READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, August 21st…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Crop Tour Highlights Midwest Drought Areas

The Pro Farmer Midwestern Crop Tour wrapped up Thursday after finding some unexpected drought areas. Drought conditions reported in the weekly Drought Monitor show classified droughts in The Dakotas, Western Nebraska, Much of Iowa, and small parts of Illinois and Indiana, and much of Ohio.  Meanwhile, most of the Western U.S. is dry, with many severe and extreme drought classifications. While much of the attention focuses on the derecho storm that hit Iowa and other states, potentially destroying up to ten percent of the nation’s corn crop, parts of Iowa are in moderate to severe drought. Drought conditions expanded in western and northeastern Iowa in the last week. Organizers of the Drought Monitor say the expansion is in response to the short-term precipitation deficits during the past 60-day period, dry soils, and agricultural impacts. Pro Farmer scouts toured Western Iowa Wednesday, reporting lower expected yields for the region. Pro Farmer’s final national crop projections will be released Friday afternoon.

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Bill Seeks Investment in Rural Public Transit

Legislation introduced this week seeks to improve public transportation in rural communities. Lawmakers say the Rural Transit Act, would increase the federal contribution for operating assistance in rural areas with high transit dependency. The bill was introduced by Senators Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat, Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, and Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican. The Federal Transit Administration provides grants to support rural public transportation. However, the lawmakers say it can be difficult for certain rural communities to provide the necessary local contribution to qualify for assistance. Senator Rounds says the legislation would “allow transit operators in extreme need to receive a higher federal share of operating assistance.” The bill would increase the federal share to eighty percent for operating assistance in certain areas with high transit dependency. For a transit project to qualify, it must serve a county considered an “area of persistent poverty,” with 25 percent of residents over 65 years old.

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CME Amending Cattle Price Limits

CME Group Thursday announced planned changes to live and feeder cattle futures price limits. Pending approval by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, CME Group will implement the changes Monday, October 5, 2020. The changes amend daily price limits to adjust the current, initial daily price limit for Live Cattle futures from $0.03 to $0.04 per pound and for Feeder Cattle futures from $0.045 to $0.05 per pound. CME Group will maintain the existing practice of establishing expanded price limit levels at 150 percent of initial price limit levels, which will result in an increase in the expanded price limit for Live Cattle from $0.045 to $0.06 per pound and an increase in the expanded price limit for Feeder Cattle from $0.0675 to $0.075 per pound. CME Group also seeks to replace the current fixed daily price limit regimes, consisting of a fixed price limit and expansion mechanism, with a variable price limit regime that will be price-based and reset annually.

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USDA Announces Prevented Planting Coverage Changes

The Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency this week announced changes to Federal crop insurance prevented planting coverage. RMA will implement the changes for most spring crops with prevented planting coverage, next year, and for all crops with prevented planting coverage in 2022. The changes include expanding the “1 in 4” requirement nationwide. Currently, only producers in the Prairie Pothole National Priority Area are subject to the requirement, which requires producers to plant acreage in at least one of the four most recent crop years to be eligible for coverage on those acres. RMA made several modifications to existing policy and procedures to ensure prevented planting payments adequately reflect the crops the producer intended to plant. USDA also made changes to cover second-crop plantings following the failure of the first crop in a field. Finally, USDA will allow the use of an intended acreage report for the first two years for producers in a new county, where they have never produced the crop.

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USDA Report Details U.S. Potato Usage

A little more than one-third of all potatoes grown in the United States are manufactured into frozen products, 85 percent of which are french-fries, according to the Department of Agriculture. USDA recently released a report on potato usage. Spurred by decades of explosive growth within the quick-service restaurant industry, processed potato products, which include frozen, chipped, dehydrated, and canned, became the major movers in the potato market, led by frozen french-fries. The share of potatoes consumed as frozen products rose from 27 percent in 1970-74 to 44 percent in 2015-2019. Research in the early 2000s indicated that quick-service restaurants alone accounted for about two-thirds of French-fry usage, with another six percent attributed to school cafeterias. The COVID-19 pandemic severely hobbled the foodservice sector, according to USDA, resulting in an abrupt slowdown in French-fry demand. In addition, exports of frozen potato products, which account for one-fourth of freezing potato utilization, remain well-below year-earlier levels.

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FFA Membership Reaches Record

The National FFA Organization this week announced a record-high student membership of 760,113, an increase from last year’s 700,170 members. The top five student membership states are Texas, California, Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma. Interest in FFA and agricultural education continues to grow as membership continues to increase as well as the number of chapters. This year, the organization has more than 115,831 Latino members, more than 40,000 Black members and more than 12,000 members who are American Indian and Alaska Native. Forty-four percent of the membership is female, with 51 percent of the membership being male. FFA chapters can be found in 24 of the 25 largest U.S. cities. National FFA CEO Mark Poeschl (PESH-ull) says, “as we continue to bring agricultural education and FFA to more students, we see the enthusiasm of this generation reflected in the growth of our organization.” The National FFA Organization includes more than 8,700 local FFA chapters.

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.