READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 12th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Lawmakers Seek Help with Livestock Depopulation, Disposal

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants the Trump administration to provide guidance on how the Federal Emergency Management Agency can help farmers depopulate and dispose of livestock. Led by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, a Democrat from Minnesota, the group sent a letter to the White House Friday. Specifically, the lawmakers request that the Administration allow for expenses related to livestock depopulation and disposal to be reimbursed under Category B of FEMA’s Public Assistance program. A similar effort in the Senate led by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley says farmers are facing an animal welfare crisis due to overcrowding and the challenge of providing enough feed and water to each animal. The Senate letter states pork producers send to market over two million pigs each week. If twenty percent of processing is idle, that means somewhere around 400,000 animals per week must be disposed of in some manner other than processing.

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Rural Mayors Urge EPA to Protect Biofuel and Farm Jobs

Mayors from across the U.S. farm belt Monday condemned oil industry efforts to seize markets from farmers and biofuel producers under the Renewable Fuel Standard. In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, 70 mayors called on the agency to “reject unjustifiable RFS waiver requests and protect rural communities.”  The letter says the closures of ethanol plants, “is having devastating ripple effects throughout our economy.” The mayors say waivers to the oil industry would further damage rural communities. The letter was offered in support for America’s biofuel producers, who have seen demand evaporate during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 70 biofuel plants have completely shuttered their doors, and another 70 have significantly cut production amid demand losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor adds that when biofuel production shuts down, “everyone hurts – from farmers and truckers to meatpackers and ranchers that need animal feed and carbon dioxide for refrigeration.”

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USDA Approves $1.2 Billion in Food Purchases to Help America’s Needy

The Department of Agriculture last week approved $1.2 billion in contracts for the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The program is designed to connect excess meat, dairy and produce on farms with families facing food insecurity. The funding far exceeds the $100 million per month the department initially planned for the program, due to high interest and need. The program will purchase $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in dairy, $258 million in meat and $175 million in a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products. The American Farm Bureau Federation and Feeding America, the country’s largest hunger relief organization, sent a letter to the USDA requesting a nimble approach to quickly and effectively get food from America’s farms to the nation’s food banks and others addressing food insecurity. USDA is authorized to spend up to $3 billion through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. These initial contracts will distribute food from May 15 through June 30, 2020.

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USDA Announces Agreements for Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the availability of $900,000 for local governments to reduce food waste in landfills. The grants allow local governments to host a Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction pilot project for fiscal year 2020. The cooperative agreements will support projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans. The agreements are offered through USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. USDA undersecretary Bill Northey stated food waste “shouldn’t end up in landfills when options like food recovery and composting are available.” Northey says composting options “not only benefit communities and the environment, they can also provide farmers and urban gardeners with exceptional, nutrient-dense planting material.” USDA will accept applications on Grants.gov until midnight June 26, 2020. Projects should span two years with a start date of October 1, 2020 and completion date of September 29, 2022.

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New Research Shows Farmer Perspective on Data Collection, Sharing

Several challenges prevent farmers from collecting and sharing data on their production practices with downstream supply chain organizations such as food companies and retailers. New research from Farm Journal’s Trust In Food initiative and The Sustainability Consortium found 62 percent of farmers report they are not using data collection and sharing software during the 2019 season. Of those who did, only about 30 percent say the software meets all their needs. Farm-level production data plays a critical role in conservation and sustainability efforts. Despite this importance, according to previous research, nearly 50 percent of food and beverage companies report having no visibility into the on-farm practices that produce the inputs they use. Farmers say a lack of access to capital, equipment, training and reliable data networks are the biggest barriers farmers face in scaling up their on-farm data efforts. And, 71 percent of farmers said their primary ag adviser or consultant has never suggested increasing on-farm data collection, data sharing, or both.

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U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol Selects Control Union Certifications

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol Trust Protocol has selected Control Union Certifications North America to implement an independent, third-party verification program for the Trust Protocol system. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol will set a standard for more sustainably grown cotton. Data about Trust Protocol cotton is proven via Field to Market, measured via the Field Calculator, and now will be verified by Control Union Certifications. The company has certified more than 150 programs worldwide, including working as a key partner in the early development and piloting phases of Field to Market’s Impact Claim Verification Protocol. U.S. cotton growers will complete a self-assessment of farming practices and share their field data through Field to Market’s Fieldprint Platform. Control Union Certifications will verify the Trust Protocol annual data that will highlight key sustainability metrics – land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol will launch in June 2020.

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.