READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, Nov 17th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farmers Bracing for More Scrutiny Under Biden?

Bloomberg says American agriculture is likely bracing for more scrutiny of its practices under a Joe Biden administration. While the race isn’t officially over yet, ag would potentially see more regulation of everything from environmental protections to workplace safety, a stark contrast from the anti-regulatory administration of Donald Trump. The key question will be how much pressure ag will face as Democrats are divided on how hard they might move forward on a more progressive agenda. One thing for sure is there will be a greater emphasis on food assistance for needy families under Biden. The first suggestion of where a new administration would fall on the regulatory spectrum is who they appoint to different positions. Both farmers and environmentalists will be looking closely for details on how Biden would carry out a campaign pledge to make American agriculture the first in the world to reach net-zero with emissions. Even as the Trump administration refuses to concede the race, the Biden team is moving ahead on cabinet choices, with the picks likely to come in the middle of December. Former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has been advising the Biden campaign on rural issues.

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China-Led Trade Pact is Signed

The ink is officially dry on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, signed by China and 14 other nations over the weekend. The New York Times says the signing ceremony came about after eight years of talks leading up to one of the world’s largest regional free-trade agreements. While the pact is somewhat limited in scope, it still covers approximately 2.2 billion people. That’s larger than any previous regional free trade agreement and likely helps improve China’s image as the dominant economic power in Southeast Asia. It also comes about after a U.S. withdrawal from sweeping trade deals that appear to be reshaping global relationships. As other countries continue to sign trade deals, some trade experts say American importers may lose ground. “While the U.S. is currently focusing on domestic issues, including COVID-19 and rebuilding its economy, I’m not sure the rest of the world is going to wait until America gets its house in order,” says Jennifer Hillman, a senior fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations. “I think there are going to have to be some responsive actions to what China is doing.”

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Reigning in the Land Grab Law

Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt issued a recent secretarial order on the Land and Waters Conservation Fund. The Order prioritizes input from local governments and leaders, which will help stop unchecked land grabs by the federal government. It requires written support from local governments for any land or water acquisition. “The LWCF was created to be a discrete tool to strengthen recreational opportunities for local communities and improve public lands management,” says Kaitlynn Glover, NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and the PLC Executive Director. “States and local stakeholders know best what their communities need and should be directly involved in those decisions.” She says ranchers appreciate the secretary’s work to make certain LWCF cannot be used as a tool for rampant, unchecked acquisitions that would compromise the health of Western landscapes and federal agencies’ ability to manage the lands and waters already under their jurisdiction. The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law back in August. It gave federal agencies free rein to spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year of LWCF funding for the sole purpose of acquiring new private land without any oversight from Congress.

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USDA Says Farm Production Expenses Will Drop

The USDA says farm sector production expenses, including those associated with operator dwellings, are forecast to decrease by $4.6 billion to $344.2 billion in 2020 in nominal terms, which means not adjusted for inflation. That’s a 1.3 percent drop from the previous year. These expenses represent the costs of all inputs used to produce farm commodities and strongly affect farm profitability. Although the overall production expenses are projected to drop, there are differences between the specific expenses. Specific expenses forecast to increase in 2020 account for approximately 69 percent of the total and are projected to collectively rise by $6 billion relative to 2019 before inflation adjustment. These include the two largest categories; feed purchases and cash labor. In contrast, expenses expected to decrease account for 31 percent of total expenses and are forecast to collectively decline by $10.6 billion between 2019 and 2020. More specifically, livestock and poultry purchases are expected to drop 7.5 percent, pesticides by 2.1 percent, and oil and fuel spending by 13.9 percent. Interest-rate costs are forecast to be at their lowest level since 2014, dropping by 27 percent from 2019 as a result of historically low interest rates.

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Newman Re-Elected as NPB President

David Newman, a pork producer from Arkansas, was elected to serve a second term as president of the National Pork Board at the organization’s November meeting. The NPB’s 15 producer-directors represent America’s 60,000 pig farmers who pay into the Pork Checkoff, a program that funds research, promotion, and education efforts that benefit the industry. “Like everyone, U.S. pig farmers have faced significant challenges this year,” Newman says. “Supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the real threat of African Swine Fever have made this one of the most difficult years to be a pig farmer. But it also shows us how resilient and agile our industry and the Pork Checkoff are in the face of adversity.” Despite the numerous challenges that the pork industry has faced in recent months, Newman says he’s optimistic about the opportunities ahead. “I’m excited to be able to lead the Pork Checkoff for a second term as we implement key learnings from the past year, continue to build on retail sales growth for pork seen during the pandemic, and show consumers the value of the pork industry from farm to fork through our Real Pork master brand,” says Newman. He operates a farrow-to-finish operation in Arkansas that markets pork directly to consumers and foodservice operations.

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U.S. Water Use Dropping for Most Crops and Livestock Production

The University of Illinois says climate change and a growing world population require efficient use of natural resources. The College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences says water management strategies need to support worldwide changes in food consumption and dietary patterns. Agricultural production and food manufacturing account for a third of U.S. water usage, which fluctuates with weather patterns, but is also affected by shifts in production technology, supply-chain linkages, and domestic and foreign consumer demand. A comprehensive University of Illinois study looked at water withdrawals in U.S. agriculture and food production from 1995 to 2021. The main trend they saw was a decline in water use, driven by a combination of factors. The authors of the study say the industry’s use of water for irrigation decreased by 8.3 percent over that period. One trend they noted is greater demand for white meat than red meat at the nation’s grocery stores. Chicken production requires 3.5 times less water-per-pound than beef production, which means a change in demand helped livestock reduce its water use by 14 percent.

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.