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| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


U.S. Winter Outlook: Cooler North, Warmer South Expect a dry, warm winter in the south, and cooler, wetter, conditions in the North, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA last week released its U.S. Winter Outlook, indicating weather impacts from an ongoing La Nina. Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center are also closely monitoring persistent drought during the winter months ahead. Currently, large areas of drought extend over the western half of the U.S., with parts of the Northeast also experiencing drought and near-record low stream flows. Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely across the northern tier of the U.S., extending from the Pacific Northwest, across the Northern Plains, Great Lakes and into the Ohio Valley, as well as Hawaii and northern Alaska. The ongoing La Nina is expected to expand and intensify drought across the southern and central Plains, eastern Gulf Coast, and in California during the months ahead. However, drought conditions are expected to improve in the northern Rockies, Northwest, New England, Alaska and Hawaii over the coming months. ************************************************************************************ Reuters: Payments to Farmers at All Time High Before Election Direct payments to U.S. farmers are at an all-time high as the nation prepares for a national election next month. Record government subsidies, much needed in the turbulent trade environment and coronavirus pandemic, are projected to make up more than a third of farm income in 2020. In a report by Reuters, the aid programs could be key to Donald Trump’s chances of success in swing states. The Environmental Working Group called agriculture aid in the latest COVID-19 relief package "old-fashioned vote-buying." Farmers, facing steep losses stemming from Trump's trade policies and COVID-19 related market disruption would argue the funds are needed. However, this fall, commodity prices are slowly improving and providing a better outlook for agriculture. Meanwhile, the direct payments have the attention of farm groups in Canada. Grain Farmers of Ontario is seeking more funding from the Canadian government. One farm group executive from Canada states, “Government funds have allowed U.S. producers an advantage over farmers in Canada, not just on price but money to invest in their operations.” ************************************************************************************ Lack of Trade Deal Will Hurt EU-UK Food Supply Chain The absence of an EU-UK trade deal on January 1, 2021, would cause significant economic losses on both sides for companies active in food and agriculture supply chains. Rabobank researchers say companies in the food supply chain should be prepared for loss of export and import opportunities. A certainty of a no-deal scenario is that the EU will consider the UK a third country as of January 1, 2021, and will apply import tariffs on UK food and agriculture products, just as the EU does on imports from other third countries. Import increases related to agriculture include dairy, red meats, sugar, and consumer foods, among other categories. Rabobank says that without a trade deal, export volumes out of the UK to the EU will shrink to almost negligible levels in most cases. Tariff levels range from 30 percent, for beef, dairy and sugar, to 10-30 percent for pork and poultry, and ten percent for some fruits and vegetables, beverages and fertilizers. ************************************************************************************ Minnesota Governor Announces State Aid for Agriculture Minnesota Governor Tim Walz this week announced a $7.7 million plan to support farmers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES ACT, the financial support will help farmers who have experienced market disruptions recover from and purchase equipment and supplies necessary for COVID-19 in Minnesota. Walz stated, “the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way farmers and agricultural businesses must operate.” The funding includes $5.75 million for direct payments to turkey and pork producers to compensate for market disruptions and associated costs due to COVID-19. The funding also includes $1 million for cost-share aid to companies or individuals looking to expand or open a meat processing facility. Walz says further investment in meat processing capabilities will help alleviate the back up of animals caused by supply-chain impacts of COVID-19. Finally, the plan includes funding for local food systems, farm business management scholarships, and reimbursements for grants that provided Minnesota-grown food in school summer meal programs. ************************************************************************************ Grants Support Ethanol Industry Safety Education $75,000 in grants awarded to the Renewable Fuels Association will promote safety education through on-site seminars and internet webinars. Both grants were received via the association's work with a voluntary national outreach effort that assists communities in preparing for and responding to a possible hazardous material transportation incident. RFA Technical Services Manager Missy Ruff says, "Safety is a high priority for the renewable fuels industry, and we consider it an important part of our mission." A $25,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration will support ten ethanol safety seminars and four "train the trainer" webinars for first responders. A $50,000 Community Safety Grant from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will fund six Ethanol and Steel Drum Safety seminars in conjunction with the Industrial Steel Drum Institute. The four "train the trainer" webinars will take place starting in December. For more information, visit the Ethanol Emergency Response website at www.ethanolresponse.com. ************************************************************************************ Forest Service Accepting Grants for Innovations in Wood Products, Energy The USDA Forest Service is accepting applications for innovation grants. Announced Tuesday, the agency has approximately $10 million in funding available through the 2021 Wood Innovations Grant and the 2021 Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation Grant. The grants seek to support local economies through wood products and wood energy innovations while reducing hazardous fuels and improving forest health. USDA says the Wood Innovations Grant program has a long track record of success and seeks to strengthen emerging markets for innovative wood products such as mass timber and cross-laminated timber. Eligible projects should increase wood products manufacturing capacity, strengthen markets that support forest ecosystem restoration and develop commercial facilities for wood biomass and wood products, among others. The application for 2021 Wood Innovations Grants closes in January. Meanwhile, the Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation Grant program aims to support forest health by expanding renewable wood energy use and innovative manufacturing for wood products. The application period closes in February.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Other Developments of Interest, Including Hemp Politico is reporting this week that it's been nearly two years since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law, legalizing industrial hemp production nationwide and fueling hopes of a hemp farming boom. However, the report says “that hasn't panned out yet, with growers around the country still struggling to reap the benefits of the burgeoning crop sector.” USDA has approved hemp programs for 29 states and is negotiating with another 12. That means a patchwork of inconsistent state regulations and unclear federal guidance for the industry, Politico thinks. And, after millions of acres of hemp were planted in 2019, production is way down this year; many growers gave up because of a steep drop in prices and the lack of a market for their crops. Some state agricultural officials were so unsatisfied with the regulatory framework that USDA proposed last year that they decided not to move forward with hemp initiatives. Among the biggest complaints are the strict limits on THC that can be present in hemp crops and the stringent testing requirements to certify those levels of the psychoactive chemical. Another major hurdle: The FDA has yet to put forth regulations on cannabidiol, the widely popular compound derived from hemp that's increasingly found in products from pills to pet foods. The agency's CBD guidance has been awaiting approval from the White House since July. As a result, while hemp was expected to breathe new life into the industry, after a steady agricultural downturn since farm earnings peaked in 2013 compared to other corners of agriculture, hemp growers held up relatively well early in the pandemic. But even then, advocates worried that the slow-moving regulatory process would stifle what was promised to be a bountiful new frontier in farming — a warning that's increasingly proving true with harvesting now underway. In another controversial area, Politico says that the North American Meat Institute and the Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation, the trade group representing the burgeoning cell-based protein industry, joined forces today to back a mandatory labeling requirement for cell-based meat and poultry products. “Although these products have not yet come to market in the U.S., market entry is fast approaching, and there is significant interest in the regulation of these products, particularly regarding applicable labeling requirements,” the groups wrote in a letter to USDA. The groups emphasized that they are “committed to supporting and complying with principles that ensure labeling is truthful and not misleading, does not disparage cell-based/cultured or conventional products, enables consumers to distinguish between such products, and is consistent with the safety and nutritional qualities of the product.” The groups also recommended that USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to get more info and data on the products to help the agency work on the labeling issue. Also this week in yet another development below the radar of most agricultural groups, the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told the International Monetary Fund meeting last week that the Fed hasn't made a decision to issue a digital currency, citing the need for further work and “extensive” public consultation with stakeholders before doing so. “It's more important for the United States to get it right than to be first,” Powell said Monday on a panel during the IMF annual meeting. “We are committed to carefully and thoughtfully evaluating the potential costs and benefits of a central bank digital currency for the U.S. economy and payments system. We have not made a decision to issue a CBDC.” Fed officials have swerved sharply from their previous approach to digital currencies, embracing a full-scale study on whether one might be suitable for the U.S. Powell said about 80% of central banks around the world are exploring the idea. “There are a number of ways that a CBDC might improve the payments system, and it is mainly this area that motivates our interest,” Powell said. The central bank announced in August that it was expanding experimentation with technologies related to digital currencies. In addition, the Boston Fed is working with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to build a hypothetical digital currency oriented for central bank use. Many of the policy questions are unresolved, but those efforts are indicative of how seriously the Fed now regards the project. U.S. central bankers were slow to warm to the idea of a digital currency, but their interest picked up after Facebook proposed its own unit of exchange for its users. Digital money could change the way monetary policy works in the economy, as well as speed up a payment system that remains slow and taxing for consumers and behind many other nations. Central banks from Sweden to Canada and China are studying whether their money should have a digital counterpart. Sweden began an e-krona project in 2017 and has issued two reports on the topic. The Bank of Canada has launched a formal research project that has partnered with other monetary authorities. The Bank of Japan said earlier this month that it aims to start early phase experiments next year. So, we will see. Certainly, neither the ag sector nor the banking sector is the same as it was a few decades ago, and not only are pressures from new threats growing but new approaches to consumers and the sector are changing quickly as well. These are developments producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


Potential US Corn, Soybean Exports to Brazil Unlikely The Brazilian import tariff waiver for corn and soybeans is not expected to result in major purchases of either commodity from the U.S., according to a report from the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Brazil. A report from the office outlines “several hurdles” for the imports, including that “U.S. soybeans may remain too expensive to make sense for Brazilian importers given the U.S. FOB price and ocean freight costs” despite a $20 to $25 discount to Brazilian prices. Plus, there are some nine GMO corn and soybean varieties approved in the U.S. that have not been approved in Brazil. For importers to bring those in, the attaché said they would have to submit a special approval request to the National Technical Commission on Biosecurity (CTNBio) and there are only two more scheduled meetings of that body the rest of 2020. The FAS also pointed out that Brazilian ports are geared for exports, “and reverse engineering the setup is time and resource-intensive.” However, the report said there is “potential for the tariff-free time frames to be extended” beyond the January 15 for soybeans and oy products and March 31 for corn.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Payments Rise To More Than $6 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) have reached $6.1 billion as of October 18, with 349,747 applications approved. Acreage-based payments total $3.2 billion, livestock payments are at $1.7 billion, dairy at $626 million, sales commodities are at $599 million and eggs/broilers are at $13.0 million. By commodity, the payouts have reached $1.8 billion for corn, $1.4 billion for cattle, $688 million for soybeans, $626 million for milk, $559 million for sales commodities, $315 million for hogs/pigs and $303 million for wheat. Iowa leads all states with $604 million, followed by Illinois at $433 million, Nebraska at $428 million, Minnesota at $428 million, Wisconsin at $331 million and Kansas at $311 million. Payments under the CFAP 1 program are at $10.3 billion as of October 18, including $5.0 billion for livestock, $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.8 billion for dairy, $784 million for specialty crops and $111 million for aqua/nursery/ flora crops. As with CFAP 2, Iowa leads all states with a total of $969.7 million.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts will be watched closely for North and South America and the Black Sea region. Export sales announcements at 8 a.m. CDT have become a daily event. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report, including ethanol production will be released at 9:30 a.m. CDT. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book is due out at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather Wednesday features rain and snow in the Northern Plains and light rain to the southeastern Plains through eastern Midwest. This unsettled pattern means harvest disruption. Southern Plains wheat areas remain dry. Temperatures will have a large difference from very cool north to very warm south. Additional northern rain and snow is in store Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


NCBA Releases Price Discovery Proposal The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association released its proposal over the weekend for voluntary cattle market price discovery. In a letter to NCBA members, NCBA President Marty Smith says the proposal "lays out a plan to increase negotiated trade and incentivize each of the major packers' participation in such negotiated trade." An NCBA working group came up with the report, "A Voluntary Framework to Achieve Price Discovery in the Fed Cattle Market." The framework explains in detail what the organization calls the "75 Percent Plan," which is designed to provide negotiated trade and packer participation benchmarks for the industry to strive toward. Smith says the plan seeks to achieve no less than 75 percent of the weekly negotiated trade volume that current academic literature indicates is necessary for “robust” price discovery in a specific region, among other thresholds. In the event that defined triggers are tripped in any two out of four rolling quarters, the Subgroup will recommend that NCBA pursue a legislative or regulatory solution to compel robust price discovery. ************************************************************************************ Meat Institute Calls for Mandatory Labeling of Cell-Based Products Two meat industry groups urge the Department of Agriculture to support mandatory labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products. The Meat Institute and the Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation penned the request in a letter to USDA Monday. The groups also call on USDA to solicit input on what that labeling should look like through an Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking. Under a joint framework for regulation of cell-based/cultured meat, poultry and seafood products, the two agencies will work together to ensure the safety and labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products. Among other provisions of the framework, FSIS will have oversight of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry labeling, as it does for all meat and poultry sold in the United States. The FDA will oversee cell-based/cultured seafood labeling, as it does for most seafood sold in the United States. In a recent public presentation, the agencies committed to joint principles for product labeling and labeling claims. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Seeks Immediate COVID-19 Relief The National Pork Producers Council calls for immediate relief for the nation’s hog farmers. U.S. hog farmers are facing $5 billion in collective pandemic-related losses this year following two challenging years due to trade retaliation. NPPC President Howard AV Roth says, “We’ve lost hog farmers of all sizes due to the COVID pandemic and need additional relief to preserve a highly competitive pork production system.” Without further assistance, Roth says, “we will lose more hog farmers and see our farm sector consolidate.” Among the provisions NPPC is seeking, they include compensation for euthanized and donated hogs. Additionally, the organization asks for modification of the Commodity Credit Corporation charter so a pandemic-driven national emergency qualifies for funding. The organization also seeks additional funds for direct payments to producers without restriction, and an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program with modifications to make it accessible to more producers. NPPC also calls for additional funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have appropriately assisted and shared resources with their public health partners. ************************************************************************************ National Grange Urges FDA to be Innovative in Vaccine Distribution The National Grange wants the Food and Drug Administration to consider "any and all" delivery options of a COVID-19 vaccine for rural Americans and farmworkers. In a letter to the FDA, the organization says, "we believe that innovative options such an oral vaccine in pill form should be pursued." The organization suggested mail delivery of vaccines to rural Americans to ensure quick and easy access once a vaccine is available. Rural America faces a shortage of healthcare providers, as the organization cites a national study reported in 2019. The study found that there are only 12 doctors per 10,000 people in rural America versus more than twice that number, 29.6 per 10,000, in urban areas. Moreover, the study forecast a 23 percent decline in the number of rural physicians over the next decade as current doctors retire. According to the organization, those statistics, coupled with the fact that over 100 rural hospitals have closed in the last decade, further complicate the health care access situation in rural America. ************************************************************************************ Rodale Institute Investment to Increase Land Access for Organic Farmers Rodale Institute Monday announced a $2 million investment to provide organic and regenerative farmers land security through long-term leases and mortgages. Through a partnership with the Iroquois (err-re-coy) Valley Farmland Real Estate Investment Trust, Rodale Institute will use money from its endowment fund to increase land access for organic farmers across the country and boost organic acreage, a core tenet of Rodale Institute’s mission. Rodale Institute has been researching the benefits of regenerative organic agriculture for over 70 years. Despite the organic market reaching $55 billion in the U.S. in 2019, only one percent of U.S. farmland is certified organic. Iroquois Valley seeks to break down those barriers by purchasing farmland and entering into a lease agreement or underwriting a mortgage for organic farmers looking to start or expand their operation. Rodale Institute's investment allows Iroquois Valley to purchase more land, offer those resources to farmers nationwide, and provide the organization with "more stability” in its investment portfolio. ************************************************************************************ January Sheep Industry Convention Goes Virtual The American Sheep Industry Association Executive Board last week opted to plan a virtual event rather than in person in January 2021. The ASI Annual Convention was scheduled for January 27-30 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. However, state and local COVID-19 restrictions on social distancing made meeting room capacity an issue. Additionally, safety concerns would have meant some directors would not attend in person, therefore a much more expensive hybrid version of in-person and virtual would have been needed. ASI’s contract with the hotel has been rolled back to the next open convention dates in 2024. While the ASI officers and staff will gather in Denver to present a two-day event during the last week in January, all other attendance at the convention will be virtual. In addition, there will be no annual awards in 2021, as the executive board felt the virtual format would not allow for a proper celebration of those winners.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Complicated Future for Central Banks Bloomberg is cautioning now that the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks will eventually discover that “breaking up isn't easy” after partnering with their governments and the financial markets to avert a pandemic-driven depression. Investors and lawmakers enamored with cheap money “may well balk when monetary authorities try to throttle back their quantitative easing and other stimulus measures,” the report said. “They are increasingly on what I call a no-exit paradigm,” Allianz SE chief economic adviser and Bloomberg Opinion columnist Mohamed El-Erian, told a group of experts included in a panel discussion last week. The problem isn't pressing – and in fact is probably one central bankers would be glad to have if it meant their economies were strong. Instead, faced with slowing global growth and resurgent infections, the focus of policy makers at last week's all-virtual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings was on more support for the world economy, not less. Central banks are pulling out the stops to do all they can, boosting financial markets with massive asset purchases and pushing government borrowing costs to record lows,” Bloomberg said. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has repeatedly pressed for more aid to support the economy until it's clearly out of the woods. “The recovery will be stronger and move faster if monetary policy and fiscal policy continue to work side by side,” he told business economists on Oct. 6. However, he thinks that “the trouble may start after a virus vaccine is approved and distributed” and the U.S. and world economies begin to return to normal. If the Fed and other central banks are constrained from scaling back emergency stimulus at that point, the continued flood of liquidity could spur asset bubbles and even too-rapid inflation, he said. Rebecca Patterson, director of investment research at Bridgewater Associates, said she saw some merit to arguments that the U.S. ultimately will see faster inflation because of continued aggressive fiscal stimulus. “It's something investors really haven't had to think about for the last few decades,” she told an Oct. 13 Council on Foreign Relations briefing. “Whether we get it or not, preparing for that risk scenario is pretty important.” Patterson said that economic policy “has entered a new paradigm, with independent central banks and governments working closely together to fight the pandemic.” Monetary policy makers are buying up government bonds while fiscal policy practitioners are issuing more of them to finance mammoth budget deficits. “Fiscal has become the dominant driver,” Patterson said. The relationship between the central banks and their governments is “sort of a honeymoon situation because their interests are aligned,” former European Central Bank chief economist Peter Praet said. “There is no inflation, so the central banks ask the fiscal authority to spend more to support aggregate demand,” he told a later panel discussion hosted by the Institute of International Finance. “But when their interests start to diverge, that's a very delicate moment.” The debt deluge may have other consequences. The Treasury market is now so large that that it may not be able to function smoothly on its own during times of stress, according to Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Randal Quarles. He told a virtual discussion organized by the Hoover Institution on Oct. 14 that it was an “open question” whether the Fed would have to keep buying Treasuries to aid the working of the market. The central bank is currently purchasing about $80 billion of Treasuries a month. Central bank leaders from Europe, Japan and the UK stressed the importance of maintaining the independence of their institutions at a virtual international banking seminar on Sunday. “We have to steer clear of what would be regarded in popular parlance as fiscal dominance,” European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said. Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, said the independence of central banks hasn't been eroded by their coordination with governments to help economies through the coronavirus crisis this year. The bond market is underestimating how strongly the U.S. economy will rebound, and that may lead to a “mini taper tantrum” next year, according to John Herrmann at MUFG Securities Americas. El-Erian said that the U.S. central bank has “conditioned the market to such an extent that every time the Fed tries to step back, the market forces them back in” by selling off and tightening financial conditions. Former Bank of England policy maker Paul Tucker agreed that the financial markets have come to expect periodic support from central banks after years in which monetary policy makers effectively delivered just that. “I wait, longing for a central banker to do for financial stability what Paul Volcker did for inflation, which is to break that psychology that you, the capitalist markets, are actually utterly dependent on the Federal Reserve and other central banks, propping up prices come what may,” Tucker said. So, we will see. Clearly, the institutional adjustment to more nearly normal markets will mean hazards for many current participants – changes that affect large stakeholders in the U.S. and global economies. These are efforts producers should watch very closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


Groups Push Meat Labeling Framework For Cell-Based Meat The North American Meat Institute and the Alliance for Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Innovation are sending a joint letter to USDA and FDA food safety officials on the topic of cell-based meat, urging the agencies to support “a labeling framework that fosters transparency, consumer confidence, and a level playing field while also aligning with longstanding law and policy.” The groups said mandatory labeling requirements should also be informed by “more information and supporting data on finished product characteristics for cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products, particularly those that may require labeling.” The groups urged USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to collect the information.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


USDA Reverses Course On Hemp Guidance USDA's Farm Service Agency last week issued a notice to state and county offices on making direct and guaranteed loans to hemp producers for the 2021 growing season and then abruptly pulled that notice back. The original notice indicated that hemp growers could no longer produce the crop under the pilot program that was part of the 2014 Farm Bill. However, the agency quickly withdrew that guidance, noting that “the 'Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act' authorizes operations to continue to produce hemp under approved 2014 Farm Bill Pilot Programs until September 30, 2021.” Given the extension in the continuing resolution, FSA said, “Additional guidance on making direct and guaranteed loans to hemp producers for the 2021 crop year is forthcoming.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets After traders get an update of the latest weather forecasts early Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau releases its September report of U.S. housing starts at 7:30 a.m. CDT. Traders will watch for a possible export sale announcement from USDA at 8 a.m. and any other news surprises that might emerge. Weather Tuesday will bring a rain-snow mix to the Northern Plains and rain to the eastern Midwest, causing corn harvest delays. Rain will also develop in the southeastern Plains and Delta with harvest disruption and possible damage to cotton.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


Farm Bureau Reviews State-Level Farm Income The most recent Farm Income Forecast from USDA in early September provided an update on 2020 farm income projections, as well as the first estimates of state-level financial conditions in 2019. Farm cash receipts are forecast to hit a ten-year low in 2020. In 2019, gross farm income from selling crops and livestock, federal support, and other income combined were estimated at $432 billion, rising two percent from the prior year. However, that was down $52 billion from the record-high in 2013. At the state level, farm income was highest in California at $54 billion, two percent higher than the previous year. After California, farm income was highest in parts of the western Corn Belt and Texas. Those areas have high concentrations of feed grain, oilseed, and cotton production, as well as livestock feeding operations. Farm income in Iowa rose four percent in 2019 to almost $32 billion. After accounting for production expenses, state-level net farm income again highest once again in California at $11 billion, a nearly 30 percent drop from 2018, and 27 percent lower than the ten-year average. Similar to gross cash receipts, net farm income was highest in the western Corn Belt and the Southwest states. Ad hoc disaster assistance in 2019 totaled $22.4 billion, up 64 percent from the previous year. *****************************************t***************************************************** CFTC Finalizes Position Limits Rule The Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved three final rules recently, including one regarding positions limits for derivatives. That completed the Commission’s rulemakings related to the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The Commission adopted new and amended federal spot-month position limits for derivatives contracts associated with 25 physical commodities and amended single-month and all-months-combined federal limits for most of the agricultural contracts currently subject to federal position limits. Under the final rule, federal non-spot month position limits were not extended to the 16 new physical commodities. Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts says he appreciates the Commission’s careful review and consideration of stakeholders’ input, particularly from the nation’s agricultural end-users, as they put the final rule in place. “This rule contains a clear definition of what practices constitute a bona fide hedge and therefore are not subject to position limits,” Roberts says. “This is critical to ensure all commercial end-users can effectively hedge commercial risk.” He thanked Commission Chair Talbert for keeping his word to both Roberts and American agriculture in finalizing the rule. ********************************************************************************************** ASA #SeeSoyHarvest Campaign Highlighting America’s Soybean Industry The American Soybean Association’s #SeeSoyHarvest campaign is in full swing and taking Congressional members on a virtual trip to soybean-producing states across the country. In a news release, ASA says, “If farmers can’t come to the Hill, then the hill must go to the field.” The first two videos in the campaign talked about topics like the value of U.S. soy in creating American jobs, the importance of access to overseas markets for U.S. soy, and how a robust infrastructure keeps transportation costs competitive. The latest video, “Biodiesel for the Future,” talks about biodiesel’s benefits, which include creating a new market for soy oil, diversifying the domestic fuel supply, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Videos will continue to be released Tuesdays and Thursdays through October. Bill Gordon, ASA President, says being able to travel to Washington. D.C., and advocate for top soy issues is a big deal to soybean farmers. “We love that the #SeeSoyHarvest Campaign is a workaround during the pandemic to continue sharing priority issues with our legislators, remind them that we are a resource as they make critical agricultural policy decisions, and offer a passenger seat inside our world to see what soy harvest is like on the farm,” Gordon says. More information about the videos can be found on the ASA’s social media pages. ********************************************************************************************** The U.K. Says Trade Talks with EU Are “Over” Talks on a Brexit trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union are over. Reuters says that’s the opinion of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who feels there is no point in carrying on any conversations unless the EU fundamentally changes its stance on several issues. Johnson’s spokesman says, “The trade talks are over. The EU has effectively ended them by saying that they do not want to change their negotiating position. The only way it will be worth continuing the talks is if the EU makes fundamental changes to its negotiating stance.” The EU had said its negotiators would travel to London for further talks this week as planned. Johnson’s spokesman says the Prime Minister feels there is no reason for the EU negotiator to make the trip unless “he’s prepared to discuss all of the issues based on legal texts in an accelerated way, without the UK being required to make all of the moves.” The UK is also asking the EU to be more willing to discuss some of the practical aspects of trade, such as “travel and haulage.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Ethanol Production Hits Five-Week High The Energy Information Administration says U.S. ethanol production hit its highest level in five weeks, while inventories reached the largest number seen since the end of August. Ethanol output in the seven days before October ninth averaged 937,000 barrels a day, up from 923,000 the previous week. The EIA says it’s also the most ethanol production since September fourth. The Midwest, which far and away produces the most ethanol in the country, reached an output of 900,000 barrels of ethanol a day, up from an average of 881,000 barrels, and was the region’s highest output since late July. East coast production jumped to an average of 10,000 barrels a day, up from 6,000 the previous week. Rocky Mountain output was unchanged from the prior week, producing an average of 10,000 barrels a day. Gulf Coast production took the biggest dive from the previous week, coming in at an average of 9,000 barrels per day after averaging 17,000 barrels a day, with the drop likely due to the effects of Hurricane Delta. The EIA also says inventories increased last week to 20 million barrels. That’s up from 19.6 million barrels the week prior and the largest amount of ethanol in storage since late August. ********************************************************************************************** China Leading U.S. Corn Buyer Early in Marketing Year A recent buying spree means China is running away with the top spot on the U.S. corn buyer list six weeks into the marketing year. China has purchased 10.4 million tons for delivery during 2020-2021, twice as large as the sales to date for Mexico, which is usually the number one U.S. corn purchaser. “Our top customer for the current crop year is off to a very rapid start,” says Ryan LeGrand, CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. “The phase one trade agreement is a factor, but Chinese importers are also practical and will buy what they need when they need it, and the price is right for them.” The USDA says 1.1 million tons of the corn purchases have shipped to China, and the rest of the 10.4 million tons remains on order. Exporters have sold 4.7 million tons of corn to Mexico for delivery this marketing year, and 941,000 of those tons are in Mexican hands. Mexico has been the top market for U.S. corn for several years now. During the last marketing year, Mexico imported about 14.5 million tons, while China brought in about 2.3 million tons.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Joblessness and COVID The American economy is showing fresh signs of deceleration, the New York Times said this week. It is being hammered by layoffs, a surge in coronavirus cases and the lack of fresh aid from Washington. The article cited the Labor Department's Thursday report that 886,000 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, an increase of nearly 77,000 from the previous week. Adjusted for seasonal variations, the total was 898,000. The rise follows the announcement of layoffs by major companies, including Disney and United Airlines, in recent weeks and a continuing impasse between Republicans and Democrats over another round of aid for the economy. A recent jump in coronavirus infections, principally in the Midwest and Western states, only added to the grim outlook. “It's discouraging,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics said. “The labor market appears to be stalled, which underscores the need for new stimulus as quickly as possible.” The economy had rebounded strongly in late spring and early summer as lockdowns eased in many parts of the country and employers brought back workers from furloughs. But those recalls have slowed, even as federal stimulus efforts have waned. In past recessions, 800,000 new claims for state unemployment insurance in a week would have been considered extraordinary. But over the last 30 weeks, that figure has become a floor, not a ceiling. The latest numbers “point to a lot of churn in the labor market, and it appears the rate of firings has picked up,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays. More layoffs are expected as sectors like leisure and hospitality are increasingly affected. In some states, restaurants have been able to salvage some business by serving diners outside but that option likely will disappear in many areas as winter approaches. “The course of the virus determines the course of the economy,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “You can't fully reopen with the contagion so high” and as federal aid is waning. A federal program set to expire at the end of the year, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, is seeing a surge in new applications. It provides 13 weeks of extended benefits after the end of regular state payments, which typically last 26 weeks. In the week that ended Sept. 26, the most recent period with available data, nearly 2.8 million people were getting the extended benefits, a jump from fewer than two million the previous week, the Times said. That increase was roughly equal to the decline in the number collecting state benefits. But managing and overseeing those benefits, which are administered by the states, isn't so easy, experts say. “The transition from regular state benefits to P.E.U.C. is not going smoothly,” said Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning research group. The Times examined in greater detail the cases of several workers and their responses to the economic pressures they face in struggling industrial sectors — and especially the tactics some workers who are caught between an unforgiving job market and uncertain prospects for help from the government have been able to use. However, in some places, recipients of state unemployment benefits haven't been notified of their eligibility for the federal extension and aging computer systems have slowed the processing of applications. Thus, for workers facing the end of regular benefits, the extended payment programs have proven to be a lifeline which now appears increasingly threatened. The Times article — along with many others — looked toward the end of the federal supports with growing concern. If it is not extended by Congress, “we're going to see a disaster,” Shierholz said. “There will be a huge drop in living standards and an increase in poverty as well as downward pressure on economic growth.” So, we will see. Almost every economic analysis in recent months has observed that central aspects of the economic outlook depend crucially on the degree to which the coronavirus is controlled — even as the outbreak is increasingly virulent in a growing number of states. The result is increasing concern as anti-virus efforts are increasingly facing political confrontations and election fights intensify — trends producers should watch closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


USDA to Soon Start Compliance Reviews On CFAP 1 The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will soon start compliance reviews on applications submitted by producers for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1). The agency said in a notice to state and county offices that it will be working with the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) to “randomly identify a statistically sound number of CFAP applications for review.” The agency also said it was “aware” that some state and county offices have “questioned the validity of applicant certifications” on some CFAP 1 enrollment forms (Form AD-3114). The agency said state and counties would be able to add any applications to the list of those selected by the national office that they believe should be reviewed for compliance. States and counties have until October 23 to submit applications for the spot checks beyond those randomly selected at the national level for spot checks. FSA also conducted spot checks on the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), basing those reviews on specified percentages of MFP applications where payments were $100,000 or more and for those paid less than $100,000.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


FSA Sending Out Annual CRP Payments Totaling $1.68 Billion Contract holders are receiving $1.68 billion in rental payments under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for the 21.9 million acres enrolled in the program. USDA said the enrollment total at the end of September was 21.9 million acres, with contracts on 5.35 million acres expiring as of September 30. With contracts on 3.4 million acres set to start October 1, that would put CRP enrollments at around 19.95 million acres. There were also another 425,777 acres that were enrolled under continuous signup 53 that ended August 21. USDA data indicates that most of those contracts have a start date in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 as the latest update indicated that just over 30,000 acres had a contract start in FY 2020. That would put total CRP acres as FY 2021 starts at around 20.35 million acres. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the cap on CRP acres rose to 25 million for 2021, up from 24.5 million in 2020. Contracts on another 3 million acres are scheduled to expire as of September 30, 2021 with another 4 million acres to expire as of September 30, 2022. This would suggest another general CRP signup could be in the offing for FY 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Monday's routine will look familiar to many with an early check of the latest weather forecasts for several crop areas, followed by a pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has a new export sale announcement. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m., followed by the crop progress report at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Snow is in store for the Northern Plains Monday with a line of showers and thunderstorms indicated for the southeastern Midwest. These areas will have harvest disruptions. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere with no drought easing in the southern Plains. Temperatures will vary from cold north to warm southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


AFBF Moves 2021 Convention to Virtual Platform The American Farm Bureau Federation announced Thursday that its 102nd Annual Convention will be held online. The announcement follows the cancelation of all events through January 31, 2021, at the San Diego Convention Center, where the convention was scheduled to take place. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, "While we are saddened to not meet in person for this convention, we are eager to bring this event safely to farm and ranch homes across the country." The 2021 American Farm Bureau Virtual Convention planned January 10-13, 2021, will bring together farmers, ranchers and industry experts. The online event will offer American Farm Bureau Convention favorites from the Ag Innovation Challenge and YF&R competitions to the Ag Foundation Book of the Year and the anticipated Farm Dog of the Year. Registration for the 2021 American Farm Bureau Virtual Convention will open later this year and will be free to all attendees. Further details on the event can be found at fb.org/events. ************************************************************************************ USDA Issues $1.68 Billion in CRP Payments The Department of Agriculture is issuing $1.68 billion in payments to agricultural producers and landowners for the 21.9 million acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Announced Thursday, the payments provide annual rental payment for land devoted to conservation purposes. Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce says, “CRP is one of the many ‘tools’ that USDA offers to producers and private landowners to help best manage sensitive lands.” Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to the nation’s environment and economy. Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. Meanwhile, CRP participants with contracts effective beginning on October 1, 2020, will receive their first annual rental payment in October 2021. ************************************************************************************ United Farm Workers File Lawsuit over USDA Suspending Labor Report United Farm Workers this week filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for suspending a farm labor survey. The Department of Agriculture last month announced the intention to suspend the Agricultural Labor Survey. USDA claims the public can access other data sources for the data collected in the survey. The Agricultural Labor Survey provides quarterly statistics on the number of agricultural workers, hours worked, and wage rates. Number of workers and hours worked have been used to estimate agricultural productivity, while wage rates have been used in the administration of the H-2A Program and for setting Adverse Effect Wage Rates. The lawsuit filed in Fresno federal court by the United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation alleges the notice will, "send ripple effects throughout the farm labor market, ultimately resulting in many U.S. farmworkers being paid less." The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunctive relief preventing USDA from suspending the Farm Labor Survey. ************************************************************************************ USDA, USTR Seek Experts for Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees The Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office are accepting applications for new members to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees. Members of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee advise USDA and USTR on operating existing U.S. trade agreements, negotiating new agreements, and on other trade policy matters. Members of six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees provide technical advice and guidance on international trade issues that affect both domestic and foreign production in specific commodity sectors. To be considered for candidacy, applicants must have significant expertise in both agriculture and international trade matters. Committee members, who serve four-year terms, represent a cross-section of U.S. food and agricultural stakeholders. They must be U.S. citizens, qualify for a security clearance, and be willing to serve without compensation for time, travel, or expenses. The committees hold frequent conference calls and generally meet in Washington twice a year. Application information is available online at fas.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Wheat Export Values Firm on Increased Futures, Export Value Wheat futures prices have reached unexpected heights recently. Higher futures prices usually pressure export basis values when farmers sell wheat into the rally because that increases exportable U.S. wheat supplies. However, U.S. Wheat Associates points out the market is undergoing a completely different phenomenon. Extremely tight elevation capacity out of the Gulf and Pacific Northwest due to massive exports to China is sustaining high wheat export basis values, despite increased farmer selling. Soft Red Winter futures are up 11 percent over the last month to recently $5.94 a bushel, the highest level since December 2014. U.S. Wheat Associates Market Analyst Claire Hutchins says grain traders generally agree that the run-up in futures prices is attributed to technical buying. That’s where managed money or commodity funds buy significant amounts of U.S. wheat futures contracts with the expectation that the contracts will gain value over time. Hutchins expects export basis levels to stay at these higher levels through January, assuming that Chinese buying remains strong. ************************************************************************************ NASDA to host 29th Annual Tri-National Agricultural Accord NASDA will virtually host the 29th Annual Tri-National Agricultural Accord Meeting next week, October 20-22. Expecting the largest ever attendance, delegates from the state and provincial departments of agriculture from the United States, Mexico, and Canada will gather to discuss implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, COVID-19 response, African swine fever, and gene editing, among other topics. The U.S. delegation lead, currently at 32 states strong, is NASDA President and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. The Canadian delegation will be led by Manitoba Minister of Agriculture & Resource Development Blaine Pedersen and the Mexican delegation will be led by Hidalgo Secretary of Agricultural Development Carlos Muñiz (moo-knee) Rodríguez. The Tri-National Agricultural Accord represents a longstanding commitment among the senior state and provincial agricultural officials of Canada, the United States, and Mexico to work together collaboratively on agricultural trade and development issues. The current arrangement is rooted in a U.S./Canada exchange dating from 1984.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


Washington Insider: More Pressure on Huawei Bloomberg is continuing to following closely U.S. efforts to limit Chinese competition in global communications technology markets and is reporting this week that Huawei Technologies Co., already being squeezed out of Europe's vast market for the next generation of telecom equipment, is under siege in another fast-growing business: cloud computing. U.S. officials have been lobbying European lawmakers and industry leaders to use Western companies – while shunning Huawei – to build data centers and offer infrastructure to handle the growing tide of information. Now, as part of a European tour last week, State Department Under Secretary Keith Krach met executives including Deutsche Telekom AG CEO Timotheus Hoettges and Meinrad Spenger, head of Spanish telecom carrier MasMovil, “to urge them to ditch Chinese vendors of cloud infrastructure” on data-security concerns. “Look at this as an extension of that 5G,” Krach said. “Clouds are really important, whether it's in the service cloud or in data centers themselves. This is a big deal.” Bloomberg is noting that increased pressure from Washington is affecting one of Huawei's fastest-growing businesses. China's largest technology corporation by sales has in past years has accumulated an impressive roster of clients, including Deutsche Telekom, France's Orange SA and Spain's Telefonica SA. It's now seeking to expand its reach to customers such as oil companies, power grid operators and logistics providers. While Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. operates a larger cloud business and WeChat-operator Tencent Holdings Ltd. isn't far behind, Huawei appears to be more vulnerable given the U.S. administration has managed to convince some governments in the region to exclude its 5G networking gear. Europe's cloud infrastructure is a $12.4 billion business that grew 33% this year from 2019, according to market researcher IDC. U.S. players dominate, led by Amazon.com Inc.'s AWS and followed by Microsoft Corp., IBM, Google and Oracle Corp. “Chinese players like Alibaba and Tencent are not making huge inroads into the European market,” according to IDC's Carla Arend. As European telecom firms are seen as slowly turning away from Huawei for their 5G infrastructure, U.S. pressure is seen as “already working in the cloud,” Bloomberg says. Orange CEO Stephane Richard told analysts in July that the company's cloud built on a Huawei infrastructure was “likely no longer relevant.” “Clearly today, the Huawei Cloud infrastructure is not necessarily the one we're going to be promoting in Europe,” he said. Orange's Huawei-built cloud is currently used by the European Space Agency and car-maker PSA. Just days before Richard's call with analysts, Orange signed a cloud deal with Google. Deutsche Telekom declined to comment on its CEO's meeting with Krach and its cloud-business plans. The company, whose biggest sales come from its T-Mobile unit in the U.S., has cloud partnerships with Cisco, Microsoft, OVH and Amazon's AWS. It also has an offer based on Huawei infrastructure called “Open Telekom Cloud” for small and medium-sized companies. While Huawei is struggling, U.S. companies are thriving, Bloomberg said. Nokia Oyj on Wednesday signed a five-year deal to move its IT infrastructure onto Alphabet Inc.'s Google Cloud. The U.S. provider also recently won a multiyear deal to store Renault SA's manufacturing data, marking the U.S. tech company's first major industrial cloud deal in France. “Huawei is losing market share in Europe,” said Jim Lewis, Director of Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. “I think its brand has been damaged. Their handset sales continue to do well, but in infrastructure they are being squeezed out of the developed world.” U.S. sanctions also appear to have jeopardized Huawei's supply chain. A U.S. ban on chip sales to Huawei kicked in Sept. 15, disrupting its wireless, handset and cloud offerings. In 5G, the UK has imposed a full ban, while France has devised rules making it riskier for operators to use Huawei equipment, without banning it outright. Telefonica, which retracted plans to use mainly Huawei for its 5G, sells a cloud application with the Shenzen company in Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. It also has partnerships with Google, SAP and Microsoft. Krach cited Telefonica as one of the 50 telecom operators committed to the U.S. “clean network” plan. Huawei is far from defeated in Europe, however. Last week, it opened an 8,000-square foot research center in an upscale Paris neighborhood. Local telecom champion Orange said it will selectively keep parts of Huawei's infrastructure in its offerings. But for now, the U.S. is maintaining pressure on its European counterparts. “All these companies that have cloud businesses and data centers that use Huawei, they understand that in terms of 5G, sophisticated smartphones and their servers, they are going to be out of chips,” Krach said after his eight-country European tour. So, we will see. It is increasingly clear that the administration is continuing its pressure on China and that nation's push into global technology markets – and that the administration appears to be willing to continue to offer expensive subsidies for agricultural producers who are on the front lines of that trade fight. Still, these battles tend to be long and contentious and should be watched especially closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


Mnuchin Said More Needs To Be Done On China Trade While there has been progress in rebalancing the trade relationship with China, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Wednesday that still more needs to be done. “China has a large, growing middle class, over 300 million people. If U.S. companies and U.S. workers can compete for that business, it's one of the largest opportunities,” Mnuchin said in remarks to a conference conducted by the Milken Institute. “If we can't compete for that business fairly, then they should not have free access to the U.S. system. This needs to be a fair, reciprocal trading relationship.” However, Mnuchin did not offer any indication of what would be pursued with China on trade in a second Trump term in office.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


Trump Touts Farmer Aid, Ethanol In Iowa Campaign Stop President Donald Trump on Wednesday spoke at a “Make America Great Again” rally at the Des Moines International Airport, talking up the administration's actions on ethanol and on farmer aid money. “Nobody has ever done (more) for Iowa and the Farm Belt and the farmers and all,” Trump declared. “I saved ethanol. Ethanol is safe.” Trump told the packed crowd, "You have a tremendous influence and a tremendous power and you've never let me down." Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Trump were tied at 47% among likely voters in Iowa, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released September 22. During his speech Wednesday, Trump also cited a poll released earlier in the day by Focus on Rural America that showed him leading Biden by six percentage points, 50% to 44%. Trump made a direct appeal to the state's farmers, saying that he was responsible for $28 billion in aid designed to help offset damage stemming from his trade war with China. “I hope you remember that on November 3,” Trump said.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets After several export sale announcements the past week, many will be watching USDA's weekly sales report at 7:30 a.m. CDT. At 8:15 a.m. CDT, the Federal Reserve will release its estimate of September industrial production, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. CDT. Traders will continue to watch weather forecasts closely for several important growing regions. Weather Friday will be mostly dry and cool across primary crop areas, generally favorable for harvest and wheat planting. Precipitation will be confined to isolated light rain and snow showers in the far northern Midwest and widely scattered showers in the Delta and Texas coast. Freezing conditions are noted in much of the central and southern Plains and Midwest. Moderate snow is indicated for the far Northern Plains Friday evening.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


China Purchases More U.S. Corn as Fears of Shortages Increase Private exporters report more large sales of U.S. corn to China. The Department of Agriculture Wednesday reported two large export sales, one of 420,000 metric tons and another totaling 264,000 metric tons for the new 2020-21 crop year. China needs to continue increased corn purchases to reach the lofty targets included in the Phase One agreement with the United States. However, China is still behind pace to do so this year. Meanwhile, more fears of corn shortages in China are developing. Corn futures hit a new record-high this week of 2,595 yuan, valued at $385.14 per metric ton. China's corn output is expected to fall this year after typhoons flattened crops in some parts of the country, further stoking supply concerns after Beijing ran down its massive state stockpiles over the last several years, according to Reuters. A market expert says, “The stockpile has been sold out,” adding, “The market strongly expects supply shortages.” ************************************************************************************ Enrollment Begins for 2021 ARC, PLC Farmers have until March 15, 2021, to enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage, or Price Loss Coverage programs for the 2021 crop year. The enrollment period opened this week for the risk management programs, known as ARC and PLC. The key Department of Agriculture safety-net programs help producers weather fluctuations in either revenue or price for certain crops. USDA says more than $5 billion in payments are in the process of going out to producers who signed up for the 2019 crop year. ARC provides income support payments on historical base acres when actual crop revenue declines below a specified guaranteed level. PLC provides income support payments on historical base acres when the effective price for a covered commodity falls below its reference price. For more information on ARC and PLC, including two online decision tools that assist producers in making enrollment and election decisions specific to their operations, visit fsa.usda.gov, or contact your local USDA service center. ************************************************************************************ WTO Rules Boeing Subsidies Merit EU Tariffs The World Trade Organization This week ruled U.S. subsidies to Boeing merit tariffs from the European Union. The European Union already has a list of expected tariffs, including various fish and aquaculture, onions, potatoes, and various forms of different fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer criticized the ruling. Lighthizer stated, “While we disagree with certain aspects of its valuation, the more important point is that the arbitrator did not authorize any retaliation for subsidies other than the Washington State tax break.” In April 2020, Washington State fully repealed the tax rate reduction, the only provision found in the WTO compliance proceeding to be an inconsistent subsidy that harmed the EU. The issue dates back more than a decade. After many years of seeking unsuccessfully to convince the EU and four of its member States to cease their subsidization of Airbus, in 2004, the United States brought a WTO challenge to EU subsidies. The EU responded by challenging subsidies to Boeing by the United States. ************************************************************************************ Pilgrim's Pride Reaches Settlement on Price-Fixing Charges Pilgrim's Pride will pay more than $110 million in a plea agreement related to a chicken price-fixing investigation. The company entered a plea agreement with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division with respect to its investigation into the sales of broiler chicken products in the United States. In the plea agreement, which is subject to the approval of the United States District Court of Colorado, Pilgrim's and the Antitrust Division agreed to the fine for restraint of competition that affected three contracts for the sale of chicken products to one customer in the United States. The agreement does not recommend a monitor, any restitution or probationary period, and provides that the Antitrust Division will bring no further charges against Pilgrim’s in this matter, provided the company complies with the terms and provisions of the agreement. Pilgrim’s Pride CEO stated in the announcement, “Pilgrim’s is committed to fair and honest competition in compliance with U.S. antitrust laws.” ************************************************************************************ Trump Announces Subcabinet to Modernize Water Resource Management President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order seeking to modernize water management and infrastructure. The order creates a Water Policy Committee that the White House calls the Water Subcabinet. The subcabinet will be co-chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. The committee also includes the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, the Secretary of the Army, and the heads of other agencies. Of note for agriculture, the order seeks to improve coordination between state and federal governments and communities, farmers, ranchers and landowners, to “develop voluntary, market-based water and land management practices and programs that improve conservation efforts, economic viability, and water supply, sustainability, and security.” USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey says, “USDA has already taken the lead to invest in America’s wetlands,” adding that work improves water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat. The new effort will develop a national water strategy to ensure the reliability of water supplies, water quality, water systems, and water forecasting. ************************************************************************************ Study Promotes Food Security During Pandemic As the spread of coronavirus continues to disrupt the U.S. economy, low-income households face a higher risk of food insecurity. This risk is more pronounced in families with school-age children who rely on food assistance programs. As part of a grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, researchers studied emergency food provisions that serve children and families in five U.S. cities during the pandemic. While the federal government expanded funding for school breakfast and lunch programs and other food assistance programs in the spring of 2020, there was no federal mandate that the programs continue, or guidance for carrying them out. Thus, local governments devised their own plans to provide emergency food services to low-income families, to varying degrees of effectiveness. The results found that the success of emergency local programs depends on cross-sector collaboration among stakeholders, adaptable supply chains and addressing gaps in service to increased risk populations. The research concluded that more robust guidance from the federal government may improve the effectiveness of the responses.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


Washington Insider: WTO to Allow More Tariffs on US Products The New York Times and others are reporting this week that the WTO on Tuesday gave the European Union permission to impose tariffs on $4 billion worth of American products annually. The award is in retaliation for illegal subsidies given to the U.S. plane maker Boeing. The Times said the decision “could result in levies on American airplanes, agricultural products and other goods.” The finding, which stems from a 16-year fight, follows a parallel case that the United States brought against Europe over subsidies to its largest plane maker, Airbus. Last year, the U.S. imposed tariffs on European planes, wine, cheese and other products with WTO permission. The decision affected up to $7.5 billion of European exports annually. It remains to be seen whether the new tariffs will persuade the United States and Europe to come to a negotiated settlement – or merely inflame relations and result in higher costs on businesses and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic, the Times said. The European Union has repeatedly appealed to the United States to remove its tariffs, but American officials say Europe has not taken the necessary actions to stop its Airbus subsidies. The tariffs will not go into effect immediately. The EU needs to request authorization from the WTO to actually impose the levies, which it can do at an Oct. 26 meeting or it could request an earlier session which would require 10 days' notice. The European Commission last year issued a preliminary list of American products that it could choose to tax, including aircraft, chemicals, citrus fruit, frozen fish and ketchup. The tariffs, when American companies are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, would be especially painful for Boeing, which is already struggling from a pair of devastating crises. Both Boeing and Airbus had earlier announced plans to cut more than 10 percent of its global work force amid a steep decline in travel, which forced airlines to delay and scale back plans to buy planes. Both Boeing and Airbus plan to cut more than 30,000 jobs in all. Boeing also is still struggling with fallout from the 737 Max, a star of the company's fleet, which has been grounded worldwide since March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people. In January, the company estimated that the grounding, which could be lifted in the coming months, would cost it more than $18 billion. The company is also contending with quality concerns related to the 787 Dreamliner, a wide-body jet designed for long-distance flights. So far this year, Boeing customers have canceled 438 orders for the Max, with hundreds more orders removed from its books because of the low likelihood that they will be fulfilled, the company said Tuesday. After accounting for new sales and cancellations, Boeing has lost a net 381 orders for the year. The WTO decision on Tuesday focused on a Washington State tax break provided to Boeing and worth about $100 million a year. Lawmakers there repealed the tax break this year with Boeing's support, but the WTO said the subsidy had nevertheless harmed Airbus between 2012 and 2015. Airbus contends that Boeing continues to receive other preferential tax treatment from the state. “Airbus did not start this dispute, and we do not wish to continue the harm to the customers and suppliers of the aviation industry and to all other sectors impacted,” Guillaume Faury, the company's chief executive, said. “It is time to find a solution now so that tariffs can be removed on both sides of the Atlantic.” Boeing said it was “disappointed” that Airbus and the European Union had pursued the tariffs even after the tax break's repeal – but said the company hoped that both would focus “on good-faith efforts to resolve this long-running dispute.” The European Union had asked the WTO to authorize more than $8.5 billion in annual tariffs, while the United States said they should not exceed $412 million. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said “the United States is determined to find a resolution to this dispute that addresses the massive subsidies European governments have provided to Airbus and the harm to U.S. aerospace workers and businesses.” Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commissioner for Trade, said that he has been “engaging with my American counterpart, Ambassador Lighthizer, and it is my hope that the U.S. will now drop the tariffs imposed on EU exports last year,” he said. “If it does not happen, we will be forced to exercise our rights and impose similar tariffs.” Ole Moehr, an associate director at the Atlantic Council's GeoEconomics Center, said that, in the short run, there were likely to be more barriers to trade than before, but that the ruling might ultimately “open the door for a trans-Atlantic trade détente.” “Both sides are waiting until the election is settled to re-engage and depending on the outcome we could see a ratcheting up of tensions before any potential deepening of trade ties,” Moehr said. “The Airbus-Boeing dispute is one of the keys to the entire trade relationship and today's decision, combined with the recession triggered by the pandemic, may change the calculus over the long term.” So, we will see. These very large trade disputes have the potential to affect trade far beyond the products that are the immediate focus – and, once again, both sides are deeply dug in regarding this particular fight, as they are on others. The U.S.-EU trade relationship will likely involve additional conflicts producers should watch closely as they emerge in the coming months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


FSA Reminds Producers ARC/PLC Signup for 2021 Started This Week Signup for the Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2021 crop year started Tuesday, October, 13, USDA's Farm Service Agency said. Signup for the programs ends March 15, 2021. Options include electing coverage and enrolling in crop-by-crop ARC-Count or PLC, or the ARC-Individual for the entire farm. Election changes for 2021 are optional, FSA noted. For the 2022 and 2023 crop years, producers will be able to make a new election during those signups. While enrollment started for the 2021 ARC/PLC programs, USDA has begun processing payments under the ARC-County and PLC program on covered commodities that triggered payments for 2019 crops. Those payments total $5 billion. Under PLC, payments were triggered for the following commodities: barley, canola, chickpeas (small and large), corn, dry peas, grain sorghum, lentils, peanuts, seed cotton and wheat. Oats and soybeans did not trigger payments for the 2019 crop year.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


Pilgrim's Pride Announces Plea Agreement In Broiler/Chicken Sales Case Pilgrim's Pride announced late Tuesday that they have entered into a plea agreement with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division relative to the investigation of U.S. poultry companies regarding the sale of broiler chicken products. Pilgrim's Pride agreed to a fine of $110.5 million for “restraint of competition that affected three contracts for the sale of chicken products to one customer in the United States,” the firm said in a release announcing the agreement. Pilgrim's Pride would not face any further charges in the matter provided it complies with the terms and provisions of the agreement. “Pilgrim's is committed to fair and honest competition in compliance with U.S. antitrust laws,” said Fabio Sandri, Pilgrim's CEO. “We are encouraged that today's agreement concludes the Antitrust Division's investigation into Pilgrim's, providing certainty regarding this matter to our team members, suppliers, customers and shareholders.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday's lineup is different than usual due to Columbus Day, but still includes weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, both out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department releases natural gas inventory, followed by its report of weekly energy inventories at 10 a.m. The National Oilseeds Processors Association releases its estimate of September soybean crush later Thursday morning. USDA's weekly export sales report will be released Friday morning. Weather Light rain showers are in store for the eastern Midwest Thursday. Other primary crop areas will be dry with favorable harvest and wheat planting conditions. Freezing temperatures are indicated for portions of the Plains and Midwest overnight Thursday into Friday morning.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


UN Report: Huge Rise in Climate Disasters A United Nations report confirms how extreme weather events have come to dominate the disaster landscape in the 21st century. Between 2000 and 2019, there were more than 7,300 major recorded disaster events claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people, resulting in approximately $2.97 trillion in global economic losses. This is a sharp increase over the previous twenty years. Between 1980 and 1999, 4,200 disasters were linked to natural hazards worldwide. UN Secretary-General António Guterres (guh-ter-rez) responded, “COVID-19 has shown us that systemic risk requires international cooperation,” adding good disaster risk governance means acting on science and evidence. Much of the difference is explained by a rise in climate-related disasters, including extreme weather events. The last twenty years have seen the number of major floods more than double, to more than 3,200, while the incidence of storms grew from 1,400 to just over 2,000. The report "The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019" also records major increases in other categories, including drought, wildfires and extreme temperature events. ************************************************************************************ NMPF: All Dairy Farmers Should Sign Up for DMC The National Milk Producers Federation urges all dairy farmers to sign up for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program. Enrollment in the program administered by the Department of Agriculture opened Tuesday. NMPF cites the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and the expectation of volatile dairy margins in the next year, in the need for DMC protection. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says, “Coronavirus-related volatility in dairy markets is expected to continue well into 2021, with DMC payments a possibility.” DMC, the main risk-protection tool for dairy farmers enacted in the 2018 farm bill, is designed to promote stable revenues and protect against financial catastrophe on some or all of a farmer’s milk. Despite forecasts in late 2019 predicting that DMC assistance would not be needed by farmers in 2020, margins instead fell to their lowest levels in more than a decade in the first half of this year, triggering payments that kept many dairies afloat. NMPF says DMC coverage offers certainty in times of need, allowing for better financial planning and faster payment when necessary. ************************************************************************************ New Program Seeks to Close Gaps in US Hemp Supply Chain High Grade Hemp Seed this week introduced a Farm Partner Program seeking to make consistent, compliant production a reality for the U.S. hemp market. Co-created by Center Pivot Group, the new Farm Partner Program will provide an infrastructure for hemp producers that guarantees a price for hemp flower at harvest. The harvested hemp must be grown in accordance with guidelines laid out in the partnership agreement. The program will roll out immediately in the U.S., primarily in California, Colorado, Minnesota., New York, Oregon, and Texas, before looking towards international markets. Initially, the partnership will be open to experienced hemp farmers who purchase High Grade Hemp Seed genetics. Contracts for biomass will be based on the trading value of hemp seed at purchase, with a revenue split after harvest between High Grade Hemp Seed and the farmer. According to Global Market Insights, the worldwide market for CBD is expected to reach $89 billion by 2026. ************************************************************************************ AEM Releases September 2020 Ag Equipment Sales Numbers All segments of ag equipment sales grew in September 2020, continuing a positive trend for the year, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 21.6 percent in September compared to 2019, while combine sales grew 8.2 percent. Four-wheel-drive units increased for the second month in a row in September, up 21.4 percent, cutting the year-to-date deficit almost in half. For Canada, September tractor sales were up across all segments as well, leading to an overall gain in tractor sales of 25.1 percent for the month and 8.9 percent year to date. Combines sales grew 9.5 percent for the month, while year to date unit sales remain 9.4 percent behind their 2019 pace. Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services for AEM, says, "we're cautiously optimistic that this year may end up strong despite all of the headwinds in the market." AEM is the North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers worldwide in agriculture and construction-related industry sectors. ************************************************************************************ Green Plains Sells Remaining Cattle Business Green Plains Inc. Tuesday announced the sale of its remaining 50 percent joint venture interest in Green Plains Cattle Company. The company sold its share of the venture to a group of investment funds that include AGR Partners and StepStone Group, among others, for approximately $80 million. Green Plains entered the cattle feeding industry in June 2014, with the purchase of Supreme Cattle Feeders, a 70,000-head feedyard in Kansas. Over the past six years, Green Plains Cattle Company grew to become the fourth-largest cattle feeder in the United States with a total capacity of more than 355,000 head of cattle across six feedlots in Colorado, Kansas and Texas. CEO Todd Becker stated the sale allows the company to “redeploy capital to support our long-term objective of building a technology-focused biorefining platform, producing sustainable, high-value, high-protein ingredients the market need.” Green Plains Inc. is a diversified commodity-processing business with operations that include corn processing, grain handling and storage and commodity marketing and logistics services. ************************************************************************************ National FFA, DEKALB Partner on Winning Has Roots Scholarship The National FFA Organization and DEKALB brand corn will unite on October 18 at the NASCAR race in Kansas. The partnership includes the unveiling of the DEKALB FFA Ford Mustang driven by Clint Bowyer, with dual historical wings for both the FFA emblem and DEKALB. FFA and DEKALB are focused on improving the future of agriculture, and together will offer students the opportunity to qualify for the Winning Has Roots scholarship. The scholarship will help one qualified student fund their continued education. The scholarship amount will be determined by the number of laps Bowyer completes at the Hollywood Casino 400. A base amount of $6,400 is to be awarded to the recipient, with an increase of $14 for every lap Bowyer completes. If all 267 laps are completed, the scholarship will increase to $10,138. If Bowyer wins the race, the scholarship will be increased to $14,000. Final scholarship amount, details and next steps will be announced following the October 18 race.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


Washington Insider: IMF Meets as Global Recession Threats Grow The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are holding their annual meetings, with both calling on the Group of 20 largest economies to “extend a freeze in debt payments from the world's poorest nations that's set to expire at year end.” Bloomberg is reporting this week that “the guardians of the global economy will meet this week under the cloud of the worst recession since the Great Depression—at the same time the recovery increasingly depends on development of a coronavirus vaccine.” The IMF has been encouraging governments to spend whatever they need to confront the crisis, even while warning that “debt as a percentage of GDP will rise to about 100% for the first time.” Fund officials earlier this month proposed reforms to debt restructuring for countries that struggle to meet obligations, a burden expected to rise as the pandemic batters economies. Debt vulnerabilities will be a key theme of the meetings, according to first deputy managing director Geoffrey Okamoto. The G-20 agreed in April to waive billions of dollars in repayments by poorer nations until the end of the year under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative. However, the World Bank now says this isn't enough and wants borrowings reduced to prevent a bigger fallout. The IMF has also been working to figure out how to transfer existing reserve assets known as special drawing rights from rich countries that don't need them to poorer nations that do. A proposal to create $500 billion in SDRs was blocked in April by the U.S., the fund's biggest shareholder, which criticized the plan as “inefficient.” The report cites Tom Orlik, Bloomberg's chief economist who says that “with the virus count rising again in Europe, and stalled stimulus negotiations in the U.S., a better than expected third quarter is becoming a worse than expected fourth. Looking into 2021, “hopes for a strong rebound depend on containing the second wave of infections, a stimulus breakthrough in Washington DC, and widespread delivery of a vaccine by mid-year.” The report cycles through details of the outlook for selected regions and, especially toward Friday when a number of U.S. economic indicators will be released including for September retail sales and industrial production and the Michigan consumer sentiment survey for early October. Looking to Asia, the calendar includes the scheduled return in China from the “Golden Week Holidays” with trade data on Tuesday expected to show the export recovery continuing and inflation data on Thursday likely to show a moderation in price growth. Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea and Sri Lanka have monetary policy meetings scheduled through the week. On Thursday, a speech from the Reserve Bank of Australia Governor will be closely watched for any signals he's preparing to add stimulus, while employment data for September will be released. As the report considers conditions in Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, it notes that any surprisingly bad reading of UK labor-market data this week will likely convince a minority of skeptics that more stimulus from the Bank of England is all but inevitable. By contrast, data in Sweden, which adopted much lighter virus restrictions than the rest of Europe, will reveal whether the trend of decreasing joblessness there will continue. Also, in eastern Europe, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia all release inflation data in the days ahead. Central bank officials from across Europe are expected to take part at the IMF and World Bank meetings. In addition, European Central Bank Chief Economist Philip Lane and Governing Council members Francois Villeroy de Galhau, Robert Holzmann and Pablo Hernandez de Cos speak at an event on rising public debt and how to cope with it. Turkish data is likely to show that the nation ran a current-account deficit for a ninth straight month, as households hoard imported gold and foreign currencies to protect against lira depreciation and inflation. In Latin America, the IMF last week urged Mexico to boost government stimulus to speed up a weak recovery and output and manufacturing figures posted Monday should underscore that point. However, in Brazil, a less stringent lockdown and the government's massive income support has buoyed demand, suggesting the August economic activity reading out Thursday will be consistent with that of a gradual recovery. While inflation is picking up again across the region, it has never gone away in Argentina: analysts expect monthly rates of just under 3% and annual rates near 40%. Chile's economy is struggling, Bloomberg says, but the central bank's key rate is at a record-low 0.5%. It expects policy makers to keep it there for a seventh month when they meet Thursday. So, we will see. Clearly, many of the trends being evaluated depend heavily on the success of efforts to control the ravages of the pandemic — including a new round of payments for U.S. producers — important efforts that producers should watch closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


WHIP-Plus Remains Lawmaker Focus USDA last Friday finally released some information about the much-delayed and complex Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP-Plus) program, with promises for more info ahead. But Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said that while USDA's announcement was “better late than never,” the fact it took nearly a year to get to this point was “unacceptable.” While lamenting he should not have to “hold FSA's feet to the fire just to get them to follow the law and do right by folks in production ag,” he pledged he will be “keeping the coals hot and ready so Montana farmers don't get left out in the cold. Disaster relief needs to make it into the pockets of these producers immediately — no more delays.” USDA announced the end of signup will be October 30, but it has approved the use of a register even though they stressed that is not an extension of signup as no more names can be added to a register after close of business October 30.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


CFAP Payouts Continue to Rise Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1) totaled $10.22 billion as of October 11, including $5.0 billion for livestock, $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.8 billion for dairy, $769 million for specialty crops and $108 million for aqua, nursery and flora crops. As for CFAP 2, USDA said that payments as of October 13 total $4.5 billion as of October 13, including $2.4 billion in acreage-based payments, $1.3 billion for livestock, $452 million for dairy, $376 million for sales commodities and $109 million for eggs/broilers. By commodity, $1.4 billion has gone for corn (21.2% of the total), $1.0 billion for cattle, $534 million for soybeans and $452 million for milk. On a state level, $449 million has been paid out in Iowa, $352 million in Illinois, $347 million in Nebraska, $343 million in Minnesota, and $277 million in Wisconsin.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets On Wednesday, the Labor Department's report of U.S. producer prices at 7:30 a.m. CDT is the only official item on the docket. Traders will continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. The Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be released Thursday, due to Columbus Day. Weather Light rain is in store across the Northern Plains and the northern Midwest Wednesday, bringing some delay to harvest. Other crop areas will be dry with favorable harvest conditions. Southern Plains wheat fields have no rain indicated during the balance of the week. In the Pacific Ocean, La Nina shows strengthening to moderate intensity.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


U.S. Dairy Advances Journey to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Monday unveiled the Net Zero Initiative. The industry-wide effort will help U.S. dairy farms of all sizes and geographies implement new technologies and adopt economically viable practices. The initiative is a critical component of U.S. dairy’s environmental stewardship goals. The plan is endorsed by dairy industry leaders and farmers to achieve carbon neutrality, optimized water usage and improved water quality by 2050. The organization also announced a key milestone on its journey toward carbon neutrality, an up to $10 million commitment and multi-year partnership with Nestlé to support the initiative and scale access to environmental practices and resources on U.S. farms. The goals include becoming carbon neutral or better, optimize water use while maximizing recycling, and improve water quality by optimizing utilization of manure and nutrients. Officials say dairy companies and farms are already contributing to the goals in individual ways, and the dairy community will continue those efforts through the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment. ************************************************************************************ AEM Announces Sustainability Council The Association of Equipment Monday announced a Sustainability Council. The council is comprised of leaders from AEM member companies. The council will help advance AEM member-efforts in addressing issues of sustainability and provide a framework for the adoption of best practices and innovation. Curt Blades, senior vice president of Ag Services at AEM, says, "The Sustainability Council will work to spark ideas for establishing sustainability priorities for the equipment manufacturing industry and provide a framework that supports best practices for a more viable world." The association has worked to address societal and safety issues on behalf of the industry for more than a century. Those efforts include the health and well-being of the industry, economic growth and security and industry innovation. The announcement states, “We recognize our industry’s connection to the natural environment and are dedicated to minimizing our operational impact, adding, “our future as an industry depends on the responsible use of natural resources.” ************************************************************************************ Study: COVID-19 Present Opportunity for Online Agricultural Retailers COVID-19 is having a huge impact on farmers' purchasing practices, according to new research by leading global consultancy, McKinsey & Company. The survey of financial decision-makers at farms across Europe reveals that 95 percent of farms are considering adjusting purchasing behavior to minimize physical interactions in response to the pandemic. Digital purchasing may provide the answer, with McKinsey uncovering an increase in both farmers' desire to use digital channels to make product-purchase decisions, up from 51 percent in 2019 to 87 percent post-COVID-19, and their desire to use digital channels to make actual purchases reaching 69 percent. However, researchers say only 22 percent of farmers surveyed have made an online purchase over the past 12 months as of May. As attitudes shift in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies in the agriculture industry have an opportunity to accelerate their online presence, work out omnichannel strategies, and perhaps even change their business models to better meet farmers' needs. ************************************************************************************ 2021 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo Goes Virtual The National Biodiesel Conference and Expo is going virtual for the 2021 event January 18-21. The event is going online to share the latest biodiesel and renewable diesel industry news, highlight key speakers, and showcase industry sponsor companies. The virtual event will be accessible to everyone, sharing the industry’s message from coast to coast through a new, safe format that will rise to meet the needs of all attendees. The event is one of many in early 2021 pivoting to a virtual platform due to COVID-19 concerns. NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen says, “we can't wait to kick off a new year in 2021 with our members and key industry partners during our first-ever virtual conference.” The conference includes topics on low-carbon fuels, bioheat, the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the changing landscape for diesel vehicles, among many others. Registration is open for the 2021 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo online at biodieselconference.org. ************************************************************************************ No Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in 2021 The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo's executive committee voted unanimously last week to cancel the 2021 Show scheduled for January 15 through February 6. Event leadership says, “the challenges we face to create practical and enforceable protocols and procedures to comply with COVID-19 guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are extremely daunting.” More than 30,000 animals are typically exhibited, in addition to approximately 2,300 participants in the competitions and exhibitions. Daily Stock Show attendance can exceed 140,000 people that crowd into buildings at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. Consultations with infectious disease professionals and public health professionals indicate the Stock Show would rank as a “very high risk” for spread of COVID-19, potentially impacting populations and healthcare systems. In a statement, organizers say, “We feel a responsibility to be proactive.” The only other time a Stock Show was canceled was 1943, near the height of World War II. ************************************************************************************ October 13 is Global Fertilizer Day Today, Tuesday, October 13, is Global Fertilizer Day, as proclaimed by The Fertilizer Institute. TFI describes the day as an annual event seeking to educate people about the fertilizer industry and its contribution to feeding the global population. TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch says, “We feed the world, we do it sustainably, and we are proud of the women and men working in our industry to make it all happen.” In years past, facilities have opened their doors to local school students, elected officials and the public for facility tours and presentations. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 celebrations have gone mostly virtual. TFI and the Nutrients for Life Foundation are jointly hosting a virtual learning event Today (Tuesday) focused on workforce development by highlighting available career pathways in the fertilizer industry. TFI is also helping the industry spread the word through social media channels. Learn more about the effort online at tfi.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Wrangling Over a New Stimulus Politico is reporting this week that top Trump administration officials are working to repurpose some previously approved PPP money and that the “latest salvo in a week of twists and turns in talks between the White House and congressional leaders on a new round,” continues to unfold. “Now is the time for us to come together and immediately vote on a bill to allow us to spend the unused Paycheck Protection Program funds while we continue to work toward a comprehensive package,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote on Sunday to members of the House and Senate. “The all-or-nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people.” The letter follows a “number of mixed signals from the administration” over the past week — including a break in stimulus talks by the president — and then a reversal of course on “a variety of relief measures.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Sunday rejected the latest $1.8 trillion stimulus offer from Mnuchin. Many Senate Republicans, meanwhile, say they are wary of greenlighting yet another hefty relief package. Meadows and Mnuchin reserved their criticism for the Democratic-led House for passing two massive relief bills largely along party lines “instead of compromising with us on bipartisan legislation like we have done in the past.” “We will continue to try to work with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer,” the pair wrote. “It is not just about the top-line number but also about legislation that can be passed by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by the president to help the American people.” The two sides continue to differ on a wide range of issues, including the overall price tag of the next package. The latest Democratic proposal clocked in at $2.2 trillion, about $400 billion more than the latest White House offer, Politico said. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that Secretary Mnuchin could make a larger stimulus offer to Democrats after Trump said on Friday that he wanted a larger relief package than either party has offered. In a TV interview, CNN host Jake Tapper had pressed Kudlow on whether the Treasury secretary — who is spearheading the stimulus talks with Pelosi—would offer more than the $2.2 trillion package the House passed earlier this month. “He may. He may,” Kudlow said of Mnuchin. “Secretary Mnuchin is up to $1.8 trillion. So, the bid and the offer is narrowing somewhat between the two sides.” “President Trump actually has always said... as far as the key elements are concerned, the checks, the unemployment assistance, the small-business assistance — we have got to help airlines out—he would go further,” Kudlow added. “So, I think Secretary Mnuchin, who is a very good negotiator, will be carrying the president's message.” The president had abruptly cut off relief talks with House leaders last week, saying his administration wouldn't negotiate until after the election. But soon after that, the president called on lawmakers to approve individual relief measures, including another round of stimulus checks and aid to airlines. And, on Friday, the president said he “would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering.” His comments came amid the new, $1.8 trillion offer by Mnuchin to Democrats. In a letter to House Democrats on Sunday, Speaker Pelosi rejected the latest offer, arguing that it “does not meet the health needs” of the pandemic. She added that until differences on what is in the packages can be bridged, “we remain at an impasse.” Kudlow, meanwhile, downplayed Senate Republican opposition to a new multitrillion-dollar stimulus and indicated that the GOP would go along if a deal were struck between the White House and Democrats. “Don't forget, the Republicans in the Senate put up their own bill a few weeks ago and got 53 votes, I think it was. So, they united,” he said. “I think, if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it.” Still, during the CNN interview, Kudlow and Tapper sparred over the political dynamics of passing another large aid package. Kudlow blamed Democrats for holding up a deal, but Tapper pressed the White House economic adviser on entrenched resistance from Senate Republicans. “I don't understand the intransigence from my Democratic friends,” Kudlow said. “Well, I'm not talking about your Democratic friends,” Tapper replied. “I'm talking about 20 Senate Republicans who were mad at Secretary Mnuchin and saying that the proposal of $1.8 trillion was way too much. They called it a death knell.” In addition, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has expressed skepticism that a massive new relief package could pass the Senate in the coming weeks. He's focused the chamber's attention on confirming Trump's Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett. Many Republicans have also raised the specter of an expanding budget deficit after lawmakers enacted trillions in pandemic aid in the spring. The Senate GOP rolled out a narrower relief bill in September, but the measure was blocked by Democrats. So, we will see. There appears to be strong support for further coronavirus stimulus, but the fog of politics is almost impossible to penetrate as the runup to next month's elections proceeds. And, the economic uncertainty is intensified by concerns that the recovery may well be slowing more than anticipated. Certainly, these are trends and issues producers should continue to watch very closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


Britain Acts To Prevent Vote On Imports Of Chlorinated Chicken, Hormone-Fed Beef The British government will use an “obscure” rule to prevent lawmakers from a vote aimed at blocking imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef, according to a report in the Independent newspaper. This would defeat an attempt to give powers to a new watchdog at a time when the EU is worried Britain's post-Brexit trade deals, particularly with the U.S., could ease food and animal welfare standards. The U.S. has long said EU restrictions on both fronts are not based on science. But there has been significant resistance on the topics from within the UK to a degree but more specifically in the broader EU that the UK is in the process of leaving.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


FSA says WHIP-Plus applications due October 30 USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) said that October 30 is now the deadline for affected producers to submit applications for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program – Plus (WHIP-Plus) for 2018 and 2019 losses. USDA did not originally specify a deadline when the program was announced. FSA will launch a new tool on the farmers.gov WHIP-Plus webpage to help producers understand eligibility for the program and whether they had possible losses in 2018 and 2019. The tool will also allow producers an opportunity to provide information for FSA staff to reach out to them. FSA will announce soon the details for producers who experienced quality loss from 2018 and 2019 natural disaster events authorized in appropriations legislation. There will be a separate signup period for producers reporting quality loss. FSA has received more than 133,000 applications for WHIP-Plus disaster assistance and paid out nearly $1.4 billion in WHIP-Plus benefits.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday's reports begin at 7:30 a.m. CDT when the Labor Department releases its update of consumer prices for September. Due to Columbus Day, USDA's weekly grain inspections report will be released at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by USDA's crop progress report at 3 p.m. CDT. The latest weather forecasts continue to get widespread attention as do any reports of export sales that may surface. Weather Dry and warm conditions will cover the entire central and southeastern U.S. Tuesday. This combination will favor row crop harvest along with hurricane damage recovery in the south. Moisture will be confined to rain and some mixed precipitation in the Northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


U.S. Economy Still Sputtering as Ag Economy Showing Signs of Life CoBank says the U.S. economy has shown signs of improving since late spring. However, progress has slowed, and the economy remains fragile. As another relief package is off and then on the table, for now, CoBank says the economy will remain sluggish through the end of the year. A new Quarterly Report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange says rural America is experiencing a dichotomy of improving industry fundamentals and a rise in COVID cases. “The good news, from an economic standpoint, is that many rural industries have begun to turn the corner,” says Dan Kowalski, vice president of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “This is particularly true in agriculture. A weaker dollar has supported a price recovery in most agricultural commodities.” He says despite a large number of challenges this year, essential rural industries are finding new ways to survive, and in some cases, thrive.” For example, the U.S. ethanol sector continued to recover during the third quarter, reaching a new baseline level equivalent to 90 percent of pre-COVID demand. CoBank also says recent reductions in ending stocks and expected production have provided a relief rally for U.S. grain farmers. Dairy farmers and the U.S. beef complex also ended the third quarter in a stronger position than when they started quarter number three. *****************************************t***************************************************** Perdue Fined for Hatch Act Violations While Promoting Food Boxes USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue violated the Hatch Act in August because he encouraged voters to support the president’s re-election campaign while promoting food boxes. The event took place in Mills River, North Carolina, and was designed to promote the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel sent a letter to Perdue saying the ag secretary has to reimburse the federal government for the cost of the trip to North Carolina. President Trump attended the event, during which Perdue said the people lined up along the motorcade route were “part of those forgotten people that voted for you in 2016.” Perdue also told the president that those same people will vote for him for four more years in 2020. “They understand, under your administration, they’ve not been forgotten,” he added, “and this program is a great example of that.” The Hatch Act bars federal employees, even Cabinet members, from engaging in political activity while at work. “Taken as a whole, Secretary Perdue’s comments during the event encouraged those present, and those watching remotely, to vote for President Trump’s re-election,” the Hatch Act unit’s chief counsel wrote in the letter. The Ag Department didn’t respond to The Hill’s request for comment and didn’t provide an estimate of the cost of the trip that Perdue must now reimburse. ********************************************************************************************** WASDE Lowers Corn and Soybean Harvest Projections and Stocks As expected, the October World Ag Supply and Demand Report shows lower U.S. corn and soybean production, as well as lower stocks of commodities. Corn production is forecast at 14.722 billion bushels, 178 million bushels lower than the previous month. Corn yield declined slightly to 178.4 bushels per acre. Corn supplies are forecast down sharply from last month, thanks to a smaller crop and lower beginning stocks. The corn price rose 10 cents to $3.60 a bushel. Soybean production is forecast at 4.3 billion bushels, down 45 million bushels on a lower harvested area, and the yield is projected at 51.9 bushels per acre, unchanged from last month. Soybean supplies are forecast at 4.8 billion bushels, down 96 million on lower production and beginning stocks. The soybean price is forecast at $9.80 a bushel, 55 cents higher than September, due to smaller supplies and higher exports. USDA says wheat supplies are reduced by 32 million bushels from the previous month on the combination of lower beginning stocks and production. Projected ending stocks dropped by 42 million bushels to 883 million, which would be the lowest ending stocks in six years. The season-average farm price is up 20 cents a bushel to $4.70. ********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Producers Investing in Hand Sanitizer for the Long Term COVID-19 brought about a collapse in fuel demand across the U.S., pushing many ethanol facilities to either slow down or halt their production. Reuters says many ethanol facilities switched their focus from producing ethanol to manufacturing high-grade alcohol hand sanitizers. Demand for the product skyrocketed during COVID as Americans hurried to grab protection against the coronavirus. Several companies are beginning to view the hand sanitizer market as more than a temporary band-aid against lower demand for fuel. Many are making permanent investments in the production of high-grade alcohol that meets standards for producing the sanitizer. Companies like Pacific Ethanol, Green Plains, and Highwater Ethanol have all said they’re boosting the capacity to produce high-grade alcohol. Those announcements seem to indicate that some producers see more profitability in hand cleanliness because of COVID-19 than they do in transportation fuels. Fuel ethanol production around the country has bounced back from the spring doldrums, hitting 923,000 barrels per day, up from 537,000 in April. The Energy Information Administration says that the number is still four percent lower than the same time last year. ********************************************************************************************** Texas Representative Wants FSA Offices “Fully Reopened” Texas Representative Jodey Arrington recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Secretary Sonny Perdue regarding Farm Service Agency offices. Arrington is asking the agency to reexamine and update their COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures and safely reopen their local Farm Service Agency offices. The 19th-District Representative says those offices are critical to our hardworking agricultural producers, providing access to vital programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and the Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program. Their continued closures have caused frustrating and worrisome delays for those seeking the help they need. “While federal reopening regulations were necessary during the early stages of the pandemic, they now effectively prohibit necessary entities from physically reopening and processing vitally important applications for relief programs,” Arrington says. “Our local FSA offices need the flexibility to open and allow our patient agriculture producers access to vital resources.” While ensuring the health and safety of employees is important, Arrington says we must also find a way for these offices to open safely for the sake of the nation’s farmers and ranchers. ********************************************************************************************** Farmers Union Not Happy with CSP Final Rule The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service released their final rule to update the Conservation Stewardship Program, which the agency was directed to do in the 2018 Farm Bill. “With the help of feedback from our agricultural producers and others in the industry, NRCS has prioritized the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, including important changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program, which is designed to help farmers put more robust conservation activities in place,” says acting NRCS boss Kevin Norton. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says there are some improvements in the final rule, especially in its inclusion of soil health as a priority. “However, the rule does not elaborate on how this goal will be achieved,” Larew says in the Hagstrom Report. “We want the agency to provide more specifics about how the program will help farmers build soil health to help sequester atmospheric carbon, increase yields, and prevent erosion.” Another aspect of the rule NFU is concerned about includes the evaluation process giving preference to first-time applicants over previous participants, which Larew says basically penalizes those who’ve taken part in long-term stewardship.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Largest Banks Flush With Cash The nation's largest banks are being more cautious with their lending than they have been in at least the past 35 years, Bloomberg reports. Cash, treasuries and other securities effectively guaranteed by the federal government now make up more than 35% of the combined balance sheets of the 25 biggest U.S. banks, according to the Federal Reserve. That's the biggest share going back to 1985, and is 5.5 percentage points higher than the five-year average. Loans and leases now account for less than half of big banks' books for the first time on record, spurred by what appears to be a combination of lower borrower demand and lenders tightening their standards as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. The cautious stance will fuel debate over whether giant firms are prudently guarding against a worst-case scenario or exacerbating the pain by slowing the flow of credit, Bloomberg said. “The banks have been flooded with deposits and have nowhere to put it,” said Brian Foran, an analyst at Autonomous Research. “Healthy companies don't want to borrow because the future is still uncertain. Struggling companies would like to borrow to stay afloat, but as a bank it's hard lending to those sectors.” Next week, the largest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., will report their third-quarter financial results—and will detail their lending activities over the past three months. Investors will be listening for executives' commentary on how their customers are faring during the COVID-19 crisis. The KBW Bank Index has slumped 30% this year, fueled by Citigroup's 44% decline and Wells Fargo & Co.'s 53% drop. The S&P 500, meanwhile, has gained 6.7%. Hopes that U.S. economic growth would quickly rebound following widespread shutdowns in the spring have largely faded, with economists not expecting a turnaround until the second quarter of 2021, Bloomberg said. The pullback in lending comes despite some $525 billion in forgivable small-business loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, launched in response to the pandemic. Had the banks kept the mix of loans to securities and cash they've had in the past five years, the flood of deposits would've meant an extra $635 billion of loans for consumers and businesses, the figures suggest. Bankers are arguing that businesses have less need for credit, whether in the form of commercial and industrial loans or commercial real estate financing, according to the latest comprehensive survey of banks' senior loan officers. Households have been clamoring for home mortgages, loan officers said but there's less demand for other forms of financing, such as credit cards and auto loans. When compared with the range of lending standards that have prevailed since 2005, the heyday of lax mortgage requirements, most large banks told the Fed they're stricter now in doling out credit to all types of borrowers, with few exceptions. Almost half of large banks surveyed said that they're about as restrictive as they've ever been in the past 15 years when it comes to providing credit cards to subprime borrowers. PNC Financial Services Group Chief Executive Officer William Demchak told investors last month that his bank's lending probably would fall by close to 5% in the third quarter from the previous three months, a far steeper drop than the roughly 1% decline he predicted in July. More than 800,000 Americans have filed for initial unemployment benefits every week since March, nearly quadruple the weekly average in the previous five years, according to the Labor Department. Almost a quarter of Americans expect someone in their household to experience a pay cut within four weeks, while nearly a third say it's been difficult to pay for usual household expenses, according to the latest Census Bureau survey. Since the end of February, the largest banks' balance sheets have expanded by $1.3 trillion, thanks to a flood of deposits and an ongoing Fed campaign to buy government-backed bonds, mostly through the largest lenders. The banks in turn have channeled that money into growing their stockpile of cash and government-backed securities by $1.1 trillion. At Zions Bancorp NA, there's been virtually no increase in lending aside from forgivable loans to small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program, President Scott J. McLean said at an industry conference last month. “I'm not going to apologize for our loans being flat to down,” he said. “There's obviously limited economic activity.” So, we will see. In recent days, anti-corona virus stimulus measures have faced increased pushback as legislators attempt to pass new efforts into law. And, in these toxic political moments, any suggestion that the very large banking institutions that are being charged with the delivery of crucial economic interventions are falling short in their responsibilities likely will be the focus of bitter criticism. Thus, producers should watch very closely as next week's report emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


USDA Publishes Final Rule On Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) USDA has published the final rule for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) which makes changes to the program called for under the 2018 Farm Bill and also reflects the more-than 600 comments that were received on the initial rule for the program. USDA said that the reduced funding for the program could result in higher environmental benefits since the focus will be on those CSP efforts that provide a higher degree of environmental results.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


Office of Special Counsel Rebukes Perdue For North Carolina Visit A North Carolina stop by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue was a violation of the Hatch Act when he urged those at the Mills River, North Carolina, event that they could get four more years of the “decider-in-chief” if they voted for President Donald Trump, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. They said that there will be no disciplinary action against Perdue if he quickly reimburses the government for the travel costs that were paid by the U.S. Treasury. The law generally bars federal employees from engaging in political activities while on duty, but exempts the president and vice president. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington brought the complaint against Perdue. Prior violations of the Hatch Act by Trump administration officials have resulted in the Trump campaign providing the government with reimbursement.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets U.S. futures markets are open Monday, Columbus Day, but the federal government is not. USDA's weekly inspections report and Crop Progress report will take place Tuesday, but USDA is planning to put out daily livestock reports. As usual, the latest weather forecasts and any trade news will be watched closely. Weather Showers and thunderstorms will move across the western and northern Midwest Monday with harvest disruption and possible wind damage. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Hot, dry and windy conditions over the weekend further stressed early-developing wheat in the Southern Plains. The Australia Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) 30-day average is plus 12.3, with the 90-day average at plus 8.5. These readings indicate a moderate La Nina in the Pacific Ocean.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


