READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 16th

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USDA Chief Economist Johansson Departing, Myer Named Successor

Department of Agriculture Chief Economist Robert Johansson is on the move. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced this week Johansson will leave USDA to become Associate Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance at the end of January. Perdue also announced that Dr. Seth Myer will return to USDA to be the new Chief Economist. Perdue stated, “Rob’s leadership and economic support over the past two years with trade disruptions and COVID-19 relief has helped us make evidence-based decisions when designing programs to assist American farmers and ranchers during their time of need.” Meyer is a Research Professor and the Associate Director for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. Meyer was previously the head of the World Agricultural Outlook Board in the Office of the Chief Economist, the agency at USDA charged bringing together USDA resources in the assessment of crops around the world.

Employment Outlook Promising for New College Graduates in Agriculture

A report last week from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University shows a strong job demand for new college graduates with degrees in agricultural programs. U.S. college graduates can expect approximately 59,400 job opportunities annually between 2020 and 2025. This reflects a 2.6 percent growth from the previous five years. Employer demand will exceed the supply of available graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture-related fields. A USDA NIFA spokesperson says students studying agriculture “have made a sound career choice and will graduate into a strong and growing job market in the years ahead.” Graduates earning degrees with emphasis in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment will account for 61 percent of the annual supply pool. Most employment opportunities will be in business and management at 42 percent and another 31 percent in science and engineering. Openings anticipated in education, communication and government will make up 14 percent, and 13 percent will be in food and biomaterials production.

2020 Land Market Ending with Optimism

The 2020 land market closes with optimism, according to Farmers National Company. The year started with land prices strengthening before COVID-19. The pandemic paused the land market before interest returned in the summer. Now, Randy Dickhut of Farmers National Company says an improved outlook for grain prices and government aid increasing farm income has resurrected interest in farmland. The optimism has fueled the demand for good cropland and the resulting surge in prices as farmers are aggressively buying land while investors also enter the market. The rising demand to buy land is evidenced by the fact that real estate sales for Farmers National Company during October and November were up 49 percent from the same time a year ago. Dickhut says rising demand with a low supply normally brings higher prices in a marketplace, which is what is happening in the ag land market. Sales prices for cropland are rising and for some sales, reaching levels last seen in 2012.

APHIS Changes Approach to Fight Emerald Ash Borer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is changing its approach to fight the emerald ash borer beetle. Infestation of the borer beetle has spread through much of the United States and is highly destructive to ash trees. This week, APHIS announced a final rule that removes the federal domestic emerald ash borer quarantine regulations that the agency says have proved ineffective and will redirect resources to more promising methods. Removing the quarantine regulations ends APHIS’ domestic regulatory activities, including issuing permits, certificates and compliance agreements, making site visits, and conducting investigations of suspected violations. The agency has worked to identify more effective and less intrusive methods, such as rearing and releasing biological control agents. The results have already proved effective, according to USDA. The final rule and the response to comments was published Tuesday in the Federal Register and will be effective on January 14, 2021.

Zoetis Helping Iowa Pork Serve Hungry Iowans

A program begun in late April to generate pork donations to hungry Iowans is receiving a generous boost to keep meat on their plates. Zoetis, a leading animal health company, is donating $25,000 to Pass the Pork for processing and storage of ground pork that will provide 40,000 servings of pork. Pass the Pork is a coordinated program with support from the Governor’s Feeding Iowans Task Force, the Iowa Food Bank Association, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa State University Meats Laboratory, and the Iowa Pork Producers Association. When Pass the Pork was first launched, it was also targeted at helping Iowa pork producers find market outlets for pigs backing up on farms because of food supply chain disruptions. Currently, those disruptions have dissipated. However, Iowa Pork President Mike Paustian says, “COVID-related challenges have deepened food insecurity.” The Iowa Food Bank Association says there has been a double-digit increase in need at food banks.

Wisconsin Health Department: Skip Holiday Tradition of Raw Meat Sandwiches

The Wisconsin State Health Department is urging citizens to avoid a so-called holiday tradition in the state. Through social media this week, the department says, “there’s one holiday tradition you need to pass on: raw meat sandwiches.” The sandwiches, sometimes called tiger meat, cannibal sandwiches or South Dakota steak tartare, are considered a holiday tradition by many families, according to state officials. The raw meat is typically served with crackers. The tradition appears in midwestern states with significant German populations, such as the Dakota’s, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among others. However, the sandwiches, which include raw ground beef, raw egg and onions, along with a mix of spices, poses a threat for salmonella and other bacteria. The state health department says ground beef should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The warning made national media rounds early this week. However, eating raw ground beef or pork dishes is common in Germany and other foreign nations.

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.