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| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 15, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 14, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday January 8, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday January 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday January 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday January 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday January 4, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 1, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 30, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Dealing With China Bloomberg is reporting this week that the U.S. will soon have a new climate czar, John Kerry, the former senator, secretary of state and presidential candidate. In explaining the role's placement within the National Security Council, President-elect Joe Biden said he wanted to put “climate change on the agenda in the situation room,” the report said. The report also notes that “critically, this structure signals that the new White House is searching for common ground with China.” Kerry is widely credited with putting together a US-China agreement in 2014 to reduce carbon emissions, a breakthrough that paved the way for the Paris Agreement the following year. That deal was a template for the kind of collaboration that many argue is now essential. Without cooperative action, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned at last week's Bloomberg New Economy Forum, “The world will slide into a catastrophe comparable to World War I.” Kerry is clearly expected to reprise his role as the Beijing bridge-builder, Bloomberg says. “While some have decided that we are entering a new Cold War with China, we can still cooperate on critical mutual interests,” Kerry told the New York Times last month calling for joint action to protect the Southern Ocean. Geopolitics, he insisted, “must stop at the water's edge.” Some critics, however, contend that Kerry, under President Barack Obama, gave up too much in return for Chinese acquiescence on climate — for instance, by soft-pedaling human rights—and they fear a Biden presidency may make the same mistake. “Sending Kerry to negotiate with Chinese President Xi Jinping on climate is a recipe for returning home dressed in a barrel,” said the Wall Street Journal editorial page recently -- typically not a fan of the Obama administration. But U.S. public attitudes on China have hardened since the Obama days and few now expect a Biden White House will go any easier on China over contentious issues like Uyghur detention camps or the militarization of the South China Sea. Indeed, Biden's expected choice to head the Pentagon, Michele Flournoy is “very much the hawk” Bloomberg says. So, it is increasingly clear that strategic rivalry is now hard-wired into the U.S.-China relationship, and there's a growing acknowledgment by figures in both Washington and Beijing that—while it can be mitigated—it's unlikely to be resolved readily by any effort to get along. Certainly, Chinese leaders are digging in for protracted hostilities, so much so that President Xi Jinping is reorienting the entire economy toward “self-reliance,” fearing continued U.S. tariffs, technology embargoes and financial sanctions. In congratulating Biden on his win, President Xi Jinping alluded to these gathering tensions, but also the need to manage them. The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying he “hopes that the two sides will uphold the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, focus on cooperation, manage differences [and] advance the healthy and stable development of China-US ties.” Pandemic control is an obvious area of collaboration, Bloomberg says, along with mass migration and financial stability. On climate, says Fu Ying, a former Chinese ambassador and vice foreign minister, “the world expects China and the U.S. to play a leading role and the two countries have a lot to work on together.” While Kerry won't save the U.S.-China relationship, at least not all by himself, but one could argue that a joint effort to save the planet would increase the odds that the two countries will avert disaster, Bloomberg concludes. So, nobody thinks Kerry's task will be easy. While trade tensions and China's retaliatory tariffs slashed US agricultural exports to China in 2018 and 2019, China's agricultural purchases from the rest of the world continued apace and it has become the world's largest agricultural importer, USDA said last fall. It is surpassed both the European Union and the United States in 2019 with imports totaling $133.1 billion. What's more, the composition of China's imports is also rapidly changing. Whereas bulk commodities once dominated, higher-valued consumer-oriented products are now surging ahead, eclipsing the former for the first time in 2019. And, while implementation of the U.S.-China Economic and Trade (Phase One) Agreement and the economic response to Covid-19 currently overshadows the trade landscape, the biggest challenges facing U.S. agricultural exports in China may be a combination of competition from other suppliers and US agriculture's ability to meet China's increasingly diverse import needs, USDA said. It sees a combination of rising income and living standards, increasing urbanization, and food safety concerns fueling China's future agricultural imports, already a strong trend since the country's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. As incomes rose, the average Chinese diet changed to include more meat, dairy, and processed foods, while grain consumption declined. Between 2000 and 2019, per capita consumption of poultry meat increased 32%, soybean oil consumption more than quadrupled, and fluid milk intake more than tripled, USDA said. So, Kerry's job will be challenging. U.S. producers can be expected to compete strongly for China's growing markets and China will clearly need access to U.S. production to satisfy its growing consumer demand. Whether this “two way street” of trade flows can overcome the enormous bitterness arising from all the other competitive areas -- and the long history of clumsy postures on both sides remain

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 30, 2020 |


Surging Chinese Imports of US Corn Set To Continue: Bloomberg China's appetite for US corn is expected to continue to strengthen in the year ahead, with imports trending towards the high end of current expectations, Bloomberg reported. Bloomberg cited sources familiar with purchasing plans of state-owned Cofco Corp., saying the firm is likely to boost purchases of US corn beyond already robust levels. The news comes about a week after Chinese corn imports exceeded the country's annual tariff rate quota (TRQ) — currently 7.2 million metric tons — for the first time. “The fact that China has exceeded its feed grain import quota already tells you there's a great need there,” Rabobank analyst Stephen Nicholson told the outlet. “And it doesn't seem to be slowing down.” China's continued rebound from COVID-19 and the rebuilding of its swine herd following a devastating African swine fever (ASF) outbreak are both helping to drive corn imports higher, Bloomberg noted. Meanwhile, China has turned to the US to satisfy that demand as other suppliers—including those in South America—see more supply disruptions.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 30, 2020 |


Australia to Bring WTO Case Against China Over Barley Duties One day after China imposed preliminary antidumping duties on Australian wine, Australian trade officials said they intend to launch a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute targeting earlier duties China levied on imports of barley. The events mark the latest salvos in an intensifying trade and diplomatic row between the two countries. Asked about prospects for bringing a WTO dispute against China over the 80.5% barley duties, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told reporters Sunday (November 29) “I expect that will be the outcome.” Australia is currently “working through exactly when and making sure we have the evidence lined up,” Birmingham said of a WTO complaint. “Last week, through the trading goods committee at the WTO, Australia outlined seriously our range of concerns in terms of this accumulation of instances from China of adverse trade decisions against Australia,” he detailed. The wine duties, however, are not expected to be part of any initial WTO dispute, Birmingham noted.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 30, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets The final day of November shows a report on U.S. pending home sales for October at 9 a.m. CST, followed by USDA's weekly grain export inspections at 10 a.m. CFTC's Commitments of Traders report is released Monday afternoon and USDA's final Crop Progress report of 2020 is due out at 3 p.m. Weather Monday features rain and snow in the eastern Midwest, disrupting the late stages of harvest and causing some safety hazards. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere, with more drying of soils in winter wheat areas. Freeze warnings are in effect in the Gulf Coast due to abnormally cold air.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 27, 2020 |


Ag Credit Conditions Recover in Third Quarter Farm income and loan repayment rates recovered from sharp declines in the second quarter, and demand for credit softened according to Federal Reserve Ag Credit Surveys. Although farm income generally remained low, loan repayment rates stabilized, and farmland real estate markets remained strong. Farm loan demand moderated in all Federal Reserve districts for the first time since 2013 in the third quarter. Funding at agricultural banks was likely supported by higher deposits and an influx of liquidity from Federal Reserve and government programs following the COVID-19 outbreak. The Fed says an influx of government payments and higher prices for agricultural commodities provided greater support for farm finances in the third quarter and seemed to limit demand for financing. Despite some improvements in the agricultural economy, farm income and repayment rates remained low, albeit not as low as in the second quarter. Increased uncertainty related to the pandemic may also have curbed some demand for new loans and could continue to weigh on agricultural lending conditions moving forward. ************************************************************************************ Peterson Raises Concerns Regarding Transition Outgoing House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson has concerns regarding President-elect Joe Biden’s transition as it relates to agriculture. In a letter to the General Services Administration, the Minnesota Democrat says, “I write to express my concerns about the impacts to farmers, ranchers and consumers from the lack of a timely Presidential transition process.” While the delayed transition is now underway, the impacts of the delay persist. Specific issues mentioned by Peterson include the Department of Agriculture's ongoing work with meat and poultry plants amid the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the risk of African swine fever entering the United States. Other issues include outbreaks of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza across Europe and Asia, and a shortage of CO2 production, impacting meatpacking plants. Peterson states, "Dedicated civil service staff in the USDA Office of Homeland Security and throughout the Department are monitoring these and other crucial situations, but it will take high-level leadership and the ability to muster funding to address them." ************************************************************************************ Organic Groups Send Recommendations to Transition Team The Organic Trade Association and the National Organic Coalition recently sent industry recommendations to President-elect Joe Biden's transition team. In a letter to the transition team, the groups say, "here are several overarching issues that need to be addressed early in your Administration to put organic agriculture back on safe footing after the challenges of the past four years.” Those issues include implementation of the Obama-Biden Organic Animal Welfare Rule. The groups also call for the finalization of Organic Origin of Livestock Regulations, and finalization of the Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule. Other priorities for the organic industry include restoring the Organic Certification Cost Share Program to the full Reimbursement Rates Mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill, and embracing organic agriculture as a key climate change solution. Additionally, the groups say, “We encourage your Administration to engage the U.S. food and agriculture sector in a dialogue about how we can best use the lessons learned from the pandemic to build our food system back, better than it was before.” ************************************************************************************ EPA Seeking Comments on Updated Plant Biostimulants Guidance The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting comments on an updated Draft Guidance for Plant Regulators and Claims, Including Plant Biostimulants. Plant biostimulants are a relatively new but growing category of products, according to the EPA. Their increasing popularity arises from their ability to enhance agricultural productivity through stimulation of natural plant processes using substances and microbes already present in the environment. Plant biostimulants can also reduce the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, making it an attractive option for sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management programs. An EPA spokesperson says, “When finalized, our Plant Biostimulants Guidance will provide sought-after certainty and transparency for this growing area of the economy.” While many plant biostimulants are not regulated as pesticides, certain mixtures and plant regulators can be pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The public comment period will be open for 30 days at www.regulations.gov. EPA anticipates finalizing the guidance in January 2021. ************************************************************************************ Deere Sales Down 9%, Net Income Down 15% Deere & Company reported net income of $757 million for the fourth quarter that ended November 1, 2020, or $2.39 per share, compared with net income of $722 million for the quarter ending November 3, 2019. For fiscal 2020, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $2.751 billion, or $8.69 per share, compared with $3.253 billion, or $10.15 per share, last year. Chairman and CEO John May says the company "delivered another quarter of strong performance and a solid year despite the challenges associated with managing the pandemic." Net income attributable to Deere & Company for fiscal 2021 is forecast to be in a range of $3.6 billion to $4.0 billion. In the year ahead, Deere expects to benefit from improving conditions in the farm economy and stabilization in construction and forestry markets. According to May, "higher crop prices and improved fundamentals are leading to renewed optimism in the agricultural sector and improving demand for farm equipment." ************************************************************************************ Roberts, Stabenow Announce Hearing on Research and Securing America’s Food Supply Leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee recently announced a hearing titled “Agricultural Research and Securing the United States Food Supply.” Announced by Committee Chair Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, and Top Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, at 2:30 ET. The hearing will feature Amy France, a producer and member of National Sorghum Producers, and Don Glickman, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute. Additional speakers include Stephen Higgs, Director of the Biosecurity Research Institute, and Dr. Steven Rosenzweig, Senior Agricultural Scientist, Agricultural Research, General Mills. The hearing will be one of, if not the last hearing, under current leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Senator Roberts of Kansas will retire at the end of the current Congressional session. While Stabenow seems likely to remain on the committee, the next chairman won’t be known until after a special election runoff in January, which will dictate which party will control the chamber. ************************************************************************************ Cattle Producers Congratulate Newhouse On Being Elected Western Caucus Chair The National Cattlemen's Beef Association applauds Representative Dan Newhouse being unanimously elected as Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus. Newhouse, a Washington state Republican, will serve as chairman in the upcoming 117th Congress. In a statement, NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs, Ethan Lane, says, "Congressman Newhouse is a strong advocate for cattle producers and has been instrumental in getting critical legislation across the finish line." Following the announcement, Newhouse called the caucus "the premier organization advocating for rural policy issues throughout the West and beyond.” The Western Caucus serves as a common voice for members of Congress representing western, rural and resource-based communities and fighting for the priorities of the American people in the process. Initially, the Caucus was born in the West, out of concerns of federal interference with rural, agricultural, timber, water, energy and hunting e. Over time, the Caucus has grown beyond the geographic West, allying with Members of Congress throughout the country to join. ************************************************************************************ EPA Encourages Americans to Avoid Food Waste Over the Holidays Fresh off the Thanksgiving holiday and fridges stuffed with leftovers, the Environmental Protection Agency wants consumers to consider the environment when it comes to food waste. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says more than 70 billion pounds of food waste reach U.S. landfills every year, contributing to methane emissions and wasting food supply chain resources. Wheeler says, "We must all do our part to help people and the environment by preparing only what we need, cutting down our food waste, and sharing or donating what we can to feed others." EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills than any other material in everyday trash, constituting 24 percent of municipal solid waste. Reducing food waste and redirecting excess food to people, animals, or energy production provide immediate benefits to public health and the environment. Those benefits include reducing methane emissions from landfills, saving money through thoughtful planning, shopping and storage, and supporting your community by donating untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 27, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Continuing WTO Leadership Fight The World Trade Organization has been without a boss — the Director General — since September, when Roberto Azevedo stepped down one year before the end of his mandate. Since then, the 164 members that make up the organization have been discussing who his replacement should be. There were 8 candidates in the running but only two remain: South Korea's Yoo Myung‐hee and Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo‐Iweala. WTO members appoint the Director‐General by consensus, CATO reminds and consensus has been growing around the candidacy of Okonjo‐Iweala, a former finance minister and World Bank managing director. But in recent discussions in Geneva, the United States signaled that it would not support her candidacy. The U.S. already has made the WTO's appeals court non‐functional by blocking the appointment of any new judges, making it impossible to hear appeals. By threatening to veto the appointment of a new DG the U.S. only amplifies the message that trade policy watchers have long known — the U.S. is basically interested in the WTO, CATO said. It notes that it is not surprising that there is “some drama” over the nomination of a Director‐General, given the fact that it is a position that serves a number of important roles, including the management of the day to day operations in Geneva, and serving as an honest broker between the WTO's 164 members. The value of the Director‐General is in setting the tone for the organization, and perhaps in a more limited way, influencing the direction of the organization as well. So, while the WTO Director‐General does not play a role in policymaking, she can serve a critical role in facilitating discussions and getting negotiations across the finish line, CATO says. Bloomberg reports this week that sources close to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer say he “views Okonjo‐Iweala as being too close to pro‐trade internationalists in Washington like Robert Zoellick, a former USTR who worked with Okonjo‐Iweala when he was president of the World Bank,” even though she also holds U.S. citizenship. Lighthizer's disdain for the WTO is well documented, as are his protectionist views, “which have not only failed to live up to his promise of manufacturing revival but have been disproportionately shouldered by US consumers,” CATO says. Nominating someone to the Director-General's post that not only understands the benefits of trade and the costs of protectionism “works against the policies Lighthizer has pushed for as USTR,” CATO says. Furthermore, for the U.S. to support a candidate who is highly unlikely to ever garner support from China also raises suspicion that the threat of a veto is simply exercised to enhance tension in the organization. However, Bloomberg is reporting this week that the fight is still active to the point that wagering “in a locked-down Geneva this month” is often focused on whether South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee will withdraw from the race to lead the World Trade Organization. But Bloomberg reports that despite what's been written in various news reports, “Yoo has not withdrawn from the race but hasn't responded to questions about whether she'll stay in the running.” To some members, Yoo's candidacy became toxic the moment the US unilaterally blocked Okonjo-Iweala a month ago. It's still a bit of a head-scratcher why Washington vetoed a highly respected economist with verifiable reform credentials to lead the WTO. She's also an American citizen. The office of U.S. Trade Representative offered scant details about why it opposes Okonjo-Iweala, other than to say Yoo has the “skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organization.” So, Bloomberg takes a flyer—in the absence of a clear reason, it offers some “possible strategies that USTR Robert Lighthizer may be pursuing.” The first may be that the U.S. “believes that Yoo is the better candidate because she has real, hands-on experience in the field” and Okonjo-Iweala doesn't, Bloomberg says. Or, the U.S. may want to advance a third candidate to lead the global trade organization; or, it may want to extract some other concession unrelated to the WTO's leadership race; or, it may simply want to force WTO members to vote on the matter, an unprecedented exercise seen as damaging to a consensus-oriented institution. Bloomberg also argues that the U.S. sees a leadership void and chaos at the WTO as beneficial to America's interests. While any of these options are possible, the Cato Institute's Simon Lester told Bloomberg that the multi-dimensional outcome concerning “possible concessions” seems to be the most plausible explanation. “The administration has been using economic leverage to extract concessions from trading partners at every opportunity, and it would not be surprising if it were to use the director-general selection process for this purpose as well,” Lester said. President-elect Joe Biden, who has supported multilateral organizations in the past is expected by some to move to end the impasse in the WTO leadership race — but not until after his inauguration on Jan. 20. So, for now, Geneva remains in a wait-and-see posture with low expectations that the WTO's drift into dysfunction will be resolved anytime soon. This is yet another issue that producers should watch closely as the new US trade policy continues to be discussed, and to evolve Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 27, 2020 |


US Slaps Duties On Phosphate Fertilizer From Morocco And Russia A preliminary determination imposing countervailing duties on imports of phosphate fertilizer from Russia and Morocco was announced by the Commerce Department. The decision was scheduled to be released November 23 but came one day late. The department set preliminary duties of 23.46% on imports from Morocco's OCP Group and other producers in the country, 20.94% on those from Russia's Phosagro, 72.50% on EuroChem and 32.92% on all other Russian producers. The decision follows an investigation launched in July on petitions filed by US-based fertilizer company Mosaic Co. The US imported about $729 million worth of phosphate fertilizer from Morocco and about $299 million from Russia in 2019, according to Commerce. A final Commerce Department decision is expected February 8, followed by the International Trade Commission's (ITC) final decision on March 25, with the issuance of an order on April 1.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 27, 2020 |


USDA Ups FY 2021 Ag Export Forecast, Notes Strong Demand from China U.S. agricultural exports are now expected to reach a value of $152.0 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, up from $140.5 billion in August, while the value of imports is now seen at $137 billion, up from $136 billion, with higher soybean and corn export values and strong demand seen driving the forecast bump. The outlook sees FY 2021 with an agricultural trade surplus of $15 billion. For FY 2020, USDA recorded exports of $135.9 billion, up slightly from the $135 billion forecast in August, while the value of imports is seen at $133.2 billion, up from the $131.7 billion previously forecast. Those totals put the FY 2020 agricultural trade surplus at just $2.7 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 27, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets The day after Thanksgiving starts with USDA's weekly export sales report at 7:30 a.m. CST and there's always a chance for a daily export sale announcement at 8 a.m. Traders remain glued to the latest weather forecasts, especially for South America. CFTC's Commitments of Traders report will be released Monday afternoon due to this week's holiday. Weather Friday brings shower and thunderstorm activity to the lower Delta and Gulf Coast. Late stage cotton harvest will be disrupted with this rain. Dry conditions are in store elsewhere. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal north and central and seasonal to below normal south.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


USA Pork Producers Launch “Give-A-Ham” Food Program The National Pork Producers Council launched the “Give-a-Ham” challenge. It’s a nationwide social media campaign encouraging hog farmers and those involved in the industry to donate pork to organizations that serve people living with food insecurity and then will challenge others to follow suit. The “Give-a-Ham” challenge will run through the end of this year. “With so many Americans struggling with COVID-related financial challenges, this year’s challenge takes on a special meaning,” says NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth (Rowth), a Wisconsin hog farmer. “Giving back to our communities is a core value of hog farmers nationwide; it’s so gratifying to come together as an industry this time of year to serve those in need.” Throughout COVID-19, U.S. hog farmers and their numerous state associations that represent them have donated a collective 15.7 million pounds of pork to local food banks through October 31. That total equals 222.8 million servings of pork. “I’m proud to be part of an industry that has already made significant contributions this year to help those less fortunate and look forward to participating in the ‘Give-a-Ham’ challenge, paying it forward with pork,” Roth adds. Participants are encouraged to share their stories on social media using the #GiveaHam hashtag. ********************************************************************************************** Biofuel Groups Ask Court to Hold EPA Accountable on Improper 2016 Waiver A coalition of the nation’s largest biofuels and agricultural trade groups filed a motion in the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. The motion asks the court to enforce its 2017 decision that required the Environmental Protection Agency to address its improper waiver of 500 million gallons of biofuel demand in the 2016 Renewable Volume Obligation. The coalition includes groups like Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, the National Biodiesel Board, and many others. A statement from the coalition after the filing says, “It’s simply unconscionable that EPA would so brazenly ignore a federal court’s order. Our coalition represents millions of American farm families that shouldn’t have to go to court to hold EPA accountable to the law.” The coalition points out that it’s well past time that the EPA restore the 500-million gallons and focus on restoring integrity to the Renewable Fuels Standard. In the motion, the coalition asks the court to require the EPA to issue a 500-million gallon “curative obligation” on obligated parties to make up for the lost gallons, and to require the EPA to do so no more than six months after the court’s order. The groups also want the court to declare it won’t extend those deadlines. ************************************************************************************ USDA Forecast for Exports Rises $11.5 billion The USDA says U.S. agricultural exports in the Fiscal Year 2021 are projected at $152 billion. That’s up 11.5 billion from the August forecast and is driven higher by rising soybean and corn export values. The agency’s projection for soybean exports is up by 5.9 billion dollars to a record 26.3 billion due to higher unit values, strong demand from China, and record volumes. Corn exports are forecast up 4.2 billion dollars to 13.2 billion as a result of reduced competition, higher unit values, and record volumes. The agency says cotton exports are forecast up 300 million dollars to 5.3 billion based on higher values. Wheat exports are projected at 6.2 billion dollars, up by 200 million dollars on higher unit values and slightly larger volumes. The overall major agricultural bulk commodity exports are forecast to increase 24 percent from the previous projection. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are forecast unchanged at 32.3 billion dollars as lower exports of pork, hides, and skins offset increases in beef and poultry. China is once again projected to become the largest U.S. agricultural market, a spot it last held in 2017. Ag imports are forecast at 137 billion dollars, up one billion from August. ********************************************************************************************** Unions Endorse Fudge for Agriculture Secretary Three unions announced they are endorsing Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio for Agriculture Secretary. The unions are the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. In a letter to president-elect Joe Biden, the three unions say Fudge has been an advocate for all workers, including meat processing workers, and she has fought attempts to increase the line speeds in meat plants. As a member of the House Ag Committee, the unions say Fudge has “played a role in the recent farm bill reauthorization and for workers on issues important to farmers, ranchers, and the whole agriculture ecosystem.” The unions say Representative Fudge has consistently shown “her willingness to lend her voice to those who need theirs amplified, who listens to all sides, and who knows how to make informed and balanced decisions.” They also applaud her experience as a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, which has jurisdiction over school meals and other child nutrition programs. ********************************************************************************************** How to Handle Thanksgiving Food Safely As Americans enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal, USDA says taking the necessary steps toward safe food handling and sanitation will help protect you and your loved ones. The USDA is offering food safety advice to help reduce foodborne illness, including on Thanksgiving Day. “Our data shows that consumers can reduce their likelihood of foodborne illness by focusing on good hand hygiene and other food safety practices,” says Dr. Mindy Brashears, USDA’s Undersecretary for Food Safety. “As home chefs around the country prepare their Thanksgiving meals, proper handwashing, and avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen are critical to keeping your loved ones safe.” The first step is likely the most obvious, which is washing your hands. Wash them before, during, and after preparing food, especially if it’s raw meat or poultry. Thawing turkeys should never be done on the counter or in hot water, and they must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. The best method for thawing is in the refrigerator. Also, make sure to cook your stuffing outside the turkey to avoid cross-contamination risk. Chat with a live food safety expert at ask.udsda.gov for more tips. ********************************************************************************************** FFA Members Are Giving Back to Their Communities This Fall FFA members across the country are working together to make sure their communities have the food they need during the holiday season. It’s a part of the National Days of Service program through the National FFA Organization. Traditionally, members who attend the National FFA Convention and Expo participate in the National Days of Service, which gives back to the community hosting the event. Because the event was virtual this year, the National Days of Service program challenged members across the country to give back where they live. It’s a part of a bigger initiative by the organization to have nationwide community engagement programs for the National Days of Service. Chapters are being encouraged to explore four specific areas, including community safety, hunger, health and nutrition, environmental responsibility, and community engagement. “We know that service is an important part of the FFA experience for our members,” says Michele Sullivan, senior manager of local engagement for the National FFA Organization. “With the convention going virtual, FFA was excited to launch the first-ever National Days of Service set to take place across the country.” She says the National FFA Organization plans to continue the virtual National Days of Service beside the in-person event for years to come.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Visibility for Climate Change as Formal Transition Begins Well, there is a beehive of political activity this week as the Trump administration begins its formal cooperation with the Biden transition. Much of the press has reported that the main picks for the next administration are fairly well-known experts. However, one of the choices has stirred more than a little excitement. That is the “special envoy for climate” to be headed by John Kerry. This pick is being seen as elevating the issue to the highest levels in the White House, Bloomberg says. The report says that having a so-called climate czar could help coordinate a whole-of-government approach to confronting global warming, which Biden has referred to as an “existential threat.” Kerry helped broker the landmark Paris climate accord while serving in the Obama administration and has been viewed as a natural fit for the position and as a seasoned politician who enjoys goodwill on Capitol Hill. He said earlier this year that in addition to rejoining the climate agreement the next step is “to lift ambition significantly, on a global basis.” President Donald Trump had quit the accord. Kerry will be a member of Biden's National Security Council, the first time it's included a spot dedicated to climate change, the transition team said. Progressives and others have been lobbying the White House to create a special office dedicated to climate change which they say could be created through executive fiat and akin to a National Security Council on climate. However, some of them said naming Kerry isn't sufficient. “Having held cautious optimism that President-elect Joe Biden could be persuaded to take a bold, determined approach to tacking the climate crisis from day one, we are suddenly alarmed by his choice of John Kerry for climate czar,” Food & Water Action Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement. “Kerry has been a long-time apologist for fossil fuel fracking and a reliable promoter of false climate solutions like market-based carbon-trading schemes.” Sarah Hunt, who backs conservative energy and climate solutions as CEO of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy, said the announcement signals that Biden will prioritize climate change and energy issues as critical to national security. “Hopefully Kerry will fully integrate energy security—maintaining an affordable, reliable energy supply for the protection of our economy and defense—into the Biden approach to climate security,” Hunt said. In addition to the usual fights over positions in the new administration, National Public Radio uncovered an “even newer” effort. It noted that just over a decade ago, the American Farm Bureau Federation had declared war on legislation to slow down global warming and had had argued that a "cap-and-trade" proposal making its way through Congress would make fuel and fertilizer more expensive and put farmers out of business. Farmers swarmed Capitol Hill wearing caps with the words "Don't Cap Our Future." And it worked. The legislation died, derailing the boldest plan Congress had crafted to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Now the Farm Bureau might be changing course. This week, it announced that formation of a coalition that plans to push the government to adopt dozens of policy changes that would make it easier for farmers to reduce emissions from ag operations. "We're going to have a real common sense, science-based discussion about how we protect the climate, and our farmers want to be part of that," said Zippy Duvall, president of the Farm Bureau. The new Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance brings together groups that have often butted heads on environmental policy. "It feels like the conversation has just really shifted in the past 18 months," says Pipa Elias, director of agriculture for The Nature Conservancy. One reason is that many big food companies have promised to help reduce their greenhouse emissions and they're pushing for changes on the farm—and sometimes paying for such changes. At the press conference launching the new alliance, Barb Glenn, chief executive of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, said that "everyone in this unique coalition understands and is witnessing the changing of the climate, and we all want to be involved in impacting it." The alliance didn't quantify impacts of potential policies on greenhouse emissions. Currently, agriculture is responsible for about 10% of the country's emissions of heat-trapping gases. Some estimates are that a reduction in greenhouse emissions from agriculture combined with an increase in forests could get the country 10% to 20% of the way toward net zero emissions in 2050, NPR says. It also notes that climate proposals remain controversial but says it sees signs that the incoming administration is interested in a number of similar approaches. For example, Robert Bonnie, who leads the Biden transition team for the US Department of Agriculture recently called on the USDA to set up a so-called Carbon Bank that would pay farmers to fight climate change. So, we will see. The move to more broadly support climate efforts by producers with food companies in a potentially popular program would seem to have significant potential for success and should be watched closely by producers as it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Payments Top $10.6 Billion Payments under USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) now stand at $10.62 billion as of November 22 with 668,067 applications approved so far. Acreage-based payments comprise the largest share of disbursements at $5.23 billion, followed by livestock ($2.86 billion), sales commodities ($1.47 billion), dairy ($1.02 billion) and eggs/broilers ($30.9 million). Payments for corn ($2.89 billion), cattle ($2.32 billion), sales commodities ($1.4 billion), soybeans ($1.1 billion) and milk ($1 billion), are at $1 billion or more, followed by wheat ($580.6 million), hogs/pigs ($474.3 million) and upland cotton ($241.1 million). At the state level, Iowa has seen the largest payment total at $994.1 million, with Nebraska at $723.4 million, Minnesota at $691.5 million, Illinois at $672.1 million, California at $669.3 million, Kansas at $553.3 million, Texas at $515.8 million, South Dakota at $482.5 million, Wisconsin at $456.2 million and North Dakota rounding out the top 10 at $393.9 million. Signup for the program continues through December 11. Payments under CFAP 1 stand at $10.46 billion as USDA looks to close out that effort.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


Trump Looks To Allies For Help Targeting China Senior Trump administration officials told the Wall Street Journal this week they are looking to bring new trade pressure to bear on China as President Donald Trump prepares to leave office. One of the ideas under consideration is creating what the WSJ called “an informal alliance of Western nations,” to take joint action against China when it engages in unfair trade practices. The plan was developed after China erected new trade barriers for Australian exports after Australia's Prime Minister called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 earlier this year, WSJ reported. Under the plan described by administration officials, when China creates trade barriers like those deployed against Australia, other allied nations would purchase the affected goods or provide compensation to the affected partner. Another option would see the group of nations jointly impose tariffs on China in retaliation, WSJ said. The officials said even if the plan to create the new alliance is successful, it would depend on the incoming Biden administration to implement it.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The day before Thanksgiving has a big lineup of economic reports, starting with weekly U.S. jobless claims, durable goods orders and an update of third-quarter U.S. GDP at 7:30 a.m. CST. At 9 a.m., we'll see reports on October new home sales, U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending. The U.S. Energy Department releases weekly energy inventories at 9:30 a.m., followed by natural gas inventory at 10 a.m. CST. Weather Rain will cover the central and eastern Midwest through the Delta Wednesday. Moisture will benefit winter wheat but will disrupt the final stages of row crop and cotton harvest. Periods of snow and rain are in store in the Northwest, with other crop areas dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 24, 2020 |


Taipei Protestors Decry Easing Of US Pork Import Restrictions Thousands of gathered in Taiwan's capital Taipei on Sunday (November 22) to protest the government's decision to ease restrictions on US pork imports, the Central News Agency (CAN) reported. About 20,000 people joined the annual Autumn Struggle labor demonstration in Taipei, the report cited the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party as saying. A slew of labor-rights groups organized the protest, with support from KMT and the Taiwan People's Party, to put a focus on the US pork import issue. KMT chairman Johnny Chiang invited President Tsai Ing-wen to a debate about the imports, CNA reported. KMT is seeking a referendum aimed at overturning the government's decision to allow imports of US pork produced using the growth promoter ractopamine.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 24, 2020 |


Groups Urge Congress to Address Expiring Tax Extenders The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and over 60 other business, energy and ag groups are urging Congress to extend a slew of tax provisions known as “tax extenders.” The provisions include tax credits aimed at biofuel producers, like the biofuel production tax credit, and others for craft breweries and wineries, AFBF noted. “Allowing these tax extenders to lapse at the end of 2020 would undermine their effectiveness, threaten thousands of jobs in the US economy and cause needless uncertainty for taxpayers at a time when many are coping with severe economic hardship,” the groups said in a letter to congressional leaders.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 24, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets With concerns about dry weather in South America, trader attention will be on the latest forecasts and any export sales news that might emerge. News about the latest coronavirus vaccines and when they might be available are also becoming of interest to investors generally. There is one report on U.S. consumer confidence due out at 9 a.m. CST. Weather Rain and snow will cross the central and southern Plains along with the northern and western Midwest Tuesday. Some soil moisture benefit is offered. Other crop areas will be dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


