Ag sector ‘uncertainty’ pulls down sales for world’s largest farm equipment maker

Farmers are sitting on their checkbooks instead of buying new equipment because of the Sino-U.S. trade war and planting delays in the United States, said the chief executive of Deere and Co., the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. Deere, which also makes construction and logging equipment, said overall sales fell 3 percent during May, June and July, led by a 6- percent drop in agriculture and turf, its largest division.

Highly educated urbanites head back to the land

The great majority farmers under the age of 35 hold a college degree, significantly higher than the U.S. average. It is a cohort that "is already contributing to the growth of the local-food movement and could help preserve the place of midsize farms in the rural landscape," says the Washington Post. It cites the 2012 Census of Agriculture as saying the number of farmers under the age of 35 is increasing for only the second time in a generation.

Biggest farm equipment maker also is a large farm lender

"Nothing runs like a Deere," according to an old tagline for the world's largest farm equipment maker, and nothing lends like a Deere, either, says the Wall Street Journal. The company, which lends billions of dollars to farmers who buy its equipment, "is providing more short-term credit for crop supplies such as seeds, chemicals and fertilizer, making it the No. 5 agricultural lender."

Farmers want open-source farm equipment

Farmers are calling for free access to the software that runs their tractors and other farm equipment. "You're paying for the metal but the electronic parts technically you don't own it. They do," says Kyle Schwarting, a farmer in southeast Nebraska.

After 92 years in Peoria, Caterpillar will move headquarters to Chicago

The company synonymous with Peoria, Ill., Caterpillar, will move its global headquarters to Chicago because it is closer to the global marketplace for the world's largest manufacturer of earth-moving equipment, says the Peoria Journal Star. Caterpillar was founded in Peoria, in central Illinois, in 1925 and has been the dominant employer.

Cleber perseveres despite Cuba’s rejection of factory site

Saul Berenthal, a co-founder of the company that hoped to assemble farm tractors in Cuba, told the Miami Herald, "We're not giving up," after Cuba rejected the proposal. Interviewed at the Cleber tractor booth at a trade show in Havana, Berenthal said the Paint Rock, AL, company will build its tractors in the United States and try to export them to Cuba and other countries.

Plowing through competitors, a tractor-hailing app in India

When they need to rent a tractor, small farmers in India typically have to rely on local owners, who may be arbitrary in their fees and cavalier in their treatment of their customers. A major Indian vehicle manufacturer offers the agricultural version of Uber or Lyft — a smartphone app to specify when they need a tractor and for what chores, says the New York Times.

Blasting weeds with air-powered farm residue

A USDA agronomist in Minnesota has invented an air-powered device that shoots out farm residues — "from seed meals to nut shells, fruit pits, and corn cob grits" — at weeds and pulverizes them while leaving corn shoots standing tall, reports Modern Farmer. Dried chicken manure is a current favorite to target the pesky plants. “We can weed and feed at the same time,” Frank Forcella told the magazine.

Cuba wants to expand food production, and get financing from U.S. on food imports

Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero told a U.S. audience that Cuba wants to expand farm output dramatically, in part to feed the increasing stream of tourists to the island. The country now imports $2 billion in food annually "but we want to produce at least 50 percent," Rodriguez said at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during a visit to Washington and Iowa, reported Agencia EFE.

Build it yourself, a pedal-powered farm tractor

The pedal-driven Bicitractor is "a green, silent, healthy alternative" for small vegetable farms that can't afford, or don't want, a conventional tractor, says Makezine. "Created by farmers for farmers, it performs a variety of agricultural tasks, working the soil to a maximum depth of 5 cm, which is popular with the no-till farming movement.