Agriculture is a very important part of our society. It is what helps to create crops and many other things that we use every single day. Farming takes a lot of hard labor and a lot of time, and farmers expend a lot of their time and energy to conserve their farms. People who own farms use that as their source of income. They have an abundant amount of animals in which they take care of on the farm, and use in order to get food resources.
Because the farmers use this as their main source of income, it is hard for them to get and maintain health insurance. Most families obtain health insurance by working for a corporation full time, and because farmers are self-employed they carry the burden of purchasing health insurance on their own. This is the reason that most farmers operate without health insurance. They make sure to at least carry insurance on their farms, tools, and livestock.
With the life of a farmer being such a risk, the insurance is more expensive as well. Farmers have to work with very dangerous equipment every day. If a farmer gets severely injured or ill, it is very possible and likely that he and his family will lose the farm. Because this is a known issue among the farming community, the government created something to try and help called the Affordable Care Act. This act provided different and new options of insurance for the farmers to choose from, while being more affordable than it was in the past. However, the Affordable Care Act is still not as affordable as most farmers would like. This act is an excellent advancement towards what farmers need, and shows promise for the future that farmers will be able to obtain the coverage they need, and keep their farms.
When you think of farming you most-likely get that perceived notion of wide open fields that pioneered the use of rearing livestock, but according to Reddit, an online report published on theGuardian, that vision you have has drastically changed.
Annually, more and more animal facilities are currently being built or existing ones extended. The argument for these mega-farms is that consumers can benefit from lower prices, but animal welfare groups say the devil is in the details.
Modernized farming or “factory farming” opened the doors to lots of problems like mass breeding, growth promoters, and the overuse of antibiotics given to animals. According to a spokeswoman for Compassion in World Farming, Emma Slawinski, “Antibiotics are regularly fed to livestock via food and water to decrease the risk of disease.” In fact, antibiotics became more of a prophylactic use to wipe out any diseases among livestock, however, its overuse made bacteria more resistant. Over the years, multi-resistant bacteria has popped up. And problems can fall through the cracks, like sick livestock, because rarely are individual animals treated. If a chicken, pig or cow falls ill in the pen, with a resistant disease, it may not show obvious signs of illness which can be transferred.
Now, European countries are worried that foreign trade pressures could force British farmers to adopt US farming practices, opening the door to lower standards. The Guardian reports that there are approximately 789 factory farms in the UK, and most are owned and operated by foreign multi-corporations. After Brexit, the UK agricultural businesses were open to customs rules of the World Trade Organization. This caused a disruption to the 800 or so European laws covering wildlife, water quality, agriculture, and fishing, that must be transposed into national law. The removal of farming subsidies and labor shortages have contributed to the UK adopting many US agricultural standards. And while the British government maintains they will protect animal welfare to uphold public confidence, things have already begun to change.
America’s food supply is incredibly important and has become synonymous with orange trees and wheat farms. Almost one third of all food produced is wasted each year translating to a $940 billion global hit. There are too many inefficiencies in planting, trucking, the use of water and harvesting. This is compounded by pests, weather and consumer demand. Inadequate labeling and packaging are leading to waste and illnesses are being caused by pathogens in the food. Emerging technologies can provide solutions for these problems. As big data takes its place in agriculture the food chain is being revolutionized.
Sensors used on crops and fields can provide soil conditions, fertilizer requirements, information on the wind, the availability of water and any infestations by pests. GPS units used for trucks and tractors are a vital factor in the determination of the best usage of heavy equipment. Spoilage can be prevented by using data analytics so products can be moved more efficiently and quickly. Fields can be patrolled by drones and unmanned aerial vehicles so farmers are alerted of potential issues or ripened crops. RFID traceability systems provide data streams on a farm products as they go through the chain of supply. The growth rates and nutrients of individual plants can be monitored. Analytics help determine the crops that should be planted and take profitability and sustainability into consideration. For more details about the future of agriculture please visit https://www.forbes.com/sites/timsparapani/2017/03/23/how-big-data-and-tech-will-improve-agriculture-from-farm-to-table/#6fe5ae0e5989.
Packaging sensors will be used by consumers to detect spoiling food and verify freshness and integrity. Algorithms will create new recipes based on a pantry’s contents. There are already several startups creating a scanner the size of a finger to describe the composition of your dinner including the nutrients and ingredients. New technology will help consumers who are health conscious or have allergies or sensitivities.
The United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance indicated that technology is not specifically about faster and better ways of doing things, but also about sustainability. Farmers have not been left behind when it comes to technological development. Innovations such as terrain contour mapping, moisture sensors, self-driving tractors and smart irrigation are gaining popularity among ranchers and farmers. The developments will positively impact farming, leading to sustainable farming for the ever growing population.
