Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
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.
A few years ago, a non-farmer asked me how he could tell whether a farmer is doing a good job. Reading between the lines, it appeared he was trying to check up on one of his in-laws, a farmer to whom the non-farmer rented land. Having no desire to get involved in family intrigue, I gave this honest but bland answer:
One of America's most popular agricultural conservation programs is taking applications again, albeit on a restricted scale. The Continuous Conservation Reserve Program, often known as the CCRP, reopens June 3 and will remain open though Aug. 23.
GMO plants and crops are controversial worldwide — especially so in Europe, where they're strictly regulated. Now, a new study by Danish researchers finds that the regulations aren't justified and may stand in the way of important agricultural innovation. In a related development, the Danish Council of Ethics this spring released recommendations that include reevaluating Europe's anti-GMO stance and that call on the European Union to change its regulatory system. It's unclear what effect, if any, the council's opinion might have on EU GMO policy.
I was sitting in the Agweek booth at an area farm show early this winter when a farmer came up to visit. I had never met him, but knew him by reputation as a good farmer and level-headed guy. He said some nice things about my writing and Agweek in general. Then he said, "I just wish you guys had more positive stories. There's too much negative news now." I mentioned the cover stories I'd written recently, all positive. I mentioned that most of the stories in the current issue of Agweek were positive.
Britton Fuglseth's agricultural career didn't enjoy a promising beginning. When she took her first ag class in seventh grade at Fertile-Beltrami School in northwest Minnesota, her initial reaction was, "This is stupid. I don't want to be here." But the 18-year-old high school senior now embraces both agriculture and FFA, so much so that she was selected to a Minnesota State FFA leadership post — and even plans to become a high school agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor herself.