China faces widespread soil pollution from plastic mulch

To boost food production, China has spread polyethylene film across 49 million acres — 12 percent of the country’s total farmland — despite warnings that the synthetic mulch is toxic and degrades the soil.

American farmers react as trade tensions flare

Once again, farmer groups expressed concern over the heated rhetoric coming out of the White House over trade agreements. The American Soybean Association and U.S. wheat groups were especially critical as a result of indications that the White House would withdraw from the free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea as early as Tuesday.

With phytosanitary agreement, U.S. nears rice exports to China

The United States is on the cusp of exporting rice to China for the first time, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, following a Sino-U.S. agreement on a protocol to prevent the introduction of rice pests into China. The trade group USA Rice said the agreement was "a tremendous leap" forward after a decade of work by the industry and USDA for access to the world's largest rice consuming nation.

Alabama has case of mad cow disease

An 11-year-old cow, intercepted at a livestock market in Alabama, is the fifth U.S. case of mad cow disease, the brain-wasting fatal disease found generally in older cattle, said the USDA. "This finding ... should not lead to any trade issues," said USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, because it was the "atypical" type that seems to occur spontaneously.

Climate change will be harder than expected on farming, says study

Governments are likely underestimating the risks of climate change to agriculture, especially in the event of simultaneous extreme weather events in key areas, say researchers from the U.K.’s Met office. Using 1,400 climate model simulations, the researchers discovered that the probability of severe drought was greater than if judged solely from observations.

For second time in a month, China approves U.S. GMO crop for import

China, the top customer for U.S. farm exports, is delivering on a promise to speed up review of import applications, part of the two nations' 100-day timetable for resolving trade issues. Its Agriculture Ministry approved import of an insect-resistant GMO corn strain by Syngenta and a glyphosate-tolerant GMO corn variety by Monsanto, the second time in a month that U.S. biotech strains have been cleared for import, said Reuters.

G20 countries disturbed by U.S. stance on climate change

The U.S. stood alone at the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, as all the other countries, including China and the European Union, called on the Trump administration to address climate change.

Global rebound in cotton production to flatten prices

Two years ago, world cotton production was the lowest in 13 years, due to smaller plantings and plunging yields. This year, the world will produce 14 percent more cotton than in 2017 for a harvest of 24.6 million tons that will drive down the season-average cotton price by 13 cents a pound, says the International Cotton Advisory Committee.

Where’s the U.S. beef? In China and with China.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will celebrate the reopening of the Chinese market to U.S. beef on Friday at the same time the Trump administration is considering trade action against Beijing. The first shipment of U.S. beef arrived in China on June 19 following a 13-year absence from that market.

In population leapfrog, India to top China, Nigeria to hurdle U.S.

The most populous nation in Africa, Nigeria, with 191 million people today, will easily pass the United States to become the world’s third most populous nation by mid-century, says the UN Population Division in a biennial global population forecast. In a much shorter time span—just seven years—India will become the most populous nation on Earth, displacing China.