National Ag News for December 8, 2022

Top House Ag Republican Wants Enhanced Safety Net

The top Republican on the House Ag Committee wants a stronger safety net for U.S. farmers. Pennsylvania Republican Glenn Thompson wants Congress to strengthen crop insurance and farm subsidy programs so producers don’t have to rely on stop-gap federal aid to survive challenges like trade wars, natural disasters, and COVID-19. “The need for a reliable farm safety net is paramount,” says Thompson. He will likely become the committee chair in January when Republicans gain a slim majority in the House. Agriculture Dot Com says almost 80 percent of federal agriculture funding has moved through bailout programs since 2018. Farm groups want higher reference prices, a factor in calculating subsidy payments, and more protection under the federal crop insurance program. Some industry experts say a status-quo farm bill is possible because of the small majorities in the House and Senate and a potential lack of new funding sources for the farm bill.

Bunge Expecting Big Jump in Renewable Diesel Production

The U.S. is about to more than double its production capacity for renewable diesel. Reuters says that prediction comes from Greg Heckman, the CEO of Bunge, who says the country’s production capacity should hit five billion gallons by 2024. Heckman recently said his company hasn’t changed its own capacity plans after the recent RFS blending requirements didn’t increase as much as the industry expected. “Demand is up,” he says. “It’s sure not affecting us as we’ve been making plans for the long term.” Bunge formed a joint venture with Chevron in 2021 and announced plans to expand processing capacity by 2024 at Bunge’s soy-crushing facilities in Illinois and Louisiana. Those beans can be used to produce soy-based biodiesel. Other companies like JP Morgan say the EPA’s proposal on biofuel blending requirements calls for a “surprisingly low amount of growth,” and they worry about an oversupply of biodiesel without large enough mandates.

Consider Corn Challenge Winner Almost Ready for Commercialization

ExoPolymer, Inc. won the Consider Corn Challenge 2 Contest and has taken its idea one step closer to commercialization. The new partnership with CP Kelco will help the company scale up the production of a new polysaccharide-based polymer. It’s domestically-produced by microbial fermentation using corn sugar as a feedstock. “We’re thrilled to see a previous Consider Corn Challenge winner, Derek Wells and ExoPolymer, continue to reach key milestones and get closer to commercializing their ideas,” says NCGA Director of Market Development Sarah McKay. “This is our hope for all winners and is the goal of the contest.” NCGA also says it wants to highlight some of the great research going on using corn as an industrial feedstock, which in turn increases corn demand. If all 15 winners of the Consider Corn Challenges reached full commercialization with products available in the marketplace, that could be an additional 3.4 billion bushels of new corn demand. ***********************************************************************************
USDA Investing $981 Million to Expand Market Opportunities

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced his department is investing $981 million to help create new and better market opportunities and expand services for rural people, businesses, and entrepreneurs. The funds will be used to assist people in 47 states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. “Rural people provide the everyday essentials our country depends on,” he says. “The partnerships we’re announcing today demonstrate USDA’s commitment to advocating for rural business owners and building brighter futures for everyone in rural America.” The funding will keep resources and wealth made by rural people right at home through affordable financing and technical assistance. It will also help rural Americans start businesses and allow small business owners to grow. It also opens doors to new economic opportunities for communities and people who’ve historically lacked access to resources and funding. USDA is making 242 awards through eight programs designed to create economic opportunities for rural people and businesses.

USDA Letter Emphasizing Western Drought and Conservation Priorities

Senators Micheal Bennet of Colorado and Mitt Romney of Utah led a bipartisan group of 14 senators in sending a letter to USDA about the western drought and conservation priorities. They’re asking the agency to give parity to the urgent priorities of Western growers and communities through existing authorities, new funding, and collaboration across government. “The American West is in crisis,” the senators say in the letter. “Farm and ranch families hang in the balance as they grapple with a 22-year mega-drought.” They also say the acute shortage of water for Western growers threatens productive farmland across our states, which are both a pillar of rural economies and drivers of American food production. In the letter, the senators asked USDA to support Western farmers and ranchers to conserve water, improve water infrastructure and efficiency, protect lands at risk of erosion, and provide technical assistance for growers in regions hurt by drought.  

There are Enough Christmas Trees to Meet the Demand

The Christmas tree industry wants Americans to know there will be enough trees available to meet the demand for real Christmas trees. Marsha Gray, executive director of the Real Christmas Tree Board, says,” The industry met the demand in 2021 and will do so again this year. This is a year with few surprises.” Gray also says their annual survey found that 86 percent of real Christmas tree buyers had no problems finding a nearby place to get their trees in 2021. “Our grower survey tells us the demand for real trees is healthy,” Gray says. “Retailers see steady consumer interest in real Christmas trees and supply is pretty well matched to that interest.” Like many other sectors of U.S. agriculture, Christmas tree growers say their input costs have risen compared to last year. Consequently, many growers had a five to 15 percent increase in their wholesale prices compared to last year.


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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