Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tuesday July 30 Ag News


Many rural Nebraskans are active in their communities but are less involved in politics, according to the 2019 Nebraska Rural Poll.

During the past 12 months, 35% of rural Nebraskans surveyed have worked with someone or some group to solve a problem in the community where they live. This is an increase from 29% in 2015.

“The flooding that occurred this year may have contributed to this increase, as Nebraskans rallied to volunteer or help their neighbors and communities,” said Becky Vogt, manager of the Rural Poll — the largest annual poll of rural Nebraskans' perceptions on quality of life and policy issues.

Most rural Nebraskans surveyed have either worked together with someone or some group to solve a problem in the community, served in a community organization in an unpaid role or signed a written petition about a political or social issue. Almost half have contacted or visited a public official to express their opinion, and the same proportion have bought or boycotted a certain product or service because of the social or political values of the company that provides it.

Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed responded that they have given money to a candidate, political party or organization that supports candidates, with 21% volunteering for a political organization or candidate running for office. Nineteen percent have contacted a newspaper or magazine to express their opinion on an issue. Just 10% have taken part in a protest, march or demonstration, with even less working as canvassers — going door to door for a political or social group or candidate.

Most poll respondents are positive about community leadership. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed agree or strongly agree that their community’s leaders are effective and do a good job. And although opinions are somewhat mixed on whether they have a leadership crisis in their community today, more disagree with that statement than agree with it.

Most poll respondents agree on the importance of strong, effective community leadership. Over three-quarters of those surveyed agree that strong leadership will prevent their community’s decline, and two-thirds agree that the problems their community faces today can be solved through effective leadership.

However, the proportions agreeing that ordinary citizens have a great deal of power to help make their community’s leadership more effective, and that feel a great deal of personal responsibility to actively participate in making their community’s leadership more effective, both declined from 2015 to 2019.

“People who feel less empowered, or like their efforts won’t make a difference, might also feel less responsible for their community’s leadership,” said L.J. McElravy, associate professor of youth civic leadership at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. “It’s not clear if there’s anything specific driving these trends, but flooding, national or state politics, and trade disputes might all be impacting respondents’ daily lives, and rural Nebraskans have had little direct control over these aspects of life in Nebraska over the past several months.”

The response rate for this year’s Rural Poll was 28%. The margin of error is plus or minus 2%. Complete results are available at http://ruralpoll.unl.edu.

The university's Department of Agricultural Economics conducts the poll with funding from Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Rural Futures Institute.

Iowa Farm Bureau Park to Feature Farmers, Educational Games and Prizes

The 2019 Iowa State Fair brings crowds from far and wide who seek entertainment, education and food, and they’ll be able to find all three again this year at Farm Bureau Park on the Grand Concourse.  Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), the state’s largest grassroots farm organization, has plenty of activities going on throughout the State Fair, Aug 8-18, designed to help fairgoers learn more about the many ways their food is grown today.  

“Iowa Farm Bureau believes in the innovation of agriculture, and we’re proud to showcase the hard-working men and women who grow our food, renewable fuel and fiber,” says IFBF President Craig Hill.  “Our ability to overcome obstacles is all part of what puts Iowa agriculture on the map.  Our livestock farmers are the envy of the world, and we certainly know Iowans like what our farmers produce.  According to our Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®, more than 9 in 10 (95 percent) Iowa grocery shoppers say their households eat meat at least weekly. More than 8 in 10 eat beef (88 percent), chicken (84 percent), and eggs (83 percent) at least weekly, 6 in 10 (60 percent) eat pork at least weekly, and more than half of Iowa households consume milk daily.  This demand shaped our theme this year in Farm Bureau Park: ‘Real Farmers, Real Food, Real Meat.’  We plan to celebrate our many hard-working farmers who put food on our family table, and we know fairgoers will enjoy what we have on the menu.” 

Free, family-friendly games with prizes will help visitors to Farm Bureau Park learn more about farming.  Dozens of Iowa farmers will also be on hand to meet guests and help them learn more about how their food is grown and raised.   This year, IFBF members should stop by Farm Bureau Park to claim their free membership gift.  Members can also enter a drawing to win a Traeger Timberline Wood Pellet Grill and a Fareway meat package—a value of more than $1,500.    Iowans who sign up to become a new Farm Bureau member can register to win a Yeti Haul cooler and a Fareway meat package. All visitors  can also register to win $500 in free groceries by taking the Member Benefit Challenge.

