READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 29th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 29th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

FFA National Convention and Expo Goes Digital in October

The National FFA Organization announced last week that the 2020 National FFA Convention and Expo will be held virtually. “We wanted to ensure that our members and guests had the full convention experience,” says Mark Peoschl (PESH-uhl), National FFA CEO. “After a discussion with the Board of Directors, the decision was made to move forward with a virtual experience in 2020.” He says as they continued to plan for the national convention, it became clear that travel restrictions and public health concerns, among many other challenges, made hosting their in-person event impossible this year. This year’s event will still be hosted by the 2019-2020 National FFA Officer Team and continue the tradition of celebrating and inspiring hundreds of thousands of FFA members who will become the next generation of leaders. “While the convention will look, a little different this year than what we’re used to, FFA members around the country have proven their willingness to not only adapt but create meaningful experiences while celebrating FFA and agricultural education,” says Kolesen McCoy, National FFA President. The organization looks forward to returning to Indianapolis with an in-person convention in 2021 as part of its long-term partnership that now runs through 2033. The organization and its board of directors also decided last week to extend the city of Indianapolis’s contract for two more years.

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Senators Urge EPA to Reject Biofuel Blending Waivers

Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa, along with Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency on blending waivers. They’re asking the EPA to reject petitions for Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuels Standard for past compliance years. In the letter, the senators warn that by granting any or all of the petitions, the agency would only worsen the economic challenges facing the biofuels industry. They also want the EPA to apply the Tenth Circuit Court decision nationally. “We urge you to reject these petitions outright and respond in writing to our questions about recent use of SREs under the RFS,” the senators say in the letter. “These petitions should not even be looked at because they are inconsistent with the Tenth Circuit Decision, Congressional intent, as well as the EPA’s own guidance.” Most importantly, they say it goes against the best interests of farmers and rural communities who rely on the biofuel industry. “The approval of the SREs for past compliance years will only worsen the already unprecedented challenges facing the biofuels industry and the rural communities that it supports,” the Senators added.

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Groups Appreciate Biofuel Support in Senate

The National Biodiesel Board is grateful to a bipartisan group of senators who asked the Environmental Protection Agency to reject 52 RFS exemption requests. Those petitions are for past compliance years. The Senators expressed frustration and alarm in the letter that Administrator Andrew Wheeler is considering exemptions for refineries that either did not submit petitions or weren’t granted waivers in the past. NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, Kurt Kovarik, says, “A brand new flood of unlawful small refinery exemptions is guaranteed to compound the damage done to rural America over the last several years.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the sole purpose of the retroactive exemptions is to circumvent the law at the expense of rural families struggling to get back on their feet. “There is no justification for allowing these petitions to hang over the market, injecting uncertainty into America’s agricultural recovery,” Skor says. “EPA needs to dismiss the oil industry’s latest attempt to destroy demand for biofuels and restore the integrity to the RFS.” Growth Energy is grateful to the senators for standing up to this attempt to “rewrite history, skirt the courts, and torpedo efforts to rebuild America’s agricultural supply chain.”

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Mexican President to Meet This Week with Trump

Mexican President Andres Manuel (Man-WELL) Lopez Obrador will be in Washington this week to celebrate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade going into full effect. The Washington Trade Daily says Obrador will meet with President Trump and may also meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. As the agreement between the three North American countries enters into force, Obrador is making the trip to signal Mexico’s commitment to the USMCA and that it’s a reliable partner in the agreement. Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy spoke recently during a webinar sponsored by the Atlantic Council, noting that implementation of the USMCA is even more important as the countries try to recover from COVID-19. The trade pact was negotiated before the coronavirus outbreak took off, but it can also be a model for trade in the post-pandemic world. The Hagstrom Report says officials in Mexico also believe that in the wake of COVID-19, most countries will be looking to bring their supply chains closer to home.

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U.S. Hog Industry is Up by Five Percent

As of June first, U.S. farms contained 79.6 million hogs and pigs, up five percent from June of 2019. That’s also three percent higher than March first of this year. The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report came out last week from USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Out of the total of 79.6 million hogs, 73.3 million are market hogs, while 6.3 million will be kept for breeding. Between March and May of this year, U.S. farms weaned 34.9 million pigs, up one percent from the same time a year ago. Also, from March to May 2020, U.S. hog and pig farmers weaned an average of 11 pigs per litter. U.S. hog producers intend to have 3.12 million sows farrow between June and August of 2020, and 3.09 million sows will farrow between September and November. The largest herd inventory is located in Iowa, where the total number is 25.2 million head. Minnesota was second at 9.6 million head and North Carolina was third with 9.4 million head of hogs and pigs.

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McDonald’s in Canada Says No to More Beyond Meat Burgers

Shares of Beyond Meat fell seven percent last week after the CBC report that said McDonald’s stopped testing a burger made with its patties in Canada. McDonald’s’ in Canada says the test ended on April sixth, mentioning on Twitter that they “have no plans to bring it back to our menu at the current time.” A Beyond Meat spokesperson tells CNBC that, “We can only comment generally and share that we were pleased with the test.” The company’s CEO Ethan Brown said in early May that the test concluded for no negative reason at all. “We feel very good about our relationship with McDonald’s,” Brown says. “We feel good about what’s going to be happening, both there and potentially elsewhere.” Back in September of 2019, McDonald’s joined the push for more meat alternatives in North America when it began testing the meat-free PLT burger in southwestern Ontario. McDonald’s says there has been no change in its relationship with Beyond Meat, noting that they’re evaluating learnings from their recent test to inform future menu options.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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