READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, July 17th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Meals to You Program Approaching 30 Million Served

The Department of Agriculture announced the delivery of more than 28.5 million meals to low-income kids in rural America through the Meals to You partnership. The program delivers meals to the doorsteps of low-income kids in rural communities across America during the COVID-19 health crisis. While visiting McLane Global, one of USDA’s partners in the initiative, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated, “We’ve heard from families across America who have told us that in these difficult times, the program has been a home run for feeding hungry kids.” Meals to You is a public-private partnership between USDA, the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, and PepsiCo. It began as a summer pilot project in 2019 but has been successfully leveraged as an emergency program to address pandemic-related nutrition needs in rural areas. Initially, Meals to You aimed to serve one million meals to children in rural areas. As of July 11, 2020, 28.5 million meals have been delivered to 268,277 children across the U.S. 

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Ag Groups Welcome NEPA Reforms

Agriculture groups welcome the announced changes by the Trump Administration to the National Environmental Policy Act. The White House says the final rule will modernize and accelerate environmental reviews under NEPA so infrastructure can be built in a timely, efficient, and affordable manner. President Donald Trump says, “By streamlining infrastructure approvals, we’ll further expand America’s unprecedented economic boom.” The Ag Retailers Association supports the reforms. ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock says the final rule will speed up the approval process for much-needed infrastructure projects, “which will especially benefit the rural communities in which ag retailers and their customers live and work.” The Fertilizer Institute applauded the rule’s finalization, stating, “Many of our members have been negatively impacted by outdated NEPA guidelines.” However, Environmental groups object. Natural Resources Defense Council CEO and Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy says the rule “is a clear attempt to silence and sideline people to make it easier for industry to pollute our communities.”

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Survey: Consumer Demand for Environmental Action Growing During Pandemic

A recent global survey shows consumer demand for environmentally sustainable practices and products has increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol conducted the survey to find how sustainability programs at brands and retailers had changed in a post-COVID world. The survey found 54 percent of sustainability leaders at apparel and textile brands say they’ve seen their customers’ demands increase for sustainable projects. However, 59 percent said they believe customers will still continue to prioritize price when making purchases. The survey found that 43 percent of respondents believe COVID-19 has had a positive impact on investments in sustainability efforts during this period, while 40 percent believe it has had a negative impact. The survey found 54 percent of respondents report demands for sustainable projects has “significantly” or “somewhat” increased since the beginning of the pandemic, and 42 percent said that those customers are also more vocal in those demands.

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Class Action Lawsuit Alleges ADM Ethanol Market Manipulation

A class-action lawsuit filed this week claims Archer Daniels Midland Company engaged in an illegal scheme to manipulate ethanol markets. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of ethanol producers and led by Green Plains Inc. The proposed class-action suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, and claims senior ADM officials knew of the alleged manipulation, according to Reuters. In a recent complaint to S&P Global Platts, the benchmark pricing provider for ethanol, the industry claimed ADM was aggressively selling ethanol on the cash market and timing the transaction 30 minutes ahead of the close of the trading day. The move flooded ethanol markets and choked off competitors, according to the filers of the lawsuit. The DiCello Levitt Gutzler law firm in Chicago is representing Green Plains. A Law firm spokesperson says, “We encourage everyone with knowledge and those that care about fair and equitable marketplaces to come forward.”

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Ethanol Industry Losses Could Reach Nearly $9 Billion

The Renewable Fuels Association says the industry has lost more than $3.4 billion in revenue stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. An industry analysis released by the association this week also found that pandemic-related damages in 2020 and 2021 could reach nearly $9 billion. The data is based on the latest projections from the Energy Information Administration and Agriculture Policy Research Institute. Between March and June of 2020, the study by RFA found the cumulative decline in ethanol production and consumption exceeded 1.3 billion gallons, and nearly 500 million fewer bushels of corn were used in ethanol production during the period. Assuming current market conditions do not deteriorate, total pandemic-related revenue losses for the industry could approach $7 billion in 2020 and $1.8 billion in 2021. However, if states adopt additional travel and business restrictions, the losses may be larger and may even surpass the $10 billion estimate from RFA’s initial forward-looking analysis released in April.

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Texas, USDA, Sign Stewardship Agreement

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a Shared Stewardship agreement with Texas Governor Greg Abbot Thursday. The agreement will establish a framework for federal and state agencies to improve collaboration in responding to natural resource concerns and ecological challenges in Texas. Governor Abbot says the agreement “is an important step toward strengthening our partnership with the federal government and renewing our commitment to responsible forest management.” The agreement is between the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as well as the Texas A&M Forest Service. Texas is the 15th state to agree to a Shared Stewardship framework. The framework uses a modern and collaborative approach to focus on landscape-scale forest restoration activities to protect at-risk communities and watersheds. The agreement with Texas will focus on encouraging strong, long-term forest management programs, promoting sound and scientific silvicultural practices, and aligning various agency land management activities to meet common goals.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.