READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, July 22nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Report: 27 Countries Headed for COVID-19 Food Crisis

A new analysis identifies 27 countries that are on the frontline of impending COVID-19-driven food crises, as the pandemic’s effects aggravate pre-existing drivers of hunger. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program report that no world region is immune. The joint analysis by FAO and WFP warns these “hotspot countries” are at high risk of, and in some cases are already seeing, significant food security deteriorations in the coming months, including rising numbers of people pushed into hunger. These countries were already grappling with high levels of food insecurity and hunger even before COVID-19, due to pre-existing shocks and stressors such as economic crises, instability and insecurity, climate extremes, and plant pests and animal diseases. The report says the pandemic may contribute to political instability as well as fueling conflict. In a bid to counter these trends, FAO released a revised appeal for $428.5 million under the UN system’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. The funds address the mounting needs in the food and agriculture sector.

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BASF, Corteva, Seek Rehearing of Dicamba Decision

BASF and Corteva both filed motions to request a rehearing on a court decision that vacated registrations for dicamba herbicides. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last month vacated the registrations for three dicamba herbicides, including BASF’s Enginia, Corteva’s FeXapan and Bayer’s Xtend. Specifically, BASF’s petition requests a review of the decision by a panel of 11 judges from the Ninth Circuit instead of the three-judge panel that issued the previous decision. This request for “en banc” review, according to BASF, “is necessary to correct errors by the panel in issuing a decision inconsistent with basic due process and administrative law principles.” BASF says the panel’s decision undermined the EPA’s authority to make science- and data-based regulatory decisions to determine which herbicide products are safe and effective to meet the challenges farmers face. Further, the company says the decision “was unprecedented and devastating to tens of thousands of farmers” who rely on dicamba.

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USDA Announces Funding to Support Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced approximately $15 million to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers own and operate successful farms. Funding is made through USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program. The program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. For 30 years, the 2501 Program has helped reach socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who have experienced barriers to service due to racial or ethnic prejudice. The 2014 farm bill expanded the program to veteran farmers and ranchers. The 2018 farm bill increased mandatory funding for the program through fiscal year 2023. With 2501 program grants, nonprofits, institutions of higher education and Indian Tribes can support socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers through education, training, farming demonstrations, and conferences on farming and agri-business, and by increasing access to USDA’s programs and services.

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Telehealth Expansion Legislation Introduced in U.S. Senate

New legislation introduced this week would expand access to telehealth options for rural residents. The KEEP Telehealth Options Act would require the federal government to study the actions taken to expand access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic and report on how to improve those services. The bill was introduced by Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, and Senator Jacky Rosen, A Nevada Democrat. Fischer says expanded telehealth services “have allowed millions of Americans to access the medical care they need during this pandemic, especially those in rural communities.” The legislation would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to study and produce a public report on the actions taken to expand access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the legislation would require the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress on the efficiencies, management, successes and failures of the expansion of telehealth services. The studies could then be used by Congress to support and inform long-term flexibilities for telehealth.

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Iowa Ag Department Extends Animal Disposal Assistance

The Iowa Department of Agriculture has extended a program to help pork and poultry producers forced to euthanize animals. The Iowa Disposal Assistance Program provides funds for producers forced to euthanize and dispose of market-ready and weaned pigs or layer hens because of supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. This is the fourth round of funding in the program. Iowa is the largest producer of pork and egg products in the United States. Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig says, “The disposal assistance program is just one way the state is trying to help producers through this very difficult time.” Iowa’s pork producers have made difficult decisions over the past several months as COVID-19-related worker shortages caused meat processing facilities to reduce production. Meanwhile, Iowa’s egg producers have also faced distribution and disposal challenges because of COVID-19-related closures. Iowa is home to over 58 million egg-laying hens. Nearly 70 percent of Iowa’s layer flocks produce for the liquid egg market and are destined for restaurants, schools and other foodservice markets.

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Farmers Business Network Acquires Australia’s Farmsave

Farmers Business Network has acquired Farmsave, an online agricultural inputs platform that provides real-time input pricing transparency and services to thousands of independent Australian farmers. Much like FBN, Farmsave gives farmers across Australia access to competitive prices on key farm chemicals from a range of suppliers and arranges delivery of goods directly to local depots and farms. Currently serving over 5,000 Australian farms, Farmsave boosts farmers’ bargaining power and drives down input costs. FBN expects to announce a range of new offerings to Farmsave’s existing members and all Australian farmers in the months ahead. A recent spate of consolidation among global chemical manufacturers and national retailers has resulted in dwindling choice for farmers across Australia. FBN says that with limited independent information sources for chemical prices or trends, farmers have been unable to purchase inputs with confidence. Farmer’s Business Network is an independent farmer-to-farmer network, built by and for over 11,500 farmers in North America. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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.