Rural Mainstreet Index Retreats for First Time Since April
For the first time since April of this year, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) declined. According to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy, the index fell to its lowest level since August of this year.
Overall: The overall index for November sank below growth neutral to 46.8 from October’s 53.2. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.
“Recent improvements in agriculture commodity prices, federal farm support payments, and Federal Reserve’s record low interest rates have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy. Still, only 6.5% of bankers reported economic improvements from October, while 12.9% detailed economic pullbacks for the month,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.
Farming and ranching: For a second straight month, the farmland-price index advanced above growth neutral. The November reading jumped to 55.0 from October’s 50.6. This is first time since 2013 that Creighton’s survey has recorded back-to-back above growth neutral readings in farmland prices.
The November farm equipment-sales index increased to 42.9, its highest level since December 2013, and up from 37.9 in October. However, this marks the 86th straight month the reading has remained below growth neutral 50.0.
Banking: Bankers reported record low loan volumes for November. The November loan volume index fell to its lowest since the initiation of the survey in 2006. The lending index slumped to 25.8 from October’s 46.8. The checking-deposit index soared to 87.1, a record high, from 66.1 in October, while the index for certificates of deposit, and other savings instruments rose to 46.8 from 38.7 in October.
This month bankers were asked to project the share of grain farmers likely to experience negative cash flow for 2021. Bankers expect 9.2% of grain farmers’ cash expenses to exceed cash revenue. This is an improvement from 2019 when bankers projected 12.4% of farmers to experience negative cash flows for 2020.
Below are the state reports:
Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for November slumped to 45.1 from 58.6 in October. The state’s farmland-price index improved to 58.7 from last month’s 53.8. Nebraska’s new-hiring index fell to a still strong 56.9 from 58.0 in October. Compared to the same month last year, Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 3.9% of its nonfarm employment, representing 11,300 jobs.
Iowa: The November RMI for Iowa sank to 47.4 from October’s 52.3. Iowa’s farmland-price index rose to 53.4 from 50.6 in October. Iowa’s new-hiring index for November inched lower to 54.0 from 54.9 in October. Compared to the same month last year, Iowa’s Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 6.4% of its nonfarm employment, representing 43,000 jobs.
Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities, and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included.
This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2006.
Nebraska Communities United Asks Public To Help Protect Nebraska From Excessive Industry In New Watchful Citizen Program
“The Salvation of the State is the Watchfulness in the Citizen” is inscribed over the main entrance of Nebraska’s State Capitol building. For generations, this Hartley Burr Alexander quote has reminded us that citizen watchfulness is vital to a healthy democracy.
Honoring this sentiment, Nebraska Communities United (NCU) is inviting rural Nebraska citizens to take part in a health-focused, agriculture and environmental initiative, The Watchful Citizen Program.
The Watchful Citizen program is designed to be the eyes and ears for grassroots Nebraska individuals and communities who have local CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) near their homes, farms or place of business. Citizens who volunteer become part of a team that collects data regarding these respective CAFOs. Data collection will include noise and light pollution, road conditions, air quality and water testing.
The Watchful Citizen Program intends to promote public transparency in regard to industrialized ag companies, while holding them accountable to a higher, and more sustainable standard.
NCU was founded in 2016 in response to the incursion of vertically integrated agriculture in Nebraska. For the past four years, NCU has been educating citizens and farmers about regenerative farming strategies, and encouraging independent farming and ranching that is both profitable and ecologically responsible.
Randy Ruppert, President of Nebraska Communities United says, “An informed community is a strong community. These programs such as The Watchful Citizen and Citizen Scientist Water Testing, are designed to allow more Nebraskans to participate in the protection of our health, natural resources and communities.”
If citizens are interested in obtaining more information or if you would like to join the team of Watchful Citizens, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Citizens can also enroll in the program by visiting our website at https://www.nebraskacommunitiesunited.org/help-protect-nebraska.
Fischer Cosponsors Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020
U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today joined Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in introducing The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020. The legislation would reduce barriers to entry to enable more farmers and ranchers to voluntarily participate in carbon credit markets
“Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers have long been good stewards of the land and innovators of ways to conserve our precious natural resources. By reducing barriers to carbon credit markets, Senator Braun’s bipartisan legislation will enable more ag producers to be part of the climate solution and it will help them expand on existing practices,” said Senator Fischer.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act creates a certification process at USDA to help solve technical entry barriers to farmer and forest landowner participation in carbon credit markets.
