READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, October 5th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

House Passes Amended Heroes Act

The House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package that Democrats say is an update to the previous $3.4 billion bill that passed in May. The vote was 214 to 207, with 18 Democrats joining all the Republicans who voted against it. The legislation includes aid to ethanol plants, livestock producers who had to euthanize animals because of no slaughterhouse capacity, as well as a 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. The package incorporates many provisions that the National Farmers Union members requested during the recent virtual fly-in, including support for local and regional meat processing, farm-stress programs, as well as the nutrition assistance. NFU President Rob Larew is urging the Senate to quickly move forward with the final passage. “Throughout the pandemic, Congress and the USDA have worked to provide family farmers and ranchers with the help they need,” Larew says. “These efforts have gone a long way toward keeping farmers afloat during market uncertainty and supply chain disruptions.” However, the NFU points out that the strength of the ag economy depends on the strength of the overall economy and the wellbeing of Americans, so they’re pushing for another economic stimulus package. “The time is now for the Senate and White House to agree on a stimulus package,” Larew adds.

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PRICE Act Would Make Changes to Cattle Markets

South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson introduced the Price Reform in Cattle Economics Act. The House Ag Committee member says the bill would increase transparency in the cattle market, as well as improve risk management for producers and support new and existing meat processors. The Hagstrom Report says he wrote the bill as a response to recent extreme cases of market volatility after the Tyson Plant fire in Holcomb, Kansas, in 2019, as well as during COVID-19. Johnson says cattle country is hurting and hasn’t fully recovered from the recent challenges. “USDA has laid out multiple areas where Congress could implement real solutions to improve the market,” he says. “The PRICE Act is the answer to many of the years-long challenges producers have battled.” He says cattle producers want a fair market and fair prices. “Congress needs to step up for cattle country,” Johnson adds, “which is what the bill will do.” The PRICE Act is supported by groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

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Animal Group says Pork Sellers are Failing to End Sow Confinement

World Animal Protection, a global animal welfare non-profit group, released its first “Quit Stalling Report.” It finds that companies from quick-serve restaurants to hotel conglomerates are mostly failing to meet their commitments to end sow confinement. From 2012 to 2015, many companies that sell pork set goals to end the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs and provide only gestation-crate-free pork. Many companies, including Campbell’s, Kraft, and Heinz, typically set target dates to implement the change. However, the group estimates that three out of four sows continue to spend most of their lives confined to gestation crates, with little space to move and even less to turn around. World Animal Protection says the deadlines many of the companies set have long-since passed, with little attention paid to the missed dates. Of the 56 companies included in the Quit Stalling Report, World Animal Protection says it’s especially concerned that almost 30 percent of companies no longer maintain the language in their published animal welfare policies or responsibility reports affirming their commitment to crate-free pork. Just 29 percent of the companies are publicly reporting that they are making progress towards or have achieved full implementation of those animal welfare commitments.

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Soy Growers Ask Ag Leaders to Urge FCC to Keep GPS Working

GPS was a recent topic of conversation with House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson and Ag Committee member Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania. The discussion centered around the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to allow Ligado Networks to operate a terrestrial wireless network and how it will threaten the reliability of GPS receivers vital to precision agriculture. Because producers rely so heavily on precision technology, the prospect of GPS units potentially not working is critical to every single farmer that uses precision technology. “Our organization has been advocating for soybean farmers for 100 years,” says Jim Kukowski, the American Soybean Association’s Conservation and Precision Agriculture Committee Chair. “The arrival of GPS to farms has been the biggest technical advancement the industry has ever seen. The fact that the FCC would threaten our farmers with such a misguided decision is incomprehensible.” ASA joined leading ag organizations to support the Keep GPS Working Coalition. The Ligado website says the company’s applications will “protect GPS, enable the expedited deployment of 5G networks, serve America’s critical industries, and will improve the lives of consumers in rural and urban areas around the country.”

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Livestock Producers Applaud Legislation to Protect Against Predators

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council were pleased to see the House pass legislation designed to protect livestock from protected predators. It would compensate livestock producers who experience depredation by federally protected species and fund methods to reduce conflicts between humans and predators. In the Senate, Environment and Public Works Chair John Barrasso of Wyoming introduced the American Conservation Enhancement Act. One provision would provide depredation payments for livestock producers who experience animal losses caused by federally protected species, while also allowing producers to use non-lethal deterrence activities to help protect their animals. States previously funded these activities despite the federal level of protection for animals causing the predation. PLC and the NCBA have worked with Congress and federal agencies to provide relief to states through improved regulations and compensation programs. “Livestock producers and states face significant burdens when the federal government implements protections for species without any support for the economic and natural resource impacts their decisions can have,” says PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “This relief comes at a time when producers are contending with serious losses due to multiple events.”

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Advancing and Driving Demand for Biofuels Through Research

The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center is expanding its capabilities and offerings with one goal in mind; to create opportunities for America’s corn farmers. The National Corn Growers Association has worked with NCERC to help underscore the advantages of renewable corn ethanol. “At NCERC, ethanol will always be a foundation of our work,” says Executive Director John Caupert. “Just like when you’re building a home, a foundation is something to build on. As policy, technology, and industry have evolved, we are evolving along with it.” Now more than ever, new uses and market opportunities are needed for America’s corn farmers. One of the more exciting bioprocess developments is in the area of biopolymers. The commercial application of biopolymers is endless. From liners in cardboard boxes to liners in baby diapers, and everything in between, someday very soon, America will be able to utilize corn-based biopolymers. NCERC partners with multiple companies on dozens of renewable compounds, including biofuels, biochemicals, biomaterials, and bioproducts. The National Corn Growers Association says as the industry looks to the future and how to continue to drive corn demand, they’ll look at partners like NCERC to help farmers chip away at their corn surplus.

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.