Here’s a look at the latest in agriculture news from throughout the U.S. this week. …
USDA announces more than $1B disaster payments: The USDA plans to begin distributing more than $1 billion in Quality Loss Adjustment Program payments on Tuesday. The money is going to producers who already have received payments from the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus for losses suffered in 2018 and 2019 from drought, floods and other natural disasters. Maximum payments total $125,000.
New cattle price transparency act to be considered: Reps. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., have introduced legislation that would provide greater transparency in pricing on cattle markets. The Optimizing the Cattle Market Act of 2021 would provide mechanisms for greater price discovery. Hartzler said the measure would restore “accountability in the industry … and embark on a new chapter of progress” for the cattle industry.
Labeling concerns noted: The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has petitioned USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to eliminate the ‘Product of the USA’ label, claiming that the labeling on beef products is potentially misleading to consumers. NCBA argued that imported beef products are currently eligible to be labeled a ‘Product of the USA’ as long as the product has been minimally processed or repackaged in a USDA-inspected facility, reported Southeast Ag Net.
U.S. tractor sales fall: Data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers indicates U.S. farm tractor sales are off. NAFB reported (June 14) U.S. sales of under-40 horsepower tractors were off 8.9% last month compared with a year earlier and overall tractor sales dipped 3.9% while combine sales were up 33.2%. The biggest gains were made in articulated four-wheel-drive vehicles, up 62%. Sales of 40-100 hp and more than 100 hp tractors were up 6.7% and 28%, respectively.
Bill would ban child labor on tobacco farms: Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Monday introduced a bill to bar children less than 18 years of age from working on tobacco farms. The Children Don’t Belong on Tobacco Farms Act is aimed at protecting children from exposure to tobacco plants. Currently children as young as 12 are allowed to work on tobacco farms.
Packers and Stockyards Act to be updated: The USDA is updating the century-old Packers and Stockyards Act, proposing three rules to better protect independent farmers and ranchers from deceptive and anti-competitive practices, as well as provide base pay for poultry growers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the new rules will protect farmers and ranchers from “excessive concentration and unfair, deceptive practices in the poultry, hog and cattle markets.” He said the pandemic and other recent events demonstrated how the Packers and Stockyards Act can be used to harm independent farmers and ranchers.