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| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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 “The legislation is about improving an outdated law so that it meets current needs,” says NCBA President Marty Smith.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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 1, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 25, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 25, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 25, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 25, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 21, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 13, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 7, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


August Ag Economy Barometer Results Farmer sentiment in July was virtually unchanged from a month earlier, according to the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The index rose just one point to a reading of 118. The small change in the barometer left it 30 percent below its February 2020 peak and 23 percent below its level a year ago. Although there was little change in the barometer this month, there was a shift in producers' perspective on current vs. future conditions. The Index of Current Conditions rose 12 points to 111 while the Index of Future Expectations fell to a reading of 121, five points lower than in June. The Ag Economy Barometer is calculated each month from 400 U.S. agricultural producers' responses to a telephone survey. This month's survey was conducted from July 20-24, 2020. Organizers of the index say Producers were somewhat less concerned about the impact of coronavirus on their farm's profitability. However, two-thirds of respondents still said they feel Congress needs to pass another bill to provide economic support to farmers. ************************************************************************************ Barchart Releases August U.S. Yield Forecasts for Corn and Soybeans Barchart, a commodity data and technology service provider, updated its cmdty (commodity) Yield Forecast this week. The August end of season yield prediction sits at 174.8 bushels per acre for corn and 49.2 for soybeans. This represents an increase in forecasted yield relative to the July report, which predicted end of season yield for corn 173.8 and 48.8 for soybeans. Barchart’s Head of Strategy, Keith Petersen, says, “Growing conditions throughout the country remain strong, and this year’s forecasted crop has been more heavily impacted by changing expectations around acres planted than by weather.” Peterson says the national forecast remains steady this year, but adds there is some yield variance at the state level which can impact local basis conditions heading into the fall. Released on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season, the forecast allows users to get insights to guide their business decisions ahead of USDA's World Agriculture Supply and Demand report. ************************************************************************************ Trump Signs Rural Telemedicine Executive Order President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier this week that his administration says will provide millions of citizens with healthcare services during a global pandemic. The executive order seeks to expand access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in rural communities. The White House says the expansion of telehealth services offers benefits to Americans living in rural communities, who might otherwise not have access to these services. The order requires the Department of Health and Human Services to announce a new payment model testing innovations that empower rural hospitals to transform healthcare in their communities on a broader scale. To improve connectivity, the president's order also directs the federal government to launch a joint initiative in 30 days to improve the healthcare communication infrastructure and expand rural healthcare services. The White House says these telehealth expansions build on the work the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has done during the public health emergency to more than double allowable telehealth services. ************************************************************************************ Trump Signs Great American Outdoor Act President Donald Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act Tuesday. In a signing ceremony, Trump says the legislation "builds on my administration's unwavering commitment to conserving, and the grander, the splendor, of god's creation." The bill establishes a National Park and Public Lands Restoration Fund to provide up to $9 billion to fix backlogged maintenance at national parks and other federal lands. The bill also guarantees $900 million per year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fund helps fund the main federal land programs in the United States. The National Wildlife Federation says the bill will "protect public lands and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation.” However, the legislation may be problematic for ranchers who use public grazing lands. The Public Lands Council calls the bill a “land grab.” PLC says the bill gives federal agencies free rein to spend a minimum of $360 million per year solely to acquire new private land without any oversight from Congress. ************************************************************************************ American Dairy Coalition Calls for Whole Milk to Return to Schools The American Dairy Coalition wants to bring whole milk back to U.S. school lunchrooms. According to the proposed Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, whole milk will continue to be banned from schools across the nation. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines are only updated and published every five years. The coalition says, “the time is now to ensure whole milk can once again be offered as a choice in school nutrition programs.” In 2017, Congress authorized $1 million of taxpayer money for a third-party review, conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. It was the first-ever outside peer review of the Dietary Guidelines process. The coalition says the report showed how only 20 percent of the government’s nutrition recommendations are based on “strong” science, according to the government’s own standards. The coalition says the report “was vastly ignored,” adding “Continuing the ban on whole milk based on out-of-date science and a clearly unbalanced, one-sided subcommittee on saturated fats is appalling.” ************************************************************************************ ASTA Promotes Safe Handling of Treated Seed During Harvest As harvest begins across the country, the American Seed Trade Association is reminding farmers about the importance of taking precautions to ensure treated seed does not enter the grain supply. An ASTA says proper management of treated seeds includes removing all treated seed left in containers and equipment used to handle harvested grain, and disposing of it properly. ASTA and other stakeholder groups have developed recommendations to assist those involved in the process of treating, handling, transporting, or planting treated seeds. These recommendations are available at seed-treatment-guide.com. Recommendations include following label directions, minimizing dust, eliminating weeds, "BeeAware” of nearby bee colonies, and cleaning and removing treated seeds from equipment and bins. ASTA says the use of seed treatment technologies, including neonicotinoid insecticide treatments, is an effective tool to provide the necessary protection of seeds for a strong, healthy start. However, it is “essential” to manage them properly to minimize the risk of pesticide exposure to non-target organisms.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 5, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 22, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets As typical through summer, the latest weather forecasts will get the first look from grain traders, along with any trade news. A report on June U.S. existing home sales is due out at 9 a.m. CDT. With ethanol production slowly returning toward pre-coronavirus levels, the U.S. Energy Department's weekly report of energy inventories will be watched at 9:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday. Weather Showers with light to moderate rain totals are in store for the eastern Midwest, Delta, Mid-South, and portions of the central Plains Wednesday. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to below normal over the Midwest and very warm to hot elsewhere. Most row crop areas have favorable conditions for corn pollination and soybean flowering and pod setting.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 21, 2020 |


Hog Farmers Face Near $5 Billion Loss An analysis by economist Steve Meyer for the National Pork Producers Council shows an estimated two million hogs still backed-up on farms. According to his report, based on lean hog futures prices on March 1 and July 10 and actual hog prices in the interim, potential 2020 revenue from hog sales has been reduced by roughly $4.7 billion. Other losses associated with euthanasia, disposal and donation of pigs with no market outlet and insufficient space to hold them mean U.S. pork producers have lost nearly $5 billion this year. Meyer says it appears those losses will continue into 2021. “This is, by far, the worst financial disaster ever for American hog farmers,” according to Meyer. NPPC President Howard AV Roth says, “Many U.S. hog farmers will not survive this crisis.” NPPC is calling on Congress to pass the RELIEF for Producers Act, which provides compensation for farmers who are forced to euthanize or donate animals that can’t be processed into the food supply as a result of COVID-19, among other provisions. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Livestock Gross Margin Insurance Program Changes The Department of Agriculture Monday announced changes to the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program for cattle and swine starting in 2021. Changes include adding premium subsidies to assist producers and moving premium due dates to the end of the endorsement period for cattle. USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre says the changes “build upon RMA’s continued effort to make livestock policies more affordable and accessible for livestock producers.” Barbre says the agency is working to ensure the changes can be implemented by the July 31 sales period. Before this change, LGM-Cattle and Swine did not have premium subsidies. Now, subsidies have been added and are based on the deductible selected by the producer. The subsidy will range from 18 percent with zero deductible up to 50 percent with a deductible of $70 or greater for LGM-Cattle. For LGM-Swine, the subsidy will range from 18 percent with zero deductible up to 50 percent with a deductible of $12 or greater. ************************************************************************************ USDA, USTR, to Hold Hearings with Seasonal Growers Next Month The Trump administration will hold two hearings next month with seasonal produce growers to discuss foreign trade policies that may be harming farmers. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office, along with the Department of Agriculture, recently announced the hearings planned for August 13 and August 20. At the hearings, officials from the federal agencies will hear from farmers on how the Trump administration can support them and remedy any unfair harm. The hearings, which were originally scheduled to occur in Florida and Georgia in April, will take place virtually. This month, Florida lawmakers called on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to stop "unfair Mexican trade practices harming seasonal and perishable produce growers in Florida and the Southeast." U.S. Representative Greg Steube, a Florida Republican, says many growers were forced to plow their crops under as a result of decreased demand from the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, "the Mexican produce industry continued to increase its US market share by 17 percent between January and April 2020." ************************************************************************************ Soy Checkoff Makes Research Accessible to Industry The United Soybean Board and state soybean boards are bringing research results to farmers. The redesigned Soybean Research & Information Network website, soybeanresearchinfo.com, was launched through a joint effort by the North Central Soybean Research Program and the United Soybean Board. The website gives farmers a virtual resource full of information and toolkits for more efficient soybean production. USB describes the site as a one-stop-shop for all the information the checkoff has discovered through farmer investments regarding key problem areas in production. Each article on the website provides insight and explanation on the research findings and links directly to the study in the overall database for further exploration. Tim Venverloh, USB Vice President of Sustainability Strategy, says the soy checkoff and state organizations “have worked together to find solutions, best practices and data on key issues and have made that available for all farmers to use.” Some of the research projects include battling pests, navigating herbicide-resistant weeds, enhancing seed quality and controlling seed and seedling rots. ************************************************************************************ Cargill, NCBA Foundation, Partner to Support Beef Industry A new partnership between the National Cattlemen's Foundation and Cargill will provide cattle producers tools to manage their operations. Specifically. The partnership offers cattle producers practical tools to help manage market shifts, reduce costs, manage finite natural resource availability and withstand extreme weather events. The four-year strategic partnership, which was funded by a $3 million contribution from Cargill's protein business, establishes a professional development scholarship program, and provides educational resources through the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and experiential learning in partnership with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. The Rancher Resilience Grant program, which serves as the program's professional development scholarship arm, offsets expenses for farmers and ranchers to attend state, regional, national, and global educational events. This includes industry conferences, seminars, and certifications addressing animal health and well-being, profitability, natural resources, sustainability, genetics, and reproduction education. The Rancher Resilience Grant program will launch this fall. The development of educational resources and promotion will begin immediately. ************************************************************************************ Elanco Receives Approval for Bayer Animal Health Acquisition Elanco Animal Health Incorporated has received unanimous approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for its acquisition of Bayer Animal Health, a division of Bayer AG. The FTC decision represents the final antitrust clearance needed to complete the transaction, which continues on track for closing at the beginning of August. Elanco CEO Jeff Simmons says the approval "marks the near-final step in fulfilling our vision of bringing together two dedicated animal health companies." Elanco continues to expect necessary worldwide divestitures in the previously announced range of $120 million to $140 million of annual revenue to advance regulatory reviews. The FTC's approval is conditional on three product divestitures, including StandGuard, a pour-on treatment for horn fly and lice control in beef cattle, being sold to Neogen Corporation. In addition to FTC approval, Elanco has received antitrust clearance for the transaction from the European Commission, as well as in ten other countries.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 21, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Wave of Deficit Borrowing and New Rules for Renewables A new wave of deficit borrowing is headed for the municipal-bond market to close gaping budget holes caused by the coronavirus shutdowns, Bloomberg is reporting this week. The report noted that New Jersey lawmakers agreed last week to borrow $10 billion to finance half of the state's estimated budget gap, while Illinois plans to sell as much as $5 billion in notes to a municipal facility set up by the Federal Reserve. New York state authorized $11 billion in short-term borrowing that may be refinanced on a long-term basis, if necessary, and New York City is seeking the legislature's approval to borrow $5 billion. “It's pretty simple math,” said Patrick Brett, the head of Citigroup Inc.'s municipal debt capital markets business. “Hundreds of billions of dollars of deficits opened up really quickly. They're all not going to get plugged with cuts, they're all not going to get plugged with tax increases.” Unlike the federal government, U.S. states are required to balance their budgets, though they frequently rely on short-term loans. Those deficits are poised to swell now as coronavirus lock-downs hold back sales and income-tax revenue -- and as costs rise for healthcare, unemployment assistance and social services. Municipalities will need at least $500 billion in additional federal aid over the next two years to avoid inflicting a major blow to the economy, according to Moody's Analytics. When the economy slows, states typically terminate or furlough employees, put off public-works projects or borrow before raising taxes. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., states and local governments have cut nearly 1.5 million jobs, far more than were eliminated after the last recession. The size of the borrowing wave will depend on how much aid comes from Washington, the report says. Republicans and Democrats are negotiating to pass another round of economic relief during the last week of July. Democrats in the House approved a $3 trillion measure that included about $1 trillion for state and local governments. Republicans have set a $1 trillion ceiling on another stimulus. Barclays Plc municipal strategists estimate states and local governments will get $200 billion to $500 billion. While most states began the fiscal year on July 1 with full-year budgets in place, coronavirus infections have accelerated in Florida, Texas, California and Arizona since mid-June, prompting renewed lockdowns in some cases and weighing on an economic recovery. Uncertainty over tax collections and spending on government services means states will likely need to meet in special sessions to revise their budgets, according to Municipal Market Analytics. While borrowing to fund operations is a negative sign to bond-rating analysts and investors, they may be more forgiving with states and local governments facing the biggest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. “People are viewing this as a one-in-a-century kind of event,” Citigroup's Brett said. “Even many of those who would generally oppose deficit borrowing are saying this is an act of God, and we should borrow.” In something of a side note, Bloomberg also reporting that in a controversial move, a landmark 40-year-old law that's been key to the growth of renewable energy in the U.S. is being effectively overhauled, threatening to curb demand for solar projects. Federal regulators recently proposed new limits on which energy projects fall under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, which had helped spur an entire generation of solar and wind farms across the country. More than 30% of solar facilities online today benefit from the law, according to Bloomberg. “The proposed changes may alter prospects for future investment.” The overhaul highlights how far renewables have come since 1978, when the law was enacted to boost competition within the power sector and encourage new technologies. Wind and solar costs have declined precipitously and renewables now make up about 20% of U.S. energy generation. “Most of the renewable energy projects developed these days are done outside of the Utilities Regulatory Act” said Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee, who sees that fact as proof that renewables can compete in our markets. He does not expect that to change. Current regulations mandate that if a developer can build a project for less than a utility can, the developer can request a contract to sell power to that utility. Under the changes proposed last week by the energy commission, utilities are only obligated to buy power from facilities that are 5 megawatts or smaller. Formerly, the limit was 20 megawatts. That means solar arrays between 5 and 20 megawatts “will no longer have unfettered access to utilities that they've had for over 40 years,” said BNEF power analyst Brianna Lazerwitz. While current contracts wouldn't be affected, the projects could face uncertainty once those contracts expire. The new rules will “stifle competition, allowing utilities to strengthen their monopolies and raise costs for customers,” Washington-based Solar Energy Industries Association said. “We will continue advocating for reforms that strengthen the Act and allow solar to compete nationwide.” So, we will see. Certainly, pressure on states and municipalities to offset the virus' impacts will be debated hotly, as will any new rules for solar and wind farms – so, this fall's economic policy debates will be extremely important and producers should watch closely policies and rules emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 21, 2020 |


US Begins Countervailing Duty Probe of Fertilizers The U.S. will conduct investigations into fertilizer imports to determine whether producers of phosphate fertilizers in Morocco and Russia are receiving unfair subsidies, according to a Commerce Department statement. Morocco and Russia both have eight alleged subsidy programs. The investigations are based on petitions by The Mosaic Company. In 2019, imports of the fertilizer from Morocco were valued at $729.4 million; imports of fertilizer from Russia were valued at $299.4 million. The International Trade Commission will make preliminary determinations by August 10; final determinations are scheduled for December 7.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 21, 2020 |


Seasonal Produce Public Hearings Set For August The hearings on imports of seasonal produce into the U.S. by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), USDA and Department of Commerce will now be virtual hearings set for August 13 and 20, according to a notice to be published in the Federal Register. USTR said they are seeking public feedback on “trade distorting policies that may be contributing to unfair pricing in the U.S. market and causing harm to U.S. seasonal and perishable producers in U.S. commerce,” and on “how the administration can better support these producers and redress unfair harm.” Those seeking to offer comments have to make their request by July 27. The hearings had been scheduled earlier this year but were postponed due to the COVID-19 situation.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 21, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday has no official reports on the docket, but we can be sure the latest weather forecasts will get a close look, especially pertaining to row crop development. Any trade news that emerges will also get attention as will the latest items of progress related to the status of coronavirus in the U.S. Traders will also consider the latest ratings in Monday's Crop Progress report. Weather Tuesday features moderate to heavy rain in the western Midwest and light to moderate rain in the eastern Midwest. Pollinating corn and flowering soybeans will benefit from this moisture. Temperatures will be seasonally warm north and central and hot south.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 20, 2020 |


Study Confirms Value of Red Meat Exports to U.S. Corn, Soybeans The U.S. Meat Export Federation released an updated version of an independent study aimed at quantifying the value that red meat exports provide U.S. corn and soybean farmers. The independent study was conducted by a company called World Perspectives, Incorporated. Since 2015, indirect exports of corn and soybeans through beef and pork exports have been the fastest-growing category of corn and soybean use. That’s delivered critical returns for corn and soybean producers. These farmers support the international promotion of U.S. beef, pork, and lamb, by investing a portion of their checkoff dollars in market development efforts conducted by USMEF. In 2019, U.S. beef and pork exports used 480 million bushels of corn. Corn revenue generated by pork exports totaled $1.8 billion. Last year, U.S. pork exports used 2.12 million tons of soybean meal, equivalent to 89.2 million bushels of soybeans, that generated $751.7 million in revenue. Beef and pork exports also used approximately three million tons of DDGS, which generated $411.8 million in revenue for ethanol’s co-products. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says, “We greatly appreciate the foresight and confidence shown by the corn and soybean sectors when they invest in red meat exports. This study proves the value delivered by that investment.” ********************************************************************************************** USDA Report says China Continues to Buy U.S. Ag Products Trade reports released by USDA last week show that China is picking up the pace of buying U.S. ag commodities, making both old-crop and new-crop purchases. Chinese buyers are purchasing a lot of U.S. corn, soybeans, and wheat in their recent run on commodities during the week of July 3-9. USDA reported 768,300 metric tons of old-crop corn sales, as well as 600,000 tons of new-crop sales. Additional corn exports during the week were 119,700 tons. The USDA trade report also showed that new export sales of soybeans were for 552,000 tons, 390,000 of which will be delivered during the next marketing year that starts on September 1st. The export sales report says new soybean crop sales came in at 389,000 tons, and exports were almost 228,000 tons. Chinese buyers also purchased more than 323,000 tons of wheat during the same week. That pushed the total sales up to the highest point for 2020-2021. The USDA also says weekly exports totaled 113,700 tons. Net sales of cotton, rice, and barley were all lower than the previous week. Net sorghum sales were up 35 percent from the prior week. ********************************************************************************************** Iowa Senators Pushing for Ethanol Aid in COVID Aid Package Chuck Grassley, Senate Finance Committee Chair, says he and fellow Iowa Senator Joni Ernst will push for ethanol plant assistance as Congress begins developing another COVID-19 aid package this week. Grassley says he visited Iowa counties over the past two weeks while the Senate was in recess, noting that he heard plenty of people asking for ethanol assistance because the price of corn is still low. “Ernst and I are going to try to get something that would subsidize feedstock for the ethanol industry,” Grassley says. “What would make our appeal credible will be the oil industry getting help or a recognition that the oil industry got help through the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.” However, Grassley says the best thing to happen to the ethanol industry in the long-term is for people to start driving again as the economy picks up. “We’re seeing a little shoot up in the production of ethanol, but it will be a slow turnaround,” he adds. Grassley also says he believes there will be more aid to agriculture in the coronavirus bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is determined to keep the cost of the next aid package under $1 trillion. ********************************************************************************************** Water Resources Development Act Heads to House Floor Legislation regarding U.S. investments in locks and dams and other inland waterways investments passed out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week. The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 authorizes construction on 34 pending water infrastructure projects. It also gives the go-ahead on 35 separate feasibility studies on other projects. A DTN report says the bipartisan bill that passed out of committee unanimously will now head to the House floor. Sam Graves of Missouri, the ranking member on the committee, recalled the devastating flooding in Missouri and other Midwest states in 2019. He says the bill includes language to implement changes that will help non-federal levees improve their flood protection. The bill also includes continuing to study the Lower Missouri River Basin Flood Risk and Resiliency Plan. That study will look at flood-control projects on the Missouri River south of the Gavin’s Point Dam in South Dakota. For flood-prone communities, the legislation also provides new authority for water projects to those communities who see repetitive flood challenges up to $15 million in federal cost-share. The Waterways Council says this bill is a step in the right direction for inland waterways infrastructure improvements. ********************************************************************************************** CommonGround Approaching its Tenth Birthday CommonGround is about to turn ten years old, so the National Corn Growers released a video that celebrates the work getting done by more than 200 volunteers across the country. Through the support and work of state associations, these women who make up CommonGround serve as resources for customers who have questions about how their food is grown. The volunteers share their personal stories that help off-the-farm moms discover that they can feel good about the food they feed their families. America’s farm families provide an amazing array of options. However, there are so many competing claims about food, honest questions about the topic are understandable. By serving as information resources, these women are sharing their unique understanding of important topics, such as the difference between organic and conventional crops and how ranchers care for their animals more than a billion times since 2010. CommonGround began a decade ago as a grassroots movement to foster conversation among women, both on farms and in cities, about where our food comes from. The National Corn Growers Association and the United Soybean Board both had a hand in forming CommonGround. ********************************************************************************************** The U.S., Japan Organic Trade Pact Now Includes Livestock The USDA says livestock is now added to the list of products included in the organic trade arrangement between the U.S. and Japan. The Fence Post Dot Com says livestock can now be certified to either country’s organic standards for sale as organic in both markets. “Opening new markets for America’s organic farmers and ranchers continues to be a priority for USDA,” says Marketing and Regulatory Programs Undersecretary Greg Ibach (Eye-baw). “Japan is already one of the top export markets for U.S. organic products. This new agreement opens even more opportunities for everyone involved in the international supply chain for livestock.” The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud says Japan is a key international partner for the U.S. in the organic sector. “This expanded arrangement increases access for American organic farmers, ranchers, and businesses to the third-largest U.S. organic export market,” Doud says. The USDA also says equivalency arrangements reduce required certification costs, fees, inspections, and paperwork for American organic farmers, ranchers, and businesses across the supply chain.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 20, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Wall Street Becomes Self-Conscious Bloomberg is reporting this week that a Wall Street scenario “a decade ago” is surfacing again -- a film that highlights Wall Street executives dining at a moment when the U.S. economy was in tatters. Their industry, fresh off a bailout, was printing big profits again, and Americans were seething. Congress wanted investigations, Bloomberg said. The review included a comment from one executive to another as Goldman Sachs executive who turned to his peer from Morgan Stanley, which had been slower to bounce back from the crisis, and said: “You have no idea how damn lucky you are to lose money with a hopeless business model.” The table erupted in laughter, Bloomberg recalled, but added that “the kernel of truth in the quip is that nobody likes bankers profiting as the world burns. It draws a harsh spotlight.” The report notes that Wall Street's five biggest investment banks disclosed $45 billion in revenue from trading and deal-making units, “marking those businesses' best quarter in modern history.” It then emphasizes the circumstances including a “deadly global pandemic and the Federal Reserve's unprecedented measures to prop up the economy.” It's hard to imagine a more awkward time to land a windfall, Bloomberg says. For years, bank trading chiefs have been begging, even praying, for a surge in volatility to lift their fortunes by spurring client transactions. “Banks finally got their 'score' as markets plunged, with television screens showing refrigerated morgue trucks. Then, they made even more money as authorities rushed to help.” Morgan Stanley is reporting its highest revenue and profit ever. JPMorgan Chase & Co. blew past the revenue record its traders notched in the first quarter—topping it by 34% in the second quarter. Goldman's profit rose, even as the company set aside an additional $1 billion to cover potential legal costs, including its efforts to end international probes into its role in the looting of a Malaysian investment fund. The numbers were high enough that the ranks of sell-side stock analysts wondered about the potential for a public backlash. “Fair or not, banks are being depicted as being on the wrong side” of economic inequality and other issues, UBS Group's Saul Martinez said. “I'm just curious if you are concerned at all about populist, anti-bank policies gaining traction.” At least the banks didn't cause the recent crisis, Bloomberg says, unlike in 2008. In fact, three of the Wall Street giants -- JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., and Citigroup Inc. -- set aside much of the money generated by the trading bonanza so they can better weather anticipated losses on lending to desperate companies and consumers. Altogether, the five banks stockpiled more than $25 billion in the quarter. Banks also are quick to note that the Federal Reserve didn't step in to save them as it did in the last crisis. Instead, the banks helped head off another meltdown by helping companies raise money and avoid bankruptcy. “The most important thing we could do is be a healthy and vibrant bank through this crisis,” JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said in response to the analyst. The Fed may not have explicitly paid the banks billions of dollars, but it created an environment in which their success was all but guaranteed. The central bank helped cash-strapped companies raise money to shore up their finances and pay their bills. Banks made money by facilitating the fundraising, as well as on the related spike in stock and bond trading. Beyond the worries over optics are deeper policy questions. How effective is the Fed's stimulus in providing credit to critical industries, and how much lining of Wall Street pockets is acceptable as a side effect? Fed Chairman Jay Powell has indicated, in this moment, those concerns are secondary to saving the economy and millions of jobs. But Wall Street's gains will only revive perceptions that the deck is stacked in its favor. Those sentiments can have big ramifications. The profits investment banks made in the wake of bailouts in 2008 spurred the anti-government Tea Party movement, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, and a wave of new regulation. Complaints that the game is rigged later played into the ascent of populism in the 2016 presidential election, and they reverberate today. Banking leaders are well aware of the stakes. Some recently made it clear to their troops that they cannot be seen crowing. If it weren't for the pandemic, Chief Executive Officer David Solomon might have enjoyed the sight of a packed auditorium at Goldman, reacting to the best quarter under his leadership. Dimon would've strolled the aisles of JPMorgan's Madison Avenue trading floors, personally saluting his workers. Instead, Solomon met with a couple of dozen scattered executives in the hall in front of him. At JPMorgan, Dimon emailed employees a tightly worded “congratulations.” So, we will see. Much depends, observers say, on the eventual developments as the fight against the virus continues. Certainly, Wall Street is not exactly popular and if the Congress pulls back some of its economic supports as unemployment skyrockets, Wall Street's performance will certainly come in for its share of scrutiny. This will likely be both controversial and prolonged and should be watched closely by producers as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 20, 2020 |


Heritage Foundation Urges Against Expanding CCC The conservative Heritage Foundation think tank is urging lawmakers to oppose a proposal to raise the spending limit for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to $68 billion, from the current $30 billion cap. The group is also taking aim at other provisions in a House-passed relief bill that allow payments from CCC to be used for additional payments, including to “aid agricultural processing plants to ensure supply chain continuity during an emergency period.” The CCC borrowing increase is not included in the pending House-passed COVID-19 relief package, which would only replenish CCC's borrowing authority to the $30 billion cap. Expanding CCC's spending authority, "would allow Congress to avoid making important choices, such as which agricultural commodities would be eligible for payments, which geographic regions would be covered, whether there should be payment limits, and about almost every detail of any future handout program, Heritage argued.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 20, 2020 |


KC Fed Sees Slowing Pace of Ag Lending Ag lending slowed alongside the initial effects of the pandemic and there is a more pessimistic outlook for agricultural economic conditions, the Kansas City Fed said in its latest Agricultural Finance Databook. The volume of total non-real estate farm loans continued into a yearlong trend of declines during the second quarter of 2020. The slowdown in lending was generally consistent across all types of loans, KC Fed analysts said. Delinquency rates on farm loans increased steadily through the first quarter and agricultural credit conditions remained weak. The report notes that emergency government lending programs, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program, “likely supplemented the financing needs of some producers while direct aid payments may help offset declines in farm revenues in 2020.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 20, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets With corn pollinating around the country and soybeans starting to set pods, the latest weather forecasts continue to get a hard look from grain traders. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Monday features light to moderate rain with locally heavy amounts for portions of the western Midwest and Northern Plains. This moisture will be very timely for row crops following the past weekend's heat and dryness. Other crop areas will be dry. Stressful heat has moderated in the interior U.S. and is focused on the East Coast Monday. However, southern crop sectors will continue to see very warm to hot conditions

