READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 15th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Bill to Curb Rural Suicides Awaits Signature

Legislation to curb the rising rate of farmer suicides awaits the president’s signature as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. However, the bill’s future is still uncertain as President Donald Trump over the weekend threatened to veto the bill, despite the appearance of veto-proof support from lawmakers. The Seeding Rural Resilience Act was included in the defense bill. The legislation creates three initiatives aimed at curbing the growing rate of suicides in rural America. The bill Implements a Farmer-Facing Employee Training Program to the Department of Agriculture to provide employees with voluntary stress management training. The bill also forms a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and USDA to create a $3 million campaign to increase public awareness of farm and ranch stress. Finally, the bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture to work with state, local and other stakeholders to collaborate and determine best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress.

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RFA: Ethanol Industry Needs Support as COVID-19 Losses Near $4 Billion

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, state and local governments are taking additional actions to limit travel and promote social distancing. In turn, the Renewable Fuels Association says consumption of ethanol-blended gasoline is rapidly falling again. RFA says the decline is threatening to derail an already fragile economic recovery in the ethanol industry. Through November, U.S. ethanol producers had already lost $3.8 billion since the start of the pandemic. In response to reduced travel and lower fuel demand, ethanol producers slashed production by two billion gallons between March and November, and cuts are expected to continue for months to come. In the first week of December, consumption of both gasoline and ethanol fell to their lowest points since May, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper says that as Congress debates another COVID-19 relief package, “we implore policymakers to consider the devastating economic impact the pandemic has had on renewable fuel producers.”

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Harden to Take Vilsack’s Role at USDEC

Krysta Harden will take the role of CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, if Tom Vilsack, who currently serves as CEO, is confirmed as the Next Agriculture Secretary. Harden served as Deputy Agriculture Secretary from 2013 to 2016, and is the current chief operating officer at the USDEC. Vilsack previously served as Agriculture Secretary during the entirety of the Obama administration. Chair of the organization, Larry Hancock, stated in a news release, “Vilsack will continue to serve fully in his role as president and CEO of USDEC until he is confirmed as the secretary of Agriculture for the new administration.” Once Vilsack is confirmed as Agriculture Secretary, Harden will become CEO of USDEC. Dairy Management Inc. CEO Tom Gallagher says, “We are extremely fortunate to have Secretary Vilsack’s dedication and commitment to dairy farmers over the past four years, and to have someone with Krysta’s background and experience in agriculture and with USDEC ready to step into a new role.”

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Roberts, Stabenow Applaud Enactment of Grain Standards Reauthorization

Leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee applaud the signing of the U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020. Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, expressed their delight in a joint statement late last week. The White House announced that President Donald Trump signed the bill Friday. The U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee on June 24, the Senate on November 16, and the House of Representatives on December 2. Roberts, who is retiring, stated, “We’re ending 2020 by delivering on our promise of certainty and predictability to the federal grain inspection system.” Stabenow says, “This bipartisan reauthorization will continue our grain inspection system and protect the interests of American farmers.” The legislation has wide industry support from national and state agriculture groups. The reauthorization allows the Federal Grain Inspection Service to continue establishing official marketing standards for grains and oilseeds.

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Research Shows Opportunity to Combat ASF Transmission Through Feed Mitigation

New research published in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology provides insight into the fight against African Swine Fever. The research, a collaborative effort between academia and Natural Biologics, characterized the antiviral effects of individual medium-chain fatty acids and glycerol monolaurate, known as GML, to inhibit ASF in feed. Animal feed and feed ingredients have recently been implicated as potential vectors of transmission and spread of ASF. The study says effective feed mitigation strategies are urgently needed to reduce the risk of transboundary spread and would improve prospects for global pig production. Natural Biologics President Dr. Charles Elrod says, “this research establishes the science behind a viable opportunity to curb disease transmission.” The research found GML not only killed ASF but also exhibited additional mechanisms of antiviral activity, leading to a 99.8 percent reduction in the amount of infective virus. In feed, only GML was able to inactivate ASF, working quickly in as little as 30 minutes.

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CHS Foundation Partners with FFA to Support Teachers and Future Ag Leaders

The CHS Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from CHS, announced a more than $4 million commitment over the next three years to the National FFA Organization. The effort will include annual funding for programs the CHS Foundation has had a history of supporting. These include the Teach Ag Campaign, which focuses on ag teacher retention and recruitment, educating students on the value of the cooperative system through My Local Cooperative curriculum participation in proficiency awards and National FFA Convention, and support of 17 state FFA associations. New focus areas for the CHS Foundation include dedicated funding for students’ supervised agricultural experiences, or SAEs, and state officer leadership programs. National FFA Foundation President Molly Ball says, “We are excited to see the CHS Foundation recognizes the key role our educators play in creating the next generation of leaders.” CHS Foundation has been a generous partner with the National FFA Organization for more than 40 years.

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.