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| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


FAO Food Price Index Rising for Nine Straight Months The Monthly Food Price Index averaged 116.0 points in February 2021, 2.4 percent higher than January, marking the ninth month of consecutive rise. The index by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reached its highest level since July 2014. The increase was led by strong gains in the sugar and vegetable oil sub-indices, while cereals, dairy and meat also rose but to a lesser extent. International sorghum prices increased the most, up 17.4 percent in February and 82.1 percent above year-ago levels, driven by ongoing strong demand from China. International corn prices also rose .9 percent from the previous month. Wheat export prices remained nearly stable in February, but up 19.8 percent from last year. Vegetable oil prices continued strength reflected by firmer prices. Dairy prices were up 1.7 percent, and meat prices up .6 percent. The report found sugar prices up 6.4 percent from January, the second consecutive monthly increase and its highest level since April 2017. ************************************************************************************ Farm Futures: Why Farmers Feel Threatened by Biden Administration A recent Farm Futures survey found why farmers feel threatened by potential policy objectives under the Biden administration. The survey shows nearly nine of every ten farmers believe taxes will go up under a Biden administration. Another 71 percent believe WOTUS will be overturned. Only 22 percent believe markets will stabilize with a new trade strategy. And four of every five farmers believe there will be fewer government ad hoc funds going to agriculture. An Iowa farmer told Farm Futures, "I am worried about everything in that survey." The publication points out the unease in farm country today feels similar to farmer attitudes after President Barack Obama was elected. And while farm organizations and lobbyists engage with new political leaders on Capitol Hill, it may be some comfort to remember that, "when it comes to ag policy, usually the worst doesn't happen, but you need to be prepared for changes," according to a Farm Futures analyst. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Seek Passive of COVID-19 Bill with Relief for Minority Farmers A coalition of agriculture groups urges lawmakers to support emergency relief for farmers and ranchers of color. In a letter to leadership of the House and Senate, the coalition says they are "committed to improving the financial and rural development interests of this nation's Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and People of Color farmers and ranchers." Specifically, the coalition urges lawmakers to support the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act. Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, introduced the legislation last month. The legislation would provide $4 billion in direct relief payments to help farmers of color pay off outstanding USDA farm loan debts and related taxes, and help them respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic. The bill provides Another $1 billion fund to root out systemic racism by expanding the capacity of USDA to provide technical and legal assistance to agricultural communities of color and to fund under-resourced programs that will shape the future for farmers and communities of color. ************************************************************************************ Ethanol Production Rebounds from Recent Collapse Ethanol production rebounded last week, according to data from the Energy Information Administration and the Renewable Fuels Association. For the week ending February 26, ethanol production scaled up 29.0 percent following the prior week lull, or 191,000 barrels per day, to 849,000, equivalent to 35.6 million gallons daily. Production remained 21.3 percent below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate decreased 2.6 percent, equivalent to an annualized rate of 12.85 billion gallons. Meanwhile, Ethanol stocks declined 1.6 percent, which was 10.2 percent below a year ago. Inventories drew down across all regions except the Midwest. The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, recovered by 13.1 percent to 124.9 billion gallons. Gasoline demand was 11.3 percent less than a year ago. Refiner and blender net inputs of ethanol improved by 12.3 percent to a nine-week, and there were zero imports of ethanol reported for the week. ************************************************************************************ Farm Workforce Modernization Act ‘Step in the Right Direction’ Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would reform the H-2A visa program to address the agricultural labor shortage. Representatives Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, and Dan Newhouse, a Washington state Republican, introduced the legislation this week. Among other provisions, it would amend the H-2A program to allow a capped number of visas for farmworkers to work year-round. National Pork Producers Council's recently elected President Jen Sorenson says the organization "believes this legislation is a step in the right direction." The U.S. pork industry is largely dependent on foreign-born workers. NPPC says visa reform is needed to ensure that U.S. livestock agriculture can compete globally and continue to provide safe and affordable pork to Americans and consumers worldwide. The National Milk Producers Federation also welcomed the legislation. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern stated, “This bipartisan bill takes a significant step toward ultimately addressing through legislation the workforce crisis plaguing American agriculture.” ************************************************************************************ Wicker, Peters Reintroduce FLOODS Act A group of Senators this week reintroduced the Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support, or FLOODS Act. The legislation seeks to establish a National Integrated Flood Information System. The lawmakers say the bill would improve the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecasting and communication of flood, tornado and hurricane events. Senator Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, along with Michigan Democrat Gary Peters, reintroduced the bill. Wicker says recent flooding events in his state "underscore the importance of an effective understanding and response to high water." The bill would establish partnerships with institutions of higher education and federal agencies to improve total water predictions, designate a service coordination hydrologist at each National Weather Service River Forecast Center and evaluate and improve flood watches and warnings. Additionally, the legislation encourages NOAA to evaluate acoustic tracking and measuring of windstorms, use aerial surveys of floodwaters to improve flood mapping, and improve modeling of freshwater outflow into the ocean.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


Washington Insider: China's National Digital Currency The New York Times is reporting this week that China is testing a new digital currency. It described the experience of Annabelle Huang who recently won a government lottery to try China's latest economics experiment. After joining the lottery through the social media app WeChat, Huang, 28, a business strategist in Shenzhen, received a digital envelope with 200 electronic Chinese yuan, or eCNY, worth around $30. To spend it, she went to a convenience store near her office and picked out some nuts and yogurt. Then she pulled up a QR code for the digital currency from inside her bank app, which the store scanned for payment. “The journey of how you pay, it's very similar” to that of other Chinese payments apps, Huang said of the eCNY experience, though she added that it wasn't quite as smooth. China is running a “bold effort” to remake the way that government-backed money works, rolling out its own digital currency with different qualities than cash or digital deposits, the Times says. The country's central bank, which began testing eCNY last year in four cities, recently expanded those trials to bigger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. The effort is one of several by central banks around the world to try new forms of digital money that can move faster. Many countries have taken action as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have become more popular. But while Bitcoin was designed to be decentralized so that no company or government could control it, digital currencies created by central banks give governments more of a financial grip. These currencies can enable some funds to expire if not used by a particular date and can make it easier for governments to track financial transactions, fight tax evasion and crack down on dissidents. Over the last 12 months, more than 60 countries have experimented with national digital currencies, up from just over 40 a year earlier, according to the Bank for International Settlements. The countries include Sweden, which is conducting real-world trials of a digital krona, and the Bahamas, which has made a digital currency, the Sand Dollar, available to all citizens. By contrast, the United States has moved slowly and done just basic research. At a New York Times event last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen indicated that might change. She asserted that an American digital currency was “absolutely worth looking at” because it “could result in faster, safer and cheaper transactions.” Still, no major power is as far along as China. Its early moves could signal where the rest of the world goes with digital currencies, NYT says. “This is about more than just money,” said Yaya Fanusie, a fellow at the Center on Economic and Financial Power, a think tank, and an author of a recent paper on the Chinese currency. “It's about developing new tools to collect data and leverage that data so that the Chinese economy is more intelligent and based on real-time information.” While the Chinese government has not said if and when it will officially introduce the eCNY nationwide, several officials have mentioned having it ready for tourists visiting for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. Recent articles and speeches from officials at the People's Bank of China underscored the project's ambitions and the desire to be first. The development of a national digital currency began in 2014, when the People's Bank of China set up an internal group to work on one. People recently have been invited to currency trials through a lottery on WeChat or other apps and were able to click on a link and get a balance of 200 electronic yuan. To spend the money, users can use an eCNY app to scan a retailer's QR code or produce a QR code that the retailer can scan. The design of eCNY borrows only a few minor technical elements from Bitcoin and does not use the so-called blockchain technology, officials from the People's Bank of China have said. So far, only a limited number of retailers have taken the currency. But early users said the experience was so similar to Chinese digital payment options like Alipay and WeChat Pay that it would not be hard to switch to it if it were rolled out nationwide. Eswar Prasad, the former head of the International Monetary Fund's China division, said one of the most important factors driving the eCNY was the success of WeChat Pay and Alipay. Both have given rise to a new alternate financial system that has worried Chinese officials and led to a recent crackdown on Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba and Ant Financial, which owns Alipay. If the eCNY is successful, it will give the central bank new powers, including novel types of monetary policy to help the economy grow. Some economists say China's digital currency would also make it easier for the renminbi to compete with the U.S. dollar as a global currency. But Chinese officials and analysts have said many other changes would be necessary for that to happen. So, we will see. So far, the prototype currencies often appear to be highly intrusive and the idea of basic new shifts in the nature of national currencies is deeply daunting. Such proposals should be watched closely by producers as they are debated and, perhaps, implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


Vilsack Reiterates Changes May Be Made To Food Box Program USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday told a National Press Foundation meeting that he does support the Food Box program deployed by the Trump administration and said that it would run through April, but again said there could be changes to the effort ahead and that no decision to continue it had been made. A review of the program is underway at USDA, Vilsack said, including that if the program or “something akin to a food box program” were continued, would it be on a smaller, more-targeted scale. “No decision has been made as to whether or not it will be extended and if extended what it will look like,” he said. He did suggest that one option could be to involve The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) as that program has an established distribution system in getting food out to nonprofits and charities. It still appears that the popular program will continue in some form given the overall concept has won backing of some key lawmakers. However, expectations have been that the effort will be tweaked from its initial version and it could be renamed or as Vilsack suggests, combined with another existing effort such as TEFAP.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


Group Seeks Supreme Court Review of California's Prop 12 The North American Meat Institute has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review an earlier ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the constitutionality of California's Proposition 12 — The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative. “Prop 12 hurts the family on a budget by causing higher prices for pork, veal and eggs, and unfairly punishes livestock producers outside of California by forcing them to spend millions just to access California markets,” Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts said in a release. “If this unconstitutional law is allowed to stand, California will dictate farming practices across the nation.” The Meat Institute argued the Ninth Circuit's decision conflicts with those of other federal appeals courts regarding whether the constitution limits a state's ability to extend police power beyond its territorial border via a trade barrier dictating production standards. It also said Prop 12 insulates in-state farmers from out of state competition, while “imposing crushing burdens” on out of state producers with no political voice to shape the rules.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday morning's reports start at 7:30 a.m. CST with U.S. nonfarm payrolls and February unemployment from the U.S. Labor Department and the January trade deficit from the U.S. Census Bureau. Later Friday morning, USDA will release more specific export data for January. The latest weather forecasts will also be noted, along with any export sales news that might appear. Weather Light to moderate rain showers are in store for much of the Southern Plains Friday. Moisture will be important for winter wheat ahead of exiting dormancy. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be much above normal in northern areas and seasonal to above normal elsewhere.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Ag Bankers Signal Strong Recovery in Farm Finance Farm income and agricultural credit conditions improved significantly according to agricultural lenders across major portions of the U.S. in the fourth quarter. Despite turbulent conditions related to the ongoing pandemic, prices of several agricultural commodities increased sharply in the final months of the year. Dramatic improvements in crop prices drove the sharpest turnaround in agricultural lending conditions in more than a decade, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. On average, farm loan repayments increased for the first time since 2013. The rate of loan repayment increased from a year ago in all participating Federal Reserve Districts except Dallas, with the fastest pace of increase reported in the Minneapolis and Chicago Districts. Other financial indicators also shifted quickly in the fourth quarter as borrowers experienced relief from previous years of financial stresses. On average, loan demand contracted at the fastest pace since 2013 and fund availability increased at the fastest pace since 2013, according to agricultural bankers. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Welcome Cattle Market Transparency Act Farm and livestock groups this week welcomed introduced of the Cattle Market Transparency Act. Senators Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican and Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, introduced the legislation. The bill establishes regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. The legislation would also require USDA to create and maintain a publicly available library of marketing contracts between packers and producers in a manner that ensures confidentiality. Finally, the bill mandates that packers report to USDA the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days and require USDA to report this information daily. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and American Farm Bureau all responded favorably to the bill. NCBA welcomed a discussion on market transparency, stating, “We have worked and will continue to work alongside our affiliates, Congress, and USDA toward regionally robust negotiated trade.” ************************************************************************************ Vilsack: Hungry Americans Need the American Rescue Plan Now An editorial by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack supports passage of the American Rescue Plan. The legislation, passed by the House and up for consideration in the Senate, is President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion economic relief package to help the nation recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, Vilsack says the plan is "one of the strongest pieces of legislation in recent memory dedicated to addressing hunger and food insecurity." Vilsack says hunger has increased throughout the pandemic, with as many as 30 million adults and 14 million children living in a household where they may not always get enough to eat. Further, the pandemic has exacerbated longstanding disparities in food insecurity. The American Rescue Plan provides funding to USDA to expand federal nutrition assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and a complimentary program that helps mothers and children under five and other emergency benefits to children, seniors, and the disabled. ************************************************************************************ Senate Ag Plans Climate Hearing The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on Climate Change next week. Committee leadership announced the hearing, titled, Farmers and Foresters: Opportunities to Lead in Tackling Climate Change. The hearing, planned for Thursday, March 11, follows a similar hearing held by the House Agriculture Committee. Last week’s House Agriculture Committee hearing on climate change focused on how farmers and ranchers can help lessen the burden. The hearing included comments from American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, who pointed out carbon sequestration, achieved through land management, contributes to greenhouse gas removals equivalent to 12 percent of total U.S. emissions. Duval says, “with increased investment in agricultural research, we can develop the new frontier technologies to capture even more carbon in our croplands, our forests and our grasslands.” Addressing climate change is a priority of the Biden administration. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees are expected to discover ways farmers and ranchers can be part of the solution. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Elects New Officers, Board Members The National Pork Producers Council Wednesday elected new officers and members to its board of directors at the National Pork Industry Forum. Jen Sorenson was introduced as the 2021-2022 NPPC president. For the past decade, Sorenson has been with Iowa Select Farms, an Iowa farming business that markets more than five million hogs per year. Sorenson takes over from Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wisconsin, who becomes NPPC's immediate past president and chairman of the council's trade and nominating committees. Terry Wolters of Minnesota was elevated to president-elect. Scott Hays of Missouri was elected to serve as NPPC vice president, and Rob Brenneman of Iowa and Jeb Stevens of Indiana were elected as new members of the board. Additionally, delegates passed two resolutions, including one supporting CME Group's Pork Cutout contract, which was introduced in November 2020. Delegates also passed a resolution to delay an increase to the contribution rate of NPPC’s strategic investment program until July 2022. ************************************************************************************ Bayer Offering Free XtendiMax Application Training Bayer Crop Science has free training available to farmers and applicators using the XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip Technology and the new XtendFlex soybeans. A company spokesperson says, "we will continue to support our customers to help with proper stewardship so they can achieve great weed control and strong harvests." Bayer offers a variety of free training options - including live webinars every Wednesday at 9 a.m. Central through the end of March 2021, self-guided online modules, and limited in-person workshops for customers unable to connect online. Bayer will continue offering training up until the application cutoff dates this summer. Applicators can sign up for training at RoundupReadyXtend.com/Training. XtendiMax herbicide remains a restricted use pesticide, and all certified applicators must undergo annual training to use the technology. The Bayer-led trainings explain the new label requirements in a clear and easy-to-understand way. Bayer has also updated the XtendiMaxApplicationRequirements.com webpage, which details the application requirements.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Washington Insider: The Pandemic and Long Term Jobs Growth Projecting how many people will work in hundreds of detailed occupations in 2029 is a bold exercise — even without the uncertainty of the pandemic. However, the New York Times this week said that U.S. Department of Labor experts attempt to do just that. And their latest assessment of which jobs will grow over the next decade has alarming implications for jobs requiring less education — while also forecasting a boom for epidemiologists and other health-science jobs, the Times said. That assessment, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, emphasizes all the uncertainty that accompanies projections and it stresses that these are estimates of structural changes, not forecasts of cyclical booms and busts. Long-term projections are often wrong, especially for more volatile sectors like mining and construction, but the agency's estimates are typically well reasoned and sober. The original BLS projections, made last year without taking pandemic effects into account, called for cumulative economy-wide job growth of 3.7% from 2019 to 2029. The new pandemic-informed projections cut that to 2.9% in the “moderate impact” pandemic outlook and 1.9% in the “strong impact” one. Both of these new outlooks assume more remote work and higher demand for relevant technology services; less in-person entertainment and travel; and more investment in public health than would have happened without the pandemic. In the “strong impact” projection, there would be 25% more epidemiologists in 2029 than the original baseline projection for 2029, the largest increase among nearly 800 detailed occupations. The 10 occupations with the biggest increase in projected employment relative to the baseline projection are all in medical, health-science and technology fields. The 10 occupations with the largest declines relative to the baseline projection include restaurant, hotel and transportation jobs. On balance, the new projections modestly speed up the occupational shifts from the original baseline projections. For instance, the pandemic is poised to accelerate the originally projected fast growth in software developer jobs and to hasten a previously expected decline in cashier jobs. The projected employment changes because of the pandemic are concentrated in a relatively small number of sectors. Three-quarters of all jobs are in occupations where projected employment in the strong-impact scenario differs from the original baseline scenario by less than 2%. For the most part, the sectors originally projected to grow fastest over the next decade in the baseline projection—like nurse practitioners, home health aides and many other health care occupations—are still projected to grow fastest. Similarly, the sectors originally projected to shrink most—such as administrative assistants, mail carriers and product inspectors—are still projected to decline similarly in the pandemic-affected scenarios. Across all occupations, the correlation between employment growth in the original projection and the strong-impact pandemic projection is 0.92—with a correlation of 1 representing a perfect relationship. The sectors facing additional job loss because of the pandemic tend to be low-wage sectors where workers are already struggling. The strong-impact pandemic projection shows the lowest-paying occupations losing jobs over the decade. This would be a significant shift from the original pre-pandemic projections, in which growth was greatest in the highest- and lowest-wage occupations, with middle-wage occupations lagging. The pandemic could end up replacing polarized growth with a net loss of lower-wage jobs. Grouping occupations by educational requirements instead of wages tells a similar story. For jobs requiring a bachelor's or graduate degree, projected upbeat employment growth remains nearly the same under the pandemic-affected picture as in the original baseline. The decline in projected employment growth because of the pandemic is almost entirely concentrated in jobs requiring only a high school diploma or no diploma. Still, the pandemic makes forecasting a risky business, the Times notes. Near-term projections of GDP or unemployment hinge on things like the rate of virus mutations and vaccine distribution. Longer-term predictions depend on how much the pandemic permanently changes how we work and spend. But the pandemic has already widened existing inequalities; these new projections suggest that the unequal effect on jobs could long outlast the pandemic. So, we will see. As the Times noted, long term forecasting is always tricky business. And while the specific trends and rates are almost always wrong, the process is considered highly useful for its descriptions of the factors affecting the changes. In addition, the article notes to a strong degree the factors that give competitors for good jobs a leg up likely will continue to be important to agriculture and other sectors and should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Vilsack Signals He Backs Food Box Program, But With Adjustments USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has come out in favor of the Farmers to Families Food Box program, albeit with some tweaks. “I think that I have been convinced that there are a number of areas — remote areas in particular — that have been served by this program where people have received fresh fruits, vegetables and other products that they might not otherwise have gotten but for the program,” Vilsack told Politico in an interview this week. “I like that aspect of what's happened with this program. I am a little concerned about the fact that there seems to be quite a significant difference between the level of reimbursement for people who are administering the program and implementing the program. That is a concern. At the end of the day, you want as many dollars going into the boxes, as opposed to into the pockets of the people filling the boxes. I think there needs to be an examination of that.” In remarks Wednesday, Vilsack would not comment on whether the program would run beyond April. However, the effort has won the backing of key lawmakers like Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., further raising expectations the effort will be a part of the food/nutrition programs ahead.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Vilsack Meets With Mexican, Canada Ag Leaders USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack held virtual discussions Tuesday with Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Victor Villalobos and with Canadian Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau. Vilsack said on Twitter that Mexico is “not only a key trading partner, but also an important collaborator as we address climate change and food security.” The two committed to boosting scientific and technological cooperation at all levels on agriculture. Villalobos said that the objective “is to achieve better production and guarantee food security.” Vilsack said that the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico was “strengthened with the Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada (T-MEC), which gained relevance in the context of the pandemic.” Vilsack also said that the two sides will “work to increase the productivity, with sustainable practices of all farmers, and in reaching being self-sufficient in the North America region.” Relative to his discussion with his Canadian counterpart, Vilsack said he expected to work with her on “climate smart food and forest practices and delivering science-based solutions to help mitigate and reduce climate change.” From the Canadian side, Bibeau said they agreed on a mutual interest in championing rules- and science-based international trade, with both sides agreeing that working on those issues is key for agriculture, according to the Canada Newswire. “Secretary Vilsack and I share many priorities and we committed to supporting each other's efforts to build a sustainable agricultural sector that strengthens our rural economies, and feeds our people at home and abroad,” Bibeau said in a statement. There was little mention on either side relative to trade issues between the parties such as dairy and Canada and products like potatoes with Mexico. However, Villalobos will be visiting Washington to discuss issues like biotechnology, fertilizer management, and trade issues such as U.S. access to the Mexico market for fresh potatoes and Mexican access to the U.S. market for avocados from Jalisco, according to a report from marketresearchtelecast.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, a report on U.S. productivity in the fourth quarter and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST. The U.S. Energy Department's report on natural gas inventory is at 9:30 a.m. Otherwise, traders will be looking at the latest weather forecasts and any fresh export news that might emerge. Weather Another dry day is in store across the primary crop areas Thursday. Temperatures will be mainly above normal. A weather system bringing snow to the southern Rockies is indicated to be a rain maker in the southwestern Plains Thursday night and Friday. This moisture would be important for winter wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


February Ag Economy Barometer Results February's Ag Economy Barometer reading of 165 changed little compared to January when the index stood at 167. Announced Tuesday, producers continue to report strong current conditions on their farms as February's Current Conditions Index value of 200 is near its all-time high. Continuing a trend that got underway last fall, however, the Index of Future Expectations drifted lower to 148, three points below its January reading. February marked the third time in the last four months that the Future Expectations Index declined, leaving it 20 percent below its October peak. Ongoing strength in ag commodity prices and farm income continue to support producers' perspective on current conditions. Concerns about possible policy changes affecting agriculture and eroding confidence in future growth in ag trade continue to weigh on producers' future expectations. Producers also indicated they expect to see alternative protein sources increase market share in the years ahead. If the market share becomes significant, they think it’s likely to reduce aggregate farm income. ************************************************************************************ Stabenow Introduces New Bill to Boost Clean Energy Senator Debbie Stabenow this week introduced a new bill to boost manufacturing by providing a tax credit to manufacturers who retool or build facilities to produced clean energy parts. The Michigan Democrat, who also chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced the American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act. The legislation would provide a 30 percent tax credit to manufactures to create jobs that draw on existing skilled workforces and reinvest in communities experiencing high unemployment. Stabenow says, "Transitioning to a clean energy economy creates significant opportunities." The bill is part of Stabenow's American Jobs Agenda. The legislation would, according to Stabenow, Strengthen American manufacturing by providing $8 billion for a tax credit to manufacturers that retool, expand or build new facilities that make parts and technologies needed to reduce carbon emissions. Companies eligible to apply for the tax incentive include those making batteries, electric and fuel cell vehicles, semiconductor chips, components to produce renewable energy, carbon capture and others. ************************************************************************************ Hypoxia Task Force Sends Letter to EPA, USDA Leadership States in the Hypoxia Task Force urge Biden administration leaders to continue partnership and support with the coalition. The task force recently penned a letter to leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who serves as the co-chair of the task force, states, "Working together, we can improve our local waters and the Gulf of Mexico." The task force is a partnership of 12 states and five federal agencies that work collaboratively to reduce nutrient-loading throughout the Mississippi River Basin and the size of the hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The group’s action plan has a near-term target of reducing nutrient-loading to the Gulf from the basin by 20 percent by 2025, and a long-term goal of limiting the Gulf hypoxic zone to an average annual size of less than 5,000-square kilometers by 2035, subject to the availability of resources. ************************************************************************************ Optimism in Beef Industry Fueled by Strong Demand Despite pandemic disruptions, consumer demand for beef at home and around the globe remained strong in 2020. CattleFax says that trend will continue in 2021 and beyond, especially as foodservice operations begin to fully reopen. The data was presented during the recent Cattle Industry Convention Winter Reboot. The strong demand, combined with expected higher cattle prices, signal an optimistic future for the beef industry. According to CattleFax CEO Randy Blach, cattle numbers will continue to contract in 2021, and producers will gain leverage on packers and retailers, and margin distribution will be more equitable. Packing capacity is expected to increase slowly with the addition of more small-scale plants, and U.S. meat exports will continue to grow. Overall, profitability is expected to improve significantly for cow/calf producers. In 2020, total meat sales volume at retail was up ten percent and total dollar sales at retail up 18 percent, with beef's share of the increase in spending accounting for 45 percent or $5.7 billion. ************************************************************************************ USCA Supports Strengthening Local Processing Act The United States Cattlemen’s Association this week announced its support of The Strengthening Local Processing Act. Introduced last month, the legislation will increase local livestock and poultry producers' options and assist smaller facilities as they adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and expand to meet consumer demand. The legislation was introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat, and Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican, in the U.S. House. USCA Vice President Justin Tupper of South Dakota says, “Local and regional meat processors are critical in securing our nation’s food supply, and by offering this technical and financial assistance, we can better help set them up for success.” USCA says four multinational meatpacking companies control over 80 percent of the meatpacking business in the U.S., adding, "expanding the reach of independent processors brings more competition to the marketplace." The legislation will increase the federal share of state inspection costs from 50 to 65 percent and for Cooperative Interstate Shipment facilities from 60 to 80 percent, encouraging more states to operate state inspection programs. ************************************************************************************ Krysta Harden Promoted to President/CEO of U.S. Dairy Export Council Dairy Management Inc. and the U.S. Dairy Export Council announced the promotion of Krysta Harden from chief operating officer to President and CEO. Harden was named COO in May 2020. During that time, she continued her role as executive vice-president of global environmental strategy for DMI, which manages the national dairy checkoff for 34,000 dairy farmers. Harden succeeds former USDEC President and CEO Tom Vilsack, who has been confirmed as secretary of agriculture in the Biden administration. Harden becomes the third president and CEO to lead USDEC since its founding by DMI in 1995 and is its first female chief executive. Before joining DMI, Harden served as Chief Sustainability Officer with Corteva and DuPont. Harden also spent seven years working with Vilsack at USDA. Harden states she will continue the aggressive approach established by Vilsack at the organization “engaging USDEC member companies, exporters, and dairy producers in export market development efforts.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Expected Break With Past Trade Policy Katherine Tai, President Biden's pick for United States Trade Representative, promised lawmakers during her confirmation hearing last week that she would work with Congress to help reinvigorate the economy and aggressively enforce American trade rules against China, Mexico and other trading partners. Tai, in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, said her background challenging China's unfair trade practices in the Obama administration had given her knowledge of “the opportunities and limitations in our existing toolbox.” She promised to work with allies and enforce the terms of the trade deal that President Donald Trump signed with Beijing last year, while working to develop a more “strategic and coherent plan” for competing with China's state-directed economy. As trade representative, Tai would work toward several of the Biden administration's key goals, including helping to restore American alliances abroad and reforming and enforcing American trade rules to help alleviate inequality and mitigate climate change. In her testimony last week Tai promised to ensure that trading partners adhered to new trade rules, including the agreement that Trump signed with China last year and new measures included in the revised North American trade deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). She declined to give many specifics on the trade policies the Biden administration would pursue, saying instead she would review existing tariffs and trade negotiations. But she laid out a philosophy on trade that would support broader, more equitable growth and “recognize that people are workers and wage earners, not just consumers,” which she said would be a significant departure from the past. Biden and other Democrats have complained that the trade policies of previous presidents were often driven by the interests of corporations and lobbyists, and ended up surrendering the interests of lower-wage workers for the benefit of certain businesses and exporters. Trade policy for the past several decades had often fallen “into a pattern where one sector of our economy and one segment of our workers feel like their livelihoods and their opportunities are sacrificed to another part of our economy,” Tai said. She said the administration would try “to break out of that pattern, so that what we are doing in trade is coordinated with what we are doing in other areas, but also not forcing us to pit one of our segments of our workers and our economy against another.” Asked about the tariffs that Trump had placed on foreign metals, Tai said that tariffs were “a legitimate tool in the trade toolbox,” but that the global steel and aluminum industries faced larger problems with overcapacity that might require other policy solutions. She also said that she was aware of “the many concerns” that had arisen with the process of companies applying for exclusions from the tariffs, and said that reviewing that system with an eye to transparency, predictability and due process would be “very high on my radar.” If confirmed, Tai would be the first woman of color and first Asian-American to serve in the position. Tai also said that she wanted take a role in a new Biden administration effort to strengthen critical supply chains, saying that past trade policy had focused on efficiency rather than resilience, and needed to be rethought. She said that she shared the Trump administration's goal of bringing supply chains back to America, but that the prior administration's policies had created “a lot of disruption and consternation,” adding, “I'd want to accomplish similar goals in a more effective, process-driven manner.” She pledged to re-engage the United States at the World Trade Organization, which the Trump administration largely bypassed or ignored, but acknowledged that the global trade group faced big challenges to its effectiveness. The United States can't afford not to be a leader in the organization, she said, but “the WTO does need reform.” Ms. Tai also expressed interest in resolving a long-running trade dispute between the European Union and the United States at the World Trade Organization over subsidies given to the plane makers Boeing and Airbus, which has resulted in a volley of tariffs. “If confirmed, I would very much be interested in figuring out — pardon the pun — how to land this particular plane,” Tai said. Senators of both parties were mostly complimentary of Tai's experience and trade knowledge, though several Republican senators expressed concerns about her failure to commit to free trade in principle, and to pledge to aggressively drive forward new trade negotiations. Senator Mike Crapo, R., Idaho, praised Tai's extensive experience in trade, but raised concerns about Biden's pledges to address domestic priorities first before signing any new trade deals. “Our businesses and workers are ready to sell American to all foreign customers right now,” Mr. Crapo said. “Our businesses need that access more than ever because other countries are not standing still.” Tai said she planned to review the trade negotiations with Britain, saying that the country's departure from Europe, the coronavirus pandemic and other developments since negotiations started in 2018 demanded new consideration. Asked about rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-country trade deal negotiated by President Obama that Trump withdrew from, Tai said that she would work with like-minded countries in the Asia-Pacific on the issue of China, but stopped short of calling for rejoining the TPP. The “basic formula for the TPP.,” of the United States engaging with countries with shared strategic and economic interests with the challenge of China in mind “is still a sound formulation,” she said. “I think what I would add is a lot has changed in the world in the past five or six years, and a lot has changed in terms of our own awareness of some of the pitfalls of the trade policies that we've pursued as we've pursued them over the most recent years,” she said. So we shall see. The new administration is entering into the trade arena with a person leading the trade agenda that may not have the global recognition, but she is experienced in the enforcement side of the equation. That is something that must be monitored ahead, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


House Ag Chair Scott Eyes Moving Disaster Aid Out Of Appropriations Process House Ag Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., spoke virtually before the National Farmers Union convention, relating discussions with President Joe Biden about getting COVID-19 vaccines to processing plants and rural areas. He also wants a rethinking of disaster relief, noting that “what we've done in Congress in the past is not getting the aid down to our farmers in time.” The solution, he said is creating legislation for establishing an “independent funding mechanism” away from the regular appropriations process, which he called “too political.” Observers note this appears to be yet another effort that lawmakers and this administration are eyeing to utilize the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) authority. That has been the case in the past when lawmakers have sought to move something outside the annual appropriations process. As more and more of these efforts are being considered, it also appears to be a way to build support for expanding the CCC borrowing authority from the current $30 billion level.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


USDA's Vilsack Predicts Far Less Use Of Small Refinery Exemptions Biofuel policy is already a focal point for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, with the USDA chief telling the National Farmers Union (NFU) Monday he has already been working with Michael Regan, nominated to be Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, to strengthen America's ethanol industry and address the issue of small refinery exemptions (SREs), a politically charged issue during the Trump administration. “We're not going to see the kind of liberal use of waivers that were granted in the previous administration,” Vilsack predicted. He added that USDA will work closely with EPA to ensure the RFS “is enforced and implemented appropriately,” adding that EPA needs to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard in a way that is “enforced and respected” throughout the administration. With EPA already stating it backs the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on SREs, it is clear that potentially far fewer of those exemptions will be granted ahead. But the formal action on that front is awaiting a Supreme Court review of the 10th Circuit decision and the conclusion there is not expected until sometime this summer.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday's reports start with ADP's estimate of U.S. private sector employment at 7:15 a.m. CST, an early clue of Friday's unemployment report. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly energy inventory report at 9:30 a.m., a report that includes an estimate of ethanol production after February's cold snap. Traders will keep close watch on the latest weather forecasts and any export sales news that develops. Weather Dry and mild conditions will cover all primary crop areas Wednesday. Precipitation will be confined to periods of rain on the south Atlantic coast. This combination is favorable for livestock, transportation, and field drying in areas that had recent heavy precipitation. Shower prospects are indicated for the southern Plains during late week.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


Meat Institute Seeks Supreme Court Review in Case against California’s Prop 12 The North American Meat Institute recently asked the Supreme Court to review an earlier ruling in a challenge of California's Proposition 12: The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative. The Meat Institute petition specifically asks the Supreme Court to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling in a challenge by the organization. The Meat Institute opposes the law, claiming it is unconstitutional and will hurt the nation's food value chain by significantly increasing costs for producers and consumers. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts states, "If this unconstitutional law is allowed to stand, California will dictate farming practices across the nation." The question presented in the case is whether the U.S. Constitution permits California to extend its police power beyond its territorial borders by banning pork and veal products sold into California unless out-of-state farmers restructure their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California. ************************************************************************************ 2020 Agritech, Food Investments, Sets Record The agri-food-tech sector saw a record investment total in 2020. AgFunder reports total dollars committed to agri-food-tech ventures in 2020 are expected to hit $30.5 billion, representing a 34.5 percent increase over 2019 investments. The sector's stellar performance is attributable to an increasing number of big funding rounds, signifying a maturing sector with a few clear outliers. Michigan-based cold storage and warehousing venture Lineage Logistics' $1.6 billion funding round accounted for five percent of the projected investment total. Plant-based meat company Impossible Foods raised two rounds totaling $700 million, leading a long and increasingly tech-diverse roster of investor-backed alternative protein companies. There were also a lot of small rounds, which AgFunder says speaks to investor confidence in placing their bets on the agri-food-tech sector at large, and on the next generation of early-stage innovations and technologies. Early-stage investments grew ten percent year-over-year in 2020, as the number of deals grew 15 percent. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Dairy Farm Numbers Continue to Decline Data from the Department of Agriculture shows the number of licensed dairy operators in the United States continues to decline. Analyzed by the American Farm Bureau Federation in a Market Intel article, USDA’s Milk Production report showed the fourth-largest year-over-year decline in the number of licensed dairy operations in the last 15 years. There were 2,550 fewer licensed dairy operations in 2020 than in 2019, when the number dropped by 3,261. The overall number of licensed operations in the U.S. has marched steadily downward since data collection began, declining by more than 55 percent, from 70,375 in 2003 to 31,657 in 2020. AFBF suggests this recent acceleration of the decline reflects how difficult it is to operate a dairy in a low milk price environment. Since the end of 2014, dairy farmers have struggled with low prices followed by an industry-disrupting pandemic that increased milk price volatility and rendered risk management tools mostly ineffective. ************************************************************************************ Food and Ag Groups Seek Shipping Container Action Agriculture groups last week urged the Biden Administration to address the ongoing shipping container shortage. More than 70 food, agriculture and transport groups, including the National Pork Producers Council, penned a letter last week to President Joe Biden, urging the administration to address the ongoing ocean carrier practices the groups say are hampering delivery of U.S. agriculture, food and forestry products to international markets. The letter outlines how carriers are declining to carry cargo and instead opting to return empty containers to Asia. The groups say, “unless the Shipping Act and other tools available to our government are applied promptly, agriculture industries will continue to suffer great financial losses.” The letter explains the Shipping Act provides the Federal Maritime Commission with the authority to prohibit unreasonable, unjust practices, and "to promote the growth and development of U.S. exports through competitive and efficient ocean transportation.” Given the urgency of this situation, the groups ask those tools be immediately applied to stem the current ocean carrier practices. ************************************************************************************ Hagedorn Introduces PP Flexibility for Farmers and Ranchers Act Congressman Jim Hagedorn last week introduced the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility for Farmers and Ranchers Act. The Minnesota Republican says the bill would allow farmers and ranchers categorized as partnerships to utilize gross income when calculating maximum Paycheck Protection Program loan amounts. The CARES Act allowed for farmers and ranchers to apply for PPP loans by utilizing net income in their loan calculations. Unfortunately, Hagedorn says, this prevents many agricultural partnerships from receiving the maximum PPP loan possible. Hagedorn’s legislation provides enhanced flexibility by allowing the use of gross income to calculate the maximum loan amount. The bill also includes a retroactive provision to enable producers, who initially used net income, to recalculate their PPP loans, so long as the loans have not been forgiven. The lawmaker states, “As we approach a return to normalcy and reopening our economy, it is critical that we ensure our farmers and ranchers have access to the resources needed to maintain operations.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Additional Staff Appointments The Department of Agriculture Monday announce two senior appointments. USDA announced the appointment of Dr. Dewayne Goldmon as senior advisor for racial equity to the Secretary of Agriculture. Goldmon has served for the past year as Executive Director of the National Black Growers Council, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates to improve the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of Black row crop farmers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that with Goldmon, “we will build a USDA that represents and serves all Americans.” USDA also announced the appointment of Andy Green as senior advisor for fair and competitive Markets. Most recently, Green served as a Senior Fellow for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. Referring to Green’s future with USDA, Vilsack says, “We must create a more level playing field for small and medium producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Rising Income and Spending The New York Times reported last week that the American economic recovery came perilously close to falling off a cliff at the end of last year — but that government aid arrived barely in time to prevent a disaster — and possibly paved the way for a dynamic rebound. Personal income surged a remarkable 10% in January, the Commerce Department reported on Friday. Spending increased last month, too, by a healthy 2.4%, largely fueled by a rise in purchases of goods. The report was the latest sign of the economy's slow but steady march forward after a series of setbacks. Yet the data also underscored the extent to which government aid is buoying the economy. The rise in income last month was almost entirely attributable to the $600 government relief checks approved in December and to unemployment insurance payments, the Times said. And while spending ticked up, purchases of services remained depressed as the pandemic continued to weigh heavily on the leisure and hospitality industries even as coronavirus cases fell. “Technically, you could say we're recovering,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “But the patterns in both income and spending point out the fragility of the recovery without aid.” That the economy remains reliant on government aid is all the more resonant as Democrats in Washington work to push through President Biden's $1.9 trillion relief measure, which would provide a round of $1,400 checks that could further power consumer spending. Although the new data indicated that the recovery is still fragile, it provided fresh evidence that it is no longer in danger of moving in reverse, a trend also seen in recent reports on retail sales and orders of durable goods. The encouraging data led Morgan Stanley on Friday to raise its forecast of first-quarter economic growth to 2% (8.1% on an annualized basis) from 1.8%. Before Congress passed the round of aid that produced the January checks, many economists thought GDP might shrink in the first quarter. There is a possible downside to a robust, stimulus-powered recovery as economists increasingly warn that inflation could become a problem. That would imply a change of posture from the Fed and would be seen as bad news for stocks — and recent trading has been turbulent this week as investors react to recent sudden moves in bond yields. But the report on Friday gave no indication that inflation was spinning out of control. Consumer prices were up 1.5% in January from a year earlier, well below the Fed's 2% target. On Thursday, John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said that “fiscal support, combined with highly favorable financial conditions and steady progress on vaccinations, are all reasons to be optimistic the economy will experience a strong recovery this year,” he said. “With our economy and the global economy still far below full strength, I expect underlying inflationary pressures to remain subdued for some time.” The January data from the Commerce Department showed that although income was up 10% over all, wages rose only 0.7%. And spending reflected the pandemic's disruption to consumer behavior as spending on goods rose 5.8%, while spending on services was up only 0.7%. There was also a “cautionary note” on Friday from the University of Michigan's February index of consumer sentiment, which declined from the previous month. The report said economic expectations had diminished particularly among households making less than $75,000. Still, many economists are now predicting a rebound that is stronger than once seemed possible, a view that the Commerce Department report on Friday bolstered. The Commerce Department report showed that households had $3.9 trillion in savings in January, up from $2.3 trillion in December and $1.4 trillion last February, before the pandemic. The jump in personal income in January was the largest since April, when the figure rose 12.4 percent, lifted by nearly $3 trillion in government transfer payments. That was mostly in the form of $1,200 checks that millions of households received from the federal government. That cash stockpile could grow even larger if Congress passes another round of aid, as now seems probable. But as the pandemic ebbs, Americans are likely to start spending again — turning the built-up savings into fuel for the economy. “We just think there's going to be this huge pent-up demand for services that's going to be funded by that excess savings,” Bryson said. Thus, the year ahead could be bumpy, with consumer spending gradually warming up in the spring and summer as the combination of a new round of stimulus, reduced infections and vaccine distribution gets people and their money into greater circulation, said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “We know what is restraining consumer spending,” he said—namely the health crisis and, for some families, the means. “And what the January report reveals is that if both of these factors are alleviated in terms of constraints, then consumers will spend, and then the recovery will be strong.” So, we will see. Many economists feel that there are too many unknowns just now to allow confident outlook analysis, although many can be expected to try. These are trends producers should watch closely as the continuing war on the COVID virus continues, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


DMC Payments Triggered For More Coverage Levels In January The national average margin for January 2021 is at $7.14 per cwt., which USDA said will mean Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) payments are triggered for January. Dairy operations that elected Tier 1 margin coverage levels $9.50, $9.00, $8.50, $8.00, $7.50 per cwt. and Tier 2 margin coverage levels at $8.00, $7.50, will be issued a payment. DMC payments are triggered when the difference between the national all milk price and the national average feed cost falls below the margin trigger selected by producers. Enrollment in DMC has fallen below expectations even as the program has triggered payments for some of the coverage levels at least the last two months.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


US Biofuels Interests Eye UK Market As Country Up Biofuel Use. The United Kingdom will increase the share of ethanol in its motor fuel to 10%, up from a current 5%, with the country saying the move is aimed at reducing the impact of driving in the country. The UK Department of Transport said the change could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 750,000 metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road. U.S. biofuel groups welcomed the move, hoping that it translates into additional demand for U.S. ethanol as the UK biofuel infrastructure needs to be increased to meet the rising demand. The U.S. exported around 600,000 barrels of ethanol to the UK in 2020, down about 55,000 barrels from 2019 levels as COVID restrictions limited travel and gasoline demand in the UK. Data from the UK indicated that overall ethanol consumption was at 4.7 million barrels in 2019. The hoped-for rise in U.S. ethanol exports to the UK would be a welcome demand development, but may not be a sustained market given an expected push to bolster the biofuel infrastructure in the UK.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets As usual, traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sale news that might emerge. There are no official reports on Tuesday's docket. Weather Tuesday will be dry and mild over most primary crop areas. This combination favors snow melt along with improving conditions for transportation and livestock. Rain will focus along the Gulf Coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


Vilsack: China Living Up to Trade Deal Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says China is making good on its promises in the phase one trade deal it signed with the U.S. last year. CNBC says Vilsack points out the agreement allows market conditions to determine how much it has to buy from American farmers. COVID-19 qualifies as a market condition that would legitimately impact how much China has to buy under the agreement. In the first year of the deal, China imported $100 billion of the U.S. goods agreed to in the deal; that’s 58 percent of the $173.1 billion-goal set in 2020. However, the secretary says he’s upbeat on Chinese progress. “I think they still have a few days to be able to meet the phase one, year one goal,” Vilsack says. “Whether they meet the exact amount, I think, is in question because of the pandemic.” The secretary will tackle a lot of challenges in the world of U.S. ag, including the COVID-19-era rise in hunger, as well as a sharp drop in restaurant demand for food products. ********************************************************************************************** USTR Nominee Testifies Before Senate Finance Committee Katherine Tai, President Biden’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, testified at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last week. Politico says she addressed concerns that the Biden Administration “will stand still” on trade policy. Senators in both parties pushed Tai on the administration’s pledge that it wouldn’t negotiate new trade deals until it gets the domestic economic stimulus package it wants from Congress. The committee’s Ranking Member Mike Crapo (CRAH-poh) of Idaho told Tai, “You must make the president understand that trade is a domestic priority.” The USTR nominee says she’ll stay busy on trade policy but didn’t stake out concrete positions on the major questions facing the agency. A potential trade deal with the United Kingdom is one of those questions, as a deal must get signed by July 1 to qualify for fast-track treatment under the trade promotion authority. To meet that deadline, the USTR would need to formally notify Congress by April 1 of its intent to sign a pact. “If I’m confirmed, I’ll need to review the progress and conversations so far during the talks with the U.K.,” she said to the committee members. Tai was also noncommittal about restarting negotiations on a new trade deal in the Asia-Pacific after former President Trump pulled the country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. ********************************************************************************************** Scott and Thompson Agree/Disagree on Climate Change The tone is set on the climate change debate in the House Agriculture Committee, and it took place during the committee’s first hearing. Committee Chair David Scott says changes in weather patterns bring serious risks to production agriculture, forest resources, and the overall economy. He says, “These risks cannot be understated.” He also says the USDA’s Economic Research Service notes that climate change will likely affect risk-management tools, financial markets, and America’s global food security, as well as many other areas. Ranking Member G.T Thompson says agriculture has been on the menu when it comes to climate change, noting that last week’s hearing now puts agriculture at the table. The Hagstrom Report says Thompson wants to be very clear on his position, which is that “The climate is changing, the Earth’s temperature is rising, and I trust the science that global industrial activity has contributed to the issue.” Thompson says we should be reducing global emissions because it’s the right thing to do. “It requires smart science-based policies,” Thompson adds. “But the apocalyptic narrative of the world coming to an end within a decade is not evidence-based and isn’t supported by science.” ********************************************************************************************** Soybean Growers Approve 2021 Resolutions American Soybean Association members completed the organization’s annual resolutions process to set the tone and direction for policy advocating in the months ahead. The organization aims each year to build on sound existing resolutions by adapting where needed and supplementing with new resolutions to address emerging priorities. A couple of priorities that the ASA will be focusing on more often in 2021 is climate and conservation. Kevin Scott is the President of the ASA and a soybean farmer from South Dakota. “Throughout this year’s document, we recognize the role that climate and conservation will play in policy discussions in 2021; from thoughtfully addressing development of public and private ecosystem services markets to promoting precision agriculture technology as a tool to improve environmental stewardship while providing economic returns to growers,” Scott says. The many resolutions they approved include Trade Promotion Authority reauthorization, a sufficiently funded Commodity Credit Corporation account to ensure timely benefits for farmers, and a strong farm safety net and crop insurance program, including expanding support for double-crop soybean coverage. They also want to see the development of voluntary carbon markets that incentivize agricultural conservation and significant increases in rural infrastructure funding. ********************************************************************************************** “Thank You Farmers” Project Donations Reach $3 Million Culver’s created the “Thank You Farmers Project” back in 2013 and has raised a lot of money since then. The donation total recently hit $3 million, and the funds go to support agricultural education. The Thank you Farmers Project is about more than showing appreciation for the hard work of today’s farmers. It’s also about ensuring America has enough food to serve its growing population by supporting agricultural education efforts that encourage smart farming. One way that Culver’s does this is by supporting FFA. “Today’s FFA members are tomorrow’s ag leaders,” says Allison Wedig, Culver’s marketing specialist and a former Wisconsin FFA state president. “Many of these students will go on to dedicate their careers to ensuring a sustainable future food supply, so we want to support them and give them a forum to share their voices and passions.” One of the many ways that Culver’s supports FFA is through the annual FFA Essay Contest that just launched on February 22. As in the past six years of the contest, three winners will receive funds for their FFA chapters, including $7,500 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third. Go to www.culvers.com/essaycontest for more information. The deadline is April 19. *********************************************************************************************** Corn and Wheat Exports Sales Drop to Marketing Year Lows The USDA says export sales of corn and wheat dropped to marketing-year lows last week while soybean sales plunged. Corn sales to overseas buyers dropped to 453,300 metric tons in the seven days that ended on February 18. That’s down 55 percent from the previous week and 85 percent from the previous four-week average. It’s also the lowest point since the 2020-2021 marketing year began last September 1. Peru was the biggest buyer at over 160,000 metric tons, followed by Vietnam and Japan. Unknown countries canceled shipments of just over 300,000 metric tons. Total exports fell 14 percent to 1.19 million metric tons. Wheat sales totaled 167,700 metric tons, down 58 percent week-to-week and 67 percent from the four-week average, the lowest level since the marketing year got started. Soybean sales to offshore buyers plunged to 167,900 metric tons, 63 percent lower than the prior week and 72 percent from the four-week average. The Netherlands was the top buyer at 139,100 metric tons, followed by Japan and Germany.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Minimum Wage Initiative Opposed Bloomberg is reporting this week that a fresh initiative in the U.S. Senate to put a tax penalty on big companies as a way of forcing higher minimum wages is prompting a skeptical reaction among some economists including a top adviser to former President Barack Obama. “This is a really big, complicated, brand new proposal. It is possible that it works,” Jason Furman, who served in Obama's White House and is now a professor of economic policy at Harvard University, said in a tweet. “It is also possible that another tax version works. But I would be extremely nervous about trying out a brand new idea like this with virtually no vetting.” Two Senate committee chairs, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pitched the idea of a tax penalty Thursday night, following a procedural blow to the $15 minimum-wage provision Democrats wanted in President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief bill. As of Friday afternoon, Wyden's staff were still drafting the plan, which would include a 5% payroll-tax penalty for large companies that pay lower wages, and a tax-credit incentive of as much as $10,000 for small businesses that boost wages. The U.S. House passed the relief bill, including the minimum-wage measure, early Saturday. Yet efforts to use the bill as a vehicle have hit a wall in the Senate after the chamber's parliamentarian, a nonpartisan official, ruled the wage hike doesn't qualify for the fast-track budget procedure used by Democrats. Economists already are debating the value of a higher minimum wage, with most seeing some trade-off – depending on the level – between income and spending gains and job losses as employers absorb higher labor costs, Bloomberg said. One disadvantage of targeting big companies is that they employ only a fraction of lower-income workers, and have more flexibility to get around new rules. Wyden and Sanders also did float incentives to boost wages among smaller firms, many of which have been hit hard by the pandemic. “Most minimum wage workers are not in mega corporations,” Arindrajit Dube, a University of Massachusetts economics professor who's studied the minimum wage, said in a tweet Friday. “Also, what safeguards would prevent large companies from outsourcing low wage work to smaller contractors?” Wyden said in his outline that there would be measures “to prevent companies from trying to outsource labor to avoid paying living wages.” Introducing new tax policy is complicated, and would likely lead to lobbying for exceptions and debate about who gets included and who doesn't, said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC. “It just becomes this eternal struggle to get your firm included in the benefits or excluded from the costs,” Stanley said in an interview. Many of the largest employers of low-paid workers in the U.S., including Amazon.com Inc., Target Corp., Walmart Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. have already been raising wages of their employees in recent years under pressure from critics and labor groups. The country's big corporations – who would be subject to the proposed tax penalty – wouldn't see as much of an impact from a federal minimum-wage increase as small businesses, which strongly oppose the proposal. “States and localities have already made significant adjustments to boost minimum pay, said Andrew Husby and Eliza Winger of Bloomberg economics. A third of the U.S. workforce is on track to live in a state with a minimum wage of $15 or higher in 2026. When New York is included, the total is closer to 38%. New York's rate is $12.50, though higher-cost downstate counties already operate with a $15 minimum.” Retail groups have also pushed back on the wage penalty, saying that it would hurt already-suffering businesses. “Threatening businesses with a whopping payroll tax increase – many of whom were shut down for months in 2020, and had their operations restricted by as much as 75% throughout the holiday season – should be a non-starter for those who care about economic recovery,” Austen Jensen, senior vice president of government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the Biden administration didn't yet have a position on the proposals from Wyden and Sanders, noting that they had only just been released. “If you have a policy that will affect tens of millions of workers, businesses and more, then it needs more time/scrutiny/debate than, say, a think-tank white paper,” Furman said. “We can't point to another country that does this. We can't point to a state that does this. I don't know of any think tank proposals that have been discussed and debated (there may be some but not high profile). I don't know of any academic papers that address the issues. So, we will see. Political pressure on the new administration to raise the minimum wage is intensifying, but it appears that significant opposition is now emerging, as well. This is a fight producers should watch closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


Mostly Static Food Price Outlook USDA did not alter its major food price inflation outlook in its forecast issued Thursday from levels in January, still forecasting overall food price inflation for 2021 2% to 3% overall, with food away from home (restaurant) prices also expected to rise 2% to 3%. That would put overall food price inflation for 2021 in line with the 20-year average of 2.4% while the restaurant price rise the past 20 years has been 2.8%. Food at home (grocery store) prices are looked to up be 1% to 2% in 2021, below the 20-year average of 2%, but well below the 2020 pandemic-influenced rise of 3.5% level. Both restaurant and overall food prices rose 3.4% in 2020. Within the categories of food at the grocery store, USDA only adjusted its forecasts for fats and oils, now putting it at 1% to 2%, and sugar and sweets at 1.5% to 2.5%. That marks a sizable jump for fats and oils as USDA in January saw those prices unchanged — a range of down 0.5% to up 0.5%, while sugar and sweets were expected to rise 1% to 2% in last month's forecast. But these mostly static forecasts may not remain that way as USDA cautioned “uncertainty about the effect of the pandemic on food prices remains largely unresolved.” Whether their forecasts remain closer to the 20-year averages in 2021 than the levels seen in 2020 remains to be seen. But they are still elevated from the period leading up to the pandemic where food price increases at the grocery store were less than 1% in 2018 and 2019 and actually declined from the prior year in 2016 and 2017.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


USDA's Vilsack Stays Mum On CCC Use For Climate Programs USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack held his first briefing with reporters after taking the helm at USDA, talking about climate change goals for the Biden administration. But Vilsack stayed silent on the key issue of how he would pursue climate and conservation policy, including a timeline for setting up an ag carbon bank, but he said he would be working with Capitol Hill on those topics. He also did not indicate if he believes he has authority to tap the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for an ag carbon bank. “If there is congressional authority that we need or additional appropriations we need, we ought to be advocating for that. Over the course of the next several months, I'm sure that we will be doing a little bit of all of that,” he said. He will meet with the USDA climate team today and discuss further the efforts that would involve USDA. He did note that China “seems to be living up to its responsibilities” relative to the Phase One commitments, but cautioned that “at any point in time, because of the complex nature of the China-U.S. relationship, things can happen that might affect those purchases.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets I don't know if the market will be in like a lion or a lamb on the first day of March, but traders will likely start by checking the latest weather forecasts and pausing for a possible export sale announcement at 8 a.m. CST. The Institute of Supply Management's U.S. index of manufacturing is due out at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly report of grain inspections at 10 a.m. and the Fats and Oils report from NASS at 2 p.m. Weather A broad swath of the Delta, Mid-South and Southeast will see rain Monday, with some flooding possible. Other crop areas will be dry. Snow in portions of the northern Midwest will diminish during the day. Temperatures will be cold for the season in the northern Midwest and seasonal to above normal elsewhere.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


Vilsack Starts Second Tenure at USDA, Climate Work Begins Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with the media Thursday, following this week's Senate vote to confirm his nomination. Vilsack was sworn in Wednesday evening by Vice President Kamala Harris. He returns to the Department of Agriculture after serving eight years at the same post during the Obama administration. Vilsack spoke as the House Agriculture Committee explored U.S. agriculture's role in climate change solutions. Much of the climate conversation regarding agriculture focuses on establishing a climate bank or market, paying farmers for climate-smart practices. Vilsack says President Joe Biden has a vision of a net-zero emission U.S. agriculture, adding, "I think it has the capacity to fundamentally change U.S. agriculture in a positive way and create new revenue sources." However, he says that work won’t happen in a single administration, but added “the work has to begin.” Vilsack planned to meet with the USDA climate team Friday. Vilsack says USDA’s role will be to provide technical guidance to lawmakers and the administration in crafting climate policies. ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends CFAP Application Deadline The Department of Agriculture Thursday extended the deadline to apply for the latest round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters the sign-up period will be extended, allowing producers more time to apply. The deadline will extend 30 days after USDA completes a review of the program. As part of the Biden administration review of federal programs, USDA suspended the processing and payments under the program. The American Farm Bureau Federation requested the deadline extension in a letter to Vilsack earlier in the week. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall stated, “Recent severe weather and the suspension of CFAP payments led to challenges and confusion surrounding the application process.” Vilsack says USDA is in the process of reviewing the program. Vilsack says, “We want to make sure that as we implement this next level of support that we do so, within the resources provided, do it in an equitable way, and try to respond to some of the legitimate concerns." ************************************************************************************ CoBank: Weak Dollar Benefits Commodities The value of the U.S. dollar weakened substantially since March 2020 and is expected to experience modest deflation in 2021, making U.S. ag products more competitive globally. However, CoBank reports not all commodities are affected equally given the diversity in global export competition and foreign exchange rates. Fundamental factors like tariffs and weather conditions in key agricultural producing regions often dominate market dynamics despite currency impacts. A CoBank researcher says, “some agricultural commodities like grains, oilseeds, and cotton will face a currency headwind.” A CoBank index tracking commodities reveals that U.S. animal protein exports are expected to benefit from a modest tailwind fueled by a weaker U.S. dollar in 2021. The U.S. trade-weighted grain and oilseed index strengthened by 14 percent in 2020 and is expected to gain another four to five percent in 2021. Dairy products are expected to receive potential support from global factors. Finally, U.S. cotton faces headwinds from weaker foreign currency values in 2021, according to CoBank. ************************************************************************************ Coalition Urges Lawmakers to Protect Crop Insurance The Crop Insurance Coalition urges lawmakers to protect crop insurance from budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal year 2022 budget process. The coalition of 58 partners recently sent a letter to key lawmakers detailing the request. Letters were also sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The coalition says farmers need access to a strong and secure federal crop insurance program. The letters say the last several years have brought an onslaught of uncertainty for America's farmers and ranchers - from weather extremes to the disruptions of international markets to COVID-19 and its unique challenges. Given the challenges rural America faces and the nature of crop insurance, the coalition says cuts to the program should be avoided. Referring to ad hoc programs supporting farmers over the last three years, the letter states, "it would only serve to undercut these efforts to propose harmful changes to a crop insurance program." ************************************************************************************ Western U.S. Stress by Drought The Western half of the United States is reported in various stages of drought in the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday. Much of the Southwestern U.S. is in a classified extreme or exceptional drought, with the worst states being Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. The Drought Monitor reports frequent Pacific storms battered the Northwest and tracked southeastward across the Northern and Central Rockies, dropping plentiful moisture on Washington, Oregon, northern California, Idaho, and western Montana. However, the moisture missed most of the Southwest. In contrast, much of the Eastern half of the country is not experiencing drought conditions, with a few small pockets of abnormally dry conditions. Storms also dropped widespread precipitation on much of the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, and coastal New England, while most of the Midwest saw light frozen precipitation in the last week. Little or no precipitation fell on south Texas and northeastern Texas into southeastern Oklahoma, expanding drought severity in the region. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $42 Million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced a $42.3 million investment to help rural residents access health care and educational opportunities. USDA says rural areas are seeing higher infection and death rates related to COVID-19 due to several factors, including a much higher percentage of underlying conditions, difficulty accessing medical care, and lack of health insurance. A recent report by the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis found infection and death rates in rural America due to COVID-19 are 13.4 percent higher than in urban areas. USDA Economic Research Service data also confirms the data. The $42.3 million includes $24 million provided through the CARES Act and will reach five million rural residents. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “With health care and education increasingly moving to online platforms, the time is now to make historic investments in rural America to improve quality of life for decades to come.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Powell Suggests Congress Explore Child Care Options The New York Times reported this week that Fed Chair Jerome Powell is sufficiently concerned about the decline in female participation in the labor force that he suggested on Wednesday that improved child care support might help pull more women into the labor market. The Fed chief studiously avoided commenting on most specific government policy proposals during three hours of wide-ranging testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. But he did acknowledge that enabling better options for affordable child-care is an “area worth looking at” for Congress. “Our peers, our competitors, advanced economy democracies, have a more built-up function for child care and they wind up having substantially higher labor force participation for women,” Powell said. “We used to lead the world in female labor force participation, a quarter-century ago, and we no longer do. It may just be that those policies have put us behind.” Powell limited his supportive comments but stressed the near-term need to help workers who have been displaced from their jobs during the pandemic. He made it clear that the labor market remains “far from healed, that the pandemic's economic fallout has disproportionately hurt women and minorities and that both Congress and the central bank have a role to play in supporting vulnerable families until the economy has recovered more fully.” Women's labor force participation had climbed for decades in the U.S. before stalling out — and then actually dropping slightly — starting in the 1990s. Powell commented that adult U.S. women hold jobs or look for them at lower rates than women in some other major advanced economies, such as Canada or Germany. Powell noted that the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco had examined the question of why the share of Canadians who work or look for jobs had climbed even as the U.S. rate had fallen. The report concluded that most of the gap came from declining participation by women. “And they pointed to caregiving policy differences as a likely culprit,” he said. “Parental leave policies in Canada provide strong incentives to remain attached to the labor force following the arrival of a new child,” the paper, written by the San Francisco Fed president, Mary Daly, and co-authors, pointed out. The fact that child care responsibilities fall heavily on women in the United States has come under a brighter spotlight during the pandemic which has shuttered schools and disproportionately left women bearing added child care responsibilities. While women lost jobs less dramatically than men during the 2009 recession, their employment rate is down by about as much as men's is now — so, in measures of the share of people who are either working or looking, women have lost more ground. Female participation dropped 2.1 percentage points to 55.7% in January compared with February 2020, whereas men's participation has dropped 1.7 points to 67.5%. Throughout his tenure as Fed chair, Powell has been keenly focused on the job market and has repeatedly argued that both monetary and fiscal policymakers should support displaced workers so that they can make their way back into jobs when the economy reopens. While the Fed can help the economy and the job market improve broadly, helping individual groups in a targeted way is generally left to elected officials. Still, the Fed says it intends to help foster conditions for strong economic growth overall which pulls people into the labor market and helps set the stage for higher wages. Officials are trying to do that by keeping interest rates low and buying large quantities of government-backed bonds, policies that can fuel both lending and spending. Powell has been pledging for months that the Fed would use its policies to help the economy get through the pandemic but political concerns that big government spending could fuel economic overheating are now increasing. Still, Fed officials argue that weak price gains, not runaway ones, are the modern problem. Powell reiterated that message Wednesday and commented that the Fed is still “trying to bolster prices. We believe we can do it, we believe we will do it. It may take more than three years,” he said. The Fed tweaked its approach to monetary policy in 2020, saying that it would aim for periods of slightly higher inflation and that it would no longer seek to cool off the economy just because the unemployment rate was falling — an approach Fed governor Lael Brainard explained to a Harvard economics course Wednesday morning. The Fed was relatively patient in lifting interest rates after the 2007 to 2009 recession — leaving them near zero until 2015 and then raising them slowly, as unemployment dropped to 50-year lows. Workers who had been counted out began to re-enter the labor market and employers started to go to greater lengths to recruit and train talent. “At very low levels of unemployment” the United States “saw benefits going to those at the lower end of the spectrum—which means disproportionately African Americans, other minorities, and women,” Powell said. “With our tools, what we can do, is try to get us back to that place.” So, we will see. Clearly, Powell and other Fed officials are convinced of the strength of their policy positions and are determined to continue to work to strengthen investment. This is a tense moment for advocates of highly interventionist policies in both monetary and fiscal arenas, fights that producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


Tai Pledges Work On USMCA Enforcement, Addressing China As USTR The Senate Finance Committee heard from Katherine Tai, President Joe Biden's choice to be U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and she offered some insight into focus should she be confirmed to that role. Tai pledged her first focus will be on helping the U.S. recover from the pandemic and the “economic crisis.” USTR's role in that is to “build out strong supply chains that will get our economy back on track.” The longer-term focus will be on making sure that trade benefits all U.S. citizens, not just consumers. “I will make it a priority to implement and enforce the renewed terms of our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico. Too often in the past, Congress and the administration came together to finalize and pass a trade agreement. But then other urgent matters arose and we all moved on.” She noted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is an opportunity to “break that trend” as it is an “important step in reforming our approach to trade.” She did not specify issues with the WTO but said that she would “prioritize rebuilding our international alliances and partnerships.” Tai also focused on China, labeling them “simultaneously a rival, a trade partner, and an outsized player whose cooperation we'll also need to address certain global challenges.” Having previously been the chief enforcer at USTR on China's unfair trade practices, Tai said there must be a “strategic and coherent plan for holding China accountable to its promises and effectively competing with its model of state-directed economics” and backed Biden's call to build a “a united front of U.S. allies” when dealing with China. “We must remember how to walk, chew gum and play chess at the same time.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


USDA Extends Deadline For CFAP Applications The application deadline for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program--Additional Assistance (CFAP-AA) will be extended beyond the current deadline of February 26. USDA took the action after a request by the American Farm Bureau Federation that the deadline be extended due to the regulatory review that suspended CFAP-AA payments. USDA spokesman Matt Herrick said in an email to some news outlets that the CFAP-AA review is “ongoing, and we anticipate a decision in the weeks ahead.” Herrick confirmed the deadline and noted the agency continues to accept applications “so that, once a determination is made on the direction, we are ready to act.” He said there would be at least another 30 days for producers to signup after any decision is announced, a decision that matches the request by AFBF. “What we're doing now is listening and gathering feedback so that we get help to as many producers as possible without focusing on one group or geography at the expense of another,” Herrick said. There is no timeline yet for any resumption of the CFAP-AA process even though USDA had indicated when it suspended the effort in late January that the agency would be addressing the issue “in coming days.” Now a timeframe of in the “weeks” ahead is being mentioned by USDA.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday at 7:30 a.m. CST, the U.S. Commerce department will release reports on U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending in January, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. USDA's annual report of cold storage is set for 2 p.m. CST. Traders will remain attentive to the latest weather forecasts and to any news of export sales that might emerge. Weather Moderate to locally heavy rain is in store for the Delta and Mid-South Friday. We'll also see widespread snow in the Northwest U.S. crop areas. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Winter wheat areas of the Plains have no meaningful moisture in the forecast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


AFBF: Farmers Need More Time to Apply for CFAP The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking the Department of Agriculture to extend the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. In January, an additional $13 billion in assistance was made available to help farmers and ranchers suffering losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current deadline is this Friday, February 26, but recent severe weather and the suspension of CFAP payments led to challenges and confusion surrounding the application process. In a letter sent today to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said the recent regulatory freeze on pending executive actions, though common, "has created confusion for farmers and ranchers with respect to eligibility and the application process." The letter also notes severe weather, which impacted travel conditions and created broadband disruptions, may have also impacted farmers' ability to complete the application process. AFBF asks USDA to extend the deadline to apply for assistance by at least 30 days after the regulatory review is completed. ************************************************************************************ Pilgrims Pride Pleads Guilty to Price Fixing Pilgrim's Pride Corporation this week pleaded guilty to price-fixing allegations. The Department of Justice announced the plea, and a sentence to pay approximately $107 million in criminal fines. According to the plea agreement entered in the U.S. District Court in Denver, from as early as 2012 and continuing at least into 2017, Pilgrim's participated in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition for sales of broiler chicken products in the U.S. that affected at least $361 million in Pilgrim's sales of broiler chicken products. Pilgrim's is the first company to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products. Broiler chickens are chickens raised for human consumption and sold to grocers and restaurants. Ten executives and employees at major broiler chicken producers have also previously been charged. The case results from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price-fixing, bid-rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry. ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Introduce emergency Feed Bill Legislation introduced this week in the Senate would provide farmers and ranchers with additional flexibility to alleviate feed shortages in years with widespread excessive moisture, flooding or drought. The Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters with Cover Crops Act would create an emergency waiver authority for the Secretary of Agriculture to allow for haying, grazing or chopping of a cover crop on prevented plant acres before November 1, in the event of a feed shortage due to extreme weather. Senators Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, and John Hoeven, A North Dakota Republican, introduced the legislation. The bill states that under the waiver, producers would not see a reduction of their crop insurance indemnity. The legislation also directs the Agriculture Secretary to establish regional haying and grazing dates for each crop year. The current date, November 1, is set on a nationwide basis and disadvantages producers in the upper Midwest. Representatives Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican, and Angie Craig, a Minnesota Democrat, introduced companion legislation in the House. ************************************************************************************ Legislative Fix Introduced to Make More Farmers Eligible for PPP New bipartisan legislation would make more farmers and ranchers eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat, and Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican, recently introduced the Paycheck Protection Clarification for Producers Act. The legislation would allow farmers and ranchers organized as partnerships or limited liability companies access to the program. The lawmakers say these farmers have been unable to apply for loans under the new calculation because of the Small business Administration's interpretation of eligibility for partnerships or limited liability companies. Representative Fortenberry says Nebraska leads the U.S. in per capita PPP loans approved. However, adds, "Due to quirks in the law, some farmers hard hit by COVID-19 were left out.” Representative Kind states, “No farmer should be shut out of this crucial program and denied a financial lifeline because of an interpretation error.” Kind previously led legislation that allowed farmers more access to the PPP, which was included in the latest COVID-19 relief package. ************************************************************************************ Missouri Lawmakers Seek to block Multi-state Transmission Line Missouri lawmakers are again seeking to block a multi-state high voltage transmission line for wind energy. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports a new measure in the Missouri legislature would require Invenergy, the Grain Belt Express future transmission line owner, to receive approval from individual counties. The move is one of many to block the project, as lawmakers seek to stop a private company from using eminent domain to take land for the project. The Grain Belt Express would take wind energy from Kansas through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The Missouri Supreme Court earlier ruled the project be granted public utility status because the $2.3 billion project is in the public’s interest. The transmission line in Missouri is expected to cross the property of 570 landowners, stretching more than 200 miles across the northern sector of the state. Invenergy says the project will play a major role in economic recovery in the Midwest by supporting jobs, adding broadband infrastructure, community investment and energy savings. ************************************************************************************ Mentorship to help Underserved Farmers with Conservation A new mentorship program is linking historically underserved farmers and ranchers with award-winning conservationists. Sand County Foundation’s Vice President of Agricultural Research, Dr. Heidi Peterson, says, “Now historically underserved farmers and ranchers have access to a reliable network of conservation mentors.” Since 2003, the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award has recognized nearly 150 farmers, ranchers and forestland owners nationwide for their efforts to improve soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat. The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded Sand County Foundation a Conservation Collaboration Grant to support this opportunity to empower award recipients as mentors. Now, the Sand County Foundation is seeking applicants for the program. Sand County Foundation's network of Leopold Conservation Award-winning farmers will serve as program mentors. Participants will have access to the network and receive technical and mentorship support on navigating USDA conservation programs and practices. Learn more and sign up for this free mentorship opportunity at www.sandcountyfoundation.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Farm Size Battleground Revisited One of the perpetual battles in Washington concerns the extent to which government programs focus on larger farms. The issue crosses party lines and Congress has written many complex limits on benefits for farms of various sizes for many years. This week, it seems that battle is rejoined. A new report by an ag advocacy organization says that the Trump administration aimed its “bailouts” increasingly to the nation's biggest farms. The report was written by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental advocacy group that highlights issues of equity, which it is watching closely as the Biden administration designs potential new climate-related and other financial incentives for farmers. The report said that only 1% of farm aid recipients collected 23% of subsidy payments in 2019, up from 17% in 2016 as former President Donald Trump's trade bailout swelled payments. Their portion crept up to 24% in the first half of 2020, the most recent period covered in the data, as farm aid hit a record level with coronavirus relief payments, the EWG said. That is the largest share of federal farm subsidies going to the top 1% – the 7,873 subsidy recipients who got the highest payments – since 2007, according to the analysis. The average payment for that group was $497,907. The findings followed earlier criticism from Democrats concerning inequities of Trump administration farm bailouts. In addition, Bloomberg said that a number of academic studies concluded that trade aid payments were greater than farmers' actual losses from the tariff conflict with China. A Government Accountability Office report issued in September found the top 25 recipients of trade aid in 2019 received an average of $1.5 million per farm. “This certainly adds to the questions about the way that program was designed,” said Jonathan Coppess, a University of Illinois professor who ran the federal agency that administers farm subsidies during the Obama administration, but wasn't involved in the advocacy group's analysis. “Why all of a sudden did you see this big a shift?” American farmers in 2020 had their most profitable year since 2013, largely because of federal aid which accounted for 38% of their net income, USDA reported earlier this month. Crop prices also rose late in the year as China stepped up agricultural imports. “The largest and wealthiest farms should not be getting most of the money, because they have large assets to fall back on in times of trouble,” said Anne Schechinger, a senior analyst with the group. “We're at a time when so many Americans have lost their jobs, are struggling to put food on the table or keep their businesses open, it makes you wonder why so much money is going to farmers, especially the largest, wealthiest farmers.” She said the shift in subsidy payments toward larger farms in 2019 likely was driven by Trump's adoption of a more generous formula for computing trade losses that year and a decision to double the maximum trade aid benefit per person. Large operators sometimes increase their subsidy payments by including relatives, even those who live in distant cities, as actively engaged in management of the farm, multiplying the benefits they are allowed, EWG said. Trump administration officials defended the program against criticism, arguing that they tend to be more productive and so suffer larger losses from trade-related commodity price drops. Schechinger said the Environmental Working Group, which advocates re-directing farm subsidies to smaller operators and conservation programs, released the findings in part to focus attention on inequities in aid distribution as the Biden administration considers financial incentives to encourage farmers to adopt climate-friendly practices. Administration officials have floated ideas including a carbon bank to finance payments to farmers who take steps to sequester additional carbon in soil and other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Schechinger said her organization wants the USDA to avoid advantaging larger operations over smaller ones when it makes proposals. The Environmental Working Group regularly obtains data on federal farm subsidy payments from USDA through the Freedom of Information Act. Its analysis covered total farm subsidy payments, which includes both one-time programs under President Trump and continuing farm programs authorized by Congress. The issue of how farm benefits are allocated among farms of varying sizes is thorny and has long persisted. Many farm operations are highly capitalized now into larger units that are very efficient--and account for the vast bulk of U.S. food and fiber production, even although their numbers are relatively small. As a result, programs intended to affect production or other key aspects of the sector often prominently include larger units – a highly controversial outcome especially for those who focus closely on social aspects of the sector. So, we will see. Recent government supports have been important to the sector and almost certainly will continue to be highly controversial, especially as they are deeply involved in issues of trade policy, along with conservation, supplemental nutrition and income support, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


Vilsack Wins Senate Approval To Again Head USDA Tom Vilsack was sworn in Wednesday evening to lead USDA under the Biden administration, a post he held for eight years in the Obama administration. The Senate approved the nomination 92-7 on Tuesday, with six Republicans voting against his nomination and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats and is the first lawmaker from that side of the aisle to vote against a Biden administration nominee. In explaining his vote, Sanders said he didn't have a major issue with Vilsack but thought that Biden “could have done better” with his choice of someone to lead USDA. Republican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, opposed returning Vilsack to head USDA. Now the attention will quickly shift to lower-level appointments at USDA that require Senate confirmation.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


Former USTR Official Touts Changes By China That Were Part Of Phase One Agreement Former top U.S. ag trade negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Gregg Doud, Tuesday told a Farm Foundation forum that market access in the agreement was critical. He stressed implementation of nearly all the 57 market access commitments, placing emphasis on the approval of more U.S. facilities to export to China. “Before we started [Phase 1] negotiations, we had about 1,500 facilities in the U.S. eligible to export agricultural products to China,” Doud said. “So that would have been beef processing facilities, dairy facilities, pet food facilities… 1,500 of those. Today, we now have well over 4,000 facilities in the U.S. eligible to export their products to China.” That gives the U.S. access to the Chinese market “we never had before, and this is a major change,” Doud said. “The improvements in market access that we now have in place are going to treat us well here going forward.” As for the purchase commitments, Doud simply said it comes down to U.S. competitiveness, a point focused on by Chinese negotiators. He also noted the two sides spent a considerable amount of time talking about ethanol, with trade in the corn-based fuel something Doud said he believed China was truly interested in. “My sense is that China really is trying to think through this whole notion of infrastructure for the use of ethanol,” Doud said. “You know, it took us a long time to build that infrastructure in the United States.” As for overall market conditions moving ahead, Doud predicted continued volatility, notable with China involved in the market. He said there is no way to say with certainty that in two or three years whether China would be importing 30 million metric tons of corn or just 5 million ton. The shift by China away from feeding swill to hogs is a key that Doud has focused on in his comments on China before, and said that is “maybe one of the biggest things that ever happened in the history of world agriculture.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, U.S. fourth-quarter GDP, January durable goods orders and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all set for release at 7:30 a.m. CST. An index of U.S. pending home sales is due out at 9 a.m., followed by U.S. natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Traders will keep examining the latest weather forecasts and watch for any new export sales that may emerge. Weather Dry conditions will remain in effect across most primary crop areas Thursday. Precipitation will be confined to snow in portions of the far western Plains and Northwest and rain along the Texas coast. Temperatures will be seasonal north and central and seasonal to below normal south.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 24, 2021 |


Senate Confirms Vilsack as Ag Secretary The Senate Tuesday overwhelming approved the nomination of Tom Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary. The Senate voted 92 to seven to approve the nomination via a roll call vote, sending Vilsack back to the Department of Agriculture's top position. Vilsack returns to the agency after serving as Agriculture Secretary during the Obama administration. The Senate allowed for 20 minutes of debate, but opted for short statements from Senate Agriculture Committee leadership before calling for the vote. Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, says, “After an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, Secretary Vilsack can now get to work.” Noting Vilsack is “uniquely qualified” to head up the USDA, having served there previously, National Association of Wheat Growers CEO Chandley Goule stated Vilsack "has an exceptional understanding of agricultural and rural issues." American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, "His strong track record of leadership and previous experience at USDA will serve rural America well.” ************************************************************************************ Organic Trade Association Hosts Virtual DC Fly-in Organic agriculture representatives met with lawmakers Tuesday through a virtual fly-in. The Organic Trade Association hosted the event, continuing Wednesday, to brief the new administration on the challenges the organic sector faces. The issues from more than 20 organic producers from a dozen states are expansive and including ensuring continuous improvement and accountability in organic standards. Industry advocates also expressed the need for increasing funding for organic research, providing organic farmers, businesses and workers with adequate support and protection to help deal with COVID-19 and restoring full funding to help organic farmers cover their certification fees. The industry also seeks investment in federal programs to support farmers in successfully transitioning to, and staying in, organic production. Organic Trade Association Vice President of Government Affairs Megan DeBates says, “There are plenty of spaces now where our ‘asks’ can come, in the next farm bill, climate change policy, COVID recovery, so this is a great time to be presenting the organic case.” ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Embrace New EPA Position on SREs Farm and biofuel groups welcome the recent Environmental Protection Agency announcement supporting the Tenth Circuit Court’s January 2020 decision regarding small refinery waivers. EPA states that it “agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, consistent with that Congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word ‘extension’ refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.” The four petitioners in the case—the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union, welcomed the announcement in a statement. The groups say, “This announcement marks a major step forward by the Biden administration to restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard.” Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request from two refiners to review the Tenth Circuit case, even though EPA did not ask the high court to examine the ruling. Arguments before the Supreme Court are expected in the spring. ************************************************************************************ Ag Energy Coalition Releases 2021 Policy Recommendations The Agriculture Energy Coalition recently announced its 2021 policy recommendations. Those priorities include providing the Department of Agriculture Rural Energy for American program at least $2.5 billion over ten years, including a financial infusion upfront and Increase to 90 percent REAP Loan Guarantee for any loan amount under $1 million. They also seek to extend clean energy tax credits, provide USDA with additional rural development funding and authorize and modernize the Biorefinery Assistance, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Program. The recommendations also include modernizing the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, increase funding for the BioPreferred program, and make sustainable aviation fuels a priority for USDA. The coalition says USDA Should prioritize the role of biomass in forest management and wildfire risk reduction. Finally, the group asks USDA to consider using the Commodity Credit Corporation to support low carbon renewable energy innovation. The Agriculture Energy Coalition represents a diverse set of interests in agriculture and renewable energy, such as farmers, advanced biofuel and bio-based manufacturers, clean-tech, rural lenders, and environmental NGOs. ************************************************************************************ PLC to Hold Legislative Conference Virtually Next Month The Public Lands Council Tuesday announced their 2021 Legislative Conference is being held virtually March 23-25, 2021. PLC volunteer leaders, staff, and affiliates will host legislative strategy sessions and workshops on how to successfully advocate the livestock industry in our nation's capital. Attendees will hear from Members of Congress, policy experts, scientists, and other industry professionals who are dedicated to Western lands, waters, and perspectives. This also gives public lands ranchers the opportunity to catch up, after a busy start to the year. PLC President Niels Hansen says, “Even though we are meeting virtually this year, all of these things are still a focus of our Legislative Conference.” Panel discussions will focus on how grazing facilitates opportunities for other multiple uses, how permittees help protect open spaces from conversion, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and promote biodiversity. Registration for the event is free and is available on the Public Lands Council website, publiclandscouncil.org. ************************************************************************************ Still Time to Be Counted in the 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey Farmers and ranchers still have time to respond to their 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey. The Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service will continue to accept responses through April to ensure an accurate picture of U.S. local and regional food systems. The 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey is part of the Census of Agriculture program and required by federal law. These federal laws require producers to respond and USDA to keep identities and answers confidential. Over the next several weeks, NASS will follow-up with additional mailings and phone calls to farmers and ranchers who have not yet responded. Producers are encouraged to complete their questionnaire online at www.agcounts.usda.gov, by mail, or phone as soon as possible. All information collected will be used for statistical purposes only and published on the NASS website in aggregate form this November. To learn more about NASS and the Local Foods Marketing Practices Survey, visit www.nass.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 24, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Ongoing concerns of too much rain in central Brazil and not enough in Argentina keep traders checking the latest weather forecasts Wednesday. At 9 a.m. CST, U.S. new home sales for January will be released, followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of energy inventories at 9:30 a.m. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell speaks to the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday morning and may offer more clues about where monetary policy is headed. Weather Wednesday will be dry across most primary crop areas. A few snow showers will cross the northern tier. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal, allowing for more snow melt and recovery from the harsh mid-February cold wave.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


