Montana Senator helps Chinese win $200-million sweetheart deal for cattle

During President Donald Trump’s recent trip to China, Montana's Republican Senator Steve Daines negotiated a $300 million beef cattle deal between the Montana Stockgrowers Association and the Chinese e-retailer JD.com. The deal calls for the retailer to buy $200 million of cattle between 2018 and 2020, and invest $100 million in a new feedlot and packing plant in Montana. Some ranchers are concerned that this unusual deal will favor certain ranchers over others, and further concentrate power over the American livestock sector in the hands of Chinese companies.

Climate change policies in India, China could make up for U.S. regression

Climate change is likely to be slightly less damaging thanks to policies in India and China that could offset the U.S.'s reduced environmental efforts under President Trump. “The Carbon Action Tracker (CAT) report, by three independent European research groups, said current policies meant the world was headed for a warming of 3.4 degrees Celsius (6.1 Fahrenheit) by 2100, down from 3.6 degrees (6.5) it predicted a year ago,” explained Reuters.

India emerges as No. 1 in the world for cropland

A high-resolution search by satellite found 15 to 20 percent more cropland in the world than previously thought and identified India as the world leader, says the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS says its new map, showing 1.87 billion hectares of cropland, will help "to ensure global food and water security in a sustainable way."

Greenhouse-gas emissions again on the rise

Global climate emissions are on the rise again, after staying relatively flat between 2014-2016. Researchers with the Global Carbon Project predict that emissions levels will increase anywhere from 0.8 to 3 percent in 2017, says NPR.

Congress set to pass bill to keep shark fins out of soup

A bill that would prohibit the shark fin trade nationwide is poised to pass in Congress with deep bipartisan support. Shark fin soup, considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, can bring in $100 or more for a bowl.

China makes progress on salt-tolerant rice varieties

Much of the arable land in China, the world's largest rice producer, is off-limits for growing rice because there is too much salt in the soil or in the available irrigation water. Researchers are making progress, however, on developing 200 varieties that tolerate salty water although at far lower levels than found in sea water.

ADM chief sees opportunity for U.S. ethanol in China

China's plan to move to a 10 percent blend of ethanol into its gasoline supply will be a boon for U.S. ethanol exports, said ADM chief executive Juan Luciano. Agrimoney says that Luciano told investors that China could need imports of 8 million tons a year by 2020 to satisfy the E10 target because of the nation's longer-term fuel strategy.

China jolts world corn supplies with huge appetite

The International Grains Council sharply boosted its estimate of corn consumption in China, pointing to government measures expected to drive up industrial use of the grain 14 percent during 2017/18. The shift in Chinese consumption will affect grain stockpiles worldwide, said the IGC in its monthly Grain Market Report, with the first reduction in five years in the grain "carryover" at the end of the marketing year.

Farm bill should double federal funding of agricultural research

Five dozen scientific, farm and activists groups proposed annual increases in federal funding for agricultural research to reach $6 billion over the life of the 2018 farm bill, double the amount now allotted. The groups, "involved in almost every facet of the U.S. agricultural sector," said the two-to-one return on ag research justifies the investment when competitors such as China are taking command of the field.