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National FFA charter update: Ag education is relevant today

A new bill amending the National FFA charter hopes to keep FFA and agricultural education front and center in the nation’s education system.

The bill was introduced in the House Tuesday by Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.), and Representative Jim Langevin (D-R.I.). Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Donnelly (D-Ind.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) introduced legislation in the Senate in February. The charter, which originally passed as Public Law 81-740 in the 1950s, publicly acknowledges the role FFA plays as an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The most recent version of the FFA federal charter, Public Law 105-225, passed in 1998 as a technical revision.

The FFA charter also specifies that the U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set the direction for National FFA as a service to state and local agricultural programs. H.R. 5595, which was forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee, seeks to make some changes to Public Law 105-225 as requested by the National FFA Organization and the U.S. Department of Education.

The National FFA Organization believes the revised federal charter will provide needed flexibility for its board of directors and allow the organization to maintain strong ties with the industry of agriculture. The revised charter grants the board power to appoint the chair and the National FFA Advisor, and provides that the FFA board consist of individuals representing education, agriculture, food, and natural resources. This involvement will guarantee the relevance of agricultural education in our nation’s schools and prepare students to fill the 235 unique careers in agriculture.

Another proposed revision allows the organization to consider an expansion of the number of national officers representing the organization’s growing membership, should the need be realized. Last year, FFA membership reached 653,359 in all 50 states and two U.S. territories.

“The amendments set the stage for FFA in the 21st Century and allows us to bring FFA and our operations into the future,” said Mark Poeschl, CEO of the National FFA Organization. “The one thing that has not changed is our commitment to the relevance that FFA and agricultural education continue to have in our nation’s education system. With its three integral components –classroom/laboratory instruction, supervised agricultural experiences, and FFA –the agricultural education model continues to push students toward a thriving future thanks to the relevant skills learned and experience obtained. These amendments will strengthen our commitment.”

Tags: FFA, agriculture, education, public schools
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Today’s markets: Earnings expirations & reports

We kicked off this NFL Draft Day with Advanced Durable Goods, Export Sales and Jobless Claims at 7:30 A.M. Central followed by the EIA Gas Storage at 9:30 A.M. It is also Last Trading Day on May Natural Gas. The Grains staged an impressive rally in yesterday’s trading session. In the overnight electronic session the May Corn is giving a little back currently trading at 385 ¾ which is ¾ of a cent lower. The trading range has been 386 ¾ to 384 ½. The weather forecasters are predicting a break in the weather in the Mid-West and we should see a substantial percentage of Corn & Soybeans planted. On the Ethanol front the June contract posted a trade at 1.467 which is .003 lower. 10 contracts changed hands with the market currently showing 1 bid @ 1.470 and 1 offer @ 147.4 and Open Interest at 830 contracts.

On the Crude Oil front the market is rolling along this morning with the June contract currently trading at 6862 which is 57 points higher. The trading range has been 6868 to 6796. Oil majors are abandoning Venezuela as two Chevron employees were arrested for not signing a contract with the government was offering for equipment at inflated prices. Good Luck keeping the lights on. We also have geo-political tensions in the Middle-East, rising demand both domestically and globally which is a sign of a strong economy and the emerging markets on the move. We also have tight supplies and having problems keeping up with demand.

On the Natural Gas front the May contract expires today and we have the weekly EIA Gas Storage data. The Price Group is expecting a build of 5 bcf. The Thomson Reuters poll of 21 analyst participating expect draws anywhere from 22 bcf to builds of 9 bcf. This compares to the one-year build of 71 bcf and the five-year average build of 60 bcf. In the overnight electronic session the June Natural Gas is currently trading at 2.805 which is .002 of a cent lower. The trading range has been 2.818 to 2.804.

— Daniel Flynn

 

The Energy Report: No one knows but Macron

President Donald Trump says that no one knows what he will do about the insane and ridiculous Iranian nuclear accord, but he said to French President Emanuel Macron, “you have a pretty good idea.” Oil is up as the French President shared that idea and said his bet was that that President Donald Trump would drop out of the deal because of what he suggested were domestic reasons. Oil traders then bet that there would be an enhanced political risk factor in oil against a back drop of tightening global supply. We are also seeing concern about Venezuela as two Chevron employees detained in Venezuela last week could be charged with treason for refusing to sign a parts contract for a joint venture with state and Chevron pulled out other executives. Miltary rule of the oil industry is not going so well. Venezuela’s crude production has fallen from almost 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2016 to around 1.5 million bpd.

