READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, September 21st

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USDA Announced Second Round of CFAP Details

President Trump and Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced an additional $14 billion in aid for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruption and costs associated with COVID-19. The producer signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) at the USDA Farm Service Agency’s county offices starts on September 21 and runs through December 11. In a news release, the Ag Secretary says, “America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Perdue notes that the agency “listened to feedback” from farmers, ranchers, and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s farms and ranches, and they developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted. USDA will use the funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture, and many additional commodities. The Hagstrom Report says Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee Chair John Hoeven of North Dakota said he’d talked about the program this week with Perdue and Budget Director Russ Vought, who had to approve the assistance. “Our producers don’t quit,” Hoeven says, “and Congress must match their resolve with measures to help them through a difficult time.”

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Agriculture Groups React to CFAP 2

Ag groups reacted positively to the USDA’s announcement that additional support is coming for farmers and ranchers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association VP of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, “We’re pleased to see that USDA is using unspent funds in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to provide further relief to cattle producers during COVID-19. Many producers are still reeling from disruptions brought on by the pandemic.” Assistance during the first round of CFAP only covered losses through April 15. “We don’t know when the pandemic will end and are still feeling the effects of trade imbalances and severe weather,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “This lifeline will keep farmers and ranchers afloat as they continue to keep American pantries stocked with food.” National Farmers Union is grateful for the assistance but is concerned about the distribution method. “The first round of funding was greatly appreciated, but not without its flaws,” says NFU President Rob Larew. “Not only did it favor large farmers over smaller ones, but it also sent millions of dollars to foreign-owned operations while excluding some farmers entirely.” The NFU is asking USDA to rectify those issues and make sure payments go to those who need it most.

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EPA Finalizes Interim Rules on Atrazine Use by Farmers

Atrazine is a widely used herbicide that farmers can apply before and after planting to control broadleaf and grassy weeds. It’s used primarily on corn, sorghum, and sugarcane, and to a lesser extent on residential lawns and golf courses. The Environmental Protection Agency released the Interim Registration Review Decision for atrazine, as well as propazine and simazine. With the rule, EPA finalized mitigation measures to protect human health, mitigate potential ecological risks, and provided farmers with the valuable tools they rely on to control weeds in their crops. “Today’s decision is another example of the administration taking action to support America’s farmers, one of the strongest allies in our mission to protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler during a roundtable discussion in Missouri on Friday. “The benefits of atrazine in agriculture are high, so these new protections give our nation’s farmers more clarity and certainty concerning proper use.” EPA did a thorough review of the best available science and carefully considered scientific peer review and public comments to determine which mitigation measures are warranted for the three herbicides to properly address human health and ecological risk.

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USDA’S Censky Returning to ASA

After serving as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture since 2017, the man who led the American Soybean Association for 21 years is returning to familiar territory. Stephen Censky is leaving USDA to return to the helm of the grower group as Chief Executive Officer. Censky will officially join ASA on November 9 and resumes his post after the departure of Ryan Findlay, who’s credited with helping the organization restructure internally and establish an independent government affairs office in Washington, D.C. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “There is no doubt that I personally, as well as the whole USDA family, will miss Steve’s experience, preparedness, and steady leadership. During his tenure, we accomplished a great deal in a short time, even in the face of serious challenges in American agriculture.” He adds that Censky’s roots are in agriculture and he’s one of the best and most professional public servants America has. Censky says, “It’s a privilege to return to ASA and represent our nation’s soybean growers. ASA is in many ways home, and I’m excited about working with both new and familiar faces in St. Louis and D.C. and building on the great changes made since I was last there.”

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Negative Reaction to Trump’s Refinery Bailout Plan

Lawmakers from both sides of the political fence spoke out against the idea of using USDA funds to bail out refiners that are denied exemptions from the nation’s biofuel blending laws. Reuters issued a report saying the administration is considering up to $300 million in financial relief to refiners who are denied waivers from the Renewable Fuels Standard, which requires them to blend biofuels into their fuel or to purchase credits for the 2019 compliance year. Five anonymous sources said the funds could come from within the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation. The idea isn’t sitting well with lawmakers because those funds are supposed to assist farmers and not the oil industry. Ranking Senate Ag Committee member Debbie Stabenow called the idea “outrageous” during comments on the Senate floor. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who sits on the other side of the political fence from Stabenow, says the USDA funds were meant for struggling farmers. “It’s not a surprise that Big Oil is looking elsewhere for government handouts,” a Grassley spokesman says. Refinery groups say the administration should instead focus on making the cost of the Renewable Fuels Standard less burdensome on refiners.

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Grassley, Ernst Ask for Additional USDA Support for Iowa Farmers

Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, are asking the USDA to take action to provide Iowa farmers with additional support and relief. Iowa farmers are continuing to rebuild their livelihoods after a derecho storm system and drought impacted different parts of the state. Grassley and Ernst are asking Secretary Perdue to provide further assistance to farmers and producers in the aftermath of the derecho, including a deadline extension for crop insurance premium due dates. They’re also asking for a streamlined application process to replace grain bins damaged from the storm and ensuring future USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments are issued for base acres, not harvested acres. While visiting Iowa, Secretary Perdue announced his approval of Governor Kim Reynolds’ request for a Secretarial Disaster Designation for 18 counties impacted by the storm, which allowed producers to access USDA disaster programs and Farm Service Agency loans. The senators also sent a letter asking the Secretary of Commerce to lift Section 232 tariffs on steel that add millions to the costs for Iowa’s recovery, especially for farmers needing to replace machine sheds and grain bins.

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.