Back to: Ag News
September 3, 2013
Follow Ag News

Ag Notebook: Near-record incomes possibly on the way, historic dairy bows out

USDA: Farmers forecast to see near-record incomes in 2013

U.S. farmers will realize $120.6 billion in net income this year, up 6 percent compared to last year and the second-highest amount since 1973.

Still, the amount represents a drop from USDA’s February estimate of $128.2 billion, reflecting record harvests that will translate into lower prices and cut into expected farm incomes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

The government will pay farmers $11.1 billion in direct payments this year, up from $10.6 billion last year.

The Senate and House versions of the pending five-year farm bill will cut these controversial direct payments, instead boosting crop insurance assistance.

— U.S. Department of Agriculture

Historic Robinson Dairy Closing

Denver’s Robinson Dairy will close in November after nearly 130 years in business, a spokesman for parent company Dean Foods Co. confirmed Tuesday.

Dallas-based Dean Foods, parent company of Robinson Dairy, is shifting production from Denver-based Robinson to a larger Meadow Gold Dairy facility in Englewood, said spokesman Jamaison Schuler. Dean Foods also owns the Meadow Gold brand.

About 40 Robinson employees will lose their jobs, but another 96 workers will be transferred to the Englewood facility and a “handful” will transfer to a Meadow Gold facility in Greeley, Schuler said.

“We regret the impact that this decision will have on our employees and our community,” he said. “The decision to eliminate jobs in any part of our business is never an easy one. We need to improve our supply chain capability, and operating fewer plants will help us streamline our operations.”

Employees were told about two weeks ago that the Robinson plant was closing.

Dean Foods closed other U.S. dairy plants earlier this year as part of its “network optimization efforts,” Schuler said.

The company will keep the Robinson brand for its food-service customers, but Robinson-branded products in retail stores were changed to the Meadow Gold brand about a year ago, he said.

— Denver Business Journal

Seven Colo. Counties Designated as Drought Disaster Areas

The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated Eagle County as a primary natural disaster area due to recent drought conditions.

The designation also triggered contiguous disaster designations for Garfield, Grand, Lake, Pitkin, Routt, and Summit counties.

USDA disaster designations make farmers and ranchers eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency.

Producers in counties designated as primary or contiguous disaster areas are eligible to be considered for FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for assistance. Local FSA offices can provide farmers and ranchers with additional information.

— U.S. Department of Agriculture

Report: Conservation Work Minimizes Sediment, Nutrient Runoff

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report that shows farmers have significantly reduced the loss of sediment and nutrients from farm fields through voluntary conservation work in the lower Mississippi River basin.

Secretary Vilsack highlighted the value of conservation programs to these efforts, and called on Congress to pass a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that would enable USDA to continue supporting conservation work on farms and ranches.

The report, released by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service this week, marks the completion of a watershed-wide assessment of conservation efforts in the Mississippi River watershed.

Its findings demonstrate that conservation work, like controlling erosion and managing nutrients, has reduced the edge-of-field losses of sediment by 35 percent, nitrogen by 21 percent and phosphorous by 52 percent.

While the report shows the positive impacts of conservation, it also signals the need for additional conservation work.

The most critical conservation concern in the region is controlling runoff of surface water and better management of nutrients, meaning the appropriate rate, form, timing and method of application for nitrogen and phosphorous.

Model simulations show that an increase in cover crops will have a significant impact on reducing edge-of-field losses of sediment and nutrients and improve water quality.

— U.S. Department of Agriculture

Environmental Group Proposes Soil Health Component to Crop Insurance

The environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council Tuesday said an improved emphasis on soil health in crop insurance programs could have minimized crop insurance losses from the 2012 drought.

The idea is based on a recently unveiled study prepared by NRDC that found 80 percent of crop insurance payments made to farmers during the 2012 growing season were the result of heat, drought or hot wind.

The group suggested also that such weather events will become more common in the future, estimating that soil management practices such as no-till and cover crops could help limit the effects of extreme weather events.

NRDC policy analyst Claire O’Connor, author of the study, said weather challenges could be avoided by improving soil health; more resilient soil can hold and filter more water, meaning the difference between profit and loss, she added.

NRDC says cover crops and other soil conservation measures, when tied to crop insurance, could be cost-lowering mechanism for farmers

But the Federal Crop Insurance Program, O’Connor argued, doesn’t take soil health and subsequent water efficiency into account.

“The Federal Crop Insurance program charges farmers using a fixed formula that ignores the importance of how farmers are managing their fields,” O’Connor said.

In contrast, the NRDC said it is preparing plans for a pilot program that would take roll soil preservation practices into account.

— Natural Resources Defense Council


Explore Related Articles

The Fence Post Updated Sep 3, 2013 10:08AM Published Sep 24, 2013 09:08AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.