READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, January 25th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

New Swine Fever Virus Affecting Chinese Herds

Industry insiders tell Reuters that a new form of African swine fever is popping up on Chinese pig farms. The timing is not good for the world’s biggest pork producer that’s still trying to recover from a devastating epidemic. Two new strains of African Swine Fever have infected over 1,000 sows on several farms owned by China’s fourth-largest pork producer. It’s also showing up in pigs being fattened for the firm by contract farmers. A company spokesperson says the disease isn’t quite the same as the wild African Swine Fever Virus because the new variant doesn’t kill the large number of pigs that China lost in 2018 and 2019. The new strain causes a chronic condition that reduces the number of healthy piglets born to sows. But infected pigs are culled from herds to prevent the spread, which makes the disease ultimately fatal. Many Chinese farmers turned to unapproved products to help protect their animals. Chinese experts fear the illicit vaccines created accidental infections that have begun to spread. There’s no approved vaccine for ASF, which is not harmful to humans.

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JBS Offers Bonuses to Workers Who Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Meatpacker JBS and chicken company Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation say they’ll pay 100 dollars to American workers who voluntarily get the COVID-19 vaccine. Yahoo News Dot Com says thousands of U.S. meatpacking workers were infected last year, so the bonus will hopefully encourage employees to get the inoculations. COVID outbreaks temporarily halted most meat production in the spring of 2020, which pushed meat prices higher as supplies tightened up on consumers. Company surveys already show that between 60 and 90 percent of their employees at different facilities were willing to be vaccinated. The companies launched educational efforts to promote the vaccine as a positive step for their employees, some of whom are immigrants from around the world. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, food and agricultural workers will receive the vaccine during a later phase of the rollout, after healthcare workers and people over 75 years old. Rival company Tyson Foods said late last week that it will offer the vaccines on-site at its facilities, so employees can get inoculated while they’re at work.

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Farm Bureau Report Recommends Improvements at NASS

A new report from the American Farm Bureau lays out several recommendations to improve the way the National Agricultural Statistics Service collects surveys and reports data. It also gives recommendations to improve accuracy and farmer confidence in the survey results. The USDA-NASS Working Group made up of 10 farmer-members, spent over four months looking at the processes and methodologies that USDA-NASS uses to put farmer survey data into monthly reports. The recommendations include increasing transparency on how the agency arrives at the numbers reported and providing clarity on the relationship between aggregate, state, and field-level reported numbers. Farm Bureau would also like to see the agency accelerate its adoption of new and innovative technologies. Farm Bureau also wants to work closely with NASS in a variety of ways, including working to encourage farmers’ accurate and timely participation in NASS data collection. “We hope the work done by this group will provide a framework for USDA to make timelier adjustments to these key reports and restore trust in the data we’ve relied on for a long time,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall.

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Biodiesel Industry Looking for Progress in 2021

During the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, the National Biodiesel Board celebrated the industry’s many achievements in the face of adversity. The NBB hosted more than 550 biodiesel and renewable diesel producers, distributors, retailers, and other industry advocates and partners to talk about the direction of the industry. The NBB has set a goal of six billion gallons of production by 2030. “Our industry has seen its fair share of challenges over the years, but I am proud to say that the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries never gave up, even in the middle of a pandemic,” says NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. “Our members continually beat expectations year after year, and there’s a lot to be excited about as we move forward.” The group shared updates from each of its core program areas, including federal affairs. “Emerging proposals in Washington that would decarbonize the energy and ag sectors, modernize transportation infrastructure, and incentivize research and development can provide new market opportunities for biodiesel,” says Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. The group also discussed state programs that are driving demand for a low-carbon future, as well as sustainability, communications, and outreach and development programs.

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Benham Elected Acting Chair of CFTC

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced that it unanimously elected Commissioner Rostin (RUSS-tin) Behnam as acting chairman. The Hagstrom Report says Behnam succeeds Heath Tarbert, who served as chair since July of 2019, and who will remain as a commissioner until 2024. Behnam says the work of the CFTC is critical to supporting the stability and growth of the American economy through strong oversight and regulation of the derivatives markets. “As a commissioner, I’ve focused on making sure our rules emphasize protecting customers, look into potential systemic risks in the markets, and gaining a better understanding of what regulators can do to address climate-related financial market risk,” Behnam says. “I’m grateful to my fellow commissioners for their support.” Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says she’s been impressed with Behnam’s proactive work to protect the economy from the urgent impacts of climate change. “He’s been a vigilant advocate for Wall Street reform to hold bad actors accountable,” she says. “I look forward to working with him to continue protecting the families, farmers, and the businesses that rely on our agricultural and financial markets.” Behnam previously worked for Stabenow before becoming a CFTC commissioner in 2017.

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Groups Oppose the SAFE Rule

A group of farm, biofuels, and environmental organizations filed a court brief objecting to the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficiency Vehicle Rule. Their objection is based on grounds that it both fails to account for toxic pollution from aromatic-laden fuels and ignores the important role that ethanol can play in improving fuel efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The rule was finalized last April by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It reversed an Obama-era rule that called for a five percent improvement in vehicle efficiency. In place of that, the SAFE rule established a much smaller 1.5 percent increase in vehicle efficiency each year for light-duty vehicles. The brief was led by the National Farmers Union and includes support from the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, and several other industry stakeholders. “As written, the SAFE rule puts the interests of oil corporations ahead of those in the renewable fuel industry, the environment, and the public at large,” says NFU President Rob Larew. “It will increase our overall emissions, delay the development of renewable fuels, all of which erodes air quality, contributes to climate change, to health risks, and increases the cost of fuel for consumers.”

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.