Biden EPA Supports 10th Circuit Court’s Decision on SREs The Biden Administration handed a major victory to the corn ethanol industry. The EPA says it agrees with last year’s ruling by the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected the Trump EPA’s retroactive waivers to oil refiners from the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Biden EPA says the Tenth Circuit ruling “better reflects” the law and Congress’s intent in establishing the RFS. Ethanol groups that filed suit against the Trump EPA hailed the EPA’s reversal under the new administration, which did not file a brief with the Supreme Court by Monday’s deadline, backing the earlier EPA’s position. Small refiners appealed the Tenth Circuit ruling, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, though it’s unclear what impact the latest development might have on the case going forward. Renewable Fuels Association’s CEO Geoff Cooper issued a statement, calling the announcement “a giant step forward” to restore the integrity to the RFS. The RFA and Growth Energy both agreed with EPA’s finding that the small refinery exemption is a temporary measure intended for true economic harm from compliance. The lower court had agreed that only previously existing exemptions could be extended. The RFA estimates that more than four billion gallons of ethanol demand were lost to dozens of Trump EPA RFS waivers. ********************************************************************************************** Trade Policy will be a Big Topic on Thursday Politico says trade policy will move front-and-center this week as the Senate Finance Committee considers Biden’s nominations for the U.S. Trade Representative and the number two Treasury official. Wally Adeyemo (Ah-dah-YAY-moh) is the nominee for Deputy Treasury Secretary, and Katherine Tai is the USTR nominee. How the Biden Administration will handle China in the wake of a trade war will be a key issue for both nominees. As the nation’s top trade negotiator, Tai would be responsible for reviewing the tariffs that Donald Trump put into effect on China and other nations. She would also be responsible for the Phase One Trade Deal that China has yet to live up to. Adeyemo will help lead the administration’s review of sanctions on Chinese leaders and firms that Trump put in place because of Beijing’s human rights abuses. Both nominees will likely take a tough rhetorical stance on China’s trade practices and abuses without making concrete promises that would limit future policy options. That will fall in with Biden’s promise to review Trump’s tariffs on China and other nations before taking further action. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Forecasting Higher Production in 2021 The USDA sees more corn and soybean production ahead this year. A DTN report says the USDA’s initial Grains and Oilseeds Outlook released last week includes a rise in both planted acres and the yield forecast. The agency says corn production will be 15.2 billion bushels for the 2021-2022 crop, while soybean production is forecast at 4.5 billion bushels. Higher demand is in the forecast for both crops, which will keep the year’s ending stocks lower, especially in soybeans. USDA released the Grains and Oilseeds Outlook at its Agricultural Outlook Forum. USDA says farmers will plant 92 million acres of corn. The yield projection is 179.5 bushels per acre, which will make the yield total of 15.2 billion bushels. The average corn price will drop by ten cents to $4.20 a bushel. USDA says farmers will plant 90 million acres of soybeans, up 6.9 million from last year. The soybean projection of 4.5 billion bushels is nine percent higher than the previous marketing year. Ending stocks are projecting to be 145 million bushels. The season-average farm price will be $11.25 a bushel. The wheat production forecast for 2021-2022 is 1.827 billion bushels, almost unchanged from the previous year. Total acreage will be 45 million acres, with a national average yield of 49.1 bushels per acre and a higher farm-gate price of $5.50 per bushel. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Climate Alliance Expands and Makes Policy Recommendations The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance announced its membership is expanding as it puts together new policy working groups. Last year, the Alliance made more than 40 recommendations on how agriculture can help mitigate climate change and the new groups will focus on developing a set of more-specific policy proposals. The eight founding member organizations of the Alliance recently welcomed 14 new groups to the Steering Committee. They include the American Seed Trade Association, American Sugar Alliance, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and many more. Congress and the Biden Administration have expressed high levels of interest in the previously released FACA recommendations and requested additional guidance on achieving the goals laid out in the report released last November. The groups are working on producing more detailed recommendations on the carbon bank concept, tax credits, and other incentives, as well as climate research. “We are encouraged that leaders in both the House and Senate are requesting more detailed guidance to achieve FACA’s climate goals and recommendations,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We also welcome the 34 new members of FACA who represent farmers, agribusinesses, state governments, and environmental advocates.” ********************************************************************************************** United Fresh Releases 2020 Fourth Quarter Report Fresh produce continues its steady growth at retail, with increased sales for fruits and vegetables during the fourth quarter of 2020. That’s according to a new report on United Fresh, detailing the fourth quarter of last year and the 2020 year-end report. Among the fourth quarter highlights, both fruits and vegetables continued to grow as sales surged across categories driven by consumers making more shopping trips and spending more during those trips. Total fruit sales generated $7.3 billion in the last quarter of 2020, representing 7.7 percent growth over the previous year. Vegetable dollar sales grew 14 percent during the quarter, reaching $8.8 billion. Some of the key numbers from the Year-End report show produce departments generating $7.1 billion in 2020, accounting for 33 percent of total fresh sales, second only to the meat department. Total fruit sales in the U.S. reached $33.7 billion and were 14.4 percent higher than the previous year. Apples, grapes, and bananas ranked as the top three categories in sales. Vegetable sales reached a new high of $35.8 billion and were 14 percent higher than in 2019. Pre-packed salads, tomatoes, and potatoes were the top three categories in sales. *********************************************************************************************** Dry Weather Concerns in South America Continue The corn and soybean harvest in South America continues to accelerate, and as the planting window for the second-corn crop opens, temperature and precipitation patterns become more important. Spotty showers in parts of Brazil are slowing down harvest and delaying the second-corn crop planting efforts. Drier weather in southern Brazil and Argentina has been more favorable for harvest. Weather Trends 360 says the prospect for dry weather will continue into March, which isn’t optimistic for the immature crops and the second-corn crop plants. In central and western Brazil, spotty showers are causing harvest delays as producers dodge hit-or-miss showers in their fields. Late planting of the second-corn crop means a risk of the plants entering the critical pollination period as the rainy season in Brazil ends, which puts the yield at risk. Overall, the southern third of Brazil will be stuck in a dry trend through next month. Dry and hot conditions will cause soil moisture to be at a deficit across much of the region, especially in Argentina.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Growing Snarl in Global Shipping Bloomberg is reporting this week that an “ongoing surge” in the cost of shipping goods around the world is prompting manufacturers and their customers to search for new arrangements of many kinds. The report says that exporters, importers and their agents are considering buying their own shipping containers and chartering vessels to avoid the sky-high costs and delays of existing services. Most of the 25 million containers in global use are owned or leased by about a dozen ocean carriers including Copenhagen-based AP Moller-Maersk A/S and China's Cosco Shipping Holdings Co. The steel boxes are still scarce on routes from China, Bloomberg says, and reports that exporters in Asia are complaining that rates to move freight to Europe or the U.S. jumped fivefold in the past year. One large maker of toys, such as Sea-Monkeys, says some buyers are deferring shipments until prices cool down. If it persists, the crunch threatens to dim hopes of a smooth recovery from the world economy's pandemic slump, Bloomberg asserts. While a boom in demand for work-from-home technology and medical equipment has fueled a sharp rebound in trade, pressures on the supply side are straining inventories and weighing on balance sheets. “We still have a backlog that's the highest we've had in our history,” Clarence Smith, chairman of 135-year-old Haverty Furniture Cos. of Atlanta, said on a conference call last week. “We're paying a premium to get the product to make sure we can serve our customers” and “we are increasing prices.” A 2016 paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City said “a 15% increase in shipping costs leads to a 0.10 percentage point increase in core inflation after one year.” In the U.S., imported goods account for about 12% of gross domestic product and most arrive by sea. Because U.S. import price indexes don't include information about cargo rates, “shipping cost pressures act as an additional, but often overlooked,” channel for price pressure the Fed paper said. Germany's Schwarz Group – one of the world's biggest supermarket operators – recently considered hiring whole ships to transport goods, according to Hong Kong-based executive Bjoern Lindner. “All of my peers in the industry are scrambling for capacity” and “we have to be creative,” he said. Brian Sondey, chief executive of container leasing firm Triton International Ltd. of Hamilton, Bermuda, said some shippers of cargo are looking to buy their own boxes and “finding that somehow it's a net lower price.” “We've seen some interest in people like the Amazons of the world to start maybe owning some of their own containers because they get charged by the shipping lines when they hold on to containers longer than they are supposed to,” Sondey said on a conference call last week. In the meantime, the container carriers are “pulling out all stops” to meet the sustained high demand, said John Butler, CEO of the World Shipping Council, a group representing the liner industry. “All vessels are sailing, all available container equipment is being used, carriers are setting up new inland depots to speed up trucking turn-time operations and doing their best to keep customers informed in an extremely unpredictable situation,” he said. Some of supply pressure may ease in coming months, given container throughput at Shanghai Port increased by more than 20% during the Lunar New Year holiday compared with a year ago, and throughput at Ningbo Zhoushan Port rose about 29%, Xinhua reported, citing data from from the China Ports & Harbours Association. Still, the longer shipping costs remain elevated, the more the question lingers of whether they'll start to show up in the price of consumer goods. Toymaker Dave Cave, who runs Hong Kong-based Dragon-I Toys – one of the world's biggest manufacturers of toy dinosaurs and whose products include aquatic pets called Sea-Monkeys and Chatimal the Talking Hamster – said it's not worth shipping some toys given the tight margins already in the industry. He warns that unless conditions improve, retailers may raise their prices. “If nothing changes between now and the end of May, everyone who is shipping will land products at a much higher price than the actual products already in the store,” he said in an interview. Some of Cave's clients are deferring shipments until April on hopes that conditions improve. “Never, ever, ever has a container price ever been more than 20% or 30% up or down, never. To be 500% up, this is something new to everybody.” At this stage, though, many economists remain sanguine about the inflation threat and don't expect shipping costs to materially dent shopping baskets in the U.S. and Europe. “Ultimately, whether such costs can be passed on to consumers depends on the strength of consumer demand, which is more related to fiscal and monetary policy in the U.S. and Europe,” said Helen Qiao, chief Greater China economist at Bank of America. So, we will see. Rebuilding links between participants in the global trading system likely will be subject to many types of adjustments – trends producers should watch closely as the enormous global system readjusts, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


USDA Changes Definition of 'Agricultural Products' in Trade Data USDA will shift its definition of “agricultural products” in terms of U.S. export data in the January 2021 trade data to be released March 5. The change will adopt the WTO definition of “agricultural products” to include ethanol, distilled spirits, and tobacco products. Those products are not currently considered ag products under USDA's current definition. The change will put the USDA numbers on agricultural products in line with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service is updating its historical datasets for the March 5 change and said it would “make data available under both definitions in its Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) database.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


EPA Now Supports 10th Circuit Court Small Refinery Exemption Decision EPA on Monday announced they have taken a new position on small refinery exemptions (SREs), saying that after “careful consideration” that they support the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the case of Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) vs. EPA. “EPA supports that court's interpretation of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) small-refinery provisions,” the agency said in a release. “This conclusion, prompted by a detailed review following the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in the case, represents a change from EPA's position before the 10th Circuit. The change reflects the Agency's considered assessment that the 10th Circuit's reasoning better reflects the statutory text and structure, as well as Congress's intent in establishing the RFS program.” The 10th Circuit in January 2020 vacated and remanded three EPA decisions to grant SREs for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years, holding that a “small refinery's position can be granted only if the refinery satisfies two conditions,” EPA noted, those being that the refinery had to demonstrate an existing exemption and they have to demonstrate disproportionate economic hardship caused by RFS compliance. On Jan. 8, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the 10th Circuit court decision at the request of the small refineries affected by the decision. “After further, careful review of the RFA Decision following the change of Administration, EPA has reevaluated the statutory text and now agrees with the 10th Circuit's reading” of the Clean Air Act section which said that “an exemption must exist for EPA to be able to 'extend' it,” the agency said. “EPA agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, consistent with that congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word 'extension' refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Other than an index of U.S. consumer confidence due out at 9 a.m. CST, there are no official reports on Tuesday's docket. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will testify before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Tuesday morning and offer an assessment of the economy. Traders will check the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. Weather Tuesday will be mainly dry and mild across the primary crop areas. This will allow for snow melt and recovery from the harsh cold and snow of the past two weeks. Snow and cold will be confined to the far northern Plain and portions of the Canadian Prairies.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


RFS Integrity Act Introduced in the House Democrat Angie Craig of Minnesota and Republican Dusty Johnson of South Dakota introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act into the House of Representatives last week. The goal of the legislation is to reduce the secrecy currently surrounding the small refinery exemption process and bring more certainty into the renewable fuel marketplace. “We applaud the introduction of the RFS Integrity Act and the strong bipartisan effort to restore integrity and transparency to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “The intent of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our nation’s transportation fuel supply every year, not to have oil companies use questionable tactics to delay and avoid their blending obligations.” She says that creates tremendous amounts of uncertainty for farmers, biofuel producers, and the entire fuel supply chain. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t impose a clear deadline for submitting a request for an SRE. If enacted, the RFS Integrity Act would set an annual deadline of June 1 for refineries to submit SRE petitions. It would also bring greater transparency to SREs by no longer excluding the refinery’s name, the number of exempted gallons requested, and the compliance years requested from public disclosure. ********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Drops to Lowest Level in Five Years During the week ending on February 12, the Energy Information Administration announced that ethanol production dropped to its lowest level in five months while stockpiles grew. The EIA report says that ethanol production fell to 911,000 barrels per day, down from 937,000 barrels a day during the prior week. That’s the lowest production level since late September. A Successful Farming report says the Midwest, which produces the most ethanol of any region in the country, saw its production drop to 868,000 barrels a day. That’s a drop from the 895,000 per day from the previous week and the lowest output level since late September. The East Coast and Gulf Coast regions stayed at an average of 12,000 barrels per day, while the Rocky Mountain and West Coast production levels were unchanged at 9,000 barrels per day, on average, according to the EIA. Stockpiles increased to 24.297 million barrels in the seven days ending on February 12. In other news the ethanol industry won’t like, the Environmental Protection Agency says that all 16 petitions from small refineries that would exempt them from meeting blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard from 2020 are still pending. In total, 66 petitions that date back as far as 2011 are still pending. ********************************************************************************************** Biden Immigration Bill Introduced in Congress Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Representative Linda Sanchez of California, both Democrats, introduced President Biden’s immigration proposal into their respective chambers. The Hagstrom Report says both members of Congress say the bill will “create an earned pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, providing Dreamers, Temporary Protective Status holders, and some farm workers with an expedited three-year path to citizenship.” It also gives all other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes an eight-year path to citizenship without fear of deportation. National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern praised everyone involved with moving the legislation forward. However, he says, “Reforms to the immigration system must include changes crucial for the dairy workforce.” Reforms the NMPF wants to see include extending legal protections to current workers and their families that they’ve earned and enables dairy farmers to use a guest worker program to supplement their domestic workforce when they need to. Democratic Representative Jim Costa of California is a co-sponsor of the legislation. “I want to see this pass for the hardworking immigrants that have an earned path to citizenship,” he says. “For too long, we have talked about reform without taking any serious action.” *********************************************************************************************** USDA Fills Key Leadership Positions The USDA announced the appointment of Gloria Montaño (Mon-TAHN-yoh) Greene as the Deputy Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-shu-know) is the new Farm Service Agency Administrator. Montaño Greene is a former Director of the Farm Service Agency in Arizona from 2014-2017, a position she was appointed to by then-President Obama. She led the implementation of the 2013 Farm Bill Programs across the state. Ducheneaux is the current Executive Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the largest, longest-standing Native American agricultural organization in the U.S. The Council represents all Federally Recognized Tribes and serves 80,000 Native American producers. He also operates his family’s ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north-central South Dakota with his brothers. “We are honored to have professionals of the caliber of Gloria and Zach join our team,” says Katharine Ferguson, Chief of Staff with the Office of the USDA Secretary. “With their leadership of USDA farm and conservation programs, we will create new market opportunities and streams of income for farmers, ranchers, and producers that address climate change and environmental challenges, strengthen local and regional food systems, and lead the world in food, fiber, and feed production for export.” ********************************************************************************************** USDA Clarifies Rules Regarding Buying and Selling Seeds from Other Countries The USDA recently finished a months-long investigation into thousands of reports from citizens who received unsolicited seed packages in the mail last year. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found no evidence that someone was intentionally trying to harm U.S. agriculture with the shipments. APHIS did confirm that some of the seeds sent to the U.S. were unsolicited, but others were seeds that the recipients ordered, although the buyers didn’t know they were coming from a foreign country. Regardless, most shipments were illegal because they came into the country without a permit or phytosanitary certificate. “Plants and seeds for planting online from other countries can pose a significant risk to U.S. agriculture and natural resources because they can carry harmful insects and pathogens,” the APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine Program says in a statement. “We’ve been working closely with e-commerce companies and other federal partners to stop the flow of illegal plant and seed shipments into the U.S.” The agency set up a new site to help in its efforts to facilitate the safe trade of plants and seeds through the e-commerce pathway. More information is available at www.aphis.usda.gov. ********************************************************************************************** USCA Wants Beef Imports Halted Because of FMD The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association wants beef imports from Namibia (Nah-ME-bee-ah) halted following reports of Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreaks in the country. Namibia’s livestock industry is divided into two zones by what’s called the Veterinary Cordon Fence. North of the VCF is where the infections have taken place, while south of the fence is considered an FMD-free zone. However, the region’s buffalo populations are consistent carriers of FMD and can move freely in and out of the country, potentially contacting domestic cattle herds. The country’s elephant populations have also been known to damage the fence and allow wild animals to cross to either side. “Now, more than ever, we need to ensure there are strong health and safety standards in place within our food supply chain to guard against threats to our agriculture industry,” says USCA President Brooke Miller. “The U.S. hasn’t had an FMD outbreak for almost 100 years, but we continue to recklessly pursue trading relations with countries that have known outbreaks. We want this to be a prominent topic in the upcoming Senate and House Agriculture Committees.” USCA estimates that a U.S. outbreak of FMD would result in as much as $14 billion in losses. Not only would it hit farm income, but it would also affect consumers and international trade relations.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Challenging Trade Debate Emerges The Hill this week featured a warning in an article by Desmond Lachman – a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Lachman was formerly a deputy director in the International Monetary Fund's Policy Development and Review Department and the chief emerging market economic strategist at Salomon Smith Barney. He warns President Biden “not to repeat the trade policy mistakes made by the previous administration.” He argues that President Joe Biden inherited a U.S. and global economy in “much worse shape than did former President Donald Trump – and that he can ill-afford to repeat the same trade policy mistakes that the Trump administration made.” He worries especially about the worldwide drift to “protectionist policies that now threatens to be destructive to U.S. and global prosperity.” He says “it would be a gross understatement to say that Trump's trade policy was a dismal failure. Not only did it fail to eliminate the U.S. trade deficit and level the trade playing field with China as it repeatedly promised to do. It also managed to alienate our traditional trade allies in Europe and Japan, lose our economic influence in the Asian Pacific region by pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and abandon our country's traditional world economic leadership role,” Lachman says. He thinks a key economic policy mistake the Trump administration made was to view international trade as a zero-sum game and to take a “my way or the highway” approach to trade policy. This induced him to adopt an “America First” trade policy and to start a costly Chinese trade war on a unilateral rather than on a multilateral basis, Lachman says. It also induced him to undermine the World Trade Organization, to arbitrarily impose import tariffs on our allies on supposedly national security grounds and to eschew participation in multilateral trade agreements. Lachman criticizes “another cardinal trade policy mistake made by the former administration, which was not to realize that our trade deficit is determined fundamentally by the difference between our country's saving and investment levels.” Had it grasped this basic economic principle, it might have refrained from engaging in the large 2017 unfunded corporate tax cut which had the effect of causing us to “revisit the twin budget deficit and trade deficit problem of the Reagan years,” the commentary said. Lachman is especially worried that while the Biden administration has yet to articulate a coherent international trade policy, “it is far from clear that it will be making a clean break from Trump's trade policies and restoring the country's traditional role of promoting freer international trade.” He sees as a positive the Biden administration efforts to adopt a more multilateral and rules-based approach to trade than the Trump administration did in general and that it “wishes to restore the WTO's authority in particular.” Another encouraging sign is that President Biden has not ruled out the possibility that the United States might re-join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He also approves that the new administration also appears to understand that our European trade allies share our concern about China's multiple unfair trade practices and that our leverage in trade negotiations with China would be enhanced if we cooperated with Europe. This is particularly the case considering that European trade with China now exceeds that of ours. On the negative side, Lachman worries that President Biden is pursuing a “Buy American” program that appears to follow the previous “America First” playbook. And he sees problems from the new administration's commitment to fast track a $1.9 trillion-dollar budget package “that is almost sure to create a twin deficit problem that would cause the dollar to rise on the back of higher U.S. interest rates caused by a more expansive budget policy.” With the world still in the grip of its worst post-war economic recession and with protectionist policies on the rise, the world very much needs U.S. international economic leadership to maintain an open international trade system. To provide that leadership, the U.S. will need to lead by example. That leadership will require repairing fences with our traditional European economic allies to facilitate greater international cooperation to ensure that all countries, including China, play by the rules of the game in their international trade policies. It will also require the Biden administration to “dial back on its protectionist tendencies and refrain from pursuing a reckless budget policy that threatens to exacerbate current international economic imbalances.” So, we will see. It is clear that the administration almost certainly will find itself challenged as it attempts to support economic recovery from the coronavirus without inflating its currency—and a strong debate is now underway about the implications of those threats. That debate should be watched very closely as new policies are considered and implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


US Ag Export Forecast Raised To New Record U.S. agriculture is now forecast to see record exports in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 of $157 billion, up from a November forecast of $152 billion. Imports are also forecast at a record mark up $137.5 billion, up from $137 billion in USDA's November forecast. The two forecasts would result in U.S. agriculture registering a trade surplus of $19.5 billion, the biggest since a $21.1 billion surplus in FY 2017. For China, USDA forecasts their FY 2021 imports at $31.5 billion, up $4.5 billion from their November outlook, “due to strong first quarter shipments and surging sales, most notably of corn,” USDA said. “China is forecast to remain the largest U.S. agricultural market in FY 2021.” The resulting trade surplus for U.S. agriculture would be up $17 billion from the FY 2020 result, which was the smallest trade balance for U.S. agriculture since it was $2.1 billion in 1972.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


USDA, FDA Insist 'No Credible Evidence' COVID Is Transmitted Via Food Or Food Packaging There is “no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19,” according to a statement issued by acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea and acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock. “While there are relatively few reports of the virus being detected on food and packaging, most studies focus primarily on the detection of the virus' genetic fingerprint rather than evidence of transmission of virus resulting in human infection,” the statement said. “Given that the number of virus particles that could be theoretically picked up by touching a surface would be very small and the amount needed for infection via oral inhalation would be very high, the chances of infection by touching the surface of food packaging or eating food is considered to be extremely low.” The agencies said they were sharing the information “based upon the best available information from scientific bodies across the globe, including a continued international consensus that the risk is exceedingly low for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans via food and food packaging.” Further, the USDA/FDA statement indicated food products and food packaging has “not been attributed” as a transmission source via national or international surveillance systems. This comes as China has maintained that this can be a source of infection and a World Health Organization (WHO) team that investigated the situation in China indicated that further exam needs to be done on whether frozen foods and the cold supply chain are possible transmission methods.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets As usual, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and watching for any export sales news that might emerge Monday morning. An index of U.S. leading indicators will be released at 9 a.m. CST, followed by USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. Weather Monday features rain and snow in the eastern Midwest through the East Coast and Southeast. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere along with notably milder temperatures.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


China Surpasses U.S., Becomes EU’s Biggest Trading Partner New data from the European Union puts China ahead of the United States as the EU’s biggest trading partner. A spokesperson from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry calls the data “great news for both sides.” 2020 saw China-EU economic and trade ties grow stronger against the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 60 percent of EU companies in China are ready to increase investment, according to the latest survey by the EU Chamber of Commerce in China. At the end of last year, China and the EU announced the conclusion of negations on a China-EU investment agreement that elevates relations and cooperation between the two. China claims that for mutual investment, the agreement means wider market access, better business environment and a brighter prospect of cooperation. In 2020, EU imports from China increased 5.6 percent, while exports increased 2.2 percent. Although the US and the UK remain the EU's largest export markets, trade with both countries dropped significantly. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Dealer Statutory Trust to Protect Livestock Sellers The Department of Agriculture this week announced a new Dealer Statutory Trust to Protect Livestock Sellers. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed in December, amended the Packers and Stockyards Act by adding language to establish a "Dealer Statutory Trust" for the benefit of unpaid cash sellers of livestock. Much like the existing packer and poultry trusts, the amendment requires livestock dealers to hold all livestock purchased. If livestock has been resold, the receivables or proceeds from such sale, in trust for the benefit of all unpaid cash sellers of livestock until full payment has been received by those sellers. Dealers whose average annual livestock purchases do not exceed $100,000 are exempt. Livestock sellers who do not receive timely payment from a dealer may file claims on the dealer's statutory trust. Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa of California applauded the move. The Democrat states, "I am pleased that USDA has taken the necessary steps to put these protections in place for the benefit of livestock sellers throughout our country." ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Submit Comment on Phosphate Duties Farm groups this week submitted comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission regarding duties on Russian and Moroccan imports of phosphate fertilizer. The groups include the American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association and the National Cotton Council. The groups say, “countervailing duties on these imports will adversely impact the availability of phosphate fertilizer in the United States and adversely affect crop production and farmer livelihoods.” The comments are part of the USITC’s hearing on a petition from the Mosaic Company for the countervailing duties on Russian and Moroccan imports. Mosaic says the company’s survival depends on stopping unfairly subsidized imports. However, the farm groups say countervailing duties impact availability of phosphate fertilizers and lead to shortages. Additionally, the groups say the duties will reduce competition and choice available to farmers in the U.S. marketplace. The farm groups request that the USITC remove the countervailing duties. Phosphate fertilizers are widely used by corn, cotton, soybean, and other crop producers throughout the United States. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Applauds USDA For Extending COVID Vaccine Support Farm groups welcome plans by the Department of Agriculture to assist states in administering the COVID-19 vaccine. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service this week announced it has deployed 119 employees to assist in several states, largely in Nevada and Oklahoma. The USDA employees are helping to vaccinate people at various rapid points of distribution, including mobile teams and pop-up clinics. Farm groups, such as the National Pork Producers Council, welcomed the news from USDA. NPPC says that, declared essential by the Department of Homeland Security, hog farmers, veterinarians, livestock haulers, harvest facility employees and other workers across the supply chain, play a vital role in food security and rural economies. This week, NPPC also launched a campaign, “You’re Essential, So It’s Essential,” to encourage U.S. pork industry workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible. visit nppc.org/essential to learn more about the NPPC vaccination campaign. ************************************************************************************ USB Sets 2022 Investment Directions Directors of the United Soybean Board this week met virtually to define strategies and goals for 2022 investments. Those priorities include strengthening soy's position in the U.S. and global marketplaces related to soybean meal, oil and sustainability. USB's financial stewardship and program development responsibilities include investing in projects to promote the sustainability of U.S. soy as a market differentiator domestically and to build new markets abroad. In addition, the soy checkoff funds education to enhance end-user awareness of soy products and research to strengthen the resilience of soybean production, improve meal quality and develop new uses for soybean oil. Nearly 500 proposals were submitted to achieve checkoff objectives in research education and promotion. The shared goal of all selected proposals is to strengthen U.S. soy's reputation and competitive advantage when it comes to nutrition, quality and sustainability. Between now and USB's next meeting in July, checkoff farmer-leaders will review proposals in detail to determine strategic fit ahead of making their final 2022 project portfolio recommendations. ************************************************************************************ CattleFax Cow-Calf Survey Announced CattleFax has introduced its annual Cow-Calf Survey. Information requested in the survey provides participants and the industry with valuable data regarding industry benchmarks and trends. Survey participants will receive a results summary packet, with useful benchmarking information that will allow managers and owners to evaluate their own operations. Items such as cow-calf profitability, tendencies of high and low return producers, regional data, and other valuable material are included. To receive the summary packet, a valid email address must be submitted. All individual results will be confidential and remain anonymous. By completing the survey and submitting a valid email address, participants will also be entered into a drawing to win a $700 CattleFax voucher. The credit can be used for any CattleFax memberships, registration fees for education seminars, including Corporate College and Risk Management Seminars, and/or registration fees for the annual Outlook and Strategies Session. The survey can be accessed by going to CattleFax.com. The deadline to complete the survey is February 22, 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Retail Sales Surprise Bloomberg is reporting this week that U.S. retail sales surged in January “by the most in seven months, beating all estimates and suggesting fresh stimulus checks helped spur a rebound in household demand following a weak fourth quarter.” The value of overall sales increased 5.3% from the prior month after a 1% decline in December, the Department of Commerce (DOC) report said. “It was the first monthly gain since September. All major categories showed sharp advances,” DOC said. Ahead of the report, the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1.1% monthly gain in retail sales. A surge in COVID-19 cases curbed spending at year-end, but since then, virus cases have ebbed and states have started to ease some restrictions on businesses and activity. The ability to shop and eat out, paired with the latest round of $600 stimulus payments, helped drive spending increases across a variety of categories, Bloomberg said. The jump in retail sales could further embolden Republican opposition to President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan which many in the GOP already criticize as “too big,” Bloomberg said. Even so, Democrats are on track to narrowly pass the package without Republican votes – and the new retail sales data could also be held up as evidence of how critical relief payments are to the economy and jobs. The report shows that “when fiscal aid arrives to household balance sheets, it does get turned around fairly quickly and materializes in economic activity,” Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc, said. With another stimulus package likely in March, “we should see a pretty rapid acceleration in demand and household spending as we move into the into the second quarter, which could be continued if vaccinations continue apace, and mobility gradually recovers over time,” Gapen said. Non-store retailers' sales, which includes online stores, rose 11%, the most in two years. Food services and drinking places rose 6.9% as restrictions eased at restaurants and bars across the country. Furniture stores, and electronics and appliance merchants also saw double-digit gains in the month. The so-called “control group” subset of sales, which excludes food services, car dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, rose 6%, the largest gain since June. Bloomberg said its own economists reported that “The strength and composition of retail sales (specifically the tilt toward discretionary categories) is an encouraging signal that consumers' aggressive saving patterns from 2020 are starting to ease—a development which, if sustained, could unleash a torrent of pent-up demand in 2021.” The report noted that gas station receipts rose 4%, at least in part reflected higher fuel prices. The retail figures aren't adjusted for price changes, so sales also reflect changes in gasoline costs. At the end of January, the average nationwide price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.42 – roughly in line with pre-pandemic prices. Other data from the Labor Department showed producer prices increased 1.3% in January, the biggest gain in records dating back to 2009, driven by broad-based gains in categories including energy and food. The core measure, which excludes energy and food, jumped by 1.2% – also the most in records – over the prior month. Meanwhile, the core consumer price index – a key measure of prices paid by U.S. consumers – was unchanged in January for a second straight month, pointing to the pandemic's lingering restraint on inflation. A separate report from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday “showed manufacturing extended its recovery in early 2021. Output rose in January by more than forecast, though it remained 1.9% below the pre-pandemic level.” Bloomberg also noted that the National Association of Home Builders showed increased confidence among residential construction firms in February as the allure of low interest rates generated more prospective buyer traffic. Still, rising construction costs threaten to slow demand, Bloomberg warned. So, we will see. The declines in COVID-19 cases are clearly good news, as are the stronger retail markets. Still, the threats from the virus are very significant and efforts to test and vaccinate continue to be extremely important — key trends producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


Senators Push For COVID Vaccinations For Farm, Food Workers There needs to be a “swift vaccination of farm and food chain workers” as it is “imperative that these essential frontline workers be included in initial phases of vaccine distribution nationwide,” Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said in a letter to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients. The lawmakers lamented that states and other jurisdictions have excluded farm and food chain workers in their vaccine distribution plans. They also called for vaccines distributed through employers be done in consultation with union and worker representatives. “This must be done in order to both adequately ensure their health and safety while also guaranteeing the continuity of food production and distribution in the U.S.,” the lawmakers said.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


USDA's Meyer Outlines 2021 Acreage, Trade Prospects The USDA Outlook Forum is in virtual form this year, with USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer laying out the economic landscape for the agricultural sector. He noted the rebuilding of the Chinese hog herd as a factor in markets, including corn and soybeans. For corn, Meyer detailed, “What we have seen, though, in China, and what has sparked this big import of corn has been the spread between internal prices for corn in China and what corn prices are elsewhere in the world.” He put the difference in price at round $150 per metric ton. He also said the tariff-rate quota (TRQ) will not be a limit on Chinese corn imports. For 2021 U.S. planted acreage, he said USDA sees corn planting at 92 million acres and soybeans at 90 million for a combined 182 million acres, a record. For wheat, Meyer said that USDA sees a “small rise” in wheat area for 2021 to 45 million acres. He also noted that winter wheat harvested area is a “question.” He also said USDA sees cotton plantings at 12 million. USDA sees season average prices for corn at $4.20 per bushel, soybeans at $11.25 per bushel and wheat at $5.50 per bushel in their respective 2021-22 marketing years, Meyer said, while the agency expects higher prices forecast compared with 2020 for live cattle at $115 per cwt., hogs at $50.50 per cwt., and broilers at 84.5 cents per pound. But to hit the price marks, he said there needs to be “robust domestic demand and solid exports.” Interestingly, Meyer commented on the Food Box program, noting a question is if USDA maintains the program. Overall U.S. agricultural exports in Fiscal Year (FY) are now seen at a record $157 billion against imports at a record $137.5 billion for a trade surplus of $19.5 billion. That would be $17 billion higher than FY 2020 and the biggest trade black ink since FY 2017 when it was $21.1 billion

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's 2021 Ag Outlook Forum continues Friday with traders watching for the release of new-crop balance sheets and additional market comments. At 7:30 a.m. CST, USDA will release its weekly export sales report for dates that overlap China's New Year celebration. U.S. existing home sales for January are due out at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's monthly cattle on-feed report at 2 p.m. CST. Weather Most primary crop areas will be dry Friday. We'll also see milder temperatures as this week's bitter cold wave eases. Precipitation will focus in the eastern U.S. as rain and along the Rockies as snow. The Rockies snow system will move into the western Midwest Sunday.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


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. ************************************************************************************ 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. ************************************************************************************ 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. ************************************************************************************ 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. ************************************************************************************ 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. ************************************************************************************ 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.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Political Clash on Minimum Wage Bloomberg is reporting this week that the proposal to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 has triggered a fierce lobbying battle, pitting some powerful business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against large labor unions and civil rights coalitions. These groups have been holding virtual meetings and mobilizing grassroots letter-writing and phone call blitzes to sway lawmakers, particularly moderates in both parties, as they consider attaching the wage increase to the larger pandemic relief package sought by President Biden. The report also thinks that the proposal is serving as a test of whether unions and other groups generally aligned with Democrats can push through a top issue for them now that the party narrowly controls both chambers of Congress and holds the White House. For the Chamber and some other large business groups, who in the past have had more ties to Republicans on policy, the debate will test their clout with the new Congress. Democrats and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are intent on increasing the wage minimum. But how they get it across the finish line is in question. The House Education and Labor Committee approved the increase in its portion of the pandemic relief bill. But opposition from moderate Democrats in the Senate may doom any strategy to pass it using the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has opposed a $15 minimum wage and suggested an increase to $11. Another crucial vote, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said she doesn't support including the wage hike in a stimulus bill. Biden said during a news interview earlier this month that he doubted it would survive as part of the package. Along with the political realities, his reasoning included the additional complication that Senate reconciliation rules may not even allow it. The Senate parliamentarian hasn't made a ruling on that yet but a minimum wage hike could also be pushed as a standalone bill. Proponents of the hike such as the Service Employees International Union and the National Employment Law Project say the virus-driven economic downturn illustrates that a boost is necessary to help lift people out of poverty. Coalitions of companies, such as Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, argue that raising the wage helps business by reducing worker turnover and increasing productivity. Heavy hitters including Amazon.com Inc., have also thrown their weight behind support for the proposal, saying $15 “is the minimum that anyone in the U.S. should earn for an hour of labor.” “In this moment where front-line workers and essential workers put their lives on the line during this pandemic and are still having trouble making ends meet, it really shows how overdue this change is,” said Gaylynn Burroughs, senior policy counsel of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 organizations. The $7.25 federal minimum wage has been in place for almost 12 years. “There's obviously lobbying going on in DC and we'll make our strongest case possible. But this isn't a fight that's going to be won inside the halls of Congress. This is about members of Congress hearing from their constituents,” said Judy Conti, the government affairs director at the National Employment Law Project. SEIU, which started the “Fight for 15” campaign in 2012, worked with its partners to place roughly 3,000 phone calls to members of Congress during the week the measure was introduced on Jan. 26. The Coalition on Human Needs, a collection of organizations including civil rights and religious groups, has generated more than 150,000 letters to House and Senate offices from individuals in support of raising the minimum. Deborah Weinstein, the group's executive director, said she will also be increasing virtual meetings on the Hill in the days ahead. Opponents of the boost, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the International Franchise Association, argue that a large nationwide wage increase would hinder economic recovery by spurring business closures, higher prices for consumers, and increased unemployment. “There's no reason Congress shouldn't discuss raising the minimum wage, we just think that the $15 number is a political number that's not based on a real economic analysis,” said Glenn Spencer, the senior vice president of the employment policy division at the Chamber. “Hopefully we'll find people who are a little more willing to get something done. Otherwise, we're back into that '15-or-bust' mentality which results in an increase of zero.” The National Restaurant Association activated its grassroots network and has already sent “tens of thousands” of messages to lawmakers' offices regarding the wage increase and another part of the proposal that would eventually eliminate the tip credit, said Sean Kennedy, the group's executive vice president for public affairs. He called it “one of our more successful” campaigns over the past five months. “This is a huge challenge for an industry that's on the ropes, and it will have the exact opposite impact of relief for us,” said Kennedy. So, we will see. This is an intense campaign, with many Democratic views involved. It also is one with high stakes that producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


USDA Housing Reg Review Quickly Finished By OMB The Agriculture Department has announced an extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on USDA Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans through June 30, 2021. The extension was part of a larger Biden administration initiative on federally connected housing. “USDA recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an almost unprecedented housing affordability crisis in the United States. That's why USDA is taking this important action today to extend relief to the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families holding USDA Single Family Housing loans,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson said. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed its review of a notice from USDA on relief for Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) borrowers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic under programs operated by the Rural Housing Service (RHS) at the agency. The notice was received by OMB on February 12, with the review showing as completed February 15 “consistent with change.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


Action Coming on Biden Trade, EPA Nominees The nomination of Katharine Tai to be U.S. Trade Representative may not see full action in the U.S. Senate until late March even though she is not a controversial nominee, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley formerly chaired the Senate Finance Committee which has responsibility for trade in the Senate and will be the prime panel conducting Tai's nomination hearing. As for the nomination of Michael Regan to be EPA administrator, Grassley said he expects the Senate to vote next week or the following week. Neither nominee is expected to have difficulty winning final Senate approval.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's 2021 Ag Outlook Forum kicks off two days of talks at 6 a.m. CST Thursday with 2021 planting estimates expected early. There is no weekly export sales report until Friday morning, but U.S. jobless claims, U.S. new housing starts for January and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST. The U.S. Energy Department will have natural gas inventories at 9:30 a.m., followed by other weekly energy inventories at 10:00 a.m., including ethanol. Weather Thursday will be dry with milder temperatures in the Plains and most of the Midwest. Rain, ice and snow are in store from the eastern Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Portions of southern Texas will also have mixed precipitation and continued very cold conditions for the region.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


Senates Sets Vote for Vilsack Confirmation The Senate will vote to confirm Tom Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary next week. The exact time is uncertain, but the Senate calendar has the vote planned for Tuesday, February 23. The Senate will debate the nomination for 20 minutes before voting, with the majority and minority parties receiving equal time. Expect smooth sailing for Vilsack, who breezed through the Senate Agriculture Committee nomination hearing earlier this month. If confirmed next week, Vilsack will rejoin the Department of Agriculture just a few days over a month since the Biden administration took over the White House. During his confirmation hearing, Vilsack stated the world and nation are different from his previous stint leading USDA. Vilsack says, "Today, the pandemic, racial justice and equity, and climate change must be our priorities." If confirmed, Vilsack will return to USDA after serving as Agriculture Secretary during the Obama administration, and most recently as President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. ************************************************************************************ Philippines Continues Debate to Raise Pork Import Quota The Philippines’ government moved one step closer to expanding the quota for pork imports last week. Specifically, the government is proposing to raise the minimum access volume to 400,000 metric tons to address shortages and higher prices for the preferred protein. The current minimum access volume is 54,000 metric tons, and the country's initial proposal increased the figure to 164,000 metric tons. The proposal will need to be approved by a management committee before submitted to the Philippines President for approval, and then ratified by Congress. This latest proposal comes on the heels of a recent meeting between the National Pork Producers Council and the Philippines Ambassador to the U.S. NPPC has been working with the Philippines’ government for more than a year to negotiate an expansion of the quota and lower pork import tariffs. In a statement, the organization says, “NPPC welcomes the government’s proposal, as the Philippines holds tremendous market opportunities for U.S. pork exports.” ************************************************************************************ Students Set to Celebrate National FFA Week Next week, more than 760,000 FFA members across the country will share the story of agriculture as part of National FFA Week. National FFA Week always runs Saturday to Saturday and encompasses February 22, George Washington's birthday. This year, the week kicks off on February 20 and culminates on Saturday, February 27. The National FFA Board of Directors designated the weeklong tradition, which began in 1948, recognizing Washington's legacy as a farmer. During FFA Week, the six national FFA officers will connect virtually with chapters across the country. National FFA Week is also a time for alumni and supporters to advocate for agricultural education and FFA. Alumni and Supporters will celebrate Alumni Day on Tuesday, February 22, and on Thursday, February 25, the National FFA Foundation will celebrate Give FFA Day, a 24-hour campaign encouraging the public to support various needs impacting FFA members. Friday, February 26, all FFA members and supporters are encouraged to wear blue and show their FFA pride. ************************************************************************************ Baldwin to Chair Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee Senator Tammy Baldwin will chair the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. Announced last week, the Wisconsin Democrat says, “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support farmers, ranchers, and producers.” Senator Baldwin has served on the Senate Appropriations Committee since 2015, and she will also serve as a member on three other appropriation subcommittees in the Senate. Baldwin says she seeks to "build a stronger and more secure agriculture economy, and get the job done on rural economic development for communities that too often feel they are being left behind by Washington." In addition to serving on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. However, Baldwin is not a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Monica Rainge as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced Monica Armster Rainge as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights for the agency. Rainge is an agricultural lawyer and mediator. She has worked in the public and private agricultural sectors for more than 25 years. She recently served as the Director of Land Retention and Advocacy for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives-Land Assistance Fund. There, she led the development and management of outreach and technical assistance programs that support regional land retention and advocacy initiatives for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Rainge also directed the Federation's Regional Heirs Property and Mediation Center, which provides USDA-certified mediation services in Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. Katharine Ferguson, chief of staff in the office of the secretary, stated, “She has dedicated her career in law and advocacy to fighting for underserved and marginalized communities in food, agriculture and natural resources management.” Rainge will help USDA efforts to ensure equity across the Department. ************************************************************************************ Former U.S. Ambassador Gregg Doud Joins Aimpoint Research Aimpoint Research announced Tuesday Former U.S. Trade Ambassador Gregg Doud joined their team. Doud serves Aimpoint Research as its vice president of global situation awareness and chief economist. Doud most recently served as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and is one of the primary architects of the U.S.-China "Phase One" trade agreement. Aimpoint Research specializes in providing intelligence to the agri-food value chain, and Doud brings “an unparalleled global perspective and economic expertise to the team.” He will work closely with members of the Executive Intelligence Network and play a major role as the organization tackles its thought leadership priorities, including Farmer of the Future, Next Gen Consumer, Mobility of the Future, and more. Before his role with the U.S. Trade Representative, Doud served as President of the Commodity Markets Council, the leading trade association for commodity futures exchanges and their industry counterparts.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Little Guys Threaten Big Problem for Big Tech The New York Times reported this week about “a new threat to big tech.” It described legal threats large firms like Google are facing in antitrust cases from Europe's top competition enforcer, the Justice Department and attorneys general from more than 30 states and territories. However, it also described threats from numerous lawsuits from smaller firms. The report highlighted on a suit by the operator of a website called Sweepstakes Today and its claim that Google used its power over online advertising to “bleed his website dry.” In December, the firm sued Google, claiming “substantial” damages. The Times sees this case as potentially “one of a host of private antitrust lawsuits stemming from government cases against Google and Facebook.” Already, more than 10 suits echoing the federal and state cases have been filed against one or both of the Silicon Valley giants the Times says and notes that “many of them lean on evidence unearthed by the government investigations.” Last month, for example, a media company in West Virginia sued Google and Facebook, arguing that the tech companies had worked together to monopolize the digital ad market. Its lawyers extensively cited evidence from the government cases. Legal experts say many more such suits are likely this year, and could be a source of mounting legal pressure on the tech companies. Federal and state officials have filed several lawsuits against Google, saying it illegally maintained monopolies in search and the online advertising market. Also, suits filed against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and a group of states could seek to break the company up, the Times says. If successful, private lawsuits could be increasingly costly for Facebook and Google. The companies work with millions of advertisers and publishers every year and Google hosts apps from scores of developers, meaning there are many potential litigants, so the damages could be significant. “There's a fair amount of scrambling going on now and folks are trying to figure out what private suits might be successful and how to bring them,” said Joshua Davis, a professor at the University of San Francisco's law school. Julie Tarallo McAlister, a spokeswoman for Google, said that the company would defend itself against the claims. The private suits follow the government ones for a simple reason: Regulators have distinct advantages when it comes to obtaining evidence. Federal and state investigators can collect internal documents and interview executives before filing a suit. As a result, their complaints are filled with insider knowledge about the companies. Private individuals can seek that kind of evidence only after they file lawsuits. If the government cases succeed against Google or Facebook at trial, the win is likely to bolster the case for private lawsuits, experts told the Times. Lawyers could point to those victories as evidence the company broke the law and move quickly to their primary aim: obtaining monetary damages. The people bringing the cases against the tech giants include publishers, advertisers and users. The firm “Sweepstakes Today” aggregates prize contests from around the country. Its revenue comes from advertising that is sold partly by Google, according to Craig McDaniel's lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status. For years, the website generated about $150,000 in annual revenue and turned a profit, according to the complaint. But its revenue has dropped since 2012, a fall that the suit blames on Google's dominance in online advertising. The firm, with its public persona of “Mr. Sweepy,” said that its revenue had “dropped like a rock” and that it could go out of business. It argued that Google had also harmed its earnings by classifying the Mr. Sweepy site as a venue for online gambling, causing him to receive lower-quality ads. Other publishers that recently have filed antitrust complaints against Google include the lyrics website Genius — which sued Google in 2019 citing its use of Genius' lyrics data in search results, only to have its case dismissed — and the progressive magazine The Nation. Both are among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner that is seeking class-action status. Another prominent law firm, Berger Montague, has also filed a complaint against Google on behalf of publishers. The sweeping government claims against Facebook have helped persuade potential plaintiffs that they might have a winning case, even against huge companies like Google and Facebook. “I think it adds credibility to the allegations,” said Tina Wolfson, a California lawyer who filed a private lawsuit against Facebook. But lawyers bringing the lawsuits also face difficulties, including the large numbers of lawyers employed by Big Tech. These experts may try to force the cases to go to arbitration, where each individual claim would be weighed on its own rather than in one big group. And the law includes limitations on which private citizens can sue over antitrust violations. And, it may also be difficult to calculate payouts, especially when tech giants offer their products free to users making it difficult to calculate hypothetical losses. Still, the potential payouts are big, given the size of the tech companies. So, we will see. The big tech companies are extremely powerful competitors in nearly all economic sectors, and they likely also will be increasingly prominent targets for litigation — fights that could affect ag producers in numerous ways, and which should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


USDA Outlook Forum This Week USDA's Annual Outlook Forum will be held February 18-19, with the 97th version of the annual even virtual for the first time in its history. The theme is Building on Innovation: A Pathway to Resilience. It will be interesting to see if USDA-designate Tom Vilsack makes an appearance at the event since his confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate is now set for February 23. The first day of the forum will still focus on the overall U.S. agricultural economic and acreage prospects for the 2021/22 season, with the updated forecast for U.S. agricultural exports for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 due out Thursday morning. The Friday focus will be on the detailed balance sheets for U.S. crops and livestock from USDA analysts, offering and update to the Agricultural Projections to 2030 data released late last fall. Plus, some veteran agriculture folks will open the Friday portion of the program, including Chuck Conner (National Council of Farmer Cooperatives), Zippy Duvall (American Farm Bureau Federation), Krysta Harden (U.S. Dairy Export Council) and Rob Larew (National Farmers Union) who will address “Hot Topics in Food and Agriculture.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


International Trade Administration Sets Final Fertilizer Duties The International Trade Administration has published in the Federal Register final duty levels relative to its countervailing duty investigation into the import of phosphate fertilizers from Russia and Morocco. For Russia, the countervailing duty rates were set at 47.05% for product from Industrial Group Phosphorite LLC, 9.19% for Joint Stock Company Apatit and 17.20% for all others. For Morocco, the rate is 19.97% for OCP SA and for all others. There is still a determination to be made by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). ITA said that if the ITC “issues a final affirmative injury determination, we will issue a CVD order and require a cash deposit of estimated countervailing duties for entries of subject merchandise.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday morning starts with a report of U.S. retail sales and producer prices for January at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by U.S. industrial production at 8:15 a.m. At 1 p.m. CST, the Federal Reserve will release minutes of the latest FOMC meeting. Traders will keep a close eye on the latest weather forecasts and any export sales that develop. Due to this week's holiday schedule, the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory reports are moved to Thursday. Weather Bitter cold conditions will again cover the central U.S. Wednesday; however, some easing of the cold will be noted after record-breaking cold earlier this week. More ice storm conditions are likely in southeastern Texas. We'll also see snow from the Deep South north to the western Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 16, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New WTO Director General The New York Times is reporting this week that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian economist and former finance minister, is poised to become the first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization when it meets this week to consider her candidacy for director general. The appointment would remove a key obstacle to the functioning of the organization, which has been leaderless during a time of growing protectionism and global economic upheaval brought about by the pandemic. Still, the Times cautions that even with Dr. Okonjo-Iweala at the helm and the renewed support of the Biden administration, the WTO will face steep challenges surrounding its effectiveness as the world's trade arbiter. Trade negotiations, including efforts to restrain harmful subsidies such those given to the fishing industry, have dragged on without resolution. A key WTO unit that handles trade disputes, the “appellate body,” remains crippled after the Trump administration blocked appointments of new personnel. And there are deep divisions over whether rich and poor countries should receive different treatment under global rules. There is also growing consensus that the World Trade Organization has failed to police some of China's worst offenses, which many in the United States consider the biggest trade challenge today. And there is deep uncertainty about whether the organization can be overhauled to address those shortcomings. The Trump administration spent the last four years mostly criticizing or ignoring the WTO, ultimately weakening it by implementing its most prominent trade policies outside of its boundaries. Rather than work with the organization, President Trump took on trading partners like China and the European Union one-on-one. Trading partners argued that the Trump policies contravened WTO rules. President Joe Biden is likely to take a very different approach, the Times says. He criticized Trump for alienating allies and weakening the multilateral system and is expected to make the United States a more active player in international groups including the WTO. That includes supporting the organization's new leadership. On Feb. 5, the Biden administration announced it would support Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, reversing efforts by the Trump administration to block her candidacy. The former director general, Roberto Azevedo, announced last May that he would leave the job a year early and departed in August. While the vast majority of the organization's members supported Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to replace him, Trump administration officials, particularly the former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, did not. “The United States stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO director general,” the Office of the United States Trade Representative said earlier this month. “The Biden administration looks forward to working with a new WTO director general to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO.” Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, 66, is a development economist who spent 25 years working at the World Bank, including as managing director, and served two terms as Nigeria's finance minister, as well as the country's foreign affairs minister. A U.S. citizen who earned her doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she serves on the boards of Twitter and Standard Chartered and is an adviser to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Until recently she served on the board of GAVI, an international organization that distributes vaccines to poor countries. In her first stint as finance minister, she led negotiations that resulted in most of Nigeria's external debt being wiped out. Later, as coordinating minister of the economy in Nigeria — a powerful position created for her that has never been held before or since — many ministers took directives from her, the Times said. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has said that her earliest priorities will be ensuring the free flow of vaccines, medicines and medical supplies to help deal with the pandemic and aid the global economic recovery. She has vowed to push for new trade agreements on fisheries and the e-commerce industry, and called for finding “solutions to the stalemate over dispute settlement.” She also said she would prioritize updating trade rules, encouraging member transparency. Following Dr. Okonjo-Iweala's appointment, one of the most pressing issues for the World Trade Organization will most likely be the paralysis of its system for settling trade disputes. The appellate body, a part of the organization that considers appeals by countries to WTO decisions on trade disputes, has been shuttered for over a year, after the Trump administration blocked new appointments to the panel that hears those arguments. While the Biden administration is unlikely to be as critical or confrontational as the Trump administration was about the issues plaguing the WTO, some Democrats share concerns about the organization's shortcomings, including whether the appellate body has unfairly constrained U.S. trade policy. And many officials in the Biden administration recognize the World Trade Organization has only limited power to push China to make economic reforms. So, we will see. Trade policy, along with new disputes likely to reach the WTO, are expected to continue to be among the new administration's most difficult challenges as it attempts to strengthen lagging U.S. economic sectors, especially those facing new technologies — along with those facing increasing competition for growing global food markets. These are trends producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 16, 2021 |


Taiwan to Hold Referendum On US Pork Produced With Ractopamine Public outrage regarding Taiwan's decision to allow imports of U.S. pork containing feed additive ractopamine has triggered a referendum on the issue to be held within the next six months. Some also believe it could harm prospects for President Tsai Ing-wen's independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party in the local government elections next year. The China-friendly Kuomintang opposition party has led the effort against U.S. pork and hopes to capitalize on a coinciding drop in approval ratings for Tsai. The decision to allow pork from the U.S. produced with ractopamine was aimed at smoothing the way for free trade talks with the U.S. that have been paused since 2016.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 16, 2021 |


ITC Rules Blueberry Imports Not Causing Serious Injury To Domestic Producers The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in a unanimous decision that blueberry imports “are not being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat of serious injury, to the domestic industry.” Chair Jason Kearns, Vice Chair Randolph Stayin, and Commissioners David Johanson, Rhonda Schmidtlein, and Amy Karpel voted in the negative, the agency said. The ruling in the Section 201 safeguard investigation ends the possibility the U.S. government will impose antidumping or anti-subsidy imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department. “We believed this data and testimony made a compelling case that safeguard measures were critical to the survival of our domestic farmers, and we are disappointed by the Commission's decision,” The American Blueberry Alliance said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 16, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets After a day off for Presidents Day, trading in U.S. grain futures resumes Monday at 7 p.m. CST and traders will be examining the latest weather forecasts. Tuesday morning, traders will pause at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has a new export sale announcement. USDA's weekly report of grain inspections is set for 10 a.m., followed by the monthly soybean crush estimates from the National Oilseed Processors Association later Tuesday morning. USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry outlook is due out at 11 a.m. CST. Weather Harsh Arctic cold will again cover much of the interior U.S. Tuesday. Temperatures continue well below normal. Significant stress and hazardous conditions for safety, travel and livestock remain in place. Snow forming in the western U.S. will move into the central states during midweek with additional winter storm issues.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 15, 2021 |


Farm Futures Survey Shows Farmers Planting More Corn in 2021 A new survey from Farm Futures shows that U.S. corn producers will increase their acreage by 4.1 percent compared to last year. The projected total is 94.7 million acres of corn this year. If farmers reach that number, that will put 2021 corn acreage at its third-highest amount over the past 75 years, trailing only 2012 at 97.3 million acres and 2013’s 95.4 million. A conservative trendline yield estimate of 177.4 bushels per acre would put corn production at 15.3 billion bushels. That would top the record of 15.1 million bushels harvested in 2016, which was the highest U.S. corn output ever recorded. While the January 2021 survey shows farmers favoring more corn planting this spring, planting intentions for both corn and soybeans are higher than 2020 levels. Plus, a good number of farmers plan to stick with their normal crop rotation. The Farm Futures survey shows farmers will increase soybean acres by 1.4 million, to 84.5 million. Uncertainty remains as farmers look ahead, ranging from dry South American weather forecasts to Chinese demand and pandemic-induced volatility. The survey says farmers are betting on a post-COVID recovery that boosts ethanol output and rising global export demand. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Disappointed in Blueberry Ruling The U.S. International Trade Commission says that fresh, chilled, or frozen blueberries are not being imported into the U.S. at a fast enough rate to cause injury to domestic producers. “As a result of today’s vote, the investigation will end, and the Commission won’t recommend a remedy to the President,” the USITC says in a release. The decision is a win for blueberry exporters that target the U.S., such as Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Canada. The American Farm Bureau says the ITC failed to recognize the damage that certain imports are doing to American farmers. “Seasonal fruit and vegetable farmers face unfair competition from foreign growers, and today’s decision demonstrates that much work still needs to be done to address international trade imbalances,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “Importing blueberries during the U.S. harvest season leads to lower prices for domestic growers, who are price-takers and not price-makers. They need time to adjust their operations to increased import levels.” The Farm Bureau says it will continue to work with the USDA, U.S. Trade Representative, and the Department of Commerce to find meaningful assistance for America’s domestic blueberry industry and make sure U.S. farmers get a fair price for the food they grow. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Cotton Farmers Will Plant Fewer Cotton Acres in 2021 U.S. cotton producers will plant 11.5 million acres this year, down over five percent from last year. Those figures come from the National Cotton Council’s 40th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey. Upland cotton planting intentions are for 11.3 million acres, down 4.9 percent from 2020, while extra-long staple intentions of 161,000 acres represent a 21 percent decline. The detailed survey results were announced during the 2021 National Cotton Council’s Annual Meeting Virtual Live-Stream Event. “Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed,” says Dr. Jody Campiche (Kam-PEE-chee), the NCC Vice President of Economics and Policy Analysis. “Ultimately, weather, insect pressures, and agronomic conditions will play a significant role in determining the crop size.” She also says that with abandonment assumed at 13.8 percent for the U.S., Cotton Belt harvested area totals 11.2 million acres. Using an average U.S. yield per harvested acre of 848 pounds generates a crop of 19.8 million bales. “History shows that U.S. farmers respond to relative prices when making planting decisions,” Campiche says. “Relative to the average futures prices during the first quarter of 2020, prices of all commodities were trading higher. For the 2021 crop year, corn, soybeans, wheat, and sorghum will provide more competition for cotton acres.” ************************************************************************************ Brazil Harvest Delays Mean More Opportunity for U.S Exports Brazil, the world’s number one soybean producer, is experiencing delays in its early soybean harvest. Yahoo Finance says that’s causing some of the biggest buyers like China to rely on rival exporters like the U.S. for a longer period than usual in early 2021. Continuing demand for American soybeans is speeding up the historic lowering of U.S. oilseeds. In turn, that may drive up soybean prices at a time of rising food inflation as countries keep tighter control of their supplies because of COVID-19. Brazil typically will harvest its soybeans in the first three months of the year, which slows demand for U.S. soybeans. However, that process was delayed by a drought last year that slowed planting progress and excessive rainfall at harvest. Brazil’s soybean shipments in January were 38 times lower than the year before at 49,500 tons, an amount that wouldn’t fill a single shipping vessel. At the same time, the U.S. inspected approximately 8.9 million tons for shipment in the same month, the highest number on record for January. Brazil’s supplies will likely normalize by March, but that could mean trouble at Brazilian ports. March and April soybeans may wind up competing with sugar exports for a finite amount of loading capacity. ********************************************************************************************** Economist Says Livestock Producers Need Insurance American livestock producers need the equivalent of crop insurance. The Hagstrom Report says American Farm Bureau Chief Economist John Newton made that statement in front of the recent Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau Meeting. Newton says that in the 2023 Farm Bill, we will need “careful consideration as to how we are reaching the livestock sector with crop insurance-like policies.” Newton says there are ways the farm bill can written to help get crop insurance money more widely utilized. With the increasing frequency of bad weather, Newton says the farm bill can also be used to develop policies to address situations like the derecho windstorm in Iowa as well as hurricanes and after-harvest disasters. He also told attendees that dairy revenue policies have become a top ten crop insurance product because the crop insurance industry is very efficient in delivering those policies. Adequate labor, immigration reform, the Renewable Fuel Standard, possible changes to the Clean Water Rule that’s also known as Waters of the United States, regulatory reform, and the application of swampbuster rules are all Farm Bureau priorities. *********************************************************************************************** The Pace of U.S. Soybean Crush Stays High in January U.S. soybean processing plants likely had their third-largest monthly crush on record in January. Reuters says it’s also the largest-ever crush for the first month of the year. Industry analysts gave those predictions ahead of the National Oilseed Processors Association report due this week. NOPA members handle about 95 percent of all soybeans processed in the U.S. An average of nine analysts estimates combined to show processors crushed about 183.087 million bushels of soybeans last month. If that’s realized, it wouldn’t be much different than the 183.15 million bushels crushed in December and 3.5 percent higher than January of last year, when NOPA members processed 176.94 million bushels. Daily crushing rates over the past four months have been at historic highs, averaging roughly six million bushels a day. U.S. soybean supplies are forecast to shrink dramatically ahead of the next harvest. The USDA is projecting the tightest season-ending stocks in seven years and the tightest stocks-to-use ratio in history.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


Ag Credit Survey: Farm Economy Rebounds Sharply The agriculture economy rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the latest Ag Credit Survey from the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. The average price of grains increased more than 20 percent from the previous quarter and reached six-year highs in December. Livestock prices, while still less than a year ago, also improved from lows reached earlier in the year. Government payments provided broad support through the year, and, together with recent price increases, the near-term outlook for the farm sector improved dramatically. The survey represents conditions in the Federal Reserve’s Tenth District, including Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming. A majority of bankers in the District indicated that farm income was higher than a year ago for the first time in eight years, boosting liquidity and loan repayment capacity and providing renewed support for farm real estate. Overall, agricultural conditions in the first quarter of 2021 in the Kansas City Fed region were poised to remain strong for the first time since 2013. ************************************************************************************ AFBF Provides Analysis on First Year of Phase One Agreement Another analysis of the Phase One Agreement shows China is behind on its commitments to U.S. agriculture. A Market Intel analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation finds total exports of agricultural products covered under the agreement reached approximately $27.2 billion in 2020, an increase of $6.5 billion over 2017 levels. However, the export target of $33.4 billion was missed by over $6 billion. Despite missing the target for the 60 percent increase over 2017 levels, some specific products had banner years, including pork, poultry, beef, corn and soybeans. Farm Bureau economists say the missed target in 2020 also has implications for 2021, given that the Phase One Agreement is a two-year commitment. With 2020 exports of $27.2 billion to reach the two-year, $73 billion commitment, U.S. agricultural exports to China in 2021 will need to reach about $45.8 billion. This would be equivalent to a nearly 69 percent increase in exports over 2020 levels and a 120 percent increase over 2017. ************************************************************************************ Governor’s Biofuels Coalition Asks President Biden to Support Biofuels Sector The Governors' Biofuels Coalition is calling on President Joe Biden to ensure the future of the biofuels sector. The coalition includes governors from 22 states throughout the U.S., including Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who led this week's action in a letter to President Biden. Walz states, "the once flourishing industry is now in jeopardy, threatened by trade wars, a litigious petroleum industry, and shrinking demand caused by the pandemic.” The letter noted that technological advances will significantly benefit the nation overall, but could have a devastating impact on the ethanol industry. The governor proposed two administrative actions to ease that transition, including an executive order banning the use of aromatics in gasoline, and adopting new Renewable Fuel Standard regulations. The letter says banning aromatics use would allow for the substitution of cleaner octane additives for aromatics, expanding the market for ethanol. Regarding the RFS, Walz cautioned that its regulations, particularly the waiver provision, have been manipulated and distorted “to keep the RFS from meeting its full potential.” ************************************************************************************ RFA Releases 2020 Reports on Ethanol, Distillers Grains Exports The Renewable Fuels Association this week released two reports summarizing 2020 U.S. ethanol and distillers grains export and import data. The reports show exports continue to be a major demand driver, as they approached $5 billion in 2020. The export/import trade summary provides data on U.S. ethanol exports, highlighting the fact that more than 1.3 billion gallons, ten percent of the ethanol produced in the U.S., were exported in 2020. While this is nine percent lower than 2019, it remains the fourth largest export volume in history. This ethanol, valued at $2.3 billion, was shipped to 90 countries on six continents. Canada was the top export destination, taking in nearly a quarter of U.S. ethanol exports, followed by Brazil and India. The second report covers U.S. exports of distillers grains, which totaled 10.9 million metric tons in 2020, a slight improvement on 2019 and the seventh straight year exceeding ten million metric tons. U.S. distillers grains exports had an aggregate value of $2.33 billion in 2020, the fifth-highest on record. ************************************************************************************ AEM Releases January Sales Report Farm tractor and combine unit sales start the year continuing growth in both the U.S. and Canada, according to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. AEM reports U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 24.7 percent in January compared to 2020, while U.S. combine sales grew a significant 76.8 percent. U.S. unit sales grew across all segments, with the biggest gains continuing in the small sub-40 horsepower segment, gaining 32.9 percent. Sales of 100-plus horsepower tractors were up 1.2 percent in January. For Canada, January monthly tractor sales also grew across all segments, with four-wheel-drive units leading the way for the second month in a row, up 118.2 percent. Total farm tractor sales up, as a result, 39 percent for January 2021 while combines delivered 52.2 percent more units. AEM’s Curt Blades commented, “While smaller units continue to lead the way, improved commodity prices and market conditions are leading to further gains in harvesters and bigger row crop units.” ************************************************************************************ COVID-19 Found in a Cougar at a Wild Animal Exhibitor in Texas The Department of Agriculture this week confirmed COVID-19 in a cougar at a wild animal exhibit in Texas. A tiger from the same facility was also confirmed positive for COVID-19. USDA says samples from several animals at the facility were taken after showing clinical signs, including coughing and wheezing. The animals are expected to fully recover. USDA suspects that the large cats acquired the infection from a person working as a team member or volunteer who was positive for COVID-19. Infections have been reported in a small number of animals worldwide, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person with COVID-19. USDA states, “We are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals, but there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus to people.” However, it is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fed Chair Boosts Emphasis on Jobs The New York Times is reporting this week that although some prominent economists fret that the government might overdo its pandemic response and prompt prices to shoot higher, the nation's top inflation fighter disagrees — and believes that policymakers should stay focused on restoring full employment. “Given the number of people who have lost their jobs and the likelihood that some will struggle to find work in the post-pandemic economy, achieving and sustaining maximum employment will require more than supportive monetary policy,” Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said in speech to the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday. “It will require a society-wide commitment,” he emphasized. Powell called policies that would bring the coronavirus pandemic to an end as soon as possible “paramount” and said both workers and businesses that had been disrupted by the crisis “are likely to need continued support.” Unemployment remains sharply elevated at 6.3%, up from 3.5% before the pandemic — but it “jumps to about 10% when adjusted for misclassified job statuses and recent dropouts from the work force,” Powell said. The pain has also been uneven. Employment has dropped just 4% for workers earning high wages but “a staggering 17%” for the bottom quartile of earners, Powell pointed out. Separately, he noted that “inflation has been much lower and more stable over the past three decades than in earlier times,” and later added that he did not expect it to accelerate in a sustained way coming out of the pandemic. Economists have often treated high employment and low inflation as conflicting goals, the Times says. Policies that foster strong demand and pull workers back into the labor market can push up wages as businesses compete for talent, prompting them to raise prices both because they need to pass along their rising costs and because eager consumers will accept such increases — at least in theory. But the arithmetic has shifted in recent decades, as annual inflation remained stuck below the Fed's 2% goal even during long periods of very low joblessness. President Biden and top Democrats are moving quickly to try to approve a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. But some economists, including former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers, have warned that the large package could touch off long-dormant price increases. Many Republican lawmakers have also cited that risk as a reason to oppose the package. Powell did not weigh in on the package specifically, but he did seem to rebut many of those concerns. He and his colleagues have been unusually vocal in pushing for more fiscal support for the economy throughout the coronavirus era with some saying the bigger risk is doing too little rather than doing too much. “I'm reluctant to get into what is clearly a very active debate,” Powell said when asked specifically about fiscal policy. But he added that “it is the essential tool for this situation.” The Fed's own policies are set to stimulate growth, the Times says. The central bank cut interest rates to near zero in March and has been buying about $120 billion in government-backed bonds per month. It aims to keep borrowing cheap and credit flowing to companies and households. Low rates are likely to stay for a “long time.” Powell and his colleagues said last year that they would worry only about too little employment, not about too much, and would shoot for periods of slightly higher inflation, aiming to average 2 percent over time. Officials have been clear that they plan to look past a pop in inflation that is expected to occur this year without lifting borrowing costs to cool off the economy. Inflation is measured by taking the cost of a basket of consumer goods and services and comparing it to the cost of the same products a year earlier. Prices that dropped sharply in some categories at the start of the pandemic — think plane tickets, hotel stays and work clothes — are returning to more normal levels. That means the measure will spike mechanically in relation to the depressed 2020 months. The Times insists that such a surge would not necessarily lead to “ever-rising prices.” While prices have shot up temporarily in recent decades, the report says that inflation has largely been benign and even a little bit too low for comfort across much of the developed world. “There's quite a lot of savings on people's balance sheets, there is monetary policy, there is fiscal policy — you could see strong spending growth, and there could be some upward pressure on prices there,” Powell said Wednesday. “Again though, my expectation would be that that will be neither large nor sustained.” Fed officials have gone so far as to suggest that if a large fiscal stimulus causes prices to rise sooner rather than later, that would be a welcome development. Central bankers can lift interest rates to control price increases, but it is less clear that they have the tools to reinvigorate price gains on their own. Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said during a speech last week, “It will be critical for monetary policymakers to look through temporary price increases and not even think about thinking about adjusting policy until the economic criteria we have laid out have been realized.” So, we will see. Inflation is still an enormous worry, and a strong political motivator — and will continue to be prominently debated. Still, the trends in coronavirus cases likely will be the most prominent policy concern and those debates should be watched closely by producers over the coming months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


Simmons Disappears From List of Firms Ineligible To Export To China The Simmons Foods plant in Gentry, Arkansas, is no longer listed as being ineligible to export product to China, with no explanation offered by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for the sudden shift. Earlier this week, FSIS posted a notice that export requirements for China had changed, listing the change as being the Arkansas plant as the third company in the state ineligible to export to China, effective February 7. But a notation posted Wednesday (February 10), simply removed the Simmons plant from the list. Typically, when a company is declared in ineligible to export to a country and then becomes eligible again, there is still a period of time when shipments from the firm are not allowed, but that is not the case with Simmons. Contacts indicate this could be a sign that the initial announcement of export ineligibility was in error. It is not clear how much poultry/products Simmons had been exporting to China as contacts have indicated they believe the firm had not made any significant shipments to the country.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


EPA Pick Regan Stresses He Will Look At All Options On Policies North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality chief Michael Regan repeatedly assured lawmakers during his confirmation hearing last week that he would “look at all options” and be inclusive as he pursues decisions at the agency. In response to written questions, he has continued to deploy that line of response. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, pressed Regan during the hearing on biofuels issues and again in written questions submitted after the session. Regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) beyond 2022 when the current EPA authority on the program expires, Regan said he would consult with legal and policy teams to understand options for the agency relative to setting RFS levels beyond 2022. Ernst asked if Regan will try to grow the use of advanced biofuels like biomass-based biodiesel, Regan said, "I will confer with my legal and policy team to understand all of the options before me regarding the RFS program, and in this specific case, how to set the RFS volume requirements beyond 2022.” Regan was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on a 14-to-six vote, with Ernst among those voting against the nomination. He is expected to win approval by the full Senate, but a vote on his nomination has not yet been set. As for the RFS beyond 2022, expectations are Congress may well weigh in on the matter just as they did to create the RFS in 2005 and when they updated mandates in 2007.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Other than the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. CST, there are no official reports scheduled for Friday, the start of a three-day weekend as markets are closed Monday for Presidents Day. Traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and watching for export sales, even while China celebrates a new year. Friday's markets close at their normal times. Weather Bitter cold Arctic air will spread through the northern and central U.S. Friday. This harsh cold brings safety hazards, livestock stress and disruptions to transportation. Precipitation is in store in the Southeast as rain and in the Northwest as snow. The system producing snow in the Northwest crosses into the Plains and Midwest during the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


Democrats Seek Climate Change Considerations in Transportation Policy A group of Congressional Democrats urges the Transportation Department to prioritize consideration of climate change in transportation policy. In a request to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the group says, “we cannot make progress toward emissions reductions without a program to measure and report on performance.” Led by Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, and Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, the coalition asked Buttigieg to reinstate the greenhouse gas measure for tailpipe emissions. The Trump administration repealed the rule in 2018. The greenhouse gas measure would have required state and local officials to provide consistent information on the percent change in tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions from the reference year 2017. Officials were then required to set performance-based targets and regionally appropriate solutions to achieve those targets. Through his first steps on climate change, the lawmakers also asked Buttigieg to improve the methods and procedures for accounting for the climate and environmental justice impacts of transportation decisions and investments. ************************************************************************************ COVID-19 Assistance Package Includes Provisions from Stabenow The COVID-19 Assistance Package includes provisions supported by Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow. Stabenow says, “We need to take bold action to get farmers, families, and rural communities the help they need to weather this crisis and come out stronger on the other end.” The Michigan Democrat worked with House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott to secure the provisions in the bill. Those provisions provide additional food assistance for those facing hunger by continuing a 15 percent boost in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and allows the Secretary of Agriculture to address supply chain issues facing the food and agriculture sector. The Senate Ag Chair says the bill also supports farmers of color and invests in rural hospitals, along with expanding vaccine distribution in rural communities. The legislation would help rural hospitals make up for high costs and lost revenue, and increases telehealth capabilities. ************************************************************************************ Peterson Institute: China Phase One Deal Falls Short The Peterson Institute calls the China Phase One agreement a “flop” in a recent analysis. The analysis says, “Much of the deal was a failure.” Citing China’s pledge to buy $200 billion more of U.S. goods and services over two years, evidence from the deal’s first year shows China was never on pace to meet that commitment. During the trade war, U.S. agricultural exports to China were cut in half in 2018, with 2019 levels remaining nearly 30 percent lower than in 2017. Overall, China did ramp up farm purchases in 2020 and by September was back on pace to reattain 2017 levels. However, the analysis says U.S. agricultural exports ended up both 18 percent short of the 2020 legal commitment and considerably lower than the Trump administration’s political aspirations. Without the U.S.-China trade war, exports to China would have ended up roughly 19 percent higher than actual 2020 levels, according to the analysis. ************************************************************************************ Senate EPW Committee Send EPA Administrator Nomination to Full Senate The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week advanced the nomination of Michael Regan as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator to the full Senate. Committee Chairman Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, says a bipartisan majority of Committee members voted to move forward on the confirmation by a recorded vote of 14 to 6. Regan’s nomination now heads to the Senate floor for a full vote. Carper says of Regan, “I’m confident he will bring his sterling record of public service to lead the EPA with integrity and compassion.” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the top Republican on the Panel from West Virginia, was one of the four voting against the nomination. While complimenting Regan’s professionalism and accomplishments, Capito says, “I remain deeply concerned about unaccountable climate czars in the White House and their control over EPA and environmental policy.” Republicans on the committee also questioned Regan’s stance on the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the Waters of the U.S. rule. ************************************************************************************ USDA Reminds Producers of ARC, PLC, Deadline Agricultural producers who have not yet enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs for 2021 must do so by March 15. Producers who have not yet signed a 2021 enrollment contract or who want to make an election change should contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency office to make an appointment. Program enrollment for 2021 is required to participate in the programs, but elections for the 2021 crop year are optional and otherwise remain the same as elections made for 2020. FSA Acting Administrator Steve Peterson says, “please do not wait to start the enrollment process.” ARC and PLC are considered vital economic safety nets for most American farms. Although more than one million contracts have been completed to date, this represents less than 59 percent of the more than 1.7 million contracts anticipated by the Agency. By enrolling soon, producers can beat the rush as the deadline nears. ************************************************************************************ National Sorghum Producers Announces Virtual Industry Forum National Sorghum Producers will host a virtual industry forum on March first. The virtual forum will honor 2020 Sorghum Yield Contest winners and address issues and advancements in the industry. The event will take place in advance of Commodity Classic where it is typically held in person, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, all events will take place virtually this year. NSP CEO Tim Lust says, “The beauty of having a virtual event is we are able to open this forum to the entire industry and guests through an efficient, informative and entertaining program.” The event will feature a keynote with insights from Washington, D.C. Reece Cannady, U.S. Grains Council manager for global trade, and Sorghum Checkoff director Florentino Lopez will overview opportunities relating to current markets and sorghum demand. This will be followed by updates from Sorghum Checkoff Agronomy Director Brent Bean on the top producer requested advancement in sorghum seed technology, improved grass control with herbicide-tolerant sorghum. Producers can register for the event at SorghumGrowers.com/yield2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Tough Fight to Save Manufacturing Bloomberg is reporting this week that President Biden is beginning to approach the challenge of rebuilding the nation's manufacturing jobs—that are some 582,000 below pre-pandemic level. The report says Biden, like several predecessors, began by “promising to restore hope to a blue-collar middle class battered by decades of relentless job losses from automation and foreign competition.” But it warns that the realities of trying to stoke U.S. manufacturing employment in the wake of an economic crisis may risk “endangering his plans.” After a period of recovery last year, U.S. factory payrolls stagnated in recent months, then went into reverse in January. The country is on course to repeat a pattern seen in every recession since manufacturing jobs peaked in June 1979: a structural step-down in employment even amid a sustained expansion in output. As President Biden starts to lay out plans for the long-term economic rebuilding program designed as a follow-on to his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, “the business calculus of American manufacturing looms as a headwind,” Bloomberg thinks. Bloomberg then presents an “analysis” of plant-closure notifications sent by companies to state officials around the country that shows that fallout from the pandemic is far from over. Employers, who have already cut a net 582,000 factory jobs compared with the pre-COVID-19 level, aim to emerge leaner and meaner from the crisis. For example, in Ferndale, Washington, Mayor Greg Hansen watched Alcoa, the biggest U.S. aluminum producer, close a smelter last year that operated for more than half a century. The decision put 700 workers, the equivalent of 5% of the town's residents, out of work without any obvious pathway to another job. In nearby Bellingham, Safran Cabin, which makes overhead baggage compartments and ceiling panels for Boeing airplanes and Mitsubishi regional jets, will be shutting its local plant by year-end, laying off another 250. That left Hansen confronting the same problem plaguing small American factory towns for decades. “We need to try to figure out what do we do now and make sure we have good blue-collar jobs” for those affected, Hansen says. “That's a much bigger, more difficult puzzle to figure out.” Bloomberg notes that even companies like Caterpillar Inc., one of the world's largest machinery makers, are trying to plan for what remains an uncertain recovery. Wall Street analysts don't expect its sales to return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2025. In a move intended to boost morale, the company has reinstated employees' annual salary increases and kept health care premiums unchanged for at least some employees for the first time in years. But its 2020 annual government filing will likely show employment dropped for a second straight year. How much U.S. industrial capacity will end up being cut is unclear, Bloomberg says. Industrial production in December was 3.6% lower than a year earlier, with capacity usage 5.3 percentage points below its 1972-2019 average. More recent data from purchasing-manager surveys show orders for manufactured goods expanding at the start of 2021. But there are bigger questions over the return of jobs--and the political reverberations that would accompany a failure to bring them back in important swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. United Steelworkers President Tom Conway is already worried about a jobless recovery. “That's what happened in 2009,” Conway says. “We'll see productivity take a big pop with no significant increase in the workforce” and remaining employees “working 12-to-16-hour days for months on end,” he fears. Biden and his team are well aware of the danger, Bloomberg says. Even as the president woos business support for his relief plan – showcased in an Oval Office meeting Tuesday with chief executives – he's planning a bigger role for the government in this recovery, with money for both research and demand creation, via infrastructure programs, procurement policies, reshoring initiatives and long-term priorities including climate change. Biden is due to visit the industrial state of Wisconsin next week. That's in the run-up to a congressional address in which he is expected to lay out his “build back better” plan, including components to create more manufacturing jobs that advisers hope will spark some bipartisan action. “In the area of manufacturing and infrastructure – and they are related – there could be and should be some bipartisan interest,” Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein said in an interview. “There are lots of states that are red, blue and purple that would very much be interested in signing on to a jobs agenda with high-value-added manufacturing jobs.” U.S. manufacturing still faces plenty of long-term challenges. A forthcoming study of Indiana by the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute found that the most manufacturing-intensive U.S. state was plagued by declines in productivity and investment and a rotation from production jobs to warehousing ones. Between 2001 and 2019, Indiana lost 72,000 manufacturing jobs, the report found, a number that “puts the last year in perspective:” there were 36,000 fewer factory workers in Indiana in December than just one year before. So, we will see. The drivers of competitive success are highly complex and often arise from better technologies. How well those mesh with the needs of the labor force are difficult to anticipate, and clearly will pose large challenges for the new Biden team—and will lead to intense debates regarding new policies that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


Restaurants, Small Businesses Get Fresh Relief In Draft Package The House package includes $7.5 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of forgivable loans for small businesses. The House Small Business Committee released its draft language for its elements of President Biden's COVID-19 relief plan. The PPP only just re-opened last month, thanks to fresh funding approved in the December aid bill. The House Small Business Committee will vote on the text today. The new proposal creates a $25 billion program for restaurants and other food and drinking establishments. A fifth of the funding will be set aside for the smallest firms — those with 2019 revenue of less than $500,000. The grants, available in amounts as large as $10 million per entity, may be used for expenses including payroll, mortgage, rent and utilities. The new initiative would be welcome news in the hospitality industry, which has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic crisis.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


GOP's Thompson Criticizes Sudden Partisanship on House Ag Panel House Ag Committee Ranking Member GT Thompson, R-Pa., Wednesday asked the Democrats why they turned partisan in latest ag aid measure. “It is with a measure of regret that we begin our tenure together marking up this reconciliation bill,” Thompson said. “The members of the Ag Committee have long prided ourselves on our bipartisanship.” While the two sides have been work together, Thompson expressed disappointment at the actions being pursued on the COVID-19 aid plan. “Rather than spending time to work with Republicans, the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are abusing the reconciliation process to jam through a very narrow, partisan agenda with the barest of majorities,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, this flawed approach is now being adopted by this Committee. What we are marking up today was written behind closed doors; Republicans were cut out of the process. The first time we saw this $16 billion proposal was less than 48 hours ago. “ Thompson also was critical of the panel not holding any hearings on the COVID response efforts that were deployed by USDA. “We cannot fully account for what was spent and whether it was helpful,” he stated. “What's worse, we don't know what the new needs are and if we're meeting them with this package today.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CST we will have initial jobless claims as well as continuing jobless claims reported. We will also be looking for any new export sales announcements at 8 a.m. CST and any updates on South American weather. Weather Thursday brings more effect of a strong Arctic cold wave to most primary crop areas. Ice and snow are in store from the southern Plains through the Delta and southeastern Midwest. A swath of snow will develop in the northern Plains. Bitter cold wind chills will spread across the northern Plains and northern Midwest. Meanwhile, rain will cover much of the western Gulf Coast and Deep South. This combination is stressful to livestock and brings safety hazards to transportation and travel.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


USDA Releases Latest WASDE Report The latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report released Tuesday lowered ending stocks for corn and soybeans, while increasing expected export sales. In the report, corn exports were raised 50 million bushels, reflecting historically large purchases by China. With no other use changes, USDA lowered corn ending stocks 50 million bushels, as a result. The season-average corn price was raised ten cents to $4.30 per bushel. Meanwhile, soybean exports are projected at 2.25 billion bushels, up 20 million from last month, reflecting record marketing-year exports through January and a slow start to Brazil's export season. With soybean crush unchanged, soybean ending stocks were reduced 20 million bushels to 120 million. If realized, soybean ending stocks would be down 77 percent from 2019/20, and the lowest since 2013/14. The U.S. season-average soybean price for 2020/21 is forecast at $11.15 per bushel, unchanged from last month. And, the supply and demand outlook for wheat is largely unchanged this month. ************************************************************************************ Senators Reintroduce Justice for Black Farmers Act A group of Senate Democrats this week reintroduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act. The legislation aims to address and correct historic discrimination within the U.S. Department of Agriculture in federal farm assistance and lending. The bill was first introduced in November 2020. At the time, the Senators stated USDA discrimination "has caused Black farmers to lose millions of acres of farmland and robbed Black farmers and their families of hundreds of billions of dollars of inter-generational wealth.” The legislation will enact policies to end discrimination within USDA, protect Black farmers from losing their land, provide land grants to create a new generation of Black farmers and restore the land base that has been lost. The bill also seeks to implement systemic reforms to help family farmers across the United States. Senator Corey Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey who now holds a seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, reintroduced the legislation, along with colleagues from Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, Georgia and Vermont. ************************************************************************************ Senators Urge Biden to Withdraw Sheep Import Rule A Senator from North Dakota wants the Biden administration to withdraw a final rule on the importation of sheep and goats. Republican Kevin Cramer made the request in a letter to the Department of Agriculture this week, asking the rule be withdrawn until its impact on current market conditions can be fully evaluated. The rule, finalized on January 14, would remove brain disorder-related import restrictions on sheep, goats, and most of their products. Cramer says the existing import restrictions function as a necessary protection against the introduction of other brain disorders, such as scrapie or mad cow disease. Republican Senators Steve Daines of Montana, John Cornyn of Texas, John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, John Thune and Michael Rounds of South Dakota, and John Hoeven of North Dakota joined Cramer on the letter. The Senators state, "By allowing scrapie-positive animals and genetic materials into the United States, we risk reintroducing the very disease we have nearly eradicated." ************************************************************************************ Hemp Checkoff Survey Results Announced Hemp industry stakeholders this week announced survey results regarding industry attitudes towards a hemp checkoff program. The overall survey results show that nearly eight out of every ten farmers and processors support the checkoff program for research, promotion, and consumer education. Over six of ten farmers and processors support being assessed to fund a program. The results were announced by the National Industrial Hemp Council and The Hemp Industries Association. NIHC Chair Patrick Atagi says, “This is exciting news for our industry and exciting that there is such wide consensus in our industry to support such a program.” Funded through assessments on the produced commodity at the first point of sale, checkoff programs allow producers of commodities to pool resources for research, education, and promotion efforts to expand sales and improve production efficiencies. The survey received 270 responses and was conducted online via November 30, 2020, until December 31, 2020. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Praises Senate Push on Biofuel Infrastructure Growth Energy Tuesday again called on the Environmental Protection Agency to reject calls to delay Renewable Fuel Standard compliance. Chris Bliley, Growth Energy's Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, participated in a virtual EPA hearing on the proposal to extend the RFS compliance deadlines for the 2019 and 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations. During his testimony, Bliley called on EPA to reject calls to delay RFS compliance and instead take immediate steps to restore integrity to the RFS and restore lost biofuel demand. Bliley stated, "The intent of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our nation's transportation fuel supply. Period. It is not meant to have oil companies use questionable legal tactics to avoid blending biofuels and then demanding that the agency further delay compliance." EPA's proposal would extend the RFS compliance deadline for the 2019 compliance year to November 30, 2021, and extend the RFS compliance deadline for the 2020 compliance year to January 31, 2022. ************************************************************************************ NASDA Seeks Flexibility to Protect Farm Workers, Specialty Crop Industry The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture this week asked the Department of Agriculture for more flexibility in the use of Specialty Crop Block Grants. Specifically, NASDA seeks additional flexibility in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to enhance their responses to the continued demands COVID-19 places on the industry. NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn stated, "challenges impacting our food supply related to COVID-19 are still present, and continued flexibility is needed." In a letter to acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea, Glenn outlined additional ways state agriculture departments could use the grants if given approval. Examples included implementing vaccination programs for agricultural and food workers, building COVID-19 related infrastructure and offsetting increased costs to providing safe worker housing and transportation. Since the onset of the pandemic, NASDA members have continuously worked to help food producers and workers stay safe and meet their communities' needs. Through additional and allowed flexibility in funding programs, NASDA members would be able to leverage and maximize local solutions for local recovery efforts.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


Washington Insider: The Coming Climate Change Battle Politico is reporting this week that corporate America is entering the Biden era with bold public pledges to fight climate change. But as Democrats seek to hold businesses to those promises, “they're facing a big battle.” Democrats are vowing to go through the Securities and Exchange Commission to impose sweeping financial disclosure rules on climate risk that would force thousands of businesses including banks, manufacturers and energy producers to divulge information to investors. Lenders are set to get even more scrutiny from their own regulators like the Federal Reserve, including potential stress tests to measure their resiliency to rising sea levels and extreme weather. Politico says the coming “backlash” is just beginning. The report says that BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who has been hailed by some as a corporate leader in fighting climate change, is putting his weight behind a call for companies to abide by a voluntary global standard and “is warning against the potential shortfalls of government intervention.” Also, Republican lawmakers are emerging as allies to businesses resistant to the looming transparency rules. “This is about solving a societal problem that does not align simply with the SEC's mission,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee. “I'd like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to stick to what they do and then for us in the elected class to make these large-scale societal decisions.” At the heart of the clash is a broader argument about how much control the government should have over business, a debate that will get more heated as the Biden administration moves to impose stricter regulations on the economy after four years of rollbacks by former President Donald Trump. The reluctance to embrace a large government role in climate policy is echoed by business groups in Washington, D.C., that are calling for flexible disclosure requirements. The campaign by Democrats is expected to trigger a lobbying blitz as companies try to shape regulations. An increasing number of corporations are responding to the pressure by releasing more climate data voluntarily, though industry representatives say companies are split on the issue. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute (API), two of the biggest business associations, are warning against rigid rules which could expose companies to legal trouble if they don't accurately report information. The API said it supports greater transparency but that rules "must be workable for different industries, support access to capital for all sectors and allow for companies' reporting to demonstrate the multiple pathways toward managing climate opportunities and risks." The Chamber argues that the regulations should allow for companies and their investors to determine the most relevant information to release. "There are people who are going to be reluctant to have any disclosure obligations imposed on public companies sort of broadly," said former SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, who is now a key player in crafting international climate reporting standards and supports mandatory disclosure. Republican officials are signaling that they will fight the effort, giving companies a powerful set of friends. Republican SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce told POLITICO she was skeptical that climate-related requirements could meet the standard of "material" information for investors. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who will be the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said, "Imposing a costly and prescriptive reporting regime would discourage firms from going public, reduce access to capital and slow economic growth, which means fewer jobs and opportunities for retail investors." BlackRock's Fink argues that many publicly traded companies are on track to manage their climate risk amid growing market pressure and that the government should focus on privately held firms that are taking on more carbon-intensive businesses. “We're going to see a vast change in the public company arena worldwide,” he said last week. We're not going to need really governmental change or regulatory change.” "There is, without question, significant and systemic risk to the financial system that is created by climate change," said Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., who wrote legislation with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. that would require the SEC to develop climate disclosure rules. "Yet if you are an investor and you want to understand how much of that risk you're exposed to, you don't have any unambiguous metric that says this is what your exposure is that's done in a consistent way." The official who's expected to lead the way for Democrats is Gary Gensler, Biden's nominee to chair the SEC. Gensler “took on the banks when he was the lead regulator writing financial trading rules after the 2008 Wall Street meltdown,” Shapiro said. “The U.S. needs to be participating with the rest of the world in dealing with these issues. That's something that Gary will be quite sensitive to." While some companies will resist government intervention, others see benefits in having regulators accelerate standard reporting metrics. But industry representatives say the methods used to measure and report climate impacts are still developing and it may be a gamble to codify them into federal rules. “You have this voluntary system out there," said Dorothy Donohue, deputy general counsel at the Investment Company Institute, which counts BlackRock among its members. Once you put it in a rule, it's a whole lot harder to change," she said. "That's not to say institutions won't get there, but I think at the moment when those numbers are being disclosed, I think people take them with a large pinch of salt.” So, we will see. This is a debate that is likely to intensify sharply and which could be very important to producers — and so, one that should be watched closely as it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


