Vilsack on ag trade with China: ‘They need us’
Although China has yet to fulfill its “phase one” promises of mammoth purchases of U.S. farm exports, “the fact is, they need us,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a digital news conference. He added that, with China back in the U.S. market, commodity prices are high enough that, “I’m not sure there’s necessarily a need for any trade-related assistance [to farmers] at this point.”
Senate bill calls for half of slaughter cattle to be sold on cash market
Large meatpackers would be required to buy 50 percent of their cattle for slaughter each week on the open market under legislation filed by nine senators. It was the second bill this month aimed at greater transparency in cattle prices.
The battle to eradicate feral hogs
The most popular way to eradicate wild hogs is to shoot them, whether on gaming ranches, in the wild or from the door of a helicopter. But hunting has done little to stem the estimated 6-9 million hogs running wild across at least 42 states and three territories, as Stephen R. Miller writes, produced in collaboration with National Geographic.
Today’s Quick Hits
Heat protection legislation: Companion Senate and House bills would mandate an OSHA rule to protect workers, including farmworkers, in dangerously hot conditions with steps such as paid breaks in cool areas, access to water and time limits on exposure to heat. (Padilla)
No more ’boutique’ crops: After last year’s coronavirus upheaval in the restaurant and food-service market, fruit and vegetable farmers are planting a smaller variety of crops and focusing on crops with a sure market. “No one is trying to wow a high-end chef.” (The Counter)
‘Best guardians’ of forests: Deforestation rates are significantly lower in indigenous and tribal territories in countries where the government has recognized collective land rights, says a new report. (Food and Agriculture Organization)
Fewer hogs on farms: A survey of 4,900 producers found 74.8 million hogs on U.S. farms on March 1, down 2 percent from a year earlier. (USDA)
Cloud seeding during drought: Several states are considering cloud seeding as a dramatic intervention that could ease the impact of drought in the West. (Guardian)
On The Calendar
USDA releases its once-a-month State Stories report of weather and crop summaries for 44 states and the New England region during the winter months, noon ET.
USDA releases Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, 3 p.m. ET.
First Lady Jill Biden takes part in a “Day of Action” at Forty Acres National Historic Landmark, the first headquarters of the United Farm Workers union. The White House said the Cesar Chavez Foundation, UFW and UFW Foundation also would participate.
USDA releases annual Prospective Plantings and quarterly Grain Stocks reports, noon ET. Traders expect 93.2 million acres will be planted to corn, more than the 92 million acres projected by USDA in February, according to a Reuters survey. Like the USDA, traders expect soybean plantings of 90 million acres. They say less land will be sown to sorghum and cotton than projected by USDA. If traders are correct, plantings of the eight major US crops — corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, sorghum, barley and oats — would total 255.2 million acres this year, an increase of 4 percent from 2020, due to higher prices for corn and soybeans. Corn planting would be 2.4 million acres larger and soybeans would be 7 million acres larger.
U.S. trade representative’s office is expected to release its National Trade Estimate report, an annual review of foreign trade barriers.
USDA releases monthly Agricultural Prices report, 3 p.m. ET.
Deadline for public comment on a possible replacement of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
Deadline for the more than 11,000 landowners with expiring CSP contracts to apply for a five-year renewal.
April Fool’s Day, by tradition a day to celebrate “practical pleasantries,” pranks and hoaxes. “Although the day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery,” says History.com. One of the best hoaxes is the BBC spoof about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland.