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What Should Be Done?

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Touch the Soil News #671 (feature photo – USDA) Folks in Oregon are in an uproar over the recent Oregon DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) decision to permit a new 30,000 head dairy. The dairy is located in Eastern Oregon (Boardman) about 10 miles from the Columbia River. The Columbia River is the largest river on the West Coast that drains waters from millions of square miles into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. The Oregon DEQ has reported over 4,200 comments from the public, many of them in protest. Boardman is in a rural and remote area far from the majority of Oregon’s population centered around Portland. To be…

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Got Milk?

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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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Will Home Gardeners Ever Produce Their Own Milk?

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Touch the Soil News #408 Chances are they will not. But if they did, they might do it organically. Since fluid milk and its families of products such as cheese and yogurt are in many of the foods we buy, the universe of milk in general and organic milk in specifics is of impact to us all. The largest purveyor of organic milk owns a brand that we are all familiar with – Organic Valley. What makes them different is that they are a cooperative of small dairy families around the nation. The actual name of the cooperative is “Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP).” CROPP had its beginnings…

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Food-Chain News Roundup

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Touch the Soil News # 149 Billionaires and Food Vietnam’s only billionaire, Pham Nhat Vuong, through his investment company Vingroup, is putting together a $46.5 million dollar greenhouse food enterprise. Up till now, Vuong has been involved in property development – making agriculture a total departure from his norm. Helping in the project is Israeli company Netafim. Netafim builds out greenhouses and is the world’s leader in drip irrigation products and technology. Vuong represents just one small investor, among a growing flock of investors looking to harness their dollars in food and agriculture. Greenhouse food production near cities attracts billionaire Farmers Open Grocery Store Two Canadian farmers – Simone Rudge…

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Impossible Foods – Getting the Google Eye

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Touch the Soil News # 148 To get a more complete picture of what is going on here, a few words about Impossible Foods. Impossible Foods was created by Patrick O. Brown, MD, PhD and a Stanford University Biologist. The business is three years old and is located in Redwood City, California. To date, Brown has assembled an impressive staff of researchers and developers to include over 50 scientists, farmers and engineers. Their goal – make the best meats and cheeses you’ll ever eat – from plants. The team looked at specific proteins and nutrients from greens, seeds, and grains to recreate a very realistic experience of meats and dairy…

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Can you Name the Largest Food Company in the World? (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News # 146 Forbes Magazine and News has been one of the closest followers of Cargill, its finances and its global footprint. In its November 23, 2104 issue, Forbes writer Dan Alexander provided some rare insights into what Cargill is presently doing: Creating a $100 million cocoa plant in Indonesia. Putting in a $91 million livestock-feed factory in Korea. Building a large dairy feed facility in India capable of producing 1.2 million metric tons a year. All in all, Cargill has poured more than $3 billion into upgraded facilities, acquisitions and new projects around the world over the past year. Besides being directly involved with food production,…

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Got Milk? International Tensions Behind Building World’s Largest Dairy

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Touch the Soil News # 139 Unable to produce all the milk products it needs, Russia has historically relied heavily on dairy imports from Europe. Recently, the EU extended economic sanctions against Russia. In Retaliation, Russia has worked out a deal with China to take their milk business to China. The deal is to build a 100,000 cow dairy in China and then create a farm in Russia to raise all the feed. The projects are financed by both Russian and Chinese investors. European Union farmers are already uneasy. The proposed China dairy is under construction and will take away 30 percent of the EU’s dairy exports to Russia. The…

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Emerging Specs of a Food-Chain Mega Trend (Part 1 of 2)

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There is an emerging correlation between retirement savings and the future of food. Most of us don’t know where our pension funds and retirement plans are invested. In many cases, retirement funds end up in the hands of an institutional investor. Institutional investors handle large sums of money for high net worth individuals, pension plans, endowment funds and municipal treasurers. By far and away, the largest source of investment funds in the U.S. is the retirement arena. Research, by the Investment Company Institute, reveals that at the end of 2008, assets in the U.S. retirement market totaled $14.2 trillion. By year end 2014, that number was $24.7 trillion – a…

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How to Recognize a Farming Short Circuit – a Precursor to a Food Crisis

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March 31, 2015 │USDA, Washington D.C.  Every year at this time, the USDA issues an estimate of what acres will be planted to the four (4) major crops for the coming year. It is not common knowledge that the market-play of the four major crops is a precursor to a food crisis. They are called major crops because they dominate – by acres – the land farmed in the U.S. – and to some extent the world. America’s 913 million acres of farmland are divided into two main categories – cropland and pasture. Of the 913 million acres, 324 million are in cropland and 589 million in pasture. On some…

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The Pain of Milk Production – Human and Animal

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In general, one of the driving forces shaping food and agriculture is a chronic repetition of farm prices below the cost of production. It has brought consolidation in farm numbers, loss of the family farm, incented poor soil stewardship and brought some scary technology to the world. This is also true for the dairy industry. A few years back, when working as an agricultural credit officer for one of the nation’s largest agricultural banks, I was handling a large dairy portfolio. When milk prices dropped, some dairy farmers pushed their cows to the limits. I remember hearing about challenge feeding – a practice of getting cows to eat more so…

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