READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, July 8th…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Ag Economy Barometer Shows Some Optimism

Farmer sentiment improved again in June as the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rose 14 points to 117. The barometer’s rise was fueled by improvements in both the Index of Current Conditions, which rose to a reading of 99, 19 percent higher than a month earlier, and the Index of Future Expectations, which climbed to 126, 12 percent higher than in May. The improvement in farmer sentiment left the Ag Economy Barometer seven percent below one year earlier, while the Index of Future Expectations was still ten percent below its June 2019 level. However, the Index of Current Conditions was two percent higher than in June 2019, likely reflecting considerably improved spring planting conditions throughout much of the nation, in addition to support from USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Four out of ten farmers surveyed said that as a result of concerns about COVID-19, they are conducting more business online, and over half of respondents said they are less likely to attend in-person educational events in 2020.

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Barchart Releases July Yield Forecast

An industry data and technology provider predicts 2020 corn yield at 173.8 bushels per acre for corn and 48.8 bushels per acre for soybeans. Barchart, a technology company that provides market data, released its July yield forecast Tuesday. The report shows an increase in forecasted corn yield relative to the June 2 report, which forecasted end of season yield for corn at 172.4 bushels per acre. There was no change in the soybean yield compared to the June report. Released for free to the public on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season, the cmdty (commodity) Yield Forecast Index series allows users to get insights to guide their business decisions ahead of the USDA’s WASDE report, due out this Friday. Barchart’s cmdty Yield Forecast Indexes, which correctly predicted 2019 USDA soybean yield figures three months in advance, are calculated using the latest geospatial and remote sensing technology, and provide users with daily insights on over 3,000 individual growing areas in the United States.

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House Ag Appropriations Committee Approves 2021 Bill

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved the fiscal year 2021 agriculture appropriations bill this week. Committee Chairman Sanford Bishop Jr, a Georgia Democrat, says the bill rejects the Trump administration’s drastic cuts and “instead builds on the four COVID-19 supplemental bills Congress passed this spring.” The bill includes total discretionary funding of $23.98 billion, representing a $487 million increase from 2020. Notable features include $4.2 billion for rural development programs, including $1 billion for rural broadband. The bill provides $68.2 billion in required mandatory spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including $3 billion for the SNAP reserve fund. The bill also includes language to block the Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents final rule and the Standard Utility Allowance proposed rule. The bill also blocks USDA from granting line-speed waivers at meat processing facilities during the public health emergency.

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USDA Provides New Crop Insurance Options

The Department of Agriculture this week announced changes to several crop insurance policies that the agency says improves options for producers. USDA introduced the Quality Loss Option, a new unit structure assignment option for Enterprise Units and new procedures for Multi-County Enterprise Units. Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre says the changes “provide producers more flexibility and options” to farmers. The new Quality Loss Option is in response to the 2018 Farm Bill that required the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to research and develop methods of adjusting for quality losses. The new Quality Loss Option allows producers to replace post-quality production amounts in their Actual Production History databases with pre-quality production amounts, thereby increasing their actual yields for individual crop years. For Enterprise Units and Multi-County Enterprise Units, a new unit structure assignment option was added. Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. Learn more about the changes at rma.usda.gov.

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Bill Seeks to Expand Online SNAP Retailers

The Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020 seeks to increase online Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation. Introduced last week by Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, both Illinois Democrats, the bill expands the number of retailers approved for SNAP online. The National Grocers Association supports the legislation, which the organization says, “will be instrumental in helping grocers process online SNAP payments.” Specifically, the bill creates a technical assistance center to support independent grocers and provides grants to retailers who need financial assistance in offering SNAP online. The bill also develops an online and app-based portal for EBT redemption and expands SNAP online to all states nationwide. Senator Duckworth says the bill will “provide grocers of all sizes with the technical assistance needed to ensure all families have the same opportunity to safely purchase groceries online.” Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House in the coming days from U.S. Representative Robin Kelly, also an Illinois Democrat.

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Gavins Point Dam Decreases Missouri River Water Releases

Below-normal precipitation in the upper Missouri Basin during June resulted in slightly below-average June runoff. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reduced water releases from Gavins Point Dam to 30,000 cubic feet per second. The 2020 calendar year upper basin runoff forecast, updated on July 1, is 31.2 Million Acre Feet, 121 percent of average. Average annual runoff for the upper basin is 25.8 million-acre feet. While above average, the forecast is welcomed along the Missouri River Basin, plagued by flooding last year. Work continues along the river to repair and improve levees that protect farmland. Much of that runoff was due to wet soil conditions early this spring and snowmelt runoff.  John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, says, “remaining summer runoff will depend on rainfall events.” Soils continue to dry out in the upper Missouri River Basin due to well-below normal precipitation and warmer-than-normal temperatures. And, drought conditions have expanded across much of western portion of the Basin.

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.