National Ag News for July 11, 2022

One Hundred Groups Call for Swift Confirmation of New Chief Ag Negotiator

A coalition of almost 100 American food and agriculture organizations called for the prompt confirmation of Doug McKalip as the Chief Agriculture Negotiator in the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office. In the letter to the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee, the groups highlighted McKalip’s deep knowledge of the food and agriculture industry and his institutional, regulatory, and trade experience. The groups also note that McKalip has the experience necessary to tackle some of the most pressing trade policy issues the industry is facing. “Doug McKalip is an excellent nominee for the critical role of Chief Agricultural Negotiator, especially as the U.S. needs to increase global trade and secure greater market access for U.S. products,” says John Bode, President and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. The group of associations that sent the letter endorsing McKalip includes much of the food and agricultural sector that’s responsible for about one-fifth of the country’s economic activity.

World Food Prices Fall in June

World food prices fell for a third straight month in June. However, the United Nation’s food agency says those prices are close to record levels set in March. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index tracks the most globally-traded food commodities, and the index averaged 154.2 in June. That’s down from 157.9 in May. Despite the drop, the June index was over 23 percent higher than at the same time last year. The FAO’s Chief Economist says the factors that drove global prices higher in the first place are still in play. In the cereal supply and demand estimates, the FAO raised its global production estimate to 2.79 billion tons, still six percent lower than in 2021. The cereal index dropped 4.1 percent from May but was still almost 28 percent higher than last year. The vegetable oil price index fell 7.6 percent while the meat index rose 1.7 percent.

NCBA to Announce Environmental Stewardship Winner on July 26

The 2021 national winner of the Environmental Stewardship Program will be announced during the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Reno, Nevada, July 25-27. The award was established by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in 1991. It identifies outstanding land stewards in the cattle industry. Every year, seven families are recognized with regional Environmental Stewardship awards, with one getting honored as the national winner. “Cattle producers across the country work tirelessly to conserve natural resources for future generations,” says NCBA President Don Schiefelbein. “I’m glad we can honor the nation’s top cattle operators for their environmental conservation efforts.” The most recent winner was Beatty Canyon Ranch of Colorado in 2020. The Environmental Stewardship Award Program is sponsored by companies and federal agencies that share the cattle industry’s commitment to caring for the environment and protecting natural resources. Sponsors include Corteva, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, McDonald’s, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Dairy Industry Speaks Out at Farm Bill Listening Session

Dairy producers from several National Milk Producers Federation cooperatives urged Congress to create greater opportunities as they write the next farm bill. The dairy farmers are looking for opportunities to promote environmental stewardship, promote exports, and want Congress to craft farm bill programs that aid dairy farmers of all sizes in all regions. Melvin Medeiros of Laton, California, and Joey Fernandes of Tulare, California, spoke during a listening session held by California Representative Jim Costa. “From water issues, to trade, to sustainability, to providing an adequate safety net for producers of all sizes, the farmers who own our member cooperatives are critical to conversations that affect all of agriculture in the next farm bill and beyond,” says NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We commend our California dairy farmers for sharing their insights and thank Representative Costa for making sure that dairy’s voice gets heard as the next farm bill begins taking shape.”

Smithfield Settles Price-Fixing Lawsuit for $42 Million

Smithfield Foods will pay $42 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the meatpacker of conspiring to fix pork prices. CBS News says lawyers began notifying companies like restaurants and caterers of the settlement. Smithfield previously settled with a different group of pork buyers for $83 million. Meatpacker JBS agreed to pay the restaurants and caterers an additional $12.75 million in the same pork lawsuit. Earlier this year, JBS had already agreed to pay $52.5 million to settle a similar price-fixing lawsuit over beef. Neither Smithfield nor JBS admitted to any wrongdoing as part of those settlements, and officials at Smithfield headquarters wouldn’t comment on the settlement. Other price-fixing lawsuits have also been filed against national chicken producers, with almost $200 million in settlements already approved in price-fixing cases to date. Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the country’s biggest chicken producers, was fined $107 million for price fixing in February 2021.

U.S. Ag Groups Note Passing of Former Japanese Prime Minister

Japan’s longest-serving leader and former prime minister, Shinzo Abe (AH-bay), died after being shot at a political campaign event last week. The U.S. Grains Council commented on his passing as a great loss for the country. “Prime Minister Abe was a leader in many ways, including growing trade between the U.S. and Japan,” says USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. ‘He continued the long, close friendship between the U.S. and Japan that goes back even farther than the first office we opened in Japan in 1961.” U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom says his organization is deeply saddened by the death of Abe. “In addition to being a strong and reliable ally of the U.S., he was a true champion for free trade,” Halstrom says, “especially his leadership in advancing the U.S.-Japan agreement, which was a major victory for American agriculture.” Halstrom also called Abe “courageous and relentless.”


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.