USDA Announces Biofuels Investment to Increase Sales The Department of Agriculture touted biofuels investments in Iowa Thursday. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced USDA has invested $22 million out of the up to $100 million in grants available to increase U.S. ethanol and biodiesel sales. The funds were made available through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to recipients in 14 states. The program helps transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to installing fuel pumps, equipment and infrastructure. The initial $22 million in investments are projected to increase ethanol demand by nearly 150 million gallons annually. USDA plans on announcing the remaining investments in the coming weeks. On the same day, Rural America 2020 flew a plane carrying a banner over select Iowa cities. the banner read, “Trump Sold Out Ethanol for Big Oil.” The group cites Trump administration waivers to oil companies to avoid ethanol requirements that have depressed ethanol demand. ************************************************************************************ Trump Administration Invests $72 Million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Wednesday announced $72 million in grants to help rural residents access health care and educational opportunities. The Department of Agriculture says the investments will benefit more than 12 million rural residents. Perdue stated, “Increasing access to telemedicine and distance learning is critical to building healthier and more resilient rural communities.” USDA is funding 116 projects through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. The program helps health care and education institutions buy the equipment and software necessary to deploy distance-learning and telemedicine services. Perdue announced investments in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. One of the noted projects in Texas, the Epic Charter School is receiving a $969,000 grant to link urban schools in Oklahoma and Texas with rural schools, students and community partners in both states. In Kentucky, the Bluegrass Care Navigators will use a $500,000 grant to establish a regional telemedicine network with a hub site at its headquarters in Lexington. ************************************************************************************ Red Meat Muscle Cut Exports Strong in August August exports of U.S. beef and pork muscle cuts were above last year's strong volumes, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Variety meat exports were lower than a year ago, due in part to the lack of available labor required to harvest and export some items. Beef muscle cut exports were the largest in more than a year at 89,100 metric tons, up 3.5 percent, while export value increased slightly from a year ago to $611 million. August muscle cut exports also set new records in China and Indonesia and beef exports to Canada continued to gain momentum. Combined pork and pork variety meat exports were down two percent in volume and ten percent lower in value at $528 million. However, U.S. pork exports remain on a record pace in 2020. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom calls the trend in muscle cuts “very encouraging and especially critical” as production continues to rebound from the interruptions earlier in the year. ************************************************************************************ DMC Enrollment Begins Tuesday Enrollment for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program opens Tuesday. The Department of Agriculture announced the enrollment period this week, set for Tuesday, October 13, through December 11, 2020. The Dairy Margin Coverage Program, known as DMC, is a voluntary risk management program that offers dairy producers protection when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price, the margin, falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. DMC payments triggered for seven months in 2019 and three months so far in 2020. More than 23,000 operations enrolled in DMC in 2019, and more than 13,000 in 2020. To determine the appropriate coverage level for a specific dairy operation, producers can utilize the recently updated online dairy decision tool. The decision tool is designed to help producers calculate total premium costs and administrative fees associated with participation in DMC. For more information and to access the decision tool, visit farmers.gov. ************************************************************************************ Six More Indicted on Antitrust Charges in Broiler Chicken Investigation Six additional defendants were indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products. The indictment also charges one defendant with making false statements and obstruction of justice. A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado, returned the superseding indictment this week. A Justice Department official says. “Executives who choose collusion over competition will be held to account for schemes that cheat consumers and corrupt our competitive markets.” The three-count superseding indictment charges ten executives and employees at major broiler chicken producers for their participation in the conspiracy from 2012 through early 2019. The six additional defendants include William Lovette, former President and CEO of Pilgrim's Pride. Others are also from Pilgrim's Pride, Claxton Poultry Farms, and Perdue Farms. This case is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price-fixing, bid-rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry. ************************************************************************************ Wisconsin Mink Test Positive for Coronavirus Dead mink on a Wisconsin mink farm have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the infection Thursday, the first among Wisconsin’s mink population. All animals are now quarantined on the farm, meaning no animals or animal products may leave the premise. The response includes appropriate carcass disposal, cleaning and disinfecting the animal areas, and protecting human and animal health. Wisconsin is the second state with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 at a mink farm. Utah confirmed its first cases on August 17. There is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 to humans. However, people infected with the virus can spread it to mink and other animals. People suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are encouraged to avoid contact with pets and other animals while they are completing their home isolation to protect the animals from infection.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Dovish Fed Struggles Bloomberg says this week that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has done almost everything in his power to demonstrate his desire for higher inflation. Asked whether the Fed wants to get unemployment back down to 3.5% or below — a degree of labor market tightness that previous Fed chairs feared would set off spiraling inflation — he said, “Yes, absolutely.” Still, Bloomberg thinks Powell's pro-inflation efforts are “not yet” working. If the financial markets were taking the chairman at his word, long-term interest rates would be “leaping” to compensate investors, Bloomberg argues. Inflation that's chronically too low remains a perplexing challenge for central banks, which have an easier time fighting inflation that's too high. If Powell can't convince consumers, companies, and investors that the Fed can raise inflation, bad things could happen, the report says. A Japan-like deflationary psychology could set in as households and businesses put off buying big-ticket items — whether cars or machine tools — in the expectation that prices will fall. What's more, low inflation and soft demand for loans have combined to push interest rates to the floor, which robs the Fed of its No.â??1 tool for fighting recessions. To avoid outright deflation the European Central Bank cut its key short-term interest rate below zero in 2014. The Bank of Japan followed in 2016. Powell's Fed has resisted going subzero, but it has been the first to embrace overshooting its inflation target to compensate for periods of undershooting. Bloomberg thinks several factors are keeping inflation undesirably low just now, especially the demand suppressing impacts of the pandemic. The year over year price change index for personal consumption expenditures was just 1.4% in August. Meanwhile, the economic recovery is faltering as coronavirus relief programs have become less certain. In a speech on Oct. 6, Powell warned of “tragic consequences” for racial and wealth disparities if relief isn't extended. The Fed's new inflation policy is in part an admission that the old rules no longer apply. Policymakers used to assert with confidence that an unemployment rate below 6% would lead to high inflation. Yet even when unemployment hit a low of 3.5% in February, inflation remained below the 2% target. The August Fed policy changes are unusually dovish policies for the world's most powerful central bank and are making U.S. monetary policy “as easy as it's ever been in modern times, or even in nonmodern times,” says Padhraic Garvey, head of research for the Americas at ING Bank NV. But will it work? David Wilcox, a former Fed official who's a senior nonresident fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, calls it “a very substantial step forward.” Allison Boxer and Joachim Fels, both of Pimco, a big bond investor, are skeptical. For the Fed, promises are easy to make but could be hard to keep, Bloomberg thinks. When it comes time to let inflation run above 2%, there are likely to be hard-to-ignore shrieks of pain from the bond market and people living on fixed incomes. The new approach policymakers settled on recently involves more discretion than the Fed has exercised since the Greenspan era. Vagueness about the strategy likely helped Powell and Vice Chair Richard Clarida, who was in charge of the policy rethink, achieve consensus between the hawks and the doves on the FOMC. It also gives the Fed some flexibility in case of the unexpected—such as a sharp drop in oil prices that lowers inflation or a widespread crop failure that raises it. For many, the use of “less-specific” objectives is unsatisfying. “I wish it was a little more specific,” says John Taylor, the economist at Stanford and the Hoover Institution whose own rule for setting monetary policy has informed the Fed and other central banks. One observer says, “I do hope they know what they're doing.” He says he's inclined to give Powell the benefit of the doubt: “He seems to have his head on right.” The dream scenario for the Fed is that its messaging works, the economy strengthens, workers earn much-needed raises, consumers open their wallets, and companies are able to raise prices and get back to profitability. There's also a darker scenario that could produce rising prices. In that one, easy fiscal and monetary policies are politically difficult to scale back despite rising inflation caused by worker shortages, trade barriers that cut off vital imports, and other factors. In March, Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics and Manoj Pradhan of Talking Heads Economics wrote “The coronavirus pandemic, and the supply shock that it has induced, will mark the dividing line between the deflationary forces of the last 30 to 40 years, and the resurgent inflation of the next two decades.” Resurgent? Perhaps. “It will take some time,” Powell said at the Sept. 16 press conference. “It's a slow process, but there is a process there.” Spoken like a thoroughly modern, prudently irresponsible central banker, Bloomberg said. So, we will see. Efforts to manage the money supply are likely to be more difficult and controversial than at any time in recent years, and should be watched closely by producers as the season advances, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


USDA's Perdue Floats Possible WTO Action On EU Farm-To-Fork Plan USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has continued to hammer away at the European Union (EU) farm-to-fork (F2F) plan which is aimed at promoting sustainability in agriculture production. Perdue has been consistent in warning the F2F effort could affect global trade flows and negatively impact the ability of agriculture to feed a growing global population. Perdue's focus has been that the F2F effort is based on “subjective matters rather than definitive health and safety matters, and reiterated those views in a press call Wednesday hosted by the U.S. State Department. Perdue said the EU has countered the plan is driven by popular sentiments and demands. But he also issued a warning that while the U.S. did not want to take such an action, he would not rule out heading to the WTO on the effort. “I don't think we like to threaten about those kinds of things. If protectionism does come into play… then WTO courts are one avenue,” Perdue said, adding he wanted to resolve the issues through “diplomacy and the persuasion of both agricultural producers as well as European consumers.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


USDA Reports $1.96 Billion Paid Out Under CFAP 2 USDA's Farm Service Agency has released information on payouts made under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2), reporting that $1.96 billion had been paid out as of October 6. The total includes $1.1 billion in acreage-based payments, $543.7 million for livestock, $203.9 million for dairy, $103.8 million in payments for sales commodities and $2.8 million for eggs and broilers. By commodity, the payouts in this initial data included $687.3 million for corn, $414 million for cattle, $254.9 million for soybeans, $203.9 million for milk and $120.4 million for hogs/pigs.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets After traders look over the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8:00 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement, all attention will be on USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports, due out at 11 a.m. CDT. Corn and soybean crop estimates will be updated and lower ending stocks estimates are likely for new-crop corn and soybeans as a result of last week's Grain Stocks report. Weather Friday is the end of a dry week across the central U.S. with favorable conditions for harvest and wheat planting. Warm temperatures will enhance crop and soil drying. The Delta has a different story, with heavy rain and damaging winds on the way from Hurricane Delta.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Coronavirus Relief on Hold President Donald Trump dashed hopes lawmakers could reach an agreement on another catch-all Coronavirus relief package. Trump said the talks were suspended until after the November election. Trump claimed House Democrats “were just playing games” with Republicans and his administration. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed walking away from the talks is another example of Trump, "putting himself first at the expense of the country.” Yet, late Tuesday evening, the President suggested Congress pass stand-alone packages for airline relief, the Paycheck Protection Program and $1,200 stimulus checks. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew responded, “Americans need help, and they need it now,” adding Trump, “must reverse course and work with Congress to preserve our economy and the wellbeing of every American.” The $2 trillion House-passed HEROES Act included several agriculture provisions, such as payments to poultry and dairy farms, and funding for ethanol plants and textile mills. However, a month before the election, it seems any aid is nothing more than a talking point. ************************************************************************************ Group of Ag Leaders Endorse Biden-Harris A group of agriculture and farm leaders offered their support for Joe Biden's presidential campaign in an open letter. The leaders say agriculture is threatened by both environmental and economic challenges. The letter states, "America needs strong leaders who will tackle these challenges and shape policies that encourage agriculture to flourish." The letter adds, "These reasons are why we, a diverse community of scientists, farmers, and agricultural professionals…support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President and Vice President of the United States.” The letter includes former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former chief ag negotiation Darcy Vetter, and former National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. Additionally, various farmers, former state officials from Department of Agriculture offices and others, signed the letter. The Hagstrom Report points out that Sarah Garland organized the letter, a scientist in the post-doctoral research program at the Earth Institute of Columbia University. Garland was an intern at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration. ************************************************************************************ R-CALF Only National Cattle Organization Opposed to RFID Tags R-CALF USA is the only national cattle organization opposed to a proposal to mandate radio frequency identification eartags starting January 2023. The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposal would require RFID tags as Official Identification in cattle and bison. R-CALF USA requested APHIS withdraw its proposal because it “unlawfully amends substantive federal law that expressly grants America’s cattle farmers and ranchers the option of using various forms of animal identification.” The group’s comments also point out that the RFID mandate disadvantages cattle producers who reside in states with insufficient packing capacity because those producers will have to incur the costs of higher-priced RFID tags. In its concluding remarks, the group states that APHIS misinterprets the Executive Order by President Trump that the agency claims gives it authority to mandate RFID without a formal rulemaking process. Instead, “the agency is attempting to issue its mandate with a simple notice.” ************************************************************************************ AgCareers Releases Compensation During COVID-19 Report A special report from AgCareers highlights agriculture's workforce and compensation during the Coronavirus pandemic. The special report provides a hyper-focus on the most critical components facing agribusinesses during COVID-19. The topics include workforce planning, wellness/benefit programs and compensation practices related to salary administration for 2020 and 2021. The report finds 81 percent of agribusinesses did not have to make staff changes during the pandemic, and nearly 20 percent increased hiring of permanent and temporary employees. Most agriculture organizations were able to provide consistency regarding salary increases for 2020. Roughly a third of organizations had already implemented 2020 increases before the pandemic. A combined 30 percent of organizations did report being undecided, delaying or canceling previously planned increases. Looking ahead to 2021, companies continue to plan for increases, only 17 percent indicating it was not likely for salaries to increase. The prevalent estimated salary increase budgeted was 2.6 to 3.0 percent. ************************************************************************************ Nobel Prize to CRISPR Scientist Shows U.S. Falling Behind in Gene Editing The National Pork Producers Council says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stalled the development of emerging technology with tremendous promise for livestock agriculture. The FDA has claimed regulatory jurisdiction over gene-edited livestock and has stalled the technology in the U.S. for more than two years, according to NPPC. However, the scientists who invented one of the most promising forms of this technology, the “CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors,” were just awarded the Nobel Prize. NPPC President Howard A.V. Roth states the Nobel Prize award serves notice that "If we don't move oversight of gene-edited livestock to the USDA, we will have ceded this promising technology to global competitors at the expense of American jobs and our nation's global agricultural leadership position." The National Pork Producers Council has repeatedly called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be granted gene-edited livestock regulatory oversight. NPPC says gene editing accelerates genetic improvement that would occur naturally over time by making changes to an animal's own genome. ************************************************************************************ National Dairy Traceability Program Launches in Canada Lactanet Canada this week announced the launch of DairyTrace, the national dairy cattle traceability program for dairy farmers in Canada. Designed and built to be a centralized national system for the management of all dairy cattle traceability data, DairyTrace will provide protection, prosperity and peace of mind to the Canadian dairy industry in the event of an animal health emergency. Alongside the traceability module of Dairy Farmers of Canada's proAction initiative, DairyTrace will support the dairy industry by protecting the economic livelihood of dairy producers and bringing peace of mind to consumers in the event of an emergency. DairyTrace includes a mobile app and on-line database portal, that will streamline and simplify the recording and reporting of animal identification and movement. Under federal regulations and/or proAction requirements, everyone who owns or has the possession, care or control of dairy cattle must record and report animal identity, movement, location, and custodianship information.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Washington Insider: The Losing Battle Against the Trade Deficit Politico is reporting this week that as President Trump enters the final month of his reelection campaign, it's increasingly clear that he has failed at one of the signature goals of his presidency: reducing the U.S. trade deficit. New figures out Tuesday show the U.S. trade gap is on track to exceed $600 billion this year, the highest since 2008, just before the global financial crisis. The monthly deficit in U.S. goods trade with all other countries set a record high in August at more than $83 billion. The administration has blamed the trade deficit on bad trade deals negotiated in the past and unfair trade practices by other countries – but most economists disagree with that explanation. In November 2017, after returning from his first trip to Asia as president, the president promised that “we are going to start whittling that down and as fast as possible." Those 2017 comments seemed to be referring to just the goods trade deficit while ignoring the surplus the U.S. enjoys in services trade. The trade deficit measures the difference between what the U.S. imports and exports as the powerful U.S. economy sucks up goods from around the world. The deficit has grown dramatically from a mere $6 billion in 1975. A variety of factors contributed to the failure to eliminate the gap, which White House trade adviser Peter Navarro predicted in 2016 could be erased in one or two years. But the massive U.S. government stimulus payments to businesses and consumers helped U.S. imports recover faster than exports, pulling down the monthly goods deficit. However, even without the pandemic, the administration's tariff policies for China were never going to turn around the deficit, most economists agree. “Short-term fixes like tariffs don't work,” said Mary Lovely, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and professor of economics at Syracuse University. “It's magical thinking.” The U.S. trade deficit is fundamentally driven by larger economic factors—like the fact Americans spend more than they save and have to borrow from abroad to finance the difference, Lovely said. Politico also says the administration's $1.5 trillion tax cut in 2017 contributed to that problem by running up the U.S. budget deficit. This year, Congress has approved more than $3 trillion in additional spending to help the U.S. economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic, tripling the budget deficit to $3.3 trillion and pulling the trade deficit along, she said. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday defended the administration's trade actions and attributed this year's rise in the deficit to the strength of the U.S. recovery from the pandemic and investors buying gold as a hedge against the crisis. "In spite of the pandemic, our goods deficit is down 2.4% year-to-date, Lighthizer said. He also noted that the bilateral trade deficit with China fell by 17% to $345 billion as importers turned to other countries such as Mexico, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and members of the EU. For the administration to fundamentally reduce the trade deficit, it needed to address misaligned currency rates, experts say. The Phase One trade deal with China contains enforceable rules against currency manipulation, but it is not clear how these provisions will be enforced. Also, the revised NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada includes strong protections for workers' rights. But the fact that labor concerns were not addressed in the China agreement “just shows that the administration is not driven by any principles in this area, but simply by political expediency,” one observer told Politico. The administration hails China's agreement as part of the phase one trade deal to purchase $200 billion more of U.S. goods and services in 2020 and 2021. But the data released on Tuesday show that China is well behind on that goal. U.S. farm exports to China had reached as high as $25 billion annually a few years ago—but they fell sharply after Beijing retaliated against administration tariffs. Now, even with the purchase commitments in the Phase One trade deal, USDA forecasts farm exports to China in the current fiscal year that began on Oct. 1 at $18.5 billion. That's below the $21.8 billion during the president's first year in office. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus has also dwindled under this administration and is projected this fiscal year at just $4.5 billion, down from $21.1 billion in fiscal 2017. Even some longtime China hawks fault the administration's handling of trade. The president's decision to confront Beijing alone, instead of working with allies such as the European Union and Japan, meant that the phase one trade deal failed to address many of the most serious concerns about China's trade practices, said Mike Wessel, who has served on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review, a watchdog panel created by Congress, since it began in the early 2000s. “We certainly have to advance U.S. interests, but it'd be a lot better and more productive if we did it together,” Wessel said. The administration also failed to implement domestic policies that would encourage production of manufactured goods in the United States, Wessel argued. “China has an integrated structure to achieve the goals laid out in its 'Made in China 2025' plan. It's a holistic government approach. We don't have anything comparable,” he said.? So, we will see. The elements and tone of U.S. trade policies are very important to producers and should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Food Industry Officials Downplay Potential o Fresh Disruptions Relative To COVID-19 Another wave of coronavirus-driven closures of meatpacking plants is unlikely because worker testing and safety practices have improved since the spring, the chief executive of JBS USA Holdings Inc. Andre Nogueira said. Meat companies have installed automated temperature checkpoints, distributed safety gear to plant workers and installed partitions between some workstations to catch COVID-19 symptoms and prevent its spread in plants. “I'm pretty confident we are not going to have the size of the disruption we saw in April and May,” Nogueira remarked during a Wall Street Journal Global Food Forum this week. “The number of positives over the last two or three months in the plants has been pretty low.” Others at the forum indicated that changes in supply chains have also factored into expectations that disruptions are not likely to match those seen earlier this year.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Agriculture Regains Trade Surplus As Exports Rise U.S. agricultural exports reached $11.1 billion in August, up nearly 8% from July and the highest level since March when $11.9 billion in U.S. ag goods were shipped. Imports, however, eased to $10.9 billion, down 0.6% from the July mark and counter to the trend seen in overall U.S. trade which saw imports rise by a greater percentage level than exports. But this helped U.S. agriculture regain a trade surplus of $245.6 million, reversing five straight months of trade deficits and in six of the last seven months. This brings cumulative U.S. ag exports for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 to $123.7 billion against imports of $122.3 billion for a trade surplus of $1.4 billion. To meet USDA's forecast for FY 2020 of $135 billion in exports and $131.7 billion in imports, September exports would need to be $11.35 billion and imports $9.43 billion. With large shipments to China expected to be registered for some key commodities for September, the export target could well be hit. Imports have not fallen under $10 billion since February 2019, which would suggest the import total will surpass USDA's current forecast and further trim the trade balance, but still should result in an annual trade surplus.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT, USDA's weekly export sales report, weekly U.S. jobless claims and the latest U.S. Drought Monitor will be released, followed by an update of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Weather forecasts for North and South America and the Black Sea region are also being followed, as well as any trade news that might surface. Weather Thursday will bring yet another day of dry conditions across all primary crop areas. Harvest and wheat planting have favorable conditions. Dry soils, warm temperatures and strong winds will bring extreme fire risk to the Plains and northern Rockies. Meanwhile, Hurricane Delta in the Gulf of Mexico is consuming all available moisture as it works northward toward landfall on the Louisiana coast Friday evening. Hurricane and flood warnings are now in effect for the U.S. Delta during the coming weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


Farmers Showing More Optimism in Monthly Ag Economy Barometer U.S. agricultural producers became more optimistic again in September. The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer climbed to 156, the highest reading for the index since the pandemic began last winter and 12 points higher than one-month earlier. Since July, the index is up 38 points and is 60 points higher than its 2020 low established back in April. In September, producers were more optimistic about current conditions and the future for agriculture than in August. The Current Conditions Index, with a reading of 142, was 18 points higher compared to a month earlier and the Future Expectations Index rose nine points to a reading of 163. Organizers say The Department of Agriculture’s announcement of the second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments to producers and the ongoing rally in fall crop prices were likely the two primary drivers behind the improvement. Farmers were also more optimistic about making investments in their farming operation and about the short-run outlook for farmland values than they were in August. ************************************************************************************ Barchart Releases Updated Production and Yield Forecast Barchart released its October production forecast Tuesday, estimating a corn yield decrease compared to the September forecast. The company estimates corn production at 15.1 billion bushels, with a season yield of 178.2 bushels per acre. For soybeans, Barchart estimates production at 4.1 billion bushels, with a season yield of 50.5 bushels per acre. The data represents a decrease in expected yield for corn, relative to the September report, which predicted end of season yield at 178.4 bushels per acre. End of season yield for soybeans remains the same at 50.5 bushels per acre. Available to the public on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season, the Crop Production and Yield Forecasts provide quick projections before the Department of Agriculture’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand report. In September, USDA projected a corn crop of 14.9 billion bushels, and a soybean crop of 4.3 billion bushels. USDA will release the next monthly WASDE report Friday. ************************************************************************************ Corteva: Dry Conditions May Result in 2021 Herbicide Carryover Injuries Corteva warns farmers current drought conditions in the Corn Belt could cause herbicide carryover in 2021. The concentration of herbicide remaining in the soil at next season's planting may be too high if dry conditions persist. This will depend on herbicide chemical properties, soil characteristics and the weather, according to Pioneer Field Agronomist Bob Berkevich. Additionally, while this season's crop may be well-suited to tolerating the herbicide used, a rotational crop may be susceptible to injury. Emerging plants are more likely to show injury to residual herbicide levels if other stressors, such as compaction or cold, wet soils are also present. Berkevich says farmers cannot do much to change the concentration of herbicides present in the soil. But there are several steps they can take to help reduce the risk of carryover injury, such as reviewing spray records for each field to see what restrictions are indicated or even going so far as delaying planting. ************************************************************************************ NMPF Supports Efforts to Modernize Animal ID and Disease Traceability Requirement The National Milk Producers Federation submitted comments supporting a Department of Agriculture proposal on the use of Radio Frequency Identification Tags. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposes RFID tags as Official Identification in cattle and bison. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says, "A national animal identification system can provide immediate access to relevant information in an animal disease or food safety crisis that could endanger the entire dairy chain, while protecting farmers' privacy." The U.S. dairy industry has long advocated modernizing animal ID and disease traceability systems. Farmer organizations, including NMPF, formed a group called IDairy to collectively advance official mandatory animal identification to aid disease traceability. IDairy in received a USDA-APHIS cooperative agreement on premise registration and animal ID education that propelled the use of RFID tags in the U.S. dairy industry. Since 2009, the National Dairy FARM Program, Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, has also recommended use of official RFID tags for all dairy cattle. ************************************************************************************ Below Average Runoff Continues along Missouri River Basin September precipitation was well-below normal in the Missouri River Basin. As a result, September runoff in the upper Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, was 69 percent of average. Since January, precipitation in the upper Basin is well-below normal, a stark contrast to the last three years of high water along the river and flooding. 2019 saw historic flooding along the Missouri River, with the Army Corps of Engineers releasing large amounts of water from Gavins Point Dam, destroying levees and flooding farmland. This fall, Missouri River Basin Water Management Division chief John Reemus says, “Releases from Gavins Point Dam are being made to meet full-service Missouri River navigation flow targets.” According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, drought conditions continue to worsen across much of the upper Basin. Wide-spread areas of drought classified as Extreme are evident in Colorado and Wyoming. Moderate to Severe drought conditions are present in large areas of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. ************************************************************************************ California Wildfires Burn Record 4 Million Acres Wildfires in California have burned a record four-plus million acres this year, an area larger than Connecticut. The figure is more than twice the acreage burned in the previous record year, 2018. Five of the top six fires in California’s modern history have occurred this year, including the largest single fire on record, being the Creek Fire that has burned more than 320,000 acres alone. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reports that there have been over 8,300 fires in the state since the beginning of the year. The Washington Post reports scientists have linked the severity of 2020′s California wildfire season to a combination of human-caused climate change and land-use practices. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently stated, “If that’s not proof point, testament, to climate change, then I don’t know what is.” However, climate change isn’t the only factor. Scientists years of fire suppression policies have allowed vegetation, fuel for the fires, to build up in forests.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


Washington Insider: A Surprising China Defender Across the Trump administration U.S. officials have ramped up their criticisms of China for its international investments and social policies. However, the New York Times is reporting this week that while U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer has for decades been one of China's toughest critics, that has changed. Since brokering a trade deal with Beijing in January, he has “now become one of China's biggest defenders within the administration.” More recently, Lighthizer has criticized several proposed policy measures that likely rankled Beijing, arguing they could disrupt the U.S.-China trade pact that he and President Trump spent more than two years trying to forge. And, he has touted Beijing's efforts to uphold the pact and live up to its end of the deal. These views have brought Lighthizer into conflict with more hawkish members of the administration, including State Department officials who have advocated closer ties with Taiwan, along with members of Congress. Last week, 50 U.S. senators of both parties wrote Lighthizer urging him to begin the formal process of negotiating a deal with Taiwan. “We are confident that a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement would promote security and economic growth for the United States, Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific as a whole,” they wrote. “We urge the administration to prioritize a comprehensive trade agreement with Taiwan, and we look forward to working with you to secure this framework.” Proponents say dealing directly with Taiwan could help counter some of China's growing influence in technology and commerce. However, Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said concerns over preserving the current trade deal with China were likely to sink the prospects of Taiwan negotiations, at least for the remainder of this administration. “The administration, particularly of course USTR, they're focused like a laser on this trade deal with China,” she said. “The president doesn't want it to fall apart.” The president has said he is “not happy” with China for allowing coronavirus to spread beyond its borders and has ratcheted up punishment on Chinese tech companies, like TikTok and WeChat. Still, he has not “ripped up the trade deal or threatened to take additional trade action against Beijing. In part, that's because he faces pressure—from American banks, businesses and farmers—not to let commercial ties with China deteriorate further, especially right before the election, NYT says. The Times says important U.S. sectors eagerly greeted the signing of the trade deal in January as an end to months of uncertainty as it locked in new access to the Chinese markets for American banks and ag producers, as well as the promise of record purchases of soybeans, hogs and natural gas. However, the Times says those commitments are “widely seen as unrealistic,” and so far, China is on track to purchase just some of the goods it has promised. Still, Lighthizer defends the deal and told a House committee in June that China was giving “every indication” it would uphold the agreement, in spite of coronavirus. Instead, he reserved his harshest criticism for the WTO which he calls “a mess” in need of “radical reform,” and the European Union, which he threatened with more tariffs. Lighthizer's shift in tone is notable, the Times says, given that his reputation as a China critic during a long career in Congress, the executive branch and as a Washington trade lawyer. His history of battling China, including pursuing trade cases against the country and opposing its entry into the WTO was what first ingratiated him to President Trump, who held a similarly dim view of China's trade practices. But more recently, he has intervened to shoot down several policy measures that could have threatened China economically, including efforts by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to impose a sweeping ban on cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang over concerns that they were made with forced labor by Uighurs and other Muslim minorities detained in camps. Earlier this summer, as the administration sought ways to retaliate against China for its crackdown on Hong Kong, Lighthizer opposed the idea of placing tariffs — similar to those imposed on China — on Hong Kong. He was joined by other analysts who argued that the administration “should take strong action on Hong Kong and Xinjiang but only if those actions have a chance of changing behavior and don't have unintended consequences.” Now, Lighthizer's reluctance to begin trade talks with Taiwan has been increasingly opposed by officials from the departments of State, Defense and Commerce and the National Security Council, NYT said. Not everyone thinks trade talks with Taiwan would be a certain success, but the Times thinks that support in Washington for closer ties with Taiwan is growing. For example, when U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar traveled to Taiwan in August, he was the highest ranking U.S. official to visit in decades. The hope was that U.S. initiatives would build momentum and pressure on USTR to advance trade ties, said Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The State Department “did what they could in their realm of responsibility,” she said. “But at the end of the day, State cannot negotiate trade agreements and that's what Taiwan wants.” So, we will see. Clearly, U.S. relations with China are fragile, in spite of their importance. However, the Chinese markets for U.S. products are very important and efforts to impose changes in that region should be watched closely as the season advances, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


FSA Clarifies Who Is A 'Contract Grower' For CFAP 2 For the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2), the Farm Service Agency (FSA) has issued guidance to further clarify who is considered a “contract grower” relative to eligibility for the program. “For CFAP 2, 'contract grower' is a person or legal entity who grows or produces an eligible commodity or livestock under contract for someone else,” FSA said. “The contract grower's income is dependent upon the successful production of a crop or livestock or offspring from livestock.” FSA further noted that a contract grower “does not have ownership in the commodity or livestock and is not entitled to a share from sales proceeds of the commodity or livestock.” Using that definition FSA said, “A person or legal entity that raises or grows an eligible commodity under contract and has both ownership and risk of production loss in the commodity or livestock is eligible for CFAP 2.” That definition is key, FSA noted as those signing a CFAP 2 application are “certifying that they have both an ownership share and risk in the commodity or livestock included on the application.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


CFAP 1 Payouts Pass $10.2 Billion But No CFAP 2 Data Yet Payouts under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1) moved up to $10.2 billion as of October 4, according to the Farm Service Agency (FSA). That includes $4.97 billion for livestock, $2.63 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.76 billion for dairy, $743.7 million for specialty crops and $103.8 million for aqua, nursery and flora crops. Iowa continues to lead all states with $968.7 million followed by Nebraska at $715.1 million. California has moved up to the third post at $662.4 million followed by Texas at $629.7 million, Minnesota at $608.6 million and Wisconsin at $522.9 million. Even as farmers are reporting already receiving payments under CFAP 2 where enrollment started September 21, USDA has not made any payment data available. “CFAP 2 data will be available in the coming weeks,” FSA said.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Energy Department will have its weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. CDT, including data on ethanol production. The minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting will be released at 1 p.m., offering hints of monetary policy. As usual, the latest weather forecasts will get attention along with any trade news that emerges. Weather Wednesday will again be dry across all primary crop areas, favoring row crop harvest and winter wheat planting. The increasing dryness is hindering winter wheat emergence and early development. Temperatures will be above to much above normal.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


Stimulus Talks Remain Hopeful Hopes a COVID-19 stimulus package can be completed before the November election are increasing. With President Donald Trump and many staffers in the White House testing positive for the virus over the last week, Trump has indicated support for a new stimulus package. Trump stated via Twitter over the weekend, the nation "wants and needs" stimulus, directing lawmakers to "work together and get it done." Meanwhile, speaking to CBS's Face The Nation over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated, “we are making progress.” Asked if an agreement could come this week, Pelosi says, “that just depends on if they understand what we have to do to crush the virus,” referring to Republicans. The House passed another version of its HEROES Act last week, a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package. The legislation includes aid to ethanol plants, livestock producers who had to euthanize animals because of no slaughterhouse capacity, as well as a 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. ************************************************************************************ USTR Initiates Vietnam Section 301 Investigation The Trump administration Friday announced a trade investigation over two issues related to Vietnam. At the direction of President Donald Trump, the U.S. Trade Representative’s will investigate Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to the import and use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded USTR will also investigate Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices that may contribute to the undervaluation of its currency and the resultant harm caused to U.S. commerce. As part of its investigation on currency undervaluation, USTR will consult with the Department of the Treasury as to issues of currency valuation and exchange rate policy. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated, “Using illegal timber in wood products exported to the U.S. market harms the environment and is unfair to U.S. workers and businesses who follow the rules by using legally harvested timber.” USTR will issue two separate Federal Register notices this week that will provide details of the investigation. ************************************************************************************ Oil Prices Fall amid COVID-19 Concerns Oil prices lost significant ground last week over concerns about rising COVID-19 cases, including President Donald Trump testing positive for the virus. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed last week at nearly $37 per barrel, a drop from $40.36 last Monday. GasBuddy reports the national average price of gasoline has fallen in the last week, posting a decline of 0.7 cents per gallon over the last week to $2.17. Meanwhile, the national average price of diesel is unchanged from a week ago and stands at $2.38 per gallon. However, Patrick De Hann of GasBuddy says, “Friday saw the highest gasoline demand since Labor Day,” suggesting, “we may see an end to the possibility of future declines.” Government data released last week showed a small decline in oil inventories of two million barrels for the prior week, while remaining about 13 percent above the five-year average for this time of year. Inventories now stand some 70 million barrels, or 16.5 percent, above their year-ago level. ************************************************************************************ AFBF Announces Ag Innovation Challenge Semi-Finalist The American Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Credit recently announced the ten semi-finalist teams in the 2021 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. The ten semi-finalist teams were awarded $7,500 each and will compete at the AFBF Convention in January, to advance to the final round. The four finalist teams will receive an additional $7,500 for a total of $15,000. The final four teams will compete live to win the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award, for a total of $50,000, and the People's Choice Award for $20,000. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says the semi-finalists are "providing solutions for some of the biggest challenges facing agriculture," adding, "This includes supporting farms, ranches and rural economies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic." The top ten semi-finalist teams will participate in pitch training and mentorship from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business faculty, and network with representatives from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Investment Companies. To learn more about the Challenge and the ten semi-finalists, visit fb.org/challenge. ************************************************************************************ Farmers National Company: Land for Sale Near a Record Despite what has been a slower agricultural land market the past few years, the dollar amount of land that Farmers National Company is selling for its clients is near record levels. As of October 1, the company and its agents report actively marketing and selling land worth $300 million. Land being marketed includes good quality tillable cropland of all sizes, recreational land, ranches, pastureland, timberland, rural homes and acreages, and transitional land near urban areas. The amount of land for sale varies by region and by brokerage. Some areas continue to have less for sale than normal, and others are seeing a slight uptick in the amount of land listed for sale. Landowners have been and continue to be making decisions whether to sell now, in early 2021, or to hold onto their land. There has also been a reported increase in farmland interest by investment firms, seeking long-term and stable investment options. ************************************************************************************ NCGA Launches New Women and Mentors Program The National Corn Growers Association Monday announced a new women and mentors program. The first inaugural Women and Mentors Retreat will kick off virtually on October 15. Tara Smith, executive vice president at Michael Torrey and Associates and Kellie Bray, chief of staff at CropLife America, will open the event with a panel delving into mentorship relationships, including how these vital connections lead to career and personal growth. In January, NCGA will host a second virtual session and an in-person meeting in June 2021. The Women and Mentors program provides an opportunity for women looking to find the next steps in their leadership journey to partner with a mentor who has traveled that path, according to the organization. Mentors, who can be of any gender, both foster tomorrow's leaders and learn how to share the wealth of knowledge and understanding accumulated through years of service. NCGA is still accepting applications at NCGA.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Reports Emphasize Economic Outlook Uncertainty Bloomberg was mainly downbeat in its evaluation of the global economic outlook this week. It asserted overall that the global economy is entering the “final quarter of its worst year in living memory.” The report emphasized the “darkening outlook for U.S. employment, the impending halt to a United Kingdom furlough and the expiry of a moratorium on German insolvencies” that provided a glimpse of the trouble in store. And, it reported that the International Labour Organisation estimated recently that “the world would lose working hours equivalent to 245 million full-time jobs in the last three months of 2020.” Some of the world's biggest companies across a range of industries announced large layoffs within a 24-hour period last week, Bloomberg reported. Adding to those omens, the UK's main furlough program will end later this month — and a group representing the country's events industry predicts more than 90,000 people will be made redundant in coming weeks. In the UK, renewed clusters of infections underscore the vulnerability of already battered economies to further damage that could ultimately hit livelihoods, Bloomberg said. And, it said that the latest outbreak in Paris may force bars and restaurants to close, while London is at a “tipping point,” according to a local health official. The report said that Bloomberg's own economists see “a second wave of infections in the pandemic, as well as major corporate layoffs in the U.S. and the end of the furlough scheme in the UK that flag the risk that unemployment will rise into year-end. “Bad news for the immediate outlook is also bad news for the medium term, with deeper labor market scars threatening to drag on the recovery — even after a COVID-19 vaccine is eventually found,” Tom Orlik, Bloomberg chief economist said. The report called attention to the upcoming release on Wednesday of the U.S. Federal Reserve of minutes of its Sept. 15-16 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee that is expected to be “especially important” for Fed watchers, “beginning with details of the debate over the committee's new guidance on the conditions that will be necessary to trigger a rate increase.” The minutes also may reveal whether policy makers discussed increasing asset purchases and continuing to restrict bank dividends. And, there may also be a separate section summarizing discussions that preceded a special August 27 vote on the new framework, under which the Fed will allow inflation to run higher and unemployment to go lower than officials previously had tolerated. In its global scan, the report said that that China is “shut for its Golden Week holidays,” so it focused on trends for the rest of the region. It expects a busy week in Australia with the central bank announcing its interest-rate decision on Tuesday, hours before the government unveils its budget plan. Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government will likely outline additional fiscal stimulus, including infrastructure spending and tax cuts, intended to pull the economy out of its first recession in nearly 30 years. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will speak at events in the coming week and his remarks on the economic recovery and the outlook for prices will be closely watched for any signs of less gloom as the central bank prepares for a meeting later this month. Japanese wage and household spending data will offer the latest indication of how the economy is picking up after recent patchy signals. For European Central Bank policy makers including President Christine Lagarde and Chief Economist Philip Lane this week will be a chance to offer any clues on whether the latest disappointing inflation data are enough to move the needle in the debate for extra stimulus. Minutes of the ECB's September meeting will be published Thursday. Investors will also be listening closely to remarks by Bank of England officials for signs of any divergent views on the economic rebound and the potential use of negative rates. Monthly UK GDP numbers are due Friday. In the Nordics, Norwegian central bank chief Oystein Olsen speaks after surprising markets last month with a more dovish forward guidance than anticipated. Later in the week, Norway published its economic output data for August. Central banks in Poland, Serbia and Uganda are expected to keep interest rates unchanged, while Botswana may have room to cut. The report also added that this week's reading of Mexico's consumer confidence may show a fourth month of improvement. In central banking, Peru on Wednesday will pause at 0.25% for a sixth month as the economy begins to turn around, while the minutes from policy makers' September 24 meeting out Thursday may cement bets that Mexico's comfortable holding at 4.25%. Price data this week will show inflation coming off pandemic-lows in Mexico, Brazil and Chile, while still well under target in Colombia. Brazil's retail sales report for August will show monthly and annual gains with some loss of momentum. So, we will see. Amid all the political and economic drivers of uncertainty, the president's health issues will be of primary concern, as will any new U.S. efforts — or the lack thereof — to offset impacts of the COVID — all trends producers should watch closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


Canola Group Seeks Approval of the Oilseed As Renewable Fuel Source The U.S. Canola Association has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve the oilseed as a source of renewable fuel, which could feed an expected surge in demand for raw material from processing plants being developed. In March, the group submitted a pathway petition to EPA to add canola renewable diesel as an eligible renewable fuel standards product, said Tom Hance, Washington Representative for the U.S. Canola Association. The petition is not yet publicly available and is under EPA review, according to Hance. If approved, demand for the oilseed — and potentially its price — could rise and spur more imports from Canada. It could double the amount of Canada's crop that goes into fuel production, according to the Canola Council of Canada.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


OMB Remains Busy Reviewing Agency Plans The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed its review of the EPA plan on the application exclusion zone (AEX) requirements relative to agricultural workers. EPA is proposing changes to the AEZ under the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last week sent an interim final rule to OMB for review relative to hours of service issues for those transporting ag commodities. The FMCSA developed the rule to address whether, and if so to what extent, they should revise or otherwise clarify the definitions of “agricultural commodity” or “livestock” relative to hours of service (HOS) requirements for drivers. The agency last week wrapped up its review of USDA's plans to alter the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to reflect provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its report on the U.S. trade deficit for August at 7:30 a.m. CDT. Later the same morning, USDA will release more specific data of agricultural exports for August, including ethanol, biodiesel and distillers grains. The latest weather forecasts will also be watched as will any trade news that develops. Weather Dry and open conditions are in store across all primary crop areas Tuesday. This pattern will offer continued favorable row crop harvest and winter wheat planting progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


House Passes Amended Heroes Act The House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package that Democrats say is an update to the previous $3.4 billion bill that passed in May. The vote was 214 to 207, with 18 Democrats joining all the Republicans who voted against it. The legislation includes aid to ethanol plants, livestock producers who had to euthanize animals because of no slaughterhouse capacity, as well as a 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. The package incorporates many provisions that the National Farmers Union members requested during the recent virtual fly-in, including support for local and regional meat processing, farm-stress programs, as well as the nutrition assistance. NFU President Rob Larew is urging the Senate to quickly move forward with the final passage. “Throughout the pandemic, Congress and the USDA have worked to provide family farmers and ranchers with the help they need,” Larew says. “These efforts have gone a long way toward keeping farmers afloat during market uncertainty and supply chain disruptions.” However, the NFU points out that the strength of the ag economy depends on the strength of the overall economy and the wellbeing of Americans, so they’re pushing for another economic stimulus package. “The time is now for the Senate and White House to agree on a stimulus package,” Larew adds. ********************************************************************************************** PRICE Act Would Make Changes to Cattle Markets South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson introduced the Price Reform in Cattle Economics Act. The House Ag Committee member says the bill would increase transparency in the cattle market, as well as improve risk management for producers and support new and existing meat processors. The Hagstrom Report says he wrote the bill as a response to recent extreme cases of market volatility after the Tyson Plant fire in Holcomb, Kansas, in 2019, as well as during COVID-19. Johnson says cattle country is hurting and hasn’t fully recovered from the recent challenges. “USDA has laid out multiple areas where Congress could implement real solutions to improve the market,” he says. “The PRICE Act is the answer to many of the years-long challenges producers have battled.” He says cattle producers want a fair market and fair prices. “Congress needs to step up for cattle country,” Johnson adds, “which is what the bill will do.” The PRICE Act is supported by groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. ********************************************************************************************** Animal Group says Pork Sellers are Failing to End Sow Confinement World Animal Protection, a global animal welfare non-profit group, released its first “Quit Stalling Report.” It finds that companies from quick-serve restaurants to hotel conglomerates are mostly failing to meet their commitments to end sow confinement. From 2012 to 2015, many companies that sell pork set goals to end the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs and provide only gestation-crate-free pork. Many companies, including Campbell’s, Kraft, and Heinz, typically set target dates to implement the change. However, the group estimates that three out of four sows continue to spend most of their lives confined to gestation crates, with little space to move and even less to turn around. World Animal Protection says the deadlines many of the companies set have long-since passed, with little attention paid to the missed dates. Of the 56 companies included in the Quit Stalling Report, World Animal Protection says it’s especially concerned that almost 30 percent of companies no longer maintain the language in their published animal welfare policies or responsibility reports affirming their commitment to crate-free pork. Just 29 percent of the companies are publicly reporting that they are making progress towards or have achieved full implementation of those animal welfare commitments. *****************************************t***************************************************** Soy Growers Ask Ag Leaders to Urge FCC to Keep GPS Working GPS was a recent topic of conversation with House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson and Ag Committee member Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania. The discussion centered around the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to allow Ligado Networks to operate a terrestrial wireless network and how it will threaten the reliability of GPS receivers vital to precision agriculture. Because producers rely so heavily on precision technology, the prospect of GPS units potentially not working is critical to every single farmer that uses precision technology. “Our organization has been advocating for soybean farmers for 100 years,” says Jim Kukowski, the American Soybean Association’s Conservation and Precision Agriculture Committee Chair. “The arrival of GPS to farms has been the biggest technical advancement the industry has ever seen. The fact that the FCC would threaten our farmers with such a misguided decision is incomprehensible.” ASA joined leading ag organizations to support the Keep GPS Working Coalition. The Ligado website says the company’s applications will “protect GPS, enable the expedited deployment of 5G networks, serve America’s critical industries, and will improve the lives of consumers in rural and urban areas around the country.” ********************************************************************************************** Livestock Producers Applaud Legislation to Protect Against Predators The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council were pleased to see the House pass legislation designed to protect livestock from protected predators. It would compensate livestock producers who experience depredation by federally protected species and fund methods to reduce conflicts between humans and predators. In the Senate, Environment and Public Works Chair John Barrasso of Wyoming introduced the American Conservation Enhancement Act. One provision would provide depredation payments for livestock producers who experience animal losses caused by federally protected species, while also allowing producers to use non-lethal deterrence activities to help protect their animals. States previously funded these activities despite the federal level of protection for animals causing the predation. PLC and the NCBA have worked with Congress and federal agencies to provide relief to states through improved regulations and compensation programs. “Livestock producers and states face significant burdens when the federal government implements protections for species without any support for the economic and natural resource impacts their decisions can have,” says PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “This relief comes at a time when producers are contending with serious losses due to multiple events.” ************************************************************************************ Advancing and Driving Demand for Biofuels Through Research The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center is expanding its capabilities and offerings with one goal in mind; to create opportunities for America’s corn farmers. The National Corn Growers Association has worked with NCERC to help underscore the advantages of renewable corn ethanol. “At NCERC, ethanol will always be a foundation of our work,” says Executive Director John Caupert. “Just like when you’re building a home, a foundation is something to build on. As policy, technology, and industry have evolved, we are evolving along with it.” Now more than ever, new uses and market opportunities are needed for America’s corn farmers. One of the more exciting bioprocess developments is in the area of biopolymers. The commercial application of biopolymers is endless. From liners in cardboard boxes to liners in baby diapers, and everything in between, someday very soon, America will be able to utilize corn-based biopolymers. NCERC partners with multiple companies on dozens of renewable compounds, including biofuels, biochemicals, biomaterials, and bioproducts. The National Corn Growers Association says as the industry looks to the future and how to continue to drive corn demand, they’ll look at partners like NCERC to help farmers chip away at their corn surplus.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Food Shortages Intensify The Washington Post is reporting this week that U.S. food supplement programs are facing large shortages of supplies over the next 12 months. As a result, food banks have seen record increases in need even as donations and volunteers dwindle, the Washington Post said. The report focused on the tens of millions of Americans who have turned to a local food bank for help after becoming newly food insecure because of the pandemic and its fallout. About 10% of American adults, 22.3 million, reported they sometimes or often didn't have enough to eat within the past week, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's most recent Household Pulse Survey fielded between Aug. 19 and 31. “That is up from 18 million before March 13,” the Post said. The report includes interviews with participants in several programs, including Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks – which projects a 6 billion to 8 billion meal shortfall in the next 12 months. That deficit could be magnified as federal food assistance programs are scheduled to expire in the coming weeks and months. The Feeding America analysis estimates the total need for charitable food over the next year will reach 17 billion pounds, more than three times last year's effort. The Post focuses on several program participants. For example, one said that, at 41, he's been through quite a bit. His wife has a disability and he has been the primary breadwinner for a number of years. He has suffered from anxiety and depression for some time, once taking unpaid leave for a hospitalization. Since losing his job, he has liquidated his 401(k), used his $1,200 stimulus check to pay down some bills and opted into a special payment plan with his mortgage lender. But even with the extra $600 per week in unemployment the Cares Act provided, things have been tight. The article points out a change in the food business that “affects all income levels.” One participant in the charitable distribution program in Boston commented that “before the pandemic customers walked through and picked out their own items. Requirements for social distancing and contactless handoffs now require volunteers to fill prefabricated boxes, a more laborious process. And volunteerism continues to be way down.” In a normal year, Greater Boston Food Bank has 24,000 volunteers available to help shoppers – about 460 each week. Now, they get 100 to 150 per week. These challenges to food assistance are not unique to the Boston area, the report says. Still, “I have never seen any circumstances as bizarre and complicated as what we're seeing right now,” said Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force, a food bank and anti-hunger advocacy group in Milwaukee.” She says the pandemic has complicated food distribution, especially for those who don't have transportation or who live in remote areas. Food banks alone cannot be the answer, she says. Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of Feeding America, says that a Feeding America survey launched Sept. 15 and concluded Sept. 28, member food banks reported seeing an average 56 percent increase in demand. In August, Feeding America network food banks distributed an estimated 593 million meals, an increase of 64 percent from a typical pre-pandemic month. Fitzgerald says natural disasters add additional stress to regional food assistance programs. About 5 million schoolchildren live in a household where people can't afford sufficient food, says Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. There were about 6 million more participants in SNAP, the food assistance program formerly known as food stamps, in May and June compared with February, says Joseph Llobrera, director of research for food assistance policy for CBPP. Advocates say that the emergency rule on benefit maximums have alleviated hardship for many, nearly 40 percent of households already received the SNAP maximum benefit and thus received no increased benefit. Sixteen million low-income people, including 7 million children, got no additional assistance, according to economists at CBPP. Fitzgerald and other advocates have strongly urged a 15% increase in SNAP. Shortfalls in these programs put extra pressure on food banks during the pandemic. And the effects of these deficits are not just short-term, says Megan Sandel, co-director of the Grow Clinic for Children at Boston Medical Center. She says she has seen a 40 percent increase in her caseload, with over two-thirds reporting food insecurity. In the past, Sandel says, it wasn't unusual for low-income Americans to have to stretch a dollar at the end of the month. “Now they are running out of their food budget the second or third week of the month. Parents are going back into the kitchen at mealtime so kids won't notice that parents aren't eating themselves,” she says. “The larger food banks, like Boston and Houston, are experiencing greater philanthropy, but smaller ones haven't had as much success,” she says. So, we will see. There is widespread support for food assistance programs of many kinds, but the system is vast and complicated. These programs benefit both rural and urban families and should be watched closely as they are adjusted to match growing needs, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


OMB Finalizes Review of USDA Rule To Make Changes To CSP To Reflect 2018 Farm Bill Changes The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed its review of USDA's final rule to rule to make changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to put changes in place from the 2018 Farm Bill. The changes include confirming validity of CSP contracts entered into prior to 2018 Farm Bill enactment, it authorizes the ability to extend contracts that were due to expire on or before December 31, 2019, and authorizes renewal of such contracts through the new CSP authority and simplifies CSP ranking criteria and addresses other issues raised in 110 comments that were submitted on the interim rule on CSP.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


Senate Sends Caribbean Trade Measure To Trump The Senate approved legislation to extend the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act until September 30, 2030, under the Caribbean Trade Basin Economic Recovery Act. Eight countries currently qualify under the program, but Haiti has emerged as the biggest beneficiary because of the trade preferences as well as other U.S. programs designed to build the country's economy. Congress has yet to act on another expiring trade preference program, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) that expires December 31. The program offers tariff breaks on 3,500 products imported from nearly 120 countries.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Monday's lineup will sound familiar with weekly grain export inspections due out at 10 a.m. CDT. USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. CDT and feature corn and soybean harvest progress and winter wheat planting progress. As usual, the latest weather forecasts and any export sales will also get attention at the start of the first full week of October. Weather Dry conditions will again cover all primary crop areas Monday, favoring row crop harvest and winter wheat planting. Some frost is indicated in the eastern Midwest. The Australia Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) values are now in La Nina categories in both the 30- and 90-day calculations at plus 9.90 on the 30-day and plus 8.05 on the 90-day.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


Senate Approves Continuing Resolution: CR Bill Goes to Trump Late Wednesday, the Senate approved the continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11 just hours before the end of the fiscal year. The Hagstrom Report says the bill now goes to President Trump for his signature. Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts, other lawmakers, along with farm and nutrition groups, noted the importance of provisions that allow farm subsidies to continue to flow and hungry Americans to get food. The CR passed by a margin of 84 to 10. “In these wildly uncertain times, farmers, ranchers, and growers are counting on us to get this right,” Roberts says. “I hope farm country can rest a little easier tonight knowing that funds for the Commodity Credit Corporation will be replenished to continue farm bill programs and assist producers who are impacted by COVID-19.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says the passage is an “immense relief” to farmers, who depend on federally funded programs to access loans, technical support, as well as critical market and climate data. National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross adds that farmers have been working with Congress for years to develop and implement effective risk management tools that ensure a stable feed, fuel, and food supply, even during the tough times that many farmers face today.” ********************************************************************************************** Minnesota Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Meatpackers The U.S. District Court in Minnesota dismissed an anti-trust lawsuit against meatpackers like Tyson Foods, JBS, the National Beef Packing Company, and Cargill. R-CALF led several plaintiffs in filing the lawsuit. Chief Judge John Tunheim did leave open the opportunity for plaintiffs to amend their complaint. Tyson Foods says, “We’re pleased with the court’s decision.” In the ruling, the judge says the complaint didn’t give much evidence of how meatpackers conspired to manipulate prices for fed cattle; instead, “it resorted to group pleading, arguing that the market did this or that.” In his written opinion, Tunheim says, “The most specific allegations related to 2015 when JBS dropped its annual slaughter volume by 17 percent, National Beef by six percent, and Tyson by four percent. Plaintiffs then say little about the defendants in the years that follow when slaughter volumes actually increased. As for other allegations like a reduction in the number of cash cattle purchased, the judge says plaintiffs rely almost exclusively on industry-wide data and ask the court to infer that the individual defendants all contributed to the decrease simply because they make up a majority of the industry. The Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, the United Stockgrowers of America, and the Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America filed the lawsuit in April of 2019. ********************************************************************************************** New Soy-Based Product Protects U.S. Roads A new soy-based concrete sealant is protecting roadways in the U.S. while also supporting demand for soybeans and reducing maintenance costs for infrastructure. The United Soybean Board partnered with the Indiana Soybean Alliance on research and market development efforts for soy-based solutions in infrastructure for decades. They’re proud to announce that select Indiana counties have the opportunity to use a new soy-based sealant called PoreShield on their bridges. The brand-new product is made possible by farmers’ checkoff investments. PoreShield is being used on 77 bridge decks totaling 330,000 square feet in Indiana this year, with aims to expand the use in the future. The good news for farmers is, as PoreShield continues to be adopted as a solution, demand for soybeans grows too. On average, PoreShield uses 200 bushels of soybeans per mile of two-lane bridge treatment. That’s equivalent to 7.5 acres of soybeans for each mile demanded by this market. “As a renewable alternative, using U.S.-grown soybean oil as a concrete-durability enhancer is among one of 1,000 soy-based products currently on the market,” says John Jansen, USB Vice President of Oil Strategy. “It unlocks yet another use that drives demand for our soybeans, and with PoreShield, there’s enormous potential for roads and bridges that need these critical enhancements.” *****************************************t***************************************************** NACD President Stresses Importance of Conservation Programs During Testimony Tim Palmer, President of the National Association of Conservation Districts, testified before the House Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry about 2020 conservation programs. He detailed the successes and challenges of the programs brought on by COVID-19. Palmer, who farms in Iowa, says it’s vital that the Committee understands how important Conservation Technical Assistance is to the successful implementation of conservation planning and farm bill conservation programs. During his testimony, he highlighted the impact of state and local budget cuts caused by COVID-19 on conservation districts. He also described the success of NACD’s Technical Assistance Grants Program, funded in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in helping to boost technical capacity in conservation districts across the country. Palmer emphasized the role conservation districts play in coordinating locally-led conservation delivery with NRCS, and that the agency needs greater federal hiring authority to address their staff shortages. “Budget shortfalls or associated budget cuts often trickle down, causing conservation districts to furlough staff members who are often responsible for customer service,” Palmer added. ********************************************************************************************** Legislation Brings Needed Reform to Conservation Compliance Legislation recently introduced in the Senate would bring much-needed reform to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Compliance Program. The NRCS Wetland Compliance and Appeals Reform Act was introduced by South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds. It would require the NRCS to provide more evidence in determining wetlands and give farmers more rights in the appeals process. The American Farm Bureau has documented situations in which farmers have been hurt by repeated, unjustified, and costly decisions by the NRCS. These issues must be addressed. The Farm Bureau has advocated for clear rules and safeguards to ensure the fair treatment of farmers in conservation compliance. When USDA released the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Final Rule, it was clear the issues haven’t been remedied. “The plain truth is that farmers have been unfairly treated by NRCS when they’re trying to be good stewards of the land,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “AFBF stood up for them by pressing for changes to conservation compliance programs, and we applaud Senator Rounds for introducing the Act. It would institute needed reforms, and although it’s sweeping in nature in its current form, it takes important steps toward creating a fair and understandable process for American Farmers.” ************************************************************************************ FFA Introduces “Agricultural Education for All” The National FFA organization announced its new Agricultural Education for All roadmap. The plan outlines the strategies the organization is taking to support inclusion, diversity, and equity. The FFA wants to ensure that the organization is a bully-free zone that reflects society’s demographics in membership, leadership, and staff, and celebrates individuality. “FFA is building the next generation of leaders – and the world needs leaders with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and identities,” says FFA CEO Mark Poeschl (PESH-uhl). “Through agricultural education and FFA, students can take these experiences and apply them in their communities.” Some examples of the steps FFA will take include creating a dedicated inclusion, diversity, and equity staff position at National FFA. They’ll also relaunch the H.O. Sargent Award to recognize individuals who have achieved success in promoting inclusion, diversity, and equity in agricultural education and the FFA. They’ll also develop an Agricultural Education for All immersion curriculum and an online platform to build empathy, respect, and inclusion for others, as well as training educators to be Agricultural Education for All facilitators. Dr. Roger Cleveland, director of the Center for Research on the Eradication of Educational Disparities, has been working closely with FFA to develop the roadmap.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Asia's Exporters Heal Slowly From COVID Asia's manufacturing engines just turned in another month of fitful progress, as September's purchasing managers indexes look a bit brighter, with a few exceptions. Bloomberg is reporting this week that that India's factory gauge surged further into expansion, while still making up for a record-low reading in April and with more challenges ahead given a worsening COVID-19 outbreak. Japan's PMI rose to the highest level since February but continues to contract. Vietnam improved to its best level in more than a year and Thailand and the Philippines each edged higher. Indonesia brought the biggest bad news, with its gauge slumping as Jakarta reintroduced restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus cases. Bloomberg also says that the PMI reports for several “bellwethers for the global rebound in trade – South Korea and Taiwan – won't be available until later in October, and that China's Caixin PMI is now set for release Oct. 8, due to holidays.” A few of the PMIs followed more hopeful signs for the regional recovery, a separate report Thursday showed South Korean exports gaining for the first time since the pandemic hit. Also, Wednesday's figures from China indicate “further momentum in economic activity.” For Vietnam, the manufacturing jump was overshadowed by a string of other data and developments in the Southeast Asian nation over the past 24 hours. For example, the U.S. is readying a probe into Vietnam's currency practices, Bloomberg says, thickening the long-term plot of sticky U.S.-Vietnam relations on the sidelines of the U.S.-China trade war. Bloomberg also says that on Wednesday Vietnam reported an acceleration in third-quarter growth – although the rate was “slower than expected.” Nevertheless, Bloomberg concludes that “the warning more broadly from Wall Street economists heading into the final quarter of the year is that the best is already over for recovery” of this region. They suggest now that, “what started off as a sprint is turning into a slog.” In a side note Wednesday, Bloomberg noted a report that suggested that China's tech companies will face a tougher time globally in the future as digital decoupling accelerates and countries with shared values join forces to promote their technology standards and ethics, according to a report from the Hinrich Foundation. Moves by the U.S. against companies such as TikTok, WeChat, Huawei Technologies Co. and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. are only the beginning of a deeper shift that will also see the European Union and international organizations rethink how they engage with Chinese technology, said the Asia-based foundation set up by U.S. entrepreneur Merle Hinrich. Australia, Japan and the UK have already followed the U.S. in banning Huawei from 5G networks. India has prohibited more than 100 Chinese apps including the video-sharing platform TikTok. In addition, in August, the U.S. launched a so-called Clean Network initiative that aims to oust Chinese technology from wireless and digital networks on the grounds that it poses national security threats. The following month, China released its Global Initiative on Data Security that ostensibly calls for global standards for data security—an effort that could also be construed as an attempt to deter others from signing up for Washington's program. “These actions have created an existential crisis for Chinese companies, which have come under fire as they are increasingly viewed as de facto proxies of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Alex Capri, a Singapore-based research fellow who authored the report. “In the broader context of a U.S.-China technology cold war, Chinese companies' linkage to Beijing has relegated them to the status of malign actors.” Chinese actions such as the clamping down on freedoms in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong – where Beijing abruptly imposed a new national security law in June – are also stoking concern about reliance on the country's technology internationally. China has repeatedly called such matters its own internal affairs and warned against foreign interference. EU leaders are expected to call for a rebalancing of their economic relations with China at a summit Thursday in Brussels. The report said that, “regardless of whether Republican incumbent Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden is in the Oval Office, Washington will accelerate efforts to block Chinese tech firms from expanding into overseas markets.” This will make technology a cornerstone of global diplomacy, which could lead to the creation of new institutions and rule frameworks for governing technology and data, the report added. The linkage of technology to fundamental ideological values is a key factor leading countries to reconsider their stance, according to the report. “There's been this sort of 'wake up moment' that's produced this incredible backlash from the West in particular,” Capri said in an interview. “We're starting to see a closing of the ranks from liberal democracies around the world, which is not a good thing for China's system of techno-authoritarianism and, by extension, Chinese technology companies in general.” So, we will see. Clearly, the pushback against rapid Chinese expansion in many markets is intensifying, but China's markets are tempting, as well. So far, efforts to negotiate deals on both the supply and demand side seem to have fallen in sharp political disfavor—a development that possibly will be difficult to maintain in the face of market realities. These are developments which should be watched closely by producers as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


UK Beef Shipment En Route To US A shipment of meat from Northern Ireland is on its way to the U.S., decades after a mad cow disease scare prompted the U.S. to block all imports of UK beef. The shipment, the first since 1996, comes amid negotiations toward a bilateral trade deal. An audit by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service in March led to the U.S. lifting the ban on beef imports from all of the UK—England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Trump administration wants Britain to remove a ban on imports of American beef produced with artificial growth hormones.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


CR Signing To Set Farm Program Payments In Motion Approval of the continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through December 11 and provide for $20 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) borrowing authority means that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will start the process of making a series of “regular” farm program-related payments to farmers. FSA will start processing payments for Transition Incentives Program (TIP), Emergency Forestry CRP (EFCRP) and for some Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts October 2, for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments on October 6, other CRP payments October 9 and for ARC Individual Option Contracts on October 26.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department is expected to show an increase in September non-farm payrolls at 7:30 a.m. CDT, along with the U.S. unemployment rate. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index will be updated at 9 a.m. Traders continue to keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts for the U.S., South America and the Black Sea. Any news of an export sale will also be noted. Weather Frosty temperatures were noted across the Upper Midwest and Northern/Central Plains Friday morning. Isolated showers will be found around the Great Lakes Friday while a system will bring light showers to the Northern and Central Plains later in the day. Overall conditions are good yet again for harvest and fieldwork.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


USDA Releases Grain Stocks Report The Quarterly Grain Stocks report shows old crop corn stocks on hand as of September 1, 2020, totaled 2.0 billion bushels, down ten percent from a year ago. Old crop soybeans stored in all positions were down 42 percent, and all wheat stocks were down eight percent from a year earlier. Released by the Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service, the report found that of the total corn stocks, 751 million bushels were stored on farms, down eight percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 1.24 billion bushels, were down 12 percent from a year ago. Old crop soybeans stored in all positions totaled 523 million bushels. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 141 million bushels, down 47 percent, and off-farm stocks, at 382 million bushels, were down 41 percent. All wheat stored in all positions totaled 2.16 billion bushels. On-farm stocks were estimated at 705 million bushels, down four percent, and off-farm stocks were down ten percent at 1.45 billion bushels. NASS also released the Small Grains Annual Summary report. The report found All wheat production totaled 1.83 billion bushels in 2020, down five percent from the revised 2019 total of 1.93 billion bushels. Area harvested for grain totaled 36.7 million acres, down two percent from 2019, and The United States yield was estimated at 49.7 bushels per acre, down 2.0 bushels from 2019. ************************************************************************************ NFU: Pandemic Revealed Need for Reform in the Food and Farm System Pandemic-related disruptions have exposed underlying weaknesses in the food and farm system, according to the National Farmers Union. NFU President Rob Larew told the House Small Business Committee Wednesday during a hearing the need for significant structural reforms to protect farmers and consumers from similar disruptions in the future. One of the primary contributors to supply chain delays and food shortages has been widespread corporation consolidation, particularly in the meat processing industry, Larew told the lawmakers. As a solution, Larew proposed policies that would stem the tide of consolidation and build out regional food infrastructure. NFU says another major problem is chronic oversupply. In recent months, restaurant closures and shifting demand has made matters worse, as Larew noted in his testimony. Though pandemic aid has helped farmers withstand persistently low prices, “policy changes are needed to address the causes – rather than simply the symptoms – of a broken farm economy.” NFU proposes a supply management system that would balance farm production with consumer demand. ************************************************************************************ Cattle Producers Welcome Sen. Fischer's HAULS Act Livestock groups this week applauded the introduction of legislation that would provide livestock haulers flexibility and critical relief from hours-of-service rules. Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, introduced the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety, or HAULS Act. The legislation would add a 150 air-mile exemption to hours of service regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities. The bill also eliminates the seasonal harvest requirements for the agriculture hours-of-service exemption, making the exemption available year-round in all states. Jon Samson, Executive Director of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference, says, “this language provides the ag community with continued flexibility during the busiest times of the year, while expanding uniformity and clarity for the transportation of our nation’s ag products.” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duval stated, “The HAULS Act modernizes trucking regulations to meet the needs of our members,” adding, “I applaud Senator Fischer for her leadership on this important issue.” ************************************************************************************ USDA grants American Farmland Trust $2.6 million to improve soil health practice adoption A $2.6-million grant from the Department of Agriculture will help American Farmland Trust fund its Conquering Cover Crop Challenges Coast to Coast project. USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service supplied the funding through its On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Through 20 on-farm trials and a comprehensive soil, economic, and social evaluation system, American Farmland trust will test innovative solutions and generate five years of results that will help overcome regional and crop-specific barriers to cover crop adoption. Specifically, the project will address cover crop establishment challenges in water-limited, dryland wheat systems, and challenges unique to high value, high-input specialty crops, among other goals. American Farmland Trust will partner with 13 local conservation districts, university extension departments and the private sector across seven states. The project will begin in January 2021 and run through the end of 2025. Every year, American Farmland trust will publish summary reports on the changes in the soil in response to the adopted soil health practices. ************************************************************************************ Consumer Expectations Change as the Pandemic Enters a New Season The Consumer Brands Association's latest COVID-19 poll asked more than 1,300 American adults about their opinions on the coronavirus and its effect on the country. The data shows a country normalized by a persistent threat and contending with growing anxiety over what’s ahead. When the pandemic began, 36 percent of Americans described themselves as "very concerned" in mid-March, which jumped up to a majority quickly after and has yet to dip below 50 percent since. While most Americans, 72 percent, are still optimistic about the next six months, that optimism has dipped slightly since June, from 76 percent. The perennial lengthening of the timetable for returning to normal and the whiplash changes in the news about the virus, whether driven by politics or new information, has pushed optimism lower. While the supply chain has largely solved for shortages of high-demand products like toilet paper, meat and cleaning supplies brought on by panic-buying early in the pandemic, Americans' fears over access to those products have not. ************************************************************************************ United Fresh Releases Fresh Facts on Retail Report A new report covers the increasing popularity of e-commerce and the unprecedented rise of in-home consumption triggered by COVID-19, including the continued growth of fresh fruit and vegetable sales. United Fresh Produce Association released its Q2 2020 issue of FreshFacts on Retail this week. The report measures retail price and sales trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities and other value-added produce categories. The report says growth continues in fruit and vegetables as sales surge across categories driven by consumers seeking versatile cooking and salad staples for home meal preparation, and healthy home snack options. Meanwhile, packaged salads are a top-selling organic produce commodity, followed by apples and strawberries. Consumer response to value-added fruit remains muted, while value-added vegetable sales grew. Products typically consumed in group settings declined, while products that are more challenging for consumers to handle and prepare at home drove consumer interest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


Washington Insider: EU Eyes New Tariff Hit On US The transatlantic trade conflict isn't showing signs of winding down any time soon – and a new ruling from the World Trade Organization could mean that a fresh round of retaliatory tariffs could jeopardize economic recoveries in both the U.S. and the European Union. Bloomberg is reporting this week that the WTO gave the EU authority to impose tariffs on $4 billion of U.S. exports over illegal government aid provided to Boeing Co. The EU previously said it would act on the levies immediately to counteract $7.5 billion of tariffs Washington placed on European goods in a separate case involving Toulouse, France-based Airbus SE. The judgment comes at a delicate moment, with the U.S. presidential election just over a month away and as the U.S. and the EU struggle to recover from coronavirus-induced recessions. The EU tariffs will target coal producers, farmers and fisheries, in addition to aircraft makers, all politically important industries for the President and his Republican allies in Congress. If the two sides can't resolve the tit-for-tat aircraft dispute, “we will have another tariff fight on our hands, with consumers and producers on both sides caught in the middle and paying the price,” said Simon Lester, an associate director at the Cato Institute. A key question now is whether the EU will move quickly to trigger its tariffs against the U.S. or await the outcome of the Nov. 3 election. If the EU immediately triggers the new tariffs it could provoke the Trump administration, which claims it has already brought its Boeing subsidies into compliance. If the EU waits until after the election, there's the possibility that Brussels could find a more amenable negotiating partner in Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, whose advisers have pledged to seek a swift end to Trump's “artificial trade war” with Europe. The WTO ruling, about a third of what the EU requested, is the latest twist in the 16-year Boeing-Airbus conflict. And it represents just one of several sources of friction in the trade relationship between the EU and the U.S. The most recent troubles started in 2018 when the administration invoked national-security considerations to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe. As a U.S. military ally, the EU was infuriated and promptly retaliated with levies on U.S. goods including iconic brands such as Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles and Levi Strauss & Co. jeans. While both the EU and U.S. say they want to reach a settlement to the aircraft dispute, the Trump administration has rejected all of Brussels' previous overtures. The sheer number of pending disagreements between the EU and the U.S. means that a dispute could escalate quickly into a broader trade war, Bloomberg says. Earlier this month, the president renewed a threat to hit European cars with levies, a move that would draw immediate retaliation from the bloc. The Boeing case comes less than a year after the WTO hit the U.S. with a record $7.5 billion retaliation award in response to the EU's illegal subsidies to Airbus SE. The U.S. has since levied 15% duties on Airbus aircraft and 25% tariffs on a range of European consumer exports, such as Scotch and French wine. A large ruling in the Boeing case would allow the EU to retaliate over the Airbus tariffs and would also give the bloc more leverage in negotiating a settlement to the dispute. It would also allow the EU to capitalize on the delicate political situation in the U.S. as this fall's election campaigns go into full swing. “The ongoing implementation of tariffs and trade disputes appear to be contributing factors in the slowing of global economic growth, particularly in Europe and China,” St. Louis-based Arch Resources Inc.'s management wrote in its annual report in February. The proposed tariffs could also target about $700 million worth of U.S. seafood exports to the EU, which would impact Louisiana fishermen represented by Republican House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R., La. While it's still possible that the EU and U.S. could reach a negotiated settlement that avoids a tit-for-tat tariff escalation, that prospect looks increasingly remote. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he's seeking two things: A pledge from Europe to end its subsidies to Airbus and monetary compensation. “It is going to require commitments not to do it again but also paying back some element of the subsidy,” Lighthizer said in a Chatham House event in July. In July the governments of France and Spain revised the terms of their launch aid loans to Airbus to make them compatible with WTO rules. The Trump administration has already rejected the move as insufficient and alleged the EU's subsidy regime remains illegal. If the U.S. and the EU are unable to reach a settlement, the bloc's newly designated trade chief has pledged to resort to targeted levies. “We will if we will have to, but our preference would be to have an agreement with the U.S. in between where they also withdraw their tariffs,” EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis told Bloomberg earlier this month. So, we will see. While this dispute certainly is likely to attract U.S. attention there seems to be no real willingness to move toward settlement. Because these trade policy wars often seem to have the potential to spread quickly and widely, the policies proposed and implemented should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


USTR Requests Section 201 Investigation on Blueberries The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has requested that an investigation on imports of blueberries are hurting U.S. growers be launched by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). USTR Robert Lighthizer said the request was being made under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 and was among steps the administration is taking to “support American producers of seasonal and perishable agricultural commodities.” Depending on the outcome, the investigation could result in “safeguard” tariffs being put in place on blueberry imports. The administration held two listening sessions earlier this year relative to fresh produce issues and said in a report issued September 1 that it would request the ITC initiate the Section 201 investigation on blueberries. Typically, Section 201 investigations are triggered by a domestic industry, as this request by USTR marks only the second time in 25 years that USTR has requested such an investigation. USTR said that 98% of total U.S. blueberry imports came from five countries since 2014 and that the value of those imports has more than doubled since 2014.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


Sen. Grassley Expects No Additional SRE Actions Ahead of Election Additional decisions by the Trump administration on waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are not likely to be made before the November 3 elections, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. The issue of small refinery exemptions (SREs) has gained in focus in the wake of the 10th Circuit Court ruling that in order to qualify for these waivers, refiners had to have requested them on an annual basis since 2011. "I think the president showed his pro-ethanol credentials by what he said about the 'gap waivers,' and that was a big win for biofuels from President Trump," Grassley said in a call with reporters. EPA data shows that there are still 17 of the gap-year SRE requests pending for the 2011-2018 compliance years, and now another 33 requests pending for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years combined.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets The first day of October starts with USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, U.S. personal income and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. ISM's index of U.S. manufacturing is out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. USDA's Fats and Oils report at 2 p.m. CDT gives an update on U.S. soybean crush. Weather Scattered showers will be found around the Great Lakes Thursday but most areas will be dry with good harvest conditions, albeit with below-normal temperatures.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


Farmers to Families Food Box Program Surpasses 100 Million Boxes Delivered Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that more than 100 million food boxes have been distributed through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Perdue stated, “It is incredible to think that in a little more than five months, this food box program has gone from an idea to a reality that has provided more than 100 million boxes of nutritious foods.” Earlier this month, the Department of Agriculture announced it had entered into contracts with 50 entities for the third round of food box deliveries, including contracts to purchase up to $1 billion authorized by President Donald Trump. USDA is purchasing combination boxes in the third round of purchases to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products. Coverage in this round of the program allocates food boxes to states based on the state's internal need to provide coverage to entities in every county in the country. ************************************************************************************ Study: COVID-19 Caused $8 Billion Loss for Ethanol Producers A new study by university economists finds ethanol producers will experience roughly $8 billion in losses this year due to the pandemic's impact on world fuel markets. The study, conducted by economists from the University of Florida and Arizona State University, was published recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Industrial Organization. The estimated economic loss grows to a range of $7.9 to $8.6 billion when unemployment effects are included. The study acknowledges that those estimates likely "understate the cost of COVID-19" to the ethanol industry because the impact of the pandemic on co-product output, demand and prices is not included. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says the new study confirms the findings of an RFA analysis published in July, which found pandemic-related losses could be $7 billion or more in 2020. According to RFA, the study also underscores the importance of ensuring ethanol producers are not again left out of any stimulus package that may move forward in the weeks ahead. ************************************************************************************ CME Group to Launch Pork Cutout Futures and Options CME Group Tuesday announced plans to launch Pork Cutout futures and options. The new contracts are designed to give the U.S. pork industry and export markets tailored risk-management tools on the cutout. Tim Andriesen, CME Group managing director of agricultural products, says, “As the market has evolved, our customers continue to look for new tools to manage the price risk associated with hog and pork production.” Pending regulatory approvals, the Pork Cutout futures and options are slated to launch on November 9, and will be cash-settled to the CME Pork Cutout Index. The contracts will complement CME Lean Hog futures and options. CME Group says hogs are increasingly bought and sold in the physical market based on a formula which uses the cutout. The Pork Cutout reflects the approximate value of a hog calculated using the prices paid for wholesale cuts of pork. The new contracts will be quoted in U.S. cents per pound and will have a contract size of 40,000 pounds. ************************************************************************************ FMI Special Midyear report Outlines Increased Grocery Purchases FMI, the Food Industry Association, recently released a special mid-year report on meat sales in grocery stores. The report takes a fresh look at what was happening in the meat industry from the shopper’s perspective amid the coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic hit the U.S. in March, shoppers quickly started stocking up on all types of food products. Meat department sales almost doubled in the first week of the pandemic, compared to the same week in 2019. While many were focused on filling their refrigerators and freezers with their purchases, consumers were also cooking more meals as home-prepared meals with meat specifically increased to 4.6 per week from 3.9 last year. The surge in demand and the impact of COVID-19 on meat suppliers resulted in a significant tightening of supply and some resulting meat inflation, as 91 percent of shoppers experienced out-of-stocks. However, FMI reports the meat department has persevered. Most shoppers continue to see meat as a good source of protein and nutrients, and many continue to believe meat belongs in a balanced diet. ************************************************************************************ Virtual Format Set For 2021 Beltwide Cotton Conferences The National Cotton Council will conduct the 2021 Beltwide Cotton Conferences virtually in January due to continued concerns regarding COVID-19’s spread. Planed for January 5 -7, the conferences bring together industry stakeholders. Those planning to participate in the 2021 live-stream event must register at the event website, cotton.org/beltwide/, which will be updated as program information becomes available. Registration will continue after the virtual 2021 event concludes to permit registered participants access to the event’s on-demand content. Registration costs for the 2021 conference have been reduced due to the virtual format, $180 for NCC members, university and USDA researchers, extension personnel, associations and consultants, $500 for non-U.S. research, extension, associations, and consultants, $350 for non-NCC members, and $75 for students. The 2021 event will begin on January 5 with the half-day Cotton Consultants Conference. The 11 cotton technical conferences, which now includes the Cotton Sustainability Conference, will provide updates on research and current and emerging technology. ************************************************************************************ USDA Awards $5 Million to Support Wetland Mitigation Banking The Department of Agriculture will award $5 million for eight new wetland mitigation banking projects through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program. The program helps conservation partners develop or establish mitigation banks to help agricultural producers maintain eligibility for USDA programs. USDA says the wetlands will provide producers “an affordable mitigation option to remain in compliance for USDA farm bill programs while establishing banks that support wetland functions.” Wetland mitigation banks create credits through the restoration, creation, or enhancement of wetlands to compensate for impacts on wetlands at other locations. Most wetland mitigation banks, however, serve the development community and are not affordable to agricultural producers. Producers seeking benefits through most USDA programs must comply with wetland conservation provisions by affirming they will not impact wetlands on their lands. In situations where avoidance or on-site mitigation is challenging, the farm bill allows producers to mitigate their conversion activities off-site by purchasing mitigation banking credits.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Stimulus Proposal Emerges Democratic leadership released a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response bill on Monday — but their offer would require Republicans to make concessions before a bipartisan deal is possible. The measure is $1 trillion below the Democrats' $3.4 trillion proposal from May. It would provide $436 billion for state and local governments rather than the original $915 billion and would provide another round of $1,200 payments and $600 per week extra unemployment insurance payments through January 2021, similar to the May proposal. The bill also would include new aid for airlines, restaurants and small businesses that were not included in the original legislation, as well as $225 billion for education and $75 billion for coronavirus testing, tracing and isolation measures. Bloomberg reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday about a possible bipartisan deal — and that the two plan to speak again on Tuesday, Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, said. Republicans still need to support more spending than their previous $1 trillion proposal to reach an agreement, Pelosi said late on Monday. “When he's ready to come back to the table, we're ready to have that conversation, but he has to come back with much more money to get the job done,” Pelosi said. “So, I'm hopeful. I'm optimistic.” The Trump administration has yet to weigh in on the proposal. Pelosi previously said Republicans need to agree to a top-line figure of $2.2 trillion for negotiations to result in an agreement. Republicans originally proposed a $1 trillion measure, but didn't vote on it. Senate Republicans then proposed a smaller measure, which Senate Democrats blocked. Bloomberg focused on several details in the proposal. For example, it said the bill would provide $500 stimulus payments for dependents, which is equal to what families received starting this spring, but lower than the $1,200 Democrats proposed in May. And, it would provide $20 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the development and procurement of vaccines and therapeutics. That matches what Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, told Senate appropriators HHS needs earlier this month. It also would provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention $7 billion for a vaccination campaign and $1 billion for “an evidence-based public awareness campaign on the importance of vaccinations,” according to a summary by the House Appropriations Committee. The measure also includes $15 billion to make up for U.S. Postal Service lost revenue. It also would require states to accept mail-in ballots if they were mailed before Election Day and received within 10 days of the election — and, it would increase the maximum benefits allowed under USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by 15%. Bloomberg said that the draft bill would prevent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from furloughing employees “if the agency has sufficient funds to pay them—and would ensure funding by restricting the Department of Homeland Security's ability to transfer funds collected from fees for immigration benefits to other federal agencies for other purposes. The agency had expected to furlough workers at the end of August, citing a decrease in immigration fees because of the coronavirus. The furlough was averted temporarily. In spite of possible progress toward a further stimulus that was seen as positive news this week, Bloomberg also noted that China was making only slow progress on the purchases of U.S. products as required by phase one of the U.S.-China trade deal. Purchases have been sliding, the report said and noted that China reduced the pace of its purchases in August, making slow progress toward trade deal goals. The value of U.S. goods bought by China declined from the previous month, led by a slowdown in energy products, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Custom's data. By the end of August, China had purchased about 32.8% of the full-year target of more than $170 billion — meaning it must buy about $115 billion of goods in the remaining four months of the year to comply with last January's deal. Purchases of energy products fell by 24% in August from the previous month, hitting about 14% of the full-year target. While China's crude oil imports from the U.S. dropped substantially from a record high in July, they are likely to rise in coming months as purchases of American crude rose before the August review of the trade deal. In addition, the U.S. and China reaffirmed their commitment to the “Phase-One deal” in August, demonstrating a willingness to cooperate even as tensions rise over a range of issues. China also cut its pork imports from the U.S. by nearly 40% in August from a month earlier, while increasing its purchases of cereals, Bloomberg said. Imports of soybeans, one of the key products in the trade deal, rose almost 300% from a month earlier and are likely to trend higher as the U.S. harvest picks up. The August data include the latest revisions, Bloomberg said. So, we will see. The proposed stimulus bill still seems quite fragile, especially as the many headline fights spread to include an increasing number of issues. Thus, this “most toxic” political year appears to continue to become even more difficult as the elections near, situations producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


CFAP 1 Payments Top $10 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1) program are at $10.2 billion as of September 27, including $5 billion for livestock, $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.8 billion for dairy and $102 million for specialty crops. Funds paid for cattle total $4.3 billion, followed by $1.8 billion each for corn and milk, with $600 million for hogs and $509 million for soybeans. Payouts by state still show Iowa topping the list at $968 million followed by Nebraska ($711 million), California ($653 million), Texas ($625 million), Minnesota ($608 million) and Wisconsin ($523 million). Payment data for CFAP 2, where signup launched September 21, “will be available in the coming weeks,” according to USDA's Farm Service Agency.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


Democratic COVID Aid Plan Again Contains Farm Policy Shifts There are several provisions in the $2.2 trillion Democratic COVID aid plan that focus on nutrition and agriculture policy. It would provide additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aid, including increases in the SNAP benefit levels and funds to cover expected participation increases in the program. For agriculture policy, the plan would amend the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to allow for the use of CCC funds to deal with the removal and disposal of livestock and poultry due to supply chain disruptions during a public health emergency and would require congressional notification by USDA before any disbursement of CCC funds. Payments would be provided for livestock and poultry depopulated due to processing plant shutdowns from the health emergency with additional funds for animal health surveillance efforts. While it is not clear if the ag-policy-related provisions will become law, the details are a clear signal of what will likely be components in the next debate on an omnibus farm bill that will start to unfold in 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:15 a.m. CDT, the ADP report of U.S. private employment in September will give a clue about Friday's non-farm payrolls report from the Labor Department. An index of pending home sales is due out at 9:00 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol. At 11 a.m. CDT, USDA will release its quarterly report of Sept. 1 Grain Stocks and Small Grains Summary. Weather Showers will be isolated and limited to the Great Lakes region, where delays in harvest of corn and soybeans will be possible. Other areas will remain dry with good weather for fieldwork.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


