READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 2nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Meat Institute Seeks Supreme Court Review in Case against California’s Prop 12

The North American Meat Institute recently asked the Supreme Court to review an earlier ruling in a challenge of California’s Proposition 12: The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative. The Meat Institute petition specifically asks the Supreme Court to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling in a challenge by the organization. The Meat Institute opposes the law, claiming it is unconstitutional and will hurt the nation’s food value chain by significantly increasing costs for producers and consumers. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts states, “If this unconstitutional law is allowed to stand, California will dictate farming practices across the nation.” The question presented in the case is whether the U.S. Constitution permits California to extend its police power beyond its territorial borders by banning pork and veal products sold into California unless out-of-state farmers restructure their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California.

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2020 Agritech, Food Investments, Sets Record

The agri-food-tech sector saw a record investment total in 2020. AgFunder reports total dollars committed to agri-food-tech ventures in 2020 are expected to hit $30.5 billion, representing a 34.5 percent increase over 2019 investments. The sector’s stellar performance is attributable to an increasing number of big funding rounds, signifying a maturing sector with a few clear outliers. Michigan-based cold storage and warehousing venture Lineage Logistics’ $1.6 billion funding round accounted for five percent of the projected investment total. Plant-based meat company Impossible Foods raised two rounds totaling $700 million, leading a long and increasingly tech-diverse roster of investor-backed alternative protein companies. There were also a lot of small rounds, which AgFunder says speaks to investor confidence in placing their bets on the agri-food-tech sector at large, and on the next generation of early-stage innovations and technologies. Early-stage investments grew ten percent year-over-year in 2020, as the number of deals grew 15 percent.

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U.S. Dairy Farm Numbers Continue to Decline

Data from the Department of Agriculture shows the number of licensed dairy operators in the United States continues to decline. Analyzed by the American Farm Bureau Federation in a Market Intel article, USDA’s Milk Production report showed the fourth-largest year-over-year decline in the number of licensed dairy operations in the last 15 years. There were 2,550 fewer licensed dairy operations in 2020 than in 2019, when the number dropped by 3,261. The overall number of licensed operations in the U.S. has marched steadily downward since data collection began, declining by more than 55 percent, from 70,375 in 2003 to 31,657 in 2020. AFBF suggests this recent acceleration of the decline reflects how difficult it is to operate a dairy in a low milk price environment. Since the end of 2014, dairy farmers have struggled with low prices followed by an industry-disrupting pandemic that increased milk price volatility and rendered risk management tools mostly ineffective.

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Food and Ag Groups Seek Shipping Container Action

Agriculture groups last week urged the Biden Administration to address the ongoing shipping container shortage. More than 70 food, agriculture and transport groups, including the National Pork Producers Council, penned a letter last week to President Joe Biden, urging the administration to address the ongoing ocean carrier practices the groups say are hampering delivery of U.S. agriculture, food and forestry products to international markets. The letter outlines how carriers are declining to carry cargo and instead opting to return empty containers to Asia. The groups say, “unless the Shipping Act and other tools available to our government are applied promptly, agriculture industries will continue to suffer great financial losses.” The letter explains the Shipping Act provides the Federal Maritime Commission with the authority to prohibit unreasonable, unjust practices, and “to promote the growth and development of U.S. exports through competitive and efficient ocean transportation.” Given the urgency of this situation, the groups ask those tools be immediately applied to stem the current ocean carrier practices.

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Hagedorn Introduces PP Flexibility for Farmers and Ranchers Act

Congressman Jim Hagedorn last week introduced the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility for Farmers and Ranchers Act. The Minnesota Republican says the bill would allow farmers and ranchers categorized as partnerships to utilize gross income when calculating maximum Paycheck Protection Program loan amounts. The CARES Act allowed for farmers and ranchers to apply for PPP loans by utilizing net income in their loan calculations. Unfortunately, Hagedorn says, this prevents many agricultural partnerships from receiving the maximum PPP loan possible. Hagedorn’s legislation provides enhanced flexibility by allowing the use of gross income to calculate the maximum loan amount. The bill also includes a retroactive provision to enable producers, who initially used net income, to recalculate their PPP loans, so long as the loans have not been forgiven. The lawmaker states, “As we approach a return to normalcy and reopening our economy, it is critical that we ensure our farmers and ranchers have access to the resources needed to maintain operations.”

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USDA Announces Additional Staff Appointments

The Department of Agriculture Monday announce two senior appointments. USDA announced the appointment of Dr. Dewayne Goldmon as senior advisor for racial equity to the Secretary of Agriculture. Goldmon has served for the past year as Executive Director of the National Black Growers Council, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates to improve the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of Black row crop farmers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that with Goldmon, “we will build a USDA that represents and serves all Americans.” USDA also announced the appointment of Andy Green as senior advisor for fair and competitive Markets. Most recently, Green served as a Senior Fellow for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. Referring to Green’s future with USDA, Vilsack says, “We must create a more level playing field for small and medium producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture.

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.