READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 7th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Predicting Record Farm Exports in 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the fiscal year 2021 will be a good year for American farm exports. In the latest quarterly agricultural trade forecast, the agency says farm exports will total $164 billion, which would be the highest total in history. “U.S. agricultural trade has proven extraordinarily resilient in the face of a global pandemic and economic contraction,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “It’s clear that trade remains a critical engine powering the agricultural economy and the U.S. economy as a whole.” The report projects an increase of $7 billion in trade since the February forecast. USDA notes key factors include record export volumes for several commodities, including corn, soybeans, livestock, poultry, and dairy products. Another major influence is the continued rising demand from China for American ag products. USDA predicts exports to China will be a historic $35 billion. Foreign demand for U.S. corn should remain strong amid unfavorable crop prospects in Brazil and other South American countries, driving projected export totals up another $3.2 billion since February’s forecast to $17.2 billion. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are also predicted to rise, while the only two commodities predicted to see a decline are horticultural exports and processed tree nuts.

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Legislation Introduced to Repeal Cuban Trade Embargo

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) recently introduced legislation that would relax the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. The Neighbor says the legislation’s goal is to open another avenue for profit for American farmers and ranchers. Moran says the current regulations are limiting revenue streams for farmers, ranchers, and even manufacturers. Moran tells the Kansas City Star that the unilateral trade embargo on Cuba blocks American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers from selling into a market just 90 miles from U.S. shores. “At the same time, foreign competitors like China are benefiting at our expense,” Moran says. “This legislation will expand market opportunities for U.S. producers by allowing them to compete on a level playing field with other countries.” If the legislation gets passed, it will repeal all regulations that restrict doing business with Cuba. “Having the opportunity to export crops like wheat, corn, and soybeans to our neighbors down in Cuba would be a win for farming communities across Kansas and around the country,” says Kansas Farm Bureau President Rich Felts. Studies by the U.S. Trade Commission show that lifting the embargo could potentially increase exports by 166 percent and bring an additional $800 million to the U.S. economy over five years.

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Lawmakers Urge Administration to Appeal Damaging Court Ruling

Congressional lawmakers are spearheading a couple of letters to the administration asking the USDA and Department of Justice to appeal a recent federal court ruling. If left unchallenged, they say the ruling will cause tremendous financial harm to American hog farmers starting at the end of this month. The federal court’s decision that takes effect on June 29 struck down a provision of the USDA’s New Swine Inspection System allowing for faster harvest facility line speeds. The system got approved for industry adoption in 2019. At a time when the U.S. faces a much-needed increase in pork harvest capacity, the court order will reduce plant capacity at six plants that are currently running at a quicker harvest pace by as much as 25 percent. “While the economic impact to the packers will be significant, it’s the nation’s small-and-medium-sized farmers who will suffer the greatest harm from upstream impacts,” the lawmakers say in the letters. NPPC President Jen Sorenson thanked the lawmakers who spearheaded the letter and urged other lawmakers to join the growing calls for USDA and the DOJ to quickly intervene and “prevent this carnage to hog farmers.” Producers looking for more information about the impact of the court’s decision can go to www.nppc.org.

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Global Food Prices Hit Highest Mark in Ten Years

Emerging markets across the globe that are struggling to get COVID-19 vaccines may be in for yet another serious challenge: food inflation. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said last week that its global food price index hit its highest mark since September of 2011. As groceries make up a bigger share of their inflation baskets, developing nations will be hit the hardest. For example, in the United Kingdom, food and non-alcoholic drinks make up nine percent of the averages family’s expenditures. However, in Kenya, it’s one-third of the total. A Reuters article says May’s increase was the biggest month-on-month jump since 2010, which might mean social unrest. The rapid tripling of rice prices in 2008 from Thailand, one of the biggest exporters in the world, sparked rioting in West Africa. The cereals part of the FAO index is just below 2008 levels. Experts say after the hardships caused by COVID-19, consumers in emerging markets likely will have lower tolerance levels for rapidly rising prices.

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Indiana’s FFA Leadership Center Hit by Lightning

Lighting struck a building last week at the FFA’s Indiana Leadership Center. The Indy Star says while none of the injuries were considered serious, more than a dozen children were evaluated and two of them got taken to the hospital “out of an abundance of caution.” Emergency dispatchers received a call after lightning struck a wood cabin located at the Center. The caller told officials that no one appeared to be seriously hurt, but several children and adults reported minor pain from being shocked by the strike. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said, “The children involved were not even sure that they’d actually felt something or if it was simply a combination of the extremely loud noise and lights.” Fire crews from several departments reported no damage to the cabin, which is apart from the main FFA Indiana Leadership Center buildings made from metal. Investigators said there didn’t appear to be any fire danger for the structure.

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USDA Investing $1 Billion in Emergency Food Assistance Program

The USDA says it will be investing up to $1 billion into the Emergency Food Assistance Program to help support and expand the emergency food network. The goal is to help food banks and local organizations serve their communities more reliably when the need arises. USDA will enter into cooperative agreements with state, tribal, and local entities to be more efficient in purchasing food from local producers and investing in infrastructure that enables partner organizations to reach underserved communities more effectively. National Farmers Union is pleased with the USDA announcement. NFU President Rob Larew says no one should have to worry about where their next meal might come from. “It doesn’t need to be that way,” he says. “Family farmers and ranchers work hard to feed their communities, and there is more than enough food to go around.” The organization says by strengthening the nutrition safety net, the administration’s initiative would help mitigate any hunger crisis in America. “It would also give our farmers more options for distributing the food they grow,” Larew says.

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.