Return to TFB Main Page
Return to Current Edition
Texas Agriculture Archive

February 20, 2004

Fewer farmers, but more diverse
A preliminary summary of the 2002 Census shows that while the nation's farmers shrank in numbers, they are now working more acres and have become more diverse.

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 farmers—847,680 of which are women—the 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.
Source: AFBF; Executive Newswatch, Feb. 4, 2004

First U.S. BSE case poses food for thought
Really… there could be no other cases of BSE (Mad Cow) in the U.S.—it's possible.

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."

Also…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 "downers" tested.
Source: Pro Farmer, Feb. 7, 2004, Vol. 32, No. 6

Low-tech farmers say yes to high-tech crops
More than 85 percent of resource-poor farmers in developing countries now plant biotech crops, according to a study by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

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 2005.
Source: LandOwner, Jan. 22, 2004

Labor inspectors killed in Brazil
Three labor inspectors were recently killed in Brazil, while following a tip that a farm in the central state of Minas Gerais was using illegal slave labor.

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
All sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on Jan.1, 2004, totaled 6.09 million head, down 3 percent from 2003 and 9 percent below two years ago. The inventory has trended downward since peaking at 56.2 million head in 1942.

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 from 2002.
Source: NASS; USDA; Sheep and Goats, Jan. 30, 2004

Tax exempt status of PETA questioned
A consumer group has asked the Internal Revenue Service to cancel the tax-exempt status of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

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.
Source: AFBF; Executive Newswatch, Jan. 26, 2004