NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

National Ag News for April 18, 2022

Bird Flu Driving Egg Processing Costs Higher

Processed eggs go into items ranging from salad dressings to cake mix. Bloomberg says the prices for those eggs intended for processing are soaring to record highs because of the avian influenza outbreak. The rapid spread of influenza could make this one of the biggest outbreaks in history. Twenty million birds have been culled from the nation’s flocks, which is hitting the market for breaker eggs hard. These eggs, many of which come from Iowa, are processed into liquid or powder form, and then go into manufactured foods. The high price for those breaker eggs is driving production costs higher for food makers, which, in turn, will push inflation higher. Many food manufacturers have shut down plants for sterilization and can’t fill orders. The price of eggs that get cracked and sold in liquid form hit a record high of $2.37 a pound last week. Dried eggs and powdered egg products are also at their highest-ever prices.

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Four Meatpacker CEOs To Testify at Congressional Hearing

The four CEOs of Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS, and National Beef Packing have agreed to testify before Congress. Reuters says the meatpacker bosses will discuss cattle markets and price increases for consumers. House Ag Committee Chair David Scott says it’s important to find out why prices have dropped for ranchers and risen for consumers. “In addition to the CEO panel, we’ll also bring together a panel of ranchers to hear what industry consolidation has done to their bottom lines and viability,” Scott says. Rising prices and profits for meatpacking companies are likely to draw more scrutiny from lawmakers in Washington, D.C. The Biden administration announced a plan in January for new rules that will increase competition in the industry and stop “exploitation” within the sector. The concern is that a small group of meatpackers can dictate beef, pork, and poultry prices, which will add to inflation pressure caused by rising production costs.

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First 2023 Farm Bill Hearing Scheduled for Michigan

Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Ag Committee, and Ranking Member John Boozman (BOZE-man) of Arkansas announced the first 2023 Farm Bill listening session. The hearing will include input from a diverse range of agricultural producers and stakeholders about the next bill. The first hearing will be on Friday, April 29, at Michigan State University. Stabenow says the farm bill’s tradition of bipartisanship will continue with the next version. “We’ll be hearing from farmers and others impacted by the farm bill,” Stabenow says. “We’ll talk about how we can strengthen this important legislation, grow the economy, and strengthen the supply chain.” Boozman also says that crafting a farm bill that can become law is a delicate balance. “The needs of each region and each commodity must be balanced, which is why we must hear directly from stakeholders from across the country,” he says. Stream it live at ag.senate.gov.

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Study Shows What Consumers Want in a New Farm Bill

As the House Agriculture Committee plans for the next farm bill, consumers shared their opinions on food and agriculture policy in a new survey from Purdue University. The third Consumer Food Insights report offers a significant look into the popularity of specific policies and how opinions differ depending on a consumer’s income. One of the most popular policy choices was increased funding for research to create crops more resistant to heat, drought, and flooding. Another popular policy choice is paying farmers and ranchers to adopt climate-smart practices. Over 80 percent of consumer respondents supported those policies. Food safety and inspection ranked as the most important USDA budget category. The survey-based report comes from Purdue’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability assesses food security and spending, consumer satisfaction and values, support for agriculture and food policies, and trust in information sources. Other supported policies include regulating environmental claims and expanding SNAP benefits.

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Ethanol Production, Inventories Drop

The Energy Information Administration says ethanol output declined week to week, and inventories dropped during the week ending April 8. The EIA report shows biofuel production fell to an average of 995,000 barrels a day, down from just over one million barrels a day during the prior week. In the Midwest, far and away, the largest-producing area in the country, output dropped to an average of 935,000 barrels a day, down from 946,000 one week earlier. Gulf Coast production rose to 24,000 barrels a day, on average, from 23,000 barrels the previous week. West Coast output also rose to an average of 9,000 barrels a day, up 2,000 barrels a day from the prior week. Rocky Mountain output stayed steady at 15,000 barrels a day, while East Coast production was also steady compared to the previous week at 12,000 barrels a day. Stockpiles dropped to 24.8 million barrels during the week ending on April 8.

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USDA Releases Equity Action Plan

 The USDA made its Equity Action Plan available last week. The plan outlines actions the agency will take to advance equity among its programs to improve access to the programs and services for underserved stakeholders and communities. In its announcement, the USDA says past USDA programs and services were designed to benefit those with land, experience, money, or education while leaving behind those without the means and resources of one kind or another. Over several decades, congressional reports, internal data, civil rights investigations, court actions, and stakeholder testimony have documented the history of inequity and discrimination. “We are acknowledging USDA’s storied history and charting a new path forward,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Today’s USDA is committed to rooting out systemic racism and advancing justice, equity, and opportunity for all.” He also says the agency has to be responsive to the unique needs of underserved communities. For more information, go to usda.gov/equity.

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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.