Weekly AgNews – May 31, 2017

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Leaders of Senate Agriculture Committee Say No to Farm Bill Cuts

Two days after President Trump proposed large cuts in food stamps and farm supports, the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee spoke out against funding cuts as the panel prepares to write the 2018 farm bill. Committee chair Republican Pat Roberts, took aim at reduced farm supports, particularly crop insurance, saying “Now is not the time for additional cuts.” The panel’s senior Democrat, Debbie Stabenow, opposed proposed cuts in rural development and public nutrition as well.

“The proposal cuts $231 billion from farm bill programs, which would make a five-year farm bill virtually impossible to pass,” said Stabenow. The administration proposed cuts 10 times larger than those written into the 2014 farm law.

The fiscal 2018 budget proposed by the White House would cut food stamps by $193 billion, or 25%, over 10 years, and crop insurance by $29 billion. It would also downsize land stewardship initiatives and eliminate many rural development programs.  

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Budget Proposal ‘Will Kill Crop Insurance’, Says Insurance Expert

For farmers who like crop insurance, the outlook could be getting worse.

Two years ago, then President Barack Obama unveiled plans in his budget to trim subsidies for the harvest price option of revenue protection. That was the biggest part of a projected savings of about $18 billion over 10 years. At the time it was pronounced “dead on arrival” by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts of Kansas.

This week, President Donald Trump’s budget for the 2018 federal fiscal year that starts next October has an even bigger haircut of $29 billion over a decade. That would be accomplished by eliminating harvest price coverage altogether in revenue protection and by capping premium subsidies at $40,000 per farmer. This time, Roberts and House Agriculture Committee chair Mike Conaway of Texas didn’t call the budget dead. Instead, they promised to “fight to ensure farmers have a strong safety net” in the next Farm Bill in a joint statement released Tuesday.

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A Chinese Company is Offering Free Training for US Coal Miners to Become Wind Farmers

If you want to truly understand what’s happening in the energy industry, the best thing to do is to travel deep into the heart of American coal country, to Carbon County, Wyoming (yes, that’s a real place).

The state produces most coal in the US, and Carbon County has long been known (and was named) for its extensive coal deposits. But the state’s mines have been shuttering over the past few years, causing hundreds of people to lose their jobs in 2016 alone. Now, these coal miners are finding hope, offered from an unlikely place: a Chinese wind-turbine maker wants to retrain these American workers to become wind-farm technicians. It’s the perfect metaphor for the massive shift happening in the global energy markets.

The news comes from an energy conference in Wyoming, where the American arm of Goldwind, a Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer, announced the free training program. More than a century ago, Carbon County was home to the first coal mine in Wyoming. Soon, it will be the site of a new wind farm with hundreds of Goldwind-supplied turbines.

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U.S. Corn Planting Nears Average Pace, USDA Says

DES MOINES, Iowa — The U.S. corn planting pace is getting back on track with its average pace, while soybean plantings moves over the halfway point, according to the USDA’s Weekly Crop Progress Report.

CORN

As of Sunday, 84% of the U.S. corn crop had been put into the ground vs. a 85% five-year average and a trade expectation of 85%, according to Monday’s report.

USDA pegged corn emergence at 54% vs. a 55% five-year average.

Illinois and Indiana corn farmers are now behind their five-year average by 1% and 2% respectively. Iowa is 2% ahead of their five-year average.

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Deal Dissolved, Moving Forward

The news earlier in May was a surprise to many. Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto, announced it was terminating its agreement to sell Precision Planting to John Deere. It caught John Deere by surprise, so why did Monsanto decide to walk away from the deal, and what happens next? Penton Ag talked with two key players in this process to gain insight.

Mike Stern, CEO, Climate Corp., makes a couple things clear up front. Monsanto walked away from the agreement, but the move had nothing to do with the Bayer-Monsanto acquisition. Originally John Deere and Monsanto entered into the agreement 18 months ago, but during the process the Department of Justice filed suit against the deal.

Said Stern: “We were working diligently with Deere on that case, but it became clear to us in 2017 that we were not seeing increased clarity or a path forward that the DOJ would approve the deal.”

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Napa Grape Growers Will Vote to Extend Assessment for Farmworker Housing

Napa County grape growers owning an acre or more of vineyards will soon be voting-by-mail on whether to continue a farmworker housing assessment for another five years.

The existing, annual $10-per-acre assessment on 45,000 acres of grapes raises about $450,000 each year. This money helps run three farmworker housing centers at various locations in Napa Valley. Lodgers pay $13 a night for rent.

But the assessment expires on June 30. The proposed five-year renewal would keep the assessment in place at $10-an-acre through the remainder of the year, with possible increases in the years beyond.

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China Pushes Public to Accept GMO as Syngenta Takeover Nears

China will carry out a nationwide poll next month to test the public’s acceptance of genetically-modified food, a technology the government says would boost yields and sustainable agriculture in a country that’s seen consumption soar.

Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University and two other Chinese colleges will carry out the survey, said Jin Jianbin, a professor at Tsinghua’s School of Journalism and Communication. The poll, sponsored by the government, will be carried out in tandem with a campaign on social media to broadcast basic knowledge on GMO technology, which is widely misunderstood in the country, Jin said.

China is the world’s fourth-largest grower of GMO cotton and the top importer of soybeans, most of which are genetically modified and used for cooking oil and animal feed for pigs and chickens. But public concern over food safety issues and skepticism about the effects of consuming GMO foods have made the government reluctant to introduce the technology for staple crops.

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Maryland Joins California in Battling Antibiotic Overuse on Farms

LOS ANGELES, May 30 (Reuters) – Maryland has become the second U.S. state to pass a law banning the routine use of antibiotics in healthy livestock and poultry, a move aimed at battling the rise of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as “superbugs.”

Maryland’s Keep Antibiotics Effective Act, which aims to end a practice that public health experts say can fuel the spread of superbugs, takes effect on Oct. 1 after Governor Larry Hogan declined to sign or veto it last week. Farmers in Maryland have until Jan. 1, 2018, to comply with the law.

Roughly 70 percent of antibiotics important for human medicine are sold in the United States for use in meat and dairy production. Medical researchers say overuse of such drugs diminishes their effectiveness in fighting disease in humans by contributing to antibiotic resistance.

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ASFMRA Northeast Chapter: Tours, Education & More 

The Northeast Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers put on a great educational offering on May 8-10 in Keene, New Hampshire.  The event was comprised of a Modern Collateral Valuation Considerations seminar, Highest and Best Use seminar, along with a tour of a few specialized agricultural properties organized by YPN member, Robert Guay.  The tour included a large maple syrup product processing and distribution facility, an on-farm creamery with associated cheese aging facility, and a poultry research and development facility.  After the tour, the YPN group met for a happy hour at Lab N’ Lager in downtown Keene, New Hampshire.  The event was sponsored by a grant from Monsanto.  Approximately 15 members were in attendance to learn about YPN and also to network.  Joshua Garretson, ARA spoke about ASFMRA and what the YPN group is doing.  He also invited everyone to the upcoming YPN events at Summer Education Week and the ASFMRA Annual meeting in Savannah.  The group also celebrated three appraisal members who have become certified general appraisers within the past year.  They were Nate Goddard, Ben Hillis, and Shawn Knauff.  All of the members were encouraged to work towards a designation in the future.  The evening consisted of everyone getting to know each other better and learning more about YPN and ASFMRA.  A special guest appearance was also made by ASFMRA Executive Vice President/CEO Brian Stockman!  Everyone had a great time and is looking forward to other chapter YPN events in the future!  The Northeast chapter would like to thank Monsanto for the grant which made this great event possible!