Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
It's likely that climate change already is affecting world crop production — hurting it in some areas, helping it in others but on balance pushing it lower, according to a new University of Minnesota-led study. "There are winners and losers, and some countries that are already food insecure fare worse," said lead author Deepak Ray of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.
Northeast North Dakota is among the world's best food-producing areas. A newly launched study seeks to examine how much demand the rural area has for locally-grown food, or food purchased within 100 miles of where it's produced. The study is sponsored by the Northern Plains Resource Conservation and Development, which serves Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner counties. It describes its mission as "building partnerships which promote leadership development and the wise use of natural resources."
The use of cover crops is gaining popularity across the nation and the Upper Midwest, too, but some farmers still wonder whether the practice makes economic sense. A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education, or SARE, examines when using cover crops in corn and soybean rotations is prudent financially.
When Jim Chamberlin was 10 years old, he won a blue ribbon in a county fair for his vegetable display. That interest in agriculture — accompanied by a commitment to soil health — has been a big part of his life. Now, Chamberlin, a 55-year-old Deerfield, Minn., farmer and a Crow Wing County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor, is encouraged that farmers statewide show increased interest in soil health. "It's got a lot of momentum," he said of soil health in general and cover crops in particular.
If you ask an Upper Midwest farmer how his or her spring-planted crops are faring this summer, you could get a wide range of answers. North Dakota crops generally are doing well, with South Dakota farmers facing much less-favorable conditions and many ag producers in Montana and Minnesota falling somewhere in between. The weekly crop progress report, released June 24 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, again found a mixed bag. The report reflected conditions on June 23.
An undercover video taken at an Indiana dairy farm captured behavior that's antithetical to what American production livestock believes and practices, two area agriculturalists say. "We make every effort to treat our animals properly. I just can't emphasize enough how important that is to us," said Linda Hanson, a veteran Goodrich, Minn., dairy producer who helps to operate her family dairy farm.
When the growing season turns dry — as it often does in the Upper Midwest — the U.S. Drought Monitor becomes a closely followed source of information for area agriculturalists. Now, the Drought Monitor includes a new feature allowing agricultural producers to submit their own local drought impact and conditions.
I know a guy — you might know someone like him — who hardly ever changes his mind. Once he forms an opinion, he's locked in. Doesn't matter what the experts say. Doesn't matter what's in front of his eyes. He won't budge. And there's no point in trying to engage him in a respectful discussion of the issue: his response is a glare and a defiant, "I'm right!" That attitude is unwise for modern agriculturalists. Ag is evolving so rapidly that all of us involved with it need to modify our thinking when reality dictates doing so.
The U.S. organic market hit a new record high in 2018, reaching $52.5 billion in sales, up 6.3% from the previous year, according to the 2019 Organic Industry Survey released by the Organic Trade Association. Both the organic food market and organic non-food market rose to new highs. Organic food sales climbed 5.9% to $47.9 billion, with organic non-food sales jumping 10.6 percent to $4.6 billion. Organic sales have more than doubled since reaching $24.9 billion in 2010, according to the survey. A few highlights from the report:
U.S. sales of antibiotics for food-animal production, which had been rising steadily for years, dropped 30 percent, by weight, from 2015 to 2017 — potentially affecting livestock producers and consumers, a new government report finds. The decline reflects U.S. restrictions, enacted in 2017, on the use of growth-promoting antibiotics, as well as rising U.S. consumer demand for products raised without antibiotics, according to the report from the Economic Research Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.