READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 22nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Repeal RFS

The National Corn Growers Association strongly opposes a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate this week, referred to as the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act. NCGA says the legislation would remove the implied conventional biofuel blending requirement from the Renewable Fuel Standard. NCGA President John Linder states, “This bill is ill conceived and would have a devastating impact on air quality, the diversity of our energy supply, fuel prices and rural economies.” Senate Republicans Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Susan Collins of Maine, and Democrats Dianne Feinstein of California and Bob Menendez of New Jersey introduced the bill. The lawmakers claim the bill would help reduce carbon emissions from fuels by removing the volume requirements for corn ethanol while leaving in place the volume obligations for advanced and cellulosic biofuels and biodiesel. Senator Toomey states, “The RFS drives up the cost of gas and food, harms our environment, and damages engines,” calling the RFS a “backwards policy.”

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USDA Announces More Key Staff Appointments

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday named Daniel Whitley as Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service. Whitley most recently served as Acting Administrator for the USDA branch. Prior to that role, he was the Associate Administrator responsible for leading the agency’s trade policy and market analysis teams. Whitley began his career with the Economic Research Service, working on market access issues in the World Trade Organization. Dr. Basil Gooden was named Director of State Operations for Rural Development. Gooden recently served as a Visiting Scholar in the Sustainable Food Access Core of the Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University. USDA also announced Michael Amato as communications director in the Office of Communications and Marissa Perry as a speechwriter in the Office of Communications. Secretary Vilsack says of the staff additions, “Each is an essential member of our growing team and we are grateful to have them serving in these roles.”

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Midwest Universities Researching Electric Weed Control

Southern Illinois University Carbondale is collaborating on a project testing the use of electricity to control weeds in agricultural settings. Karla Gage, associate professor of weed science and plant biology, is working with researchers Mandy Bish and Kevin Bradley from the University of Missouri on testing The Annihilator 6R30 Weed Zapper. The tool is a patented electric weed control unit mounted to a tractor. The multistate project is funded by the North Central Soybean Research Program with support from the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, who purchased the implement, and includes researchers from Iowa State University, University of Nebraska, Kansas State University and Purdue University. Gage states herbicide resistance means “growers are looking for new weed control tools to use.” While electricity is one alternative, another option researchers are exploring is called harvest weed seed control. In that method, weed seeds are managed or destroyed before they go back into the soil seed bank to germinate the following season.

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Corps Monitors Low Water on Upper Mississippi River, Navigation Continues

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is closely monitoring water levels on the Upper Mississippi River as drought conditions continue across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. However, the low water is not affecting shipping conditions on the river, and navigation continues. Dan Fasching of the St. Paul District states, “Low flow is exactly the conditions for which the locks were built,” adding, “The locks, combined with dredging efforts, are used to maintain navigable depths in the main channel.” The lowest flow recorded at Lock and Dam 2, in Hastings, Minnesota, was in 1976, when the flow fell to only 500 cubic feet per second and navigation continued. The current flow at Lock and Dam 2 is around 3,000 cubic feet per second. Earlier this month, water flows were reduced on the Missouri River at Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota due to drought conditions in the Upper Missouri River basin.

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Restaurant Sales and Prices Increase

Consumers ramped up restaurant spending during the first half of 2021. Restaurant sales posted an increase in June, as consumers continued to burn off their pent-up demand for socialization and experiences, according to the National Restaurant Association. Restaurants registered total sales of $70.6 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in June, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That was up 2.3 percent from May’s sales volume, and represented the fifth solid increase in the last six months. Driven by the steady gains during the first half of 2021, restaurant sales in June were nearly $4.4 billion, or 6.6 percent above the February 2020 pre-pandemic sales volume of $66.2 billion. However, consumers are also paying more to eat out. Rising food costs caused by inflation are forcing many restaurants to choose between eating the increased costs, raising prices or removing items from their menus altogether. Average menu prices have increased more than four percent in the last year.

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Apply by August 20 for Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge

The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, is accepting online applications for the 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge through August 20. The national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies that are providing innovative solutions to either traditional or new and emerging challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Farm Bureau will award a total of $165,000 in startup funds through the competition. Farm Bureau and Farm Credit will select ten startup companies to compete as semi-finalists at the AFBF Convention in January 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. The ten semi-finalist teams will be announced in October. Entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members to qualify as top ten semi-finalists. Applicants who are not Farm Bureau members can join a state Farm Bureau of their choice. Detailed eligibility guidelines, the competition timeline, videos and profiles of past winners, along with the application process, are all available online. Visit fb.org/challenge.

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.