National Ag News for July 12, 2022

May Beef Exports Set New Records, Pork Exports Rise

U.S. beef exports set new volume and value records in May, topping $1 billion for the fourth time in 2022. The exports reached just over 135,000 metric tons, up one percent from the previous high in May 2021. Export value climbed 20 percent to $1.09 billion, breaking the March 2022 record. For January through May, beef exports were four percent higher than last year at 613,200 metric tons, valued at $5.14 billion. “Keeping the $1 billion-a-month pace is remarkable, especially given the economic challenges like a stronger dollar and the logistical challenges of the supply chain,” says U.S. Meat Export Federation president and CEO Dan Halstrom. May pork exports were the strongest in volume and value so far during 2022. May pork exports were 224,600 metric tons, down 21 percent from the large total last year. However, that was the highest monthly volume since November. Export value was $665 million, also the highest since November.

Gas Prices See Biggest One-Day Drop Since 2008

Gas prices dropped last week by the largest one-day amount in over ten years. Auto club Triple-A says the average prices at U.S. pumps fell 3.1 cents per gallon on Friday, the largest one-time decrease since 2008. Despite the recent drop in gas prices, they’re still roughly $1.60 higher than last year. Ten states still have prices over $5 a gallon, and California is above $6 a gallon.  Late last week, Bloomberg said supplies remain tight for fuel. U.S. total gasoline stocks are at their lowest seasonal level in seven years, even though refiners on the Gulf Coast and East Coast have been running at almost maximum capacity. East Coast supplies are particularly vulnerable, and they’re at the lowest seasonal level on record since the government started collecting data in 1993. Gas prices are a major contributor to inflation and will be a significant issue in the upcoming U.S. elections.

Farm Family Living Expenses

A study by the Kansas Farm Management Association shows that farm family living expenses jumped 14 percent higher last year to an average of $82,000. It’s significantly higher than the previous high of $74,000 in 2014 and the largest yearly change since 2000. Agricultural Economic Insights says tight farm margins starting in 2014 made farmers tighten their belts, and overall, producers benefited from an economy that had extremely low inflation rates through the 2010s. The rising costs in 2021 could be attributed to broad inflation in the economy, as well as profitable conditions in farming. At least some of the 14 percent increase could be seen as a recovery after the three percent contraction in family living expenses in 2020.  AEI says the combination of inflationary price pressure and an improved farm economy resulted in significantly higher living expenses for farms, and many farmers will need to update their projections for 2022 and beyond.

Poultry Executives Not Guilty of Price-Fixing

Five executives in the poultry industry were found not guilty of a price-fixing conspiracy between 2012 and 2019. The Denver Post says the verdict is a defeat for prosecutors and happened after two mistrials. Jurors acquitted the current and former CEOs of Pilgrim’s Pride, a former Pilgrim’s Pride vice president, and the president and vice president of Claxton Poultry. Criminal trials of industry executives are unusual. The three trials happened as rising meat prices added fuel to soaring inflation. The Department of Justice hoped to succeed in the third trial by narrowing the defendants in previous cases from 10 to five in the third attempt. “Although we are disappointed in the verdict, we will continue to vigorously enforce the antitrust laws, especially when it comes to price-fixing schemes affecting food,” the DOJ says in a statement. A lawyer for one of the defendants says the case “should never have been brought.”

Safeguarding Midwest Lands That Grow Food

Smart growth and investment in Midwest downtowns and main streets have to occur now to secure the land that grows our food. That conclusion is from American Farmland Trust, which released a report called “Farms Under Threat 2040: Choosing an Abundant Future.” The report’s research shows that by 2040, more than three million acres, or nearly 5,000 square miles of farmland, may be lost to urban and low-density conversion across the Midwest. Six Midwestern states made the top ten list of the number of farmland acres getting converted to urban development by 2040. Those states include Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The report shows the loss will disproportionately affect smaller farms that often service local markets with fresh products. Many of those smaller farms also tend to bring new farmers into the profession and are instrumental in getting through the supply chain disruptions hitting grocery stores around the nation.

USDA Helping Issue Child Food Benefits for Summer

The USDA is partnering with states and territories across the country to work with urgency to provide food benefits for the summer months to eligible children. As of July 8, 27 states and territories, including Puerto Rico, are set up to provide these benefits to an estimated 13 million children. “For far too long, millions of families have struggled to keep their kids fed and healthy during the summer while schools are out,” says Cindy Long, administrator of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. “Child food benefits can bridge the gap and help families provide the nourishment their children deserve. They can also help American families cope with the rising cost of food.” Children are eligible for this temporary nutrition benefit called P-EBT if they get free or reduced-price meals during the school year. Children six and under are also eligible if they live in a household receiving SNAP benefits.  


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.