READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 1st…

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USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids Through December 31, 2020

The Department of Agriculture Monday extended free meals for kids through December 31. The announcement, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, allows summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. The flexibilities include permitting meals to be served outside of the typically required group settings and mealtimes, waiving meal pattern requirements and allowing parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children. Democrats have asked Perdue to make the flexibilities available for the full 2020-2021 school year. Previously criticizing failure to do so, Debbie Stabenow, a Senate Democrat from Michigan and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, says, “I’m pleased the USDA has finally listened and agreed to extend important school meals flexibilities.” In the announcement, USDA says, “while there have been some well-meaning people asking USDA to fund this through the entire 2020-2021 school year, we are obligated to not spend more than is appropriated by Congress.”

House Democrats Allege Secretary Perdue Violated Hatch Act

House Democrats claim Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue violated the Hatch Act during a visit to a Farmers to Families Food Box Distributor. Led by Democrat Marcia Fudge of Ohio, a group of lawmakers made the claim in a letter to the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Ethics. Specifically, the letter cites a potential Hatch Act violation by Perdue after he made political statements promoting the President’s re-election at the official government event on August 24. The letter follows the Republican National Convention, in which the lawmakers claim, “included several possible violations of the Hatch Act over the course of four days.” While referring to attendees of the event, Perdue states, “they and many others are going to vote for you for four more years in 2020.” Noting the Hatch Act prohibits executive branch employees from using their official position to influence the result of an election, the lawmakers requested information on Departmental travel to ensure USDA is complying with the Hatch Act.

States Challenge Trump NEPA Changes

A group of 27 attorneys generals last week filed a lawsuit challenging changes to the National Environmental Policy Act. Led by California and Washington, the coalition claims the changes are unlawful and limits public participation in the review process. In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the final rule abandons informed decision making, public participation and environmental and public health protections in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (Hav-e-air Ber-sair-uh) says, “The Trump Administration has spent the better part of four years trying to roll back critical protections and undo hard-fought progress, particularly when it comes to our environment, public lands, and natural resources.” NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions before making decisions. The Environmental Protection Agency enforces NEPA. In July, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the changes modernize and streamline the federal permitting process required under NEPA and speed up infrastructure projects.

Farmer Trust Remains High During COVID-19 Pandemic

A new national poll from Charleston Orwig shows consumer trust in farmers remains high amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Charleston Orwig recently partnered with MenuMattters to conduct the poll of more than 1,100 consumers to gauge consumer thoughts on the grocery retail sector. More than half of consumers surveyed still trust farmers a great deal or completely, and overall trust in farmers is 87 percent. Meanwhile, nearly half of all consumers are concerned about the U.S. food supply chain, likely driven by broad shortages during the height of the crisis and media coverage on the possibility of meat shortages. Nearly 75 percent of consumers are concerned about catching coronavirus when grocery shopping, and the level of concern is consistent across all consumer groups surveyed. Just under two-thirds find grocery shopping frustrating to some degree, with women and older Millennials most likely to be very or extremely frustrated by the experience. Also, most consumers are concerned about the health safety of food industry workers-from agriculture through retail. And just over 23 percent are extremely concerned.

DFA Seeks to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 30 Percent

Dairy Farmers of America seeks to become the first U.S. dairy cooperative to set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The national dairy cooperative is setting a science-based target and committing to reduce both direct and value chain greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. By having their targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative, DFA supports the Paris Agreement’s broader goals to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. Additionally, DFA’s target is aligned with work of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and its goals for the U.S. dairy industry to become carbon neutral or better by 2050. Ways to reduce greenhouse gasses, according to DFA, includes mitigating methane emissions from cows by supporting advances in feed efficiency, herd nutrition and feed additives designed to reduce emissions. Additionally, the plan calls for using renewable energy methods, anaerobic digesters, capturing emissions through healthy soil and crops and creating transportation and hauling efficiencies to reduce emissions.

NASDA Adopts New Strategic Plan

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Board of Directors just adopted a new strategic plan to guide the association for 2020-25. NASDA president-elect and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles chaired the 14-person strategic plan working group comprised of NASDA members. Quarles says the new strategic plan “will guide us as state agricultural officials as we engage many other partners in this critical journey.” NASDA’s new mission statement is: Grow and enhance American agriculture through policy, partnerships and public engagement. NASDA’s new vision statement is: Agriculture leads the way toward a healthy and resilient world. Over the next five-years, NASDA officials say they will be tackling tough expectations on government affairs, membership engagement, partnerships, and public outreach.  Established in 1916, NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories.

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.