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National Ag News for August 25, 2022

Vilsack Announces New Program for Underserved, Minority Farmers

A new $550 million program from the Department of Agriculture seeks to support projects that help underserved producers. The program supports projects that enable producers access to land, capital, and markets, and train the next diverse generation of agricultural professionals. The investments are made through funding provided in the American Rescue Plan Act, as amended by the Inflation Reduction Act. The provisions fund and direct USDA to take action to help ensure underserved producers have the resources, tools, programs, and technical support they need to succeed. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the funding is part of “USDA’s unwavering commitment to advancing equity for all, including people who have been underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” The program includes Up to $300 million for “Increasing Land, Capital and Market Access” Projects aimed at helping underserved producers. An additional $250 million goes to the “From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals” program.

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USDA Invests $121 Million in Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced $121 million in funding for critical infrastructure to combat climate change in rural America. The investments include $111 million for 289 projects to help people living in socially vulnerable communities. USDA Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh says the investments will  “strengthen our energy security, create good-paying jobs and save Americans money on their energy costs.” The funding will help people in 49 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. It reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development helps rural residents, businesses and communities address economic development, infrastructure and social service needs, according to USDA. Bronaugh highlighted a total of 415 investments that USDA is making through three programs designed to help people and businesses in rural areas. The programs are Community Facilities Disaster Grants, Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans and Grants, and Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development Grants.

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USDA Extends Infant Formula Waivers, Supports WIC State Agencies

The federal government this week extended a series of waivers to provide WIC families with additional infant formula options through the end of the year. The Department of Agriculture extended the waivers to December 31, 2022, or 60 days after the expiration of the state’s COVID-19 major disaster declaration. The waivers were previously set to expire at the end of September. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “We will continue to work all hands on deck to ensure families can access infant formula.” The waivers extended allow WIC state agencies, with the necessary agreements from their infant formula contract manufacturers, to offer participants additional infant formula options, such as alternate sizes, forms and brands. USDA began offering waivers immediately after the February voluntary recall of certain Abbott powder infant formulas, which exacerbated existing supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, USDA has granted nearly 500 waivers to WIC state agencies.

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AFIA Releases State of the U.S. Feed Industry Report

The American Feed Industry Association released its annual “Our Industry, Our Promise,” report Wednesday. The report details the challenges the U.S. feed and pet food industry faced over the past year, and the steps the AFIA took to address member priorities. The report provides an overview of the segment’s impact on the U.S. economy, its efforts to promote animal food safety and worker health and safety, and its initiatives to enhance global competitiveness and industry environmental sustainability programs. AFIA President and Chief Executive Officer Constance Cullman says, “turmoil continued throughout 2021 and into 2022, but through it all, our industry stayed strong.” The report offers a look at the business climate for U.S. animal food manufacturers, state issues and regulations, management of food safety, and trade. The report also provides an update on AFIA’s educational offerings over the past year. Find the report on the AFIA website, afia.org.

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Rural Homes with Persistent Poverty Have Less Access to Internet

Households in rural persistently poor counties were the least likely to have home internet in 2015-19, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. The data released Wednesday shows more than three in ten households lack internet access at home. In comparison, only two in ten households in rural counties that were not persistently poor had no internet access at home. A similar pattern was observed in urban areas, with two in ten households in persistently poor counties lacking home internet access. Only a little more than one in ten households in urban counties that were not persistently poor had no internet access at home. For households with internet access at home, service was mainly through a subscription, which includes a range of access from dial-up to broadband to cellular data plans. USDA syas the gaps in at-home internet access and subscriptions suggest that households in persistently poor counties—and more specifically, households in rural persistently poor counties—had additional barriers to internet adoption.

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Cattle Industry Convention Looking for New Talent

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association seeks new talent to perform during the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in New Orleans next year. Applications for the National Anthem Contest and the Talent Round-Up are now being accepted. The 10th annual NCBA National Anthem Contest will accept entries through October 15, 2022. The contest winner will perform the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the convention’s Opening General Session as well as the Friday night NCBA event. The winner will also receive round-trip airfare to New Orleans, a hotel room for three nights and free convention registration. Solo singers, bands and others with unique talents are also encouraged to enter the Talent Round-Up by November 11, 2022. Selected acts will receive complimentary registration, be invited to perform on the Beef’s Got Talent stage during convention, and be recognized through social media. For more information and to enter, visit convention.ncba.org.

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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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