Farmers Earn 12 Cents of Thanksgiving Food Dollar For every dollar Americans spend on Thanksgiving dinner this year, farmers and ranchers will earn about 11.9 cents. The National Farmers Union says that marks a slight drop from 2019 when farmers claimed 12.5 cents of the Thanksgiving food dollar. Though farmers’ smaller share of food expenditures could be blamed on dropping commodity prices in previous years, it’s not the case in 2020. After bottoming out during the pandemic, prices for many ag products have mostly recovered. NFU says the shift can be attributed to higher grocery bills. In the last 12 months, the food prices have risen almost four percent, far ahead of the 1.4 percent rate of overall inflation. The higher food prices are coming at a bad time for American families, who are experiencing higher unemployment rates and food insecurity from COVID-19. Even though consumers are paying four percent more for their food, almost none of the increasing dollars are being passed on to farmers and ranchers. Instead, the NFU says it’s being captured by the processors, packers, distributors, and retailers in between the farm and the table. For example, beef prices are 10 percent higher than last year, but ranchers are getting essentially the same amount for their animals that they did a year ago. ********************************************************************************************** Court Upholds Hog Verdict While Smithfield Settles Other Cases A federal appeals court upheld a 2018 jury verdict that led to monetary damages for the neighbors of a North Carolina hog operation because of smells and noise. The plaintiffs said that made their living close to the hog operation unbearable. However, judges ruled that the jurors’ multimillion-dollar punitive damage awards were unfairly weighed against its corporate assets and must get reconsidered. The decision from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia came just hours before Smithfield Foods announced it put an end to this and other nuisance cases filed by other North Carolina residents. Those cases either were already on appeal by the company or hadn’t yet gone to trial. “We resolved these cases through a settlement that will take into account the divided decision of the court,” says Keira Lombardo, Chief Administrative Officer at Smithfield Foods. The company wouldn’t share the financial terms of the settlements. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs and those in other cases neither confirmed nor mentioned a settlement in the case as of late Thursday. The Houston Chronicle says a statement from the lawyers involved in the appeal praised the court’s decision to affirm the verdict. ************************************************************************************ Ethanol Recovery Threatened by Rising COVID-19 Restrictions U.S. ethanol production has been a big source of demand for domestic corn. However, COVID-19 sharply curbed global fuel consumption. In recent weeks, Reuters says output has chipped away at its deficit versus prior years. However, the resurgence of COVID and increasing restrictions, especially just before the holiday season, threaten to halt a comeback in fuel demand before it can ramp up. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says fuel ethanol output for the week ending on November 13 totaled 962,000 barrels a day, down 1.5 percent from the previous week, which had the highest production level since the week ending on March 20. The last three weeks have been the most productive for American ethanol makers since March. The EIA says seasonal trends are part of the reason why the output is rising. However, when compared with previous years’ production levels, it shows that output is rising out of its COVID slump, though the pace is still slow. The four-week output rose to 960,000 barrels per day through last Friday, down just over eight percent compared to the same period in the previous three years. USDA says corn use for ethanol will be 5.05 billion bushels, up four percent on the year, but down 7.7 percent from the three-year average. ********************************************************************************************** U.K. and Canada Close to a New Trade Agreement The United Kingdom and Canada are close to signing a new trade agreement. Bloomberg says a new trade agreement would replace the existing deal that Britain already has through its European Union membership, which comes to an end on December 31. The agreement would be a boost for officials’ efforts to plot a new course for Britain as a standalone trading nation outside of the EU bloc. People familiar with the matter anonymously told Bloomberg that they expect an announcement within days. If they don’t reach an agreement, the U.K. and Canada would be looking at tariffs on trade starting January 1. That’s when the transition period wraps up, and the U.K. won’t be a part of the CETA agreement that came into effect in 2017. Total trade between the United Kingdom and Canada is estimated to be worth approximately 17 billion pounds, or $23 billion, in 2019. “Trade talks are advancing and making good progress,” says Britain’s Department for International Trade in a written statement. “The U.K. is committed to seeking to secure a continuity trade deal with Canada before the end of the transition period.” The U.K. is Canada’s third-largest export market after the U.S. and China. ********************************************************************************************** World Ag Expo Goes Online with a Unique Approach For the first time in its history, the World Ag Expo is going online on February 9-11. Officials at the International Agri-Center announced the cancellation of the live event back on September 14. The World Ag Expo will work with a company called Map Your Show, an industry leader in event and conference management software. The company’s team has run more than 120 digital trade shows since March. While most digital trade shows limit their online shows to their specific dates, the World Ag Expo is taking more of a year-long approach. “Instead of just a one-week show, we’ll be supporting our exhibitors and the online site throughout 2021,” says Jennifer Fawkes, International Agri-Center Marketing Manager. “Each exhibitor has a micro-site within the show to share information and hold live chats, along with many other options.” As the event organizers, she says World Ag Expo will have online seminars, the Top 10 New Products Contest, and other new content will get released throughout the year. Seminars will be presented online by exhibitors like California State University-Fresno, Irrigation Association, the Center for International Trade Development, and many more. The schedule will be finalized and available in January. ********************************************************************************************** Coalition Releases Farmers’ Guide to the CSP As farmers begin to sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program across the country, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition released its updated “Farmers’ Guide to the CSP.” As interest grows in farming practices that protect natural resources and reduce the impact of climate change, it’s a good time for producers to explore the CSP. The coalition says this guide is a great resource for farmers who want to learn more about the program, as well as those who are thinking about enrolling in the CSP. The Ag Coalition has been a strong advocate for the program since it first began years ago. The CSP is designed to reward farmers who apply a conservation ethic across their entire operation. It offers five-year payments to producers who take on highly beneficial conservation practices on their farms that build soil health, improve water quality, and benefit wildlife. Some of those practices include cover crops, conservation buffers, rotational grazing, and many others. The guide also helps producers walk through the application and implementation processes for CSP. The guide is a free download at www.sustainableagriculture.net/publications.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Internal Financial Policy Fight The New York Times is reporting that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had announced last week the discontinuation of several Fed programs, including those that support the markets for corporate bonds and municipal debt and one that extends loans to midsize businesses. The emergency efforts expire at the end of 2020 but investors had expected some or all of them to be kept operational as the virus continues to pose economic risks. Numerous pandemic-era programs are run by the Fed but use Treasury money to insure against losses. They have provided an important backstop that has calmed critical markets and removing them could leave significant corners of the financial world vulnerable to the type of volatility that cascaded through the system as virus fears mounted in the spring. By asking the Fed to return unused funds, Mnuchin could prevent President-elect Joe Biden's incoming Treasury secretary from quickly restarting the efforts at scale in 2021. “The Federal Reserve would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy,” the Fed said in a statement. The emergency programs were backed by $454 billion that Congress appropriated in March as part of a broader pandemic response package. Because of the way the Fed's emergency lending powers work, Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, needs the Treasury secretary's signoff to make major changes to the programs' terms. Extending the end date counts as one of the changes that need approval. The decision to close these programs and remove the funding appeared to come as a surprise to the Fed, which received a letter announcing the Treasury's intent to claw the money back on Thursday afternoon. Earlier this month, Powell had said the central bank and Treasury were just beginning to discuss whether to extend the programs. Mnuchin did agree to extend other emergency loan programs that are not backed by the congressional appropriation, including ones that service the short-term market for corporate debt, one for money market funds, and one that backstops government small-business loans. The Fed avoids taking credit losses when extending loans and throughout the pandemic crisis it has asked for Treasury backup for its riskier programs. If it returns any unused money that the Treasury has already dedicated to support the programs, as Mr. Mnuchin requested, the Biden administration will have less financial backup to restart the programs, the Times said. That's because the congressional appropriation—$195 billion of which has been earmarked to specific Fed programs—cannot be used to make new loans after the end of the year. But while the law prohibits the treasury from putting money into the Fed's facilities after 2020, it does not obviously prevent the Fed from using already-earmarked treasury funding to insure its own loans and bond purchases. “The loans, loan guarantees and investing that the treasury does is the applicable language,” said Peter Conti-Brown, a lawyer and Fed historian at the University of Pennsylvania. He said that while it may be possible to read the law as preventing new Fed loans, that is not the “obvious reading.” Still, Mnuchin's move could leave the government with fewer options to help the economy just as the new administration takes office, the Times says. “Treasury is right that a limited set of objectives have been achieved in terms of stabilizing bond markets,” Jason Furman, a prominent Democratic economist, said. “But what is the downside to continuing them as insurance against worse developments?” Many of the Fed's programs, including one that buys state and local debt and another that encourages banks to lend to small- and midsize businesses, have been lightly used. But that is because they were designed as backstops—meaning that borrowers would likely only use them when times are bad. With coronavirus cases on the rise, the economy may sour again, making the programs more necessary. As recently as last week, Powell warned of the potential for economic scarring and said that the economic recovery had “a long way to go.” But Treasury officials have expressed optimism that the economy is poised for a steady rebound and that the likely rollout of a vaccine by the end of the year further improves the economic picture. Senator Patrick Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, who had been pushing Mr. Mnuchin to end the programs, applauded the decision. “Congress's intent was clear: These facilities were to be temporary, to provide liquidity, and to cease operations by the end of 2020.” However, treasury's move prompted concern from Democrats. Bharat Ramamurti, a Democrat who sits on the congressional oversight body in charge of reviewing the various Fed and treasury programs, suggested that, legally, the Fed was under no obligation to give back the funds. And, Secretary Mnuchin said Congress wanted key economic supports to end by Dec. 31, a view he expressed only after the vote count in the presidential election. So, we will see. It would be less than surprising if a departing administration were to leave the odd negative trap surprise for the incoming crew—but the less of that sort of thing that takes place, the better. Clearly, the public is likely to have little tolerance for such measures given the continuing fight with both the virus and the economic pullback Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


Infrastructure Investments May Be On The Table In 2021 Lawmakers are looking at infrastructure one potential area ripe for bipartisan compromise under the Biden administration, the Wall Street Journal reports, as Democrats and Republicans face the possibility of another two years of divided government. Efforts to craft a multiyear infrastructure bill repeatedly fell apart during the Trump administration, and disagreements on the scope of the legislation and how to pay for it will persist under the new president. Congress faces the expiration of the existing spending plan known as the highway bill next Sept. 30, and a new measure could become a vehicle Joe Biden's proposed $2 trillion plan for transportation and other infrastructure. Lawmakers see the desire for economic stimulus as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic as a potential catalyst for a major infrastructure bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


WTO Trade Barometer Sees Trade Rebound World merchandise trade has rebounded strongly following major declines at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the outlook going forward is unclear as cases again rise in Europe and North America, according to the latest update of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Good Trade Barometer. The barometer provides real-time information on the trajectory of world merchandise trade relative to recent trends. The index's current reading of 100.7 is just above the baseline of 100, which indicates trade growth in line with the medium-term trend. It marks a major rebound form the record low 84.5 reading seen in August. “All of the barometer's component indices were rising in the latest months, with some climbing above their medium-run trends while others remained depressed,” WTO detailed. Export orders and agricultural raw materials sub-indices “finished firmly above trend.” Meanwhile, container shipping and automotive product indices recovered to near trend, and air freight and electronic components indices remained below trend, WTO said. Despite the recent rebound, WTO warned “trade related uncertainty remains high.” That uncertainty is linked to the second wave of infections, which “is already under way in Europe and North America, leading to renewed lockdowns that could trigger another round of business closures and financial distress,” it said.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Monday before Thanksgiving starts what is usually a quiet week of trading that can also be prone to surprises. Traders will check out the latest weather forecasts, especially for South America where the new crop season is getting underway. USDA releases its weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. CST, followed by monthly cold storage at 2 p.m. and crop progress at 3 p.m. Weather Light rain and snow showers are in store for the southwest Plains Monday, offering some moisture potential for winter wheat. Similar precipitation is also indicated for the northwestern U.S. crop areas. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Temperatures will be above normal north and seasonal south.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


Week Ahead Watch List Monday, November 23 Ag Reports: Export Inspections 10:00 a.m., Cold Storage 2:00 p.m., Crop Progress 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 24 No Ag Reports Scheduled Wednesday, November 25 Ag Reports: Dairy Products Sales 2:00 p.m. Thursday, November 26 Thanksgiving Holiday - No Ag Reports Scheduled Friday, November 27 Ag Reports: Export Sales 7:30 a.m

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


FSA Reverses Rule on Family Eligibility for Farm Subsidies The Farm Service Agency restored the previous definitions of terms like “active personal management, significant contribution, and related phrasing” in a rule regarding farm program subsidy eligibility and payment limitations. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce says the change is more of a “correction.” He says, “These revisions mean that members of a family farm operation are not subject to the more stringent management requirements applicable to farming operations comprised of non-family members established in the 2014 Farm Bill and further supported by the 2018 Farm Bill.” USDA also says that the more restrictive definitions only apply to farming operations comprised of non-family members that are subject to a limit in the number of farm managers seeking to qualify as actively engaged in farming based on a contribution of active personal management alone, as it was established in the 2018 Farm Bill. During an interview, Fordyce says, “It wasn’t our intention to bring family farm entities under the more restrictive provisions. It wasn’t Congress’ intent for us to do that.” The Hagstrom Report says the correction to the rule will be published right away in the Federal Register and goes into effect immediately. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Pleased with National Environmental Policy Act Changes The U.S. Forest Service updated the agency’s National Environmental Policy Act regulations, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council are pleased with the changes. Kaitlynn Glover is the NCBA Director of Natural Resources and Executive Director of the Public Lands Council. She says the announcement is the product of decades of work by livestock producers who have told the Forest Service and other federal agencies for years that NEPA regulations needed serious improvement. “This rule formalizes changes that will allow the U.S. Forest Service to be better partners to ranchers and stakeholders who depend on healthy forests and grasslands,” Glover says. “These are common-sense changes that add clarity by streamlining NEPA processes and ensuring that agencies are not spending time on unnecessarily duplicative NEPA reviews.” Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “these changes will ensure we do the appropriate level of environmental analysis to fit the work, locations, and conditions.” Perdue notes that the new categorical exclusions will ultimately improve our ability to maintain and repair the infrastructure people depend on to use and enjoy their national forests.” ********************************************************************************************** Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Lowest in Ten Years Thanksgiving is going to be different this year because of COVID-19. There is one tradition that continues this year, and it’s the American Farm Bureau’s annual survey on the cost of a classic Thanksgiving dinner. The 35th Farm Bureau survey says the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving meal for 10 is $46.90, which breaks down to less than $5 per person. It’s a $2 decrease from last year’s average cost of $48.91. “The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest it’s been since 2010,” says Farm Bureau Chief Economist John Newton. “Pricing whole turkeys as ‘loss-leaders’ to entice shoppers and move product is a strategy we’re seeing retailers use that’s increasingly common the closer we get to the holiday.” The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables is the turkey, which costs less than last year. A 16-pound bird will cost $19.39, about $1.21 per pound, and is seven percent lower-priced than in 2019. Besides turkey, other foods that showed price declines include whipping cream and sweet potatoes. Foods with modest cost increases include dinner rolls, cubed bread stuffing, and pumpkin pie mix. ********************************************************************************************** Lawsuit Alleges Tyson Foods Managers Bet on Health of Workers Details are coming out about a wrongful death lawsuit against Tyson Foods and its Waterloo, Iowa, processing plant. The suit alleges that during the initial stages of COVID-19, the company ordered employees to report to work, while supervisors privately wagered money on the number of workers who would be sickened by the virus. The Iowa Capital Dispatch says the lawsuit alleges that Tyson Foods is guilty of a “willful and wanton disregard for workplace safety.” In a written statement this week, Tyson says it was “saddened by the loss of any Tyson team member and sympathize with their families.” The company won’t comment on specific aspects of the suit but did say it’s “top priority is the health and safety of its workers, and they’ve implemented a host of protective measures at Waterloo and other facilities that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidelines for preventing COVID-19.” At least five Waterloo plant employees have died from COVID. According to the local county health department, over 1,000 workers at the plant, or more than a third of the total workforce, contracted the virus. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Outlines 2021 Policy Priorities Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor outlined the biofuels industry’s top federal priorities for 2021, highlighting key measures that elected leaders must take to protect the climate and revitalize rural communities. Some of their other key priorities will offer more consumers access to clean, affordable options to fuel their cars. “Biofuels, including plant-based ethanol, are critical tools for decarbonizing America’s existing transportation fleet and supporting our nation’s farmers and rural communities,” she says. “Solvable challenges in this area await leaders in Congress and the next administration.” While officials are looking at climate solutions, she says biofuels will be a key to meeting the nation’s goals for the transportation sector, which is America’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Their priorities include restoring the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard, including expanded infrastructure for higher biofuel blends. Growth Energy also wants to see expanded roles for biofuels in a clean energy future both at home and abroad. They’re very interested in seeing trade barriers broken down in low-carbon ethanol markets like Brazil, Mexico, and China, as well as in leveraging the benefits of biofuels in the Paris Climate Accord. ********************************************************************************************** Brexit Talks Suspended After COVID Diagnosis Brexit negotiations are suspended after a member of the European Union’s negotiating team tested positive for COVID-19. However, Reuters says officials are still working remotely to get an EU-United Kingdom trade deal on the books that would enter into full force in less than two months. Finland’s European affairs minister says the talks could still succeed, and a comprehensive deal can be done by the time Britain’s transition out of the EU wraps up on December 31. Negotiators told Reuters in a phone interview that the negotiating stage is “critical.” They say the time pressure is huge, but both sides haven’t given up their faith that the deal will get done. The chief Brexit negotiators are the EU’s Michael Barnier and the UK’s David Frost. Barnier says on Twitter that the teams “will continue their work in full respect of safety guidelines.” Some of the EU member-states like the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Spain have asked the executive European Commission, which is negotiating with Britain on behalf of the bloc, to update emergency plans for a possible no-deal on Brexit. France’s representative on the Commission says Britain must accept fair competition rules for companies or be shut out of the EU’s single market of 450 million consumers in 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets Traders will continue to keep a close eye on South American weather forecasts and any trade news that develops. At 2 p.m. CST, USDA issues its cattle on-feed report for October 1 with analysts in Dow Jones' survey expecting a 1.8% increase from a year ago. Weather Dry and mild conditions will cover all crop areas Friday. This combination favors the finishing of row crop harvest and fall field work. Colder conditions will be confined to far northern areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Stimulus Fights Intensify There is plenty to fight about now as the nation works to move forward in its transition to a new government amid a growing coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, Bloomberg is reporting that President Trump's chief of staff is moving to “put the onus on Congress” as the White House retreats on proposed stimulus packages. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, once a lead negotiator working on a new coronavirus stimulus package, is now proclaiming that it's up to Congress to proceed with any talks, even though the issue has been a “priority” for the president. “Obviously those discussions — if they happen — will be dictated by the House and the Senate,” Meadows told reporters when asked about the negotiations after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “We haven't seen a real willingness by our House colleagues to look at that.” Meadow's comments came a day after House Speaker Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer D-N.Y., urged McConnell to engage in talks. McConnell then “ridiculed” the $2.4 trillion Democratic measure that Pelosi and Schumer say must be the starting point for stimulus talks. “The problem is that their proposal is a multitrillion-dollar laughingstock” that “never had a chance of becoming law,” McConnell said. McConnell reiterated his demand that any package be “targeted” and around $500 billion. He hadn't yet replied to the Pelosi—Schumer letter by mid-day Thursday, Bloomberg said but Senate Democrats upped the ante by introducing a new proposal to provide $10 billion for personal protection equipment in the next package, another sign of how far apart the two sides remain. The comments came as numerous press reports are highlighting new lockdowns and anticipate new months-long survival tests until Covid-19 vaccines become widely available. More than 1 million US virus cases were reported in the recent week, leading states including Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, and California to set tighter rules on movement and commerce, Bloomberg said. A wide swath of businesses — restaurants, hotels, retail shops, bowling alleys and theaters — will confront a devastating winter, if they are able to remain open at all. Many workers face the holidays with food and shelter in doubt. “I'm looking for a sign of life,” said Jon Forman, founder and president of Cleveland Cinemas, an operator of four independent theaters in the metropolitan area that dismissed 90% of the staff. “We will not stay open through thick and thin.” Senior citizens in long-term care have faced the worst of the pandemic, with no signs of stopping. States last week reported more than 29,000 new Covid-19 cases in places such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Counts rose about 17% week over week, the steepest acceleration since May, when the COVID Tracking Project began tallying the data. Under 1% of the US population lives in such homes, but COVID fatalities there account for 40% of the national death toll, Bloomberg said. In addition, the New York Times reported that the US Treasury Department's Office of Financial Research (OFR) warned on Wednesday that there were “significant downside risks” to the nation's overall financial stability from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and predicted that many households and businesses might be unable to recover without additional government assistance. In its annual report to Congress, the OFR detailed the gravity of the threat that the financial system faced earlier this year as businesses were shut down across the United States and officials imposed stay-at-home orders around much of the country. The OFR praised government efforts to support the economy but suggested that substantial uncertainty remains because of the unpredictable path of the virus. “Due to the novelty of the virus, the unknowns of its course and the response of health policy, many businesses are unsure when or even if they will resume normal operations and what new safeguards they must erect,” the report said. “Such uncertainty can weigh heavily on economic activity.” The OFR was created out of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 and is a bureau within the Treasury Department. The report said that the “considerable” monetary and fiscal stimulus implemented earlier this year did serve as a bridge to an economic recovery, but that macroeconomic risk still remains “unusually high.” Credit risk remains one of the biggest concerns, as lenders to the commercial real estate, energy and “high touch” sectors face big losses from defaults and bankruptcies. Meanwhile, a return to elevated valuations for risky assets could lead to another round of market stress despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to stabilize markets earlier this year. The OFR noted that the federal debt is a long-term risk but suggested that there were more immediate concerns facing the economy. “Many households and businesses may be unable to recover absent additional government support,” the report said. So, we will see. Pressure clearly is growing for the federal government to provide new stimuli, but concerns are also associated with some of the conventional approaches proposed. The intensity of the new, more recent outbreaks adds uncertainty to the outlook, as does the real time schedule for vaccine relief. These fights are likely to be prolonged and increasingly controversial and should be watched closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


House Bill Would Require EPA To Act On Biofuels Applications A House bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on outstanding Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel pathway applications was introduced by Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn. The legislation, titled the Streamlining Advanced Biofuels Registration Act, would also compel the agency to accept biofuel applications if, after 90 days, the fuel could participate in at least one state's clean transportation program. The RFS requires energy producers to utilize low-carbon, renewable fuels such as cellulosic biomass, but EPA must approve applications on behalf of biofuels producers and has refused to act on dozens of applications, Hagedorn and Bustos said. The changes included in the bill will help lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by easing the regulatory burden for producers using cellulosic biomass to produce renewable fuel, the lawmakers said. “By cutting red tape and ensuring that producers receive a timely response from the EPA, we can encourage the use of cellulosic biomass in low-carbon, renewable fuel production and continue to create cleaner, more environmentally-friendly fuels,” Bustos said. “By forcing the EPA to make timely decisions on these applications, we are opening new markets that will power southern Minnesota communities and the nation's economy. I'm extremely pleased to work in bipartisan fashion with Congresswoman Bustos on this important initiative,” Hagedorn said. Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


FCMSA Unveils HOS Ag Commodity, Livestock Definition Rule An interim final rule clarifying agricultural commodity and livestock definitions in hours-of-service (HOS) regulations was unveiled Thursday (November 19) by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The rule has not yet been scheduled for publication in the Federal Register. During state-defined harvesting and planting seasons haulers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source. However, amid indications the definition of “agricultural commodities” was not well understood or enforced consistently relative to the HOS exemption, FCMSA began a rulemaking to clarify the term in July 2019. The interim final rule defines the terms “any agricultural commodity,” “livestock,” and “non-processed food” as used in the definition of agricultural commodity under HOS regulations. “The agriculture industry is vital to our nation, and this new rule will provide clarity and offer additional flexibility to farmers and commercial drivers, while maintaining the highest level of safety,” said US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue thanked DOT for working with his department “to come up with common sense definitions for agricultural commodities and livestock that meet both the needs of agricultural haulers and public safety – critical concerns for all of trucking.” The interim final rule will take effect 15 days after publication in the Federal Register and comments will be accepted for 30 days following publication.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


Ag Lender Survey Reveals Bankers Top Concerns The Fall 2020 Agricultural Lender Survey report shows that ag lenders continue to remain focused on credit quality, even as the farm economy continues to work through the prolonged downturn caused by COVID-19. The survey is from the American Bankers Association and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, also known as Farmer Mac. When it comes to their customers, lenders continue to be most concerned about liquidity, income, and leverage. Uncertainty regarding tariffs and trade, the weather, the impacts of COVID-19, and the resulting downturn are close behind. “Facing a global pandemic and an unprecedented economic downturn, agricultural lenders’ concerns for both their institutions and ag borrowers remain focused on business fundamentals,” says Tyler Mondres, director of research at ABA. “Nevertheless, lenders remain prepared to continue providing support to the farm economy through these challenging times.” The ag economy and farm income remain stressed in 2020. On average, lenders report that just under 51 percent of their ag borrowers were profitable in 2020, down from 57 percent last year. About half of the lenders don’t expect profitability to improve in 2021. ********************************************************************************************** Grassley Praises Report on Farm Payment Limitations The Government Accountability Office says that the USDA hasn’t been reviewing Farm Service Agency state compliance with rules regarding farm program eligibility. “The lack of oversight and accountability has created a welfare system for some joint-ventures and general partnerships, particularly in the South,” says Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. The GAO report shows that 19 of the top 20 farms that received payments in 2016 and 2017 are in the South. “Farm payments should only go to those with dirt under their fingernails,” Grassley adds. “Congress must fix this broken system in the next farm bill.” Since the last GAO report in 2013, the 2020 report says USDA has made some progress in completing and reporting on reviews to determine if recipients of farm program payments meet the requirements for being actively engaged in farming. However, USDA doesn’t systematically monitor its performance of compliance reviews, which are the responsibility of FSA state offices. The report says improving the accuracy and monitoring of tracking data would help management to better oversee state offices’ completion of assigned reviews to make sure all the members of a farming operation who receive payments are actively engaged in farming. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Community Wants EU Trade Tariffs Removed America’s top agriculture commodity groups and trade associations sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer talking about European Union retaliatory tariffs on American goods. The groups, including Farmers for Free Trade, are asking Lighthizer to “deepen trade discussions” to help bring about World Trade Organization compliance and removal of the EU tariffs that target U.S. food and ag exports. On November 10, the EU imposed duties on certain cheeses, agricultural equipment, distilled spirits, potatoes, nuts, fruits, juices, chocolate, and ketchup. “Farmers are battling to stay above water and any new tariff in this time of crisis is a big concern,” says Brian Kuehl (KEEL), Co-Executive Director of Famers for Free Trade. “We know these tariffs are part of a long legal battle, but anytime farmers become collateral damage is unacceptable.” The letter says American farmers need stability, and that means predictable exports into markets like the European Union. The groups are urging this administration and the next one to double down on their effort to resolve this dispute in a manner that frees American farmers from harmful tariffs. ********************************************************************************************** Chicken: The Number One COVID-19 Protein Over the past year, as Americans cooked more food in their homes than they had before, chicken has become the top choice for a healthy and convenient protein that the entire family can enjoy. Approximately 75 percent of Americans who eat chicken say they make it at home at least once a week. During the past nine months of COVID-19, retail chicken sales have increased $1.3 billion, up over 19 percent from the same period in 2019. The National Chicken Council unveiled the findings of a new survey on better understanding chicken consumption patterns and preferences in the U.S. The survey includes insight into the impact of the pandemic on chicken consumption habits, showing that half of Americans who eat chicken say they have eaten it more than any other protein during COVID-19. The survey found that chicken has been popular because it’s easy to prepare and a versatile protein. With COVID-19 shifting some holiday plans, chicken might help make it a happy holiday as 50 percent of Americans who eat chicken say they’d prefer it to ham or turkey at a holiday meal. 52 percent of Americans prefer grilled chicken, while 48 percent prefer fried chicken. ************************************************************************************ Streamlining Biofuels Registration Act Introduced in the House Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Republican Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota introduced the Streamlining Advanced Biofuels Registration Act of 2020 into the House of Representatives. The legislation would encourage low-carbon fuel production and increase the production of cellulosic biomass into renewable fuels. It would expedite the approval process at the Environmental Protection Agency for low-carbon biofuel pathways, an issue that has stalled technological progress for years. “Unnecessary delays have stalled progress on the biofuels industry’s ability to harness clean energy from agricultural residue, corn fiber, and waste,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We know that cellulosic technologies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 percent or more, providing options for negative-emissions liquid fuels and providing a low-cost alternative to petroleum-based aromatics that poison our air and threaten our health.” She says the legislation will help jumpstart growth in these innovative technologies at a time when revitalizing rural communities has never been more important. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Republican John Thune of South Dakota and Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat. ********************************************************************************************** National 4-H Council Awarded $3 Million to Support 4-H at Home The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture investing more than $10.5 million to support educators across the country. Funds are going to technical schools, community and junior colleges, and youth development programs, including the Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program. NIFA is giving a $3 million grant to the National 4-H Council to support the continued development of 4-H at Home, which is the positive youth development digital platform at www.4-H.org. 4-H at Home is designed to meet the growing needs for virtual and non-virtual educational resources that can easily be used by families at home or rapidly adopted by educators and Extension personnel. It’s intended to “level the playing field” and address the widening opportunity gap for youth and families as a result of COVID-19. Since the onset of COVID-19, 4-H educators are even more dedicated to ensuring kids, families, and communities have the support they need, including educational resources, caring adult mentors, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of community. A 4-H news release says, “Thanks to the significant grant from NIFA, our Cooperative Extension Network can expand its reach through 4-H at Home by providing effective learning experiences to meet the needs of families across the country.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Stimulus Fight Resumes Bloomberg is reporting this week that to nobody's surprise, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to resume talks on an additional stimulus package. However, McConnell is insisting on a “targeted package,” Bloomberg said. “We write to request that you join us at the negotiating table this week so that we can work towards a bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 relief agreement,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote. They said they were encouraged by McConnell's comments after Election Day calling for stimulus and saying “it's a possibility we will do more for state and local governments,” one of the key areas of disagreement. McConnell's office, asked to respond to the call for talks, referred to the GOP leader's comments from earlier on Tuesday, when he reiterated his support for a bill of about $500 billion. The Democratic call for talks with McConnell followed the decision by the White House and President Donald Trump to pull back from their involvement after months of negotiations failed to yield a deal. The administration had offered to back a $1.9 trillion package before the Nov. 3 election but the difference between the two sides continues to be wide as Democrats have been demanding $2.4 trillion. “Millions of unemployed Americans and those facing eviction and hunger demand action from their leaders. The time to act is upon us like never before,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote. Senate Republicans in July had put forward a $1 trillion stimulus bill that included direct stimulus checks, only to pare that back as the economy began to bounce back. They have been especially resistant to Democratic demands for more than $400 billion in aid to state and local governments with budget shortfalls due to lost revenue during the pandemic. President-elect Joe Biden on Monday called on Congress to act on a stimulus bill this year, before he is inaugurated, but forecasters see that as unlikely. “I am open to a targeted bill roughly of the amount that we recommended, a half trillion dollars, which is not nothing,” McConnell said Tuesday. He also reiterated his call for liability protections from COVID-19 lawsuits, which Democrats have opposed. Also, some virus-related relief could end up attached to the must-pass spending bill needed to keep the government open after Dec. 11. House Democrats and Senate Republicans are negotiating behind closed doors this week on an outline for the 12-part $1.4 trillion bill and are reporting that progress is being made. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin had led talks with Democrats on new stimulus packages before the election. However, more recently the administration said it is stepping back and leaving those talks to McConnell. As a result, Biden emphasized with Pelosi and Schumer the “urgent need” for Congress to provide resources to deal with the pandemic, Bloomberg said. At the same time, support for additional stimulus continues to come from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell who earlier called a new fiscal stimulus package as “absolutely essential” to the U.S. economic recovery. He also argued that even if spending proved more than necessary, it “will not go to waste.” And in a note regarding possible benefits of successful coronavirus vaccines, The Hill notes this week that while preliminary results from several highly effective vaccine candidates are boosting hopes of a quicker end to the pandemic and a faster recovery, and that “while the light at the end of the tunnel may seem brighter today than it was 10 days ago, economists fear the U.S. still has daunting obstacles in its path.” The report notes that coronavirus cases and hospitalizations “are shattering state records across the country,” and as cases climb, unemployed workers and struggling businesses “may run out of ways to stay afloat between now and widespread distribution of a vaccine.” This is especially true since several crucial government aid programs also are set to expire at the end of December, setting up a potential flood of foreclosures, evictions and bankruptcies. As a result, The Hill says economists are warning that if the White House and Congress are unable to bridge the gap between proposals, millions of Americans could suffer before the pandemic and economy turn around. The report cites Adam Ozimek who worries that, “If the government doesn't do more, then we could be looking at a lot more businesses going under, the recovery backtracking and heading in reverse, and a bigger economic hole to dig our way out of.” Ozimek is chief economist at Upwork. So, we will see. The political situation is as toxic as ever even as the transition appears to be moving forward. The future roles of the government are expected to continue to be critical and should be watched closely as these debates intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


OMB Completes Review On USDA Plan For Child Nutrition Program Flexibilities The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed its review of a proposed rule from USDA that identifies flexibilities for milk, whole grains, and sodium requirements under Child Nutrition Programs. The plan was forwarded to OMB October 28 and one meeting was scheduled on the rule—with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and NANA (National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity) coalition. The proposed rule comes after a court in April sent the final rule released in 2019 back to USDA for “further proceedings.” CSPI was party to the suit on USDA's final rule, arguing the final rule did not reflect a logical outgrowth of the interim final rule originally issued by USDA. The U.S. District Court in Maryland agreed, saying the final rule was not keeping with the “original scheme” of the notice and comments that were filed on the interim final rule, as that “spoke exclusively to terms of delaying compliance requirements, not abandoning the compliance requirements altogether.” The final rule delayed the compliance date for some provisions and eliminated another along with changing requirements on whole grains so that only half of the grain-based foods needed to be whole-grain-rich. It is not clear when the proposed rule will be released, but child nutrition advocates like CSPI and others will obviously monitor the situation closely to make sure USDA followed the court action.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


Groups See Potential Farmer Revenue Stream In Climate Efforts Major farm and environmental groups announced the formation of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, a coalition focused on pushing climate policy priorities. The American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and National Farmers Union co-chair the alliance. The group established more than 40 policy recommendations on soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research, and food loss and waste for Congress and the presidential administration. The plan unveiled by the group contains objectives and specific federal policy moves the groups view as critical to achieving those goals. Explaining the catalyst for creating the alliance, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said the groups were able to break through “historical barriers” and did so with the recognition that “our collective voices are stronger than our individual voice” for advancing new climate policies. The three guiding principles of the joint recommendations are to support voluntary, market- and incentive-based policies, advance science-based outcomes and promote resilience and help rural economies better adapt to climate change, the alliance said, with six key areas of focus: Soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research and food loss and waste. The groups urge a “menu of voluntary federal policy options” to encourage carbon sequestration in the soil, including a new tax credit modelled after the existing “45Q” carbon sequestration credit and a new carbon bank backed by USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). The CCC carbon bank proposal echoes a proposal included in Joe Biden's campaign climate plan. The key for farmer support for any such plan will be how a carbon market is established.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets U.S. weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday. The Energy Department follows with its weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. The latest South American weather forecasts and any trade news will also be noted. Weather Thursday will be mainly dry across primary crop areas, favorable for late stage harvest. Very warm temperatures and strong winds in the southern Plains through eastern Midwest will bring further drying in winter wheat areas and increased fire threat. Winter advisories are noted in the far northern Plains for wintry mix precipitation Thursday evening.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


Alliance Publishes Unprecedented Climate Change Recommendations An alliance of groups that represent farmers, forest owners, the food sector, state governments, and environmental advocates released an unprecedented list of recommendations to guide Federal climate policy development. The effort is called the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, and it was formed in February by the four groups that co-chair the alliance: the American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the National Farmers Union. The alliance has expanded to include several other groups since February. The group developed over 40 recommendations for federal policymakers, with those recommendations based on three principles: climate policies must be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities, they must promote resilience and adaptation in rural communities, and they must be science-based. These recommendations share an overall goal of doing no harm. “We are proud to have broken through historical barriers to form this unique alliance focused on climate policy,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “It was important to me to reject punitive climate policy ideas of the past in favor of policies that respect farmers and support positive change, and our final recommendations do just that.” ********************************************************************************************** Progressives Fight Against Heitkamp as Possible USDA Boss Progressives in agriculture appear to be making a push to keep former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp out of the USDA Secretary’s office in a Biden administration. News Break Dot Com says the conflict is ramping up as Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio has begun to campaign for the job. USDA is a $150 billion department that oversees ag policy, supports the farm economy, and feeds millions of low-income households. Heitkamp has been seen as a top contender for the spot because of her moderate politics and friendly relationship with the agricultural sector. However, a coalition is working behind the scenes to eliminate her candidacy before it gets going. They argue that she’s too conservative and far too cozy with the fossil fuel industry and corporate agribusiness. “There will be a big fight on Heitkamp if Biden puts her name forward,” says Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of the food and agriculture program at Friends of the Earth. Most of the nonprofits against Heitkamp are far out on the left flank of even the most-progressive food and ag circles. However, divisions about Heitkamp appear to run deeply. The National Farmers Union, not a member of this coalition, is facing its own questions about whether to get behind the former North Dakota Senator. ************************************************************************************ Senate Unanimously Passes Grain Standards Reauthorization Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts of Kansas and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan say the Senate has unanimously passed the bipartisan U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020. The act regulates marketing standards for grains and oilseeds and extends the inspection authority through September of 2025. “The Senate has approved the Grain Standards Reauthorization Act, which will allow America to continue fostering a healthy domestic grain market and positive relationships with our trading partners,” says Roberts. Stabenow says as farmers face unprecedented uncertainty and trade instability, it’s vital to maintain the integrity of the grain inspection system. “The bipartisan bill protects the interests of American farmers and ensures our credibility as a reliable producer of high-quality crops,” she says. The bill would include customers and applicants for inspection or weighing services in the list of people that must be notified in writing when a state agency intends to temporarily discontinue official inspection or weighing service. The bill still needs approval in the House and will also require that the USDA conduct a thorough review of the agency’s official geographic areas. ********************************************************************************************** Dairy Safety-Net Enrollment Ends on December 11 The USDA reminds dairy producers that the deadline to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage program for the calendar year 2021 is quickly approaching on December 11. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency opened DMC signup back in October to help producers manage economic risk brought on by milk price and feed cost disparities. “2020 has been a very challenging year for agricultural producers, and we don’t yet know what next year will bring,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “Dairy producers should definitely consider coverage for 2021 as even the slightest drop in the margin can trigger payments.” The DMC program, first created by the 2018 Farm Bill, offers reasonably priced protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a specific dollar amount selected by the producer. To enroll, producers must certify with FSA that the operation is commercially marketing milk, sign all the required forms, and pay the $100 administration fee unless the farm qualifies for a waiver. Producers can select the $4.00 catastrophic level of coverage with no premium fee. They can also choose to buy-up coverage where the premium is based on margin triggers between $4.50 and $9.50 on five to 95 percent of their established production history. ********************************************************************************************** New Partnership Highlights Versatility of Corn as a Feedstock The National Corn Growers Association announced a new partnership with the publication called “Chemical & Engineering News.” The goal is to highlight the many uses for corn, including the opportunities in plant-based packaging, chemicals, and nutraceuticals (Noo-trah-SOO-tih-cals). The NCGA’s Market Development Action Team is funding the effort. “This is a way for us to enter into a conversation with an audience we don’t engage with every day,” says Market Development Action Team Chair Dan Wesely. “This is one of the many efforts we have in the new-uses space. Being able to share corn’s story, that we are an abundant, affordable, sustainably grown, and versatile crop with this audience is important to future corn demand.” CE&N subscribers will get a chance to test their knowledge of corn production and its uses by taking a quiz. Questions will range from “How much corn does the U.S. produce each year?” to “Which organic acid produced from corn is used in shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals?” An infographic will showcase how corn is utilized in several ingredients in items such as packaging and dietary supplements. Chemical & Engineering News is a weekly print and digital publication put out by the American Chemical Society since 1923. ********************************************************************************************** CommonGround Celebrates 10 Years of Building Trust CommonGround is a group of women farmers who plant seeds of trust through conversations with consumers about the food they grow. Those women are celebrating ten years of service and impact for agriculture. The farmers of CommonGround serve as a resource to connect with families about food and farming. The organization’s farmers volunteer their time to share personal experiences, as well as science and research, to help consumers sort through the myths and misinformation surrounding food. What first began as a handful of volunteers with a shared goal has flourished, growing into a grassroots movement with more than 200 volunteers in 20 states. “I’m proud to be part of something so authentic in this crazy world,” says Lauren Biegler, a CommonGround farmer-volunteer from Minnesota. “All of the women in the program have such genuine love and pride for their families, farms, and the products that come off their farms.” CommonGround was developed by the National Corn Growers Association, in collaboration with various state corn and soy associations. Though ten years have gone by, the mission remains the same; break the barriers between farmers and consumers through direct conversations. To learn more, people can go to www.findourcommonground.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Toxic Struggle Coming Over Trade The New York Times reported this week that “in addition to a deadly pandemic and a weakened economy, the next president will inherit a toxic relationship with the world's second-largest economy, China." President Trump has placed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of products from China, imposed sanctions on Chinese companies and restricted Chinese businesses from buying American technology — a multiyear onslaught aimed at forcing Beijing to change its trade practices as punishment for its authoritarian ways. The coming hard choices for the U.S. will include whether to maintain tariffs on about $360 billion worth of Chinese imports, which have raised costs for American businesses and consumers, or whether to relax those levies in exchange for concessions on economic issues or other fronts, like climate change. The choices will be challenging, the Times says, and critics are demanding smarter approaches that combine working with the Chinese on some issues like global warming and the pandemic, competing with them on technological leadership and confronting them on still other issues like military expansionism, human rights violations--or unfair trade. In a speech on Monday, Biden promised significant investments for American industry, including $300 billion in technologies that he said would create three million “good-paying” jobs. “We're going to invest in American workers and make them more competitive,” Biden said and then added that he would ensure that labor unions and environment groups were “at the table” in any trade negotiations. And he promises to push for the United States, rather than China, to set the world's trading rules, along with other democracies. Even if Biden departs from the current punishing approach, his administration will need leverage over China to accomplish its own policy goals and will face pressure from lawmakers in both parties who view China as a national security threat and have introduced legislation aimed at penalizing Beijing for its human rights abuses and economic practices. Biden has given few details about his plans for U.S.-China relations, but the new administration will face pressure from both parties not to revert to the approach that he and many of his predecessors had earlier embraced in trying to transform China's economic practices by bringing it into the global economy, the Times says. Like many Democrats and Republicans Biden argued for decades that integrating China into the global trading system would force it to play by international rules. In 2000, he voted to grant China permanent normal trading relations which paved the way for China's entry into the WTO and deeper global economic ties. In 2016, Trump won the presidency in part by rejecting that approach, arguing that the United States needed to isolate, not integrate, Beijing. Now, Biden acknowledges that China exploited the international system and he is calling for a more aggressive approach. Congress is also relatively unified on a tough stance on China. Hundreds of China-related bills are circulating, including several bipartisan efforts that echo Biden's emphasis on competing with China by investing in advanced American industries. One area of focus is the trade deal that the administration signed with China in January. While it has largely kept commitments to open up its markets to American companies and administration officials have continued to defend the pact, Beijing has fallen far behind schedule in its promise to buy an additional $200 billion of goods and services by the end of next year. Now, the Times expects that the administration will leave the deal intact, said Chris Rogers, a global trade and logistics analyst at Panjiva. But he wouldn't rule out “a scorched-earth policy where China is declared to be in violation of its Phase 1 trade deal commitments and a return to tariff escalation,” the report said. “We are worried that the administration is going to do some rash things that don't make sense,” said Rufus Yerxa, the president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents major multinational companies. “Given the history of President Trump's use of executive authority, we're taking nothing for granted in these next few months.” Biden's appointments for trade and foreign policy posts will help reveal his approach toward China, the Times says. Similar to Biden himself, many of his closest advisers have a moderate track record on trade and China, believing they can work with Chinese leaders on some issues even as they challenge them on others. But several of his national security advisers are more skeptical. No matter the trade policy path, business groups, economists and others are hoping for a coherent strategy that does not result in the type of economic brinkmanship the current administration appeared to thrive on. “The administration never did lay out a coherent, comprehensive, engaged trade strategy,” said Thea M. Lee, an economist and the president of the Economic Policy Institute. “It was much more scattershot: Throw up a tariff here, do a deal with China, disparate elements that didn't seem to talk to each other.” “But there are a lot of tools in that toolbox, and I would like to see the Biden administration be thoughtful and strategic about how to use them,” Lee said. So, we will see. The definition and implementation of the promised new policies, especially, but not solely with China, will be a tough challenge, and many of those fights likely will appear early in the new administration. They certainly should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


