READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 2nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

House Ag Launches COVID-19 Resources Webpage

The House Agriculture Committee this week launched a COVID-19 resource webpage to provide information to the agriculture industry. The webpage includes resources and information for agriculture and nutrition, and will be updated as more information becomes available. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota says the page is a collection of updates, announcements and online resources detailing programs available to those affected by the pandemic, as well as adjustments made by USDA and other Federal agencies serving the food, agriculture and rural economic supply chain. Peterson also spoke with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week, about volatility in the commodity markets, particularly for livestock and poultry industries, the bleak conditions for dairy farmers, and the status of the food supply chain. Peterson thanked Perdue and the Department of Agriculture “for their efforts to continue to monitor America’s food supply and provide needed assistance and flexibility in this emergency.” The page is available at agriculture.house.gov/covid19.

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Lawmakers Ask Health Department to Send Aid to Rural Hospitals

A coalition of lawmakers is asking the Health and Human Services Department to provide immediate assistance to rural hospitals and clinics. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, 122 lawmakers asked the Trump administration to provide financial aid included in the CARES Act to help rural hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak. The legislation includes new funding to provide financial relief for hospitals. The lawmakers point out that many rural hospitals have ceased performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients. Lawmakers say the rural hospitals know the COVID-19 emergency confronting the U.S. must take precedence. However, these actions threaten rural hospitals’ financial viability. The letter states, “We are hearing from rural hospitals from across the country that have only days left of cash-on-hand – money needed for payroll and supplies.” The lawmakers say, “now it is up to the administration to respond with rapid action to sustain rural providers,” adding “any unnecessary delay will only worsen this situation.”

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Grocery Industry Adapting to Temporary Norms

Grocery stores and the food chain across the nation are adapting to the new normal, with shelter in place and work from home orders across the county. Doug Baker, industry relations vice president at The Food Industry Association, says in a blog post, “the industry is rewriting the playbook on crisis response in real-time.” To heighten personal safety and engender a deeper comfort level among associates and shoppers, retailers are using various tactics in their stores to implement the protocol of maintaining safe social distance. Every store looks different, so the measures retailers are taking vary depending on the unique needs of their setting. For example, some retailers are putting up stanchions and floor decals to indicate where shoppers should stand to help them measure the appropriate amount of space in queues and depending on the store. Additionally, stores are piloting “pick-up only” at some facilities. Baker adds, “Our industry is at its best when the public needs us the most.”

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National Sorghum Producers Predicts More Acres than USDA Estimate

The Prospective Planting report released this week by the Department of Agriculture indicates an 11 percent increase in sorghum acres for 2020. However, National Sorghum Producers says there is greater opportunity for increased sorghum acres in the United States for the 2020-2021 marketing year. When the analysis was conducted in February, sorghum prices did not reflect basis appreciation from export sales that occurred since that time. Significant purchase activity by China, approaching one million metric tons over the last seven weeks, has driven basis improvements, and these purchases account for roughly ten percent of the sorghum produced last year. Today, sorghum for export commands a 13 percent premium. These gains have been seen at interior country elevators, as well, with new crop basis gains of $0.20-$0.40 in the past two weeks.  With these factors in mind, NSP says both domestic and international demand will continue to drive sorghum acres this spring.

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Crop Year Rice Imports Projected at Record High

Although rice is not considered a staple food in the United States, Americans are turning to the global rice market more than ever. The Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service says U.S. imports of rice now account for about one percent of the value of all U.S. agricultural imports. In 2019/20, U.S. rice imports are projected at 32.5 million hundredweight, up nine percent from a year earlier and the third consecutive record. Imports now account for more than 20 percent of the total domestic rice market, with two factors driving the recent records. First is a large increase in demand for Asian aromatic varieties, primarily jasmine rice from Thailand and basmati rice from India and Pakistan. These specific varieties are not grown in the United States and account for around 70 percent of U.S. rice imports. Second, Puerto Rico is importing cheaper rice from China, about eight percent of total U.S. rice imports, and largely replacing U.S. suppliers. Nearly all of China’s rice exports to Puerto Rico are from its Government-accumulated stocks of older rice that are sold at well below current trading prices.

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STD Awareness Month Doesn’t Just Apply to Humans

April is STD Awareness Month, and cows should not be left out of the conversation. Trichomoniasis, or trich, is a sexually transmitted disease that has the ability to cut a calf crop in half, according to Boehringer Ingelheim. Infected animals may show no outward signs, which is why trich often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. When bulls are infected with trich, it is considered a lifelong infection with no legal treatment. While cows can clear the disease, they will likely experience reproductive failures such as infertility and low pregnancy rates. Boehringer Ingelheim suggests producers take a moment during STD Awareness Month to learn about trich, and work with a veterinarian to put a prevention plan in place that includes testing, bull selection, record keeping, biosecurity measures and vaccination. Boehringer Ingelheim says it’s important to work with a veterinarian to develop management practices and a vaccination regimen to keep your herd STD free.

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.