Posted on

When the Big Overshadows the Little

Coat_of_arms_of_Zambia_svg

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…

Read more

Posted on

Holy Cow!

Cow_female_black_white

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…

Read more

Posted on

China – Where Will Food Come From?

History_of_China

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…

Read more

Posted on

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

P1040117

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…

Read more

Posted on

Fonterra – How Complicated Can the Milk Business Get?

800px-Dairy_cow

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…

Read more

Posted on

Got Milk?

wahaha_company_logo

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…

Read more

Posted on

Bits and Pieces of a Bigger Story

coat_of_arms_of_cambodia_svg

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…

Read more

Posted on

Chinese Investors Pursue Food of the Gods (Chocolate)

cacao_aztec_sculpture

Touch the Soil News #508 (Feature Photo – Aztec sculpture with cocoa pod) The cocoa bean (or cacao bean) grows on the trunks of the cacao tree. It grows in tropical zones and is processed after harvesting to make cocoa solids and cocoa butter – the basis of chocolate. The cacao tree is native to the Americas and has been cultivated for its bean for almost 5,000 years. Today, 75 percent of the cacao beans are produced in Africa, 15 percent in the Americas and about 10 percent in Oceania. Cocoa beans drying in the sun (photo courtesy of Irene Scott/AusAID). In order to assure a reliable supply of this…

Read more

Posted on

The External Tentacles on American Agriculture

whgroup

Touch the Soil News #501 Few folks realize that global trade agreements mean that foreign interests can own and operate agricultural enterprises in America the same as Americans. Back in 2013, the world’s largest pork processing company – Smithfield Foods – was purchased by Chinese state-supported company Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. for $14 billion. Brands such as Smithfield, Nathan’s, Armour and Farmland are icons in America – but are Chinese owned. Today, Smithfield has over 50,000 employees in the U.S., Mexico and 10 European countries. The company also owns the world’s largest slaughterhouse and meat-processing plan in the world located in Tar Heel, North Carolina. Overall, the company processes over…

Read more

Posted on

Words of Premonition?

original_ccpit

Touch the Soil News #498 The chairman of the Chinese overseas trade council – Jiang Zengwei – recently made a foretelling announcement. “We must help Chinese agriculture go global, as people have an increased demand for agricultural products with improved quality.” Less than two years ago, China was still steeped in policies that obliged the nation to attempt to produce its own food. That failed, and China is now openly grazing around the world for agricultural assets. Yes, some of the food will be purchased on the global market. However, much of it will come in the form of owning agricultural assets – farmland, food manufacturing facilities, transportation facilities and…

Read more