National Ag News for March 23, 2023

Coalition Calls for Farm and Food Business Technical Assistance in the Farm Bill 

An agriculture-focused coalition Wednesday asked the House and Senate Agriculture Committees for dedicated funding for business technical assistance and farm viability in the upcoming Farm Bill.  American Farmland Trust, the Agricultural Viability Alliance, and a national coalition of agricultural organizations, service providers, nonprofits, businesses, lending institutions, and government entities made the request in a letter to lawmakers. The call for dedicated Farm Bill funding builds on work that AFT, in partnership with the Agricultural Viability Alliance, began in 2021 requesting USDA to set aside a portion of Coronavirus relief funding for one-to-one business technical assistance. Business technical assistance covers a wide range of one-to-one services offered to farm and food businesses by nonprofit organizations, state agencies, private consultants, and extension services. Customized to meet the unique needs of individual businesses, these services include coaching, skill development, and planning related to financial and labor management, marketing and business strategies, farm transfer and succession, and access to land and capital.

Grains Council Signs Ethanol MOU in Panama

The U.S. Grains Council this week signed an ethanol memorandum of understanding with the Industrial Association of Sugar Cane of Panama. The signing came as part of a USDA trade mission to South America. The Grains Council held a regional seminar in Panama City that brought together stakeholders and government officials from Central American countries and the Dominican Republic to learn about ethanol and gasoline blending in the region. The MOU recognizes the importance of assessing the role and benefits of biofuels and ethanol in promoting economic growth, diversification of the energy matrix and decarbonization of transportation in the global energy transition to address global greenhouse gas emissions. USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor says, “This MOU bolsters economic and energy security through both domestic production and strengthening trade ties between our two nations.” Global ethanol consumption has grown from 16 billion gallons in 2010 to more than 27 billion in 2022.

NCGA to EPA: Ensure Consumer Access to Higher Ethanol Blends

The National Corn Growers Association urged EPA officials to implement a petition from Midwest governors that would remove barriers to higher blends of ethanol and avoid further delay. EPA’s public hearing reviewed the agency’s recent proposal to implement a plan from eight Midwest governors to require lower-volatility gasoline so drivers in those states continue to have year-round access to fuel with 15 percent ethanol, often marketed as Unleaded 88. EPA has proposed delaying implementation of the governors’ plan until 2024. NCGA President Tom Haag took issue with the delays to date and urged EPA to avoid further delays in implementation. He also highlighted the emissions reduction benefits of E15 and the current cost savings of up to 20 cents or more per gallon when drivers choose E15. Haag says, “we now strongly urge EPA to implement this rule with an effective date of April 28, 2024 — as proposed –without further delay.”

USDA Announces Investments in School Meals

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced new investments to provide healthy school meals to students. USDA announced several actions to expand support and access to the school meal program including $50 million in grants to increase collaboration between schools, food producers and suppliers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “Continuing to make school meals healthier and available to more students are some of the best ways we can help our children thrive early in life.” Grants were awarded to Boise State University, the Chef Ann Foundation, Full Plates Full Potential and the Illinois Public Health Initiative. USDA says the grants will foster innovation in the school food marketplace to get a wider variety of healthy, appealing foods into the marketplace and onto kids’ lunch trays. Schools and other eligible organizations can apply for the challenge sub-grants later this year and are encouraged to check the USDA’s Healthy Meals Incentives website for updates.

Commodity Classic 2023 Sets Record Attendance

Organizers of the 2023 Commodity Classic announced more than 10,400 attendees were at the event in Orlando earlier this month. The 2023 event broke the previous Commodity Classic record of 9,770 attendees from New Orleans in 2016. Commodity Classic co-chair George Goblish says, “We knew going into the event that registration was up 30 percent over last year, but to have a record-breaking show just blew us away.” Co-chair Kenny Hartman of Illinois added, “There’s nothing like connecting in person, and it just felt like everyone was so excited to come together again to see the best agriculture has to offer. This year’s event featured more than 30 educational sessions, a sold-out trade show with more than 400 exhibitors, a keynote address by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and policy meetings of the sponsoring commodity associations. The 2024 Commodity Classic will be held February 29 – March 2, 2024, in Houston, Texas. For information, visit

Lawmaker Seeks to Ensure AM Radio in All Vehicles

Representative Josh Gotthemier this week urged electric vehicle manufacturers to include AM radio in their cars and trucks. The New Jersey Democrat says, “I would think that if Elon Musk has enough money to buy Twitter and send rockets to space, he can afford to include AM radio in his Teslas.” The lawmaker says that despite the public safety uses of AM radio, many EV manufacturers have stopped including AM radio in their vehicles. AM radio is the backbone behind America’s National Public Warning System, which provides emergency-alert and warning information to the public during major natural disasters and domestic threats. Gottheimer is writing to major EV auto manufacturers urging them to reconsider their decision to discontinue AM radio in their cars. Gottheimer also called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to add AM radio to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to require that all automakers include AM radio as a stock feature in their vehicles.


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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