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National Ag News for April 26, 2022

African Swine Fever Vaccine Passes Tests Required for Regulatory Approval

Scientists with USDA’s Agriculture Research Service Monday announced that a vaccine candidate for African swine fever passed an important safety test required for regulatory approval. The successful safety test moves the vaccine one step closer to commercial availability. The new results show that USDA’s vaccine candidate does not revert to its normal virulence, after being injected into swine. This “reversion to virulence” test is required to ensure that the vaccine’s weakened form of the ASF virus does not revert to its original state. The safety studies are necessary to gain approval for use in Vietnam and eventually in other countries around the world. However, future commercial use will depend on approval from the department of animal health within each requesting country. Further development will continue once the vaccine candidate receives regulatory approval from Vietnam. Although the virus is causing profound economic losses to the swine industry, there have not been any outbreaks in the United States.

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CoBank: Ukraine/Russia War Upending Grain and Energy markets

The Ukraine-Russia war has reignited speculation that globalization is coming to an end, and markets should prepare to turn inward to deal with disrupted supply lines and geopolitical challenges. The war will undoubtedly have long-lasting implications. However, according to a new Quarterly report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange, an unwinding of global supply chains and world markets is unlikely to be one of them. Still, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine agitated global grain trade and contributed to unprecedented price volatility in wheat, corn and soybeans. Grain markets could remain volatile for two or more years due to disruptions in planting, harvesting, input application and transportation. Prices for major fertilizers increased between eight percent and 13 percent during the first quarter of 2022, with the biggest spikes coming after Russia invaded Ukraine. While most U.S. ag retailers have adequate nutrient supplies this spring, the report says that may not be the case this fall and in spring 2023.

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Growth Energy Holds EPA to RVO Deadline of June 3

A U.S. District Court Monday approved a consent decree agreement between Growth Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency that requires EPA to finalize its 2020-2022 Renewable Volume Obligations no later than June 3. The consent decree follows Growth Energy’s multiple notices of intent to sue and a complaint in federal district court in response to the agency’s extended delay in issuing the RVOs. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “We are encouraged by EPA’s commitment to this deadline, as it gives more credence to the agency’s stated intention to get the RFS back on track.” In December, Growth Energy submitted a notice of intent to sue regarding EPA’s failure to timely fulfill the agency’s statutory obligation under the RFS to issue the 2022 RVO and, in turn, the potentially multi-year “set” rulemaking process for renewable fuel volumes for 2023 and beyond. The RVOs for 2022 were due by November 30, 2021, an annual deadline set by Congress.

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USDA Lets More Packing Plants Return to Faster Line Speeds

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service last week announced it approved the Clemens Food Group pork packing plant in Coldwater, Michigan, to run faster line speeds under a one-year trial program. The agency now has let four plants operate with faster harvesting line speeds, which could increase packing capacity and alleviate supply issues in the face of strong pork demand. FSIS established the line speeds program last November, after a provision in USDA’s 2019 New Swine Inspection System was struck down by a U.S. District Court in March 2021. Nine pork packing plants that had adopted the program, six of which were operating with faster line speeds, were allowed to apply for the program, under which they need to collect data on the effects of the faster speeds on workers and share it with USDA. The National Pork Producers Council says the information could be used to formulate a new regulation for allowing plants to run faster line speeds.

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Anuvia Secures $65.5 Million to Scale U.S. Production of Sustainable Fertilizer

Anuvia Plant Nutrients Monday announced it has raised $65.5 million in Series D funding to increase production capacity at its U.S.-based eco-friendly manufacturing facility. The funding will also expand commercialization of its line of field-ready bio-based fertilizers for large-scale agriculture. The funding announcement comes at a time when the Department of Agriculture has pledged $250 million to support “innovative American-made fertilizers,” underscoring the need to reduce dependence on traditional fertilizers sourced internationally. Anuvia CEO Amy Yoder says, “Anuvia’s production is entirely U.S. based, ensuring supply-chain security for North American growers.” Recently, Anuvia completed the expansion of its facility in Plant City, Florida. The facility has the capacity to expand to 1.2 million tons per year, enough to service over 20 million acres. According to an environmental audit, for every million acres of crops that use Anuvia’s products, the reduction of greenhouse gases is the equivalent of removing up to 30,000 cars from the roads.

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Weekly Fuel Prices Increase

Fuel prices increased last week for the first time in more than a month. The price of gas climbed 4.4 cents from a week ago to a national average of $4.11 per gallon. The national average is down 13.3 cents from a month ago and $1.24 per gallon higher than a year ago. Meanwhile, the national average price of diesel increased 4.6 cents in the last week and stands at $5.07 per gallon. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan warns prices could be headed higher in the short term. De Haan says that “with the French election now behind us, there is risk that the EU could pursue harsher sanctions on Russia’s energy, which could cause oil prices to rise if it happens.” In addition, U.S. oil inventories continue to decline, putting additional pressure on prices. U.S. retail gasoline demand saw a slight dip last week. Nationally, weekly gasoline demand fell 0.7 percent from the prior week.

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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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