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| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 17, 2024 |


Stabenow Issues Statement on Farm Bill House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA) and Senate Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) issued a statement on farm bill development. “House and Senate Democrats remain committed to passing a strong, bipartisan farm bill that strengthens the farm and family safety nets and invests in our rural communities,” they said. “America’s farmers, families, workers, and rural communities deserve the certainty of a five-year farm bill, and everyone knows it must be bipartisan to pass.” The Democratic leaders also say House Republicans are undermining this goal by proposing policies that split the bipartisan coalition that has always been the foundation of a successful farm bill. “We need a farm bill that holds the coalition together and upholds the historic tradition of providing food assistance to our most vulnerable Americans while keeping our commitment to farmers every day,” they also say. “We are willing to work on a truly bipartisan farm bill.” *********************************************************************************** Railroad Staffing Shortages Compromise Safety and Service Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) called on the six Class One railroads to address severe staffing shortages that are endangering workers, increasing the risk of derailments, and raising costs for farmers, businesses and consumers. She wants the railroads to provide an update on their long-term staffing strategies to get back on track. “Farmer, manufacturers, paper mills, energy producers, and many other industries are dependent on efficient and cost-effective freight rail,” Baldwin says. “Recently, service levels from Class One railroads experienced severe disruptions and certain metrics, particularly staffing, have yet to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.” That means much of the industry is reversing any progress it’s made so far. Since implementing a strategy to reduce costs by using longer trains and fewer staff, Class One railroads have reduced overall staff numbers by 30 percent. That’s compared to a three percent decrease in carloads and a one percent drop in tons of freight. ********************************************************************************** USB Announces Soy Innovation Challenge Winner The United Soybean Board is pleased to announce Clean Label Solution as this year’s Soy Innovation Challenge Grand Prize Winner. Through a proprietary fermentation process, Clean Label Solution delivers high-value beef and dairy cattle feed from soybeans and soybean meal. U.S. soybean farmers produce a high-quality and eco-friendly feed ingredient for the livestock supply chain, making soybeans a preferred choice for animal agriculture. The protein in soybeans provides a valuable source of nutrients for cattle, but they can’t consume the soy oil component. In trials of Clean Label Solution’s Bi-Pass Pro+ feed product, cattle could digest 30 percent of the soy protein that otherwise passes through the animal without use. This boosts milk and meat production while curbing methane emissions. It also offers a more sustainable ingredient that replaces the need for palm oil in cow feed. The Soy Checkoff is proud to grant Clean Label Solution with a $75,000 prize. *********************************************************************************** Beef Organizations Concerned About Imports Leaders of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association along with their Canadian and Mexican counterparts signed a joint statement pledging to work together on a number of issues. The three organizations will continue advocating for greater oversight of emerging lab-grown proteins, protecting cattle from animal diseases, and promoting the sustainability of the cattle industry. “The signing of this joint statement is an important step that unites cattle producers across North America and around the world to promote and protect efficient cattle production,” says NCBA President Mark Eisele (EYES-lee). The three organizations also signed a letter to the U.S., Mexican, and Canadian governments asking them to re-engage in opening markets for beef exports and provide stronger science-based oversight of beef imports. Unfortunately, the three governments have expanded market access for beef imports while providing fewer opportunities for beef exports. Continuing this will only put North American cattle producers at a competitive disadvantage. *********************************************************************************** AEM Pleased With Turnout on the National Mall The Association of Equipment Manufacturers were pleased with this year’s Celebration of Modern Agriculture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The event facilitated an array of substantial policy discussions with the agency officials who directly impact regulations critical to the equipment industry. More than 15,000 people attended the three-day event, which featured combine harvesters, milking equipment, sprayers, planters, irrigation equipment, and tractors of all sizes. “We had equipment and experts on-site to discuss PFAS, emissions, and autonomy with the heads of divisions at EPA and the Labor Department who oversee those issues,” says AEM Senior Vice President Curt Blades. “We dove into many topics because engagement like that doesn’t happen every day.” Nick Tindall, AEM Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, says the interactions went further than political appointees. “Scores of career staff swarmed our exhibits,” Tindall says. “Those are the people who will impact regulations for decades to come.” *********************************************************************************** Farm Bill Lobbying Exceeds $500 Million A new report from The Hill says that pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and agriculture interests have combined to spend over $400 million lobbying Congress on a new farm bill. The Union for Concerned Scientists says that’s more than four times the amount of money spent by the public sector and civil society. The report also found that between 2019 and 2023, giant agribusinesses, food and agriculture industry associations, and other interest groups reported a combined $523 million in federal lobby expenditures on disclosure reports that listed ‘farm bill’ among the specific lobbying issues. “Lobbying by the agribusiness sector has steadily increased,” the report says. “In just the last five years, the agribusiness sector’s annual lobbying expenditures have risen 22 percent, totaling more on federal lobbying than the oil and gas industry and the defense sector.” Top lobbying spenders included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and Koch Industries.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 17, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. report of leading economic indicators for April is due out at 9 a.m. CDT Friday. Traders continue to keep watch on the latest weather forecasts in several major crop regions. Weather A storm system, though pretty weak, continues to move east of the Mississippi River with scattered showers and thunderstorms for Friday. Pockets of heavy rain and severe weather across the Gulf Coast are also expected for Friday. Another system is wrapping up in the Canadian Prairies with scattered showers there and into the Northern Plains, with a risk of severe storms there as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 16, 2024 |


Grocery Prices Drop in April The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the food price index was unchanged in April after increasing 0.1 percent in March. The index for food at home decreased 0.2 percent during the month. Three of the six major grocery store food group indexes decreased in April, while the remaining three had price increases. The price index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs decreased by 0.7 percent in April, led by a 7.3 percent decline in the egg index. The fruits and vegetables index declined 0.8 percent over the month. The index for cereals and bakery products increased 0.6 percent in April. The index for other food at home and the index for dairy and related products both increased 0.1 percent during the month. The food away from home index rose 0.3 percent in April, as it did in March. The food-at-home index rose 1.1 percent during the past 12 months. *********************************************************************************** Groups Ask Treasury for Prompt 45Z Credit Guidance Twenty-five trade associations representing producers, feedstock providers, blenders, consumers, and retailers of low-carbon biofuels sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. They’re asking the Treasury Department to finalize and publish guidance for the 45Z Clean Fuels Production Credit as soon as possible. The new credit is designed to incentivize domestic production of low-carbon fuels on a technology-neutral basis. The value of the credit is based on the life-cycle greenhouse gas emission score of each fuel. “With the credit set to take effect on January 1, 2025, our member companies may face significant headwinds and business risks if this guidance isn’t published promptly,” the letter says. “Any extended delays in publishing the guidance may disrupt project timelines, impede capital flows, and threaten existing production and demand for low carbon renewable fuels.” Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs for Clean Fuels Alliance America, says the need for policy certainty is urgent. ********************************************************************************** USDA Easing Transition to Organic Production Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new programs, partnerships, grant awards, and an additional $10 million in funding to expand markets for organic products and help producers transition to organic production. These programs will support the development of new and better markets for domestic organic products, provide hands-on training to producers making the transition to organic production, and ease the financial burden of obtaining organic certification. “Offsetting the costs for organic transition helps more farmers realize higher margins sooner while giving consumers more access to high-demand organic products,” Vilsack says. “The partnerships and technical support we offer will ease the transition for producers, and the investments in grant projects we’re announcing will reduce the organic industry’s reliance on imports, lower cost barriers for businesses transitioning to organic, and address crucial infrastructure needs.” USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service awarded approximately $24.8 million for 23 grant projects through its Organic Market Development Grant Program. *********************************************************************************** Grassley Leads Delegation in Asking for Federal Aid Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) led the state’s delegation in calling on USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to swiftly approve Iowa’s request for federal assistance. Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig made the request on behalf of farmers hit by severe storms and tornadoes last month. Reynolds and Naig are seeking immediate issuance of a USDA Secretarial Designation authorizing the Farm Service Agency disaster programs, including the Farm Loans Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program. The USDA designation would assist farmers in eight counties while recovering from April’s storms. “We respectfully ask that you activate any and all eligible assistance for the affected eight counties as a result of severe storms, including 24 tornadoes that impacted Iowa on April 26-27,” the letter says. “A significant emergency response was needed as a result of these severe storms that damaged grain bins and farm equipment.” *********************************************************************************** Renewable Diesel Glut His Refiner Profits U.S. fuel makers recently rushed to redo their production plants and make them capable of producing renewable diesel. Reuters says that rush has created an excess supply of the low-emissions biofuel that’s shrinking refiner profit margins and threatening to slow or halt the development of what’s still a young industry. Turmoil in the renewable diesel and biodiesel sector could become a significant roadblock to future investments in biofuels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says that could potentially stall the transition away from fossil fuels. There’s so much supply available that some producers have shut down plants this year, and industry stakeholders say more are likely to go out of business before the end of 2024. U.S. renewable diesel production capacity nearly quadrupled following COVID-19 from 79 million gallons a year in 2021 to three billion gallons by 2023 as refiners were seeking ways to survive the transition away from petroleum-based products. *********************************************************************************** Retaliation Fears After Administration Increases Chinese Tariffs President Biden increased tariffs on Chinese goods under Section 301 of 1974’s Trade Act. The hike goes on $18 billion worth of imports from China, prompting significant concerns that China might impose tariffs on the U.S. agricultural products that the Asian nation imports. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai says the move is a response to China’s “unfair and anticompetitive economic practices.” Tariffs are going up on critical manufacturing and mining sectors, including steel, aluminum, semiconductors, electric vehicles, batteries, solar cells, and certain critical minerals. National Journal notes that Biden “doubled down” on former President Trump’s tariff policies, keeping the Trump tariffs in force and imposing even more in an effort to keep China from dominating the emerging clean-energy global market. CNN says China has vowed to “resolutely defend its interests” because of the new U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports and says these barriers would affect the two countries’ “wider relationship.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 16, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, April U.S. housing starts and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. A report on U.S. industrial production is set for 8:15 a.m., followed by the U.S. Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report at 9:30 a.m. At 2 p.m., USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry outlooks will be released. Weather A system is stretched out from the Upper Midwest down through Texas and will proceed slowly eastward for Thursday. While thunderstorms will be possible in the Great Lakes and Mid-Mississippi Valley, the best chances for severe storms will occur across Texas. Heavy rain will accompany the thunderstorms, which could produce flooding there and eastward across the Gulf Coast going through Thursday night. Another system has entered the Canadian Prairies and will be active there and the Northern Plains with scattered showers.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 15, 2024 |


Legislators Want $1.2 Billion for Conservation Funding Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DEL), along with 24 of their Senate colleagues, called on the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund agricultural conservation programs in the FY 2025 funding bill. “Land-based mitigation measures in agriculture, forestry, and other land use sectors represent some of the most important options currently available for large-scale emissions reductions and the removal and storage of carbon dioxide at scale,” the senators wrote in a letter to Appropriations Committee leadership. “We need strong investments in USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation staff and resources to support farmers, ranchers, and foresters to help mitigate and adapt to climate change.” The senators highlighted the success of ag conservation programs like EQIP, the Conservation Stewardship Program, and many others. They want full farm bill funding for these programs that provide technical and planning assistance to farmers and help producers across the country manage their working lands more sustainably. *********************************************************************************** Organic Posts Record Sales in 2023 U.S. sales of certified organic products approached $70 billion in 2023, a new record for the sector. Dollar sales for the American organic marketplace hit $69.7 billion last year, up 3.4 percent. That’s according to the 2024 Organic Industry Survey released this week by the Organic Trade Association. Despite stubborn price inflation seen throughout retail stores, consumers still looked for the USDA Organic label in good numbers. The organic marketplace recalibrated its supply chain and reconciled the cost of doing business in part with increased retail pricing. Produce held its spot as the largest organic category in 2023, continuing to be the primary point of entry for consumers into the organic market. In 2023, the produce category grew by 2.6 percent to $20.5 billion. Top sellers in the organic produce section were avocados, berries, apples, carrots, and pre-packaged salads. The second biggest category was grocery sales at $15.4 billion. ********************************************************************************** CropLife American Applauds Miscellaneous Tariff Bill CropLife America applauds the introduction of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill sponsored by House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chair, Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE). The bill supports manufacturers, farmers, consumers, and communities by reducing or eliminating tariffs, on a temporary basis, on products that aren’t available in the U.S. The previous MTB expired in December 2020, resulting in businesses and their customers paying more than $1.5 billion in anticompetitive tariffs, equal to $1.3 million per day. That money should and can be invested in job creation and innovation. “CLA is appreciative of Representative Smith’s leadership in this first step to re-establish an MTB process that’s fully retroactive,” says Alexandra Dunn, CLA president and CEO. “This allows for investments to support research and development of the important innovations and technology farmers need to grow the world’s food, fiber, fuel, and other pesticides needed to keep our communities safe from pests and diseases.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Investing $250 Million to Reduce Wildfire Risk Deputy USDA Secretary Xochitl (so-CHEEL) Torres Small announced that $250 million is available to help at-risk communities protect homes, businesses, and infrastructures from catastrophic wildfires. The announcement through the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program will fund 158 projects to help communities in 31 states, two territories, and 11 tribes to develop community wildfire protection plans, which include removing overgrown vegetation that can fuel fires that threaten lives, livelihoods, and resources. Last year, more than two million Americans were displaced by extreme weather events, including wildfires. Now in its second year, the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program helps communities in the wildland-urban interface maintain resilient landscapes, create fire-adapted communities, and ensure safe, effective wildfire response. Those are all goals unified under the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and aligned with the objectives of the National Climate Resilience Framework. Examples include almost $10 million to Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation to improve fire mitigation. *********************************************************************************** Sugarbeet Farmers Want Sugar Policy Support Two sugarbeet farmers recently took to the pages of their home state papers to praise U.S. sugar policy for helping keep the food supply secure and supporting their family farms. They said that sugar policy must be preserved and strengthened in the next farm bill. Colorado farmer Paul Schlagel (SHLAY-gel) grows sugar beets in Boulder County, Colorado. He wrote an op-ed piece saying the economic pressures and significant cost increases facing farmers require a stronger farm safety net. “It’s more important than ever that we have the strongest safety net possible to sustain current sugar production levels and maintain our national food security,” Schlagel wrote. “Without a strong safety net, family farms like mine would be driven out of business and countless jobs eliminated.” Montana farmer Shane Strecker says the closure of Sidney Sugars in Montana and the resulting economic and job losses were warning signs against weakening the no-cost U.S. sugar policy. *********************************************************************************** Reminders For Storing Planters When Finished There’s a lot of other work to be done when planting finishes. The temptation may be to let it sit there until next season. Planter experts say that could mean a risk of problems next spring. “For your planter to run at peak performance, efficiency, and accuracy, what you do now to properly store it is just as important, if not more important, than how you prepare for planting next spring,” says Brad Niensteadt, lead product specialist with Kinze (KIN-zee). He offered a checklist, which includes storing the planter in a sheltered area if possible. Moisture and planters are not a good combination, plus the trade-in value is much better if you keep it inside. Remove all dirt and trash wrapped on sprockets or shafts. Any residue will draw moisture and cause corrosion. Make sure you clean drive chains and coat them with rust-preventative spray or remove and submerge them in oil.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 15, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. consumer price index for April will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. Traders will continue to keep close watch on the latest weather forecasts, checking for planting opportunities in the U.S. Weather Two storms continue their slow march through the country as a lead one over the East Coast continues to produce showers there and the far eastern Corn Belt. Meanwhile, a second one that moved into the Plains on Tuesday slowly drifts eastward with scattered showers and thunderstorms for the Western Corn Belt as well. Some severe weather will be possible out of Both storms, with the higher likelihood for strong winds and hail in the southwestern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 14, 2024 |


Solar Storm Knocks Out GPS During Planting While a solar storm brought the aurora borealis to a large part of the U.S., it also played havoc with farmers in the middle of spring planting. 404 Media says the storm broke critical GPS and precision farming abilities in tractors and agricultural equipment at a time when they’re especially important. These outages forced many farmers to momentarily bring their planting to a stop. One chain of John Deere dealerships gave farmers a heads-up that some of the systems in their tractors were “extremely compromised.” They said farmers planting crops while the precision equipment was compromised may face problems when they go to harvest. Nebraska farmer Kevin Kennedy told 404 Media that all of his tractors were sitting at the ends of each field and shut down because of the solar storm. Dennis Wolf of South Dakota said his equipment showed the tractor going in circles and the auto steer didn’t work. *********************************************************************************** Key State in Brazil Still Battling Intense Flooding Rio Grande (GRAN-day) do Sul, one of the biggest soy and rice producers in Brazil continues to experience intense flooding. France 24 Dot Com says the region had been counting on a record harvest of over 22 million tons of soybeans, but extreme weather could affect five million tons of the harvest. Before the rain began, a quarter of the soybean fields were left to be harvested. Nilvo Bosa (BO-sah), president of a small farmer cooperative, says, “In a year, we have suffered drought and three floods, including this one, which reached levels we’ve never seen before.” He also says farmers in Rio Grande do Sul cannot access their fields at all because they are under 13 to 16 feet of water. About 15 percent of Brazil’s rice was waiting to get harvested before the floods came, and the government has already announced plans to import rice to counter any potential shortfall. ********************************************************************************** Four-Wheel-Drive Tractor Sales Higher in April U.S. sales of four-wheel-drive tractors increased 24 percent in April compared to 2023. That’s according to new data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Also, U.S. four-wheel-drive tractor sales are up 1.9 percent year-to-date. Unit sales of 100-plus horsepower tractors in April increased by 7.2 percent compared to last year, which followed a March jump of 3.2 percent. Combine sales also increased in April, growing 6.7 percent compared to 2023. “The modest growth in four-wheel-drive tractor sales in April is an indicator of the resilience of the overall agricultural industry,” says AEM Senior Vice President Curt Blades. “The smaller horsepower market continues to be a challenge, but we remain optimistic for the long-term strength of the ag equipment market.” Combine sales in Canada shot 73.5 percent higher in April compared to last year and are 17.7 percent higher to date in 2024. Canadian four-wheel-drive tractors grew 7.2 percent compared to 2023. *********************************************************************************** House Ag Chair Releases Detailed Farm Bill Proposal House Ag Committee Chair G.T. Thompson (R-PA) released a more detailed, title-by-title overview of his farm bill proposal. The National Sorghum Producers say the chairman has been consistent in his messaging that the farm bill must be highly effective for producers and, by any measure, his framework makes some strides on behalf of America’s farm and ranch families. The full overview includes many key provisions like increasing the statutory reference prices by 10 to 20 percent for all covered commodities in Title 1. His proposal increases the Agricultural Risk Coverage guarantee to 90 percent of the benchmark revenue and expands the maximum payment band to 12.5 percent for both ARC-IC and ARC-CO. It also increases marketing loan rates for most commodities. National Sorghum Producers and other organizations will sort through the details during the next week. A full draft could come next week, and Thompson has markup scheduled for May 23. *********************************************************************************** Milk Producers Pleased with Progress in D.C. Gregg Doud, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, commended House Ag Chair G.T. Thompson for including language in the House farm bill regarding the Class 1 mover. Thompson’s proposal would restore the previous “higher of” Class 1 Mover Formula. The prior mover served well for decades, while the current mover has cost farmers more than $1 billion in Class 1 skim milk revenue and undermined orderly milk marketing. “We are also grateful for the inclusion of language to require mandatory manufacturing plant cost studies to help inform future discussions on make allowances,” Doud says. The Federation also thanked Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and federal leadership for offering assistance to dairy producers as they meet the challenges of H5N1 in dairy cattle. “We look forward to collaborating with USDA and other agencies as we monitor and contain this outbreak and do what we can to help our farmers,” Doud adds. *********************************************************************************** Alabama Bans Cultured Meat Alabama is now the second state in the nation to ban the sale of cultured meat. Last week, Governor Kay Ivey signed SB23 into law, making the manufacture, sale, or distribution of food products produced from cultured animal cells a Class C misdemeanor as of October 1. According to the bill, civil penalties could range from $100 for a Class 2 violation up to $10,000 for a Class 5 violation for food sales establishments that violate the provisions of the bill. However, Feedstuffs says the legislation doesn’t prevent any federal institution of higher education or a person who’s partnered with a governmental entity or higher educational institution from conducting research in Alabama regarding the production of cultivated food products. Alabama’s ban follows Florida’s legal precedent taken earlier this month. Florida governor Ron DeSantis says his state will increase meat production and encourage residents to consume 100 percent real beef.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 14, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's producer price index for April will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, another clue for Fed policy. Brazil's crop agency, Conab, is expected to release new estimates for Brazil's corn and soybean production early Tuesday. Weather A system is slowly moving through the Ohio Valley Tuesday morning and will bring areas of showers and thunderstorms east of the Mississippi River. Another system is moving into the Northern Plains that will get some showers going there but also a bit farther south in the Central Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 13, 2024 |


May WASDE Includes An initial U.S. Crop Assessment The May World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates report includes USDA’s first assessment of domestic and international supply and demand prospects. The 2024-2025 U.S. corn outlook calls for larger supplies, greater domestic use and exports, and higher ending stocks. The corn crop is projected at 14.9 billion bushels, down three percent from last year. The yield projection is 181 bushels per acre. Total corn supplies are forecast at 16.9 billion bushels. The season-average farm price is down 25 cents to $4.40. The soybean outlook is for higher supplies, crush, exports, and ending stocks. The crop is projected at 4.45 billion bushels and ending stocks at 4.8 billion bushels, up by eight percent. The season-average price is forecast at $11.20 a bushel, down from $12.55 last year. The wheat forecast is 1.85 billion bushels, up three percent from 2023. Yield will be 48.9 bushels, and the season average price is $6 per bushel. *********************************************************************************** Winter Wheat Production Forecast is Up Two Percent U.S. farmers are expected to produce 1.28 billion bushels of winter wheat this year, according to the Crop Production Report released last week by USDA’s Natural Agricultural Statistics Service. In the first winter wheat production forecast for NASS, production is expected to increase by two percent from last year. As of May 1, the U.S. yield is expected to average 50.7 bushels per acre, up by 0.1 bushels from last year’s average of 50.6 bushels per acre. Hard Red Winter Wheat production is forecast at 705 million bushels, up 17 percent from a year ago. Soft Red Winter Wheat, at 344 million bushels, is expected to decrease by 23 percent from 2023. White Winter Wheat is forecast at 229 million bushels, up 16 percent from last year. Of the White Winter Wheat production, 17.3 million bushels are Hard White, and 211 million bushels are Soft White. NASS surveyed approximately 8,300 producers. ********************************************************************************** Bill Would Strengthen Crop Insurance Brad Finstad (R-MN) and Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) introduced the Federal Agriculture Risk Management Enhancement and Resilience Act into the House last week. The FARMER Act is intended to strengthen crop insurance and make higher levels of coverage more affordable for producers. The Act would increase premium support for higher levels of crop insurance coverage, which will enhance affordability and reduce the need for ad-hoc disaster assistance. It would improve the Supplemental Coverage Option by increasing premium support and expanding the coverage level, providing producers with an additional level of protection. The legislation would direct the Risk Management Agency to conduct a study to improve the effectiveness of SCO in large counties. “Farming is one of the most honorable professions in our country,” says Finstad. “Crop insurance is their number one risk management tool, providing certainty they need to feed the world.” Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. *********************************************************************************** Farmers Get Good Money for Leasing to Solar Companies Solar energy is gaining traction across the country, and Farm Journal says it’s surprising how much solar companies pay farmers to lease their ground. A survey of farmers shows the majority are being offered more than $1,000 per acre by companies for solar leasing, and that possibly could drive up the price of future cash rental rates. The Purdue University Ag Economy Barometer recently asked how many farmers had engaged with companies about leasing land for solar installation. “It was 19 percent who said they’ve had discussions, which is a big percentage of respondents who’ve had those conversations,” says Purdue economist Michael Langemeier. “That doesn’t mean they’ve signed up, but they’ve actually been approached about it.” The bigger surprise may be the rates companies offered farmers, including 58 percent who say the rates were over $1,000 per acre. Thirty percent say they were offered between $1,000 to $1,250 an acre. *********************************************************************************** USDA Seeks Partnership Proposals on CRP Benefits The USDA strongly encourages eligible conservation partners to submit proposals for $10 million in available funds to research the Conservation Reserve Program’s environmental benefits. CRP is one of the world’s largest voluntary conservation programs with an established track record of preserving topsoil, sequestering carbon, reducing nitrogen runoff, and providing healthy wildlife habitat. Funding this research with partners outside of USDA will enable the Farm Service Agency, the agency responsible for administering CRP to best focus the program’s future functionality and goals based on the collective research results. Proposals for funding consideration are due June 7, 2024. Through the CRP Monitoring, Assessment, and Evaluation Program, FSA works with partners to study the benefits of the various ways CRP is implemented. USDA is seeking proposals for projects to survey, sample, and measure ecosystem benefits, citizen science, and in general, evaluate the overall impacts of CRP. All interested organizations are encouraged to apply. *********************************************************************************** USGC Expanding Opportunities in Established Asian Markets The U.S. Grains Council recently organized marketing conferences promoting U.S. corn fermented protein (CFP) and dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) in South Korea and Taiwan. Both countries are already important trade partners for U.S. agriculture but still have significant opportunities for growth in CFP and DDGS exports through increasing interest from the animal feed and aquaculture industries in the region. “Taiwanese importers and U.S. producers enjoy a relationship resulting in billions of dollars in sales each year,” says USGC Taiwan Director Michael Lu. “The Council and its partners are working to find avenues to new buyers and introduce different uses to consumers to build an even stronger bond between the U.S. and Taiwanese industries.” Opportunities continue developing in South Korea, one of the top seafood-consuming countries in the world, and its aquaculture industry is expanding to meet that demand. For more information about USGC’s work in Asia, go to grains.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 13, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will check the latest weather forecasts and any news from the Middle East or pertaining to Russia's wheat crop. USDA's report of weekly export inspections is at 10 a.m. CDT. NASS's weekly Crop Progress report is set for 3 p.m. Weather A storm system will bring scattered showers across much of the Corn Belt on Monday. Some pockets of heavy rain will develop, but light to moderate rain is most likely. That is not so for the Gulf Coast which will see areas of heavy rain and severe weather throughout the day. Another system is bringing showers to the Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies as well as our active pattern continues.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 10, 2024 |


New Joint Regulatory Plan for Biotechnology The Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and USDA have developed a plan to update, streamline, and clarify their regulations and oversight mechanisms for biotechnology products. The joint plan is intended to ensure public confidence in the biotechnology regulatory system and improve its transparency, predictability, coordination, and efficiency. The new plan incorporates processes and timelines to implement regulatory reform, such as identifying guidance and regulations to update, streamline, clarify, and identify the potential need for new guidance or regulations. The major areas of biotechnology product regulation include modified plants, animals, and microorganisms, along with human drugs, biologics, medical devices, and cross-cutting issues. The three agencies intend to implement their joint efforts like clarifying and streamlining regulatory oversight for genetically engineered plants, animals, and microorganisms. They will also update and expand their information sharing through a Memorandum of Understanding to improve and broaden communication and coordination oversight of modified microbes. *********************************************************************************** Age of U.S. Farmers Still Concerning The average age of U.S. farmers remains a concerning topic. Farmdoc Daily says the 2022 Census of Agriculture confirms that U.S. farmers continue getting older. However, America’s farmers are also becoming younger relative to the U.S. population. Relative to the rest of the population, the farmers have become slightly younger over the last 60 years. Since 1960, farmers’ ages have increased 7.6 years while the median age of the U.S. population has increased 8.8 years. The average age of the U.S. farmer is 58.1 years as of the 2022 Census. The share of farmers between 45 and 64 was lower in the 2022 versus the 2017 Census of Ag. In contrast, the shares of people less than 45 and over 65 increased from 19 to 22 percent and from 34 to 39 percent, respectively. In the 2022 Census, 85 percent of farmers older than 65 reported being involved in day-to-day farming decisions. *********************************************************************************** U.S., Mexico Dairy Industries to Collaborate Leading dairy representatives from the U.S. and Mexico met this week to renew their commitment to collaborate and advocate for mutually beneficial dairy policies. This was the sixth meeting between top U.S. and Mexico dairy organizations since 2016. The National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council steered the U.S. delegation, which consisted of more than 14 member companies, farmer representatives, and NMPF and USDEC staff. “Our two industries share so many similar challenges that call for us to work together,” says Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “Mexico is and will continue to be a valuable partner for U.S. dairy, and these meetings will help strengthen those ties and set the dairy sectors in both countries up for continued success.” The two sides signed several agreements, including those to preserve, facilitate, and improve trade and grow consumption in both countries to benefit consumers and the industries. *********************************************************************************** Johnson Introduces Bill to Streamline Broadband Installation Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD) introduced legislation to streamline the permitting process for broadband infrastructure projects. The FOREST Act is intended to cut down on bureaucratic red tape to improve broadband access in rural America. “Regulations and red tape are making it harder for us to deploy broadband in rural America," Johnson says. "My bill will reduce the unnecessary red tape so we can get more and better service across our country.” The lengthy permitting process on federal lands has prevented the government from improving broadband access, even though billions of dollars are available to improve broadband deployment. The FOREST Act expedites broadband projects in places where the government has already conducted the appropriate environmental and historical preservation reviews. “We appreciate Representative Johnson’s leadership on this bill to ensure broadband providers can efficiently and responsibly complete projects on federal lands,” says Brandon Heiner, Senior VP of Government Affairs for U.S. Telecom. *********************************************************************************** 12,000 People Visit Ag on the Mall The Association of Equipment Manufacturers partnered with other ag industry stakeholders to showcase American agriculture at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was a chance to show the public how farmers feed and fuel the world while protecting the environment for future generations. More than 12,000 people came to the National Mall for the second Celebration of Modern Agriculture. The three-day event featured combine harvesters, milking equipment, sprayers, planters, irrigation equipment, and tractors of all sizes. The public also saw interactive and hands-on exhibits by grower groups and agriculture innovators. This year’s theme was “The Future of Food and Farming.” The showcase of the event focused on the advances driving American agriculture’s long history of producing more while reducing its environmental footprint. “The latest agricultural innovations are much more than just tractors – these technologies are powering a sustainable future,” says Megan Tanel, President of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. *********************************************************************************** The World Pork Expo Draws Nearer The National Pork Producers Council hosts the 2024 World Pork Expo June 5-6 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. The NPPC invites those attending the event to engage with the latest insights across all facets of the pork industry. This year, the event features a new two-day schedule and the return of the world’s largest pork-specific trade show. Other highlights include the return of free educational seminars and the introduction of the Young Pork Associates Issues Meet. “In a constantly changing industry like ours, it’s important to stay informed and innovative,” says NPPC President Lori Stevermer. “This is especially true as we welcome young people eager to make a difference, and the Expo is all about improving knowledge for all professionals and supporting young talent in the industry.” The Young Pork Advocates Issues Meet is a speaking event for young people passionate about the pork industry’s future.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 10, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The University of Michigan's early index of consumer sentiment for May is set for 10 a.m. CDT. USDA's WASDE report and NASS's Crop Production report for winter wheat will be out at 11 a.m. CDT, followed by DTN's 12:30 p.m. WASDE webinar. The WASDE report will include estimates for the new 2024-25 season. Weather The final push of a system will move through eastern areas Friday with scattered showers and thunderstorms, with some severe weather possible across the far Southeast. Other isolated showers will pop up around the northern Mississippi Valley and southern Texas; otherwise, many areas will be mild and dry Friday, a break from the heavy rain and severe weather we have seen this week.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 9, 2024 |


Global Pork Production Returning to Profitability A recent Rabobank report says the global pork industry is starting to shift as sow herd numbers begin to plateau after declining for some time. The stabilization is a result of better-than-expected consumption trends coupled with reduced production costs across most regions. These factors are contributing to a more optimistic outlook for hog prices and are encouraging producers to consider rebuilding their herds. “The industry’s improved supply-demand balance has led to a contraction slowdown,” says Christine McCracken, senior animal protein analyst with Rabobank. The U.S., Canada, and China are seeing healthier herds, which means more hogs are available. Higher global stocks of grains and oilseeds have resulted in lower feed costs for producers, which is a beneficial boost for the industry. Despite a drop in some key Asian markets’ consumption, pork is maintaining its position as a cost-effective protein choice for worldwide consumers, especially in light of high beef prices. *********************************************************************************** Brazil Floods Hit Food Silos, Disrupt Shipping Heavy flooding in southern Brazil has hit food storage facilities in lower areas and hampered producers’ ability to get grain shipped to ports. Port News says that’s jeopardizing the nation’s exports and causing significant trouble for the economy in Rio Grande (GRAHN-day) do Sul, a state that produces a lot of soy, rice, wheat, and meat. ANEC, an association representing global grain exporters, says access to the Port of Rio Grande has been disrupted because a local rail line stopped operating. The group that represents firms like Cargill and Bunge also cited road blockades forcing grain trucks to travel an extra 250 miles through alternative routes to reach the port, which increases freight costs. The unprecedented event has left entire towns under water and destroyed critical infrastructure in the capital and rural areas while also killing livestock and catching farmers in the final stages of their corn and soybean harvests. *********************************************************************************** FDA Hosting Webinar on Ag Water Final Rule The Food and Drug Administration published a rule replacing the pre-harvest water quality criteria and testing requirements set in 2015. The new rule adopts a systems-based approach to identify and mitigate potential contamination risks. On May 20 from 1-2 P.M. (ET), the FDA will hold an information webinar about the recently published Agricultural Water Final Rule. The webinar will last an hour, and FDA will provide an overview of the final rule and answer pre-submitted questions and live Q and A. Under the new rule, produce farmers must conduct annual agricultural water assessments, considering factors like water system, water use practices, crop characteristics, environmental conditions, and potential impacts from nearby land. Based on the assessments, farmers must then implement mitigation steps if contamination risks are identified. These requirements apply to all produce farmers except those growing sprouts. Reaction to the new rule has been mixed. For more information, go to fda.gov. *********************************************************************************** Farmers Making Fewer Changes Low commodity prices, high input costs, and disappointing 2023 growing season results are influencing farmer decisions in 2024. The “2024 Farmer Speaks” survey reveals that farmers are taking a more conservative approach in their decision-making. They’re making fewer changes overall, driven by concerns about short-term prospects and long-term finances. Fertilizer remains the primary focus for adjustments despite more moderate prices. Fifty-two percent of growers purchased fertilizer early, marking a decrease of seven percent from last year’s record high. Farmers say their intent to buy more ag equipment has dropped by 24 percent in one year. Farmers are also switching crop protection products far less than ever before. Survey respondents indicate they’re using the same products as last year or are undecided. Thirty-six percent of farmers reported purchasing seeds early, anticipating possible shortages in 2024. Approximately half of the farmers are actively evaluating options or have already signed carbon credit contracts. *********************************************************************************** Meat Institute Updates Animal Handling Guidelines To help drive the meat industry forward, the Meat Institute has updated its Animal Handling Guidelines and Animal Welfare Audit. The changes include scores for each criterion, allowing the Institute’s members to set goals. The Meat Institute also released a new bison animal welfare audit. The guidelines and audit were authored by the Meat Institute’s Animal Welfare Committee and Colorado State University Professor Temple Grandin. “The Meat Institute has a long-standing commitment to animal welfare,” says Julie Anna Potts, AMI CEO. “Through these updated guidelines, and as part of the Protein PACT, Meat Institute companies continue to advance high standards of animal care.” The Meat Institute will highlight the updated guidelines and audit changes next week in Kansas City. AMI Conference topics will include improving animal welfare throughout the supply chain and prioritizing safe animal handling. The Institute is also publishing stunning and body condition scoring guidance for meat and poultry companies. *********************************************************************************** USDA Looking for Committee Members The USDA is seeking nominations for four positions on the Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. USDA will accept nominations until July 7. The 12-member Committee, which first convened in 2022, is part of USDA’s efforts to increase support for urban agriculture and innovative production. Committee members provide input on policy development and help identify barriers to urban agriculture as USDA works to promote urban farming and the economic opportunities it provides across the country. “The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Committee has already submitted more than a dozen recommendations to the Ag Secretary and continues to provide direct feedback to USDA about how to better serve producers and communities,” says Terry Cosby, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “New members will provide valuable input on innovative production, higher education, the supply chain, and urban farming to guide our programs and policies.” More information is at usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 9, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report follows at 9:30 a.m. Traders continue to watch over the latest weather forecasts and the possibility of another Israeli offensive into a Hamas stronghold. Weather A system that produced significant severe weather in Mid-South on Wednesday is pushing a front toward the Gulf and East Coasts, which will see the threats continue for Thursday. All modes of severe weather will be possible. A stretched-out trough will maintain some showers from the Central Plains through the Midwest as well as provide some cooler temperatures.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 8, 2024 |


Farmer Sentiment at Lowest Level Since 2022 Farmer sentiment dropped sharply in April, as indicated by the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. It fell 15 points to an April reading of 99. Both of the subindexes of the barometer also dropped. The Current Conditions Index dropped 18 points to 83, while the Future Expectations Index fell by 14 points to 106. April marked the lowest reading since June 2022. The sentiment drop was driven by worries regarding the current financial situation on producers’ farms and anticipated financial challenges in the coming year. The decline was also driven by broader concerns about financial performance and farmland values. The Farm Financial Performance index declined to 76 in April, a seven-point drop from the previous month. Only 24 percent of the respondents anticipate interest rates rising over the next year, down from 32 percent from March. Fewer farmers say they expect to see farmland values rise over the next year. *********************************************************************************** Texas Wildfire Loss is Worth $123 Million The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economists project the Panhandle wildfires caused $123 million in preliminary agricultural losses, making it the costliest on record. The wildfires began on February 26 and burned 1.2 million acres, making it the largest wildfire in Texas history. “The recovery process will be ongoing, and we’ll continue to provide support,” says Rick Avery, AgriLife Extension Director. The losses include more than 12,000 dead cattle, lost grazing values, and fence repair costs, according to economists. The initial loss estimates span from February through mid-March. Other estimates include $68.7 million lost in ranch infrastructure, fences, barns, corrals, well pump motors, windmills, and stocks of hay or feed. They estimate $26 million lost in long-term grazing in fire-damaged pastures and range and short-term emergency feeding costs. Producers lost an estimated $27 million worth of cattle, which includes both cattle and estimated losses of this season’s calf crop. *********************************************************************************** USDA Asked to Restore Canceled NASS Reports Representative Jim Costa (D-CA) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) led 70 colleagues in sending a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The officials want him to reverse the USDA’s decision to cancel or discontinue several NASS reports. The July Cattle Report, the Cotton Objective Yield Survey, and County Estimates for Crops and Livestock reports provide farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers with transparent livestock, grain, and fiber market insights as they position themselves to effectively manage risk and build supply and demand estimates, which help determine commodity sourcing plans to remain operational. “The reports slated for discontinuation are highly valuable to the entire U.S. agricultural sector, and particularly for cattle, cotton, and grain,” the lawmakers say in the letter. “Relatedly, the reports offer a great deal of transparency and market anticipation for the entire ag sector.” The letter is supported by multiple American agricultural organizations. *********************************************************************************** Construction Begins on $106 Million Precision Ag Research Center Construction of the National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture at Nebraska Innovation Campus launched with a ceremonial turning of dirt on May 6. The state-of-the-art research center is a partnership between the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Nebraska Innovation Campus. The Center will focus on the challenges and opportunities in agricultural innovation for the 21st century. The new center will be a $160 million USDA laboratory. It’s expected to double the USDA’s science and support staff presence at the University of Nebraska. The new greenhouse space in the center will allow ARS to perform research on wheat, barley, sorghum, forage and bioenergy grasses, and other crops. The complex will also function as a hub for multidisciplinary experts, including scientists and engineers who will collaborate with industry and producers to improve water and food security, increase the resilience of the agricultural landscape, and enhance agricultural profitability. *********************************************************************************** Safety During Severe Weather Valley View Vet Supply in Kansas wants you to stay safe on the farm during severe weather. One of the first steps they recommend is to download a trusted weather app. That helps you stay informed and ahead of a possible severe storm. If you have multiple farms or family and friends in other towns, set up notifications in several areas. If you have livestock, bring them in during a severe weather watch. Don’t wait until it’s a warning. Have basic first-aid items on hand, such as wound care spray, gauze pads, and vet wrap, should they be needed for any injuries caused by the storm. Do some preparations well in advance. Have items safely secured in the barn to avoid as much debris as possible. Store enough fresh water to provide five to 10 gallons per horse per day should the water shut off. Microchip horses to help speed up recovery. *********************************************************************************** NCGA Launches 60th Yield Contest Celebrating a remarkable milestone, the National Corn Growers Association proudly launched its 60th annual Yield Contest on May 1. Spanning six decades, the event is a testament to the ingenuity and dedication of corn growers across the nation. The contest continues to attract participants eager to push the boundaries of agricultural innovation. “As we celebrate sixty years, we reflect on the achievements of past winners and the legacy of innovation that defines the event,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle (WOOL-lee). “This contest showcases the incredible potential of American agriculture and also fueled a spirit of camaraderie and collaboration among growers nationwide.” The contest is open for entries from now until August 14, and this year’s contest promises to be another thrilling chapter in corn-growing history. “As we look to the future, we remain committed to fostering this legacy, inspiring growers to push the boundaries of what is possible,” Wolle adds.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 8, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders continue to keep close track of weather forecasts in several important crop regions. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report is set for 9:30 a.m. CDT and includes a report on weekly ethanol production. Weather Although a system continues to spin around the Northern Plains, where some heavy rain has fallen recently, a system will sneak underneath it across the South-Central states Wednesday and into the Ohio Valley for Wednesday night. Another round, or rounds, of widespread showers and thunderstorms, including a good chance for severe weather, exists in the Delta and Mid-South states Wednesday afternoon and evening.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 7, 2024 |


March Pork Exports Steady, Beef Value Rises U.S. pork exports in March were steady with last year’s volume and edged higher in value. Pork exports totaled 260,430 metric tons in March, up 0.1 percent from a year ago, valued at $740.8 million. That’s up two percent year-over-year and the seventh-highest on record. March shipments to South Korea were the largest on record. 2024 first quarter pork exports increased six percent while export value climbed seven percent. U.S. Meat Export Federation data shows beef exports below last March’s large volume, but exports were the highest since June 2023. March beef exports reached 108,200 metric tons, down 10 percent from last year but still the highest of 2024. Export value was $889.9 million, down slightly from last year but the highest level in nine months. March exports of U.S. lamb were 35 percent below last year at 246 metric tons, while export value dropped five percent to $1.5 million. *********************************************************************************** Union Members Tell Congress Sugar Policy Means Good Jobs Sugar workers who are members of the International Association of Machinists were recently on Capitol Hill talking about how strong U.S. sugar policy supports union jobs in America. They told members they’re proud of that much sugar made in America and done so by a union workforce. “U.S. sugar policy provides so much opportunity for people in rural communities,” says Cornelius Fowler, a Florida Crystal truck driver with 16 years of experience on the job. “They have great benefits and great programs that allow individuals to want to further their career.” The American Sugar Alliance says American sugar workers benefit from good jobs, upward mobility, and the investments that U.S. sugar companies make in workforce development. Many of America’s sugar processing facilities are in areas where jobs are limited, and the sugar workers praised the opportunities they’ve been provided by working in sugar. “In South Florida, we’re thriving,” one worker said. *********************************************************************************** Senators Want Coordinated Response to Avian Flu Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and John Cornyn (R-TX) are calling for enhanced interagency coordination in the federal response to the avian flu outbreak. In a letter, the senators urged the USDA to work with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other authorities, as it addresses avian flu cases and disseminates information to states and the public. They say previous outbreaks have benefited from a consortium strategy wherein the USDA brought in the brightest minds in epidemiology and animal health research to lessen the potential economic and societal cost of the spread. “We ask that the USDA take a similar approach – including additional research on wild bird deterrents, vaccines, and advanced biosecurity practices - when combating the outbreak,” the lawmakers wrote. “A successful response to this outbreak demands a commitment to keeping farmers, ranchers, and veterinarians informed of the latest developments.” *********************************************************************************** Brazil Soy Harvest Hit by Floods The outlook for the soybean harvest in Rio Grande do Sul of Brazil is deteriorating swiftly after torrential rain flooded fields, with about a quarter of the beans still to be harvested. Rio Grande do Sul was on track to become the second-largest producer in Brazil behind Mato Grosso. Farm Policy News says the impact of the downpours left entire cities and farms underwater in the state, which could cause up to a 15 percent drop in harvest in Rio Grande do Sul. Harvest predictions in the state range between 19 and 20 million metric tons and will include qualitative and quantitative losses. In most affected areas, estimates range from 70 to 80 percent of the soybeans suffering some level of damage. The Rio Grande port has not suspended operations, but handling is notably slower. Experts in Brazil said the market will soon discover that USDA overshot its Brazil harvest predictions. *********************************************************************************** Level Up Safety During Planting Whether current spring conditions have a number of tractors parked or in fields, it’s going to be a fast-paced planting season this spring. While the planting season can seem routine, the ag industry is always prone to risks, accidents, severe injuries, and even death. The University of Illinois Extension released a list of safety measures to implement during planting. Some steps include moving equipment when there is less traffic and making sure to use hazard lights, active turn signals, all mirrors, and add reflective tape. Drive on mapped-out routes from fields typically containing less traffic and identify areas where the equipment can be pulled over safely. Make sure to avoid distractions like cell phones and radios. For drivers who encounter moving farm equipment, slow down when approaching that equipment. Allow extra time for traveling or take alternate routes to destinations in rural areas during farming seasons. Most of all, be patient. *********************************************************************************** Food Prices Rise Slightly in April The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Price Index reached 119.1 points in April, up 0.3 points from its revised March level. The increase in the Meat Price Index and smaller upturns of Vegetable Oil and Cereal indices slightly more than offset decreases in those for Sugar and Dairy products. Although it registered a second monthly rise in April following a seven-month lower trend, the Index was down 9.6 points, or 7.4 percent, from its corresponding value one year ago. The biggest jump took place in meat, with the index at 116.3 points in April, up 1.9 points from March, the third-consecutive monthly increase. The Sugar Index took the biggest drop, falling six points, or 4.4 percent, to 127.5 points in April. The Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 130.9 points, up 0.3 points month-on-month, hitting a 13-month high. The Cereal Price Index averaged 111.2 points in April, also up 0.3 points.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 7, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no significant reports on Tuesday's docket, but traders have plenty to watch, including the latest weather forecasts for major crop regions, news from Ukraine and news from the Middle East. USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports for May will be out Friday morning. Weather A system that has stuck itself in the Northern Plains continues to spin there with some areas of heavy rain over Montana and into the Canadian Prairies. Meanwhile, it is pushing a cold front eastward through the Midwest with a line of showers and thunderstorms. The line will probably break apart Tuesday morning, but additional thunderstorms will develop Tuesday afternoon and evening across eastern areas of the Midwest, which may become severe with all hazards possible.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 6, 2024 |


Ground Beef Samples Safe from Bird Flu The USDA says all the ground beef samples sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory for PCR testing were negative for the H5N1 bird flu virus. Farm Policy News says USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service collected 30 samples of ground beef from retail outlets in the states with dairy cattle herds that tested positive for H5N1. The national laboratory reported that all samples tested negative for the virus. “These results reaffirm that the meat supply is safe,” the USDA says. The Food and Drug Administration says preliminary results of testing additional dairy products continue to show that pasteurization inactivates the bird flu virus. The FDA has tested 297 total retail samples of pasteurized dairy products, and the results released last week represent tests on 201 of those samples to date. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently added Colorado to the list of states with dairy herd infections. *********************************************************************************** Tariff Increases on Moroccan Fertilizer Approved The National Corn Growers Association says they’re worried about the availability and price of inputs after the Department of Commerce approved a tariff hike on phosphorous fertilizer from Morocco. The Department intends to raise those tariffs from 2.12 percent to 14.21 percent. Commerce’s actions came after Mosaic, a domestic fertilizer company, requested the action from the agency in 2023 over an import dispute with another multinational company. “The price of corn has dropped, and input costs are already high, so the Commerce Department’s decision is the last thing farmers need,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle (WOOL-lee). “If fertilizers continue to go up in price and are hard to secure, farmers will only have the Mosaic Company and Commerce Department to thank.” The proposed new rate would be the final retroactive tariff for 2022 imports and be the new provisional rate for imports from November 2024 and onward until the next administrative review. *********************************************************************************** Dairy Organizations Advocate for More Trade Opportunities U.S. trade policy can strengthen supply chain resiliency and ensure that U.S. dairy continues growing as a global leader. That’s the testimony that Tony Rice, Trade Policy Director for the National Milk Producers Federation, gave at a hearing before U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The U.S. dairy industry exported more than $8 billion worth of products in 2023, supporting thousands of jobs and contributing significantly to the national economy. During his testimony, Rice highlighted the need for a more proactive U.S. trade policy agenda that tackles global trade barriers and enhances market access to key partners. “An inclusive, worker-centered trade policy should reflect the central role that comprehensive trade agreements and American exports play for the ag economy and the many farmers and workers throughout the supply chain who rely on it,” Rice says. He also recommended that the USTR incorporate dairy-specific elements in trade negotiations to facilitate a robust supply chain. *********************************************************************************** Florida Bans Lab-Grown Meat Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning the sale or production of lab-grown meat in the state. “Florida is fighting back against the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs to achieve their authoritarian goals,” he said in a press release. “Our administration will continue to focus on investing in our local farmers and ranchers, and we will save our beef.” Florida Senate Bill 1084 enacts a wide-ranging ban on cultivated meat, making it illegal “for any person to manufacture for sale, sell, hold, or offer for sale or distribute cultivated meat in Florida.” Violators face misdemeanor penalties, and businesses caught selling the product could have their licenses suspended. “We must protect our incredible farmers and the integrity of American agriculture,” says Florida Ag Commissioner Wilton Simpson. “Lab-grown meat is a disgraceful attempt to undermine our proud traditions and prosperity.” *********************************************************************************** AFB Selects 12th Partners in Advocacy Leadership Class The American Farm Bureau recently selected an outstanding group of leaders in agriculture as the organization’s 12th Partners in Advocacy Leadership Class. AFBF designed PAL to help agricultural leaders accelerate their engagement abilities and solidify their roles as advocates for agriculture. “Being able to successfully advocate at all levels for agricultural issues that benefit rural communities is more important than ever,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “We applaud the members of the 12th class for their interest in honing the necessary skills to promote issues that are important to those in the farm-to-consumer food chain.” PAL training involves four learning modules designed to develop specific advocacy skills while exploring components of leadership and its theories and philosophies. The modules build on one another over the two years of the program and include intense, in-person, hands-on training. PAL graduates get the experience and confidence to effectively engage all critical ag stakeholders. *********************************************************************************** The Beef Checkoff Partners with Little League Baseball and softball are underway and soon followed by the start of the summer grilling season. The “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” brand, funded by the Beef Checkoff, is excited to announce a partnership between beef and baseball as a proud partner of the Little League World Series. “This partnership provides a unique opportunity to reach a younger audience and their families with facts about beef and the recipes they will love,” says Dan Gattis, NCBA Federation Division Chair. The partnership, which will name beef as the official sponsor of the Perfect Home Plate with Little League, will include a variety of advertising opportunities, including a digital video series to inspire consumers to choose beef. It will culminate with a beef dinner the night before the opening game of the Little League World Series to fuel the athletes with high-quality protein and prepare them for 11 days of intense competition.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 6, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - May WASDE and Wet Fields Top Headlines 1. WASDE Friday: The May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report hits the wires at 11:00 a.m. We will post those numbers shortly after 11, with updates and analysis throughout the morning. Look for our preview expectations for the report mid-week. 2. Weather Reports: We'll be both watching for more rain as well as how the past rains are slowing planting in some key production areas. There is a lot of consternation on social media about wet soils and idle planters. 3. Cab-view insights: We'll add to those field reports by continuing introductions of this season's View From The Cab farmers. 4. Mental Health Report: We continue featuring articles from the May Progressive Farmer magazine, "Rays of Hope" series on mental health in rural America. 5. Economic Reports this Week: Monday reports start at 10 a.m. with Grain Inspections. At 2 p.m., the U.S. Agricultural Trade Data and Dairy Products reports are out, followed by the weekly Crop Progress report, at 3 p.m., with our analysis soon after. Tuesday the Consumer Credit report hits at 2 p.m. Wednesday, at 9 a.m., we'll see Wholesale Inventories followed by the 9:30 a.m. release of EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status report, including ethanol production and stocks. Thursday begins at 7:30 a.m. with the Grain Export Sales and Initial Jobless Claims. At 10:30 a.m. the Weekly Economic Index is released. Friday starts with the 9 a.m. Consumer Sentiment, then the May WASDE with our full coverage at 11 a.m. At 1 p.m., the Monthly Federal Budget report is out, followed by the 2:30 p.m. CFTC's Commitment of Traders report.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 6, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will be busy catching up on the latest weather forecasts and checking the news. USDA's report of weekly export inspections is at 10 a.m. CDT Monday. NASS's weekly Crop Progress report is at 3 p.m. Weather A big storm system will bring multiple impacts to the Plains on Monday, getting into the Upper Midwest tonight as well. A significant severe weather outbreak is forecast from Nebraska to Oklahoma, especially on the southern end, which could be a major tornado outbreak. Strong winds and heavy rain will accompany the storm system in the Plains as well. Farther east, scattered showers and thunderstorms continue across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys as well as the Mid-Atlantic.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 3, 2024 |


Stabenow Releases Farm Bill Overview Just hours after House Ag Committee Chair GT Thompson (R-PA) released his farm bill overview, Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act. The act contains more than 100 bipartisan bills and is designed to put the farm bill back on track. “This is a serious proposal that reflects bipartisan priorities to keep farmers farming, families fed, and rural communities strong,” Stabenow says. “Farmers, families, and rural communities cannot wait any longer for the 2024 Farm Bill.” Among the act’s highlights, it makes investments into the farm safety net and supports beginning, underserved, and small farmers and ranchers. She says it also helps families working hard to make ends meet by investing in nutrition assistance that puts food on the table, increasing access to fruits and vegetables, and supporting people on the path to self-sufficiency. It also invests in rural broadband and improving health care. *********************************************************************************** Corn, Sorghum Growers Challenge EPA Test Procedures The Texas Corn Producers, Texas Sorghum Producers, and National Sorghum Growers have filed a petition in the Fifth Circuit Court to review fuel economy test procedures. The procedures are in the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium-Duty Vehicles. The rule lays out EPA’s “audacious” electric vehicle mandates to which the agency expects automakers to respond by making 69 percent of new vehicles electric or plug-in hybrid by 2032. This move comes with a large price tag for Americans: some $870 billion in vehicle technology costs alone. The groups say buried inside the hundreds of pages in the mandate is a specific regulation setting fuel economy test procedures that arbitrarily and illegally penalize ethanol- and liquid-fueled vehicles. In turn, that ultimately penalizes the corn and sorghum farmers who contribute to U.S. ethanol production. The groups say EPA hoped no one would notice. *********************************************************************************** Ag Groups Respond to Farm Bill Movement U.S. ag groups are reacting to the House and Senate Ag Committee leaders who released their farm bill overviews. “We are very pleased with the Farm Bill framework from House Ag Chair GT Thompson,” says Ethan Lane, VP of government affairs with the NCBA. “We are especially pleased with the focus on voluntary conservation programs that are increasingly popular with cattle producers. However, the Senate version suffers from a lack of producer input.” The American Farm Bureau says both proposals acknowledge that farm programs require additional investment due to falling commodity prices and higher interest rates. “Details are important,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “There’s still a lot of work to do.” Corey Rosenbusch of The Fertilizer Institute was pleased to see many of TFI’s priorities included in both overviews. “We’re happy to see so many of the industry’s priorities around conservation and nutrient stewardship included in both frameworks,” he says. *********************************************************************************** Seventy Percent Lower Crop Yields Without Pesticides CropLife America commissioned the University of Arkansas to conduct a three-year assessment that evaluates the environmental benefits and impacts of pesticide application on corn, cotton, and soybeans. The study examined crop productivity with and without pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides) for the three crops. The assessment’s key results include the fact that without pesticides, yields of corn, cotton, and soybeans would drop up to 70 percent, underscoring the indispensable role of pesticides in agriculture. Cultivating corn, cotton, and soybeans without pesticides resulted in upwards of three times more land, water, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Pesticides enhance productivity and significantly reduce pressure on our water, land, and energy resources per bushel of corn and soybeans, and per pound of cotton. “The researchers’ findings support the role pesticides play in helping feed, fuel, and clothe the world’s growing population in a sustainable manner,” says Alexandra Dunn, CropLife America President and CEO. *********************************************************************************** Farmers, Firefighters Join Forces to Eliminate Forever Chemicals Firefighters rely on various tools to do their jobs, including firefighting foam to combat fires. However, traditional foams are risky due to harmful PFAS, or “forever chemicals.” With farmer investment, the safer alternative called SoyFoam eliminates this exposure, prioritizing the well-being of the nation’s first responders. A partnership between Cross Plains Solutions and the soy checkoff gives firefighters one less thing to worry about while they keep our communities safe. SoyFoam is 100 percent free of intentionally added PFAS and is certified as biodegradable by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. It’s also certified 84 percent biobased through the USDA’s BioPreferred Program. Another benefit of SoyFoam for the soybean industry is that it’s made with soy flour, using the meal component of soybeans. “One of our main priorities is to create biobased alternatives that are safer for people and our environment,” says Steve Reinhard, chair of the United Soybean Board. *********************************************************************************** Nominations Open for 2025 Farm Dog of the Year Farmers are invited to submit nominations for the 2025 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest, which comes with cash prizes and bragging rights. It’s the seventh year of the contest, supported by Nestle Purina PetCare, which celebrates farm dogs and the many ways they support farmers and ranchers. The grand prize winner will be the Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year and take home a year’s worth of Purina Pro Plan dog food and $5,000 in prize money. The winner will be recognized at a Farm Dog of the Year award ceremony at the Farm Bureau Convention in San Antonio, Texas, in January 2025. “Farm dogs play an important role on the farm, coming alongside farmers to pitch in and to keep us company in our work,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. Desired attributes for the winner include helpfulness to the farmer and family, playfulness, and obedience.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 3, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's employment report for April is set for 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, important numbers with consequences for interest rate policy. Traders will continue to watch the latest weather forecasts closely and will be watching for any news of a possible strike in Argentina. Weather A front continues through eastern areas of the country on Friday with scattered showers and thunderstorms east of the Mississippi River. The active pattern continues though, with another system entering the Plains which should bring about scattered showers and thunderstorms and another risk of severe weather from Nebraska to Texas again.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 2, 2024 |


Administration Releases SAF Tax Credit Rules The Biden administration released guidance on its sustainable aviation fuel subsidy program that allows corn-based ethanol to qualify for the program if it’s sourced from farms using climate-friendly growing techniques. Farm Policy News from the University of Illinois says SAF can be made from corn, soy, or other agricultural products. To access the subsidies that make it economically viable, refiners must demonstrate their fuel is at least 50 percent lower in emissions than petroleum jet fuel. Ethanol-based SAF can meet that threshold only if corn farmers use a bundle of agricultural practices that include no-till, cover cropping, and efficient fertilizer application that holds carbon in the soil. The announcement also says soy-based biodiesel will qualify if the soy farms use a combination of no-till and cover cropping. SAF producers are eligible for a tax credit of $1.25 to $1.75 per gallon. “This is a stepping stone,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. *********************************************************************************** Ag Reacts to New SAF Tax Credit Guidance The 40B tax credit guidance and modified GREET model begins to unlock the door for U.S. ethanol producers and farmers to participate in the emerging market for sustainable aviation fuels. However, the Renewable Fuels Association says more work must be done to fully open the market to ethanol. “We believe less prescription on ag practices and more flexibility and additional low-carbon technologies and practices should be added to the modeling framework,” says RFA chief Geoff Cooper. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the administration’s all-or-nothing approach to recognizing the value of climate-smart agricultural practices may ultimately limit innovation and overall SAF production. The American Soybean Association says the announcement went “sideways” because, for soybean oil to qualify, they must be grown using no-till and cover cropping. “Specifying only two practices out of a variety of options will further restrict soybean oil use as a SAF feedstock,” says Josh Gackle, ASA President. *********************************************************************************** House Ag Chair Releases Farm Bill Draft House Ag Committee Chair GT Thompson (R-PA) shared his title-by-title overview of the bipartisan policies and priorities included in the 2024 Farm Bill. He called the legislation a product that happens when the development process is extensive and transparent, which included feedback from members of both political parties, stakeholder input from across the U.S., and some tough conversations. Thompson says he plans to markup his bill on May 23. Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA) says, “Ag Committee Democrats presented a farm bill counterproposal to our Republican colleagues as part of an ongoing, years-long process that could invest tens of billions in the farm bill safety net without any cuts to SNAP benefits.” The Hagstrom Report says Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chair of the Senate Ag Committee, will release her farm bill proposal today (Wednesday). Her proposal will include summaries and a section-by-section explanation but will not include the text. *********************************************************************************** Bill to Delist Gray Wolf Passes House Congressman Tom Tiffany (D-WI) and Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s bill to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act passed the House by a vote of 209-205. The “Trust the Science Act” would remove the gray wolf from the list of federal endangered species, ensure that action is not subject to judicial review, and restore authority back to state lawmakers and wildlife officials to control the gray wolf population. “The science is clear that the gray wolf has met and exceeded recovery goals,” says Tiffany. “Passing the House is an important first step towards restoring local control over the skyrocketing gray wolf population in Wisconsin.” The Act requires the Interior Secretary to reissue the 2020 Department of the Interior final rule that delisted the gray wolf in the lower 48 United States and ensures the reissuance of the final rule will not be subject to judicial review by activist judges. *********************************************************************************** Farm Loans Can Support Climate-Smart Ag Practices The USDA’s Farm Service Agency reminds agricultural producers that Farm Loan Programs can be used to support a variety of climate-smart practices. They include many practices that farmers already use, like cover cropping, nutrient management, and conservation tillage. “Farmers and ranchers are already doing their part to be stewards of our land, but some may lack the financial resources to take their efforts to the next level,” says Farm Service Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “The Farm Service Agency offers a variety of loans that can help those who would like to explore opportunities in their operations to make them more efficient and make a positive impact on our environment.” FSA loans can provide capital needed to invest in climate-smart practices and equipment including the establishment of rotational grazing systems, precision agriculture equipment, or machinery for conversion to no-till residue management. Climate-smart ag practices generate significant benefits, including capturing and sequestering carbon. *********************************************************************************** Culver’s Donating to Local Ag Initiatives For the tenth straight year, Culver’s is offering guests a single scoop of Fresh Frozen Custard in exchange for a $1 donation to local FFA chapters and other agricultural education organizations. It’s a part of the annual “Scoops of Thanks Day” that celebrates the impact of farm-fresh dairy that makes Culver’s Fresh Frozen Custard beloved by guests. Guests can choose between How Now Brown Cow, Chocolate, or Vanilla for their single scoop in exchange for the $1 donation. This year, guests can also make their donation in exchange for a single scoop of Fresh Frozen Custard through the Culver’s website or on the Culver’s app. Culver’s hopes to surpass the results from last year’s Scoops of Thanks Day, on which the brand served up more than 153,000 scoops during the fundraiser at nationwide locations. To find the nearest Culver’s location and celebrate Scoops of Thanksgiving Day, go to Culver’s location page.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 2, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, the U.S. trade deficit for March, a report of first-quarter U.S. productivity and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report follows at 9:30 a.m. and traders continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts closely. Weather A system moving into the Midwest on Thursday is bringing broken lines and clusters of showers and thunderstorms through the middle of the country. While there is some risk for severe weather from Wisconsin through Texas, it is much lower than in recent days. Instead, heavy rain falling over saturated ground could lead to some flooding in additional areas, especially around eastern Texas and Louisiana.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 1, 2024 |


Government to Test Ground Beef in Bird-Flu States The U.S. government announced it will collect samples of ground beef from retail stores in the states with outbreaks of bird flu in dairy cattle. Reuters says the government is confident that the meat supply is safe. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have said the overall public health risk is low, but it is higher for those with exposure to infected animals. Scientists believe the outbreaks are more widespread in cows than officially reported based on findings of H5N1 particles in about 20 percent of milk samples. The Food and Drug Administration says that preliminary results of gold-standard PCR tests showed pasteurization killed the bird flu virus in milk. USDA will analyze retail ground beef samples with PCR tests that indicate “whether any viral particles are present,” according to a statement. USDA’s mandatory testing rule for lactating dairy cattle began this week. *********************************************************************************** Biofuels Have Heating Oil Industry on Net-Zero Track The Northeast heating oil industry is on track to achieve the ambitious goals outlined in the Providence Resolution, a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A new analysis from the National Oilheat Research Alliance says the industry has already surpassed its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2023, instead achieving a reduction of 26 percent in emissions. The reduction comes from a combination of energy efficiency improvements and the increased use of renewable fuels such as Bioheat Fuel, a blend of sustainable biodiesel with conventional home heating oil. The industry celebrated a number of successes and innovations, including manufacturers introducing burners and heating systems to the market that are certified for blends of up to 100 percent biodiesel, or B100. Heating oil state associations advocated for biofuel blending requirements in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island that will eventually require blends as high as 50 percent biofuel. *********************************************************************************** Aerial Application Aircraft on Display in D.C. The National Agricultural Aviation Association is participating in Ag on the Mall at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., May 6-8. Themed the Future of Food and Farming, Ag on the Mall celebrates and showcases America’s equipment manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, and innovators all working together to drive the tradition of doing more with less environmental impact. The NAAA booth will display an aerial application Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter equipped with a liquid spray system for applying crop protection materials. The helicopter, along with a spray boom simulation model and other informational displays, will give federal legislators, regulatory officials, and National Mall visitors an up-close opportunity to learn about the essential role ag aviation plays in modern food production. American farmers use aerial application to treat 127 million acres or approximately 28 percent of cropland each year to help control insects and plant diseases and to apply fertilizer and seeds more efficiently. *********************************************************************************** Experienced USDA Official Joins Sugar Alliance Casey Bean, a veteran of the USDA, is joining the American Sugar Alliance as the organization’s trade consultant. Bean will work with ASA to analyze the complex global trade issues that impact U.S. sugar farmers and shape America’s no-cost sugar policy. With more than thirty years of experience working with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Bean’s work at FAS spans multiple regions across the globe, including countries like Bolivia, China, Colombia, Ecuador, and many others. He participated in trade negotiations and enforced the rules critical to maintaining a level playing field for U.S. agriculture as a member of the Senior Foreign Service, both while overseas and as a senior director at FAS headquarters. “We are excited to welcome Casey to the team at this critical juncture for America’s sugar producers and farm policy,” says Cassie Bladow (BLAY-dough), Chairwoman of the ASA. “His expertise will help move us forward into the future.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Still Taking Applications for Colombia Trade Mission Alexis Taylor, USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, leads an agribusiness trade mission to Bogota, Colombia, August 13-15. USDA is still accepting applications from current and potential U.S. exporters interested in joining the delegation. “Colombia represents a top-tier food and agricultural export destination for American farmers, ranchers, and processors,” she says. Colombia is the largest South American market for U.S. agricultural products and the seventh-largest market for U.S. food and beverage exports globally. Since the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement was implemented in 2012, America’s agricultural exports to Colombia have grown 237 percent, reaching a record $3.7 billion in 2023. “As the second-most populated country in South America, Colombia enjoys highly favorable demographics coupled with 20 years of continuous economic growth that saw a 36 percent increase in median household income,” Taylor adds. U.S. agribusiness representatives will meet with potential importers from across Colombia, and FAS staff will provide market briefings. *********************************************************************************** Weekly Corn and Bean Inspections Decline USDA data says inspections of corn and beans for overseas delivery declined week to week while wheat assessments improved. Corn inspections during the seven days ending on April 25 fell to 1.23 million metric tons. The agency report says that was down from 1.66 million a week earlier and 1.52 million during the same week last year. Soybean assessments totaled 250,332 tons, down from 443,508 tons during the previous week and 407,973 tons at the same point last year. Wheat inspections were up to 481,183 tons last week, up from 450,323 tons the week prior and more than 365,500 tons the same week in 2023. Since the start of the marketing year, USDA has inspected 31.6 million metric tons of corn for export. That’s up from 23.9 million tons assessed during the same time last year. Soybean inspections now total 39.7 million tons versus 47.5 million during the same time last year.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 1, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Manufacturing indices from around the world will roll in early Wednesday morning. The ISM index of U.S. manufacturing is set for 9 a.m. CDT, followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. At 1 p.m., the Federal Reserve will conclude its meeting with a rate announcement, expected to stay unchanged, and will be followed by a press conference with Chairman Jerome Powell. At 2 p.m., NASS will release its monthly Fats and Oils report. Weather Yet another system in the long line of disturbances that is keeping the weather pattern active will be moving into the Central and Southern Plains on Wednesday. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are forecast throughout the Plains and Prairies as well as parts of the Midwest, but severe storms will be possible from southern Nebraska southward that may also cause some heavy rainfall.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 30, 2024 |


Trade Associations Ask EPA to Meet Important November Deadline for E15 Trade associations representing feedstock providers, advanced biofuel producers, and low-carbon fuel customers want EPA to propose and finalize robust 2026 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes by November’s deadline. The groups’ letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan highlights the dramatic drop in the value of RFS compliance credits because of EPA’s unreasonably low 2023-2025 volumes. According to the association’s letter, the situation prompted several production facilities to close and now threatens investments in feedstock processing capacity as well as the production of sustainable aviation fuel. “We recognize that sustainable biofuels offer some of the most substantial immediate benefits to deliver carbon reductions,” the letter says. “While we continue to make investments in producing, distributing, and using low-carbon fuels, EPA can and should send a strong signal to the market through a robust RVO.” Groups signing on to the letter include Clean Fuels Alliance, the American Soybean Association, and many others. *********************************************************************************** Strong Farmland Demand Remains The agricultural economy has faced some challenges during the past year, with increased interest rates and decreased commodity prices. However, farmers are the eternal optimists. Farmers National Company reports that overall farmland demand remains extraordinarily strong and land values are holding steady in most areas. Troy Swee, Assistant Vice President of Farmers National, says even in the slight downward turn in the ag sector, the company continues to get phone calls and emails from farmers and investors looking to expand their landholdings. “High-quality land continues to sell at a level comparable to the spring of 2023,” he says. “However, lower quality farms and farms with a few blemishes on them have seen a seven to 15 percent reduction in price.” He also predicts that land values will continue holding steady for the first half of 2024, even after getting into early summer, when the sales volume typically begins to shrink. *********************************************************************************** Global Fertilizer Growth Expected Despite Challenges Operating costs keep getting higher while commodity prices fall at the same time. Rabobank says this combination has led to a squeeze on farmers’ operating margins, which are now below the average of the past two years, making farmers more cautious about investing in their farms. “Despite these headwinds, the fertilizer sector is showing resilience,” says Bruno Fonseca, senior analyst of farm inputs at Rabobank. “Geopolitical factors, among other issues, could present further obstacles, yet growth in fertilizer use is anticipated to persist.” There are certain fertilizers vulnerable to a decline in demand. Nitrogen fertilizer prices are on a downward trajectory, influenced by diminished demand and falling natural gas prices. The phosphate market experienced a price surge early in 2024 when China shifted its focus to domestic needs, curtailing global exports. Potash is witnessing a robust supply due to increased exports from Belarus and Russia, leading to lower prices. *********************************************************************************** Milk Checkoff Drives Consumption in Cincinnati A checkoff-led pilot in Cincinnati schools that offered lactose-free chocolate milk increased consumption and reached students who weren’t drinking milk because of real or perceived lactose intolerance. The National Dairy Council and American Dairy Association Mideast worked with Cincinnati Public Schools to offer the country’s first single-serve lactose-free chocolate milk package to six elementary and four high schools in the fourth quarter of 2023. Because of the program’s success, it was expanded to include all 15 CPS high schools through June of this year. Key findings of the pilot were that when students have the option to choose lactose-free milk, both milk selection and meal participation increase overall. When compared to the rest of the district, the pilot schools experienced a 16-percent increase in milk consumption and a seven percent higher meal participation. Tracy Enslen of ADA Mideast says the pilot proved meeting unmet demand with innovative offerings can drive consumption. *********************************************************************************** Stakeholders for the SAF Coalition Forty companies and organizations that hold a stake in the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuel united to form the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Coalition. The organization is made up of airlines and aircraft operators, agricultural enterprises, aircraft and aircraft equipment manufacturers, airports, technology developers, labor unions, and biofuel producers. The goal of the new nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition is to rapidly scale investment in the SAF sector and advocate for the incentives and policies necessary to promote U.S. economic competitiveness in the emerging SAF marketplace. While SAF Coalition members have been working together informally for years, this newly formed organization will leverage the collective strength of the entire SAF value chain to accelerate the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels in the U.S. “The membership of this coalition shows the deep support that the SAF enjoys across aviation’s many stakeholders,” says Alison Graab, the Executive Director for the Coalition. *********************************************************************************** Lawmakers Want Support for American West Amid Drought Senators and representatives from Western states called on the Biden administration to make further investments to address long-term drought. “Drought remains a severe risk for American farmers and ranchers and threatens farmland and local economies that rely on dwindling water resources, especially in states West of the 100th Meridian,” the letter says. “We’re asking the administration to bring all resources to bear in helping address the long-term drought and aridification of the Western United States.” The lawmakers applauded the ongoing efforts by the administration to support the American West as it faces a 1,200-year-level drought, including through the Western Water and Working Lands Framework and by opening up Inflation Reduction Act funding. “Investments to comprehensively address the short-term drought recovery and future resilience in the American West must include both smaller-scale on-farm measures and larger-scale upstream watershed restoration and improvements,” the letter adds. “Reliable water is critical to any rural community.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 30, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's employment cost index for the first quarter will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The Federal Reserve begins its two-day FOMC meeting and is expected to keep the federal funds rate target unchanged with an upper limit of 5.50%. Traders continue keeping close watch on the latest weather forecasts in major growing areas. Weather Another storm system in the active pattern is moving through the Plains and into the Upper Midwest for Tuesday. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will develop across the middle of the country yet again, with potential for severe weather from eastern Kansas through Iowa. Large hail and damaging winds are the primary threats with these storms.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 29, 2024 |


SAF Climate Model Coming on Tuesday The University of Illinois Farm Policy News says the Biden administration is expected to release a climate model for its sustainable aviation fuel subsidy program on Tuesday. The rule will dictate how ethanol producers can use climate-smart agriculture to qualify for tax credits in the production of SAF. The ethanol industry views SAF as a way to build demand for its products going forward, as gasoline consumption is expected to decline. A Reuters report says the administration will release a preliminary climate mode for its sustainable aviation fuel subsidy program in the coming weeks that’s more restrictive than what the ethanol industry had expected. The report says it will leave producers with a pathway to the subsidies if they can partner with corn growers that use sustainable farming practices. “To access SAF subsidies, producers must demonstrate that their feedstock is 50 percent lower in emissions than jet fuel,” Reuters says. *********************************************************************************** Colombia Restricts U.S. Beef Imports Due to HPAI Colombia has become the first country to restrict U.S. beef imports due to HPAI infections in dairy cattle. The U.S. Meat Export Federation says there is “no scientific basis” for the restrictions. “Columbia is the only country that has officially restricted imports of U.S. beef,” the organization says. “We are encouraged that the vast majority of our trading partners are following the science on the matter.” The U.S. is Colombia’s largest supplier of imported beef, making Columbia’s attempt to suspend beef imports from specific U.S. states is unworkable and misguided. “It’s created uncertainty for Colombian importers and their customers and suppliers,” USMEF says. “This will greatly disrupt trade.” The organization appreciates the efforts of the U.S. government to address Colombian officials’ concerns, and they’re hopeful that the matter can be resolved as soon as possible. The U.S. exported about $40 million in beef and beef products to Colombia last year. *********************************************************************************** USDA Finalizes Salmonella Policy in Chicken Products The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced its final determination to declare Salmonella an adulterant in raw breaded chicken products when they exceed a specific contamination threshold. The final determination is part of the FSIS’ broader efforts to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with America’s raw poultry. FSIS will set requirements for other poultry products later in 2024. “The policy will allow us to stop the sale of these products when we find levels of Salmonella contamination that could make people sick,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. However, the National Chicken Council says the policy will likely cost jobs. “This abrupt shift in longstanding policy has the potential to shutter plants, cost jobs, and take safe food and products off the shelves,” says NCC President Mike Brown. “These changes are designed to reduce outbreaks in a product that’s only been associated with one outbreak in the last nine years.” *********************************************************************************** Sorghum Crop Graded Number One for Five Straight Years The U.S. Grains Council released its 2023-2024 Sorghum Quality Report and for the fifth year in a row, U.S. Sorghum was, above average, graded above the requirements for U.S. No. 1 certification. “The Council’s annual sorghum quality report is an extremely important tool for defending our existing export markets and gaining market share in new ones because it shows exactly what to expect from the U.S. product every year,” says Brent Boydston “The report is always well-received by everyone along the sorghum value chain, and the Council is proud to have offered it for the last half-decade and for many years into the future.” The report is funded through the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service Agricultural Trade Promotion Program and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. It provides international customers and other interested parties with accurate information about the 2023-2024 U.S. sorghum crop. Samples were drawn central and southern regions of America. *********************************************************************************** Texas Ag Commissioner Expresses Gratitude for Help As Texas continues recovering from the devastating fires in the Panhandle, The Texas Agriculture Department thanks their valued counterparts in other state ag departments around the nation. Departments in states like Alabama, Iowa, and South Carolina have provided unwavering support, prayers, and resources which have been an example of solidarity and compassion. “The outpouring of support from our fellow state agriculture leaders has been moving during this tough time,” says Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller. “I’d like to give a Texas-sized thank you to our fellow states for having our backs.” For example, the Alabama Ag Department delivered 27 loads of hay totaling 546 round bales in the Texas Panhandle. The South Carolina Ag Department and in-state partners donated 12 tractor-trailer loads of hay, consisting of 402 bales of hay. “Across our nation, the agriculture community always pulls together when it matters most,” says South Carolina Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers. ********************************************************************************** NCBA Statement on Final Traceability Rule National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Mark Eisele, a Wyoming rancher, reacted to USDA’s final animal traceability rule. USDA’s final traceability rule updates the existing requirement for animal identification that has been in place since 2013, switching from solely visual tags that are both electronically and visually readable for certain classes of cattle moving interstate. “Many producers are already familiar with using these visual tags and under the new rule, they will instead use electronic tags,” Eisele says. “NCBA worked hard to secure $15 million in funding for producers to reduce the cost of implementing the change.” He also says NCBA remains committed to safeguarding producers’ private data and continuing to reduce the cost of ear tags for farmers and ranchers. To avoid the potential of devastating financial losses during a possible foreign animal disease outbreak and help producers return to commerce, NCBA says America needs an efficient animal disease traceability system.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 29, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Sustainable Fuels Ruling, Storms Recovery, Mental Health Lead the Week 1. Planting progress: There have been a lot of spring crops put in the ground between rainstorms -- and it's also been a weekend of wild weather in the heart of the country. On Monday, we'll cover USDA NASS's weekly Crop Progress report, due out at 3 p.m., to get the national and state-by-state perspective as we get ready to roll into May. 2. Stormy weather: From Friday through the weekend, the Plains and Midwest have gone through several rounds of storms and severe weather, including an outbreak of dangerous tornadoes, heavy rain, large hail and high winds. As rural communities and cities cleaned up from the storm damage, there are areas starting the week with flood watches and warnings stretching from Kansas and Missouri down to the Gulf Coast. More rain is likely through the week and weekend. Areas that need rain will welcome the moisture. We'll especially watch Kansas, as drought continues to creep in there. In the Eastern Corn Belt and Delta, where it's been wet, farmer hope to be spared more rainfall. On top of watching planting progress around the storms, we'll keep tracking the potential for severe weather threats. 3. Aviation fuel ruling: We could see a final rule on what products qualify for the sustainable aviation fuel tax credit. Hanging in the balance is how ethanol fairs as such fuel, and a favorable ruling could lift some weight off corn prices. 4. Mental health special issue: This week, Progressive Farmer subscribers will receive the May issue, which features an in-depth package on mental health on the farm and in rural America. We'll look at the unique challenges farmers and ranchers face, from significant stress to limited access to options in rural areas. However, we'll also include the rays of hope -- including useful information to help maintain your mental wellness and how to help others. We'll kick off the coverage of those stories online later in the week. 5. Economic reports this week: Reports start Monday at 10 a.m. with U.S. Grain Inspections. At 2 p.m. we'll see livestock and meat data and the latest poultry production numbers, followed by USDA NASS's weekly Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Then Tuesday includes 7:30 a.m. release of Employment Cost Index, then 8 a.m. S & P Case-Schiller Home Price Index. At 9 a.m. the latest Consumer Confidence numbers are released followed by 2 p.m. NASS Agricultural Prices report. Wednesday's reports include 7:15 a.m. ADP Employment numbers, 9 a.m. Construction Spending, ISM Manufacturing and Job Openings (JOLTS). At 9:30 a.m. is the EIA Weekly Petroleum numbers, including ethanol. At 1 p.m. the Fed's interest rate decision becomes public, followed by Fed Chair Jerome Powell's press conference at 1:30 p.m. At 2 p.m. we'll see the release of Broiler Hatchery, Fats and Oils, Flour Milling and Grain Crushings reports. Thursday starts with 7:30 a.m. release of Grain Export Sales, Initial Jobless Claims, U.S. Trade Balance and Productivity reports. At 9 a.m. the Factory Orders report hits, and at 10:30 a.m. is the Weekly Economic Index. Friday sees the U.S. Employment and Unemployment and the U.S. Hourly Wages reports at 7:30 a.m. At 2 p.m. is the Consumer Credit numbers, then the 2:30 pm. release of the CFTC's Commitment of Traders report.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 29, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will return from the weekend, checking the latest weather forecasts around the globe and any news from the world's hot spots. USDA's report of weekly export inspections will be out at 10 a.m. CDT Monday. NASS's weekly Crop Progress report follows at 3 p.m. Weather Another week of busy weather is on tap with a system on Monday bringing scattered showers to portions of the Midwest and Delta. Storm damage and flooding from the weekend will create some delays to planting.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 26, 2024 |


Rabobank released its North American Agribusiness Review Rabobank released its North American Agribusiness Review, a bi-monthly analysis of market conditions and trends across North American agriculture. Among the highlights, the report says American consumers have proven far more resilient than expected, and they continue analyzing the drivers behind evolving consumption patterns. Grocery sales have started to recover as food inflation has slowed. “Our upstream market expectations are mixed, with continued weakness in some sectors and expected recovery in others,” says RaboResearch head Roland Fumasi. For example, in the beef sector, Rabobank says in early 2024, U.S. beef imports will expand while exports shrink. However, U.S. beef and cattle demand posted early highs this year. In corn, the industry consensus is that farmers will find a way to get planted corn acres up to 91 million as most planting conditions have been favorable. Headwinds against soybeans include higher interest rates and a stronger dollar, which appreciated against several currencies. *********************************************************************************** AMI Calls for Worker Protections at Beef Facilities As the USDA issued a nationwide order requiring lactating dairy cows to test negative for HPAI before transport, the American Meat Institute says that properly prepared beef remains safe to eat. The Institute is asking the USDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide worker safety guidance specific to beef processors to ensure workers get better protected from infection. “We’re calling on the agencies to issue additional specific guidance to ensure USDA Inspectors and meat company workers stay protected from infection,” says NAMI President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “We will continue to work with USDA, state and local veterinarians, and our cattle producer partners to both stop the spread of the virus and to ensure beef production continues.” She also commends the USDA and CDC for working overtime to understand the spread of the virus and to determine its effects on the health of people and animals. *********************************************************************************** NMPF Supports USDA Orders on Lactating Cows The National Milk Producers Federation supports USDA orders on lactating cows. “Since the virus was first discovered in cows, H5N1 in dairy cattle has been primarily an animal health concern,” says Gregg Doud, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “The USDA announcement and actions underscore that concern and focus on the well-being of animals and those who care for them.” USDA, FDA, and scientific research have established what accumulated science has indicated all along: The consumer milk supply is safe. “Pasteurization renders the H5N1 virus, like other viruses, inactive, an important reminder for consumers of its value as a basic safeguard for human health,” Doud says. “That said, the presence of this virus in dairy herds, as well as dairy farmers’ own commitment to animal and human health, makes USDA’s actions on testing and interstate travel appropriate.” Dairy farmers stand ready to ensure healthy animals, workers, and consumers. *********************************************************************************** Growth Energy Applauds Nebraska SAF Credit Growth Energy celebrated the significant legislation that will speed investment in Nebraska’s production of sustainable aviation fuel. The bill was signed by Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen and will provide a 75-cent per gallon tax credit for the production of aviation fuel that reduces lifecycle emissions by at least 50 percent. That number is calculated based on the most recent version of the GREET model. “We applaud every one of the biofuel champions in Nebraska who worked hard to advance this exciting legislation,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “These incentives promise to propel Nebraska into a leadership position on SAF, which is the single most promising new market for low-carbon biofuels.” She also says with the right incentives and the best available science, as afforded by the Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET model, this approach promises to fast-track investments in low-carbon aviation that will benefit our climate, economy, and rural communities. *********************************************************************************** USDA Continues Investing in Rural High-Speed Broadband USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl (so-CHEEL) Torres Small announced that the agency is partnering with rural cooperatives, local organizations, and tribes to support more high-speed internet deployment in 11 states. USDA is awarding $5.2 million in cooperative agreements through the Broadband Technical Assistance Program, which is funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The funding will extend the reach of other high-speed internet programs to meet the goal of connecting every community with affordable, reliable high-speed internet. “Keeping the people of rural America connected with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of the country,” Torres Small said during an appearance in Texas. “USDA is partnering with small towns, cooperatives, local utilities, and private companies working to ensure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet.” She also says that’s how to grow the economy, not just in rural communities, but across the nation. ********************************************************************************** Rising Gas Prices May Plateau Soon After weeks of paying higher prices, those increases at the gas pump may be nearing a halt as refineries complete the transition from winter to summer gas blends. The changing fuel blends come with the changing seasons. Depending on the calendar, gas prices can be more expensive based on the blend drivers choose to use. “As the nationwide changeover to summer gasoline is now behind us, at least one of the three factors that had been actively causing prices to rise in the last couple of months is behind us,” says Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy. “The largest pain point is refinery maintenance, and that will take a few more weeks to complete.” He also says production output should increase as that work finishes, which will likely put downward pressure on gas prices. Triple A says the distinction between summer and winter fuel is how easily it evaporates based on the temperature.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 26, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, the same time as the PCE inflation index for March. The University of Michigan's final consumer sentiment index for April is due out at 9 a.m. Traders will continue to keep a close watch over the latest weather forecasts. Weather A storm system in the Central Plains will move northeast into the Upper Midwest on Friday. Widespread areas of rain and thunderstorms developed Thursday night and will continue in waves through Friday as well. Some of those thunderstorms will be severe throughout the day with the emphasis in the mid-Missouri Valley for the strongest storms Friday afternoon and evening.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 25, 2024 |


USDA Requires H5N1 Testing for Interstate Movement of Dairy Cattle The Department of Agriculture Wednesday mandated testing for H5N1 of dairy cattle that cross state lines. The move is to protect the U.S. livestock industry from the threat of avian influenza. Before interstate movement, dairy cattle are required to receive a negative test for Influenza A virus at an approved National Animal Health Laboratory Network laboratory. Owners of herds in which dairy cattle test positive for interstate movement will be required to provide epidemiological information, including animal movement tracing. USDA has identified spread between cows within the same herd, spread from cows to poultry, spread between dairies associated with cattle movements, and cows without clinical signs that have tested positive. On April 16, APHIS microbiologists identified a shift in an H5N1 sample from a cow in Kansas that could indicate that the virus has an adaptation to mammals. USDA has not found changes to the virus that would make it more transmissible to humans and between people. *********************************************************************************** FDA Reaffirms Pasteurization is Effective against HPAI The Food and Drug Administration confirmed again this week pasteurization of milk consistent with the federal Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance destroys harmful pathogenic bacteria and other microorganisms, including Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. The data cited by the FDA is consistent with other studies demonstrating that the legally required temperature and time for milk pasteurization will readily inactivate HPAI. Viral fragments detected after pasteurization are nothing more than evidence that the virus is dead and have zero impact on human health. Further, federal rules prohibit milk from sick cows from entering the food supply chain. The National Milk Producers Federation and International Dairy Foods Association encourage the FDA to continue to gather scientific data and information that is consistent with its plans. The FDA has also remained consistent in its vigilance against raw milk consumption. Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of human pathogens. As this situation continues to evolve, the dairy organizations strongly discourage the consumption of raw milk. *********************************************************************************** Vilsack Announces New School Meal Standards Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday announced major steps to promote the health of America's children through school meals. Nutrition standards for school meals will be gradually updated to include less sugar and flexibility with menu planning between Fall 2025 and Fall 2027. The Department arrived at these changes after listening closely to public feedback and considering the latest science-based recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new rule continues the work of the Biden Administration to address both food and nutrition security. Vilsack says, “When we raise the bar for school meals, it empowers our kids to achieve greater success inside and outside of the classroom.” For the first time, added sugars will be limited in school meals nationwide. Schools can continue offering flavored and unflavored milk, which provides essential nutrients children need, such as calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Current nutrition standards for whole grains will not change. *********************************************************************************** Crop Insurance Payments to Farmers Vary by Farm Type About 13 percent of U.S. farms participated in Federal crop insurance programs in 2022, with the highest share from small family farms. USDA’s Economic Research Service reports small family farms accounted for 54 percent of the participants in Federal crop insurance programs and received 12 percent of the insurance payments. Small family farms harvested 26 percent of all cropland acres. Midsize and large-scale family farm operators accounted for a slightly lower proportion of Federal crop insurance participants, 42 percent, but harvested most of the U.S. cropland acres, 67 percent, and received 80 percent of payments from Federal crop insurance. Larger farms like these account for 46 percent of agricultural acres operated in 2022. Researchers with USDA's Economic Research Service examined survey data and found that participation rates varied widely across commodity production. In 2022, 62 percent of farms producing row crops purchased Federal crop insurance, while nine percent of farms growing specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, and nursery crops, did the same. *********************************************************************************** USDA Urging South Texas to Protect Citrus from Invasive Pests South Texas citrus is under attack and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is asking residents for their help. Texas citrus in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is at risk of being infested by invasive and damaging fruit flies. APHIS and the Texas Department of Agriculture are inspecting and surveying fruit trees in residential yards and commercial properties to check for signs of invasive plant pests and to protect the food supply and agricultural economy. Residents can help by cooperating with surveys and taking steps to keep invasive fruit flies off their backyard fruit. The main threat this season is an invasive fruit fly that is native to Mexico and Central America. While this fruit fly is harmless to people and pets, it feeds on more than 40 kinds of fruits and vegetables. Invasive fruit fly larvae, more commonly known as maggots, can infest homegrown fruit, mature into adult flies, and then fly into commercial areas and spoil new harvests. *********************************************************************************** NCBA Offers Fall Semester Internships The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association seeks applications for fall internships. The programs include a public policy internship and a meetings and events internship. The public policy internship, based in Washington, D.C., is held in conjunction with the Public Lands Council and gives students an opportunity to learn about government relations and advocacy on behalf of the cattle industry. The meetings and events internship, based in Denver, Colorado, provides students with the chance to learn about managing large events like NCBA’s annual convention and summer business meeting. NCBA Vice President Gene Copenhaver says, “Interning at NCBA is a great way to start your career and the work you do will have a positive impact on America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers.” Both internship applications are now open and available on the careers page of ncba.org. Internships begin in August 2024 and end in December 2024. Applications are due by May 31, 2024. Learn more online at beef.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 25, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, and updates of first-quarter U.S. GDP and the U.S. Drought Monitor. U.S. pending homes sales in March are set for 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report at 9:30 a.m. Weather A stalled front and a system approaching from the West will increase showers and thunderstorms across the Plains on Thursday. Severe weather will be a risk from Nebraska southward with all hazards on the table. Background winds will likely be breezy as well. Frosty morning temperatures in the Midwest will quickly rise Thursday morning.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 24, 2024 |