The bill establishes a process through which USDA will be able to provide transparency, legitimacy, and informal endorsements of third party verifiers and technical service providers that help private landowners generate carbon credits.
Through the program, USDA will help connect landowners to private sector actors who can assist the landowners in implementing the protocols and monetizing the climate value of their sustainable practices. Third party entities, certified under the program, will be able to claim the status of a “USDA Certified” technical assistance provider or verifier. The USDA certification lowers barriers to entry in the credit markets by reducing confusion and improving information for farmers looking to implement practices that capture carbon, reduce emissions, improve soil health, and make operations more sustainable. The bill also instructs USDA to produce a report to Congress to advise about the further development of this policy area.
“On behalf of Nebraska’s corn farmers, I’d like to thank Sen. Deb Fischer for signing on to the Growing Climate Solutions Act. This legislation not only recognizes the current work of our farmers’ conservation efforts, but it also improves the opportunity for access to carbon markets, helping our farmers take the next step in their stewardship and environmental efforts,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.
“The Growing Climate Solutions Act is an important step toward solving climate change in a manner that supports Nebraska's farms and ranches. Senator Fischer is to be commended for sponsoring this act, which has support from major farm and environmental organizations and members of both parties. Climate change is already affecting our weather across Nebraska and our farmers and ranchers are feeling much of the pain. It is great that Congress has developed a response that has both short and long-term benefits. It will improve our croplands while reducing carbon emissions. The Nebraska Citizens' Climate Lobby strongly supports Senator Fischer's decision to sponsor this important bill,” said the Nebraska Citizens' Climate Lobby.
“We greatly appreciate Sen. Fischer’s support for the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Nebraska Farm Bureau has long been a proponent of ensuring farmers and ranchers are recognized for their ongoing efforts to protect and conserve soil health. That’s why Farm Bureau offered support for this forward-looking legislation when it was introduced this past June. The bill, which authorizes USDA to establish a third-party verification system and technical support, is an important step forward to facilitate farmers being financially rewarded for their ongoing efforts to keep carbon in the soil,” said Steve Nelson, president, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation
“Passage of the GCSA would be a big win for agriculture and for conservation. Farmers and ranchers need a straightforward way to tap into voluntary carbon markets, and this bill is a big step in that direction. Thanks to Senator Fischer for her leadership on this important issue,” said Mace Hack, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska.
“CRES applauds Senator Fischer for joining the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Covering 92% of the state’s total land, Nebraska’s farms and ranches are an impressive engine for the state’s economy. With support from Nebraska’s Senior Senator, the Growing Climate Solutions Act recognizes that these hard-working men and women can be trusted to help protect our environment while continuing to feed our nation and the world. Senator Fischer is a recognized advocate for agriculture and conservation, and her commitment to commonsense, limited-government climate solutions is a welcomed, much-needed voice in the Federal government. CRES is thrilled to work with Senator Fischer and the other Growing Climate Solutions Act sponsors to advance this bipartisan, voluntary framework for empowering America’s farmers, ranchers and landowners to address climate change while boosting local economies,” said Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions’ Executive Director Heather Reams.
Northwest Iowa Wagyu Beef Producer Earns Triple Crown Steak Challenge Honors
What makes a superior steak? Feddersen USA Wagyu is raising the bar with its big wins in the national Triple Crown Steak Challenge, including the Reserve Grand Champion title.
Feddersen USA Wagyu of Anthon earned top honors in mid-November for producing beef with superior flavor, tenderness and health benefits.
“Our goal is to produce the best-tasting, 100% Wagyu beef,” said Brad Feddersen, who has raised Wagyu cattle with his family since 1997. “We look at every little detail that can have an impact on our cattle’s well-being and performance. The Triple Crown Steak Challenge results verify that all the long hours, hard work, efforts to maintain a healthy environment for the cattle pay off in exceptional meat quality.”
The Feddersen family has been building their herd of full-blooded Wagyu cattle since 2017. Their plans to sell hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef directly to consumers and chefs accelerated after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the food-supply chain.
The family keeps their cattle on feed for two years, significantly longer than traditional cattle production, to produce extraordinary marbling. In the hierarchy of beef, Wagyu’s superior marbling makes it exceptionally tender, savory, flavorful, juicy beef.
