READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, October 2nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farmer Pessimism Increasing over Current Conditions

A monthly measure of farmer sentiment shows producers are more pessimistic about current conditions. The monthly Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer slipped to 121, down three points from August. However, the Index of Current Conditions, a sub-index of the barometer, dropped 22 points to a reading of 100. The barometer is based on a mid-month survey of 400 agricultural producers across the United States. A reading of 100 is considered neutral, with anything below negative, and anything above, positive. Despite the weak near-term outlook provided by farmers, they expressed some optimism about the future. The Index of Future Expectations rose six points compared to August. In the September survey, only one in five producers said they expect profitability to decline over the next year, compared to 41 percent back in May. Organizers say this could be a signal that farmers expect better times in 2020 compared to 2019, possibly because they are looking forward to a return to more normal growing conditions and crop production.

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McConnell, Others, Optimistic on USMCA

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes lawmakers can reach a resolution on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement soon. Speaking to CNBC this week, McConnell says “USMCA is something we can agree on,” referring to the Democrat-led House of Representatives and Republican-led Senate. President Donald Trump announced the three nations reached an agreement one year ago this week. Concerns regarding the impeachment effort in the House are building as some fear the effort may derail USMCA. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the USMCA working group will continue efforts to reach an agreement with the White House. However, labor and environment provisions remain as sticking points in the talks. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told dairy farmers Tuesday at World Dairy Expo he is optimistic a vote in the House will happen soon. Perdue says every provision in the agreement is an improvement, compared with the North American Free Trade Agreement, for U.S. agriculture. Mexico has already ratified the agreement and Canada is expected to do so following its federal elections later this month.

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Agriculture Urges USDA to Quickly Establish FMD Vaccine Bank

Agriculture groups are urging the Department of Agriculture to move quickly to establish a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank. The National Pork Producers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, National Corn Growers Association and Iowa State University, made the joint call during a Tuesday press event. Recognizing the steps USDA has taken to establish the bank, the groups called for “expedient use of mandatory funding included in the 2018 farm bill to purchase the volume of vaccines required to effectively contain and eradicate an FMD outbreak.” The groups say USDA currently does not have access to enough vaccines to avoid “devastating economic consequences,” should an outbreak occur. FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep. Iowa State University research predicts an outbreak would result in $128 billion in losses for the beef and pork sectors, $44 billion and $25 billion, respectively, to corn and soybean farmers, and job losses of more than 1.5 million across U.S. agriculture over ten years.

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Farm Bureau, Hemp Council, Seek Approvals for Hemp Protection Products

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Industrial Hemp Council are seeking crop protection tools for hemp. The two groups have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to consider ten crop protection product applications approved for use on hemp. The groups made the request in rulemaking comments submitted to the agency. For hemp to reach its full potential, the groups say, “it is essential the EPA take a leadership role in the consistent review of applications for use on hemp, to facilitate a consistent and equal playing field across state jurisdictions.” Interest in hemp production is growing since authorized by the 2018 farm bill. However, farmers lack access to approved crop protection products. EPA requested comments regarding adding hemp to the labels of products registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The groups also asked EPA to approve the products and additional applications to expand the range of approved products and provide their members with legal options for pest control beginning in 2020. 

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Organic Commodity Sales Double over Five Year Period

Although the total value of U.S. agricultural sales remained relatively flat between 2012 and 2017, U.S. organic sales more than doubled to $7.3 billion. The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reports growth in the U.S. organic sector has accelerated since the early 2010s as retailers, food manufacturers, and livestock producers have increased demand for organic food and inputs. Agricultural sales averaged $400,600 for organic operations in 2017, more than double the average agricultural sales for all farms of $190,200. The organic share of U.S. agricultural sales doubled to two percent between 2012 and 2017, and was over six percent in some states. California was the top State in both organic and overall agricultural sales. Most other top organic states were in the Pacific Northwest, Upper Midwest and Northeast. Pennsylvania and North Carolina were among the states with the fastest growth, with organic sales up ten- and eight-fold, respectively. In contrast, Iowa ranked second in overall agricultural sales and twelfth in organic sales, reflecting the low adoption of organic systems for U.S. grain production.

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Pennsylvania Farmer Named America’s Pig Farmer of the Year

The National Pork Board Tuesday announced Chris Hoffman as the 2019-2020 Pig Farmer of the Year. Hoffman, a first-generation hog farmer from McAlisterville, Pennsylvania, received the highest combined score in third-party judging and online voting in the contest. The award recognizes pig farmers in the U.S. that exemplify industry leadership, a demonstrated focus in raising pigs following the We Care ethical principles and a commitment to connecting consumers with the farmers who raise the pork they consume. National Pork Board President David Newman calls Hoffman a “strong advocate” for the pork industry. Hoffman was named America’s Pig Farmer of the Year after an on-farm audit of animal health, safety and management practices, a series of personal interviews and an online vote. Hoffman says of the achievement, “I want to meet with our nation’s leaders, including the president, and show them that we are an integral part of our food supply and the nation’s workforce.” Learn more about Hoffman and the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year Award at americaspigfarmer.com.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian 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.