Pipe Supplier Sues Summit Carbon Solutions An Arkansas pipe manufacturer is suing Summit Carbon Solutions for 15 million dollars. Summit wants to build a carbon dioxide pipeline system in multiple Midwestern states, including Iowa. The lawsuit, filed by Welspun Tubular, says Summit hired the company to produce 785 miles of pipe starting in May 2023 at a cost of $183 million. However, Summit’s pipeline network is scheduled to cover 2,500 miles in five states but has taken longer than expected to get approval. Summit says construction may begin in early 2025. An agreement allowed Summit to delay pipe production for up to six months until November 2023. Welspun notified Summit it would proceed with pipeline production in February, but Summit eventually canceled the agreement. The Nebraska Examiner says state regulators in North and South Dakota rejected the company’s initial pipeline routes. The Iowa Utilities Board is poised to decide whether to issue the company a permit. *********************************************************************************** Drone Operators Urged to Give Right of Way The U.S agricultural industry is entering the growing season, which means things will get busy. The National Agricultural Aviation Association is asking all uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) operators (or drones) to be mindful of low-altitude crewed or manned agricultural aircraft operations. Agricultural vehicles treat 127 million acres of cropland in the U.S. each year to help farmers increase productivity and protect their crops, in addition to pastureland, rangeland, and forestry. UAS are not allowed above 400 feet without a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration, and manned agricultural aircraft fly as low as ten feet off the ground when making an application. This means they share the low-altitude space with many drones. “With the growing number of uncrewed aircraft operations over the last few years, it’s critical for their operators to be aware of low-flying, manned agricultural aircraft,” says Andrew Moore, chief executive officer of the National Ag Aviation Association. *********************************************************************************** Investing in Clean Energy and Domestic Biofuels The USDA is funding more than 700 clean energy projects to help lower energy bills, expand access to domestic biofuels, create new jobs, and find new market opportunities for farmers and ranchers. Deputy Secretary Xochitl (so-CHEEL) Torres Small announced more than $238 million in loans and grants available through the Rural Energy for America Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. “As we celebrated Earth Day, we’re excited to partner with hundreds more family farms and small businesses to address the impacts of climate change, grow the economy, and keep rural communities throughout the country strong and resilient,” Torres Small says. $194 million in loans and grants will be available through the REAP program to support projects in 35 states and Puerto Rico. USDA is also investing $43 million in grants through the HBIIP to business owners that will help increase the availability of domestic biofuels in 15 states. *********************************************************************************** Farmers Oppose Sale of Iowa Fertilizer Plant The University of Illinois Farm Policy News says Iowa farmers told officials that they should block the sale of the Iowa Fertilizer Company to Koch Industries. The sale is worth 3.6 billion dollars. Farmers attending the Iowa Farmers Union’s listening session told Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission Chair, that consolidation is already squeezing their slim profit margins. The plant located in southeast Iowa received approximately $45 million in local, state, and federal economic development incentives and tax benefits over a decade ago to encourage the plant’s construction. Farmers point out that the acquisition would be the latest in a series of mergers and consolidations that have limited the number of companies they can purchase farm supplies and equipment from and sell livestock and crops. Four companies account for 75 percent of the nation’s supply of nitrogen. Khan didn’t say whether the FTC is investigating the Iowa Fertilizer Company sale. *********************************************************************************** March Milk Production Drops Almost One Percent Milk production in the 24 major states during March totaled 18.8 billion pounds, down 0.9 percent from March 2023. February revised production, at 17.4 billion pounds, was up 2.9 percent from February 2023. The February revision represented an increase of about 82 million pounds, or 0.5 percent, from last month’s preliminary production estimate. Adjusting the February production for the additional day due to the leap year causes February’s revised production to be down 0.7 percent on a per-day basis. Production per cow in the major states averaged 2,115 pounds for March, three pounds below March 2023. The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major states was 8.88 million head, 71,000 less than in March 2023, and 7,000 head less than February 2024. Milk production during the January-March quarter totaled 56.9 billion pounds, up 0.1 percent from 2023. The average number of milk cows during the quarter totaled 9.33 million head. *********************************************************************************** Weekly Corn Export Inspections Improve USDA data shows inspections of corn for overseas delivery rose week to week while bean and wheat assessments declined during the week ending on April 18. The agency report says export inspections of corn rose to 1.62 million metric tons, up from 1.35 million tons the previous week. That’s well above the 938,000 tons assessed during the same week last year. Examinations of soybeans for offshore delivery declined to 435,000 tons from more than 446,000 a week earlier. However, that number was up from the 380,000 tons inspected a year ago. USDA says wheat inspections were reported at 450,275 tons, down from just over 620,000 tons the previous week. Since the start of the marketing year, the agency has inspected 30.3 million metric tons of corn for delivery, up from 22.4 million last year. Soybean assessments now total 38.5 million tons, while wheat inspections are now at 16.4 million tons.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 24, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. durable goods orders in March is set for 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. USDA's monthly cold storage report will be out at 2 p.m. Traders are keeping close watch on weather conditions around numerous global crop regions. Weather A stalled front in the southern half of the Plains will be the focus for some showers and thunderstorms on Wednesday, the precursor to some more active weather the region will see over the next couple of weeks. Across the Midwest, that front has brought in a round of colder air, which led to some frosts Wednesday morning and probably more widespread cold for Thursday morning.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 23, 2024 |


25 States Sue EPA Over Vehicle Emissions Attorneys from 25 states sued the Environmental Protection Agency last week to block rules intended to reduce emissions from cars and light trucks and encourage electric vehicle manufacturing. The group of attorneys general says the agency exceeded its authority. The lawsuit is challenging the regulations for passenger vehicles, finalized on March 20 by the Biden administration. The group of states was led in the filing by Kentucky and West Virginia. Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman says the rules would harm the American economy, threaten jobs, and raise prices while undermining the U.S. electrical grid. Coleman also says there is very little interest in electric vehicles in his state. “The administration is willing to sacrifice the American auto industry and its workers in service of its radical green agenda,” Coleman says. “We aren’t buying it.” EPA chief Michael Regan says the rule imposes “absolutely no mandate” on manufacturers to adopt electric vehicles. *********************************************************************************** Fed Releases April Beige Book The Federal Reserve Board released its April Beige Book last week. It summarizes current economic conditions and includes observations on the agricultural economy. In Atlanta’s Sixth District, agricultural conditions showed improvement in recent weeks, with continued resilience in the cattle market and strong dairy demand. In the Seventh District of Chicago, fieldwork in preparation for planting was well ahead of the usual pace given warmer-than-normal temps. In the Eighth District of St. Louis, total acres planted at the end of March were similar to last year, but there are concerns about wet weather in multiple states. In Minneapolis’s Ninth District, warm weather and widespread mild drought conditions led to a mixed outlook going into planting. In the Eleventh District of Dallas, drought remained prevalent in West Texas and Southern New Mexico. In the Twelfth District around San Francisco, rainfall provided much-needed water for crops but did cause some flooding. *********************************************************************************** Trade Mission Underway in India Alexis Taylor, USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, arrived in New Delhi, India this week to launch a USDA-sponsored agribusiness trade mission. Taylor leads a delegation of officials from 47 agribusinesses and farm organizations and 11 state departments of agriculture. All are seeking to develop and expand business opportunities with importers in India. “As the world’s most populous country and fifth-largest economy, India is primed for continued growth as a top destination for U.S. food and agriculture products,” says Taylor. “With a growing middle class that’s expected to exceed 660 million by 2030, India presents a strong consumer-oriented market where exports from American agribusinesses and producers can flourish.” Participants representing a diverse array of American food and agricultural products get the chance to reinvigorate existing relationships and forge new connections with local importers. The U.S. and India have a long history of agricultural trade and an enhanced bilateral relationship. *********************************************************************************** FARM Program Celebrates Dairy Conservation Efforts The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program released findings from its Conservation Practice Questionnaire highlighting the leading stewardship of dairy farmers. The findings were released as FARM and the National Milk Producers Federation observed Earth Day. The questionnaire, a voluntary addition to the FARM Environmental Stewardship (ES) Program, highlights some of U.S. dairy farmers’ conservation efforts, including practices and technologies that show effective water, energy, and other resource stewardship. As of this month, the questionnaires show that 79 percent of dairy farmers reuse or recycle water on their farms. Ninety percent of participating farms report implementing field conservation practices. Also, 68 percent of farmers use recycled manure, recycled sand, or byproducts as bedding for their cows. More than 97 percent of participating dairy farmers use energy-saving technologies and practices. To further support dairy farmers’ efforts to implement conservation practices and technologies, FARM launched a searchable database of resources. *********************************************************************************** One Billion for Emergency Food Aid The USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development will deploy $1 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation funding to buy U.S. commodities to provide emergency food assistance around the world. “America’s farmers are the most productive and efficient in the world, and we rely on them to supply safe and nutritious food not only to our nation but to the global community,” says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The U.S. produces more commodities than we can consume, so we have the opportunity to partner with USAID and extend this food to those in our global community who are struggling.” An initial $950 million will support the purchase, shipment, and distribution of U.S. wheat, rice, sorghum, lentils, chickpeas, dry peas, vegetable oil, cornmeal, navy beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans. These are commodities that align with traditional USAID international food assistance programming. USAID has selected 18 countries for the initial round of support. *********************************************************************************** Cattle on Feed Up One Percent on April 1 USDA data shows the number of cattle on feed at the start of this month rose one percent year-over-year. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more rose to 11.8 million head in the week through April 1. An agency report says inventories included 7.27 million steers and calves, a two percent increase, and 4.56 million heifers and heifer calves, a one percent increase from the same point last year. March placements, meanwhile, plunged 12 percent to 1.75 million head. Net placements totaled 1.69 million head. 330,000 head of cattle weighing less than 600 pounds were placed in feedlots. Cattle between 600 and 699 pounds totaled 260,000 head. Around 460,000 head weighing between 700 and 799 pounds were placed, as were 466,000 head weighing 800 to 899 pounds. Marketings of fed cattle also dropped in March, falling 14 percent to 1.71 million head.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 23, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders have several points of weather attention to monitor, including the U.S., South America, Europe and southwestern Russia. A report on March U.S. new home sales will be out at 9:00 a.m. CDT and is the only significant report of the day. Weather A small storm system is moving through the Midwest on Tuesday and should bring scattered showers to the region. Some isolated showers may develop along the cold front across the Southern Plains as well. Temperatures will fall again behind the front, leaving some frosty conditions for Wednesday and Thursday mornings in the Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 22, 2024 |


EPA Issues Waiver for E15 Sales The Environmental Protection Agency is issuing an emergency fuel waiver to allow E15 gasoline to be sold during the summer driving season. The agency says the move will provide communities with relief at the pump from ongoing market supply issues created by the ongoing Ukraine war and conflict in the Middle East by increasing the fuel supply and offering a variety of fuel blends that consumers can choose from. “EPA is taking action to ensure that American consumers have more choices at the pump,” says Administrator Michael Regan. “Allowing E15 sales during the summer driving season will increase fuel supply while supporting American farmers, strengthening our nation’s energy security, and providing relief to drivers across the country.” Current estimates indicate that on average, E15 is about 25 cents a gallon cheaper than E10. The Clean Air Act allows the EPA administrator to temporarily waive certain fuel requirements to address shortages. *********************************************************************************** Corn Growers Applaud EPA Decision on E15 The Environmental Protection Agency used its authority to prevent drivers from losing access to lower-cost and lower-emission E15, a higher ethanol blend marketed as Unleaded 88. The National Corn Growers, who have advocated for the move, applauded the decision. “This waiver is good news for corn growers and those in rural America who will benefit economically from this decision and for consumers who will save money at the pump during a busy travel season,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle. “We deeply appreciate the EPA, the administration, and our congressional allies for all their work on this issue.” Under current policy, E15 cannot be sold at terminals beginning on May 1 and at retail stations starting on June 1. NCGA is working with allies, including the petroleum industry, on federal legislation that would provide permanent, year-round access to E15. Higher ethanol blends help significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions and fuel prices. *********************************************************************************** Cattle Producers Wrap Up in Washington, D.C. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association finished a successful Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. The three-day event brought in cattle producers from across the country to Washington to meet with federal agencies and their elected members of Congress. “The conference was a great opportunity to meet with our representatives and discuss issues with agencies like USDA, EPA, and the Fish and Wildlife Service,” says NCBA President Mark Eisele. “I’m thankful for the NCBA team’s work they do every day in D.C., and meetings like this are so valuable for showing policymakers how the decisions they make in Washington impact our farms and ranches thousands of miles away.” This year, 300 cattle producers traveled to Washington and participated in 170 meetings on Capitol Hill. During the three-day event, NCBA members discussed their priorities for the next farm bill, including the need for animal health, disaster relief, risk management, and voluntary conservation programs. *********************************************************************************** USDA Accepting Application for Colombia Trade Mission USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor will lead an agribusiness trade mission to Colombia on August 13-15. USDA is now accepting applications from current and potential U.S. exporters who have interest in joining the delegation. “Colombia represents a top-tier food and agricultural destination for American farmers, ranchers, and processors,” says Taylor. “As the second-most populous country in South America, Colombia enjoys highly favorable demographics coupled with 20 years of continuous economic growth,” she says. Colombia is the largest South American market for U.S. agricultural products and the seventh-largest market for U.S. food and beverage exports globally. Since the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement was implemented in 2012, U.S. ag exports to Colombia have grown 237 percent, reaching a record $3.7 billion in 2023. Export opportunities to Colombia include healthy foods, fresh fruit, meat and meat products, beans, seafood, dairy products, and more. For more information, go to fas.usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** Volatile Weather Possible in Early May AccuWeather forecasters say the spring severe weather season may quickly shift into high gear with favorable tornado conditions in the final days of April and through the first two weeks of May. “It’s the time of the year when you don’t have to wait long for one severe weather outbreak to give way to another one,” says Long Range Forecaster Joe Lundberg of AccuWeather. “Springtime is a severe weather time of year, and we expect that this May will be no exception.” A cold front will move across the Midwest, Ohio Valley, and the Northeast starting on April 23. It will stall out across the South-Central Plains and the northern Gulf states by April 25 and 26. Showers and thunderstorms can develop along the front in the Central Plains. “A strong, slow-moving storm will rotate through the southern Rockies and into the Plains in late April,” says Paul Pastelok of AccuWeather. *********************************************************************************** BLM Rule Threatens Multiple Use of Public Lands The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council expressed concerns with a new rule from the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM’s final “Conservation and Landscape Health” rule reimagines the agency’s requirements to manage lands for multiple uses, including grazing. “Ranchers have always and will always be serious partners in conservation and sensible land management, but after a year of feedback from agricultural organizations and local stakeholders, BLM has decided to move forward with the most concerning parts of this proposal,” says NCBA President Mark Eisele. “It is incredibly concerning that this rule makes serious additions to the land leasing structure for federal lands without authorization or direction from Congress.” The final rule runs counter to the agency’s multiple-use mandate under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. NCBA and PLC fear the rule will open the door for grazing to get removed from federal rangelands entirely.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 22, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Active Weather, What's New in Land Trends 1. Land trends: We continue our tracking of latest land trends with the start of a series featuring data from a new information partner. Watch as we kick off that land feature, with more information on the background of it, this week. 2. More active precipitation systems: Colder air moving through the weekend and early in the week brings some frost and freeze warning dangers, as well as sparking general precipitation across the South and parts of the Midwest. This and previous systems are easing drought conditions in many areas, a welcome tradeoff for some planting delays. There's especially good signs of rain moving through the Southwest and into the Plains states. 3. View From The Cab introductions: One of most popular long-term series, View From the Cab, kicks off this week with introductions of our featured farmers from Idaho and Kentucky. We're in our 20th year of this series, which each week tracks the activities and thoughts of a pair of farm families as they work through the crop season. 4. Podcast conversations: Our weekly Field Posts podcast series continues with comments around the latest Cattle on Feed reports, as well as existing episodes featuring farmer entrepreneurs and our take on recent grain market reports. 5. Economic reports this Week: Monday, USDA's weekly export inspection numbers are out at 10 a.m. Then USDA NASS's weekly Crop Progress report is at 3 p.m., followed by our analysis. Tuesday sees March U.S. new home sales report at 9 a.m. On Wednesday, the U.S. durable goods orders in March is set for 7:30 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. USDA's monthly cold storage report will be out at 2 p.m. Then Thursday starts with USDA's weekly export sales at 7:30 a.m., the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims and as updates of first-quarter U.S. GDP and the U.S. Drought Monitor. U.S. pending homes sales in March are set for 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report at 9:30 a.m. Friday we'll watch for U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending at 7:30 a.m., the same time as the PCE inflation index for March. The University of Michigan's final consumer sentiment index for April is due out at 9 a.m.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 22, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets After Israel fired a missile at Iran on Thursday evening, you can bet traders will be monitoring any new developments over the weekend as well as checking weather forecasts around the world. USDA's report of weekly export inspections is at 10 a.m. CDT Monday. NASS's weekly Crop Progress report is at 3 p.m. Weather Chilly air brought some frosts to the Midwest Monday morning. A small system will work across the northern tier with isolated showers across the Canadian Prairies, Northern Plains, and Upper Midwest. Winds will be a bit breezy in these areas as well. Otherwise, it will be a rather quiet day in most areas and should be a good one to get out and do some fieldwork where soil conditions allow.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 19, 2024 |


Groups Ask ITC to Kill Possible Herbicide Duties Six of the nation’s major commodity groups sent a letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission today encouraging it to vote no in advancing a petition from Corteva Agribusiness. The petition asks ITC to place antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of the herbicide 2-4D shipped from India and China. The letter says if the case continues beyond the preliminary stage, farmers across the country could soon find it difficult to access critical supplies. “Corteva is the only U.S. supplier of 2-4D,” the letter says. “To put it simply, America’s farmers cannot rely on a sole domestic supplier of 2-4D to meet nearly all of the market’s needs, which cannot fully be met without imports.” Duties on 2-4D imports from the two countries would intensify an already difficult period for many growers as key input costs continue to rise. The USDA is projecting record-high farm production cash expenses for 2024. *********************************************************************************** CNH Industry Moving Jobs to Mexico CNH Industrial plans to lay off over 200 employees at its Racine (RAY-seen), Wisconsin facility and shift that work to Mexico. That’s according to a statement from Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin. CNH Industrial, a manufacturer of agricultural equipment, intends to reduce costs by $150 million as part of a company-wide reorganization. “Agricultural machinery has been made in Racine for over 175 years and made Case-New Holland into an international manufacturing powerhouse,” Baldwin wrote in a letter to Scott Wine, CEO of CNH Industrial. “Moving production to Mexico is a slap in the face to the workers who have given so much, and it would destroy the institutional knowledge that your workforce has developed over decades.” Over 1,000 United Auto Workers members ratified a new contract with CNH in January 2023 after a strike lasted over 260 days. Baldwin questioned if this round of layoffs was “retribution” following the UAW strike. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces New Financial Access Tools and Resources The USDA has a new Livestock Indemnity Program Decision Tool and farm loan resources available to agricultural producers who help other producers access USDA disaster assistance and farm loan programs. The new LIP tool and the farm loan informational video resources were developed in partnership between FarmRaise and USDA’s Farm Service Agency. “By providing a collaborative outreach and technical assistance to the agricultural community, the FSA’s partnerships with organizations like FarmRaise increase the awareness of and the broader participation in our extensive suite of farm and farm loan programs,” says FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Offering innovative tools and resources with help from our cooperators breaks down program delivery barriers ensuring equitable access to our programs for millions of rural, urban, and small-scale to mid-sized producers.” The LIP Decision Tool helps producers who suffered losses, while the optional decision tool gives the producers guidance on needed documentation. For information, go to farmraise.com/usda-fsa. *********************************************************************************** Bright Forecast Ahead for U.S. Sugar Industry The University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute recently released its outlook for U.S. agriculture. They project that American sugar production remains strong and is expected to grow despite challenges seen over the past couple of years. Those challenges include factory closures in Montana and Texas. “Despite the new and existing challenges, the forecast is bright for American sugar production as long as the farmers’ safety net is strengthened,” says Dr. Rob Johansson, director of economics and policy analysis at the American Sugar Alliance. Most of America’s sugarbeet growers are planting their crops, while California’s growers have started their harvest. Sugarcane producers in southern states are finishing their harvest. USDA is forecasting a near-record 9.2 million tons of sugar will be produced in the U.S. this year, meeting about 74 percent of U.S. demand with domestically-produced supplies. That would make America the fifth-largest sugar producer in the world. *********************************************************************************** Nunn Introduces Year-Round E15 Bill Iowa Third District Congressman Zach Nunn introduced the Year-Round E15 Act that would allow the eight states that’ll have year-round E15 in 2025 to have it this year too. “Let me be clear,” Nunn says on his website. “This bill wouldn’t be necessary if the Administration had done the right thing to begin with, but it’s needed to provide certainty for farmers, producers, and the families who benefit from less expensive fuel.” Nunn also says biofuels support 57,000 jobs in his home state of Iowa, which reduces pump prices and decreases greenhouse emissions by roughly 50 percent. The bill would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waiver to ethanol blends above 10 percent to allow for year-round E15 sales in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Don Bacon and Adrian Smith of Nebraska, Nikki Budzinski and Eric Sorenson of Illinois, and Minnesota’s Brad Finstad are co-sponsors. *********************************************************************************** USDA Settles Packers and Stockyards Case The USDA entered into a stipulation agreement with Dennis Kolb Dairy Sales of Pennsylvania on February 13 for alleged violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Under the agreement terms, Dennis Kolb Dairy Sales waived the right to a hearing and paid a civil penalty of $12,600. An investigation by the Agricultural Marketing Service revealed between March 2023 and July 2023, the company failed to pay timely on 18 livestock purchases totaling over $96,300. Payments were up to 40 days late. The P&S Act requires subject entities to issue the full payment for livestock by the close of the first business day following the purchase and transfer of possession. Failure to pay for livestock purchases in a timely manner is a violation of the P&S Act. The Act authorizes the Ag Secretary to assess civil penalties of up to $33,896 per violation against anyone after notice and a hearing opportunity.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 19, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for April is due out at 9 a.m. CDT Friday. USDA's Cattle on Feed report for April 1 is set for 2 p.m. with 11.844 million head expected to be found on feed, up 2% from a year ago. Traders continue to monitor weather forecasts and events in the Middle East. Weather A strong cold front is moving through southern and eastern areas of the U.S. on Friday. Some showers and thunderstorms are possible along the front. Behind the front, cold air continues to pour into the country, which will create widespread frosts and freezes across much of the Plains and Midwest through the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 18, 2024 |


Report Shows Ransomware Attacks in Ag Industry The Food and Agriculture – Information Sharing and Analysis Center released its first annual report on ransomware incidents in the U.S. food and agriculture sector. The report shows that while there were fewer ransomware incidents in the industry than other sectors, ransomware actors have shown a level of sophistication and understanding of sector victims. The Food and AG-ISAC found 167 ransomware attacks against the sector out of 2,905 total ransomware incidents studied in 2023, which was 5.5 percent of all attacks. Ransomware hackers use malicious code to encrypt critical data so an organization cannot access files, databases, or applications, rendering systems unusable unless the victim pays a ransom. “Ransomware remains a serious threat to all business sectors, including the food and ag industry,” says Jonathan Braley, Director of the Food and Ag-ISAC. “Despite several hacker disruptions by law enforcement, cyber attackers often operate in countries that turn a blind eye to their efforts.” *********************************************************************************** AFBF to USDA: Restore NASS Surveys The American Farm Bureau urged USDA to reverse its decision to cancel livestock and crop surveys that are crucial to the success of America’s farmers and ranchers. The National Agricultural Statistics Service recently announced it would no longer provide a July cattle inventory survey, as well as county-level estimates for crops and livestock and the objective yield survey for cotton. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall sent a letter to USDA emphasizing the importance of the surveys, particularly the July cattle report. “NASS’s two reports regarding the total U.S. cattle inventory, published in January and July, give farmers, ranchers, researchers, and other data users a full picture of supplies in the U.S. cattle sector at the beginning and in the middle of each year,” he says. “This allows for a fair assessment of the cattle market for the next six months.” Eliminating the mid-year report will put the market in the dark. *********************************************************************************** Land O’ Lakes CEO in TIME’s Top 100 List TIME names Beth Ford, Land O’ Lakes president and CEO, to the 2024 TIME 100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The list recognizes the impact, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. “I’m honored to be mentioned among this impressive group of people,” Ford says. “Our farmers, cooperatives, and ag retailers carry the most risk in the food system.” She also says without investment in rural America, including its communities, businesses, and families, the interconnected global food chain is vulnerable. “We all owe so much to the grit, determination, and resilience of the people who feed us all,” she adds. Ford has held senior positions in seven companies in six industries. She leads by not only addressing and delivering financial performance but also by addressing the important global issues and structural changes that can improve areas directly impacted by food and agriculture. *********************************************************************************** Hormel Settles Price-Fixing Litigation Hormel Foods is the latest U.S. pork producer to reach a settlement in the ongoing allegations of a price-fixing conspiracy in the meat industry. In the first settlement round, Hormel will pay $2.43 million to the commercial indirect purchaser class in the case. “Meat and Poultry” says court documents reveal this is the third settlement between commercial and institutional indirect purchasers following earlier settlements with JBS and Smithfield Foods. The monetary relief in the case is now up to more than $57 million. The price-fixing litigation dates back to 2018. The allegations were consolidated and transferred to a Minnesota district judge in December 2022. Seaboards Foods LLC previously reached a settlement with plaintiffs in which it agreed to pay almost $10 million. Plaintiffs previously alleged that a group of pork processors who control 80 percent of the pork market manipulated the market in an attempt to keep a ceiling on prices. *********************************************************************************** House Ag Committee Plans Farm Bill Markup by Memorial Day House Ag Committee Chair Glenn Thompson says his committee will “without a doubt” mark up a farm bill before Memorial Day on May 27. After repeated delays in the farm bill process, Successful Farming reports that Republicans on the Senate Ag committee plan to release a farm bill framework shortly after the House panel takes action. However, Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow says the Senate hasn’t set a specific timeline to move the bill. A farm bill is six months overdue. Legislators say they’re working hard to pass a farm bill this year despite impasses on crop subsidies, climate, and SNAP cuts. “We’ll move on the bill when I know we can get it done,” Stabenow says. “I do see a path to doing that.” Thompson’s package will get released before the committee vote and will offer a robust farm safety net that’s strengthened with money drawn from a USDA reserve. *********************************************************************************** USDA Helps Increase Healthy Food Access USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl (so-CHEEL) Torres Small announced that the agency is partnering with Reinvestment Fund to help improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities. The partnership will help strengthen local food financing programs. “No matter where you live across America, you should be able to get affordable, fresh, and healthy food,” Torres Small says. “We’re working to strengthen local and regional food systems so affordable locally grown foods are available closer to home.” She also says USDA is proud to partner with Reinvestment Fund so even more people can find good food options anywhere they live, all while supporting local farmers and ranchers. Reinvestment Fund has selected 16 public-private partnerships to receive $40.3 million in grants under the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. It will help expand access to nutritious and affordable foods in up to 20 states and Washington, D.C. For more information on the partnerships, go to usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 18, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. U.S. existing homes sales in March and the U.S. index of leading indicators are both set for 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report at 9:30 a.m. Traders continue to monitor events in the Middle East with an Israeli attack on Iran looking more likely after Hezbollah attacked northern Israel Wednesday. Weather A strong cold front is moving into the Central Plains and western Midwest with areas of scattered showers. The front will continue to move south and east throughout the day. Some areas of severe storms will be possible from Texas into the Ohio Valley. Behind the front, temperatures are dropping and will be quite chilly going into the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 17, 2024 |


Agriculture Emissions Hit Lowest Level in Ten Years America’s farmers and ranchers lead the way in greenhouse gas emissions reduction through voluntary conservation efforts and market-based incentives. The Environmental Protection Agency released the “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2022.” The report shows that American agriculture reduced emissions by two percent from 2021 to 2022, the largest decrease of any economic sector. “The latest numbers demonstrate farmers’ and ranchers’ commitment to growing the food and fiber America’s families rely on while improving the land, air, and water, a benefit to the farm and climate,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. AFBF’s Market Intel report says U.S. agriculture represents just under ten percent of total U.S. emissions compared to other economic sectors. EPA says emissions from agriculture totaled 634 million metric tons in CO2 equivalents, or 9.99 percent of all emissions in 2022. That’s a 1.8 percent decrease or a drop of 12 million metric tons from 2021. *********************************************************************************** First HPAI Infection in Minnesota The first case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is now confirmed in Minnesota. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the first 2024 outbreak in Minnesota in a Meeker County flock. The current outbreak, confirmed on April 11, has affected 70,100 birds. Meeker County saw four outbreaks in commercial turkey flocks in 2023. Earlier this spring, the Minnesota Board of Health issued guidance for biosecurity measures to help all poultry owners in the state. “Poultry owners might be used to us sounding an alarm on HPAI this time of year and talking about how biosecurity can limit the impact of this disease,” says Shauna Voss, the senior veterinarian for the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. “This year, we’re taking a new approach, and instead of highlighting one disease, we’re highlighting one solution for many diseases, which is effective biosecurity.” Since 2022, the virus has affected 88.11 million birds. *********************************************************************************** Farmers Sue the Biden Administration On behalf of several Texas farmers, the Southeastern Legal Foundation and the Mountain States Legal Foundation filed a preliminary injunction regarding disaster payments. Specifically, they’re asking a federal court to stop the Biden Administration’s USDA from unconstitutionally and unlawfully funneling disaster and COVID-19 relief funds to certain farmers based on race and gender. Precision Risk Management says the plaintiffs are Alan and Amy West, Bryan Baker, and Rusty Strickland. They’ve owned their farms for decades and suffered from the effects of droughts and COVID-19. Rather than help them, USDA is harming them by favoring other producers at their expense based on factors like race and sex that were not authorized by Congress. USDA provides more money to “socially disadvantaged” farmers like women, American Indians, Asians, and many other groups. SLF is suing USDA on the plaintiffs’ behalf for violating the Fifth Amendment Equal Protection Clause and the Administrative Procedure Act. *********************************************************************************** Global Wheat Stocks Forecast at Eight-Year Low The USDA’s April Wheat Outlook shows global wheat ending stocks for 2023-2024 are projected down this month by 0.6 million metric tons to 258.3 million metric tons. The agency says that’s the lowest level in eight years. The biggest factor in this month’s decline is India’s wheat stocks, which are forecast down 2.1 million metric tons to 6.9 million metric tons. India’s government stocks estimates implied a stronger pace of use than previously expected. If this forecast is realized, India’s ending stocks will have declined more than 20 million metric tons from the peak of 27.8 million tons in 2020-2021. Global stocks have slipped 39 MMT from the peak level of 297 MMT in 2019-2020, with China estimated to account for 18 MMT of that decline. Total exporter-held ending stocks have been relatively consistent over the last several years, not showing the same declining trend as China and India’s stocks. *********************************************************************************** Ethanol Industry Grateful for Multi-National Recognition The U.S. ethanol industry expressed appreciation for the joint statement from President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida (Kih-SHEE-dah)on the importance of ethanol as a decarbonization solution. The leaders recognized ethanol as a solution within the transportation sectors in both their respective countries. In the statement on April 10, Biden and Kishida said, “We will advance widespread adoption of innovative new clean energy technologies and seek to increase the globally available supply of sustainable aviation fuel or feedstock, including those that are ethanol-based and show promise in reducing emissions.” The U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association issued a joint statement saying, “Our organizations appreciate the dedication and support of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the U.S. Trade Representative, and other government agencies in advocating for grain-based ethanol in their international discussions. It can be used immediately as a carbon-mitigation tool for the on-road, aviation, maritime, and biochemical sectors.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Workshops on a New Insurance Option The USDA’s Risk Management Agency has expanded the Nursery Value Select crop insurance program to all counties in all states and will host two virtual information workshops on Thursday, April 18. Start times are 1:00 p.m. CDT and 6:00 p.m. PDT for interested nursery producers who want to learn more about the program. These sessions will be valuable for producers in the newly expanded areas and especially for the Nursery Field Grown and Container crop insurance program, which ends with the 2026 crop year. The Nursery Value Select Insurance Program is a pilot program that allows nursery producers to select the dollar amount of coverage that best fits their needs. NVS, which is an asset-based form of insurance, covers damage due to, but not limited to, things like adverse weather conditions and fire. NVS is based on the existing nursery crop insurance program but has a simpler application and renewal process.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 17, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The Energy Department's weekly inventory report is set for 9:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday and includes ethanol production. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book follows at 1 p.m. USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook will be out at 2 p.m. Traders remain wary about possible retaliation from Israel after Iran's attack over the weekend. Weather A system that has brought some heavy rain to the western half of the Corn Belt this week will see showers being less widespread as it moves through the Great Lakes on Wednesday. However, some areas of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms are still possible. Behind it, a stronger cold front will be moving through the Northern Plains. It may not have a lot of showers until it reaches Nebraska Wednesday night, but it will be bringing through a burst of colder air that will spread out through the country.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 16, 2024 |


Marshall Eying Republican Majority for Farm Bill Senator Roger Marshall, over the weekend, suggested Congress should wait until a Republican-led Senate to create the next farm bill. The Kansas Republican told the Hagstrom Report Congress may need to pass another one-year extension instead, then write the next bill once Republicans take over the Senate, if they take over the Senate. Marshall made the comments on the sidelines of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission's 2024 Agricultural Commodity Futures Conference. Marshall says, "I think we will have a better farm bill for the farmer if we have a Republican majority [in the Senate] and a Republican president in the White House." In that scenario, Marshall claims the farm bill will be better for the farmer. Democrats are resistant to nutrition and climate-related conservation cuts to fund crop insurance programs. However, Marshall claims there must be cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program because “there are “healthy adult men who have not worked for years” receiving benefits. *********************************************************************************** TFI Releases Latest Report on Fertilizer Industry Sustainability The Fertilizer Institute Monday released new data highlighting industry improvement in sustainability performance of workforce safety, energy and the environment, fertilizer use, and industry innovation. TFI has collected data since 2013 on metrics that provide insight into the industry's sustainability efforts. The data announced Monday was gathered in 2023 and reflects industry operations in 2022. Participating members reported a total of 25 zero-discharge facilities, at which all wastewater is recycled. Farmers in the U.S. have a nitrogen use efficiency of 70 percent, which is much higher than the world average of 55 percent. The 2023 4R Advocates had an average of 100 percent nitrogen use efficiency. TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch says, "Each step of the supply chain is focused on doing more with fewer resources while limiting impacts on communities and the environment." The data includes metrics on segments of the fertilizer industry, including fertilizer use on farms, worker safety, energy and environment, and industry innovation. *********************************************************************************** Retail Food Price Inflation Varied Geographically in 2023 Retail food price inflation varied by locality in 2023, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. New data shows food-at-home, or grocery prices, rose the fastest last year in Houston, Texas, by 7.8 percent, followed by Boston, Massachusetts, at seven percent. In contrast, food-at-home prices declined by 1.3 percent in 2023 in Anchorage, Alaska, and rose by the lowest amount—1.7 percent—in Honolulu, Hawaii. Across the United States, food-at-home prices increased by 5.0 percent on average in 2023. Differences in retail overhead expenses, such as labor and rent, can explain some of the variation among cities, because retailers often pass local cost increases to consumers in the form of higher prices. Furthermore, differences in consumer purchasing patterns for specific foods may help explain variations in inflation rates among cities. Products that consumers purchase vary regionally, and each metro area’s inflation rate is calculated based on a representative set of foods unique to the area. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Pork Exports Continue to Surge in 2024 Exports of U.S. pork continued their robust growth in the first two months of 2024, according to recently released data by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Commerce. They increased ten percent in volume, to 502,585 metric tons, and ten percent in value, to $1.37 billion, over the same period last year. As it was for all of 2023, Mexico was the top destination for U.S. pork in January and February, totaling 196,452 metric tons, worth nearly $397 million, up 12 percent and 15 percent, respectively, from the same time in 2023. Exports accounted for $61.45 in average value from each hog marketed, which is the price producers received in January and February, up four percent from the same period in 2023, according to the National Pork Producers Council. Exports accounted for 25 percent of total production, an increase of 1.7 percent from the same month one year ago. *********************************************************************************** USDA Partners With Puerto Rico to Improve Food Supply Chain USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service Monday announced a cooperative agreement with Puerto Rico under the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program. USDA and Puerto Rico are working together to offer more than $3.5 million in competitive grant funding for projects designed to build resilience across the middle of the supply chain. Puerto Rico is accepting applications for this Infrastructure Grant funding through June 30, 2024. Using the funding, the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture will bolster the island's agricultural infrastructure with an emphasis on establishing advanced industrial processing facilities. The department will fund projects that expand processing capacity, support new wholesale product lines, increase packaging and labeling capacities, increase cold storage, and purchase specialized equipment and delivery vehicles. The island's priorities are informed by stakeholder engagement and outreach to underserved producers to understand their needs better. USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Undersecretary Jenny Lester Moffitt says, “The projects will create new opportunities for the region’s small and midsize producers to thrive.” *********************************************************************************** Gas Prices Higher Again, Diesel Lower The national average gas price increased again last week, climbing 3.1 cents from a week ago to $3.60 per gallon. The national average is up 14.2 cents from a month ago and 5.5 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average diesel price fell 1.2 cents last week and is $4.01 per gallon—16 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan cautions, "With Iran's attack on Israel over the weekend, the stakes couldn't have been higher for a major potential impact on oil and gasoline prices." "If Israel responds with further attacks, the move could push oil prices higher. However, motorists can expect other factors to influence what they're paying at the pump, such as the switch to summer gasoline. The switch could result in prices in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. to increase as much as 20 to 50 cents per gallon for gas.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 16, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on March U.S. housing starts will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday, followed by March industrial production at 8:15 a.m. Traders will continue to keep close watch on South American weather and events in the Middle East. Weather A strong storm system in the Plains continues northeast into the Midwest on Tuesday. The system has had a history of producing severe storms, which continues to be a threat Tuesday as well. Those in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri stand the best threat of that. Heavy rain that comes with these thunderstorms may slow down planting a bit but will help to increase soil moisture for early crop growth. Winds remain strong around the system as well, which is drying out soils in the southwestern Plains that were bypassed yet again.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 15, 2024 |


Senators Continue Pushing for Summertime E15 Waiver Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are calling on the administration to permit nationwide E15 sales this summer. They sent a letter underscoring the geopolitical importance of uninterrupted biofuel access and noted that the president directed the Environmental Protection Agency to issue summertime waivers in 2022 and 2023. “Enabling the year-round sale of E15 helped allow our energy supply chain to ‘address extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances’ caused by the war in Ukraine that are affecting all regions of the nation,” they said. “To counter these influences, we must pursue an all-of-the-above energy strategy, which includes leveraging domestic biofuels.” They also said as previous temporary waivers have proven, permitting the sale of higher blends of biofuels like E15 through the 2024 summer driving season bolsters domestic fuel supply, lowers consumer costs at the pump, and promotes the environmental benefits of American biofuels and modern agriculture. *********************************************************************************** FCA Board Gets Quarterly Update on Ag Conditions The Farm Credit Administration board received a quarterly report on economic issues affecting agriculture and an update on the financial conditions affecting agriculture. They also got an update on the financial condition and performance of the Farm Credit System. Interest rates remain high after recent inflation reports came in higher than expected, but rate cuts by the Federal Reserve are possible later in the year. Other measures of the economy are favorable, such as low and stable unemployment levels and economic growth. Agricultural producers are facing tightening margins, with cash receipts expected to decline this year and high input costs likely to persist. Crop prices have declined because of elevated supplies. Issues in the livestock industry include recovering from the Texas wildfires and recent HPAI infections in dairy cattle herds. Full earnings for the Farm Credit System were up compared to the prior year but provisions for credit losses increased. *********************************************************************************** Large Tractor Sales Increase Again For the second straight month, unit sales of 100-plus horsepower ag tractors increased in the U.S. New data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says March sales jumped 3.2 percent compared to last year, following February’s increase of 2.8 percent compared to 2023. Total year-to-date sales of ag tractors and combines are below 2023’s pace. Tractors are down 13.3 percent while combines fell 20.4 percent. “Seeing the continued growth in 100-plus horsepower tractor sales is a welcome sight as 2024 progresses, despite the softness in other tractor sizes,” says AEM Senior Vice President Curt Blades. “As we start the planting season, we’re optimistic about the future of the ag equipment market.” Unit sales of 100-plus horsepower tractors also grew in Canada during March, rising 2.7 percent compared to 2023. Four-wheel drive ag tractor unit sales jumped 27.3 percent compared to last year and are up 11 percent year-to-date compared to 2023. *********************************************************************************** Forest Service Invests in Rural Communities The USDA’s Forest Service announced it’s issuing more than $232 million to support public schools, roads, and other municipal services through the agency’s Secure Rural Schools Program. As the agency invests in ways for forests to generate more economic opportunities in rural areas, it also aims to support the quality of life in those communities. “National forests and grasslands cover more than 193 million acres, including across rural counties that are important partners in helping sustainably manage resources,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Secure Rural Schools program is able to contribute to the economic vitality and well-being of the communities intertwined with our forests.” Forest Service Chief Randy Moore says the Secure Rural Schools Program is just one of the ways the Forest Service supports communities nationwide. “This funding aids schools and roads, reimburses counties for national forest emergency services, and assists in creating community wildfire protection plans,” Moore says. *********************************************************************************** Brazil Could Expand Cropland by 35 Percent Brazil is a major soybean, corn, and cotton grower but could expand its crop area by more than a third. Successful Farming says Brazil could do that by converting overgrazed or overgrown pastureland says a research agency in Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture. A team of university economists say besides the potential addition of 70 million acres of cropland, Brazil could also increase production by devoting more land to second-crop corn. “The potential for Brazil to expand its agricultural output through converting degraded pastureland into cropland is huge,” the U.S. analysts said while writing in Farmdoc. “With approximately 70 million acres identified as suitable for conversion, Brazil could increase its total planted area by 35 percent compared to this year.” There are currently 45 million acres of “degraded” pastureland in four states that are leading corn and soybean producers in Brazil. Experts say Brazil has a lot of unfarmed land with potential. *********************************************************************************** Weekly Corn Export Sales Decline USDA data shows export sales dropped to a marketing year low in the seven days that ended on April 4, although soybean and wheat sales increased. Corn sales dropped 325,500 metric tons, down 66 percent week to week and 72 percent from the prior four-week average. The agency says that’s the lowest level since the marketing year began on September 1. Japan was the big buyer at 221,100 metric tons, followed by Mexico and South Korea. Weekly exports for the week hit 1.56 million tons, down five percent from the previous week. Soybean sales to overseas buyers rose to 305,300 metric tons, a three percent drop from the average for this time of year. Mexico bought 172,600 tons. Exports totaled 503,400 tons, eight percent lower than the prior week. Wheat sales for export totaled 80,700 metric tons, higher than the prior week’s 16,100 tons but two percent below the average.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 15, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Cattle Numbers, Storm Front Top the Watch List 1. Crop Progress update: Monday's USDA NASS' weekly national Crop Progress report, due out at 3 p.m., will be of interest as there was a bit more field activity this past week where rains didn't keep tractors parked. We'll compare the progress with previous years' early April activity. 2. Cattle on Feed Friday: Latest cattle numbers will hit midday Friday, and we'll have both expectations in a preview piece early in the week as well as the report and professional analysis of it later Friday. S 3. More precipitation in forecast: As much of the country headed into a warmer, but windy, weekend, DTN meteorologists are watching a trough off the West Coast that will move eastward during the weekend and into the middle of the country early the week of April 14th. That storm is likely to produce widespread precipitation, strong winds, severe storms, and areas of snow as it slowly moves across the country throughout the week. 4. Wheat conditions improve: We'll track additional reports from wheat country as that crop begins to kick off spring growth. 5. Economic reports this week: Monday kicks off with the 7:30 a.m. release of U.S. Retail Sales, then at 9 a.m. we'll see Business Inventories and Home Builder Confidence Index. At 10 a.m., weekly Grain Inspections report is due, followed by 11 a.m. release of the Oil Crops Outlook. At 2 p.m. is the Feed and Wheat Crop outlooks, then at 3 p.m. is the USDA NASS' Crop Progress report, followed by our full analysis of the reports. Tuesday the general economic condition reports include the 7:30 a.m. release of U.S. Housing Starts and Building Permits. At 8:15 a.m. is the Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization numbers. â?¯Wednesday we'll see the 10 a.m. release of Weekly Petroleum Status report from EIA, including ethanol data.â?¯ At 2 p.m. the Broiler Hatchery report is released. Thursday starts with 7:30 a.m. release of Grain Export Sales and Initial Jobless Claims.â?¯ At 9 a.m., Existing Home Sales and U.S. Leading Economic Indicators is out, with the Weekly Economic Index hitting at 10:30 a.m. On Friday, at 2 p.m., the Cattle on Feed report is released, followed by DTN analysis of the report. The CFTC Commitment of Traders report surfaces at 2:30 PM.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 15, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will keep close watch over the latest weather forecasts and check news updates from the Middle East. A report on March U.S. retail sales is set for 7:30 a.m. CDT Monday. USDA's report of weekly export inspections is at 10 a.m. The National Oilseeds Processors Association will have an estimate of members' soybean crush in March later Monday morning. NASS's weekly Crop Progress report is at 3 p.m. with the first estimates of soybean plantings to be included. Weather A storm system in the Rockies will move out into the Plains on Monday. Winds are increasing ahead of it and could create some additional risks of wildfires where it has been dry. Scattered severe thunderstorms are expected to form in the Plains as well, with large hail being the most likely hazard.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 12, 2024 |


April WASDE Calls for Lower Corn and Higher Soybean Ending Stocks The April World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report predicts lower corn and higher soybean ending stocks. The 2023-2024 U.S. corn outlook is for greater corn used for ethanol, feed, and residual use. With no supply changes and use rising, ending stocks dropped 50 million bushels to 2.1 million. The season-average farm price is lowered five cents to $4.70 a bushel. The U.S. soybean outlook includes lower imports, residual use, exports, and higher ending stocks. With trade changes and slightly lower residual use, soybean ending stocks were raised 25 million bushels to 340 million. The season-average soybean price is forecast at $12.55 a bushel, down ten cents. The supply and demand outlook for U.S. wheat is for lower supplies, reduced domestic use, unchanged exports, and higher ending stocks, which are raised 25 million bushels to 698 million, 22 percent above 2023. The season-average farm price is down five cents at $7.10. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Ethanol Industry Comments on Brazilian Ethanol Tariffs The U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association jointly submitted comments to the Brazilian Chamber of Foreign Trade regarding the Brazilian tariff on imported U.S. ethanol. In October 2023, Brazil’s association of fuel importers formally requested the government drop the ethanol duties because data showed the tariff raised fuel costs for Brazil’s domestic consumers. In anticipation of the open comment period, the three organizations mobilized a number of industry stakeholders to seek a permanent removal of Brazil’s tariff on imported U.S. ethanol. As of January 1, 2024, the current duty stands at 18 percent, while Brazilian ethanol imported into the U.S. enjoys free access to the American market. In their comments, the groups say, “We’d like to stress that the U.S. industry will continue to advocate for restrictive measures to entry for Brazilian ethanol into the U.S. if the Brazilian government doesn’t rethink the current tariff policies.” *********************************************************************************** Survey on Farmers and Sustainable Practices McKinsey and Company research reveals that a vast majority of American farmers have an understanding of sustainable farming. While 90 percent of farmers understand the practices, the uptake remains low. Even where farmers are adopting sustainable practices, they are only implementing them on a small share of their acreage, typically under 30 percent. The survey shows a positive outlook for the future of sustainable farming as farmers are willing to adopt the practices. Some major barriers to adoption remain, including obtaining a market premium for sustainably grown crops and implementation difficulties. Adoption of practices is correlated with perceived return on investment. Practices with the highest perceived ROI, such as applying fertilizer based on soil sampling, have the highest adoption rates. Practices that require only behavioral changes, such as reduced or no-till, have the highest adoption levels at 68 percent. Despite the perceived benefits of sustainable practices, farmers expect costs to remain high. *********************************************************************************** Republicans Propose a Crop Insurance Subsidy Boost The University of Illinois’ Farm Policy News says Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee proposed putting $4 billion into the national crop insurance program. That means the government would pay a larger share of the policy premiums for the highest coverage levels. The plan, called the FARMER Act, would inject $4.2 billion over ten years. Premium support for revenue and yield protection at the 80 percent coverage level would rise from 68 to 77 percent. At the 85 percent coverage level, protection would increase from 53 to 68 percent. The proposed increases would only be provided to enterprises and whole farm units. The plan counters an earlier suggestion on crop insurance from Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow, who said her proposal was just intended to jump-start negotiations on the farm bill, and she’s “glad it worked.” AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “The FARMER Act will make higher coverage more affordable.” *********************************************************************************** Iowa Takes Action on Foreign Land Ownership Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law new reporting requirements and harsher penalties related to foreign land ownership in Iowa. Reynolds says Iowa plays an important role in America’s food chain, and when Iowa speaks on threats to American agriculture, the country listens. “American soil belongs in American hands,” Reynolds says. The law grants the Iowa attorney general more powers related to foreign land ownership. Those powers include the ability to subpoena foreign landowners for financial records and land purchase agreements for investigations into potential violations of foreign farmland owner restrictions. Foreign landowners would be required to provide details to the state about their land owned in other states if it’s more than 250 acres. It also requires the Iowa Secretary of State to file an annual report on foreign farmland ownership in Iowa for consideration by state officials. The law also raises the fine levels on violations for reporting requirements. *********************************************************************************** USDA Sets Date for Pecan Referendum The USDA will conduct a referendum May 10 through June 24 for eligible domestic pecan producers and importers to decide whether to continue their research and promotion program. Current producers that have domestically produced 50,000 pounds of in-shell pecans or 25,000 pounds of shelled pecans from October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023, are eligible to vote in the referendum. Importers who have brought in 50,000 pounds of in-shell pecans or 25,000 pounds of shelled pecans during the same period can also vote in the referendum. The order will continue if it is favored by the majority of domestic producers and importers voting in the referendum who have been engaged in the production or importing of pecans. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will conduct the referendum by express mail and electronic ballot. AMS staff will express mail ballots and voting instructions to all known eligible pecan producers and importers during the voting period.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 12, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for April is due out at 9 a.m. CDT Friday. Traders will keep watch over the weather forecasts in South America and other major crop areas. Any further fighting in the Middle East or Ukraine will also continue to get attention. Weather A storm system continues to slowly push through the Northeast on Friday while another is just off the West Coast. Winds will still be breezy in the East for Friday while quieter conditions will be felt in the middle of the country.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 11, 2024 |


House Ag Chair Intends on Farm Bill Markup in May House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn GT Thompson says "without a doubt," the farm bill will be out of his committee by Memorial Day. Speaking exclusively to Agri-Pulse, The Pennsylvania Republican says he found a way to fund commodity program changes, adding, "it's going to allow us to do what we know needs to be done in terms of safety net issues." Getting a five-year farm bill across the finish line remains the priority for agriculture, following last years' one-year extension of the 2018 farm bill. However, lawmakers in the Senate, like Senator Chuck Grassley, are not optimistic. Grassley said to reporters this week, "What they need is a five-year extension, but I'm very pessimistic about there being an agreement in the Senate on a bipartisan farm bill this year." While the House may ultimately pass a bill, Grassley adds, "I don't think you should assume that that's got much to do with what's happening in the United States Senate.” *********************************************************************************** March Consumer Price Index: Small Increases in Food Prices The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.4 percent in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, the same increase as in February. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.5 percent before seasonal adjustment. The food index increased 0.1 percent in March, while the food at home index was unchanged. Both indexes were unchanged in February. Three of the six major grocery store food group indexes decreased over the month while the remaining three had price advances. The cereals and bakery products index decreased 0.9 percent over the month, the largest 1-month seasonally adjusted decrease ever reported in the series. The food away from home index rose 0.3 percent in March, after rising 0.1 percent in February. The food at home index rose 1.2 percent over the last 12 months, while the index for food away from home rose 4.2 percent over the last year, and the overall food index has increased 2.2 percent over the last year. *********************************************************************************** EPA Finalizes PFAS Drinking Water Limits The Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday finalized PFAS drinking water limits, a move the agency claims will protect 100 million people from PFAS pollution. Farmers and ranchers do not produce PFAS; however, these chemicals can be found in the water that is provided to their livestock and crops. In certain areas of the country, PFAS levels have risen in milk, beef, and row crops, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. EPA is taking steps to protect public health by establishing legally enforceable levels for several PFAS known to occur individually and as mixtures in drinking water. This rule sets limits for five individual substances. EPA estimates that between about six percent and ten percent of the 66,000 public drinking water systems subject to this rule may have to take action to reduce PFAS to meet these new standards. All public water systems have three years to complete their initial monitoring for these chemicals. *********************************************************************************** APHIS Supports Projects to Control and Prevent Chronic Wasting Disease USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service this week announced the availability of more than $12 million to control and prevent chronic wasting disease in wild and farmed deer and elk. CWD is an infectious, degenerative disease of cervids that causes brain cells to die, ultimately leading to the death of the affected animal. The incubation period can be lengthy, and infected animals may look healthy until the end stages of the disease, making it difficult to distinguish them from healthy animals. Animals infected with CWD can transmit the disease to other animals during the "silent" incubation period. The disease has spread widely, and the limited number of tools and their efficacy impact the ability to control the disease effectively. Eligible applicants may submit multiple proposals for each funding opportunity, requesting up to the maximum amount for that funding opportunity in each proposal. The funding opportunity announcements are posted on Grants.gov. Applications are due on June 10, 2024. *********************************************************************************** National Sorghum Producers Seeks New Leaders for Board of Directors National Sorghum Producers has opened applications for two positions on the 2024 board of directors. NSP is looking for new producer leaders who are passionate about advancing the crop and shaping the future of the sorghum industry. NSP Chairman Craig Meeker says, “We are eager to welcome new voices, ideas and perspectives that will help usher in a new era for our industry.” Board members are instrumental in advancing policies and building relationships that benefit sorghum farmers and the industry. Candidates should be NSP members passionate about advocacy and fundraising, with a vision to advance the industry. No prior board experience is necessary to apply. Applications are due Friday, May 10, 2024. After the application deadline, the NSP Nominating Committee will review all applications before making nominations to the NSP Board of Directors. Selected members will serve a three-year term, beginning October 1, 2024—the start of NSP’s fiscal year. For the application and more information, visit SorghumGrowers.com. *********************************************************************************** USDA Seeks Nominees for Christmas Tree Promotion Board The Department of Agriculture is seeking nominations for the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. Four seats on the board are available, with terms beginning January 1, 2025, ending December 31, 2027. Eligible nominees must have produced domestically or imported more than 500 Christmas trees during the fiscal period of August 1, 2022 – July 31, 2023. The Christmas Tree Promotion Board seeks nominees for the following seats: two Region #1 - Western Region Producers, one Region #3 - Eastern Region Producer, and one Importer. Throughout the full nomination process, the industry must conduct extensive outreach, paying particular attention to reaching underserved communities, and consider the diversity of the population served and the knowledge, skills and abilities of the members to serve a diverse population. The board is made up of 12 industry members including eleven producers and one importer. Election and nomination details can be found on the board’s website at www.realchristmastreeboard.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 11, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, producer prices for March and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report is at 9:30 a.m. USDA's WASDE report is due out at 11 a.m. Weather A storm system is moving through the Midwest on Thursday and bringing widespread showers and thunderstorms through the eastern half of the country. Some severe storms will be possible as will be heavy rain that could produce some localized flooding. Breezy winds are also developing behind the system.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 10, 2024 |


NASS Discontinues July Cattle Report and Other Reports USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service announced Tuesday that it is canceling the July Cattle report and discontinuing the Cotton Objective Yield Survey and all County Estimates for Crops and Livestock beginning with the 2024 production year. The decision to discontinue these surveys and reports was not made lightly but was necessary, given the appropriated budget levels, according to the announcement. In response, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association urged the agency to reconsider. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, "It is disingenuous for the same agency which touts its commitment to transparency in livestock markets to arbitrarily cease publication of reports which provide just that." NCBA contends that the July Cattle Report and discontinuing the County Estimates for Crops and Livestock provide critical data to the industry. USDA NASS says it has and will continue to review its estimating programs using criteria focused on the needs of its mission and customers to prioritize budget decisions. *********************************************************************************** ASI, NCBA Release Public Grazing Guidance for FMD Outbreaks Two leading livestock industry groups announced guidance for public land grazing in the event of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. The American Sheep Industry Association and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association announced the framework Tuesday. The guidance provides resources to livestock producers to voluntarily prepare before an FMD outbreak. Using "real-time" scenario exercises, guidance was improved to provide decision makers with necessary information to ensure animal needs and response goals are met. Some decision criteria include assessing adequate feed/water, mitigating interactions with wildlife, and implementing just-in-time biosecurity. ASI President Brad Boner says, "With about half of the U.S. ewe inventory that seasonally graze on permitted federal grazing lands, this project provides needed information for ranchers and decision makers." NCBA and ASI developed the guidance through two years of virtual and in-person meetings with an advisory group of sheep and cattle producers who hold federal grazing permits. Find the guidance online at securesheepwool.org or securebeef.org. *********************************************************************************** Grassley to Schumer: Put the Farm Bill on the Senate Agenda Senator Chuck Grassley calls on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to move forward with a bipartisan Farm Bill in short order. Grassley is urging the Majority Leader to hold true to his commitment to seek compromise with Republicans by passing a five-year Farm Bill reauthorization this year. The Iowa Republican says, "Farmers across the United States deserve the stability of a new five-year Farm Bill," as opposed to another one-year extension. Last week, Schumer sent a letter to Senate colleagues, including your plans for the coming weeks and months for the Senate, saying, "Democrats have an ambitious agenda to help the American people." In a letter Tuesday to Schumer, Grassley pointed out the Farm Bill’s notable absence from Schumer’s recent outline of the Senate’s agenda. Additionally, as the Farm Bill has been sidelined, Grassley notes that other important bills that may otherwise have been considered in the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee have been stalled. *********************************************************************************** NMPF, IDFA Concerned with Final WIC Rule Reducing Access to Dairy The National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association expressed disappointment in Tuesday's final rule to update the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC. The final rule maintains the proposed rule's cuts to dairy in the WIC food packages. WIC is a vital program ensuring that pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children have access to key nutrients that may be lacking in their diets, so decreasing the amount of dairy decreases the nutrients they are accessing through it. NMPF president and CEO Gregg Doud responded, “This rule works against the WIC Program’s goal of ensuring all Americans have consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable foods.” Milk, cheese, and yogurt are three of the five top redeemed items through WIC, according to NMPF and IDFA. While disappointed in the cuts to the dairy allotments the groups appreciate the rule’s requirement that states offer lactose-free milk and a wider selection of product package sizes. *********************************************************************************** USDA Trade Mission to Pinpoint New Opportunities for U.S. Agribusinesses in India Undersecretary Alexis M. Taylor will lead a Department of Agriculture agribusiness trade mission to New Delhi, India, April 22-25. The delegation of 47 businesses, organizations, and officials from 11 state departments of agriculture speaks volumes about the export sales opportunity the world's most populous country represents for U.S. food and agricultural producers, according to USDA. Taylor says, "India represents a growth economy for U.S. agribusinesses seeking to capture an increasing share of the household food purchases in the fifth-largest economy in the world." Last year, India reduced tariff requirements for U.S. poultry products, vegetables, fruits, pulses, and tree nuts – strengthening the agribusiness trade relationship between the United States and India. While on the trade mission, participants will engage in business-to-business meetings and site visits to build new trade linkages, strengthen existing partnerships, observe U.S. products in the marketplace, and discover the latest Indian consumer food trends. Participants will also receive in-depth market briefings from USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. *********************************************************************************** Nutrien Announces Multi-Year Commitment to the National FFA Organization Nutrien Ag Solutions recently announced a multi-year commitment of nearly $850,000 to the National FFA Organization in support of its commitment to shape future agriculture leaders. The yearly donation of $282,500 supports a variety of National FFA Organization programs and events during the three years, from 2024 to 2026. The support includes Future Farmers of America members in competitive events, assisting FFA advisors in their professional development, as well as providing National FFA Officers with a $10,000 scholarship at the end of their year of service. In addition, the donations will also support alumni chapter grants. National FFA Foundation President Molly Ball says, “Nutrien Ag Solutions has been unwavering in its support and continues to see the potential leaders in our members and advisors.” Nutrien Ag Solutions provides crop inputs and services, providing solutions through a global Retail network of trusted crop consultants at more than 2,000 locations.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 10, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's consumer price index for March will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. Minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting are set for 2 p.m., the same time as the Treasury Department's monthly report on the federal budget for March and USDA's release of Historical Crop Production. Weather A storm system that has already brought flooding rain to portions of the Delta region this week continues to develop on Wednesday across the same area. In addition to the heavy rain, severe weather looks likely near the Gulf Coast as well. The storm system will move northeast into the Midwest Wednesday night and into Thursday, spreading rainfall to more areas of the country.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 9, 2024 |


Coalition Formed to Advocate for Access to Crop Protection Tools Grower and industry groups from across the country have joined together to support a new coalition, the Modern Ag Alliance. The coalition seeks to protect farmers' access to critical crop protection tools to ensure a robust and affordable food supply. Working alongside federal and state policymakers, more than 60 diverse agriculture organizations, led by Bayer, have aligned to voice their support for legislative solutions that ensure consistency in labeling and the continued domestic availability of innovations for farming. The Modern Ag Alliance is working with agricultural partners and policymakers nationwide to reinforce the importance of science-based regulation. Specifically, the need to ensure any pesticide registered with the EPA - and sold under a label consistent with the EPA's own determinations - is sufficient to satisfy requirements for health and safety warnings. Jess Christiansen, Head of Crop Science Communications for Bayer, says, "Farmers need these critical innovations now more than ever - and certainty to ensure the continued long-term availability of products like glyphosate." *********************************************************************************** CropLife International Joines Calls for Action over Illicit Pesticide Sales CropLife International recently joined calls for greater control measures and enforcement regarding the online sale of illicit pesticides. The move follows a report by the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade regarding counterfeit and illicit crop protection products on e-commerce platforms. The report, Tackling the Sale of Illicit Pesticides on E-Commerce Platforms, highlights the presence of counterfeit and illicit crop protection products across all major e-commerce platforms and points to the large gap between the platforms' stated policies, their enforcement, and how lawmakers are regulating online sales. As the global association for the plant-science industry, CropLife International worked with the alliance in developing the report, and is committed to supporting their calls to implement the recommendations it contains. CropLife International President and CEO Emily Rees adds, “This puts the spotlight on the platforms to step up and ensure that the purpose for which these products are designed - to nurture and protect agriculture - is not turned on its head through illegal activity on e-commerce.” *********************************************************************************** Report: Missouri Farmers Facing Lower Spring Income The University of Missouri predicts another decline in net farm income this spring. The 2024 Missouri Farm Income Outlook offers a state-level glimpse at projected farm financial indicators, including farm receipts, production expenses and other components that affect net farm income. Projections from the report suggest that declining market receipts and lower crop prices play a role in the estimated $0.8 billion decrease in net farm income for 2024. Scott Brown of the University says, "Although decreased production expenses offer some relief, reduced livestock inventories and lower crop prices are impacting Missouri producers — leading to the projection of lower farm receipts in 2024," Production expenses are forecast to decrease by 5 percent this year. According to the report, Missouri's net farm income is projected to drop 18 percent in 2024, compared to an estimated 25.5% decrease in U.S. net farm income. Looking ahead, the report estimates that Missouri's net farm income will increase in 2025 and 2026. *********************************************************************************** Food Insecurity in U.S. Households Varies Across Race and Ethnicity New data from USDA's Economic Research Service finds that food insecurity varies across races and ethnicities. Researchers say that from 2016 to 2021, 11.1 percent of U.S. households experienced food insecurity, meaning they had difficulty providing enough food for all their members because of a lack of resources. Over the same period, 4.3 percent of U.S. households experienced very low food security, a more severe form of food insecurity in which food intake is reduced and eating patterns are disrupted. Households headed by a reference person who identified as American Indian and Alaska Native, Multiracial—American Indian-White, Black, Multiracial—All Other Combinations, Multiracial—Black-White, Hispanic, and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, had significantly higher rates of food insecurity than the all-household average. Prevalence of very low food security followed a similar pattern and was statistically significantly different from the all-household prevalence for most race and ethnicity categories. *********************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Contestants Vie for $100K The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, is seeking entrepreneurs to apply online by June 15 for the 2025 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. Now in its 11th year, this national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies developing innovative solutions to challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. The overall winner of the competition will receive $100,000 in startup funds, the runner-up will be awarded $25,000 and two additional business owners who advance to the final four round will receive $10,000. Farm Bureau is offering a total of $145,000 in startup funds throughout the course of the competition. After the application period closes, ten semi-finalist teams will be selected and announced on Sept. 3. Next, the ten semi-finalist teams will pitch virtually to compete for a spot in the final four round of the contest. Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on June 15. Learn more at fb.org. *********************************************************************************** Gas, Diesel, Higher in the Last Week After a week in which the national average held unchanged, gas prices resumed their climb, rising 6.5 cents compared to a week ago at $3.57 per gallon. The national average is up 17.1 cents from a month ago but 0.8 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average diesel price increased 3.1 cents in the last week and stands at $4.02 per gallon—15 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan says, "With oil prices rising to nearly $87 per barrel last week, their highest since October, we are not only facing the seasonal factors that push prices up—refinery maintenance, the switch to summer gasoline, and rising demand—but also escalating crude oil prices." As OPEC maintains strict output cuts, oil prices have continued to find support, climbing on geopolitical escalations in the Middle East and worry about Israel and Iran attacking each other amidst rising global demand.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 9, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no significant reports set for Tuesday, but traders will be watching South American weather forecasts and anything else that might get the markets' attention. USDA's next WASDE report will be out Thursday at 11 a.m. CDT. Weather A system in northern Mexico will lead to scattered rain showers and strong to severe thunderstorms from Texas into the Southern Delta Tuesday. Areas of heavy rainfall and flooding are possible in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi Tuesday as rainfall could approach 3-4 inches across parts of these states.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 8, 2024 |


Food Prices Halt Seven-Month Decline The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Price Index was 118.3 points in March, up 1.3 points or 1.1 percent from its revised February level. The rise in prices was driven by higher price indices for vegetable oils, dairy products, and meat. That slightly more than offset decreases in those for sugar and cereals. Before the uptick in March following a seven-month-long decline, the index was down almost 10 points from the same time last year. The biggest rise was in the Vegetable Oil Price Index, which averaged 130.6 points in March, up 9.7 points or eight percent from February, and reached its highest average in a year. The biggest drop was in the Sugar Price Index, which averaged 133.1 points in March, down 7.6 points or 5.4 percent from February after two consecutive monthly increases. However, it’s still 6.1 points above its value from a year ago. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Trade Gap Hits $68 Billion In February, America's trade deficit reached $68.9 billion, the highest disparity in almost a year. The Hill says import values exceeded exports by more than analysts were expecting. The total value of imports hit $331.9 billion, while exports were $263 billion, and the overall deficit rose 1.9 percent during the month. Republicans on Capitol Hill have expressed frustration with what they call an unambitious trade strategy and inadequate initiatives undertaken by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. While they expect trade fluctuations, Republican senators wrote to Tai saying the current sharp decline in America’s agricultural exports is directly attributable to a trade strategy that doesn’t meaningfully expand market access or reduce barriers to trade. February trade data shows a year-to-year decline of $729 million in the foods, feeds, and beverages category of national exports. Soybean exports dropped by $1.9 billion, wheat dropped by $429 million, and dairy products by $97 million. *********************************************************************************** AFT is Looking for Influencers American Farmland Trust is calling for agricultural influencers working in corn, soy, wheat, cotton, and dairy systems to apply for the chance to attend AFT’s Advanced Soil Health Training. It’s a one-year training course made up of four two-day training sessions in the Midwest, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, New York, and New England. Influencers are soil-health successful farmers and other agricultural professionals who are ready to become Soil Health Advisors to farmers looking to implement climate-smart practices. The training is intended to scale up the adoption of climate-smart practices by establishing trained leaders in farming communities who can provide technical guidance and facilitate learning. AFT says the Advanced Soil Health Training Program is designed for farmers and farm advisors who share an interest in improving soil health. Participants will improve their understanding of the science of soil health, soil health practices, troubleshooting, adapting strategies, and how to effectively communicate about practice adoption. *********************************************************************************** AFB Honors 20th Women’s Boot Camp Graduates Fifteen farm and ranch women leaders graduated from the spring session of the Women’s Communications Boot Camp hosted by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The agricultural leaders completed an intensive four-day course that featured hands-on sessions focused on public speaking, working with the media, and messaging. Program graduates will use their training to strategically support the Farm Bureau’s priority issues. This includes participating in local media opportunities, sharing information with elected officials, and joining social media campaigns that spotlight modern agriculture. “Boot Camp class members are ‘all-in’ when it comes to teamwork, supporting one another, networking, and thoughtfully considering how what they’ve learned relates to agricultural advocacy,’ says Isabella Chism (CHIZ-um), chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee. “They’ve been both fully present and forward-thinking about how to apply their skills to benefit agriculture’s future.” AFB President Zippy Duvall says,” We’re proud to recognize the women who completed this training.” *********************************************************************************** Export Sales Down Across the Board The USDA says sales of soybeans and grains to overseas buyers dropped during the week ending on March 28. Soybean sales dropped to 194,200 metric tons, down 26 percent from the previous week and 54 percent from the prior four-week average. The report says China was the big buyer at 154,000 metric tons, followed by Egypt and the Netherlands. Exports for the week dropped 30 percent to 549,000 tons. Corn sales for export were down 21 percent from the previous week and four-week average to 948,000 tons. Japan bought 339,000 tons, followed by Mexico and Colombia. Exports for the week reached 1.64 million tons, the highest amount since the marketing year began, and up 33 percent over the prior week. Wheat sales reached 16,000 tons, down 95 percent week-to-week and 89 percent from the four-week average. USDA said exports of wheat rose 27 percent during the week to 518,000 tons. *********************************************************************************** AFN Sets Criteria for Regenerative Beef Production The American Farmers Network has established and implemented criteria for regeneratively raised beef standards throughout its network of family ranchers. AFN already has USDA approval to use the Regenerative Agriculture claim on its packaging for products currently being distributed throughout retail chains nationwide. That means they’re perfectly situated to pioneer the development of comprehensive certification criteria for regenerative grass-fed beef production across the entire beef category. The collaboration between AFN and third-party certifying organizations will mark a significant step toward establishing transparent and concise certification standards for the beef industry. Drawing from the principles of regenerative agriculture, which prioritizes soil health, biodiversity, and animal welfare, AFN aims to provide consumers with transparent and trustworthy meat choices. American Farmers Network says it believes better meat should be accessible to everyone. Through partnerships, AFN is hoping to incentivize more producers to adopt regenerative farming practices and nurture a more sustainable agricultural landscape.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 8, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will be monitoring the latest weather forecasts, especially from South America. USDA's report of weekly export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CDT Monday, followed by NASS's weekly Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Weather Light rain showers or a mix of rain and snow will continue across the Midwest Monday as a disturbance exits the North-Central U.S. Meanwhile, another disturbance will provide scattered, heavy rain showers and severe thunderstorms across Texas, southern Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas later today.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 5, 2024 |


NCGA: No Duties on Key Herbicide Imports Growers need reliable access to essential farming tools. National Corn Growers Association President Harold Wolle warned the U.S. International Trade Commission of the consequences for America’s farmers if the agency grants a petition for levying tariffs on imported 2,4-D, an herbicide that’s been on the market for decades. “This scenario under consideration has the potential to limit imports of an important product, raise its price, and create a supply shortage, all while raising the cost of production in an already tight market,” Wolle says. “Farmers are price takers, not makers in selling commodities, and closely managing production costs is crucial to success. Thus, tariffs on these products would create an even more difficult economic scenario for me, my family, and the farmers I represent.” Wolle’s testimony comes after Corteva, Inc., filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions with the ITC on March 14 over India and China’s trade practices involving the herbicide. *********************************************************************************** HPAI Infection Found in Ohio Dairy Cattle The Ohio Department of Agriculture received confirmation that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has been found in an Ohio dairy herd. The state’s Department of Agriculture says it’s the first case of HPAI in an Ohio livestock operation. The dairy operation received cows from a Texas dairy on March 8, which was the same dairy that later reported a confirmed HPAI detection in Texas. Ohio’s animal health officials were notified when the livestock began showing clinical signs compatible with sick, lactating dairy cows in other states. The USDA, Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, and state veterinary health officials are investigating the emerging illness among dairy cattle that’s causing decreased lactation, low appetite, and other symptoms. The FDA and CDC say there is no concern about the safety of commercially pasteurized dairy products due to federal health requirements and pasteurization. The public health risk associated with HPAI remains low. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Fills Beef Tariff Quota in Record Time The U.S. quota for low-tariff beef imports in Japan was filled by the end of February. Nikkei (NEE-kay) Asia says that’s the fastest rate since 2020. That’s not good news for Japan either. The rest of the year, beef imports are subject to higher tariffs, which means Japan will face challenges to increasing exports of its premium Wagyu beef supplies. The import quota resets yearly on January 1. The import quota has already reached the 65,005-ton limit and closed on February 27. Brazil also shipped beef to the U.S. ahead of the new year. Because of soaring inflation, Brazil aggressively marketed its lower-cost beef. That means Japan and Brazil appear to have used up their tariff quota in the first two months of the year, which is two months sooner than in 2023. The shared quota has no country or region-specific caps and is effectively a first-come, first-served system, creating intense competition. *********************************************************************************** $1.5 Billion Available for Conservation and Climate-Smart Ag Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that $1.5 billion is available in fiscal year 2024 to invest in partner-driven conservation and climate solutions through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The USDA is accepting project proposals now through July 2 that will help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners adopt and expand conservation strategies to enhance natural resources while tackling the climate crisis. The projects in turn can save farmers money, create new revenue streams, and increase productivity. These investments are estimated to support over 180,000 farms and over 225 million acres in the next five years. “We had unprecedented demand for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program last year, showing the robust interest in conservation from farmers and ranchers,” Vilsack says. “Through the Inflation Reduction Act, we’re able to invest even more this year in this important program, increasing our impact across the landscape.” NRCS will host four webinars to provide additional information. *********************************************************************************** Michigan Growers Approve R&D Continuation Michigan’s apple, cherry, peach, and plum producers have approved a referendum to continue the Michigan Tree Fruit Research and Development Program. Established in 2014, the Michigan Tree Fruit Research and Development Program was developed to improve the economic position and competitiveness of the tree fruit industry by supporting the fruit research stations, research, and extension programs. The program is a public body independent of the Michigan Ag Department and comprised of nine tree fruit producers appointed to the positions. The program will continue an additional five years and end on March 31, 2029. Michigan tree fruit may be assessed at a maximum rate of $2.50 per ton for cherries, four cents per hundredweight for apples, $2 per ton for peaches, and $4.50 per ton for plums sold. 96 voters, or sixty-three percent of the total number of voters, representing over 294 million pounds of apples, cherries, peaches, and plums, approved the measure. *********************************************************************************** CHS Reports Solid Second-Quarter Earnings CHS, Inc., released earnings results for its second quarter that ended on February 29. The company reports quarterly net income of $170.3 million and revenues of $9.1 billion. That compares to net income of $292.3 million and revenues of $11.3 billion in the second quarter of fiscal year 2023. For the first six months of fiscal year 2024, the company reported a net income of $693.2 million and revenues of $20.5 billion. “The first six months of our fiscal year have delivered overall good financial results,” says Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS. “Our supply chain investments and well-diversified portfolio, empowered by our people and technology, are helping us perform well as we connect farmers and local cooperatives with the inputs and services they need to help feed the world.” Among the report highlights, the CHS ag segment earnings rose as agronomy markets were stronger compared to the previous year.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 5, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday. Traders continue to keep watch over South American weather, events in the Middle East and export news. Weather A storm system continues in the Northeast with scattered showers but most of the country is dry until you get to the West where a larger trough continues to spread showers through the region throughout the day, which includes the western Canadian Prairies, with its eyes on the Plains for the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 4, 2024 |


Farmers, Ethanol Industry Call for E15 Waiver Almost 1,000 farmers, ethanol industry workers, and other supporters from across the U.S. sent a letter to the administration today calling for action on summertime E15. They’re asking for a waiver to allow continued access to E15 throughout the upcoming summer driving season. “With the summer 2024 driving season a few months away, we are asking the administration to take additional action that will ensure consumers across the nation have uninterrupted access to lower-cost, lower-carbon E15,” the letter says. “Allowing gasoline blenders and retailers to sell E15 this summer would help moderate prices at the pump, extend fuel supplies, and deliver relief to American families at a time of year when gas prices are typically at their highest.” The letter also points out that E15 is selling for 10-25 cents per gallon less than standard E10 gasoline, allowing the average American household to save up to $200 a year on gasoline. *********************************************************************************** Smallest Drought Area Since 2020 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported a sizable drop in drought areas around the U.S. “After wet weather and an early spring across much of the country, drought has decreased to around 18 percent of the U.S. by the end of March, down from 20 percent at the end of February, and from 36 percent at the beginning of winter,” NOAA says. “That’s the least amount of drought across the country since May 2020.” Also, the most intense categories of Extreme and Exceptional Drought covered only about one percent of the country at the end of March, also the lowest amount since May 2020. Farm Policy News says some of the most severe drought conditions currently exist in New Mexico, where 3.51 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought and 16.7 percent of the state is experiencing extreme drought. Iowa went from 35 percent extreme drought to 11 percent. *********************************************************************************** Nebraska Issues Restrictions Due to HPAI The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is monitoring the direction of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus in dairy cattle. HPAI has been detected in lactating dairy cattle in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Michigan, and Idaho. At this time, there have been no reported detections of HPAI in Nebraska dairy cattle and other livestock. In an effort to protect Nebraska’s dairy herd, the NDA is issuing an import order effective immediately. The importation order will require all breeding female dairy cattle entering Nebraska to obtain a permit issued by NDA before entry. “Animal health and disease control are essential to the livestock industry and health of Nebraska’s economy,” says NDA director Sherry Vinton. “NDA is closely monitoring this HPAI illness in livestock.” She also says the department will do what’s right to advocate for Nebraska producers, protect the health of Nebraska livestock, and minimize the impact HPAI will have in the state. *********************************************************************************** Sorghum Producers 2024 Yield Contest Open for Entries National Sorghum Producers will now accept entries for the 2024 National Sorghum Yield Contest. State and national winners are selected from contestants split into East and West regions for the Irrigated, Dryland No-Till, and Dryland Tillage Divisions. One overall winner is selected for Food Grade. The entry deadline for the 2024 National Sorghum Yield Contest is November 26, 2024. A complete field of ten or more continuous acres, planted in the sorghum seed variety named on the entry form, will be designated as the contest field. “With improvements to the contest and the continuous evolution of sorghum and seed genetics, I’m confident we’re setting the stage for unprecedented advancements in sorghum production,” says NSP CEO Tim Lust. “I encourage growers to join us in this journey toward sustainable excellence and look forward to celebrating the yield accomplishments in the upcoming growing season.” For more information or an application, go to SorghumGrowers.com. *********************************************************************************** AEM Announces Second “Ag on the Mall” Event The Association of Equipment Manufacturers will showcase the Future of Food and Farming in Washington, D.C., during the second Celebration of Modern Ag on the National Mall. On May 6-8, more than 20 AEM members will be in the nation’s capital between the Smithsonian Museums to illustrate the equipment manufacturing industry’s contribution to sustainably providing for a growing world. “AEM is honored to lead our member companies and other industry partners in showcasing the sustainability of our food system on the National Mall,” says AEM Senior Vice President Curt Blades. “This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how technologically advanced farms and ranches are today, as well as emphasize why the needs of rural America must be at the forefront of policies that lawmakers support.” AEM and its members will not be alone in educating policymakers about the future of food and farming. A record number of partners will also participate. *********************************************************************************** USDA Seeks Nominees for Mushroom Council The USDA wants nominations for the Mushroom Council to fill three seats with terms expiring on December 31, 2027, and one seat whose term will expire on December 31, 2025. Nominees may seek nomination to the council for all the open seats that they are eligible for. Applications are available now at mushroomcouncil.com. The nine-member council includes eight producer members and one importer member. More information is available on the Mushroom Council webpage on the AMS website. The Agricultural Marketing Service policy is that the diversity of the boards, councils, and committees it oversees should reflect the diversity of its industries in terms of the experience of members, methods of production and distribution, marketing strategies, and other distinguishing factors. Throughout the full nomination process, the industry must conduct extensive outreach, paying particular attention to reaching underserved communities and considering the diversity of the population served. Again, go to mushroomcouncil.com for information.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 4, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, the U.S. trade deficit for February and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report at 9:30 a.m. Weather A storm continues to wind down over the Great Lakes, but with heavy snow in the Northeast for Thursday. At the same time, a system is building in the West, which will bring widespread precipitation there and up into the western Canadian Prairies for the next few days. Quieter and warmer conditions are briefly taking over the middle of the country.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 3, 2024 |


Farmer Sentiment Improves in March The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer shows an improved outlook for U.S. farmers during March. The index rose to 114, a three-point increase over February. While the Index of Current Conditions fell by two points to 101, the Index of Future Expectations climbed to 120, up by five points compared to February. The disparity between the two was primarily attributable to farmers’ perceptions that a financial downturn took place over the past year, coupled with expectations for some improvement over the next 12 months. Producers’ expectations for interest rate changes have shifted, which could help explain why producers look for financial conditions to improve. This month, 48 percent of respondents say they expect a decline in the U.S. prime interest rate over the next year. That’s up from 35 percent in December. High input costs continue to be the number one concern, with 36 percent of producers expressing worry. *********************************************************************************** HPAI Confirmed at Texas Poultry Facility Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller confirmed that the Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. poultry facility in Farewell, Texas has received official notification of a positive test for HPAI. Cal-Maine will be required to depopulate 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets at their facility. This accounts for approximately 3.6 percent of the company’s total flock as of March 2, 2024. Production at the facility has temporarily ceased as Cal-Maine Foods initiates the protocols prescribed by the USDA. “This is absolutely devastating news for Cal-Maine and the entire Panhandle region, which has already suffered so much,” Miller says. “Given this latest development, all producers must practice heightened biosecurity measures because the rapid spread of the virus means we have to act quickly.” This news comes after the CDC confirmed a positive test of H5N1, a form of HPAI, in a Texas dairy worker who had direct contact with cattle suspected of being infected. *********************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Analyzes Bridge Collapse Impact on Ag On March 26, a container ship rammed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, resulting in in the structure’s collapse and six lost lives. The American Farm Bureau says there will be an impact on American agriculture. On the export side, in 2023, over 605,000 metric tons of agricultural products were exported from Baltimore, corresponding to nearly $650 million in value. This equates to 0.3 percent of total U.S. ag exports by quantity and 0.4 percent by value. In terms of volume, 415,678 metric tons of soybeans were exports from Baltimore in 2023, or 0.9 percent of all U.S. soybean exports. In terms of the largest export destinations for agricultural products leaving Baltimore, they include Taiwan, China, and Colombia. On the import side, more than 1.59 million metric tons of agricultural products entered the U.S. through Baltimore, corresponding to almost $3.34 billion in value. The most imports in Baltimore come from Brazil. *********************************************************************************** Texas Cattle Raisers Still Accepting Disaster Applications The Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association says applications remain open for help from the TSCRA Disaster Relief Fund. The help is available for cattle raisers impacted by wildfires in the Texas Panhandle and Western Oklahoma. The cattle raisers association will distribute financial assistance to reduce the economic burdens incurred by cattle raisers from recent wildfire damages that were not covered through insurance or other means of aid. Ranchers and landowners from disaster-declared counties impacted by recent wildfires are eligible to apply in the open application period. The current application period does not have a set closing date, and it will remain open to ensure applicants can access funding. Producers are encouraged to apply within the first 60 days of the damage. “As long as we have the funds and people continue to make donations, we will get funding to people who need help,” says TSCRA president Carl Ray Polk, Jr. *********************************************************************************** NACD Supports Conservation in Federal Spending Bill The National Association of Conservation Districts and a coalition of agriculture and conservation groups sent a letter to House and Senate leadership on farm spending. NACD is requesting at least $1.2 billion for NRCS Conservation Operations and full authorized funding for farm bill conservation programs in fiscal year 2025. More than 85 conservation and agriculture groups signed the letter to support the requests. “Funding for NRCS Conservation Operations was reduced in the final Fiscal Year 2024 spending bill, so it’s critical that we make a strong case for reversing course as Congress develops FY 2025 appropriations bills,” says NACD President Kim LaFleur. “Nearly 100 conservation and agriculture groups signing the letter sends a clear message to Congress that increasing funding for CTA is vital to supporting conservation delivery systems and putting effective conservation practices on the ground in all parts of the country.” For more information, anyone interested can go to nacdnet.org. *********************************************************************************** New Technology Key to Increasing Ag Productivity Technological developments in agriculture have enabled continued output growth without requiring many additional inputs. Innovations in animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization have made it possible for total agricultural output to nearly triple between 1948 and 2021. During that period, a USDA report says the amount of inputs used in farming declined slightly over time, meaning that the growth in agricultural output over the long term has depended on increases in total factor productivity. TFP measures the amount of agricultural output produced from the combined inputs like labor, capital, and intermediate inputs employed in farm production. Therefore, growth in TPP indicates positive changes in the efficiency with which inputs are transformed into outputs. The USDA report says it can also be seen as an indicator of technical change. In the short term, total output growth and estimated TFP growth can be affected by random events like adverse weather.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 3, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The Energy Department's weekly inventory report is due out at 9:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday. Traders continue to monitor South American weather and, after Monday's attack, will keep an eye on events in the Middle East. Weather A storm system continues to spin around the Great Lakes on Wednesday, with a band of heavy snow in and around Wisconsin through this morning before winding down this afternoon. Showers will remain around the Midwest through Thursday, however, as will a burst of some cooler temperatures that is filling in behind a cold front that is moving off the East Coast. Another storm system is heading into the West as our active spring pattern continues.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 2, 2024 |