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 17, 2020 |


USDA Meals to You Program Approaching 30 Million Served The Department of Agriculture announced the delivery of more than 28.5 million meals to low-income kids in rural America through the Meals to You partnership. The program delivers meals to the doorsteps of low-income kids in rural communities across America during the COVID-19 health crisis. While visiting McLane Global, one of USDA’s partners in the initiative, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated, “We’ve heard from families across America who have told us that in these difficult times, the program has been a home run for feeding hungry kids.” Meals to You is a public-private partnership between USDA, the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, and PepsiCo. It began as a summer pilot project in 2019 but has been successfully leveraged as an emergency program to address pandemic-related nutrition needs in rural areas. Initially, Meals to You aimed to serve one million meals to children in rural areas. As of July 11, 2020, 28.5 million meals have been delivered to 268,277 children across the U.S. ************************************************************************************ Ag Groups Welcome NEPA Reforms Agriculture groups welcome the announced changes by the Trump Administration to the National Environmental Policy Act. The White House says the final rule will modernize and accelerate environmental reviews under NEPA so infrastructure can be built in a timely, efficient, and affordable manner. President Donald Trump says, “By streamlining infrastructure approvals, we’ll further expand America’s unprecedented economic boom.” The Ag Retailers Association supports the reforms. ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock says the final rule will speed up the approval process for much-needed infrastructure projects, “which will especially benefit the rural communities in which ag retailers and their customers live and work.” The Fertilizer Institute applauded the rule's finalization, stating, "Many of our members have been negatively impacted by outdated NEPA guidelines.” However, Environmental groups object. Natural Resources Defense Council CEO and Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy says the rule "is a clear attempt to silence and sideline people to make it easier for industry to pollute our communities.” ************************************************************************************ Survey: Consumer Demand for Environmental Action Growing During Pandemic A recent global survey shows consumer demand for environmentally sustainable practices and products has increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol conducted the survey to find how sustainability programs at brands and retailers had changed in a post-COVID world. The survey found 54 percent of sustainability leaders at apparel and textile brands say they’ve seen their customers’ demands increase for sustainable projects. However, 59 percent said they believe customers will still continue to prioritize price when making purchases. The survey found that 43 percent of respondents believe COVID-19 has had a positive impact on investments in sustainability efforts during this period, while 40 percent believe it has had a negative impact. The survey found 54 percent of respondents report demands for sustainable projects has “significantly” or “somewhat” increased since the beginning of the pandemic, and 42 percent said that those customers are also more vocal in those demands. ************************************************************************************ Class Action Lawsuit Alleges ADM Ethanol Market Manipulation A class-action lawsuit filed this week claims Archer Daniels Midland Company engaged in an illegal scheme to manipulate ethanol markets. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of ethanol producers and led by Green Plains Inc. The proposed class-action suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, and claims senior ADM officials knew of the alleged manipulation, according to Reuters. In a recent complaint to S&P Global Platts, the benchmark pricing provider for ethanol, the industry claimed ADM was aggressively selling ethanol on the cash market and timing the transaction 30 minutes ahead of the close of the trading day. The move flooded ethanol markets and choked off competitors, according to the filers of the lawsuit. The DiCello Levitt Gutzler law firm in Chicago is representing Green Plains. A Law firm spokesperson says, “We encourage everyone with knowledge and those that care about fair and equitable marketplaces to come forward.” ************************************************************************************ Ethanol Industry Losses Could Reach Nearly $9 Billion The Renewable Fuels Association says the industry has lost more than $3.4 billion in revenue stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. An industry analysis released by the association this week also found that pandemic-related damages in 2020 and 2021 could reach nearly $9 billion. The data is based on the latest projections from the Energy Information Administration and Agriculture Policy Research Institute. Between March and June of 2020, the study by RFA found the cumulative decline in ethanol production and consumption exceeded 1.3 billion gallons, and nearly 500 million fewer bushels of corn were used in ethanol production during the period. Assuming current market conditions do not deteriorate, total pandemic-related revenue losses for the industry could approach $7 billion in 2020 and $1.8 billion in 2021. However, if states adopt additional travel and business restrictions, the losses may be larger and may even surpass the $10 billion estimate from RFA's initial forward-looking analysis released in April. ************************************************************************************ Texas, USDA, Sign Stewardship Agreement Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a Shared Stewardship agreement with Texas Governor Greg Abbot Thursday. The agreement will establish a framework for federal and state agencies to improve collaboration in responding to natural resource concerns and ecological challenges in Texas. Governor Abbot says the agreement “is an important step toward strengthening our partnership with the federal government and renewing our commitment to responsible forest management.” The agreement is between the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as well as the Texas A&M Forest Service. Texas is the 15th state to agree to a Shared Stewardship framework. The framework uses a modern and collaborative approach to focus on landscape-scale forest restoration activities to protect at-risk communities and watersheds. The agreement with Texas will focus on encouraging strong, long-term forest management programs, promoting sound and scientific silvicultural practices, and aligning various agency land management activities to meet common goals.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 17, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fed Survey Warns of Tepid Recovery This week, Bloomberg commented on a federal survey that shows a tepid recovery by early July. “Economic activity increased in almost all Districts,” it says, but remained “well below where it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The report was based on its Beige Book survey released Wednesday in Washington. “Outlooks remained highly uncertain, as contacts grappled with how long the COVID-19 pandemic would continue and the magnitude of its economic implications.” The report, prepared by the Chicago Fed, was based on anecdotal information collected by the 12 regional reserve banks on or before July 6. Although economic activity may have picked up at the end of May and beginning of June as businesses reopened, a resurgence in coronavirus cases in many states is driving fears of a new slowdown. California has again imposed lockdown measures, and Texas and Florida have curbed certain activity. Businesses in the Fed's survey reported uncertainty about future demand amid the resurgence. Fed Governor Lael Brainard pointed to a highly uncertain economic outlook on Tuesday, saying the central bank should turn its focus to providing accommodative monetary policy to support a full recovery. Officials held interest rates near zero at their meeting last month and signaled in their quarterly forecast that they expect to keep them there through 2022. “A late June resurgence in COVID-19 cases slowed or reversed the reopening process, jeopardizing further recovery in consumer spending,” the San Francisco Fed noted. The words “uncertain” or “uncertainty” appeared 16 times in the report, Bloomberg noted. “In comparison with our previous report, the outlook among contacts is slightly more pessimistic while also much more uncertain,” the St. Louis Fed said. Activity in most sectors remained subdued, and even in industries that saw an increase in demand, such as manufacturing, the jump up was from a very low level, or was a meager one. Energy activity continued to fall on the back of low demand and oversupply. Employers across the Fed system reported new hirings, but levels remained subdued. Businesses cited both renewed layoffs and difficulty in bringing back workers amid safety concerns, a lack of childcare and higher-than-usual unemployment benefits. The Philadelphia Fed reported net employment gains “masked a small, steady stream of permanent layoffs.” Several Fed districts reported evidence of ongoing pay cuts, reduced hours and unpaid leave. Cuts to earnings, coupled with the already-high unemployment rate, could further weigh on consumer demand and damp down inflation, which is already well below the Fed's 2% target. Consumers make up 70% of the U.S. economy. Prices were little changed across the 12 districts, though some reported higher costs for food and beverages. Supply chain issues have driven up the cost of food and are leading to rising food insecurity. Grocery prices rose 5.6% in June from a year ago, the largest increase since 2011, Labor Department figures showed Tuesday. Also this week, POLITICO is reporting that “as lawmakers return to work next week to debate a new stimulus package with a price tag in the trillions, the summer COVID-19 sequel is playing a lot like the spring original. The urgency this time isn't so much to cushion the economic blow, but to keep the nascent economic recovery on track.” And, the report notes that “worrying data points are accumulating.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said a new package will come together in the next three weeks. With the new signs of economic trouble, Republicans have signaled they may be willing to expand that package to include more federal jobless aid. McConnell said Monday that the next package would have a "continued emphasis on jobs, meaning unemployment insurance for those who are unable to get back to work." Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, predicts job growth will be weaker in July than in June and May. “The economy took a huge body blow and it's still reeling,” he said in an interview. “And if the virus continues to intensify and we don't get some support from Congress and the administration soon, we will go back into recession,” Zandi warned. So, we will see. The most recent new health uncertainties are significantly affecting the outlook—trends that producers should watch especially closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 17, 2020 |


EPA Now Considering 58 Gap-Year SRE Requests At least 58 retroactive small refinery exemption (SRE) requests have been received by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to the latest update from the agency. The push by refiners for the retroactive “gap-year” exemptions stems from a 10th Circuit Court ruling that held they are only eligible for future SREs, hardship exemptions from Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending requirements, if they have maintained a continuous string of the waivers since 2011. The previous update on June 18 listed 52 requests for compliance years 2011 through 2018. Separately, refiners have submitted another 27 waiver applications for the 2019 compliance year and one for 2020. Biofuel proponents including the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and National Biodiesel Board (NBB) have criticized the gap-year requests as an effort to circumvent the 10th Circuit ruling and have argued EPA policy and the court decision compel the agency to reject the petitions. Controversy over the gap-year requests has led lawmakers to hold up the Senate confirmation of an EPA official and delayed EPA's proposal setting RFS 2021 blending volumes for biofuel and 2022 mandates for biodiesel.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 17, 2020 |


Livestock Organic Equivalence Agreement Takes Effect for US, Japan The existing U.S.-Japan organic equivalence agreement was expanded to cover livestock products, with the changes taking effect Thursday. The new agreement will reduce costs and streamline the process for businesses across the organic livestock supply chain, requiring them to secure just one organic certification instead of two for products exported to Japan, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said. Technical experts from the U.S. and Japan “conducted thorough on-site audits to ensure that the regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements and labeling practices are compatible” leading up to the agreement, USTR said. With the updated agreement in place, U.S. organic livestock products may exported to Japan if they secure certification under either Japan Agricultural Standards (JAS) or from USDA. An organic equivalence for plant-based products has been in place between the U.S. and Japan since 2014

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 17, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets Traders will start the day looking at the latest weather forecasts and watching for any trade news that may develop. A report on June U.S. housing starts is set for 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by an index of U.S. consumer sentiment at 9 a.m. Weather Hot and dry conditions are in store for most of the Plains and Midwest Friday. The heat will be stressful to pollinating corn and flowering soybeans. Human and livestock stress will also develop. Rain will be confined to thunderstorm activity in the southeastern Plains, northern Delta and isolated areas of the northern Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 16, 2020 |


USDA Posts 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s Final Report The Department of Agriculture Wednesday posted the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s final scientific report. The report will inform USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services as they co-develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines will provide recommendations on what to eat and drink to promote health and prevent chronic disease. Moving into the next stage of development of the guidelines, USDA and HHS will leverage the scientific advice in the committee’s report, as well as comments from the public and other federal agencies to develop the upcoming edition of the dietary guidelines. The departments plan to publish the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines by the end of December 2020. USDA and HHS are accepting written public comments on the committee’s final report through August 13, 2020. The public will also have an opportunity to provide oral comments on the scientific report to the departments at a public meeting on August 11, 2020. ************************************************************************************ Globally, Farmers Adapting to Pandemic Challenges A new global survey shows farmers have once again demonstrated their ability to adapt to new challenges. Kynetec, a global market research firm specializing in animal health and agriculture, released the survey results this week. The survey spanned six key countries, the U.S., Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Czech Republic, and included feedback from 873 farmers. The survey provided a mix of positive and negative insights into the impact COVID-19 has had on their lifestyle and livelihood. The degree of impact varied between countries with country variation ranging from 41 percent to 67 percent of farmers saying the virus has impacted their personal lives. In the short-term, farmers in most countries lack optimism regarding the current outlook for agriculture and the speed of economic post-lockdown recovery. Farmers adapting to the pandemic say planned investments were some of the main challenges across all countries that farmers have faced because of COVID-19. ************************************************************************************ Graves Introduces 2020 Water Resources Development Act U.S. Representative Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, introduced the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 this week. Graves says the legislation plays a key role in any water infrastructure project, including flood control, navigation, ports, locks and dams. The legislation will facilitate commerce through ports and inland waterways, improve flood control infrastructure, and “help develop flood control plans that actually work.” The legislation will give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers new construction authority for communities facing repetitive flooding events. One of the more significant roadblocks to ensuring a project can be done quickly is getting construction authority expeditiously, and this bill will allow those communities to be protected more quickly, according to Graves. The bill also makes an important change in the cost-share for Inland Waterways Trust Fund projects on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River systems. This change will accelerate the timeframe for funding and completion of projects to modernize outdated locks and dams on these rivers. ************************************************************************************ Senators Seek Textile Industry Assistance A group of Senators wants the next round of COVID-19 assistance to support the cotton and textile industry. Led by Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the group penned a letter to Senate leadership this week. The Senators say the U.S. cotton and textile industry "is particularly hard hit as the COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented demand destruction for cotton apparel and textiles." The group says the "viability of the farms and businesses, and the jobs they represent, are at risk of not surviving this crisis." From March through May, clothing sales are down by $44 billion, or 67 percent, relative to the same three-month period in 2019. U.S. textile mills report a 90 percent drop in orders for the yarn they produce. Cotton prices fell by as much as 30 percent since early this year, and that decline represents a loss in market value of approximately $160 per acre of cotton. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $153 Million in Rural Community Facilities The Department of Agriculture announced a $153 million investment to build and improve critical community facilities to benefit nearly two million rural residents in 23 states. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand says, “Rural America needs safe, modern infrastructure to help residents and businesses achieve greater prosperity and have access to essential services.” USDA is investing in 94 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The investments can be used to build or upgrade a wide range of rural community facilities such as schools, libraries, clinics and public safety facilities. More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. Interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office for information about additional funding, application procedures and eligibility details. ************************************************************************************ American Farmland Trust Sponsors Leopold Conservation Award Program American Farmland Trust will join forces with the Sand County Foundation to present the Leopold Conservation Award Program through a national sponsorship. Sand County Foundation created and presents the award in 21 states. The award is for farmers, ranchers and foresters who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat conservation on agricultural land. AFT President and CEO John Piotti calls the Leopold Conservation Award, “an honor bestowed on the best land stewards in this nation,” adding, “It’s a natural fit.” Given in honor of conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in voluntary conservation. Since 2003, the award has been presented to more than 140 dedicated land stewards who are leaders in their industry and communities. Award recipients receive a $10,000 cash award at high profile events attended by their peers. Their conservation success stories are promoted widely to other agricultural landowners and the general public.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 16, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Growing Tensions Over Hong Kong Bloomberg, and others, are focusing quickly on the implications of the growing “back and forth” with China over Hong Kong. The island, until recently an oasis of political stability in Asia, is now gripped with unprecedented regulatory and legal uncertainty that threatens its position as one of the world's top financial hubs. China's imposition of a sweeping, but vague, worded national security law on June 30 has already begun to change the business landscape. Tech giants like Google and Facebook Inc. have suspended processing data requests from the government. Banks are struggling to figure out how to comply with the contradictions in U.S. and Chinese legal changes. Even mainland bankers in the city got a shock when China started taxing their incomes at rates as high as 45%, compared with 15% in Hong Kong. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump stripped away certain special privileges for Hong Kong under U.S. law, a decision that eliminated a range of measures that allowed the capitalist city different treatment from the mainland, ranging from preferences for passport holders to allowing access to sensitive technologies to a Fulbright scholar exchange program. Also, he signed a law that would punish banks for dealing with officials facing sanctions. The escalating political turbulence, which follows months of anti-government demonstrations last year, has jarred a city that for decades served as a stable base for multinationals to access China. “The U.S. measures, alongside Beijing's own crackdown on Hong Kong, are fast turning the city from an open, stable international financial center to contested ground at the very front lines of a rapidly intensifying geopolitical conflict,” said Antony Dapiran, a lawyer based in the city. China “shot back” immediately after Trump's announcement, pledging to retaliate with unspecified strong countermeasures against U.S. officials and entities. Regina Ip, a member of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's advisory Executive Council, said the U.S. measures would actually achieve the opposite of what Washington intends. “It will only drive more Hong Kong people to rely more and more on mainland China for support for our prosperity and stability,” Ip said. “This will not really effect the foundations of Hong Kong's success as an international financial center, because the financial measures will only be imposed on individuals and entities identified under the act. It's not as sweeping as some have suggested.” The real-world impact of the U.S. moves on Hong Kong's trade will likely be limited since the vast majority of the city's shipments to the U.S. consist of re-exports, or goods passing through the city with no substantial modifications, Bloomberg said. Still, the marked deterioration in U.S.-China ties over the past few months means that Hong Kong is likely in for more turbulence as U.S.-China ties worsen. By one gauge of confidence in the finance hub -- the flow of capital -- appears to be holding up, with key metrics suggesting that, if anything, money continues to flow into Hong Kong rather than leave. However, the extremely broad provisions of the new Chinese law -- which bars subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces -- have left residents scrubbing social media accounts, business owners taking down pro-democracy posters, and business chambers saying companies may move assets and capital to other financial centers in part due to difficulties finding talent in Hong Kong. Things could get worse yet if banks and other financial institutions eventually face sanctions under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act that Trump signed Tuesday. Even if Beijing pushes back, the U.S. actions will still hit the city's global reputation in financial markets and could make it a less favorable spot to conduct business, said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Centre for China Studies, who has authored numerous books on Chinese politics. “It's also possible that fewer American businesses may want to do business with Hong Kong,” Lam said. “They may move directly to Shanghai or other financial centers in Asia such as Singapore.” There's little sense things will improve even after the U.S. election in November. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is likely to stick by all of Trump's recent moves if the former vice president takes office, said Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. “There's no floor under the U.S.-China relationship,” he told Bloomberg. “We keep finding new lows.” So, we will see. Clearly, the frictions over Hong Kong have taken on a life of their own, and they are likely to have serious adverse impacts unless some significant effort is made to bridge the gap—a proposition that seems quite unlikely just now, but which should be watched closely by producers as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 16, 2020 |


Just Eight States Have Imposed Mandatory COVID-19 Measures For Ag Workers Only a handful of states have put mandatory COVID-19 protections in place specifically for farmworkers, according to an analysis from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Overall, 16 states have safety recommendations, but they are not enforceable, while the rest have not imposed any standards. Several states, including Florida and Texas, have not issued any recommendations. Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin are the only states to require produce growers and other farm operations to provide personal protective equipment to farmworkers and to require physical distancing, according to EWG.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 16, 2020 |


RFA Says Ethanol Industry COVID-19 Losses Top $3.4 Billion The ethanol industry has seen over $3.4 billion in lost revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said Wednesday. Pandemic-related damages in the ethanol sector could reach some $9 billion, with $7 billion in losses during 2020 and another $1.8 billion in 2021, RFA warned. “If additional travel and business restrictions are adopted by states, the losses would be larger and may even surpass the $10 billion estimate from RFA's initial forward-looking analysis released in April,” the group added. The $3.4 billion decline in revenues seen to date were due to a combination of reduced ethanol output and lower prices, RFA said. “The social distancing and government-imposed restrictions associated with COVID-19 resulted in a dramatic reduction in the consumption of motor gasoline and ethanol in the spring of 2020,” the analysis noted.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 16, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecast remains the primary focus for row crops. USDA's weekly export sales report is out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, along with U.S. jobless claims, June retail sales and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. USDA export sales announcements have been more active lately, announced at 8 a.m. CDT, if there is business to report. The U.S. Energy Department posts natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. CDT. Weather Thursday will be seasonally warm in the northern and central crop areas, offering favorable conditions for corn and soybean pollination and flowering. Southern crop areas will be mostly dry and hot, especially in the southwestern Plains through western Texas. Rainfall will be limited to scattered light activity in portions of the Southern Plains and eastern Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 15, 2020 |


Ag Equipment Sales Rise in June The overall sales of tractors and self-propelled combines were higher in both the U.S. and Canada during June. According to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, it’s the first time this year that the sales numbers rose. Total U.S. farm tractor sales rose 32 percent in June. Only four-wheel-drive tractor sales declined in the U.S. during June. Total year-to-date farm tractor sales are up 10 percent in 2020, while combines cut year-to-date losses to only 1.7 percent in the same period. In Canada, tractor sales grew across just about all segments during June, with overall tractor sales up 32 percent. “We’re seeing more areas of the economy open up from the previous pandemic-related shutdowns, so we’re not entirely surprised some of that pent-up demand is expressing itself right now,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at AEM. “However, we’re currently keeping our optimism cautious, as the current state of things with COVID-19 could see a negative impact on demand moving forward.” Blades also says there is too much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19-related events and their impact on the agricultural markets to determine if this higher trend will keep going.” ********************************************************************************************** China Makes Biggest U.S. Corn Buy Ever A Reuters report says China made the biggest purchase of U.S. corn in history on Tuesday. It’s the second massive deal that China has made for corn in less than a week. The Asian nation made the buy in an attempt to meet its commitments in the Phase One trade deal with the U.S., even as tensions rise between Washington, D.C., and China. The USDA says private exporters report that China bought 1.76 million tons of corn for shipment during the 2020-2021 marketing year that starts on September 1st. The sale passed the previous record of a one-day corn sale to China that totaled 1.45 million tons in December of 1994. The deal followed a sale of 1.365 million tons to China on July 10th, a deal that was spread out over two marketing years. Last week, China increased its corn and soybean import forecasts for the current season as the country expects to step up its agricultural purchases from the United States. China also booked deals to buy 129,000 tons of soybeans in the 2020-2021 marketing year. Beijing agreed to buy $80 billion worth of U.S. ag products over the next two years in the Phase One trade deal between the two countries. ********************************************************************************************** Major Slowdown at Chinese Ports Could Impact Global Trade Chinese testing of meat, seafood, and other products for the coronavirus has tripled customs clearance times at some major Chinese ports. Bloomberg says the intensive testing is raising some major concerns that the delays could eventually tangle up global trade flows. It normally takes about three days to clear produce through customs, but an official with a supply chain company says it’s now taking up to 10 days. China began testing cold food shipments for the virus last month in a move it says is aimed at protecting the health of the general public. The testing has combined with large arrivals of cold-storage food to add to the congestion at some of its biggest ports. China had been boosting meat imports in a bid to offset domestic shortages after the African Swine Fever outbreak that decimated the country’s pork herds. Meat and offal shipments surged to almost 900,000 tons in June, 75 percent higher than at the same time in 2019. Beijing says the new measures are helping to control the spread of the virus and will help stop another potential outbreak. Though China still needs more meat, the testing may cause exporters to slow sales to the Asian country because of the potential to get caught up in the testing process. ********************************************************************************************** Meat Production Continues to Rebound The USDA recently raised its estimate of red meat and poultry production. The numbers in its newest WASDE report shows production levels three billion pounds higher than the agency predicted after COVID-19 shut down meat plants in April and May. An Agriculture Dot Com article says the meat outlook brightened for the second month in a row. “The beef production forecast is raised primarily on higher cattle slaughter and heavier carcass weights,” the USDA says. “Forecast pork production is raised from last month primarily on higher expected second-half commercial slaughter. Broiler production is also raised on recent hatchery data.” In all, USDA forecast meat production of 106 billion pounds this year, which is more than its May estimate of 103 billion pounds. The USDA also estimates meat production will total 107.6 billion pounds in 2021. Americans consumed a record of 224.3 pounds per person last year. Consumption was expected to climb to 227.4 pounds before the coronavirus entered the country. After the outbreak forced slowdowns and temporary closures of some of the largest U.S. meatpacking plants, the USDA said per-capita consumption would drop to 217.1 pounds of meat as production shrank. ********************************************************************************************** Summer Farmland Market May Be Heating Up The Farmers National Company says the spring and early summer seasons are typically slow when it comes to farmland sales. This year, that timeframe was even slower than normal. However, the land market is now warming up. Business at the Farmers National Company is as robust as its been in recent years and they say business still went on despite the effects of COVID-19. Demand for high-quality cropland remains good in most areas and is bringing mostly steady prices. Some of these sales are happening without being on the open market as the sales come up quickly and buyers are found just as quickly. The lower-quality cropland is less in demand, which tends to soften price levels. There are also first-time buyers in the market currently looking to invest in ag real estate. The outlook for land sales is positive and should bring mostly steady prices in many areas of rural America. Landowners who are considering selling are already reaching out to brokers and potential buyers. Farmers National says possible financial stress among some agricultural producers, the direction of the general economy, and the recovery from COVID-19 effects all remain wild cards in the land market. The company says predicting the ag economy is difficult as things can change overnight. ********************************************************************************************** Dairy Farmers Oppose Whole Milk Ban in Schools The American Dairy Coalition recently fired off a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar regarding whole milk. The coalition, which represents dairy farmers, told both department heads that they’re unhappy about the possibility the report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will recommend continuing a ban on whole milk in schools. The Hagstrom Report says the coalition has asked Perdue and Azar to intervene on the question. In the letter, the dairy coalition says, “Despite an abundance of science that demonstrates that full-fat dairy products reduce chronic disease in children and adults and promotes learning children’s learning ability, the Dietary Guidelines of America continues to set caps on saturated fats, effectively banning whole milk from daycares and school nutrition programs.” The Dietary Guidelines for America set the nation’s leading nutrition policies. The American Dairy Coalition wants Perdue and Azar to ensure the publication of the DGA is updated to include the most recent evidence on the benefits of saturated fats and the healthy role they play in the diets of both school-aged children and adults.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 15, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Greater Unemployment Support Looks Possible The Washington Post is reporting this week that senior Trump administration officials have begun signaling their willingness to approve a “narrow extension” of the enhanced unemployment benefits helping tens of millions of jobless Americans hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. In less than two weeks, the federal program that provides a $600-per-week increase to unemployment benefits will expire. Many economists warn the disappearance of this enormous federal stimulus, created in March, could hinder the economic recovery and deprive millions of Americans of a vital financial lifeline. More than 30 million people are collecting what many recipients say is a crucial pillar of financial support right now. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky., on June 30 said the expiring added unemployment benefits were a “mistake,” and President Trump and White House officials have argued the $600-per-week unemployment bonus provides a “disincentive to work and should be scrapped. But with the program's termination approaches and the economy showing new signs of strain, administration officials have begun opening the door to some form of “what Congress previously approved,” the Post said. For example, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week that the administration's priority was ensuring that future benefits amount to “no more” than 100% of a worker's prior wages -- comments that surprised some congressional Republicans who thought he shared their strong opposition to extending the benefits, the Post said. Larry Kudlow, the president's top economic adviser, said this week that the Trump administration is seeking “some unemployment reforms.” Earlier, he had more aggressively bashed the $600-per-week increase. Kudlow also seemed to push a “return to work” bonus that could supplement a reduction in unemployment benefits. That idea has been viewed as administratively difficult to implement, so its path to passage is unclear, the Post said. One potential compromise discussed by Republican lawmakers would involve cutting the unemployment benefit from $600 per week to between $200 and $400 and making up at least part of the difference with another round of $1,200 stimulus payments. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky., said the next package would include “unemployment insurance for those unable to get back to work,” though he did not specify how much aid would be necessary. White House spokesman Judd Deere said that the administration is opposed to the $600-per-week increase but would not rule out a more limited expansion of the benefit. “UI reform is a priority for this White House in any phase four package being discussed,” he said. The emergency, temporary federal benefits come on top of the payments appropriated by state governments, which vary widely. Democrats have largely called for the benefits to be extended. The time left for discussion is short, the Post said. Republicans have discussed the issue internally but have no caucus position, and there are no serious bipartisan discussions underway. The Senate comes back on July 20, five days before the enhanced unemployment benefit expires in 49 states. They expire in New York state on July 26. The discussions are complicated by current labor market distress, the Post said. More than 1 million Americans continue to apply for jobless benefits every week and “the rise of coronavirus cases across the country threatens to prompt a new wave of shutdowns.” June's jobs numbers showed the U.S. has recovered about a third of the jobs lost during the worst of the crisis, but the “economy appears to have worsened in recent weeks since and there are few signs it will improve before expanded unemployment benefits expire,” the Post said. The report says that recent unemployment benefits helped stabilize the economic turbulence as unemployment rose to roughly 15 percent in April before falling slightly to 11 percent in June. Wages declined by $70 billion in May compared with February. The emergency unemployment benefits filled that gap, funneling $70 billion per month into the economy, according to Ernie Tedeschi, who was an economist in the Obama administration's Treasury Department. Removing that lifeline could spell hardship for millions of Americans. If the benefits disappear, perhaps 30 million Americans would see a severe income cut of between 50% and 75%, Tedeschi said. There is some bi-partisan agreement. People at the White House do understand reducing this $600-per-week benefit would be really bad for the economy and really bad in the fall, when you need the recovery,” said Stephen Moore, a conservative analyst and White House ally. “The stakes are really enormous here.” Moore, citing conversations with multiple small-business owners, described talk of taking the benefit down to $200 per week as “very objectionable. We should just go back to the old unemployment program, and if you want to help people financially just do the payments that go to everyone,” Moore said. As a result, many workers are left in a state of unparalleled uncertainty. For some, the supplemental insurance “was all that was keeping rent and expenses paid, especially for those recently laid off with local unemployment benefits alone. So, we will see. This high-pressure debate is also seen as very high stakes for many—fights producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Inside believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 15, 2020 |


Chinese Imports From The US Rise Chinese imports from the U.S. rose for the first time since the new coronavirus emerged earlier this year. China's appetite for meat and other agricultural goods helped Chinese imports of U.S. goods to jump by 11.3% in June from a year earlier, after a 13.5% drop in May, data from Beijing's General Administration of Customs showed. The Chinese buying helped to narrow Washington's trade deficit with Beijing from a year earlier, though Chinese exports to the U.S. also improved, rising 1.4% in June from a year earlier after a 1.3% decline in May. In the first six months of 2020, China imported 2.12 million metric tons of pork, 1 million metric tons of beef and 45 million metric tons of soybeans from its trading partners, which represented increases of 140%, 42.9% and 17.9%, respectively, from the same period a year earlier. Its overseas purchases of iron ore, crude oil, coal and natural gas also increased by volume in the first six months as commodity prices tumbled. Beijing's overall trade surplus fell to $46.42 billion last month, much smaller than May's $62.93 billion figure and economists' expectations for a $59.30 billion surplus.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 15, 2020 |


Reps. Pingree, Fortenberry Urge USDA To Expand CFAP To Small, Diversified Farmers Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., asked USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to make the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) more inclusive for small, diversified farms who rely on local market outlets and direct-to-consumer sales. Recognizing that farmers who sell directly to consumers or to now-shuttered institutions would be disproportionately harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress specifically directed USDA to provide relief to “producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools,'' the lawmakers wrote. “Despite this, USDA did not provide any specific accommodation for these producers in the design of CFAP payments. Indeed, the program's rules have meant many of these farms are struggling to access relief or are entirely ineligible for assistance through this program.” The lawmakers requested that USDA allow for payments on total revenue losses, rather than price losses for individual commodities; provide flexibility on documentation regarding losses; and extend eligibility to additional commodities to be more inclusive of local food producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 15, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Here in mid-July, the latest weather forecast is the first item checked by traders. The Federal Reserve reports on industrial production at 7:15 a.m. CDT, followed by the U.S. Energy Department's inventory report at 9:30 a.m. The National Oilseeds Processors Association releases a report on the June soybean crush later Wednesday morning. Weather Moderate to locally heavy rain is in store from the central Plains through the western and north central Midwest Wednesday. This moisture will be useful for pollinating corn and flowering soybeans. Temperatures will be seasonally warm north and central and hot south, notably in the dry southwestern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 14, 2020 |


Trump: China Phase Two Agreement Unlikely President Donald Trump recently told reporters a Phase Two agreement with China is not likely. The President said aboard Air Force One last week, "I don't think about that," adding, "The relationship with China has been severely damaged.” Bloomberg News reports the Trump administration continues to pressure China over the COVID-19 outbreak, alleging a cover-up by China, among other things. Regarding his relationship with China, Trump says, “They could have stopped the plague, they didn’t,” referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Phase One agreement included $200 billion of U.S. agriculture exports over two years. However, trade analysts say China isn’t purchasing at a pace to reach that level yet, and some say the level of purchases needed to meet the total is unattainable. Last month, state-owned companies in China suspended purchases from the United States over political issues. Also last month, Trump said the Phase One agreement was “fully intact,” the same day adviser Peter Navarro said it was effectively dead. ************************************************************************************ CoBank Issues Quarterly Economic Review CoBank says the recent rebound in the U.S. economy is real, but the sharpest post-shutdown economic gains are almost certainly behind us, and a long grind to shore up a shaky economy lies ahead. Despite COVID-19, U.S. grain has been moving and basis has generally tightened since April 1. Ethanol production and margins began to recover during the second quarter, but coronavirus resurgence is likely to limit future demand. The U.S. chicken sector swiftly filled retail meat cases when demand shifted and the red meat supply dropped. CoBank expects around three percent industry growth for the sector in 2020. Beef production and prices have now returned to pre-pandemic levels, and concerns are now shifting from supply to demand. The pork industry has rebounded from a supply chain shock that saw U.S. production fall by nearly half, before climbing back to above prior-year levels two months later. Finally, dairy farmers struggled through extreme market volatility last quarter. Diary prices are recovering, although farmers have yet to benefit. ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks to Increase Rural Investment Through Streamlining Loan Programs The Department of Agriculture seeks to “cut the red tape” to make it easier to invest in rural America. USDA Monday announced steps to streamline access to four flagship loan programs. The programs include the Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees Program, Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, and the Rural Energy for America Guaranteed Loan Program. Under the initiative, USDA will eliminate duplicative processes and launch a single platform for the four loan programs. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the changes “will make it easier for private lenders to use USDA programs to invest in rural businesses and grassroots rural economic development efforts." USDA is seeking public comments on the regulatory reforms expected to take effect on October 1, 2020. USDA also plans to conduct a series of listening sessions this summer on the proposed changes. For more information on how to register for the listening sessions, visit www.rd.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Report Concerns About Sales Reps on Farms During Pandemic A survey from Farm Journal found 45 percent of farmers have reservations about allowing sales representatives back onto their farm. The survey released last week, also found in order for input suppliers to be allowed back on the farm, 50 percent say social distancing would be required. Additionally, 18 percent want outside vendors to wear proper personal protection equipment, such as masks. However, not everyone is voicing that concern about sales representatives and non-employees coming on their farm. The survey found 36 percent say they're not concerned about visitors. Of the 640 farmers surveyed by Farm Journal, just 11 percent say they are not ready for visitors. Growing concerns or not, consultant Dick Wittman, thinks navigating new business practices today may be permanent solution in agriculture. Wittman says, "It's making people rethink how we can do business in the future. We don't need to have everybody interacting every day in an office." ************************************************************************************ Shoppers Still Fear Empty Grocery Shelves, Seek Bargains A recent survey finds grocery shoppers are looking for bargains, and half of consumers fear empty grocery shelves. Marketing agency Acosta says 53 percent of shoppers say product availability is a top priority. The American Farm Bureau Federation last week reported beef and pork supply chains are recovering from the pandemic panic buying. However, the industry needs to work through a backlog of slaughter ready animals. Meanwhile, more than one-third of shoppers are worse off financially than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. The report says low prices will be a priority for 45 percent of shoppers post-pandemic. Acosta CEO Darian Pickett says, “A recession is here and will significantly impact the shopping habits of those affected.” Pickett says product availability remains a concern and shopper are focusing on health, wellness and safety more than ever. The survey also shows consumer priorities of social distancing, low prices, customer safety and promotions and deals on grocery products. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Demand Struggling as COVID-19 Cases Rise After falling for the first time in ten weeks, the national average price of gasoline has rebounded in the last week, rising 1.1 cents per gallon to $2.19. The national average price of diesel has decreased 0.2 cents and stands at $2.43 per gallon over the same period. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says demand is struggling as coronavirus cases continue to increase in several states. De Haan says he expects gas prices to move sideways with the lack of a clear national trend, as we "remain in a COVID-19 holding pattern." Crude oil prices continue to hold near recent highs. But overall, as demand rebounds have stalled, so too has the rally in oil prices. In addition, OPEC’s strongest production cuts are to expire at the end of July, leading to more oil production, responding to the recovery in global oil demand. Last week saw a notable 5.7-million-barrel rise in U.S. crude oil inventories, which now stand 17.5 percent above year-ago levels.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 14, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Complaints Against Meat Companies In a report that is being picked up by daily newspapers, including the Washington Post, the Associated Press is reporting that new pressure on parts of the meat industry is coming from worker complaints alleging that processing companies Tyson and JBS have “engaged in workplace racial discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic.” The AP said several worker advocacy organizations have filed with USDA over the matter, alleging that company polices violated a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects individuals from racial discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance. The allegations assert that the companies “adopted policies that reject U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on distancing and protective gear on meat processing lines,” and that the operating procedures have a discriminatory impact on mostly Black, Latino, and Asian workers. Tyson has received more than $109 million from USDA programs this year and JBS more than $45 million, the complaint said. As recipients of federal taxpayer dollars they are required to comply with federal laws. “When they took that money, they knew at that point that they would be held accountable to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but they continued to violate that act,” said Joe Henry, director of Forward Latino, one of the groups filing the complaint. Others include the Food Chain Workers Alliance, HEAL Food Alliance, American Friends Service Committee of Iowa and the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils. Coronavirus infections were first reported in meatpacking plants in March and since then at least 34,961 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among workers in 367 packing plants and at least 144 meatpacking workers have died, the complaint said. A CDC report released last week found 87% of those coronavirus cases occurred among racial and ethnic minorities even though they make up 61% of the worker population. After the outbreaks were uncovered, meatpacking plants began providing workers with face coverings, installed shields between work stations and implemented new procedures for distancing during breaks -- but they declined to adopt other U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for keeping people at least 6 feet apart, the AP said. The companies also declined to initiate slower speeds on production lines or add shifts to enable social distancing, according to the complaint. As a result, the complaint alleges that company operating procedures have a disparate impact on Black, Latino, and Asian workers, who make up a large share of production workers at the companies' plants, representing a pattern or practice of racial discrimination. Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman told the AP that the company was still reviewing the complaints and noted that the company's top priority is the health and safety of all workers, their families and the communities where plants are located. “We've transformed the way our plants operate to protect our team members, implementing measures such as symptom screening before every shift,” he said. Cameron Bruett, a spokesman for JBS and subsidiary Pilgrim's Pride said the company welcomes any review of its practices and response to the pandemic. “During this pandemic, we have maintained our operations and the jobs they create only when we believe our facilities to be safe. We have embraced our responsibility to provide a safe working environment and will continue to do so. Our efforts have followed, and often exceeded, CDC guidance,” he said. USDA representatives declined to comment. The complaint goes to the USDA through an administrative procedure and it will be up to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to decide how it's resolved, the AP said. The procedure could result in an agreement between the worker groups, the USDA and the companies or it could take years to get to a final resolution if there's no agreement, according to Dave O'Brien, a civil rights attorney in Cedar Rapids who handled such complaints in the Obama administration's Labor Department. The complaint filed last week asks the Civil Rights Division of the USDA to investigate and remedy the discrimination -- and for the agency to suspend or terminate funding to the companies if they do not comply with federal laws. So, we will see. The number of meat plant workers affected by the virus has been enormous, and the impacts on minority workers are attracting wide notice. This promises to be yet another negative impact that the US meat industry faces that likely will be both extremely difficult and expensive to overcome—and which should be watched closely by producers as these debates proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 14, 2020 |


