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Farm News & Views for the week of April 29, 2024

With additional reports of H5N1 bird flu virus infecting dairy cattle here in the U.S., and the discovery of virus fragments in pasteurized milk, some folks are becoming concerned about this outbreak. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration article, “Updates on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza'', provides information about how this agency is dealing with the disease. This is a link to the report:

Also, last week, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued a Federal Order to combat the growing threat of H5N1 avian influenza, and beginning on April 29th, all dairy cattle will be required to have a negative HPAI test before being transported across state lines.

As if threats to our milk supply aren’t bad enough, there are also reports of a virus that’s attacking cacao trees in the West African countries of Ghana and the Ivory Coast. This virus may cause the loss of from 15% to 50% of percent of cacao beans from the infected trees. If your initial reaction is “so what,” it may be interesting to note that between 15 percent to 50 percent of the world’s chocolate originates from cacao beans produced on cacao trees in this region of West Africa. The disease, the cacao swollen shoot virus, is spread by mealybugs that eat the leaves, buds, and flowers of trees. Reports indicate that Ghana has lost more than 254 million cacao trees in recent years.

According to an article at the University of Illinois Farm Doc Daily, the world has added 398 million harvested acres of feed grains, food grains, and oil seeds during the 21st century. About 2% of these acres were in tropical countries, including Brazil and India, while the three tropical countries adding the most acres were Sudan, Mali, and Tanzania in Sub-Saharan Africa. China added the most acres among non-tropical countries, but the former Soviet Union countries of Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan collectively added more than 57 million acres, while the US harvested 4 million fewer acres of feed grains, food grains, and oil seeds in 2023 than in 2000.

The EPA recently published the latest edition of the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2022. The report outlines an annual estimate of all man-made greenhouse gas emission sources in the U.S. as well as estimates of the amount of carbon trapped in forest and vegetation soils. Although agriculture is often criticized for emission from livestock production, the report stated that U.S. agriculture represents just under 10% of total U.S.greenhouse gas emissions when compared to other economic sectors. Overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased from 2021 to 2022 by 1.3%, while at the same time, agricultural emissions dropped 1.8%. That’s the largest decrease of any economic sector in the U.S. The report pointed out that 2022 marks the lowest U.S. agricultural greenhouse gas emissions since 2012. The breakdown for agricultural total emissions were 4.32% for livestock production, 5% for crop cultivation, and other fuel combustion was less than 1%. Greenhouse gas emissions for other sectors of the economy included transportation, accounting for over 28%, electric power generation at almost 25%, and all other industries at just less than 23%.

American historian and philosopher Will Durant wrote, “To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves”

Bob has been an agricultural educator and farm and ranch management consultant for over 40 years in southwest Colorado. He writes about agricultural issues from his farm near Cortez, and has helped to produce farm reports on KSJD for more than a dozen years.