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  • Salting the earth: North Dakota farmers struggle with a toxic byproduct of the oil boom | NBC News

    For the past two decades, Peterson and his wife Christine have been dealing with the spillage of saltwater — a byproduct of oil production — on their land, which grows peas, soybeans and various types of grain. Almost 40 years ago, they signed a contract with an oil company "land man" who came to their house and said there might be oil on their land. In 1997, two spills covered dozens of acres with more than 50,000 gallons of saltwater. A decade later, another 21,000 gallons of saltwater spilled. And since then, though their land never produced much oil or oil revenue, the Petersons say they have seen another 10 spills.They claim these spills were never properly cleaned up. Peterson says it's become his "life's mission" to get some justice for his land, so he and his wife are suing the oil company, Petro Harvester."It's incumbent on me to protect my property to the best of my ability for myself and my family," Peterson said. "Enough is enough."

    Post date: Mon, 08/13/2018 - 15:07
  • 'They’re the lifeblood': O'Neill raid highlights importance of growing immigrant workforce to agriculture | Omaha World Herald

    The immigration enforcement action last week in this north-central Nebraska ranching community of 3,700 illuminated how important immigrant workers have become in Nebraska, particularly to the state’s largest industry, agriculture. More than 130 workers were snared in the operation, which was focused on a group that allegedly conspired to exploit, and profit from, the immigrant laborers.The raid left a shortage of workers at a local hydroponic tomato greenhouse, where 250,000 pounds of tomatoes are picked and packed each week, and at one of the state’s largest cattle feedlots, where reportedly 70,000 cattle a day are watered and fed.In rural Holt County, where the unemployment rate is 2.6 percent, the struggle to find people in a tight labor market to fill the often hard, dirty and low-paying jobs like feeding cattle or picking tomatoes has people turning to immigrants.“Labor is tough,” said rancher Kirk Shane, as he directed traffic at the Holt County Fair in Chambers. “I remember when we could hire kids for the summer. Now you can’t get them — they’re either too busy with sports or you can’t rely on them.”The “now hiring” signs outside of the O’Neill Ventures tomato greenhouse have been posted there for several weeks, and now they carry even more urgency after perhaps two-thirds of the company’s workforce was hauled away.

    Post date: Mon, 08/13/2018 - 15:05
  • Bayer shares fall 10 percent after Monsanto's Roundup cancer trial | Reuters

    Bayer shares plunged more than 10 percent on Monday after a California jury ordered the German company’s newly acquired Monsanto subsidiary to pay $289 million for not warning of cancer risks posed by its main weed killer. The case against Monsanto, bought by Bayer this year for $63 billion, is the first of more than 5,000 similar lawsuits over the company’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, including its Roundup brand, across the United States.Monsanto said on Friday that it would appeal against the verdict which is the latest episode in a long-running debate over claims that exposure to Roundup can cause cancer.“The jury’s verdict is at odds with the weight of scientific evidence, decades of real world experience and the conclusions of regulators around the world that all confirm glyphosate is safe and does not cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Bayer said in a statement, referring to the plaintiff’s type of cancer.

    Post date: Mon, 08/13/2018 - 15:04
  • Milking cows on an industrial scale arrives in western Minnesota, and some farmers shudder | Minnesota Star Tribune

    The milking carousel at the Louriston Dairy turns 22 hours a day and milks more cows in half an hour than most dairies do all day. Cows step onto the slow-moving merry-go-round in single file. A worker sprays disinfectant on each cow’s udder, another wipes the teats clean with a paper towel, and another secures suction cups onto the teats for milking during a seven-minute trip around the room. Gleaming silver tanks in the next room fill with flash-cooled milk as 106 cows are milked at once.The farm 18 miles west of Willmar is home to 9,500 cows, 40 times larger than the average U.S. dairy operation. It is part of a fast-growing network of giant farms built and run by Riverview LLP, a Morris, Minn.-based firm that is a game-changer for the Minnesota dairy industry. The company owns 92,000 milk cows — more than all the farmers in Illinois or Virginia — and 60,000 of them are in western Minnesota, where it has nine dairies and is building more.“We are really bullish on the dairy industry, especially in the Upper Midwest,” said Brad Fehr, one of the company’s founders.But farmers at smaller dairy operations are aghast. How, they ask, can a company build such huge operations when milk prices yield meager profits and many of their neighbors are leaving the business?

    Post date: Mon, 08/13/2018 - 15:03
  • China says U.S. farmers may never regain market share lost in trade war | Politico

    China can easily find other countries to buy agricultural goods from instead of the U.S., its vice agriculture minister said, warning that American farmers could permanently lose their share of the Chinese market as a result of the trade war. “Many countries have the willingness and they totally have the capacity to take over the market share the U.S. is enjoying in China. If other countries become reliable suppliers for China, it will be very difficult for the U.S. to regain the market,” Han Jun told official Xinhua news agency in an interview. He also warned that American farmers could lose the position in the Chinese market they have spent several decades building up. Han said they may not be able to make up the losses brought by retaliatory tariffs, even with the White House’s planned $12 billion aid package for farmers caught in the dispute.He said Beijing had imposed duties on 90 percent of the agricultural goods the country imports from the United States since the trade war kicked off at the start of last month, with limited impact on China.China has been buying more soybeans from other countries and promoting alternatives to soybeans to feed livestock, as well as pushing farmers to plant more domestic crops. Before the trade war erupted, China was on track to import 300 million tons of soybeans from the United States this year.The country imported about $24.1 billion of agricultural products from the United States last year, accounting for 19 percent of its total farm imports worth some $125.86 billion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

    Post date: Mon, 08/13/2018 - 15:00

Ag and Rural Leaders

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STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is where state leaders find the answers they need on agriculture and rural policy issues.

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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