AFBF Among Groups Pressing Congress On PPP Fixes The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is among the groups pressing Congress to pass the Small Business Expense Protection Act, which would allow small businesses to deduct expenses paid with a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loan from their taxes. Currently IRS rules prohibit deducting expenses that are paid using funds from a PPP loan that is forgiven. Lawmakers intended for those funds to remain deductible, supporters of the legislation say, and they urged Congress to make the correction. “The Small Business Expense Protection Act will fix this misinterpretation and reestablish the ability of small businesses that have received PPP loans to deduct business expenses as the CARES Act intends,” AFBF and other groups said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The measure is currently awaiting consideration before the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 14, 2020 |


Trump Says Phase Two US-China Deal Not Currently On The Table President Donald Trump said a phase two trade deal with China is not under consideration, saying the relationship between Washington and Beijing has deteriorated too much. “I don't think about that,” Trump said Friday when asked about the possibility of a second round of trade agreements with China. “The relationship with China has been severely damaged... They could have stopped the plague, they could have stopped it, they didn't stop it.” The Trump administration has blamed China for being the source of the coronavirus pandemic, opposed China's measures to limit Hong Kong's autonomy, and become increasingly critical of human rights abuses toward Uighur Muslims in China's Xinjiang region. China has said U.S. criticism on these issues could put phase one of the agreement in jeopardy.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 14, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts remain a primary focus for grain traders. The only official report on Tuesday is consumer prices from the U.S. Labor Department at 7:30 a.m. CDT. Any trade news and updates on coronavirus will also be noticed. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for portions of the western Midwest and the Northern Plains Tuesday. Moisture will be favorable for pollinating corn and flowering soybeans. Other crop areas will be drier. Temperatures will be seasonal to below normal in northern crop areas, seasonal central, and above to much above normal south. Heat advisories and heat warnings cover much of the Southern Plains and Delta.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 13, 2020 |


House Appropriations Committee Approves Ag Appropriations Spending The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill covering the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Credit Administration, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The committee’s ranking Republican, Kay Granger of Texas, says some of the provisions designed to stop the Trump administration from making reforms could be “poison pills.” Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska also says he’s unhappy with some provisions and the bill’s financing. An amendment from Georgia Democrat Sanford Bishop calls for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to complete an analysis of the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The analysis is due within a year and would focus on the methodology used, and then would be compared to what the National Academies recommended in 2017. The Hagstrom Report points out that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s methodologies have been controversial for years. The only other amendment to the appropriations bill gives the FDA legal authority to recall unsafe prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The agriculture bill and other appropriations bills are expected to be brought to the House floor during the final two weeks of July. ********************************************************************************************** AFBF Looking for the Entrepreneur of the Year The American Farm Bureau, in partnership with Farm Credit, is accepting applications through July 31 for the 2021 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. The national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies addressing the challenges faced by farmers, ranchers, and the rural communities they live in. The Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year Award increased to $50,000 for 2021’s contest. Farm Bureau will award a total of $145,000 in startup funds provided by contest sponsors. Farm Bureau is looking for entrepreneurs who address both the traditional challenges farmers and rural communities face, as well as business owners tackling new challenges due to COVID-19. “As Farm Bureau members continue to grapple with the impacts of COVID-19, solutions from entrepreneurs are more vital than ever,” says AFBF Vice President Scott VanderWal. Ten startup companies will compete at the AFBF Convention in January of 2021 as semi-finalists. Those teams will be announced on October 5th. Those ten teams then compete to advance to the final round where four teams win an additional $7,500 and compete in front of Farm Bureau members, investors, and industry representatives. Entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members to compete. For more information, go to www.fb.org/challenge. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Accepts Over One Million Acres in CRP Grasslands The USDA’s Farm Service Agency says it’s accepted more than 1.2 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands during the recent signup. The number of acres offered during signup was 1.9 million, more than three times the number offered during the last signup period in 2016. Through CRP Grasslands, farmers and ranchers can protect grasslands, rangelands, and pastures, while retaining the right to conduct common grazing practices, such as haying, mowing, or harvesting seed from the enrolled land. The timing of some of those activities may be temporarily restricted by the primary nesting season for birds. “This large and unprecedented enrollment is a reflection of the popularity and the importance of CRP Grasslands,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “The program emphasizes support for grazing operations and plant and animal biodiversity while protecting land under the greatest threat of conversion or development.” Participants receive an annual rental payment and may also receive up to 50 percent cost-share for establishing approved conservation practices. The duration of the CRP contract is either 10 or 15 years. FSA ranked the large number of acres offered based on several factors, including the existence of expiring CRP land, threat of conversion or development, existing grassland, and the predominance of native species cover and cost. The 2018 Farm Bill set aside not fewer than two million acres for CRP Grasslands enrollment. CRP turns 35 years old this year and has 21.9 million acres currently enrolled. ********************************************************************************************** Soil Health Partnership Releases Cover Crop Planting Report The Soil Health Partnership’s Cover Crop Planting Report shows that farmers are using diverse strategies to plant their cover crops. They’re also using a variety of plant species to help keep their soils healthier. The partnership is the flagship sustainability program of the National Corn Growers Association. They conducted a detailed survey on cover crops, getting responses from farmers across 11 states in the SHP network about cover crops planted in 2019. “We know farmers in our network are innovators, and there is a huge range of cover crop management practices across our network, depending on the farmer’s management goals, where they are located, their soils, and their cropping systems,” says Dr. Maria Bowan, lead scientist for the Soil Health Partnership. Bowman says the most significant finding was that although more than half of farmers planted their cover crops between the middle of September and the beginning of November, almost 40 percent planted their cover crops before or after those dates. Additionally, 25 percent of the farmers who responded to the survey interseeded or overseeded their cover crop into a standing cash crop. “This means farmers are using a wide range of strategies to get their cover crops out on their fields, especially in the higher latitudes where there are timing and labor constraints to getting a cover crop in after harvest,” Bowman adds. The most widely planted cover crop is cereal rye. ********************************************************************************************** Corn Production Lower, Soybean Ending Stocks Higher in July WASDE The July World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates Report is calling for sharply lower supplies in corn, along with reduced feed and residual use, increased food, seed, and industrial use, as well as lower ending stocks. Corn production is lowered 995 million bushels from June, coming in at 15 billion bushels on a yield of 178.5 bushels per acre, unchanged from last month. Ending Stocks were lower at 2.6 billion bushels. The season-average price is projected at $3.35 per bushel, 15 cents higher than the June report. Soybean ending stocks are 30 million bushels higher than last month at 425 million. Soybean production increased to 4.14 billion bushels, which is 10 million bushels higher on increased harvested area totaling 83 million acres. The yield is unchanged at 49.8 bushels per acre and the season-average soybean price is $8.50 per bushel, up 30 cents from June. The wheat forecast calls for larger supplies, lower domestic use, unchanged exports, and increased stocks. The harvest forecast dropped by 53 million bushels to 1.824 billion. Ending stocks increased to 924 million bushels. The season-average price for wheat is forecast at $4.60 a bushel, unchanged from last month. ********************************************************************************************** Legislation Designed to Improve Price Transparency in Cattle Markets Iowa Representatives Cindy Axne (Ax-knee), Abby Finkenauer (FINK-eh-now-er), and Dave Loebsack (LOBE-sack) introduced legislation in the House that would increase price transparency in U.S cattle markets. It would spur additional price discovery and competition for producers using cash markets. “We must increase price transparency and level the playing field for cattle producers,” says Axne. “We’ve seen significant market disruptions from the fire in Holcomb, Kansas, last year, and more recently from COVID-19, which illustrates the need for this legislation.” The Iowa representatives note that this isn’t a new problem for cattlemen. With the nationwide decreases in cash trades, producers who use the cash markets are bearing the burden of price discovery for the rest of the cattle industry. The bill would require processors to have a minimum of 50 percent of their weekly slaughter purchased from cash market sales. The increase in cash market sales would give independent cattle producers around the country a level playing field with formula-contracted cattle purchases and additional leverage with processors. Iowa producers typically participate in the cash market around 50 percent of the time, while nationwide participation is down as low as five percent in some states. The House bill introduced today is a companion to Senate Bill 3693, which was introduced earlier this year by Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 13, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Tariffs for French Goods, but Imposition Delayed At the end of last week, the U.S. announced 25% tariffs on a series of French goods worth about $1.3 billion. The move is part of a long-running battle between the two countries over taxes on technology giants, Bloomberg said. Also, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said that it will again delay implementation of the new levies for up to 180 days since France “has not yet started collecting its digital tax.” The administration says the delay is to allowing more time “for ongoing discussions on a global deal at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.” France has held firm on its plans to resume collection of a national digital tax that hits technology giants including Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Facebook Inc. France says now that it won't “be swayed by threats of U.S. sanctions.” “France's response will be unchanged,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in Brussels. “If there is no international solution by the end of 2020, we will, as we have always said, apply our national tax.” The U.S. withdrew last month from international talks over a digital-tax deal after failing to reach agreement. An international deal would prevent dozens of countries implementing similar levies. Several European countries – including Austria, France, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Turkey and the UK – have already announced plans for a digital services tax. Many others have discussed implementing one and India expanded a similar levy in April. “We call on the U.S. to return to the OECD negotiations on taxing digital giants,” Le Maire said. “Sanctions are not a way of operating between countries that are friends, as the U.S. and France are.” The announcement sends a clear signal to France and other countries that there are consequences to singling out American tech companies said Clete Willems, a partner at Akin Gump. Still, he added, the tariff delay provides a valuable opportunity to solve this multilaterally. “Both sides need to compromise,” he said. “France needs to back away from trying to tax digital companies before all global service providers and the United States needs to stop insisting that the new rules be optional.” U.S. lawmakers weighed in shortly after the announcement to express their support. The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee issued a joint statement on the topic. “Retaliatory tariffs aren't ideal but the French government's refusal to back down from its unilateral imposition of unfair and punitive taxes on U.S. companies leaves our government with no choice,” said the top Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon. The administration's decision was widely reported in the urban press and elsewhere. For example, the New York Times noted that the administration undertook a trade investigation into the tax a year ago and concluded in December that the French tax “discriminates against U.S. companies, is inconsistent with prevailing principles of international tax policy and is unusually burdensome for affected U.S. companies.” The report recommended tariffs as high as 100% on certain French imports valued at $2.4 billion, including cheese, wine and handbags. The final recommendation was significantly less punitive, with tariffs at 25% --and wine and cheese dropped from the list entirely. While the United States had initially agreed to work with global counterparts to come up with a unified tax system, other countries have balked at the administration's push for a provision that would effectively allow some American companies to choose whether to be governed by any new system created by a global agreement, the Times said. It also noted that a “growing list of governments have looked to digital taxes of their own as tax revenues plunge during the pandemic recession. Several European countries, led by France, have been rolling out digital services taxes, which would fall heavily on American internet companies. Italy, Spain, Austria and Britain have all announced plans to levy digital services taxes, which impose duties on the online activity that takes place in those countries, regardless of whether the company has a physical presence.” The decision to go ahead with the tariffs on French goods could revive a trade fight between the United States and Europe. The president has already imposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, prompting the European Union to retaliate with its own taxes on American goods. The two governments are also at odds over domestic aircraft subsidies, with the Trump administration taxing as much as $7.5 billion of European exports annually as punishment for subsidies given to Airbus. So, we will see. Taxes on off-shore producers are always very sensitive, and tensions with the EU have been intensifying for some time. This is an issue that producers should watch closely as the season progresses and the fall elections approach, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 13, 2020 |


USDA Says 1.28 Million Acres of Land Accepted Into CRP Grasslands Effort USDA accepted offers on 1.28 million acres of land to be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands program, 68% of the 1.88 million acres offered for enrollment. Three states had 100,000 acres or more accepted – South Dakota (377,774 acres), Nebraska (298,890 acres) and Montana (174,314 acres). Contracts under the CRP Grassland enrollment start October 1, 2020. The 2018 Farm Bill set aside no fewer than 2 million acres for CRP Grassland and the agency said that as of October 1, there will be 2.1 million acres enrolled in the effort. There are currently 21.9 million acres enrolled in CRP with contracts on 5.36 million acres set to expire September 30. Earlier this year, USDA accepted offers on 3.4 million acres of ground via a General CRP signup, with contracts starting October 1, 2020. Enrollment under the continuous signup in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 opened December 9 and runs through August 21.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 13, 2020 |


USDA Broadens CFAP Eligibility, But Still Leaves Out Additional Wheat Classes, Eggs USDA announced several additional specialty crops are now eligible for benefits under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), while others – apples, blueberries, garlic, potatoes, raspberries, tangerines and taro – will see expanded benefits due a price loss that was 5% or greater between mid-January and mid-April. Peaches and rhubarb no longer qualify for the sales loss portion of the payments and USDA also corrected payment rates on several commodities. Producers of the additional commodities determined to be eligible can start signing up for the benefits July 13. USDA did not indicate eggs would be added as an eligible commodity nor that classes of wheat other than hard red spring wheat and durum would be eligible. “USDA is still evaluating comments and will issue another document with additional determinations and payment rates,” USDA said in a Federal Register notice published Friday, noting in a release that additional eligible commodities would be announced “in the coming weeks.” Despite the changes announced this week, USDA said that it “will not change CFAP costs” even as some have speculated the actions will mean the program could run out of money even earlier.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 13, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Entering the second full week of July, the latest weather forecasts continue to get first attention among grain traders, followed by any export news. USDA's weekly inspections report is out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by a U.S. Treasury report on the federal budget at 1 p.m. and the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Monday features a sharp contrast in temperatures over major crop areas. Northern and central regions will have seasonal warmth with favorable crop conditions. Meanwhile, southern regions will have extreme and stressful heat. Heat bulletins cover the far Southern Plains through the Deep South. Periods of thunderstorms are also in store across the northern tier and in parts of the Southern Plains at the edge of the heat dome.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 10, 2020 |


Coalition Comes Together to Improve Rural Broadband Infrastructure Minnesota-based farm cooperative Land O’ Lakes announced it has brought together 49 organizations to form the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition. The Hagstrom Report says the coalition’s goal is to “advocate for public and private sector investment to bring high-speed infrastructure to rural areas.” Each of the organizations will contribute some of their resources to help improve access to remote education, health and mental services, job opportunities, and more. Land O’ Lakes says the goal is to connect and lift all American communities through access to modern digital technology. Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’ Lakes, says farmers, business owners, and even school children are often on the wrong side of the digital divide in America, a problem that’s only gotten worse since COVID-19 began. “This isn’t just a rural issue,” Ford says. “The American Connection Project Broadband Coalition represents a mix of companies from technology, health care, ag, and more, who understand the ramifications of our country’s broken internet infrastructure. They have the willingness and expertise to help address this need.” The coalition does admit bringing America’s digital divide to an end is a costly goal, but the groups “firmly believe it is worth the investment.” ********************************************************************************************** Trump, Obrador Celebrate USMCA U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel (Man-WELL) Lopez Obrador met in Washington, D.C., this week to celebrate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement. The agreement recently became the law of the land in North America. After multiple meetings among senior officials from both nations, the U.S. and Mexican presidents signed a joint declaration commemorating the July 1st entry-into-force of the USMCA. During remarks to reports, Obrador lamented the North American region’s trade deficit with the rest of the world, which he says totals $611 billion. He’s hoping the USMCA will help North America capture a bigger share of the world economic output, which he says has fallen from 40.4 percent in 1970 to 27.8 percent currently. That statistic reflects China’s rising share of world economic growth over the past half-century. Trump continued his attack on the North American Free Trade Agreement, USMCA’s predecessor, blaming it for lost jobs and low wages. Trump also promoted the labor protections in the new deal, saying it will “bring countless jobs from overseas and back to North America.” ********************************************************************************************** Potato Growers See Mixed Foreign Trade Outlook Ahead International trade experts within the potato industry are happy with the Phase One Trade agreement between the U.S. and China. However, they’re also concerned with the level of potatoes coming into the U.S. from the other direction, noting that French Fry imports from the European Union are rising rapidly. An Intermountain Farm and Ranch article says the export market for U.S. potatoes continues to grow. While COVID-19 has resulted in a reduction of exports, there are still good things ahead in the international markets. For example, the new agreement with China opens up the Asian nation to chipping potatoes from the Pacific Northwest. However, there is some bad news in the international markets. The U.S. is seeing a continued increase in French Fries imported from the EU. Matt Lantz, the vice president of global access at Bryant Christie, says, “There’s been a major surge from the EU, and I say the term very definitely. I do not say dumping. That’s a legal term that’s very hard to prove.” In 2015, the EU sent $12 million worth of fries to the U.S. In 2018, EU exports jumped to $55 million. Last year, the value of those imports was even higher, coming in at $80 million. In the first four months of 2020, the EU has already sent $44 million worth of fries to the U.S. ********************************************************************************************** Additional Commodities Now Eligible for CFAP Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says additional commodities have been added to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. USDA says producers will be able to submit applications that include these commodities beginning on Monday, July 13, with the application period ending on August 28. USDA designed the program to help offset price declines and additional marketing costs brought on by COVID-19. The agency also expects additional eligible commodities to be added to the list in the weeks ahead. “When we announced this program, we asked for public input and received a good response,” Perdue says. “After reviewing comments and analyzing our USDA Market News data, we are adding new commodities, as well as making updates to the program for existing eligible commodities.” A few of the additional commodities eligible for CFAP include beets, blackberries, lettuce, green peas, pineapple, fresh sugarcane, and many more. The changes also include expanded funding options for already-eligible commodities like apples, blueberries, garlic, potatoes, and raspberries. USDA found that these commodities had a five percent-or-greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April because of COVID-19. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for marketing adjustments. They also say peaches and rhubarb no longer qualify for payment under the CARES Act sales-loss category. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Groups to Launch Town Hall Series on the Future of Trade/Supply Chains With major agricultural fairs and other events canceled across the country, major ag groups will provide a series of virtual town halls called “AgTalks.” It’s designed to provide a new forum for farmers, ag businesses, and policy leaders to discuss potential solutions to challenges on trade, supply chains, and global competitiveness. 2020 summer events will be held in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. A few of the groups behind the virtual events include Farmers for Free Trade, the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and many others. The AgTalks series will focus on the big challenges that agriculture faces on trade, international supply chains, and staying competitive in the international marketplace. The town hall will be led by ag leaders in each of the five states. In a combined statement, the groups say, “American competitiveness in agriculture has been seriously impacted by the surge in non-U.S. trade agreements with key customers, the trade war, and the failure of supply chains strained by COVID-19. This has impacted commodity pricing, increased input costs, derailed relationships with trading partners, and impacted the broader economy.” The first two dates will focus on Iowa and Minnesota, with specific dates coming soon. ********************************************************************************************** Don’t Leave Dairy Behind in Japan Negotiations A total of 50 members of Congress sent a bipartisan letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week, urging him to work swiftly on a Phase Two Agreement with Japan. The letter was also sent to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. They say the recent Phase One agreement with Japan made progress on several important issues, but American farmers and processors remain at a disadvantage against competitors, thanks to the Japan-European Union and the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership agreements. That’s why Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind and his colleagues are asking Lighthizer and Perdue to maximize opportunities for dairy farmers by addressing these remaining gaps and inequalities in market access during the next round of negotiations. Due to depressed milk prices and a suffering rural economy, dairy farmers are facing tough conditions and struggling to stay afloat. The USDA says 6,000 dairy farms have gone out of business over the last several years, underscoring the need for trade agreements that can expand overseas markets for the U.S. dairy industry. The letter also points out that Japan is one of the top five overseas markets for U.S. dairy products and the demand will only continue to grow.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 10, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Increasingly Murky National Outlook Most aspects of the national outlook are increasingly murky these days because so many things are in flux. First, there's the virus; then, there's the economy; then, there's trade policy, and much more. Bloomberg reports on a comment by the Fed's Cleveland bank president, Loretta Mester, who said “recent data on the reaccelerating spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. has raised additional downside risks for the economic recovery. I don't think any of us thought it would necessarily be a smooth path to increasing activity – but the numbers are troubling,” she told Bloomberg. “These are not good statistics.” She cited confirmed cases in the U.S. that crossed 3 million Wednesday as the virus surged across many southern and western states. Examples include Texas that set a record for daily cases, California where hospitalizations hit a new high and Arizona with a record number of deaths. She concluded that news from the virus and health-care front “will likely prove damaging to the economy even if state and local officials don't reimpose restrictions on commercial activity.” Her Atlanta Fed colleague Raphael Bostic made a similar point earlier on Wednesday, telling reporters that more policy action may be needed if the recovery levels off. Still, the Cleveland Fed chief, who is a voter this year on the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee, said she doesn't think the central bank needs to rush into providing fresh guidance on the future path for interest rates and asset purchases. Policy makers lowered the benchmark rate in mid-March to near zero and began large-scale purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. They also signaled they would keep policy in that setting for an extended period. “The time may come when we want to use forward guidance, but right now I think everyone understands we want to keep interest rates low for a long time,” she said. Once the Fed reaches the point where it concludes that more guidance is needed, its form will depend on circumstances at that time, she said—a position that made Mester appear less enthusiastic than many of her colleagues about embracing a particular strategy for forward guidance in the committee's next one or two meetings. Bloomberg also noted this week that China's top diplomat had blasted U.S. policy toward Beijing – but at the same time, proposed “a blueprint for getting spiraling relations between the world's biggest economies back on track.” “Current U.S. policy toward China is based on strategic misjudgments that lack factual evidence, and are full of emotional catharsis and McCarthy-style paranoia,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a pre-recorded address for a China-U.S. think tank and media forum. He added that “artificially creating various 'China threats' may eventually lead to self-fulfilling prophecies.” Wang thinks China is willing to resume dialogue mechanisms at all levels with the U.S. at any time and proposed the two countries group outstanding issues into three lists – cooperation, dialogue and differences – with think tanks taking the lead in researching the issues. He also called for cooperation on the coronavirus, saying that China is willing to communicate further on treatment, vaccine research and economic recovery. Already strained ties have gotten worse after China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong, prompting the U.S. to revoke certain trade privileges and threaten sanctions against Chinese officials. The two countries are also sparring on many other things from the South China Sea to technologies like 5G networks. Earlier, the U.S. announced visa restrictions for officials over China's actions in Tibet and Hong Kong, which sparked retaliation from China. The president's national security adviser Robert O'Brien told reporters to expect “a significant roll-out of measures with respect to China over the coming days and weeks.” Wang called the U.S. moves “unreasonable” and said that the two powers should not seek to transform each other. However, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Wednesday continued to slam the Chinese government and President Xi Jinping. He said the U.S. would start a dialogue soon with the European Union on ways to meet the challenge from China. Pompeo held secretive talks last month in Hawaii with top Chinese diplomat and Politburo member Yang Jiechi that failed to stem the attacks on both sides. That meeting showed that Wang's proposals to restart the dialogue were likely “too romantic and too idealistic,” according to Shi Yinhong, an adviser to China's cabinet and a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. So, we will see. It is certainly true that there are threats of many kinds from many directions – and that it will be difficult to avoid policies that make things worse. Especially as the fall elections come closer, producers should watch these many processes very closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 10, 2020 |


Eight Candidates To Lead WTO The nomination period for those seeking to become the next Director General of the WTO closed Wednesday with eight candidates – Jesus Seade Kuri (Mexico); Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria); Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt); Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova); Yoo Myung0hee (South Korea); Amina C. Mohamed (Kenya); Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia); and Liam Fox (UK). The listing of five men and three women all have trade and/or WTO experience. The WTO has not seen a leader from African nor has it been led by a woman, prompting some to up the odds for a candidate that meets those criteria. Mexico's Seade and South Korea's Yoo are also seen by some as top-level candidates given their experience on the world trade front. The WTO is seeking a new leader in the wake of current WTO chief Roberto Azevedo announcing he would leave the post a year early, setting off the process to find a new leader. The next step will be for the candidates to meet with members at a special General Council meeting July 15-17 where they will present their views and take questions from members.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 10, 2020 |


Ag Biotech Issues With Mexico, Dairy Access To Canada Raised The Alliance for Trade Enforcement is raising issues on ag biotech in Mexico and Canadian pharmaceutical actions as areas that need to be enforced under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The full enforcement of intellectual property (IP) commitments under USMCA is key, the group said in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. “The Government of Mexico's failure to approve these products threatens both trade with Mexico and U.S. farmers' access to important technologies. This could have a devastating effect on U.S. farmers and their customers in Mexico,” the group said. Dairy issues were also raised by the group, with the letter pointing to Canada's announcement on distribution of dairy tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) “runs counter to various USMCA commitments including discouraging high-value food service or retail products from entering the market.” The group also said they are concerned Canada will not live up to eliminating their Class 7 pricing program and will “manipulate its agreed-upon trade obligations to protect its tightly controlled dairy market are unacceptable.” The group also called out Canada's Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, saying it “continues to develop and implement unfair pricing and reimbursement regulatory schemes that do not fully account for the cost of research and development of innovative treatments.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 10, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets After traders check the latest weather forecasts and the U.S. Labor Department issues its report for June producer prices at 7:30 a.m. CDT, grain traders will be watching for USDA's next WASDE report, due out at 11 a.m. CDT. New ending stocks estimates for corn and soybeans after USDA's June 30 estimates of plantings and grain stocks will carry the most interest and wheat crop estimates from around the world will also get a look. Weather Light to moderate rain will form in portions of the Northern and central Plains and the Midwest Friday. Rains will be accompanied by seasonal temperatures, easing crop stress. Meanwhile, the Southern Plains will have dryness and extreme heat with very stressful conditions for cotton, non-irrigated crops, pastures and livestock.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 9, 2020 |


USDA Announces FMD Vaccine Bank Investment The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the initial purchase of vaccines for the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will invest $27.1 million for foot-and-mouth disease vaccines, which the agency would use in the event of an outbreak. The vaccine bank was created in the 2018 farm bill. USDA awarded a contract to Boehringer Ingelheim to develop and maintain a strategic reserve of frozen vaccine antigen concentrate that the company could quickly formulate into a vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease. Agriculture groups welcomed the announcement. National Pork Producers Council President Howard AV Roth says the investment “is momentous, representing years of NPPC advocacy to ensure U.S. agriculture is protected should we have an FMD outbreak.” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association executive director of government affairs, Allison Rivera, says the move is a “promising first step forward to begin the work authorized in the 2018 farm bill,” but adds “more action is needed to strengthen this newly created vaccine bank.” ************************************************************************************ U.S. and Kenya Begin Trade Talks The United States and Kenya began trade negotiations Wednesday, seeking to enter a free trade agreement. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauded the progress, saying a deal could "strengthen and deepen our relationships with economies across the continent” of Africa. Kenya is included in the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is set to expire in 2025. The U.S. Chamber says a Kenya free trade agreement will provide American businesses the certainty they need to continue investing in the growing market. Agriculture goals for the U.S. include securing full market access for U.S. agricultural goods in Kenya by reducing or eliminating tariffs. Further, the U.S. seeks to eliminate practices that unfairly decrease U.S. market access opportunities or distort agricultural markets for the United States. In 2018, U.S. total exports of agricultural products to Kenya totaled $37 million. Leading domestic export categories were $10 million of coarse grains, $6 million of wheat and $5 million of pulse crops. ************************************************************************************ May Margin Triggers Dairy Margin Coverage Program Payment The Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency announced the May 2020 income over feed cost margin triggered the third payment in 2020 of the Dairy Margin Coverage program. In May, the income over feed cost margin was $5.37 per hundredweight. To date, FSA has issued more than $176 million in benefits to dairy producers who purchased DMC coverage for 2020. Authorized by the 2018 farm bill, DMC is a voluntary risk management program that offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price, the margin, falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. Over 13,000 operations enrolled in the program for the 2020 calendar year. Although DMC enrollment for 2020 coverage has closed, signup for 2021 coverage will begin October 13 and will run through December 11, 2020. For more information, visit the farmers.gov DMC webpage or contact your local USDA Service Center. ************************************************************************************ Restaurant Traffic Stalls Amid Increase in COVID-19 Cases The recovery of U.S. restaurant customer transactions has stalled for the second week in a row as COVID-19 cases continue to increase in many states, according to research firm NPD Group. For the week ending June 28, total customer transactions at major U.S. restaurant chains are down 14 percent versus the same week a year ago. For the week ending June 21, total transactions were down 13 percent versus a year ago. The rise in COVID-19 case counts is causing local and state authorities to delay reopening, and in some cases, reinstating on-premise restaurant dining restrictions. In Texas, for example, restaurants may continue to offer on-premise dining, but capacity is rolled back from 75 percent to 50 percent. California announced last week the closing of its nearly 86,000 restaurants to on-premise dining. Nationwide, full-service restaurants customer transactions for the week ending June 28 were down 25 percent versus the prior year and several states where COVID-19 is gaining saw the biggest declines in transactions. ************************************************************************************ Poll Reveals Business to Business Exhibitions Move to Virtual Events The Center for Exhibition Industry Research says an increasing number of U.S. business to business exhibition organizers are postponing or canceling events. A June study found 73 percent of organizers have canceled events, 37 percent have postponed, and 17 percent are still scheduled. The trend is evident in agriculture with major events, including the Farm Progress Show and several state fairs, canceling this year. The Center’s CEO, Cathy Breden, says the trend “is devastating to an industry that contributed over $101 billion to the U.S. GDP last year.” The survey found 74 percent of organizers cited uncertainty regarding if meetings would be allowed due to lockdowns. Additionally, 69 percent report corporate no travel policies are impacting participation. The survey found 63 percent of organizers have added a hybrid or virtual component, and 44 percent have a virtual backup plan in the event they are forced to cancel at the last minute. ************************************************************************************ American Soybean Association to Celebrate 100 Years The American Soybean Association will celebrate 100 years of representing farmers next month. ASA was formed when brothers Taylor, Noah and Finis Fouts hosted the first Corn Belt Soybean Field Day at their Soyland Farms operation in Camden, Indiana, in September 1920. The event drew nearly 1,000 farmers and their families from six states. The National Soybean Growers' Association, later renamed the American Soybean Association, was formed that day. On Tuesday, August 4, 2020, ASA, with support from the Indiana Soybean Alliance, will host a 100th-anniversary celebration and historical marker dedication at its birthplace on Fouts Soyland Farm in Camden. The event features a keynote address from Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Steve Censky. The event is free of charge. However, attendance is capped at 180, so those interested must register. For those who cannot make it in person, the event will also be live-streamed. Find more details online at ASA100Years.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 9, 2020 |