The Triple Crown Steak Challenge goes beyond taste assessments to measure precise, objective scientific valuations of meat quality. This helps consumers know exactly what they’re buying. “The most distinguished people in the meat industry judge this beef,” says Desiree (Desi) Cicale, a director with the American Wagyu Beef Association. “All these tests eliminate the guesswork of determining beef quality.”
Feddersen USA Wagyu took top honors in the “Warner Bratzler Shear Force for Tenderness—Fullblood” category (which measures meat tenderness) and the “Fatty Acid Profile for Health Benefits--Fullblood” category, which analyzes the beef’s palatability and health benefits. Feddersen USA Wagyu also scored high in the “Total Lipid Panel Fullblood” category, which reveals how much marbling is in the meat.
“Exceptional marbling looks like a blizzard on an ultrasound,” Cicale said. “Fine grains of marbling elevate the taste sensation of the beef and lend a buttery flavor to the meat.”
Feddersen USA Wagyu also ranked high in the “Japanese Carcass Camera—Fullblood” category. The high-tech Japanese carcass camera test allows meat to be graded on the Japanese system, which involves quality grades above prime. “Wagyu takes beef to a whole new level,” said Feddersen’s wife, Shawna. “Wagyu is something every meat lover should experience at least once.”
Online shopping makes the farm-to-fork connection
The Feddersens ship their Wagyu beef to buyers across the United States. Nathanael Koch, a customer from the Denver, Colorado, area, says the beef is unlike anything available at the grocery store.
“It brings the steakhouse experience right to your home, so you can share it with your family and friends. I appreciate the fact that the Feddersens are entrepreneurs who sell directly to consumers. It’s rewarding to know this beef comes from a family who takes good care of their cattle, their farm and their community.”
Brad Feddersen encourages customers to visit his family’s feedlot in the hills of Woodbury County to learn more about where their food comes from.
“It’s an honor to share what all our hard work has created—the best-tasting, fullblood Wagyu in the country,” he said. “I hope Feddersen USA Wagyu will help bring people together and make great memories for a lifetime.”
To learn more about Feddersen USA Wagyu, visit https://ilovewagyu.com/.
This Week's Drought Summary
Heavy precipitation – from 2 to locally near 8 inches – pelted the Carolinas, southern Appalachians, mid-Atlantic region, Pacific Northwest from the Cascades westward, higher elevations of the northern Intermountain West and western Wyoming, northeastern Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Lesser amounts of 0.5 to locally over 2 inches dampened most of a large area from eastern sections of the central and northern Great Plains eastward through the middle and upper Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes Region, Appalachians, and Atlantic Coast States. Similar amounts fell on lower elevations of the northern Intermountain West and Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, light precipitation at best fell on the central and western Gulf Coast States, most of the Plains, and the Southwest. Meanwhile, temperatures were generally cool in the West and warm in the East. Temperatures average 12 to 15 degrees F above normal from the Carolinas through Alabama. above normal from the High Plains of subnormal temperatures. In contrast, it was 8 to 12 degrees F cooler than normal from Montana southward through Utah, Arizona, the Southwest and the Great Basin. This pattern brought areas of improvement to parts of the Northeast the western Ohio Valley, the northern half of the Mississippi Valley, and northern sections of the Rockies, Intermountain West, and Pacific Northwest. In stark contrast, conditions deteriorated through most of central and eastern Texas, parts of the central Great Plains, the southern High Plains, and the central tier of the Four Corners States. As the period ended, dryness had persisted or worsened throughout the large area of entrenched drought from the Rockies westward, and dry conditions were intensifying quickly across Texas and the central Plains.
Moderate precipitation – slightly above normal – fell on most of the Midwest, with heavier amounts of 1.5 to 3.0 inches falling on parts of southern Illinois and Missouri, and over the central Great Lakes. This had the effect of whittling down dryness and drought coverage compared to the previous week, especially across eastern Minnesota, central Iowa, southwestern Missouri, and a stripe across southern Illinois and central Indiana. The past 3 months brought 4 to7 inches less precipitation than normal from much of western Indiana, central Illinois, and the northern half of Illinois.
