National Ag News for June 22, 2022

Number of U.S. Farms Continues Slow Decline

New data released Tuesday from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows the number of U.S. farms continues to decline slowly. After peaking at 6.8 million farms in 1935, the number of U.S. farms and ranches fell sharply through the early 1970s. Rapidly falling farm numbers in the mid-20th century reflected the growing productivity of agriculture and increased nonfarm employment opportunities. Since then, the number of U.S. farms has continued to decline, but much more slowly. In 2021, there were 2.01 million U.S. farms, down from 2.20 million in 2007. With 895 million acres of farmland nationwide in 2021, the average farm size was 445 acres, only slightly greater than the 440 acres recorded in the early 1970s. Meanwhile, technological developments in agriculture have influenced changes in the farm sector. Innovations have enabled continuing output growth without adding much to inputs. As a result, total farm output nearly tripled between 1948 and 2019.

Growers Disappointed Supreme Court Decides Not to Hear Glyphosate Case

Agriculture groups expressed disappointment regarding a Supreme Court decision denying consideration of the case Monsanto v. Hardeman, which pertains to state glyphosate health warnings. A coalition of groups issued a joint statement regarding the decision Tuesday, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, and National Cotton Council. The joint statement claims, “We are disappointed the Supreme Court has decided not to hear this case, which has significant implications for our global food supply and science-based regulation.” On May 23, the groups sent a letter signed by 54 agricultural groups to President Biden urging him to withdraw a Solicitor General’s brief submitted to the Supreme Court advising against taking up the case. The Solicitor General’s brief argues federal pesticide registration and labeling requirements do not preclude states from imposing additional labeling requirements, even if those requirements run counter to federal findings.

Rural Bankers Expecting Recession

Rural bankers say they anticipate a U.S. recession, according to the latest Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index. The region’s overall reading for June slumped to 49.8, its lowest level since September 2020, and down from May’s 57.7. The index ranges between 0 and 100, with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral. Approximately 92.9 percent of rural bankers surveyed rate the likelihood of a U.S. recession above 50 percent. Only 7.1 percent rated a recession probability below 50 percent. However, on average, bank CEOs expect net farm income for grain farmers to be 12.6 percent above 2021 levels. The region’s farmland price index for June advanced to 76.8 from May’s 72.0, marking the 21st straight month that the index has moved above growth neutral. The June farm equipment-sales index climbed to 71.4 from May’s healthy 66.9. This was the 19th straight month that the index has advanced above growth neutral.

USDA Trade Mission Underway in London

U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh (Bro-NAW) arrived Tuesday in London to launch a USDA agribusiness trade mission to the United Kingdom. Bronaugh is joined by a delegation of representatives from U.S. agribusinesses, farm organizations and state departments of agriculture, who are interested in exploring export opportunities in the United Kingdom. Bronaugh says, “The United Kingdom is a valued trading partner whose consumers demand the best quality products at a competitive price,” adding, “I’m excited for mission participants to engage with potential customers for their world-class agricultural products.” In 2021, the United Kingdom imported $1.9 billion of U.S. agricultural products, according to USDA. Trade mission participants engage directly with potential customers, receive in-depth market briefings, and participate in site visits. The USDA-sponsored trade mission to the United Kingdom is one of four international trade missions Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in March. The United Kingdom trade mission concludes later this week.

USDA Announces Awards for Dairy Innovation Initiatives

The Department of Agriculture this week announced $80 million in awards under the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives. The awards support processing capacity expansion, on-farm improvements, and technical assistance services to producers. The funds are being awarded non-competitively to the four current Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives at the California State University Fresno, the University of Tennessee, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, and the University of Wisconsin. Additionally, USDA announced $22.9 million through a Request for Applications for funding provided by fiscal year 2022 appropriations to support the same Initiatives. The awards were made possible by supplemental funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, says, “The Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives have proven to be an invaluable resource for dairy farmers and businesses because of their ability to provide targeted resources and funding through sub-awards at the local and regional level, maximizing impact.”

Canada Cattlemen Oppose Warning Labels on Ground Beef

Canadian Cattle producers are raising concerns with Health Canada’s proposed regulations to put a front-of-package warning label on ground beef. The proposal from Health Canada is part of several changes to Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations. The changes would require the usage of warning labels for foods high in sodium, sugar or saturated fat. If Health Canada moves forward with the proposed regulation, Canada will be the only country in the world to put a warning label on ground beef. This move would likely impact consumer confidence and be damaging to Quebec and other beef producers across the country. Approximately 90 percent of Canadians eat ground beef weekly, and adding a warning label on ground beef would send the wrong signal to Canadian consumers, according to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. Philippe Alain, CCA board member from Quebec, says, “The proposed policy change by Health Canada is misguided and will mislead consumers.”


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.

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