Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
WASHINGTON, D.C. — I'm here in Washington, D.C., for the annual convention of the North American Agricultural Journalists, the professional group for U.S. and Canadian ag journalists. Many Agweek readers belong to professional organizations or commodity groups, and they understand the benefits of events like this one. Listening to knowledgeable speakers, meeting policymakers, rubbing shoulders with people who share your concerns and interests — the benefits are many and real.
If you're involved in Upper Midwest agriculture — or even if you're not — you may have heard about a surge in farmer suicides. Sometimes statistics are tricky to interpret, but it seems fairly clear that more farmers are taking their own lives. That's alarming, or should be, to all of us involved in ag. The suicide of even one farmer is one too many.
Concern about farmer suicide is growing, and agriculturalists and people living in rural communities have a vital role in addressing the problem, a farm stress expert says.
A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report confirms what Upper Midwest agriculturalists already knew: Spring planting has yet to start in any meaningful way, with repeated snows and cool temperatures keeping farmers out of their fields. But other USDA statistics show what Upper Midwest farmers may be reluctant to remember: It's still just early April, and planting generally doesn't begin in earnest in much of the region until mid April.
FARGO, N.D. — America's food system is undergoing "extraordinary changes," which an upcoming film viewing and panel discussion will explore. The documentary "Farmers for America" will be shown April 12 at the Scheels Arena Conference Room in Fargo, N.D. The event, from 6-9 p.m will feature a free screening of the film followed by a panel discussion of farmers. It's hosted by the Northern Small Farm Alliance in partnership with North Dakota Farmers Union and Cass County Farmers Union.
Bart Schott has traveled on trade missions, sometimes multiple times, to Columbia, Brazil, Panama, Cuba, China, India and Vietnam. He's seen "grocery ships" and met with foreign leaders. And his experiences tell him that foreign consumers want our food and that current trade conflicts ultimately will be resolved satisfactorily for U.S. agriculture. "I'm confident it's going to work out in the end," he said, citing his trust in top U.S. Department of Agriculture officials and his first-hand knowledge of foreign demand for U.S. food.
U.S. farmers will plant a little more wheat and a little less corn and soybeans this spring. That’s generally true for Upper Midwest producers, too. Those are among the projections in the annual prospective plantings report, released Thursday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The three key sets of statistics:
Concern about farmer suicides and farmers' mental health is growing, and so the North Dakota State University Extension Service is involved a in three-hour workshop on Thursday, March 29, that aims to help health care providers and others. The free event, which begins at 9 a.m., will be offered through the Interactive Video Network on the NDSU campus in Fargo and at several sites across North Dakota.
With a few exceptions, U.S. farms continue to consolidate. Even so, family farms continue to account for most U.S. food production. Those are among the conclusions of "Three Decades of Consolidation in U.S. Agriculture," a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. James MacDonald, an ERS economist and one of the report's authors, discussed it with reporters during an online presentation March 27.
Two conservation-minded farm organizations are applauding a bipartisan bill that would maintain funding and acreage levels for the farm bill's three largest conservation programs. "We're excited to see this bipartisan support for conservation in the farm bill," Anna Johnson, policy analyst with the Center for Rural Affairs, told Agweek. Four senators — Iowa Republicans Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley as well as Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania — have introduced the Give our Resources the Opportunity to Work, or GROW, Act.