Agricultural Policy Review: Volume 2014, Issue 2
What percentage of Iowa’s current row-crop farmer prosperity is the result of row-crop agriculture being completely unregulated in terms of water pollution, and therefore able to externalize water pollution costs? Installing new conventional pattern tiling, for example, raises crop yields but sends more polluted water into the drainage outlet (usually a river or lake). The farmer profits from the increased yield but pays nothing for the increased water pollution, which impacts society at large, since most rivers and lakes are public. Has any research been done on this question?
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) has spread rapidly through the United States swine herd since initial diagnosis in spring 2013. By May 2014, it had been identified in 29 of the contiguous states. Incidence has been greatest in the hog dense states and also Oklahoma and Kansas, as shown in Figure 1. Data are number of positives based on sample genetic tests, taken from National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), as reported in www.aasv.org/pedv/PEDv_weekly_report_140326.pdf.
The presence of a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico caused by nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) coming from upstream watersheds continues to recur annually. As part of the 2008 action plan promulgated by the Hypoxia Task Force to address the problem, each state with major nutrient contributions to the Gulf was tasked with developing and implementing a nutrient reduction strategy. Most of the 12 states included have begun or completed their plans. A common theme among all states is the focus on voluntary adoption of the practices identified rather than a regulatory strategy.
Competing demands from food, feed, energy, and environmental uses are placing stress on global land resources. To deal with these challenges, much hope rests on sustaining the trend of past productivity growth by developing and adopting new technologies. In this context, there is much to learn from the US experience of tremendous yield gains achieved thanks to improved crop varieties and management practices.
Agricultural demand has remained strong through the first half of 2014. Crop and livestock prices have provided good returns because of strong demand. As we move into the summer season, live cattle prices have moved into the $140–$150 range. Feeder cattle prices have topped $200 per hundredweight; and lean hogs have approached nearly $130 per hundredweight. Also, corn and soybean prices offered crop producers positive profit margins during the planting season.