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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 25th

Flood Damages Estimated at $3 Billion

Damages from flooding in the Midwest are now estimated to top $3 billion, with threats of more flooding on the horizon. President Donald Trump has approved federal disaster declarations for counties in Iowa and Nebraska. Iowa officials say agriculture losses are at least $214 million. The Missouri River flooding will continue as an above normal snowpack in the North begins to melt and move downstream. Forecasters warn the flooding could continue through May. Meanwhile, other states in the region have also experienced severe flooding, including Illinois, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin. With Congress back in session, the growing price tag could ramp up pressure on lawmakers to offer additional aid, according to Politico, as flood relief will be in the mix when the Senate takes up a House-passed $14.2 billion disaster aid package. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure this week.

Farm Futures Planting Survey Shows Less Corn Acres than USDA

Farmers indicate they may plant less corn than previously thought by the Department of Agriculture, according to the annual Farm Futures planting survey. The survey of 1,000 producers nationwide says that after planting more soybeans than corn in 2018 for the first time in 35 years, farmers want to return to more normal rotations this spring. However, with the impact of trade tariffs, weather and current conditions in the farm economy, many are looking for alternative crops. The survey reported corn acreage at 90.9 million, up 1.7 million from last year. The 1.9 percent increase was less than the 92 million in the USDA forecast over the winter. Farmers expect soybean plantings at 85.9 million, down 3.3 million, or 3.7 percent from last year. Still, soybean acres are reported higher than the 85 million USDA forecasted recently. The survey also found winter wheat plantings are expected at 31.3 million acres, which would drop all-wheat seedings to 45.9 million, down 2.4 million or 5.1 percent from 2018. That would be the lowest total since at least 1919.

Importers of Illegal Pork May Face Fine

The illegal pork discovered by border agents from China could lead to fines for the importer of the products. However, the exporter, being China, is not likely to be penalized, according to officials, who say “It’s very difficult to penalize an exporting country,” adding “You have to have a very large burden of proof to prove what they’re doing,” as reported by Reuters. The U.S. and other nations remain on high alert to illegal imports of pork from nations with African swine fever. Customs Border and Protection say the shipment recently found included pork, but not all items in the one-million-pound shipment were pork, as previously announced. The containers seized also had noodles and tea bags that were used to facilitate the unlawful import of pork products. Because China has wide-spread African swine fever, U.S. agriculture and border officials say the imported pork may contain the virus, which is a threat to the U.S. pork industry. However, the U.S. will not test the product to confirm that, as officials say all products found in violation of U.S. regulations are destroyed.

Coalition Urges Full Funding for Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network

A coalition of agriculture groups Monday urged Congress to fully fund efforts to improve mental health in rural America. The groups, including the National Farmers Union, asked Congress to fully fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network in fiscal year 2020. The program provides grants for extension services, state departments of agriculture, nonprofit organizations and other entities to provide stress assistance programs to farmers, farmworkers and others. The groups noted the current prolonged farm economy downturn is causing even greater stress for farmers and ranchers, as net farm income in 2018 was nearly 50 percent less than it was in 2013. Congress provided $2 million in the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill for a pilot of the program. A letter from the coalition sent to the Senate and House agriculture appropriations subcommittees urged lawmakers to fully fund the program at $10 million, calling the effort “critically important” to meeting the mental health needs of farmers.

American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Soda Taxes

Health organizations Monday called for additional taxes on added sugars, like those on sodas and other sugary drinks. In a joint policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association endorsed a suite of public health measures, including excise taxes, limits on marketing to children, and financial incentives for purchasing healthier beverages, all designed to reduce kids’ consumption of sugary drinks. The groups cited evidence of association between added sugars and increased risk of heart disease and other long-term health problems. The groups point out that the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and teens consume fewer than ten percent of calories from added sugars. But, data shows that children and teens now consume 17 percent of their calories from added sugars, nearly half of which comes from drinks alone. So, the groups say local, state and national policymakers should consider raising the price of sugary drinks, such as via an excise tax, along with an accompanying educational campaign, and say tax revenues should go in part toward reducing health and socioeconomic disparities.

AFBF Launches Women in Ag Survey

The American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Program has launched “Women in Ag,” an online survey that aims to gauge the goals, aspirations, achievements and needs of women in American agriculture in a variety of areas. All women who are farmers, ranchers, farm employees, employed in agricultural businesses, pursuing ag-related higher education or supportive of agriculture in other ways are invited to participate in the survey at Respondents must reside in the United States and Farm Bureau membership is not required to participate. The survey asks women in-depth questions about how they are connected to agriculture and what leadership skills they think are most important today, as well as the top business challenges they’re facing. Data collected from respondents will be used to gauge trends related to the achievements of women in agriculture, including leadership positions, business successes and election to public office. Results from the survey are slated for release in the fall and will add to findings gleaned from a similar survey conducted in 2014. Participants will be entered to receive one of five $100 gift cards after the survey closes on June 21. 

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.

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