Washington Insider: More Tensions With China While the Trump administration's top officials are sticking with reassuring comments about the future of U.S.-China trade, Bloomberg is increasingly gloomy. It reports this week that “the U.S.-China rivalry is shifting into new and unpredictable areas, engulfing everything from a popular video app to Hong Kong's status as a global financial hub.” The latest tensions are overshadowing a trade agreement in January that was meant to draw a line under the trade war and be a boon for business. Instead, differences between both powers are deepening right at a time when the global economy is facing its worst crisis since the Great Depression, Bloomberg says. It notes that “this week alone,” President Trump said he is considering banning ByteDance Ltd.'s short video app TikTok as retaliation against China over its handling of the coronavirus. Some “top advisers” want the U.S. to undermine the Hong Kong dollar's peg to the greenback to punish China for recent moves to chip away at the former British colony's political freedoms. There are even concerns over the visa status of hundreds of thousands of Chinese students who enroll at U.S. colleges and universities each year. China in turn has promised its own response, warning the U.S. and others to stop interfering in Hong Kong and other issues. The economic backdrop could hardly be gloomier with the IMF estimating that by the end of this year 170 countries – almost 90% of the world – will have lower per capita income. That's a reversal from January, when it predicted 160 countries would end the year with bigger economies and positive per capita income growth. The deepening divisions are forcing difficult decisions for global business. Facebook Inc., Google and Twitter Inc. – all of which have been blocked on the mainland – are at risk of the same fate in Hong Kong. Hours after Hong Kong announced sweeping new powers to police the internet on Monday night, those companies plus the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. suspended requests for data from the Hong Kong government. It's not yet clear how the authorities will respond to that lack of compliance with local rules. ByteDance's TikTok, which has Chinese owners, announced it would pull its viral video app from the territory's mobile stores altogether in the coming days. HSBC Holdings Plc, which draws more than two-thirds of its pretax income from Hong Kong, slumped in Hong Kong trading on Wednesday on fears it would lose out if the administration moves ahead with any plan to punish banks in the city and destabilize the currency peg to the dollar. The expectations are that threats and counter threats will only ratchet up further ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, with little prospect of a near-term reset. “I don't see any immediate circuit breaker,” said Fraser Howie, author of Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China's Extraordinary Rise – certainly not in the sense that there is a reset where everyone says 'weren't we all being foolish, let's get back to being friends.' I don't see that coming any time soon.” And it's not just the world's two biggest economies being affected. India said it will ban 59 of China's largest apps after a deadly Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops that killed 20 Indian soldiers. China warned the UK it will face “consequences” if it chooses to be a “hostile partner” after reports emerged that the government was preparing to begin phasing out the use of Huawei Technologies Co. equipment in the UK's 5G telecommunications networks as soon as this year. Since April, China has imposed crippling tariffs on Australia's barley industry, halted beef imports from four meat plants and urged its tourists and students to avoid going to the nation due to the risk of attacks from racists. The government in Canberra had earlier called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus. While economists say it's unlikely that the U.S. would follow through on its threat against the Hong Kong dollar, given the risk of damage to U.S. banks and companies, even the discussion of such a move is unnerving for confidence. “It is a nuclear option, which could result in a financial crisis for Hong Kong, as well as considerable collateral damage for U.S. banks and investors,” said Kevin Lai, chief economist for Asia, excluding Japan, at Daiwa Capital Markets. “It is not impossible, but we think it is unlikely to happen.” The idea of striking against the Hong Kong dollar peg — perhaps by limiting the ability of Hong Kong banks to buy U.S. dollars — has been raised as part of broader discussions among advisers to Secretary of State Pompeo but hasn't been elevated to the senior levels of the White House, Bloomberg News reported. “There is a fast-evolving realignment of forces happening,” Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia Pacific economist with Natixis SA, told the press. “The spiraling threat will remain with us at least until the U.S. election and, very likely, also afterwards. It is just a new paradigm,” she said. So, we will see. Both sides appear increasingly “dug in” on this fight, with much more than economics at stake experts say. The threats and counter-threats appear both significant and real, and should be watched closely by producers as the fight continues, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 9, 2020 |


Sen. Grassley To Push For RELIEF Act To Be Included In Next Stimulus Plan Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said this week he will put to get the Responding to Epidemic Losses and Investing in the Economic Future (RELIEF) for Producers Act of 2020 to be included in the next stimulus plan. It would provide aid to producers forced to euthanize livestock due to lack of access to processing facilities, calculating the value based on the national average market value between March 1 and the date of enactment. The reimbursement would be calculated for a 30-day period starting from the date of initial depopulation. Producers would get 85% of the value of their loss, and the value of losses would be reduced by 10% each 30-day period after that. The plan has also been backed by some House members. Meanwhile, the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are both talking of wrapping up another COVID aid plan before the August congressional recess.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 9, 2020 |


CDC Updates Report On COVID-19 Infections, Deaths at Meat And Poultry Plants Confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 239 meat and poultry plants in 23 states in April and May were put at 16,233 with 86 related deaths, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Combined with data from a study done through April 27 that included figures from six states that did not report for the updated data, at least 17,358 cases and 91 COVID-19–related deaths have occurred among U.S. meat and poultry processing workers. Where demographic details were available, CDC said 87% of the cases were among racial and ethnic minority workers. CDC said that 12% of the cases were asymptomatic or presymptomatic, but the CDC cautioned that not all facilities performed widespread testing. Of the 239 plants reporting cases, intervention and prevention efforts were reported by 111 of them, with 89 (80%) facilities reported screening workers on entry, 86 (77%) required all workers to wear face coverings, 72 (65%) increased the availability of hand hygiene stations, 70 (63%) educated workers on community spread, and 69 (62%) installed physical barriers between workers. The report said animal slaughtering and processing industry employs an estimated 525,000 workers in approximately 3,500 facilities nationwide. The CDC cautioned that the report findings have limitations, including that not all states responded with information and that the source of exposure and infection could not be identified as coming from the workplace or the community.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 8, 2020 |


Ag Economy Barometer Shows Some Optimism Farmer sentiment improved again in June as the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rose 14 points to 117. The barometer's rise was fueled by improvements in both the Index of Current Conditions, which rose to a reading of 99, 19 percent higher than a month earlier, and the Index of Future Expectations, which climbed to 126, 12 percent higher than in May. The improvement in farmer sentiment left the Ag Economy Barometer seven percent below one year earlier, while the Index of Future Expectations was still ten percent below its June 2019 level. However, the Index of Current Conditions was two percent higher than in June 2019, likely reflecting considerably improved spring planting conditions throughout much of the nation, in addition to support from USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Four out of ten farmers surveyed said that as a result of concerns about COVID-19, they are conducting more business online, and over half of respondents said they are less likely to attend in-person educational events in 2020. ************************************************************************************ Barchart Releases July Yield Forecast An industry data and technology provider predicts 2020 corn yield at 173.8 bushels per acre for corn and 48.8 bushels per acre for soybeans. Barchart, a technology company that provides market data, released its July yield forecast Tuesday. The report shows an increase in forecasted corn yield relative to the June 2 report, which forecasted end of season yield for corn at 172.4 bushels per acre. There was no change in the soybean yield compared to the June report. Released for free to the public on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season, the cmdty (commodity) Yield Forecast Index series allows users to get insights to guide their business decisions ahead of the USDA’s WASDE report, due out this Friday. Barchart’s cmdty Yield Forecast Indexes, which correctly predicted 2019 USDA soybean yield figures three months in advance, are calculated using the latest geospatial and remote sensing technology, and provide users with daily insights on over 3,000 individual growing areas in the United States. ************************************************************************************ House Ag Appropriations Committee Approves 2021 Bill The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved the fiscal year 2021 agriculture appropriations bill this week. Committee Chairman Sanford Bishop Jr, a Georgia Democrat, says the bill rejects the Trump administration’s drastic cuts and “instead builds on the four COVID-19 supplemental bills Congress passed this spring.” The bill includes total discretionary funding of $23.98 billion, representing a $487 million increase from 2020. Notable features include $4.2 billion for rural development programs, including $1 billion for rural broadband. The bill provides $68.2 billion in required mandatory spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including $3 billion for the SNAP reserve fund. The bill also includes language to block the Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents final rule and the Standard Utility Allowance proposed rule. The bill also blocks USDA from granting line-speed waivers at meat processing facilities during the public health emergency. ************************************************************************************ USDA Provides New Crop Insurance Options The Department of Agriculture this week announced changes to several crop insurance policies that the agency says improves options for producers. USDA introduced the Quality Loss Option, a new unit structure assignment option for Enterprise Units and new procedures for Multi-County Enterprise Units. Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre says the changes “provide producers more flexibility and options” to farmers. The new Quality Loss Option is in response to the 2018 Farm Bill that required the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to research and develop methods of adjusting for quality losses. The new Quality Loss Option allows producers to replace post-quality production amounts in their Actual Production History databases with pre-quality production amounts, thereby increasing their actual yields for individual crop years. For Enterprise Units and Multi-County Enterprise Units, a new unit structure assignment option was added. Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. Learn more about the changes at rma.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Bill Seeks to Expand Online SNAP Retailers The Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020 seeks to increase online Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation. Introduced last week by Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, both Illinois Democrats, the bill expands the number of retailers approved for SNAP online. The National Grocers Association supports the legislation, which the organization says, “will be instrumental in helping grocers process online SNAP payments.” Specifically, the bill creates a technical assistance center to support independent grocers and provides grants to retailers who need financial assistance in offering SNAP online. The bill also develops an online and app-based portal for EBT redemption and expands SNAP online to all states nationwide. Senator Duckworth says the bill will “provide grocers of all sizes with the technical assistance needed to ensure all families have the same opportunity to safely purchase groceries online.” Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House in the coming days from U.S. Representative Robin Kelly, also an Illinois Democrat. ************************************************************************************ Gavins Point Dam Decreases Missouri River Water Releases Below-normal precipitation in the upper Missouri Basin during June resulted in slightly below-average June runoff. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reduced water releases from Gavins Point Dam to 30,000 cubic feet per second. The 2020 calendar year upper basin runoff forecast, updated on July 1, is 31.2 Million Acre Feet, 121 percent of average. Average annual runoff for the upper basin is 25.8 million-acre feet. While above average, the forecast is welcomed along the Missouri River Basin, plagued by flooding last year. Work continues along the river to repair and improve levees that protect farmland. Much of that runoff was due to wet soil conditions early this spring and snowmelt runoff. John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, says, “remaining summer runoff will depend on rainfall events.” Soils continue to dry out in the upper Missouri River Basin due to well-below normal precipitation and warmer-than-normal temperatures. And, drought conditions have expanded across much of western portion of the Basin.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 8, 2020 |


Washington Insider: UK Brexit Trade Outlook The United Kingdom's trade deal with the European Union isn't the only massive project British negotiators must contend with before they quit the bloc at the end of the year. With just months to go ahead of the exit, with or without a deal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Trade Secretary Liz Truss are also racing to keep the many trade deals the UK currently maintains as a result of its membership with the EU. All told, there are about 70 of them covering about 15% of the UK's trade, Bloomberg reported this week. The report notes that while Britain has made considerable progress, so-called “continuity deals” with some of the most important countries in that group including Canada, Japan and Turkey have yet to materialize. If the UK leaves the EU with no agreement, it will trade with those 27 countries under terms set by the World Trade Organization. Fresh agreements with the U.S., Australia and New Zealand are also a priority -- one of the main arguments for Brexit was that Britain would be free to pursue better deals unshackled from Europe. “Deals with the likes of Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. likely will mean very small gains in aggregate--and nowhere near enough to make up for the losses that will come from the added trade frictions with the EU,” said Julia Magntorn Garrett, a fellow at the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex. “In terms of continuity deals, it's not so much about gains to GDP, because we already gained from those agreements — it's about mitigating any losses.” The government's own analysis shows that leaving the EU will lead to GDP loss of around 5% in the long term even with a free-trade agreement in place. A pact with the U.S. would only add a fraction of that to UK growth. Asked about the government's figures showing only minimal benefits from the accords, Truss told a panel of lawmakers recently that because the deals haven't been negotiated yet “their upside could in fact be larger than the calculations now suggest.” However, the downside also could come into play as the economic carnage wrought by the pandemic and the ensuing collapse in global trade could prove problematic. “In this climate, it's possibly going to be even more difficult,” said Swati Dhingra, a fellow at the Centre for Economic Performance, a research group at the London School of Economics. “People are going to be thinking of job creation in their own countries. There's going to be less of a coming-together around the negotiating table.” With the UK set to face the worst economic fallout from the pandemic among developed economies, “Johnson could use some wins,” Bloomberg says, “but it won't be easy.” While the EU and U.S. usually limit their trade negotiations to two or three major agreements at a time, Britain is now pursuing almost a dozen at once. “Even if you were an incredibly experienced negotiator it would be a really tough job,” said James Kane, an associate working on trade policy at the Institute for Government, a think tank in London. Bloomberg reports some details on how the UK's non-EU negotiations are going so far, and focuses on the U.S., EU talks — with the U.S. already Britain's largest bilateral trading partner and trade between the two worth $270 billion in 2019. Still, in March, the British government estimated that a comprehensive free-trade agreement with the U.S. would only have modest benefits for the UK economy -- a 0.16% increase in GDP over the next 15 years, and a 0.2% increase in real wages. A priority for the UK in the negotiations is tariff elimination, Bloomberg says. The U.S. has imposed punitive levies on British goods in recent years, including steel, aluminum and Scotch whisky, many in retaliation to EU subsidies for Airbus SE. Britain is also hoping to open up the U.S. market for services trade, such as in the digital and financial sectors, where the UK is strong. The two sides have completed two negotiating rounds so far, with the next slated for late July. Truss has said there is no deadline for reaching a deal and that talks are progressing well. The top U.S. negotiator recently downplayed chances of a deal this year. A key obstacle will be disagreements over agriculture. The U.S. sees greater market access for its food exports as a big prize, whereas the British government is under pressure not to allow standard U.S. products like chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef into the country. So, we will see. The administration's “get tough” tariff policy is still prominent for the administration's election hopes, and the UK Green Party's “anti-industrial” food policies likely will be very difficult to dislodge. As a result, it is difficult to see much opportunity for bridging wide gaps in important U.S.-UK policies. However, these talks involve high stakes and should be watched closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 8, 2020 |


Business, Commodity Groups Urge China, US to Meet Phase One Terms Scores of business and other groups, headed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, urged U.S. and Chinese officials to work together to meet commitments under the phase one trade agreement between the two countries. While noting the benefits from increased two-way trade between the two countries, the groups said, “We also believe that a successful implementation of Phase One will be critical to subsequent negotiations of a Phase Two Agreement.” The groups outlined a series of gains that have already been realized under the trade deal, including several of the changes enacted under the ag provisions of the deal that removed market access barriers for some U.S. products, and an annex to the letter sent to U.S. and Chinese officials calling the ag actions “among the most substantial 'early harvest' achievements to date since the agreement's implementation.” But they urge more Chinese purchases of all ag products covered under the agreement and to “advance reforms to the agricultural biotechnology process to improve transparency, reduce approval timelines to 24 months on average, and limit scope of data requirements to only information needed to assess the safety of a product for its intended use.” The groups sent the letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 8, 2020 |


Agriculture Trade Deficit Strikes New Monthly Record The value of U.S. ag exports fell 3% to $10.34 billion in May while imports were just 0.3% lower at $11.38 billion, leading to a record monthly trade deficit for the sector of $1.03 billion. The prior record was a trade gap of $842 million registered in April 2019. Cumulative U.S. ag exports are valued at $92.27 billion after eight months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 against imports of $89.4 billion for a trade surplus of $2.86 billion. USDA is forecasting the value of U.S. ag exports at $136.5 billion in FY 2020 against imports of $130.2 billion which would leave a trade surplus of $6.3 billion. To meet those targets, U.S. ag exports would have to average $11.06 billion for the remaining four months of FY 2020 while imports would have to be just $10.2 billion. Exports have averaged $11.53 billion so far in FY 2020 with imports at $11.18 billion and if they were to match those levels the final four months of FY 2020, that would put exports at $138.4 billion against imports of $134.1 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 8, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts continue to dominate trader interest in grains with any news of export sales a close second. The U.S. Energy Department will post its weekly inventory data, including ethanol at 9:30 a.m. CDT. Weather Hot and dry conditions will cover the Midwest through the central and Southern Plains Wednesday. This combination will be stressful for crops, especially in driest areas of the eastern Midwest and southwestern Plains. Rain will be confined to light to locally moderate activity in the far northern Midwest and in the Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 7, 2020 |


Production Challenges, Economic Headwinds Slow Red Meat Exports in May U.S. beef and pork exports trended lower in May, due in part to interruptions in slaughter and processing. The U.S. Meat Export Federation reports beef exports dropped well below year-ago levels and recorded the lowest monthly volume in ten years. Pork exports remained higher than a year ago but were the lowest since October 2019. Packing plant disruptions caused by COVID-19 resulted in the lower exports. May beef exports were down 33 percent from a year ago to 79,200 metric tons, with value falling 34 percent to $480.1 million. May pork exports totaled 243,800 metric tons, 12 percent above a year ago but down 13 percent from the monthly average for the first quarter of 2020. Export value was $620.9 million, up nine percent year-over-year but 16 percent below the first quarter monthly average. However, improvements are expected. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says, “Now that production has substantially recovered, the U.S. industry is better able to meet the needs of both domestic and international customers.” ************************************************************************************ RELIEF Act Would Support Livestock and Poultry Producers A group of Senators last week introduced the Responding to Epidemic Losses and Investing in the Economic Future for Producers Act of 2020. Known as the RELIEF Act, the legislation would provide relief to livestock and poultry producers amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The bill would support producers that are faced with euthanizing their animals due to COVID-19. The legislation also provides resources for animal health laboratories as they develop solutions to defend against emerging animal disease spread. Finally, the bill gives additional authority to the Department of Agriculture through the existing Commodity Credit Corporation Charter to deal with removal and disposal of livestock for any public health emergency moving forward. The bill was introduced by Iowa Senators, Republicans Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, along with Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, and Republicans Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, both of North Carolina. Grassley says the bill "will provide much-needed assistance to farmers who had to depopulate their livestock through no fault of their own.” ************************************************************************************ Bill Would Allow State-inspected Meat Sales Across State Lines New legislation introduced in the House of Representatives would allow state-inspected meat sales across state lines through e-commerce. The bill was introduced last week by South Dakota Republican Representative Dusty Johnson and Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar(quay-are). The bill allows small producers and processors more options to directly market to consumers. The legislation, according to Johnson, "cuts through red tape" and allows sales of normal retail quantities of state-inspected meat online to consumers across state lines. The bill also allows new direct-to-consumer options for producers, processors and small meat markets, and maintains traceability of sales easily accessed in the event of a recall. The bill is supported by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Association, and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. NCBA President Marty Smith says the bill "helps make it easier for the American cattle producer to meet the growing demand of the American consumer to purchase safe and delicious U.S. beef.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks Input on RFID Eartag Proposal The Department of Agriculture is seeking public comment on the transition to RFID only ear tags. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wants the public input on the proposal where APHIS would only approve RFID as the official eartag for use in interstate movement of cattle that are required to be identified by the traceability regulations. An official eartag is defined as an identification tag approved by APHIS that bears an official identification number for individual animals. Regulations allow APHIS to approve tags that can be used as official identification, and both metal and RFID tags are current options. USDA says a transition to RFID tags would support APHIS' ongoing efforts to increase animal disease traceability by more accurately and rapidly allowing animal health officials to know where affected and at-risk animals are located. APHIS is also seeking comments on a proposed timeline for implementation. Public comments will be accepted through the Federal Register until October 5, 2020. ************************************************************************************ China Says G4 Swine Flu Not New China says a recently reported strain of swine flu is not a new virus. China’s Ministry of Agriculture over the weekend stated the G4 swine flu strain is not new and does not sicken humans and animals easily. The claims rebuff a study published last week, according to Reuters. China’s agriculture ministry said in a statement that the study has been interpreted by the media “in an exaggerated and nonfactual way.” The study was published in a U.S. scientific journal warning the new swine flu virus “has become more infectious to humans and could become a potential pandemic virus.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the G4 strain has been spreading in China since 2016 and has become the predominant genotype found in Chinese pigs. The scientific report last week claims the virus has the “right characteristics for causing infections in people.” However, only two human infections with G4 viruses have previously been reported. ************************************************************************************ Gas Prices Fall Over Holiday Weekend For the first time in ten weeks, the national average price of gasoline has fallen, posting a drop of 1.2 cents per gallon over the last week to $2.17. The national average price of diesel has increased 0.6 cents and stands at $2.42 per gallon over the same period. Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy says the nation experiences a drop in fuel demand last week from COVID-19 cases surging in some states. De Haan says, “it’s possible that if things don’t improve much by Labor Day, we could see the rare trifecta of every summer holiday setting multi-year lows.” Crude oil prices have seen little overall change over the last week. Crude oil prices remain in limbo, along with gas prices, as the next chapter in the coronavirus situation remains murky. With some states seeing a resurgence and early signs of a slowdown in gasoline demand recovery, oil prices haven’t been able to muster additional steam to rally.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 7, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Comments on Spending Bills and the Economy Some things are almost eternal, including Congressional fights over spending. Bloomberg is reporting this week that House Democrats plan to fight President Donald Trump on numerous issues, including World Health Organization funding, military bases named after Confederate officers, border wall money and limits on food stamp eligibility, as fiscal 2021 spending negotiations ramp up. And, Bloomberg notes, “that's just the first three of their 12 annual appropriations bills.” Democrats released their State and Foreign Operations, Agriculture-FDA, and Military Construction-VA spending measures this week and plan to quickly complete subcommittee markups. To nobody's surprise, “the contents of the bills foreshadow a difficult path” to funding the government during a presidential election year, pandemic, and nationwide civil-rights debate, the report says. House appropriators plan to hold subcommittee markups this week for Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Energy and Water, and Labor-HHS-Education. Finally, they're also scheduled to release this week their Commerce-Justice-Science, Transportation-HUD, Financial Services, and Defense bills ahead of “midweek” markups. Senate appropriators, meanwhile, are “stuck” less than three months before the Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government. Democrats have said they want to offer amendments on the coronavirus response and the national outcry over police violence, issues Republicans believe are so controversial they'd ruin any chance of bipartisanship. Due to the stalemate, the chamber's appropriators haven't released any bills or scheduled markups. Bloomberg lists several “major takeaways” from the first three House Democratic appropriations bills, and begin by noting the funding proposed for the World Health Organization, which would force the president to send $200 million to the organization despite his plan to cut off payments. The Agriculture-FDA bill would block the administration's rule limiting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility for able-bodied adults without dependents. It would also undo line-speed waivers for meat and poultry processing plants. The federal government in April approved a record number of line-speed waivers for poultry slaughterhouses in a single month--which worker-safety advocates and unions have said increases the risk of on-the-job injuries. In addition, the House Military Construction-VA spending bill would bar funds for installations named after Confederate officers, a move that doubles down on a provision in the annual defense policy measure that would require officials to rename some military bases. That bill also would also bar funding for a wall on the southern U.S. border, and block the administration from funding military construction projects where money has been reprogrammed to build border barriers. The bill's $581 million Base Realignment and Closure fund includes $200 million for cleanup of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, often called “forever” chemicals, including Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid contamination. In addition to its reporting on spending legislation, Bloomberg reports that CBO now expects lower real GDP from late 2019 to late 2020, reflecting its revisions to previous estimates of a slower economic bounceback in the second half of this year. Fourth-quarter real GDP is now projected to fall 5.9% in 2020, before increasing 4.8% in 2021, CBO said last week. It had projected in May real GDP would fall 5.6% from late 2019 to late 2020. The current outlook is mostly similar, “except that economic growth in the second half of 2020 is now projected to be slower,” CBO said. Real, inflation-adjusted GDP is expected to recover to its pre-pandemic level by mid-2022, CBO said, but that the unemployment rate likely will not return “to its late 2019 level of 3.5% for much of the coming decade. It's expected to be 10.5% at the end of 2020 and 7.6% in late 2021, CBO said. The projections are “surrounded by an unusually high degree of uncertainty” due to the coronavirus, the report says. So, we will see. There is little that is surprising in most of these fights, although the outcome seems increasingly difficult to forecast, as CBO notes. Certainly, the pre-election politics is bitter and controversial, and will intensify until the fall election, and beyond, and should be watched closely by producers as it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 7, 2020 |


Japan Boosts Port Inspections For Some US Commodities Japan has increased port inspections for seven U.S. commodities due to COVID-19. Japan has temporarily increased on-arrival inspections for fresh cherries, mangoes, papayas, nectarines, prunes, fresh potatoes and hay, according to a report from USDA's ag attache in Tokyo. Before COVID-19, Japan used annual on-site phytosanitary inspections for certain U.S. ag exports. “During these inspections, Japanese inspectors travel to the United States to verify that production sites are free of quarantine pests of concern for Japan,” the report said. “Due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, Japanese inspectors have not been able to visit the United States to carry out on-site inspections in the 2020 growing season.” The increased inspection rates will stay in place until inspectors can travel to the U.S. without restrictions, the report said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 7, 2020 |


Soybean Growers Join Calls for EPA to Reject Retro Refiner Exemptions The American Soybean Association (ASA) has become the latest group to call on EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to reject 52 pending retroactive Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) requests and apply a 10th US Circuit Court decision curbing the granting of the waivers. “The approval of these gap filings would deal a devastating blow to soybean farmers and biodiesel producers by stifling demand for biodiesel,” wrote ASA President Bill Gordon. “Simply put, protecting the RFS is a priority of our organization. We urge you to consider the perspective of the soybean farmer as EPA addresses this gap filing issue.” ASA said prolonged uncertainty in the biofuel sector created by the SRE issue “continues to stifle investment in American biofuels, destabilize agriculture markets and hurt U.S. soy growers, who are already grappling with supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19, the U.S.-China trade war, and other causes of instability.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 7, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no official reports scheduled Tuesday, but the market will maintain interests in the latest weather forecasts and any trade news that might develop. Monday afternoon's Crop Progress report will be considered and expectations will build for USDA's next WASDE report on Friday, July 10. Weather Tuesday features light to moderate rain for portions of the northern Midwest and broad coverage of showers and thunderstorms along the Gulf Coast. Dry and very warm to hot conditions are in store elsewhere. We continue to see notably stressful conditions over the eastern Midwest as corn moves into the pollination phase.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 6, 2020 |


