Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday November 18th Ag News

Nebraska Farm Bureau Members Reaffirm Need for Property Tax Relief

Nebraska Farm Bureau members from across the state have reinforced their desire to have property tax relief be the focal point of any comprehensive tax reform effort. The message was sent as members gathered to discuss issues affecting agriculture at the organization’s annual Policy Forum held Nov. 14 in Kearney.

“The conversations last week only reinforced that property tax relief is top of mind and a top priority for our members as we head toward the 2014 legislative session,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson.

The Farm Bureau conversations occurred among the backdrop of the Nebraska Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee outlining possible pieces of a tax reform package that could serve as the foundation of tax reform talks in the Legislative session starting in January. It’s expected the group will finalize recommendations the first week of December.

“We greatly appreciate the time and effort the legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee has put into gathering public input related to tax reform in Nebraska. The Committee has identified some additional dollars for the property tax credit program, but we believe additional property tax relief measures are warranted,” said Nelson.

The Committee’s pending proposal would add $30 million to the state’s $115 million property tax credit program for one year. It’s estimated the increase would add $15-$20 to the $66 dollar credit on a home valued at $100,000 for tax purposes.

“It has been and will continue to be our hope the Committee will look to provide greater long-term property tax relief as was sought by so many Nebraskans who attended the Committee’s public hearings on the subject. Based on what we heard from our members during last week’s forum, that sentiment has not changed,” said Nelson.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               I’m great at procrastinating.  But when it comes to pasture and hay fields, I’ve learned that problem prevention and advanced preparation is the only way to make significant progress.  So today, I’m giving you a laundry list of actions you can still take this fall to make your forage production better next year.

               Let’s begin with weeds.  Many alfalfa fields are contaminated with mustards, pennycress, cheatgrass, and downy brome every spring.  This doesn’t have to happen.  Before the ground freezes, spray Sencor, Velpar, Sinbar, or Karmex and these weeds won’t be there next spring.

               Similarly, you can avoid letting warm-season grass pastures get overrun by cool-season grasses and weeds.  Spray glyphosate or Plateau now while these invaders are still green for cleaner pastures next summer.

               Speaking of pasture, is nitrogen fertilizer getting too expensive?  Adding clovers or alfalfa to your grass can eliminate your need for any nitrogen fertilizer.  Prepare for making this addition by grazing one of your pastures as short as possible this fall to open it up for adding legume seeds early next spring and to slow down its spring growth rate.

               Finally, pull soil samples, especially from hay fields but also from some of your pastures, and get them tested this fall.  Then use the test results to order fertilizer and maybe even apply it yet this fall if weather conditions still permit.

               Don’t be a procrastinator.  Act now to reduce hay and pasture problems next year and improve your forage production.


               I can’t think of a much more sickening feeling than to watch a group of hungry cows start falling over dead after feeding them a fresh bale of hay.  But that could happen to you this winter if you have high nitrate hay and feed it incorrectly to your animals.

               Preventing this tragedy begins by testing all your millet and oat and cane and corn stalk hay for nitrates.  If you already tested them this summer, great.  If you haven’t, do it now, then keep your records close at hand and be sure you can match test results to bales.

               Once you know the nitrate level is high in some of your hay, how do you feed it safely?  Your first step is dilution.  Blend high nitrate hay with grain or low nitrate forages.  Often this will require grinding and mixing various feeds together in the proper ratio.  Do not feed free choice one bale of high nitrate hay and another bale of low nitrate forage.  Cows will not adjust their diet correctly.  This practically guarantees that some cows that like the high nitrate hay best will be sick or dead the next day.

               After blending, feed cows more often than usual.  Frequent, small meals help cows adjust to high nitrate feeds and will allow you to slowly increase the amount of nitrate they consume each day.

               Especially avoid large meals to hungry cows.  Be extra careful if animals go off feed, like during a snow storm.  Their first meal afterwards needs to contain well below their previous nitrate levels to avoid a sudden, large influx of nitrates into their system.