A few inches of precipitation fell on the highest elevations, particularly in western Wyoming. This induced some reductions in drought severity there, but broad areas of extreme to exceptional drought remained across the rest of Wyoming and Colorado, with the most severe classification D4 almost ubiquitous across western Colorado. Farther east, moderate to severe drought persisted across North Dakota, and generally moderate to severe drought stretched over much of Kansas and Nebraska. Conditions deteriorated across most of Kansas, but conditions were more stable farther north.
Through November 23, 2020, moderate to heavy precipitation should primarily fall on a swath from Kansas and Oklahoma through the lower Great Lakes Region, the Ohio Valley, and upstate New York. Over 1.5 inches are expected across parts of southern Illinois, central Missouri, and southeastern Kansas. Through the rest of the country, amounts over 1.5 inches should be restricted to the northern half of the immediate West Coast and the windward Cascades. Light to moderate precipitation – from a few tenths to about an inch – is forecast in the Sierra Nevada and the higher elevations across Idaho, western Montana, northwestern Wyoming, and central Colorado. Light to moderate precipitation could also fall on Florida’s immediate Atlantic Coast, and a few tenths of an inch should dampen the Northeast. Little or no precipitation is expected elsewhere, including most areas in the West experiencing extreme to exceptional drought. Specifically, a dry week is expected in the Southeast, the Gulf Coast, Texas, the northern Great Plains, the High Plains, lower elevations of the Four Corners States, the valleys of the Pacific Northwest, the Great Basin, and the Southwest. Meanwhile, unusually mild weather will prevail across most of the country. Most areas from the interior Atlantic Coast States through the Rockies should average at least 6 degrees F above normal, with means exceeding 12 degrees F above normal over a large area from the Plains through the Southwest. Only portions of the northern Intermountain West and West Coast can expect near to slightly below-normal temperatures.
The Climate Prediction Center’s 6-10 day outlook (November 24-28) favors subnormal precipitation to continue across most of the Plains, the upper Great Lakes Region, the Rockies, the Four Corners States, the Great Basin, and most of the Southwest. Subnormal precipitation is also favored in northwestern Alaska. Meanwhile, odds tilt toward surplus precipitation in southern Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, from the southeastern Great Plains and lower Great Lakes Region eastward to the Atlantic Coast. Meanwhile, a large part of the country has enhanced chances or warmer than normal weather, including central and western Alaska, the southern Rockies, the Plains, the Ohio Valley, the Southeast, and the mid-Atlantic region. Subnormal temperatures are not significantly favored anywhere in the continental 49 states.
Tyson Waterloo Managers Suspended - Lawsuit Claims Bosses Bet on Number of Virus Cases
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Tyson Foods suspended top officials at its largest pork plant on Thursday and launched an investigation into allegations that they bet on how many workers would get infected during a widespread coronavirus outbreak.
The company's president and CEO, Dean Banks, said he was "extremely upset" about the allegations against managers at its plant in Waterloo, Iowa, saying they do not represent the company's values. He said the company has retained the law firm Covington & Burling LLP to conduct an investigation, which will be led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
"If these claims are confirmed, we'll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behavior from our company," Banks said in a statement.
Banks said the accused have been suspended without pay but did not elaborate.
The Arkansas-based company has faced a backlash over recently amended wrongful death lawsuits in which plaintiffs' lawyers allege that Waterloo plant manager Tom Hart "organized a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager on how many employees would test positive for COVID-19."
Hart allegedly organized the pool last spring as the virus spread through the Waterloo plant, ultimately infecting more than 1,000 of its 2,800 workers, killing at least six and sending many others to the hospital. The outbreak eventually tore through the broader Waterloo community.
The lawyers represent the estates of Sedika Buljic, 58; Reberiano Garcia, 60; Jose Ayala Jr., 44; and Isidro Fernandez, age unknown. Buljic, Garcia and Fernandez died in April, and Ayala died May 25 after a six-week hospitalization.
The allegation, which was first reported Wednesday by the Iowa Capital Dispatch news site, generated anger toward Tyson on social media and in Waterloo.
Hart didn't respond to an email seeking comment.
Democratic State Rep. Ras Smith, whose district includes the plant, said Hart should be fired if the allegation is founded and that workplace safety officials should investigate.
"They were knowingly allowing this virus to spread rampantly in the plant and the community. The more we hear, the more we find out how insidious and intentional it was," Smith said.
