READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 18th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Bipartisan Push Seeks More Farmers and Ranchers Eligible for PPP Loans

Lawmakers seek clarified terms to ensure more farmers and ranchers are eligible for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. The request was in a letter to the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration. Led by Representative Ron Kind and Senator Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrats, along with Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the lawmakers say many farmers were falling through the cracks in when it was first created last year. Kind introduced legislation over the summer to increase the number of farmers eligible to receive a loan by allowing them to use gross income to calculate their loan award. The legislation was passed as part of the recent COVID-19 relief package. However, many farmers and ranchers are organized as partnerships or limited liability companies, which are taxed differently than other farm and ranch entities. These farmers have been unable to apply for loans under the new calculation because of the SBA’s interpretation of eligibility for partnerships or limited liability companies.

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USDA Ready to Assist Farmers, Ranchers and Communities Affected by Winter Storms

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday reminded farmers and ranchers of programs to assist them through the current winter storms. Acting Agriculture Secretary Kevin Shea says, “USDA is committed to getting help to producers and rural Americans impacted by the severe.” USDA offers several risk management and disaster assistance options to help producers recover after they are impacted by severe weather, including winter storms and extreme cold. Producers that signed up for Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program who suffer losses are asked to report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office, respectively, within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days. Livestock and perennial crop producers often have more limited risk management options available, so there are several disaster programs for them. Those programs include the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock. Producers are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency office for more information.

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Grassley Calls on McCarthy to Visit Iowa to See Renewable Energy

Senator Chuck Grassley this week invited Gina McCarthy to visit his home state to learn about renewable fuel production and overall sustainable energy strategies. The Iowa Republican says, “It would be a great opportunity for the Administration to learn just how resilient the middle of the country can be.” McCarthy, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator during the Obama administration, now serves as the White House National Climate Advisor for President Joe Biden. In 2009, Grassley invited McCarthy, who had never been to a farm before, to visit Iowa to learn about corn and soybean farming technology and see firsthand how Iowa farmers contribute to clean energy production. Since then, Iowa’s agriculture and energy industry has continued to expand. Iowa now ranks second in the nation for wind energy production, leading the nation with the highest wind power share. In 2019, wind turbines in Iowa generated more electricity than the state’s coal-fired power plants for the first time.

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Corn Refiners Release Economic Impact Study

A new study reveals the economic impact of the corn refining industry, featuring a $47 billion economic output in 2020. The Corn Refiners Association released the study this week, detailing the industry’s contributions to the U.S. economy in terms of sales, jobs, salaries, purchases, and taxes. The study finds the economic power of the corn wet-milling industry results in $3.3 billion in state and federal taxes, 167,700 total jobs, $10 billion in total wages and $47 billion in total economic output. John Bode, President and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association, says, “This report underscores the essential role America’s corn refiners play in our nation’s agricultural and economic value chain.” John Dunham and Associates completed the economic study. The study calculates the direct impact of the corn refining industry on jobs, wages, economic output and taxes at the national level. It also examines the economic impact on a state-by-state basis, as the association’s member companies operate 25 plants in ten states.

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EPA Commits to Strengthening Science Used in Chemical Risk Evaluations

The Environmental Protection Agency this week announced the agency will refine its approach to selecting science used in chemical risk evaluations. Specifically, the agency will revamp its selection and review of scientific studies used to inform Toxic Substances Control Act chemical risk evaluations. The effort, the EPA says, is part of the agency’s effort in continuing to act on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making evidence-based decisions. EPA’s ongoing effort to update its systematic review approach that was issued in 2018 is also part of EPA’s broader efforts to review the first ten TSCA risk evaluations. This review will be done following executive orders and other directives provided by the Biden-Harris administration to ensure that all agency actions meet statutory obligations, be guided by the best available science, ensure the integrity of Federal decision-making, and protect human health and the environment. EPA expects to publish and take public comment on a TSCA systematic review protocol later this year.

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Noble Research Institute Focuses on Regenerative Agriculture

Noble Research Institute announced Wednesday that it will focus all of its operations on regenerative agriculture. The organization also will set its primary goal to regenerate millions of acres of degraded grazing lands across the United States. Noble will achieve the vision through its direct work with farmers and ranchers across the nation as they transition to and profitably maintain regenerative management of their lands. Steve Rhines, president and CEO of Noble, says, “Regenerative agriculture is the next step in the land stewardship journey.” Regenerative agriculture differs from both mainstream conventional and organic agriculture in that it does not focus on inputs, such as fertilizer. Instead, regenerative agriculture uses interactions among soil, plants, water and animals to help build resilience in the soil. Noble’s programming will center exclusively on regenerative ranching, which applies regenerative principles specifically to grazing lands. About 85% of U.S. grazing lands are unsuitable for producing human food crops, such as corn.

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.