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| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


USTR Tai heads to Brussels this week for European Negotiations U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is in Europe this week for negotiations with her European counterparts. Tai says she will take part in “intense negotiations” to resolve the 16-year dispute over Boeing and Airbus subsidies and find a path forward on products like steel and aluminum. The talks will also give the U.S. and European Union a chance to champion the rights and interests of workers in those industries while also creating new standards to combat the harmful industrial policies of China and other countries that undermine the ability of other countries to compete. The ambassador says trade is essential to a functioning global economy, but it’s clear that past promises made to workers on trade were not kept. The consequences for workers who lost their jobs to unfairly traded imports created a “trust gap” with the public about free trade. Tai says based on conversations so far, she’s “optimistic that we will be successful.” Tai made her remarks last week during an AFL-CIO Town Hall. ********************************************************************************************** Judge Halts USDA Debt Relief Plan A Wisconsin federal judge ordered the USDA to at least temporarily stop $4 billion in loan debt relief payments intended for minority farmers. DTN says the move is in response to a lawsuit filed by white farmers who are not eligible for the same debt relief funds. That’s just one of five federal lawsuits filed against Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to block USDA from paying off loans for minority farmers without also doing the same for white farmers. The temporary restraining order late last week keeps USDA from paying out any money to minority farmers while the U.S. District Court in eastern Wisconsin considers a more extensive preliminary injunction request filed by attorneys for 12 white farmers from nine states. An attorney for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty says, “the Court recognized that the federal government’s plan to allocate benefits based on race raises grave constitutional concerns and threatens our clients with irreparable harm.” A spokesman for USDA says the department disagrees with the judge’s decision but did confirm that the debt-relief program is on hold for now. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Working to Strengthen Enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act The USDA will begin work on three proposed rules to support the enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The 100-year-old law was originally designed to protect poultry farmers, hog producers, and cattle ranchers from unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive practices in meat markets. USDA will take three actions related to rulemaking in the months ahead. First, USDA intends to propose a new rule that will provide greater clarity to strengthen enforcement against unfair and deceptive practices, undue preferences, and unjust prejudices. USDA will also propose a new poultry grower tournament system rule, with the current inactive proposal to be withdrawn. The agency will also re-propose a rule to clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition to bring an action under Section 202 of the Act. “The pandemic and other recent events have revealed how concentration can take a painful toll on independent farmers and ranchers while exposing working family consumers to higher prices and uncertain output,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Packers and Stockyards Act is 100 years old and needs to take into account modern market dynamics.” He says as the agency works to strengthen the resiliency of the country’s supply chains, enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act will be critically important. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Farm Tractor Sales Drop in May Sales in the under-40 horsepower tractor category pulled total U.S. farm tractor sales negative, while all other segments and Canada continue strong growth. The latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers shows that U.S. total farm tractor sales fell 3.9 percent in May compared to 2020, making it the first overall negative sales result in a year. U.S. self-propelled combine sales climbed a healthy 33.2 percent. Only the sub-40 horsepower segment saw a decline in year-over-year sales, dropping 8.9 percent, but that was enough to bring a negative result to total farm tractor unit sales. All other segments were positive, with the biggest gains in the articulated four-wheel-drive segment, up 62 percent to 253 units sold. The mid-sized 40-100 horsepower units were up 6.7 percent, and the 100-plus horsepower two-wheel-drive tractors were up 28 percent. Year-to-date farm tractor sales remain up 25.8 percent. In Canada, May monthly tractor and combine sales were positive through all segments, with the biggest growth in combine harvesters, up 166 percent to 109 units sold. “While the sub-40 segment fell a bit, they’re still up a strong 26 percent year-over-year to date,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services with AEM. *********************************************************************************************** NCBA Petitions to Change “Produced in USA” Label The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association petitioned the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to eliminate using “Product of the USA” labels for beef products. The Hagstrom Report says the NCBA wants to eliminate other broad U.S. origin labeling claims for beef and establish a “Processed in the USA” label instead. “The ‘Product of the USA’ label doesn’t meet the expectations of today’s consumers and disincentivizes the use of voluntary, source-verified claims that allow cattle and beef producers to more effectively distinguish their product in the marketplace,” says NCBA President Jerry Bohn. The headline on the NCBA news release says the move would “increase producer profitability.” Other groups have called for strict country-of-origin labels on meat which Congress passed but later rescinded after a World Trade Organization panel found the labels resulted in discrimination against Canadian and Mexican meat. The voluntary labels that NCBA supports represent investments made by producers to continually improve their products and meet consumer demand. “Marketing through source-verification will provide a more accurate and truthful description of the products,” Bohn adds, ‘which will reduce the potential for consumer confusion while increasing the ability of cattle producers to capture additional premiums for their product.” *********************************************************************************************** Food Import Costs Expected to Hit Record Levels in 2021 The costs of importing food are expected to reach record levels this year. The U.N. Food Agency says that will put intense pressure on the world’s poorest countries, whose economies have already been hit hard by COVID-19. Reuters says the high costs may continue for a long period as nearly all agricultural commodities have become more expensive in recent months, while a rally in energy markets could boost farmers’ production costs. The Food and Agriculture Organization says the problem is not that the world faces higher prices; the issue is vulnerable countries. The FAO’s Food Outlook report says the world’s food import bill will reach $1.71 trillion, up 12 percent from 2020. The FAO says nations classified as Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries are forecast to see their food import costs jump 20 percent this year. International aid organizations are already warning officials of rising numbers of malnourished people in the world as COVID-19 compounded food insecurity linked to conflict and poverty in states like Yemen and Nigeria. The FAO’s monthly food price index recently hit a 10-year high in May, including sharp rises for cereals, vegetable oils, and sugar.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Food labeling and Non-Dairy Products The issue of food labeling is one of those potential hot-button items when it comes to U.S. lawmakers. And that has not changed as was evidenced in a recent hearing on the Food and Drug Administration's Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget. And it is one that farm-state lawmakers, especially those from dairy states, have continued to focus on in the wake of the rise of plant-based food products that use terms like “milk” on the labels of the products. Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock was confronted by those issues during the hearing, with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., zeroing in on the topic as she questioned Woodcock. Baldwin has introduced a bill that would seek to require FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days. “I'm sometimes dismayed that I even have to offer a measure like this,” she told Woodcock. “FDA does not enforce the regulations it has on the books. So, dairy farmers follow these rules, day in and day out in order to be able to honestly label their product as milk, or cheese, or yogurt. Yet a range of imitation dairy products have gotten away with using these dairy terms, even though they don't follow the agency's rules.” So her question to Woodcock focused on what the agency is doing to address what she says is a violation of FDA labeling requirements. “We are working on updated guidance that would make sure consumers understood,” Woodcock said. “We're particularly concerned about nutritional value. For example, calcium, vitamin D, protein. Some of these other products are not comparable and safe. They were fed to a young child or infant, they wouldn't be getting what the consumer, the mother or parent thought the child was getting.” But Woodcock was able to offering little other assurance to Baldwin except to say FDA “will try to get that as soon as possible.” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., delved into the issue of plant-based proteins and labeling on those products. Hoeven put his attention on the fact that USDA is in charge of labeling on animal products. “If there's animal terminology or imagery used, and of course, and on the animal side, we want USDA doing -- driving labeling,” he commented. “We understand you to have it in the Food and Drug side, from the plant and drug side. But, you know, how do you prevent misleading labeling for these products?” “We have to establish clear standards, and we work very closely with USDA on these issues to make sure they have labeling principles and so forth to make sure that that those are out there and people understand them,” Woodcock replied. “So some is education, some is enforcement to make sure that if things are mislabeled that, that we provide feedback to companies.” Noting the confusion that unfolds with a beef product and a similarly named plant-based product, Hoeven noted, including for both the consumer but also livestock producer. “I would say on the plant side, there are many people who want to make sure they're eating a plant product, too,” Woodcock observed. “So these need to be very labeled very clearly which one they are so that people are not misled.” So we will see. The issue of things like common food names being applied to similar plant-based products has long been a focal point for the U.S. dairy and other sectors. And as these alternatives continue to grow, it is an issue that needs to be monitored closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


NCBA Petition USDA To Eliminate 'Product of The USA' Labels The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has filed a petition with USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to eliminate the use of “Product of the USA” and other broad U.S. origin labeling claims for beef products that are potentially misleading to consumers. The group said they view the current “Product of the USA” as not providing a service to consumers as it is not based on any verification program, food safety standard and it does not deliver value back to the cattle producer. NCBA believes that current “Product of the USA” labels are “a disservice to American consumers and cattle producers alike,” the group said. The group pointed out that imported products can be labeled as a “Product of the USA” if they have been minimally processed or repackaged in a USDA-inspected facility. “The Product of the USA label does not meet the expectations of today's consumers and disincentivizes the use of voluntary, source-verified claims that allow cattle and beef producers to more effectively distinguish their product in the marketplace,” said NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “There is a growing desire among consumers to know more about the origin of the food they purchase, and it is critical that producers are empowered with opportunities to market their high-quality beef in a way that allows them to differentiate the source of their product from competitors and potentially increase profitability.” NCBA said they support voluntary efforts that allow cattlemen to get more value of their product via origin labels, marketing initiatives that are voluntary and source-verified. NCBA is advocating for a more appropriate generic label, such as “Processed in the USA." The group said they want to work with USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to educate stakeholders in the industry to develop voluntary, verifiable origin marketing claims that deliver benefits to producers but do not violate U.S. trade commitments.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


USDA Requiring Farmers To Resubmit CRP Offers USDA earlier this year announced it had reviewed the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and put in place higher rental payments, new incentives and more focus on climate change. Given those changes, USDA has now deleted all offers submitted under the continuous CRP signup (Signup 55) and the general CRP signup (Signup 56). USDA said there will be a one-time 10% “inflationary” adjustment for the life of the CRP contract which will be factored into Soil Rental Rates (SRRs). As for the Climate-Smart Practice Incentive effort, USDA said the incentives will be 10% for woody biomass, 5% for grass and legumes and 3% for grass cover types. USDA also said that State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) practices are being moved from the general CRP signup to the continuous signup. CRP offers can be resubmitted starting June 14 with a deadline of July 23 for offers under the general signup and August 6 for the continuous signup. Contracts are to start October 1 for the general signup and for continuous signup offers for re-enrolled or a combination of re-enrolled and new acres. For offers on new acres only under the continuous signup, contracts start the first of the month after the month that the offer has been approved. Those submitting offers under CRP previously will be getting letters advising them of the new signup

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will check the latest weather forecasts in search of any change in what has been a generally dry weather pattern for the central U.S. USDA's weekly grain export inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. Crop condition ratings will get the most attention, along with winter wheat harvest progress. Weather Dry conditions that occurred over the weekend mostly follow for Monday. There will be some isolated showers across the Plains, eastern Midwest, and Southeast, but amounts look mostly light. Meanwhile, hot temperatures are expected again across most of the country, continuing stress for developing row crops in the drier areas. Conditions continue to favor the winter wheat harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


