National Ag News for May 17, 2023

Biden Administration Announces $11 Billion Clean Energy Investment

The Biden Administration Tuesday announced the availability of nearly $11 billion in grants and loan opportunities to help rural energy and utility providers. The funding will help bring affordable, reliable, clean energy to communities across the country. The announcement is the single largest investment in rural electrification since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act into law in 1936. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that through the effort, the administration is “supporting thousands of new jobs and helping lower energy costs in the future.” Funding is available through two programs under the Inflation Reduction Act. Specifically, the Department of Agriculture will open a Letter of Interest process for the Empowering Rural America program, making $9.7 billion available to eligible rural electric. USDA will also open a Letter of Interest process for the Powering Affordable Clean Energy program, making $1 billion available in partially forgivable loans to renewable-energy developers and electric service providers.

USDA Releases Black Sea Trade Vulnerability Dashboard

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday released a dashboard demonstrating the scope of Black Sea grain and oilseed trade. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service says millions of tons of grain are shipped through the region annually, making the Black Sea region a major supplier of agricultural commodities worldwide. The dashboard demonstrates the impacts Black Sea trade disruption can have on food access in various countries. The analysis focuses on key commodities, including barley, corn, soybean oil, sunflower seed oil, and wheat. For each country, the largest suppliers are shown, which allows the dashboard to illustrate the potential impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine. USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Alexis M. Taylor, says, “By looking at the Vulnerabilities to Trade Disruption dashboard, it becomes very clear how big an impact Russia’s war has on food security in countries.” The dashboard and all other USDA FAS tools and reports are available at

Socially Disadvantaged farms Concentrated in South and West

Data from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers tend to be more concentrated in southern and western regions of the country. USDA defines socially disadvantaged farmers as those belonging to groups subject to racial or ethnic prejudice. In some counties, the proportion of operations classified as racially or ethnically socially disadvantaged is more than 58 percent, such as in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida. Overall, socially disadvantaged farms accounted for 9.4 percent of the two million farms in the United States. In 2017, 1.3 percent of all producers identified themselves as Black or African American only, 1.7 percent identified as American Indian or Alaska Native only, 0.6 percent identified as Asian only, 0.1 percent as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander only, and 0.8 percent of all producers reported more than one race. In addition, 3.3 percent of all producers of any race indicated Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.

2022 National Beef Quality Audit Shows Efficiency Improvements

The beef cattle industry is producing a high-quality product that consumers want more efficiently. NCBA this week announced the findings as part of the 2022 Beef Checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Audit results. Since 1991, the Beef Checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Audit has delivered a set of guideposts and measurements for cattle producers  to help determine quality conformance of the U.S. beef supply. NCBA’s Josh White says, “The NBQA is an important tool for the industry to identify where improvements are being made and where there are opportunities to capture more value.” When comparing 2016 and 2022 NBQAs, the largest improvement was overall increased efficiency across the beef supply chain. Key findings include market segments no longer consider food safety as a purchasing criterion, but as an expectation, and market sectors indicated that their companies strive to increase their sustainability. The NBQA, conducted approximately every five years, provides an understanding of what quality means to the various industry sectors, and the value of those quality attributes.

Certified Angus Beef Expands Offering with Grass-Fed Beef

Consumer demand for high-quality beef has been a long-time sales driver for Certified Angus Beef, and ultimately, it has increased demand for superior Angus genetics. As consumer preferences evolve, the brand is growing to provide premium beef for every liking. And now, that will include a grass-fed option: Certified Angus Beef Grass-Fed by Niman Ranch. Certified Angus Beef President John Stika says, “This product will represent a small portion of total sales, but it’s an important addition that helps us meet the needs of consumers who have different preferences.” The Certified Angus Beef  Grass-Fed by Niman Ranch product will make up less than one percent of the total CAB supply. A niche product, the grass-fed, natural beef will initially only be available through a few, exclusive restaurants and grocery stores. Consistent with all Certified Angus Beef brand products, the grass-fed beef must meet all ten specifications to qualify for the brand.

Lawmakers Ask Automakers to Keep AM Radio

A group of more than 100 lawmakers this week signed a letter to automakers expressing concerns about the removal and planned removal of AM radio receivers in vehicles. Representative Greg Pence, an Indiana Republican, led the effort, and says, “If automakers are seeking to remove access to AM radio, my constituents deserve an explanation as to how this could impact their lives and public safety.” The letter highlights the need of rural Americans to access AM radio, given limited internet and cell phone connectivity. The letter states, “We urge you to maintain AM radio receivers in all vehicles and prioritize consumers and public safety.” Federal data shows that more than 75 radio stations, mostly AM stations, cover at least 90 percent of the U.S. population and are equipped with backup communications equipment for broadcasting during public emergencies. There have been reports that automakers, including Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Mazda, Volvo, Tesla, Polestar, Rivian, GM, and Mercedes Benz, removed, or are planning to remove, broadcast AM radio receivers from all-electric 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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