Ag News

Ag News Roundup: Changes are coming to agriculture

Rapid change and ample uncertainty in the agriculture sector these days, here are a few important stories:


Successful Farming: PERDUE CONFIRMATION HEARING LIKELY MID-TO-LATE FEBRUARY, SOURCES SAY : The Senate Agriculture Committee is still pulling together background information on President Donald Trump’s nominee for agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, before setting the date for a confirmation hearing, has learned. Meanwhile, a key Iowa adviser in Trump’s campaign has been named as a liaison to help fill other political appointments at the USDA, which some think bodes well for bringing in a Midwesterner to broaden the department’s leadership.

Even most members of the Agriculture Committee have said little about Perdue, although it’s unusual for members of the normally bipartisan panel to telegraph a lot of concerns ahead of time. One who has spoken out is Senator Charles Grassley, the veteran Iowa Republican who farms, along with family members, near Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Grassley told reporters Tuesday that “I’m reserving judgement” about Perdue, a Southerner who also has a farm background and who was governor of Georgia for two terms. Grassley said before Trump announced his choice that he was hoping the nominee would be from “north of the Mason-Dixon line.” Grassley said this week that Southerners may not always appreciate the institution of the family farm in Northern states. He’s been trying for years, with mixed success, to limit USDA payments to modest-size farms, something opposed by committee members from Southern states with large operations. Continue reading.

Succesful Farming3 BIG THINGS TODAY, JANUARY 26,CORN, BEANS LOWER IN OVERNIGHT TRADING; ETHANOL PRODUCTION DROPS FROM RECORD: 1. CORN, SOYBEANS DROP ON CONCERNS ABOUT TRADE Corn and soybeans were modestly lower in overnight trading on concerns about demand from overseas buyers. Investors are concerned about President Trump’s decision to leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement. The worry, analysts said, is that overseas buyers will instead turn to South American sellers as world supplies are ample. Continue reading.

Wall Street JournalNew York State’s First Offshore Wind Farm Gets Green Light, Construction on the $740 million project on Long Island will start in 2020: UNIONDALE, N.Y.—The Long Island Power Authority completed an agreement Wednesday to build New York state’s first offshore wind farm 30 miles east of Montauk, N.Y., the latest effort by the industry to gain traction in the U.S. market.

The authority, known as LIPA, signed a 20-year contract with Deepwater Wind LLC, a Rhode Island-based developer that began operating the first U.S. offshore wind farm off Block Island, R.I., in December.

Construction on the $740 million project will start in 2020 and it aims to be operational by 2022, according to Jeff Grybowski, chief executive of Deepwater Wind, which is primarily owned by hedge fund D.E. Shaw Group.

“There is a huge offshore resource right off the coast of Long Island and it extends up and down the eastern seaboard,” Mr. Grybowski said. “We think thousands of megawatts will be built off the coast of the United States in the coming decades.”

Thomas Falcone, CEO of the Long Island Power Authority, said the 90 megawatt, 15-turbine offshore wind project would produce enough electricity to power 50,000 homes on Long Island. “It’s not the last project,” Mr. Falcone said. “And it won’t be the largest project.” Continue reading.

ABC News: Farm to Table: A Bit Tricky in Winter, but in High Demand: Demand driven by the farm-to-table movement knows no seasons, so farmers in colder areas of the country increasingly use greenhouses and similar structures to meet wintertime demand for local produce.

While crusty snow and ice covers the ground in January in Vermont, spinach leaves sprout in rows of unfrozen soil inside a high tunnel — a large enclosure covered by plastic film that is warmed by the sun and protected from the wind.

“I can never keep up with the spinach demand,” said Joe Buley, owner of Screamin’ Ridge Farm in Montpelier, who planted the spinach in November and will sell it in about two weeks.

This time of year, when vegetables are trucked in from California and Mexico, some consumers clamor for fresh local produce.

“I’m definitely interested in supporting local agriculture, and I definitely like eating greens in the winter,” said Serena Matt of Marshfield, Vermont, who paid Bear Roots Farm in South Barre, Vermont, ahead to get biweekly bundles of produce that in the winter typically include greens like spinach or baby kale.

The federal government helped spur the growth in winter farming by providing financial and technical assistance to farmers to install high tunnels to extend the growing season, protect crops from harsh conditions, reduce energy use and improve air quality by reducing the transportation of food. Between 2010 and 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helped producers construct more than 15,000 high tunnels around the country, with Alaska having the most.

Rohwer’s Farm in Pleasant View, Colorado, got its first 30-by-72-foot high tunnel that way.

“And it did so well we were able to get a second one, and we added a third one last year,” said Heidi Rohwer, estimating they cost about $7,000 each. Continue reading. 

The New York Times: After Trump Rejects Pacific Trade Deal, Japan Fears Repeat of 1980s: TOKYO — President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal should have been good news for Hitoshi Kondo, a Japanese rice farmer.

The sweeping 12-nation agreement, negotiated by the Obama administration and formally rejected by Mr. Trump on Monday, would have opened swaths of Japan’s highly protected agricultural sector, and was bitterly opposed by farmers. Now, without American involvement, the deal looks as good as dead.

Mr. Kondo isn’t celebrating, though.

“It’s actually scarier, because what comes next will be a lot harsher,” he said on Wednesday, as Japanese leaders scrambled to find a coherent response.

What comes next, many in Japan believe, could be a bruising showdown between Tokyo and Washington. They fear a return to the trade wars of the 1980s and early ’90s, when many Americans saw Japan as an untrustworthy economic adversary. Continue reading.


Hope you have a great weekend and get all your chores done without mishap.

Melissa Beck


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