Farmers Hit Hard by Price Increases as Food Price Spike Looms

Man in white shirt and jeans planting seeds in the ground of a garden

Goods and services around the country are becoming increasingly more expensive, but farmers may be among the hardest hit as inflation, supply chain issues, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are expected to send food prices soaring even higher.

That impact is being felt by farmers around the country.

“The cost of fertilizer is up as much as 500% in some areas,” said Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron. “It would be unbelievable if I hadn’t seen it for myself as I priced fertilizer for our farm in southern Indiana. Fertilizer is a global commodity and can be influenced by multiple market factors, including the situation in Ukraine, and all of these are helping to drive up costs.”

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Commentary: It’s an Unraveling, Not a Reset

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that a shortage of fertilizer is causing farms in the developing world to fail, threatening food shortages and hunger. Ironically, the lead photo is of mounds of phosphate fertilizer in a Russian warehouse.

Modern synthetic fertilizers are typically made using natural gas or from phosphorous-bearing ores. The former provides the nitrogen that is critical to re-use of fields in commercial agriculture. They constitute more than half of all synthetic fertilizer production. 

So what happens when oil and natural gas extraction are crippled in industrialized nations? One likely outcome is that the fertilizer manufacturing industry is also crippled, leaving both large commercial growers and smaller farms around the world starved of a key substance they need to grow food for hungry populations.

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Iowa Leaders React to Biden Administration’s $1 Billion for Expanding Independent Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity

Inside of a butcher shop with meat hanging up

The Biden Administration announced Monday it will spend $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds to increase independent meat and poultry processing capacity.

The administration will invest $375 million on independent processing plant projects that fill a need for diversified processing capacity, spend up to $275 million in working with lenders to increase availability of loans, particularly to underserved communities, for independent processors, and spend $100 million to back private lenders investing in independently owned food processing and distribution infrastructure to move product through supply chain.

It will spend and additional $100 million to support training, safe workplaces and jobs in meat and poultry processing facilities, $100 million in reducing overtime and holiday inspection costs for small and very small processing plants, and $50 million to provide independent business owners and producers with technical assistance and research and development.

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Iowa Farmers Prepare for California’s Prop 12

Man in gray tee and blue jeans walking in a field with two hogs behind him

Hogs born Jan. 1, 2022, or later are subject to California’s Prop 12.

Some Iowa agricultural leaders have criticized the law, which prohibits the sale of pork from hogs that are the offspring of sows that were raised in pens with less than 24 square feet of usable floorspace per pig.

California accounts for about 15% of the U.S. pork market, the National Pork Producers Council said in a September news release. The NPPC is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to determine Prop 12’s constitutionality.

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Fertilizer Shortage Could Impact Crop Yields over the Next Year

Blue tractor in a field, fertilizing the land

Experts are warning that the dual energy and supply chain crises could serve to significantly disrupt global crop production, potentially disrupting food supplies for poorer consumers in particular.

Those ongoing crises are helping to temporarily decrease the global supply of fertilizer, a critical component in much of world agriculture and one that allows farmers to grow considerable quantities of crops in much of the world’s soils.

The fertilizer shortage is “impacting food prices all over the world and it hits the wallets of many people,” Yara International Director Svein Tore Holsether told the BBC this week.

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Commentary: The Countries with the Cleanest Environments in the World Are Also the Most Economically Free, Research Shows

One of the most frequently raised arguments against capitalism is that it is the primary driver of environmental pollution and climate change. But if we compare Yale University’s ranking of countries with the highest environmental performance with the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, a very different correlation emerges.

For more than 20 years, Yale University has been publishing the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and ranking countries according to their environmental health and ecosystem vitality. The EPI uses 32 performance indicators across eleven issue categories:

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Biden Climate Pact Hobbles U.S. Manufacturing and Agriculture But Gives China, India, Russia a Pass

White smoke emitting from a couple of buildings

Some of the world’s top emitters of methane haven’t signed a global effort to curb how much of the greenhouse gas is emitted by 2030.

The three countries – China, Russia and India – that produce the most methane emissions in the world haven’t signed onto the pact, which has been spearheaded by the U.S. and European Union ahead of a major United Nations climate conference. The nations that have signed the agreement represent nearly 30% of global methane emissions, the State Department said Monday.

