NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

National Ag News for May 18, 2022

Stabenow Calls on USDA to Address Effects of Baby Formula Shortage for WIC Families

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow called on the Department of Agriculture Tuesday to address the infant formula shortage for those relying on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children program. The Michigan Democrat says, “Millions of Americans rely on the WIC program to get baby formula for their children, so the current shortages are extremely concerning for parents across our country.” USDA is providing WIC families with the flexibility to use their benefits to buy different types of formula products. Senator Stabenow requested more information from USDA on its use of these and other flexibilities and opportunities for additional action to support WIC families. Meanwhile, Abbott, the company whose infant formula plant is shut down, has agreed to enter a consent decree with the Food and Drug Administration. The decree is an agreement between FDA and Abbott on the steps necessary to resume production and maintain the facility.

***********************************************************************************
USDA Extends Deadline for Public to Comment on Input Competition Challenges

The agriculture sector has more time to comment on the impacts of concentration and competition challenges in seed, fertilizer, other agricultural inputs, and retail markets. The Department of Agriculture this week announced a 30-day extension to the public comment period. The new deadline is June 15, 2022. Three requests for information were published in the Federal Register on March 17, 2022, each with a 60-day comment period ending May 16, 2022. USDA seeks information about competition matters related to fertilizer, seed and agricultural inputs, particularly related to the intellectual property system, and food retail, including access to retail for agricultural producers and small and medium-sized food processors through wholesale and distribution markets. To enhance fair and competitive markets, the initiative supports additional fertilizer production for farmers and spurs competition to address rising costs, including price hikes from the war in Ukraine, and recent supply chain disruptions. All written comments should be posted online at www.regulations.gov.

***********************************************************************************
USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Costs of Organic, Transitioning Producers

The Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program and Organic Certification Cost Share Program. The programs help producers and handlers cover the cost of organic certification, along with other related expenses. Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-shah-know) says, “By helping with organic certification costs – long identified as a barrier to certification – USDA has helped producers participate in new markets while investing in the long-term health of their operations.” To apply, producers and handlers should contact the FSA at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the applications, organic producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program through participating State agencies. The Organic Certification Cost Share Program covers 50 percent or up to $500 per category of certification costs in 2022. 

***********************************************************************************
Rural Land Market Outlook Remains Strong

Following record sales in 2021, the rural land market continues to surge this year. This offers opportunities for both sellers and buyers of farm, recreational and other rural land, according to Whitetail Properties Real Estate. Low property inventories resulting from last year’s strong market point to land values remaining high for sellers. Meanwhile, rising interest rates this year could suggest reduced demand, but that is only one factor. Alex Gyllstrom, the company’s marketing director, says, “It can be projected that rural land values will stay at the higher end of the market because of current inflation.”  While these factors create a sense of urgency for those looking to sell land, they also present an upside for buyers. Whitetail Properties Real Estate offers advice for sellers to provide curb appeal, document farm value, and get leases in writing. For buyers, the company suggests they work with a rural lender, think long-term, and consider a partnership agreement.

***********************************************************************************
Iowa Governor Signs Biofuels Legislation into Law

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Tuesday signed into law some of the most comprehensive state biofuels legislation in the nation. The legislation is expected to boost the sale of higher blends of biodiesel through an incentive-based approach. Among other things, the bill increases a Biodiesel Production Tax Credit from two to four cents per gallon while updating the state’s Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Program to increase access to higher blends of biofuels. Clean Fuels CEO Donnell Rehagen says, “Iowa joins the ranks of Illinois, Minnesota and others with some of the most forwarding-thinking legislation that values the production and use of biodiesel.” The legislation also would provide access to E15 statewide by 2026 and update the E15 promotion tax credit to $0.09 per gallon year-round through 2025. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor applauded the bill’s passage, saying the bill “offers drivers across Iowa the opportunity to not only save money at the pump but to make a simple change for the environment.”

***********************************************************************************
Cargill Announces Plans to Build new Soybean Plant in Southeast Missouri

Cargill Tuesday announced plans to build a new soybean processing facility in Southeast Missouri. The facility will have an annual production capacity of 62 million bushels of soybeans. Cargill anticipates breaking ground on the project early next year with plans to be operational in 2026. The new facility will add approximately 45 full-time positions to the region when complete. With its location on the Mississippi River, the facility will operate year-round and provide farmers opportunity to take advantage of increased domestic demand versus relying solely on seasonal exports. Missouri Soybeans CEO and Executive Director Gary Wheeler says, “Missouri Soybeans is very pleased with the new build of a soybean crush facility in Pemiscot County and the direct impact it will bring to our farmers in Southeast Missouri.” Cargill has had a presence in Missouri since 1936 and currently operates across 11 locations in the state and employs nearly 1,200 people.

***********************************************************************************

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.