GAO Report: USDA Needs To Do More On Verifying Farm Program Payments A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on USDA farm program payments shows that while USDA has improved its compliance reviews on eligibility for farm program payments, more oversight is still needed. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, long backing tightening farm program payment rules to make sure those dollars go only to producers that have “dirt under their nails,” requested the review and said it shows that there needs to be more done on that front. “Congress must fix this broken system in the next Farm Bill,” Grassley said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the USDA as they address much-needed changes to FSA office operations to implement these recommendations.” GAO said that the issues are focused mostly on state FSA offices, pointing out that there no systematic monitoring of performance compliance reviews. The report said that 19 of the top 20 farms that received payments in 2016 and 2017 are in the south. GAO made an additional five recommendations for USDA and FSA to implement so that only those actively engaged in farming are utilizing the payments and the program is used for its original purpose. This will keep the matter as an issue as the next farm bill is developed, with that process expected to get underway in 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Payouts Over $10 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) now total $10.08 billion as of November 15 with 616,103 applications approved. Acreage-based payments account for the largest share at $4.99 billion, followed by livestock ($2.74 billion), sales commodities ($1.34 billion), dairy ($980.8 million) and eggs/broilers ($28.3 million). Payments for corn ($2.76 billion), cattle ($2.21 billion), sales commodities ($1.27 billion) and soybeans ($10.6 billion) are at $1 billion or more, followed by milk ($980.8 million), wheat ($550.0 million), hogs/pigs ($459.0 million) and upland cotton ($229.2 million). By state, Iowa still leads at $953 million, with Nebraska at $687.7 million), Minnesota at $665.5 million, Illinois at $637.8 million, California at $618.2 million, Kansas at $526.3 million, Texas at $482.3 million, South Dakota at $462.9 million, Wisconsin at $441.4 million and North Dakota rounding out the top 10 at $370.2 million. Signup for the effort continues through December 11 and USDA continues to solicit producer enrollments. Payments under the CFAP 1 effort stand at $10.42 billion with USDA seeking to wind that program down, calling on those producers who have not submitted requested forms to so by November 20.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Census Bureau issues its report on October housing starts at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by the Energy Department's weekly energy inventories at 9:30 a.m. As usual, traders will pay attention to the latest weather forecasts and any trade news that develops. Weather Warm, dry and windy conditions are in store in the Plains through western Midwest Wednesday. This pattern favors the final stage of row crop harvest but is stressful in winter wheat areas. Red flag wildfire warnings cover much of the Plains. Eastern Midwest areas will be cooler but dry with improved harvest prospects. Rain and snow continue in the Northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


Farmers Bracing for More Scrutiny Under Biden? Bloomberg says American agriculture is likely bracing for more scrutiny of its practices under a Joe Biden administration. While the race isn’t officially over yet, ag would potentially see more regulation of everything from environmental protections to workplace safety, a stark contrast from the anti-regulatory administration of Donald Trump. The key question will be how much pressure ag will face as Democrats are divided on how hard they might move forward on a more progressive agenda. One thing for sure is there will be a greater emphasis on food assistance for needy families under Biden. The first suggestion of where a new administration would fall on the regulatory spectrum is who they appoint to different positions. Both farmers and environmentalists will be looking closely for details on how Biden would carry out a campaign pledge to make American agriculture the first in the world to reach net-zero with emissions. Even as the Trump administration refuses to concede the race, the Biden team is moving ahead on cabinet choices, with the picks likely to come in the middle of December. Former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has been advising the Biden campaign on rural issues. ********************************************************************************************** China-Led Trade Pact is Signed The ink is officially dry on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, signed by China and 14 other nations over the weekend. The New York Times says the signing ceremony came about after eight years of talks leading up to one of the world’s largest regional free-trade agreements. While the pact is somewhat limited in scope, it still covers approximately 2.2 billion people. That’s larger than any previous regional free trade agreement and likely helps improve China’s image as the dominant economic power in Southeast Asia. It also comes about after a U.S. withdrawal from sweeping trade deals that appear to be reshaping global relationships. As other countries continue to sign trade deals, some trade experts say American importers may lose ground. “While the U.S. is currently focusing on domestic issues, including COVID-19 and rebuilding its economy, I’m not sure the rest of the world is going to wait until America gets its house in order,” says Jennifer Hillman, a senior fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations. “I think there are going to have to be some responsive actions to what China is doing.” ********************************************************************************************** Reigning in the Land Grab Law Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt issued a recent secretarial order on the Land and Waters Conservation Fund. The Order prioritizes input from local governments and leaders, which will help stop unchecked land grabs by the federal government. It requires written support from local governments for any land or water acquisition. “The LWCF was created to be a discrete tool to strengthen recreational opportunities for local communities and improve public lands management,” says Kaitlynn Glover, NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and the PLC Executive Director. “States and local stakeholders know best what their communities need and should be directly involved in those decisions.” She says ranchers appreciate the secretary’s work to make certain LWCF cannot be used as a tool for rampant, unchecked acquisitions that would compromise the health of Western landscapes and federal agencies’ ability to manage the lands and waters already under their jurisdiction. The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law back in August. It gave federal agencies free rein to spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year of LWCF funding for the sole purpose of acquiring new private land without any oversight from Congress. ************************************************************************************ USDA Says Farm Production Expenses Will Drop The USDA says farm sector production expenses, including those associated with operator dwellings, are forecast to decrease by $4.6 billion to $344.2 billion in 2020 in nominal terms, which means not adjusted for inflation. That’s a 1.3 percent drop from the previous year. These expenses represent the costs of all inputs used to produce farm commodities and strongly affect farm profitability. Although the overall production expenses are projected to drop, there are differences between the specific expenses. Specific expenses forecast to increase in 2020 account for approximately 69 percent of the total and are projected to collectively rise by $6 billion relative to 2019 before inflation adjustment. These include the two largest categories; feed purchases and cash labor. In contrast, expenses expected to decrease account for 31 percent of total expenses and are forecast to collectively decline by $10.6 billion between 2019 and 2020. More specifically, livestock and poultry purchases are expected to drop 7.5 percent, pesticides by 2.1 percent, and oil and fuel spending by 13.9 percent. Interest-rate costs are forecast to be at their lowest level since 2014, dropping by 27 percent from 2019 as a result of historically low interest rates. ********************************************************************************************** Newman Re-Elected as NPB President David Newman, a pork producer from Arkansas, was elected to serve a second term as president of the National Pork Board at the organization’s November meeting. The NPB’s 15 producer-directors represent America’s 60,000 pig farmers who pay into the Pork Checkoff, a program that funds research, promotion, and education efforts that benefit the industry. “Like everyone, U.S. pig farmers have faced significant challenges this year,” Newman says. “Supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the real threat of African Swine Fever have made this one of the most difficult years to be a pig farmer. But it also shows us how resilient and agile our industry and the Pork Checkoff are in the face of adversity.” Despite the numerous challenges that the pork industry has faced in recent months, Newman says he’s optimistic about the opportunities ahead. “I’m excited to be able to lead the Pork Checkoff for a second term as we implement key learnings from the past year, continue to build on retail sales growth for pork seen during the pandemic, and show consumers the value of the pork industry from farm to fork through our Real Pork master brand,” says Newman. He operates a farrow-to-finish operation in Arkansas that markets pork directly to consumers and foodservice operations. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Water Use Dropping for Most Crops and Livestock Production The University of Illinois says climate change and a growing world population require efficient use of natural resources. The College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences says water management strategies need to support worldwide changes in food consumption and dietary patterns. Agricultural production and food manufacturing account for a third of U.S. water usage, which fluctuates with weather patterns, but is also affected by shifts in production technology, supply-chain linkages, and domestic and foreign consumer demand. A comprehensive University of Illinois study looked at water withdrawals in U.S. agriculture and food production from 1995 to 2021. The main trend they saw was a decline in water use, driven by a combination of factors. The authors of the study say the industry’s use of water for irrigation decreased by 8.3 percent over that period. One trend they noted is greater demand for white meat than red meat at the nation’s grocery stores. Chicken production requires 3.5 times less water-per-pound than beef production, which means a change in demand helped livestock reduce its water use by 14 percent.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Household Finance Improves Bloomberg is reporting this week that eight months into the pandemic, American household finances are in “the best shape in decades.” The report calls the finding “seemingly incongruous” what with the widespread business lockdowns earlier in the year and the coinciding surge in unemployment—and that the same picture certainly doesn't apply to all families equally. But it “points to just how strong the U.S. economy was going into the virus outbreak and how powerful the combined monetary and fiscal responses were from the Federal Reserve, Congress and the administration.” Record-low mortgage rates, reflecting the ultra-easy Fed policy, have prompted a steady wave of refinancing and allowed homeowners to reduce monthly payments or tap equity. Americans are also holding more cash, helped in part by stimuli from the government, Bloomberg says. Households' debt service burdens have eased considerably, too, a complete departure from the 2007-2009 financial crisis that required years to mend. That in turn bodes well for consumer spending and its ability to power the economic recovery through a period marred by a violent spike in virus cases, Bloomberg said. “The consumer here in the U.S. is relatively stable and, honestly, relatively better off than we might have feared back in the height of the pandemic in the second quarter of 2020,” Marianne Lake, JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s chief executive officer for consumer lending, said at a recent virtual investor conference. “The consumer's willingness to carry on spending is a pretty positive sign for a broader economic recovery.” In addition, Bloomberg notes that a report today on retail sales likely will find another solid, yet more moderate, sales advance in October. And despite the surge in COVID-19 cases, economists project a 4% annualized rate of U.S. economic growth this quarter, unchanged from the October forecast – though down from the prior period's record gain, according to a Bloomberg survey. While the pandemic has financially been harder on working-class families than it has been for those more wealthy who have been stockpiling much of the cash, data shows that they too have more money in the bank now. That's important because they are much more likely to spend that money – and give the economy an added jolt – than are the wealthier, Bloomberg noted. Checkable deposits also had improved for several quarters leading up to the pandemic and even before the government actions to provide financial assistance for the unemployed. Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said it's possible economic growth estimates for coming quarters could be revised upward even more “because there's an awful lot of cash which is waiting to be spent.” However, the virus resurgence likely means “people can't spend until it's safe to go back out again,” he said. To be sure, another reason savings remain elevated is that people are uneasy about their jobs and the outlook, particularly in industries such as travel, food services and leisure, where business activity is more at risk. And, while cash buffers of those who benefited from fiscal stimulus are starting to weaken, their financial positions remain elevated compared with pre-pandemic levels, JPMorgan's Lake said. For its part, residential real estate has played a huge role in driving both the recovery and improvement in household finances. Cheaper borrowing costs have not only sparked a flurry of demand for homes, mortgage refinancing has strengthened. While cash-out refinancing only makes up a little more than a third of all activity, a larger share of rate-term refinancing means lower monthly mortgage payments. “It's highly likely that households have the ability to spend more, and probably are spending more, and continue to spend more, because they can refinance and their payments are low relative to their income,” said David Berson, chief economist at the insurance and financial services company Nationwide. “The consumer came into this crisis in a pretty strong position in terms of household balance sheets and household liquidity and debt service burdens,” JPMorgan's Lake said. So, we will see. The report is good news – and it likely will take some of the pressure from the current talks regarding additional stimulus. However, the virus still appears to be spreading out of control, a trend that certainly will continue to boost economic tensions as the government transition is debated – a process producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


Tougher US Actions on China Said in the Works President Donald Trump over the next 10 weeks is now expected to announce several measures to further crackdown on China over human rights abuses, according to a report from Axios, focusing on Xinjiang and Hong Kong in particular. No more actions are expected on Taiwan and no additional closures of Chinese consulates in the U.S. are expected to result, the report noted, with the focus being on trying to make it “politically untenable” for a Biden administration to change course on China policy. The key will be whether the expected actions will spook U.S. commodity markets relative to China's pledged purchases of a host of U.S. agricultural goods.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


RCEP Signed Covering 30% of World Trade The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact was signed on Sunday, a trade effort that includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and 10 Southeast Asian nations. The pact still needs to be ratified by national governments before going into effect. It will take some time for that ratification and even longer for tariff modifications under the pact to take effect. The agreement was initiated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2012 and takes most of the existing agreements signed by the 10 ASEAN countries — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — and combines them into a single multilateral pact with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. The 15 participating countries account for nearly 30% of both world population and global trade. The U.S. is not part of the accord. India also opted out of the deal, expressing concern that it would unleash a lot of cheap imports into their market and negatively impact India producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday's reports start with U.S. retail sales for October at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by a report on October industrial production at 8:15 a.m. Traders will check the latest weather forecasts as well as any export news that emerges. Weather Dry conditions will dominate all primary crop areas Tuesday. Precipitation will be confined to light snow in the eastern Great Lakes. Final stages of harvest are favored while soils continue to dry out, notably in the Southern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


KC Fed: Farm Financial Outlook is Improving The Kansas City Fed said last week that the outlook for agricultural credit conditions in its Tenth District improved in the third quarter, due in part to rising commodity prices and additional government aid to producers. After dropping sharply in the second quarter due to COVID-19 disruptions, prices for most ag commodities began to rebound during the summer. The Fed report says increasing demand supported additional increases in crop prices through the third quarter and into October, expanding profit opportunities for many producers going into the harvest season. As a result, credit conditions deteriorated at a significantly slower pace. The number of bankers reporting declines in farm income and loan repayment rates dropped from the prior quarter. About 55 percent of ag bankers in the district reported lower incomes than a year ago, compared with 75 percent in the second quarter of 2020. Recent developments are leading to more optimistic expectations through the end of the year. Following years of steady growth, demand for farm loans appeared to decrease. About 25 percent of bankers reported that loan demand was lower than last year, the highest number since 2013. Loan repayment challenges are expected to ease across most types of farm operations in the district through the next three months. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Looking for Trade Action Against Fresh Produce Imports Fresh produce coming into the United States is getting increasing scrutiny from the Trump Administration. Imported strawberries are now on the list of imported items that the administration wants investigated for possibly harming U.S. fruit and vegetable growers. Strawberry imports, mainly from Mexico, represent about 16 percent of the U.S. market, valued at approximately $2.5 billion every year. Gro-Intelligence Dot Com says if the investigation proceeds, any potential trade action could result in higher strawberry prices in the U.S. market. Officials are also requesting a probe into the imports of fresh peppers, which is the second-largest vegetable import into America. U.S. imports of strawberries totaled 184 million tons last year, a fourfold jump since 2005. About 99 percent of the imports come from Mexico, where a weak peso has made exports much more competitive with domestic production. U.S. farmers, especially in the Southeastern states, say the low-priced imports are putting domestic growers at a significant disadvantage. A similar Section 201 investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission was recently requested for blueberry imports into the U.S. ********************************************************************************************** Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, EPA Sign MOU The dairy-checkoff funded Innovation Center announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Environmental Protection Agency. The center says the MOU will open doors for increased collaboration in areas of mutual interest and allow the agency to gain a deeper understanding and support for U.S. dairy farmers. It will also help the EPA understand the broader dairy community’s environmental sustainability efforts. The MOU formalizes a relationship that began in 2012 and officially announced during the fall meeting of the Dairy Sustainability Alliance. The MOU allows the EPA to participate as a member of the Alliance, which consists of more than 130 companies and organizations that collaborate on issues affecting the U.S. dairy industry. The Alliance also works to accelerate progress toward shared sustainability goals and contributes to the industry’s long-term viability. “The MOU is significant as it indicates a recognition of U.S. dairy’s leadership in environmental stewardship and brings greater support for creating a sustainable future that’s economically viable for U.S. dairy farmers and the dairy community,” says Barbara O’Brien, President of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “The MOU will explore mutually beneficial opportunities for dairy farms across the country to benefit from access to EPA resources.” ********************************************************************************************** Dairy Already Introducing Itself to New Leadership in Washington, D.C. Although it’s not been officially confirmed yet that Joe Biden is the new President, U.S. dairy is already working behind the scenes to make sure the industry remains top-of-mind for new officials in D.C. For example, the National Milk Producers Federation has already congratulated Joe Biden and reminded him that bipartisan solutions are the best solutions. The NMPF points out that a widely accepted policy is less likely to be tossed out the moment a different political party takes power. Michael Torrey, a long-time expert on farm legislation, says advocating at the federal level for dairy farmers will be crucial with new lawmakers set to join Congress and possibly a new president heading to the White House. “There are going to be a lot of new faces, there’s going to be a new philosophy, and going to be new leadership,” Torrey said to members of the Edge Dairy Farmers Cooperative. Dairy Report Dot Com says the challenge of helping lawmakers understand the complexity of issues in the dairy industry is growing. He points to the defeat of Collin Peterson as a potential challenge because the long-time Minnesota congressman understands dairy policy more than most do on either side of the political divide. ************************************************************************************ NCGA Submits Comments on Future Access to BT Technology The National Corn Growers Association submitted formal comments to the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure future access and continued success with the use of Bt technology. In September, the EPA published a proposal to update insect resistance management strategies for pests like corn earworm and fall armyworm. The agency went through a similar process several years ago for corn rootworm. “The proposal offered what the EPA is calling ‘complex mitigation strategies’ that would directly impact corn growers nationwide, not only in the south,” says Chad Wetzel, chair of the NCGA Production Technology Access Action Team. “EPA proposed phasing out certain Bt pyramids nationwide.” He says the NCGA doesn’t support that for multiple reasons, noting it would seriously limit grower seed selection and drastically increase the use of a select few Bt products, which would increase the risk of resistance development for those traits. The EPA also proposed an increase from five to ten percent for refuge in a bag product used across the Corn Belt. NCGA says it doesn’t support the idea because EPA didn’t provide any data or details on how this would impact resistance management. ********************************************************************************************** First Hemp Organization Officially Recognized by USDA Foreign Ag Service The National Industrial Hemp Council announced it received $200,000 in funds from the USDA’s Market Access Program. Those funds will support export market development for industrial hemp. “We are grateful for the USDA confidence and the recognition of NIHC as the industry leader in industrial hemp trade and marketing,” says Kevin Latner, Senior Vice President for Trade and Marketing. “Today’s announcement makes NIHC a trusted partner to USDA for hemp fiber, feed, food, and CBD companies looking to break down trade barriers in markets overseas.” Latner is the one responsible for implementing the market development program. NIHC programs will focus on Europe and China and include market research, trade policy, and trade facilitation. The global industrial hemp and products market was worth $11.1 billion in retail sales in 2019. With an annual growth rate of 52 percent, driven by continued strength in textiles, food and industrial uses, and hemp-derived CBD, the global market is forecast to be worth $89 billion by 2025.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Asia Pacific Nations Sign Trade Deal Bloomberg is reporting this week that several Asia Pacific nations including China, Japan and South Korea on Sunday signed the world's largest regional free trade agreement, encompassing nearly one-third of the world's population and gross domestic product. Top officials from 15 nations that also include Australia, New Zealand and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which was nearly a decade in the making. The deal was signed on the final day of the 37th ASEAN Summit hosted virtually by Vietnam. “The completion of negotiations is a strong message affirming ASEAN's role in supporting the multilateral trade system,” Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said ahead of the virtual signing ceremony. The agreement will contribute to “developing supply chains that have been disrupted due to the pandemic as well as supporting economic recovery,” he said. A minimum of six ASEAN countries in addition to three non-ASEAN partners must ratify RCEP for it to come into force, Singapore's Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing told reporters following the signing. Singapore plans to approve the deal “in the next few months,” he said. Supporters of the pact, which covers 2.2 billion people with a combined GDP of $26.2 trillion, said it will bolster pandemic-weakened economies by reducing tariffs, strengthening supply chains with common rules of origin, and codifying new e-commerce rules. Among the benefits of the agreement include the elimination of at least 92% of the tariffs on traded goods among participating countries, as well as stronger provisions to address non-tariff measures. Provisions also include “enhancements” in areas such as online consumer and personal information protection, transparency and paperless trading, according to Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry. It also includes simplified customs procedures while at least 65% of services sectors will be fully open with increased foreign shareholding limits. Negotiators pushed the deal across the finish line after India surprised participants late last year by abandoning the agreement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he pulled out over concerns about how RCEP would affect the livelihoods of Indians, particularly the most vulnerable. India, though, will be allowed to rejoin the trade pact. “The clause allowing India to join at a later date is symbolic and shows China's desire to build economic bridges with the region's third-largest economy,” said Shaun Roache, Asia Pacific chief economist at S&P Global Ratings. Whether RCEP changes regional dynamics in favor of China likely depends on the U.S. response, experts said. The agreement underscores how U.S. President Trump's 2017 decision to withdraw from a different Asia Pacific trade pact – the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP – diminished America's ability to offer a counterbalance to China's growing regional economic influence. That challenge is expected to shift to President-elect Joe Biden once he is officially named the winner of the Nov. 3 election. Still uncertain is how the Biden team will approach this and other potential trade deals and whether it will attempt to re-enter the 11-nation TPP. Nations participating in the new treaty see it hastening economic recovery from the global pandemic. For example, Australian farmers and businesses say they expect to benefit from “better export opportunities” under RCEP. There will be greater investment certainties for companies and gains for Australian providers within the financial services, education, health and engineering sectors, Bloomberg said. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “With one in five Australian jobs reliant on trade, the RCEP agreement will be crucial as Australia and the region begin to rebuild from the COVIDâ??19 pandemic.” The trade agreement will help Indonesia recover from the pandemic and possibly increase its GDP by 0.05% from 2021 to 2032, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said at a briefing. Citing a private study, he added that RCEP could boost exports by as much as 11% and investment by as much as 22% five years after its ratification. Japan too is looking for the pact to be a catalyst for its post-coronavirus economy, trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama told reporters. “Through the tariff removals, I believe there'll be a major impact on improving Japan's exports and making the region's supply chains more efficient,” he said. “I strongly believe we are building free and fair economic rules on data free flows and bans on demands for technology transfers, as well as the protection of intellectual property.” The agreement will make exports of participating countries more competitive and create an integrated market for China and regional nations, Singapore's Chan said. “Over the past years, there have been several ups and downs and it has certainly not been an easy journey,” he said. “At one point, the prospects of concluding the agreement were shaken by geopolitical and domestic preoccupations. We have all had to make difficult trade-offs to advance the negotiations.” So, we will see. The new Biden administration says that it will pursue stronger trade deals with China and likely with the Pacific region as well. How it will react to this new pact is among the uncertainties that will need to be defined and addressed in the weeks and months ahead—issues that should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


USDA Sets General CRP, CRP Grasslands Signup Efforts For 2021 A general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup will be held from January 4-February 12 and a CRP Grasslands signup will run from March 15-April 23, USDA's Farm Service Agency announced Thursday. As of September, there were 21.9 million acres enrolled in CRP with contracts on 5.36 million acres expiring as of September 30. Via the last general CRP signup, contracts on 3.4 million acres were approved with an October 1 starting date. USDA data shows another 1.2 million acres were approved for CRP Grasslands enrollment with 425,777 acres enrolled via continuous CRP signup efforts during Fiscal Year 2020. USDA has not indicated what the CRP acreage total is as of October, but it would appear that around 21.6 million acres are enrolled in the program.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


California Groups Back Rep. Costa To Lead House Ag Panel More than 60 California farm and ag groups have joined the California Farm Bureau Federation in backing Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., in his bid to become Chairman of the House Ag Committee. The California Farm Bureau earlier this week declared their backing of Costa who is seeking the top spot on the panel in the wake of current House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., losing his bid for re-election to the House. Costa ranks third on the panel in terms of seniority, behind Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., who is also seeking the gavel. Scott has picked up the endorsement of Peterson, which many view as a key backing to lead the panel.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders are apt to check South American weather forecasts early Monday and will pause at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has any new export sales to report. USDA's weekly report of export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CST, followed by the National Oilseeds Processors Association's estimate of soybean crush in October later Monday morning. CFTC's weekly data of trader positions will be released Monday afternoon and USDA's Crop Progress report is due out at 3 p.m. CST. Weather A band of light snow is in store for portions of the northern Midwest Monday. Other primary crop areas will be dry with favorable conditions for the later stages of harvest. Warm and dry conditions in the Southern Plains will further extract soil moisture from winter wheat areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 13, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Trade Policy Outlook When President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 and took his “America First” campaign into government, many of the world's pundits declared the end of the western-led trade order and globalization. Four years on, there are still plenty of thinkers who see reasons for gloom. However, Bloomberg asserts that “the reality” is also that the trading system looks remarkably resilient,” albeit a little wounded.” What exactly that means remains to be seen. But Bloomberg reports several things being discussed by key advisers, including that “dealing with China and its economic rise will color everything,” said Wendy Cutler, a veteran trade warrior who now leads the Asia Society Policy Institute. In addition, the Biden team believes that “manufacturing isn't going away as an American obsession.” The trade-transition team named this week “is replete with people with a background in manufacturing or the labor movement.” Jason Miller, the head of the team, once looked after manufacturing policy from the National Economic Council during the Obama administration, at a time when it had set a goal of doubling U.S. manufacturing exports. The report also notes that the current administration and economic generals such as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have “scrambled the American politics of trade, opened the door to a new suite of tactics and tariffs and brought to the fore what in many cases have been long-standing and bipartisan U.S. grievances. “The system's resilience should not be the end to a comforting story; it should be the starting point of a badly needed effort to reinforce and update the international order and address the real threats to its long-term viability,” Jake Sullivan, one of Biden's closest policy advisers, wrote in a 2018 Foreign Affairs article. The new team also will focus on “the importance of bringing home critical supply chains” and pledges to “build a strong industrial base,” Bloomberg says. These are policies that fit with the president-elect's plan to make sure the U.S. approaches its relationships with everyone from China to allies in Europe from a position of domestic economic strength. However, rather than relying on new defensive trade barriers as President Trump has done, the new policies are expected to hinge on encouraging investment at home via tax incentives and government spending on infrastructure and alternative energy to boost demand. The underlying idea is that a stronger, more confident U.S. — rather than a belligerent one — can turn around the narrative that it's a declining superpower, Bloomberg said. The new team is emphasizing that perhaps the top trade issue it faces is what to do about relationships with China, including decisions on whether to retain or lift tariffs and national security-driven bans on companies such as Chinese-owned Huawei Technologies Co., as well as whether to build on the current administration's “phase-one” deal with Beijing. Among these decisions is the question of whether to go down the “seemingly unlikely” path of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which doesn't include China. The TPP has long been seen by strategic thinkers in Washington as a way to strengthen the U.S. position in the Asia-Pacific and to help counter China's economic rise. President Trump abandoned the pact on his first full workday in office. Many Asian allies would love for the U.S. to come back. In addition, the new administration also must address a brewing trade war with Europe related to a long-standing dispute between Airbus SE and Boeing Co. over industrial subsidies and plans by France and other countries for new digital-service taxes aimed at American tech giants such as Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Facebook Inc. Attention will also turn toward negotiations with countries such as Kenya and a post-Brexit UK, though none of those appear close to a conclusion. Bloomberg also notes that President Trump and USTR Lighthizer have shown what's possible on Capitol Hill by prying at least parts of the Republican Party away from free-trade orthodoxy. For decades, Republicans carried trade agreements over the finish line allied with only a small number of moderate Democrats—alienating those in the Democratic Party who felt trade deals left too many U.S. workers behind. In the process of hammering out an updated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, Lighthizer won influential Democratic allies ranging from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. He also won over a decidedly pro-Biden labor movement. There are those who also see a lesson relearned on the pitfalls of protectionism, Bloomberg points out. Douglas Irwin, a Dartmouth College historian of U.S. trade policy, argues that future administrations are likely to pause before using tariffs again in the way the current administration has. “We had an experiment for four years about what it's like to use tariffs for all sorts of objectives, and I don't think it's going to be viewed as a success,” Irwin says. These questions include the uncertainty that will continue shaping investment and trade and which will remain even if the new president moves away from the use of tariffs. Add to that a pandemic that's caused many countries to look inward and the task rebuilding the global trade order “only grows,” and it indicates the coming rebuilding will require more than just physical repairs, Bloomberg says. So, we will see. Trade policy has long been a challenging area for U.S. producers who were highly skeptical of the current administration's “get tough” tariff policies aimed at important and growing ag markets — and it will continue to be an area that should be watched closely as efforts to implement proposed changes are considered, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 13, 2020 |


WOTUS Rule Revisit Expected By Biden Administration Revisiting the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule is part of coming Biden administration regulatory agenda, according to an analysis by Hogan Lovells. The Obama administration had issued a revision to WOTUS in 2015, which was the subject of extensive litigation. The Trump administration issued a repeal and revision of the Obama era rule, which has also drawn litigation for removing groundwater, ephemeral and intermittent streams, and certain agricultural operations from federal oversight. “The Biden administration will likely repeal the Trump regulation, but may modify the 2015 approach to stave off litigation exposure or seek a bipartisan solution in Congress,” the report stated. Some have downplayed that expectation, but this is now expected to be one of the areas focused on by the Biden administration. But any such effort will closely monitored by agriculture and they will no doubt spring to action to fight the effort if it is viewed as trying to reinstate the Obama-era plan.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 13, 2020 |


American Trust in Farmers Remains Strong A majority of adults in the U.S. view farmers’ sustainability practices positively, and an overwhelming majority of them trust farmers. Those findings are the results of a new public opinion poll taken by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The poll found that 58 percent of the respondents are positive about the sustainability practices of America’s farmers, and that agreement comes from a majority of adults across different demographic groups. Almost nine in ten adults (88%) trust U.S. farmers, which is a four percent increase from Farm Bureau’s June polling. That likely comes from evidence that the public recognizes that the food supply chain challenges brought on by COVID-19 were not within the control of farmers and ranchers. The survey also looked into public attitudes about the environmental sustainability achievements of farmers and ranchers, as well as the future direction for advancing to climate-smart farming. Overall, the public agrees farmers shouldn’t have to bear the financial burden alone. More than eight in ten Americans were impressed to find out that the Environmental Protection Agency and USDA both have data showing that farmers have put 140 million acres of land into conservation programs. “Americans have a high level of trust in farmers, and they understand that we’re committed to protecting the soil, air, and water,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. ********************************************************************************************** EU-UK Trade Deal Likely Will Miss the Deadline Trade negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom seem likely to miss the mid-November deadline for a new Brexit deal. Reuters reports that after Britain left the European Union in January, a status-quo transition period will expire at the end of the year. The talks on new trade rules that begin in 2021 haven’t yielded results yet. “By moving into next week, the timelines will start to get tight,” says Irish Foreign Trade Minister Simon Coveney. “There aren’t many days left in the year, and if we don’t get a deal next week, we may have some real problems.” Now that the stakes are running even higher, an EU diplomat tells Reuters that, “The deadlines are increasingly tight. But the EU cannot make the timetable take precedence over its priority interests.” If the two sides don’t agree, trade rifts will develop between the world’s biggest trading bloc of 450 million consumers and the sixth-biggest economy. That would only deepen the economic damage caused by the coronavirus in Europe during 2020. “it’s quite possible this could fall apart,” Coveney says, “but if you’re asking me to call it, I think we are more likely to get the deal than not.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Commercial Wheat Sales Ahead of Last Year’s Pace USDA estimates that the U.S. will export 26.5 million metric tons of wheat in the 2020-2021 marketing year, which is one percent ahead of the pace in 2019 if realized. However, four months into the marketing year, total U.S. wheat commercial sales are 12 percent ahead of last year’s pace at 16.8 million metric tons and 15 percent ahead of the five-year average. To date, sales of hard red winter wheat, hard red spring wheat, and soft and hard white wheat are significantly ahead of last year’s pace. Sales of soft red winter wheat and durum lag behind the pace set in the 2019-2020 marketing year. Successes in individual markets like China and Brazil brought on by policy changes and follow-on trade and technical service by the U.S. Wheat Associates are supporting overall sales. Competitive pricing for U.S. wheat earlier in the current marketing year helped to fuel a faster import pace, even by traditionally strong U.S. wheat customers like the Philippines and South Korea. Total hard red winter wheat sales are 12 percent ahead of last year at 6.12 MMT, helped out by export sales to Brazil that are almost two times greater than they were at the same time last year. Total HRS export sales are 15 percent higher than last year. ********************************************************************************************** Fudge Won’t Pursue House Ag Chair; Would Accept Ag Secretary Position Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge endorsed Georgia Democrat David Scott’s bid to chair the House Agriculture Committee, shooting down speculation that she wanted that position. However, Cleveland Dot Com says she would be honored to serve as the Secretary of Agriculture in Joe Biden’s administration. Fudge frequently appears on a list of potential ag secretaries along with prospects like former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, current Democrats Chellie Pingree of Maine, and Cheri Bustos of Illinois, as well as the state ag secretaries in California and Delaware. Fudge decided to back Scott for the Ag Committee’s top spot because he’s second in seniority behind the outgoing chair, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, who lost his re-election bid. Fudge is fourth in seniority on the Ag Committee and currently chairs the Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Affairs subcommittee. She’s also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, as is Scott. Committee assignments and chairmanships in Congress get reshuffled after every election to replace departing members and accommodate new ones. Because Democrats will remain in control of the House of Representatives, Democrats will continue to chair all the committees. ************************************************************************************ CFAP Program Deadline is a Month Away The USDA’s Farm Service Agency is reminding farmers and ranchers that the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 is December 11. The program provides direct relief to producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs due to COVID-19. “Producers have one more month to get their applications in for this important relief program,” says Richard Fordyce, Farm Service Agency Administrator. “Applying is simple and our staff is available to assist every step of the way.” CFAP 2 will provide up to $14 billion to eligible producers of certain row crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, aquaculture, and more. All of the eligible commodities, payment rates, and calculations can be found at www.farmers.gov/cfap. CFAP 2 is a separate program from the first iteration of the program and interested producers must complete a new application to be eligible for payment under CFAP 2. Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee that’s ready to offer general assistance.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