Democratic Senators Unveil Pandemic Relief For Farmers Of Color Four Democratic senators — Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan — introduced a bill aimed at delivering direct relief to Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic farmers and other agricultural producers of color affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Warnock said the effort also is aimed at addressing what he described as “longstanding inequity in agriculture.” The Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act would provide $5 billion to farmers of color as part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package being pushed by Democrats and President Joe Biden. The bill would provide $4 billion in direct relief payments to help farmers of color pay off outstanding USDA farm loan debts and related taxes, help them respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


Senate Panel Approves Regan Nomination to Top EPA Post The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 14-to-six Tuesday to approve the nomination of Michael Regan to serve as EPA Administrator. Four Republicans — Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska — joining the panel's 10 Democrats in support. The six Republicans voting no — Sens. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Boozman of Arkansas, and Joni Ernst of Iowa — indicated their vote was not so much against Regan as against the Biden administration's climate policies. “As an individual he is exactly the sort of person that I would like to see leading a federal agency but unfortunately officials in place at the White House and at the EPA have already set the agenda before he even achieves the office,” ranking member Capito said. “It is unclear whether Secretary Regan, if confirmed, would have any authority to stop the regulatory march towards the Green New Deal. Without clear commitments to oppose some policies that would economically devastate my state, I cannot support him.” It is not yet clear when his nomination will be taken up by the full Senate, but he is expected to be approved by the chamber to take the top EPA post.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets There has been a lot talk lately of increased inflation expectations so Wednesday's consumer price index report from the Labor Department is apt to get attention at 7:30 a.m. CST. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly report of energy inventories at 9:30 a.m., including a report on ethanol production. The U.S. Treasury Department reports on the federal budget for January at 1 p.m. CST. Traders will also pay attention to the latest weather forecasts and any news about export sales that might arise. Weather Wednesday features another day of bitter cold in the north-central U.S. At the edge of the cold wave, ice and snow will cause travel and safety hazards from the southeastern Plains through the Delta and Ohio Valley. The harsh cold pattern is indicated to remain in place through the next ten days.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 9, 2021 |


2020 Pork Exports Shatter Previous Records, December Beef Exports Outstanding U.S. pork exports reached nearly three million metric tons in 2020, topping the 2019 record by 11 percent, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Pork export value also climbed 11 percent to a record $7.71 billion. Exports set new annual records in China/Hong Kong, Central America, Vietnam and Chile, and achieved strong fourth-quarter growth in Japan and Mexico. Meanwhile, U.S. beef exports finished 2020 lower year-over-year, falling five percent in both volume at 1.25 million metric tons, and value at $7.65 billion. But beef exports finished the year with very strong momentum, with fourth-quarter volume up 4.5 percent from 2019 and posting one of the best months on record in December. Beef exports to China were record-large in 2020, and a new volume record was also achieved in Taiwan. U.S. lamb exports reached a record 20,045 metric in 2020, up 27 percent year-over-year, though export value fell nine percent to $23.8 million. ************************************************************************************ Farm Sector Profits Forecast to Decrease in 2021 The Department of Agriculture forecasts net farm income to decrease $9.8 billion, or 8.1 percent in 2021, to $11.4 billion. The decline is largely driven by less expected government assistance to producers. In inflation-adjusted 2021 dollars, net farm income is forecast to decrease $12 billion in 2021 after increasing $37.8 billion in 2020 to its highest level since 2013. Despite the decline, 2021 net farm income would be 21 percent above its 2000-19 average of $92.1 billion. After increasing a forecasted $27.3 billion in 2020, net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $7.9 billion to $128.3 billion in 2021. Net cash farm income encompasses cash receipts from farming and farm-related income, including government payments, minus cash expenses. Cash receipts are forecast to increase in 2021, but lower direct government farm payments are expected to drive most of the decline. Cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to increase $20.4 billion, or 5.5 percent, to $390.8 billion in 2021. ************************************************************************************ Democratic Lawmakers Seek End to Cuba Embargo Democrats in the Senate last week introduced a bill to end the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced the U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2021 to repeal sanctions on Cuba and establish normal trade relations with the island nation. Wyden stated, “To continue this outdated, harmful policy of isolation would be a failure of American leadership.” The embargo was first placed on Cuba in 1962. President Barack Obama attempted to normalize relations with Cuba, but President Donald Trump re-enforced regulations previously eased by Obama. The U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2021 would repeal the major statutes that codify sanctions against Cuba, including the Helms-Burton Act and the Cuban Democracy Act, as well as other provisions that affect trade, investment and travel with Cuba. It would also establish normal trade relations with the country. Senate Democrats Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Durban of Illinois, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon Joined Wyden on the bill. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Ethanol Exports Surpass 1.3 Billion Gallons for 2020 Data from the Department of Agriculture shows U.S. ethanol exports for 2020 totaled 1.3 billion gallons, down 9.8 percent from 2019 and hovering around 2017 levels. However, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, "we're optimistic to see worldwide ethanol demand continue to provide U.S. producers with market opportunities." Canada took over as the top export market for U.S. ethanol, with 326.4 million gallons for the year. Growth Energy says Canada continues to be a global leader in the use of biofuels, which is expected to grow with their Clean Fuel Standard as well as provincial moves to higher biofuel blends. Brazil dropped to the second U.S. export market, at 188.8 million gallons, a 40 percent difference from 2019, due to tariff issues between the U.S. and Brazilian governments. In India, the U.S. saw a 9.1 percent increase at 189.6 million gallons. The fourth-largest export market in 2020 was South Korea, followed by the Netherlands. ************************************************************************************ United Fresh Launches 2021 Produce Industry Compensation Survey The United Fresh Produce Association Monday launched its 2021 Compensation Survey for the fresh produce industry. The data collected will be published in a report that will assist produce industry employers in understanding critical compensation benchmarks. For 2021, additions to the survey include two new positions focused on sustainability, and a series of questions related to how companies have changed their salary and benefit practices in the wake of COVID-19. The survey also will collect compensation and benefits data from produce companies for more than 30 full-time positions. The survey is open to any U.S. or Canadian-based produce employer, including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler-distributors, importers, exporters, and fresh-cut processors. The survey is administered every two years, and the results will be published this June in a detailed report designed to help produce companies directly compare their salaries and benefits for more than thirty full-time positions. The survey is open at www.unitedfreshsurvey.com to any U.S. or Canadian-based produce company until March 12. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Continue Rise, Demand Down Slightly The national average gas price increased for the fifth consecutive week, rising 3.7 cents per gallon over the last week to $2.45. The national average price of diesel was up 3.8 cents in the last week and stands at $2.68 per gallon. However, U.S. gasoline demand fell slightly for the week ending Saturday, the second straight week of decline. Patrick DeHaan of Gas Buddy says many factors are behind the increase, but “at the foundation of the rise is the fact that the coronavirus situation continues to improve, pushing global oil demand higher as production continues to lag, pushing U.S. gas prices higher.” Until OPEC raises oil production in the months ahead, DeHaan expects the trend to continue. Crude oil prices carried their rally into the new week, as it continues to push higher as rebounding global demand brings concerns that oil production isn’t returning fast enough. Since November, crude oil prices have skyrocketed over 60 percent.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 9, 2021 |


Washington Insider: China Policy Evaluated Bloomberg is reporting this week that the China policy debate in Washington is often framed in terms of toughness and as a binary choice — President Joe Biden is either going to be tough or soft on China and former President Donald Trump's “Tariff Man” approach to the relationship is frequently the benchmark used, the report says. However, Bloomberg thinks that the “more clarifying question” is whether Biden and his team will craft an “intelligent” approach to China that likely will be “the most significant strategic competitor the U.S. faces.” Last weekend, President Biden told the press that he plans a “new strategy” built around U.S. allies and global rules. “I'm not going to do it the way Trump did,” he said. It's still unclear what that means in concrete terms in a world where commercial and geopolitical imperatives often clash. Allies in the European Union have their own strategic concerns yet still want an investment treaty with China to solidify economic links. Likewise, General Motors and Tesla still want to sell a lot of cars in the Asian nation. Biden's new trade policy ideas also have come amid evidence that while President Trump may have installed China fears atop the American foreign policy agenda, his own trade strategy did not deliver the economic gains promised. The pandemic's effects on the global economy put a big asterisk on any analysis. But the numbers are stark. The U.S. had 150,000 fewer manufacturing workers in January 2021 than it did in January 2017, the month President Trump took office, Bloomberg said last week. U.S. data for 2020 put the annual U.S. deficit in goods trade with China at $310.8 billion, $36 billion less than at the end of 2016. That looks good for Trump, until you see that trade just went elsewhere, Bloomberg argues. The gap in goods with Vietnam was up by more than $37 billion over the same period. The shortfall with Mexico increased by $49.5 billion. The total annual U.S. goods and services deficit with the world grew by $197.5 billion, or 41%, during Trump's term. The new president's team is also reviewing the “Phase One” deal that Trump signed with China a year ago. And Beijing also hasn't delivered so far on the first year of the two-year deal that calls for China to purchase $200 billion in additional U.S. goods over a 2017 benchmark. Though, again, that has a pandemic asterisk on it. Bloomberg's economic experts say that, “Trump's legacy was to break an unbalanced relationship, one that delivered more benefits to China than the U.S.” It thinks that Biden's task will be to build a new approach, with U.S. interests at the center. Breaking things is quick. Building them takes longer. While the new framework for U.S.-China relations has the potential to substantially reshape economies and markets around the world, it's not going to happen right away, Bloomberg warns. In a new accounting released Sunday, Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics found Chinese purchases in 2020 fell 40% short of the deal's targets for that year. In 2020, U.S. manufacturing exports to China were still down 14% from when President Trump's trade war started in 2017, Bown calculated — which “Bloomberg thinks isn't good,” even if Boeing's 737 Max travails account for some of that. Those metrics also come against a continuing debate over the cost in U.S. jobs of competing with China. In a celebrated 2016 paper, David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson estimated that between 1999 and 2011, increased imports from China — the “China Shock” — killed 2.4 million jobs in the U.S. But it turns out one of the most commonly used U.S. trade-defense mechanisms, anti-dumping tariffs, may have caused their own labor-market carnage. In a recent working paper, Bown, Paola Conconi, Aksel Erbahar and Lorenzo Trimarchi calculate that the higher cost of imported inputs caused by those tariffs leveled at China caused the U.S. economy to create 1.8 million fewer jobs in downstream industries between 1988 and 2016 than it might have otherwise. A further 500,000 jobs were lost in the first two years of President Trump's presidency. The industries the tariffs ostensibly protected showed no meaningful job gains, the report says. The policy lessons are messy because the relationships are complex. To get anti-dumping tariffs, petitioners have to prove “injury” via lost jobs or revenues. An industry needs a tangible “China shock” to secure tariffs that may lead to job losses among its clients. Lost jobs equal tariffs equal more lost jobs. Anti-dumping tariffs aren't the only ones in place. Trump imposed duties on more than $300 billion in Chinese imports that are now being reviewed by the Biden administration. Even before the pandemic, these are often blamed for costly supply-chain disruptions and even a U.S. manufacturing recession. They also are often seen as contributing to a rotation of production out of China to Mexico and Vietnam, a geopolitical win if not an economic one. How Biden digests all this is yet to be seen. Most of his nominees still need Senate confirmation and are navigating Washington politics by doing their best to look tough — for now. It's going to be a while before we learn just how intelligent their new China policy will be. Bloomberg also noted that in a nod to the WTO, the U.S. gave its formal backing to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, removing the final obstacle to her bid to be the first woman and the first African to run the Geneva-based trade body. Also backed by the EU, Japan and China, world leaders hope Okonjo-Iweala can help steer the WTO out of its negotiating morass and help it deal with the modern, more complex global trading system. So, we will see. Clearly, there is a, broad, intense interest about the details that are yet to emerge and define the new trade policies — and intense debates can be expected as these are proposed and implemented, a process that producers should watch closely as it continues, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 9, 2021 |


USDA Farm Income Forecast Reflects Rising Crop, Livestock Receipts USDA issued its first 2021 farm income forecast Friday, indicating it would be down from the 2020 level for both net farm income and net cash farm income. The downturn in forecast 2021 farm income comes mostly on the decline in expected government payments — falling from a record $47 billion in 2020 to $23 billion in 2021. The drop in government payments more than offset what is forecast to be increased receipts to farmers from their crops and livestock. But this will not be USDA's final word on 2021 farm income. At this point in 2020, their farm income outlook for that year lacked the eventual government payments that flowed to U.S. agriculture via two rounds of COVID aid.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 9, 2021 |


US Ag Exports Set Fresh Record In December U.S. ag exports totaled $15.91 billion in December, setting a new record for the month and marking the first time that value of U.S. ag exports has topped $15 billion three months in a row. The prior monthly record was $15.82 billion that was set in December 2013. The December total was up from $15.48 billion in November. Imports of ag products totaled $11.65 billion, up from $11.37 billion in November. That left a trade surplus of $4.26 billion for the month. USDA forecasts U.S. ag exports at $152 billion in FY 2021 against imports of $137 billion for a surplus of $15 billion. Three months into FY 2021, exports already total over 30% of the forecast for the entire FY. The highest totals for U.S. ag exports typically have come in the first quarter of a fiscal year, so it will be interesting to see if the sector registers another month at or above $15 billion. While USDA does not forecast a trade surplus level — it is a function of their export forecast minus their import forecast — the total so far is just above 79% of the total. But the period for the largest imports still lies ahead in the March-June timeframe. After starting FY 2020 with strong surpluses for the first three months, the trade data saw monthly deficits in six of the next seven months. The final result for FY 2020 saw exports at $135.87 billion against imports of $133.22 billion for a trade surplus of $5.7 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 9, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Aside from the usual attention to weather forecasts and daily watch for export sales announcements, Tuesday's main attention will fall on USDA's February WASDE report, due out at 11 a.m. CST. Traders are expecting USDA to make reductions in the U.S. ending stocks estimates of both corn and soybeans. Otherwise, there are no significant economic reports on Tuesday's schedule. Weather Arctic-origin cold air will spread across the north central U.S. Tuesday. Dangerous wind chill values of -30 F or colder are in store. Winter storm conditions are also indicated for the Ohio Valley with freezing precipitation and snow. The Southeast has shower and thunderstorm activity indicated. In the southwest Plains, freezing fog will be hazardous for travel and livestock, and is stressful for winter wheat. The harsh cold continues through the remainder of the week.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 8, 2021 |


USDA Extends General Signup for Conservation Reserve Program The USDA is extending the general signup period for the Conservation Reserve Program, which was supposed to end on February 12. USDA will continue to accept offers as it takes the opportunity for the incoming Administration to evaluate ways to increase enrollment. Under the previous Administration, incentives and rental payment rates were reduced, which resulted in a shortfall over more than four million acres. The program is administered by the Farm Service Agency and provides annual rental payments for 10 to 15 years for land devoted to conservation purposes and other types of payments. Before the General CRP Signup Period ends, producers will get the opportunity to adjust or resubmit their offers to take advantage of planned improvements to the program. “The Conservation Reserve Program provides a tremendous opportunity to address climate change both by retiring marginal cropland and by restoring grasslands, wetlands, and forests,” says Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the USDA Secretary. Program successes include sequestering more than 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in soils and plants, which is about the same amount that the state of Delaware emits annually. Also, more than two billion tons of soil haven’t blown away due to wind erosion. ********************************************************************************************** Kansas Cattleman Jerry Bohn Elected New NCBA President The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association wrapped up its virtual Winter Business Meeting by electing Kansas cattle producer Jerry Bohn as its new president. Bohn is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. His early days included custom grazing cattle with his family in Flint Hills, Kansas, before moving on to Kansas State University. Bohn also served 34 years as the manager of a commercial cattle feeding operation called Pratt Feeders. “As I look forward to this year as NCBA President, I have immense pride in the cattle industry and our dues-paying members that help to make this the leading cattle organization representing U.S. producers,” Bohn says. “Becoming president is my greatest honor and an opportunity to give back to the industry that made me who I am today.” Don Schiefelbein (SHEEF-ehl-byne) of Minnesota was named president-elect, and Todd Wilkinson of South Dakota was elected vice president. “The grassroots power of our members and state affiliates is the reason I’m proud to represent the NCBA as President and is the reason I get up every day, ready to fight for the American producer,” Bohn adds. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Sets 2021 Policy Priorities The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association set its top 2021 policy priorities that feature a focus on advocating for a business climate that increases opportunities for producer profitability. “There’s no doubt last year was a difficult one for cattle producers and we must work to implement sound policy and focus our attention on the legislative and regulatory areas that’ll give U.S. cattle producers the most added value,” says new NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “I am looking forward to working together with volunteer leadership, state affiliates, and stakeholders around the country to tackle the most pressing issues facing our industry.” Policy priorities include price discovery and transparency in cattle markets, which are a concern for NCBA members, making it an organizational priority. The organization will continue to ensure that all alternative plant-based or cell-grown protein products are labeled truthfully, and their ingredients are fully represented. NCBA is committed to protecting those in the cattle industry while strengthening the beef supply chain to meet the growing demand for American beef. Removing non-tariff barriers to increase worldwide markets for U.S. beef is another top priority for the NCBA. The organization will also emphasize to government officials that the U.S. cattle industry is the global model for sustainable beef production ************************************************************************************ Corn Exports Set a Record Corn export sales set a record last week, while soybean and wheat sales surged higher. China led all buyers, but especially in corn. The USDA says U.S. corn sales to overseas buyers totaled 7.44 million metric tons for the week ending January 29, the highest level since 1990. The agency says China purchased 5.86 million metric tons. Japan was next at close to 503,000 metric tons, and Mexico bought 403,700 tons. Export sales totaled 995,000 metric tons during the week ending January 29. That’s down 30 percent week-to-week and 17 percent from the previous four-week average. Soybean sales totaled 824,000 metric tons, up 77 percent from the previous week and four percent over the previous four-week average. China was the big soybean buyer at 598,900 metric tons, followed by Mexico at 121,400 tons, and the Netherlands bought 115,500 tons. Exports during the week ending on January 29 totaled 1.96 million metric tons, down 11 percent from the previous seven-day period and seven percent compared to the previous four-week average. Wheat sales also jumped higher, rising 69 percent from the prior week to 643,100 metric tons. Once again, China was the biggest buyer, purchasing 134,000 metric tons. ********************************************************************************************** Brazil Ag Minister Confirms Big Grain Crop Ahead Tereza Cristina Dias, Brazil’s Agriculture Minister, confirmed late last week that the country’s government expects their farmers will harvest bumper crops of soybeans and corn. Those expectations come despite significant planting and harvest delays. A drought late last year delayed planting soybeans in Brazil, and excess rainfall disrupted harvesting in January. Slower deliveries to Brazilian grain trading companies have affected the country’s ability to export commodities around the world. Speaking at an event marketing the beginning of harvest, Dias reaffirmed that farmers would reap up to 133 million tons of soybeans and potentially more than 103 million tons of corn this year. “Our goal is to produce more each year and break records,” Dias says. Reuters says Brazil’s 2020-2021 soybean harvest only reached 1.9 percent of the cultivated area through January 28, the slowest pace for this time of year in the past ten growing seasons. Brazil’s second-corn crop, which makes up the bulk of its total corn production, is planted after soybean harvest wraps up. With those delays, the second corn crop may finish outside the ideal window, and that might put an upside limit on the yield. *********************************************************************************************** Study Shows Precision Agriculture Improves Stewardship The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association, and CropLife America released a new study on precision ag. The study shows that widely available precision agriculture technology improves environmental stewardship while providing a solid economic return for farmers. “We’re living in a new age of technology, and the equipment can have an enormous positive impact on farmers and the environment,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Agriculture at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The study shows several benefits, including a yield benefit through increased efficiency, reduced fertilizer usage due to more precise placement, fuel savings due to less overlap and better monitoring, and water savings through more accurate sensing of needs. “The reductions in greenhouse gases this study illustrates shows that modern agriculture is part of the climate solution,” says Kellie Bray, Chief of Staff at CropLife America. “Fuel savings alone due to precision ag tools is the yearly equivalent of taking almost 200,000 cars off the road.” Fossil fuel use has decreased an estimated six percent due to precision agriculture, and it has the potential to drop by as much as 16 percent.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 8, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Relatively Weak New Job Numbers Well, there is a lot of tea-leaf reading over last week's jobs report, the Washington Post — and many others — are reporting this week. The Post says the “data come as negotiations over a new stimulus package heats up in Congress and found that the U.S. gained back a paltry 49,000 jobs in January, “a sign that the economic recovery may be faltering under ongoing pressure from the coronavirus.” It reported that the unemployment rate fell to 6.3% from 6.7% in December, but that decline was driven by more than 400,000 people who left the workforce instead of getting jobs. And, it concluded that the January data, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is another reminder of how much ground the labor market still needs to regain to return to pre-pandemic levels. The U.S. now has more than 9.8 million fewer jobs than it did in February 2020, recovering less than half of what was lost during the early days of the pandemic. The report dramatized the situation by estimating that “at January's growth rate, it would take more than 16 years to regain all of those jobs.” And, it cited expert opinions that were equally gloomy. “We lost momentum over the winter and the wounds are getting deeper, which opens the door to more scarring,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton LLP. “Everyone keeps waiting for this to be a temporary phenomenon. But when you're a year into it, you have to stop waiting for the next bounce and start worrying about what the long-term costs are—and how much this sets us back over the long haul.” The report found that rapid job loss continued in the leisure and hospitality industry, which shed 61,000 jobs as layoffs hit amusement and gambling businesses, hotels, restaurants and bars. Retailers lost another 38,000 jobs after an uptick during the holiday season. Health-care facilities lost 30,000 jobs, transportation and warehousing, 28,000. The report also showed that the labor market was weaker late last year than initially estimated. There were 72,000 fewer jobs created in November than originally reported. In December, the United States lost 227,000 jobs rather than the 140,000 initially estimated, the BLS said. Even a lone bright spot on the report came with an asterisk: 97,000 jobs were added in the professional and business services sector, but 81,000 of those were temporary. The report comes as Democrats move closer to passing President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, the Post said. The proposal would extend unemployment benefits through September as well as provide $1,400 stimulus checks for many Americans. Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on Friday that the jobs report “underscores the urgent need for the president's rescue plan,” citing particularly weak job growth in the private sector. “That is a labor market stall,” he said. “We have a plan in the wings that can finally get American families and businesses to the other side of this crisis.” President Biden, in brief remarks, told reporters that the numbers underscored the scope of the economic crisis. “This is about people's lives. This is not just about numbers,” he said. “They are really hurting. Just look at all the number of people who are needing and seeking mental health help.” The pandemic's disproportionate impacts on minorities and women were also reflected in the labor report. Unemployment rates for minorities continue to significantly outpace the 6% rate of White people — 8.6% for Hispanics, 9.2% for Black people and 6.6% for Asians. Of the more than 4 million people who left the workforce in January, nearly 60% are women, Swonk noted. And the data show that many of the unemployed have been suffering for a long period. About 3.5 million people once considered temporarily unemployed have now permanently lost their jobs, the BLS said. Of the overall 10 million people currently unemployed, about 40% have been out of work for more than six months. Meanwhile, the number of people filling new jobless claims remain well above pre-pandemic records, far outpacing previous crises. And the disproportionate impact on low-income workers combined with the unique circumstances of the pandemic likely helped conceal the true depths of the crisis, Swonk said. Coronavirus cases have recently started trending down after the deadliest month so far during the pandemic and economists expect that the declining caseload will speed an economic rebound in the spring. But they remain concerned about the threats posed by new, more transmissible variants—another potential complication for the recovery. So, we will see. A major development is the new downward trend in coronavirus cases, along with new threats to the recovery — trends that are vital to the economic outlook and which producers should watch especially closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 8, 2021 |


FAO Makes Major Downward Revision For Global, China Corn Stocks China's large imports of corn on the global market prompted the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to “undertake a further review of its maize supply and demand balance sheet for China.” The big imports and high domestic prices, FAO said, “point to much higher feed utilization in China than earlier anticipated, and hence a much greater drawdown of stocks than earlier estimates suggested.” FAO said their review resulted in changes to China's balance sheet starting from the 2013-14 season. The FAO raised its global corn utilization forecast for 2020-21 to 1.179 billion metric tons, up 21.4 mmt from 2019/20, with China's use pegged at 190 mmt, up 15.5 mmt from December. China's 2020-21 corn carryover is now pegged at around 139 mmt, down nearly 54 mmt from December. The agency puts China's corn imports at 20 mmt, up 10 mmt from December. “The revision reflects exceptionally large purchases in recent weeks, primarily from the United States of America,” FAO said. Attention now shifts to USDA's WASDE report February 9 where the agency has maintained its forecast for Chinese imports of corn at 17.5 mmt. The U.S. ag attache in Beijing is carrying a China 2020-21 corn import figure of 22 mmt.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 8, 2021 |


South Korea's Yoo Drops Out Of WTO Chief Race The next leader of the WTO appears set to be former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the wake of South Korean Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Yoo Myung-hee ending her bid to lead the world trade body. "Due to the prolonged vacancy of the leadership at the WTO, the future of the organization also has become uncertain," Yoo said at a briefing in Seoul, according to Yonhap News. "To speed up the consensus building among the member countries on selecting a new director-general, I have decided to renounce my candidacy through close cooperation with the United States, our strong ally." Her last statement suggests she has coordinated the withdrawal or at least alerted the U.S. to her decision. The Trump administration had blocked the naming of Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala, with then-U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arguing that the trade body needed to be headed up by someone with trade experience. The Biden administration said Friday they now strongly backed putting the Nigerian atop the world trade body, setting the stage for that to happen soon.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 8, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets As the central U.S. endures its coldest temperatures of the season, traders will be paying close attention to the latest weather forecasts and will pause at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. Weekly grain inspections are due out at 10 a.m. CST. There are no significant economic reports on Monday's docket. Weather Bitter cold air will cover the northern and central crop areas Monday. This cold wave will cause travel, transport and safety hazards along with stress to livestock and some cold damage threat to winter wheat. Some light mixed precipitation is in store for the southern Plains and Ohio Valley along with light snow in the northwestern Plains. Wind chill threats are also prominent in northern areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 5, 2021 |


McConnell Announces Senate Committee Assignments Senate Republicans announced their committee assignments this week, following the same announcement by Senate Democrats. For the Senate Agriculture Committee, new members include Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville and Roger Marshall of Kansas. The pair take seats previously occupied by retired chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. Marshall was expected to join the agriculture committee, previously serving on the House Agriculture Committee before being elected to the Senate. Marshall was also assigned to the Senate Committee on Health, Education and Labor, the Small Business Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Marshall states, “As a fifth-generation farm kid, someone who has spent many years leading businesses in a variety of fields, and as a physician, I look forward to adding the Kansas perspective to each of these committees.” For the 117th Congress, committees will have an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on each committee due to the 50-50 Senate composition. ************************************************************************************ WHO Food Price Index Increases Again in January The January Food Price Index averaged 113.3 points, or 4.3 percent higher than in December 2020. The index reached the eighth month of consecutive increases and registered its highest monthly average since July 2014. The latest increase reflected strong gains in the sugar, cereals and vegetable oils sub-indices, while meat and dairy values were also up but to a lesser extent. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published the data Thursday. Global cereal grains rose 7.1 percent in January, as row crop prices rise, and vegetable oil prices were up 5.8 percent. Dairy prices were reported 1.6 percent higher. In January, butter and whole milk powder price quotations increased, underpinned by China’s high purchases ahead of its upcoming New Year holiday festivities. Meat prices were up one percent from December, but down 7.3 percent from this time last year. Sugar prices were up 8.1 percent in January, reaching levels not seen since May of 2017. ************************************************************************************ Senators Urging EPA to Restore Integrity to RFS Farm state Senators urge the Environmental Protection Agency to "restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard." Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, along with 13 Senate colleagues, made the request in a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Jane Nishida. The Senators urged the EPA to review three small refinery exemption waivers issued last-minute by the former EPA Administrator, and evaluate if those waivers comply with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The letter states, "If these waivers do not meet the three-part test laid out in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, then we urge you to immediately reverse them and deny the refiners' waiver requests." The lawmakers also urged the EPA to swiftly issue a proposed rule for the 2021 Renewable Volume Obligation, which they say will provide growth in all renewable fuel categories and move forward with the E15 streamlining proposal to remove certain barriers to expanded sales of E15. ************************************************************************************ Thune, Shaheen Reintroduce Bill to Advance Renewable Fuel Technologies Legislation reintroduced Thursday would approve certain advanced biofuel registrations that have gone without approval by the Environmental Protection Agency, despite the fuels already being successfully used in at least one state. Senators John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, reintroduced the bill they say will strengthen the biofuel industry. Under the bill, the EPA would also be required to render a decision within 90 days on any registration application that has been pending for at least 180 days and take action within 180 days for completed pathways petitions pending for at least 180 days. The bill would also provide $2 million for the EPA to carry out the functions of the bill. Pathways are the feedstock method through which certain renewable fuels may be created, while registrations are individual facility certifications for producers affirming that their renewable fuel meets the standard required by the pathway. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces More Key Staff Appointments The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced more key staff appointments. Anne Knapke was named deputy assistant secretary for congressional relations. Knapke was recently a senior program officer focusing on nutrition at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Liz Archuleta was named director in the Intergovernmental affairs office. She served as a County Supervisor for Coconino County, Arizona, where she was the first Latina ever elected to that office. Jasmine Dickerson was named Legislative Director in the congressional relations office. Dickerson served as staff director for the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Departmental Operations on the House Agriculture Committee. Jamal Habibi was named chief of staff for the Rural Housing Service. He previously was a senior associate at the Opportunity Finance Network. During the Obama Administration, he served as an outreach director at the Treasury Department, and a Special Assistant at USDA. Finally, Brandon Chaderton was named deputy White House liaison in the Secretary’s office. Most recently, he served as human resources director for the 2021 Presidential Inaugural Committee. ************************************************************************************ Below Average Runoff Forecast for the Upper Missouri River Basin in 2021 The updated 2021 calendar year runoff forecast for the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, continues to be below average. Missouri River Basin Water Management Chief John Remus says, “Both plains snowpack and mountain snowpack continue to lag behind seasonal averages, and soil moisture continues to be much drier-than-normal.” January 2021 runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City was 1.1 million acre-feet, 141 percent of average. The above-average January runoff was primarily due to above-normal temperatures melting any accumulated plains snowpack and inhibiting river ice formation. The 2021 calendar year runoff forecast above Sioux City is 22.9 million acre-feet, 89 percent of average. The runoff forecast is based on soil moisture conditions, plains snowpack, mountain snowpack, and long-term precipitation and temperature outlooks. Mountain snowpack in the upper Basin is accumulating at below-average rates. The January 31 mountain snowpack in the Fort Peck reach was 78 percent of average, while the mountain snowpack in the Fort Peck to Garrison reach was 79 percent of average.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 5, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Policy to Focus on Middle Class President Joe Biden's “foreign policy for the middle class” is less pithy than Donald Trump's “America First.” But for a world trying to gauge the new U.S. leadership, and an electorate with an uneasy relationship with globalization and other disruptive economic forces, it may be just as consequential. Bloomberg reports this week that Biden's “promise to the world” is reengagement, whether on issues from which the U.S. has been absent, such as climate change, or in multilateral institutions his predecessor sought to blow up, such as the World Health Organization. But National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior aides are also making it clear that it doesn't portend a return to a pre-Trump model. The big idea is that Washington had gradually shifted toward the interests of “corporations and investors,” the same economic grievance that Trump harnessed: “the elites sold us out.” The consequences of that perceived betrayal are seen as rising inequality, stagnant median household incomes, and employment shocks caused by the rise of China and technological change. In the wake of Trump's victory, some graduates of the Obama administration including Sullivan embraced the idea that U.S. policymakers had failed for too long to acknowledge the fallout from globalization. Thus, Obama team members joined some centrist Republican policy veterans to devise alternatives. Among the efforts was the establishment of a bipartisan task force under the auspices of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington, D.C., think tank where Obama's former commerce secretary, Penny Pritzker, chairs the board of trustees with a goal of creating a foreign policy that works better for the middle class. The group involved officials now in senior roles in the Biden administration: Salman Ahmed, a member of Obama's National Security Council and Sullivan, who advised Biden on national security matters when he was vice president. Among other things, the group called for the drafting of a “national competitiveness strategy” to coordinate public and private investment. One overarching theme was the need for greater coordination between foreign and domestic policy to support a better job of equipping U.S. workers with the skills they need to adapt to shifts in the labor markets. In some cases that means international priorities taking a back seat to domestic ones, an idea the Biden administration has endorsed early on. “We have to put ourselves in a position to deal with the challenges around the world,” from the “great power” battle with China to nuclear proliferation, Sullivan told a Jan. 29 U.S. Institute for Peace forum in which he repeatedly emphasized the need for a focus on domestic problems. “I don't think you are going to see this administration trade off the bread-and-butter economic issues for strategic priorities,” he said. What a foreign policy for the middle class will mean in practice remains an open question, and spokespeople like Sullivan and Ahmed are still declining requests for interviews, Bloomberg said. But other members of the Carnegie task force insist that what the Biden administration is pursuing is more than just a reframing of past internationalist policies or a relabeling of Trump's “America First.” In a recent “listening session,” researchers traveled to Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio to sound out middle-class Americans on topics ranging from defense spending and foreign aid to trade and tariffs. What they heard was neither great enthusiasm for Trump's brand of protectionism nor the slavish devotion to free markets that came before, says task-force member Tom Wyler, who served as Pritzker's top international economic adviser at the Commerce Department and now works for her investment firm, PSP Partners LLC. That means the world ought to be ready for a U.S. that has a sharper view of its own economic interests, Wyler says. Also emerging from the task force's work was a recognition of past missteps. In hindsight the proper U.S. response 30 years ago to globalization fueled by China's rise, the growth of the internet, and the rapid decline in transportation costs would have been a congressionally mandated flood of public investment in education, infrastructure, and R&D, says task force member Christopher Smart, an alumnus of the Obama National Security Council who's now chief global strategist at investment bank Barings. “Is that a realistic scenario of what could have happened? Probably not,” he says. “But it's probably what should have happened.” So why not make it happen now, as Biden has proposed? A preview of Biden's approach could be found in the documents accompanying a “Buy American” executive order the president signed on Jan. 25. The decree itself did little more than close loopholes that allow exemptions from rules requiring federal departments to buy U.S.-made products. But the press release also noted the administration was “committed to working with partners and allies to modernize international trade rules.” That also could be read as a preamble to a broader discussion about subsidies, an issue that's sure to come to the fore as governments search for ways to boost domestic production of strategic materials. Some progressives seeking a broader remake of U.S. policy and institutions, such as the WTO, worry Biden will focus too much on wooing allies. “I hope it won't just be that—four years of soothing people's ruffled feathers,” says Thea Lee, head of the progressive Economic Policy Institute. Then again, Lee adds, the crises Biden inherited offer opportunities. “It certainly creates the space for building something new.” So, we will see. These are high-stakes policy decisions that producers should watch closely as the new Trade Regime is debated and begins to be implemented Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 5, 2021 |


December DMC Payments Triggered By Price Margins Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) payments for December 2020 are triggered for some coverage levels as the national average margin for December was at $8.78 per hundredweight. That will trigger payments for Tier 1 margin trigger coverage levels of $9 of 22 cents per hundredweight and $9.50 margin trigger coverage levels of 72 cents per hundredweight. DMC payments are triggered when the difference between the National all milk price and the National average feed cost (the margin) falls below the producer selected margin trigger, ranging from Tier 1 from $4 to $9.50, and Tier 2 from $4 to $8, calculated monthly.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 5, 2021 |


Senate Adopts Organizing Resolution Allowing Committee Roles Set The Senate unanimously adopted an organizing resolution that sets the ground rules for a chamber evenly divided between the two parties and officially gives Democrats control of committees after two weeks of talks. The chamber is split 50-50, and Democrats hold the majority because Vice President Kamala Harris can break any tie votes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the deal is almost identical to a 2001 agreement and “will allow the Senate to be fairly run as an evenly split body.” McConnell announced the Senate Republican committee assignments for the 117th Congress. He said newly elected Sens. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., would join the returning members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, making a total of 11 Republican members.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 5, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The first Friday of February brings out the U.S. unemployment report for January at 7:30 a.m. CST, along with the change in U.S. nonfarm payrolls and the U.S. trade deficit for December. Later Friday morning, USDA will release export data for several ag products and we'll be able to see the level of China's U.S. ag purchases in 2020. Traders will continue to watch for any export sales announcements and examine the latest weather forecasts. Weather Dry conditions are in store for most primary crop areas Friday. A bitter cold pattern with periods of snow and strong winds is indicated to cover much of the northern and central U.S. during the weekend. The cold pattern expands through the south and southeast during the next seven days.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 4, 2021 |


Schumer Announces Senate Committee Assignments Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Democratic Committee memberships this week. The announcement appoints Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan as Senate Agriculture Committee Chair. Stabenow also holds membership on the Senate Budget Committee, Finance Committee, along with the Environment and Public Works Committee. Delaware’s Tom Carper will chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Schumer also added New Jersey’s Corey Booker, Georgia Raphael Warnock, and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico to the Ag Committee. Booker is a self-described vegan and is critical of large-scale animal agriculture and farm checkoff programs. In 2016, he introduced the Commodity Check Off Reform Bill. In a press release this week, Booker stated, “Our food system is deeply broken,” adding, “Family farmers are struggling, and their farms are disappearing, while big agriculture conglomerates get bigger and enjoy greater profits.” Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey is leaving the Senate Ag Committee and will chair the Senate Aging Committee. Senate Republican leaders have yet to announce their committee membership appointments. ************************************************************************************ More Farmers Plan to get COVID-19 Vaccine A question in the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer finds more farmers say they will get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Ag Economy Barometer for January, released this week, finds producers' attitudes about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine have shifted since the fall, with nearly six out of ten producers, 58 percent, planning to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Just 24 percent of producers said the same in October of last year. Still, 28 percent of farmers say they will not get the vaccine, compared with 37 percent in October. The Ag Economy Barometer is calculated each month from 400 U.S. agricultural producers’ responses to a telephone survey. This month’s survey was conducted from January 18-22, 2021. Last month, the Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor reported three in ten people in rural areas say they will "definitely get" the vaccine, compared to four in ten people in urban areas and suburban areas. ************************************************************************************ ERS: Rural Residents More Vulnerable to Serious COVID-19 Infections A new report from the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service finds rural residents appear to be more vulnerable to serious infection or death from COVID-19. USDA says since the most recent surge beginning in late September, the highest case rates were in rural counties, particularly those that have no town larger than 2,499 residents. In late November and early December, infection rates in rural areas appeared to be slowing, while new cases in urban areas continued to grow. Rural COVID-19 deaths per 100 infections were 1.86 in the first two weeks of December, 48 percent higher than the corresponding urban rate of 1.26. USDA says the rural population appears to be more vulnerable to serious infection in several ways, including age and underlying medical conditions. The report says People may also be more vulnerable when they have difficulty accessing medical care, measured as lacking health insurance, or residing more than 32 miles from a county with an intensive care hospital. ************************************************************************************ R-CALF Organizing E-mail Blitz in Favor of COOL R-CALF this week urged ranchers to send emails to the White House in favor of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for beef. The organization issued an action alert saying, “emails needed this week to the White House and calls needed to congress for M-COOL.” Following the email, the organization asks members to call the White House, and tell their members of Congress the same line, “I’m a farmer/rancher/consumer and I need Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling for beef.” Tom Vilsack, the nominee for Agriculture Secretary under the Biden administration, said during his confirmation hearing, “I am absolutely willing to listen to anybody who has an idea,” regarding COOL. Responding to a question from Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, Vilsack stated, "I would be happy to work with you and your staff on anything that would allow us to advance country of origin labeling.” The latest attempt at COOL was largely blocked by the World Trade Organization, which allowed Canada and Mexico to place punitive tariffs on the U.S. in response to COOL. ************************************************************************************ NMPF: 2021 Holds Promise National Milk Producers Federation President CEO Jim Mulhern says 2021 holds promise, with a big to-do list. In the new Congress, the organization seeks to advance dairy's needs within COVID-19 relief legislation. Meanwhile, child nutrition programs are up for reauthorization, offering a chance to maintain and expand dairy options in school meals and build upon the strong reaffirmation of dairy's nutritional value in the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to NMPF. On ag labor, Mulhern says all of agriculture continues to need legislation that provides permanent legal status for current workers, and dairy needs a guestworker program that meets its unique needs. Mulhern says climate-related legislation will give dairy the opportunity to advance the goals of the Net Zero Initiative that NMPF and partners launched in 2019 to reduce the sector's carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 and improve water quality. NMPF published these policy priorities, along with others, on its website, www.nmpf.org. ************************************************************************************ Biofuels Groups Welcome GREET Act Reintroduction Growth Energy announced its support for legislation reintroduced Wednesday requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to update its greenhouse gas modeling for ethanol and biodiesel. Introduced by Senators John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, and Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, the bill would change EPA greenhouse gas modeling to "accurately reflect the greenhouse gas reductions achieved by biofuels." EPA would then be required to update its modeling every five years or report to Congress to affirm its modeling is current or otherwise explain why no updates were made. The Adopt Greenhouse Gas and Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation, or GREET Act, was previously introduced in the last session of Congress. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “updating the modeling at EPA is long overdue and necessary to fully reflect biofuels’ potential to decarbonize the transportation sector.” Meanwhile, National Corn Growers Association President John Linder stated, “This bill will ensure EPA uses the most recent science and data to accurately measure the greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits of ethanol.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 4, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Thinking About Inflation The New York Times published a retrospective on inflation this week, observing that there are growing signs just now, appearing in some business surveys, with companies looking to raise prices as they prepare for a post-pandemic economy. And they are apparent in the news media, from magazine covers to financial news segments. But there is little evidence of “actual inflation,” the Times says. “The Consumer Price Index in December showed only a 1.4% rise in prices over the last year. And top Federal Reserve officials made clear in recent days that they (still) view too-low inflation as the bigger risk to the economy, not soaring prices. How can one reconcile the inflation talk, with the absence of actual inflation? It's easier than you might imagine, the Times says. It “helps to think of types, rather than a single risk ahead.” In terms of significance, these range from mere “statistical anomaly” to a “huge shift” in the global economy. Each of these has different implications, both for how ordinary people making economic decisions should react and how policymakers, particularly at the Fed, should approach their work. One of the main concerns, of course, is that policymakers get it wrong and attempt to manage one inflation risk when another is the reality. The signs are hard to interpret, NYT says, so it discusses simple metaphors. “If we start to see higher prices later in the year, the first thing to ask is: Is this a story of “hungry bears emerging from hibernation; the result of excess water sloshing around a bathtub; or a balloon finally being reflated after years of leaking air?” And, there are misleading numbers to avoid. After the price of many goods and services collapsed between March and May last spring, lots of economic activity shut down. In many cases, those prices have recovered to close-to-normal levels making the basic trend lines of prices of those items appear extraordinarily high. For quite a few products and services, those numbers might look even more extreme. The price of home natural gas service is on track to be up 5.4%, with airline fares up 16.3%, and the price of women's dresses up a remarkable 17.9% — all reflecting the deep discounting retailers were forced to do in the spring of 2020. Those numbers appear to reflect inflation but only because of the conventions around using year-over-year data. For example, dress prices in that model might look like evidence of inflation when they are still 9% below pre-pandemic levels, the Times says. These calendar effects don't matter in any meaningful way, and Fed officials have said as much. Beware of anyone who might seek to use these numbers to create misleading narratives about the level of inflation in the economy, the Times warns. Also, what if “most everyone” emerges from economic hibernation at once? The supply of most services is pretty much fixed in the short run, and could be below pre-pandemic levels because of permanent business failures. This relative demand surge may lead retailers to raise prices to avoid shortages — a form of price inflation that also can happen through non-obvious ways, such as if a retailer that in normal times routinely offers 20% discounts stops doing so. This is another classic example of an inflationary surge that central bankers need to mostly ignore — to look through to longer-run trends. Price increases are how “the economy allocates a limited supply and encourages producers to invest in greater supplies. The price spikes may be a sign of the economy healing, not cause for inflationary panic. Then, the Times points to a number reported last week that “you might have missed.” JPMorgan Chase said its total deposits were 37% higher in the fourth quarter than a year before, a rise of $582 billion. It says this is a shocking rise in deposits, “but not exactly surprising if you've been following the economic data.” From March through November, Americans saved $1.56 trillion more than they did in the same period of 2019, reflecting a pullback in spending combined with federal spending that, in the aggregate at least, offset the loss of income from job losses. That is an enormous amount of money sitting in savings. So what happens if everybody starts spending at once, NYT asks. It's entirely possible that, as people become more confident, all that money could easily boost demand for goods and services until it outstrips supplies. This could be more like what happened in the 1960s, when a combination of high domestic and wartime spending pushed the economy to its productive limits. That created remarkable income growth for Americans but by the end of the decade inflation was rising and would become a major problem in the 1970s. Thus the Fed will have to decide whether what's happening is a desirable and long-awaited heating up of the economy, or something that's likely to spill out into sustained inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said he does not believe a 1970s-style inflationary cycle is likely. “Given the inflation dynamics we've had over the last several decades, just a single price-level increase has not resulted in ongoing price-level increases.” In addition, over the last three decades or so, the world economy began to work differently in nearly all advanced nations. The cause likely includes demographic shifts, the entry of billions more workers into the economy and a worldwide glut of savings. The basic story also would focus on the rapidly rising supply of labor in recent years as new technologies diminished the bargaining power of workers, holding down wage inflation. So, we will see. These are important questions that affect nearly all policy debates, especially those related to massive economic interventions. Certainly, producers should watch these closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 4, 2021 |


Trump Administration's 'Terrorism' Label For Cuba Under Review A late announcement from the Trump administration was to declare Cuba a “state sponsor of terrorism.” The Biden administration promised a review of the Trump action. Secretary of State Tony Blinken confirmed the development in remarks with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. Cuba imports about $2 billion worth of ag commodities per year, but minor amounts come via the United States. However, Cuba is the fourth largest foreign market for U.S. poultry. U.S. rice producers have also eyed the market that is just 90 miles from the United States for their products, but have also not been able to build the market that they see possible in the island country.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 4, 2021 |


Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling Still on Vilsack's Radar Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), implemented and ended under USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack's first round at USDA under the Obama administration. And that issue resurfaced in his Tuesday session with lawmakers. Asked by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., about the Product of USA label deployed by USDA and whether it has evolved and kept up with consumer expectations, Vilsack said, “If it's the same policy as it was four years ago when I left, the answer is no. We made every concerted effort to try and create better transparency, better information for consumers because we understand and appreciate that consumers want to know where their food comes from. They want to know when they're buying U.S. and when they're not buying – when they're buying someplace – from someplace else.” Specifically on COOL, Vilsack responded to Fischer and to a separate question from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., on the topic with the same refrain: “I am absolutely willing to listen to anybody and everybody who's got an idea about how we can circumvent or how we can get to a point where the WTO doesn't necessarily slap it down that creates retaliatory impacts on… on American agriculture.” And pushing ahead with COOL will prompt retaliation from Canada and Mexico, something Vilsack said was “not a good solution.” But any effort on the COOL front would have to be WTO compliant, he stressed.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 4, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday's reports begin with weekly export sales, weekly U.S. jobless claims, U.S. fourth-quarter productivity and an update of the U.S. Drought monitor, all at 7:30 a.m. CST. U.S. factory orders follow at 9 a.m. and the Energy Department reports on natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Any export sales news and the latest weather forecasts continue to hold trader interest. Weather Cold conditions with snow and strong winds are in store for northern and central areas Thursday. Blizzard warnings are in effect in the western Midwest and wind chill bulletins through the weekend are noted in the northern Plains. This combination is unfavorable for transportation with safety hazards and livestock stress. In the southern Plains, strong winds are unfavorable for winter wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 3, 2021 |


Vilsack Breezes Through Confirmation Hearing Joe Biden’s Agriculture Secretary nominee pledges to address discrimination across the Department of Agriculture. In the Senate Agriculture Committee confirmation hearing, Tom Vilsack told lawmakers he will also seek to remove barriers to access for anyone who qualifies for nutrition assistance. In his opening statement, Vilsack also vowed to ensure USDA is doing its part to end the COVID-19 pandemic, lead the federal government in building and maintaining new markets, stop the farm debt cycle and create transparency in pricing throughout the supply chain. Vilsack, who was Agriculture Secretary during the Obama administration, also seeks to restore USDA employee morale “to the high level it was” during his previous tenure at USDA. Incoming Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, stated, “My last turn as Chair coincided with your first tenure at USDA, and I'm so happy to have the chance to work with you again.” The Committee advanced the nomination to the full Senate following the hearing. ************************************************************************************ Ag Economy Barometer Drifts lower The Ag Economy Barometer drifted lower in January to a reading of 167, a decline of seven points compared to December and equal to the index's November reading. Organizers say the barometer's decline over the last three months is attributable to weaker expectations for the future. The Index of Future Expectations has fallen 35 points or about 19 percent since October. The decline in future expectations stands in contrast to the Index of Current Conditions, which in January was 21 points, or about 12 percent, higher than in October. Ongoing strength in the Current Conditions Index appears to be driven by crop price strength. However, the deterioration in the Futures Expectations Index seems to be motivated by concerns about future environmental and tax policies and the outcome of the trade dispute with China. Meanwhile, three out of ten farms are aware of opportunities to receive carbon capture payments on their farms, and about one-fifth of those farms have engaged in discussions about contracting to receive payments. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bankruptcies Decline During 2020 Farm bankruptcies were down slightly in 2020, but an industry economist warns farmers are "not out of the woods yet." Caseload statistics from U.S. Courts indicate that Chapter 12 family farm and family fishery bankruptcies totaled 552 filings during 2020, down 43 filings, or seven percent, from 2019 third-highest over the last decade. American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist John Newton writes in a Farm Bureau Market Intel analysis, "these numbers should not be considered a sign that the farm economy has recovered." In 33 of the 94 district court regions, Chapter 12 bankruptcies increased from prior years. According to the Kansas City Federal Reserve, delinquency rates at commercial banks continue to increase, and USDA recently temporarily suspended debt collections, foreclosures and other activities on farm loans to support distressed farmer borrowers. Newton says the key to turning the farm economy around is a COVID-19 recovery, restored biofuels demand, increased trade, and new income sources, including adopting climate-smart practices and ecosystem services markets. ************************************************************************************ Meat and Poultry Workers COVID-19 Case Rates A new analysis of independent data for 2020 show that reported new COVID-19 infection rates amongst meat and poultry workers were five times lower in December than in May, while rates in the general population went up by nine times in the same period. According to data from the Food and Environment Reporting Network, the meat and poultry sector was reported to have an average of 32.64 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in January 2021, two-thirds lower than the average of 98.39 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in May 2020. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts commented, "Meat and poultry workers are substantially less likely to be infected with COVID-19 than the general population as a result of the comprehensive protections instituted since the spring of 2020." The data comes as the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis launched an investigation into coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants nationwide. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Battles in Court to Reverse Demand Destruction Biofuel groups last week filed a court brief challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to properly establish 2020 biofuel blending targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard. In their brief, the parties seek to ensure that the annual biofuel targets, or Renewable Volume Obligations, account for small refinery exemptions the agency issued for past years. EPA’s current regulations factor in only future SREs, while ignoring biofuel demand destroyed by past SREs granted retroactively, totaling more than four billion gallons in recent years. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor stated, “The Trump EPA’s 2020 biofuel targets failed to account for the billions of gallons of demand lost to the agency’s mismanagement of the Renewable Fuel Standard.” Growth Energy and others also challenge EPA’s abuse of its waiver authority for cellulosic biofuel targets. Under the 2020 RVOs, the agency set cellulosic targets that did not account for 50 million credits carried over from past years. As a result, cellulosic targets were set at 590 million gallons. ************************************************************************************ Grants to Fund Dashboards to Track Food Supply Chain Vulnerabilities The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is awarding a $221,700 grant to Purdue University to research food supply chain disruptions. The grants allow for the creation of open-access online dashboards that help quantify and illustrate potential disruptions to the food supply chain. The dashboards will focus on COVID-19 but have the flexibility to be tailored to suit future market disruptions. Microsoft is providing matching funds for a $506,700 total investment, in addition to supplying cloud technology, business intelligence, artificial intelligence and machine learning tools. FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey says the effort will provide policymakers “with the information needed to prevent bottlenecks and ensure food security.” The dashboards, organizers say, will improve public understanding of the origins of food and provide critical information for enhanced policy and industry-level decision making. With the data, food supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 and future disturbances can be identified before reaching catastrophic levels.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 3, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Focus on Trade Enforcement Bloomberg is reporting this week that President Biden's administration is setting up its trade policy to prioritize enforcement of existing commitments by the U.S. partners over negotiating more deals to open new export markets. This likely strategy for supporting American producers focuses on going after violations via dialogue, work with allies and use of dispute-resolution mechanisms in existing trade agreements rather than following the Trump administration's more blunt, unilateral tool of national-security tariffs, Bloomberg said. That could leave existing free-trade talks with the UK and Kenya in limbo for the foreseeable future. Biden has signaled he won't immediately remove duties inherited from Trump, who enthusiastically dubbed himself “Tariff Man” for levying duties to pressure China, the European Union and even Mexico and Canada to address perceived injustices affecting American workers. Whether and how soon the President might remove the tariffs, and what he would seek in return, are open questions. But his approach to enforcement is likely to focus on negotiation, mediation and multilateral action rather than unilateral moves – more of a surgical than sledgehammer strategy, the report said. The administration's starting point may be the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that went into force in July, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Katherine Tai, Biden's nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, was instrumental in negotiating that deal's labor provisions. The AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor union and a traditional Democratic ally, has been promising since September to bring the first complaint over conditions in Mexico. “We should expect action under the labor provisions of the USMCA pretty quickly,” said Jamieson Greer, a partner in the international trade practice at King & Spalding in Washington, who served as chief of staff to Trump USTR Robert Lighthizer. The new administration “is going to want to bring a case that's really targeted to a specific facility in Mexico that's as close to a slam-dunk case as you can get.” The AFL-CIO and Democrats made strong labor rules and enforcement mechanisms for Mexico a key demand to win their support for the USMCA in 2019, reflecting concerns that the pact it was replacing lacked both. Cathy Feingold, the AFL-CIO's international department director, said she hopes the union will be a petitioner in a labor complaint under the USMCA within the first 100 days of President Biden's administration after COVID-19 and other factors complicated the process of documenting ongoing labor violations in Mexico last year. U.S. labor unions have long complained that Mexican factories under NAFTA denied workers' rights in order to keep down salaries and unfairly undercut America on cost. The AFL-CIO has highlighted cases of alleged harassment, like the example of Susana Prieto Terrazas, an independent trade-union lawyer in Mexico who was jailed in the northern state of Tamaulipas last June after working to organize employees at an auto-parts plant. The USMCA went into effect in mid-2020. In November, Rep. Richard Neal, D., Mass., and Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, criticized the Trump administration for a lack of enforcement action. He cited union leaders and labor lawyers in Mexico facing violence, saying workers were being denied their basic rights on a daily basis. Under USMCA provisions, any member of the U.S. public can submit a petition alleging denial of rights at a facility in Mexico. An inter-agency U.S. committee then reviews to see if there's sufficient, credible evidence. If there is, the committee then requests that Mexico conducts its own probe. While there are a number of steps focused on remedying any violation, the U.S. ultimately can rescind duty-free treatment on products from a particular facility or even block imports altogether for repeated violations. Tai is awaiting a hearing from the Senate Finance Committee as part of her confirmation process. In a speech last month, she mentioned the USMCA's “groundbreaking labor and environment provisions” and promised to work to make sure the deal “lives up to its potential.” Both Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary nominee Gina Raimondo in their hearings discussed enforcement with regard to another top U.S. trade partner – China. Tai was the chief lawyer for House Democrats seeking to strengthen the USMCA's labor provisions after President Trump's deal was initially reached with Mexico and Canada in 2018. Tai has also learned from the examples of past U.S. failures, Feingold said. That includes Guatemala, where the first-ever labor complaint filed under a free-trade deal was brought by the AFL-CIO and local unions in 2008 over the nation's failure to ensure the right to organize and acceptable working conditions. The case dragged out for almost a decade, ending with an arbitration panel deciding that the evidence failed to prove Guatemala's behavior was “sustained or recurring” and “in a manner affecting trade.” In the USMCA, Democrats negotiated to ensure that violations in Mexico would be assumed to affect investment unless proven otherwise, and the need to show “sustained or recurring” violation doesn't apply to workplace violence. Tai “has a vision for what went wrong in the past,” Feingold said. “She was key to building that model of swift and effective enforcement.” So, we will see. The Biden administration clearly has a more conventional trade policy orientation than the previous administration did, but it likely will be tested early and often by high stakes cases involving the EU, China and others. These are fights producers should watch closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 3, 2021 |


Biden Administration Asks Courts to Pause Litigation Over Trump WOTUS Replacement The Biden administration has filed requests in U.S. District Courts in Maryland and Washington, D.C., requesting a pause in litigation over the Navigable Waters Protection Rule put in place by the Trump administration as a replacement to the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The administration signaled immediately upon taking office that it was reviewing the Trump actions on the rule and has sought a six month delay in court actions, arguing that will allow the Biden administration “adequate time to review the rules and determine whether the rules should be maintained, modified, or otherwise reconsidered.” The administration pledged to provide an update in 90 days and at the end of the six-month period, the parties are to provide a “joint status report proposing further proceedings.” In the wake of the court filings, Reps. Peter Defazio, D-Ore., and Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., called on President Joe Biden to immediately repeal the Trump administration rule, charging it is “fatally flawed proposal, with no basis in the law, no basis in the science, and a blatant giveaway to polluters.” U.S. ag interests are monitoring the situation closely as many groups marshalled resources to get the WOTUS rule replaced due to their contention that it was a case of government overreach and would subject a large amount of area to federal regulation. Given the filings in court, it is clear the Trump administration rule will not be immediately repealed as requested by the lawmakers.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 3, 2021 |


House Panel Investigating Meat Packing Companies Over COVID-19 Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods and JBS USA are being investigated by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis over COVID outbreaks at their facilities and what the panel said was a failure of the companies to protect workers. The panel sent letters Monday to the companies and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requesting information on their actions during the COVID pandemic relative to complaints from workers, how the companies track those complaints, all documents related to inspections by federal or state officials at facilities and a list of those inspections, the number workers that have contracted COVID or died from it, information on plant closures, implantation of COVID safety measures and more. The panel is seeking similar information from OSHA, including a list of each COVID-related complaint received, a list of inspections and any documents linked to those inspections, the training and guidance OSHA gives to inspectors, and more. Meatpackers "have refused to take basic precautions to protect their workers, many of whom earn extremely low wages and lack adequate paid leave and have shown a callous disregard for workers' health," panel chair Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C. The companies issued statements in response to the investigation, with Smithfield countering they have invested "$200 million in health and safety interventions, more than $160 million in bonuses and permanent increased pay, and donated more than $50 million to support our local communities.” They also pointed to extra practices put in place in their plants relative to worker safety. It's not clear what the results of the investigation will bring or the timeline given the volume of documentation the panel is requesting of OSHA and the companies in question.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 3, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets ADP's report of U.S. private sector job gains in January is due out at 7:15 a.m. CST, an early hint of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report on Friday. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly report of energy inventories, including ethanol at 9:30 a.m. Traders will also be watching the latest weather forecasts and any export sales news that develops. Weather Dry conditions are in store across the central U.S. Wednesday. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal. The pattern turns very cold with snowstorm and blizzard conditions in northern and central areas Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 2, 2021 |


Speculation Developing Over How Biden Will Use Commodity Credit Corporation Speculation is brewing over how the new Biden administration may use the Commodity Credit Corporation. The CCC, as it’s known, was used by the Trump-era Department of Agriculture to provide trade relief to farmers, including Market Facilitation Program payments. The CCC has a $30 billion fund, with several ideas on how to use the funding, setting up a "tug of war over its limited resources," according to Politico. Incoming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has indicated that he has the authority to implement a carbon bank for farmers through the CCC. President Joe Biden's stimulus plan also identified the CCC as a means to provide economic relief for restaurants suffering during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, told reporters last week, farmers can be leaders in the climate crisis. She says her focus will be on “voluntary, producer-led opportunities” to allow farmers to cut down emissions and create new income sources. ************************************************************************************ UK Applies to Join CPTPP The United Kingdom seeks to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership. The CPTPP is the trade agreement between former Trans-Pacific Partnership nations after then-President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from TPP. Officials from the UK made the request Monday with planning to begin formal negotiations this year. Officials say joining the CPTPP would deepen the UK’s access to fast-growing markets and major economies, including Mexico, Malaysia and Vietnam. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated, “One year after our departure from the EU, we are forging new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain." The United States has been seeking a bilateral trade agreement with the UK since BREXIT, under the Trump Administration. In a phone call with President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Johnson sought to "resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible.” However, Biden’s focus is on domestic issues for now, and Biden also wants to evaluate rejoining the former TPP countries in CPTPP. ************************************************************************************ Philippines Considering Reducing Pork Import Tariffs The Philippines' government plans to hold a hearing this week to discuss a proposal to reduce its pork tariffs for in-quota and out-quota imports. Specifically, the country's Department of Agriculture recommends pork imports under the minimum access volume have a five percent tariff for the next six months and a ten percent tariff for the succeeding six months, compared to the current 30 percent tariff. For pork imports outside the minimum access volume, the Philippines proposes tariffs be reduced to 15 percent for the next six months and 20 percent in the succeeding six months, compared to the current 40 percent. The National Pork Producers Council welcomed the proposal. NPPC last month met with the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines to discuss trade. NPPC has been working with the Philippines’ government for more than a year to negotiate lower pork import tariffs, saying the nation “holds tremendous market opportunities for U.S. pork exports.” The Philippine Tariff Commission plans to consider the proposal Thursday. ************************************************************************************ United States Cattle Inventory Down Slightly A report on U.S. cattle inventory shows 93.6 million head of cattle and calves on U.S. farms as of January 1, 2021, slightly below the 93.8 million last year. The Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service published the data Friday. Of the 93.6 million head inventory, all cows and heifers that have calved totaled 40.6 million. There were 31.2 million beef cows in the United States, down one percent from last year. The number of milk cows in the United States increased to 9.4 million. The 2020 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.1 million head, down one percent from the previous year's calf crop. All cattle on feed were at 14.7 million head, up slightly from 2020. NASS surveyed over 34,900 operators across the nation during the first half of January. Surveyed producers were asked to report their cattle inventories and calf crop for the entire year of 2020. ************************************************************************************ USDA Forest Service Announces 2021 Grazing Fee The Department of Agriculture's Forest Service recently announced federal grazing fees on national forests and grasslands will remain $1.35 per head month for 2021. A head month is a unit the Forest Service uses to define a month's use of the range by a cow/calf pair, by five goats or sheep, or by a single bull, steer, heifer, horse, burro, or mule. The grazing fee is calculated by considering the average annual change in beef cattle prices, leasing rates for grazing on private land in the western states, and livestock production costs. The fee applies to approximately 6,000 grazing permits administered by the Forest Service on national forests and grasslands in 17 Western states. The formula used for calculating the grazing fee was established by Congress in the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act and as amended in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and has continued under a presidential executive order issued in 1986. ************************************************************************************ Bunge Announces Agreements to Use Renewable Energy Bunge just announced a 10-year agreement with Direct Energy Renewable Services to use renewable energy at its Fort Worth, Texas oils packaging facility. The initiative will offset 100 percent of Bunge's power usage in that location with an equivalent amount of Renewable Energy Credits derived from Texas wind power. Beginning in August of 2021, Bunge's Fort Worth plant energy will be sourced from a local wind farm. The agreement is part of a broader effort by Bunge to reduce emissions and energy in target amounts by 2026. Bunge recently made additional strides in its sustainable energy journey by achieving 100 percent renewable electricity powered by wind at its corn mill in Atchison, Kansas and its soybean processing plant in Emporia, Kansas. In 2019, Bunge signed a long-term contract with Evergy for eight percent of their total wind farm in Nemaha County, Kansas. Besides these locations in Kansas, Bunge's soybean processing plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa, gets over 60 percent of its electricity from wind power.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 2, 2021 |


Some Regulatory Actions Emerging From Biden Administration The initial flurry of regulatory actions by the Biden administration has been to withdraw regulations that were not finalized by the Trump administration. The White House has sent forward for review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) notices or regulatory actions to require the wearing of masks on public transportation and in stations, ports or similar transportation hubs, a temporary halt in residential evictions — both from Health and Human Services — and a delay in the effective date of the Trump administration's final rule limiting regulatory science that was issued by EPA. A federal judge had also put a halt to the EPA rule. The new administration has embarked on a broad regulatory review of actions by the Trump administration which has resulted in some regulations or actions being either halted or suspended by several agencies.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 2, 2021 |


White House Reviewing US-China Phase One Agreement The Biden administration is reviewing the U.S.-China Phase One agreement, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed to reporters Friday. The new administration is approaching the U.S.-China relationship “from a position of strength, and that means coordinating and communicating with our allies and partners about how we're going to work with China,” she said. “Everything that the past administration has put in place is under review, as it relates to our national security approach, so I would not assume things are moving forward.” This sparked concern that the Biden administration could walk away from the Phase One agreement, but Doug Barry, spokesman for the U.S.-China Business Council downplayed those worries. “We don't read too much into the process at this point,” Barry told Reuters. “China has 11 more months to fulfill its promises to purchase an additional $200 billion in U.S. products.” The review is not a surprise and matches what sources signaled months ago would take place under the Biden administration. Plus, the agreement's purchase commitments cover two years — 2020 and 2021 — and other actions in the agreement have already been implemented relative to U.S. agriculture and other trade matters which have seen China undertake structural changes that would negatively impact prospects for U.S. agricultural and other trade.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 2, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets As usual, traders will be watching the latest weather forecasts and checking for any news of export sales. There are no official reports scheduled Tuesday, allowing plenty of room for Punxsutawney Phil to get his annual moment in the spotlight. Weather Tuesday will be dry across all primary crop areas. Temperatures will be seasonal to below normal in the Midwest, below normal Southeast, and above normal in the Plains. Areas that have seen heavy snow recently will also have fog hindering transport and safety due to melting snow. A new rain and snow event is again indicated to cross the north-central U.S. Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 1, 2021 |


Oil Industry Seeking Unusual Alliance in Farm Country The U.S. oil industry is looking to a longtime adversary for help in opposing the Biden administration’s push for electric vehicles. Reuters says the oil industry is reaching out to the nation’s corn growers and biofuel producers for lobbying help, but so far, they’re getting a cool reception to the idea. Multiple sources tell Reuters that the oil industry reaching out to their longtime opponents shows the scale of its concern over President Biden’s measures to combat climate change by pulling back on the use of liquid fossil fuels. The two industries have one thing in common; a shared desire to make sure there’s a future for internal combustion engines. The political landscape is quite different as the oil industry’s influence has dropped off since Biden replaced Donald Trump as president, but the farm belt is still a powerful constituency. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, an oil refining trade group, confirmed to Reuters that it’s been contacting state and national representatives of the corn and biofuel trade groups in past weeks. Their goal is to garner support for a policy that would reduce the carbon intensity of transport fuels and block efforts to provide more federal subsidies for electric vehicles. ************************************************************************************ South African H-2A Workers Get Exemption to Travel Ban The U.S. State Department issued a clarification on its ban on non-citizens entering the United States from South Africa. A Biden administration proclamation suspended travel from several countries due to COVID-19 concerns. The State Department clarified that agriculture workers entering the U.S. qualify for the national interest exception on a case-by-case basis. The American Farm Bureau recently sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week requesting an exemption for South African farm labor. “We appreciate the swift action by the State Department to address a critical need for American agriculture,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “Farmworkers from South Africa bring a valuable and unique skill set to the farms where they work. America’s farmers rely on the H-2A program to provide a robust workforce, and we are committed to ensuring their safety while continuing to provide healthy, affordable food for American families.” President Biden’s proclamation allows non-citizens to be exempt from the ban if their arrival is in the national interest. Food and agriculture workers have been deemed essential during COVID-19. ********************************************************************************************** Rural Coalition Sends Letter to Biden on Infrastructure The Rebuild Rural Coalition, consisting of more than 250 groups, sent a letter to the Biden administration asking that it make sure to put enough resources for rural needs into its infrastructure plan. The coalition represents groups that include U.S. agricultural producers, rural businesses, rural communities, and rural families. The letter says the infrastructure system has a staggering number of needs. “For example, one-quarter of our road system’s bridges require significant repair or cannot efficiently handle today’s traffic,” the letter says, “and many of the 240 locks and dams along the inland waterways need modernization.” They say critical needs also exist when it comes to providing clean water and affordable housing for rural families, expanding broadband to connect rural communities to the outside world, and enhancing the ability to supply reliable and secure power. They also say the scope of the investment need is staggering as well. “Clearly, the federal government must continue to play an important role in providing funding, and those federal investments should increase,” they add. “However, as your plan also suggests, federal resources alone can’t fill the void.” They’re looking for creative solutions that pair federal investments with state and local government dollars, as well as private sources of capital. ********************************************************************************************** USGC Virtual Member Meeting Takes Place This Week The U.S. Grains Council’s 18th annual International Marketing Conference and the 61st Annual Membership Meeting is set virtually for Monday through Wednesday of this week. A couple of the more important conversation topics will be the future of trade and the U.S. Grains Council's strategy to capture overseas demand. “We have the opportunity to join together to discuss critical issues surrounding our work to build new demand for coarse grains and co-products,” says Jim Raben, USGC Chair and an Illinois farmer. “We are also excited to offer an excellent slate of speakers who will focus on the future of trade and the opportunities that exist for increased demand around the world.” During the three-day conference, the USGC’s Advisory Teams will review priorities in the Council’s Unified Export Strategy and help to set a direction for the year ahead. Sectors will meet to discuss important issues specifically for corn, barley, and sorghum producers, as well as agribusinesses and general farm organizations. “Our members are the heart of the Council,” says Rabe. “While the format is different, critical input through participation in this meeting will continue to guide the work of our leadership and staff around the world.” *********************************************************************************************** National Farm Machinery Show Postponed to 2022 The National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pull will be moving to February 16-19, 2022. Despite initially planning to continue the shows in March, the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has led show management to make the difficult decision to postpone events until next year. “The health and safety of our guests, exhibitors, and coworkers is our highest priority and unfortunately the best way to keep them safe is to postpone the show,” says David Beck, the President and CEO of Kentucky Venues. The National Farm Machinery Show is held every year at the Kentucky Exposition Center and is the largest indoor farm show in the country. It consists of 12 million square feet of sold-out exhibit space. The show is a key player in the global agriculture industry featuring the most comprehensive display of equipment, services, and technology. The Championship Tractor Pull held in conjunction with the farm show draws more than 70,000 fans in person and online from around the world. “We look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2022,” Beck says. “We’ll take the lessons learned in 2020 and 2021 and plan a comprehensive show with relevant seminars and educational content alongside the newest in state-of-the-art farm equipment.” ********************************************************************************************** Export Sales of Corn and Wheat Rise Corn and wheat export sales jumped higher week-to-week while soybean sales dropped. The USDA says corn sales to overseas buyers in the seven days that ended on January 21 came in at 1.85 million metric tons, up 29 percent from the previous week and 61 percent from the prior four-week average. Japan was the biggest buyer of corn, purchasing 695,000 metric tons, followed by Mexico at more than 145,000 tons, and Colombia at almost 117,000 tons. Wheat sales rose 15 percent over the previous week to 380,500 metric tons, which is also 13 percent higher than the four-week average. China bought 130,000 metric tons of wheat, while Mexico purchased 67,400 tons, Japan bought just shy of 61,000 tons, South Korea 54,000 tons, and the Philippines 53,4000. Soybean sales slipped 74 percent from the prior week, coming in at 466,000 metric tons, 45 percent below the four-week average. China was the biggest buyer at 322,500 metric tons, followed by Mexico at 197,800 tons. For the 2021-2022 marketing year that starts on September 1, the government reported sales of 1.56 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans. Unknown destinations bought 654,000 metric tons, while China took in 586,000 tons.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 1, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Astra-EU Fight Opens Rift in Global Bid to End Pandemic Bloomberg is reporting this week that a European dispute over access to COVID-19 vaccines is threatening to unleash a wider political and economic conflict that could stymie global collaboration needed to end the pandemic. After accusing UK vaccine maker AstraZeneca Plc of favoring deliveries to its home country, the European Union announced a drastic plan to control exports of COVID shots. The retaliatory move may encourage more governments to use economic might or other means to protect their interests. The European Commission's restrictions “open Pandora's box,” said Simon Evenett, a professor of international trade at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. If others respond in similar fashion, “it really would be every man for himself.” The squabble is opening a new rift in the global effort to slow a pathogen that's killed 2.2 million people and inflamed Brexit tensions between the UK and the EU. The bloc is already under pressure to speed up an immunization campaign that's trailing those in Britain and the U.S. In a sign of how fraught tensions have become, the bloc also announced Friday that it was seeking to limit exports to Northern Ireland, before retreating from the plan hours later. Introducing restrictions between the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU, and Northern Ireland would contravene one of the key principles of the Brexit deal, which sought to avoid border controls after decades of violence. The EU move prompted a rare show of unity from traditional political enemies in Northern Ireland, who uniformly decried the initial decision. Even with the Northern Ireland issue resolved, the bloc's actions remain hugely controversial and have been criticized by the World Health Organization, businesses and governments, Bloomberg said. The likelihood of such vaccine disputes multiplying looms large after dozens of countries imposed export restrictions earlier on masks, personal protective equipment and medical supplies. Governments and companies also tussled over access to drugs like new, life-saving HIV medications that were too costly for some hard-hit countries to purchase, said Thomas Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations. This is not just a fanciful parade of horribles,” he said. “You could see this escalating.” In a show of unity, most European countries started vaccinations around the same time in late December. Recent U.S. re-engagement with the World Health Organization also spurred hopes of global cooperation. But maintaining that isn't easy in an environment of increasing infections and vaccine supply constraints. As political pressure rises, “that feeling of solidarity fades,” said Klaus Stohr, a former WHO official who helped mobilize governments and drug makers to prepare for pandemics. The stakes of getting economies back on track have also grown. Access to vaccines has become a matter of national security, said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Global Health Policy Center. That accounts for the U.S. Department of Defense's important role in developing and distributing shots. “Vaccines are an indispensable element of getting out from under this scourge that's destroying economies,” he said. “If you can't get to herd immunity fast, that inevitably provokes a security crisis.” Biden has said he'd use the Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era law, to boost the manufacturing of vaccines and the supplies required to administer them, such as vials and needles. If the U.S. were to combine that expanded production with export restrictions, other governments would be tempted to follow, Evenett said. The EU's drug regulator cleared AstraZeneca's COVID shot Friday, paving the way for a conditional marketing authorization and potentially easing supply concerns. Still, frustrations are running especially high across Europe as more contagious versions of the virus emerge, and every step of COVID vaccine production and distribution is under scrutiny. The EU may secure enough supplies to vaccinate three-quarters of its population by late October, hitting that level more than two months after the U.S. and three months behind the UK, according to the latest analysis by London-based research firm Airfinity Ltd. While there are few restrictions on using export bans in trade law, nations could try to tamp down on vaccine-related retaliation via the G-7 or the G-20, as has been suggested by the Ottawa Group, Bollyky said. Those nations in November called for restraint in using any export restrictions as part of wider measures in response to the pandemic and discouraged WTO members from putting tariffs on essential medical products. Companies could also help defuse the tension by providing more details about their production plans, Evenett said. Bowing to pressure, AstraZeneca published its contract for the delivery of doses to the region. “Guidelines would be a way of preparing – they won't help you in an ongoing dispute,” said Harvey Fineberg, former president of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine. Attempts to set rules for sharing vaccines “would only be interpreted in light of who it would advantage now.” So, we will see. The instinct toward protectionism remains strong and can threaten most trading strategies in some cases — decisions that often have severe long-term implications. So, the posture of the new administration toward global cooperation should be watched closely as joint efforts proceed, or fail to develop, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 1, 2021 |


WOTUS Remains a Key Issue Ahead The issue of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule continues as a potential action point for farmers and ranchers. The Biden administration January 20 said that EPA and the Defense Department would review The Trump administration's narrow federal waters definition under their Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR). Biden also signed a separate executive order revoking a 2017 Trump order calling for a review and reversal of the Obama rule. The Trump rule prevents developers from needing a federal permit for work in those waterways. The rule is in effect in every state except Colorado, where a judge blocked it. Both the Obama and Trump-era rules are being challenged in court. This will likely result in opponents asking the courts to set aside expected Biden administration requests to stay pending litigation and allowing the lawsuits to continue. The Biden administration is expected to ask courts to put WOTUS litigation on ice to give the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers time to decide if and how to rewrite the Trump administration rule. Others note the issue is likely again headed to the Supreme Court for more clarity.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 1, 2021 |


Stabenow Applauds USDA Pausing CFAP Payouts Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is welcoming the review of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) that has suspended payment activity under the program. Stabenow said the Trump administration plan did not address provisions in the final legislation calling for assistance for farm workers, smaller food processors and others involved in the supply chain. “I very much want to see them evaluate where we are,” Stabenow said. “I'd like to have them look at what we wrote into the law that has not yet been acted on. A review makes sense.” It is not clear how long the suspension will last but the agency will continue to accept applications.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 1, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets There are few government economic reports on Monday, but manufacturing PMI and ISM manufacturing index are two to watch. DTN will also be focused on any new China purchases of U.S. corn or soybeans, and any South American weather changes. Weather Dry conditions will cover most primary crop areas Monday. The exception will be the extreme eastern Midwest where snow will occur. Temperatures will be seasonal north and central, below normal southeast, and above normal southwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 29, 2021 |


Stabenow Announces Senate Ag Committee Agenda Incoming Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow laid out her agenda for the committee Thursday. The Michigan Democrat says, "My vision for the committee revitalizes our food and farm economy to grow new opportunities in American agriculture and provide access to healthy food for American families.” Stabenow says the committee will build on past bipartisan achievements to strengthen the diversity of agriculture, support the millions of jobs in the farm and food economy, protect land and water, strengthen small towns and rural communities, and support families working hard to make ends meet. The agenda includes responding to COVID-19 to address hunger and the food supply chain, and address climate change with voluntary, producer-led, bipartisan solutions. Additionally, Stabenow seeks to fight childhood hunger with stronger nutrition programs, and create jobs and improve the quality of life in rural America. Stabenow says the committee will fill key leadership positions at the Department of Agriculture and lay the groundwork for the next bipartisan farm bill. ************************************************************************************ Senators Seek Guidance for Farmers Applying for PPP Loans A pair of U.S. Senators want the federal government to issue guidance excluding Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments from farmers’ and ranchers’ 2020 gross receipts for purposes of obtaining a second draw loan through the Paycheck Protection Program. Senators John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, and Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, made the request in a letter to the Department of Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Senators refer to the interim final rule on the PPP loans released in early January. In outlining how businesses must demonstrate a 25 percent reduction in gross receipts in 2020 compared to 2019, the interim final rules state that forgiven first draw PPP loans do not count toward gross receipts. However, the Senators say the rules are silent on whether or not Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments count towards farmers’ and ranchers’ 2020 gross receipts for purposes of demonstrating a 25 percent reduction in receipts in 2020 compared to 2019. ************************************************************************************ NCBA Welcomes House Introduction of Bipartisan DIRECT Act The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association hailed the introduction of bipartisan legislation to create new opportunities for cattle producers and processors to market beef products. The Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions, or DIRECT Act of 2021, would allow retail quantities of meat processed under state-inspection to be sold across state lines through e-commerce. NCBA Policy Division Chair Todd Wilkinson says, "The DIRECT Act will allow cattle producers and smaller beef processors to more easily evolve to meet the growing demand for e-commerce sales." Many states currently have inspection programs approved by the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service as “at least equal to” federal standards. However, state-inspected products can only be sold interstate if approved to do so under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping Program. The DIRECT Act would amend the retail exemption to allow processors, butchers, or other retailers to sell normal retail quantities of State Inspected Meat online to consumers across state lines. ************************************************************************************ Organic Groups Seek Swift Finalization of Origin of Livestock Rule A coalition of organic groups urges the Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program to finalize the Origin of Livestock rule. In a letter to the acting Agriculture Secretary, the groups say, “We need a strong, enforceable Origin of Livestock rule as soon as possible.” The letter, signed by 118 organic organizations and 249 organic farmers from across the nation, strongly urges the Secretary of Agriculture to oversee finalization of the origin of organic livestock rule and ensure that the rule is enforceable. Last June, USDA's National Organic Program missed a deadline Congress set for the NOP to finalize the long-awaited rule. Organic Farmers Association Executive Director Kate Mendenhall says, “Organic dairy farmers have been left behind by the NOP, and the years of broken promises of fixing this regulatory loophole have been devastating.” The organic groups say that each month that goes by without implementation of this rule “puts more family organic dairy farmers out of business across the country.” ************************************************************************************ CoBank: Uneven Foodservice Recovery Implies Same for Animal Protein As COVID-19 spread across the country last year, it spurred the "great grocery grab of 2020" - a shift to at-home food consumption not seen since the early 1980s. The abrupt change also forced the most significant shift in meat supplies the industry has experienced, diverting massive volumes of meat and other food originally intended for restaurants into retail distribution channels and grocery stores. U.S. animal protein supplies have returned to normal, and foodservice sales have improved since the onset of the pandemic but may not return to pre-pandemic levels until the second half of 2022, according to a new report from CoBank's Knowledge Exchange. A CoBank spokesperson says the trends in demand “are central to the profitability and viability of the U.S. animal protein supply chain.” The beef and pork sectors have some flexibility to adapt, as major packers sell their products to a variety of retail, foodservice and export customers. In the poultry sector, however, many integrators and poultry plants focus either on retail or foodservice, but not necessarily both. ************************************************************************************ Army Corps to Repair $54 Million of Missouri River Navigation Channel The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2021 civil works plan includes approximately $54 million for the repair of navigation structures along the Missouri River. The structures were damaged from high water and flooding over the past three years. The funding will address the highest priority repairs which pose an imminent threat to the navigation channel function, or significantly jeopardizes nearby critical facilities, structures, or property. The large volume of water that has passed through the system has damaged hundreds of river structures from Sioux City, Iowa, to St Louis. Those structures are critical and provide for a stable navigation channel when river conditions are within the lower range of operational flows. The 2020 navigation season, which saw a lower water year on the river, was challenged by shoaling in the navigation channel. The Corps of Engineers intends to restore full capacity and system reliability to pre-flood conditions providing that funding is appropriated and available.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 29, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Easy Money to Continue Bloomberg is reporting this week that Fed Chair Jerome Powell declared once again that the battle against COVID-19 is not over and that the Fed will work to keep the monetary spigots wide open to aid the pandemic-hit economy. He continued to brush aside concerns the super-easy stance will spawn a stock market bubble and too-high inflation. “We have not won this yet,” he told a press conference on Wednesday, after the Fed voted to keep short-term interest rates pegged near zero. “We're a long way from a full recovery.” Powell frequently referred to the poor condition of the labor market even as reporters asked about the meteoric rise of GameStop Corp. shares and frothy stock market prices. He spoke fervently about the plight of those whose lives have been upended by the virus, repeatedly pointing to the 9 million Americans still without jobs as a result of the pandemic. “He's doubling down on the human angle,” said Priya Misra, global head of rates strategy at TD Securities. “His job isn't to get the stock market to a certain level, it is to get to full employment and he doesn't see a risk of inflation overshoot.” It was a message for some Fed officials who have entertained the notion that the recovery could be stronger than expected, requiring the Fed to start pulling back on asset purchases this year. It was also a signal to the new administration that the Fed shares its goal of getting Americans back to work as quickly as possible and spreading the benefits of a tight labor market to Blacks and other groups frequently left behind. As Powell spoke, stock prices slumped, suffering their biggest losses since October on growing concerns that the rapid rise of equities in recent months had left them overvalued. The Fed chairman declined to comment on the price gyrations in GameStop, a video-game retailer that has seen its market value skyrocket as a surge in retail buying has forced hedge funds to cover their short positions in the stock. Democratic Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts cited the frenzy around GameStop in pressing the administration of President Joe Biden to crack down on Wall Street. “It's long past time for the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and other financial regulators to wake up and do their jobs – and with a new administration and Democrats running Congress, I intend to make sure they do,” she said. While Powell steered clear of commenting on GameStop, he evinced little concern about the broad-based run-up in stock prices, saying the Fed's focus is on the resilience of the financial system as a whole. “Financial stability vulnerabilities overall are moderate,” he said. Although the Fed theoretically could raise interest rates to try to head off a stock market bubble, that's not something it has ever done or plans to do, he added. The Fed chairman also played down worries about a spike in inflation as the economy enjoys what could be strong second half growth with newly vaccinated Americans returning to restaurants, movie theaters and sporting events. While some increase in inflation is likely, it probably won't be large or long-lasting, according to Powell. “We're going to be patient” and not pull back on support for the economy on the first sign of stepped-up price pressures, he said. In that regard, Powell said it was premature to talk about tapering the Fed's massive purchases of U.S. Treasury and mortgage-backed bonds, saying it would take “some time” to achieve the threshold for reducing them from their current clip of $120 billion per month. That's good news for the Biden administration, which is pushing for Congressional passage of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that would greatly increase the supply of U.S. Treasury debt. Bloomberg added that “Powell considers falling short of a full recovery as a much more significant risk compared to the possibility of higher inflation. This is in line with his recent public comment that now is not the time to talk about a policy exit. Instead, it confirms our assessment that the central bank stands ready to provide additional support to the economy, primarily through even more aggressive asset purchases.” Powell, who's received the first vaccination of two against the virus, said the Fed remained focused on the downside risks to the outlook and the danger that the pandemic will leave lasting scars on the economy. “Even after the economy fully reopens, I think we are still going to need to keep people in mind whose lives have been disrupted because they've lost the work that they did,” Powell said. “It would be wise for the longer run productive capacity of the country if we were to look out for those people and help them find their way back into the labor force even if means continuing support for an additional period of time.” For Brett Ryan, senior U.S. economist with Deutsche Bank AG, “The message was simple. They are going to keep pedal to the metal,” he said. “They are not going to use monetary policy as a tool to pop bubbles in asset markets.” So, we will see. The political scene is fully as toxic as it has been recently and economic and monetary policies are playing a central role in that outlook. These are developments producers should continue to watch very closely as emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 29, 2021 |


