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April 30, 2020
A five-minute summary of AAI, regulation, and industry activities for members of the largest state agribusiness association in the nation.
  • Lawmakers ask for antitrust investigations after major packing plants shut down

  • New program gets pork to food banks and a Presidential executive order for packing plants

  • Farmers get busy with nearly a third of the corn crop planted last week

  • More loan dollars for ag businesses trying to pay their employees

  • Senator urges quick movement on relief efforts to help Iowa ag

Watch episodes from the past week anytime online!

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NEWS
Monday's proclamation by Governor Reynolds extends the Public Health Emergency until May 27, 2020. All current relief measures will remain in force until that date. This includes agricultural truck weight limits and penalties for late payment of property tax.

The full proclamation is online in its entirety:  Part 1 Part 2   ,and  Part 3.

Press release summarizing the proclamation can be found  here .

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced several initiatives underway to assist Iowa pork producers impacted by meat processing plant closures related to COVID-19.

“The disruptions at the meat processing facilities have a ripple effect on the entire livestock industry and food supply chain,” said Secretary Naig. “We are working to get Iowa livestock producers the technical and financial resources they need as they look at all options to market and care for their animals.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has launched a Resources Coordination Center (RCC) to provide technical resources to pork producers impacted by meat processing plants that are running at limited capacity or have shut down.

The RCC brings public and private resources together to explore every option to help producers harvest livestock and meet the protein needs of Iowans. However, livestock farmers may need to explore euthanasia as a last resort to prevent animal welfare issues. Through the RCC, the Department is working with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to provide technical assistance to impacted pork producers. Additional details will be released in the coming days.

In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley along with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig are asking for additional support from the administration for the state’s pork producers.

The Iowa leaders write in part: “While the announcement by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that they are standing up an incident command is helpful and the Interim Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides useful steps for protecting workers, we urgently request the additional following resources and authorities, including invoking the Defense Production Act, that will be required to keep Iowa pork production viable.

The ongoing pandemic has dealt another blow to the struggling ethanol industry. ADM, one of the country’s major grain companies and a big ethanol producer, will idle dry mills in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Columbus, Nebraska.

The company informed the 180 people who work at the two locations Thursday that they will be furloughed.

“During the furlough, employees will continue to receive medical benefits and will be eligible to apply for state and federal unemployment benefits,” the company said in a statement posted on its website. “They will also have the option to apply for other open positions at ADM.”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced a new “Pass the Pork” program to connect Iowa pig farmers with food insecure Iowans. The program is an initiative of Gov. Reynolds’ Feeding Iowans Task Force led by Lt. Gov. Gregg.

Through “Pass the Pork,” Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship are helping Iowa pig farmers donate pigs to Iowa food bank feeding programs. Local meat processors are extending their hours of operation to process and package the pork donations to help meet the growing demand for food bank and food pantry resources. Iowa food banks are getting the pork into the hands of those in need.

“From family farms to the family’s dinner table, our entire food supply chain has been impacted by COVID-19,” said Gov. Reynolds. “‘Pass the Pork’ is an innovative partnership to put Iowa pork on the tables of families in need of food security while creating a new destination for pork which might otherwise go to waste. I’m grateful to Iowa’s pork producers, processors and others for stepping up to make this possible.”

Soybeans are Iowa’s top agricultural export – spanning 9.9 million acres of farmland. That’s a lot of beans. But have you ever wondered how those soybeans go from fields to your kitchen table?

That’s what David Geiger (‘13 journalism) wanted to find out. His curiosity for the global food system turned into a three-and-a-half-year project – a documentary called “Journey of a Bean.” As an agribusiness reporter, Geiger spends a lot of time with farmers across the region.

“I got the idea while talking to someone who worked in the grain transport system,” Geiger says. “He mentioned that he could track the amount of crop being transported from field to factory. Once I heard that, I knew it was a story I wanted to tell.”

The 41-minute documentary follows the story of one soybean planted in Illinois. Geiger then tracks the soybean to its final destination, South Korea.

Without a doubt, the biggest story of 2020 is the coronavirus pandemic. For the overall economy across much of the globe, the spread of this highly contagious virus to three million people has disrupted daily life, shut down multiple businesses, and made “social distancing” the new catchphrase for society.

But for ag retailers and their grower-customers, the COVID-19 outbreak hasn’t really interrupted business. In fact, most ag retailers I’ve spoken with over the past month have essentially echoed the comments from John Oster of The Morral Companies, Morral, OH (which I wrote about in March): “Vendor supply, so far, is not an issue,” said Oster. “[We had a] minor hiccup on truck arrangement, but for now, we have no major issues.”

One month later, other ag retailers located in states such as Illinois, Iowa, and California also say this is the case. “Despite the COVID imposed conditions, we are having a very good spring,” said these individuals.

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