Investments in agriculture technology are continuously on the rise, with AgTech companies earning over $1.75 billion in the first six months of 2016. Farmers of today apply a heavy mix of math, data, software, and hardware in developing analyses that are beyond what the eyes can see. The wellness of the crops can also be assessed through multispectral analysis, where the rates at which plants absorb different wavelengths of sunlight are used to form conclusions.
A survey by USFRA indicates that 56 percent of consumers expect ranchers to employ innovations that help conserve the environment. The CEO of USFRA, Mr. Randy Krotz, added that most consumers understand the impact of innovations in the improvement of lives. He also noted that the U.S agricultural sector is applying technology to create more sustainable and smarter versions of the family farm.
Agriculture can be the joining factor between the benefits of using technology and the acceptance of innovation that is part of the day to day lives of consumers. SMART farms use technology and data to become more equipped and efficient in protecting the planet’s limited resources while ensuring adequate food supply. This is the very definition of sustainability and continual improvement.
The United States’ beef farmers currently have a new market for their products after China announced that it would resume its US beef imports. The Chinese had stopped the importation of the product in 2003. The two countries have completed the procedures that are involved, and therefore, the US exporters can get ready to send their first shipments to China after 14 years. The trade between China and the United States will be beginning in mid-July, and it will help in boosting the economic ties between the two countries.
According to the VP of China Center for International Economic Exchanges, Wei Jinguo, trade between the two countries will increase this year with the Chine importing more products from the United States. President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping had negotiations to improve trade between the two countries and exporting US beef to China was part of the 100-day action strategy. The US Department of Agriculture believes that this is a critical step. The two presidents met in April in Palm Beach, Florida, and their meeting is proving to be highly productive. By May, the US and China had made significant steps, and they revealed their results in industries such as energy, electronic payments, financial services, and agriculture.
The US farmers greatly depend on exports to make their profits. The country currently exports about 50 percent of its farm products. The Chinese banned beef imports in 2003 after there was a scare of mad cow disease, and the United State government has been making unfruitful attempts to reopen the market. The current leader of the US National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Craig Uden, believes that China’s step reflects that they currently trust in the excellent quality and safety of US beef. He hopes that this would be the beginning of the long lasting and mutual relationship between the two countries. USDA said that the meat that should be exported to China should be from cattle that are free from growth promoters and less than 30 months old.
Alex Sutton was a member of the United States Army. He was involved in three different missions in Iraq. He saw a lot of heavy combat during his time in the service. He developed a very serious case of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This condition made it very hard for him to hold down a normal job. In fact, he was virtually unemployable. He was beginning to wonder where his life was going to go now that his time in the military was finally behind him. A friend of his was a farmer. Alex thought that farming would be the perfect profession for him to try to overcome his PTSD. He had his friend teach him many of the basic things that you need to know if you are going to grow crops and care for animals on a regular basis.
It has been a very difficult road to recovery for Alex. He is still haunted by vivid flashbacks and nightmares that remind him of the horrors that he witnessed while serving in Iraq. However, he finds that working hard on his farm is helping him to get a little better one day at a time. He raises pigs, sheep and chickens. He enjoys working with animals and finds their companionship to be comforting. Almost 400,000 of the US military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD. It is because of this that Alex has taken it upon himself to teach some of the veterans how to become a farmer. He hopes that this job will have the same benefits for these people as it does for him.
Having PTSD can be a very difficult thing. Veterans can suffer from severe depression and have suicidal thoughts. Alex finds that being outdoors on a regular basis and breathing fresh air are very important to helping him cope with his PTSD. He is glad that he discovered farming when he did.
U.S. Feed the Future is committed to ensuring that there is sufficient food across the globe and it has an initiative in Hawaii that is called Appui à la Recherche et au Développement Agricole. The foundation recently offered to support the training of more Haitian extension and research professionals by paying the tuition fees of 20 Haitian graduates to attend the University of Illinois, University of Florida (UF), and Louisiana State University for their master’s degrees in agriculture.
The Haitian students need to learn English before they enroll in the universities. Twelve of them left the country on May 20th to better their English skills before August 2017 when they will be joining the Louisiana State University and the University of Florida. Two Haitian students were sponsored by the organization to join the University of Florida. The units that the masters’ students will be studying include nutrient management, post-harvest technology for essential food crops, control of pests and diseases in sorghum and rice, increasing water use efficiency, and bettering crop productivity by utilizing climate-smart production methods. The remaining six graduates will be enrolling in universities by the end of the coming fall.
One of the U.S. Feed the Future sponsored students will work under the supervision of two Tropical Research and Education Center-based researchers. His primary field of study will be on the main factors that influence banana farming in Montrouis, Arcahaie, and Cabaret. The researchers had a meeting with the chair of MARNDR’s department of plant production and FAMV’s assistant dean for research when they visited Haiti in April 2017. They had extensive discussions about their research undertakings.
