Belgian and Dutch farmers are protesting because they are losing their livelihoods in the name of fighting so-called climate change as European governments seek to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia, necessary inputs of modern agriculture. Will American farmers and consumers soon face the same fate?
European farmers are being told that because of the aim for “net-zero emissions” of greenhouse gases and other so-called pollutants in 2050, their industry is being phased out if they can’t adapt.
Farmers aren’t likely to enjoy a calm year this year, according to agricultural economists from Purdue University. After a year of dealing with historic inflation rates, farmers must now be prepared for an economic downturn that could spark a recession. However, there’s even more uncertainty across the horizon, said Roman Keeney, an associate professor of economics at Purdue’s College of Agriculture.
Farmers borrow short term money up front every year to pay for inputs and operating expenses. At harvest time when they sell their crops, they pay back their operating notes.
For the first time in 20 years, fast-rising interest rates have doubled the cost of short term operating notes, an impact a lot of farmers have never seen before.
The Biden administration is reportedly considering clamping down on a widely-used herbicide that farmers and industry groups have argued is key for maintaining low prices.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering tighter restrictions on the use of atrazine, a key herbicide often applied to corn, soybeans and sorghum, according to a March letter from the Triazine Network obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. The Triazine Network is a coalition of more than 20 industry groups including members of the National Corn Growers Association, the National Grain Sorghum Producers Association and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.
Goods and services around the country are becoming increasingly more expensive, but farmers may be among the hardest hit as inflation, supply chain issues, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are expected to send food prices soaring even higher.
That impact is being felt by farmers around the country.
“The cost of fertilizer is up as much as 500% in some areas,” said Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron. “It would be unbelievable if I hadn’t seen it for myself as I priced fertilizer for our farm in southern Indiana. Fertilizer is a global commodity and can be influenced by multiple market factors, including the situation in Ukraine, and all of these are helping to drive up costs.”
Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that a shortage of fertilizer is causing farms in the developing world to fail, threatening food shortages and hunger. Ironically, the lead photo is of mounds of phosphate fertilizer in a Russian warehouse.
Modern synthetic fertilizers are typically made using natural gas or from phosphorous-bearing ores. The former provides the nitrogen that is critical to re-use of fields in commercial agriculture. They constitute more than half of all synthetic fertilizer production.
So what happens when oil and natural gas extraction are crippled in industrialized nations? One likely outcome is that the fertilizer manufacturing industry is also crippled, leaving both large commercial growers and smaller farms around the world starved of a key substance they need to grow food for hungry populations.
Hogs born Jan. 1, 2022, or later are subject to California’s Prop 12.
Some Iowa agricultural leaders have criticized the law, which prohibits the sale of pork from hogs that are the offspring of sows that were raised in pens with less than 24 square feet of usable floorspace per pig.
California accounts for about 15% of the U.S. pork market, the National Pork Producers Council said in a September news release. The NPPC is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to determine Prop 12’s constitutionality.
Some of the world’s top emitters of methane haven’t signed a global effort to curb how much of the greenhouse gas is emitted by 2030.
The three countries – China, Russia and India – that produce the most methane emissions in the world haven’t signed onto the pact, which has been spearheaded by the U.S. and European Union ahead of a major United Nations climate conference. The nations that have signed the agreement represent nearly 30% of global methane emissions, the State Department said Monday.
The U.S. and EU unveiled the Global Methane Pledge on Sept. 18, which they said would be key in the global fight against climate change. The U.K., Italy, Mexico and Argentina were among the seven other countries that immediately signed the agreement last month.
United States District Judge William C. Griesbach sustained a motion last week for a temporary restraining order to block a program under the Department of Agriculture to forgive certain government loans for farmers belonging to at least one “socially disadvantaged group.” The Department of Agriculture identified groups eligible for this classification as “a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities . . . one or more of the following: Black/African American, American Indian, Alaskan native, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, or Pacific Islander.”
A federal judge Thursday afternoon suspended a loan forgiveness program that issues relief to farmers and agricultural workers of color.
Judge William Griesbach of Wisconsin’s Eastern District handed down a temporary restraining order after the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in April. The group alleged in its announcement that President Joe Biden’s relief program was unconstitutional and that white farmers should have been included in the loan program.
“The Court recognized that the federal government’s plan to condition and allocate benefits on the basis of race raises grave constitutional concerns and threatens our clients with irreparable harm, said Rick Esenberg, WILL’s president and general counsel, in a press release Thursday. “The Biden administration is radically undermining bedrock principles of equality under the law.”
Christopher Baird owns a dairy farm near Ferryville in southwest Wisconsin, not far from the Mississippi River. He milks about 50 cows and farms approximately 80 acres of pasture.
Like a lot of farmers, Baird has direct loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
But the dairy farmer isn’t entitled to a new FSA loan-forgiveness program provided as part of COVID-19 relief in the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, legislation touted Wednesday night by President Joe Biden in his address to Congress.
Baird is white. He joined four other white farmers Thursday in suing federal officials over being left out.