READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 16th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

White House Economic Revival Group Includes Ag Representatives

The White House economic recovery group includes agriculture leaders. Announced this week, the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups will “chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity,” according to a White House press release. The panel on agriculture includes American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, along with processor and packer representatives from Tyson Foods, Cargill, Archer-Daniels-Midland, and others. The plan includes a separate food and beverage industry panel, as well. There are 16 panels in all, representing most of the U.S. economic sectors. Crop and livestock markets are plunging during the COVID-19 pandemic, with industry losses worth billions of dollars. The National Pork Producers Council called the pandemic a “financial disaster” for pork producers. The nation’s hog farmers face a collective $5 billion loss for the remainder of the year, according to the organization. Nearly all agriculture sectors are requesting relief from the White House and the federal government to help farmers through the pandemic.

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Ag Aid Package Coming Soon

The Department of Agriculture may roll out a plan to provide relief to farmers this week. Reuters reports the plan may be unveiled soon, as part of the billions of dollars in funding made available to farmers and ranchers through the CARES Act. USDA sources say the initial plan will include direct payments to farmers, using CARES Act funding, and other resources. The CARES Act includes $9.5 billion in dedicated disaster funding, along with $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation. However, USDA previously indicated the CCC funding cannot be used until later this summer. The CCC has $6 billion in borrowing authority left out of $30 billion allowed annually, until June 30. The $9.5 billion is expected to be used to assist livestock producers, along with fruit and vegetable growers, and those who sell direct to consumers. USDA expects to announce additional aid phases as funding becomes available later this summer.

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Coronavirus-Related Cattle Industry Losses Estimated at $13.6 Billion

A study released this week estimates cattle industry losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will reach $13.6 billion. The study was commissioned by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and conducted by a team of agricultural economists. The study shows cow-calf producers will see the largest impact, with COVID-19-related losses totaling an estimated $3.7 billion, or $111.91 per head for each mature breeding animal in the United States. Without offsetting relief payments, those losses could increase by $135.24 per mature breeding animal, for an additional impact totaling $4.45 billion in the coming years. Researchers who contributed to the study say the current situation is very fluid and uncertain, and additional damages are likely. NCBA hopes the results will assist USDA in determining how best to allocate CARES Act relief funds to cattle producers. NCBA CEO Colin Woodall says the study shows relief funds provided by Congress were a good first step. However, “there remains a massive need for more funding to be allocated as soon as members of Congress reconvene.”

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Consumer Concerns Remain High Amid Pandemic

Consumer concerns remain high amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Research by the Consumer Brands Association shows that for the sixth week, American attitudes have remained largely consistent, as 91 percent of Americans say they are generally concerned about the virus. Preparedness also held steady from last week, with 76 percent of Americans reporting they feel prepared for the coronavirus’ impact on their life. As manufacturers ramp up production and grocery stores implement item limits to prevent overbuying, 55 percent of respondents reported seeing more availability and restocks of high-demand items. Access concerns over finding shelf-stable food and beverage items, as well as over-the-counter medicines, both dropped. The most notable decrease was in food and beverage items, where high-demand items are reportedly coming back in stock across the country. For many Americans, a return to normalcy can’t come soon enough. A majority, 60 percent said they are concerned about their ability to pay bills and afford necessities.

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Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program Announced

The Wisconsin Dairy Industry Wednesday announced the Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection have joined forces with the state’s leading anti-hunger organization, Hunger Task Force, by connecting milk to emergency food organizations throughout the state. With the substantial support of the local individual donor community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunger Task Force will commit up to $1 million to the newly created Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program. Wisconsin dairy farmers will be paid to supply milk to farmer-owned dairy cooperative Kemps, who will process the milk. Hunger Task Force will distribute milk to free and local partner food banks and food pantries through the Hunger Relief Federation of Wisconsin. The $45.6 billion dairy industry in Wisconsin is dealing with a sudden loss of business in schools and restaurants that account for nearly half the market. Without action, the groups say the entire state will feel the consequences and additional losses from a dairy and supply chain perspective.

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United Fresh Start Foundation Awards $25,000 Through COVID-19 Donation Program

The United Fresh Start Foundation has infused the fresh produce industry with 25 $1,000 COVID-19 Rapid Response FRESH Grants. The funds will help increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for children and families in need, while also creating opportunities for foodservice distributors experiencing lost markets. The 25 grant recipients will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to children and families in need, reaching them in schools, community centers, and other emergency feeding sites. Chair of the United Fresh Start Foundation Board of Trustees, Lisa McNeece, says, “We praise all of the companies across the supply chain working within their communities to broaden access to fresh fruits and vegetables, despite their own economic hardships.” The program is funded through the generosity of individuals who have agreed to donate their prepaid registration fees for the United Fresh 2020 Convention in San Diego to the United Fresh Start Foundation. Additional donations will allow the Foundation to build upon its efforts. More information is available on UnitedFresh.org.

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.