Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, July 24th

U.S. and Guatemala Working Together on H-2A Recruiting

Governments in the U.S. and Guatemala are working together to form a “registered Foreign Labor Recruiter Program” for farmworkers who want to come to the U.S. Politico says the initiative is part of several agreements that the governments are discussing to address what they call “irregular immigration patterns.” Under the program, the U.S. would prioritize H-2A visa applications from Guatemalan workers ahead of other non-immigrant visa categories. In conjunction with Guatemala’s Ministry of Labor, it would also start an outreach campaign to recruit workers. As recently as last week, the U.S. Labor Department released a rule that would change the H-2A certification process, which would possibly make it easier for producers to participate in the program and find the labor they need. Current regulations require those employers seeking temporary workers through the program to complete a labor certification process to demonstrate the positions couldn’t be filled by U.S. workers. They must also show that hiring guest workers won’t hurt the wages of similarly-skilled U.S. workers.

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Farm Bureau: Guest Worker Reforms Vital as Enforcement Increases

The federal government recently announced plans to expand and expedite the deportation of undocumented workers. That move led to a forceful call from Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall asking for guest-worker reforms. “We are a nation of laws and farmers believe our laws must be followed,” Duvall says. “However, our laws also ought to allow for an adequate, legal workforce. Farmers deserve better than to be forced to leave crops to rot in the field because there aren’t enough workers to help with the harvest.” Duvall says stronger immigration enforcement should be coupled with an improved and more affordable H-2A guest-worker program. “Currently, farmers with year-round worker needs, such as dairy and livestock producers, are unable to use the program and that’s not right,” Duvall says. “An adequate workforce is needed to address issues ranging from food waste to farm sustainability. America disagrees on many things, but surely we can agree that we need to keep putting healthy food on the table.” More information about the reforms needed can be found here:https://www.fb.org/issues/immigration-reform/agriculture-labor-reform/

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USDA Proposal Would Close SNAP Loophole

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed closing a loophole that allows states to make participants receiving minimal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits automatically eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The proposed rule would limit SNAP/TANF automatic eligibility to households that receive substantial, ongoing TANF-funded benefits aimed at helping families move toward self-sufficiency. USDA says the proposal would fix a loophole that has expanded SNAP recipients in some states to include people who clearly don’t need the benefits. The agency points out that the eligibility requirements have become so flexible that a millionaire in Minnesota successfully enrolled in the program to highlight the waste of taxpayer money. USDA says the proposal will save billions of dollars and ensure that nutrition assistance programs are delivered with consistency and integrity to those who need it most. “For too long, the loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines,” Perdue says. “Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint. We’re changing the rules to prevent abuse of a critical safety net system.” 

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Growth Energy Campaign Asking Trump to Listen to Rural America

Growth Energy, the nation’s largest ethanol association, launched a new ad campaign that featured a fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer talking directly to President Trump. The ad is asking the president to ensure that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers the devastating impact some of its policies are having on family farms. The farmer in the ad spotlight is Scott Henry of Longview Farms in Nevada. He asks the president to continue to listen to rural America. “President Trump has been our greatest champion for ethanol, for family farms, for rural America,” Henry says in the ad. “The unelected bureaucrats in the EPA are rigging the system for oil companies directly on the backs of family farmers.” Henry accuses the EPA of undermining the administration. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the new ads “put a face to the farm crisis across the country and give a voice to those in rural communities who are most impacted by the EPA’s failure to follow the law.” She says EPA’s recent 2020 RVO proposal failed to account for the 2.6 billion gallons of American biofuel lost because of the indefensibly high number of refinery exemptions granted in recent years. “We’re at a critical junction,” Skor says. “The president has an important decision to make: is he going to let EPA continue down this destructive path, or is he going to stand up for the hardworking farmers he vowed to protect?” The ads will run in primetime on Fox News in Washington, D.C., and in other states across the country.

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Comment Period Open on Hours-of-Service Regulations for Ag Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it’s looking for public comments on potential revisions to agricultural commodity or livestock definitions in its hours-of-service regulations. The Hagstrom Report says the agency worked hand-in-hand with the Department of Agriculture to provide clarity for the nation’s commercial drivers and farmers. Currently, states determine their harvesting and planting seasons. Drivers who transport agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the hours-of-service requirements from the source of the commodities to any location within a 150-mile radius. The advanced rule put together by the FMCSA would redo the definitions of livestock and agricultural commodities in order to make sure the exemption is consistently applied and has enough flexibility that makes it easy for eligible farmers and commercial drivers to use it. Transportation Department Secretary Elaine Chao (chow) says, “The agriculture industry is vital to our nation and we look forward to receiving input that will help clarify these definitions, improve safety, and offer additional flexibility to farmers and commercial drivers.”

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Bill Would Extend CAFO Environmental Liability to Processors

Representatives from California and Wisconsin have introduced a bill called the Farmer Fairness Act. The bill deals with environmental liability that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation contract farmers are already subject to under the Clean Water Act. Under the new bill, that liability would extend to the poultry and meat companies that they contract with to sell their livestock and poultry. In announcing the legislation, the sponsors said, “Large agribusiness companies like Tyson and Perdue buy livestock and animal products from farmers. The companies control the way the livestock is fed, medicated, and housed. They dictate what equipment and capital the farmer has to use. Farmers often don’t make enough to live off of because the cost of the operations, which are mandated by the companies, can leave farmers in the red.” They say through all of that, the farmer also takes on environmental liability as well. The bill is supported by groups like the National Farmers Union, Food and Water Watch, and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.