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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 8th

Ag Economy Barometer Falls in April

The Ag Economy Barometer plummeted in April, declining to a reading of 115, an 18-point decline compared to March when the index stood at 133. The 18-point decline in the index was the fourth largest one-month fall in the barometer since data collection began in October 2015. Organizers say the barometer’s decline was driven by worsening perceptions of both current economic conditions and weaker expectations for the future. Producers surveyed were less inclined to think now is a good time to invest in buildings and equipment, and are less optimistic that the trade dispute with China will be resolved by July first than they were a month earlier. Over half, 56 percent, of farmers in the April survey reported they expect their farms’ financial performance to be about the same as last year. However, 27 percent of farmers said they expect this year’s financial performance to be worse than last year. Finally, producers appear to have a more negative perspective on the future direction of corn and soybean futures, helping to explain some of the decline in the barometer.

Trade War Getting Worse for Soy Growers

Tariff increases announced by the Trump administration on China are a “worst case” scenario for U.S. soybean growers, according to the American Soybean Association. The President’s Twitter announcement over the weekend was confirmed this week, as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says he would move forward with the planned tariff increase on Friday. The Trump administration will increase tariffs on some $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from ten percent to 25 percent. A delegation from China will be in the U.S. Thursday and Friday as both sides look to wrap up the negotiations while many say Trump is trying to pressure China into an agreement. ASA President Davie Stephens says farmers, however “need a positive resolution of this ongoing tariff dispute, not further escalation of tensions.” China previously retaliated following tariffs from the Trump administration, targeting U.S. agriculture. With depressed prices and unsold stocks forecast to double before the 2019 harvest begins in September, Stephens adds “we need the China market reopened to U.S. soybean exports within weeks, not months or longer.”

Two More Swine Fever Outbreaks Reported in South Africa

South Africa’s agriculture ministry this week confirmed two more outbreaks of African swine fever. In a news release, the South Africa Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says the two outbreaks follow an outbreak reported in April. Samples collected by agriculture officials confirmed the same virus is responsible for all three outbreaks, and all three occurred relatively close to each other in central South Africa. The affected areas have been placed under quarantine and disease control measures are underway in the region where the outbreaks were found. Officials there are urging farmers to ensure they are buying pigs from reputable sources, among taking other biosecurity measures. The spread of African swine fever prompted heightened biosecurity measures from North American countries, including the cancelation of June’s World Pork Expo. The event typically draws global participants to Des Moines, Iowa, from countries that currently have African swine fever outbreaks. Meanwhile, Tyson Foods executive Noel White told stakeholders during an earnings call this week that “the threat is real,” that African swine fever could enter the United States, further justifying strict U.S. measures to prevent the spread.

USDA Announces Dual Use Insurance Coverage for Grain/Graze

Updates to the Annual Forage insurance for the 2020 crop year include a dual use option. The Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency says the 2018 Farm Bill includes a dual use option in select counties of six Great Plains states. Producers who select this option can insure their small grains crop with both an Annual Forage Policy for grazing and a multi-peril Small Grains Policy for grain. Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre says the changes “allow crop insurance to provide coverage and recognize a practice that farmers and ranchers have used for years in certain parts of the country.” The Dual Use Option is ideal for producers who plant a small grain by October 15, 2019, to use as a grazing crop over the winter and to harvest for grain the next summer. The option is available in counties where the Risk Management Agency considers “grain/graze” a good farming practice in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Producers interested in Annual Forage should contact their local crop insurance agent or visit the RMA website for more information.

Industry Leadership Landscape Changes

The leadership landscape in agriculture is changing this spring, with several moves recently announced. Last week, American Angus Association CEO Allen Moczygemba (MITCH-ah-gim-BAH) resigned. The association named Chris Stallo as interim CEO. Moczygemba, who has held the CEO role since December 2015, has publicly not announced a new position. Also last week, Farm Foundation President Constance Cullman announced her departure planned for June. Cullman will join the American Feed Industry Association as President and CEO in July. Meanwhile, the U.S. Grains Council just announced Ryan LeGrande, the Council’s current director in Mexico, will be its next President and CEO. LeGrande will replace Tom Sleight in June. Sleight announced in February he would retire after serving 25 years at the Grains Council, including his time as CEO since 2012. Also last week, Dairy Management, Inc. announced former deputy agriculture secretary Krysta Harden will join the organization. Harden will serve as executive vice president of global environmental strategy.

Study: Consumers Prefer Pork Cooked to 145 Degrees

A recent study announced by the University of Illinois shows consumers prefer the new standard cooking temperature for pork. The Department of Agriculture in 2011 changed the recommendation for pork chops, and select other whole cuts of pork, internal temperature minimums from 160 degrees to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The University of Illinois research team had already demonstrated that trained taste-testers prefer pork chops cooked to 145 degrees, but the team wanted to try their luck with the average consumer this time. Like the trained taste-testers, average consumers were asked to rate juiciness, tenderness, flavor, and overall acceptability of pork cooked to 145, 160, and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers say the results were what they expected as consumers rated juiciness, tenderness, and flavor much higher in pork chops cooked to 145 degrees than the other temperatures. USDA cations, however, that ground pork and variety meats, including organs, should still be cooked to 160 degrees.

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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