READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 10th

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USDA Approves School Meals in Washington, California, During Coronavirus Closures

The Department of Agriculture over the weekend approved requests from California and Washington to allow meal service during school closures to minimize potential exposure to the new coronavirus. The meals are available at no cost to low-income children, and are not required to be served in a group setting, to ensure kids receive nutritious meals while schools are temporarily closed. The waivers are effective immediately and will continue through June 30, 2020. Brandon Lipps, Deputy Undersecretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, says the agency “stands ready” to provide additional assistance to California and Washington, along with any other areas impacted by COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Confirmed cases of the virus are expected to increase in the United States as the availability of test kits increases. USDA says all Food and Nutrition Service programs have flexibilities and contingencies built-in to allow them to respond to on-the-ground realities in the event of a disaster or emergency. For more information about the coronavirus response across USDA, visit

Global Denatured Ethanol Demand Up

European demand for denatured ethanol recently doubled. Cargill told Reuters the spike comes as denatured ethanol is an ingredient in hand sanitizers, and demand for hand sanitizers has surged in recent weeks amid the global outbreak of the new coronavirus. The virus has spread to more than 105 countries across the globe, with more than 100,000 cases reported and 3,800 deaths, globally. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends people use hand sanitizers with a minimum of 60 percent alcohol to combat the virus. However, the best precaution, according to medical experts, is regular and thorough handwashing. A study released in September of last year reported the denatured ethanol market was projected to grow 6.8 percent in revenue by 2024, reported before the outbreak. At the time, MarketWatch said demand was low with excess supply. Since the outbreak, hand sanitizers have been quickly selling out on store shelves and online, as the global population seeks to protect itself from the virus.

Ag Events Postponed, Changed, Because of Coronavirus

Agriculture events planned for this spring are being impacted by the coronavirus spread in the United States. Alltech will transition ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference to a virtual setting because of the outbreak. In a Monday press release, Alltech noted the company will present ONE session topics online, instead of a live event in 2020. The event, planned for May 17-19 in Lexington, Kentucky, annually hosts more than 3,500 attendees from 70 countries. Also, a Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services Department meeting on Dietary Guidelines scheduled this Thursday and Friday will be held online. Meanwhile, Dairy Farmers of America last week announced the postponements of its annual meeting this month. On the DFA annual meeting website,, the organization states, “out of an abundance of caution, DFA’s Annual Meeting, currently scheduled for March 16-18, is being postponed.” DFA cites coronavirus concerns as the number of cases continues to increase in the United States. DFA had planned the event in Kansas City, Missouri, for roughly 1,500 attendees.

EPA Taking More Time to Respond to SRE Ruling

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking more time to reply to a federal court ruling against Small Refinery Exemptions. The EPA Friday filed an extension to the Justice Department to grant the agency an additional 15 days to respond to the ruling. The request pushes the deadline to March 24, according to Politico. The Trump administration now plans to appeal the ruling that struck down three waivers granted back in January. The ruling could significantly narrow the scope of allowed waivers. An appeal would be upsetting to ethanol and corn groups. An effort to sway the White House to appeal the rule, led by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, is seen as a “misinformation campaign,” according to Growth Energy. In a joint statement by farm groups, including Growth Energy, they state, “The president needs to understand that Ted Cruz doesn’t care about this administration or families across the heartland who are counting on the White House to keep its promises.”

NMPF: Lactose-Free Milk is Growing Faster Than Plant-Based

In 2019, lactose-free milk sales grew twice as fast as plant-based beverages, with lactose-free poised to surpass almond-beverage sales this year. The National Milk Producers Federation says lactose-free milk is a prime example of how dairy is addressing per-capita drops in fluid-milk consumption. Dairy categories increasing their sales, including whole milk, lactose-free milk and flavored varieties, are giving plenty of reason for optimism about the future of milk. The organization does note plant-based beverage growth, but “from a tiny base.” Almonds, with about three-quarters of sales, drive the plant-based beverage category. And almond-beverage sales are growing, although not as fast as lactose-free milk. Among plant-based beverages that aren’t almonds, soy is number two. But soy is declining, in 2018, by more than 13 percent from $248 million to $215 million, a percentage drop much greater than any sales decline in dairy. Meanwhile, Americans bought $13.88 billion of milk in 2019, down from $13.93 billion.

U.S. Plant Based Food Retail Market Worth $5 Billion

The Plant Based Foods Association says retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11.4 percent in the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to $5 billion. The total U.S. retail food market has grown just 2.2 percent in dollar sales during this same period. The association, along with the Good Food Institute, says the leading drivers of plant-based sales continue to be plant-based milks, meat, dairy alternatives in general, and plant-based meals. The total plant-based meat category alone is worth more than $939 million, with sales up 18 percent in the past year. Refrigerated plant-based meat is driving growth, up 63 percent. Emerging plant-based dairy categories are growing even faster as more households are introduced to new plant-based dairy items. In the past year, plant-based yogurt has grown 31 percent, while plant-based cheese has grown 18 percent. Plant-based creamers alone account for almost $300 million, growing 34 percent with its share of total creamers growing from four percent a year ago to five percent in 2019.

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.