READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, July 30th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

House Ag Leaders Urge House Vote on Broadband Bill

Leaders of the House Agriculture Committee Thursday called for a full-House vote on a bipartisan rural broadband bill. Chairman David Scott and Ranking Member Glenn GT Thompson requested that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican leadership bring the Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act to the House Floor for a vote. The bill provides USDA with an authorization of $43.2 billion, which received a unanimous committee vote on July 14, 2021. In a letter to House leadership, Scott and Thompson jointly say, “We write today to ask you for your assistance for a floor vote on our bipartisan legislation.” The lawmakers say it is vitally important that USDA, with its unique expertise, experience, and 159-year history serving rural America, provide the leading role in the nation’s rural broadband strategy. Overall, the investments provide opportunities for rural communities to invest in the health and well-being of their communities, incentivize business growth, and expand economic opportunities.

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Dominican Republic Confirmed Positive for African Swine Fever

The Department of Agriculture announced this week that the Dominican Republic has confirmed cases of African swine fever. The cases were confirmed as part of a cooperative surveillance program between the United States and the Dominican Republic. The United States remains free of ASF, an animal disease affecting only pigs with no human health implications, and imports no pork, animal feed or other pork-related products from the Dominican Republic. While the finding is concerning, National Pork Producers Council chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom states, “The United States has significantly bolstered biosecurity to protect the U.S. swine herd since ASF broke in China nearly three years ago.” NPPC urges producers use caution when hosting on-farm visitors from an ASF-positive region, review biosecurity protocols and visit with feed suppliers to discuss the origin of feed ingredients. Additionally, NPPC encourages producers to fill out the Foreign Animal Disease Preparation Checklist and enroll in the Secure Pork Supply program.

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USDA Announces $67 Million to Help Resolve Land Ownership and Succession Issues

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday announced $67 million in competitive loans through the new Heirs’ Property Relending Program. The program aims to help producers and landowners resolve heirs’ land ownership and succession issues. Intermediary lenders, cooperatives, credit unions, and nonprofit organizations, can apply for loans up to $5 million at one percent interest once the Farm Service Agency opens the two-month signup window in late August. After FSA selects lenders, heirs can apply directly to those lenders for loans and assistance. Heirs’ property issues have long been a barrier for producers and landowners to access USDA programs and services. The relending program provides access to capital to help producers find a resolution. Heirs may use the loans to resolve title issues by financing the purchase or consolidation of property interests and financing costs associated with a succession plan. Heirs may not use loans for any land improvement, development purpose, or payment of operating costs.

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Midwest Lawmakers Urge Biden to Consider Biofuels in Environment Agenda

A group of Midwestern Senators urge the Biden administration to consider biofuels like ethanol as part of its environmental agenda. The climate focus by the administration includes a push towards electric vehicles. The lawmakers tell the administration in a letter,” Unfortunately, the promise of homegrown biofuels and our agriculture sector appear to be woefully underrepresented in your administration’s energy, environmental, and transportation agenda.” The group requested a meeting with President Joe Biden and cabinet members to discuss immediate and intermediate steps the administration can take to feature American agriculture and biofuels as part of the energy and environmental agenda. The lawmakers say recent studies have found corn ethanol to have 46 percent lower lifecycle emissions than gasoline. The letter also asks the administration to rigorously implement the Renewable Fuel Standard. Senate Republicans John Thune, Chuck Grassley, Roy Blunt, Jerry Moran, Deb Fischer, Mike Rounds, Joni Ernst, Ben Sasse and Roger Marshall signed the letter.

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USDA Releases Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry

The Department of Agriculture Thursday unveiled an Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry. The report demonstrates that the biobased industry is a substantial generator of economic activity and jobs, and that it has a significant positive impact on the environment. According to the report, in 2017, the biobased products industry supported 4.6 million jobs, contributed $470 billion to the U.S. economy and generated 2.79 jobs in other sectors of the economy for every biobased job. Additionally, biobased products displace approximately 9.4 million barrels of oil annually, and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 12.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents per year. USDA deputy undersecretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced the report on the 10th anniversary of the creation of USDA’s Certified Biobased Product Label. Maxson says, “Biobased products are widely known for having a substantially lower impact on the environment compared to petroleum-based and other non-biobased products.”

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USDA: 2021 Food Prices Rise Slower Than 2020

Retail food prices have increased 1.6 percent in the first six months of 2021, less than the rate over the same period last year. The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service says the 2021 increase is equal to the historical average over the same six months from 2000 to 2019. In the first six months of 2021, prices for five food categories increased at a rate slower than in 2020 and years prior, including eggs, dairy, fresh vegetables, cereals and bakery products, and “other foods.” Conversely, prices for three food categories increased in the first six months of 2021 at a rate faster than in 2020 and in years prior, including fresh fruits, fish and seafood, and fats and oils. Inflationary pressures differ by food category, according to USDA. For example, fresh fruit prices currently are increasing more than four times faster than their historical average rate because of low citrus supplies and increased exports.

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.