USDA is opening signup for the Dairy Margin Coverage program even as producers are seeing their first payments from DMC for this year. DMC triggers payments when the difference between market prices and feed costs falls below the producer’s coverage level. 

The milk margin shrank to $8.08 per hundredweight in August, down from the peak this year of $12.51 in May. The August decline triggered $47.9 million in payments to producers.

USDA is projecting another round of payments for September worth 15 cents per hundredweight for producers who selected the maximum $9.50 per hundredweight coverage level. 

USDA is forecasting margins to stay below $9.50 through the end of the year.  About 73% of U.S. dairy operations are enrolled in DMC this year. 

“Early in the year, some economists predicted that DMC would not trigger any payments for the calendar year, but then fast-forward to now, when we’re starting to see payments trigger and a return on investment,” said Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. 

UN negotiates with Russia on Black Sea Grain Initiative

United Nations officials were in Moscow Sunday and Monday working to try to extend and increase the effectiveness of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the deal brokered this summer to allow three Ukrainian ports to ship out wheat, corn and other ag commodities.

Rebeca Grynspan, the secretary-general for the UN Conference on Trade and Development, led the UN delegation for the two days of talks that did not produce any concrete resolutions, according to a spokesperson.

Russia has been complaining recently that a separate deal to boost the flow of Russian fertilizer and wheat exports has not been effective and much of the talks appear to have been focused on that.

“Fertilizers and raw materials required to produce fertilizers – that includes ammonia – originating from the Russian Federation, are key to worldwide agricultural production,” the spokesperson said. “We are concerned about the next harvest and crisis in the making if fertilizers are not made available quickly and at reasonable prices to farmers all around the world as the sowing season begins. A crisis of affordability can become a crisis of availability.”

FDA holding listening session on animal foods

The Food and Drug Administration will be getting a clear message today at a listening session on claims made for feed ingredients: Keep up with the science.

That’s the main point the American Feed Industry Association plans to make to the agency, which is currently reviewing its policy for approval of products as animal foods, AFIA Director of Regulatory Affairs Louise Calderwood told Agri-Pulse. She also will tell FDA it should stop looking at potential feed ingredients as drugs, which AFIA and companies involved in the process say is preventing the introduction of new, environmentally beneficial products.

AFIA has heard from “multiple members that they have products they aren't even submitting for review in the U.S. anymore,” Calderwood said. “They'll submit them in 35 other countries, and not even bother to submit them” to FDA.

Florida lawmakers urge Vilsack to make disaster declaration

A group of twenty bipartisan lawmakers from Florida have sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to make a disaster declaration for Florida counties impacted by Hurricane Ian.

The bipartisan group asked Vilsack to make assistance available to growers whose crops were damaged or destroyed. They noted that the state’s agricultural industry feeds over 100 million Americans along the eastern seaboard.

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“In order to support the growers who were affected by Hurricane Ian, and to ensure that they can recover from losses and continue their important service of feeding America, the expeditious approval of a disaster declaration is warranted and necessary in order to have a successful winter and spring harvest season,” they wrote.

Franken creeping up on Grassley, poll finds

Sen. Chuck Grassley is facing his toughest electoral test since he first won his seat in the upper chamber in 1980 by defeating an incumbent by 8 points.

A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll released this weekend found Grassley leading his Democratic challenger, Adm. Mike Franken, by just 3 percentage points, 46% to 43%. The rest of those polled said they’d vote for someone else, wouldn’t vote at all, or were not sure.

About one third of Iowans questioned said they believe Grassley’s “longevity is an asset,” the newspaper said. Sixty percent called his age a concern.

Grassley is 89. Franken, 64, is a retired Navy admiral, has matched Grassley in spending, and outraised him in the latest quarter, $3.6 million to $1.7 million. Grassley has considerably more cash on hand, however, entering the final stretch of the campaign.

 “It says to me that Franken is running a competent campaign and has a shot to defeat the seemingly invincible Chuck Grassley — previously perceived to be invincible,” pollster J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., told the Register.

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