Morningstar’s Agricultural Outlook. Plus, More Agriculture News This Week.

Below, is a selection of recent agriculture-related news to end this year, 2012. Happy New Year!

GM labeling activist movements are misguided. Fred Kaufman explains that the real problem lies in U.S. plant patent laws which have done more harm than good, overall. Food patent laws stand in the way of good scientific research.

The most direct and efficient way to undermine the food industrialist monopoly of the molecular seed business is to reform these laws (particularly the utility patent law of 1985), and make food property rights less exclusive, less lucrative, and less enduring. … Instead of tilting at the windmill of food labels, food nonprofits should hire a fleet of I.P. lawyers and send them to Washington to demand reform of the Plant Patent Act. When there’s less profit in genetic modification, things will get better for consumers, farmers, and scientists—pretty much everyone except corporate executives.

Morningstar wrote an overview of limits to growth in agriculture, including some interesting statements about fertilizers, future water use in agriculture, and global meat demand.

Jim Lane at Biofuels Digest listed the ten most bizarre biofuels stories of this past year and they are definitely worth reading. And, in a second piece, he laid out ten biofuels predictions for the coming year — spelling out a lot of worries for the second half of the year.

This article out of Mitchell South Dakota explains how SD is losing its pheasant hunting tourist revenue because its CRP farmland is being plowed up. It makes the claim that SD is becoming Iowa, because Iowa has already seen a great reduction in both pheasant numbers and CRP acres. Though it cites good statistics, it never mentions ethanol policy as the driving factor. Instead, it quotes a farmer who uses the tiresome cliché, “if we have to feed 9 billion people by 2050, how are we going to do it if we don’t convert and plow up CRP?”

The world is in love with Greek yogurt, and Chobani is opening one of the world’s largest yogurt plants in Idaho.

This Iowa farmer never joined the green revolution, but kept farming the way his father did by using rotational grazing, and rotating four crops in five years – corn, soybeans, hay and oats. He saves money because he doesn’t buy fertilizer and controls weeds with cover crops. And his profit is about $218 per acre since 2000. There is a down side, and that is that it requires a third more labor due to rotating livestock on the farm. “Nobody” wants to do that anymore. An Iowa reporter did this fine article based on the findings of the recent Marsden Farm study which grabbed so many headlines.

SRI (System of Rice Intensification) Rice method successes are spelled out in this article. There is still some mystery involved, perhaps from those underground micorrhiza and rhizobacteria??

NYTs Green blog discusses the EPA requirements for cellulosic ethanol in 2013, the challenges of meeting biofuels mandates next year, and what it will mean for food competition.

Oregano oil is being used successfully as an antibiotic replacement in raising chickens.

Ninety-six percent of Nebraska is in stage 3-4 drought.

Remember the recent post (here) on flame weeding? In Australia, they are experimenting with microwaves mounted behind tractors to kills weeds with heat. This is another potential solution to chemical weed resistance.

Here is a good infographic on food waste.

Business Insider covered farming in Mato Grosso this week with lots of maps and graphics true to BI-style.

The EIA reported on U.S. biodiesel production including a 3-year graph.

Average annual hunger has fallen for the past 20 years and should continue to fall for three more years, according to this new FAO report. Today, one in eight people in the world are chronically hungry.

Written and compiled by K. McDonald.

Today’s photo credit: Flickr CC via iowa_spirit_walker

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