READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, July 7th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Production Challenges, Economic Headwinds Slow Red Meat Exports in May

U.S. beef and pork exports trended lower in May, due in part to interruptions in slaughter and processing. The U.S. Meat Export Federation reports beef exports dropped well below year-ago levels and recorded the lowest monthly volume in ten years. Pork exports remained higher than a year ago but were the lowest since October 2019. Packing plant disruptions caused by COVID-19 resulted in the lower exports. May beef exports were down 33 percent from a year ago to 79,200 metric tons, with value falling 34 percent to $480.1 million. May pork exports totaled 243,800 metric tons, 12 percent above a year ago but down 13 percent from the monthly average for the first quarter of 2020. Export value was $620.9 million, up nine percent year-over-year but 16 percent below the first quarter monthly average.  However, improvements are expected. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says, “Now that production has substantially recovered, the U.S. industry is better able to meet the needs of both domestic and international customers.”

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RELIEF Act Would Support Livestock and Poultry Producers

A group of Senators last week introduced the Responding to Epidemic Losses and Investing in the Economic Future for Producers Act of 2020. Known as the RELIEF Act, the legislation would provide relief to livestock and poultry producers amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The bill would support producers that are faced with euthanizing their animals due to COVID-19. The legislation also provides resources for animal health laboratories as they develop solutions to defend against emerging animal disease spread. Finally, the bill gives additional authority to the Department of Agriculture through the existing Commodity Credit Corporation Charter to deal with removal and disposal of livestock for any public health emergency moving forward. The bill was introduced by Iowa Senators, Republicans Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, along with Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, and Republicans Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, both of North Carolina. Grassley says the bill “will provide much-needed assistance to farmers who had to depopulate their livestock through no fault of their own.”

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Bill Would Allow State-inspected Meat Sales Across State Lines

New legislation introduced in the House of Representatives would allow state-inspected meat sales across state lines through e-commerce. The bill was introduced last week by South Dakota Republican Representative Dusty Johnson and Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar(quay-are). The bill allows small producers and processors more options to directly market to consumers. The legislation, according to Johnson, “cuts through red tape” and allows sales of normal retail quantities of state-inspected meat online to consumers across state lines. The bill also allows new direct-to-consumer options for producers, processors and small meat markets, and maintains traceability of sales easily accessed in the event of a recall. The bill is supported by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Association, and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. NCBA President Marty Smith says the bill “helps make it easier for the American cattle producer to meet the growing demand of the American consumer to purchase safe and delicious U.S. beef.”

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USDA Seeks Input on RFID Eartag Proposal

The Department of Agriculture is seeking public comment on the transition to RFID only ear tags. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wants the public input on the proposal where APHIS would only approve RFID  as the official eartag for use in interstate movement of cattle that are required to be identified by the traceability regulations. An official eartag is defined as an identification tag approved by APHIS that bears an official identification number for individual animals. Regulations allow APHIS to approve tags that can be used as official identification, and both metal and RFID tags are current options. USDA says a transition to RFID tags would support APHIS’ ongoing efforts to increase animal disease traceability by more accurately and rapidly allowing animal health officials to know where affected and at-risk animals are located. APHIS is also seeking comments on a proposed timeline for implementation. Public comments will be accepted through the Federal Register until October 5, 2020.

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China Says G4 Swine Flu Not New

China says a recently reported strain of swine flu is not a new virus. China’s Ministry of Agriculture over the weekend stated the G4 swine flu strain is not new and does not sicken humans and animals easily. The claims rebuff a study published last week, according to Reuters. China’s agriculture ministry said in a statement that the study has been interpreted by the media “in an exaggerated and nonfactual way.” The study was published in a U.S. scientific journal warning the new swine flu virus “has become more infectious to humans and could become a potential pandemic virus.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the G4 strain has been spreading in China since 2016 and has become the predominant genotype found in Chinese pigs. The scientific report last week claims the virus has the “right characteristics for causing infections in people.” However, only two human infections with G4 viruses have previously been reported.

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Gas Prices Fall Over Holiday Weekend

For the first time in ten weeks, the national average price of gasoline has fallen, posting a drop of 1.2 cents per gallon over the last week to $2.17. The national average price of diesel has increased 0.6 cents and stands at $2.42 per gallon over the same period. Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy says the nation experiences a drop in fuel demand last week from COVID-19 cases surging in some states. De Haan says, “it’s possible that if things don’t improve much by Labor Day, we could see the rare trifecta of every summer holiday setting multi-year lows.” Crude oil prices have seen little overall change over the last week. Crude oil prices remain in limbo, along with gas prices, as the next chapter in the coronavirus situation remains murky. With some states seeing a resurgence and early signs of a slowdown in gasoline demand recovery, oil prices haven’t been able to muster additional steam to rally.

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.