Small family-run farms that raise organically, without genetically modifying crops or by reducing their use of pesticides and antibiotics, are such a small part of the federal government’s definition of a family farm that they often are lost in the crowd when it comes to government and industry support.
ByChristopher Walljasper/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
From 2011 to 2017, the United States saw more than 1,400 new large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) established. That’s up 7.6 percent, this Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting story tells you.
ByPam Dempsey and Dave Dickey/The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
Argentina and Brazil may fill China’s soybean needs if China imposes a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybean exports. Chad Hart, an agriculture economist at Iowa State University, said the impact depends on what happens during negotiations. IOWA NOTE: China is the second-largest market for Iowa exports ($2.3 billion in 2016 – $1.8 billion of it oilseeds and grains), behind Canada ($3.4 billion in 2016). “It is so hard to say, ‘This is what is going to happen.’ There are so many other moving parts,” he said. “This is a disagreement between the U.S. and China, but it has ramifications for Argentina and Brazil.”
Earlier this month, the United States and China both announced taxes on billions of dollars worth of imported goods — China is seeking tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. products that include soybeans and pork, while the U.S. announced taxes on $150 billion worth of 1,300 Chinese products, including electronics.
ByJohnathan Hettinger/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
Just nine of 30 agribusiness companies have followed through on a pledge to implement the Farm Bureau’s 2014 “Core Principles” for transparency in the collection of farmers’ data. Among those who have yet to do so are some of the industry’s biggest players.
A major environmental threat has emerged as factory farms take over more and more of the nation’s livestock production: Pollution from the waste produced by the immense crush of animals. Iowa has more of the massive livestock feeding lots, known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, than any other state and has come under fire for lax regulations.
Livestock industry groups applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s retreat last year from establishing an information-gathering rule. Michael Formica, of the National Pork Producers’ Council, said the rule simply would have burdened farmers with pointless paperwork. “You want your farmers focused on farming and running the farm, you don’t want them worried about filling out one inane form after another,” he said. Industry leaders also expressed satisfaction that it would be more difficult for the EPA to get information without a law compelling disclosure. Ashley McDonald, deputy environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said his organization was pleased the effort would be more “labor intensive” because the data is “in a decentralized form that is much more difficult to ascertain.”