Minor Changes in June WASDE Report The June World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report offers minor changes from last month. This month's corn outlook is for reduced beginning and ending stocks. Beginning stocks are down 150 million bushels reflecting projected increases in corn used for ethanol and exports. Corn used for ethanol increased 75 million bushels, and weekly ethanol production data indicates demand is almost back to levels seen before COVID-19. The season-average farm price received by producers is unchanged at $5.70 per bushel. This month’s U.S. soybean supply and use projections include higher beginning and ending stocks. With higher soybean beginning stocks and no use changes, ending stocks are projected at 155 million bushels, up 15 million from last month. The season-average soybean price is unchanged at $13.85 per bushel. Finally, the outlook for wheat this month is for larger supplies, higher domestic use, unchanged exports, and slightly lower stocks. The projected price is unchanged at $6.50 per bushel, compared to $5.05 for last year. *********************************************************************************** Ag Groups Ready to Defend WOTUS Farm groups are ready to defend the Navigable Waters Protection rule after the Environmental Protection Agency announced intent to repeal and rewrite the rule. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council, in a joint statement, say, “The NWPR was an immense step forward in rectifying the egregious overreach of the 2015 rule.” NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover says, “Livestock producers, who manage both their private lands and safeguard public lands, have a deep-seated commitment to protecting and improving our waterways — which is why it is so deeply frustrating when EPA opts for government overreach instead of effective, proven public-private partnerships.” NCBA and PLC were instrumental in the repeal of the 2015 WOTUS rule and are currently engaged in litigation to defend the NWPR. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall states, “We expected extensive outreach, but the announcement fails to recognize the concerns of farmers and ranchers.” *********************************************************************************** JBS Paid Hackers $11 Million JBS paid $11 million to the hackers behind a ransomware attack late last month. In a press release this week, the company confirmed the payment. At the time of payment, most of the company's facilities were operational. However, in consultation with internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts, the company decided to mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated. JBS USA leadership states, “the payment will “prevent any potential risk for our customers.” The hacker group REvil initiated the cyberattack that shut down JBS packing plants for at least a day. Upon learning of the intrusion, the company contacted federal officials and activated its cybersecurity protocols, including voluntarily shutting down all its systems to isolate the intrusion, limit potential infection and preserve core systems. The company is not aware of any evidence that any customer, supplier or employee data has been compromised or misused as a result of the situation. *********************************************************************************** Major U.S. Ag Groups Call for Bipartisan Infrastructure Package Leading U.S. agriculture groups call for lawmakers to come together on a bipartisan infrastructure package. Led by Farmers for Free Trade, a letter to lawmakers includes support from every step of the U.S. supply chain. The letter comes as negotiations among a bipartisan group of Senators accelerate and Congressional leaders weigh the path forward for infrastructure investments. The letter states, “American agriculture depends on access to new foreign and domestic markets, and that access depends on reliable infrastructure.” Further, the letter states, “We ask all members of the 117th Congress to recognize the importance of infrastructure to the health of the nation’s food and agricultural economy.” The letter focuses on the economic importance of agricultural trade, the importance of infrastructure for ag supply chains and exports, how infrastructure spending will support ag and rural jobs, current deficiencies in ag infrastructure, the benefits of investing in rural broadband and the importance of passing an infrastructure package to compete globally. ************************************************************************************ Canadian Developer Confirms Cancellation of Keystone XL Pipeline TC Energy Corporation, the developer behind the Keystone XL Pipeline in Canada, confirmed the cancellation of the project this week. Construction activities to advance the project were suspended following an executive order by President Joe Biden on his first day in office. The company will continue to coordinate with regulators and stakeholders to meet its environmental and regulatory commitments and ensure a safe exit from the project. TC Energy's CEO states, "We remain grateful to the many organizations that supported the project and would have shared in its benefits.” House Energy and Commerce Committee Energy Subcommittee Republican Leader Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, states, “Now Keystone XL is officially dead and President Biden’s radical decision is proving to be disastrous for American workers and their families.” However, Environmental Natural Resources Defense Council spokesperson Anthony Swift says, “Keystone XL was a terrible idea from the start,” adding, “It‘s time to accelerate our transition to the clean energy sources that will power a prosperous future.” ************************************************************************************ Organic Valley Hits Record $1.2 Billion in Sales Organic Valley this week announced the company has recorded sales of $1.2 billion for the year ending 2020. With industries in chaos and conventional dairy markets forced to dump milk amid the pandemic, Organic Valley says it “held a stable pay price for its family farms, improved financials, and grew a steady demand for organic milk and dairy.” As more people chose to cook healthy food from home in 2020, Organic Valley experienced consolidated sales growth of 4.5 percent. In addition, an increase in conscious shopping choices by individuals across the country helped the cooperative uphold a stable pay price for its organic family farms. By driving net income, reducing debt, holding pay price, and returning dollars to farmers, Organic Valley made considerable progress in 2020 that will support a long-term future for organic family farms. Compared to 2019, the nation’s largest organic farmer-owned cooperative improved consolidated net income by $48.4 million in 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inflation Worries Continue to Build U.S. consumers saw the highest rate of inflation on an annualized basis was up 5% from year-ago levels in May, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the U.S. Labor Department, the biggest rise in prices in 13 years -- since 2008. Taking food and energy out of the mix as those typically are two of the most volatile price components, the “core” rate was up 3.8% from this point in 2020, the biggest jump since 1992. On a monthly basis, inflation rose 0.6%. One component of the price rise? Used cars and trucks. Those prices were up a whopping 7.3% from April and were one-third of the increase that was registered. A shortage of new vehicles due to a lack of computer chips has consumers turning to the used car market in a big way, prompting car dealers to urge consumers to upgrade their ride. But part of the big increases from year-ago levels is that we're still seeing some of the pressures from the pandemic as bars and restaurants shut down or had very limited operations. The Wall Street Journal notes that situation from May and June last year is called the “base effect.” But the figures immediately rekindled or reawakened the debate over inflation. That has been going on for the past few months and some have declared that this month's data is more evidence that inflationary pressures are building. That is prompting more analysts to think this will result in Fed officials needing to move quicker than they have signaled on monetary policy. The food portion of the component is starting to also manifest itself in higher prices at the grocery store. Indeed, data has been showing prices are rising, but USDA is still not raising its forecasts for overall food prices, grocery store or restaurant prices this year. They still see food price inflation running at or below the 20-year average. But market participants have become more and more convinced that the data on inflation is going to have the Fed start talking about tapering its bond purchases which have been going off at a clip of $120 billion per month. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has dismissed the concerns, saying the Fed believes inflation pressures are “transitory” and that it is “not time to start talking about talking about tapering” those bond purchases. That is a question he has been asked after every Fed rate setting meeting since early this year. Markets mostly took the inflation data in stride. And that is likely due in part to the fact that there are no Fed officials offering comments this week. Last Saturday (June 5) marked the start of the so-called “blackout” period ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting that concludes June 16. While no Fed officials were scheduled to speak this week, their comments could not go into the current state of the economy or monetary policy. So markets have been left to their own devices this week and will again be on their own when wholesale inflation data comes out next week. As if there were Fed officials commenting or sounding alarm, that might have spooked markets into expecting higher rates coming sooner than expected. But this will still be the focal point when the Fed meeting wraps up on June 16 and Powell again meets with reporters. If he admits that now is the time for the U.S. central bank to start talking about trimming those bond buys, that will be taken as a sign the move could come very quickly. Not everyone is convinced as of yet. Julia Coronado, a former Fed economist and president of MacroPolicy Perspectives LLC, told the Journal she doesn't think recent inflation data call for the Fed to change course. “These price pressures are very narrowly focused on things that seem like they will be obviously transitory,” Coronado said. “Think about this: We are at the most intense moment. It will not get more intense than this. We are reopening. We are blasting stimulus into the economy with a fire hose. We've got monetary policy at maximum stimulation.” She does have a point. And Fed officials have repeatedly signaled they are willing to let inflation run above their 2% target “for some time,” a period of time they have not and will not define. So we will see. If the Fed next week indicates it is time to start talking about tapering those bond purchases, that will start building expectations that interest rates too will be on the rise, and that will be a situation that will need to be watched closely as it means the cost of borrowing money will be on the rise too, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


Dairy Donation Program Getting Closer USDA has sent an interim final rule for the Dairy Donation Program (DDP) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. USDA offered up general guidelines for the program in April based on provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that created the DDP. The program will require that a donation and distribution plan must be submitted to and approved by USDA and the reimbursement will be at least equivalent to the minimum classified value of milk used to make the donated product on the date of manufacturing. The program will also require records related to donating and receiving products must be maintained and available for review and/or audit. Eligibility for the program is open to dairy farmer cooperatives and processors who “account to” a Federal milk marketing order (FMMO) and donate dairy products to any private or public nonprofit food distribution entity. The program will also allow for retroactive reimbursements back to December 27, 2020, when the legislation was signed into law. The rule at OMB will contain more details on that reimbursement rate. The dairy industry has been awaiting the DDP effort, particularly in the wake of the Biden administration ending the popular Food Box program which included dairy products provided to recipients and fostered additional demand for U.S. dairy products.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


NPPC Takes Aim At Line Speed Issue At Pork Plants The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is focusing major attention on the March 31 ruling by U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen vacating portions of USDA's New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rule that allow qualified pork processing plants to run at line speeds above 1,106 head per hour. NPPC officials told reporters Wednesday if the ruling is not appealed and takes effect at month's end, line speeds at the six affected plants would slow by as much as 25% and reduce overall U.S. pork harvest capacity by 2.5%. The group cited data from Iowa State University Ag Economist Dermott Hayes that found the reduced line speeds will cost hog farmers over $80 million in lost revenue during 2021 alone. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack this week suggested the call for appeal lies with the U.S. Solicitor General and said the case has put the department in an uncomfortable position. NPPC Vice President and Counsel of Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano said the administration's push to bolster supply chains -- including efforts to boost processing capacity at meat plants and support small producers -- is at odds with any decision not to appeal the ruling. “If this thing is unchecked, it is going to disproportionately hurt small producers,” he stressed. “Didn't we just this week have a supply chain initiative announcement? The point: to add capacity.” If allowed to take effect, he said, the ruling will give more market power to meatpackers and hurt producers. Giordano also stressed that the ruling would upend nearly 25 years of operation at higher line speeds for five of the affected plants, which have been enrolled in a pilot program allowing them to operate at current levels since the 1990s. He also pushed back on the assertion by labor unions, who brought the line speed challenge, that removing the limits negatively impacts worker safety. “The data, in fact, don't suggest higher levels of worker injury,” he said. “They suggest lower level of worker injuries at these plants.” The industry is clearly pushing the administration to challenge the court decision, but Vilsack's comments Tuesday gave no indication that would be the case.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA still has not had a daily export sale announcement in June and the next chance will come at 8 a.m. CDT. The early version of University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for June is due out at 9 a.m. CDT and is the only official report on Friday's docket. Even so, traders have their hands full keeping up with the latest weather forecasts and digesting Thursday's new estimates from USDA. Weather A line of strong-to-severe storms was moving from the Dakotas and central Nebraska eastward early Friday morning. Models suggest that this line will weaken in the morning as it moves into Minnesota and Iowa, but the southern flank may continue over eastern Nebraska and move south into Kansas later in the day. Scattered thunderstorms are likely to redevelop over the western Midwest later in the day, but not to the strength we saw last night in the Northern Plains, where there were many strong wind reports. A brief cooldown is expected over the northwestern Plains as a front moves through, reducing heat stress for a day or two before temperatures rise next week.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


