National Ag News for April 14, 2022

Avian Influenza Cases Outpacing 2014/2015 Outbreak

The number of highly pathogenic avian influenza cases in the United States are outpacing the 2014/2015 outbreak. However, the American Farm Bureau Federation says the higher numbers might be attributed to improvements in detection and reporting protocols. Farm Bureau economists found as of April 7, there have been more than 600 detections of HPAI in wild birds across 31 states, and 158 detections in commercial and backyard flocks across 25 states. The 2014/2015 outbreak prompted revisions to the National HPAI Surveillance Plan, which has led to heightened annual surveillance plans, providing poultry producers earlier notice to increase their biosecurity measures. AFBF economists analyzed HPAI detections in commercial flocks and found the Mississippi flyway is the most impacted, with 49 percent of detections. While HPAI has affected the laying hen population, inventory of eggs is actually 38 percent higher in 2022 than during the same time in 2015. Eggs should be found easily in the grocery store for Easter and Passover celebrations, but prices will be higher.

National Sorghum Producers Calls on USAID to Consider Grain Sorghum Offers

National Sorghum Producers requests the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, to consider sorghum for aid programs. The organization sent a letter to USAID this week encouraging the department to proactively tender grain offers to provide crucial aid to the world’s hungry. The letter is in response to a worsening situation from the war in Ukraine and its impact on global food prices. NSP CEO Tim Lust says, “In Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, where sorghum is a staple food in many countries, the situation is exacerbated by severe drought and conflict.” The NSP letter encourages USAID, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture, to consider grain sorghum offers for food aid as action plans are formulated to address the worsening situation. Lust adds urgency is needed as grain traders are emptying stocks from the 2021 crop year. Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world and ranks second, closely behind wheat, in total food aid purchases.

EPA Announces Plan to Protect Endangered Species and Support Sustainable Agriculture

The Environmental Protection Agency this week released its first-ever comprehensive workplan to address the challenge of protecting endangered species from pesticides. The plan establishes four overall strategies and dozens of actions to adopt protections while providing farmers, public health authorities, and others with access to pesticides. EPA has an opportunity and an obligation to improve how it meets its duties under the Endangered Species Act when it registers pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. For most of EPA’s history, the agency has met these duties for less than five percent of its FIFRA decisions. This has resulted in over 20 ESA lawsuits against the agency, which have increased in frequency in recent years, creating uncertainty for farmers. Through the workplan, EPA is describing its future directions in the hope of collaborating on implementation. Over the coming months, EPA will engage with a wide range of stakeholders to identify opportunities for collaboration and will continue seeking input on more effective and efficient ways to meet its ESA obligations.

Quick-Service Restaurants Recovered Faster Than Full-Service Following 2020

New data from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows quick-service restaurants recovered faster than full-service restaurants from the initial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer spending at both full-service and quick-service restaurants initially fell following the onset of the Coronavirus, with noteworthy differences between the two. Before the pandemic, consumer spending at both quick-service and full-service restaurants was near or slightly above previous year levels. As of March–May 2020, spending at quick-service restaurants had dropped to about $20.1 billion, 15.4 percent lower than average spending a year earlier. Full-service restaurants experienced a more severe drop during this period, likely related to the mandates limiting in-person dining across much of the country. Spending fell to $7 billion, 51.7 percent lower than the year before. Quick-service restaurants recovered faster than full-service restaurants, with spending surpassing previous year levels for the last four months of 2020. In contrast, by the end of 2020, full-service restaurants retained a 24.8 percent drop in year-to-year spending.

ADM to Increase Alternative Protein Production

ADM announced this week it will invest approximately $300 million to significantly expand its Decatur, Illinois, alternative protein production. ADM also plans to open a new, state-of-the-art Protein Innovation Center, also in Decatur. An ADM spokesperson says, “The global trends of food security and sustainability are driving structural changes in the food industry, including strong growth in alternative proteins.” Alternative meat and dairy sales alone expected to grow by 14 percent a year and reach $125 billion in 2030. The production increase represents a significant expansion of ADM’s alternative protein capabilities. The project, expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2025, will significantly strengthen ADM’s ability to meet growing global demand by increasing soy protein concentrate capacity and nearly doubling extrusion capacity at ADM’s Decatur complex. The Protein Innovation Center will further expand ADM’s Decatur-based innovation complex. The new Decatur Innovation Center will bring together labs, test kitchens, and pilot-scale production capabilities to power innovation.

New Veterinary Debt Solutions Program Launches

Farm Journal Foundation is partnering with the Zoetis Foundation to launch a new program to find solutions for relieving student debt in the veterinary industry. The effort’s long-term goal seeks to address shortages of veterinarians to work with farmers in rural areas. The new Veterinary Debt Solutions Program will convene leaders from across the livestock, academic, nonprofit, and veterinary sectors to address barriers that veterinarians face in building long-term careers in rural areas. High levels of student debt, combined with comparatively lower rural salaries and demanding workloads, discourage many young and diverse professionals from specializing in large animal veterinary science and entering the workforce, particularly in underserved rural areas. The veterinary profession is currently experiencing an urban-rural divide, with only about ten percent of final-year veterinary students expressing an interest in working with livestock after graduation, according to survey data from the American Veterinary Medical Association. As a result, about 500 counties across the U.S. now face shortages of veterinarians.


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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