READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, March 8th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

UPDATED – SATURDAY, MARCH 6TH, 2021 AT 7:45 PM MT

Agriculture Responds to Senate Passage of $1.9 Trillion COVID Package

The Senate Saturday passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The package, known as the American Rescue Plan, will extend federal unemployment benefits, offer up to $1,400 in direct payments to individuals earning less than $80,000, and increase funding for several nutrition assistance programs. Additionally, it authorizes several provisions to bolster rural and agricultural communities, including a pilot program to facilitate the distribution of vaccines and other medical supplies in rural areas, debt relief for historically disadvantaged farmers, and $4 billion to build resilience in the food system. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “This legislation provides a lifeline that will help keep families afloat until their hardships subside. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated, “I am grateful to the U.S. Senate” for passing the bill, adding the American Rescue Plan is historic, “namely for the transformative debt relief it provides to Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and other farmers of color.” Vilsack says USDA stands ready to these important provisions of the bill once it clears Congress and is signed into law by President Joe Biden.

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ORIGINAL NAFB NATIONAL AG NEWS AT 2PM MT ON FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 2021

Drought Conditions Persist in the Main Corn Growing States

As farmers are ramping up toward planting season, drought conditions continue in many of the top corn-growing states. Last week, the U.S. drought monitor showed 11 percent of Midwest acres are in moderate drought. Over half of the High Plains are in a severe drought, and 19 percent of the region is experiencing extreme drought conditions. For example, Iowa, the number one corn-producing state, faces extreme drought conditions in the northwest part of the state. Roughly 10 percent of Iowa is in a severe drought. Soil moisture is more favorable in Illinois, but the central part of that state is abnormally dry. A small part of the east-central region is in moderate drought. Nearly all of Nebraska faces some moisture stress at this point, with the southwest corner of the state in extreme drought. The entire state of Minnesota is abnormally dry, with about 40 percent of the state, especially in the northern third, in moderate drought. Only nine percent of the acres in Indiana are in moderate drought, primarily in the northwest part of the state. More than half of Kansas is abnormally dry, while drought conditions are severe in half of South Dakota. Ohio and Missouri have much less drought to deal with than other states. About 61 percent of Wisconsin is abnormally dry, with almost half of Michigan in the same category.

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Corn Export Sales Drop to New Marketing-Year Low Point

Export sales dropped to a new low in the marketing year last week, while soybeans and wheat sales improved. USDA data says corn sales to overseas customers dropped to 115,900 metric tons in the seven days that ended on February 25. That’s 74 percent lower than the previous week and 96 percent lower than the prior four-week average. Sales were still solid to China as the southeast Asian nation bought 1.05 million metric tons of corn, followed by Mexico at 181,900 tons. The USDA report says unnamed buyers canceled shipments totaling 1.76 million metric tons. On the other hand, exports last week totaled 2.01 million metric tons, a high point for the current marketing year and 69 percent higher week-to-week. Soybean sales totaled 334,000 metric tons, higher than the prior week but 33 percent lower than the previous four-week average. Mexico was the big buyer at 139,700 metric tons, but unknown buyers canceled 351,400 tons of soybeans that same week. Exports rose 18 percent to 1.16 million metric tons last week. Wheat sales were 219,200 metric tons, a 31 percent increase from the previous week but 51 percent lower than the four-week average.

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U.S. Suspends Some Tariffs on U.K. Goods

While it won’t have a large effect on farmers immediately, the Biden Administration is suspending some tariffs on goods from the United Kingdom. No longer a member of the European Union, the United Kingdom said in December that it will suspend tariffs on the U.S. tied to the World Trade Organization ruling against Boeing Airline subsidies. It was a move that trade experts say was a goodwill gesture and a sign that the British government is hoping to resume negotiations on a free trade agreement now that the Biden Administration has taken power. “The United States will now suspend retaliatory tariffs in the Airbus dispute for the next four months,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says in a statement. “This will allow time to focus on negotiating a balanced settlement to the disputes and begin seriously addressing the challenges posed by new entrants to the civil aviation market from non-market economies like China.” Aviation Week Dot Com says the U.S. move shows the Biden Administration followed through on campaign promises to build a coalition of allies that will confront China on trade together. China still maintains billions of dollars’ worth of duties on imports of U.S. agricultural commodities.

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Americans Support Tough Stance on China

President Biden inherited a challenging relationship between the U.S. and China, including a trade war, tariffs on both sides, human rights issues, and more. A Pew Research Survey shows that 89 percent, almost nine-in-ten adults, consider China a competitor or enemy rather than a partner. Many Americans also support taking a firmer approach to the bilateral relationship, whether by promoting human rights in China, getting tougher on China economically, or even limiting the opportunities of Chinese students to study abroad in the U.S. Many in the survey also said China’s powerful economy, its dominance as a manufacturing center – sometimes at the expense of the environment or workers – and issues related to the U.S. and Chinese economic relationship are concerns. Overall, Americans see the current economic ties with China as tenuous: around two-thirds (64%) describe economic relations between the superpowers as somewhat or very bad. Just over half of the survey respondents said they have confidence in Biden to deal effectively with China. Partisan politics are far apart on the issue: 83 percent of Democrats say they have confidence in Biden to deal effectively with China, compared to only 19 percent of Republicans who say the same thing.

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U.S. Grains Council Trying to Regain Market Share in Egypt

The U.S. Grains Council is working to regain market share in Egypt. The new two-prong strategy focuses on U.S. corn performance in the starch sector and improving local storage conditions. Egypt is the largest importer of corn in North Africa, bringing in 10 million tons (303 million bushels) annually. However, U.S. corn exports to Egypt have suffered in recent years from strong competition from the Black Sea and South American imports. In the 2018-2019 marketing year, Egypt was the ninth-largest U.S. corn market and the leading importer of U.S. corn co-products in the Middle East region. The USGC is focused on improving the image of U.S. corn after it arrives in Egypt through two programs. The first focuses on highlighting the superior performance of U.S. corn in the industrial starch sector, and another focusing on improving existing storage constraints. The Council recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the largest corn importer in Egypt to improve storage conditions for grain destined for the Egyptian feed and wet-milling industries, with an additional objective of stemming negative effects on downstream industries. USGC is also focusing not only on building a short-term market but also long-term Egyptian trust in food security through trade.

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Chicago Company Launches Dairy-Based Sports Drink

A Chicago-based start-up company launched GoodSport, a sports drink that’s 97 percent dairy and aims to compete nationally against leading brands. The first-of-its-kind natural sports drink is made with the goodness of milk and backed by science. GoodSport will soon be available on Amazon and at www.goodsport.com, but broader retail distribution is planned for later this year. The product was launched with support from the dairy checkoff and other industry groups, including the checkoff-funded Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The university showed GoodSport how ultrafiltration could harness milk’s electrolytes, vitamins, and carbohydrates and remove its protein to create a clear, light beverage with a mouthfeel that consumers expect from a sports drink. GoodSport also learned how to source its main ingredient sustainably. Dairy companies often ultrafilter milk and use the protein to make products like cheese but can’t use the nutrient-rich part of the milk, called permeate. That means GoodSport rescues a byproduct from dairy companies to produce its beverage. “GoodSport carries dairy’s healthy halo,” says Pennsylvania dairy farmer Marilyn Hershey, who serves as chair of Dairy Management Incorporated. “It not only offers delicious refreshment and nutrition from dairy, but it supports our industry’s sustainability mission. It’s a new way to talk about milk, and it’s exciting for dairy farmers.”

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.