EPA Announces Intent to Revise Definition of WOTUS The Biden administration's Environmental Protection Agency plans to repeal and rewrite the definition of water of the United States, or WOTUS. The EPA announced Wednesday it will repeal the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaced the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. rule. EPA Administrator Michael Regan states, “the EPA and Department of the Army have determined that this rule is leading to significant environmental degradation.” A review of the rule requested by President Joe Biden claims stakeholders are seeing destructive impacts to critical water bodies. The Department of Justice Wednesday filled a motion requesting remand of the rule without vacating it. The EPA, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, say they will rework the rule to protect water resources and communities consistent with the Clean Water Act. The agencies say the new rule will reflect input from landowners, agriculture, and state and local governments, along with environmental groups. *********************************************************************************** Ag Coalition Calls for More Ag Research Funding A coalition of agriculture groups and universities calls on Congress and the Biden administration to increase funding for agricultural research. The groups say an increase of $40 billion is needed for agricultural research. In separate letters to President Joe Biden and House and Senate leadership, the groups say, “We strongly support a robust investment of at least $40 billion, for agricultural climate research, agricultural innovation, and agricultural research infrastructure in any comprehensive infrastructure package moving forward.” The coalition says that research makes the food and agriculture sectors a powerhouse of the U.S. economy by providing solutions to short- and long-term challenges. A recent study found U.S. public food and agriculture R&D spending from 1910 to 2007 returned, on average, $17 in benefits for every $1 invested. The federal share of overall R&D spending as a percentage of GDP is now at its lowest point since the 1950s, and food and agriculture lags behind most other federal R&D areas. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Dairy Industry’s Economic Impact Totals $753 Billion The U.S. dairy industry continues to play a strong role in the U.S., supporting 3.3 million total jobs and $41.6 billion in direct wages. The International Dairy Foods Association released the findings in an economic impact report this week. IDFA’s 2021 Economic Impact Study, which measures the combined impact of the dairy products industry, showed the U.S. dairy industry’s economic impact totaled $752.9 billion. IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes says, "American dairy companies contribute significantly to the U.S. economy, and their impact continues to grow year after year." The newly released figures indicate the U.S. dairy industry now contributes 3.5 percent of U.S. GDP, and $67.1 billion in federal, State and local taxes. For the first time, the total value of exports was included in the study, revealing the U.S. dairy industry is responsible for a total of $6.5 billion in exported goods and reinforces the importance of fair international trade agreements for the industry. *********************************************************************************** World Pork Expo Showcases Top Pork Priorities World Pork Expo this week brings a highlight of pork industry priorities. National Pork Producers Council President Jen Sorenson says, “After a two-year absence, we’re thrilled for the return of Work Pork Expo, showcasing the latest developments in the U.S. pork industry.” The event last year was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic and the year prior over African swine fever concerns. NPPC is using the event to focus on the organization’s priorities in 2021. Those include the federal district court ruling striking down faster harvest facility line speeds. Additionally, NPPC is challenging California's Proposition 12. Set to go into effect next year, it will impose arbitrary animal housing standards that reach far outside the State's borders, while driving up costs for pork producers and consumers. Other near-term priorities for pork producers include expanding export markets, addressing agriculture labor reform, and advocating for measures to ensure foreign agriculture diseases remain outside the country. ************************************************************************************ Meat Institute: California Prop 12 Not Beneficial to Consumers The North American Meat Institute says California's Proposition 12 provides no benefit to consumers and increases breeding sow mortality according to the State's own proposed rule. The California Department of Food and Agriculture released the proposed rule, originally due in September 2019, late last month. The Meat Institute has filed a reply brief recently to its petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the Meat Institute, states, "Our petition to challenge the law has the support of more than 20 states." The question is whether the U.S. Constitution permits California to extend its power beyond its territorial borders by banning the sale of pork and veal products sold into California unless out-of-state farmers restructure their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California. The Meat Institute says allowing the law to stand "insulates in-state farmers from out-of-state competition, while imposing crushing burdens on out-of-state farmers." ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Applauds Nevada’s Move to E15 Nevada’s Governor over the weekend signed a law requiring the Nevada Board of Agriculture to approve E15 as part of any fuel regulation adopted by July 1, 2021. Growth Energy responded to the news Wednesday, as CEO Emily Skor says, “We’re looking forward to working with retailers across the state to add E15 to their fuel offerings, so Nevadans have greater access to a liquid fuel that reduces their carbon emissions.” A study by Air Improvement Resource, Inc. showed that switching from E10 gasoline to E15 across Nevada could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 148,000 metric tons annually – the equivalent of removing more than 32,000 vehicles from Nevada roads. Once the regulation is finalized, Nevada would be the 47th State to approve E15 for consumers. E15, marketed to consumers as Unleaded 88, is offered at over 2,440 retail sites in 30 states and 230 terminals. Consumers have driven over 21 billion miles on E15 to date.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Another Water Rule Coming EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will once again seek to come up with a definition of waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) that will replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule put in place by the Trump administration. But the effort also will not bring back the Obama-era WOTUS rule that was put in place in 2015. EPA said it will embark on a new rulemaking to generate the new rule after undertaking a review of the Trump-era rule. That review, EPA said, indicated it was causing “destructive impacts” to “critical water bodies.” The new regulatory effort, EPA said, would be built on protecting water resources consistent with the Clean Water Act, use the latest science and consider effects of climate change, create a rule that can be practically implemented, and reflects the “experience of and input received from landowners, the agricultural community that fuels and feeds the world, states, Tribes, local governments, community organizations, environmental groups, and disadvantaged communities with environmental justice concerns.” EPA has pledged there will be “meaningful stakeholder engagements” to develop the new rule, which would mean listening sessions or public hearings to generate information for the agency to draft the new regulation. The fact that we are seeing yet again another regulatory process coming on this topic is from an executive order signed by President Joe Bident his first day in office which directed the EPA and Army “to immediately review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of Federal regulations [including the Navigable Waters Protection Rule or “NWPR”] and other actions during the last four years that conflict with these important national objectives.” While touting the review of the NWPR, EPA did not offer much as to that review. They did note that the NWPR did result in several bodies of water in New Mexico and Arizona no longer being subject to the Clean Water Act provisions and that some 300 projects that were conducted after the Trump rule went into effect were ones that would have required some type of permitting or plan under the 2015 WOTUS rule. “After reviewing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule as directed by President Biden, the EPA and Department of the Army have determined that this rule is leading to significant environmental degradation,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “We are committed to establishing a durable definition of 'waters of the United States' based on Supreme Court precedent and drawing from the lessons learned from the current and previous regulations, as well as input from a wide array of stakeholders, so we can better protect our nation's waters, foster economic growth, and support thriving communities.” But therein lies perhaps EPA's most difficult task -- a durable rule. Presumably, the are likely intending that the rule they finalize after a rulemaking process will not be challenged in court as both the WOTUS and NWPR were. That will prove to be a tall order for EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But the replacement for the Trump-era rule will not come immediately. EPA has indicated they will initiate a new rulemaking process. That means we will first see public information gathering done either via public meetings or a request for information via a notice in the Federal Register. Then will come the process of developing a notice of proposed rulemaking that will also have a public comment period. It will have to first be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as well. Then will be the process of developing a final rule based on the input and feedback to the proposed version. Then another OMB review will be done before a final rule will be promulgated. In all, that process could take several years. And even then, expectations are already that whatever that final rule is, there will be court challenges that will come forth. So we will see. EPA clearly has their work cut out for them to develop a rule that is in their words “durable.” But it will also have to pass muster with the ag community, a constituency that fought the Obama-era plan and so this whole process will need to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


Agriculture Bucked Overall Trade Trend In April While U.S. exports in general gained against imports during April, trimming the overall U.S. trade deficit compared with March, U.S. agricultural exports declined in April to $14.5 billion from $15.3 billion in March. Imports, however, held nearly steady at $14.4 billion after being at $14.6 billion in March. That left agriculture with a surplus of $189 million, down from $774 million in March. That brings cumulative U.S. agricultural exports so far in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to $107 billion against imports of $91 billion for a surplus of $15.7 billion. For FY 2021, USDA forecasts U.S. agricultural exports to total $164 billion against imports of $141.8 and result in a surplus of $22.2 billion. If USDA's forecast is on the mark, U.S. agricultural exports would have to average just $11.4 billion for the five remaining months of FY 2021 and imports $10.1 billion. A decline of that degree imports would be somewhat surprising since the value of imports has not been that small since September 2017 while U.S. agricultural exports were under $11 billion for the April-July period in 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


Vilsack Says No Decision Yet On Appealing Pork Line Speed Decision USDA has been warning the six hog slaughter plants affected by a U.S. District Court ruling that they should prepare to revert to their old speeds of 1,106 animals per hour at the end of this month. But USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Tuesday that no decision has been made yet by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on whether to appeal a federal district court ruling that struck down a Trump-era rule allowing unlimited line speeds at certain pork processing facilities. The ruling is set to take effect June 29, with USDA announcing last month it would enforce the decision. Vilsack explained that the six facilities that had been allowed unlimited line speeds under the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rule “will have to decide whether or not they want to go back to the 1,106 [head per hour] line speed, or whether they want to make adjustments in terms of adding additional hours, or additional workdays to be able to process the same number of animals that they [currently] process during the course of a day.” He lamented that the case put the department “in a very difficult position,” forced to balance worker safety, food safety and farmer income interests. “Frankly, I don't think USDA should be put in that position,” he remarked, saying his hope is that parties in the case “will figure out a way to move forward with this.” As for an appeal, Vilsack stressed that the decision rests with the Solicitor General at DOJ, not USDA, adding that the ruling itself does not become final until months' end.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims and update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Labor Department will also have the May consumer price index ready at 7:30 a.m. CDT, a number that will be closely watched by outside markets. The U.S. Energy Department releases natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. The latest weather forecasts remain at the top of grain traders' attention Thursday and will probably still dominate prices after USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports are released at 11 a.m. CDT. At 1 p.m., the U.S. Treasury presents the federal budget for May. Weather Strong thunderstorms are forecast to develop late Thursday afternoon and evening across the Northern Plains. Organized clusters and lines of storms will threaten the area with wind, hail, and tornado threats, but will likely produce widespread moderate rainfall amounts in the severe drought areas. This will be highly beneficial for developing row crops where damage does not occur. Elsewhere, scattered showers will continue from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf of Mexico with some heavy rains yet in the central Delta region.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


