READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, December 14th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

NASS to Reinstate the Agricultural Labor Survey

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service intends to reinstate the Agricultural Labor Survey, suspended on September 30. NASS will mail the questionnaires and collect data immediately for the survey period that was originally scheduled for October of 2020. The report will be published on February 11 and will include data for the July and October 2020 reference dates. The report will include annual average wage rates, hired workers, and hours worked. Fruit Growers News says the agricultural farmworkers advocacy group Farmworker Justice issued a press release protesting the original September 30 action by the Trump administration, canceling USDA’s Farm Labor Survey of agricultural employers that’s used by the Department of Labor to set the main minimum wage under the H-2A guestworker program. After the suspension was challenged in federal court, a preliminary injunction was issued and ordered NASS to reinstate the data collection. NASS says in the Federal Register that if the court’s order is modified or dissolved in the future, NASS will publish a subsequent notice informing the public of that development as well as NASS’s intentions regarding further information collection.

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Biden Nominates Tai to be New U.S. Trade Representative

President-elect Joe Biden nominated Katherine Tai to be the new U.S. Trade Representative. She’s been the chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee since 2017. Tai previously served in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as the chief counsel for China Trade Enforcement. Howard “A.V.” Roth (Rowth), National Pork Producers Council President, says her deep trade experience in Congress and the executive branch will serve her well as the next U.S. Trade Representative. “Opening new and expanding existing markets for U.S. pork exports are vital to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry,” he says. “We look forward to working with her on numerous trade-related issues.” American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall is also pleased with Tai’s selection. “America’s farmers and ranchers rely on a fair marketplace to compete globally, and it’s more important than ever for them to have an ally fighting on their behalf,” Duvall says. “Ms. Tai has deep trade experience and a solid understanding of the need to enforce existing trade agreements while working with our trade partners to expand market access overseas.”  

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USDA Issues Final Packers and Stockyards Act Rule

The USDA’s Ag Marketing Service issued its final rule on the Packers and Stockyards Act. The Trump administration says the final rule establishes the criteria to determine whether an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage has occurred in violation of the act. The Hagstrom Report says the rule was published Friday in the Federal Register. North American Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts says the rule recognizes the importance of marketing agreements and other tools used by producers and packers and provides some clarity regarding the criteria the Secretary will consider when reviewing those tools. “However, it also introduces some uncertainty into the use of those tools by allowing consideration of other undefined factors,” she says. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says the rule fails to protect farmers from discriminatory practices. “In their relationship with meat packers and processors, family farmers have almost no bargaining power, he says. R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard says, “The final rule undermines the purpose of the Packers and Stockyards Act by providing packers with a list of ‘safe-havens’ they can employ anytime they face allegations of violating the undue and unreasonable preference section of the act.” The National Sustainable Ag Coalition says the new rule fails to advance any meaningful reforms.

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Growth in Farm Tractor Unit Sales Continues in the U.S. and Canada

Farm tractor and self-propelled combine unit sales continued to grow across the U.S. in November. Data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers also shows small to mid-size units continue their sales growth in Canada. Total farm tractor sales in the U.S. rose 41 percent in November when compared to last year, while U.S. self-propelled combine sales grew 33 percent. U.S. four-wheel-drive unit sales nearly doubled in November, up almost 92 percent to 201 units, now up 4.7 percent year-to-date. 100-plus horsepower unit sales also rose in November, up 24 percent, which keeps sales for the big units in positive territory for the year at up 1.2 percent. Total year-to-date farm tractors out the door are up 16 percent in 2020, while combines are now up 6.4 percent on the year. Canadian tractor sales saw their biggest jump in the under-40 horsepower units. “On the whole, this sales report continues the generally positive trends we’ve seen since April,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at AEM. “The trend includes growth in the smaller units, while the bigger units are following along a little more slowly.”

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United Soybean Board Elects Dan Farney as New Chair

United Soybean Board farmer-leaders elected Dan Farney of Morton, Illinois, as the 2021 USB Chair. “What an honor to get selected by my fellow farmers to lead the soy checkoff next year,” says Farney. “I’m so proud of our accomplishments but look forward to going a step further to increase the value and preference for U.S. soy.” USB leadership, with oversight from USDA, guides the activity of the national soy checkoff per the strategy outlined by the 78-member board. “As stewards of the soy checkoff, we are committed to research and market development on behalf of all soybean farmers that strengthens the resilience of U.S. soybean production,” Farney says. “This ranges from developing new customers abroad to building demand domestically through animal agriculture, human consumption, biodiesel, and industrial uses for over 1,000 products on the market.” The USB farmer-leaders also elected ten other farmer-leaders to serve as members of the USB Executive Committee during their annual meeting December 9-10. USB continues to focus on three priority areas for investment: meal, oil, and sustainability. During the annual meeting, USB CEO Polly Ruhland said soybean farmers are the definition of resilient. “You can knock them down, but you certainly can’t count them out,” she says. “The checkoff is a reflection of that spirit.”

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ASA Elects 2021 Governing Committee

During their annual meeting, the American Soybean Association Board of Directors elected the leaders who will guide the organization through the changing policy landscape on Capitol Hill. Kevin Scott of South Dakota will serve as the 2021 ASA President. Scott previously was the vice president, secretary, and an at-large member of the ASA Governing Committee. Scott’s been on the ASA board since 2012. He and his wife Jannell farm in southeast South Dakota with a son, brother, and nephew on a fourth-generation farm that began in 1886. Immediate past president Bill Gordon of Minnesota moves into the role of ASA chairman. The former chair, Davie Stephens, rotates off the nine-member governing committee but remains on the ASA board. The board also elected Brad Doyle of Arkansas to serve as vice president, a position that has him next in line to be the association’s president in 2022. Doyle operates Berger Farms/Eagle Seed with his wife Joyce, a second-generation soybean breeder. Daryl Cates of Illinois is the secretary, and Stan Born, also from Illinois, is the treasurer.

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.