READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, July 28th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

House Ag Approves WHIP+ Reauthorization for 2020, 2021

The House Agriculture Committee Tuesday approved reauthorization for WHIP+ in 2020 and 2021. Chairman David Scott, a Democrat from Georgia, stated during the hearing, the severity of recent natural disasters “has required supplemental assistance, and that’s why I have prioritized extending the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus for 2020 and 2021.” Known as WHIP, the program provides payments to producers to offset losses from hurricanes, wildfires, and other qualifying natural disasters that occurred in 2018 and 2019. WHIP+ covers the losses of the crops, trees, bushes and vines that occurred as a result of those disaster events, milk losses due to adverse weather conditions, and losses to on-farm stored commodities. The bill, approved by a voice vote of the committee, would expand coverage to include the western drought, last year’s derecho in Iowa, and another natural disaster in 2020 and 2021. Representative Mike Thompson, a California Democrat, introduced the bill in January.

AEM: 100,000 Equipment Manufacturing Jobs Possible Through Infrastructure Efforts

More than 100,000 family-sustaining equipment manufacturing jobs can be created before the end of President Biden’s first term in office, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. AEM says these are high-skilled jobs in primarily rural areas that pay an average annual income of $88,000, which is 35 percent above the current national average. The data comes from a study by IHS Markit, which assumes new infrastructure spending will occur over eight years, beginning in 2022, with three-quarters of the spending taking place during the first five years. Finally, it assumes that the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 will pass in the fall of 2021 at a five-year total investment of $303 billion. AEM’s Kip Eideberg says, “It is time for policymakers on both sides of the aisle to put policy ahead of politics and pass the bipartisan infrastructure framework and secure a five-year surface transportation reauthorization as soon as possible.”

Center for Food Safety Files Lawsuit over Trump-Era GE Rule

The Center for Food Safety this week filed a federal lawsuit challenging the 2020 decision by the Trump administration to eliminate most genetically engineered organism oversight. Previously nearly all GE plants had to go through formal Department of Agriculture approval before open-air experiments or prior to commercial use. However, the center claims the new Trump USDA regulations exempt broad categories of GE organisms from any pre-market approval. Center for Food Safety legal director George Kimbrell says, “The rules unlawfully eviscerate and abandon USDA’s responsibility to protect farmers and the environment.” Instead of strengthening rules, the lawsuit alleges the rule either exempts most GMOs from regulation or subjects them to cursory reviews that sidestep serious analysis of their actual harms. The Plaintiffs in the case are National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Environmental Health, Friends of the Earth, and Center for Biological Diversity.

FCC Announces $311 Million for Rural Broadband Efforts

The FCC this week announced more than $311 million in broadband funding through the Rural Digital opportunity fund. The FCC is ready to authorize the funding across 36 states and took steps to clear up issues with the program’s design originating from its adoption in 2020. As a result of the announcement, 48 broadband providers will bring one gigabit per second broadband speeds to nearly 200,000 homes and businesses over the next ten years and is the first funding approved through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. At the same time, the FCC also took steps to clean up the program. In light of complaints that the program was poised to fund broadband to parking lots and well-served urban areas, the FCC sent letters to 197 winning bidders. The letters offer providers an opportunity to withdraw their funding requests from those places already with service or where significant questions of waste have been raised. 

NACD Announces $2.1 Million in Grants to Local Conservation Districts

The National Association of Conservation Districts announced $2.1 million in technical assistance grants Tuesday. The grants were awarded to nearly 60 conservation districts in 23 states and territories. Made possible through an agreement with the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the grants complement the $13 million in technical assistance grants awarded to previous grantees in April of this year. NACD President Michael Crowder says, “These grants will help conservation districts carry out conservation plans for customers in high priority areas.” State conservation partnership leaders helped identify high priority locations and workloads to guide where the awards would best be placed. The funds will support approximately 90 full- and part-time individuals, of whom nearly half are new hires. More than $600,000 of matching funds will be added to these awards, furthering the impact of the grants. To date, in 2021, NACD and NRCS have awarded $15 million in technical assistance grants.

USDA Announces Rural Economic Development, Social Disadvantaged Farmers Funds

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced $14 million in rural economic development project investments. USDA is providing the funding through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, which provides zero-interest loans and grants to utilities. The utilities then lend funds to local businesses for projects that create and retain employment in rural areas. USDA Rural Development undersecretary Justin Maxson says, “These loans and grants will help rural communities build back better and support job creation.” The announcement includes investments in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. Meanwhile, on Monday, USDA announced $16.6 million for entities that help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers own and operate successful farms. That funding comes from USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 program. The 2501 program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.