White House Task Force to Examine Supply Chain Disruptions The White House Tuesday announced a task force focused on short-term supply chain disruptions. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was named co-chair of the task force, along with the Secretaries of Commerce and Transportation. The Department of Agriculture says the task force will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and find solutions that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints related to the economy’s reopening. Specifically, it will focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident, including homebuilding and construction, semiconductors, transportation, and agriculture and food. The White House also released key findings from a review stemming from a supply chain focused executive order. The 100-day study focuses on semiconductors, batteries for electric vehicles, critical minerals and materials and pharmaceuticals. The Interior Department and USDA, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, will also establish a working group. The group will identify sites where critical minerals could be produced and processed in the United States. *********************************************************************************** USDA to Invest $4 Billion to Strengthen Food Systems The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced plans to invest more than $4 billion to strengthen critical supply chains through the Build Back Better initiative. USDA says the funding stems from lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent supply chain disruptions. The new effort will strengthen the food system, create new market opportunities, tackle climate change, and support jobs throughout the supply chain, according to USDA. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, "I am confident USDA's investments will spur billions more in leveraged funding from the private sector and others as this initiative gains traction across the country." Funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan Act and earlier pandemic assistance, such as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. USDA says recent events have exposed the immediate need for action. With attention to competition and investments in additional small- and medium-sized meat processing capacity, the effort will spur economic opportunity while increasing resilience and certainty for producers and consumers. *********************************************************************************** Additional Cattle Markets Legislation Introduced in U.S. House The Optimizing the Cattle Market Act of 2021 introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday seeks to change cattle market dynamics. Introduced by Missouri Republican Representative Vicky Hartzler, the legislation would direct the Agriculture Department to create a cattle formula contracts library, and increase the reporting window for "cattle committed" from seven to 14 days. The measures, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, would increase transparency in the industry and improve the opportunity for robust price discovery. The legislation also reiterates the need for expedited reauthorization of USDA's Livestock Mandatory Reporting program. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane states, “Something needs to give,” referencing market volatility and a shifting regulatory landscape. The use of formulas and grids help producers manage risk and capture more value for their product, but depend upon price discovery that occurs in negotiated transactions. Current research has shown that more negotiated trade is needed to achieve “robust” price discovery within the industry. ************************************************************************************ Prairie-Chicken Listing Threatens Wind Farms A proposal to list the lesser prairie chicken as endangered in parts of Texas and New Mexico is drawing concerns beyond agriculture. The listing could create problems to oil and gas development in the largest U.S. petroleum basin and be problematic for wind power. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the proposal last month for areas in Texas, New Mexico and Southwest Kansas. Bloomberg Law reports the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a possible mile-wide zone around each wind turbine the agency would assume the bird could no longer live. The Texas Panhandle is one of the country’s most productive regions for wind energy. The wind power industry believes wind turbines don’t severely harm the lesser prairie-chicken. The bird previously was listed as threatened under the ESA. However, a federal judge tossed out the listing in 2015 after finding the Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t account for the oil industry’s voluntary efforts to protect the bird’s habitat. ************************************************************************************ Upper Midwest Farm Credit Associations Exploring Merger The Board of Directors from two Farm Credit associations in the upper Midwest have signed a memorandum of understanding for a proposed merger. AgCountry Farm Credit Services, based in Fargo, North Dakota, and Farm Credit Services of North Dakota, based in Minot, North Dakota, are currently assessing the benefits of a merger for stockholders and finalizing the terms of the merger agreement. The two organizations say the merging of two Farm Credit organizations does not reduce competition as each association serves a specific territory in which they do not presently compete. The objectives of the proposed merger include expanded service offerings, ongoing strong commitment to local communities, increased innovation, improved long-term operating efficiencies, and ultimately, increased value and customer experience for the combined customers/member-owners. In pursuing these objectives, the associations do not anticipate any changes in branch locations or branch staffing due to the proposed merger. The earliest effective merger date would be January 1, 2022. ************************************************************************************ SNAP, P-EBT Accounted for More Than 1/9 of Total Food-At-Home Spending Shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, and the need for social distancing led households to buy more food for consumption at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. In response to the economic downturn and pandemic conditions, emergency allotments were issued to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program households. Additionally, Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer benefits were distributed to households with children missing free and reduced-price school meals. The Economic Research Service says the expansion led to a rapid increase in the dollar amount of these benefits issued to households and redeemed for food at home. In March 2020, food at home spending spiked. In June 2020, redemptions of the benefits peaked at $9.5 billion-making up 13.3 percent of food at home spending that month. The share fell the following three months. Overall, the share of spending attributable to SNAP and P-EBT from April through September 2020 was 11.7 percent, more than one in nine dollars and nearly five percentage points higher than the same months in 2019.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Another China Flare Up After recent contacts between U.S. officials and Chinese officials appeared to go relatively smooth, the U.S. has now raised the ire of China over Taiwan. Recall that China considers Taiwan to be a part of China, not an individual country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a House committee on Monday the U.S. plans to open trade talks with Taiwan. "We are engaged in conversations with Taiwan, or soon will be -- on some kind of framework agreement," Blinken said in response to a question from Rep. Andy Barr, R., Ky., during the hearing. Blinken declined to provide more information on the topic and referred questions about details to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. A spokesman for Tai's office said that strengthening relations with Taiwan is important, though "we have no meetings to announce at this time." But the response from China was anything but sanguine. Asked about the trade talks with Taiwan, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington said the U.S. should "stop all forms of official exchanges and contacts with Taiwan, stop elevating its relationship with the Taiwan region in any substantive way." The spokesman urged Washington to adhere to decades-old agreements with Beijing, which commit the U.S. to maintaining only formal ties as a condition for formal relations with China. Taiwan is a major source of semiconductors for the U.S., which imported $7 billion last year in chips and $20 billion in other computer and telecommunications equipment out of $60 billion in total imports. That is double U.S. exports to the island, according to Census Bureau data. The Biden administration Tuesday also announced it has wrapped an initial 100-day review of supply chains in some key areas outside of agriculture. The upshot of that review? The United States will target China with a new "strike force" to combat unfair trade practices that the administration says are damaging U.S. supply chains, according to Reuters. The group will be led by the USTR, which has the power to enforce tariffs against China and other countries. News reports also said the Department of Commerce is considering initiating a Section 232 investigation into the national security impact of neodymium magnet imports used in motors and other industrial applications, which the United States largely obtains from China. This comes as imports of U.S. ag goods by China have continued to be strong, with weekly export figures putting up lofty numbers for U.S. corn in particular as China seeks to build up supplies of the grain. The U.S.'s situation with Taiwan and China has always been a dicey. This latest action sets the stage for another friction point between the two sides that should be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


DOJ Says Zen-Noh Must Sell Nine Elevators to Complete Purchase of Facilities From Bunge The Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division determined that purchase by Zen-Noh Grain Corporation (ZGC) of 35 operating and 13 idled grain origination elevators from Bunge North America would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act. Those elevators are primarily along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. In its proposed final judgment, ZGC would be required to divest nine grain elevators in five states along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. DOJ said the action is based in part on ZGC operating in some areas along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers along with its affiliate CGB Enterprises in competition against Bunge. "The acquisition will eliminate competition between ZGC and Bunge in those locations; as a result, many U.S. farmers are likely to receive lower prices and poorer quality service when seeking to sell their grain," DOJ said in the proposed Final Judgment. ZGC sought to acquire the Bunge facilities for approximately $300 million under an agreement in April 2020. In the proposed Final Judgment, DOJ said there were overlapping draw areas where ZGC would be required to divest included McGregor, Iowa; Albany/Fulton and Shawneetown, Illinois; Caruthersville, Missouri; Huffman, Osceola and Helena, Arkansas; and Lake Providence and Lettsworth, Louisiana. Comments on the proposed Final Judgment are due 60 days from today.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


USDA Prerule On Labeling Cell-Based Meat, Poultry Products Under Review At OMB USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has sent a prerule on labeling of meat and poultry products made using animal cell culture technology to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The Trump administration targeted April of this year to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the topic but had no final timeline identified when they included it in their regulatory agenda released in the fall of 2020. A prerule is defined as a rule in the earliest stage of rulemaking, and may include actions agencies are considering that may or may not ever become actual rules, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Contacts say this is similar to what FDA did on similar issues relative to cell-based products. It is not clear what timeline the Biden administration has in mind relative to this topic, one that will be very closely watched by the U.S. food and agriculture industry.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts continue to get top attention from grain traders, while there hasn't been much export news to talk about. The U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly energy inventory report at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, possibly showing a fourth consecutive week of ethanol production above 1 million barrels per day. Weather Scattered showers will continue to develop over the eastern half of the country Wednesday with more isolated showers expected in the Plains. Heat continues to be an issue across northern locales, especially where showers have not occurred, stressing developing row crops.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