Senate Republicans Seek To Protect Trump Waters Rule More than two dozen Republican senators, led by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced a resolution seeking to preserve the Trump administration's Navigable Waters Protection rule put forth by EPA, which replaced the Obama-era waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Republican lawmakers, especially those from rural states, have long complained the WOTUS rule is a prime example of overregulation. “Everyone should agree that clean water should be a national priority. But I can't stand by and allow for another Washington power grab that will make it harder for Iowans to farm, ranch, and build,” Ernst said in a statement. Trump EPA's rule set a significantly narrower definition of which waters are covered under federal protections, excluding wetlands connected to covered waters through groundwater, many ditches, and ephemeral streams, or streams that flow with rainwater. Environmentalists said that went further than rolling back the Obama-era regulation, excluding from federal protections waters that have been covered for decades. The Biden administration is expected to revisit the issue as it is among the Trump-era rules that the new administration has under review

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 29, 2021 |


FSA Temporarily Suspends CFAP Payments USDA has temporarily suspended making payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), citing the regulatory review underway by the new Biden administration. “In accordance with the White House memo, Regulatory Freeze Pending Review, USDA has suspended the processing and payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program,” USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced. “Additional Assistance and has halted implementation until further notice. FSA local offices will continue to accept applications during the evaluation period.” The agency further noted, “In the coming days, USDA and the Biden Administration intend to take additional steps to bring relief and support to all parts of food and agriculture during the coronavirus pandemic, including by ensuring producers have access to the capital, risk management tools, disaster assistance, and other federal resources.” In guidance issued to state and county offices, FSA advised that “some activities have been suspended during the transition between Administrations. This routine action was taken to provide an opportunity for the incoming Administration to understand and evaluate the features of CFAP, including recent statutory provisions included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.” FSA said that the suspension of activity applies to “additional assistance under CFAP 1 and 2.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 29, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CST Friday will be the release of personal income, consumer spending and core inflation numbers. We will also be watching for the announcement of any additional China purchases of corn and soybeans, and weather in South America. Weather Dry conditions will cover the entire central and eastern U.S. Friday. Temperatures will be seasonal north and east and above normal south and west. A winter storm in the western U.S. is slated to cross into the Midwest during the weekend with potentially heavy rain and snow.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 28, 2021 |


USDA Announces COVID-19 Farm Loan Relief The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs. The measures are to provide relief to farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA will temporarily suspend non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice. USDA has extended deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers. In addition, for the Guaranteed Loan program, flexibilities have been made available to lenders to assist in servicing their customers. The announcement expands previous actions to lessen financial hardship. According to USDA data, more than 12,000 borrowers, approximately ten percent of all borrowers, are eligible for the relief. The temporary suspension is in place until further notice and is expected to continue while the national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place. ************************************************************************************ NFU: USDA Debt Relief Will Help Keep Farmers in Business The National Farmers Union says the Department of Agriculture debt relief action Wednesday will provide farmers much-needed relief. USDA announced that it will temporarily suspend past-due debt collections and foreclosures for farmers borrowing under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs while also offering flexibilities under the Guaranteed Loan Program. Additionally, the agency plans to halt foreclosures and evictions that are already underway. The announcement comes as a relief to NFU, which has been pushing legislators and administration officials to provide family farmers and ranchers with the support they need to withstand the added challenges caused by the pandemic. In a statement, NFU President Rob Larew lauded the action, saying that it will be particularly beneficial to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. Larew says, “By suspending debt collections and foreclosures, the agency will help struggling farmers stay on their land and continue growing food for their fellow Americans.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces More Key Staff Appointments The Department of Agriculture announced more names of folks serving in key staff positions Wednesday. Rebecca Piazza was named Senior Advisor for Delivery in the Food, Nutrition and Consumer services undersecretary’s office. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Program Delivery at Nava Public Benefit Corporation. Steffanie Bezruki was named Chief of Staff in Rural Business Services. During nearly seven years on Capitol Hill, she served in various leadership positions, including most recently as Legislative Director for Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer. Abbey Meller was named Confidential Assistant in the Congressional Relations Office. She served as an Organizing Associate at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. Paul Zeiss was named Confidential Assistant in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Before joining USDA, Zeiss served in various capacities on President Joe Biden’s campaign, most recently as a field organizer. And, Tharun Vemulapalli was named Confidential Assistant in the Farm Production and Conservation undersecretary’s office. Vemulapalli previously served as a field organizer for the Democratic Party, working primaries, caucuses and the general election. ************************************************************************************ Senate Ag Committee Schedules Vilsack Confirmation Hearing The Senate Agriculture Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack. The committee will meet Tuesday, February 2, at 10:30 ET, to consider the nomination. Committee leadership, Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow and Arkansas Republican John Boozman made the announcement Wednesday. Vilsack is expected to enjoy a smooth confirmation process overall. Vilsack previously served as Agriculture Secretary for all eight years of the Obama administration before heading up the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The Iowa native has broad support from agriculture in returning to the Department of Agriculture. However, a coalition of progressive groups, including Food and Water Watch and Progressive Democrats of America, urged Senators to block the confirmation, claiming, "Tom Vilsack is in the pocket of "Big Ag." Last week, President Joe Biden assigned Kevin Shea as the acting Agriculture Secretary until Vilsack is confirmed by the Senate. Shea has been the administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service since 2013. ************************************************************************************ Executive Order Seeks to Conserve 30% of U.S. Lands and Oceans by 2030 President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that his administration says will help restore balance on public lands and waters. The executive action focused on climate change directs the Interior Department to outline steps to achieve the President's commitment to conserving at least 30 percent each of lands and waters by the year 2030. Interior will undertake the process with broad engagement, including agricultural and others, to identify strategies that reflect the priorities of all communities. The Biden Administration says it will work to achieve the goal by supporting local, state, private, and tribally led nature conservation and restoration efforts that are underway across America. The action also directs the Interior Department to pause new oil and natural gas leasing on public lands and offshore waters. The Biden administration says the order will create jobs, and provide a path to align the management of America’s public lands and waters with the nation’s climate, conservation, and clean energy goals. ************************************************************************************ Americans to Eat Record 1.42 Billion Chicken Wings for Super Bowl LV The National Chicken Council says consumers will eat two percent more chicken wings during the upcoming Super Bowl. On Super Bowl weekend, Americans will devour an estimated record of 1.42 billion wings while watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers battle for the Lombardi Trophy. The National Chicken Council’s annual Wing Report shows several reasons for the uptick. NCC spokesperson Tom Super says, "restaurants like wing joints and pizza places were built around takeout and delivery, so they didn't have to change their business model that much during the pandemic." Wings also align with consumer desire for comfort food during the pandemic. Department of Agriculture data also confirms the demand. According to the most recent Cold Storage Reports, there was a 29 percent reduction in November and a 24 percent reduction in December in year-over-year wing inventories in cold storage, meaning restaurants and retailers took a lot of wings out of freezers and stocked up months in advance for the big game.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 28, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Challenges for USDA The New York Times carried a detailed retrospective this week on the “State of the Union for food.” It began by noting that “transition memos from the left flank of American agriculture” have been piling up including pleas small and large.” It listed several: fix the rules for raising organic livestock and reverse the department's track record with Black farmers. Restore school food standards and strengthen GMO labels. Prioritize the climate crisis. There was even a suggestion to change the name to the Department of Food and Well-Being, among many others. Still, the Times said that a key perspective about USDA for “food warriors,” who worry that their issues were shoved back several squares on the game board under former President Trump is that USDA is an understaffed agency facing staggering hunger and safety challenges.” It will likely be led by Tom Vilsack, who was Agriculture secretary in the Obama administration is expected to be confirmed by the Senate for another turn, NYT said and commented that “he has already sketched out his agenda.” “There are probably five very, very large challenges ahead that have to be dealt with very quickly,” Vilsack said. Topping the list is protecting Agriculture Department employees and people who process the nation's food from the virus, and figuring out which land-grant universities, government laboratories and other department offices might be able to store and administer vaccines. Hunger relief was listed as a pressing issue, as are two of his boss's other priorities: promoting social justice and fighting climate change. Next comes propping up regional food systems and helping farmers. However, the Times also notes that Vilsack is returning to a vastly different department from the one he ran in the Obama era, when it landed on the Forbes list of America's best employers. Morale is low and many positions are unfilled – especially in agencies that provide the data and scientific research for policy decisions. The Agriculture Department, with a budget of $153 billion and nearly 100,000 employees, runs 29 agencies and offices whose jobs range from feeding the poorest Americans and regulating what public schoolchildren eat to managing forests and helping farmers sell commodities like soybeans abroad. Under President Obama, childhood nutrition and the quality of school food became a priority. Michelle Obama created a permanent White House garden and climate-friendly policies gained traction. When President Trump arrived at the White House, his supporters joked about turning the garden into a putting green. His USDA secretary, Sonny Perdue, moved the department's largest science-based research agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, from Washington to Kansas City, Mo. Many employees resigned rather than move – the staffs were gutted, limiting the agencies' effectiveness. Also, President Trump became a champion in many rural communities, easing regulations and paying farmers when his “get tough” trade policies and the pandemic hurt sales. But the mood was bleak on the other side, according to Laura Batcha, the chief executive officer of the Organic Trade Association which represents a $50 billion segment of the food industry. “The root of it was a hyper-anti-regulatory agenda with no respect for organics or other forms of sustainable agriculture.” The Times says that some advocates, like Batcha, have strong hopes for Vilsack – but others consider him a retread and not even all agribusiness and commodity farmers are happy with his nomination. Still, the new president went with experience, seeking someone who could immediately get to work on pandemic-related safety and nutrition issues. The number of Americans who face hunger rose by some estimates to more than 50 million in 2020, from about 34 million in 2019, the Times said. Last week, President Biden signed an executive order that would increase both the amount of federal food assistance for about 12 million people who use the supplemental nutrition programs and the grocery money given to families with school-age children. He has also included more money for other federal feeding programs in his proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. The pandemic has shown how fragile the food-supply chain is, Vilsack said, and has underscored the need to open more regional and local markets and increase the number of meat processors so the country isn't so reliant on a handful of plants. Changes that many people thought were decades away, like universal school meals, stronger urban-rural supply chains and e-commerce for agriculture, have accelerated during both the pandemic and the Trump administration, said Krystal Oriadha, the senior director of policy and programs at the National Farm to School Network. Farmers, environmentalists and anti-hunger advocates were forced to strengthen relationships based on a new understanding of how interconnected and vulnerable the food system is. “This is a new moment, with a new generation of voters is putting pressure on ideas around environmental and racial-justice issues like we haven't had before,” she said. “If we have one-idea-fits-all at the national level, it just gets watered down,” she said. “I can't think nationally anymore. I need to act locally. I need to go where the doors are open.” So, we will see. Clearly, the ag industry is far more complicated now than it used to be and many of its key issues are extremely controversial—especially those linked to the environment and other social issues. These are concerns that producers should watch especially closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 28, 2021 |


Sinclair Confirms Receipt of RFS Waivers In Court Filing Sinclair Oil Corporation said in court filings this week it was the recipient of waivers of its Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) obligations via small refinery exemptions (SRES) granted by the Trump administration earlier this month. Reuters reported that Sinclair was the recipient of at least two of the three waivers granted. Sinclair made the admission in court filings defending the waivers in response to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFS) filing to block the waivers; The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled the three waivers granted by EPA should be stayed. Sinclair filed the statement in court, saying it had the right to intervene in the matter as if the SREs are blocked, it would face financial harm. It is not clear if Sinclair was the recipient of all three waivers issued by the Trump administration last week — two for the 2019 compliance year and one for the 2018 compliance year. The SRE issue is just one of the biofuel policy matters facing the new administration as EPA also now has to put forth proposed levels for the 2021 biofuels and 2022 biodiesel levels under the RFS.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 28, 2021 |


USDA 's FAS In China Still Notes Uncertainty On Over-Quota Tariffs On Corn Imports The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in China has kept its import forecast for corn at 22 million metric tons for 2020-21, indicating that the country will likely use imports of sorghum, barley and other grains in feed rations. But the report also addressed the issue of China's corn imports, which FAS pegs at 4.5 mmt more than the official USDA level. The calendar year 2020 corn imports by China surpassed the 7.2 mmt tariff-rate quota (TRQ), the report noted, “with no slowdown in sight.” But the issue of the 65% tariff that is applied to imports above the TRQ remains a question, as the report said, “It remains unclear if the 65% out of quota duty was applied to imported corn or if additional TRQs were quietly issued as official government agencies remain silent on the matter. In addition, there is rampant industry speculation of a 'special TRQ' that will be used for China to import U.S. corn to meet its purchase commitments under the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement.” It is interesting that even USDA's on-the-ground offices in China are unable to unearth additional details on the 65% tariff that applies to imports above the TRQ levels, a key question given that China's appetite continues strong for U.S. corn, including 1.36 mmt of purchases announced Tuesday by USDA.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 28, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday, USDA's weekly export sales report, weekly U.S. jobless claims, a report of U.S. GDP for the fourth quarter and the latest U.S. Drought Monitor all are set for release. U.S. new home sales and a U.S. index of leading indicators are due out at 9 a.m., followed by natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Traders continue to keep a close watch on the latest weather forecasts and any export news that develops. Weather Dry conditions are in store across the central U.S. Thursday. Precipitation will be confined to light snow in the Great Lakes. Temperatures will be seasonally cold in the Midwest and near to above normal in the Plains. A storm system in the western U.S. is indicated to bring rain and snow to the Midwest during the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 27, 2021 |


Biden to Approach China with Strategic Patience The Biden administration will approach economic and trade relations with China with “strategic patience.” The administration is starting to review current policies, including reviewing tariffs, but that doesn’t mean Biden favors removing tariffs. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (Sock-ee) said early this week the President “will take a multilateral approach to engaging with China, and that includes evaluating the tariffs currently in place,” adding, “the President is committed to stopping China’s economic abuses on many fronts." The Phase One trade agreement between the U.S. and China has increased China's purchases of U.S. farm commodities. However, the purchases are still not on target to reach levels pledged in the agreement. China is expected to continue the increased purchases in 2021. A China Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson responded, "We hope the new U.S. administration will learn from the Trump administration's lessons where they carried out the wrong policies on China.” ************************************************************************************ U.S. and EU Groups Seek Tariff Relief A group of 72 EU and U.S. organizations urges leaders to remove or at least suspend all additional and retaliatory tariffs affecting or threatening Trans-Atlantic trade. In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden and the EU Commission President, the groups say suspending the tariffs is urgently needed to address economic harms. Specifically, the groups refer to tariffs on large civil aircraft and steel and aluminum disputes. Food and agricultural goods make up a disproportionate number of the EU’s overall tariff line, according to a 2020 analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The most impacted group includes alcohol, tobacco and cotton. The next largest category is oilseeds, oils and fats. The letter states, “We believe immediate suspension of these tariffs is a necessary and fundamental action, which will provide an economic stimulus at a time when it is needed most.” Groups signing the letter include the American Soybean Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the U.S. Grains Council and others. ************************************************************************************ Farmer Co-ops Applaud White House Call to Buy American The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives applauded President Joe Biden’s Buy American executive order signed this week. The action supports manufacturers, businesses and workers to ensure that federal purchasing programs follow Buy American requirements. The order seeks to close loopholes in how domestic content is measured, create a new position at the Office of Management and Budget to oversee the issue, and increase oversight of waivers to domestic preference laws. The Council has long supported enforcing and strengthening the Buy American provisions in programs administered by the Department of Agriculture, such as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. NCFC and its members have expressed deep concern in recent years over a marked increase in the amount of foreign-produced food served under the school lunch and breakfast programs. NCFC President and CEO Chuck Conner says, "Sourcing non-U.S. foods—even when competitively priced domestic alternatives are available—not only runs counter to the law, but destroys jobs across the value chain.” ************************************************************************************ Tester: QLA Does Not Provide Adequate Support for Feed Grain Producers U.S. Senator Jon Tester says the Farm Service Agency has further delayed disaster assistance support for farmers who were hit by quality losses in 2018 and 2019. Despite the recent rollout of the Quality Loss Assistance Program, the Montana Democrat says some producers were left out of the assistance package. Tester says QLA does not provide adequate support for producers that sold grain as feed. Under existing QLA guidelines, producers must submit quality discount settlement documentation, which is not often issued for feed wheat. Without documentation, Tester says, “this means that the producers who need QLA the most are unable to make full use of this program." The Department of Agriculture QLA program's announcement earlier this month was meant to provide relief to producers who suffered crop quality losses in 2018 and 2019. It was created to supplement relief provided to farmers through the Wildfire, Hurricane, and Indemnity Program Plus. Tester urged the Farm Service Agency to correct the claimed errors. ************************************************************************************ Family-owned Farms Account for 96% of U.S. Farms Family farms comprise 96 percent of all U.S. farms and 82 percent of the value of all agricultural products sold. The Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service recently released the data in the 2017 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report. The report focuses on the family farm, defined as any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the producer and individuals related to the producer. The report classifies all farms into unique categories based on two criteria, who owns the operation and GCFI, gross cash farm income. GCFI includes the producer’s sales of crops and livestock, fees for delivering commodities under production contracts, government payments, and farm-related income. The data shows that small family farms, those farms with a GCFI of less than $350,000 per year, account for 88 percent of all U.S. farms, 46 percent of total land in farms, and 19 percent of the value of all agricultural products sold. However, the number of family farms decreased by four percent since 2012. ************************************************************************************ Corn Belt Land Market Seeing Strong Prices Buying interest in farmland has been stable for the past several years. However, the level of interest grew starting last summer in the eastern Corn Belt. Farmers National Company reports prices for top-quality cropland sold at auctions and listings increased significantly since before harvest. Demand for good farmland has improved, and good cropland is selling for prices last seen in 2013. Government payments, low-interest rates, and rising grain prices sustained farmers' interest in buying land, especially in the fall. The boost in net farm income provided the financial comfort for farmers to step into the land market. Farmers National Company's land sales volume was up 35 percent during the final quarter of 2020 compared to 2019 despite a normal to lower supply of land for sale in the overall market. Looking ahead, the company suggests investor interest and farmer demand coupled with a low supply of good cropland on the market will continue to drive the land prices in 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 27, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Efforts to Prevent Future Pandemics Bloomberg is reporting this week that the new Biden administration is arguing that even without a “home run antiviral” for COVID-19, Dr. Francis Collins is proposing a big push to develop a treatment from scratch to prepare for future coronavirus outbreaks. That work will likely take several years, the longtime director of the National Institutes of Health acknowledged. By then the nation should be long past “herd immunity” in the present crisis.” But even with the unprecedented success of vaccine development for COVID-19 — much of which built on decades of basic research funded at the NIH — Collins sees the need for a lot of work ahead. “We must not lose this opportunity. Even as we hope we're going to get past the worst of SARS-CoV-2, we've got to keep this momentum going. There will be other pandemics. And some of them may very well be coronaviruses.” When Dr. Collins was reappointed to lead the nation's biomedical research programs, he became the only NIH director to be tapped by three different presidents for the role — and also will be one of the longest-serving NIH directors of all time. Collins said that Jan. 22 was the third day working under his third administration — and he focused on priorities both for the COVID-19 response and beyond. The decision to keep Collins isn't surprising, as he's one of the few bipartisan political appointees in a very partisan environment, Bloomberg said. President Barack Obama first nominated Collins in 2009 and it was a group of Republicans who urged then President-elect Donald Trump in late 2016 to keep him. Collins said that his renomination came after a “very nice, brief conversation” with President-elect Joe Biden about the need for consistent leadership in an important moment for biomedical research and how the two had worked well together when Biden was the vice president. Biden led the Cancer Moonshot initiative to double the rate of progress on cancer prevention and therapies. Biden told Collins that “he had a lot of confidence in what he was doing and what he could do. And so, he was saying, and asked, Will you agree to be carried over?' And, of course, I said yes.” “Of course, Tony Fauci is very much in the center of what is being done about COVID. And Tony and I do speak nowadays several times a day on making sure to make the most of this opportunity for science to lead the effort,” he said, referring to the director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who's Biden's chief medical adviser on COVID-19. Their priorities include more work on vaccines, new therapeutics, and better tests, Collins said. On the vaccine effort, NIH is starting a program to understand whether virus mutations lessen how well vaccines and monoclonal antibodies work. They're also working on a testing pilot project with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would essentially flood a community with free, at home testing to see if it changes behaviors. “We are still not yet at the point where we need to be in terms of knowing what's the right approach to testing to get schools reopened, to make it safe for everybody to come back to the workplace, to open up restaurants and other places that people would like to go, which is just not safe right now,” Collins said. Collins said he hopes the testing pilot program will be up and running in a few weeks. On therapeutics, Collins said the agency has worked to identify the most promising ideas among hundreds and hundreds to put them into well-designed, rigorous, and faster, protocolâ??driven clinical trials. There have been some successes, including recent findings that full-dose blood thinners reduce the need for life support and led to better outcomes for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Collins said “the study showed actually it caused no more side effects—and that it was clearly successful in terms of keeping people from ending up on the ventilator.” Scientists are also moving forward with more monoclonal antibody therapeutics, Collins said. But long term there's a need to develop antivirals that are specific to the coronavirus, such as remdesivir, an antiviral mediation. “We hoped that there might be some that had already been developed for other viruses and remdesivir was really the only one that came through. But it is not a home run. It's a benefit, but it's not what you really hope to have,” Collins said. The NIH director said he's hoping there will be additional funding, particularly under supplemental virus relief packages. While the pandemic has been the top R&D priority, Collins mentioned a number of other research areas he wants to advance as part of the $42.9 billion agency he oversees. These include cancer immunotherapy, gene therapy, and research in Alzheimer's disease, the opioid crisis and the long-term effects of COVID-19. “That's just a short list,” he said. “We really want to get fully empowered again.” So, we will see. There is still a “fog of war” surrounding the virus, its mutations and how best to treat it and how to prevent similar outbreaks in the future, so Dr. Collins and his colleagues have their work cut out for them for some time. These efforts will be central to full U.S. economic recovery, and producers should watch them closely as they continue to be implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 27, 2021 |


Proposed Rule From EPA On Biofuel and Biodiesel Levels Formally Withdrawn From OMB Review The proposed rule on 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that has been shown as under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) since May has been formally withdrawn. The development means that the Biden administration EPA will now have to send forth a new proposed rule on the levels. The Trump administration had previously set a goal of putting for the proposed levels by December and finalizing them by June. It is not clear what the new timeline will be for the proposed and final levels. The move is not surprising given the Biden administration undertaking a review of uncompleted and completed regulations from the Trump administration. Normally, the proposed RFS levels are released in June or July of the year prior to them taking effect with a statutory deadline of November 30 for the levels to be finalized for the coming year (biodiesel levels are set a year in advance).

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 27, 2021 |


New Republican Members Of House Ag Committee Set There will be seven new Republican members of the House Ag Committee, according to recommendations from the House Republican Steering Committee. New members include Reps. Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota, Tracey Mann of Kansas, Randy Feenstra of Iowa, Michael Cloud of Texas, Kat Cammack of Florida, Barry Moore of Alabama and Mary Miller of Illinois. Democrats have not yet finalized their Ag panel membership. The new slate of members underscores the need for educating new members on U.S. farm policy, a situation which has seemingly increased with each election cycle as members with years/decades of experience in farm policy are either replaced or retire.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 27, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CST Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department releases a report of U.S. durable goods orders for December. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly energy inventory report, including ethanol, at 9:30 a.m. The Federal Reserve concludes its open market committee meeting at 2 p.m. and is expected to keep the federal funds rate target near zero. Traders continue to examine the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export news. Weather Light snow is in store for the southern Midwest Wednesday. Other crop areas will be dry, allowing for clearing of roads in areas that had heavy snow earlier this week. Northern areas will be very cold; wind chill bulletins cover much of the far Northern Plains. A large storm system bringing rain and snow to the Far West is indicated to be a rain and snow producer in the Midwest during the coming weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 26, 2021 |


Biden Speaks with Canada’s Trudeau President Joe Biden spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday in his first call with a foreign official. The leaders discussed combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening economic ties, defense and climate change. They also discussed the U.S.-Canada supply chain, along with promoting and protecting the economic relationship between the U.S. and Canada, including bilateral trade and energy commitments. Trudeau raised Canada’s disappointment with the United States’ decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, underscoring “the important economic and energy security benefits of our bilateral energy relationship,” as well as his support for energy workers. Biden halted construction on the controversial pipeline via an executive order on his first day in office. The White House noted Biden acknowledged the disappointment regarding the decision, adding Biden "reaffirmed his commitment to maintain an active bilateral dialogue and to further deepen cooperation with Canada.” The two leaders agreed to meet next month to continue the dialogue. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Heather Dawn Thompson as Director, Office of Tribal Relations The Department of Agriculture Monday announced Heather Dawn Thompson's appointment as Director of the Office of Tribal Relations. USDA says Thompson is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, a Harvard Law School graduate, and an expert in American Indian law, tribal sovereignty, and rural tribal economic development. With Thompson in place, USDA will return the position directly under the Secretary, “restoring the office’s important government-to-government role.” A USDA spokesperson says it's "important to have a Director who can serve as a lead voice on tribal issues, relations and economic development within the Office of the Secretary." Most recently, Thompson served as a member of the American Indian Law Practice Group, where she worked on federal Indian law and Tribal agriculture. In the private sector, Thompson was previously a partner at Dentons, where she was one of only a handful of Native American partners at an “AmLaw 100” law firm. ************************************************************************************ 2021 Pork Industry Forum Will be a Virtual Event The National Pork Board recently announced the 2021 Pork Industry Forum will be a virtual event. The organization says the decision comes after much consideration and guidance from health officials. The event largely serves as a planning session for the National Pork Board. The virtual event, scheduled for March 3-5, 2021, includes the Pork Act Delegate session. The 15 producers who serve as members of the National Pork Board and Pork Checkoff staff leadership will hear directly from Pork Act delegates appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. Each year the delegates confer, vote on resolutions and advisements and provide direction on the issues facing pork producers and the industry. All pork producers and media are invited to attend the Pork Act Delegate Session. The National Pork Board says a detailed agenda and registration details will be available soon. The 2020 event was held in Kansas City, Missouri. The 2022 Pork Industry Forum will be held in Louisville, Kentucky. ************************************************************************************ Colorado Senators Ask Biden to keep BLM HQ in Colorado Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper recently reiterated their support for a fully functioning Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado. The Democrats penned a letter to President Joe Biden touting the benefits of a fully-fledged headquarters on the Western Slope. Despite committing to move the headquarters to Colorado, the Department of the Interior assigned 41 senior staff positions to Grand Junction, many of which they rushed to fill at the end of 2020. Bennet has supported moving the BLM national headquarters West for years, commenting on the idea in August 2017. As Governor, Hickenlooper advocated for the BLM to move its headquarters and touted the economic benefits for the state. In July 2019, then-Secretary Bernhardt announced that the BLM headquarters would move to Grand Junction, and just over a year later the department signed an order formalizing the move. However, the Senators say, “Despite these important and symbolic steps, the Trump Administration did not follow through on their commitment to Grand Junction.” ************************************************************************************ Rising Dairy Consumption Providing Comfort in a Challenging Time Data shows dairy is bringing some comfort during a challenging time. Throughout the market ups and downs of the pandemic era, consumers love of dairy products has been constant, even rising in 2020 from 2019, according to the National Milk Producers Federation. Retail dairy purchases, which jumped at the pandemic's beginning, remained elevated throughout the year. With more meals being prepared at home, dairy has provided comfort in uncomfortable times. Coffee was complemented with real dairy cream or half-and-half. Milk remained essential to family nutrition. Milk consumption itself saw gains across all categories. Buttermilk use rose with the baking revival, organic and conventional volumes of fluid milk rose, and lactose-free milk saw increases comparable to those of plant-based beverages – which, is a comparably-sized market to that of lactose-free alone. Milk sales also grew more than plant-based beverages during the pandemic, nearly $1 billion in growth compared to less than $400 million for plant-based drinks. ************************************************************************************ Growing the Future of Agriculture through Give FFA Day The National FFA Organization will again hold Give FFA Day. In 2020, through generous donations from FFA supporters, students and teachers across the country were able to continue to make a difference. Once again, during National FFA Week, individuals will have an opportunity to step up and support FFA and agricultural education through Give FFA Day on Thursday, February 25. This year, the organization has a goal of getting 1,500 donors during the 24-hour period. FFA corporate partners will also participate in increasing contributions by matching them dollar-for-dollar on Give FFA Day. The first $25,000 donated will be matched by Carhartt, and the second $25,000 will be matched by John Deere. Other challenges will be announced throughout the day. In addition, former FFA members and FFA alumni are encouraged to donate $19.71 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the National FFA Alumni, which was chartered in 1971. To prepare for Give FFA day, visit FFA.org/GiveFFADay.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Reviving WTO, US Trade Policy Bloomberg is reporting this week that the U.S. has considerable work to do before it rolls out its trade policy modifications. For example, the U.S. delegation to the WTO, in a statement Monday, said it's “not in a position” to back a proposal on appellate panel members, citing Biden's inauguration five days ago and continuing work on the transition. The delay affects attempts to fill the vacancies on the WTO's appellate body – a seven-seat panel that has the final say on disputes that affect billions of dollars in commerce. The gridlock began after the Trump administration unilaterally opposed all new appointments to the panel. While the U.S. has indicated its intention to work with allies to address mutual international concerns, the fate of the appellate body could remain in a holding pattern as the president attends to more pressing domestic issues. Furthermore, the U.S. Senate has yet to confirm the administration's nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, who is expected to lead the administration's approach to WTO reform. In the meantime, the EU says it plans to introduce a new proposal aimed at addressing U.S. concerns with the appellate body in an effort to engage Washington on substantive reforms to the WTO. “We need a new EU-U.S. understanding on the appellate body or on the dispute settlement system,” EU Director-General for Trade Sabine Weyand said earlier this month. Weyand said the EU will build upon a roadmap developed by WTO general council chairman David Walker to clarify the WTO's dispute settlement rules and potentially negotiate new ones to address the changes that have emerged since they were first agreed in 1995. In addition, Bloomberg is reporting that recent remarks from Chinese President Xi indicate his determination to “stay the course” on trade and his charge that the world should abandon “ideological prejudice” and shun an “outdated Cold-War mentality.” It's vital to stay committed to international law and international rules “instead of staying committed to supremacy,” Xi told the Davos Agenda event on Monday, in his first address since President Biden entered the White House. “Confrontation will lead us to a dead end,” he said, and urged a return to mutual respect to help the recovery from the pandemic. “To build small circles and start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimate others, to willfully impose decoupling, supply disruptions, or sanctions, or to create isolation or estrangement, will only push the world into division and even confrontation,” he said. Xi's speech had been widely anticipated for the tone it would set for relations between the world's biggest economies over the next four years. Though Xi did not name Biden by name, many of his comments were clearly targeted at the new U.S. administration. Xi repeated many of the same talking points about multilateralism and “win-win” outcomes that he deployed in his last address to Davos four years ago, days before Donald Trump's inauguration, but he also signaled that he does not intend to change course in the face of U.S. pressure. “Each country is unique with its own history, culture and social system, and none is superior to the other,” Xi said, warning against imposing a “hierarchy on human civilization” or forcing one's own systems onto others. During the address, Xi hinted at his desire to reestablish high-level dialogue with the incoming administration, calling for countries to “enhance political trust through strategic communication.” The Chinese leader succeeded in building a cordial personal relationship with Trump even as the two powers descended into a trade war. That effort led to the development of official dialogue tracks which eventually disintegrated over the course of Trump's presidency. By the time Biden was sworn in, more than 100 officially organized exchange forums had been disbanded and tariffs imposed on almost $500 billion of products. While Biden hasn't given many specifics on how he'll deal with these and other flashpoints, he has signaled a shift from confrontation to competition. In his speech, Xi steered clear of the triumphal tone evident in some of his domestic addresses in recent years. In a speech last September, Xi said China's pandemic response demonstrated the “superiority” of China's political system. In others, he has argued that “China is moving closer to the center of the world stage.” And Bloomberg thinks “the president spoke from a position of strength.” China has been the only major economy to report growth amid the pandemic last year, and economists are forecasting an expansion of 8.3% this year, compared with 4.1% in the U.S. So, we will see. The administration is facing numerous difficult transition objectives just now, including efforts to control the coronavirus and its impacts on the economy. Certainly, the links to China and the EU will eventually be of central importance and producers should watch closely as these key policy links are debated and implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 26, 2021 |


Few Pending Regs at OMB in Wake of Biden Administration Review Very few regulations remain under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the Biden administration undergoes a review of prior and pending regulatory actions from the Trump administration. There are currently no USDA regulations pending review at OMB, and prior regulations that were at OMB have been mostly withdrawn, including ones dealing with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the use of radio frequency identification tag for cattle and bison, and a final rule on imports of small ruminants relative to BSE. Of five pending from EPA, the list still shows the 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel proposed levels as being under review. The regulatory agenda from the Biden administration continues to take shape, but it is clear that many of their initial actions will be linked to likely altering any pending actions left from the Trump administration and then deciding how to proceed relative to regulations that were put in place over the past four years.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 26, 2021 |


WSJ: China Seeking High-Level Meeting With New US Administration China has continued to push for a meeting between top-level officials from both countries as the Biden administration continues to take shape, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Beijing is pressing for a meeting of its top diplomat with senior aides to President Joe Biden to explore a summit between the two nations' leaders, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the initiative. The proposal, made soon after President Xi Jinping congratulated Joe Biden on his election victory, was through letters by the Chinese ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, and through conversations with intermediaries, the WSJ noted. Beijing raised the idea starting in December of dispatching Yang Jiechi, a member of the Politburo, the Communist Party's top decision-making body, to Washington. Yang plans to focus on climate change, the pandemic and getting an initial meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, with the focus shifted away from trade — the issue that has dominated Sino-U.S. relations. Biden, however, has said he would meet first with allies to discuss issues including how to jointly confront China. He has already spoken with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others. The WSJ said Chinese officials believe that the Biden administration will eventually want to renegotiate the U.S.-China Phase One trade deal, but it added it is unclear whether Biden's choice for U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will push for enforcement of the Phase One deal or press for a new round of negotiations. Given that the Biden administration has made the U.S. economy a priority and trade has been relegated to a lower focus, and the administration's signal that it wants to enlist U.S. allies to take on China, a top-level meeting is not expected to take place soon.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 26, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders continue to watch the latest weather forecasts, including winter storms across the U.S. and will take a time out at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has an export sale to announce. The only official report on Tuesday's docket is an index of U.S. consumer confidence, due out at 9 a.m. CST. Weather Moderate to heavy snow will cover much of the Midwest Tuesday. The snow will create transportation and safety issues and be stressful to livestock. We'll also see areas of rain in the Southeast. Snow forming in the Southwest will move into the southern Plains during Tuesday-Wednesday. Northern areas will be cold and dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 25, 2021 |


New Swine Fever Virus Affecting Chinese Herds Industry insiders tell Reuters that a new form of African swine fever is popping up on Chinese pig farms. The timing is not good for the world’s biggest pork producer that’s still trying to recover from a devastating epidemic. Two new strains of African Swine Fever have infected over 1,000 sows on several farms owned by China’s fourth-largest pork producer. It’s also showing up in pigs being fattened for the firm by contract farmers. A company spokesperson says the disease isn’t quite the same as the wild African Swine Fever Virus because the new variant doesn’t kill the large number of pigs that China lost in 2018 and 2019. The new strain causes a chronic condition that reduces the number of healthy piglets born to sows. But infected pigs are culled from herds to prevent the spread, which makes the disease ultimately fatal. Many Chinese farmers turned to unapproved products to help protect their animals. Chinese experts fear the illicit vaccines created accidental infections that have begun to spread. There’s no approved vaccine for ASF, which is not harmful to humans. ************************************************************************************ JBS Offers Bonuses to Workers Who Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Meatpacker JBS and chicken company Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation say they’ll pay 100 dollars to American workers who voluntarily get the COVID-19 vaccine. Yahoo News Dot Com says thousands of U.S. meatpacking workers were infected last year, so the bonus will hopefully encourage employees to get the inoculations. COVID outbreaks temporarily halted most meat production in the spring of 2020, which pushed meat prices higher as supplies tightened up on consumers. Company surveys already show that between 60 and 90 percent of their employees at different facilities were willing to be vaccinated. The companies launched educational efforts to promote the vaccine as a positive step for their employees, some of whom are immigrants from around the world. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, food and agricultural workers will receive the vaccine during a later phase of the rollout, after healthcare workers and people over 75 years old. Rival company Tyson Foods said late last week that it will offer the vaccines on-site at its facilities, so employees can get inoculated while they’re at work. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Report Recommends Improvements at NASS A new report from the American Farm Bureau lays out several recommendations to improve the way the National Agricultural Statistics Service collects surveys and reports data. It also gives recommendations to improve accuracy and farmer confidence in the survey results. The USDA-NASS Working Group made up of 10 farmer-members, spent over four months looking at the processes and methodologies that USDA-NASS uses to put farmer survey data into monthly reports. The recommendations include increasing transparency on how the agency arrives at the numbers reported and providing clarity on the relationship between aggregate, state, and field-level reported numbers. Farm Bureau would also like to see the agency accelerate its adoption of new and innovative technologies. Farm Bureau also wants to work closely with NASS in a variety of ways, including working to encourage farmers’ accurate and timely participation in NASS data collection. “We hope the work done by this group will provide a framework for USDA to make timelier adjustments to these key reports and restore trust in the data we’ve relied on for a long time,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. ********************************************************************************************** Biodiesel Industry Looking for Progress in 2021 During the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, the National Biodiesel Board celebrated the industry’s many achievements in the face of adversity. The NBB hosted more than 550 biodiesel and renewable diesel producers, distributors, retailers, and other industry advocates and partners to talk about the direction of the industry. The NBB has set a goal of six billion gallons of production by 2030. “Our industry has seen its fair share of challenges over the years, but I am proud to say that the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries never gave up, even in the middle of a pandemic,” says NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. “Our members continually beat expectations year after year, and there’s a lot to be excited about as we move forward.” The group shared updates from each of its core program areas, including federal affairs. “Emerging proposals in Washington that would decarbonize the energy and ag sectors, modernize transportation infrastructure, and incentivize research and development can provide new market opportunities for biodiesel,” says Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. The group also discussed state programs that are driving demand for a low-carbon future, as well as sustainability, communications, and outreach and development programs. *********************************************************************************************** Benham Elected Acting Chair of CFTC The Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced that it unanimously elected Commissioner Rostin (RUSS-tin) Behnam as acting chairman. The Hagstrom Report says Behnam succeeds Heath Tarbert, who served as chair since July of 2019, and who will remain as a commissioner until 2024. Behnam says the work of the CFTC is critical to supporting the stability and growth of the American economy through strong oversight and regulation of the derivatives markets. “As a commissioner, I’ve focused on making sure our rules emphasize protecting customers, look into potential systemic risks in the markets, and gaining a better understanding of what regulators can do to address climate-related financial market risk,” Behnam says. “I’m grateful to my fellow commissioners for their support.” Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says she’s been impressed with Behnam’s proactive work to protect the economy from the urgent impacts of climate change. “He’s been a vigilant advocate for Wall Street reform to hold bad actors accountable,” she says. “I look forward to working with him to continue protecting the families, farmers, and the businesses that rely on our agricultural and financial markets.” Behnam previously worked for Stabenow before becoming a CFTC commissioner in 2017. ********************************************************************************************** Groups Oppose the SAFE Rule A group of farm, biofuels, and environmental organizations filed a court brief objecting to the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficiency Vehicle Rule. Their objection is based on grounds that it both fails to account for toxic pollution from aromatic-laden fuels and ignores the important role that ethanol can play in improving fuel efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The rule was finalized last April by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It reversed an Obama-era rule that called for a five percent improvement in vehicle efficiency. In place of that, the SAFE rule established a much smaller 1.5 percent increase in vehicle efficiency each year for light-duty vehicles. The brief was led by the National Farmers Union and includes support from the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, and several other industry stakeholders. “As written, the SAFE rule puts the interests of oil corporations ahead of those in the renewable fuel industry, the environment, and the public at large,” says NFU President Rob Larew. “It will increase our overall emissions, delay the development of renewable fuels, all of which erodes air quality, contributes to climate change, to health risks, and increases the cost of fuel for consumers.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 25, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Renewed Fights Over Clean Air and Carbon Issues Bloomberg is reporting this week that President Joe Biden has teed up a “slew” of clean air and carbon issues and made them “top environmental priorities” for his administration in a new executive order signed this week. The directive affected dozens of Trump-era rules, including carbon emissions, clean air rollbacks, and Clean Air Act rules on science and costs. However, Bloomberg also argued that “any bold standards Biden has in mind to stem emissions from industry through the Clean Air Act will almost certainly get challenged in court.” The unending cycle of rulemakings followed by years-long lawsuits is a signal that the Clean Air Act needs to be amended to give the executive more direct authority, Schiff Hardin LLP environmental partner Jane Montgomery said. “Hopefully, with Biden's experience in Congress, he can recognize that lawsuits are a result of bad law,” she said. Biden may have to choose between innovative actions or traditional “nuts and bolts” regulation under the statute in order to avoid defeat in a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court skeptical of broad agency powers, Loyola University New Orleans Law Professor Robert Verchick said. “It's going to be a lot harder to do more flexible, ambitious, and innovative programs under these older laws because the court, I don't think, is going to have the appetite for it,” he said. The report focused on what it called the most “closely watched air issues” on President Biden's to-do list. In addition, it noted that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed the new administration a huge win Jan. 19 when it struck down President Donald Trump's carbon rule for coal-fired power plants. The new White House now has a fresh start to craft greenhouse gas standards for existing sources. The DC Circuit opinion affirmed Obama-era justifications for regulating power plant carbon under the Clean Air Act, but Hana Vizcarra, a staff attorney at Harvard Law School's Environmental and Energy Program, says she is not expecting what was called “Clean Power Plan 2.0.” “Even the ambitions of the Clean Power Plan were limited compared to what the ambitions of this administration are,” she said. Companion performance standards for new plants were released by the outgoing administration earlier this month. Though the standards were left unchanged from 2015 levels, the Trump administration added a new threshold that sources must meet in order to be regulated under the rule. States and groups quickly launched legal challenges against the most recent rulemaking, claiming the new threshold was added illegally without proper public input. And Biden asked the EPA to swiftly reexamine Trump rules on scientific considerations and cost-benefit analyses under the Clean Air Act. Both rules put limits on how scientific research and cost and benefits are weighed under the statute, which critics worry could further hem Biden's ability to craft new air regulations. The new cost-benefit rule finalized late last year would require agencies to analyze a rule's primary targeted benefits separately from co-benefits like reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The newly finalized science rule puts a limit on how much weight agencies can give nonpublic scientific data in rulemaking analysis. Also on the “chopping block” is a rule that scraps enforcement of a decades-old policy locking in toxic air pollution controls for large facilities. The Clean Air Act requires large refineries and other facilities to always be regulated under the maximum toxic air standards if they qualify as a major source. Trump's EPA crafted a rule that would let those sources off the hook if they managed to lower their emissions — a policy that is expected to be reviewed early in the new administration. Bloomberg also notes that environmentalists are calling on the Biden administration to boost national ambient air quality standards, also called NAAQS, after the previous administration's refusal to beef up protections against dangerous levels of soot and smog pollution. Groups say that stronger NAAQS and the “once in always in” rule are particularly important in stemming the disproportionate air pollution burden carried by communities “on the fence line” of industrial facilities — often comprised predominately people of color. Although it was still enmeshed in lengthy legal battles, Trump administration softened rules on tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions and these are also likely on the Biden administration's radar. The two-part Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule scrapped California's historic waiver to set its own vehicle emission standards and pared back fuel efficiency standards for car manufacturers from 5% to 1.5%. The new administration's order says agencies “should consider the views of representatives from labor unions, States, and industry” when evaluating the rule. Finally, Bloomberg says the new EPA is set to examine emissions regulations for the oil and gas sector on methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. The Trump administration last year scrapped 2016 methane leak monitoring requirements. The move was celebrated by smaller producers, though some large oil and gas companies in compliance with the Obama-era requirements criticized the rollback. Judges refused to put the rule on ice after environmentalists sued to freeze implementation. Legal challenges currently pending on Trump's methane, tailpipe, and other emissions rules could be declared moot when the new Biden administration starts new rulemaking. So, we will see. Clearly, the new administration is pressing for additional environmental rules, in part to replace those recently abandoned but also to impose tighter regulations in support of increasing environmental quality. These will be generally controversial and should be watched closely as they are proposed and litigated, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 25, 2021 |


Farm Bureau Urges More Transparency, Adoption Of New Technology To Boost Confidence In NASS Data More transparency of the data released by the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) and adoption of new and innovative technology would help improve confidence in the agency's estimates, according to a report from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). The group also said that the agency needs to deploy even faster computers and needs more resources to boost its development of more-innovative ways of data gathering and analysis. The group also pledged to work with NASS to help the effort to bolster their data, including what the group said was a key: “Finally, and most importantly, Farm Bureaus across the U.S. should actively work to encourage farmers' accurate and timely participation in NASS data collection efforts.” AFBF put the working group together after its members voted to have the group study the NASS data collection and reporting methodologies in the wake of surprise data releases from NASS in 2019 in the wake of flooding and weather-related planting delay

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 25, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will check the latest weather forecasts and watch for any new export sales announcements at 8 a.m. CST. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CST, followed by a monthly cold storage report at 2 p.m. Some state NASS offices have Crop Progress reports scheduled for Monday afternoon, but there are no significant economic reports on the docket. Weather A snowstorm is in store for the central Plains and much of the Midwest Monday through Tuesday. Heavy snow, cold air and strong winds will be hazardous for transportation and will be stressful to livestock. The snow will offer benefits to southern Plains winter wheat. We'll also see moderate to heavy rain develop in the Delta and portions of the southern Midwest. Some far northern areas will have wind chill issues due to an incursion of cold air.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 22, 2021 |


Biden Names Acting Federal Agency Leaders President Joe Biden designated acting leaders to federal agencies to oversee the government until his political appointments are confirmed upon taking office. Biden assigned Kevin Shea as the acting Agriculture Secretary. Shea will assume the duties until the Senate confirms Biden’s pick, Tom Vilsack, for the top post at USDA. Shea has been administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service since 2013. Vilsack is well-known to agriculture, serving as the Obama administration’s Agriculture Secretary. Biden also appointed Jane Nishida (nah-she-dah) as acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She is the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in the EPA Office of International and Tribal Affairs. She will assume the duties until Michael Regan, Biden’s pick to head the EPA, can be confirmed. Regan spent more than nine years working for the EPA under the Clinton and Bush administrations, and eight years at the Environmental Defense Fund. Regen has spent the last four years leading the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Three Deputy Undersecretaries The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced three senior appointments. USDA named nutrition policy expert Stacy Dean as deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. Before joining USDA, Dean served as vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. USDA also announced Justin Maxson, CEO of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, as deputy undersecretary for rural development. The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation is an organization that works toward poverty alleviation and economic justice in southern states. USDA also announced Mae Wu as deputy undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs. Before joining USDA, Wu served as a senior director at the Natural Resource Defense Council, helping to lead its health and food work. Katharine Ferguson, chief of staff in the Office of the Secretary, says, “We are honored to have professionals of the caliber of Stacy, Justin and Mae join our team.” ************************************************************************************ D.C. Circuit Court Stays Last-minute EPA Waivers The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered a temporary block to last-minute small refinery waivers issued by the Trump administration. The stay is in response to an emergency motion filed Tuesday evening by the Renewable Fuels Associations. Thursday, the court ordered that the Environmental Protection Agency action to grant three small refinery petitions must be “administratively stayed pending further order of the court.” The order prevents EPA from further processing the small refinery exemptions, at least until the court has had “sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay.” EPA has until February 3 to respond to the motion, and any replies are due to the court by February 10. The stay was issued roughly 36 hours after EPA approved two 2019 waiver petitions and one 2018 petition, which—if allowed to stand—would waive another 260 million gallons of Renewable Fuel Standard blending requirements. RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper says, “We took this action immediately to prevent the agency from doing further economic damage.” ************************************************************************************ Republican Senators Criticize Biden Action on Keystone XL Pipeline Following the executive orders signed by President Joe Biden, a group of Republican Senators announced opposition to the halting of construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The effort was led by Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Republicans from Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and North Dakota. Several other western senators are expected to sign on to legislation Daines will introduce to authorize the pipeline's continued construction. In a statement, the Senators say, “It’s only day one, and with the stroke of a pen, Biden has already taken steps to kill American energy projects.” The Senators claim revoking the Keystone XL Pipeline will drive up the price of gas at the pump, cost thousands of jobs, crush the energy industry and put the country back on a path to dependence on foreign oil. The pipeline is also a priority for Canada. President Biden is expected to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by phone Friday. ************************************************************************************ Tyson Agrees to Price-Fixing Settlement Tyson Foods this week agreed to $221.5 million to settle claims related to price-fixing lawsuits. The settlements are with three consumer and commercial purchasing groups who bought chickens directly from Tyson and require a federal judge's approval. Tyson did not admit liability in agreeing to settle and said the payments will be reflected in its first-quarter financial statements, according to Reuters. The company still faces price-fixing claims from large corporations, including Chick-fil-A, Walmart and Sysco. Earlier this month, Pilgrim’s Pride agreed to a $75 million settlement in the litigation. Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms are also included in the litigation. The lawsuit claims chicken producers have conspired since 2008 to inflate prices through tactics such as restricting production and sharing nonpublic data about supply and demand. The U.S. Department of Justice in April of 2019 subpoenaed major chicken firms over the issue. The investigation followed a private antitrust suit brought in 2016 by chicken buyers seeking damages from major producers who allegedly conspired to raise prices. ************************************************************************************ Former Agriculture Secretary Perdue Privileged to Serve Farmers In modern societal norms, perhaps leaving your employer is not official until announced on social media. Former Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue did so this week via Twitter. Perdue stated, “It has been a privilege to serve America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers the past four years." The Trump-era head of the Department of Agriculture promised to continue to fight for U.S. agriculture. Perdue highlighted his visits to farms in all 50 states, saying, "I have learned that while accents and commodities may vary, the heart of the farmer remains the same.” Perdue calls agriculture a selfless profession of men and women who strive to feed a growing population. Perdue added, “I want to thank President Trump for the opportunity he gave me to serve you. Let’s continue to do right and feed everyone.” Perdue served as Agriculture Secretary throughout the entirety of the Trump administration, along with several familiar names to Midwest agriculture in other USDA positions.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 22, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Measuring Social Costs of Carbon Bloomberg is wandering fairly deeply into the regulatory weeds this week as it notes that the Biden climate agenda is working now to measure the “social costs” of carbon. The report highlights that among President Joe Biden's first acts in office was the reassembly of a cross-government team to figure out this cost that Bloomberg calls a “wonky number with broad impacts on federal agency rules.” The president signed an executive order Wednesday directing a team to publish an interim estimate of the social costs of carbon within 30 days. Environmentalists and climate scientists agree that undoing the Trump administration's rules regarding how these costs are calculated and used will play a big role in federal policy, as well as in states that take their lead from the federal government. Bloomberg explains that the issue is the estimated cost to society of releasing a ton of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The revised metrics are to take into account everything from lost agricultural productivity to property damages from strong storms, to diminished fresh water availability – all because of climate change. Measuring the cost to society – real and potential – from greenhouse gas impacts affects how regulators weigh the costs versus benefits of proposed rules. If a rule change would increase emissions, the social costs of carbon are multiplied by the number of extra tons of greenhouse gases expected and added to estimates of the rule's costs. If a rule would lower emissions, the figure derived gets added to the benefits ledger. Actually, such calculations have been U.S. policy for some time, Bloomberg says. The Obama administration's Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases set the first federal social cost of carbon at $21 per ton. By the time President Obama left office in 2017, the figure had risen to $52 per ton. However, President Trump disbanded the working group by executive order soon after taking office and his administration came out with new estimates that were as low as $1 per ton. A figure that low makes it easier for agencies to issue new regulations that are much more permissive because they can more readily find benefits that outweigh the costs. Now, the new administration is reconstituting the former interagency working group, which pulls together experts from across the federal bureaucracy under the auspices of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Office of Management and Budget. The administration intends to estimate an “interim social cost” that ensures agencies are accounting for the full costs of pollution from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, “including climate risk, environmental justice, and intergenerational equity,” Bloomberg says. In June, the Government Accountability Office said the EPA under the Trump administration had arrived at much lower estimates because, among other things, it only considered domestic rather than global costs. It is almost certain that the Biden team will revert to the government's pre-Trump approach. Michael Greenstone, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, said reverting to the Obama-era calculations would yield a social cost of carbon of $125 per ton, assuming it took into account lower interest rates in recent years. Bloomberg notes that the working group will be housed within the executive office, so the president has latitude to put the team back together without involving Congress directly. The same is true of calculating new cost estimates. Interagency task forces are a common approach for issues where more than one agency has a stake, said Naomi Oreskes, a climate science professor at Harvard University. And Biden wants climate considerations to be part of every agency's mission, not just the Environmental Protection Agency. “That's not to say that the usual suspects won't get out their forces to try to undermine, challenge, or deny” the working group's new findings, Oreskes said. “In the past they always have.” Any figure the Biden team comes up with almost certainly will be challenged extensively in court, so the new effort is expected to be defended through formal notice and comment procedures, Greenstone said. Just now, the legal status of “social cost” estimates in executive decisions is somewhat uncertain. Judges have ordered a lot of additional climate analyses recently but haven't often dealt directly with the cost impacts of carbon. When environmentalists have sued to force agencies to use the metric in their environmental reviews, courts have often required additional analysis but deferred to agencies to decide which analytical tools to use. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, for example, has for years rejected calls to consider the social cost of carbon in pipeline decisions, saying the metric is too speculative to be useful. Courts have largely accepted that, though groups are still pushing the issue in various cases. In one major 2020 ruling, a federal judge delved into the technical aspects of the social cost of carbon and faulted the Trump administration for using an estimate that ignored global climate impacts. So, we will see. The new administration appears to be quite serious about efforts to regulate impacts of climate change and can be expected to pursue a number of new rules for that purpose – including those concerning agriculture, which likely will continue to be highly controversial – and which should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 22, 2021 |


Biden Administration Halts All Pending Regulatory Actions The incoming Biden administration has ordered a halt to all pending regulations that were not finalized before the end of the Trump administration. That would include a handful of regulations from USDA, including the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on cattle and bison. This is a usual step that takes place in a change of administration and comes after a review of virtually all regulations promulgated by the Trump administration, including ones linked to the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule put in place by the Obama administration and revised by the Trump administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 22, 2021 |


Temporary Leadership At USDA Named As with other government agencies, a series of officials have been put into temporary roles at USDA while the Biden administration assembles its team. Kevin Shea is serving as acting Agriculture secretary while Tom Vilsack awaits Senate confirmation. Shea has been the administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service since 2013. Robert Bonnie, an advocate for creating an ag carbon bank at USDA, was named deputy chief of staff for policy and senior adviser for climate. He is a former USDA undersecretary for natural resources. Katharine Ferguson is USDA's new chief of staff. She held senior posts in the Obama administration. Matt Herrick is the communications director for USDA, having left the International Dairy Foods Association. Herrick previously served as a spokesman for USDA and then for the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Obama administration. Justo Robles, a Biden campaign official, will be the White House liaison. Robles was the campaign's deputy coalitions director in Georgia. Sara Bleich, a professor at Harvard's Chan School of Public Health, was named senior adviser to Vilsack for COVID-19. Kumar Chandran, a former chief of staff to the department's undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services in the Obama administration, was named senior adviser to Vilsack on nutrition.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 22, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday morning starts with USDA's weekly export sales report at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by a report on U.S. existing home sales at 9 a.m. The Energy Department's weekly natural gas inventory is set for 9:30 a.m. and other energy inventories follow at 10 a.m., including ethanol. At 2 p.m. CST, USDA releases its estimate of U.S. cattle on-feed for Jan. 1. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the Deep South and Southeast Friday. Other crop areas will be mainly dry except for light snow crossing the central Plains. Rain and snow are indicated for the Plains and Midwest later Saturday through Sunday. Temperatures have a more seasonally cold trend through the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 21, 2021 |


Ag and Food Groups Welcome President Biden Agriculture groups welcomed President Joe Biden to Washington, D.C., while looking forward to tackling current issues. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says AFBF "congratulates President Joe Biden,” adding the same for Vice President Kamala Harris “as she makes history as the first woman to serve as America's vice president." Duvall laid out the issues facing rural America in his statement, including labor, broadband and sustainability goals, adding, "Let's get to work on solutions." National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “We stand ready to work with the Biden administration to ensure they are implemented in a way that supports the success” of farmers and ranchers. While congratulating Biden, American Feed Industry Association President and CEO Constance Cullman stated, “Our country is facing tough challenges, but just as a farmer does not give up on farming after a difficult growing year, we will not give up in our belief that we can and will meet these challenges.” ************************************************************************************ Biden Signs Executive Orders Following Inauguration Day one of the Biden administration brought several executive orders signed by the President, including those reversing actions taken during the Trump Administration. President Joe Biden called for unity during his inauguration speech, stating, "We must end this uncivil war that pits red versus blue, rural versus urban,” before planning to sign 17 executive orders later in the day. Of note to rural America and agriculture, the actions include an executive order to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and to block the Keystone XL pipeline. Another executive order halts construction of the border wall by terminating the national emergency declaration used to fund it. Another action seeks to rejoin the World Health Organization. Additionally, the President took steps to extend COVID-19 policies around evictions and student loans. Other actions include executive orders covering human rights, Immigration and ethics. However, his first action created a mask mandate on federal property and public transportation. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Key Staff Appointments The Biden-era Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the names of those who will hold senior staff positions in Washington, D.C. Gregory Parham was named Interim Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration. Parham served as Assistant Secretary for Administration from 2013-2016. Katharine Ferguson was named Chief of Staff in the Office of the Secretary. Ferguson served in the Obama Administration as Chief of Staff for the White House Domestic Policy Council and as Chief of Staff for Rural Development at USDA. Robert Bonnie was named Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Senior Advisor for Climate. Bonnie led the USDA transition team for the Biden administration. Sara Bleich was named Senior Advisor for COVID-19. From 2015-2016, she served as a White House Fellow in the Obama Administration. Kumar Chandran was named Senior Advisor for Nutrition. He served as Chief of Staff to the Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services in the Obama Administration. And Justo Robles was named White House Liaison. Before joining USDA, Robles served as Georgia Deputy Coalitions Director for Biden for President. ************************************************************************************ China Hopeful for Better U.S. Relations with Biden Administration With President Joe Biden taking over in Washington, D.C., China retired it’s claimed stance of improving relations with the United States. A Chinese government official stated Wednesday, “We are committed to developing a relationship with the United States.” That would include trade relations following the Trump trade war. Last week, The U.S. China Business Council called for an end to the trade war, stating failing to do so would cause both short-term shocks to company supply chains. China also issued sanctions on former Trump administration officials Wednesday, as President Biden was sworn into office. Those sanctions included Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was a vocal critic of China. When asked if the nation will miss Pompeo as an “easy target,” a Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson says, "Of course. He's such a good laughing stock. It's like a new drama every day. But I think he has done irreparable damage to the U.S. national image and reputation.” ************************************************************************************ RFA Files Petition and Emergency Motion to Halt Last-minute SREs The Renewable Fuels Association filed a petition for review and an emergency motion to stay the effectiveness of three small refinery exemptions granted Tuesday. The Environmental Protection Agency announced the waivers with less than 24 hours remaining in the Trump administration. RFA’s emergency motion says, “EPA’s decision will inflict substantial, immediate, and irreversible harm.” Data released by EPA Tuesday evening show that the two 2019 compliance exemptions reduced that year’s RFS standards by 150 million gallons, while one 2018 exemption erased 110 million gallons of renewable fuel requirements. The total eliminated volume of 260 million gallons is equivalent to shutting down three or four ethanol plants for a full year, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper says the waivers "are completely without legal merit," adding the organization's request seeks to immediately prevent the agency from doing further economic damage to the ethanol industry. ************************************************************************************ Commodity Classic Announced Dates for Virtual Event Commodity Classic has set the dates for its 2021 Special Edition, which will take place March 2-5, 2021, as a digital experience. Registration will open Tuesday, January 26, 2021, at CommodityClassic.com. The registration fee is waived for the first 5,000 farmers. All other registrants and farmers after the first 5,000 will be charged $20. The registration covers all online educational sessions and events and access to all archived sessions through April 30, 2021. Organizers say the digital experience will focus on providing educational sessions and farmer networking opportunities. Participating sponsors will showcase new products, services and innovation through a variety of online presentations, educational sessions and interactive discussions. Additionally, a lineup of agriculture thought leaders, top-yielding farmers, agribusiness representatives and Commodity Classic association leaders are expected to be on the schedule. In October, Commodity Classic announced that it was pivoting to a digital event due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Commodity Classic was originally scheduled for San Antonio, Texas, in early March.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 21, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Administration Policy Shifts Bloomberg, and others, are reporting this week that Janet Yellen could be in place as Treasury Secretary as soon as Thursday, even after her attempts to sell President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan “faced early Republican opposition during her confirmation hearing. The report said that Biden's pandemic relief plan — announced last week — would provide funding for states and schools, increase unemployment benefits, provide more generous economic impact payments, and increase the federal minimum wage. The breadth of the package was criticized by outgoing Senate Finance chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who called the plan a “laundry list of liberal structural economic reforms,” arguing that it isn't well targeted. Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve, urged Congress to “act big” on stimulus and cautioned against economic “scarring” if it takes too long for more relief to pass. Additional aid, focused on small businesses and the unemployed, would provide “the biggest bang for the buck” to get the country's pandemic-hit economy back up and running again, Yellen said on Tuesday before the committee. Investments in infrastructure and tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy could come later, Yellen also said. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who is poised to lead the panel, pushed for the Thursday timeline for confirming Yellen. She would be the first woman to assume the Treasury Secretary role. “As we continue to deal with the worst economic crisis in a century, it's critically important that she be leading the Treasury Department as soon as possible,” Wyden said. Three new senators — Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Alex Padilla, D-Calif., — were sworn in on Wednesday. Padilla was chosen to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who recently resigned from the Senate. The newest senators will give Democrats control of the evenly split Senate — with Harris as the tie-breaking vote — and the power to move Biden's agenda forward. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will be looking to Senate members who cross party lines from time to time to help him break through on expected stalemates. That group of Senators could include Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Chris Coons of Delaware, and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney Utah, who had a hand in pushing forward the recent $900 billion virus relief package. Morgan Stanley analysts, in a note on Tuesday, said they expect lawmakers to reach consensus on only “select provisions” of Biden's proposals, specifically, an increase in the corporate tax rate to 25% and a return of the top individual rate to 39.6%. They also expect a “modest increase in capital gains and qualified dividend tax rates” for people with incomes above $1 million. None of these changes are likely to happen immediately and the tax increases aren't expected to be retroactive, the analysts' note said. The Trump administration recently released a recent barrage of moves against Beijing in its waning days, claiming that they are necessary to stand up to China's authoritarian leadership. The last-minute policy moves mean the new administration is facing political pressures from a declaration that Beijing was committing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang in far-western China. While some of the final decisions by the Trump administration were said to have been in the making for months, the timing of their rollout makes them easy to dismiss, the Times said. However, Biden's pick to lead the State Department, Alex Blinken, told lawmakers at his Tuesday confirmation hearing he agreed with the designation of genocide relative to the situation in Xinjiang. In the short term, the recent moves by the Trump administration may force the issues to the front of Biden's China agenda, regardless of his own priorities. This complicates the new administration's plans to maintain a combative stance on China over human rights and other issues while finding areas to cooperate and stabilize Washington's spiraling relationship with Beijing. But the new administration also has said that it will first focus on domestic priorities and may not have the “bandwidth to maintain the confrontation with China that the Trump administration set in motion.” Faced with the last-minute barrage from Washington, Beijing has so far demonstrated relative restraint. In recent weeks, the Chinese state media dismissed Pompeo as “crazy” and the “worst secretary of state in history.” However, it remains to be seen whether Beijing will take a confrontational or cooperative approach toward the Biden administration in its first days. Beijing has made overtures to Biden, calling for a reset and greater cooperation between the two countries. But it has also spread new conspiracy theories connecting an American military lab to the coronavirus and pushed a nationalistic message that in the face of global challenges, “time and momentum are on China's side.” Secretary Pompeo's move to shift key U.S. policies at the end of the administration looked more like efforts to challenge Biden to defy China regardless of the potential risks to Taiwan, the Times said. The shift “is designed to antagonize China,” said Drew Thompson, who was the Pentagon's director for China from 2011 to 2018 and is now a research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. It's not based on the mutually beneficial interests of Taiwan and the U.S.” So, we will see. The new administration says it is determined to change the economic outlook and to provide effective support to the economy. These changes will affect most economic sectors and likely will be controversial — changes producers should watch closely as these debates emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 21, 2021 |


CFAP 2 Payments Move Up To $13.2 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) totaled $13.23 billion as of January 18, according to Farm Service Agency data, with 891,719 applications approved. The total includes $6.2 billion in acreage-based payments, $3.42 billion for livestock, $2.36 billion for sales commodities, $1.2 billion for dairy and $56.1 million for eggs/broilers. The total for CFAP 1 is put at $10.55 billion, including $5.05 billion for livestock, $2.66 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.8 billion for dairy, $930.1 million for specialty crops, and $119.7 million for aqua nursery flora. The latest totals for the two programs do not appear to include any of the top-up payments to hog producers under CFAP 1 and producers were able to start amending their prior CFAP applications January 19 for additional assistance announced by USDA January 15.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 21, 2021 |


Only One USDA Reg On Biden Review List The incoming Biden administration plans a review of scores of regulations put forth by the Trump administration, many of them dealing with energy and climate issues. USDA only had one regulation show up on the lengthy list – a rule on “Special Areas; Roadless Area Conservation; National Forest System Lands in Alaska.” However, the biggest list of regulations that will be reviewed were from EPA with 48. One that ag interests will be watching closely is the definition of the definition of Waters of the United States that was issued in April as part of the Trump administration's actions to get rid of the WOTUS rule propagated by the Obama administration. A total of 31 rules issued by the Interior Department will be covered by the review.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 21, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's weekly jobless claims is due out at 7:30 a.m. CST along with a report on U.S. housing starts for December from the U.S. Commerce Department and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The latest weather forecasts and any export sale news will also get the market's attention. Due to this week's holiday schedule, USDA's weekly export sales report will be released Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. CST. Weather Thursday will be dry across central U.S. crop areas. We'll see rain in the southern tier and mixed precipitation in the Northwest. Temperatures will be mild for the season.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 20, 2021 |


Trump EPA Issues Last-Minute SRE’s In a last-minute effort, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency issued three small refinery exemptions. The action reverses one denial from 2018 and granting two for the 2019 compliance year. The decision comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s agreement to hear a Tenth Circuit case that overturned three small refinery exemptions that had been inappropriately granted. In a statement, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor called on the incoming Biden Administration to reverse harm done to rural America through SRE abuse. Skor says, “. Given President-elect Biden’s commitments on the campaign trail, we‘re confident his incoming team will swiftly work to reverse the damage these oil handouts have done to rural America by this midnight maneuvering.” Rumors that the EPA was prepping to issue the three waivers surfaced last week. EPA’s action brings the total of SREs granted by the Trump Administration to 88, totaling 4.3 billion gallons of biofuel blending demand destroyed. ************************************************************************************ Ag Groups Welcome Biden Picks for Agriculture Deputy Secretary Farm groups applaud incoming President Joe Biden’s pick for Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary. Biden recently announced the nomination of Dr. Jewel Bronaugh (bruh-nah) to the post. Bronaugh, in 2018 was appointed as the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner. She previously served as the Virginia State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency during the Obama administration. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “Dr. Bronaugh’s nomination, as well as the nomination of Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture, shows President-elect Biden is carefully considering the challenges facing our nation’s farmers.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “Under Dr. Jewel Bronaugh’s leadership, the USDA will be in good hands,” adding, “As the first Black woman to hold this position, Dr. Bronaugh also brings an important perspective to the USDA.” Bronaugh has more than 20 years of experience in food and agricultural issues. If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to hold the second-in-command position at USDA. ************************************************************************************ USDA and FDA Sign MOU on Animal Biotech Regulations The Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a regulatory environment at USDA for agricultural animal biotechnology innovation. The agreement allows USDA to lead animal biotech regulatory framework. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated the effort "clears a path to bring our regulatory framework into the 21st century." The MOU outlines responsibilities concerning the regulation of certain animals developed using genetic engineering intended for agricultural purposes. The MOU complements USDA's issuance of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Movement of Animals Modified or Developed by Genetic Engineering on December 28, 2020. Under this framework, USDA would safeguard animal and human health by providing end-to-end oversight from pre-market reviews through post-market food safety monitoring for certain farm animals modified or developed using genetic engineering intended for human food. The MOU also allows for the transition of portions of FDA’s pre-existing animal biotechnology regulatory oversight to USDA. ************************************************************************************ USDA Improvements to Livestock Risk Protection Insurance Program The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced further changes to the Livestock Risk Protection insurance plan will take effect on January 20 for crop year 2021 and succeeding crop years. The changes are part of the last-minute regulatory push by the Trump administration. Outgoing USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre says, “These changes are a direct reflection of that feedback and will improve LRP coverage for producers in 2021 and beyond.” USDA says the improvements include increasing livestock head limits for feeder and fed cattle to 6,000 head per endorsement or 12,000 head annually and swine to 40,000 head per endorsement or 150,000 head annually. Additionally, the changes announced Tuesday modify the requirement to own insured livestock until the last 60 days of the endorsement. USDA is also increasing the endorsement lengths for swine up to 52 weeks and creating new feeder cattle and swine types to allow for unborn livestock to be insured. ************************************************************************************ USDA Issues Domestic Hemp Production Final Rule Notice The flurry of last-minute regulations from the Trump administration includes a final rule concerning Domestic Hemp Production. The Department of Agriculture published the final rule notice in the Federal Register Tuesday. The U.S. Hemp Growers Association says the final rule appears to address many of the concerns the organization expressed during a comment period. Changes include allowing a producer a maximum of one negligent violation in a growing season, but the threshold for finding such negligence is moved from .5 percent to one percent. Alternative disposal for non-compliant plants will be outlined in a separate remediation techniques paper from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Disposal and remediation measures will be expanded. Because there are not enough Drug Enforcement Administration registered laboratories to test all hemp in 2020 and 2021, non-DEA registered labs will be recognized for testing until January 1, 2022. Sample collection is expanded to 30 days before harvest instead of the former 15 days. ************************************************************************************ United Soybean Board Partnership Launches Pilot Phase of Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy Mark The United Soybean Board is teaming up with partners from Soylent and DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences this spring in a pilot program identifying their products and ingredients as being made with sustainably grown U.S. soy. The companies will use the new Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy mark, which recognizes soy ingredients that have originated from a system of continuous improvement. The goal of this food industry innovation is to improve sustainability in product supply chains from farm to fork. The Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy mark is based on a national system of sustainability and conservation laws and regulations and farmer participation in the U.S. Farm Program. It seeks to increase demand for soybeans grown by U.S. farmers who commit to conservation practices. Products carrying the mark contain soy ingredients grown in the United States, compliant with all U.S. environmental regulations, protect highly erodible soils and wetlands and were grown on family farms with responsible labor practices. ************************************************************************************ Gas and Diesel Prices Rising Fuel prices are rising in the new year, with the national average gas price reaching $2.38 a gallon this week. The national average price of diesel increased 2.6 cents in the last week and stands at $2.62 per gallon. Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy says, "Gas prices have jumped to yet another multi-month high as crude oil price rise amidst perceived improvement in the COVID-19 pandemic.” Additionally, rumors incoming President Joe Biden will cancel approval of the Keystone XL pipeline after inauguration Wednesday would cut off reliable Canadian oil to the U.S., according to DeHaan. He says oil prices may see additional pressure in the coming days, but says not to expect much of a break from rising gas prices, which now stand less than twenty cents from their year-ago levels. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil continued to rally over the last week as a weakened U.S. dollar, as well as continued market optimism, have boosted oil prices.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 20, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Turn Toward Science Bloomberg is reporting this week that a new round of scientific nominations and vaccine plans is being debated by President-elect Biden's transition team and suggests that the incoming administration is vying to make good on promises to build on science-based policy decisions. Throughout his campaign and after the election, Biden promised to make such decisions, which he reiterated during remarks on Friday regarding a new vaccine “rollout.” He said his administration “will lead with science and scientists,” and the most recent slate of personnel announcements seems to back that up, Bloomberg said. When leading geneticist and Broad Institute founder Eric Lander becomes Biden's science adviser and head of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), it will mark the first time a president has elevated the position to the cabinet. The Biden team also announced a slate of other top positions in OSTP. Several groups have advocated for years for elevation of the science adviser to the cabinet and are calling the inclusion of Lander as “an urgently important, strategic turning point for our nation.” They called the announcement as “an all-too-clear harbinger,” Bloomberg said. The Biden approach contrasts to that of the last administration, the report said, and noted that President Donald Trump didn't name a science adviser for over a year and half into his administration, marking the longest vacancy in that position since Congress created it in 1976. “An evidence-based approach to policy must direct the way forward on the nation's health challenges,” said David Skorton, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges. President-elect Biden plans an early blitz of executive action to reverse some of President Trump's most contentious policies in an effort to address the pandemic, according to an outline of Biden's first 10 days in office. The plan, spelled out in a memo over the weekend by Biden Chief of Staff Ron Klain to incoming White House advisers, will address what Klain called “four overlapping and compounding crises,” with COVID-19 at the top. Klain said Biden would begin with about a dozen executive actions today, and that the so-called first-day orders will focus on measures to mitigate the pandemic and its economic fallout and also will include extending student loan forbearance past Jan. 31 and a temporary ban on evictions, Klain said. Biden also will launch a “100 Day Masking Challenge,” imposing new mandates requiring masks on U.S. property and for interstate transportation. The incoming administration's promise of administering 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in 100 days is “absolutely a doable thing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he believes that Biden won't hesitate to “use whatever mechanisms we can” to expedite the production and distribution of more shots, including through the Defense Production Act. “The feasibility of his goal is absolutely clear,” he said. Biden also intends to install David Kessler, who served as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s, to serve as the chief science officer of the COVID-19 response. His job will include steering what the Trump administration had called Operation Warp Speed. He will replace Moncef Slaoui, who served as science chief for the vaccine development and distribution initiative for the Trump administration. Reports indicated that the incoming administration will reject a move by President Trump to rescind coronavirus-related travel bans for non-American citizens arriving from the European Union, the UK and Brazil, which means the curbs will stay in effect. Trump said in a White House announcement Monday that the bans could be lifted because of a decision last week by the administration to require international travelers to present either the results of a negative recent coronavirus test or evidence that they had already recovered from the disease, but the incoming administration plans to block Trump's move. The new virus variant that emerged in the UK could become dominant in the U.S. as soon as March, government public-health researchers said in a report Friday. Several lines of evidence indicate the strain spreads faster than other versions, and steps should be taken to reduce its transmission, including further genomic surveillance and adherence to public-health measures like masks and testing, the CDC said. In the meantime, efforts are still underway to find out where and how the virus began. The state department on Friday said it has new information suggesting the pandemic may have emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan and not contact with infected animals, the latest salvo in the outgoing administration's efforts to pressure Beijing over the virus's origins. In response, China accused the U.S. of spreading “lies” and “conspiracy theories.” The state department's “fact sheet” on the coronavirus origins released Friday was “full of fallacies,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying charged, dismissing the claims as the “last madness” of outgoing Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. So, we will see. The new administration appears to be moving rapidly to assume control of the government, and to nominate and confirm officials. Still, the tensions over how extensive the policy changes will turn out to be should continue to be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 20, 2021 |


Biden Names Top Deputy Picks For Several Agencies President-elect Joe Biden on Monday nominated five deputies to serve in the second spots at USDA, Transportation, Health and Human Services (HHS), Interior and Education. The nominees, who must be confirmed by the Senate, include Jewel H. Bronaugh at USDA; Polly Trottenberg at Transportation; Andrea Palm at HHS; Elizabeth Klein at Interior, and Cindy Marten at Education. Klein, Palm, Bronaugh and Trottenberg worked in their same departments during the Obama administration. Bronaugh would be the first Black woman to serve in the senior role at USDA. Biden had been under pressure to nominate a Black person to be Agriculture secretary but went with Tom Vilsack, who had the role under President Barack Obama.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 20, 2021 |


USDA Publishes Final Rule On Hemp Production USDA Monday published its final rule to be the framework for the U.S. hemp industry. The 301-page package includes some changes from an October 2019 interim final rule that provided initial guidelines to implement the 2018 Farm Bill which removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and set a legal definition for hemp as 0.3 delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry weight basis. The finished regulations come after 5,900 public comments and letters from members of Congress. The final rule package takes effect March 22 and provides steps for USDA to review and approve plans submitted by state, territorial and tribal governments for regulating hemp production. The rules also lay out how the department will regulate farmers in states or tribal lands that have not outlawed hemp but also have not submitted plans. Under the final rule, farmers will not be labeled as negligent if test samples of their hemp crop register at 0.5% (THC) on a dry weight basis. The regulation would put the negligent threshold at 1% THC. Being declared negligent three out of five years could result in a farmer being barred from hemp production for five years. The hemp industry argued that given the volatile nature of THC in hemp plants that a farmer who followed all the rules could still exceed the 0.5% threshold. The rule also would allow farmers with crops that test above 0.3% THC level to continue to dispose of so-called hot plants by plowing the plants under to amend the soil, cutting and blending the plants with manure or other material to make compost and burning the plants. The options allow farmers to get some use out of the plants or avoid more costly methods of destruction.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 20, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Other than a January index of U.S. homebuilder activity at 9 a.m. CST, there are no official reports scheduled for Wednesday, the day of inauguration for the next U.S. president, Joe Biden. Traders will continue to watch the latest forecasts and any export news that surfaces. Wednesday's usual energy inventory reports are due out Friday. Weather Dry conditions are in store across the central and northern U.S. Wednesday. Precipitation will focus in southwestern Texas with areas of rain and some snow. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 19, 2021 |


Mark Poeschl resigns as CEO of National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation The National FFA Board of Directors and National FFA Board of Trustees announced the resignation of as CEO of the National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation, effective January 15. In a statement, Poeschl said, “I know there have been challenges we have faced during my tenure, but my intentions have been for the best interests of FFA and our student members.” He adds, “I'm proud of what we have accomplished together, but now it's time for the next CEO of FFA to step in and make their mark.” Dr. James Woodard, National FFA Advisor and Board Chair, says, “Mark informed us Thursday that he has decided to end his role as National FFA CEO. The board wishes Mark well, and we acknowledge the impact he has made in the last four and a half years as National FFA leader.” Poeschl began his tenure leading FFA in 2016, from Cargill Animal Nutrition. ************************************************************************************ EPA Won’t Decide on RFS Waiver Requests The Environmental Protection Agency said last week it proposes to extend refiner deadlines to prove compliance with biofuel laws. Reuters says the agency is signaling that it won’t decide on many of the pending waiver requests submitted by the industry. It’s mixed news for refiners who’ve been hit hard by the slump in energy demand during COVID-19 and are looking to decrease regulatory costs associated with the U.S. biofuel blending policy. It’s also one of the final actions the EPA will take before President Trump leaves office on January 20. The agency will propose to extend the compliance deadline for 2019 biofuel blending obligations to November 30, 2021. The EPA will move the 2020 deadlines to January 31, 2022, and June 1, 2022. Refiners must turn in their credits to the EPA every year to prove they’ve complied with the annual biofuel blending obligations for the previous calendar year. The EPA also says it won’t take a position on the availability of 2019 small refinery waivers, which can exempt oil refiners from their obligations to blend biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply. The decision is related to the pending litigation on the waiver program. ************************************************************************************ Corn and Soybean Export Sales Jump Higher Corn export sales almost doubled week-to-week while soybean sales also jumped higher. The USDA says corn sales to overseas buyers jumped 92 percent week-to-week to 1.44 million metric tons. That’s up 34 percent over the prior four-week average. Japan was the biggest buyer at more than 401,000 metric tons. An unnamed buyer purchased 334,000 tons, and Columbia bought almost 126,000 metric tons. China was in for another 88,500 tons, while El Salvador canceled a shipment of 24,000 tons. Exports totaled 1.46 million metric tons last week, 43 percent higher than the previous week, and 41 percent from the average. Soybean sales totaled 908,000 metric tons, significantly higher last week’s marketing year low of almost 37,000 tons and the highest number since November 12. China was the biggest buyer again, purchasing 758,300 metric tons. Other significant buyers included Spain, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Pakistan. Last week’s export total was 2.04 million metric tons, up 10 percent from the previous week but down 12 percent from the average. Wheat sales through January 7 totaled almost 222,000 metric tons, down 19 percent week-to-week and 49 percent from the four-week average. ********************************************************************************************** NCFC Unhappy with IRS Rule on “Grain Glitch” The Internal Revenue Service released its final rule on how farm income from cooperatives will be handled for tax purposes. The Hagstrom Report says the regulation has been a source of dispute since Congress passed the 2017 Tax and Jobs Act. The IRS says Section 199A of the law provides taxpayers a deduction of up to 20 percent of income from a domestic business operated as a sole proprietorship or through a partnership, S corporation, trust, or estate. The IRS says that “Section 199A(b)(7) requires patrons of Specified Cooperatives to reduce their Section 199A(a) deduction if those patrons receive certain payments from Specified Cooperatives.” Farm leaders say that interpretation doesn’t follow congressional intent and called it the “grain glitch” in the law. However, the IRS issued the rule which will be published on Tuesday, the day before Donald Trump leaves office. “We find it deeply troubling that in the final days of the administration, the IRS ignored what Congress wanted and issued final regulations implementing Section 199A that will raise taxes on farmers across the country,” says Chuck Conner, president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. “The Treasury Department is siding with large multinational grain companies and Wall Street at the expense of hardworking farmers and rural communities.” *********************************************************************************************** USDA Offering Additional Assistance Through CFAP Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the USDA will provide additional assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The agency will be expanding eligibility for some agricultural producers and commodities and updating payments to accurately compensate some producers who already applied to the program. Producers who are now eligible and those who need to modify existing applications due to these updates can contact the USDA’s Farm Service Agency between January 19 and February 26. “The coronavirus has left a deep impact on the farm economy, and we are utilizing the tools and monies available to ease some of the financial burdens on American producers to ensure our agricultural economy remains strong, independent, and a global leader in production,” Perdue says. Among some of the changes, contract producers of swine, broilers, laying hens, chicken eggs, and turkeys who suffered a drop in revenue in 2020 compared to 2019 because of COVID-19 are now eligible for assistance. Also, producers of pullets and turfgrass sod are now eligible for CFAP payments. Those commodities weren’t explicitly included in the initial CFAP 2 rules. Producers can learn about the other changes at www.farmers.gov/cfap. ********************************************************************************************** Drought Conditions Slowly Improving in South America Argentina received much-welcomed rains in areas like La Pampa and many Buenos Aires locations into central Cordoba, San Luis, and southern Santa Fe late last week. Moisture totals varied from .2 to .88 inches of rain, with local totals of one inch to more than three inches in southern Santa Fe and southeastern Cordoba. The moisture combined with the rain falling earlier last week, as well as the rain expected over the past weekend, should help South American crops coast into this week’s dry and warmer weather without a lot of concern over drought stress. Timely rain is going to be extremely important over the last week of January and into early February. However, current conditions are improving. A Bower Trading report says Brazil’s rainfall has been erratic recently, but enough rain is falling in the most important production areas. Two days’ worth of scattered showers and thunderstorms fell in the northern and western parts of the country’s crop-growing regions. The weather outlook in Brazil shows rain ahead for most of the key grain, oilseed, and cotton areas in South America. Drier weather is forecast in certain areas, but it will have a bigger impact on unirrigated coffee, cocoa, and small sugarcane fields, more so than it will on the coarse grains and oilseeds. ********************************************************************************************** Environmental Groups Sue Trump Administration Over Gray Wolf A coalition of environmental and wildlife advocacy groups filed suit against the Trump administration over the decision to remove the gray wolf from Endangered Species Protections. Back in October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lifted protection for the wolves in the continental U.S. The only exception is a small population of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and Mexico. The decision brought 45 years of protections to an end for the wolves. The agency determined that the species was no longer endangered. The Hill Dot Com says protecting the species is now up to individual states, many of which will likely allow gray wolf hunting. Last Thursday, six environmental groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, filed a lawsuit challenging the delisting, arguing that the delisting is premature as the species hasn’t fully recovered in a big part of its former range across the United States. “We hope this lawsuit finally sets the wolf on a path to true recovery,” says Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Restoring federal protection would allow further recovery in places like California, which is now home to just a single pack of wolves.” More than 6,000 gray wolves live in the continental U.S., including over 4,000 in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Coming Economic Policy Inheritance Bloomberg is reporting this week that President-elect Joe Biden stands to inherit a “line-up” of unresolved trade and other issues from President Trump and that these will “pose an early test for his administration even as it focuses on taming COVID-19 and repairing the domestic economy.” As Biden takes office tomorrow, the U.S. and China have tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods. A long-running dispute with the European Union over illegal subsidies to Airbus and Boeing persists, the U.S. and UK have yet to reach a free-trade agreement, and the World Trade Organization is blocked from appointing a new leader because the U.S. objected to the leading choice. Then there's the overhauled North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated by outgoing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The deal won Democratic support after changes were made in Mexico's labor system, as demanded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and engineered by her chief trade lawyer Katherine Tai, who now has been nominated for the post of USTR. The AFL-CIO labor union says it plans to bring a complaint under the deal, which could result in factory-specific tariffs or import prohibitions. With President Biden promising to prioritize healing the American economy savaged by lockdowns and job losses, trade might appear to be taking a back seat in the economic agenda. But Trump and Lighthizer gave trade such a central place in public attention that Biden may find the campaign that they started “impossible to ignore,” Bloomberg said. Tougher enforcement of trade rules “can be a key part of the President-elect's Build Back Better agenda,” Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and incoming chairman of the Finance Committee responsible for trade, said last week. Wyden said he expects Biden to use trade as one element of a strategy of work with allies to confront China on human rights, labor rights and its treatment of the environment, and to make sure Mexico meets labor obligations. Bloomberg – and others – are saying that Biden's challenge will include “setting a new direction after Trump tore up the trade playbook. While Biden is unlikely to follow Trump's example of using obscure parts of trade law to slap tariffs on allies like the EU, he probably won't go back to the business-friendly stance of past presidents, either. In a speech last week, Tai pledged to pursue trade policies that benefit American workers, combat the threat of climate change — a non-consideration during the Trump years — and increase U.S. competitiveness. One of the pressures that she likely will face will be the balance between the interests of corporations and unions. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to see the tariff dispute with Beijing resolved, especially since it sees China as the fastest-growing market for U.S. companies, while recognizing that it has some important, unfair trade and regulatory practices that need changing. Reciprocal tariffs imposed by China have hammered American agricultural producers and manufacturers. Still, the Biden administration may be wise to use the incentive of removing U.S. duties remaining on about $370 billion of annual Chinese goods imports as a way to exact policy changes that it wants from the world's second-biggest economy, said Demetrios Marantis, who served as deputy USTR under President Barack Obama and is now a senior vice president at Visa. Trump “is leaving a lot of things on the table,” said William Reinsch, a trade official in the Clinton administration and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The mantra for the Biden people has been mostly 'No sudden moves.' I don't think they're going to rush to fix all those things. I think they're going to take their time to review them.” Also, at least some U.S. economic prognosticators are looking somewhat farther into the future now, and noting that U.S. debt ceiling traders in short-term funding markets are already busy assessing the potential impact of a return to the U.S. debt ceiling as an issue likely to reappear in the second half of this year. The country's borrowing limit, which was suspended back in August 2019, is scheduled to come into effect once again on Aug. 1. Without a Congressional deal that extends or defers it once again, the Treasury will eventually have its ability to borrow curtailed, although it has historically found ways to delay officially hitting that limit. Perhaps more critically for dollar funding markets, the reinstatement of the ceiling is also likely to cause the Treasury to slash its cash holdings and the tools it uses to do that could have a market impact. The amount of cash that the Treasury currently holds is around $1.73 trillion, but it will need to whittle that down over the next seven months to its level when the last ceiling suspension took place – around $118 billion. That's a far bigger reduction than it has historically had to do around debt-limit episodes. The COVID-19 pandemic and the government's response to its economic fallout are at the heart of this dilemma. To fund emergency stimulus measures, the Treasury ramped up its issuance of debt – in particular short-dated Treasury bills. Now that they need to shrink the cash pile, there is a risk that the supply of bills will drop too quickly, forcing market rates below zero and forcing the central bank to intervene. So, we will see. Clearly, the new administration will need to undertake a considerable amount of heavy lifting in a short time, especially to meet its frequently challenging goals. These will be fights producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 19, 2021 |


