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What farmers are reading this week, April 17-24

COVID-19 continues to challenge the ag industry.

While some Midwest farmers have started to plant, COVID-19 remains a hot topic for all industries, including agriculture.

This week’s news brought information about aid for farmers affected from a drop in income from the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, auctions have moved online, and Successful Farming provided an update from one of those virtual auctions.

If you missed anything from last week, follow the link below.

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, April 10-17

Farmers to get up to $250,000 each in coronavirus cash, with more possible

Farmers will get cash payments of up to $250,000 apiece — possibly more, depending on the rules — to survive an estimated 20% drop in farm income this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump announced $16 billion in direct agricultural aid and said additional money might be be spent this summer to bolster the sector.

In addition, the government will spend $3 billion to buy fruit, vegetables, dairy, and meat, which will then be donated to food banks and other charities. The food donations will include a form of the harvest box that the administration has repeatedly proposed.

Read more here.

Bunge to sell 35 U.S. grain elevators to Zen-Noh Grain

CHICAGO, April 21 (Reuters) - Agricultural commodities trader Bunge Ltd said on Tuesday it will sell 35 of its interior U.S. grain elevators to Zen-Noh Grain Corporation, dramatically reducing its grain origination network in the United States.

Financial details of the sale with the subsidiary of Japan’s Zen-Noh Group were not disclosed, and the deal is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, Bunge said.

Read more here.

Best buy of the week

This week marks the end of two weeks of whirlwind online auctions, many of which were originally to be held live in March. But because of the COVID-19 outbreak, those auctions were delayed and then switched to online sales.

The week-in-review report focuses on Bigiron.com’s sale that moved just short of 1,500 pieces of equipment on Wednesday.

Read more here.

What is in USDA’s $19 billion coronavirus relief program?

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced $19 billion in aid for farmers and ranchers hit hard by the COVID-19 national emergency on Friday. The program was designed especially for farmers who normally sell their products into the restaurant and food service supply chain, which has been dramatically disrupted by shuttered schools and restaurants.

“When you think about the fact that about half of our calories are consumed outside the home, that’s been a dramatic shift in the consumption patterns, and the misalignment of production and supply has caused some real challenges here,” Perdue told the media Friday night. “As a result, farmers are seeing prices and their market supply chain affected by the virus like they never could have expected.”

Read more here.

Q&A: Zach Johnson, The Millennial Farmer

Like many other farmers, Zach Johnson farms the land on which he was raised near Lowry in central Minnesota.

“I grew up loving it,” he says. Still, Johnson has another love: dirt-track racing. After graduating from high school, he attended school in Bemidji, Minnesota, to study performance engines that power race cars. 

“I wanted to start my own shop,” he says.

Read more here.

One year of coronavirus relief could match two years of trade war aid

The government could spend $25 billion, or more, to help the farm sector survive the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic slowdown, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday. If that happens, the administration will have spent more than $50 billion in three years to mitigate the impact of catastrophic disease and trade war on U.S. agriculture.

Those are enormous amounts when traditional federal supports — farm subsidies and crop insurance — cost about $15 billion a year. To accommodate ad hoc payments, the administration doubled the usual limit per farmer, and Congress almost entirely removed a ban on payments to the wealthiest operators.

Read more here.

Farmers’ shift to soybeans won’t avert grain glut

Low market prices will deter farmers from planting as much corn as they planned to a month ago, but a record corn crop is still on the horizon, said two Purdue University economists on Monday. The mammoth crop would create the largest corn stockpile since the late 1980s, while the already-large soybean stockpile grows bigger still.

“We think planted corn acreage could easily fall 1 million acres below” the estimated 97 million acres in USDA’s Prospective Plantings Report,” said economist James Mintert. “It might even be more that that…In our balance sheets, we simply move that million acres over to soybeans.”

Read more here.

Rendering plants lack capacity to handle mass disposal of euthanized animals

INDIANOLA, Iowa -- From pork plants in South Dakota and Iowa to a poultry processing plant in Georgia to a meat processing plant in Colorado and beyond, the coronavirus is shutting plants nationwide.

Some workers at these plants are being infected with the coronavirus, and tragically, some have died.

Read more here.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program announced

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

President Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support to our farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need. 

Read more here.

Community members rally to celebrate a beloved farmer’s life

Melcher-Dallas, Iowa, community members, family, and friends lined tractors and vehicles nearly 7 miles to lay one of their own farmers to rest. From their family farm to the cemetery, it was a sight his family says they will forever cherish.

Dennis Murr dedicated his life to farming. He lived by the motto, “Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you,” making him an adored member of the 1,200-person community. The 76-year-old farmer passed away from a heart attack on Saturday, April 4, surrounded by his family.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Animal disease traceability

If African swine fever or other foreign animal disease makes it into the United States, officials need to respond quickly to contain it, know where it came from, and prevent it from spreading. Protocols in place by livestock producers will make tracing an outbreak much faster.

Amanda Chipman is an Extension swine specialist at Iowa State University. She says if you haven’t already, request a premises identification number, or PIN, from your state agriculture department. It’s a unique code that allows animal health officials to precisely identify where animals are located in the event of an animal health or food safety emergency.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

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Agronomy Tip: Create a Crop Scouting Tool Kit

A farmer scouting soybeans. If you plan to spend time scouting your fields, put together a crop scouting tool kit for your comfort and efficiency.

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