February 20, 2004
Fewer farmers, but more
Census data shows that the number of U.S. farms is down from 2.21 million in 1997 to 2.12 million. Counting 3.11 million farmers847,680 of which are womenthe census found the average age of farmers in 2002 a fraction above 55 years, compared to 54 years in 1997.
The census also shows the vast majority (1.64 million) of
U.S. farms support only one household. Farms supporting two households
numbered 314,043. According to the census, a farm was defined as any place
where $1,000 or more of agriculture products are produced and sold.
First U.S. BSE case
poses food for thought
What's more likely is there won't be any more confirmed cases of BSE in America. Reason: "If she's wobbly and I don't know why there's a bullet waiting for her." That's how one western cow-calf producer explained his plans to deal with any "questionable cows."
the slaughter ban on "downers" effectively
removes those cattle of "greatest concern" from the pool of
cattle that should be tested for BSE. USDA must find a way to get those
Low-tech farmers say yes
to high-tech crops
The report indicates 7 million such farmers in 18 developing countries now plant biotech crops, up from 6 million growers in 16 countries last year. Clearly these growers are embracing biotech crops for their lower cash cost.
For the seventh year in a row, farmers around the world boosted biotech crop plantings by 15 percent, reaching 167.2 million acres. China and South Africa experience the greatest annual increase, with both countries planting one-third more biotech hectares than in 2002.
Within the next five years, ISAAA sees 10 million farmers
in 25 or more countries planting 100 million hectares (247 million acres)
of biotech crops. Total value of the global market of biotech is expected
to increase from about $4.5 billion this year to $5 billion or more by
Labor inspectors killed
Brazil has seen a dramatic increase in the use of slave labor since the 1970s, when farmers began pushing west into the Amazon to create large tracts of land for cattle and crop production. Owners of large farms often recruit poor Brazilians to work in remote locations for a salary. However, the poor sometimes find that when they arrive there is little or no compensation and no way for them to return home.
Sheep, lamb inventory is down 3 percent
Shorn wool production in the United States during 2003 was 38.1 million pounds, down 8 percent from 2002. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 5.06 million head, down 8 percent from 2002. The average price paid for wool sold in 2003 was $0.72 per pound for a total value of $27.4 million dollars, up 25 percent from $21.9 million dollars in 2002.
All goat inventory in Texas on Jan. 1, 2004 totaled 1.2 million head, unchanged from 2003 and 4 percent below two years ago.
Mohair production in the three major producing states (Arizona,
New Mexico, and Texas) during 2003 was 1.88 million pounds, down 14 percent
from 2002. Average weight per clip was 7.6 pounds compared with 7.7 pounds
a year earlier. Value of mohair was $3.1 million dollars, down 9 percent
Tax exempt status of PETA questioned
The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) estimates that PETA has donated more than $150,000 to criminal activists. Despite a "deceptively warm-and-fuzzy public image," CCF asserts that PETA has provided funding to groups with members who have been convicted of arson, burglary and attempted murder.
Similar to other nonprofit groups such as universities,
houses of worship and social service organizations, PETA pays no federal
taxes on its income. According to CCF, PETA took in more than $17 million
in 2002, and subsequently reaped a $3 million tax break.