READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, May 21st

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, May 21st

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

March Margin Triggers Dairy Margin Coverage Program Payment

The Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency announced this week that the March triggered the first payment to dairy farmers enrolled in the Dairy Margin Coverage program. The March income over feed cost margin was $9.15 per hundredweight. Current projections indicate that a DMC payment is likely to trigger every month for the remainder of 2020, a different expectation from last July when some market models had forecast no program payments for 18 months. FSA Director Richard Fordyce says the payment “comes at a critical time for many dairy producers,” noting it’s the first payment to dairy producers in seven months. Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, DMC is a voluntary risk management program that offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. Although DMC enrollment for 2020 coverage has closed, dairy producers should look for FSA to open sign up for 2021 coverage in July.

Growth Energy Lauds Introduction of Biofuels Relief Bill in Senate

Growth Energy praised the introduction of legislation that would assist biofuel producers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley along with Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced the legislation Tuesday. Specifically, the bill would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reimburse biofuel producers for their feedstock purchases in the first quarter of 2020 through the Commodity Credit Corporation. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the proposal would “deliver immediate relief for biofuel workers, farm partners, and thousands of rural communities.” The legislation follows numerous appeals from Growth Energy and other farm and biofuel leaders, lawmakers and local governments. As the coronavirus pandemic spread, gasoline use in the United States plummeted to 50-year lows around the country. From March 8 to April 4 of this year, total miles driven dropped by 58 percent. The rapid decrease in consumption has led more than 130 biofuel plants to partially or fully shut down in rural America.

Ag Retailers: New EPA Transparency Rule a Positive Step for Agriculture

The Agricultural Retailers Association calls a proposed rule on transparency by the Environmental Protection Agency a positive step forward for agriculture. This week, the EPA announced the proposal to establish requirements and procedures for the issuance of guidance. ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock says the proposal “will not only provide the opportunity to be sure that our voices are heard but will also ensure that new rules are guided by sound science, practicality and economic feasibility.” Last Fall, President Trump issued an executive order to promote transparency by ensuring all active guidance documents are made available to the public. The EPA says the rule will significantly increase the transparency of EPA’s practices around guidance and the agency’s process for managing guidance documents. The rule will establish the first formal petition process for the public to request that EPA modify or withdraw a guidance document, and ensure that the agency’s guidance documents are developed with appropriate review and are accessible and transparent to the public.

American Farmland Trust Releases Farmland Report

Millions of acres of America’s agricultural land were developed or converted to uses that threaten farming between 2001 and 2016, according to American Farmland Trust. The organization this week released a report on U.S. farmland. The report’s Agricultural Land Protection Scorecard is the first-ever state-by-state analysis of policies that respond to the development threats to farmland, showing that every state can, and must, do more to protect their agricultural resources. The report shows the extent, location, and quality of each state’s agricultural land and tracks how much of it has been converted. The research also reveals a new threat of land use of low-density residential development, the process of farmland being converted to large-lot residential development. American Farmland Trust says low-density residential development compromises opportunities for farming and ranching, making it difficult for farmers to get into their fields or travel between fields. Additionally, new residents not used to living next farms often complain about equipment on roads or odors related to farming. The full report is available at

AVMA Applauds Dog Import Inspections Bill

The American Veterinary Medical Association recently announced its support of the Healthy Dog Importation Act. The legislation seeks to ensure that dogs entering the United States do not pose a health risk to humans or other animals. Sponsored by three veterinarians in Congress, provisions of the act would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture new tools and authority to monitor and safeguard the health of dogs being imported, ensuring that dogs are in good health and not a risk to spread dangerous diseases that could impact animal and public health. AVMA President Dr. John Howe says, “For far too long, dogs have been entering the United States without proper inspection, increasing the risk of disease introduction and transmission.” Up to 1.2 million dogs are estimated to be imported into the United States each year. The legislation would require every dog entering the U.S. to have a certificate of veterinary inspection, as well as certification that the dog has all the required vaccinations as well as negative test results for illness.

SNAP Online Purchasing to Cover 90% of Households

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week approved 13 states for online food purchases with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Once operational, online purchasing will be available in 36 states and the District of Columbia, home to more than 90 percent of SNAP participants. Perdue also announced an expansion of independently owned and operated retail stores beyond those included in the original pilot. Soon more SNAP authorized retailers, under multiple store banners, will be accepting SNAP benefits online. Perdue says online food purchases “will go a long way in helping Americans follow CDC social distancing guidelines.” On April 18, 2019, Perdue announced the launch of the two-year SNAP online purchasing pilot that began in New York before being rolled out to additional states.  In less than six weeks, amidst an unprecedented situation, USDA has expanded SNAP online purchasing to 36 states and the District of Columbia. Currently, the SNAP online purchasing pilot is operational in 18 states and the District of Columbia, with additional states going live each week.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service