READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 29th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

EPA States Position on RFS Exemptions Before the Supreme Court

The Environmental Protection Agency filed a brief with the Supreme Court last week that lays out its new position on the Renewable Fuel Standard. A DTN report says the brief covered EPA’s view of the scope and purpose of the RFS, stating that three refiners who received RFS exemptions in 2017 and 2018 didn’t qualify for them. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that the agency violated the law when it granted the exemptions during the Trump administration. The January 2020 ruling led biofuel groups to push the former administration to apply the ruling nationally. The EPA brief also says that few refiners would be eligible for extensions if the law is followed. The Trump EPA granted 88 small-refinery exemptions between 2016 and 2020. The Tenth Circuit Court remanded three exemptions granted to refiners in Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Utah. In February of this year, the Biden EPA reversed the previous administration’s course and sided with the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling. Also in the Supreme Court brief, the EPA says the exemptions program was put into the RFS as a “bridge toward eventual compliance” for small refineries.

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U.S. Hog Inventory Drops Two Percent

The USDA says there were 74.8 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms as of March first. The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report says that the number is down two percent from March 2020, and three percent lower than December first of last year. Among the other key findings, the USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service says of the 74.8 million hogs and pigs, 68.6 million were market hogs, while 6.21 million were kept for breeding. Between December and February, producers weaned 33.3 million pigs, down one percent from the same period a year earlier. U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 10.94 pigs per litter between December and February of this year. Producers intend to have 3.07 million sows farrow between March and May of this year and 3.12 million sows farrow between June and August of 2021. Iowa hog producers have the largest inventory among the states at 23.8 million head. Minnesota was second with nine million head, and North Carolina was third at 8.5 million. To get an accurate measurement of the American swine industry, NASS surveyed almost 5,000 operators across the nation during the first half of March. The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report is available at www.nass.usda.gov.

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Sheep Industry Report Covers the Challenges and Positives in 2020

2020 was a year of ups-and-downs in the United States, and the sheep industry was no exception. COVID-19, major changes in processing, and changes in consumer behavior led to challenges for the U.S. sheep industry. However, there were also positives outlined in the 2020 Sheep Industry Review, a checkoff-funded report commissioned by the American Lamb Board and the American Sheep Industry Association. “COVID-19 made changes to the way U.S. consumers bought and consumed lamb last year,” says ALB Chair Gwen Kitzan. Commercial slaughter was down four percent last year when compared with 2019. Total sheep and lamb inventory decreased one percent to 5.2 million head. Leg, loin, and shoulder sales outpaced ribs. Weekly feeder lamb prices started off the year above 2019 ls but quickly dropped and stayed low through the summer before they rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2020. Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, the report estimates commercial lamb production will increase by three percent, and the year will bring a two percent increase in the commercial slaughter of American lamb. Imports will potentially drop as much as ten percent. Steady production, lower imports, and the lowest available supply since 2017 may set the stage for solid prices in 2021.

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U.S. Corn Export Sales Jump Higher

Corn sales to overseas buyers jumped higher over the seven days ending on March 18. The USDA says wheat and soybean sales declined during the same period. Corn sales totaled 4.48 million metric tons, up from 395,500 tons during the prior week. China was the big buyer at 3.89 million metric tons. South Korea was next with 353,300 metric tons, followed by Mexico in third place with 196,000 tons. Exports totaled just over two million metric tons, down seven percent week-to-week. Wheat sales dropped 12 percent week-to-week at 343,600 tons. That’s still 24 percent higher than the prior four-week average. Japan was the top wheat buyer at 118,800 metric tons, followed by South Korea’s 116,400 tons. Unnamed countries canceled shipments of just over 215,000 metric tons. Soybean sales were dismal at 101,800 metric tons, a 50 percent drop from the previous week and a 56 percent drop from the four-week average. Egypt was the top buyer with 109,700 metric tons. Unnamed destinations canceled purchases totaling 152,500 metric tons. Exports fell six percent week-to-week at 501,400 metric tons.

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Report Highlights Need for Increased Ag Research Spending

A new report says stagnant public funding for agricultural research is threatening the future vitality of U.S. food systems. That poses risks to farmer productivity and profitability, the steady supply of affordable food, and ultimately, global food security. The report is a joint effort from the Farm Journal Foundation and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The report highlights the vital importance of public funding for agricultural research and development. New innovations are crucial so farmers can increase their productivity and meet the rising global demand for food. The world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and food production will have to increase by 60-70 percent to meet the rising demand. While private-sector funding for agricultural R and D has been rising, U.S. public spending has been flat for the past ten years. “The U.S. has always been a leader in agricultural innovation, but we’re at risk of losing that advantage by falling behind the rest of the world in research and development,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. Tricia Beal, CEO of Farm Journal Foundation, says, “COVID-19 showed we need more research to deal with unexpected shocks and to find solutions that make our entire food system more resilient.”

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CCC Won’t Buy and Sell Sugar Under Feedstock Flexibility Program

The USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation won’t be buying and selling sugar under the Feedstock Flexibility Program for the 2020 crop year, which runs through September 30 of this year. The CCC is required by law every quarter to announce its estimates of sugar that the agency will purchase and sell under the Feedstock Flexibility Program based on crop and consumption forecasts. Federal law allows sugar processors to get loans from USDA with maturities of up to nine months when the sugarcane or sugar beet harvest begins. On loan maturity, the sugar processor may repay the loan in full or forfeit the collateral sugar to USDA to satisfy the loan. The FFP got created as an option to avoid forfeitures on sugar loans. If the USDA faces the likelihood of loan forfeitures, it’s required to purchase surplus sugar and sell it to bioenergy producers to reduce the surplus in the food use market and support sugar prices. USDA’s most recent WASDE report shows that the U.S. ending sugar stocks are unlikely to lead to forfeitures, so USDA doesn’t expect to buy and sell sugar under FFP for the crop year 2020.

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.