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National Ag News for May 26, 2023

AFBF: Supreme Court Reaffirms Clean Water Rule

The Supreme Court Thursday ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency in the case Sackett vs. EPA regarding the Biden administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule. The court stated that wetlands under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act must have a continuous surface connection to bodies of water, making it difficult to determine where the water ends, and the wetland begins. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall responded, “The justices respect private property rights. It’s now time for the Biden administration to do the same and rewrite the Waters of the United States Rule.” Representative Dan Newhouse, a Washington state Republican and Congressional Western Caucus Chairman, says, “This landmark decision from the Supreme Court is a clear demonstration of our nation’s commitment to upholding the principles of individual property rights.” Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock added, “The decision finally restores common sense back into WOTUS regulation.”

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Japan Trade Agreement Projected to Grow U.S. Pork Exports

Japan’s pork imports are estimated to increase to more than $6 billion over the next five years, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Growth is supported by trade agreements Japan ratified between 2018 and 2021 with its major pork suppliers, including the United States, the European Union, and the ten countries party to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. These agreements mandate reductions in Japan’s trade barriers on pork imports. A recent report from USDA estimates these trade agreements will boost 2028 exports to Japan from the United States, EU, and CPTPP countries to totals of $2.08 billion, $2.04 billion, and $2.03 billion, respectively. For the United States, this is a large gain compared with a scenario in which the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement did not exist. Under that scenario, U.S. pork exports to Japan would have totaled $1.41 billion, and EU and CPTPP countries would have gained market share at the expense of the United States.

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Drought Monitor: Southern Plains See Drought Relief

The Southern Plains saw drought relief over the last week, according to the latest Drought Monitor released Thursday. Still, much of the rain arrived too late to rescue winter wheat, though rangeland, pastures, and summer crops greatly benefited from the soil moisture improvements. In Texas, rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition by the Department of Agriculture improved from 51 to 36 percent during the week ending May 21. On the same date, topsoil moisture was rated less than one-third very short to short in Texas and Oklahoma. Still, despite abundant showers and thunderstorms, pockets of extreme to exceptional drought persisted in western and central Texas and across the northwestern half of Oklahoma. Farther east, most areas remained free of dryness and drought, aside from a few areas in the central Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, variable rainfall extended westward into the central and southern Rockies and eastward to the southern Atlantic Coast.

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Lab-Grown Meat Carbon Footprint Potentially Greater than Retail Beef

A new report suggests lab-grown meat may have a larger carbon footprint than retail beef. Researchers at the University of California-Davis found that lab-grown or “cultivated” meat’s environmental impact is likely to be “orders of magnitude” higher than retail beef based. Researchers conducted a life-cycle assessment of the energy needed and greenhouse gases emitted in all stages of production and compared that with beef. One of the current challenges with lab-grown meat is the use of highly refined or purified growth media, the ingredients needed to help animal cells multiply. The study found that the global warming potential of lab-based meat using these purified media is four to 25 times greater than the average for retail beef. Even the most efficient beef production systems reviewed in the study outperform cultured meat across all scenarios, suggesting investments to advance more climate-friendly beef production may yield greater reductions in emissions more quickly than investments in cultured meat.

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Program Pays Illinois Farmers to Improve Soil Health 

American Farmland Trust and ADM are launching the next season of a program that supports Illinois’s farmers and the environment. The Illinois re:generations program encourages farmers to incorporate environmentally friendly practices into their operations while offering financial incentives. The program is an expanded version of the 2022 Illinois Cover Crop Initiative and offers flexible contracts to farmers willing to adopt cover crops and/or provide data to calculate carbon intensity scores. The program provides payments to farmers who enroll in the program, and carbon assets generated from participation are being claimed by ADM. Farmers can enroll acres where practices have previously been used and choose from one to four year contracts. In 2023, farmers throughout the state can enroll for the cover crop incentive, and farmers delivering corn and beans to an ADM elevator can qualify for emissions-scoring payments. Enrollment for the 2023 program launches in June.

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Legislation Addresses Housing Shortage in Rural Communities

Lawmakers this week introduced the Forest Service Flexible Housing Partnerships Act to help address the housing shortage in rural and mountain communities. The bipartisan legislation would strengthen the authority of the United States Forest Service to lease underutilized administrative sites to address local needs, including for building affordable housing. Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, introduced the legislation. Bennet says, “This bill will build on our efforts in the 2018 Farm Bill to help communities and the Forest Service work together to build more affordable housing.” The 2018 Farm Bill secured the authority for the Forest Service to lease underused administrative sites to localities in exchange for in-kind contributions, including housing construction and improvement or maintenance of federal facilities. As a result of the housing crisis in the West, the Forest Service currently experiences a severe staffing shortage. The legislation will also help the agency provide housing for its firefighters and other critical positions to better serve the communities they work for.

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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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