READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, July 28th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Announces More Farmers to Families Food Box Program Purchases

The Department of Agriculture will launch a third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases in September. The purchases will spend the balance of $3 billion authorized for the program. So far, over 46 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes have been invoiced and delivered. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the program “is accomplishing what we intended – supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most.” In the third round of purchases, USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products. In the ongoing second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1, USDA aims to purchase up to $1.47 billion of food for the program. For the second round, USDA extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program worth up to $1.27 billion. The first round of purchases totaled more than $947 million from May 15 through June 30, 2020. 

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U.S. Residents Receiving Unsolicited Seeds from China

Numerous state agriculture departments, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are urging consumers not to plant seeds sent to them from China. Americans across the country report receiving unsolicited seeds from China in packages labeled as jewelry. These unknown seeds are a concern for American farmers, as they could be invasive species, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock. USDA considers the practice agricultural smuggling, and all states reporting the practice are asking consumers to notify their state agriculture departments. Consumers are asked not to open any sealed package containing seeds, and not throw unsealed seeds in the trash, as they could grow in landfills. The packages may be part of what is called a brushing scheme, where criminals buy their own cheap products, send them to a real address, then write a positive review about their product online. Similar packages containing seeds are showing up in mailboxes in Britain, as well.

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Rural America 2020 Campaign Says Trump Policies Hurting Farmers

A new political campaign, Rural America 2020, takes aim at the Trump administration. Founded by a self-described former Trump voter, Ohio farmer Chris Gibbs, the campaign advocates for policies that benefit agriculture and rural America. The group seeks to bring attention to President Donald Trump’s trade war, alleged rural community failures, and provide policy solutions for a stronger rural America. The campaign cites a rise in farm bankruptcies, farm debt and the decline in net farm income. Gibbs says, “Rural communities all across this nation are struggling under this administration.” He adds, “Too often rural America is portrayed with a broad brush as Trump country,” saying Rural American 2020 is a way for rural residents to speak out against the Trump administration. In addition to building community-level coalitions in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, Rural America 2020 will be advertising in key states to highlight farmer’s voices who are critical of the President and his policies.

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Grains Council Hosting Virtual Annual Meeting

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Grains Council kicked off its 60th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting virtually Monday. The meeting seeks to help U.S. grain sector leaders assess the challenges affecting their industry and offer reassurance grain exports continue despite disruptions. The meeting began on an encouraging note from USGC Chairman Darren Armstrong, a farmer from North Carolina, who reviewed the current marketing year’s top five markets for U.S. corn – Mexico, Japan, Colombia, South Korea and China, and the top three markets for U.S. sorghum. Armstrong says, “While the current domestic demand situation is challenging, the export outlook has bright spots to share.” USGC will hold its Board of Delegates meeting and conduct elections today (Tuesday.) The meeting will wrap up on Wednesday with virtual Advisory Team meetings in the morning and a closing general session in the afternoon.  Armstrong adds, “Throughout this extraordinary time, U.S. farmers have never stopped working and neither has the U.S. Grains Council.”

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BQA Program Earns Compliance with International Animal Welfare Standards

The Beef Quality Assurance Program, known as BQA, is now recognized as an industry-leading animal welfare program. Funded by the Beef Checkoff and managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the program complies with the International Organization for Standardization Animal Welfare Management General Requirements and. The standard was developed in 2016 for programs to show they are aligned with the principles of the World Organization of Animal Health Terrestrial Animal Health Code. Julia Herman, Beef Cattle Specialist Veterinarian for NCBA, says affirmation that the program complies with the specifications is “an important recognition of U.S. cattle producers’ continued commitment to delivering a safe, high quality beef supply while maintaining the highest animal welfare standards.” Developed more than 30 years ago, the BQA program has become the industry standard for delivering education and resources to cattle producers. More than 85 percent of the U.S. beef supply today is managed by BQA-certified farmers and ranchers, according to the National BQA Database.

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USDA Launches New Farmers.gov Features to Help Farmers Hire Workers

New features on the farmers.gov website will help facilitate the employment of H-2A workers. The Department of Agriculture announced the new features Monday, which includes a real-time dashboard that enables farmers to track the status of their eligible employer application and visa applications for temporary nonimmigrant workers. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says USDA’s goal is to help farmers navigate the complex H-2A program administered by Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department. The changes aim to make hiring a farmworker an easier process for farmers to navigate. The changes also include a streamlined login process and enables easy access to the Department of Labor’s Foreign Labor Application Gateway. Additionally, the changes allow farmers to track time-sensitive actions and allows for farmers to access all application forms online. Secretary Perdue says, “We will continue working to streamline these and other processes to better serve our customers across the country.”

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.