If exports rise, farmers won’t need trade aid, says Perdue
U.S. AG exports have gained limited traction from President Trump’s ballyhooed trade victories, but Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is optimistic that demand will improve. “I hope we can show that a third round [of trade war payments] is not needed for 2020,” Perdue said in a statement. “We still believe farmers want trade rather than aid.”
Advocacy groups sue FSA for allegedly withholding farm loan information
Several environmental and animal advocacy groups are suing the USDA’s Farm Service Agency for allegedly delaying and over-redacting its responses to Freedom of Information Act requests. The groups say the agency has systematically withheld information about its loan programs and concealed how much of its funds are directed toward industrial-scale animal agriculture.
Number of U.S. farms down 3 percent in five years
The USDA estimates there were 2.023 million farms in the nation in 2019, a tiny decline of 5,800 farms from the previous year. The change is more dramatic when the time frame is widened — there are 3 percent fewer farms now than there were in 2014, and the amount of farmland fell 1.3 percent during that five-year period.
TODAY’S QUICK HITS
Vilsack heads to Purdue Pharma (Des Moines Register): Former agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack has accepted a position at Purdue Pharma, where his job will be to make sure the company is not improperly promoting opioids.
Cargill enters faux meat game (Reuters): Cargill will launch its own line of soy- and pea-based meat alternatives in April, as the commodity giant moves to compete with startups like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.
Cover crops for prairie potholes (USDA): Signup begins March 30 for a new Conservation Reserve program that will pay landowners to plant cover crops for three to five years on up to 50,000 acres of less-productive land in the “prairie pothole” region of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Farm Belt Airbnb (NPR): Backed by venture capital, a company called Tillable is trying to establish itself in the business of farmland rental, though critics raise concerns that its business threatens the privacy of farmer data.
Wyoming, Washington hemp plans approved (USDA): The USDA signed off on plans submitted by Washington State and Wyoming for regulating industrial hemp cultivation, bringing to eight the number of states that meet the USDA’s standards for uniform guidelines for the new crop.
Changing face of ‘America’s Dairyland’ (Guardian): The Wisconsin dairy business continues to decline as small farmers face relentless competition from big producers as well as low market prices, fluctuations in exports, shifting consumer habits, and trade disputes.