READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 3rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

February Ag Economy Barometer Results

February’s Ag Economy Barometer reading of 165 changed little compared to January when the index stood at 167. Announced Tuesday, producers continue to report strong current conditions on their farms as February’s Current Conditions Index value of 200 is near its all-time high. Continuing a trend that got underway last fall, however, the Index of Future Expectations drifted lower to 148, three points below its January reading. February marked the third time in the last four months that the Future Expectations Index declined, leaving it 20 percent below its October peak. Ongoing strength in ag commodity prices and farm income continue to support producers’ perspective on current conditions. Concerns about possible policy changes affecting agriculture and eroding confidence in future growth in ag trade continue to weigh on producers’ future expectations. Producers also indicated they expect to see alternative protein sources increase market share in the years ahead. If the market share becomes significant, they think it’s likely to reduce aggregate farm income.

Stabenow Introduces New Bill to Boost Clean Energy

Senator Debbie Stabenow this week introduced a new bill to boost manufacturing by providing a tax credit to manufacturers who retool or build facilities to produced clean energy parts. The Michigan Democrat, who also chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced the American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act. The legislation would provide a 30 percent tax credit to manufactures to create jobs that draw on existing skilled workforces and reinvest in communities experiencing high unemployment. Stabenow says, “Transitioning to a clean energy economy creates significant opportunities.” The bill is part of Stabenow’s American Jobs Agenda. The legislation would, according to Stabenow, Strengthen American manufacturing by providing $8 billion for a tax credit to manufacturers that retool, expand or build new facilities that make parts and technologies needed to reduce carbon emissions. Companies eligible to apply for the tax incentive include those making batteries, electric and fuel cell vehicles, semiconductor chips, components to produce renewable energy, carbon capture and others.

Hypoxia Task Force Sends Letter to EPA, USDA Leadership

States in the Hypoxia Task Force urge Biden administration leaders to continue partnership and support with the coalition. The task force recently penned a letter to leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who serves as the co-chair of the task force, states, “Working together, we can improve our local waters and the Gulf of Mexico.” The task force is a partnership of 12 states and five federal agencies that work collaboratively to reduce nutrient-loading throughout the Mississippi River Basin and the size of the hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The group’s action plan has a near-term target of reducing nutrient-loading to the Gulf from the basin by 20 percent by 2025, and a long-term goal of limiting the Gulf hypoxic zone to an average annual size of less than 5,000-square kilometers by 2035, subject to the availability of resources.

Optimism in Beef Industry Fueled by Strong Demand

Despite pandemic disruptions, consumer demand for beef at home and around the globe remained strong in 2020. CattleFax says that trend will continue in 2021 and beyond, especially as foodservice operations begin to fully reopen. The data was presented during the recent Cattle Industry Convention Winter Reboot. The strong demand, combined with expected higher cattle prices, signal an optimistic future for the beef industry. According to CattleFax CEO Randy Blach, cattle numbers will continue to contract in 2021, and producers will gain leverage on packers and retailers, and margin distribution will be more equitable. Packing capacity is expected to increase slowly with the addition of more small-scale plants, and U.S. meat exports will continue to grow. Overall, profitability is expected to improve significantly for cow/calf producers. In 2020, total meat sales volume at retail was up ten percent and total dollar sales at retail up 18 percent, with beef’s share of the increase in spending accounting for 45 percent or $5.7 billion.

USCA Supports Strengthening Local Processing Act

The United States Cattlemen’s Association this week announced its support of The Strengthening Local Processing Act. Introduced last month, the legislation will increase local livestock and poultry producers’ options and assist smaller facilities as they adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and expand to meet consumer demand. The legislation was introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat, and Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican, in the U.S. House. USCA Vice President Justin Tupper of South Dakota says, “Local and regional meat processors are critical in securing our nation’s food supply, and by offering this technical and financial assistance, we can better help set them up for success.” USCA says four multinational meatpacking companies control over 80 percent of the meatpacking business in the U.S., adding, “expanding the reach of independent processors brings more competition to the marketplace.” The legislation will increase the federal share of state inspection costs from 50 to 65 percent and for Cooperative Interstate Shipment facilities from 60 to 80 percent, encouraging more states to operate state inspection programs.

Krysta Harden Promoted to President/CEO of U.S. Dairy Export Council

Dairy Management Inc. and the U.S. Dairy Export Council announced the promotion of Krysta Harden from chief operating officer to President and CEO. Harden was named COO in May 2020. During that time, she continued her role as executive vice-president of global environmental strategy for DMI, which manages the national dairy checkoff for 34,000 dairy farmers. Harden succeeds former USDEC President and CEO Tom Vilsack, who has been confirmed as secretary of agriculture in the Biden administration. Harden becomes the third president and CEO to lead USDEC since its founding by DMI in 1995 and is its first female chief executive. Before joining DMI, Harden served as Chief Sustainability Officer with Corteva and DuPont. Harden also spent seven years working with Vilsack at USDA. Harden states she will continue the aggressive approach established by Vilsack at the organization “engaging USDEC member companies, exporters, and dairy producers in export market development efforts.”

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.