Beef and Pork Exports Bring Significant Returns to Corn, Bean Producers Beef and pork exports of $18.1 billion in 2023 had a significant impact on the corn and soybean industries. An independent study released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation quantified the returns that beef and pork exports brought to corn and soybean producers nationally and on a state-by-state level for leading corn and soybean-producing states. Nationally, U.S. pork and beef exports contributed an estimated total economic impact of 14.6 percent per bushel to the value of corn and 13.9 percent per bushel to soybeans in 2023. The study shows that despite the headwinds facing the red meat industry in 2023, exports contributed substantially to the value of U.S. corn and soybeans. Beef and pork exports accounted for 512.7 million bushels of U.S. corn usage, equating to a market value of $3.05 billion. Pork exports accounted for 96.8 million bushels of U.S. soybean usage, equating to a market value of $1.36 billion. *********************************************************************************** USTR Releases a Report on Foreign Trade Barriers U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai released the 2024 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers. It provides a comprehensive review of the significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, U.S. foreign direct investments, and U.S. electronic commerce in key export markets for America. The NTE Report highlights cross-cutting barriers affecting U.S. agricultural trade, including opaque and burdensome facility registration requirements like Indonesia’s unnecessary requirements for dairy, meat, and rendered products. It includes China’s requirements across a wide range of food and agricultural products, such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures that aren’t based on science, are maintained without scientific evidence, or are applied beyond the necessary extent. Other significant barriers include Mexico’s policies regarding agricultural biotechnology products, and the European Union’s non-science-based policies affecting innovative crop protection policies. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office is determined to ensure that producers can compete on a level playing field globally. *********************************************************************************** NMPF Comments Put Farmers First The National Milk Producers Federation submitted its final formal legal brief on behalf of the Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization to USDA. The brief, submitted on March 29 and hand-delivered to USDA, emphasized that those farmers are the reason the system exists, and by law, their priorities are pre-eminent in USDA’s consideration of a final plan. “We’ve spent almost three years assembling a broad consensus among dairy farmers that modernization needs to succeed,” says Gregg Doud, President and CEO of NMPF. “Our approach is careful and comprehensive, and it benefits farmers of all regions and types of operations.” Among the proposals, NMPF favors returning to the “higher of” Class 1 mover. They also want to discontinue the use of barrel cheese in the protein component price formula. NMPF also wants to extend the current 30-day reporting limit to 45 days on forward-priced sales of nonfat dry milk and dry whey. *********************************************************************************** Public Perceptions of the U.S. Food System The Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey recently completed two years of tracking consumer sentiment on a multitude of food and agricultural policy issues. The survey found that a large majority of consumers believe the food system produces food that tastes good, is accessible, and safe to eat. Consumers also believe the American food system produces food that’s healthy and sustainable and provides healthy returns to supply chain members. Perceptions of the food system seem relatively stable. Perceptions of food system affordability have seen the most change during the past two years. The share of consumers who agree that food is affordable continued to decline during the past two years, hitting a low of 49 percent agreement in August 2023. However, consumer outlook on affordability has gradually started to improve since then. Looking at different segments of the supply chain, the study finds that farmers continue to be the most trusted. *********************************************************************************** HPAI Found in Idaho and Michigan Dairy Cattle Officials from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service have confirmed the presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in a Michigan dairy herd. That herd recently added cattle from Texas, one of the first states to report HPAI in dairy cattle. A University of Minnesota Extension article says APHIS also shared presumptive positive samples from New Mexico, Idaho, Ohio, and Texas. The Idaho Department of Agriculture announced cattle in the state have tested positive for HPAI. HPAI historically affects birds but has been documented in cats, skunks, and foxes. The virus found in Michigan is very similar to the viruses found in Texas and Kansas and appears to have been introduced into the cattle by wild birds. In Idaho, the virus may have been transmitted from cow to cow. USDA has stated that initial testing has not found changes to the virus that would make it easier to transmit to humans. *********************************************************************************** Clean Fuels Disappointed in GHG Standards Clean Fuels Alliance America expressed extreme disappointment in the Environmental Protection Agency’s final Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for heavy-duty vehicles. In the rule, EPA adopts new standards that are designed expressly to incentivize electric vehicles for model year 2027-2032 heavy-duty vehicles. The standards are part of the GHG emissions regulations for trucks and buses. EPA didn’t evaluate the use of biodiesel and renewable diesel as part of engine systems to meet the new standards, focusing instead primarily on tailpipe emissions. “EPA’s rule flatly dismisses the benefits of biodiesel and renewable diesel as the lowest-cost and most widely available options to kickstart decarbonization of the heavy-duty vehicle sector,” says Kurt Kovarik of Clean Fuels. “There should be no uncertainty that biodiesel and renewable diesel also reduce criteria pollutants from heavy-duty vehicles, which will continue to be manufactured and used during the timeframe of this rule. They merit a role in decarbonization.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 2, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. factory orders for February is set for 9:00 a.m CDT. Traders will keep their attention on South American weather and any updates, concerning recent infections of highly pathogenic avian influenza in cattle and/or humans. Weather A storm system is moving from the Southern Plains and deepening in the Midwest for Tuesday. Scattered showers and thunderstorms, including severe weather, will be possible from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast. Some flooding may occur in the Ohio Valley. At the same time, it will be just cold enough to produce some heavier snow around Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan later Tuesday and going into Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 1, 2024 |


USDA Releases Prospective Plantings Report The USDA’s Prospective Plantings Report shows corn planted area will be 90 million acres this year, down five percent or 4.61 million acres from last year. Soybean planted area for 2024 is estimated to be 86.5 million acres, up three percent from last year. The all-wheat planted area for this year is estimated at 47.5 million acres, four percent below 2023 for comparable states. The 2024 winter wheat planted area, at 34.1 million acres, is down seven percent from last year and one percent from the previous estimate for comparable states. Of the total, about 24.3 million acres are Hard Red Winter Wheat, 6.26 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.59 million acres will be White Winter. The all-cotton planted area for 2024 is estimated at 10.7 million acres, up four percent from last year. Upland area is estimated at 10.5 million acres, up four percent from last year. *********************************************************************************** Stocks Report Shows More Corn, Beans in Storage The USDA’s Grain Stocks Report shows corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2024, totaled 8.35 billion bushels, up 13 percent from March 1, 2023. Of the total stocks, 5.08 billion bushels were stored on farms, 24 percent higher than last year. Off-farm stocks were down one percent from a year ago. Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2024, totaled 1.85 billion bushels, nine percent higher than March 1, 2023. Soybean stocks on farms are estimated at 933 million bushels, 24 percent higher than a year ago. Off-farm stocks were down three percent from last March. All wheat in stored positions on March 1, 2024, totaled 1.09 billion bushels, up 16 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 272 million bushels, up 20 percent from last March. Durum wheat stocks in all positions on March 1, 2024, totaled 36.6 million bushels, two percent above 2023. *********************************************************************************** Skills Needed in the Agricultural Workforce U.S. employers report challenges in finding suitable job candidates with work-ready skills to fill open roles in the agri-food industry. AgCareers.com surveyed those employers to gain deeper insights into the skills they seek and identify the most significant skill gaps in the workforce. Employers ranked “problem solving and decision making” as the most necessary skills for all employees, followed by “organization and planning skills,” and “teamwork.” Problem-solving and decision-making were also identified as areas with the most significant gap for both current employees and new graduate hires. Only 18 percent of U.S. employers said that new graduate hires were adequately prepared with work-ready skills upon hire, whereas 76 percent said experienced new hires were equipped with those skills. Survey data also examined industry-specific skills required for employee success, such as sustainability, data science, and food science. Results indicate the biggest knowledge needs were in agronomy and precision agriculture, and animal sciences. *********************************************************************************** Driving Corn Demand Through Renewable Chemicals At the Advanced Bioeconomy Conference in Washington, D.C., the National Corn Growers Association sponsored a special session on renewable chemicals and other materials. The session outlined the national incentive for biobased chemicals and renewable materials that NCGA, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, and other partners have been working on. The panel was moderated by Sarah McKay, NCGA Market Development Director. “U.S. corn farmers continue to produce an affordable, high-quality, and reliable crop,” she said. “That crop can be turned into more than food, fuel, and fiber.” The corn kernel can be utilized in so many ways, which is why NCGA focuses on new uses for corn as an industrial feedstock. “NCGA is working on this national incentive with partners across the agricultural and biotech industries to help a variety of new technologies overcome barriers to commercialization so they can begin to grind more corn.” Learn more about the new uses programs at ncga.com/newuses. *********************************************************************************** USDA Hosts Workshops on Nursery Insurance Option The USDA has expanded its Nursery Value Select Crop Insurance program to all counties in all states, and the USDA’s Risk Management Agency is offering informational workshops for interested producers. These sessions will be valuable for producers in the newly expanded areas and especially for the Nursery Field Grown and Container crop insurance program, which ends beginning with the 2026 crop year. Nursery Value Select is a program that enables nursery producers to select the dollar amount of coverage that best fits their risk management needs. It’s expansion is part of RMA’s efforts to provide insurance options for a broader group of producers, including specialty crop producers. “At the RMA, we always want to provide producers with the strongest crop insurance resources and options possible,” says RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger. “That’s why the expansion’s significant because we can now reach every producer in the country.” For more information, go to rma.usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** TSC Raises Over $1 Million for FFA Tractor Supply Company announced the results of its ninth annual Grants for Growing fundraiser to support FFA chapters across the country. From February 14 to March 3, customers and team members generated over $1 million through the purchase of FFA paper emblems at checkouts in stores and online. The funds raised will support middle school and high school FFA chapters that are developing project-based or experiential learning opportunities. “We’re proud to support FFA’s transformative education programs that have such a profound impact on students nationwide,” says Kimberly Gardiner, chief marketing officer for TSC. The Grants for Growing Fund supports projects with grants up to $5,000 in one of three focus areas: Grow Your Classroom, Grow Your FFA Chapter, and Grow Your Ag Awareness. To get funding, FFA advisors can submit applications at FFA.org. Submissions must include a detailed proposal for a project supporting developing future agricultural leaders and the larger community.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 1, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Post-Easter Markets, HPAI Spread in Dairies, First Crop Progress Report 1. Market settles after disaster dustups: Market traders will be coming back after the Easter long weekend straight into April. We'll continue to track livestock and grain markets as they take in the recent news of the ship accident shutting down Baltimore Harbor and dairy cattle contracting highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). During Easter weekend, there was news the HPAI had spread to dairy cows now in five states; the situation could change the dynamics of the outbreak and indicate cow-to-cow transmission could be possible.. 2. USDA Crop Progress reports begin: April 1 (no fooling) marks the beginning of the weekly Crop Progress reports from USDA, which track planting progress and crop condition through the growing season. Those reports typically come out at 3:00 p.m. on Mondays (unless Monday is a national holiday). We will have both the report numbers and analysis by DTN reporters, meteorologists, and analysts each report afternoon. 3. Take that, Drought Monitor: Thanks to recent spring storms, the "drought is getting pounded," according to DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick. He noted that while there are still areas that can use rainfall to make up for multiple seasons of shortfall, the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor is losing some of its yellow and brown coloration (indicating moisture deficits. The Ohio Valley and Southwest Plains could get more rain this week as another round of systems work their way across the U.S. 4. Frost watch: The cold fronts that kick off spring storms could also bring frosts to the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle areas, where wheat has been responding to unusually warm temperatures. We'll watch for any issues there. As for Easter Sunday, critical fire conditions are expected as red flag warnings have been issued from Colorado and Kansas down to the West Texas region. 5. Economic reports: Back to a full week of reports, no fooling. We'll start Monday at 8:45 a.m. with the S&P manufacturing PMI report. At 9 a.m. is Construction Spending, followed by the 10 a.m. Grain Inspections numbers. At 2 p.m. we'll see Cotton Consumption and Stocks, Fats and Oils report and Grain Crushings. At 3 p.m. will be the season's first USDA Crop Progress report. Tuesday's first reports, at 9 a.m., include Factory Orders and Job Openings (JOLTS) reports. At 2 p.m. is the Hatchery Production Annual report. Wednesday starts early with 7:15 a.m. ADP Employment. At 8:45 a.m. we'll watch for the S&P Services PMI. At 10 a.m. comes EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status including ethanol production and stocks. At 2 p.m. is the Broiler Hatchery numbers. Thursday we'll see Initial Jobless Claims, U.S. Trade Balance and Grain Export sales all at 7:30 a.m. At 10:30 a.m. the Weekly Economic Index is out, followed by the 2 p.m. release of Agricultural Land Values. Friday morning is filled with jobs reports, with 7:30 a.m. release of U.S. Nonfarm Payrolls, Unemployment Rate, and Hourly Wages. At 11 a.m. the Livestock and Meat Trade data report is due, with a Dairy Products report at 2 p.m. Also at 2 is the latest Consumer Credit numbers, and the 2:30 p.m. release of the CFTC's Commitment of Traders report.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 1, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from a three-day weekend, traders will check in on the latest weather forecasts and notice the PCE inflation index for February, reported on Good Friday. A report on U.S. manufacturing in March will be out at 9 a.m. CDT Monday, followed by USDA's report of weekly export inspections at 10 a.m. NASS's Fats and Oils report will be out at 2 p.m., followed by the first weekly Crop Progress report of the season at 3 p.m. Weather A system is moving in pieces through the middle of the country Monday. That will bring a round of heavy rain and thunderstorms through much of the Plains and Midwest, including areas of severe weather. A widespread severe outbreak is forecast arcing from Texas up through Missouri and the Ohio Valley. All hazards are possible, but the rain will be most welcome.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 28, 2024 |


Baltimore Bridge Collapse Won’t Slow Commodity Exports The Francis Scott Key Bridge at Baltimore collapsed this week. Mike Steenhoek (STEEN-hook), executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, says the Port of Baltimore exported over 142,000 metric tons of soybeans in 2020, the most recent data available. “There are no reported soybean exports via bulk vessel,” he says. “The port imported 172,228 metric tons of soybeans via container and 34,000 tons of soybeans in bulk vessels.” In contrast, the Mississippi Gulf Region, the top export region for soybeans, accounted for 35.4 million metric tons of soybeans by bulk. The top five ag products handled at the Port of Baltimore include sugar, soybeans, grain products, coffee, and grocery items. “While it’s not a significant port region for soybeans and grain, it’s a significant resource for the broader economy,” Steenhoek adds. “It underscores the reality that the ports serving as the origins and destinations for global commerce can be vulnerable.” *********************************************************************************** Letter Asks for E15 Emergency Waiver Groups like the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, and others sent a letter on E15 to the Environmental Protection Agency. The groups are asking Administrator Michael Regan to swiftly issue an emergency waiver for E15 sales. “New and ongoing world conflicts continue to pose risks for the U.S. energy supply,” the letter says. “In addition to the Ukraine conflict, the recent conflict in the Middle East presents additional challenges to America’s energy security.” To remedy the disruptions in the global energy markets, stabilize gasoline prices for American consumers, and support domestic energy security, the groups urged the EPA to quickly authorize the summer sale of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol. ‘The consumer cost savings that result from allowing the year-round sale of E15, even temporarily, are well-established,” the groups add. “Consumers have saved 10 to 30 cents a gallon during recent waivers.” *********************************************************************************** AccuWeather Predicts a Risky Hurricane Season The meteorologists at AccuWeather are warning people and businesses to start preparing now for what could be a busy tropical storm season that may have major impacts on the United States. The 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast is calling for 20 to 25 named storms. Eight to 12 of those storms are forecast to strengthen into hurricanes. Four to six storms could directly impact the U.S. “The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to feature well above the historical average number of tropical storms, hurricanes, major hurricanes, and direct U.S. impacts,” says AccuWeather Lead Hurricane Forecaster Alex DaSilva. “All indications are pointing toward a very active and potentially explosive Atlantic hurricane season this year.” Warmer ocean temperatures are one of the factors that can provide fuel for tropical systems to rapidly intensify into powerful hurricanes. “Sea-surface temps are well above historical averages across much of the Atlantic basin,” DaSilva explained. *********************************************************************************** USDA Seeks More Grazing Land Conservation The USDA is investing up to $22 million in partnerships that expand access to conservation technical assistance for livestock producers and increase the use of conservation practices on grazing land. The Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting proposals through its Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative until May 26, 2024. “Privately owned grazing lands cover nearly 30 percent of the national landscape, which means we have a tremendous opportunity to conserve natural resources through voluntary, private lands conservation,” says NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “NRCS enlists a wide variety of conservation practices to help livestock producers.” He also says the partnerships will help expand the footprint of conservation on grazing lands. Project proposals for GLCI Cooperative Agreements will identify and address barriers to accessing grazing assistance for producers. Projects must address one or more of several priorities, including local natural resource concerns, climate-smart ag and forestry practices, and others. For information, go to grants.gov. *********************************************************************************** Feed Industry Supports EMIT LESS Act The American Feed Industry Association applauded several senators for introducing the “Enteric Methane Innovation Tools for Lower Emissions and Sustainable Stock (EMIT LESS) Act.” By expanding USDA’s research and incentivizing the adoption of emissions-reducing practices on farms, the bill aims to mitigate the significant environmental impact of enteric methane emissions from American dairy and beef cattle operations. “We thank the senators for introducing a bill that strengthens our country’s research and conservation programs while recognizing the unique role that animal nutrition and feed ingredients play in reducing on-farm enteric methane emissions,” says Constance Cullman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association. “The EMIT LESS Act shows that right alongside animal food innovators, our country is willing to invest in a more sustainable future.” AFIA also says the bill’s key provisions include integrating emissions-reduction practices into USDA’s conservation programs and providing financial incentives to farmers that voluntarily adopt them. *********************************************************************************** American Agri-Women Expanding its D.C. Fly-In American Agri-Women is excited to announce the expansion of its annual Washington D.C. fly-in event. The group is opening up the event to all women involved in the agricultural and natural resource industries. The 2024 Fly-In will be a historical gathering, uniting women from across the country to make their voices heard on behalf of the agriculture industry in the nation’s capital. The fly-in is scheduled from June 2-4, 2024, in Washington D.C. The event promises a unique opportunity for women across the agricultural and natural resources sectors to come together, share insights, and advocate for critical issues affecting their industries. Among the many key highlights of the event, several presentations will show attendees how to make an impact at the local, state, and federal levels of government, as well as discussions on regulations and how they impact producers. It’s a chance to network with elected officials and other stakeholders.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 28, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, an update of first-quarter U.S. GDP and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report is at 9:30 a.m. USDA's Prospective Plantings survey and report of March 1 Grain Stocks will be out at 11 a.m., followed by USDA's quarterly Hogs and Pigs report at 2 p.m. Weather A system that is moving through the Pacific Northwest will be moving into the Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies on Thursday, producing areas of scattered showers, mostly as snow. Quieter conditions are expected elsewhere as temperatures start to rise ahead of the inbound system. Snow cover will limit some of the warming in the Upper Midwest and surrounding areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 27, 2024 |


Farm Lending Slows as Interest Rates Climb The USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the detection of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in cattle. The agencies say the disease seems to be affecting primarily older cows in Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico. This is the first time that HPAI has been identified as affecting dairy cattle and only the second time the virus has been detected in a ruminant animal. The commercial milk supply remains safe due to the federal animal health requirements and pasteurization. Milk from the affected herds is not allowed to enter the milk supply. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says migratory birds are the likely source of the infection. “At this stage, there’s no concern that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health,” APHIS says in a news release. Federal and state agencies are moving quickly to conduct additional testing for specific HPAI strains. *********************************************************************************** Properly Prepared Beef is Safe to Eat After HPAI was found in dairy cattle, the Meat Institute says that properly prepared beef is safe to eat and not a safety risk to humans. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USDA food safety experts say properly prepared beef is safe to eat,” says Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “HPAI cannot be transmitted to humans by eating meat or poultry products.” She also says the Meat Institute and its member companies will continue to be vigilant to aid in the efforts to stop the spread of the disease among animals in food production. “We will support the nation’s producers working to protect their herds,” Potts adds. The meat and poultry industries are among the most intensely regulated in the nation. Inspectors from the Food Safety and Inspection Service are present every day in meat packing plants and are trained to detect disease before and after slaughter. *********************************************************************************** EPA Accepts Atrazine Recommendations The Environmental Protection Agency agreed with recommendations from its Scientific Advisory Panel on atrazine. The recommendations remove several poor-quality studies that played a role in the agency’s recommendation for an ultra-low aquatic level of concern for atrazine. The SAP was held in 2023 at the request of agriculture groups active in the Triazine Network. The panel considered EPA’s white paper and stakeholder comments to exclude or rescore several questionable studies used to set the aquatic concentration equivalent level of concern. The panel’s scientists appreciated the farmers and agriculture representatives who testified on the real-world benefits and necessities of atrazine as well as the real-world consequences of EPA’s proposed decisions. One of the Triazine Networks’ co-chairs says hearing directly from the people using the product was a key component of the SAP. The Triazine Network is a coalition of agriculture organizations and producers advocating for science-based decisions on Triazine herbicides like atrazine. *********************************************************************************** USDA Authorizes Emergency CRP Grazing The USDA has authorized the release of emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program acres nationwide to livestock producers affected by the wildfires in Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. “Many ranchers in those states impacted by the recent wildfires are in need of grazing acres and hay resources to sustain their herds while they work during the months ahead to restore their operations,” says Kelly Adkins, Texas Farm Service Agency Director. “If you have CRP acres and want to help wildfire-impacted ranchers, please contact your local FSA office. They’ll determine available emergency and non-emergency use options.” Although the Primary Nesting Season has already started in Texas, CRP participants can continue to donate emergency grazing authority to livestock producers in need during this period in counties eligible for the Livestock Forage Program due to drought. FSA also offers non-emergency use provisions for CRP acres as an option during the PNS in Texas. *********************************************************************************** BASF Launches a New SCN Awareness Website Soybean Cyst Nematode is present in most areas where soybeans are grown. Because nematodes feed on the roots of each plant, the damage is often difficult to detect with no above-ground symptoms. To help farmers do their jobs more efficiently, BASF launched SCNFields.com, a website that will provide farmers with SCN sampling results from more than 4,000 collected samples across the U.S. “SCN is the leading cause of soybean yield loss in the U.S., costing growers over 100 million bushels of yield and an estimated $1.5 billion annually,” says Troy Bauer, BASF Senior Technical Field Representative. “Farmers need to test their fields to ensure SCN isn’t becoming a problem without them realizing it.” With SCNFields.com, a farmer can see samples with high counts locally and know they need to take steps now to manage the threat of SCN. Additionally, SCN populations can change in season. For more information, go to SCNFields.com. *********************************************************************************** Iowa Farm Goes for Almost $4 Million A 230-acre farm in Grundy County, Iowa, owned continually by the same family since plows first turned ground in the prairies in the 1870s, sold at a recent auction for almost four million dollars. Successful Farming says the Iowa century farm is historically significant in the state and has some of Iowa’s highest quality cropland. More than 91 acres, or 40 percent of the land, have a perfect 100 Corn Suitability Rating (CSR2). The overall weighted average for the land is a still-high 95.2. According to Iowa State University, the average rating for the state is 68.4. Grundy County has the second-highest average of Iowa’s 99 counties at 86.9. Before the auction, tenant Paul Koch spoke to the crowd. The third-generation farmer said the family moved onto the farm in 1929 and has farmed the land for about 94 years. “This is some of the state’s best ground,” he said.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 27, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The Energy Department's weekly inventory report is due out at 9:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, the only significant report of the day. Traders will keep watch over South American weather forecasts and trading may be quiet Wednesday, ahead of three USDA reports on Thursday. Weather A big storm system is leaving the U.S. as it heads toward Hudson Bay. The cold front to the storm will bring showers to the East Coast, however. A few showers will go through the Southern Plains Wednesday as well. Cold air has built into the Plains which may be harming wheat in the southwest. The next system is moving into the Pacific Northwest as the pattern remains active.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 26, 2024 |


Farmers Planting Less Corn, More Soybeans in 2024 American farmers might plant less corn than last year, but it will still likely be larger than what USDA previously anticipated. That’s according to data from the March 2024 Farm Futures grower survey. Total corn and soybean acreage will likely vary minimally from last year. Growers expect to plant 92.4 million acres of corn this year, down 2.3 million acres or 2.4 percent from last year. Soybean acreage is forecast to be 2.4 million acres or 2.9 percent higher than last year’s 86 million acres. This is almost a one-for-one tradeoff between corn and soybean acres from last year. If realized, that would bring the total corn and soybean acreage planted this year to 178.6 million acres or the third-largest combined corn-soybean acreage on record. Last year, farmers planted 178.2 million acres of corn and soybeans. Growers still anticipate USDA finding more winter wheat acres compared to last year. *********************************************************************************** California Pork Prices Higher After Prop 12 Implementation Prop 12 is already raising the price of pork in California. In effect for just over six months, pork sales have dropped across the state. That’s from data compiled by the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist. The OCE found prices for pork products affected by Prop 12, including loins, ribs, and bellies, have averaged 20 percent higher in California since before July 1, 2023, when the initiative was partially implemented. Loin prices average 41 percent higher than before Prop 12 implementation. Pork not covered by the initiative hasn’t significantly increased. The data also shows that California’s share of fresh pork consumption has “significantly declined.” The economists found the price premium end-users paid for Prop 12-compliant pork compared with non-compliant products at the wholesale level was 22 percent higher on average, with compliant loins and bellies 30 percent higher. Prop 12-compliant pork must meet specific space standards to be legal. *********************************************************************************** Legislation Sets Fairer Prices for Livestock Assistance Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation to offer producers fairer market prices for livestock disaster assistance programs. The Livestock Indemnity Program Improvement Act would require the Farm Service Agency to make quarterly updates to the Livestock Indemnity Program payment rates that reflect livestock market prices. The LIP provides payments to eligible livestock owners and contract growers for abnormal livestock deaths caused by an eligible loss of condition, such as severe weather, disease, or animal attack. The FSA is currently required to update the payment rates annually. The bipartisan bill would make these updates more frequent to reflect a quickly-changing market. “Ranchers often make large financial investments in their livestock and sometimes face heavy losses due to natural disasters and other circumstances out of their control,” Klobuchar says. “This will help ensure ranchers have a safety net that more accurately reflects the market value of any lost livestock.” *********************************************************************************** New Grant Program for Beef Producers The Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association’s Leadership Development Foundation announced a new Working Grant Program. The announcement came during the recently completed Cattle Raisers Convention and Expo. The new TSCRA Leadership Development Foundation’s grant program will help support those starting or growing a business in ranching, beef production, or a related area supporting the beef value chain. The program will provide financial assistance and access to mentorship, educational resources, or related areas supporting the beef value chain. “Whether it’s helping a young producer purchase their first parcel of land, enabling a veterinarian to open a large animal clinic in a rural community, or giving a generational producer the opportunity to grow their operation, these grants have the power to transform lives and revitalize our rural economies,” says TSCRA President Carl Ray Polk, Jr. The application period for individuals in Texas and Oklahoma will open on May 1. For information, go to tscra.org. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Cattle on Feed Up One Percent The USDA says the total number of cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the U.S. for feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.8 million head on March 1. The inventory was one percent above March 1, 2023. Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.89 million head, ten percent above 2023. Placements were the highest for February since the series began in 1996. Net placements were 1.83 million head. During February, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds totaled 360,000 head, and between 600-699 pounds, placements reached 330,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 515,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 485,000 head, 900-999 pounds totaled 150,000 head, and 1,000 pounds or greater totaled 50,000 head. February fed cattle marketings reached 1.79 million head, which was three percent above February 2023. Other disappearances totaled 56,000 head during February, down three percent from February 2023. *********************************************************************************** FAA Clears “Drone Swarms” for Agriculture The Federal Aviation Administration issued an exemption for “drone-swarm” agriculture, a method of seeding and spraying crops at a fraction of the traditional cost. Hylio (HEE-lee-oh), a Texas-based drone manufacturer, successfully applied for an FFA exemption to allow fleets of drones weighing 55 pounds or more to fly together. It’s the first exception of its kind for machines that carry what the company calls a “meaningful payload” and makes the process competitive with traditional tractors and seeding rigs. “On average, you’re spending a quarter upfront on the capital cost to buy the machinery, and the operating cost is about a quarter or maybe a third of what you’d spend for the more traditional stuff,” says Arthur Erickson, Hylio CEO. Under previous rules, a single drone required a pilot and another person acting as a spotter. Because of weight limits in flight, it took a long time to cover large fields.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 26, 2024 |


Tuesday watch List Markets Durable Goods Orders will be released at 7:30 a.m. CDT, at 8 a.m. we'll see the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and at 9 a.m. the latest Consumer Confidence numbers are out. The USDA report preview is also available. Traders continue to keep an eye on South American weather and recent events in Ukraine. Weather A strong storm system in the Midwest will send the main low-pressure center northeast into Ontario on Tuesday while the cold front slowly pushes eastward into the Appalachians. Widespread showers continue from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast and some stronger thunderstorms will still be possible in the eastern Midwest this afternoon. At the same time, snow continues to be heavy on the backside of the storm across Minnesota. Cold air has built in behind the storm across the Plains

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 25, 2024 |


Farm Bank Lending Increased in 2023 Agricultural loan demand increased in 2023, and agricultural lending by U.S. farm banks grew 6.7 percent to $110 billion. The American Bankers Association’s annual Farm Bank Performance Report credits elevated production costs, commodity price volatility, and a return to pre-COVID levels of direct government payments. The ABA says farm banks continued to enjoy solid performance in 2023, with robust loan growth and historically low delinquency rates. “Moving forward, the agricultural sector will continue to face challenges due to monetary policy actions targeting persistent inflation in the U.S. and reduced federal support,” the ABA says in a news release. Despite the challenges, farm banks maintained strong asset quality and consistent growth in high-quality capital and remain well-positioned to continue serving the needs of their customers and communities. The report also showed that farm banks are a major source of credit for small farmers. Last year, 98.1 percent of farm banks were profitable. *********************************************************************************** Senate Votes to Block Paraguayan Beef Imports The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association thanked the Senate for passing a resolution to block beef imports from Paraguay. The resolution comes after the USDA lifted the longstanding ban on Paraguayan beef imports despite the country’s concerning animal health track record. “Our animal health standards are second to none, and we must be vigilant in protecting the U.S. cattle herd from harmful foreign animal diseases that could have a devastating impact on U.S. agriculture,” says Mark Eisele, a Wyoming rancher and NCBA President. “Paraguay’s history of foot-and-mouth disease is a great concern, and anyone who wants to trade with the U.S. must meet our high safety standards.” NCBA specifically called out the outdated animal health data used to make USDA’s decision. “The U.S. government relied on nine-year-old data and site visits from 2008 to 2014 to justify access for Paraguayan beef imports,” says Kent Bacus, NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs. *********************************************************************************** Bill Would Ease Farmland Ownership Transitions Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced new legislation designed to break down barriers to farming and agricultural land ownership. The goal would be to help more Americans pursue farming careers. The bipartisan Farm Transition Act of 2024 would, for the first time, create a Commission on Farm Transitions to study the issues impacting the transition of agricultural operations to the next generation of farmers and ranchers and make recommendations to address those barriers. “Farmland is one of our most valuable assets, contributing to local economies, safeguarding our national food security, and putting us on the map with world-class products,” Baldwin says. “Many people interested in a career in agriculture are getting locked out and having to compete with Wall Street investment firms buying up farmland.” As of 2021, American Farmland Trust says seniors 65 and older owned more than 40 percent of the agricultural land in the U.S. *********************************************************************************** Risking Soybean Processing Industry’s “Overbuild” Demand for soybean oil as a feedstock in the production of renewable diesel is rising as the U.S. aims to increase the adoption of cleaner-burning fuels. Renewable diesel is the preferred replacement for traditional diesel, and U.S. production is predicted to increase sharply in the years ahead. To meet the growing demand for soybean oil, U.S. processors are ramping up their production capacity, expected to increase by 23 percent over the next three years. While processors have benefited from record-high profit margins in recent years, margins will likely moderate. A new report from CoBank says multiple years of record margins have left processors prepared to weather the inevitable margin downturn. However, overbuilding U.S. crush capacity, combined with sustained levels of low processing margins, could threaten the viability of new, high-cost plants. The CoBank report says new crush plants built at higher costs and interest rates will have much higher breakeven costs. *********************************************************************************** Washington State Farmers Concerned About Grizzlies The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released an environmental impact statement on options to restore grizzlies in the North Cascades area of Washington state. The two agencies say the last grizzly bear sighting in the North Cascade Mountains was in 1996. The bear idea has Washington farmers very concerned. At a House Ag Subcommittee hearing, Rep Dan Newhouse of Washington asked Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack if USDA had been consulted on the proposal. Vilsack thought USDA had but preferred to leave the final decision to the Interior Department. Newhouse says farmers are worried that bears will move out of the zone they’re released in. “The Interior Department that oversees the two agencies is shutting out the voices of my constituents who had expressed serious concerns about the proposals,” Newhouse said. The NCBA and Public Lands Council say they “condemn” the plan to release the bears. *********************************************************************************** The Newest Use for U.S. Soy Involves Chainsaws The newest use for American soy is a biobased oil for chainsaws. Through the Soy Checkoff Research and Development Investment, U.S. soybean farmers are partnering with DEWALT and Dynamic Green Products to announce a groundbreaking sustainable solution. DEWALT’s soy-based Bar & Chain Biodegradable Oil is now available at Home Depot Stores nationwide and on various online platforms. “It’s exciting to see the checkoff investment in this bar and chain oil pay dividends as It becomes widely available to more farmers and the professionals who care for parks, forests, and more,” says Steve Reinhard, USB Chair and Ohio soybean farmer. “This oil is yet another example of U.S. Soy delivering performance and sustainability benefits.” Fifth-generation farmer Bret Davis of Ohio was eager to be an early adopter of the product. “It’s pretty simple: if you grow it, then you should use it,” Davis says. “It works great in my battery-powered chainsaw.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 25, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch March - Grain Stocks and a Good Friday Break 1. March USDA reports: The March USDA Grain Stocks and Prospective Planting reports will be released at 11 a.m. on March 28. We'll post those numbers shortly after 11, with updates and analysis throughout the morning. 2. Spring storm cometh: Cold air from Canada bumping into warmer air to the south is leading to a major storm system this weekend that should last well into next week. Much of the country could see high snowfall totals, blizzard conditions in some areas, some freezing rain, and strong winds. 3. EU responds to Russian grain dumps: European media have been reporting on European Union efforts to slow grain exports from Russia and Belarus in response to the Russia-Ukraine war. EU leaders are attempting to balance excess exports onto world markets from Putin's grain dump while still allowing food supplies into African nations that need it. EU countries are also trying to respond to their own farmers crying foul as Ukraine exports -- needed by that country to shore up its war effort -- have depressed produce and other food prices in bordering countries. 4. Good Friday break: The DTN newsroom will be closed for the Good Friday market holiday, but we'll have breaking news updates throughout the day and weekend. 5. Economic reports to come: Monday at 8 a.m. the Food Price Outlook is released followed by New Home Sales at 9 a.m. and Grain Inspections at 10 a.m. At 2 p.m. we'll watch for the Oil Crop Yearbook and Poultry Slaughter numbers. Tuesday starts with 7:30 a.m. release of Durable Goods Orders, at 8 a.m. we'll see the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and at 9 a.m. the latest Consumer Confidence numbers are out. Wednesday the latest EIA numbers, including ethanol production and inventory, are out at 10 a.m., followed by 2 p.m. Broiler Hatchery report. Thursday we'll watch for the 7:30 a.m. release of Initial Jobless Claims, GDP Revised Q1 reports and Grain Export Sales. At 9 a.m., Pending Home Sales and Consumer Sentiment is out. Then at 11 a.m. is the USDA Grain Stocks and Prospective Planting reports, followed by a 2 pm. release of the Hogs and Pigs report. Friday grain markets are closed for Good Friday; however, some USDA reports are still released that day. At 7:30 a.m. the U.S. Trade Balance, Retail and Wholesale Inventories, Personal Income and the PCE Index reports are released.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 25, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. new home sales for February will be out at 9 a.m. CDT Monday, followed by USDA's weekly export inspections at 10 a.m. USDA's monthly cold storage report is set for 2 p.m. Thursday will be the busy day this week with Grain Stocks, Prospective Plantings and Hogs and Pigs reports set for release before the Good Friday holiday. Weather A storm system that moved into the Plains and Upper Midwest on Sunday continues in these same areas for Monday, though some areas that were rain switched to snow and some areas that saw snow have switched to rain. Strong winds are leading to blizzard conditions in portions of the Plains. The main cold front will move into the Mississippi Valley Monday with scattered showers and thunderstorms, some of which are likely to become severe across the Delta. Cold air funneling into the Plains could be damaging for wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 22, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's monthly cattle on feed report for March 1 is due out at 2 p.m. CDT Friday. Dow Jones' survey is expecting USDA will find 11.75 million head on feed, almost 1% more than a year ago at this time. Traders continue to keep an eye on South American weather. Weather A pair of systems, one north and one south, will move through the eastern portions of the country Friday and Saturday with scattered showers, including some moderate snow across the north. Western states will see showers along the coast as a major system is set to move into the region this weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 22, 2024 |


Colombia Restores Market Access for U.S. Poultry After months of hard work by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the USDA, Columbia reopened its market to U.S. poultry and egg producers. “Ensuring our producers can compete on a level playing field across the globe is a top priority for the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office,” says USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip. “We are pleased that American poultry and egg producers have renewed access to higher income for them, their families, and our rural communities because of efforts to remove this market access barrier.” The Colombian government had stopped issuing import permits for U.S. poultry on August 7, 2023. The government cited concerns over the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. The restored market access is another major win for American agriculture. “We’re pleased that Colombia is living up to the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement,” says Alexis Taylor, USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. *********************************************************************************** Ag Leaders Want Certainty on Sustainable Aviation Fuel A multi-state coalition of biofuel and farm advocates asked the Treasury Department to swiftly resolve any questions standing in the way of scaling up U.S. production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel. More specifically, they urged the administration to quickly adopt the U.S. Department of Energy’s GREET model for calculating SAF tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act. That would complete a process that was supposed to conclude by March 1. “We are disappointed the administration didn’t fulfill its commitment to release a modified GREET model by March 1, but we appreciate the importance of getting the modeling right,” wrote 26 organizations. “At the same time, we caution against contradictory changes to GREET that would stack unwarranted penalties on agricultural feedstocks, cut rural America out of a promising green energy market, and undermine any path to achieving SAF goals.” Groups in the coalition include Clean Fuels Alliance America, Growth Energy, and many others. *********************************************************************************** Ethanol Production and Inventories Rise The Energy Information Administration says ethanol output in the U.S. rose week to week, and inventories increased during the seven days ending on March 15. EIS data shows that production rose to an average of 1.04 million barrels a day, up from 1.024 million a week earlier. In the Midwest, which produces the most ethanol in the U.S., total output rose to 995,000 barrels from 973,000 during the previous week. That was the entirety of the weekly gains as the EIS said the remaining regions were unchanged. Gulf Coast production was steady at 21,000 barrels a day, and West Coast output stayed at 8,000 barrels daily. Rocky Mountain and East Coast production were both unchanged at 11,000 barrels a day. Turning to the supply on hand, the EIS said ethanol inventories at the end of the week totaled just over 26 million barrels, up from 25.7 million a week earlier. *********************************************************************************** Food and Ag Industries Have $9.63 Trillion Impact Over thirty agriculture groups released the eighth annual “Feeding the Economy” report. The study helps estimate the direct and indirect economic contributions of the food and agriculture industries on jobs, wages, economic output, and business taxes. The 2024 report’s findings show the total economic impact for the food and agriculturally-related industries grew almost 12 percent over the past year and reached $9.63 trillion. That’s 20 percent of the total U.S. output. Total jobs in the industry reached more than 48 million. Total wages were $2.7 trillion, up 34 percent since the 2020 report. Total taxes were $1.25 trillion, up 37 percent since the 2020 report. Total exports of $181.6 billion were down three percent since 2020. From the 2020 report till now, food and agriculture manufacturing jobs grew at a faster rate than any other job category in America. Agricultural production now accounts for 20 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs. *********************************************************************************** More Reaction to the New Tailpipe Emissions Standards Growth Energy joined a number of U.S. agriculture groups expressing disappointment in the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule on vehicle emissions standards. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says since the rule was proposed in April 2023, the administration has heard loud and clear that it would be a mistake to ignore biofuels. “They are a proven, abundant, and American-made solution to reduce emissions,” Skor says. “The final rule offers automakers some limited flexibility, but it fails to include any meaningful changes to ensure we’re not leaving biofuels on the sidelines.” She also points out that experts worldwide agree that EVs alone won’t get the U.S. to a net-zero future. “We need carbon savings within liquid fuels, and that requires a bigger role for American bioethanol,” she says. “It’s baffling to see EPA accept a false choice between only two paths forward – fossil fuel only vehicles or mass adoption of EVS.” *********************************************************************************** Consumers Think Food Prices Still Too High While inflation has eased somewhat, food prices are still high. A study conducted by the University of Illinois and Purdue University asked consumers what type of companies they believe are behind high food prices. “Consumers are frustrated with many downstream actors, like food manufacturers, grocery stores, and restaurants, feeling these groups are overcharging them,” says Brenna Ellison, a Purdue economist and co-author of the study. Two-thirds of consumers consider food manufacturers too big, and over half believe grocery stores have too much control or market share. The survey showed consumers felt farmers were the least to blame. More than 70 percent of consumers believe that restaurants, grocery stores, and food manufacturers are overcharging them. Despite political differences, a significant number of consumers across party lines share concerns about the size of food manufacturers and grocery stores, indicating a bipartisan worry regarding market power despite often significant political differences in the respondents.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 21, 2024 |


Ag Groups React to New EPA Tailpipe Standards The National Corn Growers Association expressed grave concern and disappointment with the Environmental Protection Agency’s final 2027-2032 tailpipe emissions standards. NCGA says the plan still relies almost exclusively on using electric vehicles, a decision that will have long-lasting impacts on the rural economy because it ignores the benefits of ethanol. Economists at the University of Nebraska say the resulting large drop in corn demand will lead to a permanent 50 percent decrease in the price of corn. That could cost the top five corn-producing states well over $100 billion in farmland value. The Renewable Fuels Association says today’s ruling is not the best way to accomplish the administration’s climate goals. “Today’s final rule forces automakers to produce more electric battery vehicles based on the premise that they’re ‘zero-emission’ vehicles,” says RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The regulation would strongly discourage manufacturers from pursuing other technologies like flex fuel vehicles.” *********************************************************************************** House Ag Committee Dealing with Chinese Influence on U.S. Ag The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing Wednesday regarding concerns over foreign influence on American agriculture. Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA) said the more specific purpose of the hearing was to discuss the influence that China has on U.S. agriculture. “I want us to keep in mind that China is an important trading partner to the U.S.,” Scott said in his opening statement. “We need a thorough and policy-heavy conversation so we can help American farmers and our agricultural system navigate this issue.” He also pointed out that China is America’s largest trading partner, accounting for $33.7 billion in U.S. agricultural exports last fiscal year. American farmers produce way more than the country can use domestically, so trade is vital. “My colleagues will often note that we are in an agricultural trade deficit,” he added. “I’m here to tell you that alienating our trade partners will only deepen the deficit.” *********************************************************************************** EV Push Will Drive U.S. Deficit $200 Billion Higher Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley is increasing his opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s tailpipe emissions proposal. He cites a new cost estimate by the Congressional Budget Office. “The CBO released a ten-year budget and economic outlook projecting a $224 billion increase in the cumulative deficit caused by higher electric vehicle tax credit claims and reduced gas tax revenues,” he says. “CBO noted the EV Rule is the largest factor to contributing to these revisions.” In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Grassley said, “The American taxpayers have not voted for and can’t afford the EPA’s tailpipe standards.” Grassley also noted the challenges the standards pose for auto dealers and wants the agency to clarify its legal authority for promoting the EV Rule. He’d also like the EPA to outline its plans to compensate for the hundreds of billions of dollars in lost tax revenue and extra spending. *********************************************************************************** El Niño’s impact on U.S. Farmers The 2024 growing season is expected to bring a unique combination of El Niño this spring through early summer before switching to La Niña in late summer through early fall. Farmers Business Network says the opposing climate patterns have the potential to trigger significant weather events that could have problematic impacts on crop production. 2023 ended with a strong El Niño, which is weakening now and will end around April. However, the long-term impacts will be felt throughout the growing season. The U.S weather patterns will likely shift back to normal between April and July, followed by a probable La Niña through September. The report also says 2024 planting dates will likely be slightly earlier for wheat and rice while remaining typical for corn and soybeans. Corn, wheat, and soybean yields are expected to increase this year because of El Niño, while rice yields will slightly decline from last year. *********************************************************************************** Mexico to Boost Corn Imports Mexican corn imports are expected to rise during the 2024-2025 marketing year amid increased demand. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service says corn imports are forecast to increase five percent year-over-year to 22 million tons to meet the Mexican government’s forecast of an increasing demand for starch and animal food production. Mexico is the world’s second-largest grain importer behind only China. Successful Farming says relatively lower forecast corn prices compared to the previous year and growing demand from livestock producers and processors will drive up corn imports. The U.S. accounted for more than 85 percent of Mexico’s corn imports. Mexican corn production in the 2024-2025 marketing year starting on October 1 is forecast to jump seven percent to 25 million metric tons due to increased planted area and less abandonment. “Optimism about returning to average rainfall and moisture levels after exceptional drought is expected to incentivize farmers to increase their planted area,” USDA says. *********************************************************************************** USGC Releases the Corn Export Cargo Quality Report The U.S. Grains Council released its 2023-2024 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report which contained some good news. The average aggregate quality of U.S. corn samples tested for the report was better than or equal to U.S. No. 2 on all grade factors and represented an improvement on the five-year average of previous crops on several fronts. “The Council is committed to furthering global food security and mutual economic benefit through trade,” says USGC Chair Brent Boydston. “This report will assist buyers in making well-informed decisions by providing reliable and timely information about U.S. corn destined for export.” The average test weight came in at 58.1 pounds per bushel, which was higher than the previous marketing year and the five-year average. Chemical analysis showed an 8.9 percent protein concentration, up from 8.7 percent last year and the five-year average. All samples tested below the Food and Drug Administration’s action level for aflatoxins.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 21, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Reports on U.S. existing home sales in February and U.S. leading indicators are due out at 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report at 9:30 a.m. Weather A clipper-like system is moving into the Northern Plains and will produce a band of snow into the Upper Midwest by Thursday night. At the same time, an upper-level low-pressure system is moving through South-Central states with scattered showers and some thunderstorms of its own, some of which may be severe in eastern Texas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 20, 2024 |


Ag Import Values Outpaced Export Values in 2023 USDA’s Economic Research Service reports U.S. agricultural imports exceeded exports by $16.6 billion in fiscal year 2023. For nearly 60 years, U.S. agricultural trade maintained a surplus, but in fiscal year 2019, the balance shifted to a deficit, where it has stayed three out of the last five fiscal years. Imports have largely followed a stable upward trend, while exports have had relatively wide swings. From 2013 to 2023, import values increased at a compound annual growth rate of 5.8 percent, and exports grew at a rate of 2.1 percent. Although the U.S. agricultural trade balance is closely watched, it reflects changing consumer tastes, a robust economy, and a strong dollar, and is not an indicator of export competitiveness or import dependence. USDA says the U.S. consumer’s growing appetite for high-valued imported goods—such as fruits and vegetables, alcoholic beverages, and processed grain products—has contributed to the expanding trade deficit. *********************************************************************************** MU Releases New Baseline Food and Agricultural Outlook Farm commodity prices have tumbled from the peak levels they rose to during spring 2022 — and new projections suggest that downward pressure on prices could continue throughout 2024 and beyond. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri recently released its annual agricultural market baseline outlook. The outlook provides projections for agricultural and biofuel markets and serves as a point of reference for evaluating alternative scenarios for food and agricultural policy. Another key finding from the report is that net farm income is projected to fall to its lowest level since 2020. For consumers, food price inflation slowed in 2023, and FAPRI's report suggests that this trend could continue in 2024. The consumer price index for food is anticipated to increase 2.1 percent in 2024, with the lion's share of the increase coming from food away from home. The annual report summarizes ten-year "baseline" projections for several economic indicators, and can be found on the FAPRI website. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces Grants for Urban Agriculture The Department of Agriculture is accepting grant applications to support urban agriculture and innovative production. Chief of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, Terry Cosby, says, "These projects will add to the important work communities are doing to build food security in underserved areas." Since 2020, the grants have invested more than $46.8 million in 186 projects across the country, and they're part of USDA's broad support for urban and innovative producers. UAIP grants are available to a wide range of individuals and entities, including local and Tribal governments, nonprofits, and schools. The program provides grants for two types of projects: Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. The program was established through the 2018 Farm Bill. It is led by NRCS and works in partnership with numerous USDA agencies that support urban agriculture and innovative production. Applications for USDA’s Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production grants are due April 9, 2024, via grants.gov. *********************************************************************************** Noble Research Institute Partners with Ranch Management Consultants Noble Research Institute Ranch Management Consultants Tuesday announced a collaboration with an exclusive licensing agreement granting Noble use of RMC's Ranching for Profit program content. Noble will design and develop a suite of educational, skill-building products incorporating both Noble-developed and Ranching for Profit content. The first Noble product benefiting from this relationship, Noble Business Essentials, is scheduled to be launched in June 2024. Noble's purpose is to save U.S. grazing lands by promoting land stewardship through regenerative management, building soil health and keeping ranchers on the land. RMC has been recognized in agriculture business training for more than four decades. Noble's Business Essentials will provide easy-to-understand financial strategies for farmers and ranchers. The program is the third of Noble's Essentials series, including Noble Land Essentials and Noble Grazing Essentials. RMC's Ranching for Profit schools, a 7-day learning program, are designed to help ranchers and farmers find the breakthroughs needed to improve the health of their land, the profitability of their business and the quality of their life. *********************************************************************************** Researchers: Blue-Green Algae Can Protect Honey Bees Scientists at USDA’s Agricultural Research developed an edible antiviral treatment that can be used to protect honey bees against Deformed Wing Virus and other viruses. Honeybees are important agricultural pollinators. However, viruses, including DWV, are linked to the deaths of millions of colonies worldwide. These colony losses devastate beekeeping industries and pose a major risk to agriculture and the global food supply. While there are medicines for other bee diseases and parasites, there is currently no treatment available to help beekeepers reduce viruses in their colonies. Researchers found that engineered algae diets suppressed DWV infection and improved survival in honeybees. When mixed into bee food, the engineered algae boost the bee’s immune system to fight off the targeted virus. The researchers filed a patent application for the technology and plan to use variations of it to target additional bee viruses and other pathogens in future studies. *********************************************************************************** Cargill Awards More Than $3 Million Grant to National FFA Organization Cargill awarded a three-year grant of $3.15 million to the National FFA Organization in support of its commitment to shape future agriculture leaders. The grant supports various National FFA Organization programs and events during the three-year period, including the organization's sustainability platform, the equity, diversity and inclusion pathway, and the Living to Serve program. During the National FFA Convention & Expo, the grant supports a booth, the rodeo and travel grants for career development event participants. In addition, the funding supports the American FFA Degree and the American Star Awards. Cargill's grant also supports programs that encourage the exploration of career pathways in agriculture. National FFA and Cargill look forward to continued partnership to ensure an even greater impact in the remaining two years of the grant. FFA’s Molly Ball says, “This grant allows us to reach more members and continue providing new opportunities that help feed the talent pipeline."

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 20, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The Energy Department's weekly inventory report is at 9:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by a Fed rate announcement at 1 p.m. Most expect the Fed to keep the federal funds rate target unchanged at 5.25% to 5.50%. Traders continue to keep close watch on South American weather. Weather A cold front that moved through the north on Tuesday continues farther south on Wednesday with colder temperatures settling across northern areas. That will continue some lake-effect snows in the Great Lakes and snow will start to develop in the Northern Plains as a system starts to move into the Pacific Northwest. An upper-level low in the Southwest will finally start to move eastward into the Southern Plains where some showers will be possible as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 19, 2024 |


Senators Demand Increase in Ag Exports A group of Senate Republicans are demanding the Biden administration take action to increase agricultural exports. The group of 19 Senators penned a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them to increase U.S. agricultural exports and improve the competitiveness of U.S. products abroad. The letter says, “The current sharp decline in U.S. agricultural exports is directly attributable to and exacerbated by an unambitious U.S. trade strategy that is failing to meaningfully expand market access or reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.” The lawmakers say diminishing access to foreign agricultural markets for U.S. industries creates significant economic headwinds and jeopardizes the livelihoods of more than one million American workers, farmers, and ranchers. For the 2023 marketing year, nearly 70 million acres of major crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat were planted to meet the demands of foreign customers. *********************************************************************************** Lawmakers Seek USDA Telework Policy Investigation Two Senate Agriculture Committee members are questioning the Department of Agriculture's telework policy. Republicans John Boozman of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa request USDA's Inspector General build upon its oversight of the federal agency's telework abuse and expand its investigation into the department's footprint and workforce. In a letter, Boozman and Ernst called for an enhanced investigation after USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was questioned during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing last month. The committee focused on a department supervisor's revelation to the committee that the agency's headquarters resemble a "ghost town," to which the secretary claimed that his employees and managers are in the D.C. office "a majority of the week." The letter states, "Secretary Vilsack's apparent misapprehension regarding the telework posture of his workforce underlines the importance of comprehensive reviews, audits, and evaluations of the USDA's telework, locality pay, and space utilization policies." The letter requests a response by March 27, 2024. *********************************************************************************** FAS Expands Presence in Mexico with New Guadalajara Office The Department of Agriculture is expanding its footprint in Mexico by opening the Foreign Agricultural Service's newest foreign office in Guadalajara last week. FAS Administrator Daniel Whitley says, "The decision to establish this new office reflects the importance of our agriculture and trade relationship with Mexico." Whitley presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 11 with Consul General Amy Scanlon from the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara. U.S.-Mexico bilateral trade in agricultural and related products reached a record of more than $76 billion in 2023, benefiting the entire supply chain, from producers to processors to shippers to consumers, making high-quality farm and food products more readily available on both sides of the border. Guadalajara is Mexico's second-largest city and is the capital of the of the of Jalisco in west-central Mexico. The region is considered Mexico's breadbasket, home to large agricultural production and processing industries, and an important economic, cultural, and commercial center. ***********************************************************************************| NPPC Applauds USDA Purchase of More Pork for Nutrition Programs Using funds from its Commodity Credit Corporation, the Department of Agriculture is purchasing an additional 33.5 million pounds of pork — worth more than $78.6 million — for distribution to various food nutrition and assistance programs. Earlier this year, USDA bought $25 million of pork under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935, which authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to make commodity purchases, entitlement purchases, and disaster assistance using funds appropriated annually from U.S. customs receipts. The National Pork Producers Council applauded USDA’s purchase and says the organization will continue working with the agency to identify additional opportunities to find support for U.S. pork producers during challenging market conditions. The U.S. pork industry has faced a challenging economic market over the past 18 months, with producers losing an average of $30 — sometimes $40 to $60 — on each hog marketed in 2023. NPPC says these pork purchases provide much-needed support to the hog and wholesale pork markets and secure affordable, nutritious pork products for USDA recipient programs. *********************************************************************************** USDA: Infant Formula Rebates Reduce WIC Spending Rebates for infant formula help reduce costs of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC. USDA’s Economic Research Service reports that from 1989 to 2022, savings to WIC from the rebates totaled $71.9 billion in inflation-adjusted 2022 dollars, or 23 percent. Without the rebates, the Federal Government would have spent about $307.5 billion on the WIC program over that period. With the rebates, the Government spent $235.6 billion. The greatest savings come from strategies used to contain the costs of providing infant formula through the program. Since 1989, most WIC state agencies have used competitive bidding to award contracts to a single manufacturer to serve as the formula of first choice for infant participants in their state. In return, manufacturers offer WIC State agencies rebates for each unit of formula sold through the program. State agencies responsible for implementing WIC use cost-containment strategies to reduce program costs. *********************************************************************************** Gas Higher Again, Diesel Lower The national average gas price increased for the third consecutive week, climbing 4.4 cents from a week ago to $3.44 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. The national average is up 18.7 cents from a month ago and 1.6 cents per gallon higher than a year ago. U.S. retail gasoline demand saw a rise of 3.1 percent for the week. The national average diesel price declined 2.2 cents last week and is $4.00 per gallon—28 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan says, "For now, gas prices will likely continue to trend higher, but the fever may break soon." Refinery output is starting to increase as the maintenance season comes to an end. When it comes to diesel, above-average temperatures have lowered heating oil demand, and average diesel prices are on the cusp of falling back below $4 per gallon. The most common U.S. diesel price stood at $3.89 per gallon.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 19, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. housing starts in February will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Tuesday. The Federal Reserve starts its two-day meeting and is expected to keep the federal funds rate unchanged on Wednesday. Traders continue to keep an eye on South American weather and recent events in Ukraine. Weather A clipper system is moving through the Great Lakes Tuesday. A cold front following behind it will be bringing in a fresh round of colder air to the northern tier of the country, setting the stage for an active and snowier pattern for the rest of the week.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 18, 2024 |


Justice Department, FTC Statements on Right to Repair The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Federal Trade Commission submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office advocating for regulations that would facilitate the right to repair. The agencies are in favor of consumers and businesses getting to repair their own equipment. The Copyright Office is considering whether to recommend that the Library of Congress renew and expand temporary exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition against the circumvention of technology protection measures that control access to copyrighted content. In their comments, the agencies said that renewing and expanding repair-related exemptions would promote competition in markets for replacement parts, repair and maintenance services, and facilitate competition in markets for repairable products. “Promoting competition in repair markets benefits consumers and businesses by making it easier and cheaper to fix the things they own,” the comments say. “Expanding repair exemptions can also remove barriers limiting independent service providers from doing their work.” *********************************************************************************** Bill Solidifies Critical Fertilizer Minerals The Fertilizer Institute thanks the U.S. Senate for introducing bipartisan legislation to include phosphate and potash on the final list of critical minerals of the Department of the Interior. TFI says the legislation will recognize the importance of ensuring a strong and sustainable domestic fertilizer supply for American farmers. ‘The majority of the world’s phosphate and potash resources are concentrated in only a few countries, leaving them open to supply chain vulnerabilities and geopolitical instability,” says TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “The events of the last few years have shown us that food security is national security, and now is the time to change how we talk about these vital resources.” The U.S. imports about 95 percent of its potash needs, the bulk of which comes from Canada. Only 14 countries in the world produce potash. “This will help us take significant strides toward securing our food supply,” he adds. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Wheat Farms Dropped 40 Percent in 20 Years The Economic Research Service says the number of U.S. wheat farms has dropped substantially over time. Since 2002, the total number of wheat farms fell by over 40 percent, from 169,528 in 2002 to 97,014 in 2022. In addition to the decline in wheat farms, wheat production is down slightly but has been variable year to year. The ERS says annual wheat production ranged from about 1.6 billion bushels in marketing year 2002-2003 to as much as 2.5 billion bushels in 2008-2009. However, wheat production didn’t exceed two billion bushels from 2017 through 2023. The ERS says the reduction in the number of farms reporting wheat harvested area occurred across all wheat classes. The number of farms producing durum wheat saw the largest percentage drop, down nearly 60 percent from the 2002 Census and 30 percent from the 2017 Census. Only five states saw increases in the number of wheat farms. *********************************************************************************** USDA Issues March Livestock Outlook In 2024, U.S. beef exports are expected to be about 83 percent lower than those in 2023. The drop is due to lower beef production this year brought on by tightening cattle supplies and tougher global competition from beef exporting countries like Australia. Pork exports are forecast to increase by almost 4.6 percent from 2023 due to higher domestic production and less global competition from the European Union. Broiler exports this year are expected to decline about 1.4 percent compared to last year due to higher domestic prices and weak demand from China. Turkey is expected to be competitively priced in 2024, with exports forecast to be up 6.4 percent compared to last year. Compared with 2023, dairy exports on a skim-solids milk-equivalent basis should increase slightly this year by 0.2 percent. Relatively strong domestic demand for dairy products and limited growth in milk production will likely limit export growth. *********************************************************************************** USDA Invests in Organic Promotion The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service awarded about $40.5 million for 60 grant projects through the Organic Market Development Grant Program. These projects will support the development of new and existing organic markets, support the infrastructure to improve processing capacity, explore emerging technologies to promote organic products, and purchase equipment to help meet the increasing demand for organic commodities. USDA anticipates the projects funded through this program will benefit more than 27,000 producers and over 31.8 million consumers by increasing organic market opportunities. “Farmers who choose to grow organic often access new, more, and better markets,” says USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl (so-CHEEL) Torres Small. “At USDA, we are committed to making it easier for farmers who make that choice through programs like the Organic Market Development Grant Program, which supports farmers and increases access to fresh, healthy foods.” This round of awards will address critical needs within the nation’s growing organic industry. *********************************************************************************** Lamb Lovers Month a Success February was Lamb Lovers month. The 2024 ad campaign called “Show Us Your Chops” reached over 125,000 culinary enthusiasts across three targeted demographics. The campaign helped drive more than 10,000 unique visitors to the American Lamb Board’s consumer website. Once on the site, visitors learned more about American Lamb, had access to recipes, and had the option to enter a campaign contest to win a Dutch oven and two racks of American Lamb. “This campaign proved to be a cost-effective advertising campaign for reaching culinary enthusiasts and provided some key insights into various demographics targeted by the campaign,” says ALB chairman Jeff Ebert. The campaign ran ads on Facebook and Instagram targeting consumers interested in dining and cooking. The audience was then subdivided into three categories by age and stage of life. They include “Culinary Curious” at 28-34 years old, “Culinary Hustlers” at 35-44 years old, and “Culinary Connoisseurs” at 48-67.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 18, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - National Ag Day, Cold Clipper Coming 1. National Ag Day, March 19: Sunday is St. Patrick's Day, and with the warm winter things are beginning to green up around the country. That also means it's time for National Ag Day, March 19. There will be celebrations around the U.S., and a number of observances and festivities in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. DTN, which is a sponsor of the Agriculture Council of American that organizes National Ag Day, will be on hand in the nation's capital 2. Podcasts hit hot topics: In addition to timely news coverage, we explore the background of many of our top stories via the Progressive Farmer Field Posts podcasts. The latest, a wrap-up of the 2024 Commodity Classic, is up in our podcast area, and next week we'll have a summation of Ag Day events. Podcast host Sarah Mock will be interviewing DTN Editor-in-Chief Greg Horstmeier on those topics. 3. Cattle on Feed Report Friday: As noted below, Friday is the latest Cattle on Feed Report numbers; we'll have a preview by DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart earlier in the week and analysis of the latest numbers Friday afternoon. 4. Cool clipper coming: The previous week ended like a lion, with storms, hail and tornado damage around the Midwest. That will be followed by a clipper system will quickly move through the Midwest this weekend and will send a stronger cold front and burst of below-normal temperatures through the country going into early next week. The storm will also produce lake-effect snow in the Great Lakes. 5. Economic reports to watch: Monday, 9 a.m. has the Grain Inspections and the Home Builder Confidence Index. Tuesday, we'll see the 7:30 a.m. release of February Housing Starts and Building Permits. Wednesday, at 1 p.m. we expect the latest Federal Reserve interest-rate decision, followed by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's press conference at 1:30. At 2 p.m. we'll see the Broiler Hatchery report. Thursday starts early with 7:30 a.m. release of Grain Export Sales and Initial Jobless Claims. At 8:45 a.m. there is the S&P Services and Manufacturing PMIs. At 9 a.m. the U.S. Leading Economic Indicators and Existing Home Sales reports hit, followed by Livestock Slaughter numbers at 2 p.m. On Friday, at 2 p.m. is the U.S. Cattle on Feed and Chicken and Eggs reports.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 18, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will return from the weekend and quickly catch up on the latest weather forecasts for South America. USDA's weekly export inspections report will be out at 10 a.m. CDT with more shipments needed for wheat as the season ticks down. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve probably won't change the federal funds rate target, but traders will be listening for clues from Chairman Jerome Powell. Weather A cold front that moved through most of the country over the weekend is building some cold air into most areas east of the Rockies on Monday. The colder air is producing some lake-effect snow in the Great Lakes and late frosts across the Deep South for Monday night.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 15, 2024 |


Advocating Amid Decline in Ag Exports Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and John Thune (R-SD) joined colleagues in urging U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to improve ag export opportunities. They joined Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Mike Crapo (CRAY-po) (R-Idaho) in writing a letter to Vilsack and Tai acknowledging that trade fluctuates because of macroeconomic factors and market conditions. “However, the current sharp decline in U.S. agricultural exports is directly attributable to and exacerbated by an unambitious U.S. trade strategy that’s failing to meaningfully expand market access or reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade,” the senators wrote in a letter. “While the administration refuses to pursue trade agreements, China, Canada, the EU, the United Kingdom, and others continue to ink trade pacts that diminish American export opportunities and global economic influence.” Grassley, Thune, and Boozman serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee while Crapo is the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. *********************************************************************************** Risk Management Tool for Specialty and Smaller Producers The Risk Management Agency knows that finding the right risk management tools for specialty crops and smaller-scale farmers can be overwhelming. That’s why the RMA created a new searchable directory of crop insurance agents who have experience selling Whole Farm Revenue Protection and Micro Farm policies. With 1,135 crop insurance agents listed and providing coverage in all 50 states, the process of finding the “right risk management fit” got easier. “The new tool is part of RMA’s efforts to make crop insurance more equitable and accessible for all producers,” says RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger. “Whole Farm Revenue Protection and Micro Farm are two of the most comprehensive risk management plans available, and they are especially important to specialty crop, organic, urban, and direct-market producers.” The tool also includes regional specialists located in each of the RMA’s regional offices. Specialty crop producers and small-scale producers can go to rma.usda.gov for more information. *********************************************************************************** World Pork Expo is in June The National Pork Producers Council announces the World Pork Expo returns on June 5-6 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Though pork producers have faced their share of challenges, the annual Expo showcases the best the industry offers in the form of educational and networking opportunities not found anywhere else. The world’s largest pork-specific trade show returns with more than 700 booths showcasing the latest and greatest in pork production technology and services. Just some of the things attendees can expect include a new schedule with two days filled with seminars, networking, and innovation from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. It’s also a chance to connect with over 10,000 industry professionals in the ultimate meeting place for pork producers. It’s a festival atmosphere, including a celebration of pork with new entertainment, blending professional insights with a lot of fun. For more information, attendees should go to worldpork.org. *********************************************************************************** Strengthening the U.S. Bioeconomy The USDA released a plan to boost biomass supply chain resiliency for domestic biobased product manufacturing. The plan will also advance environmental sustainability and market opportunities for small and mid-sized producers. The plan is called “Building a Resilient Biomass Supply.” “The increasing demand for biomass is a golden opportunity to expand markets and create new revenue for American farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners, particularly in rural areas,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This comprehensive roadmap will strengthen our production and pre-processing systems to provide incentives for producers and manufacturers so that biomass can be used to fuel the American economy.” Biomass is organic material that comes from crop residues, agricultural and food wastes, forest residuals, livestock, as well as biomass crops that are grown specifically as feedstocks to produce biobased products. Biobased products contributed $489 billion to the U.S. economy in 2021, a more than five percent increase from 2020. *********************************************************************************** Purina Offering $20,000 in Scholarships Purina Animal Health, along with the Land O’ Lakes Foundation, has opened its scholarship program designed to assist students with experience in agriculture and livestock production to pursue their education. Now, along with undergraduate students, current high school seniors who have experience in raising and caring for small or large livestock, equine, or poultry, are eligible to apply for one of four $5,000 scholarships. Along with the impact animal agriculture has had on their lives, desired applicants will be able to demonstrate academic excellence, leadership skills, community involvement, and have a clear vision for their future. Scholarship applications will be accepted March 18 through April 17. Applicants will receive their scholarship funds for the Fall 2024 semester at their current or anticipated education institution. The scholarship is open for high school seniors enrolling in full-time undergraduate studies and undergraduate students enrolled in a two or four-year college or vocational-technical school. *********************************************************************************** Australian Farmers More Confident After Rainfall Widespread rainfall and improving livestock prices are giving Australian farmers more confidence than they’ve had in a couple of years. A survey published this week shows Australian farmers’ confidence levels at their highest point in two years. Australia is one of the world’s biggest agricultural exporters and a top competitor of the United States. An El Nino weather pattern last year sank farmers’ confidence as the weather brought dry conditions that hammered crop yields hard and pushed livestock markets lower. Unexpected rain across the southern and eastern parts of the country during the southern hemisphere’s summer season has turned pastures green, pushed sheep and cattle prices higher, and raised the prospect of bigger harvests. Reuters says some forecasters expect El Nino to flip to La Nina later this year. That typically brings wetter weather to eastern Australia. More farmers are positive than negative in expectations for the first time since June 2023.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 15, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The Federal Reserve's report of U.S. industrial production for February will be out at 8:15 a.m. CST Friday. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for March will follow at 9 a.m. Traders remain interested in South American weather and will keep an eye on April crude oil prices that closed at a new four-month high on Thursday. Weather A system that has brought heavy thunderstorms and severe weather to parts of the Plains and Midwest the past couple of days continues in the Southeast for Friday. Storms are not expected to be as strong as the past couple of days but could still be severe across the southern tier. An upper-level low-pressure center in the Southwest will keep the Four Corners and front range areas active with showers and snow.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 14, 2024 |


Trade Mission Offers New Opportunities in South Korea Representatives from 49 U.S. companies and organizations will join the Department of Agriculture agribusiness trade mission to Seoul, South Korea. Led by Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis M. Taylor, the mission takes place March 25-28. Undersecretary Taylor says, "I'm confident that this trade mission will produce great results for America's farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, and exporters, as we work to strengthen trade with our existing partners and expand and diversify the products we offer." South Korea ranks as the United States' fifth-largest single-export market. Also, as one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world during the past several decades, and with relatively small amounts of arable land, South Korea relies heavily on imported agricultural goods, especially meat and bulk commodities, to satisfy food and feed demand. While on the trade mission, participants will engage in targeted business-to-business meetings and site visits to build new trade linkages, strengthen existing partnerships, observe U.S. products in the marketplace, and discover the latest Korean consumer food trends. *********************************************************************************** Overall Tractor Sales Lower Compared to February 2023 Unit sales of 100+ horsepower ag tractors increased slightly in February 2024 in the U.S., according to new data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The month recorded an increase of 2.8 percent compared to February 2023. However, year-to-date data reflects sales below 2023 in total units of ag tractors and combines. Ag tractor sales dipped 14.2 percent, while combines finished under 18.9 percent. In Canada, combine sales jumped 27.2 percent in February 2024 compared to 2023, and are up a total of 6.3 percent year-to-date compared to last year. A total of 131 combines were sold in February, adding to the overall year-to-date sales of 255 units. AEM's Curt Blades says, "The combine sales in Canada are a bright spot when we take a deeper look at February's performance," adding, "The uptick in sales of 100+ horsepower ag tractors in the U.S. also bodes well for the long-term strength of our industry moving forward." Total ag tractor sales fell in Canada by 28.2% year-to-date compared to 2023. *********************************************************************************** USDA: Iowa leads States in Hog Production New data confirms Iowa is the top producer of hogs in the United States, with about $10.9 billion in cash receipts in 2022, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Cash receipts represent the value of sales of hogs by farmers to processors or final users. Following Iowa are Minnesota, North Carolina, and Illinois, with cash receipts of $3.6 billion, $3.1 billion, and $2.1 billion, respectively. Iowa accounted for about 35.5 percent of the $30.6 billion in total U.S. cash receipts for hogs in 2022. The top ten hog-producing states cumulatively accounted for 87.6 percent of hog receipts. In the latest Hogs and Pigs report from USDA, the National Agricultural Statistics Service indicated there were nearly 75 million hogs in the United States as of December 1, 2023. USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates farm sector cash receipts—the cash income received from agricultural commodity sales—three times each year. *********************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Fights Hunger Through Harvest for All Program Farm families from across the nation donated 31 million pounds of food and raised $425,879 to help fight hunger in 2023 through Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program. Combined, the monetary and food donations totaled the equivalent of 26 million meals. Now in its 22nd year, Harvest for All is spearheaded by members of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program, but members of all ages from across the nation contribute to the effort. AFBF’s YF&R Committee Chair Kevin Lussier says, “Farm Bureau’s commitment to helping put food on the tables of those in need through Harvest for All remains strong.” Florida Farm Bureau took top honors for donating the most food in 2023, 22 million pounds, while Michigan Farm Bureau took top honors for raising the most money in 2023, $222,000. In addition to raising food and funds, farmers and ranchers tallied 21,571 hours for local food insecurity efforts and other community service. *********************************************************************************** Walmart Announces New Milk Processing Facility in Texas Walmart recently announced an investment in a new milk processing facility in Robinson, Texas, that will open in 2026. The facility will support nearly 400 jobs in the community and allow Walmart to meet the growing demand from customers. Walmart's Bruce Heckman says, "This new facility continues our commitment to building a more resilient and transparent supply chain and ensuring our customers' needs are met for this everyday staple." Walmart has been working across its food offerings to deliver increased transparency about where products come from and ensure supply for grocery essentials. It opened its first milk processing facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 2018, and its second facility in Valdosta, Georgia, is expected to open in 2025. Additional investments include opening its first case-ready beef facility in Thomasville, Georgia, building a second case-ready beef facility in Olathe, Kansas, and making equity investments and long-term commercial agreements with Sustainable Beef LLC and vertical farming company Plenty. *********************************************************************************** Texas Reports More than $800,000 in Wildfire Donations Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced Wednesday the state has received more than $800,000 in donations for wildfire relief. The donations are through the State of Texas Agriculture Relief, or STAR Fund. Miller says, “The overwhelming response demonstrates the strength of our Texas spirit and our commitment to standing together in times of crisis." To date, more than 1,600 individuals have donated to the fund that will provide financial assistance, helping farmers rebuild and recover from the unprecedented damage. The STAR Fund, administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture, provides financial assistance to agricultural producers who have suffered losses due to natural disasters, including wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and droughts. The funds collected will be distributed directly to those in need to help cover expenses such as livestock feed, fencing repairs, and other essential recovery efforts. Those who wish to contribute to the STAR Fund can visit the Texas Department of Agriculture website for more information.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 14, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets DTN's Ag Summit Series continues at 8 a.m. CST Thursday for those that registered (see ). USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m., the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, U.S. producer prices and retail sales for February and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report will be out at 9:30 a.m., followed by USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook for March at 2 p.m. Weather A system is moving through the middle of the country Thursday with scattered showers and thunderstorms. It has already produced large hail in Kansas and northern Missouri and will spread that threat out from northeast Texas to Ohio today. Large hail is again the biggest threat, but tornadoes and strong winds are also possible. Heavy snow continues in the Four Corners and front range areas as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 13, 2024 |


February Grocery Prices Unchanged Grocery prices held steady in the latest Consumer Price Index by the Department of Labor. While food prices stayed flat, the overall index increased .4 percent, following a .3 percent increase in January. Three of the six major grocery store food group indexes decreased over the month. The index for dairy and related products decreased 0.6 percent in February, led by a 1.1 percent decline in the index for cheese and related products. The fruits and vegetables index decreased 0.2 percent over the month, as did the nonalcoholic beverages index. The cereals and bakery products index rose 0.5 percent in February, following a 0.2 percent decrease in January. The meats, poultry, fish, and eggs index also increased over the month, rising 0.1 percent. The index for other food at home was unchanged over the month. The food away from home index rose 0.1 percent in February after rising 0.5 percent in January. *********************************************************************************** Vilsack Announces Broadband, Drinking Water Investments Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday announced funding for high speed internet and drinking water systems for tribal communities. The Department of Agriculture is investing $58 million in Tribal communities in Nevada, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The funding will support economic development, high-speed internet deployment and modern infrastructure. The projects are being financed through the ReConnect Program and the Water and Waste Facility Loans and Grants to Alleviate Health Risks on Tribal Lands Program. Vilsack says, “USDA is committed to building our economy from the middle out and bottom-up by bringing high-speed internet, clean water and critical infrastructure to people in small towns and communities everywhere." Vilsack made the announcement at one of the nation's largest Tribal economic development conferences, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development's Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. Investments in the announcement were made possible by various USDA Rural Development programs. *********************************************************************************** Farms Received Nearly a Quarter of Each Food-at-home Dollar in 2022 In 2022, farm establishments received 24.1 cents for each dollar spent on food at home and 3.6 cents for each dollar spent on food away from home. These amounts, called farm shares, highlight the different paths that food takes from farms to consumers' points of purchase, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Food-at-home dollars include food purchases from outlets such as grocery stores, supermarkets, and wholesale clubs that are meant to be prepared at home. Food-away-from-home dollars include food purchases at restaurants, including delivery and carry-out, and other venues where the food is eaten on the premises. The remainder of each food dollar makes up the marketing share, which is the total value of processing, transportation, retailing, and other activities that get food from farm operations to points of purchase for consumers. In 2022, the marketing share was 75.9 cents per food-at-home dollar and 96.4 cents per food-away-from-home dollar. *********************************************************************************** USCA Calls Product of USA Rule a Victory The United States Cattlemen's Association calls USDA's final voluntary 'Product of USA' rule a victory. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the rule Monday at the National Farmers Union annual convention. USCA has worked tirelessly to clarify years of confusion at the consumer level regarding the labeling of U.S. beef products. Starting in 2017, USCA's Director Emeritus Leo McDonnell led a nationwide fundraising effort of cattle producers nationwide that initiated federal rulemaking to close the loophole created by the 2015 repeal of mandatory country-of-origin labeling. The final rule announced yesterday follows a request made by the USCA in a petition for rulemaking submitted to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service in 2019. McDonnel stated, "This announcement takes the necessary steps to bring back truth in labeling." USCA President Justin Tupper added, "USCA is thrilled that the final rule finally closes this loophole by accurately defining what these voluntary origin claims mean. *********************************************************************************** USDA Identifies 2024 Food for Progress Priority Countries The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the 2024 Food for Progress Priority Countries. USDA, through its administration of the Food for Progress Program, helps developing countries and emerging democracies modernize and strengthen their agricultural sectors. U.S. agricultural commodities donated to recipient countries are sold on the local market, and the proceeds are used to support agricultural, economic, or infrastructure development programs. Food for Progress has two principal objectives: to improve agricultural productivity and to expand the trade of agricultural products. For Fiscal Year 2024, Food for Progress anticipates awarding seven new cooperative agreements for projects of three- to five years in duration. Priority countries include Benin, Cambodia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Tunisia. When available, the FY 2024 Notice of Funding Opportunity and information on how to apply will be published on Grants.gov. Past Food for Progress projects have trained farmers in animal and plant health, helped improve farming methods, and developed road and utility systems. *********************************************************************************** California Sets E85 Sales Record in 2023 California, in 2023, set a new E85 sales record. Growth Energy welcomed the new California Air Resources Board data this week. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, "Californians used more E85 than ever last year, a fact that demonstrates how enthusiastic consumers are about higher biofuel blends." Skor encouraged policymakers to take note of the rise of E85 in California and to find ways to lower consumer costs by increasing biofuels' share of the American fuel tank. However, Skor also called on California to fast-track approval of E15. California is the only state in the U.S. where E15--a blend made with 15 percent bioethanol that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves for use in all vehicles made in model year 2001 and newer--is not approved for sale. Still, fuel retailers in the state have taken steps to sell more E85 to California drivers.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 13, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, including ethanol production. Traders remain attentive to South American weather and we are getting closer to USDA's report of Prospective Plantings survey, due out at the end of March. Weather A large storm system will be developing in the Central and Southern Plains on Wednesday, bringing widespread showers and thunderstorms there and to the western Midwest. Some thunderstorms could be strong to severe across northeast Kansas and northern Missouri Wednesday evening.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 12, 2024 |


USDA Finalizes “Product of USA” Label Claim Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday announced the finalization of a rule to align the voluntary “Product of USA” label claim with consumer understanding of what the claim means. Vilsack made the announcement during a speech to attendees of the National Farmers Union Annual Convention in Scottdale, Arizona. Vilsack says, “This final rule will ensure that when consumers see ‘Product of USA’ they can trust the authenticity of that label and know that every step involved.” USDA’s final rule allows the voluntary “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” label claim to be used on meat, poultry and egg products only when they are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States. The rule will prohibit misleading U.S. origin labeling in the market, and help ensure that the information consumers receive about where their food comes from is truthful. Establishments voluntarily using a claim subject to the final rule must comply with the new regulatory requirements by January 1, 2026. *********************************************************************************** Crop Insurance Deadline Nears Farmers not yet enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs for the 2024 crop year have until March 15, 2024, to revise elections and sign contracts. Both safety net programs, delivered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency, support to farmers who experience substantial declines in crop prices or revenues for the 2024 crop year. Producers can elect coverage and enroll in ARC-County or PLC, which provide crop-by-crop protection, or ARC-Individual, which protects the entire farm. Although election changes for 2024 are optional, producers must enroll, with a signed contract, each year. If a producer has a multi-year contract on the farm, the contract will continue for 2024 unless an election change is made. If producers do not submit their election revision by the March 15, 2024, deadline, the election remains the same as their 2023 election for eligible commodities on the farm. For more information on ARC and PLC, contact your local USDA Service Center. *********************************************************************************** Drought Conditions Influence Fluctuations in Beef Cattle Herd New data from USDA Economic Research Service shows that changes in drought conditions impact the size of the U.S. beef cattle herd. Specifically, when the percentage of land area of drought increases for an extended period as noted in the U.S. Drought Monitor, the U.S. beef cattle herd often declines. In 2023, with more than 65 percent of U.S. land area in drought, the U.S. beef cattle herd declined roughly 2.5 percent. When drought conditions diminish forage production and availability, beef cattle producers often must buy supplemental feed and forage or reduce their herd size. Periods of more intense drought are associated with decreases in the U.S. beef cattle herd size, such as when the national beef cattle herd shrank about one to two percent a year during drought between 2011 and 2015. Other factors outside of drought conditions also influence changes in the beef cattle herd size, including feed and forage prices, extreme precipitation events, supply chain issues, and the natural life cycles of livestock. *********************************************************************************** World to Rebuild Rural Ukraine Released February Export Data World to Rebuild Rural Ukraine reports Ukraine managed to export eight million metric tons of agricultural products in February, 3.4 percent more than the previous month. Of that, 5.2 million metric tons were exported through the sea corridor, a record volume since the beginning of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since August 2023, 19 million metric tons of agricultural products have been shipped to foreign markets, which is 68 percent of the total volume of cargo. Ukraine has shipped 2.5 million metric tons of grain and oil through the Danube ports during the first months of 2024. Meanwhile, exports of sunflower oil in February exceeded last year's figure by 50 percent as 603,000 metric tons were exported. And Ukraine exported 8,500 metric tons of dairy products in February, and increase of 22 percent from last year. With planting season underway, WRRU reports costs for the four main expense components—fertilizers, chemicals, seed and fuel are down five percent this year for grains and four percent for oilseeds. *********************************************************************************** Gas Prices Inch Higher, Diesel Lower The nation’s average gas price is inching towards its year-ago level while diesel fell in the last week. GasBuddy reports the nation’s average price of gasoline increased 6.2 cents from a week ago to $3.40 per gallon. The national average is up 23.0 cents from a month ago and 4.5 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average price fell 1.3 cents in the last week and stands at $4.02 per gallon—30 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “Much of the seasonal rise that happens this time of year is a culmination of refinery maintenance, the switch to summer gasoline, and rising demand.” However, if refineries continue to boost output of products like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, it could mean earlier-than-expected relief. De Haan says the changeover is still in process, so the nation will likely see the continuation of upward pressure on prices, for now. *********************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Recognizes Graduates of Partners in Advocacy Leadership Class The American Farm Bureau Federation recently honored ten leaders in agriculture as graduates of the organization’s 11th Partners in Advocacy Leadership class. PAL was designed to help agricultural leaders accelerate their engagement abilities and solidify their roles as advocates for agriculture. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “We look forward to seeing how their dedication to advocating on agricultural issues will continue to benefit rural communities at the local, state and national level.” The training involves four learning modules designed to develop specific advocacy skills, including storytelling, policy development and stakeholder engagement. The modules build on one another over the two years of the program and include intense, in-person, hands-on training. Applications for PAL Class 12 will be accepted through March 25 and must be approved by the applicant’s state Farm Bureau president. To be eligible for the program, candidates must be between the ages of 30 and 45, with demonstrated leadership skills.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 12, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will have the consumer price index for February out at 7:30 a.m., followed by a Treasury report on the U.S. budget for February at 1 p.m. Brazil's crop agency, Conab, will also release its latest production estimates for Brazil Tuesday morning. Weather A weak disturbance will move through the middle of the country on Tuesday and some isolated showers and thunderstorms should pop up in and around Missouri. Otherwise, it will be a quiet day for those east of the Rockies. A system will be moving through the West, however, and will be an important storm system for the rest of the week

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 11, 2024 |


House Ag Committee Offers Farm Labor Solution The House Agriculture Committee laid out a roadmap to relieve labor shortages that have seriously impacted America’s farmers and ranchers. The Agriculture Labor Working Group released its final report on how to improve the H-2A guest worker program. It includes more than 20 recommendations to streamline the program and make labor more affordable for farmers. “We’re losing American farms rapidly, and there’s no question the broken workforce system is partly to blame,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. While the working group recommendations don’t address all the labor challenges facing farmers, they do offer needed solutions, such as streamlining the recruiting and hiring of H-2A employees. They also want to expand the H-2A program to meet year-round needs, recommend paying employees based on duties performed during the majority of the day, and reform wage calculation standards to provide stability in farmworker pay rates. The full committee report is available at agriculture.house.gov. *********************************************************************************** Pork Exports Start Quickly in 2024 U.S. pork exports raced to a great start in the new year. January USDA data shows exports during the month were led by another strong performance in Mexico, the number one market for American pork. However, pork also made gains in other Western Hemisphere and Asia-Pacific destinations. Pork exports reached 241,424 metric tons in January, six percent higher than a year ago. Export value rose six percent to $682.1 million. “Mexico’s demand for U.S. pork is so spectacular that it can overshadow some of the other great success stories,” says U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom. U.S. beef exports were slightly behind last year’s volume, but export value trended significantly higher. Beef exports totaled 99,764 metric tons, one percent lower than last year. Beef export value rose nine percent to $763.8 million. January exports of U.S. lamb totaled 303 metric tons, up 28 percent from a year ago. ********************************************************************************** March WASDE Shows Few Major Changes The March World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates Report looked very similar to February’s numbers This month’s 2023-2024 U.S. corn outlook is unchanged relative to last month. The season-average corn price received by producers is lowered to $4.75 a bushel based on observed prices to date. The outlook for U.S. soybean supply and use for 2023-2024 is also unchanged this month. Higher soybean meal exports are mostly offset by lower domestic use. The season-average soybean price and soybean meal price forecasts are also unchanged from last month. The outlook for 2023-2024 U.S. wheat this month calls for unchanged supplies and domestic use, lower exports, and higher ending stocks. Exports were reduced by 15 million bushels to 710 million. Ending stocks were raised by the same amount to 673 million bushels and are 18 percent higher than last year. The season-average wheat price dropped by five cents to $7.15 a bushel. *********************************************************************************** Missouri River Runoff Forecast Below Average A warm February led to increased snowmelt and runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City Iowa. February runoff was 1.8 million acre-feet, 161 percent of average with above-average runoff in every reach except Sioux City, which was near average. However, the updated 2024 calendar year runoff forecast for the basin continues to be below average. “Despite the increased runoff in February and improved soil moisture conditions, we expect 2024 runoff to remain below average,” says John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Water Management Division. The much warmer-than-normal temps led to an early melt of the lower-than-average plains snow. Soil moisture conditions are near or above normal across most of the basin with below-normal soil moisture conditions in the eastern basin. The 2024 calendar year runoff forecast above Sioux City is 17-million-acre feet, 66 percent of average. Current system storage is 53.9 MAF. *********************************************************************************** Applications Open for Angus Foundation Scholarship Applications are open for the Angus Foundation’s Commercial Cattlemen Scholarship, which awards four $1,500 scholarships to outstanding young people in the beef industry. This scholarship is unique from others offered by the Foundation as it aims to support students specifically from the commercial sector of the industry. “We’re proud to offer this scholarship opportunity to students from commercial cattle backgrounds,” says Jaclyn Boester, Angus Foundation executive director. “We recognize the importance of supporting young people using Angus genetics and want to help them succeed in our industry.” Students should be pursuing an undergraduate or vocational degree at an accredited higher education institution, and selection emphasis is placed on the applicant’s knowledge of the cattle industry and their perspective on the Angus breed. Young men and women are eligible to receive the scholarship if they’ve transferred a registered Angus animal in or out of their herd in the last three years. *********************************************************************************** NPPC Elects News Officers The National Pork Producers Council announced the induction of new officers and newly elected members to its board of directors. “We’re thrilled to welcome these accomplished individuals to NPPC’s board of directors,” says NPPC CEO Bryan Humphreys. “The diverse backgrounds and proven track records will provide valuable perspectives and strategic insights as the pork industry navigates the challenges and opportunities ahead.” Lori Stevermer of Easton, Minnesota, was elected NPPC President. She’s a co-owner of Trail’s End Farm and has a rich history of advocating for the pork industry at local, state, and national levels. She previously served on the executive board of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association. During her year as president-elect, she exemplified her leadership and unwavering commitment to the industry by testifying before Congress and representing the industry at international trade conferences. Duane Statler of Ohio was elected as president-elect. Rob Brenneman of Washington, Iowa, is the new vice president.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 11, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Don't forget we're now on daylight savings time. Traders will return from the weekend, looking at the latest weather forecasts and any news that might interest the market. USDA's weekly export inspections is set for 10 a.m. CDT Monday, followed by a report on the consumer price index on Tuesday morning. Weather A system is well off the East Coast while another is over the West, making for a generally quiet day for most of the country. It is breezy though on the East Coast and even the quiet conditions in the middle of the country will be a little breezy, as is typical for spring. That could heighten the wildfire risk in the Plains in areas that did not receive much precipitation from last week's storm system.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 8, 2024 |


