Last Friday, USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that it is suspending its plan to phase-in the use of electronic ID (RFID) tags for all cattle and bison that would be moved interstate after by January1, 2023 . According information from APHIS the plan was changed in response to an executive order that President Trump issued citing the need for transparency and communication of issues “before placing any new requirements on American farmers and ranchers.” In its statement withdrawing those regulations, APHIS said it has “listened to the industry’s feedback.” R-CALF USA filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Casper, WY, in October with the intent to halt the plan. Despite the executive orders withdrawing the plan, APHIS acknowledged the continuing need for a national animal ID program.
Last week, the USDA published the interim rules concerning Industrial Hemp production in the Federal Register. State agricultural agencies, farmers, hemp processors and even truckers have waited ever since the 2018 Farm Bill Farm Bill over road federal opposition to hemp production. Hopefully, these new rules will provide clarity concerning federal guidelines related to growing, processing and transporting hemp and hemp products. Once state and tribal plans are in place, hemp producers will be eligible for a number of USDA programs, including insurance coverage through Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program. Information about the interim rules and available programs are at farmers.gov/hemp..
U.S. farm bankruptcies in September surged 24% to the highest level since 2011, due to the trade war with China and a year of wild weather that damaged or slowed crop production in the Midwest in the Midwest. According to a recent American Farm Bureau Federation Report, farmers are becoming increasingly dependent on trade aid and other federal programs for income. The report points out that according to the USDA, farm income in 2019, is projected to to reach $88 billion, the highest net farm income since 2014’s $92 billion, but still 29% below 2013’s record high. In addition, nearly 40% of that income or about $33 billion in total, is related to trade assistance, disaster assistance, the farm bill and insurance indemnities, which have not yet been fully paid to farmers and ranchers. However, 2019 farm debt is projected to be a record-high $416 billion, with $257 billion in real estate debt and $159 billion in non-real estate debt. The repayment terms on this debt, according to data from the Kansas City Federal Reserve, reached all-time highs for a variety of troubling categories. Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings in the 12 months ending this past September rose to 580 from a year earlier. That marked the highest number of bankruptcies since 2011, when 676 cases were filed, but the total “remains well below” historical highs seen during the 1980s.
The National FFA Convention and Expo wrapped up in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 2nd, with more than 70,000 students and advisers attending the event. Nationally, the FFA set a new record in 2019 for membership with over 700,000 members, and over a million young people enrolled agricultural education classes in the United States. The organization was established in 1928, and is an integral part of agricultural instruction in most vocational agriculture education classes.
American author and social critic James Howard Kunstler wrote, “Our twenty-first century economy may focus on agriculture, not information.