17 JAN

Record US corn crop possible despite drought-Texas A&M economist

U.S. corn production, slashed dramatically by drought in 2012, could rebound to a record-large crop this year if yields improve moderately, said an agricultural economist from Texas A&M University on Monday.

The economist, David Anderson, also said pork production could top beef in 2014, pushing beef into third place in U.S. meat production. Poultry and pork production are on the rise while beef is held back by high feed costs and drought-damaged grassland. "What we’re trying to do is make it to the next crop," Anderson said, describing how livestock producers face several more months, at a minimum, of tight feed supplies.

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17 JAN

USDA offers loans to farmers who grow for locals

With interest in locally grown food soaring, the federal government said Tuesday it has created a small loan program to help community farmers who might not be able to borrow money from banks.

Call it seed money. The low-interest "microloans" of up to $35,000 are designed to aid startup costs, bolster existing family-run farms and help minority growers and military veterans who want to farm. Over the last three years, there has been a 60 percent increase in local growers who sell directly to consumers or farmers markets, Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack said. Kay Jensen, an organic farmer who grows broccoli, strawberries and tomatoes in Sun Prairie, Wis., saw two immediate benefits from the program – paperwork would go from about 30 pages to seven, and it would be easier to borrow a manageable sum. She said she might consider a loan for $3,000 to $10,000 to expand her irrigation systems. Read More


17 JAN

Mexico: High Path Avian Influenza H7N3 Outbreak in Aguascalientes

SENASICA reported that the outbreaks were located in both the San Francisco de los Romo and Aguascalientes City municipalities. These areas are approximately 22 kilometers from one another. The notice indicates that signs of the event first occurred on January 3, 2013, when a San Francisco de los Romo producer noticed clinical signs of avian influenza and notified appropriate officials. On January 7, 2013, SENASICA officially confirmed through virus isolation that the problem was AH7N3 virus – with a 99 percent similarity in the genetic sequence to the June 2012 outbreak (See MX2040, MX2043, MX2044, MX2053). In addition, during this time SENASICA conducted active surveillance of the area and detected the outbreak in Aguascalientes City. Sanitary authorities proceeded to slaughter 284,755 layers and introduce other quarantine measures (e.g., restricted movement and disinfection). SENASICA has reported that they have intensified epidemiological efforts and issued 6 million doses of vaccines to farms located in the surrounding perimeter. (NOTE: There are reportedly 7 farms (2 layer and 5 broiler) in the close proximity to the 2 outbreak sites and an additional 15 farms (2 more layer and 13 more broiler) in the surrounding area.) Also, SENASICA established 7 verification and inspection points across the state to prevent unauthorized movements of live birds, their products, and by-products. Read More
15 JAN

Economic and financial conditions bode well for US agriculture

Bolstered by strong demand from developing countries, the falling dollar, and the growing importance of biofuels, U.S. agriculture enjoyed several years of high prices and strong demand prior to the 2008-09 recession. The same factors helped maintain high agricultural prices throughout the recession. Agriculture’s relatively strong balance sheets and low overall use of debt entering and exiting the recession provide a financial base for future growth.  Because of strong demand for agricultural commodities and products, real U.S. farm income has been robust since 2004. This period of growth enabled farmers to improve their overall liquidity and strengthen their balance sheets.  Read More

15 JAN

USDA report bad news for poultry processors

USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report on Friday predicted tighter stocks of U.S. corn and prices remaining in the $6.80 to $8.00 a bushel range.

USDA forecast by the end of the 2012/13 marketing year, corn stocks would tighten to 602 million bushels, down from 647 million bushels predicted a month ago and below the average traders’ guess of 667 million bushels ahead of the report.

Higher expected feed and residual corn use more than offsetting reduced prospects for corn exports, according to USDA. The agency raised its forecast of feed and residual corn use by 300 million bushels on higher expected beef, pork, and poultry production. Read More

15 JAN

Poultry Science showcases papers relating to strategies for advancing the sustainability and safety

Current issue of Poultry Science showcases papers relating to strategies for advancing the sustainability and safety of U.S. poultry
The February issue of Poultry Science, which was made available online, brings to a wider audience a selection of eight important papers highlighting recent advancements in U.S. poultry sustainability, food safety and other challenges presented at PSA’s 2012 annual meeting at the University of Georgia in July. Poultry Science is a journal published by the Poultry Science Association.

Five of the papers in the February issue were presented at the meeting’s keynote symposium, "Tomorrow’s Poultry: Sustainability and Safety." They address a range of topics including immune nutrition, gut ecology, plant-derived antimicrobials, antimicrobial peptides, processing, and packaging. The remaining three papers were presented at a symposium entitled "Next Generation Sequencing: Applications for Food Safety and Poultry Production Symposium." They topics covered range from the role of molecular genetics in poultry production to the use of genome sequencing as a tool for combating Campylobacter jejuni, a leading form of foodborne illness.

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10 JAN

Increased food costs due to US ethanol policy are eating American family budgets

A new study released yesterday demonstrates the dramatic change in U.S. food affordability trends since the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) came into being in 2005. Dr. Thomas Elam, president of FarmEcon, LCC, the study’s author, shows that compared to long term trends, in 2012 the average family of four saw about a $2,000 increase in food costs, meaning that for the first time since the 1970s, food is becoming less affordable. For the country’s food spending, the current dollar above-trend 2012 food bill was $162 billion. In perspective, Elam notes, the increase in food spending is about the same as annual consumer spending on vehicle repairs, college education or telecommunications. Given the outlook for sustained high major crop prices through mid-2013, we are likely to see another very large 2013 food bill increase, Elam predicts in the study. A major component of the current decline in food affordability is, like the 1970s, booming grain and soybean prices. Unlike the 1970s, it is not exports this time around; grain and soybean exports are actually declining. Rather, the primary cause is booming use of corn in fuel ethanol production in the face of declining corn production. Read More

10 JAN

Census provides opportunity to grow the future of agriculture

It’s not every day that a walk to your mailbox leads to an opportunity to help shape farm programs, boost rural services and grow your farm future. But for producers across the country, that opportunity will soon become a reality. The 2012 Census of Agriculture, the only source of consistent and comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation, is currently being mailed to millions of farmers and ranchers across the United States. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census provides detailed data covering nearly every facet of U.S. agriculture. It looks at land use and ownership, production practices, expenditures and other factors that affect the way farmers do business and succeed in the 21st Century.  Read More 
10 JAN

APHIS publishes final rule on traceability for livestock moving interstate

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today published in the Federal Register its final rule on traceability requirements for livestock moved interstate. Though the final rule mainly focuses on cattle, it leaves in place existing poultry-related traceability regimes and requires records be retained for poultry for two years.

The rule becomes effective March 11, 2013. Although generally supportive of agency efforts to implement traceability programs, the National Chicken Council (NCC) in comments to the proposed rule, voiced concern with APHIS’s decision to apply a one-size fits all, cattle-based traceability system to poultry and specifically with APHIS’s proposed requirement that records be kept for five years for all species. The preamble to the final rule recognizes the effectiveness of the existing poultry traceability program under the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) and leaves that program largely in place. Read More