READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Fri, Nov 20th

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FSA Reverses Rule on Family Eligibility for Farm Subsidies

The Farm Service Agency restored the previous definitions of terms like “active personal management, significant contribution, and related phrasing” in a rule regarding farm program subsidy eligibility and payment limitations. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce says the change is more of a “correction.” He says, “These revisions mean that members of a family farm operation are not subject to the more stringent management requirements applicable to farming operations comprised of non-family members established in the 2014 Farm Bill and further supported by the 2018 Farm Bill.” USDA also says that the more restrictive definitions only apply to farming operations comprised of non-family members that are subject to a limit in the number of farm managers seeking to qualify as actively engaged in farming based on a contribution of active personal management alone, as it was established in the 2018 Farm Bill. During an interview, Fordyce says, “It wasn’t our intention to bring family farm entities under the more restrictive provisions. It wasn’t Congress’ intent for us to do that.” The Hagstrom Report says the correction to the rule will be published right away in the Federal Register and goes into effect immediately.

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NCBA Pleased with National Environmental Policy Act Changes

The U.S. Forest Service updated the agency’s National Environmental Policy Act regulations, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council are pleased with the changes. Kaitlynn Glover is the NCBA Director of Natural Resources and Executive Director of the Public Lands Council. She says the announcement is the product of decades of work by livestock producers who have told the Forest Service and other federal agencies for years that NEPA regulations needed serious improvement. “This rule formalizes changes that will allow the U.S. Forest Service to be better partners to ranchers and stakeholders who depend on healthy forests and grasslands,” Glover says. “These are common-sense changes that add clarity by streamlining NEPA processes and ensuring that agencies are not spending time on unnecessarily duplicative NEPA reviews.” Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “these changes will ensure we do the appropriate level of environmental analysis to fit the work, locations, and conditions.” Perdue notes that the new categorical exclusions will ultimately improve our ability to maintain and repair the infrastructure people depend on to use and enjoy their national forests.”

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Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Lowest in Ten Years

Thanksgiving is going to be different this year because of COVID-19. There is one tradition that continues this year, and it’s the American Farm Bureau’s annual survey on the cost of a classic Thanksgiving dinner. The 35th Farm Bureau survey says the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving meal for 10 is $46.90, which breaks down to less than $5 per person. It’s a $2 decrease from last year’s average cost of $48.91. “The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest it’s been since 2010,” says Farm Bureau Chief Economist John Newton. “Pricing whole turkeys as ‘loss-leaders’ to entice shoppers and move product is a strategy we’re seeing retailers use that’s increasingly common the closer we get to the holiday.” The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables is the turkey, which costs less than last year. A 16-pound bird will cost $19.39, about $1.21 per pound, and is seven percent lower-priced than in 2019. Besides turkey, other foods that showed price declines include whipping cream and sweet potatoes. Foods with modest cost increases include dinner rolls, cubed bread stuffing, and pumpkin pie mix.

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Lawsuit Alleges Tyson Foods Managers Bet on Health of Workers

Details are coming out about a wrongful death lawsuit against Tyson Foods and its Waterloo, Iowa, processing plant. The suit alleges that during the initial stages of COVID-19, the company ordered employees to report to work, while supervisors privately wagered money on the number of workers who would be sickened by the virus. The Iowa Capital Dispatch says the lawsuit alleges that Tyson Foods is guilty of a “willful and wanton disregard for workplace safety.” In a written statement this week, Tyson says it was “saddened by the loss of any Tyson team member and sympathize with their families.” The company won’t comment on specific aspects of the suit but did say it’s “top priority is the health and safety of its workers, and they’ve implemented a host of protective measures at Waterloo and other facilities that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidelines for preventing COVID-19.” At least five Waterloo plant employees have died from COVID. According to the local county health department, over 1,000 workers at the plant, or more than a third of the total workforce, contracted the virus.

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Growth Energy Outlines 2021 Policy Priorities

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor outlined the biofuels industry’s top federal priorities for 2021, highlighting key measures that elected leaders must take to protect the climate and revitalize rural communities. Some of their other key priorities will offer more consumers access to clean, affordable options to fuel their cars. “Biofuels, including plant-based ethanol, are critical tools for decarbonizing America’s existing transportation fleet and supporting our nation’s farmers and rural communities,” she says. “Solvable challenges in this area await leaders in Congress and the next administration.” While officials are looking at climate solutions, she says biofuels will be a key to meeting the nation’s goals for the transportation sector, which is America’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Their priorities include restoring the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard, including expanded infrastructure for higher biofuel blends. Growth Energy also wants to see expanded roles for biofuels in a clean energy future both at home and abroad. They’re very interested in seeing trade barriers broken down in low-carbon ethanol markets like Brazil, Mexico, and China, as well as in leveraging the benefits of biofuels in the Paris Climate Accord.

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Brexit Talks Suspended After COVID Diagnosis

Brexit negotiations are suspended after a member of the European Union’s negotiating team tested positive for COVID-19. However, Reuters says officials are still working remotely to get an EU-United Kingdom trade deal on the books that would enter into full force in less than two months. Finland’s European affairs minister says the talks could still succeed, and a comprehensive deal can be done by the time Britain’s transition out of the EU wraps up on December 31. Negotiators told Reuters in a phone interview that the negotiating stage is “critical.” They say the time pressure is huge, but both sides haven’t given up their faith that the deal will get done. The chief Brexit negotiators are the EU’s Michael Barnier and the UK’s David Frost. Barnier says on Twitter that the teams “will continue their work in full respect of safety guidelines.” Some of the EU member-states like the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Spain have asked the executive European Commission, which is negotiating with Britain on behalf of the bloc, to update emergency plans for a possible no-deal on Brexit. France’s representative on the Commission says Britain must accept fair competition rules for companies or be shut out of the EU’s single market of 450 million consumers in 2021.

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.