Crops

Farmer Aid Won't Cover Tariff Losses

The Trump administration has started compensating U.S. farmers for damage tariffs are doing to their business. Many farmers say the payments won't make up for lost sales to China and other foreign markets they were counting on to buy the huge amounts of crops and meat being produced across the Farm Belt.
 Bumper corn and soybean harvests and record pork production have pushed down prices for agricultural commodities. U.S. farm income is expected to drop 13% this year to $66 billion, according to the Department of Agriculture, extending a yearslong slump in the agricultural economy.

Heat Drives Wheat Prices

Global wheat prices have soared to multiyear highs as a heat wave sweeping across Europe and Asia slashes forecasts for this year's harvest. The price rise could potentially provide some relief to North American farmers, who have largely avoided such scorching weather, just as Chinese tariffs sap demand for other crops like soybeans.
 Chicago wheat futures hit three-year highs Thursday, while a key European benchmark topped a four-year high. The price of Paris-traded milling wheat has leapt 33% so far this year.

Investors Jump for Almond Joy

In the Australian state of New South Wales, Harvard University is developing around 1,480 acres of former potato fields and other farmland, building a new dam and planting trees that will take about three years to bear their first edible crops.
 It is part of a growing bet on almonds by the college’s endowment, which is adding to the around 1,235 acres of almond plantations it already owns near a township called Hillston.

Tax Law Puts Grain Companies on Defensive

Some agricultural companies are revamping operations to avoid being stung by the new U.S. tax law.
 Under the new law, farmers get larger tax savings for selling crops to agricultural cooperatives. To avoid being put at a disadvantage, some ethanol makers and family-owned grain companies are setting up their own cooperatives.
 Executives say that if Congress doesn't change the law or they aren't able to register their own farmer-backed cooperatives, processing plants could run short of crops and small grain elevators could be driven out of business.

Beyond Thanksgiving: Cranberry Converts China

CARVER, Mass.—A loyal sidekick to turkey and stuffing on the Thanksgiving table, the humble cranberry has a new fan base—in China.
 Chinese consumers, who five years ago barely knew what a cranberry was, now snack on the dried berries and toss them into smoothies and baked goods believing they are healthful and unique. Their increased appetite for Craisins has helped vault China to the second-largest export market for U.S. processed cranberries in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, behind the Netherlands.

Grocers Spoil Milk Processing for Dairy Industry

Food retailers are becoming big players in the milk processing and bottling business, a development that threatens to squeeze a longstanding network of dairy processors and farmer-owned plants.
 Milk is a low-margin commodity, susceptible to price swings. Americans are drinking less of it, even as demand rises for cheese, butter and other dairy products.

NASS: Most spring seeding behind-average

The region's farmers are generally slipping a bit behind schedule for planting because of continuing cool, wet conditions, although many have equipment that can help them catch up if they get the opportunity.

Here are summaries of state reports from the week of Apr. 23-30, reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service on May 1.

The Frozen Banana Republic

“Iceland is the king of the banana republics!” host Stephen Fry once declared confidently on the popular British game show “QI.”

That sounds implausible: Just look at the island nation’s pitted igneous landscape and brutal climate. But the claim isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. A rumor has circulated for the last 60 years proclaiming Iceland to be the banana capital of Europe.