READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, December 12th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Extends MFP, DMC Deadlines

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday extended sign-up deadlines for the Dairy Margin Coverage program to December 20. USDA officials cited the prolonged and extensive impacts of weather events this year for moving the deadline beyond its original date of Friday, December 13. USDA announced it is also continuing to accept applications for the Market Facilitation Program through December 20, 2019. Bill Northey, USDA undersecretary for farm production and conservation, says some farmers are still in the field, adding, “we hope this deadline extension will allow producers the opportunity to participate in these important programs.” The DMC program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost, the margin, falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. The Market Facilitation Program is part of a relief strategy to support farmers while the administration continues to work on trade agreements. Another round of payments could come next month.

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Senate Won’t Vote on USCMA Until After Christmas

U.S. farmers won’t see a North America trade deal under the Christmas tree this year, despite this week’s deal to move the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement forward. The House of Representatives, which must act first, plans to vote by the end of next week, sending the trade deal to the Senate. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Wednesday the Senate won’t be able to consider the agreement until after Christmas, pushing Senate action on USMCA into 2020. McConnell cited a full slate of issues to consider, including spending bills, judicial appointments and the pending impeachment trial. The January Senate calendar is blank, leaving room for a month of impeachment proceedings in the Senate. While Democrats were blamed for stalling the agreement, they’ve flipped the coin to blaming Senate Republicans for causing further delays. McConnell claims House Democrats waited too long before advancing the agreement to allow for the trade to become law this year. But, McConnell’s intentions could push a Senate vote to February.

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Real Meat Act Introduced in Senate

Lawmakers in the Senate Wednesday introduced the Real MEAT Act, a bill seeking to end deceptive labeling practices for alternative protein products. Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, introduced the bill Wednesday. Fischer says the bill would clarify the definition of beef for labeling purposes, eliminate consumer confusion resulting from misbranding, and ensure that the federal government can enforce the law. Fischer says, “Beef is derived from cattle—period.” She adds the legislations will stop so-called fake-meat companies from misleading consumers about “the nutritional merits and ingredient composition of their products.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applauded the introduction of the legislation. NCBA President Jennifer Houston says the bill will “allow cattle producers to compete on a level playing field.” NCBA found in a study that 55 percent of consumers did not understand that “plant-based beef” wasn’t beef at all, but instead an entirely vegan or vegetarian product. The Senate bill is a companion to similar legislation in the House.

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Farm Groups Partner to Help Farmers Manage Stress

Top farm organizations Wednesday announced a partnership to address high levels of stress affecting farmers and ranchers. Farm Credit, the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, announced the partnership that will provide training to individuals who interact with farmers and ranchers. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says the partnership will “help our members recognize the warning signs and empower them to get help for their friends.” In a national Morning Consult poll commissioned by AFBF in April 2019, a strong majority of farmers and farmworkers said financial issues, farm or business problems, and fear of losing the farm, impact the mental health of farmers and ranchers, and nearly half of rural adults said they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. Research also shows that while farmers experience higher levels of psychological distress and depression than the general population, they are less likely to seek help for mental health issues. 

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Johnson to Retire from Role as Farmers Union President

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson announced earlier this week he will retire from his role in Washington, D.C. next year. Johnson will not seek reelection during the 2020 NFU annual convention in March, when his current term will end. NFU will elect his successor during the meeting in Savannah, Georgia. Johnson told reporters that Rob Larew, NFU’s senior vice president of public policy, is currently the lone candidate for the role. Before leading the family farm organization, he served as North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner and as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Johnson, a third-generation family farmer from Turtle Lake, North Dakota, grew up in Farmers Union, participating in the organization’s youth programs and serving as a county president and chairman of the board of a local Farmers Union cooperative. He says, “it has been my greatest honor to serve this organization and the admirable farmers and ranchers who comprise its membership.

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American Royal Acquires Land for “Epicenter of Agriculture”

The American Royal Association is one step closer to its goal of being the “Epicenter of Agriculture.” The organization recently acquired 115 acres in Kansas City, Kansas, following a purchase of 47 acres earlier this year. The association recently submitted its preliminary development plan country officials, which was approved this month. The one million-plus square foot complex with an outdoor plaza and arena will allow for an expansion of programming to 365 days a year. The facility features more than 800,000 square feet of indoor event space, including barn and exposition areas, three performance arenas, a large educational area, and more than 50,000 square feet of exhibit space. The American Royal has been a nationally recognized brand for more than a century. Beginning in 1899 as the National Hereford Show, the American Royal has evolved into a comprehensive season of food and agriculture activity. A ceremonial groundbreaking is expected Spring 2020, with construction beginning Summer 2020. The core complex is to be complete by winter of 2021.

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.