Wheeler Talks About Gap-Year SREs Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler talked about the 52 gap-year Small Refinery Exemption petitions awaiting the agency. The 52 applications cover the years 2011-2018. There are 27 more SRE applications for 2019 and one for 2020. All the applications are in the hands of the Department of Energy for review. The 52 applications were sent in earlier this year by refiners after a Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year in the Tenth Circuit. A DTN report says the biofuels industry and supportive lawmakers are in the middle of a public relations campaign to encourage the EPA to reject all of the applications. Some of the petitions that go as far back as 2012 have renewable identification numbers for that year which have expired. Wheeler says that means there are several potential problems with the petitions. “So, there are questions about whether they can show economic harm and what the remedy would be,” Wheeler says. “First, we’re waiting to see what the Department of Energy has to say about the small refinery exemptions.” ********************************************************************************************** USMCA Kicks in Under a Cloud of Disagreements A modernized North American trade pact officially took effect last week, providing some continuity for manufacturers and agriculture. Reuters says the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement is facing multiple disputes that still need to be resolved, exposing cracks in what was supposed to be a stronger North American “fortress of competitiveness.” The deal takes effect with all three countries mired in a COVID-inspired recession. April trade flow of goods between the countries is normally about $1.2 trillion every year, but the disease cut trade to its lowest monthly level in ten years. The Trump Administration is currently threatening to implement new tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada. Issues currently nagging at the USMCA also include hundreds of legal challenges to Mexico’s new labor laws that ensure workers can freely organize and grant unions full collective bargaining rights. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer calls the agreement the most “far-reaching” trade agreement in history. However, he also says he won’t hesitate to file dispute cases “early and often” to enforce USMCA provisions. He says Mexico’s failure to approve U.S. biotech products is an example. ********************************************************************************************** Hemp Growers Looking to Establish Checkoff The National Industrial Hemp Council and the Hemp Industries Association entered into an agreement to look into the possibility of establishing a marketing checkoff program for hemp. “Today is another step forward in the right direction for hemp farmers and consumers of hemp-related products,” says Patrick Atagi (Ah-TAH-gee), board chair of NIHC. “A checkoff program would further legitimize a rapidly growing industry and will help hemp farmers compete on a level playing field with producers of other agricultural-related commodities.” Rick Trojan, President of the HIA, says, “This first-of-its-kind agreement creates a focus on gathering data and distributing education as hemp cultivation expands nationally.” The Hagstrom Report says the two organizations will form a working group with representatives from across the industry to discuss the details on how a hemp checkoff program should be structured and operate. The working group’s effort would guide the eventual proposal to USDA that will include industry analysis, the justification for the program, program objectives, and the impact on small businesses. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp production in the U.S. and was signed into law by President Trump after the legislation made it through both chambers of Congress. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Reminding Producers to Complete Crop Acreage Reports Producers who haven’t completed their crop acreage reports after spring planting should make an appointment with their local Farm Service Agency office before the applicable deadline. July 15th is the major deadline for most crops, but acreage reporting deadlines vary by county and by crop. “The first step to becoming eligible for many USDA programs is to file an accurate crop acreage report,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “To file your acreage report, call your local FSA office to make an appointment.” Due to COVID-19, FSA put reporting flexibilities in place. The agency can work with producers to file timely acreage reports by phone, email, and online tools, as well as virtual meetings. You must call ahead to those offices that are open for in-person appointments. After all of the completed maps and acreage reporting information is received, FSA will make software updates and send producers the completed Report of Acreage form to sign. Producers must return the signed form certifying their acreage report to the FSA as soon as possible. ********************************************************************************************** Dairy Supply Chains Need to Adjust to Changing Conditions COVID-19 is dramatically affecting consumer habits and dairy supply chains as food service demand plummets and grocery sales take off. Consumers struggling with job losses and economic uncertainty quickly returned to buying basic dairy products like fluid milk, commodity cheese, and butter. A new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange indicates that consumer behavior will be different for the next 12 to 18 months than it was before COVID-19. As that behavior begins to become a habit, dairy supply chains will need to adjust from the farm to the fork. “The dairy industry is coping with some new realities, largely driven by the decrease in foodservice demand and restaurant sales,” says Tanner Ehmke, manager of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange. “The challenges for dairy supply chains will be adapting to focus on meeting the demand trends based on evolving consumer behavior as we navigate through an uneven reopening.” Consumers increased their purchases of products that had fallen out of favor in recent years. For example, processed cheese sales increased by 20 percent during the eight weeks ending on May 31. White milk sales gained more than 10 percent during the same period. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Looking for “Farm Dog of the Year” Nominations The American Farm Bureau is inviting farmers to submit nominations for the 2021 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest. This is the third year of the contest that celebrates farm dogs that work alongside farmers and ranchers to produce nutritious food for families and their pets across America. The grand prize winner gets a year’s worth of Purina dog food and $5,000 in prize money. The winner gets recognized at a Farm Dog of the Year award ceremony at the AFBF Convention coming up in January. Up to four regional runners-up will get $1,000 each in prize money. “We’re pleased to continue this award, which provided a great point of connection for the general public to get a glimpse into farm life,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “It’s especially appropriate after a year of unprecedented challenges in agriculture to recognize the dual role farm dogs play as both working dogs and companions to farm families.” Farm dog owners must be Farm Bureau members to enter their dogs in the competition. Owners can find more information at www.fb.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 6, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Prolonged Battle Over Unemployment Benefits The Hill reported last week that the generous expansion to unemployment insurance Congress passed to keep Americans afloat during the COVID-19 crisis is due to run out at the end of the month, “potentially leaving millions of people struggling.” Unemployment remained at 11.1% in June, worse than it was at the height of the Great Recession in 2009. At the heart of the discussion is a recent federal policy that adds a flat $600 to every weekly unemployment check through the end of July. “It would be unconscionable for Republicans to allow supercharged unemployment benefits to expire with the unemployment rate above 11% and 2.3 million new unemployment claims just this week,” Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden D-Ore., said Thursday. Republicans, however, argue the $600 benefit has at best outlived its usefulness and may have been hampering the recovery all along. The Democratic-controlled House passed the HEROES Act in May, which would extend the extra unemployment payment for another six months, along with other measures such as aid to state and local governments. The GOP-controlled Senate, however, said the $3 trillion legislation overshot the mark. The unexpectedly strong June jobs report, which saw a record one month increase of 4.3 million jobs, may convince them less help is necessary. Negotiations weren't even set to begin until after the July recess, leaving four weeks for the two chambers to hammer out and pass an agreement. The debate over the $600 figure gets at the complexity of a patchwork system of unemployment benefits across all 50 states. It also highlights the vastly uncertain path that the economy faces in the coming months, a path closely linked to efforts to contain the coronavirus. Congress settled on an extra $600 in unemployment benefits in the CARES Act passed in March because it filled the gap between the average weekly unemployment insurance payout across the country and the average salary, while allowing states to more quickly dole out the aid. Most unemployment insurance is designed to cover just a fraction of a worker's salary as an incentive for people to find new work quickly. But the state-to-state variation in benefits makes the design of an equitable intervention difficult. The $600 addition isn't adjusted for inflation or previous wage levels, meaning that some people are earning more on unemployment than they were at work. “Despite mounting evidence of the problems these extra payments are causing, the House passed a bill recently to extend them, not just for a month or two, but for another six months, through January 2021,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley R-Iowa, said at a contentious hearing on unemployment last month. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the policy were extended for six months, the overall economy would be better through the end of the year, but by 2021 both the economy and unemployment could be worse, as people separated from the labor market took longer to find jobs. Conservative groups have amplified the message. But in the same hearing, Wyden said Congress had little choice because unemployment programs differ so widely. A more precise policy to block recipients from earning more than their previous salaries, he said, would be impossible to implement quickly. Local unemployment offices contacted by The Hill said “they might take as much as six to nine months to set up a wage replacement program.” A Grassley spokesperson didn't offer specific alternatives, but pointed to the strong June jobs report and noted that further coronavirus relief legislation would need to address any ongoing problems “in an effective manner and encourage further job growth.” Still, economists say that the jobs report also points to an extended unemployment crisis. And, CBO last week projected that unemployment would remain above 10% by year's end and wouldn't fall back below 5 percent until 2025, The Hill said. Left-leaning economists are also warning that a steep shortfall in state and local budgets will lead to a tsunami of new layoffs in the new fiscal year, which for states began this week. “Without massive additional federal aid, austerity is certainly on the horizon for state and local governments, because state and local tax revenues are plummeting,” wrote Elise Gould and Heidi Shierholz, economists at the Economic Policy Institute. “This means losses in public sector services, including cuts to school budgets at a time when schools are already struggling with the increased need for creative options for students,” they added. One idea that Republicans may embrace is leaving some level of expanded unemployment in place, but letting people keep some of the extra benefits if they get a job, but the final package remains far from certain, The Hill said. So, we will see. The enormous cost of the proposed interventions is increasingly unsettling to politicians, but so is the prospect of severe and prolonged high unemployment. Certainly, this is a debate producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 6, 2020 |


Trump to Meet With Mexican President This Week President Donald Trump plans to meet with his Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Wednesday at the White House. The two will celebrate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) taking effect. Trump said in a statement he would discuss “trade, health, and other issues central to our regional prosperity and security” with Lopez Obrador on July 8. The Canadian government has not confirmed whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will join the other two North American leaders in Washington. Meanwhile, as USMCA took effect last week, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Labor Department detailed the names of the six Americans with backgrounds on labor issues who will serve on the agreement's “rapid response labor mechanism” to investigate alleged labor rights violations. USTR also announced the names of 10 individuals who will sit on dispute settlement panels to hear other disputes brought by governments under the pact. Those include U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer's close ally and former USTR general counsel Steven Vaughn.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 6, 2020 |


Hurdle For EPA Nominee Is Getting Higher Earlier this week, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she would not back the nomination of Doug Benevento to be deputy EPA administrator until EPA until EPA says how it will handle the 52 retroactive small refinery exemptions (SREs) that it has received for prior compliance years going back to 2011. Now Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he will not let Benevento's nomination move forward until EPA provides relief for refiners on Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). "The price of RINs has more than quadrupled since the beginning of the year, and now sits around $0.50,” Cruz said in a statement. “These sky-high prices coupled with the energy and economic crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic have wreaked havoc on America's small refineries and blue-collar workers.” Until EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler “delivers on his promise to take actions that help bring stability to the price of RINs, I will not allow this nomination to move forward,” Cruz concluded.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 6, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from July 4th weekend, traders will catch up on Monday's latest weather forecasts and any trade news. USDA's grain inspections report is set for 10 a.m. CDT and Crop Progress follows at 3 p.m. with extra attention on the latest crop rating updates. Weather Monday will be hot and dry over the Midwest and most of the Plains. This combination is stressful to pollinating corn. Rain will be confined to thunderstorms in the Northern and far southeastern Plains along with the Gulf Coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 2, 2020 |


USMCA Fully Implemented in North America The new U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada is officially in force. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement replaces the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement and brings to a close President Donald Trump’s threat to break apart the three-nation, $1.4 trillion free trade zone. Politico says officials in all three countries are celebrating that the deal is taking effect as each nation looks for some certainty during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, there are some tensions brewing between the U.S. and Canada regarding aluminum. President Trump recently threatened to reimpose tariffs on imports of aluminum from Canada. The U.S. could impose a ten percent duty if Canada doesn’t agree to quotas to help slow the surge of its aluminum exports, which would likely bring a retaliation from Ottawa. Business leaders have been quick to ask the U.S. President not to reimpose the tariffs as they celebrate USMCA. South of the border, some of the biggest issues are between the U.S. and Mexico. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says he expects fights with Mexico regarding labor, biotechnology, intellectual property, and energy. The Trump administration, Democrats, and labor unions will all be paying close attention to see if Mexico lives up to its labor requirements. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Ag Groups Relieved USMCA is Officially in Effect Ag groups in the U.S. are breathing a sigh of relief as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement goes into full effect. “The agreement solidifies our country’s most important and strategic relationships with our best customers and promises further economic growth in tandem with our most valuable trading partners,” says Darren Armstrong, Chair of the U.S. Grains Council. American Soybean Association President Bill Gordon says Mexico and Canada are two of their biggest markets, noting that “USMCA is a win for U.S. soybean farmers and it restores certainty and stability to two important export markets for our farmers.” Doug Goyings, Chair of United Wheat Associates, says, “We see this as an opportunity to take a gold-standard agreement and use it to launch negotiations with other countries.” The American Feed Association says, “Our northern and southern neighbors have a huge impact on the animal food industry, as Mexico and Canada represent the country’s largest and second-largest export markets for feed, feed ingredients, and pet food, respectively.” The Fertilizer Institute says the USMCA is “an emphatic win for agriculture and the millions of hard-working men and women who grow our food, fuel, and fiber.” American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “The launch of USMCA brings optimism to the country’s farmers and ranchers at a time when they need it most.” ********************************************************************************************** Groups Request Hearing on Livestock Reporting Rule The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the National Farmers Union, along with 11 other groups sent a letter to the Senate Ag Committee requesting a hearing on livestock mandatory price reporting reauthorization. The Livestock Mandatory Reporting Rule, first established in 1999, mandates price reporting for cattle, boxed beef, swine, and lamb. It’s reauthorized every five years, with the current program expiring on September 30 of this year. The 13 groups say it represents an opportunity to make meaningful change to the program to increase transparency and true price discovery. According to a 2019 Congressional Research Service report, a common mistake among industry stakeholders is “the low volume of negotiated purchases and a parallel trend toward increased formula purchases or other marketing arrangements. Other concerns include confidentiality and a lack of clarity on how transactions are categorized in reports.” USCA and the other groups strongly urge the Senate Ag Committee to examine all available solutions to the current market factors depressing livestock prices and the increasing consolidation facing the U.S. cattle industry. They say the industry is running out of time to work towards a positive reauthorization of the program. USCA says the livestock industry requires “bold leadership to realign the marketplace with its fundamentals, and that starts with modernizing the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Program.” ********************************************************************************************** Democrat Plan for “Climate-Friendly” Farming Gets Mixed Reaction The House Democrats’ climate change committee released an ambitious framework for slashing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition says those plans include agriculture playing a key role in the goal. The emission cutting would be achieved in part by ramping up conservation programs for ag producers that cover just a fraction of the country’s farmland. The plan will be pushing a lot more money into “climate-smart” agricultural practices, such as making climate adaptation and mitigation a specific goal of federal farm policy. Other steps include creating a “Climate-Based Producer” certification for farmers, as well as developing feed additives that can lower methane emissions from livestock farms. The Sustainable Ag Coalition applauds the committee for “acknowledging agriculture’s critical role in mitigating the climate crisis in their report.” Not all groups were as optimistic. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the plan is “unfortunately the product of partisan discussions that failed to encompass important constituent communities across the country.” ********************************************************************************************** No House-Senate Negotiations on COVID-19 Aid till July 20 Discussions are taking place behind the scenes on the next coronavirus aid package to come out of Washington, D.C. That, however, is the good news. The Hagstrom Report says formal negotiations between House and Senate leaders will not take place until July 20th. That note comes from Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley. “We’re going to try to get things put into place for ethanol and biofuels, as well as more overall help for agriculture,” Grassley says. While there are some Republicans that have questioned the need to spend more money on aid, Grassley says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to pass another aid package and that it must contain limits on liability due to the coronavirus. Grassley says the reasons to wait-and-see until July 20th include figuring out what the state of the economy looks like by then. They also will see how much of the aid to state localities and hospitals has been spent, as well as to check out how much money remains in the Payroll Protection Program, run by the Small Business Administration. ********************************************************************************************** Soybean Growers Call Gap-Year SREs a “Devastating Blow” The American Soybean Association jumped into the debate over the 52 gap-year, small refinery exemption requests currently before the Environmental Protection Agency. They’re asking the agency to immediately reject the pending retroactive small refinery exemption petitions and to “stand with U.S. soybean growers in support of the Renewable Fuels Standard.” In a letter this week to EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler, the ASA is asking him to apply the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit’s ruling on exemptions to small refineries whose temporary exemptions has lapsed earlier, to all pending SRE petitions, including the 52 retroactive ones recently posted to the agency’s dashboard. Those requests date all the way back to 2011. “The approval of these gap filings would deal a devastating blow to soybean farmers and biodiesel producers by stifling demand for biodiesel,” says ASA President Bill Gordon, a soybean grower from Worthington, Minnesota. “Simply put, protecting the RFS is a priority of our organization. We strongly urge you to consider the perspective of the soybean farmer as EPA addresses this gap-filing issue.” Biodiesel is a critical market for soybean farmers, providing value for surplus soy oil that’s a co-product of soybean protein meal.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 2, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Mnuchin, Powell Differ Over Economic Recovery Path The Hill is reporting that, not surprisingly, Treasury's Steven Mnuchin and the Fed's Jerome Powell differ significantly over how soon economy will recover and what that will involve. In testimony before a House committee this week, Fed chair Powell and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin offered disparate forecasts for the recovery – despite broadly agreeing on the success of the federal response so far. Mnuchin told members of the House Financial Services Committee this week that he expected the economy to “improve significantly” in the second half of the year after adding 2.5 million jobs in May. “We are in a strong position to recover because the administration worked with Congress on a bipartisan basis,” Mnuchin said. He later agreed that further help for certain industries may be necessary. While Mnuchin asserted that the worst of the pandemic-driven recession is in the rearview mirror, Powell was less sanguine. He pointed to daunting obstacles still ahead after the country suffered “a level of pain that is hard to capture in words.” Powell pointed to particular challenges, saying that “the path forward will also depend on the policy actions taken at all levels of government to provide relief and support the recovery for as long as needed.” He argued in favor of another round of stimulus. The officials' comments come as Democrats push for another sweeping coronavirus relief bill and Republicans caution against moving forward before existing measures work their way through the system. The recent competing levels of optimism mark one of the few splits between the two most powerful U.S. economic officials amid months of close collaboration. Both have worked in lockstep to deploy trillions of dollars in economic aid that's widely credited with dampening the staggering blow of the pandemic. But Mnuchin's bullish outlook, which is shared widely among the top administration aides, has occasionally contrasted with Powell's cautious approach as the chief of the independent central bank. At least part of the Congressional discussion during the hearing focused on concerns about specific near-term developments including potential tenant evictions without more aid from Congress. Millions of tenants are at risk of receiving eviction notices in late July as protections from a major coronavirus stimulus program are set to expire, The Hill said. The coronavirus relief bill, signed as the CARES Act in late March, included a moratorium on evictions for tenants in units with federally backed mortgages or other assistance who were unable to pay rent. But agreement in Congress on an extension of the moratorium will be required to help families hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic who may soon have to make new living arrangements. Because the federal moratorium applies only to housing being paid off through federally backed mortgages or insurance, it only applies to about a fifth of renters. But because many of the government programs are aimed at keeping costs down for low-earners, those renters also tend to be among the most vulnerable. A patchwork of other state and local level policies for keeping people in their homes are also due to expire, creating a slew of potential problems nationwide. Experts note that one of the best ways to keep the housing problem in check is to maintain an expanded level of unemployment benefits, which are also due to run dry come August. The income is one of the main things keeping millions of newly unemployed Americans afloat. House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., sponsored her own bill that would extend the eviction moratorium into March and also expand its scope, while providing billions in emergency rental assistance and low-cost loans for landlords. It passed in the House Monday night 232-180, largely along party lines. In addition, the administration's IRS chief, Charles Rettig, said Tuesday that his agency would work with Congress to examine ways that the tax code contributes to racial wealth disparities. "I'm [a] huge proponent of inclusiveness, diversity," Rettig said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing, in response to a question from Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. "I think you're possibly aware of the fact that I'm the first commissioner whose spouse came to this country as a refugee. And so I understand how people are treated in different arenas, and we're all in," he added. Rettig's wife came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam. So, we will see. There continues to be strong support for additional relief from the virus impacts, but there are also growing cases of administration reluctance or even pushback to follow-on legislation. While Fed chair Powell continues to highlight the importance of additional anti-virus support the growing fights about specific proposals should be watched closely as they continue to emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 2, 2020 |


Sen. Grassley Pushing On Cattle Legislation Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, criticized Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., for blocking his bill that would require a percentage of cattle sales to be for cash rather than pre-negotiated. Grassley told reporters Tuesday that Roberts said he was “considering” the Grassley-pushed measure, but when other members of the Committee wanted to have breakfast with Roberts to discuss it, he declined. “Here is the sad thing about the chairman of the committee,” Grassley said. “This is badly needed... I think of the money beef producers are losing.” Grassley detailed that 80% of the cattle sales are pre-negotiated contracts. “Four producers that have 80% of slaughter capacity, they are powerful forces in this town. You would think the chairman of the Ag committee would see the needs of the family farmer.” It is not clear yet that the Grassley provision will gain enough support to be put in place, particularly if the Senate Ag Committee does not act on the legislation first.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 2, 2020 |


Dairy Producers Already Warning On Canada Dairy Changes The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) took effect on Wednesday and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) penned a June 30 letter which contends already there are issues on dairy policy relative to Canada's implementation of dairy product tariff rate quotas (TRQs). “…we believe that Canada is limiting certain U.S. dairy exports by maintaining restrictive TRQs and not moving quickly enough to implement a tariff rate quota (TRQ) administration system that is consistent with USMCA's Agriculture Chapter (the Agreement) as well as the annex on TRQs in the Canadian Schedule,” IDFA said in the letter to Gregg Doud, the ag trade negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. They note that under USMCA, Canada is not to put in place any new conditions or eligibility requirements on TRQs “beyond those set forth in the Canadian schedule.” However, the group noted that the eligibility and allocation calculations on proposed TRQs for many dairy products “impose eligibility and allocation calculation conditions that clearly fall outside of those set forth in the Canada schedule.” They specifically pointed to limiting access on the TRQ for Cheese of All Types to 15% for distributors and 85% for processors. “There is no such restriction in the Canada schedule,” IDFA said. They further noted there are new restrictions in place that “eliminate the opportunities for distributors to import bulk and retail-ready butter across the entire quote year,” based on a recent announcement by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). “I formally am registering our organization's deep concerns regarding Canada's non-compliance with the clear terms of the Agriculture Chapter of the Agreement,” IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes said. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the House Ways & Means Committee the administration would be closely monitoring Canada and dairy and other provisions in USMCA, warning, “If there's any shading of the benefits to American farmers, we're going to bring a case against them.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 2, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Dry conditions with very warm to hot temperatures are in store for most primary central crop areas Thursday. Rain will be confined to portions of the Delta and Deep South. This combination favors wheat harvest and will allow for flood easing in the southern Midwest. Row crop stress is a concern in drier areas of the eastern Midwest and the central and Southern Plains. Weather Dry conditions with very warm to hot temperatures are in store for most primary central crop areas Thursday. Rain will be confined to portions of the Delta and Deep South. This combination favors wheat harvest and will allow for flood easing in the southern Midwest. Row crop stress is a concern in drier areas of the eastern Midwest and the central and Southern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 1, 2020 |


The U.K. Still Resisting Agriculture Inclusion in U.S. Trade Talks United Kingdom officials in London are launching an advisory group that will focus on protecting the interests of British farmers during the upcoming high-stakes trade negotiations with the United States. Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary for the United Kingdom, says, “Trade pacts with other nations must be fair and reciprocal to our farmers, and must not compromise on our high standards of food safety and animal welfare.” Politico says that those two issues are among the many controversial sticking points for the upcoming negotiations with the Trump Administration. The White House wants the U.K. to ease its restrictions on certain ag practices and products like the so-called “chlorine chicken.” The restrictions on those practices effectively keep American farmers from having more access to the British market. The trade discussions with the United Kingdom are just ramping up as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement goes into effect on Wednesday, July 1st. ********************************************************************************************** China Import Pace Still Lagging Far Behind on Phase One Purchases China recently began purchasing more agricultural goods from the United States as the Asian country continues to recover from COVID-19 shutdowns. However, a Regina Leader-Post article says China’s import pace is still far behind where it needs to be to meet the terms of the Phase One trade agreement with the U.S. By the end of May, China had bought just 19 percent of the total purchase target of more than $170 billion in goods during 2020. Those numbers from U.S. Customs Administration data mean that China will need to buy about $139 billion in goods over the remainder of this year. China agreed to buy an additional $200 billion in goods and services over the 2017 level of purchases by the end of next year. That agreement paused a brutal trade war between the two largest economies in the world. “China will have to increase its purchases significantly in the coming months to meet the buying targets,” says Michelle Lam, a greater China economist based in Hong Kong. “However, as long as China keeps buying, markets could stay calm.” Industry analysts saw a significant jump in Chinese imports of American commodities in May. In June, China imported more meat than it did in April or May. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Releases Planted Acreage/Grain Stocks Report U.S. farmers planted more corn and soybeans this year than in 2019, but they’re also planting less wheat and cotton than last year. Those are the numbers from the latest USDA Crop Production Report issued on Tuesday. The National Ag Statistics Service says farmers planted 92 million acres of corn, below the 94.8 million the trade expected, but still three percent higher than 2019. Growers expect to harvest 84 million acres of corn for grain, up 11 percent over last year. Soybean planted acres are estimated at 83.8 million acres, up ten percent from last year. Cotton acres are estimated at 12.2 million, down 11 percent from 2019. The all-wheat planted acre estimate is 44.3 million acres, down two percent from last year. That number is the lowest all-wheat planted area on record since recordkeeping began in 1919. In the Stocks Report, corn stocks totaled 5.2 billion bushels, up less than one percent from last year. On-farm stocks were up three percent, while off-farm stocks were down two percent. Soybeans in storage came in at 1.39 billion bushels, down 22 percent from June 1st of 2019. On-farm soybean stocks dropped 13 percent from last year, while the off-farm stocks were down 28 percent. The all-wheat storage numbers totaled 1.04 billion bushels, down three percent from last year. ********************************************************************************************** Coalition Warns Congress About Shortage of Ag Inspectors A coalition of more than 150 agricultural organizations is urging Congressional appropriators to close an estimated $630 million funding shortfall for Agricultural Inspectors at ports-of-entry. The coalition stated its case in a letter written to key members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Customs and Border Protection Specialists, Technicians, and Canine Teams inspect ag imports to prevent the entry of foreign plant and animal pests and diseases, such as Foot and Mouth Disease. Allison Rivera, Director of Government Affairs with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says, “We must continue to fund our CBP Ag Inspectors and give them the resources they need so that they can continue to be vigilant at our ports of entry.” National Pork Producers Council President Howard “A.V.” Roth (Rowth) says, “We depend on those inspectors to ensure that American agriculture remains safe. They’re the first line of defense to ensure that African Swine Fever and other foreign animal diseases remain outside the United States borders.” The NPPC says lapsed vigilance of these inspections would have devastating consequences for all of U.S. agriculture. ********************************************************************************************** Peterson Wants Turkey Growers to Get CFAP Aid House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson said last week that turkey growers weren’t treated fairly in the first round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The Hagstrom Report says Peterson wants turkey producers to get in on the next round of coronavirus aid to come out of Congress. “The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payment is based on how much damage was done by COVID-19,” he said at the Minnesota Turkey Growers annual meeting. “In my opinion, there were many producers who weren’t treated correctly by this program, including turkey producers.” Sarah Anderson, Executive Director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers, says her group would absolutely like to be included in the next round of aid from CFAP. Anderson says the turkey industry doesn’t have the published data that the pork and beef industries have when it comes to the impact of COVID-19. “We’ve been working to provide data to the USDA so they know how much financial assistance growers will need,” Anderson says. “We’ve seen a loss in production for growers, so we want to make sure they’re covered.” ********************************************************************************************** Applications Open for the ASA Young Leader Program The American Soybean Association and Corteva (Kor-TEV-ah) Agriscience are seeking applicants for the 2021 ASA/Corteva Young Leader Program. The Young Leader Program is a two-phase educational program for actively-farming individuals and couples who are passionate about the future possibilities in agriculture. The women and men who get involved in the program are the leaders who will help shape the future of agriculture. Lucas and Becky Miller, Class Participants in 2020, say, “The ASA-Corteva Agriscience Young Leader Program is a phenomenal opportunity for any person or couple who is interested. It’s so much more than just a few days of leadership training in a classroom.” Phase 1 of the 2021 program takes place December 1-4 in Johnston, Iowa. The program continues March 2-6, 2021, at the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. “The Young Leader Program has had a tremendous impact on the soybean industry,” says ASA President Bill Gordon. “Many of the leaders at the state and the national level got their start in this program, including me.” Soybean grower couples and individuals are encouraged to apply for the program.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 1, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Looking Toward USMCA Certainly, there is a lot going on in the area of trade policy these days, including the implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement. Bloomberg notes that the deal goes into effect July 1 following “13 months of diplomatic negotiations, plus further political wrangling in Washington.” It calls the NAFTA replacement a vehicle for “modest changes in some areas, significant additions in others and a new name.” The report points out that NAFTA guided trade among the U.S., Canada and Mexico for more than 26 years, starting in 1994. It succeeded in phasing out tariffs on most goods, creating what was for a time the world's largest free-trade zone and “gradually tripling trade among the three countries.” And, it integrated North American supply chains in auto manufacturing and other industries and removed barriers to foreign investment and cross-border trade in services, Bloomberg said. The report argues that while the administration sees the new agreement is “altogether different,” and claims credit for ending “the terrible NAFTA,” and believes that the USMCA will be “fantastic for all!” Still, even fellow Republican, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said 95% of the new deal “is the same as NAFTA.” Bloomberg's analysis is that in spite of the USMCA's similarities to the earlier NAFTA, “some industries will notice changes,” and it describes a few. For example, for automakers, new rules require more vehicle components to be made in North America – with a portion made by workers earning an average of at least $16 per hour.” In addition, Canada will allow more imports of U.S. dairy products while both Canada and Mexico will increase the value of goods that can be imported duty-free. And, Bloomberg notes that now, “internet platforms can't be held liable for third-party content, and companies can't be required to store their data locally – and Canada is also increasing its copyright protection term. In retrospect, Bloomberg notes that while the administration insists that NAFTA was “the “worst deal in U.S. history,” and blamed it for increasing the U.S. trade deficit and sending manufacturing jobs to Mexico, that argument will continue for some time in the future. It comments that “most objective analyses conclude that NAFTA didn't cause major aggregate American job losses but also didn't significantly boost U.S. gross domestic product." Now, the USMCA is expected to boost U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada by about 5% overall, the U.S. International Trade Commission says. It also expects the deal will result in a 0.35% GDP increase in its sixth year—and will increase U.S. workers' annual incomes by an average of $150 and employment by 0.12%, or roughly 176,000 jobs. The President, however, has said the pact could bring more than 1 million jobs to the U.S., far beyond other estimates. Not everyone agrees, Bloomberg notes and cites an International Monetary Fund assessment that criticized the deal on the grounds that it will reduce the country's “welfare” (a measurement of consumption) by $794 million, while boosting Canada's by $734 million and Mexico's by $597 million – “relatively small” effects at the aggregate level, but likely sufficient to provide grounds for continued debate. Just implementing the deal will benefit some businesses by providing increased certainty about the future, especially because it largely exempts Canada and Mexico from future auto tariffs. The deal won't, however, stop the U.S. from reviving tariffs on Canadian aluminum that American officials say are necessary to respond to an oversupply from the north. The deal was in limbo for months as U.S. opposition Democrats successfully negotiated several changes before ratifying it. The revised agreement removes a loophole in NAFTA that allowed any country to object to the formation of enforcement panels and it adds new labor provisions, including a labor-specific dispute panel system and an inter-agency committee to monitor labor rights in Mexico. Democrats also succeeded in removing a provision that would have guaranteed 10 years of data protection for biologic drugs. It is clear that the deal is massive, composed of 34 chapters and 12 side letters. It does retain most of NAFTA's chapters making notable changes to market access provisions for autos and agriculture products, to rules such as investment, government procurement, and intellectual property rights, and to labor and the environment. New issues, such as digital trade, state-owned enterprises, and currency misalignment are also addressed. So, we will see. There was a great deal of political concern that the administration would merely scrap NAFTA in spite of its benefits for many producers, including agriculture. That anxiety likely will abate – although the eventual implementation likely will include numerous fights and more than a little uncertainty. Still, the concept of a free-flowing North American market is preserved, and modernized. Certainly, the devil is in the details and these should be watched closely as they are increasingly defined and made operational, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 1, 2020 |


Farm Groups Ask For More Funding On Inspectors In a letter Monday to congressional appropriations committees, several U.S. farm groups warned the decline in cargo imports and international travel have significantly reduced collections of the user fees funding Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Quarantine Inspection at U.S. ports of entry. The shortfall is estimated to total $630 million through Fiscal Year 2021. “It is inconceivable that Congress would risk widespread damage to U.S. agriculture and the overall economy by not funding these inspections,” the organizations said in the letter. The House Appropriations Committee next week will start its appropriations process, with the ag spending plan up first with action on July 6 at the subcommittee level and July 9 at the full committee.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 1, 2020 |


Groups Urge Scale Back of EV Provisions in House Infrastructure Plan A late push was made by a coalition of ag and other groups on electronic vehicle (EV) provisions in the $1.5 trillion House infrastructure package. The groups warned that the package's increase on limits on electric vehicle (EV) credits and expansion of EV infrastructure like charging stations. They argue the provisions benefit “a small and affluent segment of the driving public, at additional cost to all other Americans.” They argue the expansion of the current EV tax credit, establishing of a new credit for used EVs, incentivizing states to “allow utilities to force all ratepayers to fund the buildout of electric charging infrastructure that only a few will utilize.” Plus, they point out that EV owners do not pay into the Highway Trust Fund. “Congress should maximize investment dollars in infrastructure that benefit all Americans, not a small subset of the automobile fleet,” the letter stated. The American Farm Bureau Federation, American Petroleum Institute, and Agricultural Retailers Association are among those signing the letter. Meanwhile, the White House threatened a veto of the legislation.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 1, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Grain traders' first priority will be examining updated weather forecasts. After that, ADP gives an estimate of private sector job changes for June at 7:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by ISM's index of U.S. manufacturing at 9 a.m. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly report of U.S. energy inventories, including ethanol is at 9:30 a.m. At 1 p.m. CDT, the Federal Reserve releases minutes from it's most recent meeting, offering clues about the economy. Weather Wednesday features shower and thunderstorm activity from the northeastern Plains to the southern Midwest. Areas to the east and west of the rain corridor will be dry with concern for crop moisture ahead of corn pollination. Stressful heat is also in store for the southern Plains. Hot and dry conditions will favor wheat harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 30, 2020 |


