READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 3rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Coalition Seeks Ag Labor Wage Reforms

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition Thursday urged the U.S. Senate to take up legislation to solve the agricultural labor crisis. A letter penned by the coalition to the Senate urges lawmakers to address the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, which increased nationally by six percent for 2020. The rate is the required wage for farmers who use the H-2A program. In its letter, the coalition asks the Senate to consider the impacts of the rate on U.S. farmers. The group seeks an alternative that will ensure a level playing field for farmers and ranchers making them more competitive with foreign producers. Additionally, the coalition says farmers who use the H-2A program to procure legal workers from other countries must comply with “a complicated and expensive application” process. Over the last five years, the Adverse Effect Wage Rate has increased nationwide by 17 percent on average while revenues for fruits and nuts have increased only three percent and vegetables and melons have seen no revenue increases.

USMCA Senate Markup Scheduled for Tuesday

The U.S. Senate will take its first look at the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement Tuesday if the House sends the implementing legislation to the Senate. Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley announced the hearing after the House passed the agreement, along with articles of impeachment, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose to hold the articles of impeachment, rather than sending them on to the Senate. However, the hearing is still not on the official calendar for the committee. The hearing, if held, would be the first step in getting the trade deal passed by the Senate. Progress will depend on the impeachment hearings. Previously, Senate leadership expected the impeachment hearings to take up to a month, leaving little room at the end of January or early February for USMCA passage. If the impeachment hearings are delayed by a few weeks, the Senate could consider and pass the USMCA implementing legislation before the hearings. The House approved the agreement by a 385-41 vote on December 19.

Grains Council Announces Annual Corn Harvest Quality Report

After one of the United States’ most challenging growing seasons in history, The U.S. Grains Council annual Corn Harvest Quality Report shows resiliency in agriculture. The report is based on 623 samples collected from inbound farm-originating trucks at harvest. Kurt Shultz, USGC senior director of global strategies, says the report provides “transparency about crop conditions and consistently reinforce that the United States is the world’s most reliable supplier of good quality corn.” The Grains Council’s global staff and grower-leaders will share the results of the first report in a series of crop quality seminars around the world, beginning in Taiwan this month. A forthcoming companion report – the 2019/2020 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report – will focus on export cargo samples collected from corn shipments undergoing federal inspection and grading processes at export terminals. The reports offer reliable information on U.S. corn quality from the farm to the customer based on transparent and consistent methodology.

USDA Accepting Applications for North Africa Trade Mission

The Department of Agriculture is recruiting interested U.S. exporters for its first 2020 trade mission, which will take place in Casablanca, Morocco, March 16-19. The mission will focus on boosting U.S. agricultural exports to North Africa and will include interested buyers from several countries in the region. This will be the second USDA trade mission to Africa within six months, supporting the Donald Trump administration’s Prosper Africa initiative to foster two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa. With North Africa’s growing demand for food and feed products, the region is fertile ground for U.S. agricultural export sales, according to USDA. Officials say Morocco is a promising market thanks to the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement and the country’s high-quality infrastructure and stable economy. In 2018, the country imported $595 million of U.S. agricultural and related products. The deadline to apply for the North Africa trade mission is January 16, 2020. Learn more at

First 2020 Drought Monitor Released

The first weekly Drought Monitor of 2020 shows dry conditions in Texas, the Four Corners states, and the Pacific Northwest. Released Thursday, the report shows moderate to severe drought continues across southwest Oklahoma and areas of the Texas Panhandle and northwest Texas, which received lighter rainfall amounts. Changes to the drought picture across the remainder of Texas included a slight drought reduction in central and southwest parts of the state, based on recent rainfall and lack of short-term dryness. Meanwhile, drier weather returned to the Pacific Northwest during the final week of December. Following the period of heavy precipitation during mid to late December, no changes were made to the ongoing abnormal dryness and short-term moderate drought areas. Water year to date, since October 1, shows precipitation deficits of more than 12 inches. And, pockets of moderate to severe drought cover parts of the Four Corners states, with the majority of Utah experiencing drought conditions.

2020  Offers Fewer Tax Burdens for Farmers, Ranchers

The new year brings less of a tax burden for farmers and ranchers when it comes to health insurance, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. In spending bills passed by Congress before the holiday break, lawmakers included a permanent repeal of the Health Insurance Tax, which was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act. AFBF says the tax has increased health insurance costs for farmers, ranchers and other small businesses by imposing a levy on the net premiums of health insurance companies, which is then passed on to consumers. The spending bill also retroactively reinstates and extends tax incentives for biodiesel and renewable biodiesel through December 31, 2022, and tax credits for second-generation biofuels through 2020. In addition, the measure retroactively restores and extends through December 31, 2022, the 50 percent tax credit for short line railroad maintenance. Short line railroads are first- and last-mile carriers that connect small towns, farms and factories to the national rail network, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in thousands of local communities.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


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.