USDA lowered its forecast for total red meat and poultry production for 2016 from last month, projecting lower beef, pork, and broiler production. Turkey production was raised. Corn production was lowered and soybean production raised in its latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report.
The adoption of new technologies, including GM, may be crucial in making agriculture more sustainable, a leading food policy expert has claimed. Jack Bobo, chief communications officer for US biotech company Intrexon, said agriculture is having the most negative impact on the planet and yet there is nothing more critical to human survival. Resolving this contradiction was perhaps the greatest challenge of the age, he said. “The reality is that much of the beer, wine and cheese in Europe is produced with GMOs, it’s just that Europe’s labelling laws don’t require it to be labelled,” he said.
Not all the data are in just yet, but California is already banking on a lower gross value of its agricultural output for 2015. The California Department of Food and Agriculture collects reports from each of the county agricultural commissioners on crop output during the previous year. Several, but not all of the major crop-producing counties have submitted their reports. Of those that have, the numbers are disappointing and predictable. Citing U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers, the CDFA suggests gross crop values could be down about $9.5 billion from the 2014 figure that came in above $50 billion for the first time in history. Tulare and Fresno counties have released their reports. Kern County’s report should be out this month. These are consistently the top three in the state. Fresno and Tulare counties were down considerably for much the same reasons. Softer commodity prices in the major crop categories – tree nuts, grape and milk – factored in as some acreage declines because of water availability.
At first, Sebastopol area resident Nancy Martin and her husband did not know what to make of the frequent booming noises they suddenly started hearing in mid-August. Neither did their neighbors. “We were walking around the neighborhood and we’d run into people, and they’d say, ‘What’s that noise we’re hearing?’ ” Martin said. “And we would say, ‘I don’t know, maybe hunting.’ ” But the sounds were going off at very frequent intervals — sometimes as much as 20 per minute — and could last for 13 hours a day, Martin estimated. So hunting-related gunshots didn’t sound quite right. Then a neighbor emailed with the most likely answer: bird cannons. Vineyards employ the noise-making devices powered by propane to scare away birds that may seek to prey on their valuable crop as harvest approaches. The use of bird cannons is nothing new, particularly in agriculture-heavy Sonoma County, but Martin, who said she has lived in her neighborhood for 30 years, could not recall ever hearing them before.
While the U.S. egg industry surges toward what looks like a cage-free future, individual egg producers and the organization that represents more than 90 percent of them, the United Egg Producers (UEP), find themselves at a crossroads. Should the organization of the country’s largest egg farmers go all in for cage-free production, or push back against the trend and defend enriched cage housing as an alternative to cage free? The UEP held a series of six regional meetings across the country in August and the staff of Egg Industry attended meetings held in Atlanta and Des Moines, Iowa, on August 15 and 23, respectively. At those meetings, several egg producers expressed frustration with the disconnect between the marketplace and the cage-free egg purchase pledges made by major retail, food-service and food processing purchasers.
On Sunday morning, the South Carolina honey bees began to die in massive numbers. Death came suddenly to Dorchester County, S.C. Stressed insects tried to flee their nests, only to surrender in little clumps at hive entrances. The dead worker bees littering the farms suggested that colony collapse disorder was not the culprit — in that odd phenomenon, workers vanish as though raptured, leaving a living queen and young bees behind. Instead, the dead heaps signaled the killer was less mysterious, but no less devastating. The pattern matched acute pesticide poisoning. By one estimate, at a single apiary — Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply, in Summerville — 46 hives diedon the spot, totaling about 2.5 million bees.
Virginia dairy farmers have always endured price fluctuation in milk prices. But the latest downswing has seen milk checks shrink by 35 percent the past two years, with little improvement in sight. That’s why some dairy farmers welcomed news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is purchasing 11 million pounds of excess cheese from private sources for use in food banks across the nation. “The dairy industry in Virginia, and the nation as a whole, is suffering from decreased whole milk consumption,” explained Kyle Leonard, an Augusta County dairyman and member of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Dairy Advisory Committee. “That’s been our bread and butter; selling milk that people drink. “Consumers, in general, for some reason aren’t drinking as much whole milk. And that’s bothersomebecause its nature’s most perfect food,” Leonard said. A soft world market for dairy products and increased production by some dairymen also contributed to an oversupply of milk and lower prices at the farm, Leonard said. “Dairy farmers across the world are suffering,” he said. “Whether it’s in Europe or New Zealand, consumer demand has decreased.
California Democrats are taking further steps to advance the state’s ambitious climate-change agenda, agreeing to regulate methane emissions from landfills and dairy farms for the first time and approving $900 million in spending on environmental programs. The approval came in the final hours of the two-year legislative session Wednesday following a flurry of negotiations involving Gov. Jerry Brown, Democratic legislative leaders and the affected industries. It was approved just a week after Democrats voted to extend California’s landmark climate change law, the most aggressive in the nation, by another 10 years, solidifying the state’s reputation as an environmental leader through at least 2030. That move, pushed by Brown and environmentalists, came amid fierce opposition from oil companies and other business interests.
EPSOM, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire dairy farmers say low milk prices and ongoing drought have contributed to the state losing 16 percent of those farms over the past eight months.
The state’s agriculture commissioner says 19 of the state’s 120 dairies have closed this year. The state had lost 10 dairies over the previous four years combined.
Federal agricultural prices list 100 pounds of milk as selling for $14.80 last month. That’s down from $23.40 in June 2014 and $16.90 in June 2015.
Farmers in several counties can apply for a federal emergency relief loan after Gov. Maggie Hassan had a drought disaster designation request granted last week.
State Rep. Bob Haefner says he plans to have a meeting in September to discuss funding the state’s milk farmers’ emergency relief fund board.
The International Dairy Foods Association has selected Michael Dykes to replace Connie Tipton as its president and CEO. For the past 19 years, Dykes was vice president of government affairs for Monsanto. He has spent his career involved in developing agricultural government affairs policies and strategies, according to an IDFA press release. At Monsanto, he was responsible for a portfolio of programs that included agricultural biotechnology policy.