Governors Want EPA to Reject Retroactive Refinery Exemptions South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (gnome) and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz sent a letter to Andrew Wheeler, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator regarding small refinery exemptions. They’re asking the agency to reject all of the 52 applications for retroactive small refinery exemptions from the Renewable Fuels Standard for past compliance years. Governor Noem and Governor Walz are the chair and vice-chair of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition. “We are concerned that EPA is considering exemptions for prior years that were specifically submitted to evade the court of appeal’s decision by allowing refineries with lapsed SREs to establish a continuous chain of exemptions,” the governors say. “Approving prior-year SREs in this manner ignores the court’s decision and congressional intent, and it will severely impact farmers and rural communities that support the biofuels industry. Since 2017, the EPA has granted 85 SREs, undermining farmers and biofuel producers throughout the nation.” In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Tenth Circuit ruled that the EPA could not legally award exemptions to refiners that didn’t receive any waivers in previous years and had failed to demonstrate hardship in any way related to the RFS. If all 52 applications get approved, the coalition says it will cost the market more than two billion gallons worth of demand. ********************************************************************************************** ASA Names Brian Vaught as Temporary CEO The American Soybean Association announced late last week that Chief Financial Officer Brian Vaught will replace Ryan Findlay as a temporary CEO of the organization. In a statement, the ASA says the group’s board of directors is “appreciative of Ryan Findlay’s hard work and dedication to the soybean industry.” With the organization now in transition mode, ASA says it remains confident in its staff members, both in St. Louis and in Washington, D.C., as well as in the value that they bring to the soybean industry. ASA’s governing body continues to support the organization’s growth, including in the independent policy office in D.C., and the internal management structure established throughout the organization by the now-former CEO. Findlay joined the organization in 2018. He was named to the top post after Steven Censky, who held the post for more than 20 years, headed to D.C. to become the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Findlay is a veteran of U.S. agriculture, holding jobs at Syngenta, Michigan Farm Bureau, and as a staff member in the Michigan legislature. ********************************************************************************************** Food Exporters Unhappy with China Clampdown on Imports China’s General Administration on Customs is asking some exporters to sign forms guaranteeing their products are free from COVID-19 contamination. Politico says that’s not sitting well with many U.S. food producers, who say they’re hesitant to sign off on the new safety protocols when they say it’s highly unlikely their food can even carry the virus. Western Growers CEO Dave Puglia (POO-glee-ah) says the new requirements from Beijing “are not based on any legitimate food safety concern,” citing international food safety guidelines that have found no evidence of the virus being transmitted through food or packaging. The pushback follows a rare joint statement from the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration that says, “Efforts by some countries to restrict global food exports related to COVID-19 transmission are not consistent with the known science of transmission.” Instead of signing the form issued from the Chinese government, some exporters are sending their own “commitment statements” with their cargo. The Ag Transportation Coalition sent its members three examples of statements they could use. “While China Customs hasn’t confirmed these statements are acceptable substitutes for the official form, we are hearing that exporters sending these statements have not encountered any issues so far with their customers clearing cargo in China,” the group says in an email. ********************************************************************************************** Not All “Meatless” Meats Good for Health/Environment A Forbes article says science-backed claims that plant-based meats are healthier for both humans and the environment have sparked a wave of veganism. However, all may not be as it appears. Sarah Galetti, the founder of vegan frozen food brand Tattooed Chef, says that many of the vegetarian meat products aren’t as clean as consumers think. Some of the brands that make an effort to mimic meat using scientifically engineered textures, smells, and flavors. Among those ingredients is soy hemoglobin, which is made from genetically modified yeast, which is used in the product to look like blood. The Burger King Whopper only has 30 more calories than the Impossible Whopper, the company’s “meatless” alternative. The Whopper also as one more gram of saturated fat and is 270 milligrams lower in salt than the Impossible Whopper. Research from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology indicates that “Among meat substitutes, veggie burgers are associated with the highest carbon dioxide emissions, coming in at 4.1 kilograms per kilogram of the product.” ********************************************************************************************** Court Says No to Reversal on Dicamba Late last week, a panel of judges in the Ninth Circuit Court said no to a BASF motion to stay and recall their June 3rd ruling that vacated three dicamba registrations. The move puts dicamba registrations and product users back where they started the month: with three or four over-the-top dicamba herbicides no longer federally approved for use. For now, farmers and applicators can still apply any existing stocks that were in their possession on June 3rd, according to the cancellation order issued by the Environmental Protection Agency on June 8th. They have to follow directions on the former labels, as well as any state rules that are already in effect, including state cutoff dates that may have already taken place. Looking past 2020, a DTN article says the future of three dicamba registrations is in limbo. BASF had asked the judges to recall their mandate based on several reasons. For example, BASF says it wasn’t made aware that its Engenia herbicide was at stake in the case before the June 3rd decision. That meant they didn’t get a proper opportunity to defend the product in court. ********************************************************************************************** No Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days in 2020 The Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days have been going strong for 65 years as a place that farmers can go to find out about new products and tools to boost productivity. But, for the first time ever the shows won’t happen. Farm Progress made the difficult decision to cancel both shows due to the rapidly changing conditions related to COVID-19. Show management had initially said the shows would go on with different health and safety requirements in place. State and local officials had come out in support for both shows taking place. But Farm Progress officials said it became apparent in a very short time that the situation across the U.S. is changing. While state and local officials had expressed support for the shows, Farm Progress said it became apparent in a very short time that the situation in the U.S. is changing. “We have been working with officials in Iowa and Nebraska for our shows, and we appreciate the support they expressed for us to hold the events,” says Senior Vice President Don Tourte. “They are critical partners to us, and we are all disappointed to not host the events this year but feel confident this is the right decision for our community.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 30, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Following the US, China Feud Bloomberg is reporting this week that the U.S.-China feud is “getting nasty with red tape as a stealth weapon.” The article says the countries are “moving beyond trade threats to exchanging regulatory punches that threaten a wide range of industries including technology, energy and air travel.” The two have blacklisted each other's companies, barred flights and expelled journalists -- to the point that the unfolding skirmish is starting to make companies nervous that the trading landscape could shift out from under them. “There are many industries where U.S. companies have made long-term bets on China's future,” said Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's head of international affairs. Now, they're “recognizing the risk.” China will look to avoid measures that could backfire, said Shi Yinhong, an adviser to the nation's cabinet and a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. Any sanctions on U.S. companies would be a “last resort” because China “is in desperate need of foreign investment from rich countries for both economic and political reasons.” Still, pressure is only expected to intensify ahead of the U.S. elections in November, as President Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden joust over who will take a tougher line on China, Bloomberg said. Trump has blamed China for covering up the coronavirus pandemic and accused Beijing of “illicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets.” Biden, likewise, has described President Xi Jinping as a thug, labeled mass detention of Uighur Muslims as unconscionable and accused China of predatory trade practices. And, on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats have found rare unity in their opposition to China, with lawmakers eager to take action against Beijing for its handling of COVID-19, forced technology transfers, human rights abuses and its tightening grip on Hong Kong. China has repeatedly rejected U.S. accusations over its handling of the pandemic, Uighurs, Hong Kong and trade. China also has fired back at the Trump administration for undermining global cooperation and seeking to start a “new cold war.” Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month said China had no interest in replacing the U.S. as a hegemonic power, while adding that the U.S. should give up its “wishful thinking” of changing the country. Both sides have already taken a series of regulatory moves aimed at protecting market shares. For example, the U.S. is citing security concerns in blocking China Mobile Ltd., the world's largest mobile operator, from entering the U.S. market. It's culling Chinese-made drones from government fleets and discouraging the deployment of Chinese transformers on the power grid. The administration has also tried to constrain the global reach of China's Huawei Technologies Co., the world's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer. Meanwhile, China prevented U.S. airline flights into the country for more than two months and, after the U.S. imposed visa restrictions on Chinese journalists, it expelled American journalists. It has stepped up its scrutiny of U.S. companies, with China's state news agency casting one probe as a warning to the White House. China also has long made it difficult for U.S. telecommunications companies to enter its market, requiring overseas operators to co-invest with local firms and requiring authorization by the central government. One of the most combustible flash points has been the administration's campaign to contain Huawei by seeking to limit the company's business in the U.S. and push allies to shun its gear in their networks. After suppliers found work-arounds, Commerce in May tightened rules to bar any chipmaker using American equipment from selling to Huawei without U.S. approval, a step that could constrain virtually the entire contract chipmaking industry. Although Huawei can buy off-the-shelf or commodity mobile chips from a third party, such as Samsung Electronics Co. or MediaTek Inc., going that route could force it to make costly compromises on performance in basic products. Bloomberg thinks that both the U.S. and China have ample opportunities to ratchet up regulatory pressure. A bill passed by the Senate last month could prompt the delisting of Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges if American officials aren't allowed to review their financial audits. And last week, as the U.S. State Department imposed visa bans on Chinese Communist Party officials accused of infringing the freedom of Hong Kong citizens, a senior official made clear the move was just an opening salvo in a campaign to force Beijing to back off new restrictions on the city. Companies are still lured to China and its massive local market – and tensions with the U.S. don't overcome the Asian superpower's appeal. Just one-fifth of companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in China late last year said they had moved or were considering moving some operations outside of the country, part of a three-year downward trend. However, China is no longer the lowest-cost manufacturer and companies are increasingly reluctant to invest there, said James Lewis, director of the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Everyone would like to be in the China market – everyone wants it to be like 2010-- but things are changing.” So, we will see. Certainly, the pre-election tensions amplify trade uncertainties, large and small. And, they boost the stakes involved – a making it essential for producers, as well as others, to watch this policy “dance” closely as changes and shifts emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 30, 2020 |


US Rice Industry Calls For End To Duty-Free Treatment Of Rice Under GSP The U.S. rice industry is calling on the Trump administration to eliminate duty-free treatment for all rice imports under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The USA Rice Federation filed a petition in March asking for the action. But the U.S. Trade Representative's office, in a set of questions to the rice group and countries that would be affected by the action, noted the U.S. rice industry was still a “significant rice exporter,” with foreign shipments of $1.9 billion last year. USTR is asking, “Could you please advise whether increased rice imports have harmed U.S. rice production or exports, and if so, how specifically?” Further, they also sought an explanation of the U.S. parboiling industry, its employment levels and locations, and the “degree to which it might be injured by imports.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 30, 2020 |


Ernst Holding Up EPA Nominee Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she will block President Donald Trump's nomination of Doug Benevento to be EPA's Deputy Administrator from advancing until the agency reveals how it plans to handle the dozens of new requests from refineries for exemptions from their biofuel requirements. “Until EPA tells us exactly what they plan to do with the 'gap year' waivers, Mr. Benevento does not have my vote,” Ernst said in a statement. “Iowa's hardworking ethanol and biodiesel producers are sick of being yanked around by Andrew Wheeler and the EPA. Our producers need certainty; until we get that, no EPA nominee is getting my vote.” Benevento is currently EPA associate deputy administrator and was nominated in February to take the number two post at the agency. Holds are not new in the world of Congress, and EPA nominations have been a target previously, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, previously holding up an EPA nomination over biofuel policy. EPA's proposed 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been under review at the at the Office of Management Budget (OMB) and is normally issued in the late-June/early July timeframe.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 30, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets After a report on consumer confidence at 9 a.m. CDT Tuesday, grain traders will brace themselves for USDA's Acreage and June 1 Grain Stocks reports at 11 a.m. CDT. Ongoing interests in weather and export news will round out the day's attention. Weather Thunderstorms with locally heavy rain and severe potential are in store for the Northern Plains and southern Midwest Tuesday. Flood potential is widespread in the southern Midwest due to the prospect of heavy rain. Some flooding is also possible in the far Northern Plains. Other crop areas will be dry. Hot and dry conditions in the Southern Plains will favor wheat harvest but will continue to stress row crops and livestock. Irrigation demand in drier areas is extensive.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 29, 2020 |


FFA National Convention and Expo Goes Digital in October The National FFA Organization announced last week that the 2020 National FFA Convention and Expo will be held virtually. “We wanted to ensure that our members and guests had the full convention experience,” says Mark Peoschl (PESH-uhl), National FFA CEO. “After a discussion with the Board of Directors, the decision was made to move forward with a virtual experience in 2020.” He says as they continued to plan for the national convention, it became clear that travel restrictions and public health concerns, among many other challenges, made hosting their in-person event impossible this year. This year’s event will still be hosted by the 2019-2020 National FFA Officer Team and continue the tradition of celebrating and inspiring hundreds of thousands of FFA members who will become the next generation of leaders. “While the convention will look, a little different this year than what we’re used to, FFA members around the country have proven their willingness to not only adapt but create meaningful experiences while celebrating FFA and agricultural education,” says Kolesen McCoy, National FFA President. The organization looks forward to returning to Indianapolis with an in-person convention in 2021 as part of its long-term partnership that now runs through 2033. The organization and its board of directors also decided last week to extend the city of Indianapolis’s contract for two more years. ********************************************************************************************** Senators Urge EPA to Reject Biofuel Blending Waivers Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa, along with Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency on blending waivers. They’re asking the EPA to reject petitions for Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuels Standard for past compliance years. In the letter, the senators warn that by granting any or all of the petitions, the agency would only worsen the economic challenges facing the biofuels industry. They also want the EPA to apply the Tenth Circuit Court decision nationally. “We urge you to reject these petitions outright and respond in writing to our questions about recent use of SREs under the RFS,” the senators say in the letter. “These petitions should not even be looked at because they are inconsistent with the Tenth Circuit Decision, Congressional intent, as well as the EPA’s own guidance.” Most importantly, they say it goes against the best interests of farmers and rural communities who rely on the biofuel industry. “The approval of the SREs for past compliance years will only worsen the already unprecedented challenges facing the biofuels industry and the rural communities that it supports,” the Senators added. ********************************************************************************************** Groups Appreciate Biofuel Support in Senate The National Biodiesel Board is grateful to a bipartisan group of senators who asked the Environmental Protection Agency to reject 52 RFS exemption requests. Those petitions are for past compliance years. The Senators expressed frustration and alarm in the letter that Administrator Andrew Wheeler is considering exemptions for refineries that either did not submit petitions or weren’t granted waivers in the past. NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, Kurt Kovarik, says, “A brand new flood of unlawful small refinery exemptions is guaranteed to compound the damage done to rural America over the last several years.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the sole purpose of the retroactive exemptions is to circumvent the law at the expense of rural families struggling to get back on their feet. “There is no justification for allowing these petitions to hang over the market, injecting uncertainty into America’s agricultural recovery,” Skor says. “EPA needs to dismiss the oil industry’s latest attempt to destroy demand for biofuels and restore the integrity to the RFS.” Growth Energy is grateful to the senators for standing up to this attempt to “rewrite history, skirt the courts, and torpedo efforts to rebuild America’s agricultural supply chain.” ********************************************************************************************** Mexican President to Meet This Week with Trump Mexican President Andres Manuel (Man-WELL) Lopez Obrador will be in Washington this week to celebrate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade going into full effect. The Washington Trade Daily says Obrador will meet with President Trump and may also meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. As the agreement between the three North American countries enters into force, Obrador is making the trip to signal Mexico’s commitment to the USMCA and that it’s a reliable partner in the agreement. Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy spoke recently during a webinar sponsored by the Atlantic Council, noting that implementation of the USMCA is even more important as the countries try to recover from COVID-19. The trade pact was negotiated before the coronavirus outbreak took off, but it can also be a model for trade in the post-pandemic world. The Hagstrom Report says officials in Mexico also believe that in the wake of COVID-19, most countries will be looking to bring their supply chains closer to home. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Hog Industry is Up by Five Percent As of June first, U.S. farms contained 79.6 million hogs and pigs, up five percent from June of 2019. That’s also three percent higher than March first of this year. The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report came out last week from USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Out of the total of 79.6 million hogs, 73.3 million are market hogs, while 6.3 million will be kept for breeding. Between March and May of this year, U.S. farms weaned 34.9 million pigs, up one percent from the same time a year ago. Also, from March to May 2020, U.S. hog and pig farmers weaned an average of 11 pigs per litter. U.S. hog producers intend to have 3.12 million sows farrow between June and August of 2020, and 3.09 million sows will farrow between September and November. The largest herd inventory is located in Iowa, where the total number is 25.2 million head. Minnesota was second at 9.6 million head and North Carolina was third with 9.4 million head of hogs and pigs. ********************************************************************************************** McDonald’s in Canada Says No to More Beyond Meat Burgers Shares of Beyond Meat fell seven percent last week after the CBC report that said McDonald’s stopped testing a burger made with its patties in Canada. McDonald’s’ in Canada says the test ended on April sixth, mentioning on Twitter that they “have no plans to bring it back to our menu at the current time.” A Beyond Meat spokesperson tells CNBC that, “We can only comment generally and share that we were pleased with the test.” The company’s CEO Ethan Brown said in early May that the test concluded for no negative reason at all. “We feel very good about our relationship with McDonald’s,” Brown says. “We feel good about what’s going to be happening, both there and potentially elsewhere.” Back in September of 2019, McDonald’s joined the push for more meat alternatives in North America when it began testing the meat-free PLT burger in southwestern Ontario. McDonald’s says there has been no change in its relationship with Beyond Meat, noting that they’re evaluating learnings from their recent test to inform future menu options.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 29, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Decoupling US Trade From China Will be Hard While President Donald Trump is urging American companies to “ditch China,” many of them can’t get more goods fast enough. There are several reasons, Bloomberg reports. As an example, Bloomberg follows the container ship Melina, which set sail Wednesday from a Chinese port near Shenzhen with products bound for U.S. households. The report calls the ship a hulking “symbol of how the flow of goods is adapting in a global economy crippled by a pandemic.” Capable of carrying almost 4,300 containers, she’s “downright petite” in an industry where the biggest ships can handle more than 20,000. However, the Melina is part of a budding fleet of smaller vessels that COVID-19 has thrust into service. These tend to compete on the basis of speed and it will dock in Los Angeles on July 6 after a 12-day journey, which is a week ahead of a larger ship doing the same route, Bloomberg says. However, speed is costly -- as much as double the cost of standard transpacific service -- which is already rising as the world’s biggest shipping companies scale back capacity perhaps by 25% this quarter and another 10% in the third quarter. The industry expects U.S. retail demand to recover only slowly amid “plenty of fog on the global economic horizon.” But for now, “shipping demand from some companies remains brisk,” justifying the added import cost of fast delivery from online shoppers for everything “from protective medical gear to baby pools for the backyard.” Melina is among lines offering express service between China and the U.S., the kind of links that show the difficulty President Trump faces in pushing for a “complete decoupling” of the world’s largest economies and bringing production back home. “We expect the need for this expedited service to be permanent and actually grow as the share of e-commerce in global trade will continue to grow,” Nissim Yochai, the company’s executive vice president in the Pacific, said from Hong Kong. “This abnormal period will continue as long as the world continues to search for tools to offset the COVID-19 pandemic and to assist people attempting to get out to work and socialize and, of course, consume.” Striking a balance between global supply and demand is what shipping companies are trying to do constantly, looking months and even years in advance. The pandemic has made that job much harder. One way to do it is to cancel sailings, which they’ve been doing a lot lately. At the adjoining ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the main gateway for Chinese imports, 45 trips have been scrapped this quarter, more than four times the number in the second quarter of 2019. For some U.S. companies on the receiving end of goods, shipping disruptions are starting to subside. For others, they’re just beginning, Bloomberg says. “We’re not at the point right now where we’ve rebalanced supply to the demand because the demand signals are jumping all over the board,” said Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of the Association for Supply Chain Management. About 80% of the world’s trade crosses an ocean by ship, and the industry typically has two busy seasons tied to Chinese holidays, the New Year and Golden Week in October. With normal shipping rates double what they were three months ago and air cargo rates still elevated because of a dearth of commercial flights, importers are facing the strains of a peak season now. A general merchandiser in small-town America that offers free coffee and a bag of popcorn, Rural King is little different than other traditional retailers that experienced recent shortages of toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer, Bloomberg said. But thanks to a flexible supply chain and close relationships with vendors in China and elsewhere in Asia, the firm has managed to keep most items stocked and is having a good year. Who knew squirrel feeders would be big sellers in a global health crisis, or plastic pools, Rural King manager told Bloomberg. “And, we just got another shipment of trampolines,” he said, adding that Rural King stores sold 300 in one day recently. Good thing for him he has 100 to 200 suppliers in China, and in Vietnam whom he talks to daily and who are scrambling to help meet the rush. “They are unbelievable with these orders.” So, we will see. The online retail services system is huge and driven by powerful economic forces that make it extremely difficult to realign, as the Trump administration appears to be finding out. However the changes being proposed are important and should be watched closely by producers as the nation struggles to overcome the coronavirus, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 29, 2020 |


USDA to Allow Online Applications for CFAP Applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will now be accepted by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) via an online portal and the agency said it would now be “leveraging commercial document storage and e-signature solutions” to allow for the completion of applications from home. Through the online portal, producers can use eAuthentication -- secure USDA login credentials -- to certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center. Currently, the digital application is only available to sole proprietors or single-member business entities, FSA noted. The agency also said that offices can “work with producers to complete and securely transmit digitally signed applications through two commercially available tools: Box and OneSpan.” As of June 22, USDA has paid out $4.006 billion in CFAP payments to 252,489 producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 29, 2020 |


Lawmakers Call on EPA to Reject Retroactive Small Refinery Exemptions EPA should deny 52 retroactive small refinery exemption (SRE) requests it has received going back to the 2011 compliance year, according to a bipartisan group of 16 senators led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. “These petitions should not even be entertained because they are inconsistent with the Tenth Circuit decision, Congressional intent, the EPA’s own guidance, and -- most importantly -- the interests of farmers and rural communities who rely on the biofuel industry,” the letter noted. Retroactive waivers “would only worsen the unprecedented economic challenges facing the biofuels industry and the rural communities that it supports,” the letter added. The lawmakers also want EPA to explain exemptions for refineries owned by Chevron and Exxon Mobil.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 29, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from another summer weekend, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts with corn pollination approaching. A May index of pending home sales is due out at 9 a.mCDT, followed by USDA's weekly export inspections at 10 a.m. USDA's Crop Progress report is set for 3 p.m. CDT with plenty of interest in USDA's latest crop ratings. Weather Thunderstorms with locally heavy rain and the potential for high winds and hail are in store for portions of the Northern Plains and Midwest Monday. Areas bypassed by the storms will have very warm to hot conditions with heat stress likely. Haze due in part to the huge dust cloud from the Sahara Desert will produce air quality issues in addition to the heat stress. Hot and dry conditions in the Southern Plains will favor wheat harvest

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 26, 2020 |


Ag Equipment Manufacturers Still Struggling with COVID-19 The Association of Equipment Manufacturers continues to struggle with COVID-19. AEM represents 12 percent of the U.S. manufacturing sector, which is still adjusting to challenging and changing economic conditions. Roughly 75 percent of U.S. equipment manufacturers say the impact of COVID-19 on the overall economy is still very negative. As many as 60 percent of industry executives say that the federal government hasn’t done enough to support the industry as it continues to face a decline in demand and supply chain disruptions. “COVID-19 continues to negatively impact equipment manufacturers and the 2.8 million men and women in our industry,” says Dennis Slater, President of AEM. “We have seen some improvements to the operations and financial outlook for our member companies. However, the industry still faces a long road back to normal.” Slater says even as the industry continues to build, feed, and power the country, there are far too many of the member companies running out of time. Many equipment executives say they’re still struggling to keep workers on the job, with 80 percent of them admitting they won’t be able to rehire workers laid off earlier in the year. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Fires Back at China Linking COVID Concerns and Food Imports U.S. health and agricultural authorities issued thinly-veiled criticism of new Chinese demands placed on food-exporting companies. Beijing is asking those companies to sign documents stating that they comply with Chinese safety standards to prevent COVID transmission. “Efforts by some countries to restrict global food exports related to COVID-19 transmission are not consistent with the known science of transmission,” says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn in a joint statement. The two officials both say there is “no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or packaging.” Bloomberg says that’s in line with expert advice saying that food poses little risk of spreading the coronavirus. China recently warned global exporters dealing with outbreaks among employees by placing bans on a plant owned by Tyson Foods, which reported infections at a site in Arkansas. China’s customs authorities say companies in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Brazil, have voluntarily halted shipments due to a rise in the number of positive COVID cases within their borders. Tyson was the first major U.S. company to sign the Chinese certificate, while others have been more reluctant to sign an affidavit due to liability concerns. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Adds Digital Options for CFAP Applications USDA’s Farm Service Agency will take applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program through an online portal. The agency’s goal is to expand the options available to producers to apply for the program, which helps offset price declines and additional marketing costs because of the coronavirus pandemic. FSA is also leveraging commercial document storage and e-signature solutions to enable producers to work with local service center staff to complete their applications from home. “We’re doing everything we can to serve our customers and make sure agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19 can quickly and securely apply for this relief program,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “In addition to working with FSA staff through the phone, email, and scheduled in-person appointments, we can now also take applications through the farmers.gov portal, which saves time for both our staff and producers.” Those producers who already have secure USDA login credentials can certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications and submit them directly to the local USDA Service Center. Producers who don’t have a secure login can begin the signup process at www.farmers.gov/sign-in. ********************************************************************************************** NFU: EPA is a “Barrier” for Emission Reduction in Biofuels The head of the National Farmers Union blasted the Environmental Protection Agency, calling it a “barrier” for reducing greenhouse gasses in biofuels. “The EPA has been the primary barrier to a lot of additional success that we can have in reducing greenhouse gasses in ethanol technology,” says Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union. “The story for grain-based ethanol, in general is the EPA continues to be a barrier, not only because of the waivers they’ve issued but also for barriers against higher blends.” Larew’s comments during a Senate hearing took place days after the EPA said it had received 52 new petitions from oil refiners asking for retroactive exemptions to requirements that they blend biofuels into their products. A court overturned three agency-issued waivers in January, which the EPA did not appeal. Biofuels are a complex issue as the Trump Administration struggles to balance the conflicting interests of farmers and the oil industry, two demographics that are key parts of President Trump’s base. The NFU President appeared during a Senate Ag Committee hearing on a new bipartisan bill designed to help farmers get carbon credits in exchange for sustainable farming practices. ********************************************************************************************** Senators Question Meatpackers About Chinese Exports, Meat Shortages Two Democrats in the U.S. Senate are questioning top American meatpackers about past shipments to China while America went through meat shortages in grocery stores across the country. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker want to know by the end of this month how much pork, beef, and chicken those companies shipped to China during the coronavirus outbreak while warning of possible domestic meat shortages. Reuters says the inquiry increases the scrutiny on companies like Tyson Foods, JBS USA, and Smithfield Foods, after thousands of meatpacking workers were infected with COVID-19. USDA data says those companies exported 112,327 tons of U.S. pork to China in April, more than any other month before and up 257 percent from a year earlier. Those export numbers raise questions about why U.S. meat prices soared, and President Trump had to order the nation’s slaughterhouses to stay open to protect the nation’s food supply. In a letter outlining their request for information, Booker and Warren said, “This pattern of behavior raises questions about whether you are living up to your commitments to the workers who produce your pork and beef, the communities in which you operate, and the nation’s consumers that rely on your products to feed their families.” ********************************************************************************************** Largest Meatpacking Union Confirms Growing COVID-19 Impact on Workers The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union held a press conference highlighting the impact and growing danger of COVID-19 on frontline workers. The union represents 1.3 million employees. The UFCW says that during the last 100 days, 238 UFCW frontline workers have died from COVID-19 and nearly 29,000 workers have been infected or exposed. UFCW International President Marc Perrone (Per-RONE) announced three new initiatives the union wants in effect. The first is establishing hazard pay and a $15 per hour wage for all frontline workers. Second is establishing a public mask mandate in all 50 states. Third, they want a new national public registry to track COVID-19 infections in frontline workers. That would require companies with more than 1,000 employees to submit monthly reports on their worker deaths, infections, and exposures. Perrone says, “100 days into COVID-19 and American frontline workers still face many of the same dangers they faced on day one. Frontline workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and healthcare facilities, are still getting sick and dying.” He also says it’s high time for America’s CEOs and elected leaders to “pull their head out of the sand” and take strong action needed to protect America’s brave workers.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 26, 2020 |


Washington Insider: IMF Warning on Coronavirus Impacts The International Monetary Fund emphasized on Wednesday that the global economy faces an even deeper downturn than previously projected, and that the pandemic “continues to sow uncertainty” as businesses around the world struggle to recover. Even at this stage, it is increasingly evident that the recovery will be uneven and protracted “as cases continue to surge and consumers remain wary of resuming normal activity,” the New York Times reported. In an update to its World Economic Outlook, the IMF said it expects the global economy to shrink 4.9% this year -- a sharper contraction than the 3% predicted in April. The fund noted that, even as businesses began to reopen, voluntary social distancing and enhanced workplace safety standards were weighing on economic activity and that the “scarring” of the labor force from job cuts and business closures will slow global recovery. It now projects 5.4% global growth in 2021, far below its pre-pandemic projections. Overall, the IMF expects that the cumulative loss of total output for the global economy this year and next year will top $12 trillion. NYT says the IMF forecast is “more grim” than global projections outlined earlier this month by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And its U.S. forecast for 2020 is less optimistic than that the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve have projected. The IMF now projects that the U.S. economy will shrink 8% this year before expanding 4.5% next year. The Fed in June projected a particularly sharp U.S. economic hit in 2020 with output contracting 6.5% at the end of this year compared to the final quarter of 2019, before rebounding by 5% in 2021. A May report from the Congressional Budget Office forecast a 5.6% contraction in the United States this year. Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said on Wednesday that he expects a “broad recovery will take some time” in the United States, adding that “the future is more uncertain now than at any other time” in his professional career. “My forecast assumes growth is held back by responses to intermittent localized outbreaks -- which might be made worse by the faster-than-expected re-openings,” Evans said. “Usually, we are able to look to the past for guidance on what is in store for the future. But in this situation, there is simply no relevant benchmark.” The pandemic has not spared advanced or developing economies. Economies in the eurozone are projected to shrink 10.2% this year and expand 6% next year. In China, where the virus originated and which imposed draconian containment measures, the economy is expected to expand 1% this year and 8.2% in 2021. Nonetheless, the Trump administration continues to suggest a more bullish outlook, the Times said. Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said Tuesday that he expected a V-shaped recovery, with a “sharp, steady economic uptick on the heels of recession.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he could foresee the recession being over in the United States by the end of the year. Prolonged economic pain means increased pressure on the administration and U.S. lawmakers to move forward with another round of stimulus measures. House Democrats want a $3 trillion economic support package but Republicans are increasingly wary of the long-term impacts of such spending. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said this week that future measures should be more targeted to help industries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. President Trump has suggested he would be open to another round of stimulus checks, which could land in peoples’ bank accounts just ahead of the November election. The IMF notes that, even in countries where infection rates are declining, major obstacles to the resumption of normal activity persist and that the pandemic has curtailed the flow of global trade, which the fund estimated had contracted 3.5% in the first quarter from a year earlier. That is in line with an estimate by the WTO, the Times said, which reported on Tuesday that global trade had fallen sharply in the first half of the year. On the brighter side, that trajectory did not seem quite as bad as the group had previously projected. Trade in goods shrank 3% year on year in the first quarter while initial estimates indicate that it fell 18.5% in the second quarter, the steepest decline on record. But those declines could have been much worse, the organization said. Trade needs to grow only modestly for the rest of the year to meet the organization’s outlook for a 13% contraction in 2020, versus a more pessimistic potential decline of 32%. Roberto Azevedo, the director general of the WTO called the development a “silver lining” but said governments need to be on guard and continue to stimulate the economy. “This is genuinely positive news, but we cannot afford to be complacent,” he said. So, we will see. The virus certainly is continuing to be a threat on many fronts and economic recovery appears to be a greater challenge than once expected -- prospects producers should watch closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 26, 2020 |


USDA OIG Criticizes FSIS In Swine Inspection Rule USDA did not comply with data quality guidelines when writing a controversial rule to overhaul safety inspections at pork slaughterhouses, according to a report from the USDA Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The OIG report detailed several shortfalls in how the department formulated the regulation that allows meatpackers to accelerate their pork processing lines to high speeds that labor advocates have warned are dangerous for plant workers. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) did not fully adhere to requirements for data quality and transparency, and specifically “did not take adequate steps” to determine whether the worker safety analysis in question was reliable. FSIS said that OIG put a “distorted emphasis” on minor errors and omissions in preliminary rulemaking documents.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 26, 2020 |


