05-03-17 AgFest 2017 – Check out the Interviews w/CSU Extension Agents

Eastern Colorado fifth graders explore the science of embryology and witness the hatching of baby chickens during AgFest 2017.

Many of you may be able to personally identify with this quote from Mr. Jefferson, due to the fact that we live in a rural, predominately agricultural area.  However, our urban counterparts may be several generations removed from any form of production agriculture and do not understand the science behind the production of their food.  Even many of our youth, who will soon be the leaders and scientists of tomorrow, are losing sight of where food comes from and how it’s produced.  Colorado State University Extension agents and specialists recognized this concerning trend and created a program called AgFest 2017.  AgFest is an innovative, eclectic approach to help 5th and 6th grade students explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through hands-on educational workshops that supplement their school curriculum.

In order to deliver AgFest to a large audience of 5th and 6th grade students, the program travels to communities across eastern Colorado and one of the stops of this year’s tour was at the Morgan County Fairgrounds in Brush, CO.

During the day-long program, students rotate through ten activity stations, typically in groups of 15-30 students.  The following stations for the 2017 AgFest event will focus on different science-based learning objectives related to these aspects of agriculture: Continue reading

05-03-17 Gov. Hickenlooper orders flags lowered in honor of former Colorado lawmaker and U.S. Congressman Ray Kogovsek

Water Legends: Sam Maynes, Ray Kogovsek, and Christine Arbogast
Photo by: Richard MacRavey

Gov. Hickenlooper orders flags lowered in honor of former Colorado lawmaker and U.S. Congressman Ray Kogovsek

DENVER — Wednesday, May 3,  2017 Gov. John Hickenlooper today ordered flags be lowered to half-staff on Thursday, May 4, on all public buildings statewide in honor of former Colorado lawmaker and U.S. Congressman Ray Kogovsek, who died this past Sunday. Flags should be lowered from sunrise to sunset.

“We have lost a true warrior of democracy, said Governor John Hickenlooper. “Ray dedicated his life to supporting the interests of the people of Pueblo and Southern Colorado. His efforts have left an indelible mark across our state and on so many lives that will cherish his legacy of respect and selflessness in serving others.” Continue reading

05-03-17 USDA Secretary Perdue and Acting USTR Stephen Vaughn Announce Major EU Trade Breakthrough for U.S. Citrus Producers

Agriculture Secretary Perdue and Acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn Announce Major EU Trade Breakthrough for U.S. Citrus Producers

(Washington, D.C., May 3, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn today announced that the European Union (EU) has amended its requirements for imports of U.S. citrus.  Specifically, the EU has dropped its requirement that U.S. groves be surveyed for citrus canker, which eases entry of U.S. citrus into the EU market and saves growers millions of dollars in production costs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have worked continuously with EU officials over the last 10 years to ensure that the EU’s plant health requirements for citrus are based on scientifically-established risks.  The new EU directive requires countries where citrus canker has been detected to have a disease management program and to ensure that exported fruit have no symptoms.  The EU’s change means they are satisfied with APHIS’s disease management program.  As a result, grove surveys are no longer required, saving U.S. producers an estimated $5.6 million dollars per year.

“At USDA, everything we do is grounded in sound science, so it is good to see that the EU has seen that our disease management program protects our citrus products,” Secretary Perdue said.  “When we rely on science, it levels the playing field for everyone.  And when the playing field is level, American agriculture will win.”  Continue reading

05-03-17 Colorado joins 11 states in asking Trump Administration to stay in Paris Climate Accord

Colorado joins 11 states in asking Trump Administration to stay in Paris Climate Accord

DENVER — Wednesday, May 3,  2017 Gov. John W. Hickenlooper today joined governors from 11 other states in asking the Trump Administration to remain in the Paris Accord, the historic global climate agreement. In the letter, the states note the vast economic and competitive advantages of staying in the climate agreement — including the United States’ leadership in advancing clean energy technologies, which has driven the creation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. Continue reading

05-03-17 NACD APPLAUDS APPROPRIATIONS BILL IN SUPPORT OF CONSERVATION

NACD APPLAUDS APPROPRIATIONS BILL IN SUPPORT OF CONSERVATION

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2017 Congress is expected to pass an appropriations bill this week that for the remainder of this fiscal year would provide strong support for many of the voluntary conservation programs that millions of landowners nationwide utilize to protect and improve America’s water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat.

“NACD is very pleased that House and Senate appropriators have finally reached an agreement that will support funding for critical conservation programs,” NACD President Brent Van Dyke said. “The investments Congress makes now in voluntary, incentive-based conservation will yield natural resource and economic benefits for many generations of Americans to come.” Continue reading

05-03-17 Pork Checkoff: Pork’s Six-Year Growth Is the Fastest in Foodservice Fresh Pork Presents an Opportunity

Pork’s Six-Year Growth Is the Fastest in Foodservice Fresh Pork Presents an Opportunity

Des Moines – May 3, 2017 – Pork has been the fastest-growing protein in foodservice since 2011, according to Technomic, Inc.’s 2017 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice. Over the past six years, pork use has grown on a pound basis by more than double chicken, which is the next fastest growing protein. Pork use increased by 1.145 billion pounds, while chicken use grew by 515 million pounds. Continue reading

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 3rd

CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY's BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer...

CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY’s BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Read the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 3rd

Monsanto Terminates Sale of Precision Planting to John Deere

The U.S. Department of Justice announced this week that John Deere and Monsanto had terminated their attempted sale of Precision Planting, LLC., from Monsanto to John Deere. The department filed suit to block the sale on August 31, 2016, to block the acquisition. The reasoning behind the suit was the Justice Department felt the sale was a merger-to-monopoly in high-speed planting systems. The technology allows farmers to plant crops like corn, soybeans, and other row crops at twice the speed of a conventional planter. The case had been scheduled for trial on June 5. Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch said the decision to abandon the sale was “a victory for American farmers and consumers. Had this sale gone forward, significant head-to-head competition between Deere and Monsanto’s Precision Planting technologies would have been lost. That competition had led to lower prices and more innovative products.” The proposed sale would have combined the only two providers of precision planting systems. John May, the President of Agricultural Solutions and Chief Information Officer at John Deere, says, “We are deeply disappointed in this outcome as we remain confident the acquisition would have benefitted consumers.”  

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Perdue Puts Hold on School Nutrition Standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is putting a temporary hold on National School Lunch Program regulations requiring less salt and more whole grains in school lunches. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue made the announcement at a school in Leesburg, Virginia. He adds that USDA will lift restrictions to allow schools to serve flavored 1-percent milk rather than the non-fat version that’s required now. Perdue was quick to stress they aren’t rolling back any provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed in 2010. The act required a gradual increase of nutritional standards, such as reduced sodium and an increase in whole-grain products in school food. “We aren’t winding back any nutritional standards at all,” Perdue said in Virgina. “We’re giving food service professionals the flexibility to move as we get to a healthier generation.” He even applauded former first lady Michelle Obama for her efforts to promote healthier food in schools. Perdue says he’s addressing concerns that the rising nutritional standards may be too expensive for schools, as well as students not eating the healthier foods.

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Ag Producer Sentiment Slightly Higher in April

The newest Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer inched higher during April with the index increasing slightly to 130. It’s up from the 124 survey index in March but still ranks well below the all-time high of 153 in January. When the current index is compared to last year, it’s 23 percent higher than the 106 in April of 2016. The biggest negative in the report is the expectations for future crop prices. 54 percent of the respondents expect soybean prices to remain “about the same” in 12 months, while 27 percent expect lower prices. Only 17 percent of respondents expect higher bean prices in the year ahead. Looking to expectations for the December 2017 corn contract price, only 28 percent of respondents thought it would be above $4.25 a bushel. Expectations are about as low for the November 2017 soybean contract. The percentage of respondents expecting soybean prices to exceed $10.50 a bushel plummeted from 44 percent in previous surveys down to 23 percent in April. A quarterly survey of agricultural “thought leaders” in agribusiness, ag lending, farm organization, as well as economists, saw a 12 percent jump in positive expectations for the ag economy’s health to improve.

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Ag Lender Survey Shows Profitability/Price Concerns

A survey by the American Bankers Association shows nearly 90 percent of agricultural lenders have seen a decline in overall farm profitability in the last 12 months. 95 percent of the lenders in the survey expressed concerns about low commodity prices, especially in grains, beef cattle, and dairy. Grains are the biggest concern as 80 percent of lenders gave it a four out of a possible five rating. Grains are followed by beef cattle, dairy, swine, poultry, vegetables, with fruits and nuts the least concerning sector of ag. The decline in commodity prices led to a fall in farm income with tighter profit margins. Ag lenders in the survey say roughly 60 percent of their clients were profitable in 2016 and expect 54 percent to be profitable this year. Lenders are also concerned about land values. They say 44 percent of average quality land and 33 percent of cash rents are priced above fair market value in their particular area. Ag lenders also expect greater demand for debt financing thanks to lower cash levels on farms. 66 percent of the respondents expect greater demand for operating loans and 33 percent expect more demand for ag real estate loans.

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TPP Nations Meet in Canada to Discuss Future of Pact

Bloomberg reports Canda is hosting what it calls an “exploratory” round of talks regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Senior trade officials from the remaining countries in the pact are in talks this week in Toronto. The event is expected to be a stage-setter for an upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vietnam. The article says this week’s trade talks are a sign that Canada may be looking for business away from it’s largest trading partner amid disputes with U.S. President Donald Trump over lumber and the dairy sector. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to U.S. lumber duties by saying his country will try to sell more of its products in Asia. The Canadian government did leave the door opening to putting together a bilateral trade deal with Japan, which has the biggest economy in the remaining TPP countries. Trudeau said in a recent Bloomberg interview that Canada seems to be in a “post-TPP world.” Canada’s International Trade Minister said his department is happy that talks are progressing on TPP but declined to comment on the future of the pact.  

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Organic Farmers Push for Welfare Standard Implementation

Organic dairy and livestock farmers are pushing for Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to let animal welfare standards formed at the end of the Obama Administration to go into effect. Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says the farmers argue that the long sought-after rules will give consumers what they want. The measure has long been supported by the USDA’s Organic Advisory Board and was supposed to be in effect on March 20. It was delayed until May 19 as part of an overall postponement of USDA policies to give the new administration a chance to review new rules left by the Obama administration. The group of over 300 farmers wrote in the letter that “the decision to become organic is voluntary. If consumers lose confidence in the organic seal, that will have a catastrophic impact throughout the industry.”  However, the new standards are opposed by the larger organic egg producers. They say the new requirements of more indoor space and access to pasture could be cost prohibitive, as well as open poultry flocks to a better chance of exposure to disease.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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