Dairy farmers have always dealt with big swings in milk prices. But now that that swing is hovering at some of the lowest prices per hundredweight since 2006. The USDA’s mid-January report predicted prices to fall to under $16 per hundredweight in February and beyond, a far cry from 2014 milk prices which exceeded $24 per 100 lbs. The underlying facts behind the price decline include an oversupply of milk in the United States and the closing or shrinking of what were reliable export markets a year ago. Additionally, the record prices of last year prompted a lot of farmers to add more cows, and U.S. milk production rose 4 percent — while U.S. consumption of milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream has remained more or less steady.
Norwegian company plans to build one of the world’s largest land-based salmon farms in Belfast, a project that would create 60 jobs within two years and up to 140 once it is completed, according to the company’s chief executive officer. Nordic Aquafarms, an international developer of land-based aquaculture, has signed agreements to purchase 40 acres on the outskirts of the city and plans an initial investment of $150 million in the project. The company is currently building the largest salmon farm in Europe, but Heim said that facility would be dwarfed by the one planned for Belfast, which would be roughly five times the size.
You remember the old ad campaign “Pork. The Other White Meat,” right?A lot of people do. For the pork industry, that’s a problem.The best-tasting pork chops, it turns out, aren’t the really pale, lean ones. They’re a darker pink color, marbled with fat.The famous ad campaign, launched in the low-fat ’80s by Omaha-born advertising firm Bozell, did almost too good of a job positioning pork as a lean meat, industry leaders now say.The fact that consumers still seek out whiter cuts — and then tend to overcook them into dry, white hockey pucks — contributes to falling sales of fresh pork among today’s flavor-seeking consumers. Of particular concern is consumer lack of interest in the pork chop. A slice of the pork loin, the pork chop ought to be a star, the way a steak is tops with beef.
Craig Myhre, a farmer in western Wisconsin, is trying to make a living off 600 acres of crops and a small herd of beef cattle. He also hires himself out to harvest other farmers’ fields, earning money to make payments on his combine. It’s still tough to make ends meet, despite putting in 12- to 16-hour days. In 2015, he added yet another job, as a mail carrier.“We’re constantly doing something around here to keep things moving,” said Mr. Myhre, who is 50 years old. His wife is a physician’s assistant, and sometimes climbs into the seat of a combine herself. Sometimes, that means missing his sons’ high-school football games, and staying home while friends in town take vacations. “I struggle to pay myself sometimes,” he said. Most U.S. farm households can’t solely rely on farm income, turning what was once a way of life into a part-time job. On average, 82% of U.S. farm household income is expected to come from off-farm work this year, up from 53% in 1960, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last week, the USDA said income from farming is expected to fall further over the next decade. Now, picking up work in construction or truck driving is required for many farmers to fund seed and fertilizer purchases, and keep current on loan payments for tractors and land.
Last week, our federal government made a sobering statement: It proposed to eliminate the nation’s largest working lands conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). This was done as part of the president’s larger budget, an annual, lengthy set of proposals to Congress; the latest was released last week. Although the decision to preserve CSP ultimately lies at the feet of Congress, it is deeply troubling that the agency tasked with administering the program has publicly proposed to eliminate it. For those who are new to this debate: CSP provides an important support for our farmers to enact soil and water conservation practices on their land, which is particularly valuable during a time of low commodity prices. CSP is a voluntary working lands program. “Voluntary” means farmers can opt in. “Working lands” means that, unlike with its older cousin the Conservation Reserve Program, farmers enrolled in CSP can continue to produce on their land. Both of these traits lend to CSP’s appeal to farmers. CSP is also comprehensive. In enrolling, farmers have the valuable opportunity to step back and work out how to increase conservation on their whole operation – and then, work with a government conservation professional to figure out how to make that happen. Once enrolled in a five-year contract, farmers adopt a suite of conservation practices tailored to fit both their farm and their previous experience with conservation. These practices range from planting cover crops to rotational grazing of livestock to adopting precision pesticide application.
The Oklahoma-based Noble Research Institute announced Wednesday that the group will work to create a new environmental services trading platform for agriculture to bring together both carbon-sequestration and water trading goals. Noble has brought together a small cadre of conservationists that have been working on carbon trading or water-quality trading concepts over the last several years. The Noble Foundation challenged those conservationists to look at the various attempts at similar projects and develop a new platform that would allow for both carbon and water trading together, said Bruce Knight, a former USDA undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs under the last Bush administration.Later this week Noble will issue a request for proposals to develop a protocol and business platform. Ideally the project will be testing the protocols and strategies later in the summer. Each segment of a protocol needs quantification and verification. "These are not small tasks and things need to be done carefully and methodically to make them function in a way that willing buyers and sellers can come together for a transaction," Knight said.
The state House this week showed strong support for redistributing wolves in Washington, except from lawmakers whose districts could be candidates for taking in wolves. The House voted 85-13 on Tuesday to direct the Department of Fish and Wildlife to study moving wolves from Eastern Washington to Western Washington. The “no” votes, three Democrats and 10 Republicans, were cast by westside legislators whose districts include expansive tracts of wildlife habitat.
egislation introduced in the Kansas Senate defining parameters for chicken houses would help expand the state’s currently modest chicken industry and is endorsed by Kansas State University faculty and county economic development groups. State officials and university ag experts testified this week that the poultry industry represents the one area of animal agriculture that is expanding, and said the bill would not weaken state environmental standards.
A plan to create a fishing license lottery to get new people into the scallop fishery has passed a key hurdle in the Maine Legislature.The Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources unanimously approved the proposal on Feb. 14. It now moves to the full Legislature, which is likely to vote on it in the next couple of weeks.The average age of Maine scallop fishermen is higher than 50, and the fishery has been closed to new people since 2009. Some fishermen and fishing managers have expressed concern that the fishery could end up needing new people at a time when the shellfish are healthy.
Having a no-antibiotics-ever requirement in a program that is supposed to promote better bird welfare puts a marketing claim above bird welfare. One of the core standards for all Global Animal Partnership (GAP) animal agriculture welfare programs is that no antibiotics, animal byproducts in the feed or added hormones can ever be used. This means that if birds get sick and have to be treated with antibiotics, then they are no longer part of the GAP Program. Meat from broilers or the eggs from layers that have been treated have to be marketed elsewhere. This could put an egg producer in quite a difficult spot if their flock is treated early in the laying cycle.