US-UK Trade talks Progressing The United States and the United Kingdom wrapped up the fourth round of trade talks this month, with another round planned for mid-October. The UK Department of International Trade says, "Significant progress has been achieved since launching negotiations in May 2020, and most chapter areas are now in the advanced stages of talks." Chief Ag Negotiator with the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, Gregg Doud, spoke Monday during an Agri-Pulse and Kansas City Agribusiness Council event. Doud told attendees, "I'm confident here that we are going to get an opportunity to engage with them and work on these issues," the issues being tariffs, biotech and market opportunity. Doud noted tariffs on U.S. products will be high when the UK leaves the European Union, upwards of 25 percent. However, for beef, pork and poultry, the UK imports $4.5 billion of meat from the European Union. Doud says, “if we can get things right, I think we will have a fair shot at that,” giving U.S. meat producers a new market. ************************************************************************************ Beijing Asks Frozen Food Importers to Shun Countries with Severe Coronavirus Beijing has asked frozen food importers to not import products from counties with severe coronavirus. The Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau said in a statement issued to import companies, “Customs and local governments have repeatedly detected the coronavirus in imported cold chain food, proving it risks contamination,” according to Reuters. The Bureau urged importers to “proactively avoid importing cold chain food from areas heavily hit by the coronavirus,” while also asking importers to improve warning and reporting mechanisms related to testing products for the virus. This month, China suspended seafood imports from producers in Brazil, Indonesia and Russia for a week or more, because of coronavirus contamination. Earlier this summer, China also halted imports from a U.S. Tyson Foods plant. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and other world health organizations say the risk of contracting coronavirus from food is low. However, China has reportedly stamped out much of the virus, and is on high alert for any possible re-contamination. ************************************************************************************ NPPC, AFBF Seek to Cancel California Prop 12 The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation seek to terminate California’s Proposition 12. The two groups recently jointly filed their opening brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to strike California's Proposition 12 as invalid. AFBF and NPPC say Proposition 12 imposes arbitrary animal housing standards that reach outside of California's borders to farms across the United States. By attempting to regulate businesses outside of its borders, California's Proposition 12 violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, according to the court brief. Beginning in 2022, Proposition 12 prohibits the sale of pork not produced according to California's production standards. The proposition applies to any uncooked pork sold in the state, whether raised there or outside its borders. Currently, less than one percent of U.S. pork production meets Proposition 12's requirements. To comply with Proposition 12, U.S. hog farmers need to start making investment decisions today to be ready by the implementation date. ************************************************************************************ USDA Releases Annual Report Showing GMO Planted Acres The Department of Agriculture says more than 90 percent of U.S. corn, cotton and soybeans are produced using genetically engineered seeds. Through an annual report on GE planted crops, USDA’s Economic Research Service says most of these GE seeds are herbicide-tolerant, insect-resistant, or both, known as stacked traits. The share of U.S. soybean acres planted with herbicide-tolerant seeds rose from seven percent in 1996 to 68 percent in 2001, before plateauing at 94 percent in 2014. Insect-resistant soybeans are not yet commercially available. Adoption rates for herbicide-tolerant corn grew relatively slowly at first, but then plateaued at 89 percent in 2014. The share of insect-resistant corn acreage grew from approximately eight percent in 1997 to 82 percent in 2020. USDA says increases in adoption rates for insect-resistant corn may be due to the commercial introduction of new varieties resistant to the corn rootworm and the corn earworm. Meanwhile, herbicide-resistant cotton acres in 2019 reached 95 percent, and insect-resistant cotton was 88 percent of total planted acres. ************************************************************************************ Bayer XtendFlex Soybeans Gain Final Approval Bayer announced Monday that the European Commission has authorized XtendFlex soybean technology for food, feed, import and processing in the European Union. The milestone represents the final key authorization for XtendFlex soybeans. With the approval, Bayer can now look forward to a full launch in the United States and Canada in 2021 and expects to be in a strong position to supply 20 million U.S. soy acres when the selling season arrives. XtendFlex soybeans, Bayer’s newest soybean technology, are built upon the high-yielding Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean technology with the additional tolerance to glufosinate herbicides. That means XtendFlex soybeans are resistant to three herbicides, glyphosate, dicamba and the newly added glufosinate. XtendFlex soybeans will be Bayer’s second major product launch in soybeans in the last five years. Lisa Safarian, President of Crop Science North America at Bayer, says, "XtendFlex soybeans are the latest example of Bayer developing innovative products to help farmers meet challenges on their farm.” ************************************************************************************ European Company Raises Funds for Large-scale Cultured Meat Production Mosa Meat, the European food technology company which introduced the world's first cultured beef hamburger in 2013, announced the first closing of $55 million as part of a larger Series B funding round. The company will use the funds to extend its current pilot production facility, develop an industrial-sized production line, expand its team, and introduce cultivated beef to consumers. While no date has been announced for an introduction to consumers, the company will work with regulators to achieve approval to serve consumers in Europe. The Series B funding round is led Blue Horizon Ventures, a food technology fund that aims to support and promote a positive global impact on the environment, human health, and animal welfare. Company CEO Maarten Bosch says the funding supports efforts to “make progress towards a cleaner, kinder way of making real beef, and ultimately increase the resilience, sustainability, and safety of our global food system.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Almost Everything's An Issue Now Centrist Democrats are pushing for another vote in the House on a coronavirus response stimulus bill, but the key question is whether high-level bipartisan negotiators can strike a deal. Bloomberg reports that lawmakers will “return to Washington with little time left for stimulus talks and other urgent priorities” after their coming recess. House members are set to leave at the end of this week until after the election. Senators still have to pass the stopgap funding measure to avert a shutdown by Wednesday night's deadline — and Republicans are racing to confirm President Donald Trump's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court before the Nov. 3 election. House members may vote on a second Democratic coronavirus bill in order to demonstrate they're willing to compromise, Bloomberg says. But a handshake deal between Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would likely be more meaningful than a partisan vote. Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke Friday afternoon on coronavirus relief and “agreed to continue their conversation in the days ahead,” Pelosi's deputy chief of staff noted on Friday. Pelosi said Sunday there's a chance she and Mnuchin can still reach a deal and that Democrats will unveil a new “proffer” shortly. “I trust Secretary Mnuchin to present something that can reach a solution and I believe we can come to an agreement,” she said.” She added if a deal isn't struck soon, Democrats might vote on the House — only version that includes funds for airlines and restaurants and more Paycheck Protection Program funding. “The public is going to have to see why $2.2 trillion, or now $2.4 trillion, perhaps, is necessary,” she said, adding that the president's “denial of the virus, and resistance to do anything to crush it, has made matters worse.” Swing-district Democrats are pushing for action regardless of whether there's a deal. Eight moderate Democrats sent a letter to Pelosi on Friday, asking her to “bring up a bill that “demonstrates our commitment to meeting Republicans in the middle, as we have expressed our willingness to do, and advance it through the House with the haste this crisis demands.” The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Cindy Axne, Abby Finkenauer and David Loebsack of Iowa, Susan Wild of Pennsylvania., Angie Craig of Minnesota, Susie Lee of Nevada, and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, as well as Del. Michael San Nicolas of Guam. In the meantime, House leadership has downplayed the importance of a messaging vote. “We want to get a deal with Secretary Mnuchin and the Senate because we want to get people help, not just messages,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters last week. In addition, House Democrats' lawsuit over the administration's transfer of funds to pay for a border wall was revived last week by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision. A three-judge panel on Friday vacated a lower-court decision that found that the House didn't have legal standing to challenge the transfer of funds. The opinion written by Judge David Sentelle “makes for interesting reading” for those who follow the budget and appropriations process, Bloomberg says. It notes that the House sued over the Trump administration's move to supersede congressional appropriations and that the House alone, without the Senate, doesn't have standing to sue. The question was whether the House as an individual chamber was specifically injured by the administration's decision to spend money without congressional approval. The court ruled in the House's favor on its standing to sue, saying that while an individual chamber can't appropriate funds on its own, it can effectively block appropriations, because both chambers need to pass a bill before it can become law. In other words, “each chamber has a distinct individual right” in the appropriations process, especially when it comes to limiting spending, the opinion says. “To put it simply, the Appropriations Clause requires two keys to unlock the Treasury, and the House holds one of those keys,” the opinion says. “The Executive Branch has, in a word, snatched the House's key out of its hands. That is the injury over which the House is suing.” While it may seem like the argument is splitting hairs over the legislative powers of the House versus Congress as a whole, Sentelle's opinion lays out why the powers of an individual chamber matter in the appropriations process. Under the administration's “standing paradigm,” the Executive Branch can freely spend Treasury funds as it wishes unless and until a veto-proof majority of both houses of Congress forbids it. Even that might not be enough: Under the defendants' standing theory, if the Executive Branch ignored that congressional override, the House would remain just as disabled to sue to protect its own institutional interests. “That turns the constitutional order upside down.” So, we will see. As the time before the elections dwindles, and the stakes rise, these battles can be expected to become increasingly intense — and, possibly, more frequent. They are often “high stakes” fights and should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


USDA Raises Forecast For Overall Food Price Inflation And Restaurant Prices For 2020 USDA Friday increased its forecast for overall food price inflation in 2020 to range of 2.5% to 3.5%, up from their prior outlook of an increase of 2% to 3%. Their outlook for food away from home (restaurant prices) also rose to 2% to 3% versus a prior outlook for an increase of 1.5% to 2.5%. “Prices have been relatively slow to retreat from the highs reached as a result of the pandemic, so some forecasts have been revised upward this month,” USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) said. USDA still sees 2020 food at home (grocery store) prices rising 2.5% to 3.5% in 2020. Their outlooks for 2021 food prices were left unchanged from their outlook issued in August.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


Beijing Asks Food Importers to Avoid Frozen Foods From Countries With High COVID Infection Levels The city of Beijing is calling on food importers to avoid frozen food from countries with high levels of COVID-19 outbreaks, according to a statement from the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau. "Customs and local governments have repeatedly detected the coronavirus in imported cold chain food, proving it risks contamination," the agency said in a statement issued to import companies, according to Reuters. The agency also told food importers to "proactively avoid importing cold chain food from areas heavily hit by the coronavirus" and make alternative plans for imports. Chinese authorities said they had suspended some seafood imports from two Russian vessels and a Brazilian company after COVID-19 was found in samples.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets An index of U.S. consumer confidence is due out at 9 a.m. CDT and is Tuesday's only official report. The latest weather forecasts will be watched for the U.S., the Black Sea Region and for South America. Traders will also be watching for any trade news that develops. Weather With a front pushing showers into the East Coast, mostly dry conditions are expected for the primary growing regions on Tuesday. Some breezy winds in the Plains may help with dry down as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


House Passes a Clean Energy Bill The House of Representatives passed a broad bill that intends to help the U.S. boost energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in an effort to combat climate change. The Hill says the chamber passed the 900-page Clean Energy and Jobs Innovation Act by a 220-185 vote. The legislation intends to create research and development programs for different forms of energy, including solar, wind, advanced geothermal energy, and hydroelectric power, as well as new ways to lower pollution from fossil fuel production. The bill also establishes more rigorous building codes and bolsters energy efficiency requirements and weatherization programs. A similar energy innovation bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year but seemed to stall until recently. The Senate bill is moving again after lawmakers agreed on an amendment seeking to phase down the use of a type of greenhouse gas. A senior House Democratic aide tells The Hill that if the Senate can pass its own bill, the chambers can go to conference to settle any disagreements. While Democrats support the bill, Republicans point out that it will cost over $135 billion. Three House GOP members says the bill is “full of government mandates that will make Americans pay more money for everything from the vehicles they drive to heating and cooling their homes.” ********************************************************************************************** Biofuel Groups Applaud House Passage of RFS Integrity Act Growth Energy is happy about the inclusion of the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act contained in the clean energy legislation that passed the House last Thursday. The act was authored by House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson, along with representatives from other ag states like South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. It is designed to bring much-needed transparency to the Environmental Protection Agency’s secretive small refinery exemption process and ensure refiners meet biofuel blending requirements. “After years of EPA mismanagement, the legislation will finally give farmers and biofuel producers a long-overdue peek at EPA’s secretive and destructive process,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. The National Biodiesel Board is also pleased that the act is included in the House clean energy bill. The provision would set a June 1 deadline for annual small refinery exemption petitions, ensuring they’ll be accounted for in the RFS calculations. Also, the bill would require public disclosure of the volumes of biofuels potentially impacted by the petition, along with the name of the petitioner. Kurt Kovarik, NBB VP of Federal Affairs, says, “This is a commonsense step to ensure that RFS biomass-based diesel volumes are fully met and prevent a recurrence of the demand destruction for biodiesel that we’ve seen for the last seven years.” ********************************************************************************************** AGs Against Eliminating Swine Slaughter Line Speeds Seven attorneys general and two agriculture groups get to file briefs in a lawsuit challenging a USDA rule that eliminated line-speed limits at swine slaughter plants. A DTN report says on October 1 of last year, the Food Safety Inspection Service finalized the rule that cut the number of federal inspectors by 40 percent at swine plants while also eliminating limits on line speeds. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union filed a lawsuit six days later, asking the U.S. District Court in Minnesota to set aside the rule. The union says USDA didn’t take into consideration how it would affect safety issues and risks for line workers. The seven AGs will file a brief in support of a motion for summary judgement filed by the workers union. Additionally, the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute will file a brief in support of the USDA motion for summary judgement. The plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that “USDA’s failure to consider overwhelming recorded evidence that indicates faster line speeds subject workers to substantially increased risk of injury was arbitrary and capricious.” The workers union also says USDA didn’t provide an adequate reason for the decision to reduce the number of federal inspectors by 40 percent at each site. *****************************************t***************************************************** Ag Groups Want U.S. to Remain in WTO A coalition of 62 leading U.S. agriculture stakeholders are asking for continued U.S. membership in the World Trade Organization. A Corn Refiners Association release says the groups sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, as well as leaders of the Senate Finance, House Ways and Means, and the House and Senate Ag Committees calling for effective WTO reform. That reform would enhance the ability of American agriculture to access foreign markets and maintain transparency and accountability critical to future export growth that will help to support American jobs. The letter also identifies characteristics they’re looking for in the next WTO Director General. “The WTO is fundamental to a rules-based system of international trade,” says John Bode, President and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. “As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential. This is critical to the one-fifth of the U.S. economy that is related to agriculture.” The letter does note the need for the WTO to institute updated rules in order to keep pace with global economic changes and calls for increased accountability among members. A transition in leadership “presents a great opportunity to successfully implement reform and reinvigorate its negotiating function under a new Director General.” ********************************************************************************************** China Officials Downplay Fears of Grain Shortages Beijing wants the rest of the world to know that the most-populated country in the world is not looking at a grain shortage. China’s Ag Minister is blaming speculators for rapidly rising corn prices which are stoking fears about a possible shortage in the Asian nation. Corn prices in China recently hit an eight-year high following events like typhoons and flooding that damaged the nation’s Corn Belt. The South China Morning Post says it saw firsthand that large areas of cropland were flattened. As a result, local farmers are concerned about a steep drop in what they can produce. Chinese corn imports, used mainly in animal feed, hit the highest level in almost 30 years during the first eight months of 2020, increasing anxiety about a possible domestic supply gap. However, the nation’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs says the surging prices were caused by “market speculation and irrational hoarding.” He says the country has ample supplies of corn and is set to harvest another bumper crop in the autumn, despite the impact of natural disasters in two provinces that account for 25 percent of China’s corn production. “New corn will enter the market soon and the supply will further increase,” he says. “Corn prices are already starting to stabilize.” ********************************************************************************************** Next Generation Fuels Act Introduced in House Higher-octane fuels like mid-and-high-level ethanol blends are mutually beneficial for drivers, farmers, and the environment. Because of that, Representative Cheri Bustos (BOOS-tohs) introduced the Next Generation Fuels Act, which would increase gasoline octane to a minimum standard of 98 Research Octane Number (RON) through low-carbon renewable fuels. The National Farmers Union, a long-time supporter of higher blends of ethanol, is pleased with the bill’s introduction. “There are so many reasons to widely adopt low-carbon, high octane ethanol blends,” says President Rob Larew. “They significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” He also says the new standards would create new markets for family farmers, supporters of rural economic growth, and offer a cost-effective fuel for American drivers. Growth Energy is also pleased with the introduction, saying it will unleash higher-octane, lower-carbon fuels that offer drivers better mileage and fewer emissions. “There has never been a more urgent need to adopt higher-octane, low carbon ethanol blends into America’s fuel supply, as they are key to achieving clean, healthy air,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Wall Street Volatility Warning In response to President Donald Trump's promise to dispute the election outcome if he loses, “Wall Street's taking him at his word.” Several market reports are noting that volatility markets from stocks to currencies and bonds show “investors bracing for turbulence not just on election day, but for the ensuing weeks as well.” The fear is that results from the Nov. 3 vote – already the most expensive event to hedge against ever – won't be clear enough that a winner emerges without a protracted legal battle. For example, Bloomberg notes that, the election outcome itself, once you know it, that would have meaningful but not an oversize impact on the market. But the prospect of it becoming a “complete mess” is another element that people don't really know how to price. There are a lot of factors pressuring the stock market right now and the potential for a hotly contested result is certainly one of them, especially as there is already “so much social tension,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney. Many argue now that an unknown election result is increasingly becoming conventional wisdom on Wall Street. “A contested election has become the baseline,” JPMorgan Chase strategist John Normand wrote in a recent note to clients. The United States has seen bitterly disputed presidential election results in the past, and many remember that in 2000, it took weeks to decide the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Legal battles raged over the recount in Florida with the Supreme Court finally weighing in to stop the recount and award the election to Bush. Stocks slid throughout that period. But 2020 is widely seen as a vastly different and more combustible environment, sparking growing unease among investors about the “impact of a muddled election result.” The U.S. also continues to face a brutal pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and spurred a massive economic decline, Politico notes. While the backdrop in 2000 came amid a dot-com stock bubble in the process of deflating, the economy was still expanding. “The fear is that if we get a disputed election, it could lead to disruption and possibly even violence. If so, we could well see markets take a significant hit,” Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, said. “In 2000, the hanging chad debacle in Florida hit markets, and this election could well be even more disputed than that one.” Still, most Wall Street executives, traders and investment analysts widely expect the market environment to calm quickly after the election if the result is clear. For example, markets could rally on a Trump win based on the expectation of continued low tax rates and a relaxed approach to corporate regulation. A Biden win, especially if Democrats also take the Senate, could spark a short-term sell-off on fears of increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy – though that possibility is increasingly baked into expectations. Certain sectors also could face new regulation, including banks. However, a Biden win could also reduce some of the tension generated by Trump's trade wars and generally produce a less volatile daily political environment, tempering any initial sell-off. Total Democratic control would also likely lead to significant new fiscal stimulus, generally viewed as a positive on Wall Street. But the fear that is growing more intense by the day is that markets will have no idea – perhaps for weeks or months—about who will get inaugurated next Jan. 20. Numerous market reports see a “rush for volatility protection” well into December. Already, the “volatility futures curve remains elevated past the election.” Politico says. Goldman Sachs cautioned Friday that a delayed outcome is only a “tail risk” and not the most likely outcome but markets have “even more to worry about right after the vote.” The Fed will meet the week of the election for the first time since 1984, while October's jobs report will be released that Friday. Together, these uncertainties are forcing traders to protect against volatility weeks after the election passes, several reports say. November futures – which reflect the market's expectations for volatility through Nov. 18 – are more expensive than October, while December futures prices have been creeping higher as traders increasingly anticipate a delayed result.” Even the Treasury market, where unprecedented Fed support has muted swings for months, is showing signs of anxiety, Politico says. Expectations for price volatility in three months versus four weeks are at a level only exceeded once in the past decade. Some traders have been buying options to hedge a potential rush of capital from investors fleeing stocks. So, we will see. Wall Street's concerns are widely shared across the economy right now and the situation seems unlikely to calm itself in the near term. These are certainly fights producers should watch closely, and which are likely to be both contentious and bitter, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


USDA Chief Economist Addresses COVID, China Buys Of US Ag Goods A blog post this week from USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson outlines several factors that have been impacting U.S. agriculture, including global overproduction of several commodities. He also notes the recent rise in Chinese purchase of several U.S. ag commodities, but does not delve into recent USDA WASDE outlooks that did not appear to acknowledge what he points out relative to China “signaling” they will go beyond their corn tariff-rate quota (TRQ), for example. But a portion of the woes facing U.S. agriculture now were fostered in party global overproduction of several commodities over the 2014-2018 period.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


Farm, Food Groups Tell Trump WTO is Important to US Agriculture More than 50 agriculture groups and businesses say the U.S. should remain a World Trade Organization (WTO) member and work with other members to revamp rules to modernize the global institution. WTO supporters are concerned that President Trump might withdraw the U.S. from the institution. Many in U.S. agriculture say that could be detrimental to farm and food sectors that rely on export markets. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the groups and businesses said U.S. agriculture has largely benefited under the WTO, but said the body's rules need updating. The letter was also sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees and to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees. “While the WTO has been beneficial for U.S. agriculture, its rules have not kept pace with changes in the global economy, and improvement is needed to hold members accountable and improve the organizations' governance,” the letter said. “Continued U.S. membership and active participation will help ensure that necessary reforms are undertaken, and that the WTO will continue to play an important and effective role in economic development of the United States and our trading partners. As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential as well.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will start the week looking at the latest weather forecasts for the U.S., Black Sea region and South America and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has any export sales announcements. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT, including USDA's latest estimates of row crop harvest progress. Weather A frontal boundary will bring scattered light to moderate showers to the eastern Midwest and Delta region on Monday. Isolated showers will also occur later today across the western Midwest. Showers will boost soil moisture for winter wheat planting in the eastern Midwest, but cause some harvest delays.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


New Report Examines Cattle Market Issues and Solutions A new report unveiled by the American Farm Bureau Federation provides an in-depth examination of the causes and price implications resulting from extreme market volatility in the cattle industry. It also sets the stage to explore policy solutions. The Cattle Market Working Group, comprised of ten state Farm Bureau presidents, spent more than two months investigating factors that led to market disruptions following the Holcomb packing plant fire and the COVID-19 pandemic. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says of the report, “We must work toward a more stable, resilient food supply chain that can better endure unforeseen challenges.” The report is designed to equip state and county Farm Bureau organizations with deep insight and policy considerations as Farm Bureau leaders debate policy recommendations for 2021. Key topics of the report include mandatory minimum negotiated trade, risk management and education, small capacity meatpacking, and strengthening the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s ability to enforce market rules. ************************************************************************************ Coalition Seeks CCC Funds for Farm Workers More than 160 farm groups as part of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition want Commodity Credit Corporation funds to help protect farmworkers. In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, the coalition says, "We ask for your help as we continue to promote the health and safety of our farm employees and rural communities." Pence is head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. As part of the group's recommendations, they suggest the federal government Help farmers offset COVID-19 mitigation expenses, while maintaining existing farm programs, by increasing Commodity Credit Corporation funds. These expenses include housing, transportation, retrofitting workplaces, testing, and training and compliance activities, among others. Other recommendations include prioritizing PPE and future vaccine distribution for the food and fiber supply chain, ensure COVID-19 testing resources are accessible to agricultural employers, and allow the use of alternate housing structures, such as FEMA trailers or RV’s to facilitate greater social distancing. ************************************************************************************ California Governor Signs Order to Ban Gas-powered Cars by 2035 California Governor Gavin Newsom this week signed an executive order to phase out gas-powered cars by 2035 in the state. The executive order directs the state to require that, by 2035, all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California be zero-emission vehicles. Newsome says, "This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change." Following the order, the California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035. In addition, the Air Resources Board will establish rules to require that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero-emission by 2045 where feasible. Via Twitter, the National Corn Growers Association stated, “Corn farmers agree…that clean, renewable fuels have a major role to play,” adding, “Let’s work together to unlock the substantial environmental benefits that increased blends of low carbon, high octane ethanol can deliver.” ************************************************************************************ TFI Releases Fertilizer Industry Economic Impact Study The Fertilizer Institute Thursday released the Fertilizer Industry Economic Impact Study. The study highlights the U.S. fertilizer industry's importance and economic contributions to the national, state and local economies. The study found that the fertilizer industry contributed over $130 billion and nearly 500,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in 2019. TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch responds, “The fertilizer industry doesn’t just help grow the food on your dinner table, we also help grow the U.S. economy.” Deemed an essential industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, fertilizer manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and distributors have a sustained positive impact on communities all across the nation. Additionally, Rosenbusch says the movement of fertilizer alone benefits the economy to the tune of nearly $9 billion annually. The publication of the study, conducted for TFI by John Dunham and Associates, is the culmination of months of compiling data from the entire fertilizer supply chain. ************************************************************************************ Midwest lawmakers Seek Funding for Missouri River Navigation Lawmakers from Lower Missouri River states this week penned a letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide additional funding for navigation projects along the river. The lawmakers say many farmers, industries and small businesses in the Midwest rely on the Missouri River to transport goods. High water levels and record flooding in 2019 have prevented the Corps of Engineers from completing repairs on water infrastructure projects, which has led to dangerous accidents that have significantly disrupted commerce on the river. The lawmakers write, “there is a critically dire situation related to navigation challenges in several areas along the Missouri River where serious barge traffic accidents have occurred.” The Corps’ Kansas City District has received $20 million in emergency supplemental funds to conduct work along the navigation channel. However, the lawmakers estimate the need at $200 million. The Corps estimates that high water in the last three years damaged 50-75 percent of the 7,000 river training structures that make up the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project. ************************************************************************************ State and County Fair Support Gaining Momentum in Congress A bill providing support to state and county fairs is gaining momentum this week. Senator Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat, introduced companion legislation to a House bill that would establish funds to offset revenue losses for state and county fairs. The Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act, introduced in the House by Representative Josh Harder, a California Democrat, would establish a $5 billion federal grant program for state and county fairs. The fund would offset fair revenue losses during the Coronavirus pandemic and would be available for both 2020 as well as 2021. States could apply for aid from the Department of Agriculture and then distribute the funds to fairs in their state. Senator Jones says, “State and county fairs are not just an important part of our social fabric, they’re also a key part of the agriculture business.” Harder stated, “Working together, we will continue pushing to get our fairs the relief they need to weather this storm.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fed Inflation Approach Criticized Bloomberg is reporting this week that the Fed's new “hot” approach to the economy is raising questions “in some quarters.” Asset managers who've guarded against inflation during a decade of easy money and ballooning deficits have little to show for their efforts. That's still not stopping some from hedging that risk, Bloomberg says. Thirty-year market veteran Matthew McLennan of First Eagle Investment Management is among those warning that price pressures are coming down the road. He's betting easy money and further hits to productivity will spark inflation, making bigger companies with pricing-power and competitive advantage a good wager. He's also piling into gold as a pure hedge against the erosion of value caused by inflation. However, Bloomberg thinks McLennan is in the minority. The Federal Reserve's aim to let inflation run hot draws mostly derision across Wall Street after the central bank has failed to lift prices toward its 2% target for years. Even Fed officials themselves made clear Wednesday that they can't do it all, stressing that fiscal stimulus is critical to sustaining the economic recovery. Even so, some still see increased potential for inflation bubbling up. “If you think about what the Fed's inflation averaging means, it means they might be happy to see inflation move over time from 1% to 2% to 3% to 4%, while interest rates remain close to zero,” said McLennan, head of the global value team at First Eagle, which manages about $101 billion in assets. “That also means that real interest rates go down more.” What might make things different this time is that secondary impacts of the pandemic may add to growing productivity bottlenecks and America's deficit keeps surging, says McLennan. Add to that the fact that the U.S. dollar is losing its luster, he said. The fresh wave of deglobalization underfoot and second phase pandemic impacts both bode poorly for productivity, said McLennan, who was co-portfolio manager of the global equity partners group at Goldman Sachs Asset Management in London prior to joining First Eagle in 2008. That means, for him, that inflation reignites amid a backdrop of slow economic growth. Continued weakness in the dollar, with the Bloomberg Spot Dollar Index down about 9% from this year's high in March, buoys inflation through rising import prices as well. Among the array of products McLennan helps manage is the $43 billion Global Fund, which had gold as its biggest holding at about 13%, according to Bloomberg data as of Aug. 31. Another one he steers, the U.S. Value Fund, had Oracle Corp., Comcast Corp and Colgate-Palmolive Co. as it top three holdings. The Fed targets inflation as measured by the personal consumption expenditure price index. It also pays close attention to a core reading of that gauge which strips out volatile food and energy prices. Both barometers have plummeted since the pandemic. There are other notable investors and corporate heads warning on inflation, also, Bloomberg observes. Earlier this month Stan Druckenmiller said there's a chance that inflation could hit 5% to 10% in the next four to five years. Druckenmiller was the founder and manager of Duquesne Capital – and managed the Quanturn Fund with George Soros. McLennan prefers gold over other favored fixed-income hedge vehicles like Treasury inflation-protected securities, given there's a limited supply of the shiny metal. The Fed's monetary stimulus already pushed key measures of the U.S. money supply up by double digits. “The rate of supply growth of gold is less than 2% a year, bringing us back to the idea of scarcity value,” McLennan said. Traders see consumer price inflation averaging about 1.6% over the next 10 years, based on so-called breakeven rates garnered by TIPS and nominal Treasuries. That's down from an 8-month high on Sept. 1. Gold prices have also ebbed, both likely driven lower in part on the inability of Congress to agree on a phase four fiscal stimulus package. The global recovery also risks losing steam as virus cases rise and some nations roll back reopening measures, Bloomberg said. And, it sees the U.S. presidential election as another wild card. “If we get a Democrat clean sweep it's more likely than not we are going to see more rapid growth in the federal register and regulation” which tend to reduce productivity, McLennan said. Slow grow and rising inflation are probable with “these productivity bottlenecks coming with a Fed that's willing to let inflation run hot.” So, we will see. Clearly, inflation is a trend deeply feared by many who remember bouts in the recent past. However, the current priorities are economic growth and jobs recovery and the Fed is likely to push for its inflation targets to achieve those goals — trends producers should watch closely as these economic debates intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


WTO Members Press U.S. On Farmer Aid The U.S. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and Market Facilitation Program (MFP) efforts have caught the attention of WTO members, as Canada, the EU, India, Australia, Brazil, Paraguay, New Zealand, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia used a WTO session this week to criticize the U.S. efforts. They are calling on the U.S. to explain the around $34 billion in what they consider trade-distorting payments in 2019. The WTO cap for those “amber box” subsidies is $19.1 billion. The countries also raised the latest up to $14 billion CFAP 2 program announced last Friday. But countries also raised questions about aid the EU is providing to its farmers in response to the COVID-19 situation, indicating that all countries have taken actions to help their farmers in the wake of the pandemic.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


USDA's Perdue Likes China Ag Buys, But Wants to See Shipments USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue this week said he is hopeful that China can meet its purchase commitments of U.S. farm products via the Phase One trade deal by February, the end of the first year of the deal. Perdue said “it is going to be tough to meet those numbers ($36.5 billion first year). This is just purely a guess; we may reach it by the end of January before Brazil and South America come back into the marketplace.” While there are hefty export sales on the books, Perdue said he wants to see shipments, saying China is known for booking and later cancelling sales. “It does appear they are trying, but it remains to be seen if we will make those numbers or not.” Data for the week ended September 17 from USDA included the following export sales figure for China for 2020/21: Net sales of 566,427 metric tons of corn, 262,400 mt of sorghum, 1,879,091 mt of soybeans, 39,482 running bales of upland cotton, but net reductions of 600 metric tons of wheat. For 2020, USDA reported net sales of 3,396 metric tons of beef and 8,161 metric tons of pork. Shipments of U.S. ag products to China also continues, with exports the week ending September 17 including 58,370 mt of wheat, 204,368 mt of corn, 71,552 mt of sorghum, 769,309 mt of soybeans, 117,690 running bales of upland cotton, 1,200 mt of beef and 10,943 mt of pork.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday's official reports include U.S. durable good orders for August at 7:30 a.m. CDT and USDA's monthly cattle on-feed report, due out at 2 p.m. CDT. Other market interests include the latest weather forecasts for the U.S., Black Sea region and South America, as well as any trade news that develops. Weather Friday will again be dry and open for row crop harvest and winter wheat planting in primary crop areas. Temperatures will be above to much above normal, adding to crop drying. Rain will be confined to the far southeastern U.S. with harvest disruption and possible crop quality impact.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Farm Groups Applaud CCC Agreement The decision by House lawmakers to include Commodity Credit Corporation funding in the continuing resolution demonstrates their support for America’s farmers, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The stopgap measure provides nearly $8 billion for nutrition assistance programs, replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation, and stipulate some Congressional oversight of spending through CCC. Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “While we were disappointed it recently became a political flashpoint, we are pleased lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize that these funds help to sustain conservation programs and stock America’s pantry.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew stated, “We are relieved that the House has come to an agreement.” The agreement, passed by the House 359-57, keeps the federal government funded through December 11. Republicans and some House Democrats representing rural areas were critical of the original House proposal that didn’t include CCC funding. Democrats were seeking accountability in the program, referring to a White House proposal that would have used CCC funds for oil companies. ************************************************************************************ Cattle Market Transparency Act Introduced The Cattle Market Transparency Act introduced this week seeks to restore transparency and accountability in the cattle market. Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, introduced the bill. Fischer says, “The past few years have been very difficult for producers.” Fischer noted the Tyson Foods plant fire in Kansas, and supply chain challenges due to COVID-19. The bill would establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. It requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash trade, seek public comment on those levels, then implement. The legislation also requires USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers, and require packers to supply the information to USDA. The bill also would mandate that a packer report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. This requirement already exists for the swine industry. ************************************************************************************ Senate Hearing Focuses on Changes to the Endangered Species Act A Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing Wednesday focused on efforts to modernize the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act Amendments Act of 2020 reauthorizes the ESA for the first time since 1992. Florida rancher Liesa Priddy says the legislation, “will be better for ranchers, better for states, better for the federal authorities, and better for the species.” Priddy testified on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council. The organizations support the legislation that they say empowers states to lead recovery efforts and gives stakeholders, like ranchers, who make significant investments in voluntary conservation a more meaningful seat at the table in recovery discussions. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, says state and local experts need to be leading efforts to protect local wildlife. His legislation will increase local input and improve transparency in the listing process. Barrasso says the bill also protects endangered species and helps communities invest in more conservation and recovery activities. ************************************************************************************ Ethanol and Farm Groups Call on EPA to Reject Remaining Waivers A coalition of farm and ethanol groups want the Environmental Protection Agency to take the “next step” in denying waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard. While the groups say EPA’s recent announcement that it has denied 54 petitions for “gap year” small refinery exemptions under the RFS was indeed a big step forward, “there is more work to be done to fully restore integrity to the RFS.” There are 50 exemption petitions still awaiting a decision, and EPA still has not released the 2021 RVO proposal. The Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Corn Growers Association and National Farmers Union worked together and won a unanimous federal court decision in January that they say should have put an end to EPA’s abuse of the refinery exemption program. There are 17 gap-year petitions remaining and 33 pending exemption requests for 2019 and 2020. In a press conference Wednesday, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper stated, “EPA needs to reject those the second they come through the front door,” from the Department of Energy. ************************************************************************************ Cross-Industry Collaboration Launches Million-Acre Grazing Initiative The Walmart Foundation, Cargill and McDonald's are investing more than $6 million in an initiative led by the World Wildlife Fund that aims to improve the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains. The new program, known as the Ranch Systems and Viability Planning, or RSVP network, will support ranchers across the ecoregion-focusing primarily on Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. The Network will provide technical expertise, training and tools to help advance grazing practices that improve the health of the land. By improving management of one million acres over five years and avoiding conversion, the effort will increase carbon storage and sequestration, improved water infiltration, and better biodiversity outcomes. Kathleen McLaughlin of the Walmart Foundation says, "Collaborative efforts like this can accelerate innovative, sustainable solutions and support ranchers in the beef supply chain." The World Wildlife Fund will work with ranchers on private and tribal lands to provide extension services in one-on-one and group workshops, offer ongoing technical expertise and provide cost-share and monitoring to help ranchers design, document and implement ranch plans. ************************************************************************************ General Mills to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions General Mills announced a pledge to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent across its full value chain - from farm to fork to landfill - over the next ten years. The company also committed to a long-term goal to achieve net-zero emission levels by 2050. The absolute greenhouse gas commitment was calculated using methodologies approved by the Science Based Target Initiative that model a level of emission reductions that science suggests is necessary to sustain the planet's health. The framework focuses on advancing regenerative agriculture across the company's sourcing footprint on one million acres by 2030. General Mills says up to one-third of greenhouse gases stem from the food system, and an estimated 80 percent of which comes from agriculture. In 2019, General Mills committed to advancing regenerative agriculture on one million acres of farmland by 2030. The company defines regenerative agriculture as holistic, principles-based farming and ranching that seeks to strengthen ecosystems and community resilience.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Washington Insider: House Passes Stop Gap Funding Bill The House passed a stopgap funding measure “through Dec. 11” on Wednesday night, overcoming a fight over farm and nutrition aid and preparing for a frantic lame duck session at the end of the year. The bill now heads to the Senate, where its “chances of passage are good” after Republicans got the farm aid they demanded. The stopgap would provide $21 billion spending authority by accelerating the reimbursement of USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). It also would provide almost $8 billion in funds to feed children who normally receive school lunches — an increase from the $2 billion Democrats had earlier considered. Lawmakers from agriculture-heavy states, including some centrist Democrats, pushed for the farm aid measure after President Donald Trump last week announced $13 billion in “farm aid” through the Commodity Credit Corporation. On Monday, Democrats had released a version of the measure that did not contain the farm bailout provision, enraging Republicans and putting passage of the bill in doubt — and thus raising the chances of a government shutdown. It also became apparent that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did not have the votes to pass it. Democrats have complained that Trump administration farm relief has favored southern states such as Georgia — a key swing state and home of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue — and larger producers. “The Trump Administration has proven they cannot be trusted to distribute payments fairly,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee. She added that the Agriculture Department doesn't need the authority to meet farm bill obligations. But other Democrats, including endangered House incumbents in states like Iowa and Minnesota, pressed for the farm aid, the Washington Post reported. The stopgap funding bill also comes as negotiations on a huge COVID-19 relief bill remain stalled and as the Capitol has been thrust into an unprecedented political drama with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, which has launched an intense election-season Senate confirmation fight. The spending proposal, called a continuing resolution, or CR, in Washington-speak, would keep every federal agency running at current funding levels through Dec. 11, which will keep the government afloat past the election and possibly reshuffle Washington's balance of power. Appropriators have committed to trying to pass an omnibus spending measure by Dec. 11, Speaker Pelosi said on Wednesday. Bloomberg called that “an ambitious goal in less than three months, indicating lawmakers could assemble a few large packages, if not a single 12-bill omnibus measure.” The House passed 10 of its 12 bills, but Senate appropriators have not marked up or release any appropriation bills. “We'll proceed with what we have accomplished on the floor of the House, they'll post what their bills might be, our appropriators will go to conference,” Pelosi said, adding that appropriators have a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to try to have an omnibus “finished by Dec. 11.” The continuing resolution released and passed yesterday doesn't follow an earlier agreement to leave coronavirus measures out of the stopgap funding bill — but Democrats got a substantial amount of food aid funds in return, Pelosi said in the interview yesterday. “The definition of a clean CR on the Republican side is, 'What we want should go in there, what you want shouldn't,'” she argued. In a side note, Bloomberg noted that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is vowing to bring back earmarks, with new transparency requirements, if she's chosen as the next House Appropriations chairwoman, according to a plan she released for the 117th Congress. She is up against Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. and Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, among Democrats in the race to succeed retiring Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. DeLauro and Kaptur both have more seniority but Wasserman Schultz has sought to garner support through specific proposals to change how the panel operates — including a July plan to create an advisory panel on inequity in federal spending. Under Wasserman Schultz's proposal, in addition to reviving earmarks, the full committee would “hold hearings outside of appropriations season,” in order to expand its overall level of work; start an advisory committee with members from key caucuses; hold freshman orientation and “Appropriations 101” workshops; reestablish the House Appropriations Select Intelligence Oversight Panel; and expand the chairwoman's member services team. Wasserman Shultz proposed making the earmark process more transparent than it was before it was banned by House Republicans in 2011. Those changes include prohibiting earmarked funds from going to for-profit businesses, posting earmarks publicly, creating an online database of earmarks, and calling for an annual earmark audit by the Government Accountability Office. So, we will see. Almost everything is toxic these days, and the fog of battle is unusually dense, observers say. However, the battles are increasingly important and should be watched closely by producers as the process intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Reuters: USDA Making COVID Aid Payments To Tobacco Farmers From New Account USDA will be making payments to tobacco farmers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) effort via a new account established under the office of the secretary, according to a report from Reuters. The payments of up to $100 million to tobacco farmers will not come from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funding but from this new account established in the wake of how Congress divvied up money to USDA in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A change in law in 2004 prevented CCC funds from being used to make payments to tobacco farmers, and USDA told the news service it is tracking the money. The CARES Act provided $9.5 billion in relief funding for agriculture, allocating those funds to the office of the agriculture secretary.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Senators Call for Removal of Trade Program's Rice Tariff Barriers A group of U.S. senators are calling on the Trump administration to reform the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the largest and oldest trade preference program. The lawmakers want the reforms to level the playing field for American rice producers. GSP provides duty-free treatment to goods from developing countries to promote economic growth in those nations. In recent years, highly subsidized rice growing competitors have taken advantage of this program to increase rice exports to the U.S. at the expense of American producers, rice proponents note. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer — authored by Sen, John Boozman, R-Ark., and others — the members shared their support for the USA Rice Federation's petition to remove all rice tariff lines from the list of commodities eligible for duty-free import under GSP.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday morning's 7:30 a.m. CDT reports include USDA's weekly export sales, weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Traders will watch for a possible export sale at 8 a.m., followed by a report on U.S. new home sales at 9 a.m. CDT and natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. The latest weather forecasts will also be checked and USDA's quarterly hogs and pigs report is out at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Showers and thunderstorms are in store for the northern Midwest and the Mid-South Thursday, causing harvest disruption. A few scattered showers will also be noted in the southern Plains and western Midwest. Dry conditions will be in effect elsewhere to favor row crop harvest and winter wheat planting.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


Biden Campaign Blames Trump for Ethanol Crisis During a virtual press conference Tuesday, the Joe Biden campaign utilized farmers blaming President Donald Trump for the ongoing ethanol industry crisis. The farmers noted how the administration has given oil companies dozens of waivers, reducing demand for ethanol and forcing the closure of refineries across the country. Jim Nichols, owner of a 500-acre corn and soybean farm in Minnesota, stated, “Corn farmers are in terrible shape due to President Trump’s betrayal,” adding, “we need change now.” Chris Gibbs, a farmer from West-central Ohio and president of the Rural America 2020 board of directors, stated, “Rather than supporting corn farmers and making E15 ‘America’s Fuel,’ Trump has consistently undercut this industry and hurt our farmers. Rural America 2020 is a nonprofit that advocates for policies that benefit agriculture and rural America, supporting Joe Biden for president. Last week, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency announced it would deny petitions for small refinery exemptions for past compliance years, the so-called “gap-filling” petitions for the 2011-18 compliance years. ************************************************************************************ Agreement Reached to Include CCC Funds in CR After days of partisan politics, a continuing resolution passed the House of Representatives Tuesday night including funds for the Commodity Credit Corporation. The White House and Congressional Republicans reached an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to include the funding, while prohibiting oil companies from accessing CCC funds. The Trump administration was exploring a plan to use up to $300 million of CCC funds for the oil industry, but dropped the proposal this week. In a statement, Pelosi says, “We have reached an agreement with Republicans on the CR to add nearly $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families. We also increase accountability in the Commodity Credit Corporation, preventing funds for farmers from being misused for a Big Oil bailout.” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, previously critical of Democrats withholding the funds, stated, “Democrats have heard our call, and the calls from farm country, to not ignore rural America when funding the government.” The CR funds the government through December 11. ************************************************************************************ NCGA Exploring Short Term Demand Growth The National Corn Growers Association is actively working to rebuild demand by exploring new incremental opportunities for America’s corn farmers. In partnership with AimPoint Research and primary customer segments, NCGA is developing a short-term demand growth plan that sets the table for long-term success. NCGA President Kevin Ross says, “I don’t have to tell you, this year is unlike any other I’ve experienced in my career, which is why we have to think outside the box and deliver quick wins for corn farmers.” The process of evaluating potential market opportunities started with an intelligence briefing and level setting exercise. In the coming weeks, committees will do a deep dive to develop potential solution sets with analysis for each potential market for corn. By December, a full marketing plan by segment will be unveiled. The primary areas of growth potential are ethanol usage domestically and internationally, expanded export markets for corn and co-products, and industrial segments such as biobased plastics. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol Launches Nationwide Grower Recruitment Campaign American cotton growers now can join the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, a new standard for verifying the sustainability progress of U.S. cotton. As consumers continue to demand eco-friendly products, enrolling in the Trust Protocol will help growers ensure markets for their cotton by verifiably demonstrating the sustainability record of American cotton in the global market. Protocol President Gary Adams says, “growers will now be able to better document their current sustainability programs using a quantifiable, digital platform and that data is assessed and verified by a third-party audit.” The Protocol helps U.S. growers document and showcase their land management and environmental stewardship practices while helping them achieve continuous improvement related to environmental sustainability measurements. Each participating grower commits to documenting and tracking their progress toward improving soil carbon health while seeking year over year reductions in soil erosion, overall land use, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By 2025, the Trust Protocol seeks to have more than 50 percent of all U.S. cotton registered as Trust Protocol Cotton. ************************************************************************************ Army Corps Repairing Missouri River Navigation Channel Multiple issues along the Lower Missouri River's navigation channel are under repair by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps’ Kansas City District is addressing priority areas of concern and the damages to river structures that have accumulated during nearly three years of high water. An extended period of high water on the Lower Missouri River, including devastating flooding in 2019, damaged 50-75 percent of the 7,000 river training structures that make up the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project. The damage caused navigation restrictions as the river returned to normal levels this summer. A District official says USACE is addressing the restrictions and restoring the channel to its nine-foot depth. However, officials say there is insufficient funding to repair all the structures damaged by the 2019 flood. Lack of funding is impacting the ability to make the repairs, and officials say time will be necessary for the structures to fully scour the channel to return it to its authorized nine-foot by 300-foot condition. ************************************************************************************ U.N. Launches Green Cities Initiative to End Hunger A plan by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization seeks to transform agri-food systems, end hunger and improve nutrition in and around cities in a post-COVID-19 era. The Green Cities Initiative and Action Plan announced this week aims to improve the livelihoods and well-being of populations in at least 100 cities around the world in the next three years, looking to have 1,000 cities join by 2030. In particular, the initiative is focused on improving the urban environment, strengthening urban-rural linkages and the resilience of urban systems, services and populations to external shocks. Ensuring access to a healthy environment and healthy diets from sustainable food systems, it will also contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation and sustainable resource management. The new initiative also includes the creation of a "Green Cities Network", where cities of all sizes - from large to medium to small - will exchange experiences on best practices, successes and lessons, as well as build city-to-city cooperation opportunities.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fed Increases Push For Coronavirus Relief The Hill is reporting that Fed chair Jerome Powell will offer testimony this week in what will likely be his last chance to try to push Congress toward another coronavirus relief bill before Election Day. Bloomberg also is reporting that Powell said the U.S. economy “has a long way to go before fully recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and will need further support. The path forward will depend on keeping the virus under control and on policy actions taken at all levels of government.” He appeared before the House Financial Services Committee yesterday. While a recovery is underway, “both employment and overall economic activity, however, remain well below their pre-pandemic levels, and the path ahead continues to be highly uncertain,” he said. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also appeared, Bloomberg said and that he and the White House “continue to seek an agreement with both parties in Congress” on another fiscal relief package. The Secretary said that “the President and I remain committed to providing support for American workers and businesses,” he said in a release. “I believe a targeted package is still needed, and the administration is ready to reach a bipartisan agreement.” The hearing with key officials is a quarterly exercise mandated by the Cares Act passed by Congress in March which appropriated about $2 trillion to help speed the U.S. recovery. The pair faced questions about their use of the Act's funds and about what else should still be done. However, Bloomberg also noted that prospects for another round of fiscal support have dimmed somewhat amid spiraling partisan tension over the battle to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with just 42 days remaining before the U.S. election. As expected, Powell and Mnuchin fielded numerous questions about the troubled Main Street Lending Program, a $600 billion Fed facility backed by Treasury funds aimed at providing credit to small-and mid-sized companies, Bloomberg said. It has so far only purchased $1.5 billion in loans. The two officials diverged on the advisability of lowering the minimum loan size for the program with Mnuchin embracing that potential while Powell said smaller loans would require a brand new approach and would be more appropriately managed through the Paycheck Protection Program, which extended forgivable loans to small firms. On the question of whether the Main Street program was taking enough risk, the Treasury chief said he expected the Main Street backstop would take some losses. He didn't speak to reports that the Treasury had advised banks to target zero losses on the loans. Mnuchin also made clear he's eager to reallocate funds initially appropriated under the Cares Act to act as a buffer for Main Street and other emergency lending programs that may no longer be needed. “We would like to spend that money on other areas of the economy that could be better served,” Mnuchin said. “Unfortunately, we do need Congressional authority to use it in other areas.” He also wrote that investors should “prepare for the likelihood Congress won't have the time or the will to pass more fiscal stimulus before the end of the year — and for an even more contested election in the wake of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Fed's Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan, who dissented at last week's policy meeting, told The Hill that he doesn't want to commit the U.S. central bank to too much monetary stimulus once the economy has recovered from the coronavirus pandemic. Separately, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said that the U.S. economy has enough momentum to continue its recovery from the coronavirus slump even if Congress fails to pass additional taxpayer support. “I don't think there is as much of an imperative about a new fiscal package as there might have been” in July or August, Bullard said. “It seems like, at least in some broad macroeconomic type of calculation, we have enough resources to cover this.” In addition, there is criticism of the Fed's Main Street Lending Program. Bharat Ramamurti, a member of the congressional oversight commission for the coronavirus response, has called the Main Street Lending Program “a failure,” citing the reported reluctance of banks to furnish loans to struggling companies eligible for the facility. And Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., a member of that commission and the Senate Banking Committee, where Powell will appear Thursday, has called on the Fed to close down programs for purchasing corporate bonds amid a rapid recovery in financial markets. So, we will see. In spite of the widening view that the crisis has passed efforts to move the Congress to offer additional assistance can be expected to continue and possibly to intensify — fights producers should watch closely as they emerge Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


EPA Still Shows Pending Gap-Year SRE Requests, Slight Uptick For 2019, 2020 The level of small refinery exemptions (SREs) still shown as being pending at EPA has declined dramatically, with the agency data now showing 17 remain pending for the 2011-2018 compliance years as of September 17. There are two each pending for the 2011, 2012 and 2018 compliance years, three each for 2013 and 2015, four for 2014 and one for the 2016 compliance year. The big reduction is due to EPA announcing they would deny the requests that they had received recommendations from the Department of Energy on. But that did not cover all of the pending gap-year requests. As for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years, EPA data now shows 33 SREs pending for the two years combined, an increase from August data showing there were 31 SREs pending for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


Small Refiner Exemptions from RFS Requirements Remains in the News USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in Illinois Monday said that there are “no plans” to use the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to make payments to refiners that are denied small refiner exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “We don't think that qualifies under Charter 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation Act, and we've informed them of that,” Perdue remarked. “So we'll have to see what happens.” Perdue said President Trump is trying to be fair to both sides on the issue of small refinery exemptions. “He thinks that denying those waivers and complying with the RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers), and that, has hurt some of the small, independents (refiners). That may be the case, but if they need to get that, then they need to find another way to do that.” Meanwhile, Reuters reported, citing two sources, that the Trump administration has dropped a plan to use CCC authority to make payments to refiners denied SRE requests. The administration had been considering paying some $300 million to refiners and tap the CCC authority to do so. But after outcry from Midwest lawmakers and even from refiners, the administration has shelved the plan, according to the report. Late Tuesday, the House of Representatives also passed a short-term funding bill for the federal government that would prevent CCC funds from being used for oil refiners.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets On Wednesday morning we will get a manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) report. At 10:30 a.m., Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will speak on the coronavirus. We will of course be watching for new sales of corn and soybeans to China at 8:30 a.m. central, and we'll watch weather in both the Black Sea and South America. Weather Moderate to locally heavy rain from former Tropical Storm Beta is in store for the Delta Wednesday. The rain will disrupt harvest and may damage open-boll cotton. A few showers will also form in the far northern Plains. Dry and warm conditions elsewhere will allow for continued row crop harvest and winter wheat planting.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


CFAP2 Signup Period Underway The signup period for CFAP2, the additional Coronavirus Food Assistance Program relief, is underway. The signup period opened Monday and extends through December 11. Producers interested in signing up can do so at Farm Service Agency county offices. A Market Intel analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation details the CFAP2 provisions, which provides nearly $14 billion in relief to farmers and ranchers suffering losses or increased cost after April 15, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the $14 billion in CFAP2 support, USDA's cost-benefit analysis estimates corn producers will receive $3.5 billion, or 25 percent of the total CFAP2 resources. Following corn, beef cattle producers are expected to receive $2.8 billion, or 20 percent of CFAP2 funding. Dairy farmers are expected to receive $2 billion, or 14 percent of the available support. Hog producers are estimated to receive $1.7 billion or 12 percent of CFAP2. Soybean producers are estimated to receive $1.4 billion, or ten percent of the funds. Wheat, flat-rate crops, eggs and other commodities are expected to receive $2.5 billion, or 18 percent. ************************************************************************************ Peterson Weighs in on Second CFAP Program from USDA House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota overall approves the second Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, but says more sectors need help. Peterson responded to the Department of Agriculture’s CFAP2 announcement stating, “There are some good things in this second CFAP plan,” but adds, “I still want to see help for the ethanol industry that has been hurt by the drop in fuel demand." Peterson also wants the program to include textile mills that are helping to create COVID-19 medical supplies and more support for pork and poultry producers that had to depopulate due to plant closures and support for contract growers who have faced a loss of income. Of note, Peterson welcomed actions in the CFAP2, including simplifying the application process for specialty crop growers and making sure livestock producers, like turkey growers have what they need. Peterson also applauded expansion of the program to all classes of wheat, a request by industry groups. ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends WIC COVID-19 Flexibilities The Department of Agriculture Monday announced the extension of more than a dozen nutrition program flexibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension ensures participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, continue receiving the food and health support during the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA is providing the extension of the waivers throughout the national public health emergency. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has made maximum use of existing program flexibilities and the waiver authority provided by Congress to make it as easy as possible for children and families to participate in WIC, and all of the department’s nutrition assistance programs, during the COVID-19 health emergency. The WIC waivers being extended allow for participants to be approved for WIC without being physically present in a local office, remote issuance of benefits to any participant, flexibility in food package requirements, including dairy, grains, vegetables, and infant foods; and additional options for pick-up of food packages. ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks Comments on Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Rainfall Index Insurance Program The Department of Agriculture seeks public comments on recommended improvements to the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Rainfall Index Crop Insurance Program by November 5, 2020. USDA’s Risk Management Agency contracted for an independent evaluation of the program to determine its effectiveness as a risk management tool for livestock producers. RMA Administrator Martin Barbre says, “We want to be sure that the recommendations RMA implements are good for the industry and good for livestock producers.” In addition to the PRF program, the recommendations could be applied to other Rainfall Index programs such as beekeeping and Annual Forage. RMA will review all comments and determine what recommendations should be implemented for the 2022 crop year. The independent evaluation includes several recommendations, including adjusting the County Base Value productivity range, better targeting of indemnities, and focusing on viable forage production areas. Other recommendations include focusing on coverage on risk-reducing intervals and taking an alternative approach to reducing frequent shallow losses. ************************************************************************************ USDA Partners with Midwest Community Colleges to Teach Agricultural Conservation The Department of Agriculture is partnering with nine Midwest community colleges to support hands-on student learning about conservation and to foster conservation-minded farmers and ranchers. On Monday, Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement representatives and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service signed a memorandum of understanding. Through the memo, they agree to enhance and accelerate training and adoption of technologies and best practices for improved agricultural productivity and natural resources stewardship. The agreement aims to reach not only agriculture students but also the broader community, through events such as field days. NRCS and the member institutions are developing local plans to address regional and statewide challenges and to support student internships and other training opportunities. All member institutions have college farms where they can implement conservation practices to educate and inform students and producers. Community colleges in the program include institutions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Ohio. More information about the partnership is available at nrcs.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Walmart Sets Goal of Becoming Regenerative Company Walmart just announced the company is doubling down on addressing the growing climate crisis by targeting zero emissions across the company's global operations by 2040. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are also committing to help protect, manage, or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030 to help combat the cascading loss of nature threatening the planet. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon says, "The commitments we're making today not only aim to decarbonize Walmart's global operations, they also put us on the path to becoming a regenerative company." Walmart seeks to harvest enough wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources to power its facilities with 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. The company also seeks electrifying and zeroing out emissions from all of its vehicles, including long-haul trucks, by 2040. Additionally, Walmart plans to transition to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores, clubs, and data and distribution centers by 2040.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Tensions With China Intensify China's war rhetoric is pushing Taiwan to boost its U.S. economic ties. A Bloomberg report reflects the emergence of Taiwan once again as the center of dangerous military tensions. Bloomberg says it is “hard to find a world leader who's had a better 2020 than Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen” on the basis of her recent landslide re-election win and her management of “one of the world's best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.” She is also credited with overseeing an economic recovery that has boosted Taiwan's stock exchange to record heights. The central bank last week revised its 2020 growth target up to 1.6%, making it an outlier among global peers as most major economies shrink. Still, she has a major problem: The Communist Party is threatening her life, with its Global Times newspaper saying over the weekend she would be “wiped out” in a war if she violated China's anti-secession law. The warning in a tweet Saturday described her dinner with Keith Krach, the most senior U.S. State Department official to visit Taiwan since 1979, as “playing with fire.” People's Liberation Army aircraft last week repeatedly breached the median line between Taiwan and China and the PLA Air Force released a video showing H-6 bombers making a simulated strike on what looked like a U.S. military base on the nearby island of Guam. Bloomberg notes that while China's military dwarfs that of Taiwan, an amphibious invasion across the 100-mile-wide strait separating the two “could easily backfire on the world's number-two economy.” Not only do “many observers” think the U.S. would come to Taiwan's aid if China were to launch an attack but Tsai's government is actively taking steps to increase economic ties between the unofficial allies to provide more incentives for American policy makers to intervene. “If we lessen our economic reliance on China, it won't be able to politically blackmail us,” Kolas Yotaka, presidential office spokeswoman, told Bloomberg. “By establishing closer economic ties with other countries, we'll be able to uphold regional peace through shared prosperity.” Right now, he said, the economic relationship is heavily tilted toward Beijing. Exports to China accounted for 42.3% of Taiwan's total in the first half of this year with only 1.5% going to the U.S. during the same period. Taiwanese investment in China in the first eight months of this year was up 50% year on year, totaling $3.9 billion, according to Taiwan's economic ministry. Tsai's government, however, has sought to reverse those trends in particular by encouraging companies to bring their tech supply chains out of China to Taiwan and places like Southeast Asia. In late August, she also lifted a ban on certain U.S. pork and beef products—the major obstacle to a trade agreement with the U.S.. “We must accelerate our linkage to economies around the world, in particular strengthening our ties with our most steadfast partner,” Tsai said at the time. Through July, American government data show Taiwan as its ninth-largest trade partner, up from eleventh last year. The Krach visit marked another milestone in that effort. Tsai hosted a dinner Friday night for him that also included Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the main chipmaker for Apple Inc. The presence of Chang, whose company recently announced it would build a $12 billion facility in Arizona, highlighted the importance of Taiwan's cutting-edge semiconductor industry, which the U.S. is looking to wall off from Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. On Sunday, Taiwan's economic minister, Wang Mei-hua, announced she had met with Krach's delegation for talks to prepare for a formal economic dialogue. Any serious discussions would be helmed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the phase-one deal with China signed earlier this year, Bloomberg said. While it's unclear if Taiwan is on the USTR's list of priorities, any agreement would go a long way toward bringing Taiwan out of its diplomatic isolation, according to Tiffany Ma, senior director at Bower Group Asia. A bilateral trade agreement “would further benefit Taiwan's security by giving momentum — and political cover — for other countries to pursue similar arrangements with Taiwan,” she said. The U.S. formally cut ties with Taiwan's government in 1979 in order to establish relations with Beijing. Four decades later, however, U.S. ties with China are getting worse by the day while trade and official exchanges with Taiwan are on the rise. Despite the military saber-rattling over the weekend, China doesn't appear ready to give up on economic engagement with Taiwan. Wang Yang, the Communist Party's No. 4 official, on Saturday pledged to “further improve policy measures and arrangements” that benefit Taiwanese people. “We need to have a longer-term vision,” said Liu Guoshen, director of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, which sits across the strait. Even so, China's recent military maneuvers near Taiwan signal that it is watching carefully and possibly willing to escalate. Not only has the Communist Party never ruled Taiwan but polls show the vast majority of Taiwanese citizens don't want it to. Now, President Xi Jinping has vowed to take it by force if necessary. “Beijing fears a slippery slope,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It worries that the U.S. has abandoned its one-China policy and won't respect China's red lines.” So, we will see. These are extremely uncertain times for the U.S. and for much of the globe — trends producers should watch closely as the debates and fights intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


Commerce Rescinds Review of Antidumping Duties On Indonesian Biodiesel The Commerce Department is rescinding its administrative review of antidumping duties on Indonesian biodiesel for the period of review April 1, 2019-March 31, 2020 at the request of the National Biodiesel Fair Trade Coalition. The Commerce Department had received a petition from the group for an administrative review on five Indonesian biodiesel producers and/or exporters, but on September 1, the group withdrew its request

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Signup Starts With USDA Funding in Limbo Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) started Monday and runs through December 11. USDA expects that when payment limits are taken into account, payouts under the $14 billion program should total $13.2 billion. USDA is expected to release a payment calculator soon that would help producers figure their benefits under the program. But the program enrollment began as Congress continues to work on a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government through December 11. Included in an agreement reached between Republicans and Democrats in the House Friday was a replenishment of the borrowing authority for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). In exchange for supporting the CCC replenishment, there was agreement to continue a nutrition program created during the pandemic to provide school lunches to children. However, as of Monday, the CCC and school lunch provisions were stricken from the bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday is the first official day of autumn, but grain prices may be in no mood to celebrate after Monday's broad-based selling. A report on U.S. existing home sales is due out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by USDA's monthly cold storage report at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather forecasts for the U.S. and South America will be looked at as will any trade news that develops. Weather Central crop areas will be dry Tuesday, offering favorable conditions for row crop harvest and winter wheat planting. Tropical Storm Beta will bring moderate to heavy rain into portions of the Delta, southeastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


USDA Announced Second Round of CFAP Details President Trump and Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced an additional $14 billion in aid for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruption and costs associated with COVID-19. The producer signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) at the USDA Farm Service Agency’s county offices starts on September 21 and runs through December 11. In a news release, the Ag Secretary says, “America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Perdue notes that the agency “listened to feedback” from farmers, ranchers, and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s farms and ranches, and they developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted. USDA will use the funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture, and many additional commodities. The Hagstrom Report says Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee Chair John Hoeven of North Dakota said he’d talked about the program this week with Perdue and Budget Director Russ Vought, who had to approve the assistance. “Our producers don’t quit,” Hoeven says, “and Congress must match their resolve with measures to help them through a difficult time.” *****************************************t***************************************************** Agriculture Groups React to CFAP 2 Ag groups reacted positively to the USDA’s announcement that additional support is coming for farmers and ranchers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association VP of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, “We’re pleased to see that USDA is using unspent funds in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to provide further relief to cattle producers during COVID-19. Many producers are still reeling from disruptions brought on by the pandemic.” Assistance during the first round of CFAP only covered losses through April 15. “We don’t know when the pandemic will end and are still feeling the effects of trade imbalances and severe weather,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “This lifeline will keep farmers and ranchers afloat as they continue to keep American pantries stocked with food.” National Farmers Union is grateful for the assistance but is concerned about the distribution method. “The first round of funding was greatly appreciated, but not without its flaws,” says NFU President Rob Larew. “Not only did it favor large farmers over smaller ones, but it also sent millions of dollars to foreign-owned operations while excluding some farmers entirely.” The NFU is asking USDA to rectify those issues and make sure payments go to those who need it most. ********************************************************************************************** EPA Finalizes Interim Rules on Atrazine Use by Farmers Atrazine is a widely used herbicide that farmers can apply before and after planting to control broadleaf and grassy weeds. It’s used primarily on corn, sorghum, and sugarcane, and to a lesser extent on residential lawns and golf courses. The Environmental Protection Agency released the Interim Registration Review Decision for atrazine, as well as propazine and simazine. With the rule, EPA finalized mitigation measures to protect human health, mitigate potential ecological risks, and provided farmers with the valuable tools they rely on to control weeds in their crops. “Today’s decision is another example of the administration taking action to support America’s farmers, one of the strongest allies in our mission to protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler during a roundtable discussion in Missouri on Friday. “The benefits of atrazine in agriculture are high, so these new protections give our nation’s farmers more clarity and certainty concerning proper use.” EPA did a thorough review of the best available science and carefully considered scientific peer review and public comments to determine which mitigation measures are warranted for the three herbicides to properly address human health and ecological risk. ********************************************************************************************** USDA’S Censky Returning to ASA After serving as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture since 2017, the man who led the American Soybean Association for 21 years is returning to familiar territory. Stephen Censky is leaving USDA to return to the helm of the grower group as Chief Executive Officer. Censky will officially join ASA on November 9 and resumes his post after the departure of Ryan Findlay, who’s credited with helping the organization restructure internally and establish an independent government affairs office in Washington, D.C. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “There is no doubt that I personally, as well as the whole USDA family, will miss Steve’s experience, preparedness, and steady leadership. During his tenure, we accomplished a great deal in a short time, even in the face of serious challenges in American agriculture.” He adds that Censky’s roots are in agriculture and he’s one of the best and most professional public servants America has. Censky says, “It’s a privilege to return to ASA and represent our nation’s soybean growers. ASA is in many ways home, and I’m excited about working with both new and familiar faces in St. Louis and D.C. and building on the great changes made since I was last there.” ********************************************************************************************** Negative Reaction to Trump’s Refinery Bailout Plan Lawmakers from both sides of the political fence spoke out against the idea of using USDA funds to bail out refiners that are denied exemptions from the nation’s biofuel blending laws. Reuters issued a report saying the administration is considering up to $300 million in financial relief to refiners who are denied waivers from the Renewable Fuels Standard, which requires them to blend biofuels into their fuel or to purchase credits for the 2019 compliance year. Five anonymous sources said the funds could come from within the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation. The idea isn’t sitting well with lawmakers because those funds are supposed to assist farmers and not the oil industry. Ranking Senate Ag Committee member Debbie Stabenow called the idea “outrageous” during comments on the Senate floor. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who sits on the other side of the political fence from Stabenow, says the USDA funds were meant for struggling farmers. “It’s not a surprise that Big Oil is looking elsewhere for government handouts,” a Grassley spokesman says. Refinery groups say the administration should instead focus on making the cost of the Renewable Fuels Standard less burdensome on refiners. ********************************************************************************************** Grassley, Ernst Ask for Additional USDA Support for Iowa Farmers Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, are asking the USDA to take action to provide Iowa farmers with additional support and relief. Iowa farmers are continuing to rebuild their livelihoods after a derecho storm system and drought impacted different parts of the state. Grassley and Ernst are asking Secretary Perdue to provide further assistance to farmers and producers in the aftermath of the derecho, including a deadline extension for crop insurance premium due dates. They’re also asking for a streamlined application process to replace grain bins damaged from the storm and ensuring future USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments are issued for base acres, not harvested acres. While visiting Iowa, Secretary Perdue announced his approval of Governor Kim Reynolds’ request for a Secretarial Disaster Designation for 18 counties impacted by the storm, which allowed producers to access USDA disaster programs and Farm Service Agency loans. The senators also sent a letter asking the Secretary of Commerce to lift Section 232 tariffs on steel that add millions to the costs for Iowa’s recovery, especially for farmers needing to replace machine sheds and grain bins.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Regarding the US-China Trade War While much of the debate in Washington has quickly turned to the Supreme Court and efforts to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Bloomberg has raised a different concern — it says that after four years of “relentless” effort by the President to push back against China, questions remain about that policy's effectiveness. It calls efforts to ban new downloads of WeChat — China's ubiquitous messaging and payments app — and the wildly popular video-sharing app TikTok — as merely diversions. The report goes further — it says that “the final scorecard is already in: On just about every metric that matters, China is ahead.” The article lists several details. It considers the trade balance and notes that the president “seems to regard that as “the most important measure of success” in its effort to get China to play by global trading rules. It says that metric “has grown almost 25% since the start of the administration's tariff war and cites Jim McCormick of NatWest Markets. Also, China is nowhere near on track to meet its target of increasing imports from the U.S. under the current partial deal the signal accomplishment of the administration's “tariff tit-for-tat.” Bloomberg then considers China's powerfully resurgent GDP, the result of its vastly more effective response to the pandemic that began there. China, McCormick notes, is the only country among 48 to have reported a second-quarter GDP number that was higher than at the end of 2019. In the U.S., the worst country when it comes to the coronavirus (as measured by death and infections), the economy shrank 9.5% in the second quarter, a drop that equals an annualized pace of 32.9% — its sharpest downturn since at least the 1940s, Bloomberg says. And now the Chinese currency is surging, the report says. It climbed for the eighth week in a row, its longest run of gains since February 2018. Global bond funds are pouring into the country — ones that still offers yields. Meanwhile, the dollar is slumping. Behind these headline numbers Bloomberg also sees “deeper industrial trends, which again work in China's favor, helping it pick up global market share in the aftermath of COVID-19 lockdowns.” Increasingly, China is supplying the kind of sophisticated machinery that German manufacturers once dominated, like high-end tunnel borers and hydraulic valves and pumps used in wind turbines. “It's only a matter of time until Chinese firms are No. 1,” Ulrich Ackermann, managing director for foreign trade at Germany's VDMA Mechanical Engineering Industry Association told Bloomberg. So, Bloomberg asserts that the administration's assaults on WeChat and TikTok are “distractions” and argues that there are “better ways to mitigate the national security risk Chinese companies may pose” by gaining access to U.S. personal data. In any case, lashing out at Chinese tech companies will only slow, not derail, Beijing's efforts to dominate the 21st century economy, the report says. As an example, it describes the race to develop batteries, a key to the future of transport, defense and other industries. By 2025, China will have battery facilities with maximum production capacity of about 1.1 terawatt-hours' worth of cells annually, almost double the rest of the world combined. The White House response? So far, only inertia, Cathy Zoi, chief executive officer of charging-network operator EVgo who was an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy under President Barack Obama, says. The report argues that the “net result” of administration efforts to decouple the U.S. and Chinese economies is to push China even further toward self-sufficiency, a strategy set to be enshrined in China's new five-year plan at a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee next month. This new economic direction is described by the official phrase “dual circulation,” an ambiguous reference to the outward and inward drivers of the Chinese economy. The report argues that China “looks set to make a drive to reduce dependence on imports, particularly of high-end manufacturing equipment and inputs,” writes economist Alicia Garcia-Herrero. “Dual circulation,” she said, is import-substitution by another name. The report also argues that the Democratic political contender's ideas, no less than the administration's, would grapple with a China set on global domination of 21st century industries by deploying old-fashioned mercantilism, among other retrograde trade policies. It asks, “how could it do better?” Robert Zoellick, the former U.S. trade representative and World Bank head has this advice for the former U.S. vice president, should he win in November: “Foreign policy should start at home,” focusing on domestic issues like public health, immigration and inclusive economic growth will both signal U.S. leadership and appeal to allies, Zoellick wrote in Foreign Affairs. He sees that as a “new base of cooperation,” and thinks that “the U.S. and its partners will be better positioned to address two overarching challenges: the future of free societies and competition with China.” So, we will see. While there are wide disagreements regarding many of the current indicators, certainly the continuing competition with China will be fierce and likely will persist. How well Bloomberg has captured the current “state of play” as well as the future prospects remains to be seen, but certainly should be watched closely by producers as these trends intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


USDA Approves Contracts Under Third Round Of Food Box Effort USDA approved another $1 billion in food box contracts for a third round of deliveries through the end of October. The department says it has taken steps to fix shortfalls in the relief program that drew criticism from lawmakers and some food banks in recent months. The third round of contracts are under the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA said the combination boxes of fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products “will be distributed to every county in America.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


NPPC Focusing On Next Farmer Aid, Help For Euthanized Livestock The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is focusing on the coming second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) help (see previous item) and are urging Congress to provide USDA the authority to use the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to provide financial help to livestock producers have had to euthanize livestock due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group wants no limits on the CFAP 2 effort, but USDA will still impose pay caps on the funds. The group also wants more funding to boost the number of U.S. inspectors at U.S. borders, citing the appearance of African swine fever (ASF) in Germany as a key reason more inspectors are needed as they are the “first line of defense,” officials with the group told reporters in a call Thursday. The group is working to try and get the inspector funding in the coming continuing resolution to keep the government funded past September 30, but officials were uncertain whether such funding could be added to the plan.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from another weekend, traders will brush up on the latest weather forecasts for the U.S. and South America and watch for any new export sales. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Row crop harvest progress and winter wheat planting progress will be the report's highlights at 3 p.m. Weather Dry conditions will dominate the primary crop areas Monday, offering favorable harvest and winter wheat planting conditions. Rain will focus on the lower Delta and Gulf Coastal Bend due to Tropical Storm Beta with flooding and storm surge threat. The Australia 30-day Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) value remains in weak La Nina category at positive 9.01.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


Oil Refinery Help Could Come From USDA The Trump Administration is considering the possibility of at least $300 million in cash aid for U.S. oil refiners, who’ve been denied exemptions under the Renewable Fuels Standard. Two sources told Reuters that while the administration hasn’t yet ruled on 2019 waiver requests, officials have estimated the amount of money it would provide in aid based on the number of facilities that applied for the exemptions but might now be ineligible because of a recent court ruling. The Environmental Protection Agency, which has the final say on RFS waivers, didn’t immediately comment on the announcement. Several sources say that financial relief could come from funds within the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation but didn’t know exactly when the aid would be distributed. A spokesman for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers’ Association says the industry doesn’t support the idea of aid. “If the administration truly wants to make things right with refiners, they need to prioritize making the RFS less expensive so it’s not a threat to good manufacturing jobs,” the spokesman adds. The administration had recently quadrupled exemptions for refiners, angering biofuel producers and farmers who say the waivers dent demand for their products. *****************************************t***************************************************** NCBA Pleased with Attempts to Modernize Endangered Species Act The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council are pleased with the introduction of legislation attempting to modernize the Endangered Species Act. It’s the first attempt to update the act in almost 30 years. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, Chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, introduced the legislation. He says the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020 will improve the existing law by strengthening state and local partnerships, as well as incentivize voluntary conservation efforts undertaken by ranchers and other landowners. It will also defend the ESA’s delisting process for animals that have successfully recovered and no longer need protection. Through these changes and with targeted increases for specific areas of the ESA, the bill will improve species conservation and address key failures in the Act. “The legislation is about improving an outdated law so that it meets current needs,” says NCBA President Marty Smith. “It’s about helping every American cattle producer that has lost a calf to a federally-protected bear or wolf, and for landowners who face stringent regulation that doesn’t meet the habitat needs on the ground.” ********************************************************************************************** Iowa Senators Want Investigation into Post-Derecho Price Gouging Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley and fellow Iowa Senator Joni Ernst are asking the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate price gouging in the state. The Hagstrom Report says the senators accuse some companies of overcharging for the equipment and materials Iowans for them to make repairs after the derecho storm system. Grassley and Ernst co-authored letters to both agencies that say, “We have heard concerns about possible price gouging of necessary goods and services, as well as scams targeting victims of the derecho.” They say Iowans, especially farmers, have told them they face prohibitive costs in acquiring the materials and equipment they need to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. “The costs for farmers to remove, repair, or replace grain bins alone will total hundreds of millions of dollars,” the letter says. “We will not let scammers and price gougers use this tragedy to raise prices to sky-high levels and thwart Iowa’s population from repairing and rebuilding their homes, businesses, and communities.” Grassley and Ernst tell both agencies that it’s imperative that they investigate allegations of wrongdoing, fraud, and price gouging related to the Iowa derecho, and aggressively pursue the individuals who engage in these illegal activities. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Lists Available Disaster Relief Help for Cattle Producers The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association put together a list of federal programs that are available to help cattle producers across the country who are being impacted by wildfires and hurricanes. The association also put together a list of ways those who aren’t affected by the challenges can help those producers directly hit by natural disasters. “The wildfire and hurricanes that have plagued the country these last few weeks are significant disasters that are hurting cattle producers in multiple ways,” says NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. “From flooded operations, burning rangeland, smoke inhalation, and many more challenges, this is a trying time for producers. Everyone needs to take a close look at the resources available to help give relief to producers, their families, and their animals.” Woodall adds that their biggest concern is for the well-being of everyone in the path of these disasters. “Know your evacuation routes and exercise extreme caution when dealing with these deadly forces of nature.” Ranchers and farmers are urged to utilize the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) if it applies to them. NCBA has set up a web page that aggregates all disaster relief information in one place, which also includes donation information for those who wish to help. ********************************************************************************************** Roberts Says Farm Bill Future Depends on CCC Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts took part in a discussion on the Senate floor this week about the replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation. The Kansas Republican points out that failure to do so would not only hurt already-struggling farmers, ranchers, and growers, it would jeopardize the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill programs. Senators from North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Mississippi took part in the discussion. “The 2018 Farm Bill provides essential programs to producers that allow them to mitigate some of the risks that are outside of their control,” Roberts says. “Many of the programs are implemented through the authority and the annual funding Congress provided to the CCC.” Roberts stresses to his colleagues that now is not the time for political gamesmanship. “If Congress doesn’t replenish the CCC, it could significantly harm or even halt these important programs,” Roberts adds. “Farmers, ranchers, and others in farm country are counting on us to do our job.” The senator added that even during COVID-19, U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to hold up their end of the bargain by producing crops for the world’s safest and most affordable food supply. ************************************************************************************ Vegan Food Company Sues Oklahoma Over Product Label Law Oklahoma has a new law governing labeling for some vegan products. A vegan company doesn’t like that and has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of western Oklahoma. The suit was filed by Upton’s Naturals Company, an Illinois-based business that sells plant-based foods, and the Plant-Based Foods Association, a group with 170 members. The Tulsa World says the suit seeks a preliminary injunction preventing House Bill 3806 from taking effect, a permanent injunction, as well as attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses. The suit specifically alleges that Oklahoma lawmakers passed the measure to protect the state’s meat-industry groups from the competition brought by plant-based food makers. The law was supported by the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association. It does permit companies to use words like meat, beef, and bacon on their labels. However, they also need to include a disclaimer that the products were derived from plant-based sources “in type that’s the same size and prominence to the name of the product.” Plaintiffs say prohibiting the use of meat-based terms without the disclaimer creates confusion among consumers, and that the law would “fail any level of First Amendment scrutiny.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fed Warning as Relief Package Fight Heats Up The Hill is reporting this week that Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned that a “lack of further fiscal support from Congress could scar and damage the U.S. economy.” During a Wednesday press conference, Powell expressed optimism that Democrats and Republicans “would find a path forward on another coronavirus relief bill despite a weeks-long stalemate between negotiators.” “There does seem to be an appetite on the part of all the relevant players to doing something. The question is how much and when,” Powell said. But he added that the Fed's improving outlook for the U.S. economy depends on lawmakers and the White House bridging deep divides over the scale and scope of another package. “If there's no follow-up on that, if there isn't additional support and there isn't a job for some of those people who are from industries where it's going to be very hard to find new work,” Powell said, “that will start to show up in economic activity. It'll also show up in things like evictions and foreclosures and things that will scar and damage the economy.” Powell's latest plea for more fiscal support came after the Fed announced in its last policy meeting before the November election that it would hold rates steady near zero percent. Officials do not expect the bank to hike rates again until 2022 at the absolute earliest, but 13 of the 17 Fed board members and reserve bank presidents do not expect a rate hike through the end of 2023, according to projections released Wednesday. Fed officials also upgraded their forecasts for the economy after the unemployment rate declined to a “surprisingly strong 8.4% in August.” They now expect the unemployment rate to decline to a median of 7.6% by the end of the year, well below the 9.3% median projected in June. Powell cautioned that those projections were based on the assumption that Congress would approve another fiscal aid package to extend enhanced unemployment benefits that expired on July 31, boost struggling state and local governments with further aid, and provide financial support to avoid evictions. That bet may not be safe given the persistent impasse since early August between Democrats and Republicans over another fiscal package, The Hill said. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., a member of GOP leadership, said Thursday that a deal in the range of $1.5 trillion — a middle ground between current Democratic and Republican offers — would likely lead to “heartburn” among Republicans on Capitol Hill. “If the number gets too high, anything that got passed in the Senate will be passed mostly with Democrat votes and a handful of Republicans,” he told reporters. “So it's going to have to stay in a sort of realistic range if we want to maximize, optimize the number of Republican senators that will vote for it.” Thune's comments came after President Trump encouraged Republicans in a Wednesday tweet to aim for a larger package, a request quickly touted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “We are encouraged that after months of the Senate Republicans insisting on shortchanging the massive needs of the American people, President Trump is now calling on Republicans to 'go for the much higher numbers' in the next coronavirus relief package,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement after Trump's tweet. The deadlock has persisted despite signs that the recovery from the coronavirus recession is slowing. Roughly 11.5 million Americans have not yet found work after losing their jobs earlier this year. The number of new jobs added by the U.S. economy has slowed for two consecutive months. A crucial step to stem those declines, Powell said, is for Congress and the White House to reach an agreement on COVID-19 relief, though he did not specify a preferred price tag for such a deal or what provisions it should include. “I think the real question is when and how much, what will be the contents,” Powell said of a deal to speed up the recovery. “And, you know, no one has any certainty around that. But broadly speaking, if we don't get that, then there would certainly be downside risks,” he added. Meanwhile, the administration pulled $700 million from the CDC to fund the Operation Warp Speed effort to develop drugs and vaccines, according to people familiar with the matter. The money came from funds Congress appropriated to the CDC in stimulus legislation earlier this year, according to staff members who asked not to be named because the matter isn't public. So, we will see. The fight over the next virus subsidy is real, bitter and certainly will be difficult to resolve in spite of administration intercession — a battle producers should watch as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Details Likely To Come Soon The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) finished its review of the final plan from USDA for another Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) effort Wednesday (September 16). And President Donald Trump announced the aid, totaling around $13 billion, in Wisconsin on Thursday night. That should mean details of the plan will come Friday from USDA. The CFAP 2 effort is expected to focus on addressing impacts to the sector that have been seen since April 15, the date that the initial CFAP effort targeted. Payouts under the initial CFAP effort have totaled just under $10 billion, shy of the $16 billion the agency targeted for the effort and signup for the initial effort closed September 11.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


China State Planner Keeps Low-Tariff TRQs on Grains, Cotton Steady The tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for wheat, rice, corn and cotton for 2021 will be at the same levels as were in place for 2020 — 7.2 million metric tons (mmt) for corn, 9.636 mmt for wheat, 5.32 mmt for rice and 894,000 metric tons for cotton. However, China has taken actions publicly for cotton to bring in more cotton than their announced 2020 TRQ levels, announcing a 400,000 metric ton import quota for processing. USDA signaled after the release of its WASDE report Friday that their forecast of corn imports by China at 7 mmt reflected the announced TRQ level for corn even though export commitments for corn were at more than the TRQ level of 7.2 mmt. The TRQs announced by China are on a calendar year while the WASDE forecasts are on a marketing-year basis. But USDA in February, after the Phase One agreement was announced, indicated they would track export sales of commodities covered by the agreement. But the comment from the Office of the Chief Economist indicating that there had not been a policy announcement from China relative to increasing the TRQ for corn indicates the agency does not appear to be sticking with their February stance that export sales would be a key factor relative to USDA's forecasts of China's purchases. Reuters reported that while the TRQs would not be changed, they quoted a source as indicating that there could be a “special” permit for extra imports, a situation which would match what China has done on cotton.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday's only official report is the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, set for 9 a.m. CDT. Exports sales remain closely watched as do the latest weather forecasts for the U.S. and South America. Federal Reserve officials continue to share their views in public talks after the Fed said Wednesday it was committed to keeping interest rates near zero. Weather Another day of dry and mild conditions is in store for all major crop areas Friday. This pattern remains favorable for row crop ripening and harvest along with winter wheat planting. Tropical Depression Twenty-Two in the western Gulf of Mexico will be monitored for possible impact on the south Texas coast. Meanwhile, wildfire danger and smoke issues remain in effect throughout the West

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


USDA Streamlining Whole Farm Revenue Protection The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced changes to streamline the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program. The modifications, USDA says, will decrease paperwork and recordkeeping burdens for direct marketers beginning with the 2021 crop year. Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre says, “These changes will allow more direct marketers who previously could not meet reporting requirements a way to participate in the Whole-Farm program.” RMA held several stakeholder meetings with agents, growers and grower groups to solicit feedback on ways to increase the effectiveness of the program, as required by the 2018 farm bill. Stakeholders recommended RMA decrease the requirements for reporting yield and revenues for each commodity, which is especially difficult for direct marketers who may sell several commodities through a roadside stand. The newly implemented modifications allow growers to report two or more direct-marketed commodities as a combined single commodity code with a combined expected revenue for all commodities. Additionally, the combined direct-marketed commodities will count as two commodities in calculating the diversification premium discount. ************************************************************************************ House Expected to Pass Peterson Led SRE Provisions The House Committee on Energy and Commerce this week released legislation containing provisions to provide transparency into the Environmental Protection Agency’s granting of small refinery exemptions. The provisions stem from legislation by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat. The Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act would set an annual deadline for refiners to request exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard and require EPA to publicly release the name of refiners requesting a waiver, the number of gallons requested to be waived and the number of gallons of biofuel that will not be blended as a result of the waiver. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the National Farmers Union this week that she expects the House to pass the legislation, possibly next week. The National Corn Growers Association says providing more transparency to EPA’s waiver process will give farmers, biofuel producers and the public a clearer understanding of EPA’s justification for approving these harmful waivers. ************************************************************************************ AFBF Supports Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act The American Farm Bureau Federation wants Congress to give federal land management agencies additional tools and resources to prevent and recover from catastrophic wildfires. AFBF and 13 state Farm Bureaus sent a letter Wednesday to Senate leadership supporting the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020. AFBF says the bipartisan legislation will expedite forest management, accelerate post-fire restoration and reforestation, and remove dead and dangerous wood from national forests. AFBF says the importance of the legislation is demonstrated by the six million acres of forest land currently burning in the western United States. Since the beginning of 2020, in California alone, wildfires have burned more than three million acres and destroyed 4,200 structures. The letter states, “Backlogs in adequate management coupled with drier, hotter conditions, have resulted in unhealthy, overly dense forests.” While the legislation will help mitigate future fires, Farm Bureau says it will not address the immediate needs of farmers and ranchers suffering devastating losses from fires burning right now. ************************************************************************************ China, EU Sign Agreement Protecting Geographic Indicators The European Union and China this week signed a bilateral agreement to protect Geographical Indications. The agreement protects 100 EU geographical indicators, along with 100 Chinese indicators. The agreement, first concluded in November 2019, should bring reciprocal trade benefits as well as introducing consumers to guaranteed, quality products on both sides, according to the EU. An EU agriculture official says, "European Geographical Indications products are renowned for their quality and diversity," adding, "it is important to protect them." Following the signature of the agreement and the European Parliament's consent, it will officially be adopted. The agreement is expected to enter into force at the beginning of 2021. Within four years after its entry into force, the scope of the agreement will expand to cover additional 175 Geographic Indicator names from both sides. EU-China cooperation on the matter started in 2006 and resulted in the protection of ten Geographical Indication names on both sides in 2012. ************************************************************************************ Farm Futures Releases 2021 Planting Intentions Survey An August 2020 survey conducted by Farm Futures found farmers across the country are eager to plant more soybeans in 2021. Survey respondents reported a slight decline in corn acreage in favor of soybeans for next year's crop as a recent uptick in soybean demand sparked a rally. Farm Futures respondents indicated planting 0.3 percent fewer corn acres in 2021/22 after demand destruction eroded 440 million bushels from the 2019/20 demand pipeline. While 2020/21 corn planting progress was largely underway when the pandemic caused corn demand to evaporate, farmers now have over six months of pandemic experience under their belts. The recent run-up in soybean prices has made U.S. soy acreage a hot prospect in the commodity markets. Farm Futures respondents projected planting nearly 4.1 million more acres of soybeans in 2021 compared to 2020, totaling 87.9 million acres. If realized, 2021 soybean acreage will be the third-highest planted soy acreage on record. ************************************************************************************ 2021 World Ag Expo Cancelled Organizers of the 2021 World Ag Expo announced the cancelation of the event earlier this week. Jerry Sinift, International Agri-Center CEO, says, "it has become evident that given health and safety restrictions from the State of California, holding a live, international event is not responsible in February.” Organizers say the decision follows months of research and evaluation of future trends and known constraints. The decision was finalized earlier than the initial November deadline to provide exhibitors, attendees and local businesses time to adjust their farm show plans. The cancellation of World Ag Expo comes as another negative effect of COVID-19 for the International Agri-Center, exhibitors, non-profit food vendors, attendees, area hotels, restaurants, and other associated businesses. The International Agri-Center is home to World Ag Expo in Tulare (Too-larry), California. An estimated annual average of 100,000 individuals from 65 countries attend World Ag Expo each year. The 2022 World Ag Expo is scheduled for February 8-10 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, California.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


