READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 4th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Schumer Announces Senate Committee Assignments

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Democratic Committee memberships this week. The announcement appoints Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan as Senate Agriculture Committee Chair. Stabenow also holds membership on the Senate Budget Committee, Finance Committee, along with the Environment and Public Works Committee. Delaware’s Tom Carper will chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Schumer also added New Jersey’s Corey Booker, Georgia Raphael Warnock, and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico. Booker is a self-described vegan and is critical of large-scale animal agriculture and farm checkoff programs. In 2016, he introduced the Commodity Check Off Reform Bill. In a press release this week, Booker stated, “Our food system is deeply broken,” adding, “Family farmers are struggling, and their farms are disappearing, while big agriculture conglomerates get bigger and enjoy greater profits.” Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey is leaving the Senate Ag Committee and will chair the Senate Aging Committee. Senate Republican leaders have yet to announce their committee membership appointments.

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More Farmers Plan to get COVID-19 Vaccine

A question in the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer finds more farmers say they will get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Ag Economy Barometer for January, released this week, finds producers’ attitudes about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine have shifted since the fall, with nearly six out of ten producers, 58 percent, planning to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Just 24 percent of producers said the same in October of last year. Still, 28 percent of farmers say they will not get the vaccine, compared with 37 percent in October. The Ag Economy Barometer is calculated each month from 400 U.S. agricultural producers’ responses to a telephone survey. This month’s survey was conducted from January 18-22, 2021. Last month, the Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor reported 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.

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ERS: Rural Residents More Vulnerable to Serious COVID-19 Infections

A new report from the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service finds rural residents appear to be more vulnerable to serious infection or death from COVID-19. USDA says since the most recent surge beginning in late September, the highest case rates were in rural counties, particularly those that have no town larger than 2,499 residents. In late November and early December, infection rates in rural areas appeared to be slowing, while new cases in urban areas continued to grow. Rural COVID-19 deaths per 100 infections were 1.86 in the first two weeks of December, 48 percent higher than the corresponding urban rate of 1.26. USDA says the rural population appears to be more vulnerable to serious infection in several ways, including age and underlying medical conditions. The report says People may also be more vulnerable when they have difficulty accessing medical care, measured as lacking health insurance, or residing more than 32 miles from a county with an intensive care hospital.

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R-CALF Organizing E-mail Blitz in Favor of COOL

R-CALF this week urged ranchers to send emails to the White House in favor of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for beef. The organization issued an action alert saying, “emails needed this week to the White House and calls needed to congress for M-COOL.” Following the email, the organization asks members to call the White House, and tell their members of Congress the same line, “I’m a farmer/rancher/consumer and I need Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling for beef.” Tom Vilsack, the nominee for Agriculture Secretary under the Biden administration, said during his confirmation hearing, “I am absolutely willing to listen to anybody who has an idea,” regarding COOL. Responding to a question from Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, Vilsack stated, “I would be happy to work with you and your staff on anything that would allow us to advance country of origin labeling.” The latest attempt at COOL was largely blocked by the World Trade Organization, which allowed Canada and Mexico to place punitive tariffs on the U.S. in response to COOL.

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NMPF: 2021 Holds Promise

National Milk Producers Federation President CEO Jim Mulhern says 2021 holds promise, with a big to-do list. In the new Congress, the organization seeks to advance dairy’s needs within COVID-19 relief legislation. Meanwhile, child nutrition programs are up for reauthorization, offering a chance to maintain and expand dairy options in school meals and build upon the strong reaffirmation of dairy’s nutritional value in the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to NMPF. On ag labor, Mulhern says all of agriculture continues to need legislation that provides permanent legal status for current workers, and dairy needs a guestworker program that meets its unique needs. Mulhern says climate-related legislation will give dairy the opportunity to advance the goals of the Net Zero Initiative that NMPF and partners launched in 2019 to reduce the sector’s carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 and improve water quality. NMPF published these policy priorities, along with others, on its website, www.nmpf.org.

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Biofuels Groups Welcome GREET Act Reintroduction

Growth Energy announced its support for legislation reintroduced Wednesday requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to update its greenhouse gas modeling for ethanol and biodiesel. Introduced by Senators John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, and Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, the bill would change EPA greenhouse gas modeling to “accurately reflect the greenhouse gas reductions achieved by biofuels.” EPA would then be required to update its modeling every five years or report to Congress to affirm its modeling is current or otherwise explain why no updates were made. The Adopt Greenhouse Gas and Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation, or GREET Act, was previously introduced in the last session of Congress. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “updating the modeling at EPA is long overdue and necessary to fully reflect biofuels’ potential to decarbonize the transportation sector.” Meanwhile, National Corn Growers Association President John Linder stated, “This bill will ensure EPA uses the most recent science and data to accurately measure the greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits of ethanol.”

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.