NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

U.S., UK Reach New Section 232 Agreement

The U.S. and United Kingdom reached a new Section 232 agreement last week regarding steel and aluminum imports from the UK. That’s good news for America’s farmers because the 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. corn was zeroed out, allowing U.S. corn farmers to renew their trading relationship with Britain. “This agreement will provide opportunities to expand free and fair trade and strengthen our relationship with a great ally,” says U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “This agreement lifts the retaliatory tariffs on more than $500 million of U.S. products, including corn.” USGC also says this is a great opportunity because the UK is the fifth-largest economy but produces less than 60 percent of its food needs. That makes it a potentially lucrative market for U.S. agriculture and feed grains in particular. “This is vital for global economic development and the profitability of U.S. agriculture,” LeGrand adds. The agreement is effective June 1.

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Canada to Resume Exporting Potatoes into the U.S.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says Canada will soon resume exporting table stock potatoes from Prince Edward Island into the contiguous United States. The Hagstrom Report says the National Potato Council is unhappy with the news and worried about potato wart disease spreading from the island into the U.S., where it currently doesn’t exist. An APHIS news release says the agency determined PEI potatoes for consumption only may once again be exported to the U.S. under specified conditions that will pose little risk of introducing potato wart disease into the country. The potato council says, “We are dismayed to learn that USDA is allowing PEI potato shipments into the U.S. to resume before finishing soil tests for the destructive disease.” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the decision is based on sound science, and the agency will put safeguards in place to protect the U.S. potato industry. There is no cure for potato wart disease.

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Ukraine Farmers Have Planted Over 300,000 Acres of Crops

 Farmers in Ukraine, a major exporter of grains, have planted the first 150,000 hectares (371,000 acres) of spring crops despite the Russian invasion that will likely cut down on the country’s available sowing area. The country’s deputy ag minister says farmers have planted corn, soybeans, sunflowers, millet, buckwheat, oats, and sugar beets. Reuters says Ukraine’s previous ag minister, who resigned for health reasons, noted that the 2022 spring crop area would likely drop by more than half the levels of 2021. Ukraine expected to plant 15 million hectares before the Russian invasion. The country has already suspended exports of multiple commodities, including rye, oats, buckwheat, millet, sugar, salt, meat, and livestock since the invasion began. Ukraine also implemented export licenses for wheat, corn, and sunflower oil. Officials noted that the Ukraine government is considering canceling export limits for corn and sunflower oil as it has high stocks of both commodities.

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USDA Releasing More Help to Expand Processing Capacity

USDA launched the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program to assist meat and poultry grant applications and projects funded by grants. Processors and applicants involved with the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program and the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program can now access the technical assistance.  “This is a true partnership to help meat and poultry processors and grant applicants diversify processing ownership throughout the country,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We’re trying to build capacity and increase economic opportunities for small and mid-sized meat and poultry processors and producers around the country.” USDA encourages grant applications that focus on improving meat and poultry slaughter and processing capacity and efficiency. Applications can also focus on developing new and existing markets, increasing capacity and better meeting consumer and producer demand, and help maintain strong inspection and food safety standards. For more information on the assistance and application deadlines, go to grants.gov.

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Corn Growers Ask Administration for More Homegrown Fuels

Corn grower leaders from 19 states combined to send a letter to President Biden asking him to use existing emergency authorities to tap more homegrown fuels like ethanol. The goal is to help stabilize energy markets and lower the price of fuel for consumers. The letter asks the president to prevent consumers from losing the choice of E15, a higher ethanol blend that costs less at the pump and reduces emissions. A 2021 court decision resulting from oil industry efforts to limit the growth of higher ethanol blends ended year-round market access for E15. That ban will begin this summer without action from the administration or Congress. “We urge your administration to act to prevent consumers from losing access to a lower-cost fuel option on June 1,” the letter says. The Corn Growers say increasing the use of lower-cost and lower-emission E15 could easily replace oil imports from Russia.

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Improving Child Nutrition Through Dairy

The National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Associated submitted comments to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service regarding dairy. The groups want the agency to improve nutrition security by updating school meal nutrition standards to encourage increased dairy consumption. That move would keep nutrition in line with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans report and with the leading health organizations. In 2020, the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report found that more than three-quarters of nine-to-13-year-olds are not meeting the recommended intake of dairy foods. School milk consumption has declined in recent years, particularly after whole milk and low-fat flavored milk options got removed from school meals ten years ago. “USDA can begin to reverse the trend through providing certainty for schools offering flavored milks, which provide the same micronutrients as white milk but with a flavor that many children prefer,” the groups say in their comments.

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By Tucker 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.