At the time of the alleged betting, Tyson was resisting pressure from local officials to shut down the plant as a safety precaution. The company argued the plant, which can process nearly 20,000 hogs per day, was a vital market for farmers and critical to the meat supply.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who allowed Tyson to keep the plant open and praised its executives for taking voluntary safety measures, did not answer directly Thursday when asked whether her trust in the company was misplaced. Reynolds, who signed a law in June shielding companies from liability for some COVID-19 related injuries, instead praised her administration for inspecting the plant and helping organize mass testing of workers.
A sheriff helping lead Black Hawk County's pandemic response said that during an April tour of the plant, he was "shaken to the core" after seeing workers not social distancing or wearing adequate personal protective equipment.
Managers told workers they had a responsibility to stay on the job to ensure that Americans didn't go hungry, even while they started avoiding the plant floor themselves because they were afraid of contracting the virus, the lawsuits allege. They increasingly delegated responsibilities to low-level supervisors with no management training or experience.
One upper-level manager, John Casey, ordered a sick supervisor who was leaving to get tested to get back to work, and told others they and their subordinates had to keep working even if they had symptoms, the lawsuits allege. Casey allegedly told workers the virus was the "glorified flu" and "not a big deal" because everyone would get it.
On a tour of the plant with Hart, Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors on April 20 saw four workers within six feet of each other in one part of the plant, records show. Tyson said it was still in the process of installing barriers at the time.
The plant soon suspended operations to allow for the mass-testing of employees and it reopened about two weeks later with new safety protocols. Iowa OSHA said in June that it found no violations of its standards during the April 20 inspection.
Tyson has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuits, arguing that the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries under Iowa law is through the workers' compensation system. Its lawyers also argue that the plaintiffs have failed to show that the deceased workers contracted the virus at the plant and not elsewhere.
K-State, Minnesota researchers collaborate to study antimicrobial use in food animal industries
Kansas State University and University of Minnesota researchers are collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine and food animal industries to evaluate systems for collecting and evaluating antimicrobial use data in food animal production, including U.S. beef feedlot, dairy, swine, turkey and chicken production settings. The project is largely funded by the Center for Veterinary Medicine.
The researchers also are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health as they develop their data systems. Their results have just been published in a special issue of Zoonoses and Public Health, an international journal that publishes integrated and global approaches to disease transmission and public health at the interface of human and animal health.
Leading the collaborative research for beef feedlots and dairy is the K-State team, all connected to the university's College of Veterinary Medicine: Mike Apley, professor of production medicine; Brian Lubbers, associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology; and former graduate students Nora Schrag and Katie Hope, both now K-State doctoral graduates in pathobiology.
Collaborators at the University of Minnesota include Sandra Godden, dairy cattle; Randy Singer, chickens and turkeys; and Peter Davies, swine.
Preserving the ability to use effective antimicrobials in the therapy of disease for both humans and animals is the underlying goal for each of the projects. To better understand the future of antimicrobial use in animal agriculture, the researchers said it is important to fully understand current antimicrobial use. Food animal producers and veterinarians also benefit from knowing how their current antimicrobial use compares to their peers. These goals require systems that are capable of gathering data from varying record systems and standardizing and reporting the data in a meaningful way.
"One of the key components of antibiotic stewardship is understanding how we are using the antimicrobials in comparison to others," said Apley, the principal investigator for K-State's portion of the project. "In our papers, you will find an emphasis on the effect of how we choose to report and evaluate antimicrobial use data, as well as the unique aspects of each food animal production system and how they require different approaches to data collection and analysis."
The scope of the monitoring in each project varies, from approximately 90% of the chicken industry, represented in Singers' data, to convenience samples involving 22 beef feedlots and 29 dairies.
Apley said producers and veterinarians were key to success of the projects. Each producer received a confidential benchmark report comparing their antimicrobial use to the other participants. The reports and papers separate antibiotics by class and present them in relation to the animal populations from which the data were derived.
The beef feedlot and dairy papers are pilot projects that will help inform the structure of systems designed to describe antibiotic use in a manner that supports antibiotic stewardship.
"The projects would not have been possible without our collaborating beef feedlot and dairy producers," Apley said. "The ability of these producers to combine their own expertise with their veterinarian's in applying the data to their specific circumstances is a focus of our work. Their feedback on what is useful will shape our future efforts."
