Tag Archives: agriculture

The National FFA Organization announced this week a record-high student membership of 700,170, up from nearly 670,000 in 2018. National FFA Organization CEO Mark Poeschl  says the membership growth “reflects continued enthusiasm for agriculture as well as agricultural education.”

The top six student membership states are Texas, California, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio and Missouri. Interest in FFA and agricultural education continues to grow as membership continues to increase.

This year, the organization has more than 100,000 Latino members, 45 percent of the membership is female with 52 percent of the membership being male. Females hold more than 50 percent of the leadership positions. FFA chapters can be found in 24 of the 25 largest U.S. cities.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to student members who belong to one of the more than 8,600 local FFA chapters. The organization is also supported by more than eight million alumni and supporters.

The Organic Trade Association this week announced the development of three online training courses to bolster its Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program. The training courses are designed for organic businesses, accredited certifiers and organic inspectors, with one of the courses a pre-requisite for businesses pre-enrolled in the program.

The Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program was launched by the Organic Trade Association earlier this year, and almost four dozen organic businesses have joined. The new anti-fraud courses will analyze where opportunities for crime in the organic supply chain most commonly occur, and offers education on the Organic Fraud Prevention Plan and how to put it into real on-the-job practice.

A spokesperson for the Organic Trade Association says the effort “will strengthen our ability to protect against fraud and maintain the integrity of organic.” The three online courses will be available in late 2019 and early 2020. Enrollment and program information is available on the association’s website, OTA.com.

MILWAUKEE – August 2019 saw increases in U.S. sales of self-propelled combines and 4-wheel-drive tractors as well as total U.S. 2-wheel-drive tractor sales compared to August of last year, according to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

U.S. 4-wheel-drive tractor sales increased 19.3 percent in August compared to last year and U.S. August self-propelled combine sales increased 11.5 percent.

Total U.S. sales of 2-wheel-drive tractors in August increased 1.9 percent compared to August last year: under 40 HP 2-wheel-drive tractors increased 2.1 percent, while sales of 40-100 HP tractors decreased 1.4 percent, and sales of 100-plus HP tractors increased 13.6 percent.

For Canada, August 4-wheel-drive tractor sales were flat and self-propelled combine sales decreased 45.4 percent. August 2-wheel-drive tractor Canadian sales were mixed (9.1 percent increase for under 40 HP, 4.2 percent decrease for 40-100 HP, and .5 percent decrease for 100-plus HP).

“Although the numbers are flat to positive for the year, we and the industry remain cautious about the overall Ag economy,” said Curt Blades, senior vice president of Ag Services at the Association of Equipment manufacturers.

The full reports can be found in the Market Data section of the AEM website under Ag Tractor and Combine Reports.

U.S.: https://www.aem.org/market-data/statistics/us-ag-tractor-and-combine-reports/

Canada: https://www.aem.org/market-data/statistics/canadian-ag-tractor-combine-reports/

LINCOLN – Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman issued statements following news that radical anti-agriculture groups had called for a moratorium on livestock production in Nebraska.

“Let’s be clear: The out-of-state environmental lobbying groups rallying opposition against our family farmers in Nebraska are anti-agriculture,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Left unchecked, they would destroy our way of life.  This attempt to stop livestock development in Nebraska is a part of the ‘meat is murder’ movement led by radical groups who want to end livestock production around the globe.  I urge Nebraskans in our local communities to rise up and protect family farms and stand with our livestock producers across our state.”

“Agriculture is the backbone of Nebraska’s economy, and it is extremely disheartening to learn that there are groups of citizens in our own state that are working to essentially eliminate the livestock industry,” said NDA Director Wellman.  “As the director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, I strongly support all aspects of Nebraska agriculture and the farmers and ranchers that work tirelessly contributing to Nebraska’s economic well-being through livestock production.  CAFO’s are well thought out and planned operations across Nebraska with plans that work to address environmental impacts, nutrient management and animal health to efficiently deliver a high quality, safe food supply.”

The following statement can be attributed to Craig Head as spokesman for the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

LINCOLN, NEB. – “Livestock farming is part of the heritage and fabric of Nebraska and a critical part of Nebraska agriculture. Enacting a statewide moratorium to stop new livestock farms would be the equivalent of halting the growth of rural Nebraska. Livestock farms support our rural communities, strengthen our state’s economy, and keep Nebraska strong.”

“The notion that a moratorium is needed ignores the realities of what farmers must do to build and operate a new livestock farm. Nebraska farmers go through an extensive process and must adhere to numerous local, state, and federal regulations, governing everything from where barns can be located, to how they operate for the protection of natural resources and the environment. A moratorium on Nebraska livestock farms, as has been proposed by some environmental and activist groups, would be nothing short of a disservice to Nebraska farmers, our rural communities, and our state.”

