READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, July 15th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Ag Equipment Sales Rise in June

The overall sales of tractors and self-propelled combines were higher in both the U.S. and Canada during June. According to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, it’s the first time this year that the sales numbers rose. Total U.S. farm tractor sales rose 32 percent in June. Only four-wheel-drive tractor sales declined in the U.S. during June. Total year-to-date farm tractor sales are up 10 percent in 2020, while combines cut year-to-date losses to only 1.7 percent in the same period. In Canada, tractor sales grew across just about all segments during June, with overall tractor sales up 32 percent. “We’re seeing more areas of the economy open up from the previous pandemic-related shutdowns, so we’re not entirely surprised some of that pent-up demand is expressing itself right now,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at AEM. “However, we’re currently keeping our optimism cautious, as the current state of things with COVID-19 could see a negative impact on demand moving forward.” Blades also says there is too much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19-related events and their impact on the agricultural markets to determine if this higher trend will keep going.”

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China Makes Biggest U.S. Corn Buy Ever

A Reuters report says China made the biggest purchase of U.S. corn in history on Tuesday. It’s the second massive deal that China has made for corn in less than a week. The Asian nation made the buy in an attempt to meet its commitments in the Phase One trade deal with the U.S., even as tensions rise between Washington, D.C., and China. The USDA says private exporters report that China bought 1.76 million tons of corn for shipment during the 2020-2021 marketing year that starts on September 1st. The sale passed the previous record of a one-day corn sale to China that totaled 1.45 million tons in December of 1994. The deal followed a sale of 1.365 million tons to China on July 10th, a deal that was spread out over two marketing years. Last week, China increased its corn and soybean import forecasts for the current season as the country expects to step up its agricultural purchases from the United States. China also booked deals to buy 129,000 tons of soybeans in the 2020-2021 marketing year. Beijing agreed to buy $80 billion worth of U.S. ag products over the next two years in the Phase One trade deal between the two countries.

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Major Slowdown at Chinese Ports Could Impact Global Trade

Chinese testing of meat, seafood, and other products for the coronavirus has tripled customs clearance times at some major Chinese ports. Bloomberg says the intensive testing is raising some major concerns that the delays could eventually tangle up global trade flows. It normally takes about three days to clear produce through customs, but an official with a supply chain company says it’s now taking up to 10 days. China began testing cold food shipments for the virus last month in a move it says is aimed at protecting the health of the general public. The testing has combined with large arrivals of cold-storage food to add to the congestion at some of its biggest ports. China had been boosting meat imports in a bid to offset domestic shortages after the African Swine Fever outbreak that decimated the country’s pork herds. Meat and offal shipments surged to almost 900,000 tons in June, 75 percent higher than at the same time in 2019. Beijing says the new measures are helping to control the spread of the virus and will help stop another potential outbreak. Though China still needs more meat, the testing may cause exporters to slow sales to the Asian country because of the potential to get caught up in the testing process.

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Meat Production Continues to Rebound

The USDA recently raised its estimate of red meat and poultry production. The numbers in its newest WASDE report shows production levels three billion pounds higher than the agency predicted after COVID-19 shut down meat plants in April and May. An Agriculture Dot Com article says the meat outlook brightened for the second month in a row. “The beef production forecast is raised primarily on higher cattle slaughter and heavier carcass weights,” the USDA says. “Forecast pork production is raised from last month primarily on higher expected second-half commercial slaughter. Broiler production is also raised on recent hatchery data.” In all, USDA forecast meat production of 106 billion pounds this year, which is more than its May estimate of 103 billion pounds. The USDA also estimates meat production will total 107.6 billion pounds in 2021. Americans consumed a record of 224.3 pounds per person last year. Consumption was expected to climb to 227.4 pounds before the coronavirus entered the country.  After the outbreak forced slowdowns and temporary closures of some of the largest U.S. meatpacking plants, the USDA said per-capita consumption would drop to 217.1 pounds of meat as production shrank.

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Summer Farmland Market May Be Heating Up

The Farmers National Company says the spring and early summer seasons are typically slow when it comes to farmland sales. This year, that timeframe was even slower than normal. However, the land market is now warming up. Business at the Farmers National Company is as robust as its been in recent years and they say business still went on despite the effects of COVID-19. Demand for high-quality cropland remains good in most areas and is bringing mostly steady prices. Some of these sales are happening without being on the open market as the sales come up quickly and buyers are found just as quickly. The lower-quality cropland is less in demand, which tends to soften price levels. There are also first-time buyers in the market currently looking to invest in ag real estate. The outlook for land sales is positive and should bring mostly steady prices in many areas of rural America. Landowners who are considering selling are already reaching out to brokers and potential buyers. Farmers National says possible financial stress among some agricultural producers, the direction of the general economy, and the recovery from COVID-19 effects all remain wild cards in the land market. The company says predicting the ag economy is difficult as things can change overnight.

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Dairy Farmers Oppose Whole Milk Ban in Schools

The American Dairy Coalition recently fired off a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar regarding whole milk. The coalition, which represents dairy farmers, told both department heads that they’re unhappy about the possibility the report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will recommend continuing a ban on whole milk in schools. The Hagstrom Report says the coalition has asked Perdue and Azar to intervene on the question. In the letter, the dairy coalition says, “Despite an abundance of science that demonstrates that full-fat dairy products reduce chronic disease in children and adults and promotes learning children’s learning ability, the Dietary Guidelines of America continues to set caps on saturated fats, effectively banning whole milk from daycares and school nutrition programs.” The Dietary Guidelines for America set the nation’s leading nutrition policies. The American Dairy Coalition wants Perdue and Azar to ensure the publication of the DGA is updated to include the most recent evidence on the benefits of saturated fats and the healthy role they play in the diets of both school-aged children and adults.

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.