Diversity is destiny for agriculture’s leaders, says Merrigan

In a speech on the future of agriculture, a former USDA official forecast a fundamental shift in the demographic makeup of the food and ag sector.

Trump’s farmer bailout: half now, the rest later … maybe

President Trump's promise to protect U.S. agriculture from retaliatory tariffs by China and other countries will be paid on the installment plan — half this fall and the rest in December, or early 2018 if assistance is still needed, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Monday. The USDA announced $6.2 billion in outlays that will begin in September, with soybean growers in line for $3.6 billion of it.

Smallest farmers missing out on fair trade benefits, study says

Fair trade products have exploded in popularity over the last two decades. In 2014 more than 40 percent of all coffee was produced under one of four initiatives: Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, and 4C. But how much do these certifications, which pay farmers a premium above the …

Climate change hits malt barley, which means your beer

Summer storms and unpredictable “flash droughts” have proven a challenge to farmers who grow malt barley in Montana. As the climate has gradually warmed, a once-hospitable environment for the grain has become far more tenuous, says Ari LeVaux in FERN’s latest story, with The Weather Channel. (No paywall)

Few Trump detractors in Farm Belt at the six-month mark

Farmers voted overwhelmingly for President Trump last fall and they are ardent supporters to this day, according to a Farm Futures survey of 1,200 growers, as the president completed his sixth month in office. Some 49 percent gave Trump an "A" or a "B" grade on agriculture; only 10 percent, roughly the same portion who supported Democrat Hillary Clinton, gave him an "F."

Voluntary efforts ‘not even making modest dents in nutrient pollution’

A mandated interstate "pollution diet" intended to reduce nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay is paying off, while voluntary measures to reduce nitrogen levels in Mississippi River have failed, writes a University of Michigan professor at the site The Conversation. "From my perspective, when we compare these two approaches it is clear that voluntary measures are not even making modest dents in nutrient pollution," says professor Donald Scavia, who has worked on the issue of "dead zones" for four decades.

Nearly 1 in 5 farmers expects lower taxes — a factor in ag optimism

Farmers and ranchers say they are in a better financial situation than a year ago, according to the Ag Economy Barometer's monthly survey. The Purdue economists who oversee the barometer said farmers are markedly more optimistic than last summer, with one factor being the expectation of lower taxes in coming years.

Canada beats U.S. in pork sales to China

After almost completely removing the growth-promoting drug ractopamine from its pigs, Canada is outpacing the U.S. in pork sales to China, where the drug is banned. Canada has only beat out the U.S. in pork sales a handful of times in the last 20 years, says Reuters.

When it comes to DC protests, farmers could be the role models

The March for Science, set for Saturday in Washington, may command attention for one reason: "It’s pretty rare for people in any occupation to march on their field’s behalf," says FiveThirtyEight in an examination of public protest. "When scientists travel from across the country to ask their government for respect and funding, the group they will most closely be emulating is farmers."