Farm News- 4/14/20

U.S. Agriculture Reducing Per-unit GHG Emissions

A new analysis shows U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to reduce per-unit greenhouse gas emissions. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture shows the agricultural sector accounts for less than ten percent of total U.S. emissions. The EPA’s U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions provides a first look at 2018 U.S. emissions data, incorporated into a new Market Intel report from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The report finds that per-unit methane emissions from livestock have declined since 1990 as livestock producers have increased productivity. During the past 30 years, U.S. milk production has increased 71 percent, while per-unit emissions of milk have declined by almost 25 percent. Beef production has increased almost 50 percent, while per-unit emissions have fallen nearly eight percent. Meanwhile, American farmers are producing more crops on fewer acres. The analysis builds on data shared during the launch of Farmers for a Sustainable Future, a coalition of agriculture groups aimed at educating lawmakers and finding solutions to challenges posed by climate change.

Rebalancing Production Can Speed Dairy Market Recovery

A dairy industry economist says rebalancing production can speed up market recovery. National Milk Producers Federation chief economist Peter Vitaliano says government support for dairy producers to reduce production in the coming months can speed dairy’s recovery from coronavirus-driven price declines. He says a unified, collective government action, “would probably be the best and most effective and speediest way of rebalancing supply and demand.” The comments were included in an NMPF podcast released Tuesday. Production balancing is part of the NMPF and International Dairy Foods Association plan for dairy assistance presented to the Department of Agriculture last week. Current dairy supply exceeds demand by at least ten percent, and could worsen as supply increases to seasonal” peaks and consumers remain under “shelter in place” orders. NMPF, along with IDFA, urge USDA to “use as many tools as possible, as quickly as possible,” to bridge the supply/demand gap, as part of their recommendations to USDA.

Peterson: USDA Should Increase Commodity Purchases to Help Farmers, Food Banks

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson urges the Trump administration to maximize the purchase of agricultural commodities for donation and distribution. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Tuesday morning, Peterson says that purchases by USDA can “help ensure the production that no longer has a foodservice market can be made available to help our nation’s foodbanks.” In the letter, Peterson urged the Administration to use the $9.5 billion in funding through the CARES Act,  the authorities of the Commodity Credit Corporation, and Section 32. Peterson says the agriculture economy was already in a fragile state from several years of adverse weather conditions and a challenging trade situation. Peterson says farmers are frustrated with the inability to get their products to market, and to consumers who need food assistance. Despite being an essential service, ag producers and their supply chain partners “are facing the total loss of some market segments and the inability to quickly change their marketing and processing capabilities to meet the new realities.”

Senators Urge USDA To Support Local Food, Dairy, Specialty Crops

A bipartisan group of Senators seeks federal relief for local farmers struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, the group sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture this week. The senators urged USDA to ensure a portion of the $9.5 billion secured in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, goes to local farmers who sell directly to consumers, schools, institutions, food hubs, regional distribution centers, retail markets, farmers markets and restaurants. In addition to urging USDA to ensure relief is getting to local farmers, the senators also pressed the department to administer direct payments through the Farm Service Agency in response to the local food industry’s projected $1.1 billion loss in revenue. They asked that in order to be eligible to receive a direct payment, local food producers should derive at least 25 percent of total farm income from sales that are locally purchased, including food sold directly to consumers.

Livestock Marketing Association Encourages Investigation of Beef Packers

The Livestock Marketing Association welcomes the expansion of an investigation into the beef markets. The association this week called for the investigation of beef packers to be comprehensive and expeditious. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the association says the investigation should “consider all potential anticompetitive” issues. The association has supported USDA’s investigation into beef pricing margins, which was opened in August 2019 following a beef processing plant fire. The cattle market in the wake of COVID-19 has responded similarly to how it did after the Holcomb plant fire. Once federal, state, and local authorities began instituting recommended and mandatory economic shutdowns in early March 2020, the cattle industry experienced a sharp decline in fed cattle and feeder cattle prices. At the same time, boxed beef prices skyrocketed, and consumers emptied meat cases. The combination of these factors resulted in significant packer profit margins. All the while, livestock producers continue to receive a shrinking portion of the retail beef dollar paid by the American consumer.

Corteva Names Alonzo to External Affairs, Sustainability Post

Corteva Tuesday announced Anne L. Alonzo will join the company as Senior Vice President, External Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer, effective April 20, 2020.  A widely recognized global food and agriculture leader, Alonzo will have responsibility for setting strategy and leading the External Affairs function, which includes Corporate Communications, Global Corporate Responsibility, Government and Industry Affairs, and Product Advocacy. Most recently, Alonzo served as President and CEO of the American Egg Board, the U.S. egg industry’s marketing arm. Before joining the American Egg Board in 2016, Alonzo was appointed by the White House to serve as Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service. She previously served as Vice President, Global Public Policy, Corporate Affairs at Kraft Foods, leading all global corporate affairs work in the areas of sustainability, tariffs, tax, trade and health and wellness, as well as global issues management. Alonzo says she is “excited to join a team that is already demonstrating its commitment to building an agricultural ecosystem that supports people, progress and the planet.”


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