READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, July 21st

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USDA Announces Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers

The Department of Agriculture is providing up to $200 million to provide relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that experienced losses due to COVID-19. Announced Tuesday, the funding is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance through USDA’s Farm Service Agency from July 22 through October 15, 2021. The Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program is administered by FSA in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, “the pandemic caused a major disruption for loggers and timber haulers including lack of access to wood processing mills.” The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 authorized assistance for the timber industry. Timber harvesting and hauling businesses that have experienced a gross revenue loss of at least ten percent between January 1 and December 1, 2020, compared to 2019, are encouraged to apply. The maximum amount that a person or legal entity may receive directly is $125,000.

Argentina Reducing Biodiesel Blends

Argentina is reducing its biodiesel blends, a move that will result in more exports of Argentine soy oils. Argentina is the top soy oil exporter globally, and last week lawmakers approved a measure to allow reductions in the amount of soy-based biofuel mixed into domestically consumed diesel. A government official tells Reuters that because of the reduction, more oil will be exported, adding, “That could impact international soy oil prices, considering the large portion of the international market that Argentina has.” The new law, aimed at guaranteeing the sustainable use of biofuels in diesel and gasoline, foresees a minimum use of biodiesel of five percent, which could drop to three percent, in diesel for sale to the public, from the previous ten percent. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Argentine soy oil averaged $1,181 per metric ton last month, versus $1,233 in Brazil and $1,608 in the United States.

More Farmers Join Discrimination Suit Against USDA

Farmers from Minnesota and North Dakota recently joined a discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture. The group behind the lawsuit alleges a USDA COVID-19 relief program for socially disadvantaged farmers discriminates based on race. A lead attorney for the case filed in North Dakota tells the Grand Forks Herald, “Their concern is the inequality and discrimination against them just on the basis of their race or skin color.” In similar lawsuits, white farmers argue the program violates their constitutional rights. USDA announced the program in April that includes $4 billion of loan assistance for Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian American farmers. The funds are on hold via court injunctions, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defends the program as addressing “longstanding racial equity issues within the department and across agriculture.” The attorney representing North Dakota farmers claims the federal government has two options, either amend the program to allow aid to all farmers, or to disband the program entirely.

Corteva Agriscience Leveraging Mobile Robots to Walk Row Crops

Corteva Agriscience is working to take agricultural robotics to new heights using a Spot robot from Boston Dynamics. The company is among the first in agriculture to use this platform to ‘walk’ between rows of corn, sunflowers and other crops. The robot has potential applications in field testing of both new seed and crop protection solutions with its ability to autonomously collect data, support the application of new crop protection discovery molecules, and inspect operations. Spot’s many capabilities can help Corteva better understand complex phenotypes to support its research and development selection processes. Spot robots automate sensing and inspection, capture data, and explore without boundaries, making operations safer, more efficient and predictable. Corteva is also collaborating with Trimble for the initial proof-of-concept and to integrate precise GPS guidance technologies with the platform. The jointly developed solution combines the mobility of the Spot robot with Trimble’s autonomous navigation capabilities and Corteva’s approach to helping farmers overcome agriculture’s most pressing challenges.

Chicken Marketers Urged to Innovate to Meet Needs Emerging from the Pandemic

With an estimated 20 percent of the workforce working at home beyond 2021, there will be 30 million meal occasions daily that used to be lunches consumed away from home. According to research presented at the 2021 Chicken Marketing Summit this week, the research presents an unprecedented opportunity for innovation for the poultry industry. The National Chicken Council and WATT Global Media presented the results of a study that focused on anticipated U.S. consumer behavior post-pandemic to identify opportunities for chicken to gain market share in home food preparation and the upcoming foodservice revolution. The results found 91 percent of respondents plan to continue eating fresh chicken at home, and 30 percent said they will eat more chicken than pre-pandemic. The National Chicken Council says the industry needs innovation to meet evolving needs and emerging occasions as more consumers anticipate doing more meal prep at home post-pandemic. That includes leveraging e-commerce platforms for food on demand.

American Pistachio Growers Kicks Off New Facebook Live Series

American Pistachio Growers, armed with data that pistachios are packed with many benefits for active bodies and minds, is inaugurating a new 2021-22 Facebook Live Series. The series, Friday Fuel-Up, seeks to engage some of the most energetic and interesting people in the world with the question, What fuels you? The monthly series, which debuts August 6 and continues the first Friday of every month, is hosted by nutritionist Dr. Mike Roussell (Roo-cell), a noted author and nutrition advisor to Men’s Health Magazine. Guests include a NASA nutritionist, the Denver Bronco’s nutritionist and an Olympic gold medal athlete. 2022 guests include Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey, an international women’s soccer star and pro quarterback Josh Allen. Audiences can join the conversations live starting August 6 on the American Pistachios Facebook page. Programs will begin at 10 am Pacific on the first Friday of every month, and also be made available on Instagram and YouTube.

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.