               High nitrates are scary but manageable.  Keep your cows safe this winter.

Nebraska Delegation Writes President Supporting State Disaster Declaration Request

U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer and Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith today wrote President Obama supporting Nebraska’s request for a federal disaster declaration as a result of storms that hit the state October 2-6, 2013. The weather system produced flooding in central and northeast Nebraska, a tornado outbreak in the southeastern and northeastern portions of the state, as well as an early winter storm that heavily damaged the northern panhandle. The declaration’s approval makes federal assistance available to areas affected by the storm.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency estimates the storm system caused millions of dollars in damage to public infrastructure and private sector losses across the state.

A copy of delegation’s letter is below:

President Barack Obama:
We write in support of Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman’s request for a major disaster declaration related to severe storms in Adams, Dawes, Dixon, Howard, Sheridan, Sherman, Sioux, Thurston, and Wayne Counties in Nebraska.  Roads, bridges, and transportation and public power infrastructure were significantly damaged by these storms that occurred in early October.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency estimates that cost and damage from these storms will exceed $3.3 million.  Severe storms with heavy rain caused flooding and road damage in central and northeastern Nebraska.  Southeastern and northeastern parts of Nebraska also experienced tornados, which affected homes and businesses, as well as the Wayne Airport in Wayne, Nebraska.  Additionally, the northwest corner of the state experienced an ice storm and blizzard that damaged trees, which led to road closures, and the lives of cattle were lost.  Local resources were utilized for recovery efforts from these storms.

As Nebraskans have continued to prove, they are ready and willing to work together to recover from the challenges of natural disasters and the Federal Government can be a partner in that effort.  We fully support Governor Heineman’s request and appreciate your sincere and prompt consideration.

Beef Exports Continue Upward Trend; Pork Exports Remain Down Slightly

Paced by sustained strong performances by the Japan and Hong Kong markets and a rebound in Mexico, U.S. beef exports in September remained ahead of 2012 levels. U.S. pork exports continue to face a number of challenges including access restrictions in Russia and a lingering downturn in the Japan market, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Powered by a 37 percent jump in the volume of beef exports to Japan, 65 percent to Mexico and 102 percent to Hong Kong, U.S. beef exports rose nearly 5 percent in September and are up 1 percent for the year. The value of those exports – up nearly 16 percent to Japan, 56 percent to Mexico, 182 percent to Hong Kong and more than 41 percent to South Korea – drove the value of U.S. beef exports up 14 percent for the month and they remain 10 percent ahead of the 2012 pace that set a record of $5.51 billion.

U.S. pork exports received a boost from sales to the China/Hong Kong region – up 14 percent in volume and 24 percent in value for the month – as well as strong sales to the ASEAN region (up 45 percent in volume and nearly 47 percent in value), but continued access restrictions to Russia and a very competitive market in Japan continued to keep pork exports down 5 percent in value and more than 9 percent in volume for the month and 5 percent in both categories for the year.

“On the beef side, the industry aggressively pursued the opportunities available for U.S. product when market access was expanded in Japan and Hong Kong, and we are seeing exciting growth in both those markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “On the pork side, we are continuing to face challenges from strong competition in Japan that is driving down our market share, and access issues with Russia continue to hamper our industry, both in pork and beef.”

In fact, the decline in pork exports to just Japan and Russia amount to nearly all of the drop-off in pork export volume this year (81,874 metric tons of a total 85,705 metric ton decline) and more than the total dip in export value ($246.7 million decline from the two markets versus $213 million overall).

For the month of September, the United States exported 94,698 metric tons of beef valued at $505.5 million, accounting for 13 percent of total beef production and 11 percent of muscle cuts (versus 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively, last September). The export value per head of fed slaughter in September was $249, up from $227.65 a year ago.

Pork exports for the month totaled 166,650 metric tons valued at $478.7 million, accounting for 25 percent of total U.S. pork production and 21 percent of muscle cuts (versus 26.7 percent and 23 percent, respectively, last September). The export value per head for the month averaged $53, down from $53.43 last year.

