READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, November 2nd…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Commodity Classic Goes Virtual in 2021

The next Commodity Classic will now be a virtual event. The annual conference and trade show had been scheduled to take place March 4-6, in San Antonio, Texas. The change to an alternative digital format became necessary because of restrictions related to COVID-19. The new convention format will take place during the first week of March 2021. “This is about doing the right thing for our farmers, exhibitors, stakeholders, and the broader community in terms of health and safety, which is our top priority,” says Anthony Bush of the National Corn Growers Association and who is Co-Chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic. “After careful deliberation, we determined the COVID-19 restrictions would prevent us from delivering the type of high-quality experience people have come to expect from the Commodity Classic.” Commodity Classic is now redirecting its efforts toward developing alternative methods of connecting with farmers and agricultural stakeholders. “We realize the total experience can’t be completely replicated online,” Bush adds. “Education is a key component of the event, and we are already looking at ways to deliver the high-quality content farmers expect at the Commodity Classic.” The transition to an online event is already underway and more information will be available in the weeks ahead. The 2022 Commodity Classic will be March 10-12, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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USDA Releases 2019 Pesticide Data Report

The USDA published it’s 2019 Pesticide Data Program’s Annual Summary. The report shows that nearly 99 percent of the tested samples had pesticide residues below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency. The two agencies work together every year to identify which foods get tested on a rotating basis. The Agricultural Marketing Service works with state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide residue levels of selected foods. In 2019, the agencies tested 9,697 samples of fresh and processed foods, including fruits and vegetables, as well as rice and oats. USDA has tested a variety of commodities for more than 25 years, which included tests on fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, grains, fish, rice, specialty products, and water. USDA tests a wide variety of domestic as well as imported foods, with a strong focus on food consumed by infants and children. The EPA relies on the Pesticide Data Program findings to conduct dietary risk assessments and to ensure that any pesticide residues in foods remain at levels that EPA has determined to be safe. USDA uses the data to help American farmers improve agricultural practices and to implement the Department’s Integrated Pest Management Program. The Food and Drug Administration and EPA are notified immediately of any test showing residue levels that could pose a public safety risk.

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Scientists want Tax on Meat, Livestock for Pandemic Prevention

Lawmakers should consider putting taxes on livestock production and meat consumption to reduce the risk of future deadly pandemics. Reuters says that is the conclusion of a group of international experts called the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which has more than 130 member states. The group published a study last week calling for better protection of nature. “Overconsumption of meat is bad for our health and unsustainable in terms of the environmental impact,” says zoologist Peter Daszak, who chaired the study. “it’s also a driver of pandemic risk.” The group says outbreaks of influenza viruses and new pandemic strains have emerged for the most part because of the incredibly dense production of poultry and pigs in some parts of the world, driven by our global consumption patterns. “Breeding cattle for beef is another well-known cause of deforestation and ecosystem destruction in Latin America,” Daszak added. The study warns that pandemics will emerge more often, spread faster, cost more, and kill more people than COVID-19 without bold action to halt the habitat destruction that helps viruses hop from wildlife to humans. The group is also asking governments to step up efforts to avert pandemics instead of responding after they hit.

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USDA Suspension of Farm Labor Survey Overturned by Court

Farmworker advocates are pleased the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the USDA decision to suspend the annual Farm Labor Survey. The Packer says unless the decision gets appealed, it means USDA has to conduct its Farm Labor Survey and issue its annual Farm Labor Report in November. The survey determines the adverse effect wage rate for the Department of Labor’s H-2A guest agricultural worker program. The United Farm Workers and plaintiffs sued the USDA for its decision to suspend the survey. The UFW said that in the absence of the survey results, wages for guest workers would decline sharply because the Department of Labor would not have data to establish new wage rates other than state minimum wages. Michael Marsh, President of the National Council for Agricultural Employers, says he doesn’t know if the USDA will appeal the decision, noting that, “They could ask for a stay of the lower court’s order, pending an appeal.” He says another relevant development is a Department of Labor proposal to create a new method to determine H-2A wages, which is in the final review stage.

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Dairy Industry Annual Meeting Notes Success Despite COVID-19

During a virtual annual meeting of dairy industry groups, Dairy Management Incorporated reflected on strategically adjusting business plans due to the impacts of COVID-19. They told farmers and industry representatives that this year’s results are due to industry unity, agility, and relentless relationship building. “The systems farmers have put in place work, and in normal times, we celebrate those successes,” says Barbara O’Brien, President of DMI. “What the last seven months have proven is that it also works in difficult times, frankly times we couldn’t have imagined.” The virtual meeting included representatives from the United Dairy Industry Association, National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, and the National Milk Producers Federation. DMI CEO Tom Gallagher says one of the highlights of the USDA per capita report shows consumption reached 653 pounds per person in 2019, a 60-year high for dairy. “This comes as a shock to a lot of people who say dairy is dead,” Gallagher says. “They think about the decline in fluid milk, but they don’t think about all of the other areas that have grown exponentially.” Gallagher credits these successes to farmers who took leadership in creating the dairy promotion program through a Congressional act in 1983. Per capita growth since that year has increased by 80 pounds.  

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Historic National FFA Convention and Expo Wraps Up for 2020

The 93rd National FFA Convention and Expo may have been virtual this year, but numbers indicate that many members across the country enjoyed the event. The number of viewers and participants totaled well over 217,000 people. Due to COVID-19, National FFA made the decision back in late June to host the largest student event virtually this year instead of in-person. The event kicked off Tuesday of last week, and students had the opportunity to attend events on a virtual platform. Convention attendees had a chance to view the live general sessions on RFD-TV, The Cowboy Channel, and streaming on FFA.org., where they saw peers from across the country receiving recognition for their hard work and heard from this year’s national FFA officer team. “The virtual national FFA convention and expo was a great success,” says Mandy Hazlett, associate director of convention and events for National FFA.  “While it might be different this year, we are thrilled to have offered experiences similar to what our members would have enjoyed during an in-person event.” She has good news for those who registered and didn’t get to see everything they wanted. Students will still have all access to all this great content and videos through the end of the year. “That means if they didn’t get it all covered in three days, they have time to go back,” Hazlett adds.

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.