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Evening Edition | Friday, July 29, 2022

In tonight's Evening Edition, read about drought conditions across the U.S., activity in the Senate for trade and the farm bill, and bottlenecks in the meat supply chain.

Drought Conditions

The North American Monsoon hit the southwestern United States this past week, bringing a modicum of drought relief, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 

Meanwhile, in the Heartland, localized heavy rains brought spotty improvement and record disastrous flooding in St. Louis, where a record 8 to 11 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. 

West central Missouri missed the worst of the storm and benefitted from nearly 2 inches of rain.

Agriculture Trade and 2023 Farm Bill

Doug McKalip told senators that if he’s confirmed as U.S. chief agricultural negotiator, “it will be my duty to break down the barriers” to U.S. food and ag exports.

During a friendly and relatively brief confirmation hearing on Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee, he pledged to press U.S. trade partners to live up to existing agreements.

“I also look forward to ensuring farmers and ranchers are front and center as USTR [the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative] looks to strengthen our trade relationships, execute new initiatives, and address challenges like China,” said McKalip, a USDA trade adviser since March 2021.

Farm-state lawmakers would have the funds to write a climate-focused farm bill if Congress enacts a broad-ranging package that President Biden on Thursday called “the most significant legislation in history to tackle the climate crisis.”

The package includes $20 billion for voluntary conservation practices on the farm, such as cover crops, to sequester greenhouse gases in soils, plants, and trees.

There was an additional $14 billion in rural spending and $5 billion for forests in the Inflation Reduction Act unveiled by Senate Democrats.

Meat Supply Chain

"COVID-19 brought a lot of hard lessons, one of which is that it’s not a good bet to put all of our meat processing needs into the hands of just a few large processing plants," writes Paul Sobocinski with the Minnesota Reformer.

He continues, "When COVID infections soared, many large processors in our region had to shut down for a few weeks or more, disrupting the meat market and supply across our country."

Many livestock farmers who raise beef, pork, etc. — along with the small grains and pastures that feed them — can earn very reliable profits from directly marketing their animals to consumers who value the practices and care given by the farmer toward the animals and land.

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