Pet food shoppers increasingly say they look for non-GMO claims on labels and are even willing to pay more for pet foods with such claims. What if pet foods were required to declare inclusion of GMO ingredients on their labels; would that cause some pet owners to steer clear of such products? We may soon find out, at least in the US.
The House bill calls for voluntary labeling.) But if the Senate bill does become law, it likely would also affect pet food. The new Senate bill is also receiving support from food and biotech organizations, such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), because it would override state laws such as the one that went into effect in Vermont on July 1. AFIA, GMA and other groups have complained that if GMO-labeling laws continue to happen state by state, it will create a patchwork of standards and requirements that would be very costly to comply with—and costs would ultimately be passed onto consumers.
The Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition, Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force and Dr. Dan Jaynes with the National Laboratory for Agricultural & The Environment collaborated to demonstrate and evaluate saturated buffers at field scale to reduce nitrates and phosphorus from subsurface field drainage systems. With many of the row-crop agriculture fields in the Midwest being located adjacent to ditches, streams, rivers and lakes, it is no surprise that nutrient transport from agriculture lands is a major concern. Large areas of the Midwest are intensively tile drained and it is assumed that many of the vegetated buffers adjacent to waterways are being under-utilized, because the tile outlets quickly move large amounts of subsurface flow past the buffer and into the receiving waterway without any opportunity for treatment by the buffer. The data from this study confirm that, when proper site conditions and design considerations are met, the SB practice can be an effective method for reducing nitrate transport from subsurface drainage systems. Phosphorus loads, however, appear to be generally unaffected by this practice.
For farmers and ranchers, immigration reform must balance agriculture’s need for a dependable supply of agricultural labor with enhanced security at our nation’s border. A new video produced by the American Farm Bureau Federation highlights those issues, but with political debate ramping up and no practical solutions on the horizon, farmers say important areas of U.S. food production are at risk.
Farmers and ranchers know that you cannot address immigration reform without tackling the issue of border security, said AFBF President Zippy Duvall, who recently saw the delicate balance between the two issues during a tour of agriculture and border security efforts in Arizona. Across the nation, farmers and ranchers are experiencing a labor crisis. Reliable and skilled farm workers are harder to come by with each harvest season. And, without an efficient and legal way for a dependable supply of farm workers to enter the country, more U.S. crops are being left to rot in the field. That means consumers will be less able to enjoy American-grown products, according to the video.
After being wrapped up in the day-to-day movement of grain prices, I often find it helpful to take time out and look around at how other markets are doing. Getting a larger perspective helps one see the ebbs and flows of the world's wealth and where grain markets fall in the scheme of things. Among financial assets, holders of 30-year U.S. Treasury bonds gained 12% as of July 15, 2016 while stocks represented by Morgan Stanley's All-Country World Index were up 3%. Bonds' benefited from slow growth throughout most of the world and in the U.S., which is also allowing the Federal Reserve to stay cautious when it comes to raising interest rates. Numerous warnings from world leaders that Brexit would further slow world growth also added to bonds' appeal early in 2016.
In the world of commodities, it would be easy to guess from corn's new contract low in early-July that things haven't gone well, but actually the landscape has been more bullish than one might guess as 18 out of 25 commodities I track were higher on July 15 than where they started the year. Of the 18 commodities that were higher, 10 have out-performed T-bonds with silver and soybean meal posting gains of 46% and 40% respectively. Like bonds, silver prices are being helped by the Fed's slow approach to raising rates, but are also benefitting from increased industrial demand.
Over the last ten years, U.S. corn acres grew by 7.2 million acres. However, changes in acres across the United States were not even. High growth areas included North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota. Growth occurred near and around the western corn-belt while acres in the eastern corn-belt remained relatively stable. Harvested corn acres in the United States averaged 74.7 million acres in 2004-05, increasing by 7.2 million acres to 81.9 million acres in 2014-15. Between the two ten year periods, harvested acres increased by 10%.
Acre changes were not the same. Acreages increased the most in North Dakota and South Dakota. Between 2004-05 and 2014-15, North Dakota had a 1.4 million acre increase and South Dakota had a 1.1 million acre increase. The next four states in terms of increases were Nebraska (1.0 million acre increase), Iowa (.7 million acre increase), Kansas (.7 million acre increase), and Minnesota (.6 million acre increase).
Bayer AG boosted its takeover offer for Monsanto Co. to about $65 billion in a bid to overcome the U.S. seed company’s resistance to the tie-up and join a parade of consolidation in the agriculture industry. Bayer made the new $125-a-share offer verbally on July 1 and more formally eight days later, it said in a statement Thursday confirming an earlier report by The Wall Street Journal. The new bid represents a $3-a-share bump from an earlier proposal Monsanto rejected as too low.
Monsanto said its board will review the new offer, but investor reaction to the news indicated the market is skeptical the increase will be sufficient to seal the deal for the German life-sciences company.
A legislative committee has extended emergency rules allowing captive deer farmers to opt out of the state's chronic wasting disease monitoring program without upgrading their fences. Generally, deer farms must enroll in the monitoring program to get Department of Natural Resources' approval for a single fence. If farms don't participate in the program they must install double or solid fencing. The DNR board in December adopted an emergency rule allowing farmers to opt out of monitoring without having to install double or solid fencing. Agency officials said the rule simplifies deer farm regulations.
Two celery harvesters who claimed they were sexually harassed at work reached a $1 million settlement against a labor contractor after a jury found in their favor. Attorneys with California Rural Legal Assistance said their two clients, who did not want to be named, had worked for Jackpot Harvesting on and off from 2007 until 2011. In 2009 they filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after being subject to physical and verbal harassment, but the company did nothing to protect the women, the attorneys said in a statement.
The women spend three mornings a week preserving their small garden, the last remaining vestige of agriculture within the Department of Corrections after the state’s prison farm closed last year. To find any other inmates working in vegetable beds – or milking cows for that matter – one has to drive about two hours north to North Haverill. The Grafton County Farm is the last remaining county farm in the state. “Once they pull the plug, you just don’t get them back anymore,” said Grafton County Farm manager Donnie Kimball. “It’s sad when they leave, you know.” Tight economics, combined with a decreasing demand for farm skills, has led to the loss of agrarian opportunities for the state’s incarcerated population. But for the few agriculture programs that are still here, inmates and officials said the benefits persist.
New cage-free layer houses are being built in Ohio and Connecticut, while company will replace existing facilities with cage-free barns as they age