More Agriculture News
Image Source: Cyril Marcilhacy
The tech industry has been exploding for decades, but this year, it's taken a new turn toward something relatively un-technical: farming. In 2020, venture capitalists sunk a record $4.4 billion into re-engineering unstable farming and food systems around the world, including investments in more than 20 tech-driven agriculture startups such as the French insect farm Ynsect and Germany's vertical produce farm Infarm. Global climate change? World population growth? Supply chain challenges? Engineering to the rescue.
Image Source: Rose Marie Cromwell
This year, climate change has challenged crop productivity, the pandemic has interrupted global supply chains, and restaurant closures have sapped demand. Plus, the government's trade wars with China and Europe have led to tariffs on American corn, soybeans, lobsters, and peanuts. According to the American Farm Bureau, debt among farmers will increase by 4% to a record $434 billion this year. In response, the federal government is allocating its largest farm subsidies since 2005. subscription model
Image Source: Kate / Unsplash
The Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and investment group Pacific6 Enterprise have proposed the first ever open-ocean fish farm in federal waters. The pair submitted a federal permit application for its Pacific Ocean AquaFarm project, which aims to produce 5,000 metric tons of farmed sushi-grade yellowtail (hamachi) per year. Approvals are pending from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Image Source: Luca Basili / Unsplash
In Wisconsin last week, the President announced an additional $13 billion in funding for America’s farmers. Wisconsin dairy farmers have suffered steep losses this year due to both pandemic supply chain challenges and reduced exports caused by the White House’s trade policies. The new round of funding will draw from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Fifteen years ago, Dr. Sarah Sallon, who researches natural medicine, teamed up with Elaine Solowey, an expert on arid agriculture, to germinate ancient date seeds from the region of Judea in modern-day southern Israel. Both the Bible and the Quran venerated date palms as symbols of beauty, and from an archive in Jerusalem, Sallon learned that traditional healers considered dates to be beneficial for digestion, blood production, and memory. Dates were also thought to be an aphrodisiac. However, Judean date plantations died out by the Middle Ages. Fortunately, Dr. Sallon found a few date seeds while excavating Masada, the desert fortress near the Dead Sea where Jewish zealots, captured by the Romans in A.D. 73, famously died by their own hands instead of becoming slaves. Sallon took the seeds to Dr. Solowey, who operates the Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura. In 2005, Dr. Solowey planted the seeds in quarantined pots with very few expectations. A couple weeks later, one shoot appeared, and since then the plant has grown into a sturdy tree outside of her office. After 15 years of patiently growing the date plant from 2,000 year old seeds, Sallon and Solowey recently celebrated their first fruit harvest at Kibbutz Ketura in southern Israel.
In the most recent round of federal funding, U.S. trade aid has mostly benefited large corporate farms, despite the government’s promise to help America’s small farmers. In 2018, when the U.S. trade war with China began, a trade bailout program was instituted specifically to help family farms survive the trade the anticipated reduction in demand for U.S. agricultural products. While direct payments were supposed to help small famers, roughly two-thirds of those payments went to the top 10% of recipients at the start of the year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture records. The top half of recipients received 95% of the $28 billion allocated to the Market Facilitation Program. The top tenth of recipients received an average payment of $164,813. Yet, the average payment for the bottom half of recipients was only $2,469.49. The USDA increased the limit for individual payments from $125,000 to $250,000, however, corporate farms have exceeded that upper limit. The top 1% of the program’s beneficiaries got 17% of total trade relief over the most recent two-month span of payments, with an average payment of roughly $455,600, according to CNBC’s analysis.