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Agriculture News

Corn Growers Urged to Contact EPA on Atrazine

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on June 16, 2016

The National Corn Growers Association urged farmers to submit comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, following publication of the Agency’s draft Ecological Risk Assessment for atrazine, an herbicide used for weed control in growing corn and other crops. If it stands, EPA’s recommendation would effectively ban the use of atrazine in most farming areas in the U.S. Atrazine is a widely used herbicide proven to combat the spread of resistant weeds, while also reducing soil erosion and improving wildlife habitats. When farmers have access to atrazine, they do not have to do as much tilling, or turning up of the soil – a practice that erodes soil and leads to water and nutrient loss. Studies suggest farming without atrazine could cost corn farmers up to $59 per acre.

NRCS Provides over $268 Million to Help PA Farmers, Landowners Improve Chesapeake Bay

NRCS | Posted on June 16, 2016

Since over half of Pennsylvania lies within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, farmers and forest landowners play a major role in helping to clean up the Bay by installing water quality conservation practices that assist the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania meet its Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals in the watershed.

Since 2008, NRCS has provided more than $268.5 million in financial assistance to Pennsylvania farmers and forest landowners in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through a number of Farm Bill Programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI) program and Conservation Stewardship Program (CStP), among others.  In the Bay Watershed, these funds have been utilized primarily for nutrient reduction, erosion and sediment control, stream corridor protection, and overall landscape health. On average 80-85 percent of Pennsylvania’s funds are devoted to livestock producers and those cropland producers who apply manure on cropland. From 2008-2015, PA-NRCS applied nutrient management to more than 157,000 acres and installed 759 waste storage facilities, more than 6 million square feet of heavy use area protection, and over 3 million linear feet of fence to improve pasture and stream conditions.

Drought looming | Posted on June 16, 2016

Indiana could be headed for another drought this summer, according to the Indiana State Climate Office. Some northern Indiana counties already are abnormally dry. It depends on the strength of a developing La Niña weather pattern. Stronger La Niña conditions in summer typically result in hotter and/or drier Midwest summers, such as what happened during the historic drought in the summer of 2012. Changes in large-scale weather patterns such as the demise of El Niño and strong possibility of La Niña conditions in coming months are leading to local scale impacts of reduced rainfall and hotter landscapes

Anhydrous Ammonia, Corn, and Natural Gas Prices Over Time

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on June 16, 2016

Nitrogen fertilizer is a major input in corn production and anhydrous ammonia is a widely used nitrogen fertilizer. In recent years, questions exist whether ammonia prices have decreased enough to reflect the decreases in corn and natural gas prices. Over time, anhydrous ammonia prices and corn prices are positively correlated. A major input in ammonia production is natural gas. As a result, natural gas prices also are positively correlated with anhydrous ammonia prices. From 2014 to 2016, anhydrous ammonia prices appear high relative to historical relationships between ammonia, corn, and natural gas prices.

Down to the bone

Daily Yonder | Posted on June 16, 2016

Monsanto, the patented seed and pesticide agriculture behemoth, was under scrutiny due to their failed offer to buy Syngenta, the Swiss agricultural chemicals and seed company.  Now Monsanto itself is the target of a buyout. German drug corporation Bayer has offered Monsanto stock holders a $122 per share. Big business history reads a little like the spiritual hymn “Them Dry Bones.” From the toe bone all the way up to the head bone, everything is connected. Take Monsanto for instance.

The chemical company Monsanto was founded in 1901. One of its first products was calorie-free sweetener made from coal tar — saccharin. Through its steady acquisitions of other companies, Monsanto has also manufactured chemicals like PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange, and salicylic acid–the primary ingredient in Bayer aspirin. They ran the Dayton Project doing research for the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb. Monsanto also patented a boiler pipe cleaning compound called glyphosate to be used as a nonselective herbicide named Roundup, netting billions in profits over the patent’s 20-year lifespan. By the time that patent ran out, Monsanto was well on its way to patented genes that made crops like corn, soybeans, cotton, and canola impervious to Roundup. See how “Them Bones” are connected?