Washington Insider: WTO Says Some US Tariffs are Illegal The New York Times and other news organizations are reporting this week that a World Trade Organization panel found Tuesday that the U.S. violated its rules by imposing tariffs on China in 2018. The Times said the finding drew an “angry response from the administration.” The WTO panel of trade experts sided with a complaint that China had filed, which argued that the administration's tariffs violated several global rules, “including a provision that requires all WTO members to offer equal tariff rates” among the body's trading partners. The Trump administration broke with that tradition. During its trade war with China, the U.S. imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion worth of Chinese products in an effort to force China to better protect foreign intellectual property — and to change other policies that the U.S. administration claimed put American workers at a disadvantage. The administration drew on an American legal provision — called Section 301 — to impose the tariffs, which allows the president to restrict “foreign commerce that unfairly burdens the United States.” The effect of the ruling remains unclear, the Times said. The United States and China signed a trade deal in January, but the bulk of the tariffs imposed by the U.S. administration remain in place covering more than half of China's exports to the United States. Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative, blasted the WTO for trying to prevent the United States from helping its own workers. “This panel report confirms what the Trump administration has been saying for four years: The WTO is completely inadequate to stop China's harmful technology practices,” Lighthizer said. “Although the panel did not dispute the extensive evidence submitted by the United States of intellectual property theft by China, its decision shows that the WTO provides no remedy for such misconduct.” “The United States must be allowed to defend itself against unfair trade practices and the Trump administration will not let China use the WTO to take advantage of American workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers,” he added. The United States has 60 days to respond to the decision. But the ruling may have little practical effect, since the United States has effectively crippled the WTO panel responsible for handling appeals of trade disputes by refusing to appoint new members to it, the Times said. If the United States chooses to fight the organization's latest decision, the case will end up in a kind of legal limbo, with no resolution in sight. The report noted that if the panel had enough members to function and its members upheld the ruling, the WTO could authorize China to retaliate if the U.S. did not change its policies – or if the U.S. and China could not agree to some other form of compensation. “Before the Trump administration came along and decimated the WTO appellate body, a case like this would be appealed,” said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. But Bown said the retaliation issue is “largely moot anyway,” since China responded to America's tariffs with its own levies beginning in July 2018. China did not have WTO permission to retaliate against the United States so they, too, were arguably a violation of global trade rules. The administration has continued to play an active role in the WTO although many of its biggest trade offensives over the past three years have bypassed the formal organization rules. While other countries have criticized the United States for weakening the global trading system, the administration argues that the WTO is largely ineffective and badly in need of overhaul, in part because of its failure to police China's unfair trade practices. So, we will see. There is broad suspicion regarding the WTO on both sides of the U.S. political aisle because it promotes policies that are accused of undercutting “national sovereignty.” And, by working to promote “equitable trade,” the organization's policies can increase competitive pressures from overseas producers. Still, a rules-based international trading system is highly valued by many who believe that tariff-based approaches significantly raise prices for consumers and have, in the past, sharply amplified international tensions. Clearly, trade policy debates are vitally important to producers and should be watched closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


House Ag Panel Chair Peterson Discusses Focus On Farm Policy Ahead House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., told members of the National Farmers Union (NFU) that he favors giving USDA the authority to use Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funds to address issues with compensating livestock producers for animals that are euthanized for reasons other than a disease outbreak. “The pork producers are too efficient,” Peterson said. “They were so efficient that everything had to fall in place for everything to work out OK. When the plants shut down, everything backed up, especially in my district.” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said he could not address the problems in the pork plants because he only had authority to deal with animals that are sick. Peterson said he wants to provide USDA authority to deal with disaster situations whether it is a human pandemic, African swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease or another round of avian influenza. Peterson faulted Trump administration efforts on the Market Facilitation Programs (MFP 1 and 2) and Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 1), saying they “were basically done without much consultation” with Congress. Relative to CFAP, he cited issues with the period of covered losses and the lack of coverage of some crops as issues with the program and linked them to a failure to work closely with Congress.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


Ag Groups Pushing Lawmakers On CCC Borrowing Authority In FY 2021 The issue of borrowing authority for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) looms in the process of putting a stop-gap spending plan in place. Coalition letter to congressional leaders pushes CCC funding. The American Farm Bureau Federation and more than 40 other agriculture organizations are asking Congress to ensure USDA has the tools necessary to help farmers in times of crisis. The group sent a letter to House and Senate leaders requesting they immediately provide replenishment for CCC via the continuing resolution. Without immediate replenishment, funding for farm bill programs could run out while farmers struggle against low commodity prices, natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic, the groups said. The AFBF separately said that USDA does not likely have the resources needed to meet obligations for conservation and commodity program payments along with another round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Some reports indicate that there are lawmakers pushing back on CCC borrowing authority replenishment, citing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the two Market Facilitation Program (MFP) efforts.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets 7:30 a.m. CDT reports on Thursday include USDA's weekly export sales, weekly jobless claims, August housing starts and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Trade news and weather forecasts also remain closely watched with a view to activity from China. Weather Thursday will continue to be dry and mild in the primary central crop areas. Conditions will be favorable for row crop ripening and harvest and winter wheat planting. The Southeast will see additional rain from former Hurricane Sally. The western U.S. remains wildfire-prone with a dry and very warm to hot pattern. The Pacific Ocean Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) shows the building of La Nina with a 30-day moving average value of plus 10.0.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


WTO Rules Against U.S. Sanctions on China U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was unhappy with a World Trade Organization report that says U.S. actions to combat China’s widespread theft of American technology were inconsistent with WTO rules. Lighthizer says the WTO panel report confirms what the Trump Administration has been saying all along. “The WTO is completely inadequate to stop China’s harmful technology practices,” Lighthizer says. “Although the panel did not dispute the extensive evidence submitted by the U.S. regarding intellectual property theft by China, its decision shows that the WTO provides no remedy for such misconduct.” He says the U.S. must be allowed to defend itself against unfair trade practices, and the administration won’t let China use the WTO to take advantage of American workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers. The Ambassador adds that it’s important to note that the WTO report doesn’t have an effect on the Phase One Agreement between the U.S. and China, which includes enforceable commitments by China to prevent the theft of American technology. The report covers the $34 billion tariffs announced in June 2018, and the $200 billion trade action announced in September 2018. ********************************************************************************************** Asian Countries Ban German Pork; the U.S. to Benefit Japan, South Korea, and China have suspended imports of pork and live pigs from Germany, which reported its first case of African Swine Fever in a wild boar. The Pig Site Dot Com says the import bans will be a major economic hit to German producers and will also push pork prices to new highs around the world. That price increase will also hurt China, where meat supplies continue to tighten. China is the world’s largest meat buyer and Germany is its third-largest supplier. The supply interruption comes as China is grappling with its unprecedented pork shortage after its ASF outbreak. The Asian bans on German pork are expected to benefit other major exporters like the U.S., Spain, and Brazil. Joe Schuele (SHEE-lee), a spokesman for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, says the U.S. is “well-positioned” to ship more pork to China. Spain’s International Director of Trade says the country’s white pig sector is fully prepared to continue its growth trend in sales of safe and quality pork products to the Chinese market. Unlike other European countries, Spain hasn’t had to shut down any of its pork processing plants recently due to coronavirus outbreaks. ********************************************************************************************** CBB Approves 2021 Checkoff Plan The Cattlemen’s Beef Board will invest approximately $39,380,000 into programs designed for beef promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing, and producer communications during the Fiscal Year 2021. At the end of its September meeting, the Beef Promotion Operating Committee approved checkoff funding for a total of 13 “Authorization Requests,” also known as grant proposals, brought by nine contractors. Those nine contractors brought a total of more than $47,700,000 worth of funding requests to the BPOC, almost $8 million more than what’s available in the budget. “Producers drive all the decisions that the BPOC makes during these meetings,” says CBB and BPOC Chair Jared Brackett. “Cattlemen and women from across the country and importers carefully consider every proposal to determine where we should send these checkoff dollars.” With every decision they make, Brackett says the members’ main goal is to increase beef demand. The committee consists of ten producers from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and 10 producers from the Federation of State Beef Councils. ********************************************************************************************** Pork Industry Makes Gains in Sustainability A new study released by the National Pork Board shows that despite the challenges of 2020, America’s pig farmers continue to make strides in overall sustainability. The report looked at sow, nursery, finish, and wean-to-finish data over three years. The results reconfirmed long-term trends of increasing efficiency, which has the additional benefit of reducing production costs, especially good news after the economic challenges of 2020 have taken a toll. “One of the greatest benefits of this Pork Checkoff-funded study is the benchmarking ability it offers producers who always want to improve their efficiencies,” says Chris Hostetler, Animal Science Director for the National Pork Board. “It’s also a great way to show today’s consumers that America’s pig farms are getting more efficient all the time and that pork is a sustainable choice when it comes to choosing a protein.” Hostetler also says the goal of the study’s production analysis is to aid the pork industry in improving profitability, which has to be a part of the sustainability equation. “We hope producers will dig into the specific parts of the study and use it to help improve their own farm businesses,” he adds. “It’s all about getting a little better every day.” ********************************************************************************************** USDA Encouraging Ag Producers to Prepare for Hurricane Sally The USDA wants to remind communities, farmers, ranchers, families, and small businesses in the path of Hurricane Sally that they have programs standing by to help in the aftermath. USDA staff in regional, state, and county offices are ready to help deal with any destruction in the wake of the hurricane. The USDA partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other disaster-relief organizations to create the Disaster Resource Center. The website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster relief information and assistance. USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. The tool walks producers through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover from a natural disaster. Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths due to specific weather events, as well as disease or animal attacks, may qualify for help under the USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program. In the event of land damage, farmers and ranchers needing to help rehabilitate their farmland can apply for help through the Emergency Conservation Program. ************************************************************************************ USB CEO to Discuss Challenges, Positives to Women in Agribusiness Summit United Soybean Board CEO Polly Ruhland (ROO-land) will be one of several future-focused keynote speakers during the Women in Agribusiness Summit taking place virtually this week on September 16-18. She says there is no “sugarcoating” the first three quarters of 2020. “These past few months have been exhausting, confusing, heartbreaking, and frightening,” Ruhland says. “At the same time, when I look to the future of U.S. soy, the broader agriculture industry, and the society it supports, I find substantial reasons for optimism.” At the center of many upcoming opportunities for agriculture are the women in agribusiness playing key roles in shaping the future of the industry. “Women play an increasingly important role leading the growth and development of U.S. agriculture, and we should continue to be front and center in our efforts to strengthen farmers’ bonds with the general population,” Ruhland adds. “I’m incredibly proud to speak with the many women who will attend the WIA Summit who have stepped up to lead our industry to cultivate inclusivity and innovation.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


Washington Insider: USDA Payments Unfair, GAO Says Yet another dust-up is surrounding USDA's ag aid program — and that still another Government Accountability Office report has found wide differences among states and regions and crops in government aid. Senate Democrats told Bloomberg that the GAO's findings “confirm their long-standing complaints that the administration's $28 billion trade aid program was unfair to family farmers in the Midwest since farms in the South got higher average payments. Also, a large portion of the aid went to bigger farms. “It's just not been fair,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Secretary Perdue “certainly put together a program that favored the crops in his home state.” Rural voters are a key constituency for the Trump administration as the president heads into the November elections. Government aid has become an increasingly important source of income for farmers amid the financial stresses of the coronavrius pandemic, the trade war with China, a commodity glut and wild weather. The independent GAO investigation was requested by Senator Stabenow in February after she raised concerns about unfairness and mismanagement of the USDA Market Facilitation Program. Stabenow joined Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and producers to announce the report and discuss the findings. “From the start, I've been concerned that the Trump Administration's trade payments have picked winners and losers and left smaller farms behind,” said Senator Stabenow. “By favoring Southern farms but providing no help to our cherry growers, USDA has not treated Michigan farmers fairly. She called the uneven treatment a “pattern that we're continuing to see in USDA's COVID-19 relief program. And she called on the administration “to stop playing favorites and start helping the farms hit the hardest.” She also called the administration's trade policy with China. and its continued efforts to undercut the Renewable Fuel Standards “mismanaged” and argued that the “administration has betrayed the small farmers who need help the most.” She noted that eight of the top nine states with the highest payments per acre were in the South. The program paid farmers in Michigan an average of $54 per acre, compared to farmers in Georgia who received an average of $119 per acre, she said. Georgia leads the nation with average payments of $42,545 per farmer, more than double the average payment in Michigan of $15,367. The payments for certain crops like cotton, which is primarily grown in the South, far exceeded payment rates for others. Less than 10% of payments went to farms that produced specialty crops, dairy, or hogs. “Most Michigan specialty crop producers were not even eligible for direct assistance,” she said. In addition, she argued that large farms benefitted far more than smaller ones. USDA doubled the maximum payment from the current programs from the $125,000 per person the earlier program allowed to $250,000 per person this time around—a shift that directed more dollars to the largest farms and ignored smaller ones that were struggling. As a result, the top 1.3% of payment recipients received an additional $519 million. GAO also found that the top 25 farms received an average of $1.5 million per farm, whereas the average Michigan farmer received $15,367. She concluded that “instead of providing more support for the 9,852 largest farms, USDA could have targeted funding to the thousands of small and beginning farmers that are often more vulnerable to market swings.” Senator Stabenow's criticisms are not new and she notes that continuing analyses show continued bias in the program. “Kansas State University researchers agreed with these findings in an economic analysis of the distribution of trade assistance, finding that cotton payments were 33 times more than the estimated trade damage,” she said. A USDA spokesperson said the aid payments were “based on trade damage, not on regions or farm size.” A follow-up statement accused Senate Democrats of trying to twist the data. She says the “next installment of farm aid for COVID-19 relief should include congressional instructions on distribution rather than giving Perdue a “blank check.” USDA defended the portion of aid given to larger operations that “account for 10% of all farms, but operate 52% of total farmland and generate 79% of the total value of production. As a result, trade impacts on these farmers were relatively greater, so they received higher payments.” So, we will see. Certainly, as generation after generation of voters increasingly lose touch with their ag roots — if any — expensive programs to subsidize and protect agriculture are likely to become increasingly difficult to pass. These trends also appear likely to lead to a type of agriculture defined more by social objectives than productivity and efficiency — trends producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


US Issues Five WROs On China Products The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Monday issued five Withhold Release Orders (WROs) on various products from China linked to state-sponsored forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The WROs direct CBP officers at ports of entry to withhold release of the following: All products made with labor from the Lop County No. 5 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center; hair products made in the Lop County Hair Product Industrial Park; -Apparel produced by Yili Zhuowan Garment Manufacturing Company, Ltd., and Baoding LYSZD Trade and Business Company; -Cotton produced and processed by Xinjiang Junggar Cotton and Linen Company, Ltd.; -Computer parts made by Hefei Bitland information Technology Company, Ltd., in Anhui, China. While the action is not as broad as had been feared, acting CBP Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said the new orders would be in place while the administration conducts more legal analysis of the region-wide import bans, with CBP acting Commissioner Mark Morgan telling reporters that the investigations continue. Reports indicate that some in the Trump administration raised concerns about supply chain disruptions that could evolve with broader bans. Cuccinelli said legal concerns were the factor in the administration opting to further investigate the situation. “We want to make sure that when we do get challenged - and we assume that we will be challenged, legally - that we will prevail and none of the goods we would ultimately would seize under such a WRO would be shaken loose and released into the United States,” he stated. Indications are the companies targeted by CBP are smaller suppliers but some remain concerned about the potential impact if the U.S. broadens the actions. China, as expected, reacted angrily to the U.S. moves. The actions "violate the rules of international trade, and disrupt global industrial, supply and value chains," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters. “The so-called forced labor issue is entirely fabricated by some organizations and people in the U.S. and the West.” He further noted China will take action to protect the rights and interests of Chinese companies.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


CFAP Payments Close In On $10 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) increased to $9.9 billion as of September 13, including $4.9 billion for livestock, $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.7 billion for dairy and $647 million for specialty crops. Payments for cattle make up the biggest share at $4.2 billion out of the $4.8 billion paid out for livestock. Payments for hogs are at $597 million. The $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops accounts for 26% of all payments, with $1.7 billion of that for corn, $499 million for soybeans, and $255 million for upland cotton. Payouts by state have shifted slightly, with Iowa still the top state at $961 million, followed by Nebraska ($701 million), California ($606 million), Minnesota ($601 million and Texas ($598 million. Wisconsin is the only remaining state at $500 million or more at $519 million. It is not clear how much the totals for CFAP will increase in coming reports as the signup deadline was September 11.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Commerce Department releases August retail sales at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. CDT. The Federal Reserve concludes its 2-day meeting with an announcement at 1 p.m. CDT, possibly containing important clues of monetary policy. Weather Warm and dry conditions will cover all primary crop areas Wednesday. This combination again favors row crop ripening and harvest along with winter wheat planting. Rain will focus in the Southeast where Hurricane Sally threatens extensive flooding. Western wildfire conditions show no sign of easing with very warm and dry weather again in place.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


Report finds Market Facilitation Program Unfair A new report finds the Market Facilitation Program created deep regional inequities, favored certain crops over others, and funneled money to large agricultural operations over smaller farms. Announced by Senator Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, the report is the result of a Government Accountability Office investigation. Stabenow requested the investigation in February of this year, and says, “The Administration needs to stop playing favorites and start helping the farms hit the hardest.” The report found southern farmers benefitted significantly compared to other regions. Eight of the top nine states with the highest payments per acre were in the South. Additionally, the report highlights unfairness between crops, and large farms befitted over smaller farms. The report says that Instead of providing more support for the 9,852 largest farms, USDA could have targeted funding to the thousands of small and beginning farmers that are often more vulnerable to market swings. ************************************************************************************ EPA Rejects Gap-year Waivers Growth Energy this week welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reject so-called ‘gap-year’ exemptions from the nation’s biofuel laws. In total, the agency had received 68 retroactive exemption requests from petroleum refiners seeking to skirt obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard and the move Monday denies the majority of pending requests. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “Today’s action lifts a cloud of uncertainty that has been hanging over America’s farmers and biofuel producers since June.” In the announcement, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says, “This decision follows President Trump’s promise to promote domestic biofuel production.” Wheeler adds, “We are delivering on that promise by following the rule-of-law and ensuring 15 billion gallons are blended into the nation’s fuel supply.” Meanwhile, over the weekend, Trump announced an executive order to allow E15 to be used in any pumps approved for E10, the national standard. The move should allow for more expansion of E15 in the market. ************************************************************************************ Brazil Tariff Rate Quota for Ethanol Extended for 90 Days Brazil’s tariff rate quota for ethanol has been extended for an additional 90 days, starting September 14. After expiring on August 31, a 20 percent tariff was temporarily applied to all U.S. ethanol. U.S. corn and ethanol groups expressed disappointment in the move, saying, “we would have preferred Brazil abandon its ethanol import tariffs entirely and resume its free trade posture on ethanol.” The comments came in a joint statement from the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, and the Renewable Fuels Association. Leaders of the organizations say the extension "serves neither Brazil's consumers nor the Brazilian government's own decarbonization goals." However, the groups note they will use the extension to "aggressively pursue an open and mutually beneficial ethanol trading relationship with Brazil." The exemption expired as both sides seek a new trade agreement regarding U.S. ethanol. The TRQ allows 198 million gallons of U.S. ethanol to avoid Brazil’s 20 percent tariff annually. ************************************************************************************ Branstad Stepping Down as U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, U.S. Ambassador to China, will step down to work on the Donald Trump re-election campaign. Reuters reports sources familiar with the matter cite Branstad’s popularity in Iowa, having served there as governor for over two decades, as an asset to Trump. Branstad will resign and leave China early next month. The resignation was first revealed on Twitter by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. A spokesperson from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Monday stated, “We noted the tweet by the U.S. side and have not yet received notification about the end of Ambassador Branstad’s tenure.” The U.S. Embassy in China confirmed the resignation, however, stating, “The Ambassador confirmed his decision to President Trump by phone last week.” In the statement, Branstad says, “I am proudest of our work in getting the Phase One trade deal and delivering tangible results for our communities back home.” Branstad was previously the longest-serving Governor of Iowa, a state that helped elect President Trump in 2016. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Hosts Legislative Action Conference A COVID-relief package that includes assistance to hog farmers in crisis and foreign animal disease prevention top the list of issues at the National Pork Producers Council’s Legislative Action Conference this week. Pork producers from across the country are gathering virtually to address these and other issues with lawmakers. NPPC President Howard "AV" Roth says, "U.S. pork producers are already suffering considerable losses due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cannot afford another catastrophic blow should African swine fever or other foreign animal diseases enter our country." Last week, Germany reported its first African Swine Fever case in a wild boar, as the disease continues to spread. NPPC is urging Congress to fully fund foreign animal disease prevention programs. U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspections at U.S. ports of entry are funded by Agricultural Quarantine Inspection program user fees. Due to the COVID-related economic downturn and significant reductions in travel, collection of these user fees has dropped precipitously. ************************************************************************************ Wine Caucus Seeks CFAP Funding for Wine Producers A group of lawmakers want the Department of Agriculture to include wine grape producers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The Congressional Wine Caucus, a group of lawmakers representing wine-producing states, sent the request to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last week. The lawmakers say the cessation of wine sales in multiple market channels has disrupted supply chains and forced wine grape growers “to swim against a tide of deteriorating prices.” An industry analyst projects revenue losses for the nation’s 10,000 wineries and 8,000 growers due to COVID-19 could reach $5.94 billion. Due to the unique character of the wine grape crop cycle and the processing, marketing, and sales of wine, wine grape growers and the organizations representing them have struggled to quantify a price decline for wine grapes during a January to April timeframe, as dictated currently by CFAP requirements. The lawmakers believe the “narrow, retrospective timeframe unfairly denies support to a vitally important sector of the agricultural community, one that is responsible for an enormous amount of economic activity.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fed's Unconventional Approaches Becoming Conventional The coronavirus has shifted many economic “new approaches” into “more routine” policies, Bloomberg is reporting this week. The report concludes that global central bankers are discovering that “monetary policies they once viewed as unconventional and temporary are now proving to be both conventional and long-lasting. Forced to think more broadly by the 2008 financial crisis and then again this year by the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and most of their international counterparts have become “more aggressive and innovative than ever in defending their economies from recession and the threat of deflation.” Recent months witnessed a return not just of policies first used on a widescale basis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., such as quantitative easing, but the adoption of even more esoteric ones. And, most central banks are diving deeper into this unknown. The Fed is buying different types of bonds, the ECB is getting creative with negative interest rates. Australia has adopted Japanese-style efforts to control bond yields, Bloomberg said. With the global recovery still uncertain and the virus set to leave scars on employers and employees, the likelihood is that monetary policy will stay ultra-loose for years to come — even if that means central banks artificially propping up markets or sparking a run-up in prices. Such an outlook was underscored by the Fed's recent decision to say it will allow inflation to run above its 2% target in the future if needed to make up earlier undershoots. The Fed meets to set policy this week, as do the Bank of Japan and Bank of England, putting investors on alert for any signs of yet more innovation. “The coronavirus crisis is many times more destructive than the financial crisis of 2008,” said Steve Barrow, head of foreign-exchange strategy at Standard Bank. “There's every reason to believe that the move to tighter monetary policy will take as long — and probably much longer — than the post-financial-crisis period.” The mounting debate is whether the need to prop up economies will ultimately push central banks to do even more, perhaps in unison with governments. Monetary policy makers are already working closer than ever with their fiscal counterparts despite the traditional separation of responsibilities. Potential steps include directly financing government budget deficits, a key tenet of Modern Monetary Theory which plays down the idea that there's anything scary about monetizing debt. MMT, an old concept rebranded, is a prime example of formerly fringe notions gaining in prominence. Policy makers are resisting such approaches for now, but they haven't shied away from stretching their existing measures to extremes. Economists at Bank of America Global Research reckon that as of the end of July, central banks had cut interest rates 164 times in 147 days and committed $8.5 trillion in stimulus. JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s measure of average global rates stands at just 1%, and that of developed nations is below zero for the first time. The Fed, for example, responded to the pandemic with similar policies to those of 2008 but far faster — and then went even further. It slashed its benchmark to virtually zero and resumed buying government bonds, as well as widening its emergency lending authority to extend aid to municipalities, small and medium-sized companies, and large corporations. Its balance sheet is now at $7 trillion, compared to $4 trillion in January and the previous peak of $4.5 trillion in 2015. The Fed has so far balked at cutting rates below zero, as the ECB and BOJ did years earlier, for fear of roiling the banking system or irking lawmakers. The ECB actually enhanced its own policy in March, though, by introducing a super-low rate — even cheaper than its benchmark — for banks that use the cash to lend to the real economy. The central banks of Australia, New Zealand and India are echoing Japan's yield curve control with policies that are deliberately trying to influence bond yields at specific maturities. As for what assets central banks are willing to buy, there has been a sea-change well beyond U.S. shores. Australia, New Zealand and Canada bought government bonds for the first time this year with the latter also purchasing corporate debt. South Korea and Sweden began purchasing company bonds and commercial paper. More central banks are also embracing so-called forward guidance, in which they commit to keeping their policy loose for a certain period to boost the confidence of investors, consumers and companies. “As unconventional becomes the new conventional, central banks face fresh challenges,” said Tom Orlik, chief economist for Bloomberg Economics. “Extreme stimulus has worked well on the way in, exiting will prove harder to do — the first signs of rising inflation will be a test. Mission creep has pushed central banks into areas where coordination with fiscal policy and the need for democratic accountability raise questions about independence.” So, we will see. While many economic relief measures were imposed quickly after this year's pandemic emerged, additional efforts now being advocated are facing new pushback in many quarters as inflation fears increasingly mingle with politics — and, as the anti-virus fight continues to be far tougher than expected. These are creating ongoing election debates that should be watched closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


Still Waiting On CFAP 2 Attention remains on USDA and the timing of an announcement of another round of aid for farmers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program or CFAP 2. The effort, sources advise, will shift to using revenue as the benchmark to determine payments as opposed to price as was used to make the first CFAP payments. Those payments covered the period to mid-April, and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has signaled the next round will over a period beyond April 15. The measure was still shown as being under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as of the close of business Friday (September 11).

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


EPA Denies Batch of 'Gap-Year' RFS Waiver Requests EPA has denied 54 requests for small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that were submitted as “gap” filling requests, the agency announced Monday. The Department of Energy provided its recommendations on 54 of 68 SREs that had been received by EPA since March, recommending either no relief or 50% relief for the refiners submitting the requests. EPA said the decision covers 54 of the SREs and that DOE has not yet provided its recommendations for the other 14 requests. However, given the reasons laid out by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, some observers expect the remaining 14 will also be denied. EPA said it based its decision in part on the reasoning that if the refiners in question had suffered harm, they would have previously requested the SREs years ago. That is similar to questions raised by Wheeler relative to the requests previously – that it was difficult to claim injury if the refiner was still in business.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Attention to weather now includes South America with a new planting season about to begin. A report of U.S. industrial production for August is due out at 8:15 a.m. CDT Tuesday, followed by a private estimate of the U.S. soybean crush in August, later Tuesday morning. The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting, the final one before the November election and traders will be watching Wednesday's announcement for clues of future policy. Weather Tuesday will be dry and mild across the central U.S., favoring row crop ripening and harvest along with winter wheat planting. Meanwhile, the Southeast faces heavy flooding rain from Hurricane Sally. Wildfire conditions and smoky air continue in the Northwest. Internationally, rain prospects are improving in central Brazil which favor soybean planting activity.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


September WASDE Report Shows Lower U.S Corn, Soybean Production The September World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates from USDA show U.S. corn production is down two percent from the August forecast. Soybean production dropped six percent from the previous month. Corn production is forecast at 14.9 billion bushels, still nine percent higher than 2019. Yields will be a record 178.5 bushels per acre, down 3.3 bushels from August. Corn ending stocks will drop by 253 million bushels from last month, while the season-average price jumps 40 cents to $3,50 a bushel. Soybean production is forecast at 4.3 billion bushels, down 112 million on a lower yield forecast at 51.9 bushels per acre. Ending stocks are projected at 460 million bushels, down 150 million from August. The season-average soybean price is projected at $9.25 a bushel, up 90 cents from last month. The wheat supply and demand outlook is unchanged this month, but there are offsetting by-class changes for wheat exports. The season-average farm price remains at $4.50 a bushel. ********************************************************************************************** Peterson Wants Confirmation That EPA Will Reject SREs House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson says he’s seen nothing in writing that President Donald Trump told the Environmental Protection Agency to reject any small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuels Standard. The Hagstrom Report says Peterson is fearful the report may be speculation that the president will try to use until after the election. Recent reports quoted anonymous sources as saying Trump directed the EPA to reject the small refinery exemptions for past years that oil companies were requesting. Groups like the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, the American Coalition for Ethanol, and other groups that back ethanol were pleased by the reports. However, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association told the Hagstrom Report that the EPA hasn’t confirmed it will reject those “gap-year” exemptions. During a recent political debate, Peterson says the recent speculation in Washington DC is based on anonymous sources. The Minnesota Democrat recently introduced a bill that would require the EPA to be transparent about its decision-making surrounding the RFS in the future. ********************************************************************************************** FCA Issues Report on Economic Conditions in Agriculture Late last week, the Farm Credit Agency issued its quarterly report on the economic conditions in American agriculture. The report says for the past several years, government payments have played an important role in the farm economy and making up an ever-increasing share of farm income. “For 2020, about two-thirds of government payments are coming from ad hoc and supplemental assistance programs,” the report says. “While substantial ad hoc government payments are helping a lot of producers this year, there isn’t a guarantee that they’ll get the same level of help in 2021.” Cash receipts in 2020 are forecast to decline by 3.3 percent to $358.3 billion. Looking at the overall Farm Credit System, the FCA says it is safe and financially sound. Cash expenses are down 1.3 percent due to lower interest expense. Portfolio credit measures were more mixed, but there are indications of a slight increase in stress on portfolios in agriculture. System earnings were strong and continue to support additional capital growth. The FCA says system institutions across the country are in good shape to help support and grow the farm economy and communities in rural America. ********************************************************************************************** Grassley Asking Department of Commerce to Lift Steel Tariffs Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley and fellow Iowa Senator Joni Ernst sent a letter to the U.S. Commerce Department requesting that Secretary Wilbur Ross lift Sections 232 tariffs on steel. They did so because the move would help Iowa farmers trying to recover from the derecho storm system that rolled through the state in August. The Iowa lawmakers are asking that tariffs be removed on steel that can be used for rebuilding grain bins and machine sheds. “In the wake of this catastrophe, opportunists are offering extremely high estimates to Iowans for the steel they need to rebuild their homes, farms, businesses, and communities,” they say in the letter. “Many farmers have told us that the increased prices for steel would collectively add hundreds of millions of dollars in cost to them. This can’t happen.” The senators also note that Iowans have rebuilt before and will do it again, but “there’s no reason to make it any harder than it needs to be.” Back in early August, a historic derecho storm swept through the state doing enormous amounts of damage. ************************************************************************************ Ag Equipment Sales Continue a Positive Trend in August Unit sales of agricultural tractors and self-propelled combines in August were positive for the fifth month in a row in the U.S. The trend also stayed above the previous year for the third consecutive month in Canada. The latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers shows U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 12.8 percent last month when compared to 2019. Self-propelled combine sales grew by just one percent. Four-wheel-drive units grew for the first time in the U.S. during August, climbing 14 percent to 218 units. 100-plus horsepower units remain the only slow spot in the market, with 7.8 percent fewer of them finding new owners in August. Total year-to-date farm tractors out the door are up 14 percent this year, while combines are now up 3.6 percent in 2020. “We’re not surprised with seeing growth in combines pick up, with USDA predictions of larger harvest sizes for this year,” says Curt Blades, senior vice president of Ag Services with AEM. “We’re still watching the 100-horse and four-wheel drive sales closely as those are units that indicate just how the large-field farmers are feeling.” He says this month’s overall equipment sales remain above the five-year average and AEM is pleased with that. ********************************************************************************************** Intern Opportunity for Young People at the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention College students have a unique opportunity to attend the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, Tennessee, February 1-5 next year. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is looking for a team of interns to gain firsthand experience and be able to interact with leaders of every segment of the cattle and beef industry. The group needs up to 18 interns to perform vital tasks to help with the success of the largest annual meeting in the U.S. beef cattle industry. Interns will help many different staff members and attendees with meetings and events and should be prepared to handle a wide range of responsibilities, which could include setting up the indoor arena, assisting at committee meetings and Cattle College, as well as posting on social media and contributing in the NCBA booth. NCBA will also provide students with time to maximize industry networking. Students must be at least a junior-level college student, have a background in or working knowledge of cattle and beef, and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Go to the NCBA website for more information. The deadline for applying is October 23.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Climate, Weather and Data Seasonal change in the weather is increasingly in the scientific cross hairs these days because variations in patterns that help forecasting local weather and the likelihood of floods, drought and other events. New data are being reported and receiving unusual intense interest by the New York Times and other news outlets this summer. For example, reports Thursday that the world had entered La Nina, a climate pattern with impacts across the globe, was widely reported. Among other impacts, the La Nina emergence is thought to boost the potential this winter to “worsen what are already severe drought conditions in the American Southwest.” The NYT report was based on recent work by the Climate Prediction Center – part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That agency said in its most recent monthly forecast that sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean had cooled, signifying “La Nina conditions” that likely would continue through the winter. Like El Nino, which results from warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific, La Nina occurs every two to seven years on average. And like El Nino, it leads to changes in atmospheric circulations that can affect weather in unconnected parts of the world. La Nina's strongest influence is usually felt in winter, the Times said. And while the precise effects are unpredictable, La Nina can result in warmer and drier conditions across the Southern United States and cooler conditions in southeastern Alaska, the Northern Plains and western and central Canada. It can also lead to a wetter winter in the Pacific Northwest. Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, said that as a result of La Nina, Southern California, as well as most of Arizona and New Mexico, could “tilt toward dry” this winter. Southern California, which gets most of its rainfall from late fall to early spring, is already abnormally dry, according to the United States Drought Monitor. Those conditions have contributed to numerous wildfires this summer. All of Arizona and New Mexico are in varying stages of drought, from moderate to severe. But La Nina can have effects around the globe. The most consistent impact is in Indonesia, which usually sees increased rainfall, but La Nina can also lead to dry conditions in Eastern China and East Africa and cool and wet conditions in Southern Africa and Southeastern Brazil. NOAA scientists said this summer that the decreasing sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific were a factor in their prediction that the North Atlantic hurricane season would be an active one. La Nina influences atmospheric conditions in the North Atlantic that would otherwise tend to disrupt hurricanes as they form. Emily Becker, associate director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami, said that since the last El Nino ended in 2019, ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific had been “neutral,” neither abnormally warm or cool. But that began to change this summer. “We saw some pretty substantial easterly winds,” she said. “It might have cooled a little faster than we would have expected, but not radically so.” These west-to-east trade winds cooled the ocean surface and also led to upwelling of deep, colder water to the surface, Dr. Becker said. The resulting shift of warmer water to the western tropical Pacific affects the jet stream, the high-altitude river of air that moves west to east and serves to separate colder and warmer air. It is this change in the jet stream that can modify the North American winter, Dr. Becker said. El Nino affects the jet stream, too, although in different ways, and leads to changes that are often the opposite of La Nina's, including wetter conditions across the Southern United States. Dr. Becker said current models suggested that this La Nina would not persist through the spring. Bloomberg also noted the new climate-change event the Times noticed, but emphasized a further detail. It said that while the crop world, including major trading houses and statisticians at the USDA, has long depended on scouts trudging through fields to count corn kernels and soybean pods, travel restrictions and new virus safety measures “now have cut participation in field tours at a time of increasing scrutiny over food security.” The report also noted that student Lillian Kay Petersen had won the top prize of this year's Regeneron Science Talent Search, a 79-year-old competition for high school students held by the Society for Science and the Public, for her model that uses daily satellite images to predict crop yields in Africa. Bloomberg says that even before the pandemic, USDA eliminated part of its in-person field checks. In 2019, it decided not to do so-called objective yield analysis in fields during the month of August and rely more on satellite imagery and phone surveys until fields of corn and soybeans were further developed. Meanwhile, for its global outlook, the agency already is heavily reliant on satellite imagery and meteorology data, according to Seth Meyer, assistant director of the University of Missouri's Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute and former chairman of USDA's world agriculture outlook board. So, we will see. Highly accurate and timely crop data are extremely valuable and ways to improve the current systems have been in development for decades. That search seems far from over, but the stakes appear to be increasing. Certainly, this competition is one producers should watch closely as it continues, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


Smithfield, JBS Fined For Failing To Protect Employees From Coronavirus The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied fines of $13,494 against Smithfield Foods and $15,615 against JBS for “failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm." The Smithfield fine and citation was related to employees of the firm's Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant where at least 1,294 employees contracted COVID-19 and four died. But the fine was criticized by union officials who labeled it merely a slap on the wrist for Smithfield. "The failure by the Trump Administration to hold Smithfield accountable makes clear that this White House cares more about industry profits than protecting America's essential workers," said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. JBS was fined for more than 300 workers becoming ill at its plant in Greeley, Colo., that has led to at least six workers dying. JBS USA issued a statement Friday stating that the OSHA citation is without merit. This comes after California issued its own fines as earlier last week.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


Grassley, Ernst Urge Relief From Section 232 Tariffs On Steel As State Rebuilds From Derecho Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have called on the Department of Commerce (DOC) to provide an exemption from the Section 232 tariffs on steel, noting that “opportunists” are offering extremely high estimates to Iowans for the steel they need to rebuild their homes, farms, businesses, and communities. Specifically referencing steel grain bins that need to be replaced after being damaged or destroyed by the derecho storm, the lawmakers said a “number of farmers have told us that the increased prices for steel would collectively add hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for them.” They pointed to testimony Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross delivered when asked in June 2018 about when consumers would see relief from high steel prices. Ross testified that there had been “speculative activity” that had been taking place by “various intermediary parties,” noting DOC was investigating the situation. The lawmakers urged the exemption be ordered by Commerce as the current exclusion process involves number forms to be submitted and can take months to reach a conclusion. “We can assure you that you don't need paperwork or more than a moment to see that either of your Department's criteria is met here,” the letter stated. They also pointed out lifting the tariffs would not injure domestic steel producers but allow for imports to increase supply in this emergency situation, something which the letter points out Commerce has indicated it needs relative to the authority to have “flexibility in case of an emergency.” The two conclude, “Well, there's clearly one now.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets The third Monday in September starts with traders keeping an eye on weather forecasts for the U.S. and South America and then pausing to see if there is an export sales announcement at 8 a.m. CDT. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Weather Warm and dry conditions will cover most primary crop areas Monday. This pattern will favor crop maturation, row crop harvest and winter wheat planting. The Northwest has high wildfire risk with continued smoky air problems. Tropical Storm Sally threatens heavy rain in the Gulf Coast by midweek. The Pacific Ocean Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) 30-day moving average is at La Nina levels with a reading of plus 9.09.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


Senate Fails to End Debate on Coronavirus Aid Package On Thursday, the Senate failed to end debate on the coronavirus aid package proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The vote was 52-47, while the measure needed 60 votes to end the debate. Republican Kevin Cramer of North Dakota says, “The message from Senate Democrats is clear; they would rather let people be hurt than give people help because they think it will give them an advantage in November.” Cramer says Democrats seem to think if they don’t get “everything they want,” then the American people will get nothing at all. Senate Democrats say the package, which has been described as “skinny,” was too small to provide any meaningful help. The Hagstrom Report says the package included $20 billion for farmers and ranchers but no increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a key demand of Senate Democrats. The failure to end debate and go to a vote means that the current Senate proposal is dead. That means the likelihood of passing another coronavirus aid package before Congress leaves at the beginning of October is low. ********************************************************************************************** AEM Asking Congress to Extend the FAST Act The Association of Equipment Manufacturers and several industry partners sent a letter to Congressional leadership, asking for a one-year extension of the current surface transportation law. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is set to expire on September 30. “As our industry and our country continues to navigate the lasting effects of COVID-19, we need congressional leaders to rise to the occasion and help keep the wheels moving on critical infrastructure projects around the country,” says Dennis Slater, President of AEM. “As states and local governments continue to see budget shortfalls due to COVID-19, ensuring that the much-needed repair and modernization of our surface transportation system can continue will create American jobs and boost demand for construction equipment.” AEM and dozens of industry partners want members on both sides of the aisle to work together on a long-term, fully-funded reauthorization that will better prepare America’s roads, highways, bridges, and public transit systems to meet the demands of a “globally-competitive 21st-century economy.” The letter to congressional leaders asks for a “turn-key, one-year extension of the current surface transportation law with increased investment levels” in the nation’s infrastructure. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Looking for Input on Ag Innovation Agenda To further the USDA’s work on its Agricultural Innovation Agenda, the agency is asking for public-and-private-sector input on the most innovative technologies and practices that can be readily deployed across the country. USDA is looking for ready-to-go technologies and practices that will help achieve its goal of increasing agricultural production by 40 percent to help meet global population needs in 2050. At the same time, they also want technologies and practices that help cut the carbon footprint of U.S. agriculture by 40 percent. “Across America, we’ve seen significant advances in agricultural production efficiency and conservation performance during the past two decades,” says Bill Northey, Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “We want to keep the momentum going and help farmers access new approaches through our Agricultural Innovation Agenda.” To help identify and accelerate the adoption of ready-to-go innovations, USDA is accepting public comments and written stakeholder input. A ready-to-go practice, technology, or management approach includes those that are fully developed, have been field-tested, and have completed independent research trials. Based on the input, USDA will develop a comprehensive agriculture innovation strategy for its customer programs, all of which will be found on their AIA website. ********************************************************************************************** FFA Giving Back to Indianapolis The city of Indianapolis won’t get to experience a sea of blue jackets this fall because the National FFA Convention and Expo are going virtual. However, that doesn’t mean FFA won’t be giving back to the Indianapolis community. As a part of helping the host city, the National FFA Organization announced it is donating $10,000 to the Indiana Hospitality Relief Fund through the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association. “The Indianapolis hospitality industry always rolls out the red carpet for us each October,” says FFA CEO Mark Poeschl (PESH-uhl). “This unprecedented time has created hardships for many people. While we won’t see many of our friends around the city in-person, we want them to know we’re thinking about them.” The national convention and expo typically bring in more than 65,000 people to the city and have an annual impact of more than $35 million on the city. FFA members typically give back during the convention through National Days of Service. As this year’s convention is a virtual one, FFA will be giving back through National Days of Service in locations around the country. The National FFA Convention and Expo are scheduled for October 27-29. ************************************************************************************ #Glamburger Introducing More Consumers to American Lamb The American Lamb Board’s #Glamburger campaign inspired consumers, influencers, and chefs to help create unique lamb burgers in celebration of summer. The checkoff promotion focused on enticing consumers to try ground American Lamb because of its affordability, delicious flavor, and ease of preparation. The campaign included two components: #ProjectGlamburger and the #Glamburger Challenge. The #Glamburger Challenge contest asked consumers to share a picture of their favorite lamb burger on social media, with a chance to win a $1,000 gift card. #ProjectGlamburger is a series of virtual competitions involving local restaurants and food influencers in key geographical markets. Influencers were invited to craft a new lamb burger to be added to a local restaurant’s menu. The first stop was in Boulder, Colorado, at the Rooted Craft Restaurant. After a stop in San Francisco, California, at a restaurant called Son’s Addition, the #ProjectGlamburger event is on its third stop in Washington, DC. Food influencers in the nation’s capital are working on creating their burger concepts in hopes of seeing theirs added to the menu at the Little Sesame restaurant. ********************************************************************************************** ISU: U.S Ready to Meet China’s Increasing Import Demand China’s demand for U.S. corn is surging, and Iowa State University’s Center for Agriculture and Rural Development says the U.S. is ready for that demand. “The recent derecho storm caused a great deal of damage to Iowa’s corn and soybeans, but total predicted national corn production for the 2020-2021 marketing year is still the largest ever,” says Dermot Hayes, Professor of Economics at Iowa State University. China’s surging corn demand isn’t the only good news for U.S. farmers. Hayes updated a recent study he co-authored called “China’s Agricultural Imports Under the Phase One Trade Deal: Is Success Possible?” The most recent data says China will now import $21.63 billion in agricultural products from the United States in the first year of the phase one deal, an increase of almost $3 billion from the first prediction in May. The study’s co-authors say while the prediction is still behind the $36.5 billion target set by the deal, the recent market signals are showing that China has record demand ahead for U.S. corn, poultry, and pork. China’s increased demand for corn and pork relates back to the outbreak of the African Swine Fever Virus that started in 2018 and decimated China’s hog industry.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Support for US Involvement in Southeast Asia Bloomberg is reporting this week that the United States is pushing Southeast Asian countries to review ties with Chinese state-owned enterprises and it is stepping up pressure on Beijing over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. “Don't just speak up, but act,” U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo told participants during a virtual summit with foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on Thursday. “Reconsider business dealings with the very state-owned companies that bully Asean coastal states in the South China Sea.” Tensions in the region have risen in the past few months as the U.S. and China spar on everything from democracy in Hong Kong to data security over popular Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat. In July, the U.S. explicitly rejected China's expansive maritime claims in the region for the first time and sent aircraft carriers to the waters to conduct military exercises. The report noted that China last month fired missiles into the South China Sea, a move that underscored the growing cost of any armed conflict in the region. The missiles showed China's ability to strike out at U.S. bases and aircraft carriers, the major sources of American power projection in the region. Pompeo's remarks came after the U.S. last month announced trade and visa restrictions on 24 companies for their efforts to help China “reclaim and militarize disputed outposts” in the contested maritime area, including the prominent state-owned China Communications Construction Co., a critical builder of “Belt and Road” initiative projects. During the meeting, Pompeo raised concerns over the China's actions in the South China Sea, reiterating that the U.S. regarded Beijing's expansive maritime claims in the waters as unlawful according to a 2016 international tribunal ruling. China regards the U.S. position as illegitimate because it opted out of dispute settlement provisions when it signed up for United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. “I know many of you were skeptical about the Trump administration and our intentions when we took office,” he said. “You should have confidence that America will be here in friendship to help you, just as we've been for the last three and a half years.” Secretary Pompeo said that the United States is committed to working with partners in the Indo-Pacific to uphold the rules-based order that has underpinned security and prosperity for more than 70 years. Bloomberg also noted that Vietnam's top diplomat declared that Southeast Asian countries want the U.S. to play a role in maintaining peace in the South China Sea, pushing back against Beijing's comments that American forces were destabilizing the region. Vietnam currently holds the bloc's rotating chairmanship. “We welcome the U.S.'s constructive and responsive contributions to Asean's efforts to maintaining the peace, stability and developments in the South China Sea,” Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said during the summit. Without naming China, he said the militarization of the sea “eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and undermined peace, security and rule of law in the region.” Southeast Asian countries were open to opportunities for practical cooperation with the U.S. in the region, Minh said. Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia have been locked in territorial disputes with China that have impacted their ability to extract fish, oil and gas from offshore areas. At a virtual summit a day earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Southeast Asian foreign ministers the U.S. was intervening in territorial disputes and strengthening its military deployment in the contested area “out of its own political purposes.” He called the U.S. “the biggest driver of militarization of the South China Sea,” according to statements posted by China's Foreign Ministry. The U.S. has become “the most dangerous factor that damages the peace in the South China Sea,” Wang said, reiterating China's position that disputes should be solved by regional countries. “Peace and stability are China's greatest strategic interest in the South China Sea, which are also the common aspiration of Asean countries,” he said. On Wednesday, Wang rejected the idea that China pursues expansionist claims, calling it a “distortion” of China's stance. He insisted China's claim of islands in the South China Sea has “abundant historic and legal basis.” He also argued that Chinese construction on reefs and islets was meant to improve living conditions and provide “public good” for the region. “In the face of a non-regional country's military pressure, of course we have the right to protect our own sovereignty,” he said. So, we will see. The U.S. policy of pushing back on Beijing's role in the region is a key part of its overall efforts to oppose global Chinese investment expansion – even while The U.S. expands its Chinese trade in ag products and a few other sectors. China is a growing competitor in the region and a challenging trading partner, a relationship U.S. producers should watch closely as it evolves, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


USDA Sets Seafood Trade Relief Program (STRP) Details USDA will launch signup for the Seafood Trade Relief Program (STRP) September 14 to make up to $530 million in payments to eligible commercial fishermen that have been “impacted by trade actions of foreign governments resulting in the loss of exports.” Payments under the program are aimed at “expanding or aiding in the expansion of domestic markets for U.S. caught and sold seafood.” Payments under the program are to be made using authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and apply to seafood production reported as harvested in calendar 2019. USDA said that trade damages of more than $5 million were required for the type of seafood to be eligible for an STRP payment. There is a $250,000 payment limit per person or legal entity. Only those commercial fishing operations in business at the time of application are eligible. USDA used the same methodology to determine damages under STRP as they did for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) and Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP). The Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for STRP is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on September 14.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


Report: Brazil Likely To Extend Zero Tariffs On Ethanol Imports For Three Months The Brazilian government is expected to revive and extend the effort to allow imports of ethanol for three months with the Brazilian sugar industry seeking negotiations between the two countries to allow more sugar exports to the U.S., according to two sources knowledgeable with the plan, Reuters reported. The sources said Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina met with the sugar ethanol industry Tuesday on the package. Brazil let a non-tariff quota for 750 million liters (198 million gallons) ethanol imports expire at the end of August, making imports subject to a 20% tariff. And the country's sugar industry said that they want the Brazilian government to seek additional access for Brazilian sugar into the U.S. market. While some may reject that possibility, recall that USDA wants to allow more sugar into the U.S. under the Fiscal Year 2020 tariff rate quota on sugar imports, and they have extended the period for the products enter by 30 days.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly report of export sales will be released at 7:30 a.m. Friday, along with the U.S. Labor Department's consumer price index. The big events of the day for traders are USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports, due out at 11 a.m. CDT. At 1 p.m. CDT, the U.S. Treasury Department releases the federal budget for August. Weather Light rain and drizzle are in store for the central Plains and western Midwest Friday. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Temperatures will be cool for the season in central and south central areas and above to much-above normal northwest and southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


Report: Trump to Deny RFS Gap Waivers Ethanol and corn producers applaud a report by Reuters that President Donald Trump will deny pending retroactive biofuel waivers. The National Corn Growers Association, Renewable Fuels Association, National Farmers Union and American Coalition for Ethanol jointly welcomed the news report. A joint statement reads, “it is our hope that EPA swiftly acts upon the President’s directive and closes the door once and for all on the refiners’ brazen attempt to rewrite history.” The report comes the same week an effort led by Growth Energy, including more than 90 stakeholders, urged the president to deny the so-called gap waivers. Ethanol industry supporters say the gap year waivers are intended to circumvent a Tenth Circuit Court's decision against three granted waivers. Meanwhile, the groups denounced CVR Refining and HollyFrontier Corporation’s last-minute request, filed on September 4, for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling. NCGA, RFA, NFU and ACE were the four petitioners in the successful Tenth Circuit Court case. ************************************************************************************ Biden, Trump Respond to AFBF Questionnaire A new questionnaire reveals the priorities for rural America of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. The American Farm Bureau Federation asked the Republican and Democratic candidates to respond with their stances on several topics directly affecting rural America. President Trump’s responses focus largely on his first-term accomplishments. He pledges a science-based approach to regulation going forward. He commits to addressing the “rural/urban divide” and emphasizes support for voluntary conservation programs. Former Vice President Biden’s responses focus heavily on environmental sustainability and improving prosperity in rural communities. He, too, pledges to rely on experts and scientists when it comes to policies and regulation. He commits to “rebuilding the middle class” and working with farmers to achieve net-zero emissions. The answers are presented as they were received, unedited, to give farmers an unfiltered look at each candidate’s platform. AFBF has invited candidates from both parties to respond to election questionnaires for more than 40 years. The survey is available at FB.org/election2020. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Egg Product Inspection Modernization Effort The Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service says it is modernizing egg product inspections. This is the first effort to update the inspection methods since Congress passed the egg Products inspection Act in 1970. FSIS says the Egg Products Inspection Regulations final rule aligns the egg products regulations to be consistent with current requirements in the meat and poultry products inspection regulations. Under the new rule, federally inspected egg product plants are required to develop and implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points systems and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures. FSIS will continue to test for Salmonella and Listeria in egg products. FSIS requires that plants produce egg products that meet food safety standards and are edible without additional preparation. Under the system, plants will be able to tailor a food safety system that best fits their facility and equipment. In addition, FSIS will be assuming regulatory authority over egg substitutes and freeze-dried egg products, which pose the same risk as egg products and will be inspected in the same manner. ************************************************************************************ Produce Group Says Trade Investigation to Undermine USMCA Not all produce groups are pleased the Trump Administration is taking action regarding fresh produce imports. Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer outlined a plan that includes investigations of imports of blueberries and potentially strawberries and bell peppers. The plan also outlines actions that would impact U.S. companies distributing imported produce. The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas says, “This politically motivated action directly undermines the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, positioning the U.S. as an unreliable trading partner.” The association says using the rarely invoked trade law cited would impose costly tariffs on seasonal produce, raise consumer prices, and would launch numerous and unending “tit for tat” trade wars. The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas is a nonprofit trade association headquartered in Arizona that represents over 120 U.S. member companies involved in importing and marketing fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Mexico and distributed across North America and the world. ************************************************************************************ USDA Supports U.S. Seafood Industry Impacted by Retaliatory Tariffs The Department of Agriculture will provide approximately $530 million to support the U.S. seafood industry and fishermen impacted by retaliatory tariffs from foreign governments. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the support Wednesday. Perdue says, "Many nations have not played by the rules for a long time," adding, "President Trump is the first President to stand up to them and send a clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate unfair trade practices." The Seafood Trade Relief Program ensures fishermen and other U.S. producers, according to Perdue, “will not stand alone in facing unjustified retaliatory tariffs while President Trump continues working to solidify better and stronger trade deals around the globe.” The funding will be provided through the Seafood Trade Relief Program and funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation. The Seafood Trade Relief Program funding will support roughly 20 fish and crab species, including flounder, salmon, and tuna. Fishermen can sign-up for relief through the program from September 14, 2020, to December 14, 2020. ************************************************************************************ NCBA, PLC: Time to Delist Grizzly Bears from Endangered Species Act The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council say, “it’s time the grizzly bears are delisted,” from the Endangered Species Act. During a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing Wednesday, lawmakers discussed the Grizzly Bear State Management Act. Introduced last year by Senator Mike Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming, the bill directs the Department of the Interior to re-issue its delisting decision and prohibits further judicial review of this decision. Public Lands Council Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover says, “the Committee heard what ranchers across the West have known for years: grizzly bear populations are flourishing, which means the species no longer needs protection.” Senator Enzi says the authority to manage the species needs to be turned over to the states. In 2017, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed the grizzly bear from the endangered species list, citing a significant increase in bear populations. In September 2018, a federal judge in Montana ruled to put the grizzly bear back on the endangered species list.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Pandemic Changed Food Market When the coronavirus hit, the food business found itself in a whole new ballgame, the New York Times is reporting this week. “Even the most enthusiastic cooks had to adjust to a new, more complicated relationship with their kitchens," the article said. For the first time in a generation, Americans began spending more money at the supermarket than at places where someone else cooked. Grocers saw eight years of projected sales growth packed into one month. Shopping trends that were in their infancy were turbocharged. The NYT says it is focusing on the “six-month shift” and calls it a “behavioral scientist's dream.” Shoppers began by building bomb-shelter pantries. Then came a nostalgia phase, with bowls of Lucky Charms and boxes of Little Debbies offering throwback comfort. Soon, days were defined by elaborate culinary stunts, sourdough starter and kombucha clubs. Now, NYT thinks that “although kitchen fatigue is setting in for many, a new set of habits have been set.” The report says that quite a few companies agree. “People are moving on to more complex cooking, and we don't see that going away,” said Rodney McMullen, the chairman and chief executive of Kroger — where sales rose 30% at the onset of the pandemic, including big jumps in the pasta aisles, the beer and wine department and baking supplies, and “including a 600% jump in sales of yeast.” He and others in the business say the COVID-driven return to the kitchen could change grocery shopping forever. “This is a pivotal time in our history,” Anna Nagurney, a professor in the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts who studies supply chains, said. “Not all of what we've seen will stick, but a lot of it will.” The Times report goes on to list ways the pandemic has already changed the way Americans shop for food. For example, it concludes that “shopping is more efficient now.” Trips are fewer and lists are better. “People now go to the store with purpose,” said John Owen, the associate director for food and retail with Mintel, the market analysis group. “The number of trips went way down, and the size of the basket went way up in April. We have eased back on that, but not by much.” Before the coronavirus, 19% of Americans shopped for food more than three times a week, according to McKinsey & Company. That number had dropped to 10% by June, according to Lizzie Bowman, a marketing director at American Public Media who lives in Minneapolis. She has streamlined her shopping to once a week. “It has made me a better planner and more aware of what I like to buy where,” she said. “I am so much more purposeful about where I choose to shop.” There's more. A year ago, 81% of shoppers surveyed by Gallup said they never turned to the internet for groceries and online shopping accounted for about 3% of all grocery sales. In June online grocery sales in the United States hit $7.2 billion. The race for on line dollars is intense. In a challenge to Amazon Prime, Walmart last week announced a new $98-a-year subscription service that offers same-day delivery on 160,000 items. Instacart is more than doubling its work force and new services are popping up. Curbside pickup, delivery's sibling, has also exploded. Stores are converting parking lots to better handle traffic from shoppers who drive by to pick up orders. Companies including Kroger and Whole Foods Market are opening what are becoming known as “dark stores,'' designed solely for picking up or delivering orders placed online. Also, the Times thinks that many shoppers consider themselves permanent converts to online shopping. Other changes include shifts in consumption patterns — produce sales have been riding high since March and are still up 11% from a year earlier, said Joe Watson, a vice president at the Produce Marketing Association. In May, grocers sold 73% more oranges than during the same month in 2019. Sales in the category that grocers call “natural” were growing before the pandemic but they blew up when it arrived. By mid-March, they were up 78% over the year before, according to the market research firm IRI. And, grocers have found that they can grow with fewer choices. Displays at the end of aisles are more likely now to hold bulk packages of staples, NYT said. And, shoppers are being more economical while interest in house brands has grown. Frozen food is another surprise breakout. Sales initially jumped by 94% in March, according to the American Frozen Food Institute. That initial rush abated but even in August, sales remained up almost 18%. So, we will see. Our food consumption preferences are as varied as our population and are sensitive to many influences. The virus, with its enormous impacts on our way of life will certainly change many basic things, too — even for systems as large and diverse as food. These are trends that are central for producers and should be watched closely as changes appear, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


Final Rule For Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) Is At OMB For Review The coming Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) expansion by USDA is closer to be being announced as the final rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review on September 4. This rule likely covers what has been touted as CFAP 2 which would address conditions since the April 15 date referenced in the initial CFAP effort that has seen $9.4 billion paid out as of August 31. The program targeted providing some $16 billion in payments using funds from the CARES Act and Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) borrowing authority. Expectations are the CFAP 2 effort will be announced soon as OMB review of the plan is not expected to take a long time.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


Reuters: Trump Orders EPA To Deny Gap-Year RFS Waiver Requests President Donald Trump reportedly has instructed EPA to deny so-called gap-year small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in a bid to bolster his support in farm country, according to a report from Reuters. The action would take the form of a direction from the White House, the report noted, and comes as Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is facing a challenge in her bid for reelection to the US Senate in November. When Trump visited Iowa in August to learn more about the derecho storm impacts, Ernst repeatedly pressed Trump on the SRE issue, extracting a promise that he would talk to EPA on about the situation. EPA was flooded with gap-year SREs in the wake of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in January that three SREs issued for the 2016 compliance year were invalid as they did not amount to extensions of prior SREs. That prompted multiple requests for SREs to be filed going back to the 2011 compliance year. Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that the Department of Justice has decided not to appeal the 10th Circuit Court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, another sign the administration has opted to side with biofuel backers on the issue.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


Ethanol Industry Again Urging Trump to Reject Gap Year Waivers Biofuels advocates Tuesday urged President Donald Trump to “stand up against an urgent threat facing rural communities” and reject oil industry exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard. In a letter, 93 farm organizations and biofuel industry stakeholders told the President, “We’ve seen too many plants shut down, too many jobs lost, and too many farmers deprived of vital markets.” The letter was offered in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ongoing consideration of nearly 100 refinery exemptions, including 67 retroactive ‘gap-year’ petitions. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the so-called gap-year exemptions, “represent a clear attempt to sidestep the law at the expense of rural communities.” The farm organizations call the waivers a brazen attempt to circumvent limits set by the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for which determined that EPA "abused its discretion" over the RFS by granting similar exemptions. This is just the latest in an ongoing effort by the industry to end the waivers. ************************************************************************************ July Beef and Pork Exports Rebound, but Still Below Year-Ago July exports of U.S. beef rebounded from recent lows but remained below 2019 levels, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. U.S. pork exports, which are on a record pace in 2020, were also down from a year ago in July but increased compared to June. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says, “With production returning to near-normal levels, we definitely saw an improvement in beef exports.” July beef exports totaled 107,298 metric tons, up 36 percent from June but still nine percent below last year. Export value was $647.8 million, the highest since March but down ten percent from a year ago. July pork exports totaled 222,035 metric tons, down five percent from a year ago, while export value fell 12 percent to $548.3 million. For January through July, pork exports remained 20 percent ahead of last year's record pace in volume at and 22 percent higher in value. ************************************************************************************ Wheat Growers Applaud Relief Request for U.S. Wheat Producers Last week, a group of lawmakers requested additional coronavirus-related aid for wheat farmers, a move applauded by the National Association of Wheat Growers. A group of 26 lawmakers signed a letter last week to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue seeking the funds. Specifically, the lawmakers asked Perdue to use existing funds through the CARES Act to begin covering 2020 crop losses and include all classes of wheat. NAWG President Dave Milligan applauded the bipartisan group of lawmakers who signed the letter, “demonstrating the significant price drops experienced this year and the need for 2020 losses to be covered." The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program provides assistance for hard red spring and durum wheat farmers, but it does not include other classes of wheat, which represent about 70 percent of 2019 production. CFAP also only provides assistance on 2019 grain that was considered to be at risk in the first quarter of the year. CARES Act funds have not yet been made available for 2020 crop losses. ************************************************************************************ NASDA Adopts New Diversity and Inclusion Policy The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture last week adopted a new diversity and inclusion policy during the 2020 NASDA Annual Meeting. According to the organization, the new policy formally incorporates NASDA's commitment to racial justice into its policymaking framework. NASDA CEO Barb Glenn says, “We believe that the future of agriculture is best served when all of those in the agriculture community are empowered regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and/or religious creed." NASDA's policy asserts that diversity and inclusion are fundamental principles of a sustainable agricultural community and necessary to advance the industry. The policy also recommends supporting programs consistent with the new guiding principle and encourages all levels of government to do the same. NASDA recently formed a five-year partnership with the organization Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences and the NASDA Foundation. The partnership will serve to increase racial diversity in agricultural leadership, provide a deep dive into agriculture policy for students, and advise diversity training for NASDA members and staff. ************************************************************************************ Wildfires Threaten Western States The Public Lands Council Tuesday reported 76 large active wildfires in the United States, impacting roughly 2.2 million acres. Of those, 22 are in California and 11 in Montana. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows much of the West and High Plains regions in classified drought. Many areas of the West were included in a red flag warning, which advises citizens to avoid activities that may spark a fire. In Montana, Governor Steve Bullock last week issued an executive order declaring a state of fire emergency due to extremely hazardous wildland fire conditions throughout the state. The declaration allows Bullock to mobilize additional state resources and to combat wildfires. The emergency order also suspends hours of service regulations for commercial vehicle drivers while providing support to fire suppression activities. Additionally, the emergency order suspends the brand inspection permit fee requirement and the brand inspection requirement before removal, and allows the Montana Department of Livestock to issue transportation permits by phone when necessary to cope with the emergency. ************************************************************************************ China Exporting Duck Blood to U.S. Without Inspection Records The Food Safety and Inspection Service last week issued a Public Health alert over imported duck blood from China that doesn’t include inspection information. Specifically, the investigation focuses on vacuum-packed packages containing “Cooked Duck Blood Curds.” The product does not identify an eligible establishment number on its packaging and was not presented to FSIS for import re-inspection. FSIS has not received an official inspection certificate issued by China to certify the product as eligible. Therefore, the product is ineligible to import into the U.S., making it unfit for human consumption. Retailers who have purchased the product are urged not to sell it. Consumers who purchased the product should not consume it and properly discard it. Consumers are asked to double bag the product when discarding it to reduce the possibility of animals accessing the product because USDA cannot confirm whether the cooked duck blood curds were properly heated to control pathogens of concern to domestic livestock.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


Washington Insider: China Trade Fights and More Bloomberg is reporting this week that the President is staking out a much more punitive position on future trade relationships with China. He is threatening to “punish any American company that creates jobs overseas.” “We'll manufacture our critical manufacturing supplies in the United States, we'll create 'made in America' tax credits and bring our jobs back to the United States and we'll impose tariffs on companies that desert America to create jobs in China and other countries,” President Trump said on Monday. “If they can't do it here, then let them pay a big tax to build it someplace else and send it into our country,” he said of US corporations. “We'll prohibit federal contracts from companies that outsource to China and we'll hold China accountable for allowing the virus to spread around the world.” The report says that the president has recently emphasized the idea of “decoupling” the US economy from China—as US China hawks have long dreamed. “Whether it's decoupling or putting massive tariffs on China which I've been doing already,” he said. “We're going to end our reliance on China because we can't rely on China and I don't want them building a military like they're building right now and they're using our money to build it.” Despite the president's comments, bilateral trade is one key area of US-China relations that hasn't worsened recently, Bloomberg says. Both nations are seen as reaffirming their commitment to a phase-one trade deal that stopped tit-for-tat tariff increases. China's trade surplus with the US in August was $34.2 billion, the highest since November 2018. The president has increasingly sought to intensify the election-year trade issues but didn't say when he would implement the new policies. He framed the moves as part of a second-term agenda. Overall, Bloomberg says that this year could become the most challenging period for the international trading system in modern history. It cites Edward Allen, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who thinks the next three months will be “pivotal” for the state of global trade. With protectionism on the rise in ways similar to the lead-up to the Great Depression, “the echoes of the 1930s are pretty clear,” he said. Bloomberg focuses on several key political and economic events affecting trade, beginning with the WTO review of whether and how much the EU can retaliate against the US for its subsidies to Boeing Co. The EU has requested authorization for levies on $11.2 billion of US products, but trade experts say a lower figure is likely -- perhaps below the WTO's $7.5 billion award to the US in its parallel dispute against EU subsidies to Airbus SE. There are hopes that a ruling would spur the US to restart negotiations to settle the 15-year-old dispute. A settlement would be a huge relief to European exporters, who are currently facing stiff US retaliatory tariffs. However, Bloomberg thinks that the most important trade development this year will be the US presidential election. If the president is re-elected in November, it's likely the US will increase tariffs on foreign trade partners as a means to reshore and diversify America's supply chains, Bloomberg says. This could mean “more of the same--a roller coaster ride of volatility, threats, and tariffs,” said William Reinsch, a trade official in the Clinton administration and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. If Democrat Joe Biden wins, “he has already said, in effect, that trade is going to be on the back burner while he deals with the pandemic and the economy,” Bloomberg thinks. In the midst of all this, members of the WTO will attempt to select a new leader to help revive the “neutered” referee for international commerce. The organization is currently operating without a chief following Roberto Azevedo's early departure on Aug. 31. Bloomberg thinks the WTO's dispute-settlement function is crippled, its negotiating arm is essentially frozen and the organization is beginning to buckle beneath the pressure of the US-China battle for trade supremacy. It believes that US and European policy makers also are sleepwalking toward a “damaging trade conflict over foreign taxes on US technology companies like Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Bloomberg says. Though nations have sought to resolve the matter at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US withdrew from those talks in June. If an agreement is not forthcoming this year America's top trade official has pledged to impose tariffs on nearly a dozen nations in 2021. Also, new and significant trade barriers between the UK and EU are likely by year-end, Bloomberg thinks as the UK proceeds to leave the EU's single market and customs union -- meaning British exporters must endure new customs paperwork that will create border queues and persistent delays. This will happen regardless of whether Britain can come to an agreement with the European trading bloc over the future of their economic relationship. If the UK fails to negotiate a tariff- and quota-free accord with the EU, British exports will become subject to WTO negotiated terms that bring costs, controls and red tape that haven't existed for decades. So, we will see. Overseas markets are very important for US agriculture and for other industries that are globally competitive and who have outgrown domestic markets—and they tend to be supported by those who believe that trade agreements tend to lead to stronger global relationships than the past reliance on more mercantilist objectives achieved. Now, Bloomberg and others think that the global trade system risks drifting even further into much more confrontational arrangements, developments and fights producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


Cattle Group Presses USDA Over Mexican Beef The US Cattlemen's Association (USCA) is urging USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to enhance inspections of beef imported from Mexico, citing concerns over the potential use of the growth promoter clenbuterol. The group pointed to reports of an outbreak of illness affecting 54 people across Mexico linked to meat contaminated with clenbuterol. It also pointed to a 2019 study that found clenbuterol residues in excess of Codex Alimentarius maximum limits in 52 of 106 samples of beef muscle and liver purchased from vendors in the city of Cuernavaca. “USCA strongly recommends increased inspection protocols of all beef and cattle imported from Mexico until such a time when confidence can be restored in Mexican beef product,” USCA President Brooke Miller wrote in the September 8 letter to APHIS and FSIS administrators. “We ask that APHIS and FSIS seriously evaluate the public health risks associated with importing beef and meat from Mexico, including conducting an equivalence verification to ensure that Mexico is still maintaining a regulatory food safety inspection system that is on par with the United States'.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


USTR Considers Ban on Cotton Products from China's Xinjiang Region This week the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) could ban the import of products made with cotton from the Chinese region of Xinjiang, in response to the abuse of minorities living there. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would have to issue an order implementing the ban. The issue could affect tens of billions of dollars of US textile and clothing imports that include cotton, yarn or fabric from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. A ban would cut deeply into apparel supply chains, and there is the potential that any US action could lead China to retaliate – possibly targeting US cotton producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets There are no official reports due Wednesday, but traders will continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts and watch for more export sales announcements. Several private crop estimates are being considered ahead of Friday's WASDE report. Weather Wednesday features a large area of rain from the Texas Rio Grande valley to the Great Lakes. The rain will be favorable for soil moisture ahead of winter wheat planting and will offer drought easing in the western Midwest. Meanwhile, snow will cover much of the western Plains and Rockies. Other crop areas will be drier with favorable harvest conditions in the Delta and Southeast. Some northern crops will have their season come to an end due to freezing conditions.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


House Ag Chair Unhappy with Brazil Regarding U.S. Ethanol The Brazilian government’s tariff rate quota that placed a 20 percent duty on American ethanol imports exceeding 198 million gallons ended on August 31. Government officials there have yet to announce plans for the future of the U.S.-Brazil trade relationship. If the government doesn’t take further actions, all U.S. ethanol coming into Brazil faces a 20 percent tariff. The Chair of the House Ag Committee, Collin Peterson, is not happy about the situation. “American corn and ethanol producers are struggling to access domestic markets because of the coronavirus and the Environmental Protection Agency’s reckless implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard,” Peterson says. “Brazil’s move to increase tariffs on American ethanol is more bad news for producers.” He wants the administration to continue working with Brazilian officials to restore the duty-free access that was in place from 2012 to 2017. “Tariff wars have consequences, and our biofuels producers are seeing that firsthand,” he adds. Brazil has been a major buyer of U.S. ethanol, importing 332 million gallons worth $493 million in 2019. Peterson and 19 other members of Congress recently sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asking him to pressure Brazil’s leaders to restore zero-tariff ethanol trade between America and Brazil. ********************************************************************************************** WTO Says Ag Trade Faring “Better” During COVID; Producers Feeling Pressure A new report from the World Trade Organization says agricultural trade has performed “better” than other economic sectors during COVID-19. However, Western Producer says the report notes that farmers and ranchers are still feeling pressure from lower food prices. “Overall merchandise trade fell sharply in the first half of this year, but agricultural and food exports increased by 2.5 percent during the first quarter of 2020 when compared to 2019,” the report says. The news is not all good as the WTO points out that the crisis has put downward pressure on food prices, and therefore on producer revenues. At the same time, the number of hungry people is continuing to climb around the world. “Initial measures focused on guaranteeing the immediate availability of food have been followed by a second phase of policies seeking to mend broken supply chains and to help agricultural producers cope with the situation,” the report continues. The impact on trade varied in different regions of the world. Asia’s agricultural exports declined in March, while Europe and North America saw declines in April. South America saw significant increases because of bigger demand in Asia. The WTO says food prices will remain at low levels, putting more pressure on producer revenues. ********************************************************************************************** NCGA Working to Move the Ethanol Industry Forward The National Corn Growers Association is working on building out the infrastructure needed for future mid-level blends of ethanol. For three years, the NCGA and state partners have been working with Wayne Fueling Systems to make and sell fuel pumps certified to deliver fuels containing up to 25 percent ethanol. This partnership helps NCGA support the sale of more than 50,000 new fuel pumps across the country, building out the infrastructure needed to support future mid-level blends of ethanol. “This lays the groundwork for growing ethanol demand and moving the industry forward,” says NCGA Vice President of Market Development Jim Bauman. “Corn farmer support of NCGA’s multi-year fuel pump infrastructure program supports the introduction of higher-octane fuels delivered by low-carbon, affordable, corn-based ethanol.” NCGA also partnered with the Renewable Fuels Association to help assist retailers in applying for the USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The program included $86 million to expand the availability of higher ethanol blends like E15 and E85. Corn farmer support helped deliver program awareness and technical assistance for applications representing more than 1,100 fuel dispensers in 21 states with 222 locations that combine to sell more than 250 million gallons of gasoline annually. ************************************************************************************ CFAP Part Two Announcement Coming This Week As recently as September 1, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA was finishing up writing the rules for the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Late last week at a stop in Iowa, the secretary said the rules have been written and they’ll be announced this week. The Bismarck Tribune says the first $16 billion in funding during the first round of the program was geared to the first quarter of 2020. The idea was to just get the aid out the door as quickly as possible to whoever needed it. Round two of the program will factor in more producer feedback to make it a program that works best for the people who truly need it. Farm Journal’s Ag Web Dot Com says payments in the second round will compensate producers for any losses they had from April 15 through the end of 2020. The deadline for applying during the first round of CFAP is this Friday, September 11. He says round two payments will go to the same commodities they did in the first round. There won’t be any money for ethanol producers and other agricultural commodities seeking aid because of COVID-19. Perdue says he doesn’t have the necessary authority from Congress to make those particular payments. ********************************************************************************************** USGC Working on Expanding Ethanol Demand in Asia The U.S. Grains Council says a boom in demand for hand sanitizer in South Korea since COVID-19 began is likely not a surprise. However, the related jump in U.S. ethanol imports into the country to meet that need might be more of a surprise. The rising demand is opening doors for the U.S. Grains Council to build new partnerships to expand demand potential for ethanol across Asia, both for industrial uses and fuel. The USGC Director in South Korea says COVID-19 has altered ethanol markets around the world. The demand for U.S. ethanol in South Korea for industrial use has increased significantly due to the high demand for sanitizers in South Korea and throughout the region. Despite the short-term impact, fuel ethanol demand remains viable for expansion in the future, and USGC says the council is working to increase market access in individual countries across the Asian region. South Korea imported 58.9 million gallons of U.S. ethanol for industrial use during the first six months of 2020, equivalent to 20.9 million bushels of corn. That’s up 53 percent year-on-year. The total constitutes 55 percent market share. USGC recently met with KC&A, the largest ethanol importer and distributor in Asia to discuss the obstacles and opportunities for ethanol expansion in the region. ********************************************************************************************** National Sorghum Producers and BASF Partner to Offer Scholarship Opportunity The National Sorghum Foundation and BASF announced a joint scholarship offer for the 2020-2021 academic year. “The National Sorghum Foundation is excited to continue to partner with BASF in supporting students who excel in academics, leadership, and service to their communities and universities,” says NSF Chairman Larry Lambright. “We look forward to providing deserving students with the financial assistance necessary to continue their education and success.” Two $2,500 scholarships will be awarded to deserving students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in an agriculturally-related curriculum. Undergraduate applicants must be entering at least their second year of study during the 2020-2021 academic year. Applicants must also have a parent or grandparent who is a member of the National Sorghum Producers. Potential applicants can find more information at SorghumGrowers.com/Foundation-Scholarships.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Jobs Report and Spending Deal Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sees the U.S. unemployment data for August as positive but cautions that the economy's recovery from the pandemic has a long road ahead. “The recovery is continuing; we do think it will get harder from here,” Powell said in a Bloomberg report. Friday's jobs report was “a good one,” he said, adding that “to get us back to full employment, we're going to have to get the disease under control.” “There may be a modest slowing in the pace of improvement, but improvement goes on. And in the labor market, I would say it goes on at least at the pace we expected.” Powell spoke following a Commerce Department report that said the US labor market extended its rebound for a fourth month in August, with the unemployment rate falling by almost 2 percentage points, to 8.4%. The much better-than-expected improvement in the jobless rate spanned demographic groups, while the payroll gains of 1.37 million were broad-based across industries. Other recent economic data have been mixed, however. While a measure of manufacturing expanded in August at its fastest pace since late 2018, consumer spending--the heart of the U.S. economy--decelerated in July, Bloomberg noted. Powell suggested that more support for the unemployed and small businesses may be necessary to help Americans hard hit by the coronavirus crisis. Lawmakers remain deadlocked on another aid package, with Democrats pushing for a much bigger program than Republicans and the White House are willing to agree to. There was also some welcome news from the administration, the Washington Post reported. It said that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi D, Calif., have agreed to work on a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown Oct. 1, weeks before the election. “The speaker and I have agreed we don't want to see a government shutdown,” Mnuchin said. Mnuchin said he expects a “continuing resolution” to extend government funding into December— although the date has not yet been agreed on. Without action by Congress, agency funding would expire at midnight Sept. 30, and the government would begin to shut down. Mnuchin's comments suggest that the White House is not girding for a clash over this spending deadline, though White House officials have in the past tried to negotiate deals with Democrats in Congress only to have President Trump announce that he is opposed at the last moment. A spending bill into December would allow lawmakers to return to the Capitol for a “lame-duck” session following the election and complete spending legislation for the 2021 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Short-term spending bills have become routine for Congress in recent years as lawmakers have failed to reach “on time” agreement on the 12 annual must-pass spending bills that fund the government agencies. This so-called “discretionary spending” accounts for about one-third of the overall federal budget, while programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that continue automatically from year to year make up the rest. The House leadership confirmed earlier this past week that Speaker Pelosi supports passage of a so-called “clean CR,” meaning a government funding bill without extraneous legislation attached. “The good news is we've agreed on a clean CR, and I hope by the end of the week, we can begin moving forward with that, because that's important to the American people,” Mnuchin said. “The most important thing is to make sure at the end of the month, we don't shut down the government and we get something past the election,” he said. At the same time, Mnuchin repeated his view that more stimulus is needed for the economy. The Washington Post noted that talks on additional coronavirus economic relief legislation broke down in August and have remained stalled. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol today and leaders in both parties say they hope to reach agreement on a new coronavirus relief bill. But they remain far apart and it's unclear whether a deal will be possible. Democrats are unwilling to agree to legislation that spends less than $2 trillion, while Republicans say that figure is too high. Senate GOP leaders have been hoping to try advancing a slimmed-down bill costing about $500 billion, but they've struggled to reach agreement even on that. The latest hang-up involves a push by Sen. Ted Cruz R-Texas, for a school-choice provision opposed by some fellow Republicans. Sen. John Barrasso R-Wyo., a member of the Senate GOP leadership, said Sunday that Senate Republicans anticipate opposition from Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer D-N.Y., to their emerging bill. “We have a targeted package that the Republicans want to put forward to help people get back to work,” Barrasso said on Sunday.” “There's paycheck protection money in there for our small businesses to continue. I expect Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to block that,” Barrasso said. So, we will see. The general mood in Washington is as toxic as ever, and may even be worsening, observers say. As always, the spending and antivirus proposals should be watched closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


EPA's Wheeler Promises More Regulatory Easing If Trump Reelected President Trump would continue his efforts to ease regulatory burdens on businesses if re-elected for a second term, while also working to eliminate slowdowns that have delayed Superfund projects, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler said. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Wheeler said a second term for the Trump administration would allow his agency to press forward with measures such as including a cost-benefit analysis of any new regulations. He would also push for expanded “science transparency,” requiring the scientific justification behind new regulations to be disclosed. Wheeler expanded on his priorities for a possible second Trump term Thursday (September 3) at the Nixon presidential library in Yorba Linda, Calif. The event commemorated the 50th anniversary of President Nixon establishing EPA in 1970. “The EPA's mission has been straight forward since its founding: protect human health and the environment,” Wheeler said in remarks at the event.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


Peterson Urges Deal on Brazil Ethanol Duties House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is urging the Trump administration to quickly reach a deal with Brazil to scrap its duties on U.S. ethanol. Tariffs on U.S. ethanol to Brazil stand at 20% after an earlier tariff-rate quota (TRQ) arrangement expired August 31. “Brazil's move to increase tariffs on American ethanol is more bad news for our producers. The Trump Administration should continue working with Brazilian officials to restore the duty-free access that was in place from 2012 to 2017,” Peterson said in a Friday (September 4) statement. “Tariff wars have consequences, and our biofuels producers are seeing that firsthand," Peterson remarked of the lack of an agreement to head off the higher duties.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Early Tuesday, traders are back from the three-day weekend, checking the latest weather forecasts and waiting to see if USDA has an export sale announcement at 8 a.m. CDT. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Weather Tuesday features a broad swath of rain from the western Plains to the Great Lakes along with some snow in the High Plains. Rainfall will range from light to moderate with locally heavy amounts. Drought areas of the western Corn Belt will see the best rain since June. The rain will improve soil moisture but arrives too late to add to corn and soybean yields. Conditions will be very cool north with some freeze potential through Wednesday. Southern areas have very warm to hot conditions in store; favorable for early row crop harvest but further drying out pastures and livestock water in the far Southern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


Survey Shows Farmers Strongly Support President Trump A new Farm Futures poll shows farmers significantly plan to support President Donald Trump in the November election. The poll asked the question, “If the presidential election was held today, would you vote for President Trump?” Just over 1,000 producers responded, with 75 percent saying yes. In 2018, 60 percent said yes to the same question, following the start of the U.S.-China trade war. Meanwhile, 66 percent of farmers said yes to the same question in 2019. In the most recent Farm Futures survey, Trump received high “grades” from farmers on his handling of agriculture, domestic issues and foreign policy. In 2017, nearly 50 percent of farmers gave him either an A or B grade on his handling of agriculture and 44.5 percent on foreign policy. In 2018, his handling of agriculture slipped to 47.1 percent. In Farm Futures’ current survey, Trump received a score of 67 percent as an A or B grade on his handling of agriculture, and 63 percent on foreign policy. ************************************************************************************ Another Private Yield Forecast Predicts Record Crop Another private crop forecast predicts a record corn harvest for 2020. Main Street Data forecast the 2020 national corn yield at 178.1 bushels per acre for corn. Despite setbacks from storms and a lack of rain, the forecast still surpasses the last national yield record, set in 2017 at 176.6 bushels per acre. However, Iowa corn yield was reduced further, thanks to derecho damage and a lack of rain. With Iowa and neighboring states reeling from the August 10 derecho, a lack of rain is now worsening yield forecasts for corn. Main Street forecasts Iowa corn loss at 185 million bushels. This puts Iowa's final yield forecast at 195.7 bushels per acre, compared to the Iowa record of 203 bushels per acre. With no derecho damage and good soil moisture, Indiana forecasts for both corn and beans may hit records, conversely, showing how yield can vary widely between states. ************************************************************************************ Roberts, Klobuchar Lead Request for Wheat Grower Assistance A group of farm-state Senators seeks CARES Act funds for wheat growers to address price impacts from COVID-19. Led by Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, the Senators sent the request to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week. For U.S. wheat farmers, the Senators write," COVID-19 and other factors outside their control continue to depress the price of wheat." The lawmakers say the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program is providing critical assistance to many producers impacted by COVID-19, including at-risk 2019 crop losses for hard red spring and durum wheat. While this assistance remains important to those producers, these classes of wheat represent approximately 30 percent of 2019 production, leaving the majority of wheat farmers without access to assistance through the CFAP program. The Senators cite the August WASDE that projects world ending stocks at a record of 316.8 million tons, saying record world ending stocks, caused in part by the impacts of COVID-19, are expected to significantly depress wheat prices. ************************************************************************************ AFBF: Investigation is Positive Step Towards Fixing Trade Imbalances The American Farm Bureau Federation calls the Trump administration investigation to remedy damages to U.S. produce farmers a positive step. The Department of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative’s office this week announced a plan to investigate and help produce farmers harmed by increased imports from other countries. USTR is requesting the International Trade Commission focus on blueberries. Imports of fresh fruits and vegetables have increased dramatically over the past 25 years, driving down prices for domestically grown produce. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall testified about the concerns of produce farmers at a USTR hearing in August. Duvall says, “We appreciate the work that has been done in recent trade deals to level the playing field for America’s farmers and ranchers, but this investigation demonstrates there are still imbalances that must be addressed.” As part of the plan, USDA will conduct targeted outreach to produce farmers to maximize the use of existing USDA programs. USDA says it will also develop a market promotion strategy for domestically produced produce. ************************************************************************************ Ethanol Production Leveling, Down 13% From Pre-COVID Levels Recent federal data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending August 28, ethanol production eased one percent. Production remained nine percent below the same week in 2019 due to the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.2 percent, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.16 billion gallons. Ethanol stocks grew 2.3 percent, which was 12.3 percent below year-ago volumes. Inventories increased across all regions except the Gulf Coast. The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, contracted by 4.1 percent. Gasoline demand remained 7.2 percent lower than a year ago. Meanwhile, this week, GasBuddy reports Hurricane Laura prompted a massive drop in crude oil and gasoline inventories. That news comes as GasBuddy says Labor Day Weekend gas prices are at the lowest levels since 2004. GasBuddy predicts a national average of $2.19 per gallon, down nearly 37 cents from last year and the lowest priced Labor Day since 2004’s $1.82 per gallon average. ************************************************************************************ USDA Designates 18 Iowa Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas The Department of Agriculture Thursday designated 18 Iowa counties as primary natural disaster areas. The designation enables producers who suffered losses from the August derecho to be eligible for emergency loans. Additionally, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reminded producers about the suite of disaster assistance programs available through USDA, including program flexibilities and a special signup through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Secretary Perdue visited Iowa Thursday to assess damages in the state. The natural disaster designations allow the Farm Service Agency to extend emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs, including replacing essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation, or the refinancing of certain debts. Meanwhile, to assistant other states impacted by the Derecho, the FSA has streamlined the environmental compliance review process for the Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program, Emergency Loan Program, Farm Storage Facility Program, and Tree Assistance Program.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Growing Fiscal and Monetary Fights Every day now, it seems there are new examples of the increasing political toxicity in Washington and a good bit of that angst concerns the Fed, even as a nominee for the Board of Governors continues to draw strong pushback. And, enduring concerns about debt levels increasingly shadow efforts to offset the impacts of the coronavirus. This week, Bloomberg is reporting that a group of more than 100 prominent economists--including seven Nobel Prize laureates--signed a new open letter to U.S. senators urging them to reject President Donald Trump's nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. The new letter is nearly identical to one published in August by former Federal Reserve officials and staffers, a letter that now has 70 signatories, including four former regional Fed presidents and a former Fed governor. Those writers argue that Shelton's views on monetary policy and economics are “so extreme and ill-considered as to be an unnecessary distraction” from the tasks facing the US central bank as it deals with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The new letter's signatories include seven winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Bloomberg says. Shelton's nomination was voted out of committee on a party-line vote in July and she now awaits approval by the full Senate--but no vote has yet been scheduled for her or fellow nominee Christopher Waller, research director at the St. Louis Fed. Shelton, an informal adviser to the President's 2016 campaign, has drawn significant criticism for policy views many consider well outside the mainstream--including a history of admiration for the gold standard--and for being a political loyalist who might bend to Trump's will. Still, she appeared to abandon her advocacy for ultra-tight monetary policy when she emerged as a Fed candidate, publicly aligning herself with the President's calls for lower interest rates—and now insists that “no one will tell her what to do.” In the meantime, The Hill reported this week that negotiations for additional virus relief continue amid reports from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that emphasize an increasingly gloomy outlook for large deficits. For example, CBO says the deficit for fiscal 2020 will more than double the previous high--$1.4 trillion in 2009 during the height of the Great Recession. Overall, the debt is on track to surpass 100% of GDP next year and break its World War II record by 2023, CBO says. Republican leaders say they aren't firmly opposed to another relief measure, but they're harshly critical of the one put forth by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., so the Senate leadership is working to advance a “skinny” $500 billion relief bill. A vote on that measure could come as early as next week, posing a test for what level of support Senate Republicans can muster in their own party for a bill that's less than half their initial offer. Those efforts are separate from stalled negotiations between Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on one side and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on the other. Meadows, in particular, has put the fiscal issue front and center. As a congressman and cofounder of the conservative Freedom Caucus, Meadows frequently railed against bipartisan spending deals because of the hit to the deficit. Mnuchin, meanwhile, is striking a slightly more optimistic tone, saying in congressional testimony Tuesday that President Trump agreed that some level of fiscal aid was still necessary. “Let me say I very much agree with you and those other experts that more fiscal response is needed. The president and I want to move forward with more fiscal response,” he said. While Democrats have come down from $3.4 trillion to $2.2 trillion and Republicans have come up to $1.3 trillion, they remain bitterly divided over hundreds of billions of dollars in proposed aid to state and local government. Fiscal experts, including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, say bold stimulus measures are needed to help the country dig its way out of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and several longtime advocates for fiscal restraint argue that even with the new CBO report, debt concerns should not stand in the way of a strong response to the pandemic. “The warning bells this report contains should not cause a premature end to borrowing, but a commitment to dealing with the debt at the appropriate time,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, added that borrowing now could help lead to a stronger recovery and ultimately put the country in a better position to address the debt. “The strange reality is that for the nation's long-term budget picture to get better, it must get even worse in the short term,” he said. “Doing so will give our economy the best shot to bounce back, and a good recovery now will help lessen budget shortfalls in coming years.” So, we will see. The fight to control the virus continues to be central for most policy makers, even as the struggle to stimulate the economic recovery gains in importance—and the pre-election maneuvering on the pandemic and the economy overshadows virtually all other policy debates nationwide, fights producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


