READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 19th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 19th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senators Seek Meat Worker Protections From USDA

Senate Democrats want Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide more worker safety protection to meat processing employees. A group of 29 Senators, led by Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, penned a letter to Perdue outlining recommendations for ways the Department of Agriculture should improve worker safety. The Senators wrote, “While we recognize the importance of keeping these plants running, it is wrong and shortsighted to use the Defense Production Act to mandate plants to stay open without effectively addressing worker safety issues.” The group says that while the Trump administration has applauded the reopening of several plants, USDA officials in congressional briefings could not confirm that the plants were operating in accordance with CDC and OSHA guidance. The Senators urged USDA to ensure that meatpacking plants take sufficient actions to protect worker safety before opening, including reconfiguring the plants to allow for social distancing, providing appropriate personal protective equipment, instituting ongoing testing, ensuring that infected employees are not coming to work, and making other necessary changes to keep workers safe.

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Farm Assets Resisting Coronavirus Impact

COVID-19 may be hurting many areas of the U.S. economy, but strong demand has continued for tractors, combines and other farm assets, according to a spring report from Steffes Group. During the first four months of 2020, the company conducted 170 auctions, all of which were successful. The company is conducting online auctions exclusively during the “shelter in place” period and has conducted online-only auctions for 11 years. Demand was strong for tractors, combines and sprayers throughout the period, regardless of the auction method. The company says well-maintained equipment with low hours commanded a strong premium. Even older machines did well in many cases, with sharp rises in tractors 15 years and older, showing great care.  Land values have been strong, but with some weak spots. Premium land still commands premium prices, and land values continue to benefit from historically low interest rates. Steffes Group provides services throughout the upper Midwest, including Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, Illinois and Nebraska.

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NPPC Gains DOJ Approval For Industry Collaboration To Address COVID-19 Crisis

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division provided guidance for collaboration among U.S. hog farmers. The guidance will help farmers effectively address unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The favorable decision for NPPC is in response to a “business review” letter submitted to the DOJ by the organization. The review seek permission to allow hog farmers greater flexibility in working to maximize the number of hogs entering the food supply, minimize the tragic need to euthanize hogs, and, facilitate the safe and orderly euthanization of those hogs which are not able to enter the food supply. NPPC President Howard AV Roth, a farmer from Wisconsin, says, “Our goal is to efficiently process as many hogs as possible into the food supply.” Roth says appropriate collaboration across the industry and with state and federal government officials will minimize the number of pigs that must be euthanized and ensure that the situation is handled humanely, and that disposal is environmentally sound.

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ISITC Investigation Competition in Raspberry Industry

The U.S. International Trade Commission is seeking input for a new general factfinding investigation on the U.S. raspberry industry in Washington state. The investigation announced last week will look into the conditions of competition between U.S. and foreign suppliers of raspberries meant for processing. The investigation was requested by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a letter received on April 9, 2020. The investigation will provide an overview of the U.S. raspberry industry in Washington State, including fresh raspberries for processing, frozen raspberries, and raspberry juice, as well as an overview of the industries producing fresh and processed raspberries in major producing and exporting countries, among other findings. The Commission is seeking input for the investigation from all interested parties and will hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation in September. The U.S. International Trade Commission expects to transmit its report to the Lighthizer no later than June 9, 2021.

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Research Shows More Children May Face Hunger Next Year

The number of people in the U.S. who are food insecure will likely skyrocket over the next year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the University of Illinois and Feeding America. Soaring unemployment and poverty rates may lead to record numbers of food-insecure households. Almost 55 million Americans could lack access to adequate food. Households with children are even more likely to be food insecure, and one in four children could face hunger. The projections for the worst-case scenario would lead to a five percent increase in the child poverty rate, potentially bringing the proportion of children in food-insecure households to 24.5 percent. That means 18 million children would be food insecure, which exceeds the previously measured highest total of 17.2 million during the Great Recession in 2009. The Impact of Coronavirus on Food Insecurity report provides detailed documentation for projected food insecurity levels at the national, state and county level, and is available at feedingamerica.org.

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Some States See Double-Digit Gains in Gas Prices

For the second consecutive week, the national average price of gasoline has increased, rising 6.4 cents to $1.83 per gallon. The average price of diesel, meanwhile, fell 1.6 cents to $2.41 per gallon. Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy says the increase is attributed to a near five percent increase in gasoline demand. DeHaan says, “as long as states continue to loosen restrictions, it’ll mean more motorists on the roads and filling their tank.” Crude oil prices continue to march higher as demand for gasoline weighs on the market, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil fetching $24.99 Monday morning, up from $19.19 a week ago, an increase of over $5 per barrel. Brent crude oil was last at $31.11 per barrel, up from $26.01 a week ago. Oil’s rally has come as OPEC and other oil-producing countries limit production and as U.S. gasoline demand has rallied as motorists in reopened states and others alike take to the road.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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