READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, May 6th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

CME Group Permanently Closing Physical Trading Pits

CME Group announced this week it will not reopen its physical trading pits that were closed last March due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the trading pits for corn, wheat, soybeans and other ag commodities. Contracts for ag commodities will be traded only electronically. However, CME Group’s Eurodollar options pit, which was reopened last August, will remain open, allowing these contracts to continue to trade in both open outcry and electronic venues. The once busy trading floors saw traffic decline as electronic trading became popular. The ongoing transition led to trading pits closing in Chicago and New York in 2015. The Chicago Tribune reports that when CME Group temporarily closed its 11 trading pits last March, about 450 traders, clerks, and employees were on the trading floor most days. CME Group also announced it will delist its full-size, floor-based S&P 500 futures and options contracts following the expiration of the September 2021 contracts.

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White House Announces New Vaccine Goals, Funding for Rural Communities

The White House this week announced a new national vaccine administration goal of 70 percent of all Americans by July 4. President Joe Biden is also taking additional steps to get vaccines to rural communities. The administration is sending new vaccine allocations to rural communities, along with granting $100 million in funding to rural health clinics. The funding will be used to assist rural residents in accessing vaccinations as well as education and outreach efforts around the benefits of vaccination.  Additionally, the Health Resources and Services Administration is providing nearly $860 million in funding to help rural health clinics and rural hospitals. The funding will help broaden rural care providers COVID-19 testing and mitigation to slow the spread of the virus in their communities. HRSA will provide up to $100,000 per clinic to each of the 4,600 federally designated rural health clinics and up to $230,000 per hospital to 1,730 small rural hospitals.

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NBB Requests Meeting with EPA Administrator Regan

The National Biodiesel Board this week sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan requesting a meeting to present the findings of a new study. The study, according to NBB, assesses and quantifies the public health benefits and resulting economic savings of using 100 percent biodiesel in U.S. communities near heavy transportation corridors. The organization says heavy transportation corridors are an emerging area of concern for the EPA. Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, writes in the letter, “We believe that including biodiesel and renewable diesel in the administration’s plans to address carbon is fully consistent with your agency’s focus on environmental justice.” The study shows switching to 100 percent biodiesel would result in 340 fewer premature deaths, 46,000 fewer lost workdays and $3 billion in avoided health care costs. Additionally, the study says the switch would bring a 45 percent reduction in cancer risk for communities near heavy-duty transportation corridors.

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Farmers Union Members Advocate Immediate Climate Action

Through Days of Advocacy, an event pairing National Farmers Union members with lawmakers, the organization is advocating legislative solutions to address climate change. NFU members are participating in virtual meetings this week and next with members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. They are advocating for voluntary, incentive-based programs and market initiatives that help farmers implement climate-friendly practices and install on-farm renewable energy systems. NFU President Rob Larew says, “While we’re really encouraged by the strong, bipartisan support for climate action, we want to ensure these efforts take farmers’ unique needs and interests into account.” To ensure such programs are executed smoothly, they will also promote robust funding for technical assistance. Additionally, participants and other Farmers Union members will sit down with Department of Agriculture officials to learn more about the administration’s climate initiatives. The members attending the meetings sit on NFU’s Climate Change Policy Advisory Panel, through which they advise the organization’s climate-related efforts.

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NCGA Yield Contest Opens

Farmers can now enter the National Corn Growers Association’s yield contest for this year. NCGA says entrants contribute to a pool of shared knowledge that helps all corn farmers in challenging years. The National Corn Yield Contest offers challenges and rewards to each entrant. In 2020, the organization says 7,844 growers accepted the challenge, enjoyed the friendly competition with fellow farmers and helped provide information that will lead to future innovations. This year, to add transparency and visual confirmation to high-yield entries, the contest requires a photo inclusion to be submitted online with the recheck yield results. Winners will receive national recognition in Progressive Farmer’s Best in the Field Winner’s Guide in mid-February. State winners will be honored at the 2022 Commodity Classic in New Orleans, Louisiana. Contest winners will be announced on December 15. For the 2021 Entry and the Harvest Rule Book, along with information on changes this year and other resources, visit NCGA.com.

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USDA Invests $92.2 Million in Grants for Local, Regional Food Producers

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced $92.2 million in competitive grant funding under the 2018 Farm Bill’s Local Agriculture Market Program. The program grants are funded through the Farmers Market program as part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative. USDA launched the initiative in March to address shortfalls and disparities in how assistance was distributed in previous COVID-19 assistance packages, with a specific focus on strengthening outreach to underserved producers and communities and small and medium agricultural operations. The grants support the development, coordination and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets and enterprises and value-added agricultural products. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “These grants will help maximize opportunities for economic growth and ingenuity in local and regional food systems to kickstart this transformation.” USDA encourages projects that assist underserved local and regional agricultural businesses, producer networks and associations, and local and tribal government in responding to COVID-19 disruptions and impacts.

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.