A U.S. banking regulator says more farmers are falling behind on loans held by community banks when compared to last year.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation says it’s watching for more risks in the ag sector. In its quarterly report, the FDIC didn’t refer directly to the Trump Administration’s trade war with China, which began in 2018. In a prepared statement, officials say, “We continue to monitor risks in the agriculture sector from low commodity prices and farm incomes.” The FDIC says the share of long-past due farm loans held by community banks, which are the major agricultural lenders, was 1.28 percent in April through June, up 13 basis points from the same time last year.

The ratio captures the share of farm loans that are at least 90 days past due, or those loans which no longer accrue interest because of repayment doubts. Reuters says commodity prices have been hurt over the past year by a U.S.-China trade war that’s led to higher Chinese tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports, including soybeans.

Outcomes from the inaugural American Lamb Summit were clear: all segments of the industry need to further improve lamb quality to keep and attract new customers and become more efficient to recapture market share from imported lamb. Yet, it was just as clear that production technologies and product research put industry success within grasp.
“I have never been so enthusiastic about our industry’s opportunities, but we just can’t allow ourselves to be complacent or accept status quo,” said Dale Thorne, American Lamb Board chairman, a sheep producer and feeder from Michigan. Thorne stressed, “the end-game is profitability for all aspects of our industry.”
The Summit, sponsored by the American Lamb Board (ALB) and Premier 1 Supplies, brought together 200 sheep producers, feeders and packers from all over the country to Colorado State University (CSU) in Ft. Collins, CO, August 27-28, 2019.
The conference included in-depth, challenging discussions ranging from consumer expectations, business management tools, realistic production practices to improve productivity and American Lamb quality and consistency, to assessing lamb carcasses. Sessions were carefully planned so that attendees would gain tools for immediate implementation.
“We can’t keep saying ‘I’ll think about;’ we have to realize that change is required for industry profitability,” Thorne emphasized.
The Lamb Checkoff Facebook page features summary videos from the sessions and additional resources. The Lamb Resource Center is the hub for all Lamb Summit information, as it becomes available.
Consumers redefine quality

“Consumers are ours to win or lose,” said Michael Uetz, managing principal of Midan Marketing. His extensive research with meat consumers shows that the definition of quality now goes beyond product characteristics, especially for Millennials and Generation Z’s. “It now includes how the animal was raised, what it was fed, or not fed, impact on sustainability and influence on human health,” Uetz said.
“Your power is in your story. You have a great one to tell about American Lamb,” he advised.
Lamb production tools
Increasing flock productivity, using genetic selection, and collecting then using production and financial data were stressed as critical steps for on-farm improvements. “The best way to improve productivity is to increase the number of lambs per ewe,” said Reid Redden, PhD, sheep and goat specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. “Pregnancy testing your ewes should be part of a producer’s routine. Not only can open ewes be culled, but ewes can be segmented for the number of lambs they are carrying for better allocation of feed,” he said.
While genetic selection is now common in beef, pork and both Australian and New Zealand sheep, the American Lamb industry’s slow adoption is hindering flock improvement and giving competition a definite advantage, said Rusty Burgett, Program Director, National Sheep Improvement Program. The cattle industry offers an example with how it uses EPDs (expected progeny differences) to select for traits. “We can do the same with our tools, but we must get more sheep enrolled into the program,” said Tom Boyer, Utah sheep producer.
Carcass and meat quality
Understanding what leads to quality American Lamb on the plate means looking beyond the live animal to carcass quality, stressed Lamb Summit speakers involved in processing and foodservice.
Individual animal traceability is ultimately what is required to give consumers the transparency they are demanding, said Henry Zerby, PhD, Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Co-op, Inc. A lamb producer himself, Zerby was straight-forward to the Summit participants: “Being able to track animals individually to know if they were ever given antibiotics, how they were raised, through the packer is on the horizon. We need to realize and prepare for that.” US lamb processors are implementing systems at various levels and offer programs for sheep producers.
Lamb flavor has been an industry topic for decades. Dale Woerner, PhD, Texas Tech University meat scientist, has been conducting research funded by ALB. He explained that flavor is a very complex topic, influenced by characteristics such as texture, aroma, cooking and handling of the product, and even emotional experience. “Lamb has more than one flavor profile, affected by feeding and other practices,” he explained. Summit participants tasted four different lamb samples, which illustrated Woerner’s points about various preferences and profiles.
“By sorting carcasses or cuts into flavor profile groups, we can direct that product to the best market,” he said. The American Lamb Board is currently in the final phase of lamb flavor research with Texas Tech University and Colorado State University identifying consumer preference of American Lamb and identifying those flavor profiles in the processing plant.
What’s next
 
The Summit was designed to instill relevant, meaningful knowledge that can be implemented immediately to address both current and future needs. It also sought to inspire collaboration, networking and information sharing across all segments and geographic regions of the American Lamb industry.
“If we work together to implement progressive production changes throughout our supply chain, we can regain market share from imported product and supply our country with more great-tasting American Lamb,” concluded ALB Chairman Thorne. ALB hopes that attendees left the Summit with multiple ideas to do just that.

