National Ag News for May 4, 2023

Farm Sector Chapter 12 Bankruptcies in 2022 Lowest Since 2004

New data from USDA’s Economic Research Service confirms a decline in the farm Chapter 12 bankruptcy rate. In 2022, the Chapter 12 bankruptcy rate reached the lowest level in nearly two decades, with 0.78 bankruptcies per 10,000 farms. Under Chapter 12 bankruptcy, a financially distressed family farmer can propose and carry out a plan to repay their debts fully or partially. The total number of these bankruptcies is an indicator of financial stress in the farm sector. In 2003, the annual bankruptcy rate reached a high of 3.3 per 10,000 farms and then declined to a low of 0.5 per 10,000 farms in 2004. After 2010, the bankruptcy rate declined until 2014 but increased again in 2015, with another peak in 2019 at 2.9 bankruptcies per 10,000 farms. Since then, bankruptcies have declined to the lowest level in two decades after 2004. Wisconsin had the highest rate at 5.66 per 10,000 farms, followed by Nebraska and Kansas.

Legislation Seeks to Increase USDA Technical Service Providers

Legislation introduced in the House and Senate Wednesday seeks to help address America’s shortage of Technical Service Providers at the Department of Agriculture. Technical Service Providers help producers deploy and manage conservation programs through one-on-one assistance. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Terry Cosby recently projected his agency would need to hire between 3,000 and 4,000 employees to meet demand for technical assistance. Specifically, the bill would help build the workforce by cutting red tape, streamlining Technical Service Provider certification requirements, and ensuring they are paid the market rate. Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia, and Senator Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, lead the effort. Spanberger says, “This massive workforce issue is having real effects on the ground — and it’s slowing down the ability of producers to make smart management plans for their land.” Braun adds, “Our nation’s farmers and ranchers play a critical role in conservation, so it is important that they have access to Technical Service Providers.”

USDA Announces Finalists for 12 New USDA Regional Food Business Centers

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the creation of 12 new USDA Regional Food Business Centers. The centers will provide national coverage coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building to help farmers and ranchers access new markets and navigate federal, state, and local resources. USDA also announced a $420 million Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program to fund innovative projects designed to invest in processing and distribution capacity to build resilience across the middle of the supply chain and strengthen local and regional food systems. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the efforts will “create new and expanded local market opportunities which will improve farm income.” In September 2022, USDA announced $400 million to fund this initiative and 12 organizations were selected to lead efforts in their region and together serve all areas of the country. Regional Food Centers will target their work to historically underinvested communities. Find the 12 centers and more information on the USDA Regional Food Business Centers Program webpage.

Farm Bureau Foundation Fellows Launch Free Digital Skills and Ag Literacy Lessons

The 2023 Farm Bureau Foundation Fellows have launched four free Applied Digital Skills lessons dedicated to helping students learn about food, fuel and fiber. The lessons were developed with support from Grow with Google to make digital skills and agricultural literacy more accessible to students across the country, with a focus on rural classrooms. The lessons are part of the Agriculture and Rural Communities Collection, available for free to educators across the United States. Foundation for Agriculture executive director Daniel Meloy says, “Whether you’re a teacher in a rural, urban or suburban classroom, these lessons can be used to teach a broad variety of technical skills while fostering understanding of agriculture.” The lessons were developed over the course of an eight-month fellowship. As part of the program, each Fellow will receive a stipend and Chromebooks for their classroom. For more information, visit the Farm Bureau Foundation website,

Hershey Company Announces Income Accelerator for Cocoa Farmers

The Hershey Company recently announced the launch of its Income Accelerator in the Ivory Coast. The program will support increased incomes for cocoa farming households by providing cash transfers and investments in village savings and loan associations. The Income Accelerator offers a proven, multi-faceted approach to help address cocoa farmer poverty while also supporting sustainable farming practices and mitigating the risk of child labor. As part of the Income Accelerator, Hershey, in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, will distribute mobile cash transfers of up to $600 per household per year to approximately 5,000 cocoa farming households within its supply chain. These transfers, which will offer an additional source of income for households, will be based on the adoption of sustainable and regenerative farm management practices that increase farm profitability and resiliency to unexpected environmental circumstances. The Income Accelerator is expected to positively impact no fewer than 20,000 households within Hershey’s supply chain and related communities.

Cargill, Taco Bell, Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Announce Partnership

With bold ambitions to operate 10,000 restaurants in the coming years, Taco Bell acknowledges its responsibility to balance global expansion with intentional impact. Taco Bell is now partnering with its long-time supplier Cargill and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to implement conservation and regenerative agriculture practices across cattle grazing lands. The partnership is part of Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 50 percent by 2030. The partnership will support beef producers with technical and financial tools to expand their regenerative ranching practices, from conserving grassland ecosystems to improving river water quality and biodiversity. The commitment from Cargill and Taco Bell will allocate $2 million and will leverage up to $2 million in federal funds for a combined total of $4 million in new grants over the next four years. Taco Bell estimates the partnership will conserve and restore tens of thousands of acres and sequester up to 44,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year in 2030.


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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