READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 12th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 12th

NIFA Jones ERS in Unionizing

Employees of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture joined the Economic Research Service in a vote to unionize, according to Agri-Pulse. The vote comes as the Department of Agriculture within the next few weeks is expected to announce the proposed sites for the agencies as part of its plan to relocate the two. USDA previously narrowed the list to the Kansas City Area, Raleigh, North Carolina, and multiple sites in Indiana. The controversial proposal prompted the Economic Research Service to unionize last month, and Tuesday, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture did the same. Both have formed a so-called bargaining unit with the American Federation of Government Employees. The Federation claims the proposed relocation would impact 568 out of 664 positions total between the two agencies. By establishing a union at the worksite, the USDA agencies are legally required to notify employees in advance of any proposed changes to their working conditions and to bargain with the union in good faith over those proposed changes.

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Corn Production Forecast Lower Amid Wet Spring, Prevent Plant

Farmers are making progress on planting, but the wet spring means lower production. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress numbers show roughly 15.8 million acres of corn and 33.6 million acres of soybeans remains to be planted based. The World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report, released Tuesday, predicts U.S. corn production to fall 1.45 billion bushels to 13.7 billion. However, USDA left the soybean forecast unchanged, with “several weeks remaining in the planting season.” USDA raised the expected season-average corn price to $3.80 a bushel, and the season-average soybean price to $8.25 a bushel. Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue confirmed this week that prevent plant acres could not be included in the Market Facilitation Program. However, Perdue says USDA is “exploring legal flexibilities” to provide a minimal per acre payment to farmers who filed prevent plant and chose to plant an eligible cover crop. Perdue says USDA will provide more details “in the coming weeks.” The Market Facilitation Program is currently under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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NACD Encourages Producers to Implement Conservation Practices Amid Extreme Weather

The National Association of Conservation Districts is urging farmers to explore transitioning to conservation practices, including no-till and cover crops, to prevent further soil erosion in the face of extreme weather. The U.S. is currently experiencing the wettest 12 months on record, and farmers have faced a well-documented wet spring, and historically slow planting pace. In February, NACD hosted two focus groups at its annual meeting in San Antonio, for discussions on how soil health practices like cover crops and no-till have impacted farm fields in the face of extreme weather patterns. A total of 22 producers participated in the focus groups, representing 15 states. Reports compiled following the discussion are available to farmers considering what their options are, and provides an overview of the producers’ testimony, examining how they and their neighbors are responding to extreme weather events. The report states, “producers said they believe soil health practices make their operations more resilient in several ways,” allowing them to “withstand the extremes.” Find the reports online at www.nacdnet.org.

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Massive Ag Coalition Urges USMCA Ratification

More than 950 agribusinesses and farm groups are urging Congress to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement quickly. Canada, Mexico and the U.S. have all taken the first steps towards ratifying the agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. However, recent threats of additional tariffs, and the slow pace of politics, are concerning for farmers and ranchers. Chuck Conner, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives president and CEO, says USMCA “will provide an important source of certainty in a climate where that commodity is in short supply.” The group is urging lawmakers to “move quickly to bringing up the agreement” once it is formally submitted to Congress. Mexico is expected to ratify the agreement next week, following negotiations with the U.S. last week to stop threatened tariffs by the Trump administration over migrants crossing the border into the United States. Trump claimed the recent talks would result in “immediate” sales of U.S. ag products to Mexico. However, Mexico confirmed Monday that the talks did not include a side deal for agriculture.

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American Drivers Reach 10 Billion Miles Driven on E15

As President Trump visited an Iowa ethanol plant Tuesday, Growth Energy announced U.S. drivers have reached 10 billion miles driven on E15. The announcement follows the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent notice to allow for year-round E15 sales, likely to increase the pace of growth and miles driven on E15. Growth Energy works with retailers to grow E15 availability, including recent expansions announced by Casey’s General Stores and others, to give more drivers access to E15. Growth Energy says E15 is currently sold at more than 1,800 stations in 31 states. President Trump promoted the recent rule allowing for year-round E15 as part of his Iowa trip. The President joined Iowa Representative Cindy Axne and Governor Kim Reynolds for a tour of  Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, along with EPA administer Andrew Wheeler. Trump also met with ethanol industry officials in Des Moines, including POET CEO Jeff Broin. The EPA announced the final rule to allow year-round E15 last month at a separate Iowa ethanol facility.

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USDA Helping Farmers, Businesses and Ag Producers Cut Energy Costs

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced 58 grants to help farmers and rural businesses to reduce energy costs. The grants, awarded in 17 states and Puerto Rico, are provided through the Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP. Congress allocated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in 2019. Tuesday’s announcement includes $1 million in renewable energy projects. USDA will make additional funding announcements in the coming weeks. Joel Baxley, acting assistant to the secretary for rural development, says lowering energy costs “helps businesses improve their bottom line and create jobs” in rural America. Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. They also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems, including insulation, lighting and refrigeration. Grants announced Tuesday include $100,000 for the University of Oregon to help rural agritourism operations and small businesses implement renewable energy systems. More examples of funded projects are available online at www.rd.usda.gov.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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