Farm Bureau Day at the State Fair is Aug. 13 and the day includes many activities, including the kickoff of the 56th annual Farm Bureau Cookout Contest on the Grand Concourse.  The contest, which runs between 9 a.m.-noon, features the county Farm Bureau Cookout Contest contestants who come to the State Fair to vie for cash prizes and the title of Cookout Champion.  Celebrity judges for this year’s contest include ‘Mr. State Fair’ WHO-TV13 Chief Meteorologist Ed Wilson, KCCI-TV8 morning anchor and host of the popular “This Is Iowa” segments Eric Hanson and Fareway grocery store’s CEO Reynolds Cramer.

Several invited partners have important health screening and educational opportunities for fairgoers.  Highlights include the giveaway of 1,000 free bike helmets on August 12, sponsored by ‘On with Life.’  New this year, Unity Point Trauma Outreach experts will have a free training that can save a life during trauma.  Their important campaign, called ‘Stop the Bleed,’ will be featured on six days of the fair: August 9, 10, 13, 15, 16 and 17.  For a complete listing of events and activities going on this year at Farm Bureau Park, visit www.iowafarmbureau.com.

NMPF Agrees With Secretary Vilsack’s Senate Finance Testimony: Pass USMCA

As the Senate Finance Committee convened a hearing today on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern offered the following statement:

“As Secretary Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, testified at today’s hearing, USMCA delivers key wins for America’s dairy farmers and the exports that drive stronger sales. With USMCA, dairy farmers will see more export opportunities and greater trade certainty. Without USMCA, we lose out on $314 million in additional dairy exports. We also lose the benefit of the new rules this deal puts in place, such as key reforms to Canada’s dairy system and stronger safeguards for our cheese exports to Mexico.

“We commend the Senate for spotlighting USMCA’s importance and strongly support the testimony offered by USDEC on how the agreement benefits dairy. To usher in USMCA’s improvements for dairy farmers and build momentum for additional trade agreements with key markets like Japan, we urge swift action to resolve any outstanding issues and secure approval of USMCA.”

NCBA Takes the Fight to Fake Meat at Summer Business Meeting

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) leaders today redoubled their efforts to push back against deceptive and erroneous marketing and nutritional claims by plant-based and lab-created alternatives to real beef.

In the opening General Session of the cattle industry’s annual Summer Business Meeting, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Colin Woodall, and Alisa Harrison, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing and Research, highlighted how NCBA is continuing to educate consumers and policymakers about the benefits of real beef and the often oversold claims of fake meat products.

“While meat substitutes have certainly attracted a lot of media hype over the past couple of years, data shows that real beef maintains 99.5% of the retail market vs. only 0.5% for meat substitutes,” Harrison pointed out. “Meanwhile, real beef consumption continues to grow, and even consumers who sometimes choose to buy plant-based alternatives continue to eat real beef as often as they always have.”

Woodall focused on the need for the federal government to ensure that beef nomenclature is protected in the marketing and labeling of fake meat. He also said the organization will continue to educate consumers about what exactly is in the plant-based fake meat that is available in supermarkets and restaurants.

“When consumers buy a steak or a pound of ground beef, they’re buying one ingredient: beef,” Woodall said. “But when they buy one particular fake-meat product, they’re buying pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, cellulose from bamboo, methyl cellulose, potato starch, maltodextrin, yeast extract, vegetable glycerin, dried yeast, gum arabic, citrus extract, ascorbic acid, beet juice extract, acetic acid, succinic acid, modified food starch, and annatto. Anyone who thinks that these fake meat products are more nutritious or more natural than real beef is very mistaken, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure people know that.”

The 2019 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting kicked off on Monday and will run through Thursday. Over the next few days, various NCBA policy committees will meet to discuss and set policy positions for the next year.

Trade, Consumer Demand, Impending Corn Crop Among Critical Issues for U.S. Cattle Industry

Herd expansion, export markets, corn crop expectations and swine fever ramifications are among the factors that will have an impact on the upcoming U.S. cattle market, Randy Blach, CEO of CattleFax, told more than 700 attendees of the 2019 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting near Denver July 30, 2019. Blach was keynote speaker at the Opening General Session of the meeting, a gathering for leaders of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, American National CattleWomen and National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

Blach told the group that U.S. cattle herd expansion had slowed to a crawl, with the lion’s share of growth behind the industry. That slowing had been expected, he said. Record beef, pork and poultry supplies are having an impact on the market. For that reason and with record meat consumption expected next year, it’s critical for export markets to be opened and trade policy questions to be answered, he said.

However, consumers have responded well to the increased quality of beef production in this country, Blach said. There has been a 50 percent increase in prime and choice production over the past 15 years, and 80 percent of U.S. beef is now Prime and Choice. Beef has captured an additional 7 percent of market share of meat spending from poultry and pork. “It’s a great, great success story,” Blach said. “We have to continue to be the highest quality protein provider, delivering products we can stand behind that consumers love.”

Blach pointed out that the average consumer works only 12 minutes to be able to pay for one pound of high quality Choice beef. “That’s a bargain,” he said.

Corn crop uncertainty centered around the number of acres planted and yield potential is also of concern, as the impact of wet weather in grain producing segments of the country will be unknown until the middle of August, Blach said. Furthermore, ramifications of swine fever in China will add some unknowns to the equation. “We’re looking at a lot of volatility as a result of what’s happening in that part of the world,” he said.

“We have to remember that only 4 percent of the world’s consumers live in this country,” Blach added. “Currently 14 percent of beef and beef by products are exported. More than 20 percent of the value of every fed steer is generated by exports. We need to have more outlets for not only our beef, but our poultry and pork.”

Blach said that while an economic recession could have some serious repercussions on the beef cattle industry, the bottom line for producers is profitability, which in general the industry has seen in recent history. “If we’re not profitable, we’re not sustainable,” he said. “I do believe we’re going to stay profitable as we go through this cycle.”

Blach’s comments reflected information shared with CattleFax members in a Long Term Outlook produced last week. The Outlook provides an up-to-date look at the factors influencing the U.S. cattle market and its producers.

The Summer Business Meeting gives industry leaders a chance to meet and discuss the direction of programs for 2020. Beef Checkoff committees made up of members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and directors on the NCBA Federation Division meet to assess authorization requests submitted by checkoff contractors, submitting their suggestions to the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, which meets in September. The BPOC will develop a plan and budget and submit its recommendation to the full Beef Board for authorization. The 2020 program must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before it can begin Oct. 1, 2019.

Meanwhile, NCBA policy committees meet to develop a game plan for the organization’s efforts to support and protect the U.S. cattle industry in Washington, D.C. and across the country beginning in January of 2020. These include livestock marketing; federal lands; agriculture and food policy; cattle health and well-being; property rights and environmental management and international trade.

Emerging Markets In India, Africa, Ethanol Focus Of U.S. Grains Council Annual Meeting

The name of the game in today’s challenging agricultural trade environment is emerging markets, and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) set its sights on India, Africa and new opportunities for ethanol sales on Tuesday during its 59th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Cincinnati.

India has shown solid economic growth and is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Its population is very young – 45 percent is under age 25 – but a combination of outdated agricultural policy and regulation is a roadblock for U.S. products in India, said Scott Sindelar, CEO of Edgewise Trade Advisers and a former USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) official, who spoke to the Council’s delegate body.

“There is significant potential for U.S. agricultural and food products in India, but expectations must be balanced by the reality of India,” Sindelar said. “There is a substantive role the USGC can play in India. India’s leaders are intent to have the country be a leader on the global stage, and changes within the Indian government could help USGC programs build demand and enable change from within.”

Kurt Shultz, the Council’s senior director of global strategies, spoke on how the organization’s work is expanding into East and West Africa, building on longtime programs in North Africa, using resources from new funding sources including the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, administered by FAS. He told delegates more than half the global population growth will occur in Africa by 2050, which will drive feed demand that can be captured with additional focus on capacity building and marketing.

“The Council works where the market does not,” Shultz said. “Africa and the Middle East show an opportunity for expansion of commercial feed production. We’ve worked in Morocco, Tunisia, and East Africa, but with the availability of ATP funding, we’re planning on new programs in both East and West Africa.

“We need to challenge the system there to bring in updated equipment, leverage past investments and train a new generation in Sub-Saharan Africa. We want to reinforce our programming in Tanzania while we expand programming in Kenya and Ethiopia to identify key market players and engage them in marketing programs. We can’t solve every problem, but we can plant the seeds.”

