READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, August 5th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USTR Tai Meeting with Western Farmers

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai meets today (Thursday) with farmers and ranchers in the Pacific Northwest. Tai and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene, a Washington state Democrat, will tour the Washington State University Breadlab and participate in a roundtable with agriculture and farm stakeholders. The USTR office says the roundtable in Burlington, Washington, will discuss how trade can help Washington’s agriculture and farm industries. A second roundtable planned later in the day in Seattle will focus on a worker-centered trade policy. Tai visited with farmers in Wisconsin last month. The Biden administration has yet to name a Chief Agriculture Negotiator, and Tai has largely discussed ag issues with trading partners herself. Lawmakers asked for a nomination during a congressional hearing last week, and earlier in July, sent a letter to President Joe Biden. The lawmakers wrote, “A Chief Agricultural Negotiator would help expand our agricultural trade and enhance the agricultural economy of our country.”

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American Bakers Association Seeks RFS Rollback

U.S. bread and donut makers want the Biden administration to roll back biofuels targets, claiming the Renewable Fuel Standard could raise the cost of their products. The American Bakers Association confirmed to Reuters association leaders met with the Environmental Protection Agency last week, requesting reduced biofuel blending mandates. Of particular interest to the industry is soy and canola oil, used for biofuels and food ingredients. The association seeks biofuel targets at a level last seen in 2019, or no new growth in mandates. EPA is again delayed in releasing new biofuel volume requirements for the upcoming year. Roughly 40 percent of U.S. soy oil goes to biofuels, with the rest for food ingredients. In response, National Biodiesel Board Vice President Kurt Kovarik told Reuters, “Undercutting the Renewable Fuel Standard is not a solution,” citing trade wars, pandemic disruptions, and adverse weather impacts to agriculture. The American Bakers Association represents companies such as Kroger, Krispy Kreme, and others.

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Union Raises Concerns Over Tyson Vaccine Mandate

A meatpacking union representing 24,000 Tyson Foods workers is concerned over the new Tyson vaccine mandate. United Food and Commercial Workers International President Marc Perrone says, “While we support and encourage workers getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus…it is concerning that Tyson is implementing this mandate before the FDA has fully approved the vaccine.” The union urged all frontline businesses to negotiate vaccine policies directly with their frontline workers and provide paid vaccine leave so that workers can get vaccinated without worrying about losing a paycheck. Tyson provides a $200 bonus for workers to get vaccinated and up to four hours of pay for getting vaccinated outside of work or through an external provider. Roughly 56,000 of Tyson‘s 120,000 employees are vaccinated. Office workers face a deadline of October 1 to be vaccinated fully, while plant employees have until November 1. Since February, Tyson Foods has hosted more than 100 vaccination events for employees.

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Grassley, Smith Introduce Healthy Dog Importation Act

Senators Chuck Grassley and Tina Smith Wednesday introduced the Healthy Dog Importation Act. The Iowa Republican and Minnesota Democrat say the bill would expand USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services program by providing additional tools to monitor and safeguard the health of dogs imported into the country. Grassley states the bill “will expand an already existing program to ensure that all dogs entering the country are healthy and not at risk of spreading dangerous diseases.” Smith adds, “Mitigating the spread of foreign diseases in dogs will help keep domestic and wild animals healthy.” In addition, the legislation would require every imported dog to have a certificate of veterinary inspection from a licensed veterinarian. The health certificate must certify that the dog has received all required vaccinations and demonstrated negative test results. This legislation would also create an online database containing documentation and import permits to ensure dogs entering the U.S. are being properly screened.

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Study: U.S. Pork Industry Needs More Access to Foreign-Born Workforce

A new study says the U.S. pork industry needs access to more foreign-born labor to remain sustainable. The study, authored by Iowa State University economists, was recently updated to reflect the current state of the labor market. The National Pork Producers Council says the study underscores the urgent need for agriculture labor reform. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, “The U.S. pork industry has a critical labor shortage that needs to be urgently addressed.” According to the study, from 2001-2020, employment in the U.S. pork industry grew by an annual rate of 1.5 percent, four times faster than employment growth in all U.S. industries. Despite expanded wages and jobs, the U.S. pork industry faces a significant domestic labor shortage due to a dwindling and aging rural labor population where hog farms and harvest facilities are located. From 2014-2019, the rural labor force shrank in five of the eight top pork-producing states, according to the study.

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USDA Extends Beef Checkoff Petition Drive Deadline

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week granted an extension to organizers of the National Beef Checkoff Petition Drive until October 3, 2021. The extension grants extra time for organizers to collect the necessary signatures on the petition calling for a producer vote of the National Beef Checkoff Program. The South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association and Kansas-based Stratford Angus organized and initiated a petition drive that began July 2, 2020. The Department of Agriculture originally established a 12-month period for the collection of the required 88,269 signatures. R-CALF USA and other groups have helped collect signatures but due to COVID-19-related restrictions, were unable to meet with cattle producers for several months in locations such as livestock auction yards and public meeting places. As a result, the organizers and assisting groups were relying upon an online petition site to collect signatures. That site, located at www.checkoffvote.com, currently has 18,790 signed petitions.

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.