Apley is a current member of the Presidential Advisory Council for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, a council that Singer and Davis have previously served on. Collecting antimicrobial use data is one of the areas of focus in the most recent council report, which may be accessed at hhs.gov/ash/advisory-committees/paccarb/index.html.
Kansas State University and University of Minnesota researchers collaborate with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine and food animal industries to evaluate systems for collecting and evaluating antimicrobial use data in food animal production.
Record High Red Meat Production in October
Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 5.09 billion pounds in October, up slightly from the 5.07 billion pounds produced in October 2019.
Beef production, at 2.47 billion pounds, was 1 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.95 million head, down 1 percent from October 2019. The average live weight was up 25 pounds from the previous year, at 1,385 pounds.
Veal production totaled 5.3 million pounds, 24 percent below October a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 37,100 head, down 33 percent from October 2019. The average live weight was up 28 pounds from last year, at 250 pounds.
Pork production totaled 2.60 billion pounds, down slightly from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 12.0 million head, down 2 percent from October 2019. The average live weight was up 6 pounds from the previous year, at 291 pounds.
Lamb and mutton production, at 10.6 million pounds, was down 17 percent from October 2019. Sheep slaughter totaled 182,300 head, 11 percent below last year. The average live weight was 116 pounds, down 8 pounds from October a year ago.
By State (mill. lbs - % Oct '19)
Nebraska ...........: 737.9 94
Iowa ..................: 819.3 100
Kansas ...............: 554.5 131
January to October 2020 commercial red meat production was 46.1 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2019. Accumulated beef production was down slightly from last year, veal was down 13 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 8 percent.
Amino Acid Helps Shore Up Defenses of Swine
A third round of feeding trials conducted by a team of USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and university scientists has again shown that a dietary supplement called L-glutamine can naturally promote growth and wellness in pigs.
Jay S. Johnson, an animal scientist with ARS's Livestock Behavior Research Unit in West Lafayette, Indiana, and his Purdue University collaborators are investigating L-glutamine as a natural alternative to using dietary antibiotics. Swine producers had used antibiotics to help piglets cope with stressful events like being weaned from their mothers and then transported, which can lower young animals' immune function, feed intake and growth.
However, a 2017 Veterinary Feed Directive restricted the practice amid concerns it contributed to antimicrobial resistance to medically important antibiotics used to treat human infection. The team's investigation of L-glutamine, a naturally occurring amino acid found in the body and in food, is part of a broader research effort to identify suitable replacements that are just as effective, safe and economical to use.
The latest study is an expansion of trials conducted in 2017 and 2018. As before, groups of piglets were weaned and then transported for 12 hours, simulating what they might experience in a commercial operation. After transport, the piglets were housed in a nursery barn. This time, the researchers supplemented the young animals' diets for 14 days with L-glutamine at one of five feed concentrations: 0.20, 0.40, 0.60, 0.80 or 1.00 percent. Another group of piglets also received feed with antibiotics (chlortetracycline and tiamulin) but no supplemental L-glutamine, and a final group received a non-supplemented diet.
Highlighted results of a paper published in Translational Animal Science are below:
As with prior trials, L-glutamine-treated pigs performed similarly to those in the antibiotics group, and both of these groups fared better than piglets given non-supplemented feed.
The study results indicate that the increased weight gain and other benefits of treating piglets with L-glutamine above the original .20 percent test can be as profitable as using dietary antibiotics.
0.40 percent L-glutamine was the optimal supplementation level for improving pig welfare and performance immediately after weaning and transport, while 0.80 percent appeared to offer the most long-term economic benefit.
Growth Energy Outlines 2021 Biofuel Policy Priorities
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor today outlined the biofuels industry’s top federal priorities for 2021, highlighting key measures that elected leaders must take to protect the climate, revitalize rural communities, and offer more consumers clean, affordable options to fuel their cars.
“Biofuels, including plant-based ethanol, are critical tools for decarbonizing America’s existing transportation fleet and supporting our nation’s farmers and rural communities. Solvable challenges in this area await leaders in Congress and the next administration,” said Skor.
"As a climate solution," Skor added, "biofuels will be key to meeting the nation’s goals for the transportation sector, America’s largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions."
“To maximize the value of America’s low-carbon biofuels, it’s vital that officials address outstanding issues that are hindering our industry’s ability to access markets, promote innovation, and create rural jobs,” she said.