Pork Forum Passes Enhanced Traceability Resolution U.S. pork producers approved a resolution to enhance the country’s live swine traceability system during the 2024 National Pork Industry Forum hosted by the National Pork Producers Council. “Traceability is a priority for the industry and has been for decades,” says Lori Stevermer, incoming NPPC president and Minnesota producer. “These standards will improve our ability to control the spread of a foreign animal disease and lessen the economic impact of an outbreak should one occur.” A producer-led task force brought together stakeholders in the supply chain to identify gaps in the traceability system. That process resulted in several recommendations, including all swine owners needing to register for a premises identification number. Other recommendations include high-risk swine being required to get tagged with an Animal Identification Number RFID tag. ”Industry delegates at Pork Forum took a proactive step to protect animal health and producers’ livelihoods,” says NPPC’s Immediate Past President Scott Hays. *********************************************************************************** Disaster Relief Fund Opens After Texas Wildfires The Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association announced that cattle producers impacted by wildfires in the Texas Panhandle and Western Oklahoma can now apply for financial help. The emergency assistance is available through the group’s Disaster Relief Fund. The fund will distribute financial assistance to reduce the burdens incurred by cattle producers from wildfire damages that weren’t covered through insurance or other means of aid. The application window comes after hundreds of individuals and companies donated generous gifts in response to the second-largest wildfire event in the U.S. Donations continue to be accepted to benefit ranchers and landowners impacted by the natural disaster. Ranchers and landowners from the disaster-declared counties impacted by recent wildfires are eligible to apply in the open production period. Applicants are also not required to be a member of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to qualify for aid. For more information, go to tscra.org. *********************************************************************************** AM Radio Act Gets Enough Support to Pass the House The AM for Every Vehicle Act has hit the magic number of voting co-sponsors it will need to ensure passage through the House of Representatives. Sponsors of the House legislation, led by New Jersey Representative Josh Gottheimer, announced they had picked up the 218th voting supporter. The majority of votes is necessary because Kentucky Senator Rand Paul blocked a bipartisan-driven majority consent vote in November. He’s seeking to override the AM mandate and instead use the legislation to end electric vehicle subsidies under the American Vehicle Tax Credit. As the bill moves closer to the goal, the Department of Transportation is ready to implement the legislation. In a February interview, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he’s “ready to run with the Act the moment Congress gets it done.” The Act has picked up massive public support, including more than 400,000 emails, letters, and social media posts directed to Senators and Representatives. *********************************************************************************** More Positive Reaction to SEC Removing Scope 3 Requirements The Securities and Exchange Commission omitted the Scope 3 reporting requirement from its final climate disclosure rule. Scope 3 would have required public companies to report the greenhouse gas emissions from their supply chains and affected family farms and ranches. “Farmers are protecting the natural resources they’ve been entrusted with and continue advancing climate-smart agriculture,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “However, they can’t afford to hire compliance officers just to handle SEC reporting requirements.” International Dairy Foods Association President Michael Dykes says it would have placed a significant financial burden on millions of companies outside of SEC jurisdiction. “The proposed rule demonstrated a lack of engagement with the dairy value chain and a lack of analysis on the actual impact of the rule on privately held small entities,” he says. Some companies have said they will still require the emissions information from producers because investors, consumers, and other governments demand it. *********************************************************************************** U.S. and Canada’s Cattle Inventory Down Two Percent The USDA says all cattle and calves in the United States and Canada combined totaled 98.2 million head on January 1, 2024, down two percent from the 100 million head on January 1, 2023. The all cows and heifers that have calved inventory was down two percent from last year to 42 million head. All cattle and calves in the U.S. as of January 1, 2024, totaled 87.2 million head, down two percent from the 88.8 million head on January 1, 2023. The all cows and heifers that have calved inventory was 37.6 million head, two percent lower than last year. All cattle and calves in Canada on January 1 totaled 11.1 million head, two percent lower than last year. All sheep and lambs in the U.S. and Canada combined to total 5.86 million head on January 1, down two percent from the 5.98 million head on January 1, 2023. *********************************************************************************** Dairy Checkoff Sparking Innovation at Trade Show The dairy checkoff will showcase dairy innovation and its overall nutrition package to the more than 70,000 people attending the country’s leading trade show in the natural, organic, and healthy products industry. A Dairy Management Inc. team will be onsite at the Natural Products Expo West event March 12-16 in Anaheim, California. The goal will be to spur dairy innovation among entrepreneurs, investors, and others seeking to grow their food and beverage businesses. It’s the checkoff’s first time at the event. “We want dairy to show up in a big way,” says Maria Buerk, executive vice president of innovation for DMI. “It’s typically the non-dairy alternative companies that show up to this event, but this is the biggest natural foods show and we are the biggest natural food besides vegetables.” Among the checkoff’s goals at Expo West, the DMI team wants to share a new checkoff-created tool designed to help entrepreneurs: InnovateWithDairy.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 8, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department releases employment statistics for February at 7:30 a.m. CST, including the unemployment rate. USDA's March WASDE report will be out at 11:00 a.m., followed by DTN's WASDE webinar at 12:30 p.m. USDA will also release Livestock International Trade data at 11 a.m. Traders continue to monitor South American weather forecasts, but it remains to be seen if they consider USDA's South American crop estimates to be relevant. Weather A storm system that moved into the Plains on Thursday continues to slowly work its way eastward on Friday. It has already produced widespread showers and thunderstorms and will continue to do so on Friday, moving more through the Midwest and Gulf Coast states throughout the day. The storm is also bringing areas of snow to Nebraska and a risk of severe weather to the Gulf Coast

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 7, 2024 |


Vilsack Announces $2.3 Billion in Clean Power Projects Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday announced $2.3 billion in projects to expand clean power in rural communities. USDA is moving forward on clean energy investments in 23 states to reduce pollution and strengthen rural America’s power grid. The announcement includes the first five awards totaling $139 million under the Powering Affordable Clean Energy program. Secretary Vilsack also announced $2.2 billion in funding awarded to 39 projects to help ensure over two million people in rural areas have access to reliable electricity. Vilsack says, “Rural electric cooperatives are the backbone of America’s power delivery.” Vilsack made the announcement at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s PowerXchange annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall responded, “Building new markets for commodities is difficult work and we are glad USDA is listening to participants and continuing to be nimble in implementing this program.” More details are available at USDA.gov. *********************************************************************************** SEC Drops Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas Reporting The Securities and Exchange Commission released a limited greenhouse gas disclosure rule that omits the requirement for large publicly traded companies to release greenhouse gas emissions data from private companies in their supply chain. This type of data, known as Scope 3 reporting, could have increased burdens on family farmers and ranchers whose beef is processed or sold by publicly traded companies, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. NCBA President Mark Eisele says, “The final SEC rule that omits supply chain emissions reporting entirely is a testament to NCBA’s engagement with federal agencies and Congress to defend America’s cattle producers.” In 2022, the SEC proposed a rule to require publicly traded companies to release data on their direct (Scope 1), energy and electricity (Scope 2), and supply chain (Scope 3) greenhouse gas emissions. The Scope 3 requirement was concerning to the cattle industry, because numerous farmers and ranchers have their beef processed by publicly traded companies or sold by publicly traded restaurants and retailers. *********************************************************************************** Clean Fuels Welcomes New Mexico Clean Transportation Fuel Standard Clean Fuels Alliance America applauds New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for signing legislation to create a clean transportation fuel standard for the state of New Mexico. The new law will help drive demand and open a new market for biodiesel and renewable diesel, while spurring economic opportunity and creating cleaner air for New Mexicans. The New Mexico Clean Transportation Fuel Standard tasks the Environmental Improvement Board with developing regulations to reduce transportation emissions by 20 percent from 2018 levels by 2030 and 30 percent by 2040. This technology and fuel-neutral program will generate new opportunities for the renewable fuel industry to help meet these carbon emissions reduction targets. Clean Fuels Director of State Regulatory Affairs Cory-Ann Wind says, “Cleaner fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel will play a significant role in helping New Mexico reach its climate and air pollution goals.” New Mexico becomes the fourth state to pass a clean fuel standard, alongside California, Oregon and Washington. *********************************************************************************** Coalition Urges EPA to Reject CVR Energy Petition A coalition representing farmers and the ethanol industry this week urged the Environmental Protection Agency to reject a recent petition by CVR Energy to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard's credit trading program. CVR Energy's petition is a counterproductive proposal that would undermine the RFS and ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers, according to the group. CVR Energy has long sought to change the RFS, and in late December 2023 petitioned EPA to prohibit many businesses from possessing and trading Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs. RINS are the credits that EPA uses to ensure obligated parties satisfy their obligations under the RFS. In a letter to the EPA, the coalition states, “Altering the structure of the RIN system would have disastrous impacts on renewable fuel producers, fuel marketers and retailers, obligated parties, and consumers in the form of higher prices at the pump.” The letter was signed by the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores, National Farmers Union, and others. *********************************************************************************** Disease Mortality Gap Growing Between Rural and Urban Areas Over the last two decades, disease-related mortality rates have widened between rural and urban areas, especially for the prime working-age population, aged 25–54. Researchers with USDA’s Economic Research Service compared natural-cause mortality in rural and urban areas between two three-year periods, 1999–2001 and 2017–2019. They found the gap between rural and urban natural-cause mortality rates widened between the two time periods. Natural-cause mortality rates decreased across all age groups in urban areas. In rural areas, mortality rates decreased for most age groups, although not as much as for the same groups in urban areas, but increased for the prime working-age population. The rural group with the largest increase, 19 percent, in natural-cause mortality rates was 30- to 34-year-olds. Increased mortality rates for people who are of prime working age are an indicator of worsening population health, which could have negative implications for rural families, communities, employment, and the economy. *********************************************************************************** USDA Seeks Nominees for the Hazelnut Marketing Board The Department of Agriculture is seeking nominees for the Hazelnut Marketing Board. The nominees will fill five grower member seats, five alternate grower member seats, four handler member seats, and four alternate handler member seats whose terms will begin July 1, 2024. One grower member and alternate member position are allocated to each of the five districts. To become a grower member or alternate grower member of the board, a petition must be completed by growers within the respective district. The petition must then be signed by ten other growers in that district and submitted to the Hazelnut Marketing Board by March 31, 2024. Eligible nominees must be engaged in a proprietary capacity in the production of hazelnuts for market. The appointed members will serve two-year terms. The marketing order authorizes research and promotion, quality regulations, and volume control. The Hazelnut Marketing Board administers the order locally and consists of ten members. For nomination information, contact the Hazelnut Marketing Board.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 7, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, the U.S. trade deficit and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Fed Chairman Powell speaks to the Senate Thursday and the Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report will be out at 9:30 a.m. Weather A system moving out of the Rockies will continue to build scattered showers and thunderstorms across much of the middle of the country on Thursday. Thunderstorms could be strong to severe from central Texas into southern Kansas. The heavier rainfall, though patchy, is needed in the region. A small batch of heavier snow is forecast for northeast Colorado and southwestern Nebraska.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 6, 2024 |


Modest Improvement in Farmer Sentiment, Financial Concerns Loom The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rose modestly in February posting a reading of 111, five points higher than a month earlier. The modest rise in the barometer was attributable to producers expressing somewhat more optimism about the future as the Future Expectations Index rose seven points to a reading of 115. The Current Conditions Index was unchanged at 103 compared to a month earlier. Meanwhile, February’s Farm Financial Performance Index reading of 85 was one point lower than in January and 13 points below its most recent peak in December. Weak crop prices continue to weigh on financial expectations as mid-February Eastern Corn Belt cash prices for corn and soybeans were percent and eight percent lower, respectively, than two months earlier when the December survey was conducted. When asked about their biggest concerns for their farm operation in the upcoming year, producers in this month’s survey continued to point to high input costs and lower crop and livestock prices. *********************************************************************************** USDA Releases Packers and Stockyards Act Final Rule on Competition The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the finalization of Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity Under the Packers and Stockyards Act. The final rule will be effective 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. The final rule, Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity Under the Packers and Stockyards Act, establishes clearer, more effective standards for prohibited practices relating to discrimination, retaliation, and deception in contracting. USDA says this will help producers and growers that have suffered from increasingly consolidated markets over the last 30 years by enhancing market integrity and ensuring fair access to economic opportunities. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew responded, “Today’s announcement is the culmination of years of work from NFU and supporters of equitable livestock markets.” The final rule comes on the heels of a successful effort by NFU and allied organizations to keep a harmful policy rider out of the FY 2024 appropriations agreement. Such a rider would have thrown out existing rules, prevented future rulemakings and blocked USDA from making similar progress on the Packers and Stockyards Act, according to NFU. *********************************************************************************** Livestock Groups Respond to Packers and Stockyards Rule The National Cattlemen's Beef Association responded to USDA's final Packers and Stockyards rule released Tuesday. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, "While we still have concerns about the unintended consequences of the rule, we are pleased that USDA has addressed most of our significant concerns between the proposed and final rules." NCBA's concern with the regulation has always been based on the rule's unforeseen impacts on standard business practices. However, Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the Meat Institute, argues the final rule does nothing to change competition. Potts says, “These changes are simply an attempt to assert even more federal authority to regulate the equities of industry business practices, clogging the federal courts with every contract dispute.” She claims that Congress never intended to give USDA such broad-ranging authority over meat industry contracts and practices, regardless of their effect on competition. The Meat Institute previously submitted comments to USDA outlining legal precedent and congressional intent regarding the rule. *********************************************************************************** Bayer to Enhance Performance and Regain Strategic Flexibility by 2026 In a speech this week, Bayer CEO Bill Aderson addressed the short-term future of the multi-sector global company. Anderson says, “We are a high-impact, mission-driven, life-science company with three strong businesses, but we have four challenges that urgently must be addressed.” He was referring to the Pharmaceuticals pipeline, U.S. litigation, the company's high debt levels and bureaucracy that blocks progress. The company will focus on these areas for the next few years and implement its new operating model, Dynamic Shared Ownership. Bayer says the effort will help its Crop Science division strengthen its position with ten blockbusters reaching the market over the next decade. Despite gains overseas, Bayer's agricultural business saw overall sales fall by 3.7 percent last year. The decline was led by significantly lower prices for glyphosate-based products, resulting in a 26.0 percent downturn in sales of Herbicides. The rest of the portfolio saw a positive price development overall, driven by innovative products and higher commodity prices. Regarding a potential break-up of the company, Anderson says, "Our answer is 'not now' – and this shouldn't be misunderstood as 'never.'" *********************************************************************************** USDA: Expiring Estate Tax Provisions Would Increase Taxes for Farm Estates The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act significantly changed Federal individual income and estate tax policies, though some were temporary. In 2018, the legislation increased the estate tax exemption amount from $5.49 million to $11.18 million. This increase is set to expire at the end of 2025. The exclusion amount will revert in 2026 to $6.98 million per deceased person. Researchers with USDA's Economic Research Service estimate the expiring increased exemption would be $13.95 million per person at the time of the expiration. Lowering the estate tax exemption level in 2026 is estimated to increase the percentage of farm operator estates taxed from 0.3 to 1.0. Large farms would experience the largest increase in the share of estates owing estate tax, increasing from 2.8 to 7.3 percent. Total Federal estate taxes for farm estates would be expected to more than double to $1.2 billion if the provision were allowed to expire. *********************************************************************************** World Food Prize Announces Top Agri-Food Pioneers Initiative Submissions are now open for the Top Agri-food Pioneers List, a new initiative by the World Food Prize Foundation. The list will feature 38 leading innovators from across the world working to transform food systems, in honor of the organization's 38th anniversary this year. The Top Agri-food Pioneers List will spotlight pioneers of any age, background or career focus working in fields related to food or agriculture. Those selected in the final list will comprise the first cohort of TAP, building a network of trailblazers to be expanded each year to facilitate co-learning and collaboration across food systems. They will also be featured at the 2024 Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa. Any institution or individual may submit a name for consideration for the TAP List. Submissions will be accepted through March 8, 2024. More information and how submit names for consideration is available on the World Food Prize website, worldfoodprize.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 6, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be out at 9:30 a.m. CST. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book is set for release at 1 p.m. Traders continue to keep an eye on South American weather and may be a little cautious ahead of Friday's WASDE report. Weather A front and system continue to push through the East on Wednesday, bringing areas of scattered showers. Another system is moving through the West, with a portion of that system moving through the Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies with some areas of snow. The system will move fully into the Plains Wednesday night and Thursday, producing more widespread showers and thunderstorms in needed areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 5, 2024 |


Iowa Calls on Biden for 2024 E15 Fix The Iowa delegation of federal lawmakers is asking the Biden administration to issue a waiver authorizing E-15 sales this summer. The letter underscores the geopolitical significance of immediate, uninterrupted access to E-15 and its importance for Iowa drivers and individuals along the ethanol supply chain. Led by Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, the letter states, "As we expressed to Administrator Regan last week, we remain concerned that delaying implementation until 2025 will have devastating effects." The delegation previously addressed the issue with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan last week. In February 2024, the EPA approved a petition Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds filed in 2022 alongside seven other Midwestern states, permitting year-round, nationwide E-15 sales. However, EPA's recent authorization won't take effect until 2025. The letter continues, "We the undersigned urge you to once again issue an emergency waiver to allow for the summertime sale of E-15, extending the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver from June 1 through September 15." *********************************************************************************** NCBA Calls on Congress to Adopt FY24 ‘Minibus’ The National Cattlemen's Beef Association Monday called on lawmakers to pass the minibus appropriations package announced over the weekend by congressional leadership. The bill prevents a government shutdown and supports several key cattle industry priorities. NCBA President Mark Eisele says, "While this legislation is not perfect, it advances a number of priorities important to cattle producers, including critical investments in electronic animal ID tags for producers and strengthening oversight of lab-grown protein." The Department of Agriculture is crafting a rule requiring electronic ID tags instead of existing metal tags on certain classes of cattle moving interstate. This change is designed to facilitate faster traceability in case of a foreign animal disease outbreak in the United States. If this rule is finalized, NCBA will support USDA in covering the entire cost of electronic ID tags for impacted producers. Additionally, NCBA supports greater oversight of emerging lab-grown technology. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announced Bobwhite Pilot Project, General CRP Signup The Department of Agriculture over the weekend announced the launch of a new conservation initiative – Working Lands for Wildlife's Northern Bobwhite Pilot Project, as well as the signup dates for USDA's General Enrollment signup in the Conservation Reserve Program, which opens March 4. Both conservation opportunities give producers tools to conserve wildlife habitat while achieving other conservation benefits, including sequestering carbon and improving water quality and soil health. The Working Lands for Wildlife Northern Bobwhite Pilot Project is a new effort supporting voluntary conservation of private working lands to benefit northern Bobwhite quail and East-Central grasslands conservation. This is for producers to help the bobwhite and other game and non-game species by managing their working lands for early successional habitat while meeting their lands natural resource and production goals. Producers and landowners interested in either opportunity should contact the FSA and NRCS at their local Service Center. Those interested in the Northern Bobwhite Pilot Project should contact NRCS to sign up now. *********************************************************************************** Assessment Shows Value of Soybean Oil as Low-Carbon Feedstock for Clean Fuels A recent Life Cycle Assessment conducted by Sustainable Solutions Corporation reveals a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of U.S. Soy. Created for the United Soybean Board and the National Oilseed Processors Association, the assessment highlights a notable 22 percent decrease in the carbon footprint associated with U.S. production of crude soy oil, which is a key feedstock for U.S. biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel producers. Soybean production and oil processing constitute more than 40 percent of the carbon intensity score for soy biodiesel. The improvements are expected to translate into reductions across the clean fuels industry. Clean Fuels Alliance America assisted USB and NOPA in ensuring the data collected for processors in the report aligns with data specifications for GREET, so it could be easily integrated into GREET model updates. Veronica Bradley, Environmental Scientist at Clean Fuels Alliance America, adds, “We look forward to working with Argonne National Laboratory through the data quality assessment process to update the GREET model to reflect the latest improvements in the industry.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Issues Analysis of School Breakfast Program A new analysis from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows the USDA School Breakfast Program has served about 63 billion meals since it was established in 1975. Any student in a participating school can get free or reduced-price breakfast through the program, depending on their family income as it relates to the Federal Poverty line. The number of breakfasts served increased each year from 1982 through fiscal year 2016, before plateauing at about 2.4 billion meals from 2017 through 2019. On average, 85 percent of breakfasts were served for free or at a reduced price each year during this period. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 interrupted school operations, including the provision of meals, and the number of breakfasts served through the program dropped to about 1.8 billion breakfasts in 2020. The decrease reflected the use of USDA pandemic waivers, which allowed schools to serve meals through the Summer Food Service Program. *********************************************************************************** Fuel Prices See Double-Digit Increase After falling last week, the nation’s average price of gasoline climbed ten cents from a week ago, according to GasBuddy. The national average is up 22 cents from a month ago but 3.2 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average diesel price fell 2.7 cents last week and stands at $4.03 per gallon—33 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan says the trend is "hardly surprising for this time of year, and will likely continue as the entire nation has now made the first step toward summer gasoline.” After a weekend that saw Saudi Arabia announce an extension of their one million barrel per day production cut, oil prices were seeing slight losses, but remained near the highest level since November. The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists stood at $3.29 per gallon, with the most common diesel price at $3.99 per gallon.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 5, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets U.S. factory orders for January will be out at 9:00 a.m. CST, the only significant report of the day. Traders remain interested in the latest weather forecasts, the potential for more western wildfires and have an eye on Friday's WASDE report. Weather A cold front is sparking scattered showers and thunderstorms from eastern Texas to Michigan Tuesday morning. That front will continue to press eastward through the Midwest and Deep South throughout the day, bringing some needed precipitation to drier soils in some of these areas. Temperatures behind the front are cooler than out ahead of it, but are still mostly warm for early March outside of the Northwest and Canadian Prairies.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 4, 2024 |


Administration Misses GREET Deadline Biden administration officials announced they will miss a self-imposed deadline of March 1 to complete modifications to the GREET model for sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). The model is critically important for determining eligibility for the Inflation Reduction Act’s “40-B” SAF tax credit. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says while they were pleased to hear progress is being made on the modified GREET model, they are disappointed by this additional delay. “RFA is calling on the interagency Working Group to complete this process as quickly as possible while maintaining scientific integrity and honoring the commitment to incorporate a broad range of carbon reduction strategies,” he says. “To meet the Biden administration’s SAF goals, the marketplace needs certainty and clarity.” He also says investment and innovation in SAF technologies will remain frozen until the model gets finalized and additional guidance is issued. “It’s an enormous decarbonization opportunity,” he adds. ********************************************************************************** Number of U.S. Farms Falls Below Two Million The USDA says the number of U.S. farms has fallen under two million for the first time since before the Civil War. The numbers come from the 2022 Census of Agriculture. In 2022, there were 1,900,487 farms in the country, a seven percent decline from the level in the 2017 Census. A farm is defined as an establishment that produced or sold or would have sold in normal conditions, at least $1,000 in agricultural production in a year. The latest Census also reported that the total U.S. land in farms declined 2.2 percent to 880 million acres in 2022. This decline, when combined with the higher proportional decline in the number of farms, meant that the average farm size increased by five percent to 463 acres per farm. The Census of Agriculture, conducted every five years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, includes producer responses to questions about their farming operations. *********************************************************************************** Corn Congress Wants Expanded Access to Foreign Markets Saying U.S. farmers depend on the strong demand that comes with expanded market access, the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Congress passed a consensus statement on trade. The statement encourages federal officials to pursue trade opportunities and invest in foreign market development to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in corn production and trade. “Building demand for U.S. corn is a top priority for NCGA and its state affiliates,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle. “International markets are crucial to the overall demand for U.S. corn, and actions restricting access to foreign markets will hurt both U.S. farmers and the broader U.S. economy.” The consensus statement says, “Whereas market access is critical for U.S. farmers to be successful and support the nation’s economy, we support improved market access, including the reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers, so U.S. corn growers have many opportunities to increase demand from foreign trading partners.” *********************************************************************************** Export Sales Rise USDA data shows grain and bean sales to overseas buyers rose week-to-week. Export sales of corn in the week ending on February 22 were reported at 1.08 million metric tons, up 32 percent from the previous week but down five percent from the prior four-week average. The agency says Mexico was the big buyer at 423,700 tons. Exports for the week came in at 1.22 million tons, up 19 percent week-to-week. Wheat sales jumped 40 percent week-to-week and two percent above the average to 327,300 metric tons. Japan took in 88,700 tons. Wheat exports for the week came in at 538,700 tons, up 44 percent from the prior week. Soybean sales totaled 159,700 metric tons, up from a marketing year low of 55,900 tons during the previous week. That’s still down 30 percent from the prior four-week average. China bought 154,800 tons. Exports dropped eight percent to 1.1 million tons. *********************************************************************************** Good News for U.S. Sugar Exports U.S. sugar exports for fiscal year 2024 are forecast to be the largest they’ve been in six years, rising to an estimated 160,000 short tons raw value (STRV) in the February WASDE report. About 88 percent of that, or 140,800 short tons of that total volume, is expected to go to Mexico, where sugar exports had fallen to a 15-year low. The Economic Research Service says this forecast will put U.S. sugar exports to Mexico on par with those from 2008-2013 when the North American Free Trade Agreement was active. Under NAFTA, Mexico could import U.S. sugar without tariffs or quotas, and U.S. exports averaged 167,000 STRV. After falling below 50,000 STRV on average, the U.S. increased its sugar exports to Mexico in the last two years as U.S. domestic beet and cane sugar production rose and Mexico experienced back-to-back years of lower production related to drought and reduced fertilizer use. *********************************************************************************** ASPCA Unhappy with Vilsack’s Comments on Prop 12 The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was unhappy with remarks by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on California’s Prop 12. ASPCA says Vilsack misrepresented the impacts of California’s Proposition 12 during a Senate Ag Committee hearing. “It’s alarming to see Secretary Vilsack double down on his inaccurate comments about Proposition 12, furthering industrial animal agriculture’s false narrative about the impact of basic laws that spare animals from cruel confinement in cages and crates,” says Kara Shannon, director of farm animal welfare policy for the ASPCA. “Fifteen states have implemented bans on the extreme confinement of farm animals, representing the will of millions of voters.” The group also says Senator Cory Booker’s line of questioning during the hearing aptly pointed out this isn’t just an animal welfare issue. It’s also a democracy issue. “We strongly condemn the Secretary’s comments suggesting Congress attempt to undo these critical laws,” the ASPCA says.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 4, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Weather in South America will again be watched closely by traders. At 10 a.m. we will get Grain Inspections. Weather A cold front that moved into the middle of the country on Sunday will come alive with showers and thunderstorms across the Mississippi Valley on Monday. Temperatures behind the front are cooler, but still warm for early March outside of the Canadian Prairies. Breezy but not strong winds will keep firefighters battling wildfires in the southwestern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 1, 2024 |


NPPC Applauds Line Speed Expansion The National Pork Producers Council commended the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for extending the New Swine Inspection System line speed trials through January 15, 2025. Processing facilities will enroll in a modified time-limited trial, which includes a study to evaluate the impact of increased line speeds on worker safety. “We appreciate USDA and FSIS for listening to the pork industry and taking another step toward making increased line speeds permanent,” says NPPC President Scott Hays. “These actions give pork producers more certainty in an uncertain time.” NPPC has advocated for increased line speeds since 2019, and in 2021, FSIS permitted increased line speeds at six pork packing plants while also gathering data to evaluate potential worker impacts. Industry economists say producers could have incurred an additional loss of almost $10 a head early this year without the increase in line speeds and the resulting decrease in processing capacity. *********************************************************************************** Catastrophic Losses Ahead After Texas Wildfires Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller announced his agency’s commitment to providing support to the state’s producers as they deal with the aftermath of devastating wildfires in the Texas Panhandle. The Smokehouse Creek Fire has burned through almost 1,700 square miles of land, making it the largest on record in Texas going back to 1988. Seven grain and seed operations have reported total losses. “The fires not only threaten lives and property but will also have a substantial impact on our agriculture industry,” Miller says. “Over 85 percent of the state’s cattle population is located on ranches in the Panhandle.” He also says there are millions of cattle in the region, with some towns made up of more cattle than people. As Governor Greg Abbott declares a disaster in 60 counties, the TDA’s State of Texas Agriculture Relief (STAR) Fund is calling for donations to assist Texas Panhandle farmers and ranchers. *********************************************************************************** New Resource for Maximizing Cattle Profitability A new resource developed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and CattleFax helps producers maximize profitability from their culling decisions. The resource is called “Right Way, Right Time – A Guide to Cull Cattle Management” and is now available at ncba.org. With effective planning, cull cattle can be a significant source of revenue and should not be overlooked. Cull cattle are market cattle. The document addresses key problem areas, provides strategies for making timely culling decisions to prioritize animal welfare, and is designed to help producers capture more value through effective cull cattle management. “Cull animals can contribute significantly to the profitability of the ranch,” says Dr. Trey Patterson, president of the Padlock Ranch Company. “We spend extensive time and money adding replacement cattle to our herd, so it’s imperative that we capture good value for cull cattle to offset the other expenses.” For more information or to access the resource online, visit ncba.org/producers. *********************************************************************************** FFA Next Gen Conference in March The National FFA Organization developed the Next Gen Conference to give students from around the country an opportunity to explore a variety of career paths before high school graduation. Next Gen Conferences go in-depth in a different subset of the more than 350 careers in agriculture each year. This year’s Next Gen Conference is March 5-8 in Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas. The Next Gen Conference: Agricultural Communications will engage high school students in hands-on sessions, round tables, and tours to explore emerging trends, issues, and opportunities in the field of agricultural communications. During the conference, students will also develop a road map that will serve as a blueprint to guide them in taking their next steps after high school graduation. “This conference will help us cultivate future leaders in the communications industry through a week of experiential learning, relevant education, and networking,” says Ashli Weinrich, program specialist for the National FFA Organization. *********************************************************************************** Mentorship Program for Women in Food and Agriculture Alltech is proud to continue partnering with the “Women in Food & Agriculture Program.” Applications are open for new mentors of either gender and for female mentees from across the global food and agriculture sector. Now in its fourth year, the free-to-join program is dedicated to supporting women across the global food and agriculture sector by providing invaluable mentorship opportunities. It’s become a beacon of support for women seeking guidance, advice, and networking opportunities in their careers. Surveys suggest one of the biggest hurdles to success for women in the global agri-food industry is a lack of mentorship opportunities. WFA matches applicants based on their preferences, which can include mentor gender, areas of expertise, language, and industry sector, and offers opportunities for women in food and agriculture to develop meaningful industry connections. To date, the program has facilitated 562 pairings, connecting mentees with experienced mentors. For more information go to wfa-initiative.com. *********************************************************************************** U.S., Mozambique Sign MOU on Ethanol The U.S. Grains Council convened a high-level meeting between government officials, industry professionals, and other stakeholders to discuss Mozambique’s clean energy goals in cooking and transportation. Deputy USDA Secretary Xochitl (so-CHEEL) Torres Small looked on as the USGC, Pivot Clean Energy, and the Mozambique Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy signed a memorandum of understanding. It establishes a cooperative partnership to exchange technical expertise and best practices related to the biofuels industry and clean energy policy development. Small says using biofuels for cooking is one of the many examples of how agriculture provides real solutions to everyday challenges. “Today’s conversation helps families in Mozambique use a healthier cooking fuel, which in turn provides cleaner air for everyone,” she says. “In pursuing ethanol burning stoves for household cooking that produce no soot or smoke, users can limit air-borne health risks and air pollution.” Biofuel blending reforms lessen Mozambique’s reliance on fuel imports.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 1, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Treasury Department is expected to make an announcement Friday, regarding specifications for Sustainable Aviation Fuels that may have a big impact on the future demand for corn and soybeans. Manufacturing indices will be reported overnight from around the world and be joined by ISM's index for the U.S. at 9 a.m. CST. The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment will be out at 9 a.m. Weather While a few snow showers will move across the Eastern Midwest Friday morning, the Southeast and Tennessee Valley will continue to see scattered rain showers throughout the day. Rain showers will eventually work into the Ohio Valley by late Friday afternoon into the evening.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 29, 2024 |


Stabenow: No New Farm Bill Without SNAP, Climate Funds For the first time, Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says she’ll push a new farm bill further into the future rather than strike a deal with Republicans on SNAP and climate spending changes. The Fence Post says she won’t agree to limit any updates to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or cut any climate-smart conservation money in the Inflation Reduction Act. “I’m not going to do it,” she says. “If that means we continue the policies of the 2018 Farm Bill, which were pretty good if I do say so myself, then that’s okay.” Stabenow sat next to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack during an event at the White House this week, and he said, “You’re tough. That’s great.” Stabenow has said privately for months that her legacy depends on protecting climate funding as well as not cutting anti-hunger programs. The current farm bill authorization expires at the end of September. *********************************************************************************** Bill Further Expands Future Biofuel Usage Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Pete Ricketts (R-NE) introduced the bipartisan “Renewable Fuels for Ocean-Going Vessels Act.” It will help open new markets for U.S. farmers by encouraging the use of biofuels using homegrown farm products for ships and ocean-going vessels. It will specifically expand markets for American-made biofuels by ensuring that renewable fuels used in ocean-going vessels would be eligible for a renewable fuel credit available for other biofuels. The legislation preserves Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard program when the fuel is used in oceangoing vessels. The RFS currently excludes “fuels used in ocean-going vessels” from the definition of transportation fuels and from refiners’ and blenders’ obligations. Refiners and blenders are required to retire RINs from any biodiesel and renewable diesel used in vessels with Class 3 engines operating in international waters, including the Great Lakes. The bill is widely supported by multiple agricultural groups. *********************************************************************************** Senators Take Action Against Paraguayan Beef Imports Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Jon Tester (D-MT) filed a resolution against the Biden administration’s decision to lift a long-standing ban on beef imports from Paraguay. A Congressional Review Act resolution is an oversight tool Congress may use to overturn final rules with a simple majority vote. “Our farmers and ranchers work tirelessly to produce the safest, highest quality, and most affordable beef in the world,” Rounds says. “On the other hand, Paraguay has historically struggled to contain outbreaks of foot and mouth disease.” Tester and Rounds say American consumers should be able to confidently feed their families beef that they know has met the rigorous standards required in the United States. “I’m pleased to be filing this CRA with Senator Tester to overturn this rule that harms American producers and consumers,” Rounds adds. Tester says, “Cutting corners to resume imports from Paraguay is bad news for producers and consumers.” *********************************************************************************** Purdue: No Increase in Dust Explosions in 2023 A new report from Purdue University says that nationwide grain dust explosions totaled nine incidents in the United States during 2023, resulting in 12 injuries but no fatalities. “Dust explosions are one of the most serious hazards that occur in the grain industry,” says study author Kingsly Ambrose of Purdue University. “The explosions can also lead to significant financial and personal losses due to downtime, repair, injuries, and fatalities.” Last year’s nine incidents were no increase from the nine incidents reported in 2022. The ten-year average of 8.4 explosions remains relatively unchanged. Ambrose says all the big explosions occurred in the Midwest, with most of them taking place in the corn handling or processing industry. The probable ignition sources were identified in two of the cases as fire, with another due to an equipment malfunction, and the others were caused by unknown sources. “Education is the key to prevention,” Ambrose adds. *********************************************************************************** USDA Webinar on Contracting and Tournaments Final Rule The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will host a webinar on March 7 at noon, eastern time, for U.S. poultry growers. The webinar will allow the agency to share information regarding the “Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments Final Rule.” Attendees may submit questions in advance at the usda.gov website. Questions will also be taken during the webinar. USDA published the final rule in the Federal Register on November 28, 2023, and it became effective on February 12, 2024. The rule requires Live Poultry Dealers, which are typically large processing companies, to provide poultry growers with whom they contract to raise birds with key information about the terms of their agreements. It also requires additional disclosures by live poultry dealers engaged in the production of broilers who use poultry grower ranking systems to determine settlement payments for broiler growers. More information can be found on the AMS website at ams.usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** Iowa Farmland Sells for a Near-Record Amount Not one but two tracts of farmland in Sioux County, Iowa, sold for a near-record $29,600 per acre in a public auction this week. In November 2022, a sale of 73.19 acres in the same county sold for the current state record of $30,000 per acre. A spokesman for Zomer Company Realty and Auction confirmed the Ken and LaDonna Huisman farmland sale totaled 117.41 acres on February 27. The first tract of land was made up of 40 acres and featured half-mile-long rows. With a road and ditch on only one side of the field, 98.7 percent of the tract is tillable. Tract number two is 77.41 acres that are also bordered by one road and is 98.7 percent tillable with half-mile-long rows. Both tracts are subject to a signed easement with the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline project. The buyer will receive the crop damage payments from Summit at closing.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 29, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, the PCE inflation index, U.S. personal incomes and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage report will be out at 9:30 a.m. Weather A disturbance will provide isolated to scattered rain and snow showers to the Southern Plains today, which could help reduce the wildfire risk across the area. However, portions of Iowa, eastern Nebraska, and northern Kansas will see dry and breezy conditions today, promoting a higher risk for wildfires.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 28, 2024 |


Grassley, Colleagues, Urge Swift E15 Waiver for 2024 Senator Chuck Grassley led an Iowa delegation of lawmakers in a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency to allow for summertime E15 sales in 2024. Last week, the EPA finalized a rule to approve year-round E15 sales, but delayed implementation until 2025. The rule allows states to use the same volatility limits for E15 and E10 and was in response to a petition by governors of eight midwestern states seeking the year-round availability of E15. The petition includes Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Grassley and the Iowa delegation contend the delay "will have devastating effects on biofuels producers, farmers, and families across the country.” The letter states, “We request, once again, that the EPA immediately implement its rule to ensure E15 is available year-round no later than March 31, 2024." Representatives Zack Nunn, Randy Feenstra, Ashley Hinton, and Marionette Miller-Meeks signed the letter, along with Senators Grassley and Joni Ernst. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces Progress on Newly Authorized Climate Programs The Department of Agriculture Tuesday published the Intent to Establish the Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program report. Authorized under the Growing Climate Solutions Act, the report explains how the Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program will facilitate farmer, rancher, and private forest landowner participation in voluntary carbon markets. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “This new program will provide resources for producers and landowners, helping them pursue opportunities to generate revenue while benefiting the environment.” The report justifies the Secretary's intent to establish the program following an earlier publication, which found that voluntary carbon markets offer a promising tool to achieve greenhouse gas reductions from the agriculture and forest sectors and support producer livelihoods. USDA will work towards formal establishment of the program in 2024. As a first step, USDA will soon solicit information on protocols to be evaluated for inclusion in the list to be published as part of the program. *********************************************************************************** Ag Accounted for 10% of 2021 U.S. GHG Emissions Farming activities in the United States accounted for 10.6 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. New data released this week shows that from 2020 to 2021, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions remained nearly constant but decreased from 11.1 percent to 10.6 percent as a share of total U.S. emissions because of changes in other industries. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that in 2021, agriculture emitted 312.6 million metric tons as nitrous oxide, 278.4 million metric tons as methane, 44.7 million metric tons as on-farm carbon dioxide, and 35.7 million metric tons emitted indirectly through the electricity that the agricultural sector uses. Of the common economic sectors in the United States, industry accounted for the largest portion of total greenhouse gas emissions at 30.1 percent, followed by transportation, commercial, residential and agriculture. Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 were 2.3 percent lower than in 1990. *********************************************************************************** RMA Expands Insurance Option for Nursery Growers USDA Risk Management Agency is expanding crop insurance tailored for nursery producers to all counties in all states. Nursery Value Select is a pilot program that enables nursery producers to select the dollar amount of coverage that best fits their risk management needs. Its expansion is part of USDA’s Risk Management Agency efforts to provide insurance options for a broader group of producers, including specialty crop producers. RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger says, "This insurance option meets a critical need of American nursery producers." Nursery Value Select provides similar but improved coverage to the longstanding Nursery Field Grown and Container program. The program also covers field-grown and containerized nursery plants and offers coverage levels between catastrophic and 75 percent. Before the expansion, the program was only available in select counties in nine states. Beginning with the 2025 crop year, Nursery Value Select will be available in all counties in all states. *********************************************************************************** Gooden Confirmed as Rural Development Undersecretary The Senate Tuesday confirmed Dr. Basil Gooden as U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development. Dr. Gooden has served as Director of State Operations for Rural Development since July 2021, in which role he has led and supported USDA's team of 47 Rural Development State Directors who extend USDA's state-level leadership and help ensure the department's investments reach all rural communities. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, "Dr. Gooden is a true asset at the People's Department, and I look forward to continuing our work advancing and improving policies that benefit agriculture and rural America." House Agriculture Ranking Member David Scott added, "Dr. Gooden's extensive experience touches on many issues important to rural communities, including affordable housing, wealth development in distressed communities, and improving infrastructure." Gooden will fill the undersecretary position left vacant by Xochitl Torres Small, who was confirmed in July 2023 as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. *********************************************************************************** Indigo Ag Announces Record Carbon Crop Indigo Ag this week announced the successful completion of its third carbon crop. With more than 163,000 carbon credits produced, Indigo is the only company to complete three carbon harvests at scale, and the program continues to show growth with year-over-year increases in the number of farmers paid, fields filed, and credits produced. Since its inception in 2019, farmers participating in Indigo Ag's carbon program have sequestered or abated the equivalent of nearly 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Indigo Ag CEO Dean Banks says, "Our record breaking third carbon crop reinforces that farmers can earn money and have a real and measurable impact leveraging agricultural soil as one of the world's largest carbon sinks.” Indigo Ag's carbon credits are verified and issued by the Climate Action Reserve. To date, farmers in Indigo Ag's sustainability programs have earned more than $12 million. Farmers are scheduled to be paid for the third carbon crop in March 2024.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 28, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The first revision of Q4 U.S. GDP is set for 7:30 a.m. CST Wednesday. The Energy Department's weekly inventory report follows at 9:30 a.m. and includes weekly ethanol production. Traders remain interested in South American weather and any surprise that may pop up. Weather A strong cold front continues its trek across the U.S. on Wednesday, moving through the East Coast by Wednesday evening. Areas of showers and thunderstorms follow the front, and some snow will mix in as well. Temperatures are dropping rapidly behind the front and have become very cold across the Plains and Upper Midwest after the frontal passage Tuesday. Strong winds continue to follow the front as well. Even though it is cold behind the front, it will not last long, rising in the Northern Plains Wednesday afternoon and elsewhere Thursday and Friday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 27, 2024 |


Funding Announced for Renewable Tech in Ag The Department of Agriculture and the Energy Department Monday launched a new initiative to help farmers cut costs and increase income using underutilized renewable technologies. Through the Rural and Agricultural Income & Savings from Renewable Energy initiative, USDA is setting an initial goal of helping 400 individual farmers deploy smaller-scale wind projects using USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program. This goal is only possible because of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act which provided more than $144 million in grant funding for underutilized technologies through the REAP program. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “These investments will create long-lasting economic benefits for their families, businesses and communities for years to come.” Additionally, the Energy Department announced $4 million in related funding, including $2.5 million to support distributed wind technologies for the agricultural sector, and $1.5 million to support outreach and the identification and development of new business models for farmers to save money and earn income deploying these technologies. *********************************************************************************** Northey Honored by Agribusiness Association of Iowa The Agribusiness Association of Iowa Foundation Monday announced that its building will be named after Bill Northey and simply called “The Northey Building.” Foundation Board Chair Mark White says, “Just as another giant in Iowa agriculture, Henry Wallace, has a state ag building named after him, the Foundation board of directors felt that naming our building after Bill will ensure that he will never be forgotten.” Northey served as CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa at the time of his death earlier this month. Northey previously served as the nation's first Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at USDA, and as Secretary of Agriculture for Iowa. Further, A "Northey Memorial Fund" has been established at the Agribusiness Association of Iowa Foundation. The Agribusiness Association of Iowa Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes research projects, member education, stewardship and scholarships that benefit Agribusiness Association of Iowa members and their families. *********************************************************************************** Nature Connects Us Campaign Launches The National Forest Foundation and USDA’s Forest Service Monday announced the launch of “Nature Connects Us.” The outreach campaign sparks awakening and strengthening of all peoples’ connection to national forests and grasslands. The campaign is grounded in honoring ancestral tribal homelands through respectful and mindful visitor experiences and was born out of the need to grow and understand the respect that public lands require on a deeper level. NFF CEO Mary Mitsos says, “We aim to welcome all peoples to enjoy the outdoors in a manner that amplifies who they are as an individual and members of a larger community.” The outreach campaign is the largest and most comprehensive outreach campaign that the Forest Service has collaborated on with the NFF throughout their partnership over the past several decades. The National Forest Foundation is the congressionally-chartered nonprofit working to improve and restore the health of the 193-million-acre National Forest System. *********************************************************************************** United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly USDA ended last week with the monthly Cattle on Feed Report showing slightly higher inventories on February 1. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.8 million. The inventory was slightly above 2023, with placements in feedlots at 1.79 million head, seven percent below 2023, and net placements at 1.71 million head. Marketings of fed cattle during January totaled 1.84 million head, slightly below 2023. Cattle on Feed and Annual Size Group Estimates Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head represented 82.7 percent of all cattle and calves on feed in the United States on January 1, 2024. This is comparable to the 82.6 percent on January 1, 2023. Marketings of fed cattle for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head during 2023 represented 87.3 percent, up slightly from 87.2 percent during 2022. *********************************************************************************** Nearly 20% of Shoppers Purchase Groceries Online Data from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows that nearly 20 percent of shoppers purchased groceries online in 2022, the latest dataset available. However, the frequency of online shopping varied. At the time of the survey, among those who bought groceries online in the past month in 2022, 30.2 percent did so once, 25.1 percent made two online grocery purchases, and 44.7 percent purchased groceries online three or more times. Time constraints were the main reason people bought groceries online, while the main reason for not shopping online for groceries was that people like being able to see and touch products in person, according to the survey. ERS collected the data through the ERS-developed Eating and Health Module of the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey. In 2022, the Eating and Health Module captured for the first time nationally representative data concerning the prevalence and frequency of U.S. residents who report shopping for groceries online. *********************************************************************************** Fuel Price Increase Pauses The national average gas price declined last week for the first time in more than a month. The average gas price stands at $3.24 per gallon, down 1.9 cents from a week ago. The national average is up 13.3 cents from a month ago but 9.2 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. Meanwhile, the national average diesel price fell 2.6 cents last week and stands at $4.06 per gallon—33 cents lower than one year ago. However, GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan cautions, "While the pause has certainly been nice, this is more like a rain delay than it is a 7th-inning stretch." De Haan says all eyes are on refiners as utilization remained seasonally weak, around 80 percent of capacity, meaning there’s less gasoline and diesel being produced. U.S. retail gasoline demand increased 2.2 percent for the week, as oil prices hovered around $80 per barrel.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 27, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. durable goods orders for January will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by a report on consumer confidence at 9 a.m. Traders continue to keep close watch over South American weather forecasts and have an interest in news from the Middle East and Red Sea. Weather A strong cold front is found in the Northern Plains early Tuesday with a band of heavy snow across North Dakota into northern Minnesota. That front will race through much of the Plains and Midwest through Tuesday with strong winds, potential severe storms in the eastern Midwest, areas of light snow, and a sharp drop in temperatures from the records seen on Monday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 26, 2024 |


More Reaction to EPA’s E15 Decision The Environmental Protection Agency granted the request from eight Midwestern states to sell year-round E15 beginning in 2025. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says it’s great news but notes, “Drivers will need a solution for this summer to minimize disruptions and make sure they have continued access to E15.” The National Corn Growers Association is also glad to hear about the decision because it provides more certainty. “However, since it doesn’t begin until the summer of 2025, we are concerned about the implications for growers and consumers this summer,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle. The American Coalition for Ethanol says the decision is “better late than never” but also says the EPA had a legal responsibility to approve E15 in those states more than a year ago. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the EPA was correct in unleashing year-round E15 but added a “few unnecessary strings” in delaying it until 2025. ********************************************************************************** Senators Want a Strong Packers and Stockyards Act Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley wrote a letter asking colleagues to help assure the strong enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. They’re asking other senators to oppose any policy rider in the 2024 Ag Appropriations Bill that would prevent the USDA from enforcing the Act to hold multi-national food manufacturers accountable. “Four companies control over 80 percent of domestic beef processing, 60 percent of hog processing, and 50 percent of domestic poultry processing,” their letter says. “This level of concentration is bad for consumers and family farmers but good for the giant meat packers.” They point out that the companies have reported record profits in the last few years while farmers and ranchers struggle to make ends meet and consumers are paying too much for proteins at the grocery store. “Congress must reject any rider blocking USDA from implementing bipartisan reforms,” the letter says. *********************************************************************************** Brazil, Argentina Crop Production Estimates Drop Soybean production estimates for Argentina and Brazil, along with corn production estimates for Argentina, were lowered by agribusiness consultancy Agroconsult and the Rosario Grain Exchange. Brazil’s 2023-2024 soybean crop estimate was cut to 152.2 million metric tons from 153.8 million. Agroconsult says adverse weather in key production states is a big reason for the drop. Argentina’s Rosario Grains Exchange cut its estimates for the country’s 2023-2024 soybean and corn harvests to 49.5 million and 57 million metric tons. The cut comes after a heat wave in late January and early February. The exchange has previously calculated the soybean harvest at 52 million tons and the corn harvest at 59 million tons. Agroconsult says about 40 percent of the crops were affected by high temperatures and low rainfall in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s biggest farm state. Despite higher-than-usual temperatures that started in mid-January, Argentina’s corn harvest will hit a record level this season. *********************************************************************************** Report Gives a Snapshot of 2023’s U.S. Lamb Market Last year saw the smallest lamb crop on record with just 3.03 million head, but there were also some bright spots related to lamb imports and pricing. That’s according to the 2023 Sheep Industry Review, a checkoff-funded report commissioned by the American Lamb Board and compiled by the American Sheep Industry Association. “Last year saw a decline in inventory at all levels,” says ALB chair Jeff Ebert. “However, producers did feel a bit of relief with a significant decrease in imported lamb and mutton, improved drought conditions in most areas, a slight decline in production costs, and relatively high slaughter and retail prices.” Breeding sheep declined by two percent to 3.67 million head, market lambs were down 24,000 head to 1.28 million head, and the total lamb crop was down to 3.03 million head, the smallest on record. Feedlot supplies were also down last year because of smaller lamb crops. *********************************************************************************** Farmers Ask for Stability in Milk Prices The American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union sent a letter to USDA asking for stability in Class 1 milk prices. The letter asks Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to issue an interim final decision to return the Class 1 mover formula to the “higher-of” the Class 3 or Class 4 calculations as it was before the 2018 farm bill. The letter states,” Dairy farmers remain stuck with the current pricing regulations until USDA publishes a final rule. Current market dynamics underscore the need for an expedited return to the ‘higher-of’ Class 1 mover.” The current Class 1 mover was a well-intentioned but misguided policy that has reduced dairy farmer income. Emergency implementation of the higher-of Class 1 mover formula will staunch persistent losses associated with a policy that has left dairy farmers struggling to make ends meet. The current formula was based on a quick decision and not demonstrated need. *********************************************************************************** USDA Equity Commission Issues Final Report The USDA held its inaugural National Equity Summit to celebrate the work of USDA’s Equity Commission and released the report “A New Path Forward.” The report provides an overview of the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Equity Commission’s Interim Report. “USDA has worked to take significant and meaningful actions to address issues still being felt as a result of a system that hasn’t been equitable for generations and ensures that the promise of America can be achieved for every community across the country,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. Deputy Secretary Xochitl (so-CHEEL) Torres Small says it’s never easy to look at mistakes head-on and recognize where the agency has missed the mark. Since its launch in February 2022, the Equity Commission served as a key pillar of the Department’s efforts to advance equity. The Commission’s report includes 66 recommendations to support institutional change at USDA within multiple areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 26, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will continue to pay close attention to South American weather forecasts and any news from around the world, especially the Middle East. New home sales for January will be out at 9 a.m. CST, followed by USDA's weekly export inspections at 10 a.m. CST. Weather Temperatures are rising well above normal and could break some records in spots here on Monday east of the Rockies. But a storm in the Canadian Prairies will push a cold front through the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains that will sweep across the country the next couple of days. That will produce some areas of showers, including snow in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, strong winds, potential for severe weather, and a sharp drop in temperatures.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 23, 2024 |


EPA Makes Decision on Summertime E15 The Environmental Protection Agency approved the long-delayed petitions from eight Midwest governors to allow summertime sales of E15 in these states. Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, says it’s a double-edged sword. “The EPA finally allows retailers in these eight states to sell E15 year-round,” he says. “But it also delays the rule’s implementation until 2025.” That delay creates considerable uncertainty and confusion about the availability of lower-cost, lower-carbon E15 this coming summer. “It’s helpful to have certainty about 2025, but what happens this summer?” Cooper asked. ”The administration missed its statutory deadline to finalize the governors’ petition by more than 500 days, and now it claims there isn’t enough time to implement the rule in time for summer 2024.” He doesn’t understand why ethanol producers, fuel retailers, consumers, and farmers should be penalized for EPA’s foot-dragging. “We want uninterrupted access this year,” he adds. ********************************************************************************** Food Continues to Get More Expensive Eating continues to cost Americans more money. That’s even as overall inflation has backed off from the high pace of 2022 and 2023. Restaurant prices were up 5.1 percent last month compared to January 2023. U.S. Labor Department data shows that grocery store costs increased 1.2 percent during the same period. Relief isn’t on the immediate horizon as restaurant and food company executives continue wrestling with higher labor costs and more expensive ingredients like cocoa. “If you look historically at the periods following inflation, there’s nothing that says food prices will go back down,” says Steve Cahillane of snack giant Kellanova. “They tend to be sticky.” In 1991, government data shows consumers had spent over 11 percent of their disposable personal income on food. At the time, households were still dealing with steep food price increases following an inflationary period during the 1970s. Thirty years later, food spending is there again. *********************************************************************************** Brazil Soybean Exports Double U.S. Shipments Brazil’s 2023 soybean exports reached a record 3.74 billion bushels, 29 percent higher than the previous year as Brazilian production hit record levels. Meanwhile, U.S. shipments dropped 14 percent to 1.78 billion bushels in the same period. The two countries are major competitors and together ship over 80 percent of global soybean exports. Historically, the U.S. was the world’s largest soybean exporter. Brazil surpassed the U.S. in soybean shipments for the first time in 2013. The University of Illinois FarmDoc website says over the last 20 years, Brazil’s soybean exports jumped 431 percent, with the jump occurring mainly in the most recent decade. Brazil exports up to 60 percent of its domestic soybean production. During the past two decades, America’s soybean exports have increased 94 percent. U.S. soybean exports have plateaued since 2016, with an average annual volume of 1.993 billion bushels. The U.S. exports 49 percent of its soybeans. *********************************************************************************** National FFA Officers Head Overseas The 2023-2024 National FFA Officer Team recently took a trip overseas to Japan, where they participated in an international program in conjunction with the Future Farmers of Japan. The trip was made to strengthen a partnership that began in 1950. This is the first time the national officer team has made the trip since COVID began in 2020. The officers spent six days in Japan and took part in several activities, including a briefing with Senior Agriculture Attaché Mark Wallace at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. They also met with FFJ students at high schools in Tokyo and Osaka (oh-SAH-ka). “It was so impactful to see how different, yet how similar, the world operates,” says National FFA Eastern Vice President Morgan Anderson of Ohio. “Culturally, the world is diverse, but one common factor that unites all of us is agriculture.” She added that we’re all working to feed the world. *********************************************************************************** Waste in EPA Environmental Justice Grant Spending Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says millions of taxpayer dollars funneled through the Environmental Protection Agency’s grant programs weren’t used correctly. While the funds were used to cover recipient organizations’ overhead costs and operating expenses, they didn’t produce tangible results demonstrating the efficacy of the environmental justice program. Records and receipt tracking expenditures released this week show a vast portion of the $4.3 million allocated to the environmental justice program was spent by grant recipients on internal and superfluous purposes, including funding employees’ salaries, covering benefits, and even paying for vacation expenses. “Climate change poses real challenges, but the EPA’s efforts to address climate issues through its 2021 environmental justice program don’t pass the smell test,” says Grassley. “Having seen all this laid bare, it’s difficult to imagine how any taxpayer would want their hard-earned money invested in this program instead of putting those funds back in their own pockets.” *********************************************************************************** Grocery Groups Oppose Purchase Restrictions in SNAP The National Grocers Association and independent grocers across the U.S. sent a letter to Congress expressing opposition to an effort to limit purchases under the SNAP Program. The NGA says the Fiscal Year 2024 House Ag Appropriations Bill contains two provisions it believes would undermine SNAP. One is the creation of a pilot program to catalog and restrict SNAP purchases, and the collection of SNAP purchasing data with the aim of restricting SNAP purchases in the future. Almost 2,500 NGA members from across the country and in every Congressional district signed the letter. “The dietary needs of the SNAP population are diverse, and no one diet would be appropriate for all participants,” the letter says. The grocers also say the proposed provisions and NGA’s response come at a time of greater food insecurity for Americans. A recent study says 36 percent of U.S. families have recently skipped meals due to financial reasons.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 23, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets Traders continue to watch South American weather reports for any hints of support in corn and soybean prices. USDA's weekly export sales will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST. Cattle on-feed and monthly cold storage will both be out at 2 p.m. Weather Showers from a warm system continue in the Southeast on Friday. A cold front will drop through the Great Lakes in association with a weak clipper as well. Some limited showers will develop over the eastern Midwest later Friday into Saturday. That may include some snow, but amounts are expected to be very light. Temperatures will briefly fall behind this front, but only for a day as they rise again Saturday and continue to be very warm going into next week across most of the country.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 22, 2024 |


USDA: Rural Employment Returns to Pre-COVID Levels USDA’s Economic Research Service is highlighting new data that shows rural employment levels are back to pre-COVID levels. The COVID-19 pandemic affected employment in rural and urban areas differently. Before the pandemic, employment growth was higher, and unemployment rates were slightly lower in urban areas. However, the trends reversed during the pandemic. In the second quarter of 2020, urban employment fell to 88 percent of pre-pandemic employment levels, while rural employment fell to 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Unemployment during the pandemic reached a high of 13.3 percent in urban areas and 11.4 percent in rural areas, compared with pre-pandemic rates of 3.8 and 4.2 percent, respectively. Rural and urban employment grew quickly in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 as many sectors of the economy reopened. Rural employment recovered to pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter of 2023, more than one year after urban employment did. Rural unemployment rates in 2023 were at their lowest point since before 1990. *********************************************************************************** Vilsack Announces Rural Infrastructure Funding Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday announced a more than $772 million investment for rural infrastructure projects. USDA says the new projects will benefit more than one million people living in remote areas of the country by providing reliable high-speed internet access, clean, safe water and a range of support for rural communities. Vilsack commented, "The investments will help us build our economy from the middle out and bottom-up by bringing high-speed internet, clean water, modern infrastructure, and good-paying jobs to communities in rural areas." USDA is investing $51.7 million to expand access to high-speed internet for rural areas through the Reconnect Program and the Broadband Technical Assistance Program, and $42 million in grants through the ReConnect Program. The investments also fund infrastructure projects in underserved communities participating in the Rural Partners Network. And USDA is financing projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to help build and improve rural wastewater systems. *********************************************************************************** USDA Proposes Changes to Monitoring Child Nutrition Programs USDA's Food and Nutrition Service recently published a proposed rule that the agency says will help ensure the federal child nutrition programs are properly operated. The regulatory updates seek to strengthen and clarify the process for correcting major mismanagement problems, also called serious deficiencies, found in child nutrition programs. The proposed changes will ensure that procedures in Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program, also known as CACFP and SFSP, align with current requirements under law. The changes include providing operators a fair path to fully correct serious mismanagement problems, clarifying termination and disqualification criteria for SFSP operators, and addressing legal requirements for obtaining records of individuals who are disqualified from the program and sponsoring organizations that operate in multiple states. USDA is also proposing a standard definition of what it means for an operator to be in “good standing,” which currently does not exist. The public is invited to comment on the proposed changes by May 21 at regulations.gov. *********************************************************************************** Growth Energy: California Proposal Leave Biofuels Behind Growth Energy this week submitted comments to the California Air Resources Board regarding the board's proposed changes to California's low-carbon fuel standard. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “While California has its sights set on the future, the state continues to overlook a significant challenge that it faces right now: decarbonizing the millions of internal combustion engine vehicles in the state that will continue to be on the road for decades. Growth Energy contends the proposal ignores plant-based fuel options, such as ethanol and biodiesel. One issue is the audit processes included in the proposal. Renewable Fuels Association Chief Economist Scott Richman says, “Imposing a third-party verification system for feedstock certification places an extreme audit burden on feedstock suppliers and biofuel producers without any clearly defined benefit.” Richman added that the provision does not define the general term "sustainability" and needs extensive stakeholder engagement and analysis before being considered for inclusion in any amendment to the LCFS program. *********************************************************************************** Senators: Livestock Consolidation a “Bad Deal” For Consumers, Ranchers Senators Chuck Grassley and Jon Tester encourage their Senate colleagues to oppose recent efforts that they say will weaken the Packers and Stockyards Act. The upcoming Fiscal year 2024 Agriculture Appropriations bill includes provisions Grassley and Tester say would "prevent USDA from enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act to hold multi-national food manufacturers accountable." Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Tester, a Montanna Democrat, contend, "Congress must reject the latest push by these special interests to attach a rider to the FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations bill to once again block USDA from implementing the 2008 bipartisan Farm Bill reforms." Enforcement already falls short in leveling the playing field for small-scale producers, and the Senators highlighted that recent efforts by the nation's largest meatpackers to prevent further enforcement would be detrimental to America's family farmers and ranchers. Currently, four companies control over 80 percent of domestic beef processing, 60 percent of domestic hog processing, and 50 percent of domestic poultry processing. *********************************************************************************** Ground Broke on New ARS Research Facility in Georgia USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the University of Georgia broke ground Wednesday on a new research facility on the UGA Tifton campus. The facility will house the Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory and the Crop Genetics and Breeding Research Unit. USDA says research at the facility will advance climate-smart agricultural research ranging from water resources to insect and pollinator management, and developing resilient and sustainable crop systems for the Southeastern United States. USDA Chief Scientist Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young says, "We are grateful for our longstanding partnership with scientists and students at the University of Georgia-Tifton, and we look forward to seeing this state-of-the-art facility foster additional innovation." USDA says the partnership between ARS and UGA highlights the importance of bringing cutting-edge research to the heart of South Georgia agriculture and helps prepare the next generation of agricultural leaders to take the world's stage through student experience and education.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 22, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets South American weather will be of concern as well as the EIA's weekly petroleum status report, which will give ethanol production and stocks and is out at 10 a.m. CST. At 7:30 a.m. CST we will get Initial Jobless Claims and at 9 a.m., existing home sales. Weather A weak system moving through the Eastern Corn Belt already has some showers and thunderstorms with it, but it'll be developing more widespread showers by the afternoon across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys before making its way to the East Coast for Friday. Temperatures behind this system continue to be warm and it will be all rain.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 21, 2024 |


Assessment Shows U.S. Soy’s Carbon Footprint Has Considerably Decreased A newly released Life Cycle Assessment found the U.S. soybean industry’s global warming potential profile decreased considerably in 2021 for whole soybeans, soybean meal, and soy oil compared to previously reported findings in 2015 and 2010. Commissioned by the United Soybean Board and the National Oilseed Processors Association, the study assessed the main drivers of the environmental impact, including soybean cultivation and harvesting, transportation, and energy usage in processing. USB CEO Lucas Lentsch says, “This body of research helps farmers better assess and understand soy’s contribution to the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of the entire soybean value chain.” The study found that the soybean industry’s carbon footprint decreased considerably in 2021 for all U.S. Soy commodities compared to 2015, including a 19 percent decrease for U.S. soybeans, a six percent decrease for U.S. soybean meal, a 22 percent decrease for U.S. crude soy oil and an eight percent decrease for U.S. refined soy oil. *********************************************************************************** Zinke Introduces Legislation to Protect Public Lands Congressman Ryan Zinke this week introduced the Public Lands in Public Hands Act. The Montanna Republican Representative announced the legislation during a roundtable in Bozeman, Montanna. The legislation would ban the sale or transfer of most public lands managed by the Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service except under specific conditions and where required under previous laws. The bill also requires Congressional approval for disposals of publicly accessible federal land tracts over 300 acres and public land tracts over five acres if accessible via a public waterway. This provision alone would protect public access to nearly 30 million acres of public lands depended upon by outdoorsmen of all types across Montana. Zinke says, “Public lands must remain public, and the federal government has a responsibility to manage and ensure access to those lands.” Zinke partnered with Democrat Congressman Gabe Vasquez from New Mexico on the legislation. *********************************************************************************** USDA Sets Dates for Peanut Checkoff Continuance Referendum The Department of Agriculture will conduct a referendum April 8-19, 2024, for eligible U.S. producers of peanuts to decide whether to continue their checkoff program. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service will conduct the referendum by regular mail, express mail and electronic ballot. AMS staff will mail ballots and voting instructions to all known eligible U.S. peanut producers before the voting period. Folks engaged in the production and sale of peanuts at the time of the referendum and during the representative period of January 1 through December 31, 2022, are eligible to vote. The order will continue if a majority of producers voting in the referendum favor it. Completed ballots delivered to AMS via regular mail must be postmarked by April 19, 2024, to be counted. Ballots delivered to AMS via express mail or electronic ballot must show proof of delivery no later than 11:59 p.m. ET April 19, 2024 to be counted. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces Renewable Energy Application Assistance The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced a grant program for organizations to provide hands-on assistance to producers applying for the Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP funding. USDA is making $16 million available through the REAP Technical Assistance Grants Program to provide additional support to farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners seeking REAP funds. Eligible recipients for these grants include state, Tribal or local governments; colleges and universities; electric cooperatives and utility companies; and for-profit and nonprofit organizations. USDA expects the effort to help rural agricultural producers and small business owners apply for REAP funding, provide information on how business owners and agricultural producers can improve the energy efficiency of their operations and use renewable energy technologies and resources, among other benefits. Since December 2022, USDA has made up to $1.3 billion available in REAP funding through the Inflation Reduction Act. Applications must be submitted by March 15, as detailed in the Federal Register. *********************************************************************************** CropLife America Appoints Next President and CEO CropLife America Tuesday announced Alexandra (Alex) Dunn as its new president and chief executive officer. Dunn joins CropLife America after serving as a Partner in the Environmental, Safety, and Incident Response group at the international law firm of Baker Botts, L.L.P. While at Baker Botts, Dunn worked on pesticide issues, chemical regulation, water quality, enforcement, litigation, environmental justice, and community engagement. In 2019, with bi-partisan support, she was confirmed with unanimous consent by the U.S. Senate, to serve as Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention from 2019 – 2021. CLA Chairman Andy Lee says, “Alex’s experience will provide guidance and leadership in both the policy and regulatory spaces.” Dunn responded, “I cannot think of a better moment than the present to work towards agricultural solutions that benefit the public and the planet.” CropLife America Partnered with executive search firm Kincannon & Reed for the search. *********************************************************************************** Fuel Prices Trending Higher For the fourth straight week, the nation's average price of gasoline has gone up, rising 8.7 cents from a week ago to $3.26 per gallon. The national average is up 16.7 cents from a month ago but 11.6 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average diesel price increased 10 cents last week and stands at $4.09 per gallon—38 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan says, "One of the most critical elements to how much gas prices will climb is how quickly and effectively refiners can finish their pre-summer maintenance, start producing EPA-mandated summer gasoline, and build up supply of it before Memorial Day." The price of oil has seen some sideways movement, but overall strength continues, with oil now closing in on $80, its highest level since November. Meanwhile, U.S. retail gasoline demand saw an increase of 0.7 percent for the week ending February 18.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 21, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders continue to watch the weather forecasts, especially for South America, while Brazil's soybeans are being harvested and corn is being planted. News also remains a concern from Ukraine, Israel and the Red Sea. At 1 p.m. CST, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from the January Open Market Committee meeting. Weather A storm system that has been bringing widespread showers to the West the past couple of days will move into the Southern Plains Wednesday night then head east through the Ohio Valley for Thursday. As the system leaves, scattered showers will develop from the Central Plains into the southern Midwest, being light, but becoming heavier in the Ohio Valley for Thursday. It continues to be warm both ahead of and behind this system, making it all rain.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 20, 2024 |


New Era of Growth for Clean Fuels Clean Fuels Alliance America welcomed almost 850 attendees from over 20 countries to its Clean Fuels Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. It was a chance to connect with key players in the biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel industries. “The conference offered a setting to unite on the mission and vision that are so critical to our success,” says Clean Fuels CEO Donnell Rehagen. “As our industry continues to evolve, it’ll be even more important to remain together and focused on the issues that move us forward.” Companies including BNSF Railway, Union Pacific, American Airlines, and PepsiCo took the stage to discuss sustainability goals and how clean fuels are moving the needle to reach them. OEM operators took attendees behind the scenes to explain how they are embracing the challenge of decarbonization and securing approvals to ensure liquid fuels continue to play a pivotal role in powering heavy-duty machinery. *********************************************************************************** Rural Mental Health Group Wins Prestigious Award Rural mental health national nonprofit Rural Minds was selected as the 2023 STARR Coalition Advocacy Organization of the Year and won the prestigious STARR Award. “This recognition is given to the advocacy organization that’s demonstrated exceptional dedication to advocating for those living with mental illness, their efforts to fight the mental illness stigma, and who support efforts to expand mental health research,” says Erica Moore of the STARR Coalition. Rural Minds Executive Director Chuck Strand says, “We thank the coalition for the award and recognition of the collaborative work we are doing through Rural Minds to help people in rural communities overcome unique barriers to mental health.” Rural Minds Founder and Chairman Jeff Winton adds that they look forward to the ongoing collaboration with other nonprofits, corporations, and individuals across the country as they confront the growing health issue facing rural America. For more information on the group, go to ruralminds.org. *********************************************************************************** Pork Exports Projected to Surpass Broiler Chicken Exports USDA’s long-term projection data shows the volume of U.S. red meat exports in all major categories is projected to grow through 2033. Rising incomes abroad and a moderately declining real exchange rate of the U.S. dollar against the currencies of major agricultural trading partners lend support to U.S. red meat and poultry exports. By 2028, pork exports are set to exceed exports of broiler chickens for the first time since 1976. Steady growth in U.S. pork production, driven by a combination of increasing slaughter weights, rising pigs per litter, and higher inventories, is projected to support rapid growth in exports. New environmental policies in the European Union are expected to impact pork production and reduce the growth of EU exports, which will enhance U.S. competitiveness. U.S. pork exports are expected to increase by 34 percent from an expected 6.95 billion pounds in 2024 to a projected 9.34 billion pounds by 2033. *********************************************************************************** Prop 12 Will Cause Market Chaos Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack didn’t hold back when asked about the potential economic harm of California’s Prop 12. “If Congress doesn’t act, we’re going to have chaos in the marketplace,” Vilsack said in response to a question from House Ag Committee Chair Glenn Thompson. California’s Prop 12 went into effect on January 1 and placed housing restrictions on farms that ship pork to the state. By setting production standards in other states, California is regulating interstate commerce, which Prop 12 opponents say is an authority reserved for the federal government. “The reality is that when each state has the ability to define for itself and its consumers exactly what farming techniques are appropriate, it creates the possibility of 50 different sets of regulations,” Vilsack says. “That means no certainty for producers.” He also says if the issue isn’t taken seriously, it’ll mean chaos because other states can take the same steps. *********************************************************************************** Land Use Study Shows Interesting Results A new study from the researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Energy Resource Center evaluates the environmental and economic impacts of land use change. The land use change impact is specifically for land that moves in and out of cropland over ten-year time periods. The study aimed to determine land use and soil organic carbon stocks on 1,000 land parcels over a 36-year period. “As part of this study, we conducted a historical analysis going back to 1985 and found that longer time intervals need to be considered when determining the environmental and economic impact of land use changes,” says lead researcher Ken Copenhaver. “Notably, this is not something that current regulations are taking into consideration.” Using advanced satellite imagery and aerial photography, the researchers discovered their findings challenge previous studies that primarily focus on shorter time intervals, often less than ten years when examining land use changes.” *********************************************************************************** Western Land Survey Shows Unity on Concerns A new poll that surveyed at least 400 registered voters in each of the eight western states shows residents putting a top priority on clean air, clean water, conservation, and combating wildfires. The 14th annual Colorado College’s “Conservation in the West” poll found a lot of agreement, in a nation that’s become highly polarized, over the issue of protecting wild places, preserving wildlife migration corridors, and doing more to ensure the availability of a clean water supply. “There may be a lot that divides voters across the country, but in the West, there’s almost universal consensus in favor of conservation,” says Katrina Miller-Stevens, an associate professor at Colorado College. “Not only do voters prefer conservation when asked how water and public lands should be used, but issues involving water, air, land, and wildlife are top of mind when making their voting decisions.” Sixty-six percent of respondents think climate change impacts are significant

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 20, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Short Market Week, Clipper Weather Systems 1. Presidents Day holiday: Markets are closed on Monday in observance of federal Presidents Day holiday in the United States, although mandatory livestock reports are still released that day. Canadian markets are also closed for Family Day in some provinces or named a different holiday in others. We'll have limited updates, with market coverage and full news coverage resuming Tuesday. 2. Census of Ag details: We'll continue to dig into the trends and surprises from the 2022 Census of Agriculture. 3. More machinery coverage: We'll have additional pieces from our attendance at several of the winter farm equipment shows. 4. Weather changes: Throughout next week, multiple clipper systems will cross the Central U.S., providing areas of rain and isolated snow showers. The Northern and Central Plains may see warmer weather return through the week. In the Midwest, those systems will also bring higher temperatures, which will keep precipitation in the form of rain instead of snow. In South America, a system off the Brazil coast will continue to produce showers in southern and eastern Brazil through early this week. The front that is moving through Argentina this week may produce scattered showers later in the week. 5. Economic reports to Watch: Monday is the Presidents Day holiday, commodity and stock markets are closed and no government reports are out, although mandatory livestock reports are still released that day. Canadian markets are closed for Family Day/another holiday on Monday. China futures markets will reopen. U.S. futures markets open Tuesday morning. Tuesday starts with the U.S. Leading Economic Indicators report at 9 a.m., followed by U.S. Grain Inspections at 10 a.m. The NASS Chicken and Eggs Annual report is out at 2 p.m. Then Thursday starts with Initial Jobless Claims at 7:30 a.m.; at 8:45 a.m. is S & P services and manufacturing PMIs; 9 a.m. is the release of existing home sales, and at 10 a.m. the EIA will release the weekly petroleum status report, including weekly ethanol production and stocks. At 2 p.m. we'll see the livestock and poultry slaughter reports and broiler hatchery and milk production reports. Friday starts with grain export sales at 7:30 a.m. and at 2 p.m. is the Cattle on Feed report. Watch for our Cattle on Feed Preview story prior to the report's release.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 20, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders will again focus on South American weather over the weekend and the coming weeks. At 9 a.m. CST the U.S. Leading Economic Indicators report will be released. At 10 a.m. CST we will get the Grain Inspections report release. Weather Areas east of the Rockies are seeing another quiet day, but a storm system is coming ashore in the West that will cause a system later this week farther east. Temperatures continue to rise and well-above normal readings are returning again.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 16, 2024 |


Farmers Can Use Existing Dicamba Stocks An Arizona District Court vacated the 2020 registration of over-the-top dicamba products, so the Environmental Protection Agency issued an Existing Stocks Order. The order allows limited sale and distribution of dicamba products that were already in possession of growers or in trade channels outside of the control of pesticide companies by February 6. The order also prohibits the use of these dicamba products except where the use is consistent with the previously approved labeling, which included measures intended to reduce environmental damage caused by offsite movement of the pesticide. The EPA issued the order after receiving enough evidence that millions of gallons of OTT dicamba had already entered the trade channels before February 6. Plus, growers aren’t able to switch to other options due to the timing of the Arizona court’s decision. The order applies only to dicamba formulations designed to use over the top of dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. *********************************************************************************** Ag Groups Appreciate EPA Existing Stocks Order U.S. agriculture groups expressed appreciation for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Existing Stocks Order on over-the-top dicamba use in 2024. “We’re grateful to EPA for hearing farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns and addressing them quickly to make sure they have the crop protection tools they need,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “Without EPA stepping in, farmers and ranchers were facing significant uncertainty and financial risk.” American Soybean Association President Josh Gackle says tens of millions of farmland acres were in limbo. “This ruling potentially affects more than 50 million acres of dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton, an area larger than Nebraska.” Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, was also pleased with the decision. “As co-regulatory partners with EPA, we commend the agency for issuing the existing stocks order on dicamba,” he says. “The stocks order will prevent severe detrimental impacts to our food, fuel, and fiber availability.” *********************************************************************************** January Tractor Sales Up Slightly in the U.S. Unit sales of four-wheel-drive tractors grew slightly in the U.S. during January. The latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers shows four-wheel-drive tractor sales increased 1.4 percent year-over-year and was the only segment to show growth in January. In Canada, four-wheel-drive tractor sales were unchanged at 409 units in January compared to 2023. “The slight gain in U.S. four-wheel-drive tractors is positive news as 2024 begins,” says AEM Senior Vice President Curt Blades. “While overall sales fell in both the U.S. and Canada compared to January 2023 sales, we remain optimistic about future long-term growth.” Overall unit sales of U.S. tractors dropped 21.2 percent compared to January 2023 sales, while combine sales finished 4.9 percent below last January. Under-40 horsepower tractors were down 26 percent from last year. Canadian tractor sales ended January 30 percent below the 2023 data. Combines were also down 9.5 percent in January compared to last year. *********************************************************************************** Crop Insurance Costs to Jump 29 Percent The federally-subsidized crop insurance program will cost an additional $27.7 billion over the next decade. A Congressional Budget Office report says the government pays roughly 62 cents of each dollar in premiums, and sales of livestock and forage policies are exploding. A Farmdoc report says crop insurance costs should rise by 29 percent to nearly $125 billion for the decade ending in 2033. Despite the increase, USDA spending on crop and livestock subsidies and land stewardship programs should remain stable. While crop insurance costs likely will increase, the Senate Ag Committee says that projected costs for all farm bill-related programs are now $1.46 trillion between 2025 and 2034. That’s down 3.5 percent from the previous ten-year baseline of $1.5 trillion. Livestock insurance programs have grown dramatically since 2018 when Congress increased the premium subsidy rates for coverage. Policies covered $26.4 billion of liabilities in 2023, compared to $512 million in 2018. *********************************************************************************** Eighteen Months From a Bird Flu Vaccine Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the United States is 18 months away from a vaccine for bird flu. That news comes as more than 81 million U.S. poultry and aquatic birds have been killed by avian flu across 47 states since January 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. has found bird flu this year in eight commercial flocks and 14 backyard flocks so far, affecting 530,000 poultry. During a Congressional hearing, Vilsack said, “We’re probably 18 months away from being able to identify a vaccine that would be effective for the particular flu we’re dealing with now.” Forth News says the USDA plans to discuss poultry vaccinations with trading partners amid concerns that other countries could restrict imports of vaccinated U.S. poultry. In May, the World Organization for Animal Health said governments should consider flu vaccines in their poultry to prevent the spread of avian influenza. *********************************************************************************** USGC Winter Meeting Underway in Guatemala U.S. Grains Council members and staff gathered in Guatemala this week for the Council’s 21st International Marketing Conference and 64th Annual Membership Meeting. The meeting runs through Friday and will involve discussions of the current state of feed grain and biofuel markets around the world and an update for attendees on the Council’s plans for 2024 and beyond. USGC Chair Brent Boydston opened the event with a welcome and an overview of his tenure thus far. “My theme for this year, Growing the Future, reflects both the opportunities and challenges of the current trade environment,” Boydston says. “We gather to discuss issues facing our industry and explore future demand for feed grains, distiller’s dried grains with solubles, and ethanol around the world.” Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip addressed attendees and outlined the importance of his office’s work in Guatemala and Central America. More information is available on social media at #Grains24.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 16, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets Traders will again focus on South American weather. Government reports out at 7:30 CST are Housing Starts, Building Permits, the Producer Price Index (PPI) and Core Producer Price Index. Weather Another clipper system from the Dakotas has made its way into the Southern Midwest Friday morning and will provide snow showers to the Eastern and Southern Midwest throughout the day. Farther south, temperatures will be milder for rain showers across the Southern Delta and Tennessee Valley.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 15, 2024 |


Analysis: Crop Insurance Prices Lower This Year An analysis by the University of Illinois projects crop insurance prices will be much lower than in 2023, resulting in lower per-acre premiums in 2024. That's because of lower corn and soybean futures during the first half of this month. Researchers say premiums are likely to be 16 to 18 percent lower for corn and ten to 12 percent lower for soybean policies based on current estimates for in Champaign and Jefferson Counties in Illinois. Since lower insurance prices also result in lower guarantees per acre, researchers say farmers may wish to increase their coverage levels with the premium savings. The projected insurance prices for corn and soybeans are based on average settlement prices on each crops' harvest contract during the month of February. Through February 9, the December corn contract has averaged $4.74 per bushel. The November soybean contract has averaged $11.73 per bushel or $2.03 below the $13.76 projected price in 2023, a decline of nearly 15 percent. Find the full analysis on the farmdocDAILY website. *********************************************************************************** Industry Responds to Census of Agriculture Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calls the data in the 2022 Census of Agriculture a "wake-up call" for the industry. In a statement following the release of the Census, Vilsack says, "It's imperative that we continue to deliver agriculture policies that create multiple streams of income and new, more competitive models for small- and mid-sized farms." The Census reports 141,733 fewer farms in 2022 than in 2017. The number of farm acres fell more than 20 million acres from just five years earlier. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “Increased regulations, rising supply costs, lack of available labor and weather disasters have all squeezed farmers to the point that many of them find it impossible to remain economically sustainable.” Vilsack adds, “We are at a pivotal moment, in which we have the opportunity to hold tight to the status quo and shrink our nation's agriculture sector further, or we can choose a more expansive, newer model that creates more opportunity, for more farmers." *********************************************************************************** Census of Agriculture Highlights Aging Farmer Population The 2022 Census of Agriculture shows the number of farmers over the age of 65 is outpacing younger farmers. Almost 1.3 million farmers are now at or beyond retirement age, while just 300,000 farmers are under the age of 35. The average age of all producers was 58.1, up 0.6 years from 2017. However, this is a smaller increase than average age increases between prior censuses. There were just over one million farmers with ten or fewer years of experience, an increase in the number of beginning farmers from 2017 of 11 percent. Beginning farmers are younger than all farmers, with an average age of 47.1. The number of producers under age 35 was 296,480, comprising nine percent of all producers. In 2022, 1.2 million female producers accounted for 36 percent of all producers. And the data shows that 58 percent of all farms had at least one female decision maker. *********************************************************************************** USDA: Food Prices Increased 5.8% in 2023 In 2023, all food prices increased by 5.8 percent on average compared with 2022. The figure includes both food away from home and food purchased for consumption at home. Food-at-home prices increased by 5.0 percent, while food-away-from-home prices increased by 7.1 percent. Food prices are expected to continue to decelerate in 2024. The all food prices are predicted to increase 1.3 percent, with a prediction interval of -1.4 to 4.2 percent. Food-at-home prices are predicted to decrease 0.4 percent, with a prediction interval of -4.5 to 4.0 percent, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase 4.7 percent, with a prediction interval of 3.1 to 6.2 percent. Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index earlier this week indicated an increase in January. The food index rose 0.4 percent in January, and the food at home index also increased 0.4 percent over the month. The food at home index rose 1.2 percent over the last 12 months, while the index for food away from home rose 5.1 percent. *********************************************************************************** NFU Leads Letter to Congress: Uphold Packers and Stockyards Act Progress National Farmers Union this week sent a letter to Appropriations Committee leadership opposing restrictions that would undo work to revitalize the Packers and Stockyards Act. The letter, signed by national, regional, and state organizations, points out that "opponents of competitive agricultural markets are seeking to roll back the work USDA has already completed, prevent USDA from making additional progress on these rules, and prevent any similar effort in the future." Damaging provisions were included in an earlier version of the FY24 Appropriations bill, and this same strategy was used by opponents of the Act during previous administrations. NFU President Rob Larew says, "Blocking USDA's work would be a direct hit to fair markets," adding, "Congress should champion family farmers and consumers, not bow to meatpacking monopolies. We urge them to discard this harmful proposal once and for all." Just this week, USDA's first updated Packers and Stockyards Act rule went into effect, with many more important rules to follow. *********************************************************************************** USDA Investment to Help Indigenous Communities Access Climate Markets The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced a $20 million investment to support indigenous communities in accessing emerging climate markets. The funding, distributed through competitive grants administered by the USDA Forest Service, will help recipients access emerging private markets for forest resilience, climate mitigation, water quality, carbon sequestration and more. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small says, “Tribes and Alaska Native corporations and villages will have broader access to markets that will help address the climate crisis.” Deputy Secretary Torres Small made the announcement during a meeting of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington. The non-profit National Congress is the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the interests of Tribal governments and communities. The investments fund work on tribal lands and complement USDA's commitment to advance co-stewardship of national forests and grasslands. Proposals for this new grant opportunity may be submitted through August 21, 2024, at grants.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 15, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Traders will again focus on South American weather and watch for export sales out at 7:30 a.m. CST. The USDA Ag Outlook Forum is also taking place and we will get a look at their new crop balance sheets. Other government reports out include Initial Jobless claims, U.S. Retail Sales, and Industrial Production. Weather A clipper system providing snow to the Great Lakes and rain showers to the Eastern Midwest will exit these regions Thursday. Another clipper from the Northern Rockies will enter the Dakotas and Central Plains later Thursday into the evening, possibly providing a band of six inches of snow across southern South Dakota and northern Nebraska.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 14, 2024 |


USDA Releases 2022 Census of Agriculture USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service Tuesday announced the 2022 Census of Agriculture results. The information collected directly from producers shows a continued decline in the total number of U.S. farms. However, the data also show a rise in the number of new and beginning farmers and young producers. New and beginning farmers are defined as those operating ten or fewer years on any farm and young producers are those under the age of 35. NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer says, “Overall, though there are always changes across U.S. agriculture, the data remain largely consistent with the previous ag census.” The data shows there were 1.9 million farms and ranches, down seven percent from 2017, with an average size of 463 acres, up five percent. Family-owned and operated farms accounted for 95 percent of all U.S. farms and operated 84 percent of land in farms. Find the complete data set online at nass.usda.gov/AgCensus. *********************************************************************************** Food Prices Increased in January Grocery prices increased slightly last month, according to the latest Consumer Price Index released Tuesday. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.3 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, after rising 0.2 percent in December. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.1 percent. The food index rose 0.4 percent in January, and the food at home index also increased 0.4 percent over the month. Four of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased over the month. The food away from home index rose 0.5 percent in January. The index for full-service meals rose 0.4 percent and the index for limited service meals increased 0.6 percent over the month. The food at home index rose 1.2 percent over the last 12 months, while the index for food away from home rose 5.1 percent over the last year. *********************************************************************************** Productivity The Major Driver of U.S. Agricultural Growth Technological developments in agriculture have enabled continued output growth without requiring much additional inputs, according to a new USDA Economic Research Service report. Innovations in animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization have made it possible for total agricultural output to nearly triple between 1948 and 2021. During that period, the amount of inputs used in farming declined slightly over time, meaning that the growth in agricultural output over the long term has depended on increases in total factor productivity. Total factor productivity measures the amount of agricultural output produced from the combined inputs in farm production. Growth in total factor productivity indicates positive changes in the efficiency with which inputs are transformed into outputs. In the most recent calculation period spanning 2020–21, agricultural output grew, which was due entirely to total factor productivity growth, even as the amount of inputs used in farming fell. *********************************************************************************** USDA Releases North America 2023 Potato Production Data A new report from the Agriculture Departments of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada reveals the 2023 North American Potato harvest data. USDA released the North American Potatoes report this week. The 2023 potato production for the United States and Canada combined is estimated at 570 million per hundredweight, up eight percent from the 2022 estimate. The United States potato production is estimated at 441 million hundredweight, up ten percent from last year. Canada's potato growers harvested 129 million, up four percent from 2022. The 2022 potato production for the United States, Canada, and Mexico combined is 567 million hundredweight, down two percent from the 2021 estimate. The United States 2022 potato production is estimated at 402 million hundredweight, down three percent from 2021. Canada’s potato growers harvested 124 million hundredweight during 2022, up two percent from 2021. Mexico’s potato growers harvested 41.4 million hundredweight during 2022, down four percent from 2021. *********************************************************************************** USDA Ag Outlook Forum Thursday USDA will hold its annual Ag Outlook Forum Thursday. The two-day event is USDA's 100th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, themed “Cultivating the Future.” The vent features more than 30 sessions and 120 speakers, and offers a rich and diverse program covering a range of timely topics such as commodity markets, trade, technology, climate change and more. Thursday will feature USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer’s presentation on the 2024 Agricultural Economic and Foreign Trade Outlook, and a Keynote address by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Day two on Friday features a plenary session titled, “Fostering Diverse Opportunities for U.S. Agricultural Exports in the Global Marketplace.” Friday\’s schedule included virtual remarks by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and remarks from U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. USDA will hold the event at the Crystal City Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia. For more information about the program and registration, visit the Agricultural Outlook Forum website. *********************************************************************************** Collaboration Seeks Japanese Encephalitis Virus Research A new collaboration seeks to fund research for prevention and preparedness capabilities for Japanese encephalitis virus, a transboundary disease risk for U.S. introduction. The Swine Health Information Center and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research have partnered to fund a $1 million research program. Japanese encephalitis is an emerging zoonotic disease identified through global monitoring as a priority for North American prevention and preparedness activities. The virus is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes, and biosecurity practices focused on mosquito control are key to reducing risk. In 2022, an outbreak of the disease spread rapidly across new geographic regions of Australia, affecting breeding swine herds. Individual awards are capped at $250,000, but proposals may exceed the cap if sufficient justification is provided. All projects should strive to be unique, have a high impact, show value to pork producers, and have industry-wide benefit. Additional information can be found at www.swinehealth.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 14, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders will again focus on South American weather, and at 10 a.m. CST, the EIA will be out with their Weekly Petroleum report which will detail weekly ethanol production and stocks. There will be no government economic reports following Tuesday's higher than expected Consumer Price Index data. Weather A band of moderate to heavy snow will develop across South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin Wednesday and parts of west-central Minnesota and east-central South Dakota could see up to eight inches of snow. Cooler temperatures are expected behind this system.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 13, 2024 |


Growth Rate of World Ag Production Slows USDA says in the last decade, world agricultural output grew at an average annual rate of 1.94 percent per year, far slower than the 2.74 percent growth rate over the prior decade. That’s also below the average annual rate of 2.3 percent over the past six decades from 1961-2021. The slowdown was primarily tied to a slowing rate of growth in agricultural total factor productivity (TFP), which fell 1.4 percent per year in 2011-2021 compared to 1.93 percent per year during the previous decade. TFP measures the amount of agricultural output produced from the aggregated inputs used in the production process, including land, capital, labor, and material resources. There are four major sources for overall growth, including bringing more land into production, extending irrigation to land, intensifying the use of capital, labor, and material inputs per unit of land, and improving TFP, reflecting the rate of technological and efficiency improvements of inputs. *********************************************************************************** Questions Continue About Farm Kids and Financial Aid Iowa Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are pressing the Department of Education for clarity regarding Question 22 on the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid. They’re especially concerned that the way the agency chooses to ask the question will force students to list the net worth of family farms as assets. Current ambiguities could cut off farm kids from needed financial aid and make it less feasible for them to attend college. “The question fundamentally misunderstands how the family farm operates, as the stream of revenue for crops and livestock varies significantly year-over-year, and assets cannot get cashed out to support a loan in the same capacity as traditional investments,” the senators wrote in a letter to the Education Department. “We reiterate our concern with the nature of this question and the lack of insight on how the adjusted formula will impact students from an agricultural background.” *********************************************************************************** FACA Sees Workforce Development Opportunities The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance welcomes the launch of a USDA workforce development initiative aimed at building the next generation of conservation delivery providers. The Working Lands Climate Corps is a promising opportunity to provide on-the-ground education and training to develop the skillset needed to address natural resource challenges. Climate Corps fellows, working with state and local organizations, will gain the skills needed to provide conservation technical assistance to agricultural producers who are voluntarily making climate-smart investments in their operations. FACA appreciates USDA’s commitment to building the next generation of boots on the ground but acknowledges the immediate need for more capacity today. “We encourage USDA to continue to prioritize ongoing capacity-building and recruitment efforts,” FACA says. “These two efforts are complementary and necessary to build a robust workforce to scale conservation delivery. FACA members are united in support of climate policies that are voluntary, market-based, and scientifically sound. *********************************************************************************** FMMO Next Steps Begin With the Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing now complete, USDA is now considering the more than 12,000 pages of testimony as it formulates a plan for FMMO modernization. The National Milk Producers Federation is still doing what it can to ensure that the proposal best reflects the interest of dairy farmers and their cooperatives. The organization says the key to a successful modernization is a comprehensive approach that addresses the complexity of federal orders in a way that respects the entire dairy industry while keeping in mind that orders most fundamentally must work for farmers. That’s the bedrock principle behind NMPF proposals on areas ranging from returning to the “higher-of” Class I mover to updating milk composition factors. “You can’t look at the federal order system having not been updated in 20 years and not address all facets of the industry,” says Stephen Cain, NMPF Senior Director for Economic Research and Analysis. *********************************************************************************** Grocery Buying Goes Online In 2022, the Economic Research Service’s Eating and Health Module captured, for the first time, nationally representative data concerning the prevalence and frequency of Americans doing online grocery shopping. The survey data revealed that nearly nine out of ten individuals aged 15 and older (87.2 percent) reported they usually grocery shopped for their household either online or in person. Of these, about two in 10 (19.3 percent) had bought groceries online at least in the past 30 days. However, the frequency of online shopping varied. Among those who had bought groceries online in the past month, 30 percent did once, 25 percent made two online purchases, and 44 percent bought groceries online three or more times. The landscape of online grocery shopping took a big shift in 2020 because of COVID. The Food and Drug Administration says online grocery sales grew 55 percent from 2019’s $62 billion to $96 billion in 2020. *********************************************************************************** Fake Meat Investment Falls The last 12 months have been c challenging for cultivated meat and seafood companies trying to raise capital. For example, AGFunderNews.com says Finless Foods is making cutbacks to conserve cash, New Age Eats running out of funds, and GOOD Meat getting sued by its bioreactor supplier over allegedly unpaid bills. As AgFunder runs the numbers, preliminary data shows that funding for cultivated meat startups peaked at $989 million in 2021, dipped slightly to $807 million in 2022, and then dropped sharply last year, falling 78 percent to $177 million against a backdrop of a 50 percent drop in agrifood tech investing overall in 2023. While the funding rounds were far smaller in 2023 versus 2022, investors placed a sizable bet on Uncommon, a UK-based startup formerly called Higher Steaks. That investment netted $30 million in funding to scale the production of cultivated pork using patent-pending technology by speeding up the cell differentiation process.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 13, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's consumer price index for January will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Tuesday. USDA's 2022 Census of Agriculture is also due out sometime Tuesday. Traders continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts in South America and events in the Middle East. Weather A system that brought heavy rain and some snow to the Southeast Monday continues on the East Coast for Tuesday. A clipper coming down from Canada will be getting into the Northern Plains with some isolated snow showers as well, but most areas are going to be quiet Tuesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 12, 2024 |


U.S. Pork Exports Set Annual Record Led by a record-shattering performance in Mexico and broad-based growth elsewhere, U.S. pork exports set a value record in 2023. Data shows December pork exports rose 10 percent from the prior year to 268,400 metric tons, the largest since May 2021 and the eighth-largest on record. Export value increased 11 percent to $766 million, also the highest since May 2021 and the third-highest on record. The strong December pushed 2023 export value to a record $8.16 billion, six percent higher than 2022. Export volume reached 2.91 million tons, eight percent higher year-over-year and the third-largest on record. Beef exports closed the year on a higher note, with December totaling 108,497 million tons, down four percent year-over-year but the largest level since August. Export value was also the highest since August, climbing 10 percent over 2022 to $860.8 million. 2023 beef exports hit 1.29 million tons, 12 percent below 2022 levels. *********************************************************************************** Farmers Need Access to Crop Protection Tools American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking the agency to allow farmers to use existing dicamba stocks for the upcoming season. An Arizona court vacated the registration of three dicamba products critically important for farmers in fighting resistant weeds. “Many farmers have already made planting decisions to use dicamba-tolerant crop systems and have planned to use dicamba products in the near future,” Duvall says. “These farmers invested in substantial sums in the dicamba-resistant seeds in reliance on EPA’s prior approval of dicamba on these crops.” He adds that without those products, not only are the substantial investments at risk, but farmers don’t know how they’ll protect their crops. AFB is asking EPA to issue an existing stock order to ensure dicamba remains available to farmers throughout the growing season. “We are committed to the safe use of all crop protection tools,” Duvall adds. *********************************************************************************** USDA Contributes $270 Million to Bolster Food Supply Chain Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA has awarded over $270 million to date through cooperative agreements with state departments of agriculture to build resilience across the middle of the food supply chain and strengthen local and regional food systems. The funding is awarded through the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program. At the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s Winter Policy Conference, Vilsack announced Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Utah, and West Virginia have now opened their Request for Applications for the program, joining 28 states that are already offering grant funding for projects that support supply chain infrastructure. “These unprecedented investments into our nation’s supply chain infrastructure will not only benefit consumers by ensuring they have dependable access to fresh and locally produced food, but the investments will also benefit producers and rural communities by providing more and better markets for small and mid-sized producers,” he says. *********************************************************************************** Part of Massachusetts Pork Law Ruled Unconstitutional A U.S. District Judge ruled that a portion of the recent Massachusetts law that bans the sale of pork if a pig is held in a confined space is unconstitutional. However, Boston media reports say the judge is allowing that part of the law to be severed, and the rest will stay in effect for now. Judge William Young made the ruling following a lawsuit by pork processors and other pig farmers who believed the pork law was unconstitutional. The law, called “The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act,” was approved by voters in 2016 and banned the sale of eggs, veal, and pork from animals held in conditions deemed cruel. The portion of the law getting argued was an exemption that allowed the sale of pork from federally inspected slaughterhouses in Massachusetts that don’t meet requirements as long as the buyers take possession of the pork while on their premises. *********************************************************************************** EPA Outlines Potential ESA Pesticide Policies The Environmental Protection Agency announced implementation approaches for pesticide policies under the Endangered Species Act. Assistant Administrator Michael Freedhoff talked about the steps during a speech at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s winter policy conference. When registering pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, EPA must also comply with the Endangered Species Act to ensure the pesticides don’t harm endangered species or their habitats. EPA announced additional plans to address concerns about the challenge of protecting endangered species from exposure and expand its partnership with the USDA. EPA says it won’t implement the Vulnerable Species Pilot Protections for a species until a more refined map of its habitat gets developed. The agency is also working to develop new maps that better reflect where the species actually live and where protections from pesticides are needed most. “These steps will benefit farmers and endangered species,” Freedhoff says. *********************************************************************************** McDonald’s Hits 100 Percent Cage-Free Eggs McDonald’s says it met the goal of sourcing 100 percent cage-free eggs in the U.S. by 2025, two years ahead of its original timeline. The company says it’s continuing to prioritize the health and welfare of the animals in its supply chain. The improvement is in the power of the “McDonald’s System” working together towards a shared goal. As a U.S. system, McDonald’s purchased almost two billion eggs in 2023, close to six times the entire U.S. population. “Our journey to move to sourcing 100 percent cage-free eggs in the U.S. was a huge undertaking that was made uniquely possible by our owner/operators, producers, and our supply chain working together as one team,” says Bob Stewart, SVP and North American Chief Supply Chain Officer for McDonald’s. “I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved together and the positive impact we’ll continue to make on the path toward a more sustainable future.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 12, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Big Shows and Big Reports 1. National machinery shows: Two of the big farm shows kick off this week. DTN will have a series of markets, weather and cropping sessions going on during the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Come hear DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick and DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman -- they'll have daily sessions on our weather and commodity markets outlooks Wednesday (at 2:30 p.m. EST), Thursday (8:30 a.m. EST) and Friday (10 a.m. EST). Our Successful Cover Crop Strategies session, featuring a panel of cover crop and carbon program experts, is Thursday at 10:30 a.m. We'll also have DTN Senior Editor Dan Miller and others reporting from the show floor. DTN Senior Editor Joel Reichberger will be at Tulare, California to report the latest new technologies on display at the World Ag Expo. 2. Census of Ag: On Feb. 13, USDA will release results of the 2022 Census of Agriculture. We'll have insights into some of the key trends in prices, land ownership and other key indicators that have taken shape since the 2017 Ag Census. We'll have continued reporting on census figures through the coming weeks. 3. USDA Outlook Conference. On Feb. 15-16, USDA will hold its annual outlook conference in Washington, D.C. This year's conference is a few weeks earlier than normal, but will feature USDA's official outlook on all the major commodities for 2024. We'll report from the event. 4. Weather cools: The unseasonably warm conditions of the past 10 or so days will taper somewhat, though most of the country will still see temperatures slightly above to above normal for mid-February. Systems could bring more showers to the Southern and Central Plains late in the week. 5. Economic reports to watch: Monday starts with grain inspection reports at 10 a.m. At 1 p.m. the Monthly Federal Budget report is revealed. Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. we will have the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Core CPI and Core CPI year-over-year results. On Wednesday (Happy Valentine's Day!) we'll see the EIA Weekly Petroleum Report, including ethanol production and stocks, at 10 a.m. Then Thursday sees a collection of reports hitting at 7:30 a.m., including weekly grain and oilseed export sales, initial jobless claims, U.S. retail sales and national import and export numbers. Industrial Production numbers are out at 8:15 a.m., with Home Builder Confidence Index at 9 a.m. and the weekly Economic Index Report at 10:30 a.m. (Don't forget to water those flowers you bought your Valentine. Wait, you did get flowers, right?) Friday morning will be busy. We'll see U.S. Housing Starts report at 7:30 a.m., as well as Building Permits and the New Residential Construction report, along with the Producer Price Index (PPI), Core PPI, and PPI Year-Over-Year reports. At 9 a.m. the Consumer Sentiment report will be released. Whew!

