READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, October9 th

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USDA Announces Biofuels Investment to Increase Sales

The Department of Agriculture touted biofuels investments in Iowa Thursday. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced USDA has invested $22 million out of the up to $100 million in grants available to increase U.S. ethanol and biodiesel sales. The funds were made available through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to recipients in 14 states. The program helps transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to installing fuel pumps, equipment and infrastructure. The initial $22 million in investments are projected to increase ethanol demand by nearly 150 million gallons annually. USDA plans on announcing the remaining investments in the coming weeks. On the same day, Rural America 2020 flew a plane carrying a banner over select Iowa cities. the banner read, “Trump Sold Out Ethanol for Big Oil.” The group cites Trump administration waivers to oil companies to avoid ethanol requirements that have depressed ethanol demand.

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Trump Administration Invests $72 Million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Wednesday announced $72 million in grants to help rural residents access health care and educational opportunities. The Department of Agriculture says the investments will benefit more than 12 million rural residents. Perdue stated, “Increasing access to telemedicine and distance learning is critical to building healthier and more resilient rural communities.” USDA is funding 116 projects through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. The program helps health care and education institutions buy the equipment and software necessary to deploy distance-learning and telemedicine services. Perdue announced investments in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. One of the noted projects in Texas, the Epic Charter School is receiving a $969,000 grant to link urban schools in Oklahoma and Texas with rural schools, students and community partners in both states. In Kentucky, the Bluegrass Care Navigators will use a $500,000 grant to establish a regional telemedicine network with a hub site at its headquarters in Lexington.

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Red Meat Muscle Cut Exports Strong in August

August exports of U.S. beef and pork muscle cuts were above last year’s strong volumes, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Variety meat exports were lower than a year ago, due in part to the lack of available labor required to harvest and export some items. Beef muscle cut exports were the largest in more than a year at 89,100 metric tons, up 3.5 percent, while export value increased slightly from a year ago to $611 million. August muscle cut exports also set new records in China and Indonesia and beef exports to Canada continued to gain momentum. Combined pork and pork variety meat exports were down two percent in volume and ten percent lower in value at $528 million. However, U.S. pork exports remain on a record pace in 2020. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom calls the trend in muscle cuts “very encouraging and especially critical” as production continues to rebound from the interruptions earlier in the year.

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DMC Enrollment Begins Tuesday

Enrollment for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program opens Tuesday. The Department of Agriculture announced the enrollment period this week, set for Tuesday, October 13, through December 11, 2020. The Dairy Margin Coverage Program, known as DMC, is a voluntary risk management program that offers dairy producers protection when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price, the margin, falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. DMC payments triggered for seven months in 2019 and three months so far in 2020. More than 23,000 operations enrolled in DMC in 2019, and more than 13,000 in 2020. To determine the appropriate coverage level for a specific dairy operation, producers can utilize the recently updated online dairy decision tool. The decision tool is designed to help producers calculate total premium costs and administrative fees associated with participation in DMC. For more information and to access the decision tool, visit farmers.gov.

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Six More Indicted on Antitrust Charges in Broiler Chicken Investigation

Six additional defendants were indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products. The indictment also charges one defendant with making false statements and obstruction of justice. A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado, returned the superseding indictment this week. A Justice Department official says. “Executives who choose collusion over competition will be held to account for schemes that cheat consumers and corrupt our competitive markets.” The three-count superseding indictment charges ten executives and employees at major broiler chicken producers for their participation in the conspiracy from 2012 through early 2019. The six additional defendants include William Lovette, former President and CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride. Others are also from Pilgrim’s Pride, Claxton Poultry Farms, and Perdue Farms. This case is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price-fixing, bid-rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry.

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Wisconsin Mink Test Positive for Coronavirus

Dead mink on a Wisconsin mink farm have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the infection Thursday, the first among Wisconsin’s mink population. All animals are now quarantined on the farm, meaning no animals or animal products may leave the premise. The response includes appropriate carcass disposal, cleaning and disinfecting the animal areas, and protecting human and animal health. Wisconsin is the second state with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 at a mink farm. Utah confirmed its first cases on August 17. There is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 to humans. However, people infected with the virus can spread it to mink and other animals. People suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are encouraged to avoid contact with pets and other animals while they are completing their home isolation to protect the animals from infection.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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.