For as long as agriculture has relied on chemical pesticides and fertilizers, we’ve been equally dependent on chemical companies to supply those needs. But competition among a number of chemical companies traditionally has been reduced or eliminated over the years as one consolidated company hooks up with another.

Rainfall following drought linked to historic nitrate levels in Midwest streams in 2013

EurekAlert | Posted on June 16, 2016

Highest concentrations found in Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. Drought periods followed by rainfall caused nitrate levels to increase to the highest ever measured in some Midwest streams during a 2013 study. The USGS and the Environmental Protection Agency collaborated in 2013 to sample 100 small streams across parts of 11 states in the Midwest. Scientists tested for a broad range of water-quality and habitat characteristics and assessed organisms living in the stream, including algae, invertebrates and fish. The study did not look at treated drinking water. The nitrate analysis included comparing 2013 findings to 20 years of nitrate results from multiple state and federal agencies for more than 1,000 streams across the region.

Credit crunch for farm renters compounds stress on U.S. growers

Columbia Daily Tribune | Posted on June 15, 2016

American farmers who expanded production using rented land during the commodity boom a few years ago are now struggling to repay loans.  A crop glut has eroded prices and sent profit to a 14-year low, but rents have barely budged and debt levels are the highest in more than three decades, government data show. Bankers are cutting back on loans that aren’t secured by land, so more farmers are tapping into a U.S. Department of Agriculture program designed to be the lender of last resort.

Groups hope to help Nebraska farmers with Costco contracts

The News & Observer | Posted on June 15, 2016

Farmer advocacy groups have planned several meetings to help farmers with possible contracts to grow chickens for a plant proposed by Costco Wholesale in the Fremont area of eastern Nebraska.  Opponents of the plant say chicken producers in the nation's Southeast have been getting bad deals from poultry processors there. A representative of the Costco project told the World-Herald in May the Nebraska contracts would be different.



New Economic Impact Study Shows U.S. Meat and Poultry Industry Represents $1.02 Trillion in Total Economic Output

North American Meat Institute | Posted on June 15, 2016

The U.S. meat and poultry industry accounts for $1.02 trillion in total economic output or 5.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), according a new economic impact analysis conducted by John Dunham & Associates for the North American Meat Institute (NAMI).  The meat and poultry industry is responsible for 5.4 million jobs and $257 billion in wages, the report found. An estimated 527,019 people have jobs in production and packing, importing operations, sales, packaging and direct distribution of meat and poultry products. Wholesaling directly employs an estimated 232,418 individuals in all 50 states, and 1.11 million employees’ retail jobs depend on the sale of meat and poultry products to the public. All totaled, the meat and poultry industry (packers, processors, wholesalers and retailers) directly employs 1.9 million people, paying $71.63 billion in wages and benefits.

In addition, approximately two million full-time equivalent jobs are created in firms that supply goods and services to the meat and poultry industry. This includes people working in industries as broad as real estate services, trucking and container manufacturing. An additional 1.57 million people have jobs throughout the economy that depend on the re-spending of wages by meat and poultry, as well as supplier industry employees. These are real people with real jobs ranging from restaurant workers to automobile mechanics, to bakers and refrigerator manufacturers.

New York State rules against Wheatfield on biosolids

The Buffalo News | Posted on June 15, 2016

A state agency has a different view of Wheatfield’s ban on biosolids than a court does.  Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe on Tuesday released a letter from Thursday by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, declaring that the law unreasonably restricts farmers in using legal fertilizer.  The letter ordered the town to confirm within 30 days that it will not enforce its law against Milleville Brothers Farms, a large farming operation that owns land in Wheatfield and several other Niagara County towns. It obtained a state license allowing it to inject biosolids into fields.  However, the town’s law, passed in the summer of 2014, bars such use, even for those with state licenses.  Cliffe said the town is reviewing its legal options.