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May 14, 2020
A five-minute summary of AAI, regulation, and industry activities for members of the largest state agribusiness association in the nation.
  • A livestock auction is back at it and the WASDE report is out

  • Farmers are nearly done planting in Iowa

  • Meat packers open up while ag faces heavy financial losses

  • China and US claim progress on Phase One agreement and FSA Has Farm Loans for Iowans

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COVID-19 has impacted us all in so many ways — and now it’s disrupting our food supply chain too. But we, in agriculture, are no strangers to adversity and you are not alone. My team at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is fighting for you. We are advocating on your behalf at every level of the local, state and federal government.

Our top priority continues to be keeping meat processing facilities up and running to secure our food supply. Under Gov. Reynolds’s leadership, Iowa has been leading the way on testing at meat processing facilities. This helps protect the health of workers, and provides the confidence and information workers and facilities need to stay operational.

Mayors from across the Midwest have written the EPA urging the agency to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Brett Barker, mayor of Nevada in central Iowa, tells Brownfield the coronavirus pandemic is just the latest in a series of hits to agriculture.

“Not only does COVID-19 have a huge impact because of decreased demand and things like that, but it’s also been an opportunity that other industries that compete (with biofuels) have tried to take advantage and gut the Renewable Fuel Standard even further.”

Barker is one of 70 mayors asking the EPA to reject unjustifiable RFS waiver requests. He says biofuels play a large role in the economy of his and many other communities.

“The farmers sell to the biofuels industry, but then they use that money to invest in our communities. Whether it’s buying equipment, vehicles, cars, goods and services in their daily lives. So it definitely has a ripple effect.”

More attention is being paid to direct-marketing beef, pork and poultry to consumers since COVID-19 began challenging the major meatpacking plants, infecting workers, and reducing processing capacity.

Right now, though, just a small number of state-inspected meatpacking plants are set up to sell meat or poultry products across state lines. Only six states have gotten approval from USDA since 2011 to make that happen.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) along with his colleagues Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) today introduced legislation to foster efficient markets while increasing competition and transparency among meat packers who purchase livestock directly from independent producers. This bill will require that a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer’s weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or spot market.

“The lack of transparency in cattle pricing isn’t a new problem, but the negative effects of the fire in Holcomb, Kansas, and COVID-19 have highlighted the need for additional price transparency measures to ensure producers are getting a fair price for the hard work of raising cattle. Food doesn’t come from the grocery store; it comes from tens of thousands of farmers and independent producers who work day and night to ensure families across the country have an abundant supply of food. Independent producers deserve to be paid what their beef is worth,” Grassley said.


Cedar Rapids - KCRG
Des Moines - WHO-TV
Ottumwa - KYOU-TV

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