READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 23rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senators Want Reasons for Replacing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule

West Virginia Republican Senator Shelly Moore Capito (CAP-ih-toe) and several Republican colleagues want to know why the Biden EPA decided to replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Capito, the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says, “After the administration’s continued commitments to transparency, engagement, and communication with stakeholders and Congress on this issue, the lack of transparency surrounding the decision to abandon this legally defensible and environmentally sound rule is disheartening.” The Republican Senators point out that on a briefing call after announcing the decision to replace the rule, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps of Engineers made several assertions as justification for the move. The agencies say the decision was based on “significant environmental damage” and “ongoing environmental harm,” as well as several implementation challenges. “To date, the limited details provided to support those assertions has contributed to only greater uncertainty for Congress, the states, and regulated entities,” the letter continues. “The agencies haven’t provided a complete analysis to back their assertions.”

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Brazil Corn Harvest Forecast Drops Over Eight Percent

Brazilian farmers will harvest just under 94 million tons of corn this season. A Reuters poll of ten harvest forecasters indicates a fall of 8.5 percent from the last forecast due to a severe drought. Second-crop corn failure will lead to higher imports and lower exports of the crop. The forecasters say Brazil, home to some of the world’s largest meat processors, will need to keep the grain to make it livestock feed. One agribusiness consultant cut her corn export forecast to 22.5 million tons, down from a previous prediction of 32 million tons, and told Reuters she estimates Brazilian corn import needs may reach four million tons. If the dry weather persists, corn yields may fall even further in some of the key corn-producing states in Brazil. In April, a Reuters poll of 11 forecasters predicted a record corn crop of 107 million tons, but poor weather during the development stage damaged that prospect. Brazil’s second-corn crop, which gets planted after the country’s soybeans get harvested at the end of Brazil’s summertime, has been hit hardest by a lack of rainfall.

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Farm Bank Lending Stay Strong in 2020

Despite a global slowdown in 2020 brought on by COVID-19, agricultural lending by U.S. farm banks remained strong at $98.6 billion, just a 1.8 percent drop from the prior year. The American Bankers Association’s annual Farm Bank Performance Report attributes the change to a 6.7 percent decline in agricultural production loans. By contrast, the outstanding loans secured by farmland increased 2.1 percent to $56.7 billion. The report says rising costs, supply and production bottlenecks, price volatility, and a significant increase in federal cash payments depressed demand for agricultural production loans in 2020. Government payments also helped producers pay down existing loan balances. The Chief Economist for the ABA says American farm banks have remained healthy over the past year and continue to play a critical role in supporting farmers and the broader U.S. economy through the turbulence of 2020. The report also says the strong asset quality and capital levels of America’s farm banks will help ensure that they continue to provide support to rural communities. Farm banks also continued to build strong capital reserves throughout 2020 and are well-insulated from risks associated with the agriculture sector. Equity increased nine percent to $52.6 billion.

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Colorado Supreme Court Blocks Livestock Measure

The Supreme Court in Colorado blocked a statewide ballot initiative that would have expanded animal cruelty regulations from appearing on the November 2022 ballot. The Supreme Court says the initiative advances two subjects in its language, violating the state’s single-subject requirement for state statutes. Center Square Dot Com says the proposed ballot measure is called Initiative 16 and would impose new restrictions on animal husbandry that required ranchers to wait at least one-quarter of an animal’s life before sending it to slaughter. Ranchers in violation of the measure may have been charged with a crime. The measure would also have expanded the statutory definition of animal cruelty to include artificial insemination and other penetrations, “however slight.” The court says that the two subjects invite a “potential for the very kind of surprise that the single-subject requirement seeks to guard against.” Voters may not understand that what is called a livestock initiative would also affect the care of all animals or vice versa. Initiative 16 was approved by the state’s Title Board in late April and immediately drew the wrath of rural communities and the state’s agricultural community.

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NBB Highlights Policy Priorities in Letter to Congress

The National Biodiesel Board delivered a letter to Congress signed by more than 50 companies outlining the industry’s policy priorities. The priorities include maintaining tax incentives for low carbon biofuels, supporting infrastructure to deliver more clean fuels to consumers, and optimizing the Renewable Fuel Standard to maximize environmental benefits. “As Congress develops legislation to address the nation’s infrastructure, climate, and economic priorities, we ask that you support the continued growth of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry,” they say in the letter. “U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel producers are meeting America’s need for better, cleaner transportation fuels right now. We are also generating economic, environmental, and health benefits for many states and communities.” The letter highlights the $17 billion annual economic impact of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries  employ more than 65,000 Americans. It also highlights the carbon benefits the industry delivers. Last year, the U.S. used three billion gallons of renewable diesel and biodiesel, which achieved an average 74 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to petroleum diesel. The NBB is hosting a virtual Advocacy Day Fly-In today (Wednesday).

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FSA Accepting Nominations for County Committee Members

The Farm Service Agency is accepting nominations for county committee members. Nomination forms for the 2021 election must be postmarked or received by the local FSA office by August 2. Elections will take place in certain Local Administrative Areas for these members who’ll make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. “We need enthusiastic, diverse leaders to serve other agricultural producers locally on FSA County Committees,” says FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Just as our nation’s agriculture industry is diverse from coast to coast, so are the viewpoints and experiences that you can represent on your local committee.” He also says now is the time to step up and truly make an impact on how federal farm programs are administered at the local level to reach all producers fairly and equitably. Producers who participate or cooperate in a USDA program and reside in the LAA that’s up for election this year may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. Around the nation, more than 7,700 dedicated members of the agricultural community are serving on FSA county committees.

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.