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National Ag News for April 5, 2022

USDA Doesn’t Intend to Release CRP Acres for Crop Production

A letter obtained by Politico indicates the Department of Agriculture will not open Conservation Reserve Program acres for crop production. In a letter to the National Grain and Feed Association, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “Quickly converting this land to crop production is clearly unfeasible.” Vilsack notes that most acres enrolled in CRP are largely non-prime farmland, according to Politico. The letter comes as some lawmakers want to open CRP acres to offset global food worries stemming from the Russia-Ukraine war. On Friday, Senator Macro Rubio, a Florida Republican, and Cynthia Lummis, a Wyoming Republican, penned their own letter to Vilsack requesting the action. They urged Vilsack to allow flexibilities for prime agricultural lands under the Conservation Reserve Program. The Senators write, “Allowing crop production on CRP lands is a critical step for stabilizing food prices that have skyrocketed in recent months.” However, Vilsack says only 1.3 percent of CRP acres are considered prime farmland.

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House Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Establish Tax Credit for Truck Drivers

A pair of U.S. House lawmakers recently introduced legislation to help address the current truck driver shortage in the United States. In 2021, American trucking companies experienced a record deficit of approximately 80,000 drivers due to hiring and retention challenges. The bipartisan Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act would create a two-year refundable tax credit of up to $7,500 for truck drivers holding a valid Class A commercial driver’s license who drive at least 1,900 hours in the year. The legislation would also create a refundable tax credit of up to $10,000 for new truck drivers or individuals enrolled in a registered trucking apprenticeship. Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger and Wisconsin Republican Mike Gallagher introduced the legislation Friday. Spanberger says the legislation would “encourage more young people to hop in the driver’s seat, reduce headaches for trucking businesses, and make sure experienced drivers are rewarded for their hard work.”

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USDA APHIS Celebrates 50 Years

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is celebrating a major milestone – 50 years of serving the public as a federal agency. USDA created APHIS on April 2, 1972, to consolidate animal health, plant health, and inspection duties under one roof. The new agency focused on protecting American agriculture and natural resources, along with ensuring the humane care of certain animals. While both APHIS and the world have changed a lot over the past 50 years, the agency’s key mission remains the same today. APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea says, “The keys to APHIS’ long-term success are our dedicated, skilled employees and the strong partnerships we develop with our many stakeholders.” Some of APHIS’ key accomplishments over the past 50 years include eradicating plant pests like European grapevine moth and plum pox from the country, while reducing the impact of other plant diseases, including boll weevil and Mediterranean and Mexican fruit flies.

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NPPC Announces New Staff Members

The National Pork Producers Council Monday announced two new staff members. Annemarie Pender is NPPC’s new assistant vice president for marketing and communications. A native of Florida, Pender received a bachelor’s degree in history from Christopher Newport University, and a master’s in public communications from American University, where she taught strategic communications for several years. Before joining NPPC, Pender was vice president of communications for Autos Drive America, where she played a key role in launching the newly created association and led the transformation of its brand. NPPC also recently hired Chase Adams as manager of congressional relations. Prior to joining NPPC, Adams was senior policy and information director for the American Sheep Industry Association and from October 2012 to November 2016 was director of communications for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. He began his career in agriculture as farm director for radio station KBHB in Sturgis, South Dakota, and also practiced law for several years.

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AFT Awards over $1 million from the Brighter Future Fund to Farmers

American Farmland Trust Monday announced that over 200 farmers would be receiving grants of up to $5,000 each through the Brighter Future Fund, and its regional subsidiaries. The grants will be used to help improve farm viability, enable farmers to access, transfer or permanently protect farmland or adopt regenerative agricultural practices. In total, over $1 million will be awarded to farmers located across 44 states and the territory of Puerto Rico. Ashley Brucker of American Farmland Trust says, “These grants are going to improve the lives of farmers across America.” Since 2020, AFT has provided, in total, approximately $3.5 million in grants directly to more than 2,000 farmers across the nation for pandemic relief, increased resilience, land access and enhanced viability. The Brighter Future Fund helps farmers launch, grow and sustain farms in the face of forces impacting the food and agricultural system, including the COVID-19 pandemic, changing markets, severe weather and climate change.

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Weekly Fuel Prices Decline Again

Fuel prices declined again last week as COVID cases surged in China, and President Biden announced that the U.S. would release 180 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The nation’s average gas price fell 5.4 cents to $4.17 per gallon, according to GasBuddy, while diesel prices fell 3.7 cents to $5.08 per gallon. Still, the national average gas price is up 25.5 cents from a month ago and $1.31 per gallon higher than a year ago. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “So long as oil prices remain under $100 per barrel and there’s no escalations in Russia’s war on Ukraine, we may be poised to see gas prices decline again this week.” With President Biden’s announcement that the nation would release 180 million barrels of crude oil last week, the price of oil fell under $100 in the second half of the week. In addition, a jump in Covid cases in China sparked renewed concerns about demand destruction.

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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.

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