US, Mexico Spar On Energy The outgoing Trump administration is upset over Mexico's preferential treatment of its state-owned energy companies, triggering concerns that could threaten U.S. ag exports. In a letter, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote to their counterparts in Mexico, the U.S. officials said that "recent regulatory actions by the Mexican government have created significant uncertainty about Mexico's regulatory processes, especially regarding the energy sector, and have damaged Mexico's overall investment climate," pointing to reports of a memo and meeting last year where regulators were "allegedly instructed to block permits for private sector energy projects and to exercise their regulatory authority to favor state-owned energy companies." If true, the secretaries warned, it would be "deeply troubling and raise concerns regarding Mexico's commitments" under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It is not clear how this situation will play out, but it will clearly fall to the Biden administration to sort the issue out.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 19, 2021 |


EPA Will Not Make Call On 2019 Refiner Waivers EPA is now proposing to extend the deadline for small refiners to show compliance under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2019 until Nov. 30, 2021 “in light of uncertainty surrounding small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the RFS program.” EPA is also proposing that for 2020, all obligated parties would have a compliance deadline of Jan. 31, 2022, and a June 1, 2022, attest engagement report deadline. The Supreme Court consideration of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that invalidated three SREs for the 2016 compliance year, EPA said the resolution of that process “has the potential to impact the availability of SREs going forward.” EPA's notice also stated “a presently unknown number of small refineries' compliance obligations will be affected by ongoing litigation and it is consistent with our eligibility requirements regarding SREs.” The decision to extend the 2020 compliance dates for all parties comes due to the agency not yet putting for the 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel RFS levels, and action EPA said can impact the level of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) available as those have a two-year lifespan. While EPA does not state in the notice that it will not make decisions on 2019 or even 2020 SREs, it is clear the Supreme Court case will impact those decisions and thus that means reports the agency was prepared to grant a majority of the 32 pending SREs for the 2019 compliance year are not on the mark. EPA also made no reference to when they will propose the 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel RFS levels. Given that situation, it would appear the Biden administration will now be the ones responsible for making the call on SREs and likely the 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel RFS levels.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 19, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets After Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, U.S. grain futures open again Monday evening at 7 p.m. CST. No doubt, traders will be poring over the latest weather forecasts and watching for any export news Tuesday morning. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CST. Weather Tuesday will feature light snow crossing the northern Midwest and areas of light rain in central Texas east to the Delta. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be near to below normal in the immediate Great Lakes and over southern areas, and seasonal to above normal elsewhere. The Pacific Ocean Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) shows strong La Nina values with a 30-day average of 18.56; 90-day average of 12.93; and a daily calculation of 22.99.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


Senators Call on EPA to Protect the Integrity of the RFS More lawmakers are pressing the Trump administration to avoid making any decisions on small refinery exemptions until after the Supreme Court rules in pending litigation. Thursday, a group of Midwest Senators penned a letter to the administration. The letter states, “Alarming new reports indicate that your Environmental Protection Agency may issue numerous pending small refinery exemptions which would be a devastating blow to biofuels producers and the farmers who sell to them.” The effort follows a similar letter by the House Biofuels Caucus earlier this week. The letters stem from a Reuters report that the Trump administration was readying three new waivers for compliance year 2019. The Senate effort includes Republican Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, both of Iowa, along with Roger Marshall of Kansas, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Meanwhile, the EPA Thursday proposed extending the RFS compliance deadline for the 2019 compliance year to November 2021 and the 2020 deadlines to 2022. ************************************************************************************ Vaccine Hesitancy in Rural America A recent study finds rural residents are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development unfolds. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues. The monitor shows three in ten people in rural areas say they will "definitely get" the vaccine, compared to four in ten people in urban areas and suburban areas. An additional one-third of people in rural areas say they will "probably get it" while 35 percent say they will either "probably not get it" or "definitely not get it." The report says there are many factors that are associated with an individual's willingness to get the coronavirus vaccine, including their age, level of education, and political party identification. The COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds that Republicans are much less likely to say they will get a coronavirus vaccine compared to their independent and Democratic counterparts. ************************************************************************************ KC Fed: Fewer New Loans to Farmers Fewer new loans to farmers continued to drive a pullback in agricultural lending activity. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank reported this week that stronger prices for agricultural commodities, alongside continued support from government payments, may have reduced financing needs for some farmers and contributed to the slower pace of lending. A historically low number of new loans contributed to an increase in average loan size and drove a slight decrease in the overall volume of non-real estate loans at commercial banks in the fourth quarter. Changes in the average size and number of loans were generally consistent across all types of loans. For all lending purposes, the number of loans decreased, and the average loan size increased. While there were fewer loans for all purposes, operating loans continued to comprise the majority of non-real estate lending and accounted for over half of the overall decline. Interest rates on agricultural loans remained at historically low levels in the fourth quarter. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Submits Comments on Proposed USDA Rule for Gene-Edited Livestock The National Pork Producers Council submitted commits to the Food and Drug Administration this week regarding gene-edited livestock. For more than two years, NPPC says the FDA “has dragged its feet” on the development of gene-edited livestock, an emerging technology with opportunity for livestock agriculture, causing American agriculture to “fall behind in the global race to advance its development.” However, a recently proposed rule would transfer primary regulatory jurisdiction of gene-edited livestock to the Department of Agriculture. In formal comments, NPPC President Howard AV Roth says many nations competing with the U.S. livestock sector already have or are moving to regulatory models that led to commercialization. Roth says, “This is already placing U.S. livestock and poultry producers at a disadvantage.” Gene editing is used to make specific changes within an animal’s own genome. NPPC says gene editing will allow the U.S. to produce animals that are more disease-resistant, require fewer antibiotics and with a smaller environmental footprint. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $11.65 Million to Control Feral Swine The Department of Agriculture is investing $11.65 million in 14 projects to help agricultural producers and private landowners trap and control feral swine. The investment is part of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. The investment expands the pilot program to new projects in Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The pilot program is a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. NRCS will provide funding to partners who will provide financial assistance, education, outreach and trapping assistance to participating landowners in pilot project areas. All partner work will be closely coordinated with the APHIS operations in those areas. Between the first and second round of funding, there will be a total of 34 active projects across 12 states for the life of the 2018 Farm Bill. NRCS Acting Chief Kevin Norton says, “The projects we have identified will be key to addressing the feral swine problem.” ************************************************************************************ WSSA Announces 2021 Virtual Meetings The Weed Science Society of America and two of its regional affiliates recently released details on their upcoming virtual annual meetings. The meetings are focused on research, innovations and best practices in weed control. The first, the Southern Weed Science Society annual meeting, takes place January 25-26. Based on the theme "Moving Obstacles," the session will kick off on January 25 with a day of virtual talks by student weed scientists. February 15-17, The Weed Science Society of America will hold its annual meeting. Five special seminars will be offered, including Advances in sensor-based weed detection and precision management, and a history, overview and plan of action on PPO-inhibiting herbicides. March 1-4, the Western Society of Weed Science will hold a joint meeting with the Western Aquatic Plant Management Society. Three seminars are planned for the joint event, including updates from weed biocontrol, invasive grass management, and the relationship between herbicide-resistant crops and weeds. Learn more about the meetings at WSSA.net.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


Washington Insider: The Coming Policy Wars Bloomberg is reporting this week that big business “is in a tight spot” just now. It thinks that rebellious Trump loyalists have amped up their influence over the Republican Party, which business traditionally leaned on for support—and that may not serve them well in the future. The tension comes from the fact that although President-elect Joe Biden is a moderate, “the Democratic Party's platform is the most left-leaning it's been in decades.” From a business standpoint we're concerned about the growing ranks of populist viewpoints in the Republican Party and the growing ranks of progressive and socialist viewpoints in the Democratic Party, says Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Big companies and business groups such as the Chamber are playing a delicate game, Bloomberg says. They're distancing themselves from President Trump as fast as they can and the bridge between big business and the Trump administration, never solid, is in “flaming ruins.” After the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol, Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, called the storming of Congress to stop certification of the presidential election “seditious” and many other business interests agreed. “There is no place for demagogues in our democracy,” wrote the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Roundtable sharply criticized allegations by President Trump and his supporters that the election was stolen. Individual companies also broke decisively with the administration, Bloomberg says. It calls the take that big business gathered courage to oppose Trump “only when he was heading out the door” as wrong. For example, Bloomberg says that chief executive officers had challenged Trump frequently on a wide range of issues from auto emissions to immigration and race. The report describes several prominent disagreements with businesses including Ford Motor Co., Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell and several others. In addition, numerous business organizations opposed administration tariffs on aluminum, steel, and other products, which incited retaliatory duties from China and other trading partners. “Trade works. Tariffs don't,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said. True, business wasn't always oppositional, Bloomberg says. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which slashed the corporate income tax rate, was widely popular, as were some aspects of the deregulation efforts. And in 2019 Trump managed to bring some business bigwigs back into his tent with a new advisory group on workforce policy. On the whole, though, Trump steered the Republican Party in a populist direction, tapping into a disaffected part of America that dislikes business elites almost as much as political, academic, elites — and he remains the party's most powerful force. Bradley says the Chamber of Commerce has been deeply worried that the fringes of both parties are pulling the centrists apart. As a result, two years ago it changed its method for grading lawmakers to take cooperation across the aisle into account, honoring people such as Democratic Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. In the latest election cycle the Chamber gave $152,000 to Democrats, more than it had over the previous 28 years, vs $483,500 to Republicans. It also endorsed 23 embattled House Democrats. Private equity, oil and gas, and real estate companies also tilted toward Democrats more than in past elections. The upside scenario for big business is that it expects that President Biden will be more effective than the Trump administration was in getting the pandemic under control and won't want — or be politically able — to push through big tax increases or other measures inimical to business. Stocks, which are tied to expectations for economic growth and corporate profits, rose on Jan. 6 when it became clear that Democrats won control of the Senate in the Georgia runoff races. In fact, business is likely to pivot back to the GOP quickly if the party “shakes off Trump's influence,” some observers say. Republican energy consultant and former Trump White House adviser Mike McKenna plays down the significance of companies' pledges to pause campaign contributions. “Very few contributions happen in the first few months of an election cycle” and company PACs “are not really that important anyway,” he says. “If business is thirsty for less regulation and a lower corporate tax burden, I think they'll find ways to overcome any shock and awe they felt on Jan. 6,” says Princeton University history professor Julian Zelizer, who's studied the Republican Party. Scott Reed, a GOP strategist who used to work for the Chamber thinks that once Trump moves on, the Republican leaders have a chance to do a “real reset and to recreate a new paradigm of the Republican Party being about growth and opportunity.” That, anyway, is what big business leaders are hoping for. So, we will see. The very early policy tea leaf readings tend to be hazy indicators of real policy shifts—as well as looming key battles. There seems to be real interest for policy shifts, however, including some leading to controversies producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


OMB Reviewing USDA Notice on Using RFID Tags For Cattle, Bison The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has received a notice from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags as “official identification in cattle and bison.” In July 2020, APHIS published a notice seeking comment on moving to using RFID tags as the sole official eartags used in interstate movement of cattle and bison. Comments were due by Oct. 5, 2020. The agency proposed that starting Jan. 1, 2022, they would no longer approve venders to use the official USDA shield in producing metal eartags or other eartags that do not have RFID components. They also suggested that starting Jan. 1, 2023, RFID tags would be the only identification devises for cattle and bison, but indicate cattle and bison with metal tags in place before that date would be grandfathered in. Presumably the notice under review would finalize APHIS' plans on this topic.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


US Customs Issues Region-Wide Ban On Cotton, Tomato Products From Xinjiang U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Wednesday announced their Withhold Release Order (WRO) now applies to cotton products and tomato products produced in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region “based on information that reasonably indicates the use of detainee or prison labor and situations of forced labor.” CBP said the actions it is basing the order on include “debt bondage, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive living and working conditions.” CBP personnel at all U.S. ports of entry will detain cotton products and tomato products “grown or produced by entities operating in Xinjiang. The cotton products include apparel and textiles and “other goods made with cotton and tomatoes.” CBP said importers are responsible for making sure products they import “do not exploit forced labor at any point in their supply chain, including the production or harvesting of the raw material.” This is the second WRO that CBP has issued on products from Xinjiang issued in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets A report on December U.S. retail sales is due out at 7:30 a.m. CST Friday, followed by December industrial production from the Federal Reserve at 8:15 a.m. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index will be out at 9 a.m. CST. After a big week of USDA reports and more export sales, traders will continue to watch for more export news and stay close to the latest weather forecasts. Weather Cold, snow and strong winds are in store for the western and northern Midwest Friday, including blizzard conditions. Meanwhile, strong winds will batter wheat areas of the Plains. The only other area of precipitation will be light rain in portions of the eastern Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


Lawmakers Ask Trump Administration to Deny Biofuel Waivers A group of lawmakers is asking the outgoing Trump administration to deny biofuel wavers. A letter signed by the House Biofuels Caucus follows a report the Environmental Protection Agency was readying to approve three small refinery exemptions. The letter calls the exemptions illegal, adding they are “contrary to legislative intent and hurt rural economies.” In September, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler rejected dozens of waiver requests from refiners. But now, with 66 more exemption requests pending, and news the Trump administration is preparing to approve three waivers, the lawmakers say the reversal is “a betrayal to Rural America.” The lawmakers say it would be inappropriate to grant any waiver petitions inconsistent with the law and the Tenth Circuit Court decision, currently pending litigation and review by the Supreme Court until the review is finished. The approvals would be one of the Trump administration's final efforts and could be announced yet this week, applying to the 2019 compliance year. ************************************************************************************ Meat Worker COVID-19 Cases Five Times Lower than June A new analysis of independent data for 2020 shows that new COVID-19 infection rates amongst meat and poultry workers were five times lower in December than in May. Meanwhile, rates in the general population rocketed up nine times in the same period. According to data from the Food and Environment Reporting Network, the meat and poultry sector was reported to have an average of 19.91 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in December. That compares to an average of 98.39 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in May. The New York Times reports that during the same period, the average new case rate for the U.S. population rose from 7.11 cases per 100,000 people per day in May to 63.01 cases in December. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts says, “This new data further demonstrates that the more than $1.5 billion spent on comprehensive protections implemented since the spring reversed the pandemic's trajectory.” ************************************************************************************ Masters of Beef Advocacy Program Launches Updated Training The Masters of Beef Advocacy program Wednesday updated advocacy training modules – called MBA NextGen. The updates to the popular training modules make it easier for a new generation of farmers and ranchers to share their story and advocate knowledgeably for the beef industry. Updated information and resources to help answer consumer questions are all accessible within the program. MBA NextGen continues to be a free, self-guided online course that provides farmers, ranchers, service providers, students, consumers, and all members of the beef community the tools and resources to become a beef advocate and answer tough questions about beef and raising cattle. A National Cattlemen’s Beef Association spokesperson says the program “is one of the most effective tools we have to teach a wide audience the core principles of the cattle industry.” The program started in 2009, and to-date, there are more than 15,000 graduates. To enroll or find out more about the latest Masters of Beef Advocacy Program, visit BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com. ************************************************************************************ Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Announces U.S. Leadership Transition Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Wednesday announced the appointment of Randolph Legg as its U.S. President. He succeeds Everett Hoekstra, who retired in December. Legg will remain head of the Company's U.S. commercial business while serving as president. Legg held various commercial leadership roles in Boehringer Ingelheim's Human Pharmaceutical division before moving to its Animal Health business in 2019 to lead the U.S. Pets Commercial team. He is based at the U.S. headquarters of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health in Duluth, Georgia. Hoekstra retired after holding a variety of leadership roles at Boehringer Ingelheim. As president of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health in the U.S. for the last two years, he oversaw the final integration activities after Boehringer Ingelheim acquired Merial in 2017 to become the world's second-largest animal health company. Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health also is transitioning a key global manufacturing role from its global headquarters in Ingelheim, Germany, to the United States. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Soy Turf to Cover More Ground Than Ever in 2021 The Indiana Soybean Alliance, with support from the United Soybean Board and SYNLawn Indiana, is kicking off a new partnership with the Indianapolis Colts. The partnership features soy-backed SYNLawn artificial grass to be used during 2021 pre-game and traveling educational exercise programs, which will be held once COVID-19 limitations end. The partnership helps further the educational efforts on the many benefits offered by U.S.-grown soybeans, as well as the soy checkoff’s positive impact on building new markets for the industry, according to USB. Participating children and adults will have the opportunity to learn about soy while enjoying the Colts’ popular “Touchdown Town” 40-yard dash across SYNLawn. Use of soybean oil and other plant-based renewable materials qualifies multiple SYNLawn products for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Certified Biobased Product label. According to a report USDA released in July 2019, biobased products contributed $459 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016. Additionally, SYNLawn's soy-backed grass is recyclable and conserves water. ************************************************************************************ European Crop Protection Association Renamed CropLife Europe The European Crop Protection Association announced this week it will now operate as CropLife Europe. The rebranding also changes the association mandate to include digital and precision farming, plant biotech innovation and biopesticides alongside conventional pesticides. The launch of CropLife Europe comes as EU policymakers and governments are increasingly calling on the agriculture and the food system to transition to a more sustainable model. A CropLife Europe spokesperson says, "an agile association representing a host of technologies under one roof will be better equipped to represent the integrated solutions needed to deliver sustainable agriculture." Another representative says the European Commission’s Green Deal is "a real game-changer," adding it provides "a great opportunity to deliver more sustainable agriculture." The expanded organization will encompass a wider range of topics, including pesticides, conservation efforts, and precision agriculture. Finally, the organization will focus on plant biotech traits that enable crops to thrive in difficult conditions using less resources or provide greater benefit in diets.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


Washington Insider: What President Trump Got Right About the Economy The New York Times is reporting this week that President Trump sent “plenty of mixed signals on Fed policy, but that didn't make him wrong about interest rates.” The article lauds the president's willingness to ignore economic orthodoxy and says several recent policies have “been vindicated.” It has become clear, the article says, that the U.S. economy can surpass what technocrats once thought were its limits: specifically, the jobless rate can fall lower and government budget deficits can run higher than was once widely believed, without setting off an inflationary spiral. As a result, the experience of the Trump presidency — particularly the buoyant economy before the pandemic began — shows what is possible, NYT says. And, if Trump was able to ignore economic orthodoxy and achieve the best economic outcomes in years, it's worth asking how much value that orthodoxy held to begin with. The article examines instances when the centrist conventional economic wisdom was employed and some where it wasn't. It asserts that “intellectual consensus lurked beneath many decisions based on the belief that it was essential “to check the pace of employment growth to reduce the risk of overheating.” Yet from spring of 2018 to the onset of the pandemic, the U.S. experienced a jobless rate of 4% or lower, with no obvious sign of inflation and many signs that less advantaged workers were able to find work. Reality turned out better than the 2015 officials thought possible. Since the 1980s, recessions have been rarer than they were in the immediate post-World War II era, but were followed by long, “jobless” recoveries that often “featured weak growth in workers' wages.” It turns out that when you try to choke off the economy whenever it is starting to get hot, American workers suffer, the Times says. Economists have referred to the period from the early 1980s through the 2008 financial crisis as “the great moderation,” because recessions were rare and mild. But with more years of hindsight, that period looks less like a success. “There's nothing particularly moderate or particularly great about the great moderation,” said Larry Summers, the Harvard economist and former Treasury secretary. In effect, the last four years at the Fed have made clear both how much things have changed and how much they needed to. Janet Yellen (now President-elect Biden's Treasury secretary nominee) started the first of a series of interest rate increases in late 2015, and the current chair, Jerome Powell, continued them. But the logic kept breaking down. Inflation kept coming in below the 2% target the central bank aims for, even as the jobless rate kept falling. It's not terribly clear what was necessary about the rate increases, as the president's harangues against Powell expressed vividly. Trump violated decades of precedent under which presidents didn't jawbone the Fed, which seeks to maintain political independence. But that didn't make him wrong about interest rates, the Times asserts. A central question for President-elect Joe Biden will be: to what degree is the Trump-era economic success a result of policies that the next president might embrace, and to what degree was it just luck? And, one view now is that deregulating major industries and lowering taxes on business investment — microeconomic strategies — are especially crucial to the economy's success. The Biden administration and Democratic Congress may view more aggressive regulation as a core goal, aimed at preventing corporate misbehavior, protecting the environment, and more. For some, the macroeconomic lessons of the Trump years — those having to do with things like deficits, inflation and interest rates — won't be enough to recreate the 2019 economy. In this view, the microeconomic details of how the president governed will be crucial. However, the experts who will shape economic policy in the new administration seem eager to push for a post-pandemic economic surge reflecting the (macroeconomic) lessons of the last four years, the Times says. Yellen was trained as a labor economist and once argued that “if inflation were to remain persistently lower, a more radical rethinking of the economy's productive potential would surely be in order.” That radical rethinking now appears very much underway — including by Yellen, the Times says. She has argued that a high-pressure economy where unemployment is low and employers have to compete for workers improves upward mobility. “It is hard to overstate the benefits of sustaining a strong labor market,” Fed chair Powell said recently and the central bank's new policy language “reflects our view that a robust job market can be sustained without causing an outbreak of inflation.” In early 2017 when President Trump took office the CBO projected that by 2020 the government would need to pay at a 3.2% rate to borrow money for a decade. The actual rate is now just over 1%, even after a surge over the past week. While that reflects the pandemic-induced downturn, even at the start of 2020 the rate was 2%. The CBO's most recent forecast is that it will remain below 3% through 2029. So, we will see. These are unusual times, and examining the recent past for clues to what to expect in the future seems prudent. Producers should watch closely as the new administration's policy trends are implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


OMB Finishes Review On Final Rule Covering Hemp Production The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed its review of USDA's final rule to establish a domestic hemp production program as directed in the 2018 Farm Bill. The delay in getting the rule finalized has resulted in Congress stepping in to allow those states operating under 2014 Farm Bill pilot program rules on hemp production to continue to do so through September 30. The final rule is to be published in February, according to the action regulatory agenda released by the Trump administration in December. It's not clear if the incoming Biden administration will seek to alter the rule before releasing it.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


Farm Bureau Economist: CFAP 3 Payouts May Not Come Until End Of This Quarter, Early In Second Quarter Payments to farmers under what is expected to be the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 3 (CFAP 3) are looked to arrive late in the first quarter of this year or early in the second quarter, according to American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist John Newton. “In conversations that we've had with current USDA staff, I think there is some IT infrastructure that needs to be developed, the paperwork needs to get developed, FSA staff may need to be trained, so I'd say stay tuned on that,” Newton said during the group's annual meeting. The aid producers have received since 2018 via trade mitigation (Market Facilitation Program/MFP) and CFAP shows, according to Farm Bureau economists, Iowa has received the largest amount at $4.6 billion, followed by Illinois ($3.8 billion), Minnesota ($3.1 billion), Nebraska ($3 billion), Kansas ($2.6 billion) and Texas ($2.5 billion). California has received about $1.9 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly report of export sales, weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST, Thursday. The U.S. Energy Department will report on natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Traders will continue to keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and any trade news that might emerge. January contracts of soybeans and soy products are set to expire early Thursday. Weather Rain, snow and strong winds are in store for portions of the Northern Plains and northern through western Midwest Thursday. These conditions will combine with a colder temperature trend to bring on a blizzard threat later Thursday into Friday. High winds and dry conditions will also cover the Southern Plains; unfavorable for winter wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


USDA WASDE Report Sends Grain Markets Higher The Latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand report sent grain markets higher Tuesday. The Department of Agriculture monthly corn outlook called for lower production, reduced corn used for ethanol, smaller feed and residual use and exports, and decreased ending stocks. Corn production is estimated at 14.1 billion bushels, down 324 million on a lower yield and slight reduction in harvested area. USDA raised the season-average corn price to $4.20 per bushel. Soybean production is estimated at 4.1 billion bushels, down 35 million. Harvested area is estimated at 82.3 million acres, up slightly from the previous report. Yield is estimated at 50.2 bushels per acre, down 0.5 bushels. With higher imports and slightly higher beginning stocks, soybean supplies are down 14 million bushels from last month. The U.S. season-average soybean price for 2020/21 is projected at $11.15 per bushel, up 60 cents as cash prices in Central Illinois reach six-year highs. Meanwhile, the outlook for U.S. wheat this month is for stable supplies, higher domestic use, unchanged exports, and lower ending stocks. ************************************************************************************ USDA Releases Agriculture Innovation Research Strategy Summary and Dashboard The Department of Agriculture Tuesday released its U.S. Agriculture Innovation Strategy Directional Vision for Research summary and dashboard. The summary, USDA says, will help to guide future research decisions within the department. The strategy synthesizes the information USDA collected as part of a public announcement earlier this year engaging the public on research priorities under the Agriculture Innovation Agenda. The report summarizes the stakeholder input and defines discovery goals to help inform research to best address the Agriculture Innovation Agenda for the next ten to 30 years. USDA deputy undersecretary Scott Hutchins says the information will “spark imagination to convey the positive role innovation will play to help solve challenges that face our nation.” The Agriculture Innovation Agenda is a Department-wide effort to align USDA’s resources, programs, and research to provide farmers with the tools they need. The next steps include aligning existing USDA research programs against these goals, while linking existing research activities to the objectives to inform the broader innovation community of progress and enlist their engagement. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Supports Senate Letter to President-Elect Biden on Biofuels Priorities Tuesday, Senator Tammy Duckworth led a coalition of senators in sending a letter to President-elect Joe Biden requesting strong support of farmers and the biofuels industry. The Illinois Democrat and her colleagues called on the Biden Administration to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to reject pending Small Refinery Exemptions by applying the 10th Circuit Court's decision nationwide. The lawmakers also call for the administration to quickly publish the Renewable Volume Obligations. Growth Energy supports the action, as CEO Emily Skor says, "this letter outlines the actions the Biden Administration needs to take to fulfill its campaign promises to rural America." The letter comes as Reuters reports the Trump administration is considering last-minute action to approve three small refinery waivers. The approvals would be one of the Trump administration's final efforts and could be announced yet this week. If granted, the waivers would apply to some exemptions for the 2019 compliance year. ************************************************************************************ Stabenow Leads Advocates in Urging USDA to Prioritize Protections for Food Workers Senator Debbie Stabenow, the incoming Senate Agriculture Committee chair, this week urged the Department of Agriculture to implement the bipartisan worker protection provisions in the COVID-19 assistance package. The Michigan Democrat says, "In order to repair our food supply and feed families in need, USDA must prioritize safety in addition to food purchases." In the recently passed COVID-19 assistance package, Congress provided no less than $1.5 billion to fund food purchases for distribution to those in need, provide worker protection measures, and retooling support for farmers, farmers markets, and food processors. The provision was inspired by Stabenow's bipartisan Food Supply Protection Act to help protect the food supply after the COVID-19 crisis put an unprecedented strain on farmers, workers and food banks. USDA recently announced funding for food purchases through the Farmers to Families Food Box program, but has yet to commit additional funds to protect workers and ensure the continuity of the food supply chain. ************************************************************************************ Interior Department Proposal Seeks Greater Broadband Access, Reduced Wildfire Hazards The Department of Interior this week announced three new actions to aggressively increase broadband internet access in rural communities and reduce wildfire risks. The Bureau of Land Management issued a proposed rule that would make it easier for industry to co-locate infrastructure, manage trees to enhance electric reliability and avoid fire hazards. The proposal also seeks to update the Bureau’s cost recovery fee schedule for right-of-way activities. The proposed regulatory amendments complement ongoing efforts to reduce the vulnerability of public lands to wildfires and make it easier for firefighters to access and contain wildfires. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed rule will streamline its regulations for permitting of rights-of-way. And, the National Park Service has amended Telecommunication Sites of Management Policies to allow the Service to accept applications for communications sites from additional applicants. Publication in the Federal Register will open a 60-day comment period for each rule, and the respective notice will include information on how to comment. ************************************************************************************ Farm Tractor Sales Finish 2020 Higher Farm tractor and combine sales finish the year with solid growth across the U.S., while sales in most sectors in Canada were also positive. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers reports U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 26.8 percent in December compared to 2019 while U.S. combine sales fell 1.9 percent. U.S. four-wheel-drive units fell slightly in December, down 3.7 percent, with year-to-date sales finishing up 3.7 percent. 100+hp posted healthy growth in December, up 21.8 percent, finishing the year up 3.2 percent. Total yea to date farm tractors out the door are up 17.9 percent in 2020, while combines finished 2020 up 5.5 percent. AEM’s Curt Blades says, "despite uncertainty in the overall economy, the ag equipment market has been pretty strong." For Canada, total farm tractor sales were up 10.6 percent for 2020, while combine sales fell 30 percent on the month, and 13.9 percent for the year.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


Washington Insider: More Trade Tensions With China Bloomberg is reporting this week that the Trump administration's final days are proving as confounding as ever for companies and investors stuck in the middle of an increasingly contentious U.S.-China relationship. After a week of widespread confusion over the scope of a U.S. ban on investments in businesses linked to China's military, both Washington and Beijing took steps over the last weekend that threaten to further ratchet up tensions and cloud the outlook for cross-border commerce. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo upended decades of U.S. policy on Saturday by removing self-imposed restrictions on how government officials interact with Taiwan, eliciting swift calls for retaliation by China's state-run media. Pompeo's announcement came just a few hours before Beijing issued new rules that would allow Chinese courts to punish global companies for complying with foreign sanctions. In both cases, it was far from clear how the edicts would be implemented. China, for example, has been expanding its toolkit to fight back against U.S. sanctions for years, though it has so far refrained from using measures including blacklists and export controls. Hanging over everything is how the world's most important geopolitical relationship will evolve after President-elect Joe Biden enters the White House later this month. Any optimism for an easing of tensions should be tempered by bipartisan U.S. support for recent policies levied against China, former U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said. “I don't see a likelihood of a big change in the policy with the change of administrations,” he said. The upshot is continued uncertainty for companies caught in the crossfire, from Apple Inc. to Tencent Holdings Ltd. and HSBC Holdings Plc. That risks chilling investment decisions, deal-making and startup funding at a time when the coronavirus-pummeled global economy needs all the support it can get. “There is an escalation of tit-for-tat,” said Alex Capri, a research fellow at the Hinrich Foundation, an Asia-based foundation set up by U.S. entrepreneur Merle Hinrich to promote sustainable global trade. In an address to Communist Party officials about China's development plans on Monday, President Xi Jinping said that everyone “must be brave to fight and be good at it,” while striking an optimistic tone that “opportunities outweigh challenges.” Investors in Taiwan largely brushed off rising cross-strait tensions, sending the local stock index to a record high. Pompeo lifted U.S. guidelines on meetings with Taiwanese officials, put in place after Washington's recognition of China in 1979. The Chinese Communist Party-backed Global Times warned that Pompeo was pushing toward military conflict. Hu Xijin, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, added in a microblog post that China has a “precious window of opportunity for mainland China to teach a heavy lesson to the 'Taiwan independence' forces” and re-establish “strategic leverage” in the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, which opposes official U.S.-Taiwan interactions, said Monday that it “firmly opposes and strongly condemns” the U.S. move. Beijing's new rules on foreign sanctions are meant to protect local firms from “unjustified” overseas enforcement actions by allowing Chinese citizens or companies to sue for compensation in Chinese courts if their interests are damaged by the application of foreign laws. The new rules are more than anything a signaling mechanism to both Chinese companies and U.S. companies in China, and are more of a signal at this stage rather than actually trying to put legal efforts in motion, Bloomberg said. Even though Hong Kong's security law forbids sanctions against the financial hub and China, state-owned lenders including Bank of China Ltd. have quietly taken steps to comply with U.S. sanctions against officials such as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. With more than $1 trillion of liabilities denominated in U.S. dollars, China's four largest state-owned banks have huge incentives to stay on the good side of American regulators so they can retain access to dollar funding. Investors have in many cases been given little warning on how regulators, banks, index providers and exchanges plan to implement Trump's order. The New York Stock Exchange flip-flopped twice before finally confirming last week it will delist China Mobile Ltd. and two other Chinese telecom companies. MSCI Inc. removed the three stocks from its indexes on Friday, giving global funds just one day to adjust billions of dollars of passive investments. Wendy Liu, head of China equity strategy at UBS Group AG, said some investors in Europe are interested in taking advantage of the sanction-induced drop in Chinese share prices. But she added that many are still waiting to pull the trigger as they await more clarity on the outlook for U.S.-China tensions. “Reversing Trump's sanctions and China policies too quickly will give a 'pro-China' signal that will not be beneficial for Biden's polls,” Liu said. “We still need to wait and see how U.S.-China relations will unfold in the new administration.” So, we will see. The current U.S. transition period seems increasingly likely to be steeped in confusion as new positions are constructed with major trading partners — trends producers should watch closely as the transition approaches its completion, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


Reports Signal Trump Administration to Grant Some RFS Waivers The Trump administration is poised to issue additional small refinery exemptions (SREs) relative to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), according to reports from Reuters and Politico, with both indicating the decisions could come yet this week for requests made by refiners for the 2019 compliance year. EPA data shows 32 SRE requests are pending for the 2019 compliance year and another 14 for the 2020 compliance year. Politico reported that refineries in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah would not likely receive SREs after the January 2020 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision invalidating three SREs on the basis that such waivers had to be received annually since 2011. The Supreme Court said Friday it would review the 10th Circuit Court decision. Politico reported that EPA could issue partial waivers for the 2019 compliance year. The reports come after some speculated the pending Supreme Court review could put any action on hold.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


CFAP 2 Payments Edge Higher In Most Recent Week Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) moved up to $13.14 billion as of Jan. 10, with approved applications now totaling 889,001. The payments nudged above $13 billion in the prior week. Payouts by category did not change greatly, with acreage-based payments at $6.19 billion, accounting for 47.1% of CFAP 2 payments with 586,264 approved applications. Another $3.41 billion has been made for livestock, 26% of total CFAP 2 payments on 435,757 approved applications. USDA has paid $2.3 billion for sales commodities, 17.5% of all payments, on 64,143 approved applications. Another $1.19 billion has been paid for dairy, 9% of all payments, on 23,444 approved applications. USDA payments for eggs/broilers under CFAP 2 total $55.5 million, 0.4% of all payments, on 32,798 approved applications

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CST, the U.S. Labor Department will release its report of December consumer prices, followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book will be out at 1 p.m. CST, along with the Treasury Department's federal budget report for December. Traders remain interested in the latest weather forecasts and any export news. Weather Wednesday brings another round of dry conditions to all central U.S. crop areas. Isolated mixed precipitation in the northern Midwest will dissipate during the morning. Moisture will focus in the Northwest with rain and snow. Temperatures continue above normal north and central with below-normal values Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


AFBF President: Turn the Page on Partisanship A top farm organization leader says it is time to "turn the page" on partisan politics. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall made the comments during an opening press conference as part of the American Farm Bureau Federation Virtual Annual Convention. Duvall's remarks follow last week's rally and attack on the U.S. capitol. Duvall says, “we have got to work together, as one country, one people, for the good of all the people in this country.” Farm Bureau members will develop policy priorities this week for the organization to follow in 2021. With the incoming Biden administration, top priorities are expected to be climate change, taxes and labor, along with strengthening the farm bill. Duvall says, “We must make sure that we are at the table for the discussions around addressing climate change,” adding, “I believe agriculture’s great track record shows just how much we can achieve when farmers and ranchers are at the table when we develop solutions.” ************************************************************************************ USMEF Releases November Export Data U.S. beef exports posted one of the best months on record in November, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. November was also a strong month for pork exports, which already surpassed the full-year volume and value records set in 2019. November beef exports totaled 115,300 metric tons, up six percent from a year ago and the largest since July 2019. Export value climbed eight percent year-over-year to $707.5 million. November beef muscle cut exports were the third largest on record at 91,300 metric tons, valued at $630 million. November pork export volume was steady year-over-year at 258,800 metric tons, with value down two percent to $697.5 million. Although China/Hong Kong remained the largest destination for U.S. pork in November, momentum continued to build in other markets, including Japan, Mexico and Central America. January-November pork exports set new annual records for both volume and value. Pork muscle cut exports also shattered previous annual records, increasing 18 percent year-over-year to 2.29 million metric tons, valued at $6 billion. ************************************************************************************ Supreme Court to Review Biofuel Blending Case The U.S. Supreme Court last week announced it will review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s decision in a case against the Environmental Protection Agency. The decision overturned three inappropriately granted small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Plaintiffs in the case include the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and American Coalition for Ethanol. In a joint statement, the organization says, "Our groups believe the Tenth Circuit got it right the first time, and we will continue to defend the court's ruling." In January of last year, the Tenth Circuit court struck down the exemptions by the Environmental Protection Agency. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a recommendation against a Supreme Court review. The Justice Department says in its brief that, “The issue didn’t warrant the high court’s review and stated that the refiners’ petition asking for a review ‘should be denied.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Details of the 2021 Agricultural Outlook Forum Program The Department of Agriculture Monday announced details of the 97th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, which will be held virtually on February 18-19, 2021. The 2021 Forum, themed "Building on Innovation: A Pathway to Resilience," will focus on the central role science and innovation have played in helping agriculture overcome challenges and build resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum's program will begin with a presentation by USDA's new Chief Economist, Dr. Seth Meyer, on the Department's outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade for 2021 and U.S. farm income. A keynote address by the incoming Agriculture Secretary, presentations by Congressional leaders, and a session on genetic literacy are also scheduled on the first day of the Forum. The program will also cover five key areas, including supply chain resilience, food price and farm income outlooks, trade, managing risks, and finally, innovation. The 2021 Forum is expected to bring together more than 3,000 participants. The Forum's program includes more than 30 sessions and 100 expert speakers. ************************************************************************************ USITC Launches Cucumber and Squash Imports Investigation The U.S. International Trade Commission seeks input for two new investigations on the effects of imported cucumbers and squashes on the U.S. seasonal cucumber and squash markets. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer requested the investigations in a letter to the USITC on December 7, 2020. As requested, the USITC will examine the effect of imports on the domestic seasonal markets of cucumbers and squash in separate but concurrent investigations and produce two separate reports. The investigation will detail the effects of imports on the domestic seasonal markets, focusing on production and the competitiveness of cucumbers and squash grown in the Southeastern United States. The investigation will track monthly price trends and compare prices of domestically produced cucumbers and squash along with imported products. The USITC will hold a public hearing in connection with the investigations in April, and expects to complete the investigations no later than December 7, 2021. ************************************************************************************ Farm Equipment Manufacturing trends to Watch in 2021 Both the immediate and long-term future of the manufacturing industry will be defined by the development of several evolving and prominent trends. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers says these trends are poised to have a significant impact in 2021. The organization has identified five key trends, including COVID-19 and enhancing employee safety. Other trends are a more connected workforce through technology, expanding the Internet of Things, localized production and predictive maintenance. The Internet of Things has long been a trend to watch in manufacturing. According to a recent study conducted by the MPI Group, approximately 31 percent of manufacturing production processes now incorporate smart devices and embedded intelligence. Furthermore, more than one-third of manufacturers have established plans to implement IoT technology into their processes, while 32 percent plan to embed the technology into their products. The technology offers both remote monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities, making it even more valuable for organizations looking to maintain visibility of equipment performance from afar.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Weird Loans Under PPP The New York Times highlighted a strange aspect of the Paycheck Protection Program this week. Many of the loans provided were really tiny because of the way rules were written. Still, the program was called a lifeline for many small businesses as it distributed $523 billion in forgivable loans that averaged just over $100,000 to more than five million companies, the Times said. It noted that there also were roughly 300 business that received loans of $99 or less, surprisingly small the article says. For example, Stephanie Ackerman, a self-employed college admissions consultant, was shocked when her loan deposit, for $13, showed up. “That's supposed to help my business? It was a joke,” she said. The tiny sums were equally frustrating for the banks and other lenders. For each, they were paid 5 percent of the value — meaning the lenders collected just pennies on the smallest loans, far less than they cost to make. Ackerman's loan netted her lender, Bank of America, a fee of 65 cents, paid by the government. The Times said that the profusion of minuscule loans is an illustration of how some of the program's hastily constructed rules sometimes led to absurd outcomes. And, it thinks that “they could be repeated: in last month's stimulus package, Congress allocated $284 billion to restart the loan program for to the hardest-hit businesses.” Lending began this week. Congress created the PPP in late March to help small businesses retain their employees. Sole and self-employed entrepreneurs were an afterthought and weren't eligible for loans in the program's first week. When it did expand to include them, the government created an alternate set of rules that blocked them from receiving loans unless their business was profitable — a restriction that did not apply to larger companies that were eligible as long as they had salaried employees. Small businesses were eligible to borrow 2.5 times their average monthly payroll, up to $10 million, to cover their workers' wages and some other expenses. So long as most of the money was spent paying workers, the loan could be fully forgiven, giving recipients a rare infusion of free money to help them endure disruptions as the pandemic wore on. For companies without salaried employees, the SBA which ran the PPP, told lenders to look at the profit the business owner reported on their 2019 taxes — even though payroll and profit are totally separate measures of a company's business activity. The loan that went to Amy Jeanchaiyaphum, a photographer in Minnetonka, Minn., illustrates the pitfalls of that approach, NYT says. Like most sole proprietors, she doesn't pay herself a fixed salary. Her income first goes to expenses and she lives on the remainder. In 2019, her gross sales added up to a modest five-figure sum. But, her “profit” after taking legal deductions was only $458. Following SBA rules, her lender, Wells Fargo, treated that as her annual salary and issued her a loan for the maximum amount for which she qualified: $95 — for that, the bank collected a $4.75 fee. She reached out to the local SBA office, where an official told her the loan couldn't be increased. Frustrated and defeated, she accepted the tiny loan. Lenders and accountants have spent months poring over the program's complicated and frequently revised rules and noted that the relief effort was focused on minimizing job losses not preserving struggling businesses. “What's payroll for a solo entrepreneur?” said Sean Mullaney, a financial planner in California who worked with several clients on their loans. This was created in almost a fog of war, and there's lots of scattershot things in it, he said. Sole proprietorships are the most common business structure in America, accounting for around 26 million businesses. Many are sidelines — workers who pick up an occasional freelance project or collect royalties they report on their taxes as business income—and many rely on their business income as their primary source of support. Yet, because of the SBA edict that sole proprietors had to be profitable to get a PPP loan, many didn't qualify. Nicole Davis, an accountant in Georgia who specializes in small businesses, estimates that about 60 of her sole-proprietor clients were locked out of the relief program because their companies are not profitable. “They were surprised; they thought they were eligible, and it was hard to explain why they didn't qualify,” Davis said. NYT called the rule barring unprofitable sole proprietorships a significant obstacle for lenders that work in vulnerable communities. “It's barbers, stylists, drivers, janitorial — really small mom-and-pop businesses. If they had a negative number on their Schedule C, they just weren't eligible for anything,” said José Martinez, the president of Prestamos CDFI. Some big banks chose not to work with businesses that qualified for so little. JPMorgan Chase, the program's largest lender, set a $1,000 minimum on its loans but two other national lenders, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, did not, so each made scores of loans to sole proprietors for sums as low as $1. Ackerman, the college consultant, kept her $13 loan, and plans to file the paperwork to have it forgiven. Others rejected such scant aid. “I was so flabbergasted, I sent it right back,” said Jeff Ostashen, a self-employed trucker in Lakeland, Fla., who got a $17 loan from Wells Fargo. “It felt like a slap in the face.” Still, Ostashen — whose sales have been slow since the pandemic began — plans to apply for a second loan. “I'm going to try again and see what happens, and hope and pray for the best,” he said. So, we will see. Certainly, small sole-proprietor businesses are important to the U.S. economy, and to agricultural producers—who should watch closely as this and similar programs are mobilized to assist the still lagging economy, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


Supreme Court To Review 10th Circuit Ruling On SREs The U.S. Supreme Court Friday said it would review the ability of small oil refineries to win exemptions from Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements, agreeing to hear an appeal by units of HollyFrontier Corporation and Wynnewood Refining Company relative to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that invalidated three small refinery exemptions (SREs) for the 2016 compliance year as they were not a continuation of prior SREs. The court will examine whether the EPA exceeded its authority when it exempted three small oil refineries from obligations under the statute. EPA cited the 10th Circuit decision in rejecting scores of gap-year SREs in the fall of 2019, but it has not made any decision on additional gap-year requests for the 2011-2018 compliance years nor has it decided on ones submitted for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years. However, Reuters reported Monday afternoon that sources told them the Trump administration was expected to grant “some” waivers out of the 32 that are pending under the RFS for the 2019 compliance year.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


Lighthizer Urges Biden Administration Stay The Course On China Tariffs Outgoing U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer is urging the Biden administration to keep tariffs on China as they get results, according to comments he made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “We changed the way people think about China,” Lighthizer told the WSJ. “We want a China policy that thinks about the geopolitical competition between the United States and an adversary — an economic adversary.” Lighthizer said the Biden plan to bring other countries into the battle with China was a concern, saying it could let other nations slow or veto U.S. actions and tie up the U.S. in endless, pointless discussions with China. The U.S. and China “started dialogues in the '90s,” he noted. “That did nothing. All of them were just a waste of time.” He still wants the Biden administration to keep tariffs on all $370 billion in Chinese goods — three-quarters of everything China sells to the U.S. The 25% tariffs he slapped on Chinese car imports stopped China from potentially selling millions of vehicles in the U.S., he said. Commenting on his replacement to head USTR, Katherine Tai, Lighthizer said she helped garner Democratic support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). “She learned good skills on the Hill,” Lighthizer said. Those include “how to manage different people who have different objectives and still get things done.” His stance of keeping a push on China is not surprising and has echoed comments since the election.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets At 11 a.m. CST, USDA will simultaneously release its WASDE, Crop Production, Grain Stocks and Winter Wheat Seedings reports. Traders will also pay attention to the latest weather forecasts and any export news that develops. Weather Dry conditions are in store for almost all primary crop areas Tuesday. The exception is the Northwest, where rain and snow are in effect. Temperatures continue above normal for the season north and central and below normal south.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


Biofuels Coalition Rejects EPA Excuses Regarding 2017 Order A coalition of the nation’s largest biofuels and agricultural trade groups filed a reply supporting its motion in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. The motion was filed on November 23, 2020, and asks the court to enforce its 2017 decision requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to address its improper waiver of 500 million gallons of biofuel demand in the 2016 renewable volume obligation (RVO). The coalition includes Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, and many more. “The EPA should not be allowed to hide behind claims that restoring 500 million improperly-waived gallons is an administrative burden that would inconvenience oil industry interests,” the groups said in their motion. “What’s at stake is the proper implementation of the RFS and the rural communities that rely on its success for their livelihood.” The groups point out that they’ve made it clear that the EPA has the ability and the authority to do the right thing and remedy those lost gallons immediately and on a definite schedule. “The EPA’s delay and disregard for the court’s directive for more than three years is inexcusable,” they added. ********************************************************************************************** Wheat Export Pace Remains Strong Seven months into the 2020-2021 marketing year, USDA forecasts total wheat exports will reach 26.8 million metric tons which, if realized, would be two percent higher than the previous year. U.S. Wheat Dot Org says that number would also be seven percent higher than the five-year average. As of December 24, U.S wheat commercial sales were nine percent ahead of last year’s pace at 20.6 million metric tons, led by hard red winter wheat, hard red spring wheat, and white wheat (soft and hard). Total hard red winter wheat sales of 7.1 million metric tons are three percent ahead of last year and seven percent above the five-year average. Significantly increased exports to Nigeria and China offset reduced sales to Mexico, typically the largest market for hard red winter wheat. Total hard red spring wheat sales of 5.78 MMT are nine percent ahead of last year and four percent ahead of the five-year average. HRS sales to the Philippines and Japan are up five and six percent, respectively. Total white wheat sales, represented mainly by soft white wheat, are 47 percent ahead of the previous year’s pace at 5.52 MMT and 49 percent of the five-year average. *********************************************************************************************** Ag Land Sales Prices Surge Higher Farmers National Company says what started with better-than-expected sales prices at land auctions before last fall’s harvest extended into continued higher prices in October and November. “Farmers National Company had auction sales in several states during this time where land sold near levels last seen in 2012,” says Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations. “In specific instances, prices for good quality cropland in the heart of the Midwest are up hundreds to thousands of dollars per acre more than anticipated.” Ag land prices have been fairly stable in recent years despite the up-and-down agricultural economy. The demand for land is the driver of the current land price surge. “Values for good cropland are strong right now, with more farmers stepping up to buy as well as a growing number of individual investors,” Dickhut says. “Buying interest from farmers has increased as they anticipate a better income year in 2020 than once thought.” Demand for all types of land has also seen an increase. As a result of COVID-19, a growing number of individuals have become interested in land as an investment. The overall supply of good cropland for sale is on the low side and is similar to the past few years. ************************************************************************************ Preliminary E.U.-MERCOSUR Trade Agreement Not Good News for the U.S. On June 28, 2019, the European Union because the first major partner to strike a trade deal with the Southern Common Market countries known as MERCOSUR (MEHR-coh-soor). They include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Although the agreement isn’t complete yet, the preliminary analysis by the USDA says U.S. agricultural products that compete with MERCOSUR and E.U. products will be at a significant disadvantage. The agreement eliminates 93 percent of the tariffs on MERCOSUR exports to the EU while offering preferential treatment to the other seven percent. Although a final tariff schedule hasn’t been released, preliminary analysis shows that U.S. agricultural products will be at a significant disadvantage in both markets. U.S. agricultural and related exports to the E.U. averaged 15.4 billion dollars yearly from 2015-2019, and four billion dollars of those exports compete directly with MERCOSUR products, which puts them at particularly high risk. Likewise, preferential status for E.U. products in MERCOSUR will hurt the competitiveness of U.S. products to those South American countries. Ratification of the agreement by the European Union Commission and European Parliament is not a slam dunk given its overwhelming environmental concerns. The E.U. previously rejected the deal last October because of its concerns regarding the Brazilian government’s environmental policies. ********************************************************************************************** Tyson Adds Alt-Meat Sandwiches to Jimmy Dean Line Tyson Foods is adding breakfast sandwiches with soy-protein patties to its Jimmy Dean product line. The plant-based sandwiches are the latest offerings from the largest meat company in America and cater to the fast-growing alternative protein segment. They’re also the first alt-meat product under the Jimmy Dean sausage line. The Arkansas-based company says it’s selling an egg and cheese croissant sandwich with a plant-based patty at Sam’s Club locations in the U.S. A frittata sandwich with a soy patty, black beans, brown rice, quinoa (KEEN-wah), and egg whites is coming out this spring. The company’s first run into alternative meats was in 2019 with faux chicken nuggets and their blended meat and pea protein burger that was discontinued. “Plant-based foods are revolutionizing the way people eat, including at breakfast,” says Scott Glenn, Tyson’s senior director of marketing. “Expanding our portfolio to provide people with an alternative was critical.” The new items are coming out in the middle of an increasingly competitive protein market. ********************************************************************************************** Missouri River Reservoir System Ready for 2021 Runoff The full flood control capacity of the Missouri River Mainstream Reservoir System is available for the 2021 runoff season. “All 2020 flood water stored in the annual flood control zone has been evacuated as of December 21,” says John Remus, chief of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Water Management Division. “The entire flood control capacity of the Mainstem System is available to capture and manage 2021 runoff, reducing flood risk while providing support to the other authorized project purposes.” December 2020 runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, was 1.2-million-acre feet, 148 percent above average. The 2020 calendar year runoff above Sioux City was 31.1 MAF, 121 percent above average. The average annual runoff is 25.8-million-acre feet. The 2021 calendar year runoff forecast for the upper Missouri Basin above Sioux City is 23.1 MAF, 90 percent of the average runoff. The runoff forecast is based on significantly drier-than-normal soil moisture conditions, low plains snowpack, and below-average mountain snowpack. “Runoff forecasts are developed using the best information as it exists today,” Remus adds. “As mountain snowpack continues to accumulate, our forecasts will be updated to reflect those changes.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inflation Debate Lingers Bloomberg is reporting this week that investors and economists who think America is in for a bout of inflation are seeing “fresh ammunition for their arguments.” That view is that the vaccines now hold the prospect of an end to pandemic restrictions and could bring consumers roaring back—and that pent-up demand could stimulate price increases. The incoming Biden administration likely will prop up household spending with more financial aid, the argument goes even as the dollar continues to weaken and commodity prices rise steadily. However, the predominant view among economists – including, crucially, at the Federal Reserve – is that it will be some time before the U.S. has to worry about inflation. Data due on Wednesday are expected to show that consumer prices increased 1.3% in 2020, and that in spite of rising costs for many producers the Fed's preferred measure won't exceed its 2% target even by the end of 2022. And Fed officials say they want to see inflation stay above that level for a while before they'll raise interest rates. Inflation skeptics point to job markets still depressed by the virus and deeper trends in demographics and technology that keeps prices down, as well as the risk that politicians will cut off support for the economy too early – as they've done in the recent past. So is inflation on its way back? Bloomberg argues that policy settings just got tweaked even further toward the “run-it-hot” end of the dial. Fiscal spending has been the engine of recovery from the coronavirus slump and President-elect Biden – who's promising to do more of it – has a clearer path to getting his plans through Congress after Democrats won both Senate seats in a run-off vote in Georgia. Americans are already spending more on goods than they did before the virus. If that's not yet the case with services, it's because lockdowns have taken consumer options off the table – something that should change as more people are inoculated. Morgan Stanley economists expect “a sharp rebound in demand, especially in COVID-sensitive sectors like travel and tourism,” as vaccines get a wider rollout in the spring. They forecast that core inflation, which strips out the prices of things like food or gasoline because they're more volatile, will hit the 2% threshold this year and overshoot it in 2022. Stimulus checks and higher unemployment benefits pushed household incomes up in the aggregate even as economic output shrank – a rare combination. And rising stock and housing markets helped add more than $5 trillion to the net worth of U.S. households in 2020. Also, higher-income and older people, more likely to self-quarantine, have accumulated savings while waiting out the pandemic, says Mark Zandi at Moody's Analytics. They've missed out on things like trips to the hairdresser, vacations and meals out and they're “in an especially good financial position to ramp up spending on these services once they feel safe.” Bloomberg's counter-argument is after 2008 the government and Fed also injected money into the economy, causing many to predict inflation that never arrived. Fiscal spending has been bigger this time, but so was the hole in the economy that it had to fill, so the result won't necessarily be overheating. So far, this decade looks much like the last one, says Ben May at Oxford Economics. “Deficient demand has been countered by looser monetary and fiscal policy. This has boosted asset prices, but underlying consumer price inflation has remained weak.” Another lesson from the financial crisis is that America's politicians aren't always the spendthrifts of popular caricature. They may actually suffer from the opposite bias. That's what happened after the 2008 crash, slowing the recovery. And a more tolerant view of deficits has taken hold since then. In addition, even optimistic forecasters say it will be years before the U.S. is employing as many people as it was in 2019. A key lesson from the long expansion of the 2010s was that those resource market declines were deeper than previously thought. That may be true for the post-pandemic economy too. Goldman Sachs, for example, raised its growth forecast after the Georgia election and now sees the economy expanding 6.4% this year – recouping all the COVID losses and then some. But it still doesn't expect core inflation to edge above 2%--triggering higher interest rates – until 2024. Bloomberg also expects the “transitory” developments to ultimately be overcome by considerable economic slack.” Were it not for a collapse in labor participation related to the pandemic, the unemployment rate would be closer to 9.5% rather than the 6.7% last reported, levels that would considerably mute the rhetoric among the inflationistas. But for monetary economists, higher prices only really count as inflationary when they stoke expectations of even higher prices in the future that generate momentum that is hard to control. That happened in the 1970s, Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters last month--but not more recently, and probably not this time, either. So, we will see. Clearly, the fight against the pandemic will be central to what happens in the near future – and the economic debates and trends should be watched closely by producers as them emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


November US Ag Exports Top $15 Billion For Second Month In A Row U.S. agricultural exports in November were valued at $15.48 billion, marking the second consecutive month above that level after they were at $15.13 billion in October. November ag imports totaled $11.37 billion, down from $11.62 billion in October, but still a second straight month above $11 billion. The result was a trade surplus of $4.11 billion, up from $3.52 billion in October. U.S. agricultural exports are typically the highest at the start of the fiscal year in October and then usually work lower from that point. Ag imports usually do not peak until the March-May timeframe. The November total for U.S. ag exports did not register a new monthly record as that was set in November 2013 when export totaled $15.81 billion. U.S. ag imports in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 were at or above $11 billion for five months and the data sets the stage for another strong run for imports, especially with expectations that the U.S. economy will improve. But the export outlook could also remain strong with the U.S. dollar under pressure, making U.S. ag exports more competitive on the world market. USDA forecasts U.S. ag exports at $152 billion for FY 2021, up from $135.9 billion in FY 2020, with imports at a record $137 billion, up from a record $136.0 billion in FY 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


USTR Indefinitely Suspends Tariffs Over French Digital Services Tax The U.S. will not impose tariffs as a result of the Section 301 investigation of France's Digital Services Tax (DST), according to a statement from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), handing the decision over the incoming Biden administration. USTR notified of additional tariffs in July that were to have taken effect Jan. 6, but that date arrived with no formal action or announcement from USTR. “The U.S. Trade Representative has decided to suspend the tariffs in light of the ongoing investigation of similar DSTs adopted or under consideration in ten other jurisdictions,” USTR said. While those investigations have “significantly progressed,” USTR said, they have “not yet reached a determination on possible trade actions.” The matter now lands with the incoming Biden administration which has indicated that trade matters are going to be further down the list of their focal points as combatting the COVID pandemic and rebuilding the U.S. economy will take center stage. However, given the potential impacts such tariffs could have on services trade, this is a decision that could well be viewed as an economic matter which could elevate it as a focal point for the new administration. France and other countries feel American companies are profiting enormously from local markets while making only limited contributions to public coffers. Paris has offered to withdraw the tax as soon as an OECD deal is reached, while other countries are looking at implementing their own DST. As noted, the USTR decision puts the responsibility of the tax disputes on the incoming Biden administration. "America is going to have to respond," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the next chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "Many of these unilateral taxes have been designed to target American companies that are generating high-skill, high-wage jobs."

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10:00 a.m. CST is the only official report on Monday's docket. The latest South American weather forecasts and any export news continue to get top attention ahead of Tuesday's USDA reports. Weather Snow and rain are in store for the Delta and portions of the Deep South Monday, causing travel and safety hazards and livestock stress. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Temperatures continue to show above normal tendencies in northern and central areas. No bitter cold air is indicated.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


Stabenow Expected to Lead Senate Ag Committee With Democrats winning the two Georgia runoff Senate elections this week and a 50-50 majority expected in the chamber, Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow is poised to be the next Senate Agriculture Committee Chair. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, also a Democrat, will preside over the Senate, giving Democrats the slim majority. With full control by Democrats in Washington, D.C., farmers and ranchers can expect climate, along with the next farm bill, to dominate ag policy. Stabenow told Agri-Pulse this week, “As chair of the Agriculture Committee, we're going to lead an effort to create a voluntary climate exchange,” adding climate policy for farmers and ranchers is a top priority. Stabenow was previously chair of the committee from 2011-2015, the last time Democrats had majority control of the Senate. In the Georgia runoff elections this week, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, giving Democrats the narrow majority. Loeffler was a member of the Senate Ag Committee. ************************************************************************************ World Food Price Index Marks Seventh Month of Increases The monthly World Food Price Index increased in December for the seventh consecutive month. Recorded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the index averaged 107.5 points in December 2020, up 2.3 points from November. Except for sugar, all sub-indices registered modest gains in December, with the sub-index of vegetable oil rising the most. Wheat export prices rose further in December, reflecting a tightening of supplies among major exporters, concerns over growing conditions, and expectations of lower than anticipated wheat shipments from Russia. Sorghum prices rose sharply in December as sales from the United States, mostly to China, remained robust. Corn export prices moved higher, sustained by continued concerns over crop prospects in South America. International rice prices also rose in December, underpinned by tight Thai and Vietnamese availabilities and heightened buyer interest for Indian and Pakistani supplies. For 2020, the index averaged a three-year high of 97.9 points, 2.9 points higher than in 2019. ************************************************************************************ Secretary Perdue Announces Georgia Broadband Funding In his final days as Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue traveled to his home state of Georgia Thursday to make a rural broadband funding announcement. Perdue announced a $4.6 million investment in high-speed broadband for rural Georgia. The funding, the Department of Agriculture says, will connect 1,326 rural Georgia households to High-Speed Internet. The funding is part of the second round of USDA's ReConnect Program, to which Congress allocated $550 million. Broadband funding has been a priority for USDA under the Donald Trump Administration. Secretary Perdue says, "expanding access to this critical infrastructure will help ensure rural America prospers for years to come." In 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure to approximately 167,000 households, 17,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities located in 33 states. In April of 2020, USDA the Department has received 172 applications for $1.57 billion in Round Two of the program. ************************************************************************************ CHS Reports $69.7 Million in First Quarter Fiscal 2021 Net Income CHS, the nation's leading agribusiness cooperative, Thursday reported net income of $69.7 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 that ended November 30, 2020. This compares to net income of $177.9 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. The first quarter of fiscal year 2021 reflect revenues of $8.7 billion compared to revenues of $7.6 billion for the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. While income was lower, improved relations between the United States and foreign trading partners drove increased volumes and margins for grain and oilseed. And favorable weather conditions during fall harvest compared to the prior year increased volumes and margins across much of the CHS Ag segment. CHS CEO Jay Debertin says, "Improved trade opportunities with China and improved trade activity in Europe and Africa helped drive first-quarter improvement in our global grain business." CHS a global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States. ************************************************************************************ Energy Sorghum may Combine Best of Annual, Perennial Bioenergy Crops Energy sorghum may be ideal for producing bioenergy crops, according to the University of Illinois. Perennial grasses like miscanthus are a primary target for bioenergy crops because of their sustainability advantages, but they take several years to establish. Maize and other annual crops are easier to manage with traditional farming, but they are tougher on the environment. A study by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation found that energy sorghum behaves more like miscanthus in the way it efficiently captures light and uses water to produce abundant biomass. It has higher nitrogen emissions like maize, but researchers believe careful fertilizer management could reduce those levels. The study offers a first look at how energy sorghum compares to maize and miscanthus grown in the Midwest. One researcher says sorghum appears to be a “middle-road crop,” with an annual growth cycle but the ability to use much less water than maize to produce “a ton” of biomass. ************************************************************************************ AFIA Announces New Dates for 2021 Event The American Feed Industry Association this week announced it will postpone its 2021 Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference. AFIA will now hold the event August 17-19, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. A spokesperson for the organization states, "We have decided to postpone PISC so that more of our members will be able to safely participate in person." Registration will open in the spring with two attendee options – in-person and hybrid. If circumstances do not allow for travel, attendees can participate virtually in the event's educational and networking components. The American Feed Industry Association's Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference is designed specifically for buyers and sellers of feed and pet food ingredients. The event offers industry experts the chance to exchange ideas and learn about issues affecting the industry. AFIA is the world's largest organization devoted to representing the business, legislative and regulatory interests of the U.S. animal food industry and its suppliers.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Conflict at the Capitol The news was dominated this week by three events; the debate and tumult at the Capitol on Wednesday; the formal recognition of Joe Biden by Congress as the next U.S. president early Thursday and the Georgia wins of two Democrats on Wednesday to shift control of the Senate. These developments have been endlessly broadcast and discussed, but continue to shock since they resulted in four deaths and 52 arrests during efforts breach one of the most iconic buildings in the United States after the president urged his supporters to oppose the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes. This led to an armed standoff at door to the House and breaches of several other buildings. Observers were shocked at the TV images and serious questions are being raised about the responsibility for and the impacts of the protests, Bloomberg said. Press reports said that the stunning display of “insurrection” was the first time the U.S. Capitol had been overrun since the British attacked and burned the building in August of 1814, during the War of 1812. However, also on Wednesday, lawmakers began returning to the Capitol once the building was secured and resumed their intended business, the confirmation of Biden's win by counting the votes in the Electoral College. It took until the early hours of Thursday morning, but Congress eventually counted and certified Biden as the victor. The Democratic win was sealed after House and Senate members fended off a final round of objections to the Nov. 3 election outcome raised by a handful of Republicans on President Trump's behalf. Shortly after lawmakers certified the election results, President Trump said there would be an “orderly transition” of power to Biden on Jan. 20 – but he also noted his continued “disagreement” with the outcome of the election. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and many others, placed the blame for the violence squarely on Trump, but argued that Congress wasn't deterred. “These images were projected to the world,” Schumer says. “This will be a stain on our country not easily washed away.” “I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation, so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy, has come to such a dark moment,” Biden said in brief remarks on the incident in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday. Bloomberg noted that President Trump has no further means to challenge the election outcome, barring an unlikely decision by the Supreme Court to consider his unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud before Biden is inaugurated. However, the press also noted that the new president inherits a raging pandemic that has been all but ignored over the last two months as the current president has waged a legal and political campaign to overturn the election results. The new president's first test will be to more effectively distribute and deliver coronavirus vaccines, following the current administration's shortfalls of its year-end goal to inoculate 20 million Americans, Bloomberg said. The certification came on the same day that President-elect Joe Biden learned he will have a Senate Democratic majority after twin runoffs in Georgia. He has promised to put forward another economic stimulus bill soon after taking office that would include billions of dollars in spending for vaccine distribution and to safely reopen schools, with the goal of allowing most to begin in-person instruction within the first 100 days of his presidency. His team is building a full federal response to the pandemic that includes vaccine distribution, personal protective equipment and economic aid. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and raised in Delaware, Biden spent decades pursuing the presidency. He ran for the White House in 1988 and 2008 and considered running in 1984 and 2016. Elected to the Senate in 1972 at the age of 29, Biden served 36 years in the chamber. He chaired the Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees before becoming Barack Obama's vice president in 2009. He accepted the offer to be Obama's running mate on the condition that he would be the last person in the room when Obama made key decisions, though he wasn't always heeded. Throughout his candidacy, President-elect Biden endured criticism that he was too moderate or too old while focusing his appeals on a reliable base of support – African Americans, women, and a sliver of White voters who had voted Republican in 2016 but had soured on the president. His general-election argument in 2020 centered on the president's handling of the pandemic that had killed nearly a quarter of a million people by Election Day and put millions more out of work. He survived the president's efforts to attack him as corrupt and senile, returning the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to the Democratic column and adding Arizona and Georgia, two states that hadn't supported Democratic presidential candidates in this century. In all, Biden notched the same Electoral College vote total that Trump had secured four years earlier, 306 to 232. So, we will see. The violence at the capitol was previously threatened, but appears to have been not fully anticipated and will lead to numerous follow-up investigations, observers say. The nation's governing mechanisms seem likely to become slightly better aligned, but clearly will be deeply tested in the coming weeks, debates that should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


Smithfield Foods Readying Vaccines For Employees Smithfield Foods said it is actively preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution to its employees and has medical capabilities at its U.S. plants. The meat processing sector was one of the hardest hit by the virus. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicated food and ag workers should receive the vaccine in a later phase, after healthcare workers and those over the age of 75. The meat industry has also offered up their cold storage facilities to help with storage of the vaccines given the need for those to be stored in cold conditions.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


World Food Prices Continued To Rise In December World food prices rose a seventh consecutive month in December, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's food price index averaging 107.5 points in December, up from 105.2 in November. All food categories posted increases for the month except for sugar. For all of 2020, the index averaged 97.9 points, a three-year high and a 3.1% increase from 2019. However, that still marked a decline from the 2011 peak in the index. The rise in food prices globally could become an issue moving forward as countries that rely on food imports are facing increased costs at a time when they are also dealing with the COVID pandemic

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CST, the U.S. Labor Department will release nonfarm payrolls for December and the latest U.S. unemployment rate, last seen at 6.7%. Traders will continue to keep an eye on the latest South American weather forecasts and any export news that develops. Weather Friday brings a dry start to the weekend in most crop areas. Exceptions will be the western Plains with light snow and portions of the Mid-South with rain and snow. Temperatures maintain seasonal to above normal values north and central and below normal south. There is no bitter cold indicated.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


EPA Nominee Meets with Farm Groups President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency met with farm group leaders Tuesday. Michael Regan, the EPA Administrator-designate, hosted a virtual round table with more than 16 members of the Ag CEO Council and staff. The Biden transition team says Regan reiterated President-elect Joe Biden's commitment to working with agricultural leaders to promote healthy and secure food supplies, clean air, and clean water. They also discussed how the incoming Biden-Harris Administration wants to work closely with farmers to find "practical, common-sense solutions to environmental challenges." They also discussed how the incoming administration can create jobs and expand economic opportunities in rural communities through the Build Back Better plan, and to “harness the ingenuity of farmers and ranchers to promote clean energy and tackle climate change.” The meeting included American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, along with leadership from the American Soybean Association National Corn Growers Association, The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, and others. ************************************************************************************ Rural Group Urges Biden to Pick Well-Qualified, Diverse USDA Leaders The Rural Coalition urges President-elect Joe Biden to select highly qualified leaders for Department of Agriculture politically appointed positions. The group of more than 70 food and farming organizations sent the request to the incoming administration in a recent letter. The letter calls on Biden to choose USDA mission and agency leaders who deeply understand how to utilize the full range of USDA programs to achieve his goals of racial justice, climate change, and pandemic recovery. The letter states, “We have the opportunity and imperative now to work together to make things happen in a way that didn't happen before,” at USDA. Further, the organization says Biden should start doing so by nominating Native American Agriculture Fund CEO Janie Simms Hipp as the USDA Deputy Secretary. Hipp is the former senior advisor for tribal relations to former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and director of the Office of Tribal Relations. The letter adds, “We stand ready to work with a progressive and racially diverse leadership team at USDA.” ************************************************************************************ COVID-19 Taking Heavy Toll on Farmers’ Mental Health A majority of farmers and farm workers say the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their mental health, according to a new American Farm Federation Bureau poll. The results, announced Wednesday, find more than half of respondents say they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. The survey of rural adults and farmers and farmworkers explores how the pandemic has affected their mental health personally, and in their communities. The survey also explored how attitudes and experiences around mental health have changed in rural and farm communities since AFBF conducted its first rural mental health survey in 2019. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, "My takeaway from this survey is that the need for support is real, and we must not allow lack of access or a 'too tough to need help' mentality to stand in the way." The survey of 2,000 rural adults was conducted by Morning Consult in December. ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks Members for Advisory Committee on Urban Agriculture The Department of Agriculture seeks members for a new advisory committee on urban agriculture. The committee is part of a broader effort to focus on the needs of urban farmers. The 12-person committee will advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the development of policies and outreach relating to urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices and identify any barriers to urban agriculture. USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey says, "This group will underscore USDA’s commitment to all segments of agriculture." USDA seeks four agricultural producers for the committee, two in urban areas and two who use innovative technology. The committee will also feature two representatives from higher education or extension programs and a member from a nonprofit organization. USDA also seeks a committee member with supply chain experience, one from a financing entity and two with experience in urban agriculture production. The nomination deadline is March 5, 2021. Find more information about the nomination process at fsa.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Quality Loss Adjustment Program Signup Open Signup is open for the Quality Loss Adjustment Program, just announced by the Department of Agriculture. Funded by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, the program provides assistance to producers who suffered eligible crop quality losses due to natural disasters occurring in 2018 and 2019. Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program coverage is available, except for grazed crops and value loss crops, such as honey, maple sap, aquaculture, floriculture, mushrooms, ginseng root, ornamental nursery, Christmas trees, and turfgrass sod. Additionally, crops that were sold or fed to livestock or that are in storage may be eligible. However, crops that were destroyed before harvest are not eligible. Crop quality losses occurring after harvest, due to deterioration in storage, or that could have been mitigated, are also not eligible. The deadline to apply for QLA is Friday, March 5, 2021. For more information, visit farmers.gov/quality-loss. ************************************************************************************ NCBA Rolls Out New Event for 2021 The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Wednesday announced the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention Winter Reboot. Planned for February 23-24, the event allows the organization to come together for industry news, updates, education and networking. NCBA says Winter Reboot attendees will receive a sneak peek into plans for the Cattle Industry Convention and the Cattlemen’s College, moved to August of this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. NCBA CEO Colin Woodall says, “This virtual experience will provide vital industry updates and education as we start the New Year.” Winter Reboot sessions include an NCBA Washington, D.C. issues update and expectations with the new administration. Ten educational programs will be offered covering topics such as sustainability, as well as a tech tool introduction. A virtual marketplace will also be featured during the Winter Reboot to allow attendees interaction with leading agribusinesses. Registration for the Winter Reboot is now open, and details about the event can be found at convention.ncba.org/winter-reboot.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Controversial Dietary Guidelines The USDA, HHS dietary guidelines are well known in schools and other institutions where they are used extensively by program administrators to evaluate the quality of their offerings and for other purposes. They are published widely as bulletins, posters, brochures, books, and — more recently — websites and social media. The federal effort is long-standing — mainly begun after the U.S. military found many recruits significantly under nourished in World War I. They are also seen as important by the food industry which not only takes to heart at least some of their advice but also pushes back in many cases when the advice is unwelcome — as it sometimes is. Not surprisingly, this guidance has changed frequently to reflect advances in science and the role of specific foods and nutrients. The earliest guidance promoted healthy food “groups,” food safety, food storage, and ensuring that people get adequate minerals and vitamins. Today, it is much different. Beginning in 1977, after years of discussion, scientific review, and debate, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, led by Senator George McGovern formulated Dietary Goals for the United States that recommended reduction of obesity and controlled use of key foods such as refined and processed sugars and fats. In response, some groups and individuals argued that available science was inadequate to support such specific recommendations. In response, USDA and Health and Human Services selected well known scientists from the two Departments to address the public's need for authoritative and consistent guidance. Later, the report turned increasingly to outside experts. Last week, USDA and Health and Human Services, which every five years updates the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released new recommendations that stuck with existing standards for sugar and alcohol, the Washington Post reported this week. Not everyone was pleased. The two agency's scientific advisory committees had recommended Americans cut their consumption of both, citing — in the case of sugar—high rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers, and — in the case of alcohol — growing evidence that consuming higher amounts of alcohol is associated with an increased risk of death. The group's recommendations — that sugar intake be limited to 6% of daily calories, instead of the current 10%, and that both men and women limit daily alcohol consumption to one drink a day — were rejected. Although “the preponderance of evidence supports limiting intakes of added sugars and alcoholic beverages to promote health and prevent disease,” the report said, “the evidence reviewed since the 2015-2020 edition does not substantiate quantitative changes at this time.” In response, Marion Nestle, a professor emerita of nutrition and food studies at New York University, told the New York Times she was “stunned.” Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, chair of the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, called it a “lost opportunity for a stronger public health message.” The guidelines are no mere academic exercise, the Post argued. They have a tangible impact on the country's eating habits, affecting federal food programs such as the National School Lunch Program, military rations and food stamps, and influencing decisions by food producers. No surprise, then, that manufacturers of sugary beverages hailed the unchanged guidelines. That this year's guidelines were issued in the midst of the unprecedented health threat of the COVID-19 pandemic — which has been particularly deadly for those with diet-related preexisting conditions such as obesity and diabetes — making them all the more galling. The Post charged that the committee's language will add to the damage by the this “science-averse administration.” So, we will see. The overall dietary guidelines effort has become increasingly controversial over time, both as many of the health threats related to diets continue to increase and as the food industry becomes more sophisticated in its defense of its operations and products — and in efforts to counter government interventions in the definition of acceptable practices. These are issues and debates that affect large markets and groups and should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


USTR Formally Publishes Changes to Section 301 Tariff Actions In Airbus Dispute The U.S. has now published a notice in the Federal Register outlining the changes to its Section 301 tariffs relative to the Airbus dispute with the European Union (EU). The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced the adjustments December 30 and they will take effect January 12, according to the notice. Additional goods from France and Germany will be subject to additional tariffs under the action, USTR said, including aircraft manufacturing parts from France and Germany, certain non-sparkling wine from France and Germany, and certain cognac and other grape brandies from France and Germany

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


USDA Opens Signup For Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Disaster Help USDA opened signup for the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program to provide assistance to producers who suffered eligible crop quality losses due to hurricanes, excessive moisture, floods, drought, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms, and wildfires occurring in calendar years 2018 and 2019. USDA also published a final rule for the effort in Federal Register January 6. USDA also amended provisions for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to be consistent with the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, by adding excessive moisture and drought occurring in 2018 and 2019 as qualifying disaster events and clarifying eligibility of sugar beets.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets As usual, Thursday morning is busy with USDA's weekly export sales and U.S. jobless claims out at 7:30 a.m. CST, along with the U.S. trade deficit for November and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. U.S. natural gas inventory is set for 9:30 a.m. and USDA will have more specific export information available for November later Thursday morning. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the Delta and Deep South Thursday. We'll also see scattered light snow in the western Midwest and snow in the far northwestern Plains. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal north and central and below normal south. No bitter cold is part of the scene.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


Latest Ag Economy Barometer Released Farmer sentiment improved modestly in December, according to the latest Ag Economy Barometer. The CME Group/Purdue University index, released Tuesday, rose to a reading of 174, up seven points from November. December’s sentiment improvement still left the barometer nine points lower than in October. The Index of Current Conditions climbed 15 points to 202, while the Index of Future Expectations increased by just five points to 161. Organizers say the farm income boost provided by the ongoing rally in crop prices appears to be the driving force behind the improvement. However, comparing survey results from before the November election to the post-election time frame, there continues to be less optimism following the election. Farmers note concerns about future ag exports and more worries about increasing environmental regulations and prospects for higher taxes. Additionally, the number of farmers concerned that the farm income safety net will weaken remained higher post-election, as did the percentage of farmers expecting government support for the ethanol industry to decline. ************************************************************************************ Farmers to Families Food Box Program Renewed The Department of Agriculture this week announced the continuation of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says USDA will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food nationwide through the fifth round of the program. Set to expire at the end of 2020, the recent coronavirus aid package provided more funding for the program. In total, USDA has distributed more than 132 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary Perdue says this new round will “go a long way in helping American families access nutritious and healthy meals.” USDA will again purchase combination boxes to ensure all involved recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy, meat products, and seafood will also be included in this round. Contract awards are expected to be made by January 19. Deliveries will begin shortly after awards and continue through the end of April. ************************************************************************************ Conservation Reserve Signup Period Open Farmers can sign up now for the Conservation Reserve Program through February 12, 2021. The program, administered by The Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency, provides annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce says the signup period "gives producers and landowners an opportunity to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term." The popular program allows farmers and ranchers to establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. General signup includes increased opportunities for wildlife habitat enrollment through the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement initiative. New cropland offered in the program must have been planted for four out of six crop years from 2012 to 2017. Additionally, producers with land already enrolled but expiring on September 30, 2021, can re-enroll this year. The acreage offered by producers and landowners is evaluated competitively. Accepted offers will begin October 1, 2021. ************************************************************************************ Newhouse: House Rules Change Silences Rural America Representative Dan Newhouse says the new rules in the House of Representatives “are further isolating rural American voices.” The Washington state Republican issued a statement on the rules package voted on at the beginning of the new session this week. Newhouse claims the rules package limits the ability for “those of us in a growing Republican Conference to represent those who elected us." The package includes language making changes to the motion to recommit, a tool used by the minority party to make last-minute changes to bills on the floor. Instead, the bills would be sent back to committee. Newhouse calls the rule change, and others, "detrimental to the tradition and function of the People’s House.” However, the motion to recommit is largely seen as a political tool against the majority. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats have crafted a package of reforms, “which will make the House more accountable, transparent and effective in our work.” ************************************************************************************ Bill Containing Relief for Derecho Impacted Farmers Signed The year-end legislative package includes tax relief for anyone in presidentially declared disaster areas, including those impacted by the August derecho. The Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 was signed into law by President Donald Trump as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The bipartisan bill removes penalties on early withdrawals from retirement accounts, provides a tax credit for employee retention during business interruption, and encourages charitable giving to affected areas by suspending limits on deductions for certain contributions. Additionally, the legislation creates special rules for qualified disaster-related personal casualty losses. The bill also allows low-income workers to use their previous year’s income to claim certain tax credits, ensuring that they do not lose access to the credits or receive a lower amount. The bill was introduced by Iowa Senators, Republicans Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, in September after touring the damage following the historic derecho and meeting with local leaders and nonprofits. ************************************************************************************ New Book Helps Kids Connect with Soybean Farms A new children's picture book about soybean farming offers a valuable resource to parents and educators. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture's Feeding Minds Press released a new book, My Family's Soybean Farm, along with a companion educator guide. This third title from Feeding Minds follows the farm adventures of Alexander, who takes readers on a tour of his family's soybean farm. The book shows how soybeans are planted, grown and harvested, technology used on the farm, pest management techniques, and the many different products soybeans are used in. The book, geared for grades K-2, combines illustrations with real photographs. AFB Foundation Executive Director Daniel Meloy says, "the unique combination of colorful illustrations and photographs will engage young readers while bringing the farm to life.” My Family’s Soybean Farm is now available in paperback for purchase directly from Feeding Minds Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. Special bulk pricing is also available.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Bigger Wind Turbines Amid all the political tensions across the country this week, the New York Times is reporting that the “technology of wind turbines is about to change dramatically.” It describes a prototype turbine at the mouth of Rotterdam with rotors longer than two American football fields. Later models will be taller than any building on the mainland of Western Europe, the Times says. The machine in the Netherlands is a test model for a new series planned by General Electric designed to have the potential to power cities, supplanting coal or natural gas-fired plants that form the backbones of many electric systems today. However, GE has yet to install any of its machines offshore, the Times says and the company faces questions about how quickly and efficiently it can scale up production. But it thinks that “already the giant turbines have turned heads in the industry.” An analyst said the machine's size and advance sales had “shaken the industry.” The new generation of machines are about a third more powerful than the largest already in commercial service. They will have a generating capacity that would have been almost unimaginable a decade ago, with each one will be able to turn out 13 megawatts of power – enough to light up a town of roughly 12,000 homes – and with each turbine capable of producing as much thrust as the four engines of a Boeing 747 jet, according to G.E. The plan is to deploy them at sea where developers have learned that they can install larger and more numerous turbines and where winds are stronger and more reliable. The race for larger scale turbines has moved faster than many industry figures foresaw. G.E.'s Haliade-X generates almost 30 times more electricity than the first offshore machines installed off Denmark in 1991. Customers are expected to demand even bigger machines in the future. Offshore technology took hold in Northern Europe in the last three decades and is now spreading to the East Coast of the United States as well as Asia, including Taiwan, China and South Korea. The big-ticket projects costing billions of dollars that are possible at sea are attracting large investors, including oil companies like BP and Royal Dutch Shell, who want to enhance their green energy offerings quickly. Capital investment in offshore wind has more than tripled over the last decade to $26 billion, according the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based forecasting group. G.E. began making inroads in wind power in 2002 when it bought Enron's land-based turbine business – a successful unit in a company brought down in a spectacular accounting scandal – at a bankruptcy auction. It was a marginal force in the offshore industry when its executives decided to try to crack it about four years ago. The company saw a growing market with only a couple of serious Western competitors and proceeded to more than double the size of their existing offshore machine, which came to G.E. through its acquisition of the power business of France's Alstom in 2015. The idea was to gain a lead on key competitors like Siemens Gamesa and Vestas Wind Systems, the Danish-based turbine maker. The efficiency of large-scale machines provides a powerful incentive for developers to go for the largest available in order to win auctions for offshore power supply deals that many countries have adopted, said Vincent Schellings, who has headed design and production of the G.E. turbine. “That is where turbine size plays a very important role.” Among the early customers is Orsted, a Danish company that is the world's largest developer of offshore wind farms. It has a preliminary agreement to buy about 90 of the Haliade-X machines for a project called Ocean Wind off Atlantic City, N.J. “I think they surprised everybody when they came out with that machine,” said David Hardy, chief executive of Orsted's offshore business in North America. On Dec. 1, G.E. reached another preliminary agreement to provide turbines for Vineyard Wind, a large wind farm off Massachusetts and it has deals to supply 276 turbines to what is likely to be the world's largest wind farm at Dogger Bank off Britain. These deals could add up to $13 billion, estimates Shashi Barla, principal wind analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a market research firm. The waves made by the G.E. machine have pushed Siemens Gamesa to announce a series of competing turbines. Vestas, which until recently had the industry's biggest machine in its stable, is also expected to unveil a new entry soon. To pull off its gambit, G.E. had to start “pretty much from scratch,” Schellings said. The business unit called G.E. Renewable Energy is spending about $400 million on design, hiring engineers and retooling factories at St. Nazaire and Cherbourg in France. Offshore turbines account for only about 5% of the generating capacity of the overall wind industry, but that number is expected to grow. G.E. still must work out how to manufacture large numbers of the machines efficiently, initially at the plants in France and, possibly later, in Britain and the United States. With a skimpy offshore track record, G.E. also needs to show that it can reliably install and maintain the big machines at sea, using specialized ships and dealing with rough weather. So, we will see. The new U.S. administration appears to be interested in supporting investment in non-fossil fuel energy – including wind power. At the same time, competing global investors appear to be interested in making their own substantial investments in new, more efficient technologies – trends that producers should continue to watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


CFAP 2 Payments Top $13 Billion USDA has now paid out $13.01 billion under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) as of January 3, including $6.17 billion in acreage-based payments, $3.4 billion for livestock, $2.22 billion for sales commodities, $1.17 billion for dairy and $54.0 million for eggs/broilers. Payments for seven commodities have reached $500 million or more, including corn ($3.35 billion), cattle ($2.78 billion), sales commodities ($2.14 billion), soybeans ($1.29 billion), milk ($1.17 billion), wheat $703 million), and hogs/pigs ($532 million). But attention is already shifting to the expected CFAP 3 effort that USDA will unveil soon as the agency sorts through the provisions in the COVID aid package approved by Congress back in December