It’s clear that the bearish talking points on oil are being proven to be wrong and the trade and major agencies are coming to grips with a secular bull oil market. Even the World Bank raised their forecast for oil to a lofty $65 a barrel, up sharply from their previous forecast of $53 for 2017. The World Bank sites strong consumer demand as well as OPEC/Non-OPEC compliance to cuts and now expects the prices of crude oil, natural gas, and coal to increase by 20 percent in 2018, up an incredible 16 percent from last year’s upward revision from the bank’s previous commodity market outlook from October last year.

This comes as the U.S. becomes the world’s best hope for production increases as well as filling their new role as oil refiners to the world. In fact, U.S. oil exports broke a record as we sent roughly 8.3 million barrels of oil products to an energy hungry world. To put that in perspective that is up 450% from just 10 years ago. U.S. refiners are doing an amazing job, improving efficiencies and maxing out production.

Still refiners must take a break some time. Oil saw a surprise 2.2-million-barrel build as we saw a drop in U.S. refinery runs due to maintenance and other issues. Record exports for oil were offset by a strong week of oil imports as U.S. refiners seek heavier crude to mix with the too light shale oil.

The EIA reported that U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 16.6 million barrels per day during the week, 328,000 barrels per day less than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 90.8% of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 5.0 million barrels per day. The EIA for products reported that gasoline inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels last week and are in the upper half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.6 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Oil Is well below average for this time of year.

So is the bullish case for oil all bad? Should we be doom and gloom about the economy. The answer is no. As I have said before, rising energy prices are a good thing if they are rising for the right reason. That is if it is being driven by economic growth as it is now and not some other disaster factor.

These points were raised brilliantly from my old friend Caroline Baum at MarketWatch who wrote “Rising oil prices release a gusher of crude nonsense”. She asks, “Strong demand is pushing prices up, so why are economists warning about demand weakening?” She goes on “There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that causes economists to lose their moorings the way oil prices do. When crude prices are rising, economists forget the foundations of microeconomics — the law of supply and demand — and assert that higher prices are a tax on the consumer, a driver of inflation, a brake on economic growth, or all the above. I think that an industrial commodity, albeit a vital one, is endowed with such power!

With U.S. crude oil closing in on $70 a barrel, a price last seen in late 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an article on Monday filled with inherent contradictions, displaying all the accumulated nonsense about oil prices. “If crude continues to move higher, it could begin to stifle economic growth,” according to the Journal. “Higher consumer prices for gasoline and other energy products act like a tax, while pushing inflation higher.” One economist quoted in the story warned of higher oil prices “sucking cash flow out of the economy.” Another said that an increase of “$10 to $15 a barrel” from the current “Goldilocks zone” would be a drag on growth. At the same time, the article cited Goldman Sachs’ assessment that the first quarter of 2018 witnessed the strongest year-over-year increase in global oil demand in seven years. “Demand has remained strong even as oil and fuel prices have been rising,” according to the Journal. Imagine that! Maybe strong demand is driving the rise in prices, in which case expectations of stifled growth are totally misplaced” A must read for those that always think that rising oil prices are a bad thing.

Natural Gas prices are rising and that is a bad thing if you like spring. We have seen prices rise as winter keeps hanging on and we might jump right to summer. I do not know about you, but I want my spring back. Well maybe we will see a sign of spring as the EIA will finally show an injection into supply in today’s report. Farmer are getting into the fields. Diesel demand will stay strong. We see a demand surge coming. Total Commercial inventories are well below where we have been in years. Make sure you have your risk hedged.

— Phil Flynn

 

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Tags: agriculture news, ag news, commodity markets, commodities, crop markets, corn, oil, Price Futures Group

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Cattlemen: Trump, Pence come see Oklahoma wildfire damage

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association invited President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to visit Oklahoma and survey the damage caused by devastating wildfires in the western part of the state. Cattle producers and rural communities in Western Oklahoma are reeling from wildfires that have engulfed over 320,000 acres of land and continue to grow.

“In addition to the daily stress and anxiety caused by the wildfires, cattlemen and rural communities have suffered extensive financial losses, including homes, cattle, ranch equipment, and fencing,” the groups wrote in the letter. “Given the severity of the situation, we would like to extend an invitation for you both to visit the affected areas, meet with producers who have suffered losses, and see what help can be given to these great Americans.”

According to reports from producers on the ground, total damage and losses are far worse than when wildfires last struck in 2017. The full impact of the wildfires will not be known until weather conditions change and the fires are under control. The groups noted in the letter that a visit from the President and Vice President “would be a welcome sign of support” for impacted communities.

To donate to relief efforts please visit NCBA’s disaster assistance page (click here) or the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation Fire Relief page (click here).

