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Montana Ag Network report for February 11

Posted: 12:50 PM, Feb 11, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-11 14:51:17-05
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BILLINGS — Russell Nemetz has the Montana Ag Network report for Tuesday, February 11, 2020.

#1: ON MONDAY, THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET RELEASED THE PRESIDENT’S FISCAL YEAR 2021 BUDGET FOR THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. AND IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG FOR AG ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WHEAT GROWERS TO WEIGH IN. THAT’S BECAUSE THE BUDGET PROPOSES DRASTIC CUTS TO SOME KEY PROGRAMS FOR WHEAT FARMERS LIKE CROP INSURANCE AND OTHER IMPORTANT SAFETY NET AND CONSERVATION PROGRAMS. THE BUDGET ALSO ENACTS A CUT OF $1.66 BILLION TO IN-KIND INTERNATIONAL FOOD AID. THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WHEAT GROWERS SAYS IT’LL CONTINUE TO IMPRESS UPON CONGRESS THE DIFFICULT ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN WHEAT COUNTRY AND THUS WHY THESE PROGRAMS SHOULDN’T BE CUT THROUGH THE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS.

#2: THE NCBA HAS RELEASED SURVEY RESULTS THAT SHOW WIDESPREAD CONSUMER CONFUSION ABOUT PLANT-BASED FAKE MEAT PRODUCTS AND THE INGREDIENTS THEY CONTAIN. LESS THAN HALF OF THE 1,800 RESPONDENTS UNDERSTOOD THE LABELING TERM “PLANT-BASED BEEF” WAS INTENDED TO DESCRIBE AN ENTIRELY VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN FOOD PRODUCT. ONE MAJOR SOURCE OF CONFUSION FOR ONE-THIRD OF CONSUMERS IS THE MISTAKEN BELIEF THAT PLANT-BASED MEAT PRODUCTS CONTAINED AT LEAST SOME REAL BEEF. “THE FACT THAT SO MANY CONSUMERS LOOK AT THESE LABELS AND THINK THAT THE PRODUCTS INCLUDE MEAT OR ANY OTHER ANIMAL BY-PRODUCT IS A CLEAR SIGN THAT THE MISLEADING LABELING AND DECEPTIVE MARKETING PRACTICES SURROUNDING PLANT-BASED FAKE MEAT HAS CAUSED REAL CONSUMER CONFUSION.

#3: U.S. PORK EXPORTS POSTED NEW VOLUME AND VALUE RECORDS IN 2019, REACHING NEARLY $7 BILLION, ACCORDING TO DATA RELEASED BY USDA AND COMPILED BY THE U.S. MEAT EXPORT FEDERATION. EXPORTS OF U.S. BEEF WERE BELOW THE PREVIOUS YEAR'S RECORD LEVELS, WHILE LAMB EXPORT VOLUME WAS THE SECOND LARGEST ON RECORD. THE DECLINE IN U.S. BEEF EXPORTS FROM THE RECORD LEVELS OF 2018 WAS PARTIALLY ATTRIBUTABLE TO LOWER SHIPMENTS TO JAPAN, WHICH WERE DOWN 6% IN BOTH VOLUME AND VALUE. SIMILAR TO PORK, JAPAN'S TARIFF RATES FOR U.S. BEEF WERE LOWERED ON JAN. 1 TO MATCH THOSE OF MAJOR COMPETITORS, WITH RATE FOR U.S. BEEF MUSCLE CUTS DROPPING FROM 38.5 TO 26.6%. USMEF PRESIDENT AND CEO DAN HALSTROM SAYS BUYERS IN JAPAN HAVE BEEN WAITING A VERY LONG TIME FOR TARIFF RELIEF AND HAVE ALREADY RESPONDED ENTHUSIASTICALLY. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SOLID GROWTH IN 2020 AND BEYOND.

#4: THE NATIONAL PORK BOARD HAS OPENED UP APPLICATIONS FOR A NEW SERIES OF SWINE RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS TO HELP PROVIDE A PIPELINE OF HIGHLY-SKILLED EMPLOYEES FOR THE PORK INDUSTRY. THE CHECKOFF IS INVESTING A HEFTY SUM OF $500,000 FOR THE FELLOWSHIPS. THE MONEY WILL FUND EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN CRITICAL AREAS OF IMPACT, SUCH AS ANIMAL SCIENCE, FEED SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT, ENGINEERING AND HUMAN RESOURCES, ALONG WITH MANY OTHERS. “LABOR SUPPLY IS CRITICAL TO THE ENTIRE PORK INDUSTRY,” SAYS DAVID NEWMAN, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL PORK BOARD. GO TO WWW.PORK.ORG/RFP FOR MORE INFORMATION. APPLICATION MATERIALS MUST BE SUBMITTED BY FEBRUARY 25TH.