Conservation reserve program is ‘competitive’ this year, despite lower rental rates

Despite lower rental rates, enrollment in the land-idling Conservation Reserve Program is "competitive" this year, a USDA official said at a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. The 2018 farm bill raised the cap on the number of acres to be enrolled in the CRP from 24 million to 27 million, and Congress reduced the rates paid to farmers to fund the expansion.

DOJ probes Dean Foods/Dairy Farmers of America proposed merger

The Department of Justice is looking into the potential antitrust implications of a proposed deal between bankrupt milk processor Dean Foods and the giant dairy cooperative Dairy Farmers of America (DFA). According to a Monday report in the Wall Street Journal, the department is investigating …

Today’s quick hits, Jan. 29, 2020

Along the river, early flood threats (WPR): Ice jams forming along the Mississippi River threaten to flood parts of Wisconsin, as wet conditions and high water persist in the region. Big meat deal (Meat + Poultry): The Brazilian beef company JBS penned a deal with China’s dominant pork …

White House ‘public charge’ rule cleared for now by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Trump administration can enforce its new “public charge” immigration rule while challenges work their way through the judicial system. The new rule makes it easier to deny immigrants residency or entry to the United States, if they are likely to receive …

Will total U.S. ag exports rise if China buys more?

Without a doubt, the best outcome from the "phase one" agreement with China "is the possibility of U.S. exports to China returning to pre-trade war levels," says economist Dave Widmar. But it's not clear how larger sales to China would affect overall U.S. ag exports, which are forecast at $139 billion this year and have varied from a low of roughly $130 billion to a record-high $152 billion over the past several years.

Today’s quick hits, Jan. 28, 2020

USDA approves hemp plans in three more states (AMS): The USDA approved plans submitted by Delaware, Nebraska and Texas to regulate cultivation of industrial hemp, adding to previously approved plans from Louisiana, New Jersey and Ohio. House backs SNAP lawsuit (Pelosi): The Democratic-run U.S. …

Across the country, a call grows for moratoriums on huge livestock farms

As the number of massive livestock farms balloons in states like Iowa, Maryland, and Nebraska, communities are scrambling to figure out how to control the pollution and waste produced by thousands — or tens of thousands — of animals. In some places, officials have opted to ban the mega-farms altogether, and the idea of a moratorium on the biggest animal farms is gaining support in local governments, statehouses, and even in Congress. (No paywall)

Trump plan lowers quality of school meals, say former ag secretaries

With nearly one in five American youths suffering obesity, schools should provide optimal nutrition in the meals served daily to 29.5 million students a day, said former agriculture secretaries Ann Veneman and Dan Glickman. The co-chairs of a prevention initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Veneman and Glickman said the Trump administration proposals announced last week "would reduce the nutritional quality of foods served to children in both school breakfast and lunch programs."

Biggest rise in restaurant and takeaway food prices in a decade

Although U.S. food prices generally show small increases from year to year, the USDA says prices for "food away from home," a category that includes restaurants, carry-out food and institutional meals, rose 3.1 percent in 2019. That's the largest increase since 3.5 percent in 2009 and is part of a pattern in which the price of food away from home rises more rapidly than retail prices for groceries.

Today’s quick hits, Jan. 27, 2020

Wisconsin governor proposes rural package (Associated Press): After calling a special legislative session for this week, Gov. Tony Evers detailed an $8.5-million package of bills to help rural Wisconsin, which has lost a third of its dairy farms since 2011. Western monarch butterfly at historic …