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Agriculture News

The Outlook for U.S. Agriculture From USDA’s Chief Economist

Illinois Farm Policy News | Posted on March 6, 2017

Dr. Johansson noted that, “Farm income has fallen dramatically since 2013, falling almost 30 percent in real terms. That is the largest 4-year drop in farm income in 40 years, when real farm income fell more than 45 percent between 1973 and 1977.  We have seen record production in major commodities over the past few years, and as a result prices are down significantly.  Baseline projections show flat farm income throughout the 10-year forecast period.” With respect to farmland values, Dr. Johansson explained that, “While the farm income forecast is down by almost 50 percent in nominal terms since the peak in 2013, farmland values remain relatively strong. While they have come down off their highs from two years ago, those values continue to underlie a relatively strong debt- to-asset ratio, which is now expected to be 13.9 percent in 2017, up from the low point in 2012 of 11.3 percent, but well below the peak of more than 22.2 percent in 1985.

Federal Circuit Court Affirms $455M Award To Bayer In Dow Patent Case

Law 360 | Posted on March 6, 2017

The Federal Circuit upheld a $455 million award to Bayer CropScience NV after an arbitration panel found that Dow Agrosciences LLC infringed its patents on weed control technology, finding that Dow failed to meet the high bar for overturning such an award. The appeals court ruled that Judge Raymond Jackson of the Eastern District of Virginia correctly affirmed the award last year, although it agreed with Dow that the amount of interest on the award must be modified.

Dairy waste floods homes near Yakima

King 5 | Posted on March 3, 2017

An Outlook dairy has unleashed a flood of hazardous water into and around nearby homes. According to the Department of Agriculture, a small levee broke Wednesday in a nearby field owned by Deruyter Brothers Dairy. A mix of water and dairy waste then moved across another farm's compost piles, traveling further downhill toward a cluster of homes. At least four homes were damaged, with dairy waste flooding the living space of at least one of them. The Department of Health is working to test drinking water, but is alerting residents not to drink it. They are also working to give residents clean water. Meanwhile, officials from Yakima County and the Washington State Department of Agriculture were going door to door in the neighborhood Thursday to share the information and drinking water alert.

New York Governor:Farmers have saved $36.6 million since assessment rule changed

Times Union | Posted on March 2, 2017

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is noting that farmers have, since a change more than three years ago that lowered the rate at which farmland assessments can rise, saved a total of $36.6 million on property taxes. The shift lowered the maximum allowed rate of increase from 10 percent to 2 percent per year. The idea was to help keep property and school taxes bearable for the state’s farmers who may be land rich but cash poor. Here are the details along with a regional breakdown and a bushel full of happy quotes: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced more than $36.6 million in savings for farmers across the state through the first three years of the Agricultural Assessment Cap. Governor Cuomo signed the cap into law in 2013, preventing agricultural assessments from being increased by more than two percent per year. The previous cap was set at 10 percent. By keeping assessment increases low, farmers can rely on a more predictable tax climate and better plan for the future.

A second chance at farming

Farm Futures | Posted on March 2, 2017

Dale McClellan rebuilt his grandfather’s bankrupt milk processing company into a leading business and became a champion for agriculture.  McClellan, who had grown up milking cows, was just 23 when the company — and his family — went broke.“I was young and just trying to survive, but I had a burning passion to get back into processing because I didn’t feel it was our fault that we got out,” McClellan recalls. “They bled him to death through pricing, but that happened to every family milk plant in the United States. National brands squished them. Then supermarket chains started building their own plants and squished the national brands.” He considers it a defining moment — a spark that ignited a lifelong effort to champion agriculture. Now M&B Dairy is thriving, despite tough times for dairy farms everywhere. That success happened, in part, because McClellan forced himself to climb out of his shell and become a face of the milk industry in west-central Florida.

Spotlight back on California's Prop 2

Feedstuffs | Posted on March 2, 2017

Attorneys general seek Supreme Court review of ongoing lawsuit challenging Prop 2, while first egg producer charged criminally regarding welfare standards. In 2008, California voters passed the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, also known as Proposition 2, with 63.5% support. Prop 2 requires that an egg-laying hen must be able to fully spread her wings without touching another animal or a side of the enclosure. In the battle over the law, state attorneys general have made new promises to challenge the law, while The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) led an investigation that will bring the first charges against an egg farm for violating Prop 2.

