READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 22nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Agreement Reached on Expanding Coronavirus Aid, Ag Eligibility in EIDL

Lawmakers reached an agreement Tuesday to allow agriculture to participate in the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. The agreement is part of a larger deal, a $484 billion coronavirus package to extend the Paycheck Protection Program. The agreement also includes funds for small lenders and community banks, funds for national coronavirus testing and funding for hospitals. The bill includes an additional $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, told the Hagstrom Report, “farmers and ranchers are working hard to continue providing our nation with food, fuel and fiber, and this is one way we can help support them during this pandemic.” The provision means ag businesses can now apply for low-interest loans through the program and may also qualify for the $10,000 emergency grants. To be eligible, ag businesses will have to show that they have been hurt by the economic downturn caused by coronavirus.

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Farm Groups Defend Glyphosate Reregistration

A coalition of commodity groups seeks to block a challenge that would toss out the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to reregister glyphosate. The group filed a joint motion to intervene on April 20 in the case to support EPA’s decision. The Natural Resources Defense Council is challenging the reregistration approval. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides worldwide. Growers and others depend on it for effective weed control and to minimize tillage farming practices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and preserve more land for native habitats. EPA on January 22, published its interim decision for the 15-year registration review of glyphosate, as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. It included a variety of determinations about glyphosate, including revision of requirements for drift management, off-target effects, herbicide resistance management practices, and a human health risk assessment in which EPA found glyphosate posed no significant cancer or non-cancer human health risks. The coalition of farm groups includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, and eight others.

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Farmer Co-ops Urge Attention to Farmer Mental Health Issues

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives urges the Department of Agriculture to focus on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on farmers’ mental health. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week, the organization says, “for some, mental health may become as or more important than financial health.” Farmers have reached the point of decisions to destroy or abandon their produce, dump their milk, and even destroy livestock. The letter states, “The frustration of seeing the value of your hard work going for naught can compound feelings of depression.” The letter notes that USDA, together with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, has been active for several years to help producers struggling with farm stress. The organization says USDA could leverage this experience at this time to provide a lifeline to farmers and ranchers struggling with the impacts of this crisis. The letter suggests that USDA convey to producers that they are not alone, this is not their fault, and they will get through this pandemic and its impact on agriculture.

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Senate Democrats Seek Production for Food Supply Chain Workers

A group of 36 Democratic Senators led by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan urges the Trump administration to protect essential workers in the food supply chain. There have been numerous reports of essential workers in meatpacking plants, processing facilities, farms, grocery stores, and markets falling ill from COVID-19. Some workers have reportedly felt pressured to go to work even when feeling sick. There are also serious concerns about the health of farmworkers who often work, live, and travel in close proximity, making social distancing very difficult. A letter to the Trump administration from the Senators states, “It is vital that we do everything we can to protect food supply workers.” The Senators say breakdowns in the food supply chain could have significant economic impacts for both consumers and agricultural producers. The Senators urged the White House and federal agencies to coordinate with state and local governments and the private sector to take aggressive action to protect essential workers and the food supply from further damage.

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USDA to Host Virtual Career Fair in Kansas City

The Department of Agriculture will hold a virtual job fair for positions at the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Kansas City, Missouri. USDA is partnering with the University of Missouri to host a joint Virtual Career Expo on April 28, 2020, building on an event last year that attracted more than 400 attendees. Both agencies relocated most of their operations to the Kansas City region last fall and are continuing to grow their workforces. Deputy Under Secretary Scott Hutchins says, “This is a unique time for our nation and USDA continues to build the ERS and NIFA workforce using innovative techniques.” The COVID-19 pandemic forced many event cancellations, or a pivot to virtual events, such as the virtual job fair. Representatives from ERS, NIFA, and the Office of Personnel and Management will conduct information sessions during the Virtual Expo about the agencies and available positions, how to apply for federal jobs and benefits of working for the federal government.

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Lawmakers Seek Support for Local Media

More than 200 lawmakers seek federal assistance for local news and media outlets suffering from the lack of advertising funds during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawmakers say that in times of emergency and disaster, the public turns to their local media, and advertising plays an incredible role in funding those outlets. A letter to the Trump administration says the importance of advertising to the “sustainability of local broadcast stations and newspapers cannot be overstated.” National Association of Farm Broadcasting President Rita Frazer says, “When local businesses hurt, local radio stations hurt,” adding, “our members are feeling the pain, with local advertising dollars shifting and declining.” The lawmakers urge the administration to review any resources provided by the CARES Act and other recent bills intended for advertising campaigns, and expedite those activities with local media outlets. The lawmakers also seek federal outreach through advertising of new programs, and incentives for recovering businesses to advertise with local media.

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.