GFM Network News


Crop prices and consumer food demand

Neither the production nor the consumption side of the total food supply equation responds quickly to price decreases

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of columns exploring how agriculture supply-and-demand fundamentals function differently than those of other businesses. In describing the model we use to analyze agricultural policies, the two previous columns examined the responsiveness of the production of grains, oilseeds, and fibres to changes in prices. We saw that

Adjusting production to lower prices is a slow process in crop agriculture

Aggregate crop production tends to remain steady in the face of lower prices, 
essentially locking in low prices for long periods of time

There are several reasons why farmers do not respond in textbook fashion to a reduction in prices by making a proportional reduction in production. Farmers must begin planning for a given crop at least two years before the marketing year for that crop comes to a close. Most of these decisions have to be made


Dead sunflowers stand in a field in Dickinson, North Dakota January 21, 2016. The collapse of U.S. oil and gas investment could have further to fall and Americans are showing signs they spend less of their windfall from lower gasoline prices than in the past, darkening the outlook for the U.S. economy.

The nature of agricultural supply

Farmers don’t respond to supply-and-demand signals in the same way as other business operators

As we lay out the social and economic model that provides the foundation for our analysis of agricultural policy in its myriad forms, we begin by looking at the economic characteristics of agriculture, particularly the areas where agriculture does not operate in the same ways as other businesses and industries with which most people are

Agricultural interests object to healthy eating recommendations

Thomas Vilsack, secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appeared before the House Agriculture Committee on Oct. 7 to respond to criticism of the “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee” by members of the agriculture committee. Chief

Selective use of science won’t sell GMOs

Transparency is key to gaining credibility with the public

When it comes to issues like GMOs, antibiotic residues on meat, global warming, water pollution, and pesticide use and its residuals, participants on one or both sides of the issue make an appeal to science to bolster their position. Witness the recent article in the New York Times titled, “Food Industry Enlisted Academics in GMO


The receding waterline of Lake Hodges is seen in San Diego County Jan. 17, 2014, when California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency.

Considering the true cost of agricultural production systems

Externalizing the cost of production is becoming less acceptable to society

California is in the midst of a multi-year drought that has reduced the snowpack and rains that fill the reservoirs and irrigation canals that provide water for the cities of the state as well as agricultural production. The result is lower allocations and higher prices for all water users including agriculture. Some farmers have responded

Outright repeal of COOL defies consumer sentiment

It was how the meat-packing industry applied the law that caused the negative effects on imports

The fate of the U.S. COOL (country-of-origin labelling) program for beef, pork, and poultry hangs in the balance as Congress goes on its Independence Day recess. Given the May 18, 2015 WTO (World Trade Organization) ruling against COOL, the threat of $3 billion in retaliatory tariffs being imposed on U.S. products by Canada and Mexico,

Temple Grandin says the slaughter plants have been fixed. Now it’s time for the farm.

Fight the video cameras with video cameras: Temple Grandin

Famed animal welfare advocate says well-run operations can welcome public scrutiny

Fixing the slaughter plants was easy,” Temple Grandin told the 2015 annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). “But now I see problems that we are going to have to fix at the farm: lame dairy cows, emaciated dairy cows because somebody let them go too long, animal production to the point we


Analyzing the Smithfield deal

The Chinese meat products firm Shuanghui International has announced its acquisition of Smithfield Foods, which controls 26 per cent of U.S. pork-processing capacity and 15 per cent of U.S. pork production. The value of the transaction is estimated by Smithfield to be US$7.1 billion. A number of questions began to run through our heads. Good

COOL: Some are for it, some are not

More than a decade after mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) was first included in the Farm Bill, the debate continues. We’ve examined a legal opinion by the legal firm Stewart and Stewart (S&S) — paid for by the National Farmers Union, the United States Cattleman’s Association, the Food and Water Watch, and Public Citizen’s Global Trade