USDA, FDA Reiterate Stance That Food Not A Transmission Route For COVID-19 USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn issued a joint statement Wednesday on food export restrictions by some countries relative to COVID-19. “The United States understands the concerns of consumers here domestically and around the world who want to know that producers, processors and regulators are taking every necessary precaution to prioritize food safety especially during these challenging times. However, efforts by some countries to restrict global food exports related to COVID-19 transmission are not consistent with the known science of transmission,” the statement said. “There is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging. The U.S. food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export.” The statement does not specify a country, but appears to clearly be a reference to China blocking imports of poultry from a U.S. plant and from some plants in other countries.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 26, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending are due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. Weather forecasts remain a top interest for traders as well as any export news that might emerge. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for portions of the western and northern Midwest along with the Gulf Coastal Bend and southern Delta Friday. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal, with hot conditions noted in dry areas of the southwestern Plains. The general impact is favorable for row crop development and winter wheat harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 25, 2020 |


Senate Ag Committee Passes Grain Standards Reauthorization The Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday passed the United States Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 by a voice vote. The bill extends the authorization for the Federal Grain Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture to continue providing inspection services and to maintain an official marketing standard for certain grains and oilseeds. The bill now heads to the full Senate to consider the five-year reauthorization. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, says, "the entire federal grain inspection system needs the certainty, predictability, and transparency” the reauthorization bill provides. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Committee, says the bill “protects the interests of American farmers and ensures our credibility as a reliable producer of high-quality crops.” Roberts says the bill has wide industry support. The National Association of Wheat Growers voiced its support of the reauthorization, stating, “Our overseas customers value the independent system in place through the Grain Standards Act.” ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Support Carbon Market Bill Farm groups offered their support for a climate bill that would give farmers access to carbon offset markets during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing Wednesday. The Growing Climate Solutions Act would create a certification program at the Department of Agriculture to help solve technical barriers to participation in carbon credit markets for farmers and forest landowners. The bill would also provide the Agriculture Secretary with an advisory council of agriculture experts, scientists, producers, and others, to ensure the certification program works for all participants. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the bill “builds upon American agriculture’s strong foundation of environmental stewardship and innovation.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew suggested several additions to strengthen the bill, including mechanisms to prevent farm-level consolidation, robust funding for public climate research, and protections for farmers from bad actors or faulty market efforts. The National Pork Producers Council says the bill rewards contributions by pork producers and other sectors of agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ************************************************************************************ Federal Agents Seize Almost 10 Tons of Illegal Meat at California Port Officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports it has intercepted 19,500 pounds of prohibited pork, chicken, beef and duck products arriving from China. The products were intercepted at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. According to an official statement, most of the animal products were mixed in boxes of headphones, door locks, kitchenware, LCD tablets, trash bags, swim fins, cell phone covers, plastic cases and household goods. Border protection agriculture specialists identified, examined and seized 12 shipments containing a total of 834 cartons that lacked the required USDA entry documentation. The National Pork Board says that in the first five months of fiscal year 2020, the interception of prohibited meats from China at the LA/Long Beach Seaport has increased 70 percent compared with the same period a year ago. The work by border patrol is critical to maintain secure borders from foreign animal diseases, including African swine fever. ************************************************************************************ Bayer Announces Roundup and Dicamba Litigation Settlements Bayer Wednesday announced a series of agreements that will substantially resolve major outstanding Monsanto litigation. The announcement includes a settlement on U.S. Roundup product liability litigation, dicamba drift litigation and PCB water litigation. According to Bayer, the main feature is the U.S. Roundup resolution that will bring closure to approximately 75 percent of the current Roundup litigation involving approximately 125,000 filed and unfiled claims overall. The company will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve the current Roundup litigation, including an allowance expected to cover unresolved claims, and $1.25 billion to support a separate class agreement to address potential future litigation. Bayer also resolved dicamba drift litigation for payment of up to $400 million and most PCB water litigation exposure for payment of approximately $820 million. Bayer CEO Werner Baumann adds, “As we work to put this major litigation behind us, Bayer can set a course for the future and tackle the global challenges we face in both health and nutrition.” ************************************************************************************ Apple Growers Seek Access to Pandemic Relief Apple producers in the United States seek access to federal aid included in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Washington State U.S. Representative, Republican Dan Newhouse, led an effort in asking the Department of Agriculture to include apple growers in the CFAP. The group of 25 lawmakers in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wrote, “Steep price declines clearly makes apple growers eligible for CFAP payments.” CFAP provides financial assistance to producers who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. The losses must have occurred between mid-January and mid-April because of the COVID-19 pandemic to be eligible for CFAP funds. The lawmakers are demanding USDA reverse its decision based on data from the apple industry, showing that apple price losses ranged from 6.5 percent to as much as 24.9 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to USDA data there are approximately 5,000 commercial apple growers in 32 states. ************************************************************************************ Environmental Working Group Says Farm Nitrate Runoff Increasing The Environmental Working Group says nitrate pollution from crop fields is getting worse in farm country. Wednesday, the group released a new report and interactive map detailing nitrate levels in water supply systems. EWG obtained water testing data under public records laws between 2003 and 2017. The tests detected elevated levels of nitrate in the tap water supplies of more than 4,000 community water systems in the states with the most widespread contamination, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. The data, EWG says, includes tap water supply systems for more than 45 million Americans. Each of the systems was contaminated with nitrate at or above three milligrams per liter, at least once in those 15 years. The Environmental Protection Agency considers three milligrams per liter in groundwater used for drinking water an indication of contamination above naturally occurring levels. The interactive map is available on the Environmental Working Group website, ewg.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 25, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Business Groups to Fight Visa Limits The Hill is reporting this week that business groups are pushing back on the president’s new limits on work visas and are hinting at possible legal action against the recent executive order they see as an attack on legal immigration. The backlash follows President Trump’s Monday executive order that slapped new limits on foreign workers, a “hard line immigration move seen as an appeal to his base as the presidential election draws near,” The Hill says. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which had lobbied the White House against imposing the order, said it “is likely to stifle job gains at a time when the economy needs fewer restrictions, not more.” The Chamber’s CEO, Thomas Donohue told the press that the president’s proclamation is a “severe and sweeping attempt to restrict legal immigration. Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back.” Donohue had called on the president to not impose the visa policies. The Chamber’s top lobbyist, Neil Bradley, also pressed National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner on the issue in a letter last month. The order now could trigger a flurry of lawsuits, something the Chamber and others haven’t ruled out, The Hill said. It says it is “considering all available options” to ensure our immigration system allows employers to meet their workforce needs, Jon Baselice, executive director of immigration at the Chamber, told The Hill. In addition, a National Association of Manufacturers spokesperson told The Hill on Tuesday that litigation isn’t off the table for them either. The executive order suspends the issuance of temporary work visas, including H-1B visas, H-2B visas, H-4 visas, L-1 visas and certain J-1 visas, through the end of 2020. H-2A visas for agriculture are not affected by the order. H-1B visas are set aside for skilled workers, especially in the technology industry, and H-4 visas are given to their spouses. H-2B visas apply to seasonal workers; J-1 visas are for researchers, scholars and au pairs; and L-1 visas are for executives who transfer to the U.S. after working for the same employer abroad. Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter and Uber are among technology companies that have spoken out against the president’s proclamation. In addition to the legal ramifications, experts argue that the president’s order is bad for the economy, especially at a time when it’s trying to climb out of the coronavirus hole. “If you really care about the U.S. economy, U.S. competitiveness and opportunity for U.S. citizens, cutting back on skilled immigration has very much the unintended consequence of being harmful in those domains,” said Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University Fuqua School of Business. Alexander Arnon, a senior analyst at Penn Wharton Budget Model working on immigration issues, said business groups have study after study to back up their opposition to the administration’s action. “The arguments made in the proclamation are not sound and there is a lot of reason to believe this will hurt the economic recovery,” he said. The administration claims the order will help the unemployment rate, which more than tripled after the pandemic took hold. It argues that during “extraordinary circumstances” these visas “pose an unusual threat” to American workers seeking employment. “I understand the instinct to protect American workers, to give them opportunity in light of what is really a terrifying economic crisis,” Boulding said. “Having said that, the evidence is clear that this is not the way to do it. What we know in terms of the economic impact of skilled immigration, skilled immigration is actually job-creating for Americans.” Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a staunch Trump ally, said that suspending the temporary work visas will have a “chilling effect” on the economic recovery. And, the head of the National Association of Manufacturers, Jay Timmons, said in a blunt statement that the president’s action weakens the manufacturing industry, “a sector the president has long courted with his criticism of previous trade agreements.” Like Donohue, Timmons sent a letter to the President earlier this month about how immigrants’ contributions often create opportunities for American workers and strengthen the overall economy. The effect of the order will likely take months to show up in any measurable way in the economy but major companies are already warning of immediate, drastic effects for their workers. The Business Roundtable, which is made up of CEOs from leading U.S. companies with Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon serving as chairman, said its members are worried about the effect of the executive order and “fear that it will disrupt business operations, the lives of our employees and ultimately harm our ability to do our part to rebuild the economy,” the group said in a statement. So, we will see. Access to overseas sources of labor has long been valuable to U.S. firms, so the new order has come as something of a surprise to a number of large operations. However, whether they succeed in softening the administration’s stance is an issue producers should watch closely as the season advances, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 25, 2020 |


Lawmakers Focus On Major Meat Packers, Worker Protections and Exports Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., want information from four major U.S. meat companies on the actions they took to protect workers from COVID-19 and on the level of meat they produced during March-May, their level of exports to China and to other countries, the average increase in wholesale prices, average change in prices paid to producers and whether they increased their imports of livestock from outside the U.S. The letter was sent to Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill and Smithfield Foods. The lawmakers express alarm at exports of U.S. pork, beef and poultry to China and other destinations over the period, stating that exports of beef and pork totaling 1.3 billion pounds from March 20 through early June “actually exceeded the amount of lost production” from issues related to COVID-19. “Indeed, your companies manipulated this crisis to achieve substantial deregulatory measures that placed your workers at even greater risk,” the letter stated. The lawmakers requested the companies provide the information by June 30.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 25, 2020 |


USDA Sent Requests On Apples, Potatoes Relative To CFAP Program A group of House lawmakers and the National Potato Council (NPC) have sent USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue letters calling for apples to be made eligible for payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and for expanded payments to potato producers. The lawmakers argue that apples prices fell from 6.5% to 24.9% over the period covered by CFAP and shipping volumes of the product have declined 24%. “This steep price decline clearly makes apple growers eligible for CFAP payments, based on the USDA’s requirement of a 5 percent-or-greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the lawmakers said. NPC said data shows that potatoes have seen a price decline of 20.51% over the period covered by CFAP, well above the price threshold of a 5% decline in prices set by USDA. NPC calls on USDA to make potatoes eligible for category one payments, to expand the category two payment level from the current four cents per pound and the category three payment level of one cent per pound. Both requests were sent to USDA via letters dated June 22. NPC is also holding their virtual summer meeting today with a focus on the COVID-19 impacts on the industry. USDA has paid out over $4 billion in the program as of June 22.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 25, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday is a busy day for reports. At 7:30 a.m. CDT, USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, May durable goods orders and an estimate of first-quarter U.S. GDP are released along with an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. USDA's Hogs and Pigs report is due out at 2 p.m. CDT, the first inventory estimate since meat plants were closed due to coronavirus concerns. Weather Thursday will be dry with very warm to hot conditions across all primary crop areas. Rain will be confined to light showers on the Gulf Coast and in isolated areas of the Plains. This combination will favor crop growth and wheat harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 24, 2020 |


USDA: Food Box Program Reaches 20 Million Boxes Distributed The Department of Agriculture says the Farmers to Families Food Box program has distributed more than 20 million food boxes to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the announcement Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated, “This milestone is a testament that the program is accomplishing what we intended, supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most.” In April, Secretary Perdue announced the food box effort as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program developed to help farmers, ranchers and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. In under 30 days, the program contracted for $1.2 billion in food products including $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in a variety of dairy products, $258 million in meat products and $175 million in a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products. Distribution of the food boxes across the United States began on May 15, 2020. ************************************************************************************ Judge Rules Glyphosate Doesn’t Require Cancer Warning A federal judge this week sided with an agriculture coalition issuing a permanent injunction against the California warning requirement of Proposition 65 for glyphosate. The ruling removes the cancer warning on glyphosate. The judge in the case says providing misleading or false labels to consumers “undermines California’s interest in accurately informing its citizens of health risks.” Two years ago, the same judge ruled government agencies and health organizations that have reviewed studies on glyphosate have found there was no evidence that it caused cancer. The ruling says it would be "misleading at best” to force parties to state on glyphosate-containing products that the products were "known to the state to cause cancer." The judge says developments since then "do not change the court's conclusion.” Lead plaintiff in the case, the National Association of Wheat Growers, welcomed the injunction. The association stated, “this is a great win for wheat growers and farmers across the United States.” ************************************************************************************ Farm Households Report Off-Farm Jobs offer More Stable Income New data from the Department of Agriculture shows nearly half of all family farmers and their spouses reported having a job off the farm in 2018. USDA’s Economic Research Service reports the majority of households, regardless of farm size, say they work off the farm because it is more lucrative than farm work, provides more reliable income, and may offer health and retirement benefits. Among small family farms, those with annual gross cash farm income under $350,000, about 88 percent reported working off the farm because it was more reliable and 75 percent because it was more lucrative. Among large-scale farm households, those with annual gross cash farm income of $1 million or more, about 72 percent reported working off the farm because it was more reliable and 51 percent because it was more lucrative. About 40 percent of all principal operators or their spouses who work off the farm listed farm-related financial stress as a reason for having a job off the farm. ************************************************************************************ Senate Candidate Calls on EPA’s Wheeler to Resign An Iowa candidate for the U.S. Senate is calling on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to resign. Theresa Greenfield, a Democratic challenger to Republican Senator Joni Ernst, says, “Wheeler must step down immediately.” Greenfield says Iowa farmers “deserve answers for why Senator Ernst voted for a fossil fuel lobbyist to run the EPA in the first place.” Last year, Ernst did suggest she would call for Wheeler’s resignation if his biofuels promises are not fulfilled. Last week, Ernst co-sponsored a bill that would "approve certain advanced biofuel registrations that have languished before the EPA.” Recent polling by the Des Moines Register found 46 percent of likely Iowa voters say they would back Greenfield if the election were held today, and 43 percent say they would support Ernst. Iowa is the top state for biofuels production, with 43 ethanol plants capable of producing over 4.5 billion gallons annually, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. ************************************************************************************ Center for American Progress Pitches Conservation Easement Expansion The Center for American Progress calls on lawmakers to pass broad conservation efforts. The thinktank launched “The Race for Nature” Tuesday, its plan to stem nature loss through conservation easements. The organization says private landowners are going out of their way to protect wildlife habitat, but "the coronavirus-induced economic collapse will likely deal a catastrophic blow to families who make their living off their lands." By definition, conservation easements are voluntary, legal agreements that permanently limit uses of the land to protect its conservation values. The two-phased proposal calls on lawmakers to pass the first phase by September of this year. The first phase of the plan would increase funding for existing conservation easement programs, help landowners gain access to easements more quickly, and pilot new emergency conservation easement programs. The second phase targets the 2023 farm bill, saying lawmakers should codify reforms that further simplify and accelerate the implementation of conservation easement programs. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Launch Free Stress Management Course A group of farm organizations just launched free online training focusing on farm stress. The training course is funded by Farm Credit, with partnership from the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union. The groups say the course will help farmers, their families and neighbors identify and cope with stress. It provides participants the skills to understand the sources of stress, manage their own stress, learn the warning signs of stress and suicide, identify effective communication strategies, and connect farmers and ranchers with appropriate mental health and other resources. The challenges of ongoing low commodity prices, trade wars and extreme weather events have dramatically affected farmers and ranchers for years. Add the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic disruptions and that stress multiplies. The groups say stress among farmers and ranchers is felt throughout farm operations and seeps into cities and towns across the country. Anyone can register for the free online training course. Visit FarmCredit.com to learn more.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 24, 2020 |


Washington Insider: USTR Policy Cure-All, More Tariffs Bloomberg is reporting this week that with COVID-19 cases spiking in nearly a dozen U.S. states, this may seem like a strange time to constrain America’s ability to obtain critical medical supplies and drugs. However, “new tariffs are exactly the strategy that America’s top trade official says is the best way to combat the coronavirus pandemic.” The report cites Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, who says he is a “firm believer that the things we need to fight the pandemic should be made in America,” The U.S. official was addressing members of the House Ways and Means Committee last week. “I’m not in favor of reducing tariffs on the things we need. I would be far more in favor of increasing tariffs on the things we need.” Lighthizer’s comments come at a pivotal moment in the health crisis as fresh outbreaks spark fears that a second wave may cross the globe and force governments into a dilemma where they must consider whether it is better to hoard critical medical supplies while redoubling their ability to produce them domestically, or help expand global access to medical goods so all nations can collectively fight the pandemic. Bloomberg says Lighthizer is in the first camp while the European Union, Canada, Japan, Brazil and nearly a dozen others are in the second, “working to lower trade barriers that harm other nations’ ability to fight the virus.” The emerging alliance, which calls itself the “Ottawa Group,” is discussing an EU-led initiative to eliminate tariffs on pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in order to “help ensure that the world is better prepared to deal with similar future crises." The U.S. administration’s preference for protectionism remains clear, Bloomberg says. In his testimony, Lighthizer flatly rejected the idea of joining the EU’s medical goods deal and blamed the World Trade Organization for hindering America's access to essential medicines,"casting specific ire on a 1994 agreement that eliminated tariffs on pharmaceutical goods.” “Countries got together and said we will all agree to have zero tariffs on a certain list of pharmaceutical products and then we will just give that benefit to the rest of the world, which struck me as really, really crazy,” Lighthizer said. Also, in yet another trade policy action, the administration says it is considering re-imposing tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada. Bloomberg says it expects an announcement by the end of the week. Bloomberg says the U.S. is threatening Canada with new tariffs if it “refuses to impose export restrictions on aluminum.” It expects those to be 10% tariffs on Canadian aluminum, to be implemented by July 1 – just days before the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal enters into force. It follows Lighthizer’s expressions of concern about recent struggles by American aluminum producers as demand evaporated amid the global pandemic. Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee in a hearing last week that recent surges in metal imports from North American neighbors are “of genuine concern to us now,” and that his office was looking at the issue. “I would say there have been surges on steel and aluminum, substantially from Canada, some from Mexico, and it is something that we’re looking at and talking to both Mexico and Canada about,” he told the panel’s top Republican, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Under the May 2019 agreement, which resulted in initial tariffs being lifted, Canada has to limit its retaliation to the U.S. metals sector and cannot hit American agriculture, Lighthizer told Grassley. Ironically, the only three U.S. aluminum producers -- Alcoa Corp., Century Aluminum Co. and Magnitude 7 Metals LLC -- disagree whether tariffs should be re-imposed, Bloomberg said. The American Primary Aluminum Association, which represents Century Aluminum Co. and Magnitude 7 Metals LLC., has asked Lighthizer to reimpose a 10% tariff on imports of Canadian aluminum, saying a rise in metal coming from the country has caused the price to collapse. However, the Aluminum Association of the U.S., which represents Alcoa Corp., Rio Tinto Group and dozens of other aluminum parts makers, argues that imports are virtually unchanged since 2017. Alcoa CFO William Oplinger said at a virtual bank conference in June that China’s overcapacity subsidized by the government is the real problem, and that he supports free trade with “those who trade freely, especially the Canadians.” So, we will see. Clearly, the administration is continuing to rely on “get tough tariff policies” which likely will continue to lead to retaliation from trading partners, as well as higher prices for domestic products. These strategies are continuing to be debated in the U.S. even amid anti-coronavirus strategies and should be watched closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 24, 2020 |


US Meat Industry Mulls China’s Ban On Imports From One Tyson Foods Plant China’s action to bar imports of poultry from the Springdale, Arkansas, Tyson Foods plant continues as a discussion point in the U.S. meat industry, with most agreeing that it will not have a significant impact unless it is expanded. "Hopefully it's not going to mean anything," said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council. "If it remains at just one plant, it will not have any meaningful impact, but we don't know what's going to happen." He also noted that the product is frozen and spends some 30 days in a container traveling to China. “So there is zero possibility of a live virus from the U.S. showing up in frozen poultry as it has been shipped by ocean carrier halfway around the world.” A spokesman for Tyson said their products are safe and hoped the issue can be resolved in talks between the two countries.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 24, 2020 |


Phase One Trade Deal Intact, Says Trump Financial and commodity markets swooned Monday evening after reports of White House trade adviser Peter Navarro saying the phase-one agreement with China was “over.” Navarro made the comments in a Fox News interview that focused heavily on the coming book by John Bolton, with the interviewer throwing a “last question” at Navarro asking him if the deal was over. He responded that “it is,” adding he thought a turning point on the matter came after the COVID-19 news came out almost immediately after the phase-one agreement was signed. As financial and commodity markets reacted, Navarro sought to pull his remarks back. And, President Donald Trump tweeted, “The China Trade Deal is fully intact. Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!” From China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said of Navarro, "He consistently lies and has no honesty and trustworthiness.” As for the phase one agreement, Zhao told reporters at a briefing, "China's stance on the issue has been consistent and clear."

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 24, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts continue to earn the attention of traders as well as any export news that surfaces. The U.S. Energy Department will have its weekly report of energy inventories, including ethanol at 9:30 a.m. CDT. Weather Wednesday features shower and thunderstorm activity in the Delta and Deep South. Other primary crop areas will be dry with seasonally warm temperatures. This combination will favor row crop progress and Southern Plains wheat harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 23, 2020 |


China Suspends Exports from Tyson Foods Plant China Sunday suspended poultry exports from an Arkansas Tyson Food's processing plant where workers tested positive for COVID-19. China’s General Administration of Customs announced the suspension after Tyson Foods confirmed a cluster of COVID-19 cases at its facility in Springdale, Arkansas. A Tyson spokesperson told Reuters the company is investigating the matter, adding, “It is important to note that the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agree that there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food." China also halted exports from a pork processing facility in Germany following an outbreak of COVID-19 at the plant. China has stepped up food inspections for the novel coronavirus in recent weeks. Reuters says Beijing began testing meat, seafood and fresh produce for the coronavirus last week, and some ports were opening all containers of meat to carry out coronavirus tests. ************************************************************************************ New WOTUS Rule Becomes Law The Trump Administration's new and scaled-back Waters of the U.S. rule became law Monday after last-minute attempts to block the rule. A federal judge late last week denied an effort to prevent implementation of the new regulation, called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The challengers claim the new rule removes protection from many U.S. waterways. WOTUS, now NWPR, has been the subject of multiple lawsuits, including some examined by the Supreme Court. In the order denying the motion for temporary relief, the Judge writes, “In the prior cases, the issue was always whether the agencies had gone too far in extending the scope of federal regulation. Now, the question is whether the agencies have not gone far enough.” That judge ultimately sided with the EPA. However, a federal judge in Colorado rejected the Section 404 permit process included in the new rule, which refers to the Corps of Engineers' authority to issue permits for the discharge of dredged or fill material into navigable waters. ************************************************************************************ Court Allows Dicamba use this Season A late Friday court decision confirms farmers may use existing stocks of dicamba herbicides this growing season. The Ninth Circuit appeals court, which vacated the registrations of three dicamba herbicides earlier this month, denied a petition to stop use of the products already purchased by farmers and applicators. The ruling applies to Bayer’s XtendiMax, BASF’s Engenia and Corteva’s FeXapan herbicides. Additionally, during its series of late evening orders on June 19, the Court granted both CropLife America's and a grower coalition's requests to file an amicus brief. The brief supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s order to allow use of the products. That brief highlighted the devastating consequences that would result if the NGO's request were granted and growers could not use existing stocks. The request counters EPA guidance that allows existing stocks use when registrations are vacated, in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The American Soybean Association says, “American growers and the public are fortunate that a proper administrative and judicial-review framework exists.” ************************************************************************************ Senate Ag Committee Urges USDA to Extend WIC Flexibilities The Senate Agriculture Committee Monday sent a request to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to extend existing flexibilities for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Senators seek the extension through September 30, 2020, as authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In a letter to Secretary Perdue, the Senators wrote the extension would “provide certainty and availability to WIC participants, providers and vendors navigating variable phased re-opening procedures across public, private, and health sectors.” WIC program flexibilities granted by the Department of Agriculture for the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, through state agencies, have helped eligible pregnant women, mothers, and their infants and young children to access and use food benefits while navigating social-distancing protocols. The Senators say month to month extensions, as followed currently, are challenging for states to plan effectively and increase administrative burden. The bipartisan letter was signed by several members of the Senate Agriculture Committee. ************************************************************************************ Missouri Farm Bureau Survey Finds Broad COVID-19 Impacts A Missouri Farm Bureau survey brings to life many of the hidden effects of COVID-19 on farmers and rural communities. While the on-farm impacts have been dramatic, the personal effects are even more painful to read, according to Missouri Farm Bureau. Farmers in the survey report: “I have not seen my first grandchild yet.” “My daughter didn’t get to get married like she planned.” “I’m lonely and miss my friends.” Many respondents expressed feelings of isolation, loneliness and even depression. Inability to attend church and fellowship with friends has had a big impact on rural life. Although there were many differing opinions, over 63 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they take COVID-19 seriously. The agricultural effects have been severe as well. Nearly one-quarter of livestock farmers surveyed have had a meat processor reduce the normal schedule of animals they deliver for processing. The same percentage have had to locate an alternate processing facility for animals. The survey was completed by 377 people in Missouri. ************************************************************************************ Virginia Attorneys Plead Guilty in RoundUp Extortion Scheme Two Virginia attorneys pled guilty last week for a scheme to extort Monsanto out of $200 million last year. Timothy Litzenburg and Daniel Kincheloe each pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort. The U.S. Department of Justice says the two admitted they approached Monsanto and threatened to make public statements alleging the company had significant civil liability for manufacturing a purportedly harmful chemical used in RoundUp. They proposed reaching a “consulting agreement" with the company for $200 million, which would bar the attorneys from representing their clients as plaintiffs in litigation against Monsanto, which is now Bayer Crop Science. The fees were proposed to help their clients. However, the pair planned to split the funds among themselves and their associates. The attorneys threatened that if Monsanto did not accept their consulting plan, “they and others would commence litigation that would become an ongoing exponentially growing problem” for the company, according to the Justice Department. The pair will be sentenced in September.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 23, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Pace of Virus Testing Criticized While there is modest agreement that more virus testing is essential to control the pandemic, the Washington Post says the administration has yet to “distribute nearly one-third of the funds provided by Congress for testing and contact tracing.” The report cites Senate Democratic leadership as the source of the information. The Department of Health and Human Services has neither spent nor detailed how it plans to spend $8 billion out of a $25 billion pot to be used for stemming the virus’s spread through diagnostic and antibody testing and contact tracing, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., told the Post. The funds were provided as part of the fourth pandemic relief bill passed by Congress at the end of April. “While it has been months since these funds were appropriated, the administration has failed to disburse significant amounts of these funds, leaving communities without the resources they need to address the significant challenges presented by the virus,” according to a letter the pair wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar last week. HHS responded that it has distributed $14 billion of the $25 billion authorized, mostly to states and localities, as directed in the legislative text. An agency spokeswoman noted that Congress “largely didn’t provide specific directions for where the rest of the money should go,” Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs, said. Congress has failed to give the agency “clear direction in law” for how to spend the money. “Now members [of Congress] are contacting HHS with their individual priorities and complaining the dollars are not spent to their wishes,” Caputo said. “Regardless, HHS is committed to working with Congress to ensure the healthcare delivery system gets the support needed at this time.” The U.S. has now conducted more than 26 million coronavirus tests, equivalent to about 8% of the nation’s population. The administration has largely met testing goals Azar laid out in May, after an initial slow response that won it heavy criticism. Still, the ramped-up testing now reveals a troubling reality, the Post says: Coronavirus cases are on the rise in many states, as lockdowns ease and Americans start mingling more. While part of the rise may be due to increased testing capturing more cases, that doesn’t fully explain the spikes, experts say. President Trump appeared to mock the situation at his campaign rally in Tulsa Saturday night, calling widespread testing a “double-edged sword.” “Here’s the bad part,” Trump said. “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please!’” A White House official quickly downplayed the remarks as “joking,” and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN Sunday the comment was intended as a “light moment,” and was “tongue-in-cheek.” But the U.S. did lag behind other countries in ramping up testing for COVID-19, the Post said. The tests are now more widely available, but are not necessarily being used by everyone who might need them. In addition, the U.S. was beset by “denial and dysfunction” as the coronavirus raged, the Post said. Of the $25 billion Congress designated for the testing and contact tracing effort, $11 billion was for states and localities to help develop, purchase and process COVID-19 tests and carrying out contact tracing -- a procedure in which people who may have had contact with an infected person are asked to self-isolate for a period of time. Smaller amounts are earmarked for sub-agencies and offices within HHS, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. However, the Democratic senators said that about one-third of the money provided by Congress has yet to be disbursed by HHS, or even designated for anything specific. Schumer and Murray, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that handles HHS spending, wrote they’re concerned about the agency’s lack of speed as the country grapples with the virus. They urged that the testing funds “should be disbursed immediately with emphasis on addressing two major unmet needs: contact tracing and collecting data on COVID-19 racial and ethnic disparities.” They’re also concerned about the pace at which HHS is awarding another $2 billion to help cover testing costs for uninsured Americans. “This administration will put our country at grave risk if it tries to declare an early victory, leave lifesaving work undone, and leave resources our communities desperately need sitting untouched,” the letter says. So, the basic disagreement over how the nation should respond to the pandemic continues, especially as the virus continues to spread. This is a debate producers should watch closely as it intensifies especially if the disagreement continues to deepen as now appears likely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 23, 2020 |


Trump Administration WOTUS Rule Survives One Initial Court Test The Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule put forth by the Trump administration to replace the Obama-era version will go into effect today after a federal judge in San Francisco denied a motion to block implementation of the plan. More than 12 states sought to suspend implementation of the rule. This decision has some expecting that other court challenges of the plan may not be successful. However, a federal court in Colorado granted the state’s request to freeze implementation of the rule., The court ruled the state was likely to succeed in challenging the administration’s version of the rule. To put the rule into effect in Colorado, only to have it struck down, “would likely create unnecessary confusion among the regulated community about what standard really applies,” the judge wrote.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 23, 2020 |


China Halts Imports From Tyson Plant As Workers Test Positive For COVID-19 China suspended poultry imports from a Tyson Foods plant in Arkansas where hundreds of employees tested positive for COVID-19. The suspension issued Sunday covered products that have arrived in China or are about to arrive there, according to China’s General Administration of Customs, but there was no indication given on the number of shipments or tonnage potentially involved. Tyson Foods said it was looking into the situation. U.S. officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have insisted there is no sign that food is a transmission method for COVID-19. Tyson on Friday said it had tested 3,748 of its employees at seven of its Arkansas facilities from June 4-13 and 481 tested positive for COVID-19. About 95% showed no signs of infection when they were tested. China has stepped up testing of imported products and has asked firms exporting products to the country to declare their products do not contain COVID-19 in the wake of an outbreak at a major wholesale market in China.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 23, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday morning grain markets are trying to shake off Monday evening confusion about the status of the trade deal with China. President Donald Trump tweeted the agreement is "fully intact." The latest weather forecasts continue to captivate trader attention with any export news a close second. Early Tuesday, trade will likely respond to Monday afternoon's Crop Progress report. The only official report of the day is new home sales in May, set for 9 a.m. CDT. Weather Tuesday features light to locally moderate showers in the eastern Midwest and the Southeast, offering some easing of recent drier conditions. Meanwhile, moderate to heavy rain will occur in portions of the far Southern Plains with some flood and severe weather threat. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonally warm in most areas, favorable for crops and livestock.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 22, 2020 |


