READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, August 19th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Reports on Farm Computer Usage and Ownership

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday released the 2021 Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report. The report is conducted every other year and presents data on farm computer usage, including computer access, ownership or leasing, farm business use, and internet access. The findings show that 82 percent of farms reported having access to the internet, with 98 percent paying for access. In 2021, 29 percent of farms used the internet to purchase agricultural inputs, which increased five percent from 2019. Additionally, 21 percent of farms used the internet to market agricultural activities, increasing two percent from 2019. In 2021, 50 percent of internet-connected farms utilized a broadband connection, while 70 percent of internet-connected farms had access through a cellular data plan. Additionally, 67 percent of farms had a desktop or laptop computer, while 77 percent of farms had a smartphone. USDA collected the data as part of the June Agricultural Survey.

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Steakhouses Struggling to Recover from COVID-19

Steakhouses are struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as the Delta variant of the virus expands, and beef prices are moving higher. Top steakhouses that provide a dining experience and high-priced cuts of beef see the Delta variant as a possible threat to travelers and group events. Several chains say they are better prepared amid the pandemic this year since adding outdoor dining and home delivery, should the latest surge or new government restrictions scare diners away again, according to Reuters. However, sales at high-end chains peaked last month before falling slightly to start August. Meanwhile, government data shows wholesale beef prices are up 40 percent from this time last year. Industry consultant Martin Knapp told Reuters, “We won’t get the lift we had expected before the magnitude of the Delta variant came through.” However, the potential of booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine could help as soon as next month.

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Groups Ask Lowe’s, Home Depot to Pull Roundup from Shelves

A coalition of consumer, health and environmental groups call on Lowe’s and Home Depot to remove Roundup from store shelves. The groups, including Friend of the Earth, claim consumers can’t wait, urging the stores to remove the products now. Bayer last month announced long-term risk mitigation actions to prevent further litigation regarding Roundup. The plan calls for replacing its glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential lawn and garden market with new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients beginning in 2023. Bayer’s decision only applies to consumer markets, as the company will continue selling glyphosate-based formulas for agricultural and professional use. Bayer also asked the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit Hardeman decision this week. The Petition states that the Ninth Circuit’s lenient standard “has distorted [existing law] beyond recognition, and blurs the boundaries between science and speculation with a third category called ‘art,’ or unsupported intuitions purportedly rooted in clinical experience.”

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Researchers Explore Climate, Human and Wildlife Interactions on Rangeland

Researchers in the West are exploring the combined effect of wolves and drought, humans, plants and animals on rangeland in Idaho and Oregon. The University of Idaho is leading the five-year effort. Funded by a $1.6 million National Science Foundation grant, researchers will monitor six sites to learn how drought could affect vegetation in the region and how resulting changes impact elk, deer and livestock, as well as their interactions with predators. Scientists will also explore on a broad scale what effect wolves and drought jointly have on ranching communities. Researcher Sophie Gilbert states, “We’ll look at the interactions between wolves and drought and how those affect wild ungulate populations, as well as livestock and the people who live there.” The research also seeks to determine how decision-makers respond to these multiple sources of stress, and how wildlife and plant forecasting tools resulting from the project, are received and used by ranchers and wildlife managers.

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USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Costs for Organic Certification

Organic producers and handlers can now apply for Department of Agriculture funds to assist with the cost of receiving or maintaining organic certification. Applications for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program are due November 1, 2021. Announced this week, the funds provide cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under USDA’s National Organic Program. Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent during 2021 and any subsequent program year. Producers can be reimbursed for expenses made between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021. For 2021, the program will reimburse 50 percent of a certified operation’s allowable certification costs, up to a maximum of $500 for each category of crops, wild crops, livestock, processing, and state program fees. Organic farmers and ranchers may apply through an FSA county office or a participating state agency.

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Avoid Foodborne Illness During Temporary Power Outages

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is reminding consumers to avoid foodborne illnesses during temporary power outages. The agency Wednesday cited Department of Energy data that found weather-related power outages are up by 67 percent since 2000. With high temperatures this summer, energy consumption is high, which may cause some power grids to experience blackouts, an unexpected loss of power lasting minutes, hours or days. Electricity providers will either ask customers to voluntarily conserve energy at home, or they will schedule a reduced flow of electricity — a brownout — to certain areas of the grid to prevent a complete blackout. If your home experiences a temporary power outage, FSIS says monitor fridge and freezer temperatures. Make sure the refrigerator temperature is at 40 F or below and the freezer is at 0 F or below. Most fridges will keep food safe for up to four hours, while a freezer can keep food safe up to 48 hours.

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.