READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, March 5th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

FAO Food Price Index Rising for Nine Straight Months

The Monthly Food Price Index averaged 116.0 points in February 2021, 2.4 percent higher than January, marking the ninth month of consecutive rise. The index by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reached its highest level since July 2014. The increase was led by strong gains in the sugar and vegetable oil sub-indices, while cereals, dairy and meat also rose but to a lesser extent. International sorghum prices increased the most, up 17.4 percent in February and 82.1 percent above year-ago levels, driven by ongoing strong demand from China. International corn prices also rose .9 percent from the previous month. Wheat export prices remained nearly stable in February, but up 19.8 percent from last year. Vegetable oil prices continued strength reflected by firmer prices. Dairy prices were up 1.7 percent, and meat prices up .6 percent. The report found sugar prices up 6.4 percent from January, the second consecutive monthly increase and its highest level since April 2017.

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Farm Futures: Why Farmers Feel Threatened by Biden Administration

A recent Farm Futures survey found why farmers feel threatened by potential policy objectives under the Biden administration. The survey shows nearly nine of every ten farmers believe taxes will go up under a Biden administration. Another 71 percent believe WOTUS will be overturned. Only 22 percent believe markets will stabilize with a new trade strategy. And four of every five farmers believe there will be fewer government ad hoc funds going to agriculture. An Iowa farmer told Farm Futures, “I am worried about everything in that survey.” The publication points out the unease in farm country today feels similar to farmer attitudes after President Barack Obama was elected. And while farm organizations and lobbyists engage with new political leaders on Capitol Hill, it may be some comfort to remember that, “when it comes to ag policy, usually the worst doesn’t happen, but you need to be prepared for changes,” according to a Farm Futures analyst.

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Farm Groups Seek Passive of COVID-19 Bill with Relief for Minority Farmers

A coalition of agriculture groups urges lawmakers to support emergency relief for farmers and ranchers of color. In a letter to leadership of the House and Senate, the coalition says they are “committed to improving the financial and rural development interests of this nation’s Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and People of Color farmers and ranchers.” Specifically, the coalition urges lawmakers to support the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act. Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, introduced the legislation last month. The legislation would provide $4 billion in direct relief payments to help farmers of color pay off outstanding USDA farm loan debts and related taxes, and help them respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic. The bill provides Another $1 billion fund to root out systemic racism by expanding the capacity of USDA to provide technical and legal assistance to agricultural communities of color and to fund under-resourced programs that will shape the future for farmers and communities of color.

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Ethanol Production Rebounds from Recent Collapse

Ethanol production rebounded last week, according to data from the Energy Information Administration and the Renewable Fuels Association. For the week ending February 26, ethanol production scaled up 29.0 percent following the prior week lull, or 191,000 barrels per day, to 849,000, equivalent to 35.6 million gallons daily. Production remained 21.3 percent below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate decreased 2.6 percent, equivalent to an annualized rate of 12.85 billion gallons. Meanwhile, Ethanol stocks declined 1.6 percent, which was 10.2 percent below a year ago. Inventories drew down across all regions except the Midwest. The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, recovered by 13.1 percent to 124.9 billion gallons. Gasoline demand was 11.3 percent less than a year ago. Refiner and blender net inputs of ethanol improved by 12.3 percent to a nine-week, and there were zero imports of ethanol reported for the week.

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Farm Workforce Modernization Act ‘Step in the Right Direction’

Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would reform the H-2A visa program to address the agricultural labor shortage. Representatives Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, and Dan Newhouse, a Washington state Republican, introduced the legislation this week. Among other provisions, it would amend the H-2A program to allow a capped number of visas for farmworkers to work year-round. National Pork Producers Council’s recently elected President Jen Sorenson says the organization “believes this legislation is a step in the right direction.” The U.S. pork industry is largely dependent on foreign-born workers. NPPC says visa reform is needed to ensure that U.S. livestock agriculture can compete globally and continue to provide safe and affordable pork to Americans and consumers worldwide. The National Milk Producers Federation also welcomed the legislation. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern stated, “This bipartisan bill takes a significant step toward ultimately addressing through legislation the workforce crisis plaguing American agriculture.”

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Wicker, Peters Reintroduce FLOODS Act

A group of Senators this week reintroduced the Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support, or FLOODS Act. The legislation seeks to establish a National Integrated Flood Information System. The lawmakers say the bill would improve the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecasting and communication of flood, tornado and hurricane events. Senator Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, along with Michigan Democrat Gary Peters, reintroduced the bill. Wicker says recent flooding events in his state “underscore the importance of an effective understanding and response to high water.” The bill would establish partnerships with institutions of higher education and federal agencies to improve total water predictions, designate a service coordination hydrologist at each National Weather Service River Forecast Center and evaluate and improve flood watches and warnings. Additionally, the legislation encourages NOAA to evaluate acoustic tracking and measuring of windstorms, use aerial surveys of floodwaters to improve flood mapping, and improve modeling of freshwater outflow into the ocean.

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Vilsack: Hungry Americans Need the American Rescue Plan Now

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.