The students will interact a lot with the Haitian public and private agriculture sectors during their time in the United States. Their research work will be essential in the ensuring agriculture modernization and offering guidance that can assist farmers in ensuring that there is food security in the country. All the Haitian students will work under the supervision of an agriculture professional from their county until they complete their research.
Tyson Foods has issued a recall of more than 80,000 cases of chicken products, accounting for 2.5 million pounds of breaded poultry, after one of its suppliers recognized the presence in milk without indicating its presence in those products. While these products, mostly consisting of ready-made patties of breaded chicken meat, were only available to the service industry, they made it to over half of the states in the country. Notably, some of these products made their way into school cafeterias.
Despite Tyson’s proactive approach, neither it nor the United States Department of Agriculture have heard any instances of someone becoming sick from the relevant products since discovering the issue on the 6th of June. The notifying supplier believed that the problem resulted from the addition of milk to the bread crumbs used in breading poultry. The Tyson supplier who recognized the presence of milk in the company’s chicken products has not been identified by the company or the USDA.
The discrepancy in packaging issues seems to have triggered a snowball effect in recalls within the agricultural sector; as of June 8th, the United States Department of Agriculture has issued a series of serious recalls involving nearly four million pounds of food. June 8th saw Conagra Brands Inc., a rival company to Tyson Foods, recalled more than 700,000 pounds of spaghetti-and-meatball products.
Milk is commonly listed as a dietary allergen due to conditions like lactose intolerance. People who suffer from lactose intolerance have great difficulty when digesting lactose, the sugars contained within milk products. Should a person who suffers from lactose intolerance ever consume products containing lactose, he will begin to suffer from indigestion, intestinal discomfort, bloating or even diarrhea roughly 90 to 120 minutes after consuming such products. The two sources of food most known for lactose are dairy and certain foods, such as processed meats and gravies, that use it as an additive; hard cheese may be safely consumed by the lactose intolerant.
May was the World Trade Month. This was the time that was set aside to appreciate the benefits of international trade. The USDA would say that all months are Trade Months since there are very few sectors that gain a lot from trade than the American agriculture industry. When the US farmers are financially stable, they are not only able to benefit themselves and their families. The money that they get enables them to pay their employees, farm service suppliers, local equipment retailers, and they are also able to support the rural communities where they stay and trade.
In 2015, the farms in the United States produced a gross output of more than $425 billion and the bought inputs that were worth $225 billion. The income that they generated had a great impact on the rural and national economy. Statistics also indicate that 21 million full and part-time jobs, which translate to about 11 percent of US jobs, came from the agriculture and food industries in 2015. The market prices of crops and livestock products significantly influence the income of the farmers. It is necessary to expand exports as a way of increasing the demand for the farm and food products.
The total exports that were made from the agriculture industry in 2016 amounted to about $135 billion. It estimated that about 20 percent of the United States’ agriculture produce is exported. The percentage also varies depending on the products. The export rate stands at 70 percent for cotton and tree nuts, 50 percent for rice, wheat, and soybeans, while meat and dairy products stand at 20 percent.
In would be wise for the Trump administration to make excellent trade agreements during the remaining half 2017 since the country’s agriculture industry is substantially supported by exports. It should help the U.S. agriculture exporters by making deals that slash tariffs, create new markets for the products, and eliminate different challenges that traders face. America’s agriculture producers would not have attained success without the international markets.
President Trump’s initiative to highlight America’s crumbling infrastructure this week has reminded the agribusiness sector on the importance of water for farmers. Not the water to grow the produce, but the water used to move crops to the world’s export market.
- S. farmers and agribusiness sector depend heavily on an aging river system to move grains and produce to the global export market. The nation’s river ways have not seen structural changes or updates to their lock and dam systems in over 50 years.
Agribusiness grain exports such as Cargill, Inc. and Archer Daniel Midland have experienced frequent breakdowns and idled boat crews which add to the transportations cost, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The Trump Administration is proposing to help finance $1 trillion in infrastructure projects for the nation’s airports, seaports, and bridges. American farmers are hoping some of this proposed spending will fix the 242 locks and dams along America’s rivers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the federal agency charged with maintaining American riverways. The agency released its proposed 2018 fiscal year budget which includes $2.098 billion for “the study, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of inland and coastal navigation projects. Small ports and riverways with the most active commercial traffic are a priority in the proposed budget.
The Waterways Council, Inc., which has been advocating for infrastructure spending on inland waterways, has estimated that $8.7 billion is needed immediately to begin to address the poorly maintained lock and dam system.
“Our majestic waterways deliver grain, construction material, and energy products,” states the WCI. “They power commerce, provide jobs, and are a farmer’s lifeline.”