Agricultural Economic News Update for June 2010

Agricultural Economic News Update for June 2010


There is a wealth of information on a wide variety of Ag news topics below. There is more than you will want to read in one sitting, so please read, and return to read more. My last Ag news thread was May 1st, and I do believe I’ve come up with a plan that is doable, and that is to do these threads once a month (instead of once a week). Plan on that, for now.

Also, my newsletter sign-up list continues to grow slowly, but I have also received a solicitation to free-lance write for an investment site, which I am seriously considering. (This blog will still exist if that happens, don’t worry.)

I’ve bulleted some highlights from this month’s news:

  • Producers are still waiting for retroactive $1 biodiesel reinstatement subsidy from the government
  • Between 30 and 50 per cent of all food produced is spoiled or wasted. In poor countries, food is spoiled on the way to the market, while in rich countries, it spoils in people’s refrigerators.
  • More than a ton of food is produced annually, per person, globally.
  • Sec. Tom Vilsack said, “Ag exports are through the roof — our first 6 months set a $59 billion record. Anticipate $108 billion for the fiscal year which would be the 2nd best year in ag exports in history. Every billion dollars of ag exports means 8 to 9 thousand jobs.”
  • Brazil agricultural production is expected to grow in output by more than 40% between now and 2019. Ag production is also expected to grow more than 20% in China, India, Russia and Ukraine.
  • The price of glyphosate (Round-up) is not expected to return to the heights of 2008 for many, many years due to Chinese production levels.
  • Australia is on course for its best wheat harvest in five years.
  • Wheat stocks continue to be very strong, both in the U.S. and globally. The U.S. stocks to use is at 42%. Production and consumption are both down, slightly.
  • An Iowa State study determined that if there was no ethanol policy, the 39¢ federal gas tax would continue, but the ethanol industry would be a shadow of itself, producing only 5% of what it does now.
  • While Sec. Vilsack told IPTV that the 15% ethanol blend ratio will most likely be passed this year, others dispute the complex logistical use, distribution, and consumer acceptance issues involved.

As I gather news I realize how rapidly the global agricultural production and development is changing. This will go on until economic and fuel restraints turn things around. I see the Round-up superweeds story as being a harbinger representing an early stage fall from peak industrial crop production here in the U.S. Efficiency gains are just starting to go into reverse, spelling a return towards past standards which required more human labor, and smaller farms – perhaps. But, as always, production has everything to do with government policy.

If you missed any of them, I had three quite popular articles appear on Energy Bulletin recently, What’s Next for Industrial Ag? More Toxic Chemicals?, The U.S. Exports more Corn Ethanol, and, This Oil Spill, too, Shall Pass.

I continue to be an Ag contrarian and do not see the future of Ag as “nothing but a bed of roses”. That is why I was amazed to find this first article echoing many of my own ideas from farm lenders, who are nervous, which I made the Must-Read this week.


  • U.S. farm bankers nervous about bullish outlook, Reuters


  • USDA: New crop insurance plan will save $6B over 10 years; $4B will go to deficit reduction, AP
  • Minnesota plant will produce fertilizer from wind,
  • Fed Money for Grasshopper Fight, iptv
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup Sales Decline, iptv


  • Virus Ravages Cassava Plants in Africa, NYT
  • Near-record Aussie lamb prices ‘to stay firm’, Agrimoney
  • Harsh winter decimates Mongolian livestock, LATimes
  • Carcasses pile high, filling many valleys with the stench of decay and creating a health hazard, AP
  • Worst Locust Plague in Two Decades Threatens Crops in Australia’s Victoria, Bloomberg
  • GM lobby helped draw up crucial report on Britain’s food supplies, GuardianUK
  • From Chile to China, olive oil industry putting down roots in new ground, AP
  • Indian State of Kerala Starts 10-Year Conversion to All-Organic Farming, Treehugger
  • Livestock ministry may alter its plans, nationKenya
  • Beijing warns of agricultural speculators who hoard with ‘evil intent’, FT
  • Even in Hard Times, E.U. Farm Subsidies Roll On, Time
  • Spain’s Jobless Find It Hard to Go Back to Farm, NYT
  • Monsanto’s Poison Pills for Haiti, HuffPost


  • And the planet got warmer, too, LATimes
  • Weather Report: Warm & Dry On the Plains, Chilly In The Northwest, cattlenetwork
  • Climate change forces major vegetation shifts, Physorg
  • Shrinking glaciers to spark food shortages, Bloomberg
  • TSU farms, goats slowly recover from Nashville flood; Rescue efforts, bit of high land save goat research program, tennessean
  • Food Security Further Undermined by Climate Disasters, alertnet
  • Plant study dims silver lining to global warming, LATimes


  • Russia Fights for World Dominance—in Wheat, Bloomberg


  • The gulf tragedy doesn’t negate the fact that oil is a green fuel, LAtimes
  • ADM says ethanol market saturated, appeals to EPA, Desmoinesregister
  • Fledgling Biodiesel Industry Fights To Survive,
  • What Would Ethanol Policy Look Like If It Were Actually Planned To Be Economically Beneficial?, Farmgate
  • German Biofuel Use for Transportation to Stagnate because of insufficient government incentives, Bloomberg
  • Tate & Lyle scraps Fort Dodge ethanol plant, Desmoinesregister


  • Brazil to lead agriculture boom as Europe imports, AP


  • Plows ready? City wants urban farms, more chickens, seattlepi
  • By the Numbers: Farmers’ Markets, NYT


  • Breakthrough in quest to boost rice yields, Newscientist
  • A Madison-area company has become a leader in aquaponics,
  • Tracking the Ancestry of Corn Back 9,000 Years, NYT
  • Scientists breed goats that produce spider silk, PhyOrg


  • Agriculture, Food Production Among Worst Environmental Offenders, sciencedaily
  • USDA’s new dietary guidelines restrict salt, sugar and saturated fats, LATimes
  • Farmers flood fields for birds and profit, SFGate
  • North America’s great carbon ocean: Protecting prairie grasslands keeps carbon in the soil and slows the pace of climate change, PrairieFire
  • A place called Pahaku, PrairieFire


  • “Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity” edited by Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, PrairieFire



  • I’d like to offer a special thank you to rjs who sent many article contributions for this thread.

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