Agricultural exports have not yet provided the boost to farm income that U.S. farmers have been hoping for. Instead, they are now harvesting large crops this fall without knowing if their corn and soybeans will find buyers in overseas markets.  USDA is already sending out checks under the Trade Mitigation Program to offset some of these losses.

As U.S. farmers face their fourth consecutive year of below-average net farm income, they are not yet receiving the boost from agricultural exports they had been hoping for.  The latest (August 30) USDA projection for 2018 net farm income is $65.7 billion, only 53 percent of the figure recorded in 2013.

The incidence of foodborne illness in the United States leads to the hospitalization of 128,000 people and the death of 3,000 Americans every year, costing the economy nearly $78 billion.  Broader adoption of new information technology, such as blockchain and low-cost IOT sensors in the food and agribusiness sector, can reduce the frequency of foodborne illness outbreaks.

Agricultural extension has been an essential component in helping farmers acquire knowledge of new technology and practices.  While governments have been providing information for farmers for several millennia, the U.S. combined system of land grant universities, agricultural experiment stations, and cooperative extension systems, federally- and state-funded but state-based, was a uniquely American development.

The US agriculture industry, often the first to feel the hit of trade disputes, is bracing itself as nations threaten to retaliate

A farm in Arizona. US agricultural exports are worth about $140bn a year.
Photograph: Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock 
A farmer in Arizona.  US agricultural exports are worth about $140 Billion a year.   

America’s farmers are about to start harvesting the wheat crop. Close to 60m tonnes are gathered annually and almost half is usually exported. Where this crop will be sold, though, remains an open question.

As Donald Trump’s trade war escalates, a lot of farmers are worried. Trump was elected, in part, on a promise to put America’s interests first and crack down on what he characterizes as a world trade system rigged against the US.  But until recently the president has acted like many of his predecessors – talking tough on the campaign trail but backtracking in the White House.

By Stephanie Mercier

Our history shows the way.  Hemp was one of the earliest crops grown commercially in this country, long before the United States actually became a sovereign nation.  The first formal record of its production appeared in a tax revenue document in the colony of Virginia in 1632.  Raw hemp and hemp products were a key export from the American colonies to Great Britain, used for ship rigging, clothing, maps, books, sails and tents.  Contemporaneous records indicate that two of our first three Presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, raised hemp on their Virginia plantations.  This crop, along with wheat and corn, was commonly planted on farms as the United States expanded westward, although not in large acreage overall.

Continue reading “Hemp — A New Opportunity for US Farmers”