Farm Tractor Sales Stay Positive in the U.S. and Canada Overall farm tractor unit sales continued to grow across North America in October despite a small pause in the larger unit sales in Canada. The latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says that total farm tractor sales in the U.S. rose 18 percent in October compared to 2019, while self-propelled combine sales in the U.S. grew almost 15 percent. Four-wheel-drive unit sales in the U.S. grew for the third straight month in October, up almost 23 percent to 635 units, putting year-to-date segment sales in the black for the first time this year at one percent higher. Sales of 100-plus horsepower equipment grew 9.7 percent during October, finally bringing the bigger units just into positive territory at .2 percent higher year-to-date. Total year-to-date farm tractors out the door are up 15 percent in 2020, while combine sales are now up 5.5 percent on the year. “We’re glad to see the aggregate North American tractor and combine sales stay above the five-year trend line,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at AEM. “These latest numbers, combined with the recent bump in commodity prices, point to the potential for a strong finish to equipment sales in 2020.” ********************************************************************************************** Farm Equipment Dealers Forecast Growth in 2021 The recent Ag Equipment Intelligence/Farm Equipment 2021 Dealer Business Outlook and Trends survey shows some good news. Dealers not only beat last year’s estimates for profitability in 2020, but they’re now predicting greater revenue growth in 2021 than they did for this year. Farm Equipment magazine says when they examined the results of the survey, it clearly showed that more dealers are shifting away from a negative outlook on new equipment revenue. Over 42 percent of the dealers indicated that they see their new equipment revenue increasing by at least two percent in 2021, slightly more than the 41 percent in 2019 who forecasted increased new equipment revenue for 2020. Dealers forecasting an increase of eight percent or more in the next year came in at 8.7 percent of the respondents. That’s still more than double the 3.4 percent who forecast the same amount of increase in 2020. Those forecasting a two-to-seven percent increase dropped from just over 38 percent in last year’s survey to 33.7 percent this year. The most notable change comes from those forecasting little to no change in new equipment revenue, which came in at 46 percent of the respondents in this year’s survey. That surpasses the levels in both 2018 and 2019. ********************************************************************************************** Peterson Endorses Scott for House Ag Chairman Current House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson has made a recommendation for his successor. He’s endorsed Georgia Democrat David Scott as the next chairman. In a letter to Scott, Peterson wrote that he’s a supporter of the seniority system. Peterson also says he was happy to follow Kika (KEE-kah) de la Garza of Texas, who was the first Hispanic Chair of the committee. “It will be another important milestone to have the first African-American chair of the committee,” Peterson says in the letter. Scott is second in seniority on the committee after Peterson, who lost in his re-election race. In the meantime, House Democrats will begin the process of choosing committee chairs for the 117th Congress next week, including the House Agriculture Committee’s top spot. However, the Hagstrom Report says the new chairs won’t get confirmed until early January, according to the Rules of the Democratic Caucus and congressional staff. Scott and California Democrat Jim Costa have both said they will run for the job. While Scott is the second-most tenured member of the committee, Costa is right behind him as the third longest-serving member. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says that both parties will begin their leadership election process next week, while newly elected members take part in orientation. ********************************************************************************************** European Union puts Tariffs on U.S. Goods, Including Ag Products The European Union said earlier this week it will impose tariffs on up to four billion dollars’ worth of U.S. goods and services, including some agricultural imports. The move comes out of a dispute over U.S. assistance for Boeing, which is a bitter rival to Europe’s Airbus. News Tribune Dot Com says European trade ministers agreed on the move a few weeks after international arbitrators gave the EU the go-ahead for implementing the tariffs. The World Trade Organization ruled that some of the U.S. support for Boeing was illegal and said the EU could make up for that with a limited amount of duties on U.S. trade. The tariffs are officially in effect on Tuesday. The EU Commission’s Executive Vice President says, “Regrettably, despite our best efforts and due to the lack of progress from the U.S. side, we can confirm that the European Union will exercise our rights and impose the countermeasures.” It was a year ago that the WTO ruled similarly for the United States, allowing it to impose duties on EU goods worth up to $7.5 billion because of European support for Airbus. The EU Trade Commission is calling on the U.S. to agree that both sides will drop their countermeasures immediately so that they can put the issue behind them. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Updated Conservation Practice Standards The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has published a new list of updates to its National Conservation Practice Standards. The revisions include 58 standards that have been updated or revised since August. The 2018 Farm Bill required NRCS to review all 169 of its national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies. “NRCS is committed to efficiently and effectively implementing the Farm Bill and delivering on our promise to America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners,” says Acting NRCS Chief Kevin Norton. “These practices are the building blocks of conservation, and they are science-based and site-specific. We took a hard look at our existing practices on the books, looking for opportunities to improve flexibility and integrate technology.” The National Conservation Practice Standards provide guidelines for planning, designing, installing, operating, and maintaining conservation practices. The 58 revised standards cover a wide range of conservation practices, including irrigation water management, heavy use area protection, and compositing facilities. NRCS is also adding two conservation practices dealing with wastewater treatment and wildlife habitat planning. More information on the National Conservation Practice Standards is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov or your local NRCS office. ********************************************************************************************** Nebraska Farmer Wins #RootedInAg Contest Hannah Borg of Wakefield, Nebraska, is the winner of Syngenta’s 2020 #RootedInAg Contest grand prize winner. The 22-year-old was chosen from a large pool of applicants and had to beat two other finalists to win the honor. The annual competition from Syngenta invites growers and other ag industry professionals across the nation to describe in their submission entry the person who most nourished their agricultural roots. In her video entry, Borg pays tribute to the matriarch of their sixth-generation family farm – her 86-year-old grandmother, Lois Borg. “Grandma is the perfect mix of grace and grit,” Hannah says. “I’ve always admired how she lives her life and her role in our family. She always knows what’s happening on the farm and never turns down the opportunity to ride along on any kind of trip.” Borg says her grandmother passed down many stories over the years and that Lois inspires her every day. The 2020 contest saw the largest number of submissions in its seven-year history. Pam Caraway, Syngenta’s marketing communications lead, says that made it their most difficult contest to rank. “Thanks to everybody who shared their stories,” she said. “Each submission was a delight to read or watch.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


Washington Insider: 2020 Lame Duck Policy Fights Begin There is growing political tension in Washington on many fronts this week as the results of the election gradually sorted out—and new policies considered and debated. With regard to efforts to fight impacts of the coronavirus, Bloomberg is reporting that the U.S. Senate's top Republican and Democrat are continuing to battle “over the size of fiscal stimulus needed to support the economy,” and that the dispute is dimming any hopes for an immediate package as lawmakers reconvene following the election. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., argues that Congress should pass a “limited” stimulus bill by year-end, in the wake of positive data on a slide in unemployment and after encouraging news on a COVID-19 vaccine. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., countered that Republicans “have proposed totally inadequate solutions” on COVID-19 relief. In addition, news from Pfizer Inc. that its experimental vaccine might be 90% effective introduced a fresh dynamic into the outlook for stimulus – and spurred a rally in U.S. equities on Monday. While hailing the development, president-elect Joe Biden warned that the U.S. still faces a “dark winter” with the coronavirus continuing to spread. “That (virus) battle still takes time – it's an eternity to wait until February, let alone the time it will take to distribute a vaccine fully,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist for Grant Thornton LLP. Delays in passing another stimulus risk damaging the economy's capacity to grow for years to come as more people slip into long-term unemployment, small businesses collapse and families postpone or give up on education, she said. For the moment, the American economic recovery has continued even with the expiration of fiscal support, Bloomberg said. The jobless rate fell by a percentage point, to 6.9% in October, data showed Friday. “It turns out the news is a whole lot better” lately, McConnell said on the Senate floor. “I hope our Democratic colleagues will finally put aside their all-or-nothing obstruction and let the targeted pandemic relief – targeted relief is what we need – let it move forward.” McConnell said that the Senate should pass a relief bill in the post-election congressional session, which began Monday and is slated to end in mid-December. “To be clear, our work is not finished. Too many Americans are still suffering economically,” he said. Senate Republicans have supported a $500 billion virus package, without $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals or aid to states and local governments. However, Schumer called on Republicans to pursue a “bipartisan solution” rather than the stunts of recent months. House and Senate Democrats continue to push for a $2.4 trillion measure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that a smaller bill “doesn't appeal to me at all.” “That isn't something we should be looking at,” she said. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday called on Congress to complete a package this year as the economy has yet to recoup losses that are “fallout” from COVID-19. The U.S. still has more than 11 million workers unemployed, it said. “We have not yet beaten the coronavirus or achieved the economic recovery we all desire. Our leaders have wasted five months already. They can't waste another three,” chamber vice president Neil Bradley said in a statement. One vehicle for at least some COVID-19 assistance is a spending bill needed to avoid the federal government shutting down on Dec. 11, when current funding runs out. Pelosi said Friday that rather than a short-term stopgap measure she favored an omnibus measure to complete the appropriations process for the fiscal year through next September. Extended unemployment benefits and pandemic jobless benefits for gig workers are set to expire at the end of the year. With airlines and small businesses under mounting pressure, it will be hard for Congress to do nothing, said Alec Phillips, chief U.S. political economist for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Phillips argued that it's “reasonably likely” Congress will pass additional stimulus in negotiations before the Dec. 11 expiration of federal funding. Senators' views on the outlook differed, Bloomberg said. Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said about wrapping COVID-19 relief into spending bills: “There's been talk about that, but we haven't seen that. It might not be a bad idea if we can agree on stimulus.” At the same time, Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said getting a stimulus deal in the lame duck session will be “hard.” “Both sides are saying they want one but both sides are saying they only want the one they want,” he said. So, we will see. Right now, the outcome of the elections is largely settled, although the timing and other details of the transfer remain in dispute and may continue to be for some time. These are important fights and should be watched closely by producers and others as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


Biden Ag Transition Team The Biden transition team for USDA will be led by Robert Bonnie, who was a senior adviser to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack during President Obama's first term and was undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at USDA for Obama's second term. Before joining USDA, Bonnie was vice president for land conservation at the Environmental Defense Fund, focused on incentives to reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for stewardship activities on private lands. The list also includes several volunteers such as Jonathan Coppess of the University of Illinois who was also Farm Service Agency administrator during the Obama administration. Others include Nicholas Anthis, University of California; Sanah Baig, The Good Food Institute; Brooke Barron, Office of the Speaker, Maine State Legislature; Kumar Chandran, FoodCorps; Andrea Delgado, UFW Foundation; Debra Eschmeyer, Arizona State University; Meryl Harrell, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards; LaQuita Honeysucker, The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; John Padalino, Bandera Electric Cooperative; Gregory Parham, USDA (retired); Lisa Pino, State of New York, Department of Health; Amy Pitelka, Barker Pitelka PLLC; Jeffrey Prieto, Los Angeles Community College District; Audrey Rowe, self-employed; and Corey Then, Moneta Group. Some on the transition teams can end up serving in roles in cabinet agencies under the new administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


USDA Ups Forecast of China Corn Imports USDA on Tuesday increased its China's corn import estimate, to 13 million metric tons, from 7 million metric tons previously. The level, however, is still below other predictions out there, including the USDA ag attache office at 22 mmt. USDA's World Board said, “For China, while the National Development and Reform Commission has not made any public statements indicating additional corn import quota has been allocated, shipment data for exporting countries through early November indicates they will exceed their tariff rate quota level of 7.2 (mmt).” USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) later on Tuesday noted, “China's imports of coarse grains for 2020/21 are forecast higher this month, mirroring the level seen in 2014-15 when imports spiked due to strong prices in the domestic market. The rise for 2020/21 is supported by strong recovery in the swine sector, which has been driving feed demand higher. Corn prices in the domestic market have rallied since February, and in October, the national price averaged around $362 per ton, the highest since August 2015.” FAS ­also noted forecast rise in corn imports by China is “partly based on China Customs Statistics and U.S. Grain Inspections data through early November, which indicate that imports will far exceed the tariff-rate quota (TRQ) level of 7.2 mmt in calendar year 2020. There have been no public statements that would indicate that additional quota has been allocated by the National Development Reform Commission, the authority governing the TRQs.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday morning reports include weekly U.S. jobless claims, the October consumer price index and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST. USDA's weekly export sales report is moved to Friday, due to Veterans Day. At 10 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly report of energy inventories, including ethanol production. The U.S. Treasury will report on the federal budget at 1 p.m. CST. Weather Dry conditions are in store for all primary crop areas Thursday. This combination favors the final stage of harvest along with offering favorable livestock and transportation conditions.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


Latest WASDE Report Shows Lower 2020 Corn and Soybean Production The latest World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates Report shows lower U.S. corn and soybean production in 2020. Corn production is forecast at 14.5 billion bushels, down 215 million from the previous forecasting, and includes a reduction in yield to 175.8 bushels per acre. With supply dropping and usage increasing, corn ending stocks in 2020-2021 will drop 465 million bushels to 1.7 billion, which would be the lowest on-hand since 2013-2014. The season-average corn price is up 40 cents to $4 a bushel. Soybean production is forecast at 4.17 billion bushels, a 98 million bushel drop on lower yields. Because of lower production, soybean ending stocks are projected at 190 million bushels, 100 million lower than last month. That would be the lowest level in the past seven years if the projection is realized. The U.S. season-average soybean price for 2020-2021 is forecast at $10.40 a bushel, up 40 cents from the previous month. The 2020-2021 wheat outlook predicts stable supplies, higher domestic use, unchanged exports, and reduced ending stocks. The projected 2020-2021 ending stocks are reduced by six million bushels, coming in at 877 million, which is 15 percent lower than last year. The season-average farm price for wheat is unchanged at $4.70 a bushel. ********************************************************************************************** Hoeven Highlights Ag Appropriations Bill as Process Begins Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chair John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican, says the Senate version of the fiscal year 2021 Ag appropriations Bill fully funds farm loan programs and supports rural innovation. It will also bolster future agricultural research. Hoeven tells the Hagstrom Report that, “As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, we’ve worked to put together a strong agriculture funding bill that provides our farmers and ranchers with the support they need during these challenging times.” Among the many provisions in the bill, the legislation will maintain support for crop insurance and other farm bill programs. It will also increase funding for farm direct, guaranteed, and emergency loans to meet the expected demand. Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby says he was disappointed that Republicans chose to cancel committee markups for the fiscal year 2021 bills and that the bills weren’t considered by the full Senate. “That eliminated the chance for members to offer amendments,” Leahy says. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he intends to pass all appropriations bills before December 11, even though the Senate hasn’t passed a single appropriations bill yet. ********************************************************************************************** Colorado Corn Groups Go Their Separate Ways The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee made an unexpected announcement that the Colorado Corn Growers Association’s Executive Officer Team has decided to end the partnership between the two organizations. The split is effective immediately. A CCAC news release says they had hopes of renewing the partnership to continue moving Colorado Corn forward together, but the CCGA Executive Officer Team had “different intentions.” The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee was established thirty years ago to manage a one-penny-per-bushel assessment collected by the first handlers of sales of corn in the state. The committee invests the checkoff dollars on things like research, market development, as well as the outreach and education efforts on behalf of the state’s corn producers. The administrative committee says it is “committed to continuing to manage Colorado’s corn checkoff dollars and will continue to invest in the same projects it always has to benefit corn producers across Colorado. We, the CCAC Executive Committee, along with the entire CCAC Board of Directors and staff, will continue to serve all corn producers in the state of Colorado now and in the future.” ********************************************************************************************** NPB Launches New Tool for Protection Against Foreign Animal Disease Fallout The National Pork Board launched a new tool called AgView. It’s a brand-new technology solution to help the U.S. pork industry respond faster than ever before possible in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak. The web-based tool will help producers easily share their farm’s Foreign Animal Disease status updates and pig movement data with state animal health officials. The opt-in, no-fee technology is funded by the Pork Checkoff, and it will allow for contact-tracing of infected animals to help rapidly contain or regionalize a potential foreign animal disease outbreak. While any disease outbreak on even a single farm would be devastating, the potential collective losses are staggering. An Iowa State University study says an outbreak of African Swine Fever would cost the pork industry $50 billion over 10 years. “When pork producers adopt AgView, they are not only helping to protect their farms, but also the entire industry,” says Pork Board CEO Bill Even. “COVID-19 taught us the best way to recover from a significant supply chain disruption, which a foreign animal disease outbreak would be, is through real-time information, collaboration, and a common data set to inform decision making.” For more information, producers can go to www.pork.org/agview. ************************************************************************************ McDonald’s Enters the Plant-Based Burger Market McDonald’s is entering the meatless burger battle. The fast-food giant says it’s developed a new plant-based offering called the McPlant. Tests of the burger will happen in some markets around the world in 2021. It may not be McDonald’s only foray into meatless options, either. “McPlant Is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s,” says Ian Borden, International President. “In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products, including burgers, chicken substitutes, and breakfast sandwiches.” USA Today says McDonald’s is trailing many of its competitors in launching a plant-based burger in America. Burger King launched the Impossible Whopper using a plant-based patty from food startup company Impossible Foods. Other chains like Carl’s Jr. and Del Taco have also added plant-based menu items. “There are other burgers out there, but the McPlant delivers our iconic taste in a sink-your-teeth-in kind of sandwich,” McDonald’s says in a blog post. “It’s made with a juicy, plant-based patty and served on a warm sesame seed bun with all the classic toppings.” Borden says some markets will test the burger next year. The company didn’t not say whether the vegan-friendly burger will arrive in the U.S., nor give a potential timeline on the possibility. *****************************************t***************************************************** Fields-of-Corn Photo Shoot Deadline is Approaching Time is running out to submit your photos in the Fields-of-Corn Photo Contest. It’s the seventh year the National Corn Growers Association has put on the photo contest, with the upcoming deadline to submit entries on November 30. “We added two new categories this year, which are Livestock and Farm Pets,” says NCGA Graphic Communications Manager Beth Musgrove. “In the past, the contest has received many submissions of livestock, and since the animal ag industry is the largest customer of corn, it made sense to have that as a category.” She says because farm pets are a vital part of every operation, it was important to include them too. The single, most popular photo with the most Facebook “likes” will win a $500 prize. First, second and third-place finishers in each of the eight categories will get $300, $200, and $100, respectively. As in previous years, judges will select a single Grand Prize winner to get the $500 prize. Fields-of-Corn.com was first launched in 2014 to help tell the story of farming field corn in America. Since its start, NCGA has collected more than 2,000 photos across ten categories and awarded more than one hundred cash prizes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


Washington Insider: EU to Impose New Tariffs on US Products The New York Times – and others – are reporting this week that the European Union said Monday that it would begin imposing sweeping tariffs on around $4 billion worth of American aircraft, food, drinks and other products beginning Tuesday. The action was authorized by the World Trade Organization last month in retaliation for “years of illegal subsidies given to Boeing.” The decision, which stems from a 16-year-old dispute, comes after the U.S. administration last year decided to impose tariffs on as much as $7.5 billion in European exports annually in retaliation for illegal subsidies given to the European airplane maker Airbus, Boeing's main rival. European officials, however, say they are hoping for a settlement between the two countries that would end to the tit-for-tat tariffs once and for all, perhaps even before President Donald Trump leaves office on Jan. 20 to make way for president-elect Joe Biden, according to a European Union official. The European tariffs include a 15 percent tax on large civilian aircraft and 25 percent on products including chocolate, frozen orange juice, tomato ketchup, rum and vodka, video game consoles and exercise equipment. Last year, the United States imposed tariffs on European planes, wine, cheese and other items. It remains to be seen if the European tariffs will encourage the United States to negotiate — or if they further inflame a trans-Atlantic trade spat where the Trump administration has vowed not to bend. Last month, Trump threatened retaliation if the European Union went ahead with its levies. “If they strike back, then we'll strike back harder than they'll strike. They don't want to do it,” Mr. Trump told reporters. In a statement Monday afternoon, Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, said the U.S. “is disappointed” by the European decision. “The alleged subsidy to Boeing was repealed seven months ago,” Lighthizer said, referring to a Washington State tax break that was rescinded last spring. “The EU has long proclaimed its commitment to following WTO rules, but today's announcement shows they do so only when convenient to them.” Boeing and Airbus have taken steps to remove subsidies and fiscal support that had been deemed illegal by the WTO, opening the door to both sides entering into a negotiated settlement quickly, the Times said. Boeing said that it was “disappointing and surprising” that the European Union had decided to impose the tariffs, saying that the burden would eventually fall on Europe-based workers, suppliers and customers as well. “Instead of escalating this any further, we hope that Airbus and the EU will take meaningful action to resolve this trade dispute,” the statement said. At a media briefing in Brussels, Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice president of the European Commission, called on the United States to come to the table and urged both sides to “drop existing countermeasures with immediate effect so we can quickly put this issue behind us.” Removing the tariffs “would represent a strong win-win for both sides,” he said, and Peter Altmaier, Germany's federal minister for economic affairs, added that Europe was “ready at any time to talk to the existing or new U.S. administration and withdraw” the tariffs. Still, the Times concludes that any discussions, should they take place, may not be easy. Both sides say they want to avoid inflaming a trade war, but a stumbling point is a standing demand by the Trump administration that Europe repay previous subsidies received by Airbus, the European official said. The WTO rulings require only that companies halt current illegal financial support – not repay previous subsidies. And it was not immediately clear whether the Trump administration would be interested in negotiating a settlement before Biden takes office. In a strongly worded statement last month, Lighthizer argued that the European Union had no lawful basis to impose the tariffs and that any move by Europe to do so would “force a U.S. response,” potentially signaling that the United States could impose more tariffs in an attempt to compel the European Union to bend. He added that the United States was determined to find a resolution to the dispute, but that it was still waiting for the European Union to provide a response to a previous U.S. proposal. Chris Swonger, the president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said the tariffs would be a “major blow to the U.S. spirits industry,” which is struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic. The European Union already imposed levies on American whiskey in 2018 as retaliation for Mr. Trump's tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum. Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, said Europe has often used unjustified trade tactics to limit competition from U.S. agriculture, including dairy. Mulhern delved into the "egregious" tactic of geographical indicators that Europe uses to restrict U.S. cheeses. “As the U.S. works to hold Europe accountable to its WTO obligations, U.S. retaliatory tariffs against EU dairy products continue to play a key role in bringing Europe to the negotiating table and compelling them to fulfill their trade commitments," Mulhern said. "The EU's restrictive trade policies that have resulted in a one-way flow of agriculture trade, and in particular dairy trade, to Europe is something that both the current and future Administrations need to keep in mind. In fact, the trade deficit between the EU and U.S. continues to widen as the EU uses unjustified trade tactics to erode U.S. market access and limit fair competition." The United States and Europe have been arguing for more than a decade about the subsidies and other kinds of special financing that the European Union has given Airbus and that the United States has given Boeing. Both sides have argued that the support amounted to illegal financial aid that allowed each plane maker to sell its products at unfairly low prices around the world, stifling competition and sales. So, we will see. Observers suggest that the new U.S. administration will look more actively to new international markets, but that such a shift will take time to define and impose. In the meantime, the transition itself appears to be increasingly difficult and slow-moving. Clearly, the shifts involved are likely to be highly important to producers and should be watched closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


RFS, SRE Decisions Still Pending EPA's initial proposed levels for the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) landed at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in mid-May and they are still showing as being under review. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler had signaled the proposed levels were being revised in the wake of the COVID-19 situation. That discussion is still ongoing, Wheeler told AgriTalk November 2. “The problem is trying to figure out what the markets are going to do,” Wheeler said, including what the Department of Energy projects on driving miles. EPA and DOE are looking at this year's data, he noted, pointing out that with COVID it is difficult to determine where levels should be as the agency wants to set “realistic numbers,” Wheeler said, noting most of the focus is on advanced biofuel levels. “That's an active conversation between us and the Department of Energy, but we're looking at all government data, trying to figure out what the right numbers are.” He largely deflected a question on the situation for 2022, the last year covered by the current RFS authority, stating, “We're trying to make sure we get the 2021 [RFS levels] set in time.” But Wheeler pointed out relative to 2022 that they have not really started working on that yet but did note that actions by California to go with all-electric vehicles are issues that have to be considered ahead. The reference to getting the 2021 RFS levels set in time is relative to the statutory deadline of finalizing the levels by November 30. That has been a focal point by the administration of meeting that deadline in past years. As for the small refinery exemptions (SREs) that have been a hot-button issue, Wheeler signaled DOE has not yet sent back their recommendations on the 17 remaining gap-year requests and EPA cannot make decisions on those. Plus, the Supreme Court has been asked to assess the 10th Circuit Court decision and Wheeler signaled he did not want to make decisions only to have the court order a different decision.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


Rep. Peterson Puts Support Behind Davis to Head Ag Panel House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., defeated in his bid for another term in office, has thrown his support behind Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., to be the next leader of the panel. Noting he firmly believes in the seniority system for choosing the leaders of committees, Peterson said in a letter to Davis, “You have remained a permanent member of the Ag Committee since coming to Congress, where you have worked tirelessly to protect our nutrition program safety net, fought for our 1890 Institutions, and other HBCUs, ensuring opportunities and assistance for minority students who want to get involved in agriculture-related fields, and make sure that there is an adequate safety net for our specialty crop, commodity crop and livestock producers.” While noting that the two “haven't always agreed on every issue,” Peterson said they have been able to work together “to find a path forward on those issues over the years.” Peterson said he followed Rep. Kika de la Garza, D-Texas, the first Hispanic panel leader and “it will be another important milestone to have the first African-American Chair.” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., is also seeking support of Democratic members of the panel to become the Chair.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday is Veterans Day and U.S. futures markets are open, but U.S. government offices will be closed and there are no official reports on the docket. The latest weather forecasts will be watched and traders will likely still be influenced by Tuesday's new lower-than-expected corn and soybean estimates from USDA. Weather Dry conditions will cover most of the central U.S. Wednesday, with periods of snow in the northwestern Plains and rain in the Southeast. Temperatures will have a wide range from cold north to very warm southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


Ag Groups Respond to Presidential Election Results Farm groups congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his called victory while seeking to shape the roadmap for the future. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, "President-elect Biden will be presented with opportunities to improve the lives of rural Americans and this nation's farmers and ranchers." For agriculture, AFBF says the priorities include expanding trade and market access, rural broadband, addressing the farm labor shortage and strengthening the farm bill. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “The last four years haven’t been too kind to family farmers and ranchers.” Larew adds, “We stand ready to work with his administration to ensure that its policies and programs adequately represent the interests of family farmers and rural communities.” In congratulating the incoming administration, Growth Energy says biofuels are the most affordable and effective solution available now to take climate action, adding “the new administration must harness those environmental and economic benefits by strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard.” ************************************************************************************ Climate Change a Priority for Biden-Harris Administration The Biden-Harris administration will focus on climate change. On the incoming administration’s transition website, www.buildbackbetter.com, climate change is listed as one of four priorities. The website states, "we have the opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable economy — one that will put the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050.” Specific to agriculture, the administration plans to create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience and conservation. President-elect Biden's climate plan also calls for the U.S. to reenter the Paris Climate Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to no more than two degrees Celsius. The plan also includes rebuilding infrastructure, including broadband, electric vehicles, zero-emissions transit, and a move to clean, American made electricity. Additionally, the plan calls for upgrading buildings and homes to be more energy-efficient, and ensuring that environmental justice is a key consideration for the future. Other listed priorities include COVID-19 recovery, economic recovery and racial equity. ************************************************************************************ American Farmland Trust Shares Transition Recommendations American Farmland Trust has outlined five policy recommendations to ensure the nation’s agricultural land remains available to produce food and help fight climate change. The recommendations are focused on the Department of Agriculture under the upcoming Joe Biden administration. Broadly, the organization says the policies address farmland protection and viability, farmland access for the next generation of farmers and ranchers and regenerative agriculture to “harness agriculture’s ability to fight climate change and become more resilient to its impacts.” The recommendations include a National Cover Crop Initiative, establishing the Commission on Farm Transitions, and maximizing the potential of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program's Agricultural Land Easements. Additionally, the recommendations call for the administration to strengthen the Farmland Protection Policy Act and create a debt for the Working Lands Initiative. Tim Fink, AFT policy director, says the recommendations are just a starting point. Fink adds, “We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and the new Congress to achieve lasting solutions.” ************************************************************************************ Lame-Duck Session Brings Hope of More COVID Relief for Agriculture With the election over and a lame-duck Congress getting to work this week, agriculture's attention turns to the potential of more COVID-19 relief. The Senate is back in session this week. The House will return next week. There is optimism that both chambers can reach an agreement and pass more coronavirus aid. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel indicated the Senate would get to work on creating another coronavirus package. What the package may include and if agriculture relief will be part of the plan remains in question. However, the biggest priority for lawmakers will be funding the federal government. The current funding legislation ends December 11. Last week, McConnell stated that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had agreed to work on a budget bill that would provide funding for the federal government through September 30, 2021, the end of the current fiscal year. Without action by December 11, the federal government will face a partial shutdown. ************************************************************************************ Pork Cutout Futures Now Available for Trading CME Group Pork Cutout futures and options are now live and available for trading. Announced earlier this fall, the Pork Cutout futures and options are designed to give the U.S. pork industry and export markets tailored risk-management tools on the cutout. The contracts are cash-settled to the CME Pork Cutout Index and complement CME Lean Hog futures and options. CME Group says arrangements between hog producers and packers or processors today are diverse and ever-evolving. Once based almost exclusively on the value of live hogs, many agreements now pay greater attention on prices further down the value chain. 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 are quoted in U.S. cents per pound and have a contract size of 40,000 pounds. ************************************************************************************ Injuries and Illnesses in Poultry Processing Fall Below All Manufacturing On the job illnesses and injuries in the poultry processing sector has fallen below all manufacturing. This is the first time the poultry sector scored better than manufacturing since the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics began recording injuries and illnesses information in 1994. The total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate for 2019 was 3.2 cases per 100 full-time workers annually, down from 3.5 in 2018. The poultry industry’s rate of 3.2 was below the rate of 5.1 for similar agricultural industries in terms of injuries per 100 full-time workers and lower than the rate of 4.0 for the entire food manufacturing sector and all of manufacturing at 3.3. Injury and illness rates within the poultry sector’s slaughter and processing workforce has fallen by 86 percent over the last 25 years and continues to decline. The Joint Industry Safety and Health Council, which included the National Chicken Council, stated the data, “acknowledges the excellent safety performance achievements the poultry industry has accomplished.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


Washington Insider: President Elect Presses Ahead as Trump Digs In President-elect Joe Biden is moving forward to begin the transition as President Donald Trump continues to fight against his losses. Biden is largely ignoring Trump's efforts to undermine his victory, Bloomberg reports. He is methodically moving forward moving to launch his transition and is working to identify potential appointees to White House staff jobs. He “seemed to acknowledge the sharp partisan divide in pledging to work for those who didn't vote for him, but continues to say he expects a good working relationship with Republicans in Congress,” Bloomberg said. Biden has so far won 290 Electoral College votes, according to the Associated Press, “20 more than required to clinch the nomination.” However, none of that has stopped Trump, who continues to question the results and to fire off unfounded allegations of “widespread voting irregularities” and to alternate between claiming victory and saying he'd been robbed of a win. Trump's reaction has “frozen” Republican officeholders, Bloomberg says. Few have so far acknowledged the win, though they aren't fully embracing Trump's position. White House staff have faced a leadership vacuum, fueled by another apparent coronavirus outbreak with Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, among those now battling the virus. Tellingly, the administrator of the General Services Administration, a Trump appointee, has so far not formally acknowledged Biden's win, as required under the 57-year-old Presidential Transition Act. Certification by the GSA administrator allows transition teams to fan across the federal government, access expanded office space, start tapping into $6 million of funding, and study detailed agency briefing books. Republican congressional leaders also “still seem wary” of crossing Trump and are holding back from acknowledging Biden's victory. Some prominent party members, including former President George W. Bush and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, have offered Biden congratulations since Saturday morning. Plaudits from world leaders have also piled up. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday that Trump is "100% within his right to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options." Other GOP leaders in Congress have either stayed silent or suggested that legal challenges to the outcome should be allowed to play out. None, however, have repeated Trump's unsubstantiated claims of widespread vote fraud. There are indications of limits to how long they'll wait. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of McConnell's leadership team, said media projections of the winner are mostly meaningless, especially since so many forecasts for the election turned out to be wrong. Any determination of the result should await final counts by state officials and any challenges from the president's legal team, he said on Sunday. “That has to happen and then we move forward. It's time for the president's lawyers to present the facts and then it's time for those facts to speak for themselves.” Still, Bloomberg says that recognition is growing in Trump's inner circle that efforts to overturn Biden's victory will be futile. His closest aide, son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, has recommended the president ask the courts to ensure transparency around ongoing counts of ballots in several contested states, the people said. Nevertheless, Biden is launching transition efforts to shape the new administration, but is still weeks away from making cabinet nominations, his transition team said yesterday. Since the election was called Saturday, President-elect Biden has not yet started working through potential nominees in depth. The coming transition likely will follow a calendar similar to that of President Barack Obama's in 2008, when almost all nominations were announced in December. The one exception then, in the middle of a financial crisis, was Treasury Department nominee Tim Geithner, who was announced on Nov. 24. Biden also plans to reach out to Republicans and Democrats in Congress to discuss a new COVID relief package, with one ally calling on Trump to support one before Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20. The Senate now stands at 48-48 with counts still going on in North Carolina and Alaska — and Republican incumbents seem likely to win some of those seats. Democrats would need both Georgia seats to get to 50 in the Senate, which would give them control by virtue of Kamala Harris as vice president having the tie-breaking vote. So, we will see. The new administration faces almost endless problems and opposition — including fights beyond the continuing political pushbacks. These are important battles, in many cases, and ones that producers should watch closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


US Elections Factor Into Delay In Picking A WTO Chief The process of picking a new Director General to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO) is on hold, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic but also the U.S. elections. WTO members were advised Friday via a document circulated from WTO General Council Chairman David Walker of New Zealand. "It has come to my attention that for reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November," Walker said in the statement. "I am therefore postponing this meeting until further notice during which period I will continue to undertake consultations with delegations." The delay was widely expected as the process has narrowed the choices down to two candidates — former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee. While most have expressed support for Okonjo-Iweala, the U.S. backs Yoo, preventing a unanimous selection from being made.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


Report: China Likely To Seek To Renegotiate Phase One Agreement The election of former Vice President Joe Biden has already spawned talk in China that the country will seek to renegotiate the Phase One trade deal with the U.S., according to the South China Morning Post. The report labeled the deal as being viewed in China as “twisted” and that they see a Biden administration as being more “rational.” The report specifically pointed to the purchase commitments made by China in the trade deal — to purchase $200 billion in additional goods from the U.S. beyond a 2017 baseline level. "Biden will sooner or later launch a renegotiation of the trade deal, as the current deal is unrealistic. A renegotiation is also in line with China's wishes," Shi Yinhong, an advisor to China's State Council, said. But he also said the expectation is that a Biden administration would probably seek to extract more structural changes in any renegotiation effort. "The incoming Biden administration will probably take a tougher stance on Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, South China Sea, other human rights issues, and the alleged Chinese intelligence activities in the U.S.” Other China sources quoted in the article echoed the sentiments that a Biden administration would most likely use renegotiation as a “bargaining chip” to extract more pledges from China on issues like intellectual property or further opening its financial markets. But issues on labor and human rights would be less likely to see much give on the part of China. U.S. trade contacts in the article indicated it was “wishful thinking” on the part of China relative to renegotiating the trade deal and that any such effort that is seen as making the deal easier on China would validate Trump campaign statements that Biden would be soft on China.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts for South America are getting increased attention as we get farther into that new crop season. USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports are Tuesday's main events, both due out at 11 a.m. CST. With soybean supplies getting tight, any export sales news will also be noticed. Weather Tuesday features rain, mixed precipitation and snow in the central Plains and western through northern Midwest. This moisture will disrupt the late stage of corn harvest. Eastern Midwest areas will be warm and dry with favorable harvest conditions. Southern Plains precipitation will be mainly light and focused in the southeastern Plains, bypassing the drought areas west. Tropical Storm Eta in the Gulf of Mexico is on track to bring heavy rain to the Southeast later this week.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


