READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tue, Nov 24th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farmers Earn 12 Cents of Thanksgiving Food Dollar

For every dollar Americans spend on Thanksgiving dinner this year, farmers and ranchers will earn about 11.9 cents. The National Farmers Union says that marks a slight drop from 2019 when farmers claimed 12.5 cents of the Thanksgiving food dollar. Though farmers’ smaller share of food expenditures could be blamed on dropping commodity prices in previous years, it’s not the case in 2020. After bottoming out during the pandemic, prices for many ag products have mostly recovered. NFU says the shift can be attributed to higher grocery bills. In the last 12 months, the food prices have risen almost four percent, far ahead of the 1.4 percent rate of overall inflation. The higher food prices are coming at a bad time for American families, who are experiencing higher unemployment rates and food insecurity from COVID-19. Even though consumers are paying four percent more for their food, almost none of the increasing dollars are being passed on to farmers and ranchers. Instead, the NFU says it’s being captured by the processors, packers, distributors, and retailers in between the farm and the table. For example, beef prices are 10 percent higher than last year, but ranchers are getting essentially the same amount for their animals that they did a year ago.

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Court Upholds Hog Verdict While Smithfield Settles Other Cases

A federal appeals court upheld a 2018 jury verdict that led to monetary damages for the neighbors of a North Carolina hog operation because of smells and noise. The plaintiffs said that made their living close to the hog operation unbearable. However, judges ruled that the jurors’ multimillion-dollar punitive damage awards were unfairly weighed against its corporate assets and must get reconsidered. The decision from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia came just hours before Smithfield Foods announced it put an end to this and other nuisance cases filed by other North Carolina residents. Those cases either were already on appeal by the company or hadn’t yet gone to trial. “We resolved these cases through a settlement that will take into account the divided decision of the court,” says Keira Lombardo, Chief Administrative Officer at Smithfield Foods. The company wouldn’t share the financial terms of the settlements. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs and those in other cases neither confirmed nor mentioned a settlement in the case as of late Thursday. The Houston Chronicle says a statement from the lawyers involved in the appeal praised the court’s decision to affirm the verdict.

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Ethanol Recovery Threatened by Rising COVID-19 Restrictions

U.S. ethanol production has been a big source of demand for domestic corn. However, COVID-19 sharply curbed global fuel consumption. In recent weeks, Reuters says output has chipped away at its deficit versus prior years. However, the resurgence of COVID and increasing restrictions, especially just before the holiday season, threaten to halt a comeback in fuel demand before it can ramp up. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says fuel ethanol output for the week ending on November 13 totaled 962,000 barrels a day, down 1.5 percent from the previous week, which had the highest production level since the week ending on March 20. The last three weeks have been the most productive for American ethanol makers since March. The EIA says seasonal trends are part of the reason why the output is rising. However, when compared with previous years’ production levels, it shows that output is rising out of its COVID slump, though the pace is still slow. The four-week output rose to 960,000 barrels per day through last Friday, down just over eight percent compared to the same period in the previous three years. USDA says corn use for ethanol will be 5.05 billion bushels, up four percent on the year, but down 7.7 percent from the three-year average.

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U.K. and Canada Close to a New Trade Agreement

The United Kingdom and Canada are close to signing a new trade agreement. Bloomberg says a new trade agreement would replace the existing deal that Britain already has through its European Union membership, which comes to an end on December 31. The agreement would be a boost for officials’ efforts to plot a new course for Britain as a standalone trading nation outside of the EU bloc. People familiar with the matter anonymously told Bloomberg that they expect an announcement within days. If they don’t reach an agreement, the U.K. and Canada would be looking at tariffs on trade starting January 1. That’s when the transition period wraps up, and the U.K. won’t be a part of the CETA agreement that came into effect in 2017. Total trade between the United Kingdom and Canada is estimated to be worth approximately 17 billion pounds, or $23 billion, in 2019. “Trade talks are advancing and making good progress,” says Britain’s Department for International Trade in a written statement. “The U.K. is committed to seeking to secure a continuity trade deal with Canada before the end of the transition period.” The U.K. is Canada’s third-largest export market after the U.S. and China.

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World Ag Expo Goes Online with a Unique Approach

For the first time in its history, the World Ag Expo is going online on February 9-11. Officials at the International Agri-Center announced the cancellation of the live event back on September 14. The World Ag Expo will work with a company called Map Your Show, an industry leader in event and conference management software. The company’s team has run more than 120 digital trade shows since March. While most digital trade shows limit their online shows to their specific dates, the World Ag Expo is taking more of a year-long approach. “Instead of just a one-week show, we’ll be supporting our exhibitors and the online site throughout 2021,” says Jennifer Fawkes, International Agri-Center Marketing Manager. “Each exhibitor has a micro-site within the show to share information and hold live chats, along with many other options.” As the event organizers, she says World Ag Expo will have online seminars, the Top 10 New Products Contest, and other new content will get released throughout the year. Seminars will be presented online by exhibitors like California State University-Fresno, Irrigation Association, the Center for International Trade Development, and many more. The schedule will be finalized and available in January.

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Coalition Releases Farmers’ Guide to the CSP

As farmers begin to sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program across the country, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition released its updated “Farmers’ Guide to the CSP.” As interest grows in farming practices that protect natural resources and reduce the impact of climate change, it’s a good time for producers to explore the CSP. The coalition says this guide is a great resource for farmers who want to learn more about the program, as well as those who are thinking about enrolling in the CSP. The Ag Coalition has been a strong advocate for the program since it first began years ago. The CSP is designed to reward farmers who apply a conservation ethic across their entire operation. It offers five-year payments to producers who take on highly beneficial conservation practices on their farms that build soil health, improve water quality, and benefit wildlife. Some of those practices include cover crops, conservation buffers, rotational grazing, and many others. The guide also helps producers walk through the application and implementation processes for CSP. The guide is a free download at www.sustainableagriculture.net/publications.

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.