READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 15th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senators Call on EPA to Protect the Integrity of the RFS

More lawmakers are pressing the Trump administration to avoid making any decisions on small refinery exemptions until after the Supreme Court rules in pending litigation. Thursday, a group of Midwest Senators penned a letter to the administration. The letter states, “Alarming new reports indicate that your Environmental Protection Agency may issue numerous pending small refinery exemptions which would be a devastating blow to biofuels producers and the farmers who sell to them.” The effort follows a similar letter by the House Biofuels Caucus earlier this week. The letters stem from a Reuters report that the Trump administration was readying three new waivers for compliance year 2019. The Senate effort includes Republican Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, both of Iowa, along with Roger Marshall of Kansas, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Meanwhile, the EPA Thursday proposed extending the RFS compliance deadline for the 2019 compliance year to November 2021 and the 2020 deadlines to 2022.

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Vaccine Hesitancy in Rural America

A recent study finds rural residents are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development unfolds. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues. The monitor shows three in ten people in rural areas say they will “definitely get” the vaccine, compared to four in ten people in urban areas and suburban areas. An additional one-third of people in rural areas say they will “probably get it” while 35 percent say they will either “probably not get it” or “definitely not get it.” The report says there are many factors that are associated with an individual’s willingness to get the coronavirus vaccine, including their age, level of education, and political party identification. The COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds that Republicans are much less likely to say they will get a coronavirus vaccine compared to their independent and Democratic counterparts.

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KC Fed: Fewer New Loans to Farmers

Fewer new loans to farmers continued to drive a pullback in agricultural lending activity. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank reported this week that stronger prices for agricultural commodities, alongside continued support from government payments, may have reduced financing needs for some farmers and contributed to the slower pace of lending. A historically low number of new loans contributed to an increase in average loan size and drove a slight decrease in the overall volume of non-real estate loans at commercial banks in the fourth quarter. Changes in the average size and number of loans were generally consistent across all types of loans. For all lending purposes, the number of loans decreased, and the average loan size increased. While there were fewer loans for all purposes, operating loans continued to comprise the majority of non-real estate lending and accounted for over half of the overall decline. Interest rates on agricultural loans remained at historically low levels in the fourth quarter.

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NPPC Submits Comments on Proposed USDA Rule for Gene-Edited Livestock

The National Pork Producers Council submitted commits to the Food and Drug Administration this week regarding gene-edited livestock. For more than two years, NPPC says the FDA “has dragged its feet” on the development of gene-edited livestock, an emerging technology with opportunity for livestock agriculture, causing American agriculture to “fall behind in the global race to advance its development.” However, a recently proposed rule would transfer primary regulatory jurisdiction of gene-edited livestock to the Department of Agriculture. In formal comments, NPPC President Howard AV Roth says many nations competing with the U.S. livestock sector already have or are moving to regulatory models that led to commercialization. Roth says, “This is already placing U.S. livestock and poultry producers at a disadvantage.” Gene editing is used to make specific changes within an animal’s own genome. NPPC says gene editing will allow the U.S. to produce animals that are more disease-resistant, require fewer antibiotics and with a smaller environmental footprint.

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USDA Invests $11.65 Million to Control Feral Swine

The Department of Agriculture is investing $11.65 million in 14 projects to help agricultural producers and private landowners trap and control feral swine. The investment is part of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. The investment expands the pilot program to new projects in Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The pilot program is a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. NRCS will provide funding to partners who will provide financial assistance, education, outreach and trapping assistance to participating landowners in pilot project areas. All partner work will be closely coordinated with the APHIS operations in those areas. Between the first and second round of funding, there will be a total of 34 active projects across 12 states for the life of the 2018 Farm Bill. NRCS Acting Chief Kevin Norton says, “The projects we have identified will be key to addressing the feral swine problem.”

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WSSA Announces 2021 Virtual Meetings

The Weed Science Society of America and two of its regional affiliates recently released details on their upcoming virtual annual meetings. The meetings are focused on research, innovations and best practices in weed control. The first, the Southern Weed Science Society annual meeting, takes place January 25-26. Based on the theme “Moving Obstacles,” the session will kick off on January 25 with a day of virtual talks by student weed scientists. February 15-17, The Weed Science Society of America will hold its annual meeting. Five special seminars will be offered, including Advances in sensor-based weed detection and precision management, and a history, overview and plan of action on PPO-inhibiting herbicides. March 1-4, the Western Society of Weed Science will hold a joint meeting with the Western Aquatic Plant Management Society. Three seminars are planned for the joint event, including updates from weed biocontrol, invasive grass management, and the relationship between herbicide-resistant crops and weeds. Learn more about the meetings at WSSA.net.

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.