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


USDA To Purchase An Additional $1.5 Billion In Food Box Effort USDA will purchase an additional $1.5 billion in food nationwide for distribution via the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The fifth round of food box purchases comes via funding provided via the COVID aid plan approved December 21. The effort will utilize organizations that previously participated and solicitations are expected to be issued by the end of this week. Seafood products will now be eligible along with other hard, semi-firm or semi-soft cheeses will be included. As of January 4, USDA said that 132.5 million Food Boxes had been invoiced. Contracts are expected to be awarded by January 19 with deliveries to begin shortly thereafter and continue through the end of April. This puts to rest speculation on whether USDA would operate another round of the popular program which many have viewed as a success.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday's reports start with an estimate of U.S. private sector employment by ADP at 7:15 a.m. CST, followed by U.S. factory orders at 9 a.m. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. and the Federal Reserve puts out minutes from the latest Open Market Committee meeting at 1 p.m. CST. South American weather and export sales continue to receive daily attention. Weather Rain and mixed precipitation are in store for portions of the northern and western Midwest Wednesday, with rain moving through the southeastern Plains and a rain-snow mix in the Northwest. Dry conditions will be in effect elsewhere. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


Dairy Groups Welcome New Dietary Guidelines, Outline Needed Improvements Newly released federal dietary guidelines will benefit dairy, even as work remains to be done, according to the National Milk Producers Federation. Miquela Hanselman, NMPF’s regulatory affairs manager, says, “Dairy is in a good place." The latest update to the dietary guidelines includes a recommendation of three dairy servings in the Healthy U.S. Eating pattern, in keeping with past guidelines. The guidelines also recognize that Americans aren’t consuming enough dairy to meet their nutritional needs. The guidelines also recommend milk, yogurt, and cheese in the first-ever healthy eating patterns geared toward infants and toddlers ages birth to 24 months. Meanwhile, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, one of the largest dairy co-ops in the country, urged Congress to help broaden the milk options children have in school. Cooperative President Brody Stapel states, “the agencies and scientific review committee missed an opportunity to address and include the newer, available science on the nutritional benefits from fuller-fat dairy and a wider array of products.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends Crop Insurance Flexibilities Amid Continuing Pandemic USDA's Risk Management Agency is extending crop insurance flexibilities for producers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, relief provided for electronic notifications and signatures is extended through July 15, 2021. Organic certification, replant self-certification and assignment of indemnity are extended through June 30, 2021. RMA is also allowing Approved Insurance Providers further flexibilities for production reporting, submitting written agreement requests and obtaining producer signatures for written agreement offers. Producer signatures for written agreement offers, issued by RMA on or before June 30, with an expiration date on or before July 30, 2021, will allow producer signatures to be accepted after the expiration date with proper self-certification or documentation. However, all documentation and signatures for these offers must be completed no later than August 2, 2021. Insurance providers also have 30 business days to submit written agreement requests and applicable documentation for requests with submission deadlines before July 1, 2021. Similar flexibilities were announced in March of 2020, to help producers meet deadlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. ************************************************************************************ TFI and Biostimulant Coalition Unite The Fertilizer Institute Monday announced that it and the Biostimulant Coalition have reached a formal agreement to form a Biostimulant Council. The two organizations will work together to advance policy and regulatory frameworks that increase biostimulant market access and encourage research and innovation through the council. The Biostimulant Coalition is a non-profit group working to proactively address regulatory and legislative issues involving biological or naturally-derived additives. The group was formed in 2011. Biostimulant Coalition Executive Director David Beaudreau, Jr says, “The partnership with TFI will provide the Biostimulant Coalition with all the tools we need to continue serving the membership we have.” TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch stated the organization will work to “ensure the industry has a workable biostimulant definition,” among other goals. Rosenbusch says the number one issue facing the biostimulant industry is the lack of a regulatory approval process that allows biostimulants to be marketed to or utilized by farmers. ************************************************************************************ AgFunder: 2020 Investors Sought Ecommerce, Tech The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 caused many challenges for the food supply chain, but also many opportunities. AgFunder, a venture capital firm investing in agriculture, analyzed the 2020 startup and tech funding trends. Last year, COVID-19 increased the online grocery category as consumers were forced in many cases to turn to online shopping to fulfill their everyday grocery needs. Two of the year's largest deals went to an eGrocer: China's Missfresh, which banked $495 million in July from investors, followed by a $306 million injection from Chinese state-linked funds. Other big eGrocery funding deals include Instacart, BigBasket in India, and other online grocery startups. Likewise, online meal delivery apps also attracted major funding during the year. U.S.-based DoorDash raised $400 million during the first half of 2020, before going public in a blockbuster $71 billion IPO. Another effect of the pandemic and lockdowns is an increased interest in technologies that takes human out of the process, whether it be farming, manufacturing, or logistics. ************************************************************************************ University of Missouri Announces Center for Regenerative Agriculture The University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources plans to dive deeper into regenerative agriculture. CAFNR (calf-ner), as it’s known, announced the formation of the new Center for Regenerative Agriculture Monday. While there is no single definition for regenerative agriculture, some key elements of the practice include increasing soil health and biodiversity, conservation practices, and contributing to overall sustainability and profitability. An initial startup grant to help the center get established and help hire a program manager comes from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Complimentary funding on cover crops and soil health that supports work related to the center comes from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Rob Myers, an adjunct associate professor in the Division of Plant Sciences, will serve as the center's faculty director. Myers is a former National Program Leader for Sustainable Agriculture with the Department of Agriculture. ************************************************************************************ Sorghum Checkoff Names Norma Ritz Johnson as Executive Director The United Sorghum Checkoff Program Monday announced Norma Ritz Johnson as the organization’s third executive director. Johnson most recently served as Executive Vice President for the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, where she led initiatives and staff communications with an emphasis on transportation, agriculture and health care. As a leader, her teams implemented programs that were awarded the national Chamber of the Year twice in the last 11 years. Sorghum Checkoff CEO Tim Lust says Johnson "brings strong organizational management with a background in agriculture and sorghum." She also served as Communications Director for National Sorghum Producers in the early 2000s. Johnson says, "I'm eager to roll my sleeves up and get to work helping to bring value to the organization and sorghum producers." Johnson replaces Florentino Lopez, who has served as the organization's executive director since 2011. Lopez will continue to serve the sorghum industry in a new capacity consulting on international market development.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Last Minute Rules Controversies During the “wind down” phase, administrations often propose unusual rules that would be at least somewhat unlikely at other times. This week, the Washington Post is reporting that the White House is preparing to temporarily freeze some foreign aid during the President's final days in office — slowing down funds already approved by Congress. The administration can't unilaterally cancel the funding, but it can “bog the process down” by asking Congress to claw the money back. Lawmakers will likely reject this request, but the act of asking Congress to recoup the money allows the White House to freeze it until the president leaves office on Jan. 20. The president has long complained about U.S. taxpayer money going to other countries, but Congress has repeatedly blocked him from doing anything about it. While official details on the proposal are scarce, U.S. foreign aid officials had been expecting some sort of effort by the White House to freeze their funding, ever since President Trump blasted the bipartisan coronavirus stimulus and spending bill passed by Congress last week. In a surprise video statement, he criticized aid going to Cambodia, Myanmar, Egypt, Pakistan and Central America, among other programs. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law, but then issued a statement saying he would demand “many rescissions” under the Impoundment Control Act, which allows the president to temporarily freeze certain funding after sending a notice to Congress on the amount of the proposed rescission and the reasons for it. If Congress does not pass legislation approving the rescission within 45 days, the funds are unfrozen and must be spent as Congress originally intended. The 45-day clock runs only when Congress is in session so the administration will be able to freeze the funds only through Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Trump officials, which had repeatedly tried to cut foreign aid in its formal budgets only to be rebuffed by Congress, have used the rescission process as a tool to make it harder for the State Department and USAID to spend money. Last year, it attempted to cancel up to $4 billion in foreign aid, but scrapped the plan after facing opposition from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. In another “end of administration report” The Hill is reporting that the White House appears to have concluded its review of EPA's controversial “secret science” rule — which is expected to limit the types of scientific research the agency can consider in its rulemaking process. The OMB website lists the rule's review as concluded this week. The rule, which EPA has billed as a transparency measure, is criticized by some as an effort to limit the agency's ability to consider studies that don't make their underlying data public. Critics argue that this rule could cause the agency to exclude important research like landmark public health studies that can't release participants' information. An agency spokesperson declined to say whether the rule had been finalized and signed by Administrator Andrew Wheeler, saying “we have nothing to announce at this time” in an email to The Hill. “The American public deserve transparency and access to data that determine regulatory decisions and in a way that protects the privacy of individuals and other confidential information,” the spokesman said. He also declined to say whether there were significant changes to the rule, which has been nicknamed the “secret science” rule since a version of it was proposed in March. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, criticized the rule as “just one last gasp of science denial. Amid an ongoing public health crisis—a time when accessing the latest scientific research and embracing scientific advancements is a critical function of protecting human health — the Trump EPA is trying to limit the use of scientific data.” The rule also received pushback from the EPA's own Science Advisory Board earlier this year. “There is minimal justification provided in the proposed rule for why existing procedures and norms utilized across the U.S. scientific community, including the federal government, are inadequate, and how the proposed rule will improve transparency and the scientific integrity of the regulatory outcomes in an effective and efficient manner,” the SAB wrote in a report. “It is plausible that in some situations, the proposed rule will decrease efficiency and reduce scientific integrity,” it added. The March proposal was an altered version of the rule which was first pushed under then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The updated version expanded the scope of the rule to include agency activities beyond just rulemaking. In the newer version, the agency also wouldn't entirely exclude studies that don't publicize their data, but would give preference to studies that do make their data publicly available. The rule is one of several being pushed through by the administration during its final days. It has recently finalized an airline emissions regulation, reviews of air quality standards and changes to a lead contamination rule, The Hill said. So, we will see. Clearly, the current transition is a tension filled moment involving many bitter controversies — debates and battles that producers should watch closely as the process enters its final moments, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


APHIS Seeks To Develop Information From Labs On Testing Of Animals For COVID-19 USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on developing an information request from labs that test animals for COVID-19. “To better meet its reporting requirements about emerging diseases to the OIE [World Organization for Animal Health], APHIS is interested in collecting information as to the detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in animals,” APHIS said in a Federal Register notice. “To accomplish this, APHIS will distribute a request for information to U.S. laboratories engaged in the testing of animals for SARS-CoV-2, develop a questionnaire in NAHRS [National Animal Health Reporting System], and request that state animal health officials and U.S. laboratories provide SARS-CoV-2 animal testing data on a monthly basis.” The agency said it estimates the information collection will average 1.72 hours per response or a total of 1,626 hours. APHIS said the information gathered will be included in a request to approve the effort which will be made to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


CRS Report Raises Question On Need For Additional Ag Aid While Congress approved another round of aid to U.S. farmers via what is expected to be the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 3 (CFAP 3) effort, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in a report at least raises the question as to whether such payments are needed. The report, released December 21, raised the issue of whether most producers need another round of coronavirus relief aid. It noted that most major crop and livestock commodities “have seen their prices increase substantially” since July because of improving market conditions, with the exceptions of beef cattle and dairy. “If current market conditions were to persist into the first half of 2021, it would appear that price declines would be a possible reason for a new round of CFAP payments for livestock and dairy, but not for row crops,” the report said. While prices for several commodities have improved and continue to have potential for additional increases, U.S. farmers have burned through a considerable amount of capital in dealing with trade-related and COVID-related market impacts. That has left many U.S. farmers in more of a cash-flow bind. While the CFAP payments have helped, producers have not been made whole by those dollars.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday's only official report is the U.S. index of manufacturing from the Institute of Supply Management. Traders will continue to keep an eye on South American weather forecasts and any export news that arises. The stock market also will also get attention after Monday's sell-off. Weather Tuesday features snow in the northern Rocky Mountains and light snow crossing the eastern Midwest. Dry conditions are in store elsewhere. The disturbance producing the Rockies snow crosses into the Plains and western Midwest Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


U.S. Raising Tariffs on Certain European Imports The U.S. government says it will raise tariffs on certain products coming into the country from the European Union. Reuters says those products include wines from France and Germany, as well as aircraft components. It’s the latest move in a longtime battle between Washington and Brussels over aircraft subsidies. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says it is adding tariffs on aircraft manufacturing parts and certain non-sparkling wines and other liquors from France and Germany. The USTR news release didn’t say when the tariffs would go into effect but did say details are forthcoming. The move comes as the two sides continue to negotiate a deal to end European subsidies to Airbus SE and American subsidies to plane manufacturer Boeing. The U.S. Wine Trade Alliance issued a release saying the action would cause further hardship for U.S. companies already hard-hit by previous tariffs and urged President-elect Biden to reverse course. “This action is a body blow for American companies,” the release says. “U.S. restaurants and small businesses are already struggling to survive, and this decision will only destroy more jobs.” Reuters also adds that officials from the EU and Airbus weren’t available for comment. ********************************************************************************************** Grain Exports End 2020 on High Note The newest grain export sales report from the USDA for the week ending on December 24 shows that 2020 is ending on a positive note. Soybean export sales for the 2020-2021 crop surpassed analyst expectations. The trade was looking for sales ranging between 7–25 million bushels. However, the new figure passed those estimates as sales jumped 74 percent from the previous week to 33.7 million bushels. Export sales cancellations also rose 23 percent to 7.9 million bushels. However, a Farm Futures article says that’s not surprising because a recent run-up in the price of soybeans likely caused some price resistance among smaller buyers. Weekly export sales for 2020-2021 corn also surpassed market expectations in last week’s report. Forecasters were looking in a range of 19-39 million bushels, but USDA reported a 55 percent increase in week-over-week sales to 43.1 million bushels. Rallying corn prices caused cancellations to increase to 5.1 million bushels. Wheat sales weren’t as strong as those of corn and soybeans. However, they were strong because of a weaker dollar and limited exportable supplies in the Black Sea region. The weekly total was up one-third from the previous week to 19.2 million bushels. *********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Drops to a Two-Month Low Ethanol output dropped week-to-week to its lowest level in over two months while stockpiles continue to increase. The Energy Information Administration says U.S. production of the biofuel dropped to an average of 934,000 barrels a day in the week ending on Christmas Day, down from 976,000 barrels the previous week. That’s the lowest total since the week ending on October 16. The Midwest, by far the biggest-producing region, output averaged 891,000 barrels a day. That’s a drop from 929,000 barrels a day the previous week and the lowest it’s been since mid-October. Gulf coast production also went lower, averaging 13,000 barrels a day last week, down from 17,000 the prior week. East Coast ethanol production was unchanged at 12,000 barrels a day, while both the Rocky Mountain and West Coast production levels were unchanged at 9,000 barrels a day. Ethanol stockpiles in the week ending on Christmas Day totaled 23.504 million metric tons. The Energy Information Administration says that’s up from 23.169 million metric tons in storage the previous week, and it’s the highest amount in storage since May 15. ************************************************************************************ Farmland Prices May Rise in 2021 After years of stability, farmland prices may be set to rise in 2021. Farm Journal’s Ag Web Dot Com says factors are coming together that may be about to send the price of land higher. Some of the key factors include government support for farmers, stronger commodity prices, low interest rates, limited farmland for sale, and strong interest from investors. Doug Hensley, president of real estate services for Hertz Farm Management in Iowa, says those factors are all driving the price of farmland higher. “We’ve sold more $12,000 to $14,000 per acre farms from September to December than the last three or four years combined.” Randy Dickhut of the Farmers National Company in Nebraska says when COVID-19 ground things to a halt in the spring of 2020, the land market ground to a quick stop. “Buyers and sellers both were cautious and pulled back because of the uncertainty,” he says. “Then, the land market began getting more active in the summer, which led to increasing interest in all types of land.” Investors also want a safe place to put some cash. Sales activity at Farmers National was up 49 percent in October and November versus the same time in 2019. ********************************************************************************************** Argentina Halts Corn Exports for Three Months Fresh off resolving their labor situation at the country’s ports, Argentina will now suspend corn exports until March 1. The country’s ag ministry made the surprise move as part of the government’s efforts to ensure ample domestic food supplies. “The decision is based on the need to ensure the supply of grain for the sectors that use it as a raw material for the production of animal protein such as pork, chicken, eggs, milk, and cattle, where corn represents a significant component of production costs,” the statement says. Argentina’s government is attempting to control food price inflation and provide relief to low-income families battling against a shrinking economy brought on by COVID-19. Ag Canada Dot Com says the South American nation is a major international supplier of corn, soybeans, and wheat, as well as the world’s top exporter of soymeal livestock feed. Farmers and other stakeholders in Argentina’s corn supply chain traditionally oppose this type of intervention in the markets. The head of the corn industry’s chamber in Argentina says, “We are absolutely surprised. This does not make sense. There was never a lack of corn in Argentina.” ********************************************************************************************** Biden’s EPA Nominee Reaches Out to Corn Growers Michael Regan of North Carolina is Joe Biden’s nominee to oversee the Environmental Protection Agency. It didn’t take long for Regan to begin reaching out to U.S. agriculture. In fact, it was the day before the official nomination announcement that Regan called National Corn Growers Association CEO Jon Doggett. “He called me on my cell phone at night,” Doggett says. “It was not set up and I was completely surprised.” Regan said he wanted to introduce himself and point out that “we have a lot of work to do together if I get confirmed,” and say how much he’s looking forward to working with U.S. agriculture. The Daily Scoop Dot Com says most of the conversation focused on working with corn growers to help reverse climate change. Regan said to Doggett, “I know the RFS is important to the corn industry, and climate change is important to Joe Biden. And we’re looking forward to helping farmers find opportunities to help us address climate change.” Doggett says, “That was good to hear.” Doggett also had the chance to talk to the future EPA chief about some of the needs of U.S. corn farmers that intersect with EPA regulation, including GMOs and glyphosate, that help farmers be more sustainable, both environmentally and economically.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Why Markets Boomed The New York Times says this week that “the central, befuddling economic reality of the United States at the close of 2020 is that everything is terrible in the world, while everything is wonderful in the financial markets.” It thinks this reveals the “sharp disparity between the pandemic year's haves and have-nots.” The report uses government data to conclude that salaries and wages fell less, in the aggregate, than even a careful observer of the economy might have thought. Employee compensation was down only 0.5% for the recent period, “more akin to a mild recession than an economic catastrophe.” The Times says the numbers are hard to understand since job numbers fell 6.1% in November compared with a year earlier, so how can employee compensation be down only 0.5%? The answer is found in the types of jobs lost, the report says. The millions of people no longer working because of the pandemic were disproportionately in lower-paying service jobs. Higher-paying professional jobs were more likely unaffected and a handful of were booming, such as warehousing and grocery stores, leading to higher incomes for those workers. The result is that wages, salaries and other forms of workers' compensation dropped modestly — $43 billion over the nine months — despite mass unemployment. “For all the attacks on the CARES Act that Congress passed in late March, the degree to which it served to support the incomes of Americans, especially those who lost jobs, is extraordinary,” the Times observes. Americans' income from unemployment insurance benefits was 25 times higher from March through November 2020 than in the same period of 2019 — partly because millions more jobless people were seeking benefits, of course. In total, unemployment insurance programs pumped $499 billion more into Americans' pockets from March to November than the previous year; $365 billion of it was a result of the expansion in the CARES Act. The $1,200 checks included in that legislation contributed a further $276 billion to personal income — much of which accrued to families that did not experience a drop in earnings. And the law's signature program to encourage businesses to keep people on their payrolls was the Paycheck Protection Program which pushed profits that accrued to owners of businesses and farms up narrowly, by $29 billion, but would have fallen by $143 billion if not for the PPP and a coronavirus food assistance program. The Times says that in total, Americans' cumulative after-tax personal income was $1.03 trillion higher from March to November of 2020 than in 2019. Some of the pessimism among economic forecasters (and journalists) in the spring reflected a failure to understand just how large and influential those stimulus payments would turn out to be, the report said. There's more: spending fell. One obvious result was a decline in spending on services, including restaurant reservations never made, flights not taken, sports and concert tickets not bought and the like which added up to serious money. Services spending fell by $575 billion, or nearly 8%. Less obvious were some of the other patterns affecting consumer spending in a pandemic. Also, durable goods spending was up by $60 billion while nondurable goods spending rose by $39 billion. But those outlays did not exceed the drop in spending on services as households' personal interest payments and other miscellaneous outlays dropped by $59 billion. Not only were American households, in the aggregate, taking in more money, but they were also spending less of it. Total outlays fell by $535 billion. This combination of soaring personal income and falling spending pushed savings up sharply. From March through November, personal savings was $1.56 trillion higher than in 2019, a rise of 173%. So, in spite of the economic hardships, Americans in the aggregate were building savings at a startling rate. Holding extra cash was one option — and sure enough, currency in circulation has spiked by $260 billion since February, a 14% increase. Deposits in commercial banks are way up — by 19% since the first week of March. And, for those a little more comfortable with risk, there was investing in stocks, which helps explain the 16% rise in the S&P 500 for the year. Or you could have used the occasion of the pandemic to buy a new house: home sales surged, and the S&P CoreLogic national home price index was up 8.4% in October from a year earlier. Essentially, the rise in savings among the people who avoided major economic damage from the pandemic has created a tide lifting the values of nearly all financial assets. And, the Federal Reserve played a role by lowering interest rates to near zero and promised to keep them there for years; bought government debt; and supported corporate bond markets. But the surge in asset prices has made its way into many sectors far from any form of Fed support, like stocks and Bitcoin. And the surge has, if anything, accelerated this fall despite a lack of additional stimulative action from the Fed. Still, the Times warns that the high asset prices may not hold and the fact that different groups fared so much differently likely signals growing pressure for specific, better focused programs in the future. It also notes that the 2021 economic narrative has yet to be written. If 2020 teaches one thing, it is that the story arc is far less predictable than you might think. Clearly, many of these trends are likely to receive significantly greater attention and emphasis in the future than in the past, trends producers should watch very closely as the year proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


UK Approves Post-Brexit Trade Deal Britain's post-Brexit trading agreement with the European Union was signed into law, after being overwhelmingly approved by Parliament. It comes into effect tonight. The UK government overwhelmingly approved the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU after a marathon 14 hour long parliamentary process. Earlier Wednesday, the post-Brexit trade deal was signed by European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels. When signing the deal into law, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked his parliament for passing the Brexit bill in one day and said it marks a new chapter dealing with the EU. The deal will redraw the UK's ties with the EU and see importers and exporters face a new trading dynamic from January 1 and it has spurred concerns that trade could be disrupted in agri-food products.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


US To Adjust Retaliation In Airbus Dispute The U.S. will adjust its tariffs that it imposed on European Union (EU) goods in the wake of winning a dispute at the WTO over subsidies provided to Airbus. The U.S. took issue with the time period that the EU used to hit the U.S. with retaliatory tariffs after it was cleared to impose sanctions on the U.S. for subsidies to Boeing that the world trade body said ran counter to U.S. WTO commitments. The U.S. will now apply additional tariffs include aircraft manufacturing parts from France and Germany, certain non-sparkling wine from France and Germany, and certain cognac and other grape brandies from France and Germany, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). “The EU used trade data from a period in which trade volumes had been drastically reduced due to the horrific effects on the global economy from the COVID-19 virus,” USTR said in announcing the shift in tariffs. “The result of this choice was that Europe imposed tariffs on substantially more products than would have been covered if it had utilized a normal period.” Given that, USTR said the U.S. is “forced to change its reference period to the same period used by the European Union.” But the U.S. will adjust the product coverage by less than the full amount that would be justified utilizing the EU's chosen time period. The new U.S. tariffs will take effect January 12.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Ready to start 2021, traders will be checking the latest South American weather forecasts and will pause at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. A report on U.S. construction spending is due out at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. Weather Dry conditions will cover most of the central U.S. Monday. We may see some scattered light mixed precipitation in the northern Midwest. Precipitation will be heaviest in the Northwest with rain and mountain snow. Temperatures will be mild for the season.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


Grain Worker Strike Ends in Argentina Argentina’s port and grain union workers have ended a 20-day strike after reaching an agreement on Tuesday, with the settlement coming after the government intervened in the dispute. The move lifts a major work stoppage that had left more than 150 ships stranded at the country’s ports. Argentina is one of the world’s largest suppliers of soybeans, corn, and wheat. The strike has hampered the large flow of grain out of the country, which has weighed down grain markets for several weeks. Failure to unload those grain ships at Argentina’s ports had cost the government approximately 1.9 billion dollars in payments to the ships’ owners. Market traders were concerned that an ongoing strike would cause global end-users to look to the U.S. for soybeans, but the U.S. is already dealing with tight soybean supplies. The possibility of expanding dryness in soybean-growing areas of South America over the next two weeks was adding fuel to a recent rally in soybean prices, which hit a six-year high earlier this week. Analysts at Bower Trading say weather and demand news will likely be the biggest market drivers now that the strike is over. ********************************************************************************************** China will Miss Phase One Buying Deadline China is a long way from meeting the commitments in its trade deal with the U.S. Farm Progress Dot Com says the latest data shows the Southeast Asian nation has imported just over half the goods it promised to buy from America in the Phase One Trade Agreement. Over the first 11 months of the year, China bought about 50.5 percent of the total 2020 target of $172 billion. That’s according to Bloomberg calculations based on figures from the U.S. Custom’s Administration. The outlook for the trade deal is uncertain as a new administration prepares to take office in Washington, D.C. As of the end of November, data shows that China had bought 54 percent of targeted manufacturing products, 53 percent of agricultural goods, and 31 percent of the energy products. Aggregate soybean imports reached $8.1 billion from January-November, compared with $10.2 billion in 2017. The trade deal says China’s imports of manufactured, agricultural, and energy goods in 2020 were to be no less than $32.9 billion, $12.5 billion, and $18.5 billion on top of 2017’s levels, putting the year’s targets at $110.4 billion, $36.6 billion, and $25.1 billion. ************************************************************************************ China to Increase Corn Production and Imports Chinese demand for corn will continue rising, with imports from the U.S. likely to improve in future years. University of Illinois economists say China was self-sufficient in corn production until 2015 and then relied on imports from Ukraine until 2019. The lower corn output over the last year in Ukraine forced China to turn to the U.S. for additional corn supplies. Economists Scott Irwin and Joe Janzen with the University of Illinois say China will likely increase domestic corn production, boost imports from overseas sellers, and dig into its stockpiles this year. “If Ukrainian production returns to normal and the Brazilian corn price is competitive with the U.S., both of which appear likely, U.S. exports of corn to China are likely to be lower in 2021-2022 than what’s projected for the current marketing year,” they say. “Even so, U.S. corn exports to China will likely be higher than in previous years.” The economists say they expect U.S. corn acreage to drop by 1.1 million acres to a total of 90.9 million next year, while soybean acres will rise 7.7 million acres to 90.8 million. Their report says ending stockpiles will have difficulty increasing much in the 2020-2021 marketing year. ********************************************************************************************** European Union, United Kingdom Trade Deal Becomes Official Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Britain, signed the post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union on Wednesday. Reuters says he added his signature to that of European Union leaders after the document was flown from Brussels to London. The trade deal was first announced on December 24, and it sets out the terms of Britain’s new relationship with the EU following its exit from the bloc earlier this year. The new deal will officially take effect on January 1, replacing a transitional arrangement in which EU trade rules applied to Britain. Johnson’s signature came hours after British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation implementing the deal. Lawmakers voted 521 to 73 to progress the bill to its final stages. The accord preserves Britain’s zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the European Union’s 450 million consumers, preventing a more chaotic split that had been feared by British businesses. ********************************************************************************************** Food Prices Rise During COVID-19 The USDA says grocery store prices rose 5.6 percent higher in June of 2020 compared with June of last year. Retail prices rose for all food-at-home categories except for fresh fruits. Many of the increases were a result of the coronavirus. COVID-19 disrupted the supply chains of multiple commodities and affected consumers’ food spending patterns. That put upward pressure on wholesale and retail food prices. Closing schools and stay-at-home orders in the spring of 2020 resulted in the dairy industry switching from supplying products for schools and restaurants to supplying products to grocery stores and other food-at-home retailers. Adapting to the change placed upward pressure on retail prices for dairy products, which rose 5.1 percent from June of last year to June 2020. Beef also suffered from supply chain disruptions. Decreased slaughter volumes because of COVID-19 led to a bottleneck in supply, which boosted prices. Retail beef and veal prices in June of 2020 were 25 percent higher than in June 2019. Much of this increase occurred after February of this year. The retail prices of other commodities rose as well, including egg prices were up 12 percent in June of this year compared to June 2019, while pork and poultry prices increased 11.8 and 8.7 percent, respectively. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Extends COVID-19 Flexibilities USDA’s Risk Management Agency is extending crop insurance flexibilities for producers during COVID-19. Specifically, the relief provided for electronic notifications and signatures that are extended through July 15, 2021. Organic certification, replant certification, and assignment of indemnity is extended through June 30, 2021. “We recognize that American agriculture continues to face challenges due to COVID-19,” says RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “RMA remains committed to providing the flexibility that supports the health and safety of all parties while also ensuring that the federal crop insurance program continues to serve as a vital risk management tool.” RMA is also allowing Approved Insurance Providers further flexibilities for production reporting, submitting written agreement requests, and obtaining producer signatures for written agreement offers. Producers’ signatures for written agreement offers issued by RMA on or before June 30, 2021, with an expiration date on or before July 30, 2021, will allow producer signatures to get accepted after the expiration date with proper self-certification or documentation. However, all documentation and signatures for these offers must be completed no later than August 2, 2021. For more information, go to the Risk Management Agency’s website or contact your crop insurance agent.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


Washington Insider Fed Commits to More Dovish Lineup Bloomberg is reporting this week that expected changes to the Federal Reserve Bank's interest-rate setting panel likely will make it even less likely to tighten monetary policy in the new year. The report expects this "more dovish view" no matter how much of a jolt the economy gets from the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. In the annual rotation of voters on the Federal Open Market Committee, the four regional Fed presidents who receive that privilege in 2021 will be marginally more dovish -- or inclined to favor easy policy -- than the four they replace. The most notable shift comes as Chicago's Charles Evans, one of the most predictably dovish officials, takes the vote held this year by Cleveland's Loretta Mester, a relatively hawkish figure on the panel. In addition, a new permanent vote now belongs to Christopher Waller, the former research director of the St. Louis Fed who was sworn in as a member of the Fed's Board of Governors on Dec. 18. In one important respect Waller is decidedly dovish: He has long championed the view, more recently embraced by the Fed's leadership, that low unemployment doesn't automatically generate higher inflation. "If vaccines take hold, the prospect of rate hikes might get a little closer than it feels like today," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. "But they're still not likely to be moving rates in 2021." The Bloomberg report said that the Board, led by Chair Jerome Powell, this year adopted a new monetary policy framework that commits them to a more patient approach to raising rates than at any other time since the early 1970s. The committee has backed that up in two ways. Its members have declared they won't hike before the labor market has reached their estimate of maximum employment and inflation is on its way to exceeding their 2% target. They also submitted economic projections in December showing 12 of 17 FOMC members didn't expect a single rate hike until at least 2024. Still, the changes on the FOMC this year could influence the fine-tuning delivered by the Fed's asset-purchasing program, Bloomberg thinks. "The bank is currently buying $120 billion a month worth of Treasuries and mortgage-backed bonds in an effort to suppress longer-term borrowing costs for households and businesses. An unexpected negative turn for the economy could lead to calls to ramp up those purchases." With vaccines being distributed and a new $900 billion stimulus package just passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump, the economy may be poised for a robust rebound in the second half of 2021. That could make it more likely the Fed comes under pressure to taper its bond purchases. "Attitudes toward asset purchases might vary even among the group that is extremely dovish. If vaccines take hold, the prospect of rate hikes might get a little closer than it feels like today, said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. But they're still not likely to be moving rates in 2021. So, I do think the change in composition matters in that sense, at least at the margin." Two other factors that could play a role: inflation and financial stability. On the first, inflation is on track to show a sharp year-on-year increase come spring, based purely on price drops triggered by the pandemic last March and April. A burst in economic activity could push that higher, leading to a debate over whether price gains might persist. Powell has already signaled he'd view sharp price increases in 2021 as "transient." With the new makeup of the committee, it's less likely that he'd provoke votes of dissent at Fed policy meetings by ignoring inflation. But there could also be new concerns over financial stability if a brightening outlook and super-low rates cause corporations to go on another debt binge and financial markets to react giddily. "As we shift gears from a delicate phase to one that's more likely to see an acceleration in the pace of the recovery, the Fed's attention will also have to shift and pay closer to attention to these financial stability concerns," said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist with Oxford Economics. So far, the factors slowing access to vaccines seem to be keeping the lid on economic growth and investment but stronger efforts to control the virus are possible during the winter. Clearly, these developments are vitally important to producers and should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


Dietary Guidelines Flat on Consuming Sugars, Alcohol New Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, was released by USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tuesday. The guidelines now include recommended dietary patterns for infants and toddlers. The agencies said the new guidelines were "informed by the scientific report developed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee" along with public input and that from other government agencies. The recommendations "look similar" to prior guidelines, the agencies noted, and despite a general recommendation that adults limit added sugar and alcoholic beverage intake, the guidelines sidestepped making any specifics on those two items. The agencies said evidence presented to the dietary review committee lacked "a preponderance of evidence" that would support specific numbers on alcohol or added sugar, "as required by law." As for red meat and processed foods, the guidelines also don't delve significantly into those areas. They do recommend replacing processed or high-fat meats with seafood or beans, peas and lentils to meet protein recommendations. The majority of meat and poultry a person consumes should be fresh, frozen or canned, and in lean forms, according to the guidelines. They suggest items like chicken breast or ground turkey, versus processed meats like ham or other deli meat. The U.S. Cattlemen's Association tweeted that the guidelines gave scant mention of beef. "In the 164-page 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 'Beef' is mentioned only five times; 'Meat' is mentioned 87 times; 'Protein' can be found 166 times." But the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) declared the new guidelines recognize the role that lean beef can play in a healthy diet. "Beef is one of Americans' favorite foods, and science consistently shows lean beef can be the cornerstone in a variety of healthy diets," said NCBA President Marty Smith. The group pointed out beef is a source of the nutrient-rich foods recommended in the guidelines. The mixed reactions to the guidelines are not surprising as some in the food industry are complaining they do not go far enough in recommending dietary changes, and that the agencies set the scientific agenda for the guidelines, not the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


US Blocks Palm Oil From a Second Malaysia Plantation Due to Human Rights Abuses The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agency has issued another withhold release order relative to imports of Malaysian palm oil. The Dec. 28 order covers palm oil and palm oil products produced by the Sime Darby Plantation Berhad, due to findings of forced labor abuses. Sime Darby claims to produce 15% of Malaysia's palm oil, CBP said. "Palm oil is an ingredient in a lot of products that American consumers buy and use. And I think it's important for manufacturers and importers to be aware of where they're at higher risk of forced labor, and to demand that their suppliers are adhering to protecting human rights of their workers," said Ana Hinojosa, executive director of CBP's Trade Remedy Law Enforcement Directorate. CBP in September issued a withhold release order for imports of palm oil and palm oil products from FGV Holdings Berhad and its subsidiaries.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Even though Thursday is New Year's Eve, much of the day will be typical. USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CST, joined by weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department reports on natural gas storage at 9:30 a.m. U.S. grain and livestock futures close at their normal times Thursday and will resume trading Sunday evening at 7 p.m. CST. Weather The secondary system to this week's storm developing over Texas on Thursday will move northeast through the Midwest on Friday. Another round of freezing rain and snow will occur to the north and west of the storm track with significant impacts to transportation and livestock. A boost in soil moisture is also anticipated for the Southern Plains to Midwest and points south and east.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


Grain Prices Should Improve in 2021 Global grain stocks will likely be about 1.5 percent higher than last year, reversing the downward trend over the prior few years. Despite the rise in global supplies, USDA forecasts higher corn, wheat, and barley prices than in the 2019-2020 marketing year. The average corn price is projected at four dollars a bushel, compared to $3.85 the prior year. The average wheat price is forecast at $4.80 a bushel, up from $4.60 in the previous marketing year. The average barley price is projected to be $4.75 a bushel, up five cents a bushel from last year. Feed, food, and export markets for corn are all promising for 2021. U.S. corn exports were up 49 percent in 2020 to 67.3 million metric tons, a huge boon to marketers and growers. On the corn import side, demand by the top seven importers was up nine percent this year, compared to a decline in 2019. Imports of corn jumped by 71 percent, which the Capital Press article says, “Definitely tells the story.” China also played a big role in wheat markets, with their imports up 48.7 percent. Demand for wheat by the five biggest importers was up five percent this year, compared to a two percent increase in 2019. ********************************************************************************************** Court Rejects Prop 12 Challenge in California The North American Meat Institute’s challenge to California’s Prop 12 is unsuccessful once again. The U.S. Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit rejected the institute’s challenge to the California 2018 ballot initiative that imposes new standards for animal housing. The court decision confirms an initial judgment in October. California voters approved the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act with 63 percent of the vote. The law creates minimum requirements to provide more space for veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens. By 2020, the law requires farmers to give hens at least one foot of floor space and says farmers have to eliminate cages by 2022. Farmers must now give veal calves at least 43 square feet, and sows get 24 feet of room. Court challenges by the Meat Institute and other groups have centered around the fact that the law applies to out-of-state producers of meat and eggs who want to sell products in California. Both the federal Department of Justice and 20 states joined the Meat Institute’s challenge, arguing that the law will contribute to higher food prices for consumers. ********************************************************************************************** New Five-Year Dietary Guidelines Released The USDA and the Health and Human Service Department released the 2020 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Hagstrom Report says the guidelines will be in place for five years. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “The theme of the guidelines is ‘Make Every Bite Count.’” In a news release, the two agencies say they didn’t deal with the most controversial recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which was a specific limit on alcoholic beverages for men and added sugar intake. The release says, “Steeped in scientific evidence, the key recommendations look similar to those of the past and address two topics that garnered much attention throughout the development of the guidelines – added sugars and alcoholic beverages.” Tom Stenzel, CEO of United Fresh, says, “Today’s reality of facing the COVID-19 pandemic brings greater urgency than ever before. No longer are we just thinking about poor diets leading to long-term chronic disease; now, we see clearly that healthy eating is a critical defense against communicable diseases such as coronavirus.” He says the Dietary Guidelines mostly repeat what we already know about healthy eating. *****************************************t***************************************************** Corn Export Inspections Rise While Soybeans and Wheat Drop Inspections of corn for export improved week-to-week, while soybeans and wheat assessments declined. The USDA says the government inspected 993,710 metric tons of corn for overseas delivery in the week ending on December 24. That’s up from the 770,000 metric tons assessed during the previous week and the 408,947 tons examined during the same week in 2019. Soybean inspections dropped to 1.45 million metric tons compared to 2.81 million tons the prior week. That’s better than the 991,801 tons inspected during the same week in 2019. Wheat inspections for offshore delivery also dropped, falling to 303,809 metric tons compared to more than 392,000 tons the prior week. It’s also below the 312,316 metric tons inspected last year at the same time. Since the start of the marketing year on September 1, the government inspected 13.7 million metric tons of corn for export. That’s well above the 8.05 million tons assessed during the same time in 2019. Soybean inspections since the first of September totaled 36.5 million metric tons, up from the 20.8 million tons examined during the same week last year. ************************************************************************************ Cattle Documentary Series Begins in January A five-part mini-documentary series on raising cattle in America begins on Sunday, January third, and a new episode will debut every Sunday night in January. The series is called “A Rare Breed: Legacies of Excellence,” and it will launch on the Certified Angus Beef Brand Cattlemen Connection YouTube channel. The new segments premiere at 6 p.m. central time on Sunday nights. Interested people can follow along as the short videos introduce registered cattle breeders, commercial cattlemen, and cattle feeders from Oregon to Texas. It’s a chance to glimpse a little of their family life and cattle philosophy, as well as get new ideas for your operations. “As we visit with some good cattlemen and women across the country, we often think ‘I wish everyone could see this or hear that,’” says Miranda Reiman, director of producer communications for the Brand. “We get to know their history, their cattle, and their drive, and we hope others will find them to be as entertaining and inspiring as we did.” To watch the series, people can follow the CAB Cattlemen Connection channels on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, or go to www.CABcattle.com. Families from Kansas, Idaho, Texas, Nebraska, and Oregon make up the January lineup. ********************************************************************************************** Brazil Crop Regions Remaining Dry into Early January Southern Brazil saw some moisture over the Christmas weekend, but drier weather is returning to the region as 2020 winds down. An Agriculture Dot Com article says the drier-than-normal conditions will stretch into Uruguay and eastern Argentina through January 3. Expected weather concerns will likely continue to put upward pressure on corn and soybean prices. A strong La Nina will remain in place and will continue in the Southern Hemisphere through next summer. During those La Nina events, the Brazilian monsoon season tends to be delayed, which can lead to suboptimal soil moisture for the country’s more important crop-growing regions. The wetter weather appears to be delayed so far. However, the influence of La Nina often decreases during the month of January as smaller-scale atmospheric processes increase their influence over the precipitation patterns in Brazil. That could lead to an increase in moisture heading into the late stages of January.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


Washington Insider Cleaner Energy Growth Politico is reporting this week that president-elect Joe Biden will enter the White House next month with a "shift already underway that's likely to generate momentum for his plan to start to wean the country off fossil fuels." "The U.S. for four years attempted to go in the opposite direction," said Mark Jones, a political science fellow at Rice University in Houston. "Where we find ourselves in 2021, is a much more stringent and demanding request for addressing climate change. Everyone views the future as renewables, not oil and natural gas." The renewable energy sector has been cheering this week about the clean energy incentives included in the omnibus Congress passed. And it's even more optimistic about the prospects under a Biden administration, given Biden's plans for a $2 trillion effort to put the country on a path toward eliminating greenhouse gases from the power grid by 2035 and for the overall economy by 2050. "The realization -- the market's realization, the financial community's realization and the customer's realization -- that we are moving toward the clean energy economy has already happened," said Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a solar trade group. "But the pace of that transition is still what's up for grabs." Biden is expected to speed the adoption of electric vehicles and boost power line transmission networks that will open up new opportunities for renewable power generators, Politico said. He's pledged to invest $400 billion in clean energy development and research over 10 years and work with states to deploy more than 500,000 new public electric vehicle charging spots by the end of 2030. Renewables are now on track to surpass coal as the largest source of electricity in the world by 2025, according to the International Energy Agency. And in the U.S., the latest outlook from the Energy Department is bullish on wind and solar, which along with hydropower and other renewables will surpass 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation next year -- about the same level as coal or nuclear power. EIA is projecting the U.S. electric power sector will add a record 23 gigawatts of new wind capacity this year -- almost double the previous record -- while utility-scale solar capacity to rise by 12.8 GW in 2020, enough to power millions of homes. There also is bad news for fossil fuels. U.S. crude oil production, which climbed to a record at more than 13 million barrels a day before the pandemic sapped fuel demand has slipped to 11 million barrels a day. Natural gas production, which has doubled since the spread of fracking began in earnest in 2005, is expected to post a modest decline amid weak prices caused by a glut of supply. Those weak prices for natural gas and crude oil, which briefly turned negative as the pandemic took hold in April, have forced 45 oil and gas companies to file for bankruptcy through the first 11 months of 2020, Politico says. The outlook for coal is even worse. The energy source that produced more than half the U.S. electricity little more than a decade ago has seen its share of the power market drop by almost a quarter recently despite administration promises to revive the industry. Valuations for coal producers have declined sharply and the leading company, Peabody Energy, is struggling to avoid its second bankruptcy filing in five years. Still, renewable energy won't supplant fossil fuels anytime soon and renewables remain a small portion of the overall energy market even with the rapid growth, said Erik Olson, climate and energy analyst at the Breakthrough Institute. "You're really seeing right now the early wave of renewables starting to reshape the power sector," he said. The dramatic fall in fuel demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the debt-laden oil and gas industry's need to shrink and companies like Exxon Mobil, which saw its market value cut by as much as half earlier this year, have been forced to lay off tens of thousands of employees and ramp down their spending as a bulwark against a flood of red ink. Now with a new White House promising to hand down stricter regulations on capturing the heat-trapping gas methane and a ban on new permits to drill on federal land, oil companies will either have to spend money to adapt or, in the case of smaller businesses that don't have the money or expertise to do so, to look for other options. Politico expects that the fossil fuel industry is preparing to "negotiate the edges off of Biden's plans or to start looking for ways to adapt to the new normal." Changes in systems as large as the energy sector tend to be slower than expected. These changes often include many trends, including those that are controversial and bitterly divisive with far-reaching implications. These are battles producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Payments at $12.96 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) effort now are at $12.96 billion as of Dec. 27. Within that amount are acreage-based payments at $6.16 billion, livestock payments at $3.39 billion, sales commodities at $2.19 billion, dairy at $1.17 billion, and eggs/broilers at $52.1 million. Iowa continues to lead all states at $1.15 billion, followed by California ($987.3 million), Nebraska ($838.5 million), Minnesota ($814.5 million), and Illinois ($789.0 million). Already attention is shifting to what is expected to be CFAP 3 as part of the latest COVID aid package

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


Court Blocks H-2A Wage Changes, Freeze Labor and farmworker groups won an injunction blocking the Department of Labor from freezing H-2A guestworkers' adverse effect wage rates (AEWRs) for 2021 and 2022. U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd issued the injunction last week, saying the plaintiffs in the suit were likely to prevail on the merits of the underlying case. The United Farm Workers and the UFW Foundation contend DOL's rule runs afoul of multiple aspects of the Administrative Procedures Act, including notice and comment requirements. The DOL ruling would freeze H-2A wages at 2020 levels and then adjust future adverse effect rates based on the generic employment cost index rather than USDA's Farm Labor Survey. An earlier ruling by Drozd issued an injunction prohibiting USDA from cancelling the Farm Labor Survey, which it had moved to do after DOL gave notice of its H-2A wage rulemaking. The latest ruling blocked the wage freeze aspect of the DOL rule saying it is likely to depress farmworker wages and cause them irreparable harm. DOL's own estimates expected the rule to reduce wages paid to H-2A guestworkers by just shy of $200 million over the next two years had it been allowed to take effect. DOL is now required to publish 2021 adverse wage rates, which are expected sometime after USDA publishes updated survey data on Feb. 11 -- a delay from its typical release date of Nov. 30 due of the logistics involved in resuming the report. The judge gave DOL and plaintiffs 14 days to submit proposed orders laying out deadlines for setting the 2021 AEWRs.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday has a light report schedule with November pending U.S. home sales due out at 9 a.m. CST, followed by the U.S. Energy Department's weekly report of energy inventories at 9:30 a.m. Traders remain interested in South America's weather and any export news that emerges. Weather A system will continue to move eastward across the northern Midwest Wednesday. The front to the system will continue to be active, producing showers from the Ohio Valley southwest to Texas as we await the formation of a new low-pressure center in Texas on Thursday. Moderate precipitation has and will continue to fill soils and provide protective snow cover in the winter wheat areas. Travel and transport hazards and impacts to feedlots are also noted.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


Trump Signs Appropriations/COVID Relief Bill After threatening to veto it earlier, President Trump signed the combined fiscal year 2021 omnibus appropriations and COVID-19 relief bill on Sunday. Pro Farmer says Trump’s signature means more aid is coming to farmers, and a 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits will take place over the next sixth months. The signing also eliminates a possible government shutdown. Trump is demanding changes in the bill, but Congress is not required to follow that direction. “I will sign the omnibus and COVID package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to get removed,” Trump says in a statement. “I will send back a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds get removed from the bill.” The bill includes extensions for tax incentives for biofuels and renewable biofuels, benefits for rural healthcare providers, and a two-year water resources authorization bill that may help speed up waterway construction projects. The bill also provides new help for contract livestock growers, hog producers who had to depopulate herds, cotton processors, biofuel producers, and the dairy industry. ********************************************************************************************** Federal Judge Rejects USDA Changes to H-2A Program A federal court in California issued a preliminary injunction against the Labor Department’s decision to freeze farm workers’ wages for those that use the H-2A Guestworker Program. Fruit and Nut Grower News says the freeze would effectively lower the wages of several hundred thousand guest farm workers employed by U.S. farmers. A preliminary injunction was issued in federal court in Fresno, California, in a lawsuit filed by the United Farm Workers and the UFW Foundation, with both groups represented by Farm worker Justice. The new regulation was to take effect on December 21 and regulate wages beginning in January. A Farmworker news release says the Labor Department estimated that H-2A guest workers would lose wages totaling $57 million in 2021, $139 million in 2022, and an average of $170 million annually over ten years. The DOL says that U.S. farm workers not under the H-2A program will also lose wages. The H-2A program has been expanding in recent years. The Labor Department approved more than 275,000 visas under the program in the fiscal year 2020. The State Department also issued more than 204,000 H-2A visas in 2019. ********************************************************************************************** Meat and Poultry Worker COVID Infection Rates Lower than General Population A new analysis of independent data for November shows that reported new COVID-19 infection rates among meat and poultry workers were more than eight times lower than the general population. Data from the Food and Environment Reporting Network says the meat and poultry sector reported an average of 5.57 new cases per 10,000 workers daily in November. Infection rates among meat and poultry workers have declined steeply in the last six months while surging across the U.S. The New York Times reports that during the same period, the average new case rate for the U.S. population was 45.36 cases per 100,000 people per day. The analysis follows a Centers for Disease Control decision this month to prioritize vaccinating frontline meat and poultry workers. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts says, “This new analysis is encouraging evidence that the more than $1.5 billion in comprehensive protections implemented since the spring have reversed the pandemic’s impact on the selfless men and women who keep America’s refrigerators full and the farm economy working throughout COVID-19.” ********************************************************************************************** Ag Export Destinations Shift Over Previous 25 Years The U.S. is the world’s second-largest agricultural trader after the European Union. U.S. agricultural exports grew significantly over the last 25 years, from $46.1 billion in 1994 to $126.7 billion in 2019. It’s no surprise that Canada and Mexico are two of the top destinations. The elimination of agricultural trade barriers through the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which was then superseded by the U.S.-Mexico- Canada Agreement in July 2020, almost quadrupled exports by value to Canada and Mexico. Coinciding policy developments, rising household incomes, and changing trade policies in developing East and Southeast Asia are driving U.S. export growth, especially for China. The Chinese share of U.S. agricultural exports more than quadrupled from three percent during 1994-2000 to 14 percent between 2010 and 2019. Meanwhile, there’s been a sharp decline in the share of American exports going to Europe and higher-income countries in East Asia, such as Japan. Of the $136.7 billion in 2019 exports, 29 percent went to East Asia and 29 percent to Mexico and Canada. *****************************************t***************************************************** Groups Praise WRDA Passage in COVID Relief Bill The fiscal year appropriations bill that President Trump signed includes a reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act. The Hagstrom Report says It funds the Army Corps of Engineers civil works program that builds and maintains the ports and inland waterways that are vital to the agriculture industry. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa says, “it’s important that Congress pass a Water Resources Development Act every two years. It helps communities move forward with projects critical for things like flood control, navigation, ports, locks and dams, and more.” Bobby Frederick of the National Grain and Feed Association says, “We view WRDA as an opportunity to enhance U.S. inland waterways and port infrastructure.” Waterways Council President and CEO Tracy Zea says, “In a difficult COVID-19 environment, passing WRDA is a significant achievement for modernizing the inland waterway systems, potentially providing more than $1 billion in additional construction funds over the next ten years.” Corn Refiners Association President John Bode says, “WRDA is a signature achievement in maintaining global competitiveness for American agricultural exports, and the millions of American jobs they support.” ************************************************************************************ EU Approves Post-Brexit Deal European Union ambassadors approved a provisional application of the E.U.-United Kingdom future relations agreement, paving the way for implementing the deal on January 1. A spokesperson for the German Presidency of the Council of the E.U. tweeted that, “E.U. Ambassadors have unanimously approved the provisional application of the E.U.-U.K. Trade and Cooperation Agreement as of January 1, 2021.” Politico says while the go-ahead from the ambassadors is an important step, official approval will likely come on Tuesday (today). Some countries like Sweden still need to consult their national parliament. Final adoption of the trade text will be done via a written procedure, which means that countries send a note of consent to the E.U. Council. Brussels and London clinched the U.K.-E.U. trade deal on December 24. The European Commission presented the treaty as an E.U.-only agreement with a limited provisional application, which means the E.U. can provisionally implement the agreement with the approval of E.U. countries, but without the consent of the European Parliament. The British Parliament has been called back for December 30 to ratify the deal, which is highly likely to pass.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts for South America and pay attention to any export news that develops. There are no official reports due out Tuesday. Weather A storm system will continue to bring moderate to locally heavy precipitation to the Plains and Midwest on Tuesday. Moderate snow is expected in a widespread area from Nebraska to Wisconsin and points northward while a zone of freezing rain is expected over Kansas and southeast Nebraska to northern Illinois. Livestock stress and transport hazards are the main threats with this system.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Food Safety News on Vilsack Nomination In a substantially supportive commentary last week, Food Safety News -- which very closely follows safety concerns at USDA -- wrote that President-elect Biden's selection of Tom Vilsack brings focus on a candidate with a proven food safety record "filled with accomplishments in spite of a ding or two." The report noted that Vilsack already is one of the longest serving cabinet members to work as Secretary of Agriculture, so the request that he serve again in that capacity opens the former USDA boss to considerable scrutiny, including his food safety record. Food safety is one of USDA's critical missions, FSN notes with its Food Safety and Inspection Service charged with providing inspections for meat and poultry processing along with production oversight for some egg and some fish products. The agency has a budget of about $1 billion a year for food safety that covers about 10,000 employees, most assigned to inspect private establishments subject to federal regulation. Before his first appointment as secretary of agriculture, Vilsack was the governor of Iowa, an office which included food safety responsibilities such as restaurant inspections. FSN is moderately critical of one Vilsack decision to allow Taylor's restaurant in Marshalltown, IA, to use a "cooking vessel" to produce Maid-Rite "loose meat" sandwiches which have been an Iowa favorite since the 1920s. The original cooking process used a vessel with a design flaw that allowed some cross-contamination. When Vilsack left the governor's office, the state withdrew the waiver and Taylor's Maid-Rite received red violations on its post-Vilsack inspections. It took the state several years to resolve that food safety situation, FSN says. However, FSN gave Vilsack mostly high marks on other decisions. For example, he helped select a USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety -- the highest-level food safety job in the federal government. Dr. Elisabeth Hagen was confirmed in that position by the U.S. Senate in August 2010 and accounted for significant accomplishments -- Vilsack certainly shares in that credit, FSN says. Most notable was Hagen's work to bring six additional strains of E. coli under USDA regulation and to require mechanically tenderized beef labeling. She also updated Salmonella performance standards for poultry and put forward the first-ever standard for Campylobacter. FSN noted that when Hagen left USDA for the private sector in December 2013, the administration did not formalize a replacement. Brian Ronholm, deputy undersecretary under Hagan, continued in that role and FSIS Administrator Al Almanza was named as a deputy undersecretary. At the time, some top FSIS managers criticized the decision not to provide a "confirmed Under Secretary for Food Safety, FSN says. But it also notes that "Vilsack was credited as being fully engaged in food safety and that he provided critical leadership for significant food safety updates." Updated included tighter regulatory requirements and enhanced consumer engagement about safe food handling practices. FSN says there also were operational changes that helped keep unsafe food out of commerce, including the implementation of advanced testing methods and a greater focus on mislabeling. In 2016, USDA issued the first-ever pathogen reduction standards for poultry parts, including chicken breasts and wings. While performance standards for whole chickens had been in place since 1996, these standards did not address the higher Salmonella levels that can occur as poultry is processed into parts commonly sold separately -- which represents 80 percent of the chicken available for purchase. Establishing this new standard for chicken parts was credited with reducing exposure to Salmonella and Campylobacter and lowering the potential for foodborne illness in the United States. In 2012, USDA required that meat and poultry companies hold all products undergoing laboratory analysis until microbial and chemical tests for harmful hazards are completed. Implementing this test and hold policy has prevented a number of recalls and reduced significantly consumer exposure to unsafe meat products. Vilsack's food safety record also includes upgraded technology and internal tracking and reporting systems, strengthening collaborations between agencies, and introducing consumer-facing tools to help protect families from foodborne illness. "People should not confuse his understated approach as having a lack of knowledge or compassion related to food safety issued," says one national food safety expert. "His previous experience at USDA will give him a significant head start and allow him to apply lessons learned from his previous tenure toward resolving critical pending issues, including the line speed." Vilsack is well regarded across much of agriculture but is less popular among several groups with increasingly important social issues -- so, there likely will be at least some excitement at his confirmation hearings -- which producers should watch closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


Northeast, Midwest Would Lose Seats in Latest Census Estimate New York would lose two congressional seats, according to population estimates released recently by the Census Bureau, making the state the biggest loser in the next apportionment if the official count comes out the same. Using the estimate to apportion the 435 seats in the House, seven states would gain congressional seats while nine states would lose them. California would lose a congressional seat for the first time in its history, according to the estimate. The other states losing seats: Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota. Texas would gain three seats and Florida two. North Carolina, Colorado, Montana, Arizona and Oregon would also gain seats. Alabama would have the slimmest margin of any state, holding onto its 7th congressional seat by about 6,000 people. Apportionment under the same estimate produced last year had Alabama losing that seat.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


Biden Team Reaches Out to Biofuels Interests The transition team for the incoming Biden administration has held calls with biofuel groups, discussing issues such as a low-carbon climate vision, according to Reuters. The conversations with biofuel trade groups, biofuels company POET, ag groups and Biden's choice to head EPA, Michael Regan, have centered mostly on boosting access to fuels with higher ethanol blends. The discussions also included the testy issue of compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Biofuel interests have expressed optimism at the incoming Biden administration in the wake of the big increase in exemptions granted by the Trump administration for small refiners relative to their RFS obligations. However, court actions have limited those exemptions and are expected to further temper them in the future.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


China Corn Imports Hit All-Time High China imported a record amount of corn in November, giving rise to optimism that prices may be getting into their longest rally since 1988. Pro Farmer says China bought 12 times more corn last month than in 2019. Customs data shows that for the first 11 months of 2020, imports more than doubled to nine million tons, passing China’s World Trade Organization commitments of 7.2 million tons for the first time in history. The surge in corn imports pushed the overall Chinese grain prices higher. An official with the Chinese ag ministry says the Southeast Asian country has boosted imports of other feed grains like barley and DDGs to help narrow the supply gap. Higher prices are likely to give farmers the incentive to increase their corn planting next year, ensuring farmers have basic self-sufficiency. China imported 1.3 million tons of corn in November, up 1,130 percent from November of 2019, while imports for the year totaled 9.04 million tons through November, up 122.7 percent from the same time last year. ********************************************************************************************** Taiwan Approves U.S. Pork Imports with Ractopamine Taiwan’s parliament approved a measure that will allow U.S. pork imports containing ractopamine, a leanness-enhancing additive. Reuters says the approval came despite objections from KMT, the main opposition party, which says it creates a health risk for the Taiwanese people. The country’s president decided in August that Taiwan would allow imports of U.S. pork with the additive, which is banned in the European Union and China, and that decision stirred up Taiwan politics. The KMT party has staged loud protests against the move, even throwing pig entrails in parliament last month to protest the approval. The government says no one in the country will be forced to eat the pork, and the move means Taiwan will bring its import policy in line with international norms. Major Taiwan companies are already saying they won’t sell pork made with ractopamine. Taiwan officials are hopeful that easing barriers to U.S. pork imports will make it easier to establish a free trade deal with America. Pork is Taiwan’s protein of choice, with the average per capita consumption around 40 kilograms. ********************************************************************************************** Holiday Ham Supplies Stretching a Bit Thin It’s the time of year when people buy a lot of holiday hams, and some pork products are getting stretched thinner. The Wall Street Journal says it’s due in part to COVID-19 precautions challenging meatpacker workforces to keep up with demand. Some meat suppliers are placing limits on how much pork supermarkets can order, leading to less variety and fewer pork promotions in the days ahead of Christmas. COVID has led to some of the larger processors like Smithfield Foods and JBS providing paid leave for workers who are considered higher risk because of pre-existing conditions or their older age demographic. Some meat companies have hired extra workers to help offset the absences. In another concession to COVID-19 worries, some of the meat plants are spacing workers farther apart, which has slowed the processing speeds in their operations. Grocery companies report that bacon, dinner sausages, and lunch meat have also been in tighter supply during the holidays. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Hog Inventory Drops One Percent As of December 1, U.S. farms contained 77.5 million hogs and pigs, down one percent from December of 2019, and down one percent from September of 2020. Those numbers were published last week by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the 77.5 million hogs and pigs, 71.2 million were market hogs, while 6.28 million were kept for breeding. Between September and November of this year, 35 million pigs were weaned on U.S. Farms, down one percent from the same period last year, while U.S. hog producers weaned an average of 11.05 pigs per litter. Hog producers intend to have 3.12 million sows farrow between December of 2020 and February 2021, and 3.12 million sows farrow between March and May of next year. Iowa producers held the largest inventory among the states at 24.8 million head. Minnesota was next with 9.4 million head, and North Carolina finished third with nine million head. To get the most accurate measurement possible of the U.S. swine industry, NASS surveyed more than 6,000 producers across the nation through the first half of December. *****************************************t***************************************************** NPPC: Anti-Meat Group Shows “True Colors” Last week, the head of an anti-meat extremist group posed as the CEO of a major pork producer during a national television interview. The National Pork Producers Council says the conversation contained “outrageous and false claims” about the U.S. pork industry and the challenges it faced during COVID-19. NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth (Rowth) had a sharp response to the interview. “Taking advantage of this black-swan event to drive an anti-meat, anti-livestock agriculture agenda is reprehensible,” Roth says. “These radical extremist groups who typically work shrouded in secrecy and false identities, frequently by breaking the law, are only able to propagate their false narrative by fooling journalists and posing as credible sources.” Despite the enormous challenges of 2020, Roth says hundreds of thousands of committed farmers and others employed in pork production remain dedicated to keeping Americans and consumers around the world supplied with affordable, nutritious protein. “COVID-19 has caused record numbers of Americans to be food insecure,” he adds. “U.S. pork producers are proud to help feed those in need, and these extremist groups should be ashamed of their stunts. Apparently, there’s no low point for their actions.” ************************************************************************************ Popular Organic Weed Killer Under Investigation Regulators in Washington, Oregon, and California issued “stop-use” orders for a popular herbicide that’s been used on a lot of organic crops. Questions are arising about whether or not Agro Gold WS contains synthetic herbicides like Glyphosate or Diquat. As more questions come up about the product, the state of Idaho is also investigating, and an Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson says the agency is “looking at it more closely.” The product isn’t labeled as a conventional herbicide, which could have endangered farmworkers. They may not have worn enough protective gear or taken enough precautions when mixing or applying the chemicals because they didn’t know what might actually be in the product. Glyphosate is the key ingredient in Roundup. The Florida-based company Agro Research International says it doesn’t add chemicals to the organic product. Their CEO tells the Northwest News Network that he’s fighting back against the investigations. He says the co-pack of two products, Agro Gold and Weed Slayer, has been working well for many years, and they “don’t use chemicals.” He says he’s not too worried about the ongoing investigations, noting that, “If an intruder comes to your house and you have the ammunition to defend yourself, you shouldn’t worry.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


Washington Insider - Implications of Brexit The New York Times is reporting this week that "it took 11 grueling months for negotiators from Britain and the European Union to hammer out the post-Brexit trade deal. But in many respects, the deal is already four and a half years out of date." The world has changed radically since June 2016, when a narrow majority of people in Britain voted to leave the EU, the Times says. The buccaneers of Brexit promised to create a "Global Britain." They envisioned an agile, independent Britain, one free to develop profitable, next-generation industries such as artificial intelligence and cut its own trade deals with the United States, China and others. It was an alluring sales pitch. That was before the anti-immigrant battles and the anti-globalist-fueled rise of President Trump and other populist leaders who erected barriers to trade. It also was before the coronavirus pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of far-flung supply chains fueling calls to bring strategic industries back home and throwing globalism into retreat. In the anxious dawn of 2021, the buccaneers seem out of fashion, the Times says. The world is now dominated by three gargantuan economic blocs—the United States, China and the European Union. Britain has finalized its divorce from one of them, leaving it isolated at a time when the path forward seems more perilous than it once did. "The whole 'Global Britain' model doesn't reflect the more protectionist, nationalistic world we're living in," said Thomas Wright, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. "Becoming a global free trader in 2016 is a bit like turning into a communist in 1989. It's bad timing." As Prime Minister Boris Johnson leads Britain into a post-Brexit future, he also risks being out of step politically. The Brexit agreement with the EU comes at the very moment that President-elect Joseph Biden is replacing Trump's "America First" credo with a message of mending alliances and collaborating to tackle issues such as global health and climate change. While the Brexit deal averts tariffs and quotas on goods crossing the English Channel, it is at heart about disentangling neighbors who had become deeply integrated over four decades. That estrangement, analysts say, is bound to weaken ties between the two sides in other areas, such as security and diplomacy. "Biden wants to see alliances and multilateralism and cooperation and Brexit runs completely against that," said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at the Eurasia Group. Trump cheered Britain's drive to sever itself from the European Union and promised to negotiate a trade agreement with Johnson, whom he cultivated personally. But Biden opposed Brexit and has ruled out negotiating new trade agreements until the United States improves its own competitive position. That nullifies one of the prime selling points of Brexit. Johnson has pivoted by highlighting other ways that Britain can work with the United States such as reinforcing NATO and playing host at a UN climate summit next year. Britain has also promoted itself as a champion of democratic values in places like Hong Kong, but in a less hospitable world, it may not find many allies for that kind of work. "Who are the obvious partners for them?" Wright said. "Four years ago, they could have said Brazil, but Brazil is now run by a populist." There also are limits to how muscular a partner Britain can be in the confrontation with autocratic states like China and Russia. Britain once hoped its free-agent status would allow a thriving commercial relationship with Beijing. But under pressure from Trump on the role of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in 5G networks, Britain has largely abandoned its cultivation of China, falling in line with the United States' more antagonistic position. The pandemic has forced Brussels to reconsider policies it once shunned, the Times says. Liberating itself from the constraints of Brussels had been one of the biggest attractions of Brexit. Instead, Britain faces a much larger competitor that seems bent, like Britain itself, on transforming its economies with digital and "green" technology -- and more open to using state aid to do so. Another irony of Brexit is that Europe, alienated by Trump's unilateral policies, has begun echoing some of the language used by Brexiteers in 2016. President Emmanuel Macron of France and others have spoken of the need for "European sovereignty" in the face of a less reliable United States. Mr. Johnson made reclaiming British sovereignty the leitmotif of his negotiations with Brussels. Britain's independence also allows it the chance to be experimental in its relations with other countries. Mr. Wright, for example, said the Biden administration might be interested in negotiating a different kind of economic understanding with Britain than an old-fashioned free trade agreement. Nevertheless, "the world of June 2016 is not the world of today," Wright said. "They know that as well, deep down." Clearly, the evolving Biden policies for trade will be complex and important and should be watched closely by producers as they evolve, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


Ham, Some Pork Product Supplies Being Stretched By COVID Supplies of holiday hams and some pork products are being stretched as COVID-19 precautions challenge meatpackers' workforces, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Some meat suppliers are placing limits on how much pork supermarkets can order, grocers said, leading to less variety and fewer pork promotions ahead of Christmas. The pandemic has prompted some major processors, including Smithfield Foods Inc. and JBS USA Holdings, to provide paid leave for workers considered higher risk due to their older age or pre-existing conditions, the companies have said. Some meat companies have made additional hires to offset higher-risk workers' absences. To space workers farther apart, some meat plants have slowed processing speeds. Bacon, dinner sausages and lunch meat have also been in tight supply, grocery companies said.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


Taiwan Clears US Pork Produced With Ractopamine Taiwan's parliament approved the import of pork from hogs produced using the feed additive ractopamine, despite efforts to halt the action by the main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT). KMT lawmakers denounced the action, declaring that U.S. pork produced with the feed additive was "poison." The Taiwanese government has taken the position that no one will be forced to eat the pork and the action will bring Taiwan in line with international norms. There are a mix of countries that allow and those that ban imports of pork from hogs raised on ractopamine. Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters the government would protect the health of citizens. The action is also seen as an effort by Taiwan to secure a free trade deal with the U.S. which has complained about Taiwan's ban on pork produced with ractopamine.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets There are no official economic reports for Monday December 28. Traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts, especially for South America and any export news that develops, especially with China. U.S. grain futures resume trading Sunday evening at 7 p.m. CST, Dec. 27. Weather A system developing in the Four Corners region will start to produce showers into the central and Southern Plains later in the day, including snow from Colorado to Nebraska which could be moderate as we head into Tuesday. Moderate rain showers will develop further south. All precipitation will boost soil moisture, which remains below normal for much of the region.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 24, 2020 |


Trump May Not Sign the Stimulus Bill Tuesday night, President Trump asked Congress to make some changes to the newly passed $900 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress on Monday. The Washington Post says he describes it as “a disgrace” and suggested he wouldn’t immediately sign off on it without some changes. In a Twitter video, the president calls on Congress to increase the “ridiculously-low” $600 stimulus checks to $2,000. He also outlines a list of provisions in the overall package that he calls “wasteful spending and much more.” He’s asking Congress to “send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package, and maybe that administration will be me.” If he doesn’t sign the bill, the government shuts down on December 29, the aid money is frozen, and even the two Senate seats up for grabs in Georgia could be upended. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that Democrats will move quickly to advance the $2,000 stimulus checks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he supports the idea of larger stimulus checks and blamed Senate Republicans for preventing them from being included in the bill. ********************************************************************************************** Poultry Industry Facing a Tough Year in 2021 Like many sectors of agriculture in 2020, COVID-19 caused a big disruption to the poultry industry. Unfortunately, RaboResearch says the global poultry industry will face even more challenges in 2021, especially in the first half of the year. That’s according to new data in the RaboResearch 2021 Poultry Quarterly. COVID-19 will place continuing pressure on foodservice and trade, and the consequent slow economic growth will lead to more price-driven market conditions. As those market fundamentals appear challenging for 2021, a RaboResearch report says the poultry industry should prepare for a tough year. “Looking forward, we see four main challenges for the global poultry industry,” says Nan-Dirk Mulder, senior animal protein analyst with Rabobank and the lead author of the report. “The challenges include ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on the markets, high and volatile feed prices, China’s African Swine Fever recovery, and the northern hemisphere avian influenza crisis.” Falling demand in China and Vietnam will push traders to find other markets and depress global markets during the first half of 2021. Better control of COVID-19 should lead to a gradual recovery of foodservice markets later next year. ********************************************************************************************** Grassley Wants Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Permanent December 22 was the third anniversary of President Trump signing the Tax Cuts and Job Act. Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley is asking President-elect Joe Biden to commit to making permanent many of those tax provisions that helped create the strongest economy in generations and are helping to rebuild the economy while Americans get back to work after COVID-19. “President-elect Biden ran on rebuilding the nation’s economy that’s been devastated by COVID-19,” he says. “Families, small businesses, and the American economy can’t recover, rehire, or grow to their full potential with higher taxes on the horizon. It’s now Biden’s responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen on his watch.” Grassley wants to see the lower, more affordable temporary tax rates become permanent in 2021. He says Congress just made permanent several temporary tax policies and provided certainty for businesses to grow and hire. “Many of the temporary provisions expire during the next administration,” Grassley adds. “Higher taxes would only make things worse. U.S. businesses of all sizes, including farms, should know they won’t face a historic tax hike, so they’ll have the certainty they need to rehire and reinvest in their workforce.” ********************************************************************************************** Commodity Classic is Coming Straight to the Farm in March Like a lot of other agricultural events, the Commodity Classic will be going virtual in 2021. Due to the restrictions brought on by COVID-19, America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience will be coming right to farms across the country in a digital format March 2-5, 2021. Commodity Classic organizers say, “While we’re all disappointed that we won’t be together in San Antonio this year, the 2021 Special Edition will continue to provide the education and experiences you’ve come to expect from the Commodity Classic.” Those events include educational sessions, the top thought leaders in agriculture, new technology and innovations, online networking opportunities with fellow farmers, and much more. Interested people can keep up with updates regarding registration, the schedule, speakers, and educational sessions by signing up for email updates at www.commodityclassic.com. The Commodity Classic, established in 1996, is a joint presentation of the American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Growers, and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The 2022 edition will move to New Orleans, Louisiana, March 10-12. ********************************************************************************************** IBM to Help USDA Modernize Conservation Program IBM says it’s one of the five businesses selected by the USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation Mission Area to provide support for USDA’s digital modernization efforts. Four other businesses were also selected to receive large business awards, with the combined worth of those five awards at $620 million paid out for work that’ll be completed over the next five years. More than 30 vendors competed for the five awards. IBM will help work with the Mission Area to help modernize legacy applications that support the conservation programs administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency. “Technology has incredible potential to transform the way governments serve citizens and accomplish critical missions,” says Jay Bellissimo, General Manager of IBM’s U.S. Public Sector and Federal Market. “Our team is ready to modernize applications to help FPAC deliver modernized systems that assist the conservationists in helping farmers and ranchers reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damage caused by natural disasters.” The award is a part of the more than 90-year working history between IBM and USDA. The two have worked on other projects with FPAC, as well as the forest service, the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Agricultural Marketing Service. *****************************************t***************************************************** John Deere, FFA Partner to Build Next Generation of Leadership For 77 years, John Deere and the National FFA Organization have worked to find the next generation of leaders and strengthen the agriculture industry. 2020 is a year that’s come with many challenges, but John Deere says its commitment to both FFA and agricultural education is stronger than ever. Building on a legacy of support, John Deere says it will donate one million dollars in 2021 to help support the National FFA Organization’s mission to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. “Throughout the years, John Deere has shown their continuing commitment to FFA and our goal of building the next generation of leaders,” says Molly Ball, President of the National FFA Foundation and the chief marketing officer for National FFA. “In today’s climate, every dollar is being stretched. The fact that they find value in our members and our commitment to students and educators speaks volumes.” Aaron Wetzel, John Deere’s Vice President of Production Systems, says, “We believe FFA is as important to the future of agriculture as any cutting-edge machine, technology, or service that we will deliver.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 24, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Sparks Over Ag The New York Times is reporting this week that the politics of U.S. agriculture are as complicated as ever — and that despite President-elect Joe Biden's victory, Democrats were again defeated resoundingly in rural America. This month, Biden nominated Tom Vilsack tapping him to reprise the role of agriculture secretary that he held for eight years in the Obama administration. But the pushback against Vilsack has been fierce, laying bare divisions within the Democratic Party and "resistance to corporate influence that is simmering among progressives," the Times said. If confirmed, Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, will retake the helm of the Agriculture Department at a time when America's farmers have been battered by trade wars and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. He also faces challenges from progressive and environmental groups who warn that he is too friendly with big industrial agriculture businesses. Farm states have been a stronghold for Republicans over the past decade and — despite frustration by some over Trump trade policies — the president still dominated rural areas in 2020. (Editor's Note: Questions asked as part of the recent DTN Agriculture Confidence Index showed more than 60% of farmers voted for Trump, with another quarter of farmers surveyed choosing to not answer that question. Only 11.8% of those surveyed said they voted for Biden.) Eager to make inroads in rural America, some Democrats fear that Vilsack is not the ideal ambassador, especially since he recently earned $1 million a year as a lobbyist for the dairy industry. Environmental and agricultural policy groups see him as too cozy with "Big Ag," pointing to the rapid consolidation in the farm sector that occurred under his watch when companies such as Monsanto and Bayer merged. Food safety and labor advocates also criticize his decisions as secretary to allow significant increases in slaughter line speeds in poultry plants along with a revamp of the chicken inspection process to allow meatpacking employees to perform some duties previously carried out by government inspectors. Food and Water Watch, a consumer and environmental watchdog group, said it opposes Vilsack's nomination. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said "I think he'll fold under pressure from the ag lobby, the subsidy lobby and big agriculture." EWG is a nonpartisan organization that is critical of industrial agriculture. While many farm groups such as the National Farmers Union and Feeding America have expressed support for his nomination, some farmers are wary that the Biden administration could herald new and onerous regulations. Vilsack has faced criticism for the fading fortunes of Black farmers who have long complained of discrimination when it comes to land and credit access. Vilsack was at the center of a racial firestorm when in 2010 he hastily fired Shirley Sherrod, a Black USDA official, after a conservative blogger released a misleading video clip that appeared to show her admitting antipathy toward a white farmer. He later apologized and tried to rehire her. "Because of the experience of the pandemic, there are different expectations for the secretary of agriculture than there were during Vilsack's prior service," said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents poultry workers at plants across the South. "There must be heightened priority given to the safety and needs of the workers who produce our food supply as well as all to those Americans who face food insecurity." Early in the Obama administration, Vilsack vowed to address the struggles of smaller farms and to help lift the broader rural economy. At the time, Charles Grassley, a fellow Iowan and powerful Republican senator, praised Vilsack's efforts, which he thought were "badly needed." In the end, Vilsack and the Justice Department did not mount an antitrust effort. Sen. Grassley has expressed support for Vilsack's nomination. "The next couple of years the priority will be getting the economy on its feet," said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents thousands of meatpacking workers and has expressed support for Vilsack's nomination. Vilsack has frequently made clear his opposition to policies that would break up corporate agriculture conglomerates. "There are a substantial number of people hired and employed by those businesses here in Iowa," Vilsack said. "Telling those folks, 'you might be out of a job,' is not a winning message." Vilsack is expected to be a sharp contrast with the current ag secretary who was criticized within the department for sidelining career staff and politicizing research by moving the agency's economic research unit from Washington to Kansas City, Mo., leading to a wave of departures and stalling its work. To those who have worked with Vilsack, the notion that he is merely an ally of industrial farming is seen as unfair, said Anne McMillan, the former USDA deputy chief of staff. She argued that her onetime boss was always mindful of the plight of small farmers but that he needed to also look out for the broader industry. "His job required him to advance rural America and the ag industry and feed people," she said. "You can't not engage with the entire spectrum." So, we will see. Vilsack generally got high markets from the sector during his previous terms, and many expect that to happen again — although a number of key issues have sharpened significantly over the past few years and the job may actually be tougher these days — trends producers should watch closely if they appear, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 24, 2020 |


RFS Exemption Requests Rise Data released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed another increase in small refinery exemptions (SREs) for blending requirements relative to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). After remaining static for several months, there are now a total of 20 SREs that have been requested for the 2011-2018 compliance years, an increase of three from the November data. EPA also now shows that a total of 46 SREs have been requested for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years combined, 32 for the 2019 compliance year and 14 for the 2020 compliance year.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 24, 2020 |


US To Lower Tariffs On Moroccan Fertilizer Maker OCP The U.S. Department of Commerce reduced the subsidy rate that Moroccan fertilizer manufacturer OCP would face on phosphate exports to the U.S., lowering it to 16.88% from 23.46%, according to a memo from the agency. "On November 30, 2020, we received timely ministerial error allegations that Commerce made significant ministerial errors in the Preliminary Determination with respect to OCP's subsidy rate," the document says. "As a result, we have amended the OCP's Group preliminarily ad valorem rate." However, Commerce noted that it disagreed with other contentions made by OCP in the information they provided to Commerce.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


New COVID-19 Package Helps Farmers Food and agriculture groups welcome the new COVID-19 relief package. Congress this week agreed on a $900 billion stimulus package, which includes up to $13 billion that directly benefits agriculture. Nearly $1 billion will support a dairy donation program and supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage payments. More help is available to specialty and non-specialty crop growers, and the Paycheck Protection Program will be expanded. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “We’re pleased that Congress understands the toll the pandemic continues to take on farmers.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew states, “The fact that a stimulus package has, at long last, been passed is certainly a relief.” And, National Corn Growers Association President John Linder says the assistance “will go a long way in providing the certainty” farmers need to recover from the coronavirus. Finally, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern says, “We thank Congress for its leadership, and we look forward to working with USDA in implementing this legislation.” ************************************************************************************ Roberts’ Priorities Included in Senate-Passed Omnibus Legislation Retiring Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says the omnibus appropriations and COVID-19 bills reflect his priorities. Speaking of the two pieces of legislation, the Kansas Republican says, “I’m proud to cast one of my final votes in the Senate on behalf of America’s farmers, ranchers, and growers.” The legislation includes approximately $26 billion for pandemic-related agriculture and nutrition programs. Provisions in the legislation Roberts advocated for include the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Act of 2019, directing the facility to carry out parts of the National Biodefense Strategy. The legislation also includes the Securing All Livestock Equitably Act of 2020, which establishes a livestock dealer trust to benefit unpaid sellers of livestock. Additionally, the legislation includes funds for meat processors to upgrade plants for interstate shipment of products, the Paycheck Protection Program expenses deducibility, and simplifies the loan forgiveness process for PPP loans up to $150,000. The legislation also provides $11.19 billion for pandemic-related assistance to support agricultural producers. ************************************************************************************ Grassley Praises Approval of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley praised the passage of the Water Resources Development Act, included in the year-end funding bill. The legislation, known as WRDA, addresses the civil works program of the Army Corps of Engineers. The bill is critical for flood control, navigation, ports, locks, dams, and other water resources infrastructure. Grassley says the legislation "will help communities move forward with projects critical for flood control, navigation, ports, locks and dams and other water resources infrastructure." Grassley and others advocated for several provisions that were incorporated in the final bill, including the Inland Waterway Trust Fund Cost Share Program. This cost-share modification will help the modernization of the locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River to move forward at a faster rate as they start the construction phase of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program. The final bill also includes expanding work on a Lower Missouri River Basin Flood Risk Resiliency Plan. ************************************************************************************ China 2020 Soybean imports to Reach Record China’s soybean imports are expected record-high, according to Reuters. The nation is expected to import more than 100 million metric tons of soybeans in 2020, as the nation looks to rebuild its hog herd, boosting demand for protein. An executive with China’s state-owned grains trader COFCO told Reuters the country is expected to crush 92.6 million metric tons of soybeans this year. The record follows declines in demand stemming from African swine fever, which decimated China’s hog population. Chinese officials claim the country’s hog herd has recovered to more than 90 percent of normal levels, though that data has some analysts skeptical. Still, China expects the demand for protein, specifically soybeans for animal feed, to remain strong into the first quarter of 2021. For 2020, demand for soybean oil is expected to increase by more than six percent, as well, thanks to increasing use of the oil in biodiesel and animal feed. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Applauds Canada’s Clean Fuel Standard Last week, Canada published its nationwide Clean Fuel Standard draft regulation. The regulation is an initiative to reduce the lifecycle carbon intensity of fuels and energy used in Canada and achieve more than 20 million tons of annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The Canadian Clean Fuel Standard regulatory scenario has modeled compliance to include an average 15 percent ethanol in gasoline by 2030. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the standard continues to push the benefits of biofuels in North America, stating, “Canada continues to be a trailblazer in addressing climate change and cutting greenhouse gases through biofuels.” Earlier this month, Growth Energy and Advanced Biofuels Canada co-hosted two webinars for Canadian stakeholders outlining the benefits and potential of E15 as Canada looks to higher biofuel blends. Canada is currently the United States’ number one foreign customer for U.S. producers and a strong partner in promoting biofuels as a means to reduce greenhouse gases. ************************************************************************************ NASDA, NPPC, Applaud USDA Steps to Modernize Animal Biotech Regulations Livestock and agriculture welcome the recent proposal to shift animal biotech regulations from the Food and Drug Administration to the Department of Agriculture. USDA announced this week a proposal to move the regulatory framework to the agency. In a statement, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture says, “Using the law as intended by Congress to bring order and efficiency to our current process welcomes innovation and enables our regulatory system to keep pace with science.” The National Pork Producers Council calls the announcement a “big step forward for America's farmers.” NPPC claims that FDA regulation of gene editing would result in an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process. However, the organization counters, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service already has a review process in place for gene editing in plants, which can serve as a model for livestock. USDA's rulemaking has a 60-day comment period. NASDA and NPPC have pledged to submit comments to the proposal.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


Washington Insider: US Leverage Over Beijing Bloomberg is reporting this week that President-elect Joe Biden will take office after the Trump administration spent years ramping up pressure on China, including $370 billion in tariffs, getting Canada to place a Chinese executive for Huawei Technologies Co. under house arrest, threatening access to U.S. capital markets and blaming the Communist Party for the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak. The President's pressure campaign continued last week, as the administration blacklisted more than 60 Chinese companies, limiting their ability to get U.S. technology, in order "to protect national security," the Commerce Department said. In addition, Beijing's recent behavior turned some nations that might have otherwise tried to straddle U.S.-China tensions more firmly against Chinese President Xi's government by asserting territorial claims in the South China Sea and in strategic areas like its border with India, as well as using economic coercion against countries like South Korea and Australia. "Trump's broad trade sanctions against China coupled with pushback from other countries against China's aggressive geopolitical diplomacy will give the Biden administration substantial leverage when it commences bilateral negotiations," said Eswar Prasad, who formerly worked on China issues at the International Monetary Fund. While Biden and many Democrats say they oppose the tactics Trump used to pressure China, those tools will remain on the table as his successor seeks to negotiate with leaders of the world's second largest economy. "I'm not going to make any immediate moves and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said in recent interviews. Despite public misgivings about Trump's strategy toward Beijing, countries such as Britain and France have fallen into line behind the U.S. over the threat posed by Huawei to next-generation wireless networks. Western institutions such as the "Five Eyes" spy alliance and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have turned their attention to combating threats from China. As the European Union and China aim to complete negotiations over an investment agreement, western countries raised concerns over allegations of forced labor in China's far western region of Xinjiang. The European Parliament backed a proposal that the deal "must include adequate commitments to respect international conventions against forced labor," Reinhard Buetikofer, a German Green party member of the European Parliament who chairs the delegation for relations with China, said on Monday. "European Commission should take that seriously!" "China's expectation for the Biden administration is to re-set China-U.S. relations aimed at re-engagement and mutual benefit," said Gao Zhikai, a former Chinese diplomat and translator for late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. "Poisoned China-U.S. relations need to be disinfected and both China and America need to be made winners, not losers." America's global reputation has suffered under Trump, Bloomberg said, and U.S. allies are unsure it can be trusted in the longer term. And as much as Trump's tactics have exhausted officials in Beijing, they have done little to change their policies. Xi's government has accelerated its efforts to rein in independent voices in Hong Kong and to bolster its outposts in the South China Sea and along its frontier. It has seen America's failure to tame the pandemic as evidence that the U.S. is already past its prime. Even if Biden succeeds in changing such perceptions, negotiations with China will probably be every bit as tortuous and drawn-out as those that took place under Trump, who never got the comprehensive trade deal with China that he promised to achieve when taking office in 2017. "I don't get the sense that China's leaders are under such stress that they're willing to tolerate significant concessions to remove unilateral U.S. pressure," said Ryan Hass, who previously oversaw China affairs at the National Security Council. The U.S.-China relationship has changed markedly since the president-elect was last in the White House in early 2017 and China's rapidly growing military prowess has given it more confidence to project power in the Asia Pacific, solidifying its hold on tiny South China Sea outposts despite protests from regional neighbors. To China's benefit, the Biden administration may also be more cautious about using some of the tools at its disposal in the future. While current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin eventually designated China a currency manipulator, Biden's nominee for that post -- former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen -- as indicated reticence about using that lever to win concessions. One of the biggest risks is that Biden finds himself distracted on the domestic front even as vaccine distribution expands. Unless Washington can get its house in order after a polarizing election and rebuild trust with allies abroad, any advantage Washington has over Beijing could remain largely theoretical, Bloomberg said. "There's potential for the Biden administration to build leverage but doing so will depend upon whether they are able to build consensus at home on top priorities, consensus with allies and partners on China," said former National Security Council staffer Hass, now a fellow at the Brookings Institution. The new administration's challenges in rebuilding the domestic economy remain very large. It also has strong challenges in proposed trade policies, all very important policy designs that producers should watch closely as these debates proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


Biofuel Producers Could Get COVID Payments from USDA The COVID aid approved by Congress contains several wind and solar energy provisions but also potential aid for biofuel producers is tucked in the legislation. Biofuel producers have been seeking aid as Congress worked on the CARES Act. However, unlike some of the other provisions in the COVID aid effort, USDA is not ordered to make payments to biofuel producers. A summary of the legislation noted USDA "may make payments to producers of advanced biofuel, biomass-based diesel, cellulosic biofuel, conventional biofuel, or renewable fuels with market losses due to COVID-19."