Interested in donating other items or making a trip down south to help? The Michigan-based non-profit 501(c)3, Ag Community Relief, has also organized a list of farming supplies needed and is working on organizing a volunteer trip.

Tags: wildfires, Oklahoma, weather, cattle
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The Farm Bill and the stake of young farmers

Young and beginning farmers have a stake in the newest Farm Bill, which isn’t breaking news, considering they’ve had a role in past Farm Bills. However, in a time when it’s crucial to encourage more involvement in production agriculture, the 2018 bill is probably the most important bill for new farmers to date. Many opportunities, or a potential lack thereof, can be created, or destroyed, simply by the programs implemented in the next Farm Bill. The future of farming is strongly influenced by the policies set forth in this bill.

The bill language can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t kept up with all the changes, or are beginning in agriculture yourself. For a basic overview of certain programs on the bill, read “Here’s what young and beginning farmers need to know about the Farm Bill” before you proceed with this update. While the newest bill notoriously has been said to have no access to “new money,” the House Agriculture Committee has promised to strengthen the programs currently in place and has established a few new initiatives.

Commission on Farm Transitions — Needs for 2050

This is a new effort to develop and change policy that can maintain our safe and abundant food supply source. According to the American Farmland Trust, this piece of legislation was created “to study issues around access to land, credit, and risk management tools, as well as to explore potential incentives to facilitate farm transfers. The legislation specifically mentions the study of potential Federal tax incentives to encourage lifetime transfers.”

Whole Farm Revenue Protection

This program aides farmers who run diversified, small, and even organic operations and don’t want to worry about relying on specific policies for their crops, or would like to use it in addition to their single crop. Previously, the discounts only lasted 5 years, but with the 2018 bill, these will be extended to 10. This isn’t specific to beginning and young farmers, but certainly can be used by the group and shows the importance of strong crop insurance during times of bad prices or yields. The new bill also proposes to maintain other crop insurance programs at a 5- year discount.

BFRDP

The USDA’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program helps to fund training, outreach, and education to beginning farmers. This will be reauthorized under the new bill. If the bill should not pass by September 30, this program could potentially be eliminated. If the bill passes, funding will be maintained at $20 million per year and would make important improvements to the program.

CRP-TIP

The Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentive Program “encourages landowners to sell or lease long-term to beginning or socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers willing to implement sustainable practices or transition to organic production by providing two years of additional payments for expiring CRP-enrolled land,” according to National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. The CRP takes highly erodible, or environmentally sensitive farmland and pays farmers for taking it out of production for a predetermined period of time of between 10 to 15 years. On the new bill, this program would be maintained. It would also aide young and beginning farmers during the transition process when land comes back into production. Programs such as these are crucial in accessing one of the most difficult resources for new farmers to acquire: land.

Under the CRP, the bill also “continues the managed haying and grazing of CRP lands which waives the 25 percent payment reduction for beginning farmers,” as the House AG Committee states on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher 2018 Farm Bill summary. The USDA’s “haying and grazing of CRP acreage is authorized under certain conditions to improve the quality and performance of the CRP cover or to provide emergency relief to livestock producers due to certain natural disasters. There are two types of haying and grazing authorization: managed and emergency.”

These are only a few programs implemented on the House AG Committee draft Farm Bill. For a full list of proposed programs and changes, read the Beginning Farmer and Rancher summary. Many of the young and beginning farmer programs are reliant on the success of other programs, as they intertwine with various other policies. With the struggle of entering into production agriculture, these programs need not only be strong and continually funded, but improved as well, to protect the future of farming and incentivize enrollment.

There are concerns to certain aspects of the proposed Farm Bill, particularly from the National Young Farmers Coalition. Young and beginning farmers and ranchers tend to start small and capitalize on the local food industry; selling their products at local markets, in CSA programs, and local restaurants. Due to this trend, the NYFC believes that local and organic initiatives will struggle under the new bill. “Mandatory funding for the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), an effective program to help young farmers offset the cost of certification, is eliminated. Mandatory funding for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG), which help young farmers diversify their revenue streams and grow their businesses to meet local demand, is eliminated. Mandatory funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), which builds out local direct-to-consumer markets and has created opportunity for young farmers across the country is eliminated.”

Regardless of the outcome of the bill, strong policies for young and beginning farmers will always be needed, and the future of farming relies heavily on the policies voted on by the House and Senate. For more resources on the bill and to read the full text, visit agriculture.house.gov.

 

Markie Hageman is a senior, majoring in agribusiness, at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Follow her seriesexploring various parts of the next Farm Bill. 

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