READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, August 17th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Updates SNAP Benefits

The Department of Agriculture Monday released a re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, used to calculate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits. As a result, the average SNAP benefit – excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief – will increase more than 20 percent for Fiscal Year 2022. As directed by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill, and with the expressed support of President Biden’s January 22 Executive Order – USDA conducted a review of the Thrifty Food Plan. The resulting cost adjustment is the first time the purchasing power of the plan has changed since it was first introduced in 1975, reflecting notable shifts in the food marketplace and consumers’ circumstances. The evaluation concluded that the cost of a nutritious, practical, cost-effective diet is 21 percent higher than the current Thrifty Food Plan. As a result, the average SNAP benefit, excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief, will increase by $36.24 per person, per month.

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Vilsack, Tai, Meet with Ag Policy Advisory Committee

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai released a statement following a meeting with the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee last week. Ambassador Tai detailed how the Biden-Harris Administration’s trade agenda aligns with the objectives of the agricultural sector. The Ambassador discussed how USTR is working to support the ability of U.S. agricultural producers to expand access to foreign markets and a new customer base, according to the statement. Secretary Vilsack emphasized the importance of promoting exports and finding new overseas markets, and that agricultural trade is tied to the health of rural economies. Vilsack provided an overview of priorities, including trade with China, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement implementation, and trade with the EU. The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee is managed jointly by the Department of Agriculture and USTR. The committee includes various leaders of commodity and farm groups and agribusiness organizations, focused on ensuring U.S. trade policy and trade negotiating objectives reflect U.S. public- and private-sector interests.

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Shipments of Plant-Based Proteins to Pizza Restaurants up 56 Percent

Pizza has repeatedly ranked in the top foods ordered at U.S. restaurants. According to The NPD Group, in the quarter ending June 2021, there were 1.2 billion servings of pizza ordered, up four percent from the same quarter last year. Units of plant-based protein and ingredients shipped from foodservice distributors to pizza operators increased by 56 percent in the second quarter compared to a year ago, reports NPD. Research shows that about 20 percent of consumers want to increase the amount of plant-based proteins they consume, and this sentiment has held steady throughout the pandemic. Pizzas enable chefs and operators to easily customize with plant-based ingredients beginning with cauliflower crusts. Shipments of cauliflower dough and crusts to pizza operators increased by 46 percent in the quarter ending June compared to the same quarter year ago. Unit shipments of plant-based proteins to pizza operators, like Italian sausage, chicken, and imitation beef, grew by double-digits in the quarter.

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Fuel Prices Ease as Oil Falls

The nation’s average gas price declined 0.5 cents per gallon from a week ago to $3.17 per gallon, while the average price of diesel fell a penny in the last week and stands at $3.28 per gallon. The average gas price is unchanged from a month ago and $1.01 per gallon higher than a year ago. Gas Buddy’s Patrick De Haan states, “As the number of Covid cases continues to surge globally, oil prices continue to be under pressure due to some countries instituting travel and movement limitations,” as oil has continued to see heavy selling pressure. With the U.S. summer driving season ending and with additional high-profile companies delaying their return-to-office plans, there is some level of anxiety that fuel demand will trail off into the autumn as OPEC continues to raise oil production, leading prices to crumble. U.S. retail gasoline demand fell slightly after reaching its highest level of 2021 last week.

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Farm Credit’s Commitment to Young, Beginning and Small Farmers Grew in 2020  

Farm Credit institutions increased their support of young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers across the country in 2020. The Farm Credit Administration reported the increase last week. In 2020, Farm Credit made 65,800 loans to producers whose age was less than 36 years, compared to 49,100 in 2019 and 46,680 in 2018. Similarly, the dollar amount of loans outstanding to young farmers grew to $33.6 billion at yearend 2020 compared to $31 billion at yearend 2019. Over the past three years, Farm Credit made more than 160,000 loans to young agricultural producers for $33.7 billion. Meanwhile, over the past three years, Farm Credit made nearly a quarter of a million loans to ag producers with ten years or less of experience to help them get started in production agriculture. And, at the end of 2020, nearly half, 49.8 percent, of all loans outstanding in the Farm Credit System were to ag producers with less than $250,000 in farm sales.  

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2022 Farmers’ Almanac Released This Week

The 2022 Farmers’ Almanac hits store shelves this week and contains 184 pages of helpful tips, calendars, and guides to help you plan your year ahead. It also features weather forecasts for the next 16 months, plus useful advice on ways to take cues from nature to live a more sustainable lifestyle. editor Pete Geiger states, “we encourage readers to take time to head outdoors and reconnect with the environment by growing their own food, shopping locally, and using natural remedies whenever possible.” But even though “farmers” is in the title, the publication reaches far beyond them. The Almanac and its readers have evolved. No longer does the Farmers’ Almanac contain husbandry tips for farm animals, but it does suggest the best days to cut your hair and lawn to increase growth, quit a bad habit, grow basil, and brew beer. Learn more online at FarmersAlmanac.com

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.