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 12, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will be paying attention to South American weather and the latest events from the Middle East. Markets in China are closed this week for the Lunar New Year. USDA's weekly export inspections will be out at 10 a.m. CST. The U.S. Treasury Department reports on the federal budget for January at 1 p.m. Weather A system from the weekend continues to move through the Southeast on Monday, with areas of heavy rain and thunderstorms, some of which may be severe. On the northern end of the storm, it will be just cold enough to get some snow to fall from southern Missouri through portions of the Ohio Valley. Despite the snow, it still remains mild by February standards in most places of the country outside of the Southwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 9, 2024 |


February WASDE Shows Higher Corn, Soybean Ending Stocks The February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates show the 2023-2024 U.S. corn outlook calling for lower food, seed, and industrial use and larger ending stocks. Lower usage will lead to a 10 million bushel increase in ending stocks compared to last month’s report. The season-average corn price received by producers is unchanged at $4.80 a bushel. This month’s soybean outlook is for lower exports and higher ending stocks. Soybean exports are forecast at 1.72 billion bushels, down 35 million from last month. With crush unchanged, ending stocks are forecast at 315 million bushels, up 35 million from last month. The season-average soybean price is forecast a dime lower to $12.65 per bushel. The wheat outlook is for stable supplies, lower domestic use, unchanged exports, and higher ending stocks. Projected ending stocks are up 10 million bushels to 658 million. The season-average farm price forecast is unchanged at $7.20 a bushel. *********************************************************************************** Ag Retailers Association Unhappy with Dicamba Decision Earlier this week, a federal District Court in Arizona vacated the registration for over-the-top applications of dicamba on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. While the court decision came from Arizona, the decision is national in scope. The Ag Retailers Association disagrees with the decision, noting the determination should be made by a science-based regulatory agency. The association says, “The timing of the decision will be extremely disruptive to ag retailers, distributors, manufacturers, and farmers planning to use the products in 2024.” The ARA points out that farmers have already made their decisions about what varieties of cotton and soybean seeds they want to plant this year, and retailers are already stocking not only the seeds but also the herbicides the growers need for their systems. “The decision comes after most planning is finished and while we are procuring those products that farmers need,” the ARA adds. “It’s the worst possible time.” *********************************************************************************** CoBank: Lack of Heifers May Limit Milk Production Growth A sharp decline in the number of dairy heifers available to replace older cows exiting the U.S. dairy herd could limit meaningful growth in milk production. The number of dairy replacement heifers has fallen almost 15 percent in the last six years to reach a 20-year low. While the global demand outlook for U.S. dairy products is murky due to export market uncertainties, any potential growth opportunities may get stymied by an inability to expand U.S. milk production. A new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange says the rising cost of rearing dairy heifer calves has far outpaced increases in heifer values over the last several years. That imbalance has prompted dairy farmers to reduce their replacement heifer inventories, doing so, in large part, by breeding more dairy heifers and cows to beef bulls. “Farmers can cut costs associated with heifers and generate additional income from beef,” says Cory Geiger of CoBank. *********************************************************************************** Renewable Diesel to Expand by 30 Percent Annually The Energy Information Administration predicts renewable diesel production to increase by 30 percent annually in both 2024 and 2025. In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, the EIA says renewable diesel production will average approximately 230,000 barrels per day in 2024 and expand to 290,000 barrels per day in 2025. In comparison, production averaged approximately 200,000 barrels per day at the end of 2023. Renewable diesel production capacity has expanded significantly in recent years. EIA data shows capacity was at 1.75 billion gallons a year in January 2022 and had reached 3.85 billion gallons a year by November 2023. The EIA also announced it is reducing U.S. crude oil capacity forecast by 120,000 barrels per day beginning in March. That prediction comes after Phillips 66 plans to permanently stop processing crude oil at its Rodeo refinery in California next month. The company is planning to convert the facility to produce renewable diesel. *********************************************************************************** NIAA Adopts New Strategic Plan To ensure the National Institute for Animal Agriculture continues to meet its mission, the board of directors adopted a new strategic plan earlier this year. The board adopted the NIAA 2024 – 2026 Strategic Plan during their January meeting. “Fellow board members and I are looking forward to implementing these new strategic pillars and building on achievements from the past four years,” says Dr. Eric Moore, NIAA Chair. The strategic plan focuses on four pillars. The first is Convening: NIAA is the top forum for convening diverse thought leaders in animal ag. Number two is Leadership Development which empowers leaders to positively affect the future of animal agriculture. Three is Communications and Marketing which disseminates resources to the industry. The fourth is Fostering Innovation in Animal Agriculture, which includes facilitating awareness of innovative technologies and practices that are economically viable and scientifically sound to improve the profitability and sustainability of animal agriculture. *********************************************************************************** Favorite Super Bowl Snacks The Super Bowl is on Sunday and will be watched by approximately 113 million people. Food is a big part of Super Bowl parties, and Frito-Lay’s Super Bowl Snack Index has some interesting food trends. Seventy percent of experienced hosts begin gearing up by planning meals, and 51 percent start preparations at least a week early. Three in five guests admit the promise of top-notch food is the deciding factor in which Super Bowl party they attend. It’s particularly true in 77 percent of the under-40 crowd. Potlucks prevail as the preferred party format at 67 percent, highlighting the popularity of collaborative celebrations over host-provided fare. Salsa (27 percent), French Onion (21 percent), and Queso (20 percent) are the top three dips. While salsa steals the spotlight among Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X dippers, Baby Boomers prefer French Onion. Thirty-five percent of consumers integrate their favorite snacks into their meals.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 9, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets There are no significant reports Friday and markets in China are closed until Feb 19 for the Lunar New Year. Traders will sort through Thursday's estimates from USDA and Conab and keep watch over South American weather. Traders will also monitor the latest rise in oil prices and tensions in the Middle East. Weather A system that went across the north on Thursday stalled a cold front from Kansas to Michigan for Friday morning. That front and areas a bit to the south will light up with showers throughout the day while light snow flies across the far north. Despite colder temperatures than earlier this week, temperatures behind the cold front are still higher than normal.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 8, 2024 |


USDA Predicts Large Decline in Farm Income USDA’s Economic Research Service forecasts that U.S. net cash farm income will decrease by $42.2 billion, or 25.8 percent, to $121.7 billion in 2024 in inflation-adjusted dollars. This is after net farm cash income decreased in 2023 by a forecast of $50.2 billion to $163.9 billion. Net cash farm income is defined as gross cash income minus cash expenses. Net farm income is forecast to decrease by $43.1 billion to $116.1 billion from 2023 to 2024. Net farm income is a broader measure of farm sector profitability that incorporates noncash items, including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross imputed rental income. Cash receipts for farm commodities are projected to fall by $32.2 billion to $485.5 billion in 2024. Meanwhile, production expenses are expected to increase by $7.2 billion, or 1.6 percent, to $455.1 billion in 2024. Also, total commodity insurance indemnity payments are forecasted to fall by $1.5 billion in 2024, and direct government payments to farmers are projected to fall by $2.2 billion from 2023 levels to $10.2 billion in 2024. *********************************************************************************** Federal Judge Vacates Dicamba Registrations A federal judge this week vacated the 2020 dicamba registrations by the Environmental Protection Agency. The ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona leaves farmers without options to use dicamba in the upcoming growing season. Affected products include Bayer’s XtendiMax, BASF’s Engenia and Syngenta’s Tavium. In response, the North Carolina State University Extension says, "Many will panic in response to this news and scramble to switch technology." The court vacated registrations for over-the-top use of dicamba, ruling that the EPA violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act’s public input requirement before its approval. Proponents called the ruling a “vital victory for farmers and the environment.” The Center for Biological Diversity claims, “Endangered butterflies and bee populations will keep tanking if the EPA keeps twisting itself into a pretzel to approve this product just to appease the pesticide industry.” Crop protection companies are assessing the situation to find a path forward for dicamba. *********************************************************************************** House Democrats Draw Lines on Farm Bill Priorities House Agriculture Committee Democrats published a memo Wednesday laying out the principles the next farm bill should include. The principles outline the requests needed to win support of the House Democratic Caucus, however, draw hard lines against proposals from Republicans. The principles are distilled from farm bill priorities submitted by Democratic Members across the Caucus and represent the shared values of House Democrats, including protecting Inflation Reduction Act climate investments and SNAP. Ranking member David Scott of Georgia says, "After months of Republican discord and disorder delaying the passage of the farm bill, the principles document presents an honest assessment of where House Democrats are on farm bill policy." Scott believes the principles offer Republicans an "unambiguous and straightforward path to passing a strong, effective, and bipartisan farm bill." According to the Democratic principles, the farm bill must reduce hunger, strengthen America's farmers, and invest in sustainable agriculture, among other issues. *********************************************************************************** TFI: Tightening of Air Standards will Hamper Fertilizer Production The Fertilizer Institute Wednesday expressed alarm with the Environmental Protection Agency’s lowering of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter. According to TFI, the change will lead to permitting gridlock across much of the country, negatively impacting economic growth and fertilizer production. TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch says, "At a time when the need to strengthen the domestic fertilizer industry has been made clear by multiple ongoing global crises and echoed by the Biden Administration, now is not the time to hamstring fertilizer production." The standards have significantly curtailed air pollution nationwide, but a major challenge for industries arises as those levels are progressively lowered. Despite ongoing technological improvements, industries reach a threshold where additional air quality improvements become more and more unfeasible under stricter standards, especially as 84 percent of current PM2.5 emissions originate from non-industrial sources. TFI claims PM2.5 emissions have declined nearly 40 percent over the past twenty years and continue to decrease. *********************************************************************************** Corn Farmers Caution Administration over Electric Vehicles A letter signed by more than 3,400 farmers was sent to President Biden Wednesday expressing concern over the administration's focus on electric vehicles. Specifically, the prioritization of electric vehicles over biofuels, such as corn ethanol, as it works to drastically lower the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. The letter says, "If we are going to address climate change and meet our sustainability goals, we are going to have to take a multi-pronged approach, that includes tapping into higher levels of biofuels." The letter, which drew thousands of signatures in less than a week, comes as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to release its light- and medium-duty vehicle tailpipe emissions standards for 2027-2032. A recent survey, sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association shows Americans have concerns on a range of issues involving electric vehicles. In the letter, the farmers said it could take years before EVs become popular with consumers, which means the administration must expand its focus and efforts to address greenhouse gasses with solutions that are available now. *********************************************************************************** USDA Identifies 2024 McGovern-Dole Priority Countries The Department of Agriculture this week identified priority countries for new McGovern-Dole cooperative agreements. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program is the largest global donor to school feeding efforts. The program provides U.S. agricultural commodities, funding, and technical assistance to reduce hunger, support nutrition, and improve literacy and primary education around the world. The McGovern-Dole Program is also an integral part in advancing U.S. diplomatic interests and strengthening alliances. For Fiscal Year 2024, USDA has identified priority countries as Angola, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea­Bissau, Laos, Malawi, and Rwanda. The priority countries have demonstrated significant need, a national government commitment to school feeding programs, and shared views on global food security, agricultural sustainability, and key international initiatives. Each of the cooperative agreement projects will be approximately five years in duration. When available, the fiscal year 2024 Notice of Funding Opportunity and information on how to apply will be published on Grants.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 8, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Statistics Canada releases December 31 stocks estimates at 8 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's report on natural gas storage at 9:30 a.m. USDA's WASDE report will be out at 11 a.m. with DTN's WASDE webinar at 12:30 p.m. Weather A storm system in the Northern Plains will move into Ontario by Thursday night, dragging a cold front through the Midwest that will produce some showers and thunderstorms. Snow continues on the backside of the low across the Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies. Breezy winds will accompany the system across the Plains and Midwest. Temperatures behind the front are dropping, but are still warm for February.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 7, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Census Bureau will release the U.S. trade deficit for December at 7:30 a.m. CST Wednesday, allowing USDA to have export sales data available later Wednesday morning. The Energy Department's weekly energy inventory report follows at 9:30 a.m. Traders will continue to monitor South American weather and may be cautious ahead of Thursday's WASDE report. Weather A system is moving out of the West and into the Northern Plains on Wednesday and that will be bringing a mix of rain and snow to the Northern Plains, increasing Wednesday evening. Isolated showers and thunderstorms will develop farther south as well as some breezy conditions. Temperatures ahead of the system continue to be very warm and record-breaking in some areas of the Upper Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 7, 2024 |


Market Prices, Input Costs, Pushing Expectations Lower Farmer sentiment took a downturn at the start of 2024 as the January Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer Index fell to a reading of 106, eight points below a month earlier. Compared to year-end, producers had a more negative outlook of their farms' current situation along with a weakened outlook for the future. The Current Conditions Index fell nine points, and the Future Expectations Index dropped seven points, both compared to December. Anticipated lower farm income in 2024 significantly influenced the decline across all indices, evident in the Farm Financial Performance Index registering at 85, 12 points lower than a month earlier. The percentage of producers expecting weaker financial performance rose from 20 percent in December to 31 percent in January, while those expecting incomes to be about the same fell from 63 percent to 53 percent. The combination of high input costs and declining commodity prices generated a weaker financial performance outlook for 2024, according to the survey results. *********************************************************************************** Carbon Alliance Welcomes POET Pipeline Partnership The American Carbon Alliance welcomes last week’s partnership announcement between POET and the Summit Carbon pipeline. POET will connect its biofuel plants to the carbon pipeline, creating new agricultural markets and supporting rural communities—to capture the value of the biogenic CO2 from the bioethanol production process. American Carbon Alliance CEO Tom Buis says, “This partnership will move the carbon capture and sequestration process along, creating a positive ripple effect throughout Midwest communities, for farmers and producers, local economies, and the global economy as a whole.” The partnership strategically expands the carbon opportunity across the Midwest by incorporating POET’s 12 facilities in Iowa and five facilities in South Dakota into the Summit project. The addition will facilitate the capture, transportation, and permanent storage of 4.7 million metric tons of CO2 annually from the 17 POET bioprocessing plants. The American Carbon Alliance seeks to strengthen America's agricultural economy, ensure a future marketplace for American-produced liquid fuel, and improve the environment for all. *********************************************************************************** National Grange Voices Snake River Dam Removal Concerns The National Grange recently penned a letter to lawmakers expressing concerns over proposals to remove dams along the Snake River in Washington state. The letter alleges that dam removals would "totally disrupt an entire rural region of our country that depends upon this infrastructure for clean electrical power, agricultural irrigation, transportation, flood control, recreation, and jobs.” The National Grange believes that any plan to remove any dam in the Columbia/Snake River System must include an equitable and robust economic transition plan. The Grange is a social organization that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture, and includes more than 140,000 members. The letter follows legislation introduced last month regarding the issue by Representative Dan Newhouse, a Washington state Republican. The Defending Against Manipulative Negotiators Act would prohibit the use of federal funds from being used in breaching or altering the Lower Snake River Dams and prohibit the implementation of the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative. *********************************************************************************** NCC Highlights Chicken Industry’s Efforts to Reduce Food Waste The National Chicken Council recently outlined how chicken producers reduce food waste, recycle byproducts and utilize products that would otherwise be destined for landfills. The comments were in response to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Draft National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics. In its comments, the council emphasized several important points and areas for enhancing the National Strategy, including the use of byproducts and rendering, along with automation and transportation improvement efforts. Several current and pending regulatory policies either do or would contribute to food waste in the chicken industry, according to the organization. The first is for the FDA to allow surplus hatchery eggs into the breaking egg market, which would reduce waste and decrease costs. The second is a proposed Salmonella Framework, which is being drafted with the goal of improving food safety –– but is not based on scientific data nor is it associated with any known public health outcomes, according to NCC. *********************************************************************************** Restaurant Industry Sales Forecast to Set $1.1 Trillion Record in 2024 Restaurant sales are forecast to exceed $1.1 trillion this year, marking a new milestone for the industry that will employ over 15.7 million people in the United States by the end of 2024. The National Restaurant Association released its 2024 2024 State of the Restaurant Industry Report Tuesday. The report finds restaurant operators are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, with nearly eight in ten predicting their sales will increase or hold steady from 2023 levels. However, challenges still exist for the sector. Consumers will notice menu changes more frequently, and it's often the result of increased food costs. In the past year, operators report needing to find new suppliers, removing items from their menus, adjusting portion sizes or substituting lower cost items all in response to elevated food prices. The availability of food items also impacted menu composition, with more than three-quarters of operators saying their restaurant experienced supply delays or shortages of key food or beverage items in 2023. *********************************************************************************** Mobile App Restaurant Orders Remain Popular Following Pandemic Mobile app ordering at quick service restaurants remains popular following the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA’s Economic Research Service released data Tuesday showing consumer spending trends on carryout and delivery from quick-service restaurants by mobile application from December 2019–February 2020 through October–December 2022. In June–August 2020, carryout spending at quick-service restaurants via restaurant-specific apps doubled from pre-pandemic levels, and spending on delivery via third-party apps more than tripled. Third-party apps typically offer food from a variety of restaurants, while the restaurant or establishment operates restaurant-specific apps. App spending on carryout and delivery peaked in March–May 2021, reaching a total of $4.4 billion, with third-party app delivery and restaurant-specific app carryout spending each reaching about $1.6 billion. Most recently, total app spending on both carryout and delivery reached roughly $3.9 billion, where restaurant-specific carryout spending and third-party app delivery spending accounted for $1.6 and $1.4 billion, respectively.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 6, 2024 |


Industry Leader Northey Passes Bill Northey, a long-time agriculture industry figure, and former USDA official in the Trump administration, has died. The 64- year-old was serving as the CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa. Northey grew up on an Iowa family farm. He has served as President of the National Corn Growers Association, three terms as the Iowa Agriculture Secretary, and as USDA Farm Production and Conservation undersecretary during the Trump administration. Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, commented, “Today the Iowa farm community lost a giant. Bill Northey was a dear friend and fierce advocate for the family farmer.” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds added, “Bill understood well our responsibility to be good stewards of the land and exemplified that calling throughout his career.” Reynolds has ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff immediately and remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of Northey’s funeral and interment. *********************************************************************************** USDA Celebrates 10 Years of Climate Hubs This week marks ten years since the Department of Agriculture created regional Climate Hubs. The hubs were established to help agricultural producers and rural communities make climate-informed decisions. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, "Today, as those risks are increasingly prevalent across the nation and the globe, the need for science-based climate information and assistance is more important than ever." The Climate Hubs are an important piece of USDA's agenda to address climate change, complementing investments of $19.5 billion through the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest-ever climate investment, to help producers adopt climate-smart practices. Originally, ten regional locations were established across the United States. In May 2023, an International Climate Hub was added to share best practices, collaborate with international partners and improve the world's ability to mitigate and adapt to climate. Today, the Climate Hubs form a network of more than 120 climate researchers and communicators who work across the USDA and with partners to support climate-informed decisions. *********************************************************************************** FWS Rejects Call to List Wolves in Rocky Mountain States under ESA The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently denied a request to list wolves under the Endangered Species Act in Rocky Mountain states. After an extensive assessment, the Service announced a not warranted finding for two petitions to list gray wolves under the ESA in the Northern Rocky Mountains and the Western United States. Gray wolves are listed under the ESA as endangered in 44 states, threatened in Minnesota, and under state jurisdiction in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and portions of eastern Oregon and Washington. Based on the latest data as of the end of 2022, there were approximately 2,797 wolves distributed across at least 286 packs in seven states in the Western United States. This population size and widespread distribution contribute to the resiliency and redundancy of wolves in this region. Environmental groups are weighing options for what may be next. Erik Molvar of the Western Watersheds Project says, "It is obvious that wolves don’t have adequate regulatory mechanisms to protect them in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, where they are being targeted for extermination by state governments.” *********************************************************************************** Missouri River Runoff Below Normal The updated 2024 calendar year runoff forecast for the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, continues to be below average. January runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City was 0.4 million acre-feet, 56 percent of average. Runoff was well-below-average due to much-below-normal temperatures over the whole Missouri River Basin and below-normal precipitation over most of the upper basin. John Remus of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says, "The runoff into the reservoir system was well-below average for January," adding, "This fact in conjunction with the below-average plains and mountain snowpack indicates a below-normal runoff year for the basin.” The 2024 calendar year runoff forecast above Sioux City is 18.8-million-acre feet, 73 percent of average. To conserve water in the system, releases from Gavins Point Dam are scheduled to be 13,000 cubic feet per second this winter while still serving the needs of the municipal, industrial and powerplant water intakes along the lower river. *********************************************************************************** Digital Agriculture Research and Extension Center Launched The University of Missouri Monday announced the launch of the Digital Agriculture Research and Extension Center. The center aims to help farmers move toward a future of sustainable agriculture by leveraging digital technologies and artificial intelligence for increased productivity, sustainability and profitability. A spokesperson for the effort says, “This is the future of farming in Missouri and elsewhere, and people are looking to us as a proven academic leader in this space.” The effort was formed by a partnership between the University’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, the MU Extension service, and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. The center will explore key areas in agriculture, such as crop production, soil health, precision livestock farming, and engineering innovations through research by faculty and students and collaboration with industry partners and agencies. Adoption of any new technology takes time, and the center hopes to build trust and confidence in farmers and other stakeholders by being proactive in its education and outreach efforts. *********************************************************************************** Checkoff Partnership Introduces Hot Chocolate Milk Program in Schools A dairy checkoff partnership is putting hot chocolate milk into the hands of students during a pilot with a leading school foodservice company. National Dairy Council and Chartwells K12, which serves more than two million meals daily at 700 U.S. school districts, have launched the Hot Chocolate Milk program in 58 schools. The pilot, which will run through the end of the school year, features chocolate milk – with toppings such as cinnamon and peppermint – served hot during breakfast and lunch. Lisa Hatch, vice president of business development for NDC's school channel, said the smoothie program's success led to a "what's the next big thing?" discussion between the partners. They focused on hot chocolate, a global market valued at $3.8 billion in 2022 and expected to grow to $5.77 billion by 2030. Schools participating in the pilot program received a Hot Chocolate Milk kit. The kit includes a transport cart with branded panels, an insulated beverage dispenser, a digital thermometer and more.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 6, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders will keep an eye on South America's weather forecasts and any updates of soybean harvest or corn planting progress. There are no significant reports scheduled for Tuesday and grain traders may be a bit cautious ahead of Thursday's WASDE report. U.S. earnings season and military actions in the Middle East are two topics also getting traders' attention. Weather A major storm system continues to build in the Southwest on Tuesday, after dumping huge amounts of precipitation over California the last couple of days. East of the Rockies, it is quiet and very warm in anticipation of the coming storm that will move through with several impulses starting Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 5, 2024 |


CattleFax Forecasts Profitability, Herd Expansion Ahead The CattleFax Outlook Seminar at the 2024 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Florida shared expert market and weather analytics last week. The smallest beef cow inventory in the last 50 years, coupled with historically strong demand, led to the highest average fed cattle and calf prices in 2023. As reduced cattle numbers and beef production continue over the next three years, leverage and profitability will continue to favor cattle producers. Despite record prices, an expansion will likely be delayed once again. Lingering drought, high input costs, limited labor availability, high interest rates, and market uncertainty all serve as headwinds against growing the cow herd. Cow and bull slaughter is forecast to be 6.5 million head in 2024, down around 800,000 head from 2023. “Though cattle inventories may stay elevated for a few months, they are expected to decline significantly through the second half of 2024,” says Kevin Good of CattleFax. *********************************************************************************** USDA Rule Amends Certain FMMOs The USDA published a final rule that amends the transportation credit balancing fund provisions in the Appalachian and Southeast Federal Milk Marketing Orders. It also establishes distributing plant delivery credits in the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast FMMOs. The final rule is a result of a hearing held February 28-March 2, 2023, in Tennessee. The hearing highlighted a long-standing milk deficit problem in the three southeastern orders and its impact on producers, cooperatives, and handlers serving the markets. The final rule implements a number of proposals to address this chronic issue and makes minor clarifying changes to the provisions based on public comments received. Among some of the changes, the rule updates the components of the mileage rate calculation and increases the maximum assessment rates on Class I Milk. The amendments will be effective for milk marketed on or after March 1, 2024. The final rule was published on February 1, 2024. *********************************************************************************** Soy Exports Add Billions to the U.S. Economy America’s soy complex exports added $39.8 billion to the U.S. economy in marketing year 2022-2023 on a volume of 67.6 million metric tons. The shining star was U.S. soybean meal exports broke records for both volume and value at 13.2 million metric tons and $6.91 billion, respectively. “America’s soy exports in marketing year 2022-2023 were nothing short of extraordinary,” says United Soybean Board Chair Steven Reinhard. “A standout achievement was the record-breaking performance of soybean meal exports, reaching unprecedented volume and value levels.” Increased demand from both Colombia and Ecuador boosted U.S. soybean meal exports by 15 percent and 36 percent, respectively, above their five-year averages. Meanwhile, increased volume and higher prices saw U.S. soybean meal exports increase in value by 39 percent over the last five years. Despite persistent global challenges to international businesses, U.S. whole soybean exports hit 54.2 MMT and kept pace with the previous five-year average. *********************************************************************************** Soybean Crush Rises But Short of Predictions USDA data shows the U.S. soybean crush rose month-to-month but missed expectations. Processors crushed 204 million bushels of soybeans in December, up from 200 million a month earlier. The agency’s report says that’s up from the 187 million bushels processed in December 2022 but is still down from the 206 million forecast before the report went public. Crude oil produced from the crush rose to 2.38 billion pounds, up two percent from November and eight percent from the same month a year earlier. Iowa was by far the biggest crusher of soybeans at approximately 49.3 million bushels, with Illinois second at 25.4 million bushels. The states combined for 37 percent of the soybeans crushed in the U.S. during December. About 51.4 million bushels were crushed in the north and east region, which includes Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Processors in the north-central region crushed 37 million bushels of soybeans. *********************************************************************************** America’s Biggest Landowners The Land Report Research Team issued a report detailing who are America’s largest landowners. The “Land Report 100” shows that as of 2021, America’s largest landowner is named Red Emmerson. He and his family own just over 2.4 million acres in California, Oregon, and Washington through their timber products company, Sierra Pacific Industries. They surpassed Liberty Media Chairman John Malone’s 2.2 million acres. CNN founder Ted Turner is America’s third biggest landowner with two million acres in the Southeast, Great Plains, and across the West. The Lane Report 100 research team analyzes transactions and scours records to determine who are America’s leading landowners. That’s how they broke the news in 2020 that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was America’s largest farmland owner with more than 260,000 acres. They used the same methodology to identify the founder of the Shanda Investment Group as the owner of almost 200,000 acres of Oregon timberland this year. *********************************************************************************** Lamb Lovers Month is Back The American Lamb Board kicked off Lamb Lover’s Month in February with an exciting campaign titled “Show Us Your Chops.” It invites consumers to enjoy savory lamb chops at their favorite restaurants or cook their favorite recipes at home. The promotion features rack and loin chop recipes to help consumers create a romantic date night or a special dinner with friends or family featuring delicious American lamb. Consumers are invited to share their photos of their lamb chops at a restaurant or at home on the ALB consumer website or social media with the hashtag #showusyourchops. The contest will be promoted through social media advertising and sponsored blogger content throughout February. “While Lamb Lovers Month has become a tradition for ALB, it’s also a very effective promotion for reaching new consumers with recipes and information about American lamb to expand usage beyond the traditional holidays,” says Jeff Ebert, ALB chairman.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 5, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - WASDE, NASDA and Other Acronyms 1. WASDE Thursday: USDA's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and Crop Production reports are due out at 11 a.m. Our preview of the report will hit Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the release of analyst estimates. On Thursday we will have WASDE numbers immediately after the reports are released, followed by updates with commentary and market reactions throughout the morning 2. Warmth hangs in: The unseasonably warm weather will continue to eat away at the snowpack in the Midwest through this week. Temperatures will be well-above normal east of the Rockies and cooler in the West through next weekend. Another storm will move out of the West and into the Plains during the middle of the week with another loading up in the Southwest for late week and weekend. Models differ on the development and impact of these two storms, so stay tuned through the week. Y 3. State ag conversations: We'll cover the annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, happening in Washington, D.C. This meeting has become the place where potential ag policies come to gather steam. The farm bill, labor and immigration issues and food safety are all on the agenda. 4. Eyes on South America: It's become a bit repetitive, but with grains markets softening we continue to watch how the South American crops are developing. Updates on that will possibly supersede the WASDE numbers in terms of market influence. 5. Economic reports to watch: Monday, the S & P Services PMI report is at 8:45 a.m. Weekly grain inspections are out at 10 a.m.; at 2 p.m. the Dairy Products report hits. On Wednesday we'll watch for U.S. trade deficit numbers at 7:30 a.m., while at 10 a.m. the EAI's weekly petroleum reports are out, including ethanol and gasoline statistics. At 2 p.m. both the Consumer Credit report and broiler hatchery reports are released. On Thursday, both the U.S. export sales report and Initial Jobless Claims will be out at 7:30 a.m. Wholesale Inventories reports are at 9 a.m., the weekly Economic Index will be out at 10:30 a.m., and of course the February WASDE hits at 11 a.m. Friday sees with the CPI seasonal factor revisions report out at 7:30 a.m.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 5, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will pay close attention to South American weather and news from the Middle East. USDA's weekly export inspections is set for 10 a.m. CST Monday. Traders will also look forward to USDA's next WASDE report, due out Thursday at 11 a.m. Weather A storm system from the weekend continues to spin around Florida, but areas east of the Rockies will be quiet on Monday. All the action is out in the West where another storm system is pushing through the region. Eventually, that storm will move through the country this week with multiple rounds of precipitation. It continues to be very warm ahead of these storms.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 2, 2024 |


New Poll Suggests Ag Economic Downturn A new poll of agricultural economists by Farm Journal shows most expect lower commodity prices, along with the outlook for higher costs, to weigh on the agriculture industry in 2024. Farm Journal has partnered with the University of Missouri to create the Ag Economists' Monthly Monitor. University of Missouri agricultural economist Scott Brown says, “If we continue down the path that we started with the January estimates, perhaps we're telling 2024 to be a less positive story than we would have just a few months ago.” Ag economists' forecast for prices of all crops and livestock shifted lower compared to the December survey, signaling net farm income could also fall more than originally anticipated. The January survey found economists' views on net farm income also took a turn, with the survey average falling to $135 billion for 2024. However, ag economists think relatively strong balance sheets and working capital could provide a cushion for 2024 with no major concerns about immediate farm solvency issues. *********************************************************************************** USDA Report Shows Cattle Inventory Declines USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service this week released the Cattle report showing a two percent decline in U.S. cattle inventory. The report shows 87.2 million head of cattle and calves on U.S. farms as of January 1, 2024. Of the 87.2 million head inventory, all cows and heifers that have calved totaled 37.6 million. There are 28.2 million beef cows in the United States, down two percent from last year. The number of milk cows in the United States decreased slightly to 9.36 million. The U.S. calf crop was estimated at 33.6 million head, down two percent from 2022. All cattle on feed were at 14.4 million head, up two percent from 2023. To obtain an accurate measurement of the current state of the U.S. cattle industry, NASS surveyed approximately 36,300 operators across the nation during the first half of January. Surveyed producers were asked to report their cattle inventories as of January 1, 2024, and calf crop for the entire year of 2023. *********************************************************************************** January 1 Sheep and Lambs Inventory Down 2% USDA’s Sheep and Goat’s report released this week shows all sheep and lambs inventory in the United States on January 1, 2024 totaled 5.03 million head, down two percent from last year. Breeding sheep inventory at 3.67 million head on January 1, 2024, decreased two percent from 3.74 million head in 2023. Ewes one-year-old and older, at 2.87 million head, were two percent below last year. Market sheep and lambs totaled 1.36 million head, down two percent, and market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Market sheep comprised the remaining six percent of the total market inventory. The 2023 lamb crop of 3.03 million head was down two percent from 2022, and the 2023 lambing rate was 103 lambs per 100 ewes one-year-old and older on January 1, 2023, down two percent from 2022. All goats and kids inventory in the United States on January 1, 2024, totaled 2.47 million head, down two percent from 2023. *********************************************************************************** USDA Resource to Help Poultry Contracting and Tournaments Compliance USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has posted a set of Frequently Asked Questions on its website to provide a resource to assist stakeholders in complying with the Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments Final Rule by February 12, 2024. The FAQ is posted on the Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments webpage. USDA published the final rule in the Federal Register November 28, 2023. The final rule, published under the Packers & Stockyards Act, requires Live Poultry Dealers – typically large processing companies – to provide poultry growers with whom they contract to raise birds key information about terms of their agreements. The final rule also requires additional disclosures by those engaged in the production of broilers who use poultry grower ranking systems to determine settlement payments for broiler growers. More information about the final rule is available on the Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments webpage. *********************************************************************************** AVMA Plans Annual Legislative Fly-in Veterinarians will visit Capitol Hill next Tuesday to discuss legislative priorities with lawmakers. As part of the American Veterinary Medical Association's annual legislative fly-in, advocates will urge congressional offices to support and cosponsor the Rural Veterinary Workforce Act. AVMA President Dr. Rena Carlson says, "We need to do more to attract and retain veterinarians in rural and underserved areas, and the Rural Veterinary Workforce Act will go a long way to address those needs," The AVMA-endorsed Rural Veterinary Workforce Act would end federal taxation on the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. This action would enable more veterinarians to participate in a program that offers up to $25,000 a year for student loan repayment in exchange for service in Department of Agriculture-designated Veterinarian Shortage Situations. AVMA is also seeking support for the Healthy Dog Importation Act within the next Farm Bill, which the group says would decrease the chances of future disease outbreaks from imported dogs. *********************************************************************************** TSCRA Launches Foundation to Support Land and Livestock Stewards Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, the oldest and largest livestock association in the Southwest, Thursday announced the TSCRA Leadership Development Foundation. The foundation is a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to develop future land and livestock stewards and leaders. The TSCRA Leadership Development Foundation will support high school and college programs, internships, young professional development opportunities and grant programs. TSCRA President and Foundation Chairman Arthur Uhl says, “Developing and supporting future land and livestock stewards and leaders is critical to our nation’s future.” Uhl adds, “We must develop and equip a diverse base of future leaders to address modern challenges within the industry and ensure ranching, wildlife management, and land stewardship thrives and continues to benefit and provide for our communities.” Anyone wishing to support the TSCRA Leadership Development Foundation is encouraged to visit tscra.org/ to make a tax-deductible donation. TSCRA has more than 28,000 individuals and businesses as members that contribute to beef production and stewardship of natural resources throughout the Southwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 2, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets U.S. nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate for January will be released at 7:30 a.m. CST Friday. U.S. factory orders for December and the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for January follow at 9 a.m. Traders will continue to keep watch over South American weather and events in the Middle East as the U.S. is expected to retaliate against pro-Iranian targets. Weather Warm temperatures continue to be in place across most of the country and clouds in western Pennsylvania mean an end to winter from our favorite rodent meteorologist. Still, a strong storm in the West will move into the Southern Plains later Friday, producing areas of showers and thunderstorms. The precipitation from this storm will spread through much of the country outside of the Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 1, 2024 |


NCBA Releases 2024 Policy Priorities The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Executive Committee approved the organization’s policy priorities at the 2024 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. This year’s priorities focus on advocating for the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, protecting cattle producers from federal regulatory overreach, and defending the U.S. cattle industry against external attacks. NCBA President-Elect Mark Eisele says, "NCBA will continue pushing for passage of a Farm Bill that includes key animal health and voluntary conservation provisions, as well as hold the line against all federal policies that could damage the livelihoods of U.S. cattle producers." Other priorities include the fight against misguided Endangered Species Act rules and any expansion of bureaucratic red tape under the National Environmental Policy Act. Additionally, NCBA wants to preserve family farms and ranches for future generations by advocating for essential tax relief for cattle producers. Learn more and find the full list of 2024 policy priorities at ncba.org. *********************************************************************************** Trade Caucus Presents Opportunities for Agriculture Lawmakers in the House of Representative’s Wednesday launched a new Agricultural Trade Caucus. The effort seeks to advance and promote policies vital to U.S. agriculture, including boosting agricultural exports, facilitating food and agriculture trade, and knocking down unnecessary trade barriers. The caucus includes Republicans Adrain Smith of Nebraska, Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, and California Democrats Jim Costa and Jimmy Pennetta. In the announcement, Penetta says, “Congress needs to be more active in promoting trade agreements that will keep American producers competitive and empower them to feed the world.” The new caucus will work to solidify support for trade policies that benefit farmers, ranchers, producers, rural communities, and all those along our food and agricultural supply chains. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall responded, “AFBF appreciates House lawmakers for coming together in a bipartisan manner to form an agriculture trade caucus,” adding, “We have a real opportunity to showcase American agriculture on the global stage.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Releases 2022 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary The Department of Agriculture this week published the 2022 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary. The summary shows that over 99 percent of the samples tested had pesticide residues below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency. The tests were conducted on 10,665 samples from 23 commodities, including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy, nuts, and grains. The summary is a national pesticide residue monitoring program that tests various domestic and imported foods, with a strong focus on foods consumed by infants and children. USDA and EPA work together each year to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis, and USDA partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide residue levels on the selected food commodities. EPA relies on the data to conduct dietary risk assessments and to ensure that any pesticide residues in foods remain at or below levels that EPA has set. *********************************************************************************** LFP Payments Concentrated in Western and Central US A new analysis from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows Livestock Forage Disaster Program are concentrated in the Western and Central United States. USDA found that between 2008 and 2022, the program disbursed more than $12 billion of payments to livestock producers. Counties with the largest aggregate payments per 1,000 head of livestock are concentrated primarily in the Western, Southern, and Central United States, where drought conditions are generally more severe and common. About 20 percent of counties in the continental United States received no LFP payments between 2008 and 2022. These counties are primarily located in urban regions and the relatively more humid Eastern United States. USDA provides payments to livestock producers whose pastures and rangeland are impacted by drought through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. The program was established by the 2008 Farm Bill and uses eligibility criteria based on county-level drought conditions reported by the U.S. Drought Monitor. *********************************************************************************** Foremost Farms Joins Vanguard Renewables Strategic Alliance Vanguard Renewables announced the addition of Foremost Farms USA to the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance this week. The strategic partnership marks a significant milestone in pursuing sustainable organic waste reduction and renewable energy generation within the dairy industry, according to Vanguard Renewables CEO Neil Smith. Speaking of Foremost Farms, Smith says, "Their members' commitment to sustainable farming practices is helping to create a more sustainable future for the dairy industry, and their desire to work with and learn from like-minded organizations to explore solutions for food waste aligns with our mission." By joining the alliance, Foremost Farms aims to further strengthen its dedication to sustainable practices and support generational dairy farmers across America. The Farm Powered Strategic Alliance is described as a collaborative initiative focused on driving systemic change, dedicated to promoting sustainable organic waste reduction. Vanguard Renewables partners with food and beverage manufacturers to recycle their inedible food waste via Farm Powered anaerobic digestion, which converts organic waste into renewable natural gas. *********************************************************************************** Americans to Eat 1.45 Billion Chicken Wings for the Big Game With the second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving upon us, there’s no hotter time for chicken wings. According to the National Chicken Council’s 2024 Wing Report, Americans will devour 1.45 billion wings while watching Kansas City and San Francisco battle for the championship trophy. National Chicken Council spokesperson Tom Super says, “Sure, you can have your chips, your guacamole, your pizza. But when it comes to menus next Sunday, wings rule the roost.” This year’s projection is flat compared to 2023, with USDA reporting chicken production levels are slightly down from last year and wing stocks in cold storage down 13 percent in November compared to the year prior. This could explain the higher demand and, thus, the higher wholesale prices we see on wings. At the retail level, fresh chicken wing prices are down approximately five percent, and frozen wing prices are down 11 percent compared to January 2023.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 1, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due at 7:30 a.m. CST, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, U.S. fourth-quarter productivity and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The ISM index of U.S. manufacturing is at 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's report on natural gas storage at 9:30 a.m. NASS's Fats and Oils report is set for 2 p.m. Weather A major winter storm continues to push into California and spread through the western states on Thursday, a significant feature to watch as it moves into the Plains for Friday. But areas east of the Rockies continue to be overall warm and quiet ahead of the storm.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 31, 2024 |


POET and Summit Announce Partnership POET Ethanol and Summit Carbon Solutions announced a partnership connecting the world’s largest biofuel producer with the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project. The collaboration will capture the value of biogenic CO2 from the bioethanol production process. The partnership strategically expands the carbon opportunity across the Midwest by incorporating POET’s 12 Iowa facilities and five South Dakota facilities into the Summit project. “As the world seeks low-carbon energy solutions, carbon capture ensures that ag-based biofuels will remain competitive for decades,” says POET CEO Jeff Broin. “This is a tremendous opportunity to bring value to farmers, bioethanol producers, and rural communities in participating states.” Broin also believes this collaboration will unleash even more opportunities for ag and bioprocessing in the future. “This initiative is aimed at enhancing the financial profitability of our farmers and ensuring a more prosperous future for rural communities,” says Lee Blank, CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions. *********************************************************************************** New California Biofuels Plant Impacts Soybean Market The increasing use of biofuels should generate bullish vibes for agricultural commodities in the future. E-T-F Trends says plans for a biofuel plant in California could spur more investors to take a closer look at agricultural commodities. California has one of the more ambitious plans when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. Given this, the use of a biofuel plant could spur other states to follow suit. In turn, that would increase demand for agricultural commodities like soybeans and corn. A Bloomberg report confirmed that soybean oil prices in Chicago rose amid speculation that the new biofuels plant in California got the green light to begin operations in a few weeks. The plant is a former crude oil refinery that will use waste oils, fats, greases, and vegetable oils to produce an initial 800 million gallons of renewable fuels a year, including renewable diesel, renewable gasoline, and sustainable aviation fuel. *********************************************************************************** 100 Billion Miles on E15 Growth Energy released data showing American drivers recently surpassed the massive milestone of 100 billion miles driven on affordable, homegrown E15 fuel. The 15 percent biofuel blend saves drivers an average of 15 cents a gallon at the pump. In some states, amid higher fuel costs last summer, drivers saw E15 savings climb as high as 60 cents per gallon. “At Growth Energy, we’re proud to lead the charge on American-made, plant-based fuels,” says CEO Emily Skor. “Homegrown biofuels deliver value for consumers at the pump, value for American agriculture and rural communities, and value for our nation’s climate goals.” She also says they’re proud of the 100 billion miles driven on E15 and excited that consumers have access to an affordable, Earth-friendly option to fuel their travels. “There aren’t many products on the market today that allow consumers to save money and lower carbon emissions like E15,” Skor adds. *********************************************************************************** Producers Can Make USDA Loan Payments Online The USDA says most farm loan borrowers will be able to make loan payments online through the Pay My Loan feature on farmers.gov in early February. Pay My Loan is part of a broader effort by the Farm Service Agency to streamline its processes, especially for producers who may have limited time during the planting or harvest seasons to visit a local FSA office. “Farmers and ranchers have responded to some difficult challenges over the last few years, and their time is a precious commodity,” says USDA Deputy Undersecretary Xochitl (so-CHEEL) Torres Small. “Having the option to conduct business online is essential, and the Pay My Loan feature allows customers to take care of business seamlessly.” On average, local USDA centers process more than 225,000 farm loan payments each year. Pay My Loan gives most borrowers an online repayment option and relieves them from traveling to a local Service Center. *********************************************************************************** December Soy Crush Continues Streak The U.S. soybean crush likely hit 6.185 million short tons in December 2023, or 296.1 million bushels, the most for any month in recorded history. Analysts surveyed ahead of the monthly USDA report noted it would be the third straight month that the national soybean crush topped 200 million bushels as the expanding U.S. soy processing industry has been crushing larger and larger numbers of beans to meet the rising demand for vegetable oil from biofuel makers. If that December estimate gets realized, it would be up from the 200.1 million bushels crushed in November and up 10 percent from the December 2022 crush of 187.4 million bushels. But Successful Farming says last month’s estimated average daily crush rate of 6.649 million bushels would be down from a record daily pace of 6.669 million set in November, which has one less day. Crush estimates range from 203.8 million to 207 million bushels. *********************************************************************************** Soybeans and Wheat Export Inspections Decline Soybean and wheat inspections for exports declined in the week ending on January 25, while the corn total improved. USDA data says soybean inspections last week reached 889,717 metric tons, down from 1.18 million a week earlier. That’s also down from the 1.93 million tons examined during the same week last year. Wheat assessments came in at 264,666 tons, down from 315,186 tons the prior week, and well below the 446,000 tons inspected during the same period last year. Corn inspections rose to almost 902,000 tons from 746,900 the week before and 545,000 tons at the same time in 2023. Since the start of the marketing year, USDA has inspected 15.6 million metric tons of corn for export, up from 12.1 million last year. Soybean inspections now stand at 27.7 million tons, down from 36.2 million last year. Wheat inspections are at 11 million tons, down from 13.2 million last year.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 31, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The Labor Department's employment cost index for the fourth quarter is set for 8:30 a.m. CST. The Energy Department's weekly energy inventory report is at 9:30 a.m. The Federal Reserve's rate announcement is at 1 p.m. and is expected to keep rates unchanged, but traders will be listening to any Fed comments. USDA's report of U.S. January 1 cattle inventory at 2 p.m. will get more attention than usual with a chance inventory will fall below the 2014 low of 88.5 million head, possibly the lowest number of U.S. cattle since 1952. Weather A large trough and atmospheric river event is starting to move onto the West Coast Wednesday morning. The event will be a big one that causes a storm system for Friday through the weekend farther east. Until then, it continues to be quiet and warm for much of the country with some places breaking record highs.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 30, 2024 |


Strengthening U.S. Specialty Crops Through Investments Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA investments designed to support the U.S. specialty crops industry. The launch of the Assisting Specialty Crop Exports Initiative will provide $65 million for projects that will help the specialty crop sector increase global exports and expand access to new markets. USDA also announced $72.9 million in grant funding available to support the specialty crops industry through the Specialty Crop Grant Program. The program will fund innovative projects designed to bolster the competitiveness of the expanding specialty crops sector. Specialty crop exports totaled $24.6 billion in fiscal year 2023 and represented 13.8 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports. “Specialty crop producers feed our nation and the world with nutritious fruits, nuts, and vegetables, and they supply our communities with horticulture products,” Vilsack says. “Yet they have unique challenges and opportunities to competing in the domestic market and several barriers preventing their products from entering foreign markets.” *********************************************************************************** Hawaii Producers Hit Hard by Wildfires and High Winds The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates that Hawaiian producers incurred $23.1 million in economic loss and damages from wildfires and high winds in August 2023. Those losses include the reduction of agricultural sales due to damages to markets or reduced customers, reduced agritourism income between August and December, livestock deaths, damaged or destroyed crops, and property damages. Producers estimate they lost $5.2 million in sales revenue, lost $3.9 million in agritourism revenue, lost $75,000 worth of livestock, suffered $5.4 million in crop damages, and $8.5 million in property damage. Producers reported that 7,850 acres of pasture were damaged by the wildfires and high winds. Livestock deaths included cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, honeybee colonies, horses, and alpacas. Producers reported damage to floriculture and vegetable crops, some bananas, coffee, and other fruit crops. The $8.5 million in property damage included buildings, vehicles, irrigation equipment, farm machinery, fences, and other structures like water tanks. *********************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Backs American Sugar Producers As part of the policy resolutions set during their recent national convention, the American Farm Bureau continued support for a no-cost sugar policy. “We appreciate Farm Bureau’s continued support of our no-cost policy,” says Cassie Bladow (BLAY-dough), chairwoman of the American Sugar Alliance. “We appreciate having AFBF as a strong partner as we advocate for America’s sugar producers in the next farm bill.” Farm Bureau’s policy resolution advocates for a program that safeguards the interests of domestic sugar producers and supports critical pillars in the sugar policy, including a program to protect the interests of domestic sugar producers. They’re also in favor of legislation that includes provisions that ensure a strong and economically viable domestic sugar policy. They also support a program that meets our trade commitments and ensures a fair playing field for American producers. As the largest farm group, AFBF has consistently supported sugar policy in the farm bill. *********************************************************************************** Biomass Diesel Production Grew 25 Percent Last Year Clean Fuels Alliance welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency’s release of public data for the Renewable Fuel Standard. That data shows U.S. production of biomass-based diesel - including biodiesel, renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel, and heating oil – reached four billion gallons in 2023. Both domestic production and use of advanced biomass-based diesel grew by one billion gallons in 2023 compared to the prior year. “The clean fuels industry achieved what EPA said couldn’t be done by contributing to the growth of advanced biodiesel, renewable diesel, SAF, and heating oil from sustainably sourced feedstocks,” says Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs for Clean Fuels. “Our industry, including producers, oilseed processors, fuel distributors, and marketers, has made significant investments to make clean fuels available to more consumers and rapidly decarbonize heavy-duty transportation fuels, including for aviation and marine markets.” He also says that EPA’s data demonstrates the projected sustainable growth is being achieved. *********************************************************************************** Growing Future Leaders on GIVE FFA Day Interested people are invited to support the FFA and agricultural education through Give FFA Day on Thursday, February 22. For the eighth straight year, funds raised support programs on local, state, and national levels. During the 24 hours of giving, supporters can donate to the National FFA and the state FFA associations of their choice. In February, the organization will celebrate FFA, advisors, and members as part of National FFA Week, which includes giving back during Give FFA Day. For over 90 years, the National FFA Organization has strived to make a difference in students’ lives. Donations help FFA grow the next generation of leaders. Through FFA, members can find their path to success. With almost a million members, there is a need for sustained funding to provide valuable programs, events, skills training, and more. “FFA has been instrumental in growing my skills,” says Lauren Thornhill, an Ohio state FFA officer. *********************************************************************************** Don’t Fumble Your Super Bowl Party Safely serving friends and family during the big game is a win. The USDA says don’t fumble Super Bowl Sunday on February 11. As football fans gather to watch the big game, they’ll enjoy many of their favorite foods. Whether you order delivery or are preparing and serving food to guests, the Food Safety and Inspection Service has some gameday plans to keep your Super Bowl celebration from getting intercepted by foodborne illness. Among their many food safety tips, FSIS says if you order takeout before the game, make sure someone is there to get to the food in a timely manner. Make sure to get any uneaten food into the refrigerator as quickly as possible. Perishable foods that have been sitting out at room temperature must be eaten within two hours of being cooked. “Food safety must remain a top priority,” says USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety Dr. Emilio Esteban.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 30, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders remain interested in South American weather with hot temperatures expected to stress Argentina's corn and soybean crops this week. A report on U.S. consumer confidence will be out at 9 a.m. and a two-day Federal Reserve meeting begins. The federal funds rate target is expected to remain unchanged at Wednesday's 1 p.m. announcement. Weather A small clipper system is moving through the eastern half of the Midwest with a band of mixed rain and snow on Tuesday that will get into the Southeast Tuesday night into Wednesday. Mostly light accumulations are expected outside of the higher elevations. It continues to be quite warm as the country awaits the arrival of a large trough in the West by Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 29, 2024 |


Food Price Inflation Subsided in 2023 USDA’s Economic Research Service says food-at-home prices increased by five percent in 2023, much lower than the growth rate in 2022 of 11 percent. However, that was still double the historical annual average growth rate from 2003 to 2022, which was 2.5 percent. All product categories grew more slowly in 2023 than they did compared to 2022. Food price growth slowed last year as economy-wide inflationary pressures, supply chain issues, and wholesale food prices eased from 2022. In 2023, prices for fats and oils grew the fastest at nine percent. Sugars and sweets are 8.7 percent, and cereals and bakery products rose 8.4 percent. Pork prices dropped 1.2 percent in 2023l. Prices for several categories grew more slowly than their historical averages, including beef and veal at 3.6 percent, eggs 1.4 percent, fresh vegetables at less than one percent. Fresh fruits and seafood grew 0.7 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. ********************************************************************************** Shielding Agriculture from Cyber Attacks Two senators introduced legislation intended to boost the agricultural industry’s resilience against cyber attacks. The bipartisan measure from Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is backed by a number of agricultural groups. If passed, the bill would shield America’s supply chain from technological attacks. “America’s adversaries are looking for any advantage they can use against us, including targeting critical industries like agriculture,” Cotton says. The bill would require the USDA to conduct a twice-yearly study on cybersecurity threats to the agriculture industry. Courthouse News Service says the review would include analyzing existing threats, the potential impacts of a cyberattack on the safety and availability of food products, and the government’s ability to respond to an attack. USDA would also have to conduct an interagency “cross-sector crisis simulation exercise that mocks up a food-related national emergency. These exercises would help identify gaps in the government’s readiness to respond to such emergencies. *********************************************************************************** USDA Deputy Secretary Touring Land-Grant Universities USDA’s Deputy Secretary Xochitl (so-CHEEL) Torres Small is continuing a multi-week tour throughout the country’s land-grant universities. During her tour, the Deputy is visiting campuses in at least seven states to highlight how the agency is working with those universities to advance rural prosperity, climate-smart practices, competition, and sustainability. USDA is investing new funding for education and training, advancing cutting edge research, and bolstering economic development to build a food and agriculture food system that’s climate-smart, sustainable, and equitable. “Investments in the next generation of agriculture will benefit people in every sector of ag, food, and forestry,” says Torres Small. “At USDA, we’re committed to the future of our students and delivering real-life, applicable solutions to decades old problems like bringing broadband internet to communities around the country.” USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture has provided more than $5 billion in support of land-grant university campuses since fiscal year 2021. *********************************************************************************** Britain Pauses Trade Talks Over Agriculture Britain has halted negotiations on a potential free trade deal with Canada because of dissatisfaction by both sides over a lack of access to each other’s agricultural markets. Reuters says the talks first launched in March 2022. Canadian negotiators say they’re disappointed that the UK put a pause on the negotiations, noting that Britain’s decision to keep barriers up for Canada’s agricultural market access is what’s stalling the negotiations. Canada’s farmers are complaining that they’ve been all but shut out of Britain’s beef market because of regulations banning the use of artificial hormones. A UK spokesperson posted on Twitter (X) that they reserve the right to call a pause on negotiations with any country if we don’t think progress is getting made. Before Britain made its exit from the European Union trading sphere at the end of 2020, Canada rolled over existing trade arrangements to ensure that free trade could continue. *********************************************************************************** CA Ranchers Watching Wolves Attack Cattle Herds Ranchers in California who see wolves attacking their cattle can only watch, unlike other states where wolves can be shot for it. Meantime, a California state fund set aside to compensate ranchers for their losses is quickly running out of money. “Not only can you not kill a wolf for attacking and killing one of your calves, but you also can’t injure it in any way,” says Kirk Wilbur, vice president of government affairs for the California Cattlemen’s Association. Cowboy State Daily says that’s the opposite of the policy in Wyoming, where wolves can be shot at any time. Ten years ago, Wolves began making their way from Oregon into California, and the northern part of the state now has over 40 established wolf packs. California put a $3 million compensation package in place during 2021, but it’s now running low on money. The current 102 applications will deplete the remaining funds. *********************************************************************************** Lamb Board Releases 2023 Annual Report The American Lamb Board released its fiscal year 2023 Annual Report to share programs and success stories with mandatory lamb checkoff stakeholders over the last year. The American lamb industry saw many successes during 2023, including an overall increase in demand for lamb nationwide. However, it comes at a critical point when U.S. flock numbers are declining. Many ALB programs focus on increasing demand for American lamb, but industry education and research are also at the forefront of the board’s work. Among the 2023 highlights in the report is a Sustainability Spotlight, where growers can find information about the Climate Smart Grant, a new Sustainability Director, a landmark environmental footprint study, and much more. There are promotional highlights featuring a growing food blogger network, cooking classes, events, and retail promotions. Looking ahead to the rest of 2024, the board is working on new industry workshops, promotions, educational opportunities, and research projects.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 29, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Cattle Chats and Flooded Flats 1. Cattle convenings: This week marks the 2024 cattle industry CattleCon in Orlando. Watch for event news from DTN Senior Livestock Editor Jennifer Carrico. If you're in town and see her, buy her a cup of coffee for us. She's earning it. 2. From freeze to flood: Weather is expected to continue to warm up across the country this week. That sets up flooding conditions in areas where heavy snow melt occurs where creeks and rivers are still ice covered. There are already weekend flood warnings in areas of Illinois, others may be added into the week. 3. Immigration breakdown: Attend any ag-related meeting and the subject of farm labor shortages and immigration issues are likely on the agenda. With late-week rumblings of presidential politics throwing roadblocks in pending immigration legislation, we'll watch through the week to see if any significant policies bust through. 4. Market happenings: In the grains, attention will be on rains in Argentina and parts of Brazil, as solid yield potential in the Southern Hemisphere pulls down on soybean futures charts. 5. Economic reports to watch: First ag-related report of the week is Monday's 10 a.m. release of U.S. Grain Inspections. Tuesday starts with the 8 a.m. filing of the Case and Shiller Home Price Index. At 9 a.m. the lates Job Openings and Consumer Confidence Index numbers hit. Wednesday, ADP releases its latest employment figures at 7:15 a.m.; at 1 p.m. we'll get the Federal Reserve Interest rate decision. At 2 p.m. there are several releases, including the Broiler Hatchery report and the Bi-Annual Cattle Report, which will show inventory and value of cattle and calves. Also included are statistics on cattle on feed and grazing on small grain pasture, as well as calf crop data. Thursday starts with a 7:30 a.m. release of Initial Jobless Claims and the U.S. Grain Weekly Export Sales report. At 8:45 a.m. the U.S. Manufacturing PMI will be released. The week closes with Friday's 7:30 a.m. release of U.S. Nonfarm payroll data, U.S. Unemployment Rate and U.S. Hourly Wages. At 9 a.m. Factory Orders reports will be released.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 29, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts in South America and events in the Middle East. USDA's weekly report of export inspections at 10 a.m. is the only significant report of the day. Weather It's a rather quiet day Monday as a ridge dominates the majority of the continent. Some showers will drop down into the Great Lakes areas tonight into Tuesday with a small disturbance. The ridge will also mean warm temperatures again, with the highest anomalies across the far north into Canada.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 26, 2024 |


Cold Blast Drops Ethanol Production to Three-Year Low A blast of cold weather in the Corn Belt sent ethanol production down 22 percent last week to its lowest point in three years. Bloomberg says America’s output of the corn-based biofuel missed all its survey estimates while stockpiles hit the highest level since March. The Energy Information Administration says the rise in stockpiles was the eighth straight week of increases. Ethanol production dropped to 18,000 barrels a day during the week ending on January 19, down from 1.054 million barrels during the previous week and the lowest level since the seven days ending on February 19, 2021. The Midwest, which produces the most ethanol in the country, had production fall to 766,000 barrels a day, a significant drop from 1.001 million a week earlier. The EIA says Rocky Mountain production declined, East Coast production was unchanged, and Gulf Coast production rose by 21,000 barrels a day. Inventories reached 25.815 million barrels. *********************************************************************************** Animal ID That Works for All Producers The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association reiterates its call to strengthen and establish a national animal identification system that works for and is accountable to all producers. There should be no private control of data or access to the data without the prior approval of the listed owner of the cattle at the time of application for the ID tags. All official USDA tag information should be held in state animal health databases and shared with federal health officials only as needed. USCA also insists that under no circumstances should a national cattlemen’s association coordinate or control producer data. Producers should also never be responsible for more than the cost of the tags. “USCA supports a voluntary national animal identification program and opposes establishing a national mandate,” says USCA President Justin Tupper. “Our members believe that each individual producer knows what’s best for their herd as it relates to animal husbandry practices.” *********************************************************************************** Ongoing Preparations for the 57th World Ag Expo The “Best Farm Show on Dirt” is coming up quickly. The International Agri-Center is preparing to host the 57th annual World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, February 13-15. The World Ag Expo welcomes attendees and exhibitors from around the world and provides a platform for networking, education, and business. Last year, the show saw more than 108,000 attendees from 49 states and 56 countries. Over 1,200 exhibitors shared 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space in 2023. Show officials note that 97 percent of exhibit spaces were sold as of January 19 and domestic and international ticket sales are trending at record levels. “There is so much innovation to see on the show grounds,” says Stan Creelman, 2024 World Ag Expo Show Chair, “from large manufacturers to small innovators and every solution in between.” Organizers predict 2024 may be a record year for the show. For more information, go to worldagexpo.org. *********************************************************************************** New Rule Will Increase Efficiency in Rail Systems The Surface Transportation Board announced it has adopted a final rule to amend its emergency service regulations to provide immediate relief for shippers in certain situations. The rule says the Board may act on its own to direct emergency rail service and establish an accelerated process for acute service emergencies. The Board has heard from a broad range of stakeholders about inconsistent and unreliable rail service and issued two orders mandating service in urgent situations. Stakeholder concerns have included railroad crew shortages and inability to move trains, tight car supplies and unfilled orders, delays in transportation for carload and bulk traffic, and ineffective customer assistance. “This approach to managing service emergencies is a long-needed reform that will help level the playing field for shippers where rail service failures have caused an acute threat to their business, or when emergency relief is necessary to protect the public, says Board Chair Martin Oberman. *********************************************************************************** Deadline for NCGA Scholarship Applications Approaching The National Corn Growers Association is committed to the future of agriculture. To support the next generation of leaders in American agriculture, NCGA has partnered with BASF to offer scholarships to students enrolled in qualifying institutions. NCGA is proud to offer and support three scholarship programs for three distinct audiences. The Technical School/Community College Scholarship offers $1,000 scholarships to five students pursuing a degree at one of these institutions. The William Berg Academic Excellence Scholarship Program will offer five $1,500 scholarships to undergraduate students pursuing degrees in any field. The Graduate Student Scholarship Program offers two $2,500 scholarships to graduate students whose area of study will benefit the corn industry. “Empowering future leaders in ag is vital for fostering a resilient rural economy in the coming years,” says NCGA Membership and Consumer Engagement Action Team Chair Dan Nerud. “NCGA remains committed to providing opportunities for students driven to serve farm families.” *********************************************************************************** December Milk Production Drops Slightly The 24 states that produce the most milk totaled 18.1 billion pounds in December, down 0.1 percent from December 2022. November’s revised production, at 17.3 billion pounds, was 0.6 percent below November 2022. The November revision represented a decrease of 14 million pounds or less than 0.1 percent from November’s preliminary production estimate. The USDA says production per cow in those states averaged 2,030 pounds for December, one pound above December 2022. The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 states was 8.9 million head, 17,000 head below December 2022 but unchanged from November 2023. U.S. milk production during the October-December quarter totaled 55.6 billion pounds, down 0.6 percent from the same quarter in 2023. The average number of milk cows in the U.S. during the quarter was 9.36 million head, 16,000 head less than the July-September quarter, and 44,000 head less than the same time during the prior year.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 26, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets Traders will be watching the weather for South America, and any new flash export sales at 8 a.m. CST. At 7:30 a.m. CST, Personal Spending and Personal Income data will be released, and at 9 a.m. we'll see Pending Home Sales. Weather Another system has entered the Southern Plains early Friday and will continue to provide scattered rain showers to the region throughout the day. More scattered showers will also develop across the Southern Delta and Southeast while precipitation exits the Eastern Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 25, 2024 |


American Farm Bureau Establishes 2024 Policies The American Farm Bureau Federation concluded its 2024 Annual Convention setting policy direction for the organization this year. Passing a farm bill this year is the top priority for Farm Bureau members, followed by labor and artificial intelligence data privacy. Delegates voted to create new policy to address the growth of artificial intelligence in agriculture, which has the potential to enhance farming practices and conserve resources, but AFBF says privacy rights must be respected. Delegates also voted to stabilize wage rates for guest workers and revise H-2A and H-2B programs. They reaffirmed their support for increasing reference prices in the farm bill and maintaining a strong crop insurance program, including expanding eligibility to ensure more commodities are covered. Additionally, Farm Bureau delegates agreed to say in the Rural Communications section of the policy book, "We support vehicle manufacturers continuing to include AM radio in vehicles.” Beyond policy changes, AFBF President Zippy Duvall and Vice President Scott VanderWal were unanimously re-elected for another two-year term. *********************************************************************************** First Sustainable Aviation Fuel Plant Represents Opportunity Sustainable aviation fuel could grow into the largest new market ever seen for U.S. farm commodities thanks to the start of production at LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels. However, groups in Midwestern states say they could miss out on the opportunity without low-carbon ethanol, which requires carbon capture and sequestration. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw says, "Today and every day going forward, American farmers and ethanol producers are losing demand until we get carbon capture and sequestration online." Iowa Corn Usage and Production Committee Chair Dan Keitzer adds, “LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels will use a variety of low carbon sustainable ethanol, making this an eye-opening experience to what Iowa corn farmers could expect to be a part of." No Iowa ethanol plant currently has a carbon intensity score low enough to qualify as an SAF feedstock. Only one plant in the U.S., using CCS, is currently producing SAF-friendly ethanol. *********************************************************************************** Emergency Relief Program Payments Concentrated in North Dakota, Texas New data from USDA’s Economic Research Services shows Emergency Relief Program payments are largely concentrated in North Dakota and Texas. In 2020 and 2021, the United States experienced 42 disaster events, each resulting in damages of at least $1 billion, including hurricanes, drought, and wildfires. The Emergency Relief Program provides funds to assist commodity growers who suffered losses from natural disasters in those years. As of January 2023, cumulative payments made through the ERP totaled $7.3 billion. USDA disbursed a large portion of this total, $1.16 billion, to North Dakota producers of corn, soybeans, and wheat, who experienced flooding in 2020 and drought in 2021. Texas producers also received a sizable portion of payments, with cotton farmers receiving $510 million of the $909 million disbursed in that State. Producers in North Dakota and Texas received most ERP payments for revenue, quality, or production losses because of moisture and drought that occurred during the 2020 and 2021 crop years. *********************************************************************************** USDA: December Egg Production Up 3% USDA’s monthly Chicken and Eggs report released this week shows December egg production increased three percent. United States egg production totaled 9.45 billion during December 2023. Production included 8.14 billion table eggs, and 1.31 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.21 billion were broiler-type and 97.0 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during December 2023 averaged 384 million, up two percent from last year. December egg production per 100 layers was 2,462 eggs, up one percent from December 2022. All layers in the United States on January 1, 2024, totaled 379 million, up one percent from last year. The 379 million layers consisted of 312 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 63.6 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.83 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on January 1, 2024, averaged 79.3 eggs per 100 layers, up two percent from January 1, 2023. *********************************************************************************** McCain Global Reports Sustainability Progress In its Global Sustainability Report, McCain Foods announced progress towards its sustainability commitments this week. The company aims to implement regenerative agriculture practices across 100 percent of the global acreage that grows potatoes for McCain products by the end of the decade. The Global Sustainable Report shows 51 percent of McCain's global potato acreage onboarded within McCain's Regenerative Agriculture Framework, and 28 percent moving up the framework towards more comprehensive adoption of regenerative practices. McCain is accelerating the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices through its direct relationships with farmers— a network of 3,500 partners around the world — by providing technical and educational assistance and developing innovative financing solutions to offset costs associated with making changes in farming practices and adopting new technologies. McCain Foods Limited is a family-owned business founded in 1957 in Florenceville, New Brunswick, Canada. Today, the company is the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products. *********************************************************************************** Organic Valley Announces First Agreements, Payments to Farmers Organic Valley, the largest cooperative of organic farmers in the nation, announced the first agreements and payments to initial organic farmers participating in Organic Valley's Carbon Insetting Program this week. Building off the University of Wisconsin-Madison published research in the Journal for Cleaner Production, which showed Organic Valley's average on-farm milk emissions were some of the lowest in the nation, the cooperative is taking the next step to improve the carbon footprint of its milk. As a recipient of the USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant, the co-op is offering additional support for practices implemented on eligible Organic Valley member-owner farms, including selecting and scoping region-specific projects, verification of those projects, and then helping to fund the practice installation. The co-op offers technical assistance to help farmers plan and design carbon-reducing projects, sources grant implementation funds and ensures monitoring and verification of those projects. The projects include renewable energy installations at farmsteads, upgraded manure management technology, and enteric-reducing feed supplements.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 25, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Traders will be awaiting U.S. export sales for last week, along with watching for any changes in South American weather. Also, at 7:30 a.m. CST, we will get Fourth Quarter GDP, Initial Jobless Claims, and Durable Goods Orders. At 9 a.m. CST, New Home Sales will be released. Weather A low pressure system along a stalled frontal boundary will provide scattered showers across the Midwest, Tennessee Valley, and Southeast Thursday. Along with the risk for heavy rainfall across the Southeast, a few strong to severe thunderstorms may also form across the region. Farther west, drier conditions return to the Central and Southern Plains throughout Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 24, 2024 |


Some Republican Lawmakers Against Raising Reference Prices Following calls by some groups to increase reference prices in the upcoming Farm Bill, Republican lawmakers stand in "strong opposition" to any potential increases. Republican Representatives Alex Mooney of West Virginia, along with Tennessee's Andy Ogles, Brian Mast of Florida, and others, say any increase would further drive inflation higher. The letter states, "At a time when Congress must be taking steps to reduce federal spending, we must resist costly attempts to expand the scope of government intervention in the free market." The lawmakers argue that "higher price guarantees" would mostly benefit fewer than 6,000 farms. Increasing price guarantees for major crops would mostly benefit peanut, cotton, and rice farmers in Southern states, not corn and soybean farmers, according to the letter. Since payments are linked to production, the largest producers get the lion's share of the funding. In 2021, just ten percent of farmers received more than 80 percent of all Price Loss Coverage payments, the lawmakers claim. *********************************************************************************** Small Family Farms at Highest Financial Risk Small family farms were more likely to have greater financial vulnerability than other farms, according to data from USDA’s Economic Research Service. Researchers calculated the operating profit margin by taking the ratio of profit to gross farm income to find that in 2022, between 52 and 79 percent of small family farms, depending on the farm type, were at the high-risk level. If the operating profit margin is less than ten percent, the operation is considered at high financial risk. When the measure is between 10 and 25 percent, the operation is considered at medium financial risk, and if above 25 percent, the operation is at low financial risk. A majority of small-scale family farms, which have a gross cash farm income of up to $350,000, earn most of their income from off-farm sources. For these farms, farm profitability is not necessarily essential to the survival of the household. Small family farms make up 88 percent of all farms but account for only 19 percent of the total value of production. *********************************************************************************** ADM Investigating Chief Financial Officer This week, ADM appointed an interim chief financial officer while the current CFO, Vikram Luthar, was placed on administrative leave. Luthar's leave is pending an ongoing investigation conducted by outside counsel for ADM and the Board's Audit Committee regarding certain accounting practices and procedures concerning ADM's Nutrition segment, including certain intersegment transactions. ADM's investigation was initiated in response to a voluntary document request by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ADM Lead Director Terry Crews says, "Pending the outcome of the investigation, the Board determined that it was advisable to place Luthar on administrative leave. The Board will continue working closely with ADM's advisors to identify the best path forward and ensure ADM's processes align with financial governance best practices.” ADM will make further announcements regarding the matter when the Board of Directors see fit. *********************************************************************************** Iowa Senate Bill Would Support Small Grocers A bill introduced last week in the Iowa Senate seeks to provide resources to small grocery store owners fighting to keep their stores open amidst economic and workforce challenges and competition from big box retailers. The legislation would create the Grocer Reinvestment Fund and establish a grant and loan program to help locally-owned grocery stores selling perishable foods invest in their businesses. Cynthia Farmer, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, says, "The Grocer Reinvestment Fund and Program would provide financial support to grocers for cost-saving efforts and business efficiency to ensure long-term sustainability." The Iowa Economic Development Authority will oversee the grant and loan program if the bill passes. Funding will be available to grocery stores that sell canned and frozen food; fresh fruits and vegetables; and fresh meat, fish, and poultry. The business must employ 25 or fewer individuals and plan to create new jobs or increase compensation for existing employees. *********************************************************************************** FFA Members Explore Agriculture in Australia More than 70 current and past state FFA officers started the new year by exploring Australia and the various types of agriculture the country offers. It was part of the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers, supported by FFA corporate donors Bungee and John Deere. While in Australia, the students explored Sydney. Then they traveled to Canberra, where they visited with the counselor for agricultural affairs, agricultural specialists and agricultural marketing specialists based at the U.S. Embassy, a representative from the National Farmers' Federation, and a representative from the Australian Rural Leadership Program. They visited perennial pastures, Angus cattle farms, and more. While visiting the Darlington Point District, they explored one of Australia’s most productive farmland, where rice and other cereal crops, fruits and vegetables, grapes, and citrus are grown. Students also visited Australia's only independent agricultural college. They wrapped up their journey in Melbourne, exploring the city and visiting a wildlife sanctuary. *********************************************************************************** NCBA Provides Internship Opportunities in Denver and D.C. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is providing multiple internship opportunities for students to learn about different aspects of the cattle industry. Internships are offered in NCBA’s offices in Denver, Colorado and Washington, D.C. New this year, NCBA is launching a Producer Education and Sustainability Internship focused on implementing the cattle industry's sustainability goals, supporting the Beef Checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance program, and providing educational resources to cattle producers to improve land management, animal health, and profitability. The internship will occur in the summer of 2024. NCBA and the Public Lands Council are also now accepting applications for the summer 2024 Public Policy Internship in Washington, D.C., from May 20 – August 23, 2024. The internship allows students to work jointly with NCBA and PLC to advance policies important to the beef and sheep industries. The full description and qualifications for both internship opportunities are available on the careers page of ncba.org. Applications are due by February 23, 2024.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 24, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders continue to monitor changes in South American weather and will soon be picking up more soybean harvest reports from Brazil. The Energy Department's weekly energy inventory report will be out at 9:30 a.m. CST and USDA's monthly cold storage report will follow at 2 p.m. Weather More rounds of rain showers will plague the central U.S. Wednesday as rain showers are expected to continue from the southeast Plains into the Ohio Valley. A few strong to severe storms are possible in southeastern Texas, southern Louisiana, and southern Mississippi as well. Heavy rain could also lead to areas of flooding across the Southern Delta and Tennessee Valley.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 23, 2024 |


USDA Investing $207 Million in Clean Energy and Domestic Fertilizer Projects Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday announced USDA is investing $207 million in renewable energy and domestic fertilizer projects. Vilsack made the announcement at the 105th annual American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Vilsack says, “The investments announced will expand access to renewable energy infrastructure and increase domestic fertilizer production, all while creating good-paying jobs and saving people money on their energy costs that they can then invest back into their businesses and communities.” USDA is investing in projects in 42 states, funded through the Rural Energy for America Program and the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program. The Rural Energy for America Program awards total $157 million for 675 projects in 42 states. Projects financed through the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program will help U.S. farmers increase independent, domestic fertilizer production. The investments include $50 million in seven projects in seven states. Funding supports long-term investments that will strengthen supply chains, create new economic opportunities for American businesses, and support climate-smart innovation. *********************************************************************************** AFBF Makes Call for Farm Bill Passage American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall encouraged AFBF members to press Congress to pass a new Farm Bill. Speaking at the AFBF annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, which kicked off Sunday, Duvall told members of AFBF, “I’m asking you to send a resounding message to Congress to deliver a new farm bill for our farms and our country.” Duvall continued, “The road to a new farm bill has become longer than any of us would have liked, but together we can see it through.” Many believe Congress needs to act in the first half of the year to complete a farm bill and avoid the thick of election season this fall. Representative Blake Moore, a Republican from Utah, told the audience making a personal connection with lawmakers works best. He says, “Most members of Congress, whether they have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ in front of their name, they do believe there is a need for strong agriculture.” *********************************************************************************** Farm Groups Launch Mental Health Initiative Farm Family Wellness Alliance launched Togetherall over the weekend, launching free, anonymous, online mental health and wellbeing services for farm families. Announced at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, the effort offers a safe, clinically moderated peer-to-peer community, where members around the world are there to listen, support and give members' mental wellbeing a boost. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “It’s OK not to be OK, but it’s not OK not to reach out when you’re hurting.” Togetherall also offers a range of wellbeing tools, such as self-assessments and access to additional support services through a partnership with Personal Assistance Services. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, financial health, improving sleep and more. Farm Foundation started the Farm Family Wellness Alliance in 2020 following the Iowa derecho. The announcement this weekend expands the program nationwide. To learn more, visit farmfoundation.org. *********************************************************************************** Food-at-home Spending Drops Close to pre-COVID Levels Following shifts in U.S. food spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, food-at-home spending was only 2.7 percent higher in November 2023 compared with November 2019. Food-away-from-home spending remained elevated at 14.6 percent higher, according to new data from USDA’s Economic Research Service. After an initial jump in inflation-adjusted food-at-home spending in March through May 2020, the spending leveled off, averaging just 2.8 percent higher in December 2020 compared with 2019. Even as prices increased throughout 2021 and 2022, inflation-adjusted food-at-home spending also increased, with monthly spending in these years averaging 7.2 percent higher than the corresponding months in 2019. Food at home spending has trended back toward pre-pandemic levels since the peak difference of 9.5 percent in March 2022. By contrast, food away-from-home spending initially fell during the pandemic but reversed quickly and outpaced 2019 spending starting in June 2021. Food at home spending peaked at 14.8 percent higher in March 2023 compared with March 2019. *********************************************************************************** Alltech 2023 U.S. Harvest Analysis Reveals Variable Mycotoxin Risk U.S. farmers and producers have experienced droughts, high rainfall, and other weather events affecting the 2023 corn harvest, making it more critical than ever to analyze mycotoxin. The Alltech 2023 U.S. Harvest Analysis has collected and assessed almost 450 new-crop samples from across the U.S., and the results show regional variation in mycotoxin risk. Samples showed lower risk in the upper Midwest and higher risk in the East. A combination of drought and untimely rains led to much of the risk. Mycotoxins are produced by certain species of molds and are a concern for livestock producers, as they can influence feed quality and subsequent animal health and performance. Mycotoxin levels continue to be higher in the East and Midwest United States. Earlier harvest conditions and drier conditions in the West helped to create lower-risk conditions. The Alltech 2023 U.S. Harvest Analysis demonstrates that mycotoxins are an ongoing, dynamic issue that livestock producers need to manage. For more information about Alltech Mycotoxin Management solutions, visit knowmycotoxins.com. *********************************************************************************** Vilsack Traveling to Georgia to Tout SAF, School Meals Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Georgia promoting USDA's school meals and sustainable aviation fuel this week. Vilsack Tuesday (today) is visiting a high school in East Point, Georgia, participating in a roundtable with child nutrition efforts. The discussion focuses on efforts to expand access to healthy meals for more students and improve the nutritional quality of those meals. Wednesday, Vilsack will provide Keynote remarks at the grand opening of LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels in Soperton, Georgia. The facility is the world’s first facility dedicated to the production of sustainable aviation fuel from ethanol. The visit comes as the Environmental Protection Agency released Public Data for the Renewable Fuel Standard, including final production volumes for 2023. EPA’s data shows that U.S. production of biomass-based diesel – including biodiesel, renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel, and heating oil – reached four billion gallons in 2023. Both domestic production and use of advanced biomass-based diesel grew by one billion gallons in 2023, compared to 2022.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 23, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders continue to pay attention to the weather in South America plus rising hostility from Iran and the latest threat from Russia. There are no significant market reports due out Tuesday. Weather While areas of freezing rain, snow, and a mix of rain and snow will continue across the Eastern Midwest and Great Lakes Tuesday, areas of heavy rainfall will remain possible across the Southern Plains and Southern Delta. A few strong to severe storms are also possible across southeast Texas and eastern Louisiana.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 22, 2024 |


