National Ag News for September 20, 2023

AFBF: Dairy Make Allowances Reform a Must

American Farm Bureau Federation economist Danny Munch presented testimony Tuesday at the ongoing Federal Milk Marketing Order Pricing Formula hearing. This is the third time an AFBF representative has testified at the hearing. The testimony focuses on adjusting make allowances, or the estimated costs that dairy processors incur to convert milk to consumable dairy products, like cheese and butter. This price directly impacts the price paid to farmers for their milk. AFBF is advocating for make allowances to be adjusted based on a mandatory, audited USDA survey, which USDA says it does not have the authority to conduct. AFBF is pursuing legislation that would direct USDA to conduct such a survey. AFBF opposes increasing make allowances based on potentially biased voluntary survey data that could reduce farmers’ prices unfairly. AFBF submitted nine proposals for consideration during the hearing, and four were accepted by USDA. Additionally, AFBF largely supports four of the five proposals submitted by the National Milk Producers Federation. Full AFBF testimony is available at


USDA Announces 100th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum

USDA’s 100th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, “Cultivating the Future,” will take place on February 15-16, 2024, at the Crystal City Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia. The forum is USDA’s longest-running and largest public event and aims to help stakeholders understand and plan for the opportunities and challenges facing the agricultural sector at home and abroad. Each year, it attracts more than 1,800 people in person, and nearly 5,000 virtual attendees from the U.S. and worldwide. The program will include remarks from the Secretary of Agriculture and other top Department officials, along with 30 breakout sessions featuring more than 120 leading experts on a wide range of timely food and agriculture-related topics. Whether you’re a farmer, policymaker, industry leader, market analyst, or simply interested in the future of agriculture, the Agricultural Outlook Forum is the perfect place to connect, learn, and engage. Registration will open at the end of October.


AVMA Reignites Efforts to Address Rural Veterinary Shortages

Lawmakers have reintroduced the Association, the Rural Veterinary Workforce Act, formerly known as the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act. Introduced in both the House and Senate, the legislation would expand the reach of the Medicine Loan Repayment Program. The program helps increase access to food animal veterinary services in rural areas by assisting with the significant obstacle of educational debt. The legislation would end the federal taxation on awards, enabling more veterinarians to participate in a program that offers up to $75,000 over three years for student loan repayment in exchange for service in USDA-designated shortage areas. In 2023, the USDA declared 237 rural veterinary shortage areas in 47 states, more than any year. American Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Rena Carlson says, “we look forward to working with the congressional champions to enact this bill and help rural communities across the country access the many essential services veterinarians provide.”


McKalip to Travel to Oakland, California Port

The U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip will visit Oakland, California, on Thursday. McKalip will visit the Port of Oakland to tour its facilities and engage with stakeholders during his trip. McKalip will be joined by local International Longshore and Warehouse Union leadership and local members of the Pacific Maritime Association. Ensuring the success of America’s farmers and producers has been a topline priority for the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office under Ambassador Katherine Tai’s leadership. The trip follows the recent labor agreement between West Coast port workers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association. Most recently, USTR secured an agreement with India on September 8, 2023, to resolve the last World Trade Organization dispute and lower tariffs on certain U.S. agricultural products. This built upon the agreement finalized with India in June, which terminated six other WTO disputes and removed retaliatory tariffs on other U.S. agricultural products.


Lely Robotic Milkers Class Action Suit Settled

Producers and their law firm reached a settlement agreement this month against a manufacturer of allegedly defective milking robots. On September 1, 2023, the Court granted final approval of the settlement for the Lely A4. The settlement allowed class members to replace their existing robot with Lely’s newer A5 model or receive cash relief. Nearly all of the approximately 400 class members participated, and the relief selected is worth approximately $121 million. Based on the claims submitted and options chosen, the cash fund is approximately $51 million, and those opting for trade-ins will receive approximately $71 million in value for trading in their A4s for new A5s. In approving the settlement, the Court called it an “excellent result,” noting that it provided “outstanding relief” and received “overwhelming, unprecedented” support from the class. The terms of the settlement were agreed upon after nearly three years of litigation.


USDA Study Underscores Importance of Food Safety Education Month

USDA Tuesday released results from the final year of a five-year study that observed how consumers prepared meals. The study observed food safety behaviors, including participants’ thermometer use for ground pork sausage, handwashing, and cleaning and sanitizing food preparation surfaces. The most recent data shows that 87 percent of participants self-reported they washed their hands before starting to cook in the test kitchen. However, only 44 percent of participants were observed doing so before meal preparation. In the study, 50 percent of participants used a food thermometer to check the doneness of the sausage patties. However, 50 percent of those participants did not check all the food. The study used a harmless tracer bacteria, which was injected into the pork sausage, to simulate the spread of foodborne illness-causing bacteria. Among the surfaces tested, the kitchen sink was most often contaminated, with 34 percent of participants contaminating the sink during meal preparation.


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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