READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 11th

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Ag Groups Respond to Possible Vilsack Return to USDA

Several media outlets reported that President-elect Joe Biden intends to nominate Tom Vilsack to return as USDA Secretary of Agriculture, a post he held for eight years under Barack Obama. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says family farmers face significant challenges and need a strong Secretary of Agriculture to help them make it through in one piece. “After eight years leading USDA, Tom Vilsack has the necessary qualifications and experience to steer the agency through turbulent times,” Larew says. United Fresh Produce Association CEO Tom Stenzel says, “Given COVID-19 and all its challenges, it’s vital to have experienced leaders who can hit the ground running.” Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose says, “Vilsack’s comprehensive knowledge of agriculture and passion for rural America was evident during the Obama Administration, and we look forward to working with him again.” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO Colin Woodall says,” Vilsack knows the issues facing cattle producers and can utilize his extensive experience to showcase the positive impact we have on food security, nutrition, and our natural resources. We look forward to working with him for the betterment of beef farmers and ranchers.” American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “Tom Vilsack earned a reputation for rising above partisanship to serve farmers and ranchers and will continue to do so.”


USTR Taking Action on U.S. Dairy Access to Canada Under USMCA

The U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation applaud the announcement that the U.S. Trade Representative is taking action on Canada’s dairy policies. U.S. Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer will initiate official consultations with Canada to examine the administration of its Tariff Rate Quota obligations for dairy. The two U.S. dairy organizations have long raised an alarm about the need to ensure the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement is fully-enforced due to Canada’s history of undermining trade agreements. Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley and Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (CRAY-po) both say the Trump Administration is taking the right step for American dairy producers and farmers. One of the biggest improvements in the new USMCA provisions is providing access to Canada’s dairy market, which had unfairly restricted equitable access to American dairy for years. The two Senate Committee chairs say, “We hope our Canadian partners can resolve this issue without going to arbitration, but we are supportive of Ambassador Lighthizer’s efforts either way.” Wisconsin Senator Ron Kind says, “To create an even playing field for dairy farmers and help keep jobs in the United States, the administration must hold Canada and Mexico accountable to their trade commitments by implementing enforcement provisions.”


EPA, DOJ Against Refiner Request for Supreme Court Review of RFS Exemptions

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a recommendation against a Supreme Court review of the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling that invalidated several EPA small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The DOJ filing comes in response to a petition submitted by HollyFrontier Corporation and CVR Energy, in which the oil refiners ask the Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit’s January decision. The petitioners in the original Tenth Circuit Court challenge welcomed the government’s brief opposing a potential Supreme Court review of the appeals court decision. The Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and the American Coalition for Ethanol will all file briefs with the Supreme Court this week. In January, the Tenth Circuit invalidated three exemptions the Environmental Protection Agency issued in 2016 and 2017 because it found the EPA had no authority to extend exemptions that had already lapsed in prior years and because EPA based the exemptions on economic hardships that were not caused by compliance with the RFS. The Justice Department says in its brief that, “The issue didn’t warrant the high court’s review and stated that the refiners’ petition asking for a review ‘should be denied.’”


December WASDE Shows Lower Soybean Ending Stocks, Corn Supplies Steady

The USDA released its December Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. USDA dropped soybean ending stocks down to 175 million bushels, 15 million bushels lower than last month due to an increase in the domestic crush. Total U.S. oilseed production for 2020-2021 is projected at 123.7 million tons, down from last month’s report. The U.S. season-average soybean price is $10.55 a bushel, up 15 cents. The December U.S. corn supply and use outlooks are unchanged from November. The projected season-average farm price is also unchanged at $4.00 a bushel. The outlook for 2020-2021 U.S. wheat this month calls for slightly smaller supplies, unchanged domestic use, higher exports, and lower ending stocks. Supplies are reduced on lower imports. Projected ending stocks dropped 15 million bushels to 862 million, 16 percent lower than last year. The season-average farm price for wheat is unchanged at $4.70 per bushel.


OTA Asks Court to Delay Animal Welfare Suit Against USDA

The Organic Trade Association requested the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to issue a stay of proceedings. The Hagstrom Report says that means they’re calling for a halt to further legal processing in its animal welfare lawsuit against the USDA until President-elect Joe Biden takes office. The lawsuit was filed by OTA in 2017 because of the Trump Administration’s blockage and eventual withdrawal of the final Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule. OTA says an odd quirk in the briefing schedule means the suit spans two administrations. Laura Batcha, OTA Executive Director, says, “We see little benefit to the court in having piecemeal briefings with arguments from two very different administrations. Common sense and fair play require the matter to be placed wholly within the new administration’s hands.” Batcha says the case includes claims of misconduct under the Trump administration that the Biden administration won’t want to defend against. ‘When it all comes down to it, the case will be resolved when Biden takes office,” she says, “and the court shouldn’t be burdened with arguments from a departing administration.”


Purdue Report Highlights Critical Farm Issues in 2021

This past year was full of uncertainty in the agricultural markets. Challenges like a lingering trade war, weather issues, and COVID-19 combined to bring a big change to all parts of the Agricultural supply chain. Every year, experts in the Purdue University Department of Agricultural Economics review the economic conditions from the previous year and look ahead to what the ag sector can expect in the upcoming year. The findings are published in the Purdue Agricultural Economics Report Annual Outlook Issue. Brady Brewer is one of the report’s editors and analyzes trends in the financial sector. Brewer believes the agricultural economy can expect many of these same issues to influence the markets into 2021. “This year has been full of unprecedented disruptions to the agricultural economy,” Brewer says. “Even though we did see farm incomes increase, as well as an improvement in farmer sentiment at the end of 2020, there’s still an expectation that we’ll continue to see volatility and uncertainty in the agricultural economy next year.” The report also provides an outlook on farmland values, trade policy, Ag credit, the dairy marketplace, and retail food prices.

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.