agriculture

The latest drought report shows that all of Kansas is drying out, with the southern parts of the state now being considered in extreme drought.

But what impact could this weather pattern have if it sticks around?

More than 50 percent of the state is currently seeing drought conditions, up from only 1.5 percent three months ago. And assistant state climatologist Mary Knapp says the outlook for the next three months isn't much better.

From Texas Standard:

A lot of Texans will be paying close attention Monday to the words and tone of President Donald Trump as he addresses farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Convention in Nashville. At a time when Texas is growing in population,  becoming less rural and more urban than it was 10 years ago, advocates say rural issues are no less important than they once were. And that's the message Trump aims to send during his Farm Bureau speech. But what do Texans want to hear, especially on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA?

After pushing for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Donald Trump earlier this year kicked off negotiations among the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Any major changes to the agreement could have a big impact on Kansas.

Kansas Republican Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran have said they’re open to updates but emphasize that the agreement needs to preserve or expand export opportunities.

Kansas City Federal Reserve

As the Omaha World Herald reports, with corn prices at around $3.50 per bushel, grain farmers in Nebraska are increasingly exhausting their cash supplies and taking out loans.

Brad Bauer, a senior vice president at Pinnacle Bank, told the Herald that the demand for operating loans for farmers in Nebraska has increased because many producers have exhausted their cash reserves.

CCO Creative Commons

Suicide rates among farmers are at a higher rate than other occupation in the United States.

As The Guardian reports, last year, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people working in agriculture – including farmers, farm laborers, ranchers, fishers, and lumber harvesters – take their lives at a rate higher than any other occupation.

The farm economy is showing some stability, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says, but the upswing doesn’t extend to all agricultural sectors.

Over the last three years, farm earnings have plummeted, eliciting concerns that the farm economy could tumble toward another farm crisis like the 1980s. For 2017, the USDA expects net farm income to rebound by a modest 3 percent nationwide, to $63 billion.

AlexCovarrubias / Wikimedia Commons

As the fifth round of NAFTA talks came to a close Tuesday in Mexico, the agriculture industry tried to convey the damage that would be done to the industry if a trade deal that is helping struggling sectors survive is terminated.

CCO Creative Commons

INMAN - It was over a bowl of popcorn on a winter evening last year that McPherson County farmer Dwight Baldwin began thinking of an alternative.

He had recently sifted through one of his latest farm publications, which touted alternative crops. However, like most of his neighbors, he and his son, Adam, have grown wheat, milo, soybeans and corn on their ground near Inman. Yet the farm economy centered around those traditional crops was struggling.

CCO Creative Commons

Overall corn production is expected to decrease slightly in Kansas but increase in Colorado.

According to Kansas Corn, in its October crop production estimate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is projecting Kansas corn production at 697 million bushels, down slightly from last year’s record harvest of 699 million bushels. NASS is predicting more harvested acres and a slightly higher yield.

CCO Creative Commons

It’s a blue-sky day as hired hand Mike Apfel sits in the cab of a combine, gliding through 12 rows at a time in big field near South Hutchinson.

If all goes well this last field of corn of the season might be done by nightfall - well before thunderstorms halt machinery this week.

Not that there isn’t plenty to do in autumn on the farm.

It’s October. While corn is done, the marathon of autumn continues.

Iowa’s secretary of agriculture is one step closer to a new post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bill Northey appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. He answered questions about a variety of farm-support and conservation programs he would oversee as undersecretary from the farm and foreign agricultural services.

Survey: Cover Crops Improve Yields

Sep 28, 2017
U.S. Department of Agriculture

According to a recent survey, farmers are seeing a number of benefits of using cover crops, including better yields.

As High Plains Journal reports, based on a 2017 Cover Crop Survey - conducted by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education and the Conservation Technology Information Center -  of just over 2,000 farmers, corn yields increased 2 to 3 bushels per acre, wheat yields increased 1.9 bushels per acre and soybean yields increased 2.1 bushels per acre.

Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license

There are a lot of players in farm bill discussions nowadays, and as Politico reports, all of them - in one way or another - are related.

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Tuesday, Elise Golan, sustainable development director at the USDA, said the farm bill is flawed in that it segregates by topics such as nutrition, trade, conservation and horticulture.

Wikipedia / National Science Foundation

Five Kansas universities will collaborate on an agricultural research project examining the role that microorganisms play in the environment.

As the Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Fort Hays State University, Wichita State University and Haskell Indian Nations University will cooperate on the $20 million research project, being funded by the National Science Foundation.

Local Farmers Cash In On Corn Tortillas

Sep 12, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

Many in the High Plains region regularly enjoy the tortilla chips – an item more local than what might think - that, along with a bowl of salsa, typically precede Mexican meals.

As The High Plains Journal reports, Leon and Nancy Winfrey of Plains, Kansas own Southwest Tortillas – made with food grade white corn grown on their farm. The family sells fresh corn tortillas to restaurants in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Kansas Political Leaders Discuss Future Of Ag

Aug 28, 2017
CCO Public Domain

Political leaders strategized about the future of ag in Kansas at the Summit on Agricultural Growth held in Manhattan Thursday.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall of the rural 1st district in Congress, said the government was prepared to endorse the conversion of sorghum oil into bio-diesel. Sorghum is mainly used as livestock feed so the addition would bolster the market value of the grain.

