President Joe Biden has increased the number of counties eligible for double cropping as part of a series of actions aimed at increasing U.S. production to offset tight global food supplies sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The president also announced a program to increase technical assistance for technology-driven “precision agriculture” and other nutrient management tools, and doubled investment in domestic fertilizer production to $500 million.
“As the world’s second largest exporter of wheat and soybeans, these actions will help grow new markets for American-grown food, supporting jobs in rural communities across America,” the White House said in a statement.
U.S. agriculture exports totaled a record $177 billion in 2021.
In other news:
Indian wheat exports: India recently banned wheat exports, just days after saying it was targeting record shipments this year, as a scorching heatwave curtailed output and local prices hit an all-time high amid strong export demand, reported CNBC. The government said it would still allow exports for letters of credit that have already been issued and on the request from countries that are trying “to meet their food security needs.”
GMO wheat: Argentina recently received regulatory approval to export the world’s first genetically engineered wheat to Brazil, The Breakthrough Institute reported. Argentina approved the drought-resistant variety, named HB4, in October 2020 after seeing a yearslong decline in yields due in part to drought. HB4 was developed by incorporating sunflower genes to grow better with less water. It also takes up less acreage.
Bird flu: Highly pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in two-thirds of U.S. states, with the latest outbreaks reported in Washington and Oregon, the USDA reported. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention confirmed a human case of the disease, but said the public health risk remains low. The World Health Organization said the man had been culling a flock at a commercial poultry facility in Colorado.
Farmland: Foreign investment in U.S. farmland grew to 37.6 million acres by the end of 2020, representing a nearly 3% increase from 2019, the USDA reported. Cropland accounted for 29% of the holdings while pasture and other agricultural land accounted for 23%.
The USDA said foreign holdings have increased nearly 2.2 acres a year since 2015. The greatest investment is in Texas, amounting to 4.7 million acres.