READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 24th – Colorado Ag Day!

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USFRA Announces Growing Commitment to Future of Agriculture

U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action celebrated National Ag Day by announcing the growing list of companies, organizations and individuals who have joined the Decade of Ag. The program is the first sector-wide movement to align to a shared vision for the next decade centered around investing in the next generation of agricultural systems, restoring the environment, regenerating natural resources and in doing so, strengthening the social and economic fabric of America. USFRA CEO Erin Fitzgerald says, “These leaders are stepping up in action to collaborate for meaningful impact.” The shared Decade of Ag vision is for a resilient, restorative, economically viable and climate-smart agricultural system. The Decade of Ag vision was a two-year process finalized at USFRA’s annual Honor the Harvest Forum in the fall of 2020. USFRA says the case for food and agriculture to become the first U.S. economic sector to become carbon negative is promising, but more collaboration, partnerships and investment are needed to accelerate progress and make a meaningful impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Pro Farmer Survey Predicts Record Corn and Soybean Acres

A survey from ProFarmer predicts farmers will plant a record number of corn and soybean acres this year. The Pro Farmer/Doane survey revealed total area planted to crops in the U.S. is expected to rise to 319.4 million acres. That would be up nearly three percent, or 8.9 million acres, from 2020. If the survey findings hold true, it also means U.S. acreage will hit the highest level since 2018. The survey projects total corn and soybean plantings at a record 182.3 million acres, which would be up 8.4 million acres from last year. Total acres planted to corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton, are expected to rise 9.5 million acres from last year. USDA’s 2021 Ag Outlook Forum in February provided an initial look at acreage. USDA’s new chief economist, Seth Meyer, released projections showing the agency expects farmers to plant 90 million acres of soybeans this year and 92 million acres of corn. Combined, that would be a new record.

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AFBF: U.S. Must Enforce Trade Agreements with Mexico

The American Farm Bureau Federation and 26 other industry groups urge the Biden administration to enforce U.S. trade agreements with Mexico. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall states, “recent moves by Mexico to limit American imports and to undercut prices in the U.S. puts America’s farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage.” In a letter, the groups ask Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to tackle various trade issues with Mexico. On December 31, 2020, the Mexican government issued a Presidential Decree stating the intention to phase out the use of glyphosate and use of genetically modified corn for human consumption. The groups say that while the standing of the Decree is unclear and the scope is vague, the Decree creates a significant risk and uncertainty to trade of corn and corn products with Mexico. Other issues include dairy trade, organics, meat industry access and geographical indications and biotechnology approvals, among others.

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New Report Details Connection Between Conservation Practices and Farm Profitability

A new report from the Soil Health Partnership details the financial impact of conservation tillage and cover crop usage among Midwest corn and soybean growers. Titled Conservation’s Impact on the Farm Bottom Line, the project was done in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund. Based on an analysis of farm operations, management practices and financial records, the project team identified three key takeaways. The first is conservation tillage reduces operating costs, resulting in higher net returns per acre among study participants. Meanwhile, cover crops can be part of a profitable farming system, especially as experience with the practice grows. Finally, success with conservation practices is optimized when farmers take a targeted, stepwise, tailored approach to implementation. The hope with this project, according to the National Corn Growers Association, is that analyses like this will encourage continued and expanded support for farmers, both technical and financial, as they transition to conservation practices in the future.

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USDA Awards Over $11.5 Million to Help Small and Mid-Sized Farms

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced $11.5 million for research to ensure small and medium-sized farms become more profitable. Announced on National Ag Day, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the funding “will give these family farms the tools they need to be more sustainable, profitable and productive as they face agricultural and economic challenges. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded 24 grants to 20 universities and organizations through their Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the nation’s leading and largest competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. These research efforts focus on alternative crop enterprises, marketing, and scaling up fruit and vegetable production to overcome marketing constraints. By focusing on these key elements, USDA says small and medium-sized farm operators can increase their competitiveness in local markets and can provide greater access to food for their communities, something USDA says is extremely critical as we build back a stronger, more equitable food and farming system.

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USDA Invests $266 Million to Improve Rural Communities Facilities

The Department of Agriculture is providing more than $200 million for rural community services. USDA undersecretary for rural development, Justin Maxson, announced the funding Tuesday. USDA will invest 266 million to build and improve critical community facilities to benefit nearly three million rural residents in 16 states and Puerto Rico. This funding includes $156 million to support health-care-related improvements and emergency response services that will benefit nearly one million rural residents in nine states and Puerto Rico. Maxson says the funding will “spur community development and build sound infrastructure like hospitals and medical facilities to help rural America build back better and stronger.” Specifically, USDA is investing in 41 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The assistance will fund a variety of essential community services, including emergency response vehicles and equipment. The investments are going to Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Puerto Rico.

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.