READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 12th

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USDA Announces More Eligible Commodities for CFAP

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday added additional commodities to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. USDA also extended the deadline to September 11 for producers to apply for the program, a request by agriculture organizations. The changes follow USDA review of more than 1,700 responses from the public. The announcement expands the types of specialty crops covered under the program, as well as liquid eggs, frozen eggs and all sheep, and aquaculture and horticulture products. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the announcement shows, “President Trump is standing with America’s farmers and ranchers to ensure they get through this pandemic.” USDA says the changes will give more farmers and ranchers the opportunity for assistance to help keep operations afloat. Farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, requested the changes in a recent letter to Secretary Perdue. The coalition cited the low number of participants and that roughly half of the near $16 billion of aid is still available.

Pandemic and Politics Aside, U.S.-China Trade Ties Continue, For Now

Despite an unprecedented downturn in U.S.-China relations during a pandemic, U.S. businesses are not leaving the China market. The U.S.-China Business Council released its annual survey of members Tuesday, which shows nearly 70 percent expressing optimism about the commercial prospects of the market, and 87 percent of companies reporting that they have no plans to shift production out of China. But those numbers contradict a trend of progressively diminishing optimism in the short- to medium-term prospects of the China market. One-quarter of member companies have reduced or stopped planned investment in China in the last year. The top reasons were increased costs or uncertainties from U.S.-China tensions and uncertainty stemming from COVID-19. Full implementation of the Phase One trade agreement is one way to restore confidence as 88 percent of respondents have a positive or somewhat positive view of the agreement, namely because it put a lid on escalating tariffs and added an element of stability to the bilateral relationship.

NPPC: COVID-19 Demonstrates Need to Enhance Livestock Risk Protection Insurance Program

Pork producers in the United States want the Department of Agriculture to implement enhancements to the Livestock Risk Protection insurance program, known as LRP. The National Pork Producers Council and 26 state pork associations say the changes will mitigate the impact of unexpected declines in hog values from unanticipated events like the COVID-19 pandemic. NPPC President Howard A.V. Roth, says, the changes, if adopted, “would undoubtedly draw more hog farmer participants to the program and help offset losses caused by catastrophic events like the one we are experiencing today.” In a letter to USDA’s Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, NPPC requested an increased subsidy to make the program more affordable to livestock farmers, particularly when a risk management program is most needed but often cost-prohibitive. Further, NPPC seeks expansion of the coverage period to 52 weeks and an increase in the number of head eligible. The current maximum coverage period of 26 weeks, combined with limitations on the number of pigs that can be covered, have “significantly limited program participation.”

Organic Farmers Outraged Over FSA Announcement to Reducing Cost Share Reimbursements

The Department of Agriculture this week announced Organic Certification Cost Share Program funds to offset the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification. Applications for eligible certification expenses paid between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, are due October 31, 2020. However, due to expected participation levels and the limited funds available, the Farm Service Agency revised the reimbursement amount available through fiscal year 2023. Certified producers and handlers are now eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 50 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $500 per scope. The National Organic Coalition says the 2018 Farm Bill “clearly set reimbursement rates” at 75 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $750 per scope. In a statement, the coalition says it is “outraged that USDA’s Farm Service Agency has chosen to reduce reimbursements to organic producers in the midst of a pandemic.”

Lawmakers Praise USDA Response to Unsolicited Seeds

A group of lawmakers offers thanks to the Department of Agriculture for diligently investigating unsolicited seeds sent to U.S. residents. Led by Representative Jodey Arrington, a Texas Republican, a group of 20 lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week. The letter thanks USDA for their collaboration at the local, state, and federal level and continuing efforts to protect the nation’s food security. The letter states, “We encourage USDA to take seriously the potential risks associated with the illegal entry of these seeds as the agency carries out its security and bioterrorism preparedness efforts.” The lawmakers urge USDA to “continue collaborating with all relevant agencies to develop a plan of action to improve the detection of potential bioterrorism threats.” The unsolicited seeds, sent to residents of the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere, are thought to be part of a brushing scam that sellers use to boost reviews for products online.

Purdue Announces IoT Collaboration

Purdue University will be a partner in a new National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center created to develop advanced agricultural technologies. The new technologies will address food, energy and water security challenges. With a five-year, $26 million grant, the National Science Foundation has established the Engineering Research Center for the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture. The new center, headquartered at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, will combine the talents of more than two dozen researchers with Penn Engineering, Purdue University, the University of California, Merced, and the University of Florida. Mark Lundstrom, acting dean of Purdue University’s College of Engineering, says, “Our involvement will also represent a new chapter in a long history of collaboration between the colleges of Engineering and Agriculture.” Starting in the soil and reaching into the digital cloud, technologies developed through the center will collect, share and analyze data to improve farming practices, maximizing a farm’s productivity while minimizing its waste and ecological impact.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


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.