National Farmers Union, Climate Change and Agricultural Resource Center, 7/30/2020

EDITOR’s NOTE: With this news posting, we introduce the National Farmers Unions’ (NFU) special focus on policies, programs and political action related to Climate Chante National Farmers Union (NFU). Readers may expect My Rural America to routinely our news to NFU’s Resource Center.

“The effects of climate change are becoming clear across rural America. Rising average temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, changing growing seasons, increasingly frequent and severe weather events, and rising sea levels are making it more difficult to grow food, fuel, and fiber. These difficulties will only intensify over time.

“However, farmers and ranchers have immense power to address this crisis — as many already are. They have implemented conservation practices that build soil health, which make the land more resilient and help to sequester carbon. They are also producing renewable energy, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels….”

Read more: https://nfu.org/climate-change/

Jordan Dairy Farms in Massachusetts uses a biodigester to turn cow manure into methane gas, which can be used for fuel or turned into electricity. (Adam Glanzman for the Washington Post)

The Washington Post — Health & Science, Jim Morrison, 7/28/2020

“When Randy Jordan, a fifth-generation dairy farmer in central Massachusetts, looked into turning manure from his 300 cows into natural gas more than a decade ago, he just wanted to find a way to lower his increasingly painful electric bill…

“…Then he met Bill Jorgenson, a longtime energy consultant with a vision…”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/06/16/climate-solutions-manure/

The Counter, Sam Bloch, 7/27/2020

“Senators Warren and Booker release the findings of their June investigation into Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill, and Smithfield Foods….

“But the responses the senators received to their letters of inquiry from CEOs at Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill, and Smithfield Foods contained few specific answers about the quantities of meat produced domestically and exported in April, or about the total number of worker illnesses in their facilities. Nor did they shed much light on rising consumer prices and plummeting prices for farmers and ranchers during the same period…

“Meat companies had produced 171 million fewer pounds of beef and pork than the year before, but had exported nearly four times their usual amount.…

Read more: https://thecounter.org/covid-19-tyson-cargill-smithfield-jbs-warren-booker/

The New York Times, Michael Corkery, David Yaffe-Bellany, 4/18/2020

“The modern American slaughterhouse is a very different place from the one that Upton Sinclair depicted in his early-20th-century novel, “The Jungle.”

“The jobs are often grueling and sometimes dangerous, but pork and beef producers
boast about having some of the most heavily sanitized work spaces of any industry.

“Yet meat plants, honed over decades for maximum efficiency and profit, have become major “hot spots” for the coronavirus pandemic, … becoming the weakest link in the nation’s food supply chain….”

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/business/coronavirus-meat-slaughterhouses.html

National Conference of State Legislatures, 2/25/2020

“State legislatures have taken action to establish state-licensed hemp programs and promote hemp as an agricultural commodity in recent years. A wide range of products, including fibers, textiles, paper, construction and insulation materials, cosmetic products, animal feed, food, and beverages all may use hemp….”

Read more: https://www.ncsl.org/research/agriculture-and-rural-development/state-industrial-hemp-statutes.aspx

Agricultural exports have not yet provided the boost to farm income that U.S. farmers have been hoping for. Instead, they are now harvesting large crops this fall without knowing if their corn and soybeans will find buyers in overseas markets.  USDA is already sending out checks under the Trade Mitigation Program to offset some of these losses.

As U.S. farmers face their fourth consecutive year of below-average net farm income, they are not yet receiving the boost from agricultural exports they had been hoping for.  The latest (August 30) USDA projection for 2018 net farm income is $65.7 billion, only 53 percent of the figure recorded in 2013.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 formally expired on October 1, with no replacement or extension in effect. This blog explains some of the consequences of that lapse in farm bill coverage for a variety of key programs.

On Monday, October 1, the Agriculture Act of 2014 expired, with no new farm bill yet completed to replace it.   The staffs of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees and the conference committee members from both bodies have been working diligently since late July to reconcile the many differences between the House and Senate farm bill versions passed during the summer, but they have not yet been able to complete that work and present a single conference version to the House and Senate for final consideration.

The incidence of foodborne illness in the United States leads to the hospitalization of 128,000 people and the death of 3,000 Americans every year, costing the economy nearly $78 billion.  Broader adoption of new information technology, such as blockchain and low-cost IOT sensors in the food and agribusiness sector, can reduce the frequency of foodborne illness outbreaks.