READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, March 26th

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House Ag Hearing Focuses on Black Farmers

The House Agriculture Committee held a historic hearing Thursday reviewing the state of Black farmers in the United States. The hearing detailed decades of systemic racism and discrimination against Black Farmers by the Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told lawmakers, “We will over the next four years do everything we can to root out whatever systemic racism and barriers that may exist at the Department of Agriculture.” House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott called the hearing “a public way to address the deep distrust that many of our farmers of color feel” towards USDA. In prepared remarks, John Boyd, Founder and President of the National Black Farmers Association, stated, “Rather than right these historic wrongs, government programs have largely perpetuated systemic racism.” Boyd points to research that shows 99 percent of the recent Market Facilitation Program payments went to white farmers, along with 97 percent of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Boyd adds, “The result of decades of discrimination is that Black farms are smaller, and our revenues are smaller.”

Farm Groups Welcome USDA Pandemic Relief

Agriculture groups applaud the Department of Agriculture for this week’s announcement of plans to distribute more than $12 billion under the Pandemic Assistance for Producers. The funding includes $6 billion to develop new programs or modify existing proposals using remaining discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Another $5.6 billion will be directed to formula payments to cattle producers and eligible flat-rate or price trigger crops.  American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s action to release funds and expand eligibility for farmers hit.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “This sensible approach will help reach farmers who have previously been excluded from relief programs and keep them in business.” The aid programs include biofuels, previously excluded from relief packages. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “Secretary Vilsack’s announcement that aid is on the way is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Sign-ups for the new program begin April 5, 2021.

NCBA: Grassley Bill Not Solution Industry Needs

Senator Chuck Grassley this week introduced legislation to address transparency in the cattle market. The Iowa Republican, along with a bipartisan group of Senators, says the bill intends to foster efficient markets while increasing competition and transparency among meatpackers who purchase livestock directly from independent producers. This bipartisan bill will require that a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer’s weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or spot market. However, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association does not approve of the legislation. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, “simply put, Senator Grassley’s bill misses the mark.” NCBA says any legislative solution to increased price discovery must account for the unique dynamics within each geographic region. United States Cattlemen’s Association President Brooke Miller commended Grassley for introducing the bill. USCA says the ’50-14’ or spot market bill, follows legislation already supported by USCA, the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021.

Business and Ag Groups Urge Rollback of Section 232, 301 Tariffs

The National Foreign Trade Council this week re-launched the Tariff Reform Coalition. The coalition is a broad alliance of business and agriculture groups substantially harmed by the import tariffs imposed by the previous Administration. The group urges the rollback of Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs, saying the tariffs “are causing serious damage to those already struggling.” The coalition says the Biden administration needs to reassess the Section 232 and 301 tariffs, and Congress should hold hearings to see if the tariffs are achieving their objectives.  The coalition says tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum should be removed, and use of other trade laws more consistent with the WTO should be considered to address the issue of overcapacity. The coalition includes the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Pork Producers Council, Farmers for Free Trade and others in the agriculture sector. The coalition made the requests in an advocacy document directed at the Biden administration and Congress.

Farmers for Free Trade Announces New Board Members

Farmers for Free Trade Thursday announced five new Board members. Farmers for Free Trade is a coalition supported and comprised of America’s leading ag organizations and businesses. The new board members include Michael Anderson, trade and industry relations Vice President at the Corn Refiners Association, and Iowa corn farmer Bob Hemesath, a National Corn Growers Association member. Additionally, Angela Hofmann, co-founder of Farmers for Free Trade and Lauren Sturgeon, CoBank Government Relations Director, and Maria Zieba, National Pork Producers Council International Affairs Director, joins the board. Sara May, former President of Farmers for Free Trade, has retired from the board.  Steve Noah, President of Farmers for Free Trade, says, “We’re pleased with the diversity of interests on the Board of Directors.” Brian Kuehl, Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director, says the new members have all built careers that reflect the organization’s central mission to help deliver economic opportunity for American agriculture.

Anhydrous Ammonia Tank Recovered from Missouri River

Federal, state, and local response agencies worked together last weekend to recover an anhydrous ammonia tank floating in the Missouri River. Recovered near Jefferson City, Missouri, the 1,500-gallon tank, including its wheeled chassis, was seen floating downstream last Friday. Given the tank contained anhydrous ammonia, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources requested Environmental Protection Agency’s support with recovery and disposal. The river was at flood stage Friday, and the EPA secured and recovered the tank Saturday. The tank was found intact and not leaking. A Missouri DNR representative says, “Without the collaboration from all teams, removing the tank from the Missouri River would not have been as successful.” Missouri Farmers Association, known as MFA, agreed to store the tank at its location in Jefferson City. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and MFA agreed to work together to find the tank owner. MFA will keep possession of the tank if no owner can be found.

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.