NATIONAL AG NEWS SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

National Ag News for September 21, 2022

Grassley Introduces Bipartisan Biochar Research Network Act

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa Tuesday introduced the Biochar Research Network Act. The Iowa Republican’s legislation seeks to study the effectiveness of biochar, which is a carbon-rich material produced from biomass. Specifically, the bill would establish a national biochar research network to test the impact of biochar across various soil types, application methods and climates to learn more about its capacity to benefit farmers and the environment. Grassley says, “A lot of work remains to fully understand the benefits biochar could provide, and that’s why I’m honored to lead the introduction of the Biochar Research Network Act.” The proposed research network would work to understand productive uses for biochar to help with crop production and climate mitigation. The network would also assess biochar’s potential for soil carbon sequestration and deliver cost-effective and practical information to farmers on sustainable biochar production and application. A companion bill was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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NCBA Extremely Disappointed with White House Biotechnology Executive Order

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association expressed disappointment Tuesday over an Executive Order announced last week. The White House last week released the Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy. NCBA President Don Schiefelbein says, “Unfortunately, we are extremely disappointed that this Executive Order also addresses fake meat production under the guise of food security.” He adds, “Supporting cell-cultured, fake meat products is the wrong approach, and the administration should remain focused on supporting America’s farmers and ranchers.” NCBA encourages the administration to support the biotechnology innovations already occurring in the cattle industry. According to the organization, technology like gene editing is critical to improving cattle health and wellbeing, while also helping the U.S. cattle industry demonstrate climate neutrality by 2040. NCBA says cattle producers play an important role in ensuring food security and has long fought for policies that help producers remain in business while raising the highest quality beef in the world.

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USDA Expands SNAP Online Shopping, Adds New Retailers

The Department of Agriculture continues to expand opportunities for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, participants to conveniently shop online for groceries. USDA reported Tuesday more than 150 additional retailer chains now offer online shopping to SNAP participants, representing thousands of stores. In collaboration with state agencies and vendor partners, USDA expanded the availability of SNAP online purchasing to 49 states and the District of Columbia, providing more than 99 percent of all SNAP participants with access to online purchasing. USDA’s Stacey Dean says, “Expanding the diversity of our online shopping retailers is a critical component of our nutrition security goal to provide better access to healthy, safe, affordable foods.” In July 2022, just over three million SNAP households shopped online, a substantial increase from March 2020, when about 35,000 SNAP households shopped online. In the last four months, 44 retailers were added to the program, representing 1,240 store locations.

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CoBank: Off-farm Income Increasingly Important

A new study shows increasing dependence on off-farm employment and income reveals the growing economic interconnection of rural communities and surrounding cities. According to a study by researchers at the University of Missouri, 82 percent of U.S. farm household income now comes from off-farm sources. The study was commissioned by CoBank and completed in partnership with CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange. Most farmers cited reliable income as the top reason for off-farm employment, as one-half of farm households have negative farm income in a typical year. Health and retirement benefits were also cited as key reasons for off-farm jobs within farm households. Among the study’s key findings is that rural communities have increasingly diverse economies, and success within a rural community’s agricultural sector is largely dependent on other sectors of the regional economy at large. Today, only 6.5 percent of workers in rural counties are employed in agriculture, compared to 15.4 percent in 1970.

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AEM Releases Sustainability Toolkit for Manufacturers

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers recently unveiled its equipment industry Sustainability Toolkit. The toolkit provides assessments and resources to help manufacturers and their supply chains minimize operational impact on the environment. The toolkit aims to advance the equipment manufacturing industry’s efforts to align with evolving regulation and support a more sustainable world. AEM President Megan Tanel says the toolkit is “a resource to help our member companies take action to deliver lasting change to protect the environment.” AEM Sustainability Council Chair Karen Cecil adds, “The assessments in the toolkit provide actionable best practices for improving sustainability opportunities and efficiency, plus minimizing risks.” The toolkit offers action plans, tools, and best practices to implement under four phases of the sustainability maturity model. The toolkit also features several assessments designed to help company leaders navigate the evolving sustainability landscape and identify areas for improvement.

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New Leader Brings Innovative Perspective to CropLife America Policy Efforts

CropLife America Tuesday announced the hiring of incoming Vice President, Government Relations Peggy Browne. With years of experience in agriculture, government, and policy, Peggy will use her expertise to lead CropLife America’s government relations team. CropLife America president and CEO Chris Novak says, “Peggy’s background and passion for agriculture, her understanding of government, and her demonstrated leadership will help CropLife continue to move industry priorities forward.” Before joining CLA, Browne worked for USDA’s Farm Service Agency —starting first in Oregon as the state executive director before moving to Washington, D.C., as the deputy administrator of field operations. Browne also recently worked on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Browne founded and was president and CEO of Browne Consulting, where she worked with farmers to develop and manage conservation projects, advised clients on water rights issues, Farm Bill programs and more. Her agriculture experience is grounded in her experience as a farmer/rancher in Oregon, where she served as vice president of the Oregon Farm Bureau.

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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.