USTR Tai Participates in Meeting with Asia Pacific Trade Partners U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, over the weekend, met with Asia-Pacific trade ministers while also commenting on the U.S.-China trade relationship. Before the meeting, Tai said regarding trade with China, “It’s a relationship in trade that has been marked by significant imbalance -- that is in terms of performance, but also in terms of opportunity and openness of our markets to each other.” The number of talks between the U.S. and China appear to be increasing, with no public signs of progress, according to Bloomberg News. Tai met with members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, largely focusing on trade issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of note, the members state, “While the agriculture sector has been resilient and international markets have remained relatively stable during the pandemic, it remains one of the most protected sectors in global trade.” The members say they share a view towards achieving substantial progressive reductions in support and protection for agricultural products. *********************************************************************************** May a Busy month for Ag Options Trading CME Group reports the Grain and Oilseed option complex averaged 3.9 million contracts of open interest, the highest mark ever in the month of May. The complex also had an average daily volume of 351,000 contracts, the second-highest mark in May. July Corn ended May with a 41 percent implied volatility, the highest level going back to 2007. July added more than 90,000 contacts of open interest reaching 636,000 contracts, with the $7 calls having the most volume and open interest change. On May 11, Soybean Oil, Soybean Meal, Lean Hog, Live Cattle, Class III Milk, and an Ag broad-based index were added to the suite of CME Group Volatility Indexes. CME Group says the tool is specifically useful in the current Grain and Oilseed markets to understand the change in implied volatility over time and in relation to other Ag products. The indexes are seen as a key indicator of forward risk expectations, noted as implied volatility. *********************************************************************************** NPPC CEO to Retire This Year After 31 years of service with the National Pork Producers Council, including the last 20 as CEO, Neil Dierks has announced his plan to retire by the end of the year. However, Dierks will remain in his role as CEO until the search process for a new CEO is completed and will serve as a strategic counselor during a transition period. NPPC president Jen Sorenson says, “Over the last 40 years, Neil has made countless, lasting contributions to the U.S. pork industry and established NPPC as a leading national advocacy organization.” Dierks started his career in the pork industry when he joined the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1981 to manage the Iowa Pork Congress. The NPPC Board of Directors has assembled a search committee made up of producer leaders and retained Korn Ferry to lead the search for a new CEO. The NPPC board expects to complete the search by the end of the year. ************************************************************************************ PLC Renews Call for Wild Horse Management The Public Lands Council late last week renewed its call for responsible, proactive management of horses and burros managed by the Bureau of Land Management. PLC says recent activist efforts seek to exploit political transitions and undermine progress toward improved management of wild horse and burro populations on federal lands. PLC adds the recent flurry of misinformation, and inflammatory rhetoric is simply an attempt to hide the truth, being, "there are too many horses and burros on the land, and ecosystems, wildlife, and multiple uses pay the price." Based on environmental analysis that examines forage conditions, water availability and other factors on the landscape, BLM set a nationwide “Appropriate Management Level” of approximately 26,690 horses. Conservative estimates place the number of horses actually on the range at 95,114, which is more than three times the environmentally driven stocking rate set by the federal agency. Estimates from on-the-ground monitoring suggests the population far exceeds 100,000 horses. ************************************************************************************ Food Service Sector Needs Workers to Meet Demand The foodservice industry is opening nationwide with relaxed restrictions following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, worker shortages are a growing problem, as restaurants must compete with better-paying jobs and unemployment benefits. Operators are raising wages, offering first-day bonuses and some McDonald's locations are even giving new employees iPhones. The foodservice sector provides significant demand for food and agriculture products, which shifted to home dining options or take out during the pandemic. Now, pent-up consumers are looking to dining out, but the sector is behind demand. Federal data shows the foodservice industry added 186,000 jobs last month. Restaurant Business Online reports restaurants now employ 10.8 million workers, recovering 4.5 million workers from the depths of the pandemic. However, the sector remains 1.5 million workers short of pre-pandemic highs. The labor force participation rate was 61.6 percent in May, 1.7 percent lower than last February, suggesting several people have left the workforce and are not yet returning. ************************************************************************************ Teachers Across the Country Share FFA and Agriculture Opportunities Agriculture educators this summer are sharing the story of FFA and agriculture education in their states and communities. More than 82 agricultural education teachers will continue to share the story as part of the National Teachers Ambassadors for FFA program. The program, which began in 2016, provides teachers with the tools to share information about FFA and agricultural education with their communities. Teachers selected for the program receive intensive training in June and July to learn and collaborate on educational resources. Similar to last year, this year’s training will be virtual. National FFA Organization chief program officer Christine White says, “Through this program, we equip teachers with the tools they need to be successful in not only developing future leaders but also in telling their stories.” The ambassadors will present workshops and work with teachers from across the country to brainstorm and share ideas. The ambassadors will also serve as a voice of the organization to teachers across the country.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Consumer Debt Increasing Consumer credit use expanded again in April, marking the third monthly increase in consumer debt, according to data from the Federal Reserve. The $18.6 billion rise in April was driven mostly by increased use of auto and student loans by consumers, basically matching the March increase of $18.6 billion. Loans for cars and student loans are considered to be non-revolving credit by the Fed, and those increased by $20.6 billion, according to the update for April. And it was a notable increase as it was the biggest since June 2020 when it increased $22.7 billion. But the area that could be a concern is in the area called revolving credit. That's where things like credit cards and store cards are categorized. Consumers have again kept their plastic in their pockets as revolving credit levels decreased by $2 billion in April. This is a continuing trend that has been seen since the pandemic hit last year. In fact, revolving credit is down some 12.2% since the peak in February 2020. Since February 2020, consumers have only increased their revolving credit three months. That has translated into much higher savings by consumers as they appear to be "spooked" by the pandemic and likely job losses, etc. This is sort of a double-edged sword. On the positive side, it signals that consumers have paid down their debt levels relative to high-interest-rate credit cards since the pandemic started. That is a plus. And with more money in the bank they are in a more-sustainable position. But the downside to less credit card use is that consumers are not using their plastic to make large purchases. Often times, consumers have opted to use credit cards to make those bigger purchases and then pay them off over time. The Associated Press quoted Nancy Vanden Houten, senior economist at Oxford Economics, that consumers remain reluctant to use their credit cards as they have instead used stimulus dollars it appears to boost their spending. But she expects that will change. "We expect growth in consumer credit will accelerate in the second half of 2021 as consumers dust off their credit cards, and reopenings and better health conditions incentivize stronger outlays," Vanden Houten said. The big rise in student loans and auto loans helped to bring total borrowing by consumers to $4.24 trillion in April, 0.4% above the mark of $4.22 trillion set in February 2020. Another factor at play could be the housing situation. Consumers are finding that the housing market is white hot with it firmly a sellers' market. Multiple bids for houses are being made when a property comes on the market. And it typically doesn't last long. Plus, those homes are selling at higher and higher prices, another factor which may be tempering the willingness of consumers to pull out their credit cards for run-of-the mill purchases. And the lack of travel is another contributing factor. Without airfare, hotels and rental cars being booked, that is a key way that credit cards get used by most consumers. So we will see. Consumers are in better shape relative to their credit cards even though total consumer debt is back to pre-pandemic levels. At some point, they will start using those credit cards again and that will bring a further boost in consumer demand, helping to keep the economy moving forward, a situation that needs to watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


Lawmakers Press USDA On Aid To Contract Growers More than 60 lawmakers are calling on USDA to expedite payments to contract chicken farmers that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, urging USDA in a June 4 letter to dole out the $1 billion in aid approved in December for contract growers of poultry. "We are concerned by the fact that these chicken growers still have not received federal assistance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," lawmakers said in the letter referencing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) aid. "We recognize that it is challenging to determine how losses and payments should be calculated fairly, given variations in the timing of when growers receive and finish raising their flocks. Still, we encourage you to proceed swiftly with making fair payments." USDA has previously indicated the aid was coming, but has said that it has to undertake a rulemaking effort in order to send out the funds. Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Reps. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and John Rose, R-Tenn., were key signers of the letter.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


USDA Formally Announces Nutrition Program Shifts USDA has outlined its plan for boosting food banks and food purchases, using up to $1 billion from recent congressional spending packages. The information comes in the wake of USDA ending the Farmers to Families Food Box program. However, USDA has insisted that it will use the "best of" from the Food Box effort to make changes to other food/nutrition programs. USDA said it will use nearly $500 million from recent spending packages to expand the network of providers through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to aid food banks and local organizations in meeting ongoing needs in their communities. Another $400 million will be used by the Agricultural Marketing Service to expand the pool of local and regional farmers and ranchers, including minority farmers, servicing food bank networks. One of the keys in the USDA effort was providing $100 million for storage and refrigeration capacity. The agency will use cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments and local groups that encourage purchases from local, regional and socially disadvantaged producers. The Food and Nutrition Service will use $100 million for a new grant program to help food aid groups meet TEFAP requirements and expand their service to rural, remote and high poverty communities. Meanwhile, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service issued a thank-you letter to participants in the Food Box effort. "We now have an opportunity to address long-standing issues in the U.S. food system by building it back better," the agency said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts will continue to get quick attention from traders early Tuesday. The U.S. Census Bureau reports on the U.S. trade deficit for April at 7:30 a.m. CDT and specific export data from the report will be released by USDA later Tuesday. USDA has not announced a daily export sale since May 27, but traders will pause at 8 a.m. to see if there are any new sales to report. Weather Heat combined with a small disturbance will produce scattered thunderstorms across portions of the Northern Plains on Tuesday afternoon and evening, some of which may be severe. Other showers will develop across the eastern Midwest down to the Gulf of Mexico. Heat continues to be a main weather factor across the north, especially where showers do not occur.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


