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May 7, 2020
A five-minute summary of AAI, regulation, and industry activities for members of the largest state agribusiness association in the nation.
  • Iowa cattle producers concerned coronavirus assistance may not be enough 

  • Lack of funding for depopulation scenarios and new trade negotiations begin 

  • Farmers planted a record amount of soybeans last week 

  • US Ag Secretary hopeful processing plants will open soon 

  • A major Iowa agriculture show is changing its name 

Watch episodes from the past week anytime online!

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NEWS
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is now calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support egg farmers affected by COVID-19.

In a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, Ernst urged the department to include egg producers in the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program and to consider buying liquid egg product to distribute to families in need.

In the letter, she wrote, "Our farmers and ranchers are doing their part to help the nation navigate the effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Iowa’s egg industry is no different. Iowa is home to over 55 million egg laying hens. Most of Iowa’s egg production goes toward supporting our nation’s commercial food service. With restaurants and other commercial facilities closed down or limiting operations, our egg industry has seen a drastic drop in demand and as a result some have had to dump product.”


The Trump administration is expressing confidence that the worst of the meatpacking disruptions is behind us. At a meeting in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue predicted packing plants would be fully operational within 10 days. “I think we've turned the corner,” he said.

The meeting, which included Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Vice President Mike Pence, came one day after Perdue directed meatpackers that have slowed or closed plants to document that they are in compliance with worker safety guidelines issues by OSHA and CDC. He said plants should get back in operation as “soon as they are able” but didn’t threaten enforcement action. 

On Friday, Pence will head to Iowa, where he’ll hold a roundtable with ag and food supply leaders at the headquarters of Hy-Vee, a Midwest supermarket chain, one of many grocers that are limiting consumer meat purchases.


Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined other state attorneys general in calling Tuesday for a federal investigation into suspected price fixing among beef processors.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Miller and the top prosecutors from nine other states asked the U.S. Department of Justice to look into whether the country’s biggest beef processors are colluding against cattle ranchers and consumers. The attorneys general said the price of boxed beef remains “healthy” even as cattle futures have dropped.

Cargill, JBS USA, National Beef and Tyson Foods account for about 80% of beef processing in the United States.

“Given the concentrated market structure of the beef industry it may be particularly susceptible to market manipulation, particularly during times of food insecurity, such as the current COVID-19 crisis,” the attorneys general wrote.


Agriculture and manufacturing are at the heart of Iowa’s economy, accounting for 38% of the state’s gross domestic product, according to a new economic analysis from Iowa State University.

The report goes beyond traditional jobs and income data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and measures all labor and supplies required to provide a commodity or service for export. Dave Swenson, associate scientist of economics, says the model provides a more complete picture of an industry’s economic impact.

“It allows important sectors like agriculture and manufacturing to declare the fraction of the total economy that they support,” Swenson said. “Another advantage is that it helps sort out industries that primarily produce items sold to out-of-state buyers and sectors that primarily support other in-state industries or households.”


Farmers who are planting cover crops for the first time are eligible for $25 per acre through the cost share fund. Farmers who have already experienced the benefits of using cover crops and are continuing the practice can receive $15 per acre. Growers using no-till or strip-till for the first time to reduce soil erosion and input costs are eligible for $10 per acre. Farmers who use a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor to apply fall fertilizer are eligible for $3 per acre through the cost share fund.

Cost share funding through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is limited to 160 acres per farmer or landowner. The funds will be made available in July, but farmers can start submitting applications immediately through their local Soil and Water Conservation District offices.


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