FMCSA Proposes Pilot Program to Allow Pause in Hours of Service (HOS) The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing a pilot program to allow temporary regulatory relief from hours-of-service (HOS) requirement that all driving by drivers has to be completed within 14 hours of them starting duty. The Split Duty Period Pilot Program would allow participating drives to pause their 14-hour on-duty period with one off-duty period of at least 30 minutes but no more than 3 hours. The plan would be limited to a those holding a commercial driver's license that meets specified criteria. “This pilot program seeks to gather statistically reliable evidence whether decisions concerning the timing of such flexibility can be aligned with employers', shippers', and receivers' scheduling preferences to optimize productivity while ensuring safety performance at a level equivalent to or greater than what would be achieved absent the regulatory relief,” FMCSA said in a notice in Thursday's (September 3) Federal Register. There would be criteria for both motor carriers and drivers to be able to participate, including the carriers cannot have any enforcement actions within the past three years and cannot have a crash rate above the national average. For drivers, they cannot have had their license suspended, revoked or cancelled and cannot have had a conviction for a violation of state or local motor vehicle traffic control laws in connection with an at-fault crash. The pilot program could last up to three years. There will be a 60-day comment period on the plan.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


USTR's Doud Upbeat About Phase One Trade Deal Progress US Chief Ag Negotiator Gregg Doud briefed state ag officials on the latest ag trade policy developments at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) meeting this week. Topics included a new enforcement mechanism for Canadian dairy commitments relative to the USMCA, China's progress towards meeting its commitments under the Phase One trade deal and work towards a new free trade agreement with the UK. On China, Doud reported “great progress in terms of the procedural aspects of [the Phase One] agreement and China's compliance with something like 50 of 56 or 58 procedural requirements,” according to Washington State Agriculture Director Derek Sandison. He said Doud also pointed to an increase in the pace of China's US ag commodity purchases, especially relative to corn and soybeans.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT, the U.S. Labor Department will report on nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate for August -- two important indicators of how the economy is handling coronavirus challenges. Traders continue to watch the latest weather forecasts and any trade news that emerges ahead of the three-day weekend. Trading in U.S. futures markets picks up again Monday evening, due to Labor Day. Weather Friday will be dry to finish out the week over almost all crop areas. Rain in central and eastern Texas will be the only precipitation occurrence. Temperatures will be below normal in the Midwest and near to above normal elsewhere. A strong cold front will move from the Canadian Prairies into the north-central U.S. Sunday through Tuesday, offering the best chance for precipitation during the five-day period. The Pacific Ocean 30-day Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) value indicates weak La Nina conditions at plus 10.49.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


Aid Increases 2020 Farm Income Projections The Department of Agriculture says farmers will earn more net farm income in 2020 due to federal relief programs. Net cash farm income is forecast to increase $4.9 billion to $115.2 billion. In inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars, net farm income is forecast to increase $18.3 billion, and net cash farm income is forecast to increase $4 billion. If realized, both income measures would be above their historical average across 2000-2019 when adjusted for inflation. However, the increase is not because of better prices or markets. USDA says overall, farm cash receipts are forecast to decrease $12.3 billion to $358.3 billion in 2020. Total animal receipts are expected to decline $14.3 billion, and total crop receipts are forecast to increase $2.0 billion from 2019 levels. USDA says direct government farm payments, including federal aid but not loans and insurance, are forecast at $37.2 billion, a $14.7 billion, or 65.7 percent increase. USDA says the expected increase is due to supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance for COVID-19 relief. ************************************************************************************ Barchart Releases September Yield Forecast Barchart Tuesday released its September 2020 yield forecast. The September cmdty (commodity) Yield Forecast for end of season yield is forecast at 178.4 bushels per acre for corn and 50.5 for soybeans in the United States. The forecast represents an increase in yield compared to the August report, which forecasted end of season yield for corn 174.8 bushels per acre and end of season yield for soybeans 49.2. The corn estimate comes in above the Pro Farmer Crop Tour estimate last month of 177.5 bushels per acre, and below the Pro Farmer soybean estimate of 52.5. Released on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season, the Barchart forecast allows users to get insights to guide their business decisions ahead of USDA’s World Agriculture Supply and Demand report. USDA will release the September WASDE next Friday, September 11. Barchart is a provider of market data and services to the global financial, media, and commodity industries. ************************************************************************************ AFBF Market Intel: Cash Rents Stable in 2020 Farmland cash rent rates remain stable in 2020, according to a Market Intel analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The analysis found that during 2020, the average cash rental rates for cropland, irrigated cropland and pastureland were $139 per acre, $216 per acre and $13 per acre, respectively. These rates were mostly in line with prior-year levels. AFBF Chief Economist John Newton says the stability in cash rental rates is likely due to various factors, including Market Facilitation Program payments, ad hoc disaster aid, and increased off-farm income. All of these factors allow farmers to remain competitive when bidding for cash lease agreements. However, Newton writes, “Moving into 2021, the farm economic outlook is uncertain.” Off-farm income is certain to be lower given the high levels of unemployment following COVID-19. However, support through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program could help farmers remain competitive when bidding for cash rental agreements this fall and into the spring. ************************************************************************************ USTR Announces Plan to Help Produce Farmers The Trump administration this week released a report outlining its plan to address the threat posed by increased foreign imports to American producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables. The plan follows public hearings held in August, where more than 60 witnesses testified, in addition to over 300 written submissions. USTR will request the International Trade Commission to initiate a safeguard investigation into the extent to which increased imports of blueberries have caused serious injury to domestic blueberry growers. USTR will also pursue senior-level government-to-government discussions with Mexico over the next 90 days to address U.S. industry concerns regarding U.S. imports of Mexican strawberries, bell peppers, and other seasonal and perishable products. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture will conduct targeted outreach to producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables to maximize the use of existing USDA programs. USDA says it will also develop a market promotion strategy for domestically produced produce. ************************************************************************************ Cooler Weather and Freeze Risk Ahead The U.S. weather forecast calls for cooler temperatures next week, and agriculture commodity trade experts say the chance of frost and freeze cannot be ruled out. Jim Bower of Bower Trading in his daily newsletter Wednesday wrote, "Wednesday of next week will bring some frost potential to western Nebraska and immediate neighboring areas as well as a few areas in the eastern Dakotas into Minnesota." The forecast suggests that Tuesday will bring frost and freezes to the eastern Canada Prairies, possibly ending the growing season for some areas and possibly pushing some feeze conditions into the northwestern Plains. For Wednesday, Bower says a few freezes cannot be ruled out for the eastern Dakotas, the northwest half of Minnesota and possibly in a couple of western Nebraska locations, but most other temperatures will be above the damage threshold. However, Bower says, the forecast suggests temperatures will not be cold enough to seriously threaten crops as most crop should be mature enough and not be a major factor. ************************************************************************************ Farm Aid Hosting Virtual Festival September 26 Farm Aid will mark its 35th anniversary with a virtual at-home festival experience. Farm Aid 2020 On the Road, scheduled for Saturday, September 26, will include performances from more than 20 artists. The three-hour event will be streamed at FarmAid.org, on Farm Aid's YouTube channel, AXS TV and Fans.com. Farm Aid's 35th anniversary comes at a time of unprecedented uncertainty. Organizers say, “The impacts of COVID-19 have revealed the fragility and injustice in our food system,” adding that for farmers, “thousands are at risk of going under.” The virtual festival will showcase stories from farmers from across the country who were invited to share why they farm, how they manage to stay resilient, and their vision of the future of agriculture. The goal of the virtual festival is to raise funds for and awareness of the organization and its mission, which it typically does through ticket sales to the annual in-person music and food festival. Farm Aid accepts donations year-round at www.farmaid.org/donate.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Searching For A New WTO Leader In a development that is mostly under the press radar, Bloomberg is reporting that a campaign to lead the World Trade Organization during the most turbulent period of its 25-year existence is now under way. The contest is playing out against the backdrop of a pandemic, a worldwide recession, the U.S.-China battle for trade supremacy and the American presidential election. However, the development “also could offer an opportunity for the U.S., the European Union and other nations to reshape the organization. The Geneva-based WTO's mission of economic integration is under threat from protectionist policies around the globe and without reform it risks being sidelined during the biggest economic crisis in a century. The world's largest economies agree that the organization must evolve to address the shifts in technology and in the global trading system that have occurred since 1995. If members can align behind a candidate committed to modernization it could break bureaucratic logjams and help unleash a wave of global growth at a time when it is needed most. If no such candidate can be found, the WTO risks further receding into irrelevance. The WTO's appellate body, the main forum for settling worldwide trade disagreements, lost its capacity in December 2019 to rule on new disputes. That resulted from a U.S. refusal over the previous two years to consider any nominees to fill vacancies on the panel. WTO members can still bring disputes to the trade body and receive an initial ruling but that can be appealed into legal limbo. The U.S. imposition of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tariffs against China, and use of the WTO's national security loophole to levy duties on steel and aluminum, have also weakened the organization. The chairman of the WTO general council launched a selection procedure in June to confirm the trade body's next director-general. The council is endeavoring to narrow the field of eight candidates by holding confidential consultations with each of the WTO's 164 members. These consultations, known as “confessionals,” will be conducted by the WTO's three highest-ranking delegates, known as “the troika” which will hold three rounds of consultations and gradually narrow the field by identifying the candidates who are “least likely to attract consensus” and asking them to step down. The goal is to choose a consensus candidate by Nov. 7. WTO rules require candidates to have “extensive experience in international relations, encompassing economic, trade and/or political experience; a firm commitment to the work and objectives of the WTO; proven leadership and managerial ability; and demonstrated communications skills.” Member governments hope the next director-general can persuade members to complete much-needed reforms of the organization. Trade officials in Geneva broadly argue that the next leader should have sufficient personal authority and capability to marshal broad support around the WTO's reform agenda. That means strong consideration should be given to candidates who have, at the very least, some experience as a minister, Bloomberg says. In addition, there is a strong push among Geneva trade delegates to select a woman leader for the first time. However, several free-trade advocates like Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Washington-based Asia Society Policy Institute, argue that WTO members should try to avoid placing gender constraints on the selection process. The successful candidate must also thread a narrow diplomatic needle and steer clear of efforts that displease either the U.S. or China – whose bitter conflict over a growing array of issues including technology and the pandemic is testing their fragile economic truce. The U.S. administration has actively sought to undermine the WTO's ability to function, saying it has infringed on American sovereignty and enabled China to become a big economic player globally at the expense of U.S. jobs and manufacturing. Adding to the unpredictability factor, President Trump is up for re-election in November, so American tolerance for a candidate who looks too favorably on China might be tested. Meanwhile, China has engaged in a multi-year campaign to expand its diplomatic influence by installing key personnel at the top levels of international decision-making bodies. The WTO will remain leaderless until members select a permanent director-general – because member governments failed to choose an interim caretaker prior to the departure on Sept. 1 of the former DG. The WTO's four deputy directors-general are jointly overseeing the organization's housekeeping matters. If WTO members are unable to select a leader by consensus, a vote requiring a qualified majority could be held as a last resort – an unprecedented step in the organization's 25-year history. So, we will see. The Internal U.S. fight over trade policy is far from over and likely will continue to be prolonged and bitter—and should be watched closely by producers as the campaigns emerge and are debated, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


Commerce Postpones Preliminary, Final Determinations in Fertilizer Case The Commerce Department will delay the preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of imports of phosphate fertilizer from Morocco and Russia until no later than November 23, with a final determination to follow within 75 days. The original preliminary determination deadline was September 21, but law allows for a delay if Commerce determines it is needed or the petitioner in the case makes a timely request to postpone the preliminary determination. The petitioner — The Mosaic Company — submitted its request August 20, saying “additional time is needed for {Commerce} to analyze fully the questionnaire responses, issue supplemental questionnaires as appropriate, and prepare an accurate preliminary determination.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


USTR Outlines Plans On Seasonal, Perishable Vegetables The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has laid out the plans the administration plans to take relative to imports of seasonal and perishable produce, including senior-level government-to-government discussions with Mexico over the next 90 days “to address U.S. industry concerns regarding U.S. imports of Mexican strawberries, bell peppers, and other seasonal and perishable products.” USTR will also request the International Trade Commission (ITC) initiate a Section 201 safeguard investigation on imports of blueberries and will work with domestic producers for ITC to monitor and investigate imports of strawberries and bell peppers, a move that could enable an expedited Section 201 global safeguard investigation later this year. The Commerce Department will set up a program for outreach to Southeastern growers of seasonable and perishable fruits and vegetables to help them understand trade remedy laws and processes and set up a channel for them to provide information on unfair subsidies to foreign producers and exporters of these products, including those in Mexico. USDA will boost outreach to producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables on existing USDA programs, develop a marketing promotion strategy for those crops domestically produced and open conversations with key federal partners to better understand how imports of those products are utilized to enable criminal activity. The three agencies will set up an interagency working group to monitor the situation and USTR said this does not rule out “additional actions and investigations by the Trump administration” to support these producers. The effort comes after two public hearings USTR held in August on the situation.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Another busy Thursday morning starts with weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, the July U.S. trade deficit and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, all at 7:30 a.m. CDT. U.S. natural gas inventory is at 9:30 a.m. CDT. The latest weather forecasts and any trade news will also be watched. Weather Thursday will be dry across most primary crop areas. Rain will be confined to the northern Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and southeast Texas to portions of the Deep South. Temperatures will be cooler in northern areas and very warm to hot elsewhere. Frost and freeze chances for next week are much lower than indicated earlier this week. The Australia Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) 30-day value for the equatorial Pacific Ocean is plus 10.72, indicating a weak La Nina event.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


Farmers Showing Optimism in Latest Ag Economy Barometer Farmers were more optimistic in August, as the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rose to a reading of 144, 26 points higher than a month earlier. Organizers say the improvement resulted from improved perceptions regarding current conditions and better expectations for the future. The Index of Current Conditions rose 13 points in August to 124 while the Index of Future Expectations rose 33 points to 154. This month's improvement was underpinned by expectations for excellent crop yields, as indicated in the Department of Agriculture's August Crop Production report, and nearly across the board rallies in key ag commodity prices in August. The barometer and its two sub-indices all posted their most positive readings since February 2020, when record highs were established and before the coronavirus pandemic began. Producers also indicated they were more optimistic about agricultural exports increasing than in recent months, perhaps due to recent news about additional export sales to China. ************************************************************************************ EPA Proposes Streamlined Biotech Approvals for Crops A proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency would streamline the regulation of certain plant-incorporated protectants. The proposal allows biotech crops containing pesticide traits to be exempt from select regulations if they meet certain reporting requirements. Specifically, the EPA proposes exemptions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for certain plant-incorporated protectants created through biotechnology. The Agency has preliminarily determined that these substances meeting the exemption criteria have no risks of concern to humans or the environment. Under the proposed exemption, the EPA would require developers of the biotech crops to submit either a self-determination letter or a request for the EPA confirmation that their product meets the exemption criteria. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the new rule “will provide critical new tools for America’s farmers as they work to increase agricultural productivity.” The proposal is part of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products. ************************************************************************************ NMPF: Food Chain Adapting to Coronavirus The coronavirus crisis is far from over, but the food supply chain has adapted effectively, according to the National Milk Producer Federation. NMPF chief counsel Clay Detlefsen says, “We’ve got the food industry on the right track.” However, he concedes, “It won’t be easy to keep us there.” Early challenges in acquiring enough Personal Protective Equipment and redesigning workplaces to keep workers safe have been largely met, but the continued circulation of the virus itself makes it challenging for businesses to be completely confident disruptions may be avoided. Progress continues in making sure supplies are manufactured in adequate quantities, as well as in understanding how the virus is spread and how to prevent it. Detlefsen of NMPF is also the private-sector chair of the Food and Agricultural Sector Coordinating Council. The council was set up after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks to share information between government agencies and private businesses during crises that affect the U.S. food-supply chain. ************************************************************************************ Farmland Ownership Interest Growing The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn more interest in farmland ownership. Farmers National Company says there is a growing interest by individuals and investment funds in owning land. Part of this interest is because of COVID-19’s impact on their investment psychology and the desire to invest in a stable, long-term real asset. The company says people are thinking about the food supply chain and sustainability of the food supply and deciding that they want to own an important part of how food is produced. Over the past several years, there has been somewhat less good quality cropland for sale than average with 2020 seeing even less for a number of months after the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, there is additional farmland coming up for sale once again, with part of that being the normal seasonal upswing and part being people who have been thinking of selling deciding to go ahead and sell, providing some opportunity for farmers and investors alike. ************************************************************************************ Farmers are Participating in Virtual Farm Shows Farm Journal reports more than 50,000 farmers participated in its New American Farm Show experience. The ten-day experience included the Pro Farmer Crop Tour, Farm Journal Field Days and the #FarmON Benefit Concert. A survey of participants found 70 percent considered the overall experience as very good or outstanding. Meanwhile, 85 percent plan to participate in another virtual event, and 77 percent took action to learn more about a company or product they engaged with in the event trade show. Virtual farm shows and events are the new normal for 2020, and potentially the future. Farm Journal CEO Andy Weber says farmers “conducted business exponentially more efficiently than ever before, and that's a trend that's here to stay." The next major virtual farm show offering on the schedule is the 2020 Farm Progress Show, scheduled for September 15 – 17. The show combines Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days into one virtual event, including educational sessions, live insights from farmers, and unique product features. ************************************************************************************ Restaurant Industry Promoting National Food Safety Month The National Restaurant Association is promoting food safety training, celebrating Food Safety Month through September. As the country continues to battle COVID-19, ensuring that proper safety protocols are in place at restaurants has never been more important for guests, employees and brands. Through its ServSafe program, the association’s food safety and training certification program, the organization is boosting food safety training and risk management with an educational campaign this month. Organizers say the campaign will focus on best practices for a safe dining experience and is essential as the industry does all it can to keep its restaurants clean and sanitized, and employees educated about how they can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. National Food Safety Month will take place over a five-week period. Each week will focus on a single topic. Weekly topics include personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing, safe food preparation, food safety procedures and COVID-19 Safety Procedures.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Political Tension Over Antivirus Efforts Continues to Grow Amid the tensions involving House investigations panel threats to subpoena documents from the U.S. Postal Service, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he expects Congress to rely on a continuing resolution to fund the government after the current fiscal year concludes at the end of September. The Postal Service has become the center of political clash between Democrats and President Trump. Nevertheless, Hoyer thinks “it is likely that we will pass a continuing resolution to keep government open past the end of this fiscal year. The House will do its job to avert a shutdown that would only further damage our economy,” Hoyer said, according to a Bloomberg report. In the meantime, state and local governments are ramping up their lobbying efforts to prod Congress to approve billions in additional coronavirus aid to help them grapple with dismal budget projections and the limits on existing relief funding. The effort comes as congressional and White House negotiators are stalemated on another pandemic relief package, and with state and local funding a sticking point between the parties. “State and local governments don't have the luxury of sort of letting the chips fall where they may,” said Leslie Pollner, a senior policy adviser at Holland & Knight whose clients include Phoenix, Seattle and the City and County of San Francisco. “They literally are on the phone every day — either they are or we are — trying to try to push on this.” Sixty-one state and local governments have retained lobbying firms since the beginning of March, as the pandemic began battering their budgets, Bloomberg said. A group of seven different associations representing state and local governments, including the National Governors Association, the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities, banded together to leverage their contacts on Capitol Hill and K Street. The National Governors Association hired the Duberstein Group in April, its first lobbying firm since 2017. Its team of advocates includes a former senior GOP Senate aide, David Schiappa, and a former White House official from the Trump administration, Ben Howard. Even with “rainy day” savings, states and localities have been hard hit by declining revenues, including from reduced tax and fee payments caused by the pandemic and from increased coronavirus-related spending on items such as testing and personal protective equipment. Furloughs, layoffs and budget cuts could delay or cut services, infrastructure and capital projects, the groups say. They argue the impacts could be seen at public schools, hospitals, libraries, transit agencies, and police and fire departments. “It really could have a domino effect,” said Paul Guequierre, the communications director for the National Association of Counties. “We're feeling the impact now and we expect to feel the impact for quite some time.” States project a shortfall of more than $550 billion through fiscal year 2022, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The National Association of Counties says it expects a $202 billion impact to county budgets through fiscal year 2021, including the $30 billion counties likely will spend on the COVID-19 response. Cities are anticipating $360 billion in lost revenue between 2020 and 2022, according to the National League of Cities. During the second quarter of this year, as the coronavirus pandemic spread, 659 governments and associations shelled out $15.1 million to lobby the federal government. Territories, states, localities and the associations that represent them spent $14.2 million on their lobbying efforts for the same period in 2019, Bloomberg says. The National Governors Association has asked Congress for $500 billion in aid for states and territories, the same amount requested by the National League of Cities for county and municipal governments to use over the next two years. In May, Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., introduced legislation that would create a $500 billion stabilization fund for state and local governments. The following week, House Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief package that would have provided almost $1 trillion to state and local governments. Neither measure has gained any traction in the Senate, Bloomberg says. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., didn't include such aid in his latest “skinny” pandemic package. The first round of coronavirus relief that Congress passed in March contained $150 billion for state governments and $3 billion for the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. State and local government officials, however, say the guidelines for how the money can be used keeps changing and they worry about either spending it all at once or the potential that it could be clawed back. The federal stimulus funds were only directed to states and cities with populations of 500,000 or more people, and “the principal focus has to be on how to rectify that,” said former Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., who left Capitol Hill last year and now works as a policy director at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Royce, who is among the lobbyists at the firm hired by the National League of Cities in May, said he's talking to many of his former Republican colleagues. Getting municipal governments back on their feet is “going to require considerable resources,” he said, “but the thumb was on the scale last time to such an extent that there wasn't support for local communities.” So, we will see. There have been modest reports of renewed negotiations on further relief efforts, but tensions certainly remain high. Certainly, producers should watch these support efforts closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


USDA's Perdue Assures State Ag Leaders Another CFAP Round is Coming USDA worked quickly to get payments pushed out via the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue told the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) that a coming second round of aid could help address shortcomings the department had to grapple with as it initially pushed to get aid out the door. Since CFAP only covered losses incurred through April 15, there has been criticism from those in agriculture how say that there were sizable losses that happened after that date. “We have listened and will be coming with a CFAP 2 program,” Perdue said, which will address that issue. Expectations are the CFAP 2 effort should be announced soon and signup is expected to start shortly after the effort gets announced.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


CFAP Payouts Top $9.4 Billion USDA has now either paid out or has payments in review for disbursement totaling $9.445 billion as of August 31 under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), an increase of more than $220 million from the prior week. That includes $4.695 billion for livestock, $2.475 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.715 billion for dairy, $528 million for specialty crops, and $29.7 million for aqua nursery flora. The by-commodity breakdown includes $4.066 billion for cattle, $1.714 billion for milk, $1.667 billion for corn, $582.8 million for hogs, $477.9 million for soybeans, and $242.7 million for upland cotton. States with $500 million or more in payments are Iowa ($934.7 million), Nebraska ($678.8 million), Minnesota ($583.2 million) Texas ($561.1 million), California ($540.7 million), and Wisconsin ($509.6 million).

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 1, 2020 |


USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids Through December 31, 2020 The Department of Agriculture Monday extended free meals for kids through December 31. The announcement, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, allows summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. The flexibilities include permitting meals to be served outside of the typically required group settings and mealtimes, waiving meal pattern requirements and allowing parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children. Democrats have asked Perdue to make the flexibilities available for the full 2020-2021 school year. Previously criticizing failure to do so, Debbie Stabenow, a Senate Democrat from Michigan and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, says, “I’m pleased the USDA has finally listened and agreed to extend important school meals flexibilities." In the announcement, USDA says, "while there have been some well-meaning people asking USDA to fund this through the entire 2020-2021 school year, we are obligated to not spend more than is appropriated by Congress." ************************************************************************************ House Democrats Allege Secretary Perdue Violated Hatch Act House Democrats claim Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue violated the Hatch Act during a visit to a Farmers to Families Food Box Distributor. Led by Democrat Marcia Fudge of Ohio, a group of lawmakers made the claim in a letter to the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Ethics. Specifically, the letter cites a potential Hatch Act violation by Perdue after he made political statements promoting the President’s re-election at the official government event on August 24. The letter follows the Republican National Convention, in which the lawmakers claim, “included several possible violations of the Hatch Act over the course of four days.” While referring to attendees of the event, Perdue states, “they and many others are going to vote for you for four more years in 2020.” Noting the Hatch Act prohibits executive branch employees from using their official position to influence the result of an election, the lawmakers requested information on Departmental travel to ensure USDA is complying with the Hatch Act. ************************************************************************************ States Challenge Trump NEPA Changes A group of 27 attorneys generals last week filed a lawsuit challenging changes to the National Environmental Policy Act. Led by California and Washington, the coalition claims the changes are unlawful and limits public participation in the review process. In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the final rule abandons informed decision making, public participation and environmental and public health protections in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (Hav-e-air Ber-sair-uh) says, “The Trump Administration has spent the better part of four years trying to roll back critical protections and undo hard-fought progress, particularly when it comes to our environment, public lands, and natural resources.” NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions before making decisions. The Environmental Protection Agency enforces NEPA. In July, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the changes modernize and streamline the federal permitting process required under NEPA and speed up infrastructure projects. ************************************************************************************ Farmer Trust Remains High During COVID-19 Pandemic A new national poll from Charleston Orwig shows consumer trust in farmers remains high amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Charleston Orwig recently partnered with MenuMattters to conduct the poll of more than 1,100 consumers to gauge consumer thoughts on the grocery retail sector. More than half of consumers surveyed still trust farmers a great deal or completely, and overall trust in farmers is 87 percent. Meanwhile, nearly half of all consumers are concerned about the U.S. food supply chain, likely driven by broad shortages during the height of the crisis and media coverage on the possibility of meat shortages. Nearly 75 percent of consumers are concerned about catching coronavirus when grocery shopping, and the level of concern is consistent across all consumer groups surveyed. Just under two-thirds find grocery shopping frustrating to some degree, with women and older Millennials most likely to be very or extremely frustrated by the experience. Also, most consumers are concerned about the health safety of food industry workers-from agriculture through retail. And just over 23 percent are extremely concerned. ************************************************************************************ DFA Seeks to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 30 Percent Dairy Farmers of America seeks to become the first U.S. dairy cooperative to set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The national dairy cooperative is setting a science-based target and committing to reduce both direct and value chain greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. By having their targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative, DFA supports the Paris Agreement's broader goals to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. Additionally, DFA's target is aligned with work of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and its goals for the U.S. dairy industry to become carbon neutral or better by 2050. Ways to reduce greenhouse gasses, according to DFA, includes mitigating methane emissions from cows by supporting advances in feed efficiency, herd nutrition and feed additives designed to reduce emissions. Additionally, the plan calls for using renewable energy methods, anaerobic digesters, capturing emissions through healthy soil and crops and creating transportation and hauling efficiencies to reduce emissions. ************************************************************************************ NASDA Adopts New Strategic Plan The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Board of Directors just adopted a new strategic plan to guide the association for 2020-25. NASDA president-elect and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles chaired the 14-person strategic plan working group comprised of NASDA members. Quarles says the new strategic plan “will guide us as state agricultural officials as we engage many other partners in this critical journey.” NASDA's new mission statement is: Grow and enhance American agriculture through policy, partnerships and public engagement. NASDA's new vision statement is: Agriculture leads the way toward a healthy and resilient world. Over the next five-years, NASDA officials say they will be tackling tough expectations on government affairs, membership engagement, partnerships, and public outreach. Established in 1916, NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


CFAP Deadline is Approaching The USDA’s Farm Service Agency is reminding farmers and ranchers that the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program is September 11. The program is designed to provide direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19. “FSA offers several options for farmers and ranchers to apply for CFAP, including a call center where employees can answer your questions and help you get started on your application,” says Richard Fordyce, Administrator of the Farm Service Agency. “As we get closer to the deadline, now is the time to check out our resources on our website and contact the call center or your local office for your last-minute questions.” Over 160 commodities are eligible for CFAP, including certain non-specialty crops, livestock, dairy, wool, specialty crops, eggs, aquaculture, and nursery crops and cut flowers. All eligible commodities, payment rates, and calculations can be found online at farmers.gov/cfap. Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee who can offer general assistance. This is the recommended first step before producers talk to the team at their local FSA county office. ********************************************************************************************** Top Ag Negotiator Tones Down Approach to Phase One Trade Deal The United States’ top agricultural negotiator appears to have toned down his rhetoric on the Phase One Trade Deal between the U.S. and China. During a speech given to the U.S. Soybean Export Council, Gregg Doud didn’t talk about the binding nature of the deal, its enforcement mechanisms, or the ability to reimpose tariffs. When asked about the sanctions for non-compliance, he stressed the fact that the deal is a two-year commitment. Investing Dot Com says the speech was in sharp contrast to some other appearances by the U.S. Trade Representative’s chief agricultural negotiator. At the USDA’s annual forum back in February, he said both nations would meet every month to discuss progress, while also noting that a lack of compliance could allow each of the nations to impose tariffs equivalent to the size of the damage. During his appearance with USSEC, he said, “Everyone wants to measure month to month, how we are doing there. At least from my perspective, we have to give this some time.” American farm exports to China have been running behind the pace needed to reach the $36.5 billion commitment this year. Shipments for the first six months of 2020 totaled just 23 percent of the overall target. ********************************************************************************************** Grassley Applauds Lower Taiwan Barriers for Beef and Pork Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley applauded Taiwan’s announcement of lower trade barriers for U.S. beef and pork. “Taiwan is taking steps to improve market access for American beef and pork producers by trying to bring its measures in line with international standards,” says Grassley, the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “I welcome this progress because our farmers have been kept out of this market for far too long.” He says Taiwan’s leadership will need to work with the legislature to finalize this process, but that’s expected since Taiwan is a vibrant democracy. “I’ll be following this matter closely and look forward to an improved agricultural and economic relationship between Taiwan and the American people,” he adds. At a press conference last week, the President of Taiwan said she’d instructed the government to ease regulations to allow imports of American pork containing trace amounts of an animal-feed additive used by some U.S. farms, as well as U.S. beef products from cattle age 30 months and older. U.S. officials have long regarded these restrictions as the main barrier to closer trade links with Taiwan. ************************************************************************************ SD Governor Merges Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Departments South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced the merger of the state’s Departments of Agriculture and the Environment and Natural Resources. She says the merger will make for a streamlined South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Hunter Roberts, the current Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, will oversee the new department. Beginning on September 8 and until the merger is complete, Roberts will serve as the interim Secretary of Agriculture while also continuing to lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “Lieutenant Governor Rhoden has stepped up to guide the Department of Agriculture through this important transitional period, and I really appreciate the hard work and leadership,” Noem says. “Agriculture is our number one industry, and under Secretary Roberts’ leadership, this department will serve producers better than before.” Roberts also says that “South Dakotans know our farmers and ranchers are the best conservationists, and this department will promote our number one industry while we simultaneously protect our natural resources.” ********************************************************************************************** Conservation Compliance Final Rule Falls Short The American Farm Bureau says farmers will remain powerless in the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Final Rule made public last week by the USDA. Farm Bureau advocated for clear rules and safeguards to ensure fair treatment of farmers in conservation compliance, but the final rule does not remedy unfair enforcement by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. “After decades without a finalized rule in this area, we finally have one, but it, unfortunately, falls short,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “Farmers and ranchers are some of the strongest advocates of conservation, as demonstrated by the 140 million acres they’ve voluntarily committed to federal conservation programs.” Duvall also says that’s not what this is about. “This is about unfair treatment, which we’ve clearly laid out for USDA in previous comments and many meetings, backed by court rulings,” he adds. The AFB says farmers deserve a fair process and clarity, including an understanding of the exemptions authorized by Congress. They also deserve to be protected from repeated, unjustified, costly decisions by the NRCS. “Although we appreciate recent actions by USDA to rectify historic wrongs, this was a missed opportunity to ensure fairness going forward,” Duvall says. “We will continue to examine this rule and our options to address its shortcomings.” ********************************************************************************************** Farmers to Families Food Box Program Reaches 75 Million Boxes The USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed more than 75 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by COVID-19. President Trump recently announced another $1 billion will be added to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program while the economy continues to reopen. “The delivery of 75 million food boxes has helped an incredible number of Americans in need,” says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. “I couldn’t be prouder of the great job done by the food box program staff and the many farmers, distributors, and non-profits that helped to get this program off the ground for the American people.” Perdue also says the program is almost finished with its second round of deliveries and they’re working harder than ever to continue to build on their success of the program. The third round of purchasing starts on September 1, when USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products. Additional box types will be considered on an as-needed basis.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Economic Inclusiveness Fed Policy POLITICO is reporting this week that the Federal Reserve has unveiled a new policy promoting “broad-based and inclusive” job gains, a major shift acknowledging the central bank should help disadvantaged Americans. As you might expect, the new policy is already controversial, but for somewhat surprising reasons. Many Democrats are saying that the pledge to focus on maximum employment doesn't go far enough. “As the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and its economic impacts disproportionately affect communities of color, and communities around the country march in the streets for justice, the Federal Reserve must do everything it can to ensure the recovery is equitably shared,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., with other Democrats has introduced a bill requiring the Fed to focus on race, in a statement. The mounting calls for economic activism are putting the apolitical institution in an uncomfortable spotlight even as it breaks with past policies that have been blamed for exacerbating inequality. Fed Chair Jerome Powell this week maintained that the bank's policy tools aren't nimble enough to specifically help certain populations. But he has focused on giving a leg up to “those left behind.” “The single most important thing we can do here is to support a strong labor market,” Powell said Thursday, when asked how the Fed could help minorities. Civil rights activists, including the late Coretta Scott King, have championed that Fed mandate, which was signed into law in 1978. But ending racial inequality “is more of an all-government, society project that we need to take on forcefully,” he said. “It can't just be the way the Fed manages interest rates.” The Fed's new plan entails keeping interest rates low for as long as it takes to employ as many people as possible, though it may take years before that policy begins to benefit the most financially vulnerable. It's an acknowledgment that rate hikes in previous business cycles, intended to head off inflation, have caused some people to miss out on the benefits of economic growth. Disproportionately, those people have been minorities. “The entire 1980s under [former Fed Chairman] Paul Volcker and his war on inflation, each and every month the Black unemployment rate was above 10%,” said William Spriggs, a professor of economics at Howard University and the AFL-CIO's chief economist. “Black America was forced to live an entire decade in a depression. “Black America was the easiest group of folks to make understand what it means when you never let the economy return to full employment,” he added. The Fed is pledging not to raise interest rates until prices begin to rise more rapidly — allowing inflation to move slightly above its target of 2%. That will likely push unemployment lower than it otherwise would be able to go, giving chronically out-of-work Americans a crucial opportunity to rebuild a connection to the workforce. But Democrats, including Waters and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., want the central bank to pursue more aggressive policies that aim to close racial wage and employment gaps, including through its supervision of banks and community development initiatives. Those lawmakers, with others like Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., have introduced a bill that would require the Fed to pursue policies in a way that “minimizes and eliminates racial disparities in employment, wages, wealth, and access to affordable credit.” Biden has also included in his platform a call for the Fed to be required to “aggressively target” such racial gaps, beyond its current congressional mandates of price stability and maximum employment. Powell has bemoaned the tragedy of the pandemic, which thrust the country into a deep recession and put millions out of work just as the decadelong expansion was starting to boost wages and create employment opportunities for low-income people. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, the first Black head of a regional Fed branch, has called systemic racism “a yoke that drags on the American economy.” The Fed's goals in its policy shift are broader than just employment; seeking modestly higher inflation would allow the central bank to raise rates higher down the road, giving it more room to later cut them — its standard stimulus response in the face of a downturn. It's also aiming to avoid the fate of Japan, which for decades has struggled against deflation and sluggish growth. Still, the pivot represents a years-long evolution at the central bank, as 50-year-low unemployment never yielded problematic levels of inflation. Essentially, if the Fed is raising rates in anticipation of inflation that's not actually coming, it's merely slowing down job and wage gains. “In December 2015, when the Fed started to raise rates, [Black unemployment] was 8.5% compared to 5% overall,” said Amanda Fischer, policy director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “To call that a tight labor market is pretty stunning.” Plenty of Fed observers argue that the central bank isn't well-suited to reducing racial inequality. “It gives the Fed too much credit, and it avoids all the really hard questions,” said Norbert Michel, an economist at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Others point to the potential for low rates to inflate financial bubbles; with borrowing costs low, investors might decide to put their money into riskier assets that offer a higher rate of return. The fallout of financial crises also hits poor and minority Americans the hardest. “[Though] well-intentioned, the Fed's new policy will just give it more reason to keep rates near zero for a very long time, pumping more cheap debt into the system, making the big bigger, the rich richer, and dragging down economic innovation and growth,” former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair tweeted on Friday. Critics who argue the Fed's policies heighten wealth inequality point to structural factors: The central bank's methods of stimulating the economy boost financial asset prices — enriching those who actually hold those assets, while benefiting everyone else more indirectly, if at all. “Monetary policy as a way to juice the economy is broken, and the transmission mechanism has been broken because wealth is so concentrated in the top 1 percent and the top 10 percent,” Fischer said. “If we want monetary policy to get back to working again, we need to reduce wealth inequality.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


Hatch Act Complaint Filed Against USDA's Perdue Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an ethics complaint against USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, charging that his participation in a Families to Food Box event with President Donald Trump on Monday was a violation of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act prohibits any executive branch employee from using his or her “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” Democratic lawmakers have also raised concerns about the inclusion of a letter from President Trump that is included with the food boxes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


Taiwan Announces Shift on Imports of US Pork, Beef Taiwan will ease restrictions on imports of U.S. pork and beef, announcing they will allow shipments of U.S. pork containing the feed additive ractopamine and will allow imports of U.S. beef from animals older than 30 months of age. Taiwan's leader, Tsai Ing-wen, said the decision is in line with their interests and their goals of “strategic development,” adding it could boost ties between the U.S. and Taiwan. “It will be an important start for Taiwan-U.S. economic cooperation at all fronts,” she commented. Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung said the new rules will take effect January 1. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has cited the pork and beef restrictions by Taiwan as being an impediment to a closer trade relationship between the two.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


More CFAP Funding Possible after Labor Day Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week hinted at more Coronavirus Food Assistance Program aid for farmers on the horizon. Perdue confirmed that the Department of Agriculture is considering “shortly after Labor Day” offering a second wave of CFAP relief during a press call. Funding for the next round of payments would come from the additional $14 billion Congress allocated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation account after July 1, 2020. Many agriculture groups say more relief is needed for farmers and ranchers as the first wave of CFAP will close September 11 when the sing up period closes. Although, farm groups are lobbying for even more aid, like the $20 billion included in the failed Senate aid package last month. Lawmakers are expected to try again in September to pass another round of economic stimulus, but it is uncertain if agriculture will be included. ************************************************************************************ USDA Outlook Forecasts Increased Exports U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2021 are projected at $140.5 billion, up $5.5 billion from previous estimates. The Department of Agriculture this week released its Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade report. The report says the increase is primarily driven by higher exports of soybeans and corn. Soybean exports are forecast up $4.2 billion from fiscal year 2020 to $20.4 billion, largely due to expected strong demand from China and reduced competition from Brazil. Corn exports are projected up $700 million to $9.0 billion on expectations of higher export volume. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are forecast up $500 million to $32.3 billion in 2021, led by higher beef and veal, variety meat, dairy, and poultry. Agricultural exports to China are forecast at $18.5 billion, an increase of $4.5 billion, largely on higher expected soybean sales. Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico are forecast at $21.0 billion and $19.3 billion, respectively. And 2021 U.S. agricultural imports are forecast at $136.0 billion, $4.3 billion higher than previous estimates. ************************************************************************************ Senators Seek Robust Enforcement of USMCA Dairy Agreements A bipartisan group of 25 Senators is identifying challenges with implementing several dairy-related provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Underscoring USMCA’s importance to the dairy industry, the group asks the U.S. government in a letter to use USMCA’s enforcement measures to ensure full compliance with the trade deal. The Senators collectively state, “we ask that you use USMCA’s enforcement measures to hold our trading partners accountable to their trade commitments.” The U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation commend the coalition of Senators for standing up for dairy farmers, processors and exporters and pressing for fair and full implementation of USMCA’s dairy provisions. The lawmakers say Canada has already begun implementing USMCA in a way that thwarts its market access promises and prevents U.S. dairy from making full use of the trade agreement. There are also unanswered questions concerning how Mexico will translate its commitments to safeguard common name cheeses into action. ************************************************************************************ Democrats Denounce USDA Inaction to Provide School Meals to Children Democratic lawmakers want the Department of Agriculture to reverse a decision to provide meals to students throughout the entire school year. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, states, "The Department's refusal to extend all school meal waivers is inconsistent and baffling during this national crisis." In the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress granted authority to the USDA to issue waivers so schools and community sponsors could provide school meals to children during the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA has stopped short of extending all available flexibilities that keep children fed while schools are closed and also reduce administrative burdens for schools. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on August 14, Stabenow urged USDA to take action and use its full authority to provide healthy meals to students for the duration of the school year. Secretary Perdue responded on August 20 and refused to extend waivers that allowed states and schools to more seamlessly operate through the emergency summer meal programs. ************************************************************************************ Gillibrand Urges USDA to Provide Direct Relief to Small Farmers Kirsten Gillibrand, a Senate Democrat from New York and Senate Agriculture Committee member, is urging the Department of Agriculture to provide direct relief for small farmers. Gillibrand says she is “demanding” USDA to “answer for the inequitable distribution” of payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Gillibrand is calling on USDA to address gaps in CFAP that “have left small farmers in crisis.” Specifically, Gillibrand is urging USDA to make the program more equitable for small farmers and ranchers, collect data on farm size and demographics for CFAP applications, and set aside at least 50 percent of all assistance funds specifically for small and mid-scale operations, with payment amounts calculated the same for all producers, based on revenue losses. Gillibrand states, “The disparities in federal farm relief are unfair to our small farmers who are facing insurmountable debt and are struggling to stay afloat due to the pandemic.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends Signup Deadline for New Conservation Pilot Program The Department of Agriculture is extending the deadline to November 20, 2020, for the Soil Health and Income Protection Program. The new pilot program enables farmers to receive payments for planting perennial cover for conservation use for three to five years. Signup opened March 30, 2020, for the pilot program, which is part of the Conservation Reserve Program and available to producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce says, “We want to ensure our producers are given adequate time to enroll in this pilot program to improve soil health on their farms.” Producers can apply for three-, four-, or five-year CRP contracts to establish perennial cover on less productive cropland in exchange for payments. This pilot enables producers to plant perennial cover that, among other benefits, will improve soil health and water quality while having the option to harvest, hay, and graze outside the primary nesting season. Producers can enroll up to 50,000 acres in the program.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


Washington Insider: EU Trade Chief Departs The EU likely will struggle to find a candidate to match the stature of departing trade chief Phil Hogan who resigned late Wednesday amid a public outcry over attending an Aug. 19 dinner in his native Ireland “that broke the country's rules to fight the coronavirus," Bloomberg reports. Known as “Big Phil” in Brussels for his 6-foot-5-inch frame, he was also a dominant policy figure in nine months as EU trade commissioner. In a 27-member club where top jobs like his are jockeyed for and filled based on a Byzantine combination of nationality, party affiliation and experience, Hogan was proof that such a system doesn't always come at the expense of competence, Bloomberg said. In fact, Hogan's five-year stint as EU agriculture commissioner from 2014 to 2019 was reason enough for European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to hand him the trade portfolio when she took office in December. As farm chief, Hogan had helped the bloc forge landmark tariff-cutting agreements with Japan and the Mercosur group of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In political terms, Hogan also fit the bill for the broader trade portfolio because he was the first member of Europe's Christian Democrats to take on the job (other than on a caretaker basis) in 20 years, Bloomberg said. Liberals from Sweden and Belgium and Socialists from the UK and France held the post in the interim. The Christian Democrats are the EU's biggest political family and include German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At a time of heightened global commercial tensions triggered by everything from greater U.S. protectionism to pandemic-induced shocks to supply chains, Hogan bolstered the bloc's unity and weight in trade matters. Last week he proved icy Brussels-Washington trade relations could start to thaw with officials including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, whose middle name is Emmet — after the Irish patriot of the late 18th and early 19th centuries called Robert Emmet. Hogan and Lighthizer on Friday announced a surprise deal to eliminate EU tariffs on goods including American lobster, barely a blip in the overall trade relationship in dollar terms but valuable enough politically for President Trump to “sound like a winner.” It was a long way from late 2019, when Hogan irked U.S. officials by accusing them of protectionism and criticizing Trump's “America First” trade doctrine. Now, von der Leyen has her work cut out finding a replacement for a key member of her team. While the Irish government is responsible for nominating a new commission appointee from the country, von der Leyen will decide on the person for the trade portfolio. Bloomberg also notes that von der Leyden could opt to give the trade role to one of the remaining 25 commissioners now handling other policy matters—but, at the moment, there's no obvious pick in that group. And, Bloomberg thinks that whoever gets the job will face serious challenges ranging from the EU's post-Brexit ties with the UK and China's commercial rise to a high-profile dispute with the U.S. over aircraft subsidies and deadlock at the World Trade Organization. So von der Leyen can't afford to pick unwisely. At the same time the EU is searching for a replacement trade manager, the U.S. is facing also faces head winds in its efforts to achieve target levels of sales of farm products to China over the coming two years. “That's unlikely to happen, if you believe the USDA forecasts,” Bloomberg says. U.S. farm product exports to China are expected at $18.5 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 that starts October 1, although they are expected to exceed the $14 billion reported for the prior 12 months, USDA reported on Wednesday, up $1 billion from their prior forecast. While the periods don't quite align with the annual trade deal targets, the forecasts point to a significant shortfall. China pledged to buy $36.5 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2020 and $43.5 billion the following year, figures many traders and analysts have long considered ambitious. USDA's recent estimates indicate that meeting the targets for both years would require enormous purchases in the fourth quarters. Chinese purchases have fallen behind partly because the coronavirus hurt demand and disrupted logistical operations including the functioning of ports in the Asian nation. Shipments in the first half of the year hit only 20% of the pledge, USDA data showed. Still, the administration is touting a rosy outlook, especially after China made its biggest-ever purchase of U.S. corn in July, with cargoes set to arrive at Chinese ports in coming months. China “got off to a slow start but boy, has the momentum picked up,” Ken Isley, administrator of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, said at a U.S. soybean industry conference Tuesday. “The pace of purchases is really rolling right now.” “It's going to be difficult for them to hit that 2020 number, but we expect them to attempt to do it with very good faith,” observers said. So, we will see. Clearly a strong U.S. export performance in China will be an important political target and certainly one producers should watch closely as the season advances, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


Pressure Building On Administration To Take Action Against Canada Over Dairy A group of 25 senators have become the latest to press the Trump administration to take action against Canada under enforcement provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) over dairy. The latest letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue sounds familiar themes as raised by 104 House members in a prior letter and by the U.S. dairy industry almost immediately after USMCA took effect in July. Their main focus continues to be the tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) on dairy announced by Canada, which “appear to run counter to numerous USMCA provisions,” the senators said in the latest letter. Plus, they called on the administration to make sure that Canada eliminates its Class 6 and 7 dairy pricing policy. But they also are pointing at Mexico, noting the country needs to be prodded on enforcement of side letters pertaining to geographical indicators.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


USDA Cuts FY 2020 US Ag Export Forecast, Sees Big Boost For FY 2021 U.S. ag exports to China in Fiscal Year FY) 2021 are forecast to rise to $18.5 billion, up from $14 billion in FY 2020, a forecast that USDA raised by $1 billion from its prior outlook. China factors into increases for several commodities, including sorghum, wheat and soybeans, according to USDA. Note that the FY basis (October/September) is not on the same as the Phase One agreement — a calendar year. U.S. ag exports to China in so far in FY 2020 (through June) were at $11.113 billion, USDA noted, up sharply from $6.753 billion at that point in FY 2019. Overall U.S. ag exports in FY 2021 are forecast at $140.5 billion against imports of what would be a new record of $136 billion, leaving a trade surplus of $4.5 billion. As expected, USDA lowered its outlook for FY 2020 U.S. ag exports, trimming it by $1.5 billion to $135 billion, while raising imports by $1.5 billion to a new record of $131.7 billion. That would leave a trade surplus of just $3.3 billion, the smallest since it was $2.31 billion in FY 1972. The trade levels were considerably different in FY 1972 — ag exports totaled $8.24 billion against imports of $5.94 billion. The updated FY 2020 forecast suggests USDA expects exports of $32.8 billion over the July-September period with imports of $31.2 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets There are a host of important economic reports on Friday morning, including personal income, consumer spending and sentiment, and core inflation. We'll also be looking for additional comments from the Federal Reserve conference. Perhaps most importantly, traders will be focused on any changes to the weather outlook for the central U.S, and of course, more China demand. Weather Thunderstorms with locally heavy rain and possible damaging winds are in store for the northern Midwest Friday. We'll also see rain in portions of the southern and eastern Midwest, Mid South and Delta from tropical depression Laura. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be cool north, seasonal to above normal central and southeast and very hot southwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


FAPRI Released August Baseline Report the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute's latest baseline report reflects corn losses stemming from the derecho (Deh-RAY-cho) in Iowa earlier this month. FAPRI released its August baseline report Wednesday. According to the report, corn-planted area in 2020 is projected to be 92.0 million acres, a sharp decline from March intended acres. A modest downward adjustment in Iowa corn yields, given the derecho event, pushes the production estimate 203 million bushels lower than USDA's estimate to 15.075 billion, a record production volume. Carryout stocks sharply increase, and corn farm prices are expected to fall to $3.24 per bushel. Meanwhile, projected soybean-planted area rose to 83.8 million acres in 2020/21, up sharply from last year. Soybean stocks hold steady in 2020/21 as a strong growth in exports is offset by a rebound in production, in part, on above-trend yields. Farm prices for soybeans hit a recent low of $8.24 for 2020/21. ************************************************************************************ Soybean-to-Corn Price Ratio Favors Soybeans A report from the Department of Agriculture suggests soybeans are increasing in profitability over corn. The soybean-to-corn price ratio is often used as one of several tools in measuring profitability of soybeans and corn. The current ratio of U.S. soybean to corn prices has recently risen, sending a signal to farmers that the relative profitability of soybeans has increased over corn, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. The ratio, which averaged 2.51 over the past 20 years, can tell farmers whether planting, harvesting, and storing one or the other crop might be advantageous. When the USDA June 2020 Acreage report indicated that less corn acreage had been planted than expected in early spring, futures prices for corn in marketing year 2020/21 increased by eight percent. Soybean futures prices increased at the same time. Since late June, expectations of higher corn yields eroded the futures price for corn by 2.4 percent, while the price for soybeans increased by 1.1 percent. This differential in prices led to an increase in the soybean-to-corn price ratio from 2.64 to 2.71, a 2.5 percent increase from late June. ************************************************************************************ China Importing Record Pork Volumes China pork imports hit a record volume in July, more than doubling to 430,000 metric tons from a year earlier. Chinese importers have been bringing in huge volumes of meat this year to fill a large domestic supply shortage after African swine fever killed millions of pigs, according to Reuters. The data does not include the origin of pork, but major suppliers include the United States, Brazil, the European Union and Canada. The record comes as many countries saw a slowdown in processing earlier this year, creating a backlog of market-ready animals, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Further, China has slowed the import process by instituting coronavirus checks of frozen food containers. For the first half of 2020, China’s pork imports reached 2.65 million metric tons, up from just over one million tons a year ago. Meanwhile, China’s July beef imports reached 210,000 metric tons, and first half 2020 shipments were pegged at 1.2 million metric tons. ************************************************************************************ House Democrats Investigating Farmers to Families Food Box Program The House Coronavirus Crisis subcommittee seeks data on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program from the Department of Agriculture. Committee Chair, Representative James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, made the request in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Clyburn cited concerns of "questionable contracting practices, a lack of accountability, and a failure to deliver food to many communities that need it most." Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in March, which authorized USDA to purchase food directly from producers and distribute it to Americans in need of food assistance. The Democrat says USDA reportedly awarded contracts to companies that "never knew about" a required foodservice industry license and companies that lacked industry networks to source and deliver food. Clyburn alleges that rather than focusing on addressing these problems, the Administration "appears to be seeking political benefits from the program, including by inserting a letter signed by President Trump in food boxes." ************************************************************************************ EPA, USDA Announce Competition to Advance Agricultural Sustainability The Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency this week launched the Nex Gen Fertilizer Challenge. The initiative is a joint partnership and competition to advance agricultural sustainability in the United States. The competition includes two challenges that seek proposals for new and existing fertilizer technologies to maintain or improve crop yields while reducing the impacts of fertilizers on the environment. The first challenge, the EEFs: Environmental and Agronomic Challenge, aims to identify existing enhanced efficiency fertilizers that meet or exceed certain environmental and agro-economic criteria. The second challenge, the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge, aims to generate new concepts for novel technologies that can help address environmental concerns while maintaining or increasing crop yields. Along with EPA and USDA, the competition is coordinated with The Fertilizer Institute, the International Fertilizer Development Center, the National Corn Growers Association, and The Nature Conservancy. Registrants must submit their entries by October 30, 2020, for the EEFs Challenge and by November 30, 2020, for the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge. ************************************************************************************ Iowa Creates Program to Help Ruel Retailers Recover from COVID-19 Disruptions Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds this week allocated $100 million of CARES Act funding for Iowa Agriculture. The funds include $60 million for the Iowa Livestock Producer Relief Fund. The fund will provide grants of up to $10,000 to eligible producers of pork, beef, chicken, turkeys, dairy, fish or sheep to serve as working capital to stabilize livestock producers. Also included in the funding is the State Biofuel Grant Program, receiving $15.5 million. This fund will provide relief to Iowa ethanol and biodiesel producers based on gallons produced. Meanwhile, the Renewable Fuel Retail Recover Program, worth $7 million, Supports a program that helps expand retail fueling infrastructure for higher blend renewable fuels. Finally, the Iowa Beginning Farmer Debt Relief Fund, worth $6 million, provides eligible beginning farmers with a long-term debt service payment of up to $10,000, to be paid directly to their lender. Iowa Corn Growers Association President Jim Greif says, “every bit of help is needed,” while thanking Reynolds for the support.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


Washington Insider: The Fight Over Diet Advice Food Safety News is reporting this week that suggestions that meat alternatives such as plant-based burgers should be included in the National Dietary Guidelines would be extremely unpopular in some quarters. Still, others already extol the benefits of vegetables and fruits — and that it would only be a modest step for the government to recommend meatless products for use in school cafeterias and nursing homes. Such a change would certainly cause fireworks among groups that raise livestock and who believe that meat is the “backbone of a healthy diet.” However, the report also notes that while the role of meats in U.S. diets has long been central, “without a doubt, people's eating preferences do change as time goes by. Doctors' advice also changes.” FSN says that while consumers do not often follow the guidelines precisely, they affect federal nutrition policies and form the basis for changes to programs such as the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. And, the government hopes “that people will substitute healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and lean meats for junk food — at least for some of it.” This, in turn, is expected to improve people's health. FSN notes that the most recently released advisory report took place against a backdrop of significant and worsening health issues related to nutrition in the United States — including overweight and obesity. More than 70% of Americans are overweight or obese and these cause both public health problem and are linked to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. In addition, 6 in 10 Americans have a chronic health condition and 4 in 10 have 2 or more. And while various conditions contribute to the prevalence of these diseases, unhealthy dietary patterns and a lack of physical activity are especially important. Another health-related problem is that many low-income people simply don't have access to healthy food. FSN says that in 2018, more than 37 million people, including 6 million children, lived in households that were uncertain of having or unable to acquire, enough food to meet their needs. The federal guidance already advises consumers to choose diets higher in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, lean meats and seafood, appropriate dairy foods and unsaturated vegetable oils while reducing red and processed meats, saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, and beverages and foods with added sugars. Still, FSN notes that the guidelines don't recommend cutting out meat altogether but that meats should be lean and the portions small — no larger than the palm of your hand or your cellphone. However, some nutritionists note that alternative meats like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat burgers are highly processed and made with a lot of ingredients. And they contain a lot of sodium, which is often linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, a major cause of stroke and heart disease. FSN says American consumers are increasingly seeking out “natural” foods — that is, foods without a long list of ingredients and choosing “nutrient-dense” foods that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) and relatively few calories compared to forms of the food that have solid fat and/or added sugars. FSN also points out that Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown argues that that the critics of plant-based meats are missing the point and that “our product is substantially better for the consumer than what it replaces,” he said. These new plant-based burgers and other meat options are actually directed toward meat-eaters, especially since vegetarians make up only 3% of the U.S. population. According to a long-term study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, swapping only 3% of total calories in the diet from animal to plant protein was found to be linked to a 10% decrease in the risk of death. As for the guidelines, Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant-Based Foods Association said she is pleased to see the Advisory Committee follow the science and recommending a mostly plant-based diet while reducing saturated fats as well as red and processed meats. But when asked if the dietary guidelines should include recommendations in favor of plant-based meats, she thinks that the ball is in the consumer's court. “We are pleased that the recommendations follow the science that we should all reduce our meat intake,” she said, “however consumers should choose whether to make that change in their diets.” So, we will see. The current crop of alternative meat products seem to be much more competitive with livestock and meat products than those developed earlier. Still, it will be necessary for them to compete economically as well as on the basis of taste and nutrition — a process that will take some time, and which producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


Rise in Food Prices Pauses, But Still Above-Average For 2020 Consumers caught a break at the grocery store as food at home prices were down 1% in July compared with June, even though they still are up an average of 3.1% so far this year compared with 2019. Even as food prices have fluctuated, USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) still forecasts the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food at home will increase from 2.5% to 3.5% in 2020 versus 2019, unchanged from their month-ago outlook. But that is still considerably above the 20-year average of a 2% increase. Food away from home (restaurants) rose 0.5% in July from the June level, the ERS said, and they are up an average of 2.4%. For all of 2020, USDA forecasts an increase of 1.5% to 2.5%, below the 20-year average for an increase of 2.8%. Overall food prices are forecast to rise 2% to 3% in 2020 from 2019 levels, slightly above the 20-year average of 2.3%. The prices for all food fell 0.3% in July from June but have increased an average of 2.8% so far this year.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Still Aimed for Early September A second installment of farmer payments via the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is still on tap to be unveiled in early September, according to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. In a briefing with reporters on an unrelated topic, Perdue was asked about how USDA would be utilizing the additional $14 billion in authority available to the agency under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). The additional CCC monies “will be used in the CFAP 2,” Perdue said, echoing comments he made previously on AgriTalk that a second round of the program was on tap. While there has been pressure on USDA for the dates it used to determine payments under the initial CFAP effort, Perdue suggested one reason for the April 15 cutoff was “to get money out quickly.” He said USDA is looking at the cutoff going forward and also highlighted moves by the department to cover more commodities under the program and the recent decision issue the final 20% payments to producers under the initial CFAP effort. Information on the second CFAP effort could come “very shortly after Labor Day,” Perdue said.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thanks to China's recent buying spree, Thursday morning's weekly export sales report will get plenty of attention at 7:30 a.m. CDT and be joined by weekly U.S. jobless claims, a second estimate of second-quarter U.S. GDP and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Natural gas inventory is released at 9:30 a.m. and the latest weather forecasts will offer an update of rain expectations from Hurricane Laura. Weather Hurricane Laura will bring heavy rain and high winds into portions of the Deep South Thursday. Some of this moisture will also work into the southeastern Midwest. Other primary crop areas will continue to be dry. Temperatures again have a very warm to hot trend for all but far northern areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


China, Lighthizer Talk Trade Agreement China reaffirmed this week its commitments included in the Phase 1 trade deal. The pledge comes out of a conversation between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese trade officials, the first formal dialogue since early May, according to Reuters. In a statement following the call, Lighthizer says, “Both sides see progress and are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success of the agreement.” The call was scheduled for August 15, the six-month anniversary of the trade deal, but both sides offered conflicting statements about why the original call was canceled. China cited scheduling conflicts, while President Donald Trump claimed he canceled the meeting himself. China's pace of purchasing U.S. ag commodities is lagging from expectations, leaving some questioning if China will follow through. The USTR statement continues, “The parties also discussed the significant increases in purchases of U.S. products by China as well as future actions needed to implement the agreement.” ************************************************************************************ Trump Announces More Funding for Food Box Program President Donald Trump Monday announced an additional $1 billion for the Farmers to Families Food Box program. The announcement came the same day Trump secured the Republican nomination to run for another term. The Department of Agriculture announced the program earlier this year, along with $3 billion in funding to help farmers and consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the program, USDA purchases food from farmers, then local distributors pack and deliver the boxes to families in need. The White House announced that the number of food boxes distributed recently reached 70 million. Trump says, “Altogether, we’ve delivered over $3 trillion in economic assistance to the American people, and the American farmer has done very well,” adding, “I never hear any complaints from the American farmer.” Trump made the comments at Flavor First Growers and Packers in Mills River, North Carolina, and was joined by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. ************************************************************************************ Iowa Lawmakers Estimate Crop Losses in Request for Relief Federal lawmakers from Iowa estimate potential derecho (Deh-RAY-cho) losses at 725 million bushels of corn, and nearly 153 million bushels of soybeans. The estimate was part of a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently requesting a Secretarial Disaster Designation for 57 Iowa counties. The lawmakers say the severe storm swept through much of Iowa with sustained winds in excess of 100mph. Within the requested 57 counties, there are 8.2 million corn acres and 5.6 million soybean acres. Based on satellite imagery and preliminary storm reports, approximately 3.57 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans can be seen to be severely damaged, with millions more acres affected to varying degrees. Iowa producers have also suffered significant damage to homes, grain bins, barns, and other infrastructure critical to their farming operations and livelihoods. The lawmakers say, “It is critical that you grant this Secretarial Disaster Designation that will make these producers eligible for resources that will help mitigate these significant losses.” ************************************************************************************ Ethanol Groups File Court Briefing Supporting Year-round E15 Responding to the oil industry’s effort to undermine the expansion of E15, ethanol groups filed a court brief supporting E15. Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and National Corn Growers Association filed the brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit late last week. The brief supports and defends the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019 regulation that finally allowed year-round availability of E15. As intervenors in the oil industry’s lawsuit against EPA’s regulation allowing year-round E15, Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA are “vigorously protecting the agency’s final rule,” which extended the Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waiver for E10 blends to E15 as well. The organizations further point out that extending the volatility waiver from E10 to E15 is appropriate because the volatility of the fuel actually decreases as more ethanol is added into gasoline beyond E10. The brief states, “This Court should not allow the petroleum industry and its allies to stymie competition in this comparatively small but important portion of the U.S. transportation fuel supply.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Assists Farmers, Ranchers, and Communities Affected by Recent Wildfires The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced assistance for agricultural producers affected by recent wildfires. The assistance will help eligible farmers and ranchers reestablish their operations. Wildfires have burned more than two million acres, mostly in western states. Nearly 28,000 personnel from the local, state and federal levels are responding to 157 separate incidents, 95 of which are large, uncontained fires. USDA officials say more than 6,000 firefighters from the USDA Forest Service are battling wildfires alongside state and federal partners. Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, says, “USDA is ready to offer all the assistance we can to the affected farmers, ranchers and communities to help them recover.” When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfires are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Urban Ag and Innovation Grants The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the selection of recipients for about $4.1 million in grants and cooperative agreements for urban agriculture. Through funds come from the new USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. These are the first recipients of the grants and cooperative agreements. The program supports a wide range of activities through two grant types, which are Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. Activities include operating community gardens and nonprofit farms, increasing food production and access in economically distressed communities, providing job training and education, and developing business plans and zoning. Priority was given to projects located in or targeting an Opportunity Zone, which is a census tract designation for low-income communities. The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production was established through the 2018 Farm Bill and is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service For a complete list of grant and cooperative agreement recipients and project summaries, visit farmers.gov/urban.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Great Inflation Debate Heats Up Hardly any question carries greater weight in economics right now, or divides the financial world more sharply, than whether inflation is on the way back, Bloomberg explains in an article this week. One camp is convinced that the no-expense-spared fight against COVID-19 has put developed economies on course for rising prices on a scale they haven't seen in decades. The other one says the virus is exacerbating the conditions of the past dozen years or so--when deflation, rather than overheating, has been the big threat. For now, the jury is out, Bloomberg says. And, the data that will ultimately settle the question could take years to trickle in. In the meantime, investors and the public are left to weigh the arguments. Bloomberg presents what it calls some of the “main ones.” The idea that the money supply affects prices directly is still a widely held view. And those who hold it are pointing to the wave of money created by governments to fight the pandemic–-and predicting that sooner or later it will wash through the whole economy and push prices up. In many countries, money supply is growing at some of the fastest rates on record and unlike a decade ago, when a similar infusion of money never moved much beyond banks' balance sheets, there are signs this time around the cash is making its way into the pockets of consumers and companies. Bloomberg thinks that it is “the use of money, not just its creation, that affects prices.” That's one explanation for subdued inflation since 2008, even as central banks cranked up the printing presses. And the same forces may still be at work. In the U.S. the “velocity” of money — the frequency with which it changes hands, as people use it to buy goods and services — fell off in the 2008 financial crisis, never really recovered, and has collapsed to unprecedented lows now. “The link between money supply and inflation is still very tenuous,” says Derek Tang, an economist at LH Meyer/Monetary Policy Analytics in Washington. “We may have a ton of money supply. But that's not necessarily going to lead to a ton of inflation.” Observers argue that spending may bounce back faster than it did after 2008 and drive prices higher because a more aggressive policy response has cushioned the blow to household finances. Stock markets have taken months instead of years to recover. Home prices didn't take much of a hit. And lower down the income ladder, governments have provided substantial support to workers who got furloughed or fired. “We're clearly not back to normal in the short term until people spend the money that the Fed has created and the government has sent them,” says John Ryding, chief economic advisor at Brean Capital. Policy makers often cite a trade-off between inflation and unemployment—the idea that prices will only face sustained upward pressure when the economy is using all its resources, including labor. The strength of that link is uncertain, but “if there's any connection at all, then it should ease concerns about inflation.” Employment everywhere has slumped, with little prospect of a quick rebound to pre-pandemic levels. Bloomberg already sees evidence that disruptions to supply chains are pushing prices up, however. In China, for example, food inflation has been accelerating in the last couple of months, and a squeeze on imports because of the pandemic is one reason why. The long-run risk is that the virus will escalate tensions like the ones behind the U.S.-China trade war. Governments may become more reluctant to rely on other countries for strategic goods, such as masks and medicine or computer chips. They could pressure business to bring manufacturing home, even when it's more expensive. The fight against COVID-19 has often been compared with an actual war, the kind of disaster that historically has triggered inflation. But there's an important difference, Bloomberg says. Military conflicts wreck the supply side of the economy leading to bottlenecks and shortages that push prices up. The coronavirus has left those facilities intact — even if they're not being used right now. In a pandemic, it's demand that takes the main hit, says Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia Pacific economist with Natixis SA. “Capital is not destroyed or depleted, so it is much easier to end up with excess capacity,” she says. That distinction is one reason she's “in the deflation camp.” So, we will see. While there is still strong concern about the possible impacts of high debt levels, there seems to be much broader tolerance among the public than there was as recently as a decade ago. Certainly, high inflation is deeply dreaded as it has always been, but so is the opposite — especially, unemployment and job loss. Thus, the “inflation debate” is more important than usual and should be watched closely by producers as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


CFAP Payments Rise To $9.222 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) increased to $9.222 billion as of August 24, up from $9.02 billion the prior week. Payouts for livestock remain the highest at $4.607 billion, with $2.425 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.699 billion for dairy and $479 million for specialty crops. By commodity, USDA said that $3.992 billion has gone for cattle, $1.699 billion for dairy, $1.634 billion for corn, $573.8 million for hogs, $466.8 million for soybeans and $237.7 million for upland cotton. No other commodities have seen payments totaling $100 million or more. Iowa still tops the list of states receiving CFAP money at $921 million, followed by Nebraska at $664 million, Minnesota at $573 million, Texas at $544 million and California at $515 million.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


US, China Hold Phase One Discussion U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held discussions via telephone Monday evening, Washington time, to assess the status of the Phase One trade agreement between the two countries. A statement from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said the “regularly scheduled call” saw the parties discuss “steps that China has taken to effectuate structural changes called for by the Agreement that will ensure greater protection for intellectual property rights, remove impediments to American companies in the areas of financial services and agriculture, and eliminate forced technology transfer.” The discussions also covered the “significant increases in purchases of U.S. products by China as well as future actions needed to implement the agreement.” The Xinhua News Agency said the discussion was a “constructive dialogue on such issues as strengthening bilateral coordination of macroeconomic policies and the implementation of the China-U.S. phase-one economic and trade agreement.” Both the U.S. and Chinese side said they were committed to implementing the trade deal. USTR said the two sides “see progress and are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success of the agreement,” while Xinhua reported the two countries “agreed to create conditions and atmosphere to continue pushing forward the implementation of the trade deal.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 25, 2020 |


Rural Mainstreet Index Inches Up in August; Still Negative The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index increased slightly in August from July’s weak index number. A monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region that depends on agriculture and energy shows the August index is the sixth-straight month of a number below growth-neutral. The August index showed a slight increase at 44.7, up from July’s 44.1. However, that number is still in a recessionary economic zone. It was still a significant increase from the record-low in April of 12.1. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with an index of 50 representing growth neutral. “Farm commodity prices are down by 10.4 percent over the past 12 months,” says Dr. Ernie Goss, who oversees the Rural Mainstreet Index. “Despite the input of $32 billion in USDA farm support payments this year, only eight percent of bankers reported their area economy had improved compared to July, while 18 percent say economic conditions have gotten worse.” Along those same lines, the farmland price index rose above growth neutral for only the second time in the last 81 months, with the August reading at 50.1, up from July’s 45.6. The August farm equipment-sales index dropped to 32.8 from 34.4 in July. ********************************************************************************************** Peterson Wants Clarification on CFAP Payment Methodology Late last week, House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson sent a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. He’s asking for clarification on how USDA determined the eligibility of different crops, livestock, and poultry species under CFAP. In the letter, Peterson contends that the data used by USDA to calculate CFAP payments was limited to only the earliest parts of the pandemic, missing the full extent of damage to specific commodities. “Some would argue that the full agricultural market impacts of the closure of schools, restaurants, catering, and agricultural processing facilities due to COVID-19 were not fully realized during the CFAP covered period, with losses for many commodities extending well into the second and third quarters of this year,” writes Peterson. The ag chair also took issue with the reasons that certain commodities were denied payments. “Hundreds of commodities were denied eligibility for ‘insufficient data’ and ‘lack of information,’ though it would seem that the well-documented shutdown of school meals, restaurants, and foodservice demand would have impacted those food crops, and the loss of export, landscape, and retail markets for no-food crops and livestock/poultry,” he adds. “I trust USDA is working to assist producers who’ve been denied to this point.” ********************************************************************************************** Lighthizer Promises Help for Southeast Tomato Growers U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer promises tomato growers in the southeast United States that he will address their concerns about imported Mexican tomatoes. Trade Vistas Dot Com says American producers are upset about the surging numbers of Mexican tomato imports under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade. The United States is the second-largest producer of tomatoes in the world, but with each American eating an average of more than 20 pounds of tomatoes every year, imports are necessary to satisfy the high demand. Mexico is the largest exporter in the world and the top international supplier to the U.S. Fresh produce growers in the Southeast U.S. say Mexico is continuing to undercut their prices, dumping cheap fruits and vegetables into the U.S. market during their peak harvest time. The USDA and the Department of Commerce recently held two hearings to collect feedback on whether trade policies are harming America’s seasonal produce growers. Following those hearings, Lighthizer says he is working with Ag Secretary Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to come up with a plan to address grower concerns by September 1. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Programs Ready to Assist Those Impacted by Tropical Storms Marco and Laura The USDA is reminding communities, farmers and ranchers, families, and small businesses in the path of Tropical Storms Marco and Laura that they have assistance programs to help. USDA staff in regional, state, and county offices are ready and eager to help in the wake of natural disasters. USDA partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other disaster-focused organizations to create the Disaster Resource Center. The center’s website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance. The USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. The tool walks producers through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them best recover from a natural disaster. USDA also encourages residents and small businesses in impact zones to contact their local USDA offices to help meet their individual needs. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is urging those in the potential path of the storms to prepare now, not just for yourselves but for livestock and pets too. ************************************************************************************ July Cattle Numbers in Feedlots 11 Percent Higher Than 2019 The USDA says placements of cattle in feedlots during July totaled 1.892 million head, 11 percent higher than in July of 2019. That number is larger than what industry experts had predicted going into last Friday’s report. Feeding operations needed supplies, especially cattle that could be turned around in a short time. Most of the placements weighed between 700 and 900 pounds. The cattle placed in July will be marketed through the winter and into early spring. By weight, placements of cattle less than 600 pounds totaled 420,000 head. Placements between 600 and 699 pounds were 315,000 head, and placements of cattle between 700 and 799 pounds totaled 435,000 head. In the heavier weights, cattle between 800 and 899 pounds numbered 458,000 head, 900 to 999-pound cattle totaled 195,000 head, and 70,000 of those placements totaled more than 1,000 pounds. July cattle marketings were 1.99 million head, one percent lower than last year. The total number of cattle on feed as of August 1 was 11.284 million head, two percent above 2019, and the highest inventory for the month since the series of reports first began in 1996. Nebraska was among the highest states with 2.22 million cattle on feed. ********************************************************************************************** Livestock and Sportsmen Groups Enter Historic MOU on Conservation The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ducks Unlimited and Safari Club International. The MOU outlines the groups’ shared commitment to the conservation of natural resources through sustainable multiple uses. The agreement also outlines the groups’ efforts to cultivate healthier ecosystems, wildlife populations, and economies through active management. Hunting, fishing, and livestock grazing are all key components of successful, comprehensive management plans for the nation’s public lands and resources. The MOU also highlights decades of successful voluntary conservation programs and formalizes a partnership to allow these groups to coordinate multi-sector projects in the future. “One thing cattle producers and the sportsmen communities have in common is a shared commitment to being good stewards of the land,” says NCBA President Marty Smith. PLC President Bob Skinner says, “Ranchers are true conservationists and we’re proud to partner with groups whose members also work to protect open spaces and manage our country’s natural resources for a better future.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 25, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Asian Trade Alliance Considered India is already seeing some success luring supply chain investments away from China, and is considering teaming up with Japan, Australia and others to counter Chinese dominance as trade and geopolitical tensions escalate across the region, Bloomberg explains. Bloomberg calls the three interested countries export powerhouses and says they are discussing a “supply resilience initiative.” The talks are now at a working level but Japan would like to elevate them. Even without the other two nations, India's latest set of incentives to entice businesses away from China “seems to be working,” Bloomberg says, with companies from Samsung to Apple's assembly partners showing interest. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in March announced incentives that make electronics manufacturers eligible for a payment of 4%-6% of their incremental sales over the next five years. About two dozen companies pledged $1.5 billion in investments to set up mobile-phone factories in the country. Besides Samsung, those that have shown interest include Wistron, Pegatron and Foxconn. India has also extended similar incentives to pharmaceutical businesses. The group “plans to cover more sectors, which may include automobiles, textiles and food processing,” Bloomberg says. Numerous countries in Asia and elsewhere have been actively looking to diversify supply chains amid the U.S.-China trade tensions and the coronavirus outbreak – conditions that are making it cheaper for businesses to open shop. Vietnam remains the most favored investment destination, followed by Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand, according to a survey by Standard Chartered. The incentives would help bring an additional investment of $55 billion over five years, adding 0.5% to India's economic output, according to analysts led by Neelkanth Mishra at Credit Suisse. The latest output-linked incentive plan is a “win for Make in India,” Amish Shah, an analyst at BofA Securities, said in a report to clients. He sees gains for industrials, cement, pharmaceuticals, metals and logistics, with long-term indirect benefits across many sectors. Meanwhile, the campaign of U.S. President Trump, who is vying for re-election in November, just released a second-term agenda that includes a goal of bringing back 1 million factory jobs from China and offers “Made in America” tax credits. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reported last week that since the COVID-19 outbreak was first diagnosed, it has spread to over 200 countries and all U.S. states. In addition, CRS says the pandemic is negatively affecting global economic growth “beyond anything experienced in nearly a century.” Estimates so far indicate the virus could trim global economic growth by 3.0% to 6.0% in 2020, with a partial recovery in 2021, “assuming there is not a second wave of infections.” Still, the economic fallout from the pandemic raises the risks of a global economic recession with levels of unemployment not experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The report emphasizes the “human costs in terms of lives lost” that will permanently affect global economic growth in addition to the cost of rising levels of poverty, lives upended, careers derailed, and increased social unrest. Global trade could also fall by 13% to 32%, exacting an especially heavy economic toll on trade-dependent developing and emerging economies. CRS says the full impact of these trends will not be known until the effects of the pandemic peak. The report provided details and an overview of the global economic efforts and costs to date and response by governments and international institutions to address the pandemic impacts. Policymakers and financial and commodity market participants generally have been hopeful of a global economic recovery starting in the third quarter of 2020. Some forecasts, however, raise the prospects that the pandemic could negatively affect global economic growth more extensively and for a longer period of time with a slow, drawn-out recovery. Without a quick resolution of the health crisis, the economic crisis may persist longer than most forecasters have assumed, CRS says – and it may require policymakers to weigh the most effective mix of additional fiscal and monetary policies that may be required without the “benefit of a relevant precedent to follow.” Additional measures “may have to balance the competing requirements of households, firms, and state and local governments. CRS says. Various U.S. states reversed course in late June to impose or reimpose social distancing guidelines and close down businesses that had begun opening as a result of a rise in new confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising the prospect of a delayed recovery, CRS said. So, we will see. Certainly, the impacts of the pandemic are continuing to be both enormous and difficult to evaluate – efforts producers should watch closely as they are debated and implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 25, 2020 |


US, EU Reach Lobster Trade Deal U.S. and European Union (EU) officials said Friday they reached agreement on a plan for the EU to lower tariffs on imports of lobster from the U.S. and other suppliers, with the U.S. agreeing to lower duties on a list of other items of equal value. EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan announced the action even as some indicated they had hoped the issue might be dealt with in broader negotiations between the two sides. But those trade negotiations are proceeding very slowly as the U.S. is currently focused on a trade deal with the UK over one with the broader EU. Still, the U.S. lobster industry is welcoming the development with their attention also on the trade situation with China.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 25, 2020 |


House Ag Chair Raises Questions on CFAP House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is asking USDA to clarify its eligibility standards for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), writing USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in an August 21 letter. Peterson said that he viewed the data used by USDA as only considering the earliest parts of the pandemic, missing the full extent of damage to different commodities. “Some would argue that the full agricultural market impact of the closure of schools, restaurants, catering, and agricultural processing facilities due to the COVID-19 public health crisis were not fully realized during the CFAP covered period, with losses for many commodities extending well into the second and third quarters of this year,” Peterson said. He also raised questions about commodities that were not deemed eligible under CFAP. Hundreds of commodities were denied CFAP eligibility for “insufficient data” and “lack of information,” though it would seem that the “well documented shut-down of school meals, restaurants, and food service demand would have impacted those food crops, and the loss of export, landscape, and retail markets for the non-food crops (e.g., pima cotton) and livestock/poultry,” he wrote. “And, producers of processed food commodities (e.g., raisins) and aquaculture seem to have been completely excluded from the program.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


Pro Farmer Predicts Record Yields Pro Farmer estimates a 14.8-billion-bushel corn crop, with an average yield of 177.5 bushels-per-acre. For soybeans, Pro Farmer estimates a 4.3-billion-bushel crop with an average yield of 52.5 bushels-per-acre. Pro Farmer released the projections Friday following its annual Midwestern Crop Tour. Both corn and soybean yield estimates would be record crops, but not as big as projected by the Department of Agriculture earlier this month. Pro Farmer trimmed 525,000 from harvested acres, 300,000 coming from Iowa. The Iowa cut stems from the derecho (der-ray-cho) storm that destroyed crops this month, but the bigger concern for the state is drought. Pro Farmer pegged Iowa corn yields at 180 bushels-per-acre, and soybeans at 55 bushels-per-acre. The week long tour found Illinois has the best-projected corn yield at 205 bushels-per-acre, and the top projected soybean yield at 62 bushels-per-acre. The tour samples corn and soybean crops in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota. ************************************************************************************ Coronavirus Aid Delayed, Likely Won’t Include Ag Provisions Congress won’t consider any coronavirus relief until September, and the streamlined package won’t likely include agriculture. Senate Republicans indicate they plan to introduce a “skinny” bill next month, according to the Hagstrom Report. The Senate returns to session on September 8, and the House has scheduled to return for committee meetings on September 8, with the full House returning to session September 14. The delay sets up speculation the general coronavirus aid may be included in spending bills Congress must pass by September 30, the end of the current fiscal year. Congress must also pass the spending bills to avoid a government shutdown. Many in agriculture agree more aid is needed for farmers and ranchers facing losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. The failed HEALS Act in the Senate would have provided an additional $20 billion for agriculture. The CARES Act included $14 billion for agriculture, and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program includes $16 billion for agriculture. ************************************************************************************ China, U.S. Trade Talks Coming More trade talks between China and the U.S. are on the horizon. However, the questions of if and when remain. Last week, the Trump administration declined to confirm any plans to meet with China regarding the Phase 1 trade deal. According to Reuters, a spokesperson for China’s Commerce Ministry last week stated bilateral talks would be held "in the coming days" to evaluate the agreement's progress. Previously planned for August 15, China claims the meeting was moved due to a scheduling conflict. Yet, President Donald Trump claims he canceled the meeting, because, he says, “I don’t want to deal with them now.” China is buying more U.S. commodities, a promise made in the Phase 1 agreement. However, the most recent data suggests China is behind pace to fulfill its commitments. China has committed to buying more new crop soybeans and sorghum from the United States. And, while China is purchasing more U.S. new crop corn, the purchases still lag from prior levels. ************************************************************************************ NCGA: Communication Key for Successful 2020 Harvest Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, communication is the key to a successful harvest this fall, according to the National Corn Growers Association. Jeff Bender, director of the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, tells NCGA following CDC guidelines, including social distancing, remains important even if your community has not had a COVID-19 diagnosis. However, most importantly, communication is the key this year. That means talking with delivery points this fall. NCGA suggests farmers should be asking about local and state regulations affecting operations, delivery protocols and delivery scheduling. Additionally, you should ask if there will be an open office and how you will receive a delivery ticket, among other questions regarding new technology and customer information. Also, don’t forget general safety, either. A large crop often translates into longer days and increased logistics. The hectic work schedule can lead to problems with fatigue, loss of concentration and injuries. Bender says, “Throughout harvest, be respectful of others' safety and remember it's about everyone's health, business continuity and community.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Public Meeting on Salmonella: State of the Science The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will host a virtual public meeting on Salmonella next month. Federal agencies included in the meeting will discuss the commitment to reduce pathogen contamination to decrease salmonella infections associated with regulated food items. The week before the public meeting, USDA's Office of Food Safety will release the “Roadmap to Reducing Salmonella: Driving Change through Science-Based Policy,” which outlines how USDA will advance programs and policies that are science-based, data-driven, and promote innovation to reduce Salmonella in meat, poultry, and egg products. Salmonella is a foodborne pathogen of concern in multiple FSIS-regulated food products. To address foodborne sources of Salmonella, FSIS is committed to aggressively targeting Salmonella in regulated meat, poultry, and processed egg products through various strategies and initiatives. The virtual public meeting will be held on September 22, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. ET. Registration information is available at fsis.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ USPS Delays Deliver Dead Chicks to Small Poultry Farmers Poultry farmers say postal service delays are causing deliveries of live chicks to result in dead chicks. Shipping of live chicks is common through the United States Postal Service. However, Maine poultry farmer Pauline Henderson says delays in shipping resulted in 800 dead chicks at her farm. She told local media the dead birds she received shipped in the normal amount of time but were apparently mishandled. Farmers like Henderson allege recent operation overhauls, including cuts in sorting equipment, have made USPS an unreliable shipper for live chicks. The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald reports thousands of birds that moved through the Postal Service’s processing center in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, all met the same fate, affecting several farms in Maine and New Hampshire. Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat, penned a recent letter to the USPS and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Pingree alleges the Trump administration “attacks on the Post Office are devasting small farmers.” Pingree is among the many Democrats calling for the removal of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


