READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, May 20th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

FFA Announces Hybrid Annual Convention

The National FFA Organization announced Wednesday the organization will hold its annual in-person convention this fall in Indianapolis. The event, which traditionally brings more than 65,000 attendees, will take place October 27-30. Expected in-person events during the convention include the American FFA Degree Ceremony, Career Success Tours, competitive events, delegate business sessions, entertainment, the National FFA Expo and shopping mall, general sessions, student and teacher workshops, and the National Days of Service. In addition to the in-person event, the organization will also offer a virtual program, including student and teacher workshops, the virtual FFA Blue Room, National Days of Service and the streaming of general sessions. Dr. James Woodard, national FFA advisor, says, “We are excited to bring an in-person event back to our members and the city of Indianapolis.” In 2020, the organization canceled the in-person event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead offered a virtual experience. For more information, visit convention.FFA.org.

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Produce Industry Sounds Alarm Over Pallet Shortage

The United Fresh Produce Association says pallet shortages are disrupting the produce supply chain. The organization says the lack of pallets is adding stress to a supply chain that is already facing significant challenges. Other supply chain issues include a lack of available trucks and shipping containers, labor challenges and a pending shortage of resin used to make reusable containers and pallets. Expectations are that the pallet shortage will continue for months, perhaps for the balance of 2021. The shortage of lumber and wood products has increased the cost of raw lumber 200 percent to 350 percent and makes the cost of wood pallets increase incrementally.  Some report over the past few weeks, pallet costs have increased more than 400 percent, if the pallets are even available. The organization warns that without ensuring pallet availability for produce shipments, “there is little doubt that it will be very difficult, if not impossible,” to meet consumer produce demand.

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USDA Announce Cosby as NRCS Chief

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the appointment of Terry Cosby to serve as chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Cosby began his career with USDA in 1979 as a student trainee in Iowa. Over Cosby’s 42 years with the agency, he has served in numerous capacities, most recently, Acting Chief of NRCS and State Conservationist for Ohio. Cosby also served in leadership positions at the agency in Iowa, Missouri and Idaho, before his time in Ohio. The National Association of Conservation Districts welcomed the announcement. NACD President Michael Crowder says of Cosby, “His extensive experience in conservation as a farmer, a sportsman and state conservationist will further strengthen NRCS’s impact on the nation’s land.” USDA also announced Meryl Harrell as deputy undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Harrell most recently served as the Executive Director of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. Both will assume their positions Monday, May 24.

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Meat Institute Responds to DOJ Investigation Calls

The North American Meat Institute this week defended its members against allegations of wrongdoing in the cattle market. The response follows a closed-door meeting between livestock and farm groups focusing on ways to improve cattle market transparency and a letter from Republican lawmakers to the Department of Justice. The lawmakers requested DOJ continue its investigation regarding cattle market manipulation. In reaction, Meat Institute spokesperson Sarah Little told the Hagstrom Report, “In July 2020, USDA analyzed the effects of the 2019 Holcomb facility fire and the pandemic, finding no wrong-doing and confirming the disruption in the beef markets was due to devastating and unprecedented events.” She pointed to several announcements to build new packing facilities or expand capacity that will increase cattle slaughter capacity roughly four percent. In the letter to DOJ, the group or republican lawmakers state, “while black swan events do not always prove wrongdoing, additional attention can reinforce confidence in the system.”

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NIFA Invests Over $2.3M for Small Business Innovation Research

The Department of Agriculture this week announced a $2.3 million investment as part of the USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently awarded eight grants totaling $812,900 to small businesses to improve plant production and protection. Additionally, NIFA awarded eight grants totaling $797,600 for animal production and protection, and seven awards totaling $706,100 for conserving natural resources. NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille says the program, “stimulates technological innovations in the private sector and strengthens the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses.” Funded plant production projects include research into domestic vanilla production, blueberry pollinators and plant-based proteins. Animal production projects include vaccine research, testing animal feed for quality and herd reproductivity data. Finally, conservation projects include fertilizer and irrigation research. The next Phase 1 request for Small Business Innovation Research applications is scheduled to open in July 2021, with a deadline in October 2021. Learn more at nifa.usda.gov.

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Application Period Open for Conservation Innovation Grants Program

The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is investing up to $15 million to support the development of new conservation tools and practices. Specifically, NRCS is seeking new tools, approaches, practices and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands through the Conservation Innovation Grants program. USDA says CIG partners use creative problem solving and innovation to address our nation’s water quality, air quality, soil health and wildlife habitat challenges, all while improving agricultural operations. This year, funded grant partners will focus on climate-smart strategies for water resources, soil health, nutrient management, grazing lands conservation and strategies to increase conservation adoption. NRCS intends to expend at least ten percent of the total funding for CIG Classic on projects that are focused on providing conservation benefits to historically underserved producers. All U.S.-based non-Federal entities and individuals are eligible to apply. Proposals must be submitted through Grants.gov before July 20, 2021.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.