China falls to third place as U.S. ag export market, USDA says

U.S. food and ag exports to China will fall by $6 billion this fiscal year in the biggest slump in sales since the Sino-U.S. trade war, forecast the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. Mexico and Canada will surpass China as the top customers, while the agricultural trade deficit will widen to $32 billion.

Higher commodity prices soften farm income decline, say banks

Springtime increases in corn, soybean, and wheat prices brightened the outlook for the agricultural sector amid expectations of lower farm income this year than in 2023, said Federal Reserve regional banks in the Beige Book report on Wednesday. The Chicago and Dallas banks said the discovery of bird flu in dairy cattle was a cause for concern.

Bird flu hits large Iowa egg farm

Bird flu was confirmed at an egg farm with 4.2 million hens in Sioux County in northwestern Iowa, the first outbreak in the state this year, said agriculture officials. The Sioux County farm is one of the largest egg farms in Iowa, the No. 1 egg-producing state.

Today’s quick hits, May 30, 2024

Prices and rural shoppers: Price is the most important issue for U.S. grocery shoppers overall, though more rural shoppers (44 percent) than urban shoppers (31 percent) consider it the top factor. (Purdue Center for Food Demand Analysis) Judge denies cow-calf bid: A federal judge in Minnesota …

Idaho alpacas are first in the world to be infected with bird flu

Four alpacas in a small Idaho herd were infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus —  the first known infection of alpacas in the world, said the Agriculture Department on Tuesday. The alpacas were on the same backyard farm that culled its poultry earlier this month due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Feed ingredient that reduces methane from dairy cows is approved for U.S. sale

With FDA approval in hand, Elanco Animal Health said on Tuesday it will sell throughout North America its feed ingredient that reduces methane emissions from lactating dairy cows by 30 percent, with sales beginning in the third quarter of the year. Farmers could use carbon contracts to offset the cost of the ingredient, "a few cents a gallon of milk," the company said.

Today’s quick hits, May 29, 2024

The Netherlands plans poultry vaccination: Dutch authorities reported “a very important step” toward their plan for large-scale vaccination of the country’s poultry flocks with the successful test of two bird flu vaccines on newly hatched chicks; additional tests are planned …

H5N1 virus particles found in meat from dairy cow

Meat from a dairy cow sent to slaughter contained particles of the H5N1 avian influenza virus — the first such finding since the virus jumped to cattle from birds a few months ago, said the Agriculture Department. The USDA also confirmed infections in five additional herds — three in South Dakota and two in Colorado — raising the U.S. total to 63 herds in nine states.

Solar and wind farms generate controversy but occupy a sliver of rural land

Local governments have imposed at least 2,600 restrictions on wind and solar power projects in their jurisdictions, with local opposition seeming to rise with the size of the project, said a USDA report on wind and solar development in rural areas. Wind and solar projects had a combined footprint of 423,974 acres in 2020, or 0.05 percent of the nation's 870 million acres of farmland, said the four economists who wrote the report.

Today’s quick hits, May 28, 2024

Mexican cartels target tortillas: Criminal cartels are expanding their operations to include extorting the storefront shops that make tortillas, a staple of the Mexican diet, says a trade group. (Washington Post) Tight supplies boost beef: Beef and veal prices, which have risen faster than all …

GOP powers House committee passage of farm bill with $53 billion in new ag spending

The Republican-controlled House Agriculture Committee, with four Democratic crossovers, approved a farm bill early Friday that increases crop subsidy and crop insurance spending by one-third, cuts SNAP by $30 billion, and repudiates a Biden administration initiative on climate mitigation. Democrats said the bill has no chance of becoming law and might not survive a vote on the House floor because it lacks bipartisan support. (No paywall)

Today’s quick hits, May 24, 2024

Bird flu in 58 herds: The H5N1 bird flu virus has been confirmed in six additional dairy herds, raising the U.S. total to 58 infected herds. Michigan has the most, 19, an increase of four. (USDA) Funding for domestic fertilizer: The USDA announced $83 million for projects in 12 states to expand …

Dairy worker in Michigan has bird flu in second case of cow-to-human infection

A worker on a Michigan dairy farm contracted a mild case of H5 bird flu from infected cattle — the second cow-to-human infection since bird flu was first identified in dairy cattle in late March — said the Centers for Disease Control on Wednesday. The risk to the public remains low, said Nirav Shah, the CDC’s principal deputy director.

GOP uses ‘counterfeit money’ to pay for farm bill, says Vilsack

House Republicans are building unrealistic expectations in farm country by relying on “counterfeit money” to pay for a $50 billion expansion of crop subsidies and crop insurance in the new farm bill, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. The House Agriculture Committee was expected to approve Chairman Glenn Thompson’s proposed bill on Thursday in a vote that would split along party lines.

Today’s quick hits, May 23, 2024

Chavez-DeRemer opponent set: Democrats in western Oregon nominated state Rep. Janelle Bynum to oppose first-term Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, a Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee. Bynum defeated Chavez-DeRemer in legislative races in 2016 and 2018. (Sabato’s Crystal Ball) …

Critics say House farm bill would pay out every year for Southern crops

Crop supports would be set so high in the farm bill written by House Republicans that cotton, peanut, and rice growers, and probably wheat and sorghum farmers too, "would receive a payment every year," said an environmental group on Tuesday. Farm groups called for Agriculture Committee passage of the bill later this week despite questions about the financial underpinnings of the five-year legislation.

USDA launches Summer EBT benefit for school children as ‘SUN Bucks’

The Biden administration launched its package of summer school meals programs, including the new summer EBT benefit, under the name of SUN Programs on Tuesday. SUN Bucks, the EBT program, was expected to help low-income families buy groceries for 21 million school-age children during the summer at a projected cost of $2.5 billion.

Today’s quick hits, May 22, 2024

David Scott wins primary: Georgia Rep. David Scott, 78, the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, took 58 percent of the vote against six challengers in a suburban Atlanta district to win the nomination for his 12th term in the House. (New York Times) H5N1 virus in 51 dairy herds: …

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