U.S. Soy Sales to China Slowing Down Sales of U.S. soy to China have slowed down from a previously rapid pace. Reuters says the slowdown is raising questions of whether China is just pausing its purchases, or if most of the intended volume has been purchased and Chinese buyers are waiting for Brazil’s new supply to become available. Surging soybean sales to China is helping the overall level of farm trade to the Asian nation set new records for this time of year, while at the same time bringing China closer to meeting the purchase requirements in the Phase One trade deal with the U.S. Net export sales of U.S. soybeans to China during the week ending on October 29 totaled 810,710 tons, which is the lowest total in the last 11 weeks of the current marketing year. That volume included 578,600 tons switched from unknown destinations. There hasn’t been a daily U.S. soybean sale explicitly to China since October 15, the longest streak since April of this year. U.S soybean prices have risen significantly over the last two months, which may be a limiting factor in further sales at the end of 2020. ********************************************************************************************** Georgia Representative Looking to Replace Collin Peterson as Ag Chair Georgia Democrat David Scott is the most senior member of the House Agriculture Committee after current Chair Collin Peterson. The Hagstrom Report says Scott is throwing his hat into the ring as someone who’d like to be the next Chair after Peterson, who recently lost his re-election bid to Michelle Fischbach. Scott is the chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit. “I’m proud to announce that I am seeking the chairmanship of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture,” he says in a news release. “Today, our nation faces perhaps the most significant struggles any of us have seen in our lifetime. Across rural and urban communities and from young to old, the threats posed by global illness, hunger, financial insecurity, climate change, and natural disasters are significant.” He says Congress must address, through the Ag Committee, the insecurities plaguing our citizens and provide the means for a more fruitful existence. He says reaction to climate change must include “transitioning away from fossil fuels toward ethanol and biofuels,” and that the small and mid-sized farmers need help to deal with the trade wars and global pandemic. ********************************************************************************************** Soybean and cotton growers sue EPA over Dicamba Use Restrictions The American Soybean Association and the Plains Cotton Growers have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency registration of the herbicide dicamba. The product is used for “over-the-top” applications on soybean and cotton crops genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. A Feedstuffs magazine report says the recent decision by the EPA gives growers five years of usage, beginning with the 2021 growing season. However, the lawsuit says some aspects of the registration decision, such as buffer requirements and application cutoffs, are “problematic for growers who depend on reasonable and consistent access to dicamba for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton.” While registering dicamba, EPA imposed several application and use conditions on soybean and cotton growers. The lawsuit notes that “several registration conditions impose growing restrictions and disrupt growing seasons, which will diminish crop yields, cut productivity, and drive up the costs of operating. Some of those conditions are much more stringent than in past registrations.” The lawsuit challenges the conditions as going beyond EPA’s authority under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The case seeks a remand of the EPA restrictions on dicamba applications as well as the spatial application buffers. ********************************************************************************************** September Pork Exports Remain on Record Pace; Beef Exports Head Lower September exports of U.S. pork increased by 10 percent year-over-year, keeping 2020 exports on a record pace. Those numbers come from the latest data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Beef exports were fairly steady with last year in major Asian markets but trended lower overall. Pork exports totaled more than 222,400 metric tons in September, with the value increasing six percent to $563.2 million. Exports set a new record for Canada and increased year-over-year to Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Chile, and the Caribbean. Through the first three quarters of 2020, pork export pace was 16 percent higher than last year’s record pace in both volume and value. “While pork exports remain strong to China and Hong Kong, it’s vitally important that our export destinations remain diversified,” says USMEF CEO Dan Halstrom. September beef exports were down six percent from last year to 103,277 metric tons, valued at just over $600 million. Exports to South Korea and Taiwan remained strong, while exports set a new record in China. “USMEF is very encouraged by the recovery in Asia, and this was especially evident in the strong August and September exports of U.S. beef to Korea, Taiwan, and China,” Halstrom adds. ************************************************************************************ Washington Supreme Court Makes Farmworkers Eligible for Overtime Pay Late last week, a divided Washington state Supreme Court ruled that the state’s dairy workers will get overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. The Associated Press says it’s possible that the decision could someday apply to the rest of the agriculture industry. For the past six decades, state laws have mirrored federal law in exempting farmworkers from the classes of employees entitled to overtime pay. However, the 5-4 court ruling found that unconstitutional. The majority says the Washington state Constitution grants workers in dangerous industries a fundamental right to health and safety protections, including overtime. The decision makes Washington the first state to give farmworkers overtime protections through the courts. California is adding in some overtime protections, as is New York, Maryland, and Minnesota. The ruling could eventually provide a template for extending farmworker overtime in other states. That statement comes from Charlotte Garden, a professor at the Seattle University School of Law, who worked on a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. “The law, in this case, is specific to Washington, but it could still inspire new litigation strategies both inside and outside of Washington,” she says in an instant message. *****************************************t***************************************************** CHS Fiscal Year 2020 Income Drops Significantly CHS, Incorporated, one of the nation’s leading agribusiness cooperatives, reported a net income of $422.4 million for the fiscal year that ended on August 31. It’s a substantial drop from their 2019 net income of $829.9 million. Among the key reasons for the decline, poor weather conditions negatively impacted their ag segment operations during the first half of the fiscal year 2020, resulting in lower crop yields and poor grain quality following a late harvest and lower crop nutrient sales in the fall of 2019. The company also had less advantageous market conditions in its refined fuels business, primarily because of COVID-19. However, strong supply chain performance in their propane business helped in handling crop drying and home heating needs. “Our focus remains on serving our owners, local cooperatives, as well as our customers around the world while keeping our employees safe and ensuring the company emerges stronger after the pandemic,” says Jay Debertin, President and CEO of CHS Inc. “Since March, we have been focused on taking care of those who depend on us, maintaining financial strength, and planning for the future.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Job Growth Seen Slowing The Washington Post, and many others reported last week that the U.S. economy added 638,000 jobs in October. Still, the report was largely seen as “the latest sign that the economic recovery has slowed compared with earlier in the summer, amid rising coronavirus cases that continue to weigh on the recovery.” The unemployment rate fell to 6.9% from 7.9%, based on data gathered during the first half of the preceding month. Eleven million people remain unemployed, the survey found — about twice the number in February before the crisis. However, the jobs-added figure was the smallest monthly gain since May, when the economy began adding back some of the 22 million jobs lost early on in the pandemic. “The unemployment rate dropped more than expected, and on the back of an increase in the labor force and no increase in permanent layoffs,” said Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor, who called the report “positive” although he noted that the pandemic remains a major concern. The gains were driven by hard-hit industries such as leisure and hospitality, which added 271,000 jobs; restaurants, bars and other food service places, which added 192,000; retail, which added 104,000; and arts, entertainment and recreation, which added 44,000. But employment in these industries remains well below their levels from February. Leisure and hospitality is still short 3.5 million jobs; retail is down by about 500,000 jobs. Health care and social assistance, which added 79,000 jobs, is down 950,000 from February. Manufacturing gained 38,000 jobs but remains 621,000 lower than February. The gains were offset in part by the loss of 268,000 government jobs. The majority, 147,000, were temporary census workers whose employment ended. Kate Bahn, an economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, said she was concerned that the gains were modest in industries that could be vulnerable as the pandemic results in more layoffs and restrictions. The snapshot of the country's economic health in October arrives at a portentous moment, in the midst of a national election and a renewed debate of future economic policies, the Post emphasized. More than 21 million people continue to draw unemployment benefits in what was often compared to the jobless crisis of the Great Depression during the height of the economic shutdown in the spring. Congress has yet to agree on a way to extend some of the aid programs and eviction protections that many economists credit with propping up the economy during the dire first months of the pandemic. An extra $600 in weekly jobless benefits that helped many stay on top of their bills expired at the end of July. The number of people who have been unemployed for six months or longer increased by more than 2 million to 3.6 million, the Post said. The racial and gender disparities in employment that have been exacerbated during the crisis continue to plague policymakers. While the unemployment rate for Whites is 6%, it is 10.8% for Blacks, 7.6% for Asians and 8.8% for Hispanics. There have been some positive signs in the economy, which has recovered two-thirds of the ground it lost during the first half of the year. Job postings, measured by sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor, have continued to rebound, although they remain well below pre-pandemic levels. Certain retail sectors have shown strength and growth, such as auto parts and dealers, building material and garden stores, and sporting goods and hobby stores. However, the gains in jobs could further dim the likelihood that Republicans would agree to a large aid package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. He called the report an indication of a “dramatic comeback” in the economy, and he said he would push for a more limited stimulus because of it. Other data captures a deep stagnation afflicting the recovery. Homebase, which makes employee-scheduling software, said that the hours employees worked in October were virtually flat compared with September, the fourth straight month of near stagnation. States with cooler weather in the Northeast and Midwest saw steeper declines in the number of businesses open, it said. Data from the Ultimate Kronos Group, another scheduling-software company, had similar results, showing that shift work in the retail, food service and hospitality sectors stayed nearly flat in October. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell noted Thursday that the economy had recovered more quickly than had been initially forecast, but he also warned about the threats the economy faced from the coronavirus, as well as decreased consumer spending as some households run through their savings in coming weeks and months. The labor-force participation rate rose slightly to 61.7%, up 0.3 percentage points — but it remains more than a percentage point and a half below its February level. The number of workers who are able to secure only part-time work rose by 383,000, to 6.7 million. So, we will see. As the “lame duck” session approaches, the policy debates will be as fierce as ever and likely will extend into the spring and beyond, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


Cotton, Soybean Groups Challenging EPA Restrictions on Dicamba Soybean and cotton growers are challenging the EPA's recently announced restrictions for using the herbicide dicamba, claiming the new, more stringent conditions will disrupt growing seasons. The American Soybean Association and Plains Cotton Growers Inc. filed a complaint Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia opposing the EPA's October 27 decision to allow the continued use of dicamba on tolerant crops, but with additional controls. The groups said in court filings that the restrictions “will limit growers' ability to respond to weather, pestilence, and other acts of God that significantly reduced yields and increase operational costs.” They noted that spring rains, flooding, wind and hail “can force soybean and cotton growers into planting or replanting their crops as late as June.” EPA is restricting soybean growers from applying dicamba products after June 30 each year, while cotton growers face the same restriction after July 30 each year. They also took issue with the buffer requirements that EPA announced. The trade associations asked the court to remand those restrictions in the EPA's registrations for dicamba products, claiming the buffers and time restrictions are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not otherwise in accordance with law.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


Speculation Rising On Potential USDA Chief In A Biden Administration The parlor game of who will take various posts in a potential Biden administration is in full swing in Washington with several names on the list of those who could head up USDA. Obvious potentials including defeated lawmakers such as House Ag Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who served on the Senate Ag committee from 2013 to 2019 and was reportedly considered by Trump to head USDA under his administration. Other possibilities include former USDA officials Michael Scuse (now Delaware's Ag Secretary) and Krysta Harden (former deputy secretary and chief of staff to former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack). Others on the mounting chatter list include current Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, and Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford. Other names are likely to surface in coming days and could well include a candidate not on anyone's list.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets The second week of November will start with traders examining the latest weather forecasts, especially for South America as the new crop season advances. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CST, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. Traders will also be watching for any export news that might develop. Weather A strong cold front moving through the northern and central Plains will bring cold conditions, strong winds and periods of rain, snow and mixed precipitation to northern crop areas Monday. Ahead of the front, very warm conditions with strong south winds will extend from the Great Lakes to the southeastern Plains. Tropical Storm Eta in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico is set to become a new hurricane during Tuesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


Trump Administration Seeks Extension to Respond to Biofuel Petition The Trump Administration is requesting the U.S. Supreme Court extend the response deadline to a petition from oil refiners that the court review a prior court decision. The request would push their response deadline to December 14 from November 12, according to Reuters. The case relates to waivers issued to refiners under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Earlier this year, an appeals court ruled the Environmental Protection Agency waivers granted to small refineries after 2010 should only be approved as extensions. Farm and biofuel groups welcomed the ruling, and the EPA later tossed out several exemptions. Still, more than 50 waivers are pending action by the EPA, and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said this week, any action should wait until after the Supreme Court petition is wrapped up. Oil refiners filed the petition in September. The EPA says it needs more time to provide a full government response to the petition. Biofuel groups say the delay provides further uncertainty of the matter. ************************************************************************************ Trade Deficit Shrinks for First Time in Three Months The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced the goods and services trade deficit was $63.9 billion in September, down $3.2 billion from $67.0 billion in August. This is the first time in three months the trade deficit has shrunk. September total exports were $176.4 billion, $4.4 billion more than August exports. September imports were $240.2 billion, $1.2 billion more than August imports. Exports of goods increased $3.7 billion to $122.8 billion in September. The export figures note that exports of foods, feeds, and beverages increased $1.6 billion, including a $1.4 billion increase in soybean exports. The deficit with China decreased $2.1 billion to $24.3 billion in September. U.S. farmers are enjoying the increased sales to China, with a bump in commodity markets this fall. The Department of Agriculture reports weekly corn sales were 16 percent higher than a week ago. Weekly soybean sales slipped but remained at the highest pace in two years. ************************************************************************************ University Policy Center Urges Return of COOL A recent publication by the University of Tennessee's Agriculture Policy Analysis Center urged the return of mandatory country of origin labeling for beef, pork, and bison. The center states that COOL could give consumers information they need to buy products that meet their individual buying preferences. The publication also claims the cost of providing this information would be negligible because the information already exists in the meat supply chain. The systems developed within the meat supply chain before the 2015 repeal of COOL for beef and pork still remain today but are not being used. However, COOL faces stiff opposition from meatpackers and importers. A pending ruling by the World Trade Organization authorizes Canada and Mexico to institute retaliatory tariffs if beef and pork were re-added to the COOL law. But, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard argues that Congress can avoid retaliatory tariffs by passing a new law to reinstate COOL for beef rather than re-adding beef to the old law. ************************************************************************************ Canada Creates New Pork Promotion and Research Agency Canadian Agriculture officials Thursday announced the Canadian Pork Promotion and Research Agency. The agency will support Canada's pork sector's competitiveness and sustainability by enabling the development and implementation of promotional and research activities, much like the U.S. Pork Checkoff. The agency was first proposed in March of this year, but requested in July of 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service. The creation of a national levy system will fund the activities, at a rate of 75 cents, Canadian dollars, per-head. USDA says the proposed import levy is considered WTO compliant on the basis of national treatment obligations. Levies will also be collected on imported pork products, at a rate that is no more than the minimum levy paid by producers across Canada. Rick Bergmann, Chair of the Canadian Pork Council, says the agency “will result in improving the long-term growth and competitiveness of the sector.” ************************************************************************************ Missouri River Water Releases to Reach Winter Rates Late This Month Missouri River water releases from the Gavins Point dam will reach winter levels at the end of the month. The Army Corps of Engineers says reductions are scheduled to begin around November 22. Releases will be stepped down by approximately 3,000 cubic feet per second each day until reaching the winter release rate of 17,000, ending the 2020 navigation season. The move also signals a fresh start again for the 2021 spring season, with all flood control space available in the reservoir system. That’s another relief for farmers along the river, who in 2019 suffered from flooding, and a breakdown of levee systems and the navigation control system. The 2019 flooding started with the March bomb cyclone winter storm that devastated Nebraska agriculture. Now, most of the Missouri River basin is experiencing some form of drought. The drought and low river levels have hindered the transit of products along the river this year. ************************************************************************************ USDA Co-hosting Webinar on Livestock Risk Management The Department of Agriculture will co-host a webinar focused on livestock risk management. Along with the Extension Risk Management Education Program, USDA will host the webinar on November 12. The webinar is free to attend and will provide information on livestock markets, price risk, and risk management options. USDA’s Bill Northey says, “The information that will be presented here will be invaluable to livestock producers who have an interest in the various risk management tools available to them through USDA.” The webinar is scheduled for 2-3 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, November 12. Producers can register at farm.unl.edu/webinars. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, November 17, USDA will host the first in a series of four evening webinars from 7-9 p.m. Eastern. The Cattle and Carcass Training series is designed to assist producers, feeders, and others who want to better understand the reporting, delivery, and grading of feeder cattle, live cattle, and carcasses, particularly relating to CME live cattle futures. The webinars are free, but registration is required.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Old Political Hurdles on Infrastructure Remain Bloomberg is reporting this week that a renewed fight on infrastructure funding is likely this fall. Both presidential candidates made sweeping campaign promises to strengthen the nation's roads, bridges and other infrastructure, but the issue has long defied solution. As a result, Bloomberg says that the next president likely will hit the same speed bump that has plagued Washington for years: how to pay for it. Former Vice President Joe Biden, like President Donald Trump, didn't commit in his campaign platform to a concrete way to raise revenue for the ailing Highway Trust Fund, the federal government's central mechanism for paying for highways and transit. The fund is facing insolvency because it mainly relies on gasoline and diesel fuel taxes, which haven't increased since 1993. President Trump, despite vows to “rebuild our country” and two years of Republican control of both chambers of Congress, was unable to address the shortfall so far during his presidency. Even as Congress faced a deadline to reauthorize federal funding for highways, transit, rail, and safety programs earlier this year, lawmakers from both parties instead punted the problem to next September. “I've tried this before. We're not going to be able to raise the gas tax,” Biden, who voted to increase the gas tax in 1993, said at a forum on infrastructure in February. “There are an infinite number of ways to be able to fund this, thinking creatively,” said Chris Campbell, who helped shape the last major transportation law as Republican staff director of the Senate Finance Committee. Rail supporters are also hoping Biden, sometimes called “Amtrak Joe,” would deliver a long-sought victory on the $11 billion Gateway rail tunnel project under the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey, which supporters say has languished under Trump. Lawmakers have traditionally opposed tinkering with taxes unrelated to transportation to pay for infrastructure, such as corporate or payroll levies, Campbell said. To pay for the last long-term transportation law, lawmakers used a slew of funding tools, such as requiring the Energy Department to sell crude oil from the country's emergency supply. “There are as many proposals as there are members of Congress” on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, ranking member Sam Graves said ahead of Election Day. Democrats will likely use a measure from House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., a $500 billion highway, transit, and rail measure from this Congress. The measure was already passed by the House and is expected to be the starting point for negotiations this fall — although that legislation lacks a specific proposal to fix the Highway Trust Fund. It would instead dodge the problem by transferring about $145 billion to the Highway Trust Fund from the general fund. Republicans, such as Graves, have long called for a transition to taxing the miles people drive, known as vehicle miles traveled, as opposed to gallons of gasoline used. A 2019 report from the Congressional Budget Office found that a vehicle miles traveled tax on trucks would alleviate at least some of the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund. However, that revenue boost would come at a higher cost to the federal government than the administrative costs of collecting the current diesel fuel tax. DeFazio's bill would establish a national vehicle miles traveled fee pilot program that would include commercial and passenger vehicles. It wouldn't fully replace the gas tax. “We have a lot of people out on the road that simply aren't paying for the use of that road,” Graves said. There's also the question of how the election winner would spend infrastructure money. Biden's plan aligns with DeFazio's bill in that it melds climate priorities with transportation policy, though it doesn't offer many specifics on existing programs. Biden is expected to use the Department of Transportation or other agencies to accomplish the plan's goals. His proposal highlights spending for public transit, a component of transportation policy that Republicans have typically played down. President Trump hasn't released a concrete infrastructure proposal during his time as president, though he did endorse a bill approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which included a climate change section for the first time in highway legislation. Transportation for America, a group run by former Obama Department of Transportation official Beth Osborne, has long argued that Congress must set goals about what should be achieved with any transportation program, as opposed to arguing about how much money should be spent. The group supports DeFazio's bill because it charts a path to updating policy. “Putting more money into existing programs doesn't work,” Osborne said in a phone interview before Election Day. So, we will see. The first priority of the next congress is likely to be to stimulate the economy — a fight many expect to be bloody given that the Congress still is likely to be deeply divided. However, infrastructure also is likely to be high on the list—and figuring out how to pay for those costly investments is expected to be just as difficult as it has in the past and to include a number of bitter fights that producers should watch closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


FY 2020 US Ag Exports Beat Forecast, Imports Set A New Record Exports of U.S. agricultural products reached $135.9 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 with imports at $133.2 billion for a trade surplus of just $2.7 billion. USDA in August forecast FY 2020 ag exports at $135.0 billion against imports of what would have been a record $131.7 billion which would have resulted in a forecast surplus of $3.3 billion. The FY 2020 export mark is just above the $135.5 billion figure registered in FY 2019 but well short of the FY 2018 mark of $143.4 billion and even further below the FY 2014 record of $152.3 billion. What moved the export and import figures past forecast levels were September U.S. ag exports of $12.2 billion against imports of $11.0 billion for a monthly trade surplus that was at $1.3 billion. The monthly export total was the largest since November 2019 and imports were at their highest since June. U.S. agriculture registered a trade deficit six months during FY 2020, including a record of $1.13 billion in June. For FY 2021, USDA in August forecast exports to rise to $140.5 billion against imports forecast at $136 billion for a surplus of $4.5 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


Scott, Costa Throw Hat Into the Ring For House Ag Panel Chair While ag interests are still reeling with the defeat of House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., in Tuesday's election, Washington appears focused on who will take over that spot on the committee. Many have talked of Rep. Marcy Fudge, D-Ohio, as a potential successor. Fudge chairs the Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Subcommittee and has focused much of her attention on those programs as a member of the panel. But Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., chairman of the Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Subcommittee and number two in seniority on the Democratic side of the full committee, has thrown his hat into the ring to take over the top post. While touting farm roots in Georgia in a deal colleague letter announcing he was seeking the chairman's gavel, Scott also said the core focus of the panel includes food, nutrition and financial resources. His message to other lawmakers is that he would focus the panel on farm, food, nutrition and other issues. Noting he would be the first African American to chair the House Ag panel, Scott said if selected, he would have a “principled focus on addressing inequities in agriculture and advancing racial progress for all.” Also making a push for the chair is Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., who falls right behind Scott in seniority on the committee for Democrats. Costa chairs the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture and has served on the committee since 2005. His district represents one of the major agricultural regions of California.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets Thursday morning gets back to business with USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims, a report on third-quarter U.S. productivity and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST. U.S. natural gas inventory is set for 9:30 a.m. The Federal Reserve will have a post-meeting announcement at 2 p.m. CST and no change in interest rates is expected. Weather Dry and unseasonably warm pattern across all crop areas continue Thursday. Harvest and fall field work will continue to progress. This pattern remains in place through the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


House Ag Chair Defeated Agriculture lost decades of experience in the defeat of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. The Minnesota Democrat lost Tuesday to the Republican Challenger Michelle Fischbach (Fish-bock), garnering 53 percent to Peterson’s 39 percent of votes in Minnesota’s District 7. In a statement, Peterson said, “We ran a strong and positive campaign, but with the President winning this district by 30 points again, and the millions in outside money that was spent to attack me, the partisan tilt of this district was just too much to overcome." Peterson has led Democrats on the committee for the last three farm bills. Based on seniority, Democratic Representative’s Jim Costa of California, David Scott of Georgia, or Marcia Fudge of Ohio, could become the next House Agriculture Committee Chair. Fischbach’s campaign has indicated she would seek a seat on the committee. Democrats retained control of the House but did lose a few seats, thinning the majority margin. ************************************************************************************ Marshall Wins Kansas Senate Race to Replace Roberts Roger Marshall won the Senate race in Kanas to replace Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts. The Republican Marshall won the seat with 53 percent of the vote. Roberts has served Kansas since 1981, starting in the House of Representatives. Roberts has also served as both the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee. Marshall is a member of the House Ag Committee, serving on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit, and the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture subcommittees. Marshall represented the large First District of Kansas since 2017. Republican Tracey Mann won the district seat with 71 percent of the vote. In his victory speech, Mann said, “I vow to be an advocate for agriculture.” With the retirement of Roberts and Republican Representative Mike Conaway of Texas, and the defeat of Democrat Collin Peterson, three of the top four agriculture positions in Congress will have new representation. ************************************************************************************ Trump Declaring an Early Victory Problematic for Trade Partners The overnight claim by President Donald Trump believing he ‘already won’ the election may pose a problem for U.S. North American trade partners. Votes were still being counted Wednesday with no definitive outcome, but Biden held a small advantage midday Wednesday. The cliff-hanger has the nation’s northern neighbor withholding comments on the outcome. A political expert told Canada’s national Globe and Mail Wednesday morning, “A big challenge for Canada now is that Trump wants to declare victory before all votes are counted, so will expect U.S. Allies to send him their congratulations." The expert points out that the problem is for those who don't offer early congratulations, Trump will "take this very personally and if he is elected, can be expected to be even more punitive on trade matters." That, of course, depends on the outcome of the U.S. election. Most Canadian agriculture leaders agree former Vice President Joe Biden would be better for trade relations between the two countries. ************************************************************************************ Senate Control, Ag Committee Makeup, May be Decided in January Control of the U.S. Senate may not be known until January and could further change the Senate Agriculture Committee's makeup because of a runoff vote in Georgia. The runoff results from Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler being appointed earlier this year to take the seat of Republican Johnny Isakson ​(eye-zeck-son), who resigned at the end of 2019, citing health reasons. Republicans held a slight lead, 47-45, to control the Senate, but some races were still too close to call by midday Wednesday. Loeffler is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and is running to serve the remaining two years of Isakson's term. Loeffler will face Democrat Raphael Warnock, who received 31 percent of the special election vote Tuesday, while Loeffler received 26 percent. To win Tuesday, a candidate must have received 50 percent of the vote. Returning members up for reelection to the Senate Agriculture Committee Include Republicans Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst and Cindy Hyde-Smith. Returning Democrats include Tina Smith and Richard Durbin, assuming they return to the committee next year. ************************************************************************************ Mary Kay Thatcher: Rural America Needs Bipartisan Representation A long-time leader in agriculture policy says rural America is going to need more Democrats in the future. Mary Kay Thatcher of Syngenta, who was a long-time policy expert at the American Farm Bureau Federation, says, "we don't have very many democrats in the rural areas." Only nine Democrats, prior to this election, held rural seats in the House. Thatcher made her comments to the Adams on Agriculture radio show Wednesday morning. She says, "We should be thankful we are not writing a farm bill this year." There will be new leadership in three of the top four Congressional positions for agriculture. With the defeat of House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, Thatcher says of the new leadership, "They probably just can't be as effective right away." Thatcher says agriculture needs a bipartisan representation, adding, "we've always been bipartisan, we need to be bipartisan, and we need Democrats and Republicans both that are willing to go to leadership and say this is important." ************************************************************************************ NFU: Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement is "Shameful" Following a night of waiting for election results, the National Farmers Union calls the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement “Shameful.” The United States formally exited the Paris Climate Agreement Wednesday, three-and-a-half years after President Donald Trump pledged to do so. National Farmers Union says 189 countries have ratified the historic agreement so far, which aims to keep “a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” That leaves just eight countries – including the United States – as outliers. A strong advocate for climate action, NFU expressed support for the deal when it was finalized at the end of 2015. NFU President Rob Larew stated, “Climate change is a global crisis, and it requires a united, global effort to address.” Larew says the decision "not only undermines critical climate action and makes our planet more vulnerable to increasingly frequent and severe weather extremes, but it also comes at great cost to the American people.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Rich Nations Are Failing to Support Developing Country Borrowers Despite pledges of debt relief and expanded programs, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have delivered meager aid to the developing world. The New York Times focuses on Pakistan which was “alarmingly short of doctors and medical facilities long before anyone had heard of COVID-19.” Then the pandemic overwhelmed hospitals, forcing some to turn away patients. At the same time, in Washington, two deep-pocketed organizations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, vowed to spare poor countries from desperation. Their economists warned that immense relief was required to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and profound damage to global prosperity. Emerging markets make up 60 percent of the world economy, by one IMF measure. A blow to their fortunes inflicts pain around the planet. But the World Bank and the IMF have failed to translate their concerns into meaningful support, says the Times. “A lost decade of growth in large parts of the world remains a plausible prospect absent urgent, concerted and sustained policy response,” concluded a recent report from the Group of 30, a gathering of international finance experts, including Lawrence Summers, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, and Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration. The wealthiest nations have been cushioned by extraordinary surges of credit unleashed by central banks and government spending collectively estimated at more than $8 trillion. Developing countries have yet to receive help on such a scale. The IMF and the World Bank—forged at the end of World War II with the mandate to support nations at times of financial distress—have marshaled a relatively anemic response, in part because of the predilections of their largest shareholder, the United States. During a virtual gathering of the two organizations this month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged caution. “It is critical that the World Bank manage financial resources judiciously,” he said, “so as not to burden shareholders with premature calls for new financing.” The World Bank is headed by David Malpass, a longtime government finance official who worked in the U.S. administration's Treasury Department and has displayed contempt for the World Bank and the IMF, the Times said. Under his leadership, the World Bank has required that borrowers deregulate domestic industry to favor the private sector as a condition for loans. The IMF is run by a managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, a Bulgarian economist who previously worked at the World Bank and who is answerable to the institution's shareholders. The U.S. administration has resisted calls to expand the IMF's reserves, arguing that most of the benefits would flow to wealthier countries. But the IMF has lent out only $280 billion, the Times says. That includes $31 billion in emergency loans to 76 member states, with nearly $11 billion going to low-income countries. The World Bank more than doubled its lending over the first seven months of 2020 compared with the same period a year earlier, but has been slow to distribute the money, with disbursements up by less than a third over that period, according to the Center for Global Development. The limited outlays by the IMF and the World Bank appear to stem in part from excessive faith in a widely hailed initiative that aimed to relieve poor nations of their debt burdens to foreign creditors. In April 2020, at a virtual summit of the Group of 20, world leaders agreed to pause debt payments through the end of the year. World leaders said the program would be a way to encourage poor countries to spend as needed, without worrying about their debts. But the plan exempted the largest group of creditors: the global financial services industry, including banks, asset managers and hedge funds. “The private sector has done zilch,” said Adnan Mazarei, a former deputy director at the IMF, and now a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “They have not participated at all.” Concerns about developing countries' debts rested atop the reality that many were spending enormous shares of their revenues on loan payments even before the pandemic. For example. Since 2009, Pakistan's payments to foreign creditors have climbed to 35% of government revenues from 11.5%, the Times says. Ghana's payments swelled to more than 50% of government revenues from 5.3%. This month, the G20 extended the program into the middle of next year. Ms. Georgieva has chided private creditors for remaining on the sidelines. Private creditors have been reluctant to offer debt suspension because, in part, uncertainty over who will reap the benefits. Borrowing from China, for example, is both opaque and uncoordinated—and if western institutions forgo collecting on their debts, the money may simply be passed on to a Chinese lender rather than lifting health care spending. “International financial institutions are going to leave countries in much worse shape than they were before the pandemic,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development, a Manila-based alliance of 50 organizations. “Their interest is not primarily about these countries getting back on their feet, but to get these countries back into the business of borrowing.” So, we will see. The U.S. is now under increasing international pressure to support strengthened assistance and relief programs, buy those programs that rely on international institutions appear to have been low in priority. Whether and how that should change likely depends heavily on U.S. political trends and should be watched closely as this battle intensifies.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


CFAP 1 Is Winding Down As farmers are enrolling and receiving funds from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2), USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) has told state and county offices they need to make sure that any applicants for CFAP 1 who have not provided the needed forms or documentation to FSA must do so by November 20. FSA is closing out the CFAP 1 effort and “de-obligating” funds for the program on December 11. FSA will be notifying the affected producers about the information they need to provide and remind them of November 20 deadline.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


Senate Ag Committee Members Mostly Return As Rep. Peterson Defeated Most in agriculture are lamenting the loss of House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., in Tuesday's election, bringing to a close his 30 years of representing the Minnesota district. That is a district that Peterson won in 1990 by defeating another long-serving incumbent — Rep. Arlen Stangeland, R-Minn. On the Senate side, members running for re-election will return in 2021. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., easily won re-election while Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, held off challenger Theresa Greenfield to win another term in the Senate. The race was hard-fought and saw Republicans link Greenfield to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., while Democrats sought to paint Ernst as having “gone Washington.” Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., was declared the winner over former USDA Secretary Mike Espy with 66% of the vote counted. She held a margin of 58.1% to Espy's 39.9%. One of Georgia's Senate seats appears headed to a runoff as neither Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler nor Democratic challenger candidate Raphael Warnock were able to capture 50% of the vote. Republican Doug Collins has already conceded in his challenge of Loeffler and that could point to more support for Loeffler in the expected January 5 runoff. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., was declared the winner in her bid to return to the chamber, with 48.9% of the vote to 43.5% for Republican challenger Jason Lewis. Not returning, of course, is Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, who opted not to seek re-election.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday morning gets back to business with USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims, a report on third-quarter U.S. productivity and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST. U.S. natural gas inventory is set for 9:30 a.m. The Federal Reserve will have a post-meeting announcement at 2 p.m. CST and no change in interest rates is expected. Weather Dry and unseasonably warm pattern across all crop areas continue Thursday. Harvest and fall field work will continue to progress. This pattern remains in place through the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


