READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 26th

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USTR Begins USMCA Dispute Panel on Dairy Trade with Canada

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai Tuesday announced the U.S. has requested and established a dispute settlement panel under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement regarding dairy trade. The request seeks to review measures adopted by Canada that “undermine the ability of American dairy exporters to sell a wide range of products to Canadian consumers.” The U.S. is challenging Canada’s allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas, specifically the set-aside of a percentage of each dairy TRQ exclusively for Canadian processors. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded, “This is an important step for American agriculture and one that brings the U.S. dairy sector closer to realizing the full benefits of the USMCA.” Vilsack adds the action “puts our other agricultural trading partners on notice that they must play by the rules.” Praising the announcement, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern states, “Canada has failed to take the necessary action to comply with its obligations under USMCA by inappropriately restricting access to its market.”

Senate Finance to Consider Clean Energy for America Act.

The Senate Finance Committee Wednesday (today) will consider the Clean Energy for America Act. The legislation introduced last month will overhaul the federal energy tax code. Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon states, “The federal tax code is woefully inadequate to address our energy challenges.” The legislation consolidates current energy tax incentives into emissions-based provisions that incentivize clean electricity, transportation and energy efficiency. The incentives would be available to all energy technologies if they meet emissions reduction goals. The bill provides long-term incentives for battery and fuel cell electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging. It also provides a technology-neutral tax credit for domestic production of clean transportation fuel that are at least 25 percent cleaner than average, with clean fuels required to reach net-zero by 2030 to qualify. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says the bill “simplifies our tax code and shifts tax incentives away from oil and gas to clean energy,” adding the change is long overdue.

NPPC: Federal Judge Ruling Disastrous for Small U.S. Hog Farmers

Left unchallenged, a recent federal district court ruling will result in a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide, according to the National Pork Producers Council. NPPC says the ruling would reduce income by more than $80 million for small U.S. hog farmers. NPPC is urging the Department of Agriculture to intervene before the ruling takes effect at the end of next month. The federal court’s decision struck down a provision of USDA’s New Swine Inspection System allowing for faster harvest facility line speeds. NPPC says the court’s ruling will have the opposite effect sought by those seeking to expand the number of meatpacking plant facilities. Lawmakers have recently called for increasing the number of pork processing facilities nationwide by bringing smaller state plants up to federal inspection standards. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, “With the stroke of a judge’s pen, the lives of many hog farmers will be upended if this misguided ruling takes effect.”

Growth Energy Applauds Senate Push for Transparency on Refinery Exemptions

Farm state Senators recently reintroduced the Renewable Fuel standard Integrity Act. Senators Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, and Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, reintroduced the legislation as a companion to House legislation introduced in February. The bipartisan proposal would require small refineries to petition for Renewable Fuel Standard hardship exemptions by June first of each year. Currently, EPA does not provide any deadline for refiners submitting a request for a small refinery exemption. The change would ensure that EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations it sets each November. Senator Duckworth states the bill would “bring much-needed transparency to the waiver process and prevent it from being misused to benefit billion-dollar oil companies at the expense of hardworking Americans again.” Biofuels groups welcomed the bill. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “This legislation provides long-overdue transparency for requests to avoid blending more low carbon renewable fuels that are key to America’s low-carbon future.”

Organic Sales up During Pandemic

U.S. organic sales soared to new highs in 2020, jumping by a record 12.4 percent to $61.9 billion. The increase marked the first time that total sales of organic food and non-food products have surpassed the $60 billion mark, according to the Organic Trade Association. The organization released the data as part of its 2021 Organic Industry Survey. In almost every organic food aisle, demand jumped by near-record levels, propelling U.S. organic food sales in 2020 up a record 12.8 percent to a new high of $56.4 billion. In 2020, almost six percent of the food sold in the United States was certified organic. The COVID-19 pandemic caused consumer dollars to shift almost overnight from restaurants and carry-out to groceries, with traditional staples and pantry and freezer items flying off the shelves. Consumer habits were upended, online grocery shopping and grocery deliveries exploded, and new products were tried as families ate three meals a day at home.

JBS, Pilgrims, Announce Free Community College Tuition Program for Rural America

JBS USA and Pilgrim’s this week announced the launch of Better Futures. The effort is a free-of-charge, two-year college tuition program providing more than 66,000 company team members and their dependent children the opportunity to pursue their higher education dreams. Better Futures removes a major financial barrier to college attendance and stands to become the largest free college tuition program in rural America. JBS USA and Pilgrim’s advisors will also help team members, many from first-generation American families, navigate the application process, which can be a deterrence to people applying to college for the first time. To be eligible, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s team members need only to have worked with the company for the last six months and remain in good standing with the company through completion of their education. College tuition is paid upfront by the company. If there is a facility where a college is not conveniently located, the companies will provide an online community college option.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

By Tucker 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.

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