Skip to content Skip to navigation

Agriculture News

Bayer Has a $289 Million Roundup Headache

Bloomberg | Posted on August 29, 2018

Last fall, as Bayer AG was completing its $66 billion mergerwith Monsanto Co., Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann visited the concrete-slab Berlin complex where company scientists develop disease-fighting drugs. At an employee town hall meeting, Baumann asked whether staffers believed environmentalists’ claims that the Monsanto weed killer Roundup causes cancer. Despite the CEO’s obvious interest in the acquisition, some raised their hands. On Aug. 10 a California court agreed, awarding a school groundskeeper dying of lymphoma $289 million on a claim that exposure to glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient, had contributed to his cancer. The verdict—the first in what may be thousands of cases—sent shock waves through Bayer and erased $16 billion from the company’s market value in a week. “The odds are that Bayer will suffer more losses” in litigation over Roundup, says Elizabeth Burch, a University of Georgia liability law professor. “Investors better get prepared.”

Inbreeding and disease are factors in decline of yellow-banded bumblebee

Science Daily | Posted on August 29, 2018

By sequencing the genome of the yellow-banded bumblebee, researchers have found that inbreeding and disease are likely culprits in their rapid decline in North America. This is believed to be the first time the genome of an at-risk bumblebee has been sequenced and it allows researchers to take a deeper look into the potential reason for their diminishing numbers. What they found surprised them.By sequencing the genome of the yellow-banded bumblebee, York University researchers have found that inbreeding and disease are likely culprits in their rapid decline in North America.

Repeated natural disasters pummel Hawaii’s farms, affecting macadamia nuts, taro, papaya, flower harvests

The Washington Post | Posted on August 29, 2018

Historic, torrential April rains on the island of Kauai wiped out much of Hawaii’s taro crops — the main ingredient in poi and a staple carb of the island diet. The next month, one of the state’s most active volcanoes spewed ash and lava throughout the eastern end of the Big Island, decimating more than 50 percent of the state’s papaya production and tropical flower industry.Then came Hurricane Lane.As Hawaii begins to recover from the tropical cyclone that dumped more than three feet of rain onto the Big Island last week, farmers here are just starting to assess the damage to their crops. Lane landed yet another blow to Hawaii’s agriculture industry after an already difficult year of reckoning with Mother Nature. Flooding, excess moisture and pounding rains could hurt macadamia nut, coffee and flower harvests for farmers on the east side of the island, which bore the brunt of the storm.

Drought conditions create feed shortage in parts of US

Watt Ag Net | Posted on August 29, 2018

Dry conditions are making it challenging for producers to feed cattle in parts of the United States. In addition to already stressful conditions, farmers are concerned about what they will feed cattle this winter as drought conditions in some areas haven’t allowed for normal hay growth, limiting stockpiles that are used to get cows, bulls and yearlings through the winter when forage is scarce.The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows that nearly all of Missouri is experiencing drought, with several counties in the northwestern part of the state facing "exceptional" conditions. Other parts of the state were close to the same classification. Soil moisture is listed as short or very short in many parts of the state.Almost half of Missouri's corn crop was listed as poor or very poor, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) progress report.Parts of Kansas are struggling too, as mother nature has provided less-than-ideal conditions for the wheat crop.In Texas, Lazy Two Cattle Company told MyStatesman that, in a normal year, it would have already harvested about 1,200 bales of hay by now. Due to drought, this hasn’t happened.

Saskatchewan farmers are the real victims of the Global Transportation Hub land deal

CBC Canada | Posted on August 29, 2018

Shipping agri-food products out of an intermodal facility in containers offered our province a final, decisive chance to access a massive, increasingly diverse overseas market for food. The scandal jeopardizes the entire GTH project. The government said as much.  "No matter what happens to it, [the GTH] will be under such intense public scrutiny it would be difficult for a private business or private tenant to want to become a partner to move into that. So we need to look for something else," Justice Minister Don Morgan said.  Containerization allows farmers to do something for which they have yearned for 90 years: to find their own markets, work directly with small- and medium-sized overseas importers and set their own prices. Saskatchewan is an agricultural export province and we are fiercely proud of it. Let's use some easy-to-find numbers. In 2016, we exported $14.4 billion of agri-food products, up 32.1 per cent over the 10-year average, government promotional literature tells us. Sounds like an occasion for another round of high-fives. A successful intermodal hub would give farmers 40 cash crops, not two or three. A cluster of processors at the GTH expelling, extruding, compacting, pelletizing, isolating, filtering, sorting and testing raw agricultural commodities would create high-value products and by-by-products, some of which don't currently exist. Co-located co-packers, shippers and logistics companies would bottle, label, box, palletize and containerize. Ordering, stuffing and shipping a container would take a farmer days, not weeks, which is the current dismal state of affairs. But such a scenario depends on one thing: firm commitment to containerization and intermodal traffic from our government. Let's be realistic, Saskatchewan: This is our last chance, and we are screwing it up. 

