January 23, 2020

U.S. Hog Numbers Decline, PED Virus a Significant Concern

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its Quarterly Hogs and Pigs estimates on Friday. As U.S. pig numbers declined to the lowest levels in seven years, concern about the PED virus is capturing the attention of USDA’s Chief Economist Joe Glauber.

Jesse Newman and Kelsey Gee explored the PEDv issue in more detail in today’s Wall Street Journal.


Climate- Policy Issues; COOL; Ag Economy; Biofuels; Immigration; Biotech; and, EPA

Climate Issues- White House Proposal, and Farm Bill Issues

Justin Gillis reported on the front page of today’s New York Times that, “Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.”

Chapter Seven of the report, which is available here, is titled, “Food Security & Food Production Systems.”


An Updated Look at Agricultural Prices

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its monthly Agricultural Prices report on Friday. Some commodity prices, like corn (graph) and soybeans (graph) have decreased over the past year, while some livestock related prices, like cattle (graph) and milk (graph), have been on the rise.

The livestock sector has benefited from these trends as production input costs for feed have decreased, while prices received for many livestock related products have increased.


ERS: Family farms dominate U.S. production of major field crops and hogs, poultry, eggs

From USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), March 28.


Family farms—whether using the ERS definition based on majority ownership of the farm business or the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) definition based on the predominance of family-supplied labor—account for a large share of U.S. agricultural production. However, their relative production within commodity groups varies. Family farms were particularly important in the production of major field crops (corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat), where they accounted for 62-96 percent of U.S. production in 2011, and in hogs, poultry, and eggs, where they accounted for 68-96 percent of production. Family farm production shares are lower in every major commodity category when focusing on the share of farms where the principal operator and spouse provide most of the labor used on the farm (the FAO standard). Large farms, often family owned but heavily reliant on hired farm labor and contract service providers, account for a large share of U.S. production, particularly in high-valued crops (fruit, nuts, vegetables, and nursery) and dairy. For example, family-owned and operated farms account for 75 percent of dairy production, but the operator and spouse usually provide less than half the labor on those farms. This chart can be found in “Family Farming in the United States” in the March 2014 Amber Waves.


Des Moines Register: Iowa cropland prices slide, but less than expected

From The Des Moines Register, March 28- The value of Iowa cropland fell 5.4 percent in the past six months. Kyle Hansen, president of the Iowa Realtors Land Institute, explains why that may not be a bad thing.


EPA- Policy Issue; FDA; and, the Ag Economy

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)– Policy Issues

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was a guest on yesterday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams where, in part, the conversation focused on recent EPA water related issues.  An unofficial transcript of yesterday’s complete discussion with Mr. Adams and Sec. Vilsack is available here.


U.S. Census Data and Rural Population

Categories: Rural America

The Wall Street Journal provided interesting coverage of recent U.S. Census data relating to Rural population declines— and growth. While some areas of the Midwest are experiencing population declines, areas in the Great Plains, such as North Dakota and Texas have seen populations rise.

See also:


Farm Bill; EPA Issues; Ag Economy; Biotech; and, Tax Extenders

Farm Bill- Policy Issues

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden was a guest on yesterday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams where the conversation focused on Farm Bill implementation.

Mr. Adams queried on the radio program yesterday: “What is the biggest challenge, when you’re looking at that commodity title and you say it’s going to take the rest of this year, what is the biggest hurdle you have to overcome to get that thing going?”

Dep. Sec. Hardin indicated that,  “It is complicated.  And because it does lock in producers for the life of the farm bill, we want to make sure that they can make decisions that is right for them.  A lot of changes.  There are IT changes, you know, getting our systems up-to-date and making the changes, training our personnel, making sure we’re communicating with producers so that they have the information to make informed decisions.  There’s a lot of steps in this process.  We’re going to make sure we take each step and do it right so producers can make good decisions and not just a quick decision.”


EPA Water; Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Biotech; Biofuels; and, Immigration

EPA Water Issues

DTN writer Todd Neeley reported yesterday that, “Though U.S. agriculture groups have feared an expected expansion of the Clean Water Act for nearly three years, some 53 conservation practices would for the first time be exempt and previous agriculture exemptions from the law would stay in place in a newly proposed rule announced Tuesday by EPA.

“EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters that critics of the proposal may be pleasantly surprised by what they find in the rule, which will trigger a 90-day comment period once published in the Federal Register in the next few weeks. McCarthy said she believes the new rule will improve the Clean Water Act and reward farmers and other landowners for long-standing conservation practices.” (The proposal can be viewed here).


EPA Administrator McCarthy Gives an Overview of EPA’s Clean Water Act Rule Proposal

Categories: Regulations

From the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) March 25- In this video, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy provides an overview of the proposed rule for the Clean Water Act and highlights how EPA is taking action to keep America’s waters clean and healthy.

For more information about the Clean Water Act rule proposal, go to


USDA Reports Note Dry Conditions- Crop Concerns Impact Prices

USDA field offices in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas this week (March 24) noted that dry windy conditions are adversely impacting crops in the Southern Plains. A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that crop prices inched upward due to potential supply concerns.


Biotech; Ag Economy; Farm Bill; Biofuels; Immigration; and, Regulation


Ellyn Ferguson reported yesterday at Roll Call Online that, “Large-scale farming and agribusiness, derisively dubbed Big Ag by critics, look to polish their image this week with a Statuary Hall ceremony for a hero in the field and a screening of a documentary about young farmers and ranchers.

“On Tuesday, top lawmakers, including Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, plan to attend the installation of a bronze statue of plant scientist Norman E. Borlaug. Borlaug is hailed as the father of the 1960s ‘Green Revolution’ that improved crop production in Mexico and Asia.”


Factors That Impact U.S. Food Prices

Richard Volpe discussed the impact of droughts on U.S. food prices, other factors that determine the price of food, and how USDA Economic Research Service pricing forecasts are used. He is a research economist in the Food Markets Branch of the Food Economics Division at ERS.


USDA- National Agricultural Statistics Service Cattle Update

On Friday, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) updated its monthly Cattle on Feed report– USDA livestock analyst Michael Jewison provided details.


Biotech; Ag Economy; Farm Bill; Biofuels; and, Regulations


Reuters news reported on Friday that, “China’s corn imports from the United States, the world’s top exporter, decreased sharply in February, hurt by Beijing’s rejection of an unapproved genetically-modified (GMO) strain, but imports from Ukraine surged, official customs data showed on Friday.”

The article explained that, “Beijing has since November rejected a total of about 900,000 tonnes of corn from the United States after detecting Syngenta corn strain MIR 162, which is not approved by China’s agriculture ministry for import.

“But China’s imports of non-GMO corn from Ukraine surged to 192,374 tonnes in February, bringing the country’s total imports in the month to 479,758 tonnes, up 21.74 percent on year, data showed.

“China started importing corn from Ukraine late last year and feed mills continue to book cargoes under a loan-for-grains deal signed in 2012.”


WSJ- City vs. Country: How Where We Live Deepens the Nation’s Political Divide

Categories: Rural America

Today’s Wall Street Journal contained an interesting article about some of the differences between rural and urban voters.

Below is a video that was part of today’s Journal article.


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