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agricultural outlook forum

Market News - Indispensable to Producers on Earth, Now Goes to MARS

Editor's Note: The free webinar on the Market Analysis and Reporting Services (MARS) has been moved to Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 2 p.m. Eastern.  Sign up using this link:  http://bit.ly/1MxNAWj

For over 100 years, USDA Market News has been an indispensable service, used by agricultural producers of all sizes to get timely, unbiased data from Market News reporters across the country.  Farmers, ranchers, and the entire agricultural supply chain turn to USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – for data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.  Now, Market News is entering a new phase, deploying the Market Analysis & Reporting Services (MARS).  It’s a big step forward for AMS, Market News and for the markets and producers that use our data every day.

MARS was formally unveiled during the recent USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum.  It includes the ability to capture livestock auctions for commodities like feeder cattle and will eventually include more than 600 commodities in real time (where applicable), and moves reporter’s data capture from the paper age to a connected digital age.  That means a reporter at a livestock auction in, for example, Kansas will know in real time what comparable feeder cattle is selling for at an auction in Texas.

Public-Private Partnerships: A Forum Focus

Teamwork can improve virtually any endeavor, from partnering with a neighbor by exchanging butchered meat for hay to feed the rest of the herd or simply sharing a ride to save on gas.  The result is usually savings and efficiency.

At USDA, that notion is taken to another level with public-private partnerships that improve economic stability for producers, the financial sector, and a nation that leans heavily on the shoulders of its farmers and ranchers.

Consumer Demand Bolstering Organic Production and Markets in the U.S.

Organic food sales in the United States have shown double-digit growth during most years since the 1990s, and this trend shows no sign of slowing.  The Nutrition Business Journal reports annual growth in the nation’s organic food sales has generally exceeded 10 percent since the downturn in the American economy in 2008.  U.S. organic food sales approached an estimated $37 billion in 2015, up 12 percent from the previous year.  The country’s top food retailers, including Costco, Kroger, Walmart and Target, have expanded their organic food offerings in recent years, and have announced initiatives which could further boost demand.

Although organic sales have been increasing from a small base, the Organic Trade Association estimates that U.S. organic food purchases accounted for nearly 5 percent of the total food market in 2014.  In addition, U.S. sales of organic personal care products, linens, and other nonfood items were in excess of an estimated $3 billion in 2014.  Certified organic farmland has also expanded, while not as fast as organic sales.

2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum: How Land Tenure & Transition Can Transform the Rural Economy

Focus on land tenure and transition issues has grown considerably in recent years, especially its impact on new and beginning farmers. "New and beginning farmers are the future of American agriculture," said Deputy Secretary Harden.  "The average age of an American farmer is 58 and increasing, so we must help new farmers get started if America is going to continue feeding the world and maintain a strong agriculture economy."  As the age of the principal farm operator continues to increase, the focus on this issue intensifies. Land tenure, succession and estate planning, and access to land for new and beginning farmers will be among the topics discussed in a session at USDA’s 2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum this month.

Congrats to the Student Diversity Program Winners, See You at the 2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum

A group of 30 university students, announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, will get a head start to a career in agriculture as winners of USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program.  Twenty university juniors and seniors were chosen based their essays on “Agriculture as a Career.”  Additionally, 10 graduate students were chosen in response to “The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture over the Next Five Years.”

Agricultural Production in Brazil: Adapting to a Resilient Climate

Over the last 25 years, the American farmer has become increasingly aware of the impact of South American agricultural output on the global supply of grains and oilseeds.  For example, in recent years Brazil has risen to the number one position as an exporter of soybeans.  Further, the combined output of Brazil and its neighbors, Argentina and Paraguay, is challenging the United States’ position as the world’s leading supplier of corn.

Brazil is unique in that it has a relatively stable agricultural output trend due to improving production techniques, and in most years, abundant rainfall for production of various crops.  The climate and cropping patterns are behind the increases in agricultural production, which were made possible by the shift of production into regions less prone to drought.  There is also the potential for expansion into untapped lands, although infrastructure and land ownership issues are a limiting factor.  Meantime, thanks to ample rainfall and land resources enjoyed by producers, Brazil has the potential to become an agricultural powerhouse for years to come.

China's Impacts of Slowing Growth on Trade and Agriculture in the U.S.

International trade is a major factor in the American agricultural economy.  A key player is China.  In fact China’s impact on slowing growth on trade and agriculture is a session topic during the 2016 United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Over the last two decades, China’s economic prosperity and increased consumer demand for food has significantly contributed to the record growth in United States agricultural exports.  From fiscal year (FY) 2000 to FY 2015, the value of U.S. agricultural and related exports to China rose from $1.7 to $25.9 billion dollars.  Currently, nearly 17 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports are destined for the Chinese market.  These export figures highlight the critical importance of the U.S.-China trade relationship for U.S. agriculture and underscores the United States interest in China’s ability to maintain a strong and stable economy.

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Onelisa Garza

To wrap up our Women’s Week blog series, we hear from Onelisa Garza, a current college senior at Texas A&M University, Kingsville who was raised in the small town of Linn, Texas. Onelisa has been very active in organizations like 4-H and FFA her whole life and has held many leadership positions through them. She discusses how she discovered that she wanted to dedicate her career to helping others understand the importance of agriculture.  Onelisa has been in many agriculture science classes where the other students had never seen cattle in real life or a field of cotton – things that she always took for granted growing up. She will graduate in December of 2015 and plans to use her agriculture degree to become a County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth and Development.

In Their Own Words: Secretary Vilsack, Students Reflect on the Future of American Agriculture

During this year’s Agricultural Outlook Forum, Secretary Vilsack sat down with college students participating in the Forum’s Student Diversity Program. Many former participants have gone on to achieve great things in the field of agriculture, which will come as no surprise after you hear what this year’s students told Secretary Vilsack about the future of agriculture and their role in it:

Smart Federal Partnerships Build Our Biofuels Future

Here at USDA, we believe collaboration is the key to helping us address our nation's most pressing needs, like energy. Building on partnerships in both the public and private sphere, we are leveraging resources to achieve and impact far greater than USDA could ever achieve alone. During this year’s Agricultural Outlook Forum, one breakout session concerned the importance of the bioeconomy in the areas of national security, growth potential, job creation, reduced dependence on oil, and environmental benefits. The session also stressed the need for partnerships to contribute to a growing the bioeconomy as it moved to center stage during the 21st century.  One of the speakers at the session was Jonathan Male, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), U.S. Department of Energy.

Cross-posted from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy blog: