National Ag News for January 19, 2023

USDA Seeks Comment on Proposal to Strengthen Animal Disease Traceability

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposes to amend animal disease traceability regulations and require electronic identification for interstate movement of certain cattle and bison. APHIS is also proposing to revise and clarify record requirements. The changes would strengthen the Nation’s ability to quickly respond to significant animal disease outbreaks, according to USDA. Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they’ve been, and when, is important to ensuring a rapid response when animal disease events occur. Rapid traceability in a disease outbreak could help ranchers and farmers return to selling their products more quickly, limit how long farms are quarantined, and keep more animals from getting sick. The proposed rule would require official eartags to be visually and electronically readable for official use for interstate movement of certain cattle and bison. A comment period on the proposal through the Federal Register is open through March 22, 2023.

USDA Publishes Strengthening Organic Enforcement Final Rule

USDA’s National Organic Program Wednesday published the Strengthening Organic Enforcement final rule. The update to USDA organic regulations strengthens oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic products. The final rule implements 2018 Farm Bill mandates, responds to industry requests for updates to the USDA organic regulations, and addresses National Organic Standards Board recommendations. USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Jenny Lester Moffitt, says, “Protecting and growing the organic sector and the trusted USDA organic seal is a key part of the USDA Food Systems Transformation initiative.” The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule is the biggest update to the organic regulations since the original Act in 1990, providing a significant increase in oversight and enforcement authority to reinforce the trust of consumers, farmers, and those transitioning to organic production, according to USDA. Organic stakeholders affected by the rule will have one year from the effective date of the rule to comply with the changes.

EPA Posts Revised WOTUS to Federal Register

The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers published the revised Waters of the U.S. rule in the Federal Register Wednesday. The publication means the revised rule will go into effect on March 20, 2023. EPA and the Army Corps announced the rule at the end of 2022, which will replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. At the time, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented, “EPA has doubled down on the old significant nexus test, creating more complicated regulations that will impose a quagmire of regulatory uncertainty.” The rule comes as agriculture awaits a Supreme Court decision in the Sacketts vs. EPA case, which could send WOTUS back to the drawing board. However, the Sackett case is not focused on the new rule. AFBF General Counsel Travis Cushman says, “you would probably need to have a new challenge to that rule,” based on the Sackett Supreme Court decision.

December Producer Price Index Declines

The Producer Price Index for final demand declined 0.5 percent in December, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. The index measures the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. Final demand prices advanced 0.2 percent in November and 0.4 percent in October. The index for final demand increased 6.2 percent in 2022 after rising 10.0 percent in 2021. Prices for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services edged up 0.1 percent in December, up 4.6 percent in 2022, following a seven percent rise in 2021. Nearly half of the December decrease for final demand goods can be traced to a 13.4-percent decline in prices for gasoline. The indexes for diesel fuel, jet fuel, fresh and dry vegetables, canned, cooked, smoked, or prepared poultry, and basic organic chemicals also fell. In contrast, prices for carbon steel scrap increased 8.3 percent. The indexes for chicken eggs and for electric power also moved higher.

Horticultural Products Drive Total U.S. Agricultural Import Growth

The value of U.S. agricultural imports grew an average of four percent a year between fiscal years 2012 and 2022, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Total U.S. agricultural imports rose from $139 billion to $194 billion, with growth concentrated in select commodity groups. Horticultural products grew at a rate of six percent a year and, at $97.2 billion in value in 2022, accounted for 65 percent of the total growth in imports. Within the horticultural group, fresh fruits were the largest contributor at $17.9 billion, growing at an annual rate of nine percent over the period and accounting for 15 percent of total import growth. Key commodities in the fresh fruit group include avocados, berries, and citrus, which the United States imports mostly from Latin American countries. Demand for horticultural products has largely been driven by consumer desire for year-round supply, changing consumer preferences, and foreign production that is increasingly competitive with domestically grown produce.

IDFA Names Mike Brown as Chief Economist

The International Dairy Foods Association this week named Mike Brown as chief economist. Brown has a long and distinguished career in the dairy industry, most recently leading the milk and dairy procurement team for The Kroger Co. as director of dairy supply chain. Brown is a recognized expert on milk pricing policy and has worked for both farmer-owned cooperatives and proprietary businesses, all of which are current IDFA members. IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes says, “We are confident that with Mike Brown as IDFA’s chief economist, our approach to the future will ensure the domestic and global competitiveness of the U.S. industry.” IDFA also announced that it has engaged in consulting agreements with three policy and legal experts to support dairy policy and pricing efforts led by Carlin and Brown. They are Chip English, Steven J. Rosenbaum, and former U.S. Representative Collin Peterson. The additions come as the dairy industry expects a Federal Milk Marketing Order reform effort this 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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