Fed’s January 2024 Beige Book on Ag Economy The Federal Reserve Board released its January 2024 Beige Book, a summary of its commentary on the current economic conditions in each Federal Reserve District. In the sixth district around Atlanta, Low cattle supply led to higher cattle prices, but consumers are substituting less expensive proteins and preventing full pass-through of prices. In the eighth district near St. Louis, ongoing drought continues to affect livestock and crop conditions. The ninth district of Minneapolis shows conditions unchanged, while most say farm incomes dropped substantially from last year. In Kansas City’s tenth district, profits narrowed during the past year as commodity prices moderated, particularly in areas hit by drought. Drought conditions continue to recede in the eleventh district of Dallas as soil moisture improves and crop production prospects look better in 2024. Conditions in San Francisco’s 12th district were solid in agriculture and resource-related sectors, with robust yields and inventories of various products. *********************************************************************************** GAO Pushes FDA on Food Safety Although the U.S. food supply is one of the safest, foodborne illness is a public health concern. The Food and Drug Administration has a new rule requiring detailed records for certain foods as they move through the supply chain, which can help trace the source of a potential outbreak. FDA has taken steps like issuing guidance to help implement the rule. The Government Accountability Office has recommended that the FDA finalize its plans for implementing the rule to help industry and regulators prepare for compliance by January 30, 2026. In November 2022, the FDA promulgated a final rule on food traceability to help identify the source of outbreaks of foodborne illness. When developing the new rule, FDA established a list of certain foods for which enhanced recordkeeping is required. Entities handling an item on the list must maintain records, including a traceability plan for specific points in the supply chain. *********************************************************************************** Stabenow Releases Letter on the Farm Bill Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow wrote a letter to her colleagues on their work to write a new farm bill. She outlined several proposals for strengthening the farm safety net in the new bill. While calling the 2018 Farm Bill a “strong foundation” for American farmers, she also says, “The 2024 Farm Bill is an opportunity for the Committee to make improvements, modernize dated elements, and address emerging challenges American farmers face.” Her vision for modernizing the safety net centers around principles like programs being targeted to active farmers, providing farmers choice and flexibility, and sending them timely assistance. She also says officials need to expand the reach of programs to help more farmers and address the emerging risks farmers face. “Crop insurance is a key tool to meaningfully advance each of those goals,” she said in the letter. “Farmers want better affordability and a more straightforward and streamlined process.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Launches Pilot Beef-Grading Program Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a pilot program to allow more cattle producers and meat processors to access better markets through USDA’s official beef quality grading and certification. The Remote Grading Pilot for Beef, developed by the AMS, matches simple technology with robust data management and program oversight to allow a USDA grader to assess beef carcass characteristics and assign the official quality grade from a remote location, reducing costs and location as barriers to participation in the voluntary grading service. “On average, a beef carcass that grades as USDA Prime is valued at hundreds of dollars more than an ungraded one,” Vilsack says. “But the costs for this voluntary USDA service often prevent smaller scale processors and the farmers and ranchers they serve from using this valuable marketing tool.” Consumers and buyers and sellers of beef rely on USDA quality grades, including Prime, Choice, and Select, to indicate quality. *********************************************************************************** NCGA Unhappy with ITC Decision on Tariffs The National Corn Growers Association is deeply disappointed in a decision from the International Trade Commission. The ITC upheld an earlier opinion finding material injury to U.S. fertilizer companies during a time of rising on-farm fertilizer prices that went on to reach record highs. The decision came after the U.S. Court of International Trade asked the Commerce Department and ITC to reconsider decisions they issued on the matter. “The idea that major fertilizer conglomerates were materially injured even as they were posting substantially higher profits during the time in question sounds dubious to me,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle. “The decision ignores the request from the Court of International Trade and the negative impacts these tariffs continue to have on America’s farmers, who are facing higher prices for the fertilizers critical to the success of their crops. We will continue to make a vigorous case for eliminating or lowering these tariffs.” *********************************************************************************** Groups Press for Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Crop Life America and several other groups joined together on Capitol Hill to urge immediate action by lawmakers to renew the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill. “A passage of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill that’s fully retroactive would help farmers’ access to the essential pesticide products they need to grow food for the U.S. and the World,” CropLife America said in a statement. “A renewed MTB would mean lower input prices resulting in decreased price pressures for U.S. farmers, ranchers, and consumers.” The American Chemistry Council was another of the groups pushing for renewal of the MTB. “The bill would support advanced manufacturing in the United States and domestic chemical production used to make products in key agriculture, food production, and industrial sectors, including information technology, renewable energy, and automotive goods,” said the ACC. The previous MTB expired in December 2020, and since then, businesses continued to pay $1.3 million per day in tariffs.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 22, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Weather Warms, Winter Meetings Start 1. Farm Bureau reports: DTN Senior Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton is covering the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan 19-24. Farm Bill legislation, trade and other issues will all be part of speeches and sessions there. 2. Weather warmup: While this weekend includes a last burst of really cold air into South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, a warmup is on tap for the week ahead. That will bring increasing precipitation across eastern Texas and up into the Midwest in several waves. We could see heavy snow in the Great Lakes region, and some ice potential in the Ohio and Mid-Mississippi valleys, depending on temperatures. 3. Market happenings: Soybean markets are watching for the start of Brazilian harvest as well as the ongoing reports of China's potential economic slowdown. DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman will speak at the Sioux Falls, South Dakota farm show from Wednesday through Friday. It's a great place to hear the latest market thoughts and ask your marketing questions. 4. Stewart returns: DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart returns Monday; watch for her market commentary throughout the week. 5. Economic reports to watch: Monday we'll report grain inspections at 10 a.m. Then, Tuesday sees U.S. bioenergy statistics at 2 p.m. On Wednesday, we'll see the S & P PMI numbers released at 8:45 a.m. A busy Thursday starts with a number of reports released at 7:30 a.m., including 4th quarter GDP, initial jobless claims, durable goods orders, U.S. trade balance, U.S. retail and wholesale inventories, and U.S. export sales. Friday we'll watch for personal Income, personal spending and the PCE Index at 7:30 a.m. At 9 a.m. the pending home sales index will be released.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 22, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will keep catch up on South American weather forecasts and notice any news over the weekend, especially concerning Middle East tensions and Red Sea traffic. The U.S. index of leading indicators for December is set for 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly export inspections at 10 a.m. Weather A large system will bring widespread precipitation from Texas into Illinois Monday, with pockets of heavy freezing rain likely in parts of Arkansas and Missouri. Up to 0.10-0.25 inch of ice is possible in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. Meanwhile, parts of eastern Texas could see 1-3 inches of rain.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 19, 2024 |


Farm Lending Activity Remains Muted New non-real estate farm lending activity at commercial banks continued to decline in the fourth quarter of 2023. The volume of new non-real estate farm loans in the final months of 2023 was about 15 percent less than the previous year. The number of new loans did increase from the previous year, but the average loan sizes were considerably lower. The sharp climb in farm loan interest rates abated during the quarter as average rates increased modestly for some types of loans and dropped slightly for others. Despite a reduction in new loans compared to late 2022, 2023’s outstanding farm debt balances reported by commercial banks grew steadily through the third quarter of 2023. Elevated production costs, higher interest expenses, and lower commodity prices increased the financing needs of many producers. The Kansas City Fed says strong liquidity in recent years likely supplemented the borrowing needs of some operations throughout 2023. *********************************************************************************** Taylor to Lead Trade Mission to India Alexis Taylor, USDA’s Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, will lead an agribusiness trade mission to India from April 22-25. USDA is reminding interested parties that applications are open for exporters who want to take part. “There is no larger untapped market in the world for U.S. agriculture than India and its 1.4 billion consumers,” Taylor says. “We achieved notable tariff reductions this year on chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, apples, and frozen turkey, among other products that will open market opportunities for American farmers in the world’s most populous country.” She also says FAS is excited to support food and agricultural exporters as the two countries have entered a new chapter in trade relations. While in India, U.S. agribusinesses will participate in business-to-business meetings with potential importers from India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. “Total U.S. ag exports to India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka exceeded $2.5 billion in 2022,” she adds. *********************************************************************************** NCBA Keeps Pushing for Death Tax Relief The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association strongly supports the Death Tax Repeal Act introduced in both the House and Senate. NCBA says it’s unconscionable for cattle producers to face a tax that forces them to sell all or part of their family’s farm or ranch due to the death of a family member. “With the cost of farmland rising rapidly, the Death Tax presents a significant threat to the future of family farms and ranches,” says NCBA President Todd Wilkinson of South Dakota. “Most cattle producers have significant assets but are cash-poor and operate on thin margins, leaving them with few options when they are saddled with an unexpected tax liability.” The NCBA says some producers get forced to sell off assets, including land, livestock, farm equipment, and even their home. Current death tax relief expires at the end of 2025, and it’s vital that Congress acts soon to provide permanent relief. *********************************************************************************** Illinois Tops U.S. Soybean Production in 2023 The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates Illinois soybean farmers raised a U.S.-leading 648.9 million bushels on 10.3 million acres. Compared to the previous year, total acreage and yield estimates were both four percent lower in Illinois. Average soybean yields remained the same in 2023 at 63 bushels an acre. “I’d like to congratulate my fellow farmers on another successful growing season,” says Ron Kindred, Illinois Soybean Association Chair. “Illinois farmers made smart management decisions to maintain average soybean yields statewide.” Kindred also says part of the success can be attributed to the efforts of the Illinois Soybean Association. “For 60 years and counting, ISA has invested in production research, education, advocacy, and market development efforts to afford all Illinois soybean farmers success even in the face of many challenges,” he says. As the Illinois Soybean Association turns 60, Kindred says communicating the checkoff’s benefits is key to staying ahead of challenges. *********************************************************************************** Record Support for AM Radio in the House The radio industry hit an important milestone as the number of lawmakers in the House who back efforts to make AM radio mandatory in vehicles has reached 200. The list has grown even as the proposed AM Radio in Every Vehicle Act has yet to make much legislative progress in the House. Insider Radio says the growth in support could be critical if bill sponsors try to attach the measure to a piece of must-pass legislation like a spending bill. National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Alex Siciliano credits grassroots support for helping broadcasters to gain so many cosponsors of the Act during the past year. “AM radio is continuing to reach a vast audience of 82 million listeners each month, and they’ve been very engaged in telling Congress how important this medium is to them in light of the threat by vehicle makers to remove AM from vehicles,” he says. *********************************************************************************** Growth Energy Outlines 2024 Policy Priorities Growth Energy, the nation’s largest biofuels trade association, published its 2024 federal policy priorities. “These are policy decisions that will shape the next era of growth in plant-based energy and climate solutions,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We hope these priorities serve as a roadmap for elected officials seeking to support biomanufacturing facilities at the heart of America’s bioeconomy.” The policy priorities focus on ensuring drivers can use more lower-carbon, lower-cost bioethanol at the pump at home and abroad. The group wants to restore permanent, unrestricted access to E15 year-round nationwide. Growth Energy also wants to use bioethanol to expeditiously advance the national transportation carbon reduction goals. They want to make sure the Department of Energy incorporates the best science and makes limited changes to the GREET model as it relates to the 408 Sustainable Aviation Fuel Tax Credit. They want to ensure changes are finished by March 1, 2024.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 19, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Friday. At 9 a.m., the University of Michigan's report of consumer sentiment in January and a report on U.S. existing home sales in December will both be released. USDA's cattle on-feed report for January 1 will be out at 2 p.m., the same time as USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry outlook for January. Weather A clipper system continues to bring a band of snow across the eastern Midwest and into the Mid-Atlantic on Friday and is pulling the last of an arctic blast from the polar vortex behind it from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico yet again that will last for a couple of days.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 18, 2024 |


Lawmakers Seek 2024 DMC Enrollment Period A group of lawmakers is asking the Department of Agriculture to swiftly open the 2024 Dairy Margin Coverage program sign-up period. The program is the nation's risk management tool for dairy producers that helps farmers manage changes between milk prices and feed costs. The lawmakers, including Iowa Republican Representative Randy Feenstra, write, “Now, as we are nearly halfway through January, there continues to be no indication given to producers of when they will be eligible to select their DMC coverage level for 2024.” The delay, the lawmakers say, coupled with the unpredictable nature of the industry is “concerning for the farm economy and the constituents we represent.” Throughout 2023, dairy producers faced numerous challenges – high input costs, continued inflation, and unpredictable weather conditions – meaning that programs like DMC, which provide certainty during unstable economic conditions, are vital to producers and rural communities, the letter says. The lawmakers urged USDA to quickly open the sign-up period to provide dairy producers certainty in 2024. *********************************************************************************** USDA: Large Family Farms Account for Bulk of Commodity Production Large-scale family farms accounted for a majority of the value of commodity production in 2022, according to a new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service. Specifically, these farms accounted for 51 percent of cash grains and soybeans, 56 percent of hog production, 65 percent of cotton along with 65 percent of specialty crops, and 76 percent of dairy products. On the other hand, small family farms accounted for three percent of the value of production for dairy, four percent for cotton, seven percent for specialty crops, and 26 percent for beef, but they produced the majority of hay—53 percent—and 45 percent of poultry and eggs. The value of production by nonfamily farms ranged from five percent for both hay production and poultry and eggs production to 19 percent for specialty crop production. Large scale family farms are those with a Gross Cash Farm Income of more than $1 million. *********************************************************************************** Global Soybean Stocks Raised on Higher Production The marketing year 2023/24 global soybean production forecast has increased by 0.1 million metric tons this month to 399.0 million metric tons. USDA’s Monthly Oil Crops Outlook shows higher production in Argentina, the United States, Paraguay, Russia, China, and Bolivia more than offset lower production in Brazil. Global soybean trade for 2023/24 is forecasted to be up from last month and stands at 170.9 million metric tons due to higher exports from Paraguay and Russia. The global soybean crush is nearly unchanged this month, as higher crush in Argentina, India, Egypt, and Thailand offsets the reduced crush volume in Brazil. Global soybean ending stocks are forecast at 114.6 million metric tons, up 0.4 million metric tons from last month's forecast and 12.7 million metric tons above last year's level. In the latest Crop Production report by USDA, U.S. soybean production was raised by 35.2 million bushels on higher yields. The harvested acreage is reduced this month 0.4 million acres on lower harvested area. *********************************************************************************** United Soybean Board Releases 2024 Sustainability Overview The United Soybean Board Wednesday released the 2023 Soy Sustainability Overview. The report outlines the partnerships formed through checkoff investment to drive innovation in sustainability. The advances include efforts to enhance sustainability in production agriculture and ongoing development of new soy-based products that provide cleaner alternatives for everything from rubbers and plastics to adhesives and lubricants. Iowa farmer April Hemmes, chair of the Demand Action Team at USB, says, "U.S. Soy farmers are proud of the important and growing role they play in maximizing sustainability not only in farming but throughout industries and around the globe." The report covers sustainable food practices, renewable energy such as biodiesel, and other sustainability practices. The report also provides updates on checkoff-funded research projects that hold significant promise in advancing sustainability, both on the farm and through groundbreaking new uses for soy. For more information and to view the report, visit unitedsoybean.org. *********************************************************************************** Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Promote Domestic Hardwood Products Representatives Tom Tiffany and Congresswoman Ann Kuster introduced bipartisan legislation this week to support domestic hardwood products. The Hardwood Products Access and Development Program Act, permits the Agriculture Secretary to authorize grants that bolster domestic industry efforts and research that directly supports end-user information on the benefits of hardwood products. The grants will allow various nonprofits, universities, and other eligible applicants to research the low carbon footprint and sustainability of domestically produced hardwood products to educate the public on the benefits of these products. Representative Tiffany, a Wisconsin Republican, says, "This important legislation will inform consumers on the sustainability of domestically produced hardwood products." Representative Kuster, a New Hampshire Democrat adds, "American-grown hardwood offers an incredible opportunity to create more sustainable, durable products in countless industries right here at home." The U.S. hardwood industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry supporting over 1.8 million jobs, mostly in rural, underserved areas. *********************************************************************************** USDA Appoints New Members to Minority Farmers Advisory Committee The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the appointment of 15 new members to the Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers. The newly appointed members serve terms of up to two years. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, "This committee is part of USDA's commitment to ensure that all farmers have equal access to USDA programs and services, especially minority farmers and producers in underserved communities." Committee members represent socially disadvantaged farmers, nonprofit organizations, civil rights organizations or professions, and higher education institutions. Congress established the Advisory Committee for Minority Farmers in the Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 to ensure that underserved farmers have equal access to USDA programs. Committee members advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the administration of the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grant Program. They also make recommendations to the Secretary on how to increase minority participation in USDA programs. Find more information, including a list of new members, on the committee website.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 18, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Weekly U.S. jobless claims, U.S. housing starts for December and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are due out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage will be out at 9:30 a.m., followed by the weekly energy inventory report at 10 a.m. Traders continue to monitor South American weather and news from the Middle East. Weather A clipper system is moving through South Dakota early this morning, bringing a band of light to moderate snow through the Northern Plains. The system will continue southeast through Iowa Thursday and into the eastern Midwest overnight into Friday. An arctic blast of cold will follow behind the clipper for a couple of days, though temperatures out ahead of it are closer to normal in a reprieve from yesterday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 17, 2024 |


Pork Producers Concerned About FDA Antibiotics Proposal The National Pork Producers Council submitted comments critical of the Food and Drug Administration’s draft guidance on the duration of use of certain antibiotics in food animals. NPPC says the proposal would “deny the ability for a veterinarian to prescribe antimicrobials appropriately, burden pharmaceutical companies, and may jeopardize antibiotic access.” For 30 years, the U.S. pork industry has implemented measures, including FDA directives, for responsible antibiotic use. In the comments, NPPC emphasized that veterinarians are responsible for deciding what antimicrobials to prescribe, when products should be used and administered, which animals to medicate, and for how long. The organization says the draft guidance interferes with the veterinarian’s decision-making process by mandating a duration of use. The comments urge the FDA to work closely with drug manufacturers to provide a simple process to include duration of use to continue the availability of products and allow veterinarians to maintain their role in the decision-making process. *********************************************************************************** Collaboration Will Expand Rural Connectivity John Deere announced it entered into an agreement with SpaceX to provide cutting-edge satellite communications service to farmers. Utilizing the Starlink network will allow farmers facing rural connectivity issues to fully leverage precision agriculture technologies. The partnership will enable John Deere customers to be more productive, profitable, and sustainable in their operations as they continue to provide food, fuel, and fiber to their communities and a growing global population. “The value of connectivity to farmers is broader than any single task or action,” says Aaron Wetzel, vice president of production and precision ag systems at John Deere. “Connectivity unlocks vast opportunities that were previously limited or unavailable.” The new solution will connect both new and existing machines through satellite internet service and satellite terminals. This will fully enable technologies such as autonomy, real-time data sharing, remote diagnostics, enhanced self-repair solutions, and machine-to-machine communication to help farmers work more efficiently. *********************************************************************************** Rural Residents Among Country’s Unhappiest People Rural residents join Republicans, renters, women, and single people in feeling they’re in a funk financially. That’s according to the Axios Vibe survey by The Harris Poll. Inflation has dipped in recent months, but the subject remains top of mind for many Americans. Six in 10 survey respondents say they’re now “triggered” by trips to the grocery store. Grocery purchases are the top way Americans say they feel inflation every day, followed by gas prices. Thirty-seven percent of Americans rate their financial situation as poor. That rises to 57 percent for renters, 47 percent for singles, and 46 percent for rural residents. Forty-one percent of Americans say their finances are worse today than they’d have predicted if they’d been asked, pre-COVID, to imagine the future. That percentage rises to 53 percent for rural residents and 51 percent for renters. The poll finds many Americans, including rural residents, calling the economy weak. *********************************************************************************** Actor Joining Clean Fuels Alliance to Promote Bioheat Donnie Wahlberg of the TV show “Bluebloods” has joined Clean Fuels Alliance America in a campaign to raise awareness about Bioheat Fuel, an environmentally responsible and sustainable energy solution It’s an eco-friendly and sustainable home heating solution derived from plants, including soybeans. Wahlberg, a Boston native, is excited about promoting a cleaner future, especially in the Northeast. Bioheat fuel is a renewable energy source that blends traditional heating oil with biodiesel, significantly reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact. Wahlberg’s partnership with Clean Fuels is driven by a shared commitment to promoting sustainable energy solutions and fostering environmental responsibility. “Donnie’s involvement adds a powerful voice to our campaign, bringing attention to the positive impact of Bioheat fuel on a local and global scale,” says Clean Fuels CEO Donnell Rehagen. “We believe that together, we can inspire positive change and encourage individuals to make the switch to cleaner, more sustainable heating options.” *********************************************************************************** Promoting Agroforestry on Farms Propagate and the Rodale Institute announced a new partnership to promote agroforestry. The collaboration’s goal is to increase the adoption of agroforestry and tree-cropping systems in North America. They say planting new agroforestry systems on farms is a win for farmers and the planet. Agroforestry systems introduce additional streams of income for farmers and boost the resilience of their operations. Increasing the number of farms across the country is also crucial to the health of the food system and climate stability. Regenerative practices like agroforestry promote overall soil health, store carbon in soils, accumulate woody biomass, improve water quality, promote biodiversity, and support pollinators. “Agroforestry is a critical tool for farmers and ranchers to improve both agricultural land and the environment,” says Rodale Institute CEO Jeff Tkach (catch). “Rodale and Propagate will further develop innovative research and expand producers’ access to actionable data that enables their adoption of regenerative practices.” *********************************************************************************** Nominations Open for 4R Program The Fertilizer Institute says nominations are open for the 2024 4R Advocates. These distinguished farmers and retailers are committed to implementing advanced fertilizer best management practices that incorporate the principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship while demonstrating remarkable economic and environmental benefits. “Embracing the principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship isn’t just a commitment for the fertilizer industry, but it’s a meaningful step towards helping countless American farmers enhance both their profitability and the health of the land,” says TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “We take pride in the dedication of our industry’s retailers, who work hand-in-hand with farmers to put these practices into action in the field.” The 4R Advocates actively engage in TFI’s outreach efforts to promote responsible fertilizer management practices throughout the year. They do so by hosting farm field days, participating in conference panels, and sharing their insights and experiences with fellow farmers. More information is at tfi.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 17, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders remain attentive to South American weather forecasts and events in the Middle East. U.S. retail sales for December are due out at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by the Federal Reserve's report on U.S. industrial production at 8:15 a.m. The Fed's Beige Book will be released at 1 p.m. Due to Monday's holiday, the Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be out Thursday. Weather While the polar vortex remains in control over much of North America, there is some moderation from the drastically cold temperatures of the last few days across the north. Southern areas dove deeper into the cold with below-freezing temperatures through the Gulf of Mexico. A system in the Pacific Northwest continues to drop significant snow there that will bleed into the northwestern Plains as well, especially for Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 16, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Back from a three-day weekend, traders will catch up on the latest weather forecasts for South America and news of attacks from the Red Sea. USDA's weekly report of export inspections is set for 10 a.m. CST. The National Oilseeds Processors Association will estimate members' soybean crush in December later Tuesday morning. Weather The polar vortex is firmly planted over the middle of North America on Tuesday and while the harshest temperatures have passed on from the Canadian Prairies and Northern Plains, it remains very cold across much of the country between the Rockies and Appalachians. A storm system is moving east and out of the country while the cold, arctic air settles.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 15, 2024 |


Final 2023 Crop Report Shows Jump in Corn Production USDA released its final 2023 Crop Production Report showing a rise in corn production and a drop in soybean production. 2023 corn production hit a record 15.3 billion bushels, 12 percent above 2022. The average yield was a record-high 177.3 bushels per acre, 3.9 bushels above 2022. Soybean production in 2023 reached 4.16 billion bushels, two percent lower than in 2022. The average yield was 50.6 bushels per acre, one bushel above 2022, but the production drop was due to four percent fewer harvested acres than the previous year. Meanwhile, the December WASDE Report calls for greater corn production, larger domestic use, and higher ending stocks. The season-average price is down five cents at $4.80 per bushel. In soybeans, supplies rose 31 million bushels over November’s prediction. Projected soybean ending stocks totaled 280 million bushels, up 35 million. The season-average soybean price is $12.75 a bushel, 15 cents below November. *********************************************************************************** USDA Reopening Signup for Continuous CRP The USDA will begin accepting applications for the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program signup on January 12. The Farm Service Agency encourages agricultural producers and landowners interested in conservation opportunities for their land in exchange for yearly rental payments to consider the enrollment options available through Continuous CRP. It also includes the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program offered by FSA partners. Additionally, producers participating in CRP can apply to re-enroll beginning January 12 if their contracts expire this year. “Continuous CRP is one of the best conservation tools we can provide producers and landowners,” says FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Whether a producer wants to focus on water quality benefits or work with one of our partners to address natural resource concerns in their area, the program offers many options to help meet those resource conservation goals.” To submit an offer, producers and landowners should contact their local FSA office by July 31. *********************************************************************************** USDA Releases Grain Stocks, Winter Wheat Seeding Reports USDA released its December 2023 Grain Stocks report that showed higher corn and wheat stocks in all positions, while soybean stocks dropped from 2022. Corn in all positions totaled 12.2 billion bushels, 13 percent above December 2022. Soybeans were estimated at three billion bushels, one percent lower than a year ago. All wheat on December 1, 2023, totaled 1.41 billion bushels, eight percent above 2022. The winter wheat area planted for 2024 harvest is estimated at 34.4 million acres, six percent below 2023 but three percent higher than in 2022. Kansas and Texas, the two states with the largest acreages, are expected to be down seven and eight percent, respectively. Michigan and Utah were expected to plant a record-low number of acres. Hard Red Winter Wheat seeded area is expected to be 24 million acres, five percent below 2023. The largest drop in planted acres is in Kansas and Texas. *********************************************************************************** Radio Hand-In-Hand With the Future The Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Nevada, had plenty to offer in the way of future technology, including self-driving cars and Artificial Intelligence. Radio Ink says broadcasters should be encouraged that radio continues to show up at a high-tech event like CES. Radio’s largest presence was in the car, just like in everyday life. One company showed off the DTS AutoStage technology in a BMW. It offered a visual way to enjoy AM-FM and in-car games like Jeopardy. As electric vehicles continue to grow, companies are looking for ways to help drivers and passengers pass the time while their EVs charge. The same company showed off adding HD radio to Harley Davidson motorcycles. John Deere showed off its future farmer-focused technology, which included radio still playing a big part of the in-cab entertainment system. That became more important when looking at agriculture’s push to preserve the AM band in rural America. *********************************************************************************** Farmland Market is “Resilient” The Farmers National Company says the farmland market seems to be moving into the new year maintaining the value increases it’s built during the last three years. That stability is in place despite increasing pressure from declining commodity markets, rising interest rates, and inflation. The sharp increase in land values last year which was driven primarily by strong commodity markets has slowed, but the value is holding steady. Buyer demand remains strong for good quality cropland in the Midwest, while the supply of available land remains limited. “These factors further play into the dynamics of the supply-demand scenario and remain a large factor in supporting current values in early 2024,” says Paul Schadegg, senior vice president of real estate operations for Farmers National. Local farmers/operators continue to be the principal buyers in almost 80 percent of Farmland’s sales transactions. “Available cash plays a role in buyer’s aggressiveness when bidding on land.” *********************************************************************************** Growth Energy Applauds Court Ruling The U.S. Court of Appeals in the 11th Circuit dismissed a case involving the Hunt Refining Company and the Environmental Protection Agency. The court ruled that the Small Refinery Exemption challenge brought by Hunt under the Renewable Fuels Standard couldn’t be heard by the court and should be heard instead by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the 11th Circuit Court validated what’s already known. “EPA’s denials of these SRE petitions were ‘nationally applicable’ and have nationwide effect, and challenges to the denials have only been brought to the D.C. Circuit Court,” Skor says. “Every time refiners seek to take RFS gallons out of the marketplace, that potentially impacts the entire renewable fuels market, no matter where those gallons get blended.” She also says the 11th Circuit rightly removed itself from the challenges and avoided contributing to a potential patchwork of inconsistent standards.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 12, 2024 |


November Pork Export Value Highest in Over Two Years Fueled by record performances in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia, November pork exports reached their highest value since November 2021. USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation says November pork exports reached 258,600 metric tons, up five percent from last year and the highest in six months. Export value rose two percent to $737.4 million, the highest since May 2021 and seventh-highest on record. From January through November, pork exports reached 2.64 million metric tons, eight percent higher than the previous year. “The momentum for U.S. pork is remarkable and very broad-based,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. Beef exports totaled just over 99,000 metric tons during November, 14 percent below the prior year and the second lowest in 2023. Value fell seven percent to $786 million. For the first 11 months of the year, beef exports were 13 percent lower than the record pace of 2022. *********************************************************************************** USDA Kicking Off the National Ag Classification Survey As the agency already prepares for the 2027 Census of Agriculture, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will conduct the National Agricultural Classification Survey on January 24. The survey, an important step in determining who should receive a 2027 Census of Agriculture questionnaire, will go to approximately 250,000 recipients to ask if they conduct agricultural activity. The results of the survey will ensure that every U.S. producer, no matter how large or small their operation, has a voice and is counted in the highly anticipated and influential agricultural census data. “This survey helps illustrate the breadth of American agriculture and enables USDA to get a complete count of all farmers and ranchers,” says NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “Every response matters. Even if a respondent doesn’t think the survey applies to their farm, we’d ask that they respond to the few screening questions.” NASS encourages recipients to respond securely online at agcounts.usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** USDA Investing in Biofuels The USDA is awarding grants worth $19 million to American businesses to increase the availability of biofuels in 22 states and give Americans cleaner and more affordable options at gas station pumps. Blending ethanol into gasoline has helped reduce fuel costs by approximately 25 percent, contributing to falling gas prices across the country. Gas prices are now under $2.99 in more than half of U.S. states and save the average driver more than $100 per month relative to peak prices. The agency is making the awards through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. “By increasing the supply of biofuels made here in the U.S., we are strengthening our energy independence, lowering costs for American families, creating new streams of income for agricultural producers, and bringing good-paying jobs to people in rural communities,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. The investments will help business owners install and upgrade biofuels infrastructure, including pumps. *********************************************************************************** Bipartisan Bill Would Support Organic Dairy Farmers Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME), a longtime organic farmer and House Ag Committee member, and Marc Molinaro (R-NY) introduced legislation to support organic dairy farmers. The Organic Dairy Data Collection Act would enhance data collection at USDA to better understand the costs associated with producing organic milk. “International trade challenges, adverse weather, and skyrocketing organic feed costs have created a dire economic situation for organic dairy farmers across the U.S.,” Pingree says. “These unique challenges require tailored solutions.” The bipartisan bill will help USDA better understand and address the challenges organic dairy farmers face. The bill directs USDA to collect and publish cost-of-production data for organic milk. It directs NASS to gather and report monthly data about the amounts that organic dairy farmers are being paid for organic milk. It also orders USDA, NASS, and the Economic Research Service to publish reports on the cost of production data by state and region. *********************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Awards Distinguished Service Honors Frank Lucas (R-OK) and former Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill received the American Farm Bureau’s 2023 Distinguished Service Award and Farm Bureau Founders Award, respectively. The awards are the highest honors presented by AFBF. Lucas and Hill will be recognized during the 2024 American Farm Bureau Convention January 17-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah. AFB established the Distinguished Service Award in 1928 to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving the national interest in American agriculture. First presented in January 2017, the AFBF Founder’s Award for exemplary leadership, service, or contributions to Farm Bureau is presented in recognition of outstanding achievements and work in the interest of Farm Bureau. Lucas is a fifth-generation Oklahoma farmer and Congressman who’s been a defender of agriculture for over 40 years. Hill was the longest-serving member of the Iowa Farm Bureau Board of Directors before retiring as president in December 2021. *********************************************************************************** Combines See Solid Sales Gains Late in 2023 Combine harvester sales closed out the year ahead of 2022 levels, while almost all tractor segments saw declines in both the U.S. and Canada. The latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says total U.S. farm tractor sales fell 5.1 percent in December compared to 2022, while year-to-date sales came in 8.7 percent lower than the previous year. However, 100+ horsepower tractors grew 5.2 percent for the year and 3.6 percent in December. Combine harvesters finished 2023 with sales up 1.7 percent last month. The sub-40 horsepower segment led the yearly losses, falling 11 percent in 2023 on the heels of a 5.8 percent drop in December. For Canada, four-wheel drive farm tractor sales jumped 65 percent in December and finished the year up 44 percent overall. Overall unit tractor sales finished 2023 down 14 percent for December and 10.7 percent overall. AEM is still confident about long-term sales growth.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 12, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's producer price index for December will be out at 7:30 a.m. Friday, one day after consumer prices were said to be up 3.4% from a year ago. USDA's WASDE, December 1 Grain Stocks and Winter Wheat Seedings reports are set for release at 11 a.m. CST. U.S. grain and livestock futures close at their normal times Friday and are closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Grain futures will trade next at 7 p.m. CST on Monday. Weather The second big storm of the week is moving into the Midwest Friday morning and will quickly deepen. It has already started to produce heavy snow from eastern Nebraska to Lake Michigan early morning and will expand from there. The deepening low-pressure system will create strong winds and blizzard conditions in the snow. To the south, heavy rain and thunderstorms have developed in the Mississippi Valley and will move east throughout the day. The rain will help to ease drought, but thunderstorms may be severe with strong winds the primary threat. Very cold, arctic air continues to spread through the Plains behind the system.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 11, 2024 |


Agri-Pulse Poll Shows Farmers Support Donald Trump A new poll from Agri-Pulse and Stratovation Group finds farmers and ranchers support electing Donald Trump to another term as president. The effort shows 39 percent of surveyed farmers say they would most likely vote for Trump, while 19 percent indicated they would vote for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Just eight percent of surveyed farmers say they would vote for President Joe Biden. Of the 605 farmers that participated in the survey, 61 percent identified as Republicans, with 45 percent of that group favoring Trump. Ten percent of the survey participants identified as Democrats with 62 percent of those farmers supporting Biden. Another 18 percent of farmers identified as independents. Stratovation Group conducted the study between December 14-22, 20243, including farmers and ranchers from the Midwest, South and California. The first presidential primary vote comes Monday as Republicans hold the Iowa Caucus. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Wheat Imports Reach 6-year High U.S. wheat imports are forecasted to be at their highest in six years for the 2023/24 marketing year, according to USDA's Economic Research Service. Consecutive years of drought in key U.S. growing regions of hard red winter wheat have tapered U.S. output, elevating domestic prices. Millers have sought less expensive sources, including competitively priced wheat from the European Union. U.S. imports of hard red winter wheat, mostly from the EU, for 2023/24 are at 25 million bushels, a record high, and up from five million bushels from 2022/23. This trade flow is atypical as U.S. wheat imports are normally driven by hard red spring and durum wheat from neighboring Canada. In 2017/18, imports from Canada of both classes of wheat were elevated because of drought-related supply issues in the United States. While U.S. imports of hard red winter wheat are elevated in 2023/24, imports of soft red winter and white wheat are relatively close to normal levels. *********************************************************************************** Without More Funding, FCC Winding Down Broadband Program The Federal Communications Commission plans to start winding down the Affordable Connectivity Program as funding for the effort dries up. The FCC has emphasized the need for additional funding for program, and the White House recently made an additional funding request to Congress for $6 billion to keep the program going. With less than four months before the projected program end date and without any immediate additional funding, this week, the Commission expects to begin taking steps to start winding down the program to give households, providers, and other stakeholders sufficient time to prepare. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel says in a letter to lawmakers, “If Congress does not provide additional funding for the ACP in the near future, millions of households will lose the ACP benefit that they use to afford internet service.” While Congress initially appropriated $14.2 billion for the ACP, more funding is needed to keep the program in place. The FCC expects funding to last through April 2024, running out completely in May. *********************************************************************************** Losses Projected for Lower Rio Grande Valley Due to Water Shortages A recent report by Texas A&M estimates a potential 2024 total loss in economic output of over $993.2 million due to the absence of irrigation water for crop production in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The report examines the total economic impact on the region's agricultural production, which consists of row crops (and specialty crops absent irrigation water. In terms of employment, it would result in an estimated loss of over 8,000 jobs. The lack of irrigation water is in large part due to Mexico's failure to deliver water to the U.S. per the 1944 Water Treaty. According to the report, the current Mexican water deficit is the second-largest deficit in the last three decades. The Treaty obligates Mexico to deliver a minimum of 350,000 acre-feet annually, as an average, on a five-year cycle. Now in year four of the current five-year cycle, Mexico owes over 736,000 acre-feet of water. Because of the lack of water, the Texas International Produce Association reports vegetable and fruit plantings are down 25 – 100 percent, depending on the corp. *********************************************************************************** CHS Reports First Quarter Fiscal Year 2024 Earnings CHS Inc., the nation's leading agribusiness cooperative, released results for its first quarter this week, which ended November 30, 2023. The company reported quarterly net income of $522.9 million compared to $782.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2023. Earnings were strong across all segments, although down from record first quarter earnings in fiscal year 2023. Revenues were $11.4 billion, compared to $12.8 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2023. In the Ag segment, continued robust meal and oil demand drove strong earnings in our oilseed processing business that were offset by weak U.S. export demand for grains and oilseeds. CHS President and CEO Jay Debertin says, "We continue to see the benefits of our diversified agriculture and energy portfolio, our strategic footprint, and investments in our supply chain." CHS reported pretax earnings of $169.7 million for agriculture, representing a $117.6 million decrease compared to the prior year period. *********************************************************************************** Nearly 21 Million Children Expected to Receive New Grocery Benefit This Summer The Department of Agriculture this week announced that 35 states, all five U.S. territories, and four tribes plan to be the first to launch the new, permanent summer grocery benefits program for children. Known as Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer, the program in 2024 will serve close to 21 million children, providing nearly $2.5 billion in grocery benefits. This is around 70 percent of the total population of children eligible for Summer EBT. Through the program, states will provide families with $120 per eligible child for the summer to buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets or other authorized retailers – similar to how SNAP benefits are used. Participating tribes will provide a benefit of the same amount that can be used to buy food at WIC-authorized retailers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “Together we’re making progress in closing the summer hunger gap and ensuring children are nourished and healthy year-round.” USDA expects additional states and tribes will provide Summer EBT in 2025.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 11, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, the consumer price index for December and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage will be out at 9:30 a.m., followed by the Treasury Department's federal budget statement at 2 p.m. Weather A strong storm will develop in the Southern Plains on Thursday, on the leading edge of the cold air of the polar vortex. The storm system will deepen over the Midwest on Friday and bring a swath of heavy snow from around Nebraska through Michigan. Strong winds developing with the system will create blizzard conditions in the heavy snow. Meanwhile, strong thunderstorms are possible again across the South-Central states Thursday and the Southeast on Friday. Arctic air has already started to leak into the Northern Plains and will spread out across the country behind this system.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 10, 2024 |


Consumers to Focus on Labels in 2024 The International Food Information Council’s annual food trends forecast predicts consumers will focus more on label claims this year. The report suggests the industry should expect a heightened emphasis on transparent food labeling, empowering shoppers to make informed decisions about the foods and beverages they consume. Labels such as clean, cold-pressed, and fermented, which consumers associate with healthfulness, will continue to be at the forefront. Actions by the Food and Drug Administration are bringing Americans closer to an updated definition of a “healthy” food. As far as consumers are concerned, the most common attributes they believe define a healthy food are fresh, low in sugar and good source of protein. IFIC’s Kris Sollid says, “Front-of-Package nutrition labeling will be a major focus in 2024 as U.S. food regulators roll out a new labeling proposal to help shoppers make easier, quicker, and healthier food decisions.” The proposal will spur a national conversation about the importance of reading food labels and the factors beyond labeling that influence personal food choices. *********************************************************************************** USDA Reminds Producers of Upcoming Discrimination Financial Assistance Deadline The Department of Agriculture this week reminded farmers, ranchers and forest landowners that January 13, 2024, is the deadline to apply for the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program. The program is made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, which provided $2.2 billion in funding. Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination by USDA in its farm loan programs before January 1, 2021, and/or are currently debtors with assigned or assumed USDA farm loan debt that was the subject of USDA discrimination that occurred before January 1, 2021, are eligible for the program. Applications may be submitted online through the program website at 22007apply.gov, in person at a DFAP local office, or by mail. The full list of offices and their operating hours can be found on the application website. After receiving feedback from potential applicants in September, USDA extended the deadline to January 13, 2024. This provided potential applicants six months to prepare applications. The previous deadline was October 31, 2023. *********************************************************************************** Court Upholds Iowa Agriculture Trespass Laws The 8th Circuit Court unanimously overruled a District Court and upheld Iowa’s 2019 and 2021 agriculture trespass laws as constitutional this week. After several organizations challenged the new law, the district court concluded that the intent requirement renders the law “viewpoint-based” and unconstitutional under the First Amendment. In the ruling, the 8th Circuit Court said, “We respectfully disagree, and therefore reverse.” The lawsuit was filed by groups including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Food Safety, among others. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig responded, “The Legislature and Gov. Reynolds enacted these laws to safeguard our ag community and protect our food security. It is welcome news that Iowa producers can now be protected from trespassers and it sends a clear message to those who maliciously target our livestock farms.” Critics described the laws as “ag-gag” laws, seeking to criminalize efforts to access and secretly record alleged animal abuse on farms. *********************************************************************************** Leaked Snake River Memo Springs Irrigation Concerns A leaked memo outlining mediation options for Lower Snake River dams has agriculture sounding alarm bells, especially those who rely on the river to irrigate. The solutions seek to improve fish population and reverse effects of hydroelectric power generation. However, Irrigation Today reports the solutions would decrease the energy availability and the water resource infrastructure dependent on the system's current framework. Nathan Bowen of the Irrigation Association says, "The proposed changes to the river system, particularly the breaching of dams, would have a dramatic impact on irrigated agriculture in the region." A letter from Pacific Northwest lawmakers regarding the leaked memo states, “Due to the document’s use of vague and imprecise language, it appears susceptible to misinterpretation.” The lawmakers expressed concerns with the outlined solutions in the memo, which includes language from the federal government stating that the solutions outlined in the memo must “be the path forward.” The concerns are not new, with legal battles pertaining to the system spanning decades. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Apricot Production Trends Lower Data from USDA's Economic Research Service shows U.S. apricot production is declining significantly. Their production has been decreasing since the 1990s in response to falling U.S. consumption, especially for processed apricots. Commercial production is concentrated on the West Coast, with California representing 90 percent of apricot production in 2023. The U.S. apricot industry has experienced a long-term downward trend in bearing acreage, falling 62 percent over the past 20 years. Growing competition from imports of processed apricot products and a general increase in consumption for all fresh fruit have encouraged growers to divert more of their acreage to higher valued commodities, resulting in fewer bearing acres of apricots and shifts in use. The downward trend in production has coincided with a decrease in the share of apricots used in the processing market. During the first three seasons of this decade, processed utilization has averaged 45 percent—down from 63 percent during the early 2010s and 89 percent in the early 1980s. *********************************************************************************** Grains Council Launches Website Highlighting Sustainability The U.S. Grains Council just released four new web pages focused on the organization's sustainability efforts. The web pages provide information and resources on the practices and technologies that contribute to the sustainability of U.S. farms and agribusinesses. The pages showcase USGC’s commitment to global climate efforts and how it is working with its members and international stakeholders to address sustainability challenges in the food, feed, fuel and fiber international supply chains in which the products it represents participate. Carlos Suarez, USGC manager of sustainability, policy and innovation, says, “The Council is in a unique position to help barley, corn and sorghum farmers showcase their journey in adopting sustainable production practices and align with international supply chain requirements.” The Council's goal is to increase the volumes of sustainably-produced U.S. grains that reach international markets to support global food security and climate-smart international supply chains. Find the pages at grains.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 10, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Brazil's crop agency, Conab, will have new crop estimates out Wednesday, typically early morning. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report is set for 9:30 a.m. CST. Traders remain attentive to South American weather forecasts and the world's events. Weather The first major winter storm of 2024 is exiting to the northeast on Wednesday, but it will not stay quiet long. The polar vortex is building over the western half of North America, pulling down arctic air into western Canada that will spill southeast behind an initially weak system across the Northern Plains on Wednesday into Thursday. The storm will become much stronger for Thursday and Friday, following a similar track to the one from early in the week.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 9, 2024 |


USDA Announces Market Development Program Investments for Fiscal Year 2024 The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service is awarding more than $200 million to nearly 70 agricultural organizations to help expand export markets for U.S. food and agricultural products. The expansion efforts will happen through the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program. “Over the year, we’ve seen the tremendous impact both MAP and FMD have on expanding U.S. exports to markets around the world,” says FAS Administrator Daniel Whitley. “For each dollar invested in export market development, U.S. agricultural exports have increased by more than $24.” He calls these programs a “significant boost to the agricultural industry,” which, in turn, helps strengthen the economies of communities across the entire United States. Through MAP, FAS will provide $174.3 million for fiscal year 2024 to 68 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. Under FMD, FAS will allocate $27 million to 20 trade organizations that represent American agricultural producers. To learn more, visit fas.usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** Philippines Extends Lower Tariff Rates on Pork Through 2024 The Philippines extended reduced tariff rates on imported pork for the third consecutive year. The in-quota duty remains 15 percent, while the out-of-quota rate is 25 percent. Under the lower tariffs and higher access volume, U.S. pork exports to the Philippines increased to a record $205 million in 2021, a 79 percent hike. But after the increased quota amount expired on January 31, 2022, exports fell that year to about $135 million, and for 2023 they will likely be around $120 million. The National Pork Producers Council says the Philippines is an important Asian market for America’s pork industry. With more than 109 million people and a cultural preference for pork, the island nation is a top ten market for U.S. pork exports. In May 2021, in response to a pork shortage caused by African Swine Fever, the Philippines first lowered the import duties and increased the minimum access volume. *********************************************************************************** Dietary Guidelines Committee to Meet The next meeting of the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is on January 19, starting at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. It’s convened jointly by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During the event, the committee will hear updates from each subcommittee and discuss progress made since the third public meeting. Some of the topics include protocol development, evidence review and synthesis, draft conclusion statements, and plans for future committee work. HHS and USDA invite the public to participate in this important event by registering in advance to view the livestream. A recorded version of the livestream will be posted on DietaryGuidelines.gov after the meeting. Since the first edition in 1980, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans provided science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs. For more information, go to usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** USDA: Chronic Disease Linked to Food Security Adults in U.S. households that are less food secure are significantly more likely to have one or more chronic diseases, and the likelihood increases as food insecurity worsens. Researchers with the Economic Research Service looked at the rate of five chronic diseases across four levels of household food security, ranging from high food security to very low food security. High food security households have no problems or anxiety about consistently obtaining adequate food. Very low food-secure households feature eating patterns of one or more household members that got disrupted and reduced their food intake. From 2019-2022, the predicted illness prevalence among the five chronic diseases examined was 3.6 to 9.5 percentage points higher for adults in very low food-secure households compared to those with high food-secure households. For example, hypertension was found in 36 percent of very low food secure households, showing that food security status and health are closely linked. *********************************************************************************** Fuel Prices Continue New Year Declines For the second straight week, GasBuddy says the nation’s average price of gasoline has declined, falling 3.8 cents from a week ago to $3.03 per gallon. “Sluggish gasoline demand has led to the national average easing again and brings back the potential for the national average to drift under $3 per gallon for the first time since 2021,” says Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy. “With a record rise in gasoline inventories last week as demand was anemic during the holidays, motorists have provided the catalyst for falling prices.” He also says if demand remains weak, it’s possible gasoline prices could fall further. In addition, refinery issues in California have also eased, which will soon cause prices to decline in California, Nevada, and Arizona, possibly providing momentum for a $2.99 national average. However, the better it gets now, the sharper the rise could be ahead of spring, as prices could start rising by mid-February. *********************************************************************************** Taylor Leading Trade Mission to India USDA’s Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor will lead an agribusiness trade mission to India from April 22-25. USDA is now accepting applications from U.S. exporters who wish to join the trade delegation. “There is no larger untapped market in the world for U.S. agriculture than India and its 1.4 billion consumers,” Taylor says. “We achieved notable tariff reductions this year on chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, apples, frozen turkey, and many other products that will open market opportunities for U.S. farmers in the world’s most populous country.” Total U.S. agricultural and related product exports to India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka exceeded $2.5 billion in 2022. January through October 2023 exports reached more than $1.7 billion. India leads the region as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The deadline to apply for the India trade mission is Monday, January 22. For information and to apply, go to fas.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 9, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets While a winter storm works eastward across the U.S., traders remain attentive to the latest forecasts for South America. The U.S. Commerce Department's trade deficit for November is set for 7:30 a.m. CST, the source of ag export data USDA will make available later Tuesday morning. The Energy Department's Short-term Energy Outlook is due out Tuesday. Weather A major winter storm continues to build across the middle of the country but is pushing east for Tuesday, which is spreading heavy snow across the Midwest and heavy rain for the East Coast. With strong winds circling the low-pressure center, blowing and drifting snow along with near-blizzard conditions will continue in the Plains and Midwest and create other hazards for those in the South and East. Heavy showers and thunderstorms may be severe in the Southeast. Another large winter storm is going through the Pacific Northwest with widespread heavy snow and wind, but will be weaker as it crosses the Rockies into the Northern Plains and Prairies later today

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 8, 2024 |


Food Price Index Drops in December The U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization says world food prices dropped in December. The Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the prices of globally traded commodities, averaged 188.5 points in December, down 1.5 percent from November and 10 percent lower than December 2022. For 2023, the index was 13.7 percent lower than the average value of 2022, with only the international sugar price index higher during the period. The Cereal Price Index rose 1.5 percent from November, but the yearly index was 15 percent below 2022. The Vegetable Oil Price Index dropped 1.4 percent from November, and for the year was 33 percent below 2022. The Sugar Price Index dropped 17 percent from November, but still finished 15 percent higher than December 2022. The Meat Price Index dropped one percent from November, hitting a level of two percent below December 2022. The Dairy Index rose 1.6 percent from November. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Wheat Associates Launch Stewardship Video Series The time and effort American farmers put into caring for the land makes for a story that isn’t shared often enough. A new video series from U.S. Wheat Associates aims to change that for overseas wheat buyers by focusing on how producers help feed the world while also acting as stewards of soil, water, and the environment. USW’s “Stories of Stewardship” project goes right to the source. Five wheat farmers in five different states appear on camera from their farms to talk about their work and to assure economic security for the next generation of farmers by leaving their land in better shape than it was when they started farming it. “Consumers around the world want to know how their food is grown, and U.S. wheat is definitely a food ingredient,” says USW Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer. Stories of Stewardship can be seen on the USW website and Facebook page. *********************************************************************************** USGC Touts U.S. Corn Quality in China The U.S. Grains Council’s office in Beijing, China, recently hit the road to present the 2023-2024 Corn Harvest Quality Report, discuss sorghum opportunities, and protect market share for U.S. coarse grains. The Council conducted a corn quality roadshow and seminar in two of China’s most populated provinces. “More than 60 traders and end-users from all over China attended our seminar to learn about the harvest quality of our 2023-2024 U.S. corn crop and other critical topics affecting the global coarse-grain market,” says Manuel Sanchez, USGC Director in China. “As one of the primary destinations for American corn and sorghum, it’s vital that the Council engage with customers in China to share the latest market information.” In addition to reviewing the report, the seminars welcomed speakers who discussed the challenges and opportunities for corn globally, the current drought hitting the Panama Canal, and a 2023 U.S. sorghum harvest and market outlook. *********************************************************************************** Midwest Weather Staying Warmer and Drier Than Normal The Midwest Climate Hub says warm and dry was the theme during December in the North Central U.S. There have been exceptions, including a Christmas system that dropped multiple inches of precipitation in certain areas. The region saw both one and two-class improvements and degradations in drought status, and concerns are starting to weigh heavily on whether soil moisture will be recharged this winter. The next three to five months are expected to follow a typical El Niño weather pattern overall. That means temperatures will lean warmer for the region, and conditions will be drier for the northern and eastern states in the Midwest. It’s about the 180th week of D1 drought in parts of Iowa, which is the longest stretch since the 1950s. Exceptional drought continues in southeast Nebraska, with some places in exceptional drought for the past five months. Temps have been above normal for the last 30 days. *********************************************************************************** ALB Holding Targeted Grazing Workshops Paid grazing contracts present a tremendous opportunity for the growth of the U.S. sheep flock and improving the availability and price competitiveness of American lamb. It’s also an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through green energy production and biological vegetation management. Training is needed to ensure sheep producers are prepared to take advantage of these grazing contract opportunities. “Improving the sustainability of the U.S. sheep industry through profitable growth is a top priority of the American Lamb Board,” says ALB Chair Peter Camino (kah-MEE-know). “ALB is committed to ensuring new and experienced shepherds receive education and resources to become successful contract grazers.” ALB’s grazing workshops will outline new and existing opportunities through targeted grazing across the U.S., including fire suppression, vineyards, and solar grazing. From animal performance to contracts and business setup, the workshops will cover the information they need to be successful service providers. For more information, go to americanlambboard.com. *********************************************************************************** Millions of Birds Die During Two Years of Bird Flu One-fourth of America’s bird flu losses during outbreaks beginning in early 2022 were recorded during the final quarter of 2023. USDA data says that’s when the disease staged a resurgence. Approximately 20.9 million birds were culled in infected domestic flocks from October through December to prevent the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza. Successful Farming says bird flu hit egg farmers so hard that prices in 2022 soared 32 percent above the average in 2021. That’s the largest increase for any food categories USDA tracked during a year of high food inflation. As flocks got rebuilt, egg prices rose marginally in 2023 and are expected to fall 12 percent this year. A total of 79.7 million domestic birds, mostly egg-laying hens and turkeys being raised for human consumption, died in HPAI outbreaks or eradication efforts since February 2022. Since then, the disease has been confirmed in 1,059 flocks in 47 states.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 8, 2024 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Winter Storm, WASDE and More 1. WASDE Friday: This week marks the release of several important USDA reports, including the "final" corn and soybean yield and production numbers of the 2023 U.S. crop season. The January World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report hits the wires at 11:00 a.m. We will post those numbers shortly after 11, with updates and analysis throughout the morning. Our preview expectations for the report will be available mid-week. 2. Big storm coming: A broad winter storm rolls into the upper Plains early in the week. As DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick noted in his latest Ag Weather Forum blog, this is really the first concentrated monster storm of the season. Livestock health is one of the chief concerns, as this storm will be for some areas the first bitter taste of winter some animals will get. 3. Speaking of weather: Grain traders continue to watch how South American crop conditions are shaping up, as that part of the world continues to be the market trend maker. We'll have updates in a number of spots, from the Ag Weather Forum blog to our daily market commentary. DTN customers should know that the latest global market conditions lead to us finishing up marketing of the 2023 corn crop this past week, while we continue to recommend holding a bit of soybean harvest. T 4. Cattle looking for news: A New Year uptick in cattle futures prices that started this past week ran out of gas by week's end. We'll watch for potential weather-driven trade disruption, though the general call is for steady prices in live trade and limited sales activity. 5. Economic reports to watch: On Monday, weekly grain inspections will be released at 10 a.m. The latest Consumer Credit report is out at 2 p.m. On Tuesday, the latest trade deficit numbers are at 7:30 a.m. Final field crop estimates will be released at 2 p.m. Wholesale inventories are out Wednesday at 9 a.m., with the weekly petroleum report at 10 a.m. That report includes ethanol production and inventory. On Thursday, economic attention turns to the Initial Jobless Claims report, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Core CPI numbers, all due at 8:30 a.m. U.S. grain export sales will be released at 7:30 a.m., with Hogs and Pigs Final Estimates out at 2 p.m. Finally, Friday kicks off with the Producer Price Index (PPI) and Core PPI out at 7:30 a.m. At 11 a.m. is WASDE, January Crop Production, the Dec. 1 Grain Stocks numbers and winter wheat seedings.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 8, 2024 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will continue to monitor South American weather and Middle East tensions. USDA's weekly report of export inspections will be out at 10 a.m. CST, the only significant report on Monday. Weather A storm system has been building from Sunday night into early Monday across the Central and Southern Plains, bringing a mix of rain and snow to the region. The storm will turn into a monster by midday and shift to the Mississippi Valley overnight. Widespread impacts including severe weather across the Gulf Coast, heavy snow and blizzard conditions from the southwestern Plains to the Midwest with strong winds elsewhere, and flooding rain will create a host of issues for travel and anyone or anything that is outdoors.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 5, 2024 |


Over 1,250 Producers Qualify Under Prop 12 The California Department of Food and Agriculture says there are more than 1,250 agricultural producers and distributors in compliance with Proposition 12. After multiple delays brought on by court challenges and the need for a Supreme Court ruling, Prop 12 is now in effect. The CDFA says the more than 1,250 producers are prepared the meet the state’s demand for cage-free eggs and crate-free pork after the measure took full effect on January 1. California voters initially approved Prop 12 in November 2018, with the provisions originally intended to be in place by January 2022. “Final implementation of Prop 12 not only provides the prospect of dramatically better living conditions for pigs in U.S. agriculture, but it also all provides a critical market for thousands of pig farmers who don’t rely on immobilizing crates as a routine animal-housing practice,” says Wayne Pacelle, a Prop 12 architect and president of Animal Wellness Action. *********************************************************************************** Missouri Bans Foreign Ownership of Some Farmland Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced a ban on agricultural land purchases by citizens and businesses from six nations if the property is within ten miles of critical military facilities. Parson says he had countries like “China and other adversarial nations” in mind when issuing an executive order on the topic. The order puts the state Ag Department in charge of reviewing all proposed purchases of farmland by foreigners The Ag Department is to deny all proposed purchases within ten miles of military facilities by entities from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. Missouri is the latest state to restrict foreign ownership of U.S. farmland amid rising international tensions. Arkansas recently ordered Syngenta, owned by ChemChina, to sell a 160-acre research farm. Foreign investors own 43.4 million acres, or 3.4 percent of privately-held agricultural land, which includes 474,000 acres in Missouri. The executive order doesn’t affect existing farmland ownership. *********************************************************************************** Weather Mixed in Winter Wheat Country A USDA report says December weather was a mixed bag for winter wheat producers. Timely precipitation in major wheat-growing states like Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arkansas boosted the crop. In Kansas, the top-producing state, about 43 percent of the hard-red crop was in good or excellent condition in December. Thirty-six percent was in fair condition, with the rest poor to very poor. An average of 2.7 inches of rain fell in Oklahoma last month, with more than three inches in west central counties. While no condition report was available, 22 percent of the state was suffering from drought, down from 47 percent three months earlier and 90 percent a year ago. In Colorado, 61 percent of the winter wheat crop was in good or excellent condition, up from 50 percent last year. In Arkansas, where soft-red winter wheat is grown, topsoil moisture was 69 percent surplus and 26 percent was adequate. *********************************************************************************** USDA Investments in Risk-Management Training The USDA’s Risk Management Agency announced that $3 million is available for cooperative growth agreements to educate underserved, small-scale, and organic producers on risk management. The educational opportunities can also include climate-smart practices. RMA’s Risk Management Education Partnerships provide funding for organizations like non-profits and land grant universities to develop training and resources for producers about risk management options like crop insurance. “This funding is integral to our outreach efforts in communities that historically have not had access to training about risk management options,” says RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger. “As a farmer, I know first-hand that agriculture is a risky business.” Bunger also says they want to work directly with growers and livestock producers to provide them with training and resources about risk management options and applying them to the farming business. A broad range of risk management activities are eligible for funding consideration, including training on crop insurance options and others. *********************************************************************************** Registration is Open for the Animal Agriculture Alliance Summit Registration is now open for the 2024 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit. The event features dozens of speakers, hundreds of perspectives, and countless ideas. That’s just the starting line of the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s Summit. The group says, “It’s going to take a team to drive our future forward. It takes everyone running alongside their fellow stakeholders from across the food chain who know that putting in the work is the only way to transform today’s challenges into tomorrow’s solutions.” The annual Stakeholders Summit is a one-of-a-kind conference attended by a very diverse group. Stakeholders in attendance include representatives from farms, ranches, allied industries, food processors, restaurants, grocery stores, legislatures, universities, government agencies, and media members. The AAA is also excited to announce that Amanda Lucey, CEO of The Partnership, a marketing and brand communications agency, will serve as this year’s moderator for the event. For information, go to animalagalliance.org. *********************************************************************************** Women in Ag Tech Meeting This Month Women in Ag Tech announced its second in-person meeting on January 21-22 will take place during The VISION Conference at the Glendale Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. Women in Ag Tech (WAT) continues to champion opportunities for women in agricultural technology and foster a vibrant community through mentorship, idea exchanges, and collaboration. The event promises an enriching experience for attendees, featuring a keynote address, panel discussions, and interactive sessions led by industry professionals. Lara Sowinski of CropLife Media Group will lead the meeting. An FBI Special Agent will deliver the keynote called “Cultivating Resistance: A Women in Ag Tech’s Insights on Food Safety, Cybersecurity, and Leadership in STEM.” The Women in Ag Tech meetings aren’t about only sitting and listening. “Here, we come together as women to actively learn, engage, and support one another,” Sowinski says. “It’s a fresh and dynamic approach, setting it apart from the usual conference experience.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 5, 2024 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Friday, the same time as the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for December. A report on U.S. factory orders for November follows at 9 a.m. Traders will remain attentive to South American weather and tensions in the Middle East. Weather A storm system that developed in the Central and Southern Plains on Thursday has brought areas of rain and snow into early Friday. That storm system will continue eastward for Friday, getting into the Southeast for Saturday. The storm may clip the southern end of the Midwest and some lighter snow will be possible farther north in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 4, 2024 |


Analysis: Corn Futures Fall More Than 30% in 2023 Grain futures ended 2023 significantly in the red, with corn futures suffering their biggest yearly drop in a decade, according to a new analysis by the University of Illinois' Farm Policy website. Wheat and soybeans also posted steep declines in 2024 following bumper harvests in Brazil and resilient Black Sea trade. The most active corn contract was down 31 percent in 2023, while wheat was down 21 percent, and soybeans were down 15 percent. Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics, adds, "In 2024, producers are going to be a lot more concerned about their input costs, and that is where beans play a much better role for them." The Department of Agriculture also expects soybean acres to increase in 2024, with the November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report predicting that U.S. farmers will plant 87 million acres of soybeans in 2024, an increase of 3.4 million acres. Corn acres are expected to be 91 million acres, a decrease of 3.9 million acres, according to the USDA. *********************************************************************************** USDA and USTR Seek New Trade Advisory Committee Members The. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are accepting applications for new members to serve on agricultural trade advisory committees. Members of the committee provide advice to the administration on the implementation and enforcement of existing U.S. trade agreements, negotiation of new agreements, and other trade policy matters. Members of the six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees, or ATACs, provide technical advice and recommendations on international trade issues that affect specific agricultural commodity sectors. The ATACs focus on trade in Animals and animal products, fruits and vegetables, grains, feed, oilseeds, planting seeds, processed foods, Sweeteners and sweetener products, tobacco, cotton, peanuts, and hemp. Applicants must have U.S. agriculture expertise and international trade experience to be considered for committee membership. Committee members serve four-year terms and represent a cross-section of U.S. food and agricultural stakeholders. Application instructions are available on USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service website. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. ET on January 31, 2024. *********************************************************************************** SNAP Participation Varied Across States in Fiscal Year 2022 New data released by USDA's Economic Research Service shows that in fiscal year 2022, USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program served an average of 41.1 million people per month in the 50 states and Washington, DC. SNAP is the largest domestic nutrition assistance program, accounting for about two-thirds of USDA spending on food and nutrition assistance in recent years. The SNAP participation rate increased nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic to a high of 12.5 percent of the resident population of the 50 States and DC in fiscal year 2021. The fiscal year 2022 rate fell slightly to 12.3 percent. SNAP participation varies across states because of differences in program administration and economic conditions. In fiscal year 2022, the share of residents receiving SNAP benefits in each state ranged from as high as 24.5 percent in New Mexico to as low as 4.6 percent in Utah. In 35 States, the share was somewhere between eight and 16 percent. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Demand for Organic Cotton Growing Demand for organic cotton in the U.S. is growing, but imports continue to pick up the slack of inadequate domestic production. A new project led by Texas A&M AgriLife Research aims to turn the situation around by identifying the challenges and opportunities for U.S. organic cotton growers. The study, Fostering Sustainable Organic Cotton Production in the U.S. Through Research and Outreach on Organic Regenerative Practices, is funded by a $3.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant. Researchers expect the study to help U.S. organic cotton producers determine how to improve yields, productivity, and sustainability in their existing fields and transition more acreage into organic production. Organizers say, "We want to understand what their production challenges are, how they are managing them, what works and what doesn't, and how their practices are impacting the soil and output long-term." With no synthetic herbicides allowed, the project will identify other methods that might minimize the tillage needed for weed control. *********************************************************************************** Workshop Series for Veterans Focuses on Agritourism Military veterans interested in agriculture are invited to attend a series of on-farm and virtual workshops highlighting farm stores, onsite and off. The course is free for active military service members and military veterans. Hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs, the 11-session series, “Agritourism through Farm Stores,” starts February 19 and runs through August. The workshops will rotate between online classroom sessions and on-farm sessions with an online option. Kirstin Bailey, senior project associate for the Center, says, "During the on-farm sessions, experienced farmers will go through the ins and outs of on- and off-site farm stores, how they set up their on-farm buying experiences, and challenges they have faced." Session topics include obtaining proper equipment, maintaining adequate facilities, setting up purchasing systems, and more. Farmer-leaders with experience in various types of agriculture and agritourism, such as poultry, pork, beef, and beekeeping, will be available to assist participants throughout the course's online platform. Find a detailed schedule, including dates and times of sessions, online. *********************************************************************************** Minnesota Farm Bureau to Host Urban Ag Conference State Farm Bureau officials in Minnesota are focusing on urban agriculture with an upcoming conference next week. The Minnesota Farm Bureau will host an Urban Agriculture Conference on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities on Saturday, January 13. The free event will focus on issues related to urban agriculture, including land access, water access and funding. The event features speakers from USDA, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Farm Bureau, state educational faculty, and elected officials from the state. Other topics include roof-top solar arrays, hydroponics, urban planning and urban food systems. Another session will focus on technical assistance on how to apply for grants and other funding. Organizers say they may hold similar events in places like Duluth, St. Cloud and other parts of the state to expand their outreach to urban farmers. Registration for the event is available on the Minnesota Farm Bureau website.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 4, 2024 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage is set for 9:30 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 10 a.m. Traders will keep an eye on South American weather and events in the Middle East. Weather A storm system will move out of the Southwest and into the Central and Southern Plains on Thursday, bringing a mix of rain and snow to the region. Other areas of the country will be rather quiet outside of the West, where showers will continue.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 3, 2024 |


U.S. Farmer Sentiment Stable As Inflation Expectations Subside Farmer sentiment changed very little in December compared to the preceding month. The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer recorded a reading of 114, just one point lower than a month earlier. Both sub-indices of the barometer, the Index of Current Conditions and the Index of Future Expectations, also fell one point below their respective November readings. The Current Conditions Index for December was 112, while the Future Expectations Index was 115. All three indices were weaker than in December 2022, with the barometer falling ten percent below a year earlier. Farmers still pointed to input costs at year-end as their top concern for the year ahead, but the percentage of farmers choosing the risk of lower crop and/or livestock prices rose from just 16 percent in January to 26 percent in December. Inflation expectations among farmers moderated during 2023. Compared to a year earlier, far fewer producers expect inflation to exceed six percent in the new year, and a large majority look for inflation to average less than four percent in 2024. *********************************************************************************** USDA to Reconvene FMMO Hearings The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will reconvene the national public hearing to consider proposals seeking to amend the uniform pricing formulas applicable in all 11 Federal milk marketing orders. The process will restart January 16, lasting through January 19th, and reconvene again on the 29th, if needed. The hearing began August 23, 2023, and is being held in Carmel, Indiana. Copies of the notice to reconvene, guidelines for participating, and exhibits entered during the hearing are available on the National Federal Milk Marketing Order Pricing Formula Hearing webpage. Proponents contend that the uniform FMMO pricing formulas should be amended, as significant changes in the dairy industry and milk marketing have occurred since their adoption in the early 2000s. Forty proposals were submitted by stakeholders for consideration. Of those, 21 directly impact the uniform pricing formulas and are being considered at the hearing. Dairy producers may testify in person at any time during the hearing. *********************************************************************************** National Agricultural Law Center Recaps Top 2023 Issues The Waters of the U.S. rule rewrite topped the list of agricultural issues for the National Agricultural Law Center in 2023. While WOTUS was the top issue for 2024, California’s Proposition 12 came in second, with the one-year Farm Bill extension third. The organization listed EPA’s rollout of the Endangered Species Protection Program and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act fourth. Other top issues include the Arkansas foreign ownership of land restrictions, competition in the livestock sector and water use from the Colorado River. Right to repair gained traction as farmers continued to advocate for the right to access manufacturer-controlled tools and information. The list rounds out with growth in the industrial hemp sector and civil litigation over pesticides, such as glyphosate exposure. The organization expects corporate transparency rules requiring disclosure of ownership interests in companies, proposed H-2A changes and a myriad of issues before the Supreme Court as ones to watch for 2024. *********************************************************************************** GE Crops Dominate U.S. Soybean, Cotton, and Corn Acres New data from USDA's Economic Research Service shows Genetically engineered crops dominate the U.S. agriculture sector. Genetically engineered seeds were commercially introduced in the United States for major field crops in 1996, with adoption rates increasing rapidly in the following years. The two main GE trait types are herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant. USDA reports information on GE crops in the data product Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States. The data shows that by 2008, more than 50 percent of corn, cotton, and soybean acres were planted with at least one GE seed trait. Today, more than 90 percent of those acres are planted using at least one GE trait. Other traits have been developed, including resistance to viruses, fungi, and drought or enhanced protein, oil, or vitamin content. While herbicide-tolerant seeds are also widely used in alfalfa, canola, and sugar beet production, most GE acres are occupied by three major field crops: corn, cotton, and soybeans. *********************************************************************************** Programs offer U.S. Dairy Farmers Carbon-Asset Payments Three carbon projects initiated in 2021 and 2022 issued nearly $3 million in carbon-asset payments to U.S. dairy farmers who used Agolin® Ruminant to create verified emissions reductions. A verified emissions reduction is a carbon asset that can be used as an offset or within a value chain. It represents one metric ton of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent that is either avoided or removed from the atmosphere through an intervention that has been independently verified as part of a carbon reduction project. Agolin Ruminant is a proprietary blend of essential oils that improves milk production and feed efficiency in beef and dairy cattle. Concord Agriculture Partners has chosen Agolin Ruminant to create a new carbon inset project, which guarantees that participating dairy producers will receive an industry-leading 85 percent of the gross value of the carbon asset. Alltech, a global leader in agriculture, acquired a majority interest in Agolin SA in May 2023. *********************************************************************************** Fuel Prices Start 2024 With Decline Fuel prices began the new year declining after a late-year increase during the holiday season. GasBuddy reports the nation's average gasoline price reverted, falling 1.6 cents from a week ago to $3.06 per gallon. The national average is down 17.3 cents from a month ago and 12.6 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average diesel price fell 4.5 cents last week and stands at $3.96 per gallon—71 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan says, "The good news continues for average diesel prices, which slipped below $4 per gallon again and stand at their lowest level since the summer." Crude oil prices were up sharply in the first trading session of 2024, as the U.S. waged an attack on Houthi (who-thee) militants, downing three Houthi ships from a U.S. military helicopter. Forecasts projecting a rise in Chinese demand for its February Lunar New Year may have been boosting optimism and oil prices in early trade as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 3, 2024 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets After Tuesday's bearish closes, traders will remain fixated on anything weather-related for South America will continue to watch for private estimates of Brazil's soybean production, ahead of next week's updates from Conab and USDA. International indices of manufacturing will roll in overnight from various countries, followed by a manufacturing index for the U.S. at 9 a.m. The Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be out Thursday, due to this week's holiday schedule. Weather A small disturbance moving along the Gulf Coast will make for some significant showers for Wednesday, easing drought in the southern Delta a little bit. A larger storm system is moving through the Western U.S. that will create a bigger storm for the southern tier of the country starting on Thursday. Light snow will also move through the Great Lakes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 2, 2024 |


K-State Researchers Make Gluten Breakthrough Kansas State University researchers report a breakthrough in developing wheat-based foods that contain lower amounts of gluten. It’s a discovery that could lessen the adverse effects of celiac (SEE-lee-ak) and other autoimmune diseases. Scientists from Kansas State, the Agricultural Research Service, and in partnership with Kansas Wheat successfully used the gene-editing technique called CRISPR (crisper) to reduce the presence of two types of gluten-coding genes. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine and the small fingerlike projections that help the body absorb nutrients. Researchers admitted they were surprised that once the genes got edited, it reduced the immunotoxicity. However, gluten won’t be completely removed from wheat as it’s important for bread making. While the reduced gluten level achieved so far won’t make wheat safe for use, it’s an important step forward. *********************************************************************************** Farm Equipment Dealers Expect a Tough 2024 The ag equipment market began a downward trend a year ago. Dealers say that 2024 might be their roughest year since COVID in 2020. The “Dealer Business Outlook and Trends Report” shows a combination of recovering inventories, high interest rates, and a general economic downturn that has dealers preparing to weather a storm in 2024. The new survey showed a significant drop in optimism in dealers’ new and used whole goods revenue forecasts, while parts and service revenue forecasts hit record highs. The dealers aren’t facing the kind of equipment shortages that dampened their optimism in the previous report, but price increases remain a factor despite falling from 2022 peaks. There is some degree of optimism remaining based on healthy farm financials and solid commodity prices. However, the question of how much cash farmers will bring into the new year remains in question. Revenue projections are negative as demand declines. *********************************************************************************** POET Reports a Successful 2023 POET, the world’s biggest ethanol producer, celebrated several milestones in 2023. That included multiple victories on the policy front, the grand reopening of its 34th facility, and completing the first-ever bioproducts innovation center. “In 2023, our POET team worked hard to lead the charge toward the bioeconomy of the future,” says Jeff Broin, Founder and CEO of POET. Early in 2023, the company announced that it will be growing its bioCO2 capabilities with expansions at two of its bioprocessing locations. They say it’s a testament to the company’s commitment to providing a renewable CO2 solution for its customers and creating more value from every bushel of grain. POET’s government relations efforts also played a role in securing several policy-related victories during the year. Also, Nebraska passed an E15 mandate, which unlocks access to E15 at Nebraska fueling stations and provides qualifying retailers with a tax credit for every gallon sold. *********************************************************************************** SD Pipeline Dividing Ethanol Proponents Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions wants to build a pipeline in South Dakota to transport carbon dioxide from Midwest ethanol plants to underground storage in North Dakota. The company wants to gather emissions from 32 ethanol plants, including some in South Dakota. The project would be eligible for federal tax credits incentivizing greenhouse gas sequestration. Summit says no pipeline would break the Midwest ethanol industry and calls pipeline opponents “anti-ethanol.” The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission denied a building permit for Summit last year, citing county setback law violations. Corn farmers who have long supported ethanol were alarmed by the company’s use of eminent domain to acquire private land for the pipeline from roughly 160 farmers. South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke (SOMB-kee) says members feel betrayed. They supported a growing ethanol industry before facing an infringement on their property rights. Sombke says he’s furious at farmers being called anti-ethanol. *********************************************************************************** Drought-Stricken Areas Getting Winter Precipitation Dry conditions continued across parts of the South while heavy precipitation fell across Oklahoma and parts of central and eastern Texas. Large parts of Texas and Oklahoma received between two and five inches of rainfall, which is 300 to 600 percent above normal. Average temperatures in the Midwest were well above normal, as many as ten to 25 degrees higher than typical temps. Much of the region also received above-normal precipitation, especially along the western parts of the region where the heaviest amounts reached two to four inches of rainfall, anywhere from one to three inches above normal The above-normal precipitation helped alleviate longer-term precipitation deficits in the region. Heavy precipitation fell over much of the eastern High Plains, where rainfall totals were greater than 600 percent of normal. Exceptional drought was improved in eastern Nebraska. Precipitation fell in most of the Southeast while the western U.S. remained status quo. *********************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Hits Two-Year High The Energy Information Administration says ethanol output surged to a two-year high, and inventories hit their highest points since April during the week ending on December 22. Ethanol production rose to an average of 1.107 million barrels per day, up from 1.071 during the prior week and the highest level since October 2021. The Midwest, which produces the most U.S. ethanol, increased its output to an average of 1.047 million barrels a day, up from 1.009 million a week earlier. That was all the gains during the week as East Coast production was unchanged at 12,000 barrels a day, and Rocky Mountain output held steady at 14,000 barrels. West Coast production remained at 10,000 barrels per day for the second straight week. Gulf Coast output dipped to 24,000 barrels from 26,000 the prior week. Ethanol inventories jumped to 23.517 million barrels during the week, the highest level since April 21.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 2, 2024 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Back from the three-day weekend and starting a new year, traders will catch up on South American weather forecasts and any news that may have popped up over the New Year weekend. USDA's weekly report of export inspections will be out at 10 a.m. CST Tuesday, followed by the NASS report of Fats and Oils at 2 p.m. Weather Much of the country will be quiet on Tuesday, though a weak system will develop over Texas with some showers and more will move into the West as well. Temperatures continue to be quite mild as we start the new year.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 29, 2023 |


December Rural Mainstreet Index Sank Creighton University’s Rural Mainstreet Index sank below growth neutral for a fourth-straight month in December. Based on a survey of bank CEOs in a ten-state region, the index rose to 41.7 from November’s 40.4. That’s still lower than October’s 44.4. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with 50 being growth neutral. Creighton University Economics Professor Ernie Goss says much of the rural economy is still getting pinched by higher interest rates. “Farming in the region is doing reasonably well,” Goss says. “However, agriculture sales abroad for the region are 14 percent lower.” Despite the fact that the Federal Reserve predicted possible rate cuts next year, bankers throughout the region still had somewhat of a pessimistic outlook for their region’s economy. “A little over 50 percent of the ag bankers say their area is in a recession right now or would be in the first half of 2024,” he adds. *********************************************************************************** U.S., Brazil Competitive Balance in Soybeans The U.S. and Brazil are major competitors when it comes to exporting soybeans around the world. USDA’s Economic Research Service did a comparison study to figure out how changes in factors underlying production, marketing costs, and infrastructure might affect export competitiveness. Among some of the key findings, the costs of production differed between the two, partially because Brazil relies on more custom services to provide equipment and labor in the field. U.S. farms tend to own their machinery. Average per-acre costs of producing soybeans per acre in Brazil were 19 percent below the U.S. in the marketing year 2021-2022 because of lower land and capital costs. Brazil’s producers had a higher national average return per bushel over total costs than the U.S. in 2021-2022 at $4.05 compared with $2.13. The U.S. Heartland was the lowest-cost exporter of soybeans. Parana in Brazil was the second-lowest shipper as it’s close to a port. *********************************************************************************** Minnesota Loses Almost 150 Dairies in 2023 Minnesota’s already-shrinking dairy sector lost another 58 dairy farm permits in November. That brings a total of 146 fewer dairy farmer permits at Christmas than the state had at the beginning of the year. While October, November, and December typically see dairy farms shut down, Minnesota Milk Producers Executive Director Lucas Sjostrom (SO-strom) says he hasn’t seen more than 50 in a single month for a long time. The numbers show just how razor-thin financial margins are under a crushing load of economic pressures. High input costs and low commodity values are squeezing margins only a year after the dairy industry was in the midst of higher prices for milk, cheese, and butter in the aftermath of COVID-19. Overall, Minnesota had a total of 1,825 permits as of December 1. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says the state had more than 4,000 dairy farms as recently as ten years ago. *********************************************************************************** USDA Lists 2023 Successes USDA looked back at 2023 and said it’s been able to help tens of thousands of farmers continue their operations and increase their revenue. The agency also connected rural communities with internet access, advanced efforts to mitigate climate change, made investments to help small businesses get a leg up, and lowered energy and other costs for consumers. As of December 1, USDA has helped more than 30,000 farmers and ranchers who were in financial distress stay on their farms and keep farming. Since the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law, the Farm Service Agency has provided nearly $1.7 billion and counting in immediate assistance to farmers in financial distress. At the same time, USDA greatly improved its loan application process to better serve farmers. In 2023, the Risk Management Agency helped provide the largest farm safety net in history at a total of $207 billion in protection for American agriculture. *********************************************************************************** Mormon Church Buys 370,000 Acres of Ranch Land The Mormon church has sparked some backlash from local farmers after snapping up about 370,000 acres of prime ranch land in Nebraska. The Utah-based religious organization now owns at least $2 billion worth of agricultural terrain across the country. It now owns an estimated $134 million worth of agricultural land in Nebraska and is on track to surpass CNN founder Ted Turner as the single largest landowner in the country. Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen told news outlets that the land grab was artificially driving up land prices and forcing out local farmers. “It’s not fair competition when folks bring in that much outside money and bid against local farmers and ranchers,” Hansen says. “They’ll become the number one landowner in the state if they continue this buying spree at the current rate.” The church is likely the largest landowner in Florida after buying almost 383,000 acres of timberland. *********************************************************************************** Slower Moving Markets to End the Year There hasn’t been much of a post-harvest rally to work with in the commodity markets. Successful Farming says fund traders are especially short in the corn market and slightly long in soybeans. December corn went off the board at nearly $4.60, and March is the new front month, which has been trading recently at the low end of its range at $4.70. There hasn’t been a lot of demand recently. On-again, off-again concerns over Brazil’s weather aren’t helping send the markets in a higher direction. Corn traders estimate a two-billion-bushel carryout, which should be more than enough supply. That’s kept any technical rallies in check. Soybean demand is improving, but traders remain more focused on Brazil’s weather, which looks to be improving early in 2024. While many forecasters have lowered Brazil’s harvest projections, they’re only down by 20 percent. The perception is that there will be enough soybeans to meet demand.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 29, 2023 |


Friday Watch List Markets There is a dearth of reports on Friday, with only the Chicago Business Barometer to be released. Traders will be watching South American weather closely, along with the delayed U.S. grain export sales to be released at 7:30 central time. Weather An area of scattered rain and snow showers in the Eastern Midwest will move into the Tennessee Valley Friday. High pressure will keep conditions mostly dry across the Plains and Western Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 28, 2023 |


Ag Economists’ 2024 Expectations Geopolitical factors, elections, and many other surprises await the agricultural economy in 2024. Farm Journal and Purdue University’s December Economists’ Monthly Monitor shows views slightly more optimistic than they were a month ago. The economists talked about what unexpected news headlines they wouldn’t be surprised to see in 2024. The responses include China falling into a big recession. They wouldn’t be surprised to see a second farm bill extension, corn prices that test four dollars again, and inflation will support managed money returning to the commodities. Record beef imports wouldn’t be a surprise, as well as a national corn yield bigger than 190 bushels per acre. There are also reasons for optimism like demand opportunities through domestic soybean crushing, renewable fuel, and sustainable aviation fuel. They’re looking for robust domestic consumption and an opportunity for competitive pricing for U.S. commodities in overseas markets. Many producers should still have strong balance sheets. *********************************************************************************** Bayer Wins Roundup Lawsuit in California Bayer was victorious in a California trial initiated by a man who claimed he had developed cancer from long-term exposure to the company’s Roundup weed killer. Reuters says that ended what had been a five-trial losing streak for the company in trials over similar claims. Bayer said the verdict was handed down by a jury in a California Superior Court late last week. In a statement, the company says the verdict was “consistent with the evidence in this case that Roundup does not cause cancer and is not responsible for the plaintiff’s illness.” Lawyers for plaintiff Bruce Jones didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Like most plaintiffs in other Roundup lawsuits, Jones claimed the product caused him to develop a form of cancer called Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Around 165,000 claims have been made against the company for personal injuries allegedly caused by Roundup, which Bayer acquired by purchasing Monsanto in 2018. *********************************************************************************** New Year’s Ag Innovation Trends As agriculture looks to 2024, AgriThority, a Kansas City company, put together its top ten trends for the new year. The company is seeing some consistency from prior years but some emerging trends as well. The first is a push for more biologicals and biostimulants, comparing them to what seed treatments were in the 1990s. The biostimulant market should reach $6.8 billion by 2028. They say climate-smart farming will get smarter as measurements behind the carbon market continue maturing. AgriThority says precision ag will continue evolving with the onset of AI. They do note that regulations are not evolving at the same rate as innovation in agriculture. The company’s top ten also says sustainability isn’t going away, plus soil health will continue evolving. Artificial intelligence will likely be more present in agriculture next year. They call 2024 a “shakeout year” as companies will make moves for the future as competition increases. *********************************************************************************** Food Spending Hit Record High in 2022 Whether real or inflation-adjusted, yearly food spending in the United States increased steadily from 1997 to 2022, except in 2008 and 2009 during the Great Recession and COVID in 2020. Food spending includes food at home, described as food intended for off-premises consumption from retailers like grocery stores. Spending also includes food away from home, described as food bought at outlets like restaurants or cafeterias. Total food spending increased 70 percent from 1997 to 2022. Food spending totaled $1.81 trillion during 2020. Between 1997 and 2022, food at home spending increased at a slower rate, 53 percent, than food away from home at 89 percent. Total food spending increased on a yearly basis by 7.2 percent in 2021 and 4.5 percent in 2022. Food away from home spending drove the overall increases in food spending. Food at home spending rose four percent in 2021 before falling two percent in 2022. *********************************************************************************** Grain Inspections Rise USDA data shows inspections of corn and wheat for offshore delivery increased week-to-week while soybean assessments dropped during the week ending on December 21. Corn inspections during those seven days rose to 1.98 million metric tons. That’s up from the previous week of almost 960,000 tons and the 922,000 inspected during the same week in 2022. Wheat assessments reached 428,700 tons, a sharp jump up from 285,000 tons the previous week. Soybean inspections fell to 1.07 million tons from 1.43 million during the prior week. That’s also down from the 1.79 million tons inspected during the same week last year. Since the start of the marketing year, USDA has inspected 11.2 million metric tons of corn, well ahead of last year. Soybean assessments are now at 22.3 million tons, down from 27.3 million last year. Wheat inspections now stand at 9.33 million tons, down from 11.8 million during last year. *********************************************************************************** USDA Continues Strengthening U.S. Food Supply Chains USDA’s Ag Marketing Service announced a cooperative agreement with Oklahoma under the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program. Through the agreement, USDA and Oklahoma are working to offer over $6.3 million in competitive grant funding for projects designed to build resilience across the middle of the supply chain. In May 2023, USDA announced the availability of up to $420 million through the RFSI program to strengthen local and regional food systems. “This partnership between USDA and Oklahoma is allowing critical funding to reach areas of the supply chain that need it most,” says Jenny Moffitt, USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Funded projects in Oklahoma will increase cold storage, expand distribution channels for food producers, and increase the number of co-packing options. “These projects will create new opportunities for the region’s small and midsize producers to thrive, expand access to nutritious food options, and increase supply chain resiliency,” Moffitt adds.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 28, 2023 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday morning's reports start with weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by pending U.S. homes sales at 9 a.m. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage is set for 9:30 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 10 a.m., including ethanol production. Weather Dry conditions will return across the Central and Southern Plains throughout the day while widespread rain and snow showers will build across the eastern Midwest and are expected to continue through Thursday night. Up to two inches of snow is likely across southern Wisconsin, eastern Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and eastern Indiana; however, isolated higher amounts up to 3-4 inches are possible.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 27, 2023 |


Ag Groups Pleased with Rail Re-Opening The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reopened the Eagle Pass and El Paso rail crossings into Mexico. Ag groups like the National Corn Growers Association were happy with the move but cautioned the agency against making similar decisions in the future. “This is certainly a welcome relief,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle. “We hope this serves as a cautionary tale against rail shutdowns in the future.” He also says rail is a key mode of transportation for U.S. ag exports into Mexico. U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers were also relieved the shutdown ended. “These rail corridors are essential gateways to many loyal flour millers and food customers in Mexico who rely on the interconnected U.S. and Mexican rail system for a reliable source of high-quality U.S. wheat,” they said in a statement. “We trust CBP will take the steps needed to avoid future rail closures.” *********************************************************************************** U.S. Hog Inventory Slightly Higher As of December 1, there were 75 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, up slightly from December 2022 and down slightly from September 1, 2023. That’s according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of those 75 million hogs and pigs, 69 million were market hogs while six million were kept for breeding. Between September and November 2023, 34.6 million pigs were weaned on U.S. farms. From September through November 2023, U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 11.66 pigs per litter. Hog producers intend to have 2.9 million sows farrow between December 2023 and February 2024, and 2.91 million sows farrow between March and May 2024. Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states with 24.9 million head. Minnesota had the second-largest inventory at 9.1 million head. North Carolina was third with a total of 7.8 million head. *********************************************************************************** USDA Ranks the World’s Largest Meat Customers China has been the world’s largest meat importer since 2019. Despite recent reductions in imported meat volumes, the country remains in the top spot. In 2022, China imported 43 percent more than Japan, the second-largest meat importer in the world. Mexico was third, followed by South Korea in fourth place. Issues such as disease, tougher laws addressing environmental issues, and an exodus of small-scale farmers have constrained China’s meat supply, boosting domestic prices and incentives to import. As China’s most consumed meat, pork tends to dominate Chinese meat supply and demand. China surpassed Japan to become the top meat importer after the African Swine Fever virus sharply reduced the country’s pork supply in 2019. China’s meat consumption appeared to peak in 2014, but statistical model projections say that meat consumption will continue to grow through 2031 based on trends like dietary change and moderate growth in Chinese income and prices. *********************************************************************************** USDA Accepting Applications for Climate Fellows The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is hiring 40 Climate Change Fellows to help with the record number of applications seeking funding for clean energy projects. Farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses are looking for the funds under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). These positions are part of the USDA Climate Change Fellows Program, which hires new staff with a range of skills to carry out USDA’s activities to address climate change and find solutions to agricultural challenges, enhance economic growth, and create new income streams for farmers, ranchers, and producers. The program brings expertise and fresh perspectives to the federal workforce and expands the climate consciousness of state offices across the country. The agency says the investments in future agricultural leaders will help USDA attract the best and brightest to face the growing challenges to the agricultural economy. For more information or to apply, go to usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** Italy Bans Sale of Lab-Grown Meat Italy is the first country to ban cultivated meat, the kind grown in laboratory bioreactors from stem cells. Under a new law put into effect last month, lab-grown meat cannot be produced or marketed in Italy. The country’s agricultural minister says Italy was proud to impose a ban like this one. Which country might be second on the list isn’t set in stone. Many other countries are allowing and even encouraging the technology to be developed. Singapore is the only country where its people are currently eating cell-based meat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have approved two kinds of cell-based chicken for human consumption. For regulators in most countries, the BBC says the top issue is food safety. Italy's ban grows out of concerns that may be of more interest to America’s farmers. The country is unashamedly trying to protect its food traditions and farmers. *********************************************************************************** Nebraska Governor Condemns UN Food Strategy Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen commended Nebraska Representative Mike Flood for introducing a resolution condemning the UN Food Strategy that was released at COP28. He says the strategy is bad for Nebraska and other agricultural states. “The UN’s radical attack on agriculture undermines the livelihoods of Nebraska farmers and ranchers as well as those in other states where agriculture is an economic driver,” Pillen says. “Anti-agriculture activism damages the world’s food system, and it hurts the hungry.” He also says farmers in and out of Nebraska raise their products using sustainable methods designed to protect the land and resources on which they rely. The COP28 report called for countries to revamp their farm subsidies to encourage healthier eating, prevent overgrazing of livestock, and eliminate food waste. The report also backed sugar taxes, which would apply to high-fructose corn syrup. It also calls for the promotion of plant-based alternatives to red meat.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 27, 2023 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders will continue to look for clues regarding the status of Brazil's soybean production, but trading is apt to be subdued this week, ahead of Monday's New Year holiday. There are no significant reports on Wednesday's docket and the Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be out at 10 a.m. CST Thursday. Weather A weakening low pressure system in the Central U.S. will continue to provide isolated to scattered rain and snow showers for the Northern and Central Plains as well as the Upper Midwest and Mid-Mississippi Valley Wednesday. Well-above normal temperatures will also persist in northern parts of the Midwest, with temperatures reaching up to 12-18 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 26, 2023 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Holiday Schedule Mixes Up Markets 1. Holiday market hours: Grain and livestock futures close normally on Dec. 22 and CFTC data is out that day as normal. There also are cattle on-feed, cold storage and hog inventory reports due at 2 p.m. on Dec. 22. Grain and livestock futures markets are closed Christmas Day. They open at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 26. The markets repeat that schedule for the New Year's holiday, open normally on Dec. 29, closed on New Year's Day and trading opens at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 2. In Canadian markets, there is no canola trade at the ICE on Dec. 26, Boxing Day. 2. Weather brings Christmas surprise: And the surprise is? Like any true present, it'll be unknown until the package is open, or in this case until the sun comes up. Weather models continue to be all over the board, some predicting snow and cold, some balmy sunshine. 3. Top 2023 ag stories: We'll continue our countdown of the 10 most critical stories in agriculture. As such things tend to be, many of them are still an issue as the year comes to a close. 4. Tax law updates: There are some new tweaks on depreciation and other tax-related rules for the 2024 season. Watch for our latest take on that. 5. Economic reports to watch: Monday markets are closed, so no USDA export inspections. Tuesday sees the U.S. consumer confidence report for December due out at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly report of export inspections at 10 a.m. Then Thursday sees U.S. weekly jobless claims and U.S. Drought Monitor update at 7:30 a.m., followed by pending U.S. homes sales at 9 a.m. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage is set for 9:30 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 10 a.m. On Friday, the USDA weekly export sales report is out at 7:30 a.m.; that's the only significant report of the final trading day of 2023.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 26, 2023 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Back from the three-day Christmas weekend, traders will catch up on South American weather and any other pertinent news before trading in grains and livestock futures resume at 8:30 a.m. CST Tuesday. A report on U.S. consumer confidence in December will be out at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly report of export inspections at 10 a.m. Canola futures on the ICE exchange are closed for Boxing Day. Weather A strong low pressure system in the central U.S. will continue to provide blizzard conditions across portions of the Northern and Central Plains today with freezing rain likely across the eastern Dakotas. Periods of rain will also continue across the Upper Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 22, 2023 |


