READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 4th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Ag Economy Barometer Holds Steady

The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer leveled off after two months of sharp declines. The July reading is 134, down only three points from June. Both producers’ sentiment regarding current and future conditions also dropped. The Index of Current Conditions dropped six points to a reading of 143, primarily due to weaker crop prices. The Index of Future Expectations dropped two points to 130. This month’s sentiment index marked the lowest barometer reading since July of 2020. Producer sentiment regarding their farms’ financial condition was more optimistic when prices for corn, soybeans, and wheat were surging last fall, winter, and into the early spring. Still, recent sentiment readings suggest farmers remain cautiously optimistic about financial conditions on their farms. The Farm Financial Performance Index, which asks producers about expectations for their farms’ financial performance this year compared to last year, improved three points to a reading of 99. That’s 43 percent higher than July of 2020. The Farm Capital Investment Index declined for the fourth consecutive month, dropping four points to a reading of 50 as farmers plan to reduce their farm building and grain bin purchases for the upcoming year. Over half the producers indicated they expected a rise in the price of inputs by at least four percent during the year ahead.

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Barchart Raises U.S. Crop Forecasts on Higher Yields, Cuts Canadian Wheat Prediction

Barchart released its August 2021 Yield and Production forecasts for U.S. crops. “Our forecasts for U.S. field crop production have been revised higher on the back of increased yield expectations for both corn and soybeans and are now broadly in line with USDA’s most recent predictions,” says Keith Peterson of Barchart. The U.S. corn forecast is 15 billion bushels on a yield of 180.3 bushels per acre. That’s compared to USDA’s 15.1 billion bushels of production and 179.5 bushels per acre. Barchart predicts U.S. soybean production will be 4.4 billion bushels on a yield of 51 bushels per acre. This compares to USDA’s forecast of 4.48 billion bushels and 50.8 bushels per acre. The company predicts the U.S. Hard Red Winter Wheat yield will be 45.5 bushels per acre, compared to USDA’s yield forecast of 53.6 bushels per acre, including all winter wheat varieties. “We’ve cut our Canadian production forecasts for both soybeans and wheat, with the Spring Wheat forecast down almost 10 percent from July,” Petersen says. “This comes on the back of severe drought conditions across the Canadian prairies.” Their Canadian wheat forecast is for 816 million bushels, and the soybean forecast is for 225.2 million bushels, with a yield of 42.6 bushels per acre.

**********************************************************************************************    EU/U.S. Plan to End Steel Tariffs Good News for Agriculture

The U.S. and the European Union plan to settle the dispute about longstanding steel and aluminum tariffs by November 1. Capital Press says it’s good news for America’s steel industry, and that indirectly is good news for agriculture. Conversations about Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act relating to steel and aluminum tariffs have been moving forward, and an EU trade official told Politico that,” Both sides have confirmed readiness to find a solution by November 1.” The original agreement deadline was December 31. If the agreement leads to a limitation on the volume of EU steel coming into the U.S. market, that could impact American agricultural manufacturers and farmers. Because of duties on imported steel under the Trump and Biden administrations, U.S. steel prices in 2021 are at record highs. That’s good for American steel manufacturers but difficult for agricultural equipment manufacturers and farmers. What happens in the fall conversations could influence the price of steel, although any decision will only be binding on the U.S. and EU, not China or any of the other major steel exporters around the world.

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Senate Subcommittee Approves FY22 Bill with Disaster Aid

The Senate Ag Appropriations Committee approved a $25.85 billion fiscal-year 2022 bill for the Agriculture Department and related agencies, including $7 billion in disaster aid. Subcommittee Chair Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin says the bipartisan legislation is a product of Democrats and Republicans working together to support a stronger and more resilient ag economy that works for farmers, ranchers, and families in rural communities. “This bipartisan legislation will drive economic opportunities to farmers and invest in the long-term health of our working lands,” Baldwin says. “It will also invest in broadband and ensure that people facing challenging times have tools to move towards nutrition, health, and housing security.” The bill also includes investments to support the Dairy Business Innovation Program, Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, and research priorities for dairy, specialty crops, and organic farmers. The fiscal year 2022 appropriation bill includes $2.5 billion more than the 2020 funding levels. The full Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the legislation on Wednesday. The disaster assistance funds will help producers who suffered losses due to drought, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and other qualifying disasters during 2020 and 2021.

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Competitive Meat Market Bill Introduced in House, Senate

Legislation to create tax incentives supporting small and mid-sized meat processing plants was introduced by Republicans in the House and Senate. The Hagstrom Report says the goal of the bill is to help cattle producers compete for better prices. A news release says the Feed America by Incentivizing Rural Meat Packing (FAIR) Act says that the bill will make sure the nation’s cattle producers get a level playing field and fair prices for their products, as well as lower prices for consumers in their local grocery stores. “The success of the Kansas economy relies heavily on the cattle industry at every step from pasture to plate,” says Kansas Senator Roger Marshall. “We must ensure robust competition at the packing level by providing butcher shops and medium-sized packers more opportunity for success.” Missouri Representative Jason Smith says, “Our cattlemen are some of the hardest working people in the country and deserve access to fair markets. Unfortunately, if the mega meatpackers continue their stranglehold on the market, our hardworking producers don’t stand a chance.” South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson says, “There’s no silver bullet, but several reforms continue to move us in the right direction. The FAIR Meat Packing Act is one of those reforms.”

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FFA Chapters Sharing Ag Education with Local Elementaries

FFA Chapters in states across the country are sharing the story of agriculture with their local elementary students. The National FFA Organization teamed up with Zoetis, the Indiana State Fair, and the LEAP Foundation for an agricultural literacy project that introduced swine production to students. “As a long-time supporter of the National FFA Organization, Zoetis (Zoe-EH-tis) is a proud sponsor of ‘There’s a Pig in my Classroom,’” says Shari Westerfeld, Vice President for U.S. Pork. “This program provides FFA members with a great opportunity to interact with young students, exposing them to FFA and educating them on how pigs are cared for and where pork products come from.” The project allows students to share information on swine production with others and culminates with a virtual field trip to the Fair Oaks Farm Pig Adventure. The FFA Organization says this partnership is an opportunity for their members to introduce agriculture to a younger generation. They hope that members can engage students in telling the agriculture story to others and inspire a future generation of leaders. Students from 20 states ranging from California to West Virginia are involved in the project. The FFA Chapters will teach two pre-lessons, assist with the virtual field trip, and teach one post-lesson.

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.