READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, June 8th

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USTR Tai Participates in Meeting with Asia Pacific Trade Partners

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, over the weekend, met with Asia-Pacific trade ministers while also commenting on the U.S.-China trade relationship. Before the meeting, Tai said regarding trade with China, “It’s a relationship in trade that has been marked by significant imbalance — that is in terms of performance, but also in terms of opportunity and openness of our markets to each other.” The number of talks between the U.S. and China appear to be increasing, with no public signs of progress, according to Bloomberg News. Tai met with members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, largely focusing on trade issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of note, the members state, “While the agriculture sector has been resilient and international markets have remained relatively stable during the pandemic, it remains one of the most protected sectors in global trade.” The members say they share a view towards achieving substantial progressive reductions in support and protection for agricultural products.

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May a Busy month for Ag Options Trading

CME Group reports the Grain and Oilseed option complex averaged 3.9 million contracts of open interest, the highest mark ever in the month of May. The complex also had an average daily volume of 351,000 contracts, the second-highest mark in May. July Corn ended May with a 41 percent implied volatility, the highest level going back to 2007. July added more than 90,000 contacts of open interest reaching 636,000 contracts, with the $7 calls having the most volume and open interest change. On May 11, Soybean Oil, Soybean Meal, Lean Hog, Live Cattle, Class III Milk, and an Ag broad-based index were added to the suite of CME Group Volatility Indexes. CME Group says the tool is specifically useful in the current Grain and Oilseed markets to understand the change in implied volatility over time and in relation to other Ag products. The indexes are seen as a key indicator of forward risk expectations, noted as implied volatility.

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NPPC CEO to Retire This Year

After 31 years of service with the National Pork Producers Council, including the last 20 as CEO, Neil Dierks has announced his plan to retire by the end of the year. However, Dierks will remain in his role as CEO until the search process for a new CEO is completed and will serve as a strategic counselor during a transition period. NPPC president Jen Sorenson says, “Over the last 40 years, Neil has made countless, lasting contributions to the U.S. pork industry and established NPPC as a leading national advocacy organization.” Dierks started his career in the pork industry when he joined the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1981 to manage the Iowa Pork Congress. The NPPC Board of Directors has assembled a search committee made up of producer leaders and retained Korn Ferry to lead the search for a new CEO. The NPPC board expects to complete the search by the end of the year.

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PLC Renews Call for Wild Horse Management

The Public Lands Council late last week renewed its call for responsible, proactive management of horses and burros managed by the Bureau of Land Management. PLC says recent activist efforts seek to exploit political transitions and undermine progress toward improved management of wild horse and burro populations on federal lands. PLC adds the recent flurry of misinformation, and inflammatory rhetoric is simply an attempt to hide the truth, being, “there are too many horses and burros on the land, and ecosystems, wildlife, and multiple uses pay the price.” Based on environmental analysis that examines forage conditions, water availability and other factors on the landscape, BLM set a nationwide “Appropriate Management Level” of approximately 26,690 horses. Conservative estimates place the number of horses actually on the range at 95,114, which is more than three times the environmentally driven stocking rate set by the federal agency. Estimates from on-the-ground monitoring suggests the population far exceeds 100,000 horses.

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Food Service Sector Needs Workers to Meet Demand

The foodservice industry is opening nationwide with relaxed restrictions following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, worker shortages are a growing problem, as restaurants must compete with better-paying jobs and unemployment benefits. Operators are raising wages, offering first-day bonuses and some McDonald’s locations are even giving new employees iPhones. The foodservice sector provides significant demand for food and agriculture products, which shifted to home dining options or take out during the pandemic. Now, pent-up consumers are looking to dining out, but the sector is behind demand. Federal data shows the foodservice industry added 186,000 jobs last month. Restaurant Business Online reports restaurants now employ 10.8 million workers, recovering 4.5 million workers from the depths of the pandemic. However, the sector remains 1.5 million workers short of pre-pandemic highs. The labor force participation rate was 61.6 percent in May, 1.7 percent lower than last February, suggesting several people have left the workforce and are not yet returning.

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Teachers Across the Country Share FFA and Agriculture Opportunities

Agriculture educators this summer are sharing the story of FFA and agriculture education in their states and communities. More than 82 agricultural education teachers will continue to share the story as part of the National Teachers Ambassadors for FFA program. The program, which began in 2016, provides teachers with the tools to share information about FFA and agricultural education with their communities. Teachers selected for the program receive intensive training in June and July to learn and collaborate on educational resources. Similar to last year, this year’s training will be virtual. National FFA Organization chief program officer Christine White says, “Through this program, we equip teachers with the tools they need to be successful in not only developing future leaders but also in telling their stories.” The ambassadors will present workshops and work with teachers from across the country to brainstorm and share ideas. The ambassadors will also serve as a voice of the organization to teachers across the country.

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.