Missed some ag news this week? Check out 7 stories from the week.
1. The full Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack to serve as secretary of agriculture by a vote of 92-7. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders joined six Republicans in opposing the nomination. Vilsack was sworn in Wednesday by Vice President Kamala Harris at his home in Iowa as he takes over the department with a new perspective after spending four years in the private sector, an elevation of climate discussions, as well as a pandemic which revealed challenges in the food supply chain. – Farm Futures, Intelligencer
2. Evan Thaler, a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, authored a study that found the most fertile topsoil is entirely gone from a third of cropland in the upper Midwest. Other soil scientists are skeptical. Michelle Wander, at the University of Illinois, says that the study relies on a series of assumptions to fill in gaps in the data, and those assumptions probably overestimate topsoil loss. – NPR
3. Just 1% of farm aid recipients collected 23% of subsidy payments in 2019, up from 17% in 2016. Their portion crept up to 24% in the first half of 2020, the most recent period covered in the data, as farm aid hit a record level with coronavirus relief payments, according to the Environmental Working Group analysis. – Farm Futures
4. In South Dakota, there's debate over changing the tax definition of agricultural land. The legislation would change the tax code so that land could be classified as agricultural — and receive any ensuing tax breaks — if its "principal use" is agricultural and, in three of the past five years, the landowner had received an annual gross income of at least $2,500 from the “pursuit of agriculture.” Under current statute, land is agricultural if the gross income derived from agriculture is “at least 10% of the taxable valuation of the bare land assessed as agricultural property.” – Argus Leader
5. A recently released study attempts to quantify how precision agriculture allows farmers to use less to grow more. The study finds that as precision agriculture equipment and technologies are more widely adopted, there will be increases in yields and input savings. For example, precision agriculture has improved fertilizer placement efficiency by an estimated 7% and productivity has increased an estimated 4%. – Farm Futures
6. JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat supplier, said it will likely set up a new global company focused solely on plant-based products. The world’s population is booming and expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. The amount of meat needed to satisfy the world’s protein needs won’t be possible to produce. – Farm Futures
7. CornBoard Manufacturing takes corn stover and turns it into CornBoard. The board is made by sifting the biomass residue into a resin. After sifting, it is bonded under heat and pressure. Each board can withstand one thousand tons of pressure. – The Hutchinson News
And your bonus.
Have you posted your #Targetdresschallenge photo online yet? It's vintage 1870s Midwestern mercantile. – Bemidji Pioneer