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


USDA Moves To Bring GMO Animals Under Its Umbrella USDA announced it will move forward with an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit public input on a proposal to bring the regulation of animal biotechnology under USDA. USDA's plan would move some of FDA's current animal biotechnology oversight to USDA, with the ag agency consulting with FDA on that front. USDA said the notice will propose "a flexible, forward-looking, risk-proportionate and science-based regulatory framework that provides a predictable pathway to commercialization and keeps pace with advances in science and technology for certain farm animals (cattle, sheep, goats, swine, horses, mules, or other equines, catfish, and poultry) developed using genetic engineering intended for agricultural purposes." Office of Management and Budget finished the review of USDA's prerule on the matter December 18. This appears to put to rest what is said to have been a tug of war between USDA and FDA over animal biotech regulation

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets A flood of reports are set for Wednesday, one day before Christmas Eve. Starting at 7:30 a.m. CST, we will see USDA's weekly export sales, weekly U.S. jobless claims, U.S. personal income and U.S. durable goods orders. A consumer sentiment index plus November new home sales will both be out a 9 a.m., followed by USDA's quarterly hog and pigs report at 2 p.m. CST. Weather Snow, low temperatures and strong winds will cover much of the western Midwest and portions of the Northern and central Plains Wednesday, including blizzard conditions. Travel and safety hazards are widespread along with livestock stress. Dry conditions are in store elsewhere, but strong winds in the remainder of the Plains and Midwest are unfavorable for winter wheat. Stressful cold will continue moving through the north-central U.S. through the Christmas holiday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


Peterson Welcomes Food and Ag Provisions of COVID Relief House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson Monday announced the food and agriculture provision in this week’s COVID-19 relief package. In addition to a 15 percent increase in benefits for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for six months, Peterson pointed specifically to the inclusion of support for those who were left out earlier assistance. Those include contract livestock and poultry growers, ethanol producers that saw a drop in demand, and livestock and poultry producers who had to depopulate herds and flocks because of supply chain disruptions. The bill also contains assistance for dairy farmers, funding for small and mid-sized livestock processors to attain federal inspection to accommodate increased demand, and animal health work and grants to state departments for ongoing farm stress programs. The outgoing Democrat, Peterson, says, "This bill isn't perfect, but it reflects a compromise and goes a long way toward getting us through this hard time and back to normal.” ************************************************************************************ Secretary Perdue Proposes Transfer of Animal Biotech Regulatory Framework to USDA Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Monday announced a proposal to modernize regulations of agricultural animals modified or produced by genetic engineering. The Department of Agriculture will move forward with the rulemaking plan to move the regulatory framework to USDA. Perdue says the initiative follows President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on agricultural biotechnology that called upon federal agencies to make regulatory improvements to rectify long-standing barriers to innovation for U.S. agriculture. In a statement, the Secretary says, "If we do not put these safe biotechnology advances to work here at home, our competitors in other nations will." Perdue adds USDA is outlining a pragmatic, science-based, and risk-based approach that focuses on potential risks to animal and livestock health, the environment, and food safety. USDA's proposal would cover molecular characterization, animal health efficacy, environmental considerations, food safety evaluation, and food storage and processing. USDA’s proposal would also provide end-to-end regulatory oversight from pre-market reviews through post-market food safety monitoring of animals. ************************************************************************************ Biden Announces White House Climate Team President-elect Joe Biden recently announced his White House climate team. With climate change a top focus of the incoming administration, the team will play an influential role on policy. The team is led by Gina McCarthy, the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, who will serve as National Climate Advisor. Ali Zaidi (Zay-dee) was named deputy national climate advisory. Zaidi currently serves New York in a top energy and environment post. Also, on the climate team is Deb Haaland as the Biden Interior Secretary, and Jennifer Granholm, nominated as Biden's Energy Secretary. Biden EPA Administration pick Michael Regan joins the team and Brenda Mallory, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. In a weekend speech, Biden stated, “We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.” Incoming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is not part of the climate team, but is seen as a key player for the administration's climate goals. ************************************************************************************ Meat, Poultry, Farm Workers High Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine Federal guidance suggests essential workers should be next to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including meat packers and farmworkers. A Centers for Disease Control advisory committee voted in favor of a blueprint for essential workers and people over 75 as recipients of the vaccine in the next phase. In a news release, North American Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts says, “Priority access to vaccines is a critical step for the long-term safety of the selfless frontline meat and poultry workers who have kept America's refrigerators full and our farm economy working.” She says $1.5 billion in COVID-19 preventions and supports implemented since the earliest days of the pandemic have reversed COVID-19's impact on meat and poultry workers. Potts adds Meat Institute members stand ready to support vaccination for a diverse workforce, which will also deliver wide-ranging health benefits in rural and high-risk communities. Food and agriculture workers are considered essential workers, along with energy, trade, retail and others. ************************************************************************************ USDA Receives Delivery of First Significant FMD Vaccine Bank Purchase Earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture announced the first significant purchase for its Foot-and-Mouth vaccine bank. This month, the purchase worth $27 million was delivered. The establishment of a robust FMD vaccine bank has been a top, long-term priority for the National Pork Producers Council, which was instrumental in advocating for its establishment as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Currently, USDA, which has prescribed vaccination for dealing with an FMD outbreak, does not have access to enough vaccine should an outbreak occur. FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep, it is not a food safety or human health threat. The disease is endemic in many parts of the world and would have widespread, long-term fallout for livestock and crop agriculture, including the immediate loss of export markets. NPPC says the organization “looks forward” to continuing to work with the agency to ensure the FMD vaccine bank is adequately stocked. ************************************************************************************ Deere Partners FFA to Build the Next Generation of Leaders John Deere announced a $1 million donation this week to the National FFA Organization. The donation, scheduled for 2021, will support FFA’s mission through developing leadership skills, personal growth, and career success. Since John Deere’s initial contribution of $1,000 in 1943, it has donated more than $16 million to the National FFA Foundation. John Deere was also one of the first corporate sponsors to form an FFA Alumni and Supporters Chapter. Today, employees from John Deere facilities across the U.S. volunteer to coach, mentor and train FFA chapters. National FFA Foundation President Molly Ball says, “We are more than pleased to continue partnering with John Deere as we continue to provide programming that will enable the future of agricultural education and FFA.” John Deere Vice President of Production Systems Aaron Wetzel stated, “At John Deere, we believe FFA is as important to the future of agriculture as any cutting-edge machine, technology or service that we will deliver.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Virus Surge Hammers UK, EU Trade Bloomberg and others reported over the weekend that the United Kingdom “confronted threats of food insecurity and panicked shopping days before Christmas as European nations restricted trade and travel to guard against a resurgent coronavirus.” The report said the development offered a “preview of the border chaos to come in the absence of a Brexit deal.” Fearing a fast-spreading new strain of the virus that forced a strict lockdown across England, France on Sunday suspended travel from the UK for 48 hours and wants a stricter testing regime before lifting the blockade. Germany and Italy halted arriving flights from Britain with Spain and Portugal following suit. The crisis gave renewed urgency to negotiations for a trade deal with the European Union that remained at a critical stage after weekend talks. Late Sunday, the Port of Dover stopped freight moved by truck into France. Traffic into the UK was unaffected, though truckers often run supplies in both directions and the latest outbreak in the heart of England may discourage them from entering the island. The disruptions are exposing Britain's trade vulnerabilities just as a 4-1/2-year odyssey to leave the EU moves from political rhetoric to economic reality. Business groups facing catastrophic losses urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government to act quickly, with the 18,000-member Logistics UK calling for rapid COVID-19 testing of truckers departing the country as the quickest way of protecting supply chains. The group said there are more than 100 trucks carrying seafood due to cross the border into the EU, bound for Christmas wholesale markets in France and Spain. Fears are growing that live shellfish will spoil if they're held up at the border. French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said European nations are working on “a solid health protocol” to be implemented “in the coming hours.” Container ports and ferry terminals were already congested because of stockpiling ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline marking a final break from the European single market. However, a meeting of the EU's crisis response experts in Brussels on Monday ended without reaching a decision on how to proceed regarding UK travel, Bloomberg said. Some members of the group called for an urgent discussion at political levels to resolve the issue. In the UK, officials sought to downplay the urgency of the situation. Jamie Davies, the prime minister's spokesman, urged Britons not to panic-buy groceries and said “we have resilient supply chains and it is the case that the majority of our food doesn't come in through the short straits.” Asked about virus vaccines, Davies also said the UK already has “the majority of this year's supply” from Pfizer Inc. The border chaos comes at the end of a year that's seen Johnson nearly die from the virus and come under heavy criticism over his policy responses, which left the UK with a death toll second only to Italy in Europe and the worst hit to output of any major economy. British supermarket chain J Sainsbury Plc said it is considering using air freight for products sourced from Europe. The firm expects to begin to see “gaps” in the coming days sourcing some fruits and vegetables, said Victoria Durman, head of corporate communications. Outside Dover, trucks began lining up on the M20 motorway as the “Operation Stack” emergency plan was triggered with drivers unable to board ferries. The Department for Transport was also preparing Manston airport in Kent, which is being overhauled to accommodate as many as 4,000 vehicles as part of Britain's no-deal planning, according to the local government's website. UK travel, leisure and retail shares slumped on Monday as flights were canceled, while stay-at-home stocks, like Ocado Group Plc, got a boost. Airlines were among the worst hit, with British Airways parent IAG SA falling as much as 20% and Easyjet Plc down as much as 18%. The economic drag of tougher restrictions and trade turmoil will only deepen the hole the country is in, unleashing more damage stretching from mom-and-pop retailers to already struggling European airlines, Bloomberg said. Then there is the political fallout. Johnson abruptly scrapped plans to allow families to mix over the holidays as the government warned over the weekend that the new strain of the virus is “out of control.” There was chaos at train stations with people defying social-distancing rules to get out of the capital. More than 16 million Britons are now required to stay at home, mainly in London and southeast England. The measures ban household mixing in the capital and the southeast, and allow households to see each other “just on Christmas Day” across the rest of England. So, we will see. It seems now that the mutations of the virus have not reduced the effectiveness of the vaccines that are being mobilized, but certainly concerns regarding potential impacts have locked up travel and trade in several areas. These are trends and impacts producers should watch closely as they intensify and complicate anti-virus efforts worldwide, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


Food, Ag Workers Next In Line For Vaccines Food and agricultural workers will join people 75 and over in the next group to get vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic after health care workers and nursing home residents. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 13-1 in favor of the plan put forth by an ACIP work group, which puts the nation's approximately 30 million frontline essential workers and 19 million persons aged 75 and over in Phase 1B. “Grocery store workers” and those in “food and agriculture” and “manufacturing” also are specifically listed in the second phase.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


Sen. Portman Backs Nomination of Tai To Be USTR Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is one of the first Republicans to publicly endorse the nomination of Katherine Tai to be the U.S. Trade Representative, calling her experience as the top House Ways and Means trade lawyer good background for the Cabinet post. “I'm glad that Katherine Tai is the likely nominee,” Portman said during a discussion with other former USTRs hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I think that will help in terms of moving a trade agenda forward vis-a-vis Congress because she, obviously, knows how we operate, understands (trade promotion authority) well.” Portman served as USTR under the George W Bush administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Early Tuesday features reports on Gross Domestic product, consumer confidence and existing home sales. We will also be watching updated forecasts for Brazil and Argentina, and any new China business that may be announced. Weather Tuesday features mostly dry, warm and windy conditions over the central U.S. The northwest will have a wintry pattern with cold, snow and strong winds. Northern and central areas are in line for much colder conditions with high winds and northern snow Wednesday, including blizzard potential in the northern Plains and northern Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


CoBank: 2021 Year Ahead Report on U.S. Rural Economy The speed of the economic recovery will largely hinge on the availability, dissemination, and reach of COVID-19 vaccines, pushing a pent-up consumer demand to later in 2021. That’s according to a comprehensive year-ahead outlook report just issued from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “The coming year will be a recovery year for most Americans and the businesses that make up the U.S. economy,” says Dan Kowalski, vice president of the Knowledge Exchange Division. “The early part of the year should look very different than the latter, but in total, economic growth should be about four percent, following a retreat of roughly four percent in 2020.” The report lists several key factors that will shape agriculture and market sectors that serve rural communities. The largest factor is COVID-19, which will steer the global economy into 2021. Of all the major economies, China has recovered from COVID the quickest, while Europe has suffered the most. CoBank says a post-COVID bounce will come to the U.S. next year, just not anytime soon. Other factors include monetary policy, a strong finish to 2020 in the U.S. farm economy, specialty crops, grain and farm-supply sectors, a biofuels recovery, dairy and animal protein, and more. ********************************************************************************************** Biden Picks Interior Secretary, EPA Boss President-elect Joe Biden will nominate New Mexico Democratic Representative Deb Haaland to be his Secretary of the Interior, and Michael Regan to head the Environmental Protection Agency. NBC News says if Haaland is confirmed, she would be the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, Regan would be the second black EPA chief in history after Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator during Barack Obama’s first term. As interior secretary, Haaland would oversee the agency tasked with managing and conserving much of America’s federal lands and natural resources, including national parks and tribal lands. Regan is currently the head of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. He has previous experience at the EPA during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Before leaving the EPA, he served as a national program manager responsible for designing programs to help reduce pollution and improve energy efficiency and air quality. Regan would have a top role in overseeing Biden’s ambitious proposals to combat climate change and invest in green energy and infrastructure. ********************************************************************************************** Groups React to Biden Nomination for EPA Administrator U.S. agriculture groups reacted to President-Elect Joe Biden’s nomination of Michael Regan to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Regan most recently led the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Howard “A.V.” Roth (Rowth), president of the National Pork Producers Council, congratulates Regan on getting the nomination. “As DEQ secretary in North Carolina, a leading pork-producing state, he always had an open door, valued diverse points of view, and worked to find solutions that ensured science and data were guiding decisions,” Roth says. “We hope those same qualities will carry over to his leadership at EPA.” Dennis Slater, President of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, says they applaud Regan as Biden’s choice. “Our industry is very familiar with integrating innovative technologies into our operations, whether it includes precision agriculture techniques to ensure more efficient harvests for farmers or deploying smart technology to promote sustainable construction practices in the execution of infrastructure projects,” Slater says. “We look forward to working with Regan to advance a shared vision of a world in which all of America’s basic needs get fulfilled.” *****************************************t***************************************************** Former USMEF Chief Receives Japan’s Highest Civilian Honor The Japanese government announced that Phillip Seng, former president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, is a recipient of “The Order of the Rising Sun.” The award goes to people who’ve made distinguished achievements in areas like international relations and promoting Japanese culture. Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended Seng for his contributions to “strengthening Japan-U.S. economic relations, particularly in the meat field, and promoting mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.” Seng says he’s honored and humbled to receive a prestigious award like this from the Japanese government. “However, the recognition should primarily go to the many Japanese colleagues who mentored me along the way, and to the numerous Japanese individuals and companies who introduced and championed U.S. meat products in Japan.” The Order of the Rising Sun is considered the highest ordinarily conferred order for U.S. civilians. “On behalf of USMEF, I offer Phil a wholehearted congratulations on this honor,” says current USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Phil deserves credit for advancing U.S. red meat interests around the world, and his impact was especially evident in Japan, where he worked tirelessly to strengthen relations between the U.S. and Japan.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Reopens Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program Grants The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the second round of grants available through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The program is for infrastructure projects designed to help facilitate increased sales of higher biofuel blends to new and returning applicants. In making the announcement, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue recognized “the importance of our ethanol and biofuels industries and the positive impacts they deliver to consumers and farmers with an affordable, abundant, and clean-burning fuel.” Growth Energy’s unmatched network of large and small retail partners has already secured nearly $30 million in grants for over 290 sites selling more than 400-million gallons of gasoline every year. After USDA’s announcement of the second wave of grants, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says they’ve heard countless success stories from their retail partners about how HBIIP grants have helped them grow their E15 fuel offerings, strengthen their infrastructure, and increase store foot traffic and sales. “In the face of COVID-19, these grants have been a welcome relief for our industry and our hardworking men and women across the country, and we stand ready to assist retailers who hope to take advantage of this growth opportunity.” ********************************************************************************************** 240,000 Chickens Die in Florida Fire At least 240,000 chickens died early on Thursday morning when a fire roared through two barns in Florida owned by one of the nation’s largest distributors of eggs. The New York Times says the fire was reported at 1 a.m. by workers at the Cal-Maine Foods Facility in Dade County, Florida. Both barns destroyed by the fire contained two large coops, each containing more than 60,000 young hens, called pullets, which hadn’t started to lay eggs. The farm is in a rural county 40 miles northeast of Tampa. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by the state’s fire marshal, who says the financial loss may amount to one million dollars. The blaze is the newest in a rash of barn fires across the United States that have upset animal rights groups that have previously criticized Cal-Maine Foods about the conditions of its facilities. The company’s chief financial officer says two or three percent of the company’s pullets were lost in the fire, and it shouldn’t disrupt production.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


Washington Insider: The Electronic Hack Just when you thought things in Washington couldn't get more confused, it appears that a massive hack on the federal government's cyber systems has taken place — and possibly is still going on. Bloomberg is emphasizing that the attack presents President Trump “with the same choice Barack Obama faced in the waning days of his tenure: whether to impose sanctions on Russia, and how severe to make them.” So far, Trump has shown little willingness to impose costs. For example, on Saturday, the President downplayed the severity of the cyber-attack and suggested China may have been responsible--even as other U.S. officials are convinced Russia was the perpetrator.” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had earlier claimed that the Russians were behind this attack and that Putin “remains a real risk to those of us who love freedom.” In 2016, confronted with evidence that Putin's government orchestrated cyberattacks aimed at interfering with the U.S. 2016 election, President Obama levied sanctions against Russia's intelligence services and expelled 35 diplomats. Now, it's the Trump administration's turn “to decide whether to call out and punish the Kremlin,” Bloomberg said. The alternative is to “go easy on the Russian president and leave it to President-elect Joe Biden to formulate a response. While some details of the cyber-attack will likely remain classified, “there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. Government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world were hit as well,” Pompeo said. Among the targets hit were the U.S. nuclear weapons agency and at least three states. Other potential victims include the Pentagon and Microsoft Corp., which found code related to the cyber-attack “in our environment, which we isolated and removed,” spokesman Frank Shaw said in a statement Thursday. Unlike in 2016, the latest attack didn't involve election interference but there's little doubt it was a serious strike. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency called it a “grave risk” to federal, state and local governments, as well as critical infrastructure and the private sector. SolarWinds said 18,000 customers downloaded the tampered software update. The implications of the attack quickly became highly political. “The one thing you can say is the Trump administration has basically given the Russians a green light by not calling them out,” said James Lewis, director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Does the Trump administration take any action even if it's just symbolic? And so far the answer is no.” In fact, President Obama was criticized for reacting too slowly to the Russian election meddling, although his sanctions eventually sparked one of the most notorious episodes of the Trump era: the decision by that administration's incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to privately urge Russia not to respond to Obama's sanctions. Trump and many of his top aides have repeatedly tried to shift the spotlight to China as America's biggest national security threat, sometimes downplaying Russian actions in comparison, Bloomberg said, and it argued that “President Trump has never let go of the belief that he could leverage personal ties with President Putin to improve relations with Russia. That likely makes it much harder for his staff to discuss punishment for fear that Trump would reject it out of hand.” Bloomberg also noted that there are many ways for the Trump administration to respond to the hack, including new sanctions on Russia's intelligence services, for example. Yet one challenge officials face is that such actions, as the current episode proves, clearly have failed to deter Russia in the past. Another issue that the current and new administrations will have to confront is that no one knows the true extent of the hack or what the hackers will do with the information gleaned. Snooping on an adversary's networks is something countries routinely do and, as brazen as the hack may be, might provoke only a moderate response, in keeping with what past administrations have done. But if the hackers use the breach for harder attacks — shutting down electrical grids, for example, or wiping out people's bank accounts or exposing sensitive information publicly — that could provoke a more serious response, Bloomberg says. “Sanctions are probably the most politically expedient option,” said Lauren Zabierek, executive director of the Cyber Project at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Given that Russia is unlikely to be deterred, experts argue that the best result will have to be a fundamental rethinking of cyber issues, something that will require new money and more time than the Trump team has left before Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. “We've been talking about this for 25 years, and we're not there,” said Christopher Painter, who was the State Department coordinator for cyber issues before Trump shut down his office in 2017. “The way you do that is you make this whole area much more of a mainstream national security priority and not treat it as this little boutique-y tech issue, which I think in large part it has been relegated to,” Painter said. So, we will see. The attack will challenge both the old and the new administrations in the short run, and will also present a severe challenge for the longer term — one producers should watch closely as proposals emerge and are considered, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


Haaland To Lead Department Of Interior, North Carolina Official To Lead EPA The Biden administration will pick Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., to lead the Department of Interior, the first Native American to lead the agency. The administration will also select Michael Regan to head EPA, currently the head of North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will work as a White House advisor on domestic climate policy, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will be nominated secretary of energy, former Secretary of State John Kerry will serve as a global climate envoy, and lawyer Brenda Mallory will reportedly be named chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


COVID Cases In Meatpacking Counties Were 10 Times Those In Other Rural Counties During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, rural meatpacking counties had infection rates 10 times higher than rates in other rural counties, USDA said Thursday. And despite improvements, the COVID-19 rate in the 49 U.S. counties that rely on meat plants for jobs remains somewhat higher than in the rest of rural America as the disease surges again. In its annual Rural America at a Glance report. USDA also said that rural residents, who make up 14% of the U.S. population, accounted for 27% of the COVID-19 deaths nationwide during the final three weeks of October. The report covered the pandemic and the accompanying recession from mid-March through Nov. 1.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Monday is the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. We can be sure traders will stay close to South American weather forecasts and any export news that develops. USDA's weekly report of export inspections is due out at 10:00 a.m. CST and will likely show another week of active soybean inspections. Weather Dry conditions will cover most primary crop areas Monday. Exceptions will be the Great Lakes with snow and the Northwest with mixed precipitation. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


Growth Energy Calls on Congress to Extend Biofuel Tax Provisions Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor sent a letter to Congressional leaders this week that called on lawmakers to include biofuels in any legislation that would extend expiring tax provisions at year’s end. There is a growing possibility that Congress will consider passing a tax extenders package before the current congressional session comes to an end. In the letter, Skor asks congressional leadership to consider extending the Section 40 Second-Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit and the Section 45Q Tax Credit. The Section 40 Second-Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit is a credit per-gallon of second-generation biofuel that Skor says, “Provides an essential incentive for our biofuels industry to produce a low-carbon, renewable fuel which keeps our rural communities afloat.” The Section 45Q Tax Credit is a credit on a per-ton basis of any carbon dioxide sequestered, encouraging ethanol plants to further reduce their carbon footprint. “Especially during a time of depressed gasoline demand, we must use all legislative tools available to support our businesses and infrastructure workforce,” Skor says. ********************************************************************************************** Blueberry Growers Form Alliance to Battle Rising Imports America’s blueberry growers established a new coalition called the American Blueberry Growers Alliance. The goal is to seek relief from rising imports that are harming their business. The alliance will provide information and support to an ongoing U.S. International Trade Commission investigation into the serious injury caused by increasing imports of fresh, chilled, and frozen blueberries under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. Blueberry imports come in from several countries in the Western Hemisphere. Those imports rose by more than 60 percent from 2015 to 2019. Imports from Peru and Mexico have increased by 1,200 and 268 percent during that same period, respectively, helping to drive down blueberry prices by double-digits. Alliance members want bipartisan support from the U.S. government and Congress to use existing trade laws to remedy the injury to U.S. growers. “We’ve been telling Washington about the unfair trade practices for years,” says Alliance steering committee chair Jerome Crosby. “Our family farms continue to be harmed by a flood of blueberry imports. We need relief and for our leaders to stand with American growers.” The Alliance includes growers from Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and California. ********************************************************************************************** Tyson Foods Fires Seven Managers Over COVID Betting Tyson Foods fired seven top managers at its largest pork processing plant after an investigation confirmed allegations that they bet on how many workers would test positive for COVID. The investigation was led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and revealed details that an ABC News article called “troubling allegations.” An outbreak at the Tyson Plant in Waterloo, Iowa, infected more than 1,000 employees, six of whom died. “We value our people and expect everyone on the team, especially our leaders, to operate with integrity and care in everything we do,” says Tyson Foods CEO Dean Banks. “The behavior exhibited by these individuals does not represent the Tyson core values, which is why we took immediate action to get to the truth.” Banks traveled to the Waterloo plant this week to talk about the actions with the employees. Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson says the company won’t release any detailed findings of the investigation or the names of those fired because of privacy issues. “We can tell you that Mr. Holder and his team looked at the gaming allegations and found enough evidence for us to terminate those involved,” Mickelson says. ************************************************************************************ Bipartisan Bill Would End Abuse of Conservation Easements Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley and a bipartisan group of three other senators introduced a bill called the “Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act.” The goal of the legislation is to stop the abuse of conservation easements, save taxpayers billions of dollars, and promote conservation in the U.S. “The conservation easement program is an important tool for protecting and preserving our environment,” Grassley says. “But bad-faith scammers have taken advantage of the program through abusive schemes at the expense of the American taxpayer.” Grassley investigated the growing number of scams and says they won’t stop without legislative action. “I’m glad to join Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon, along with fellow Republican Steve Daines of Montana, in introducing this bill that would stop these scams from undermining the good work of farmers, ranchers, and conservationists,” Grassley adds. Despite increased enforcement from the Internal Revenue Service, recent IRS data shows the total amount of deductions claimed through these tax shelters increased from $6.8 billion in 2017 to $9.2 billion in 2018. The bill preserves an important charitable deduction for people who have true charity and conservation in mind, including for family farms and ranches. *****************************************t***************************************************** New Record Set in NSP Sorghum Yield Contest National Sorghum Producers is proud to announce that a new U.S. dryland sorghum yield record is 245.86 bushels per acre. Ella Johnston of Fulton County, Pennsylvania, set the record in the 35th National Sorghum Yield Contest. NSP says sorghum producers faced weather challenges, economic uncertainty, and a challenging year overall, but they still showed resilience, continued to farm and produced high yielding sorghum. The 2020 National Sorghum Yield Contest had seven national winners selected from three categories for both the eastern and western regions of the U.S. This year’s top yield and Bin Buster winner is Johnston’s new dryland record. “The National Sorghum Yield Contest is an avenue to not only highlight the yield achievements of our producers but also to discover, learn, and engage with our members from New Jersey to Idaho and in between,” says NSP Board of Directors Chairman Kody Carson, a sorghum producer from Texas. “This year demonstrates the resilience of our producers, and we’re proud of pushing those boundaries and revealing the potential of sorghum in record-setting ways.” ********************************************************************************************** EU-UK Trade Talks will Go Past Christmas Senior British Minister Michael Gove says that Britain had hoped to reach a trade deal with the European Union by now, but the talks may now go on until after Christmas. “We’ll want to ensure that parliament has a say, and a chance to scrutinize any agreement reached,” Gove tells a parliamentary committee. “So, a realistic deadline will likely be immediately in the days after Christmas.” Reuters says any possible disruption at British ports after the U.K. ends its status-quo transition period with the European Union and introduces new customs rules will be short-lived. A previous warning from the government said that even with a trade agreement, the 7,000 trucks heading for ports in southeast England would be held in check. Gove tells the parliamentary committee that’s a worst-case scenario. “I would expect that we would find that after an initial few days and weeks of a potential disruption that things will resolve themselves and find a new normal relatively early in the new year,” Gove adds. The British Minister added that if there isn’t time for parliament to have a say on any potential agreement, the U.K. will have to trade on World Trade Organization terms.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Retail Spending is Red Flag for Economy The New York Times is reporting this week that while consumer spending has been one of the few bright spots in the pandemic-battered economy even in the face of mounting job losses, political turmoil and recurring virus outbreaks, “that streak is over now.” U.S. retail sales declined last month and in October, raising questions about how retailers are faring in the holiday shopping season--and about the stability of the broader economy, the Department of Commerce said on Wednesday. Sales fell 1.1% in November — more than economists had predicted — as spending on categories like automobiles, electronic stores, clothing and restaurants and bars softened, Commerce said. Commerce also revised its tally for October to a 0.1% decline, from an increase of 0.3% that had been reported last month. Economists said they see the declines as “warning signs” that the economy is entering a rough patch and is in need of a jolt from another round of government stimulus. “When the U.S. consumer fails to spend, the world's economy feels it,” said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global. The November slide, in particular, adds new urgency to this week's ongoing discussion on Capitol Hill over a stimulus package. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70% of total economic growth so propping up retail sales is central to “nearly any” plans to stoke a recovery. And economists have been warning that failure to enact more financial support for the unemployed would eventually jeopardize the progress made in reviving the economy. “Weak retail sales in the fall, along with a recent increase in unemployment insurance claims, are warning signs for the economy at the end of 2020,” Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, said in a research note. The usual uncertainty around holiday spending is being exacerbated as retailers pushed annual sales events into October in a bid to jump-start the season and prevent crowded stores and shipping delays in November. Many major chains reported sales gains in October, but they were not certain about how that would affect spending in November and December, he said. He also noted that the boom in shopping this spring after virus restrictions were lifted reduced “the need for purchases at the end of the year.” Amazon's “Prime Day,” an annual event for online deals, was held in October, and spurred most major chains to introduce bargains around the same time, which may have also encouraged earlier holiday spending. The report on Wednesday showed the steepest declines at electronics and appliance stores, gas stations, clothing stores, department stores and bars and restaurants. The decline in apparel spending has been part of a broader shift this year, as many Americans remain isolated at home, make fewer trips to the office for work, have postponed events and are avoiding shopping at malls. Spending at bars and restaurants tumbled 4% from October and was down about 17% compared with a year earlier, reflecting the strain on these establishments, the report said. With restrictions on indoor dining taking effect again in cities like New York and public officials warning of a difficult winter ahead, spending at restaurants is likely to remain lower for several months. Spending on gasoline also declined in November, as more families opted not to travel for Thanksgiving; many people are planning to stay home for Christmas also. Auto sales fell 1.7% in November, after months of gains. Consumers have followed abnormal shopping patterns this year, making month-to-month sales difficult to predict. Some analysts had not expected the rebound in sales to have lasted so long, given the grim economic realities for millions of Americans. By the summer, retail sales had returned to pre-pandemic levels, helped by previous rounds of stimulus, job growth and low interest rates. This makes the important holiday season especially difficult to gauge. Black Friday, which has traditionally signaled the start of the holiday shopping season, was largely a bust for many retailers as cases were flaring. Some companies reported that in-person traffic that day declined by as much as 50% from last year, as shoppers concerned about the virus stayed away from the stores. Still, online sales have been strong through the holidays and November sales were up 4% over last year's figures. The National Retail Federation pointed to the online increase as a sign that the holiday season was off to a strong start for retailers. But the organization also said that additional fiscal stimulus from Congress is needed. Also, there likely are limits on how much the boom in online shopping can prop up the overall economy. “There are only so many televisions you can buy,” said Bovino, the economist at S&P Global. “At some point, you reach saturation.” She said the decline in November sales was “much worse than expected” and reflected several troublesome realities. So, we will see. The outlook for another stimulus appears brighter as this week winds down and political uncertainty has declined as the electors have chosen a new president-elect. However, the retail spending jolt provides another indicator that the new administration will face serious economic challenges and the coming economic battles should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


Tyson Foods Under The Spotlight New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to open a probe into Tyson Foods Inc. for allegedly making misleading disclosures to investors in its annual report, including how it characterizes worker safety and the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am calling on the SEC to immediately open an investigation into Tyson's misleading and dubious claims that they are adhering to OSHA and CDC safety guidelines, because shareowners need a full and transparent accounting into Tyson's workplace safety and the risks to both workers and investors amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stringer said. The company also announced it fired seven managers at an Iowa facility for having a pool on how many COVID infections would be found at the plant.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


Lighthizer Says Biden Should Keep Pressure On China The incoming Biden administration should hold to the Phase One agreement between the U.S. and China and continue to use tariffs as leverage on China, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Reuters in an interview. China has done a “reasonably good job” in implementing the pact, he noted. “I would hold their feet to the fire on Phase One,” Lighthizer said when asked what the Biden administration should do relative to the Phase One deal. "I think in some parts they (China) have done a reasonably good job, in other parts they haven't.” China's purchase commitments are one area, he noted, indicating China is well behind on those commitments which in part is due to the pandemic. “I would use the dispute settlement process to resolve specific issues,” Lighthizer said. “I would keep the tariffs in place for sure. I think if you see the tariffs dissipating that's a signal that we're not serious about understanding that China is a strategic adversary.” He expressed a view that the Trump administration's actions on China have "changed the way people think about China in the economic sphere.” On other trade matters, Lighthizer said the U.S. contention that the WTO has failed relative to reining in China and that has spawned global agreement that the world trade body needs reform. Signals so far from the incoming administration are that they do not plan on changing the current U.S. trade stance on China and Biden has ordered a review of the Phase One trade deal. Lighthizer offered no comments on his potential successor — House Ways and Means counsel Katherine Tai. The Biden trade agenda revealed thus far indicates their initial actions are not going to veer greatly from the Trump administration, but expectations are there will be changes ahead.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets On Friday morning we will watch leading economic indicators which comes out at 10 a.m. We will also be watching weather updates for South America and 8 a.m. sales for export sales of corn and beans, especially to China. Weather Dry conditions will cover most crop areas Friday. Exceptions will be in the far northern Midwest with periods of mixed precipitation. Temperatures will be mild for the season. In the Northeast, the drier trend will favor clean-up after this week's record snowstorm.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


USDA Celebrates 2020 Accomplishments Agencies within the Department of Agriculture this week celebrated their accomplishments in 2020. USDA highlighted what the department considered its successes this year. At the Farm Service Agency, the department says USDA farm programs helped farmers and ranchers weather a tough 2020. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce stated, “We partner with agricultural producers to grow and expand their operations as well as weather the unpredictable, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.” USDA’s farm program agencies – the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Risk Management Agency, and Farm Production and Conservation Business Center worked to deliver programs to assist producers while also making strides to enhance efficiency and effectiveness to improve service to customers. USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey says, “We continue to admire and support the resiliency of farmers and ranchers during challenging times.” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated the year was tough, but “USDA met these challenges with a multitude of programs and services.” ************************************************************************************ Industry Groups Call Brazil Decision ‘Devastating’ For U.S. Ethanol A coalition of agriculture groups says Brazil's decision to impose a 20 percent tariff on all U.S. ethanol imports is devastating for the U.S. ethanol industry. The group includes the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers Association. The organizations made the comments in response to the Brazilian government’s decision to let the current tariff rate quota expire, replacing it with a 20 percent tariff on all imports of U.S. ethanol. The statement continues, “Not only does this decision risk destroying the great progress our two nations have made as global leaders in ethanol production, it marks a dramatic turn in our bilateral trade relationship.” Since May, U.S. exports to Brazil have fallen to less than four million gallons. Over the same time period, Brazil has exported nearly 96 million gallons of fuel ethanol to the United States. A 20 percent tariff will “only further imbalance trade between the two countries.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks Public Input on Guidance Defining Nonindustrial Private Forest Land Eligibility The Department of Agriculture seeks public input on Nonindustrial Private Forest Land related to technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs. The lands make up a large portion of the forested land base in the United States. Forest management decisions on these lands impact the nature and level of benefits derived from the land. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service welcomes input from stakeholders to assist with developing guidance about how to identify land for program enrollment purposes. NRCS must ensure the guidance is consistent with how other USDA agencies identify Nonindustrial Private Forest Land under identical or similar frameworks. The request for input is to improve transparency about how NRCS makes land eligibility determinations of forest lands. The criteria will be adopted after the close of the 30-day period and after consideration of all comments. NRCS requests input on the technical guidance through January 19, 2021. Electronic comments must be submitted through regulations.gov. ************************************************************************************ NCBA Awards Roberts Top Hand Award The National Cattlemen's Beef Association this week recognized Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Pat Roberts, with the Capitol Hill Top Hand Award. NCBA awarded the Kansas Republican the accolade in honor of his long career fighting for cattle producers and rural communities in the nation's capital. NCBA President Marty Smith stated, “Chairman Roberts is a pillar of the cattle industry and there is no one more deserving of this award.” Throughout a career spanning decades, Smith says Roberts has always been committed to helping cattle producers in every way he can. The Capitol Hill Top Hand Award, in its inaugural year, is given to one elected official annually, who goes above and beyond the call of duty to represent cattle producers nationwide. Roberts is retiring at the end of the congressional session, ending a political career that saw him leading both the House and Senate Agriculture committees. Kansas Republican Roger Marshall will take his Senate seat in January. ************************************************************************************ AgDiscovery Summer Student Program Now Accepting Applications The Department of Agriculture this week announced the application period for the 2021 AgDiscovery program. AgDiscovery is a national summer outreach program designed to introduce students in grades 7-12 to agricultural sciences. The program is a unique opportunity for students to gain a first-hand view of the many career paths available in the agricultural sciences field. Those career paths include plant and animal health, wildlife management, biotechnology, environmental science, forestry, entomology, food safety and food production, and managing the business aspects of agriculture. AgDiscovery challenges students to consider the importance of American agriculture, and the role USDA plays in agriculture. The program educates students about career opportunities within USDA, by stimulating and promoting advanced interest in, and knowledge of agriculturally related fields of study. In 2021, 21 universities are hosting AgDiscovery programs. Learn more on USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website, www.aphis.usda.gov/agdiscovery. USDA is accepting applications through March 25, 2021. ************************************************************************************ Research Find Avocados Support Gut Health Eating avocado as part of your daily diet can help improve gut health, according to a new study from the University of Illinois. Avocados are a healthy food that is high in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat. However, it was not clear how avocados impact the microbes in the gastrointestinal system. The researchers found people who ate avocado every day as part of a meal had a greater abundance of gut microbes that break down fiber and produce metabolites that support gut health. They also had greater microbial diversity compared to people who did not receive the avocado meals in the study. The study included 163 overweight or obese adults between 25 and 45 years old. They received one avocado meal per day to consume as a replacement for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. One researcher adds avocados are “a really nicely packaged fruit that contains nutrients that are important for health. Our work shows we can add benefits to gut health to that list.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Brexit Tensions Continue The New York Times reported last weekend that Britain and the European Union “passed another do-or-die moment in their trade negotiations with neither a breakthrough nor a breakdown.” As a result, the Times said there were distinct glimmers of hope that the two sides might at last find a way to bridge the gulf between them. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, agreed to extend the negotiations after what both described as a “useful” midday phone call. She dropped her previous admonition that Britain and the European Union were far apart on key issues. Johnson struck a warier tone, noting that the gaps remained significant and that Britain should prepare for a failure to reach a deal by the Dec. 31 deadline. But even he said that British negotiators would not walk away from the talks and reaffirmed, “there is a deal to be done, if our partners want to do it.” Tellingly, neither set a fresh deadline – though as a practical matter, the two sides have only until New Year's Eve, which is when the transition period to hammer out a long-term trade agreement expires. After that, Britain and the European Union would begin levying tariffs on each other's goods. Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said, “Today was the moment where it all could have gone wrong—and it didn't. Both sides have committed to avoiding a cliff edge, which means the likelihood of an agreement has now risen substantially,” he added. At the heart of the talks is the thorny question of how the European Union would respond if Britain diverged from the bloc in its industrial policy. Both sides initially staked out a hard line: Brussels insisting it had to be able to defend the single market from unfair competition from British companies getting state support; and the British declaring it was a matter of sovereignty to be free to chart their own course. In recent days, however, the European Union has softened its stance, the Times said. Rather than automatically impose tariffs to counteract British divergence, the two sides are negotiating other ways to resolve disputes over state aid and other competition policies. That could allow Johnson to claim a victory, which would help him sell a trade agreement to the Brexiteers in his Conservative Party. But Britain has given ground in important respects as well. On Wednesday in Parliament, before he traveled to Brussels for a dinner meeting with von der Leyen, Johnson dismissed the European Union's position as an unacceptable infringement of British sovereignty. Brussels, he said, wanted to ensure that “if they pass a new law in the future with which we in this country do not comply or do not follow suit, they should have the automatic right to punish us and to retaliate.” Johnson's use of the word “automatic” was noteworthy because it suggested there were other ways the two sides could resolve such disputes. Before that, British negotiators had refused to accept any other safeguards against future divergence except those in standard trade agreements, though they did commit not to water down existing rules on labor and environmental standards. “It seems as if the UK has conceded the principle,” said David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project at the European Center for International Political Economy, a research institute. “There is a difference between having a difference on a point of principle and trying to find a practical solution that satisfies both sides.” None of this means the talks could not still run aground. Time is short, the two sides still need to work out a politically fraught deal on fishing quotas, and negative blowback from pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers could yet persuade Johnson to pull back from endorsing the difficult details. “If Ursula is optimistic, then that's great,” Johnson told the press. “But as far as I can see, there are some serious and very, very, very difficult issues that currently separate the UK from the EU.” Britain, he said, had made extensive preparations for a failure in the talks, after which its trade with the European Union would default to World Trade Organization terms. Some analysts dismissed that as a calculated effort to take a tough posture before the inevitable compromises to come. Henig, the analyst, said the prime minister was under intense pressure from British business not to risk a trade war in January over Britain's theoretical right to take measures for which it currently has no plans. Chris Patten, a former chairman of the Conservative Party and governor of Hong Kong from 1992 to 1997, accused Johnson of being on a “runaway train of English exceptionalism.” The prime minister, he added, was “not a Conservative,” in the sense of being committed to alliances, institutions or the rule of law, but an “English nationalist.” Johnson, for his part, said he was eager to negotiate directly with Europe's two most powerful leaders, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France. But both have refused to engage with him, leaving von der Leyen and her chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in control of the talks. That has denied Johnson the opportunity to exploit divisions between the 27 members of the European Union. It has revealed, diplomats say, Britain's misconception that it could force Brussels to back down in the final days of the negotiation. So, we will see. Clearly, there is significant willingness to negotiate, even though the issues are very tough. And the outcome of the discussions are important to global agriculture and should be watched closely by producers as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


Ag Provisions COVID Aid The package of COVID aid that congressional leaders are working on and are aiming to finalize to include with a funding plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 continues to contain help for agriculture. The package would authorize $13 billion in farmer aid and $13 billion in food assistance, including a temporary 15% increase in SNAP benefits. It also provides $10 billion for broadband improvements. Another provision would allow farmers and other small businesses that obtained Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to deduct from their tax obligations the same expenses they used to qualify for loan forgiveness. Some maintain the amounts in the package are not enough to cover ag losses at this stage. That will likely mean a push for additional financial assistance for the sector will continue next year.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


Australia Takes China To WTO Over Barley Tariffs Australia is opting to pursue remedies at the WTO over China's imposition of tariffs on barley from Australia. Simon Birmingham, Australia's trade minister, said that following Australia taking China to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over barley tariffs, Australia reserved the right to appeal several other Chinese trade sanctions levied against Australian coal, beef, timber and lobsters in recent months to the WTO. Beijing imposed tariffs of 80% on Australian barley after bilateral relations deteriorated, but China contends Australian barley imports were sold below cost in China and due to subsidies to Australian growers. Australia has acknowledged that the WTO process could take years to resolve and noted that China had refused to engage with it over the expanding range of trade disputes. Beijing has already imposed sanctions on barley, beef and wine imports following Canberra's call for an inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic that first surfaced Wuhan. Interestingly, China has sought barley from other global suppliers but has not yet turned to the U.S. even though the two sides reached agreement on barley trade as part of the Phase One trade deal between the two countries.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets As usual, 7:30 a.m. CST on Thursday is a busy report time with weekly export sales, weekly U.S. jobless claims, November U.S. housing starts and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor all set for release. The U.S. Energy Department reports on natural inventory at 9:30 a.m. CST. Traders will continue to keep a close watch on South American weather forecasts and any export news. Weather Thursday features dry conditions across all primary crop areas. A heavy snowstorm in the Northeast will dominate the headlines. A system bringing snow and mixed precipitation to the western U.S. is indicated to be a rainmaker in the Midwest during the coming weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


Employment Outlook Promising for New College Graduates in Agriculture A report last week from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University shows a strong job demand for new college graduates with degrees in agricultural programs. U.S. college graduates can expect approximately 59,400 job opportunities annually between 2020 and 2025. This reflects a 2.6 percent growth from the previous five years. Employer demand will exceed the supply of available graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher in agriculture-related fields. A USDA NIFA spokesperson says students studying agriculture "have made a sound career choice and will graduate into a strong and growing job market in the years ahead." Graduates earning degrees with emphasis in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment will account for 61 percent of the annual supply pool. Most employment opportunities will be in business and management at 42 percent and another 31 percent in science and engineering. Openings anticipated in education, communication and government will make up 14 percent, and 13 percent will be in food and biomaterials production. ************************************************************************************ 2020 Land Market Ending with Optimism The 2020 land market closes with optimism, according to Farmers National Company. The year started with land prices strengthening before COVID-19. The pandemic paused the land market before interest returned in the summer. Now, Randy Dickhut of Farmers National Company says an improved outlook for grain prices and government aid increasing farm income has resurrected interest in farmland. The optimism has fueled the demand for good cropland and the resulting surge in prices as farmers are aggressively buying land while investors also enter the market. The rising demand to buy land is evidenced by the fact that real estate sales for Farmers National Company during October and November were up 49 percent from the same time a year ago. Dickhut says rising demand with a low supply normally brings higher prices in a marketplace, which is what is happening in the ag land market. Sales prices for cropland are rising and for some sales, reaching levels last seen in 2012. ************************************************************************************ APHIS Changes Approach to Fight Emerald Ash Borer The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is changing its approach to fight the emerald ash borer beetle. Infestation of the borer beetle has spread through much of the United States and is highly destructive to ash trees. This week, APHIS announced a final rule that removes the federal domestic emerald ash borer quarantine regulations that the agency says have proved ineffective and will redirect resources to more promising methods. Removing the quarantine regulations ends APHIS' domestic regulatory activities, including issuing permits, certificates and compliance agreements, making site visits, and conducting investigations of suspected violations. The agency has worked to identify more effective and less intrusive methods, such as rearing and releasing biological control agents. The results have already proved effective, according to USDA. The final rule and the response to comments was published Tuesday in the Federal Register and will be effective on January 14, 2021. ************************************************************************************ Zoetis Helping Iowa Pork Serve Hungry Iowans A program begun in late April to generate pork donations to hungry Iowans is receiving a generous boost to keep meat on their plates. Zoetis, a leading animal health company, is donating $25,000 to Pass the Pork for processing and storage of ground pork that will provide 40,000 servings of pork. Pass the Pork is a coordinated program with support from the Governor's Feeding Iowans Task Force, the Iowa Food Bank Association, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa State University Meats Laboratory, and the Iowa Pork Producers Association. When Pass the Pork was first launched, it was also targeted at helping Iowa pork producers find market outlets for pigs backing up on farms because of food supply chain disruptions. Currently, those disruptions have dissipated. However, Iowa Pork President Mike Paustian says, “COVID-related challenges have deepened food insecurity.” The Iowa Food Bank Association says there has been a double-digit increase in need at food banks. ************************************************************************************ Wisconsin Health Department: Skip Holiday Tradition of Raw Meat Sandwiches The Wisconsin State Health Department is urging citizens to avoid a so-called holiday tradition in the state. Through social media this week, the department says, “there's one holiday tradition you need to pass on: raw meat sandwiches.” The sandwiches, sometimes called tiger meat, cannibal sandwiches or South Dakota steak tartare, are considered a holiday tradition by many families, according to state officials. The raw meat is typically served with crackers. The tradition appears in midwestern states with significant German populations, such as the Dakota's, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among others. However, the sandwiches, which include raw ground beef, raw egg and onions, along with a mix of spices, poses a threat for salmonella and other bacteria. The state health department says ground beef should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The warning made national media rounds early this week. However, eating raw ground beef or pork dishes is common in Germany and other foreign nations.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Review of Main Potential Policy Changes Under Biden Perhaps the main political game in Washington these days is to guess what the new administration's main policy changes will be. First of all, following Monday's Electoral College vote, the press is widely reporting that the president-elect's top advisers are convinced that he will enter the White House with a “clear mandate” for change. “Joe Biden won decisively,” campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon, who'll join the Biden White House as deputy chief of staff, said. “If you look across any metric that we could put together, it is hard to see anything but a historic victory for the president-elect.” Campaign chief strategist Mike Donilon pointed to a post-election poll from Gallup that put Biden's approval rating at 55%. “There's a very strong story that is running through this country, which is the country wants to come together. And the president-elect is determined to lead the country to do that,” said Donilon, who'll be a senior White House adviser. Bloomberg, and others, are attempting to assess expectations for expected policy shifts by the new administration and are reporting, that because so many of President Donald Trump's initiatives were accomplished by executive order, a number can be changed quickly. Fighting the pandemic and stimulating the economy are big, immediate challenges. However, President-elect Biden's bolder ideas face uphill battles in a closely divided U.S. Senate, so most analysts are offering a “partial tally of his goals,” at this time. Perhaps the broadest of these is the way “America powers itself,” These changes are seen as a “costly, heavy lift” to get through Congress, even as they are seen as a good way to stimulate the economy. Clearly, the new administration's climate agenda is seen as driving its approach to numerous energy issues, many of which face risk of rejection or longer approval times. Perhaps first, the new administration is expected to rejoin the Paris Agreement on global warming through which almost 200 countries have pledged limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It also likely would put in place efforts to make the U.S. electricity system carbon-free by 2035, meaning if there are any emissions, they will be captured. That will require much more solar and wind power and a revamp of the electrical grid since coal and natural gas still produce more than 60% of U.S. electricity. Another major change would affect immigration, which Biden sees as “an irrefutable source of our strength.” He can tweak some of those policies on his own, but his more ambitious plans would require the approval of Congress, which hasn't passed a major immigration law since 1986. The new administration is expected to stop spending on a U.S.-Mexico border wall and direct funds instead toward higher-tech border enforcement. In addition, it likely would raise to 125,000 the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in 2021, up from the current cap of 18,000 in 2020. In addition, it would be expected to increase the number of employment-based visas beyond the current annual cap of 140,000. And, it likely would restore protections blocking deportation of 660,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, a group known as Dreamers — and it would be expected to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. On the matter of taxes, the new administration says it will attempt to raise taxes on several fronts to finance its domestic agenda but that only people earning $400,000 or more would pay a higher amount. Bloomberg notes that the best chance of implementing the tax-hike plan would be if Democrats win in the 2022 congressional midterm elections. Biden sees the U.S. “once again at the head of the global policy debate, leading the world to address the most urgent global challenges.” In addition, the president-elect has vowed to recommit the U.S. to multinational institutions, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and it would revoke the current plan to quit the World Health Organization. However, don't expect a swift reversal of Trump's “America First” policy on trade, Bloomberg says. “There is no going back to business there,” it noted. However, it expects to re-evaluate Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods and to work with U.S. allies, with the goal of exerting “collective leverage” to force China to change its economic practices. Biden has promised union members he'd be the “strongest labor president you've ever had.” And, on some key social issues, while serving as vice president, he got out ahead of President Barack Obama in publicly supporting same-sex marriage. He promised to extend existing civil rights laws to ban discrimination in employment, housing and other areas against LGBTQ Americans—and, he would give the 21 million Americans who work for the federal government and state governments the right to unionize, which currently exists only in some states. There is much more being considered, including the plan to more than double the federal minimum wage in stages to $15 by 2026, up from $7.25, where it was set in 2009 — and, the almost casual promise to spend $50 billion in the first year to repair roads, highways and bridges. However, there almost always is a “learning period” for new administrations during which the newcomers find that many more of the changes they have promised fit into the “slow and difficult” category than are “quick and easy.” This is a sorting process producers should watch very closely as the debate and implementation process evolves, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


USDA Chief Economist Johansson To Depart, Replaced By Former World Board Chief Meyer USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson will leave his post at USDA at the end of January to become Associate Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Monday. And, former World Board chairman Seth Meyer, currently the associate director for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri, will become the new USDA Chief Economist. The move had been rumored previously first reported by Pro Farmer. Johansson will work alongside American Sugar Alliance's Director of Economics and Policy Analysis, Jack Roney, to provide domestic and international sugar market analysis and evaluate the farm and trade policies that affect U.S. sugar producers. Roney, who has worked with the industry for more than 30 years, plans to retire in August 2021, at which time Johansson will assume the Director role.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Payments Near $12.5 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) totaled $12.47 billion as of December 13, including $6.02 billion in acreage-based payments, $3.3 billion for livestock, $1.98 billion in sales commodities, $1.13 billion for dairy, and $45.0 million for eggs/broilers. USDA said that 838,689 applications were approved. Payments for nine commodities total $100 million or more include corn ($3.29 billion), cattle ($2.69 billion), sales commodities ($1.91 billion) soybeans ($1.26 billion), milk ($1.13 billion), wheat ($681.5 million), hogs/pigs ($522.2 million), upland cotton ($290.3 million) and alfalfa ($135.0 million). Payments in nine states total $500 million or more are led by Iowa ($1.12 billion), California ($894.8 million), Nebraska ($823.2 million), Minnesota ($795.0 million), Illinois ($777.9 million), Texas ($645.5 million), Kansas ($637.1 million), South Dakota ($542.4 million), and Wisconsin ($504.5 million). Under the CFAP 1 effort, payments totaled $10.53 billion with 652,179 applications approved.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Early Wednesday, the latest South American weather forecasts still get top attention from traders, along with any export news that develops. At 7:30 a.m. CST, there is a report on U.S. retail sales in November. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly report of energy inventories at 9:30 a.m., including weekly ethanol production. At 1 p.m. CST, the Federal Reserve concludes its two-day meeting with a statement, explaining any changes in policy the Open Market Committee deems suitable. Weather Rain will cover most of the southeastern U.S. Wednesday, interfering with the remnants of cotton harvest. We'll also see snow in the Ohio Valley producing transportation slowdowns. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Headlines the next few days will be dominated by a developing snowstorm in the northeastern U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


Bill to Curb Rural Suicides Awaits Signature Legislation to curb the rising rate of farmer suicides awaits the president's signature as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. However, the bill's future is still uncertain as President Donald Trump over the weekend threatened to veto the bill, despite the appearance of veto-proof support from lawmakers. The Seeding Rural Resilience Act was included in the defense bill. The legislation creates three initiatives aimed at curbing the growing rate of suicides in rural America. The bill Implements a Farmer-Facing Employee Training Program to the Department of Agriculture to provide employees with voluntary stress management training. The bill also forms a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and USDA to create a $3 million campaign to increase public awareness of farm and ranch stress. Finally, the bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture to work with state, local and other stakeholders to collaborate and determine best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress. ************************************************************************************ RFA: Ethanol Industry Needs Support as COVID-19 Losses Near $4 Billion With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, state and local governments are taking additional actions to limit travel and promote social distancing. In turn, the Renewable Fuels Association says consumption of ethanol-blended gasoline is rapidly falling again. RFA says the decline is threatening to derail an already fragile economic recovery in the ethanol industry. Through November, U.S. ethanol producers had already lost $3.8 billion since the start of the pandemic. In response to reduced travel and lower fuel demand, ethanol producers slashed production by two billion gallons between March and November, and cuts are expected to continue for months to come. In the first week of December, consumption of both gasoline and ethanol fell to their lowest points since May, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper says that as Congress debates another COVID-19 relief package, “we implore policymakers to consider the devastating economic impact the pandemic has had on renewable fuel producers.” ************************************************************************************ Harden to Take Vilsack’s Role at USDEC Krysta Harden will take the role of CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, if Tom Vilsack, who currently serves as CEO, is confirmed as the Next Agriculture Secretary. Harden served as Deputy Agriculture Secretary from 2013 to 2016, and is the current chief operating officer at the USDEC. Vilsack previously served as Agriculture Secretary during the entirety of the Obama administration. Chair of the organization, Larry Hancock, stated in a news release, “Vilsack will continue to serve fully in his role as president and CEO of USDEC until he is confirmed as the secretary of Agriculture for the new administration.” Once Vilsack is confirmed as Agriculture Secretary, Harden will become CEO of USDEC. Dairy Management Inc. CEO Tom Gallagher says, “We are extremely fortunate to have Secretary Vilsack's dedication and commitment to dairy farmers over the past four years, and to have someone with Krysta's background and experience in agriculture and with USDEC ready to step into a new role.” ************************************************************************************ Roberts, Stabenow Applaud Enactment of Grain Standards Reauthorization Leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee applaud the signing of the U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020. Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, expressed their delight in a joint statement late last week. The White House announced that President Donald Trump signed the bill Friday. The U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee on June 24, the Senate on November 16, and the House of Representatives on December 2. Roberts, who is retiring, stated, “We’re ending 2020 by delivering on our promise of certainty and predictability to the federal grain inspection system.” Stabenow says, “This bipartisan reauthorization will continue our grain inspection system and protect the interests of American farmers.” The legislation has wide industry support from national and state agriculture groups. The reauthorization allows the Federal Grain Inspection Service to continue establishing official marketing standards for grains and oilseeds. ************************************************************************************ Research Shows Opportunity to Combat ASF Transmission Through Feed Mitigation New research published in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology provides insight into the fight against African Swine Fever. The research, a collaborative effort between academia and Natural Biologics, characterized the antiviral effects of individual medium-chain fatty acids and glycerol monolaurate, known as GML, to inhibit ASF in feed. Animal feed and feed ingredients have recently been implicated as potential vectors of transmission and spread of ASF. The study says effective feed mitigation strategies are urgently needed to reduce the risk of transboundary spread and would improve prospects for global pig production. Natural Biologics President Dr. Charles Elrod says, “this research establishes the science behind a viable opportunity to curb disease transmission.” The research found GML not only killed ASF but also exhibited additional mechanisms of antiviral activity, leading to a 99.8 percent reduction in the amount of infective virus. In feed, only GML was able to inactivate ASF, working quickly in as little as 30 minutes. ************************************************************************************ CHS Foundation Partners with FFA to Support Teachers and Future Ag Leaders The CHS Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from CHS, announced a more than $4 million commitment over the next three years to the National FFA Organization. The effort will include annual funding for programs the CHS Foundation has had a history of supporting. These include the Teach Ag Campaign, which focuses on ag teacher retention and recruitment, educating students on the value of the cooperative system through My Local Cooperative curriculum participation in proficiency awards and National FFA Convention, and support of 17 state FFA associations. New focus areas for the CHS Foundation include dedicated funding for students’ supervised agricultural experiences, or SAEs, and state officer leadership programs. National FFA Foundation President Molly Ball says, “We are excited to see the CHS Foundation recognizes the key role our educators play in creating the next generation of leaders.” CHS Foundation has been a generous partner with the National FFA Organization for more than 40 years.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday's reports are a little busier than usual with the Federal Reserve's report on industrial production in November due out at 8:15 a.m. CST and followed by the monthly soybean crush estimate from the National Oilseeds Processors Association later Tuesday morning. The Federal Reserve starts a two-day meeting and is expected to repeat its commitment to keep interest rates near zero at Wednesday's conclusion. Weather Snow is in store for the southwestern Plains Tuesday, offering some snow cover for dormant wheat. We'll also see periods of snow in the northwestern U.S. crop areas. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New US Trade Ambassador Introduced Bloomberg is putting an unusual light on the president-elect's proposed trade chief, Katherine Tai, who is appearing before Congress this week. The report says that there is a view that U.S. trade policy is getting a new guardian, but that after four years of radical policy-making in Washington, the selection will be greeted by many trading partners as a soothing event — perhaps as "the mop-up after President Trump's trade wars.” Still, Bloomberg thinks the nomination could be seen as “potentially radical in its own right,” and argues that the consensus in Washington is that trade policy is not going to be a high priority for the incoming administration — and in “the gossipy world of Washington politics,” some will see the current nomination as confirmation of that. U.S. Trade Representatives (USTRs) of the past have often had close political or personal connections to the presidents they served, but Tai is starting without any that are apparent. She also is making an unusually large leap from the staff ranks in Congress to become lead trade negotiator for the world's largest economy. She has never held elected office or worked in the senior politically appointed ranks of the executive branch. Yet Tai is arguably the most qualified person for the job right now, Bloomberg says. Especially in a Washington where the politics of trade have been shifting and there is “significant bipartisan unease with the belligerent approach Trump has taken.” As the top Democratic trade staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee, Tai is already a major player who helped steer congressional Democrats' efforts to inject strong labor provisions into Trump's renegotiated NAFTA. Her last job as a civil servant at USTR before her shift to Capitol Hill in 2014 was chief litigator in cases involving China. She not only speaks Mandarin but lived in China some 25 years ago teaching English there as a recent Yale graduate. But her most important qualification may be a new perspective on trade she seems to be ready to bring to the job. In this regard, at 46, she represents an important generational leap. If she is confirmed by the Senate, for the first time in decades the person running the U.S. trade portfolio won't be a product of the 1990s policy wars that started with NAFTA and ran through the creation of the World Trade Organization and the battles over China's 2001 accession to it. Robert Lighthizer, Trump's USTR, is often portrayed as a wily trade revolutionary. Yet he too is really a product of last century's trade battles, Bloomberg notes. He first made his name as a deputy in the Reagan administration. His biggest innovation was to bring back “dormant tariff-yielding mechanisms” from that era. Tai, by contrast, is unencumbered by policy positions she took in the past. Moreover, she belongs to a corps of “Democratic trade wonks” who have spent the past four years deliberating how Trump could have outflanked them on trade and considering how to respond. In rare public comments in August, Tai made what she herself flagged as an “oblique” criticism of Trump's tariff-driven approach. It was that U.S. approach to trade needed to be more “strategic.” That is polite criticism. But what Tai went on to say was that the U.S. needed less weaponized tariffs and more investment in strategic industries, or industrial policy. Tariffs were “defensive” instruments, she said, while the U.S. needs to play offense by doing more at home. However, Bloomberg notes that it is still “hard to get a handle on what exactly a Biden trade or broader international economic policy will look like.” In recent writings some key members of the Biden team have laid out a broader vision built around a robust defense of American interests, though the precise mechanisms for doing that remain largely undefined. On Friday as he presented Tai, the President-elect offered what amounted to two campaign slogans: “Trade will be a critical pillar of our ability to build back better and carry out our Foreign Policy for the Middle Class.” Trump's rallying cry was, of course, America First. Biden has promised to rebuild frayed trade and security relationships with allies. Which means Tai now has to balance that promise with a defense of the American middle class' economic future and to help create a new U.S. trade policy to do so. So, we will see. It is expected that Tai's congressional testimony will add significant detail to the emerging new trade policies that Bloomberg — and, others — now see as so murky. In addition, at least some of the changes proposed may test expectations that the new policies will play a smaller role in future policies. In today's highly competitive global economies, trade policy likely will be extremely import and producers should watched closely as potential shifts are debated and begin to emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


Trump Administration To Unveil Proposed RFS Levels Soon The Trump administration now plans on releasing its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) yet this month on the proposed levels for 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA had in May forwarded its proposed levels to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, but they remain listed as being under review. In the meantime, indications are that EPA has opted to re-work the proposed levels to account for the impacts of the pandemic. It is not clear what the new NPRM from EPA will say, but the regulatory agenda which revealed the action noted, “Relying on statutory waiver authority that is available when the projected cellulosic biofuel production volume is less than the applicable volume specified in the statute, EPA is establishing volume requirements for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that are below the statutory volume targets.” The action puts EPA on a path to finalize the levels in June 2021 under the Biden administration. That could result in one of the first biofuel decisions that the Biden administrations will have an influence on.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


Biden Had to Convince Vilsack to Come Back to USDA Joe Biden held an event Friday in Delaware to publicly introduce some of his cabinet choices for domestic roles, including USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). That included, of course, Tom Vilsack to again head up USDA. Biden noted that Vilsack “wasn't anxious to come back” to be USDA Secretary. “He wasn't looking for this job, but I was persistent,” Biden said. Vilsack has continued to face backlash from some corners, particularly from black farmer representatives who contend Vilsack did not do enough in his first stint atop USDA. The situation is expected to translate into a higher focus on race issues relative to USDA and farmers.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


NASS to Reinstate the Agricultural Labor Survey The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service intends to reinstate the Agricultural Labor Survey, suspended on September 30. NASS will mail the questionnaires and collect data immediately for the survey period that was originally scheduled for October of 2020. The report will be published on February 11 and will include data for the July and October 2020 reference dates. The report will include annual average wage rates, hired workers, and hours worked. Fruit Growers News says the agricultural farmworkers advocacy group Farmworker Justice issued a press release protesting the original September 30 action by the Trump administration, canceling USDA’s Farm Labor Survey of agricultural employers that’s used by the Department of Labor to set the main minimum wage under the H-2A guestworker program. After the suspension was challenged in federal court, a preliminary injunction was issued and ordered NASS to reinstate the data collection. NASS says in the Federal Register that if the court’s order is modified or dissolved in the future, NASS will publish a subsequent notice informing the public of that development as well as NASS’s intentions regarding further information collection. ********************************************************************************************** Biden Nominates Tai to be New U.S. Trade Representative President-elect Joe Biden nominated Katherine Tai to be the new U.S. Trade Representative. She’s been the chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee since 2017. Tai previously served in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as the chief counsel for China Trade Enforcement. Howard “A.V.” Roth (Rowth), National Pork Producers Council President, says her deep trade experience in Congress and the executive branch will serve her well as the next U.S. Trade Representative. “Opening new and expanding existing markets for U.S. pork exports are vital to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry,” he says. “We look forward to working with her on numerous trade-related issues.” American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall is also pleased with Tai’s selection. “America’s farmers and ranchers rely on a fair marketplace to compete globally, and it’s more important than ever for them to have an ally fighting on their behalf,” Duvall says. “Ms. Tai has deep trade experience and a solid understanding of the need to enforce existing trade agreements while working with our trade partners to expand market access overseas.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Issues Final Packers and Stockyards Act Rule The USDA’s Ag Marketing Service issued its final rule on the Packers and Stockyards Act. The Trump administration says the final rule establishes the criteria to determine whether an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage has occurred in violation of the act. The Hagstrom Report says the rule was published Friday in the Federal Register. North American Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts says the rule recognizes the importance of marketing agreements and other tools used by producers and packers and provides some clarity regarding the criteria the Secretary will consider when reviewing those tools. “However, it also introduces some uncertainty into the use of those tools by allowing consideration of other undefined factors,” she says. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says the rule fails to protect farmers from discriminatory practices. “In their relationship with meat packers and processors, family farmers have almost no bargaining power, he says. R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard says, “The final rule undermines the purpose of the Packers and Stockyards Act by providing packers with a list of ‘safe-havens’ they can employ anytime they face allegations of violating the undue and unreasonable preference section of the act.” The National Sustainable Ag Coalition says the new rule fails to advance any meaningful reforms. *****************************************t***************************************************** Growth in Farm Tractor Unit Sales Continues in the U.S. and Canada Farm tractor and self-propelled combine unit sales continued to grow across the U.S. in November. Data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers also shows small to mid-size units continue their sales growth in Canada. Total farm tractor sales in the U.S. rose 41 percent in November when compared to last year, while U.S. self-propelled combine sales grew 33 percent. U.S. four-wheel-drive unit sales nearly doubled in November, up almost 92 percent to 201 units, now up 4.7 percent year-to-date. 100-plus horsepower unit sales also rose in November, up 24 percent, which keeps sales for the big units in positive territory for the year at up 1.2 percent. Total year-to-date farm tractors out the door are up 16 percent in 2020, while combines are now up 6.4 percent on the year. Canadian tractor sales saw their biggest jump in the under-40 horsepower units. “On the whole, this sales report continues the generally positive trends we’ve seen since April,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at AEM. “The trend includes growth in the smaller units, while the bigger units are following along a little more slowly.” ********************************************************************************************** United Soybean Board Elects Dan Farney as New Chair United Soybean Board farmer-leaders elected Dan Farney of Morton, Illinois, as the 2021 USB Chair. “What an honor to get selected by my fellow farmers to lead the soy checkoff next year,” says Farney. “I’m so proud of our accomplishments but look forward to going a step further to increase the value and preference for U.S. soy.” USB leadership, with oversight from USDA, guides the activity of the national soy checkoff per the strategy outlined by the 78-member board. “As stewards of the soy checkoff, we are committed to research and market development on behalf of all soybean farmers that strengthens the resilience of U.S. soybean production,” Farney says. “This ranges from developing new customers abroad to building demand domestically through animal agriculture, human consumption, biodiesel, and industrial uses for over 1,000 products on the market.” The USB farmer-leaders also elected ten other farmer-leaders to serve as members of the USB Executive Committee during their annual meeting December 9-10. USB continues to focus on three priority areas for investment: meal, oil, and sustainability. During the annual meeting, USB CEO Polly Ruhland said soybean farmers are the definition of resilient. “You can knock them down, but you certainly can’t count them out,” she says. “The checkoff is a reflection of that spirit.” ********************************************************************************************** ASA Elects 2021 Governing Committee During their annual meeting, the American Soybean Association Board of Directors elected the leaders who will guide the organization through the changing policy landscape on Capitol Hill. Kevin Scott of South Dakota will serve as the 2021 ASA President. Scott previously was the vice president, secretary, and an at-large member of the ASA Governing Committee. Scott’s been on the ASA board since 2012. He and his wife Jannell farm in southeast South Dakota with a son, brother, and nephew on a fourth-generation farm that began in 1886. Immediate past president Bill Gordon of Minnesota moves into the role of ASA chairman. The former chair, Davie Stephens, rotates off the nine-member governing committee but remains on the ASA board. The board also elected Brad Doyle of Arkansas to serve as vice president, a position that has him next in line to be the association’s president in 2022. Doyle operates Berger Farms/Eagle Seed with his wife Joyce, a second-generation soybean breeder. Daryl Cates of Illinois is the secretary, and Stan Born, also from Illinois, is the treasurer.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Global Economic Pressure Growing Bloomberg is reporting this weekend that the “Fed's Nightmare Year isn't over yet” as U.S. job numbers “soured somewhat.” As a result, the U.S. Federal Reserve will start confronting the case for more stimulus to support the U.S. economy on Wednesday as it holds its final policy meeting of a truly momentous year. The central bank in Washington is one of at least 16 monetary institutions worldwide scheduled for important decisions this week – as the Fed “now has the specter of a marked slowdown in the labor-market's rebound to consider after the latest jobs data for November.” The recent surge in U.S. COVID-19 cases is hitting workers and curbing the broader economic recovery, Bloomberg emphasizes. Resumed stay-at-home advisories in some of the biggest U.S. cities, such as Los Angeles and Chicago are seen as blows to businesses still reeling from lockdowns imposed at the start of the pandemic. That may push the Federal Open Market Committee to debate changes to its bond-buying program or alter its guidance for future purchases, Bloomberg notes. Officials will also update quarterly forecasts for economic growth, unemployment, inflation and for their target interest rate, which is expected to stay near zero through 2023. These developments also could bring new focus on the U.S. Treasury Department's request that the Fed wind down several emergency lending programs—and even highlight those actions as another reason to consider providing more support to the economy in other forms. Without some of those facilities, officials may view growth risks to be worse, especially as Congress wrangles over more government aid to people and companies. “The confluence of the trajectory of the virus, the possible shape of a Biden stimulus package (if a passable version arises) and the behavior of financial markets – particularly treasury yields – could create the need for a QE adjustment in the first quarter of 2021. Recent guidance from Fed officials prior to the communications blackout period suggests they are content with policy for now, but by no means complacent,” the report said. In a scan of global economic policy trends, Bloomberg says that the Bank of England could be forced to expand its stimulus if a post-Brexit trade deal still eludes the UK while central banks in Japan, Russia and Switzerland will also face a number of other decisions. Flash PMIs in Japan, Europe and the U.S. will also provide an early glimpse of how economies weathered December. A Flash Manufacturing PMI is an estimate of manufacturing for a country, based on about 85% to 90% of total Purchasing Managers' Index survey responses each month. Any reading above 50 indicates improving conditions, while readings below 50 indicate the opposite, Bloomberg said. Ahead of the Fed decision, policy makers will get November data on industrial production and retail sales. Thursday sees jobless claims, which surged to a three-month high last week, suggesting that widening business shutdowns to curb the pandemic are spurring fresh job losses. Bloomberg emphasizes a collapse in post-Brexit trade talks could turn the BOE's Thursday decision from a policy non-event to a blockbuster must-watch. Some economists expect the central bank's first response to be accelerating the pace of quantitative easing before considering other steps. Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina says the country is nearing the end of its monetary easing cycle after cutting interest rates to a record low. Russia has kept the market divided on whether it will cut again or hold on Friday, against the backdrop of rising inflation and remarks from Governor Elvira Nabiullina suggesting caution should prevail. Policy makers in the Czech Republic and Hungary also deliver monetary decisions next week. China's data dump on Tuesday is seen as particularly important, and Bloomberg expects that it likely will provide more evidence of the economy's strong rebound, with industrial production, retail sales and investment expected to have strengthened in November. In addition, the Bank of Japan will issue its closely watched Tankan business survey on Monday amid growing gloom among smaller firms. On Friday, the BOJ announces its policy decision, with rates likely to stay unchanged despite CPI data set to show a steeper fall in prices. The BOJ is also likely to extend special pandemic support measures for businesses. Three other Asian central banks – in Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan – also announce rate decisions, with economists predicting no change. In India, data at the start of the week will show inflation remains elevated, well above the central bank's target band. On Tuesday, Brazil's central bank posts the minutes of last week's meeting where it kept its key rate at a record-low 2%. Many observers expected some shift in language given a recent rise in prices – but were still surprised by the post-decision statement's hawkish tone. Mexico's ever-cautious central bank has signaled it will hold at 4.25% on Thursday and adopt a data-dependent stance with inflation again in its target range. Argentina, which was facing a third year of recession in 2020 even before the pandemic hit, will release inflation, third-quarter output and unemployment. GDP is set to show a jump from the April-June period – but price readings are likely to remain elevated and roughly 20% of registered workers have dropped out of the market. So, we will see. Amid the intense anxiety surrounding the final steps in the U.S. election, much of the world's economy is adding new worries of its own. Governments are widely engaged in intense policy fights large and small—clearly interventions and trends that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


USDA Publishes Final Rule On Undue Preference In Packer Relationships With Growers USDA has completed its rulemaking on an “undue preference” rule related to meat packers' business relationship with the livestock growers. The final rule, published in Friday's Federal Register, sets criteria for USDA to consider when determining whether an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage has been given to a poultry or livestock grower by any meatpacker, contractor or dealer as described under Section 202(b) of the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&SA). The rule will become effective 30 days from Friday. Under the P&SA, meatpackers, contractors or live poultry dealers are barred from making or giving “any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person or locality in any respect.” USDA is responsible for determining whether actions constitute a violation of the P&SA. The final rule, which includes some changes from the proposed rule published in January, defines unfair treatment of producers as giving any preference or advantage that cannot be justified based on cost savings, meeting a competitor's prices, matching a competitor's terms or as a reasonable business decision. Besides those four criteria, the rule allows the USDA Secretary to “take other factors into consideration as appropriate on a case-by-case basis.” Only modest changes to the proposed rule were made in the final version. The issue has been a long-running one dating back to the Obama administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


DOJ Argues Against Supreme Court Taking Up RFS Case The issue of small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continues to percolate, with the Department of Justice (DOJ) weighing in on whether the Supreme Court should review the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that found three SREs granted were invalid as they were not continuations of prior SREs. DOJ opted not to appeal the 10th Circuit ruling, but the two companies that were affected by the decision are pursuing an appeal. “The decision below does not meet this Court's ordinary criteria for granting certiorari,” DOJ said. “The government agrees with petitioners that the question presented has important implications for the renewable fuel standard program. This case, however, would be an unsuitable vehicle for addressing the question because a decision favorable to petitioners would not change the judgment.” DOJ also argued that other “pending proceedings provide an additional reason to deny the petition in this case.” The court case could be one factor in why EPA has yet to decide on the 17 gap year SREs still pending and on 41 SREs for the 2019 and 202 compliance years combined.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Monday marks 11 days to Christmas, getting closer to the time of year when markets don't get as much attention from traders. Among the attentive, South American weather forecasts and any export news that develops will still be watched. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is likely to show another week of active soybean movement at 10:00 a.m. CST and December grain futures are set to expire early Monday. Weather Dry conditions will cover most primary crop areas Monday. Temperatures will be seasonally cool to cold in northern and central areas, with some chill enhanced by snow cover. The past weekend brought snow to the Southern Plains and a rain and snow mix in the central Plains and Midwest with useful moisture for winter wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


Ag Groups Respond to Possible Vilsack Return to USDA Several media outlets reported that President-elect Joe Biden intends to nominate Tom Vilsack to return as USDA Secretary of Agriculture, a post he held for eight years under Barack Obama. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says family farmers face significant challenges and need a strong Secretary of Agriculture to help them make it through in one piece. “After eight years leading USDA, Tom Vilsack has the necessary qualifications and experience to steer the agency through turbulent times,” Larew says. United Fresh Produce Association CEO Tom Stenzel says, “Given COVID-19 and all its challenges, it’s vital to have experienced leaders who can hit the ground running.” Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose says, “Vilsack’s comprehensive knowledge of agriculture and passion for rural America was evident during the Obama Administration, and we look forward to working with him again.” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO Colin Woodall says,” Vilsack knows the issues facing cattle producers and can utilize his extensive experience to showcase the positive impact we have on food security, nutrition, and our natural resources. We look forward to working with him for the betterment of beef farmers and ranchers.” American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “Tom Vilsack earned a reputation for rising above partisanship to serve farmers and ranchers and will continue to do so.” ********************************************************************************************** USTR Taking Action on U.S. Dairy Access to Canada Under USMCA The U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation applaud the announcement that the U.S. Trade Representative is taking action on Canada’s dairy policies. U.S. Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer will initiate official consultations with Canada to examine the administration of its Tariff Rate Quota obligations for dairy. The two U.S. dairy organizations have long raised an alarm about the need to ensure the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement is fully-enforced due to Canada’s history of undermining trade agreements. Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley and Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (CRAY-po) both say the Trump Administration is taking the right step for American dairy producers and farmers. One of the biggest improvements in the new USMCA provisions is providing access to Canada’s dairy market, which had unfairly restricted equitable access to American dairy for years. The two Senate Committee chairs say, “We hope our Canadian partners can resolve this issue without going to arbitration, but we are supportive of Ambassador Lighthizer’s efforts either way.” Wisconsin Senator Ron Kind says, “To create an even playing field for dairy farmers and help keep jobs in the United States, the administration must hold Canada and Mexico accountable to their trade commitments by implementing enforcement provisions.” ************************************************************************************ EPA, DOJ Against Refiner Request for Supreme Court Review of RFS Exemptions The U.S. Department of Justice filed a recommendation against a Supreme Court review of the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling that invalidated several EPA small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The DOJ filing comes in response to a petition submitted by HollyFrontier Corporation and CVR Energy, in which the oil refiners ask the Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit’s January decision. The petitioners in the original Tenth Circuit Court challenge welcomed the government’s brief opposing a potential Supreme Court review of the appeals court decision. The Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and the American Coalition for Ethanol will all file briefs with the Supreme Court this week. In January, the Tenth Circuit invalidated three exemptions the Environmental Protection Agency issued in 2016 and 2017 because it found the EPA had no authority to extend exemptions that had already lapsed in prior years and because EPA based the exemptions on economic hardships that were not caused by compliance with the RFS. The Justice Department says in its brief that, “The issue didn’t warrant the high court’s review and stated that the refiners’ petition asking for a review ‘should be denied.’” *****************************************t***************************************************** December WASDE Shows Lower Soybean Ending Stocks, Corn Supplies Steady The USDA released its December Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. USDA dropped soybean ending stocks down to 175 million bushels, 15 million bushels lower than last month due to an increase in the domestic crush. Total U.S. oilseed production for 2020-2021 is projected at 123.7 million tons, down from last month’s report. The U.S. season-average soybean price is $10.55 a bushel, up 15 cents. The December U.S. corn supply and use outlooks are unchanged from November. The projected season-average farm price is also unchanged at $4.00 a bushel. The outlook for 2020-2021 U.S. wheat this month calls for slightly smaller supplies, unchanged domestic use, higher exports, and lower ending stocks. Supplies are reduced on lower imports. Projected ending stocks dropped 15 million bushels to 862 million, 16 percent lower than last year. The season-average farm price for wheat is unchanged at $4.70 per bushel. ********************************************************************************************** OTA Asks Court to Delay Animal Welfare Suit Against USDA The Organic Trade Association requested the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to issue a stay of proceedings. The Hagstrom Report says that means they’re calling for a halt to further legal processing in its animal welfare lawsuit against the USDA until President-elect Joe Biden takes office. The lawsuit was filed by OTA in 2017 because of the Trump Administration’s blockage and eventual withdrawal of the final Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule. OTA says an odd quirk in the briefing schedule means the suit spans two administrations. Laura Batcha, OTA Executive Director, says, “We see little benefit to the court in having piecemeal briefings with arguments from two very different administrations. Common sense and fair play require the matter to be placed wholly within the new administration’s hands.” Batcha says the case includes claims of misconduct under the Trump administration that the Biden administration won’t want to defend against. ‘When it all comes down to it, the case will be resolved when Biden takes office,” she says, “and the court shouldn’t be burdened with arguments from a departing administration.” ********************************************************************************************** Purdue Report Highlights Critical Farm Issues in 2021 This past year was full of uncertainty in the agricultural markets. Challenges like a lingering trade war, weather issues, and COVID-19 combined to bring a big change to all parts of the Agricultural supply chain. Every year, experts in the Purdue University Department of Agricultural Economics review the economic conditions from the previous year and look ahead to what the ag sector can expect in the upcoming year. The findings are published in the Purdue Agricultural Economics Report Annual Outlook Issue. Brady Brewer is one of the report’s editors and analyzes trends in the financial sector. Brewer believes the agricultural economy can expect many of these same issues to influence the markets into 2021. “This year has been full of unprecedented disruptions to the agricultural economy,” Brewer says. “Even though we did see farm incomes increase, as well as an improvement in farmer sentiment at the end of 2020, there’s still an expectation that we’ll continue to see volatility and uncertainty in the agricultural economy next year.” The report also provides an outlook on farmland values, trade policy, Ag credit, the dairy marketplace, and retail food prices.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Vilsack Expects To Boost Farmer Optimism Bloomberg is reporting this week that the prospect of Tom Vilsack returning to oversee U.S. agriculture is drawing praise from some farmers who are hopeful the former Democratic Iowa governor will be an ally on everything from biofuels and dairy to China and climate-friendly farming. Vilsack was announced this week as President-elect Biden's pick to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, Vilsack, who served eight years under Barack Obama, would be one of the country's longest-serving USDA secretaries. The next ag chief will arrive at the USDA in the midst of farmer receipts of a record $47 billion this year in federal aid to make up for losses tied to the pandemic and the president's trade war. The industry also is facing questions on the future of biofuels, food security and conservation at the same time Congress is set to begin work on the next Farm Bill. Vilsack's experience both in Washington and the Corn Belt is reassuring to many growers, even as he faces criticism from environmental and civil rights groups. “Vilsack is a positive for agriculture,” said Dan Cekander, a fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer in central Illinois who voted for Trump in 2016, but backed Biden this year after disappointment in the current administration's approach on corn-based ethanol. Cekander, though, said he gives Trump credit for compensating farmers on trade and pandemic-related losses, as well as for having the “guts” to take on China. A former two-term governor of the top corn-producing state of Iowa, Vilsack has spoken out against the Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency over the thorny issue of whether some oil refiners should be exempt from annual biofuel-blending requirements. Vilsack has said the approach by Trump's EPA has left farmers with surplus corn, suppressing prices. While the EPA has the lead role over such biofuel policies, “having Vilsack as agriculture secretary would only increase the odds that those small refinery exemptions go away and contribute to more ethanol use,” said Cekander, also the founder of DC Analysis, which focuses on helping clients with the grain market. Vilsack “knows that renewable fuel policy is essential to a strong agriculture economy,” said Randall Stuewe, chief executive officer of Darling Ingredients Inc., one of the largest producers of renewable clean energy. While Vilsack is expected to reprise his role as a supporter of biofuels, Biden has promoted electric vehicles and taken a more nuanced approach to the Renewable Fuel Standard that mandates biofuel use. Vilsack could play a part in shaping the administration's electric vehicle and fuel policies, said Scott Segal, an energy lobbyist and co-chair of Bracewell LLP's Policy Resolution Group. Vilsack also said any concern that a Biden administration would shun biofuels as part of a push to electric cars is unwarranted and wildly unrealistic. “We're talking about generations that will pass before we have a vehicle fleet that is even remotely close to being all electric,” Vilsack said. Iowa Farmers Union President Aaron Lehman said Vilsack being part of Biden's Cabinet will be “tremendously important in helping on trade issues.” While it was important to address imbalances with China, Trump's trade war “put farmers on the front lines to bear the brunt of it and then try to pick up the pieces later,” Lehman said. “We would much rather be earning money from the marketplace than receiving a payment to make up for policies that have failed.” One global and domestic issue incoming administration officials will be tasked with addressing right away is climate change. Cekander said he's interested in how the USDA might use existing programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program, which provides grants to help farmers and ranchers reduce their carbon footprints. Trump has previously proposed eliminating the program. However, not everyone is a Vilsack fan, Bloomberg says. National Black Farmers Association President John Boyd Jr. said his group, which has more than 100,000 members in 46 states, had a “tough time” with Vilsack during the Obama administration in getting support for legislation aimed at addressing discrimination against Black farmers. Boyd said if Vilsack leads the USDA again he should make racial justice issues a top priority. The environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth said in a statement it was “deeply disappointed” by Biden's selection of “an agribusiness lobbyist with a tarnished record on civil rights, consolidation, and the environment.” The most immediate issue for all agencies though will be dealing with the ongoing devastation of the COVID-19 outbreak. “We would urge Vilsack to expand nutrition assistance programs in order to ensure that millions of individuals who are facing unemployment and food insecurity are able to meet their most basic needs through the pandemic,” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said in a statement. Vilsack's current role as head of the U.S. Dairy Export Council has given him a “front-row seat” in seeing how the pandemic has revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the country's food system, American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said. “Tom Vilsack understands that the agriculture sector is far more complex than most people understand.” So, we will see. The food and ag policy environment is enormously different now than it was when Vilsack was last in charge. His administration will face enormous new challenges that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


