National Ag News for September 27, 2022

USDA Announces Action to Spur Competition, Protect Producers and Reduce Costs

The Biden administration Monday announced two new Department of Agriculture efforts to support fair and competitive meat and poultry markets. The efforts include publishing the proposed Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity Rules Under the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect farmers and ranchers from abuse, and a new $15 million Agricultural Competition Challenge to ramp up collaboration with the State Attorneys General on enforcement of competition laws, such as laws against price-fixing. The two efforts come from the White House Competition Council, which held a meeting Monday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “USDA is focused on building new, fairer, and more resilient markets, protecting producers, and reducing food costs.” Earlier this year, USDA and the Department of Justice announced their commitment to work closely together to effectively enforce federal competition laws, including by launching the complaint portal for reporting suspected violations of federal competition law.

USMCA Partners Host Environmental Committee Meeting

Officials from the United States, Mexico and Canada met last week as part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s Environment Committee. The committee was established as part of the USMCA to oversee the Environment Chapter’s implementation and provide a forum to discuss and review chapter implementation. At the meeting, the officials discussed progress and challenges faced in implementing the environmental obligations since the Agreement’s entry into force in 2020. The committee also discussed follow-up items from the first Committee meeting, including the findings of a mapping exercise to identify gaps and opportunities for trilateral collaboration for implementing Chapter 24 commitments, recognizing the need to ensure complementarity and avoid duplication with efforts already underway by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. In addition, the committee held a public session to share information and hear from stakeholders from Canada, Mexico, and the United States regarding the implementation of Chapter 24.

Insured Acreages Vary Widely Across Fruit and Nut Specialty Crops

USDA’s Economic Research Service Monday reported insured acres of specialty crops vary widely across specific crop types. USDA’s Risk Management Agency offers Federal Crop Insurance Program products to cover specialty crops in counties with enough data available to offer a sound insurance product. Using cherries as an example, crop insurance is available for cherry growers who operate in counties with a high number of cherry acres. Because of this, farmers used federal crop insurance to cover about 65 percent of all cherry acres. Cherry growers outside of those counties used the USDA Farm Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program to cover about 20 percent of all cherry acres, leaving only 15 percent of acres not covered by any risk management program. For some crops, however, federal risk management programs covered only a small portion of acres. Kiwifruits and strawberries, for example, had less than 15 percent of acres covered, while hazelnuts had less than one percent.

AEM Hosts Record-breaking DC Fly-in

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers Monday reported a record attendance for its Washington, D.C. fly-in last week. Representing equipment manufacturers and suppliers from across the country, participants met with 70 lawmakers. The group advocated for pro-manufacturing policies that will help equipment manufacturers succeed in the United States and around the world. AEM’s Kip Eideberg says, “As Congress continues its legislative business through the end of the year, we will continue to remind lawmakers that they need to reach across the aisle and work to move our country forward.” AEM members advocated for domestic supply chain investments, precision agriculture incentives to support climate-smart practices, and a grant program that supports workforce development. AEM says tariffs continue to hurt the equipment manufacturing industry. AEM asked lawmakers to establish a permanent Section 301 tariff exclusion process so American manufacturers can petition the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to remove tariffs needed for domestic manufacturing and the national economy.

Merck Animal Health to Acquire Virtual Fencing Developer

Merck Animal Health recently announced an agreement to acquire Vence, an innovator in virtual fencing for rotational grazing and livestock management. Vence provides enhanced technology for producers and ranchers to track, monitor and manage the movement of cattle through a high-tech platform of virtual fencing solutions. Using a computer or smartphone, customers can manage cattle movement and facilitate rotational grazing. Vence’s virtual fencing technology can reduce the need for fencing to subdivide pastures and allows producers and ranchers to manage their cattle and grass inventory, while reducing costs of labor and fencing materials. Merck Animal Health president Rick DeLuca says, “Vence is a natural fit with Merck Animal Health’s growing portfolio of animal intelligence products that include identification, traceability and monitoring products.” The acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2022, subject to closing conditions. Vence is available in the United States and parts of Australia.

Mixed Week for Fuel Prices

Ending the 14-week stretch of gas prices declining, the nation’s average gas price posted a rise of 3.2 cents from a week ago to $3.67 per gallon. The national average is down 17.5 cents from a month ago but 49.3 cents higher than a year ago. The national average diesel price declined 5.1 cents the last week and stands at $4.88 per gallon. Refinery snags in some areas of the country contribute to wild fluctuations as areas of the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes and Plains have seen significant refinery issues leading to supply challenges. However, the Northeast and Gulf Coast continue to see normal activity at refineries and prices there have dropped. The disconnect between regions grows larger and will likely remain abnormal for the next few weeks. Gas Buddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “A slew of unexpected refinery disruptions, including fires and routine maintenance, have seemingly all happened in a short span of time.”


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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