13 Stories

Historic Calif. Drought Wreaked Irreversible, Bizarre Damage

Central Valley sank 3 feet—and won't be rebounding

(Newser) - Snowmelt and rain are in abundance for the first time in years in Central Valley, Calif., which boasts so much farmland it helps feed much of the world. But the state's five-year drought was so bad that all those farms sucked up enough groundwater to sink a solid three... More »

China Buys 7.4M Acres of Ukraine

Will farm an area roughly the size of Massachusetts

(Newser) - As demand for food grows in China— and farmland shrinks —the country has signed a deal with Ukraine that will eventually see it plowing into 3 million hectares (that's about 7.4 million acres) of the Ukrainian farmland. China will initially receive 100,000 hectares—an area about... More »

Drought-Ravaged Farmland Selling for More Than in 2011

Prices keep rising, thanks to federal subsidies, insurance payments

(Newser) - With a historically awful drought laying waste to fields across the country, you might think farmland prices would be down—but you'd be wrong. The average price of farmland in Iowa jumped 24% in the second quarter compared to last year, while in Illinois it rose 15%, according to... More »

Farmland: The Next Bubble?

Robert Shiller shares a hunch

(Newser) - If you’re trying to spot the next big bubble that will roil markets, economist Robert Shiller has a dark horse candidate: Farmland. Sure, farm bubbles are pretty rare—there was only one in the 20th century—but prices for farmland have been booming in the US and UK, Shiller... More »

For Sale: Field of Dreams

$5.4M pricetag for Iowa landmark includes place in film history

(Newser) - For sale: 193 acres of Iowa farmland, worth about $1 million but priced at $5.4 million. For the extra money, you get a world-famous baseball diamond that attracts some 65,000 annual visitors, and maybe a bunch of ghosts. That's right—it's the property from Field of Dreams. "... More »

Saltwater Crops Could Ease Land Demand

Hardy, saltwater-loving plants could produce biofuels from otherwise unusable land

(Newser) - A worldwide shortage of prime farmland has scientists taking a closer look at plants that thrive on briny water, Wired reports. Plants that can grow in earth too salty for other crops have huge potential for use as biofuel as well as food: One variety produces 1.7 times more... More »

Rich Nations Snap Up Third World Farmland

(Newser) - Rich nations are buying up farmland in developing countries and drawing the ire of some critics, the Guardian reports. One UN official said the purchases, designed as a hedge against food shortages, could put poor nations at risk of starving to feed the wealthy. In "this scramble for soil... More »

US Farmers See Leaner Times in Stormy Market

Many predict downturn for agriculture after years of record profits

(Newser) - Plunging crop prices and soaring costs are hitting US farmers with a one-two punch that’s knocked the fight out of what had been one of the stronger segments of the nation’s economy, reports the Wall Street Journal. Corn prices have dropped some 50% since July, and prices for... More »

Amish Population Booming

Reclusive sect expanding into 28 states

(Newser) - The booming Amish population has expanded far beyond its Pennsylvania Dutch country roots, drawn to new communities in a quest for cheap farmland, reports the AP. With more than 80% of its youth deciding to remain in the church, its numbers have soared from 123,000 in 1992 to 227,... More »

Plains States See Boom, But Await Bust

Strong farming economy highlights nationwide differences

(Newser) - Driven by rising food prices and farmers’ access to loans, the Plains states are a bright economic spot amid the nationwide slump, the Washington Post reports. Farm country was able to avoid the housing bust because it also avoided the boom. And retail space is filling up as consumer spending... More »

Bush to Visit Flood-Battered Midwest

Political pressure mounts for major flood relief

(Newser) - President Bush will visit flood-hit Iowa today to inspect the damage and consult with officials, Reuters reports. The state, along with much of the Midwest, has suffered the worst flooding in at least 15 years. Millions of acres of farmland have been flooded. Pressure on politicians to provide relief is... More »

Grain Prices Surge With Midwest Floods

Water inundating heartland expected to drive food, oil prices still higher

(Newser) - The floods inundating the Midwest are pushing grain prices to new highs, the Wall Street Journal reports. Corn prices jumped 10% to a record high last week as farmland flooded. The domino effects will hit the ethanol industry, hog farmers, and even owners of catfish ponds who rely on corn... More »

Black News for Not-So-Green Biofuels

Producing crops for fuel releases more greenhouse gas than it saves: studies

(Newser) - Producing crops for biofuel releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than is saved by using the alternative energy, according to the findings of two surprising new studies. Converting US farmland from producing food to ethanol necessitates food production elsewhere, vastly increasing greenhouse gas emissions as forests and grasslands are... More »

13 Stories