READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 24th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA: Food Box Program Reaches 20 Million Boxes Distributed

The Department of Agriculture says the Farmers to Families Food Box program has distributed more than 20 million food boxes to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the announcement Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated, “This milestone is a testament that the program is accomplishing what we intended, supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most.” In April, Secretary Perdue announced the food box effort as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program developed to help farmers, ranchers and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. In under 30 days, the program contracted for $1.2 billion in food products including $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in a variety of dairy products, $258 million in meat products and $175 million in a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products. Distribution of the food boxes across the United States began on May 15, 2020.

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Judge Rules Glyphosate Doesn’t Require Cancer Warning

A federal judge this week sided with an agriculture coalition issuing a permanent injunction against the California warning requirement of Proposition 65 for glyphosate. The ruling removes the cancer warning on glyphosate. The judge in the case says providing misleading or false labels to consumers “undermines California’s interest in accurately informing its citizens of health risks.” Two years ago, the same judge ruled government agencies and health organizations that have reviewed studies on glyphosate have found there was no evidence that it caused cancer. The ruling says it would be “misleading at best” to force parties to state on glyphosate-containing products that the products were “known to the state to cause cancer.” The judge says developments since then “do not change the court’s conclusion.” Lead plaintiff in the case, the National Association of Wheat Growers, welcomed the injunction. The association stated, “this is a great win for wheat growers and farmers across the United States.”

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Farm Households Report Off-Farm Jobs offer More Stable Income

New data from the Department of Agriculture shows nearly half of all family farmers and their spouses reported having a job off the farm in 2018. USDA’s Economic Research Service reports the majority of households, regardless of farm size, say they work off the farm because it is more lucrative than farm work, provides more reliable income, and may offer health and retirement benefits. Among small family farms, those with annual gross cash farm income under $350,000, about 88 percent reported working off the farm because it was more reliable and 75 percent because it was more lucrative. Among large-scale farm households, those with annual gross cash farm income of $1 million or more, about 72 percent reported working off the farm because it was more reliable and 51 percent because it was more lucrative. About 40 percent of all principal operators or their spouses who work off the farm listed farm-related financial stress as a reason for having a job off the farm.

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Senate Candidate Calls on EPA’s Wheeler to Resign

An Iowa candidate for the U.S. Senate is calling on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to resign. Theresa Greenfield, a Democratic challenger to Republican Senator Joni Ernst, says, “Wheeler must step down immediately.” Greenfield says Iowa farmers “deserve answers for why Senator Ernst voted for a fossil fuel lobbyist to run the EPA in the first place.” Last year, Ernst did suggest she would call for Wheeler’s resignation if his biofuels promises are not fulfilled. Last week, Ernst co-sponsored a bill that would “approve certain advanced biofuel registrations that have languished before the EPA.” Recent polling by the Des Moines Register found 46 percent of likely Iowa voters say they would back Greenfield if the election were held today, and 43 percent say they would support Ernst. Iowa is the top state for biofuels production, with 43 ethanol plants capable of producing over 4.5 billion gallons annually, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

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Center for American Progress Pitches Conservation Easement Expansion

The Center for American Progress calls on lawmakers to pass broad conservation efforts. The thinktank launched “The Race for Nature” Tuesday, its plan to stem nature loss through conservation easements. The organization says private landowners are going out of their way to protect wildlife habitat, but “the coronavirus-induced economic collapse will likely deal a catastrophic blow to families who make their living off their lands.” By definition, conservation easements are voluntary, legal agreements that permanently limit uses of the land to protect its conservation values. The two-phased proposal calls on lawmakers to pass the first phase by September of this year. The first phase of the plan would increase funding for existing conservation easement programs, help landowners gain access to easements more quickly, and pilot new emergency conservation easement programs. The second phase targets the 2023 farm bill, saying lawmakers should codify reforms that further simplify and accelerate the implementation of conservation easement programs.

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Farm Groups Launch Free Stress Management Course

A group of farm organizations just launched free online training focusing on farm stress. The training course is funded by Farm Credit, with partnership from the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union. The groups say the course will help farmers, their families and neighbors identify and cope with stress. It provides participants the skills to understand the sources of stress, manage their own stress, learn the warning signs of stress and suicide, identify effective communication strategies, and connect farmers and ranchers with appropriate mental health and other resources. The challenges of ongoing low commodity prices, trade wars and extreme weather events have dramatically affected farmers and ranchers for years. Add the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic disruptions and that stress multiplies. The groups say stress among farmers and ranchers is felt throughout farm operations and seeps into cities and towns across the country. Anyone can register for the free online training course. Visit FarmCredit.com to learn more.

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.