Larger-than-average ‘dead zone’ is forecast for Gulf of Mexico – June 17, 2024

Larger-than-average ‘dead zone’ is forecast for Gulf of Mexico

Based on streamflow and nutrient runoff from the Midwest and Plains, federal scientists forecast a “dead zone” of 5,827 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, 50 percent larger than last year and three times bigger than the 2035 target for reducing nutrient pollution. This year’s dead zone would be the equivalent of 3.7 million acres, or 14 percent of the farmland in Illinois.

Nutrition advocate Stacy Dean to leave USDA

Stacy Dean, a key figure in U.S. public nutrition programs since the early days of the Biden administration, whose tenure included the lightning-rod increase of SNAP benefits in 2021, will leave USDA in mid-July. President Biden twice nominated Dean to serve as Agriculture undersecretary for nutrition but the nomination never advanced in the Senate.


Swarms of drones: The FAA approved the agricultural use of drone swarms of up to three unmanned aircraft flown by the same pilot, potentially improving productivity for a technology that is used on a relatively small amount of land. (Ambrook Research)

Free meals reduced food insufficiency: Among school-aged children, food insufficiency rates were 1.5 percentage points higher in states that did not offer free meals to all pupils during the 2022-23 school year than in the six states that offered universal free meals. (USDA)

Legal cannabis, alarming residues:
An investigation found that 25 out of 42 cannabis products purchased at California dispensaries, including some of the most popular brands of vapes and pre-rolled weed, carried pesticide residues that exceeded the levels allowed by state or federal law in tobacco. (Los Angeles Times)

USDA farmworker grants: The USDA awarded a combined $50 million to 141 farms and businesses through its Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Program to address labor challenges and strengthen farmworker protections. (USDA)



American Seed Trade Association holds ASTA Leadership Summit 2024, through Wednesday, Nashville.
USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report, 4 p.m. ET.


Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, faces his strongest challenger in a Republican House primary since he was elected in 2002: Wealthy businessman Paul Bondar, who lived in Texas until a few months ago and has spent more than $5 million on his campaign. Virginia also holds congressional primary elections and Georgia holds runoff elections.
Congressional Budget Office releases “An update to the budget and economic outlook: 2024-34,” 2 p.m. ET.
University of Illinois holds a webinar on heat illness, including risk factors and treatment, noon ET.
USDA releases monthly Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook report, 3 p.m. ET.


Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery, based on the day in 1865 when news of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas. It is the newest federal holiday, signed into law by President Biden in 2021. The first national observance of Juneteenth was the following day. Inspired by local celebrations, Texas was the first state, in 1980, to designate June 19 as a state holiday. Almost all states observed Juneteenth in some format before Congress gave it federal recognition.


First day of summer in the northern hemisphere, when the sun reaches its highest and northernmost points in the sky. “Many European cultures hold what are known as Midsummer celebrations at the solstice, which include gatherings at Stonehenge and the lighting of bonfires on hilltops,” says the Farmer’s Almanac.
University of Illinois holds webinar, “Cost-benefit analysis of conservation practices.”


USDA releases monthly Cattle on Feed report, 3 p.m. ET.

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