As another year enters the history books, Penton Farm Progress is taking a second look at the issues that dominated agriculture news in 2014. Click the links below to read the most popular stories for each issue.
2014 Farm Bill
Just think – this time last year, agriculture was wondering what would become of the 2012, no wait, 2013 Farm Bill. Turns out, it eventually became the 2014 Farm Bill with the President's signature in February.
As unmanned aerial vehicles become more affordable, several industries, including agriculture, are embracing the UAV's many uses. According to some, complete regulations on UAV use are a little murky, though the FAA says it has provided clear dos and don'ts for UAV operation.
GMO seed traits and trade
The now China-approved corn trait MIR 162 continued to cause a stir this year as some farm groups and later farmers suggested premature release of the GMO corn trait created downward pressure on corn markets and resulted in extra costs to exporters.
Waters of the United States
Farm groups weren't short on opinions regarding the U.S. EPA's Waters of the U.S. proposal, released early this spring. After several rounds of hearings, question-and-answer sheets, information releases and WOTUS comment periods, the proposal is still out for official review.
Renewable fuel standard
Farmers and industry still await the final 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes as the year winds down, but they won't be coming until 2015, EPA announced in November. It's a familiar pattern that EPA says will end – at some point.
Beef checkoff battle
To round out the year, USDA abandoned plans to create a second beef checkoff in December amid industry disagreement on the issue. On one side is the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which advocates for a single, existing checkoff. The National Farmers Union, however, supports a single, "modernized" checkoff that focuses on "clear separation of the policy organization from the non-political, promotional checkoff entity."
It was down to the wire on tax extenders this year as Congress approved a one-year extension of higher expensing levels under the popular IRS Section 179 provision in final hours of the lame-duck session. It was signed by the President on Dec. 19, but the debate is likely to fire up again in 2015.
Increased demand for rail service out of northern U.S. oil fields and poor weather at the start of the year stifled imports of fertilizer and other inputs, as well as the speed of grain exports to end the harvest season. Attempting to alleviate some rail issues, the Surface Transportation Board got involved by amending rail reporting requirements and providing greater oversight.
Though porcine epidemic diarrhea virus was first reported in the U.S. hog herd in 2013, it wasn't until 2014 that news of federal PEDV reporting, vaccines and funding to fight the deadly hog disease surfaced.
GMO food labeling
This year marked a milestone for GMO food labeling supporters as Vermont became the first state to require labeling without trigger clauses that serve as barrier of sorts to implementation. Meanwhile, Congress continues to wrestle with the idea of a national labeling law.