READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, August 14th…

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July Equipment Sales Numbers Climb Higher Despite Uncertainty

July was the fourth-consecutive positive month in the U.S. for overall unit sales of agricultural tractors and self-propelled combines. July numbers in Canada were also positive for the second-straight month. The latest information from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 34 percent in July when compared to July 2019. June’s self-propelled combine sales grew 33.6 percent. Four-wheel drive tractors continued their decline in unit sales in the U.S. in July, falling 21 percent for the month and 13 percent so far in 2020. Total year-to-date sales of all farm tractors are up 14 percent in 2020, while combines broke into positive territory for the first time in 2020, now up four percent in the same period. “We’re continuing to see demand in the small, medium, and harvesting sectors,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at AEM. “The continuously-developing nature of COVID-19 and its effect on the agricultural sector is keeping our optimism cautious.” Growth in the U.S. market has outpaced the five-year average each month and Blades says they’re hoping that trend continues.


Food Prices Decline in July

After months of steady increases, the prices consumers pay for their groceries dropped in July. The monthly Consumer Price Index says that was the first decline in the price of food since April of 2019. However, the decrease was less than half a percent and Americans are still paying more for food than they did in 2019. Prices in the last 12 months have risen 4.1 percent. COVID-19 forcing Americans to stay at home and cook more of their meals has driven up demand and prices at supermarkets. Prices for food that Americans typically eat at home is up almost five percent over the past year. The Detroit Free Press says meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and cereals showed some of the sharpest increases seen in decades through April, May, and June. However, prices for those same products fell 3.8 percent in July. Beef prices dropped the most in July at 8.2 percent. Back in April, beef prices had soared over 10 percent, with cuts like beef roasts increasing 20 percent. While prices for specific cuts dropped in July, those prices are still 14 percent higher than last year. Dairy prices dropped 0.8 percent in July, the second-straight month of a decline.


Western Oil Refineries are Converting into Biofuel Plants

Massive oil refineries in the western United States are making an unexpected transition. They’re being converted into biofuel plants. Phillips 66 recently announced it will convert a California oil refinery into a biofuel plant as gas continues to lose some luster to fuels that come from agricultural and waste products. The company’s 120,000 barrel-a-day refinery near San Francisco will become the world’s biggest renewable diesel plant. Before that, fuel giant Marathon Petroleum Corporation announced it may be converting two refineries into renewable diesel plants. Back in June, Holly Frontier Corporation said it’s turning their Cheyenne, Wyoming refinery into a renewable diesel plant by 2022. Bloomberg says refiners are struggling with depressed demand and an uncertain future because of COVID-19. However, California may offer a pathway to staying in business because the demand for renewable diesel is surging throughout the state. An industry expert tells Bloomberg that there is “overcapacity” in the refining market. The basic question before refiners now is whether they shut down their plants or will they instead repurpose their operations? Nick Weinberg-Lynn of Phillips 66 says, “The California market for the renewable diesel product is the largest in the world.” Phillips will invest $700 million to $800 million in the conversion process.


Mexico Will Phase Out Glyphosate by 2024

By the time the current Mexican administration ends in 2024, Mexico will have phased out the use of glyphosate. President Andres Manuel (Man-WELL) Lopez Obrador made the announcement this week following a ministerial disagreement over the product. The herbicide, which is used in brands like Roundup, has caused differences between his agriculture and environment ministries. The Mexican president says the government will immediately stop using glyphosate in its projects. The agriculture ministry announced that private food producers will have until 2024 to phase out the use of glyphosate, which has sparked safety concerns in numerous countries around the globe. “We couldn’t get rid of it all at once,” the president said to reporters. “It can’t be done; it would hit food output. We would have to import, and the products we bring in would also be grown with the same agrochemicals.” The president’s announcement follows a leaked audio recording of his Environmental Minister, who has been a strong critic of the herbicide, criticizing the government for internal contradictions during a private meeting.  


U.S. Hemp Growers Association will be at Farm Journal Field Days

The U.S. Hemp Growers Association is happy to announce it will be involved in Farm Journal Field Days. The U.S. hemp industry is continuing to grow and advance, so they’ll be offering opportunities for farmers and hemp businesses to advance knowledge and contacts in hemp and provide resources for hemp growers. The USHGA is a nonprofit group dedicated to providing resources to farmers about the best agricultural practices for growing hemp, as well as information about the regulatory and legislative developments they need to know about. The group is also an information network for policymakers, researchers, and other industry stakeholders. “The U.S. Hemp Growers Association is excited to exhibit at Farm Journal Field Days,” says Caren Wilcox, the executive director of the association. “We believe events like this unite farmers nationwide and bring us closer to our mission of education and outreach.” Wilcox will give a policy update and Michael Bowman, Chair of the USHGA, will speak to attendees about the organization. Hemp growers will also be available at the booth.


Mustard Family Member Seen as a Potential Biofuel Source

Lesquerella is a member of the mustard family that is native to the Southwest U.S. Agricultural Research Service scientists are now looking at it as a potential home-grown source of butanol. It’s a cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline that was produced around the world until after World War 2 when making the fuel from petroleum sources was more efficient than fermenting it from corn and molasses. Now that fermentation and product-recovery technology have advanced, a team at the ARS’ National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Illinois hopes to rekindle the production of butanol as a biobased fuel. They’ve begun conducting research to expand the list of butanol feedstocks that can be used, and they’re finding fiber-rich crop residues like wheat straw, sweet sorghum, and corn stover work well. The team’s efforts are part of a broader umbrella effort at the ARS to create new, value-added markets for commodities, especially if they could eventually be sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuels.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


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.