Swiss government urges voters to reject more state help for farmers

Reuters | Posted on August 29, 2018

The Swiss government urged voters to reject more help for farmers and other proposals for agriculture in a referendum next month, saying they would send food prices rocketing and hurt the economy.Switzerland will two hold referendums on Sept. 23 - one on giving more state support to farmers and another on introducing more sustainable and animal-friendly agricultural practices.



Poultry producer seeks change to Delaware facility demands

AP | Posted on August 29, 2018

 poultry producer is asking for a change to the decision that grants it a special use exception for a deboning facility in Delaware. An Allen Harim spokesperson tells WBOC-TV the company found the condition that its spray irrigation system must be upgraded, approved, permitted and operational before the Millsboro facility is operational too restrictive. That condition was one of two set by the Board of Adjustment in its May decision approving the facility, over the objections of those with environmental concerns.The DNREC slapped Allen Harim with nearly $250,000 in penalties and other costs for years of wastewater violations at its chicken processing plant in Harbeson.

Blame Trump’s Tariffs and the Weather. New York’s Farmers Do.

The New York Times | Posted on August 29, 2018

A drought, flash floods, the trade war and tightening immigration policy have combined to cause an economic crisis for New York farmers. For the first three weeks of July, Peter Martens prayed for rain. At the end of the month the rain finally arrived, but by then it was too late for some of his crops. For others, it was too much water, too quickly.The lack of rain, Mr. Martens said, will reduce his corn yield by about 20 percent, but the late-summer deluges damaged the quality of his spelt, a type of wheat.New York’s extreme weather this summer, which began with a drought followed by flash flooding, has been enough to make it a difficult season for the state’s farmers.But farmers say President Trump’s trade war and his administration’s crackdown on immigration have made a bad summer far worse.Red numbers are filling farmers’ balance sheets: Mr. Martens’s butternut squash is covered in weeds because he did not have enough workers, at the right time, to hoe the field and now his yield will be far less than he expected. He is also nervous about selling his red kidney beans because higher tariffs abroad threaten to drive down the price as international markets disappear. Farmers across the country are asking the same question, as they endure economic losses because of Mr. Trump’s trade policies. Initial estimates point to a roughly $3 billion loss in value for soybean and corn crops across the country since May, according to a report from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The National Milk Producers Federation estimates that the tariffs will cost American dairy farmers $1.8 billion.

The Evolution of the Local Brand, Policy Initiatives and Role of Direct Markets

Choices magazine | Posted on August 29, 2018

Sales of locally branded products have increased over the last 20 years. The USDA 2015 local food marketing survey found that 167,009 U.S. farmers and ranchers sold $8.7 billion of food directly to consumers, retailers, and other businesses and institution. In 2012, 7.8% of U.S. agricultural producers participated in direct or intermediated markets, a notable trend given that the agricultural sector is increasingly defined by its bimodal structure. Since 85% of farms that participated in direct and intermediated markets in 2012 had gross cash farm income under $75,000, federal and local funding for local foods may be indirectly serving as a market and policy initiative to support small farms, but do we know if that support is effective?One trend worth noting for local foods is that growth in some subsectors appears to be maturing, particularly in direct-to-consumer outlets. Despite a 5.5% increase in the number of farms utilizing direct-to-consumer marketing outlets between 2007 and 2012 observed in the Census of Agriculture, there was no change in overall sales as intermediated markets became a more significant channel for those marketing local (Low et al., 2015). Although much of the initial interest in local foods originally revolved around farm-fresh produce, a growing array of local food products that require some level of manufacturing (meats, salsas, baked goods, and fruit-based beverages) is appearing alongside farm products and may represent opportunities for growth since consumers value more convenient or artisanal offerings. 

Playing chicken with sustainability: the fast-growing chicken debate

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 29, 2018

Even with a wealth of technology at their fingertips, some chicken producers may be rolling back production practices to meet the demands of companies hoping to build their brand by differentiating how animals are raised. Whole Foods Market and other retailers have agreed to a set of principles from the Global Animal Partnership that includes replacing current fast-growing chickens with slower-growing chickens by 2024.Proponents of modern poultry production point to scientific research showing that chickens today, in addition to growing faster, are stronger and healthier than ever before. In addition, today’s breed of chicken has a much smaller environmental footprint.In the age of climate change, the impact of a transition to slower growing birds is a critical ethical consideration that is frequently ignored. If only one-third of broiler chicken producers switched to a slower growing breed, nearly 1.5 billion more birds would be needed annually to produce the same amount of meat currently produced – requiring a tremendous increase in water, land and fuel consumption:  Additional feed: Enough to fill 670,000 additional tractor trailers on the road per year, using millions more gallons of fuel annually.Additional land: Growing the feed (corn and soybeans) needed would require 7.6 million acres annually, roughly the size of Maryland.Additional manure: Slower growing chickens stay on farms longer, producing 28.5 billion additional pounds of manure annually.   Additional water needed: 1 billion additional gallons of water per year for the chickens to drink