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Agriculture News

Large Corn Farms ‘Twice as Likely’ to Adopt Precision Agriculture

Precision Ag | Posted on October 27, 2016

If you’re running a large corn or soybean operation, you’re a lot more likely to be using precision agriculture practices and seeing results like increased operating profits — at least that’s what research by the USDA says.  The study, Farm Profits and Adoption of Precision Agriculture, focused on three precision agriculture practices: guidance or auto-steer systems, variable-rate technology (VRT), and GPS-based mapping systems. In the past 10 years, tractor guidance systems have gotten popular more quickly than variable-rate input application. Guidance is utilized on a whole 50% of U.S. corn and soybean acres, while only 28% to 34% of those acres take advantage of VRT. Yield mapping is used on 40% of U.S. corn and soybean acres, while GPS soil maps are utilized on 30% of U.S. corn and bean farmland.  Corn farms over 2,900 acres are twice as likely to adopt precision agriculture than smaller farms. A whole 80% use guidance systems, 70% to 80% are using mapping, and 30% to 40% use VRT.

Pork industry seeking to inspire next generation | Posted on October 27, 2016

Are you a young farmer who aspires to commit your life’s work to pig farming, be a leader in farming and aims to be an example of excellence by raising pigs using the We CareSM ethical principles? If yes, then we want you to apply to be one of the U.S. Pork Industry’s Pig Farmers of Tomorrow.  The Pork Checkoff has established this new national award program to recognize, inspire and connect the next generation of American pig farmers. Up to three award recipients will be selected in the program’s inaugural year. Winners will be invited to participate in industry events and the #RealPigFarming social media program.

USDA, Pa., reach agreement that will free up money for farmland preservation

Reading Eagle | Posted on October 27, 2016

An agreement between the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and Pennsylvania's nation-leading farmland preservation program will give the state access to millions of federal dollars to preserve the best and most threatened farmland. Pennsylvania has been without a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service since 2014, when the last Farm Bill became law, changing the terms of the federal program.  Each change in federal program regulations requires a new agreement, as some aspects of the federal and state programs are otherwise incompatible. Conflicts with ACEP included differing subdivision requirements, permitted oil and gas activities, building envelope requirements, deed of merger language, and baseline documentation reports."So many aspects of the ACEP program were in direct conflict with what Pennsylvania carefully and deliberately developed in our regulations that many were doubtful that a solution could ever be found," said Redding. "There were a number of people involved in this process, and thanks to their collective efforts, the agreement was signed and more of our most productive and at-risk farms will remain in agricultural production."

Farmworker lawsuit over unionizing could reshape NY agriculture

North Country Public Radio | Posted on October 27, 2016

The battle lines are drawn over a lawsuit that could reshape agriculture in New York State. Civil rights advocates are suing to give farm workers the right to form unions and bargain collectively. The state’s largest farm lobby has signed on in opposition, after Governor Cuomo wouldn’t. The case centers on an incident at a dairy farm in Lewis County. New York’s constitution guarantees every worker the right to organize. But a state law, the Employment Relations Act, excludes agricultural workers. "They are the one group who is not able to seek relief in the event that their right to organize is violated," says Erin Beth Harrist, lead counsel with the New York Civil Liberties Union. The NYCLU is suing to change the law on behalf of two upstate advocacy groups, the Workers' Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York, and the state’s estimated 60,000 farmworkers. Harrist said the exclusion is unconstitutional and based on outdated policy from the Jim Crow era of the 1930s.

HSUS loses farmers on advisory council.

Agri-Pulse | Posted on October 26, 2016

A few years ago, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Nebraska farmer Kevin Fulton as the kind of holistic, free-range farmer that embodies how the group believes farming and ranching should be done. HSUS said it acted on Fulton’s suggestion when it began putting together state advisory councils that advocated against gestation crates and other controversial “factory farming” techniques. But much of that good will has evaporated. Fulton, in long and scathing Facebook messages, said he was pushed out and many other farmers have quit the state councils. He said they are demanding HSUS stop using their names and likenesses.   “We feel like you have used our images long enough to your benefit and we no longer want to be associated with your disingenuous organization! Some of us asked that they be removed a long time ago,” Fulton said in a posting. “What the hell is wrong with you people? Update your website.”


