National Ag News for December 5, 2022

Senate Passes Bill to Avert Catastrophic Rail Strike

The Senate passed a bill to avoid a potentially catastrophic U.S. railroad strike and sent the bill to President Biden’s desk for his signature. Crossroads Today says the vote came after mounting pressure on lawmakers to move swiftly. Without action, a strike could have taken place on December 9, which the president said would be catastrophic to the nation’s economy. Railroads transport 6,300 carloads of food and farm products every day. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 80 to 15. A separate vote on adding seven days of paid sick leave to the agreement didn’t pass. Biden was reluctant to override the vote against the contract by four unions but stressed the rail shutdown would devastate the economy. “I know that many in Congress were reluctant to bypass union ratification procedures, but the consequences would have been too great for working families across the country,” Biden said.

Positive Reaction to Senate Action Preventing Rail Shutdown

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is grateful for Congress taking swift action to prevent a crippling national rail shutdown. “A rail strike would have had significant and long-lasting effects on the American economy,” Vilsack says. “U.S. farmers and ranchers can breathe a sigh of relief that the trains will stay on track to deliver food, inputs, raw materials, and other essential items.” The Fertilizer Institute also applauded Congress for taking action to prevent a stoppage. “The rail strike would have severely disrupted fertilizer deliveries and hurt domestic production,” says TFI president and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “Rail is critical to fertilizer movement year-round.” The American Feed Industry Association also appreciates the Congressional action to avoid a strike. “Slowing or stopping the transport of goods via rail threatens the livelihoods of those hardworking Americans well beyond our nation’s tracks,” says AFIA president and CEO Constance Cullman. America’s railways move one-quarter of all U.S. grain products.

December Farm Income Forecast Shows Higher Profits

Net farm income for U.S. farmers is forecast at $160.5 billion in 2022, a $19.5 billion increase over 2021. The December Farm Sector Income and Finances report shows net cash farm income forecast at $187.9 billion in 2022, $29 billion higher than in 2021. Cash receipts from agricultural commodity sales will increase by $105 billion from 2021 to $541.5 billion this year. However, farm sector debt will increase by $27.8 billion in 2022 to almost $502 billion. Farm sector debt-to-asset levels will improve from 13.5 percent last year to 13 percent in 2022. Working capital, the amount of available cash to fund operating expenses after paying off debt due within 12 months, will rise 4.7 percent in nominal dollars but drop 1.4 percent when adjusted for inflation. Dairy farms will likely see the biggest jump in average net cash farm income, while specialty crops, cotton, and hogs the biggest decline.

*********************************************************************************** Senator Wants AM Radio in Electric Vehicles

Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey sent letters to 20 car manufacturers requesting they maintain AM radio in their vehicles, including the new EV models. In the letter, Markey says consumers still value AM radio and stressed that free broadcast radio is a critical and reliable channel for local, state, and federal government officials to communicate with the public. He also wants automakers to adopt technological solutions to address any electromagnetic interference that EVs cause with AM radio signals. “Despite innovations such as smartphones and social media, AM/FM broadcast radio remains the most dependable, cost-free, and accessible communication mechanism for public officials to communicate with the public in emergencies,” Markey says. “As a result, any phase-out of broadcast AM radio could pose a significant communication problem in an emergency.” Although investments in electric vehicles are critical in addressing the climate, automakers don’t need to sacrifice the benefit of radio in the process.

NCGA: Mexico Banning White Corn a “Non-Starter” in Negotiations

The National Corn Growers Association appreciates Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s efforts by traveling to Mexico City to discuss Mexico’s pending ban on biotech corn imports that goes into effect in 2024. Vilsack spoke with Mexican President Lopez Obrador about the importance of finding an acceptable resolution on the matter. President Obrador indicated last week that there might be room for compromise, suggesting the country would continue allowing imports of yellow corn used for livestock feed but would block white corn, imported mainly for human consumption. However, yellow corn is also food grade and nutritious in hundreds of products consumers enjoy. “Any decision to block biotech crops by Mexico would be illegal under the USMCA agreement,” says NCGA President Tom Haag. “Eliminating white corn will in no way resolve this matter.” Haag also says his group highly appreciates Secretary Vilsack for “going to the mat” on this issue for American farmers.

Soy Growers Disappointed in EPA RFS Proposal

The Environmental Protection Agency released its draft “set” rule, which sets the annual biofuel blending targets for 2023-2025 under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Soy farmers were initially pleased with EPA’s 2022 volume target, which included the highest-ever number for total renewable fuels and specifically biomass-based diesel since the RFS was created. The new proposal goes in the other direction. “This rule slams the breaks on progress being made in biofuel investments and growth,” says American Soybean Association president Brad Doyle. “Instead of continuing to support available low-emission, plant-based fuel sources, EPA has changed course and seems to ignore major investments in and consumer demand for biomass-based diesel and other biofuels that exist right now.” The multi-year set rule is supposed to provide consistency and encourage investment in the biofuels industry. ASA says these insignificant volume increases for 2023-2025 could not only stifle growth but also jeopardize the existing biofuels industry.


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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