Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation
Farmland Values Dip Amid Lower Crop Prices
Farmland values have dropped for only the second time since the 1980s farm crisis prompted a wave of foreclosures. The Department of Agriculture last week issued a report that shows farmland values in the lower 48 states declined $10 to average $3,010 per acre. Cropland values declined one percent to average $4,090 per acre, while pastureland was unchanged at $1,330 per acre. Lower farm income over the last few years had not impacted land values until recently. Bloomberg reports the trend in land prices is likely to be similar to the 1980s, when values fell for three years. While the current skid may not match the magnitude of that slump, analysts say the decline is likely to continue. The biggest drop was in Kansas, down 7.4 percent to average $1,880 per-acre. The Corn Belt remained the most expensive region, even as prices fell 0.9 percent to average $6,290 per acre. In February, USDA said declining commodity prices will push farm income down 2.8 percent to $54.8 billion this year, less than half of the 2013 record.
House Leadership says ‘No Reason’ to Hold TPP Vote
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that he saw no point in bringing up the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal for a vote during the lame-duck session of Congress. Ryan followed up the comment by saying it’s because “we don’t have the votes,” according to Reuters. Despite both U.S. presidential candidates bashing the 12-country trade deal on the campaign trail, Obama administration officials have pledged to make a major push in the coming months to persuade the Republican-majority Congress to pass TPP. But Ryan said the Obama administration had negotiated a deal that “cost them dozens of votes in Congress.” He called for the President to renegotiate some components of the trade agreement, including some agriculture and labor provisions. Ryan was doubtful that the changes would happen, providing a grim outlook for getting approval for the trade agreement.
Study Finds Consumers Support GMO labeling
A new study finds 81 percent of consumers say they approve of the GMO labeling requirement passed by Congress last month and signed into law by President Barack Obama. The study was published by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The survey also found 31 percent of respondents indicated they would be much less likely, while 18 percent indicated they would be somewhat less likely, to purchase a food product if they learned that it contained genetically modified ingredients. Those who say they are less likely to purchase foods if they contain GM ingredients also say they are more likely to scan smart labels with their cell phone to find out if products contain GM ingredients. Yet, the survey found just four out of 10 consumers say they would scan smart labels to learn about food products in the store. The study surveyed just more than 1,000 adults and was conducted July 21st-25th, before President Obama signed the labeling law on July 29th.
No GMO Wheat Found in South Korea Imports
South Korea officials say inspectors have not found any unapproved genetically modified wheat following tests of imports from the Pacific Northwest United States. That testing follows the discovery of unapproved GM wheat in Washington State which prompted Japan and South Korea to suspend some U.S. imports, according to Reuters. South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said Friday it had tested imports of wheat and flour after receiving a GM wheat testing method from the United States earlier this month. South Korea, the fifth largest market for U.S. wheat, had suspended clearance of wheat for food use and stepped up quarantine measures for U.S. milling and feed wheat shipments in the wake of the GM wheat discovery. The ministry added it would continue to test shipments of U.S. wheat and flour for GMO traits and reject the shipments if any rogue strain of wheat is detected.
China Extends Cotton Stockpile Sales
China will continue to sell state-owned cotton reserves through September, a month beyond the nation’s original intentions. A joint statement from the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance for China say the move comes as demand to buy the cotton is high, according to Pro Farmer. The statement also said the total amount of cotton auctioned could exceed the two million metric tons originally slated for sale. China has already sold 1.7 million metric tons of cotton reserves so far. The sales started in May as China’s massive stockpiles, accumulated through an abandoned price support scheme, were overshadowing world cotton markets. Up until this year, China was the world’s top cotton purchaser.
Wal-Mart donated $1 Million for Conservation Efforts by Rice Farmers
The Wal-Mart Foundation announced a $1 million grant last week to Ducks Unlimited to support its partnership with the USA Rice Federation. The partnership with the retail giant’s charitable arm focuses on conserving soil, water and wildlife in wetlands. Politico reports the grant will mainly be used for technical assistance to train farm owners, operators and workers along the lower Mississippi River and along the Gulf Coast in conservation practices. The USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Stewardship Partnership was established in 2013. The partnership secured a $10 million grant from the Department of Agriculture in 2014. However, only 10 percent of that grant is dedicated to advising interested farmers. Organizers say the donation from Wal-Mart will complement those efforts in assisting farmers with conservation practices.