READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, August 4th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

COVID-19 Disruptions in the U.S. Meat Supply Chain

The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank says COVID-19 has created substantial challenges for all segments of the meat supply chain, but especially for producers and consumers. Beginning in April 2020, outbreaks of COVID-19 at meatpacking plants led to significant disruptions and created issues of oversupply and low prices for livestock producers. The spread of COVID-19 among employees led to closures and slowdowns at many meatpacking plants. Closures were especially prominent in beef and pork industries. The agricultural economy had been in a prolonged downturn before the pandemic, intensifying concerns of how COVID-19 and disruptions in the meat production could affect farm finances. The KC Fed says greater financial difficulties for livestock producers could add to stress in agricultural lending portfolios that already had increased before the pandemic. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural lenders in the bank district were already more pessimistic about the livestock sector’s credit conditions. Almost 20 percent of agricultural lenders expect lower loan repayment rates on hog and dairy operations.

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Dredging Project Readies Mississippi River for Efficient Transportation

Soybean Checkoff-funded research, planning, analysis and design led by the United Soybean Board, has informed the launch of a dredging project to provide upgrades to the lower Mississippi River. The Army Corps of Engineers announced it will be funding and proceeding with deepening the Mississippi River from 45 to 50 feet between Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will also provide funding. The river is a major channel for U.S. soybean exports. The particular 256-mile stretch of the Mississippi River accounts for 60 percent of U.S. soy exports, and 59 percent of corn exports from that region arrive via the inland waterway system. Once complete, the new depth will unlock long-term benefits for soybeans and other U.S. agricultural exports. USB director Meagan Kaiser of Missouri says, “More efficient shipping builds value in the supply chain and expands opportunities for our soybeans to reach our customers around the world.”

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House Ag Appropriations Chair May have Misused Campaign Funds

A report by the Office of Congressional Ethics says Representative Sanford Bishop, a Georgia Democrat, may have misused campaign funds. Bishop is Chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee, and has served as the Representative for Georgia’s 2nd congressional district, encompassing Southwest Georgia, since 1993. The ethics report released last week says Bishop’s campaign committee, Sanford Bishop for Congress, reported campaign disbursements that may not be legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures. The report recommends further review, because “there is substantial reason to believe” Bishop converted campaign funds for personal use. The report includes evidence of thousands of dollars invoiced to Bishop from a Georgia golf course, along with credit card statements, including travel and golf-related charges. Bishop also serves on the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee and is Vice Chair on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. In a statement, Bishop’s office says he “has fully cooperated” with the review and proactively reimbursed many of the charges identified as incorrect.

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AFPM Facebook Ads Say RFS Based on Outdated Projections

A Facebook advertisement from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers claims the Renewable Fuel Standard is based on outdated projections. The ad directs Facebook members to an AFPM webpage critical of the RFS. The webpage is part of an effort to defend small refinery exemptions. The Facebook ad follows a news release from last week on the topic. AFPM states, “The limiting factor for ethanol consumption is, and has always been, the blend wall — a term signifying the limit to how much ethanol the fuel supply can actually handle, based on fuel and vehicle infrastructure and consumer demand.” The organization claims, “Denying relief to small refineries and making the RFS mandate bigger through volume reallocation will not change the reality of the blend wall, grow the capacity of the fuel supply or inspire more consumers to buy E15 and flex fuels.” Doing so, the organization says, will lead to higher compliance costs and more imports of foreign biodiesel.

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USDA Announces Water and Wastewater Funding

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced $462 million in funding to modernize drinking water and wastewater infrastructure across rural America. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand says the upgrades “will improve public health and drive economic development.” USDA is funding 161 projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. The program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and stormwater drainage to households and businesses in rural areas. The funding includes projects in rural communities in more than 40 U.S. states and will benefit 467,000 residents. Projects include constructing reservoirs, upgrading outdated water systems, and creating and improving sanitary sewer systems. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure, business development, housing, community facilities and high-speed internet access in rural areas.

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Onions Recalled Because of Salmonella Link

Onion producer Thomson International Inc is recalling all of its onions from all 50 states because of its link to a Salmonella Newport outbreak. The outbreak has sickened more than 500 people in the United States and Canada, and the recall follows a similar recall in Canada. Food Safety News reports the first illness began on July 12, but health officials expect more to be identified because of the lag time between illness onset and the confirmation required for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add a patient to its tally. Initially, it was thought that only red onions were implicated in the Salmonella Newport outbreak, but because of cross-contamination issues, all onions, including yellow, white and sweet are being recalled in both countries. Many of the onions are packaged for foodservice use and have been used in multi-ingredient foods so it is difficult for consumers to know whether the onions in such foods are part of the recall.

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.