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March 26, 2020
A five-minute summary of AAI, regulation, and industry activities for members of the largest state agribusiness association in the nation.
  • There will be no push back against a refiner ruling and more results from a China trade deal
  • IDALS wants auction barns to take precautions in the pandemic and agriculture statistics are still set to come out this week
  • Iowa ag businesses are donating to help make more hand sanitizer
  • A coronavirus relief bill has dollars for nutrition and agriculture sectors are defined as critical infrastructure


Watch episodes from the past week anytime online!

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NEWS
Iowa's farmers have reduced phosphorus loss by 22% over the past couple of decades. Now they're using the same approach (involving innovation and collaboration) to tackle the state's nitrate goals.

This little tree is decades old. Goes to show some of our best works take time. Gardeners know that and farmers do too. Iowa State University research shows that farmers have met their phosphorus reduction goals to improve water quality, but it didn't happen overnight.

Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture: We're down 20% on phosphorus over the last couple of decades. That's because we have brought focus, we have brought resources, we have done outreach...the approach works. But it will take time.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Centers are encouraging visitors to take proactive protective measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

As part of our commitment to farmers and ranchers, USDA Service Centers will continue to be open for business by phone appointment only and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While our FSA and NRCS program delivery staff at the Service Centers will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our producers by phone, and using online tools whenever possible.

Producers can find their Service Center’s phone number at farmers.gov and more information about Coronavirus and USDA Service Centers at www.farmers.gov/coronavirus.  
A vote on the nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus package is expected today in the Senate.

The package would provide $14 billion to the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation and $9.5 billion for livestock, specialty crops, and local food systems.

Ethan Lane, vice president of government affairs, with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says NCBA is pleased that the package includes assistance for cattle producers, but challenges are ahead.  

“That’s a pretty big group of stakeholders to have to share that same pot of money given the scope of this issue,” he says. “We’re grateful that they included something for us, but we’re now going to have a job ahead of us to ensure that our producers that are continuing to endure quite a bit of financial hardships are able to stay in business and keep that supply chain of beef moving to the grocery store because we are part of that critical infrastructure the president has talked about and keeping those store shelves full for consumers is our number one priority right now.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s decision to allow the 10th Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling, which limited the use of small refinery waivers, to stand.

“We appreciate President Trump’s administration for upholding the unanimous 10th Circuit Court's decision,” said Secretary Naig. “Unfortunately, our biofuels producers are still struggling through the economic downturn, trade uncertainty and plummeting fuel demand. Many plants are reported to be ceasing production or closing. But, today, this is welcome news in a very uncertain time. President Trump’s actions signal that he has no intention of leaving rural America behind.”

The renewable fuels industry accounts for more than $5.3 billion — or about 3 percent — of Iowa’s GDP, $2.5 billion in household incomes and more than 48,000 jobs. 

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), along with 23 state and regional feed and grain associations, called on state officials around the country today to maintain access to businesses providing animal food amid proposed state plans to close “non-essential businesses” to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The plea comes after some states released response plans that excluded animal food manufacturing facilities, transportation and agricultural and non-agricultural retail establishments from their lists of “essential businesses.” In an urgent letter, the groups stated that these businesses should be reclassified because not doing so would hinder the animal food industry’s ability to continue feeding America’s livestock, poultry and pets, threaten the U.S. food supply and drive up prices for farmers, ranchers, pet owners and consumers.

The Senate advanced by a vote of 96-0 its Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in a vote late Wednesday night in the third tranche of assistance offered by Congress as it attempts to respond to the economic fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19). For farmers, the final $2 trillion package includes some specific requests, such as additional lending authority to for the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) and livestock and disaster assistance.

The COVID-19 impact on agriculture includes a rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closure of ethanol plants, the dramatic decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand and the reduction in direct-to-consumer sales.

Ahead of the final deal, 48 agriculture groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, joined together in calling on Congress to expand the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s borrowing authority under the CCC. The agreement includes a $14 billion increase in USDA’s borrowing authority under the CCC, consistent with a long history of the CCC being tapped to responsibly support agriculture in times of crisis, and $9.5 billion to assist specialty crop producers, direct retail farmers and livestock operators.

On March 26, the Natural Resources Conservation Service produced a report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

Widespread minor flooding this spring is expected in the Midwest, resulting from months of ongoing rainfall with saturated soils. From the NOAA press release: “The greatest risk for major and moderate flood conditions includes the upper and middle Mississippi River basins, the Missouri River basin and the Red River of the North. Moderate flooding is anticipated in the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Missouri River basins, as well as the lower Mississippi River basin and its tributaries.” Forecasts for a wet spring in some areas will contribute to any flooding conditions.

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