READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, September 2nd…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farmers Showing Optimism in Latest Ag Economy Barometer

Farmers were more optimistic in August, as the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rose to a reading of 144, 26 points higher than a month earlier. Organizers say the improvement resulted from improved perceptions regarding current conditions and better expectations for the future. The Index of Current Conditions rose 13 points in August to 124 while the Index of Future Expectations rose 33 points to 154. This month’s improvement was underpinned by expectations for excellent crop yields, as indicated in the Department of Agriculture’s August Crop Production report, and nearly across the board rallies in key ag commodity prices in August. The barometer and its two sub-indices all posted their most positive readings since February 2020, when record highs were established and before the coronavirus pandemic began. Producers also indicated they were more optimistic about agricultural exports increasing than in recent months, perhaps due to recent news about additional export sales to China.

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EPA Proposes Streamlined Biotech Approvals for Crops

A proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency would streamline the regulation of certain plant-incorporated protectants. The proposal allows biotech crops containing pesticide traits to be exempt from select regulations if they meet certain reporting requirements. Specifically, the EPA proposes exemptions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for certain plant-incorporated protectants created through biotechnology. The Agency has preliminarily determined that these substances meeting the exemption criteria have no risks of concern to humans or the environment. Under the proposed exemption, the EPA would require developers of the biotech crops to submit either a self-determination letter or a request for the EPA confirmation that their product meets the exemption criteria. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the new rule “will provide critical new tools for America’s farmers as they work to increase agricultural productivity.” The proposal is part of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products.

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NMPF: Food Chain Adapting to Coronavirus

The coronavirus crisis is far from over, but the food supply chain has adapted effectively, according to the National Milk Producer Federation. NMPF chief counsel Clay Detlefsen says, “We’ve got the food industry on the right track.” However, he concedes, “It won’t be easy to keep us there.” Early challenges in acquiring enough Personal Protective Equipment and redesigning workplaces to keep workers safe have been largely met, but the continued circulation of the virus itself makes it challenging for businesses to be completely confident disruptions may be avoided. Progress continues in making sure supplies are manufactured in adequate quantities, as well as in understanding how the virus is spread and how to prevent it. Detlefsen of NMPF is also the private-sector chair of the Food and Agricultural Sector Coordinating Council. The council was set up after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks to share information between government agencies and private businesses during crises that affect the U.S. food-supply chain.

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Farmland Ownership Interest Growing

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn more interest in farmland ownership. Farmers National Company says there is a growing interest by individuals and investment funds in owning land. Part of this interest is because of COVID-19’s impact on their investment psychology and the desire to invest in a stable, long-term real asset. The company says people are thinking about the food supply chain and sustainability of the food supply and deciding that they want to own an important part of how food is produced. Over the past several years, there has been somewhat less good quality cropland for sale than average with 2020 seeing even less for a number of months after the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, there is additional farmland coming up for sale once again, with part of that being the normal seasonal upswing and part being people who have been thinking of selling deciding to go ahead and sell, providing some opportunity for farmers and investors alike.

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Farmers are Participating in Virtual Farm Shows

Farm Journal reports more than 50,000 farmers participated in its New American Farm Show experience. The ten-day experience included the Pro Farmer Crop Tour, Farm Journal Field Days and the #FarmON Benefit Concert. A survey of participants found 70 percent considered the overall experience as very good or outstanding. Meanwhile, 85 percent plan to participate in another virtual event, and 77 percent took action to learn more about a company or product they engaged with in the event trade show. Virtual farm shows and events are the new normal for 2020, and potentially the future. Farm Journal CEO Andy Weber says farmers “conducted business exponentially more efficiently than ever before, and that’s a trend that’s here to stay.” The next major virtual farm show offering on the schedule is the 2020 Farm Progress Show, scheduled for September 15 – 17. The show combines Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days into one virtual event, including educational sessions, live insights from farmers, and unique product features.

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Restaurant Industry Promoting National Food Safety Month

The National Restaurant Association is promoting food safety training, celebrating Food Safety Month through September. As the country continues to battle COVID-19, ensuring that proper safety protocols are in place at restaurants has never been more important for guests, employees and brands. Through its ServSafe program, the association’s food safety and training certification program, the organization is boosting food safety training and risk management with an educational campaign this month. Organizers say the campaign will focus on best practices for a safe dining experience and is essential as the industry does all it can to keep its restaurants clean and sanitized, and employees educated about how they can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. National Food Safety Month will take place over a five-week period. Each week will focus on a single topic. Weekly topics include personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing, safe food preparation, food safety procedures and COVID-19 Safety Procedures.

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.