The U.S. and EU unveiled the Global Methane Pledge on Sept. 18, which they said would be key in the global fight against climate change. The U.K., Italy, Mexico and Argentina were among the seven other countries that immediately signed the agreement last month.

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Farmers Cry Foul over Biden’s Death Tax Proposal

Woman with ball cap on, out in the fields of a farm

President Joe Biden has proposed amending the inheritance tax, also known as the “death tax,” but farmers around the country are raising concerns about the plan.

In the American Families Plan introduced earlier this year, Biden proposed repealing the “step-up in basis” in tax law. The stepped-up basis is a tax provision that allows an heir to report the value of an asset at the time of inheriting it, essentially not paying gains taxes on how much the assets increased in value during the lifetime of the deceased. This allows heirs to avoid gains taxes altogether if they sell the inheritance immediately.

Under Biden’s change, heirs would be forced to pay taxes on the appreciation of the assets, potentially over the entire lifetime of the recently deceased relative. 

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Chinese Government Has Bought over 200,000 Acres of American Farmland

China’s effort to unseat America as the world’s economic superpower has a new tactic: It has bought up more than 200,000 acres of U.S. farmland. And while there is bipartisan support for legislation to slow down Beijing’s acquisitions, Democrats have added a new wrinkle.

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), who is leading the legislative charge, says congressional Democrats have removed all references to the communist government of China in an amendment to an agricultural spending bill that originally prevented the Chinese Communist Party’s purchase of American farmland.

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Another Judge Temporarily Blocks Biden’s Debt Relief Program Exclusively for Farmers of Color

Silhouette of man on a tractor during golden hour

A federal judge in Florida temporarily halted President Joe Biden’s $4 billion debt relief program exclusively for farmers of color, saying in a Wednesday order that the program was racially discriminatory.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard sided with Scott Wynn, a Florida-based white farmer who sued to block the program in May. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) program was originally passed in March as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with the intention of providing relief to “socially disadvantaged farmers.”

“Section 1005’s rigid, categorical, race-based qualification for relief is the antithesis of flexibility,” Howard wrote. “The debt relief provision applies strictly on racial grounds irrespective of any other factor.”

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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Nestle, Cargill in Human Rights Lawsuit

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Nestle USA and Cargill could not be sued for alleged human rights abuses that occurred overseas.

The plaintiffs, six Mali citizens enslaved as children on Ivory Coast cocoa farms supplying the food giants, sued Nestle and Cargill for damages, alleging the companies had aided and profited from child labor. The court ruled the corporations could not be sued for the overseas abuses.

“Nearly all the conduct they allege aided and abetted forced labor—providing training, equipment, and cash to overseas farmers—occurred in the Ivory Coast,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion.

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Judge Halts Debt Relief Program for Farmers of Color After White Farmers Sue

A federal judge Thursday afternoon suspended a loan forgiveness program that issues relief to farmers and agricultural workers of color.

Judge William Griesbach of Wisconsin’s Eastern District handed down a temporary restraining order after the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in April. The group alleged in its announcement that President Joe Biden’s relief program was unconstitutional and that white farmers should have been included in the loan program.

“The Court recognized that the federal government’s plan to condition and allocate benefits on the basis of race raises grave constitutional concerns and threatens our clients with irreparable harm, said Rick Esenberg, WILL’s president and general counsel, in a press release Thursday. “The Biden administration is radically undermining bedrock principles of equality under the law.”

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House Preps to Pass Two Immigration Bills, Dreamer Pathway to Citizenship, Agricultural Worker Visa Reform as Border Crisis Intensifies

The House will vote on two immigration bills this week as the numbers of migrant families and children detained at the southern border surges.

The first bill, dubbed the Dream and Promise Act (DPA) would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, immigrants who have lived in the U.S. illegally since being brought as young children.

The second, the Farm Modernization Workforce Act (FMWA), would create a certified agricultural worker status and streamline the H-2A visa application process. President Joe Biden has also announced a sweeping immigration reform plan in addition to the two bills, though Republicans have labeled it a non-starter.

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