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Agriculture News

Hawaii was once a local milk mecca. On Oahu, there’s just one dairy left

The New Food Economy | Posted on August 7, 2018

Naked Cow Dairy, located just inland from Waianae on Oahu’s leeward coast, about 45 minutes from Honolulu, sits on a flat patch of land dwarfed by lush green cliffs. At the far end of the property, past the clucking and bleating, sits the creamery. It’s the key to how Naked Cow continues where no other dairy does. A few small rooms, a guava-wood smoker built from a converted restaurant display fridge with clear doors, and an aging room adapted from a 1963 freezer box truck form the cheese- and butter-making operation. “You have to recycle in Hawaii,” laughs van der Stroom, hinting at the difficulties of doing business on the island. Today, diners at 20 restaurants around the islands and shoppers as far away as Colorado buy the 600 pounds of cheese and 800 pounds of butter produced by Naked Cow each month. But the path to survival for Oahu’s last dairy required a hefty amount of bushwhacking. When van der Stroom moved to the island 25 years ago to run a different dairy, there were 17 others in operation. But one by one, they were priced out by a system in which the Legislature set milk prices that didn’t fluctuate with inflation or changing costs. At the mercy of the single processor on the island, they each gave up. When van der Stroom was handed severance pay and tasked with closing down the final dairy on the island, she looked for a way to soldier on.

Administration lifts GMO crop ban for U.S. wildlife refuges

Reuters | Posted on August 7, 2018

The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era ban on the use of pesticides linked to declining bee populations and the cultivation of genetically modified crops in dozens of national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted. Environmentalists, who had sued to bring about the 2-year-old ban, said on Friday that lifting the restriction poses a grave threat to pollinating insects and other sensitive creatures relying on toxic-free habitats afforded by wildlife refuges.“Industrial agriculture has no place on refuges dedicated to wildlife conservation and protection of some of the most vital and vulnerable species,” said Jenny Keating, federal lands policy analyst for the group Defenders of Wildlife.Limited agricultural activity is authorized on some refuges by law, including cooperative agreements in which farmers are permitted to grow certain crops to produce more food or improve habitat for the wildlife there.The rollback, spelled out in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service memo, ends a policy that had prohibited farmers on refuges from planting biotech crops - such as soybeans and corn - engineered to resist insect pests and weed-controlling herbicides.

The agriculture industry is losing its voice in American politics

Stratfor | Posted on August 7, 2018

Over the past few decades, agribusiness contributions to politics have declined substantially. Lobbying spending by agribusiness as a percentage of total lobbying spending has decreased since 2008, even in election years. Contributions have also gotten slightly more partisan, with more and more contributions going to the Republican Party. Moreover, the composition of the vital, influential Farm Bill has shifted significantly since 2000; its main focus has become funding for food assistance programs rather than protections for farmers.

Cattlemen at heart: Creativity gives next generation of farmers a boost

The Dickinson Press | Posted on August 7, 2018

To help get new farmers on the land, in 2017 the Minnesota Legislature passed the Beginning Farmer Incentive Credit that provides tax credits to the owners of farm assets who either rent or sell assets to a beginning farmer.The new program includes incentives for farmers who sell or rent assets to those who are not close relatives – not children, grandchildren, spouses or siblings.It includes a tax credit up to 5 percent of the sale of assets and up to 10 percent of the gross rental income.Those credits can reduce the risk for older farmers to sell or rent to beginning farmers, Wohlman said.A Beginning Farmer Management Credit is available for beginning farmers who enroll in an approved farm business management program, as well as scholarships for farm management classes.

Climate change-driven droughts are getting hotter, study finds

Science Daily | Posted on August 2, 2018

In a new study, researchers report that temperatures during droughts have been rising faster than in average climates in recent decades, and they point to concurrent changes in atmospheric water vapor as a driver of the surge.

As temperatures rise, Earth's soil is 'breathing' more heavily

Science Daily | Posted on August 2, 2018

The vast reservoir of carbon stored beneath our feet is entering Earth's atmosphere at an increasing rate, according to a new study. Blame microbes: When they chew on decaying leaves and dead plants, they convert a storehouse of carbon into carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere.

2017 Was One Of The Hottest Years On Record

NPR | Posted on August 2, 2018

NOAA has released the latest State of the Climate report, its annual checkup on our planet. So, how did Earth fare in 2017?Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: highest concentrations ever. Global surface temperature: near-record high. Sea surface temperature: near-record high. Global sea level: highest on record.Warm global temperatures have been a strong trend in recent years: the four warmest years on record all occurred since 2014, and last year was among them. In fact, 2017 was the warmest non-El Niño year ever recorded.The past three years were "substantially warmer than the previous — kind of establishing a new neighborhood in terms of global temperature," said Deke Arndt, a climatologist at NOAA and the lead editor of the report. "And 2017 reinforced that."

Farm groups go on anti-tariff blitz after Trump offers trade aid

Politico | Posted on August 2, 2018

arm groups are going on the offensive with a multimillion-dollar advertising and advocacy campaign against President Donald Trump’s tariffs just days after the administration rolled out a $12 billion bailout for farmers harmed by a mounting trade war. The launch of the campaign also comes as Trump is due Thursday in Iowa and Illinois, where he is likely to reassure farmers growing increasingly anxious over trade retaliation that has targeted soybeans, pork and other major farm commodities.

The fight for America's farming soul

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier | Posted on August 2, 2018

Bozic, asked to describe the “current situation in the [state’s] dairy sector,” told legislators he had “estimated… over 80 percent of the state’s remaining dairy farmers are ‘last generation dairies.’” Interestingly, that walking-dead news wasn’t what landed Bozic, who doubles as the associate director of the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, in hot milk. It’s what he said next that did the trick:“In this ‘sour milk’ economy,” wrote Shepel, Bozic “proposed a new kind of dairy business model to take the state forward.“He told lawmakers that the capital needed to build a new dairy that will achieve sufficient economies of scale is $30 million to $50 million and that no single farmer can afford that.” As such, “‘We need to bring together 10-12-15 families that all bring their financial wherewithal.’” Then McMillin, as quoted by The Milkweed, asked the operative question at the heart of not just Minnesota dairy woe but all 21st century American ag policy: “Do we push for the model suggested by Bosic (sic) or do we strive to find policy which works for the majority of dairy” — really all U.S. farm and ranch — “producers?” It’s the critical question that’s been in need of an answer for more than 20 years since, in 1996, Congress — led by then-House Ag Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., now Senate Ag Chairman Pat Roberts — pushed Big Ag’s most hands-off farm bill proposal through a GOP-dominated House and Senate.

2.5 Billion Pounds of Meat Piles Up in U.S. as Production Grows, Exports Slow

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on August 2, 2018

Meat is piling up in U.S. cold-storage warehouses, fueled by a surge in supplies and trade disputes that are eroding demand. Federal data, coming as early as Monday, are expected to show a record level of beef, pork, poultry and turkey being stockpiled in U.S. facilities, rising above 2.5 billion pounds, agricultural analysts said.