READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 30th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 30th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farmers to Families Food Box Program Reaches 50 Million Boxes Delivered

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Wednesday the Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed over 50 million food boxes. The Department of Agriculture program supports American farmers and families affected the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering food boxes to needy families. Perdue says the milestone is a “testament to everyone’s hard work” on the program. The program supplies food boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat products and a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products. Distributors package the products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need. The first round of purchases totaled $1.2 billion. The second round and current round aims to purchase up to $1.47 billion through August 31. The recently announced third round will use the remaining funds available to the program, up to $3 billion, and purchases will begin by September 1 and conclude at the end of October.

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Biden Releases Rural America Plan

Joe Biden’s Presidential Campaign released Biden’s plan for Rural America Wednesday. The plan says Biden will pursue a rural economic development strategy that “partners with rural communities to invest in their unique assets.” The plan’s goal is to give young people more options to “live, work, and raise the next generation in rural America.” The plan seeks to pursue a trade policy “that works for American farmers.” That includes standing up to China to “negotiate the strongest possible position.” Biden also plans to support beginning farmers by expanding the Obama Administration’s microloan program for new and beginning farmers. Biden also wants to partner with farmers to make American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, giving farmers new sources of income in the process. Biden’s plan also calls for promoting ethanol, including investing $400 billion in clean energy research. The plan also says Biden will “use every tool at his disposal,” including the federal fleet and the federal government’s purchasing power, to promote and advance renewable energy, ethanol, and other biofuels.

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Purdue: Unsolicited Seeds Could Wreak Havoc on Agriculture

Growing concerns around unsolicited seeds prompt at least 28 states to issue warnings not to plant the seeds. Indiana joined the list of states this week, warning of the potential damage to agriculture. Don Robison, seed administrator for the Office of Indiana State Chemist, says, “The last thing we want is to spread a weed, invasive species or disease, and that’s a real risk if people plant these or throw them in the garbage.” Robison says there is potential for serious harm to everything from backyard gardens to commodity and specialty crops. Utah officials confirmed at least one noxious weed in seeds sent to a resident in the state. Weed seeds, invasive species and disease pathogens can spread rapidly, costing millions of dollars annually for just a single plant or disease, and cause billions of dollars of impact overall each year. The seeds may be part of a “brushing” campaign in which online retailers send out unsolicited packages and use the fake sales to improve the seller’s ratings in the marketplace.

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Beef Board Issues New Long-Range Plan

The Beef Industry Long Range Plan task force officially introduced its new five-year plan for 2021-2025 this week at the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Denver. Updated every five years, the Beef Industry Long Range Plan is designed to help the beef industry establish a common set of objectives and priorities. It communicates the industry’s strategic direction and provides insight on how the industry can serve its stakeholders by growing beef demand. Task Force leader Kim Brackett says, “We feel we’ve established some important priorities and strategies, as well as benchmarks for success that will help keep our industry on track through 2025 and beyond.” The plan seeks to grow global beef demand by promoting the benefits of beef, improve industry-wide profitability through expanding processing capacity, and increase research efforts on sustainability. The plan also seeks to make traceability a reality in the U.S. beef industry. The task force convened several times over the past year and considered all aspects of the industry when formulating the plan.

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Ernst to EPA: Make E15 Available at Every Pump

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to make E15 available at every U.S. gas pump. Specifically, Ernst calls on EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to certify biofuel infrastructure for E15 and remove unnecessary labeling which will increase consumer access to E15. In a letter to Wheeler, Ernst writes, “You must act now to initiate a rulemaking process and follow through on this agreement to provide certainty to farmers,” citing COVID-19 pandemic losses. In May, Ernst led a bipartisan effort urging the Trump Administration to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard and reject requests for the RFS to be waived. Ernst is currently pressing the White House to support the biofuels industry through coronavirus relief. The oil industry, expectedly, disagrees. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers claim EPA could mandate a full 15 billion gallons with zero small refinery exemptions, and the fuel supply would still only be able to accommodate about 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol.

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Legislation Would Incentivize Public Schools to Work With Farmers

The Small Farm to School Act seeks to create a pilot program to incentivize public schools to work closely with local farmers. The bill was introduced this week by Representatives Antonio Delgado, a New York Democrat, and Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican. The legislation would create an eight-state pilot program where local public schools would be reimbursed at a higher rate for sourcing school lunches from small farmers under the National School Lunch Program. Specifically, the bill would provide a five cent-per-lunch subsidy when a component of the meal is sourced from a small, local farm. The cost of the subsidy would be split evenly between the federal government and the participating state. The Small Farm to School Act authorizes $20 million annually for the pilot in eight states. Delgado, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, says the legislation “will help form new partnerships that both assist our small farmers and the health of our young people.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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