Daily Harvest -- 2/3/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Obama proposes to combine food agencies, slash crop insurance
- Agri-Pulse: President Obama is calling for the first time to create a single food-safety agency while also proposing to cut some conservation spending and reviving a failed attempt to slash crop insurance premium subsidies.
Ag Committee chairs blast Obama budget plan
- Agri-Pulse: The chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture committees blasted the Obama administration's renewed proposal to slash premium subsidies for crop insurance.
Open Mic interview with Philip Seng, Pres. and CEO of USMEF
- Agri-Pulse: (Audio) International trade can be a “gold mine” for beef and pork producers as well as the grain growers they rely on for feed.
2015 starts with higher cattle numbers
- Agri-Pulse: (Audio) The U.S. cattle herd is on the rise for the first time in almost a decade.
Farm income’s impact on the Midwest economy
- Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago: While farm income has long been an important driver of midwestern economic activity, the influence of the agricultural sector had been waning until the boom in crop prices of 2004–13.
Down but not out: Farmland market stabilizing
- The Progressive Farmer: In a quick, windshield tour of recent farmland sales, prices are slightly higher than brokers were predicting, having stabilized from lower values this fall.
US freight railroads plan to spend $29B on upgrades in 2015
- The Washington Post: American freight railroads are planning to spend $29 billion this year on upgrades to their tracks, locomotives and other equipment.
Obama budget would pour funds into climate, renewable energy
- Wall Street Journal: President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget plan would pour billions of dollars into climate-change and renewable-energy technologies, and repeal nearly $50 billion in tax breaks from the oil, natural-gas and coal industries.
Energy-pinching Americans pose threat to power grid
- Wall Street Journal: The long-term future of the nation’s electric grid is under threat from an unlikely source—energy-conserving Americans.
Slump in oil prices brings pressure, and investment opportunity
- New York Times: American history is littered with oil busts that created big winners and losers.
Lower oil prices strike at heart of Canada’s oil sands production
- New York Times: For as long as 400-ton dump trucks have been rumbling around the open pit mines of Canada's oil sands, crews from Kal Tire have been on hand to replace and repair their $70,000, 13-foot diameter tires.
Brazil to raise ethanol blend in gasoline to 27 pct on Feb 15
- Reuters: Brazil’s struggling sugar and ethanol mills got more good news on Monday after the government granted an expected increase in the national blend of the biofuel in gasoline to 27 percent on Feb. 15 from the current 25 percent, industry officials said.
FOOD & NUTRITION
America’s 50 most powerful people in food for 2015
- The Daily Meal: Food is power, or at least an instrument of power — economic, political, moral.
Fields of gold: GMO-free crops prove lucrative for farmers
- Wall Street Journal: Last spring, for the first time in 20 years, Indiana farmer Jim Benham planted his fields entirely with soybean seeds that hadn’t been genetically modified to withstand herbicides.
Barack Obama budget: What does it mean for your pizza?
- Wall Street Journal: The White House is proposing to consolidate oversight of the country’s food supply into one federal agency, ending a patchwork regulatory scheme that leaves pizza regulation to two different agencies.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
U.S. lawmakers preparing Cuba telecomms, agriculture bills
- New York Times: U.S. lawmakers are preparing a series of bills to ease U.S. restrictions on trade with Cuba, with plans to introduce them in the Senate in the next two months, senior congressional aides said on Monday.
U.S. trade chief Mike Froman sees prize within reach
- Financial Times: If all goes to plan in the coming months, Mike Froman, US trade representative, is set to land arguably the biggest prize in the country’s recent economic history.
NAFTA at 20: North America’s free-trade area and its impact on agriculture
- USDA’s Economic Research Service: This report examines the integration of North America’s agricultural and food markets as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), implemented in 1994.
Cargill begins selling GMO Syngenta corn seed at center of lawsuits
- Reuters: Cargill Inc has started selling a variety of genetically modified Syngenta AG corn seed that previously disrupted U.S. grain trading now that China has approved imports of the biotech crop.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Here's how to end Iowa's great nitrate fight
- National Public Radio: Three weeks ago, Sara Carlson was driving to her job in Ames, Iowa, when she turned on the radio and heard me talking about nitrates in Iowa's water.
For mule deer, an incredible journey
- New York Times: As a small group of scientists and volunteers waits by the side of a gravel road here, a helicopter swoops down, carrying two blindfolded mule deer in slings.
Southern California could face above-normal rainfall in next 3 months
- LA Times: After one of the driest Januarys ever in California, there may be a glimmer of hope for the parched state: There's a slight chance of above-normal rainfall for Southern California over the next three months and an even chance for the rest, according to the latest climate models.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Obama Wants $1 Billion to Curb Central American Immigration
- New York Times: President Barack Obama wants to spend $1 billion to help curb illegal immigration from three Central American countries, according to the president's budget request.
Report: Immigration Reform Crucial To Midwest Agricultural Success
- Progress Illinois: Current U.S. immigration policy fails to adequately address agricultural industry needs, and congressional reforms are required to strengthen immigrant-dependent farm and food sectors in the Midwest and elsewhere in the county, argues a recent report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Yogurt boom, labor shortage puts New York dairy industry in middle of immigration debate
- The Citizen: Thanks to a spike in yogurt consumption and production, the dairy industry in New York is booming. But with that comes an issue of its own: where to find workers.
Staten Island Chuck Predicts Early Spring and Lives to Tell the Tale
- Wall Street Journal: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio returned to the scene of the Staten Island Zoo Monday, where he watched a groundhog from afar a year after dropping the ceremonial rodent, which later died.
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