Top beef markets

Japan remains the top export market for U.S. beef in 2013. Exports to Japan are up 52 percent in volume (183,942 metric tons) and 35 percent in value ($1.1 billion) for the year, accounting for 21.3 percent of the total volume of U.S. beef exports and 24.2 percent of the value.

The No. 2 volume market for U.S. beef, Mexico took larger volumes for four consecutive months, with September exports increasing nearly 65 percent in volume (18,990 metric tons) and 56 percent in value ($82 million) over year-ago levels. For the year, it is down just 1 percent in volume (149,887 metric tons) and even in value at $641.7 million.

Canada remains a strong market for U.S. beef, second in value and third in volume for the year at 133,776 metric tons (up 6 percent) valued at $912.9 million (up 10 percent).

Other key beef export markets for 2013 include:

-    Hong Kong: up 96 percent in volume (84,473 metric tons) and 137 percent in value ($530.9 million)
-    South Korea: down 19 percent in volume (75,962 metric tons) and 2 percent in value ($419 million)
-    Middle East: down 3 percent in volume (111,895 metric tons) and 18 percent in value ($211.8 million) for the year, with the decline coming in the competitive Egyptian muscle cut market
-    Central/South America: up 24 percent in volume (32,549 metric tons) and 15 percent in value ($113.7 million) led by strong growth to Peru, Chile and Colombia
-    Taiwan: up 135 percent in volume (23,404 metric tons) and 195 percent in value ($185.7 million)

Top pork markets

Mexico remains the top volume market for U.S. pork in 2013, with volume up 1 percent to 446,827 metric tons valued at $849.8 million, a 4 percent increase. Japan is the No. 1 value market at $1.4 billion, a 6 percent decline year-over-year, while volume is down 8 percent to 317,710 metric tons.

Boosted by a strong September, exports to China/Hong Kong were even in volume (313,379 metric tons) and up 6 percent in value ($670.4 million).

Other key pork export markets for 2013 include:

-    Canada: down 1 percent in volume (171,091 metric tons) but up 1 percent in value ($637.5 million)
-    Central/South America: up 32 percent in volume (79,880 metric tons) and 29 percent in value ($199.4 million) led by strong growth to Colombia, Honduras and Chile
-    South Korea: down 33 percent in volume (70,776 metric tons) and 36 percent in value ($194.9 million)
-    ASEAN: up 44 percent in volume (50,456 metric tons) and 39 percent in value ($121.6 million) led by strong growth to the Philippines and Singapore

Lamb exports mixed

Lamb exports remained mixed, off 3 percent in volume for the year (9,720 metric tons) but up 10 percent in value ($21.5 million). For September, two of the top three markets (Mexico and Canada) declined in double digits while the Caribbean was up in double digits. During the month, total lamb exports were 764 metric tons (down over 42 percent) valued at $1.9 million (down more than 17 percent).

Coalition Urges Congress To Demand Fair Treatment From Countries That Get U.S. Trade Benefits

An ad hoc coalition of agricultural and food organizations led by the National Pork Producers Council is urging Congress to establish criteria for revoking a country’s tariff-free access to the U.S. market if it fails to give U.S. products treatment consistent with international trade rules. The coalition also weighed in on renewing beneficial trade treatment for African nations that restrict U.S. imports.

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) offers tariff-free treatment on many products from developing countries. Last year, 130 nations received such benefits on about 5,000 products shipped to the United States. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is similar to GSP. Congress is set to extend AGOA, which expires in 2015, and to renew GSP, which expired at the end of July.

In a letter sent today to lawmakers, the coalition pointed out that “barriers to U.S. exports in GSP beneficiary countries are widespread and are often in flagrant violation of international obligations.”

“The fact that these countries may maintain these restrictions on U.S. goods while benefitting from unilateral preferential treatment for their products in the U.S. market – and with little apparent concern about losing those tariff benefits – is clearly inconsistent with the intent of Congress, and we believe this must change,” the coalition concluded.

