READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, October 2nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senate Approves Continuing Resolution: CR Bill Goes to Trump

Late Wednesday, the Senate approved the continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11 just hours before the end of the fiscal year. The Hagstrom Report says the bill now goes to President Trump for his signature. Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts, other lawmakers, along with farm and nutrition groups, noted the importance of provisions that allow farm subsidies to continue to flow and hungry Americans to get food. The CR passed by a margin of 84 to 10. “In these wildly uncertain times, farmers, ranchers, and growers are counting on us to get this right,” Roberts says. “I hope farm country can rest a little easier tonight knowing that funds for the Commodity Credit Corporation will be replenished to continue farm bill programs and assist producers who are impacted by COVID-19.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says the passage is an “immense relief” to farmers, who depend on federally funded programs to access loans, technical support, as well as critical market and climate data. National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross adds that farmers have been working with Congress for years to develop and implement effective risk management tools that ensure a stable feed, fuel, and food supply, even during the tough times that many farmers face today.”

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Minnesota Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Meatpackers

The U.S. District Court in Minnesota dismissed an anti-trust lawsuit against meatpackers like Tyson Foods, JBS, the National Beef Packing Company, and Cargill. R-CALF led several plaintiffs in filing the lawsuit. Chief Judge John Tunheim did leave open the opportunity for plaintiffs to amend their complaint. Tyson Foods says, “We’re pleased with the court’s decision.” In the ruling, the judge says the complaint didn’t give much evidence of how meatpackers conspired to manipulate prices for fed cattle; instead, “it resorted to group pleading, arguing that the market did this or that.” In his written opinion, Tunheim says, “The most specific allegations related to 2015 when JBS dropped its annual slaughter volume by 17 percent, National Beef by six percent, and Tyson by four percent. Plaintiffs then say little about the defendants in the years that follow when slaughter volumes actually increased.  As for other allegations like a reduction in the number of cash cattle purchased, the judge says plaintiffs rely almost exclusively on industry-wide data and ask the court to infer that the individual defendants all contributed to the decrease simply because they make up a majority of the industry. The Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, the United Stockgrowers of America, and the Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America filed the lawsuit in April of 2019.

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New Soy-Based Product Protects U.S. Roads

A new soy-based concrete sealant is protecting roadways in the U.S. while also supporting demand for soybeans and reducing maintenance costs for infrastructure. The United Soybean Board partnered with the Indiana Soybean Alliance on research and market development efforts for soy-based solutions in infrastructure for decades. They’re proud to announce that select Indiana counties have the opportunity to use a new soy-based sealant called PoreShield on their bridges. The brand-new product is made possible by farmers’ checkoff investments. PoreShield is being used on 77 bridge decks totaling 330,000 square feet in Indiana this year, with aims to expand the use in the future. The good news for farmers is, as PoreShield continues to be adopted as a solution, demand for soybeans grows too. On average, PoreShield uses 200 bushels of soybeans per mile of two-lane bridge treatment. That’s equivalent to 7.5 acres of soybeans for each mile demanded by this market. “As a renewable alternative, using U.S.-grown soybean oil as a concrete-durability enhancer is among one of 1,000 soy-based products currently on the market,” says John Jansen, USB Vice President of Oil Strategy. “It unlocks yet another use that drives demand for our soybeans, and with PoreShield, there’s enormous potential for roads and bridges that need these critical enhancements.”

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NACD President Stresses Importance of Conservation Programs During Testimony

Tim Palmer, President of the National Association of Conservation Districts, testified before the House Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry about 2020 conservation programs. He detailed the successes and challenges of the programs brought on by COVID-19. Palmer, who farms in Iowa, says it’s vital that the Committee understands how important Conservation Technical Assistance is to the successful implementation of conservation planning and farm bill conservation programs. During his testimony, he highlighted the impact of state and local budget cuts caused by COVID-19 on conservation districts. He also described the success of NACD’s Technical Assistance Grants Program, funded in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in helping to boost technical capacity in conservation districts across the country. Palmer emphasized the role conservation districts play in coordinating locally-led conservation delivery with NRCS, and that the agency needs greater federal hiring authority to address their staff shortages. “Budget shortfalls or associated budget cuts often trickle down, causing conservation districts to furlough staff members who are often responsible for customer service,” Palmer added.

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Legislation Brings Needed Reform to Conservation Compliance

Legislation recently introduced in the Senate would bring much-needed reform to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Compliance Program. The NRCS Wetland Compliance and Appeals Reform Act was introduced by South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds. It would require the NRCS to provide more evidence in determining wetlands and give farmers more rights in the appeals process. The American Farm Bureau has documented situations in which farmers have been hurt by repeated, unjustified, and costly decisions by the NRCS. These issues must be addressed. The Farm Bureau has advocated for clear rules and safeguards to ensure the fair treatment of farmers in conservation compliance. When USDA released the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Final Rule, it was clear the issues haven’t been remedied. “The plain truth is that farmers have been unfairly treated by NRCS when they’re trying to be good stewards of the land,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “AFBF stood up for them by pressing for changes to conservation compliance programs, and we applaud Senator Rounds for introducing the Act. It would institute needed reforms, and although it’s sweeping in nature in its current form, it takes important steps toward creating a fair and understandable process for American Farmers.”

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FFA Introduces “Agricultural Education for All”

The National FFA organization announced its new Agricultural Education for All roadmap. The plan outlines the strategies the organization is taking to support inclusion, diversity, and equity. The FFA wants to ensure that the organization is a bully-free zone that reflects society’s demographics in membership, leadership, and staff, and celebrates individuality. “FFA is building the next generation of leaders – and the world needs leaders with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and identities,” says FFA CEO Mark Poeschl (PESH-uhl). “Through agricultural education and FFA, students can take these experiences and apply them in their communities.” Some examples of the steps FFA will take include creating a dedicated inclusion, diversity, and equity staff position at National FFA. They’ll also relaunch the H.O. Sargent Award to recognize individuals who have achieved success in promoting inclusion, diversity, and equity in agricultural education and the FFA. They’ll also develop an Agricultural Education for All immersion curriculum and an online platform to build empathy, respect, and inclusion for others, as well as training educators to be Agricultural Education for All facilitators. Dr. Roger Cleveland, director of the Center for Research on the Eradication of Educational Disparities, has been working closely with FFA to develop the roadmap.

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.