Colorado Department of Agriculture

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is offering a crisis hotline for farmers facing emotional crisis because of financial strains.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Colorado's wheat and corn farmers, like those across the High Plains, are struggling as global competition forces prices down below their production costs.

Hundreds of Midwest farmers are complaining of damage to their crops allegedly caused by the herbicide dicamba. The total number of damaged acres may come to more than 2.5 million acres, according to data compiled by a University of Missouri researcher.

Most of the damage has been found in the Midwest and South, with complaints of more than 850,000 damaged acres in Arkansas and more than 300,000 damaged acres in both Missouri and Illinois.

conaway.house.gov/biography/portrait.htm

Billions of dollars for farmers and nutrition programs may have been saved last month behind closed doors.

As Politico reports, while lawmakers didn't disclose specifics about their handshake agreement, that was when House aides and agriculture lobbyists say House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway was able to stave off billions in proposed spending cuts to agriculture and nutrition programs.

The agriculture committee was initially facing around $70 billion in proposed cuts, but ended up closer to $10 billion, which came after Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black lowered her original goal for total mandatory spending cuts by roughly $300 billion, and Conaway made the case that cutting programs under his watch would imperil the 2018 farm bill.

Creative Commons CC0

The depressed prices for wheat, corn, milo and other commodities - caused by a global glut of grain - is pushing some farmers further into debt.

As The Hutch News reports, net farm income for last year averaged $43,100, which while much better than last year, is significantly lower than record farm income farmers reaped from 2010 to 2014, when the average ranged between $130,000 to nearly $170,000 - thanks to high commodity prices for both crops and cattle.

Kansas wheat harvest yields a mixed bag

Jun 28, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Wheat harvest is in full swing across the High Plains and according to Kansas Wheat, yields in the Sunflower State have been a mixed bag.

According to day 12 of the Kansas Wheat Harvest reports, Irsik and Doll Feed Service of Pierceville reported yields of 30 to 40 bushels per acre, while Mid State Farmers Coop of Rush Center reported average yields of 45 to 50 bushels per acre. The highest average yields reported by the WaKeeney branch of Frontier Ag, Inc., were in the 40s.

This story was updated at 3:12 p.m.

A federal jury in Kansas City, Kansas, awarded nearly $218 million to Kansas corn farmers after finding seed giant Syngenta AG was negligent when it introduced strains of genetically engineered corn seed into the marketplace that were not approved for import by the Chinese government.  

The eight-member jury returned its $217,700,000 verdict after an 18-day-long trial, the first of eight certified class actions lawsuits against Syngenta brought in state court.

Brandon Biesemeier climbs up a small ladder into a John Deere sprayer, takes a seat in the enclosed cab, closes the door, and blocks out most of the machine’s loud engine hum. It is a familiar perch to the fourth-generation farmer on Colorado’s eastern plains.

He turns onto a country road, heading south to spray an herbicide on his cornfields, an early growing season task his genetically engineered crops demand if he is to unlock their value. In the cab, a computer screen shows a little pixelated tractor moving across digital fields, logging his work.

Tim Mueller has raised corn and soybeans on 530 acres near the city of Columbus, Nebraska, for decades, but today he is planning to take a big gamble.

Kansas net farm income rebounds somewhat, but ag economy continues to slump

May 30, 2017
CREATIVE COMMONS CC0

Kansas average net farm income rebounded somewhat last year to $43,161 from a dismal stretch the previous year when income fell to $6,744 – the lowest in 30 years. 

Other areas of the state were more affected by the slumping farm economy. In northwest Kansas, farmers averaged $389 and south-central farms averaged a loss of $5,352.

Meanwhile, southeast Kansas farms fared better than in other areas, with average net farm income of $109,344.

Northeast Kansas income averaged $48,197, southwest at $39,615 and north-central at $34,205.

A leading research center focused on local farmers and environmental conservation is hanging on by a thread, even as the movement to diversify agriculture, which it helped launch, continues to thrive.

ABBIE FENTRESS SWANSON / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

As the Trump administration takes the initial steps toward renegotiating one of the country’s most influential and controversial trade deals, groups that represent farmers and ranchers are already waving a caution sign.

Palmer amaranth and other weeds may develop resistance to common herbicides if they aren't successfully killed.Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public MediaEdit | Remove

Belt-tightening has been the trend for row-crop farmers in the Midwest for the past several years as corn and soybean prices remain low. Reducing application of expensive herbicides may be tempting to save money, but that’s a strategy that could result in severe economic consequences down the road.

CC0 Public Domain

Farming isn’t getting any easier given low grain prices, rising costs and unpredictable weather, yet many young people in southwest Kansas are staying on the family farm and statewide farming groups are working to further cultivate the younger generation’s interest in agriculture.

Wikimedia Commons

Northern Colorado agriculture producers are struggling to find U.S. workers.

As the Greeley Tribune reports, there aren’t enough U.S. workers who will do the labor-intensive work required by the agriculture industry, as many have moved to other labor-intensive industries like oil or construction.

Pages