NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

National Ag News for April 4, 2022

Senate Passes Ocean Shipping Reform Bill

The Senate passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act last week. The reform bill would make it more difficult for ocean carriers to refuse to load American goods that are ready to get shipped from U.S. ports. The legislation is a federal response to congested ports. Some shipping lines find it more profitable to haul empty shipping containers back to Asia than carry loaded containers, which makes it difficult for exporters to ship U.S. commodities to overseas customers. The Senate bill would require carriers to prove they’re being reasonable when they levy late fees for cargo. It would also prohibit those carriers from unreasonably refusing to load cargo at U.S. ports. The Federal Maritime Commission will also get the authority needed to launch an investigation into a carrier’s potentially questionable business practices. “Passing this bill means we’re one step closer to leveling the playing field for U.S. manufacturers and consumers,” says Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar.

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Biden Releasing Petroleum From Reserve, Ethanol Not Happy

Farm and renewable fuel supporters weren’t happy that the Biden administration is allowing the release of petroleum from the strategic oil reserve. The Hagstrom Report says the White House is making the move in response to high gasoline prices. Ken Colombini, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, says it’s baffling to his organization that the president continues to bypass ethanol. “it’s the most readily-available, lowest-cost, and lowest-carbon option for extending the nation’s fuel supply,” Colombini says. “Rather than draining the strategic reserve and scolding oil producers for not increasing production, it’s a better idea to empower farmers and ethanol producers.” The RFA also points out that ethanol is selling for one dollar per gallon less than gasoline, and the country is sitting on record ethanol inventories and spare capacity. “Simple administrative actions would immediately reduce pump prices without harming our environment’s health,” Colombini adds. “Let us help address the crisis.”

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National Sorghum Producers Accepting Director Applications

The National Sorghum Producers are now accepting applications for five positions on the 2022 board of directors. “We need strong producer leadership to help move forward the sorghum industry and our legislative and regulatory policies that are important to sorghum farmers,” says NSP CEO Tim Lust. “Our farmer-led board of directors bring the commitment and dedication needed to ensure NSP maintains first-rate representation in Washington, D.C., not only for U.S. sorghum farmers but the industry as a whole.” NSP board members lead efforts to create positive change for sorghum farmers through effective policy and relationships and hold a vision to promote, advocate for, and defend the sorghum industry. Qualified candidates must be a current NSP member and have a passion for representing sorghum farmers. No previous board experience is necessary, just a desire to improve the sorghum industry. The deadline is April 4, and for more information, go to SorghumGrowers.com/leadership.

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USDA Providing Help to Livestock Producers Hit by Drought, Wildfire

The USDA says ranchers who have approved applications through the 2021 Livestock Forage Disaster Program for forage losses due to severe drought or wildfire in 2021 will now get additional assistance. Those producers will soon begin to receive emergency relief payments from an additional $670 million offsetting increases in supplemental feed costs in 2021 through the Farm Service Agency’s new Emergency Livestock Relief Aid Program. “Producers of grazing livestock experienced catastrophic losses of available forage as well as higher costs for supplemental feed in 2021,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.  “In order to deliver much-needed assistance as efficiently as possible, phase one of the ELRP will use certain data from the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, allowing USDA to distribute payments within days to livestock producers.” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera says her group appreciates how the Farm Service Agency listened to producers suffering through years of drought and skyrocketing input costs.

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Market Report Shows Lamb Holding Ground with U.S. Consumers

The U.S. Quarterly Lamb Retail Sales Report for the fourth quarter of 2021 shows lamb performed better last year than it did in 2020. Lamb has seen tremendous retail sales growth during the past two years. Lamb and exotics were the only meat categories to grow volume last year compared to 2020. Compared to 2019, a more typical year before COVID-19 rather than 2020, volume sales of lamb grew 19 percent in 2021. Dollar sales increased 9.6 percent in 2021. While inflation had an impact, retailers still sold more lamb with volume sales increasing by 1.4 percent compared to 2020. The average price per pound for lamb rose by 8.2 percent, from $8.25 a pound to $8.92 a pound in last year. Sales were exceptionally strong during the traditional peak time of year for lamb, which is Easter and Christmas. Ribeye cuts took over the top spot in sales, surpassing loins by $1 million last year.

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CoBank: Easter Egg Supplies Likely Short

Recent outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza are adding strain to the egg supply chains across the country, which still haven’t fully recovered from COVID-19. While egg production stabilized in recent months, it’s still well below pre-COVID levels. CoBank says that means egg availability could be limited leading into Easter. “U.S. egg producers have been hard-pressed to align supplies with market demand over the last couple of years,” says Brian Earnest, lead animal protein economist with CoBank. “The layer flock typically expands ahead of the surge in demand for Easter and contracts during the summer months.” However, recent HPAI losses have combined with high feed cost and other challenges to severely flock sizes. CoBank says at least 11 million layers have been lost in recent weeks. The USDA estimates about five days of U.S. egg inventory is currently on hand, which is tight but not alarmingly tight supplies. Egg prices will likely rise around Easter.

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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.