National Ag News for September 19, 2023

USDA Seeking Beginning Farmer and Ranchers Committee Members

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced a call for nominations to the Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. First established in 1992, the committee advises the Agriculture Secretary to enhance USDA’s goals for new farming and ranching operations. Members of the public are invited to submit nominations for themselves or other qualified experts by October 10, 2023. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “USDA is committed to helping the beginning farmer, the young farmer, access and make use of USDA programs.” USDA is soliciting nominations from interested organizations and individuals from among ranching and farming producers, related state and tribal agricultural entities, academic institutions, commercial banking entities, trade associations, and related nonprofit enterprises. The Agriculture Secretary may appoint up to 20 members to the committee. An organization may nominate individuals from within or outside its membership. Interested candidates may also nominate themselves. Find the nomination requirements and information on the committee website.

USDA Data Shows Crop Improvement R&D Spending Expanding

Total research and development spending on crop improvement by the seven largest seed companies increased from less than $2 billion in 1990 to more than $6.5 billion by 2021. USDA’s Economic Research Service reports the spending closely tracks with increases in company revenues from seed and agrichemical sales. Intellectual property rights protections for new seed innovations—especially genetically modified seeds—allow seed companies to set product prices with a temporary legal monopoly. The profits earned are a return for research and development investments and costs to commercialize the inventions. The profits also allowed seed companies to spend more on crop research and development, accelerate the rate of new variety introductions with higher productivity potential, and charge higher prices reflecting the value of improved seeds, according to USDA. Collectively, the seven companies have invested about ten percent of their agricultural revenues in research and development. The top companies include Bayer, Corteva, Syngenta, BASF, Limagrain, KWS and Rijk Zwaan (rike-svan).

USTR to Deliver Speech on WTO Reform

Trade Representative Katherine Tai will deliver a speech on the World Trade Organization and participate in a fireside chat Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Tai will also participate in a fireside chat with the WTO Director-General. In her speech, Ambassador Tai will underscore the importance of reform at the World Trade Organization to make it a more effective, responsive, and inclusive forum for solving today’s global challenges. She will also highlight areas of reform that are a priority to the United States, and how the United States is engaging with other WTO Members to advance these priorities. The Center for Strategic and International Studies is a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization dedicated to advancing practical ideas to address the world’s greatest challenges. The organization is self-described as one of the world’s preeminent public policy institutions on foreign policy and national security issues.

Cargill, Soil Health Institute Create Water Stewardship Partnership

The Soil Health Institute and Cargill recently partnered to implement regenerative agriculture practices through water stewardship within agricultural supply chains. The three-year, $3 million partnership will equip farmers, conservation planners, and sustainability experts across North America with tools to enhance drought resilience, improve soil health, and encourage sustainable water use. Soil Health Institute President and CEO Wayne Honeycutt says, “We’re expediting adoption of regenerative systems by offering stakeholders practical insights to assess improvements in water storage and availability resulting from changes in on-farm practices.” Research has demonstrated that increases in available water-holding capacity associated with soil organic carbon gains from soil health practice implementation can lead to twice as much water storage in the topsoil compared to previous estimates. The partnership will enable farmers, businesses, researchers, governments, and other sustainability experts to assess their progress toward water stewardship objectives and build industry convergence around the value of soil health in enhancing drought resilience and sustainable water management.

Rail Safety Week Raising Awareness to Save Lives

Operation Lifesaver this week is promoting Rail Safety Week. The annual week-long event concentrates public attention on the need for rail safety education and saves lives by educating and empowering the public to make safe decisions around tracks and trains. Operation Lifesaver’s national office and state Operation Lifesaver programs across the U.S. will connect with their communities through in-person and online events, sharing rail safety messages and urging the public to get involved. Every year, 2,100 North Americans are killed or seriously injured when they engage in unsafe behavior around tracks and trains. In the U.S. alone, a person or vehicle is hit by a train every 3 hours. Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Rachel Maleh (mall-lay) says, “Everyone can help make their communities safer. Know the facts, recognize the signs, make good decisions and join us.” The organization is partnering with  Operation Lifesaver Canada and the Association of Mexican Railroads to promote the week across North America.

Refinery Outages Increase Fuel Prices

For the second straight week, the nation’s average price of gasoline increased, climbing 4.6 cents from a week ago to $3.83 per gallon. The national average is down one cent from a month ago but 19.9 cents per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average diesel price increased 9.9 cents last week and stands at $4.53 per gallon, 42.1 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “With the transition back to cheaper winter gasoline now upon us in nearly every state, we should see prices eventually cooling back off, but if refinery issues continue to develop or linger, especially now that we’re entering maintenance season with less available capacity online, the expected decline could certainly be offset.” U.S. retail gasoline demand saw a decline of 1.5 percent last week, as demand continues to weaken seasonally while rising prices could also be playing a role.


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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