Washington Insider: USDA Pushes Back at Food Program Effort Bloomberg is reporting this week that Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, facing bipartisan congressional pressure to maintain expanded food options for children during the coronavirus pandemic, is rejecting a move he said would amount to “a universal school meals program.” With the fall semester kicking off both virtually and in-person, lawmakers want all options on the table if classrooms are forced to lock their doors once more. That concern turned reality over the past few weeks for schools from Michigan to Mississippi, Bloomberg says. House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., whose panels oversee school food programs, have called for the extension of two programs that provide free meals to children in low-income areas when school is out. The Summer Food Service Program and the Seamless Summer Option operate not only over summer break, but also during unanticipated closures — such as when schools shuttered in the spring due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Perdue rejected the request to renew all nationwide waivers for unexpected closures through the next school year. “Americans are a generous people, and there are already opportunities for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and weekend meals for children in need,” he said in a Thursday letter. “While we want to provide as much flexibility as local school districts need during this pandemic, the scope of this request is beyond what USDA currently has the authority to implement and would be closer to a universal school meals program which Congress has not authorized or funded,” Perdue added. Program advocates criticized the USDA position. “The tragic rise in child hunger across the country will surely get worse,” Scott said last week. He called Perdue's decision “irresponsible.” The Agriculture Department can extend the waivers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Scott and Stabenow said in an Aug. 14 letter. Perdue countered that his agency continues to “utilize all options within our statutory and budget authority and with the funding that Congress provided” with the third coronavirus stimulus law. He offered the department's technical assistance if Congress were to pursue an expanded program. The administration has issued extensions for other nationwide waivers, allowing meal service outside of traditional times and in nongroup settings for the 2020-2021 school year. The USDA didn't renew a waiver for the area eligibility requirement, which limits “open site” meal service for summer meals programs to places where at least half the children are in low-income households. Democrats aren't alone in calling for USDA action, Bloomberg said. In fact, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., spearheaded a recent letter from 20 GOP senators asking Perdue to use waivers, grants, or reimbursements to allow schools and sponsor organizations to feed students learning both in-person and remotely. “As the school year begins, the challenges brought on by the COVID emergency persist,” they wrote. Expanded food options have “broad bipartisan support,” said Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., an Agriculture Committee member who signed a similar July 29 letter from more than 30 senators, arguing that the president's attempt to bypass Congress on stimulus is offering only limited economic relief, the Washington Post reported this weekend — suggesting that efforts to increase antivirus programs are increasingly supported. The food programs are but two of the numerous programs that are being challenged during the current outbreak. For example, Democrats have not restarted meaningful economic relief negotiations since the President's recent executive actions and congressional aides do not expect talks to resume until after Labor Day, the Post says. Many economic experts say the absence of a broader economic deal with Congress is sharply limiting the recovery and is hurting unemployed Americans, given the administration's challenges in implementing new jobless benefits, the Post says. The report criticizes the administration's recent efforts aimed at bypassing stalled stimulus negotiations and argued that its directives have “produced limited economic relief for Americans hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, despite promises by top White House aides that help would come within weeks.” So, we will see. Now the political campaigns are increasingly dominating the media and ratcheting up the already high levels of toxicity. These are increasingly important fights and should be watched closely as they proceed Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


DEA Publishes Rule to Update Regs Based On 2018 Farm Bill The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has published an interim final rule which reflects the 2018 Farm Bill provisions on hemp and reflecting Controlled Substances Act (CSA) amendments that have already taken effect, saying the changes do not add additional requirements to the regulations. The DEA said there are no additional costs resulting from these regulatory changes and they are expected to result in annual cost savings for affected entities. Comments are due by October 20.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


Focus On Seasonal Produce Moves to Trump Administration The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, USDA and Department of Commerce (DOC) have received two days of testimony via hearings August 13 and 20 on the matter of imports of fresh and seasonal produce into the U.S. The sessions have seen produce growers from Florida and Georgia testify that shipments of these products from Mexico are negatively impacting U.S. growers, but also that the produce industry and others indicate the situation merely is a case of market competition and not trade-distorting efforts by Mexico. The administration has pledged to develop a policy response by September 1. Special Ag Trade Negotiator at USTR Gregg Doud remarked at the August 20 session that he was struck by the “stark contrast” between growers and other ag groups. “Everybody has put a lot of time and effort into their testimony and next step is for the administration to put time and effort into how to move this forward and that's exactly what we will do,” he said. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue acknowledged the issue has been “one of the most frustrating things” his agency has dealt with. “Help us figure out how we can help and mitigate the issues that you're facing and the challenges you are facing with something realistic that we can do under United States law and trade policy,” Perdue urged. It remains to be seen if the administration will come back with a plan that will make it easier for U.S. produce growers to challenge imports from Mexico, a provision that was not included in the final U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Checking over the latest weather forecasts is usually where traders turn first Monday, followed by the usual USDA reports. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is out at 10 a.m. CDT followed by USDA's monthly cold storage report at 2 p.m. and the crop progress report at 3 p.m. CDT. Any trade news that comes up will also be noticed. Weather Hot and dry conditions will cover most primary crop areas Monday. This combination will lead to further drying and crop stress. Southeastern U.S. areas will have periods of tropical rain as Tropical Storm Marco in the Gulf of Mexico moves closer to the mainland.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


Crop Tour Highlights Midwest Drought Areas The Pro Farmer Midwestern Crop Tour wrapped up Thursday after finding some unexpected drought areas. Drought conditions reported in the weekly Drought Monitor show classified droughts in The Dakotas, Western Nebraska, Much of Iowa, and small parts of Illinois and Indiana, and much of Ohio. Meanwhile, most of the Western U.S. is dry, with many severe and extreme drought classifications. While much of the attention focuses on the derecho storm that hit Iowa and other states, potentially destroying up to ten percent of the nation’s corn crop, parts of Iowa are in moderate to severe drought. Drought conditions expanded in western and northeastern Iowa in the last week. Organizers of the Drought Monitor say the expansion is in response to the short-term precipitation deficits during the past 60-day period, dry soils, and agricultural impacts. Pro Farmer scouts toured Western Iowa Wednesday, reporting lower expected yields for the region. Pro Farmer’s final national crop projections will be released Friday afternoon. ************************************************************************************ Bill Seeks Investment in Rural Public Transit Legislation introduced this week seeks to improve public transportation in rural communities. Lawmakers say the Rural Transit Act, would increase the federal contribution for operating assistance in rural areas with high transit dependency. The bill was introduced by Senators Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat, Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, and Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican. The Federal Transit Administration provides grants to support rural public transportation. However, the lawmakers say it can be difficult for certain rural communities to provide the necessary local contribution to qualify for assistance. Senator Rounds says the legislation would “allow transit operators in extreme need to receive a higher federal share of operating assistance.” The bill would increase the federal share to eighty percent for operating assistance in certain areas with high transit dependency. For a transit project to qualify, it must serve a county considered an “area of persistent poverty,” with 25 percent of residents over 65 years old. ************************************************************************************ CME Amending Cattle Price Limits CME Group Thursday announced planned changes to live and feeder cattle futures price limits. Pending approval by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, CME Group will implement the changes Monday, October 5, 2020. The changes amend daily price limits to adjust the current, initial daily price limit for Live Cattle futures from $0.03 to $0.04 per pound and for Feeder Cattle futures from $0.045 to $0.05 per pound. CME Group will maintain the existing practice of establishing expanded price limit levels at 150 percent of initial price limit levels, which will result in an increase in the expanded price limit for Live Cattle from $0.045 to $0.06 per pound and an increase in the expanded price limit for Feeder Cattle from $0.0675 to $0.075 per pound. CME Group also seeks to replace the current fixed daily price limit regimes, consisting of a fixed price limit and expansion mechanism, with a variable price limit regime that will be price-based and reset annually. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Prevented Planting Coverage Changes The Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency this week announced changes to Federal crop insurance prevented planting coverage. RMA will implement the changes for most spring crops with prevented planting coverage, next year, and for all crops with prevented planting coverage in 2022. The changes include expanding the “1 in 4” requirement nationwide. Currently, only producers in the Prairie Pothole National Priority Area are subject to the requirement, which requires producers to plant acreage in at least one of the four most recent crop years to be eligible for coverage on those acres. RMA made several modifications to existing policy and procedures to ensure prevented planting payments adequately reflect the crops the producer intended to plant. USDA also made changes to cover second-crop plantings following the failure of the first crop in a field. Finally, USDA will allow the use of an intended acreage report for the first two years for producers in a new county, where they have never produced the crop. ************************************************************************************ USDA Report Details U.S. Potato Usage A little more than one-third of all potatoes grown in the United States are manufactured into frozen products, 85 percent of which are french-fries, according to the Department of Agriculture. USDA recently released a report on potato usage. Spurred by decades of explosive growth within the quick-service restaurant industry, processed potato products, which include frozen, chipped, dehydrated, and canned, became the major movers in the potato market, led by frozen french-fries. The share of potatoes consumed as frozen products rose from 27 percent in 1970-74 to 44 percent in 2015-2019. Research in the early 2000s indicated that quick-service restaurants alone accounted for about two-thirds of French-fry usage, with another six percent attributed to school cafeterias. The COVID-19 pandemic severely hobbled the foodservice sector, according to USDA, resulting in an abrupt slowdown in French-fry demand. In addition, exports of frozen potato products, which account for one-fourth of freezing potato utilization, remain well-below year-earlier levels. ************************************************************************************ FFA Membership Reaches Record The National FFA Organization this week announced a record-high student membership of 760,113, an increase from last year’s 700,170 members. The top five student membership states are Texas, California, Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma. Interest in FFA and agricultural education continues to grow as membership continues to increase as well as the number of chapters. This year, the organization has more than 115,831 Latino members, more than 40,000 Black members and more than 12,000 members who are American Indian and Alaska Native. Forty-four percent of the membership is female, with 51 percent of the membership being male. FFA chapters can be found in 24 of the 25 largest U.S. cities. National FFA CEO Mark Poeschl (PESH-ull) says, “as we continue to bring agricultural education and FFA to more students, we see the enthusiasm of this generation reflected in the growth of our organization.” The National FFA Organization includes more than 8,700 local FFA chapters.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Lack of New Subsidy Deal Concerns the Fed The Hill and other media are reporting this week that Federal Reserve officials expressed deep concerns that the steady spread of the coronavirus would continue to slow the pace of economic recovery and drive the U.S. into a much sharper downturn later this year, according to minutes from its July meeting released Wednesday. During the July 28-29 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee—the Fed's policymaking arm — bank officials anguished over signs that the U.S. was losing ground in its fight against the pandemic and the recession it spurred. Fed leaders cited a slowdown in hiring between May and June, rising cases of coronavirus across the U.S. and the expiration of crucial fiscal stimulus as critical threats to a fragile economy severely restrained by an uncontrolled pandemic. “The path of the economy will depend significantly on the course of the virus and the ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term,” the minutes read. The readout from the Fed's July meeting is the latest window into the growing concern over the economic impact of the pandemic among central bank officials. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and several reserve bank presidents have issued increasingly direct calls for social distancing measures, widespread mask-wearing, and other practices proven to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. In addition, the July FOMC minutes outline the warning signs that moved Powell and other Fed leaders to speak directly about the economic necessity of a robust public health response, The Hill said. The July meeting wrapped days before a $600 boost to weekly unemployment benefits and an eviction and foreclosure ban expired, sapping fiscal support that economists considered crucial to preventing a deeper downturn. “Participants noted that the fiscal support initiated in the spring through the CARES Act had been very important in granting some financial relief to millions of families,” the minutes read. Several officials argued that extending that aid “would likely be important for supporting vulnerable families, and thus the economy more broadly, in the period ahead.” But Congress and the administration have been unable to strike a bipartisan deal ahead of the July 31 deadline and have been locked in a stalemate for weeks since. The broad disagreements among Democrats and Republicans are far greater than those between liberal and conservative economists, who largely agree on the need for another stimulus bill, The Hill said. In a separate report, The Hill took an unusually critical position regarding Congressional efforts to provide necessary support. It asserts that “majorities in the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate also favor spending about $100 billion to help schools and universities implement full-bore distance learning for an uncertain duration. Yet both chambers went home for August without passing such aid.” The Hill concludes that, “clearly, this isn't how our democracy is supposed to work — and the current lack of cooperation leads to the “monumental gridlock and dysfunction that has made Congress one of the least-respected and least-liked institutions in the land.” The report cites a Washington Post early August report that “the talks on Capitol Hill had a dramatic and bitter unraveling.” The parties had managed to approve earlier aid packages,” but this time, “there seemed to be little goodwill or trust, and both sides dug in even as the economic recovery showed signs of losing steam, millions of Americans remained unemployed and deaths from the novel coronavirus continued to climb.” The Hill then concludes that perhaps the most incomprehensible aspect of this behavior is that the leadership's self-imposed logjams steadily push more power and responsibility away from Congress and toward the executive branch. “We saw this when President Trump announced he would use his executive powers to shift funds (a constitutionally questionable action) to enhance unemployment benefits by $400 a week, partly replacing the $600 that has lapsed during Congress' impasses, the report said. Now, the Hill thinks that “most Americans' expectations are probably quite low” and it counsels the Congress to “just pass measures you already agree on to help the country at least begin to address its toughest problems.” So, we will see. Amid nominating conventions of both parties, a fairly new fight is focusing on how the fall elections should be held and votes cast and counted — perhaps the most contentious issue of all. These are a few of many debates and fights going on this fall that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


USDA Updates Payment Limits, Eligibility Rules USDA has released new rules on payment limits and payment eligibility to reflect updated provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill. The actions include that USDA may approve a waiver of the average adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation for participants of certain conservation contracts administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on environmentally sensitive land. Also, the mandatory changes expand the definition of “family member” to include first cousins, nieces, and nephews. The Office of Management and Budget completed its review of the USDA plan July 29 and the final rule is published in today's Federal Register and was effective August 20.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


China Says Trade Confab With US On Tap In Coming Days China and the U.S. will hold trade talks on the status of the Phase One agreement between the two countries “in the coming days,” according to Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng. He made the remarks during a briefing but did not offer any details, except to say, "Both parties have agreed to hold a call in the near future.” Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said this week that no talks had been scheduled as of yet. “There are no rescheduled talks ... at this point,” Meadows told reporters. “Ambassador Lighthizer continues to have discussions with his Chinese counterparts involving purchases and fulfilling their agreements.” This comes as White House trade advisor Peter Navarro acknowledged China's stepped-up purchases of U.S. farm products as part of their commitments made under the Phase One trade deal. Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai said at a Brookings Institution event last week that U.S. needed to make decisions on bringing bilateral ties between the two countries back to a normal track.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report at 7:30 a.m. CDT always gets attention, but especially during this active time of year. U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are also released at 7:30. A U.S. index of leading economic indicators follows at 9 a.m. CDT and natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Thursday's weather forecasts and any additional trade news will also be noticed. Weather Thursday will again be very warm and dry over all primary crop areas. Rain will be confined to light showers in the Southeast. The dry pattern is indicated to remain in place through the next seven days. Precipitation chances increase at the end of the month.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


Farmer Support for Trump Remains Strong President Donald Trump trails former Vice President Joe Biden in election polls, but farmer support for Trump remains strong. A recent Pulse Poll from Farm Journal shows 82 percent of the more than 1,500 farmer respondents say they would vote for President Trump if the election were held today. Meanwhile, 13 percent say they would vote for Biden, while five percent remain undecided. Farm Journal conducted a second poll after Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate, where just nine percent of respondents say Harris would make them more likely to vote for Biden. Farm Journal says President Trump has enjoyed steady support in the Pulse Poll with his approval rating remaining in a range between 75 percent and 80 percent for the past year. There’s been much discussion during the Democratic National Convention this week how the party needs to engage with rural America. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has pleaded to the party since 2016 to engage with rural voters. ************************************************************************************ Study Shows Value of Red Meat Exports to Corn Farmers A new study shows red meat exports added 12 percent of bushel value to U.S. corn farmers in 2019. The U.S. Meat Export Federation recently updated a study on the market value of red meat exports. At an average of $3.75 per bushel, $0.46 is from red meat exports, according to the study. The results indicate that without red meat exports, corn growers would have lost $6.4 billion in corn revenue in 2019. Last year, U.S. beef and pork exports used 480 million bushels of corn. Corn revenue generated by pork exports totaled $1.8 billion. Beef and pork exports also used about three million tons of distiller’s dried grains with solubles in 2019 at an annual average price of $137 per ton. This generated $411.8 million in revenue for co-products from ethanol mills. USMEF says beef and pork exports have been the fastest-growing category of corn use since 2015. The projected market value of red meat exports to U.S. corn from 2020-2029 is $23.1 billion. ************************************************************************************ CFAP Expansion Doesn’t Include Hemp, Growers Respond U.S. Hemp growers are disappointed the recent Coronavirus Food Assistance Program commodity expansion does not include hemp. Last week, the Department of Agriculture expanded the commodities covered under the program that provides COVID-19 relief to producers. CFAP includes commodities that USDA can prove saw losses of five percent or more in the first quarter of 2020. The U.S. Hemp Growers Association says, “We believe our farmers did present evidence of losses to our growers that were five percent or more in the first quarter of 2020.” Hemp is such a newly legal crop that it does not have the advantage of data gathered by USDA agencies. Currently, the data available to understand the market is gathered privately by several data companies. USHGA believes two datasets showed a five percent pricing decrease and more in hemp and hemp products in the first quarter of 2020. The statement says, “All hemp farmers are now wondering what kind of treatment they will receive should there be future problems.” ************************************************************************************ Virtual Sustainable Agriculture Summit Announced The Sustainable Ag Summit partners announced the virtual event this week planned for November. Scheduled for November 18 and 19, the event is hosted jointly by six agricultural organizations and convenes leaders from across the agricultural value chain to create a sustainability event for production agriculture. Partners of the event include the National Pork Board, U.S. Poultry and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. The summit will focus on “Beyond 2020: The Next Generation of Sustainability in Action,” looking to the next generation of sustainability leadership, technologies and collaborations. The summit will cover how U.S. agriculture can deliver lasting impacts through improved productivity, profitability, resiliency and environmental outcomes. Currently, organizers are seeking proposals for event topics and sessions. Breakout Sessions should creatively showcase how challenges can be turned into opportunities by exploring projects, collaborations or successes involving multiple perspectives. Learn more about the event and its agenda, or submit a proposed session at sustainableagsummit.org. ************************************************************************************ USDA Appoints New Members to Food Safety Advisory Committees The Department of Agriculture appointed ten new members to the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection this week. USDA also announced an additional new member to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods. Under Secretary for Food Safety Mindy Brashears says the committee members “play a key role in informing USDA’s food safety decisions.” The new members include university officials and industry experts on food safety. The National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection was established in 1971 by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The group is an advisory committee that advises on food safety concerns and other matters affecting inspection program activities. The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods was established in 1988. The advisory committee provides impartial scientific advice and peer reviews to food safety agencies on public health issues. The list of committee members for both is available at fsis.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Consumer Goods Forum Launches Food Waste Coalition The Consumer Goods Forum this week launched a CEO-led Coalition of Action on Food Waste, bringing together 14 of the world's largest retailers and manufacturers. The coalition seeks to cut global food loss at the retailer and consumer level in half. The coalition says food waste is an enormous environmental, social and economic problem. A third of food produced is never eaten, which amounts to about 1.3 billion metric tons of food lost each year. That represents an economic cost to the global economy of $940 billion. Food waste is also responsible for adding 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere annually, so if food waste were a country, its carbon footprint would be third only to China and the United States. The coalition includes CEOs from General Mills, Kellogg Company, Walmart and others. The group will first collect data on food waste before forming a plan to prevent food waste.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Expanding Various Aid Programs Bloomberg is reporting this week that Democratic and Republican leaders are hinting about a possible path toward reviving stalled negotiations on the next round of pandemic relief, even as the sides remain far apart. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested during the weekend that Democrats might be willing to cut more from their proposal to reach agreement on immediate needs and -- with her party growing more confident of gains in the November elections -- return to do more after votes are cast. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., meanwhile said Pelosi's decision to break out $25 billion in funding for the Postal Service from the original Democratic relief plan could provide an opening for future talks, Bloomberg said. Although Speaker Pelosi is bringing the House back to Washington to vote Saturday on a post office bill that would prevent any cutbacks by the agency as well as provide the extra money, there was no sign McConnell would do the same. There is some suggestion that both sides “should try to come to agreement now.” The Speaker suggested Democrats might go beyond their most recent offer to trim at least temporarily the $3.5 trillion relief package the House passed in May. The Trump administration claims to see a possibility for Republicans and Democrats to agree on a smaller round of pandemic relief totaling $500 billion that would omit the biggest areas of disagreement, a senior U.S. official said Monday night. The hope was that both parties might be able to reach an accord on issues like financial help for the Postal Service, aid to schools and more money for businesses to keep their workers employed. Bloomberg also reported on another area of growing urgency — students returning to classrooms or sitting at computers for online learning who lack access to nutritious meals. Lawmakers from both parties are emphasizing this growing need in requests to USDA. “Food insecurity is skyrocketing,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine. “USDA must take immediate action to extend flexibilities for these programs through the next school year to ensure they're serving every kid who needs them.” Secretary Perdue's USDA has already extended nationwide waivers to permit meal service outside of traditional times and in non-group settings. Parents and guardians are also allowed to pick up their children's meals through next June, according to the department. Some lawmakers now are urging the renewal of the few remaining waivers, including several that affect low-income students. “We continue to look at all options within our statutory and budget authority to assist program operators with the challenges they are facing during the current health crisis,” Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Pam Miller said on Tuesday. “This is a very dynamic situation, so we are tracking on-the-ground conditions and working closely with our state and local partners to serve the best interests of students and families.” The latest push for USDA action came from 20 GOP senators, led by Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. The group pressed Perdue to use waivers, grants, or reimbursements that allow schools and sponsor organizations to feed students learning both in-person and remotely. The other 10 Republicans on the panel, including McConnell, also signed the Monday letter. The department should use its authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to extend all nationwide waivers for unexpected school closures, the lawmakers said. A larger, bipartisan group of more than 30 senators echoed the waiver requests for unexpected school closures. Other waivers yet to be renewed include one for the area eligibility requirement, which typically limits “open site” meal service for summer meals programs to places where at least half the children are in low-income households. That waiver currently is extended only through Aug. 31. The department is reviewing all state waiver requests and is sharing information with Congress to ensure members understand stakeholders' specific needs, as well as the department's abilities to address those needs, USDA said Tuesday. “More students are expected to depend on school-provided meals this year due to the millions of parents and guardians who have lost their jobs during the pandemic,” said Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., an Agriculture Committee member who signed the letter. “I'm glad that there is broad bipartisan support behind this issue,” she added in her Tuesday statement. “Now we need Secretary Perdue to act.” So, we will see. Clearly, pressure is growing for Congressional support of many kinds in efforts to significantly offset the coronavirus impacts — and to ensure that the fall elections are conducted fairly and on schedule. At the same time, any sign of cooperation in expanding helpful programs likely will be widely noticed and welcome, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


Fed Notes Difficulties in Ag, Energy Sectors Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting July 28-29 saw Fed officials note the situation in the U.S. energy and agriculture sectors, with observations that the two sectors continue to struggle. “Several participants also commented on ongoing challenges facing the energy or farm sector despite recent improvements,” the minutes said. “In the energy sector, these challenges included still-low oil demand, excess inventories, and low oil prices, while in the farm sector they included low prices of some farm commodities, pandemic-related disruptions in some food processing plants, and a significant decline in demand for ethanol.” Overall, the minutes still indicated what Fed officials have signaled since that meeting – the direction for the U.S. economy remains dependent on the coronavirus and the public response to it.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


Potential Movement on COVID Aid House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested that Democrats might be willing to cut more from their proposal to reach agreement on immediate needs and return to do more later. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Pelosi's decision to break out $25 billion in funding for the U.S. Postal Service from the original Democratic relief plan could provide an opening for talks. However, any accord is still likely to wait until September. Pelosi said both sides “have to try to come to that agreement now.” She suggested Democrats might go beyond their most recent offer to trim the $3.5 trillion relief package the House passed in May and come back later for the rest. The Trump administration sees a possibility for Republicans and Democrats to agree on a smaller round of pandemic relief totaling $500 billion that would omit the biggest areas of disagreement, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday night. Both parties might be able to reach an accord on issues like financial help for the Postal Service, aid to schools and more money for businesses to keep their workers employed, the official said.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report at 7:30 a.m. CDT always gets attention, but especially during this active time of year. U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are also released at 7:30. A U.S. index of leading economic indicators follows at 9 a.m. CDT and natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Thursday's weather forecasts and any additional trade news will also be noticed. Weather Thursday will again be very warm and dry over all primary crop areas. Rain will be confined to light showers in the Southeast. The dry pattern is indicated to remain in place through the next seven days. Precipitation chances increase at the end of the month.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


Appeals Court Rejects Dicamba Rehearing Request The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week declined a rehearing request on its June dicamba decision. The decision leaves Bayer, Corteva and BASF with one final legal option to overturn the ruling vacating registration of dicamba herbicides: appealing to the Supreme Court. On June 3, the court vacated the registration for Bayer's XtendiMax, Corteva’s FeXapan and BASF’s Engenia, all dicamba-based herbicides. Last month, all three companies petitioned for a group of judges to rehear the case, known as a “rehearing in banc.” A statement from BASF to DTN says, “We are assessing additional legal options, including a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court.” However, the ruling doesn’t apply to future registrations of dicamba herbicides, and the Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing whether or not to allow for its use in 2021. Earlier this month, a report from environmental groups stated, “EPA should not renew dicamba product registrations,” until further research shows dicamba formulations will not harm off-target plants. ************************************************************************************ House Lawmakers Introduce Helping America’s Farmers Act Lawmakers in the House of Representatives this week introduced the Helping America’s Farmers Act. The legislation would create a new economic injury disaster loan program at the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Introduced by Representative Jahana Hayes, a Connecticut Democrat and Antonio Delgado, a New York Democrat, the bill is endorsed by the National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Farmers of America. The bill would appropriate $10 billion for direct loans through the FSA, along with another $10 billion for a guaranteed loan program through FSA lenders, and $300 million for administrative costs. Under the new loan program, applicants would also be eligible for a $20,000 grant upon application, and can seek forgiveness for their loan based on demonstrated economic hardship. Application priority is given to farmers and ranchers located in the areas hit hardest by an economic disaster, as well as minority, veteran and women-owned operations. Representative Hayes says the legislation will get farmers “the help they so desperately need.” ************************************************************************************ USDA NASS to Collect Additional Iowa Data for Crop Report The Department of Agriculture will collect additional harvested acreage information for corn and soybeans in Iowa in preparation for the September 11 Crop Production report. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service says corn and soybeans in Iowa have been impacted by the recent derecho (Deh-RAY-cho) storm. According to Lance Honing of NASS, the additional data will help to better assess the full impact. If the newly collected data justifies any changes, NASS will publish updated harvested acreage estimates in the September report. The Iowa Department of Agriculture estimates the storm impacted approximately 14 million acres of crops. Iowa officials also say the storm damaged or destroyed 57 million bushels of licensed grain storage in the state. And, tens of millions of bushels of on-farm storage were also lost during the storm, which may create grain storage challenges as farmers prepare for harvest. President Donald Trump visited Iowa Tuesday, telling local officials, "We are going to help you recover.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Awards Contracts for RFID Ear Tags The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded contracts to purchase up to eight million radio frequency identification ear tags. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says the RFID tags will help increase overall animal disease traceability in cattle and bison. The contract allows APHIS to purchase additional tags each year for up to five years. USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach (EYE-baw) says, “This will not only help offset the costs of switching to RFID tags, but also help us more quickly respond to potential disease events." USDA believes RFID devices will provide states and the cattle and bison industries with the best opportunity to rapidly contain the spread of high economic impact diseases. As part of its overall effort to increase traceability in cattle and bison, APHIS distributed more than 1.1 million RFID tags to 38 states between this past spring. Each state veterinarian distributes the tags in a way that best serves their industry. ************************************************************************************ Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Farmobile in the Farmers Edge Lawsuit The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals this week unanimously ruled in favor of Farmobile in an appeal brought by Farmers Edge regarding secret theft, breach of contract and breach of loyalty. Farmers Edge had sued Farmobile, along with its founders, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. The circuit court found that the Nebraska Court ruled correctly in denying Farmers Edge relief. Specifically, the court determined that the facts did not support the remaining claims made by Farmers Edge. The lawsuit began in 2016 when Farmers Edge claimed Farmabile misappropriated trade secrets under Nebraska law and violated certain contract terms. As announced last week, Farmobile continues to enforce its patent in a lawsuit filed against Farmers Edge in the Federal Court of Canada. That case is set for trial beginning on April 19, 2021. Farmers Edge and Farmobile both provide farmers with data and field analysis options. ************************************************************************************ Consumer Pandemic Shopping Trends Here to Stay Purchasing in bulk and online are trends here to stay, according to new consumer-based research. A global study from Momentum Worldwide reveals that only 16 percent of shoppers said they would immediately go back to the way things were before the pandemic. The trends present challenges in marketing and packaging of consumer goods and grocery items. The survey found 84 percent of consumers now shop online. However, 76 percent say they miss casually browsing, even at the grocery store. The results also found 61 percent of consumers plan to do more cooking at home and 60 percent plan to eat healthier. The trends are changing, perhaps permanently, shopping experiences and expectations. The survey found 62 percent of consumers plan to buy more groceries online after the pandemic, and 59 percent say they will purchase more home goods online post-pandemic. Though, 25 percent of consumers say they will leave online grocery shopping after the pandemic.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Politicizing Food Boxes and Other Fights In this season of party conventions, POLITICO is reporting that USDA is facing fresh scrutiny over its practice of inserting signed letters from President Trump into food boxes that are part of a $3 billion stimulus program aimed at diverting excess farm goods like meat, milk and produce to food banks and other nonprofits. The practice is criticized in a letter from House Democrats. In the letter inserted into the boxes, the president says he “prioritized sending nutrition food from our farmers to families in need” and promises to “support America's recovery every step of the way,” along with other promotional language. It also includes basic health recommendations, like urging recipients to wash their hands, stay home if they feel sick and “consider wearing a face covering when in public.” The “friction point,” POLITICO says, arises from questions from Democrats regarding the messaging, namely whether it constitutes improper political activity by USDA officials. Dozens of lawmakers led by Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, a senior House Ag Committee member, are demanding to know who ordered the Trump letters and whether it's mandatory or voluntary for contractors and nonprofits to include them in their food boxes. “Using a federal relief program to distribute a self-promoting letter from the president to American families just three months before the presidential election is inappropriate and a violation of federal law,” the Democratic critics wrote to the department on Friday. “We strongly urge you to end this practice immediately.” The report notes that the concerns largely echo the backlash against the President's signature that was reproduced on millions of stimulus checks sent to Americans by the IRS after Congress passed an initial $2 trillion economic rescue package in March. POLITICO notes that Fox News first flagged the letters and is reporting that “they were the president's daughter's idea. She has been involved in promoting the food box program since it launched in May,” POLITICO said. The initiative was already somewhat contentious because of USDA's selection of private contractors, including several with little experience in food distribution — including a wedding planner in San Antonio that was awarded nearly $40 million to pack and deliver food boxes across the Southwest. USDA officials faced criticism from Rep. Fudge and other Democrats at a recent House Ag hearing about the choice of vendors and oversight of the program. Besides heightened scrutiny of the ongoing effort, the new controversy could further motivate key lawmakers who are pushing to tighten restrictions on how the department spends any future farm relief funds. That fight, POLITICO says, has become increasingly contentious as Senate Republicans plan to introduce a scaled-back stimulus bill amid the standoff over a new virus relief plan that's dragged on for weeks. The proposed legislation would include a $300 a week enhanced unemployment benefit, money for small business aid, additional U.S. Postal Service funding and protection for employers against lawsuits stemming from COVID-19 infections, POLITICO said. It would represent a slimmed-down version of the $1 trillion legislation GOP senators introduced at the end of July as a counter-point to the $3.5 trillion plan Democrats passed in the House in May. POLITICO also noted that there are no immediate signs that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would call senators back from their August break to vote on the proposal. Any such legislation would need to get at least some Democratic support to get through the Senate and POLITICO thinks that is unlikely — and that any new stimulus may not be acted upon until September. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have offered to trim their proposal by $1 trillion but have repeatedly rejected any smaller stimulus or doing a virus relief package piecemeal. With just 78 days until the general election, the White House and congressional Republicans have been in a deadlock with Democrats over bolstering the U.S. economy with millions of people still out of work and many businesses struggling with pandemic-induced shutdowns, POLITICO said. That is despite warnings from Federal Reserve officials, economists, governors and mayors that, with much of the earlier stimulus exhausted, the risk to the economy grows every day that goes by without a deal. And, while McConnell said on Monday in Kentucky that he still hopes they can cut a deal with Democrats, he avoided “any guarantees.” “I can't tell you with certainty we're going to reach an agreement,” he said. So, we will see. While there is strong pressure for an addition relief bill, there also is strong resistance — an increasingly bitter fight producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


NASS To Resurvey Corn, Soybean Harvested Acreage In Iowa USDA's National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) will update harvested acreage information for corn and soybeans in Iowa in preparation for the September 11 Crop Production report, the agency said Monday, saying the two crops “have been particularly impacted by the recent derecho.” NASS said the additional data “will help to better assess the full impact” of the storm that rolled across the state August 10. “If the newly collected data justifies any changes, NASS will publish updated harvested acreage estimates in the September report,” the agency said. USDA reported in its Crop Progress report that condition ratings for Iowa corn put 59% of the crop in good/excellent condition as of August 16, down from 69% the prior week, with 17% rated in poor/very poor condition versus 8% the prior week. Soybean also fell, with 62% good/excellent and 12% poor/very poor versus ratings one week ag that were 70% good/excellent and 7% poor/very poor. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said Monday that USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) reported 57 counties in Iowa were in the path of the storm. In those counties, there are 14 million acres of insured crops, including 8.2 million acres of corn and 5.6 million acres of soybeans “that may have been impacted.” The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship MODIS satellite imagery and preliminary storm reports from the Storm Prediction Center signal 36 counties were hardest hit, the agency said, and “likely had the greatest impact on 3.57 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans.” Beyond the damage to crops, Naig said the state has lost “tens of millions of bushels of grain storage” just weeks before harvest was to start.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


Trump Continues to Send Mixed Messages on Phase One Trade Deal China is now “more than” living up to the purchase commitments on U.S. farm products under the Phase One trade agreement, President Donald Trump told Fox & Friends Monday. “They know I'm very angry at them” over the COVID-19 virus, Trump said. "Last week, because they know I'm very angry at them because this should have never happened, they made the largest order of corn, the largest order of soybeans in history," Trump said. "They made the largest beef order that they've done in a long time they are going the opposite way because they know how I feel because look they can't make it without us." However, on Tuesday Trump said that he was the one that postponed the trade talks between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, saying he did “not want to talk to China right now.” Asked if he would pull out of the Phase One trade deal, Trump simply said, “We'll see.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets After daily checks of the latest weather forecast and any trade news that emerges, the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be watched at 9:30 a.m. CDT for updates on last week's ethanol production, inventory level and report of gasoline demand. Minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting will be released at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather Dry conditions will again cover most primary crop areas Wednesday. Showers in the western Plains look to fade as the day progresses. Temperatures will be seasonally warm in the Midwest and very warm to hot elsewhere.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


U.S., China, Postpone Trade Deal Review The U.S. and China have postponed a review of the Phase One trade deal as China continues to buy large amounts of U.S. farm commodities. The two sides were set to meet over the weekend, but the delay allows China more time to buy U.S. crops. However, the postponement arose over scheduling conflicts, according to Reuters. Saturday marked the six-month anniversary of the trade pact entering into force. President Donald Trump told reporters last week that the trade deal was "doing very well," without adding specifics. Recently, China has ramped up purchases, including a record purchase of sorghum last week of 32 million bushels. That sale topped the previous record set in 2014 of 23 million bushels purchased in one week. Further, the Department of Agriculture reports China purchased 126,000 metric tons of soybeans last week. However, trade experts say China is still behind the pace needed to meet levels of commodity purchases promised in the trade deal. ************************************************************************************ Roberts Leads Letter Urging Flexibility for School Meals Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts calls on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide flexibilities for school meals and child nutrition. Leading lawmakers in a letter to Perdue, the Kansas Republican says, "As the school year begins, the challenges brought on by the COVID emergency persist." The letter asks Perdue to continue using the child nutrition program waiver authority to assist school food authorities and non-school sponsoring organizations. The lawmakers urge USDA to utilize program flexibilities, grants or reimbursements that assist school food authorities with procuring, preparing, and serving meals in a manner consistent with COVID-19 school re-opening guidelines. The lawmakers say schools are working to provide children meals while schools explore various and blended models of in-person and virtual classroom sessions. The letter also seeks support for non-school sponsors providing meals to children on remote-learning days or when in-classroom learning is unavailable. The letter includes 20 Senators, requesting the action from USDA. ************************************************************************************ Iowa Storm Damage Estimates The Iowa Department of Agriculture says there are approximately 14 million acres of insured crops potentially damaged by the derecho (Deh-RAY-cho) storm a week ago. This includes 8.2 million acres of corn and 5.6 million acres of soybeans that may have been impacted by the storm. The storm destroyed several grain bins. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig adds, “the state has lost tens of millions of bushels of grain storage just a few weeks before harvest begins.” Scouts on the Pro Farmer Midwestern Crop Tour will report on some of the damages this week. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds requested near $4 billion in federal aid to assist farmers in a letter to President Donald Trump over the weekend. The President on Monday signed an emergency declaration for Iowa. The storm impacted nearly 37.7 million acres of farmland across the Midwest, with Iowa appearing to take the brunt of the storm. ************************************************************************************ Dakota Producers Can Use Cover Crops for Forage Earlier than Normal The Department of Agriculture will allow farmers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres in select counties in North and South Dakota to hay, graze or chop those fields starting next month. Typically, farmers cannot do so until November 1. USDA’s Risk Management Agency says the change is being made because of excessive moisture and flooding in 42 counties in the two states. USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey says, "We made this one-year adjustment to help farmers remain good stewards of the land and provide an opportunity to ensure quality forage is available for livestock this fall." Flooding and excessive rainfall in parts of the country have resulted in a significant amount of prevented planting claims under Federal crop insurance. Given these weather events and the need for animal feed, flexibility around the use of a cover crop planted on prevented planted acreage for haying, grazing and cutting for silage has become necessary. ************************************************************************************ Corps releases Upper Mississippi River Draft Master Plan The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District seeks comments on its master plan draft for the Upper Mississippi River and environmental assessment. Released last week, the master plan encompasses the Upper Mississippi River from the Twin Cities to Lock and Dam 10 in Guttenberg, Iowa. The current plan reflects changes in policy related to master plan content, format and land classification. The 2020 master plan is based on regional and local needs, resource capabilities, suitability, and expressed public interests consistent with authorized project purposes, pertinent legislation and regulations. It provides a district-level policy consistent with national objectives, other state and regional goals and programs. The Corps completed its first master plan for this area in 1948. Additional updates occurred in 1983 and 1988, as well as a 2011 land-use allocation plan. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, a final determination of the master plan’s draft environmental assessment will be made following a 30-day public review period. ************************************************************************************ Noble Research Institute Hosting Cattle Marketing Strategy Webinars The Noble Research Institute’s Integrity Beef Alliance Program will host two online learning events about marketing cattle strategically with the Integrity Beef programs. The program simplifies cow-calf producer management decisions and increases marketing opportunities through the production of high-quality cattle. The first event, Marketing Cattle Strategically with Integrity Beef Terminal Calf Program, will be from 2-4 p.m. CDT Tuesday, September 1. This event will focus on the marketing benefits that a cow-calf producer can see when participating in the program. The second event, Marketing Heifers Strategically with Integrity Beef Replacement Female Program, will be from 2-4 p.m. CDT Wednesday, September 2. The program is centered on properly developing and vaccinating first-calf heifers with protocols to develop a breeding program to ensure calving ease and high weaning weights of the first calf. There is no registration fee, but preregistration is required to receive meeting login details before the event. For more information and to register, visit www.noble.org/events.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Fed Inflation Target Coming Bloomberg is reporting this week that the Fed is close to adopting a new inflation strategy with a somewhat relaxed target, especially with regard to “crossing its 2% goal.” The report notes that more “radical” options were rejected after the Fed's year-plus listening tour. Bloomberg calls the change as “a subtle yet profound shift in monetary policy” and that it likely will officially embrace the new view. In addition to fighting the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Fed Chair Jerome Powell and colleagues spent 2020 finishing up the central bank's first-ever review of how it pursues the goals of maximum employment and price stability set for it by Congress. It's a process that began in early 2019 and included a nationwide listening tour. Bloomberg thinks that the Fed is now close to presenting the results, perhaps as soon as September. The central bank will signal clearly to the market that not only will the Fed tolerate inflation temporarily above 2%, “but that it favors it, and will try to aim in that direction,” said Mickey Levy, chief economist for the U.S. and Asia at Berenberg Capital Markets. Several other economists interviewed made precisely the same prediction and agreed that many Fed officials have already been pursuing that strategy for months. Investors also see it coming. The 10-year breakeven rate, a market-based gauge for expected annual inflation over the next decade, has rebounded to 1.66% from as low as 0.47% in March. “Rising inflation expectations are, in part, indicative of the market beginning to price in the Fed's shift,” said Bill Merz, senior portfolio strategist and head of fixed-income research at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis. More details on when and how the Fed will wrap up its review may be revealed this week when the central bank releases minutes to the July 28-29 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. The shift in how the Fed seeks to control inflation may sound meager, but it's meaningful, Bloomberg says. The Fed first pronounced a 2% target for inflation in 2012 and officials took that to mean they would always shoot for 2%, no matter how much or for how long they missed. Bygones, they said, would be bygones. However, the Fed's preferred measure of inflation has consistently fallen short, averaging just 1.4% since the target's introduction—and that's a “vexing problem for central bankers” the report says. Combined with low economic growth, it means interest rates have remained historically low. That's squeezed away the Fed's ability to fight off future economic downturns, making them deeper and longer, costing more jobs and destroying more businesses. Bloomberg sees the current, pandemic-induced recession is the perfect example. The lower end of the Fed's target range for its benchmark rate sat at a mere 1.5% when the crisis struck. Officials promptly slashed it to zero in just two moves in March--but that was nowhere near a sufficient response to the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Once again the Fed was forced to make massive bond purchases to stabilize markets and push down real borrowing costs. It's not clear yet how effective those measures will prove to have been. The issue, however, was clear even before COVID-19 hit the U.S. and by early 2020 many Fed officials had already come to the view they'd be better off sometimes pushing inflation modestly above their target so that, over time, it roughly averaged 2%. “The Fed needs to acknowledge there's a cycle with inflation,” said Ethan Harris, head of global economic research for Bank of America Corp. “Some overshooting late in the cycle makes sense.” However, for some Fed watchers, such a conclusion to the much-ballyhooed framework review likely will seem a dud, Bloomberg says. Officials chewed over, but ultimately rejected, a slew of more daring proposals, from raising the inflation target to abandoning it for a nominal GDP target. They also were cautious in re-examining what they might do when rates hit zero. They decided negative interest rates would be a bad option in the U.S. and haven't warmed to the idea of capping the yields on some Treasury securities -- known as yield-curve control -- though they haven't entirely ruled that one out. In the end they see their current tools -- bond purchases and communication on the future path of interest rates -- as still the best options. Atop that they will add the important wrinkle that inflation should average close to 2% over time. That shift, however, will only go so far. When the Fed articulates its new embrace of inflation averaging, officials likely won't apply it in rule-like fashion, economists said, and may not even mention the word “average.” “They'll use language that will convey the notion that the Fed has total, total discretion,” Berenberg's Levy said. From the beginning of the review, Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida promised “evolution, not revolution,” and that seems to be what the central bank will soon deliver. But the question for the Fed as it wraps this review is: Will it be enough? As Peter Hooper, global head of economic research for Deutsche Bank AG, put it, “Have we really increased the store of ammunition and the weapons one can draw on to deal with this problem?” At this time, the answer to that question remains unclear — even as the evolving U.S. fiscal policies continue to be vitally important. These certainly should be watched closely by producers as they evolve, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


EPA May Not Issue Decisions on Small Refiner Waivers Until After Elections EPA appears poised to not make any public announcement on its decisions relative to gap-year small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) until after the November elections. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler last week in Kansas and in Wisconsin made statements indicating the issue was complicated and that the agency had only started its analysis of the recommendations on SREs that were sent to the agency from the Department of Energy (DOE). He also questioned whether refiners could really claim being financially damaged by the waivers in 2012 or 2013 if they are still in business today. The SREs are one issue but the other matter still to be resolved is the 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs), another issue that could be delayed until later this year. Wheeler last week commented that there is great uncertainty on the gasoline demand front due to the COVID-19 situation and that EPA is reworking its proposed levels. While the law requires EPA to finalize the plans by November 30, that deadline has been missed in the past.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


Lighthizer/Liu Meeting Did Not Happen The video conference between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He that had been reported as being set for August 15 did not take place. Some reports chalk up the situation to an effort to let China continue to make their purchases of U.S. farm and other goods while other reports indicated it was nothing more than a scheduling issue. However, the session had never been formally confirmed by either government. Trade sources have noted that there have been repeated contracts between the U.S. and China throughout the process since the deal was implemented back in February. Reuters reported that China's state-owned oil firms had tentatively booked tankers for at least 20 million barrels of U.S. crude for August and September and said that trade contacts indicated that PetroChina and Sinopec had stepped up their purchases.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders will check the latest weather forecasts early Tuesday and consider the latest ratings in Monday afternoon's Crop Progress report. At 7:30 a.m. CDT, the U.S. Census Bureau will release July's housing starts. The market will also watch for any trade news that might develop. Weather Tuesday will again be dry across primary crop areas. Thunderstorm activity will be isolated in portions of the Northern Plains and Ohio Valley. This combination favors spring wheat harvest but is unfavorable for late-season row crop moisture. Meanwhile, extreme heat and fire danger remain in effect throughout the western U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


Storm Damage Estimates Still Climbing Scouts are on the Pro Farmer Crop Tour trail this week to get a look at corn and soybean crops in the Midwest. They’ll also get a look at crop damages from the derecho (Deh-RAY-cho) storm a week ago. The violent thunderstorms traveled over 700 miles from Nebraska to Indiana. The storm was so powerful, as of last Thursday, more than 300,000 people hadn’t had power restored in northern Illinois and Iowa, which was the hardest-hit state. The Washington Post says the 70 mile-per-hour winds hit more than 10 million acres of corn and soybeans in Iowa, adding more difficulty to an already challenging year for farmers. Up to 43 percent of the state’s corn and soybean crop suffered some level of damage from the storms, a big blow to the $10 billion agriculture industry that anchors Iowa’s economy. The damage was so extensive that it was even visible on weather satellites that were used to track the storm. Meteorologist Steven Bowen said on Twitter that “This has all the makings of a billion-dollar impact on agriculture in Iowa and Illinois. With that said, it will take some time for farmers to determine how much of the downed crops are salvageable for harvest.” ********************************************************************************************** China Buys Record Amount of U.S. Sorghum The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service published data showing that the U.S. recently sold a record amount of sorghum. The sale of 32 million bushels topped the previous record week of 23 million bushels that was set in December of 2014. “U.S. sorghum farmers should be encouraged by these continued sales to China,” says National Sorghum Producers and Sorghum Checkoff CEO Tim Lust. “We are making improvements to our crop not only from a yield and technology standpoint but also through quality measures that are translating directly to international buyers and noticeably-improved basis numbers across the country.” USDA says current marketing year sales totaled more than 286,000 metric tons, with 527,500 metric tons sold for the coming 2020-2021 marketing year. The recent one-week sale of 32 million bushels totaled about nine percent of total U.S. sorghum production this year. “The sales commitments are profound, and like any other high-demand situation, we expect to see basis increases enhance sorghum acres next year,” says Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director Florentino Lopez. While they’re working to enhance sales in China, the checkoff is also continuing to build future overseas markets in Vietnam, Kenya, and India. ********************************************************************************************** COVID-19 Continues Pressure on Farm Finances in the Second Quarter The effects of COVID-19 continue to put pressure on the agricultural economy and weighed down farm finances in the Kansas City Fed’s Tenth District. Farm income declined in the second quarter of 2020 at its quickest pace since 2016, due in large part to weak market conditions for key agricultural commodities. Weakness in both farm income and borrower liquidity was expected to carry into the coming months. Agricultural credit conditions remained weak overall, but still relatively stable. The decrease in liquidity was consistent across all states, with a comparably higher share of banks in Nebraska reporting reduced short-term funds among borrowers. Looking ahead, bankers expect farm borrowers to have greater difficulty repaying loans. Some of the current stability in credit conditions may be attributed to government programs that provided revenue support and additional financing options for borrowers. Even before COVID-19, the USDA was already forecasting additional declines in working capital for the U.S. farm sector in 2020. Concern about drought is placing additional pressure on the western part of the Kansas City Fed’s District. A bigger share of bankers in the west expect farmers to have trouble paying back loans in the months ahead. ********************************************************************************************** Chinese Cities Find Coronavirus in Frozen Food Imports Two cities in China have found traces of coronavirus in frozen-food imports. Samples taken from frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil and shrimp from Ecuador have both tested positive for the virus. While the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, the discoveries are causing concern that the disease can spread on surfaces and enter the food chain. One day before the Chinese announcement, Reuters says officials in New Zealand started to investigate whether the first COVID-19 cases there in more than three months were imported by freight. The World Health Organization downplayed the risk of the virus entering the food chain. While viruses can survive as long as two years in temperatures of minus four degrees Fahrenheit, scientists and officials say there is no strong evidence that the coronavirus can spread through frozen food. “People should not be afraid of food, food packaging, or delivery of food,” says Mike Ryan, the Head of Emergencies Programming for the WHO. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and USDA issued a joint statement saying that “there is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging.” ********************************************************************************************** Mexican Farmers Unhappy with Glyphosate Ban The Mexican agriculture industry expects to lose approximately 76 billion pesos, or $3.4 billion, due to a lower harvest brought on by the government’s ban on glyphosate imports. Mexico News Daily reports farmers are expecting to run out of their glyphosate stocks because imports have been banned by the Ministry of Environment during the fall-winter farming cycle. The National Agricultural Council in Mexico says the shortage will negatively impact as many as seven million farmers and other workers who are economically dependent on the agriculture industry. The National Agricultural Council issued a statement saying, “The inventories are running out. We as farmers don’t have glyphosate for the fall-winter cycle.” The council says if the government restrictions aren’t lifted, the only thing it will achieve is a major drop in food production across the country. The Mexican farmers estimate a drop of 30-50 percent in this year’s harvest, with most of the impact in grains. An agrochemical company spokesman says their industry hasn’t been able to find a replacement for glyphosate that’s nearly as effective. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Credit Institutions Increased Support to Young, Beginning, and Small Farmers A recent presentation shows Farm Credit institutions increased their support of the young, beginning, and small farmers and ranchers across the country in 2019. “Farm Credit grew and strengthened its commitment to young, beginning, and small farmers and ranchers in 2019 despite the challenges of continued low commodity prices, severe weather events, and an uncertain trade outlook,” says Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose. “Farm Credit takes its mission to support rural communities and agriculture very seriously.” He says lending to the young, beginning, and small farmers is at the core of its mission. Last year, Farm Credit increased the number of loans to young farmers by almost six percent, beginning farmers by eight percent, and small farmers by seven percent, as compared to 2018. Similarly, the dollar amount of those loans increased as well, by 7 percent to young farmers, eight percent to beginning farmers, and 16 percent to small farmers. The FCA is an independent federal regulatory agency charged with the oversight of the Farm Credit System.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Recession Pain Remains Bloomberg is reporting this week that economic pain is lingering behind U.S. retail sales recovery and that beneath the economic headlines, big shifts in sales composition are attracting attention. The analysis adds that further gains are threatened by stalemate over additional stimulus. On the surface the rebound in U.S. retail sales is a “V-shaped recovery,” the report says. But the overall figure obscures lingering economic pain across many of America's business sectors. Bloomberg notes that after a third straight monthly increase -- albeit a weaker gain than expected -- the total value of U.S. retail sales has rebounded above pre-pandemic levels. But the composition of spending looks substantially different than it did at the start of the year. Gains in online sales and at grocery stores mask the fact that certain sectors such as restaurants and bars and clothing outlets are far from fully recovered. “Where we're buying now is “a bit different,” but we're actually at some pretty strong numbers now,” said Stephen Gallagher, chief U.S. economist at Societe Generale SA. “Travel, eating out, sporting events, a lot of entertainment events -- all that is going to be struggling for quite some time.” The figures highlight a rebound in consumer spending that will help the economy dig out from its worst quarterly performance since the 1940s, even if the pickup in activity fails to extend to all retailers. While receipts at restaurants, department stores and clothing merchants remain below year-ago levels -- and closures and job cuts have hit such establishments hard -- those categories account for about 15% of overall retail sales. The outlook for overall consumer spending in coming months remains murky, though. The extra $600 in weekly jobless benefits that have propped up incomes and spending for millions of unemployed people in recent months expired at the end of July and lawmakers have been in a stalemate over another aid package. A separate report Friday showed consumer sentiment remained weak in August, increasing slightly from July but little improved from April's pandemic low. In addition, total consumer outlays -- which include spending on goods and services -- have yet to recover fully. The Commerce Department's report on Friday showed retail sales increased 1.2% from the prior month after an upwardly revised 8.4% gain in June. The monthly slowdown reflected declines at motor-vehicle dealers and building materials outlets, along with weaker gains at restaurants and clothing stores. Nine of 13 major categories rose, with the biggest increase coming at electronics and appliance stores. Such sales jumped 22.9% following a 37.6% gain in June, likely reflecting changing consumer habits such as more Americans working and learning from home. Receipts at sporting goods and hobby stores fell 5% from the prior month, after June's 27.6% rise. The S&P 500 stock index fluctuated between gains and losses on Friday, lingering near a record high. “For consumer goods spending, the recovery is over -- spending levels are back to record highs,” Wells Fargo & Co. economists Tim Quinlan and Shannon Seery said in a note. But “keep in mind that for the overall economy, outlays on services are roughly twice as large as goods and the recovery in services has been slower.” President Trump signed an executive action last week authorizing an additional $300-a-week federal top-up for those receiving at least $100 in other jobless benefits but it's not clear when jobless workers will begin to see those supplemental payments. He also allowed for a four-month deferral of payroll taxes, which would potentially give workers more spending power but there are questions over whether employers will go along and whether they'll have to pay it back later. Most importantly, the U.S. has yet to get the virus under control, though the spread has ebbed slightly in the last couple of weeks. Several Federal Reserve officials have reiterated the virus' role in the economic recovery recently, including San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly, who said Wednesday, “the virus determines the pace of our recovery. That's the main message: uncertainty is before us.” A separate report out Friday from the Federal Reserve showed total output at factories, mines and utilities rose 3% in July from the prior month, in line with projections, as a surge in motor vehicle production and unusually warm temperatures boosted the overall figure. “The economy is showing some good resiliency despite the high numbers of COVID cases,” Michael Gapen, Barclays Plc's chief U.S. economist, told Bloomberg. “I think that can continue but I think it needs some additional federal support to do that.” So, we will see. Pressure to increase anti-virus support is high and likely growing, but disagreements over details of such a package also have increased and the issue has become increasingly politicized -- a trend that is likely to intensify as the conventions heighten the drama in the coming days. Thus, the fight over economic assistance is increasingly important and should be watched closely as the economy struggles to rebound, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


USTR Nominee Clears Senate The Senate Thursday by voice vote confirmed Michael Nemelka as a deputy U.S. Trade Representative and Alina Marshall and Christian Weiler as judges to the U.S. Tax Court. Nemelka said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee that China's purchases of U.S. ag products would be picking up in the fourth quarter and also said that the U.S. could bring complaints under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as soon as this fall. This comes after USTR, USDA and the Commerce Department held the first of two public hearings on the imports of fresh produce into the U.S. Efforts to get more protections in USMCA from fresh produce imports failed, but the two hearings were set in part due to the lack of the provisions making it into the trade deal. The second hearing will take place August 20.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


VP Pence Talks Ethanol, Storm Damage in Iowa Visit President Mike Pence was in Iowa on Thursday for the rollout of the “Farmers and Ranchers for Trump Coalition,” noting that biofuel policy is an area the administration has delivered. Pence said President Donald Trump had promised to expand ethanol markets and “that's just what we've done,” noting the expansion of the use of E15 year-round. Biden campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said Pence came to Iowa “to change the narrative on the Trump administration's disastrous coronavirus response, and to distract from their record of double-crossing the ethanol industry and pursuing an erratic, costly trade policy that puts American workers on the losing side of the equation.” Pence also mentioned the derecho storm in the stop. He pledged that help was coming, but did not mention any specific federal relief that may be headed Iowa's way. “On behalf of the President of the United States and our administration I want Iowans to know we are with you. We are going to stay with you and we will work with your governor and your senators to make sure that we bring Iowa all the way back, bigger and stronger than ever before,” Pence said, to cheers. “I promise.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts will continue to be an important feature of Monday morning activity as will any trade news that develops. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CDT and will be followed by a soybean crush report for July from the National Oilseeds Processors Association. USDA's Crop Progress report will be released at 3 p.m. CDT with many wondering if any crop rating decline will show up from last week's severe wind storm. Weather Monday will be dry across all primary crop areas. Temperatures will be seasonally warm in the Midwest and very warm to hot elsewhere. The dry pattern is indicated to remain through the end of August, leading to possible effect on filling crops. Dry and stressfully hot conditions will be notable in the western U.S. also.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


July Equipment Sales Numbers Climb Higher Despite Uncertainty July was the fourth-consecutive positive month in the U.S. for overall unit sales of agricultural tractors and self-propelled combines. July numbers in Canada were also positive for the second-straight month. The latest information from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 34 percent in July when compared to July 2019. June’s self-propelled combine sales grew 33.6 percent. Four-wheel drive tractors continued their decline in unit sales in the U.S. in July, falling 21 percent for the month and 13 percent so far in 2020. Total year-to-date sales of all farm tractors are up 14 percent in 2020, while combines broke into positive territory for the first time in 2020, now up four percent in the same period. “We’re continuing to see demand in the small, medium, and harvesting sectors,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at AEM. “The continuously-developing nature of COVID-19 and its effect on the agricultural sector is keeping our optimism cautious.” Growth in the U.S. market has outpaced the five-year average each month and Blades says they’re hoping that trend continues. ********************************************************************************************** Food Prices Decline in July After months of steady increases, the prices consumers pay for their groceries dropped in July. The monthly Consumer Price Index says that was the first decline in the price of food since April of 2019. However, the decrease was less than half a percent and Americans are still paying more for food than they did in 2019. Prices in the last 12 months have risen 4.1 percent. COVID-19 forcing Americans to stay at home and cook more of their meals has driven up demand and prices at supermarkets. Prices for food that Americans typically eat at home is up almost five percent over the past year. The Detroit Free Press says meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and cereals showed some of the sharpest increases seen in decades through April, May, and June. However, prices for those same products fell 3.8 percent in July. Beef prices dropped the most in July at 8.2 percent. Back in April, beef prices had soared over 10 percent, with cuts like beef roasts increasing 20 percent. While prices for specific cuts dropped in July, those prices are still 14 percent higher than last year. Dairy prices dropped 0.8 percent in July, the second-straight month of a decline. ********************************************************************************************** Western Oil Refineries are Converting into Biofuel Plants Massive oil refineries in the western United States are making an unexpected transition. They’re being converted into biofuel plants. Phillips 66 recently announced it will convert a California oil refinery into a biofuel plant as gas continues to lose some luster to fuels that come from agricultural and waste products. The company’s 120,000 barrel-a-day refinery near San Francisco will become the world’s biggest renewable diesel plant. Before that, fuel giant Marathon Petroleum Corporation announced it may be converting two refineries into renewable diesel plants. Back in June, Holly Frontier Corporation said it’s turning their Cheyenne, Wyoming refinery into a renewable diesel plant by 2022. Bloomberg says refiners are struggling with depressed demand and an uncertain future because of COVID-19. However, California may offer a pathway to staying in business because the demand for renewable diesel is surging throughout the state. An industry expert tells Bloomberg that there is “overcapacity” in the refining market. The basic question before refiners now is whether they shut down their plants or will they instead repurpose their operations? Nick Weinberg-Lynn of Phillips 66 says, “The California market for the renewable diesel product is the largest in the world.” Phillips will invest $700 million to $800 million in the conversion process. ********************************************************************************************** Mexico Will Phase Out Glyphosate by 2024 By the time the current Mexican administration ends in 2024, Mexico will have phased out the use of glyphosate. President Andres Manuel (Man-WELL) Lopez Obrador made the announcement this week following a ministerial disagreement over the product. The herbicide, which is used in brands like Roundup, has caused differences between his agriculture and environment ministries. The Mexican president says the government will immediately stop using glyphosate in its projects. The agriculture ministry announced that private food producers will have until 2024 to phase out the use of glyphosate, which has sparked safety concerns in numerous countries around the globe. “We couldn’t get rid of it all at once,” the president said to reporters. “It can’t be done; it would hit food output. We would have to import, and the products we bring in would also be grown with the same agrochemicals.” The president’s announcement follows a leaked audio recording of his Environmental Minister, who has been a strong critic of the herbicide, criticizing the government for internal contradictions during a private meeting. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Hemp Growers Association will be at Farm Journal Field Days The U.S. Hemp Growers Association is happy to announce it will be involved in Farm Journal Field Days. The U.S. hemp industry is continuing to grow and advance, so they’ll be offering opportunities for farmers and hemp businesses to advance knowledge and contacts in hemp and provide resources for hemp growers. The USHGA is a nonprofit group dedicated to providing resources to farmers about the best agricultural practices for growing hemp, as well as information about the regulatory and legislative developments they need to know about. The group is also an information network for policymakers, researchers, and other industry stakeholders. “The U.S. Hemp Growers Association is excited to exhibit at Farm Journal Field Days,” says Caren Wilcox, the executive director of the association. “We believe events like this unite farmers nationwide and bring us closer to our mission of education and outreach.” Wilcox will give a policy update and Michael Bowman, Chair of the USHGA, will speak to attendees about the organization. Hemp growers will also be available at the booth. ********************************************************************************************** Mustard Family Member Seen as a Potential Biofuel Source Lesquerella is a member of the mustard family that is native to the Southwest U.S. Agricultural Research Service scientists are now looking at it as a potential home-grown source of butanol. It’s a cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline that was produced around the world until after World War 2 when making the fuel from petroleum sources was more efficient than fermenting it from corn and molasses. Now that fermentation and product-recovery technology have advanced, a team at the ARS’ National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Illinois hopes to rekindle the production of butanol as a biobased fuel. They’ve begun conducting research to expand the list of butanol feedstocks that can be used, and they’re finding fiber-rich crop residues like wheat straw, sweet sorghum, and corn stover work well. The team’s efforts are part of a broader umbrella effort at the ARS to create new, value-added markets for commodities, especially if they could eventually be sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuels.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Much of Economy Shut Out of Borrowing Boom Bloomberg is reporting this week that the massive government stimulus now allows more companies to borrow at lower rates than ever before but, “smaller firms that power America's economic engine are often being shut out, hamstringing the recovery just as it begins.” The Federal Reserve's pledge to use its near limitless balance sheet to buy corporate bonds has aided stricken airlines, oil drillers and hotels. It's also helped companies from Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to Visa Inc. and Chevron Corp. to access some of the cheapest financing ever seen. All told, firms have sold about $1.9 trillion of investment-grade debt, junk bonds and leveraged loans this year, Bloomberg says. Still, for companies not large enough to tap fixed-income markets, banks are tightening conditions on loans to smaller firms at a pace not seen since the financial crisis – while many direct lenders that have traditionally focused on the middle market are pulling back or turning to bigger deals. What's more, the Fed's emergency lending programs for mid-sized businesses and municipalities have been criticized as slow, complex, and largely inaccessible, Bloomberg says. A lack of credit for small and medium-sized firms could tip many into bankruptcy, adding to the thousands of local businesses that have already quietly disappeared. Given the sector employs roughly 68 million Americans, Fed Chair Jerome Powell calls it America's “jobs machine” and sees it as critical to regional economies across the U.S. “The Fed actions have moved issuers that are big enough in front of the velvet rope – while those that aren't stay outside,” said Peter Atwater, an adjunct lecturer of economics at William & Mary. “Capital markets access has become a determiner of life or death for business.” And while many economists commend the Fed for its quick and decisive actions when the pandemic hit, they also note that certain parts of the economy are clearly benefiting more than others – the big and powerful over the small and financially vulnerable, a disparity that to some degree mirrors the broader inequality problems that have been exposed by the pandemic. The Fed announced its corporate bond-buying plan in March, opening the issuance floodgates after the coronavirus outbreak brought the market to a virtual standstill. Investment-grade firms have borrowed more than $1.3 trillion in 2020, a record pace, Bloomberg said. Alphabet's $10 billion bond sale earlier this month saw record-low yields on the seven-year portion, besting levels set by Amazon in June. On the high-yield side, aluminum-packaging company Ball Corp. sold $1.3 billion of 10-year notes at 2.875% on Monday, the lowest ever for a U.S. speculative-grade offering with a maturity of five year or longer. “It's a battle between the Fed's $750 billion special purpose vehicle to buy corporate investment-grade and high-yield bonds and those who don't have access to this free money,” said Stephen Blumenthal, chief executive officer at money manager CMG Capital Management Group Inc. And, it's a battle that smaller companies are decidedly losing, Bloomberg thinks. Some 70% of bank senior loan officers surveyed by the Fed said they have tightened lending standards on loans for small commercial and industrial firms in the third quarter. The trend also extends to mid-size and larger firms, though the latter enjoy unprecedented access to capital markets. About 54% said they increased premiums for small borrowers, the most in over a decade. Everyone is willing to lend to the biggest firms,” said Olivier Darmouni, a professor of finance at Columbia Business School. “But since the pandemic has not been tamed, creditors are now asking if the businesses will actually survive and they'll get their money back. For smaller firms, there's a lot more uncertainty of that.” In a bid to encourage banks to extend credit to mid-size firms, the Fed introduced its $600 billion Main Street Lending Program in April—but despite efforts to broaden the program, it's issued just $253 million in loans as of Aug. 10. Critics say the program only works for a narrow set of companies, is too complex and doesn't provide enough incentive to risk-averse lenders. Making matters worse, direct lenders, which often provide financing to small and mid-size firms, have been retrenching for months as they tend to their own portfolios, while those sitting atop the most capital are increasingly targeting bigger deals. Of course, the tale of diverging 'haves' and 'have nots' is hardly new in credit, manifesting when economic turbulence prompts lenders to retrench and investors to seek the relative safety of stable, blue-chip firms. But the magnitude of the disparity this time around is more alarming when combined with expectations for record corporate defaults this year, Bloomberg says. A growing chorus is also warning on inflation, which can hit smaller firms particularly hard. One of those is Larry McDonald, founder of The Bear Traps Report investment newsletter. “It's an inequality explosion in terms of financial sustainability,” said McDonald, who also authored the book 'A Colossal Failure of Common Sense' about the demise of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. “You have financial conditions tightening in some spots, and then wide open for the big guys – it's crazy.” So, we will see. The Fed's credit programs are increasingly essential now, and should be watched closely as they become increasingly important to the economy across the board, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


China Official Calls On US To Stop Taking 'Restrictive' Actions Saying the COVID-19 situation has clearly impacted China's purchases of U.S. goods and services under the Phase One agreement, Assistant Ministry of Commerce Ren Hongbin called on the U.S. to stop taking “restrictive” actions and create a more-positive atmosphere for implementing the Phase One agreement between the two sides. "Under the current situation, it is required that the both sides need to work together and step up cooperation to overcome the difficult times," Ren stated. “We hope U.S. would stop taking any restrictions and discriminatory action against Chinese companies and create conditions for the implementation of the Phase 1 trade agreement." U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are to take part in a video conference August 15 to assess the Phase One agreement status.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


EPA's Wheeler Raises Questions On Gap-Year Refinery Exemption Requests So-called “gap year” petitions for small refinery exemptions (SREs) for previous compliance years are still being reviewed by EPA, and agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in Wisconsin he has questions about some of those petitions. “One question that I personally have is how can you prove an economic harm in 2012 if you're still in existence today?” Wheeler said during a Wisconsin farm tour. The Department of Energy recently sent its recommendations to EPA. As for the 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel recommendations and the renewable volume obligations, Wheeler said the process of determining those levels remains uncertain. “People are still not driving as much as previous years, we take that into account when we set the RVO,” said Wheeler. “We're still going through all the data to try to figure out what the impact COVID is going to have on the RVO... Then we also have to look at what the remedy is because the appropriate remedy would not be to give people current year RINS for something from 2012 or 2013.” He noted EPA did send a package to the Office of Management and Budget for review in May but now said that the entire landscape has changed since then. Wheeler said EPA has been proud to be able to meet the deadline for the RVO proposal the previous three years of the administration but “it does not look like we're going to be on time this year.” It is not clear why the agency sent the plan to OMB given the uncertainty that Wheeler said exists with COVID-19.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. retail sales is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by the Federal Reserve's report on U.S. industrial production at 8:15 a.m. and an index of U.S. consumer sentiment at 9 a.m. The latest weather forecasts are still important as is any trade news ahead of Saturday's meeting between the U.S. and China. Friday is the last trading day for August hogs and August soybean contracts. Weather Scattered showers are expected across the Northern and Central Plains through the Upper Midwest on Friday and could be strong to severe. More scattered showers will be found in the Southeastern Plains through the Southeast and some showers may make their way northward into the eastern Midwest as well. Temperatures will be mild across the north but very hot in the south.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


NCBA Pleased with Hours of Service Exemption The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Division announced a 30-day extension to the Hours of Service Exemption for livestock and feed haulers. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says it’s pleased with the decision. “Livestock haulers are crucial to keeping beef moving through the supply chain and on to grocery store shelves,” says NCBA’s Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera. “We thank the DOT and FMSCA for extending this exemption and giving crucial relief to critical infrastructure.” However, she says while this is a definite win for the cattle industry, more still needs to be done. “NCBA will continue to work with the Trump administration and Congress to find a permanent fix for the Hours of Service Regulations,” she adds. The Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an emergency declaration at the beginning of COVID-19 to exempt livestock haulers from the burdensome Hours of Service Regulations. The most-recent 30-day extension to that declaration was set to expire on August 14. The new extension now runs through September 14. ********************************************************************************************** Kudlow: U.S.-China Trade Deal in “Fine Shape” The White House’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow says the U.S. and China trade deal is in “fine shape.” He notes that China is continuing to buy U.S. goods, particularly commodities, under the Phase One trade deal with the U.S. Reuters says the purchases are happening despite tensions over Hong Kong and other issues between the two nations. Kudlow denied that deteriorating ties between the two countries on other issues would lead to the trade deal being scrapped. “The one area we are engaged in is trade,” he said to reporters at the White House. “it’s fine right now.” Top U.S. and Chinese officials will meet for a “routine” video conference on Saturday to assess the implementation of the Phase One agreement six months into its existence. The deal diffused a trade war that impacted both of the nations as well as the global economy. Kudlow, Director of the White House National Economic Council, says, “The evidence shows they’ve stepped up purchases substantially.” Despite what Kudlow says are “really good numbers,” China remains far short of its overall purchasing target for 2020. The U.S. exported $7.2 billion in agricultural goods to China in the first half of 2020, far below the $36.5 billion they agreed to under the trade deal. ********************************************************************************************** Corn and Soybean Harvest Expected to Set Records in August WASDE U.S. farmers are expected to harvest a lot of corn and soybeans this year. The August World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates report says corn production is forecast at a record-high of 15.3 billion bushels, up 278 million from last month. The season’s first survey-based corn yield forecast is at a record 181.8 bushels per acre, up 3.3 bushels from last month’s trend-based projection. Corn ending stocks rose more than 100 million bushels to 2.76 billion. The season-average corn price dropped 25 cents to $3.10 a bushel. The soybean production forecast is 4.42 billion bushels, up 290 million bushels on expected higher yields. The yield forecast is at a record 53.3 bushels per acre, up 3.5 bushels from last month. Soybean ending stocks rose 185 million bushels higher from last month to 610 million bushels in the August report. The season-average soybean price is forecast at $8.35 a bushel, 15 cents lower than in July. U.S. wheat production jumped 14 million bushels to 1.84 billion. Wheat ending stocks dropped by 17 million bushels to 925 million, and if realized, that would be the lowest ending stocks in six years. The U.S. season-average farm price dropped by a dime to $4.50 a bushel. The first cotton production forecast of the year is 18.1 million bales, nine percent lower than last year. Yield is expected to be a record high of 928 pounds per acre. ********************************************************************************************** Refiners Say Biofuel Bills Soaring During Demand Slump U.S. oil refiners say biofuel blending requirements will cost them the highest amount of money they’ve spent since 2018. The refiners say it’s putting more pressure on margins already hit by the collapse in oil prices and demand which began in March. The Financial Post says COVID-19 has led to less blending activity and as a result, fewer Renewable Identification Numbers being issued. With fewer of the compliance credits available, the price of RINs has gone up as well. As of earlier this week, the price for corn-based ethanol fuel credits in 2020 has risen almost fivefold this year to 43.50 cents each. An oil industry executive says RINs are one more cost to contend with in a refining environment which is seeing margins under pressure because of so much excess refining capacity around the world. The higher cost of RINs combined with lower margins due to COVID-19 have added urgency to the refiners’ side of the debate in Washington, D.C., around blending requirements. Lawmakers from oil-producing states have called for relief for refiners during COVID-19, due in part to the increased RIN prices. ********************************************************************************************** No Change in Land Values in 2020 The average value of agricultural cropland sits at $4,100 per acre in 2020. That’s unchanged from last year but in line with recent record highs seen in 2019 and 2015. USDA’s 2020 Land Values report says the average value of cropland, including all land and buildings on farms, was $3,160 per acre in 2020. That’s unchanged from 2019’s record high. The average value for pastureland was $1,400 an acre this year, unchanged from 2019. Cash rental rates for cropland averaged $139 per acre in 2020, down a dollar an acre from 2019. Agricultural land values were the highest in the Northeastern states. Densely-populated urban areas like Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, represent four of the top five states in terms of average agricultural land values. California rounds out the top five. Outside of urban areas, agricultural land values were highest through the Corn Belt, the Great Lakes region, the Southeast, and the Pacific Northwest. Through the Corn Belt, agricultural land values were highest in Illinois at $7,400 an acre, followed by Iowa at $7,100 an acre. Western states with both a higher concentration of livestock feeding operations and a high percentage of pastureland had lower average agricultural land values. ********************************************************************************************** Schumer Asks Perdue to Delay Hemp Regulations Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rarely gets involved in agricultural issues. However, the Hagstrom Report says he asked Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to delay issuing a U.S. Domestic Hemp Production final rule until 2022. That move would allow hemp growers and producers in his home state of New York and across the country to continue to operate under the 2014 Farm Bill Pilot Program until that time. Schumer notes that COVID-19 is a solid reason for the delay. He also knows about some criticism for the interim final rule and says a delay “will allow USDA to address some of the more pressing regulatory critiques while giving states and producers additional time to come into compliance.” Allan Gandleman is President of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. He says the more than 700 registered hemp farmers in Schumer’s home state of New York would be negatively affected by USDA’s interim final rule on hemp.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


Washington Insider: The Struggle to Provide Essential Antivirus Support Politico is reporting this week that after a spring and summer bolstered by cash infusions from the federal government of more than $3 trillion, the U.S. economy may have to sink or swim this fall with a relative trickle of support — a scenario that presents a significant threat to the administration as it heads into a compressed reelection campaign. Negotiations on another large fiscal aid package remained stalled and administration officials said they “held no hope of any movement this week — perhaps even for the rest of the month.” Also, economists “mostly say” the administration's executive actions would have limited impact, even if they manage to survive potential legal and operational challenges. Politico thinks that this means that for the moment, struggling small businesses are running out of their initial aid with no replenishment in sight. State and local governments face mounting budget shortages that could spur significant layoffs this fall. And schools are waiting on much-needed funding to open safely. Politico sees this as boiling down to the expectation that absent a fresh breakthrough on another stimulus bill, an economy that cratered by historic proportions in the first half of the year amid the COVID-19 epidemic will have to continue to snap back without much federal help, at least beyond the easy-money policies put in place by the Federal Reserve. At the same time, Politico says White House officials expect that the executive actions will do a lot to boost the recovery while also putting Democrats on defense politically. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said “I'm the first to admit there is way too much unemployment out there and we really do need to help people and we came up with a good compromise way to do that.” Kudlow frames the payroll tax deferral as a $1,200 wage increase “for the heroes who are working through this whole pandemic. And if after-tax wages go up, that's an incentive to go back to work. And politically, it may well move us toward negotiations.” Trump on Saturday moved to circumvent Congress with four executive actions that would attempt to provide $400 per month in extra jobless benefits by redirecting existing federal disaster aid money. The order says states would have to come up with 25% of the money, but Trump later said the federal government would cover the whole payment if struggling states could not. Kudlow said the extra benefit could be even higher — as much as $800 — because the administration would work to repurpose more funds and add to whatever states are able to provide. It's unclear when the benefit would kick in or how long it would last. States were still seeking guidance this week and some worried they'd need to build a new system for delivering benefits under this program. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he thought states could start distributing the new benefits “within the next week or two.” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows conceded that major issues remain unaddressed. “The downside of executive orders is you can't address some of the small business incidents that are there,” he said on Sunday.” And, the White House says it still wants a larger deal, despite major differences with Democrats on the price tag and what new legislation would include. But Meadows did not say when he might restart talks with Democratic leaders on the Hill, only that “if we can get a fair deal we're willing to do it this week.” “It's unclear where we go from here. The recovery may be ongoing but downside risks absent further stimulus are significant,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “Without additional help, incomes and spending will surely retrench. Market analysts say the stock market's resilience is partly because second-quarter earnings — though dramatically lower than 2019 — have mostly not come in as badly as feared. And the Fed's commitment to keep interest rates low and pumping vast sums of money into markets to boost growth is driving investors into stocks. But part of the market strength is also an assumption — perhaps an incorrect one — that Republicans and Democrats will ultimately have to make a deal for something around $2 trillion in further stimulus rather than face the election risk of a freshly declining economy Still, it's virtually impossible to find analysts who believe a deal won't ultimately get made, Politico says. “The executive orders will likely force Democrats to come back to the negotiating table,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at foreign exchange trading firm OANDA, said. “Democrats will likely make some big concessions and a deal around the $1.5 trillion level should be reached. The economic recovery will continue and still be fueled by stimulus before and after the election.” So, we will see. It is clear that there is wider support for economic interventions than in previous recessions — but producers should watch closely as lawmakers continue to struggle to find a path to make the support as effective as many suggest is needed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


USDA Continuing To Work on Unsolicited Seed Packages USDA has more than 9,000 emails from consumers that have received unsolicited packets of seed, presumably sent from China, according to Osama El-Lissy with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). So far, USDA has only received 925 seed packets and has gone through those and so far, El-Lissy said, has only found two noxious weeds – dodder and water spinach. “We are working to figure out who is actually sending those shipments and more importantly, to stop future shipments,” El-Lilly told USDA Radio. USDA has also been working with their counterparts in China to identify the actual senders, he noted, saying they know the names of the companies but do not know background information. USDA said it has been working with primary commerce companies to “use their own systems in stopping future shipments.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


China Phase One Deal In Focus As Meeting Approaches China continues its purchases of U.S. commodities under the Phase One agreement signed between the U.S. and China to start the year, with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow telling reporters the deal is “fine.” Asked if deteriorating ties between the world's two largest economies on other fronts could result in the trade deal being thrown out the window, Kudlow said, "No, no." Despite the tensions between the two sides, Kudlow said that the one area between the two countries that is “fine right now” is trade. “The one area we are engaging is trade," he stated. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are to meet via teleconference to assess the progress on the deal, reportedly on Saturday, August 15. Beijing is pushing for the recent measures targeting businesses including TikTok and WeChat to be on the agenda. Along with agricultural purchases and the dollar-yuan exchange rate, which are among topics to be discussed, Chinese officials intend to bring up Trump's prospective bans on transactions with the two apps on national security grounds, Bloomberg reported.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Traders will likely reflect overnight on Wednesday's latest estimates from USDA. Weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor start Thursday's reports at 7:30 a.m. CDT. U.S. natural gas inventories are released at 9:30 a.m. The latest weather forecasts and trade news will also be watched, as usual. Weather Showers and thunderstorms will cross the northern and western Midwest, Delta and Southeast Thursday. Rainfall will be light to locally moderate with some severe storm potential in the northern storms. Temperatures will be seasonally warm north, central and southeast and very hot in the Southern Plains and Texas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


USDA Announces More Eligible Commodities for CFAP The Department of Agriculture Tuesday added additional commodities to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. USDA also extended the deadline to September 11 for producers to apply for the program, a request by agriculture organizations. The changes follow USDA review of more than 1,700 responses from the public. The announcement expands the types of specialty crops covered under the program, as well as liquid eggs, frozen eggs and all sheep, and aquaculture and horticulture products. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the announcement shows, "President Trump is standing with America's farmers and ranchers to ensure they get through this pandemic." USDA says the changes will give more farmers and ranchers the opportunity for assistance to help keep operations afloat. Farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, requested the changes in a recent letter to Secretary Perdue. The coalition cited the low number of participants and that roughly half of the near $16 billion of aid is still available. ************************************************************************************ Pandemic and Politics Aside, U.S.-China Trade Ties Continue, For Now Despite an unprecedented downturn in U.S.-China relations during a pandemic, U.S. businesses are not leaving the China market. The U.S.-China Business Council released its annual survey of members Tuesday, which shows nearly 70 percent expressing optimism about the commercial prospects of the market, and 87 percent of companies reporting that they have no plans to shift production out of China. But those numbers contradict a trend of progressively diminishing optimism in the short- to medium-term prospects of the China market. One-quarter of member companies have reduced or stopped planned investment in China in the last year. The top reasons were increased costs or uncertainties from U.S.-China tensions and uncertainty stemming from COVID-19. Full implementation of the Phase One trade agreement is one way to restore confidence as 88 percent of respondents have a positive or somewhat positive view of the agreement, namely because it put a lid on escalating tariffs and added an element of stability to the bilateral relationship. ************************************************************************************ NPPC: COVID-19 Demonstrates Need to Enhance Livestock Risk Protection Insurance Program Pork producers in the United States want the Department of Agriculture to implement enhancements to the Livestock Risk Protection insurance program, known as LRP. The National Pork Producers Council and 26 state pork associations say the changes will mitigate the impact of unexpected declines in hog values from unanticipated events like the COVID-19 pandemic. NPPC President Howard A.V. Roth, says, the changes, if adopted, “would undoubtedly draw more hog farmer participants to the program and help offset losses caused by catastrophic events like the one we are experiencing today.” In a letter to USDA’s Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, NPPC requested an increased subsidy to make the program more affordable to livestock farmers, particularly when a risk management program is most needed but often cost-prohibitive. Further, NPPC seeks expansion of the coverage period to 52 weeks and an increase in the number of head eligible. The current maximum coverage period of 26 weeks, combined with limitations on the number of pigs that can be covered, have “significantly limited program participation.” ************************************************************************************ Organic Farmers Outraged Over FSA Announcement to Reducing Cost Share Reimbursements The Department of Agriculture this week announced Organic Certification Cost Share Program funds to offset the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification. Applications for eligible certification expenses paid between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, are due October 31, 2020. However, due to expected participation levels and the limited funds available, the Farm Service Agency revised the reimbursement amount available through fiscal year 2023. Certified producers and handlers are now eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 50 percent of the certified organic operation's eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $500 per scope. The National Organic Coalition says the 2018 Farm Bill “clearly set reimbursement rates” at 75 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $750 per scope. In a statement, the coalition says it is “outraged that USDA’s Farm Service Agency has chosen to reduce reimbursements to organic producers in the midst of a pandemic.” ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Praise USDA Response to Unsolicited Seeds A group of lawmakers offers thanks to the Department of Agriculture for diligently investigating unsolicited seeds sent to U.S. residents. Led by Representative Jodey Arrington, a Texas Republican, a group of 20 lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week. The letter thanks USDA for their collaboration at the local, state, and federal level and continuing efforts to protect the nation’s food security. The letter states, “We encourage USDA to take seriously the potential risks associated with the illegal entry of these seeds as the agency carries out its security and bioterrorism preparedness efforts.” The lawmakers urge USDA to “continue collaborating with all relevant agencies to develop a plan of action to improve the detection of potential bioterrorism threats.” The unsolicited seeds, sent to residents of the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere, are thought to be part of a brushing scam that sellers use to boost reviews for products online. ************************************************************************************ Purdue Announces IoT Collaboration Purdue University will be a partner in a new National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center created to develop advanced agricultural technologies. The new technologies will address food, energy and water security challenges. With a five-year, $26 million grant, the National Science Foundation has established the Engineering Research Center for the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture. The new center, headquartered at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science, will combine the talents of more than two dozen researchers with Penn Engineering, Purdue University, the University of California, Merced, and the University of Florida. Mark Lundstrom, acting dean of Purdue University's College of Engineering, says, "Our involvement will also represent a new chapter in a long history of collaboration between the colleges of Engineering and Agriculture." Starting in the soil and reaching into the digital cloud, technologies developed through the center will collect, share and analyze data to improve farming practices, maximizing a farm's productivity while minimizing its waste and ecological impact.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Impacts of Relief Standoff Bloomberg is reporting this week that there are casualties across the nation regarding the outcome of the “failed negotiations on another trillion-dollar plus rescue package for a U.S. economy mired in a historic, pandemic-induced recession.” Near the top of the list, Bloomberg says, are the families, businesses, and state and local governments that have lost a safety net at a time when some suggest that recent gains in employment “may be transitory as the continuing spread of COVID-19 infection forces a retrenchment.” Much of the debate comes in spite of recent steps taken by the administration to try to mitigate these impacts – such as diverting disaster money to boost unemployment insurance and suspending collection of payroll taxes for some workers. President Donald Trump claims his actions “will take care of, pretty much, this entire situation,” Bloomberg says – but many economists disagree and even the administration's top aides have admitted that the Executive Orders are “no substitute for a legislative deal.” One thing the administration's response didn't do was spark an immediate return to the bargaining table. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin commented Monday that the White House would listen to any proposal put up by Democrats. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was asked whether talks would resume after two weeks of fruitless negotiations bit offered only that “she hopes so.” The president said Monday night that Democrats have contacted the administration “and want to get together,” and may be more inclined now to negotiate. However, Democratic congressional aides told Bloomberg that “Democratic leaders have had no contact with the White House since Friday.” In the meantime, the administration's executive orders are being criticized as a “thinning lifeline of relief for an already stalling U.S. economic recovery,” although Bloomberg reported that some lawmakers are suggesting that the growing concerns may increase “willingness to return to the table for negotiations.” The administration's redirection of disaster aid would provide an additional $300 a week for the unemployed, plus $100 in state funds—down from the weekly $600 in the expired CARES Act. The president's other major action could potentially have a bigger impact, Bloomberg said as it defers payroll taxes from September through the end of the year for workers who earn as much as $8,000 a month – which could put an extra $600, at most, in employees' pockets. These steps are proving controversial and are widely seen by Democrats as a backhanded way to defund Social Security and Medicare. The payroll tax deferral would “endanger seniors' Social Security and Medicare,” speaker Pelosi said. President Trump said if he's re-elected in November, he may extend the deferral and terminate the tax for some workers. Bloomberg notes that throughout his presidency, the administration has faced a barrage of lawsuits from Democrats and liberal advocacy groups challenging its broad assertions of executive power, usually over contentious issues like his crackdown on sanctuary cities or his refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations. There also are criticisms that Saturday's actions are efforts to wrest core powers away from Congress and are likely to be tied up in litigation over whether they violate core constitutional principles like the separation of powers. In particular, states are wary of the effort to require them to provide part of the aid being authorized. A day after the administration took executive action to offer $400 per week in supplemental unemployment benefits, including 25% that would be required from state coffers, governors pushed back. The leaders of states including New York and Michigan said the President's plan ignores the cash-strapped reality of most states, which have deep budget holes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. For example, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the president's order was based on “shaky ground legally” and it was “impossible” for states to pay. “The concept of saying to states 'you pay 25% of unemployment insurance' is just laughable,” Cuomo said. “The whole issue here was getting states funding.” Another Democrat, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, said requiring states “that are facing severe holes” in their budgets to pay 25% of the funding while the federal government cuts funding for unemployed workers is problematic. “His refusal to provide full federal funding to states across the country to help us combat this virus will hurt the brave men and women on the front lines,” Whitmer said. In addition to the discussions of economic policy, Bloomberg notes that the pandemic-induced downturn that initially had hints of being the sharpest but shortest on record is now displaying “increasing signs of economic scarring” that resemble past slumps. Beneath a headline number showing a better-than-expected gain in July jobs, the government's recent employment report contained indications of underlying weakness. Payrolls remain 13 million below pre-pandemic levels and the number of people out of work for 15 weeks or longer more than doubled from the prior month, to 8 million. The labor-force participation rate fell for the first time in three months and the number of people discouraged by job prospects hit a five-year high. So, we will see. Clearly, both the economic pressures and the tense pre-election climate are affecting the debates now underway. These are tense and involve high stakes, and should be watched closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