Specifically, Skor highlighted the association’s key priorities and opportunities where elected leaders can help reverse setbacks experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, promote better fuel choices, and protect the environment. These include:
Restoring integrity to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS)
Reject outstanding small refinery exemptions (SREs) and apply the 10th Circuit court ruling nationwide moving forward
Finalize strong Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for 2021 and restore the 500 million gallons remanded by the courts in 2017
Set forward-leaning biofuel targets for 2023 and beyond
Approve applications for the production of advanced, corn kernel fiber ethanol
Eliminating barriers to higher blends to accelerate market access
Clarify rules around the use of existing fuel storage and dispensing equipment for E15
Remove outdated labeling at the fuel pump
Expand infrastructure for higher biofuel blends, including USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP)
Expanding the role of biofuels in a clean energy future at home and abroad
Promote innovation in biotechnology and sustainable agriculture
Update and modernize federal GHG emissions modeling on biofuels based on the most up- to date science
Utilize opportunities to decarbonize our nation’s transportation sector through the use of high octane, low-low carbon fuels
Break down trade barriers to low-carbon ethanol in markets like Brazil, Mexico and China
Leverage benefits of biofuels in the Paris Climate Accord
“Addressing these issues, in addition to continued support to stabilize the industry from the impacts of COVID-19, can bring significant economic benefits for rural communities across the country and bolster the incoming administration’s plans to Build Back Better. We look forward to working with leaders in Congress and the next administration to advance these important initiatives in renewable energy,” said Skor.
Farm Action Applauds New “Justice for Black Farmers Act”
Today, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-NH), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are filing “The Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020.” This bill takes up issues at the heart of the historic racial discrimination in U.S. agriculture by:
- Establishing an Independent Civil Rights Oversight Board to review civil rights complaint appeals and investigate discrimination reports with USDA. The Board would also provide oversight of Farm Service Agency County Committees
- Creating an Equity Commission to develop recommendations to end disparities in treatment of Black farmers
- Forming a Black Farmer Land Grant through a new line agency at USDA where land of up to 160 acres would be available to Black individuals at no cost
- Increasing credit access and land retention for marginalized farmers
- Funding historically Black colleges and universities at a level of $500 million per year for 10 years to expand agricultural education
- Strengthening existing antitrust enforcement through the Packers and Stockyards Act, with the knowledge that food chain workers of color are additionally vulnerable to economic and labor exploitation
Family Farm Action Alliance released the following statement:
“We applaud the introduction of The Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020 by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-NH) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). We stand in solidarity with Black farmers -- those who currently farm, those who will have their land restored to them, and those who will have the opportunity to farm if this bill is to pass. The Justice for Black Farmers Act is a step to right the land and generational wealth loss that Black people in the United States have experienced and continue to experience. The legislation will redistribute power and provide land and resources so that all farmers may have the opportunity to prosper, steward the land, and feed their communities.”
Discrimination against Black farmers is sewn into the fabric of U.S. agriculture and over time it has gotten worse. In 1910, Black farmers owned 16 to 19 million acres of land and made up 14% of America’s farmers, while in 2017 Black farmers operated on 4.7 million acres of farmland and accounted for 1.4% of farmers in the U.S. Between 2012 and 2017 alone, the number of Black farmers has dropped 3%. Much of this land loss can be attributed to discriminatory lending, particularly by the hands of USDA.
Black land and farm loss is a symptom of disproportionate harm from corporate consolidation and industrialization of agriculture, when compared to harms experienced by white farmers. The Justice For Black Farmers Act recognizes this, providing a well-rounded approach and building the solid foundation needed to address the ongoing legacy of systemic racism and injustice that Black farmers have experienced in The United States.
Family Farm Action Alliance Releases Pivotal Agricultural Consolidation Report in Partnership with Open Markets Institute
Today, Family Farm Action Alliance, in partnership with Open Markets Institute, released a groundbreaking report titled, “The Food System: Concentration and Its Impacts,” at a virtual event featuring Sen. Cory Booker. The report was authored by Dr. Mary Hendrickson, Dr. Phil Howard, Emily Miller, and Dr. Douglas Constance.
Sen. Booker offered remarks about the report, stating, “Consolidation in our food system is a grave threat to our family farmers and rural communities, and this important new report from Dr. Hendrickson reinforces the urgent need for Congress to take action to address corporate concentration and create a food system that is rooted in fairness and opportunity for all.”
