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7 ag stories you might have missed this week - March 6, 2020

Ag Economy Barometer sets new record, Virginia considers milk labeling bill and extracting minerals from plants.

Missed some ag news this week? We'll catch you up with seven stories from the week.

1. The Ag Economy Barometer hit a new record high this month. Producers were also more optimistic about farmland values this month. When asked to look ahead five years, 59% of producers said they expect farmland values to rise, up from 50% a month earlier. This was the most positive response to this question since data collection began in 2015. – Farm Futures

2. Food activists and farmers sued the Trump administration over its decision to let hydroponic operators use the organic label. The suit says the administration's decision "undermines the very integrity" of the organic label. - Bloomberg

3. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue sees a “less than 10%” chance that U.S. farmers will get another round of trade aid this year, despite a tweet from President Donald Trump last month raising the possibility. – Farm Futures

4. Brothers Ty and Jay Stukenholtz have been designing and inventing biomass harvesting equipment for more than 20 years. Their latest invention, the FarmMax Interceptor, is a combine attachment designed to harvest all the main components of a hemp plant. – Nebraska Farmer

5. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have discovered a novel gene that improves drought adaptation in wheat. In research published in Plant Biotechnology Journal, Harkamal Walia, associate professor and Heuermann Chair of Agronomy and Horticulture at Nebraska, and colleagues describe the gene obtained from wild wheat. Wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world.  – North Platte Telegraph

6. Last year’s flooding was the costliest in the last decade, easily overwhelming the 40-year average of about $3.7 billion a year. Most states in the American heartland have had two to three times more moisture than normal so far this winter, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. California, on the other hand, has been largely dry. Nearly 70% of California is currently abnormally dry or in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor in Lincoln, Nebraska. – Farm Futures

7. The Virginia General Assembly approved a bill that, if signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, would limit the use of the term "milk" to labels on products that are the "lacteal secretion of a healthy hooved mammal." So cow, goat and yak secretions are milk, but liquid from soy, almonds or oats isn't. This is the latest state to address the issue. In 2018, North Carolina adopted a dairy purity law. Maryland has passed a version too. Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin have also debated similar legislation. – WAMU

And your bonus.

Phytomining, or extracting minerals from hyper-accumulating plants, could be used to clean up former mines. An agronomist at USDA invented the word phytomining in 1983. Researchers hope that a sizable portion of consumer demand for base metals and rare minerals could be filled by the same kind of farming that produces the world's coconuts and coffee. – The New York Times

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