The attendees also heard an ATP update from Chief Economist Mike Dwyer and USGC Manager of Ethanol Export Market Development Brian Healy specifically on ethanol programs, which received the largest single portion of the Council’s ATP award of more than $20 million total. This funding has allowed the Council to dramatically expand the scope and depth of its ethanol programs including technical assistance, policy development and in-country engagement.

“Growth in the middle class is driving changes in markets around the world,” Healy said. “ATP funding will allow us to scale up global engagement in emerging markets while continuing our engagement with mature markets that show near-term demand.”

The afternoon featured breakout sessions going in-depth on lost demand due to sanitary/phytosanitary incidences and the nuances and critical nature of various types of trade agreements.

Also on Tuesday, the Council’s five sectors – agribusiness, barley, corn, sorghum and general farm organizations – assembled for breakfasts and to elect new leaders, and the organization recognized individual members who have reached the significant milestones in their participation.

The Council’s meeting in Cincinnati will conclude Wednesday with Board of Delegates and Board of Directors meetings.


The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) rolled out a new publication at BIO World Congress in Des Moines, Iowa earlier this month called Corn as an Industrial Feedstock. The publication distills corn’s story by explaining why corn is a great industrial feedstock. The book is divided into three sections: Corn is a Responsibly Produced Industrial Feedstock, Corn is an Abundant Industrial Feedstock and Corn is an Affordable Industrial Feedstock.

“As NCGA continues to work to find new uses of corn, this publication will help us have conversations with potential future partners about why corn is an ideal industrial feedstock,” said NCGA Director of Market Development Sarah McKay. “We have a very positive story to tell. U.S. corn farmers continue to produce a more on less land and corn’s cost as a feedstock has benefited greatly by improvements in technology, production and logistics efficiency.”

NCGA is working to establish at least three new uses of corn by 2020, for a minimum of 75 million incremental bushels.

Learn more by going to ncga.com/newuses.

USDA Releases SNAP Payment Error Rate for 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today released an analysis showing an increase in the benefit payment error rate in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) between Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018. SNAP’s national payment error rate – a measure of both overpayments and underpayments made by all states to program participants – was 6.8% in fiscal year 2018, up from 6.3% in last year’s reporting.

“USDA is committed to ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent as intended and Federal programs should be transparent about their performance,” said Brandon Lipps, USDA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.

“Our reforms to the measurement system have allowed us to report reliable rates for a second year. But I am concerned about the increase in errors over last year’s performance, since any error rate in a $60 billion program impacts the bottom line significantly. We are redoubling our efforts to partner with states to reduce errors. As part of this, I am looking to national, regional and state leadership to commit with me to solve these problems.”

To ensure leadership at all levels are engaged in improving accuracy of SNAP payments, today U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue sent letters to the Governors of the 15 states with the most significant error rate problems.

Department officials emphasize that the SNAP payment error rates announced today are not a measure of fraud, but a representation of how accurately states are determining participants eligible for the program and issuing the correct amount of benefits. Under federal law, each state agency is responsible for monitoring its administration of SNAP, including payment accuracy.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service then independently reviews a sampling of each state’s data to ensure accuracy and target corrective action and sanctions for poor performance, as provided under the law. This year, FNS will issue over $26 million in sanctions to high-error states to ensure they are working diligently to improve accuracy.  States must either pay the full amount immediately to the U.S. Treasury, or promptly reinvest half of these funds in FNS-approved actions to reduce errors, and pay the remainder if accuracy does not improve.

“Many different factors contribute to payment errors, and I am committed to working with sanctioned states to invest these resources in solutions that will drive better performance in our program,” Lipps said.

FNS will be building on its robust SNAP payment accuracy strategy with other improvements in the coming months, including:
-    Proposed rulemaking to propose additional changes to further strengthen the SNAP quality control process, including reforms enacted by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill
-    Enhanced review of preliminary quality control data to target technical assistance proactively
-    Early communication between USDA and senior state government leadership to address problems as they emerge

“Good stewardship is a responsibility we share with states, and Congress and the American people expect USDA to ensure these programs operate with great integrity,” Lipps said. “We will meet that responsibility with action.”

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

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