USITC Vote Will Continue Countervailing Duty Investigation On Fertilizer The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) voted August 7 that there is a “reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of phosphate fertilizers that are allegedly subsidized by the governments of Morocco and Russia.” The USITC decision means that the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) will continue its countervailing duty investigations concerning imports of these products from Morocco and Russia. DOC is due to make its preliminary determinations on or about September 21. Some weighed in with the USITC on the impacts that duties could have on farmer, citing potentially higher costs for a key crop input in the coming growing season. However, the request for the investigation was filed by fertilizer producer Mosaic based on the contention that the imports were negatively impact that company.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


CFAP Payouts Just Over $7 Billion But USDA Will Make Rest of Payments Now Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) total $7.04 billion as of August 10, still short of half of what USDA estimated to be the initial payments based on 80% of the total projected payments. Just over half of total payments made so far have gone to livestock – $3.54 billion – including $3.07 billion for cattle. Payments to non-specialty crop producers are at $1.85 billion with $1.33 billion for dairy. Specialty crop payments are at $305.6 million, 4.34% of total payments. But late Tuesday, USDA announced that it will now make the remaining 20% payments to those who have already received the payments and that it would make 100% to new producers enrolling for the aid. Plus, the signup deadline is now pushed back to September 11 from an original August 28. USDA also added several more commodities to the program, mostly specialty crops, with all sheep now eligible.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets In addition to the latest weather forecasts and any trade news that emerges, traders will notice several reports Wednesday. The U.S. Labor Department issues its consumer price index at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Energy Department has its weekly energy inventory report at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol. USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports are due out at 11 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Treasury updates the federal budget at 1 p.m. Weather Showers and thunderstorms will cross the Northern and central Plains and western Midwest along with the Delta Wednesday. Rainfall totals will be light to moderate. In addition, some of the activity in northern areas could reach severe storm levels. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere with stressful heat in the Southern Plains and high fire potential in the northwestern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


Canada Also Receiving Unsolicited Seeds Canadian Agriculture officials warn residents not to plant unsolicited seeds delivered from China, the same seeds sent to the United States. In a statement last week, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has received reports from more than 750 residents who have received unsolicited seeds. The seeds are likely part of a brushing scam, where scammers send unsolicited products to residents and then write a fake positive review of the product, the same brushing scam in the United States. The CFIA continues to work with the Canada Border Services Agency and Canada Post and its international partners to identify the seed origins and stop the flow of unsolicited seeds into Canada. The CFIA asks Canadians who receive seeds they did not order to put the seeds in a sealed bag and send them to a regional CFIA office, while also refrain from planting, flushing or composting the seeds to prevent spreading. ************************************************************************************ House Ag Committee Seeks Specialty Crop Relief House Agriculture Committee members seek more Coronavirus Food Assistance Program relief for specialty crop growers. The group recently sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue with the request. Led by Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, A Democrat from the U.S. Virgin Islands, the lawmakers say, “The direct payment program under CFAP has failed to provide equitable relief to the specialty crop sector.” The lawmakers say the funds have been particularly difficult to access for specialty crop farmers who are young, socially disadvantaged, or rely on local markets with diversified production practices. As of August 3, 2020, USDA had provided more than $6.8 billion in direct payments to domestic farmers and ranchers. Out of that total, only $270 million has been provided to specialty crop producers, representing less than four percent of overall assistance. To remedy the issue, the lawmakers requested, “USDA must do more to assist the specialty crop sector, particularly those farmers who are young, socially disadvantaged, or sell into local markets.” ************************************************************************************ Trade Commission Says U.S. Harmed by Cheap Imported Fertilizer The United States International Trade Commission last week determined cheap fertilizer imports may harm U.S. fertilizer producers. The commission says cheap phosphate fertilizers imported from Morocco and Russia are allegedly subsidized by their governments. As a result, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue with its countervailing duty investigations. The investigation could lead to import duties on the fertilizers. However, farm-state Senators disagree with the investigation. In a letter to the Department of Commerce last week, a group of Senators stated, “U.S. farmers depend on affordable phosphate fertilizers to produce a variety of crops.” Led by Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran (More-ran), the group notes the current economic downturn, saying, “it is especially important during this downturn in the agricultural economy to avoid imposing unnecessary duties that will limit fertilizer supply options and raise the cost of production for farmers.” Senators from Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Mississippi and Texas joined Moran on the letter. ************************************************************************************ USDA Annual Survey Seeks Feedback from Farmers A new annual survey from the Department of Agriculture seeks feedback from farmers and ranchers. The survey will help USDA understand what it is doing well and where improvements are needed, specifically at the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency. A selection of 28,000 producers will receive the survey over the next few weeks, but all farmers are encouraged to take the survey at farmers.gov. Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey says, “The more responses we receive, the better we can understand what we need to do to improve our services to America’s farmers, ranchers and private forestland owners.” This survey is part of the President’s Management Agenda. It requires High Impact Service Provider agencies across the federal government, including FSA and NRCS, to conduct annual surveys to measure and respond to areas needing improvement. The survey consists of 20 questions and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Responses are confidential, and individual responses will be aggregated. ************************************************************************************ Pro Farmer Crop Tour Next Week Pro Farmer scouts will assess this year’s corn and soybean yield potential next week during the Pro Farmer Crop Tour. The tour is an August ritual covering seven midwestern states and capturing the attention of the industry and national media each year. Due to COVID-19, nightly in-person meetings for this year's event will be replaced with live-streamed virtual meetings, making the daily recaps more widely accessible. Pro Farmer calls the event the most thorough inspection of yield potential during a critical time in the growing season. Jeff Wilson of Pro Farmer says, “USDA budget cuts last year halted field sampling that would have happened this year in August, so the Pro Farmer Crop Tour will be the first to measure ear populations and pod counts from actual fields at scale.” Pro Farmer's national crop production estimates will be published Friday, August 22. Free registration is required and is available at profarmer.com. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Decreasing on Limited Demand Recovery Fuel prices are moving lower as the summer driving season comes to an end. The national average price of gasoline fell 1.1 cents per gallon over the last week to $2.16, according to GasBuddy. The national average price of diesel has decreased one cent and stands at $2.41 per gallon over the same period. Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy says, “as summer begins to fade, demand recovery may be limited,” adding, “demand weakens into the autumn, and as the coronavirus situation keeps more kids home and more parents from work, we may see a drop in gas prices as we progress through fall.” Crude oil prices have remained stable over the last six weeks. Some optimism has been returning to the oil patch in the last week as the number of new coronavirus cases in the world’s largest oil consumer have been slowing down, providing a catalyst as hopes rise for U.S. demand to continue recovery, and crude oil inventories fell 7.4 million barrels.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


Washington Insider: US Attacks on China's Trade Policies Escalate Bloomberg is reporting this week that the administration's “rapid-fire escalation of attacks on China – from bans of WeChat and TikTok to sanctions on Hong Kong's top official – underscore that it has dropped past restraint and decided to make confronting Beijing a priority less than 90 days before the U.S. election. The president's increasingly aggressive stance has opened the door for hard-liners in the administration to push policies reflecting their long-held conviction that Communist Party leaders are bent on world domination – and that successive U.S. administrations underestimated the China threat. “A dam has broken in the administration, releasing all the pent-up ideas about how to escalate that conflict,” said Graham Webster, China Digital Economy Fellow at the New America think tank. “It's both a race to change facts on the ground and cement a durable enmity and a tool to distract from things that could damage Trump re-election prospects.” The U.S. ordered the closing of China's consulate in Houston in July, alleging that it had become a hub of espionage and intellectual property theft. Then, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo signaled a new push last week as he urged a “Clean Network” initiative calling for app stores like those run by Apple Inc. and Google to bar any “untrusted” Chinese apps and said U.S. data shouldn't be stored by Chinese cloud-computing companies. And, on Thursday, the president issued executive orders aimed at barring the Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat in the U.S. On Friday, the U.S. sanctioned Carrie Lam, the top official in Hong Kong, and 10 other Hong Kong and Chinese officials Pompeo said contributed to “brutal oppression” of the city's people. Bloomberg also noted that action on a recommendation from a high-powered group of U.S. regulators that stock exchanges set new rules that could trigger the delisting of Chinese companies is still pending. The administration argues that American investors could be exposed to fraud because Beijing refuses to allow Washington regulators to inspect the audit papers of companies based in mainland China and Hong Kong. In addition, China is sure to be infuriated by the diplomatic trip by Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, who is expected to arrive in Taiwan this week in the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official since Washington cut ties with Taipei more than 40 years ago. The successive moves have brought U.S. policy “a long way from earlier in Trump's term, when he bashed China as exploiting the U.S. on trade policy while often praising the leadership of President Xi Jinping as he sought a new trade deal with Beijing.” Bloomberg sees “all that as changed as the president – faltering in his response to the coronavirus, no longer able to boast of a surging U.S. economy and falling in polls of his re-election campaign – began to blame Beijing for allowing the global spread of what he calls the China virus.” The president's new tone dovetails with a deeper determination among hawkish advisers like Pompeo and economic adviser Peter Navarro that now is the time to lock in a laundry list of new restrictions against China. Unspoken is that the rift would endure even if Trump loses in November. “Securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time,” Pompeo proclaimed at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California. It was effectively a disavowal of Nixon's historic opening to China. The administration's conviction about China's abuses is widely shared among American analysts, but not among U.S. allies in Europe who haven't been nearly as willing to follow the U.S. in its more antagonistic approach. They argue that the best approach is to confront China where necessary while cooperating where possible – on issues such as counterterrorism, climate change and nonproliferation. “This endless parade of outrage only serves to highlight the fact that the administration has been unable to induce or coerce China into changing its behavior,” said Daniel Russel, former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, who's now vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute. “Chinese don't see an incentive in restraint.” Still, China, which has mostly kept to vague warnings of retaliation for U.S. restrictions, has numerous cards to play. Apple sells many of its devices in China and depends on the country for much of its supply chain. And China holds more than $1 trillion in U.S. treasuries, which it could offload. “This is a very complicated calculus for Beijing,” said Michael Hirson, an analyst with New York-based Eurasia Group and formerly the U.S. Treasury Department's chief representative to Beijing. He thinks that China would prefer to wait for the election to pass and to start fresh, ideally with a Biden administration but even with Trump in his second term. So, we will see. Critics of administration trade policy frequently argue that the cascading administration measures are as likely to damage domestic producers and lead to losses of future markets as they are to cause pain in China. Clearly, the toughening of the U.S. position regarding China has strong implications for ag producers and should be watched closely as the emerging policies intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


Extension of CFAP Signup Called For A broad group of U.S. ag and commodity organizations are calling on USDA to extend the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) signup deadline beyond August 28. The groups noted the low level of participation thus far, arguing that it likely reflects a lack of face-to-face interactions at local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices and the level of producers eligible for aid that have not dealt with the agency previously. USDA reported Monday that just over $7 billion had been paid out so far under the program that was aimed to pay out a total of $16 billion. USDA has been making payments based on 80% of the projected total payment owed to a producer. Based on that, USDA has made about 55% of the projected initial payments to producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


Investigation Into The US Cattle Market Structure House Ag Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Ranking Member Mike Conaway, R-Texas, have asked USDA to analyze cattle and beef supply chains, working with university policy research centers to analyze issues related to the cattle industry, especially amid stress related to COVID-19. The lawmakers want USDA's Office of the Chief Economist to evaluate cattle market structure, price discovery, price reporting, purchasing mandates, and barriers to entry in the packing sector. They also want the exam to involve experts outside USDA and say want the check to go beyond the issues that USDA has already been investigating relative to cattle market action in the wake of a fire at a beef plant in Kansas and the COVID-19 situation.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Trading in grains may be quiet ahead of Wednesday morning's WASDE report, but the latest weather forecasts will continue to be watched after severe weather tore through Iowa Monday. The U.S. Labor Department will release its report on July producer prices at 7:30 a.m. CDT and any export news will also be noticed. Weather Tuesday will be mainly dry in the Midwest and Plains after the stormy day with rain and heavy wind damage in portions of the Midwest Monday. Rain will focus in the Mid-South and Southeast. Temperatures will be seasonal in most north and central areas and very warm to hot south. This pattern generally favors row crop progress and spring wheat harvest, with heat stress ongoing in the far southwestern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


Pork Exports Lower, Beef Exports Struggle During June June pork exports fell below year-ago levels, the first time that’s happened in 2020. However, pork exports remain at a record pace. Data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation shows that beef exports were down sharply from last year during June. That drop reflects the lingering impact of a temporary slowdown in beef production combined with restrictions on foodservice and weakening economies in major import markets. June’s lamb exports trended higher. “We expected the interruptions in red meat production would continue to weigh on June exports, but anticipated more of a rebound from the low May totals, particularly in beef,” says USMEF President Dan Halstrom. June pork exports hit 207,181 metric tons, three percent lower than last year, while export value dropped nine percent to $516.3 million. Despite the decline, first-half pork exports were 24 percent ahead of last year’s record pace in volume and 29 percent higher in value. June beef exports were close to the May lows, down 33 percent from last year at just-over 79,000 metric tons, with value dropping 32 percent to $492 million. June lamb exports hit the second-largest total of 2020 at 2,229 metric tons, 113 percent higher than a year ago. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Groups say Farmers Need More Time to Access Aid A total of 28 agricultural organizations are asking the USDA to extend the application deadline for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The groups sent a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue asking that the deadline be pushed past August 28, 2020. The funding, approved through the CARES Act, is providing much-needed financial support to livestock, dairy, non-specialty, and specialty crop producers. The letter says the current deadline “may exclude producers from participating in the program, including producers of commodities that were recently added to the list of eligible commodities, as well as those commodities likely to become eligible through the Notice of Funding Availability process.” Along with extending the deadline, the letter strongly encourages the USDA to increase producer and stakeholder engagement initiatives. The 499,156 applications received so far makeup just 24 percent of all the eligible farm operations. Several commodities have extremely low participation rates, including carrots, oranges, tomatoes, and apples. Those numbers may indicate many farmers aren’t aware that they qualify for CFAP assistance. ********************************************************************************************** Growth Energy Applauds House Push for Biofuel Relief Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor thanks members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus for their efforts to deliver long-overdue relief for biofuels in the next round of COVID-19 relief. The effort is being led by Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Rodney Davis of Illinois, Dave Loebsack (LOWB-sack) of Iowa, and Roger Marshall of Kansas. Members of the caucus sent a letter to House and Senate leadership calling for negotiators to adopt “language explicitly directing” relief to producers and processors of renewable fuels. “We’re grateful for our congressional champions who are working overtime to stop the bleeding and offer hope for farm communities,” says Skor. “With continued uncertainty around COVID-19, and states like California, Texas, and Florida returning to lockdown, the stakes are far too high to leave any stone unturned.” She’s asking congressional leaders to “work quickly” to protect rural jobs and give rural America the certainty it needs to rebuild the country’s agricultural supply chain. Direct assistance was included in the House-passed HEROS Act, as well as in bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate. House and Senate lawmakers will try to hammer out the final deal this month. ********************************************************************************************** Trump Adds 10 Percent Tariff on Canadian Aluminum Last Thursday, President Trump announced he has reimposed a 10 percent tariff on Canadian aluminum, saying American’s northern neighbor was flooding the U.S. with the metal. During a speech at a Whirlpool washing machine factory in Ohio, the president said, “Canada was taking advantage of us, as usual. I signed a proclamation that defends the American industry by reimposing aluminum tariffs on Canada.” Trump had exempted Canadian products from tariffs as part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Deal on the condition that they “not flood the country with exports and kill our aluminum jobs.” While in Ohio, Trump said, “Canadian aluminum producers have broken that commitment.” The Jakarta (Ja-KAR-tah) Post says the tariffs take effect on August 16, in response to what Washington calls a 27 percent surge in aluminum imports from Canada during the past year which threatens to harm our domestic production. Canada’s aluminum-industry officials dispute the U.S. data and urged swift and strong retaliation, asking the Canadian government to consider all of its options. Trump first imposed punitive tariffs on aluminum and steel from Canada in June of 2018 while USMCA negotiations were ongoing. ********************************************************************************************** Corn Checkoff Funded Curriculum Filling the Virtual Learning Gap With another school year drawing closer, many teachers and parents will be looking for solid, professional teaching materials that will lend themselves to a virtual classroom. The National Corn Growers Association is offering a program called “Nourish the Future” which will meet state-learning guidelines. Nourish the Future is a national education initiative developed by science teachers for science teachers, with assistance from the NCGA. The goal is to inspire a network of educators to foster critical thinking, connect students to modern agriculture, and provide sound science-based resources to meet teachers’ and students’ needs in the classroom. Agriculture is a vital partner in engaging students with STEM concepts in ways that directly and indirectly impact their lives. Nourish the Future will help kids learn just how science connects with agriculture. Not only does teaching ag-based curriculum in the science classroom inspire students to solve real-world science issues, reaching students is critical to address the job gap in agriculture-related careers, many of which are unfilled. Through the curriculum, teachers and parents can get free hands-on lessons addressing current science topics. It also invests in teachers by helping them enhance their skills. More information is available at www.ncga.com. ********************************************************************************************** Child ATV Injuries Rising During COVID-19 ATVs are a popular vehicle for both work and play on many farmyards across rural America. The Hagstrom Report says child injuries on all-terrain vehicles typically surge in summer when children are out of school. The National Children’s’ Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety says that surge began earlier than normal when schools shut down because of COVID-19. “When schools went out and kids were home, we saw more injuries than we normally do,” says Charles Jennissen, a pediatric emergency physician and professor at the University of Iowa. “The overall number of injuries are probably four-to-five times higher because many don’t end up in the ER.” The American Academy of Pediatrics says in the U.S., about 40,000 children under the age of 16 are treated in emergency departments for ATV-related injuries each year. The academy recommends that children younger than 16 not operate ATVs. Jennissen says ATVs have a saddle-seat and handlebars that make the vehicle relatively unsteady. A high center of gravity and a narrow track is a combination that makes them a higher risk for rolling over. “More kids in the U.S. under 16 die from ATVs than bicycle crashes,” Jennissen adds, emphasizing the statistic applies primarily to younger children.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Aluminum Tariffs Re-imposed The New York Times and other news media are reporting this weekend that President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he is re-imposing a 10% tariff on Canadian aluminum “to help struggling American producers,” a step likely to incite retaliation and worsen ties with Canada just one month after the countries' new trade deal went into effect. Speaking at a Whirlpool factory in Clyde, Ohio, the president said that he had signed a proclamation that would reimpose the levy on Canada, accusing the country of “taking advantage of us as usual.” The U.S. imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union in early 2018, prompting those countries to respond with their own tariffs on American goods. The levies on imports from Canada and Mexico were not lifted until the following year, when the countries reached an agreement as part of the negotiations toward a new North American trade deal, the Times said. But the United States retained the right to reinstate them if it observed a spike in metal imports, which Trump cited on Thursday. He accused Canadian aluminum producers of breaking their commitment. On Thursday evening, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada's response. “In response to the American tariffs announced today, Canada will impose countermeasures that will include dollar-for-dollar retaliatory tariffs,” he wrote. “We will always stand up for our aluminum workers. We did so in 2018 and we will stand up for them again now.” The deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, issued a pointed statement, as well. “In the time of a global pandemic and an economic crisis the last thing Canadian and American workers need is new tariffs that will raise costs for manufacturers and consumers, impede the free flow of trade, and hurt provincial and state economies.” She also rejected the president's national security justification for the measure. “Canadian aluminum strengthens U.S. national security and has done so for decades through unparalleled cooperation between our two countries,” she said. For months, American and Canadian officials have debated whether Canada's rising imports violate that agreement. Imports of Canadian aluminum have risen since the tariffs were lifted last year — although they remain below levels seen within the last few years. The American aluminum industry recently has struggled to compete with producers in countries like China, Russia, Iceland, the United Arab Emirates and Canada that offer state subsidies or benefit from cheap electricity. Today, only a handful of American aluminum smelters, which make raw aluminum out of bauxite, still operate. Supporters of the tariffs say that imports from Canada and the economic slump that accompanied the pandemic have once again thrown the industry into disarray. Two American companies, Century Aluminum and Magnitude 7 Metals, have lobbied intensely for the tariffs to be re-imposed although the rest of the aluminum industry, which has operations spread around the globe, including in Canada, has fought against the measure. The multitude of industries that use aluminum to make products including cars, beer cans and washing machines, have also argued against the levies saying they increase costs and make their products less competitive globally. Even Whirlpool, the appliance maker where Trump made his announcement on Thursday, has seen its costs for raw materials rise as a result of the metal levies. In June, executives from more than 15 of the world's largest aluminum companies, including Alcoa, Constellium and Novelis, wrote to the president arguing against the tariffs. “Fully 97% of U.S. aluminum industry jobs are in mid-and-downstream production and processing,” the letter said. “These jobs depend on a mix of domestic and imported primary aluminum, including from countries like Canada.” Jim McGreevy, the chief executive of the Beer Institute, said his group strongly opposed the decision, especially amidst a global pandemic that has reduced overall sales while simultaneously increasing demand for aluminum cans.” Myron Brilliant, the executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, called the move “a step in the wrong direction” and urged the administration to reconsider. The administration's metal tariff policy is “totally misguided,” said Jean Simard, the president and chief executive of the Aluminium Association of Canada. “We're still in a COVID-related downturn.” Simard said that shipments of basic aluminum ingots to the United States from Canada had risen after automakers and other importers of more sophisticated aluminum closed their factories because of the pandemic. But he said that with renewed manufacturing in the United States, the market was rebalancing. According to Simard's group, exports of basic aluminum ingots from Canada declined 16% in June and fell 40% last month. Currently, according to Simard, the U.S. aluminum production capacity can meet only about one-sixth of the country's consumption of the metal. He also said that the Canadian aluminum industry will push the Canadian government to apply tariffs on American-made products. So, we will see. The decision to impose duties on imported metals was controversial before and likely will continue to be — and should be watched closely by producers as the season advances, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


APHIS Seeks Feedback on List Of Animal And Plant Pest And Disease Threats USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking feedback on its proposed list of pests and diseases of concern that are likely to pose a high risk to U.S. agricultural and natural resources. The 2018 Farm Bill requires pest- and disease-planning activities that mirror the extensive planning efforts APHIS already performs. Specifically, it requires APHIS to develop a uniform list of pests and diseases that represent the gravest threat to the United States and to develop comprehensive response plans to ensure federal and state governments are prepared to respond to them. The agency will review comments from the public about the list, including suggestions of pests or diseases that should be added or removed. In providing comments, individuals should keep in mind that the Farm Bill definition of a pest or disease of concern limits this list to those that are “likely to pose a significant risk to the food and agricultural critical infrastructure sector” and is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all possible pests or diseases.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


USDA Outlines Actions for Consumers Receiving Unsolicited Seeds USDA is urging anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to mail those seeds to the locations in each state. Persons receiving the seeds are instructed to place the unopened seed packet and any packaging, including the mailing label in a mailing envelope. If the seed packets are open, first place the seeds and their packaging into a zip-lock bag, seal it, and then place everything into a mailing envelope. Those sending seeds are asked to include their name, address and phone number so a state or federal agriculture official can contact them for additional information, if needed. There is a listing of information by state that has a link for information to be entered on line and either an address to send the seeds to or an advisory that the information will be provided once an electronic submission is made. If there is no mailing address listed, consumers are advised to contact their APHIS State plant health director to arrange a no-contact pick up or to determine a convenient drop-off location.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts continue to get the first attention of the day with row crops filling and spring wheat in early harvest. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections will be out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Attention will focus on USDA's crop ratings ahead of Wednesday's next round of supply and demand estimates. Weather Light to locally moderate showers are in store across the Midwest Monday. Coverage will be most extensive in the southeastern Midwest; however, some dry areas of the western Midwest may receive some precipitation as well. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal north and very warm to hot central and south with heat stress to crops and livestock.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


Farm Futures Releases 2020 Producer Crop Forecast Large U.S. ending corn stocks could swell even larger this fall, and not just because of increased yields. A bumper crop combined with diminished demand due to the pandemic could boost new crop ending U.S. stocks to the highest level in 33 years. A new survey by Farm Futures found 2020 corn yield projections to increase 11.5 bushels per acre from 2019 to 178.9. Based on updated acreage estimates from The Department of Agriculture's June Acreage report, Farm Futures' 2020 corn yield estimate would raise 2020 corn production to 15.03 billion bushels, 32 million bushels higher than July 2020 World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates. Soybean yield prospects are also more favorable than last year. Growers estimated 2020 yields at 51.0 bushels per acre, up 3.6 from 2019. If realized, that would put 2020 soybean production at 4.233 billion bushels, 98 million bushels higher than July 2020 WASDE projections and 19 percent higher than 2019 production. Farm Futures surveyed 1,044 respondents on July 14-27 via an email questionnaire. ************************************************************************************ House Ag Lawmakers Seek Aid for Sheep, Lamb Producers House Agriculture Committee leaders want the Department of Agriculture to assist sheep and lamb producers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the lawmakers say the closure of the nation’s second-largest processor, represents an estimated 20 percent of the nation’s processing capacity for sheep producers. The closure, the letter says, “pushes USDA to help lamb and sheep farmers and ranchers find alternate processing and marketing options immediately.” The closure comes at a time when the sheep industry was already forecast to lose more than $350 million due to COVID-19-related market declines. The lawmakers say USDA has the ability to aid sheep producers in finding other options for marketing and processing in a way that keeps products flowing through the supply chain. The letter was signed by Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Ranking Member Mike Conaway, a Texas Republican, and other committee members. Conaway states, “it’s critical that we provide support to help them through this difficult period.” ************************************************************************************ House Ag Member Tests Positive for COVID-19 Rodney Davis, a Republican U.S. Representative from Illinois, has tested positive for COVID-19. In a letter on his website, Davis says, “Other than a higher-than-normal temperature, I am showing no symptoms at this time and feel fine.” Davis tested positive Wednesday morning after discovering a higher than normal temperature. Davis is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. He had recently voiced his concerns to Congress that members follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Davis says throughout the pandemic, he’s done twice daily temperature checks, “because serving in Congress means I interact with many people, and it’s my duty to protect the health of those I serve.” Having consulted with the Office of the Attending Physician of Congress and local county health officials, his office is contacting constituents Davis met with in-person within the previous 48 hours before his test, per CDC guidelines. ************************************************************************************ Use of Corn as an Acceptable Feedstock Clarified by Energy Department In the most recent Funding Opportunity Announcement, the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office clarified that corn grain is an acceptable feedstock. This means starch derived sugars, specifically starches from field and feed corn, were clarified as acceptable. National Corn Growers Association Market Development Director Sarah McKay says, “This is an important evolution in how DOE interprets legislative intent,” adding the clarification will, “lay the groundwork and develop a solid foundation for future markets for corn.” NCGA says the timing of the announcement is important because it means those looking for funding opportunities through the Plastics Innovations Challenge can use corn as a base for recycling technologies in the manufacture of new plastics. The Bioenergy Technologies Office works to develop industrially relevant technologies to enable domestically produced biofuels and bioproducts. An example of a product that could now be developed to use corn grain as a feedstock is single-use plastics such as water bottles and plastic bags. ************************************************************************************ Environmental Groups: EPA Should not Approve Dicamba Without Further Research Environmental groups say the Environmental Protection Agency should not renew over-the-top dicamba use without further independent research. A new report from the National Wildlife Federation and others suggest dicamba herbicides "pose serious threats to wild plants and the wildlife that depend upon them." The report says the EPA should not renew over-the-top product registrations unless and until independent research shows with certainty that dicamba formulations will not cause off-target injury to crops and wild plants, including from vapor drift. The groups say there is mounting evidence suggests that current dicamba products and uses are causing unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, even when used as specified on the labels. The report advocates for diversifying weed management strategies to improve resilience, including choosing crop varieties that are competitive with weeds, adjusting planting dates and depths of crops to help get ahead of weed growth, and managing nutrients in ways that give crops the competitive edge. ************************************************************************************ Panera Founder Joins FBN Board Farmer’s Business Network this week announced that Ron Shaich (shake), founder and former Chairman and long-time CEO of Panera Bread, has invested in the company and will join its Board of Directors as an independent director. Shaich stepped down as CEO of Panera in 2017. Shaich, personally and through his investment, is directing a range of long-term strategic investments in consumer-facing growth companies. He says, "I'm inspired by the FBN mission to improve the profitability of family farmers around the world, especially right now, given that many of them are struggling to survive.” FBN calls Shaich a “groundbreaking entrepreneur and CEO who built one of the most successful public companies in history.” Adding Shaich to the Board follows the announcement Monday that FBN had closed $250 million in Series F funding. Farmers Business Network also recently acquired a similar Australian company. FBN is self-described as the leading direct-to-farm ag tech platform and farmer network.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fight Over Unemployment Relief The Hill is reporting this week that the pandemic is exposing the flaws and shortcomings of how the U.S. provides unemployment insurance -- and that disagreement over proposed fixes are primary holdups to a new bill. The Hill notes that the federal employment safety net includes individual systems for every state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. More than 30.2 million Americans were on some form of unemployment insurance as of mid-July, with the Labor Department reporting a growing number of new applications in subsequent weeks. However, the expiration last week of a $600 weekly add-on to state benefits plunged many of those vulnerable workers into financial peril. Congressional Democrats and Trump administration officials are now deadlocked over negotiations for a broader package that's expected to include some form of federal unemployment benefits -- but how to do that is an enormous problem. Short-staffed unemployment offices across the U.S. rely on widely differing versions of outdated technology and would face challenges from implementing either a scaled-down or more complicated approach to the weekly payments. Economists and labor market experts also warn that any solution that emerges from the negotiations could take weeks, if not months, to get up and running, risking a potentially catastrophic fiscal cliff for tens of millions of U.S. households. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and a White House economist under former President George W. Bush said that “states, collectively, seem to have not kept up the systems and we now have a big problem because of that.” The unprecedented size and speed of the pandemic-driven economic collapse has posed a brutal challenge for state unemployment agencies. After 10 years of steady economic expansion, the labor market quickly went from the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years to the highest level of joblessness since the Great Depression. New claims for unemployment benefits were averaging roughly 200,000 nationwide a week before the pandemic -- a manageable level for state agencies that had largely been neglected during the longest stretch of growth in modern U.S. history. However, the coronavirus lockdowns spurred 3.3 million new claims between March 15 and March 22, a then-record that would be doubled the following week. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the previous record was 695,000 from the first week of October 1982. A little more than four months after the pandemic hit, state agencies are now processing roughly 2 million new claims a week for both unemployment insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program designed to cover those who don't qualify for typical benefits. “On some level, you can't really blame states for not being prepared for that level of onslaught,” said Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. “Usually, you see the recession starting up and state agencies say 'You know, this looks like a recession here, so let's start to staff up.' This came on all at once, so we've had these neglected, antiquated systems and then there's all these other stressors.” Processing the massive surge of unemployment claims on shoddy technology would have been hard enough for states. Adding enhanced benefits and PUA claims to the mix strained state agencies even more. “It took time to hire and train new staff who could deal with the volumes of the calls, and all in a pandemic, when face-to-face contact and training and being together in office were not possible,” said Julia Pollak, labor economist at job recruitment and posting company ZipRecuriter. Now, defining enhanced unemployment benefits are among the biggest obstacles to reaching a deal on what's likely to be the last coronavirus-relief package before the election. While President Trump and Republicans are divided over how and whether to extend the federal boost, Democrats are largely united behind extending the benefits and reducing them gradually along a curve tied to the unemployment rate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called for including such a mechanism, known as an automatic stabilizer in the coronavirus package being negotiated. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee, introduced a separate bill designed to tackle economic downturns beyond the coronavirus recession that would establish a tiered system for reducing the federal benefit in line with a state's unemployment rate. “We talked to economists all across the country and virtually everyone we talked to said this makes the most sense.” Republicans have proposed replacing the flat $600 weekly boost with a percentage of the worker's pre-pandemic earnings in addition to what is prescribed by each state. While the wage replacement is more tailored, there is concern that making the necessary calculations for each claimant could overwhelm an already teetering system. So, we will see. Pressures to define and implement a powerful system to avoid the worst impacts of the weakened economy are continuing to grow, but participants in the debate are increasingly dug in to defend their position -- and, time is running out. This is an extremely significant fight producers should watch closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


US Will Take Action Under USMCA If Needed On Several Products Written responses that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer provided to the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees from his June 17 appearances have been released and contain some common themes. When it comes to dairy with Canada and labor or biotech issues with Mexico, Lighthizer repeatedly assured that his office will pursue action under U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) provisions “if necessary.” Relative to the Phase One agreement with China, Lighthizer also stated several times, “China's commitments to purchase U.S. food and agricultural products are annual commitments for calendar years 2020 and 2021, so we will not be able to assess definitively whether China has fulfilled these commitments for 2020 until the end of this year.” However, Lighthizer said that they have been “following China's progress in purchasing U.S. food and agricultural products very closely and have been discussing our concerns with our Chinese counterparts as they arise. We have made it clear that China needs to find a way to satisfy all of its purchases commitments under the Phase One Agreement.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


Drop In Ag Exports Sets New Record Monthly Trade Deficit U.S. agricultural exports in June fell to $9.96 billion, the smallest since May 2016 and down nearly 4% from May, while imports eased to $11.09 billion, down 2.5% from May, setting a new monthly record trade deficit of $1.13 billion. This marked the second month in a row for a new record trade gap for the sector that has historically recorded trade surpluses on a monthly and annual basis. June was the fourth month in a row with a trade deficit and marked the fifth out of the last six months that has happened. The results brought cumulative ag exports for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 to $102.22 billion against imports of $100.49 billion for a trade surplus of just $1.734 billion. In order to meet USDA's FY 2020 ag export forecast of $136.5 billion, exports would now have to be average $11.43 billion over July-September. To meet the ag import forecast of $130.2 billion, imports would have to average $9.9 billion over July-September. Both forecasts will be adjusted in USDA's update due August 26, with the export outlook likely to be trimmed and the import forecast expanded, setting the stage for an annual trade deficit for agriculture, something that has not happened based on data going back to the mid-1970s.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will report on the change in nonfarm payrolls for July and also on the U.S. unemployment report at 7:30 a.m. CDT., last seen at 11.1% in June. The latest weather forecasts and any trade news will continue be watched closely. Weather Friday will find showers and thunderstorms in portions of the Northern and southeastern Plains along with the northern Midwest. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal in the Midwest and above normal in the Plains. The warmer pattern will spread across the entire central U.S. going through the next week.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


Energy Department Recommends Granting Partial Retroactive Waivers The U.S. Department of Energy has made its recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding retroactive blending waiver requests. Two sources say the DOE recommended to the EPA that “a number” of those requests be partially granted. However, those anonymous sources couldn’t provide further details. The EPA is in charge of granting those exemptions, but the Department of Energy has to review the applications first and then make its recommendations. An Agriculture Dot Com article says the move could help bring those smaller refiners into compliance with a court ruling earlier this year that requires waivers granted since 2010 to take the form of an extension. Most waiver recipients in recent years haven’t continuously been granted those waivers. At present, there are 58 pending waiver requests from refiners for the years 2011-2018. “EPA has received initial feedback from the Department of Energy on certain petitions for small refinery exemptions for the past compliance years under the Renewable Fuel Standards Program,” says EPA spokesperson Molly Block. “Our staff is reviewing it.” The Department of Energy didn’t respond to requests for comments. Biofuel advocates say the blending waivers hurt the overall demand for corn-based ethanol. ********************************************************************************************** China, U.S. Will Review Trade Deal, Air Grievances on August 15th U.S. and Chinese officials will review the Phase One trade deal implementation and likely air grievances that both sides have on August 15th during a video conference. Two people familiar with the plans told Reuters that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the principal negotiators of the deal, will participate in the meeting, which will be a six-month review of the deal that became active on February 15th. The Wall Street Journal initially reported the details of the meeting between the two countries. Under the deal, China pledged to boost purchases of U.S. goods by $200 billion over 2017 levels. Those purchases were to include agricultural and manufactured products, along with energy and other services. But China has been hit hard by the coronavirus recession and fallen far behind the pace it needs to meet the first-year goal of a $77 billion increase. Imports of farm goods have also been lower than the 2017 level the agreement was based on. China’s ambassador to the U.S. says they always had a plan in place for high-level talks six months into the pact. U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to end the deal over China’s handling of the coronavirus. Tensions have risen over U.S. sanctions related to China’s crackdown on Hong Kong. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Bankruptcy News Mixed During COVID-19 Farm bankruptcy filings totaled 580 between June of 2019 and June of 2020, an eight percent increase over those 12 months. The American Farm Bureau says a six-month comparison shows the number of new Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings slowed during that time. The Midwest, Northwest, and the Southeast are the regions hardest hit by bankruptcies, accounting for 80 percent of the total U.S. filings. Wisconsin was the number one state with 69 filings, followed by 38 in Nebraska. Georgia and Minnesota each had 36 filings. While the year-over-year filings increased during June, the number of new filings slowed during the first six months of this year compared to the first half of 2019. From January to June of 2020, there were 284 new Chapter 12 bankruptcy cases, 10 fewer than the same time last year. The reduction in filings coincides with the aid distributed through the CARES Act that compensated farmers and ranchers for losses incurred over the first six months of the year. “The fact that we saw bankruptcy filings slow during the first half of this year shows how important the economic stimulus efforts have been to keeping farmers above water,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “But the economic impact of the pandemic is far from over.” ********************************************************************************************** Democrat Bill Would Ban Pesticides to Protect Farm Workers Legislation introduced by two Democratic lawmakers would ban chlorpyrifos (Klor-PEER-ih-fohs) and other pesticides that cause concern among farmworker groups due to negative health effects. The bill from Tom Udall of New Mexico and Joe Neguse (Neh-GOOS) of Colorado would ban organophosphates. An article on The Hill Dot Com website says that’s a group of pesticides that attack the nervous system and that research has shown has damaging effects on farmworkers. It includes chlorpyrifos, which the Environmental Protection Agency has been under pressure to ban, thanks to a series of lawsuits. The legislation also would ban neonicotinoids (Neo-ni-kuh-ti-noids), which have damaging effects on vulnerable bee populations. “The farmworkers who feed our country face dangerous chemical exposure without recourse to protect their health, and surrounding communities bear the frontline costs of pesticide runoff in their land, water, and air,” says Udall. The EPA under the Trump Administration has repeatedly issued emergency exemptions allowing farmers to continue using pesticides that are otherwise restricted. The bill would bring that to an end, as well as allow local communities to block some pesticides without being preempted by state law. It also places more requirements on farms and chemical companies. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Extends Deadline, Defers Interest Accrual Due to COVID-19 The USDA’s Risk Management Agency says it will authorize Approved Insurance Providers to extend premium deadlines for fee payments, defer the resulting interest accrual, and give them other flexibilities. The goal is to help farmers, ranchers, and insurance providers who are affected by COVID-19. “USDA recognizes farmers and ranchers have been severely affected by COVID-19 this year and to help ease the burden on these folks, we’re continuing to extend flexibility for producers,” says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. “These flexibilities will support health and safety while also ensuring the federal crop insurance program continues to serve as a vital risk management tool.” AIPs can provide their policyholders with additional time to pay the premium and administrative fees and waive the accrual of interest to the earlier of 60 days after their scheduled payment due date or the termination date on policies with premium billing dates between August 1 and September 30, 2020. USDA is also authorizing insurance companies to provide up to an additional 60 days for policyholders to make payment and waive additional interest for Written Payment Agreements due between August 1 and September 30, 2020. ********************************************************************************************** ASA Returns to its Roots for 100th Anniversary The American Soybean Association returned to its birthplace to celebrate its 100th year of existence. The group celebrated a century of coordinated efforts and ensuring successes on behalf of U.S. growers. With support from the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the family who helped to launch one of the nation’s strongest agricultural advocacy offices, ASA celebrated its 100th anniversary on the Indiana farm where it all started. The celebration included a small but significant historical marker dedication and tours of heirloom soybean plots. ASA first formed when the three Fouts brothers hosted their first Corn Belt Soybean Field Day at their “Soyland Farms” operation in Camden, Indiana, on September 3rd of 1920. That event drew nearly 1,000 farmers and their families from six states, all of whom were interested in learning more about an emerging new commodity called soybeans. The National Soybean Growers’ Association, later renamed the American Soybean Association, was formed that very day. The outdoor dedication ceremony was streamed live across the country for soy supporters to celebrate safely around the nation.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


Washington Insider: The US Economy Needs More Support Than Originally Thought Bloomberg is reporting this week that work on the next coronavirus subsidy bill has intensified – but that White House and Democratic negotiators driving toward a deal on a final package still must overcome a raw mix of election-year pressures, internal GOP splits and a profound lack of trust between the parties. The report said that the president's sinking poll ratings amid the virus's resurgence have Democrats sensing they have leverage—and are boosting internal Republican tensions over additional aid spending on top of the almost $3 trillion previously approved. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have recently been playing “hardball,” dismissing out of hand smaller-scale proposals floated by the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, as well as a $1 trillion plan cobbled together by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Both sides declared they were making progress on Tuesday as they started to exchange detailed offers and agreed on a goal of reaching a deal by the end of the week, teeing up possible votes next week. The negotiations on new subsidies are expected to continue after Pelosi and Schumer meet with the postmaster general later in the week in an effort to provide aid for the Postal Service and state governments. This is an effort to support for vote-by-mail operations, a top Democratic priority opposed by the president who has blasted the use of mail-in ballots for weeks. Instead of McConnell or Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has previously cut several deals with Democrats, the administration's lead negotiator for this round is Meadows, the former House Freedom Caucus chairman. Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., praised Meadows for being engaged with lawmakers but noted his inexperience in such talks. “This is his first deal,” Shelby said. Meadows initially proposed a stripped-down plan tying unemployment and school aid while negotiations continued, but Democrats are insisting on a bigger plan that they say “meets the moment.” In turn, he has floated potential executive actions Trump could take on his own if the talks break down. In an indication of the seriousness of the current debate, The Hill said, is the fact that Senate Republicans expect to remain in session next week if the negotiations over the "impasse" continue. A new schedule, described by GOP senators on Tuesday, means the Senate would be in Washington for at least the first week of a previously scheduled four-week break that had been expected to start on Friday. The House left town last week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has said he will call House members back to Washington with a 24-hour heads-up once there is an agreement ready for a vote. McConnell hasn't announced a change to the Senate's schedule. Asked about being in session next week, a spokesman for the GOP leader said, "the Leader will let everyone know when we have an update and/or guidance." Negotiators continue to assert that they are making progress in the most recent talks but that “they still remain far apart on significant sticking points like unemployment insurance, state and local aid and McConnell's red line of liability protections for businesses.” In the meantime, pressure on Congress to complete the new package was boosted by comments by Fed officials this week who said the U.S. economy needs more support than originally thought and that “it's becoming quite clear that the virus will be with us longer and more vigorously than anyone had hoped for,” Mary Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco said. The level of support that the economy is going to need just has to be higher, she said. “As we get more information about how the virus will affect the economy, we will be thinking about how can we use forward guidance to telegraph to people, to signal to markets, households and businesses what our intentions are in terms of supporting the economy going forward,” she said. During the last expansion, the Fed saw joblessness fall well below what it had estimated to be full employment. At the same time, inflation never consistently reached the central bank's 2% goal. This lesson can guide policy makers in the recovery from the coronavirus crisis, Daly said. She also noted that we have room to let the economy go well beyond what people think is its maximum level of employment and we can then involve many, many individuals who people have traditionally thought were structurally unemployed, unable to get jobs, she said. “The long tail of the pandemic will be that we have many, many people who remain on the sidelines unless we take this opportunity to educate these people, get them the training they need.” So, we will see. The increasingly toxic politics ahead of the election clearly add uncertainty to measures to offset virus impacts, as well as debates on trade and economic policy -- fights that producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


Stabenow Will Not Back More Ag Aid Without Nutrition Funding Bump Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on Tuesday reiterated her stance to Politico that she will not back any additional aid for farmers and ranchers in the next COVID-19 aid plan unless there is an increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). “There's not going to be more if we can't help hungry families,” she told Politico. “I've made it very clear that I will object to anything else being done in the agriculture space if we do not get a basic increase in SNAP.” This is a stance that Stabenow has taken since late July as the Senate plan was being developed. However, she noted it appears Republicans are “now indicating an openness” and that there are “good discussions going on right now.” Her frustrations are tied to USDA so far not doling out most of the aid in the CARES Act that was passed in March. She said she wants to keep the aid mix around 50-50 for farm aid and nutrition assistance. “I'd like to keep it in that range,” she noted. Stabenow has been critical of USDA aid efforts, in particular the Market Facilitation Programs run for 2018 and 2019, maintaining that aid was unevenly distributed across the sector and was tilted toward farmers that had not suffered huge trade losses.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


US, China High-Level Talks Set For August 15 U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will participate in talks August 15 to assess the progress of the Phase One agreement with China, according to sources quoted by the Wall Street Journal. The two will meet via videoconference with the focus expected to be on China's purchase commitments of U.S. agriculture, energy and manufactured goods while China is expected to raise the issue of the U.S. cracking down on Chinese tech companies. This comes as China's Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai on Tuesday observed that the COVID-19 situation has impacted normal trade flows. Tiankai also commented that the “two economic teams have been in contact with each other,” a view that our trade sources have repeatedly signaled. He also noted that China was “doing its best to implement the deal.” The session also comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top leaders are set to meet for two weeks in the Chinese resort town of Beidaihe, a session typically aimed at discussing strategies and setting policies for key issues.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all set for 7:30 a.m. CDT. U.S. natural gas inventory is due out at 9:30 a.m. Of course, the latest weather forecasts and any trade news will also be closely watched. Weather Thursday features shower and thunderstorm activity in the central and Southern Plains through portions of the western Midwest. Rainfall will be mainly light. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures continue to show seasonal to below normal values north and central and very warm to hot south. Stressful heat is again in store for most of Texas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


August Ag Economy Barometer Results Farmer sentiment in July was virtually unchanged from a month earlier, according to the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The index rose just one point to a reading of 118. The small change in the barometer left it 30 percent below its February 2020 peak and 23 percent below its level a year ago. Although there was little change in the barometer this month, there was a shift in producers' perspective on current vs. future conditions. The Index of Current Conditions rose 12 points to 111 while the Index of Future Expectations fell to a reading of 121, five points lower than in June. 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 July 20-24, 2020. Organizers of the index say Producers were somewhat less concerned about the impact of coronavirus on their farm's profitability. However, two-thirds of respondents still said they feel Congress needs to pass another bill to provide economic support to farmers. ************************************************************************************ Barchart Releases August U.S. Yield Forecasts for Corn and Soybeans Barchart, a commodity data and technology service provider, updated its cmdty (commodity) Yield Forecast this week. The August end of season yield prediction sits at 174.8 bushels per acre for corn and 49.2 for soybeans. This represents an increase in forecasted yield relative to the July report, which predicted end of season yield for corn 173.8 and 48.8 for soybeans. Barchart’s Head of Strategy, Keith Petersen, says, “Growing conditions throughout the country remain strong, and this year’s forecasted crop has been more heavily impacted by changing expectations around acres planted than by weather.” Peterson says the national forecast remains steady this year, but adds there is some yield variance at the state level which can impact local basis conditions heading into the fall. Released on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season, the forecast allows users to get insights to guide their business decisions ahead of USDA's World Agriculture Supply and Demand report. ************************************************************************************ Trump Signs Rural Telemedicine Executive Order President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier this week that his administration says will provide millions of citizens with healthcare services during a global pandemic. The executive order seeks to expand access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in rural communities. The White House says the expansion of telehealth services offers benefits to Americans living in rural communities, who might otherwise not have access to these services. The order requires the Department of Health and Human Services to announce a new payment model testing innovations that empower rural hospitals to transform healthcare in their communities on a broader scale. To improve connectivity, the president's order also directs the federal government to launch a joint initiative in 30 days to improve the healthcare communication infrastructure and expand rural healthcare services. The White House says these telehealth expansions build on the work the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has done during the public health emergency to more than double allowable telehealth services. ************************************************************************************ Trump Signs Great American Outdoor Act President Donald Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act Tuesday. In a signing ceremony, Trump says the legislation "builds on my administration's unwavering commitment to conserving, and the grander, the splendor, of god's creation." The bill establishes a National Park and Public Lands Restoration Fund to provide up to $9 billion to fix backlogged maintenance at national parks and other federal lands. The bill also guarantees $900 million per year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fund helps fund the main federal land programs in the United States. The National Wildlife Federation says the bill will "protect public lands and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation.” However, the legislation may be problematic for ranchers who use public grazing lands. The Public Lands Council calls the bill a “land grab.” PLC says the bill gives federal agencies free rein to spend a minimum of $360 million per year solely to acquire new private land without any oversight from Congress. ************************************************************************************ American Dairy Coalition Calls for Whole Milk to Return to Schools The American Dairy Coalition wants to bring whole milk back to U.S. school lunchrooms. According to the proposed Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, whole milk will continue to be banned from schools across the nation. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines are only updated and published every five years. The coalition says, “the time is now to ensure whole milk can once again be offered as a choice in school nutrition programs.” In 2017, Congress authorized $1 million of taxpayer money for a third-party review, conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. It was the first-ever outside peer review of the Dietary Guidelines process. The coalition says the report showed how only 20 percent of the government’s nutrition recommendations are based on “strong” science, according to the government’s own standards. The coalition says the report “was vastly ignored,” adding “Continuing the ban on whole milk based on out-of-date science and a clearly unbalanced, one-sided subcommittee on saturated fats is appalling.” ************************************************************************************ ASTA Promotes Safe Handling of Treated Seed During Harvest As harvest begins across the country, the American Seed Trade Association is reminding farmers about the importance of taking precautions to ensure treated seed does not enter the grain supply. An ASTA says proper management of treated seeds includes removing all treated seed left in containers and equipment used to handle harvested grain, and disposing of it properly. ASTA and other stakeholder groups have developed recommendations to assist those involved in the process of treating, handling, transporting, or planting treated seeds. These recommendations are available at seed-treatment-guide.com. Recommendations include following label directions, minimizing dust, eliminating weeds, "BeeAware” of nearby bee colonies, and cleaning and removing treated seeds from equipment and bins. ASTA says the use of seed treatment technologies, including neonicotinoid insecticide treatments, is an effective tool to provide the necessary protection of seeds for a strong, healthy start. However, it is “essential” to manage them properly to minimize the risk of pesticide exposure to non-target organisms.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Another Look at Negative Rates Bloomberg is reporting this week that “a basic truism of finance may be turned upside down.” The report argues that interest rates -- which normally reward savers and charge borrowers -- have been set below zero by central banks in a handful of big countries. “That means savings are losing value and borrowers can be paid to take out a loan.” Considered one of the boldest monetary experiments of the 21st century, negative interest rates were adopted in Europe and Japan after policy makers realized that they needed extreme measures because their economies were still struggling years after the 2008 financial crisis. When the pandemic lockdowns halted commerce for months in 2020, central bankers looked for ways to cushion the blow. That rekindled a furious debate about whether rates in the red do more harm than good. When the pandemic hit the U.S., the Federal Reserve quickly slashed its key interest rate back to near zero, where it had been for almost a decade after the financial crisis. President Donald Trump renewed his heckling of the Fed via Twitter, complaining that its reluctance to go negative put the U.S. at a disadvantage. Chair Jerome Powell repeatedly dismissed the idea, saying the Fed was worried that the policy could roil U.S. money markets and preferred to use other tools. What's more, he said, research on the effectiveness of negative rates was “quite mixed.” Still, an undercurrent of worry led a market gauge reflecting traders' expectations of future Fed policy to fall briefly below zero in May 2020, with some investors betting the Fed would have to take the plunge within a year. When the outbreak took hold, central banks that already had negative rates declined to lower them further, instead ramping up bond purchases and lending programs as the Fed has also done. The European Central Bank had cut its rate as recently as September 2019, charging banks 0.5% to hold their cash. But over the six years since ECB rates went negative, the policy has provoked increasing outcry that it has crippled banks and robbed savers. In Germany — a nation with a strong culture of socking money away — tabloid newspaper Bild railed against the central bank, casting former ECB President Mario Draghi as a savings-sucking vampire it dubbed “Count Draghila.” The idea behind negative rates is simple, Bloomberg says. They drive borrowing costs lower and punish lenders that play it safe by hoarding cash. But economists frequently argue about whether they also have perverse effects that outweigh the textbook economic benefits. Chief among them is the impact on bank profits. Since many banks are reluctant to start charging for deposits, the spread between the rate they pay for funds and what they can earn lending money can be squeezed. For example, over time, European banks began to levy fees. Critics fret that the slide in borrowing costs will eventually hit a “reversal rate,” where the policy backfires as banks become less willing to lend. To offset that possibility, the ECB introduced a series of targeted measures to lift bank profits, including a “tiering” system that exempted a portion of the money parked at the ECB from charges. There's also spillover in financial markets: Because central banks provide a benchmark for all borrowing costs across an economy, negative rates spread to a range of fixed-income securities, with government bonds of countries such as Germany and the UK trading at negative yields. That means investors lose money if they hold the debt to maturity. Bloomberg concedes that central banks that use negative rates say they've lowered borrowing costs and fueled more lending. ECB research has shown that the downside has been manageable. Even central bankers worried about the potential harm say the scale of the crisis triggered by the pandemic and the limited number of tools available to fight it mean they can't rule anything out. Fans include Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard, who argued in an article in May 2020 that objections are “either fuzzy-headed or easily addressed” and that only “effective deep negative interest rates can do the job” of reviving economies. Yet there are worries that negative rates will prove politically toxic, tainting the public view of central banks and threatening their hard-won independence. To many critics, the policy had outlived its usefulness even before the pandemic and could now prove harder to escape. In 2019, Sweden, which began dipping below zero in 2009, became the first country to reverse course in a bid to ease the pain on lenders and investment funds. The Bank for International Settlements, a study group of central banks, warned in a 2019 briefing that there's “something vaguely troubling when the unthinkable becomes routine.” The approach is still highly controversial, Bloomberg emphasizes. It highlights the extent to which global central bankers joined Powell's pushback on negative rates. This chorus of bankers has criticized negative rates and some central bankers say they may be doing more harm than good. Nevertheless, Janet Yellen, the former U.S. Federal Reserve chair, said in 2015 that a change in circumstances could put negative rates “on the table” in the U.S. So, we will see. Fiscal policy has become increasingly challenging as the pandemic has worsened. Clearly, this management tool is receiving greater attention than it did only months ago, and should be watched closely as the argument intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


USTR Nominee Moves Closer to Being in Place The Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination of Michael Nemelka to be a deputy U.S. Trade Representative on a 24-to-4 vote Monday. Nemelka was nominated to be deputy USTR for Africa, China and the Western Hemisphere and for investment, services, textiles, labor and environment. Nemelka has been a special advisor to USTR Robert Lighthizer for the past five months. He is expected to easily win confirmation in the full Senate. Lawmakers focused on issues relative to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) during Nemelka's confirmation hearing as the agreement would fall under his purview.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


CFAP Payments Still Shy of $7 Billion With the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) signup to run through August 28, payments at the national level moved up to $6.82 billion as of August 3 with 499,156 applications approved for the program. One week ago, payouts totaled $6.55 billion. Livestock payments still account for the largest share at $3.44 billion, with $1.79 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.31 billion for dairy and $269.6 million for specialty crops. Payments for cattle still lead all commodities at $2.98 billion, followed by the $1.31 billion for milk and $1.22 billion for corn. Those are the only commodities where payouts have topped $1 billion, with the next largest payments for hogs at $430.2 million, soybeans at $344.5 million, and upland cotton at $172.3 million. Payments for the remainder of commodities covered under the program are no more than $56 million. The top six states remain Iowa ($697.4 million), Nebraska ($499.2 million), Minnesota ($435.2 million), Wisconsin ($389.3 million), Texas ($480.5 million), and California ($365.2 million). The program was originally expected to pay out some $16 billion to producers with an initial payment level at 80% of the estimated total payment. It is still not clear why the payouts have lagged the expected total since the program applications started coming in May 26. Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce told the Red River Farm Network that there could be a few reasons why signup is not higher, including the initial payments based on 80% of the estimated total payment. He also cited acreage reporting deadlines faced by farmers for their participation in farm programs as another potential factor. “There's also a lot of acreage reporting taking place right now and once this has finished up, we anticipate the CFAP applications to ramp up a little bit,” he noted. He also observed that the agency is still mulling adding additional commodities to the program. As for the 20% additional payment, Fordyce said, “If it looks like we've got some space and we'll be able to issue that additional 20% of the eligible payment in CFAP, then we'll make that decision at a later time.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:15 a.m. CDT, ADP has a report on U.S. private sector job growth, which offers a hint for Friday's U.S. unemployment report. The U.S. Census Bureau reports on the U.S. trade deficit for June and provides USDA with monthly export data to be released later Wednesday morning. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department reports on weekly energy inventories, including ethanol. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the western Midwest Wednesday, and moderate to locally heavy rain will move through the south-central Plains. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to below normal north and central and very warm to hot south, with extreme heat in much of Texas.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


COVID-19 Disruptions in the U.S. Meat Supply Chain The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank says COVID-19 has created substantial challenges for all segments of the meat supply chain, but especially for producers and consumers. Beginning in April 2020, outbreaks of COVID-19 at meatpacking plants led to significant disruptions and created issues of oversupply and low prices for livestock producers. The spread of COVID-19 among employees led to closures and slowdowns at many meatpacking plants. Closures were especially prominent in beef and pork industries. The agricultural economy had been in a prolonged downturn before the pandemic, intensifying concerns of how COVID-19 and disruptions in the meat production could affect farm finances. The KC Fed says greater financial difficulties for livestock producers could add to stress in agricultural lending portfolios that already had increased before the pandemic. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural lenders in the bank district were already more pessimistic about the livestock sector's credit conditions. Almost 20 percent of agricultural lenders expect lower loan repayment rates on hog and dairy operations. ************************************************************************************ Dredging Project Readies Mississippi River for Efficient Transportation Soybean Checkoff-funded research, planning, analysis and design led by the United Soybean Board, has informed the launch of a dredging project to provide upgrades to the lower Mississippi River. The Army Corps of Engineers announced it will be funding and proceeding with deepening the Mississippi River from 45 to 50 feet between Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will also provide funding. The river is a major channel for U.S. soybean exports. The particular 256-mile stretch of the Mississippi River accounts for 60 percent of U.S. soy exports, and 59 percent of corn exports from that region arrive via the inland waterway system. Once complete, the new depth will unlock long-term benefits for soybeans and other U.S. agricultural exports. USB director Meagan Kaiser of Missouri says, “More efficient shipping builds value in the supply chain and expands opportunities for our soybeans to reach our customers around the world.” ************************************************************************************ House Ag Appropriations Chair May have Misused Campaign Funds A report by the Office of Congressional Ethics says Representative Sanford Bishop, a Georgia Democrat, may have misused campaign funds. Bishop is Chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee, and has served as the Representative for Georgia’s 2nd congressional district, encompassing Southwest Georgia, since 1993. The ethics report released last week says Bishop's campaign committee, Sanford Bishop for Congress, reported campaign disbursements that may not be legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures. The report recommends further review, because “there is substantial reason to believe” Bishop converted campaign funds for personal use. The report includes evidence of thousands of dollars invoiced to Bishop from a Georgia golf course, along with credit card statements, including travel and golf-related charges. Bishop also serves on the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee and is Vice Chair on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. In a statement, Bishop’s office says he “has fully cooperated” with the review and proactively reimbursed many of the charges identified as incorrect. ************************************************************************************ AFPM Facebook Ads Say RFS Based on Outdated Projections A Facebook advertisement from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers claims the Renewable Fuel Standard is based on outdated projections. The ad directs Facebook members to an AFPM webpage critical of the RFS. The webpage is part of an effort to defend small refinery exemptions. The Facebook ad follows a news release from last week on the topic. AFPM states, “The limiting factor for ethanol consumption is, and has always been, the blend wall — a term signifying the limit to how much ethanol the fuel supply can actually handle, based on fuel and vehicle infrastructure and consumer demand.” The organization claims, “Denying relief to small refineries and making the RFS mandate bigger through volume reallocation will not change the reality of the blend wall, grow the capacity of the fuel supply or inspire more consumers to buy E15 and flex fuels.” Doing so, the organization says, will lead to higher compliance costs and more imports of foreign biodiesel. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Water and Wastewater Funding The Department of Agriculture Monday announced $462 million in funding to modernize drinking water and wastewater infrastructure across rural America. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand says the upgrades “will improve public health and drive economic development.” USDA is funding 161 projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. The program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and stormwater drainage to households and businesses in rural areas. The funding includes projects in rural communities in more than 40 U.S. states and will benefit 467,000 residents. Projects include constructing reservoirs, upgrading outdated water systems, and creating and improving sanitary sewer systems. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure, business development, housing, community facilities and high-speed internet access in rural areas. ************************************************************************************ Onions Recalled Because of Salmonella Link Onion producer Thomson International Inc is recalling all of its onions from all 50 states because of its link to a Salmonella Newport outbreak. The outbreak has sickened more than 500 people in the United States and Canada, and the recall follows a similar recall in Canada. Food Safety News reports the first illness began on July 12, but health officials expect more to be identified because of the lag time between illness onset and the confirmation required for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add a patient to its tally. Initially, it was thought that only red onions were implicated in the Salmonella Newport outbreak, but because of cross-contamination issues, all onions, including yellow, white and sweet are being recalled in both countries. Many of the onions are packaged for foodservice use and have been used in multi-ingredient foods so it is difficult for consumers to know whether the onions in such foods are part of the recall.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Growing Pressure on the Dollar Bloomberg is warning this week that the dollar is “flashing a warning sign” to U.S. policy makers pushing them to “get a grip on the virus.” After hitting an all-time high in March, the dollar lost 10% of its value, with declines accelerating in recent weeks as infections spread seemingly unchecked across the nation. Early on in the pandemic, the dollar soared after investors sought safety in U.S. assets like Treasuries while the virus stormed through Europe. But with cases now exploding, “the ineffectual American response has become a millstone for the currency, spurring concern about lasting damage to the U.S. economy that could keep interest rates and growth low for years.” “What people are most desperately waiting for is good news on virus control,” said Stephen Jen, chief executive at Eurizon SLJ Capital Ltd. “The currency bet is mainly a bet on relative control of the virus, not reflecting the fundamental strength of the economies in question.” The U.S. government's handling of the pandemic — which contrasts with the euro area's progress in containing infections — is now a key driver of the greenback. The dollar's losses have often deepened during the U.S. trading day, suggesting investors were selling after the latest virus figures were released. Speculators are now the most short since November 2017, after betting on strength for almost all of last year. Bloomberg said its Dollar Spot Index rose 0.5% Monday after sliding more than 3% in July, the worst monthly performance since January 2018. Still, prior to the dollar's slump to a two-year low in July, Stephen Jen was bullish. Jen predicted in June that the currency would bounce back as the U.S. economy rebounded. Jen is a pioneer of the so-called dollar smile theory, which posits that the dollar will gain as a result of either U.S. growth exceeding that of other nations or during risk aversion. Instead, the dollar has languished as rising infections simultaneously put the kibosh on a boost for growth and sapped appetite for the currency as a haven. “The key assumption I was making, which turned out not to be correct, was that the U.S. would sort itself out after a difficult period,” Jen said. The euro area has only outperformed the U.S. in eight years since 1992, according to IMF data, but 2020 is on that track, as well. American gross domestic product suffered its deepest quarterly contraction since at least the 1940s in the three months through June. While Europe's economy was also eviscerated, with output shrinking to levels not seen since 2005, recent data show signs of a rebound as lockdowns ease across the region. Final prints for manufacturing purchasing managers' indexes for the euro-area, Germany and France came above flash estimates on Monday, while readings for Spain and Italy beat expectations. Meanwhile, European governments have — so far — kept a lid on new infections. That hasn't been lost on the Federal Reserve, with Chairman Jerome Powell saying after the central bank's latest meeting that the path forward for the U.S. economy will largely depend on America's success in “keeping the virus in check.” While policy makers have not explicitly linked rates to controlling COVID-19, the broader effort to curb the pandemic is influencing the outlook for both monetary policy and economic growth. “I'm much more confident about the 'left' side of the smile: that is, the dollar performing in a risk-off environment, than I am on the other side, which is classically driven by a U.S. economic out-performance,” said Ross Hutchison, investment director for Standard Life Investments. But others aren't convinced that even this side of the framework holds up. The dollar smile has flattened and turned into a painful “grin,” according to Calvin Tse, a foreign-exchange strategist at Citigroup Inc., with the flood of liquidity unleashed by the Fed diminishing the likelihood of a sudden rush to the dollar in a risk-off scenario. While Tse doesn't rule out gains for the dollar, any haven rally is likely to be shallower than in previous years thanks to these measures, while the possible extent of depreciation remains the same. For some, then, it's time to better reflect the influence of the virus in their strategies. Paresh Upadhyaya, money manager at Amundi Pioneer Asset Management, which has $78 billion under management, says accounting for the virus has taken on a bigger role in shaping his view of the dollar and the economy. To keep tabs on the virus's impact Upadhyaya watches number of items, including activity at airport security checkpoints, restaurant reservations, small business openings, small business revenue and employment. He also tracks traditional data on manufacturing and services, and uses mobility data produced by Apple Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. to gauge states reopening. “As cases in the U.S. have picked up, that's a flag for the dollar,” Upadhyaya said. “So, we use currency values to gauge which region is having a better handle over the virus.” So, we will see. A weaker dollar is seen by many exporters as a powerful stimulus to sales, so the current trend will be welcome in some quarters. Still, efforts to fight the virus while managing a volatile economy are a growing challenge with longer-term economic implications — fights producers should watch closely as they persist, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


US-UK Trade Talks Continue This Week U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will meet this week with UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss who the Financial Times said would relate her frustration at American officials over “punitive” tariffs levied on British goods. Truss' visit to Washington underlines the UK's desire to strike a trade deal with America quickly, despite U.S. officials saying final talks on a new trade accord would not likely be completed by the end of the year. Truss told the Financial Times that, while U.S. officials “talk a good game on free trade and low tariffs, the reality is that many of our great British products are being kept unfairly out of their market.” She is expected to raise the retaliatory tariffs as part of the Airbus and Boeing dispute in the aviation sector, as well as the prospect of further tariffs being levied on British goods.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


Dairy Industry Pushing on Trade A bipartisan group of 61 senators want U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to make it a “core” trade policy objective to strike trade deals that allow U.S. dairy producers to sell their products using common names that originated in Europe. “Our competitors continue to employ trade negotiations around the world to prohibit American-made products from using common food [and drink] names … such as bologna, parmesan, chateau and feta, which have been in use for decades,” the senators said in a letter. Dairy groups, including the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, want future trade deals to include stronger terms than were included in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, (USMCA) which went into force July 1.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The only official report on Tuesday's docket is U.S. factory orders at 9 a.m. CDT, but the latest weather forecasts will be closely watched with parts of the Midwest needing rain in August. As usual, Monday's Crop Progress report may play a part in Tuesday's trading as well as any trade news that emerges. Weather Tuesday will be dry and mild over most crop areas. Rainfall will be confined to light showers in the northwestern Plains and the far eastern Midwest. This combination favors row crop filling. A few delays may occur in spring wheat harvest due to showers

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


Chinese Corn Purchases Sets Records as Tensions Grow Chinese buyers made a record purchase of U.S. corn last week. Reuters says that extended a recent flurry of U.S. purchases as tensions continue to grow between the two largest economies in the world. The USDA says China bought 1.937 million tons of corn from private exporters that will be delivered in the 2020-2021 marketing year. That purchase is worth around $325 million and passed up the previous record of 1.76 million tons reported only two weeks ago. In another report, the USDA says soybean sales to China rose to 1.925 million tons for the week ending July 23, which was the biggest weekly total since November of 2016. China’s purchases of American farm goods totals $6 billion through May, while the Phase One Trade Agreement calls for a total of $36.5 billion in purchases this year. While the $6 billion total is 9.1 percent higher than the same period last year, it’s also 31 percent lower than the same time in 2017. Rising tensions had already slowed soybean purchases last week. U.S. Soybean Export Council CEO Jim Sutter says, “Chinese buyers are worried about a possible disruption in the implementation of the Phase One agreement, which is certainly not good for future purchases.” ********************************************************************************************** Perdue Says EU “Green Deal” Could Undermine Trade Talks with the U.S. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue says the European Union’s recently-published EU “Green Deal” strategies could “undermine trade and affect the viability of EU farmers.” Perdue’s claim was immediately refuted by his EU counterpart. Euractive (Yuhr-ACTIVE) Dot Com says Perdue spoke during a webinar on the transatlantic perspective on food security in a post-COVID world last week. Perdue commended the EU for focusing on sustainability and expressed a strong desire to work with the European Union. However, he criticized the new food policy, which he says, “seems to have forgotten the ‘farm’ in ‘Farm to Fork.’” The EU says the new Farm to Fork policy is intended to improve the sustainability of agriculture within the bloc and shorten the distance between the farm and the end-user. Together with the new biodiversity plan, those two policies make up the heart of the EU Green Deal. Perdue also says EU farmers were being left without the tools they need to do their jobs, warning that it could make farmers there uncompetitive. If that happens, it could then lead to EU protectionism, something that could “do some real damage to the global trade environment.” However, the EU Ag Commissioner says the emphasis on reinforcing shorter supply chains doesn’t imply any new trade barriers, adding that the bloc “isn’t against and needs international trade.” ********************************************************************************************** Cattle Producers Set Policy Priorities for the Future of the NCBA A large number of cattle producers worked to identify a policy that would help to resolve concerns about live cattle marketing issues and help lead the industry to more robust price discovery. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Live Cattle Marketing Committee considered many proposals aimed at encouraging greater volumes of cash cattle trade. After sometimes intense debate, the committee and the NCBA Board of Directors unanimously passed a policy that supports voluntary efforts to improve the fed cattle trade over the next three months. However, it leaves the market open to the potential for future mandates if robust regional cash trade numbers are not reached by the industry. NCBA President Marty Smith says the work of the Live Cattle Marketing Committee caps off months of efforts to find industry and market-driven solutions to increase price discovery without government mandates. “The policy we passed today is the result of every state cattlemen’s association coming together to work through their differences and find solutions that meet the needs of their members,” Smith says, “all of whom agree that the industry needs more price discovery. The policy provides all players in the industry with the opportunity to achieve that goal without seeking government mandates.” ********************************************************************************************** Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act Introduced in Congress The Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act was introduced in Congress late last week to help preserve agricultural fairs across the country. The legislation from Democrat Jimmy Panetta of California and Republican Billy Long of Missouri is also designed to help fairs recover from large financial losses they’ve suffered because of COVID-19. A large number of fairs across the country didn’t take place this summer because of safety concerns. The bill would provide $500 million in grant funding for agricultural fairs through their state departments of agriculture to help keep them functioning well into the future. “County and local fairs are very important to agriculture and our communities all across our country,” Panetta says. “Fairs provide our producers with the opportunity to market their crops and livestock and foster the next generation of farmers.” He points out that fairs are also an “economic engine” and a gathering place to highlight and celebrate our communities. A Drover’s report says agricultural and community fairs have been an important part of rural communities for over 250 years. State and local fairs also provide farmers and ranchers with the opportunity to educate the public about local agriculture. “Like many institutions, fairs have been hit by COVID-19,” Panetta says, “and we must assist if we are going to preserve these fairs for the future.” ********************************************************************************************** NCGA Talks Trade and Supply Chains During Virtual Town Hall National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross joined other national agricultural leaders for an AgTalks virtual town hall last week. Participants talked about the future of agriculture, with a focus on trade, supply chains, and competition on a global scale. The town hall allowed panelists to provide updates from their industries and answer questions. Ross talked about the many challenges facing corn producers in 2020 and shared the NCGA’s recovery plans to help growers navigate the immediate challenges in the short term and to expand market access in the long term. “We’re thankful to have USMCA in force and Phase One trade deals with both China and Japan,” Ross says. “But we have lost ground to our competitors, and it’s time to pivot to more aggressive expansion in our trade. NCGA will continue to push for trade agreements in Southeast Asia and many other regions that have strong demand potential.” The AgTalks town hall series will help farmers learn and share their views with commodity associations at a time when most of the major in-person state agricultural events have been canceled or postponed because of COVID-19. Last week’s event focused on Iowa, with future events scheduled to focus on Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. ********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Ready to Capture More Carbon Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says ethanol plants are ready to capture more carbon. She submitted comments on the Internal Revenue Service’s proposed regulations under section 45Q. It’s a performance-based tax credit for carbon capture projects. In her comments, Skor asks the agency to offer credit for carbon dioxide captured for food and beverage purposes, which would promote investment in new carbon capture capabilities and ensure that the food and beverage industry is not forced to tap alternative sources of carbon dioxide. “The ethanol industry has more than 50 projects that on average capture 99,000 to 153,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually,” Skor says. “These facilities both capture qualified carbon oxides or are in the process of financing projects to capture and sequester carbon oxides.” She adds that more projects are on the way and 45Q can help accelerate that process. Without the tax credit, food and beverage producers may have to rely on non-renewable sources of carbon dioxide.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Trade Policy Issues Intensify As trade has become more complex, policy issues have also become more complicated, Bloomberg says this week. For example, much of the modern trade in goods is actually in the form of components, a development widely attributed to an economic consultant, Keith Oliver, Bloomberg says. Oliver is concerned that current “drastic efforts to realign chains will ultimately hurt consumers.” Oliver recalls his 1978 work for Booz Allen Hamilton for a unit of Philips NV, the Dutch electronics giant “trying to compete globally back when Japan was the rising economic power in Asia that worried western companies.” Oliver, then in his mid-30s, pitched a solution initially billed as “integrated inventory management” to unify a fragmented organization — using a new theory of how to run a multinational company. Bloomberg says supply chain management has gone from back-office obscurity to political scapegoat “because they expose economies to shocks beyond their borders.” Oliver thinks there is “plenty of room for improvement, but he bristles at many governments' plans to nationalize his brainchild.” “This strikes me as a short-term victory for the political at the expense of the overall economic, intellectual and global social progress,” says Oliver, now retired in Vancouver after more than 40 years with Booz Allen. “Yeah, it'll make it easier because the supply chain won't be as long. However, the costs will go up, so, prices will go up and we'll hammer the consumer.” Such trade-offs are the subject of much economic debate of late and rare was the second-quarter earnings call where the chief executive officer of a major international producer didn't address them. For example, Bloomberg notes that Tom Linebarger, chairman and CEO of engine maker Cummins Inc., said “our supply-chain organization faced some of the most significant demand fluctuations in the company's history.” David Calhoun, Boeing Co.'s president and CEO, said the plane maker is “doing everything we can to support our global suppliers and their stability remains a key watch item for us in the aerospace — as our aerospace industry weathers these unprecedented challenges.” Part of that effort means assessing risks and “continuing payments to our more than 12,000 suppliers supporting about 1.5 million jobs,” he said. “The shortfalls recently demonstrated in supply chains are primarily management failures,” he says. “We do actually have the philosophies, concepts, tools and technologies to manage global extended-enterprise supply chains — the failure is in their rigorous application.” It wasn't until 1982 that Oliver's concept appeared publicly. U.S. and European companies were woefully behind their Japanese competitors on things like inventory control and built large, costly stockpiles as buffers against demand uncertainties. Over the following two decades, Oliver says a few broad changes happened that tested the durability of supply chains. The first was a rise in consumer preferences for customization — an iPhone in red, gold, black, white or silver; variety is an enemy because it makes demand hard to forecast. The second variable was globalization and companies stretching out across the world to reduce costs — ushering an era of low global inflation and low interest rates. “Remember that the whole reason to go out there was in fact the reduction of cost,” Oliver says. “In the majority of instances, it actually produced a very significant cost reduction.” There was a societal toll, though, according to officials like U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the architect of President Donald Trump's tariff offensive against China. In an essay in a recent edition of Foreign Affairs magazine, he derided those who've been “obsessed with efficiency” and called supply-chain relocation “a cure-all peddled by management consulting firms.” Around 2000, Oliver said, he and others realized the three main types of risk — two of which are currently wreaking havoc — needed more attention: internal risks like workers going on strike; external risk such as a trade war that boosts tariffs; and acts of nature like a pandemic that paralyzes the global economy. “Many companies caught up in the outsourcing frenzy failed to appreciate the risks,” Lighthizer wrote, a statement with which Oliver might partially agree. Another shortcoming in Oliver's view was a belief among top executives that technology, automation and artificial intelligence would smooth disruptions on their own. “Turning everything over to a black box is a very dangerous thing to happen in a supply chain,” said Timothy Laseter, who worked with Oliver at Booz Allen. “Progress will continue, but will it ever be as theoretically pure as we want it to be? Probably not.” Oliver remains optimistic that the recent shocks are surmountable and might even be a catalyst for making supply chains a bigger part of a company's strategic plan. “The progress has been huge,” he said. “I am frustrated that the potential has not been realized.” So, we will see. In recent years the administration has tended to rely on government interventions and less on economic competition to build sales — and, critics of current administration policy often argue that it has narrowed, rather than expanded, overseas markets. There is growing concern that the current reliance on tariffs will be more difficult to manage than anticipated. This is an important debate that producers should watch carefully as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


WTO Fails to Agree on Temporary Leader While the WTO is moving ahead to find a new Director General, the group has been unable to agree on a temporary leader for the world trade body. While the exit of current WTO Chief Roberto Azevedo would normally prompt the trade body to pick temporary leader from one of the four Deputy Directors General. But they did not take such a step. The General Council agreed to extend the terms of the four sitting Deputy Directors-General — Yonov Fred Agah, Karl Brauner, Xiaozhun Yi and Alan Wolff – until a new leader is chosen. Labeled “very much a housekeeping matter to facilitate the continued running of the organization,” General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand said the lack of a consensus on who should temporarily lead the WTO prompted the extension of the terms of all four of the Deputy Directors General. The four will “consult closely with the members,” the WTO said. Walker stressed that during this interim phase, no structural changes will be made to the WTO Secretariat.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


Push Continues on Removing US Sanctions on EU Food, Ag Goods A bipartisan coalition of House members have written to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to urge removal of retaliatory tariffs on European Union (EU) food and ag products imported into the country. The tariffs are linked to the long-running dispute between the U.S. and EU over subsidies given to Airbus in the form of low interest rates. The World Trade Organization ruled the situation with Airbus ran counter to world trade rules. While the EU insists they have met the terms of the WTO ruling, the U.S. is able to hit EU goods with retaliatory tariffs. The U.S. has threatened additional EU goods with tariffs, but the August deadline is approaching and it is not clear the U.S. will hold off expanding the tariffs too long. And while lawmakers praise Lighthizer for his get-tough stance on the EU/Airbus issue, they add, “We hope you will update the United States' approach in this case to eliminate unintended hardships for Americans trying to make ends meet and small businesses seeking to recover.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will still be checking the latest weather forecasts on the first Monday in August and any trade news that develops. A report on U.S. manufacturing is due out at 8 a.m. CDT, followed by weekly grain export inspections at 10 a.m. A monthly Fats and Oils report from NASS is out at 2 p.m. CDT, followed by USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Weather Monday will be dry with seasonal to below-normal temperatures in most crop areas. Rain will be confined to light activity in the eastern Midwest and to tropical precipitation in the Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


NASDA: Senate Coronavirus Aid Falls Short for Agriculture Negotiations to finalize the next coronavirus relief package in Congress are far from the finish line, and so is aid for agriculture, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. The Senate Republican proposal includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus payments for individuals, extends additional unemployment payments by $200 a week through September, and includes substantial funding for schools and COVID-19 testing, and $20 billion for agriculture. The discretionary funding would support agricultural producers, growers and processors. Not included in the Republican plan is additional funding for food and nutrition programs or dedicated funding for state departments of agriculture to respond to COVID-19 impacts. NASDA CEO Barb Glenn says, “This relief package falls short of meeting the needs of the food and agriculture community.” Further, Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, says, “Struggling Americans deserve better.” Stabenow says the Republican plan is “a non-starter” without nutrition assistance included. ************************************************************************************ Lawsuit Challenges NEPA Rewrite A coalition of environmental groups is challenging the Trump administration rewrite of the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. The Environmental Defense Fund, along with other organizations, call the rewrite an “attack” on Americans. Leading the legal challenge, an attorney at the environmental group Earth Justice, says, “They want to make it easier to silence people’s voices and give polluters a free pass to bulldoze through our neighborhoods. That’s why we’re taking them to court.” NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions before making decisions. The Public Lands Council says, however, the changes make the process more efficient. The updates establish presumptive time limits of two years for environmental impact statements and one year for environmental assessments. Ranchers who hold federal grazing permits are subject to NEPA reviews for many reasons, including renewal of a term grazing permit, construction of range improvements, or to become eligible for participation in Department of Agriculture conservation programs. ************************************************************************************ Senator Booker: Current Food System Fundamentally Broke A former 2020 presidential candidate says the nation’s food system is “fundamentally broken.” Addressing the National Food Policy Conference this week, Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, says, “After this crisis, we simply cannot go back to business as usual.” Booker claims the food system is broken for supply chain workers, farmers, rural communities and from a public health perspective. Booker places blame on multinational corporations and industry consolidation. The lawmaker cited numerous bills he supports to reform the beef supply chain, including the Farm System Reform Act that would allow more bargaining power for ranchers. Booker also cited the Agribusiness Merger Moratorium act that would halt consolidation within the food system, along with the Climate Stewardship Act and the Local FARM Act. Booker, a self-described vegan, says, "We must create a better future where we phase out big factory farms and instead put our faith and support behind independent family farmers and robust local food systems.” ************************************************************************************ House Ag Welcomes Two New Committee Members The House Agriculture Committee Wednesday announced two new members, Chris Jacobs, a New York Republican, and Troy Balderson, an Ohio Republican. Jacobs won a special election in June and will serve the remainder of the term left by retired Congressman Chris Collins. Collins, a Republican, pled guilty to wire fraud and securities fraud last year, and resigned from his position. Jacobs previously served as a state Senator in New York and a county clerk. Balderson of Ohio was elected to the U.S. House in 2018, and takes the place James Comer, who will depart the Agriculture Committee. Balderson also serves on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and the Small Business Committee. In welcoming the pair to the committee, Texas Republican Representative and Ranking Member Mike Conaway stated, “Both understand the importance of supporting our farm families, and I look forward to working alongside Chris and Troy on behalf of rural America.” ************************************************************************************ Dicamba-Resistant Palmer Amaranth Discovered in Tennessee Researchers from the University of Tennessee report finding dicamba-resistant Palmer amaranth in the state. Results from greenhouse trials and in-field assessment report the level of dicamba resistance is relatively low, about 2.5 times. The level of infestation in any given field ranges from a small pocket where a mother plant went to seed in 2019 to an area covering several acres in a field. This would be comparable to the first documented glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth found in Tennessee back in 2006, where most were still getting relatively good Palmer amaranth control with glyphosate, while others were noticing escapes in their fields. Researchers say it’s not time to panic, however, say “it is time to reassess weed management.” Looking forward to 2021, the university says a pre-applied residual that is effective on Palmer amaranth is now a necessity. Moreover, timely applications of Liberty must be used shortly after a dicamba application to remove escapes from coverage. ************************************************************************************ American Lamb Board Partners with H-E-B The American Lamb Board has partnered with the nation's top consumer ranked grocery store, H-E-B, to promote the benefits of American Lamb through the H-E-B Health and Wellness program. The effort provides important visibility for American Lamb in Texas and sets the stage for potential future retail collaborations. With more than 350 locations throughout Texas, H-E-B is a major player in the grocery industry. The first step of the partnership was engaging and educating more than 70 H-E-B registered dietitians about the benefits of American Lamb to support their nutrition education efforts. In June, more than 1,000 H-E-B customers received an American Lamb recipe book sent directly to their homes. Then, in July, H-E-B stores began an in-store promotion of American Lamb! H-E-B dietitians are including American Lamb on their "Pick Lists," which feature selected products and a coupon offering $2 off assorted American Lamb cuts. This generated more than 7,600 coupon redemptions in just the first seven days of July. As of July 29, more than 14,300 coupons have been redeemed.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fed Sees Future Peril for Workers The New York Times and others are reporting this week that the Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero on Wednesday as it predicted a long road ahead and that the recent spike in virus cases “saps momentum from the nascent economic recovery.” Chairman Powell noted that infections have surged since late June and the “pace of recovery looks like it has slowed.” He also noted that policymakers need more data before drawing firm conclusions about the scope of the pullback. Debit and credit card spending were slowing and as labor market indicators suggest that recent job gains might be weakening. More than 14 million people who held jobs in February are no longer employed. Powell warned that it will take time for workers in certain industries, like restaurants, hotels and travel, to find new jobs. “He added that the Fed was “not even thinking about thinking about thinking about raising rates.” The Times said that while the Fed took no major actions on Wednesday, Powell's comments underlined both the peril ahead for American workers and the reality that interest rates are likely to be very low for an extended period of time. Stock prices climbed following his remarks as investors took heart from the Fed's patient stance. Ahead of the Chairman's comments, the central bank reiterated that the Fed would keep low rates in place “until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events.” The Fed's announcement came amid another round of tense negotiations in Congress over providing more support to workers and businesses. Debate revolves around whether to extend an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits now set to expire this week. Powell said the support lawmakers have already provided has been critical for the economy. While he did not weigh in on how high unemployment insurance benefits should be set, he said it would be important to help the large number of workers who were likely to be displaced even if the economy reopened successfully. “Those people will need support,” he said, noting that government policy so far has “kept people in their homes, it's kept businesses in business.” Powell said both Congress and the central bank would need to do more in the months ahead. Since March, the Fed has put in place a series of measures to help cushion the economic fallout as businesses close or reduce capacity and as shoppers stay home from malls and movie theaters to control the spread of the coronavirus. The central bank has rolled out nine emergency lending programs, which are meant to keep credit flowing to businesses and state and local governments, and is purchasing government-backed bonds to keep markets functioning normally. Also, it has slashed interest rates to rock bottom to entice borrowing and spending. On Tuesday, officials announced that they would extend their emergency lending programs through the end of the year. Seven of the programs were initially set to expire around the end of September but could still be needed as coronavirus cases have continued to rise. That could take time, Powell said. The unemployment rate, while falling, remains historically high at 11.1%. Initial jobless claims ticked up last week after months of gradual improvement, stoking concerns that the economy might be backsliding. The job losses are hitting disadvantaged communities particularly hard. The Fed's own surveys have shown that poorer people were more likely to lose jobs and that those with less education often did not have the option to work from home. The jobless rate for Black workers has skyrocketed to more than 15% and the unemployment rate for Black men continued to tick up in June even as the rate for other racial and gender groups began to fall. While Fed officials' June economic projections suggested that they expected unemployment to fall below 10% by the end of the year, policymakers made it clear then that conditions were extremely uncertain. The central bank's policies do seem to be offering support, at least around the edges. House buying has ticked up, fueled by cheap mortgage rates and the U.S. homeownership rate is now at levels last seen before the 2008 financial crisis. Key credit markets have calmed down after a disorderly March and April, as has the market for U.S. government debt. Powell also said the Federal Open Market Committee's longer-run framework review, which could guide the central bank's strategies, would be completed in the near future. Some economists took that news to mean that more action is coming at the Fed's Sept. 15-16 meeting. “The July FOMC meeting was expected to be a placeholder event until more important decisions are made at the next meeting in September,” Michael Feroli, the chief U.S. economist at JP Morgan, said in a note. “The committee met those expectations.” So, we will see. Clearly, the economy continues to struggle and is likely to do so for some time. This will heavily Depend on the future intensity of virus outbreaks, as well as investment programs from the government which are now being debated fiercely. These are highly significant fights that producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


WTO To Appoint Arbitrator Over US Request For Duties On China Goods The WTO will appoint an arbitrator to rule on a U.S. request to hit $1.3 billion in China goods with retaliatory duties in a dispute over China's subsidies for wheat, corn and rice producers, a WTO official said on Wednesday. The U.S. maintains China has not complied with a 2019 WTO ruling against Chinese agricultural support programs in a case brought late in the Obama administration in 2016. China did not appeal the decision, and the U.S. agreed to give Beijing until the end of June 2020 to comply. China insists they have complied, but the U.S. said they do not think that is the case.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


China Purchases Of US Ag Goods Remains In Focus Both Reuters and Bloomberg are running items which focus on the pace needed for China to meet its purchase commitments of U.S. ag products under the Phase One agreement. Reuters reports data through May put the country well behind the pace needed and says that their recent purchase pace of U.S. corn and soybeans would have to be maintained in coming months in order to meet their commitments. Bloomberg reports that China has amassed purchases of U.S. cotton despite a global downturn in textile/clothing demand due to COVID-19. The Wall Street Journal today reports the rise in Chinese corn prices to five-year highs is expected to result in stepped-up imports of corn and other grains, with U.S. corn farmers standing to benefit. Trade data for June due August 5 will provide a clearer picture of the situation. But USDA announced in its Weekly Export Sales report that foreign buyers picked up 3.344 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans the week ended July 23, including 1.989 mmt to China. And USDA also announced via its daily export sales reporting system that private exporters sold 1.937 mmt of U.S. corn to China for 2020/21, the largest daily corn sale to China on record.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets The final day of July has a report on U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending at 7:30 a.m. CDT, along with the U.S. employment cost index. With soybeans getting closer to filling pods, the latest weather forecasts maintain high interest among traders as does any trade news. Weather Friday will be dry across northern and central crop areas. Rain will focus on the southern Midwest and portions of the Delta and Southeast with locally heavy amounts and some flood threat. Temperatures will be seasonally warm north and central, very warm south, and stressfully hot in the Far West and Northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


Farmers to Families Food Box Program Reaches 50 Million Boxes Delivered Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Wednesday the Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed over 50 million food boxes. The Department of Agriculture program supports American farmers and families affected the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering food boxes to needy families. Perdue says the milestone is a “testament to everyone’s hard work” on the program. The program supplies food boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat products and a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products. Distributors package the products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need. The first round of purchases totaled $1.2 billion. The second round and current round aims to purchase up to $1.47 billion through August 31. The recently announced third round will use the remaining funds available to the program, up to $3 billion, and purchases will begin by September 1 and conclude at the end of October. ************************************************************************************ Biden Releases Rural America Plan Joe Biden’s Presidential Campaign released Biden’s plan for Rural America Wednesday. The plan says Biden will pursue a rural economic development strategy that “partners with rural communities to invest in their unique assets.” The plan’s goal is to give young people more options to “live, work, and raise the next generation in rural America.” The plan seeks to pursue a trade policy “that works for American farmers.” That includes standing up to China to “negotiate the strongest possible position.” Biden also plans to support beginning farmers by expanding the Obama Administration’s microloan program for new and beginning farmers. Biden also wants to partner with farmers to make American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, giving farmers new sources of income in the process. Biden’s plan also calls for promoting ethanol, including investing $400 billion in clean energy research. The plan also says Biden will “use every tool at his disposal,” including the federal fleet and the federal government’s purchasing power, to promote and advance renewable energy, ethanol, and other biofuels. ************************************************************************************ Purdue: Unsolicited Seeds Could Wreak Havoc on Agriculture Growing concerns around unsolicited seeds prompt at least 28 states to issue warnings not to plant the seeds. Indiana joined the list of states this week, warning of the potential damage to agriculture. Don Robison, seed administrator for the Office of Indiana State Chemist, says, "The last thing we want is to spread a weed, invasive species or disease, and that's a real risk if people plant these or throw them in the garbage." Robison says there is potential for serious harm to everything from backyard gardens to commodity and specialty crops. Utah officials confirmed at least one noxious weed in seeds sent to a resident in the state. Weed seeds, invasive species and disease pathogens can spread rapidly, costing millions of dollars annually for just a single plant or disease, and cause billions of dollars of impact overall each year. The seeds may be part of a "brushing" campaign in which online retailers send out unsolicited packages and use the fake sales to improve the seller's ratings in the marketplace. ************************************************************************************ Beef Board Issues New Long-Range Plan The Beef Industry Long Range Plan task force officially introduced its new five-year plan for 2021-2025 this week at the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Denver. Updated every five years, the Beef Industry Long Range Plan is designed to help the beef industry establish a common set of objectives and priorities. It communicates the industry's strategic direction and provides insight on how the industry can serve its stakeholders by growing beef demand. Task Force leader Kim Brackett says, “We feel we've established some important priorities and strategies, as well as benchmarks for success that will help keep our industry on track through 2025 and beyond." The plan seeks to grow global beef demand by promoting the benefits of beef, improve industry-wide profitability through expanding processing capacity, and increase research efforts on sustainability. The plan also seeks to make traceability a reality in the U.S. beef industry. The task force convened several times over the past year and considered all aspects of the industry when formulating the plan. ************************************************************************************ Ernst to EPA: Make E15 Available at Every Pump Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to make E15 available at every U.S. gas pump. Specifically, Ernst calls on EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to certify biofuel infrastructure for E15 and remove unnecessary labeling which will increase consumer access to E15. In a letter to Wheeler, Ernst writes, “You must act now to initiate a rulemaking process and follow through on this agreement to provide certainty to farmers,” citing COVID-19 pandemic losses. In May, Ernst led a bipartisan effort urging the Trump Administration to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard and reject requests for the RFS to be waived. Ernst is currently pressing the White House to support the biofuels industry through coronavirus relief. The oil industry, expectedly, disagrees. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers claim EPA could mandate a full 15 billion gallons with zero small refinery exemptions, and the fuel supply would still only be able to accommodate about 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol. ************************************************************************************ Legislation Would Incentivize Public Schools to Work With Farmers The Small Farm to School Act seeks to create a pilot program to incentivize public schools to work closely with local farmers. The bill was introduced this week by Representatives Antonio Delgado, a New York Democrat, and Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican. The legislation would create an eight-state pilot program where local public schools would be reimbursed at a higher rate for sourcing school lunches from small farmers under the National School Lunch Program. Specifically, the bill would provide a five cent-per-lunch subsidy when a component of the meal is sourced from a small, local farm. The cost of the subsidy would be split evenly between the federal government and the participating state. The Small Farm to School Act authorizes $20 million annually for the pilot in eight states. Delgado, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, says the legislation "will help form new partnerships that both assist our small farmers and the health of our young people."

