READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, August 25th…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Rural Mainstreet Index Inches Up in August; Still Negative

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index increased slightly in August from July’s weak index number. A monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region that depends on agriculture and energy shows the August index is the sixth-straight month of a number below growth-neutral. The August index showed a slight increase at 44.7, up from July’s 44.1. However, that number is still in a recessionary economic zone. It was still a significant increase from the record-low in April of 12.1. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with an index of 50 representing growth neutral. “Farm commodity prices are down by 10.4 percent over the past 12 months,” says Dr. Ernie Goss, who oversees the Rural Mainstreet Index. “Despite the input of $32 billion in USDA farm support payments this year, only eight percent of bankers reported their area economy had improved compared to July, while 18 percent say economic conditions have gotten worse.” Along those same lines, the farmland price index rose above growth neutral for only the second time in the last 81 months, with the August reading at 50.1, up from July’s 45.6. The August farm equipment-sales index dropped to 32.8 from 34.4 in July.

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Peterson Wants Clarification on CFAP Payment Methodology

Late last week, House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson sent a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. He’s asking for clarification on how USDA determined the eligibility of different crops, livestock, and poultry species under CFAP. In the letter, Peterson contends that the data used by USDA to calculate CFAP payments was limited to only the earliest parts of the pandemic, missing the full extent of damage to specific commodities. “Some would argue that the full agricultural market impacts of the closure of schools, restaurants, catering, and agricultural processing facilities due to COVID-19 were not fully realized during the CFAP covered period, with losses for many commodities extending well into the second and third quarters of this year,” writes Peterson. The ag chair also took issue with the reasons that certain commodities were denied payments. “Hundreds of commodities were denied eligibility for ‘insufficient data’ and ‘lack of information,’ though it would seem that the well-documented shutdown of school meals, restaurants, and foodservice demand would have impacted those food crops, and the loss of export, landscape, and retail markets for no-food crops and livestock/poultry,” he adds. “I trust USDA is working to assist producers who’ve been denied to this point.”  

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Lighthizer Promises Help for Southeast Tomato Growers

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer promises tomato growers in the southeast United States that he will address their concerns about imported Mexican tomatoes. Trade Vistas Dot Com says American producers are upset about the surging numbers of Mexican tomato imports under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade. The United States is the second-largest producer of tomatoes in the world, but with each American eating an average of more than 20 pounds of tomatoes every year, imports are necessary to satisfy the high demand. Mexico is the largest exporter in the world and the top international supplier to the U.S. Fresh produce growers in the Southeast U.S. say Mexico is continuing to undercut their prices, dumping cheap fruits and vegetables into the U.S. market during their peak harvest time. The USDA and the Department of Commerce recently held two hearings to collect feedback on whether trade policies are harming America’s seasonal produce growers. Following those hearings, Lighthizer says he is working with Ag Secretary Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to come up with a plan to address grower concerns by September 1.

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USDA Programs Ready to Assist Those Impacted by Tropical Storms Marco and Laura

The USDA is reminding communities, farmers and ranchers, families, and small businesses in the path of Tropical Storms Marco and Laura that they have assistance programs to help. USDA staff in regional, state, and county offices are ready and eager to help in the wake of natural disasters. USDA partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other disaster-focused organizations to create the Disaster Resource Center. The center’s website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance. The USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. The tool walks producers through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them best recover from a natural disaster. USDA also encourages residents and small businesses in impact zones to contact their local USDA offices to help meet their individual needs. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is urging those in the potential path of the storms to prepare now, not just for yourselves but for livestock and pets too.

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July Cattle Numbers in Feedlots 11 Percent Higher Than 2019

The USDA says placements of cattle in feedlots during July totaled 1.892 million head, 11 percent higher than in July of 2019. That number is larger than what industry experts had predicted going into last Friday’s report. Feeding operations needed supplies, especially cattle that could be turned around in a short time. Most of the placements weighed between 700 and 900 pounds. The cattle placed in July will be marketed through the winter and into early spring. By weight, placements of cattle less than 600 pounds totaled 420,000 head. Placements between 600 and 699 pounds were 315,000 head, and placements of cattle between 700 and 799 pounds totaled 435,000 head. In the heavier weights, cattle between 800 and 899 pounds numbered 458,000 head, 900 to 999-pound cattle totaled 195,000 head, and 70,000 of those placements totaled more than 1,000 pounds. July cattle marketings were 1.99 million head, one percent lower than last year. The total number of cattle on feed as of August 1 was 11.284 million head, two percent above 2019, and the highest inventory for the month since the series of reports first began in 1996. Nebraska was among the highest states with 2.22 million cattle on feed.

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Livestock and Sportsmen Groups Enter Historic MOU on Conservation

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ducks Unlimited and Safari Club International. The MOU outlines the groups’ shared commitment to the conservation of natural resources through sustainable multiple uses. The agreement also outlines the groups’ efforts to cultivate healthier ecosystems, wildlife populations, and economies through active management. Hunting, fishing, and livestock grazing are all key components of successful, comprehensive management plans for the nation’s public lands and resources. The MOU also highlights decades of successful voluntary conservation programs and formalizes a partnership to allow these groups to coordinate multi-sector projects in the future. “One thing cattle producers and the sportsmen communities have in common is a shared commitment to being good stewards of the land,” says NCBA President Marty Smith. PLC President Bob Skinner says, “Ranchers are true conservationists and we’re proud to partner with groups whose members also work to protect open spaces and manage our country’s natural resources for a better future.”

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.