Good morning, this is Bob Bragg with the May 7th edition of Farm News and Views.
The story at the top of ag news today is President Trump’s threat to impose additional tariffs on China May 10th if the U.S. and China don’t reach a trade agreement this week. Commodity markets were sharply down yesterday for corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and hogs. These commodities were already facing stiff headwinds due to overproduction and the yearlong trade wars with our leading trading partners. A done deal with China this week would garner a huge sigh of relief from U.S. farmers, many of whom are struggling with the sixth year of low commodity prices.
As if farmers and ranchers didn’t have enough drama, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassleyy and five other leading Republican senators met with President Trump at the White House last week to let him know that if he wants the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement ratified, he needs to drop the steel and aluminum tariffs as well as cut a deal with House Democrats. They told Trump that as long as the metals tariffs remain in place, he won’t have enough votes to approve the deal in the GOP-controlled Senate.
The complexity of getting trade deals approved is illustrated by the number of interests involved in what may seem like a straight forward process. Now, cattleman are organizing a long-shot bid to persuade lawmakers to include country-of-origin labeling in the legislation to ratify the U.S. -Mexico Canada trade pact. Cattleman are concerned that without mandatory labeling for meat, the trade deal will favor the multinational corporations that dominate the meatpacking industry.
This isn’t breaking news, but it illustrates flaws in the Better Living Through Chemistry slogan made popular by DuPont from 1935 until the early eighties. Cows on Art Schaap’s dairy farm near Clovis, New Mexico, have been quarantined, and he’s not sold their milk since October 2018, because his water wells are contaminated with a family of synthetic chemicals, known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl , collectively known as “PFAS” chemicals. They’ve been around since the 1940s, and are toxic, but the problem is that they just don’t go away and are sometimes called “forever chemicals. “PFAS, is used in foam at the nearby Cannon Airforce Base for training fire fighters. While the USDA is paying Schaap, 75 percent of the value of the milk that gets dumped every day, the Air Force reportedly is refusing to pay for filters that would purify the farm’s well water.
Now for a sweeter story. Honey consumption has doubled in the last ten years nationwide. Since 2008, Americans have increased honey consumption from about a pound of honey a year to two pounds per person, according to Margaret Lombard of the National Honey Board. Some of this increased consumption is as a result of the growth of honey as a food ingredient over the last decade. Colorado is at the leading edge of honey’s popularity as an ingredient with producers creating and selling Honey beer, Honey Whiskey, Honey Hemp and honey CBD oil.
Since we’re talking about a bee products, let’s talk about some other bees. Colorado is reportedly home to 946 native bee species. Colorado State University Extension, CSU College of Agricultural Sciences and the Colorado Department of Agriculture are entering the 2nd year of a 3 year grant program to monitor honey bee health and educate new beekeepers about honey bee husbandry.
Todays thought is, Words are like bees – some create honey and others leave a sting.
Until next week, I’m Bob Bragg