WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2016 - Arkansas rice farmers have been hit hard by the recent rains and flooding, but it’s proving difficult to evaluate the damage. That’s because more rain is expected and the damages will likely continue to grow, according to a new report from the USA Rice Federation.

Jarrod Hardke, an agronomist at the University of Arkansas’ Rice Research and Extension Center estimated that 40,000 acres of rice in the northeast of the state has been damaged by the rain. But Hardke also warned that there could be much more loss in the near future and that estimate could more than double to 100,000 acres.

"Knowing where and how far this will carry until the flooding stops depends on additional rain which will just exaggerate the problem," Hardke said in the USA Rice report.
Rice fields can recover after a few days of floods at harvest time, but after a week that becomes much less likely, Hardke said. But after 10 days it’s likely to be a total loss and that’s looking like a strong possibility for a lot of farmers.
Joe Christian, an Arkansas farmer quoted by USA Rice, said: "Lots of acres around me, north of me, are totally lost-- both rice and soybeans. Rice is completely submerged. The Black River and the Cache River have totally overflowed. These farms may not survive and we just can't lose crops right now."  He said he expects 10,000 acres to be listed in Craighead county and 100,000 acres state wide. 

New case of bird flu found in Alaska. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is reporting the discovery of a wild duck infected with highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza in a wildlife refuge in Fairbanks, Alaska.

It’s the first H5N2 discovery in the U.S. since June 2015, but APHIS stressed that virus has not been detected in any commercial poultry operations and the threat to people is low.

Strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza wreaked havoc last year on poultry operations in the Midwest. Tens of millions of egg-laying hens and millions of turkeys had to be culled to stop the spread of the virus and countries around the world banned U.S. poultry and eggs.

A spokeswoman from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service told Agri-Pulse that so far no countries have shunned U.S. poultry or eggs because of the new H5N2 discovery. For more, please see the Agri-Pulse story.

USDA’s Scuse to address need for new beginning farmers. The USDA is continuing to get out its message that the farming sector needs to attract a younger generation of farmers to carry on the business of producing the nation’s food. It will be the focus of a speech by Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse on Monday at the University of Arkansas as USDA kicks off a series of fall forums.

In a statement announcing the Scuse speech, USDA said, “With the average age of the American farmer exceeding 58 years, USDA recognizes the need to bring more people into agriculture.”
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed the issue of the aging farmer population last week at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event to highlight job opportunities for military veterans in the agriculture sector.

“We're going to have a conversation in 2017 and 2018 about a new farm bill and part of that farm bill is going to be a discussion of how we deal with the aging nature of our farmers,” Vilsack said.

Treasury Secretary to preview G20 summit. The Brookings Institute will host U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on Wednesday for a preview of U.S. priority issues at this year’s s G20 leaders’ summit in Hangzhou, China.

The Brookings Institute said it expects U.S. priorities to include the promotion of global growth, preventing the use of exchange rates for economic gains and strengthening financial regulations.

Brazil turns to U.S. for dairy. Brazil, desperate for milk after severe drought has reduced domestic production, is buying a lot more dairy powder from the U.S. than it usually does, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service said in a recent report.

Brazil imposes a 33 percent duty on U.S. dairy, but the South American country has purchased about 1,500 metric tons in the first seven months of 2016, according to Brazilian government data in the report. That’s more than triple the 440 tons that Brazil bought in the same time period last year.

“The dairy industry decided to reduce investments because of the risk due to the lack of the water supply. This scenario resulted in lower domestic milk production, which affected retail prices and milk availability in the market.”

Brazil first turned to Argentina and Uruguay to buy dairy powder, but it wasn’t enough to meet the Brazilian shortfall, the FAS report said. From January through July this year, Brazil has imported 130,300 tons of dairy powder, a 31 percent increase from the first seven months of 2015.

Agri-Pulse is in Iowa this week. Along with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Agri-Pulse is sponsoring a Rural Infrastructure Summit at the Iowa State Center's Scheman Building, in Ames, IA today. The summit, featuring an all-star lineup of speakers, will be held from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm, followed by a networking reception. 
He said it: “We are going to end this war on the American farmer. That includes our plan to lower the tax rate on family farms down to 15 percent, and to stop the double-taxation of family farms at death – helping to ensure that the family farm tradition in Iowa continues to thrive and flourish.” That was Donald Trump, speaking Saturday at Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride in Des Moines, Iowa. He focused largely on immigration issues, but also pledged to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard and eliminate “job killing regulations like the Waters of the U.S. rule.”
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