National Ag News for April 25, 2023

AFBF: Families Deserve Truth in Food Labeling

America’s families deserve to know what they’re buying when shopping in the dairy aisle, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. AFBF Monday filed comments with the Food and Drug Administration. The comments call on the agency to enforce food labeling standards for dairy substitute products and enforce existing prohibitions on the misleading labeling of nut- and other plant-based beverage products as “milk.” AFBF supports a consumer’s right to access dairy-free products, but one in four Americans, 83 million people, are confused or have been misled about whether dairy alternatives contain milk, according to a survey used by FDA. AFBF Public Policy Vice President Sam Kieffer says, “Consumers know the healthiness of dairy labels such as ‘milk’ and may infer that any product bearing this term possesses the same or an equivalent nutritional profile.” AFBF is urging FDA to require non-dairy products to be labeled accurately, as is required in several markets outside of the U.S. For instance, “almond milk” is labeled “almond beverage” in Canada.

USDA Announces New National Institute of Food and Agriculture Director

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced the appointment of Manjit K. Misra as the new Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “Dr. Misra is an esteemed scientist and educator whose devotion to studying and sharing his knowledge of seeds with the world will benefit society and inspire generations to come.” Before joining USDA, Dr. Misra served as a Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University. For more than 30 years, he was Director of the university’s Seed Science Center. The center has administered the National Seed Health System, authorized by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, since 2001. Dr. Misra also was founding Director of the Iowa State’s Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products. The NIFA Director leads the agency’s work in advancing agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. Dr. Misra will start his new role on Monday, May 8, 2023.

Winter Cover Crops Could Reduce Nitrogen in Drainage Water

As Corn Belt states seek ways to curb nitrogen flow from farms into the Gulf of Mexico, new research suggests winter cover crops can help. Research from the University of Illinois finds widespread planting of cereal rye in Illinois could reduce nitrate in the state’s tile drainage water by 30 percent. The team simulated both cover crop planting and fertilizer timing under real climatic conditions in Illinois between 2001 and 2020. They used a crop simulation model known as Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer, which allows multi-year growth projections for more than 42 crops. Two management implications were revealed in the study. One is that farmers should apply a winter cover crop, such as cereal rye, to reduce tile water flow and nitrate loss by 25 and 30 percent, respectively. The data also reinforced that farmers should switch to spring fertilization, if possible. Cover crop adoption remains low in Illinois and the Midwest despite the availability of cost-sharing programs and growing evidence touting benefits.

California Lawmakers Request Disaster Relief for Farmers

A coalition of California lawmakers Monday requested a disaster recovery package to aid California farms and ranches devastated by historic storms earlier this year. The coalition, which includes Representatives Jim Costa, Jimmy Panetta and Zoe Lofgren, made the request in a letter to House leadership. The letter states, “We, therefore, request a disaster recovery package be swiftly put together to allow the rebuilding and recovery process to begin,” From December 27, 2022, to January 16, 2023, California had nine atmospheric rivers–each of which held as much water as a hurricane–producing powerful storms. Areas of California saw more than $500 million in estimated flood and storm damage to agricultural operations. Subsequent storms in California from February through March complicate recovery efforts further–with claims filed with the Farm Service Agency already numbering more than 1,000 and assessments still ongoing. California has more agricultural production than any other state in the union, with nearly 70,000 farms operated on 24.3 million acres.

USDA: Number of Limited-Service Restaurants in Rural America Growing

The food-away-from-home retail landscape continues to evolve. USDA’s Economic Research Service recently examined the changing food-away-from-home landscape in nonmetropolitan counties between 1990 and 2019, with a focus on the most rural counties. As of 1990, full-service restaurants were the most common restaurant type, making up 76 percent of all food-away-from-home establishments in these counties. However, over the last several decades, the composition shifted. While full-service restaurants remain the most common in rural counties, their prominence has fallen from about 75 percent of establishments to about 50 percent of establishments in 2019. By contrast, quick-service restaurants have become increasingly popular. Quick-service restaurants accounted for 18 percent of the total number of establishments in rural counties in 1990 but have since doubled, making up 36 percent of all food-away-from-home establishments in 2019. USDA researchers conclude that the shift could affect overall food options available for consumers in these rural areas.

Sorghum Bran Rises as an Ingredient for Enhancing Gluten-Free Bread

Sorghum bran, often a low-cost byproduct of sorghum milling, can enhance gluten-free bread’s nutritional value without compromising its flavor, according to a new study. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service studied sorghum bran to improve gluten-free foods. One of the USDA researchers says, “we used optimization models to create a gluten-free bread with enhanced dietary fiber while preserving other desirable bread attributes such as color, texture, and flavor.” The study found that people liked the gluten-free bread that contains 14.2 percent sumac sorghum bran. According to the National Institutes of Health, about two million people in the United States have celiac disease, an autoimmune condition, and must avoid dietary gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Additionally, over 20 percent of U.S. consumers purchase gluten-free products without a medical reason. The potential health benefits provided by tannin-containing sorghum bran in gluten-free foods can benefit consumers who must avoid gluten as well as those seeking other food options.


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.