The event featured a conversation with Dr. Hendrickson, rural sociologist and leading food system scholar, who discussed the implications of a concentrated agrifood system. Dr. Hendrickson stated, “Even with my years of examining consolidation in the food system, I am profoundly distressed by its ecological waste, the erosion of communities, and its callous treatment of human beings. Consciously or unconsciously, we have created this system and we can change it.”
The report provides the latest updated data on agricultural market shares in the U.S. as part of a holistic and comprehensive analysis of the shortcomings of our overly concentrated food supply chain. It also includes bold proposals for decentralizing our agri-food system to move power out of the control of just a few. Highlights include:
- An updated analysis of the current state of concentration where in the U.S., the top 4 companies control 80% of soybean processing, 73% of beef processing, and 67% of pork processing; and globally, the top 4 control 65% of agrochemicals, 58% of animal pharmaceuticals, and 50% of seeds.
- The cost to the U.S. of an industrial feed-meat complex that reinforces extensive monocropping, chemical inputs, dangerous farmworker conditions, and environmental degradation for the sake of corporate profit is over $44 billion per year in soil erosion, and at least $100 million in lost farm income.
- A call for policies that democratize the agrifood system through antitrust enforcement, prioritizing racial equity, transforming and redirecting production subsidies, and empowering alternative and localized food systems and economies.
The report is founded on the premise that monopolistic control is no longer about accumulating capital or profits, but rather amassing and protecting power. These few points, among others in the report, demonstrate that concentration is a tool for corporations to maintain power and control - not to feed people.
New Poll Reveals Chicken Consumers Would Switch Brands and Pay More for Meat to Avoid Current Standard Industry Practice of Live-Shackle Slaughter, Reports The Humane League
The Humane League announces new findings by Rethink Priorities revealing that large majorities of U.S. customers would be willing to switch brands and pay more for chicken to avoid the cruel and unfortunately common industry practice of live-shackle slaughter. This new data includes meat eaters, with 93% of respondents sharing that they consumed chicken within the past month.
Conducted by Rethink Priorities, the poll surveyed 2,000 individuals living in the U.S. Results found that a clear majority (81%) of American consumers would prefer to purchase chicken from a brand that did not perform the industry standard method of killing chickens for meat, known as live-shackle slaughter. The sample was weighted based on the U.S. Census to be representative of Americans by age, gender, education, race, political ideology, income, and urban/rural residence.
"This newfound data should come as a wake-up call for grocery stores, restaurants, and meat suppliers. As consumers learn more about what goes on behind the walls of factory farms, even avid meat eaters feel that animals deserve better than the daily torture inflicted on them," said David Coman-Hidy, President of The Humane League. "It's unsurprising that people are horrified by what goes on in slaughterhouses. Brands would be wise to move away from the cruel standard practice of live-shackle slaughter before their customers move away from them."
In meat processing facilities across the country, live chickens are slammed into metal shackles—a method that often breaks their legs and makes it difficult for them to breathe. The chickens are then dragged through an electrified waterbath to be stunned, before their throats are cut by an automatic blade, and they're submerged into a scalding water tank meant to remove feathers. Unfortunately, this process is often unreliable. According to the USDA, half a million chickens drowned in scalding tanks in 2019, equating to 1,400 birds boiled alive every day.
The shackling of live chickens has been shown to reduce the quality of meat, due to the violent struggle the birds endure. The practice creates dangerous hazards for slaughterhouse workers, who often end up covered in scratches, feces, blood, and pathogens. Meat industry giants like Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride, and Sanderson Farms could end this abuse with one decision—by ending the cruel, unhealthy practice of live-shackle slaughter.
This data comes as The Humane League works to urge the world's largest food companies to adopt the Better Chicken Commitment, a set of welfare standards that includes ending the practice of live-shackle slaughter. More than 185 major US food companies, including Chipotle and Campbell's, have already pledged to implement the changes in the Better Chicken Commitment—meaningfully reducing the suffering of chickens within their supply chains.
These findings will help inform the fate of the chicken industry, at a pivotal time when customers are growing increasingly concerned about where their food comes from.
As we approach the holidays, consumers should be aware that turkeys are also slaughtered using live-shackle slaughter.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Thursday November 19 Ag News
Rural Mainstreet Index Retreats for First Time Since April
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