Skip to content Skip to navigation

Agriculture News

Canada's dairy farmers say they've given enough in past trade deals

CTV News | Posted on January 29, 2018

Canada's dairy industry says it has given up enough in past trade deals and shouldn't bear any additional hardship in NAFTA renegotiations. The head of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario says the U.S. should join the Trans-Pacific Partnership if it wants increased access to Canada. Graham Lloyd says giving the Americans any more access to Canada won't solve massive overproduction but would cause serious harm to the Canadian dairy farmer. He says Canada should have recalibrated the amount of foreign access permitted under TPP when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the trade deal. The remaining 3.25 per cent quota means that dairy from Australia and New Zealand will displace American product.

Where the Work-for-Welfare Movement is Heading

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on January 29, 2018

Some state lawmakers are proposing new work requirements for people receiving food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, and for people receiving government-subsidized health insurance under Medicaid. Others want welfare recipients to pass drug tests. Many are looking to crack down on fraud by requiring recipients to prove their eligibility more frequently and with better documentation. Efforts to ban the purchase of junk food and soda with food stamps are also ongoing. In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker last week called a special session for lawmakers to consider a package of draft legislation that would impose more restrictions on food stamps and Medicaid. His proposal and many others are driven by the philosophy that government benefits should only be temporary, and that people should earn the benefits if they can.But Democratic leaders and welfare advocates say the restrictions Walker and others are pushing would strip people of the support that is allowing them to scrape by, and drive them deeper into poverty.

DNR board approves measure to limit manure pollution in eastern Wisconsin to protect groundwater

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Posted on January 29, 2018

The Department of Natural Resources took a major step on Wednesday to toughen standards for manure spreading after years of complaints over polluted wells and pressure from interest groups that have been pushing officials to protect Wisconsin’s most vulnerable soils. The Natural Resources Board voted 7-0 to add new restrictions on spreading across eastern Wisconsin — a region prone to manure contamination of groundwater and drinking water.The action is the first big step by the administration of Gov. Scott Walker to toughen regulatory powers to control pollution tied to agricultural practices, but the measure still faces funding shortages and an uncertain fate in the Legislature.

Under new Iowa law, county fairs get legal protections related to animal-to-human diseases

CSG Midwest | Posted on January 29, 2018

Last year, 2.3 million people attended Iowa’s 105 volunteer-driven, youth-oriented county and regional fairs. That means a lot of people in close contact with farm animals — and, as a result, the chance for outbreaks of zoonotic disease. “I see fair officials doing due diligence to reduce the risk of visitors getting sick,” notes Iowa Sen. Dan Zumbach, who, like many farmers, has been a 4-H leader and is active on his county board. But even if the proper precautions are taken (for example, proper handling of animal waste, posting signs and promoting hand washing among participants), outbreaks can and do happen, as evidenced by occurrences in the Midwest. According to the International Association of Fairs and Expos, county fairs in Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin have had known cases of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks since 2000. One concern of Zumbach’s has been the legal liability of county fairs when these incidences occur. His response: Last year’s introduction of SF 362, which received near-unanimous approval in the Legislature. Now a new state law, the measure explicitly states that no fair authority in Iowa (state, local or regional) is liable for injuries or deaths “caused by a domesticated animal pathogen transmitted at a domesticated animal premises located on its fairgrounds.” However, those liability protections only apply if the fair meets a new statutory obligation to post a warning sign “at a conspicuous place” where the animals are being kept. The sign must note the fair’s lack of liability for pathogen transmissions and also urge visitors to protect against disease by washing their hands.
“Iowa’s recreational use statute protected the county, volunteers and exhibitors from the obvious [animal] bite or kick,” Zumbach says, “but we felt that new legislation was needed for liability protection from zoonotic diseases.”

Distributor ordered to pay $105.5 million to Cargill for billing fraud

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on January 26, 2018

A federal judge in North Carolina has ordered the owners of a warehouse and distribution company to pay $105.5 million to Cargill Inc. after a jury found they fraudulently overcharged the agricultural giant. In its complaint against WDS Inc. and owners Jennifer Maier and Brian Ewert, Cargill accused the defendants of directing employees to mark up pricing on purchase order requests beyond what the parties had agreed upon, over a period of many years. Cargill contracted with WDS for warehousing and distribution of products including film, wrap, trays and spices provided by third-party vendors.

Study: Ethanol and RFS have no impact on food prices

Nebraska Radio Network | Posted on January 26, 2018

A study by the Renewable Fuels Association seeks to combat concerns raised by opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. Bob Dinneen, the group’s president and CEO, says oil companies and others claimed the program would cause an increase in food prices. He says the analysis of the RFS program shows that hasn’t happened.“Overall, food price inflation in 2007 was 4% and in 2017 it was 1%,” Dinneen said. “The 20 year average is 2.5%. Food price inflation has actually been significantly lower during the past 10 years of the RFS.”Dinneen says oil companies continue to make inaccurate claims against the RFS, because the companies have lost some of the demand for their product to farmers in the Midwest.He notes, when the RFS began, opponents were worried corn acres would drastically increase and reduce grassland and forests. But, that hasn’t been the case.“In 2007, there were 93.5 million acres planted to corn and this past year there were 90.4, so a 3% reduction,” Dinneen said. “We’ve seen an increase in corn production, largely because of increases in corn yield.”

Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability

animal agriculture | Posted on January 25, 2018

The Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule is designed as a basic bookend system allowing animal health officials to trace a covered animal forward from the location where the animal was officially identified and back from the animal’s last location, which is often the termination point or slaughter plant. It may also include information on the animal’s interstate movements. The system was set up as a foundation framework to be expanded over time. The two basic requirements are the identification of livestock with ‘official identification’, and documentation of livestock when traveling across state lines. Four years after its implementation, the USDA has undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the rule performance and experience of stakeholders, to inform the next iteration of traceability. The USDA solicited stakeholder feedback through a series of listening sessions around the country. The ADT State/Federal Working Group condensed this feedback into a list of 14 preliminary recommendations developed to address the key issues brought forward by stakeholders. NIAA ADT Strategy Forum attendees focused on four of the ADT working group’s preliminary recommendations: the Electronic Identification Device (EID) system for cattle, public/private data sharing, exemptions from the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) requirement, and the requirement of a uniform official ID ear-tag. If required, EID format must be a choice that is accessible, reasonably cost-effective, and offer ease of use by cattle producers; be supported by adequate infrastructure; and allow accomplishment of the goals of traceability. Producers and the industry have concerns regarding the amount of data that can be carried on an EID tag or CVI, the security of that data, and the ownership of the data. CVI exemptions in the current ADT are a significant source of confusion both to producers and veterinarians. Finally, while producers are not generally opposed to EID, and in fact often use EID tags for management purposes, the industry has yet to embrace the 840 tag.

Scientists analyze crop failure in the Andes

Facts Week | Posted on January 25, 2018

Kenneth Feeley, the Smathers Chair of Tropical Tree Biology in the University of Miami’s Department of Biology, is an expert in studying the effects of climate change on tropical forests. From the mountains of Peru to the lowlands of the Amazon, Feeley examines the ramifications of climate change on the trees and other species that comprise the diverse forests of these regions. Yet, recently, Feeley shifted gears from studying tropical forests to examining the impacts of climate change in rural farming communities in Peru. As co-author of a study published in Global Change Biology, Feeley, along with fellow biologist, Richard Tito, a native Quechua Indian from the region and the study’s first author, discovered that tough times lie ahead for rural farmers growing the Andes’ staple crops–corn and potatoes. The simulation revealed that, with just a small temperature increase of 1.3 degrees to 2.6 degrees, nearly all the corn plants were killed by invading birds and pest insects. Potato plants fared even worse. When potatoes were grown at lower elevations (but in their normal soil), most of the plants died and any potatoes that survived were of such low quality they had no market value.

SCOTUS decision on WOTUS delivers uncertainty

Agri-Pulse | Posted on January 25, 2018

Current and future court challenges to the “waters of the U.S.” rule must be heard in federal district courts, not circuit courts of appeals, the Supreme Court said Monday in a unanimous decision that ultimately could lead to lawsuits filed all over the country. The court did not buy the arguments of the federal government, most environmental groups and some states that federal appeals courts are the proper venue for litigation over the rule, which has been blasted by the vast majority of farm groups as overly broad but supported by conservation groups that say it strikes the proper regulatory balance. The decision sets up a battle in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals over a nationwide stay of the WOTUS rule that the court issued in October 2015. Because the Supreme Court said that jurisdiction for WOTUS litigation lies in the district court, that means the 6th Circuit will almost certainly have to dissolve its stay wh

Cooperative Sales Could Reap Tax Breaks, or Not, While C-Corps Lose Some Attraction

DTN | Posted on January 25, 2018

While members of Congress try to deconstruct a tax-law change that drives farm sales to cooperatives over private companies, farmers are taking advantage of the law change and wondering whether they will get to continue reaping the rewards. Then there are the farmers who would like to take advantage of some of the new 20% tax breaks for pass-through income, but they sell their commodities through C corporations. Instead of a tax deduction, they could face higher tax rates if they do not restructure those corporations. In the run-up to completing the new tax law, some in Congress worked to offer a counter tax deduction for grain cooperatives. The new provision on "qualified cooperative dividends" from cooperatives was written to benefit not just any patronage dividend, but also any "per unit retain allocation." That translated into any amount paid to patrons for products sold for them. The language also broadens out further into any revenue from a farmer cooperative "that is includible in gross income." The tax break amounts to 20% of all income that comes from those dividends or sales from a farmer cooperative. "That's the problem is it's extremely broad," said Paul Neiffer, an accountant and principal with CliftonLarsonAllen. "It's essentially any payment a cooperative gives to a farmer, including purchasing their crop."If Congress had limited the provision strictly to patronage dividends, then it would be a much smaller issue. And after the implications were flushed out a little bit earlier this month, Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and John Thune, R-S.D., began working with groups representing farmer cooperatives and grain companies to correct the language in the new law.