Ag Economy Barometer Reaches All-Time High The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rose 27 points to a reading of 183 in October, setting an all-time high for the index. Farmers were more optimistic about both the future and current financial situations on their farms. The Current Conditions Index rose 36 points to a reading of 178, and the Future Expectations Index climbed 23 points to a reading of 186. Since bottoming out this summer, the ag economy has rebounded sharply, and the dramatic improvement in sentiment mirrors the turnaround in the farm income picture. Organizers say the early fall rally in commodity prices combined with government program payments boosted farm income. Corn and soybean prices continued to rally even though U.S. corn yields are expected to set a record high, and USDA projects soybean yields to be the fourth highest on record. Comparing their farm's financial condition today to one year ago, 25 percent of survey respondents said their farm was better off financially now than at the same time last year. ************************************************************************************ Wheeler Waiting on Courts Before Making RFS Decisions Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler is taking a wait and see approach regarding 35 waiver requests under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Administrator Wheeler told Agri-Talk earlier this week, "The refiners appealed that to the Supreme Court; we're waiting to see if they take it up, and what they do with that." Earlier this year, an appeals court ruled the EPA could not grant waivers for refiners whose previous wavers have lapsed. The oil industry is appealing the ruling. Wheeler adds, "I think it would be inappropriate for me to either grant or deny them until that litigation has completely run its course." The EPA is also considering an additional 17 gap-year waiver requests that are expected to be denied. In September, the EPA denied 54 gap year waivers. The Renewable Fuels Association at the time called the requests a “bizarre attempt" by the oil industry to circumvent the appeals court ruling. ************************************************************************************ Groups Call for Stronger Approach to Preserving Common Food, Wine Terms A coalition of agricultural groups is applauding a bipartisan letter sent this week by 111 members of Congress, urging stronger protections for American-made food and wine exports using common terms. The National Milk Producers Federation says the letter is an important message regarding the need for enhanced U.S. efforts to combat the European Union's attempts to ban U.S. exports of cheese, meat and wine products that are labeled with common terms – such as parmesan or bologna. The letter asks the U.S. Trade Representative and Department of Agriculture to make safeguarding common food and wine terms a core policy objective in all current and future trade negotiations. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern states, “America’s dairy farmers have been unduly harmed by the EU’s efforts to limit market opportunities for U.S. dairy products.” In July, 61 Senators sent a similar letter requesting that the U.S. government enhance protections for common food and wine terms. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces First Set of Great American Outdoors Act Projects The Department of Agriculture this week delivered to Congress its priority list of deferred maintenance projects for Great American Outdoors Act funding in fiscal year 2021. The bill, USDA says, will protect and enhance the economies of numerous gateway communities that surround public lands by restoring and maintaining critical access and infrastructure. Congress passed the bill in July and the President signed it into law in August. USDA says the project list breakdown, now available on the agency's website, will help the Forest Service reduce its $5.2 billion deferred maintenance backlog. The projects will improve access and visitor experiences by repairing and restoring roads, trails, bridges, recreation sites, and other facilities on national forests and grasslands. However, the Public Lands Council calls the bill a federal land grab. Following Senate passage of the bill this summer, the organization stated the bill “sentenced existing and future lands and waters to the same fate facing current federal assets – billions of dollars in deferred maintenances.” ************************************************************************************ NCBA: Industry Feedyard Audit Tool Now Available The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association this week released a comprehensive industry feedyard audit tool. The organization says the Cattle Industry Feedyard Audit will serve as a standardized audit tool based on the science and common sense established in the Beef Quality Assurance, or BQA program. Though the audit tool is owned by NCBA, auditing of feedyards will only be conducted through business-to-business activity within the cattle industry. NCBA will be maintaining the tool with updates as science dictates. To ensure consistency and integrity in auditing, the Cattle Industry Feedyard Audit tool has been certified through the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization. The Cattle Industry Feedyard Audit was built based on BQA principles and includes key standards of animal care that are directly related to animal health and welfare that contribute to a safe beef supply. Results from the audit can provide information back to the feedyard to drive improvement and measure the effectiveness of the operation’s implementation of BQA standards. ************************************************************************************ Trimble to Donate up to $100,000 to She Feeds The World Project Trimble will match donations up to $100,000 to support global poverty-fighting non-profit organization CARE and their She Feeds the World program this month. Aiming to improve access to food and nutrition for 50 million women and youth, small-scale producers and their families, She Feeds the World supports programs and projects in more than 76 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Through the donation-matching campaign, the agriculture community will have the opportunity to donate to increase the campaign's overall impact for developing rural communities. Trimble's Jim Chambers says, "it is greatly important to us that we support programs that connect women with the necessary resources for their farms, families and communities to succeed." To participate, individuals can donate to CARE through Trimble's website, ag.trimble.com, during November for each dollar to be matched 1:1. Trimble is also offering farmers the opportunity to enter to win a GFX-750 display and NAV-900 bundle, no donation necessary.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Recent and Future Trade Policy Bloomberg is reporting this week that the “consensus view” is that since his arrival on the global political scene in 2016 President Donald Trump has rewritten the politics of trade and ended a 70-year march of perpetual trade liberalization and the acceleration of globalization that came with it. The report then asks readers to set aside the economics and what administration trade policies have – or have not – actually achieved in dollars-and-cents substance. Bloomberg's experts see the administrations greatest achievement concerning trade is the shift away from Republican free-trade orthodoxy – towards a nationalist protectionism illuminated by what it took to garner working-class votes in forlorn industrial swing states. Bloomberg then suggests that many expect that the political shift means “that Democrats and Republicans alike will heretofore embrace the same trade objectives forever more.” However, Bloomberg seems not to be persuaded and it questions whether that is really how the administration rewrote the politics of trade. The report moves to present a “contrarian view” that calls the past four years a “very loud civics lesson in the misguided economics of protectionism and the costs of tariffs and economic nationalism.” The analysis suggests that in this election administration trade policies have actually been a vulnerability rather than a strength. For example, Bloomberg thinks Americans' view of trade is more optimistic than ever and has only become more so under this administration. In February 2016 when Gallup asked Americans whether they saw foreign trade as more of a threat or opportunity, the optimistic view won 58-33. By February of this year, those seeing trade as opportunity had grown to 79% of those polled. That's just one poll, the report says, but reminds that “Gallup has been asking the same question annually since 1992 and this year's result is the highest on record.” Bloomberg also thinks that critics of the administration see the ongoing trade wars as a political vulnerability in swing states. When author Don Winslow teamed up with Bruce Springsteen on an ad targeting voters in the battleground state of Pennsylvania this year, he took direct aim at the administration's trade war with China and his steel tariffs – and notes that by election eve that ad had been viewed 8.8 million times and retweeted almost 100,000 times. Overall, Bloomberg notes that tariffs aren't well-liked. The president famously called himself “Tariff Man,” and import taxes are the ideological spine of his trade policy. But polls show they actually haven't been that popular, and polls show more Americans believe tariffs hurt the U.S. economy than help it. The report point out that even though the administration claims its tariffs saved U.S. steel companies, with “production still slumping and jobs near an all-time low, the iconic U.S. industry is seeking a longer-term solution.” Overall, Bloomberg thinks that considering the range of issues from the taxing of U.S. corporations to the independence of the Federal Reserve, President trump and former Vice President Joe Biden offer voters vastly different economic policy agendas. For example, it says that a Democratic victory would likely mean rapid delivery of substantial additional support from stimulus programs — and that Republicans under George W. Bush from 2001-2006 and again from 2017-2018 – instituted sizeable tax cuts. Under unified Democratic control in 2009-2010, spending remained high in the wake of 2009 stimulus legislation. The expansive $3.5 trillion Heroes Act House Democrats proposed in May illustrates the sort of top-line proposal that could yet become law after the election. A big-ticket package also became law just after President Obama's inauguration in early 2009, passed by a Democratic Congress under a similar backdrop of high unemployment. A Donald Trump win coupled with a divided Congress could prompt a moderation in fiscal hawkishness from Senate Republicans. A $1.5 trillion fiscal package would push 2021 GDP growth up to 4.3%. One area where the president has a lot of discretion is on how to shape the relationship with China. Bloomberg examines U.S.-China policy in terms of strategy – where administrations operate on a spectrum from engagement to containment – and tactics, which can be narrow and procedural or wide and unpredictable. On strategy, President Barack Obama favored engagement. On tactics, the approach was procedurally predictable and focused on a narrow set of instruments. Relations during President Trump's first term started bad and looks set to end worse, Bloomberg says. Engagement is out, containment in. The range of policy instruments is wide and their use unpredictable. If the administration wins a second term, Bloomberg expects more of the same. If the Democrats win, Bloomberg thinks, U.S. – China policies would soften but not fundamentally alter America's new focus on the risks in China's rise. So, we will see. No one is really sure what lies ahead – but the current concerns are intense and producers, like most others, should watch carefully as these fights play out, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


Department Of Labor Releases Final Rule On H-2A Wage Plans The Department of Labor (DOL) has released a final rule which sets terms for how the agency plans to set the Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWR) for H-2A workers in the wake of USDA's decision to halt data collection and release of its Farm Labor Survey (FLS) report. DOL is putting forth the rule even as court has ordered USDA to continue the survey while a court challenge brought by United Farmworkers unions proceeds, citing USDA's decision as a factor in expediting the process. But some other aspects of the DOL proposed rule on this topic will come at a later time. DOL's final rule would set AWERs for field and livestock workers through calendar year 2022 on average hourly wages included in the November 2019 FLS. After 2023, the final rule proposes fixing AEWR increases annually for those positions based on the change in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Employment Cost Index (ECI) for wages and salaries for the preceding 12-month period. Expectations are the DOL final rule could be challenged in court as well plus the ongoing litigation over USDA's decision on the FLS could also impact the final outcome.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Payouts Clear $8.7 Billion USDA has made $8.8 billion in payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) as of November 1, including $4.4 billion in acreage-based payments, $2.4 billion for livestock, $1.04 billion for sales commodities, $876.9 million for dairy and $21.7 million for eggs/broilers. By commodity, the payouts include $2.5 billion for corn, $1.9 billion for cattle, $982.2 million for sales commodities, $946.8 million for soybeans, $876.9 million for milk, $461.9 million for wheat, $418.6 million for hogs/pigs, and $195.2 million for upland cotton. Iowa continues to lead all states with $870.4 million, followed by Nebraska at $603.8 million, Minnesota at $598.8 million, Illinois at $567.0 million, California at $468.6 million, Kansas at $451.3 million, South Dakota at $406.2 million and Wisconsin at $406.1 million. CFAP 1 payments total $10.3 billion as of November 1, with payouts of $1 billion or more for three commodities—$4.3 billion for cattle, $1.8 billion for corn and $1.8 billion for milk. The funds continue to provide a financial infusion for U.S. agriculture, but prospects are uncertain for 2021 as a lack of these ad hoc payments will result in a major downturn in forecast U.S. farm income.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Tuesday is election day in the U.S. and the morning's only official report is for September U.S. factory orders, set for 9 a.m. CST. Election-related gossip is likely to build through the day, but traders will still be attentive to the latest weather forecasts for the U.S., South America and Black Sea region. Any export news that emerges will also be noticed. Weather Warm and dry conditions will cover all crop areas Tuesday. Record or near-record highs are possible in many locations, especially north. This combination will favor continued harvest and wheat planting progress along with fall field work. Livestock conditions are beneficial as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


Biden or Trump, What Does the Future Hold for Farmers? Election day is finally here—and represents an end to a long campaign season. While the results may be delayed, and there are signals of a messy outcome, for farmers and ranchers, one certainty is the likely reduction in federal direct payments. Experts seem to agree that the record direct payments to farmers this year is not a sustainable approach. Either candidate will likely face finding a solution to drawback those payments. If former Vice President Joe Biden should win, Politico points out you can expect a major shift in farm and food programs. Most notably would be changes to increase support for nutrition programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and an increased focus on agriculture’s role in climate change. A second term with President Donald Trump brings the expectation of continued deregulatory moves, a continuation of the current trade climate, and a likely target to streamline SNAP and other nutrition programs. ************************************************************************************ AEM: Next President Should Focus on Infrastructure A survey by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers shows the industry wants the next President to prioritize infrastructure investment. Regardless of who the next President is and which party controls the House or Senate, AEM says the outcome of the 2020 elections will have a significant impact on the equipment industry and the economy. Despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn, nearly half of respondents are optimistic about the current state of the industry. Equipment manufacturing executives say the next President should prioritize investing in the nation’s infrastructure, enact effective tax, fiscal, and monetary policy, and negotiating fair trade agreements with other countries during his first year in office. Most executives say that the Republican party will do a better job supporting and advancing the industry’s policy priorities. However, a plurality say that the Democratic party will do a better job expanding access and improving the affordability of high-quality healthcare services for all Americans. ************************************************************************************ Labor Department Finalizes H-2A Wage Rule The Department of Labor Monday issued a final rule that updates the methodology for determining the annual Adverse Effect Wage Rates in the H-2A visa program. The Trump administration claims the new rule improves the consistency of the wage rates, provides stronger protections for workers, and establishes better stability and predictability for employers. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue praised the announcement, stating the update "will ensure greater stability for farmers and help them make long term business decisions rather than facing uncertainty year after year.” The move follows USDA's action to discontinue a report previously used to set wages. However, a federal judge ordered USDA to resume the report. The reality of the H-2A rule is farmers can pay significantly lower wages to H-2A workers. The United Farm Works union last month claimed the Trump administration effort would cut field laborers’ wages by more than five percent in California, up to 27 percent in Oregon and 46 percent in Idaho. ************************************************************************************ Lawsuit Challenges EPA Reapproval of Atrazine Public-interest groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency last week over its decision to reapprove atrazine. The groups claim atrazine is linked to birth defects and cancer in humans. The lawsuit contends that the agency failed in its legal duty to ensure that the pesticide would not cause unreasonable harm to public health and the environment. An attorney for the Center for Food Safety says, “We are in court to make sure EPA answers for its blatant disregard of the lives of our nation’s farmworkers and their children.” The lawsuit also challenges the EPA’s reapprovals of two other pesticides in the triazine class, which were part of the same review process as atrazine. Farm groups welcomed the September reapproval announcement made in Missouri. At the time, Missouri Natural Resources Department Director Carol Comer stated, “EPA is using sound science to make decisions that protect children and workers, provide predictability and flexibility for our agricultural producers, and protect the environment.” ************************************************************************************ NPPC Petition Leads to U.S. Trade Sanctions Against Thailand U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer over the weekend announced the suspension of $817 million in trade preferences for Thailand under the Generalized System of Preferences. Lighthizer took the action because the country hasn’t made sufficient progress providing the United States with “equitable and reasonable market access” for pork products. The decision follows a 2018 petition by the National Pork Producers Council asking the USTR to review Thailand’s eligibility for the GSP program, one that offers duty-free treatment to certain goods entering the United States. NPPC President Howard AV Roth says, “For years, Thailand has taken full advantage of special U.S. trade benefits, while imposing a completely unjustified de facto ban on U.S. pork.” The United States is Thailand’s number one export market, with almost $4 billion of products annually sent to America under the GSP. Yet, NPPC says Thailand maintains a de facto ban on U.S. pork imports through high tariffs and several non-tariff barriers. ************************************************************************************ China Flying in Hogs to Replenish Herds China is flying a record number of live hogs into the country as it seeks to rebuild hog herds. The nation is seeking to improve genetics and boost productivity, according to Bloomberg News, by flying in more than 15,000 hogs so far this year. The move comes as China seeks to increase its hog herd following the African swine fever outbreak. The hogs are worth an estimated $32 million, compared to just $3 million of hogs imported a year ago. China is seeking to modernize its hog production as well, shifting to a model of large-scale production. Meanwhile, the more than 15,000 hogs flown into the country come from Denmark, France and the United Kingdom. The number of breeding sows rose 28 percent from a year earlier to 38 million by the end of September. China is also importing a record value and volume of processed pork to fill the protein gap while its herd is repopulated.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Looking to Robots Bloomberg is reporting this week that although the recent U.S. political focus has been on ways to bring manufacturing back, some business people believe that “both candidates are going about it the wrong way — talking about tariffs or taxes, when they should be smoothing the road for robots.” The report highlights Kent Bicycles, a firm that employs about 150 people at a plant in Manning, South Carolina, that opened six years ago. The company still does most of its manufacturing in China and Taiwan and even its recent partial reshoring was a risky venture that went against the tide. Owner Mark Kamler says he would like to take it further and quadruple his U.S. output to 1 million bikes a year. But he says he's not getting the kind of government help he needs. The administration has tried to boost manufacturing by imposing tariffs, Bloomberg says. In the election campaign, both parties are promising to bring factories home — with a mixture of incentives for companies that do — and penalties on those who don't. Kamler is critical of policies that rely on tariffs, and notes that industrialists in rival countries get substantial help from politicians when they seek to upgrade plants to make better use of robot technology. “The very first thing the U.S. government should do is to help U.S. companies automate.” Manufacturing, which employed about one-quarter of the U.S. workforce in the 1950s compared with less than 9% now, can once more become a bedrock of middle-class jobs, Bloomberg noted. That's part of what President Trump meant by “make America great again.” It's been a theme of Biden's campaign too, with a promise to “create millions of new manufacturing and innovation jobs.” When the issue is framed that way, automation tends to appear--along with globalization — as an enemy of employment. However, Bloomberg says that “walking through Kent's factory, it's easy to see why. The plant houses a mix of manual and automated processes, and moving from one to the other feels like time-travel.” Kent's expansion plans would see more of the assembly process carried out that way. Still Kamler says that he'll have to hire more workers to tend to the robots he plans to buy. “There'll be job openings, and they'll likely be better compensated. The paint line requires a higher skill set and pays as much as $1.50 an hour more than the assembly line, he said. The Manufacturing Institute says its research shows that about three-quarters of manufacturers are planning to boost investments in smart-factory technology over the coming year. They also think the biggest impact of automation on the workforce will be to create opportunities for people who know how to operate the new machinery. Carolyn Lee, the institute's executive director, estimates that there are already about 400,000 openings like that, and says manufacturers will need to fill 4.6 million of them by 2028. “One of the prime benefits of automation is that it replaces tasks that are repetitive or physically taxing, freeing people to focus on tasks that require human skills and creativity and creating even more jobs along the way,” she says. Kamler notes that labor unions see this as a “rose-tinted view” and are more worried about the jobs that will disappear — about 40 million in the U.S. by 2030, according to a McKinsey study. While people fear automation will cut jobs, Kamler says, he expects to need to hire more OS workers to tend to the robots he plans to buy. Shielding employees from that risk is becoming part of the bargaining process. In 2018, a landmark agreement negotiated by Las Vegas culinary workers with local hotels required employers to give notice six months before introducing machines that could displace workers--and to train their staff in how to use them. The episode shows how automation has spread beyond factories and deep into service industries — where most job losses during the pandemic shutdown have been concentrated, Bloomberg says. That could be ominous for the laid-off workers. However, Kent Bicycles has come through the slump without any job cuts — thanks to the surge of interest in cycling among locked-down Americans. It came as a relief to Kamler, after a period when the company got hit by tariffs on almost every part it imports. Kent had to push prices up as much as 20%, and temporarily lay off about 40 staff — one reason Kamler, a Republican, was irritated when his factory briefly appeared in a local campaign video. “We went months of shipping lots of bicycles and losing money” because of the administration's tariffs, he says. Now, though, “business is off-the-charts crazy good.” But even with all this new demand, Kamler says robots are the key to ramping up output–because expanding manual production lines on that scale will push costs too high, and make his bikes uncompetitive. He reckons customers are willing to pay maybe 10% extra for made-in-America products, but that's the limit. “If we're going to make bicycles in a big way, we need a lot more automation,” he says. 'We just can't do it the way we used to do it years ago.” So, we will see. There is wide support in both parties now for worker protections and perhaps only modest interest in retooling jobs to be more competitive — the way Kent wants to do. Clearly, the coming debate over trade policy will need to consider a broad range of implications and will be deeply controversial—and should be watched closely by producers as it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


US Removes Parboiled Rice From GSP Duty-free treatment for parboiled rice from several countries under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) will be removed via an executive order issued October 30 by the White House. The announcement Friday indicated the administration would modify rice tariff lines under the GSP, with Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., saying the move is a “step in the right direction is a win for American rice producers. Our rice farmers can compete with anyone on the world stage. This update will help level the playing field to ensure our American farmers are not being undercut by international growers. I appreciate the Administration for listening and responding to this petition from our farmers.” The USA Rice Daily indicated the tariff line adjustment was for parboiled rice and would primarily affect Argentina, Brazil, Pakistan, Paraguay and Thailand. Parboiled rice from those countries will face an 11.2% US tariff, the group said. The USA Rice Federation sought action in March to remove all six tariff lines for rice covered under the GSP.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


Australia, China Trade Tensions Continue To Rise China over the week imposed new bans on imports of products from Australia, including lobster and timber, with reports indicating that items like copper and sugar could also be targeted. The action resulted in clearance of Australian rock lobster shipments to be delayed in Shanghai on increased inspections. On Friday, the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) issued a warning notice to exporters saying that it had found a pest—the bark beetle Ips grandicollis—in imported log timber from Queensland and they banned all log shipments coming in from the Australian state. A China foreign ministry spokesman confirmed today that Chinese authorities have repeatedly found “biohazards” in imports of Australian timber. Meanwhile, China rejected an appeal by Australia on tariffs that it imposed on Australian barley. Australia had sought a review of the tariffs which totaled more than 80.5% that were put in place earlier this year. While the frictions between Australia and China are rising, it is not yet clear that the situation has prompted any shift of business yet to the

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday is election day in the U.S. and the morning's only official report is for September U.S. factory orders, set for 9 a.m. CST. Election-related gossip is likely to build through the day, but traders will still be attentive to the latest weather forecasts for the U.S., South America and Black Sea region. Any export news that emerges will also be noticed. Weather Warm and dry conditions will cover all crop areas Tuesday. Record or near-record highs are possible in many locations, especially north. This combination will favor continued harvest and wheat planting progress along with fall field work. Livestock conditions are beneficial as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


Commodity Classic Goes Virtual in 2021 The next Commodity Classic will now be a virtual event. The annual conference and trade show had been scheduled to take place March 4-6, in San Antonio, Texas. The change to an alternative digital format became necessary because of restrictions related to COVID-19. The new convention format will take place during the first week of March 2021. “This is about doing the right thing for our farmers, exhibitors, stakeholders, and the broader community in terms of health and safety, which is our top priority,” says Anthony Bush of the National Corn Growers Association and who is Co-Chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic. “After careful deliberation, we determined the COVID-19 restrictions would prevent us from delivering the type of high-quality experience people have come to expect from the Commodity Classic.” Commodity Classic is now redirecting its efforts toward developing alternative methods of connecting with farmers and agricultural stakeholders. “We realize the total experience can’t be completely replicated online,” Bush adds. “Education is a key component of the event, and we are already looking at ways to deliver the high-quality content farmers expect at the Commodity Classic.” The transition to an online event is already underway and more information will be available in the weeks ahead. The 2022 Commodity Classic will be March 10-12, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Releases 2019 Pesticide Data Report The USDA published it’s 2019 Pesticide Data Program’s Annual Summary. The report shows that nearly 99 percent of the tested samples had pesticide residues below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency. The two agencies work together every year to identify which foods get tested on a rotating basis. The Agricultural Marketing Service works with state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide residue levels of selected foods. In 2019, the agencies tested 9,697 samples of fresh and processed foods, including fruits and vegetables, as well as rice and oats. USDA has tested a variety of commodities for more than 25 years, which included tests on fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, grains, fish, rice, specialty products, and water. USDA tests a wide variety of domestic as well as imported foods, with a strong focus on food consumed by infants and children. The EPA relies on the Pesticide Data Program findings to conduct dietary risk assessments and to ensure that any pesticide residues in foods remain at levels that EPA has determined to be safe. USDA uses the data to help American farmers improve agricultural practices and to implement the Department’s Integrated Pest Management Program. The Food and Drug Administration and EPA are notified immediately of any test showing residue levels that could pose a public safety risk. ********************************************************************************************** Scientists want Tax on Meat, Livestock for Pandemic Prevention Lawmakers should consider putting taxes on livestock production and meat consumption to reduce the risk of future deadly pandemics. Reuters says that is the conclusion of a group of international experts called the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which has more than 130 member states. The group published a study last week calling for better protection of nature. “Overconsumption of meat is bad for our health and unsustainable in terms of the environmental impact,” says zoologist Peter Daszak, who chaired the study. “it’s also a driver of pandemic risk.” The group says outbreaks of influenza viruses and new pandemic strains have emerged for the most part because of the incredibly dense production of poultry and pigs in some parts of the world, driven by our global consumption patterns. “Breeding cattle for beef is another well-known cause of deforestation and ecosystem destruction in Latin America,” Daszak added. The study warns that pandemics will emerge more often, spread faster, cost more, and kill more people than COVID-19 without bold action to halt the habitat destruction that helps viruses hop from wildlife to humans. The group is also asking governments to step up efforts to avert pandemics instead of responding after they hit. ************************************************************************************ USDA Suspension of Farm Labor Survey Overturned by Court Farmworker advocates are pleased the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the USDA decision to suspend the annual Farm Labor Survey. The Packer says unless the decision gets appealed, it means USDA has to conduct its Farm Labor Survey and issue its annual Farm Labor Report in November. The survey determines the adverse effect wage rate for the Department of Labor’s H-2A guest agricultural worker program. The United Farm Workers and plaintiffs sued the USDA for its decision to suspend the survey. The UFW said that in the absence of the survey results, wages for guest workers would decline sharply because the Department of Labor would not have data to establish new wage rates other than state minimum wages. Michael Marsh, President of the National Council for Agricultural Employers, says he doesn’t know if the USDA will appeal the decision, noting that, “They could ask for a stay of the lower court’s order, pending an appeal.” He says another relevant development is a Department of Labor proposal to create a new method to determine H-2A wages, which is in the final review stage. *****************************************t***************************************************** Dairy Industry Annual Meeting Notes Success Despite COVID-19 During a virtual annual meeting of dairy industry groups, Dairy Management Incorporated reflected on strategically adjusting business plans due to the impacts of COVID-19. They told farmers and industry representatives that this year’s results are due to industry unity, agility, and relentless relationship building. “The systems farmers have put in place work, and in normal times, we celebrate those successes,” says Barbara O’Brien, President of DMI. “What the last seven months have proven is that it also works in difficult times, frankly times we couldn’t have imagined.” The virtual meeting included representatives from the United Dairy Industry Association, National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, and the National Milk Producers Federation. DMI CEO Tom Gallagher says one of the highlights of the USDA per capita report shows consumption reached 653 pounds per person in 2019, a 60-year high for dairy. “This comes as a shock to a lot of people who say dairy is dead,” Gallagher says. “They think about the decline in fluid milk, but they don’t think about all of the other areas that have grown exponentially.” Gallagher credits these successes to farmers who took leadership in creating the dairy promotion program through a Congressional act in 1983. Per capita growth since that year has increased by 80 pounds. ********************************************************************************************** Historic National FFA Convention and Expo Wraps Up for 2020 The 93rd National FFA Convention and Expo may have been virtual this year, but numbers indicate that many members across the country enjoyed the event. The number of viewers and participants totaled well over 217,000 people. Due to COVID-19, National FFA made the decision back in late June to host the largest student event virtually this year instead of in-person. The event kicked off Tuesday of last week, and students had the opportunity to attend events on a virtual platform. Convention attendees had a chance to view the live general sessions on RFD-TV, The Cowboy Channel, and streaming on FFA.org., where they saw peers from across the country receiving recognition for their hard work and heard from this year’s national FFA officer team. “The virtual national FFA convention and expo was a great success,” says Mandy Hazlett, associate director of convention and events for National FFA. “While it might be different this year, we are thrilled to have offered experiences similar to what our members would have enjoyed during an in-person event.” She has good news for those who registered and didn’t get to see everything they wanted. Students will still have all access to all this great content and videos through the end of the year. “That means if they didn’t get it all covered in three days, they have time to go back,” Hazlett adds.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


Washington Insider: WTO Fight Over Director General Position Bloomberg is citing the American Journal of Transportation to report that World Trade Organization members are confronting the reality that the future of the Geneva-based institution is now in the hands of the American electorate. Trade officials in capitals around the world are evaluating their options following the Trump administration's decision Wednesday to block the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the WTO's next director-general. The U.S. is backing South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee despite overwhelming support from other countries for Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian former finance minister who also holds U.S. citizenship. Some officials are concluding that if President Trump loses the presidential election Nov. 3 they should postpone the selection process until after Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20. A Trump win would give U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer fresh momentum to re-engineer oversight of global trading rules and the WTO has been his nemesis for years. “The U.S. election is obviously pivotal now,” said Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council in Washington and former WTO deputy director-general. “Where the WTO General Council takes this depends on whether they're in another brutal showdown with Lighthizer or can afford to wait him out and make a deal with a new U.S. administration.” Lighthizer issued a strong statement of support for Yoo, signaling no wiggle room in the American position. According to people close to Lighthizer, he views Okonjo-Iweala, a longtime top official at the World Bank, as being too ideologically aligned with internationalists like Robert Zoellick, a former USTR from the Bush administration who worked with her when he was president of the Washington-based bank. “Minister Yoo is a bona-fide trade expert who has distinguished herself during a 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade-policy maker,” the USTR's office said in a statement. “The WTO is badly in need of major reform. It must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field.” Molly Toomey, a spokeswoman for Okonjo-Iweala, responded by saying, “WTO members wouldn't have selected a DG who is missing any skills or qualifications.” For WTO members, there are few desirable options if President Trump emerges victorious in next week's vote. Most are unwilling to back Yoo, who decided not to withdraw from the race after the WTO's selection panel named Okonjo-Iweala the candidate most likely to attract consensus support from the WTO's members. Okonjo-Iweala “clearly carried the largest support by members” and “clearly enjoyed broad support from members from all levels of development and from all geographic regions,” WTO General Council Chairman David Walker, who is from New Zealand, said in a statement on Wednesday. It's possible that members could force a resolution to the impasse by holding a vote to select the next WTO director-general by a qualified majority. Okonjo-Iweala would likely win such a vote but that path would be unprecedented and harmful for the consensus-oriented WTO. WTO decisions are made by a consensus of its 164 members, which means a single country can stall to pressure others. A core tenet of Lighthizer's approach to international trade is his desire to defend America's national sovereignty over trade policy. So any move by WTO members to go against U.S. interests could provoke a sharp response from Trump, who has threatened to withdraw from the WTO entirely. Advisers in the Biden administration, meanwhile, have advocated for greater engagement with U.S. allies and to strengthen multilateral institutions like the WTO. “Reaffirming, strengthening our core alliances and partnerships with democratic countries is probably (Biden's) leading international priority,” said Tony Blinken, a foreign policy adviser for the Biden campaign during a recent webinar hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We've got to repair trade and economic relations that have been in disarray.” Wednesday's setback came after Okonjo-Iweala secured the support of the European Union, Japan, and much of Africa and Latin America. “The resolute global majority and that of the Council to propose Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to be the new DG of WTO speaks to the overwhelming global consensus supporting her candidature,” Ebba Kalondo, spokesperson to African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, said in a statement Thursday. “We trust that this global consensus will prevail.” China said it supported the outcome of the WTO process, and the EU reiterated its commitment to remain engaged. To avoid a prolonged stalemate, members will work until Nov. 9 to try to reach a consensus. Meanwhile, some WTO staff paused for a dose of levity on Thursday as a tongue-in-cheek reminder circulated saying that four deputies director-general were still running the organization. So, we will see. USTR has long been critical of the WTO and the United States has frequently used what it called a “Get Tough” policy that relied heavily on tariffs—and has faced strong criticism from trading partners as a result. In the current U.S. election fight, both sides have pushed “buy American” policies, so the immediate outcome of the election may make less difference than some expect. However, trade policies are highly important to U.S. producers who should watch closely as trade policy debates emerge in the coming months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


Brazilian President Says Commodity Imports Taking Place As Domestic Prices Rise Brazil is importing staple commodities like soybeans as the country if facing rising domestic prices, according video comments on social media from President Jair Bolsonaro. "We are importing soy now because the price is going up," Bolsonaro said, but did not mention any specific amounts. Market chatter has indicated the volume of soybean purchases is not large, with reports mentioning at least one cargo sold last week. USDA's Export Sales report for the week ended October 22 showed no U.S. soybean sales to Brazil, but did list 5,920 metric tons of wheat, taking total U.S. export commitments to Brazil to 529,158 metric tons, all of it shipped. USDA also shows outstanding wheat sales of 100,000 metric tons for 2021/22 to Brazil. U.S. export commitments of rice to Brazil are at 115,250 metric tons.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


Judge Blocks USDA End Of Farm Labor Survey USDA's September 30 announcement that it was suspending data collection and release of its Farm Labor Survey has been blocked by U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. United Farm Workers (UFW) union and the UFW Foundation brought the suit, charging USDA did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act in suspending the FLS which is used by the Department of Labor to set minimum wages for guest workers under the H-2A program. The groups said the end of the FLS survey could mean that the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) for H-2A workers could revert to federal or state minimum wage levels to the detriment of workers as those are lower than the AEWR rates. It is not clear whether USDA will appeal the action.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets The first Monday of November starts with the ISM index of U.S. manufacturing, due out at 9 a.m. CDT. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by a monthly Fats and Oils report at 2 p.m. and Crop Progress at 3 p.m. Traders will continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts and any export news that develops. Weather Warm and dry conditions across all major crop areas will favor harvest and fieldwork Monday. This combination is especially useful for areas that had rain and snow a week ago.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


La Nina Fueling Western Drought More than half of the United States is experiencing a drought as La Nina favors warmer and drier weather across much of the country. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows much of the drought west of the Mississippi River and extends into Illinois and Indiana, as well as the Northeast. Drought conditions cover 91 percent of the 11 states in the West as determined by the Drought Monitor, with extreme drought conditions covering 40 percent of the region. That drought area expands into west Texas and the Plains states. Drought conditions cover 98 percent of the High Plains states, and 35 percent of the Midwest. The southeast, including Louisiana, are largely spared from drought conditions, but at the cost of an active hurricane season. Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 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. ************************************************************************************ Gray Wolf Delisted from Endangered Species List The Department of the Interior this week removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list, signaling a successful recovery under the Endangered Species Act. The gray wolf spent more than four decades on the list, but the population is now thriving in the lower 48 states. State and tribal wildlife management agencies will now be responsible for the management and protection of the gray wolf. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the action shows “careful management and partnerships between federal and state agencies can result in the successful recovery of a once-threatened species.” A National Cattlemen’s Beef Association representative states, "The road to recovery and delisting has been fraught with purely political lawsuits that promoted emotion over fact, and the facts are clear: the gray wolf population is recovered.” National Association of Conservation Districts President Tim Palmer adds, “Its delisting is a credit to the hard work of locally-led conservation.” The gray wolf has been federally protected under ESA since 1967. ************************************************************************************ Cattle Groups Discuss need for Beef Industry Reforms Cattle groups met in Florida this week to discuss reforms to the beef industry. The meetings included the U.S. Cattlemen's Association, the Organization for Competitive Markets, and R-CALF USA. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the nation's largest cattle group, was invited but did not participate. NCBA President Marty Smith stated, “NCBA will not participate in events with organizations litigating against NCBA or the Beef Checkoff, nor will we engage in events that lend a voice to anti-agriculture activists.” Smith claims the Organization for Competitive Markets is “solely a front for animal rights activists.” OCM is spearheading a petition calling for a referendum vote on the Beef Promotion and Research Order, or the beef checkoff. OCM claims checkoff dollars managed by NCBA "through questionable if not illegal ways…often wind up in the pockets of industrialized agriculture.” The groups included in the Florida meetings support beef checkoff reforms, country of origin labeling, and a breakup of the “big four” meatpacking companies. ************************************************************************************ NMPF: FDA Must Enforce Fake-Dairy Rules The National Milk Producers Federation wants the Food and Drug Administration to ensure imitation dairy product rules are properly enforced. The organization Thursday made the ask to the agency's ombudsman, citing little indication of promised action. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says, “The FDA’s Office of the Ombudsman must intervene to break the bureaucratic logjam.” The FDA ombudsman, based in the agency commissioner’s office, “serves as a neutral and independent resource for members of FDA-regulated industries when they experience problems with the regulatory process,” according to the agency. NMPF urges the office to take appropriate action to remedy the FDA's lax approach to enforcing its own rules on the use of dairy terms on products containing no dairy ingredients. The organization says unlawfully labeled plant-based imitation foods "poses an immediate and growing risk to public health." NMPF last year released its own road map offering solutions to how public health, product integrity and free speech could be protected through updated regulations. ************************************************************************************ Report: Net Zero Trucks Ready in North America A new report by the Environmental Defense Fund shows manufacturers are readying to meet demand for zero-emission trucks in North America. The report finds that that manufacturers, through their investments and product plans, recognize that the future of the commercial vehicle industry is zero-emissions. The study identifies that at least 125 zero-emission truck and bus models are in production, development or demonstration. Over the past five years, sales of zero-emission commercial vehicles have shot up by nearly a factor of ten. There are models for each of the distinct major segments of the heavy-duty vehicle market, including transit and school buses, delivery vans, box trucks and combination trucks. Every major truck and bus manufacturer is developing at least one all-electric vehicle model or is part of an industry collaboration to bring zero-emission vehicles to market. Jason Mathers of EDF says, “Leading manufacturers are ready to make these trucks and fleets are eager to drive them,” adding, “Now we need bold policy to accelerate the market.” ************************************************************************************ Radio Tag Leads Researchers to Asian Giant Hornet Next Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologists, using a radio tag, have located and eradicated the first Asian giant hornet nest ever found in the United States. The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service supplied the radio tag. Researchers tied the tag to a hornet, which led them to the nest in a dead tree. Two days later, a team of entomologists plugged the nest with foam, wrapped the tree in plastic, and vacuumed out the hornets. To complete the eradication, they injected carbon dioxide into the tree to kill any remaining hornets. In a recent press conference, a WSDA official noted that, given the radio tag’s strength, “I’m pretty confident as long as we can get live hornets, we can follow them back.” Now that they’ve shown that it’s possible to find and eradicate a nest, the hunt continues for any other nests that might be in the area.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Biotech Crop Problems National Public Radio is reporting this week about serious emerging problems with major crops that appear to be losing some of their main features. Some of the most popular products of biotechnology — corn and cotton plants that have been genetically modified to fend off insects — are no longer offering the same protection from those bugs. Scientists say that the problem results from farmers overusing the crops, and are pushing for new regulations. These crops were the original genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. They weren't the first ones invented, but they were the first to be widely embraced by farmers, starting in the late 1990s. They got their bug-resistant features from a kind of bacteria that lives in the soil, called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, which is poisonous to the larval stage of some major insect pests, including the corn rootworm and cotton bollworm. Scientists inserted some of these bacterial genes into corn and cotton, and the plants themselves produced these insect-killing proteins. Bt crops brought a two-fold benefit: Cotton and corn farmers didn't need to use so many chemicals to control the bollworm and related pests after they were released, starting in 1996. "Our insecticide sprays just plummeted, and there were guys who wouldn't have to treat at all," says David Kerns, an entomologist at Texas A&M University, speaking of cotton farmers. This was also good news for the environment. The Bt proteins are toxic to a relatively small number of insects, and they're practically harmless to people and other animals. Unlike the insecticides that they replaced, they were not killing significant numbers of pollinators like bees and butterflies, or beneficial insects that prey on pests and help to keep them under control. Farmers like Jonathan Evans in North Carolina liked Bt cotton because it made farming easier. "It's always better for the plant to protect itself, than for us to have to go out and spray for the worm," he says. "You can tend a lot more acres, with a lot less equipment." Now there are new strains of bollworms, rootworms, and other pests have emerged that are able to feed on Bt plants without dying. David Kerns says some farmers are pretty angry about it. "There are words I can't use," he says, "but they want to know what the heck they're doing, paying for a technology but then still have to spray." Increasingly, they are bothered by the fact that biotech companies have deployed close to a dozen slightly different Bt genes, targeting a variety of insects. In many cases, the bugs have evolved resistance to some Bt proteins, but not others, and the prevalence of Bt-resistant insects varies from place to place. "The impact can be patchy, but when it's there, it's big," says Julie Peterson, an entomologist at the University of Nebraska. "If you're the farmer who ends up with all of their corn laying down on the ground because the roots have been completely fed on by rootworm beetles, that's a huge impact to you." Scientists have long warned about this risk. They've been engaged in a long-running argument with the companies selling Bt crops, such as Monsanto, which has been acquired by Bayer. Even before Monsanto started selling the first Bt crops, independent scientists pushed the Environmental Protection Agency to limit the amount of land that farmers could devote to Bt crops. If Bt crops were planted everywhere, the scientists argued, it would create a situation in which, if a few rare insects happened to be genetically capable of surviving Bt proteins, they would be the sole survivors, quickly mate with each other, and produce a new strain of resistant insects. Biologists call this "selection pressure." The solution, they said, was a requirement that farmers devote some of their land to non-Bt crops. This would allow plenty of non-resistant insects to survive, and make it less likely that the rare resistant insects would mate with each other. The EPA adopted this strategy, but independent scientists and biotech companies have disagreed over the years about how big these refuges need to be. In the case of some Bt crops, such as corn hybrids with genes targeting the corn rootworm, scientists have urged the EPA to require that farmers to devote at least half of their fields to non-Bt corn. The companies balked at that, since it would have limited sales of their products. They convinced the EPA that such large refuges weren't necessary. The warnings, however, turned out to be well-founded. Over the past decade, insects like the corn rootworm, the cotton bollworm, and the Western bean cutworm have become resistant to one Bt gene after the other. Now scientists, once again, are pushing for tighter government rules. "We are at an important point, where we've seen what can happen, and definitely do need to make some changes," Peterson says. The biggest proposed changes are an attempt to preserve one particular Bt gene, called called Vip3A, which has been incorporated into both corn and cotton plants. Vip3A came on the market a little later, and it is slightly different from other Bt genes, "so it still is effective against a lot of insects, and it's sort of carrying a lot of the weight right now," Peterson says. The company Syngenta sells it under the trade name Agrisure Viptera. Scientists are worried that it will soon break under the weight of overuse, especially in cotton-growing areas of the South. There, the Vip3A gene is currently deployed in both corn and cotton to fight off an insect known both as the cotton bollworm and the corn earworm. Kerns says that he and his colleagues have found a recessive genetic trait for Vip3A resistance in this insect population. If the gene is widely used, insects carrying this gene will be more likely to survive, mate, and produce fully resistant offspring. Two years ago, a group of the EPA's outside scientific advisors recommended unanimously that the agency prohibit the use of Vip3A in corn in the South. This would preserve its effectiveness in cotton, they said, where it's much more valuable. The company that owns the Vip3A gene — Syngenta — argued that such a prohibition wasn't necessary or fair. In its latest draft document on the issue, the EPA backed away from the idea. Instead, the agency proposed a variety of other measures. They include a requirement that companies plant and monitor "sentinel plots" of Bt crops that could provide early warning of insect resistance, and also that companies force farmers to abide by existing requirements to plant non-Bt refuges. Studies have found many farmers ignoring these rules. Peterson says that if current farming practices don't change, it's possible that all of the Bt genes currently on the market will stop working reliably within a decade. So, we will see. Clearly the scientists at USDA and the genetic firms who market these products are well of the problems that are emerging and likely have strategies to help customers deal with them, and have many experts work.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