USDA Predicting Record Farm Exports in 2021 The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the fiscal year 2021 will be a good year for American farm exports. In the latest quarterly agricultural trade forecast, the agency says farm exports will total $164 billion, which would be the highest total in history. “U.S. agricultural trade has proven extraordinarily resilient in the face of a global pandemic and economic contraction,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “It’s clear that trade remains a critical engine powering the agricultural economy and the U.S. economy as a whole.” The report projects an increase of $7 billion in trade since the February forecast. USDA notes key factors include record export volumes for several commodities, including corn, soybeans, livestock, poultry, and dairy products. Another major influence is the continued rising demand from China for American ag products. USDA predicts exports to China will be a historic $35 billion. Foreign demand for U.S. corn should remain strong amid unfavorable crop prospects in Brazil and other South American countries, driving projected export totals up another $3.2 billion since February’s forecast to $17.2 billion. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are also predicted to rise, while the only two commodities predicted to see a decline are horticultural exports and processed tree nuts. ********************************************************************************************** Legislation Introduced to Repeal Cuban Trade Embargo Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) recently introduced legislation that would relax the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. The Neighbor says the legislation’s goal is to open another avenue for profit for American farmers and ranchers. Moran says the current regulations are limiting revenue streams for farmers, ranchers, and even manufacturers. Moran tells the Kansas City Star that the unilateral trade embargo on Cuba blocks American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers from selling into a market just 90 miles from U.S. shores. “At the same time, foreign competitors like China are benefiting at our expense,” Moran says. “This legislation will expand market opportunities for U.S. producers by allowing them to compete on a level playing field with other countries.” If the legislation gets passed, it will repeal all regulations that restrict doing business with Cuba. “Having the opportunity to export crops like wheat, corn, and soybeans to our neighbors down in Cuba would be a win for farming communities across Kansas and around the country,” says Kansas Farm Bureau President Rich Felts. Studies by the U.S. Trade Commission show that lifting the embargo could potentially increase exports by 166 percent and bring an additional $800 million to the U.S. economy over five years. *********************************************************************************************** Lawmakers Urge Administration to Appeal Damaging Court Ruling Congressional lawmakers are spearheading a couple of letters to the administration asking the USDA and Department of Justice to appeal a recent federal court ruling. If left unchallenged, they say the ruling will cause tremendous financial harm to American hog farmers starting at the end of this month. The federal court’s decision that takes effect on June 29 struck down a provision of the USDA’s New Swine Inspection System allowing for faster harvest facility line speeds. The system got approved for industry adoption in 2019. At a time when the U.S. faces a much-needed increase in pork harvest capacity, the court order will reduce plant capacity at six plants that are currently running at a quicker harvest pace by as much as 25 percent. “While the economic impact to the packers will be significant, it’s the nation’s small-and-medium-sized farmers who will suffer the greatest harm from upstream impacts,” the lawmakers say in the letters. NPPC President Jen Sorenson thanked the lawmakers who spearheaded the letter and urged other lawmakers to join the growing calls for USDA and the DOJ to quickly intervene and “prevent this carnage to hog farmers.” Producers looking for more information about the impact of the court’s decision can go to www.nppc.org. ********************************************************************************************** Global Food Prices Hit Highest Mark in Ten Years Emerging markets across the globe that are struggling to get COVID-19 vaccines may be in for yet another serious challenge: food inflation. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said last week that its global food price index hit its highest mark since September of 2011. As groceries make up a bigger share of their inflation baskets, developing nations will be hit the hardest. For example, in the United Kingdom, food and non-alcoholic drinks make up nine percent of the averages family’s expenditures. However, in Kenya, it’s one-third of the total. A Reuters article says May’s increase was the biggest month-on-month jump since 2010, which might mean social unrest. The rapid tripling of rice prices in 2008 from Thailand, one of the biggest exporters in the world, sparked rioting in West Africa. The cereals part of the FAO index is just below 2008 levels. Experts say after the hardships caused by COVID-19, consumers in emerging markets likely will have lower tolerance levels for rapidly rising prices. ********************************************************************************************** Indiana’s FFA Leadership Center Hit by Lightning Lighting struck a building last week at the FFA’s Indiana Leadership Center. The Indy Star says while none of the injuries were considered serious, more than a dozen children were evaluated and two of them got taken to the hospital “out of an abundance of caution.” Emergency dispatchers received a call after lightning struck a wood cabin located at the Center. The caller told officials that no one appeared to be seriously hurt, but several children and adults reported minor pain from being shocked by the strike. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said, “The children involved were not even sure that they’d actually felt something or if it was simply a combination of the extremely loud noise and lights.” Fire crews from several departments reported no damage to the cabin, which is apart from the main FFA Indiana Leadership Center buildings made from metal. Investigators said there didn’t appear to be any fire danger for the structure. *********************************************************************************************** USDA Investing $1 Billion in Emergency Food Assistance Program The USDA says it will be investing up to $1 billion into the Emergency Food Assistance Program to help support and expand the emergency food network. The goal is to help food banks and local organizations serve their communities more reliably when the need arises. USDA will enter into cooperative agreements with state, tribal, and local entities to be more efficient in purchasing food from local producers and investing in infrastructure that enables partner organizations to reach underserved communities more effectively. National Farmers Union is pleased with the USDA announcement. NFU President Rob Larew says no one should have to worry about where their next meal might come from. “It doesn’t need to be that way,” he says. “Family farmers and ranchers work hard to feed their communities, and there is more than enough food to go around.” The organization says by strengthening the nutrition safety net, the administration’s initiative would help mitigate any hunger crisis in America. “It would also give our farmers more options for distributing the food they grow,” Larew says.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US-China Trade Relations The U.S.-China trade relationship is one that has "significant imbalance," according to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. "There are parts of this trade relationship that are unhealthy and have over time been damaging in some very important ways to the U.S. economy," Tai told reporters over the weekend ahead of a virtual meeting between trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Tai was asked if the U.S. was going to continue the Phase One agreement reached between China and the U.S. by the Trump administration, prompting her comments about the imbalance. "It's a relationship in trade that has been marked by significant imbalance - that is in terms of performance, but also in terms of opportunity and openness of our markets to each other," Tai stated. "The United States is committed to doing everything we can to bring balance back to the U.S.-China trade relationship." Bloomberg pointed to recent contacts between the U.S. and China which included meeting with Tai and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. "While China said that those talks showed the two sides have restarted normal communications, there's been no public sign of any progress on the bilateral tariffs or of discussions over other economic flashpoints between the nations," Bloomberg reported. That is in part as the Biden administration and Tai in particular have indicated there is a review underway of U.S.-China trade relations, including the Phase One agreement. As that review is ongoing, there has been little change in the U.S.-China trade relationship. The U.S. has maintained tariffs on China over intellectual property, steel and aluminum. Those U.S. tariffs prompted a response from China in the form of retaliatory tariffs against a host of U.S. goods. But there has been little else coming from the administration on their plans for the U.S.-China trade relationship. Tai has indicated she plans to build on the trade deal reached in January 2020 and that she respects the continuity of the U.S. policy. But Bloomberg points out there are some signals being sent on the administration's plans for Sino-U.S. relations. The White House's top official for Asia said last month that the U.S. is entering a period of intense competition with China, and the administration last week maintained its Trump-era ban on investment in the U.S. by some Chinese companies. Also, China has continued to make purchases of several U.S. products, including agricultural products like corn. China bought millions of tons of U.S. corn last month but their purchases have fallen off after the surge in purchases. We will get another batch of China trade data this week and that will show their continued step up in imports of U.S. ag goods. But attention will also be on manufactured goods and on energy products, places where they continue to run well behind the commitments they made in the Phase One agreement. But as those in ag are aware, there were many changes undertaken by China as part of that Phase One agreement. So the imbalances that Tai is referring to would appear to be mostly outside of agriculture. That is not to say that all the U.S.-China trade issues in agriculture have been addressed -- they have not. Matters like biotech and the study of ractopamine as a feed additive are two issues where China has not fully implemented terms of the Phase One agreement. From the Chinese side, they have continued to note the U.S. needs to take some actions like removing the tariffs in place in order to further advance the relationship. And they also take exception to Tai's claims that China's market is not as open as it should be. Bloomberg reported that China's Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao argued that China is continuing to open up its economy despite the challenges of the pandemic, listing a number of areas in which it had reduced controls on foreign investment and trade. Further, he also noted that China was "favorably considering" joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the updated Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that Trump pulled out of days into his presidency. The U.S. also wants to rejoin that pact, but has not yet indicated what kind of changes they would like to see for that to take place. That is yet another area in U.S. trade policy that has yet to be fleshed out. U.S. agriculture export forecasts from USDA have China as the top importer of U.S. ag goods, so agriculture has clearly seen a positive, or mostly positive result out of the Phase One agreement. So we will see. As the Biden administration's trade policy toward China and other countries becomes clearer in the weeks ahead, that will be an important matter to watch ahead, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


Lawmakers Seize on JBS Situation for Potential Actions Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the JBS cyberattack should be met with an effort to make structural changes to the U.S. livestock industry. Grassley said the cyberattack's fallout showed the risks of industry consolidation that has led to a handful of big companies processing the bulk of America's meat. "If you had 10 companies instead of four, or 20 companies instead of four, we'd be less vulnerable if one of them was hacked," said Grassley, who has proposed legislation that he said would require meatpackers to compete more directly on livestock purchases. "It ought to teach us something, that there have been too many mergers," he said. Grassley and some other farm-state senators in March re-introduced legislation that would require beef processors to make at least half of their weekly livestock purchases on the open market, versus through pre-negotiated contracts. Proponents say the requirement would make cattle markets more competitive and improve prices for ranchers. Other senators proposed a separate bill in March that would set regional minimum cash prices for cattle and increase reporting requirements for processors. House Agriculture Risk Management Subcommittee Chair Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said she is looking closely at the cybersecurity threat to the food supply chain. "This was huge," she told Bloomberg. "The plants are mostly back up now, but even temporary closures can have a big impact, and we saw that with JBS." Expect congressional hearings ahead on the JBS cyberattacks.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


USDA Looking to Address Lack of Competition in Livestock Markets USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told Politico the agency is planning several moves in the coming months to improve cattle market transparency and boost meat processing capacity after complaints of extreme consolidation, Vilsack said. The USDA chief recently said that there needs to be more transparency in livestock markets and he would take "aggressive" action on that front. "Obviously the Department of Justice is going to make its decisions, as it should, but what we can do at USDA is figure out ways in which we can provide support for processing capacity," Vilsack told Politico. "We can provide potentially greater price discovery by having more processing capacity--we may have a cash market that is more transparent, more open and therefore more reliable." Vilsack said USDA can also "take a look" at the Packers and Stockyards Act to "make sure that we are able to take action against unfair, deceptive practices." Meanwhile, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official Thursday said that the agency's antitrust division will focus on the ag industry. Richard Powers, the acting assistant attorney general for antitrust, told a virtual discussion organized by Canada's Competition Bureau, "Agriculture is a priority for us moving forward." He pointed to the DOJ investigation into price-fixing among chicken companies, which has so far netted a guilty plea and $107 million fine for JBS's Pilgrim's Pride, and indictments against Georgia's Claxton Poultry Farms and 10 executives.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Sunday evening and early Monday, traders will be checking the latest forecasts, mainly for rain chances in the U.S. 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. This week's crop condition ratings will include soybeans for the first time in 2021. Weather An upper-level low will produce widespread showers across eastern growing areas Monday. Additional showers and thunderstorms are forecast across Texas, the High Plains, and across the Northern Plains, where showers are sorely needed. Storms across the Northern Plains could be strong to severe, but will be isolated where they occur. Hot temperatures will continue to bake northern areas of the country, especially where showers do not occur. Heat and drought stress continue to be major concerns in these areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


