READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 23rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senate Seeks $20 Billion for Commodity Credit Corporation

Senate negotiations continue on the next coronavirus relief package. While those close to the talks suggest there will not be a bill ready until sometime next month, there is promise for additional relief to agriculture. Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, told Agri-Pulse this week the package will likely include an additional $20 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation funding. That $20 billion would be in addition to the $14 billion already authorized in a previous relief package not yet used by the Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, in a video addressing the National Association of Farm Broadcasting this week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue hinted at further aid through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Perdue says USDA is considering adding more commodities to the program and is evaluating what farmers need from future relief. Farm groups continue to plead for additional aid for farmers, including the National Pork Producers Council, which estimates hog farmers face a $5 billion loss from pandemic market implications.

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USDA Provides Cattle Market Investigation Update

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday released a report on its ongoing boxed beef and fed cattle price spread investigation. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the closure of the Tyson beef packing plant following a fire at the facility in Holcomb, Kansas, and the COVID-19 pandemic, “clearly disrupted the markets and processing systems responsible for the production and sale of U.S. beef.” The report also discusses several policy considerations in light of the desire by many market participants for improved price discovery, reinvigorated competition, and a more transparent relationship between the prices for live cattle and the resulting products. The report does not examine potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act. However, USDA staff have maintained a cooperative relationship with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division staff and have discussed allegations of anticompetitive practices in the meatpacking industry. Should USDA find a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act, it is authorized to report the violation to DOJ for prosecution.

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Agriculture Responds to Cattle Market Investigation Update

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association welcomed the investigation update by the Department of Agriculture into cattle markets. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs, Ethan Lane, says, “this issue has remained a central topic of conversation for NCBA.” The report comes days before NCBA will hold its annual summer meeting. Lane says the association still awaits the results of the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into the matter as well. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley applauded the report, saying, “The cattle market industry is broken.” Grassley says, “Congress has a responsibility to heed the advice of this report and take action to restore cattle price transparency.” The North American Meat Institute, however, notes the report identifies no wrong-doing, and affirms that two extreme and unforeseen events affected beef markets. NAMI President and CEO Julie Anna Potts stated, “It is difficult to see how the USDA’s recommended legislative proposals would have changed the outcome of the fire or the pandemic.”

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Ernst Bill Provides Tax Break for Essential Workers

Legislation introduced the week by Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa would provide tax relief to essential, front line workers. Under Ernst’s FRNT LINE Act, federal income taxes would be suspended for essential workers up to an annual income cap set at the highest level of pay for an enlisted person in the U.S. Armed Forces. Additionally, the bill would provide suspension of federal payroll taxes for essential workers who earn up to $50,000 annually. Under this proposal, tax suspensions will begin on April 1, 2020, and will end on the date the federal emergency declaration is lifted. Senator Ernst says, “These front line workers—our nurses, truck drivers, and grocery store workers, child care providers, and so many others—have kept life going and our supply chains intact.” Several industry groups representing the food supply chain penned a letter in support of the legislation. The Department of Homeland Security considers essential workers as healthcare providers, law enforcement, food and agriculture workers, public works, transportation and communication workers, among others.

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Farm Progress Launches Virtual Show

Two major farm shows are off the calendar for 2020, and to fill the gap, Farm Progress is launching the first-ever Farm Progress Virtual Experience, or FPVX. The event will be powered by Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days and run three days, September 15 to 17. The information available in the free event allows farmers to engage with a range of content. And, searching the exhibitors will be easy because they’ll be sorted into the familiar categories farmers have come to know through more than 65 years of taking part in Farm Progress events. The event will kick off with what Farm Progress says may be the most extensive field demonstration the organization has ever created. Matt Jungmann (yung-man) of Farm Progress adds, “We’re not asking farmers to just sit by their computers.” All the content will work on smartphones and tablets so that farmers can access the content while mobile. More information will be available as the show date nears.

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Farm Bureau Foundation Makes Ag Education More Accessible

New resources and $17,000 in grants from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture provide educators and parents with tools for all types of classrooms. Parents and teachers can use the online resources for in-person, virtual, or at-home learning. Also, announced Wednesday, the foundation is awarding 17,000 to educators and communities through the White-Reinhardt Fund for Education program this fall. Ten classroom and community ag literacy projects across the country will receive $1,000 each to build on their efforts. New this year, the foundation is also awarding resource grants to provide funds for educators to purchase ag literacy resources from the Ag Foundation store. Seventy educators from across the country will each receive a $100 gift card for use at the Ag Foundation’s online store. Foundation Executive Director Daniel Meloy says, “The Ag Foundation is committed to reaching students where they are to help them continue to learn where their food comes from, in the most engaging ways possible.” Find the resources at agfoundation.org.

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.