READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, June 25th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Ag Groups Welcome Senate Passage of GSCA

Agriculture groups responded favorably to the Senate passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act Thursday. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “We appreciate lawmakers putting aside their differences to work on bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing farmers and ranchers.” The legislation is supported by more than 75 agriculture, food, forestry and environmental groups that are part of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance. AFBF says the legislation provides clarity and guidance for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners interested in voluntary participation in private carbon credit markets. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says of the legislation, “It will be no small task to curtail this existential threat – but by leveraging the full potential of every sector, including agriculture, we have the ability to protect our planet.” Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose calls the bill an “important step” to developing a voluntary, market-based system for carbon markets.

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Farm Debt Declines Further and Credit Stress Eases

Agricultural debt at commercial banks continued to decline in the first quarter of 2021, and farm loan performance improved. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank this week released the data that shows both real estate and production loans decreased, reducing farm debt by more than five percent from a year ago. The reduction in agricultural loan balances was less pronounced among banks most concentrated in agriculture, driven by modest growth in real estate debt. Delinquency rates on farm debt dropped notably from a year ago and, alongside strong earnings, profitability at agricultural banks improved from the end of last year. The outlook for agriculture remains strong heading into the summer months. However, increases in production costs and persistent drought in many regions lingered as concerns. And profitability for cattle producers remained narrow. Overall, strength in aggregate conditions and lasting support of government aid and lending programs have continued to limit increases in farm debt and ease agricultural credit stress.

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Florida Judge Blocks Debt Relief for Minority Farmers

A federal judge in Florida this week blocked the Department of Agriculture’s debt relief program for minority farmers. A white farmer in Florida challenged the program, facing farm loans and financial hardship during the pandemic. The farmer claims the debt relief program discriminated against him by race. A District Judge this week blocked the $4 billion program, ruling the farmer had established a “strong likelihood” of the policy violating his right to equal protection under the law, according to Reuters. A separate judge in Wisconsin granted a temporary restraining order on the program earlier this month. USDA is defending the debt relief program, saying USDA employees and programs have discriminated against socially disadvantaged farmers by denying loans and delaying payments. House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, A Black Democrat from Georgia, weighed in on the lawsuits earlier this week. Scott says, “I strongly support and thank Secretary Vilsack for standing up and fighting for this critical, urgent and much-needed legislation.”

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Experimental Vaccine Protect Cattle from Johne’s Disease

Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service Thursday announced a new experimental vaccine to protect cattle from the bacterium that causes Johne’s (yo-knee’s) disease. The disease is a chronic intestinal disorder that can cause diarrhea, weight loss, poor health and sometimes death in cattle. In the United States, Johne’s disease is most prevalent in dairy herds, costing the industry more than $220 million annually. Researchers created a so-called cocktail of four proteins from the bacteria to create the vaccine. Encouraged by test results with mice, the researchers scaled up their efforts to produce the four proteins and combine them into a single vaccine “cocktail” that could be administered to calves. Trials with dairy calves indicate the vaccine did not disappoint, rendering the young animals immune to the disease over the course of a year of monitoring. The researchers note the need for additional efficacy trials and welcome collaboration with an industry partner to further explore the patented vaccine cocktail’s commercial potential. 

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USDA to Investing $10 Million to Support Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry

The Department of Agriculture is providing $10 million to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry through voluntary conservation practices in ten targeted states. Available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the funding will help producers plan and implement voluntary conservation practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate climate change. Producers in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin can apply for the funding. Each state will determine its own signup period, with signups expected to begin on or around June 24 in most states. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which administers EQIP, selected states based on demand for additional support for climate-smart practices. A USDA official states, “Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are the best stewards of our lands and waters, and they play a critical role in climate change mitigation,” The pilot will be expanded across all states and programs in fiscal year 2022.

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Biden Extends Moratorium of Residential Evictions in USDA Multifamily Housing Communities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday extended the moratorium on evictions of Americans who live in multifamily housing communities supported by the Department of Agriculture. The extension grants the moratorium through July 31, 2021. USDA Rural Development undersecretary Justin Maxson says the action gives tenants at USDA-supported properties “essential relief while the Department extends the emergency rental assistance provided by the American Rescue Plan Act.” Beyond July 31, 2021, USDA will continue to offer emergency assistance to USDA multifamily housing property owners and tenants who are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic. USDA’s Multi-Family Housing Programs provide affordable multifamily rental housing in rural areas by financing projects geared for very-low-income families, the elderly, people with disabilities, and domestic farmworkers. USDA also extends assistance through loan guarantees for affordable rental housing for very-low- to moderate-income residents in rural areas and towns. Additionally, USDA provides grants to organizations to repair or rehabilitate housing for eligible families.

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.