READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, November 7th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, November 7th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Attacks on Beef Checkoff Expanding

The R-CALF crusade against state beef councils, funded by activists, is expanding. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association calls the attacks a “disappointment to countless beef producers and NCBA members across the country.” NCBA says the allegations are without merit and continue to divide the nation’s producers. The attacks also keep beef councils from working on building demand for America’s beef products. Kendall Frazier, Chief Executive Officer of the NCBA, says regular audits of the beef checkoff and NCBA have found both to be compliant with the laws governing the checkoff. “The USDA’s Office of Inspector General has done two audits, both of which have come back clean,” Frazier says. “R-CALF has become nothing more than a front group for activits seeking to divide the industry. Their goal is to drive down beef demand and push producers out of business.” NCBA says accusations that money invested in the Federation of State Beef Councils is being misused are just as false. NCBA has demonstrated over and over again that the R-CALF attacks are being helped by groups like the Humane Society of the U.S., Food and Water Watch, Public Justice, and other activist organizations opposed to the U.S. beef industry.

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October Producer Sentiment Jumps Higher

The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer took a big jump up in October. The October index came in at 136, which was 22 points higher than the September index, and sits at a number close to its level in 2017. The driving force behind the jump in the index level was the improved way that producers see both current and future conditions. Month-to-month readings continue to shift by large margins as producers continue to be buffeted by a number of factors like commodity prices and news about trade negotiations and disputes. Study authors say although producers are more optimistic about the current conditions, it’s the relatively positive outlook on the future that drove the jump in optimism. This month’s 146 is back to the level it was at this past spring, just before the trade war with China got going. News of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement spurred mixed reactions from producers as far as their expectation for farm income in 2019. More than 60 percent of producers say the agreement somewhat relieved concerns about farm income next year. However, 25 percent of the producers surveyed say the agreement didn’t help relieve any of their concerns at all.  

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Corn Plantings to Overtake Soybeans in 2019

An analysis of USDA data says corn will take over the top spot from soybeans in planted acres during the next growing season. The Hagstrom Report says it is a reaction to market conditions created by President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. The data shows corn plantings will likely exceed soybeans by nine to 10 million acres between 2019 and 2023. The Agriculture Department released its agricultural baseline predictions over the weekend. The Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) analysis says corn plantings are at 92 to 93 million acres a year, while soybeans are at 82.5 and 84 million acres a year. Veteran commodity analyst Chuck Abbott, a FERN Editor, says corn will be the acreage king for years to come. Soybeans will spend time slowly trying to recover from the loss of sales to China. “Corn will continue to cruise along with strong demand and lean stockpiles,” Abbot says. “The first 15-billion bushel corn crop could be harvested by 2020, and will grow to 16 billion bushels by 2025.” Abbot says soybean production may not approach this year’s levels until 2027, at the earliest.

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OTA Looking for Ideas on Voluntary Checkoff

The Organic Trade Association is looking for the “best and brightest ideas” from organic stakeholders on how to put together a voluntary “checkoff-like” program for the organic sector. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue decided last May that the USDA wouldn’t move forward on a mandatory checkoff for the organic industry. As a result, the private sector initiative is being called “GRO Organic.” Laura Batcha (BATCH-uh), CEO of the Association, says, “We want GRO Organic to be a bold and engaged opt-in program that pools resources from everyone who can contribute so that we can collectively address critical needs across the organic sector. The need for more investment in organic is widely agreed upon.” She says the best way to go about doing that is what the industry needs to work together to figure out. Melissa Hughes of the Organic Valley Cooperative in Wisconsin, says, “We have a saying at Organic Valley. None of us is as smart as all of us.” Hughes adds that by working together on this idea, the organic industry will continue to be at the center of the good food movement. The deadline to submit ideas to the OTA is April 19, 2019. Ideas can be submitted by email, which can include attachments.

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FAD Transmission Greater in Garbage-Fed Swine

The U.S. pork industry has come a long way in its focus on disease-risk mitigation. However, 28 states still allow some type of garbage feeding to swine. It is currently deemed acceptable by the USDA’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service when strict protocols are followed. However, there is a potential risk of foreign animal disease transmission with this practice. Dave Pyburn is senior vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff. He says the practice of garbage feeding pigs in the U.S. is a holdover from the past. “We used to feed many more hogs this way than we do now,” he says. “The important thing is that if a producer does decide to do this type of feeding where it’s allowed, they must do so by strictly sticking to the guidelines from APHIS. Pyburn says there are three key practices that can help reduce the risk of disease spread. Producers should make sure the cooked and the uncooked product is kept separate so there isn’t cross contamination. Producers need to make sure the equipment used for the cooked product is not contaminated with the uncooked product. They must ensure that all garbage is heated up to a treatment level of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling) for 30 minutes. Pyburn says the pork checkoff would like to see garbage feeding to swine done sparingly. “From a disease standpoint, it’s critical that anyone who is using this feeding method do so with the utmost attention to the exact regulations. It could mean the difference between keeping the country free of foreign animal disease or not.”

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U.S. Grains Leadership Meets Customers, Leaders in Mexico

Leaders from the U.S. feed grains value chain traveled to Mexico to meet with longtime customers and incoming government officials. The annual mission brings together leaders from the U.S. Grains Council, as well as the national organizations that represent the feed grains the U.S.G.C. helps promote in international markets. Officials from the National Corn Growers Association, the National Sorghum Producers, the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, as well as the National Barley Growers Association all made the trip. Mexico is the top foreign buyer of U.S. corn, distiller’s dried grains with solubles, barley, and is a significant buyer of U.S. sorghum. The country also holds near-term potential for increased use of U.S. ethanol following energy policy changes in recent years. Shipments of feed grains in all forms is an overall measurement of the grain purchased by a market as a commodity or in value-added products. In 2017/2018, shipments of all grains to Mexico hit a record 25.2 million metric tons. That’s a corn equivalent of almost one billion bushels. That sales figure was up 6.3 percent year-over-year based on competitive prices and strong logistics.  

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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