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National Ag News for October 3, 2022

Mississippi River Shipping Rates Hit Record High

Harvest season is in high gear, and U.S. farmers have another supply chain challenge. Bloomberg says there aren’t enough barges moving goods up and down the shrinking Mississippi River. Drought is drying a vital American waterway, which means a lot less room for vessels moving corn and soybeans from farms to U.S. ports. At one point last week, barge rates hit $49.88 per ton. That’s the highest price on record and a 50 percent jump from 2021 shipping rates. More than half of the corn and soybean shipments heading to world markets travel along the Mississippi. The barge problems are hitting at harvest when the supplies of grain will be at their largest. It also follows a challenging growing season filled with weather problems and soaring inflation for things like fuel and fertilizer. Fertilizers needed by producers to grow grain are also at risk as they ship along the Mississippi.

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FTC Sues Companies Over Pay-To-Block Scheme

The Federal Trade Commission and a group of 10 state attorneys general filed a complaint in federal court against pesticide makers Syngenta Crop Protection and Corteva. The complaint accuses the manufacturers of allegedly paying distributors to block competitors from selling their cheaper generic products to farmers. The complaint says the firms run “loyalty programs” in which distributors only get paid if they limit business with competing manufacturers. Cutting off the competition allowed the defendants to inflate their prices and force American farmers to spend millions of dollars more on their products. The complaint seeks to shut down the illegal pay-to-block scheme and restore competition to affected markets. “The FTC is suing to stop Syngenta and Corteva from maintaining their monopolies through harmful tactics that have jacked up pesticide prices for farmers,” says FTC Chair Lina Khan. “By paying to block generic producers from the market, these companies deprived farmers of cheaper options.”

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Logan Confirmed to Farm Credit Administration Board

Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member John Boozman announced that the Senate confirmed Vincent Logan to the Farm Credit Administration Board. “His background in both the agriculture and financial sectors makes him well-qualified for this role,” Stabenow says. “He will be the first Native American to serve as a board member.” Ranking Member Boozman says he’s happy to see Logan’s confirmation. “His experience and expertise will help guide a mission that’s critical to the success of our family farmers, ranchers, and agriculture businesses. I look forward to working with him to provide dependable credit sources.” Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose says they congratulate Mr. Logan on his confirmation and look forward to working with him. “He’s well-qualified to serve on the FCA Board, and we appreciate the Senate Agriculture Committee and the full Senate’s swift action to fill the board seat,” Van Hoose says.

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NMPF on Short-Term Infant Formula Imports

The National Milk Producers Federation says the temporary, short-term lifting of restrictions on infant formula imports to address the rare infant formula shortage is a positive move to fill the supply gap. “We did not oppose the just-passed Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act given its targeted volume and limited time frame,” says NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “Those guardrails are necessary to ensure that imports temporarily complement U.S. supplies rather than displace existing available dairy formula ingredients.” However, Mulhern says his group “emphatically” opposes efforts that would create long-term dependence on foreign suppliers for a critical nutritional food. “The focus must be to develop additional production in the U.S. necessary to ensure that this crisis isn’t repeated,” Mulhern adds. “As COVID taught us, only a robust domestic supply chain with American workers and U.S. sources of production can best protect families from disruptions of critically-needed products.”

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Korean Grain Importers will View Corn Crop in Four States

A team of feed grain and DDGS buyers from Korea will be in the U.S. in early October to take a close look at the corn crop. The team, which includes a Korean government official, will get to better understand grain quality control and export systems in Washington, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. The team is the first of 21 groups with participants from 51 countries that will travel to the U.S. as a lead-up to the U.S. Grains Council’s biggest event, the Export Exchange. Export Exchange is a biennial educational and trade forum for U.S. feed grains and will host more than 400 international buyers and end-users. “The Council is delighted to hold the Export Exchange again for the first time since 2018,” says USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “It’s a great opportunity for foreign buyers to create connections with U.S. producers.” Export Exchange is in Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 12-14.

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FSA to Consider Eliminating District Committees

Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux told lawmakers late last week that he’ll give serious consideration to the recommendation to replace the FSA’s district committee system. Industry Update Dot Com says the USDA’s Equities Commission recently made the recommendation. However, Ducheneaux says the district committee system is an opportunity for producers to be an important part of the process, but it’s also important for those committees to be representatives of those who produce. The administrator says the district committees evaluate regional prices and determine producers’ rights, but they don’t have the right to influence the loan approval process. “We’ve been involved at every opportunity with members of the Equity Commission,” he says. “But we have to understand that we’re working to overcome the decades and generations when it was members of the county commissions that considered the loan applications.” Former FSA officials also say the county committees are important to the FSA’s mission.

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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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