READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 8th

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Stabenow Expected to Lead Senate Ag Committee

With Democrats winning the two Georgia runoff Senate elections this week and a 50-50 majority expected in the chamber, Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow is poised to be the next Senate Agriculture Committee Chair. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, also a Democrat, will preside over the Senate, giving Democrats the slim majority. With full control by Democrats in Washington, D.C., farmers and ranchers can expect climate, along with the next farm bill, to dominate ag policy. Stabenow told Agri-Pulse this week, “As chair of the Agriculture Committee, we’re going to lead an effort to create a voluntary climate exchange,” adding climate policy for farmers and ranchers is a top priority. Stabenow was previously chair of the committee from 2011-2015, the last time Democrats had majority control of the Senate. In the Georgia runoff elections this week, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, giving Democrats the narrow majority. Loeffler was a member of the Senate Ag Committee.

World Food Price Index Marks Seventh Month of Increases

The monthly World Food Price Index increased in December for the seventh consecutive month. Recorded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the index averaged 107.5 points in December 2020, up 2.3 points from November. Except for sugar, all sub-indices registered modest gains in December, with the sub-index of vegetable oil rising the most. Wheat export prices rose further in December, reflecting a tightening of supplies among major exporters, concerns over growing conditions, and expectations of lower than anticipated wheat shipments from Russia. Sorghum prices rose sharply in December as sales from the United States, mostly to China, remained robust. Corn export prices moved higher, sustained by continued concerns over crop prospects in South America. International rice prices also rose in December, underpinned by tight Thai and Vietnamese availabilities and heightened buyer interest for Indian and Pakistani supplies. For 2020, the index averaged a three-year high of 97.9 points, 2.9 points higher than in 2019.

Secretary Perdue Announces Georgia Broadband Funding

In his final days as Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue traveled to his home state of Georgia Thursday to make a rural broadband funding announcement. Perdue announced a $4.6 million investment in high-speed broadband for rural Georgia. The funding, the Department of Agriculture says, will connect 1,326 rural Georgia households to High-Speed Internet. The funding is part of the second round of USDA’s ReConnect Program, to which Congress allocated $550 million. Broadband funding has been a priority for USDA under the Donald Trump Administration. Secretary Perdue says, “expanding access to this critical infrastructure will help ensure rural America prospers for years to come.” In 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure to approximately 167,000 households, 17,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities located in 33 states. In April of 2020, USDA the Department has received 172 applications for $1.57 billion in Round Two of the program.

CHS Reports $69.7 Million in First Quarter Fiscal 2021 Net Income

CHS, the nation’s leading agribusiness cooperative, Thursday reported net income of $69.7 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 that ended November 30, 2020. This compares to net income of $177.9 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. The first quarter of fiscal year 2021 reflect revenues of $8.7 billion compared to revenues of $7.6 billion for the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. While income was lower, improved relations between the United States and foreign trading partners drove increased volumes and margins for grain and oilseed. And favorable weather conditions during fall harvest compared to the prior year increased volumes and margins across much of the CHS Ag segment. CHS CEO Jay Debertin says, “Improved trade opportunities with China and improved trade activity in Europe and Africa helped drive first-quarter improvement in our global grain business.” CHS a global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States.

Energy Sorghum may Combine Best of Annual, Perennial Bioenergy Crops

Energy sorghum may be ideal for producing bioenergy crops, according to the University of Illinois. Perennial grasses like miscanthus are a primary target for bioenergy crops because of their sustainability advantages, but they take several years to establish. Maize and other annual crops are easier to manage with traditional farming, but they are tougher on the environment. A study by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation found that energy sorghum behaves more like miscanthus in the way it efficiently captures light and uses water to produce abundant biomass. It has higher nitrogen emissions like maize, but researchers believe careful fertilizer management could reduce those levels. The study offers a first look at how energy sorghum compares to maize and miscanthus grown in the Midwest. One researcher says sorghum appears to be a “middle-road crop,” with an annual growth cycle but the ability to use much less water than maize to produce “a ton” of biomass.

AFIA Announces New Dates for 2021 Event

The American Feed Industry Association this week announced it will postpone its 2021 Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference. AFIA will now hold the event August 17-19, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. A spokesperson for the organization states, “We have decided to postpone PISC so that more of our members will be able to safely participate in person.” Registration will open in the spring with two attendee options – in-person and hybrid. If circumstances do not allow for travel, attendees can participate virtually in the event’s educational and networking components. The American Feed Industry Association’s Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference is designed specifically for buyers and sellers of feed and pet food ingredients. The event offers industry experts the chance to exchange ideas and learn about issues affecting the industry. AFIA is the world’s largest organization devoted to representing the business, legislative and regulatory interests of the U.S. animal food industry and its suppliers.

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.