READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 28th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

CDC Issues Updated Guidance for Meatpackers

New guidance by the Centers for Disease Control seeks to protect meatpacking workers from COVID-19. The meat and poultry processing workers are not exposed to the virus through the meat products they handle. However, their work environments—processing lines and others where they have close contact with coworkers and supervisors—may contribute substantially to their potential exposures. Many meatpacking facilities across the nation have closed for short periods due to infection rates of workers at the facilities. The CDC says meatpackers should configure work environments so that workers are spaced at least six feet apart, if possible. Additionally, facilities should use physical barriers, such as strip curtains, plexiglass or similar materials, or other dividers or partitions, to separate meat and poultry processing workers from each other, if feasible. Further, facilities should consider consulting with a ventilation engineer to ensure adequate ventilation in work areas to minimize workers’ potential exposures. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association welcomed the response, saying the guidance protects workers, and supports the operation of beef processing plants.

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USDA Launches Coordination Center for Livestock Producers Impacted by Reduced Demand

The Department of Agriculture announced a coordination center to assist producers impacted by meat processing plant closures late last week. USDA says livestock and poultry producers face an unprecedented emergency due to COVID-19, particularly with the closing of meat processing plants in several states. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is establishing a National Incident Coordination Center to provide direct support to producers whose animals cannot move to market as a result of processing plant closures due to COVID-19. Going forward, APHIS’ Coordination Center, State Veterinarians, and other state officials will assist in identifying potential alternative markets if a producer is unable to move animals, and, if necessary, advise and assist on depopulation and disposal methods. Additionally, APHIS will mobilize and deploy assets of the National Veterinary Stockpile as needed and secure the services of contractors that can supply additional equipment, personnel, and services, much as it did during the large-scale Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza emergency in 2015.

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AEM: Additional Relief Promising, But More Needed

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers says additional aid authorized by Congress last week is encouraging, but lawmakers need to do more. Late last week, Congress passed new legislation to provide $484 billion in additional relief for Americans enduring hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes $310 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which AEM says many equipment manufacturers are relying on to keep their operations going. However, AEM President Dennis Slater says,” too many equipment manufacturers are still struggling to stay open and on the job.” The Paycheck Protection Program is helpful for many small equipment manufacturers. Still, Slater says Congress must now turn their attention to a large number of manufacturers who do not qualify for this program but still desperately need support. AEM is the North American-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers, with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide.

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USTR: USMCA Effective July 1

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement enters effect July 1, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The July 1 date represents a one-month delay from the original timeline, following the signing of the agreement by the U.S., Canada and Mexico. In a statement last week, Lighthizer says the agreement supports more balanced, reciprocal trade, leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in North America. The agreement contains significant improvements and modernized approaches to rules of origin, agricultural market access, intellectual property, digital trade, financial services, labor, and numerous other sectors. Lighthizer says, “The crisis and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that now, more than ever, the United States should strive to increase manufacturing capacity and investment in North America.” Lighthizer calls the start of USMCA a “landmark achievement in that effort.” The trade agreement ensures most agriculture tariffs will remain at zero, and expands dairy market access to Canada for the U.S., among other benefits.

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Senators Seek Support for Rural Broadcasters

A large group of U.S. Senators wants relief for local and rural broadcasters and newspapers. More than 70 Senators signed a letter to the Trump administration regarding local media, following a similar letter last week. The lawmakers say that in many rural areas, broadcast stations are the predominant or only form of local information. The letter says it is critical local and rural media can continue to operate to help Americans stay up to date with the latest news and information. The Senators requested the White House Office of Management and Budget to work with federal agencies to increase advertising with local media outlets. The request will help local media outlets, “ensure they are able to continue to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.” Many federal agencies maintain advertising accounts to provide notices and information to the public. The recent passage of the CARES Act, according to the lawmakers, provides opportunity for the federal government to relay essential information to the public through local advertisements.

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Farm Foundation Accepting Nominations for Young Agri-Food Leaders Network 

Farm Foundation is seeking nominations for its Young Agri-Food Leaders Network, a new program created to actively engage emerging leaders in food and agribusiness. The young agri-food leaders will participate in a year-long series of interactive learning and networking experiences, focused on gaining a deeper understanding of the food and agriculture value chain. The program also hopes to help young professionals build a strong, enduring network of peers and mentors in business, farming and government. Up to ten participants will be sponsored to attend events, engage in virtual conversations and participate in exclusive learning and networking opportunities. To be eligible for this program, individuals must be a U.S. citizen, between the ages of 25 and 40, be employed in the agri-food industry, and show significant leadership potential. Nominators may be colleagues, business partners, or any other person familiar with the Young Agri-Food Leader nominee’s career. The deadline to nominate a young agri-food leader is May 15, 2020. Visit farmfoundation.org for more information.

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.