READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 29th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Canada’s Freeland Urges Quick USMCA Approval

The U.S. signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement Wednesday clears another hurdle towards implementation of the agreement. Following the signing ceremony, the U.S. and Mexico await approval by Canada, whose government is beginning the process this week. Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced a motion in the nation’s House of Commons to consider the agreement. USMCA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement. Freeland and Canada call the trade pact either the CUSMA, putting Canada first, or “the new NAFTA.” Freeland asked Canadian lawmakers to “work together to put Canada and Canadians first, and get this important work done without undue delay.” Freeland noted during a press conference the trade agreement received bipartisan support in the U.S. in a “highly polarized” political climate. USMCA, welcomed by U.S. agriculture, protects critical markets for U.S. farmers, and provides an additional $2 billion in agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico, the top trading partners of the United States.

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House Dems Support Lawsuit Against SNAP Cuts

House Democrats are seeking to block the Trump administration’s cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Changes to the SNAP Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents are set to take effect in April. The Department of Agriculture says the rule revises the conditions under which USDA would waive, when requested by states, the able-bodied adult without dependents time limit in areas that have an unemployment rate of over ten percent or a lack of sufficient jobs. Representative Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat and chair of the House Ag Subcommittee on Nutrition, announced House support of the lawsuit, filed by 15 states, including the District of Columbia. The lawsuit says the rule strips SNAP benefits from 700,000 recipients in a move rejected by the 2018 farm bill. Representative Fudge says the rule “does real harm to SNAP’s ability to accomplish its mission,” adding the House will “fight this hypocritical and political cruelty.”

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Justice Department Investigating Possible Dean Foods Deal

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating a potential deal for Dairy Farmers of America to acquire the bankrupted Dean Foods. A Justice Department representative confirmed to the Wall Street Journal this week the investigation is probing the potential loss of competition in U.S. milk sales, as Dean Foods and DFA are among the largest milk processors in the country. Dairy Farmers of America represents roughly 22 percent of all U.S. milk processing, while Dean Foods is self-described as “the largest processor and direct-to-store distributor of fresh fluid milk and other dairy and dairy case products in the United States.” Dean Foods announced its bankruptcy in November of last year, while pledging to use the process to “protect and support its ongoing business operations.” Dean Foods also announced at the time that it was engaged in advanced discussions with Dairy Farmers of America regarding a potential sale of all assets of the company.

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USDA: One Month Left for CRP General Signup

The Department of Agriculture reminds farmers interested in the Conservation Reserve Program 2020 general signup to enroll by February 28, 2020. The signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another ten to 15-year term. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce notes, “This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want producers and private landowners to know that we have just one month remaining.” CRP has 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 farm bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres. Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat.

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Chesapeake Bay Foundation Preparing to Sue EPA

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is preparing to file a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. The planned lawsuit alleges the EPA is failing to enforce the Clean Water Act. Following a 2009 lawsuit, a plan was implemented to establish a watershed-wide Total Maximum Daily Load, a limit on the pollution the Bay can withstand and remain healthy. CBF has been concerned about the lack of progress in reducing nitrogen pollution in Pennsylvania. That concern was heightened when Pennsylvania released its plan for reducing pollution between now and the 2025 deadline. The plan has a funding shortfall of more than $300 million annually, and falls 25 percent short of the nitrogen goal. CBF President William C. Baker claims, “agriculture is the largest source of pollution from Pennsylvania,” adding that while stakeholders have pledged to comply, the lawmakers have failed by not fulling funding the efforts. Without EPA holding Pennsylvania accountable, Baker says the state’s local waters and the Bay downstream “will never be saved.”

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Michelob Launches Campaign to Convert Farmland to Organic

An initiative by Anheuser-Busch InBev seeks to help farmers convert farmland to organic production. Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold, and AB InBev product, is launching their 60 second Super Bowl commercial featuring 6 For 6-Pack, a new program that allows consumers to join the brand in helping farmers transition six square feet of farmland into organic production. Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold is the first national beer brand to be USDA-certified organic. A portion of sales from each Pure Gold 6-pack will go directly to farmers looking to transition to organic, “allowing consumers to help drive change.”  The commercial advertises that consumers can help farmers by “simply having a beer.” By the math, for every acre assisted in the program, consumers will need to drink 43,560 beers. Last year, AB InBev caught opposition from the corn industry, and sparked an advertising war with MillerCoors, by depicting corn syrup negatively, sparking lawsuits. The 2020 Michelob commercial is now available on YouTube.

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.