Negotiators from the United States and China will meet face-to-face next month. Chinese officials told reporters Thursday the agreement was reached in a phone conversation this week.

China’s Vice Premier visited over the phone Thursday morning with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Following the call, China announced negotiators plan to travel to Washington next month for high-level talks, and will continue consultations through September ahead of the meeting in October.

The announcement from China comes as President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office this week that China wants to reach a deal with the United States. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has yet to confirm the planned October meeting, but did say discussions will take place in the coming weeks.

The tit-for-tat trade war with China has dropped U.S. ag exports to China from more than $20 billion in 2017, to $9 billion last year. A breakthrough in negotiations would be welcome news for agriculture.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue said Tuesday that the split Congress has the votes to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement.

“It would give us a great step forward,” Donohue told CNBC, adding that Congress has “enough votes to do it right now.”

Donohue told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on July 25 that the USMCA would be “fixed by the September timeframe” and would have Democrats on board.

“There’s very good spirit between the people that are doing it because this is an unbelievable agreement,” Donohue said, adding that “it’s $4 billion a day of trade between the United States and Canada and Mexico – they are our largest trading partners.”

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse is also putting pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

A few weeks earlier, White House adviser Marc Short told FOX Business that he is optimistic the deal will come together.

“We think that it has the votes,” Short told Maria Bartiromo on July 11. “The reality is that there are 31 congressional Democrats residing in districts that Donald Trump won in 2016. But more importantly, those are districts that create an enormous number of manufacturing jobs in the auto industry or agriculture jobs because we’ve now provided … additional access to dairy farms in Wisconsin, in Minnesota.”

Both chambers of Congress will be back in session in September after the August recess.

Ironically, Mexico ratified the deal in June, while the U.S. Congress has not passed the agreement that President Trump has often touted.

“It means foreign investment in Mexico, it means jobs in Mexico, it means guaranteeing trade of the merchandise that we produce in the United States,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at the time of ratification.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Farm Bureau published a video of farmers touting the USMCA to the tune of the hit song “YMCA” on Aug. 30.

“Nancy, we know you’re the woman who can get this deal through Congress,” the farmers chant.

HAYSVILLE, Kan. — More than 60 law enforcement officials from across Kansas packed a small room at the John C. Pair Horticultural Center recently to prep themselves for questions they may soon be getting about industrial hemp in the state.

Kansas State University researchers are growing and testing their first crops of industrial hemp at research centers in Haysville, Olathe and Colby. As an industrial product, hemp can be grown for grain, fiber or CBD (cannabidiol) oil.

“We are on the research side, but these people are on the enforcement side,” said Jason Griffin, director of the John C. Pair Horticulture Center. “They’re going to encounter this crop in their daily business, and we want to make sure that they are armed with as much information as possible.”

In April 2018, the Kansas Department of Agriculture approved the production of hemp through the Alternative Crop Research Act, and officials from that agency have been conducting education on hemp since that time.

“We’ve physically reached out to 1,400 individuals already,” said Braden Hoch, an industrial hemp specialist with KDA. “With this being a new crop in Kansas, there is a lot of education and outreach needed from all sides.”

Hoch noted that law enforcement will be tasked with knowing the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana – which is not a legal product in Kansas. The recent workshop also helped to educate law enforcement officials on related products, such as CBD, which Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer essentially legalized in 2018 by exempting it from the definition of marijuana.

New rules and regulations will require those who work with hemp to be licensed in order to transport the product.

“This educational event is going to be a building block for those in law enforcement to understand the legitimacy of this crop in Kansas, once we develop some information about how it grows and making it into an industrial hemp product,” Hoch said.

“It’s helping them to answer the question, ‘what should I be looking for to ensure that someone is conducting activities that they’re legally allowed to conduct?’”

K-State’s Griffin led tours of the university’s Haysville research plots and high tunnels to show law enforcement officials what an industrial hemp farm looks like, including comparing differences between a grain plot and a CBD plot. “We had a lot of great questions back and forth,” he said.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has established the Industrial Hemp Research Program website to help provide clarity on new rules and regulations in the state.