Radio Script 3-19-19

Good morning! This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the March 19th edition of Farm News and Views.

I’ve recently reported on lab grown meat and fish products that are expected to come to grocery stores in the near future. Now a product that mimics eggs, made from mung beans, will soon be rolled out nationally by a company called, Just Eggs. (They plan to distribute the products through national retailers.)

There’s a tomato based food fight brewing between Florida and Texas. In February, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the U. S. would withdraw from a trade pact with Mexico when Flordia growers complained that the pact hadn’t stopped Mexico from dumping tomatoes onto the U. S. Market. Then a group of 80 Texas businesses that would be affected by termination of the pact began pushing back, arguing that the U. S. should renegotiate the deal, rather than kill it.

Six months ago, the Department of Agriculture announced that it would purchase 1.2 million dollars of American pork, beef and produce for food banks and school lunch programs to help alleviate the effects of the trade wars on producers. As of today, the agency has purchased only 11% of the food that it promised to buy.(Pork producers have been especially hard hit by the trade scuffles with Mexico and China, because the trade retaliation lists cover about 40% of total pork exports.)

On Friday, U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection agents intercepted an illegal shipment of a million pounds of pork from China that came into the port of New York/Newark. The shipment was hidden in over 50 shipping containers that held a variety of other products in addition to the pork. It was the largest seizure of agricultural products in American history. The shipment was significant because of the African Fever outbreak that is ravaging pork production in all of the Chinese provinces, Mongolia and northern Viet Nam, and would be devastating to pork producers if it is introduced into the U. S. The virus is viable for 150 to 180 days in fresh pork, and indefinitely in frozen meat.

Rye cover crops help to improve soil health. USDA ARS by Stephen Ausmus

Possibly striking a blow for common sense farming practices, General Mills has recently announced that they will begin an initiative to support Regenerative Agriculture by developing tools and resources that will help farmers transition their operations to practices that will lead to healthy soils, above and below ground biodiversity and to improve participating farmer’s economic resilience. The initiative hopes to adapt one million acres of farmland to Regenerative Agriculture practices by 2030. It also includes providing training and technical support for participating farmers through a $650,000 grant to a non-profit organization, the conversion of 34,000 acres of conventionally farmed land in South Dakota to regenerative agriculture practices, and planting 3,000 acres of pollinator habitat. General Mills distributes over 100 consumer products under brand names such as Cheerios, Annie’s Cascadian Farm, Nature Valley and Blue Buffalo. It also plans to direct source 100% of its top ten priority ingredients, by 2020. The top ten include corn, oats, wheat, sugar from beets and cane, milk and vanilla. Farmers participating in this initiative are expected to have fewer production costs, while they improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, sequester more carbon, and have a smaller carbon footprint on their farms. General mills, a major player in the food industry, reported net profits of over 2.1 billion dollars in 2018.

A link to the General Mills initiative is on the Farm News and Views dot net Blog.

My thought for the day comes from Ralf Waldo Emerson “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Until next week. I’m Bob Bragg.

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