READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 17th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Economy Outlook Depends on Trade, Evolution of Disease Outbreaks

The outlook for the United States farm economy depends on the implementation of new trade agreements and the evolution of animal and human disease outbreaks. The University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute reports that while net farm income increases in 2020, under a baseline assumption of continued trade friction with China, other indicators of the health of the farm economy are not as positive. Projections show that with an assumed return to normal planting and growing weather in 2020, there will be an increase in projected area, yields and supplies and lower prices for corn and soybeans in the 2020/21 marketing year. With trend yields, 2020 corn production increases to 15 billion bushels, putting downward pressure on prices, which are projected to average $3.57 per bushel. With soybeans, an increase in production drops prices to $8.48 per bushel, before considering the possible impacts of the “Phase 1” trade agreement. Additionally, potential African swine fever impacts, along with the impact of COVID-19, could change the farm economy in 2020, as well.

COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes Additional Food Aid

The House-passed bill to ease economic burdens caused by COVID-19 includes additional food benefits. The Senate will consider the bill early this week. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill “crucial legislation for the American people.” McConnell says, “It is clear that confronting this virus will take boldness, bipartisanship, and a comprehensive approach.” Politico reports the legislation includes an additional $1 billion in food benefits for students and workers. The Department of Agriculture has already granted more than 25 waivers to states to serve meals to low-income students during school closures. Further, the legislation includes $500 million for pregnant women and mothers under the WIC program, as well as $400 million in emergency aid for the Agriculture Department to purchase and distribute items to food banks. The bill also would suspend SNAP work requirements during the crisis. The legislation includes other economic measures, as well, intended to help America deal with the financial burden of the crisis.

Food Industry Stands with Trump to Keep Grocery Stores Open and Stocked

Food industry representatives spoke with the President over the weekend, as the U.S. grocery supply chain seeks to keep up with crisis demands. President Donald Trump urged consumers to “chill,” saying, “You don’t have to buy so much. Take it easy. Just relax,” referring to panic purchases of food items across the nation. Trump added food retailers are “committed to remaining open.”  The Food Industry Association says the organization and its members offered to “stand ready with the President” to ensure “the viability of the supply chain and the availability of safe, affordable food and consumer products.” FMI says the grocery industry is working 24-hours-a-day to replenish and restock while ensuring the cleanliness of stores and facilities. FMI CEO Leslie Sarasin adds, “We want to ensure that all Americans know the government is working closely with all stakeholders across the and consumer products supply chain to ensure that stores can stay open and stocked with the products consumers need through this emergency.

Cattle Groups Respond to COVID-19 Market Disruption

The United States Cattlemen’s Association Monday called on the Department of Agriculture to take immediate steps to address the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. cattle market. In a letter to USDA officials, the organization says producers’ bottom lines are suffering because of the outbreak’s impact on the cattle and beef industries. The Association says, “We must act expeditiously to return normalcy to the cattle marketplace.” USCA has created a special task force to address the market fallout as a result of the coronavirus. The announcement follows a statement from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association last week. NCBA CEO Collin Woodall says NCBA, “has been in daily communication with participants from every sector of the beef supply chain,” as the industry finds ways to “remove possible barriers to beef production.” Woodall says, “Although the full beef supply chain is being challenged by the outbreak, all segments of the industry are working closely together and must continue to do so.”

Lawmakers Introduce SALE Act

A bipartisan bill introduced Monday would address livestock industry issues relating to dealer payment default. Republicans, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Monday, introduced the Securing All Livestock Equitably, or SALE Act. The lawmakers say the Act will make sure both livestock dealers and farmers are protected moving forward without negatively impacting their bottom line. Quick turnaround between the purchase and resale of cattle by a dealer often leaves the rancher who originally owned the cattle with little recourse if a dealer defaults on a purchase because the livestock has often already been resold. The legislation would establish dealer statutory trusts, mimicking existing packer statutory trusts, to ensure cattle sellers receive payment should a livestock dealer become insolvent. The 2018 Farm Bill contained a provision directing the Department of Agriculture to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a livestock dealer statutory trust. The results helped inform the senators’ ongoing effort to establish the creation of a Livestock Dealer Statutory Trust.  

USDA Announces New Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Team

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced a new team of USDA staff that will lead a department-wide effort focused on serving beginning farmers and ranchers. USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky says the move will help “support the next generation of agricultural producers who we will soon rely upon to grow our nation’s food and fiber.” Sarah Campbell was selected as the national coordinator to lead USDA’s efforts. A beginning farmer herself, Campbell held previous positions with USDA and has a wealth of experience working on issues impacting beginning farmers and ranchers. She recently served as acting director of customer experience for the Farm Production and Conservation Business Center, where she led the piloting of innovative, customer-centric initiatives. In her new role, she will work closely with the state coordinators to develop goals and create plans to increase beginning farmer participation and access to programs while coordinating nationwide efforts on beginning farmers and ranchers.

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.