Wholesale whole turkey prices fell in 2017 relative to 2016 and have remained below historical averages since January, indicating that demand may not be keeping up with current supply levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in the latest “Livestock, Dairy & Poultry Outlook.”Read More
Inflows of immigrants of all skill categories have long augmented the nation’s labor force. At present, several labor-intensive U.S. industries including construction, hotels, restaurants, and agriculture, employ a large number of foreign-born workers, not all of whom are legally authorized to work in this country. ERS research has examined the characteristics of the farm labor force and studied the implications of possible changes in immigration policy on farm labor markets.Read More
Tropical storm Harvey had not stopped raining on Texas before the first estimates emerged as to how many billions of dollars in damages would result from the storm. Initial estimates from insurance companies like Hannover Re put the number at $3 billion. In a note to clients, JP Morgan estimated that the insurance industry could lose $10 to 20 billion from Harvey, making it one of the top 10 costliest hurricanes to hit the U.S. Enki Holdings, a consultancy that calculates the risks and costs of various natural disasters, said Monday afternoon that its estimates for Harvey damages had reached $30 billion. It’s likely, though, that none of these estimates will end up being accurate. “It’s a pretty tough business—you don't really know what’s on the ground,” Tobias Geiger, a researcher from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told me, about forecasting the impact of disasters. “A good ballpark would be if you’re off by a factor of two.”Read More
The New York Times highlights details from more than 700 pages of internal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents it obtained through a Freedom of Information request. These internal memos show, the article states, “how the E.P.A.’s new staff, appointed by President Trump, pushed the agency’s career staff to draft a ruling that would deny the decade-old petition by environmentalists to ban the pesticide, chlorpyrifos.” Chlorpyrifos is widely used in agriculture, particularly on apples, oranges, strawberries, almonds and other fruits, although it was banned from residential use in 2000. Scientists at the EPA have recommended the chemical be banned from use on farms and produce as it has been linked to lower I.Q.s and developmental delays in agricultural workers and their children.Read More
Could Iowa someday be a state of mega-farms and small acreages, with the traditional, midsized family farm a relic of the past?
It’s possible, and our state would be poorer for it, economically and culturally. But that doesn’t have to be the future. The outlook for Iowa’s family farms isn’t good, but the continued decline isn’t inevitable.Read More