Bayer CEO defends planned acquisition of Monsanto

Wall Street Journal | Posted on October 26, 2016

Bayer AG Chief Executive Werner Baumann Wednesday defended the company’s planned $57 billion acquisition of U.S. agrochemical group Monsanto Co. amid concerns the deal could face an uphill battle with regulatory authorities over antitrust issues. “This step is entirely logical,” Mr. Baumann said of the merger with Monsanto. “The two companies are a perfect fit and complement each other ideally.”  Mr. Baumann said the German pharmaceuticals and chemicals giant would submit its application to EU regulatory authorities in the first quarter of 2017 and to U.S. authorities by the end of this year. He reiterated that he expected the deal to close by the end of 2017.  Mr. Baumann’s remarks came as the company announced its earnings results for the third quarter of 2016. Bayer posted a 19% rise in net profit and raised its full year earnings guidance, boosted by continued uptake of its recently launched blockbuster drugs.  Net profit for the period ended Sept. 30 was €1.19 billion ($1.3 billion), compared with €999 million for the same period last year. The figure beat analysts’ forecasts of a €1.1 billion profit, according to a recent poll by The Wall Street Journal.  Bayer said it now expects to achieve a high-single-digit percentage increase in core earnings a share for 2016, up from its previous forecast of a mid-to-high-single-digit percentage improvement. The company also reiterated its sales outlook for the full year, saying it expects sales of between €46 billion and €47 billion.

Global Egg to purchase Cargill egg facility in Canada

Watt Ag Net | Posted on October 26, 2016

Global Egg Corporation has agreed to purchase Cargill’s egg processing facility in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada. Terms of the sale are not being disclosed.  The majority of the facility’s 53 employees will be offered positions with Global Egg. Displaced employees will receive severance and other support from Cargill. Consummation of the transaction is anticipated to conclude this fall. Cargill has owned the facility since 2006. 

Low commodities prices fuel pessimism in CU economist's survey of rural bankers

Omaha World Herald | Posted on October 26, 2016

Rural bankers in states Nebraska, Iowa and surrounding states haven’t felt this sour since the economy was in the throes of the recession.  Creighton economist Ernie Goss said bankers’ dread is being fueled by low commodities prices and is further exacerbated by the ripple effects being felt in rural economies.  Accordingly, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index fell again in October. With a reading of 31.8, down from 37.3 in September and 44.4 a year ago, the latest survey registered well below 50, the level at which growth is treading water; readings over 50 indicate growth.  The survey of rural lenders in 10 states shows their sentiment on economic conditions fell to a low in October that hasn’t been registered since April 2009. This is the 14th-consecutive month in which the rural economic barometer has indicated decline instead of growth. Bankers in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are polled for the index.

At ground zero of Alabama's drought: 'It's an agricultural disaster' | Posted on October 26, 2016

Sitting in the northeast corner of the state, Jackson County is ground zero for Alabama's drought that's now consumed the entire state. While dry conditions and sparse rain have spread from the Shoals to the coast, Jackson County has suffered longer and harder than any other region.  "It's an agricultural disaster," said Jackson County farmer Phillip Thompson.  "It's epic. It's really bad," said Themika Sims, Jackson County coordinator of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Election May be a Turning Point for Legal Marijuana

NY Times | Posted on October 26, 2016

To the red-and-blue map of American politics, it may be time to add green. The movement to legalize marijuana, the country’s most popular illicit drug, will take a giant leap on Election Day if California and four other states vote to allow recreational cannabis, as polls suggest they may.  The map of where pot is legal could include the entire West Coast and a block of states reaching from the Pacific to Colorado, raising a stronger challenge to the federal government’s ban on the drug.  In addition to California, Massachusetts and Maine both have legalization initiatives on the ballot next month that seem likely to pass. Arizona and Nevada are also voting on recreational marijuana, with polls showing Nevada voters evenly split.  The passage of recreational marijuana laws in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington over the past four years may have unlocked the door to eventual federal legalization. But a yes vote in California, which has an economy the size of a large industrial country’s,