USDA World Board Leader Offers Defense Of China Corn Import Figure USDA's forecast that China's 2020/21 corn imports from all sources will be at 7 million metric tons has prompted many questions about the forecast in no small part because U.S. export commitments for corn to China alone stood at 10.5 million metric tons as of October 15. "Keep in mind that export sales ... do get canceled at times," World Ag Outlook Board (WAOB) Chairman Mark Jekanowski said during a virtual USDA data users meeting. China's tariff rate quota for corn was maintained at 7.2 mmt for calendar 2021, but expectations are that China's government will issue additional import quotas or take other actions to bring more corn in than the announced TRQ level in 2021. And the fact there has been no formal announcement factors into the WAOB decision, Jekanowski said. “One of the things we try not to do is forecast changes in policy, including changes in policy by foreign countries,” he noted. Chinese corn prices have hit lofty levels as demand for corn is high in the country as they seek to rebuild their hog herd that was decimated by African swine fever (ASF) and the country has sought to dramatically reduce the use of swill to feed hogs.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


Ethanol Groups Ask Federal Court To Force EPA To Disclose Refiner Exemptions Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to order the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to respond to several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by the biofuels industry regarding the small refinery exemption (SRE) program and EPA's escalation in granting SREs in recent years. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor and RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper said in a news release, “For the last several years, biofuels interests have pleaded with EPA to lift the veil of secrecy that it has held over the issuance of small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard. These clandestine agency actions have destabilized markets and allowed numerous refineries to avoid their RFS compliance obligations at the expense of renewable fuel producers and supporters, including America's farmers.” The official noted that, “Fundamentally, this request is about fairness and transparency in government. If an agency decides to relieve a refinery from the obligations Congress imposed under the Clean Air Act or any federal law, it should be done in the public view.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday's reports include the U.S. employment cost index for the third quarter and U.S. personal incomes for September, both at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for October is due out at 9 a.m. CDT. Traders will continue to pay attention to the latest weather forecasts and any export sales news. Weather Dry conditions will cover all primary crop areas Friday, offering improved harvest and field work conditions. Delays are still likely in the eastern Midwest and Delta following rain during the past few days. Temperatures will remain cool for the season in the eastern Midwest with moderating trends elsewhere

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


Ethanol Groups Seek Partial Summary Judgment in FOIA Lawsuit Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association this week filed a motion for partial summary judgment in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit regarding Small Refinery Exemptions. The motion follows the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to adequately respond to several FOIA requests, according to the groups. Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association asked a federal district court to order EPA to make public at least the most basic information about the exemptions. The two groups say EPA should not withhold the name of the company submitting an application for an SRE nor the name and location of the refinery for which relief is requested. Additionally, they ask that EPA immediately produce the information that was unlawfully withheld for Renewable Fuel Standard compliance years 2015, 2016 and 2017. Finally, the groups say the EPA should not withhold any of the five data elements identified in the proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support rule. ************************************************************************************ EPA Considering E15 Label Changes at Gas Pumps The Environmental Protection Agency is mulling over a potential label change for E15 at gas pumps. The possible move is seen as a way to appease the biofuel industry’s concerns that current labels discourage use of the fuel, according to a report by Reuters. Current labeling warns of possible engine damage to older vehicles. An announcement could come soon, but there’s no detail yet on how the Trump Administration might alter the labeling. President Donald Trump did say via Twitter last month that he would allow states to permit fuel retailers to use their current pumps to sell E15. Expanding the market for E15 is a policy goal for farmers and the ethanol industry, including calls for the national standard to move from E10 to E15. Going from an E10 blend to an E15 blend would increase ethanol production by seven billion gallons and corn demand by over two billion bushels a year, according to Growth Energy. ************************************************************************************ Dicamba Decision Provides Certainty to Ag Retailers, Farmers The Agricultural Retailers Association says the Environmental Protection Agency offers certainty to retailers and farmers with the recent five-year registrations for dicamba herbicides. ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock says, “Now farmers and their retailers can make firmer plans for the next five years with this critical question answered.” American Soybean Association President Bill Gordon thanked the EPA in a statement for “the many steps and time invested in coming to this decision.” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler late Tuesday announced the registration for three dicamba herbicides, Bayer’s ExtendiMax, BASF’s Engenia and Syngenta’s Tavium. The announcement follows a court case in June that invalidated the registrations for ExtendiMax, Engenia and Corteva’s FeXapan. The registration does include a cutoff date for over the top applications for soybeans of June 30 and cotton of July 30. Gordon of ASA points out that dicamba is “one of many tools integral to the success” of farmers facing different crop production challenges. ************************************************************************************ Consumers Are Stocking up Again Amid COVID, Political Unrest Fears Americans are again stocking up the pantry over supply chain, coronavirus and political unrest fears. In a report from industry publication Progressive Grocer, research shows more than half of Americans say they're stockpiling groceries or plan to stockpile. The research cites worries about supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 surges and political unrest amid the presidential election. Industry leaders are urging retailers to prepare for a rise in shoppers. Walmart CEO Doug McMIlion says, “It will be choppy for months to come as we all deal with the volatility and as things change.” Roughly 52 percent of Americans plan to stockpile this fall, according to data from the Sports and Leisure Research Group. Additionally, 38 percent of consumers stocked up at the beginning of the pandemic and would do so again with a new shutdown, while 15 percent of consumers didn't stock up earlier this year, but would do so if there's a new shutdown. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces More Rural Community and Broadband Investments Another day closer to the election brings another investment announcement in rural communities by the Department of Agriculture. In a recent string of investments, USDA Wednesday announced another $871 million for rural communities. This time, USDA is funding 256 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The investments will assist communities in building or upgrading schools, libraries, clinics and public safety facilities. The funds will benefit 3.5 million residents in 43 states and Guam. Over the last few weeks, USDA has announced investments in rural communities near-daily, including millions for rural broadband. USDA Wednesday also announced a $1.8 million investment for rural broadband in Iowa, and $5 million for areas in rural Kentucky. That announcement is part of the $550 million allocated by Congress for the second round of the ReConnect Program. Both the Community Facilities Program and the Reconnect Program are administered by USDA Rural Development. ************************************************************************************ NCBA Moves 2021 Convention to August The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is the latest ag organization to change the 2021 meeting schedule due to COVID-19. In a letter to event participants, the organization announced the Cattle Industry Convention will move to August 2021, delayed from February. NCBA CEO Colin Woodall says, “the limits on the number of people who can gather at an event in Nashville and the travel restrictions facing many trade show exhibitors, makes it impossible for us to put on the world-class event.” Originally scheduled for February 3-5, the convention and trade show will now take place August 10-12, 2021. NCBA will hold some of its traditional business meetings in the January or February timeframe, in accordance with the association’s bylaws. The event is one of many originally scheduled for early 2021 that is changing the meeting landscape for agriculture. The American Farm Bureau Federation earlier this month announced its annual convention will be virtual, planned for January 10-13, 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Keeping USA Manufacturing Jobs The Washington Post this week is highly critical of Trump administration efforts to “jawbone” companies into producing entirely in the U.S. For example, it leaned heavily on Carrier international when it was planning invest in Mexico, but just four months after Carrier agreed to keep some jobs in Indianapolis, it broke ground on a new manufacturing facility in China. The $95 million factory would produce compressors and light commercial systems for sale in China and the region. By May, Carrier had informed Indiana officials that it was eliminating 632 jobs from the Indianapolis plant, prompting an angry President Trump to call Carrier to complain. But even as the administration argued for companies to stay put, other elements of its trade policies were putting them at a disadvantage. In 2018, President Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese products, intended to punish Beijing for pilfering foreign companies' trade secrets and intellectual property. But the import taxes also raised Carrier's production costs, so in December 2018, the company requested an exclusion from the 25 percent fee for a Chinese-made electrical motor it used in its residential gas furnaces, warning of “significant price increases for consumers.” In May 2019, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative denied the request, saying that Carrier had not proved that the motor was available only from China. Still, business was good. Carrier last year recalled more than 100 workers who had been let go and morale, which had crumbled amid the outsourcing talk, rebounded. Some of the work that left Indiana ended up in Monterrey, Mexico's manufacturing heartland, in a blue-and-white building Carrier calls Plant A. Both the U.S. and Mexican flags fly out front. Just one of several local Carrier production sites, the facility in the working-class Santa Catarina neighborhood can be a refuge from the world beyond its walls. When the president first attacked Carrier in 2016, workers in Mexico here got nervous about what his outburst might mean for them. But plant managers reassured them that nothing would change. For example, one worker, Omar Mendoza, 28, told the Post he had worked for Carrier for three years as a junior quality-control specialist. He is studying English in hopes of earning a promotion. Carrier is “above the average” for employers in Monterrey, he said. “The company treats me well and in general they give the workers many benefits, like scholarships and subsidized lunch,” he said. The Post said that local workers in Mexico tend to shrug at U.S. anger over outsourcing, saying Mexican workers in the country's more developed areas were also vulnerable to low-wage competition, from migrants from southern Mexico or Central America. “That's the way it is,” one told the Post. The Post said that Carrier's labor costs in Mexico are about 80 percent less than in Indiana — and show little sign of rising. From 1997 to 2016, Mexico's hourly compensation costs — salary, social insurance and labor taxes — in the manufacturing sector held steady at about one-tenth the U.S. figure, according to a Conference Board database. That's drawn Carrier and most of its competitors, including Lenox, Trane, Rheem and York, to Mexico along with their suppliers. There is no precise estimate available for the number of U.S. jobs that have moved offshore in the free-trade era. Up to 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs disappeared between 1997 and 2018, according Economic Policy Institute economists. But that figure includes the effects of automation and business failures as well as trade. The U.S. government has formally certified that 202,543 jobs have been offshored during the current administration, according to a recent Public Citizen analysis of Labor Department records that the group says represents an undercount. The loss of U.S. jobs appears to have ebbed since the 2000s, when companies took advantage of China's entry into the World Trade Organization and the earlier creation of a unified North American trading bloc to ship millions of jobs to lower-wage venues. Hopes of stemming the flow of U.S. jobs to Mexico now rest with labor overhauls instituted by the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as well as the terms of Trump's replacement for the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is designed to tilt investment decisions toward the United States by requiring a set percentage of auto manufacturing to be performed by workers making an hourly wage of at least $16. The new accord also includes provisions to permit collective bargaining and to close loopholes allowing Mexican employers to profit by mistreating their workers. Labor advocates say that the Trump administration deserves credit for making the USMCA more worker friendly, including by eliminating a dispute settlement system in NAFTA that allowed corporations to sidestep corrupt local courts, thus making Mexico more attractive as an investment venue. On paper, the Mexican overhauls would allow workers to organize unions outside the company-controlled “white” unions that exist to guarantee big employers labor peace. Even before the pandemic slowed government operations, implementation was behind schedule, according to Gladys Cisneros, Mexico program director for Solidarity Center, an AFL-CIO affiliate. “So far, on the ground, nothing is different for Mexican workers,” Cisneros said. Robert Lighthizer, the president's chief trade negotiator, told the House Ways and Means Committee in June that “labor enforcement in Mexico is going to be a problem.” And Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, said last month that the labor federation already is preparing a list of complaints. Even if the overhauls are implemented, they are unlikely to have a dramatic impact. Roughly 1 of every 7 Mexican workers belongs to a union. The agreement would increase their wages by 17%, producing only a “modest” effect on the U.S. economy, according to the International Trade Commission. Few in the Mexican business community anticipate a major shift of jobs back to the United States. “What is already in Mexico will stay. I don't see it going back,” said Armando Tamez, chief executive of Nemak, a parts supplier to global automakers. The moribund Mexican economy also keeps a lid on wages. José Valdez, CEO of Alpek, one of the largest petrochemical producers in the Americas, said wages can increase only as fast as productivity growth. If government policy tries to force them higher, it will encourage companies to automate instead. “Whoever tells you this is a revolution has to be a Trump supporter or a political guy,” said Valdez. “No businessman would tell you that. We don't see anything changing in reality.” Roberto Russildi, Nuevo Leon state's secretary of economy and labor, says his sales pitch to potential investors emphasizes that “in 21 years, we've had no strikes or major problems” with organized labor. That's one of the reasons Mexico remains attractive as a production center, according to Ernesto Velarde-Danache, a prominent attorney who handles labor relations for multinational corporations. “The reforms are forcing the existing unions to demand better pay. So little by little, things are going to improve. But I don't think it will be at a pace that will be noticeable,” he said. “I don't see Mexico in the next 25 years getting close to the U.S.” So, we will see. Certainly, U.S. trade policy, along with other key policy efforts should be watched closely in the intense policy and budget debates now underway and expected for the coming months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


First Commercial Shipment of US Rice Unloads In China A shipment of premium, medium grain Calrose rice grown in California and sold to China by ADM Rice was unloaded in China Tuesday (October 27), the first commercial sale of U.S. rice to China, according to USA Rice. Under the terms of the phytosanitary agreement reached between the U.S. and China, all rice entering China must be milled and packaged according to specifications and originate from a pre-approved export facility, the group noted. There are currently 32 approved export facilities spread across the six major rice-growing states. U.S. rice entering China under their tariff rate quota faces a 1% in-quota duty in addition to a 25% retaliatory duty, but the group noted, “In most cases, importers in China may apply to waive the retaliatory duty.” USDA's Weekly Export Sales report recently reported the shipment of 20 metric tons of U.S. rice to China that was purchased earlier this year.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


EPA Announces Actions On Dicamba Registrations EPA announces new five-year registrations for two dicamba products and extended the registration of one dicamba product, putting additional control measures in place for their use. New registrations for two “over-the-top” (OTT) dicamba products—XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and Engenia Herbicide—and extended the registration for an additional OTT dicamba product—Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology—were announced by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler at a Georgia farm. These registrations are only for use on dicamba-tolerant (DT) cotton and soybeans and will expire in 2025, the agency said. EPA also put new control measures in place to address drift of the herbicide, including that a pH-buffering agency be tank mixed with OTT products, a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet will be required in areas where listed species are located, OTT applications will be prohibited after June 30 on soybeans and July 30 on cotton and there will be simplified label and use directions. The 2020 registration labels also offer new flexibilities for growers and states, including the use of certain hooded sprayers to reduce the downwind spray buffer. EPA said they believe the action addresses issues raised in the June 2020 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and the control measures now requested means the registrations “do not affect or are not likely to adversely affect endangered or threatened species. Some environmental groups decried the EPA action and it is not clear if they will seek to challenge this latest decision in court.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets After Wednesday's broad, commodity-based selling related to coronavirus concerns, we have to say the daily U.S. infection count will probably get traders attention Thursday. At 7:30 a.m. CDT, USDA will release its weekly export sales report, the U.S. Labor Department will release weekly jobless claims, the Commerce Department will report on third-quarter GDP and the U.S. Drought Monitor will be updated. The International Grains Council will issue its monthly Grain Market Report Thursday morning and at 9:30 a.m. CDT, the Energy Department will report on natural gas inventory. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store for the eastern Midwest, southeastern Plains and Southeast Thursday, causing harvest disruption along with flooding. Damaging tropical storm-force winds are also in store in the Southeast. Other crop areas will be dry with improving harvest conditions

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


EPA Extends Dicamba Registrations The Environmental Protection Agency late Tuesday announced five-year registrations for two dicamba products and the extension of a third. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the registrations include new control measures to ensure the products can be used effectively while protecting the environment, including non-target plants and other crops not tolerant to dicamba. Bayer’s ExtendiMax and BASF’s Engenia received five-year registrations, while Syngenta’s Tavium registration was extended. Corteva’s FeXapan was not included in the announcement. A federal court in June tossed out the registrations for ExtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan, but did not include Tavium. The registrations feature new control measures, including requiring a volatility reduction agent and specific downwind buffers. The federal regulation prohibits over the top application of dicamba on soybeans after June 30 and cotton after July 30. Farm groups have called on the EPA to reregister the products for 2021. However, a staffer at the Center for Food Safety via Twitter called the action "rushed before the election, as a political prop." American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and National Cotton Council Chairman Kent Fountain joined Wheeler for the announcement in Georgia. ************************************************************************************ Wheeler Calls on DOJ to Investigate Environmental Organizations Funding Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler wants the Department of Justice to investigate funding for environmental groups. In a letter to the Justice Department, Wheeler cited concerns the groups were receiving secret funding from foreign countries, specifically China and Russia. The action follows a previous letter by Representative Lance Gooden, a Texas Republican. Gooden requested the investigation earlier this month. Referring to China, Gooden states, “We have reason to believe they are funneling money to certain green groups to influence American foreign policy and our elections.” In Wheeler’s letter, he says foreign investments are not against the law, but says, “foreign influence should not be covert.” Wheeler did not name specific environmental groups. However, Gooden names The Sea Change Foundation, the Sierra Club and the Sunrise Movement in his letter to Wheeler. Administrator Wheeler referred the issue to DOJ, stating, “The DOJ can then determine what appropriate steps to take, if any.” ************************************************************************************ Ethanol Groups Submit Comments on Flex Fuel Vehicles Ethanol Groups this week submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding emissions standard compliance calculations for Flex Fuel vehicles. The Renewable Fuels Association supports the EPA approach to “maintaining some level of certainty for automakers in the absence of future guidance.” RFA also called on the EPA to provide a long-term floor and "more robust" E85 usage factors for future model years, given expected growth and the benefits provided by ethanol flex fuels. RFA Vice President for Regulatory Affairs states, “it is clear that manufacturers will hesitate to invest in certain technologies, like FFVs, unless there is some assurance that those vehicles technologies will help enable CAFE and GHG standard compliance over multiple model years." Growth Energy's comments to EPA state recent trends in government and private investment in biofuels infrastructure, and updated data on E85 availability all lead to growth in higher biofuel blends. Growth Energy says the EPA should "provide appropriate, immediate credit to automakers to continue to produce flex-fuel vehicles to run on these higher biofuel blends." ************************************************************************************ Alltech Launches Survey on Gender Equality Within The Food And Agriculture Alltech Tuesday announced its support of the second annual Women in Food and Ag survey. The survey aims to collect feedback that empowers the agri-food industry to create a more equitable environment. The 2019 Women in Food and Ag survey results revealed specific barriers for women in agriculture and a gap between female and male perceptions but reflected an optimistic outlook. As 2020 ushered in unprecedented challenges for agriculture, new questions have been added to the survey to gauge potential inequalities uncovered by COVID-19. Alltech CEO Mark Lyons says, “Human ingenuity is our Earth’s most valuable resource, and a diverse workforce is essential to building a more sustainable future.” This initiative reflects Alltech’s commitment to the U.N. Global Compact and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal related to gender equality. Women and men in all sectors of the food supply chain are encouraged to contribute to the survey. The survey results will be published in January 2020. The survey is available here: https://www.research.net/r/WFAsurvey2020?lang=en ************************************************************************************ USDA Reports Top Ten Pumpkin Producing States Pumpkins are one of the most famous symbols of fall, and the Department of Agriculture is highlighting the top ten pumpkin producing states. Just in time before Halloween, in a report by the Economic Research Service, USDA notes production is widely dispersed throughout the United States, with all States producing some pumpkins. However, about 62 percent of pumpkin acres were cultivated in only ten States. By acreage and by weight, Illinois is consistently the Nation's largest pumpkin producer. Unlike all other States, most Illinois pumpkins are used for pie filling and other processed foods. The lower price associated with pumpkins destined for further processing explains why Illinois was second in the value of pumpkin production at $17.1 million in 2019. Pumpkins from the other states surveyed annually by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service were primarily intended for decorative or carving use. California leads the Nation in terms of value of production, at $22.8 million. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces $891 Million Investment in Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced an $891 million investment in rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 43 states. Funding 220 projects, the investment will help improve rural water infrastructure for 787,000 residents. The projects are being funded through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand says, "Upgrading water infrastructure provides a path to economic growth and protects the health and safety of people who live and work in rural areas." The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant 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 eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less. Meanwhile, USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements, among other things, in rural communities.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Dealing With the Future China In a long news article this week, Bloomberg argues that no foreign policy issue will plague the next winner of the White House more than China. Already a debate is raging among China watchers over what Washington's next steps should be. Some favor a “reset” to tamp down tensions and return to more constructive diplomacy. Others are fearful of that and argue the U.S. mustn't stray from the hard line. Bloomberg describes a somewhat different reality. As the U.S. struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak and restart its economy, China appears to be gaining strength. Its gross domestic product expanded 4.9% in the third quarter, an “astounding rebound in a world still mostly mired in a pandemic-induced paralysis.” In its own foreign policy, Beijing has barely flinched under U.S. pressure and instead has become more assertive — enhancing its influence in global institutions such as the World Health Organization, crushing the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, turning up the heat on Taiwan, and brawling (literally) with India along their disputed border. In addition, Bloomberg thinks western policies are based on a serious misapprehension of the country's past largely because “Americans encountered China at one of the darkest points in its history and, as a result, hold a “skewed” view of China today. The report points out that China has consistently been one of the world's largest economies over the past 2,000 years—and still was well into the 19th century. Rather than something startling, China's growth into the world's second-largest economy is “a return to the norm,” it says. Centuries before Vasco da Gama felt his way to India in 1498, China was the beating heart of a global economic system, with trade links stretching from South China, across Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, to the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. It also argues that China has “risen” many times in the past—and its latest period of weakness, when it was subordinated to the Western world, hasn't been all that long by its historical standards. It may be more realistic to describe the country's 21st century ascent is as a “restoration,” not so unlike the several imperial restorations of the past, the report says. Such a view would shift the way the West contends with China as it works to resurrect some of its political and economic foreign policy precepts. It also could mean acceptance of the reality that China wants to be and most likely will be a global superpower. An approach meant to “keep China down,” as they see it, likely will generate conflict but few tangible results. A better route may be to allow China more diplomatic space in areas where it doesn't fundamentally damage U.S. interests. Rather than contesting Beijing on everything, if China wants to lose money and alienate other governments building uneconomic railways and roads, the West might “wish it the best,” Bloomberg thinks Still, today's China does present a threat in its expectation that it will be the dominant power in East Asia — a region that is too vital for the West to concede — so the U.S. will need to protect its core interests there. This will require “deft diplomacy through international organizations or alliances rather than vitriol-filled, one-on-one slugfests,” Bloomberg thinks. It also will require the organization of the contending parties in Southeast Asia into a collective to prod Beijing to negotiate. And, it may require cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as working within the World Trade Organization to influence China, rather than outside of it. In fact, a U.S. policy that recognizes Chinese history doesn't equal a soft one. The U.S. should still target China's bad practices — more carefully but also more forcefully. Chinese companies and officials with proven records of stealing technology or participating in human-rights abuses should be sanctioned. Duties ought to be slapped on Chinese exports that are unduly subsidized by the state and, where possible, policies should be adopted to deal with the risks China presents without making them blatantly anti-China. However, Bloomberg does not think that contesting international outrages means a constant fight with “China,” it will need to contend with the Chinese Communist Party — which asserts that the two are equivalent, but they aren't. The scholar-statesmen who managed imperial China, steeped in Confucianism, believed good government was founded on benevolence, not brutality. Chinese history's most tyrannical rulers were usually looked upon with scorn by the Confucians. The report also concludes that just because China has restored itself in the past doesn't automatically mean it will now. Contemporary China is still a middle-income country lacking key technologies and plagued by an artificially aging population. It has a long way to go to become a global superpower. Yet from a policy standpoint, it's wiser to recognize the historical trends that propel it forward and rejigger the world order to address Chinese aspirations--though not its autocracy. It won't be easy. Bloomberg says, but neither is denying history. So, we will see. This is a somewhat dark period with widely and deeply held skepticism regarding trade. However, since access to growing markets will require looking overseas expanding trade will continue to be of great value to many sectors of the economy. Thus the international relationships necessary to build and expand US global market access should be re-examined and revitalized, a process producers should watch closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


EU Cleared To Hit US With Retaliation Over Boeing Subsidies The WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) Monday okayed the European Union (EU) request to hit $3.99 billion in U.S. goods with tariffs over subsidies paid to Boeing that were found to run counter to U.S. WTO commitments. However, EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said he would seek to negotiate a settlement with the U.S., according to a statement. The formal approval by the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO “confirms the EU's right to impose countermeasures for illegal subsidies to the American aircraft maker, Boeing,” he said. “The European Commission is preparing the countermeasures, in close consultation with our Member States. As I have made clear all along, our preferred outcome is a negotiated settlement with the U.S.” The U.S. has offered a proposal to the EU to resolve the Boeing and Airbus disputes that have run for some 16 years, but indications are the EU rejected that US offer. The U.S. side indicated at the WTO session that they also want a negotiated settlement, indicating one could come in a “short period of time.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Payments Top $7.5 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) have reached $7.6 billion as of October 25, including $3.9 billion in acreage-based payments, $2.1 billion for livestock, $843.9 million for sales commodities, $790.1 million for dairy, and $17.8 million for eggs/broilers. By commodity, the payments are led by $2.2 billion for corn, $1.7 billion for cattle. $832.2 million for soybeans, $793 million for sales commodities, $790.1 million for milk, $391.3 million for wheat, $377.9 million for hogs/pigs and $169.6 million for upland cotton. Payouts have reached $500 million or more in five states—Iowa ($776.9 million), Nebraska ($517.9 million), Minnesota ($510.2 million) and Illinois ($505.7 million). CFAP 1 payments stand at $10.3 billion, including $5.0 billion for livestock, $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.8 billion for dairy, $802.6 million for specialty crops and $112.8 million for aqua nursery flora.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders will check the latest weather forecasts for North and South America and the Black Sea region and also pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly energy inventory report, which includes last week's ethanol production. Weather Rain, ice and snow are in store from the Texas Panhandle to the Delta and Deep South Wednesday. This moisture is unfavorable for cotton and will disrupt harvest, while improving conditions for winter wheat. Other crop areas will be drier with improved harvest conditions following weekend rain and snow.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


USDA: More than $7 Billion Paid in Second Round of CFAP The Department of Agriculture has paid more than $7 billion in assistance to farmers as part of round two of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Known as CFAP 2, the program provides farmers with financial aid to help absorb some of the increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “the funding builds upon the over $10 billion disbursed under the first round.” Since CFAP 2 enrollment began in September, the Farm Service Agency has approved more than 443,000 applications. The top five states for payments are Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois and Kansas. Through CFAP 2, USDA is making available up to $14 billion for farmers and ranchers. CFAP 2 is a separate program from the first round of funding. Farmers and ranchers who participated in the original program are not automatically enrolled and must complete a new application for the second round of funding. FSA will accept applications through December 11, 2020. ************************************************************************************ China Has Purchased 71 Percent of Its Phase One Target The Department of Agriculture late last week announced China has followed through on 71 percent of its Phase One Economic and trade Agreement commitments. USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office says that China has purchased over $23 billion in agricultural products to date. Outstanding sales of U.S. corn to China are at an all-time high of 8.7 million tons, and U.S. soybeans sales for marketing year 2021 are off to the strongest start in history. U.S. exports of sorghum to China from January to August 2020 totaled $617 million, up from $561 million for the same period in 2017. U.S. pork exports to China hit a record in just the first five months of 2020, and beef exports to China through August are already more than triple the total for 2017. USDA expects 2020 sales to China to hit record or near-record levels for many U.S. agricultural products, including pet food, alfalfa hay, pecans, peanuts, and prepared foods. ************************************************************************************ Organic Fresh Produce Sales Continue Double-Digit Growth Organic fresh produce in the third quarter of 2020 saw a continuation of trends established in March of this year, with elevated sales across the entire category. A report by the Organic Produce Network shows fresh produce sales topped $2.2 billion for the quarter and accounted for 12 percent of all produce sales, compared to a dollar share of 9.8 percent in the second quarter. Organic Produce Network CEO Matt Seeley says, “sales of organic fresh produce show no signs of slowing and continue to be a major growth opportunity for retailers across the country.” Packaged salads, strawberries and herbs generated the highest growth in organic dollars in the third quarter. Bananas continued to be the volume leader of organic produce offerings, generating 18 percent of total volume and increasing by 8.3 percent from the previous year. For the first half of 2020, organic fresh produce sales were up 11 percent in dollar growth and 13 percent in volume compared to last year. ************************************************************************************ USDA Releases Cattle On Feed Report The latest Cattle on Feed report shows higher cattle inventories as of October 1, 2020. The Department of Agriculture released the monthly report Friday. USDA reported cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.7 million head. The inventory was four percent above October 1, 2019. This is the highest October 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. Placements in feedlots during September totaled 2.23 million head, six percent above 2019. In an analysis of the report, American Farm Bureau Federation economist Michael Nepveux says, “After strong impacts from the pandemic in April and May, the number of cattle on feed has largely followed seasonal patterns.” However, the impacts of the pandemic are still contributing to market uncertainty. Nepveux adds, “It will be interesting to see how the recession eventually impacts beef demand, as recessions tend to not be kind to this particular animal protein.” ************************************************************************************ Farmers National Company Reports Higher Land Prices this Fall Farmers National Company reports buyers are willing to bid up for good quality cropland in the heart of the Midwest this fall, citing two recent sales. In central Iowa, two separate 120-acre tracts brought $13,700 and $13,400 per tillable acre. Meanwhile, a quarter section in central Illinois sold for $13,500 per tillable acre. Randy Dickhut of Farmers National Company says, "these are definitely strong sales with prices up from where they have been the past few years." He says farmers continue to be active bidders for the good cropland that comes up for sale in their areas as they add to their operations. Local investors who are either diversifying their asset portfolio or doing a 1031 tax-deferred exchange are also active bidders in many land sales. Dickhut adds the lack of safe, alternative investments that return more than farmland, such as Treasury bonds, is also another factor in the demand for land. ************************************************************************************ Lawsuit Claims EPA Approved “Dangerous” Fungicide The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's approval of a new fungicide. The EPA approved the new fungicide, inpyrfluxam (in-PEER-flux-um), in August. The two groups in a lawsuit claim the approval came "despite compelling research showing it to be very highly toxic to fish, including endangered salmon and steelhead." Additionally, the lawsuit claims the fungicide poses substantial risks to large birds, including whooping cranes. The EPA approved the fungicide for use on some of the most widely grown U.S. crops, including corn, soy, grains, beans, sugar beets, apples and peanuts. The fungicide was approved for foliar and seed treatment uses to protect against Rhizoctonia species causing seed decay, seedling damping‐off, and root rot. The Center for Biological Diversity says, “The EPA broke the law when it failed to make sure this highly toxic fungicide won't drive endangered species closer to extinction, and we're going to hold the agency accountable."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Global Economic Temperature Check Ahead Bloomberg commented this week on expectations for three Group of Seven interest-rate decisions along with data accounting for 40% of global gross domestic product. It expects these will provide a “temperature check for the crisis-disfigured world economy” this week during its most traumatic year for generations. While the U.S. and euro regions likely have achieved unprecedented growth rebounds in the third quarter, that will only serve to underscore the volatility and disruption inflicted by the coronavirus – as opposed to any meaningful repair to the damage caused, Bloomberg says. Concurrently, the central banks of Canada, Japan and the euro area are all likely to signal renewed anxiety at the persistence of the disease and its lingering impact at a time of resurgent infections in Europe. The cumulative snapshot of growth and policy on three continents will form a definitive backdrop on the state of the world economy before the U.S. election the following week, Bloomberg says. In the aftermath of that vote on Nov. 3, decisions by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England will then complete the latest sweep of G-7 monetary authorities determining borrowing costs and stimulus across the bloc. Bloomberg's view is that “the week ahead is set to bring good news about the past, but bad news about the future.” In the U.S., third quarter GDP will show a record expansion, but “with stimulus talks stalled and the virus case count rising, the outlook is darkening.” In Europe, the report says the group expects ECB President Christine Lagarde to acknowledge intensifying risks to the recovery and signal further support ahead.” Bloomberg also notes that the central bank in Ottawa has made a long-term commitment to keep interest rates at historic lows and will use the upcoming rate decision to reinforce that guidance. That likely means holding the benchmark interest rate at 0.25%, reiterating that it will likely stay there for years and pledging to continue buying government bonds to support that policy. Yet, with growing concern that the Bank of Canada could end up cornering the market for Canadian debt, officials are under pressure to provide some details on how it could temper its reliance on asset purchases without tightening policy. With regard to developments in Asia, the report says that Bank of Japan officials are widely expected to hold fire on Thursday as governor Haruhiko Kuroda reiterates the need to monitor the effectiveness of the bank's virus-response measures and his resolve to take swift action if needed. The Bank of Japan will also release updated growth and inflation forecasts that will continue to show prices falling in the current fiscal year. The BOJ's focus on providing funding for struggling firms and calming markets through asset buying has put its inflation campaign on the back burner for now. Policy makers are likely to argue that with only minor tweaks to the projections, the base scenario for the economy to gradually pick up remains unchanged. Still, the figures will again raise the question of what else the central bank can do to reach its distant 2% inflation target over the long run. European Central Bank (ECB) policy makers also will meet on Thursday when discussion will be dominated by concerns regarding impacts that the sudden resurgence of the pandemic could have on the recovery – and whether more stimulus is already needed. What ECB President Christine Lagarde described as a strong rebound over the summer months now risks turning into a double-dip recession after countries from Ireland to France and Germany imposed new restrictions to stop the spike in virus infections. Most economists expect the ECB to keep its 1.35 trillion euro emergency bond-buying program unchanged for now, with roughly half of the money from the package still waiting to be spent. Officials also have reasons to wait until December to unveil additional stimulus when new forecasts could allow them to better calibrate the response. The expectations are that the program will get additional 500 billion euros and be extended until the end of 2021. Overall, Bloomberg said its expectations for the evaluation of the U.S. economy likely will conclude that it probably charged ahead in the third quarter at the fastest pace in official data back to the 1940s as pandemic restrictions were lifted and that GDP increased at a 32% annualized rate, with a record gain in consumer spending. However, the devastation wrought by the coronavirus is expected to linger: total inflation-adjusted economic output is seen remaining below the $19.3 trillion at the end of 2019. The euro-area economy probably expanded more modestly during the quarter – but still by a record. The 9% increase seen by economists likely will be insufficient to erase the contraction of the first half of the year. This could mean that the new data on Friday are overshadowed by negative economic confidence readings, falling consumer prices and forecasts of stagnation in the current three-month period because of a resurgence in coronavirus cases. So, we will see. The overall picture includes most of the global economy working to confront the impacts of the coronavirus as uncertainty grows as to how best to proceed. These are trends and challenges for all governments and should be watched closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