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Senate Sets up Battle Over Medicaid The Hill is reporting this week that the Senate didn't include a funding increase for Medicaid in its new COVID-19 response bill, ignoring pleas from both Democratic and Republican governors. This “tees up a contentious fight with the House over spending on the health care program for the poor,” The Hill said. Governors facing massive budget shortfalls caused by the economic downturn have warned they will have to cut Medicaid and other programs if they don't get more help from Congress--but those warnings did not sway Senate Republicans who have resisted what they say would be “bailouts” of state and local governments. “At the end of the day, it's got to be in there,” said Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. “We're in this perfect storm of hurt, he said. Since states have to balance their budgets, the only way out of this is aggressive, concerted, federal, congressional action.” Medicaid -- which is jointly paid for by states and the federal government -- covers about 70 million people. However, “enrollment is expected to increase as people lose their jobs and become newly eligible for the program.” States are also facing increased costs from paying for COVID-19 treatment and services for beneficiaries. At the same time, tax revenue is falling, leaving massive budget holes that states are required to fill. During recessions, governors and state legislatures tend to cut costly programs like Medicaid, which consumes about 20 percent of state budgets. To avoid cuts, groups like the National Association of Medical Directors and the National Governors Association want Congress to temporarily increase the share of Medicaid costs paid by the federal government, to help cover increased enrollment costs and to free up state money for other areas like education. A COVID-19 response bill recently passed by the House would increase the share of Medicaid costs paid by the federal government but it has not been considered by the Senate. Now House and Senate negotiators will have to hammer out a compromise in a final package that Congress hopes to pass in the coming weeks. “There is increasing recognition that something needs to get done,” Salo said. “I feel confident that we will get there,” he added. A spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said: “This is obviously a critical program, which is why it was in the HEROES Act.” However, Senate Republicans and the administration have a complicated history with the Medicaid program and have spent the last few years trying to reduce spending and decrease enrollment among childless adults. One disagreement between Republicans and Democrats is over a requirement passed in a previous COVID-19 response bill that prohibits states receiving increased Medicaid funding from cutting benefits or restricting eligibility. Republicans think the requirement is too restrictive to states and want to change it in the next response bill. Congress passed a COVID-19 response bill in March that increases the federal government's share of Medicaid costs but governors say more help is needed. “The COVID-19 pandemic is drastically shrinking state and local revenue with most states experiencing a budget shortfall ranging between 5 and 20 percent,” the NGA and other groups wrote in a letter to congressional leaders earlier this month. “Even states with a lower shortfall will be challenged to provide adequate healthcare services to their residents. This leaves state and local leaders with tough choices to balance their budgets while responding to a pandemic.” For example, Colorado has already cut funding to its Medicaid dental program and cut payments to some providers by 1 percent, The Hill notes. Medicaid rates are already typically lower than rates paid by Medicare and private insurance. Other states, such as Florida and Tennessee, have put off planned improvements to the Medicaid program, like increases in provider rates and extra services for pregnant women, the report said. Federal law prohibits states receiving increased Medicaid funding from cutting required benefits, increasing premiums or restricting eligibility—restrictions Congress put in place to protect beneficiaries from losing coverage during the pandemic. That means in order to find savings, states turn to cutting provider rates, which some experts say could be disastrous, especially for those that primarily see Medicaid patients. Those providers are already struggling to maintain social distancing as they see more patients and as more people are staying at home and avoiding nonemergency care. “Medicaid provider payment cuts will compound financial damage from the pandemic, raising the risk that pediatricians, behavioral health providers and safety net clinics close their doors,” said Aviva Aron-Dine, vice president for health policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. So, we will see. The politics of federal assistance for anti-virus programs appear to be growing tougher as additional programs are considered—and, as needs for assistance grow. These battles for federal assistance are increasingly large and extended and should be watched closely as the season proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


Iowa Lawmakers' Ethanol Focus Continues Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is keeping up pressure on EPA over biofuels, this time shifting her attention to the issue of E15 and expanding the availability of the fuel after EPA changed its rules to allow for year-round sales of the higher ethanol blend. In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Ernst pointed out that the infrastructure issues for E15 are not necessarily valid, noting that all steel fuel tanks and fiberglass tanks put in service since 1990 are approved for up to 100% ethanol. “Given the lifespan of underground tanks, almost every underground fuel tank should be able to handle E15 and higher blends of ethanol,” Ernst stated. Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said aid for the U.S. biofuel sector may come down to decisions made by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. "We're in a position of depending on the Secretary of Agriculture if this $20 billion goes to him, getting some of it for ethanol," Grassley said on Tuesday, following a question from DTN. The package provides $20 billion to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to help agricultural producers, growers and processors. The latter is being cited by some as covering ethanol producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


Booker Offers Legislation to Slow Plant Line Speeds Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., filed a bill on Tuesday that would suspend all current and future line-speed waivers for meatpacking plants during the COVID-19 pandemic, in line with a companion House bill from Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, and others. The legislation would cover both meat and poultry processing. “The situation has only worsened since the USDA has approved nearly 20 requests from meatpacking plants to exceed regulatory limits on line speeds despite the risks posed to workers, consumers, and animal welfare,” Booker said. But the idea of slowing line speeds is being met with pushback from the U.S. meat industry. Smithfield Foods CEO Ken Sullivan said that slowing them by 50% “means euthanizing half of our nation's livestock, the collapse of farm prices (law of supply and demand), burying food in the ground, food insecurity and higher food prices for everyone including, most importantly, those that can least afford it.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the lineup includes weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, a report on second-quarter U.S. GDP and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Natural gas inventory is posted at 9:30 a.m. and weather and trade news will also get traders' attention. Weather Moderate to locally heavy rain is in store for the central Plains through southern Midwest, Delta and Southeast Thursday. Some flooding is possible in areas with heavier rains. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Temperature will be seasonal in northern and central areas and hot south and northwest. Heat bulletins cover much of the western and northwestern U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


Coronavirus Relief Includes $20 Billion for Agriculture The Senate coronavirus relief package includes an expected $20 billion for agriculture. The relief package worth $1 trillion released this week by Republican leadership in the Senate, however, falls short, according to Democrats. And, Congress will need to act quickly and reach an agreement to pass a bill before expanded unemployment benefits expire. The Senate HEALS Act specifically provides $20.45 billion in direct funding to the Office of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, but does not make changes to how the Commodity Credit Corporation can spend money, according to the Hagstrom Report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, criticized the Senate bill, saying, “They don’t have money for food stamps, but they have money for an FBI building.” The bill asks for $1.75 billion to rebuild the existing FBI headquarters. The House passed HEROES Act, a $3 trillion bill, would raise the max Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit, and prohibit the Trump administration from implementing three proposed rules that would cut benefits and eligibility. ************************************************************************************ Lawsuit Challenges Bioengineered GMO Food Labeling A lawsuit led by the Center for Food Safety challenges Department of Agriculture rules on labeling genetically engineered, or GMO foods, as bioengineered foods. The lawsuit claims the final regulations, issued in 2019, includes provisions “which will leave the majority of GMO-derived foods unlabeled,” as it prohibits the use of the widely known terms GMO and GE. The Center for Food Safety is representing a coalition of food labeling nonprofits and retailers, including the Natural Grocers, operating 157 stores in 20 states, and Puget Consumers Co-op, the nation's largest community-owned food market. CFS legal director George Kimbrell, counsel in the case, says, "The American public successfully won GE food labeling after more than a two-decade fight, but the Trump rules fall far short of what consumers reasonably expect and the law requires.” The Center for Food Safety also challenges USDA's allowance of electronic or digital disclosure on packaging, also known as "QR code" or "smartphone" labeling, without requiring additional on-package labeling, among other issues. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Deserve a Seat at the Table in Milk Pricing Policy The American Farm Bureau Federation released its final report on priorities for milk pricing reform, calling for more democracy and a more equitable program for dairy farmers. A Farm Bureau Federal Milk Marketing Order Working Group worked for a year to examine the system and develop recommendations to modernize the current FMMO system. Among AFBF's priorities is amending the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act to allow dairy farmers to directly vote on Federal Milk Marketing Order issues. Currently, only dairy farmers who are independent and not members of cooperatives may cast individual ballots. Cooperatives may allow their members to vote independently, but then lose their ability to bloc vote on behalf of their non-participating members. AFBF supports allowing modified bloc-voting, which would allow co-op members to vote independently, while allowing cooperatives to cast ballots for farmers who choose not to cast an individual ballot. Other recommendations in the final report include expanding price discovery and examining alternative ways to price fluid milk and improve risk-sharing between farmers and processors. ************************************************************************************ China Asks for Packages from U.S. to Investigate Unsolicited Seed Mailings The China seed saga continues as Chinese officials ask for packages from the U.S. to investigate. In a daily briefing with media, a spokesperson with China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Tuesday stated China Post, China’s state-owned postal service, has contacted the U.S. Postal Service, asking it to send fake packages to China for investigation. The spokesperson noted China is a member of the Universal Postal Union, which prohibits plant seeds as imports, or in transit, for member countries. China Post says, for some of the packages, the return address labels “turned out to be fake ones with erroneous layouts and entries,” suggesting the origin of the packages is unknown. Reports of unsolicited seeds showing up in U.S. mailboxes surfaced last week. The Department of Agriculture and several states urge residents to report the packages to state agriculture officials and dispose of the seeds properly. USDA considers the practice agricultural smuggling and is investigating. ************************************************************************************ NCBA Addresses Checkoff Referendum Petition The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association this week released its response to a petition calling for a vote on the Beef Checkoff. A group of cattle organizations, including R-CALF USA, launched the petition earlier this month. NCBA President Marty Smith says, “NCBA fully supports the producers’ right to have their voices heard on the future of the checkoff. However, we also believe the petition and signature gathering processes should be transparent and conducted with integrity.” Smith says the Beef Checkoff has a long track record of solid returns for each dollar invested, adding, “we believe that a majority of cattlemen and women stand behind the program.” The Department of Agriculture also responded, stating a group of ten percent or more of the number of cattle producers must request the referendum. USDA also questioned the methods of gathering signatures, saying, “USDA will apply additional scrutiny to petition signatures obtained through an online platform and will consider whether any signatures have been obtained subject to improper influence or coercion.” ************************************************************************************ Potatoes USDA: Retail Potato Sales Reach Record highs Retail potato sales reached a five-year record high July 2019 through June 2020. U.S. potato marketing organization Potatoes USA reports total potato sales increased by 11 percent in dollars and ten percent in volume. Every category, except deli-prepared sides, increased in both dollar and volume sales. Frozen, dehydrated, and canned potatoes saw double-digit increases in both dollar and volume sales. Potato chips and fresh potatoes make up the majority of volume sales, and both saw increases in dollars and volume. Fresh potato sales increased 15 percent and ten percent in volume sales compared to the previous year. All fresh potato types increased in volume sales, except for red and fingerling potatoes. Petite potatoes had the highest increase in dollar and volume sales. All pack sizes showed double-digit growth in dollar sales. Pack sizes greater than ten-pound bags saw an increase in excess of 20 percent in dollar and volume sales. Fresh potatoes had a larger dollar sales increase than any of the last five marketing years.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Coronavirus Relief Fight Renewed Bloomberg reports this week that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is taking the $1 trillion GOP virus relief package into negotiations with Democrats weighed down by a divided party and friction with the White House. The report notes a “fresh urgency for Republicans to act” months after McConnell pressed the “pause button” on new aid, as virus cases and deaths have soared and the president's poll ratings have slumped, threatening GOP control of both the White House and Senate. It also notes that Senate Republicans are split sharply, with some conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wanting to spend far less, if anything, on another stimulus amid record deficits, while others want more aid to state and local governments. Democrats, who've proposed a $3.5 trillion virus relief package, are eager to exploit those divisions. After meeting for almost two hours Monday night with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized the GOP proposal and said McConnell wouldn't even be able to count on Republican backing if it was put before the Senate. “It's pretty clear they don't have 51 votes in the Senate among the Republicans for a proposal,” Schumer said. With supplemental unemployment insurance expiring and other elements of the last stimulus legislation beginning to dry up, Congress has little time for extended negotiations, Bloomberg thinks. Lawmakers are set to leave for an August break in two weeks and will be facing a timetable compressed by the looming November election when they return in September. “The American people need more help, they need it to be comprehensive, and they need it to be carefully tailored to this crossroads,” McConnell said as he rolled out the GOP package. The bill would trim extra unemployment benefits, send $1,200 payments to a majority of Americans and shield schools, businesses, and other groups from lawsuits stemming from infections. Bloomberg noted key items in the bill include, among other things, $105 billion in education funding, with $70 billion going toward elementary, middle and high schools; $29 billion for colleges, and $5 billion for a flexible fund. Two-thirds of the funds would go to schools that institute reopening plans and the rest to schools as a whole, under existing federal formulas. In addition, it would include a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program aimed to target those worst affected and a new government-guaranteed, long-term loan initiative of almost $60 billion created for seasonal firms and those in low-income communities as well as $16 billion to help states ramp up tests and contact tracing. Republicans in the Senate had initially sought $25 billion in new funds. Also, the bill seeks to end dependence on foreign supply chains for personal protective equipment through tax credits to spur domestic manufacturing. The bill also includes $10 billion for the nation's airports as the pandemic continues to strain the aviation industry, although that figure is less than the $13 billion requested by airport organizations. Facilities that receive aid would have to keep at least 90% of their workers employed through March 2021. More than 3,000 U.S. airports already received a combined $10 billion under the March coronavirus relief package. The bill also includes $1.75 billion for a new FBI headquarters in Washington, a priority for the president who wants to prevent the facility from being moved to the suburbs. Plans to relocate the FBI from its current location about four blocks from the White House had been in the works since about 2012 — but were scuttled after the president took office. Not included in the proposal is any new money for states and cities to cope with swelling budget shortfalls, leaving them to contend with a grave financial crisis that's already forcing them to slash spending, furlough workers and delay major projects as tax revenue disappears. That's a stark contrast to the approximately $1 trillion that Democrats included in the bill the House passed last May, Bloomberg said. So, we will see. The politics surrounding coronavirus relief have hardened significantly in recent weeks, as the pre-election debate has intensified. While the need for additional support has increased as the virus attacks have continued with the approach of the new school year — but so has the “sticker shock” of the growing deficits. These are concerns and debates that producers should watch closely as the fights intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


USDA Addresses Unsolicited Seeds Received by Some Americans Consumers in multiple states have received packages of seeds that are labeled as jewelry or have Chinese language on the packets. Agriculture commissioners in several states have warned against planting the seeds. States reporting the deliveries include Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Washington. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) tweeted Tuesday they are “working closely with @CBP and State Depts of Ag re: unrequested seeds.” They urge those receiving the seeds to contact their state ag department or the state Plant Health Office. “Keep packaging and do not plant seeds from an unknown origin!” APHIS urged. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China strictly follows restrictions on sending seeds and said the records on the packages appear to have been falsified, according to checks by China's postal service.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


CFAP Payments Reach $6.55 Billion USDA has now paid out $6.55 billion under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) with 473,124 applications approved as of July 27. Of the $6.55 billion, USDA has paid out $3.31 billion for livestock, $1.73 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.29 billion for dairy and $227.5 million for specialty crops. Payouts by commodities are led by $2.87 billion for cattle, $1.29 billion for milk, $1.18 billion for corn, $416.1 million for hogs, $330.8 million for soybeans and $164.6 million for upland cotton. USDA initially projected that the initial round of payments to producers (80% of estimated gross payments) would be $3.01 billion for non-specialty crops, $2.30 billion for special crops, $2.78 billion for dairy, $4.35 billion for cattle, $2.14 billion for hogs and pigs and $80 million for other sectors for a total of $15.38 billion. The top six states receiving the aid are Iowa ($678.8 million), Nebraska ($484.2 million), Minnesota ($420.4 million), Wisconsin ($384.2 million), Texas ($355.6 million) and California ($345.4 million).

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets In addition to weather forecasts and trade news, an index of U.S. pending home sales is set for 9 a.m. CDT, followed by the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. The Federal Reserve will have an announcement at 1 p.m. CDT and is expected to keep interest rates near zero. Weather A front and a developing system will combine to provide periods of moderate to heavy rain from the Black Hills in South Dakota through the Southeast on Wednesday. There is a risk for flooding with these showers in the Black Hills and also for most of Oklahoma as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


USDA Announces More Farmers to Families Food Box Program Purchases The Department of Agriculture will launch a third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases in September. The purchases will spend the balance of $3 billion authorized for the program. So far, over 46 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes have been invoiced and delivered. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the program "is accomplishing what we intended – supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most." In the third round of purchases, USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products. In the ongoing second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1, USDA aims to purchase up to $1.47 billion of food for the program. For the second round, USDA extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program worth up to $1.27 billion. The first round of purchases totaled more than $947 million from May 15 through June 30, 2020. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Residents Receiving Unsolicited Seeds from China Numerous state agriculture departments, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are urging consumers not to plant seeds sent to them from China. Americans across the country report receiving unsolicited seeds from China in packages labeled as jewelry. These unknown seeds are a concern for American farmers, as they could be invasive species, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock. USDA considers the practice agricultural smuggling, and all states reporting the practice are asking consumers to notify their state agriculture departments. Consumers are asked not to open any sealed package containing seeds, and not throw unsealed seeds in the trash, as they could grow in landfills. The packages may be part of what is called a brushing scheme, where criminals buy their own cheap products, send them to a real address, then write a positive review about their product online. Similar packages containing seeds are showing up in mailboxes in Britain, as well. ************************************************************************************ Rural America 2020 Campaign Says Trump Policies Hurting Farmers A new political campaign, Rural America 2020, takes aim at the Trump administration. Founded by a self-described former Trump voter, Ohio farmer Chris Gibbs, the campaign advocates for policies that benefit agriculture and rural America. The group seeks to bring attention to President Donald Trump’s trade war, alleged rural community failures, and provide policy solutions for a stronger rural America. The campaign cites a rise in farm bankruptcies, farm debt and the decline in net farm income. Gibbs says, “Rural communities all across this nation are struggling under this administration.” He adds, “Too often rural America is portrayed with a broad brush as Trump country," saying Rural American 2020 is a way for rural residents to speak out against the Trump administration. In addition to building community-level coalitions in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, Rural America 2020 will be advertising in key states to highlight farmer's voices who are critical of the President and his policies. ************************************************************************************ Grains Council Hosting Virtual Annual Meeting Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Grains Council kicked off its 60th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting virtually Monday. The meeting seeks to help U.S. grain sector leaders assess the challenges affecting their industry and offer reassurance grain exports continue despite disruptions. The meeting began on an encouraging note from USGC Chairman Darren Armstrong, a farmer from North Carolina, who reviewed the current marketing year’s top five markets for U.S. corn – Mexico, Japan, Colombia, South Korea and China, and the top three markets for U.S. sorghum. Armstrong says, “While the current domestic demand situation is challenging, the export outlook has bright spots to share.” USGC will hold its Board of Delegates meeting and conduct elections today (Tuesday.) The meeting will wrap up on Wednesday with virtual Advisory Team meetings in the morning and a closing general session in the afternoon. Armstrong adds, “Throughout this extraordinary time, U.S. farmers have never stopped working and neither has the U.S. Grains Council.” ************************************************************************************ BQA Program Earns Compliance with International Animal Welfare Standards The Beef Quality Assurance Program, known as BQA, is now recognized as an industry-leading animal welfare program. Funded by the Beef Checkoff and managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the program complies with the International Organization for Standardization Animal Welfare Management General Requirements and. The standard was developed in 2016 for programs to show they are aligned with the principles of the World Organization of Animal Health Terrestrial Animal Health Code. Julia Herman, Beef Cattle Specialist Veterinarian for NCBA, says affirmation that the program complies with the specifications is “an important recognition of U.S. cattle producers’ continued commitment to delivering a safe, high quality beef supply while maintaining the highest animal welfare standards.” Developed more than 30 years ago, the BQA program has become the industry standard for delivering education and resources to cattle producers. More than 85 percent of the U.S. beef supply today is managed by BQA-certified farmers and ranchers, according to the National BQA Database. ************************************************************************************ USDA Launches New Farmers.gov Features to Help Farmers Hire Workers New features on the farmers.gov website will help facilitate the employment of H-2A workers. The Department of Agriculture announced the new features Monday, which includes a real-time dashboard that enables farmers to track the status of their eligible employer application and visa applications for temporary nonimmigrant workers. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says USDA’s goal is to help farmers navigate the complex H-2A program administered by Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department. The changes aim to make hiring a farmworker an easier process for farmers to navigate. The changes also include a streamlined login process and enables easy access to the Department of Labor's Foreign Labor Application Gateway. Additionally, the changes allow farmers to track time-sensitive actions and allows for farmers to access all application forms online. Secretary Perdue says, "We will continue working to streamline these and other processes to better serve our customers across the country.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


Washington Insider: National Debt Concerns Grow The Hill is reporting this week that a group of Senate Republicans are raising red flags over the rapid expansion of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet. They are raising concerns that this could impact interest rates, the strength of the U.S. dollar and the overall U.S. economy “before colleagues realize it's a serious problem.” The Hill says these worries are being led by Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., David Perdue, R-Ga., James Lankford, R-Okla. They show that opposition to passing a stimulus bill that exceeds $1 trillion is spreading in the GOP conference beyond Tea Party stalwarts such as Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas. In addition, as deficit concerns go mainstream in the Senate GOP conference, pressure is rising on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to take a hard line with the administration and Senate Democrats in the relief negotiations. The stakes of the current talks are high, especially since McConnell is up for reelection against a well-funded Democratic opponent. He wants to deliver for his state but also to avoid a backlash from the conservative right, including Paul and Cruz, who have been highly critical of the projected cost of the next package. Now more mainstream members of the GOP conference are joining in the alarm over the Federal Reserve's balance sheet, which has ballooned from $4.27 trillion on March 11 to $6.93 trillion on July 22. During that span, the Fed's ownership of U.S. Treasury securities has soared from $2.52 trillion to $4.27 trillion. Some Republicans worry that with the U.S. debt climbing, they're seeing a drop off in demand in the world's financial markets for U.S. bonds, which could foreshadow climbing interest rates and a major problem for the economy down the road. Sen. Scott said that he's also worried about the price of gold going up. He warned GOP colleagues during private discussions on the stimulus bill. Asked about the chances of dropping demand for U.S. debt, Scott says “it's already happened.” Monthly statements from the Treasury Department show that debt held by the public jumped by $3.1 trillion from the beginning of March to the beginning of July. During that time, the Fed's outright ownership of U.S. Treasury securities climbed $1.74 trillion. The Hill estimated that the Fed has purchased about 56 percent of the Treasury debt issued in March, April, May and June. “Sen. Scott is right that over this four-month period, more than half of the increase in debt held by the public was purchased by the Fed,” said David Wilcox, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He noted that most of the Fed purchases occurred during the height of the financial panic in March and April. “This was a period of extraordinary dysfunction for a six-week period from mid-March to the end of April and during that period—yes, absolutely — it was the design of the Fed to purchase Treasury debt at an historically unprecedented pace,” he said. Wilcox noted that Fed purchases of treasuries moderated in May and June to a pace of “about $25 billion per week” and interest rates have remained low. Still, some GOP senators worry that interest rates could ratchet up and catch Washington by surprise — which would require Congress to appropriate tens of billions of dollars more on an annual basis to service the debt. Perdue, the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General, said he's raised his concerns with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Director Larry Kudlow. “We've gone from $23 [trillion] to $26 trillion in debt,” he said. “I'm really worried about the potential impact here of another $1 trillion or whatever we end up with. We need to be very circumspect. Anything we need to do now needs to be very targeted,” he said. Perdue worries the Fed balance sheet could grow to more than $13 trillion and said that he's raised the issue with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. And, he said he was worried about muted demand for U.S. debt at a recent auction. Like Scott, Perdue thinks the Fed had to step in and buy up treasuries to make up for diminished demand for U.S. debt in the financial markets. “The Fed stepped in and what that did is it kept interest rates low, artificially,” he said. “Because if you were to go to the market, supply and demand, you'd have to increase interest rates to get people to buy it.” Bank of America Merrill Lynch chief investment strategist Michael Hartnett warned on Friday that growing debt and maxed out fiscal policy will cause a “great debasement” of the dollar. Hartnett wrote that erosion of the dollar is “underway as the default narrative for U.S. economy with excess debt, insufficient growth, and maxed-out monetary & fiscal stimulus.” So, we will see. It is not surprising that concerns about growing interventions in the economy are raising risks, observers say. However, the coronavirus is still the main threat and Congress seems certain to craft another big relief bill -- in spite of growing discomforts about impacts on the economy. These are debates producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


US-China Talks On Progress of Phase One Agreement Up In Air The head of China's trade negotiating team, Vice-Premier Liu He, and U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer, are expected to hold talks in August, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported, echoing prior reports from other media and including remarks by Lighthizer earlier this month. The meeting will be “an important inflection point” to allow both sides to assess the progress of the deal, a source told the SCMP. However, if because of the prevailing tensions between Washington and Beijing, “there was less of an appetite for engagement at the moment,” the two sides might agree that a telephone conversation between Lighthizer and Liu on May 8 had satisfied the “meeting” clause of the deal, the source said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


FY 2021 Ag Spending Approved, But Package Faces Veto Threat The House on Friday voted 224-to-189 to approve a $259.5 billion four-bill measure consisting of the Agriculture, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and State-Foreign Operations bills. The package includes $37.5 billion in emergency spending that Republicans and the White House contend busts the budget caps deal reached last summer and contains numerous policy riders they labeled "poison pills” which were factors behind a White House veto threat, including blocking food stamp restrictions for able-bodied adults without children. The four House bills will now go to the Senate where they are likely to sit until after the November 3 election, at the earliest.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Monday's higher crop ratings for corn, soybeans and spring wheat are apt to be bearish market factors for Tuesday's trading. The latest weather forecasts remains important to grain traders with soybeans approaching pod-filling. The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting and at 9 a.m. CDT, an index of U.S. consumer confidence is due out. Any trade news will also be noticed. Weather Tuesday will be warm and dry across northern and central crop areas. Rainfall will be confined to an arc of shower and thunderstorm activity in portions of the Southern Plains and southern Midwest. Conditions will generally favor corn moving into its filling stages and soybeans in pod-setting and pod-filling stages, along with developing spring wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


House Passes Ag Appropriations Bill Despite White House Opposition On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a minibus of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills, which included the agriculture bill. However, the Hagstrom Report says the White House is opposed to the overall bill and cited some specific provisions as the reason for its opposition. The final vote was 224-189. Seven Democrats, including House Ag Chair Collin Peterson, voted with Republicans in voting against it. Another 17 Republicans didn’t vote. The Senate hasn’t yet acted on appropriations bills. It’s not clear if the House and Senate will finish the appropriations process or pass a continuing resolution that will fund the government either until after the election or next year. In a statement of administration policy, the Office of Management and Budget says the Trump administration is concerned about provisions like those that would “stop historic welfare reforms at USDA.” OMB also says that such provisions would degrade the ability of USDA to move more families forward, provide equitable treatment across state lines, and effectively target program resources to those most in need. “The OMB statement didn’t threaten a veto of H.R. 7608, instead saying, “The administration looks forward to working with Congress to address our concerns as the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations process moves ahead.” ********************************************************************************************** China Continues to Buy More U.S. Soybeans China is continuing to ramp up its purchases of U.S. soybeans despite the uncertainties regarding the Asian nation’s ability to fulfill its Phase One Trade Agreement commitments with the U.S. Last Thursday made it eight consecutive days that the USDA announced additional export sales of soybeans to China and other locations. The USDA says private exporters filed reports of agricultural export sales totaling 132,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery during the 2020-2021 marketing year, which will begin on September 1. John Baize is an analyst with the U.S. Soybean Export Council. He says as Chinese buyers rush to fill deliveries that crushers will need over the next few months, U.S. soybeans coming from the Pacific Northwest are $6 cheaper than Brazil’s, giving American soybeans a competitive edge. USDA also reported export sales of 211,300 metric tons of soybeans for delivery to unknown destinations during the 2020-2021 marketing year. Baize says these are likely headed to somewhere in the European Union. ********************************************************************************************** USGC Tech Talk Series Expanding DDGS Sales Opportunities in Asia The U.S. Grains Council recently held two technical webinars intended to help with expanding future export opportunities for Dried Distiller’s Grains with Solubles (DDGS) in Southeast Asia. Caleb Wurth, USGC’s Assistant Director of Southeast Asia, says, “Southeast Asia will be one of the strongest performing markets for U.S. DDGS this marketing year, despite COVID-19 challenges.” The Council calls Southeast Asia a “trader’s market” thanks to expansive geography and a mix of nationalities. The extensive technical education and trade servicing done by USGC staff members are expanding the footprint of DDGS in countries across the region. Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and New Zealand all rank among the top ten buyers for the American ethanol co-product. Other markets like the Philippines and Malaysia are also showing increasing interest and purchases of U.S. DDGS, as well as other corn co-products. “Southeast Asia is now the destination for one-third of all U.S. DDGS exports,” Wurth adds. “The strong performance comes despite the challenges of movement restrictions, a lack of available containers, and new trade agreements signed between major markets and U.S. competitors.” Wurth also says the council is maintaining a high level of engagement in the region despite the constraints of COVID-19. ********************************************************************************************** Florida Growers Urged to Comment on Unfair Produce Trade with Mexico The Florida Ag Department and Commissioner Nikki Fried (Freed) are strongly encouraging producers to submit comments for the upcoming field hearings on unfair produce trade with Mexico. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative recently announced virtual field hearings will take place on August 13 and 20. Growing Produce Dot Com says these hearings will allow the Commerce Department and the Trump Administration an opportunity to hear from Florida’s seasonal produce growers on the urgent need for federal action on unfair foreign trade. “The concerns of Florida’s farmers with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement remain the same as when NAFTA was renegotiated two years ago,” says Fried. “The deal lacks protections against unfair trade practices that devastated our state’s produce growers.” With the USTR hearings scheduled for August, Commissioner Fried says now is the time for Florida’s growers and others affected by unfair foreign trade to make their voices heard. “Our farmers are the best in the world and deserve a level playing field to compete on,” she adds. A Florida Department of Ag report shows that imported Mexican produce has caused more than $3.7 billion in losses for U.S. producers since 2000. Mexico has expanded its share of the U.S. domestic market by 217 percent in that time. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Groups File Appeal on California’s Prop 12 Back in 2018, California voters passed Proposition 12, which is scheduled to go into effect on January 1 of 2022. A Protect the Harvest release says the bill increases regulations on the egg, pork, and veal producers both in the state of California as well as any out-of-state producers that want to sell products in the state. Proposition 12 was written, funded, and marketed by the Humane Society of the United States and their “Prevent Cruelty California” coalition. Right now, just one percent of pork producers comply with the housing requirements of Prop 12. When it goes into effect in 2022, a majority of the nation’s pork farmers won’t be allowed to sell their products in California. The American Farm Bureau and the National Pork Producers Council have jointly filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to ask that Prop 12 be ruled invalid. The appeal says that Prop 12 is unconstitutional and seeks to allow California to regulate states outside its governance by requiring producers to abide by the state’s own regulations to do business there. Protect the Harvest says it is “extremely hopeful” that the NPPC and the Farm Bureau are successful in their appeal. ********************************************************************************************** NCGA Hosted a “Virtual Fly-In” to Washington, D.C. Even during COVID-19, the National Corn Growers Association is working to help improve the economic situation for U.S. corn farmers. Shortly after the group held its first Virtual Corn Congress, the organization also hosted a virtual fly-in to Capitol Hill on July 22-23. NCGA typically hosts a fly-in for corn growers to Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Corn Congress that normally takes place in July. The NCGA fly-ins allow farmers to provide members of Congress and their staffs first-hand accounts of how policies from Washington impact their farms. While coronavirus restrictions prevented producers from traveling to Capitol Hill for face-to-face meetings, the virtual fly-in allowed members to still share their stories and weigh in on current policy discussions. Growers talked about a wide range of topics, such as assistance for producers impacted by COVID-19, the benefits of ethanol and a strong RFS, along with the push for a Low Carbon Octane Standard. 42 corn growers and NCGA state staff took part in 109 virtual meetings with Congressional members and their staffs.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


Washington Insider: House Passes Spending Package POLITICO is reporting this week that the House approved a $259.5 billion government spending package on Friday in the Democrats' opening bid to ward off a government shutdown -- a potentially devastating scenario while the nation is embroiled in a pandemic and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The four-bill minibus boosts budgets at the departments of State, Interior, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and other agencies with billions of additional dollars, while imposing new restrictions on the administration “that guarantee it will never become law,” POLITICO says. It's the first appropriations measure to move through any chamber of Congress this year but lawmakers are seen as almost certainly hurtling toward a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open beyond the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Election year politics are expected to “sap political will to craft a bipartisan spending deal in the coming weeks, while Congress wrestles with another $1 trillion-plus coronavirus response package to combat creeping unemployment and spiking infections across the country.” The four-bill minibus is the first of two Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 funding bundles that House Democrats plan to pass by the end of the month. The House will take up a seven-bill, $1.4 trillion package next week that would fund the Pentagon and the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, Energy and more. Once both packages are passed, the House will have approved nearly all of their fiscal 2021 appropriations bills, except the measure that funds parts of the Legislative Branch. That bill didn't include a cost-of-living adjustment for lawmakers, which a number of members believe is crucial to living in DC after enduring more than a decade of pay freezes. House leaders could still decide to bring the Legislative Branch bill to the floor as a standalone measure. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is also pushing to strip the Homeland Security spending bill from the $1.4 trillion minibus, with some members loath to fund the agencies charged with implementing the president's immigration agenda and carrying out paramilitary action in Oregon and Washington state. But the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is backing the Homeland Security bill and top appropriators say they have no plans to yank it from the floor. CHC Chair Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore. and others have also submitted an amendment that would rein in the administration's efforts to quell protests in Oregon and Washington. “We really can't afford not to pass this,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., chair of the House Homeland Security spending panel, told POLITICO on Friday. “We need to send a very clear message to DHS that this isn't business as usual. They have to be held accountable and there's going to be consequences.” The four-bill measure passed by the House on Friday would provide $65.9 billion for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other programs, marking an $8.5 billion increase over current funding or a nearly 15 percent hike. That includes more than $10 billion for global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats also included $12.5 billion in emergency funding to address rising veterans' health care costs. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department would receive more than $9 billion and nearly $14 billion, respectively. More than $4 billion would go to rural development programs and more than $3 billion would flow to the Food and Drug Administration. The package also includes a number of “poison pills” aimed at the administration, including provisions that would criticize the president's “go it alone” approach to foreign aid, restore funding for the World Health Organization, block the administration's crackdown on food stamps and bar drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Senate, meanwhile, hasn't even begun its appropriations process this year. Democrats in the upper chamber want to add billions of dollars in emergency pandemic aid to annual spending bills, in addition to police reform provisions, just as House Democrats did. But Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has said those issues should be dealt with separately. The first House minibus comes after Congress secured a two-year budget deal last summer which boosted spending and allotted a total of $740.5 billion in defense funding and $634.5 billion in nondefense funding for fiscal 2021. So, we will see. At this point in this year, nearly every decision is political and many are toxically so — and, none more than the spending bills. Certainly, these fights should be watched closely by producers as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


Trump Warns China Trade Deal Means Less to Him Now President Donald Trump Thursday remarked during a briefing on the COVID-19 situation that the U.S.-China Phase One trade deal “means less to me now than it did when I made it. It just means much less to me, can you understand that?” Earlier this week, Trump had touted the recent corn sales to China as a notable development. This does not necessarily mark a shift with Trump who has stepped up his negative comments on China in recent weeks. And, China has continued to purchase U.S. ag goods with announcements of daily sales taking place and additional purchases confirmed in the Weekly Export Sales report. The harsh rhetoric from both sides in their diplomatic disputes has not yet led to China halting its purchases or pulling out of the Phase One agreement.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


Airbus Removes Subsidies Found In Violation By WTO In Bid To End US Sanctions Airbus announced it reached agreement with the French and Spanish governments to amend repayable launch aid arrangements deemed by the WTO to be an unfair subsidy relative to the Airbus A350 airplane. The launch aid arrangement was a loan linked to exports that helped Airbus develop new models with low interest rates on the loan. “After 16 years of litigation at the World Trade Organization, this is the final step to stop the longstanding dispute and removes any justification for U.S. tariffs,” Airbus said in a statement. “The tariffs imposed by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) are currently harming all targeted industry sectors, including U.S. airlines, and are adding to a very difficult environment as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis.” There are a number of ag products already hit by tariffs and more that the U.S. is considering hitting with heavier tariffs in the dispute, setting a deadline of August for comments on the plan. “With this final move, Airbus considers itself in complete compliance with all WTO rulings,” Airbus said. A loan from the UK, also part of the dispute, has already been repaid, and the aid extended to Airbus by Germany has already been amended. There has been no reaction yet from the U.S. side.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


Monday Ag Weather Brief: Markets Heading into the final week of July, grain traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and any trade news that develops. A report on U.S. durable goods orders in June is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by weekly grain export inspections at 10 a.m. Traders will compare weather notes with the latest crop ratings from USDA's Crop Progress report, set for 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Showers and thunderstorms are in store Monday for large portions of the Southern Plains through eastern Midwest. Amounts will be light to moderate; however, locally heavy activity brings on some flash flood threat as well. This rain adds to precipitation that occurred during the past weekend in the northern and western Midwest to bring on largely favorable crop moisture conditions for late July. Showers are also in store for the Delta and Gulf Coast. Temperatures will be seasonal north and central and very warm to hot south, beneficial for filling corn and pod-setting soybeans.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


Senate and House Coronavirus Aid Packages Similar in Amounts Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota told the Hagstrom Report this week that he thinks the Senate coronavirus aid package will be similar to the House HEROES Act. The two packages will contain similar amounts of money for agricultural assistance, but Hoeven says that the nutritional provisions will likely be up to Senate leadership. Hoeven is chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. He says USDA will start with the $14 billion that was previously allocated to the Commodity Credit Corporation but notes that Congress will push that number higher so that USDA will have as much as $35 billion in additional assistance for farmers. Hoeven thinks the HEROES Act has roughly $68 billion set aside for agriculture and nutrition and that $33 billion of that is for aid to farmers and ranchers. USDA won’t be able to use the $14 billion in CCC money until July first. However, they can now use that money to pay out the rest of the $16.5 billion promised to farmers and ranchers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The Senate bill gives the USDA the ability to make payments to ethanol plants and aid to livestock producers who had to dispose of animals they couldn’t get slaughtered. ********************************************************************************************** Ranchers Call House Legislation a “Reckless Land Grab” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association called Wednesday a “sad day for public lands and the American taxpayer.” Kaitlynn Glover, the Executive Director of Natural Resources for NCBA and the Public Lands Council Executive Director. She says House passage of the Great American Outdoors Act shows representatives “have chosen to willingly relinquish their responsibility to engage in important land conservation decisions far into the future.” The NCBA says the bill will allow for virtually unrestricted spending for lands and waters across the U.S. that will be added to a federal estate that is already in disrepair. “The 310 members of the House that supported the bill sentenced these lands to a bleak future, complete with the expectation that these lands will be added to the deferred maintenance backlog in a not-so-distant future,” says Glover. “The ranching community is asking President Trump to veto this reckless excuse for a land management bill.” The GAO Act gives government agencies free rein to spend a minimum of $360 million every year in Land and Water Conservation Fund money to acquire new private land without any oversight from Congress. The Senate passed the GAO Act in June of 2020. ********************************************************************************************** More Reaction to USDA Beef Investigation Report The USDA released a report on its investigation into price upheaval within the U.S. beef industry, specifically as it relates to a fire in Holcomb, Kansas, as well as disruptions caused by COVID-19. Brooke Miller, President of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, says, “The top-line considerations detailed in this report provide a roadmap for returning transparency and true price discovery in the cattle marketplace. USCA is advocating for making these changes through a reauthorization of Livestock Mandatory Reporting, which is set to expire on September 30.” Miller also says his group co-authored a letter to Senate Ag Chair Pat Roberts and asked for a hearing on the state of the U.S. cattle industry. The letter was “met with silence,” something he calls unacceptable. The National Farmers Union says price-fixing in the meat industry is nothing new. While they welcome the USDA report, the group says it must be accompanied by real reforms. “Radical and immediate action is needed to create a fair and balanced food system,” says NFU President Rob Larew. “We’re asking USDA and other federal agencies to strengthen protections for farmers, enforce existing regulations, and prevent undue market power in the future.” Larew says the agency must continue to conduct a thorough investigation, saying the NFU “intends to hold them to account.” ********************************************************************************************** The Fertilizer Institute Applauds Extension of Chemical Facility Safety Measures The Fertilizer Institute is happy that President Trump and Congress extended the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) for three years. “A long-term extension of the CFATS program is what the fertilizer industry supported and wanted to see,” says TFI President Corey Rosenbusch. “This provides the industry with the ability to properly plan and invest in measures that promote security at our facilities.” The secure and safe handling of fertilizers is the highest priority for the Fertilizer Institute and its members. “The numbers speak for themselves,” Rosenbusch says. “The fertilizer industry is twice as safe as our chemical industry peers. We actively participate in and sponsor numerous safety initiatives.” He says voluntary, industry-driven programs like the ResponsibleAg Program help to enhance compliance by the agricultural retailers with a variety of federal regulations, including those administered by the Department of Homeland Security. “Fertilizers are necessary to grow the crops that feed the world,” Rosenbusch adds. “Half of all food grown in the world today is made possible through the use of fertilizer. We’re committed to ensuring the world has the food, fuel, and fiber it needs, and that fertilizer facilities are secure.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Wheat Associates Select New Officer Team The U.S. Wheat Associates Board of Directors chose new officers during their virtual annual meeting on July 17. The new officers for 2020-2021 are Chairman Darren Padget of Oregon, Vice-Chair Rhonda Larson of Minnesota, Secretary-Treasurer Michael Peters of Oklahoma, and Past Chairman Doug Goyings of Ohio. USW officers were elected to those one-year positions during the board of directors’ meeting last January. The USW is the export market development organization representing U.S. wheat farmers. “We are all very disappointed that we couldn’t hold our meeting in Ohio as originally planned,” says Chairman Padget. “We had wanted to publicly thank Chairman Goyings, his family, and the team from the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Board for their dedicated leadership over this past year.” Padget added that Goyings did a wonderful job as chair and that he “hopes to meet his example with his help.” The new USW Chair is a fourth-generation farmer from Oregon, with dryland wheat and a summer fallow rotation currently producing registered and certified seed on 3,400 acres every year. He previously held positions on the Oregon Wheat Growers League board of directors and the executive committee for seven years. ********************************************************************************************** Lamb Board Launches a “Glamburger” Contest The American Lamb Board launched its newest online promotion contest earlier this month, looking to keep up the momentum of getting more consumers to try lamb. They call it the “Glamburger.” The board says it’s a burger that features ground lamb that is “glamorous, fancy, extravagant, and whatever else makes it special for your meal with your friends and family.” This year, the Glamburger contest is expanding to include both at-home and restaurant components. The challenge is encouraging consumers to try out a delicious lamb burger during the summer months. The American Lamb Board is promoting burger recipes, sharing videos of how to craft a delicious lamb burger, and offering a free spice blend for consumers who want to spice up their Glamburger creation at home. South Dakota producer Gwen Kitzan, the ALB Chair, says, “Since kicking off the promotion, we’ve seen many entries and great engagement, with people commenting on their favorite lamb burgers from their local restaurants and their own home-cooked ideas.” The board also launched Project Glamburger, which connects restaurants in target markets with local producers who’ve accepted the challenge to craft a burger that could be featured on their menus. Target markets so far include Denver, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Bipartisan Conservation Legislation Passes Amid tough legislative struggles over virus relief, trade and numerous other issues, the House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed bipartisan conservation legislation, Bloomberg is reporting this week. The report says that many in Congress and the administration hope the new programs will boost the ailing economy through several shovel-ready outdoor and infrastructure projects. The Great American Outdoors Act would provide full, mandatory funding at $900 million a year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — making that program “no longer subject to the annual appropriations process.” LWCF pays for federal land acquisition as well as parks, wildlife refuges, ball fields and other projects in local communities across the country. In addition, it would create a new five-year trust fund of up to $9.5 billion from unallocated onshore and offshore energy revenues to address a $20 billion deferred maintenance backlog in America's national parks and public lands. The “deferred maintenance backlog” portion would be split among five land agencies with 70% going to the National Park Service, Bloomberg said. “Combined, these two major programs amount to one of the biggest wins in conservation in decades,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said. President Donald Trump said he will sign the bill, which the Senate passed in June. Previous Trump administration budget proposals recommended gutting LWCF, but two of the program's Republican advocates in the Senate — Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Steve Daines of Montana, face tough re-election campaigns this year, Bloomberg noted, The fund was permanently reauthorized in 2019, but only has received full funding twice since it was created in 1965. Democratic and Republican lawmakers value the program because it supports projects in every congressional district and public lands and outdoor recreation have grown in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. Many outside groups, from sportsmen to small businesses to environmental organizations, strongly support the bill. Reps. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, the lead sponsors of the House bill, said that the legislation would create approximately 100,000 jobs at a time when the country desperately needs them. The bill “takes the next step in our pro-conservation agenda,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who singled out Cunningham, a freshman and former ocean engineer, for praise. Cunningham also faces a tough re-election campaign. Rep. Nanette Barragan, D-Calif., noted that LWCF is critical to providing access to green spaces and nature in urban areas traditionally cut off from the benefits of outdoor recreation—a point that League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski reiterated. “This victory is a testament to the power of grassroots activists and the enduring popularity of conservation,” Karpinski said in a statement. “But as a recent report from the Center for American Progress and Hispanic Access Foundation shows, there is more work to be done to ensure every community — especially low income and communities of color — has access to public lands, local parks and other outdoor opportunities.” In addition, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, objected to making LWCF funding mandatory, especially at a time when oil and gas revenues are falling sharply because of the pandemic, according to the Congressional Research Service. LWCF relies on offshore energy revenue. That revenue also funds the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, including the revenue-sharing arrangement between the federal government and the Gulf Coast states that produce most of that energy. After dwindling offshore revenues are divvied up among programs that are mandatory, which would include LWCF under the legislation, there's not likely to be much if any left over for deferred maintenance, Bishop said. Bishop, the top Republican on Natural Resources, is the lead sponsor of the “Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act,” the deferred maintenance backlog bill in the House that was combined with the LWCF funding measure. While he opposes mandatory funding for LWCF, he supported the permanent authorization of the program that Congress approved in the 2019 public lands package. Not all outside groups were happy with the legislation, Bloomberg emphasizes. “Our national parks are indeed a treasure, but they shouldn't be used as trade bait by Democrats and Republicans who seek to take even more land out of private ownership,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, said. The federal government manages about 640 million acres of land, most of it in Western states. “As this bipartisan legislation moves forward, it's important for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to remember that, even during these challenging times, our nation's conservation efforts are made possible by American oil and natural gas,” said Lem Smith, vice president of upstream policy at the American Petroleum Institute. Members from Gulf Coast states like Louisiana—which produces the lion's share of offshore energy revenues — also criticized the legislation's mandatory funding component. They argued that it will siphon away funds that their states receive, which they use for coastal restoration. So, we will see. The new bill appears strongly supported and likely to be signed into law — an unusual bipartisan effort that indicates that the possibility of greater cooperation still exists, at least in a few areas, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


China's Buys Of US Ag Products Continue To Stack Up For the week ended July 16, USDA's Weekly Export Sales reported more sales of US ag commodities to China. They included for 2019/20, net sales of 7,079 metric tons of corn, 78,645 metric tons of sorghum, 209,872 metric tons of soybeans, but net reductions of 4,401 running bales of upland cotton. For 2020, net sales of 479 metric tons of pork and 7,159 metric tons of beef were reported. For 2020/21, net sales of 127,090 metric tons of wheat, 1.960 million metric tons of corn (mostly known via daily sales announcements last week), 175,000 mt of sorghum, 1.486 mmt of soybeans, and 2,640 running bales of upland cotton. Much of the corn and soybean business for China for the 2020/21 marketing year were known after USDA made daily sales announcements for China last week, including the largest daily sale of corn to China which was the fourth largest daily sale ever made to any destination.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


USDA Issues Report On Cattle Market, But Signals Investigation Continues USDA issued its report on the cattle and beef market fluctuations in the wake of the fire at the cattle processing plant in Holcomb, Kansas, in August 2019 and the disruptions from the COVID-19 situation. The report lays out what contributed to the record spread between boxed beef and cash cattle prices, but stated the recap “does not examine potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The investigation into potential violations is ongoing, and therefore, AMS has limited ability to publicly report the full scope and status of the investigation.” The report also stated the exam does “not preclude the possibility that individual entities or groups of entities violated the Packers and Stockyards Act during the aftermath of the Tyson Holcomb fire and the COVID-19 pandemic.” There is also the mention in the report that USDA has “engaged in discussions with the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding allegations of anticompetitive practices in the meat packing industry. The investigation into potential violations under the Packers and Stockyards Act is continuing.” The report does list several options USDA believes would help the price discovery process in the cattle market, including reducing the level of non-reporting under Livestock Mandatory Reporting, better access to risk management training/education for small and medium-sized cattle producers, and changes to the Packers and Stockyards Act. But USDA did not explicitly back any specific efforts. It is clear that this report will not be the final word relative to the cattle market disruptions that have emerged.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts continue to be the first interest for grain traders. A report on June's new U.S. home sales is out at 9 a.m. CDT. USDA releases its July 1 estimate of cattle on-feed and semi-annual cattle inventory report, both at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Friday will bring stressful heat to the Northern Plains and western Midwest. Some strong and possibly severe thunderstorms may form on the edge of the heat wave in the Northern Plain. Storms are also possible along the Gulf Coast due to influence from tropical storm Hanna.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


Senate Seeks $20 Billion for Commodity Credit Corporation Senate negotiations continue on the next coronavirus relief package. While those close to the talks suggest there will not be a bill ready until sometime next month, there is promise for additional relief to agriculture. Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, told Agri-Pulse this week the package will likely include an additional $20 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation funding. That $20 billion would be in addition to the $14 billion already authorized in a previous relief package not yet used by the Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, in a video addressing the National Association of Farm Broadcasting this week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue hinted at further aid through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Perdue says USDA is considering adding more commodities to the program and is evaluating what farmers need from future relief. Farm groups continue to plead for additional aid for farmers, including the National Pork Producers Council, which estimates hog farmers face a $5 billion loss from pandemic market implications. ************************************************************************************ USDA Provides Cattle Market Investigation Update The Department of Agriculture Wednesday released a report on its ongoing boxed beef and fed cattle price spread investigation. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the closure of the Tyson beef packing plant following a fire at the facility in Holcomb, Kansas, and the COVID-19 pandemic, “clearly disrupted the markets and processing systems responsible for the production and sale of U.S. beef.” The report also discusses several policy considerations in light of the desire by many market participants for improved price discovery, reinvigorated competition, and a more transparent relationship between the prices for live cattle and the resulting products. The report does not examine potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act. However, USDA staff have maintained a cooperative relationship with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division staff and have discussed allegations of anticompetitive practices in the meatpacking industry. Should USDA find a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act, it is authorized to report the violation to DOJ for prosecution. ************************************************************************************ Agriculture Responds to Cattle Market Investigation Update The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association welcomed the investigation update by the Department of Agriculture into cattle markets. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs, Ethan Lane, says, “this issue has remained a central topic of conversation for NCBA.” The report comes days before NCBA will hold its annual summer meeting. Lane says the association still awaits the results of the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into the matter as well. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley applauded the report, saying, “The cattle market industry is broken.” Grassley says, “Congress has a responsibility to heed the advice of this report and take action to restore cattle price transparency.” The North American Meat Institute, however, notes the report identifies no wrong-doing, and affirms that two extreme and unforeseen events affected beef markets. NAMI President and CEO Julie Anna Potts stated, “It is difficult to see how the USDA’s recommended legislative proposals would have changed the outcome of the fire or the pandemic.” ************************************************************************************ Ernst Bill Provides Tax Break for Essential Workers Legislation introduced the week by Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa would provide tax relief to essential, front line workers. Under Ernst’s FRNT LINE Act, federal income taxes would be suspended for essential workers up to an annual income cap set at the highest level of pay for an enlisted person in the U.S. Armed Forces. Additionally, the bill would provide suspension of federal payroll taxes for essential workers who earn up to $50,000 annually. Under this proposal, tax suspensions will begin on April 1, 2020, and will end on the date the federal emergency declaration is lifted. Senator Ernst says, “These front line workers—our nurses, truck drivers, and grocery store workers, child care providers, and so many others—have kept life going and our supply chains intact.” Several industry groups representing the food supply chain penned a letter in support of the legislation. The Department of Homeland Security considers essential workers as healthcare providers, law enforcement, food and agriculture workers, public works, transportation and communication workers, among others. ************************************************************************************ Farm Progress Launches Virtual Show Two major farm shows are off the calendar for 2020, and to fill the gap, Farm Progress is launching the first-ever Farm Progress Virtual Experience, or FPVX. The event will be powered by Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days and run three days, September 15 to 17. The information available in the free event allows farmers to engage with a range of content. And, searching the exhibitors will be easy because they'll be sorted into the familiar categories farmers have come to know through more than 65 years of taking part in Farm Progress events. The event will kick off with what Farm Progress says may be the most extensive field demonstration the organization has ever created. Matt Jungmann (yung-man) of Farm Progress adds, “We're not asking farmers to just sit by their computers.” All the content will work on smartphones and tablets so that farmers can access the content while mobile. More information will be available as the show date nears. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bureau Foundation Makes Ag Education More Accessible New resources and $17,000 in grants from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture provide educators and parents with tools for all types of classrooms. Parents and teachers can use the online resources for in-person, virtual, or at-home learning. Also, announced Wednesday, the foundation is awarding 17,000 to educators and communities through the White-Reinhardt Fund for Education program this fall. Ten classroom and community ag literacy projects across the country will receive $1,000 each to build on their efforts. New this year, the foundation is also awarding resource grants to provide funds for educators to purchase ag literacy resources from the Ag Foundation store. Seventy educators from across the country will each receive a $100 gift card for use at the Ag Foundation’s online store. Foundation Executive Director Daniel Meloy says, “The Ag Foundation is committed to reaching students where they are to help them continue to learn where their food comes from, in the most engaging ways possible.” Find the resources at agfoundation.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New School Nutrition Fight There are political fights over almost everything these days as the Congress and the administration work to iron out another round of subsidies to offset impacts of the coronavirus -- amid the more or less normal budget battles. In one such fight, POLITICO is reporting that “millions of kids could lose access to free meals” if recent practices are ended -- and that efforts are underway to counter that proposed USDA shift. During the spring and summer, as the coronavirus health crisis exploded, the government allowed most families to pick up free meals from whichever school was closest or most convenient without proving they were low-income. But that effort is on the verge of expiring as children prepare to return to school – and many school systems are pushing the federal government to continue the free meals into the future. So far, USDA isn't on board with an extension, POLITICO says, but school leaders are asking Congress “to force the government's hand as it buckles down to work on the next coronavirus aid package.” “It's impossible. It's insane,” said Katie Wilson, executive director of the Urban School Food Alliance, which represents the largest school districts in the country, including those in New York, Chicago and Dallas. “Our districts have been screaming about it. They're panicked.” If USDA doesn't extend the program's flexibility through the fall, families may be able to get food for their children only from the school where they are enrolled, after being deemed eligible for help -- a change that could create logistical barriers for many families, particularly those without cars or with parents working multiple jobs. USDA says it is working with lawmakers as they develop the next coronavirus relief package. “This is [uncharted] territory, but we remain committed to ensure all children have food to eat throughout this pandemic,” the spokesperson said. The department has already extended several waivers that make it easier to feed kids this school year, including loosening rules on nutrition and restrictions on who can pick up the meals -- but have “drawn a line” at requests to continue waiving eligibility rules. Federal school nutrition programs often have been political targets, with disparate interests disagreeing about everything from fruit and vegetable servings to how much salt can be in pizza. But free meals have found broad backing, at least during the recent pandemic. “This is still an emergency and we need to treat it that way,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokesperson for the School Nutrition Association, a group representing more than 50,000 local leaders who run school meal programs across the country. The group has activated its vast network of local school officials to send nearly 20,000 emails to lawmakers asking them to pressure USDA to approve the remaining waivers for the rest of the school year. A spending bill on the House side includes language urging USDA to act. There's also a letter circulating in the Senate pressing the issue. Most school cafeteria programs already face much higher food, labor, transportation and packaging costs, as they have been essentially operating emergency meals programs for months. Nutrition providers had to come up with creative ways to still feed their students with schools shut down. Most districts are now operating some form of meal pickups, and some are even dropping meals off at students' homes on a regular basis. It's unclear how many students who have been getting help under the waived eligibility rules might get cut off if traditional rules go back into effect. “We're going to be going from a situation where we were just providing meals to all kids, no questions asked … to having to track by student name and status, so that you can charge families if they don't qualify by submitting a free and reduced meal application,” said Rosie Krueger, Vermont's director of child nutrition programs. In 2018, the National School Lunch Program, which serves a mix of free, subsidized and paid meals to nearly 30 million children, cost just under $14 billion. An estimated 51 million children are projected to enroll in public elementary and high schools this fall. Some high-poverty school districts already serve universal free meals under what's called the Community Eligibility Provision, something that's available to schools if a certain percentage of their students already qualify for help. About 30 percent of schoolchildren were in schools with universal free meals in the 2019 school year. Jessica Shelly, director of student dining services for Cincinnati Public Schools, said she wants to see USDA aggressively press for free meals this year. She recalled meeting USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue at a school nutrition conference years ago. “I remember him saying to all of us, to do right and feed everyone,” she said. “I am just really hoping that USDA recognizes that the motto needs to be embraced not just by us … but also by them. If they want us to do right and feed everyone, then they need to help us do that.” So, we will see. These nutrition programs are important to many participants, and will be badly missed if they are not continued – but, they are expensive and highly visible to opponents. Efforts to continue them likely will be highly controversial and should be watched closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


House Ag Panel Hearing Reveals Democrats' Concerns On USDA Food Box Program A House Ag subcommittee hearing Tuesday brought out what was expected – Democrats have concerns about how USDA rolled the aid program out. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations, blasted USDA's operation of the Farmers to Families Food Box program. “Because USDA has rushed this program out the door, there is very little quality control with regard to who gets these contracts and who is qualified to actually meet the need,” Fudge said. “Tens of millions of dollars have gone to inexperienced contractors that still haven't delivered anywhere near what they've promised. As one food bank executive explained, if USDA had gone through established and capable channels, this problem could have been avoided. This is a humanitarian effort, not a gravy train.” Fudge related that her panel heard from food bank experts on the ground that “USDA's lack of planning and strategy on the program has led to inexplicable decisions and policies with regard to how funds are distributed, the regions into which the country is divided in terms of food distribution, and other problems. Despite these issues, USDA has refused, to date, to provide any insight or background on how these decisions are being made, and what quality control, if any, exists to correct them if they're wrong.” USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach noted that in April “in just a few short weeks, USDA stood up [the program] as a new and innovative multi-billion-dollar COVID response program to address three critical needs simultaneously: to provide markets for farmers faced with declining demand and the crisis of food rotting in fields and animals being euthanized; the food needs of newly unemployed Americans; and helping put suppliers and distributors back to work.” Ibach acknowledged the program does not have the same standards as regular USDA food distribution programs, but said that was because it was supposed to be put in operation so quickly.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


China Buys of US Ag Goods To Rise 'Rapidly' This Fall: USTR Nominee China's purchases of U.S. ag products is expected to pick up steam this fall, according to Michael Nemelka, nominee to be a deputy U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). “We have the Phase One agreement, which also just entered into force a few months ago,” Nemelka told the Senate Finance Committee in his nomination hearing. “In that remarkable agreement, USTR achieved many long-held goals, including a commitment from China to fully respect intellectual property rights, end forced technology transfer, and increase purchases of U.S. goods and products, among many other things.” A key is making sure that China meets its commitments, he noted in prepared remarks, “and we have an agreement that is in writing, and is fully enforceable, to make sure they do.” On making sure that China will live up to its purchase commitments, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Nemelka to address how USTR is working to make sure that China meets those commitments. Officials at USTR are working “every day to make sure that China lives up to its commitments,” Nemelka said. “We have our ambassador Gregg Doud on the phone nearly every day” with his counterparts in China. In the fall, he added, the expectation is that “with these seasonal products and soybeans in particular that are currently in the ground, we expect to see those purchases rapidly increase.” Nemelka's view matches that of USTR Robert Lighthizer and other U.S. trade officials who have indicated their China purchases will increase and that China remains committed to meeting the terms of the deal.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday morning starts with weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor at 7:30 a.m. CDT. A report on U.S. leading indicators is out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Of course, the latest weather forecasts will also be closely watched. Weather Thursday features rain showers with light to locally moderate totals in the eastern Midwest and southeastern Plains. We'll also see scattered activity in the western Midwest and northern Plains. Conditions will be very warm as a heat wave begins for the end of the week.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


USDA finds no wrongdoing in cattle market report Investigation released into Holcomb plant fire and COVID-19 impact on beef price spreads. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its long-awaited report on the impact of the 2019 fire at Tyson Foods’ Holcomb, Kan., beef plant and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on beef price margins. The report failed to identify wrongdoing by market participants but did offer suggestions on how to improve transparency in the market and create additional opportunities for small and local processors. In the weeks and months after both events, the difference – or spread – between the Choice boxed beef cutout values and dressed fed cattle prices rose to records levels. “Findings thus far do not preclude the possibility that individual entities or groups of entities violated the Packers & Stockyards Act during the aftermath of the Tyson Holcomb fire and the COVID-19 pandemic. The investigation into potential violations under the Packers & Stockyards Act is continuing,” the report stated. However, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) pointed out that the report found no wrongdoing. “In its analysis of the effects of the fire and the pandemic, USDA found no wrongdoing and confirms the disruption in the beef markets was due to devastating and unprecedented events,” NAMI president and chief executive officer Julie Anna Potts said. As it relates to the COVID-19 impact, the report said boxed beef cutout values increased and fed cattle prices were volatile in March as packers operated near full capacity. From the middle of March to early April, the spread between boxed beef values and fed cattle prices increased from $34/cwt. to $66/cwt. The spread had averaged just under $21/cwt. for 2016-18. During April and May, there were significant beef supply disruptions as large numbers of plant workers contracted COVID-19. Plant closures and slowdowns negatively affected beef production and packer demand for fed cattle. This reduced demand for cattle may have contributed to lower fed cattle prices. An additional surge in consumer retail demand occurred in April, when consumers appeared to react to the possibility of beef shortages in grocery stores. “The supply disruptions and additional surge in demand may have contributed to a sharp increase in beef values,” the report said. “At the same time, packers purchased fewer cattle as plant closures and slowdowns increased.” From early April until the second week of May, the spread grew from $66/cwt. to over $279/cwt. -- a 323% increase. Regarding the Holcomb plant, USDA noted that the timing of the fire in early August coincided with the seasonal increase in boxed beef demand leading up to the Labor Day weekend. Typically, many retailers make pricing and promotional decisions several weeks in advance of the Labor Day holiday. Futures prices for fed cattle decreased significantly in the days immediately after the fire. Fed cattle markets then followed with price decreases. Shortly after the fire, packers increased their processing volume primarily through the addition of Saturday slaughter shifts. There was a marked drop in the number and percentage of negotiated cash sales of fed cattle immediately after the fire. The plant closure appeared to affect the spread between boxed beef values and fed cattle prices, USDA noted in the report. The spread between the two peaked at a then-record high of $67.17/cwt. the week ending Aug. 24, while the average for the same week during 2016-18 was $27.66/cwt. -- a difference of $39.51, or 143%. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R., S.D.) said in a media call just an hour after the report was released that he is disappointed that the report did not offer a final statement on any potential market conduct violations. “After a year of looking, I expected USDA to say there was misconduct or was not. If there wasn’t misconduct, it adds more fuel to the notion that the marketplace is broken in other ways,” Johnson said. USDA suggestions Both the Holcomb fire and COVID-19 impact directed increased attention to the ongoing concentration in the beef marketplace, which is nearly 80%. USDA’s report noted that at the core of several discussions is the desire by many market participants for improved price discovery, reinvigorated competition and a more transparent relationship between the prices for live cattle and the resulting products. USDA offered several suggestions for improving the market, including adding capacity at smaller processors, allowing these smaller processors to sell across state lines and finding ways to add more capacity for smaller processors. “Smaller producers often find themselves to be price takers in the market for fed cattle and lack the volume of larger producers to negotiate unique and advantageous marketing agreements with large meat packers,” USDA noted. In efforts to address this imbalance, there has been discussion of creating a beef contract library similar to the swine contract library USDA currently maintains pursuant to Section 222 of the Packers & Stockyards Act. Amending the Packers & Stockyards Act to develop a similar library for beef transactions could help increase price discovery in cattle markets and enhance access to market information for all market participants, regardless of size, the report stated. The report noted that the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has also explored a 14-day slaughter scheduled delivery submission requirement through Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR), a precedent currently in place for daily LMR swine reporting. A change in the LMR cattle submission form would be required to allow for the capture of the slaughter schedule. Under this scenario, beef packers could report daily the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 calendar days. “In light of steadily decreasing percentages of negotiated sales and continued market volatility, USDA is also aware of a variety of proposals by external stakeholders that would require packers to meet a minimum threshold of purchases via negotiated cash trade. Likewise, USDA is aware of the variety of concerns with these proposals and potential unintended consequences throughout the industry, especially if regional considerations are not adequately considered,” the report said. USDA noted that such regional disparities might be addressed, in part, by tying the minimum purchase thresholds to regional reporting abilities. Under this approach, if an LMR region began to fail to meet confidentiality guidelines due to packers not procuring cattle on a negotiated cash basis, with the proper legislative authority, AMS could track and inform packers of the requirement to make an additional percentage of such purchases in the following week to allow for reporting. The LMR expires Sept. 30, and Johnson didn’t rule out the possibility that some of the legislative proposals supported by USDA in the report could be included, but it would take a “ton of work on our part to make that happen.” He did say he hopes that it adds momentum to many of the legislative proposals on the table to increase market transparency and price discovery. However, Potts stated, “It is difficult to see how the USDA’s recommended legislative proposals would have changed the outcome of the fire or the pandemic.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. (NCBA), which initially requested the investigation, said the information in the report will be very helpful and timely to the cattle industry’s robust discussion of cattle markets and price discovery during its Summer Business Meeting next week in Denver, Colo. USDA does not solely own investigatory authority over anticompetitive practices in the meat packing industry and has been engaged in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding allegations of anticompetitive practices in the meat packing industry, the report noted. Should USDA find a violation of the Packers & Stockyards Act, it is authorized to report the violation to DOJ for prosecution. NCBA vice president, government affairs, Ethan Lane said NCBA is also collectively still awaiting the results of the DOJ investigation.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


Report: 27 Countries Headed for COVID-19 Food Crisis A new analysis identifies 27 countries that are on the frontline of impending COVID-19-driven food crises, as the pandemic's effects aggravate pre-existing drivers of hunger. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program report that no world region is immune. The joint analysis by FAO and WFP warns these "hotspot countries" are at high risk of, and in some cases are already seeing, significant food security deteriorations in the coming months, including rising numbers of people pushed into hunger. These countries were already grappling with high levels of food insecurity and hunger even before COVID-19, due to pre-existing shocks and stressors such as economic crises, instability and insecurity, climate extremes, and plant pests and animal diseases. The report says the pandemic may contribute to political instability as well as fueling conflict. In a bid to counter these trends, FAO released a revised appeal for $428.5 million under the UN system's Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. The funds address the mounting needs in the food and agriculture sector. ************************************************************************************ BASF, Corteva, Seek Rehearing of Dicamba Decision BASF and Corteva both filed motions to request a rehearing on a court decision that vacated registrations for dicamba herbicides. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last month vacated the registrations for three dicamba herbicides, including BASF’s Enginia, Corteva’s FeXapan and Bayer’s Xtend. Specifically, BASF’s petition requests a review of the decision by a panel of 11 judges from the Ninth Circuit instead of the three-judge panel that issued the previous decision. This request for "en banc" review, according to BASF, “is necessary to correct errors by the panel in issuing a decision inconsistent with basic due process and administrative law principles.” BASF says the panel's decision undermined the EPA's authority to make science- and data-based regulatory decisions to determine which herbicide products are safe and effective to meet the challenges farmers face. Further, the company says the decision “was unprecedented and devastating to tens of thousands of farmers” who rely on dicamba. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Funding to Support Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced approximately $15 million to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers own and operate successful farms. Funding is made through USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program. The program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. For 30 years, the 2501 Program has helped reach socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who have experienced barriers to service due to racial or ethnic prejudice. The 2014 farm bill expanded the program to veteran farmers and ranchers. The 2018 farm bill increased mandatory funding for the program through fiscal year 2023. With 2501 program grants, nonprofits, institutions of higher education and Indian Tribes can support socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers through education, training, farming demonstrations, and conferences on farming and agri-business, and by increasing access to USDA’s programs and services. ************************************************************************************ Telehealth Expansion Legislation Introduced in U.S. Senate New legislation introduced this week would expand access to telehealth options for rural residents. The KEEP Telehealth Options Act would require the federal government to study the actions taken to expand access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic and report on how to improve those services. The bill was introduced by Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, and Senator Jacky Rosen, A Nevada Democrat. Fischer says expanded telehealth services “have allowed millions of Americans to access the medical care they need during this pandemic, especially those in rural communities.” The legislation would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to study and produce a public report on the actions taken to expand access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the legislation would require the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress on the efficiencies, management, successes and failures of the expansion of telehealth services. The studies could then be used by Congress to support and inform long-term flexibilities for telehealth. ************************************************************************************ Iowa Ag Department Extends Animal Disposal Assistance The Iowa Department of Agriculture has extended a program to help pork and poultry producers forced to euthanize animals. The Iowa Disposal Assistance Program provides funds for producers forced to euthanize and dispose of market-ready and weaned pigs or layer hens because of supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. This is the fourth round of funding in the program. Iowa is the largest producer of pork and egg products in the United States. Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig says, “The disposal assistance program is just one way the state is trying to help producers through this very difficult time." Iowa's pork producers have made difficult decisions over the past several months as COVID-19-related worker shortages caused meat processing facilities to reduce production. Meanwhile, Iowa's egg producers have also faced distribution and disposal challenges because of COVID-19-related closures. Iowa is home to over 58 million egg-laying hens. Nearly 70 percent of Iowa's layer flocks produce for the liquid egg market and are destined for restaurants, schools and other foodservice markets. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Business Network Acquires Australia’s Farmsave Farmers Business Network has acquired Farmsave, an online agricultural inputs platform that provides real-time input pricing transparency and services to thousands of independent Australian farmers. Much like FBN, Farmsave gives farmers across Australia access to competitive prices on key farm chemicals from a range of suppliers and arranges delivery of goods directly to local depots and farms. Currently serving over 5,000 Australian farms, Farmsave boosts farmers' bargaining power and drives down input costs. FBN expects to announce a range of new offerings to Farmsave's existing members and all Australian farmers in the months ahead. A recent spate of consolidation among global chemical manufacturers and national retailers has resulted in dwindling choice for farmers across Australia. FBN says that with limited independent information sources for chemical prices or trends, farmers have been unable to purchase inputs with confidence. Farmer's Business Network is an independent farmer-to-farmer network, built by and for over 11,500 farmers in North America. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Push From Ag for Financial Support Roll Call is reporting this week that the National Pork Producers Council plans to campaign for a change in federal law that would authorize USDA to pay livestock and poultry farmers for healthy animals they euthanized because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trade association said Monday that it wants the provisions included in the Senate version of the next economic recovery bill with a goal of getting the language into a compromise version worked out between the Senate and the House by early August. The council's request for aid is just one item on a wish list from agriculture for direct payments to farmers and ranchers to cover lost renewable fuel revenue as well as the “collapse in the demand for cotton, aid to meat processing plants to ensure production lines keep moving, and other items.” Advocates for renewable fuels, pork and cotton relief put the COVID-19 damage at about $17.8 billion, a sum that includes at least some estimates of continuing cost in 2021, Roll Call said. Farm and agriculture-related groups say the pandemic, coming after several years of flat or low prices and two years of retaliatory tariffs from trading partners, has left them battered. Congress provided $9.5 billion in appropriated funds and $14 billion in borrowing authority for the Commodity Credit Corporation in March legislation. The USDA has set aside $16 billion for direct payments to farmers and ranchers and is spending $3 billion on a program for food distributors to buy meat, produce and dairy products. The hog group said it backs legislation by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to give the department's Commodity Credit Corp. emergency authority to reimburse farmers whose cattle, hogs or poultry suddenly become surplus “due to significant supply chain interruption during an emergency period.” That bill also would cover donations of meat to noncommercial interests, and ag processing plants could receive aid to ensure that meat and poultry lines keep moving during a national emergency. In addition, it would authorize $300 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to address the COVID-19 issues. The Renewable Fuels Association released a July report that the industry lost $3.4 billion in revenue from March through June because of COVID-19 economic disruptions that reduced driving and demand for transportation fuels. The association projected that losses could reach $7 billion in 2020 and $1.8 billion in 2021. Ethanol's losses also reflect a blow to corn farmers who sell approximately 40% of U.S. crops for fuel production. The association study said the industry used 500 million fewer bushels of corn during the March through June period. Cotton farmers, textile mills and the cotton merchandising sector also are looking for relief aid in the next economic recovery legislation, Roll Call said. Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Mark Warner, D-Va., wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. Their request was joined by senators from cotton-growing states last week asking that the “cotton supply chain” receive financial help. Tillis and Warner said COVID-19 kept people at home and depressed demand for cotton up and down the supply line. “Given the precipitous decline in retail demand, the loss of textile production and lower cotton prices that are expected to persist into 2021, the economic damage to the U.S. cotton industry is currently estimated to be at least $4.0 billion,” the letter said. “We need help now to weather this unprecedented crisis,” National Pork Producers Council President Howard Roth said. The Council earlier estimated that hog farmers euthanized an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 market-ready animals in the spring and another million young pigs may have been killed on farms because several slaughter plants closed temporarily as workers became ill with COVID-19 or tested positive for the virus. The closures meant farmers were limited in their ability to market animals for slaughter. Steve Meyer, an economist with Kerns & Associates, who joined the council's officers and staff on a press call, said conditions have improved with the reopening of plants--but that the pace of processing remains slower because the facilities have spaced workers to meet social distancing requirements. Meyer said about 2 million hogs are still waiting on farms to be moved to processing plants. Demand for pork is strong at the retail level, he said, and the food service market appears to be regaining ground as states reopened restaurants for sit-down service. However, Meyer said multistate surges in COVID-19 cases threaten to undo the progress. So, we will see. Certainly, U.S. ag producers are widely believed to be on the front lines in the global trade fights – and they represent an important component of political support that may be increasingly up for grabs in the fall elections. However, the ag requests are large and face competition from many groups that also have important needs – as well as opposition from budget hawks. As a result, the ag requests likely will be quite controversial this year and certainly should be watched closely by producers as they are debated, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


Rural Electric Cooperatives Seeking Provision in COVID Aid Plan Rural electric cooperatives want Congress to include a provision in the COVID-19 aid plan that would end a prepayment penalty on their Rural Utility Service loans. National Rural Electric Cooperatives CEO Jim Matheson said in a call to reporters that members are urging Congress to include a bill that would allow co-ops that have borrowed money from the Treasury Department to get a reduced interest rate without paying a prepayment penalty. Matheson said the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act has been introduced in the House by Reps. Tom O'Halleran, D-Ariz., and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., and in the Senate by Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Cooperatives have experienced a loss of income due to businesses closing or operating at a lower level during the pandemic and the lower interest rates would make it easier for them to continue to provide service and also rebuild infrastructure.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


CFAP Payments Clear $6.2 Billion USDA has paid out $6.23 billion under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) on 442,639 approved applications as of July 20. Livestock producers remain the largest recipients, with $3.15 billion in payments. That is broken down as $2.73 billion to cattle producers, $394.3 million to hog producers and $28.8 million to sheep producers. Dairy producers have received $1.25 billion. Non-specialty crop producers have received $1.64 billion, with $1.1 billion to corn producers, $314 million to soybean producers, $155 million to upland cotton growers, $19 million to HRS wheat producers, and $13.3 million to sorghum growers. Payments totaling $186 million have gone out to specialty crop producers. Growers in seven states have received $300 million or more, including Iowa at $652.1 million, Nebraska at $460.1 million, Minnesota at $399.7 million, Wisconsin at $374.1 million, and Texas at $331.7 million, California at $325.1 million, and South Dakota at $316.7 million.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets As typical through summer, the latest weather forecasts will get the first look from grain traders, along with any trade news. A report on June U.S. existing home sales is due out at 9 a.m. CDT. With ethanol production slowly returning t