September 30, 2006

Farm Report

The U.K. has stopped buying U.S. rice because of concerns over contamination with a GM (genetically modified) variety of rice that escaped into the food chain and hasn't been approved for human consumption. The Japanese have expanded testing for the strain in U.S. imports.

The World Trade Organization considers bans on GM crops to be a breach of its trade rules and ruled against Europe on their use, but as noted in this ag news roundug, the WTO also ruled in Brazil's favor against U.S. cotton subsidies.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R) says biofuel dollars will be kept in the hands of farmers.

Small rural schools are being closed all over the U.S. to save money, while rural outmigration costs the Plains states loads of tax revenue.

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture will be spending $7.8 million on expanding agricultural extension programs in Iraq and bolstering rural credit availability.

Border security and low agricultural sector wages have led to a shortage of farm workers: "Three-quarters of the hired farm work force in the U.S. was born in Mexico. And more than 40 percent of crop workers were migrants, meaning they had traveled at least 75 miles in the previous year to get a farm job, the survey showed." Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Feinstein (D-CA) pleaded in vain on behalf of their state's farmers to get guest worker program included in the border fence bill passed this week. As noted in the 2004 book The Conquest of Bread, California "accounts for roughly 12 percent of agricultural output in the United States and supplies one-third of the table food consumed by Americans."

The editors of the Farm & Ranch guide are displeased with efforts to revive the Doha round of world trade talks because the opening offer by the U.S. trade representative is a further reduction of subsidies. Many developing nations argue that U.S. and European subsidies rob them of an important comparative trade advantage, because they can't generally compete in terms of manufactured goods.

The Republican-led Senate found time to approve torture and the suspension of habeas corpus, but removed extra funding for farmers, many of whom have been hit badly by drought and fire over the past year. The Bush administration objected to the additional funds because they were written as a blanket increase, whether the farmer in question suffered from the drought or not. Instead of resolving this, the issue was tabled until after the November election.

South Dakota has suffered a 22 percent drop in their wheat yield this year due to the drought.

A Common Voice editorial looks at the omnipresence of corn in the food processing industry, sparked by the frustration of both consumers and farmers for being blamed for the state of the U.S. food system and nutritional problems.

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), a lobbyist corrupted, troop-hating, insulter of firefighters, lays out his agricultural policy agenda for the upcoming 2007 Farm Bill in the Prarie Star. Also appearing in that publication, an editorial denying global warming by Stewart Truelsen of the American Farm Bureau Federation's weekly Focus on Agriculture series.

The U.S. pig herd is up 1% over last year.

Posted by natasha at September 30, 2006 01:50 AM | Agriculture | Technorati links |

I thought Japan had a law against importing rice -- that the country tried to be self-sufficient for supporting its own population with at least that basic staple! When did that change??

Posted by: Scorpio at September 30, 2006 10:49 AM

Probably quite a bit ago. IIRC, California has been the world's biggest exporter for years and much of their crop goes to Japan.

Posted by: natasha at September 30, 2006 11:49 AM