The U.S. Department of Agriculture dropped its net farm income forecast for 2019 by more than 10 percent on Wednesday, saying that data lags from the partial government shutdown failed to show the full picture of the sector’s health.
The USDA forecast net farm income, a broad measure of profits, of $69.4 billion this year. If accurate, the total would be the third year of net income below $70 billion since 2015. “We’re starting to see … a new average coming out here,” said USDA economist Carrie Litkowski.
Rather than sending wallboard to the landfill, Urban Gypsum is reaching out to local building contractors to bring the material into its 75,000-square-foot facility, where it is processed into a flour-like powder consisting of nearly 100 percent recycled gypsum for agricultural and industrial uses. Gypsum, a soft mineral composed of calcium sulfate, is a widely used fertilizer that provides plant nutrition while improving aeration in compact soils, allowing better drainage and deeper root penetration.
The Ag Economy Barometer weakened slightly in February, declining 7 points to a reading of 136 compared to 143 a month earlier. The modest decline puts the barometer back near the levels observed in October and November 2018 and just 4 points below the level of February 2018. The downward shift in the barometer was primarily the result of weakness in producers’ perception of current economic conditions on their farms as the Index of Current Conditions fell from a reading of 132 in January to 119 in February. Producers’ expectations regarding future conditions also weakened, but the decline was just 3 points, falling from 148 in January to 145 in February.
In 2018, the trade records came tumbling down, including the highest-ever imports from China, though President Trump's trade war did seem to put a damper on U.S. exports to China.For the first time in 12 years, the United States set a record for total trade, total exports, total imports and total deficit all in one year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released today.The U.S. trade deficit exploded in 2018, reaching $878.68 billion. It had not topped $800 billion since 2008, though it has increased seven of the last nine years. The previous record year was 2006. Somewhat surprisingly, the reason for the 12-year drought for a record for total trade, total exports, total imports and trade deficit in one year was, in fact, the much-maligned trade deficit.
In with the new, onward with the old -- that is the unique challenge facing rural America's infrastructure needs. On the one hand, rural citizens and agricultural communities are suffering for lack of reliable, high-speed internet that they need to compete and survive economically. On the other hand, much of rural America is crisscrossed by an aging network of roads, railroads and shipping channels in need of repairs, maintenance and expansion.The panel ended with a warning for those trying to bring broadband to rural areas from Mike McNalley of the East Kentucky Power Cooperative, based on the challenges co-ops faced with bringing electricity to these same regions in the 20th century. "There is going to be a lot of opposition," he said. "It will be from the telecoms, the cable companies, data companies and others who think that, someday, they may get there and they want to preserve that market, just like the [utility companies] did with electricity 85 years ago."
General Mills on March 4 announced its commitment to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030. The company will partner with organic and conventional farmers, suppliers and trusted farm advisors in key growing regions to drive the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices. A contributor to climate change, it is estimated that the global food system accounts for roughly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of water consumption.
Australian consumer acceptance of a technology that offers an alternative to physical castration should give more pork producers the confidence to use it, says one of Australia’s leading pork suppliers. The technology, known as immunological castration or immunocastration, involves administering a protein compound that works like a vaccine to reduce the risk of boar taint, an unpleasant odor that can occur when cooking meat from sexually mature male pigs. As a result, the country’s top-five integrated producers — accounting for about 60% of the industry — all now use the vaccine.“In terms of [consumer] backlash around the technology, it’s just been proven to be a non-event in Australia,” he said.“Consumers deem it as safe and they have other things on their mind, such animal welfare, antibiotics use and GM (genetically modified) technology.”Now that Australia has proven success with the technology, there was no reason why other countries couldn’t learn from the country’s experiences, he added.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture has mailed more than 19,000 ballots to state cattle producers, urging them to vote on a referendum asking whether or not to establish the California Cattle Council. If approved, the Council would perform research aimed at the development of best management practices to improve sustainability and efficiency; assist with regulatory compliance; and develop consumer education programs for California beef.
Beef producers in the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement enjoyed a surge in sales to Japan in January, as ranchers benefited from lower tariffs than their U.S. competitors. Beef imports from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico, all of which have approved the trade pact, surged to 33,000 metric tons in January, up 56% from the previous year, according to Japan's Finance Ministry. The tariff rate for these countries dropped to 27.5% from 38.5% after the agreement took effect.The main cause of the jump was Japanese importers pushing some December purchases back to January, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday