Radio Script 7-9-19

Good morning. Welcome to the July 9th edition of Farm News and Views.

You may have noticed bees being…Well, busy as bees this spring and early summer tending to flowers in gardens, on fruit trees and even on weeds. Bees help to pollinate a third of the crops we eat, including almonds, apples, avocados and grapes, but bee populations have steadily declined since 2006. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) won’t collect quarterly data this July for the annual Honey Bee Colonies report, citing budget constraints. This report has allowed the USDA, beekeepers, and other interested parties to compare quarterly losses, additions, and movements and to analyze the data on a state-by-state basis.

Although Tyson Foods Inc., the nation’s largest meat company, slaughtered and processed almost two billion chickens last year, the company plans to introduce nuggets made from peas, flaxseed, and other plants this summer. Tyson’s new nuggets, branded “Raised & Rooted will compete with patties and sausages made by start-ups and other large food companies that are jockeying for part of the fast-growing, plant-based foods business. Meat industry analysts project that the total U.S. market for meat alternatives could expand to tens of billions of dollars annually.

According to Bill Northey, undersecretary for farm production and conservation, prevent plant claims for crops that farmers were unable to plant this spring have climbed to $151 million, and they’re expected to pass $1 billion at some point. Typically, a couple of million acres per year qualify for prevented planting insurance, but this year, it could climb to 10 million acres. Most of the claims are based on flooding and excess moisture. Many farmers who were unable to plant cash crops are looking at planting cover crops instead to provide competition for weeds and to improve soil health. But tight supplies of cover crop seeds could be a another problem for farmers this summer.

While the Trump administration has attempted to shield farmers from undue hardship from the trade war with China, major trading partners from China to Canada and the EU have questioned whether Trump’s $16 billion dollar trade relief program violates WTO rules on agricultural subsidies. Specifically, the assistance program could exceed the nation’s WTO subsidy commitments and influence U.S. planting decisions.

Which leads to a U.S.-EU spat. Trump’s trade office recently added another $4 billion worth of European imports — including pork, cheese, olives and pasta — to a list of goods that the U.S. plans to slap tariffs on in retaliation for the EU’s subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

According to a Reuters report, China’s agriculture ministry confirmed a new outbreaks of African swine fever late last week in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. China has reported 144 outbreaks of the incurable disease since August last year, and culled almost 1.2 million pigs. The disease has also impacted pork producers in Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and North Korea.

Although African swine fever is not transmissible to humans, it is deadly to pigs. Once a herd is infected, it’s difficult to determine if surviving pigs still harbor the disease. Pork producers world wide are concerned that the disease may be spread through meat that is either illegally imported to virus free countries or through infected pork products carried in by travelers. The virus can survive for 182 days in salted pork, almost a year in the dried meat, and for three years in frozen pork.

Today’s thought is by Winston Churchill. He said “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

Until Next week. I’m Bob Bragg

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