Commentary: What will drive the future of animal agriculture

Feedstuffs | Posted on March 2, 2017

It is the "popularity of the kinds of items that alternative channels go after: organic, natural, grass-fed, antibiotic-free," that will drive the future of animal agriculture.  Anne-Marie Roerink, principal of 210 Analytics LLC, said this at the North American Meat Association’s Annual Meat Conference:“I think the tipping point is actually the popularity of the kinds of items that these alternative channels go after: organic, natural, grass-fed, antibiotic-free. What is happening is that traditional supermarkets don’t have the assortment. That’s where the alternative channels survive. They’ve definitely moved from picking at a meat purchase here and there to truly becoming a red flag for traditional retailers.” It’s that damn tipping point that gets them every time. It’s usually a generational thing, of course. What us older folk consider sacred, what we see as comfort foods and the things necessary for making a good meal is not what our children and grandchildren see. They have an annoying habit of making up their minds as to what’s healthy, good to eat and what they want on their dinner plates. So you want to do things the way they’ve always been done? Good luck with that. Your market is disappearing, on its way to meet the grim reaper. The new market looks at food and how it’s presented with a far different eye.

Corn, Soybean, Wheat Crops Projected to Come Down, But Supplies Still High in 2017

DTN | Posted on February 27, 2017

In its early forecast for crop production, USDA's Outlook for crops lowers corn, soybean and wheat production for the 2017-18 crop year. USDA pegs corn production at 14.065 billion bushels, 7% below a year ago with an average yield of 170.7 bushels per acre, down from last year's record yield of 174.6 bpa. USDA projects corn acreage at 90 million planted acres, down 4 million from 2016. Despite USDA boosting soybean planted acres for this spring by 4.6 million acres to a record 88 million acres, USDA still lowers projected soybean production to 4.18 billion bushels, 3% lower than 2016 with an average yield of 48 bpa, down 4.1 bushels from 2016. Wheat production is projected at 1.837 billion bushels, down 20% from last year with a yield expected at 47.1 bpa, down 10% from last year. Planted wheat acres are projected at 46 million, down 4.6 million from last year. The USDA Outlook is the department's first major forecast of the 2017-18 marketing year, which will be updated in the March 31 prospective plantings report.

After Trump’s immigration order, anxiety grows in Florida’s farm fields

The Washington Post | Posted on February 27, 2017

Rumors about deportation raids started to circulate around the fields again, so Catalina Sanchez and her husband began to calculate the consequences of everything they did. Cirilo Perez, 36, had to go to work because the tomato crop was getting low, and he needed to pick as much as he could as fast as he could. Sanchez’s medical checkup would have to wait — going to a clinic was too risky. What they fretted most about was what to do with their daughter Miriam — a natural-born citizen in the third grade — who they worried would come home one day to an empty trailer. “When she leaves, I wonder if it will be the last time I see her,” Sanchez, 26, said on a recent evening. As President Trump moves to turn the full force of the federal government toward deporting undocumented immigrants, a newfound fear of the future has already cast a pall over the tomato farms and strawberry fields in the largely undocumented migrant communities east of Tampa.

Farm income trend looks to continue in 2017

Agri-Pulse | Posted on February 24, 2017

Speaking at the 93rd Annual USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va., a trio of farm economists offered a somewhat gloomy picture of the farm economy for the year ahead, although one not unlike the trends observed in recent years. Net farm income is projected to drop almost $6 billion in 2017, tumbling primarily on decreases in the crop sector to a $62.3 billion total. The drop is a decrease of about 8.7 percent, the fourth consecutive year of declines after record highs were observed in 2013. If realized, the projected figure would be the lowest since 2002. The potential saving grace for farm families could be a projected bump in farm household income, which also includes income into off-farm enterprises. Median farm household income is projected to rise about 3.4 percent to $79,733.