READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, April 30th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Ag Businesses Report Favorable First Quarter Earnings

Earning reports topped headlines on Wall Street this week, and agriculture businesses seem to be doing well. Syngenta reported first-quarter sales of $7.1 billion, up 20 percent for the same period last year. BASF reported first-quarter sales were up 16 percent, to 19.4 billion euros, or $23.52 billion. AGCO reported sales for the first quarter were approximately $2.4 billion, an increase of 23.4 percent. Meanwhile, ADM reported first-quarter earnings of $689 million. The company says its Ag Services and Oilseeds sector achieved a record first quarter, with operating profits 84 percent higher year over year. Tractor Supply Company reported net sales for the first quarter of 2021 increased 42.5 percent to $2.79 billion from $1.96 billion in the first quarter of 2020. Finally, CME Group reports revenue of $1.3 billion for the first quarter of 2021. CME Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Terry Duffy says, “Trading volumes in Q1 have returned to pre-pandemic levels.”

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NCBA Stands Ready to Fight for Sound Tax Policy 

In his American Families Plan, President Joe Biden targets several provisions of the tax code to raise approximately $1.5 trillion in revenue over the next ten years. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says those provisions must not burden the nation’s farmers and ranchers. Biden’s plan would repeal the deferral of gain for real estate, like-kind exchanges for gains greater than $500,000 and eliminate stepped-up basis for gains over $1 million, or $2.5 million per couple. According to the plan, the reform will be designed “with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.” NCBA Senior Executive Director of Government Affairs Danielle Beck says, “When considering how to offset the cost of a comprehensive infrastructure package, it is essential that Congress preserve sound tax policies for family-owned agricultural operations.” Beck adds, “We firmly believe that it would be irresponsible to pay for an infrastructure bill on the backs of farmers and ranchers.”

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Mexican Supreme Court Overturns Ban on U.S. Fresh Potato Imports

The Mexican Supreme Court ruled by a unanimous vote of five to zero in favor of overturning a 2017 lower court decision that blocked the importation of U.S. fresh potatoes. The ruling, cheered by the National Potato Council and Potatoes USA, marks the end of a decade-long legal process that began when Mexico’s potato industry sued its government to prevent competition from imports. National Potato Council vice president of trade affairs, Jared Balcom, says, “This ruling is consistent with Mexico’s obligations under the USMCA and the WTO.” Balcom adds the ruling represents a major step forward for the industry. Since it first allowed for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes in 2003, Mexico has restricted those potatoes to a 26 kilometer-area along the U.S.-Mexico border. That restriction has violated Mexico’s obligations under numerous trade agreements. In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “This decision is important for American agriculture and for positive bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico.”

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USDA Announces Updates to Livestock Insurance Policies

The Department of Agriculture this week announced updates to livestock insurance policies for 2022 and beyond. USDA says the updates are designed to improve options for producers and to create additional opportunities for producers to participate. The changes include ensuring the Class Pricing Option remains available for purchase even when either the Class III or Class IV milk price is not published. USDA is also relaxing records requirements by allowing monthly total pounds of milk and milk components to be acceptable records instead of daily. The Livestock Gross Margin is available for cattle, dairy, and swine producers and provides protection against loss of gross margin, the market value of livestock minus feed costs. The changes include allowing producers to purchase coverage on a weekly basis instead of monthly. Risk Management Agency Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy says, “We strongly feel that these updates will benefit producers and their dairy and livestock operations in the years to come.”

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USDA to Invest $31 Million for Restoration Work in Gulf States

The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced $31 million in funding to advance restoration work and improve water quality in the Gulf Coast states impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The funds will support three priority programs and related project work approved by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration, or RESTORE Council, as part of a multi-year process of collaborative planning and public engagement throughout the Gulf. USDA’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, along with state forestry agencies in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, will leverage the funds to restore forest health, improve coastal ecosystems and provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners. The USDA-funded activities include the Gulf Coast Conservation Reserve Program, the Enhancing Gulf Waters through Forested Watershed Restoration Program, and the Apalachicola Regional Restoration Initiative. The RESTORE Council was established in 2012 by the RESTORE Act, a federal law enacted in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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Texas Ag Commissioner Joins Discrimination Lawsuit over COVID Relief

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller this week joined a lawsuit against the federal government. Miller claims the COVID relief plan passed in March discriminates against white farmers and ranchers. Miller, a rancher himself, joined the lawsuit as a private citizen, not as a public official. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 offers relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, which the plan defines as people of color. Miller’s complaint against the Department of Agriculture, according to the Texas Tribune, says the definition in the program fails to include “white ethnic groups that have unquestionably suffered” because of their ethnicity, such as those of Irish, Italian, German, Jewish and eastern European heritage. America First Legal, a conservative group that claims, “the radical left is using its power inside and outside of the government to destroy our country,” filed the lawsuit. The organization says the Constitution forbids government action that discriminates based upon race, alleging the Biden administration is “actively engaging in outright racial discrimination.”

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.