National Ag News for April 26, 2023

Number of U.S. Farms Continues to Decline

New data released Tuesday by USDA’s Economic Research Service shows the number of U.S. farms continues to decline. After peaking at 6.8 million farms in 1935, the number of U.S. farms and ranches fell sharply through the early 1970s. Researchers say the rapidly falling farm numbers in the mid-20th century reflect the growing productivity of agriculture, increased mechanization, and increased nonfarm employment opportunities. Since 1982, the number of U.S. farms has continued to decline, but much more slowly. In 2022, there were 2.0 million U.S. farms, down from 2.2 million in 2007. Similarly, the acres of land in farms continue a downward trend with 893 million acres in 2022, down from 915 million acres ten years earlier. The average farm size in 2022 was 446 acres, only slightly greater than the 440 acres recorded in the early 1970s. The data comes as USDA this year predicts net farm income at $136.9 billion in calendar year 2023, a decrease of $25.9 billion relative to 2022.

Inflation Impacting Organic Fresh Produce Sales

Inflation continued to impact organic fresh produce sales in the first quarter of 2023. Overall dollar sales grew by slightly less than one percent, and volume declined by 3.4 percent from the same year-over-year period. The data was released by the Organic Produce Network this week and included in its Q1 2023 Organic Produce Performance Report. Overall, the total produce department gained 2.6 percent in dollars for Q1 2023 compared to the same period in 2022 and declined by 1.3 percent in volume. Sales of organic fresh produce totaled nearly $2.4 billion for the first quarter of 2023, while overall volume topped 703 million pounds. Conventional produce dollars rose higher than organic dollars by about two percent and declined in volume by a smaller degree than organic. Current trends show both conventional and organic produce volume shrinking year over year. However, while volume for conventional produce is below 2020 and organics are on par with 2020, both are consistently gaining in dollars.

Coalition Urges Protection of IRA Conservation Funds in Farm Bill

A coalition of lawmakers urges the House Agriculture Committee to protect the nearly $20 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act for climate-smart agriculture programs in the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill. The House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition made the request this week in a letter to Committee leadership. The letter states, “The $19.5 billion in Inflation Reduction Act investments for Farm Bill Title II conservation programs and technical assistance within USDA is critical to fighting climate change, and the next Farm Bill represents a significant opportunity to strengthen climate-resilience.” The letter was signed by coalition co-chairs, Representatives Chellie Pingree and Kim Schrier, along with the 16 other members of the task force. The letter explains that because agriculture also holds the potential to store significant quantities of carbon, it represents a unique opportunity to tackle climate change. The coalition was founded in January 2009 to advocate for policies for clean energy innovation, environmental protection, and policies that address global climate change.

USDA Proposes Changes to Salmonella Regulations for Select Poultry Products

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service proposed to declare Salmonella an adulterant in breaded stuffed raw chicken products. Under the proposal, FSIS would consider any breaded stuffed raw chicken products that include a chicken component that tested positive for Salmonella at one colony forming unit per gram before stuffing and breading to be adulterated. FSIS also proposes to carry out verification procedures, including sampling and testing the chicken component of breaded stuffed raw chicken products prior to stuffing and breading, to ensure producing establishments control Salmonella. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the proposal “represents the first step in a broader effort to control Salmonella contamination in all poultry products.” The announcement is part of USDA’s proposed regulatory framework to reduce Salmonella infections linked to poultry products, released in October 2022. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Salmonella bacteria cause approximately 1.35 million human infections in the United States every year, with 23 percent attributed to poultry consumption.

USDA APHIS Announces New Strategic Plan

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Tuesday released a new five-year strategic plan for the agency. The plan incorporates input received from stakeholders on the strategic framework published in June 2022. The plan includes six strategic goals, outlining the objectives and performance measures that set the direction for the agency. The goals focus on protecting agriculture from plant and animal diseases and pests, positioning the agency’s workforce to better meet current and future challenges, delivering solutions that reduce the impacts of zoonotic and emerging diseases, and ecosystem changes, such as climate change, expanding safe trade, managing wildlife diseases, and promoting the welfare of animals. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service protects the health of U.S. agriculture and natural resources against invasive pests and diseases, regulates genetically engineered crops, administers the Animal Welfare Act, and helps people and wildlife coexist. APHIS also certifies the health of U.S. agricultural exports and resolves phytosanitary and sanitary trade issues.

Vroom Joins Stratovation Group Board

Stratovation Group Tuesday announced the addition of Jay Vroom to its Board of Advisors. After retiring as President and CEO of CropLife America, Vroom continues to be active as an agricultural leader and consultant to numerous national agricultural organizations. Vroom says, “Stratovation is bringing exciting new energy to the food and ag market with innovative approaches to both research and strategic advice for clients.” Vroom joins other executives on the Stratovation Group Board of Advisors, including Missouri Farmer Blake Hurst; Russ Green, managing director of MACKAYBEN; Kristen Snow, CEO of Level D&I; Jenn Wells, president of TalentID; and Ward Hill, CEO of Candor Hill. Stratovation Group Chief Operating Officer Mace Thornton says of Vroom, “He’s the kind of person who cares and you want to have in your corner.” Stratovation Group provides market research and intelligence, strategy and consulting, marketing and branding, along with web content services to the agricultural sector.


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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