Hefty subsidy needed for adoption of cover crops – January 31, 2022

Hefty subsidy needed for adoption of cover crops

Only 5 percent of U.S. cropland is planted to cover crops amid debate over their financial benefits to farmers. Congress may need to offer a “sizable” subsidy to growers if it wants large-scale adoption of the farming practice, said two university economists.

Sharp decline in farm income likely this year

After reaching an eight-year high thanks to massive pandemic payments in 2021, net farm income — USDA’s gauge of profitability — is expected to fall precipitously this year. The USDA will make its first forecast of farm income on Friday.

Today’s Quick Hits

Cover-crop tractor:In an effort to improve drinking water in Des Moines, Polk County will buy a $600,000 high-clearance tractor that can sow seeds for cover crops between rows of corn. Critics say the device will have a tiny impact in a vast watershed. (Iowa Capitol Dispatch)

RFS compliance deadlines: Despite complaints by trade groups, the EPA extended the deadlines for oil refiners to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2020, 2021 and 2022, and said beginning in 2023 the deadline for compliance with each year’s RFS will come after it has finalized the standard for the subsequent year. (EPA)

Five USDA appointments: President Biden appointed five USDA state directors, including Deborah Tannenbaum, the Florida deputy agriculture commissioner, as state director of the Farm Service Agency in Florida. (White House)

Meyer sees opportunities: Speaking at a renewable fuels conference, USDA chief economist Seth Meyer said “there are definitely opportunities” for larger sales, and pointed to sustainable aviation fuel and E15, a higher blend of ethanol into gasoline, as examples. (Market to Market)

‘Plenty’ for Walmart: As part of its investment in the startup Plenty, Walmart said it will begin shipping leafy greens from Plenty’s indoor farm in Southern California to its stores across the state later this year. (Adweek)

On The Calendar

White House ports adviser John Porcari and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speak during an online discussion of bottlenecks in the agricultural export chain, 1 p.m. ET.
American Sugarbeet Growers Association holds annual meeting, through Tuesday, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Opening day of general signup for the Conservation Reserve, which pays landowners to idle fragile cropland for up to 15 years. Signup runs through March 11. Signup for the Grassland CRP option is April 4-May 13.
USDA issues semi-annual Cattle inventory, monthly Agricultural Prices and annual Sheep and Goats reports, 3 p.m. ET.

Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated by a quarter of the world’s population, most heavily in Asia. 2022 is the year of the tiger. “Like their eponymous zodiac animal, people born in years of the tiger are vigorous and ambitious, daring and courageous, enthusiastic and generous, self-confident with a sense of justice and a commitment to help others for the greater good,” says the site chinesenewyear.net. The spring festival runs for 15 days.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is lead witness at the Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing, “Expanding broadband access: Department of Commerce broadband programs in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” 2:30 p.m. ET, 192 Dirksen.
Purdue University releases Ag Economy Barometer, a monthly gauge of the health of the agricultural economy.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association holds Cattle Industry Convention and trade show, through Thursday, Houston. Speakers will include Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, British ambassador Karen Pierce and Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie.
USDA begins data collection for its first-ever National Agroforestry Survey, concluding on April 5. “The survey will be sent to 11,100 farmers and ranchers nationwide to gather information on the five agroforestry practices used for climate, conservation and production benefits, including windbreaks, silvopasture, riparian forest buffers, alley cropping as well as forest farming and multi-story cropping,” said the USDA.

Groundhog Day. By folklore, if the groundhog sees its shadow today, it means six more weeks of winter. If it doesn’t see its shadow, only six weeks until spring. The epicenter of Groundhog Day is Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with a celebration dating from 1887. Somewhere, a cable TV channel is running the comedy movie “Groundhog Day” today—most appropriately as an all-day marathon.
House Agriculture subcommittee hearing online, “A 2022 review of farm bill conservation programs,” 10 a.m. ET.

House Agriculture subcommittee hearing online, “Sustainability in the livestock sector: Environmental gain and economic viability,” 10 a.m. ET.

USDA makes the first estimate of farm income for 2022 and updates its estimate of income in 2021, now estimated at $166.8 billion, highest since 2013. USDA economist Carrie Litkowski will discuss the estimate during a webinar at 1 p.m. ET.

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