Weekly ag briefs: NCBA calling for market reform, new wine contest at Colorado State Fair and more

Compiled by Candace Krebs
Early summer clouds

NCBA letter calls for action on market reform

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and 37 state affiliates are urging the leadership of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees to address critical areas of concern in the cattle and beef industry. Specifically, they are asking committee leaders to consider swift Congressional action to expand beef processing capacity; broaden labor policies to strengthen the beef processing workforce; increase transparency in cattle markets by reauthorizing Livestock Mandatory Reporting; support industry efforts to reform “Product of the USA” generic labeling; and insure proper oversight of cattle market players by concluding the ongoing U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the meatpacking sector. “Cattle producers are frustrated, and with good reason,” said NCBA President Jerry Bohn, of Kansas. “In sale barns and state meetings across the country, we’re hearing the same story of sky-high input costs and intense market volatility. Across the industry, there’s a consensus that market dynamics which consistently squash producer profitability are not sustainable for live cattle or beef producers.”

Feds announce additional food system investment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced plans to invest more than $4 billion through the Build Back Better Initiative. The new efforts aim to strengthen the food system, create new market opportunities, tackle the climate crisis, create opportunity in underserved communities, and support good-paying jobs throughout the supply chain. The new investments will support food production, improved processing, investments in distribution and aggregation, and market opportunities, according to a statement. USDA also laid out the goals of insuring the food system of the future is fair, competitive, distributed, and resilient; supporting health with access to healthy, affordable food; insuring growers and workers receive a greater share of the food dollar; and advancing equity as well as climate resilience and mitigation.

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New wine contest added to state fair

The Colorado State Fair is scheduled to return as the state’s premier family event August 27-September 6. Along with concerts, rodeo and annual fair fun, the State Fair is scheduled to host 19 general entry contests for adults and children. From fine art to farm and garden, State Fair showcases talent from some of Colorado’s finest artists, tradesmen and farmers. Returning this year in the food and beverage category are the commercial and hobby wine contests. Entries open June 14 and competition is open nationwide to wineries and hobbyists. New in 2021, Best of Colorado will be awarded, featuring wines made of 75 percent or more Colorado grown grapes.

Equine rabies case detected in Colorado

The Colorado Departments of Agriculture and Public Health and Environment, in collaboration with Tri-County Health Department, have confirmed that a miniature horse in Adams County tested positive for rabies. This is the second case of rabies in domestic livestock in Colorado this year; the first case was a mule in January in Eagle County. Before this year, the last equine rabies case in Colorado was documented in 2013. Shortly after the miniature horse was euthanized, a skunk acting strangely was found and euthanized on the premises and also tested positive. The cases highlight the need for prompt reporting and keeping vaccinations up-to-date, according to Colorado state veterinarian Maggie Baldwin.

Brazil’s water crisis could hamper exports

Brazil's worst water crisis in almost a century will impact river navigation and make transportation of goods more expensive in the world's largest exporter of commodities ranging from soybeans to coffee and sugar, Reuters reports. A reduction of water levels would potentially impact longer cargo journeys along the crucial Parana-Tiete system, although shorter trips may still be possible. Last year, almost 3.9 million tons of goods including soybeans and corn were moved on the Parana system.

Companies demonstrate high-tech tracking suite

Fifth generation Nebraska ranchers Wilson Ranch and Flying Diamond Beef hosted a live event June 7 to launch a first-of-its-kind co-innovation project with technology companies CattlePass, Livestock Labs, Neogen and Sixgill. The collaboration creates what the companies call “the first suite of advanced technologies for tracking cattle as verified digital assets.” During the event, twenty head of Flying Diamond steers were implanted with a Bluetooth-enabled sensor for health tracking and immutable proof of life records. Imagery of each steer, including advanced computer vision models for facial recognition and analysis, were also demonstrated. CattlePass presented its traceability platform, which uses blockchain technology to create a repository for all of the related data.

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Corn leaders outline environment goals

Farmer-leaders in the National Corn Growers Association set five environmental national efficiency goals to further enhance corn production sustainability in the U.S. by 2030. Those goals are: increase land-use efficiency by 12 percent; increase irrigation water use efficiency by 15 percent; reduce soil erosion by 13 percent; increase energy use efficiency by 13 percent; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent. The goals were outlined as part of NCGA’s recently released U.S. Corn Sustainability Report.

Wyoming rancher to address UN group

Pat O’Toole, a Wyoming cattle and sheep rancher and hay grower, will represent the farmer constituency at a workshop to be staged June 15 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. O’Toole, the long-term president of the Family Farm Alliance with a strong background in irrigated agriculture, will be the sole producer presenter offering farmer/rancher insight and recommendations in a special workshop on “sustainable land and water management, including integrated watershed management strategies, to ensure food security.” The workshop is being held at a UNFCCC intercessional meeting ahead of the next round of global climate talks in Glasgow, United Kingdom, in November.

Compiled by Candace Krebs.