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  • Farming becoming riskier under climate change | Science Daily

    "Going forward, we're predicting warmer and wetter springs, and drier, hotter summers," Davis says. "The season fragments and we start to see an early-early season, so that March starts looking like a good target for planting in the future. In the past, March has been the bleeding edge; nobody in their right mind would have planted then. But we've already seen the trend for early planting. It's going to keep trending in that direction for summer annuals."  Those drier, hotter summers are likely to change farming practices too, particularly in southern Illinois."Drought periods will intensify in mid- to late-summer under all the climate scenarios. If farmers decide to plant later to avoid the wet period in April and May, they're going to run into drought that will hit yield during the anthesis-silking interval, leading to a lot of kernel abortion. That second planting window is probably pretty risky," Davis says.Risk is the key word. If farmers bet on the early planting window and get hit with a frost or more March precipitation than expected, are they out of luck? Davis says they will have to choose to mud the seed in, plant a different hybrid, or even scrap corn and go for winter wheat later in the season. But given that many farmers choose hybrids and purchase seeds the previous fall, they're unlikely to have that kind of flexibility come spring. Any miscalculation will be incredibly costly.

    Post date: Wed, 03/29/2017 - 19:26
  • Vermont Defies, Counters Trump on Immigration | Valley News

    Vermont pushed back against President Donald Trump’s immigration orders with a new law on Tuesday that limits police involvement with the federal government and gives the governor the power to sign off on agreements for officers to do federal immigration duties. Republican Gov. Phil Scott called it a response to federal overreach by the Trump administration.Under the law, state and local police officers are prohibited from collecting personal information on residents beyond what’s needed to carry out their law enforcement duties. It also bars police in some instances from providing information on residents to federal agents. The bill was introduced in February with support from Vermont leaders of all political stripes, including Democratic Attorney General TJ Donovan and Progressive-Democrat Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and cleared the House by a wide margin. Before signing the bill, Scott addressed concerns that Vermont’s law would conflict with federal immigration laws.

    Post date: Wed, 03/29/2017 - 19:16
  • For starters, undocumented immigrants cannot take part in the food stamp program | The Huffington Post

    Food banks across the country have been noticing a trend since President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January. In recent weeks, outlets have reported that outreach workers and enrollment assistants who help eligible immigrants enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, say immigrants are canceling their benefits because they fear their participation could flag them for deportation.Such fears appear to stem primarily from a leaked draft of an executive order saying immigrants living in the United States could be deported if it is determined they rely on some form of public assistance — like food stamps.It is important to note, however, that no law has changed — and the official guidance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency that oversees SNAP, remains that there are no immigration consequences linked with participation in the program.Still, that hasn’t stopped some conservatives from applauding the news. One conservative news outlet called the news “excellent!” Jackie Vimo, a policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center, said her organization has been fielding calls from organizations across the country on the issue of SNAP benefits and deportation fears in light of recent reports.Vimo described celebratory reactions to these reports as xenophobic and reflective of the misinformation that persists regarding who legally qualifies for SNAP benefits and who doesn’t.“The idea that people would be celebrating children going hungry because they feel like an outsider in their country is baffling to me,” Vimo said Tuesday. “These [immigrant] families are a part of our American communities, and an attack on them is an attack on communities as a whole.” According to the strict requirements for the program laid out in detail by the USDA, undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive SNAP benefits.Even immigrants living in the United States as lawful permanent residents (aka green card holders) must live in the country for five years before they qualify for the program, though some states — like California and Minnesota — run their own state-funded food assistance programs that have slightly different eligibility requirements.Children of non-citizens are SNAP-eligible, however, as are certain groups of refugees and asylees — such as victims of trafficking. Altogether, according to the most recent data from the USDA, only about 4 percent of SNAP recipients are either refugees or other types of non-citizens.

    Post date: Wed, 03/29/2017 - 19:15
  • Policy Shift Helps Coal, but Other Forces May Limit Effect | The New York Times

    Many fossil fuel executives are celebrating President Trump’s move to dismantle the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. But their cheers are muted, because market forces and state initiatives continue to elevate coal’s rivals, especially natural gas and renewable energy. In coal’s favor, there is the new promise that federal lands will be open for leasing, ending an Obama-era moratorium. Easing pollution restrictions could delay the closing of some old coal-fired power plants, slowing the switch by some utilities to other sources.And with the government pendulum swinging from environmental concerns back to job creation and energy independence, share prices of many energy companies, particularly coal producers, soared Tuesday on the news.For coal executives, however, optimism and expansion plans remain guarded. Regulatory relief could restore 10 percent of their companies’ lost market share at most, they say — nowhere near enough to return coal to its dominant position in power markets and put tens of thousands of coal miners to work.

    Post date: Wed, 03/29/2017 - 19:13
  • Elmhurst dairy swaps cows milk for nuts | Clearlyveg

    92-year-old company Elmhurst Dairy has not only closed down its dairy operation, but has opted for a full rebranding in order to focus on plant-based milks. According to Rise of the Vegan, the decision is based on a lack of customer demand, with CEO Henry Schwartz stating that "there isn't much room for our kind of business." As a result, Elmhurst Dairy has now become just Elmhurst and debuted its new line called "Milked" during the Natural Foods Expo West in Anaheim last weekend. The plant-based milks are described on the website as "minimally processed nutmilks" that are "just as nutritious and pure" as the company's "famous conventional milk," free of any "emulsifiers, thickeners, whiteners or frankenfood proteins."

    Post date: Wed, 03/29/2017 - 19:05

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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.”  


Are corporations taking over America’s food supply?

15 March, 2016

Family farms.  The foundation of America’s food security.  According to the USDA, 97 percent of farms are family farms, and they grow 90 percent of the food produced. But national policies to keep food affordable (American’s spend less than 7 percent of their paycheck for food) and the boom and bust cycles of farming have resulted in larger, more concentrated farming practices.