekeeper registry bill.  After the committee voted 11-0 earlier this week in favor of mandatory state registration of beekeepers and their hives, industry members criticized the bill, citing a lack of public awareness of the proposal prior to the vote.  On Thursday, Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) said the committee would amend the legislation before reintroducing it to the full Senate floor, proposing a "free, voluntary" registration instead. Ritchie defended the bill's intent but said she sympathized with public hesitation about government involvement in the beekeeping industry. "The bill is not about regulation and never was," Ritchie said. "This is only about getting information out."  Despite planned changes to the bill, some upstate beekeepers said they still aren't convinced.

Trump aims to split up NAFTA negotiations, deal with Canada and Mexico separately

The Washington Post | Posted on June 9, 2018

President Trump wants to end the three-party talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, aiming instead to deal separately with Canada and Mexico to restructure the trade accord, a senior adviser said Tuesday. Trump does not intend to withdraw from NAFTA, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox & Friends.” But after more than one year of multilateral discussions, he feels the current approach hasn’t been fruitful and a new one is needed, Kudlow said. “His preference now — and he asked me to convey this — is to actually negotiate with Mexico and Canada separately,” Kudlow said. “He prefers bilateral negotiations.”  It wasn’t immediately clear how such an arrangement would work. The United States, Mexico and Canada agreed to NAFTA in the 1990s, and all three countries have worked to renegotiate the deal since Trump became president. Changes would have to be agreed to by all sides.

America's largest private company - Cargill- reboots a 153-year-old strategy

Bloomberg | Posted on June 9, 2018

William Wallace Cargill pioneered the modern agricultural trading industry in 1865 when he established a string of grain warehouses across the American Midwest. Having a deep-pocketed buyer that could take delivery locally gave farmers an easy way to quickly get cash for their crops, lest they rot in the field waiting on a sale or transport to a faraway market. The ability to store huge amounts of grain also gave Cargill the flexibility to time his own sales to maximize the spread between what he paid farmers and what he could get from distant food processors or exporters. That business model of playing the middleman between farmers and their ultimate customers has enjoyed a lucrative 153-year run, turning Cargill Inc. into the largest privately held company in the U.S. It had revenue of $109.7 billion in 2017 and employed about 155,000 workers—more than the population of Dayton—in offices across 70 countries. And the roughly 100 members of the founding Cargill and MacMillan families who still own the company have become fabulously wealthy, with 14 billionaires among the ruling clan, one of the largest concentrations of wealth in any family-controlled business anywhere in the world. Yet Minnesota-based Cargill’s business is falling victim to a scourge that’s already upended media, retailing, and other venerable industries: digital disruption. Cargill long made fat profits by having far more information about global commodity prices than the local farmers it negotiated with or the food companies it sold to. But today, even a small Iowa farmer with a smartphone or a tablet can get real-time data about weather conditions and prices facing his Brazilian counterparts. This change has decreased farmers’ dependence on the middlemen and lowered the spread that Cargill and other big buyers used to make on such deals. American farmers have also expanded their in-house storage by almost 25 percent over the past 15 years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, giving them some of the timing flexibility that only middlemen previously had. “The days of ‘Hey, we’re going to buy your crops, we’re going to store it, we’re going to play the carry’—you know, sell it at a profit—it’s over,” says Cargill Chief Executive Officer David MacLennan.  That’s pushing MacLennan to remake Cargill into less of a trading operation and more of an integrated food company betting on growing global demand for proteins. Already the world’s No. 1 supplier of ground beef and the second-largest beef packer in the U.S., trailing only Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill is expanding aggressively into aquaculture. The company is also spending heavily on technology services that will tie today’s internet-connected farmers more closely to Cargill’s slimmed-down trading business or the new farm productivity apps it’s rolling out.