READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, April 19th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

EPA Asking Corn, Oil for Input on the Next Phase of U.S. Biofuel Policy

The Environmental Protection Agency wants industry groups to give input on where the future of U.S. biofuel policy is heading after the current phase finishes in 2022. Four sources told Reuters that this is a new opportunity for the oil, corn, and biofuel industries to reshape the Renewable Fuel Standard, the source of a bitter dispute between the industries for more than ten years. Under the regulation, the EPA will have discretion over the annual mandated biofuel blending volumes from 2023 forward, taking over that responsibility from Congress. Oil and biofuel groups have begun to meet with the EPA and talk about ways the agency could handle the RFS after that date. While the EPA declined to comment to Reuters, some groups like the American Petrochemical Institute say they want the EPA to use the RFS to encourage increased use of advanced and cellulosic biofuels instead of conventional biofuels like ethanol. Brooke Colman of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council says the EPA shouldn’t discourage conventional biofuel production in favor of other biofuels. “Any plan that displaces biofuel with biofuel is an innovation-killing non-starter that would cannibalize the industry revenue needed for investment in innovation,” Colman says.

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U.S. Sorghum Exports Shatter Single-Week Record

The USDA says American sorghum exports during the week ending on April ninth totaled a record-breaking 33.9 million bushels. That tops the previous record by more than 10 million bushels, a mark set in August 2020. In addition to the record-breaking exports, new sales commitments hit 33.8 million bushels, most of which got purchased by China. “Sorghum exports continue to show a strong demand for our crop, and new purchases at this level only reaffirm that,” says National Sorghum Producers CEO Tim Lust. “The size of shipments reported this last week is equivalent to the size of approximately 10-12 Panamax vessels.” New crop purchases of U.S. sorghum at this point in the marketing year are also at a record level, reaching 40 million bushels during the week ending April ninth. That’s a 264 percent increase from the previous record set in 2014. “This is the strongest new crop demand we have ever seen at this time of the season,” says Lust. “Availability is so scarce that the sorghum crop being planted now is being marketed at the same time.” He says this sends a strong demand signal to U.S. sorghum producers from their international customers.

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NPPC’s In-Person World Pork Expo Set for June

The World Pork Expo will be an in-person event scheduled for June in Iowa. The National Pork Producers Council says that all of the needed COVID-19 protocols will be followed, and they believe their members are getting vaccinated. The event is June 9-11 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. “The decision didn’t come lightly,” says NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “It was very carefully considered.” The Hagstrom Report says Sorenson notes that everyone in the pork industry values the in-person expo because they get together to do business, network, and adopt the latest technologies. NPPC officials say they don’t have specific numbers on how many of their members are getting COVID vaccinations, but they don’t know of any members declining the vaccine. CEO Neil Dierks says he’s talked to multiple members who say they’ve had their first or second shots. He believes producers are getting the vaccine because vaccinations are “part of the industry culture.” The trade show will include social distancing and hand-washing stations. As far as required proof of vaccination, COVID tests, or temperature checks, officials say the expo will follow government recommendations at the time of the event.

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Produce Union Unhappy with USDA’s Cancellation of Food Box Program

A trade group in the fruit and vegetable industry is unhappy with the USDA’s decision to cancel the Farmers to Families Food Box Distribution Program. United Fresh says millions of Americans gained access to healthy, fresh produce throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, calling the decision by Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack “shortsighted.” The group says comments disparaging the program were a slap in the face to the thousands of volunteers, non-profits, regional food distributors, and farmers who worked together in communities across the country to deliver healthy foods to people in their time of great need. “For a major new program put together rapidly in a time of crisis, the food box program certainly included challenges,” United Fresh says in a news release. “Yet, hundreds of community non-profits and nutrition advocates have found delivering fresh produce directly to those in need has great potential to truly make a difference in the health of millions of Americans.” The trade group says the sudden decision seems more like a political statement against a program started by a former administration than an objective evaluation of the program’s ability to improve Americans’ health. “USDA bears a tremendous responsibility to develop new programs to get fresh, healthy foods to people in need,” they say.

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USDA Looking to Halt Decline in Conservation Reserve Sign-Ups

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the USDA is only days away from announcing “greater opportunities” for landowners to take fragile farmland out of production in exchange for a payment. A Successful Farming article says the Biden Administration is looking for ways to halt a 13-year decline in the number of signups under the Conservation Reserve Program, the largest land set-aside program in the country. Vilsack recently told Illinois public radio that the CRP could play a role in President Biden’s plan to make American agriculture the first in the world to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 20.8 million acres are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, with contracts on three million acres set to expire on September 30. While the 2018 Farm Bill calls for gradually raising the enrollment cap to 27 million acres, it lowered the annual rental rate to landowners to pay for those extra acres. Some senators had said last fall that the USDA was “being stingy” with the incentives and bonuses it had previously offered to encourage producer participation.

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USDA Announces 2021 Cotton Loan Rate Differential

The USDA announced the 2021 crop loan rate differentials for upland and extra-long staple cotton, which are applied to the crop loan rate to determine the per-bale actual loan rate. The differentials, also referred to as loan rate premiums and discounts, get calculated based on market valuations of various cotton quality factors over the prior three years. The 2021 crop differential schedules get applied to 2021 crop loan rates of 52 cents per pound for the base grade of upland cotton and 95 cents per pound for extra-long-staple cotton. The 2018 Farm Bill stipulates that the loan rate for the base quality of upland cotton ranges between 45 and 52 cents per pound based on the simple average of the Adjusted World Price for the two marketing years immediately preceding the current marketing year. But the loan rate cannot be less than 98 percent of the preceding year’s loan. The loan rate provided to an individual cotton bale is based on the quality of each bale as determined by the USDA’s Ag Marketing Service classing measurements. The differentials are important to cotton producers because they’re used to derive the actual loan rate for each bale of cotton, above (premium) or below (discount) the average per pound loan rate, depending on the grade or quality of the cotton.

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.