It’s no secret that China is the US’s largest customer for soybeans and many other products. Phil Laney, retired from the US Soybean Export Council as Director for China explains that China has more cultivated land mass than the US, yet can’t seem to monetize on agricultural technology or significantly increase production. Laney explains why:
“The Chinese technical and research developments don’t get to market very well. I mean, we’re always reading that 'they’ve earned this, they’ve developed that' but it never really shows up in the market place. Of course, they have some structural problems. They’ve got so many people on the land, and the land holdings are so small, it’s very hard to make them efficient without somehow coming in and making the farms a lot bigger. I mean, that’s part of it, and again, the quality of the seeds and the quality of their other inputs is very, very dubious.”
Economy Still Growing at Glacial Pace
The Commerce Department reports that the economy grew at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the last quarter of 2011. PNC Bank Senior Economist Gus Faucher says that's okay, but not enough to get millions of people back to work:
“If you’re in the middle of an economy that’s doing well, that’s a good number, but when unemployment is 8.5 percent unemployment it’s disappointing because it means that job growth isn’t going to be particularly strong.”
Miss America 2011 Continues Spreading Message of Ag's Importance
Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan, a Nebraska native, has become a visible advocate for agriculture. During her reign – she partnered with The Hand That Feeds US and other agriculture groups. In traveling across the country – she has found there is massive disconnect geographically:
“I see such a difference in the way that young children in schools view farming and ag if they’re in a big city or on a coast rather than a small town in the Midwest. And then of course seeing a huge difference in the way that generations view the importance of ag.”
To be an advocate for agriculture, Scanlan encourages supporters to reach out to consumers with the use of media and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. In 2012, Scanlan will also continue her partnership with The Hand That Feeds U.S.
What is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map All About?
Peter Bretting of the Agricultural Research Service explains what the USDA plant hardiness zone map is all about:
“Like the prior map, this map focuses really, on one stress factor, and that’s the extreme annual low temperature in a winter.”
The USDA made changes to the zone hardiness map for the first time since 1990 last week, due in no small part to global warming.