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7 Ag stories you may have missed

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From wildfires in the west to the dairy industry, we are bring you 7 ag stories you will want to catch up on this weekend.

Let's face it, it's been a long week. And you may need a quick catch up on agricultural news. WE have got what you need. Here are seven stories you might have missed this week.

Drought and wildfires

Wildfires are blazing in 13 states across the the US, burning more than 1 million acres in western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. As of now, there are 70 separate wildfires and over 1 million acres have been burned this summer.  

 

Dying Dairy Industry

The future in the dairy industry looks dim. Farming families are facing a choice: Compete with high-production outfits, if they can, or abandon generations of dairy farming.

Dairy farmers across the Midwest are being forced to sell off their herds at auction. As Ron Wallenhorst, Cuba City, Wisconsin, put it, it’s a farmer’s version of the 401K. He took the dairy over from his father, 32 years ago and milked cows in the barn twice a day, every day.

The only good thing about auction day for the Wallenhorst family was that the herd went for $1,800 each on average—which was relatively high for the area.

The license plates for Wisconsin say “America’s Dairyland” beneath a picture of a red barn. The state has the most dairy farms in the country. But it lost 826 dairy farms in 2019, or 10% of its dairy farms.

 

Dairy cows vs. Dairy goats

The future in the dairy industry looks dim. Farming families are facing a choice: Compete with high-production outfits, if they can, or abandon generations of dairy farming.

Dairy farmers across the Midwest are being forced to sell off their herds at auction. As Ron Wallenhorst, Cuba City, Wisconsin, put it, it’s a farmer’s version of the 401K. He took the dairy over from his father, 32 years ago and milked cows in the barn twice a day, every day.

The only good thing about auction day for the Wallenhorst family was that the herd went for $1,800 each on average—which was relatively high for the area.

The license plates for Wisconsin say “America’s Dairyland” beneath a picture of a red barn. The state has the most dairy farms in the country. But it lost 826 dairy farms in 2019, or 10% of its dairy farms.

 

China Farms on U.S. land

 

China has a big influence on the U.S. economy and now house lawmakers are trying to stop the influence from spreading any farther to U.S. farmland. House lawmakers have stated that the foreign purchase of prime agricultural real estate needs stopped because it posted a national security risk. The good news is that key senate lawmakers are also showing an interest in stopping the practice.

The call for tighter limits on who owns America’s farms has come from a wide range of political leaders, from former Vice President Mike Pence to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), after gaining momentum seeded in farm states.

Chinese firms have expanded their presence in American agriculture over the last decade by snapping up farmland and purchasing major agribusinesses, like pork processing giant Smithfield Foods.

But it’s the trend of increasing purchases and the buyers’ potential connections to the Chinese government that have lawmakers spooked.

USDA reported in 2018 that China’s agricultural investments in other nations had grown more than tenfold since 2009.

 

Garst Family Farm goes up for auction

An Iowa farm—the Garst Family Farm, known as the first of its kind with a soil conservation easement is going up on the auction block in August. The 1900 acres of farmland will be divided in 8 parcels is located in Coon Rapids, Iowa.

Long-term soil conservation practices have been implemented over decades on the land parcels going to auction. They include no-till practices in place since the 1980s, the introduction of cover crops in 2013, terraces, buffer strips, terraces, waterways, contour strips, and headlands.

The easement requires that certain sustainable agriculture practices be used on the farms and that conservation measures and structures currently utilized on the farms be maintained. The practices include no-till farming, annual cover crop plantings post-harvest with the basis of having continuous, living roots in the soil, and maintenance of existing terraces and waterways.

The Garst family expected a mix of businesses from the market at the sale.

 

Concerns over African Swine Fever

The Henan province in central China was heavily flooded this week. This caused damage to some hog farms in the major pork-producing region and causing more alarm about African swine fever.

Small farmers will be severely affected by the torrential rains and there will be a “significant” short-term impact on logistics, including the transportation of hogs, according to Shanghai JC Intelligence, an agriculture consulting firm.

A bigger worry is the potential outbreak of African swine fever, said Lin Guofa, a senior analyst at consultancy Bric Agriculture Group. Floods increase the risk of disease as the virus can be found in pig’s blood, feces and tissue. Healthy hogs may be infected through contact with sick pigs or contaminated feed and water.

While China has largely recovered from the outbreak of African swine fever that started in 2018, the situation remains complicated and a worsening spread could harm the goal of replenishing pork supplies in the top consumer.

 

Feral hog legislation

And a little closer to home, Missouri Governor Mike Parson recently signed priority feral hog legislation, an initiative of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Tim Taylor, toughens penalties for knowingly or recklessly releasing feral swine into the wild. The signed provision, originally sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Hough and Rep. Don Rone, could result in hefty fines for violators and a second guilty conviction carries the possibility of a class E felony. The change in penalties is intended to deter individuals from intentionally releasing destructive swine into Missouri’s landscape.

 

And those are 7 stories in agriculture, you don't want to miss this week. 

 

 

 

 

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