Rain delays may pull down U.S. corn yield

Corn and soybean planting is running roughly 30 percentage points behind normal in a cold and rainy spring, said the weekly Crop Progress report on Monday. "Delayed planting has set the stage for potential corn yield reductions at the national level," but not guaranteed them, wrote economist David Widmar in a blog about the implications of one of the five slowest corn planting seasons on record.

Peterson challenges USDA on land stewardship offers

Almost as soon as the USDA offered to admit land in need of high-priority stewardship practices into the long-term Conservation Reserve Program, the House Agriculture chairman threatened on Thursday to void the offer. “I am going to stop it somehow or other,” chairman Collin Peterson told two USDA officials.

Three USDA nominations advance to Senate floor

On a voice vote, the Senate Agriculture Committee cleared for a floor vote three administration nominations for senior posts at USDA: Mindy Brashears for undersecretary of food safety, Scott Hutchins for undersecretary for research, and Naomi Earp for assistant secretary of civil rights. It was …

Is moving day near for two USDA agencies?

Like a genial bulldozer, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue relentlessly is pushing two scientific agencies out of Washington, with an announcement expected in mid-May of a new home in the heartland. Some mid-level USDA officials believe Kansas City, already the home of the department's commodity procurement office, is the favored site.

Nutritional quality of school food surges under 2010 reforms

With Congress in the early stages of updating child nutrition programs costing $30 billion a year, researchers say the nutritional quality of school meals increased by more than 40 percent following a 2010 mandate to serve healthier food. The first comprehensive study of the 2010 reforms also found that student participation rates were highest in the schools that served higher-quality meals.

SNAP starts small, will go national, in test of online grocery shopping

The USDA launched a test of online grocery shopping for food stamp recipients in New York State on Thursday, with plans to expand the pilot to nine states across the nation.

Amid decline in commodity prices, farmland values could fall too

U.S. farm real estate values rode the express elevator to the penthouse during the commodity boom, gaining an average $860 an acre in five years. They are still at elevated levels despite the sharply lower farm income of recent years but may drift lower in the near term, according to two examinations of the farm economy.

The big customer for U.S. animal protein: Mexico

Nearly 1 of every 4 pounds of U.S. red meat and poultry exports goes to Mexico, the overall top customer of U.S. food and agriculture exports, says the USDA. Mexico was the destination for 24 percent of beef, pork, mutton, broilers and turkey exports in 2018, nearly double the 13 percent market …

On average, U.S. farmers are aging, but a quarter of them are newcomers

One-third of America’s 3.4 million farmers are over the age of 65, and nearly a million more of them are within a decade of that milestone, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, released by the USDA on Thursday. For decades, the aging U.S. farmer has been a cause for concern, expressed in this question: Who will feed America in the future? [No paywall]

U.S. cotton use lowest in 120 years or more

Domestic demand for cotton is shrinking, so much so that U.S. cotton consumption this year will be the smallest since the 1890s, according to the USDA. In its monthly WASDE report, the USDA estimates usage at 3.1 million bales in the marketing year that ends on August 1, down by 4 percent from …