READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 9th…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 9th…

Food Price Index Down Slightly

The monthly Food Price Index compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations dipped slightly in November. Released Thursday, the index averaged 171.3 points in November, only 0.4 percent below its October level, but still 10.4 percent higher than November 2015. The month-to-month small decline marked a departure from an almost uninterrupted rising trend in the index since the start of the year. November’s decrease was driven by a sharp dip in sugar prices, which more than offset a strong rebound in the price of vegetable oils. Cereal grains, vegetable oils, and dairy prices all increased for the month. Meat prices remained relatively unchanged from October. Dairy prices across the globe increased near two percent on rising usage and robust demand. Meanwhile, the fall in international sugar prices was largely attributed to a weakening of the Brazilian currency with respect to the U.S. Dollar, which stimulated sugar exports from Brazil, the world’s largest sugar producer and exporter.

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Most U.S. Farms are Family Operated

A new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture released this week shows 99 percent of U.S. farms were family farms in 2015. Family farms, according to USDA, are classified as a farm where the principal operator and his or her relatives owned the majority of the business. The report shows that small family farms—those with less than $350,000 in annual gross cash farm income—accounted for about 90 percent of U.S. farms, half of all farmland, and a quarter of the value of production. Midsize and large-scale family farms, which have at least $350,000 in gross farm cash income, made up only nine percent of U.S. farms -but contributed most of the value of production. Over the past 25 years, production has shifted to midsize and large-scale farms. However, small family farms did produce a relatively large share of two commodities in 2015: 57 percent of all poultry and eggs and 52 percent of the nation’s hay crop.

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Canada Increases Bovine TB Quarantine

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced earlier this week the federal quarantine in Alberta and Saskatchewan now includes about 50 premises as inspectors continue the investigation into a micro bovine tuberculosis outbreak. The list includes more than 26,000 animals. The number of cattle confirmed to be infected with TB has remained at six since last month. However, roughly 10,000 some cattle may have been exposed to bovine TB. All the infected animals and animals exposed to TB have been or are due to be destroyed, and all farms now under quarantine are scheduled for on-farm testing. Online publication AgCanada reports the testing could be completed by early January, given the current pace of testing. The federal agency says compensation teams are still meeting with ranchers and all affected producers have been provided with a point of contact with the government.

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EPA Finds Widespread Nutrient Pollution in U.S. Lakes

A report by the Environmental Protection Agency released Thursday finds four in 10 lakes suffer from too much nitrogen and phosphorus. The national assessment is part of a series of aquatic surveys that outline the condition of U.S. water resources. The report says low concentrations of the herbicide atrazine were found in 30 percent of lakes along with a toxic algae in 39 percent of lakes, but below levels of concern. Atrazine is currently under review by the EPA in a slow and lengthy evaluation to consider limiting the herbicide’s use. Farm groups maintain atrazine’s effectiveness and safety is well documented with nearly 7,000 scientific studies conducted on the product. The EPA says nutrient pollution is one of America’s most widespread and costly environmental and public health challenges.

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Immigration Crackdown Could Increase Food Prices

A blog by the Washington Post says if President-elect Donald Trump pursues a major crackdown on illegal immigration, prices of some fruits and vegetables may soar higher. Trump has promised a crackdown on the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. However, a deportation effort would take workers away from agriculture. Undocumented workers account for 67 percent of people harvesting fruit and 61 percent of all employees on vegetable farms, and as many as half of all workers picking crops. Agricultural economists say any interruption in the workforce would ripple throughout the food system. Some of the effects feared include farm bankruptcies, labor shortages and high priced food items. The Washington Post even ponders that a crackdown on immigration could lead to more food imports from other nations, undermining Trump’s effort to boost American industry. Still, farm labor accounts for only a small share of most foods, about 1.6 cents of every dollar on average. An Agriculture Department Economic Research Service economist predicts the impact of stricter immigration policy on grocery costs overall would be “very small.”

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High School, College Students Unaware of Ag Jobs Available

A new study shows the agriculture industry adds nearly 60,000 jobs annually, yet only three percent of high school and college students are aware of the job prospects in agriculture. The survey, sponsored by America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders, a Monsanto Fund program, shows just 13 percent of high school and college students are interested in pursuing a career in the agriculture industry. The survey also identified several misconceptions that contributed to the findings. For example, only 35 percent of high school and college students believed careers in agriculture were technology-driven. The survey questioned 1,000 respondents and found 45 percent were interested in technology careers, while 40 percent were interested in arts and entertainment careers. To raise awareness of the job prospects in agriculture, the Monsanto Fund is supporting the America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders program, which will award more than $500,000 in scholarships in 2017. Students can learn more online at Grow Ag Leaders dot com (www.GrowAgLeaders.com).

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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