Ag Groups Respond to Rail Suspension at U.S.-Mexico Border The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency was forced to suspend rail operations at key points into and out of Mexico. The move is to help alleviate the sharp increase in illegal immigration at the border. These actions affect U.S. corn and barley shipments, two commodities the U.S. Grains Council represents. The CBP is working with the Mexican government to remedy the situation as quickly as possible, but there’s no timeline for returning to normal operations. “The North American trading system relies on interconnectedness, and any disruption affects Mexican and U.S. Commodities,” says USGC Chair Ryan LeGrand. “It’s vital the situation gets resolved in a timely manner.” A letter from the NCGA says, “We are aware of trains sitting at origin in at least six states that are unable to move, and we expect that number to grow. Mexican customers are telling U.S. shippers that they’ll soon consider other suppliers.” *********************************************************************************** CattleCon24 Showcases Sustainability Efforts Caring for animals, conserving natural resources, and maintaining a viable business are critical components of transitioning cattle operations to future generations. Two unique sessions during CattleCon24 in Orlando, Florida, provide opportunities to share ideas and continue conversations about the importance of continuous improvement. A half-day Grazing Management Workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, January 30. A long list of experts will talk about the benefits of pasture and grazing management, assessing pasture conditions, forage growth, and many other topics. “Proper grazing management and a written grazing management plan are essential to the success, longevity, and profitability of forage-based cattle operations,” says Josh White of NCBA. Dr. Myles Allen, a professor at Oxford University, will be the keynote speaker during the Sustainability Forum on Thursday, February 1. Allen will demystify climate impacts from cattle production and equip producers with the knowledge and resources to effectively speak about cattle’s role in the climate conversation. *********************************************************************************** Eleven Percent of Americans are Food Insecure Food-insecure households have difficulty providing enough food for their members because they lack resources. USDA’s Economic Research Service monitors the extent of food insecurity in U.S. households at the national and state levels through an annual U.S. Census Bureau Survey. State-level estimates are obtained by averaging three years of data to generate a larger sample size in each state. This provides more precise estimates and more ability to detect differences across states. The national three-year average (2020-2022) was 11.2 percent of American households classified as food insecure. Of that 11.2 percent, findings ranged from 6.2 percent in New Hampshire to 16.6 percent in Alaska. Food insecurity was statistically significantly higher than the national average in six states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. The prevalence of food insecurity was statistically significantly lower in 17 states, including California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, and many others. *********************************************************************************** First Disability-Accessible Tractor Produced in Brazil CNH Industrial launched the world’s first tractor that’s accessible for people with lower limb disabilities. The New Holland TL5 was produced in Brazil and developed in partnership with several inclusive mobility companies. CNH also enlisted farmer and customer Fernando Dalmolin, who uses a wheelchair following an incident that left him without the use of his legs, to help with developing the tractor under the New Holland brand. “This is what people with disabilities like mine need to work independently out in the field,” Dalmolin said in a statement. The tractor has a unique lifting platform and joystick controls allow users to enter and exit the tractor without help. Once they’re inside the tractor, users can operate the tractor with adapted functionality. In the U.S., at least 634,000 farmers and ranchers have a disability, with many reporting physical limitations. Brazil estimates that 7.8 million of its people have lower limb disabilities. *********************************************************************************** USDA’s 2024 Ag Outlook Forum Packed with Information The USDA’s 100th annual Ag Outlook Forum is on February 15-16 in Arlington, Virginia. The event’s theme is “Cultivating the Future,” and features a lot of information farmers and agricultural stakeholders will find useful. USDA’s opening program at the event includes a chance to get valuable insights as USDA’s Chief Economist unveils the agency’s outlook for the domestic agricultural economy in the new year. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will highlight the history and evolution of agriculture in the U.S. while painting a vision for the future. It’s a chance to find out more about initiatives aimed at preserving farmland, protecting farmers, and creating new revenue streams for small and mid-sized producers. State leaders will share their perspectives on the future of agriculture and the challenges faced by producers. It’s also a chance to discover emerging technologies that are reshaping farming and creating exciting new opportunities today and in the future. *********************************************************************************** NCGA Applauds Nutrient Runoff Reduction The National Corn Growers Association applauds the sustained reductions in nutrient losses reaching the Gulf of Mexico. The reductions are shrinking the average size of the hypoxia zone, as recently documented in a task force report to Congress. NCGA commends all growers for the practical conservation steps and measures they have voluntarily adopted on their farms to reduce nutrient losses and protect water quality. “In the journey of water quality stewardship, we are encouraged by the strides made by growers,” says Bryan Biegler, NCGA Stewardship Action Team Chair. “The commitment to sustainable practices is clear, and despite challenging weather patterns impacting growers, we see definite progress taking form over the course of a five-year rolling average.” According to the report, the 2025 interim target to reduce nitrogen loads by 20 percent has been met. More work is needed to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous by 28 percent to meet the 2035 goal.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 22, 2023 |


Friday Watch List Markets Twas the last trading day before Christmas and all through the house… Friday's trading hours will be normal for grain and livestock futures, but we can't promise traders won't stir up mischief on what is traditionally a light-volume session. November reports of U.S. durable goods orders, U.S. personal income, consumer spending and the personal consumption expenditures index will all be released at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by November U.S. new home sales at 9 a.m. At 2 p.m. USDA will post the December 1 cattle on-feed, monthly cold storage and quarterly hogs and pigs reports. Weather A disturbance is moving out of the Plains and into the Midwest on Friday, bringing scattered rain showers. Two disturbances are moving into the West and will combine to create a big storm in the days surrounding Christmas. But temperatures will be quite warm, and records are likely to be broken in the Upper Midwest ahead of this storm.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 21, 2023 |


Movement on Unrestricted E15 Sales The National Corn Growers Association praised an EPA decision that advances the request of several governors to allow their states to sell E15 year-round to the Office of Management and Budget. The move now puts eight Midwestern states closer to year-round access to fuel with a 15 percent ethanol blend. “Allowing consumers to access higher blends of ethanol year-round will play a critical role in helping the country meet its ambitious climate goals,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says it’s a welcome step forward for farmers and drivers across the Midwest. “We’re grateful to the governors of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin for pushing for uninterrupted access to E15,” she says. The request has been in limbo after the oil industry warned the administration that allowing E15 sales in select states would cause supply chain issues and higher gasoline prices. *********************************************************************************** Justice Department, FTC approve 2023 Merger Guidelines Agribusiness mergers have been a concern for agriculture because they cut down on competition and lead to higher prices for things like inputs. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission issued the 2023 Merger Guidelines describing the factors and frameworks the agencies utilize when reviewing mergers and acquisitions. The new guidelines were released after a two-year process of public engagement and reflect modern market realities and the experience of participants in the marketplace. “These finalized guidelines provide transparency into how the Justice Department is protecting the American people from ways in which unlawful, anticompetitive practices manifest themselves in the modern economy,” says Attorney General Merrick Garland. The department also says that competitive markets and economic opportunity for all Americans go hand in hand. Garland was grateful to hear from authors, nurses, farmers, and other concerned citizens from across the country. “Merger enforcement will be better as a result,” he said. *********************************************************************************** Growers Appreciate Chlorpyrifos Restoration The Environmental Protection Agency announced it will restore the uses of chlorpyrifos and commit to a science-based review of the pesticide. Alan Meadows, an American Soybean Association director, was happy to hear the news. “We appreciate this announcement brought about by an Eighth Circuit Appeals Court decision,” he says. “EPA’s own science has repeatedly found there are at least 11 high-benefit, safe uses of chlorpyrifos, including for soybeans, a fact we will continue to remind the agency of throughout the process.” The announcement is consistent with a November decision from the Eighth Circuit Court that found EPA disregarded its own scientists’ findings by ending numerous uses of chlorpyrifos they determined were safe. American Sugarbeet Growers Association President Nate Hultgren says growers welcome the return of chlorpyrifos for the upcoming season. “Growers need tools like this to reduce economic harm stemming from pests and diseases and are committed to responsible stewardship,” Hultgren says. *********************************************************************************** MOU on Establishing Climate Corps Work is being done on the steps to advance the American Climate Corps, a landmark initiative announced by the President earlier this year. The initiative will train the next generation of clean energy, conservation, and climate resilience workers while putting them on a path to good-paying union jobs. As part of that commitment, seven federal agencies entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that will serve as a blueprint for the multi-agency program. The MOU lays out the mission, goals, priorities, and the next steps in implementing the American Climate Corps. Beginning in January, senior administration officials will also convene a series of virtual listening sessions to hear directly from prospective American Climate Corps applicants and implementing partners. Those partners can include labor unions, educational institutions, employer partners, and state, local, and tribal governments. Within the first three weeks of launching the Corps, over 40,000 people expressed an interest in joining it. *********************************************************************************** “Raised With Respect” Cattle Care Campaign Underway Respect for animals, land, and for each other is the foundation of a new campaign launched by Sysco, a food service distribution company, and Certified Angus Beef. The campaign called “Raised with Respect” centers on common ground found between cattle producers and beef consumers and focuses on animal welfare and beef sustainability. It was developed as part of a strategic cattle care partnership between Sysco and CAB. The collaboration will focus on supporting producers, equipping them with continuing education to stay current on best management practices, and helping to increase consumer confidence in U.S. beef production. Sysco and CAB are providing Beef Quality Assurance training and certification to farmers and ranchers in nine key beef-producing states. “BQA is a credible and effective way for producers to communicate animal welfare to people on the opposite end of the beef supply chain,” says Bruce Cobb, CAB executive vice president of production. *********************************************************************************** Wolves Reintroduced in Colorado Over Ranching Objections Hundreds of ranchers in Colorado are worried about several wolves that were airlifted into the state and released this week. Wolves were eradicated from Colorado in the 1940s. After three years and dozens of public hearing disagreements, the first handful of wolves were moved from Oregon into Colorado. “Just watching an animal leave the crate and run up the hillside is a majestic site,” says Eric Odell, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Species Conservation Manager. Many ranchers spent a lot of time in the Colorado statehouse fighting the wolf releases and in a federal courtroom last week. Several ranchers who spoke with public broadcasting in the state have gone shopping for the biggest guard dogs they can find. It’s not just farmers and ranchers objecting to the release, either. Tourism directors in several towns are worried and point out it’s another predator to watch out for with children and small animals.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 21, 2023 |


Thursday Watch List Markets At 7:30 CST, Initial Jobless Claims will be released along with the third quarter GDP revision at the same time. Traders will be closely watching Brazilian weather for any changes, for U.S. export sales to be released at 7:30 CST, and any new sales reported by the USDA. Weather A cutoff low-pressure center continues to spin off the coast of California but has pushed a small disturbance into the Plains for Thursday, bringing some showers mostly from Kansas to Texas. Warmth continues to be the big story for the middle of the country until the storm in the Southwest moves eastward this weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 19, 2023 |


ARC and PLC 2024 Enrollment is Open The USDA says agricultural producers can now enroll in the Farm Service Agency’s Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs for the 2024 crop year. Producers can enroll and make election changes for the 2024 crop year beginning on December 18, and the deadline to complete enrollment and any election changes is March 15, 2024. The current farm bill was extended through September 30, 2024, allowing authorized programs like ARC and PLC to continue operating. “It’s business as usual for ARC and PLC implementation for the 2024 crop year,” says Zach Ducheneaux, Farm Service Agency Administrator. “These programs provide critical financial protections against commodity market volatilities for many American farmers so don’t delay enrollment.” He also advises producers to avoid the rush and contact their local FSA Office for an appointment because even with no changes in program elections for next year, farmers still need to sign a contract to enroll. *********************************************************************************** Lawmakers Want More Time on New Rule The Congressional and Senate Chicken Caucuses sent letters to the USDA asking for a 180-day extension to the implementation period for the new Packers and Stockyards Act rule. The rule, titled “Transparency in Poultry Contracting and Tournaments,” included a 75-day compliance period when it was published in the Federal Register on November 28. That put the compliance date for broiler and processing companies on February 12, 2024. “The rule establishes numerous additional disclosure requirements, what provisions must be in contracts, introduces open-ended and novel definitions and terms, requires completely new oversight systems, and injects significant ambiguity regarding compliance,” the House letter says. The lawmakers requested USDA extend the implementation date by no less than 180 days to allow stakeholders and constituents time to thoroughly understand and comply with the rule’s many requirements. They say by providing only 75 days to implement the rule, USDA significantly underestimated the time required for implementation. *********************************************************************************** USDA Launches Risk Management Workshops USDA announced it will host more than a dozen in-person and virtual workshops this winter for producers to learn more about new and expanded livestock risk management products. The “Livestock Roadshow” will be hosted by the Risk Management Agency. It will highlight policy improvements based on feedback from America’s livestock producers as part of the agency’s broader outreach and education efforts. “Listening to farmers and ranchers is a top priority for RMA,” says administrator Marcia Bunger. “The Livestock Roadshow is one of our many efforts to provide outreach and education to America’s agricultural producers.” The roadshow will cover many topics, including annual forage, dairy revenue protection, livestock gross margin, livestock risk protection, and many others. To ensure producers across the country can attend an event, two virtual livestock shows are scheduled for January. Livestock producers can learn more by going to usda.gov or contacting a Risk Management Agency Regional Office. *********************************************************************************** Tighter Margins Ahead in 2024 Despite a drop in key operating costs, Rabobank says contracted margins in 2023 will continue into the new year. Soybean farmers are likely to achieve good margins in the 2024 season, but corn farmers will feel their margins pressured by ample supply. Wheat margins are unlikely to see better margins despite declining costs. Trends are indicating that the markets are at a pivotal point. Rabobank says uncertainty rises from factors like record Brazilian crops, more “adequate” crops in the U.S. and Europe, and expectations of another record crop in Brazil in 2024. Global domestic demand for key crops declined, which points to building stocks and lower prices. Weather challenges and geopolitical instability coupled with economic uncertainty prompt consideration of a risk premium in the market. Rabobank says corn exhibits the least upside potential, with wheat presenting the highest upside potential. Soybeans likely fall somewhere in between. Volatility is likely in 2024. *********************************************************************************** Midwest Crops Conference in January The annual Midwest Crops Conference is scheduled for January 2024 in St. Joseph, Missouri. Formerly the “Certified Crops Advisor Conference,” the two-day event targets people looking for Continuing Education Units, including crop advisors, ag industry professionals, and farmers. “This workshop will provide in-depth discussion on several topics to help agricultural professionals enhance their crop production recommendations to farmers,” says Denice Ferguson, a member of the conference committee. Researchers and experts in crop production from the University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, Kansas State University, and Iowa State University will present up-to-date information from their areas of expertise. “Anyone advising or managing an agricultural operation or serving the ag industry knows that research and technology is driving this sector,” Ferguson says. “Advancements in agronomy, pest management, and crop technologies bring improvements to farmers’ yields, efficiency, and risk management.” The conference will offer 15.5 hours of Continuing Education Units for Certified Crop ‘Advisors. *********************************************************************************** New Members Lead AFB National Committees Farm Bureau farmer and rancher members play an important role in their communities and the organization by serving at the local, state, and national levels. Several newly appointed volunteers will provide leadership beginning in 2024 as members of the AFB’s Young Farmers and Ranchers and Promotion and Education Committees. These newly appointed national committee members will focus on advancing the mission of the American Farm Bureau and working to build trust with consumers and others while sharing agriculture’s story,” says American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “Farm Bureau members bring a big level of commitment and care to their communities, and as engaged grassroots leaders, they’ll have a big impact.” The YF and R Committee plans programming that includes coordinating the Young Farmer and Rancher competitive events at the national convention in January. The Promotion and Education Committee develops resources to inspire and equip the Farm Bureau to convey agriculture’s importance.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 19, 2023 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Trading may be quiet on the Tuesday before Christmas as the only significant report on the docket is November U.S. housing starts, set for 7:30 a.m. CST. Traders will keep close watch on the weather forecasts for Brazil. Weather With lake-effect showers moving into the Northeast and a trough situated off the West Coast, it will be quieter across most of the country for Tuesday. A brief burst of cooler air will be replaced by warmth from the west while showers will continue along the West Coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 18, 2023 |


Good News for the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Industry The U.S. Treasury Department will use a modified version of the GREET model as a measurement to determine reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The agency will use the model as it allocates tax credits for sustainable aviation fuels under the Inflation Reduction Act. The National Corn Growers Association was pleased to hear the Treasury’s decision. “Given that GREET was created by the government and is widely respected for its ability to measure reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the farm to the plane, we’re encouraged by this,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle. “We’re eager to help the aviation industry reduce its carbon footprint and look forward to helping ensure the final model helps achieve that goal.” GREET, which stands for the Greenhouse Gasses, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation, was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy to measure greenhouse emissions from the field to the car or plane. *********************************************************************************** Specialty Crop Growers Reminded to Apply for Assistance The USDA reminds specialty crop growers that assistance is available for producers who incur eligible on-farm food safety program expenses. The expenses are part of the process for obtaining or renewing a food safety certification through the Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops program. “The program is one of the many ways USDA helps support local and regional food systems and opportunities for small-scale producers,” says Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “I’m encouraging all specialty crop growers to discover how this program can help mitigate the costs of on-farm food safety certification, meet regulatory requirements, and apply by the January deadline.” Eligible operations must grow specialty crops, meet the definition of a small business, and have paid eligible expenses related to the 2023 certification. The application for 2023 closes January 31, 2024, and FSA will issue payments after the application period closes. For more information, growers should visit farmers.gov. *********************************************************************************** CoBank Releases 2024 Year Ahead Report Lingering high prices are expected to take a bigger toll on the economy in 2024. CoBank says the biggest problem for farm margins heading into 2024 is the elevated cost of production. While fertilizer prices have fallen, other production costs remain high. However, ag commodities will benefit from more upside price risk than down in 2024. Global grain and oilseed stock inventories are tight by historic measures, and the northern hemisphere will likely have a strong El Niño weather pattern during the growing season for the first time since 2015. The dollar will likely continue its recent decline, and global demand should return to a long-term growth trend. Also, the renewable diesel boom and the smaller U.S. soybean harvest of 2023 will drive an expansion of soybean acreage next year. Profitability for the livestock sector should modestly improve in 2024 as lower feed costs and domestic demand offset weak global exports. *********************************************************************************** State Ag Officials Oppose Beef Imports from Paraguay Ag officials in several of America’s top beef-producing states say federal officials didn’t properly assess the risk of disease when deciding to allow beef imports from Paraguay to resume. USDA recently ended a 25-year prohibition on those imports. The prohibition was the result of Paraguay’s difficulty in ridding itself of foot and mouth disease. A severe outbreak in the U.S. has the potential to cost more than $200 billion. South Dakota Searchlight says beef industry groups and some lawmakers have opposed the move, saying the risk analysis was based on outdated information. Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, and officials from seven other states wrote a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to consider pausing the decision until a more reliable risk assessment can be completed based on modern visits to Paraguay. Ag officials from Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming all signed the letter to Vilsack. *********************************************************************************** FCA Board Receives Quarterly Report on Ag Economic Conditions The Farm Credit Administration received a quarterly report on economic issues affecting agriculture and an update on the financial condition and performance of the Farm Credit System. Rising interest rates have negatively impacted many of the finance-heavy sectors, including commercial real estate, banking, and farming. While many agricultural inputs are considerably less costly than last year, profit margins for many farmers are tighter this year. Crop producers continue to see lower commodity prices, especially for corn and wheat, compared to a year ago. Further price risk stems from lower water levels in key waterways used to transport cash grains. Profit margins for some livestock and specialty crop producers are tighter due to weak commodity prices. The System reported solid financial results through the first nine months of 2023. System growth has slowed in 2023 against a backdrop of higher interest rates and tighter margins in a number of agricultural sectors. *********************************************************************************** December 2023 Livestock Outlook The USDA’s December Livestock Outlook says higher cow slaughter and heavier-than-assumed carcass weights will offset lower fed cattle slaughter in the fourth quarter of 2023. That will leave the beef production forecast for 2023 unchanged. Expected heavier carcasses will carry over into early 2024 along with higher cow slaughter. Fourth-quarter pork production was raised 25 million pounds to 7.09 billion pounds, 2.4 percent higher than during the same period last year. Hog prices are expected to average $54 per hundredweight for the quarter, 15 percent lower than the fourth quarter of 2022. First-quarter hog prices are lowered by $1 per hundredweight to $56 as soft consumer pork demand is likely to persist, limiting hog price increases. Lamb and mutton import forecasts are lower in the December report compared to the previous month. In poultry, projected broiler production is adjusted higher for the fourth quarter of 2023 based on strong production in October.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 18, 2023 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Cattle Markets and South American Weather 1. Cattle prices and LRP: The conversation around what's going on in cattle markets continues and our analysts and journalists continue to follow the trail this week, with reports from cattle meetings and conversations with producers, traders and the insurance industry. 2. Big stories in 2023: We'll kick off our annual review of the 10 most influential ag stories in 2023 this week. We'll look at weather events, financial surprises and at the things that didn't happen, but should have. Look for our Top 10 story lines through the end of the year, leading up to the story we think was the most critical. 3. More from yield contests: The big news last week was Virginia farmer David Hula's record-breaking corn yield of 623.8439 bushels per acre. We'll have more tales from this year's yield contests both on the DTN platforms, and in the February issue of Progressive Farmer. I 4. Eyes remain on South America: While corn farmers got an early Christmas present with the guidance decision affecting sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) tax credits, which could be a pivotal moment for the ethanol industry, the markets are still watching crop growth in South America. Weather models continue to show favorable conditions through January for much of Brazil and Argentina. 5. Economic reports to watch: On Monday, USDA's weekly grain export inspections report hits at 10 a.m., just after the latest government home builder confidence index at 8 a.m. Then Tuesday kicks off with the 7:30 a.m. release of housing starts and building permits. Wednesday, the latest EIA petroleum report hits 10 a.m., which includes ethanol production and inventory. The Energy Department's weekly inventory report is at 9:30 a.m. Existing home sales is scheduled to be released at 9 a.m. On Thursday, we see the USDA weekly export sales report at 7:30 a.m., the same time as weekly initial U.S. jobless claims. The third-quarter GDP report is released at 7:30 a.m., with latest leading economic indicators at 9 a.m. Finally, Friday is a busy report day, with durables-goods orders for November followed by personal income and spending data for November, all released at 7:30 a.m. New home sales will be released at 9 a.m. The latest Cattle-on-Feed and a Hogs and Pigs report are released after market close.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 18, 2023 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will continue to keep watch over South American weather with rain expected to return to central Brazil this week. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is set for 10 a.m. The bulk of this week's reports will fall on Thursday and Friday, ahead of the Christmas holiday. Weather A strong storm system built up across the East Coast over the weekend and is pushing through the Northeast on Monday. Behind it, a quick burst of cooler air is moving through the Midwest and down into the Southeast, where it will be cooler for a few days starting Tuesday. The cooler air will mean lake-effect snow around the Great Lakes for today. Another cutoff low-pressure center will bring showers to the West Coast as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 15, 2023 |


Whole Milk on School Menus Gets Through House The National Milk Producers Federation applauded the House of Representatives for passing the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act. The act expands the variety of healthy milk options schools can choose to serve. “Expanding the milk schools can choose to serve to include Two Percent and Whole Milk is a commonsense solution that will help ensure kids have access to the same healthy options they get at home,” says NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. The American Farm Bureau was also happy with the news. In a letter to Congress, AFBF told members that nine out of 10 children aren’t consuming enough dairy to meet their nutritional needs. The act will allow kids to get access to protein, calcium, and vitamins at important times in their development. House Ag Chair GT Thompson introduced the bill and said he looks forward to restoring access to these nutritious beverages in schools across the country. *********************************************************************************** Iowa Land Value Study Shows a Four Percent Rise in Prices Farmland values in Iowa rose again but at a slower pace than the two previous years. The annual Iowa State University Land Value Survey found that farmland values increased 3.7 percent, or $424, to $11,835 per acre. That increase follows a larger 17 percent increase in 2022 and a near-record 29 percent in 2021. The study showed several factors behind the surge last year contributed to the rising prices in 2023. The Federal Reserve has used interest rate hikes to help curb inflation rates, and future increases will continue to slow the growth in farmland values, but not immediately. The Iowa State study says it will take a couple of years for interest rates to be reflected in farmland values. The impact of the aggressive rate hikes in 2022 is expected to be felt more strongly in 2024 and beyond. That will mean more modest growth or lower land prices ahead. *********************************************************************************** Purdue Consumer Survey Deals with Food Concerns The Purdue University Consumer Food Insights is a monthly survey conducted by the Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability. The information is used to track trends and changes in consumer food demand and food sustainability behaviors. The November survey dealt with several food safety topics. Among the many findings, most consumers associate “Best if Used By” and “Use-By” food date labels with food safety rather than food quality. The perceived risk of foodborne illnesses is higher in restaurants than in food prepared at home. Consumers are also more likely to believe raw meats pose a higher risk of containing foodborne bacteria than other food times. Risk-averse consumers ate more food cooked at home than risk-loving consumers. Risk-loving consumers reported eating unwashed produce, rare or undercooked meats, and raw dough or batter more frequently than risk-averse or risk-neutral consumers. Food insecurity dropped slightly for the fifth straight month to 12.8 percent. *********************************************************************************** Groups File Action Against Glyphosate New legal action would require the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately suspend and cancel glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. A petition filed by the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, and four farmworker advocacy groups says glyphosate’s registration is illegal. A lawsuit filed by the same groups last year saw a federal appeals court strike down EPA’s human health assessment because the agency wrongfully calculated glyphosate’s cancer risk. The new petition calls for the cancellation and suspension of glyphosate’s registration, contains more than 70 pages and includes more than 200 scientific citations. Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in the world, with about 300 million pounds applied every year in the U.S. The groups say EPA has declined to act despite studies, including those sponsored by Monsanto, that show glyphosate has harmful effects on the liver, kidney, and reproductive system. They also say it’s a probable immune system carcinogen. *********************************************************************************** USDA Opens Applications for Discrimination Assistance Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs before January 2021 may be eligible for Discrimination Financial Assistance. It’s a new program and an important step in delivering on USDA’s commitment to providing financial assistance to those who have faced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs. The deadline to apply is January 13, 2024. Borrowers can apply online or with a paper form. The application process isn’t first come, first served. All applications received or postmarked before the January 13 deadline will be considered. Filing an application is free and doesn’t require a lawyer. On the website, applicants can get information on how to obtain technical assistance in person or virtually and additional resources and details about the program. If you have concerns about working with USDA based on past experiences, USDA partnered with community-based organizations to conduct outreach to underserved groups. For information, go to 22007apply.gov. *********************************************************************************** GHG Mitigation Strategies for the Sheep Industry A new resource outlining best practices for the U.S. Sheep industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is now available. The resource summarizes findings in an Environmental Footprint Study from Michigan State University. Many of the practices align with the Lamb Crop Best Practices developed to improve on-farm productivity and profitability. Reducing lamb loss, breeding ewes earlier, and optimal nutrition practices are all areas where producers can maximize productivity while reducing GHG emissions. “It’s encouraging that producers can implement sound practices that have been proven to help with productivity while reducing our environmental footprint,” says American Lamb Board Chair Peter Camino. “Sheep producers have long stewarded their lands, but seeing strategies that make sense for both productivity and sustainability is encouraging.” Other strategies include proper fertilizer use, improved manure management, using renewable resources, and adopting new grazing opportunities. The full report or the summary of the findings can be downloaded at lamboard.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 15, 2023 |


Friday Watch List Markets On Friday, the Federal Reserve releases its report on U.S industrial production at 8:15 a.m. CST. The National Oilseeds Processors Association releases its estimate of members' soybean crush in November at 11 a.m. and grain traders continue to keep watch over South American weather forecasts. Weather A storm system in the Plains will move east through the middle of the country on Friday with areas of showers. Much of this will be rain, though some snow will be possible across the north from North Dakota through northern Wisconsin. Even with the system moving through, temperatures continue to be warm by December standards.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 14, 2023 |


Attempt to Overturn Beef Imports from Paraguay Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) will file a Congressional Review Act resolution that would overturn the decision to lift a long-standing ban on beef imports from Paraguay. Both senators say the Biden administration made the wrong decision. “Resuming beef imports from a country with a recent history of foot and mouth disease is bad news for consumers and producers,” Tester says. Rounds says U.S. farmers produce the world’s safest, highest quality, and most affordable beef. USDA’s decision to resume imports relies on an analysis completed in 2018, and American inspectors haven’t been in the country since 2014. In addition to suspending beef imports from Paraguay, the bipartisan bill would also require establishing a working group to evaluate the threat to food safety and animal health posed by Paraguayan beef. The bipartisan legislation is supported by R-CALF USA, the United States Cattlemen’s Association, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. *********************************************************************************** Ag Groups Concerned About PNTR Repeal A coalition of agricultural organizations representing farmers sent a letter to the U.S. Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party regarding Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. The committee is considering recommending that Congress repeal China’s PNTR status, and the groups say the impact would have sharply negative consequences. “We respectfully urge the committee not to recommend revoking China’s PNTR status,” the groups say in the letter. “The negative consequences for American farmers, ranchers, and food producers would be profound, and the economic impact on American workers and rural communities would be felt for many years.” They also point out that China is now the largest buyer of U.S. food and agricultural products, purchasing 19 percent of U.S. exports. “These ag exports are critical to America’s farmers and rural communities,” they wrote. Additionally, they say retaliatory tariffs in 2018 and 2019 led to losing billions in states across the U.S. *********************************************************************************** USDA to Start Issuing Pandemic Assistance Payments USDA will begin issuing more than $223 million in Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program payments. These payments will help producers who suffered a decrease in allowable gross revenue due to COVID-19 for the 2020 calendar year. Eligible applicants must have been in the farming business during at least part of the 2020 calendar year and had a 15 percent or greater decrease in allowable gross revenue for the 2020 calendar year as compared to a baseline year. PARP benefits help address gaps in previous assistance, which was targeted at price loss or lack of market access rather than overall revenue losses. “PARP payments mark the delivery of the final suite of assistance programs provided by the Farm Service Agency and are also one of the first times that the agency delivered a program focused on revenue decreases,” says FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. For more information, contact your local USDA Service Center. *********************************************************************************** Collaboration, Momentum at Sustainable Agriculture Summit Barbara O’Brien, president and CEO of Dairy Management Inc., spoke about challenges facing agriculture during the Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina. With challenges like a growing global population that needs more food, significant geopolitical challenges, and many others, she says, “We need to take a more thoughtful approach to building resilient food systems, and agriculture must be at the forefront.” The Summit was co-hosted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and several other national ag organizations to convene the collective food and agriculture value chain to learn, develop, and advance a shared vision for a sustainable and resilient U.S. food system. One highlight of the Sustainable Ag Summit included producers in different U.S. ag sectors sharing how they approach sustainability on their farms. They talked about the successes and challenges in making sustainability gains and the need to safeguard producer livelihood in the context of environmental stewardship. *********************************************************************************** Global Corn Production Rises Global coarse grain production is projected as higher due to higher production forecasts for Ukraine, Russia, and the EU, which are partly offset by a reduction for Mexico. Barley production in Canada and Australia is also projected higher. Coarse grain exports for the October-September trade year increased by 2.3 million tons. The increased global exports are predominantly due to larger corn export forecasts for the U.S. and Ukraine, and larger forecasts for Australian and Canadian barley. Mexico is expected to take in more corn imports, and China will boost barley imports. The U.S. feed grain forecast is unchanged at 400 million metric tons. Total feed grain supply is 439.4 million metric tons. Strong corn exports and healthy outstanding sales, particularly to Mexico, contribute to a 25 million bushel increase in the 2023-2024 U.S. corn export forecast. The corn and sorghum season-average prices remain unchanged, but barley and oats prices will rise. *********************************************************************************** NCGA Announces Corn Yield Contest Winners The National Corn Growers Association announced the winners of the 2023 National Corn Yield Contest. The group of farmers had impressive yields and proved the ingenuity and resilience of U.S. farmers. In its 59th year, the National Corn Yield Contest saw almost 7,000 entries from farmers in 46 states. Of the 10 production categories, Class J had verified yields averaging 269 bushels an acre. The yields included a national record of 623.8 bushels per acre from David Hula of Virginia, beating the previous record of 619.1 bushels per acre. “Year after year, the National Corn Yield Contest remains the most popular program for NCGA members,” says Harold Wolle, NCGA president. “It’s an opportunity for farmers across the country to put their skills to the test and show the true craftsmanship it takes to grow a successful crop.” A complete list of the 2023 National and State winners is available at ncga.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 14, 2023 |


Thursday Watch List Markets One day after the Federal Reserve said it expects lower interest rates in 2024, USDA's weekly export sales report will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday, the same time as reports on weekly U.S. jobless claims, retail sales in November and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage follows at 10 a.m. USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry outlook is set for 2 p.m. Weather A small cutoff low in the Four Corners area will continue to produce some waves of showers in the Southwestern Plains for Thursday, being heavy in some areas. That includes snow that could be quite heavy in some areas. The rest of the country will be warm and dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 13, 2023 |


Grassley, Baldwin, Ernst Team Up to Bring Transparency to Fertilizer Market Senators Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst and Tammy Baldwin are leading a bipartisan push to shed light on market factors driving the cost of fertilizer. Iowa Republicans Grassley and Ernst, along with Wisconsin Democrat Baldwin, have introduced the Fertilizer Research Act. The legislation would require the Department of Agriculture to study competition and trends in the fertilizer market to determine their subsequent impacts on price. Grassley says, "With fertilizer being one of the ag industry's highest input costs, it's problematic farmers have such a limited window into market fluctuations." Within one year of the bill's passage, the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the Economic Research Council, would be required to issue a report on USDA's website regarding the U.S. fertilizer industry. The report would include a description of impacts on the fertilizer market that influence price, market trends in the past 25 years, and impacts of anti-dumping and countervailing duties, among other research items. *********************************************************************************** USDA Releases December Oil Crops Outlook USDA’s monthly Oil Crops Outlook for December reduced Brazil’s production forecast for marketing year 2023/24 by 2.0 million metric tons to 161.0 million metric tons on lower yield. Yield is forecast at 3.53 metric tons per hectare, down one percent from last month’s forecast and two percent below last year’s record yield. Harvested area is forecast at a record 45.6 million hectares, unchanged from last month and up 1.3 million hectares from last year. The shrinking prospects for Brazil’s soybean production have increased the value of U.S. soybeans. In November, soybean cash prices at country elevators in Central Illinois increased by $0.68 per bushel to $13.08 per bushel. Throughout the country, cash prices rallied above $13.00 per bushel by the middle of November and then prices declined to an average of $12.67 per bushel in the first week of December. Despite the gains, the forecast for average soybean price received by farmers for 2023/24 is unchanged this month at $12.90 per bushel as prices have begun to decline in December. *********************************************************************************** USDA’s Alexis Taylor to Lead Trade Mission to the Republic of Korea Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Alexis Taylor, will lead an agribusiness trade mission to Seoul, South Korea, on March 25 - 28, 2024. USDA is inviting U.S. exporters wishing to participate in this trade mission to submit their applications. Taylor says, "We see tremendous potential for growth as the demand for health and fitness, ready-to-eat, and convenience products is growing, providing a great opportunity for U.S. exporters to expand their sales in the region." The trade mission will offer U.S. agribusinesses the potential to increase or expand their food and agricultural exports to the region. While in Seoul, participants will engage in two days of business-to-business meetings with potential importers, processors and distributors. Additionally, attendees will receive in-depth market briefings from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and industry trade experts. U.S. exporters who wish to participate in this agribusiness trade mission must apply online by December 18, 2023. *********************************************************************************** Report: 2 million Participants Could be Turned Away From WIC More than two months into fiscal year 2024, Congress has yet to provide additional funding for hunger programs. Additional funding is for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children program in 2024, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. WIC's funding needs have grown due to higher-than-expected participation and food costs. Congress has fully funded WIC for more than 25 years. If Congress fails to do so and continues WIC's current funding level for the rest of the fiscal year, WIC will face a roughly $1 billion shortfall. The Center estimates that as a result, states would need to reduce WIC participation by about two million participants nationwide by September. If Congress extends the current funding level rather than fully funding WIC, USDA could take measures to protect the program. But the authority is limited and could only close roughly half of a $1 billion shortfall. The Center adds, "Congress must fully fund WIC to avoid jeopardizing the health of about two million very young children and pregnant or postpartum adults." *********************************************************************************** Food Insecurity in U.S. Households with Older Adults Increased in 2022 In 2022, 9.1 percent of U.S. households with adults aged 65 and older were food insecure at some time during the year. The prevalence of food insecurity in households with adults aged 65 and older in 2022 was statistically significantly higher than the 7.1 percent in 2021 and the 6.9 percent in 2020. USDA’s Economic Research Service monitors the food security status of households in the United States through an annual nationwide survey. In 2022, 11.4 percent of households with an adult aged 65 and older living alone were food insecure, statistically significantly higher than the prevalence in 2021 of 9.5 percent and in 2020 of 8.3 percent. Very low food security is a more severe form of food insecurity in which the food intake of some household members was reduced. The 2022 prevalence of very low food security in households with adults aged 65 and older was 3.4 percent, compared to 2.8 percent in 2021. The data was released this month in USDA’s Household Food Security in the United States in 2022. *********************************************************************************** USDA Signs Agreement with AFA to Prepare Young People for Careers in Agriculture Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Agriculture Future of America. The MOU formalizes a partnership to promote the common goals of strengthening the future competitiveness and sustainability of the U.S. agriculture industry by preparing more young people for careers in agriculture. Vilsack says, “This partnership will enhance USDA’s involvement with AFA and its leadership development and education mission.” USDA and AFA will continue to collaborate on leadership development efforts, and link young leaders with career opportunities in food, agricultural science, natural resources, and related fields. Under the MOU, USDA commits to advancing opportunities for AFA delegates to participate in USDA programs, including internships. AFA will provide occasions for USDA to meet with AFA delegates to share information about these opportunities. AFA President and CEO Mark Stewart adds, “This agreement reinforces our belief that connecting young leaders with USDA initiatives will enrich their careers and contribute to a more resilient and competitive agriculture industry.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 13, 2023 |


Wednesday Market Watch Markets The U.S. Labor Department's producer price index will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Wednesday, followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol production. The Federal Reserve will make its announcement on interest rates at 1 p.m. with economic projections also expected. Attention on South American weather remains a given, this time of year. Weather A cutoff low-pressure system is building waves of showers into the southwestern Plains on Wednesday morning, which will spread through Colorado to West Texas. It will be just cold enough in some areas to produce snow, especially late this afternoon through midday Thursday. The system will be a slow-mover, creating some heavy precipitation in the region that should help out with the remaining drought.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 12, 2023 |


USDA Projects Create Economic Opportunity in Underserved Rural and Native Communities The Department of Agriculture Monday announced more than 200 projects to improve infrastructure, housing and economic conditions for underserved rural and Native American communities. These projects are funded by a Department of Agriculture's $81 million investment. USDA is investing in several programs designed to bring federal funding and resources to people and communities in underserved rural areas. The projects will benefit hundreds of thousands of people in 42 states, Puerto Rico and the Marshall Islands. USDA Rural Development also unveiled two new web resources that underscore the agency’s mission to ensure all people have equitable access to federal programs. A new history webpage traces USDA Rural Development’s evolution from the Great Depression and New Deal to the present. Meanwhile, the Rural Partners Network has brought together a coalition of 24 federal agencies that offer programs and funding designed specifically for rural communities. A new feature on Rural.gov makes it easier to find these federal resources in one place. *********************************************************************************** Despite Rising Wage Rate, Farmers Must Rely on H-2A Program New data from the American Farm Bureau Federation shows H-2A usage reached new highs in fiscal year 2023. The Market Intel report says that comes despite an increase in the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, which outpaced the hourly wage growth rate of all private employees. This increase in both demand for workers and wage rate continues to put stress on the bottom lines of farmers and ranchers. The data shows the total number of certified H-2A positions at 378,513, an increase of two percent over fiscal year 2022. While this is a slower rate of increase than in years past, the number of positions certified is still up by more than 100,000 workers compared to fiscal year 2020. This is coupled with a nearly 19 percent increase in the required wage rate since fiscal year 2020, causing labor to be one of the costliest aspects of doing business for farmers and ranchers. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “This data shows how important and urgent it is that we get a workable fix for the H-2A program and the AEWR.” *********************************************************************************** Population and Income Drive World Food Production Projections The global agriculture system will be expected to provide more food as the world's population increases. To better understand how the world agriculture system may grow in response by 2050, researchers at USDA’s Economic Research Service created a range of scenarios based on population growth. Under medium population growth, production worldwide would have to increase to 14,060 trillion crop calories to feed 9.75 billion people in 2050. This is a 47-percent increase in crop calories from a 2011 baseline. Crop calories, the total calories available from crops, are a measure of the size of global agriculture since crops can be either consumed directly as food or fed to animals to be consumed as meat, dairy products, and eggs. In a high population growth scenario, 15,410 trillion crop calories would be needed to feed 10.8 billion people, a 61-percent increase in calories from the 2011 baseline. With both the medium and high population growth scenarios, researchers assumed that as per capita incomes rise, people would increase their overall consumption of calories. *********************************************************************************** Changing Climate Means More Pests for Almonds, Peaches, Walnuts Department of Agriculture research shows climate change may increase the insect population that poses a threat to the specialty crops industry. Led by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the University of California, the research shows populations of three major insect pests – codling moth, peach twig borer and oriental fruit moth — are projected to increase mainly due to rising temperatures. The three pests are "notorious for infesting most of the walnut, almond and peach orchards of California, causing extensive damages by reducing quality of fruits and nuts,” researchers say. Climate change can lead to shifts in the timing of seasons, including warmer winters, earlier springs and hotter summers, and these conditions can disrupt the natural life cycles of pests. The study revealed that due to temperature increases, these insects are expected to appear up to 28 days earlier in the spring, and the time between generations is expected to shorten by up to 19 days. The changes may be gradual, with major changes noticed within 20 years. *********************************************************************************** New Board Members Announced for National FFA Foundation Sponsors’ Board The National FFA Foundation announced its new chair for the Sponsors’ Board during the 96th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis this fall. Mary Snapp, vice president of strategic initiatives for Microsoft, was named chair for the upcoming year. Snapp grew up in rural Kansas and joined Microsoft in 1988 as the company’s first female attorney. The National FFA Sponsors’ Board is made up of top corporate executives who wish to support agricultural education and the National FFA Organization. Six other new board members were announced. Those include Jackie Bailey, senior vice president of transportation for CHS Inc.; John Barton, chief financial officer for Ardent Mills; Mel Halkyard, vice president, of global digital transformation for Elanco Animal Health; Jim Krombach, director of quality assurance for Culvers Franchising System, LLC; Clint Mefford, head of U.S. livestock communications and marketing operations for Zoetis; and Joe Michaels, senior director of product portfolio planning for Kubota North America. These members will serve on the board for three years. *********************************************************************************** Fuel Prices Post 12 Weeks of Decline For the 12th consecutive week, the nation's average price of gasoline declined, falling 9.6 cents from a week ago to $3.12 per gallon. The national average is down 23.7 cents from a month ago and 10.1 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average diesel price fell 8.4 cents in the last week and stands at $4.10 per gallon— 86 cents lower than one year ago. GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan says, "With nearly 80,000 gas stations in the U.S. now priced below $3 per gallon, and 23 states also seeing average prices of $2.99 or less, motorists are getting substantial relief at the pump in time for the holidays." The trend is likely to continue in most states this week, while the national average could soon fall below $3.05 per gallon, the lowest since 2021. Oil prices continue to struggle under the weight of a global economic slowdown, seeing consumption decrease, while oil production has risen in the United States, Canada, and other non-OPEC producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 12, 2023 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department issues the consumer price index for November at 7:30 a.m. CST Tuesday. The Federal Reserve starts its two-day meeting with many expecting the federal funds rate to stay unchanged at Wednesday's conclusion. Traders continue to keep close watch on South American weather with an interest in soybean crop estimates for Brazil. Weather Much of the country is quiet early on Tuesday, though there is a disturbance building across the Southwest. That system will move into the Southern Plains Tuesday night and start to spread showers through Texas. The main punch of the storm will be from Wednesday through Friday, which could culminate in heavy precipitation for areas still wrestling with drought.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 11, 2023 |


December WASDE Lowers Corn Stocks, Increases Exports The World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates from USDA show the 2023-2024 U.S. corn outlook calling for higher exports and lower ending stocks. Exports rose 25 million bushels to 2.1 billion, reflecting the pace of sales and shipments to date. Corn ending stocks dropped 25 million bushels to 2.1 billion. The season-average corn price is unchanged at $4.85 a bushel. Soybean supply and use projections are unchanged from November, and the season-average soybean price forecast remains $12.90 a bushel. USDA reduced Brazil’s soybean production by two million tons to 161 million because of dry weather. The U.S. wheat outlook is for unchanged supplies and domestic use, higher exports, and reduced ending stocks. Exports rose 25 million bushels to 725 million. All-wheat ending stocks dropped 25 million bushels to 659 million, 13 percent above 2022. The season-average farm price is up a dime per bushel at $7.30 on lower projected ending stocks. *********************************************************************************** Beef Exports Show Modest Rebound U.S. pork exports posted another strong performance in October, led by record-breaking shipments to Mexico and broad-based growth elsewhere. October pork exports totaled 245,345 metric tons, up three percent year-over-year and the largest since June. The value reached $688.2 million, down two percent from 2022. Shipments to Mexico reached new highs in both volume and value. For the first 10 months of 2023, pork exports were up nine percent from last year at 2.38 million metric tons, with value up six percent to $6.66 billion. Beef exports totaled 104,446 metric tons in October, down 17 percent from last year but six percent above the low volume in September. Export value reached $636 million, down 11 percent from last year but five percent above September. January-October U.S. beef exports reached 1.08 million metric tons, down 13 percent from the record pace of 2022, while value dropped 17 percent to $8.32 billion. *********************************************************************************** Reforms in a New Farm Bill Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) called on Senate and House leadership to address several important topics in writing a new farm bill. They’re asking leaders to address the impacts of inflation, waste in farm and nutrition programs, and foreign influence in U.S. agriculture. In a letter to leaders in both chambers, they say the administration and its reckless spending have led the U.S. to record inflation. “By making conservative reforms to key programs, we will be able to tame inflation while also keeping in place a responsible safety net for U.S. farm families,” they say. They also call for reforms to the SNAP program by citing its $1.2 trillion price tag and growing error rate. They’re also urging Congress to bring more accountability to the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, which they say is a bureaucratic “slush fund,” and oversight would save $8 billion over 20 years. *********************************************************************************** Groups Applaud Renewable Fuels for Ocean Vessels Act Groups like Clean Fuels Alliance and the American Soybean Association applauded representatives from California and Iowa for introducing the bipartisan Renewable Fuel for Ocean-Going Vessels Act. The act designates renewable fuel used in ocean-going vessels as an “additional renewable fuel” (similar to jet fuel) under the Renewable Fuel Standard. This enables companies to preserve Renewable Identification Number credits in the program. “International shipping companies and cruise lines are increasingly looking for low-carbon biodiesel to meet climate goals and consumer demand,” says Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs for Clean Fuels. “This will remove a regulatory roadblock and enable biodiesel and renewable diesel producers to meet the low-carbon fuel needs of shipping companies at a competitive price.” American Soybean Association President Daryl Cates applauds the effort to acknowledge marine vessels as a new and exciting market opportunity for agriculture. The RFS originally excluded fuels in ocean-going vessels from blending obligations *********************************************************************************** TFI Celebrates Good News on Hypoxia The Fertilizer Institute celebrated the good news in the recently released Hypoxia Task Force’s report to Congress. It shows significant progress toward the goals of the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan of 2008. TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch says it is good news. While there is still work to do, he says the report shows significant progress. “TFI has long advocated for grower adoption of nutrient stewardship practices such as the 4Rs because they work,” Rosenbusch says. “These practices keep fertilizers on fields where they belong and out of the nation’s waterways where they do not.” He also says it proves that science-based conservation practices voluntarily adopted by farmers and ranchers are having a tremendous impact on the nation’s water quality. “They should be applauded for their continued efforts to grow more food with less environmental impact,” he adds. TFI will use the report for continued farmer and policymaker education. *********************************************************************************** Feed Industry Applauds FEED Act The American Feed Industry Association appreciates the introduction of the innovative Feed Enhancement and Economic Development Act. Supporters say it will improve the regulatory environment for new animal feed ingredients. The FEED Act will amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to establish a regulatory pathway for a new category of animal food substances that act solely within animals’ gut microbiomes or in the feed they are digesting to provide a wide range of benefits. This will make sure the Food and Drug Administration has the power it needs to ensure regulations keep pace with scientific innovation in feed. “We are excited that the bill has been introduced in both chambers and already has the bipartisan and bicameral support we hoped for,” says Constance Cullman, president and CEO of the AFIA. “This will spark the drive to nutritional innovation that improves animal health and production while addressing public health challenges."

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 11, 2023 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Yield Winners, Fertilizer Facts and Cattle Rumors 1. Yield winners announced: Both the National Corn Growers Association and the National Sorghum Producers are expected to announce their annual yield contest winners. Will we see familiar names, or will some new contestants pop in with top yields? 2. Global Fertilizer Outlook: DTN Staff Reporter Russ Quinn continues our deep dive into global fertilizer conditions on the supply and demand side along with what possible wild cards could affect price. 3. Cattle market rumors: Late in the past week, rumors flew about reasons for the drop in cattle futures prices while herd size remains historically small. At this writing it appears to be the "X" (formerly known as Twitter) factor -- that is, a remark thrown out into social media that then fed on itself. Ah, social media, we get what we pay for. DTN editors and analysts will look under whatever rocks turn up at the bottom of that stream. 4. Weather cools down: The weekend band of snow near the U.S.-Canada border pushed a cold front south through the Plains and east through the Upper Midwest. Temperatures have dropped some 20 degrees Fahrenheit from the previous week, but still remain mild by December standards through this week, well-above normal across northern zones. 5. Economic reports to watch: On Monday, USDA's weekly grain export inspections report hits at 10 a.m. On Tuesday, the U.S. Labor Department issues its consumer price index for November at 7:30 a.m., and the Federal Reserve starts its two-day meeting. Wednesday the U.S. producer price index will be out at 7:30 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. The Federal Reserve will make its announcement on interest rates at 1 p.m. Then, Thursday sees USDA's weekly export sales report at 7:30 a.m., the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, retail sales in November and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage follows at 10 a.m. USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry outlook is set for 2 p.m. The week wraps up with Friday's release of the Fed's report on U.S industrial production at 8:15 a.m., while the National Oilseeds Processors Association releases its estimate of members' November soybean crush at 11 a.m.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 11, 2023 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will continue to keep watch over South American weather. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is set for 10 a.m. CST Monday. Traders will also be watching for this week's Fed announcement, due out Wednesday at 1 p.m. after a two-day meeting. Weather A storm system from the weekend continues to push off the East Coast Monday morning with significant precipitation in the Northeast. It's cooler and drier behind the system, but still warm for December across northern locations. Another little disturbance and front are moving into the Northern Plains and some light precipitation will move through Monday, mostly in the form of snow.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 8, 2023 |


Farmers Meet Nitrogen Loss Goals Two Years Early A new report from the EPA’s Hypoxia Task Force shows that the hard work of farmers and ranchers to reduce nutrient losses in the Mississippi River watershed is paying off. The report reveals the 12 participating states have met interim nitrogen reduction goals two years ahead of schedule and are also making considerable progress in bringing down phosphorous losses. The goals are part of a comprehensive strategy established by state and federal agencies across the Mississippi River watershed region. Farmers and ranchers were tasked with helping to reduce nutrient losses by 20 percent by 2025. “Farmers are problem-solvers by nature, and the work being done in the Mississippi River is proof of what happens when we come together,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “I commend the farmers in each of the states for their instrumental role in making these strides and encourage continued work to meet the 2035 goals.” *********************************************************************************** Ag Community Writes Trade Commission Regarding Tariffs The National Corn Growers Association joined 57 organizations in urging the International Trade Commission to consider the impacts that tariffs on Moroccan fertilizer are having on farms. The concerns were expressed in a letter that comes after the ITC was ordered by the U.S. Court of International Trade to reconsider its determination of material injury in a decision issued earlier in September. “Rising prices for fertilizer inputs have strained America’s farmers and ranchers and have impacted availability for this critical component of nutrient and yield management,” the letter says. “Without predictable options to source this product, farmers struggle to plan for the future.” The groups noted that issues surrounding the international supply chain further complicate farmers’ ability to source phosphate. It also says the ITC originally made some inferences on the ability to re-ship products that are not grounded in reality. Efforts to reduce the duties will continue for months. *********************************************************************************** New York City Moving to Renewable Diesel New York City has a plan in place to become the first city on the East Coast to transition all heavy-duty vehicles in the city’s fleet from fossil to renewable fuel. The fleet includes more than 12,600 on- and off-road trucks and specialized equipment that operates on diesel fuel. By the end of 2024, they’ll all operate on renewable diesel. Renewable diesel is proven to reduce carbon emissions and will replace up to 16 million gallons of fossil fuel used annually to power the city’s heavy-duty fleet, which includes garbage trucks and ambulances. After the full rollout of 16 million gallons of renewable diesel, the city will have cut 128 billion grams of carbon dioxide pollution each year. The transition already began in September with 2.5 million gallons of renewable diesel already used across heavy-duty vehicles. Renewable diesel fully replaces fossil diesel, protecting the environment and delivering the same quality fuel. *********************************************************************************** USB Elects New Leaders Farmer-leaders of the United Soybean Board elected Steve Reinhard from Ohio as the 2024 chair and ten additional farmer-leaders to serve on the Executive Committee. “I’m honored and excited to take on the role of USB’s new board chair,” Reinhard says. “Together with the dedicated team and the support of our farmers, I look forward to continuing our commitment to sustainability and innovation in the soy industry.” He also says the organization will focus on “driving positive change, leveraging research and investments to meet consumer demands, and furthering the success of America’s soybean farmers.” The USB also announced that Lucas Lentsch will be the new CEO starting on January 1. Lentsch currently serves on the Dairy Management, Inc. leadership team, which manages the national dairy checkoff. “Lucas Lentsch is the right leader at the right time to continue the meaningful work of the soy checkoff,” says Meagan Kaiser, outgoing USB Chair. *********************************************************************************** New Land Transfer Program Helps with Farmland Access Working in partnership with land protection leaders across the United States, American Farmland Trust announced a new “Land Transfer Navigators” program. It’s a partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service that will help existing farmers and landowners retire with confidence and help new, beginning, and underserved farmers gain secure, equitable land access. Nearly 300 million acres of American farmland are expected to change hands in the next 20 years. As aging farmers exit the field, the future is uncertain for about one-third of the country’s farm and ranch land. “Farmland is most at risk of conversion during generational transition,” says AFT President and CEO John Piotti (pee-OTT-tee). “With the wave of transfers coming, we risk losing far too much farmland to low-density housing, subdivisions, and strip malls.” Land Transfer Navigators will build bridges between incoming and outgoing farmers, leveraging land protection as a strategy to facilitate successful and affordable land transfer. *********************************************************************************** New VP of Science at the Sugarbeet Association The American Sugarbeet Growers Association has hired Dr. Nicholas Storer as Vice President of Science and Innovation. He’ll begin those duties on January 1. Dr. Storer recently was the Stewardship and Regulatory Director for Corteva Agriscience. “There are tremendous challenges and opportunities for our industry in the years ahead,” says Nate Hultgren, President of the ASGA. “Dr. Storer’s deep knowledge and broad experience in both crop protection and seed genetics will provide the leadership and guidance needed for our industry to remain efficient and competitive for decades to come.” Dr. Storer says he’s excited to bring his science and regulatory policy experience to support the development and deployment of the most effective solutions that sugarbeet growers need. “I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone involved in sugarbeet production and research,” Dr. Storer adds. Storer received a bachelor’s in Natural Sciences, a Master’s in Zoology, and a doctorate in entomology.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 8, 2023 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department releases its unemployment report for November at 7:30 a.m. CST Friday, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. At 11 a.m., USDA releases its WASDE and Crop Production reports for December. Weather A storm system moving along the Canadian border is bringing snow to the southeastern Canadian Prairies and North Dakota on Friday with some moderate accumulation and blustery winds. The system will develop some rain showers and thunderstorms for the South-Central U.S. and snow in the Colorado front-range by the afternoon as well. Temperatures ahead of the system are well

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 7, 2023 |


USDA Announces Crop Insurance Improvements The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced updated to the Federal Crop Insurance Program. The updates affirm the use of USDA conservation practices as Good Farming Practices for crop insurance. Recently, USDA’s Risk Management Agency updated the Good Farming Practices Handbook, as part of the agency’s broader efforts to support conservation and climate-smart activities as well as to improve crop insurance for agricultural producers. RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger says, “This update affirms producers can have peace of mind that using conservation practices will not impact their crop insurance.” The updated handbook recognizes all conservation practices offered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service as Good Farming Practices for crop insurance. Essentially, appropriate use of NRCS conservation practices will have no impact on crop insurance coverage, which affirms how the rules have worked on the ground for years. The updated handbook builds on similar efforts, including RMA’s designation of planting cover crops as a Good Farming Practice in 2019. *********************************************************************************** USDA Now Accepting Applications for Farm Loans Online The Department of Agriculture has launched an online application for Direct Loan customers. More than 26,000 customers who submit a Direct Loan application each year can now use an online, interactive, guided application that is paperless. The online application also provides helpful features, including an electronic signature option, the ability to attach supporting documents such as tax returns, complete a balance sheet and build a farm operating plan. This tool is part of a broader effort by USDA's Farm Service Agency to streamline its processes, improve customer service, and expand credit access. Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small says, "With USDA Farm Service Agency's new online loan application feature, it is now easier for producers to get the financing they need to start, expand, or maintain their farming and ranching operations." Through a personalized dashboard, borrowers can track the progress of their loan application. It can be accessed on farmers.gov or by completing FSA's Loan Assistance Tool at farmers.gov/loan-assistance-tool. *********************************************************************************** Monthly Dairy Products Report: Mostly Higher Cheese Production USDA’s Monthly Dairy Products Report released this week shows total cheese output, excluding cottage cheese, was 1.19 billion pounds, in October. That figure is 0.8 percent above October 2022 and 3.9 percent above September 2023. Italian-type cheese production totaled 506 million pounds, 1.4 percent above October 2022 and 5.6 percent above September 2023. American-type cheese production totaled 474 million pounds, 0.3 percent below October 2022's but 2.5 percent above September 2023's. Butter production was 161 million pounds, 0.9 percent below October 2022, but 12.5 percent above September 2023. Nonfat dry milk for human consumption came in at 127 million pounds, down 1.2 percent. Skim milk powder production was 42.5 million pounds, down 34.9 percent, from the same time last year. Dry whey total production was 75.6 million pounds, up 0.4 percent, compared to October, 2022. Finally, regular ice cream production was 57.9 million gallons, down 2.6 percent from the same time last year. *********************************************************************************** Foodservice Claims Largest Share of U.S. Food Dollars In 2022, more than a third of U.S. dollars spent on domestically produced food went to foodservice establishments, which includes restaurants and other food-away-from-home outlets. At 34.1 cents per food dollar in 2022, the foodservice share increased 1.6 cents from 2021 to reach its highest value in the USDA, Economic Research Service's Food Dollar Series. Industry groups add value by transforming the inputs they purchase from other industry groups and selling their output at higher prices. For instance, foodservice establishments prepare meals using food bought from distributors, such as those in the wholesale trade industry group, and utilities, such as gas and electricity, bought from establishments in the energy industry group. Prices paid by customers include the value added by the restaurant and the cumulative value added by all establishments before the restaurant. Annual shifts in the food dollar shares among industry groups occur for various reasons, including changes in the balance of food at home and away from home. *********************************************************************************** USDA Fulfills Long-Standing Tribal Requests Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday announced USDA is fulfilling some long-standing Tribal requests. Specifically, USDA is partnering with Tribal Nations in empowering Tribal food sovereignty and co-stewardship of federal lands and waters. Secretary Vilsack announced the first grant recipients under the Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program and advances in Forest Service co-stewardship with Tribes, including 120 new agreements totaling more than $68 million in investments. Secretary Vilsack also announced the inaugural appointees of the new Tribal Advisory Committee. Secretary Vilsack made the announcements at the 2023 White House Tribal Nations Summit, where Tribal leaders gathered for conversations with President Biden and senior administration officials. Vilsack says, "As Tribes have requested, we are reshaping our programs to incorporate Tribal and Indigenous perspectives, remove barriers, and encourage Tribal self-determination." Vilsack says the investments will create economic opportunities in Tribal communities, elevate the agency's work to increase co-stewardship in forest management, and increase the availability of affordable, healthy protein sources from Indigenous animals. *********************************************************************************** NASS Inducts Two Former Employees Into Hall of Fame USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service inducted two former employees to its Hall of Fame Wednesday. The NASS Hall of Fame honors individuals whose work has had a lasting impact on agricultural statistics. This year’s inductees are Carol House and Raymond “Ron” Bosecker. NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer says, “Our two honorees distinguished themselves with their leadership, by being experts in their fields.” Carol House joined NASS in 1976 as a student assistant. During her career, she authored and co-authored numerous reports that impacted NASS methodology, including those on her pioneering work in Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing. Additionally, House was the first woman hired directly into NASS to rise to the level of Senior Executive. House retired in 2010. Raymond “Ron” Bosecker began his career at NASS in 1964 as a student trainee at the Illinois State Statistical Office. He was reassigned in early 1999 as Acting Deputy Administrator for Field Operations, before being selected as the NASS Administrator in December 1999. Bosecker held the position of Administrator until his retirement in 2008.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 7, 2023 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage follows at 10 a.m. South American weather remains important to traders ahead of Friday's WASDE report. Weather A storm system will move across the U.S.-Canada border on Thursday, bringing areas of scattered showers, including some snow accumulation through Friday. Winds with the system will also be fairly strong. Ahead of the system, temperatures continue to be very warm for December.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 6, 2023 |


Farmer Sentiment Improves, Producers Credit Stronger Financial Conditions For the second month, farmer sentiment improved as the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer climbed five points. November's 12-point rise in the Current Conditions Index to a reading of 113 was primarily responsible for this month's sentiment improvement as the Index of Future Expectations only improved by two points. Both sub-indices exceeded their year-ago levels in November. The Current Conditions Index increased by 15 percent, and the Future Expectations Index was up 11 percent compared to November 2022. The improved perception among U.S. farmers regarding their farms' financial condition and prospects contributed to this month's more positive sentiment reading. The Farm Capital Investment Index also rose during November, although respondents who said it was a good time to invest were more likely to point to rising dealer inventories of farm equipment as a reason than strong farm cash flows. Farmers continue to be relatively optimistic about future values for farmland as the short-term farmland index held steady while the long-term index drifted lower. *********************************************************************************** Crop Insurance Industry Opposes GAO Report Crop Insurance groups oppose a recent Government Accountability Office report the industry says is fraught with recommendations that would dismantle the successful public-private partnership that delivers federal crop insurance. In a joint statement, the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, National Crop Insurance Services, and American Association of Crop Insurers say the report contains several recommendations that would result in reduced participation in the long run. The groups say GAO mischaracterized the economics of the delivery system when it states that "the increase in crop prices did not increase the workload to sell and service the policy." This statement ignores the fact that since 2011 the crop insurance industry has worked with USDA to implement both the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills. Both of these pieces of legislation increased the availability of crop insurance products nationwide. New crop insurance products have since been developed along with specialty crop and livestock product expansion. The industry charges that the workload has, in fact, increased to meet the risk management needs of America's farmers and ranchers. *********************************************************************************** Lawmakers Request New USDA Emergency Relief Program A group of lawmakers this week expressed concerns regarding the Department of Agriculture's requirements for the Emergency Relief Program. In a letter to USDA, Republican Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas and Republican Representative Jodey Arrington of Texas led the effort. The lawmakers say USDA's 2022 Emergency Relief Program requirements are misguided and losing sight of the relief program's intent outlined by Congress when it was created. The Biden Administration's USDA made requirements that have nothing to do with helping farmers deal with natural disasters. In fact, by the USDA attaching excessive conditions to receive aid, this federal relief program could force farmers to wait even longer for assistance or completely jeopardize their ability to access the program. The letter states, “American producers have experienced significant losses, and the Administration has taken an approach that does not reflect Congressional intent.” The lawmakers “strongly request the USDA abandon this current program” and implement the framework of 2021 ERP Phase 1 as quickly as possible. *********************************************************************************** Some Crops Tolerate Ozone Pollution Better Differences in the photosynthetic "machinery" of certain crop plants can make them more or less prone to harm caused by ground-level ozone pollution. The research was developed by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and University of Illinois scientists in Urbana-Champaign. The findings—that so-called "C4" crops like corn and sorghum tolerate increased ozone levels better than "C3" crops, like rice or snap beans—open the door to better models for predicting crop responses to the effects of global climate change, as well as developing more resilient varieties that can sustain humanity’s increasing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel. While both C3 and C4 crops use the enzyme called rubisco to convert carbon dioxide into sugars, C4 crops isolate rubisco in specialized cells where the concentration of carbon dioxide is very high. This enables higher rates of photosynthesis and greater efficiency of water use. Thus, C4 plants have lower stomatal conductance, resulting in less diffusion of carbon dioxide and ozone into leaves. *********************************************************************************** USDA/EPA Partnership to Improve Access to Modern Wastewater Infrastructure The Department of Agriculture is strengthening its partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency to help people in rural and underserved communities access affordable, modern and safe wastewater infrastructure. The actions further the continued collaborations between both agencies to revitalize the nation’s wastewater infrastructure, improve water quality and protect the health of people living in rural areas, according to USDA. Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Farah Ahmad says, “Decentralized wastewater systems are an integral component of our nation’s wastewater infrastructure, especially in rural areas where centralized treatment is often too expensive or unavailable,” USDA and EPA officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining an industry-wide initiative to improve the overall performance and management of decentralized systems in rural areas. Across the U.S., decentralized septic or onsite technology can provide communities and homeowners with a safe, affordable wastewater treatment option. The Decentralized Wastewater Management MOU was developed by EPA in 2005 and is updated every three years. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces Grants to Increase Equitable Access to Healthy Meals for Children The Department of Agriculture and the Food Research and Action Center have teamed up to award five organizations $1.1 million. The grants aim to research barriers to equitable access in the federal child nutrition programs and identify strategies to eliminate them. The efforts to improve food security for school children and children in childcare settings are critical to fueling the health and development of our nation's children, according to USDA. These programs, including USDA's National School Lunch Program, are instrumental in reducing childhood hunger. Many eligible children are either not participating in the programs or do not have programs available to them. The services delivered can vary by community, which could make inequities for historically and currently marginalized communities worse. Grants were awarded to Johns Hopkins University, Trustees of Indiana University, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Hunger Solutions Minnesota, and Feeding Kentucky.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 6, 2023 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Day two of DTN's Ag Summit begins at 8:30 a.m. CST Wednesday. Before that, at 7:30 a.m., the U.S. Commerce Department will report on the U.S. trade deficit for October and a report on U.S. productivity in the third quarter will also be issued. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report will follow at 9:30 a.m., including an update on ethanol production. Weather Dry conditions are likely Wednesday across the center of the country, along with seasonably warm temperatures. The dry conditions won't stick around too long as more precipitation is expected late this week into this weekend for portions of the Plains, Midwest, and Delta.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 5, 2023 |


Farmers Freedom Act to Address Government Overreach Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) and multiple colleagues introduced legislation to address federal overreach and provide regulatory certainty. The Farmers Freedom Act of 2023 would protect the definition of prior converted cropland in the Biden administration’s most recent Waters of the U.S. Rule. “For far too long, producers have been subject to a number of complex and burdensome WOTUS rule changes,” Rounds says. “The previous Navigable Waters Protection Rule worked to protect owners of prior converted cropland from undue regulation while providing producers with needed flexibility.” He also says the legislation seeks to restore this definition of prior converted cropland and prevent further overreach on farmers and ranchers, who know their land better than any D.C. bureaucrats. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), one of the co-sponsors, says landowners need more freedom to use their land as they see fit without excessive and burdensome environmental regulations. “Producers are always the best land caretakers,” Cramer adds. *********************************************************************************** USDA to Conduct the 2023 Census of Aquaculture The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will begin mailing the 2023 Census of Aquaculture forms starting December 18. The agency will mail the forms to all producers who indicated in their 2022 Census of Agriculture that they produce and sell aquaculture products. The deadline to respond will be January 15, 2024. An ag census special study, the Census of Aquaculture will provide comprehensive data at the state and national levels, including production volumes and methods, surface water acres and sources, and sales. Federal, state, and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, and producers can use this data. “The information that respondents provide will serve as the foundation for many decisions involving the sustainability and growth of the aquaculture sector for years to come,” says NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “It’s an opportunity to share your voice with decision-makers.” The agency made survey responses more convenient with their online Respondent Portal at accounts.usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** Taylor to Lead Trade Mission to Korea USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor will lead an agribusiness trade mission to Seoul (soul), South Korea, March 25-26, 2024. Taylor says the agency is inviting U.S. exporters who wish to participate in this trade mission to submit their applications. “North Asian markets are a source of stability for America’s exports and an opportunity for market share expansion due to its heavy reliance on food imports,” she says. “While South Korea is already one of our top export markets, we see tremendous potential for growth.” While they’re in Seoul, participants will engage in two days of business-to-business meetings with potential importers, processors, and distributors. With a population of about 52 million people and limited arable land, the Republic of Korea relies on imports to satisfy consumer demand for food variety, lower prices, and greater convenience. In 2022, South Korea imported about $41 billion worth of agricultural goods. *********************************************************************************** Farm Loan Performance Strong as Debt Grows Farm debt balances at commercial banks grew steadily in the third quarter, but loan performance remained strong in the Kansas City Fed’s District. Despite some indications of slower lending activity in recent surveys and subdued loan demand for some lenders, outstanding debt at commercial banks, in aggregate, grew at a pace similar to last year. Alongside ongoing strength in farm finances, delinquency rates on agricultural loans dropped for the third consecutive year and remained at historically low levels. Steady loan growth has coincided with a pullback in deposit growth and firmed liquidity at agricultural banks. Profits for agricultural banks have stayed solid with support from higher interest income. The balance of agricultural debt continued to increase alongside a growing demand for production loans. According to commercial bank Call Reports, farm debt was five percent higher than the same time last year and increased at a similar pace for almost two years. *********************************************************************************** Season Two of Farm Stress Real Talk Podcast Available Season two of Penn State University Extension’s podcast called “Farm Stress Real Talk” is now available. The podcast focuses on supporting farmers, farm families, and workers in the commercial agriculture industry who are experiencing stress. During the program, the PSU extension farm stress team conducts informal educational conversations with a diverse range of educators, Penn State faculty members, and agricultural professionals. These interviews are designed to give farmers practical strategies to balance farm responsibilities with their own well-being. Dairy extension educator Ginger Fenton says the podcasts are a convenient resource. “We know farmers are busy, so we thought a podcast with targeted, practical information would be a good way to reach them,” she says. “Farmers can listen to the podcast while doing chores or operating machinery.” Season two episodes will focus on strategies to address stress proactively. The second season of the podcast is available on the Penn State Extension website. *********************************************************************************** Iowa Corn Sponsors First NASCAR Cup Race in the State The Iowa Corn Growers Association is proud to be a partner for the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series race in the state. The “Iowa Corn 350, Powered by Ethanol” will showcase ethanol’s performance at the fastest short track on the planet, which is surrounded by corn fields. “I’m pleased to share why choosing higher ethanol blends benefits everyone,” says Stan Nelson, president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. “We can make a sustainable difference today without buying a new vehicle, but by simply choosing instead to fuel up with ethanol at the pump.” He also says ethanol is the most affordable fuel option on the market today. The race will take place at 6 p.m. Central Time on Sunday, June 16, 2024, and be shown live on the USA Network. “This race will give us as farmers a platform to share the benefits of ethanol,” says Jolene Riessen, President of the Iowa Corn Growers.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 5, 2023 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There is an index of U.S. service activity from the Institute of Supply Management due out at 9 a.m. CST Tuesday, but not much else. Traders remain attentive to weather in Brazil. Weather A clipper system will continue to move through the eastern Midwest for Tuesday. A mix of rain and snow is expected and some minor snow accumulation may be possible across Illinois into western Ohio. Well-above normal temperatures will enter the Plains and Midwest by Wednesday, with temperatures approaching 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in the Northern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 4, 2023 |


USDA Forecasts Lower Ag Exports in FY 2024 America’s agricultural exports in fiscal year 2024 are projected at $169.5 billion, down $2.5 billion from the August forecast. The drop is primarily from reductions in grain and feed as well as livestock, poultry, and dairy exports. Wheat exports are forecast down $800 million to $6 billion on lower unit values and ongoing competition from Russia and the EU. Corn exports are forecast down $500 million to $12.8 billion because of lower unit values as abundant global supplies continue easing prices. Soybean exports are projected $500 million lower to $26 billion on lower exportable supplies. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are forecast to drop by $1.3 billion to $36.3 billion due to declines across most products. Beef and pork exports are both projected $300 million lower on tight supplies and lower demand, respectively. Poultry products and dairy will both drop by $200 million due to lower volumes and decreased price competitiveness. *********************************************************************************** Lower Corn Price Pressuring Farmers The University of Illinois Farm Policy News website says the price of corn recently hit a three-year low mark. Supplies from Brazil and the U.S. surged while demand stagnated because of the high prices. Corn has traded around $4.50 a bushel recently after reaching more than $8 a bushel in May 2022. The drop in corn prices was coming after American farmers planted more corn last year in response to the higher prices. The Financial Times says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent prices sharply higher last year, as did drought in parts of South America. However, in response to the rising prices, corn demand fell for the first time in ten years, contracting roughly three percent between 2022 and 2023. The extra corn acres in the U.S. didn’t help. A government forecast showed an additional six million acres got planted in the Corn Belt, and yields were higher than anticipated. *********************************************************************************** USDA Provides $208 Million for Emergency Assistance The USDA is providing approximately $208 million in financial assistance for qualifying farm and emergency loan borrowers. To help prevent foreclosures, USDA will cover approximately $80 million in delinquencies for an estimated 210 borrowers whose loans were flagged for liquidation as of November 30. USDA will also provide roughly $128 million for an estimated 1,120 borrowers with outstanding direct Emergency Loans as of November 30. Any distressed borrowers who qualify for this assistance and are currently in bankruptcy will get addressed using the same case-by-case review process announced in October 2022 for complex cases. “We’re working hard every day to keep farmers on their farms,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We continue to work on credit reforms centered around a better approach, and I encourage our lenders and borrowers to capitalize on all available flexibilities.” Borrowers can submit requests in person or by sending a request using portals found on farmers.gov. *********************************************************************************** New Nutritional Campaign Launches on Wheat Consumers want nutrition information, so the Wheat Foods Council launched a social media campaign that educates fitness professionals and trainers about the benefits of wheat foods in healthy diets. U.S. Wheat Associates and the WFC are both farmer-led organizations that promote the value and benefits of U.S. wheat. The new WFC campaign on Facebook and Instagram launched on November 20. It provides evidence-based information on the nutritional and performance advantages of wheat foods. Among those advantages is how wheat foods serve as a reliable and efficient source of energy. The campaign also helps dispel myths about wheat foods and fosters a deeper understanding of the positive impact they have on performance and well-being. “By harnessing the power of social media, the campaign creates a dialogue, encourages knowledge sharing, and inspires a shift in how the fitness industry views wheat foods in a healthy lifestyle,” says WFC President Tim O’Connor. *********************************************************************************** Corn Harvest Quality Report Contains Good News The U.S. Grains Council’s “Corn Harvest Quality Report” shows this year’s crop is the largest on record to have the lowest percentage of broken corn and foreign material in history. The average aggregate quality of the representative samples tested was better than the grade factor requirements for U.S. No. 1 grade. The report also says that 88 percent of the samples met the grade factor requirements for U.S. No. 1 grade, and 96 percent met the grade factor requirements for U.S. No. 2. “The transparency this provides to buyers helps them make informed decisions and takes another step towards developing markets, enabling trade, and improving lives,” says Brent Boydston, USGC Chair. “This crop’s incredible volume allows the U.S. to remain the world’s leading corn exporter, accounting for an estimated 26 percent of global corn exports.” The report is based on 611 yellow corn samples taken from 12 of the top corn states. *********************************************************************************** More Crop Insurance Options in 2024 The USDA is further expanding the opportunities for producers to consider Enterprise Units as risk management options. The Risk Management Agency is expanding Enterprise Unit availability to additional specialty crops and other actual production history crop programs. Together with the six crop types announced in July for Enterprise Unit protection, these crops may benefit from the Enterprise Units that were previously unavailable. Enterprise Units are attractive to producers due to lower premium rates offered to recognize the lower risk associated with the geographic diversification. In general, the larger the Enterprise Unit, the lesser the risk and the greater the unit discount. “This announcement is in response to public feedback of producers needing more options to manage their risk,” says RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger. “It’s critical that while we are examining our resources for areas of improvement we also listen to America’s agricultural producers to hear exactly what they need.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 4, 2023 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will continue to watch over South American weather forecasts. A report of crop production estimates from Stats Canada will be out at 8 a.m. CST, followed by U.S. factory orders for October at 9 a.m. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is set for 10 a.m. and there is no Crop Progress report until the 2024 growing season. Weather A couple of little systems are moving through the Northern Plains and Midwest on Monday, producing some limited areas of showers, including a mix with snow in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. Accumulations will be negligible. Outside of a couple of chilly spots this morning, temperatures are mild by December standards across most of the country for today.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 1, 2023 |


Court Filing on Year-Round E15 in the Midwest Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird filed a motion for summary judgment regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to respond to a request to sell year-round E15 in Midwest states. Iowa and six other states filed an opt-out request that would allow them to sell E15. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says biofuel leaders have been more than patient. “For over a year past the statutory deadline, they’ve waited for EPA to follow the law and allow them to make E15 available in their states year-round,” she says. “They have been forced to return to court to compel EPA to do something it was required to have done by July 2022.” Skor also says in its continued decision to illegally delay acting on the governors’ request, EPA has cited fuel distribution concerns that are greatly overstated. “It’s a low-carbon fuel that saves consumers money and is better for the environment,” she adds. *********************************************************************************** USDA Releases Farm Sector Income Report USDA’s Economic Research Service released its annual Farm Sector Income Forecast Report for 2023 which shows lower net farm income this year. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says while net farm income will drop below the record high in 2022, it’s one of the best years on record for the overall farm sector at $151.1 billion. “In fact, net cash farm income for 2023 is 15 percent above average for the last two decades, and farm income over the 2021-2023 period represents the highest level of farm income in the last 50 years,” he says. “U.S. ag exports have also seen the three highest years on record in 2021-2023, and 2024 is projected to be the fourth-highest year on record despite potential declines.” A bright spot for farmers is that some production costs, including feed, fertilizer, and pesticides, have declined. Data also shows that off-farm income is needed to make ends meet. *********************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Testifies at FMMO Hearing Farm Bureau Chief Economist Roger Cryan testified on behalf of the group’s membership at the Federal Milk Marketing Order Pricing Formula hearing. His testimony underscored the need for updating Class 1 and Class 2 price differentials to bring fairness for farmers back into the Federal Milk Marketing Orders. Class 1 differentials are meant to incentivize the movement of milk to where it’s demanded and assist in maintaining regional production capacity in a manner that provides consumers with consistent access to fresh milk. The Class 2 differential is meant to represent the higher value of Class 2 milk, which is used in dairy products like ice cream, cottage cheese, and sour cream, while Class 4 milk is used in butter and dairy products. “Our proposal is the reduction or elimination of negative producer price differentials and the de-pooling they cause,” Cryan said in his testimony. “An orderly pool is key for orderly marketing.” *********************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Hits Seven-Week Low The Energy Information Administration says ethanol output dropped to its lowest level in seven weeks, and inventories also fell during the seven days ending on November 24. The biofuel production fell to an average of 1.011 million barrels a day during the week, down from 1.023 million barrels a week earlier and the lowest level since October 6. The agency says Midwest production hit 950,000 barrels per day, down 13,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Rocky Mountain output fell to an average of 13,000 barrels a day from 14,000 a week earlier. That was all the losses as East Coast production was unchanged from the previous week at 13,000 barrels a day. Gulf Coast production rose by 1,000 barrels a day to an average of 25,000 barrels, and West Coast output rose from 9,000 to 10,000 barrels a day during the week. Ethanol stockpiles dropped to 21.37 million barrels. *********************************************************************************** Officials Secure Extension of Line Speed Trial for Pork Processing Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Representative Brad Finstad (R-MN), and House Ag Chair Glenn Thompson (R-PA) applauded the USDA’s decision to extend the line speed trial for pork processors. USDA extended the Time-Limited Trial for New Swine Inspection Systems plants but cautioned that the 30-day extension would do little to provide needed clarity for pork producers, who contract with processors many months in advance. The announcement comes after a letter requested Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack issue an extension to ensure that processing plants can continue operating at increased line speeds. “The New Swine Inspection System trial has proven safe and effective at swiftly processing hogs,” Grassley says. “While I’m happy with the extension, USDA risks creating a harmful bottleneck in the pork supply chain if the extension doesn’t go any longer.” House Ag Chair Thompson says, “It’s my hope the department operates transparently to ensure our facilities can maintain full operational capacity.” *********************************************************************************** Producer-Friendly Changes to USDA Programs The USDA has waived certain notice of loss requirements for the 2023 Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). To streamline the access to critical 2023 natural disaster recovery assistance, the Farm Service Agency is waiving the requirement to submit ELAP or LIP notices of loss within a pre-determined number of days for 2023. Instead, producers have the flexibility to submit 2023 notices of loss as soon as possible once losses are realized following a natural disaster event or no later than the established annual program application for payment deadlines for each program. “Our goal is to get producers into those disaster programs, and they are always encouraged to turn in an application if they believe they are eligible,” says FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Program improvements work best if we ensure producers have sufficient time and information needed to submit their applications.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 1, 2023 |


Friday Watch List Markets Manufacturing reports arrive overnight from around the world and the Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing index for the U.S. will be released at 9 a.m. CST. At 2 p.m., USDA's NASS releases its monthly Fats and Oils report and grain traders continue to keep a close eye on weather in South America. Weather A storm system is moving through the Midwest on Friday, bringing widespread areas of moderate to heavy rain. More scattered and lighter rain is developing farther south to the Gulf of Mexico, though it could be heavier near the coast. The system does not have a lot of cold air to work with but may bring some mix of snow on its northern edge from southern Iowa through Lower Michigan through tonight. Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest will continue to see scattered showers for the next week.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 30, 2023 |


Lawmakers Welcome Extension of Line Speed Trial for Pork Processing Facilities A group of Republican lawmakers welcome USADA’s extension for the Time-Limited Trial for New Swine Inspection System. However, they caution that the short 30-day extension would do little to provide needed certainty for pork producers, who contract with processing facilities many months in advance. The announcement comes weeks after Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Brad Finstad led a bicameral letter requesting USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack issue the extension to ensure participating processing plants can continue operating at increased line speeds. This is the second time USDA has extended the trial at Grassley and Finstad’s urging. Grassley says, “. While I’m pleased that USDA has taken a step in the right direction by extending the program, the agency risks creating a harmful bottleneck in the pork supply chain if it fails to extend the program beyond just three months.” Finstad adds, “I will continue to urge USDA to provide certainty to our pork processors and producers by permanently allowing them to continue functioning at full operational capacity.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Changes Notice of Loss Requirements for Two Livestock Programs The Department of Agriculture has waived certain notice of loss requirements in 2023 for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish and the Livestock Indemnity Program. In an effort to streamline assistance to support access to critical 2023 natural disaster recovery assistance, USDA’s Farm Service Agency is waiving the requirement to submit Emergency Assistance for Livestock or Livestock Indemnity Program notices of loss within a pre-determined number of days for 2023. Instead, producers have the flexibility to submit 2023 notices of loss as soon as possible, once losses are realized, following a natural disaster event or no later than the established annual program application for payment deadlines for each program. FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux says, “Our goal is to get producers into these disaster programs, and they are always encouraged to turn in an application if they believe they are eligible.” Contact your local Farm Service Agency office for more information. *********************************************************************************** Report: Pork exports to China surged During ASF Outbreak The 2018 spread of African swine fever to China had reverberations in the global pork market, according to new data from USDA’s Economic Research Service. ASF caused an estimated loss of 27.9 million metric tons in China's pork output from late 2018 to early 2021 and led to a doubling of China's domestic pork prices. The high prices attracted a surge of pork exports from four major suppliers—the European Union, the United States, Brazil, and Canada. While the EU was the top supplier, U.S. pork exports were sizable and reached a record high of more than 287,000 metric tons in the second quarter of 2020. Official data indicate that China's pork production returned to its pre-ASF level in 2021. While exports to China are down from their peak, China is still one of the top three overseas markets for U.S. pork, with sales in the first six months of 2023 exceeding annual totals posted in years before ASF hit China. *********************************************************************************** NCGA Yield Contest Deadline Extended The National Corn Growers association this week extended the National Corn Yield Contest Harvest Entry deadline to December 5. After considering the unique challenges that growers across the country have faced during the 2023 harvest season, NCGA moved the deadline from November 30. Contest participants can submit a harvest entry from now until 4 p.m. CT on Tuesday, December 5, at ncga.com/ncyc. Entry requirements, yield worksheets, and more information are available on that website. Participants must submit their harvest results to be included in the 2023 rankings. The 2023 National Corn Yield Contest Winner's Announcement will still take place on Wednesday, December 13. The NCGA National Corn Yield Contest has been organized to encourage the development of new, sustainable, and innovative management practices resulting in higher yields and to show the importance of using sound agricultural practices in United States corn production. Entrants must be a producer and member of the National Corn Growers Association. *********************************************************************************** Application Period Opens for Regional Agricultural Promotion Program Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the first tranche of funding under the USDA's new Regional Agricultural Promotion Program. USDA is providing up to $300 million in funding in its first year to support eligible projects that enable exporters to break into new markets and increase market share in growth markets. Secretary Vilsack announced the funding at the President's Export Council, after announcing the establishment of the program in October. The effort is a $1.2 billion program made possible through the Commodity Credit Corporation, which will be made available over five years. Vilsack says, "It takes significant investment to open and develop new export markets and this new fund will be dedicated to helping provide that start-up capital." The funds are available to non-profit U.S. agricultural trade organizations, non-profit state regional trade groups, agricultural cooperatives, and state agencies that conduct approved market development activities. Applications are due in February and more information is available at grants.gov. *********************************************************************************** RFA Partners with Girls Auto Clinic for Ethanol Education The Renewable Fuels Association has partnered with the Girls Auto Clinic to bring ethanol education and promotion to a new and growing audience: women who are actively interested in auto purchasing, maintenance, and repair. Founded in 2013, Girls Auto Clinic builds and provides tools to drive knowledge and engagement to women, or "shecanics," to own their automotive experiences. The organization empowers women to be fully engaged and confident in purchasing and managing their vehicles, while also increasing the presence of women successfully and happily employed within the automotive industry. RFA Vice President for Industry Relations Robert White says, “It's important for all consumers to understand the value of American-made ethanol, as it provides critical cost savings for families and benefits for the climate and the air we breathe.” Girls Auto Clinic CEO and founder Patrice Banks adds, “with RFA's backing, we can extend our reach, empowering more women across the country to become confident drivers and smart consumers."

