READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, May 24th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Announces Plan for Black farmer payments

The USDA says it plans to make debt relief available to Black farmers. The announcement came one day before Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack participated in a roundtable discussion with Black farmers in Georgia. A spokesman says Vilsack will be traveling to other states to discuss the plan in the weeks ahead. Late last week, the Farm Service Agency published the first notice of funding availability for loan payments for eligible borrowers who have qualifying direct farm loans under the American Rescue Plan. “The Plan has made it possible for USDA to deliver historic debt relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers beginning in June,” Vilsack says. “USDA is recommitting itself to gaining the trust and confidence of America’s farmers and ranchers using a new set of tools provided in the American Rescue Plan.” The Plan authorizes funding and authorization for the FSA to pay up to 120 percent of direct and guaranteed loan with outstanding balances as of January first of 2021. He says the tools are designed to increase opportunity, advance equity, and address systemic discrimination in USDA programs. To learn more about the loan payments to socially disadvantaged farmers, go to www.farmers.gov/americanrescueplan.

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SD/MN Senators Ask Colleagues to Sign onto Meatpacking Letter

Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN) wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding the state of the U.S. meatpacking industry. They asked him to enforce or examine America’s antitrust laws to restore fairness in the marketplace for cattle producers and are asking their colleagues in both the House and Senate to sign the letter. The Hagstrom Report says the letter was released last week by R-CALF USA, which is launching an effort to get 200 members from both chambers of Congress to sign the letter. Producers want to know why boxed beef prices are rising while the prices they get for their cattle are stagnant. During an R-CALF USA Facebook Live event held last week, Rounds said it’s vital for producers to let consumers know about the industry’s issues. He’s also asking R-CALF members to put the letter out in front of consumers outside of their home states. South Dakota is one of nine states where livestock outnumber people. Rounds says those states support more market transparency, but those same states make up just five percent of the country’s population. Rounds says meatpackers currently sit in the middle of the situation, noting that the industry is controlled by only four companies.

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Reps Ask Biden Administration to Utilize USMCA Enforcement Measures

A bipartisan group of representatives sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding dairy and the U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement. They’re asking the administration to move ahead with enforcement measures negotiated in the USMCA to support U.S. dairy farmers. A key part of the USMCA agreement was the promise of new export opportunities for America’s dairy industry, including the introduction of fairer trade rules to ensure American-made dairy exports can compete on a level playing field. The coalition says it’s crucial that the Administration hold U.S. trading partners accountable to their tariff commitments. So far, Canada hasn’t taken actions to alter its dairy tariff-rate quotas to bring them into compliance with the USMCA. That undermines the ability of American dairy farmers and producers to sell a wide range of products to Canadian consumers. The representatives say the immediate use of enforcement measures is necessary to ensure Canada delivers on their obligations in a way that’s fully consistent with the agreement. “USMCA made key advancements for our dairy farmers,” says Representative Ron Kind (D-WI). “However, I’ve long said trade agreements are only as strong as their enforcement, and we need to make sure our trading partners live up to their end of the deal.”

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Coalition Defends Gray Wolf Delisting

A coalition of agriculture and forestry groups filed court motions in defense of delisting the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act. Three cases filed by environmental and animal welfare groups in California challenge the final delisting ruling issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last November. The coalition is defending the delisting because it recognizes the successful recovery of the wolf and enables responsible wildlife management and protection of private property by farmers, ranchers, and forest resource users. The coalition provided the court with personal stories that illustrate the harm inflicted by unchecked wolf populations on livestock ranchers and farmers, natural ecosystems, and other wildlife. A Minnesota farmer stated in the filing that he lost 26 calves in a single year to gray wolves. Groups in the coalition include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Forest Resources Council, the American Sheep Industry Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Public Lands Council. Since being listed under the ESA in 1974, the gray wolf has exceeded recovery goals by more than 300 percent. This has been a runaway success story, with uncontrolled populations now threatening livestock and rural communities across the country.

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Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour Finishes Last Week

The Wheat Quality Council’s 2021 Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour finished up last week. The total weighted average yield estimate was 58.1 bushels per acre, a likely tour record that DTN says far surpasses USDA’s national yield projection of 52.1 bushels per acre. It’s the highest tour yield estimate in 19 years and the best in the event’s history, which stretches back over 40 years. The tour made 250 stops in multiple fields, most of which were in Kansas. They did visit several fields in southern Nebraska and northern counties in Oklahoma. Kansas is the nation’s largest winter wheat producing state, and Kansas farmers planted 7.3 million acres last fall. Harvest will get underway in June. Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin says recent rainfall greatly helped to improve crop conditions after a dry early spring. He also says good prices prompted many farmers to closely monitor their crops for disease pressure and spray fungicides to keep the crop healthy. He was also quick to credit improved wheat genetics in helping plants better endure stress, such as drought. “Mother Nature has been good to the crop over the past two weeks with rain,” Gilpin tells DTN. “The yield estimate is a testament to wheat breeders and better genetics.”

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NCGA Soil Health Institute Will Close

The Soil Health Partnership, a project of the National Corn Growers Association, is scheduled to close the doors for good on May 28. John Mesko, the groups senior director, says SHP has accomplished its original mission of determining the economic and environmental impact of conservation practices and communicating the importance of soil health to farmers and the agriculture community. “Despite our good work, the empirical on-farm research that SHP conducted is expensive,” Mesko says. “Add to that our high level of farmer-facing support, with field staff covering 16 states and a bona fide research and data analysis staff, and the current cost of SHP exceeds the existing levels of support.” In carrying out the mission, Mesko says they developed the best-in-class farm research protocols, farmer engagement strategies, and an elite suite of communication channels to tell the story. They also released key findings that included 2019 and 2020 cover crop planting reports, two published research papers, held several important webinars, and a study on the economic impact of conservation practices on farms.

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.