By one yardstick — dollars spent under the 2018 farm bill — the cost-sharing Environmental Quality Incentives Program is the largest working lands conservation program at the USDA, said two University of Illinois economists on Thursday. They created an interactive map of EQIP spending that showed Texas and California were the leading states for outlays.
With their 2022 crop fetching the highest season-average price on record, wheat farmers sowed 36.95 million acres of winter wheat for harvest this spring and summer — the largest total in seven years, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday.
Taking more farmland out of production and increasing irrigation efficiency on farms were two of the management options that could boost water flow in parts of the parched Rio Grande, according to the first report card for the Upper Rio Grande River basin, which was released Thursday.
The drought-hit U.S. cotton crop is slightly larger than previously thought, at 14 million bales, but exports are stagnant for this marketing year, said the USDA on Thursday. The monthly WASDE report said cotton production was down worldwide.
Amid drought in the U.S. West, growers will abandon three of every 10 acres of cotton they planted this spring, estimated the Agriculture Department. In its monthly WASDE report, the USDA projected a cotton crop of 15.5 million bales, down by 1 million bales from its projection in early June.
With Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller as the plaintiff, a Trump-aligned legal group on Tuesday challenged the $4 billion debt-relief plan approved by Congress for Black and minority farmers, saying it was unconstitutional. "Americans of all races and ethnicities must have the opportunity to receive" USDA loan forgiveness, said America First Legal Foundation in announcing the suit. No paywall
Snow and bitter cold damaged the citrus crop in Texas, slowed meat production in the Plains, and threatened to snarl grain exports through the Gulf of Mexico. Some traders have claimed force majeure because of ice and cold weather in Houston and New Orleans, reported AgriCensus
Marco Antonio Galvan Gomez, a 48-year-old husband and father from Guanajuato, Mexico, had worked eight years on a seasonal visa at Larsen Farms, one of the biggest potato producers in the nation, when he died of complications related to Covid-19 on July 20. He had spent the previous 12 days struggling to keep working despite suffering from fever, aches and shortness of breath; Larsen officials denied his request to return home to Mexico, and Galvan got no medical treatment from local health officials, according to FERN's latest story, published with Texas Observer. (No paywall)
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the second public-private initiative to provide replacement meals for low-income children who lost access to free or reduced-price meals due to school closures. The new project would feed children "vulnerable to hunger" in Ohio and follows the creation of an effort in Texas to offer shelf-stable meals to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.(No paywall)
Cattle outnumber people 40 to one in Deaf Smith County in the Texas Panhandle, giving the county seat of Hereford its title as the "beef capital of the world." But the area is also a hotspot of citizen complaints about manure dust storms created when fierce winds hit feedlots housing tens of thousands of animals, according to FERN's latest story, written by Chris Collins and produced in collaboration with The Texas Observer and Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.(No paywall)
Citrus production has trended downward for years, but it dropped abruptly, by 20 percent, in the just-ended 2017/18 season, affected greatly by Hurricane Irma in Florida, said the USDA in its annual Citrus report.
In December 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out the largest workplace raid in history. They arrested over 1,300 workers in six states, including 300 from Cactus, Texas, a small town with just over 3,000 residents. The Cactus workers were picked up from a meatpacking plant, then owned by Swift & Co. before it was acquired by JBS in 2007.
The USDA will begin tests in Texas and Alabama of a toxic sodium nitrate bait to kill feral swine, said USDA's Wildlife Services, which combats invasive animals. More than 6 million wild pigs roam parts of at least 35 states and cause an estimated $190 million in crop damage annually, says the USDA.
Almost as soon as the EPA set the biofuel targets for the new year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested a waiver that would exempt one-fourth of U.S. refining capacity from the Renewable Fuel Standard for the coming year, reports Argus Media. Meanwhile, the White House was reported to schedule a meeting for Thursday between the oil industry and ethanol producers to discuss possible changes to the 10-year-old RFS.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which ravaged Florida's orange crop, "seem to have had little effect on vegetable prices," says USDA's Vegetable and Pulses Outlook. The storms arrived early in the planting season for so-called winter vegetables, "primarily causing a delay in plantings," according to USDA economists.
The one-two punch of Hurricane Harvey on Gulf coast and Hurricane Irma in the Southeast reduced the U.S. cotton crop by more than 600,000 bales, or 3 percent, said the USDA in its monthly crop report. The USDA lowered its estimate of the harvest in Texas, the No. 1 cotton state, and in No. 2 Georgia, down by 300,000 bales apiece.
Timber Creek High School in Keller, Texas, opened a coffee bar that sells lattes, mochas and iced blended coffee drinks along with muffins and fruit cups to students, joining several other schools in the Forth Worth area that offer the caffeinated perk, reports the Star-Telegram. "We have a generation that drinks coffee," said a food-service manager for the Keller schools who oversees the coffee shop.
Three federal workers were injured in the collision of a semi-truck and another vehicle in a motorcade carrying Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on a tour of hurricane damage on the Texas Gulf Coast, said the Texas Tribune. Perdue, who was in another vehicle with Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and U.S. House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway, was not injured.