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Farm Debt Repayment Stretching Terms

1 year, 11 months ago AFBF

Farmers need more time to pay off non-real estate loans, according to recent data. An analysis published last week by Agricultural Economics Insights, an agriculture economic analysis firm, shows repayment term length on farm loans recently reached levels not seen in decades. In 2018, the average repayment term on all non-real estate loans was 15.4 months. The report says that’s the highest annual observation noted since 1977. In recent years, even as farm income has turned higher, producers are still relying on higher levels of debt for farm machinery, livestock and all non-real estate loans. However, the analysis says longer repayment terms, coupled with historically low-interest rates, make it easier for producers to meet the annual debt service obligations of high debt levels. Terms over the last 20 years generally stayed between 12 and 14 months, with a decline in 2008 and 2009 due to the Great Recession, when the average non-real estate farm loan term dipped to 11 months.

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USDA Pauses RFID Ear Tag Proposal

The Department of Agriculture has paused its effort to mandate RFID ear tags for cattle and bison. The proposal would have mandated the ear tags for animals moved in interstate commerce beginning in January of 2023. A guidance document detailing the proposal on the USDA website was recently removed, following a lawsuit against the proposal filed by R-CALF USA. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says that based on industry feedback and Executive Branch policy, “APHIS believes that we should revisit those guidelines.” President Donald Trump earlier this month signed an executive order to stop federal agencies from using guidance documents to impose rules. APHIS removed the factsheet from its website, saying it is “no longer representative of current agency policy.” R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard called the proposal a federal overreach by USDA, saying the proposal would “gift RFID ear tag manufactures” more profits. USDA says it still believes “RFID devices will provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases.”

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Marshall, Brindisi, Introduce Real MEAT Act

A bill introduced Monday would address deceptive labeling practices in alternative protein products, such as plant-based imitators of meat. Republican Representative Roger Marshall of Kansas, along with New York Democrat Anthony Brindisi (brin-dis-see), introduced the Real Marketing Edible Artificial Truthfully, or Real MEAT Act. The legislation would codify the definition of beef for labeling purposes, reinforce existing misbranding provisions to eliminate consumer confusion, and enhance enforcement measures available to the Department of Agriculture if the Food and Drug Administration fails to take appropriate action. Marshall says alternative protein products “have confused many consumers with misleading packaging and creative names for products.” Brindisi says the bill is “about safety and transparency.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applauded introduction of the legislation. NCBA President Jennifer Houston says a growing number of fake meat products are “clearly trying to mislead consumers” about what they’re trying to get them to buy, adding “consumers need to be protected from deceptive marketing practices.”

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Study: Risk of ASF in U.S. has Doubled

A recent study shows the risk of African Swine Fever entering the U.S. has nearly doubled since the ASF epidemic began in 2018. Researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine say the probability of ASF already reaching the U.S. is high, but efforts to stop the virus at the borders have stopped its entry. The study measured the risk of ASF entering the United States through the smuggling of pork products in air passenger luggage. The study reports five specific airports account for over 90 percent of the potential risk: Newark-New Jersey, George Bush-Houston-Texas, Los Angeles-California, John F. Kennedy-New York, and San Jose-California. If ASF were to enter the United States, its spread would cause immense economic damage to the pork industry and food production more broadly, and could lead to billions of dollars of losses for swine producers. Since the 2018 outbreak in China, the country has slaughtered an estimated 1,170,000 animals.

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Early 2020 Forecast Signals More Trouble for Missouri River Farmers

Early predictions for the 2020 runoff season suggest more flood risks for farmers along the Missouri River. Through a series of public meetings, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says wet and saturated soils, along with increased rainfall in the long-term forecast, means 2020 looks similar to the 2019 spring. Flooding remained common this year along the Missouri River since the so-called bomb-cyclone storm in March, where saturated and frozen soils led to a large amount of water runoff in the lower Missouri River basin. The lower basin is uncontrolled, meaning no dams regulate the flow, below the Gavins Point dam. Water releases from Gavins point remain well above average, at roughly 80,000 cubic feet per second, as the Corps tries to prepare the reservoir system for next year. However, winter weather and the risk of ice jams will soon halt those efforts. The last forecast update predicted 2019 runoff would equal the record set in 2011.

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Voting Begins for 2019 Farm Service Agency County Committee Elections

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced it will begin mailing ballots on November 4 to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the Farm Service Agency county committee elections. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. Newly elected committee members will take office January 1, 2020. To be counted, ballots must be returned to the local FSA county office or postmarked by December 2. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce says the members “play a key role in our efforts to provide assistance to producers.” Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Farmers can find out if their local administrative area is up for election and if they are eligible to vote by contacting their local FSA county office. Eligible voters who did not receive a ballot in the mail can pick one up at their local FSA county office. Visit fsa.usda.gov for more information.

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Conflicting signals are dominating the political endgame for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a top trade priority for the president and U.S. agriculture, with fewer than 20 legislative days left in this session of Congress

House Democrats want more, including a union pension rescue bill as part of USMCA, but know politically, they need to show some legislative accomplishments, amid their impeachment push.

Republicans and President Donald Trump say Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats have no timeline, and are stalling to deny Trump a ‘win.’

Ag leaders suggest it’s all a sign of intense last-minute bargaining that signals Pelosi will allow the White House to send up a draft USMCA bill, as early as this week.

American Farm Bureau Trade Adviser Dave Salmonsen…

I think you’re seeing a lot more messaging, as we, hopefully, are getting toward the end of this negotiating process, between the House Democrats and the U.S. Trade Representative.”

 Salmonsen says formalizing the USMCA process now with a draft bill and mock hearings, followed by a final White House bill, could force action, even if its next year amid impeachment and campaigns…

“In the House, they have 60 legislative days to pass it, up to 60 days, and then it goes to the Senate, where they have up to 30 days to vote. But once the clock starts ticking, after a final implementation bill is sent, it goes to a vote.”

Salmonsen says no one really wants to deal with USMCA next year, with everything else going on. He says the timeline can be compressed and AFBF hopes USMCA is wrapped up, before this year is over.

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