Farm Bureau Urging Administration to Address Southern Border Crisis The American Farm Bureau Federation joined all 50 state Farm Bureaus and Puerto Rico Farm Bureau sent a letter to the Biden Administration regarding the country’s southern border. They’re asking the White House to address the surge of undocumented immigrants entering the United States. The increase in illegal immigration is severely impacting farm and ranch families, putting property and personal safety at risk. The letter was sent to the Secretaries of Homeland Security, USDA, and the Interior Department. “We’ve been listening to the concerns of our members and hearing how their livelihoods are being affected by the surge at the border,” the letter says. “Farmers are sharing how their crops and property are being damaged, which is causing financial hardship.” Farm Bureau says landowners are seeing their fences cut, crops destroyed, water sources compromised, vandalism, and litter on their property. The letter points out that local and state border security resources are exhausted and ask the federal government to provide additional resources to secure the border. *********************************************************************************************** House Ag Chair Opposes Biden Tax Proposals House Ag Committee Chair David Scott (D-GA) sent a letter to President Biden regarding his American Jobs Plan and American Family Plan. While he supports the historic nature of the plans, he’s unhappy with some of Biden’s tax proposals to help pay for the plans. Scott says the tax plan will likely hurt farmers even though the tax liability would be put off as long as a farm stays within the same family. “In particular, the stepped-up basis is a critical tool enabling family farming operations to continue from generation to generation,” Scott says in the letter. “The potential for capital gains to be imposed on heirs at death of the landowner would impose a significant financial burden on these operations.” As he understands the exemptions, they would delay the tax liability for those continuing the farming operation until the time of sale, which could result in further consolidation in farmland ownership. That would make it more difficult for young or socially disadvantaged farmers to get into the business. “While I appreciate that the proposal provides for some exemptions, the provisions could still result in significant tax burdens on many family farming operations,” Scott adds in the letter to Biden. ********************************************************************************************** Farmers Paying Higher Rental Rates in Iowa Most farmers in Iowa are seeing a significant increase in what they’re paying for land rents in 2021. That’s according to a new survey from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The “Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2021 Survey” shows that rental rates increased by an average of 4.5 percent, which equates to an increase of about $10 per acre. That’s pushed the total per-acre average rental price to $232. Land considered to be high quality saw an average increase of 3.9 percent from $257 to $267 per acre this year. Medium quality land saw a 4.5 percent increase, going from $223 an acre last year to $233 this year. An ISU Economist says this is the first substantial increase in cash rents since 2013, when rents peaked, and four years of declining rents and three years of relatively stable rents followed. The 2021 cash rent survey is based on more than 1,300 responses from Iowans about typical cash rental rates in their counties for land producing corn, soybean, hay, oats, and other land set aside as pasture. ISU Extension reminds producers and landowners it’s not intended to be a price-setter, but to provide something to share between landowners and tenants as they discuss rental rates in future negotiations. *********************************************************************************************** Registration Open for 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show Registration is now open for the annual Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show. The event is In Nashville, Tennessee, August 10-12, and filled with activities for the entire family. Cattlemen and women from around the country gather for education, entertainment, and excitement. The importance of gathering face-to-face this year is even more important after the uncertainty of 2020. Convention participants have an opportunity to gain insights on market trends during the CattleFax Outlook Seminar, hear a state of the industry update from NCBA leadership, learn about the cattle industry’s role in sustainability, and wander through the NCBA Trade Show. The trade show is the industry’s largest, featuring more than 350 exhibitors on more than seven acres of space. “The convention always brings producers together, but I think this year’s event will mean even more because we get to see people face to face,” says NCBA President Jerry Bohn. It’s recommended that attendees get registered early as housing fills quickly. For more information, go to convention.ncba.org. ********************************************************************************************** 28 Congressional Members Join Letter to U.S. Attorney General Earlier this week 28 members of Congress joined a letter authored by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN) calling for reform of policies impacting U.S. cattle and beef markets. R-CALF-USA says 16 Senators and 12 Representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties, along with an independent, co-signed the letter, calling on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action to protect the nation’s cattle farmers and ranchers from going broke due to inexplicably low cattle prices. The congressional signers represent 23 states are also asking Garland to protect American consumers from paying over-inflated prices for beef at their local grocery store. R-CALF USA President Gerald Schreiber says, “We are grateful to the 28 congressional signers on the Rounds/Smith letter who have identified the key factors hindering cattle farmers and ranchers’ ability to continue providing American consumers with an abundant, safe, and affordable supply of beef.” The letter raises concerns that U.S. antitrust laws are either not being properly enforced or they are “not capable of addressing the apparent oligopoly that so plainly exists in cattle and beef markets.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Still in Search of Infrastructure Deal President Joe Biden will meet again Friday with Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R., W.Va., as the two try to hammer out a deal on an infrastructure package. But Bloomberg reports that the clock is ticking and at least one key lawmaker, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D., S.C., is thinking the effort needs to wrap up even if there is not a deal. Biden has insisted on meeting with Capito on the infrastructure plan, with Republicans having upped their offer to just over $900 billion from an initial offer of around $568 billion. Biden, for his part, has trimmed the hoped-for package to $1.7 trillion versus the initial $2.25 trillion he was seeking. The latest developments saw Biden offer another concession to Republicans on a key issue -- the corporate tax rate. Biden initially proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from the current 21%. The lower level was a result of Republicans' 2017 tax package, and they are totally against digging into that package for savings or revenue to be able to pay for the infrastructure effort. Biden offered a minimum tax rate of 15%. But that concession may have been too much for some Democrats. "We are still negotiating," House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D., S.C., told Bloomberg TV. But, he added, "I don't think we should run the risk of not getting something done because the other side is not cooperating." The minimum 15% tax on U.S. corporations, along with strengthened IRS enforcement efforts, was offered by Biden as a way to pay for the infrastructure package without digging into the 2017 tax law. Even as he offered that to Capito and Republicans, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has insisted that Biden still hasn't given up on raising the corporate tax rate. Under that offer, Bloomberg said, is the concept that companies that have lots of tax credits and deductions would be required to pay at least 15%. The proposal would also increase tax revenues by conducting more audits of rich taxpayers. But a key Democrat is also against that rise in the corporate tax rate to 28% -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D., W.Va. He has emerged as a "king maker" of sorts, being a moderate Democratic lawmaker in the 50 Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Manchin made clear that he favored a corporate tax rate more like 25%. Biden indicated at that point that he was open the negotiations. Manchin's vote is key as without his support, any infrastructure package is unlikely to clear the Senate even if budget reconciliation is used. Meanwhile, Clyburn wasn't ready to say Biden should abandon the efforts with Republicans even as he said they seem to be "shall we say, reticent" to reach a deal. However, he told Bloomberg that he thinks the situation is one where Democrats are thinking they are "running out of time" relative to finding a bipartisan agreement. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., said he has talked to Capito and indicated Republicans are "still hoping to reach a bipartisan agreement with the administration." His hope is that an agreement can be found on infrastructure -- and "fully paid for" -- noting it could be up to $1 trillion in size. But another issue has continued to be raised by farm-state lawmakers relative to other tax provisions suggested by Biden as ways to pay for the package. House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D., Ga., is the latest to express what he called "serious concerns" on how some of the proposed tax changes could affect farmers, ranchers and other small businesses. "While I appreciate that the proposal provides for some exemptions, the provisions could still result in significant tax burdens on many family farming operations," Scott said in a letter to Biden sent this week. The chairman noted that changes to how taxes are levied on inheritances could make it more difficult for farmers to take over family businesses. The loss of stepped-up basis is of particular concern, as he argued while provisions would not mean those inheriting farmland would have to pay immediately, they still could face a large delayed tax bill. Scott's concerns come despite assurances issued by USDA the evening the tax plan was unveiled that farmers would not be affected by the proposed changes. Already, even before the release, opposition from ag interests over proposals relative to increasing the estate tax helped jettison that from the final proposal. And there is also opposition to the proposed ending of using Section 1031 provisions of U.S. tax law for farmers to sell farm ground and buy other farm ground with the proceeds to defer taxes on the sale. But there is another wrinkle in the situation. The rising expectation had been for Democrats to eventually push President Biden to abandon talks with Republicans on infrastructure and use budget reconciliation to move the package through without GOP support. But Politico is reporting that "The Senate's chief procedural referee has effectively killed a workaround Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., eyed as a bonus opportunity to pass President Joe Biden's agenda without Republican support." So we will see. Clearly the Biden administration appears to have underestimated the concerns that those in the ag community would have over the proposed tax provisions. And the possibility that the Senate may not be able to bypass Republicans in the Senate adds another layer to the situation. The bipartisan opposition to the tax proposals are creating a debate that needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


ITA Delays Preliminary Determination on Imports of Organic Soymeal From India The International Trade Administration (ITA) will delay the deadline for a preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation on imports of organic soymeal from India. The investigation was started April 20, and the preliminary determination was originally due June 25. Petitioners in the case made a request to delay that preliminary determination and ITA has now set that as August 30. The request was made to "provide Commerce with sufficient time to analyze adequately all alleged subsidies received by the mandatory respondents during the period of investigation," according to a notice published in the Federal Register. The final determination is still due 75 days after conclusion of the preliminary determination.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


JBS Says Cyberattack Situation Resolved JBS USA, the victim of a cyberattack that prompted the company to suspend activity at most of its U.S. slaughter facilities, said Thursday the situation has now been resolved. JBS USA and Pilgrim's announced that all of its global facilities are fully operational after resolution of the criminal cyberattack on Sunday, May 30. As a result, JBS USA and Pilgrim's were able to limit the loss of food produced during the attack to less than one days' worth of production. Any lost production across the company's global business will be fully recovered by the end of next week, the company said, limiting any potential negative impact on producers, consumers and the company's workforce. "Thanks to the dedication of our IT professionals, our operational teams, cybersecurity consultants and the investments we have made in our systems, JBS USA and Pilgrim's were able to quickly recover from this attack against our business, our team members and the food supply chain," said Andre Nogueira, JBS USA CEO. "The criminals were never able to access our core systems, which greatly reduced potential impact. Today, we are fortunate that all of our facilities around the globe are operating at normal capacity, and we are focused on fulfilling our responsibility to produce safe, high-quality food." The company said it activated cybersecurity protocols, including voluntarily shutting down all of its systems to isolate the intrusion, limit potential infection and preserve core systems. In addition, the company's encrypted backup servers, which were not infected during the attack, allowed for a return to operations sooner than expected. "We would like to thank the White House, the USDA and the FBI for their support in quickly resolving this situation," Nogueira stated.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Grain markets have been jumpy this week and the latest weather forecasts will continue to be closely watched. USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, along with the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls and U.S. unemployment reports. It has been over a week since USDA had an export sales announcement and traders will pause at 8 a.m. to see if USDA can break the silent streak. Weather Temperatures will continue to build well above normal across the northern tier of the U.S. with triple-digit readings indicated for the Dakotas on Friday. Scattered showers will be mostly confined to the East and Gulf Coasts today but there will be a risk of severe storms over the far Northern Plains and into the Canadian Prairies late in the day and overnight. These showers will only be isolated and the heat that exists in the region will worsen drought stress.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


Farmer Share of Food Dollar May Grow The latest federal data shows that the farmers’ share of the average U.S. food dollar increased slightly. The USDA’s Economic Research Service tracks yearly spending by American consumers on food, as well as how much of that dollar is captured by each part of the food supply chain. The agency recently released data for 2019 showing that the foodservice industry continues to claim a growing part of the average food dollar, increasing three percent to 38.5 cents in 2019. Farm production was the only other part of the food chain that saw its share of the food dollar increase, but that increase wasn’t a large one. Wisconsin Farmer Dot Com says the farmers’ share of the food dollar rose from a 25-year low of 7.4 cents in 2018 to 7.6 cents the following year. Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at the University of Wisconsin, says he was surprised by the slight increase after years of decline. “I think part of it was the foodservice side got saturated,” he says. “It couldn’t get any bigger and the farmer share got so low it had to go upward. Once you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.” ********************************************************************************************** POET Ethanol Expands Business by 40 Percent POET announced it has acquired Flint Hills Resources’ entire ethanol business. Reuters says that highlights the largest American biofuel producer’s bet that conventional renewable fuels like corn-based ethanol will play a big role in the push to reduce U.S. carbon emissions. The company says the deal will boost POET’s ethanol production capacity by 40 percent to three billion gallons annually. “Biofuels are one of the best near-term solutions to climate change,” says POET founder and Chief Executive Jeff Broin (Broyne). “We don’t have decades to wait, and biofuels are already here today.” The acquisition includes six biofuel processing facilities that are in Iowa and Nebraska, as well as two terminals in Texas and Georgia. POET, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will now operate 33 biofuel processing operations in eight states. Flint Hills is a refining, biofuels, and petrochemical company based in Wichita, Kansas. It was the fifth-largest ethanol producer in America before the acquisition. The deal will also boost POET’s dried distiller’s grain production to seven million tons a year and its corn oil production to 975 million pounds annually. *********************************************************************************************** Barchart Forecasts a Cut to USDA Corn Yield and Production Numbers Barchart announced its initial 2021 Yield and Production forecasts for U.S. corn and soybeans, which both show a downside risk to the USDA’s projected numbers from its May WASDE Report. The company now says the end-of-season U.S. corn production is forecast at 14.5 billion bushels, with a yield of 173.5 bushels per acre. That’s compared to the USDA production forecast at 15 billion bushels and a 179.5 bushel per acre yield. Barchart’s end-of-season soybean production forecast is 4.3 billion bushels with a yield of 49.5 bushels per acre. That’s compared to the USDA production forecast of 4.4 billion bushels and a yield of 50.8 bushels per acre. A statement from the company says, “Our initial 2021 forecasts suggest potential downside for both corn and soybean production relative to the USDA numbers, and we’re happy to help provide insights like this to the public.” The company releases yield and production forecasts on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season. ********************************************************************************************** New Soybean Seed Trait Delivers on Consumer Preference, Farmer Bottom Line The U.S. soy industry is continuing to drive demand through innovation for soybean farmers and end-users. With funding and support from the soy checkoff, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council is leading the effort to build momentum for SOYLEIC (Soy-LAY-ick), a non-GMO soybean variety containing high oleic trait technology. This variety will give farmers a chance to meet end-user high oleic oil needs for specific markets. “SOYLEIC is the latest example of the value the checkoff brings to soybean farmers by providing research funding investments that result in innovations farmers can put to work right now to maximize profit opportunities,” says Meagan Kaiser, USB Treasurer. “The reliability that U.S. soybean farmers provide can meet end-user demand, expand and strengthen market share in the food industry, and diversify their acres, furthering profitability on the farm.” SOYLEIC seeds are going into about 40,000 acres across 14 states from Georgia to Minnesota during the 2021 growing season. A new website, www.soyleic.com, is now available for more information for farmers, researchers, chefs, and health-conscious consumers. High oleic soybean oil provides increased functionality and contains zero trans-fat. It creates nutritional food for humans and feeds for animal diets while offering a diversified and value-added planting option for farmers. ********************************************************************************************** World Pork Expo Returns Next Week The World Pork Expo makes an official return to the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, June 9-11. The National Pork Producers Council presents the Expo, and this year will mark the 33rd annual event. Thousands of producers and industry professionals will gather to learn about the latest technologies, innovations, enjoy some free pork, and much more. “We’re so excited to gather for the first time since 2018,” says NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “This year’s Expo has an outstanding lineup of seminars, networking opportunities, and more that aren’t to be missed.” The trade show will feature over 700 vendor booths and span more than 30,000 square feet. Companies from North America and around the world will be presenting products and services during the event. The Expo will feature 19 educational sessions, including 13 business seminars to inform attendees about ecosystems, new production systems, climate neutrality, and more. Six Pork Academy seminars will give producers a chance to learn more about nutrition, sustainability, data collection, and more. Attendees who missed the chance to register online can register there at the event by going to the Animal Learning Center. *********************************************************************************************** Competitive Bidding Pushes Land Prices Higher Interest in buying agricultural land continues to grow after a COVID-19 slowdown blanketed the land market in 2020. A Farmers National Company release says farmers are feeling more financially secure because of rising commodity prices and large government payments last year. That is causing farmers to be more aggressive in bidding for additional land than has been the case during the last six years. “Farmland sales prices are up 5 to 15 percent in the past six months, with most of the increase coming since the first of the year,” says Randy Dickhut (DICK-hoot), senior vice president of real estate operations with Farmers National. “Competitive bidding among interested buyers is really pushing land prices right now.” The biggest increases are happening in the Grain Belt and with most types of land. “We’re seeing competitive bidding push prices for good cropland to levels approaching 2014 values,” Dickhut says. “Average to lower-quality farms are seeing stronger selling prices too, while pastureland increases are more modest.” He also says the demand for good farmland is outstripping the supply of available farms for sale.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