Farmers Still Battling Hog Backlogs The backlog of hogs in states hit hardest by the meatpacking industry crisis is just now easing up somewhat. Hundreds of thousands of hogs were killed by producers who had nowhere to send the animals for processing. While that number is short of the initial slaughter estimates of millions of hogs, the pork industry still needs financial assistance to cover the cost of euthanizing animals as well as for the price losses from COVID-19. They’re also asking for help getting mental health resources for farmers who were understandably disturbed by having to kill their animals for disposal. “The drain on equity and the financial and emotional crisis that farmers are facing is not resolved,” says Dave Preisler (PRICE-lehr), CEO of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association. Producers have gone to great lengths to reduce the backlog and avoid on-farm slaughter. Some have been shipping hogs to processors out of state or selling directly to individuals looking to stockpile meat. Others have started contracting with smaller processors, who’ve seen an unprecedented rise in their business. Still, Politico says those measures haven’t fully solved the large pileup of excess hogs. ********************************************************************************************** EPA: 52 “Gap Year” SRE Petitions Filed The Environmental Protection Agency released an updated list of small refinery exemptions that shows smaller refiners have filed 52 “gap year” SRE petitions. Those petitions cover Renewable Fuels Standard Compliance from 2011 through 2018. Biomass Magazine says the filing is to circumvent a recent ruling from the Tenth Circuit Court that struck down three SREs approved by the EPA. The ruling also determined that the agency cannot extend exemptions to any small refinery whose earlier temporary exemptions had lapsed. A challenge to the court’s decision was rejected in early April. If the ruling is eventually applied nationally, it will limit eligibility for future SRE petitions to a handful of the nation’s small refiners. However, reports recently began to surface that several small refiners were filing “gap-year” SRE petitions to maintain eligibility for future SREs. The gap-year petitions are designed to provide impacted refineries with a continuous chain of SRE approvals, allowing the affected refineries to continue to be eligible for SREs in the future. Several biofuel groups have strongly condemned the gap-year filings as an effort to get around the Tenth Circuit Court ruling. ********************************************************************************************** Renewable Fuel Groups React to 52 “Gap-Year” SRE Petitions Two of the nation’s key renewable fuel groups reacted to the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that 52 new small refinery exemption petitions have been filed. The National Biodiesel Board is asking EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to immediately reject the petitions that cover compliance years from 2011-2018. Kurt Kovarik is the NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. He says, “EPA’s consideration of small refinery exemption petitions going back to 2011 flies in the face of the recent 10th Circuit Court decision. By rolling the clock back, there appears to be no length the EPA won’t go to help refiners undermine the Renewable Fuels Standard.” Kovarik says the handouts would come at the expense of ethanol and biodiesel. Growth Energy says the “gap filings” are designed to reconstitute a continuous string of exemptions to circumvent court limits on new oil industry handouts. “This absurd maneuver is a blatant attempt to dodge the law at the expense of rural communities,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “EPA’s dashboard confirms that the refiners hope to rewrite years of history just to bypass the 10th Circuit Court and push more biofuels out of the marketplace.” ********************************************************************************************** CoBank: Ethanol Industry Needs to Transform Itself A new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange says the ethanol industry may have to diversify itself in the future. The report says excess production capacity and reduced demand will force the U.S. ethanol industry to “transform its business model to create more value and improve its operational efficiency.” CoBank predicts that consolidation within the industry will lead to larger and more financially stable companies with diversified ethanol co-product offerings by 2025. “While ethanol remains an attractive business with long-term potential, the industry will need to evolve and diversify beyond fuel ethanol,” says Kenneth Zuckerberg, CoBank lead grain and farm supply economist. “That diversity will need to include higher-margin co-products like high protein distillers’ grains for animal feed, liquid carbon dioxide for refrigeration, beverage grade alcohol, and other industrial products. COVID-19 led to businesses shutting down and people staying at home, causing significant ethanol demand destruction. The industry had one billion gallons of excess capacity at the start of 2020, with that number projected to rise to 3.9 billion at the end of this year before it settles to 2.4 billion at the end of 2021. Strong export growth would help reduce the excess, but current projections don’t support such an outcome. ********************************************************************************************** Dairy Safety Net Signup Begins October 12 for 2021 Coverage The USDA’s Farm Service Agency says safety-net signup for 2021 Dairy Margin Coverage begins on October 12th and runs through December 11th of this year. DMC has already triggered payments for two months for those producers who signed up for 2020 coverage. “If we’ve learned anything in the past six months, it’s to expect the unexpected,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “Nobody would have imagined the significant impact that current, unforeseen circumstances have had on an already fragile dairy market.” Fordyce says it’s during unprecedented times like these that the importance of offering agricultural producers support through the delivery of farm bill safety-net programs like DMC becomes readily apparent. As of June 15th, FSA has issued more than $100 million in much-needed program benefits to dairy producers who purchased DMC coverage for 2020. The DMC offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. More than 13,000 operations enrolled in the program for the 2020 calendar year. ********************************************************************************************** Americans Support COVID-19 Aid for Farmers Trust in America’s farmers and ranchers remains high amid the devastating blow delivered this year by COVID-19. A new poll conducted by the American Farm Bureau shows that 84 percent of Americans trust the nation’s farmers. That same number also supports financial assistance from the government for farmers struggling to keep from going under because of the pandemic. “The results of the survey indicate a growing understanding of how important a stable food supply is to the health and well-being of our nation,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “Shortages at grocery stores and other food supply chain shockwaves caused by the pandemic gave many people a new understanding of the crucial role America’s farmers and ranchers play in their survival through COVID-19.” Duvall says it’s “heartening” to know that through it all, the American people’s trust in farmers is unwavering. Even more broadly, 59 percent of Americans also think that the federal government should classify U.S. agriculture as a matter of national security to ensure a stable food supply. USDA estimates suggest the decline in commodity value alone for 2019, 2020, and 2021 production totals almost $50 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 22, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Problems With US Trade Policy The Hill this week is carrying an article by Robert Scott, who is a senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute. He notes that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer once again reported to Congress that “the era of U.S. offshoring is over.” This is essentially the same message President Trump’s new "American Comeback" campaign ads carry, the article said. Scott charges that the Trump administration often touts returning trends in industries and jobs. In actuality, its policies are “actually failing to curb most of this offshoring.” They simply haven’t addressed the root causes of America’s growing trade deficits,” he said. The article pointed to “the reality” in which COVID-19 has wiped out much of the job gains seen in recent years. And, he warns that unless steps are taken now to curb dollar overvaluation, which makes imports artificially cheap in the U.S. market, along with tax incentives for offshoring, there won’t be a comeback. Scott also says that the administration has ignored the linkage between its policies and the rising trade deficit as it continues its “rosy pronouncements.” In his testimony last week, Lighthizer praised several companies that have scrapped offshoring efforts or have “announced” plans to move production to the U.S. And he praised both the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which takes effect July 1, and the current "phase one” China trade deal. Scott argues that increased domestic purchasing spurred by tax cuts and an expanded federal budget pushed average employment per manufacturing plant up between 2016 and 2019 -- but that offshoring continued throughout. Overall, the U.S. has lost more than 91,000 manufacturing plants and nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs since 1997 -- including nearly 1,800 factories that disappeared under the current administration between 2016 and 2018, Scott says. And, he thinks that any recent manufacturing gains were abruptly wiped out by the COVID-19 lockdown -- with a staggering 1.2 million manufacturing jobs lost this year. But U.S. manufacturing was struggling even before COVID-19, Scott says. Starting in 2014, the U.S. dollar has appreciated in fits and starts, climbing nearly 28 percent. “More than half of that rise has come since the administration’s tariffs were first imposed in March 2018.” Equally problematic, the 2017 Trump tax cuts on corporate profits incentivized offshoring for certain types of production while also raising after-tax profits, he says. This has attracted foreign capital to U.S. stock markets, spurring the dollar even higher. If the administration’s trade policy really encouraged “reshoring,” America’s trade balance would have improved. But the U.S. trade deficit in manufactured goods rose significantly between 2016 and 2019. “In fact, the real U.S. trade deficit has increased every year since 2016, reducing GDP growth by roughly one-quarter of one percent annually over the past three years,” Scott says. As for the USMCA, it is unlikely to resolve longstanding U.S.-Mexico trade issues, Scott charges. And, the “Phase One” China trade deal is a bust, too, Scott charges. China promised to increase purchases of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over 2017 imports but is unlikely to meet these targets. Beijing has also strategically adjusted to the Trump tariffs. China is simply exporting more goods elsewhere, and the U.S. trade deficit with China’s trading partners rose rapidly in 2019. In fact, China’s overall trade surplus with the world climbed significantly in 2019. China also reduced the value of its currency by 11.4% against the U.S. dollar since March 2018, helping to offset the tariffs. The tariffs are a signature element of the administration trade agenda, and have helped sectors like steel and aluminum. But “increasing tariffs without taking steps to prevent the dollar’s appreciation, the overall benefits are simply neutralized,” Scott says. These problems have been compounded by mistakes on tax policy, Scott thinks. U.S. multinationals continually engage in massive, international tax avoidance, with some paying no income tax. The pharmaceuticals industry has reaped major rewards, and moved plants to countries with the lowest possible corporate tax rate. As a result, the U.S. now has a massive trade deficit in pharmaceuticals. The U.S. trade deficit is likely to shrink during COVID-19. But unless steps are taken to address dollar overvaluation and tax incentives for offshoring, these deficits will simply reemerge when recovery occurs. Washington must embark on major investments in infrastructure, R&D, training, renewable energy and other industrial policies. In 2016, President Donald Trump campaigned against globalization and failed trade deals that have hurt U.S. manufacturing. That strategy worked, Scott says, but the administration has since failed to deliver for working Americans. “Now the wheels are coming off,” Scott says and it is time for a meaningful rewrite of failed U.S. trade and economic policies. So, we will see. It is true that trade policy pressures abound, but also seems likely that since the administration and the Congress are tightly focused on alleviating impact of the virus concerns about trade deficits are unlikely to command new priorities. However, these are high stakes debates that should be watched closely as the election season advances, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 22, 2020 |


EPA Now Shows 52 New Petitions Pending For Small Refinery Exemptions From RFS EPA’s dashboard showing the number of small refinery exemption (SRE) requests increased by 52 as of June 18, with those new requests for compliance years 2011 through 2018. The updated data now provides a level of petitions filed for prior compliance years under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in what ethanol backers say is an attempt by refiners to become eligible for SREs ahead based on the 10th Circuit Court ruling that determined for the a refiner to be eligible for SREs they had to be extensions of prior requests. “Petition counts include submissions from small refineries that are seeking reconsideration of petitions that were previously denied,” EPA said. “Accordingly, the count for any compliance year may include petitions from the same small refinery being represented as both a denial and still pending.” There also are 27 requests pending for the 2019 compliance year and one for the 2020 compliance year.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 22, 2020 |


China’s Purchases of US Ag Products Expected to Rise Shortly China plans to accelerate purchases of U.S. farm goods to comply with the Phase One trade deal with the U.S. following talks this week between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Chinese counterpart. “During my meeting with CCP Politburo Member Yang Jiechi, he recommitted to completing and honoring all of the obligations of Phase One of the trade deal between our two countries,” Pompeo said in a tweet Thursday. China intends to step up buying of everything from soybeans to corn and ethanol after purchases fell behind due to COVID-19 disruptions, said two people familiar with the matter cited by Bloomberg. This would confirm the expectation cited by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in congressional testimony that he expected China to live up to their commitments in the Phase One deal and that their purchases of U.S. ag products – and other goods – would be rising soon. Bloomberg reported that through the first four months of 2020, China purchases of U.S. ag goods were at $4.65 billion, well shy of the total of $36.5 billion in U.S. ag products China committed to purchase in 2020. Another source cited in the Bloomberg report indicated that Chinese state buyers were being urged to make all efforts possible to meet the Phase One agreement terms. U.S. officials and trade sources have continued to maintain they fully expect the purchase commitments by China to be met and they also have reminded that China has also taken many actions on other trade issues that were covered in the Phase One agreement.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 22, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Now summer has officially begun, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and any new export sale announcements. A report on U.S. existing home sales is due out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. USDA's monthly cold storage report is released at 2 p.m. CDT and the Crop Progress report is at 3 p.m. Updated crop ratings and winter wheat harvest progress will get most of the report's attention. Weather Showers and thunderstorms will cross the Midwest, portions of the Plains and Delta Monday, with mostly favorable moisture for developing crops. Temperatures will be seasonally mild in most areas; however, the far southwestern Plains will see some extreme heat.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 19, 2020 |


Lighthizer Testifies on China Trade Deal, Criticizes WTO U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had a lot to say about the president’s economic agreement with China during testimony in Washington on Wednesday. He says Beijing is buying more American products and that the Asian nation would live up to the terms of the Phase One agreement. Lighthizer says his office is closely tracking the number of goods China is purchasing from the U.S. and is in frequent contact with Chinese officials. The New York Times says even though China has committed to purchasing $200 billion in goods by the end of next year, many analysts say that’s not realistic given the impacts of COVID-19 around the world. “Every indication is that despite COVID-19, China is going to do what it says it will do,” Lighthizer said during testimony. He pointed out the administration’s new or revised trade deals with Japan, Canada, and Mexico have improved terms for American businesses and farmers. However, he was more guarded on a possible deal with the European Union happening soon, accusing the EU of thinly-veiled protectionism. Lighthizer also renewed the administration’s fight with the World Trade Organization, saying the WTO needs “radical reform.” ********************************************************************************************** Organic Farmers say USDA “Let Down” Organic Dairies The Organic Farmers Association is asking members of Congress to ensure that USDA’s National Organic Program complies with the law and finalizes the Origin of Livestock rule as quickly as possible. A recent deadline for the National Organic Program to finalize the long-awaited Origin of Livestock rule has passed by. The Association says the rule is necessary to close a loophole in organic dairy standards that has supported rapid growth in larger organic dairies and consequently put family organic dairy farmers out of business across the country. As many as 70 organic farm organizations from around the nation sent a letter to members of Congress, including the House and Senate Ag Committees, asking them to pressure the USDA to make sure the NOP complies with a congressional mandate and finalizes the origin of organic livestock rule as soon as possible. “The organic community is united in the immediate need for this rule,” says Kate Mendenhall, Director of the Organic Farmers Association. “We are disappointed this long-awaited deadline passed without any action from the NOP.” The groups that signed onto the letter agree that continued delays in implementing the rule will prolong the dire economic consequences facing organic dairy farmers, as well as jeopardize consumer trust in the organic label. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Dairy Calls for An End to EU Dairy Dumping into International Markets An economic analysis published this week shows the serious impact of the European Union’s Skim Milk Powder Intervention Program on U.S. dairy. The program hit U.S. farm-gate milk prices especially hard during 2016-2019. The report says the U.S. was economically harmed in three ways. First, the EU program depressed the global price of skim milk powder, lowering U.S. milk prices, and contributing to a $2.2 billion loss in 2018 and 2019. The program also inflated the EU market share, resulting in a drastically smaller export market share for U.S. dairy exporters, which led to export losses totaling $168 million in 2018-2019. Finally, the analysis says when the EU unleashed its stockpile of skim milk powder into the global marketplace, the disposal affected U.S. competitiveness in historically important export markets like Southeast Asia. The International Dairy Foods Association, the National Milk Producers Federation, and the U.S. Dairy Export Council sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, pointing to the analysis as proof the EU’s SMP Intervention Program has wreaked havoc on the U.S. dairy industry. They’re asking the government to help prevent the EU from using future intervention practices to dispose of dairy products into the global market at discounted prices. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Progress Show is a Go The nation’s largest outdoor farm event is on in 2020. The Farm Progress Show is officially a go near Boone, Iowa, despite COVID-19. In making the announcement, organizers say the show is an essential business event that provides farmers with much-needed information and tools. “We know that the market is dealing with a lot of issues,” says Matt Jungmann, the event manager. “However, agriculture is a critical business for this country, and farmers are looking for ways to get better at what they do.” The Des Moines Register says the show attracts thousands of Iowa and U.S. farmers, as well as dozens of agricultural companies. The show is scheduled for September 1-3 and has drawn people from as many as 45 countries in previous years. Organizers say they will take safety precautions, including providing additional space to allow for social distancing, numerous hand sanitizing stations, and enhancing efforts to clean buildings. “Farmers are struggling with low corn, soybean, and other commodity prices, and they need more information and tools to boost profitability than ever before,” show officials said in their statement on Wednesday. The World Pork Expo and the Iowa State Fair were both canceled this year because of COVID-19. ********************************************************************************************** Growth Energy Applauds Streamlining Biofuels Approval Process Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor is pleased with legislation designed to reduce Environmental Protection Agency delays in approving applications to produce advanced biofuels under the Renewable Fuels Standard. “We applaud the bipartisan legislation designed to break the regulatory logjam holding back cellulosic biofuels,” she says. “Studies show that advanced biofuels can cut carbon emissions by 100 percent or more while providing a low-cost alternative to the petroleum-based aromatics that poison our air and threaten our health.” Growth Energy says major investments in low-carbon biofuels have been held hostage by regulatory delays, even as farmers and biofuel producers work together to harness clean energy from agricultural residue. “By keeping regulatory pathways blocked, EPA has put an artificial cap on advanced biofuels, limiting their growth under the RFS,” Skor says. “This important legislation will help clear the deck on long-overdue approvals and jumpstart growth at a time when revitalizing rural communities has never been more important.” The bill would set a 90-day deadline for EPA to act on petitions that have been pending for more than six months. It would also fast-track approval for advanced biofuels that have already been certified under state-based, low-carbon fuel programs. ********************************************************************************************** ASA Hires First-Ever Staff Economist The American Soybean Association hired Scott Gerlt (GER-ult), who is the first person to take on the role of staff economist with the organization. Gerlt lives in Missouri and will work out of the St. Louis office. He’s highly regarded within agricultural economic circles, thanks to his policy work with the Food and Agricultural Research Institute, where he has more than 10 years of experience. Some of that experience includes working with policymakers to develop the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills. Gerlt grew up on a diversified farm with both row crops and livestock in Missouri. In the new role, he’ll provide insight on relevant agricultural economics and analysis of current and future ASA policy. ASA CEO Ryan Findlay says, “Having an economist on staff will enrich our internal discussions on issues and strengthen our public arguments for why policymakers need to take action on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers. It’s exciting for ASA to find someone with both his policy experience and enthusiasm for working directly with farmers.” The organization says Gerlt will provide a lot of clarity on what ASA is requesting from policymakers during lobbying and how it will affect U.S. soybean farmers and their communities.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 19, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Trade Fight Over Taxes on Digital Commerce Bloomberg says this week that the U.S. has decided to withdraw from international efforts to harmonize global tax rules for digital companies and that the decision “risks triggering a new trade war.” The move came after the U.S. and an international group failed to agree on the best way to increase tax revenue from digital companies such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. These companies have long been targets for cash-strapped governments who are interested in tapping their deep pockets. The U.S. says digital taxes unfairly discriminate against American firms and has threatened retaliatory tariffs if they try. Such a move “could exacerbate the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression,” Bloomberg says. In July 2019, France became the first country to impose a digital tax on U.S. firms after wider efforts by the European Union to develop a harmonized approach failed. The French 3% levy was applied to companies with at least 750 million euros in global revenue and digital sales of 25 million euros in France. Of about 30 businesses affected, most are American, but the list also includes Chinese, German, British and even French firms. The U.S. and France “came close to triggering a transatlantic trade war” in January as the EU said it could retaliate if the U.S. went ahead with planned tariffs on roughly $2.4 billion in signature French products, including wine, cheese, handbags and makeup. The two countries agreed on a truce whereby the U.S. would back off from tariffs and France would delay collection of its digital tax to the end of 2020 to allow for renewed efforts to reach a multilateral solution. Since then, the U.S. has launched investigations into the digital taxes proposed or enacted by 10 nations and the EU, citing Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, which allows it to retaliate for trade practices it deems unfair – the same tool used to justify U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods due to alleged theft of intellectual property. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says countries that have either adopted or are considering digital taxes include Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK. Now, governments are increasingly focusing on digital taxes as a way to raise funds to help pandemic-stricken economies. Stay-at-home policies have played to the strengths of companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc., along with other platforms that compose the nearly $26 trillion global e-commerce marketplace. France has said it would drop its tax if the U.S. and other countries agree to a global effort for a uniform approach under the stewardship of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). However, this month U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the EU that the U.S. will no longer participate in the OECD’s digital tax talks after they failed to reach agreement on the best way to tax revenues of U.S. technology companies. The U.S. move is opposed by its trading partners. For example, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the U.S. withdrawal from the international talks “a provocation” and indicated his country will impose a version of the levy this year. “Whatever happens, we will apply a tax on digital giants in 2020 because it is a question of justice,” Le Maire said. Lighthizer told lawmakers June 17 that the U.S. would respond to any “unilateral” digital services taxes with retaliatory tariffs” but left room for the possibility of a deal. He called for an “international regime” that not only focuses firm size one based on a general agreement about how we’re going to tax people internationally, he said. “So I think there is clearly room for a negotiated settlement.” Bloomberg notes that transatlantic tax wars aren’t new and that Apple Inc. was slapped with a 13 billion-euro bill for back taxes by the European Commission three years ago. The U.S. Treasury Department tried and failed to sway the EU’s investigation which alleged that the company got an illegal subsidy. The Commission has also probed Google’s Irish tax arrangements and ordered Amazon to pay 250 million euros in back taxes to Luxembourg. Other U.S. companies, including non-technology firms such as Starbucks Corp. and Nike Inc., have also been targeted. The EU insists that the common thread isn’t that they’re American but that they’ve used complex legal structures and intellectual-property licensing to limit tax payments. Bloomberg also notes that taxes are only part of a bigger EU backlash against big tech. Internet firms have been put on notice over issues ranging from privacy to market dominance – and they’re fighting back with lobbying and court cases. In 2019, Google agreed to pay 965 million euros to settle two French tax probes. Apple and Amazon are contesting their respective European tax decisions in EU courts – and a legal victory could halt that part of the bloc’s crusade. Lawmakers are on the lookout for companies that might consider changing their tax structures or moving income outside of the EU to stay ahead of the curve. So, we will see. Business interests are worried that new international fights will weaken efforts to offset impacts of the coronavirus — and that is certainly a valid concern. The “international digital tax” effort is yet another threat that could trigger pushbacks of many kinds. It should be watched closely as new and more threatening policy fights are debated, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 19, 2020 |


Senate Ag Panel Sets Markup On Grain Standards Reauthorization, Hearing On Carbon Capture Bill The Senate Ag Committee has set a business meeting June 24 to markup the United States Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020, one of the few pieces of ag-related legislation that are expected to be acted on this year. The panel held a hearing on the issue last year and it will be interesting to see if changes suggested at that session have been incorporated into the legislation the panel will markup next week. The measure was last reauthorized in 2015. The panel will then shift to a hearing on the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020 (S 3894). American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, National Farmers Union President Rob Larew, Land O’Lakes official Jason Weller and Indiana farmer Brent Bible – also listed as an adviser to the Environmental Defense Fund – are scheduled to testify.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 19, 2020 |


USTR Lighthizer Fully Expects China to Meet Phase One Commitments U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spent hours on the Hill Wednesday, testifying on the trade agenda to panels in both the House and Senate. But his message on the China Phase One agreement was unchanged – China will live up to terms of the deal. He reiterated several times that he expects China will live up to terms of the deal. Lighthizer said that in “every contact I've had with the Chinese they have reaffirmed their commitment to living up to the agreement.” He also again related the view that China’s buys of soybeans will be backloaded this year. But he also expressed disappointment that some think the deal is “just soybean sales contract when it really has a lot of very, very serious parts to it.” As we have repeatedly emphasized, Lighthizer made sure to note the key changes that China has agreed to as part of the deal and the fact that it is an “an enforceable agreement.” China has bought around $1 billion in U.S. cotton which puts them ahead of where they were in 2017, the base year that was used as the starting point for China’s purchase commitments. Lighthizer said the China commitment on cotton is “substantially north” of that $1 billion mark, but he did not say what that level is. Recall the specific purchase commitments were part of a confidential part of the accord that neither side has made public. Current purchases stand at around $10 billion, Lighthizer noted. Lighthizer made clear that China purchases so far are still behind the levels needed to meet the commitments, particularly on energy. However, he predicted that China would “soon” be making sizable purchases of U.S. ethanol. After all of that testimony Wednesday, President Donald Trump seemed to undercut Lighthizer on Thursday with a tweet. "It was not Ambassador Lighthizer’s fault (yesterday in Committee) in that perhaps I didn’t make myself clear, but the U.S. certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China. Thank you!"

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 19, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's June 1 cattle on-feed report is the only official report on Friday's docket, but traders have plenty of other interests, including U.S. and international weather, trade news and the latest information on the battle against coronavirus. Weather Wet weather is expected through the central and Southern Plains Friday, causing delays in the ongoing winter wheat harvest. Showers will extend northeast through the western Midwest and scattered showers will continue from Ohio through the Mid-Atlantic. Other primary crop areas will be dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 18, 2020 |


Grower Coalition Seeks to Protect use of Dicamba Stocks Farm groups urge the Ninth Circuit appeals court to reject an NGO call to invalidate the Environmental Protection Agency’s dicamba existing stocks order. The EPA recently defended its decision to allow farmers to continue to use existing stocks of three dicamba herbicides. The court vacated the registrations for XtendiMax, FeXapan and Engenia earlier this month. The groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and commodity organizations, have filed an amicus brief supporting EPA’s position. The groups say, “Neither a midseason cancellation nor a vacatur unplants a seed, retroactively tills a field, or clears a storehouse of products purchased for lawful use under the prior registration.” The coalition says immediately banning use of existing stocks of would financially devastate America’s soybean and cotton growers, who have invested an estimated $4.28 billion in seed and hundreds of millions on herbicides. The coalition says an estimated 64 million acres of dicamba-tolerant seed is already in the ground. Without dicamba, the groups say expected yield loss for soy and cotton could reach 50 percent. ************************************************************************************ Senate Passes Great American Outdoors Act The U.S. Senate Wednesday passed the Great American Outdoor Act, sending the bill to the House of Representatives. The bill establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to support deferred maintenance projects on federal lands. The bill provides $900 million annually for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and $9.5 billion over the next five years in national park and other public land maintenance. However, livestock and public lands groups argue the bill is a “disappointment to those who value conservation and active management of our natural resources.” Public Lands Council Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover says by making funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund mandatory, “proponents of this bill sentenced existing and future lands and waters to the same fate facing current federal assets – billions of dollars in deferred maintenances.” The Public Lands Council actively represents cattle and sheep producers who hold public lands grazing permits. President Donald Trump indicated he would sign the bill, if passed by both the House and Senate. ************************************************************************************ Coalition Calls on Trump to Ensure China Meets Trade Obligations A broad coalition representing agriculture is asking President Donald Trump to preserve the Phase One trade agreement with China by holding China accountable for commodity purchases. The letter, sent this week, was signed by 192 groups representing all parts of the food value chain and rural economies. The groups seek continued implementation of the U.S. China Phase One Trade Agreement due to the significance of China’s market for U.S. food and agricultural exports. The letter says the world grain and oilseed market is experiencing the greatest oversupply of production since the 1980s, and the United States is facing increasing competition from foreign sources. The organizations say the trade agreement “will act as foundation for prosperity of the U.S. agriculture sector.” The letter concludes, “You have our full support and appreciation as you and your outstanding trade team work to ensure that China meets its commitments under Phase One now and into the future.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends Farmers to Families Food Box Program Contracts for Some Vendors The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the extension of contract to venders in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA is exercising the option to extend contracts for current distributors for the next performance period, July 1 through August 30, for up to $1.16 billion of food. The decision to extend current contractors was determined based on their performance since May 15. Some vendors were extended without any adjustment to their delivery amounts, while others’ amounts or locations were adjusted based on their demonstrated abilities to perform or at the vendor’s request. USDA says the extensions continue to require audits to ensure all requirements are met. The government chose not to extend some vendors’ contracts either in part because of concerns brought up during audits or for performance challenges. Since May 15, distributors have delivered over 17 million food boxes to approximately 3,200 non-profit organizations across the United States. ************************************************************************************ Bill Seeks USDA Ag Supply Chain Administrator Legislation introduced this week would create a new office at the Department of Agriculture to connect food banks with farmers. The American Farms, Food banks and Families Act proposes to create a Domestic Agriculture Supply Chain Administrator to act as a liaison between food banks, grocers and nonprofit food distributors to expand market access for farmers. Introduced be Republican Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, the legislation ensures “the federal government is collaborating with local farmers, food banks, and distributors.” Loeffler says the bill would help families in need, assist farmers and create jobs. Kyle Waide, CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, says the legislation “will help food insecure families across the country get the fresh food they desperately need.” The duties of the administrator include identifying legal and regulatory barriers that inhibit farmers from working directly with food distribution entities and convening members of the public and private sector to make recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture. ************************************************************************************ Senate Ag Announces Climate Bill Hearing, Grain Standards Reauthorization Markup The Senate Agriculture Committee announced a hearing next week on climate solutions and a business meeting on grain standards. Committee leaders, Senate Republican Pat Roberts, and Senate Democrat Debbie Stabenow made the announcement this week. The Committee will hold a legislative hearing on The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020, and hold a business meeting to consider the U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020. The hearing, planned for Wednesday, June 24, will feature testimony from Indiana farmer Brent Bible, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duval, National Farmers Union President Rob Larew, and Jason Weller of Land O’Lakes. The Growing Climate Solutions Act creates a certification program at the Department of Agriculture to help solve technical entry barriers that make it difficult for farmers to participate in carbon credit markets. The Grain Standards Act authorizes the Federal Grain Inspection Service of USDA to establish official marketing standards for certain grains and oilseeds.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 18, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fed’s Expanding Role The Fed is continuing to boost its visibility in the growing coronavirus fight. Bloomberg noted that Chairman Jerome Powell told the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday that the U.S. economy may be entering a period of significant improvements in employment but also could leave the labor market “well short” of the robust levels seen just before the coronavirus pandemic. Powell was repeatedly asked by about economic inequality and the unemployment rates for low-income and black Americans in light of protests sweeping the nation over police brutality and racial disparities. He responded that “the disproportionate impact of job losses on low-income Americans and minorities” is significant, and that “the economic pain was hitting hardest on those who can least afford it.” “If not contained and reversed, the downturn could further widen gaps in economic well-being that the long expansion had made some progress in closing,” he said. Powell also was pressed by Democrats on whether Congress should provide additional fiscal support, focusing in particular on whether budget cutbacks by state and local governments could further damage the economy if they don’t receive more aid. Powell tried to stay out of the most partisan battles but agreed that growing inequality is a risk, Bloomberg said. He also appeared to lend his support to continuing some level of extra aid to the unemployed. “I wouldn’t presume to tell you what the Fed thinks you should do, it’s really not our role,” Powell said. “We do think you’ll want to continue support for workers in some form. There are going to be an awful lot of unemployed people for some time.” Bloomberg also noted that the U.S. has spent more than half of the $3 trillion in economic rescue funds passed by Congress—but provided “little of the oversight intended to ensure the money goes to the right places.” In fact, the new oversight bodies that exist are “barely functional,” Bloomberg thinks. These include a special inspector general who was recently sworn in, a congressional panel that still lacks a chairman and staff and an official that the president “quickly removed” who was going to lead a separate accountability committee. The sheer size of the pandemic response means there’s a wide swath of issues to investigate. But mistrust in Washington is so deep that the oversight groups’ investigations are already mired in politics. Leaders of both parties have failed to agree on a chairman to lead the congressional oversight panel. And Democr