READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 2nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Oil Industry Pushing Back against Biofuel Decision

A recent federal appeals court ruling last month tightened eligibility for ethanol blending waivers. As a result, the Trump administration is on track to stop approving so many waivers it had been handing out to oil refineries. It’s a major win for corn growers and biofuel producers. However, refiners and oil-state lawmakers are asking the president to step into the situation. Thirteen Republican senators sent the president a letter warning that the 10th Circuit Court decision if it’s applied nationally, would “jeopardize nearly all small refineries” and raise gasoline prices for U.S. drivers. They are asking Trump to file a petition for a rehearing and potentially seek a Supreme Court review of the decision. Politico says the White House has long been struggling to strike a balance between oil and agriculture in their standoff over the Renewable Fuels Standard. The January court decision made it more difficult for the president to find a compromise on an issue that has angered farmers more than any other administration policy, including the trade war. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the agency will be issuing guidance on the blending waivers within “days, not weeks.”

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Chicken Sandwiches Helping Get Through Poultry Glut in the U.S.

U.S. chicken companies are running production at a high rate right now, sparking a glut of product on the market and sending prices for products like breast meat to record lows. Yahoo Finance says despite that, the industry might see a bright 2020 ahead. That’s thanks in part to the chicken sandwich craze that seems to be sweeping America’s fast-food restaurants. Joe Sanderson Jr. is CEO of Sanderson Farms, Incorporated. He says the “sandwich wars” among fast-food chains could end up being an unofficial “bailout” that the oversupplied U.S. poultry industry needs. As an example, Popeyes quickly ran out of its new chicken sandwiches when they were first launched nationwide last August. Even though the overall poultry industry faces a glut, supplies of the smaller chickens, between four and five pounds, is running short. Poultry buyers are turning to processors like Sanderson Farms to take larger portions and cut them down to sandwich size. U.S. chicken farmers continue to produce more meat. Egg sets and chick placements are trending four percent higher than last year. The USDA the poultry industry set to produce a record 45.3 billion pounds of broiler meat this year.

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EU Continues to Say No to Ag in Trade Talks with the U.S.

A top European Union trade official says Europe seriously wants a trade agreement with the United States. However, EU political leaders still won’t negotiate on significant agricultural policies. Bernd (Burned) Lange is chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade. He was in Washington, D.C. last week to talk to lawmakers and Trump administration officials. Reporters continued to question him about the U.S. demands that the EU reduce its ag tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. farm commodities. “On agriculture, everyone knows that this is not possible,” Lange says. Lange was in the nation’s capital to try and kickstart the stalled trade talks. While visiting with staff in Senator Chuck Grassley’s office, the staff members told Lange that “agriculture should be in any deal.” Lange’s response was a simple one; “it’s not possible.” An Agri-Pulse report says that is the opposite of what EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan had said in a recent visit to the U.S. Hogan had told reporters that Europe was considering taking a more flexible approach on its refusal to include agriculture in trade talks with the U.S. The EU will soon be busy as formal trade talks with the United Kingdom are set to begin on today (Monday).

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Farm Bureau Takes Lead on Mental Health Campaign

Bayer and the American Farm Bureau announced that the “Farm State of Mind” campaign, initiated by Bayer, will be transferring over to the Farm Bureau. The campaign is designed to help take away some of the stigmas on the topic of mental health in rural communities, as well as provide relevant information to farm families on this important topic. Farm Bureau is planning to combine the Farm State of Mind assets with those of its ongoing Rural Resilience campaign, expanding the reach and effectiveness of its rural mental health initiatives. Lisa Safarian, President of Bayer Crop Science, says, “We quickly realized this issue is much bigger than any one single company and no group is better positioned than Farm Bureau to take the lead on this campaign to help realize its full potential.” Bayer says transitioning this program to an organization as trusted as Farm Bureau will greatly help to expand its reach and effectiveness among farmers. “As a third-generation farmer, I’m familiar with the stress of farm life,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, “and have heard a lot of heartbreaking stories as I travel around the country.” Complicating the issue is the fact that many farmers are reluctant to talk about the effect of stress or seek help in dealing with it. “We’re excited to be able to expand our impact by growing this campaign to connect even more farmers and ranchers with the resources they need,” Duvall adds.

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New Stewardship Network Celebrates Conservation in Agriculture

The National Corn Growers Association and the Environmental Defense Fund launched the Success in Stewardship Network at the Commodity Classic. The network will celebrate and accelerate the use of agricultural conservation practices on U.S. corn farms. The network will showcase success stories from the many farmers and state-level programs putting stewardship into practice to build an ever-growing network of corn farmers who are also conservation leaders. The NCGA and the EDG recognized the Minnesota Corn Innovation Grant Program, as well as the Illinois Corn Precision Conservation Management Program, for their farmer-supported efforts to deliver clean water, healthy soils, and farm profitability. Callie Eideberg, director of agricultural policy and special projects with EDF, says, “The Success in Stewardship Network will break down the notion that conservation is only for an elite group of farmers. Practices that protect the land and water and increase climate resilience are more prevalent than many people think.” Both organizations say the new network will bring farmers and agricultural organizations together to continue making conservation more commonplace.”

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USDA Offering New Hurricane Insurance Endorsement for Crop Year 2020

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency announced it will be offering a new crop insurance endorsement, called the Hurricane Insurance Protection – Wind Index, during 2020. The new endorsement covers a portion of the deductible of the underlying crop insurance policy when a county, or adjacent county, is within the area of sustained hurricane-force winds. The coverage provided by HIP-WI can be combined with the Supplemental Coverage Option and the Stacked Income Protection Plan when acreage is also insured by a companion policy. “Hurricane season will be upon us before we know it,” says RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “This new hurricane endorsement provides some added protection for producers along the Gulf and east coasts, as well as Hawaii. The past couple of hurricane seasons have taught us that more coverage is needed in these areas and that prompt payment for losses is important, not only for the impacted producers but also for these rural communities.” The new endorsement provides coverage for 70 different crops and is available in counties in the vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, as well as Hawaii. The deadline to purchase HIP-WI coverage for the 2020 crop year is April 30.

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.