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 30, 2023 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report will be posted at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, reports on U.S. personal income and spending in October, the personal consumption expenditures index for October and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage follows at 10 a.m. Weather A storm system is building in the Southern Plains on Thursday, which will bring scattered showers and thunderstorms during the day. The storm system will spread into the Ohio Valley tonight through Friday. Precipitation amounts could be moderate and there is a small risk for accumulating snow on the northern edge of the system from parts of Kansas to Michigan tonight through early Saturday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 29, 2023 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets A report on third-quarter U.S. GDP will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Wednesday. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report will follow at 9:30 a.m. with an update of ethanol production. Traders continue to keep close watch on South American weather. Weather A warm front is bringing some light snow to the Great Lakes on Wednesday, but also much warmer air than Tuesday to much of the country east of the Rockies. Another cold front will drop south out of Canada tonight, though, with slightly cooler air to follow for Thursday across the north.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 29, 2023 |


Growth Rate of Ag Output Continues Slowdown In the last decade, the world’s agricultural output grew at an average annual rate of 1.94 percent per year. A USDA report says that’s slower than the 2.74 percent output growth rate over the previous decade and below the average annual rate of 2.3 percent during the last six decades. The slowdown in agricultural growth was primarily tied to a slowing rate of growth in agricultural total factor productivity, or TFP. The world agriculture’s TFP fell to 1.14 percent per year from 2011-2021 compared to 1.93 percent per year during the previous decade. TFP measures the amount of agricultural output produced from the aggregated inputs used in the production process, including land, labor, capital, and material resources. There are four major sources of overall growth, such as bringing more land into production, extending irrigation to land, intensifying capital use, labor, and material inputs per unit of land, and improving TFP. *********************************************************************************** Groups Respond to Small Refinery Exemptions Decision A coalition representing farmers and ethanol producers responded to last week’s decision of the Fifth Circuit Court on Small Refinery Exemptions under the Renewable Fuels Standard. The Court remanded to the Environmental Protection Agency its rejection of six small refinery exemption requests. The coalition that includes the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol, and the National Farmers Union says they are disappointed by the decision and will continue to defend the Renewable Fuel Standard. “We will continue fighting the illegal abuse of small refinery exemptions,” the groups said in a statement. “As other federal courts have determined, the RFS does not impose an economic burden on oil refiners because any compliance costs are passed down the supply chain.” The groups also say the refiners’ lawsuit wasn’t about economic hardship but more about oil refineries doing everything they could to dodge legal obligations to blend renewable fuels. *********************************************************************************** Grant Applications for Improving School Meals Are Open Applications are now open for the School Food Systems Transformation Challenge Sub-Grants, which is a part of USDA’s Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative. USDA says the grants will transform the K-12 school food marketplace by increasing collaboration between school districts, food producers, suppliers, distributors, and community partners. Students can expect to see improvements in the quality of food on their plates thanks to these new efforts. All eligible applicants are encouraged to consider applying for one or both of the grant opportunities. The first is the Supporting Community Agriculture and Local Education Systems (SCALES) Grant, and the second is Partnerships for Local Agriculture and Nutrition in Schools (PLANTS.) SCALES projects are designed to increase the procurement of locally sourced foods by developing partnerships between schools and producers as well as growers and processors. PLANT projects will support regional efforts to expand scratch-cooked meal programs and create sustainable change for all school districts. *********************************************************************************** Variety Crop Trial Results are Now Available The Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences have published the 2023 Minnesota Field Crop Trials. Crops included in this year’s trial include barley, canola, corn grain, oats, soybeans, spring wheat, winter rye, and winter wheat. The University of Minnesota field crop trials are done every year to provide unbiased and trustworthy information to help farmers when they are ready to make seed choices. The annual Field Crop Trials are one of the key ways that the University of Minnesota works to bring valuable research into the hands of farmers and ultimately help improve farm profitability, improve the economy, and the overall quality of life for farmers and rural communities. Since the late 1880s, the U of M has published reports of crop variety trials, but it wasn’t until 1948 that the trials were combined into a single annual publication. Go to varietytrials.umn.edu. *********************************************************************************** Export Inspections Decline for Corn, Beans, and Wheat The USDA says inspections of corn, soybeans, and wheat all turned lower during the week ending on November 23. Corn inspections dropped to almost 406,700 metric tons from just over 601,000 a week earlier. That’s still above the 311,700 tons assessed during the same week in 2022. Soybean assessments for export fell to 1.44 million tons from 1.63 million the previous week. That’s well below the 2.3 million tons examined during the same week last year. Wheat inspections dropped to 276,600 tons, down from 366,400 tons during the previous week. It’s also lower than the amount of wheat assessed for export during the same week in 2022. Since the start of the marketing year on September 1, the government has inspected 7.27 million metric tons of corn, down from 5.82 million last year. Soybean inspections are at 17.5 million tons, while wheat assessments are two million lower than last year. *********************************************************************************** USDA Report Shows Full Impact of ASF in China An Economic Research Service report shows the full impact of African Swine Fever in China, and the impact was likely more than Chinese officials reported. The agency’s report investigated how China’s reduced pork supplies affected other pork-exporting countries. The virus moved from Europe to China and spread rapidly throughout the country, leading to a 30-month cycle of decline and recovery between 2018 and 2021. China lost an estimated 27.9 million metric tons of its pork production during that 30-month cycle. Pork prices in China more than doubled, with most of the increase occurring about a year after the initial outbreaks. A total of 31 countries saw surging pork exports to China during the down cycle. Impacts on pork markets outside of China were relatively modest. Increases in pork prices in leading exporters like the U.S., Germany, and Spain, were relatively brief and much smaller than the price increases in China.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 28, 2023 |


USMCA Panel Limits U.S. Dairy Access in Canada Late last week, a U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement dispute panel allowed Canada to continue restricting dairy access that the U.S. negotiated for under the agreement. The action came after an earlier panel ruled in January 2022 that Canada had improperly restricted access to its market for American dairy products. American agriculture leaders and groups reacted negatively to the decision. “It’s profoundly disappointing that the dispute settlement panel chose obstruction rather than facilitation in trade,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “We urge USDA and the USTR to look at all available options to ensure that Canada stops playing games with trade agreements.” Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, says this isn’t the only shortcoming in Canada’s international commitments. “We are committed to working with USTR and USDA to address Canada’s harmful actions that help evade USMCA dairy export disciplines,” she says. *********************************************************************************** More Reaction from USMCA Dairy Decision U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said two of the three USMCA dispute panel members found that Canada’s dairy import policies don’t breach its commitments under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. “I’m very disappointed by the findings in the USMCA panel report on Canada’s dairy TRQ allocation measures,” Tai says. “While the United States won a previous USMCA dispute on Canada’s dairy TRQ allocations, Canada’s revised policies still haven’t fixed the problem for U.S. dairy farmers.” In the dispute panel’s report, it found that Canada’s measures are not inconsistent with the USMCA provisions cited by the U.S. The panel split on the U.S. claims that Canada’s exclusion of retailers, food service operators, and others from eligibility and its historical market share approach to allocating dairy TRQs breach its obligations. House Ag Committee Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA) says, “It’s critical we enforce USMCA as this decision allows Canada to continue with its protectionist practices.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Making Investments in U.S. Food Chains Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says his agency is making investments to strengthen American food and agriculture supply chains, expand markets for producers, and lower food costs. “We’re using these investments in agricultural producers and rural entrepreneurs to create better economic opportunities that bolster food supply chains across the country and increase competition,” Vilsack says. “This will result in more affordable prices and choices for consumers, as well as more opportunities and revenues for farmers.” USDA is making investments in 185 projects worth nearly $196 million to create new and better market opportunities in states like Arizona, Illinois, New York, 34 other states, and Puerto Rico. Today’s announcement was made as part of the inaugural meeting of the new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience. The goal is to lower costs for American families and increase investments in American supply chains that are critical to economic and national security. *********************************************************************************** Jury Rules that Egg Producers Conspired to Fix Prices An Illinois jury found that several of the country’s major egg producers conspired to limit America’s supply of eggs in order to raise prices in a case that began in a federal lawsuit 12 years ago. Several large food manufacturing companies in the lawsuit filed in 2011 said producers used various means to limit the U.S. domestic supply of eggs to increase the price of eggs and egg products during the 2000s. “We are incredibly pleased that the jury held egg producers Cal-Maine Foods and Rose Acre Farms accountable alongside United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers for conspiring to inflate the price of eggs,” says Brandon Fox, an attorney for the food manufacturers. Damages will be decided during a trial this week. The jury found the egg suppliers exported eggs to reduce the overall supply in the domestic market and limited the number of chickens available for laying eggs. *********************************************************************************** Nominations are Open for USB’s Legacy Award The United Soybean Board announced a call for nominations for the Tom Oswald Legacy Award. In its second year, this award honors the late Tom Oswald, who will always be remembered as a passionate farmer-leader and dedicated volunteer. The award recognizes someone who went above and beyond to move research and promotion investments forward in a conventional way. “Within our soy community, we are fortunate to have leaders who ensure we’re stewarding farmer checkoff dollars to their full potential,” says Meagan Kaiser, USB Chair. “We look forward to getting numerous worthy nominations and eagerly await the opportunity to celebrate an exceptional leader who’s leading the way for a more prosperous and sustainable future for U.S. soy farmers.” If you know an organization, group, or individual that should be recognized for their efforts and passion for the industry, visit the USB website to submit a nomination. Nominations close on January 8, 2024. *********************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Announces Keynote Speaker at 2024 Convention Greg Harden, a best-selling author and former associate athletic director of student counseling at the University of Michigan, will be the keynote speaker at the 2024 Farm Bureau convention. He’ll address attendees during the closing session of the annual convention on Monday, January 22. Harden counseled more than 400 student-athletes, including names like Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson, and Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps. “Persistent, patient, and resilient are among the traits that professional athletes share with farmers and ranchers,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “That’s why Greg’s message about coaching and mentorship is so timely.” Duvall also says the lineup for the entire convention is outstanding. In addition to guest speakers and exciting competitions, they’ll host important conversations about top priorities for U.S. agriculture, including the farm bill. The 105th AFBF convention is in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 19-24, 2024.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 28, 2023 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are not many reports Tuesday, but there is a report on U.S. consumer confidence at 9 a.m. CST. Traders continue to closely watch South American weather and could be jumpy after Monday's new lows in corn, wheat and livestock. Weather Cold air moving over the Great Lakes continues to produce lake-effect snow Tuesday, leading to some hefty amounts in some of the more prone areas. The rest of the country will be more quiet. Though it is cold this morning in the Plains, temperatures are forecast to increase significantly this afternoon.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 27, 2023 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Slight Warming and Markets Return to Full Time 1. Ag Summit approaches: We're in full swing on registration for our 2023 DTN Virtual Ag Summit, Dec. 5-6. The two half-day sessions will be packed with quick-to-digest presentations on business-critical topics from changing farmland values to finances, interest rates and global economics. 2. Warming trend: While lake-effect snows will continue around the Great Lakes, The Plains will be turn drier and most of the country will see warmer-than-normal temperatures as El Nino conditions continue to build. For longer-term conditions, don't miss DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick's 2024 forecast on Dec. 6 during the DTN Virtual Ag Summit. 3. Volunteers with a view: DTN's Crops Technology Editor Pamela Smith is starting the search for candidates for our annual View From the Cab stories. That highly popular series discusses what's going on in the world of two farm operations, and kicks off just ahead of spring planting. . 4. Watching for awakening markets: As traders come back from the holiday-shortened week, we're watching wheat prices and any surprises from South America. 5. Todd Hultman, will be talking about corn and soybean markets at the Greater Peoria Farm Show through Thursday. Information on that event is here: 5. Economic reports to watch: Monday features a report on new U.S. home sales in October at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. and Crop Progress at 3 p.m. On Tuesday, we'll watch the U.S. consumer confidence report set for 9 a.m. Then Wednesday sees the report on third-quarter U.S. GDP, out at 7:30 a.m. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be released at 9:30 a.m. Thursday starts with USDA's weekly export sales report, posted at 7:30 a.m., the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, reports on U.S. personal income and spending in October, the personal consumption expenditures index for October and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department's report on natural gas storage follows at 10 a.m. On Friday, manufacturing reports arrive overnight from around the world and the Institute of Supply Management's index for the U.S. is released at 9 a.m. At 2 p.m., USDA's NASS releases its monthly Fats and Oils report.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 27, 2023 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will continue to keep watch over South American weather. A report on new U.S. home sales in October will be out at 9 a.m. CST Monday, followed by USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. and Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CFTC data for the week ended Nov. 21 will also be released Monday afternoon. Weather Colder air east of the Rockies is leading to some lake-effect snows around the Great Lakes for Monday. Overnight lows have become especially cold around the snow that fell in the Central and Southern Plains over the holiday weekend. That snow will slowly melt away this week.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 24, 2023 |


Most States Saw Growth in Net Farm Income During 2022 The U.S. saw growth of almost 31 percent in net farm income from 2021 through 2022. NFI is a broad measure of farm sector profitability. Researchers with USDA’s Economic Research Service used data from the Farm Income and Wealth Statistics to classify states into six categories of NFI changes. The five agricultural states with the highest NFI include Texas, which had the highest NFI growth at 65 percent from 2021 to 2022, followed by Minnesota at 55.7 percent. Growth in the remaining top five states, including California, Iowa, and Illinois was also strong. Other states among the top 25 for average NFI had a wide range of NFI changes from 2021 to 2022. Many showed strong growth, such as Idaho at 116 percent, Georgia at 104 percent, Florida at just over 100 percent, and North Dakota at 76 percent. However, Kansas and Washington NFI fell 23 and 28 percent, respectively. *********************************************************************************** Study Proves U.S. Corn Superiority The U.S. Grains Council released its second annual Corn Origins Report, which explores the performance of U.S. corn against corn from other countries in poultry diets. U.S., Argentinian, and Brazilian corn samples were collected from an international feed company in Colombia for use in the study. The study found that birds fed diets with U.S. corn consumed less feed throughout the entire grow-out phase compared to those fed Argentinian or Brazilian corn. The lower feed conversion rates in the poultry fed U.S. corn translated into significant long-term cost savings. Depending upon the number of poultry produced, the savings could be very large. The study was done to address customer concerns about the fragility of U.S. corn and the breakage occurring during the export process. “We found that U.S. corn, despite its fragility, outperforms other origins in terms of digestible starch,” says Kurt Schultz, senior director of Global Strategies for USGC. *********************************************************************************** Horizon Organic Suspends Milk from Texas Farm Danone’s (DA-nun’s) Horizon Organic brand says it has suspended all sourcing of milk from Texas supplier Lone Star Organic Dairy. The move comes after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a whistleblower’s report appearing to show animal suffering and deaths at the operation. PETA shared its findings with USDA and asked the agency to investigate Lone Star Organic Dairy and revoke its organic qualification for any violations that it confirms. Agriculture Dive says Horizon Organic is the second big dairy brand to be hit by animal abuse allegations in the last several months. Tyler Holm, general manager of Horizon Organic, says, “We are deeply disturbed to see the videos and photos shared by PETA. The care and welfare of cows are a critical part of our company and brand values. We take these allegations seriously.” Danone didn’t say what percentage of milk that Lone Star Contributes to the Horizon brand. *********************************************************************************** Minneapolis Fed Releases Third Quarter Survey Results Heading into harvest in the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Banks’ District, farmers faced lower incomes because of falling commodity prices and rising production costs. A third-quarter survey of ag bankers showed that while incomes fell, the decline wasn’t uniform. Districtwide, 46 percent of agricultural lenders said incomes dropped in the third quarter from a year earlier, up from 35 percent in the second quarter. More than a third of the bankers said farm household spending increased, while slightly more than half reported no change. Capital spending also dropped as 35 percent of the bankers saw decreased investment in equipment and buildings from a year ago, compared to 21 percent who reported increased spending. “Interest rates are slowing down borrowing and capital purchases as cash flows are under more stress,” a Minnesota banker reported. Farm finances remained in good condition despite the negative hit to income. Loan repayment rate held steady. *********************************************************************************** Deere Fourth-Quarter Sales Drop Slightly Deere & Co. sales in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023 fell year-over-year, though the earnings per share did increase. The company says in a report that revenue in the three months ending on September 30 was reported at $15.41 billion, one percent lower than the same quarter last year. The equipment manufacturer also says earnings rose to $8.26 a share from $7.44 a year earlier. Production and precision agriculture sales in the fourth quarter fell six percent to $6.97 billion. Small agriculture and turf revenue was down 13 percent year-over-year to $3.09 billion, and construction and forestry sales rose 11 percent to $3.74 billion. “Production and precision agriculture sales decreased in the fourth quarter due to lower shipment volumes partially offset by price realization,” Deere says. Full-year sales for Deere jumped 16 percent to $61.25 billion, while earnings came in at $34.63 a share versus $23.28 a year earlier. *********************************************************************************** NCGA, BASF Announce 16th Annual Scholarship Program The National Corn Growers Association and BASF have partnered for another year to provide scholarships to undergraduate students passionate about agriculture. Over the past sixteen years, more than 80 undergraduate students have received scholarship funds to aid them in pursuing higher education. “BASF has been a long-standing partner in support of this program, and we are grateful for the commitment to building up the next generation of leaders in our industry,” says Dan Nerud, chair of NCGA’s Member and Consumer Engagement Action Team. “Our grower members are passionate about this program, and we are excited for another year of supporting students who share our passion for agriculture.” The William C. Berg Academic Excellence Undergraduate Scholarship is open to NCGA members and their children pursuing an undergraduate degree in any field. A completed application must be submitted by January 31, 2024. Scholarships are for one year, and previous recipients may not apply.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 24, 2023 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report will be posted at 7:30 a.m. CST on Black Friday, a day known more for store bargains and football games. U.S. grain and livestock futures commence trading at 8:30 a.m. for a short holiday session that has most grain and livestock contracts closed by 12:05 p.m. South American weather will remain the focus for any traders of corn and soybeans that show up for work. Weather A cold front continues to sag south through the country Friday, bringing in a burst of seasonably cold air. In the cold, snow has developed in the central Rockies and Central Plains, which continues Friday. Some bursts and streaks of heavier snow will be possible going into the weekend in these areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 22, 2023 |


Groups Express Concern About Disaster Relief Changes The National Corn Growers and 16 state-affiliated associations joined more than 140 allied national, regional, and state commodity organizations opposing changes to USDA disaster relief. The groups sent a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack relaying their concerns with the design of the Emergency Relief Program for 2022. While the group showed appreciation for the allocation of $3.74 billion in much-needed ERP assistance, the groups expressed serious concerns with changes. The biggest change is a “progressive factor” that reduces the disaster assistance for many eligible growers based on the size of the losses. USDA also changed the method used to incorporate producer-paid insurance premiums. “In the case of the progressive payment factor, we oppose a policy that delivers the least amount of benefit to those who have lost the most outside of the payment limits provided in the statute,” the letter says. “Support should be equitable for losses of all magnitudes.” *********************************************************************************** Cattle on Feed Up Two Percent The USDA’s November 1 Cattle on Feed Report says cattle numbers were two percent higher than the previous report. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 1.19 million head on November 1, 2023. That inventory total was two percent higher than on November 1, 2022. Placements in feedlots during October totaled 2.16 million head, four percent higher than in 2022. Net placements were 2.11 million head. During October, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds hit 550,000 head, 600-699 pounds totaled 470,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 465,000 head, and 800-899 pounds were 394,000 head. Cattle weighing 900-999 pounds totaled 205,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 80,000 head. Fed cattle marketings during October totaled 1.76 million head, three percent lower than in 2022. Other disappearances totaled 55,000 head, two percent higher than last year. *********************************************************************************** Strengthening Agriculture’s Talent Pipeline Agriculture Future of America and the National FFA Organization made their partnership official. The groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding during AFA’s Leaders Conference in November. The MOU cements the bond that existed between the two groups and underscores a shared commitment to developing and empowering the next generation of leaders. “AFA and FFA have similar goals and values regarding the role of school-based agricultural education,” says Scott Stump, CEO of the National FFA Organization. One of the primary objectives of this partnership is to create a seamless pathway for young individuals who are passionate about agriculture to transition from FFA to AFA. By doing so, they’ll get access to a wide array of leadership development opportunities, scholarships, internships, membership programs, and job opportunities. FFA and AFA also intend to collaborate on various projects and initiatives that promote agricultural education and leadership, including the chance to interact with experienced professionals *********************************************************************************** Partnership to Create Jobs and Growth in Rural America USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl (zo-CHEEL) Torres Small announced that the agency is strengthening a longstanding partnership with the Small Business Administration. The goal is to create jobs and expand access to new and better market opportunities for people in rural America. “We’re redoubling our commitment to drive economic security and prosperity for people in rural America, so they can find opportunities to succeed right in the places they call home,” Torres Small says. “Strengthening our collaboration with the SBA helps us expand these opportunities for people to build brighter futures for generations to come.” The agencies are committing to increase investments in small and underserved communities to help grow the rural economy. They may also work together to provide joint trainings, technical assistance, and mentorship opportunities for rural small business owners and entrepreneurs. They may also help producers and small businesses identify ways to export their products around the world. *********************************************************************************** Dairy FARM Program Announces Excellence Award Winners The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program announced the winners of the third annual FARM Excellence Awards. The FARM Program recognized three farms and one evaluator who go above and beyond industry standards through their commitment to innovation and improvement. The 2023 Excellence Award winners are Ingleside Dairy Farm of Virginia and Newmont Farm in Vermont, and Jim Kaufman of AMPI was named the Evaluator Award winner. The FARM Excellence Award for Environmental Stewardship was awarded to a Dairy Farmers of America farm that wished to remain unnamed. “The FARM Program would not be able to demonstrate the high quality of U.S. dairy without the dedication of our producers and evaluators,” says FARM Program Executive Director Emily Stepp. Winners were announced on November 14 at the Joint Annual Meeting of the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, the National Milk Producers Federation, and the United Dairy Industry Association. *********************************************************************************** Montana Singer to Perform National Anthem at CattleCon24 The winner of the 11th annual NCBA National Anthem Contest is Anna Sponheim of Winfred, Montana. Sponheim will sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at CattleCon24 in Orlando, Florida, during the Opening General Session. “I’m elated and grateful to win this contest,” says Sponheim. “I may have been chosen, but this is a win for Montana and everyone who supported me. I hope I can do them proud.” Sponheim grew up helping her family grow wheat, barley, hay, and peas, and raise Black Angus Cows near the Upper Missouri River Basin. After graduating from Montana State University with degrees in agricultural communications and writing, she joined the staff at the Montana Beef Council. “I count it a good day when I can talk to people about the beef industry, the nutrients beef provides, and the positive impact producers have on the environment,” Sponheim adds. For more information or to register, go to convention.ncba.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 22, 2023 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets U.S. weekly jobless claims and durable goods orders for October are set for 7:30 a.m. CST Wednesday. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be released, followed by natural gas storage at 10 a.m. and USDA's monthly cold storage report at 2 p.m. South American weather continues to get a lot of attention. U.S. grain and livestock futures have normal closes Wednesday, are closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and start again at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning for a short session, in which most contracts close at 12:05 p.m. Weather A system continues to push off the East Coast on Wednesday morning, where some areas of accumulating snow occurred in the Northeast. Another cold front is slipping south through the Canadian Prairies and will press through the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest throughout the day. Behind it, precipitation will develop in the northern Rockies and adjacent areas of the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest, which will amount to accumulating snow tonight into Thanksgiving Day.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 21, 2023 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders will remain focused on South American weather and are straining for forecasts after this week. A report on U.S. existing home sales in October will be out at 9 a.m. CST. Minutes from the latest FOMC meeting are set for 1 p.m. Weather A storm system continues to move through the eastern half of the country Tuesday, bringing widespread moderate-to-heavy showers for the Great Lakes down to the Southeast and points eastward. This is mostly occurring as rain, but there is some wintry mix over Michigan and parts of the Northeast will see a mix as well. Winds are a little breezy with this system, too.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 20, 2023 |


Survey Reveals Importance of AM Radio The agricultural industry has been one of the biggest supporters of the “AM for Every Vehicle Act” since its introduction. Radio Ink says the industry has spending power of more than $576 billion spread across millions of workers. MRI-Simmons, the leading study of American consumer attitudes and behaviors, explored the media choices of agricultural workers. Those workers are big audio consumers, with more than half qualifying as heavy listeners. They listen to audio 60 percent more than the internet and 51 percent more than television. At the other end of the media spectrum, close to half of all ag workers fall into the light user category for internet and TV and outnumber the heavy users. Eight in 10 ag workers favor AM/FM and tune into radio, ahead of streaming audio, podcasts, and satellite radio. The heavy audio usage is likely because of the fact that it’s an “everywhere” media with easy access. *********************************************************************************** Credit Conditions Soften with Farm Economy Agricultural credit conditions in the Kansas City Fed’s Tenth District softened during the third quarter of 2023. Farm income and loan repayment rates were lower than a year ago for the second straight quarter. The moderation was more pronounced in areas hit hardest by drought, but more tempered in areas most concentrated in cattle production. Conditions have weakened slightly following two years of significant improvement that continued to support loan performance. Despite softening farm finances and substantially higher interest rates, agricultural real estate values in the region remained firm. The ag economy has softened in recent quarters alongside a moderation in commodity prices. Together with elevated production costs, a drop in the price of many key products during the past year has likely reduced farm income in 2023. Despite softening incomes with high-interest costs, ag loan performance has remained solid with ongoing support from strong finances during the past two years. *********************************************************************************** Irrigators Invited to Respond to Irrigation, Water Management Survey The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service mailed survey codes to a selected sample of irrigators across 50 states with an invitation to respond to the 2023 Irrigation and Water Management Survey. The survey is a special study with the 2022 Census of Agriculture and provides the only comprehensive dataset of irrigation activities and water use across American farms, ranches, and horticultural operations. Producer input will aid USDA’s efforts to promote efficient irrigation practices and long-term sustainability of water resources across the U.S. The survey will be mailed in phases, with paper questionnaires following in January. Producers only need to respond once, either online or by mail. All responses are due by February 15, 2024. “Water is arguably the most important resource for agriculture and horticulture operations,” says NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “This survey is an opportunity to provide data that will influence policy decisions and impact the industry for years.” *********************************************************************************** American Lamb Board Seats Two New Members The USDA appointed five board members to the American Lamb Board who will contribute their expertise to advance the American Lamb industry. The board members begin their three-year terms in January 2024 and conclude in January 2027 and bring a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives to the industry. One new members is Steve Breeding of Seaford, Delaware, a producer with 100 or fewer head. Catherine Harper of Eaton, Colorado, is the other new member and a feeder with less than 5,000 head. “While there are a lot of sheep and lambs grown west of the Mississippi, there is also a lot on the east coast that people don’t always remember,” Breeding says. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with that group and putting the East Coast on the map.” Harper is a 26-year-old from Colorado who runs 3,500 sheep of her own in addition to the feedlot her family runs. *********************************************************************************** Challenge Ahead for Deere Patent Lawsuit Ruling Kinze Manufacturing says while it can’t comment on ongoing litigation, the company did say that a jury in the Southern District of Iowa issued a verdict it doesn’t agree with. The jury found that the True Speed and Sure Speed systems infringe on certain Deere and Company patents. Kinze and Ag Leader say they “strongly disagree” with the verdict and intend to pursue their rights to challenge the verdict. An Iowa jury returned a verdict on October 30 that found Kinze and Ag Leader had infringed on several John Deere patents regarding True Speed/Sure Speed technology. The jury sided with Deere on four claims of patent infringement but found that Deere didn’t prove the infringements were willful. Additionally, the jury found that Kinze and Ag Leader’s countersuit did not prove any of Deere’s asserted claims were invalid. The jury said Deere was entitled to over $14 million in royalty compensation. *********************************************************************************** Survey Discovers Top Thanksgiving Leftovers Pumpkin pie, turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole are some of the time-honored foods found at most Thanksgiving tables. But a survey shows those are also some of the top day-after sandwich items. A Harris Poll survey did a deep dive into America’s favorite Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. More than 94 percent of the respondents dine on a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. Stapes like gravy (42 percent), ham (41 percent), and stuffing (39 percent) trailed turkey (81 percent) as the most popular items that belong on a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. Pumpkin pie-filled sandwiches were a must-have ingredient in a leftover sandwich for 11 percent of the respondents. Americans also love adding hot dish leftovers into their post-Thanksgiving sandwiches, with Mac and Cheese (21 percent), Green Bean Casserole (14 percent), corn casserole (10 percent), and broccoli casserole (nine percent) reported by survey participants. White bread (20 percent) was the bread winner for sandwiches.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 20, 2023 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Give Thanks During a Shortened Week 1. Short markets week for Thanksgiving: As we gather stories for the week, families will gather across the country to give thanks for the year that was 2023. We hope it has been a positive year for our readers and their families, despite the many challenges the year brought. DTN's holiday coverage schedule will look like this: Wednesday markets open and close as normal, we'll have normal Closing Market Video and Six Factor strategies updates for DTN subscribers. Thursday, U.S. markets are closed, but Canadian markets are open so DTN Canadian Analyst Cliff Jamieson will still have some market updates. On Friday, grain and livestock futures markets open at 8:30 a.m.; we will carry Early Word Grains and Before the Bell grains comments that morning ahead of the opening. Most grain and livestock futures markets will close at 12:30 p.m. We will not have a Closing Markets video that afternoon, and the CFTC will not release updated position data until Nov. 27. 2. Reminder on Ag Summit: There is still plenty of time to sign up for the 2023 DTN Virtual Ag Summit, Dec. 5-6. We'll have sessions on a number of business-critical topics from interest rates, changing farmland values and global economics. 3. Holiday cold snap: Rain systems during the Nov. 18 weekend will bring colder air in for the holiday and the following weekend. DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick notes that temperatures may reach even lower than current estimates. He adds the dip will likely hold through the first days of December, but then temperatures should be milder. El Nino usually means a mild December in the U.S., and Baranick says weather models have a very "El Nino look" to them, at least through mid month. That's not good news for winter wheat. 4. Eyes on South America: Traders continue to watch weather and crop conditions in South America, particularly Brazil. Conditions there are expected to be wetter in the south, drier in northern states. Argentina has seen inconsistent rainfall of late but is still in much better shape than 2022. 5. Economic reports to watch: Monday -- The index of U.S. leading indicators will be out at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. and Crop Progress at 3 p.m. On Tuesday the report on U.S. existing home sales in October will be out at 9 a.m. Minutes from the latest FOMC meeting will be revealed at 1 p.m. On Wednesday, U.S weekly jobless claims and durable goods orders for October come out at 7:30 a.m. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be released, followed by natural gas storage at 10 a.m. and USDA's monthly cold storage report at 2 p.m. On Thursday, U.S. futures markets are closed for Thanksgiving. On the shortened market day Friday, we'll see USDA weekly export sales posted at 7:30 a.m.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 20, 2023 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will continue to keep watch over South American weather. The index of U.S. leading indicators will be out at 9 a.m. CST Monday, followed by USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. and Crop Progress at 3 p.m. Weather A storm system moved into the Plains on Sunday and will continue to develop and move east Monday. It will spread showers through much of the middle of the country today, including a risk of severe weather in the Lower Mississippi Valley where rain is most welcome.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 17, 2023 |


USDA Announces Release Details for 2022 Census of Ag The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will release the 2022 Census of Agriculture data on February 13, 2024. NASS concluded the data collection during the summer with a preliminary national return rate of 61 percent. “On behalf of everyone at USDA, I’d like to thank the millions of producers who gave their time and effort to complete the 2022 Census of Agriculture,” says NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “Ag census data will inform decisions about policy, farm and conservation programs, rural development, research, technology development, ag education, and more during the next several years.” He also says the data will have a very real impact on producers, their farming operations, and communities. The ag census data will be available at nass.usda.gov and in the NASS searchable database. Like all NASS data, ag census data will only be available in aggregate form, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. *********************************************************************************** Consumer Report Highlights Thanksgiving Meal Plans Approximately 79 percent of Americans are gearing up for a Thanksgiving meal next week. Purdue University’s Consumer Food Insights says among that crowd, 37 percent plan to host the meal, 43 percent have chosen to attend, and the rest plan to dine out during the holiday. Turkey prices are 10-15 percent lower than last year. However, people are still bracing for higher prices and planning to budget even more for this year’s meal. The report explores consumer food behaviors for the upcoming holiday across different U.S. regions. While turkey is planned to be the centerpiece nationwide, each region has its own traditions. The South is more likely to serve macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and ham. Meanwhile, pies seem to be a stronger tradition in the Midwest. Many consumers attending or hosting Thanksgiving believe travel costs to get to their preferred destination will be higher this year compared to last year. *********************************************************************************** USDA Says Farm Share of Food Dollar Dipped Further in 2022 America’s farms received 14.9 cents per dollar spent on domestically produced food in 2022 as compensation for farm commodity production. This portion called the farmer’s share is a decrease of 0.3 cents from a revised 15.2 cents in 2021. The farm share covers operating expenses and input costs from non-farm establishments. The remaining portion of the U.S. food dollar is called the marketing share, which covers the costs of getting domestically produced food from farms to points of purchase. That includes the costs of transportation, processing, and selling to consumers. One of the factors behind the long-term downward trend in the farm share is an increasing proportion of food-away-from-home spending. Farms get a lower portion of dollars spent on food away from home because of the added costs of preparing and serving meals. The Economic Research Service uses input-output analysis to calculate the farm and marketing shares of a food dollar. *********************************************************************************** National Sorghum Producers Announce New Executive Director National Sorghum Producers is pleased to announce the hire of Greg Ruehle as its new Executive Director. Ruehle brings a wealth of experience in agriculture and association management to his new role. His leadership comes at a pivotal time as NSP continues to grow and expand its impact on the sorghum industry. He was raised on a diversified grain and livestock farm in northwest Iowa. “We are thrilled to welcome Greg as the new NSP Executive Director,” says NSP CEO Tim Lust. “As our association continues to grow and with the expansion of the Partnerships for the Climate-Smart Commodities grant, we are stepping up expanded leadership in our organization.” He’s a past president and CEO for the Independent Professional Seed Association, the Nebraska Cattlemen, and ServiTech, Inc. “Sorghum’s time has definitely come,” Ruehle says. “From water conservation to reduced GHG emissions, sorghum has an expanding role to play, and I’m excited.” *********************************************************************************** Nominations Open for Animal Agriculture Water Quality Committee The Environmental Protection Agency published a Federal Register Notice on November 16 establishing the Animal Agriculture Water Quality subcommittee. It’s under the umbrella of the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee. Nominations are open for members who want to serve on the AAWQ subcommittee. The primary subcommittee goal will be to develop recommendations that will inform the Agency’s decisions regarding how to improve the implementation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System’s (NPDES) Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation permitting program. That program is designed to reduce nutrients and other types of water pollutants more effectively from Animal Feeding Operations. EPA says it’s committed to working with stakeholders, advocates, communities, and industry to explore how to achieve water quality improvements related to CAFOs. The EPA is accepting subcommittee nominations until January 2, 2024. The agency welcomes nominations from a diverse range of qualified candidates for appointment to serve on the subcommittee. *********************************************************************************** USDA Scheduling 2024 Trade Missions Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack released the next steps in the Department’s efforts to bolster U.S. ag trade, including the agency’s planned trade missions for 2024. Ag exports totaled a record $196 billion in 2022 following a record-setting year in 2021. USDA plans to build on recent successes and highlight export opportunities in additional markets through a robust agribusiness trade mission schedule next year. USDA will lead trade missions to several markets, including Seoul, Korea; New Delhi, India; Vancouver, Canada; Bogota, Colombia; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam; and Casablanca, Morocco. In addition, Vilsack announced a public comment period for the new Regional Agricultural Promotion Program. Combined, these efforts will help support further growth in U.S. agricultural exports and introduce high-quality U.S. agricultural products to new markets. “Market diversification is an important tool for maximizing growth opportunities for U.S. agriculture, as well as hedging the risk of market contraction,” Vilsack says.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 17, 2023 |


WOTUS Lawsuits Restart in Fed Courts - States, Ag Groups Wage Fight Against Amended WOTUS Rule in Federal Courts LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- A total of 26 states and a group of agriculture interests have renewed the legal fight against the Biden administration's Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, filing amended complaints in federal courts this week aimed at an amended rule finalized in September. The renewed legal fight is playing out in federal courts in Texas and North Dakota. After the Supreme Court ruled against EPA in Sackett v. EPA earlier this year, President Joe Biden's administration finalized an amended rule on Sept. 8, 2023, that removed the use of the significant-nexus test in making Clean Water Act (CWA)determinations -- without conducting a public comment period. NO PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD PROVIDED The states argue in an amended complaint filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, that EPA committed several violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, including not providing a public comment period before releasing the amended final rule. The states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Two other states, Texas and Idaho, have filed a separate amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The states also argue the amended rule violates the Clean Water Act and the Constitution, asking the court to vacate the rule and send it back to the EPA. "The amended final rule, that is the final rule as modified by the conforming rule, remains riddled with problems," the states said in the complaint. NO REASONABLE CONNECTION The states said the rule includes waters with "no reasonable connection to navigable waters" and is arbitrary and capricious "because, among many things, it embraces vague standards with little justification and minimal consideration of costs." The initial lawsuit filed in February asked the court to throw out the Biden rule, claiming the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "toppled the cooperative federalism regime" by implementing a rule that is "overbroad and hopelessly vague." That initial lawsuit resulted in an injunction against the rule's enforcement in the 24 states. "Meanwhile, if the amended final rule is left in place, then ranchers, farmers, miners, homebuilders and other landowners across the country will struggle to undertake even the simplest of activities on their own property without fear of drawing the ire of the federal government," the states said in the new complaint. "Landowning Americans of all stripes will thus be left with a choice: fight their way through an expensive and lengthy administrative process to obtain complex jurisdictional determinations and permits or face substantial civil and criminal penalties. The amended final rule's ambiguous environmental benefits do not justify any of this." Two state-level agriculture groups in North Dakota, including the Cass County Farm Bureau and North Dakota Farm Bureau, that intervened in the case on behalf of the states also filed an amended complaint this week. "The amended rule failed, however, to address numerous other significant flaws in the 2023 rule," the ag groups said in their complaint. The ag groups pointed to one example of a problem in the amended rule. WOTUS DEFINITION The definition of WOTUS applies the relatively permanent standard to tributaries to traditional navigable waters, the territorial seas, interstate waters or impoundments of WOTUS, intrastate lakes and ponds, streams, or wetlands, and wetlands adjacent to and with a continuous surface connection to relatively permanent impoundments, and wetlands adjacent to tributaries that meet the relatively permanent standard. Texas and Idaho, as well as a group of agriculture interest groups, have filed their amended complaints against EPA in lawsuits that were first filed in January 2023. In an amended complaint filed by Texas and Idaho in the U.S. District Court for the District of Southern Texas in Galveston, the states allege the EPA promulgated the final amended rule without allowing public comment. "They used the Sackett opinion to justify depriving the public and plaintiffs of notice and the opportunity to comment on a rule with nationwide importance," according to the Texas and Idaho complaint. Leading up to the drafting of the Biden rule, ag groups and others asked the administration to hold off on the rulemaking until the Supreme Court ruled on the Sackett case. "The amended 2023 rule maintains the ambiguity of the 2023 rule, leaving those wishing to identify the ambit of federal power over dry land or minor water features at the mercy of an expensive, vague and arbitrary analysis, lest they face a staggering criminal or civil penalty," the states said. OTHER INTEREST GROUPS Also filing an amended complaint in the Texas court was a group of 18 interest groups from the agriculture, oil and housing industries. The American Farm Bureau Federation is joined in the amended lawsuit by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Producers Council, Matagorda County Farm Bureau, Public Lands Council, Texas Farm Bureau and U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, as well as the American Petroleum Institute. They have asked the Texas court to declare the amended rule unlawful. "The amended rule fails to remedy the vagueness concerns in the 2023 rule, and thus imposes impossible and unpredictable burdens on landowners, users and purchasers," the groups said. "It requires them to assess not only their own land but also vast expanses of land beyond their own holdings, using multiple vaguely defined connections to potentially remote features, in an effort to determine if their land is regulated under the CWA. The consequence is a sweeping and unwieldy regulation that leaves the identification of jurisdictional waters so opaque, uncertain and all-encompassing that plaintiffs and their members and clients cannot determine whether and when the most basic activities undertaken on land will subject them to drastic criminal and civil penalties."

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 17, 2023 |


Friday Watch List Markets Traders remain highly interested in South American weather. A report on U.S. housing starts for October is due out at 7:30 a.m. CST Friday. USDA's monthly Cattle on Feed report for Nov. 1 is set for 2 p.m. Cattle traders have been anxious ever since the October report showed higher-than-expected placements. A 7% increase in placements from a year ago is anticipated in Friday's report. Weather A cold front continues to race through the central and eastern parts of the country Friday, providing some rain to the Eastern Corn Belt and sending temperatures back to normal briefly. We will see them perk up this weekend ahead of a pattern-changing system that is now off the coast of California.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 16, 2023 |


Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Drops Slightly This year’s Thanksgiving Day dinner won’t be as hard on the checkbook as it was in 2022. However, the meal will still reflect historically high costs. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 38th annual survey provides a snapshot of the average costs of this year’s holiday feast for 10, which is $61.17 or less than $6.20 per person. This is a 4.5 percent decrease from last year’s record-high of $64.05, but a Thanksgiving meal is still 25 percent higher than in 2019. The centerpiece of a traditional meal is turkey, which helped bring down the overall cost. A 16-pound turkey averages $27.35 or $1.71 per pound, down 5.6 percent from 2022. Cranberries took the sharpest drop as a 12-ounce bag averages $2.10, down 18 percent from last year. The cost for a classic meal was cheapest in the Midwest at $58.66. The Northeast was the most expensive at a cost of $88.43. *********************************************************************************** Groups Applaud House Passing Farm Bill Extension Competitive Markets Action and the Organization for Competitive Markets applauded the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 6363, which included a one-year extension of the current farm bill. “We applaud Speaker Mike Johnson and House leadership for swiftly passing the bill by an overwhelming margin in the chamber closest to the American people,” says Marty Irby, president of Competitive Markets Action. “We are grateful to Ag Committee Chair Glenn ‘G.T.’ Thompson for securing an extension of the farm bill through the Fall of 2024.” They also say the maneuver offers ample time and opportunity to get the job done right. “We also hope House and Senate leaders will produce a new farm bill that brings clarity to the marketplace by preventing the nullification of countless state and local agriculture laws that some legislators are seeking to wipe out,” Irby adds. “We’re hoping to bring significant reform to USDA’s commodity checkoff programs.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Investing in Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers USDA’s Deputy Secretary Xochitl (zo-CHEEL) Torres Small announced the agency is investing $27.9 million across 45 organizations that teach and train beginning farmers and ranchers, including veterans. “The next generation of farmers and ranchers hold the promise for the future of American agriculture and rural prosperity,” says Torres Small. “We’re providing our newest producers with the support they need to succeed and the educational resources to guide their operations on the path toward long-term sustainability and profitability.” The investment is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program which supports a wide range of professional development activities and topics, such as managing capital, acquiring and managing land, and learning effective business and farming practices. As the average age of U.S. producers continues increasing, Torres Small says the agency is accelerating efforts to provide meaningful support to a large number of upcoming farmers and ranchers. *********************************************************************************** CoBank: Grain Storage Outlook Improves The profit outlook for U.S. grain elevators storing corn and soybeans has improved significantly for the 2023-2024 marketing year with buy basis falling and carries returning to the futures markets. The world market is currently awash in grains, and CoBank says global supplies of corn and soybeans are abundant. The current challenge for grain elevators is simply getting ownership of bushels. Farmers have been reluctant to sell as corn and soybean prices are down sharply from their peaks early in the year. A new report from CoBank says the challenge of getting bushels should begin slowing in early 2024. The rising cost environment will likely compel farmers to begin selling in January, February, and March 2024 to generate cash ahead of next spring’s planting and operating expenses. “Higher land rents and borrowing costs combined with rising input prices will likely compel farmers to sell in 2024,” says Tanner Ehmke of CoBank. *********************************************************************************** Dairy’s Long-Term Outlook is Bright The future of America’s dairy farming is bright as global growth and American production capacity and innovation combine to create a “powerhouse.” Gregg Doud is the incoming president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “In terms of the protein world, dairy is a huge part of the future,” Doud says. “As a former Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, I can tell you the opportunities are there for U.S. dairy’s taking with robust outreach and appeals to the world’s consumers.” Doud made his remarks during the NMPF’s annual meeting in Florida. During the past year, America’s dairy producers faced operating margins at their lowest since the federal dairy safety net was adopted in its current structure in 2014 as prices plummeted from record highs. Forecasts during a panel discussion showed an improving price outlook for next year, even as inflation continues to be a challenge for consumers. *********************************************************************************** Dolcini Joins American Farmland Trust Board of Directors Val Dolcini (Dole-CHEE-nee) was unanimously elected to the American Farmland Trust Board of Directors by the AFT members. Dolcini is the U.S. Head of Sustainability and Government Affairs for Syngenta and will support the members’ efforts to promote sound farming practices while protecting and keeping farmers on the land. “We are thrilled to have Val join AFT to help us grow to new heights in the future,” says AFT President and CEO John Piotti (Pee-AHT-tee). “Val’s diverse and extensive experience in agriculture and passion for our work will be an invaluable asset for AFT in the years to come.” Dolcini’s work spans over 25 years of agricultural policy and management experience in the state, federal, and nonprofit sectors. “Farming and agriculture have been my focus and passion throughout my entire career,” says Dolcini. “I specifically want to focus my time on the board to expand opportunities for new and beginning farmers.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 16, 2023 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday, the same time as U.S. weekly jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. U.S. industrial production is set for 8:15 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's updated report on natural gas storage at 9:30 a.m. The International Grains Council issues its monthly report Thursday and, at 2 p.m., USDA will provide its Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook. Weather A little system developed along a front near the Canadian border Wednesday night and will push that front quickly through the northern half of the Plains and Upper Midwest on Thursday. The front will not have much precipitation with it but will cause breezy winds and a drop in temperatures. The front will get more active east of the Mississippi River for Friday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 15, 2023 |


NFU Releases Farmer’s Share of Thanksgiving Food Dollar The National Farmers Union released its Farmers’ Share of the Food Dollar Report for items typically served during the Thanksgiving holiday. These figures reflect how much family farmers earn compared to the amount consumers pay at the grocery store. Consumers are likely to see an increase when they shop for the holiday meal, but little of that increase will get passed on to American farmers and ranchers. An 11-pound turkey retails for $21.89, with the farmer’s share at 66 cents. A 12-ounce box of stuffing is $3.99, and the farmer gets nine cents. Sixteen-ounce frozen sweet corn costs $2.99, and the farmer gets 41 cents. Pumpkin pie filling is $1.79 a can, and farmers get 16 cents. A five-pound bag of mashed potatoes costs $3.99, and farmers get 64 cents. A two-pound boneless ham is $12.98, with the farmer receiving $1.32. Twelve-ounce cranberries are $2.99, and the farmer’s share is 29 cents. *********************************************************************************** Stabenow Calls for More Farm Bill Urgency Debbie Stabenow, Senate Ag Committee Chair, is looking for more urgency from farm groups about getting a new farm bill in place. The Fence Post says Stabenow recalled farm bill negotiations dragging on during 2013 and says there was a “sense of urgency” in the agricultural community about getting it done. However, the Michigan Senator says she doesn’t get that same sense of urgency now. While an extension is considered important, she says it’s absolutely vital that Congress get a new farm bill written and passed in 2024. “I want to hear more of a sense of urgency from ag groups,” Stabenow told a group of reporters after a hearing. John Boozman (BOZE-man), ranking member from Arkansas, says he believes farm groups are “expressing urgency.” However, farm leaders know times are so different from 2018 and that “we don’t just need to do something, we need to do the right thing.” *********************************************************************************** November Oil Crops Outlook Increases Soybean Production, Stocks This month, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service raised the 2023-2024 national average soybean yield to 49.9 bushels an acre in its Crop Production Report. That’s up from 49.6 bushels an acre in the previous report. This revision has increased the 2023-2024 soybean production forecast by 25 million bushels to 4.13 billion bushels. Higher yields in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Ohio, North Dakota, and South Dakota have contributed to the higher yield forecast. With soybean crush and exports unchanged this month, soybean ending stocks for the 2023-2024 marketing year are now forecast at 245 million bushels. The season-average soybean price forecast is unchanged this month at $12.90 a bushel. With the U.S. soybean supply forecast for 2023-2024 at 4.43 billion bushels, 25 million higher than last month’s forecast with unchanged demand, soybean ending stocks were raised to 245 million bushels. U.S. soybean oil production for the 2022-2023 marketing year is finalized at 26.2 billion pounds. *********************************************************************************** CHS Foundations Awards $4.3 Million to National FFA Foundation The CHS Foundation announced grants of $4.3 million to the National FFA Organization, continuing a partnership to support the next generation of agricultural leaders. “We are thrilled to continue this partnership with CHS,” says Molly Ball, president of the National FFA Foundation. “Throughout our partnership, CHS has been unwavering in its support and continues to see the potential leaders in each of our members and advisors.” The grants will help fund FFA programs in 17 states, provide scholarships for attending conferences and contests, and introduce students from all backgrounds to ag careers through the workforce development program. It will also support the National Association of Ag Educators in attracting ag teachers and building strong teaching programs. “CHS and its foundation are proud to make the largest gift in the foundation’s 75-year history to the National FFA,” says Megan Wolle, president of the CHS Foundation. “We’re connecting to the next generation of leaders.” *********************************************************************************** Paraguay Beef Imports Won’t Boost Tight U.S. Supplies USDA’s decision to accept beef imports from Paraguay for the first time in 25 years will likely not change the overall volume of U.S. imports, even during tight supplies and high prices. U.S. meat importers tell Reuters that’s due to a quota on shipments. American beef prices set records this year because of herd contraction to its smallest level in decades. As a result, meat companies are relying on more imports to process enough ground beef to meet demand. Paraguay didn’t negotiate with the U.S. to sell beef under its own quota agreement. That means it has to compete with other countries in the same situation to fill a group tariff-rate quota. The quota for these countries, including Brazil, Ireland, Japan, and Namibia, is approximately 650,000 metric tons. Suppliers already filled that quota earlier this year. Suppliers face a steep 26 percent tax on the value of products shipped above the quota. *********************************************************************************** Beyond Meat Struggling to Stay Afloat An industry analyst says Beyond Meat may need to reach into the financial markets next year to stay in business. Ag Funder News says the firm posted a $70.5 million net loss in the third quarter. Net revenues slid again at the plant-based meat company in Q3, dropping eight percent year-over-year and 26 percent versus the prior quarter. Beyond Meat did see positive free cash flow in the third quarter, but the company doesn’t expect to sustain it. Industry analysts are saying that the firm is now in “survival mode” and will need to tap the financial markets in 2024 to stay afloat. CEO Ethan Brown says the company anticipated a modest return to growth in the third quarter that did not occur. “We did see pockets of growth, especially in the EU, where we saw double-digit gains in net revenues,” Brown says. “But we are still disappointed with the overall results.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 15, 2023 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CST Wednesday, the U.S. producer price index and retail sales reports for October will be released. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be out with updated data after last week's absence, due to system upgrades. The National Oilseeds Processors Association will have an estimate of members' soybean crush later Wednesday morning. At 2 p.m., USDA will have new cost of production forecasts for 2023. U.S. President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping are set to meet in San Francisco Wednesday and traders will be keenly watching any trade-related comments. Weather A disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico will continue to produce areas of showers in eastern sections on Wednesday. A cold front is also setting up along the Canadian border from Montana to North Dakota that will produce a band of showers there Wednesday night, mostly in the form of snow. Otherwise, the majority of the country will be dry and warm by mid-November standards.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 14, 2023 |


Ag Committee Leaders Agree on One-Year Farm Bill Extension Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees came to an agreement on extending the lifespan of the 2018 Farm Bill by one year. The agreement came with the release of a House Republican proposal funding USDA operations through January 19. A 32-page continuing resolution contained 17 pages on farm bill extension and provided some funding for small-ticket programs that had run out, such as feral swine eradication. Dairy subsidies would be extended through December 31, 2024, to avert a looming dairy cliff on January 1. Leaders from both ag committees say the extension “in no way” substitutes in place of a five-year farm bill. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson revealed a two-part funding package that would provide money for some federal operations, including USDA, for two months and through February 2 for the rest of government. The extension depends on House, Senate, and White House agreement on the CR. *********************************************************************************** FAO Predicts Decline International Foodstuffs Trade The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization predicts a declining international trade in foodstuffs for multiple reasons. While the organization’s latest forecasts point to favorable production outlooks for most basic foodstuffs, global food production systems remain vulnerable to several risks. Those challenges include extreme weather events, rising geopolitical tensions, and policy changes that could potentially tip the delicate supply-demand balances and dampen prospects for international trade in food commodities and global food security. The global food import bill is forecast to reach a new high of $2 trillion in 2023. High-income and upper-middle-class countries are expected to lead the increase. Other challenges include the cost of shipping those foodstuffs. Dry bulk freight costs across the grains and oilseeds routes mostly edged higher during the six months leading up to October 2023 but remained well below last year’s levels. However, robust demand has led to a recent rebound in freight rates. *********************************************************************************** Hearing on Carbon-Capture Pipeline Ends in Iowa Summit Carbon Solutions presented a request to Iowa regulators to build a $5.5 billion carbon capture pipeline. Local reports say Iowa regulators recently concluded a hearing on the subject. However, deciding whether the company should get a construction permit and eminent domain powers to get land for the pipeline could take many months. The Sierra Club’s Iowa Chapter opposes the project. Sierra’s attorney says regulators likely won’t issue a decision until March or April. That allows enough time needed to file legal documents and responses. Summit’s pipeline would also run through South Dakota and into Minnesota and Nebraska. The company says the pipeline is critical to helping ethanol remain marketable as the nation seeks to lower its greenhouse gas emissions. Iowa residents are concerned about safety and property rights. Summit says it has agreements in place with 75 percent of the affected landowners, and the project will exceed federal safety standards. *********************************************************************************** FFA, 4-H Members Admitted Free to NCBA Trade Show The next generation of agricultural leaders are invited to attend the NCBA Trade Show at CattleCon24 for free on Friday, February 2. FFA and 4-H members can get that free admission on Next Gen Ag FFA & 4-H Day, which will include a variety of events and activities for youth and families. Courtesy of Culver’s, the first 250 FFA members to register will receive complimentary Friday NCBA trade show admission. Nationwide is providing complimentary Friday NCBA Trade Show admission to the first 250 4-H members who register. Trade Show attendees can explore more than eight acres of displays and exhibitors offering the latest advancements in equipment, technology, and feed supplements. To get the free Friday NCBA Trade Show registration, FFA members must use the code FFACULVERS, and 4-H members, 4HNW. A variety of other registration options are available. For more information and to register and reserve housing, go to convention.ncba.org. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Reducing Beef Exports as Herd Shrinks The nation’s ranchers slashed the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest level in decades. As a result, the U.S. is importing record amounts of beef this year and exporting much less. The steep drop in cattle numbers has led to significantly higher beef prices. Reuters says those high prices make companies look to import cheaper beef and discourage American beef purchases by buyers like China, Japan, and Egypt. The USDA expects the U.S. to drop to fourth in the rankings for the largest beef and veal exporters, down from number two last year. America’s beef exports are projected to sink 14 percent from 2022 to three billion pounds, the lowest level since COVID slowed meat processing and international trading in 2020. USDA expects American beef production to decline further in 2024 due to tight cattle supplies, and beef exports are forecast to hit an eight-year low of 2.8 billion pounds. *********************************************************************************** Ag Export Values Dropped in FY 2023 Agricultural export values in fiscal year 2023 that ran through September 30 declined while imports narrowly increased. Agricultural product values from October 2022 through the end of September were reported to be $178.7 billion, down from $196.1 billion a year earlier. A USDA report last week said import values rose 0.6 percent to $195.4 billion. Corn exports were the second-biggest decliner behind only vegetable oils with the value falling 32 percent to $13.1 billion. Cotton fell 28 percent, wheat values were down 21 percent, and soybeans dropped two percent year-over-year. The agency says the volume of corn exports dropped 32 percent, wheat shipments slipped 14 percent, and soybeans declined seven percent. Mexico was the biggest buyer of U.S. corn by volume during the fiscal year, purchasing 16.5 million metric tons of the grain, a narrow drop compared to the previous year. China bought the most beans, and Mexico the most wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 14, 2023 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Grain traders remain fixated on South American weather and the latest export sales news. The U.S. Labor Department's consumer price index for October will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST Tuesday, the only significant report of the day. Traders may become a little jumpy later this week, if no agreement is reached to avoid a government shutdown by the November 17 deadline. Weather A disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico will continue to produce showers near the coast for Tuesday. Elsewhere will be rather dry and warm in most areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 13, 2023 |


September Pork Exports Steady, Beef Lower September U.S. pork exports were slightly lower than a year ago but maintained a robust pace. USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation shows pork exports reached 221,140 metric tons, one percent less than last year, while export value dropped four percent to $643.7 million. For the first three quarters of this year, pork exports rose nine percent year-over-year to 2.13 million metric tons and climbed seven percent in value to almost $6 billion. “Pork exports achieving another $200 million month in Mexico is fantastic,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. Beef exports continued struggling compared to 2022 but showed increasing strength in Western Hemisphere markets. Beef exports totaled 98,757 metric tons, 15 percent below last year and the lowest total of 2023. Value fell 12 percent to $797.5 million. Exports were lower across the board in Asia but picked up momentum in Mexico, Canada, and other locations. *********************************************************************************** Farmers Union Supports Increased Poultry Transparency National Farmers Union President Rob Larew supports the finalized “Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments” rule from the USDA under the Packers and Stockyards Act. He says monopolies in agriculture have put the squeeze on farmers and consumers for far too long. “Poultry growers face an especially unfair contracting system that’s opaque and secretive,” Larew says. “This finalized rule issued last week will require poultry companies to be more honest in their dealings with growers.” He also calls this good news for family farmers and will bring strong rules to promote sorely needed transparency for livestock producers. The final poultry rule released last week is the first of several updates USDA wants to make to the Packers and Stockyards Act. USDA also announced efforts to increase competition and innovation in seeds, improvements to USDA meat procurement requirements, and the establishment of a new Chief Competition Officer position at USDA. *********************************************************************************** Injecting Carbon Into National Forests and Grasslands The U.S. Forest Service proposed a change in regulations that would allow it to consider requests to inject carbon dioxide beneath the 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. Currently, the Forest Service is barred from authorizing “exclusive and perpetual use and occupancy” of its land by outsiders, a prohibition that would apply to carbon storage because the gas would remain underground for hundreds of years. The proposed regulation would create an exemption for carbon capture and storage projects. If approved, the USDA agency could “authorize proposed carbon capture and storage on National Forest Service system lands where and if it’s deemed appropriate.” Public comments on the carbon injection idea will be accepted until January 2. The Forest Service says the proposed rule would harmonize carbon storage regulations with the Bureau of Land Management, the other major federal land manager. The BLM issued its carbon storage policy in July 2022. *********************************************************************************** NCBA Opposes Beef Imports from Paraguay The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association opposes the USDA’s decision to allow Paraguayan beef imports starting next month. NCBA has repeatedly raised concerns with USDA over Paraguay’s history of foot-and-mouth disease and the outdated information used to justify Paraguay’s access to the U.S. market. NCBA is concerned that USDA’s failure to use information from recent site visits in the risk assessment may pose a risk to the safety of the U.S. cattle herd. “USDA based their decision on a deeply flawed risk assessment that uses old data from site visits that were conducted more than nine years ago,” says NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Kent Bacus. “Paraguay has a history of FMD outbreaks, and it’s unclear if their inspection system can provide an equivalent level of safety for animal health to prevent possible FMD on U.S. soil.” He also says diplomacy shouldn’t be done on the backs of U.S. cattle producers. *********************************************************************************** Genetically Modified Seed Prices Rising Faster Than Non-GM Prices paid for crop seed increased significantly faster than the prices farmers received for crop commodities between 1990 and 2020. During that period, the average prices farmers paid for all seed rose by 270 percent, while the crop commodity price index rose 56 percent. For crops planted predominantly with genetically modified (GM) seed, like corn soybeans, and cotton, those seed prices rose by an average of 463 percent between 1990 and 2020. During this period, GM seed prices peaked in 2014 at 639 percent above 1990 levels. Despite their higher cost, GM crop varieties have provided significant productivity gains for farmers, partly through higher yield, but also by lowering farm production costs. For example, GM traits for insect resistance reduce the need for pesticide applications. Similarly, GM traits for herbicide tolerance provide a substitute for mechanical tillage, thus reducing the cost of labor, machinery, and fuel previously used in controlling weeds. *********************************************************************************** Corn, Soybean Export Sales Rise USDA data shows that export sales of corn, soybeans, and wheat were all higher for the week ending on November 2. Corn sales to overseas buyers totaled 1.02 million metric tons. That’s 36 percent higher than the previous week and four percent higher than the prior four-week average. Mexico was the biggest buyer at 384,800 metric tons. Corn exports for the week totaled almost 825,000 tons, the highest in the marketing year so far. Soybean sales rose seven percent above the prior week to 1.08 million metric tons but was still eight percent lower than the four-week average. China was the top buyer at 692,400 metric tons. Soybean exports reached 2.24 million tons; 12 percent higher than the previous week. Wheat sales through November 2 totaled 354,300 tons, 29 percent above the prior week but still 26 percent below the four-week average. Wheat exports rose 34 percent to 134,300 tons.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 13, 2023 |


Top 5 Things to Watch - Ag Summit Registration, Low River Levels and Active Markets 1. Ag Summit launch: Watch DTN pages and the November Progressive Farmer magazine for announcements on the 2023 DTN Virtual Ag Summit, December 5-6. We'll have sessions on a number of business-critical topics from changing farmland values to finances, interest rates and global economics. To register for the Summit, go here: 2. Southern rains won't fix low rivers. Warm weather may break some records this week, then cooler weather should bring scattered rains. But they're unlikely to significantly change low river levels in the Mississippi value, which we'll continue to track. 3. Markets swing on record estimate: Grain markets had mostly been watching South America crop conditions until the November WASDE report hit, with USDA's expectation of a new US average corn yield record of 174.9 bushels per acre, besting the 2016 number. We'll be watching what catches the trade's attention throughout the week. 4. Dicamba ruling imminent: We reported on Friday that lawyers expect a new EPA ruling on dicamba use. Center for Biological Diversity, National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network and the Center for Food Safety filed the lawsuit over dicamba's drift potential in December 2020. Sources tell DTN the goal has been to have new dicamba rules ahead of the 2024 season. 5. Economic reports to watch: On Monday the USDA weekly report of grain export inspections is set for 10 a.m., followed by a release of the federal budget for October at 1 p.m. and USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Tuesday features the U.S. Labor Department's consumer price index for October at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday sees the U.S. producer price index and retail sales reports for October at 7:30 a.m. At 9:30 a.m. the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be out with updated data after last week's absence due to system upgrades. The National Oilseeds Processors Association will have an estimate of members' soybean crush later Wednesday morning, and at 2 p.m., USDA will have new cost of production forecasts for 2023. Thursday starts with USDA's weekly export sales report at 7:30 a.m., the same time as U.S. weekly jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. U.S. industrial production is set for 8:15 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's report on natural gas storage at 9:30 a.m. At 2 p.m., USDA will have its Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook. Friday we'll watch U.S. housing starts report for October, due at 7:30 a.m. and USDA's monthly cattle on-feed report for November 1, set for 2 p.m.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 13, 2023 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will continue to keep watch over South American weather forecasts. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is set for 10 a.m. CST, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. The U.S. Treasury releases the federal budget for October at 1 p.m. Weather A disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico will be bringing areas of showers near the coast on Monday. It will be drier elsewhere, but temperatures are largely above normal. Some breezy winds may occur in parts of the Plains, but nothing overly hazardous is expected.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 10, 2023 |


Cattle Group Commends New Competition Initiative The USDA released a package of rules and orders seeking to increase competition in the livestock industry. That package establishes a Chief Competition Officer at USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. This position will be hired as a career rather than a political appointment. The officer will help elevate and institutionalize competition-related concerns at USDA. “Today’s announcement is another item crossed off a to-do list the administration is following to ensure a fairer, more competitive marketplace for U.S. cattle producers,” says U.S. Cattlemen’s Association President Justin Tupper. The package also updates AMS Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications that large volume buyers like federal, state, and local government agencies, schools, restaurants, hotels, and other food service users follow when buying meat products. Currently, meat and meat products do have to be of domestic origin, but the updated standards will specify that to mean only animals that are born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S. *********************************************************************************** November WASDE Finds Higher Corn and Soybean Production The USDA’s November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates show increased corn and soybean production compared to the previous report. The corn outlook is for larger production, domestic use, exports, and ending stocks. Corn production is up 170 million bushels from last month on a 1.9-bushel increase in yield to 174.9 bushels an acre. Corn ending stocks are up 45 million bushels to 2.2 million. The season-average corn price is down 10 cents to $4.85 a bushel. The soybean outlook shows increased production and ending stocks. Soybean production is forecast at 4.13 billion bushels, a 25 million increase on higher yields. Ending stocks rose to 245 million bushels. The season-average soybean price is unchanged at $12.90 per bushel. The wheat outlook calls for larger supplies and decreased domestic use. Ending stocks are projected to rise by 14 million bushels to 684 million. The season-average farm price dropped a dime to $7.20. *********************************************************************************** Commerce Decision on Imports Saves Farmers a Lot of Money The U.S. Commerce Department recently lowered the duties placed on phosphate fertilizers imported from Morocco. The National Corn Growers Association says this move gives true savings to farmers and access to critical inputs that have been scarce during the last couple of years. Commerce lowered the rates from 19.97 percent to 2.12 percent. “Farmers were already facing rate hikes on inputs, and the duties were making the situation worse,” says NCGA President Harold Wolle. “This gives us more hope.” Assuming Commerce finalizes those duty rates and imports resume, farmers could see a reduction in added costs of $7 per acre on imported fertilizer from Morocco. NCGA’s analysis says many factors and dynamics contribute to changes in fertilizer markets and prices, but the imposed duty rates undoubtedly had an impact on the prices paid by farmers. “Our advocacy campaign to lower the duty rates wouldn’t have succeeded without our members,” Wolle says. *********************************************************************************** Initiative to Enhance Specialty Crop Industry’s Competitiveness USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl (zo-CHEEL) Torres Small announced the agency is starting a new effort to support producers in the U.S. Specialty Crops sector and increase its competitiveness. “We all count on America’s specialty crops for reliable access to nutritious, fresh foods,” Torres Small says. “As part of the new effort, USDA has compiled useful information on its programs and services that support the specialty crops industry into a Specialty Crops Resource Directory.” The directory will be a one-stop shop for the sector and contains a comprehensive snapshot of USDA’s resources and services for specialty crop producers and businesses in one convenient location. Also, USDA leadership will directly engage with the specialty crop industry and its producers during the next several months to get feedback on how the Department can better address gaps in services and meet the industry’s needs. A new webpage on the initiative is available at usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** USB Invests in Infrastructure to Give Growers an Edge The United Soybean Board invests in many infrastructure projects that will help increase profits for soybean growers and the industry itself, which is undergoing significant changes. Through the soy checkoff, USB pursued feasibility studies leading to the dredging of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, a terminal expansion in Washington, and a reduced freight toll agreement on the St. Lawrence Seaway. “The goal of these investments is to give U.S. soybean growers a competitive edge in the global market,” says Belinda Burrier of the USB Board of Directors. “This helps us be more reliable in moving soybeans from our farm to the global customer.” While the checkoff isn’t allowed to invest directly in these projects, it does enable them by investing in feasibility and engineering studies. “It’s a win-win as we make $12.34 on every dollar invested,” Burrier adds. “I don’t know of too many investments with that kind of return.” *********************************************************************************** CHS Yearly Revenues Down Five Percent, Net Income Up 13 Percent CHS Inc., one of the nation’s largest agribusinesses, reported a net income of $1.9 billion for the fiscal year ending on August 31 compared to $1.7 billion for fiscal year 2022. Key drivers included consolidated revenues of $45.6 billion for fiscal year 2023 compared to $47.8 billion for fiscal year 2022. In the company’s ag segment, robust meal and oil demand contributed to higher earnings in the company’s soybean and canola processing business. “The support of our member cooperatives and farmer-owners, dedication of our employees, exceptional operational performance, and favorable market conditions enabled us to achieve the strongest earnings in our history during fiscal year 2023,” says Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS Inc. As a result of those earnings, CHS intends to return $730 million in cash patronage and equity redemptions to its member cooperatives and farmer-owners in fiscal year 2024, demonstrating its “commitment to share profits” with producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 10, 2023 |


Friday Watch List Markets Veterans Day will be observed Friday. U.S. government offices are closed, but markets and banks are open. University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for early November will be released at 9 a.m. CFTC data will not be released until Monday afternoon. Traders remain interested in South American weather and will watch for further export business. The deadline for a possible government shutdown is November 17, one week away. Weather Showers continue to develop near a front from Texas to the Mid-Atlantic and points southward. Cooler temperatures continue to move in behind the front for areas farther north.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 9, 2023 |


USDA Predicts Record Corn Production OMAHA (DTN) -- USDA increased U.S. 2023-24 corn production by 170 million bushels (mb) to 15.234 billion bushels (bb) -- a surprise that was beyond pre-report estimates. If that holds, that breaks the 2016 production record. USDA also increased soybean production by 25 mb to 4.129 bb. According to DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman, Thursday's new-crop U.S. ending stocks estimates were bearish for corn and slightly bearish for soybeans and wheat. Hultman sees the world ending stocks estimates from USDA as bearish for corn and neutral for soybeans and wheat. Stay tuned throughout the morning and refresh this page often as we will be sending a series of updates with the important highlights from today's reports, including commentary from our analysts. CORN USDA raised the 2023-24 crop by bumping up the yield estimate 1.9 bushels per acre (bpa) to 174.9 bpa. That drove up production 170 mb to 15.234 bb as a result. That breaks the production record of the 2016 crop, which came in at 15.148 bb. USDA held pat on harvested acres at 87.1 million acres. Ending stocks for the 2023-24 crop were increased 45 mb to 2.156 bb. On the demand side, USDA increased Feed and Residual use 50 mb to 5.65 bb. Total 2023-24 Food, Seed and Industrial use at 6.740 bb, up 25 mb. Ethanol use was also increased 25 mb to 5.325 bb. Total domestic use is forecast at 12.390 bb up 75 mb. Exports for the new crop also were increased 50 mb to 2.075 bb. The farmgate price for the 2023-24 crop was lowered 10 cents a bushel to $4.85 a bushel. Globally, beginning stocks for the 2023-24 new crop were raised 1.12 million metric tons (mmt) to 299.22 mmt. Production globally was increased 6.32 mmt to 1,220.79 mmt. Global exports were bumped up 3.37 mmt to 199.62 mmt. Global ending stocks for the new crop are forecast at 314.99 mmt, up 2.59 mmt. Ukraine's production was increased 1.5 mmt to 29.5 and Ukraine's exports were increased .5 mmt to 20 mmt. Looking at global 2022-23 crop, Brazil's production was held at 137 mmt and exports were held pat at 57 mmt. Argentina's production was held at 34 mmt and Argentina's exports were held pat at 23 mmt. SOYBEANS USDA raised its national soybean yield forecast 49.9 bpa, up 0.3 bpa from last month's estimate. Harvest acres were left unchanged at 82.8 million acres, unchanged from the previous forecast. Total production climbed to 4.13 bb. All estimates are within the range of pre-report estimates. Domestic ending stocks for 2023-24 are now forecast at 245 mb, 25 mb higher than last month. The change reflects increased production forecasts, as USDA made only a minor change to the residual on the demand side of the balance sheet. The national average farm gate price was left unchanged at $12.90 per bushel. Globally, ending stocks for the 2023-24 marketing year were 114.51 million metric tons, down 1.11 mmt from last month. The change is mostly due to smaller beginning stocks. USDA forecasts Brazilian farmers will harvest 163 mmt of soybeans, while Argentine growers will harvest 48 mmt. Old-crop, 2022-23 world ending stocks, dropped to 100.31 mmt from last month's 101.9 mmt. USDA said the changes were due to back-year balance sheet revisions for China and Brazil. "China's beginning stocks are reduced on lower soybean imports for 2021-22 and 2022-23 and higher crush for 2022-23. Conversely, Brazil's beginning stocks are increased on a larger 2022-23 crop of 158 million tons due to higher-than-expected use to date," the report stated. WHEAT USDA pegged U.S. wheat production at 1.812 bb in November, unchanged from October's estimate. USDA estimates ending stocks at 684 mb in November, an increase from October's estimate of 670 mb. U.S. wheat use is estimated at 1.86 bb, unchanged from October. Wheat exports were set at 700 mb, unchanged from October. USDA set the farmgate price of wheat at $7.20, down from $7.30 last month. Wheat world ending stocks were estimated at 258.69 mmt, an increase from 258.13 mmt in October. USDA estimates global wheat production at 781.98 mmt, down from 783.43 mmt in October. USDA estimates wheat production in Argentina at 15.0 mmt, down from the October estimate of 16.5. Brazil's production is estimated at 9.4 mmt. Wheat production in Australia was unchanged from last month's 24.5 mmt. Wheat production in Russia was pegged at 90 mmt and Ukraine production was estimated at 22.5 mmt. Wheat exports from Russia were pegged at 50 mmt and 12 mmt in Ukraine. USDA increased wheat imports 10 mb to 145 mb. LIVESTOCK Thursday's November WASDE report posted reduced overall beef and pork production levels for 2023, while 2024 projection were mixed from the previous month with a strong increase production projected in beef, while moderate to firm pork production losses were seen. This will continue to likely cause concern for beef producers and overall cattle prices in the near future. Fourth-quarter beef production fell 55 million pounds, creating the expectation of annual production levels falling 44 million pounds from the last month estimate. The focus on increased production of 535 million pounds in 2024 was strongly attributed to gains in first quarter projections accounting for 235 million pounds. The confirmation of these numbers is adding additional bearish influence to overall market prices as traders are focusing on larger-than-expected beef production through most of 2024. Beef price levels for the fourth quarter of 2023 were unchanged, which also left overall annual price projections unchanged at $177.30 per cwt. Price levels for 2024 were unchanged when it came to annual overall price projections, but first quarter 2024 prices were reduced by $2 per cwt from the previous month while second quarter prices fell $1 per cwt. Beef Imports for 2023 increased by 36 million pounds from the previous month while total beef supplies fell 8 million pounds. Expected imports in 2024 increased 40 million pounds from last month's estimate, increasing overall 2024 supply issues by 590 million pounds. Pork Production posted moderate to strong production losses from the previous month for both 2023 and 2024. Annual pork production is expected to fall 72 million pounds in 2023 from October's estimate, while annual pork production in 2024 is estimated to be reduced 165 million pounds from previous month's levels. This is expected to create some additional support through the lean hog complex long term, but there remains the need to sustain current values based on short term demand. Hog prices were actually reduced on an annual level in both 2023 and 2024, with fourth quarter prices falling $3 per cwt in the latest report. First quarter 2024 hog prices were also reduced by $3 per cwt, and currently based on current hog numbers in the pipeline and the potential for this to put pressure on short term market levels. Pork imports for 2023 increased 9 million pounds from the previous month estimate but were unchanged for 2024 from October levels. The small adjustments in imports are not expected to be a major focus following the moderate to firm overall reduction in pork production for both 2023 and 2024 from October levels.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 9, 2023 |


Bayer Considers Company Breakup Bayer confirmed in an investor call on Wednesday the company is considering splitting business units following poor financial results. “We are redesigning Bayer to focus only on what’s essential for our mission – and getting rid of everything else,” according to Bayer CEO Bill Anderson. Anderson, who has been at the company's helm since June, says by the end of next year, Bayer will remove multiple layers of management and coordination. The company ruled out splitting into three divisions, but other options remain. Anderson adds, "In terms of structural options, beyond maintaining three divisions, a separation of either Consumer Health or Crop Science remains under evaluation." Sales in the agricultural business were level year on year at 4.3 billion euros. Higher volumes in all regions were mostly offset by lower prices for glyphosate-based. Corn Seed and Traits sales rose by 21.2, while Fungicides were up 16.2 percent. The Soybean Seed and Traits business likewise posted double-digit percentage growth of 15.6 percent. By contrast, sales at Herbicides were down by 17.3 percent. *********************************************************************************** USTR Tai Traveling to Indiana U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will Travel to Indianapolis, Indiana as part of the Biden-Harris Administration's Investing in Rural America tour. Tai will visit Indiana this Friday to highlight how the administration's economic policies have lowered trade barriers abroad for American agricultural products and increased access for farmers and producers in global markets. Ambassador Tai will tour Starkey Farms, a seventh-generation family farm committed to local and regional farming conservation during her trip. Starkey Farms features more than 2,500 acres near Brownsburg, Indiana. Starkey Farms Partnership is also a retail partner for AgroLiquid. The Investing in Rural America tour kicked off last when President Joe Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield, Minnesota. During the visit, President Biden announced more than $5 billion in investments from his Investing in America agenda to advance rural prosperity, economic development, competition, and sustainability. *********************************************************************************** TFI Supports Amendment to Block Proposed Rule on Air Quality Standards The Fertilizer Institute Wednesday reiterated its opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to tighten national ambient air quality standards for fine particulate matter. The organization also voiced support for legislation to prohibit the EPA altering the standard at this time. TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch says, “Only two years ago the EPA confirmed that the current standard is protective of public health and the environment,” adding, “They have not provided any reasoning as to what has changed in the past two years aside from the fact that these emissions continue to decline.” According to the government’s own data, fine particulate matter emissions have declined by over 40 percent over the past twenty years, and they continue to go down. Additionally, the current rule balances environmental protection with robust commercial and industrial activity. TFI joined more than 70 other industry groups in a letter articulating the economic impact the rule they say would have, as well as the faulty reasoning behind the change. *********************************************************************************** Court Confirms Permanent Injunction on California’s Prop 65 The U.S. Ninth Circuit Appeals Court recently affirmed a district court permanent injunction prohibiting California's Proposition 65 warning requirement related to glyphosate. Proposition 65 is a right‑to-know law that is intended to enable Californians to make informed choices about exposures to chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive effects. The proposition did not ban the use of glyphosate in the state. California attempted to apply Proposition 65 to glyphosate in 2017 following the 2015 ruling by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that glyphosate is an animal carcinogen and a probable human carcinogen. The National Association of Wheat Growers welcomed the court's response of a permanent injunction. NAWG President Brent Cheyne says, “California’s Proposition 65 requirement threatened the use of glyphosate by requiring false and misleading labels on products that may contain glyphosate.” NAWG was joined by 11 other agriculture organizations in the case, including CropLife America and the National Corn Growers Association. *********************************************************************************** Study Finds Perception Gaps Between Farmers and Consumers Nutrien this week released Bridging the Agricultural Perception Divide, a research study on the perception gaps between farmers and consumers in North America on issues such as sustainability, technology, and land usage. The report also indicates there is some common ground and opportunities for bridge-building. The findings revealed that the largest perception gaps between farmers and consumers are related to environmental stewardship and industry advancement. For example, farmers were significantly more likely to agree with statements related to the responsible use of crop inputs, chemical use, environmental progress, farming careers, and soil quality. However, topics related to Societal Support for Farmers reveal much closer agreement. The study also finds that younger consumers have the lowest interest and trust in agriculture. When farmers were asked about the top issues affecting the agriculture industry today, their responses included the rising cost of growing food, followed by a desire for consumers to have more knowledge about the industry, and concerns around misinformation about where food comes from. *********************************************************************************** New York Announces Flexibilities Amid Milk Carton Shortage In a memo to food service managers at public schools, the state of New York announced flexibilities amid a milk carton shortage recently. Due to the unexpected nationwide shortage of paper milk cartons, many School Food Authorities are not able to obtain milk in half pints for their school meals programs. Although schools are expected to meet the fluid milk requirements to the greatest extent possible, supply chain disruptions, including disruptions that limit milk variety or affect serving size, are considered a temporary emergency condition. The New York State Education Department announced schools are allowed to pour milk from larger containers into individual cups, offer one type of milk instead of a variety, offer an alternate form of fluid milk such as low-fat or fat-free lactose-free, or as a last resort, not offer fluid milk altogether. However, juice cannot be offered as a replacement, and schools must still adhere to National School Lunch Program guidelines.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 9, 2023 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday, the same time as U.S. weekly jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. U.S. factory orders for September will be out at 9 a.m. USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports are due out at 11 a.m., followed by DTN's WASDE webinar at 12:30 p.m. South American weather remains a topic of concern for traders. Weather A front has pushed south into Texas and east across the Midwest. A disturbance is moving into the southern end of the front, where it is starting to produce rain over Texas that should overspread much of the Southern Plains and Delta throughout the day, easing drought conditions. Cooler air behind the front is actually seasonable for this time of the year, though it is a sharp drop from recent days.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 8, 2023 |


Farmer Sentiment Rises in Latest Ag Economy Barometer The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rose four points in October to 110. The modest improvement in farmer sentiment resulted from farmers' improved perspective on current conditions on their farms as well as their expectations for the future. The Index of Current Conditions rose three points to 101, while the Index of Future Expectations rose five points to 114. Farmers in this month's survey were a bit less concerned about the risk of lower prices for crops and livestock and felt somewhat better about their farms' financial situation than a month earlier, although that did not translate into a more favorable investment outlook among survey respondents. Farmers remain cautiously optimistic about farmland values, particularly when asked to look ahead five years. Nearly one in four farmers responding to the survey reported making changes in their farm operations in response to long-term weather pattern changes. Changes implemented by farmers were wide-ranging, and some reported making multiple changes in response to shifting weather patterns. *********************************************************************************** Four States Join Suit Against Agri Stats Four states this week joined the Department of Justice’s civil antitrust lawsuit against Agri Stats. The suit alleges that Agri Stats organized and managed anticompetitive information exchanges among broiler chicken, pork and turkey processors. The Attorneys General of Minnesota, California, North Carolina and Tennessee joined the effort Monday. The Justice Department filed the lawsuit in September of this year, alleging Agri Stats violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The complaint alleges that Agri Stats' scheme continues to this day in the chicken processing industry, among others. While Agri Stats paused its turkey and pork reporting after facing several private antitrust lawsuits, Agri Stats has expressed an intent to resume such reports following the lawsuits. A statement at the time of filing by Agri Stats says, "The lawsuit threatens serious harm to American consumers of chicken, pork, and turkey because protein producers depend upon Agri Stats' reports to help them identify opportunities to reduce production costs to keep prices low." *********************************************************************************** Shifting Consumer Demand for Dairy Foods Fuels Butterfat Boom The long-term demand trends for dairy products indicate butter, cheese and other full-fat dairy foods will continue to grow in sales and volume for the foreseeable future. U.S. consumers have shifted away from margarine and reduced-fat dairy foods over the last decade as nutritional science surrounding saturated fats has evolved. As a result, butterfat levels in the national milk supply have risen sharply in response to changing demand patterns and dairy market dynamics. According to a new report from CoBank's Knowledge Exchange, the butterfat boom will continue as the entire dairy supply chain is capturing additional value from milk with higher fat and protein levels. CoBank's Corey Geiger says, "Despite the significant growth in domestic butterfat production over the last decade, there is still tremendous upside potential, largely because the U.S. remains a milk-fat-deficit nation." Geiger says the overall market picture for butterfat is quite clear, with tremendous growth potential both domestically and ultimately via the export market. *********************************************************************************** Program to Support Native American Farmers with Climate-Smart Grazing Farm Journal Foundation and the Intertribal Agriculture Council are launching a new program to support climate-smart grazing practices among Native American cattle farmers and ranchers. The program, which will work in partnership with Ecosystem Services Market Consortium and the Yield Lab Institute, will offer a combination of direct incentive payments, technical assistance, and education to producers who adopt certain conservation practices on their grazing lands. It will also better enable Native American cattle producers to participate in carbon and branded commodity markets and create pathways to join USDA conservation programs. Enrollment is now open for this three-year project, which will provide approximately $1 million in direct funding to producers to enable them to implement one or more designated climate-smart conservation practices. The program will work with Native American producers in three states – Florida, Montana, and Oklahoma – whose primary source of business income comes from beef cattle farming. Both small-scale and large-scale producers are encouraged to apply. Learn more at farmjournalfoundation.org. *********************************************************************************** Army Corps to Reduce Missouri River to Winter Flows Gavins Point Dam releases will be reduced in late November as flow support to navigation ends. Releases are currently 32,000 cubic feet per second. John Remus of the Amry Corps of Engineers says, "We will continue to make releases from Gavins Point Dam to provide flow support at an intermediate service level, 1,500 cubic feet per second less than full service, through the end of the navigation flow support season." Winter releases from Gavins Point Dam for the 2023-2024 winter will be slightly higher than last winter, which were at the minimum rate. However, Remus adds, "Intake operators in the lower river should be taking measures to assure they can maintain access to the water." October runoff in the Missouri River basin above Sioux City, Iowa, was 1.5 million-acre-feet, 124 percent of normal. Based on the most recent seasonal drought outlook, drought conditions are expected to persist through the end of January in the upper Basin, with a potential for improvement in the lower Basin. *********************************************************************************** Vilsack to Speak at CSU Spur Water in the West Symposium Thursday Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be in Denver Thursday to give opening remarks at the 6th Annual CSU Spur Water in the West Symposium. The event, focused on “Next Gen Water,” includes keynotes and panel discussions on topics ranging from leadership and water system management to workforce and the future of Colorado’s outdoor industry. The symposium, the first to occur on the CSU Spur campus in north Denver, will take place in the Hydro building, which opened this past January. Vilsack will discuss the USDA’s work to build rural prosperity by supporting producer income, bolstering local and regional food supply chains, and creating jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas. In addition, he will talk about work to foster the next generation of leaders in food and agriculture, including through the USDA’s NextGen program, which includes geology and hydrology among more than 36 disciplines supported. Vilsack served as a strategic advisor for Colorado State University Spur and the Colorado State University System’s food and water initiatives from 2017-2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 8, 2023 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders will continue to watch South American weather forecasts and after Tuesday, will keep an eye on outside markets and energy prices, in particular. Due to a systems upgrade, the U.S. Energy Department's weekly report of energy inventories and natural gas will not take place this week but will be back with updated data next week. Weather A system moving across the northern tier of the country is producing areas of isolated showers Wednesday. The system is pushing a cold front deeper into the Plains and Upper Midwest, where temperatures will fall closer to normal for this time of year. South of the front continues to be quite warm.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 7, 2023 |


Scott Calls for One-Year Farm Bill Extension David Scott (D-GA), the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, called on colleagues to extend the 2018 Farm Bill by one year. He made the call to offer certainty and support to farmers, ranchers, and foresters as “extremism” in the House Republican conference continues hobbling legislative efforts. “While we continue the bipartisan effort on the House Ag Committee to craft a new farm bill, the extremism and cynicism that’s taken hold of the House Republican Conference makes reauthorizing the farm bill by the end of this year unlikely,” Scott says. “Therefore, I’m calling on colleagues to support a one-year extension.” Scott calls it the responsible thing to do. It would allow U.S. farmers, ranchers, and foresters to operate with an element of certainty while they continue working on a new five-year farm bill. “Ag Committee Democrats remain committed to passing a bipartisan farm bill as quickly as possible,” Scott adds. *********************************************************************************** New National FFA Officer Team in Place The 2023-2024 National FFA Officer team was elected during the final session of the 96th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis. The new officer team was picked from 35 candidates and will lead the organization during the next year. Amara Jackson of Michigan is the new national president. Grant Norfleet of Missouri is the National Secretary. The new regional vice presidents come from Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and New Mexico. Each year during the national convention, six student members are elected by delegates to represent the organization as national officers. Through their year of service, the officers will interact with business and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government officials, education officials, the general public, and others. The team will also lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country and set policies that help guide the future of the FFA and its members. *********************************************************************************** USDA Relief Program Hurts Larger Farmers USDA announced the Emergency Relief Program for 2022, ten months after the funding was initially signed into law. But the National Sorghum Producers say there are two major flaws in the program that make it a disaster in itself. First, USDA established a “progressive” payment factor to fit total payments within a budget that will severely harm full-time farm families. NSP says the “progressive” requirement will actually cut deepest on those who faced the largest losses. Second, although the law requires producer-paid premiums to be netted out for all producers, USDA’s new ERP only nets out such premiums for “underserved” farmers. The organization says the progressive aspect of the payments is no more than a “backdoor pay limit” that violates both Congressional intent and the letter of the law. They point out that structuring payments this way will cause immense harm to full-time farm families now and in the future. *********************************************************************************** FSA County Committee Elections Start This Week The USDA will begin mailing ballots this week for the Farm Service Agency county and urban county committee elections. Ballots will go to all eligible agricultural producers and private landowners across the country. Elections are occurring in certain Local Administrative Areas for those committee members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. Producers and landowners must return their ballots to their local FSA county office or have their ballots postmarked by December 4 to be counted. “In order for county committees to be effective, they must truly represent all who are producing,” says FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Each committee has from three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms, and at least one seat representing a Local Administrative Area is up for election each year. *********************************************************************************** Educators to Receive Immersive AFBF Convention Experience The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and Nationwide have teamed up to bring outstanding educators to the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention on January 19-22, 2024. Selected educators will receive an exclusive and immersive experience. They’ll receive free registration for the 2024 AFBF Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as financial reimbursement for travel, lodging, and meals while attending the event. The experience will connect teachers with farme