USDA Announces Another Round of Its Food Box Effort USDA authorizes $500 million for a fourth round of purchases for the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program, with the focus on those who need food during the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA expects to award contracts by Friday for deliveries of food boxes from November 1 through December 31. The announcement helped fuel milk futures as dairy products are a major focus. The program will continue the purchase of combination boxes to include fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products. “We recently surpassed 110 million boxes delivered, and millions more are headed to Americans in need,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “I'm very pleased that we are able to extend this program and continue our relief efforts for American farmers and families.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


USDA Now Expects 2021 Rise In Restaurant Prices To Match 2020 The consumer price index for food away from home (restaurant prices) in 2021 is now forecast to be from 2.0% to 3.0%, up from USDA's prior forecast and even with the rate of grocery store price inflation for 2020, according to the Economic Research Service (ERS). “Forecast ranges for eight of the 22 CPI categories for 2020 have been revised upward this month, with only eggs being revised downward,” ERS said. “The forecast range for food-away-from-home was adjusted upward, while all other categories remained unchanged for 2021.” In September, USDA expected 2021 grocery store prices would rise 1.5% to 2.5% from 2020 levels. ERS forecasts grocery store prices in 2020 will rise between 2.5% to 3.5% in 2020 with restaurant prices seen rising 2% to 3%. In 2021, ERS expects grocery store prices to rise between 1% and 2%. Overall food price inflation is looked to be 2.5% to 3.5% in 2020 and then rise 2.0% to 3.0% in 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Durable goods report along with consumer confidence are two of the economic reports that we will be watching. Also, traders will be focused on new export sales, especially by China, at 8 a.m. Weather in Eastern Ukraine and southern Russia will be closely watched, as they continue to suffer through drought conditions. Weather Freezing rain and snow are in store for a large portion of the southern Plains and Texas Panhandle Tuesday. We'll also see rain through the remainder of Texas into the Gulf coast along with the southeastern Midwest. Other crop areas will be dry. Cold conditions in northern and central areas will keep harvest progress slow.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


KC Fed: Fewer Loans Issued to Farmers Limits Overall Lending Activity The Kansas City Federal Reserve says a slower pace of farm financing activity continued in the third quarter of 2020. The total volume of non-real estate farm loans remained subdued amid ongoing weakness in the ag sector, thanks in part to developments regarding COVID-19. The National Survey of Terms of Lending to Farmers says despite growing 15 percent from the previous year, total non-real-estate loan volumes in the third quarter of 2020 were below the 20-year trend for that period. Loans for operating expenses increased from last year but were still less than the previous three years. Loans to finance feeder livestock and farm machinery followed a similar trend, while the volume of loans for other livestock remained steady. All other loans declined for the second straight year, further weighing down the overall loan volumes. The number of new loans originated to farmers also declined for nearly all loan types. The total quantity of loans issued to farmers decreased, driven by a 12 percent decline in the number of operating loans. Similar to the prior quarter, government payments and lending programs may have offset both declines in farm revenues and financing needs of some farm borrowers in the third quarter. ********************************************************************************************** Stabenow Leads Opposition Against USDA Decision on Dairy Aid Senate Ag Committee Member Debbie Stabenow is leading a group of 15 senators asking Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to reverse a decision that excluded dairy farmers from getting coronavirus aid for losses from meat produced from breeding animals. The Hagstrom Report says the senators point out that losses from meat produced from breeding animals were included in the first Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, but not in the second, which is known as CFAP 2. “This change will affect the livestock industry and will be particularly harmful to dairy farmers, who often operate at extremely tight margins,” the senators wrote in the letter. “The decision is even more troubling considering that USDA clearly has sufficient resources to cover these losses.” Additionally, they say the move would avoid confusing farmers. “It will be less complicated for both USDA and livestock farmers to cover all livestock and avoid confusion about what animals are covered or excluded,” they add. The senators say dairy farmers were struggling with prolonged market uncertainty, unfair trade practices, and the Administration’s “chaotic trade policies” long before COVID-19 hit. Considering the industry’s tight margins, the decision to exclude dairy farm losses related to meat production will be a significant blow. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Journal Report Shows Farmers Expect Stable to Higher Land Prices Like a lot of other aspects of the economy, 2020 has put downward pressure on farmland values, thanks in part to events like trade disputes and an economic downturn. At the same time, COVID-19 restrictions and uncertainty have left the market with much less available land. Farm Journal recently took a “Pulse Poll” of farmers on what they expect land values to do over the next year. The results show farmers seem to be looking for steady land values during the year ahead, but market analysts see the potential for strength in land prices. 28-percent of the survey respondents expect higher land prices, while 60 percent say prices will be stable. Just 12 percent of responses expect lower land prices. Doug Hensley, President of Real Estate Services for Hertz Farm Management, tells Farm Journal that four factors that may lead to a stronger farmland market. They include a limited inventory of farms for sale, rising commodity prices, higher government support for farmers, and interest rates that are staying low. While local markets can sometimes vary wildly, Hensley sees the overall market as back to where it was during early 2020: “Stable, with an overall bias to stronger,” he says. ************************************************************************************ “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner,” Returning for the Holidays The holidays may look a little different in 2020. However, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Beef Checkoff want one thing to remain the same, and that’s beef. “Beef. It’s What’s for Holiday Dinner.” For the first time since 2003, the iconic “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” brand will be on television. It will air a limited number of ads during the Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas movies. The campaign released a successful video last year called the “Drool Log.” It’s a two-hour video of a Beef Prime Rib slowly cooking over an open flame, and viewers saw it more than. NCBA shortened the video to 15 seconds in the ads that will appear in late November and through December on the Hallmark Channel. In addition to bringing the brand back to television, the “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” brand will help consumers learn how to make the perfect holiday meal through fully integrated digital and social media work. Whether families are having a smaller family gathering or working with a tighter budget, there’s a beef option for everyone, and experts will be available through an updated landing page on www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com as a one-stop-shop for all cooking needs. *****************************************t***************************************************** Farmland Transfer Program Secures New Funding to Help a New Generation of Ag American Farmland Trust is a national leader in protecting agricultural land, as well as promoting environmentally-sound farming practices and keeping farmers on their farmland. AFT has just received an award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture under the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to fund the “Transitioning Land to a New Generation: Preparing Trainers to Help Facilitate Transfer” program. The funding amount of $750,000 will go to develop a skills-based curriculum to support a new generation of producers and agricultural landowners as they confront the complex financial, legal, and interpersonal issues related to their agricultural land and business transfer. “More than 40 percent of American farmland is owned by people 65 and older,” says Julia Freedgood, AFT Director of Farms for a New Generation. “Given they are at retirement age, the land is likely to change hands in the foreseeable future.” At the same time, she says it’s difficult for a new generation of farmers and ranchers to acquire affordable land with appropriate housing and infrastructure due to farm consolidation, appreciation of land values, conversion of farmland to development, and a tight supply of available land. “American Farmland Trust will be working with a national cohort of service providers to help bridge the gap,” Freedgood says. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Announces Fourth Round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program The USDA says it has authorized $500 million for the fourth round of purchases for the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. As in the third round, states in the program have been allocated a certain number of boxes based on the internal needs of each state. The program will continue the purchase of combination boxes to include fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products. The program will continue to require that proposals illustrate how coverage would be provided to areas identified as opportunity zones. “I’m gratified by the overwhelmingly positive response to the Farms to Families Food Box Program from families, distributors, food banks, faith-based organizations, and non-profits across the country,” says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We recently surpassed 110 million boxes delivered, and millions more are headed to Americans in need. I’m very happy that we can extend this program and continue our relief efforts for American farmers and families.” The agency will award contracts for the fourth round by October 30, while deliveries of food boxes will run from November 1 through December 31.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Economic Pressures Weigh on Small Businesses Bloomberg reported this week that economic pressures are building on many smaller businesses, and that they face greater economic threats than do larger firms. The report looked at SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., a publicly traded corporation, that “easily borrowed almost $730 million in the recent capital markets.” During the same period, a smaller firm, GeckoParx, is “shutting its doors after burning through nearly all of its money,” Bloomberg said. The gulf between big companies that have ready access to credit and just about everyone else got wider in the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, as the Federal Reserve blew open capital markets and pledged to keep interest rates low as long as needed. However, bond markets are rarely an option for the likes of GeckoParx, with its 40,000 square feet of trampolines, ninja courses and arcades. The divide over access to corporate credit — who can get it, and who can't — is likely to deepen, Bloomberg thinks. Small businesses employ almost half of the country's private-sector workforce and have contributed about two-thirds of net employment gains in recent years. They so far have proved more resilient than feared thanks in part to Paycheck Protection Program government-backed loans. But that aid ended in August without reaching some of the tiniest and most vulnerable firms, especially those owned by minorities. Prospects for more stimulus before the Nov. 3 presidential election remain highly uncertain. By one estimate, the number of U.S. small businesses has dropped by almost a quarter compared with January, Bloomberg says. That's fueling concerns that large companies, some enriched by the pandemic's impact, will move in to fill the void. After using almost all the money they got through the PPP to keep their staff on payroll, Darlene and Mike Moore closed their southern-style restaurant in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, in mid-September, just under three years after opening. “We knew we weren't going to be able to sustain ourselves,” Darlene, 41 and a mother of two, said. “It became too much to endure.” The PPP, part of an unprecedented stimulus package passed by Congress in March in response to the pandemic, was always meant as a short-term stopgap for firms with fewer than 500 employees. After a rocky start, the PPP reached hundreds of thousands of truly small companies by the time it closed to new applications on Aug. 8. But many more were left behind, rejected by lenders or daunted by burdensome and often confusing rules to get the loans converted into grants. Even if lawmakers extend the expired PPP to allow recipients to get a second loan, it won't be enough to help those who never got one in the first place, said advocacy group Small Business Majority. By contrast, the Fed's action benefited all types of borrowers, as long as they were big enough to issue bonds. One of the peculiarities of the COVID-19 crisis is the divide created between bigger and smaller firms, said Robert Bartlett, a professor of law and faculty co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Business. The Fed's effort to add liquidity to the system allowed both investment-grade and junk-rated companies to access financing, while smaller firms were left with tighter credit markets, he said. The Fed announced its plan to directly purchase corporate bonds in late March, and expanded it to include some junk-rated debt in early April. The program included SeaWorld, which had been troubled before the pandemic forced it to temporarily close all of its 12 parks. About a month after the Fed's announcement the Orlando-based company had sold $227.5 million of bonds. In July SeaWorld made another trip to the bond market, announcing its offer on the same day it disclosed a 96% drop in second-quarter preliminary revenue compared with a year earlier. The bond attracted so much demand that the deal was increased by $100 million to $500 million. “The pandemic has unquestionably affected businesses of all sizes in the travel, tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries including SeaWorld,'' the company said in an emailed statement. “We have made difficult but necessary decisions to shore up our balance sheet using available resources to put the company in the best possible position to continue to contribute to our nation's recovery.” Any concentration in market power could exacerbate disturbing trends in the U.S. economy that already emerged as a result of a decline in competition, according to an August paper by two Federal Reserve Board economists. They identified deepening inequality and financial instability as a result of larger firms controlling more of their markets. A New York Fed study said that Black-owned firms have been almost twice as likely to shutter compared to all others. About 41% of Black- and Latino-owned business said they won't make it through the next few months without additional financial support, according to an SBA report. Frank Knapp, 68, whose family owns a dog-boarding business in Columbia, South Carolina, got PPP relief money in a second round to help stay afloat. He worries small businesses that go away will simply be replaced by larger competitors. “The customers they were serving aren't doing without,” Knapp said. “They are going to get their service from a bigger business that survived.” So, we will see. The effort to make the anti-virus programs truly equitable has been both controversial and difficult. It should be watched closely by producers as the economic season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


USDA To Seek More Input On Cell-Based Meat USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) plans to gather more information about cell-based meat and poultry products before it issues labeling regulations. The agency on Thursday (October 22) told IHS Markit that it intends to publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking public comments to inform future labeling rules for cell-based meat and poultry products. “The ANPR will help ensure that a public process, allowing stakeholder comments, is used to develop labeling regulations,” according to FSIS. The agency did not provide specifics on when it would release an ANPR but said the rulemaking will be listed in the fall Unified Regulatory and Deregulatory Agenda and then published in the Federal Register.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


Democratic Senators Call For Change In CFAP 2 Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and 14 Democratic Senate colleague are calling on USDA to reverse what they labeled an "arbitrary decision" that excludes lost meat sales by dairy farmers during the pandemic as eligible for COVID-19 aid payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2). The senators noted that losses from meat produced from breeding animals was included in CFAP 1 but not the CFAP 2 effort. “This change will affect the livestock industry and will be particularly harmful to dairy farmers who often operate at extremely tight margins,” the senators said. “The decision is even more troubling considering that USDA clearly has sufficient resources to cover these losses. Additionally, it is less complicated for both USDA and farmers to cover all livestock and avoid confusion about what animals are covered or excluded.” It is not clear that the urgings from the lawmakers will result in a change in the CFAP 2 effort at this stage

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will likely start the new week getting familiar with the latest weather forecasts and will watch for any export sales news from USDA at 8 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Census Bureau will release September new home sales at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly grain inspections report at 10 a.m. USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. CDT will have harvest and winter wheat planting updates. Weather Snow and rain are in store for the Southern Plains Monday, offering favorable moisture for winter wheat. This wintry mix will also spread through the southern Midwest with disruption to harvest. Other crop areas will be drier. A very cold pattern in northern and central areas will delay harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


2019 Organic Survey results show sales up 31% from 2016 The Department of Agriculture’s 2019 Organic Survey released Thursday finds total sales of $9.93 billion in organic products, an increase of $2.37 billion, or 31 percent, from 2016. Released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the report shows there were 16,500 certified organic farms, a 17 percent increase from 2016, which accounted for 5.5 million certified acres, an increase of nine percent over 2016. California continued to lead the nation in certified organic sales with $3.6 billion, which is 36 percent of the U.S. total and four times that of any other state. Top organic commodities include livestock and poultry products, milk, vegetables and fruit. The survey also asked producers about plans for future production. Twenty-nine percent of farms plan to increase their level of organic production. More than 1,800 certified organic farms have 255,000 additional acres in the three-year transition period required for land to become certified as organic. An additional 710 farms not currently certified reported 61,000 acres of land transitioning to organic production. ************************************************************************************ E15 Ethanol Blend Testing Begins in California The corn industry is working with the California Air Resources Board to conduct E15 vehicle testing at the University of California at Riverside. The National Corn Growers Association says E15 in the California market is vital to growing ethanol demand. The testing will demonstrate the environmental benefits and compatibility of E15 in selected makes and models of vehicles. The process will help pave the way for sales of E15 and higher blends of ethanol in California. NCGA Ethanol Action Team members JR Roesner says if E15 becomes the base fuel in California, “the potential market opportunity would be roughly 750 million gallons of ethanol or 260 million bushels of corn." Tests will be conducted on 20 late-model vehicles to measure tailpipe and evaporative emissions. Testing a broad sample of makes, models, and technology levels with both E10 and E15 blends will provide the state with the necessary information to permit the sale of E15 in California. ************************************************************************************ Senators Ask EPA not to Increase RVO or Reallocate Gallons under RFS A group of Senators urge the Environmental Protection Agency to not increase the Renewable Volume Obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2021. Specifically, the Senators asked Administrator Wheeler to use his statutory authorities under the Clean Air Act to cite “severe economic harm” and employ a general waiver to not increase the RVO for 2021. Given that COVID-19 has suppressed demand for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, the lawmakers claim any increase in the mandate would cause severe and outsized economic harm next year by raising costs for consumers, particularly at the gas pump. Additionally, the letter urges the EPA to not reallocate prior year obligations that would “increase burdens on refiners of all sizes, including small refiners.” Led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, the group states any increase in blending volume mandates would create “another drag” on the nation’s economy trying to recover from a pandemic. ************************************************************************************ Senator Seeks Disaster Assistance for Winegrape Growers A Senator from the Pacific Northwest is asking Senate colleagues to provide additional assistance for winegrape growers impacted by wildfires in 2020. Ron Wyden, A Democrat from Oregon, made the request to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture this week. In the 2019 disaster relief package, Congress provided $3 million through the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program for winegrowers whose grapes were damaged by wildfires in 2018 and 2019. Wildfires have again burned millions of acres of land throughout the West and caused heavy layers of smoke in 2020. Because of that, Wyden says winegrape growers now require the same assistance. Wildfire smoke can alter the flavor of grapes, making them unusable for wine. Wyden states, "the WHIP program is designed to compensate producers in this very situation, and it is critical that Congress provide this necessary assistance." Wyden made the request in a letter to the leadership of the agriculture appropriations subcommittee. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces 3.1 Billion Investment in Rural Electric Infrastructure Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Thursday announced a $3.1 billion rural electric infrastructure investment in 25 states. The Department of Agriculture is investing in 53 projects through the Electric Loan Program, benefitting 1.4 million rural residents and businesses across the country. The announcement is part of a record level of USDA electric infrastructure investments in one fiscal year. The department invested $6.3 billion in the Electric Loan Program in fiscal year 2020, up from $5.8 billion in 2019, also a record. USDA made loans to 119 utilities in 34 states across the country during fiscal year 2020, which ended on September 30. Those figures build upon the $3.7 billion invested in 2018. USDA’s Electric Program helps finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce clean energy from coal-fired plants. Local utilities also use the loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable power to thousands of residential, commercial and agricultural consumers. ************************************************************************************ 93rd National FFA Convention and Expo Next Week FFA members and supporters from across the country will log on to their smart devices next week to celebrate agriculture during the 93rd National FFA Convention and Expo. The event, which is traditionally the largest student convention in the country, will be held virtually this year. While the event will look different this year, an FFA spokesperson says it will "still have the amazing programming that we always offer our students and supporters." The general sessions, which will recognize the award winners, will air live on RFD-TV and the Cowboy Channel and streamed on RFD-TV Now, the Cowboy Channel + app and FFA.org, allowing members and supporters to tune in and watch gavel-to-gavel coverage of the events with no registration required. Those who register for the virtual event can experience many of the traditional convention experiences, including a member experience room, the Expo Hall, and Blue Room, staples of the in-person event. The convention will wrap up with the election of the 2020-21 National FFA Officer Team.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fight Over Offshoring Jobs Continues Bloomberg is reporting this week that U.S. industrial jobs are continuing to move offshore — and that “major U.S. losses have been eating at the U.S. industrial core for decades, rather than simply the economic carnage caused by COVID-19.” The report also says that these trends highlight “a particularly stark example of how the administration has struggled to live up to its promises to end a decades-long migration of American factories overseas.” President Trump built a political brand around “America First” trade and tax policies that were meant to repatriate U.S. jobs. From the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement to the trade war with China, the administration is claiming that it has ended an era of offshoring and laid the foundation for an industrial renaissance. Bloomberg thinks the reality is more complicated—and that when it comes to offshoring, the data point to an enduring trend rather than a revolution. It argues that this can be seen in the applications for Trade Adjustment Assistance, the federal program that is the best available barometer on the effects of corporate disinvestment on employment. In the first three and a half years of the current administration, the U.S. Department of Labor approved 1,996 petitions covering 184,888 jobs shifted overseas. During the equivalent period of President Barack Obama's second term, 1,811 petitions were approved covering 172,336 workers. The report notes that stopping the outflow of factory jobs is a bipartisan priority in this election year and that former Vice President Joe Biden is proposing a tax credit for U.S. companies that bring production home and a 10% surtax on profits linked to new factories built overseas. He also has pledged to tighten Buy American provisions in government procurement and wants to close loopholes in the administration's tax reforms that he says encourage some industries to continue offshoring. But the past four years have shown that the policy levers presidents have available don't erase the lure of overseas markets where the consumer class is growing at a faster clip than in the U.S. and the costs of running a factory are lower. “At the end of the day it's hard through trade agreements to push back against these much larger economic forces,” says Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. The administration rebranded NAFTA, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and now requires automakers to use more parts made in North America. That agreement includes a provision to have at least 40% of components come from factories paying at least $16 an hour. The industry consensus is that these rules, which do not go fully into effect until 2025, may eventually prod automakers and their suppliers to channel more of their investment into U.S. plants, particularly as production of electric vehicles ramps up. Administration officials say that's already happening. As evidence, they cite the $2.3 billion joint venture General Motors Co. and Korea's LG Chem Ltd. announced last year to build a battery plant in Ohio. “We clearly reversed a long trend of jobs moving away from the U.S. in this industry and are bringing new investment and jobs back,” Trump's trade czar, Robert Lighthizer, wrote to Bloomberg. “The notion that companies are moving to Mexico now is ridiculous.” Labor Department data tell a different story, Bloomberg says. In the first six months of 2020 alone, the agency approved 25 petitions for trade aid related to auto parts factories going overseas. Fifteen involved relocations to Mexico. According to Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, the new NAFTA has not provoked an investment surge. From 2013 through 2016 automakers announced investments worth $47.3 billion in the U.S., she says. From 2017 to 2019 the equivalent figure was $38.3 billion. “Investment goes along with growth in the market,” Dziczek says, and auto sales in the U.S. peaked in 2016. The report also says that plant closures like International Automotive Components in Huron, Ohio, leave the administration vulnerable to criticism of USMCA, which it sees as one of its signature economic achievements. “They tried to give it this new name and burnish it, and shine it up a bit. But it's just NAFTA 2,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, whose district includes Huron. She voted against the USMCA last year. In written responses to questions, IAC would say only that the Huron plant was closing after 30 years because customers were ending vehicle programs. The company has been more explicit about other plants. The loss of 145 jobs in Dayton, Tenn., came because “production will be shifted to a foreign country,” IAC told the Department of Labor. In Madisonville, Ky., 111 jobs were cut because contracts “are being shifted to productions facilities in Canada and Mexico,” according to another filing. In the eyes of former workers at the Huron IAC plant, the blame for its demise lies somewhere between a management team that wasn't aggressive enough in chasing down new business and an administration that didn't live up to its promises. So, we will see. Certainly, U.S. trade policy will be front and center in political debates for the duration of the current campaigns, and beyond. These are often controversial and bitter fights that producers should watch closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


GOP Senators Call On EPA to Waive RFS Requirements For 2021 EPA should consider a general waiver of biofuel requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in a bid to help refiners with the impacts of the pandemic. The lawmakers said that EPA should use its authority to make sure that RFS obligations for refineries provide “regulatory certainty for 2021, do not exceed the 'blend wall' of ethanol's proportion of actually marketable fuel blends, and—perhaps most pressingly—account for the unprecedented collapse in demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel resulting from the economic downturn associated with the COVID-19 crisis.” The lawmakers said the downturn in demand means Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for 2021 “must be reduced to prevent outstripping the 'blend wall,' an unprecedented rise in the cost of Renewable Identification Number (RIN) offset credits, or both.” They maintain that keeping current RVO levels or expanding them would impose “severe economic harm,” one of the conditions that indicate the need for a general waiver of RFS requirements. They also called on EPA not to reallocate any volumes linked to small refinery exemptions (SREs) and to set 2022 biodiesel and 2021 advanced and cellulosic biofuel levels at marks that ensure compliance. “Put simply, EPA must not mandate blending too much biofuel into a dwindling fuel supply,” the lawmakers concluded, noting that any increases in the 2021 RVOs would impact consumers and shift economic hardships to refiners from ethanol producers. EPA has not yet finalized the 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel levels with its proposed rule still shown as being under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has signaled the COVID pandemic has prompted the agency to take a new look at the proposal and now the focus is on whether the agency will meet the November 30 deadline to finalize those levels.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


China Makes Soyoil Buy And Ups Purchases Of Corn, Soybeans, Other Products Sales of U.S. ag goods to China continue for several commodities, with the country showing up as a buyer of U.S. soyoil for the first time in the current marketing year. For the week ended October 15, USDA reported net export sales for 2020/21 of 433,521 metric tons of corn, 195,804 metric tons of sorghum, 1.22 million metric tons of soybeans, 11,000 mt of soyoil, and 47,513 running bales of upland cotton. No new sales of wheat or rice were reported. For 2021/22, USDA reported net sales of 17,160 running bales of upland cotton. For 2020, net sales of 3,667 metric tons of beef and 1,802 metric tons of pork were also reported.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets The only official report on Friday's docket is USDA's monthly cattle on-feed at 2 p.m. CDT. Traders will continue to pay close attention to the latest weather forecasts and any new export sales announcements that come up. Weather Rain will cover the southeastern Plains through eastern Midwest Friday, bringing harvest to a halt for the weekend. We'll also see more disruptive snow in the northern Midwest. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Conditions will be very cold for the season north and west and very warm for the season south and east. Arctic cold is set to spread through the central U.S. during the next five days.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


China Forecast Higher Domestic Pork Supplies Pork Supplies for China’s upcoming Lunar New Year are projected 30 percent higher than year-ago levels. A Chinese agriculture official says the recovery will reduce prices compared with last year during the holiday. China’s Lunar New Year holiday is known as the country’s most important holiday where pork is traditionally served at millions of family meals. It will begin February 11, 2021. Chinese agriculture officials tell Reuters that pig producers have built 12,500 new large-scale pig farms in the first three quarters of the year and restarted more than 13,000 empty farms. Officials say the recovery had been “better than expected” from African swine fever, which impacted at least 40 percent of China’s hog herd. The increased pork supplies reflect the recovery, but also large imports of pork. The U.S. Meat Export Federation says through August, exports to China and Hong Kong more than doubled last year’s totals in both volume and value. ************************************************************************************ August Derecho Costliest Thunderstorm Event The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls the August derecho the most expensive thunderstorm event in modern history. As part of NOAA’s Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters list, the August derecho is estimated to have caused $7.5 billion in damages. The storm traveled from southeast South Dakota to Ohio, a path of 770 miles in 14 hours producing widespread winds greater than 100 mph. The states most affected included Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio. The storm caused widespread damage to millions of acres of corn and soybean crops across central Iowa. There was also severe damage to homes, businesses and vehicles. In addition, there were 15 tornadoes across northeastern Illinois, with several affecting the Chicago metropolitan area. While noting wildfire damages are to be determined, NOAA says the thunderstorm is second to Hurricane Laura in 2020, which caused $14 billion in damages. Other 2020-billion-dollar weather events include tornado outbreaks in the Southeast and Tennessee, and several severe thunderstorm events this spring. ************************************************************************************ Smith Urges USDA to Provide Incentives to Stop CRP Enrollment Decline A Senator from Minnesota wants the Department of Agriculture to increase incentive payments to stop the enrollment decline in the Conservation Reserve Program. Senate Democrat Tina Smith sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week asking him to significantly increase Practice Incentive Payments and begin making rental rate incentive payments, both tools that past Administrations have used to maintain strong enrollment in CRP. Joined by four other Democratic colleagues in the Senate, the lawmakers pointed out that during a time of declining CRP enrollment, USDA has offered Practice Incentive Payments at only five percent of the cost of the practice, even after the 2018 Farm Bill authorized USDA to pay farmers up to 50 percent of the cost. Past Administrations have also offered rental rate payments to incentivize enrollment, something the Trump Administration has not done. In 2020, 5.36 million acres of CRP land are scheduled to expire, while just 3.54 million acres have enrolled in the program, resulting in the loss of nearly two million acres. ************************************************************************************ State Cattle Groups Support Cattle Market Transparency Act More than a dozen state cattle organization voice their support for the Cattle Market Transparency Act. In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee leadership, 16 state cattle groups say the bill "will aid in cattle market transparency for all producers." Led by the Nebraska Cattlemen's Association, the group says, "our respective organizations do not ask for any type of market manipulation or guaranteed profit." Rather, they seek readily available information to allow cattle producers the ability to make informed and educated decisions. Introduced by Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, the bill includes the cattle contract library, 14-day packer purchase commitment outlook, and clarification of Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting confidentiality guidelines to avoid non-reporting of collected data on a regional and national basis. Additionally, the bill directs the Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Marketing Service to establish regionally negotiated cash plus negotiated grid marketing volume minimums thresholds that enhance price discovery goals and commitments. ************************************************************************************ USDA NIFA Providing Citrus Disease Research Grants The National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently awarded 12 grants totaling over $45 million for researchers to combat citrus greening disease. A NIFA spokesperson says the research “is critical to help farmers find scientifically sound solutions to citrus greening.” Although citrus greening is a serious threat to the citrus industry worldwide, significant progress has been made to coordinate a multipronged approach for citrus greening management. The progress includes the suppression of an insect that carries and spreads the disease. The 12 grants were awarded to the University of California Riverside, University of California Davis, Yale University, and University of Florida Gainesville, among other higher education institutions. Earlier this month, the Department of Agriculture projected Florida orange production for 2020-21 down 15 percent. Citrus greening is one of many factors for the lower production, a trend occurring over the past decade. It’s estimated citrus greening has caused a 21 percent reduction in fresh citrus fruit and a 72 percent decline in orange production in the United States. ************************************************************************************ Impossible Foods Expanding, Calls Animal Ag “Most Destructive Technology on Earth” Impossible Foods is expanding its multifaceted technology platform, accelerating product development, and plans to double its research and development team's size over the next 12 months. Based in California's Silicon Valley, Impossible Foods makes meat and dairy imitation products from plants. The company says the expansion helps it reach its goal to reverse global warming. Impossible Foods takes aim at animal agriculture, calling it “the most destructive technology in human history.” The company claims producing the Impossible Burger uses about 87 percent less water, generates about 89 percent less greenhouse gases and requires around 96 percent less land than conventional ground beef. Impossible Foods is self-described as one of America's fastest-growing brands and the leading driver of growth in the plant-based food category. Impossible Foods has more than 250 patents and patents pending. Its intellectual property includes methods to decode and reverse-engineer the molecular foundations and entire sensory experience of animal-derived meat, including how it tastes, cooks, sizzles and smells, and how to recreate the experience without animals.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Bigger Weekly Unemployment Checks Built a Buffer The New York Times is reporting this week on some of the impacts of the $600 weekly unemployment benefit — even as the odds of a new stimulus package appear to be dwindling. The report says the recent policy was “a remarkably effective expansion of the safety net. It helped pay many workers more than their lost wages. It enabled families to spend more than during normal times. It even allowed households to put away savings as the economy was teetering.” Then the money stopped at the end of July. The article concludes that “it's clear, looking back, what happened next: Workers quickly burned through the reserves that the aid had given them.” Of the savings many households were able to build up over the course of four months of unusually generous government help, much of it was gone by the end of August. Unemployed workers — and the economy at large — were effectively living off the exhaust fumes of the CARES Act heading into the fall, Peter Ganong, an economist at the University of Chicago who studied the data, told the Times. The researchers can't yet tell what happened to these workers' finances in September, but the reality appears to be grim. If the $600 checks created something of a life preserver for jobless workers, that life preserver deflated quickly, Ganong said. Two and a half months after the benefits ended, Congress and the White House have been unable to reach an agreement on a stimulus package to revive them. President Trump signaled this week that he wants a big deal, against the wishes of many Senate Republicans, but hopes have dimmed for an agreement before the election. “It's honestly kind of staggering to me that Congress could leave us in this position,” said Daniel Lawson, who has been without a job in New York City since early in the pandemic. He believes he caught the coronavirus while working at a Trader Joe's in March and is still living with its effects: the fatigue, the brain fog, the sense of smell that hasn't returned to normal yet. Faced with dwindling savings and constant bills, most households face a dilemma. “The choices are to stop spending on regular everyday purchases, or stop making payments like mortgages, student loans, auto loans, credit cards,” Ganong said. “That's a terrible choice for a family to have to make. It's a terrible choice for the macro economy.” The analysis found unemployed workers did cut their spending after the $600 supplement ended, by an average of $93 a week across the month of August, compared with July. Ganong suspects that the decline in spending might have continued in September, based on the dwindling savings workers had left. The checking accounts examined in the research, which were stripped of identifying information, come from Chase customers in 11 states where unemployment is paid out weekly, including California, New York and Wisconsin. In the data, workers receiving unemployment had those benefits deposited directly into their accounts. Workers who didn't receive such payments were treated as still employed. And there's little sign in account balances that the unemployed were moving large sums in or out of these accounts to other assets like savings accounts, making these checking accounts a good measure of the resources workers built up and drew down, the Times said. Other research supports the idea that families have been saving a significant share of their unemployment insurance checks. In a survey fielded by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in June, families reported setting aside nearly a quarter of their unemployment checks as savings. The New York Fed also found that nearly half of unemployment payments went toward paying down pre-existing debt. Even modest-seeming drops in spending by the unemployed reflect difficult decisions at this stage. Charissa Ward, who lost the well-paying job she'd had for 15 years as a server at Disney World in Florida, has replaced some grocery store runs with trips to a food bank. And the school supplies she would normally buy for her three children were donated by co-workers from Disney instead, when the $600 dried up on the eve of a new school year. “It's a mental strain on people emotionally, especially for someone like me that has worked since I was 15,” said Ward, who is 37. “I've never been in this situation.” Allegra Troiano, who lives in Milwaukee, believed she was a few years away from retiring from her job preparing foreign students to study at American schools when the pandemic crushed the international education industry. Those students aren't coming anymore, and it's hard to know when they'll be back. Troiano, who is 64, was laid off in May, and for a while over the summer she believed that the extra federal aid would keep her going until she could return to work. Now she fears she may be forced into early retirement, collecting pensions and Social Security earlier than planned. So, we will see. Clearly, the “special” unemployment benefits and other stimulus programs have wide support, but also strong political opposition. Economists say that the more the stimulus programs are cut, the stronger the economic headwinds against the economic recovery will be. Certainly, the fights over efforts to help workers endure the coronavirus shutdowns are important and should be watched closely by producers as they are debated this fall, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


NOAA Pegs August Derecho Damage At $7.5 Billion The derecho that rolled through Iowa and other areas of the Midwest August 10 racked up $7.5 billion in damages, according to an assessment released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “A powerful derecho traveled from southeast South Dakota to Ohio, a path of 770 miles in 14 hours producing widespread winds greater than 100 mph,” NOAA said in a description of the event, with Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio the most-affected states. “This derecho caused widespread damage to millions of acres of corn and soybean crops across central Iowa,” NOAA said. “There was also severe damage to homes, businesses and vehicles particularly in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In addition, there were 15 tornadoes across northeastern Illinois several affecting the Chicago metropolitan area.” The NOAA analysis indicated that the damages from Hurricane Sally, western/central droughts and heatwave and western wildfires are yet to be determined with damages from Hurricane Laura put at $14.0 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


Fed Says Farm Payments Improving Farm Income Expectations Overall U.S. economic activity remains below pre-pandemic levels and ag conditions vary across the country, according to the Federal Reserve's “Beige Book” report that recaps economic conditions. The report is issued two weeks ahead of the next Fed policy meeting. In the Atlanta Fed district, the report said that “agricultural conditions remained weak.” There were some reports of hurricane damage. USDA reported that in August, year-over-year prices paid to farmers were up for cotton, rice, soybeans, and milk, but down for corn, cattle, broilers, and eggs. In the Chicago Fed update, they noted, “Rising prices for key agricultural commodities and additional government support lifted expectations for farm income for the year.” But the report also cautioned, “There were reports that improved income prospects had eased stress on agricultural borrowers somewhat, though concerns remained for next year, when government support was expected to drop substantially.” The Minneapolis Fed reported “agricultural conditions improved going into the harvest season, however low prices depressed the outlook for farm incomes.” The Kansas City Fed struck a similar tone, noting, “Alongside government payments that were expected to help offset revenue losses, prices for most of the region's major agricultural commodities increased slightly in late September. However, apart from soybean and hog prices, agricultural prices generally remained low.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday morning reports start with weekly export sales, weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, all set for 7:30 a.m. CDT. September U.S. existing home sales and a U.S. index of leading indicators follow at 9 a.m. The U.S. Energy Department reports on natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. and USDA's monthly cold storage report is set for 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Snow in the Northern Plains and rain in the western and northern Midwest will disrupt harvest Thursday. Other crop areas will be dry. Stormy conditions are indicated for the northern and central crop areas through the weekend along with possible record cold due to a large Arctic cold wave moving into the interior U.S.

| 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