NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

National Ag News for May 12, 2022

Biden Announces Action for Farmers on Issues Stemming from Russia War

President Joe Biden visited an Illinois farm Wednesday to announce action for U.S. farmers in the wake of the Russia/Ukraine war. The measures include increasing the number of counties eligible for double cropping insurance. The Biden administration is seeking to expand insurance for double cropping to as many as 681 additional counties, bringing the total number of counties where this practice qualifies for crop insurance to as many as 1,935, so more American farmers have the financial security to start or expand double cropping. Another measure would cut costs for farmers by increasing technical assistance for technology-driven precision agriculture and other nutrient management tools. The third measure would double funding for domestic fertilizer production. President Biden is doubling his initial $250 million investment in domestic fertilizer production to $500 million to lower costs and boost availability for farmers, so they can obtain the inputs they need at prices they can afford to maximize yields.

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Senators Claim USTR Office Lacks Transparency

Senate lawmakers call on the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office to dramatically improve transparency and consultation with Congress on pending trade negotiations. Led by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, members of the Senate Finance Committee cited negotiations to waive intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization, where details became public before Congress was briefed or shown the agreement, as a recent example. A joint statement from the lawmakers says, “We want to ensure that this failure to consult properly with Congress will not be replicated in other areas.” Congress has primary authority to regulate tariffs and commerce with foreign nations under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. It delegates authority to the executive branch, with the requirement that it be consulted about trade policies. Grassley has frequently raised concerns about operations at the USTR. Last August, he called on President Biden to immediately appoint qualified individuals to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the USTR.

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AEM Releases April 2022 Equipment Sales Numbers

Tractor and combine sales declined in April for the second month in a row, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. U.S. total farm tractor sales fell 22.3 percent in April compared to 2021, while U.S. combine sales for the month declined 5.6 percent. Total farm tractor sales are now down 13.7 percent year-to-date, while combines are down 14.5 percent. In Canada, unit sales fell in all segments again for a 19 percent decline in total farm tractor sales, while combine sales were down as well, falling 14.1 percent. Year-to-date farm tractor unit sales are down a 7.7 percent in Canada, while harvesters are down 28 percent. Curt Blades of AEM says, “Supply chain remains the number one difficulty our member manufacturers are facing,” adding, “At the same time, we’re comparing to record numbers from 2021, and while these numbers may look disappointing, they remain above the 5-year average.”

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Labor Force Participation Decreased Less in Rural Areas During Pandemic

From 2007 to 2019, labor force participation rates decreased 2.6 percentage points for people aged 25 to 64 in the rural United States and 0.7 percentage points for the same age group in urban areas. The labor participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work. USDA’s Economic Research Service released data Wednesday that shows the larger decrease in rural participation reflects a slower recovery in those areas after the Great Recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. Labor force participation rates for people aged 25 to 64 decreased again from 2019 to 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but decreased less in rural counties than in urban counties. Rates declined the most from 2019 to 2020 for people aged 16 to 24 and fell the most in that age group in urban counties. In 2021, labor force participation rates for each age group remained below pre-pandemic levels in rural and urban counties.

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FFAR and Kroger Foundation Fund Food Waste Research

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, in collaboration with The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, announced the Food Waste Challenge Wednesday. The challenge aims to develop an original, innovative methodology for quantitative measurement for food waste generated in U.S. households. Objective, quantitative measurements would provide an accurate picture of the sources of food waste and benefit efforts to reduce this waste across the food system. U.S. household food waste is likely underestimated. Traditionally, multiple methods have been used to track household food waste, including surveys or specialized applications. However, the methods are inconsistent and use different understandings of food waste. Additional research is critical to reducing food waste and supporting interventions, requiring original approaches to gathering accurate and standardized measurements. Applications are due July 13, 2022. Each grantee may receive up to $1 million. The Food Waste Challenge webpage includes more information about this funding opportunity and instructions on how to apply.

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USDA, EDA, Launch Resource Guide for Rural Economic Development

The Department of Agriculture and the Economic Development Administration Wednesday unveiled a joint resource guide. The guide seeks to help community organizations access USDA and EDA resources to build strategies to boost economic development in rural America. USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl (So-CHEEL) Torres Small says, “The guide we are unveiling today will better equip people with the tools they need to make their communities more attractive, economically viable and safe places to live and work.” The resource guide outlines programs and services that can be used to advance community and economic development in rural communities through four key focus areas: Planning and technical assistance, Infrastructure and broadband expansion, Entrepreneurship and business assistance, and workforce development and livability. The guide also features information and links to USDA Rural Development and U.S. Economic Development Administration key priorities and resources. The resource guide is available online at https://www.rd.usda.gov.

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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.