READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 26th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 26th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

White House: China Deal is “On Track”

Officials in the Trump Administration are talking positively about China’s commitments in implementing the Phase One trade deal with the U.S. Politico says that’s even as the coronavirus outbreak that began in China is straining relations between the countries. The deal requires China to make their markets more open, as well as increase its purchases of U.S. farm goods, manufactured goods, as well as energy and services by $200 billion above 2017 levels in the next two years. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says China is working to expand access for U.S. producers. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is also upbeat about the recent steps China took to open its market to U.S. goods like avocados, blueberries, barley, meat, dairy, and forage products. However, officials didn’t release the exact numbers of goods China has bought since the start of 2020. U.S. trade data that came out earlier in May showed that U.S. goods exported to China were actually coming in below the benchmark levels set in 2017. That prompted President Trump to say there was always the option of ending the agreement if China didn’t meet its obligations.


Potato Industry Feels Left Out of CFAP

The National Potato Council and state grower organizations wrote Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue last week to talk about potatoes that have nowhere to go for processing. The Hagstrom Report says the council noted more than “1.5 billion pounds of fresh potatoes for processing and potato products are trapped in the supply chain with no likely customers.” Mountains of potatoes are being given away or left to cow feed as surplus crops are piling up despite government efforts to distribute the potatoes as part of food boxes being given to needy families. The potato sector feels like the USDA’s new Farmers to Families Food Box program, as well as other initiatives, aren’t enough to dent the losses in a sector that depends heavily on foodservice sales. Kam Quarles (Quarrels), CEO of the National Potato Council, says, “It was clear the people who were doing well in retail could probably take more advantage of this than the impaired side of the business, which is food service.” The NPC sent a letter to USDA saying, “This oversupply has impacted both the 2019 and 2020 crop for U.S. family farms that grow potatoes. Some of these farms will have no ability to sell their 2019 or 2020 crop.” The industry suggested several enhancements regarding eligibility and payment rate adjustments that will help USDA help the industry.


Rural Infrastructure Advancement Act Introduced in the Senate

Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi introduced Senate Bill 3842, called the Rural Infrastructure Advancement Act. Wicker authored legislation that would establish a Rural Assistance Pilot Program to help rural communities and localities better utilize and leverage existing Department of Transportation funding and financing opportunities. “Rural states often face challenges when trying to find the financial resources necessary to fund critical infrastructure projects, such as improving our roads and bridges,” Wicker says. “This bill would provide professional technical assistance to rural communities interested in utilizing existing financial programs.” He says it’s important that they provide the resources necessary to support and advance rural infrastructure. The legislation would do several things, including establishing a pilot program that retains expert firms, all of whom will need DOT approval, to provide financial, technical, and legal assistance to rural project sponsors seeking to apply for a loan or grant. It would also authorize funding for the Transportation Department to carry out the program, develop an online portal for applications, and post information about the pilot program and the resources available online.


Officials Say Cattle to Blame for E. coli Outbreak in California

Outbreaks of E. coli that sickened almost 200 people in California late last year probably came from cattle grazing close to the farms that grew the tainted romaine lettuce. The Associated Press says those findings came from a report released late last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cow feces, which can contain the bacteria, is considered by the FDA as “the most likely contributing factor” to three outbreaks of the food-borne illness that traced to fields in the Salinas (Suh-LEE-nuhs) Valley of California. The outbreaks happened last November and December and affected people in at least 16 states as well as Canada. No deaths were reported. Investigators concluded that the illness centered on ranches and fields owned by the same grower that was located downslope from the public land that cattle had grazed on. The FDA says it couldn’t definitively identify a route of contamination for the three 2019 outbreaks, but it did say the possibilities included water runoff from the grazing area, wind-blown material, or animals or vehicles tracking it out to fields in the area. The report’s executive summary says, “Agricultural water sources used to grow the romaine were also possible routes of contamination.”


Dairy Farmers Partner with Pizza Hut, Giving Half-Million Pizzas to Graduates

Dairy Management Incorporated and its checkoff partner Pizza Hut are joining together to give away half a million pizzas to the Class of 2020 high school graduates. “We are excited to partner with Pizza Hut to help high school seniors and their families celebrate this special milestone in their lives,” says Marilyn Hershey, Chair of DMI, which runs the national dairy checkoff. “This is a great example of what we accomplish when dairy farmers and importers build relationships with a company like Pizza Hut through our checkoff. The promotion was officially announced on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last week. “We have a long history of celebrating moments that matter, such as graduations, and Pizza Hut takes pride in being a part of our customers’ big days,” says George Felix, chief marketing officer for Pizza Hut. “It’s only natural that we’d be there for students and their families to help celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class of 2020.” They’re also proud to partner with America’s hard-working dairy farmers. To claim a free one-topping medium pizza, go to for more information. Coupons will be valid through June 4.


Beef Checkoff Recognizes Farmers and Ranchers for Keeping Beef on the Table

As Americans fired up their grills for Memorial Day, the “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign is highlighting the hard-working beef farmers and ranchers who make grilling season possible. They’re doing so in a new video, released on Memorial Day, that takes consumers on a dawn-till-dusk workday of raising beef, doing so in just 30 seconds. As the video ends, it proudly proclaims that “the summer grilling season is brought to you by beef farmers and ranchers.” The Federation Division at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says, “Beef sizzling on grills during the summer months has brought families together for generations.” The video, which will be shared throughout social and digital media, is just a glimpse into what’s coming this summer from the “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign. This summer, the brand will focus on how grilling brings people together, be it physically or virtually, and will continue to recognize those who raise beef, starting with National Beef Burger Day on May 28.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service