National Ag News for April 5, 2023

Commodity Prices, Interest Rates, Prompt Ag Economy Barometer Decline

Farmer sentiment weakened again in March as the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer fell eight points to a reading of 117. Both the Index of Current Conditions and the Index of Future Expectations declined eight points in March, leaving the Current Conditions Index at 126 and the Future Expectations Index at 113. Weaker prices for key commodities, including wheat, corn, and soybeans, from mid-February through mid-March were a key factor behind this month’s weaker sentiment reading. This month’s survey was conducted from March 13-17, 2023, which coincided with the demise of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. Although the March survey did not include any questions directly related to the bank closures, it did reveal that rising interest rates have become a bigger concern among farmers. Although producers still cite high input costs as their top concern, they are becoming more worried about rising interest rates and the impact those higher rates will have on their operations.

Corn Growers to EPA: Maintaining Consumer Access to E15 Increases Fuel Supply

The National Corn Growers Association president and 18 state groups call on the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure uninterrupted access to E15 through the summer. In a letter to the EPA Tuesday, the industry leaders say, “Fuel market conditions that warranted EPA’s actions last summer are expected to continue this summer.” Last year, the EPA provided a waiver to allow summertime sales of E15. NCGA points out that E15 has been sold year-round for the past four years, but outdated regulatory barriers continue to hinder permanent full-market access to E15. Retailers have increased availability of E15, often marketed as Unleaded 88, to offer consumers choice and lower fuel costs, as well as increase the fuel supply. The corn grower leaders pointed to warning signs, such as OPEC’s announcement of a 1.16 million barrels per day output reduction beginning in May, as reason the Biden administration should do everything possible to increase the domestic fuel supply to help keep prices down.

Study: UK Ag Trade Depends Heavily on Imports

New data from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows the United Kingdom is the world’s fifth-largest importer of agricultural products. The U.K. imported $78.2 billion in agricultural and related goods in 2021 and exported $31.9 billion, less than half the value of imports. Historically, the European Union has been the largest trading partner with the U.K., but the U.K.’s formal departure from the European single market, known as “Brexit,” will likely impact the UK’s trade dynamics as the country seeks to diversify trading partners. An estimated two-thirds of agricultural goods imported by the U.K. in 2021 were high-value, consumer-oriented products. The United States exported about $1.12 million in alcoholic beverages to the U.K. in 2021. Agreements between the U.K. and the United States in 2022 to allow for the export of British beef and lamb to the United States for the first time since the 1990s are expected to generate $50 million in trade over the next five years.

Grassley Joins Bill to Crack Down on Xylazine

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley joined Democrats Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Maggie Hassan to introduce the Combating Illicit Xylazine (zy-la-zeen) Act last week. Grassley of Iowa sits on the Senate Ag Committee and joins the effort to crack down on the highly dangerous sedative causing fatal overdoses nationwide. Xylazine is an easily accessible veterinary tranquilizer that is being used as a low-cost cutting agent. The Drug Enforcement Agency recently reported 23 percent of fentanyl powder contained it in 2022. The legislation would classify xylazine illicit use under Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act and enable the DEA to track its manufacturing to ensure it is not diverted to the illicit market. However, lawmakers say the bill will also protect access for veterinarians, farmers, cattlemen, and ranchers by protecting the veterinary medicine use of xylazine. The American Veterinary Medical Association “fully supports” the effort, adding. “it strikes the right balance of protecting our communities while preserving veterinary access to this critically important animal drug.”

USDA: Look for Invasive Pests This Month

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday declared April as 2023 Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. The outreach effort is dedicated to highlighting the impact of invasive plant pests and diseases on plants nationwide. The campaign also seeks to inform Americans on how they can help reduce the spread of invasive plant pests. Each year, invasive insects and plant diseases cause an estimated $40 billion in damages to plants, including key agricultural crops. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “This spring, familiarize yourself with the invasive pest quarantines in your area and do your part to avoid inadvertently moving invasive insects and plant diseases to new areas.” Nonnative plant pests can hitchhike in untreated firewood, attach themselves to cars, boats, and other outdoor surfaces—or take a ride in the mail. They can travel to new areas on agricultural materials such as soil, seeds, homegrown produce, and plants.

FMC Collaboration Seeks Improved Farm Safety in Ukraine

FMC Corporation and The HALO Trust this week announced a new collaboration to improve farm safety in Ukraine. Under its Cultivating Freedom campaign, FMC will donate three percent of its 2023 sales revenue in Ukraine to significantly expand The HALO Trust’s demining efforts. With the funding, The HALO Trust will be able to increase its capacity to remove landmines from Ukrainian farms. FMC president and CEO Mark Douglas says, “This project not only ensures Ukrainian farmers can safely return to their fields for planting and harvest, but it also contributes to improving food security around the globe.” James Cowan, CEO of The HALO Trust CEO James Cowan adds the investment “will allow us to invest in the people, equipment and new technology needed for the enormous task of making Ukraine safe from landmines, bombs and shells.” The collaboration between FMC and The HALO Trust will start this month in several communities across Ukraine.


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.