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Farm News- 6/17/2020

USDA: Commodity Purchases Reach $2.2 Billion Through Aid Program

The Department of Agriculture announced the purchases of more than $2.2 billion of food items for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. The purchases are part of the ongoing efforts to feed people in need and assist American farmers and ranchers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. USDA is on target to reach its fiscal year goal of about $1.4 billion of trade mitigation purchases in the next phase of fiscal year purchasing, which ends September 30. The purchases were made through the Food Purchase and Distribution Program, one of USDA’s three programs in its Support Packages for Farmers. Most of the food purchased is provided to states for distribution to nutrition assistance programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs. The purchases include meat, fruits, vegetables, specialty crops and dairy products. The Food Purchase and Distribution Program was established in fiscal year 2019 to assist U.S. producers by purchasing commodities that have been unfairly targeted by trade partners.

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USDA Updates CFAP Numbers

The Department of Agriculture has processed more than 220,000 Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments to farmers and ranchers. In a weekly update, USDA data shows the department has issued $2.8 billion to farmers so far, with Iowa producers receiving the most, at $144 million for row crops, and $150 million for livestock. Iowa also accounts for the highest number of non-specialty crop applications, at more than 20,000. USDA says some 112,000 non-specialty crop producers nationally have received more than $758 million, while roughly 1,500 specialty crop growers have received $53 million. Payments to livestock producers total $1.4 billion, while payments to the dairy sector total $667 million. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program provides financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities with financial support that gives them the ability to absorb sales losses and increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA will continue to accept applications for the program through August 28, 2020. Resources for farmers regarding the payments are available at www.farmers.gov/cfap.

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Exports to China Not Meeting Expectations

Exports to China are lagging, according to Agricultural Economic Insights. Agricultural Economist David Widmar says before the trade war, soybean exports accounted for 51 percent of all U.S. ag exports to China. He writes, “Based on the first four months of 2020, trade with China has been disappointing.” After $778 million in sales in January, soybeans have mostly stalled as total 2020 sales reached $1.2 billion through April. Those figures come as the U.S. and China signed a Phase One trade agreement that included aggressive purchases of U.S. commodities by China. Through April, purchases of total U.S. ag products approached $4.6 billion, in line with 2019’s $4.3 billion figure. Yet, pre-trade war levels over the same time period in 2017 totaled $7.1 billion. China’s purchases are seasonal, with a flurry of activity early this year, and typically large purchases in the fall. Widmar says that before the trade war, China purchased 57 percent of total annual soybeans between October and December.

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Survey Reveals Increased Snacking Habits in the ‘New Normal’

Staying home means snacking more for Americans. Amid orders to shelter-in-place, many Americans have turned to snacking for comfort. A new survey, conducted in May in partnership with California Walnuts and Kelton Global, explores the snacking behaviors of Americans and how they’ve changed since shelter-in-place mandates were implemented. About one in two Americans, 48 percent, confess they are snacking more than before the pandemic began. Two in five, 40 percent, of those expect to see this behavior continue after the shelter-in-place mandates are lifted. While Americans are mostly torn when it comes to the perfect flavor profile of their snacks, the preference for sweet snacks at 57 percent, currently edges out salty at 43 percent. Comfort is the first priority, with 75 percent of respondents noting that they are not trying to eat healthier snacks than they usually do, and only 20 percent remarking that they wish there were more nutritious snacking options available.

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FBN opens Access to Chemical Prices

Farmers Business Network this week announced prices for all products from the online FBN Direct store will be publicly available. The pricing information is open for all farmers to see, regardless of membership in FBN, with no FBN account required. FBN says the online store has helped many farms save tens of thousands of dollars annually, with some individual farms reporting savings as high as $120,000 per year. In addition, this move comes just in time for the launch of FBN’s first-ever Cyber Summer Sale, offering up to 27 percent discounts on more than half of the ag chemical products available for sale in the FBN Direct online store now, through July 31, 2020. FBN has also announced that it will offer free shipping on chemical orders over $5,000 through August 31, 2020. FBN’s Tom Staples says, “Throughout this crisis, just as before it, FBN has been taking real action to fight for farmers’ livelihoods.” FBN is the largest independent farmer-to-farmer network. Learn more at FBN.com.

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NCGA Launches Summer Virtual Fair Contest

The National Corn Growers Association is kicking-off summer with a new contest, focusing on the benefits of using corn in the feed ration. The Farm to Virtual Fair contest started Monday and runs through Monday, November 2, 2020. To enter the contest, you must follow NCGA (@corngrowers) on Instagram, tag NCGA in the post and use the hashtag #MyCornFedBarn. Participants can enter a photo or video, explaining why they use corn in their feed ration. The first-place winner will win $300, second place will receive $200, and third place will get $100. Winners will be announced by Monday, November 16, 2020. Nebraska farmer and NCGA Market Development Action Team Chair Dan Wesely says, “With so many unknowns this year, we wanted to give students participating in their local, county or state 4-H and FFA livestock shows something to look forward to.” Find more information about the contest on NCGA’s website, www.NCGA.com.

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