According to a recent study of lenders, financial stress on farmers is expected to continue for some time. “Our research indicates a continued deterioration in agricultural credit conditions,” said Allen Featherstone, head of the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics. The 2016 Fall Agricultural Lender Survey by the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics and the University of Georgia studies the expectations of lenders in regard to interest rates, spread over cost of funds, farm-loan volume, nonperforming loans and land values as indicators of the overall health of the farm finance sector. According to the twice-a-year study, more than 50 percent of land values are decreasing within the areas covered by participating lenders. These values are set to continue to decrease over the short- and long term and are affecting credit limits for landowners and producers. Non-performing loans are also on the rise for all loan types, and expectations show the number of these loans will continue to increase in this stressed financial market.
Use analogies. Most people don’t raise pigs, especially not at a commercial scale, so they have little familiarity with farming activities or concepts. Using analogies can help people understand what goes on at a modern pig farm or pork processing plant. Let people see and touch. As with analogies, explaining complex topics can be easier using models that people can touch and interact with.
Executive Director Perry Assness, of AgriGrowth, an organization that brings farmers together with agri-businesses and others, said the state sometimes is technologically behind. While many agri-businesses use advanced technology, state regulations may not have caught up, he said. Lunemann said it is not just state regulations that keep farmers down. South Dakota, he said, does more to recruit farm-related businesses. The governor will visit backers of prospective dairy operations. “The common theme is don’t tax us or regulate us out of business,” Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, said he hears from constituents.As far as taxes go, there appears to be an agreement among most legislative leaders and the governor to pass the tax break that died last year when an overall tax bill failed to become law. The provision would reduce the amount of property taxes assessed on farmland for new school construction. Rural schools complained that they struggled to pass new school plans because the funding burden fell so heavily on farmers. So while districts dominated by cities could pass school votes, that was more difficult in rural areas.
Kauai’s pesticide legislation, Ordinance 960, was repealed through the approval of Bill 2643 upon second reading during a Kauai County Council meeting. “I’m glad it’s over,” said Councilman Mel Rapozo, who introduced Bill 2643. “We needed to move forward and start the healing process and this is the first step.” Kauai Councilman Arthur Brun recused himself from voting because he works for Syngenta. Ordinance 960, formerly Bill 2491, was passed in November 2013 and set out requirements for large-scale agricultural operations to disclose the use of pesticides and genetically-modified crops. It also required buffer zones around sensitive areas like schools and hospitals.
Humans have been tinkering with plant genetics far longer than they have understood the mechanisms that allow their actions. But genetic engineering as understood today involves the delicate in vitro process of inserting, removing, or altering genes to create a favorable trait. It can be used to guard food crops from premature spoilage, confer drought resistance, and, perhaps most controversially, allow for the survival of applications of weed killer. But today, genetically modified produce and glyphosate face uncertainty from every angle. Despite White House recognition of the “broad consensus that foods from genetically engineered crops are safe,” pandering to unscientific misgivings suggests that foods containing GMs are something to be avoided. In truth, glyphosate has been subjected to extensive toxicological review in the decades since its creation. Data from over 300 independent studies consistently fail to implicate glyphosate as a danger to human development, reproduction, hormone regulation, or immunological or neurological functioning.
We find the word “sustainable” used to describe certain agricultural practices. Problem is, various groups use it in different ways and there doesn’t seem to be agreement about what it means. Recently, Dannon Yogurt, a French-based company, came up with its own definition of the word. They decided to adopt a policy that they would only use milk produced from feeds that are “non-GMO,” that is, feeds that are not made from genetically modified organisms. They believe this will “help improve sustainable agricultural practices” by improving soil health, water quality and reduce carbon emissions. This prompted a quick response from six prominent farm organizations. They included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Growers Association, Nation Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. In a letter to Dannon, they said that eliminating GMO feeds is the exact opposite of sustainable agriculture. They pointed out that eliminating GMOs would cause farmers to stop using safe farming practices that have increased farm productivity over the last 20 years and reduced the carbon footprint of our agriculture.
Genetically engineered (GE) crops were first introduced commercially in the 1990s. After two decades of production, some groups and individuals remain critical of the technology based on their concerns about possible adverse effects on human health, the environment, and ethical considerations. At the same time, others are concerned that the technology is not reaching its potential to improve human health and the environment because of stringent regulations and reduced public funding to develop products offering more benefits to society. While the debate about these and other questions related to the genetic engineering techniques of the first 20 years goes on, emerging genetic-engineering technologies are adding new complexities to the conversation.
Consumers are expressing more interest in knowing how their food is handled, what is in it and where it comes from. Dairy farmers care about their cows and are passionate about their work. People in the dairy industry know how hard farmers work to have healthy and well cared for cows; the problem is it is one of the best-kept secrets from the rest of us. One way the dairy industry is striving to ensure excellent animal care is the National FARM Program. FARM stands for Farmers Assuring Responsible Management. FARM was developed by the National Milk Producers Federation with support from the national dairy check-off, national beef check-off and Dairy Management Inc. to demonstrate that dairy farmers are dedicated to providing the maximum level of animal care and milk and meat quality. In the United States, 98 percent of the milk supply is enrolled in this program. The FARM program works by providing animal care guidelines that dairy farmers must follow to participate in the program.
North Carolina wants to know if marijuana could one day replace tobacco as a cash crop. Louisiana is wondering how pot holds up in high humidity. And Washington state has questions about water supplies for weed. Colorado agriculture officials this week briefed officials from about a dozen states — some that have legalized weed, others that joked their states will legalize pot "when hell freezes over" — on the basics of marijuana farming and swapped stories about regulating a crop that the federal government still considers illegal. The Colorado Department of Agriculture also is working on the world's first government-produced guidelines on growing marijuana. There's no shortage of how-to books catering to pot growers both in and out of the black market, but Colorado's forthcoming guidebook aims to apply established agronomy practices to the production of marijuana. "When you start with no knowledge at all, it's rough," said Mitch Yergert, head of Colorado's Division of Plant Industry, an agency within the Agriculture Department that regulates marijuana production.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed fiscal 2017 budget recommends $10 million for ag research center, $400,000 for wolf control efforts and $500,000 in ongoing funding for graduate student housing at University of Idaho agricultural research stations.