NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

National Ag News for July 29, 2022

Administration Announces $401 Million for Rural Internet Access

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says the agency is investing $401 million to provide access to high-speed internet for 31,000 rural residents and businesses in 11 states. The funds come from the ReConnect Program and an award through the USDA’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. “Connectivity is critical to economic success in rural America,” Vilsack says. “The internet is vital to our growth and continues to act as a catalyst for our prosperity.” The secretary also said from the farm to the school, from households to international markets, connectivity drives “positive change.” USDA will support internet investments in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas. The Department also says it will make more investments for rural high-speed internet later this summer, including ReConnect Program funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law, which provides $65 billion to expand affordable high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.

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Senators Introduce the Farmland Security Act

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa introduced the Farmland Security Act to increase scrutiny over foreign investments into America’s agricultural land. The legislation would make sure that Congress can address the impacts of foreign investments on family farms, rural communities, and the domestic food supply. “This bipartisan legislation will provide the tools we need to protect the longevity of American family farm operations for generations to come,” Baldwin says. Current reports show that foreign-owned agricultural acreage has nearly doubled in the past ten years. One of the provisions in the act would require the Ag Secretary to report to Congress on foreign investments in agricultural land, including the impact foreign ownership has on family farms, rural communities, and the domestic food supply. “Foreign buyers, especially those backed by governments like China, purchasing farmland in the U.S. raises serious national security concerns that the people need to know about,” Grassley says.

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Bunge Loses $59 Million to Ukraine Conflict

Bunge profits rose 15 percent during the second quarter of 2022. However, the global farm commodities company didn’t reach Wall Street expectations and the share price dropped five percent as a result. The company raised its full-year profit forecast and talked about plans to spend $3.3 billion on future investments and expenditures during the next few years. Bunge attributed a $59 million net loss for the quarter in its agribusiness segment because of the war in Ukraine. CEO Gregory Heckman says it will be a slow process for shippers to move commodities out of Ukraine and into the global markets. The company’s results come amid backed-up supply chains and strong demand for food and fuel driving inflation to its highest level in decades. Bunge’s rising operating costs offset higher demand and tighter supplies of commodity grain crops. Transportation and ongoing COVID-19 issues continue to drag down the world’s grain sector.

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NCBA’s Farm Bill Priorities

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association released its priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill. Those priorities were based on producer input at the association’s Summer Business Meeting in Reno, Nevada. “Our annual meetings are the cornerstone of NCBA’s grassroots policy process,” says NCBA President Don Schiefelbein. NCBA Farm Bill priorities include protecting animal health through programs that guard against the spread of foreign animal diseases such as the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Clinic. They want the new farm bill to strengthen risk management programs that provide producers with added protection against weather events and price declines. The NCBA wants the bill to promote voluntary conservation programs that provide support to producers when they implement conservation practices free from government mandates. They say the new farm bill should also support disaster recovery programs that help producers return to normal operations following adverse weather, predator attacks, or extreme weather conditions like drought or wildfire.

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U.S. Grains Council Elects New Chairman

The delegates of the U.S. Grains Council elected Josh Miller as Chairman of its Board of Directors during the Board of Delegates Meeting in California. “It’s important to me to learn as much as I possibly can,” Miller said during incoming remarks. Miller is a farmer from Indiana and came to the meeting representing the Indiana Corn Marketing Council. “I also want to learn as much as I can about how what I do affects the whole world and how my efforts create a global ripple that will sustain those who need what I grow the most,” he added. Miller is a fifth-generation farmer from Indiana and produces corn and soybeans, primarily as a 100 percent no-till row crop operation. He was elected to the Council’s officer rotation in 2019. Previously, Miller was a finance officer for Lockheed Martin, a contracting officer for the U.S. government, and a U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant.

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Protecting Horses Against West Nile Virus

Since 1999, more than 25,000 cases of West Nile Virus encephalitis have been reported in horses, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners. “When you talk about West Nile Virus, you’re talking about the Culex (KOO-lex) mosquito,” says Dr. Justin Talley, Department Head for Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University. “The biggest challenge is that in addition to feeding on horses, they also feed on birds, which is why they’re good at transmitting the virus into horses.” The number of cases is difficult to predict every year and will vary based on bird populations. You will see more mosquitoes in late summer or the fall, so the chances can improve greatly from the summer. Moving air plays a big part in mosquito control. “Get the air moving around horses because mosquitoes are weak fliers,” Talley says. “Don’t forget vaccinations and good barn keeping. Remove standing water and clean a horse’s water trough.”

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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.