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  • Is hemp the future of NC agriculture? | The Fayetteville Observer

    The farmers hope hemp will become the next big cash crop, one that can provide alternative or additional revenue to traditional crops such as tobacco, cotton, grains and the ornamental plants that Averitt sells.  “It might stand to be a lot more profitable than the nursery,” Averitt said. “Anything — anything helps.” But first, Averitt and other American farmers have to learn how to grow hemp in commercial quantities and quality. America stopped growing industrial hemp about 60 years ago. The knowledge and skills to do it have faded. North Carolina farmers are in their second year in modern times of legally raising hemp, albeit on a limited and tightly regulated basis. As of late June, 328 farmers in the state were licensed to grow it, up from 124 last year, when state licensing began.  American farmers grew 9,770 acres of hemp in 2016 and 25,541 acres in 2017, Johnson reported. Researchers have estimated farmers can gross $21,000 per acre from seeds and $12,500 from stalks, she said. The North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association has told lawmakers that farmers in the state will make an estimated $25,000 to $30,000 per acre this year from hemp flowers. Despite the setbacks and restrictions, farmers including Bob Crumley of the state Industrial Hemp Association have high confidence that the crop will boom in North Carolina. He believes the flower farmers will take in $20 million to $26.4 million this year, which doesn’t include sales of the extracted oils or income from seeds and fiber. The total state economic impact should be well above $100 million, Crumley told lawmakers.

    Post date: Mon, 07/16/2018 - 13:53
  • At FDA meeting, controversy over lab-grown meat | The Food & Environment Reporting Network

    The Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting Thursday on the safety and labeling of alternative “meat” proteins produced with animal cell culture technology. In a packed room, a series of FDA employees, industry stakeholders, and scientists discussed current trends in the controversial sector, which some imagine could reshape how Americans consume meat. As alternative meat products enter the market, their regulation has become a top issue for the food industry. The livestock industry has particularly pushed back on the arrival of these products, arguing that they falsely call themselves “meat” and should be held to higher regulatory standards. The FDA and the USDA have battled over which agency should regulate animal cell culture technology. Some saw Thursday’s meeting as a way for the FDA to expand its influence in the emerging sector.

     

    Post date: Mon, 07/16/2018 - 13:47
  • U.S. trade, immigration and biofuel policies hit farmers hard | U.S. News & World Report

    Even before the specter of a trade war with China and other countries threatened to cost them billions of dollars, American farmers were feeling the squeeze from fluctuating crop prices and other factors that have halved their overall income in recent years. The threat of counter-tariffs on U.S. farm goods and the impact of President Donald Trump's other policies on immigration and biofuels, though, have some farmers more worried than ever about their ability to continue eking out an existence in agriculture. "No matter where you look in ag right now, you see storm clouds on the horizon and some of those are a lot closer overhead than we'd care for," said Chad Hart, an agricultural economist with Iowa State University.  Trump's tariff threats earlier this year against China, Mexico, Canada and European Union elicited quick retaliatory measures that depressed the prices of certain U.S. agricultural products, including corn, soybeans, pork. When $34 billion worth of tariffs against China took effect July 6 and China responded with tariffs of its own, U.S. farmers were already feeling the squeeze from lower crop prices, higher land prices and other factors.  The Department of Agriculture predicted before the threat of tariffs and counter-tariffs that U.S. farm income would drop this year to $60 billion, or half the $120 billion of five years ago. That projection is likely high, given what's transpired since.

    Post date: Mon, 07/16/2018 - 13:42
  • USDA Ends Report Access for Media | DTN

    In a surprise move that caught media outlets flatfooted, USDA announced Tuesday that the agency would end its more than a century-old practice of "lockup" events ahead of the release of USDA reports, such as the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) and crop and livestock production reports. Agency officials told reporters the decision was mainly due to an inherent "latency advantage" that some news outlets were providing to trading customers, which allowed those traders to make high volumes of trades within the first one to two seconds following the report's release.That creates an unfair advantage to those traders versus the public at large, said Robert Johansson, USDA chief economist.Providing media access at the same time as the general public "levels the playing field and makes the issuance of the reports fair to everyone involved," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release sent after the call with reporters and media representatives. Perdue was not part of the media call.

    Post date: Mon, 07/16/2018 - 13:11
  • Mobile Food Banks Roll to Isolated, Rural Poor | Pew Charitable Trust

    On a recent sultry summer afternoon, 81-year-old widow Nellie Allen sat on the porch of her one-story brick home, one in a strip of government-subsidized houses surrounded by fields and country roads. Allen makes do on $900 a month from Social Security. She raised four kids and never worked outside the home. She doesn’t drive, so she can’t get to the nearest grocery store, which is several miles away. Even if she did, she wouldn’t be able to afford to buy what she needs.The big truck heading her way pulls to the side of a one-lane road to let oncoming cars pass by before it can reach her.The truck is the West Alabama Food Bank’s mobile pantry. Its cargo includes some 5,000 pounds of food — boxes of bread, fruits, vegetables, drinks and pastries that it will deliver to dozens of people in rural Alabama, many of them poor, aging or disabled. All of them, like Allen, need help to make ends meet.Allen pushes her wheelbarrow down a cracked sidewalk to a dead end to receive her groceries. Allen examines the contents of the box: She happily notices the lettuce and other greens she can put into a salad. With ranch dressing.“We don’t get the same stuff every time,” she said. “But I can cook with it.”Food pantries and soup kitchens tend to be in densely populated cities, where they can draw a lot of people. That model doesn’t work in rural counties, where settlement is sparse. Counties with the highest rates of “food insecurity,” where people don’t have enough access to affordable, nutritious food, are disproportionately rural. Rural counties make up 63 percent of U.S. counties but 79 percent of those with the worst food insecurity rates, according to Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks.

    Post date: Mon, 07/16/2018 - 13:10

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Gleanings

Talk to your governor about the Opportunity Zones in your state

30 January, 2018

Qualified Opportunity Zones in the Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017

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Farmland Taxes Under Discussion in the Midwest Again

23 January, 2017

Senator Jean Leising knows it’s going to be another tough year for beef and hog producers, and 2016’s record national yields for corn and soybeans indicate that farm profitability will decline for the third straight year.  She is convinced that “the drop in net farm income again this year makes the changes Indiana made to the farmland taxation calculation in 2016 even more important.”  

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