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National Ag News for May 20, 2022

Senate Legislation to Address Baby Formula Shortage    

Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member John Boozman (BOZE-man) led a bipartisan group of senators who introduced legislation to address baby formula shortages. The bill is aimed at helping families who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The Access to Baby Formula Act has a companion bill in the House. It would give USDA more flexibility during a crisis like the shortages currently facing the country. The flexibility would ensure that the brand or type of formula families can buy isn’t restricted by program rules, allowing families to purchase whatever is available in the store. Formula manufacturers would be required to have a plan in place to respond to shortages. “This is an extremely stressful time for parents who are looking high and low for baby formula,” Stabenow says. “Almost half of all babies born in the U.S. rely on the WIC program.”

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Nutrien to Build World’s Largest Clean Ammonia Plant in Louisiana

Nutrien says it is evaluating a site in Louisiana as the place to build the world’s biggest clean ammonia facility. The new plant would leverage low-cost natural gas, tidewater access to world markets, and high-quality carbon capture and sequestration infrastructure at its existing facility in Geismar, Louisiana. The goal would be to serve the growing demand in agriculture, industrial, and emerging energy markets. “Our commitment to developing and using both low-carbon and clean ammonia is prominent in our strategy to provide solutions that will help meet the world’s decarbonization goals while sustainably addressing global food insecurity,” says Ken Seitz, Nutrien’s Interim President and CEO. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 1.2 million metric tons of clean ammonia and capture at least 90 percent of its carbon emissions. That means the new facility will be able to permanently sequester more than 1.8 million metric tons of carbon in dedicated geological storage every year.

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Kansas/Oklahoma Winter Wheat Tour Finding Lower Yields

On Wednesday, scouts on the Wheat Quality Council’s 2022 winter wheat tour traveled from Colby to Wichita, Kansas, stopping in wheat fields along six different routes. The scouts surveyed 254 wheat fields throughout western, central, and southern Kansas and northern counties in Oklahoma. The wheat in Southwest Kansas looks rough because of drought, and South Central Kansas is struggling because of dryness. Wheat following corn generally had poor yields, while wheat on fallow had some of the higher yields. The calculated yield was 37 bushels per acre in Kansas. Chris Kirby from the Oklahoma Wheat Commission reported that the state’s production is estimated at 60 million bushels this year, down from 115 million last year. Wheat harvest on the southern border of Oklahoma began this week, and with temperatures expected well above 100 degrees, the harvest will move much faster. USDA estimates that Oklahoma will likely yield 25 bushels an acre, down from 39 last year.

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U.N. Wants Ukraine’s Ports Opened for Grain Shipments

The United Nations is talking with Russia about the possibility of opening up Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for grain shipments to get exported. Ukraine is one of the largest grain producers in the world and usually exports goods through its seaports. However, Russia controls the Black Sea ports, which has forced Ukraine to export by train or through its smaller ports along the Danube River. Reuters says that Russia responded to the U.N. appeal by saying that sanctions on Russia would have to get reviewed if it were to allow the ports to reopen. U.N. Food Chief David Beasley appealed directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying, “If you have any heart at all, please open these ports.” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister says the sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and EU are interfering with normal free trade, including food products like wheat, fertilizers, and many other goods.

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NAMI Responds to “Special Investigator” Legislation

The House Agriculture Committee voted to approve the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act, and the North American Meat Institute called it “redundant, wasteful, and costly.” Julianna Potts is CEO of NAMI, and she says, “The committee voted to approve the bill despite our opposition, along with the opposition from the country’s largest livestock producer organizations.” She also says USDA and the Justice Department already have the authorities the bill would grant, making this expansion of government bureaucracy with its required staff and offices “duplicative.” Her organization points out that the special investigator this bill would establish would feel emboldened and obligated to bring as many new cases as possible, warranted or not, to test the legal limits of the new rules. “The resulting legal uncertainty and market chaos will accelerate unpredictable changes in livestock and poultry marketing that will add costs to both producers and consumers during a time of high inflation,” Potts says.

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More Cotton Growers Take Part in Cotton Trust Protocol During Year Two

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is designed to bring quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurements to the key sustainability metrics of U.S. cotton production. The good news is more growers took part during the 2021-2022 crop year than did during the program’s pilot. The initiative’s new vision is to set a new standard in sustainable cotton production where full transparency is the reality and continuous improvement in reducing the environmental footprint is the central goal. “During our second year, we doubled the number of U.S. cotton growers in the program with an estimated 1.1 million cotton acres enrolled,” says Dr. Gary Adams, president of the Cotton Trust Protocol. Virtually all of the top 100 global brands created lists of sustainable raw materials and publicly stated their sourcing will come from these lists over the next 5-10 years. The Trust Protocol was designed to meet and exceed the rigorous criteria for the lists.

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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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