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Forget Free Trade – Just Buy Food Producing Assets

Touch the Soil News #867 (Feature photo – Holstein Dairy Cow – USDA public domain) Our economic system is complicated. First, working people and businesses must translate their efforts into dollars. Then in the intense competition over dollars, many get externalized. To top it off, speculators play all kinds of tricks when it comes to the price of food. Is free trade – within the present economic paradigm – really that smart? The world’s largest nation – China – doesn’t think it completely is. That is why their economic goals are often not focused on free trade, but ownership of food producing assets. Recently, the largest and oldest dairy in…

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Is Russian Ice Cream Better?

Is Russian Ice Cream Better?   Touch the Soil News #861 (Feature photo – CCA SA 3.0 Unported) We love ice cream in America, but the Chinese now consume more ice cream than the United States. Chinese ice cream consumption now stands at 4 liters per person. At approximately 2 lbs. per liter, China’s 1.4 billion people consume over 11 billion pounds of ice cream a year, a four-fold increase since 1996. The U.S. consumes about 8 billion pounds of ice cream a year. The Chinese, are familiar with the brands we are. The largest sellers of ice cream in China are Haagen-Dazs and Dairy Queen. Together, these two companies…

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China’s New Direct Link to America’s Agricultural Heartland

Touch the Soil News #785 (Feature photo – Mississippi River Barge – Public Domain) Most folks have never heard of Growmark. Growmark, headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois, is the nation’s second largest agricultural cooperative. It has operations in more than 40 states and is owned by over 10,000 farmers. Established in 1927, Growmark helps its farmer-owners sell their grain – over 200 million bushels a year. Chances are high that Growmark is in a community in your state. So what is so special about Growmark? Besides being one of the world’s largest farmer cooperatives, Growmark recently established strategic ties with COFCO. COFCO (China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation). COFCO is…

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When the Big Overshadows the Little

Touch the Soil News #774 (feature photo – Coat of Arms for the Nation of Zambia – Public Domain) In the wide world of food and agriculture, the world is undergoing a new colonialism. Big nations that are far beyond their capacity to feed themselves are creating tight economic and political relationships with smaller nations that have excess farmland and water. It’s a global game of chess in which the stakes are higher than oil – food. While our big player today is China, there are other powerful food-insecure players on the horizon such as India and oil rich but food poor Middle East nations. Hitting the news recently is…

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Holy Cow!

Touch the Soil News #765 Belarus, a small Eastern European nation is inking a big cow deal with China as we speak. While details are still sketchy, the scope of the proposed project is stunning. Chinese agricultural giant DRex Food Group is wanting to build out a giant dairy in Belarus that will probably be over 50,000 cows. The real kicker is not so much the number of cows, but the massive land area that will become part of the Dairy – most of it to provide feed for the cows. The first farm will be around 110,000 acres and talk is there might be 4 or 5 more dairies…

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China – Where Will Food Come From?

Touch the Soil News #706 Bloomberg News recently reported that China is scratching its head as to how to feed its 1.4 billion people in the future. China can’t feed its people today on its own as it must import millions of tons of staple crops each year. The problem is that by 2050 there will be another 2 billion people (besides the Chinese) that the world will have to feed. Much of China’s original farmable land has been urbanized, industrialized and polluted, leaving it unable to feed itself. China has 290 million acres of prime farm ground – roughly two tenths of an acre per person. The U.S. has…

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Who’s Vying for a Seat at the Dinner Table?

Touch the Soil News #621 While the obvious answer to the question is everyone, the secondary answer is the nation in which you might live. Almost 60 percent of the world’s peoples live in just 10 nations. Can you guess them? Global food trade is the amount of food that nations with food to sell export to nations that need to import food. In a nutshell, that is almost every nation in the world. Even the USA – considered by many as a powerhouse of agricultural production – imports more than $100 billion a year in food. Today, when we think of international trade, the hot topic is imported cars…

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Fonterra – How Complicated Can the Milk Business Get?

Touch the Soil News #617 Fonterra means “spring from the land.” Fonterra is one of the world’s largest dairy producers and manufacturers headquartered in New Zealand. The company is responsible for about 30 percent of the global dairy trade and is the largest company in New Zealand. New Zealand in general and Fonterra in specifics are to dairy what Saudi Arabia is to oil. No, you probably won’t see Fonterra dairy products at the grocery store. However, you might be eating them when you go to McDonalds. Fonterra supplies enough cheese to McDonalds to create a cheese ring that goes 3.5 times around the Earth. Fonterra is a dairy cooperative…

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Got Milk?

Touch the Soil News #532 Rumors are that America’s largest milk processor, Dean Foods, has become the target of a takeover bid by Chinese Hangzhou Wahaha Group. The Financial Times reports that the Hangzhou Wahaha Group is approaching banks in Hong Kong to finance the acquisition of Dean Foods. Dean Foods is the largest processor and distributor of fluid milk to grocery stores in the United States. Dean Foods has 70 manufacturing facilities throughout the United States and approximately 17,000 employees. Primary milk brands include Meadow Gold, Land O’ Lakes, Pet, Garflick, Oak Farms, Alta Dena, TruMoo and some 30 other brands. While overall consumption of milk products such as…

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Bits and Pieces of a Bigger Story

Touch the Soil News #526 While we are going to explore a major food development in Cambodia, the world’s food chain connects the well-being of all nations (feature photo is the official coat of arms for Cambodia). Far from American consciousness is the nation of Cambodia. Cambodia is a country of 16 million people whose political and business sectors are notorious for corruption. The average per-capita GDP is only $1,150 per person per year. In a rather incomplete news piece by Cambodia Times, a prominent news story was put forth about a new Chinese investment in Cambodia – A $2 billion food freezing and processing center close to Phnom Penh…

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