National Ag News for March 21, 2023

NCBA Concerned with District Court Decision to Let WOTUS Rule Stand

The Biden administration’s version of the Waters of the U.S. rule went into effect Monday. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association expressed displeasure in a District Court decision to deny a preliminary injunction of the rule. NCBA President Todd Wilkinson says, “This latest WOTUS rule will place more burdens on family farms and ranches, drive up costs, and prevent cattle producers like me from making investments in our land.” The Environmental Protection Agency finalized the latest WOTUS rule at the end of 2022. NCBA and its litigation partners filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the rule on January 18, 2023. NCBA sought a nationwide preliminary injunction, which would have prevented the federal government from implementing the WOTUS rule until the entire case is decided. Instead, the court granted a limited injunction in only two states—Texas and Idaho. NCBA Chief Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart adds, “The court’s decision to keep the Biden administration’s WOTUS rule in place is concerning and irresponsible.”

UN Reaches Black Sea Grain Initiative Extension

The United Nations Secretary-General over the weekend announced an extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The announcement came at the last minute as the agreement was set to expire. The Initiative facilitates the safe navigation for the exports of grain and related foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia, from designated Ukrainian seaports. During the first two terms, some 25 million metric tons of grain and foodstuffs have been moved to 45 countries, helping to bring down global food prices and stabilizing the markets. The Black Sea Grain Initiative, alongside the Memorandum of Understanding on promoting Russian food products and fertilizers to the world markets, are critical for global food security, especially for developing countries. The original agreement was signed in July of 2022 to address the need for Ukraine to export agricultural products during the Russia-Ukraine war. Ukrainian officials indicate the agreement was extended for another 120 days.

AFBF Hails Bipartisan Effort to Freeze Flawed Wage Rate

The American Farm Bureau Federation urges Congress to pass legislation to freeze the flawed 2023 Adverse Effect Wage Rate, or AEWR (a-were). AFBF says the rate distorts labor costs for farmers across the country who hire nearly 400,000 employees through the H-2A program. The bipartisan Farm Operations Support Act temporarily resets the AEWR at 2022 levels, providing much need wage relief to farm families and giving Congress an opportunity to deliver a fair and reasonable solution. Farm Bureau says the 2023 AEWR rule missed the mark by such a wide margin that farmers in some states experienced required wage increases of more than ten percent after smaller increases last year. The AEWR has significantly outpaced increases in the national average wage for most workers in America for most of a decade. AFBF President Zippy Duvall adds, “Farmers are committed to paying their employees a fair wage, but the new AEWR rule used flawed data to reach a flawed conclusion.”

USDA Kicks Off Central America-Dominican Republic Trade Mission

Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor arrived in Panama City Monday to launch a regional agribusiness trade mission. Taylor and the trade delegation on the trip look to develop stronger ties and build economic partnerships between the United States and Panama and markets throughout the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement region. Taylor says, “I’m confident the next few days will produce mutually beneficial results to help expand trade and increase collaboration on key issues impacting agriculture in the United States and Central America.” Local staff from FAS Panama City will host business meetings between U.S. trade mission delegates and companies from Panama and six other countries seeking to import American food and farm products. The itinerary also includes bilateral meetings with the Panamanian government, retail promotions featuring U.S. products, and a memorandum of understanding signing between the U.S. Grains Council and the Panamanian Sugar Cane National Industry on ethanal blending.

USDA Announces No Actions Under Feedstock Flexibility Program

USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation announced Monday it does not expect to purchase and sell sugar under the Feedstock Flexibility Program for crop year 2022, which ends September 2023. The CCC is required by law to quarterly announce estimates of sugar to be purchased and sold under the Feedstock Flexibility Program based on crop and consumption forecasts. Federal law allows sugar processors to obtain loans from USDA with maturities of up to nine months when the sugarcane or sugar beet harvests begin. On loan maturity, the sugar processor may repay the loan in full or forfeit the collateral, sugar, to USDA to satisfy the loan. The program was initially authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, as an option to avoid sugar forfeitures. Under the Feedstock Flexibility Program, if USDA is faced with the likelihood of loan forfeitures, it is required to purchase surplus sugar and sell it to bioenergy producers to reduce the surplus in the food use market and support sugar prices.

USDA: Education Gaps Exist Between Rural and Urban Communities

Formal educational attainment in rural America has grown, but rural areas still lag behind urban areas. USDA’s Economic Research Service data shows the share of adults ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased in rural areas from 15 to 21 percent. In the same time span, the share of adults in urban areas with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased from 26 to 36 percent, widening the rural-urban gap from 11 to 15 percentage points in these two reference periods. The rural-urban gap in the share of people with at least a bachelor’s degree is even larger for younger age groups. In 2017–21, the share of working-age adults, ages 25–64, with at least a bachelor’s degree, was 37 percent in urban areas and 21 percent in rural areas. The share of younger adults ages 25–44 with at least a bachelor’s degree was 40 percent in urban areas and 22 percent in rural areas.


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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