Weekly ag briefs: JBS suspends NCBA membership, Oklahoma marijuana growth and more

Compiled by Candace Krebs
Geese at a lake.

JBS suspends membership in NCBA

JBS, the world's largest meat packer with U.S. headquarters in Greeley, has suspended its membership in the National Cattlemen's Beef Association as the group takes a harder line on concerns about market consolidation, according to reporting by Politico. NCBA recently joined with an unusually broad range of farm and cattle producer groups to call for more transparency in the market and ask the Department of Justice to publicly conclude its ongoing antitrust investigation. Producers say they are being squeezed with unfairly low cattle prices while consumers are paying near-record prices for burgers and steaks, and the Biden administration is under pressure to include agriculture in a broader antitrust crackdown. Cameron Bruett, a spokesperson for JBS, said the company "suspended" its membership in NCBA a year ago as part of an internal review about the "benefit and effectiveness of our trade association investments."

Meat group defends members The North American Meat Institute is defending its members against allegations of wrongdoing in the cattle market, the National Association of Farm Broadcasting reports. The response follows a closed-door meeting between livestock and farm groups focusing on ways to improve cattle market transparency and a letter from Republican lawmakers to the Department of Justice. In reaction, Meat Institute spokesperson Sarah Little told the Hagstrom Report, "In July 2020, USDA analyzed the effects of the 2019 Holcomb facility fire and the pandemic, finding no wrong-doing and confirming the disruption in the beef markets was due to devastating and unprecedented events." She also pointed to several announcements of new packing facilities being built or expanded, which is expected to increase slaughter capacity by roughly four percent.

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CLA annual meeting available in-person or virtual

Popular air quality specialist Frank Mitloehner, a professor at the University of California-Davis, will discuss "rethinking methane and livestock’s path to climate neutrality" during the Colorado Livestock Association Annual Meeting on June 3. Mitloehner specializes in measurement and mitigation of airborne pollutants from livestock production, including greenhouse gases, ammonia and particulate matter. This is the first time CLA’s meeting will be staged as a hybrid event, offering virtual attendance in addition to in-person participation at the DoubleTree Hotel in Greeley June 2-3.

NCBA seeks member input on federal conservation plan

Region V of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is hosting a regional forum to discuss President Biden’s “America the Beautiful” plan on June 18 from 11 am. to noon Mountain Time. The president’s controversial plan aims to conserve 30 percent of lands and waters in the U.S. by 2030 through setting up a new conservation framework. The call will begin with a staff presentation followed by 45 minutes allotted for producer discussion.

Marijuana growth concerns Oklahoma farm groups

The five largest Oklahoma agriculture groups have formed a task force to develop solutions to the issues facing farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses from the exponential growth of the medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma. The Medical Marijuana Impacts on Oklahoma Production Agriculture Task Force will focus on crafting state and federal solutions to the increasing impacts of medical marijuana on production agriculture. Among the issues the task force plans to wrestle with are inflated land values, overwhelming stress on rural water and electric infrastructure, and interruptions to critical fertilizer and pesticide applications.

Coloradan named National FFA CEO

Scott Stump, of Stoneham, Colorado, has been named the new CEO of the National FFA. Previously, he was an assistant provost and state director for career and technical education with the Colorado Community College System. While in that role, he also served as state FFA advisor, agriculture program director and interim president of Northeastern Junior College during the institution’s presidential search process. In July of 2018, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the assistant secretary of career, technical and adult education for the U.S. Department of Education, a position he served until January.

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Soil health initiative ending

Soil Health Partnership, a project of the National Corn Growers Association, has closed up shop. The organization said it had accomplished its original mission of determining the economic and environmental impact of conservation practices and communicating the importance of soil health to farmers and the agriculture community. To complete the mission, NCGA developed on-farm research protocols, farmer engagement strategies, and an elite suite of communications channels to tell the story, including webinars, blog posts, social media and podcasts. They also released several key findings, including 2019 and 2020 cover crop planting reports, two published research papers, several important webinars and a study on the economic impact of conservation practices on farms.

Organic sales jump during pandemic

U.S. organic sales soared to new highs in 2020, jumping by a record 12.4 percent to $61.9 billion. The increase marked the first time that total sales of organic food and non-food products have surpassed the $60 billion mark, according to the Organic Trade Association. The organization released the data as part of its 2021 Organic Industry Survey. In almost every organic food aisle, demand jumped by near-record levels, propelling organic food sales to a new high of $56.4 billion. In 2020, around six percent of the food sold in the U.S. was certified organic.

Compiled by Candace Krebs.