READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, Nov 16th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

KC Fed: Farm Financial Outlook is Improving

The Kansas City Fed said last week that the outlook for agricultural credit conditions in its Tenth District improved in the third quarter, due in part to rising commodity prices and additional government aid to producers. After dropping sharply in the second quarter due to COVID-19 disruptions, prices for most ag commodities began to rebound during the summer. The Fed report says increasing demand supported additional increases in crop prices through the third quarter and into October, expanding profit opportunities for many producers going into the harvest season. As a result, credit conditions deteriorated at a significantly slower pace. The number of bankers reporting declines in farm income and loan repayment rates dropped from the prior quarter. About 55 percent of ag bankers in the district reported lower incomes than a year ago, compared with 75 percent in the second quarter of 2020. Recent developments are leading to more optimistic expectations through the end of the year. Following years of steady growth, demand for farm loans appeared to decrease. About 25 percent of bankers reported that loan demand was lower than last year, the highest number since 2013. Loan repayment challenges are expected to ease across most types of farm operations in the district through the next three months.

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U.S. Looking for Trade Action Against Fresh Produce Imports

Fresh produce coming into the United States is getting increasing scrutiny from the Trump Administration. Imported strawberries are now on the list of imported items that the administration wants investigated for possibly harming U.S. fruit and vegetable growers. Strawberry imports, mainly from Mexico, represent about 16 percent of the U.S. market, valued at approximately $2.5 billion every year. Gro-Intelligence Dot Com says if the investigation proceeds, any potential trade action could result in higher strawberry prices in the U.S. market. Officials are also requesting a probe into the imports of fresh peppers, which is the second-largest vegetable import into America. U.S. imports of strawberries totaled 184 million tons last year, a fourfold jump since 2005. About 99 percent of the imports come from Mexico, where a weak peso has made exports much more competitive with domestic production. U.S. farmers, especially in the Southeastern states, say the low-priced imports are putting domestic growers at a significant disadvantage. A similar Section 201 investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission was recently requested for blueberry imports into the U.S.  

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Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, EPA Sign MOU

The dairy-checkoff funded Innovation Center announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Environmental Protection Agency. The center says the MOU will open doors for increased collaboration in areas of mutual interest and allow the agency to gain a deeper understanding and support for U.S. dairy farmers. It will also help the EPA understand the broader dairy community’s environmental sustainability efforts. The MOU formalizes a relationship that began in 2012 and officially announced during the fall meeting of the Dairy Sustainability Alliance. The MOU allows the EPA to participate as a member of the Alliance, which consists of more than 130 companies and organizations that collaborate on issues affecting the U.S. dairy industry. The Alliance also works to accelerate progress toward shared sustainability goals and contributes to the industry’s long-term viability. “The MOU is significant as it indicates a recognition of U.S. dairy’s leadership in environmental stewardship and brings greater support for creating a sustainable future that’s economically viable for U.S. dairy farmers and the dairy community,” says Barbara O’Brien, President of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “The MOU will explore mutually beneficial opportunities for dairy farms across the country to benefit from access to EPA resources.”

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Dairy Already Introducing Itself to New Leadership in Washington, D.C.

Although it’s not been officially confirmed yet that Joe Biden is the new President, U.S. dairy is already working behind the scenes to make sure the industry remains top-of-mind for new officials in D.C. For example, the National Milk Producers Federation has already congratulated Joe Biden and reminded him that bipartisan solutions are the best solutions. The NMPF points out that a widely accepted policy is less likely to be tossed out the moment a different political party takes power. Michael Torrey, a long-time expert on farm legislation, says advocating at the federal level for dairy farmers will be crucial with new lawmakers set to join Congress and possibly a new president heading to the White House. “There are going to be a lot of new faces, there’s going to be a new philosophy, and going to be new leadership,” Torrey said to members of the Edge Dairy Farmers Cooperative. Dairy Report Dot Com says the challenge of helping lawmakers understand the complexity of issues in the dairy industry is growing. He points to the defeat of Collin Peterson as a potential challenge because the long-time Minnesota congressman understands dairy policy more than most do on either side of the political divide.

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NCGA Submits Comments on Future Access to BT Technology

The National Corn Growers Association submitted formal comments to the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure future access and continued success with the use of Bt technology. In September, the EPA published a proposal to update insect resistance management strategies for pests like corn earworm and fall armyworm. The agency went through a similar process several years ago for corn rootworm. “The proposal offered what the EPA is calling ‘complex mitigation strategies’ that would directly impact corn growers nationwide, not only in the south,” says Chad Wetzel, chair of the NCGA Production Technology Access Action Team. “EPA proposed phasing out certain Bt pyramids nationwide.” He says the NCGA doesn’t support that for multiple reasons, noting it would seriously limit grower seed selection and drastically increase the use of a select few Bt products, which would increase the risk of resistance development for those traits. The EPA also proposed an increase from five to ten percent for refuge in a bag product used across the Corn Belt. NCGA says it doesn’t support the idea because EPA didn’t provide any data or details on how this would impact resistance management.

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First Hemp Organization Officially Recognized by USDA Foreign Ag Service

The National Industrial Hemp Council announced it received $200,000 in funds from the USDA’s Market Access Program. Those funds will support export market development for industrial hemp. “We are grateful for the USDA confidence and the recognition of NIHC as the industry leader in industrial hemp trade and marketing,” says Kevin Latner, Senior Vice President for Trade and Marketing. “Today’s announcement makes NIHC a trusted partner to USDA for hemp fiber, feed, food, and CBD companies looking to break down trade barriers in markets overseas.” Latner is the one responsible for implementing the market development program. NIHC programs will focus on Europe and China and include market research, trade policy, and trade facilitation. The global industrial hemp and products market was worth $11.1 billion in retail sales in 2019. With an annual growth rate of 52 percent, driven by continued strength in textiles, food and industrial uses, and hemp-derived CBD, the global market is forecast to be worth $89 billion by 2025.

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.