READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, August 13th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

NCBA Pleased with Hours of Service Exemption

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Division announced a 30-day extension to the Hours of Service Exemption for livestock and feed haulers. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says it’s pleased with the decision. “Livestock haulers are crucial to keeping beef moving through the supply chain and on to grocery store shelves,” says NCBA’s Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera. “We thank the DOT and FMSCA for extending this exemption and giving crucial relief to critical infrastructure.” However, she says while this is a definite win for the cattle industry, more still needs to be done. “NCBA will continue to work with the Trump administration and Congress to find a permanent fix for the Hours of Service Regulations,” she adds. The Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an emergency declaration at the beginning of COVID-19 to exempt livestock haulers from the burdensome Hours of Service Regulations. The most-recent 30-day extension to that declaration was set to expire on August 14. The new extension now runs through September 14.

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Kudlow: U.S.-China Trade Deal in “Fine Shape”

The White House’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow says the U.S. and China trade deal is in “fine shape.” He notes that China is continuing to buy U.S. goods, particularly commodities, under the Phase One trade deal with the U.S. Reuters says the purchases are happening despite tensions over Hong Kong and other issues between the two nations. Kudlow denied that deteriorating ties between the two countries on other issues would lead to the trade deal being scrapped. “The one area we are engaged in is trade,” he said to reporters at the White House. “it’s fine right now.” Top U.S. and Chinese officials will meet for a “routine” video conference on Saturday to assess the implementation of the Phase One agreement six months into its existence. The deal diffused a trade war that impacted both of the nations as well as the global economy. Kudlow, Director of the White House National Economic Council, says, “The evidence shows they’ve stepped up purchases substantially.” Despite what Kudlow says are “really good numbers,” China remains far short of its overall purchasing target for 2020. The U.S. exported $7.2 billion in agricultural goods to China in the first half of 2020, far below the $36.5 billion they agreed to under the trade deal.

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Corn and Soybean Harvest Expected to Set Records in August WASDE

U.S. farmers are expected to harvest a lot of corn and soybeans this year. The August World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates report says corn production is forecast at a record-high of 15.3 billion bushels, up 278 million from last month. The season’s first survey-based corn yield forecast is at a record 181.8 bushels per acre, up 3.3 bushels from last month’s trend-based projection. Corn ending stocks rose more than 100 million bushels to 2.76 billion. The season-average corn price dropped 25 cents to $3.10 a bushel. The soybean production forecast is 4.42 billion bushels, up 290 million bushels on expected higher yields. The yield forecast is at a record 53.3 bushels per acre, up 3.5 bushels from last month. Soybean ending stocks rose 185 million bushels higher from last month to 610 million bushels in the August report. The season-average soybean price is forecast at $8.35 a bushel, 15 cents lower than in July. U.S. wheat production jumped 14 million bushels to 1.84 billion. Wheat ending stocks dropped by 17 million bushels to 925 million, and if realized, that would be the lowest ending stocks in six years. The U.S. season-average farm price dropped by a dime to $4.50 a bushel. The first cotton production forecast of the year is 18.1 million bales, nine percent lower than last year. Yield is expected to be a record high of 928 pounds per acre.

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Refiners Say Biofuel Bills Soaring During Demand Slump

U.S. oil refiners say biofuel blending requirements will cost them the highest amount of money they’ve spent since 2018. The refiners say it’s putting more pressure on margins already hit by the collapse in oil prices and demand which began in March. The Financial Post says COVID-19 has led to less blending activity and as a result, fewer Renewable Identification Numbers being issued. With fewer of the compliance credits available, the price of RINs has gone up as well. As of earlier this week, the price for corn-based ethanol fuel credits in 2020 has risen almost fivefold this year to 43.50 cents each. An oil industry executive says RINs are one more cost to contend with in a refining environment which is seeing margins under pressure because of so much excess refining capacity around the world. The higher cost of RINs combined with lower margins due to COVID-19 have added urgency to the refiners’ side of the debate in Washington, D.C., around blending requirements. Lawmakers from oil-producing states have called for relief for refiners during COVID-19, due in part to the increased RIN prices.

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No Change in Land Values in 2020

The average value of agricultural cropland sits at $4,100 per acre in 2020. That’s unchanged from last year but in line with recent record highs seen in 2019 and 2015. USDA’s 2020 Land Values report says the average value of cropland, including all land and buildings on farms, was $3,160 per acre in 2020. That’s unchanged from 2019’s record high. The average value for pastureland was $1,400 an acre this year, unchanged from 2019. Cash rental rates for cropland averaged $139 per acre in 2020, down a dollar an acre from 2019. Agricultural land values were the highest in the Northeastern states. Densely-populated urban areas like Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, represent four of the top five states in terms of average agricultural land values. California rounds out the top five. Outside of urban areas, agricultural land values were highest through the Corn Belt, the Great Lakes region, the Southeast, and the Pacific Northwest. Through the Corn Belt, agricultural land values were highest in Illinois at $7,400 an acre, followed by Iowa at $7,100 an acre. Western states with both a higher concentration of livestock feeding operations and a high percentage of pastureland had lower average agricultural land values.

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Schumer Asks Perdue to Delay Hemp Regulations

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rarely gets involved in agricultural issues. However, the Hagstrom Report says he asked Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to delay issuing a U.S. Domestic Hemp Production final rule until 2022. That move would allow hemp growers and producers in his home state of New York and across the country to continue to operate under the 2014 Farm Bill Pilot Program until that time. Schumer notes that COVID-19 is a solid reason for the delay. He also knows about some criticism for the interim final rule and says a delay “will allow USDA to address some of the more pressing regulatory critiques while giving states and producers additional time to come into compliance.” Allan Gandleman is President of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. He says the more than 700 registered hemp farmers in Schumer’s home state of New York would be negatively affected by USDA’s interim final rule on hemp.

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.