NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

National Ag News for April 25, 2022

Farm Lending Activity Accelerates in Early 2022

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City says farm lending activity at commercial banks increased during the first quarter of 2022 due to a significant increase in the size of operating loans. With some input costs surging in recent months, the volume of operating loans increased sharply from a year ago, and non-real estate lending increased on a rolling four-quarter basis for the first time since mid-2019. While the outlook for the U.S. ag economy in 2022 remains strong alongside higher commodity prices, rising input costs are raising concerns about future profitability. The escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and associated market disruptions are pushing commodity prices even higher. The turmoil is also causing rapid increases in the price of major inputs like fuel and fertilizer sourced from Russia and Ukraine. Concerns about the cost and availability of agricultural inputs intensified, and higher feed prices could also put pressure on profit margins for livestock producers.  

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Dairy Industry Seeking Additional Export Supply Chain Help

The U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation sent a letter to the White House regarding specific recommendations to help solve supply chain issues. The top recommendation calls for USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service to restart its Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report. “Shipping containers for U.S. dairy exports continue to be in short supply at coastal ports and even more so at inland locations,” says Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “These essential links in the global supply chain must be available to exporters.” Other recommendations include setting up pop-up terminal yards in inland locations like Minneapolis and Chicago. That would make it easier to secure shipping containers. They also want to see trucking “fast lanes” dedicated to delivering perishable agricultural goods as quickly as possible at port terminals. Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC, says supply chain issues have cost dairy exporters over $1.5 billion last year alone.

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Veterinarians Heading to Capitol Hill

On April 27, 200 veterinarians will head to Capitol Hill to meet with senators and representatives to talk about legislation that will increase access to veterinary services in rural areas. They also want to talk about legislation to help in reducing the spread of diseases that pose a threat to animal and public health. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s annual fly-in will feature attendees from 48 states and 20 veterinary schools. They’ll talk to officials about passing the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program and the Healthy Dog Importation Act. The AVMA says it’s united in asking Congress for help alleviating a shortage of veterinarians by assisting with the significant obstacle of student debt. The group also says strengthening dog importation standards will decrease the chances of future disease outbreaks from the 1.2 million dogs imported every year into the U.S. The goal is to maintain vibrant rural communities while keeping animals and people safe.

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USDA Announces $800 Million Investment on Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA is investing nearly $800 million in climate-smart infrastructure in 20 states and Puerto Rico. These investments are designed to strengthen the health and livelihoods of people across rural America. They include funding for 165 projects for expanding access to safe water and clean energy for people living in disadvantaged communities. “People in rural America are experiencing the increasing impacts of climate change in many ways,” says Vilsack. “This includes more severe droughts, more frequent wildfires, and more destructive and life-threatening storms.” He also says investing in infrastructure in rural communities is investing in the planet and the peace of mind that children will drink clean and safe water in their homes. The agency will take steps to improve clean energy infrastructure, energy-efficiency improvements, improve infrastructure in communities hit by severe weather, and advance equity in rural communities.

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Corn, Ethanol Groups Celebrate Earth Day

Ag groups like the National Corn Growers Association celebrated Earth Day last week by reminding its members to commit to improving the environment. “Leaving the world in better shape than we found it” is a part of policy upheld by U.S. corn farmers. The group encouraged corn farmers to review their best-management practices, consider planting a pollinator habitat, fill their gas tanks with cleaner-burning ethanol blends, and maximize their nutrient applications. Growth Energy says Earth Day is especially important given the administration lifted the restrictions on summertime E15 sales. “We can’t get to net-zero emissions without biofuels,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “Biofuels like ethanol reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent compared to gasoline. They’re an accessible, plant-based fuel source that can immediately help improve air quality alongside other clean energy solutions.” The group says a nationwide E15 standard could reduce carbon emissions by more than 17.6 million tons.

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Nebraska Legislature Passes E15 Sales Credit

One week after the Biden administration decided to allow for the summertime sale of E15, Nebraska’s lawmakers passed a bill that will provide incentives for retailers who sell the biofuel. KNSB in Nebraska says LB596 allows for a credit of five cents on each gallon of E15 retailers sell and eight cents per gallon of E25 or higher blends sold. The goal is to make ethanol more affordable for retailers who are helping keep fuel prices down for consumers. “At the retail level, E15 is a better fuel, and it costs less,” says Randy Gard, Nebraska Ethanol Board Secretary. “We are excited the bill got passed and to see what it can do for customers.” Gard also says Nebraska retailers have nothing standing in their way to making the transition from E10 and joining the conversion to E15. “The incentives are there, consumer demand is there, and it’s a win for everyone,” Gard adds.

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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.