READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, August 28th…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

More CFAP Funding Possible after Labor Day

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week hinted at more Coronavirus Food Assistance Program aid for farmers on the horizon. Perdue confirmed that the Department of Agriculture is considering “shortly after Labor Day” offering a second wave of CFAP relief during a press call. Funding for the next round of payments would come from the additional $14 billion Congress allocated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation account after July 1, 2020. Many agriculture groups say more relief is needed for farmers and ranchers as the first wave of CFAP will close September 11 when the sing up period closes. Although, farm groups are lobbying for even more aid, like the $20 billion included in the failed Senate aid package last month. Lawmakers are expected to try again in September to pass another round of economic stimulus, but it is uncertain if agriculture will be included.

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USDA Outlook Forecasts Increased Exports

U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2021 are projected at $140.5 billion, up $5.5 billion from previous estimates. The Department of Agriculture this week released its Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade report. The report says the increase is primarily driven by higher exports of soybeans and corn. Soybean exports are forecast up $4.2 billion from fiscal year 2020 to $20.4 billion, largely due to expected strong demand from China and reduced competition from Brazil. Corn exports are projected up $700 million to $9.0 billion on expectations of higher export volume. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are forecast up $500 million to $32.3 billion in 2021, led by higher beef and veal, variety meat, dairy, and poultry. Agricultural exports to China are forecast at $18.5 billion, an increase of $4.5 billion, largely on higher expected soybean sales. Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico are forecast at $21.0 billion and $19.3 billion, respectively. And 2021 U.S. agricultural imports are forecast at $136.0 billion, $4.3 billion higher than previous estimates.

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Senators Seek Robust Enforcement of USMCA Dairy Agreements

A bipartisan group of 25 Senators is identifying challenges with implementing several dairy-related provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Underscoring USMCA’s importance to the dairy industry, the group asks the U.S. government in a letter to use USMCA’s enforcement measures to ensure full compliance with the trade deal. The Senators collectively state, “we ask that you use USMCA’s enforcement measures to hold our trading partners accountable to their trade commitments.” The U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation commend the coalition of Senators for standing up for dairy farmers, processors and exporters and pressing for fair and full implementation of USMCA’s dairy provisions. The lawmakers say Canada has already begun implementing USMCA in a way that thwarts its market access promises and prevents U.S. dairy from making full use of the trade agreement. There are also unanswered questions concerning how Mexico will translate its commitments to safeguard common name cheeses into action.

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Democrats Denounce USDA Inaction to Provide School Meals to Children

Democratic lawmakers want the Department of Agriculture to reverse a decision to provide meals to students throughout the entire school year. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, states, “The Department’s refusal to extend all school meal waivers is inconsistent and baffling during this national crisis.” In the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress granted authority to the USDA to issue waivers so schools and community sponsors could provide school meals to children during the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA has stopped short of extending all available flexibilities that keep children fed while schools are closed and also reduce administrative burdens for schools.  In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on August 14, Stabenow urged USDA to take action and use its full authority to provide healthy meals to students for the duration of the school year. Secretary Perdue responded on August 20 and refused to extend waivers that allowed states and schools to more seamlessly operate through the emergency summer meal programs.

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Gillibrand Urges USDA to Provide Direct Relief to Small Farmers

Kirsten Gillibrand, a Senate Democrat from New York and Senate Agriculture Committee member, is urging the Department of Agriculture to provide direct relief for small farmers. Gillibrand says she is “demanding” USDA to “answer for the inequitable distribution” of payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Gillibrand is calling on USDA to address gaps in CFAP that “have left small farmers in crisis.” Specifically, Gillibrand is urging USDA to make the program more equitable for small farmers and ranchers, collect data on farm size and demographics for CFAP applications, and set aside at least 50 percent of all assistance funds specifically for small and mid-scale operations, with payment amounts calculated the same for all producers, based on revenue losses. Gillibrand states, “The disparities in federal farm relief are unfair to our small farmers who are facing insurmountable debt and are struggling to stay afloat due to the pandemic.”

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USDA Extends Signup Deadline for New Conservation Pilot Program

The Department of Agriculture is extending the deadline to November 20, 2020, for the Soil Health and Income Protection Program. The new pilot program enables farmers to receive payments for planting perennial cover for conservation use for three to five years. Signup opened March 30, 2020, for the pilot program, which is part of the Conservation Reserve Program and available to producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce says, “We want to ensure our producers are given adequate time to enroll in this pilot program to improve soil health on their farms.” Producers can apply for three-, four-, or five-year CRP contracts to establish perennial cover on less productive cropland in exchange for payments. This pilot enables producers to plant perennial cover that, among other benefits, will improve soil health and water quality while having the option to harvest, hay, and graze outside the primary nesting season. Producers can enroll up to 50,000 acres in the program.

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.