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An overview of the U.S. dairy industry shows a decline in the number of total milk cow operations within the past eight years. Despite this decline, the number of large operations has increased along with overall milk production, according to a report by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. Based on the report, there were 65,000 milk cow operations in 2009 compared to 97,460 in 2001, a 33 percent decline; however, milk production increased 15 percent to 189,320 million pounds in 2009 compared to 165,332 in 2001. The number of smaller operations dropped from 94,665 in 2001 to 61,650 in 2009, while larger operations with 2,000 or more heads increased by 128 percent. Read the report.
All wheat production totaled 2.22 billion bushels in 2010, a two percent drop from August estimates, but slightly ahead of 2009, according to a USDA Small Grains 2010 Summary report. The report, released today, shows a record-high yield of 46.7 bushels per acre, which is 2.3 billion bushels higher than last year and 1.8 bushels higher than the previous record set in 2008. Review the report.
The stink bug is quickly becoming the nuisance pest of the year. Once thought to be harmless to crops, the bug — which entered the United States 12 years ago — is damaging fruit, sweet corn and soybeans. Dairy farmers fear that feed with dead stink bugs in it will make milk that smells like stink bugs. Producers suffering from the foul-smelling pest are advised to use lethal broad-spectrum pesticides to protect their crops. (Lancaster Online) Read more.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement today urging Congress to take action and fund the Pigford II settlement agreement. Vilsack stated “Black farmers throughout the country unfortunately faced discrimination in past decades when trying to obtain services from USDA. This discrimination is well-documented, the courts have affirmed this discrimination, and Congress has twice acknowledged the need to settle with those who have suffered from this discrimination. It is now time for Congress to pass the funding so the victims of this discrimination can get the opportunity to receive the compensation that they are due.” The settlement will provide $1.25 billion to African-American farmers who suffered racial discrimination in USDA farm loan programs.
Extreme weather patterns are on the rise globally. With flooding, heat waves and excessive rainfall becoming the norm, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that the rash of “whacky” weather is a result of climate change. Yet, legislators and other officials have ignored rural America when it comes to climate change legislation. “Rather than writing farmers off, we should be focusing our attention on them — and more importantly, listening to them,” said Commentator Jim Harkness. “We will depend on their wisdom to keep us fed as extreme storms become the new normal and on their good practices — like planting buffers along waterways and using cover crops — to hold the soil, filter our water and help keep flooding at bay when we're hit with the next round of torrential rains.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune) Read more.
With GPS technology, wire fences and wooden posts may be a thing of the past when it comes to containing livestock. The latest in herd control places a GPS tracking device around a cow’s neck and with a few pieces of hardware and software, auditory cues can be sent where and when they are needed, creating a directional virtual fence. The GPS system can locate cattle and send signals to keep them away from forbidden areas. (USDA Blog) Read more.
Officials in Vermont and New York are looking out for the safety of their farmers. Citing tractors as the number one cause of farming deaths, officials kicked off “Rebates for Roll Bars,” which offers to pay 70 percent of the cost to add roll bars to tractors or seat belts to older models. The rebate could add up to $700 in savings. (WPTZ.com) Read more.
Injecting liquid manure below the soil surface of crop fields could help dairy farmers reduce ammonia emissions, according to a study by the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Based on the study, the process — which injects manure into the subsurface of a field — increased nitrogen capture in the soil and produced a 65 percent lower emission rate than surface broadcast or shallow incorporation. Learn more.
Tobacco quota holders and producers not enrolled in the Tobacco Transition Program (TTPP) have until Nov.1 to sign up and receive a 2011 TTPP payment. The TTPP, also known as the tobacco buy-out program, was designed to help U.S. tobacco producers transition to the free market. Enrollment must be completed at the Farm Service Agency county office where the contract holder’s or producer’s farm records are maintained. Read more.
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to raise the current ethanol blend cap from 10 to 15 by next month. If approved, the E15 blend will be available by next spring. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he expects EPA to have a decision by mid-October, after the Department of Energy completes its testing of the higher blend on 2007 and newer vehicles. (Brownfield) Learn more.