USTR Welcomes UK Decision On Aircraft Tariffs With A Caveat The UK announced they will not continue the tariffs related to the WTO case over civil aircraft as of January 1, 2021, to “de-escalate the large civil aircraft conflict and come to a negotiated settlement. “The United States welcomes this decision and shares the UK's objective of reaching a negotiated resolution,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement. “The United States does not agree, however, that the UK would have any authority to impose tariffs. Only the EU sued the United States at the WTO; the UK did not bring a case in its individual capacity. Therefore, the UK has no authority from the WTO to participate in any such action after it no longer is part of the EU.” The statement pointed out the U.S. sued not only the EU but also France, Germany, Spain and the UK over the airbus subsidies which resulted in the WTO authorizing U.S. countermeasures against each country and the EU.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


Biden Taps House Ways And Means Lawyer As USTR Katherine Tai from the House Ways and Means Committee has been tapped to be nominated to be U.S. Trade Representative for the Biden administration. In a statement, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., praised Tai as a potential pick and called on Senate Republicans to process her nomination "as quickly as possible" following the inauguration on January 20. From 2007 to 2014, Tai worked USTR where she successfully prosecuted several cases on Chinese trade practices at the World Trade Organization. If confirmed, Tai, who is Asian-American, would be the first woman of color to serve as the U.S. trade representative. She is also fluent in mandarin which could be an asset in dealing with China. However, Biden has said he would not make any “immediate moves” to lift the tariffs President Trump has imposed on roughly $370 billion of Chinese imports. Biden said he would first conduct a full review of the Phase One trade deal the Trump administration reached with Beijing.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday morning will find traders glued to weather forecasts for South America and watching for any export news to develop. At 7:30 a.m. CST, the U.S. Labor Department will report on producer prices, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. Weather Snow is in store for portions of the central Plains Friday, with rain indicated for portions of the western Midwest and southeastern Plains. We'll also see periods of snow in the Northwest. Other crop areas will be dry. Rain moves into the central and southern Midwest during Friday evening with activity continuing in the Northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


Biden Chooses Vilsack as Nominee for Ag Secretary Several media reports late Tuesday said Joe Biden will nominate Tom Vilsack to once again be the Secretary of Agriculture, a post he held for eight years during the Obama Administration. He was also a top rural and ag policy adviser during Biden’s presidential campaign. One person familiar with Biden tells Politico that Vilsack’s previous experience running USDA was a key to the decision. Biden wants someone who can immediately tackle the hunger and farm challenges that are being made worse by COVID-19. During his term at USDA, Vilsack focused on many priorities outside the department’s primary mission of focusing on farmers. Under Vilsack, the agency took a deeper dive into other areas like rural development and nutrition programs. The USDA will play a major role in Biden’s response to climate change, which likely made the job more attractive for Vilsack to return. After years of resistance against climate change discussions, Politico says farm groups are starting to warm up to policies that give farmers incentives to capture and store carbon in their soil. ********************************************************************************************** Biofuels Coalition Challenges 2018 Small Refinery Exemptions in Court The Biofuels Coalition filed a brief challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision in August of 2019 to approve 31 small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuels Standard for 2018. The group submitted the brief to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the EPA lacked the authority to issue such exemptions and that it acted arbitrarily and capriciously in attempting to do so. The coalition includes Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, and the National Farmers Union. “Among all of EPA’s indefensible actions surrounding small refinery exemptions in recent years, the agency’s two-page decision to grant 31 waivers from 2018 RFS compliance takes the cake,” coalition representatives say. “Enough is enough.” The groups told the court that the EPA has absolutely no legal basis for continuing to destroy demand for renewable fuels, which is contrary to the intent of Congress for the RFS program. “When it adopted the RFS in 2005, Congress clearly intended for the waiver program to be temporary in nature,” they say. “But 15 years later, some refiners who’ve complied with the obligations in the past are trying to say they still need more time to comply with the current obligations.” ************************************************************************************ Free Trade Coalition Wants Chinese Tariffs Removed Americans for Free Trade is a broad coalition that includes Farmers for Free Trade. That coalition sent a letter to president-elect Joe Biden, asking him to remove the tariffs that President Donald Trump placed on Chinese imports. “Finding a way to remove the tariffs while creating an effective new, multilaterally-supported approach to China trade issues would provide an immediate economic boost to U.S. companies, especially the small and medium-sized companies,” the coalition says in the letter. “While we all agree that our trading partners must live up to their commitments, the current Section 301 China tariffs and Section 232 steel/aluminum tariffs have been a blunt instrument, imposing undue costs on U.S. employers and families.” The coalition says tariffs have increased the costs for U.S. manufacturers and importers, as well as U.S. farmers and ranchers, who they say, “are the subject of retaliatory actions and have thus seen sales and exports evaporate.” They point out that the future of U.S. trade policy must no longer be a go it alone approach. “We must work with our allies to address the systemic issues with China, which was the stated reason why the trade war started,” the letter also says. *****************************************t***************************************************** USDA Increase Certain Incentive Payments in the CCR Program The USDA is increasing incentive payments for practices installed on land enrolled in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program. The Farm Service Agency is upping the Practice Incentive Payment for installing practices from five percent to 20 percent. Producers will also receive a ten percent incentive payment for water quality practices on land enrolled in CRP’s continuous signup. FSA administers the CRP on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation. “The Conservation Reserve Program provides agricultural producers and landowners with a tool to conserve natural resources on their land that is less suitable for farming,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “We offer several CRP initiatives, including continuous CRP, which greatly benefits natural resources like water. Increasing the incentive payment gives farmers even more reason to participate in continuous CRP, one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors.” Under continuous CRP, producers can enroll environmentally sensitive land devoted to certain conservation practices with signup available at any time. FSA automatically accepts offers, provided the land and producer meet the eligibility requirements. ********************************************************************************************** February’s Western Farm Show is Canceled Because of COVID The 2021 Western Farm Show, scheduled for February 19-21 in Kansas City, has been canceled by the Western Equipment Dealers Association, which is the event producer. Health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 are the reasons the show won’t happen next year. “Given the long history of this event as one of the Midwest’s premier farm shows, this is a very disappointing step to take,” says show manager Ken Dean. “But it’s the responsible decision for the protection of everyone involved during the current pandemic.” The Western Farm Show is one of the region’s largest indoor agricultural attractions, featuring 400,000 square feet of exhibit space filled with new farm and ranch equipment, as well as thousands of other Agricultural products and services. The event draws farmers and ranchers from all over the Midwest, and it features a low-stress livestock handling demonstration, Health and Safety Roundup, an FFA student food drive, and a Family Living Center with food, health, and décor items for sale. Dean noted that the 2021 show would have marked the event’s 60th anniversary, which will now be celebrated in 2022. ********************************************************************************************** National Chicken Council Unveils New Website The National Chicken Council announced it has a newly refurbished website, which features an easy-to-navigate interface. The website highlights the latest policy, news, and information pertinent to the U.S. broiler industry. The new site integrates information from Chicken Check-In, an online resource for consumers to learn more about how the chicken they buy is raised and processed in the U.S. The updated site includes an industry stats and facts page, which outlines many of the most relevant topics that impact the chicken industry, as well as multimedia resources for journalists, and information about the most important policy issues affecting the industry. It also provides a timeline of the industry’s history, telling the story of the U.S. chicken industry and its crucial role in feeding the country for decades, and contains a revamped industry news page. “With the new look and information, the National Chicken Council website more effectively delivers on the primary purpose of serving as a resource for our industry,” says NCC President Mike Brown. To look at the new resources available on the new National Chicken Council site, go to www.nationalchickencouncil.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


Washington Insider: US, China Trade Ties Strong Despite Tensions Bloomberg is reporting this week that “measured by the bushel, the U.S.-China relationship has never been stronger.” Through the trade war and open hostilities at the highest political levels, hog farmers in China and crop farmers in the U.S. have become increasingly interdependent. Already America's biggest customer of soybeans and sorghum, China has recently bought an unprecedented 11.2 million metric tons of corn, up nearly 1,300% compared with pre-trade-war purchases. The American imports have helped China feed its hog herd, which is recovering faster than expected after the African swine fever outbreak that created shortages of the country's most staple protein. Meanwhile, U.S. farm incomes are at a seven-year high, riding China's demand and additional support from federal aid. Still, the current “deeper reliance” may be tenuous. As the trade war showed, markets can quickly evaporate any number of geopolitical events–an incident in the South China Sea, for example, or further activity in Hong Kong–could end with another chill on Chinese imports. Even Tom Vilsack, who is expected to be the next ag secretary and who also held that post from 2009 to 2017 and is an ex-governor of Iowa, is emphasizing the risks. He warns that “American agriculture has to be careful of putting too many eggs in the China basket. He thinks that the lesson that should be learned from the last couple of years is the need for American agriculture to continue to diversify so there's always somewhere else the products can go, other than the storage bins.” For now, purchases are so big that traders are even drawing parallels with the Soviet era's “Great Grain Robbery” and the U.S. has nearly exhausted its export capacity, according to Gregg Doud, the U.S. Trade Representative's chief negotiator for agriculture. “North of 95% of what can possibly be done in 2020 is already booked, and a huge chunk of that is soybeans to China.” The farm belt, which voted overwhelmingly for the re-election of President Donald Trump, is waiting to see how President-elect Joe Biden will approach the next negotiations with China. The past North American and Chinese trade deals, plus COVID-linked farm aid, have “sustained the agricultural economy,” said Jim Putnam, who grows corn and soy in Minnesota. “I was never a big Trump fan but he did get the Chinese attention with Phase 1,” Putnam said. “I hope that the Biden administration can keep things going.” Even if relations do strengthen, China's appetite for American crops reflects a combination of factors that won't remain static: the strength of China's post-COVID economy, the unanticipated consequences of the African swine fever recovery, and the limitations on the country's own corn production. When the disease killed roughly half the country's herd in 2018 and later, traders projected a five-year timeline for recovery. It's been far faster. The herd is now at 80% of its pre-disease levels. Also, the industry has changed, Bloomberg says. Multi-story “hog hotels” and large industrial producers have replaced the backyard farms where pigs were fed table scraps. The more professional operations mean hogs are eating more corn, soybean meal and other feed grains. “Everybody focuses on soybean trade, but as the Chinese livestock industry is professionalizing their feeding practices, it means not only the soybean meal demand will grow, but that the corn demand will grow as well,” Greg Morris, president of Archer-Daniels-Midland Co.'s Ag Services and Oilseeds unit said. Others are skeptical about the influence of the trade growth and strong sales projections that likely are guiding U.S. farmers as they decide how to allocate their land for the 2021 growing season. And, American executives worry that “only China's state-owned enterprises understand the full scale of the country's demand.” In China, an important goal is self-sufficiency, according to Xu Weiping, a chief analyst with the agriculture ministry. The country is reallocating land from non-grain crops to corn and plans to use genetically modified crops and other technologies to achieve greater self-sufficiency. It also has been developing its global supply chain. As part of its Belt-and-Road Initiative, it has heavily invested in Brazil, the world's top producer of soybeans, and in the Black Sea region. In addition, scars of the recent trade war remain. Tariffs are still in place and will be a challenge the Biden administration will eventually have to deal with, said Joseph Glauber, a former USDA chief economist. The new president will also have to tackle issues such as intellectual property and business practices, which remain on the table. “The issue has never really been about agricultural trade,” said Glauber. “The bigger issues have been outside of agriculture, and I think those are going to be the tough ones. So, we will see. Vilsack was generally regarded as a successful ag secretary with strong links to the industry built up over the years. However, the agency now has much stronger social goals that also will be challenging and increasingly important. The new administration's efforts across a range of issues should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


USDA Food Box Program Running Out Of Funds Early USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box program was scheduled to run through December 31, but the effort has already run out of funds or will soon be depleted in several areas of the country, according to a report in the Washington Post. The $4.5 billion program was run in four installments—$1.2 billion in the first round, $1.76 billion in the second round, $1 billion in the third round and the final round totaled $500 million. The final round for November and December did result in some non-profits being unable to participate or they received fewer food box deliveries. The effort was launched in May and provided foods to families including fresh vegetables, meat, cheese/dairy products, and other items. It is not clear that the effort will be resurrected via either additional congressional funding or by the incoming Biden administration. The Trump administration had previously proposed a food box effort in its budget submissions to Congress relative to food and nutrition program efforts, a concept that many Democrats derided at the time. But the track record for the program could bring a rethink of the effort as it more directly links consumers and farmers, utilizing non-profits to distribute the boxes. The effort has received mixed reviews in the food industry.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


USTR Formally Announces Action on Canada Dairy TRQs U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer formally announced the U.S. is exercising its rights under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to address measures adopted by the Government of Canada that are contrary to the provisions of the agreement and harm U.S. dairy farmers. Specifically, the United States is challenging Canada's allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas (TRQs). By setting aside and reserving a percentage of each dairy TRQ exclusively for processors, USTR said, “Canada has undermined the ability of American dairy farmers and producers to utilize the agreed-upon TRQs and sell a wide range of dairy products to Canadian consumers.” Lighthizer said the measures undertaken by Canada “violate its commitments” under USMCA. “We are disappointed that Canada's policies have made this first ever enforcement action under the USMCA necessary to ensure compliance with the agreement,” Lighthizer said in a statement. The notice to Canada was given to Canada's Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng via a letter. If the two sides cannot resolve the issue via consultations, USTR said the U.S. “may request the establishment of a USMCA dispute settlement panel to examine the matter.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets As usual, Thursday morning is busy with weekly export sales, weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST. The U.S. Labor Department will also have a report on consumer prices in November at the same time. The U.S. Energy Department reports on natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. USDA presents its December WASDE report at 11 a.m. CST, followed by a Treasury Department report on the November federal budget at 1 p.m. CST. Weather Dry conditions are in store for all primary crop areas Thursday. A storm system bringing rain and snow to the southwestern U.S. will move into the southern Plains Friday with late-week rain and snow.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


Washington Insider: A British Mystery - 50 Billion Pounds is Missing The New York Times is reporting this week with some interest that while the economic turmoil wrought by the coronavirus pandemic is leaving some people in Britain counting every penny, the country's central bank is apparently having trouble keeping track of billions of pounds. A parliamentary report released last Friday said that 50 billion pounds (about $67 billion) of paper money is “missing” from the country's cash supply and that the Bank of England “seems to lack curiosity” about where it's gone. Of the more than 70 billion pounds worth of bills in circulation in Britain, the report found that only about a quarter was being spent in stores and on other purchases. That leaves the majority of the bills — which by design are not traceable — unaccounted for. The 50 billion pounds in cash may be hidden away in unreported household savings, squirreled away for a rainy day, or used for more nefarious purposes, Parliament's Public Accounts Committee said in the report, calling on the Bank of England to investigate. “50 billion of sterling notes — or about three-quarters of this precious and dwindling supply — is stashed somewhere, but the Bank of England doesn't know where, who by or what for—and doesn't seem very curious,” said Meg Hillier, the lawmaker for the Hackney South and Shoreditch areas of London and chair of the committee that produced the report. The Bank of England responded negatively to “the suggestion it was taking a laissez-faire approach to the issue.” “It is the responsibility of the Bank of England to meet public demand for bank notes. The bank has always met that demand and will continue to do so,” a spokeswoman from the central bank said last week. “Members of the public do not have to explain to the bank why they wish to hold bank notes. This means that bank notes are not missing,” the bank's statement said, somewhat oddly. The pandemic has led to a slump in cash payments, but demand for bills has risen in recent years and the pandemic has accelerated that trend, the report said. The value of paper (and polymer) bills in circulation in Britain hit a record high in July of 76.5 billion pounds. One reason might concern interest rates, which have been low for years, and were cut even further this year to boost the British economy. “With interest rates so low, it doesn't really matter whether you keep money in the bank or keep it in cash,” said Andrew Sentance, a senior adviser at Cambridge Econometrics and a former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee. The current base rate of 0.1 percent means “a lot of people will have more cash in their wallet than they usually have.” Still, the public accounts committee — which scrutinizes the economy and spending—is unconvinced by that explanation and is concerned that a substantial proportion of the 50 billion pounds has been siphoned off and is being used for illegal activity such as money laundering in the shadow economy, whether in Britain or abroad. “Are more of us putting money under the mattress because of COVID? It would have to be a lot of us doing that,” Hillier said in an interview on Friday. She added that the gap between notes in circulation and those actually being used “must be linked to crime.” The parliamentary committee hopes an investigation by the Bank of England may shed some light, if not on where it is being held, then at least on the factors behind the increase in demand for cash. For its part, the Bank of England said the amount of paper money being used for transactions in Britain — around 20% to 25 % of all cash in circulation — was broadly in line with other major economies. So, we will see. The British economy is under significant stress just now as it prepares for its exit from the EU, a shift with far from clear implications. In addition, the COVID fight certainly is another area of uncertainty, along with the U.S. election. Thus, U.S. producers should follow the results of this investigation closely for possible impacts on the U.S. economy as it completes its transition to a new administration with new people and policies this fall, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


Canada Pushes Back On US Contentions On Dairy Policy The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) informed Canada on Monday it will file enforcement action over its rules for U.S. dairy imports. Canada said it is fully within its rights to apply tariff-rate quotas (TRQs), which follow the rules laid out in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade pact that went into effect in July. “Canada's administration of its dairy TRQs is in full compliance with its commitments under the new NAFTA,” Youmy Han, spokesperson for Canada's Trade Minister Mary Ng, said. “Our government will always stand up for our dairy farmers and a strong supply management system in Canada, which ensures the viability of our family farms and the vitality of our rural areas.” Canada has 15 days to engage regarding any complaints about perishable items, such as milk, and 30 days to respond for other products. If the countries fail to reach a deal through consultations, the complainant can request the creation of a dispute settlement panel to examine the issue. USTR had yet to formally confirm the actions as of late Tuesday, but responses from the Canadian government indicate the process must be getting underway.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


US Ag Exports Surge Over $15 Billion For October U.S. agricultural exports totaled $15.13 billion in October, the start of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, up $2.9 billion from September (23.7%), according to data from USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS). That would be the third highest monthly export total based on records dating back to the mid-1970s. The value of ag imports reached $11.62 billion for October, up $665 million from September and resulted in an ag trade surplus for the month of $3.52 billion. USDA is currently forecasting U.S. ag exports in FY 2021 to reach $152 billion and imports at a record $137 billion. In FY 2020, U.S. ag exports were $135.9 billion against record imports of $133.3 billion for a trade surplus of just $2.65 billion. USDA expects the FY 2021 ag trade surplus to surge to $15 billion on the back of strong exports as the forecast import level would notch a new record. USDA's current forecast for FY 2021 would imply average monthly exports of $12.67 billion and imports of $11.42 billion. The October result on exports marks only the third month that U.S. ag exports have been $15 billion or more based on history going back to the 1970s. The other two months were in October 2013 ($15.18 billion) and November 2013 ($15.82 billion). October and November tend to be the largest monthly totals for U.S. ag exports. As for imports, the highest monthly values do not typically come until the March-May period, tending to be above the October and November monthly totals in each of the last several fiscal years.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Much like Tuesday, Wednesday will find traders paying attention to the latest weather forecasts for South America and looking up at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. The U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly energy inventory report, including ethanol production at 9:30 a.m. CST. Weather Mostly dry weather is expected across the primary growing regions for Wednesday, though some showers will move through the Pacific Northwest and across the Canadian border. Temperatures will be above normal again across almost all of the country except for the East Coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


Vilsack Rumored as Top Choice for Second Round as Ag Secretary Politico is reporting that Tom Vilsack may be Joe Biden’s number one choice for Secretary of Agriculture. However, the article also says the final decision isn’t made yet. The Hagstrom report quotes a source with ties to Vilsack, saying, “I think this is still very much in flux.” Vilsack was the ag secretary for eight years when Barack Obama held the Oval Office and Biden was his vice president. Vilsack is the current CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. His tenure as ag secretary was during a period of record farm income and record export numbers. His Deputy Secretary, Kathleen Merrigan, spearheaded the Know Your Farm, Know Your Food Initiative. Vilsack’s USDA helped with the passage of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which resulted in rules requiring higher quality meals at U.S. schools. Vilsack also encouraged farm groups to come together on an agreement on the labeling of foods that contained genetically modified ingredients. Progressives oppose Vilsack getting another chance at the job, saying he’s “too close to agribusiness.” More mainstream farm groups have mostly stayed out of the debate over Biden’s choice for ag secretary, but many in the past praised Vilsack’s work. ********************************************************************************************** Pork Exports Show Broad Gains in October U.S. pork exports posted broad-based gains during October, solidifying 2020’s record pace. That’s according to USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Pork exports rose eight percent year-over-year to 242,536 metric tons, with the value also increasing eight percent to just over $641 million. Exports to Mexico, Japan, China/Hong Kong, Canada, and the Philippines were substantially higher than a year ago. Shipments to Central and South America were the largest they’ve been since March. October beef exports were down slightly from last year at 107,591 MT, a .4 percent drop. The October value was $646 million, down .5 percent. However, exports to China set another new record, and volumes were above year-ago levels to Japan, Taiwan, Central America, and Africa. “While the tight labor situation continues to limit the cut and variety meat specifications available for export, red meat demand is strengthening in many critical markets,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “The U.S. industry is responding positively to many challenges, and the demand dynamics for red meat are quite strong as we approach the end of 2020.” Additionally, Halstrom says when the gains made at the retail level over the past several months are combined with a stronger foodservice industry recovery, the prospects for export growth are promising. *****************************************t***************************************************** U.S. Grains Council Issues Corn Harvest Quality Report The 2020-2021 U.S. corn crop is entering market channels as 2020 comes to a close. The U.S. Grains Council’s Corn Harvest Quality Report says the crop has a higher average test weight, lower moisture, and lower total damage relative to each quality factor’s average of the previous five crops. While wet weather in April and May contributed to historic delays in planting and crop maturity in 2019, the 2020 corn crop was planted slightly ahead of the average pace of the previous five crops and experienced generally favorable conditions during the remainder of the growing season. “That resulted in both high grain quality and yield,” the report says. This year’s crop showed a higher test weight than the 2019 and five-year average results. It showed a lower average of broken corn and foreign material than last year. There was lower average total damage than in 2019 and the five-year average, as well as lower than average moisture content than 2019 and the last five years. The crop also showed higher-than-average protein concentration, lower average stress cracks, and lower average 100-kernel weight. “We offer this report to help buyers make well-informed decisions by providing reliable and timely information about the quality of the U.S. crop,” says USGC Chair Jim Raben. ************************************************************************************ Chick-fil-A Sues Chicken Producers for Price-Fixing Fast-food chain Chick-fil-A is suing a number of the biggest chicken suppliers in the country, accusing them of keeping prices artificially high. The suit names 17 defendants, including Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, and Sanderson Farms. NBC News says Christopher Leonard, a business reporter who has investigated the poultry industry, points out that the suit means that the “retail side of the chicken industry is at war with the producers. If the chain’s suppliers aren’t following the basic principles of capitalism and competition, Chick-fil-A customers are paying more for a lower-quality product.” Chick-fil-A announced that it would begin serving antibiotic-free chicken at its restaurants in five years, and the suit alleges shortly after that took place, “a number of the defendants communicated via phone and text message to share and coordinate confidential bidding and pricing information,” details that came to light after a Justice Department investigation of the industry. The suit accuses chicken producers of using a spreadsheet called AgriStats to engage in bid-rigging in an “unlawful conspiracy” to ensure that chicken prices were artificially raised. ********************************************************************************************** Organic Farmers Association Launching Interactive Educational Calendar The Organic Farmers Association is launching a National Clearinghouse for Organic Farmer Education that highlights the online education available to organic farmers across the country. The Organic Farmers Association is implementing the clearinghouse at the beginning of the winter conference season when farmers typically attend their state or regional organic farm conferences in person. But because of COVID-19, many of those conferences have shifted to an online platform. “OFA member-organizations have exceptional educational programs, and we’ve put all of these opportunities in one interactive national calendar,” says OFA Director Kate Mendenhall. “COVID-19 has provided a few silver linings, and universal online education is one of those. Now farmers have incredible access to innovative organic farmers from the entire country.” David Colson, President of the OFA and a Maine organic farmer, says, “This is an opportunity for farmers to attend their regular conference and a conference they may have always dreamed about but haven’t had the time or travel budget to make it happen.” Organic farmers can view the online calendar by visiting the National Clearinghouse for Organic Farmer Education at www.OrganicFarmersAssociation.org/events. ********************************************************************************************** Chinese Hog Producer Trying to Build World’s Largest Pig Farm One of China’s top pig producers, Muyuan (My-YOU-ahn) Foods, is trying to raise more hogs on a single site than any company in the world. Reuters says it’s a risky investment as African Swine Fever still lingers in the country. The company began building the farm back in March and started operations at the first of 21 new buildings in September. It’s symbolic of how fast huge industrial hog facilities are replacing smaller, more traditional farms. Many of the smaller operations were wiped out by the worst animal disease outbreak in history. Corporate farms weren’t spared from ASF, but as prices rose again, they quickly recovered their losses. The company’s newest mega-farm will eventually house close to 84,000 sows and their offspring, by far the largest in the world. That’s roughly ten times the size of a breeding facility in the U.S. The company says its goal is to produce about 2.1 million pigs per year. Muyuan will spend about 40 billion yuan this year on new pig farms.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


Ag Banks Trim Farm Lending Farm loans outstanding at commercial banks declined in the third quarter and non-performing loans edged slightly higher. The Kansas City Federal Reserve says reduced lending at agricultural banks contributed most significantly to the further decline in outstanding loan balances. Alongside lower farm debt levels, delinquency rates on agricultural loans continued to trend higher at a gradual pace. Most of the recent decrease was driven by non-real estate loans, which were nearly five percent less than the previous year, the largest drop in more than 15 years. Farmland loans also decreased for the second consecutive quarter and at a faster pace than the previous quarter. The combined pullback in both loan types led to the largest decline in overall farm debt in any quarter since the late 1980s. Although the overall rate of non-performing farm loans increased, loan quality remained higher at agricultural banks. Difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on farm lending and loan performance, but government programs also may have offset some borrowing needs and supported financial conditions for farmers. ************************************************************************************ E15 Poised to Fast-Track Climate Progress Growth Energy Monday released a new report examining the potential climate benefits of a nationwide transition from the standard ten-percent ethanol blended fuel to a 15-percent ethanol blend. The report was authored by Air Improvement Resource, Inc., a leading research firm in the area of mobile source emissions modeling and technology, at the request of Growth Energy. Based on the analysis, Growth Energy estimates that if the United States transitioned from E10 to E15 in the nation for 2001 and later model year vehicles, GHG emissions would decline 17.62 million tons per year, which is the equivalent of removing approximately 3.85 million vehicles from the road. Marketed to consumers as Unleaded 88, E15 is approved by the EPA for all light-duty vehicles model year 2001 and later, which is 95 percent of the vehicle fleet on the road today. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, "the evidence is clear that higher biofuel blends will play a vital role in America's clean energy future." ************************************************************************************ NMPF Urges USDA to Extend DMC Signup Deadline The National Milk Producers Federation urges the Department of Agriculture to extend signup for the 2021 Dairy Margin Coverage to January 30, 2021. The extension, NMPF says, allows dairy farmers to make better-informed choices while giving both milk producers and USDA staff strained by coronavirus-related challenges additional time to communicate. The current signup deadline of this Friday, December 11, remains in place while USDA considers the request. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says extending the DMC deadline to the end of next month "will allow farmers to better focus on the turbulent marketing environment we now expect to see in 2021, once we are through the upcoming holiday season." DMC, the main federal risk-protection tool for dairy farmers, is projected to support producers enrolled at the maximum $9.50 per hundredweight coverage level through at least the first half of 2021, as volatile market conditions are expected to persist well into next year. ************************************************************************************ AFBF Stands-Up for Farmers in Predatory Shakedown The American Farm Bureau Federation is standing-up for hundreds of dairy farmers being targeted by predatory lawyers representing the estate of Dean Foods. The organization says Dean Foods, currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, has sent letters to nearly 500 dairy farmers who once sold milk to Dean Foods threatening legal action unless they refund money earned before the bankruptcy filing. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, "Shame on these predatory lawyers for bullying dairy farmers at a time when many are struggling to keep their farms running." AFBF sent a letter to the law firm managing the Dean Foods estate calling for an immediate reversal of their so-called "predatory shakedown" and threatening potential legal action if the firm fails to withdraw the letters sent to farmers. In the letter, AFBF says the letters sent to farmers "are deceptive and constitute an abuse of process that attempts to extract funds that Dean Foods is not entitled to under the threat of a lawsuit." ************************************************************************************ RJ Karney Named head of NASDA Public Policy The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture recently announced RJ Karney as its Senior Director of Public Policy. Karney comes from the American Farm Bureau Federation, most recently serving as a Congressional Relations Director. Karney will serve as the strategic leader of NASDA's public policy team during what the organization calls a period of significant growth and change for NASDA, the U.S. government, and American agriculture. NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn says, "RJ's highly reputable talent and experience in government relations will bring needed leadership to NASDA as we tackle our new strategic plan." Karney says, "NASDA will be at the table for farmers and ranchers as we create relationships with a new Administration and new Congress." Karney holds a Master of Public Policy from George Mason University and a bachelor's degree in history from the Catholic University of America. NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association representing the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. ************************************************************************************ Missouri Farm Bureau Elects Youngest State Farm Bureau President Missouri Farm Bureau Federation members elected Garrett Hawkins as its next President, taking the reins from long-time outgoing president Blake Hurst. As noted by Agri-Pulse, Hawkins becomes the youngest state farm bureau president at 40. Over the weekend, the organization elected Hawkins over Vice President Todd Hays and USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce. Hawkins has deep roots within Missouri Farm Bureau. He served as a Youth Ambassador and was active in Collegiate Farm Bureau at Missouri State University. He also served as a summer legislative intern for the organization before leading its national lobbying efforts and policy development process for nearly 15 years as the director of national legislative programs. From 2017 to 2019, Hawkins served as deputy director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Hawkins says, "Our family made this decision together and we intend to serve together, adding, "We believe strongly in the grassroots mission of this organization and look forward to serving its members over the next two years."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Jobs Report Without Silver Lining The New York Times, along with other urban media, are reporting that the most recent jobs report is bad news — and that the November numbers offer some clues that what was once temporary unemployment is becoming more permanent. The Times thinks the bad news in the November jobs numbers isn't in the rate of job creation, though that was pretty bad. Employers added only 245,000 positions last month, and even if you adjust for the one-time effects of temporary Census jobs being eliminated, it would take 29 more months to return to February employment levels at that rate of job creation. But at least there is good reason to expect those numbers to improve once coronavirus vaccines are widely available. The thing that is most worrying, the Times says, is what seems to be happening among the people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. The report offers clues that what was once temporary unemployment is becoming more permanent — in ways that, if unchecked, could do long-term damage to millions of families and to the economic potential of the United States. Although the unemployment rate fell last month, to 6.7% from 6.9%, it was for the worst of reasons: many Americans gave up even looking for work. The number of adults not in the labor force — neither working nor actively seeking work — rose by 560,000, as the labor force participation rate dropped by 0.2 percentage points. The share of prime working-age Americans working — those between 25 and 54 — was unchanged in November at 76% and remains far below its 80.5% share in February. The number of people who are not in the labor force but say they want a job is 2.2 million higher than it was in February. In addition, a growing share of the unemployed have been out of work for a long time. The number of Americans unemployed for more than 27 weeks rose by 385,000 in November. Since only September, the number of these long-term unemployed is up by 1.5 million people — a 64% increase. Together those numbers form what NYT calls a “clear pattern”: many people who lost jobs in the spring have been without work continuously since then, and some of them have given up looking. A central lesson of the grinding recovery that followed the 2008-09 recession is that these prolonged periods of unemployment (actively seeking a job) or nonemployment (not working, and also not looking) have long-term effects. Even as the economy recovered, people had experienced various forms of damage. Some people's skills became outdated. But more generally, many just lost a sense of attachment to the work force. It's much harder to find a job when you've been out of work for years than when you've been on a short-term layoff. In that recession, the share of prime-age Americans who were employed did not return to its January 2008 level until August 2019! When economists talk about what a slow, disappointing expansion that was, this is a big part of what they are referring to, NYT says. There is a good chance to avoid that fate in the recovery from the pandemic. A quick snapback in employment after widespread vaccination is possible in 2021, and it could pull many of those long-term unemployed and non-employed back into the work force quickly, after only a year or so of detachment from the rhythms of work life. This is normally the point in analyzing bad jobs reports where one points out silver linings — those little reasons for optimism that are hiding if you know where to look. However, this month, they are hard to find, the Times thinks. The data in the new numbers are based on employment levels in the week of Nov. 8-14. Various real-time data sources point to a softening in economic activity since then, as coronavirus infections have risen and the weather has turned colder, limiting outdoor dining and retail options. December employment numbers could well be worse. For a slight hint of optimism, one of the big categories of job loss that dragged down the November numbers will probably reverse. Retailers cut about 35,000 jobs, according to the official numbers, which are adjusted for the typical seasonal patterns. But if you ignore those seasonal adjustments, the sector added 302,000 jobs — stores did do holiday hiring, just less than past experience would have predicted. The good news, such as it is, is that in January this pattern should reverse itself, creating an apparent employment surge when seasonal adjustments are applied. In a miserable season for American workers, this is what counts as a cause for optimism: The people who weren't hired as temporary help at retailers this holiday season won't lose their jobs in January. But the real hope for 2021 is that enough unemployed and non-employed Americans can come back to work quickly enough that the long-lasting effects of the last scarring downturn can be prevented from recurring. So, we will see. There is hope that the struggle for yet another stimulus package will lead Congress to provide some early winter assistance, and experts say that could help — and progress toward effective vaccines does seem promising. Clearly, these are trends producers should follow closely as the annual spending package continues to be debated, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


OMB Completes Review of USDA Final Rule On Packers And Stockyards Act Actions The Office of Management and Budget has wrapped up its review of a final rule from USDA on Undue and Unreasonable Preferences and Advantages under the Packers and Stockyards Act. The plan was sent to OMB in August, the original goal that USDA had released for the final rule to be completed. This final rule will amend the regs under the Packers and Stockyards Act by adding new regulations that specify the criteria that can be considered in determining whether conduct or action by packers, swine contractors, or live poultry dealers constitutes an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage and a violation of the Act. However, as with any rules that comes from the Trump administration at this point, they could be subject to revision by a Biden administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


Watch on Ag Trade Issues Dairy is expected to become the first enforcement action under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), with reports indicating U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to possibly announce the action this week. Dairy interests and several lawmakers have pressed the administration to take action on how Canada has implemented its quotas on dairy. The action could be a request for consultations which would be the first step under USMCA dispute process. Under the provisions, Canada would have 15 days to respond relative to perishable items and 30 days for non-perishable items. Meanwhile, a U.S.-Brazil trade deal is also awaited. The U.S. and Brazil On September 14 set a 90-day timeline for the two countries to negotiate on issues involving ethanol, sugar and corn trade. The 90-day timeline would be reached December 14. If the two sides cannot find an agreement, then Brazilian tariffs on imports of U.S. ethanol would rise.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders will continue to keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts for South America and pause at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. Tuesday's only official report is for U.S. productivity in the third quarter. Weather Dry weather will occur over the main crop areas on Tuesday along with temperatures mostly above normal. This will favor any non-dormant wheat in the Midwest but stress non-dormant wheat in the southwestern Plains as soil moisture continues to be lacking.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


Scott Makes History as First African American Chair of House Ag Committee Congressman David Scott of Georgia made history last Thursday by officially being named the first African American Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. The Democratic Caucus approved him to lead the Committee that oversees American agriculture, forestry, nutrition, and rural development. “I’m honored to be chosen by my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus to serve as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee,” says Scott. “I will use this historic opportunity to represent the values of our entire caucus and advance our priorities on trade, disaster aid, climate change, sustainable agriculture, SNAP, crop insurance, small family farms, specialty crops, and rural broadband.” Scott also says the fault lines between rural and urban communities are running deep and will “lead the fight” to rise and meet the challenges. Scott has been in Congress and a member of the House Agriculture Committee since 2003. In his various leadership roles on the House Ag Committee, Scott has chaired the Subcommittees on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit, as well as Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. The new House Ag Chair grew up working on his grandparents’ farm and understands the critical role ag plays in the nation’s economy. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Ag Groups Congratulate Scott American agricultural groups congratulated Georgia Congressman David Scott on officially being named Chairman of the House Ag Committee. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “Scott’s legislative experience, a childhood working on his grandparents’ farm, and being the first African American chosen to lead the committee all give him a unique perspective needed to tackle rural America’s challenges.” Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union, says, “Representative Scott has been a member of the House Ag Committee for the past 18 years and has garnered a reputation for bipartisanship.” National Chicken Council President Mike Brown is pleased that Scott is the first Georgia House member to hold the top spot. “As a committee veteran and long-time member of the Congressional Chicken Caucus, he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of agricultural issues to the chairmanship.” The outgoing House Ag Chair, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, says, “David Scott knows very well the impact the Committee’s work has on the lives of farmers, ranchers, rural residents, and consumers in communities across the country. I’m confident U.S. agriculture is in good and capable hands.” ************************************************************************************ Peterson Would Consider Ag Secretary Post, Introduces Bill on CRP Outgoing House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson tells the Hagstrom Report he’s not currently job hunting. However, he has offered to assist Joe Biden in setting up his agriculture policy. Peterson spoke to reporters during a news conference about a bill he introduced to make an additional 25 million acres available over the next five years for general Conservation Reserve Program signup. Instead of a cap on the program, the bill establishes a minimum requirement of 50 million CRP acres around the nation. The signup cap is currently 27 million acres. When questioned about his potential interest in becoming USDA Ag Secretary, Peterson responded with, “I’m going to back whoever he picks. It’s not my job to pick the next Ag Secretary.” Peterson says he’s been “in the saddle” of public life for more than four decades. During a recent hunting trip with his children, they told him he “seems like a different person.” Peterson says his emotions surrounding the election are mixed, and that’s he’s not looking for a full-time, four-year job. He did tell the transition team in Washington, D.C., that he was willing to consider helping with the agricultural transition. “There are plenty of good people out there who could be the next secretary,” Peterson adds. ********************************************************************************************** NCGA Asking Farmers to Contact Congress on Next Generation Fuels Act The National Corn Growers Association is continuously looking for new and creative ways to build demand for corn through the development of new products and markets. Since 2005, NCGA says the Renewable Fuels Standard has helped promote both energy independence and a stable U.S. economy. The Next Generation Fuels Act, or H.R. 8371, is the next step in corn farmers’ efforts to build on the success of the RFS to continue growing the role of low-carbon, affordable, and renewable ethanol in the fuel supply. NCGA says not only does the legislation yield economic benefits for rural America, but it also results in commonsense environmental benefits. Congress will adjourn in mid-December, so this week is a critical time to raise awareness and build additional support for the Next Generation Fuels Act. Farmers and industry stakeholders who contact Congress now will help set the stage for the legislation to be reintroduced and considered in the new Congress in 2021. Corn farmers can learn more about the benefits of transitioning the fuel supply to high octane fuel at ncga.com/octane. ********************************************************************************************** Soybean Association, Business Groups Ask Congress to Overturn IRS Notice The American Soybean Association and 564 business groups called on Congress to overturn IRS Notice 2020-32 and allow Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness to be entirely tax-free. Although the Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security Act included a provision stating that any portion of a PPP loan that qualified for loan forgiveness “shall be excluded from gross income” for tax purposes, the IRS later issued a notice which specified that “no deduction is allowed under the Internal Revenue Code if the payment of the expense results in forgiveness of a covered loan under section 1106b of the CARES Act.” This ruling was enacted after PPP loans became available and were distributed, and it transforms tax-free loan forgiveness into taxable income. In a letter to Congressional leadership, the groups highlighted the sense of urgency to reverse the IRS ruling before the end of the year to prevent a potentially significant tax increase on small business owners who applied for and spent their PPP loans before the notice came out. Many of those business owners are still struggling with government-mandated shutdowns or slowdowns. *****************************************t***************************************************** Registration Open for Farm Bureau Virtual Convention The American Farm Bureau Federation officially opened up the registration period for the 2021 American Farm Bureau Virtual Convention on January 10-13. For the first time in history, the group waived all registration fees to give all Farm Bureau members, as well as anyone interested in agriculture, the opportunity to experience one of agriculture’s premier events from the comfort and safety of home. “We are excited to open up the doors of this event and to bring home the high-quality content our attendees have come to expect from our events,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “Our featured speakers this year are no strangers to Farm Bureau.” Duvall says they’re honored to have Mike Rowe of the hit tv series Dirty Jobs and his newest show called Returning the Favor. He’ll join the virtual convention as the special guest during a fireside chat in the closing general session. Land O’ Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford will also join the convention to talk about hot topics and issues facing agriculture. The event also features an inspirational keynote address from Navy Seal Commander Rorke T. Denver.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


Washington Insider: The Tax Mess from Working at Home Politico is reporting this week that lawmakers are pushing to sort out a tax mess created by millions of people working from home during the coronavirus pandemic — amid rising fears that Congress will fail to reach a solution before tax filing season. People who've been working in a state different from the one in which they normally work face potentially nasty headaches when they do their taxes next year, thanks to uncertainty over who should get their local tax dollars, Politico said. Many lawmakers now want Congress to intervene to create a clear, uniform rule as part of their latest coronavirus relief efforts. The clock is ticking with next year's tax filing season set to begin later next month. It's yet another coronavirus problem in Congress' lap, though it hasn't gotten as much attention as others have. Usually, states tax people based on where they live or where they work. But what happens when someone who normally works in an office in one state has spent the past nine months working from home in another? That's hardly unusual in large cities whose metropolitan areas spill across borders. And with businesses increasingly comfortable with employees working elsewhere, some have decamped to vacation homes in other states. It's even an issue within some states, with fights over whether cities should continue imposing commuter taxes on suburbanites who no longer have commutes. States have been all over the map on how to deal with those situations, with border wars breaking out in some places. New Hampshire is suing Massachusetts, asking the US Supreme Court to strike down a Bay State rule that says people who usually work in Boston are still subject to its taxes even if they're working from home in southern New Hampshire. “Massachusetts claims the authority to tax New Hampshire residents who earn their incomes from activities they undertake solely within New Hampshire,” the suit complains, calling the move unconstitutional. In other places, it's a nonissue. In the Washington, D.C., area, for example, neighboring governments have longstanding pacts not to tax one another's residents regardless of where they work. Polling shows many taxpayers are unaware of the looming problems, but some people could end up being double taxed by states. At the same time, some taxpayers now working in lower-tax states than the ones in which they normally work may spy an opportunity to save on their tax bills — which has many employers worried. Most companies have continued to withhold state taxes from their employees' paychecks from the same place they always have, but some worry their workers will ask them to redo their tax forms so they can file somewhere else. Congress normally steers clear of state tax issues, but Senate Republicans have called for a national fix as part of their draft of another coronavirus stimulus plan. Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said that “the need to fix the remote and mobile worker tax issue existed long before the pandemic began, but the urgency to address it has grown exponentially this year.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also has said she wants to address the issue. But Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is key because the issue is especially touchy for New York which is “famously assertive about its right to tax visitors. The state's budget relies heavily on taxes paid by nonresidents — they represent about 15% of its entire revenue take. More than half of that, about $3.7 billion, is paid by New Jersey residents. “It's a huge issue for New York,” said EJ McMahon, a senior fellow at the Empire Center for Public Policy. “It has the most to lose from any attempt to restrict the current arrangement.” The state already has a longstanding rule to deal with people who have offices there but are actually working beyond its borders. It essentially says that if someone is elsewhere because it's convenient for them — rather than because it's demanded by their job—then they are subject to New York taxes. The rule was adopted decades ago. In Congress, lawmakers have considered various proposals, but many want to adopt a temporary rule that simply says people should continue to be taxed as they were before the pandemic began. That would seem to hold New York harmless, but it has a less obvious, risk: It could become a precedent that might come back to haunt the state. That's because it would be highly unusual for the federal government to tell states how to tax people and lawmakers have been battling for years over how states tax mobile workers. So if Schumer agrees to a narrow coronavirus-specific fix now, that would underscore that such issues are fair game for Congress — which could provide ammunition later to lawmakers like Thune who've been pushing broader, more permanent changes that could curtail New York's power to tax nonresidents. So, we will see. This is yet another important topic that is being added to the already long list of emergency issues arising from COVID. Since they often turn out to be tougher than expected, they should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


FMCSA Clarifies Agricultural Commodity Definition In Hours-Of-Service (HOS) Regulations The US Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published an interim final rule (IFR) on Nov. 19 that clarifies the definition of “agricultural commodity” in the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. Currently, drivers transporting agricultural commodities are exempt from the HOS requirements within a 150-air-mile radius from the origin (source of the commodity) to the destination during harvesting and planting seasons. The rulemaking is intended to ensure proper enforcement of the HOS exemption. The interim final rule is effective Dec. 9, 2020. Comments and petitions for reconsideration of the IFR can be submitted by Dec. 24, 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


CRP Acreage Total Declines More Than Expected The level of acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as of October is at 20.76 million acres, down from 21.9 million acres as of September. This is a smaller total than had been expected based on the combination of contract expirations and new enrollments under the most recent general CRP signup and the continuous CRP efforts. Expectation had been that the combination of contract expirations and new enrollments would have put acreage at around 21.6 million acres. Based on data from USDA, the difference appears to be that not all the acres approved for enrollment under the general signup 54 and the CRP Grasslands signup were actually enrolled. USDA said that 3.4 million acres had been approved for enrollment via the general signup, but through October, only 2.87 million acres had been enrolled. Of the 1.2 million acres that had been approved for enrollment in the CRP Grasslands effort, only 910,266 acres had been enrolled through October. It is not clear if the smaller-than-expected acreage enrollments from the general signup and the Grasslands effort reflects delayed reporting of contracts starting or whether growers actually opted not to follow through with their enrollment intentions.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Of course, DTN is watching and listening to excellent speakers on a wide variety of ag topics at DTN's Ag Summit, December 7 through 9. Traders are still paying attention to the latest weather forecasts and any export news that emerges. USDA's weekly report of grain inspections is at 10 a.m. CST and USDA no longer has Crop Progress reports until next spring. Weather Dry conditions will cover all primary crop areas Monday. Temperatures will be above to much above normal in northern areas and mostly below normal south. The drier trend favors remaining harvest, transportation and livestock.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


Dairy Margin Coverage Program Signup Numbers are Low Despite Benefits The signup deadline for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program is coming up on December 11th, and the American Farm Bureau says the number of dairy operations signed up is lower than expected. So far, 7,846 operations have enrolled in the program, covering about 64 billion pounds of milk. Those numbers account for just under one-third of the total number of U.S. operations and the total volume of milk. Approximately 68 percent of the country’s licensed operations with established production histories have not signed up for the program. Next year’s 7,846 operations enrolled is more than 23,000 fewer operations than signed up in 2019, when 13,468 dairy farms enrolled in the program. The drop in 2020’s dairy enrollments was due in part to somewhat positive expectations for the dairy industry going into 2020. The low level of signups just days before the deadline is surprising, given the benefits of enrolling for 2021. A rally in commodity prices may be helpful to many farmers, but it does make feed costs higher for dairy producers. The rising price of feed will squeeze the margins of dairy farmers, and that should make programs like the DMC more attractive to producers. Coverage is available from as low as $4 per hundredweight to as much as $9.50 per hundredweight. ********************************************************************************************** Grain Standards Reauthorization Heads to White House Outgoing Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow applauded the House of Representatives passage of the U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020. The legislation is ready to be signed into law. The U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 passed out of the Senate Ag Committee in June and the full Senate in November. “I’m pleased the 2020 Grain Standards Reauthorization Act has quickly moved through both chambers of Congress to deliver certainty and predictability to the federal grain inspection system,” says Roberts. “I’m hopeful President Trump swiftly signs this legislation into law to ensure America can uphold its reputation as a dependable exporter of quality grain.” Stabenow also says the legislation provides much-needed stability. “Now, more than ever, we must provide certainty for farmers,” she says. “We are one step closer to enacting this bipartisan legislation and protecting our credibility as a reliable producer of high-quality crops.” The Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 has broad agricultural industry support from both national and state agriculture groups. Outgoing House Ag Chair Collin Peterson says, “American grain farmers participate in a competitive world, and foreign grain buyers should be confident in our inspection process.” ************************************************************************************ Biden: Democrats Forgot Rural America President-elect Joe Biden told the New York Times this week that Democrats “forgot” about rural America. However, in the same interview, he says that residents of rural America will “not be left behind.” Biden talked about the future efforts of Democrats to win the support of rural American residents and the 74 million people who voted for Trump in the election. “You know, it really does go to the issue of dignity, how you treat people,” Biden says. “I think those people feel forgotten. I think we forgot them.” While Democrats claimed the cities and suburbs to capture the Oval Office, the party fell even further behind in large parts of northern battleground states. Dems lost House seats in the Midwest, while Democrats once considered serious challengers to Republican incumbents in Iowa, Kansas, Montana, and North Carolina Senate races all lost. Fox News says continued losses in the country are putting pressure on Biden to reverse the trend, especially as failure to accomplish that will make it harder to meet his goals of curbing climate change. ********************************************************************************************** 2020 Farm Income Higher Due to Government Payments Net farm income, which is a broad measure of profits, is forecast to increase 36 billion dollars to $119.6 billion in 2020. Those numbers come from the USDA’s Economic Research Service. In inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars, net farm income is forecast to increase by 35 billion, the fourth-straight year the income numbers have gone up. If the prediction comes true, net farm income in 2020 in inflation-adjusted terms would be at its highest level since 2013 and 32 percent above the 2000-2019 average of $90.6 billion. However, cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to decrease by 3.2 billion dollars to $366.5 billion. Direct government farm payments are forecast at 46.5 billion dollars, an increase of $24 billion in nominal terms. Total production expenses, including operator dwelling costs, are forecast to decrease by 5.2 billion dollars to $343.6 billion in 2020. Interest expenses, livestock/poultry expenses, and oils/fuels costs are all expected to decline, but fertilizer costs and net rent to landlords are both expected to increase. The Economic Research Service says the predicted increase is due to the supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance for COVID-19 relief. ********************************************************************************************** Pennsylvania’s Thompson to Succeed Conaway as House Ag Ranking Member The Hagstrom Report says the full House Republican Conference ratified committee ranking members for the upcoming 117th Congress. Pennsylvania Representative Glenn “G.T.” Thompson is now the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says, “Congressman Thompson is ready to lead his colleagues on an issue he knows best. He comes from a family of dairy farmers, and has lived in rural Pennsylvania his whole life, so he understands what needs to get done to take American agriculture to the next level.” Thompson, who replaces the retiring Michael Conaway, says, “The challenges ahead of us are considerable, but we will continue to put farm families first.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane issued a statement praising the vote by the Republican Steering Committee. “Cattle producers in Pennsylvania and across the country are well represented by Congressman Thompson,” Lane says. “From his long-standing track record of bipartisan legislative victories to his work mentoring the next generation of agriculture leaders, ‘GT’ does it all.” Lane also says that the Pennsylvania Republican is an “exemplary choice” to guide the committee for years to come, and they are excited to work with him and his team in the next Congress. *****************************************t***************************************************** USDA Makes Improvements to Prevented Planting Coverage The USDA’s Risk Management Agency made improvements to its prevented planting coverage and to the beginning and veteran farmer and ranchers’ program that officially took effect on November 30th for the crop year 2021. These improvements were made to the Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions. “These improvements are the result of feedback from producer groups and other stakeholders,” says RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “These changes will improve prevented planting coverage and the beginning and veteran farmer and ranchers’ programs for years to come.” Improvements include expanding the “1 in 4” coverage requirement nationwide, which requires producers to plant, insure, and harvest acreage in at least one of the four most recent crop years. RMA is also making modifications to ensure that producers’ prevented planting payments adequately reflect the crops the producer intended to plant. The improvement to the beginning and veteran farmer and rancher program will allow participants with farming experience to use the Actual Production History of the previous producer, with permission, on newly acquired land. RMA is also authorizing additional flexibilities due to COVID-19 while continuing to support producers. More information is available at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Competition from Plant Based Meat Increasing It has been clear for some time that plant-based products aimed at current markets for meats are engaged in a serious battle for an extremely important part of U.S. producer incomes: those from the production of livestock. This week, the Guardian is reporting that cultured meat, produced in bioreactors without the slaughter of an animal, has been approved for sale by a regulatory authority for the first time. The development is being hailed as a landmark moment across the meat industry, the Guardian says. So called “chicken bites”, produced by the U.S. company Eat Just, have passed a safety review by the Singapore Food Agency and the approval could open the door to a future when large shares of meat are produced without the killing of livestock, the company said. Dozens of firms are developing cultivated chicken, beef and pork and claim to be slashing the impact of industrial livestock production on the global climate crises, as well as providing imitation meat products claimed to be “cleaner, drug-free and cruelty-free.” Currently, about 130 million chickens are slaughtered every day for meat, and 4 million hogs, the Guardian said. The cells for Eat Just's product are grown in a 1,200-litre bioreactor and then combined with plant-based ingredients. Initial availability will be limited, the company says, and the bites will be offered in a restaurant in Singapore. The product will be significantly more expensive than conventional chicken until production is scaled up, but Eat Just claims it will “ultimately be cheaper.” The cells used to start the process came from a cell bank and did not require the slaughter of live chickens. The nutrients supplied to the growing cells were all from plants. The growth medium for the Singapore production line includes bovine serum, which is extracted from fetal blood, the Guardian said, but “this is largely removed before consumption.” A plant-based serum is to be used in the next production line, the Eat Just company said, but was not available when the Singapore approval process began two years ago. The Guardian claims that “a series of scientific studies have shown that people in rich nations eat more meat than is healthy for them or the planet.” In addition, it argues that research shows cutting meat consumption is vital in tackling the climate crisis and “some scientists say this is the best single environmental action a person can take. The companies developing lab-grown meat believe their products are most likely to wean committed meat-eaters off traditional sources. Vegan diets are viewed as unappealing by some, and plant-based meat replacements are seen as more successful in replicating the texture and flavor of conventional meat. The small scale of current cultured meat production requires a relatively high use of energy and therefore carbon emissions. But once scaled up its manufacturers say it will produce much lower emissions and use far less water and land than conventional meat. Josh Tetrick, of Eat Just, said: “I think the approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry in the last handful of decades. It's an open door and it's up to us and other companies to take that opportunity. My hope is that this leads to a world in the next handful of years where the majority of meat doesn't require killing a single animal or tearing down a single tree.” But he said major challenges remained, with the reaction of consumers to cultured meat perhaps being the most significant: “Is it different? For sure. Our hope is through transparent communication with consumers, what this is and how it compares to conventional meat, we're able to win. But it's not a guarantee.” He said the cultured chicken was nutritionally the same as conventional meat. Other challenges included getting regulatory approval in other nations and increasing production. “If we want to serve the entire country of Singapore, and eventually bring it to elsewhere in the world, we need to move to 10,000-litre or 50,000-litre-plus bioreactors,” Tetrick said. A recent report from the global consultancy AT Kearney predicted that most meat in 2040 would not come from dead animals. The firm's Carsten Gerhardt said: “Approval in an innovation hotspot like Singapore already in 2020 could fast-forward market entry in other developed nations. In the long run we are convinced that cultured meat will address the health and environmental impact issues that traditional meat has when produced in a highly industrialized way.” Gerhardt also said he expected cultured meat would replace cuts of traditional meat, but that plant-based products, which will be less expensive, are more likely to replace burgers and sausages. “The [Eat Just approval] is a very big deal for the future of meat production globally,” said Bruce Friedrich, at the non-profit Good Food Institute in the U.S.. “A new space race for the future of food is under way.” He said cultivated meat is unlikely to become mainstream for some years, until it matched the cost of conventional meat. So, we will see. Conventional meat producers can be expected to take this new competition seriously, and to put up extended, well-funded fights over the coming years – efforts that likely will be both national and international in their focus and which should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


US Grain Standards Act Reauthorization Sent To Trump The House Wednesday cleared the United States Grain Standards Reauthorization Act (GSA) of 2020 (S 4054) under suspension of the rules, sending the plan to President Donald Trump for his signature. The legislation would reauthorize the GSA through September 30, 2025. Several groups hailed the passage of the legislation which the Senate had approved November 16. The reauthorization also included some changes, including that delegated state agencies to notify users of official inspection or weighing services at least 72 hours in advance of any intent to discontinue such services. It will also ensure that Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) user fees are directed solely to inspection and weighing services and FGIS will undertake a comprehensive review of the current boundaries for the officially designated grain inspection agencies in the domestic marketplace.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


DHS Issues Order For Cotton Products Made By China's XPCC U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at all U.S. points of entry will detail shipments of cotton and cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) via a Withhold Release Order (WRO) based on information that “reasonably indicates the use of forced labor, including convict labor,” according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency said the order applies to “all cotton and cotton products produced by the XPCC and its subordinate and affiliated entities as well as any products that are made in whole or in part with or derived from that cotton, such as apparel, garments, and textiles.” This marks the sixth action taken by the Trump administration's CBP relative to goods made by forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, DHS said. DHS Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said, the action was to make sure that those who are abuse human rights “are not allowed to manipulate our system in order to profit from slave labor. 'Made in China' is not just a country of origin it is a warning label.” He also said that the action could affect “billions of dollars” of imports when the action scales up. The administration in early July announced issued a Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory and the Department of Treasury July 11 announced that it had sanctioned XPCC and prohibited doing business directly with XPCC. China's Xinjiang produces 85% of China's cotton and DHS said that the actions thus far are not a region-wide blockade on cotton products from Xinjiang. But Cuccinelli said that XPCC is so prevalent in the region's economy that blocking products from the firm will be similar to a region-wide ban. “It is so massive that even though it appears that it's a single company, from our perspective it is equivalent to a regional WRO,” Cuccinelli said. Acting CPB Commissioner Mark Morgan said while the U.S. wants to target those using forced labor, they do not want to negatively impact entities that are not using forced labor. “That's why we are going to continue to investigate and we are not going to issue a region-wide WRO until we feel we can implement that correctly,” he noted. The U.S. textile industry has expressed concern about a region-wide ban as it would be difficult to determine which products from Xinjiang, and Morgan acknowledged CBP “shared those concerns.” But Cuccinelli warned that a region-wide ban is “definitely under consideration.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday morning reports include non-farm payrolls and the U.S. unemployment rate for November at 7:30 a.m. CST, along with the U.S. trade deficit from the Census Bureau. Using Census Bureau data, USDA will provide more specific export information later Friday morning. Traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts for South America and continue to look for the first export sale announcement in December. Weather Most crop areas will be dry Friday. Precipitation will focus in the Mid-South and Southeast with rain, while the Northeast has rain and snow. Drought is intensifying in the Northern Plains and continues to be extreme to exceptional in the western U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 3, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Stronger Outlook for Trade Bloomberg is reporting that in press interviews this week the president-elect indicated a “better than expected outlook for trade.” The report highlighted an interview first reported by the New York Times' Thomas Friedman that said that the transatlantic alliance fractured by President Trump's unilateral trade policies appeared headed for repair – as both President-elect Joe Biden and Europe signaled an urgency to rejoin a united front against China's ascendancy in the global economy. “The best China strategy, I think, is one which gets every one of our – or at least what used to be our – allies on the same page,” Biden was quoted as saying. “It's going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies.” Meanwhile, in Brussels, the European Union is making a sweeping proposal for cooperation with the incoming Biden administration to counter the influence of countries like China and Russia. “This combined power and influence is indispensable to anchor global cooperation in the 21st century,” the European Commission, the 27-nation EU's executive arm, said in a strategy paper published Wednesday. The Trump administration and the EU have been at loggerheads over issues ranging from digital taxes on large tech companies, to aircraft subsidies and the leadership of the World Trade Organization. High on the list of potential economic risks in a second Trump term was a tariff war between the U.S. and Europe. In his recent public remarks, President-elect Biden is confirming interest in a renewed multilateral approach to address trade imbalances with America's traditional allies. For the EU, the aim is to bring the U.S. back into the multilateral system that the country was instrumental in forging after World War II and to leverage transatlantic unity to shape global developments in policy areas ranging from trade to health. Biden told the Times that he wouldn't immediately scupper the trade agreement Trump reached with China in January but will review it before making any decisions. “I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs,” Biden said, according to the report. “I'm not going to prejudice my options.” Biden said he will first conduct a full review of the phase-one deal and consult with allies in Asia and Europe “so we can develop a coherent strategy.” The yuan weakened against the dollar immediately after the news. As part of the trade deal signed in January, China agreed to increase its purchases of U.S. goods by $200 billion through 2021, but it is now nowhere close to meeting those targets. The latest data through the end of October shows China had only bought about 44% of the promised amount for this year. Both the U.S. and China left tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods in place after the deal was signed. China's Foreign Ministry reiterated its previous comments when asked about Biden's views, with spokeswoman Hua Chunying telling reporters in Beijing Wednesday that resolving trade disputes with the U.S. requires mutual respect from both sides. Biden had said he hoped to tackle China's “abusive practices,” including “stealing intellectual property, dumping products, illegal subsidies to corporations,” as well as forcing “tech transfers” from American companies to their Chinese counterparts. But the U.S. needs “leverage” to deal with China, Biden said, adding “in my view, we don't have it yet.” To build that, the U.S. needs a bipartisan consensus at home for government-led investments in research and development, infrastructure and education to better compete with China, he said. “I want to make sure we're going to fight like hell by investing in America first,” he said, citing industries such as energy, biotechnology, advanced materials and artificial intelligence as key ones for large-scale investment in research. On the campaign trail, Biden's advisers described “a gradual approach on China tariffs,” saying he'd prioritize domestic issues like investing in research and development and U.S. manufacturing to compete with Beijing from a position of strength. The president-elect's latest comments suggest a cooling off of tensions between the two nations as he focuses attention on more immediate problems facing the U.S. economy, like the coronavirus pandemic. “Most likely the new U.S. president would spend his first year in office on domestic issues,” said Larry Hu, head of China economics at Macquarie Group Ltd. “It could give a respite to both sides, whose relationship has deteriorated a lot since 2018.” Still, Biden's pledge to work with allies could signify a broader threat to China, Bloomberg said. “After the past four years, it is difficult to expect a normalization of the bilateral relationship immediately,” said Raymond Yeung, chief economist for Greater China at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. However, “as long as China continues to buy more from the U.S. and commit to the phase one agreement, the U.S. will say “why not”. Nonetheless, as most people expect, Biden's administration will work closely with allies in his China policy.” So, we will see. Clearly, promises to “get tough with China” have been effective politics – but efforts to maintain and expand trade there are also very popular. As a result, the new administration's “trade reset” will be eagerly debated and should be watched closely as details emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 3, 2020 |


House Democratic Steering Committee Backs Rep. Scott To Head Ag Panel The House Steering Committee Thursday cast votes on who they back to lead the various standing committees in the 117th Congress, with Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., emerging as their choice. He received 32 votes to 19 for Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif. While Costa has touted the backing of several agriculture groups for him to take the Ag panel gavel, Scott importantly received the support of currently House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who was defeated in his bid for re-election. Scott is also the second ranking Democrat on the panel in terms of seniority, something which Peterson noted when he endorsed Scott for the chairman's spot. The full House Democratic caucus will make its choices Thursday on who will lead the committees. The House Republican Steering Committee on Wednesday also recommended the House GOP Caucus elect Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., as the ranking member for the House Agriculture Committee.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 3, 2020 |


Federal Maritime Commission Expands Check On Ocean Carriers, Including On Ag Shipments The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) will expand its Fact Finding 29 effort, the International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement, to now include practices that have arisen relative to the return of empty containers and other questionable practices. The expanded effort comes in the wake of several industries, including the U.S. agriculture industry, complaining that foreign carriers are rejecting exports of ag products in favor of sending empty containers back to China to be used to send Chinese goods back to the U.S. The situation arose, according to reports, after Chinese transportation officials met with major carriers and called on them to cut rates and reinstate some sailings that had been cancelled. Indications are the rejection of agriculture shipments is linked to costs and time associated with such shipments to China — they are cheaper to move and take longer to unload. By sending the empty containers back to China to be filled with Chinese goods, carriers can then charge higher shipping rates. The original Fact Finding 29 investigation was launched to “identify operational solutions to cargo delivery system challenges related to recent global events.” The expanded investigation is looking at “practices and regulations that are having an unprecedented negative impact on congestion and amplifying bottlenecks at these ports and other points in the Nation's supply chain,” FMC said. The expanded check is focusing on “alliance carriers who call on the Port of New York and New Jersey or who call on the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles are employing practices or regulations” that are restricting U.S. exports via “practices and regulations related to demurrage and detention, empty container return” and “practices related to the carriage of U.S. exports.” It is not clear what results of the expanded effort will be, but actions involving agriculture shipments which have increased demurrage charges and other costs due to shipment rejections have caught the attention of U.S. shipping regulators.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 3, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts from South America remain high on the list of trader attention Thursday as does any export news that develops. At 7:30 a.m. CST, USDA's weekly export sales, weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor will all be released. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department provides the latest natural gas inventory. OPEC and other oil producers are set to meet Thursday in hopes of reaching an agreement on production levels for 2021. Weather Additional light snow is in store for portions of the southern Plains Thursday, offering some possible moisture for winter wheat while causing travel and safety issues. We'll also see periods of light rain in the Delta and freezing fog and air quality concerns prominent in the Northwest. Dry conditions are in store elsewhere.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


Farmer Optimism Lower in Latest Ag Economy Barometer U.S. farmers sentiment weakened following the November 2020 elections. The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer fell 16 points from a month earlier to a reading of 167. Although this month’s reading was nearly equal to the pre-pandemic high set back in February, it was nine percent lower than the reading taken just two weeks before the 2020 elections. Organizers say the decline resulted from weakened expectations for the future, as the Index of Future Expectations declined to a reading of 156 in November, 30 points below the October reading. On the other hand, farmers perception of current conditions on their farms improved. The Index of Current Conditions, lifted by the ongoing rally in agricultural commodity prices, rose by nine points from October to November, setting a record high for the index of 187. However, farmers have concerns about future regulation impact on agriculture, potential higher estate taxes, and reduced support for the ethanol industry. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Intends to Sue EPA Over 2021 Blending Targets Growth Energy Tuesday submitted a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency. The notice is in response to the EPA's failure to fulfill its statutory obligation to issue the 2021 Renewable Volume Obligation by November 30, 2020, an annual deadline set by the Renewable Fuel Standard. The notice gives EPA 60 days to issue the 2021 RVO before risking a lawsuit in federal court. Every year, EPA is required to set the RVO so that biofuel and fossil fuel companies understand their total renewable fuel blending obligations for the following year. Failure to set the RVO undermines the RFS and could lead to uncertainty in the market and lower than necessary biofuel blending levels. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says EPA’s failure to meet their statutory obligation to issue RVOs “piles on the uncertainty in the fuel marketplace.” However, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has previously said the announcement would be delayed, pending the outcome of a challenge to the Supreme Court by the oil industry. ************************************************************************************ House Ag Chair Nomination Thursday House lawmakers will nominate the next House Agriculture Committee Chair Thursday. A committee spokesperson confirmed leadership will decide who to back for the position, according to the Hagstrom Report. The two candidates being considered are David Scott, a Democrat from Georgia, and Jim Costa, a Democrat from California. Scott is next in line, seniority wise, and endorsed by outgoing chairman Collin Peterson. Peterson, a Democrat from Minnesota, lost his reelection bid. Once the 117th Congress is seated early next year, the full chamber will vote on leadership candidates. Representative Marcia Fudge was also considering the leadership position, but is in the running to be the next Secretary of Agriculture. Other reported Agriculture Secretary candidates include former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, and Obama-era Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Robert Bonnie is leading the Agriculture Department transition team for the Biden administration. Bonnie served as undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at USDA during the Obama Administration. ************************************************************************************ USDA Reopens Comment Period for FMD Vaccine The Department of Agriculture Tuesday reopened a comment period regarding a petition from a vaccine manufacturer seeking approval to produce a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine. The comment period was announced by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for an additional 30 days. The vaccine consists of a modified non-infectious and non-transmissible strain of the virus on the U.S. mainland. Although introduction of live FMD virus into the United States is prohibited by law, the petition states that this strain should not be considered live FMD virus as it is non-infectious, non-transmissible, and incapable of causing FMD. Public comments will be accepted through January 21, 2021, via the federal register. FMD is a severe and highly contagious viral disease affecting cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, and other animals with divided hooves. It was eradicated from the United States in 1929, but if it were to infect the U.S. livestock industry, it would likely cause devastating economic effects. ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Seek Reauthorization of WHIP for 2020 Wildfires A Group of Representatives from Western states last week introduced a bill to reauthorize the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus, known as WHIP+, for 2020 natural disasters. The WHIP+ program offers critical assistance to agricultural producers, including grapegrowers, whose crops were impacted by smoke taint. House Democrat Mike Thompson of California says, “This bipartisan bill activates the WHIP+ program for these 2020 fires and helps these growers hit hard by disasters.” Republican Representative Dan Newhouse of Washington state adds, "WHIP+ will help our winegrape growers recover from the damages of this year’s catastrophic wildfires.” WHIP+ can cover losses from flooding, hurricanes and wildfires, are any named natural disaster. Reactivating WHIP+ for 2020 is a priority for the American Farm Bureau Federation. AFBF is also calling on Congress to allow farmers and ranchers impacted by the Midwest derecho storm to be included in the program. The derecho, not being a named disaster, doesn’t qualify under the current program rules. ************************************************************************************ GROWMARK Holds First Virtual Annual Meeting It’s a normal sign of the times, virtual events, but you can add GROWMARK to the list of companies holding their first. The company held a virtual annual meeting Tuesday for more than 1,000 attendees. Normally the GROWMARK Annual Meeting happens every August at the Hilton Chicago, but to comply with Illinois mitigation measures, the decision was made to hold it virtually after the fiscal year closed on August 31. Holding the meeting in December allowed for audited financial results to be presented in full, and also brings an update after the acquisition of certain Southern States Cooperative agronomy and energy assets. Despite the challenges from COVID-19, a devastating derecho storm in key Midwest markets, and energy volatility in the markets, financial performance was respectable with strong earnings from operations. GROWMARK was able to distribute nearly $66 million in patronage distributions to shareholders this year. GROWMARK is an agricultural cooperative serving almost 400,000 customers across North America, Headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Powell Helped Boost Labor Benefits President-elect Joe Biden will work to reverse the decades-long trend that has seen workers claim an ever-decreasing share of the U.S. economic pie. A Bloomberg report asserts that no matter which political party ends up controlling the Senate, Biden likely will continue to work toward higher returns for labor and could look to a Republican for continued support: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. From a higher minimum wage and increased power for unions to bigger taxes on capital gains and the wealthy, Biden has outlined an ambitious agenda to lift labor's share of the income the economy generates. “It's time to reward work, not just wealth, in America,” Biden told reporters after a Nov. 16 meeting with union and corporate leaders to discuss the coronavirus pandemic's effect on the economy. The trouble for the president-elect is that much of his program hinges on whether Democrats take control of the Senate, something that won't be known until early January after run-off elections for Georgia's two seats. If the Democrats fall short – as many political analysts expect – Biden will have to largely fall back on executive and regulatory actions to try to tilt the playing field toward workers. Current Fed chair Powell also has been committed to returning the labor market to better times when unemployment was at a 50-year low of 3.5% and a wide swath of workers were enjoying wage gains. And Powell overhauled the central bank's strategic framework to help bring that about. That objective is also backed by Biden's reported pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, and it is likely to endure even if Powell isn't re-nominated for a second term when his current one ends in February 2022, Bloomberg says. Bloomberg says that Biden's economic team likely will take a significant step this week toward addressing the damage to the U.S. economy inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, Biden has called for trillions of dollars in new stimulus to aid the fundamentally important small and mid-size businesses. As his future staff is filled out, he is expected to name longtime Democratic policy staffer Neera Tanden to lead his Office of Management and Budget and Cecilia Rouse to head the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). Tanden's nomination already appears to be in trouble with Senate Republican aides expressing opposition before it was formally announced. Drew Brandewie, an aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on Twitter that she “stands zero chance of being confirmed.” Another aide said Republicans in the Senate would certainly block Tanden, who's viewed as too progressive even though she's also had squabbles with some on the left. Biden's picks for his economic team suggest he will make it a “special priority” to lift the fortunes of Black and lower-income Americans whose gains in recent years have been endangered by the coronavirus pandemic. As for Rouse, who is to be named the head of the CEA, Bloomberg says she would become the first Black American in the position. Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, two progressive economists who have argued for the Federal Reserve to target the Black unemployment rate and for increasing the minimum wage, are expected to join Rouse as members of the CEA. However, not all the activity was from the president-elect. President Trump formally nominated Brian Brooks to take over a key banking regulatory position. In a brief Friday statement, the White House said it had sent the nomination to the Senate, where Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has already signaled that Brooks would get a confirmation hearing for a five-year term leading the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Brooks has been acting OCC chief since May. Trump's highly unusual move to try to install an industry-friendly watchdog at the end of his administration has been blasted by Democratic lawmakers who argue the president is refusing to accept the results of this month's election. If Crapo succeeds in fast-tracking Brook's confirmation, Biden would then have to decide whether to remove him after the Jan. 20 inauguration. While the law indicates Biden can oust Brooks, such authority has never been used before. Biden's acting Treasury Secretary could immediately remove Brooks if he fails to win Senate approval. So, we will see. Clearly these are very high stakes decisions that will continue until the new administration is fully defined and can turn its attention to governing. These nominations will include a number of positions in USDA which have not yet been indicated, in spite of a good bit of interest and discussion — debates producers certainly will watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Payments Over $11.1 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) total $11.15 billion as of November 29. Acreage-based payments total $5.5 billion and account for 49% of payments made, while livestock payments are at $3 billion, sales commodities are at $1.6 billion, dairy is at $$1.1 billion and eggs/broilers are at $44.35 million. Payments for five commodities total $1 billion or more—corn ($3.0 billion), cattle ($2.4 billion), sales commodities ($1.6 billion), soybeans ($1.2 billion) and milk ($1.1 billion). Iowa still leads all states at $1 billion, with the rest of the top five states being Nebraska ($755.8 million), California ($751.67 million), Minnesota ($719.8 million), and Illinois ($706.3 million). Signup for CFAP 2 runs through December 11.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


USDA Forwards Final Rule On Hemp Program To OMB The process of getting a final rule for a domestic hemp production program is closer as USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has forwarded its revised final rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review. The current target for a final rule is listed as October 2021. USDA reopened its comment period on the interim final rule through October 8, 2020, and the stop-gap funding plan that keeps the government operating through December 11 included a provision to extend the hemp pilot program through September 2021. Meanwhile, USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) also expanded the pilot multi-peril crop insurance plan for hemp to include Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada and Texas, and added 13 counties in states where the coverage was already available. RMA also made other adjustments to the pilot effort.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday's reports start with private sector U.S. job growth for November from ADP at 7:15 a.m. CST, an early hint at Friday's unemployment report. The U.S. Energy Department reports on weekly energy inventories at 9:30 a.m. and is followed by the Federal Reserve's Beige Book at 1 p.m. Export news and the latest weather forecasts will also be noted. Weather A system will bring moderate showers to the Southern Plains Wednesday, along with moderate snowfall in southwest Kansas, western Oklahoma, and the northern Texas Panhandle. Western areas are likely to see winter wheat go dormant while the moisture will benefit winter wheat in the eastern Plains. Other areas will be dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


China Purchases of U.S. Commodities Still Lagging China’s purchases of U.S. farm commodities still lag behind targets set in the Phase One Agreement, according to research by the Peterson Institute. Through October 2020, China's year-to-date total imports of covered products from the United States were $75.5 billion, compared with a prorated year-to-date target of $137.3 billion. Over the same period, U.S. exports to China of covered products were $70.3 billion, compared with a year-to-date target of $125.4 billion. Through the first ten months of 2020, China's purchases of all covered products were thus only at 56 percent for U.S. exports or 55 percent of Chinese imports of their year-to-date targets. Through October 2020, China's imports of covered agricultural products were $15.6 billion, compared with a year-to-date target of $27.1 billion. Over the same period, US exports of covered agricultural products were $17.5 billion, compared with a year-to-date target of $24.6 billion. The data is based on October 2020 statistics released last week. ************************************************************************************ EPA Releases Draft Biological Evaluation for Glyphosate The Environmental Protection Agency recently released a draft biological evaluation for glyphosate. EPA's draft biological evaluation for glyphosate includes an effects determination for listed species and designated critical habitats and finds that glyphosate is likely to adversely affect a significant percent of endangered species and critical habitats. If EPA determines glyphosate may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the agency will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service as appropriate. Of more than 1,700 species considered, EPA claims roughly 93 percent were likely to be adversely affected by glyphosate, with more than half the species being plans. EPA followed its March 2020 Revised Method for National Level Listed Species Biological Evaluations of Conventional Pesticides to conduct this biological evaluation. The assessment could mean further restrictions and controls on glyphosate. Glyphosate is used on about 298 million acres of agricultural cropland annually. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Expansion, Other Improvements to Hemp Crop Insurance The Department of Agriculture Monday announced the expansion of the pilot Multi-Peril Crop Insurance plan for hemp. The expansion and other improvements to the plan, will begin in the 2021 crop year. USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre says, “Hemp offers exciting economic opportunities for our nation’s farmers, and we are listening and responding to their risk management needs.” The program expansion allows for additional states and specific counties to be included in the program. The changes also allow broker contracts for hemp grain and adjust program reporting and billing dates. Sales closing, cancellation, production reporting and termination dates were adjusted to match dates of similar crops. Meanwhile, USDA adjusted Acreage Reporting Dates based on regional final planting dates. The premium billing dates for all states changed to August 15. For more information on USDA risk management programs for hemp producers, they are encouraged to visit farmers.gov/hemp. ************************************************************************************ USDA to Conduct 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will conduct the 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey, beginning this month. First conducted in 2015, the Census of Agriculture special study will look at local and regional food systems and provide new data on how locally grown food in the United States are marketed and sold. The results will be available in November 2021. The 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey is part of the Census of Agriculture Program and is required and protected by law. Federal laws require producers to respond and USDA to keep identities and answers confidential. Farmers and ranchers who receive the survey may complete it securely and conveniently online at www.agcounts.usda.gov or by mail. The deadline for response is February 16, 2021. The survey will ask producers about their production and local marketing of foods during the 2020 calendar year, including the value of food sales by marketing channels such as farmers markets, restaurants, and roadside stands. ************************************************************************************ Peterson Requests Delay in Nation-wide 5G Network Implementation Outgoing House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and others on the committee seek a delay in deploying a terrestrial nationwide network to provide 5G services. In a letter last week to the House Appropriations Committee, Peterson says, “There is no room for error when discussing safety and reliability of service for GPS signals.” In July, a group of lawmakers led by Peterson expressed serious concerns surrounding the FCC's decision, questioning the reliability of GPS for millions of Americans, especially farmers and ranchers who rely on the technology for precision agriculture. Peterson was joined by Republicans Glenn GT Thompson of Pennsylvania and James Comer of Kentucky. Specifically, the lawmakers want the FCC to delay an order granting Ligado Networks 5G development. Representative Comer states, “critical tools like GPS technology must not be disrupted, as our farmers are essential workers who must have the tools they need to do their jobs.” The lawmakers hope appropriation bills will include the delay. ************************************************************************************ FCC Chair Pai to Step Down January 20 Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai (Uh-JEET Pie) will step down January 20, 2021, the day President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in. In a statement released Monday, the rural Kansas native said, “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission.” Pai was appointed to the commission in 2012 by President Barack Obama, and made chairman by President Donald Trump in 2017. Pai used his time at the FCC focusing on rural broadband issues, among other things. Pai’s term was set to expire in June 2021. The now outgoing chairman mentioned successes in his time, such as closing the digital divide, promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space, protecting consumers, and advancing public safety. Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas and attended Harvard and the University of Chicago Law School. Pai was the first Asian-American to chair the FCC, which he calls a “particular privilege.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Budget Fight Begins in Earnest Bloomberg is reporting this week that key Republicans have withheld support for an initial agreement on government funding totals, as lawmakers continue to work toward a deal on an omnibus appropriations measure by the end of next week. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is opposed to an agreement by Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who lead the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. President Trump hasn't commented on the agreement and White House Office of Management and Budget staff didn't respond to Bloomberg's request for comment. Broad Republican opposition to an agreement on allocations would make it difficult for lawmakers to agree to an omnibus by the Dec. 11 funding deadline, increasing the odds of either a stopgap measure or a shutdown, Bloomberg said. Lowey and Shelby agreed last Tuesday to a set of top-line spending allocations for all 12 appropriations categories, allowing lawmakers to start negotiating the details of an omnibus. The agreement covered emergency funding expected to be proposed, Bloomberg said and was thought to overcome a major disagreement in current spending discussions. House Democrats had included $247.4 billion in emergency funds that would be exempt from statutory spending limits, while Senate Republicans only included $12.5 billion in emergency funds. It's unclear how much emergency money is included now in the current draft agreement--lawmakers and aides haven't provided details and tend to be secretive with initial agreements on top-line spending allocations, Bloomberg said. But McCarthy, a Trump ally, told the press he isn't happy with the agreement's emergency funds, which go beyond the bipartisan 2019 agreement on how much discretionary money to spend in fiscal 2020 and 2021, Bloomberg said. The White House was initially silent on the idea of an omnibus appropriations package, rather than smaller bills or a stopgap measure, until Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made it clear Trump wanted a deal. So, appropriators also are preparing another short-term, stopgap bill into next year, just in case, Bloomberg says. It's possible the House will complete its legislative business early the week of Dec. 7, according to a schedule update by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., a sign that House leaders haven't ruled out a quick deal ahead of the Dec. 11 deadline. Hoyer's update encouraged House members to stay in Washington after the last scheduled votes of the week on Friday. “As conversations surrounding legislation related to government funding, coronavirus relief, and a few other items are ongoing, these bills will be considered by the House as soon as they are ready,” the most recent update said. Also, President-elect Joe Biden is expected to take a significant step this week toward addressing the damage to the U.S. economy inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, as he names an economic team led by his choice for Treasury secretary, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. She is seen as a “battle-tested policy maker” who can draw on her nearly two decades at the Fed to help rebuild an economy in dire need of government cash and confidence. The President-elect has called for trillions of dollars in new stimulus to aid the small and mid-size businesses that are the nation's primary jobs engine. Yellen's expected to champion what she's called “extraordinary fiscal support” to support the pandemic-ridden economy--deficit spending that she says is affordable given extraordinarily low interest rates. Others in Biden's economic policy team are also expected to be unveiled in the next few days including longtime Democratic policy staffer Neera Tanden who is expected to lead the Office of Management and Budget as well as Cecilia Rouse, formerly of the Obama administration and currently dean of Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs, who would head the Council of Economic Advisers. Both roles require Senate confirmation and observers expect at least Tanden's nomination to be controversial. So, we will see. Dealing with spending bills likely will continue to be controversial, as will the proposals for membership in the new economic policy team. And while there is little enthusiasm for a standoff on the spending proposals this fall, this is a “hardball era” in Washington and bitter fights among competing interests in both parties are intensifying along with the lingering hostilities over the legitimacy of the recent election. These are important fights in many cases and should be watched closely by ag producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


USDA Forwards Plan To OMB On Regs For GE Animal Movement USDA has forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) what is being labeled a pre-rule on regulations covering the movement of animals that are modified or produced by genetic engineering. The rule was sent to OMB November 25 and there is no statutory deadline for the item and it is not clear yet what direction USDA plans to head on the topic. Plus, given that it is not even in the proposed rule stage, the issue could well be finalized by the incoming Biden administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


Australia-China Trade Tensions Continue To Rise China announced tariffs of up to 212% on Australian wine, contending the country uses subsidies to bolster its exports. The move is the latest instance of a decline in Sino-Australian relations, and Simon Birmingham, Australian Trade Minister, said they would amount to a “devastating blow” for Australian business as china accounts for 42% of Australian wine exports. Australia is also preparing to take action against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over tariffs on barley imports. China in May placed tariffs of 80.5% on Australian barley, saying it was being sold at unfairly low prices with the help of subsidies. Australia rejected that finding and directly appealed to Chinese authorities to reverse the duties but was rebuffed. “So now the WTO appeal for barley is the next step,” Birmingham said Sunday. The government is holding talks with the local grains industry and other sectors to gauge support for filing a complaint, he added. The rising tensions have resulted in some benefits to the U.S., but surprisingly no U.S. barley exports have taken place thus far even though the Phase One agreement also resulted in a China-U.S. accord on barley.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets After broad losses in the grain sector Monday, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts for South America and any trade news that develops. ISM's index of U.S. manufacturing is due out at 9 a.m. CST and will be compared to similar indices for other countries. USDA's Fats and Oils report will have an update of soybean crush at 2 p.m. CST. Weather Light to moderate snow is in store for portions of the eastern Midwest Tuesday, mainly in Ohio. This snow will disrupt the final stage of corn harvest. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. The pattern turns stormier in the Plains with snow during Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 30, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Dealing With China Bloomberg is reporting this week that the U.S. will soon have a new climate czar, John Kerry, the former senator, secretary of state and presidential candidate. In explaining the role's placement within the National Security Council, President-elect Joe Biden said he wanted to put “climate change on the agenda in the situation room,” the report said. The report also notes that “critically, this structure signals that the new White House is searching for common ground with China.” Kerry is widely credited with putting together a US-China agreement in 2014 to reduce carbon emissions, a breakthrough that paved the way for the Paris Agreement the following year. That deal was a template for the kind of collaboration that many argue is now essential. Without cooperative action, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned at last week's Bloomberg New Economy Forum, “The world will slide into a catastrophe comparable to World War I.” Kerry is clearly expected to reprise his role as the Beijing bridge-builder, Bloomberg says. “While some have decided that we are entering a new Cold War with China, we can still cooperate on critical mutual interests,” Kerry told the New York Times last month calling for joint action to protect the Southern Ocean. Geopolitics, he insisted, “must stop at the water's edge.” Some critics, however, contend that Kerry, under President Barack Obama, gave up too much in return for Chinese acquiescence on climate — for instance, by soft-pedaling human rights—and they fear a Biden presidency may make the same mistake. “Sending Kerry to negotiate with Chinese President Xi Jinping on climate is a recipe for returning home dressed in a barrel,” said the Wall Street Journal editorial page recently -- typically not a fan of the Obama administration. But U.S. public attitudes on China have hardened since the Obama days and few now expect a Biden White House will go any easier on China over contentious issues like Uyghur detention camps or the militarization o