READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 17th…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Storm Damage Estimates Still Climbing

Scouts are on the Pro Farmer Crop Tour trail this week to get a look at corn and soybean crops in the Midwest. They’ll also get a look at crop damages from the derecho (Deh-RAY-cho) storm a week ago. The violent thunderstorms traveled over 700 miles from Nebraska to Indiana. The storm was so powerful, as of last Thursday, more than 300,000 people hadn’t had power restored in northern Illinois and Iowa, which was the hardest-hit state. The Washington Post says the 70 mile-per-hour winds hit more than 10 million acres of corn and soybeans in Iowa, adding more difficulty to an already challenging year for farmers. Up to 43 percent of the state’s corn and soybean crop suffered some level of damage from the storms, a big blow to the $10 billion agriculture industry that anchors Iowa’s economy. The damage was so extensive that it was even visible on weather satellites that were used to track the storm. Meteorologist Steven Bowen said on Twitter that “This has all the makings of a billion-dollar impact on agriculture in Iowa and Illinois. With that said, it will take some time for farmers to determine how much of the downed crops are salvageable for harvest.”

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China Buys Record Amount of U.S. Sorghum

The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service published data showing that the U.S. recently sold a record amount of sorghum. The sale of 32 million bushels topped the previous record week of 23 million bushels that was set in December of 2014. “U.S. sorghum farmers should be encouraged by these continued sales to China,” says National Sorghum Producers and Sorghum Checkoff CEO Tim Lust. “We are making improvements to our crop not only from a yield and technology standpoint but also through quality measures that are translating directly to international buyers and noticeably-improved basis numbers across the country.” USDA says current marketing year sales totaled more than 286,000 metric tons, with 527,500 metric tons sold for the coming 2020-2021 marketing year. The recent one-week sale of 32 million bushels totaled about nine percent of total U.S. sorghum production this year. “The sales commitments are profound, and like any other high-demand situation, we expect to see basis increases enhance sorghum acres next year,” says Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director Florentino Lopez. While they’re working to enhance sales in China, the checkoff is also continuing to build future overseas markets in Vietnam, Kenya, and India.

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COVID-19 Continues Pressure on Farm Finances in the Second Quarter

The effects of COVID-19 continue to put pressure on the agricultural economy and weighed down farm finances in the Kansas City Fed’s Tenth District. Farm income declined in the second quarter of 2020 at its quickest pace since 2016, due in large part to weak market conditions for key agricultural commodities. Weakness in both farm income and borrower liquidity was expected to carry into the coming months. Agricultural credit conditions remained weak overall, but still relatively stable. The decrease in liquidity was consistent across all states, with a comparably higher share of banks in Nebraska reporting reduced short-term funds among borrowers. Looking ahead, bankers expect farm borrowers to have greater difficulty repaying loans. Some of the current stability in credit conditions may be attributed to government programs that provided revenue support and additional financing options for borrowers. Even before COVID-19, the USDA was already forecasting additional declines in working capital for the U.S. farm sector in 2020. Concern about drought is placing additional pressure on the western part of the Kansas City Fed’s District. A bigger share of bankers in the west expect farmers to have trouble paying back loans in the months ahead.

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Chinese Cities Find Coronavirus in Frozen Food Imports

Two cities in China have found traces of coronavirus in frozen-food imports. Samples taken from frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil and shrimp from Ecuador have both tested positive for the virus. While the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, the discoveries are causing concern that the disease can spread on surfaces and enter the food chain. One day before the Chinese announcement, Reuters says officials in New Zealand started to investigate whether the first COVID-19 cases there in more than three months were imported by freight. The World Health Organization downplayed the risk of the virus entering the food chain. While viruses can survive as long as two years in temperatures of minus four degrees Fahrenheit, scientists and officials say there is no strong evidence that the coronavirus can spread through frozen food. “People should not be afraid of food, food packaging, or delivery of food,” says Mike Ryan, the Head of Emergencies Programming for the WHO. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and USDA issued a joint statement saying that “there is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging.”

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Mexican Farmers Unhappy with Glyphosate Ban

The Mexican agriculture industry expects to lose approximately 76 billion pesos, or $3.4 billion, due to a lower harvest brought on by the government’s ban on glyphosate imports. Mexico News Daily reports farmers are expecting to run out of their glyphosate stocks because imports have been banned by the Ministry of Environment during the fall-winter farming cycle. The National Agricultural Council in Mexico says the shortage will negatively impact as many as seven million farmers and other workers who are economically dependent on the agriculture industry. The National Agricultural Council issued a statement saying, “The inventories are running out. We as farmers don’t have glyphosate for the fall-winter cycle.” The council says if the government restrictions aren’t lifted, the only thing it will achieve is a major drop in food production across the country. The Mexican farmers estimate a drop of 30-50 percent in this year’s harvest, with most of the impact in grains. An agrochemical company spokesman says their industry hasn’t been able to find a replacement for glyphosate that’s nearly as effective.

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Farm Credit Institutions Increased Support to Young, Beginning, and Small Farmers

A recent presentation shows Farm Credit institutions increased their support of the young, beginning, and small farmers and ranchers across the country in 2019. “Farm Credit grew and strengthened its commitment to young, beginning, and small farmers and ranchers in 2019 despite the challenges of continued low commodity prices, severe weather events, and an uncertain trade outlook,” says Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose. “Farm Credit takes its mission to support rural communities and agriculture very seriously.” He says lending to the young, beginning, and small farmers is at the core of its mission. Last year, Farm Credit increased the number of loans to young farmers by almost six percent, beginning farmers by eight percent, and small farmers by seven percent, as compared to 2018. Similarly, the dollar amount of those loans increased as well, by 7 percent to young farmers, eight percent to beginning farmers, and 16 percent to small farmers. The FCA is an independent federal regulatory agency charged with the oversight of the Farm Credit System.

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.