In a separate letter to Congress, the coalition stated its strong opposition to a long-term or permanent extension of AGOA.

Either extension, said the coalition, would remove any incentive for beneficiary nations to move toward reciprocal trade relationships with the United States. A number of African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, have non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. goods, most of which violate World Trade Organization (WTO) trade rules.

In extending AGOA, the coalition is urging lawmakers to require, at a minimum, that beneficiary countries “refrain from erecting blatantly protectionist and WTO-incompatible barriers to our products.”

USSEC Finalizes Arrangements for 2013 U.S. Soy Trade & Sustainability European Buyers Conference in Turkey

The United States Soybean Export Council will organize and participate in the 2013 U.S. Soy Trade & Sustainability European Buyers Conference from November 19 – 21 at the Ritz – Carlton Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey.  Buyers of soybean meal from the European Union (EU); North American soy and grain industry exporters and agribusiness officials; trade organizations; farmer producers and agriculture leaders; and federal government officials will participate in this third annual event.

USSEC CEO Jim Sutter will address attendees at the welcome reception on November 19.  Several USSEC consultants are slated to speak on November 20.  Dr. Jan van Eys of GANS, France will lecture on the topic of “Capturing the Value of U.S. Soy” and Dr. Gonzalo Mateos of the University of Spain will discuss “Profiling Amino Acids.”  Paul Smolen of USSEC’s High Impact project will talk about commercial realities.  The focus of the conference will transition from trade to sustainability on November 21.  USSEC Regional Director – Europe & Middle East / North Africa Brent Babb will give an introduction to the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Reassurance Protocol and will moderate a sustainability panel discussion.

In addition to covering topics that highlight developments and challenges central to the soy agricultural landscape, planned social and networking activities will provide attendees with ample opportunities to develop relationships with key members of the soybean meal industry.  USSEC expects this event to help participants gain access to critical information, network with industry principals and explore real business opportunities.

NCBA Environmental Stewardship Award Calls for Entries

The 24th annual Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) has officially opened its nomination season for 2014. Established in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the program has recognized the outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements of U.S. cattle producers for more than two decades. Regional and national award winners are honored for their commitment to protecting the environment and improving fish and wildlife habitat while operating profitable cattle businesses.

Seven regional winners and one national winner are selected annually by a committee of representatives from universities, conservation organizations, federal and state agencies, and cattle producers. The nominees compete for regional awards based on their state of residency, and these seven regional winners then compete for the national award. Candidates are judged on management of water, wildlife, vegetation, soil, as well as the nominee’s leadership and the sustainability of his or her business as a whole.

“America’s cattlemen and women have always been focused on environmental stewardship and conservation, and these awards give us a chance to celebrate their dedication,” said NCBA President Scott George. “Over the past two decades, the ESAP program has inspired cattle producers to try new techniques, and shown the world that we are the true environmentalists. If you haven’t taken the opportunity in the past to nominate a ranch family you know, now is the time!”

Any individual, group or organization is eligible to nominate one individual or business that raises or feeds cattle. Past nominees are eligible and encouraged to resubmit their application; previous winners may not reapply. Along with a completed application, the applicant must submit one nomination letter and three letters of recommendation highlighting the nominee’s leadership in conservation.

The program is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the NCF and NCBA.

Applications for the 2014 ESAP award are due Mar. 7, 2014. For more information and a complete application packet visit:

WRRDA Moves Forward with House Conferee Appointments

WRRDA takes a step forward this week with the appointment of House conferees selected to serve on the committee to resolve the differences between the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080) and the Senate’s version of the water resources legislation.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV) issued statements on the appointments in a news release on Thursday, Nov.14.

“This is an excellent team of knowledgeable, thoughtful, and hard-working Members of Congress,” Shuster said.  “I look forward to their valuable input as we work towards a fiscally responsible final measure that improves our economic competitiveness and helps promote job growth through strengthening our water resources infrastructure.”

