Farmers tops in trustworthiness survey

When 1,000 consumers were asked who they trusted in the food system, farmers were the clear winners, said the economists overseeing the new Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey on Thursday. Participants gave farmers an average score of 5.6 on a scale of 1 to 7.

Opinion: How farmers can be at the forefront of the climate solution

More than a half century after the first Earth Day, with our planet in worse shape than it’s ever been, the challenge of slowing global warming and the environmental, economic and social devastation underway can sometimes feel like too much — too expensive, too complicated and too politically divisive to overcome. But when we wake up every morning in rural Marion County, Iowa, we aren’t filled with despair. We’re filled with hope in a revolutionary idea: that farmers will help mitigate climate damage that farmers will help mitigate climate damage if we pay them to make their operations more resilient and sustainable. (No paywall)

Trump failed on trade and ethanol, says Democratic farm forum

Rural America, and farmers in particular, voted overwhelmingly for President Trump in 2016 but have suffered rather than benefitted for it, said speakers on a  "farmers and ranchers roundtable" organized by the Biden-Harris campaign. The forum, held 10 days ahead of the traditional fall campaign kickoff of Labor Day, criticized Trump for using agriculture as a pawn in the Sino-U.S. trade war and labeled him weak on ethanol.(No paywall)

Arizona farms on the front lines of a climate and water crisis

Arizona's farmers are facing a water crisis, as the state diverts scarce Colorado River resources to booming population centers, reports Stephen R. Miller, in FERN's latest story with National Geographic. To deal with the situation, farmers are drilling deeper into aquifers or selling off land, but pressures will only mount with climate change.

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 …

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."

Farmer optimism fades in step with expectations for the future

For the second month in a row, the Ag Economy Barometer declined, this time by 10 points, says Purdue University, based on a survey of 400 producers. Optimism zoomed with President Trump's election but has been on the decline since peaking at its highest-ever level in January.

‘Trump bump’ in farmer confidence deflates a bit

Producers are worried about economic conditions in the farm sector and forecasts of a continued slump in farm income are eroding their confidence about the future, say Purdue University economists. The Purdue Ag Economy Barometer fell by 19 points during February, taking some air out of the "Trump bump" in farmer confidence that began in November and lifted producer sentiment to a record high in January.

Diversifying people to diversify the field of farming

A proud refrain of American agriculture is "we feed the world" of many nations and cultures although U.S. farmers are overwhelmingly white men. Kendall Lamkey, chairman of the department of agronomy at Iowa State University, is trying to diversify the sector by attracting students "from a wider pool – from cities and suburbs, and from minority groups," says the NPR blog, The Salt.

Study looks at high pesticide exposure, DNA change in farmworkers

Researchers say farmworkers who experience a high pesticide exposure event, such as a spill, are more likely to have molecular changes in their DNA that may lead to certain types of cancer, says Environmental Health News (EHN). The research was drawn from the long-running Agricultural Health Study of 57,000 private and commercial pesticide users in Iowa and North Carolina.

Trump-voting farmers worry that he will live up to his immigration promises

Many farmers in California’s Central Valley, where 70 percent of the farmworkers are in the U.S. without documentation, voted for Donald Trump. But as Trump takes a hard line on immigration in his first few weeks in office, some farm owners are worried he won’t make any exemptions for agriculture, says the New York Times.

Survey of farmer sentiment sets record for second month

A post-election surge in producer optimism pushed the Ag Economy Barometer to a record high for the second consecutive month, says Purdue University, which conducts a survey of farmers and produces the monthly report.

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