Agricultural News


ASWM is keeping an eye on the development of the 2012 Farm Bill. On this page you can find updates on the Farm Bill as well as agricultural news in the context of wetlands and related issues. For Farm Bill 2012 resources on the web, click here.

Half of U.S. Farmland Being Eyed by Private Equity

By Carey L. Biron – Before It's news – February 19, 2014

An estimated 400 million acres of farmland in the United States will likely change hands over the coming two decades as older farmers retire, even as new evidence indicates this land is being strongly pursued by private equity investors. Mirroring a trend being experienced across the globe, this strengthening focus on agriculture-related investment by the private sector is already leading to a spike in U.S. farmland prices. Coupled with relatively weak federal policies, these rising prices are barring many young farmers from continuing or starting up small-scale agricultural operations of their own. In the long term, critics say, this dynamic could speed up the already fast-consolidating U.S. food industry, with broad ramifications for both human and environmental health. For full story, click here.

Farm Bill Compromise Will Change Programs and Reduce Spending

By Ron Nixon – The New York Times – January 27, 2014.

House and Senate negotiators on Monday agreed on a new five-year farm bill that will eliminate or consolidate dozens of agriculture subsidy programs, expand government-subsidized crop insurance and cut about $8 billion from the food stamp program over the next decade. The bipartisan agreement, two years after lawmakers began work on the nearly $1 trillion bill, is a major step forward in reauthorizing hundreds of farm and nutrition programs that must be renewed every five years. And, at least for now, it brings an end to the partisan fighting that stalled two previous attempts to pass the legislation. The bill would reduce spending by about $23 billion over the next 10 years. For full story, click here. For the 2013 Farm Bill: A Comparison of the Senate-Passed (S.954) and House-Passed (H.R. 2642, H.R. 3102) Bills with Current Law, click here.

U.S. Farmers Taking Proactive Steps to Reduce Nutrient Runoff into Waterways

Business Wire – November 20, 2013

Runoff of agricultural fertilizers into streams, rivers and watersheds is a major environmental concern, but U.S. farmers are aggressively adopting more environmentally sound crop production methods and technologies that address this problem. One major concern—the agricultural use of phosphorus (P) fertilizers—is getting increased attention from farmers who are taking steps to minimize runoff of this vital plant nutrient. “Farmers take the hit for the phosphorus that runs off into watershed areas, but agriculture is not the only culprit,” says Dale Bartholomew, a certified crop adviser with a key agricultural retailer in Caledonia, N.Y. “Homeowners who over apply lawn fertilizers also contribute to the problem.” For full story, click here.

EPA report draws criticism from Kansas Livestock Association

High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal – November 18, 2013

Kansas Livestock Association recently submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency critical of its draft science report titled “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters.” The report was assembled from available peer-reviewed scientific literature on how intermittent ditches and streams and isolated wetlands are related to navigable waters. Information from scientific reports typically guides an agency in constructing future regulations. In this case, however, EPA first wrote its jurisdictional rule on waters of the U.S. under the Clean Water Act and submitted the rule to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review in late summer, then published the Connectivity report in late September. EPA’s attempt to write the rule and then assemble the science suggests it is engaged in an attempt to make the science justify its goal to exponentially expand federal jurisdiction under CWA. For full article, click here.

Conservation is not to be forgotten in the farm bill

By Bill Wenzel – Star Tribune – November 17, 2013

In recent weeks, much attention, both in Washington and on these opinion pages, has been focused on the federal farm bill. A bipartisan conference committee, including three members of the Minnesota congressional delegation — Reps. Tim Walz and Collin Peterson and Sen. Amy Klobuchar — has started to work diligently on finalizing a compromise agreement before the end of the year. With so much focus on the commodity and nutrition portions of the farm bill, we must not lose sight of the opportunity to reinstate meaningful conservation measures in it. For full opinion, click here.