Rahall added that he is confident that the same cooperative spirit that advanced the Water Resources bill in the house in October will help get this pro-jobs measure across the finish line.

“I look forward to working with this outstanding group of Members and our Senate colleagues to produce a conference report that appropriately invests in our water infrastructure and which earns the strong support of both chambers,” Rahall said.

On Oct. 23, the House overwhelmingly (417 to 3) approved the bipartisan H.R. 3080 that cuts federal red tape and bureaucracy, streamlines the infrastructure project delivery process, fosters fiscal responsibility, and strengthens our water transportation networks to promote America’s competitiveness, prosperity and economic growth.

Once the conference committee agrees to a final measure, the House and Senate must approve the conference report before it can be sent to the President for his signature.

NFU Comments on Food Safety Regulations, Deadline Extended

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted comments today regarding concerns with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA also announced today that it has extended the comment period to Nov. 22.

“NFU supported passage of FSMA, the first major overhaul of food safety legislation in more than 70 years, and we appreciate that FSMA moves the food safety system from reaction to prevention,” said Johnson. “It is now a matter of establishing regulations to effectively achieve these goals without overreacting to recent outbreaks of foodborne illness in such a way that jeopardizes the livelihoods of family farmers.”

Two of the pending rules for FSMA, the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (Produce Rule) and the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls For Human Food (Preventive Controls Rule), have attracted the most attention from NFU’s family farmer members.

“NFU raises concerns about the definition of farms in the rule, as well as the basis for testing requirements and quality standards for agricultural water,” said Johnson. “The comments also urge FDA to reduce the interval that prohibits the application of biological soil amendments before harvesting produce and asks for clarity in how alternative compliance proposals will be considered.”

Furthermore, NFU seeks a second comment period on the rules so that farmers and growers may provide additional feedback to smooth the implementation process for FSMA.

“Great care must be taken when finalizing regulations of this scale, and because of the importance of FSMA to the future of U.S. agriculture, a set of revised rules should be published and made available for comments from stakeholders,” said Johnson. “FSMA is a well-intentioned and important evolution of our food safety system, we ask that the aforementioned comments be considered before proceeding further in the rulemaking process, in the hopes that improvements to consumer confidence in the food supply not come at the expense of family farm agriculture.”

Brazil's Soybean Planting 69% Complete

Brazilian soybean planting progressed within expectations over the past week to reach 69% as of Friday, said AgRural, a local farm consultancy.  With a good portion of early-planted beans now reaching the important flowering stage, the crop is in generally good condition, said the analytics firm. However, a lack of precipitation has become a concern in some regions, it added.  Soybean planting moved forward by 10 percentage points this past week, remaining marginally ahead of the 67% planted at the same point last year but a little behind the five-year average of 72%.

In Mato Grosso, the top soy-producing state, planting is now 91% complete, up from 85% last week.  In Parana, the No. 2 soybean state, planting progressed 12 percentage points last week to reach 84% of projected area, slightly ahead of the five-year average.  In contrast, Rio Grande do Sul, the No. 3 state, received heavy rain last week, bringing planting to a halt in some regions for two days. However, there was still time for planting to jump from 17% to 33% complete over the course of last week, beating the pace set last year when 29%.

NFU Disappointed in EPA’s 2014 RFS Standards

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements:

“We are deeply disappointed in EPA’s apparent willingness to reduce total renewable fuel requirements based on the oil industry’s fictitious ‘blend wall’ argument. Big oil has determined that biofuels are taking their market share, so they have prevented increased amounts of biofuel to be sold at gas stations.

“At a time when advanced and cellulosic biofuel plants are just starting to come online, the EPA is sending a negative signal which will stifle investment in this nascent industry.

“Lowering renewable fuel targets below that which can be produced and below what is already being produced will sink corn prices, kill jobs and damage rural economies.

“The administration needs to stay true to its word that it will tackle climate change. The RFS is America’s only real climate change policy, and biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 30 percent compared to regular gasoline.

“We look forward to commenting on the proposed targets and EPA’s flawed methodology so that we can continue to support the biofuels industry.”

