NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

USDA: Corn and soybean production up in 2021

Increased acreage and higher yields for corn and soybeans led to record high soybean production and near-record high corn production, according to the 2021 Crop Production Annual Summary. U.S. corn growers produced 15.1 billion bushels, up seven percent from 2020 and the second-highest on record. Corn yield in the United States is estimated at a record high 177.0 bushels per acre, 5.6 bushels above the 2020 yield. Area harvested for grain, at 85.4 million acres, is up four percent from 2020. Soybean production for 2021 totaled a record-high 4.44 billion bushels, up five percent from 2020. With record-high yields in 21 states, the average soybean yield is estimated at 51.4 bushels per acre, the second-highest on record. For 2021, all cotton production is up 21 percent from 2020, at 17.6 million 480-pound bales. The U.S. yield is estimated at 849 pounds per acre, up two pounds from last year’s yield.

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Latest Consumer Price Index Released

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.5 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.8 percent in November. The all-items index increased 7.0 percent before seasonal adjustment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. The food index increased 0.5 percent in December, following larger increases in each of the three previous months. Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased in December. The index for fruits and vegetables increased the most, rising 0.9 percent over the month as the index for fresh fruits increased 1.8 percent. The index for nonalcoholic beverages rose 0.8 percent in December, and the index for dairy increased 0.7 percent. The index for other food at home rose 0.6 percent, and the index for cereals and bakery products increased 0.4 percent. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs declined in December, falling 0.4 percent after rising at least 0.7 percent in each of the last seven months.

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Smaller Loans Limit Agricultural Lending

Smaller sized loans limited agricultural lending activity at the end of 2021. The Survey of Terms of Lending to Farmers shows non-real estate agricultural loans at commercial banks decreased by 13 percent in the fourth quarter, and the yearly average was the lowest since 2012. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank released the data Wednesday and says the decline was driven by a sharp drop in operating loans and lending at banks with the largest farm loan portfolios. Despite an increase in the number of all types of loans, the average size of all non-real estate and operating loans was more than 20 percent and 30 percent less than a year ago, respectively. Despite intensifying concerns about rising input costs impacting producer returns, commodity prices remained elevated and supported profit opportunities through the end of the year. Higher costs are likely to put upward pressure on demand for credit, but strong farm income and working capital could also supplement financing for some borrowers.

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EPA Renews Enlist Product Registrations with New Control Measures

The Environmental Protection Agency this week issued seven-year registrations for two herbicide products, Enlist Duo and Enlist One. The new product labels incorporate robust control measures to protect non-target plants and animals, according to the EPA. Both products were set to expire in January. The new control measures include prohibiting Enlist product application when rainfall is expected to occur within 48 hours and when soil can no longer absorb water, and prohibiting irrigation that would result in runoff within 48 hours of application. EPA will also require mandatory education and training materials that emphasize the importance of pollinators and pollinator habitats. Other measures include minimizing Enlist product application when soybean and cotton crops are in bloom to reduce risks to insect pollinators, such as honey bees, and prohibiting use in counties where EPA identified risks to on-field listed species that use corn, cotton or soybean fields for diet and/or habitat.

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Growth Energy Announces 2022 Policy Priorities

Growth Energy Wednesday released an outline of the organization’s 2022 top federal priorities for the U.S. biofuel industry. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says of the policy objectives, “If we want to decarbonize the transportation sector, we must use all the tools in the toolbox – including plant-based biofuels like ethanol, which reduce carbon emissions by 46 percent compared to gasoline.” Specifically, Skor highlighted the association’s key priorities, focusing on opportunities for regulators and policymakers to promote cleaner fuel choices, reduce carbon emissions, and protect the environment. The objectives incorporate restoring certainty to the Renewable Fuels Standard, including finalizing strong Renewable Volume Obligations for 2021 and 2022, rejecting improper and illegal retroactive cuts to the already finalized 2020 RVOs and rejecting all pending and improperly granted small refinery exemptions. Other priorities for Growth Energy include eliminating barriers to higher blends of low-carbon ethanol, and utilizing biofuels as a low-cost pathway to achieve climate goals.

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USDA Invests $9M to Expand Reach and Increase Adoption of Climate-Smart Practices

The Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday a $9 million investment in new Cooperative Extension and USDA Climate Hubs partnerships. The investment seeks to bolster climate research and connect and share climate-smart solutions directly with the agricultural community.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the partnerships “will strengthen climate research efforts and accelerate the development, adoption and application of science-based, climate-smart practices that benefit everyone.” The investment is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. The new program area provides effective, translatable, and scalable approaches to address climate change through regional partnerships, including the USDA Climate Hubs, and further extends outreach through organizations such as the Cooperative Extension Service. The initial six funded projects include research efforts at the University of California-Davis, Pennsylvania State University, Montana State, Ohio State University, the Desert Research Institute, and the USDA Caribbean Climate Hub.

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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.