National Ag News for December 1, 2022

House Acts to Prevent Rail Strike

The House of Representatives Wednesday took action to avert a pending rail strike. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on the house floor Wednesday, stated, “A shutdown would grind our economy to a halt, and every family would feel the strain,” while adding, “Small businesses wouldn’t be able to get their products to market. Many of them, as I say, farmers.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says the action is “a positive step toward keeping that chain moving,” referring to the agricultural supply chain’s reliance on rail access. The resolution will now go to the Senate for consideration. It will need 60 votes to pass the Senate before arriving at President Biden’s desk for his signature. Pelosi pledged two actions by the House, with the first being the resolution to prevent a rail strike. The second action by the House is a separate measure that would give railway employees seven days of paid sick leave per year.

McDonald’s Files Lawsuit Alleging Pork Price Fixing

McDonald’s this week filed a lawsuit against pork packing companies alleging price fixing. The lawsuit names Agri Stats, Clements Food Group, Hormel Foods, JBS USA, Seaboard Foods, Smithfield Foods, Triumph Foods and Tyson foods as defendants in the case. Legal documents show McDonald’s claims the defendants and their coconspirators collectively control over 80 percent of the wholesale pork market. The lawsuit alleges the defendants entered into a conspiracy from around 2008 or early 2009 through the present to fix, raise, maintain, and stabilize the price of pork. McDonald’s claims defendants implemented their conspiracy by agreeing with their competitors to restrict output and limit production. The lawsuit says that the data compiled by Agri Stats is a classic enforcement and implementation mechanism of a price-fixing scheme. Because of the alleged price fixing, McDonald’s claims it paid inflated prices for pork during the time frame outlined in the lawsuit, adding, Thus, plaintiff suffered injury and damages due to defendants’ anticompetitive conduct.”

Specialty Crops Growth Shows Need for Expanded Risk Management Tools

Specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables and nuts, make up almost one-third of total crop sales in the United States, but many specialty crop acres remain uninsured. American Farm Bureau Federation economists recently examined specialty crop coverage. The Market Intel report found that more than 80 percent of the acreage of hazelnuts, kiwifruit, strawberries and lettuce remain uncovered through the Federal Crop Insurance Program or Noninsured Crop Disaster Program. Meanwhile, more than 50 percent of walnut, pecan, peach, squash, sweet corn, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber and pepper acreage lacks coverage. Since 2000, risk management participation has increased in most specialty crop categories. AFBF has made expanding insured commodities to include specialty crops one of its priorities for the 2023 farm bill. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “The 2023 farm bill should recognize those differences and offer programs that provide the same protections regardless of what a farmer chooses to grow.”

NCGA Applauds New Legislation Resolving E15 Uncertainty

A group of Midwest lawmakers this week introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. The legislation would ensure permanent, full-market access to E15, often marketed as Unleaded 88. The National Corn Growers Association applauded the legislation. NCGA President Tom Haag says the legislation “will ensure drivers across the country continue to have year-round access to safe, low-cost, low-emission E15.” Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, and Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, introduced the bill with 13 bipartisan cosponsors. Despite EPA approving E15 for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles and a 2019 update to regulations, a 2021 court decision would have ended year-round market access to E15 last summer without the Biden administration using emergency authority to keep E15 in the market. Ensuring continued E15 sales year-round keeps a lower-emission fuel choice in the marketplace that costs less, according to NCGA. E15 cuts evaporative, carbon and tailpipe emissions compared to standard 10 percent ethanol blended fuels.

CFTC Ag Committee Announces December Meeting Agenda

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Agricultural Advisory Committee Wednesday released the agenda for its public meeting. The meeting is scheduled for December 7 at the CFTC headquarters in Washington, D.C. At the meeting, the committee will focus on topics related to the agricultural economy, including geopolitical and sustainability issues and recent developments in the agricultural derivatives markets. The committee will also address procedural matters, including topics of discussion on a forward-looking basis. Chairman Rostin Behnam says, “The Commission remains committed to maintaining the integrity of our agricultural derivatives markets.” Agenda items include the state of the agricultural economy, price limits in agricultural markets, and shipping, freight and storage impacts on grain. The CFTC Agricultural Advisory Committee advises the CFTC on issues involving the trading of agricultural commodity futures and options. Members of the committee represent agribusinesses, farmer organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and agricultural banking groups.

U.S. Live Holiday Plant Imports Reach $80 Million In 2022

Christmas trees and poinsettias are iconic symbols of the holiday season. While the vast majority are grown in the United States for domestic use, a small share of both plants are imported from Canada, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Trade is highly seasonal, with 99 percent of Christmas trees and 95 percent of poinsettias shipping between November and December. From 2000–15, live Christmas tree imports averaged around two million trees per year at an inflation-adjusted annual value of $36.1 million. However, by 2022, live tree imports reached nearly 2.8 million trees at a value of $68 million. Import values of live trees had previously spiked in 2020 because of COVID-19 supply chain issues, and prices have remained relatively high since. In the early 2000s, the United States imported as many as 5.9 million live Poinsettias per year before that number dipped to 1.2 million in 2011. In 2022, live poinsettia imports totaled 2.2 million plants worth $11.5 million.


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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