National Ag News for April 19, 2023

NPPC Issues Q2 Economic Update

The National Pork Producers Council released its second quarter pork industry economic update that provides a look at the top pork industry issues, trends, and market conditions impacting farmers. The report shows pork production increased 2.3 percent through the first quarter, with the USDA now projecting a 1.4 percent annual increase in pork production this year. Retail, wholesale, and farm-level prices show a year-over-year decline. Pork and variety meat exports gained momentum in the first quarter of 2023. Pork producer returns for the remainder of this year will be influenced by various factors, including domestic and export pork demand and input prices. “The U.S. is a worldwide leader in pork production, which is a significant contributor to the U.S. economy,” says Duane Stateler, NPPC Vice President. “Pork producers will continue navigating the economic challenges to ensure we raise safe, wholesome, and affordable food for communities here and around the world.”

USDA Announces Grassland Conservation Reserve Program Signup

The USDA announced that agricultural producers and private landowners can begin signing up for the Grassland Conservation Reserve Program now through May 26. Among CRP enrollment opportunities, Grassland CRP is a unique working lands program, allowing producers and landowners to continue haying and grazing practices while conserving grasslands and promoting plant and animal biodiversity as well as healthier soil. “Grassland CRP clearly demonstrates that agricultural productivity and conservation priorities can not only coexist but also complement and enhance one another,” says Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of the Farm Service Agency. “The strength of the program lies in its many benefits.” More than 3.1 million acres were accepted through the 2022 Grassland CRP signup from agricultural producers and private landowners. That was the highest-ever level of signups for the program. The current total participation in Grassland CRP is 6.3 million acres. For information or to signup, go to your local USDA Service Center.

Wall Street Rules Don’t Belong on Family Farms

Wall Street rules intended for publicly-traded companies shouldn’t extend to family farms. That’s the message from the American Farm Bureau and six other agricultural groups to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC proposed a rule to require public companies to report on Scope 3 emissions, which are the result of activities not owned or controlled by a publicly-traded company but contribute to its value chain. Public companies that produce goods from agricultural products would need to report emissions from the relevant agricultural operations. The farm groups’ concern is that the rule will burden family farmers and ranchers and drive further consolidation in agriculture, all for no real environmental benefit. “The tracking will be extremely expensive, invasive, and burdensome for farmers and ranchers, at the cost of improved production practices that will generate actual environmental gains,” the groups say in the letter to the SEC. “Family farms will get hit hardest.”

Scott Condemns SNAP Work Requirements

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA) released a statement responding to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s debt limit framework. If that framework gets passed as proposed, it will include what Scott calls additional “punitive” work requirements for SNAP participation. “Let me be perfectly clear,” Scott says. “Holding food assistance hostage for those who depend on it, including 15.3 million children, 5.8 million seniors, and 1.2 million veterans, in exchange for increasing the debt limit is a non-starter.” He also points out that the “ransom note” McCarthy unveiled in front of a crowd of Wall Street bankers is dead on arrival. “Republican attempts to punish low-income families to pay for tax cuts they pushed through under President Trump will not result in self-sufficiency,” Scott says. “It will only drastically increase hunger for our American people.” He says the additional work requirements on top of already-existing work rules won’t spur economic growth.

USDA Offers More Funding for Expanding High-Speed Internet in Rural Areas

The USDA announced the availability of $20 million to deliver broadband technical assistance resources for rural communities and to support the development and expansion of broadband co-ops. The agency is offering the funding under the new Broadband Technical Assistance Program. The program supports technical assistance projects such as feasibility studies, completing network designs, and developing broadband financial assistance applications. Applicants can choose from one of three funding pools. “USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet,” says USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl (zo-CHEEL) Torres Small. “That’s how you grow the economy not just in rural communities but across the nation.” The undersecretary also says the agency is partnering with small towns, local utilities, cooperatives, and private companies to increase access to a critical service. “The service builds brighter futures by creating more opportunities across rural America,” she says.

Ag Retailers Association List Top Five Farm Bill Priorities

The Ag Retailers Association says it’s cautiously optimistic the Farm Bill gets written on time. However, the association is worried that debt limit discussions may interfere. It’s going to be tough this year with the farm bill coming up right as the debt ceiling discussion hits the deadline,” says Hunter Carpenter with the Ag Retailers Association. “I’m cautiously optimistic.” The group has five priorities they’re advocating for in the bill. They want the continuation of a strong farm safety net and crop insurance. They want to maintain the current acreage dedicated to conservation programs. Other priorities revolve around biologicals. The previous farm bill started to build a structure around defining plant biologicals. The new farm bill can go further in providing uniform definitions. They’d like to see the farm bill support research functions of USDA, including the National Agricultural Statistics Service. “We’re pushing hard to get it done this year,” he says.


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.