Food Coalition Blasts Revised Ethanol Mandate

A mere tinkering with the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and the corn ethanol mandate by the Environmental Protection Agency will not help relieve the impacts of artificially-high food prices, according to a grassroots food coalition. The group, 'Feed Food Fairness: Take RFS Off the Menu,' is comprised of poultry and livestock producers, small business chain restaurateurs and other members of America's food chain.

A core concern of the Feed Food Fairness coalition is that the RFS should not be viewed solely from an energy and environment perspective because the law also raises food commodity prices, which creates unnecessary and damaging burdens on farmers, small businesses in the food chain and, ultimately, consumers.

Statements from Feed Food Fairness coalition members provide additional perspectives:

-- "The baking industry recognizes EPA's proposal lowering the corn-based ethanol mandate. However, this does not go far enough. Corn-based ethanol is a factor that has led to decreased wheat acreage in the US over the past 30 years and tighter food supplies around the world," said Robb MacKie, President & CEO, American Bakers Association.

-- "The EPA decision to reduce the corn ethanol mandate is long overdue. While this is a positive step, the fact remains the RFS is a flawed policy that requires Congressional action. Even with a record corn crop expected this year, the damaging ripple effect of this defective policy has been moving through the meat and poultry complex for the past several years. The time for Congressional action is now," said Mark Dopp, SVP of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel, American Meat Institute

-- "Why must restaurant operators and their customers, the American consumer, continue to pay higher food prices due to the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard? It is time to end the misguided policy of using corn for fuel," said Mark Allen, President, International Foodservice Distributors Association

-- "While we are thankful and support the action EPA is taking today, its timid adjustment reconfirms the program is broken beyond repair. This is a good first step, but ultimately, Congress must act. Congressional action to repeal the RFS remains the most viable pathway to allowing all users of corn to have equal standing in the marketplace," said Michael J. Brown, President, National Chicken Council

-- "The Renewable Fuel Standard has wrought havoc on food retailers, restaurants, franchisees and operators, as well as food producers, and suppliers. However, the ultimate losers are consumers. Study after study has shown that the corn ethanol mandate has artificially driven up commodity costs by billions of dollars annually, and with it, consumer prices. Today's proposal by the EPA reaffirms our steadfast belief that Congress needs to repeal the RFS mandate once and for all," said Rob Green, Executive Director, National Council of Chain Restaurants

Feed Food Fairness: Take RFS Off the Menu is steadfast in its opposition to the RFS. Only the U.S. Congress, which created this flawed policy, can solve the problem and as such, the Feed Food Fairness coalition calls on Congress to repeal the RFS.

Study Finds Offering Healthier School Snacks Helps Kids Make Healthier Choices at Home

Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services

Last week, researchers from Michigan State University, Oakland University, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and the Michigan Department of Education came out with a new study showing that when schools offer healthier snacks in vending machines and a la carte lines, students’ overall diets improve. Students in schools that offered healthier snacks consumed more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and not just at school—at home, too.

This is encouraging news for schools and school nutrition professionals as they begin implementing the Smart Snacks in School standards, which will ensure that students are offered healthier food options during the school day. Smart Snacks in School requires more whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein, while still leaving plenty of room for tradition, like homemade birthday treats and bake sale fundraisers.

The most exciting piece of this study, to me, is that it reiterates that the improvements we’ve made to school breakfasts, lunches and snacks really do make a difference in students’ lives beyond the cafeteria. Plus, this study comes on the heels of other encouraging research that shows that efforts to establish healthy habits at an early age are working. According to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics, kids ages 11 to 16 are now eating more fruits and vegetables and consuming less sugar, getting more physical activity, and starting their days with a healthy breakfast. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that the rate of obesity among low-income children appears to be declining, dropping for the first time in decades in some states.

America’s parents, teachers, school nutrition professionals and communities work hard to make the healthy choice, the easy choice for our kids. Our work is ongoing, but I am proud of how far we’ve come.

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