National Ag News for September 26, 2023

Bill Introduced to Protect Farmland Used for Renewable Energy

Senators Tammy Baldwin and Chuck Grassley Monday introduced the Protecting Future Farmland Act. The new legislation supports farmers’ land stewardship efforts as many choose to deploy solar energy on their land. The legislation will ensure that federal investment in rural energy projects prioritizes both land stewardship and responsible deployment of renewable energy to protect America’s farmlands for future cultivation. Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, says, “we need to support our farmers’ land stewardship efforts and help them protect the farmland that is critical to the future of our rural economies and national food security.” Grassley, an Iowa Republican, adds, “We must be certain that embracing solar doesn’t damage our most valuable commodity: our rich Iowa soil.” Agricultural landowners are increasingly interested in using their land for solar energy production. About 83 percent of new solar projects are installed on farmland and ranchland, with almost 50 percent placed on the most productive, versatile, and resilient land.

Legislation to Boost Oversight of Foreign Ag Purchases Advances

The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services Last week advanced a bill supported by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association that strengthens oversight of foreign agricultural purchases. Introduced by Representative Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act would add the Secretary of Agriculture as a member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The committee reviews the national security impact of foreign investments in the United States. NCBA’s Kent Bacus says the effort “Would provide a critical voice for American farmers and ranchers, and ensure that the federal government does not overlook agriculture’s role in national security.” The Secretary of the Treasury chairs the committee with members from the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Energy, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Office of Science and Technology Policy. The legislation passed in committee and now goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Cattle Group Applauds Hawley’s Anti-Monopoly Bill

Senator Josh Hawley last week introduced the Strengthening Antitrust Enforcement for Meatpacking Act. The Missouri Republican’s bill would empower antitrust enforcers to break up giant meatpacking and poultry monopolies. R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said his group “applauds Senator Hawley’s novel approach to addressing the untenable market concentrations faced by America’s cattle and sheep producers.” The bill would establish two thresholds for determining the market concentration in the meatpacking industry. Using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, or HHI, which is a measure of market concentration presently employed by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, the bill would prohibit a merger or acquisition by a meatpacker if the HHI would exceed 1,800, or if a proposed merger or acquisition would increase the meatpacker’s current HHI Index by 100. The current guidelines consider an HHI below 1,500 to be unconcentrated, an HHI between 1,500 and 2,500 to be moderately concentrated, and an HHI above 2,500 to be a highly concentrated market. The Hawley bill would prohibit mergers currently considered moderately concentrated.

USDA Agribusiness Trade Mission Delegation Arrives in Chile

A U.S. agribusiness delegation arrived in Santiago, Chile, Monday, led by USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis M. Taylor. The delegation includes representatives from the U.S. food and agriculture sectors and state departments of agriculture. Taylor says, “Customers in Chile are especially interested in U.S. consumer-oriented products, such as dairy, beef, poultry, pork, condiments and distilled spirits, providing U.S. exporters with many new and exciting opportunities.” While in Santiago, the members of the delegation are looking to establish business relationships and explore opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports to the region. Buyers from Chile, as well as from neighboring Ecuador and Peru, have been invited to participate and meet with U.S. exporters. In addition, this trade mission will allow participants to learn about production and marketing practices throughout South America. Chile is among the top three markets in South America for U.S. agricultural and related products, and the second-largest market in South America for consumer-oriented agricultural products.

K-State Launches Next-Gen Institute for Digital Agriculture

Kansas State University is setting the stage as a national leader in digital agriculture with the launch of the interdisciplinary Institute for Digital Agriculture and Advanced Analytics. The institute is a people-centered interdisciplinary collective transforming learning, research and outreach around digital technologies and advanced analytical methods to enhance agriculture. Work done at the institute will include developing and integrating analytical methods and digital technologies — like sensors, automation and robots — that enhance food production and inform decision making for sustainable and resilient systems. K-State President Richard Linton says, “Kansas State University is working across disciplines to solve global agricultural problems and build the economic prosperity of Kansas and one of our state’s key industries.” The culmination of this collaborative effort will ensure that K-State is positioned as a leader in digital agriculture with an effective foundation to develop programs that sustain the long-term competitiveness of agriculture in Kansas.

Weekly Diesel and Gas Prices Decline

For the first time in two weeks, the nation’s average price of gasoline declined, falling 3.1 cents from a week ago to $3.80 per. The national average is up 1.3 cents from a month ago and 13.6 cents per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average diesel price decreased 1.4 cents last week and stands at $4.53 per gallon, 38.0 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “It’s been a mostly quiet week for the national average price of gasoline,” but adds, “New and continued refinery issues in some regions have had an oversized effect on gas prices in some states, especially in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada.” With some worry over the Fed’s statements last week hinting that more interest rate hikes could be coming, oil prices saw some profit-taking last week, falling after Jerome Powell’s latest statements. Meanwhile, U.S. retail gasoline demand saw an increase of 2.4 percent last week, bouncing back after several poor readings.


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.