READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 6th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 6th 

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Ag Economy Barometer Reaches Three-year Low

Commodity price declines, supply-chain disruptions, and coronavirus concerns pushed the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer down to a three-year low in April. The barometer recorded a reading of 96, marking the first time the barometer has fallen below 100 since October 2016, and was 72 points below its record high just two-months prior. The Ag Economy Barometer is based on responses from 400 U.S. agricultural producers and this month’s survey was conducted from April 19-24, 2020. Producers’ expectations for current and future agricultural economic conditions also declined sharply. The Index of Current Conditions suffered its largest one-month drop, down 39 points in April to a reading of 72, and the Index of Future Expectations fell 18 points to a reading of 108. In the April survey, two-thirds of respondents indicated they were “very worried” or “fairly worried about the impact of coronavirus on their farm’s profitability. More than half said they anticipate applying for one of the federal government’s COVID-19 related financial assistance programs.

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Public-Private Partnership Serving 5 Million Meals a Week

A feeding initiative in partnership with the Department of Agriculture will now serve nearly five million meals per week to rural children impacted by COVID-19-related school closures – five times its original goal.  The partnership between USDA and Baylor University, along with McLane Global and PepsiCo, initially aimed to deliver nearly one million meals per week to students eligible for free and reduced-price meals in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19. However, the Meals To You initiative, “has been so successful and faced such high demand,” that USDA decided to expand the program, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Meals to You boxes contain 20 nutritious meals, ten breakfasts and ten lunches, to cover the meals children would normally receive at school over two school weeks. Foods contained in the boxes meet USDA’s Summer Food Service Program meal standards and may include items like milk, fruit cups, cereal, whole-grain crackers, and chili. Boxes are delivered directly to children’s doorsteps.

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USDA Announces Commodity Purchasing Plans

The Department of Agriculture this week announced details of the $470 million in Section 32 food purchases to occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020 in addition to purchases previously announced. The purchases will provide additional support for producers and Americans in need, in response to changing market conditions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “USDA is in the unique position to purchase these foods and deliver them to the hungry Americans who need it most.” The Agricultural Marketing Service will purchase a variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products. The purchases include $30 million of chicken products, $120 million of dairy products and $30 million of pork. Additionally, USDA will purchase $50 million of potatoes, another $50 million of turkey products, and $30 million of catfish products, among others. Purchases are determined by industry requests, market analysis and food bank needs. AMS will begin issuing solicitations in June and intends to begin deliveries in July.

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Lawmakers Concerned with Farm Animal Depopulation Methods

A group of federal lawmakers wants the Department of Agriculture to curb depopulation efforts of farm animals. Led by Texas Democrat, Representative Lloyd Doggett, the lawmakers raised concerns about mass suffocation of animals who are being quickly cleared from facilities and urges use of more humane practices. Congressman Doggett says, “every effort should be made to get food to those in need instead of wasting it,” adding that if depopulation is necessary, “USDA should act promptly to prevent the use of these most inhumane methods.” The members reference data from the National Pork Producers Council that shows the industry could be forced to cull upwards of 700,000 pigs a week, while millions of birds raised for poultry have already been killed because of this same issue. The lawmakers detail the concerns with ventilator shutdown and water-based foam methods. When equipment fails, they say the process is inhumane, distressing, and painful for the animals “who can take many hours to die.”

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Pesticide Control Group Seeks Post Emerge Dicamba Ban

A pesticide control group wants the Environmental Protection Agency to ban post-emergence use of dicamba on soybeans. The Association of American Pesticide Control Officials last month sent a letter EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler detailing the request. Given the impending decision on the conditional registration of Xtendimax with VaporGrip Technology, the group says labels should prohibit over the top, post-emergent soybean use, and label registrations should be conditional on a year by year basis. Based on application dates of dicamba complaints investigated by the major soybean-producing states in 2017 through 2019, prohibiting over the top applications could greatly reduce dicamba complaint investigations, according to the group. The Association of American Pesticide Control Officials was formed in 1947, the same year that Congress enacted the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The organization is a professional association comprised of the officers charged by law with the execution of the state, territorial, provincial, and federal pesticide laws in the United States and Canada.

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Farm Progress Show, Husker Harvest Days, Moving Forward

Operations for the 2020 Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days are underway for the events to be held in September, according to Farm Progress. Preparations include the completion of planting the corn acres used for field demos at each show location. The 2020 Farm Progress Show is planned for September 1-3, in Boone, Iowa. Meanwhile, 2020 Husker Harvest Days is planned for September 15-17, in Grand Island, Nebraska. Don Tourte of Farm Progress says the usual plans are moving forward for both shows, adding, “it’s important now, more than ever before, for us to come together at these industry-leading events.” The events hold significant economic and social roles for farmers and the ag industry. In preparation for live events returning this fall, the Farm Progress parent company, Informa, is partnering with numerous organizations within and outside of the tradeshow industry to plan and execute the events in an environment that is safe and conducive to conducting business.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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