Saturday, October 31, 2015

Agricultural News Monthly for November 1, 2015

How Conventional Farmers Make the Transition to Organic - Capital Press, 10/15/15
"Demand for organic food is booming with no sign of slowing, opening the door for farmers to take advantage of higher prices for organically grown crops. Getting certified, however, takes three years and a steep learning curve."

Farmland Prices Fall, Ag Machinery Sales Hit New Low - Agrimoney, 10/16/15
"The agriculture downturn has dragged US farmland prices lower for a 23rd successive month, and taken sales at farm equipment dealers to historically low levels – and with little hope of improvement for now."

Consumer Price Index for Food - USDA, 10/23/15
"The most notable annual inflation in 2014 was seen in those foods located on the perimeter of the grocery store—retail beef and veal, pork, eggs, fish and seafood, dairy, and fresh fruit all experienced above-average price increases. ... Egg prices are expected to rise from 12.5 to 13.5 percent due to the effect of bird flu on table-egg-laying flocks in 2015."

To Save Money, Some States Give Up on Repairing Rural Roads -  AP, 10/26/15
In Iowa, urban areas are getting priority over rural areas for roads projects, which is inconvenient for rural farmers and commuters.

Nitrates, a Costly, Persistent Problem for Small Towns - Harvest Public Media, 10/27/15
"Hundreds of small towns in the Midwest have nitrate levels near or over federal limits for nitrate. From Burlington, Colorado; to Churdan, Iowa; to Pretty Prairie, Kansas; and Edgar, Nebraska, small towns often struggle with the bill for clean water."

A Bad Bet on Synthetic Biology - Project Syndicate, 10/23/15
"Ingredients that are being replaced or are likely to be exchanged for products made through synthetic biology include vanilla, saffron, coconut oil, patchouli, olive squalene, and rose oil. Indeed, the world’s largest cosmetics, flavor, and fragrance companies are hoping that synthetic biology will help them replace more than 200 natural botanical extracts."

Farm income sets new record in San Joaquin County - Modesto Bee, 10/23/15
"San Joaquin County this week reported a record $3.24 billion in gross farm income in 2014, thanks mainly to high prices last year for almonds, walnuts and milk."

Boulder County company sees first hemp harvest for use in 'cannaceuticals' - Times Call, 10/23/15
"More than 3,500 acres of hemp grown in Colorado this year. Boulder-based CBDRx harvested 50,000 pounds of hemp this year, and for the first time, the majority of plants aren't headed to builders or fabric makers. Instead, they will find their way to clients infusing their products with oil containing the non-psychoactive chemical compound cannabidiol (CBD), revered for its supposed pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory powers."

Serenbe, a Farm to Table Community Near Atlanta - The Dirt, 10/22/15
"I had initially decided we would be self-sustainable in five years. It was self-sustainable in three years. We set 25 acres aside and about half of that is under active cultivation, with cover crops on the other half. The farm supplies our three restaurants. We have a great CSA program for people outside Serenbe. There’s a farmer’s market on Saturdays. We have a farmer hired on a base salary, and then they get a profit based on what they make. We have an intern house with four interns. The farmer makes a very nice salary and it’s profitable, and educational. So we’re growing farmers as well as crops."

Terrace Farming – an Ancient Indigenous Model for Food Security - IPS, 10/21/15
"Terrace farming as practiced from time immemorial by native peoples in the Andes mountains contributes to food security as a strategy of adaptation in an environment where the geography and other conditions make the production of nutritional foods a complex undertaking."

New Food and Agriculture Fund Launches With $125 Million - WSJ, 10/20/15
"the firm is looking specifically at “soil to shelf” businesses within food and agriculture, or companies that help deliver what consumers and corporations increasingly demand of the food system: good nutrition, organic products, food that is produced locally, and absolute transparency and authenticity in whatever they buy and eat."

Poultry conference promotes heritage poultry breeds - Farm and Dairy, 10/13/15
"Poultry producers met at the Amish Door in Wilmot, Ohio, Oct. 5-7 to discuss topics of breeding, flock management and challenges with raising heritage breeds. Producers of all sizes — from the backyard enthusiast with six hens to the producers with a few hundred birds — came together from across the nation to share their success stories and challenges and to learn from industry experts."

DuPont and Other Biotech Giants Using CRISPR Gene Editing - Technology Review, 10/8/15
"Agricultural biotech giants are starting to make moves into CRISPR gene editing, saying they’ll be selling seeds engineered with the technology by the end of this decade. ... DuPont is testing CRISPR to make drought-resistant corn as well as wheat genetically altered so it will breed like a hybrid, rather than self-pollinate as it typically does. Hybrid plants are vigorous, and yields can jump by 10 or 15 percent."

Syngenta Enogen Corn Expands to 16 Ethanol Plants, 1 Billion Gallons - Biofuels Journal, 10/6/15
"Enogen® corn enzyme technology is an exclusive in-seed innovation from Syngenta and the industry’s first and only biotech corn designed specifically to enhance ethanol production."

TPP trade deal could expand agricultural exports - Harvest Public Media, 10/5/15
"The TPP is expected to give U.S. farmers easier access to markets in countries like Japan and Australia by reducing tariffs on products like beef and rice."

Carbon Is the Root of a New, Sustainable Agricultural System - The Dirt, 10/6/15
"Instead of treating carbon dioxide emissions as a waste product that needs to be reduced, it can instead fuel our food production. We can mimic the functions of prairie ecosystems to store all of that excess CO2 and create a more sustainable food production system."

Sugar Beet Growers in Trouble Over GMO Crops - Reuters, 10/29/15
"America's sugar beet growers are under siege as U.S. food companies increasingly shun genetically modified (GMO) crops. In the past seven years, the farmers – many in Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan, and Idaho – have all switched to GMO seeds created by Monsanto Co and sold by others as they seek to increase yields and cut costs."

Biannual Food Outlook Report on Global Food Markets (PDF)- FAO, OCT 2015
The price of feeding the world is falling, but will it continue?

Orchards Outperform Cropland- Agrimoney, 10/21/15
"Ncreiff said total annual farmland returns ran at 12.74% over the last year, comprising an income return of 8.08% with a price appreciation of 4.42%."

Your organic cotton tee-shirt probably poisoned a river in Asia - Seattle Globalist, 10/8/15
"We tend to be blissfully unaware of the myriad health problems attributed to the textile dyeing process, as most of our clothing is not from around here. Yet somewhere in India, a river runs fluorescent pink. Or electric blue, or tangerine orange."

Farmers increasing cover-crop use - Agri-View, 10/28/15
"Cover crops are growing in popularity by leaps and bounds among farmers. A recent survey of more than 1,200 growers throughout the United States showed cover crops boosted corn yields in 2014 by an average of 3.66 bushels per acre, or 2.1 percent, and soybean yields by 2.19 bushels or 4.2 percent."

Limits on speculators' grain positions 'simply too high' - Agrimoney, 10/19/15
"And grain markets will see rising volatility, fuelled by the growing prevalance of investors who trade multiple asset classes – shares and bonds as well as commodities – further linking price moves in such markets, and meaning that ag values move in ways "which have nothing to do with supply and demand."

Land Grabbing is Accelerating as Pressure on Agriculture Grows - e360, 10/9/15
"An area about the size of Japan — roughly 140,000 square miles — has been purchased or leased by foreign entities for agricultural use during the last 15 years, according to a report by the Worldwatch Institute. An additional 58,000 square miles are under negotiation, the report found."

Photo note:
Our son, who is wwoofing on an organic farm on Maui took the above photo. Do you know what it is? It's coffee beans on a drying rack.--k.m.

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