READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 23rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

New COVID-19 Package Helps Farmers

Food and agriculture groups welcome the new COVID-19 relief package. Congress this week agreed on a $900 billion stimulus package, which includes up to $13 billion that directly benefits agriculture. Nearly $1 billion will support a dairy donation program and supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage payments. More help is available to specialty and non-specialty crop growers, and the Paycheck Protection Program will be expanded. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “We’re pleased that Congress understands the toll the pandemic continues to take on farmers.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew states, “The fact that a stimulus package has, at long last, been passed is certainly a relief.” And, National Corn Growers Association President John Linder says the assistance “will go a long way in providing the certainty” farmers need to recover from the coronavirus. Finally, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern says, “We thank Congress for its leadership, and we look forward to working with USDA in implementing this legislation.”

Roberts’ Priorities Included in Senate-Passed Omnibus Legislation

Retiring Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says the omnibus appropriations and COVID-19 bills reflect his priorities. Speaking of the two pieces of legislation, the Kansas Republican says, “I’m proud to cast one of my final votes in the Senate on behalf of America’s farmers, ranchers, and growers.” The legislation includes approximately $26 billion for pandemic-related agriculture and nutrition programs. Provisions in the legislation Roberts advocated for include the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Act of 2019, directing the facility to carry out parts of the National Biodefense Strategy. The legislation also includes the Securing All Livestock Equitably Act of 2020, which establishes a livestock dealer trust to benefit unpaid sellers of livestock. Additionally, the legislation includes funds for meat processors to upgrade plants for interstate shipment of products, the Paycheck Protection Program expenses deducibility, and simplifies the loan forgiveness process for PPP loans up to $150,000. The legislation also provides $11.19 billion for pandemic-related assistance to support agricultural producers.

Grassley Praises Approval of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley praised the passage of the Water Resources Development Act, included in the year-end funding bill. The legislation, known as WRDA, addresses the civil works program of the Army Corps of Engineers. The bill is critical for flood control, navigation, ports, locks, dams, and other water resources infrastructure. Grassley says the legislation “will help communities move forward with projects critical for flood control, navigation, ports, locks and dams and other water resources infrastructure.” Grassley and others advocated for several provisions that were incorporated in the final bill, including the Inland Waterway Trust Fund Cost Share Program. This cost-share modification will help the modernization of the locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River to move forward at a faster rate as they start the construction phase of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program. The final bill also includes expanding work on a Lower Missouri River Basin Flood Risk Resiliency Plan.

China 2020 Soybean imports to Reach Record

China’s soybean imports are expected record-high, according to Reuters. The nation is expected to import more than 100 million metric tons of soybeans in 2020, as the nation looks to rebuild its hog herd, boosting demand for protein. An executive with China’s state-owned grains trader COFCO told Reuters the country is expected to crush 92.6 million metric tons of soybeans this year. The record follows declines in demand stemming from African swine fever, which decimated China’s hog population. Chinese officials claim the country’s hog herd has recovered to more than 90 percent of normal levels, though that data has some analysts skeptical. Still, China expects the demand for protein, specifically soybeans for animal feed, to remain strong into the first quarter of 2021. For 2020, demand for soybean oil is expected to increase by more than six percent, as well, thanks to increasing use of the oil in biodiesel and animal feed.

Growth Energy Applauds Canada’s Clean Fuel Standard

Last week, Canada published its nationwide Clean Fuel Standard draft regulation. The regulation is an initiative to reduce the lifecycle carbon intensity of fuels and energy used in Canada and achieve more than 20 million tons of annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The Canadian Clean Fuel Standard regulatory scenario has modeled compliance to include an average 15 percent ethanol in gasoline by 2030. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the standard continues to push the benefits of biofuels in North America, stating, “Canada continues to be a trailblazer in addressing climate change and cutting greenhouse gases through biofuels.” Earlier this month, Growth Energy and Advanced Biofuels Canada co-hosted two webinars for Canadian stakeholders outlining the benefits and potential of E15 as Canada looks to higher biofuel blends. Canada is currently the United States’ number one foreign customer for U.S. producers and a strong partner in promoting biofuels as a means to reduce greenhouse gases.

NASDA, NPPC, Applaud USDA Steps to Modernize Animal Biotech Regulations

Livestock and agriculture welcome the recent proposal to shift animal biotech regulations from the Food and Drug Administration to the Department of Agriculture. USDA announced this week a proposal to move the regulatory framework to the agency. In a statement, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture says, “Using the law as intended by Congress to bring order and efficiency to our current process welcomes innovation and enables our regulatory system to keep pace with science.” The National Pork Producers Council calls the announcement a “big step forward for America’s farmers.” NPPC claims that FDA regulation of gene editing would result in an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process. However, the organization counters, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service already has a review process in place for gene editing in plants, which can serve as a model for livestock. USDA’s rulemaking has a 60-day comment period. NASDA and NPPC have pledged to submit comments to the proposal.

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.