READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 24th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Groups Applaud CCC Agreement

The decision by House lawmakers to include Commodity Credit Corporation funding in the continuing resolution demonstrates their support for America’s farmers, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The stopgap measure provides nearly $8 billion for nutrition assistance programs, replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation, and stipulate some Congressional oversight of spending through CCC. Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “While we were disappointed it recently became a political flashpoint, we are pleased lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize that these funds help to sustain conservation programs and stock America’s pantry.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew stated, “We are relieved that the House has come to an agreement.” The agreement, passed by the House 359-57, keeps the federal government funded through December 11. Republicans and some House Democrats representing rural areas were critical of the original House proposal that didn’t include CCC funding. Democrats were seeking accountability in the program, referring to a White House proposal that would have used CCC funds for oil companies.

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Cattle Market Transparency Act Introduced

The Cattle Market Transparency Act introduced this week seeks to restore transparency and accountability in the cattle market. Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, introduced the bill. Fischer says, “The past few years have been very difficult for producers.” Fischer noted the Tyson Foods plant fire in Kansas, and supply chain challenges due to COVID-19. The bill would establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. It requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash trade, seek public comment on those levels, then implement. The legislation also requires USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers, and require packers to supply the information to USDA.  The bill also would mandate that a packer report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. This requirement already exists for the swine industry.

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Senate Hearing Focuses on Changes to the Endangered Species Act

A Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing Wednesday focused on efforts to modernize the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act Amendments Act of 2020 reauthorizes the ESA for the first time since 1992. Florida rancher Liesa Priddy says the legislation, “will be better for ranchers, better for states, better for the federal authorities, and better for the species.” Priddy testified on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council. The organizations support the legislation that they say empowers states to lead recovery efforts and gives stakeholders, like ranchers, who make significant investments in voluntary conservation a more meaningful seat at the table in recovery discussions. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, says state and local experts need to be leading efforts to protect local wildlife. His legislation will increase local input and improve transparency in the listing process. Barrasso says the bill also protects endangered species and helps communities invest in more conservation and recovery activities.

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Ethanol and Farm Groups Call on EPA to Reject Remaining Waivers

A coalition of farm and ethanol groups want the Environmental Protection Agency to take the “next step” in denying waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard. While the groups say EPA’s recent announcement that it has denied 54 petitions for “gap year” small refinery exemptions under the RFS was indeed a big step forward, “there is more work to be done to fully restore integrity to the RFS.” There are 50 exemption petitions still awaiting a decision, and EPA still has not released the 2021 RVO proposal. The Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Corn Growers Association and National Farmers Union worked together and won a unanimous federal court decision in January that they say should have put an end to EPA’s abuse of the refinery exemption program. There are 17 gap-year petitions remaining and 33 pending exemption requests for 2019 and 2020.  In a press conference Wednesday, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper stated, “EPA needs to reject those the second they come through the front door,” from the Department of Energy.

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Cross-Industry Collaboration Launches Million-Acre Grazing Initiative

The Walmart Foundation, Cargill and McDonald’s are investing more than $6 million in an initiative led by the World Wildlife Fund that aims to improve the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains. The new program, known as the Ranch Systems and Viability Planning, or RSVP network, will support ranchers across the ecoregion-focusing primarily on Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. The Network will provide technical expertise, training and tools to help advance grazing practices that improve the health of the land. By improving management of one million acres over five years and avoiding conversion, the effort will increase carbon storage and sequestration, improved water infiltration, and better biodiversity outcomes. Kathleen McLaughlin of the Walmart Foundation says, “Collaborative efforts like this can accelerate innovative, sustainable solutions and support ranchers in the beef supply chain.” The World Wildlife Fund will work with ranchers on private and tribal lands to provide extension services in one-on-one and group workshops, offer ongoing technical expertise and provide cost-share and monitoring to help ranchers design, document and implement ranch plans.

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General Mills to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

General Mills announced a pledge to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent across its full value chain – from farm to fork to landfill – over the next ten years. The company also committed to a long-term goal to achieve net-zero emission levels by 2050. The absolute greenhouse gas commitment was calculated using methodologies approved by the Science Based Target Initiative that model a level of emission reductions that science suggests is necessary to sustain the planet’s health. The framework focuses on advancing regenerative agriculture across the company’s sourcing footprint on one million acres by 2030. General Mills says up to one-third of greenhouse gases stem from the food system, and an estimated 80 percent of which comes from agriculture.  In 2019, General Mills committed to advancing regenerative agriculture on one million acres of farmland by 2030. The company defines regenerative agriculture as holistic, principles-based farming and ranching that seeks to strengthen ecosystems and community resilience.

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.