Washington Insider: USTR Talks DST But Holds Off Tariffs The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Wednesday announced results of Section 301 investigations of digital services taxes (DSTs) with several countries, reaching the conclusion that the countries' actions were enough to warrant the U.S. to impose sanctions. But, USTR also announced that it would hold off on imposing tariffs on around $2 billion in goods from the countries in question for six months in order to have the issue get worked out in an international forum. USTR found in January that DST actions by Austria, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the UK discriminate against U.S. digital companies, are inconsistent with principles of international taxation, and burden U.S. companies. The list of duties that would have gone into effect was sizable for several countries as they would have targeted goods totaling $887 million worth of UK goods, $386 million of Italian goods, $323 million in Spanish goods, $310 million in Turkish goods, $118 million in Indian goods, and $65 million in Austrian goods. USTR based the levels on what they deemed to be the amount of tax that U.S. companies would have had to pay those countries. So instead of putting the tariffs in place, USTR announced the 180-day suspension is aimed at letting international efforts underway at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Group of 20 (G20) countries to come to an agreement over DSTs. "The United States is focused on finding a multilateral solution to a range of key issues related to international taxation, including our concerns with digital services taxes," USTR Katherine Tai said in a statement announcing the decisions. "The United States remains committed to reaching a consensus on international tax issues through the OECD and G20 processes." However, Tai indicated that the U.S. could still come back an impose tariffs under Section 301 of U.S. trade law "if warranted in the future." A pattern is starting to emerge relative to the Biden trade policy. In areas where they are seeking a deal, they are willing to hold off on imposing new tariffs like the DST issue. They also appear to be willing to suspend tariffs in order to get a deal worked out in other disputes, like the civilian aircraft dispute where the U.S., EU and UK all imposed tariffs that were sanctioned by the WTO. In March, the U.S. and EU and separately the U.S. and UK announced four-month suspensions of the retaliatory actions in the civilian aircraft disputes in order to try and reach a deal. The aircraft dispute has its origins going back some 16 years. Some trade experts question whether suspending the tariffs in hopes of getting a deal will merely provide a period of tariff relief as opposed to getting the issue settled given the length of time and differing officials that have dealt with the issue have come and gone. But their willingness to suspend tariffs is not yet a broad-based U.S. trade policy stance. Take the Section 232 duties on imports of aluminum and steel. Those remain in place and rising numbers of companies and others are calling on the Biden administration to remove those. Their arguments that they are costing U.S. businesses apparently have not reached the point of the administration thinking they could further resolve the steel overcapacity issue if the tariffs were at least suspended for a period of time. That is likely due to the fact they are focusing on China and the overcapacity in steel production that China has built up. It's almost surprising that the tariffs have not been lifted against some U.S. allies in exchange for getting some kind of pledge from those countries that they will get on board and help the U.S. take on China. And then there are the tariffs imposed on China under Section 301 relative to intellectual property. Those tariffs remain in place as do the retaliatory actions that China responded with. And there has been little talk of those tariffs being removed. The Biden administration has made clear those tariffs are not going away soon even as China has called for them to be taken away. So while tariff suspensions are clearly a tool in the U.S. trade policy toolbox, it hasn't been cemented in place as a consistent policy. That makes these trade issues all that more important to follow for agriculture as the sector has been the one hit with tariffs even though their products are not at the heart of the disputes in question. Still, the disputes where these tariff suspensions have taken place will be important to watch, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


China's Liu, US Treasury's Yellen Hold Discussion Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen held a virtual discussion Wednesday morning via video as part of the China-U.S. comprehensive economic dialogue. The discussions took place after Liu last week held discussions with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Liu and Yellen "conducted extensive exchanges on the macroeconomic situation and bilateral and multilateral cooperation, candidly exchanged views on issues of mutual concern, and expressed willingness to maintain communication," according to a report from Xinhua. Both sides agreed China-U.S. economic relations were "very important." The Treasury Department said in a brief statement that Yellen had discussed U.S. plans to "support a continued strong economic recovery and the importance of cooperation on areas that are in U.S. interest," while at the same time "frankly" talking about issues of concern. Yellen noted that she looked forward to further discussions with Liu, the statement said

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


USDA Announces New Cover Crop Component for Crop Insurance USDA this week announced producers who planted cover crops and have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for premium support for the 2021 crop year, part of USDA's broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers (PAP) initiative. The Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP) offers producers crop insurance premium support of $5 per acre, but not more than the full premium owed. Producers who insured a spring crop and planted a qualifying cover crop are eligible for the support. To qualify, producers must file an acreage report with FSA by June 15, a month earlier than the normal crop reporting date of July 15. And, farmers in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa have existing premium benefits for producers who plant cover crops. But USDA said that those producers will receive an additional benefit under PCCP.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets ADP reports on U.S. private sector job growth at 7:15 a.m. CDT Thursday, an early hint of how the May jobs report will go on Friday morning. U.S. weekly jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Energy Department has its natural gas inventory report at 9:30 a.m., followed by the weekly energy inventory report at 10 a.m. CDT, including ethanol production. The latest weather forecasts will be closely watched while USDA's weekly export sales report is pushed to Friday morning. Weather A system will continue to move through the Ohio Valley Thursday with showers from the eastern Midwest down to the Gulf Coast. Scattered showers will continue across Texas as well, but other areas will remain dry. Heat is building across the northern tier of the country with heat advisories currently over Montana and more to come across the Dakotas and Minnesota. The heat will exacerbate dry conditions across the Northern Plains and northern Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


May Ag Economy Barometer Tumbles The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer tumbled significantly in May, dropping 20 points to an index reading of 158. It marks the lowest point for the survey since September of 2020. Producers were less optimistic about both the current conditions and the future of the agricultural economy. The potential for changing tax rules and rising input costs appeared to be top of mind for producers this month and were the primary causes for the barometer’s decline. Of the total number of respondents, 78 percent said they are very concerned that the changes in tax policy being considered will make passing their farm on to the next generation more difficult. Also, 83 percent of producers expect capital gains tax rates to rise over the next five years, and 71 percent are very concerned about the potential loss of the step-up in costs basis for inherited estates. Producers expressed less optimism about their farm’s financial performance this month. The Farm Financial Performance Index declined to 126 from a record high of 138 in April. During May, more producers said they expected to reduce their machinery purchases and construction plans for the upcoming year. One place that farmers remain bullish is farmland values. *********************************************************************************************** NCBA Pushing Congress to Address Areas of Concern The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association led a letter supported by 37 affiliate state cattle associations, urging Congress to address critical areas of concern in the cattle and beef industries. They’re asking leaders of both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to consider swift Congressional action in several areas, such as expanding beef processing capacity. They also want to broaden labor policies to strengthen the beef processing workforce, increase transparency in cattle markets by reauthorizing Livestock Mandatory Reporting, and they want Congress to support industry efforts to reform “Product of the USA” generic labeling. They also want Congress to ensure proper oversight of cattle market players by concluding the ongoing U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into the meatpacking sector. “Cattle producers across the country are frustrated, and with good reason,” says NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “In sale barns and state meetings across the country, we’re hearing the same story of sky-high input costs and intense market volatility.” As much of the country comes out of COVID-19 restrictions, consumer demand for U.S. beef remains strong, and producers have enough cattle to meet the demand. The profits from high boxed beef prices are not being passed on to the producers who supply the live cattle. ********************************************************************************************** USCA Responds to “Beef Market Myths” Report on Capitol Hill A report titled “Common Beef Marketing Myths and Facts” from the North American Meat Institute is being circulated on Capitol Hill. U.S. Cattlemen’s Association President Brooke Miller says the organization appreciates the commitment of U.S. livestock groups to expanding the capacity of the nation’s meat processing facilities. “However, it would be helpful if the meatpacking lobby, too, focused their attention on that goal,” Miller says. “We need proactive solutions at this time, such as research and development of markets for offal and hides, working with trade schools and colleges to recruit skilled labor into the industry, and to address the underlying challenges driving the critical labor shortage across the U.S.,” Miller says the report is neither “proactive nor solutions-oriented.” USCA also says it will continue to champion true price discovery and competition in the cattle marketplace. “We’ll continue to support the Department of Justice in its investigation of the U.S. meatpacking sector,” Miller adds. “In the meantime, we would greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with NAMI on solutions that support a sustainable future for U.S. cattle producers.” *********************************************************************************************** Vilsack Highlights Ag in President’s Budget Proposal Late last week, the White House released President Biden’s proposed budget for the fiscal year 2022, calling for $6 trillion in spending as well as controversial tax provisions. The Hagstrom Report says the president’s budget calls for USDA discretionary spending at $27.9 billion, a 16 percent increase over the previous year. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the proposal calls for $700 million requested for the Reconnect Program to provide access to quality broadband for rural residents. The proposal would invest in critical research and development capacity for farmers. Vilsack says American farmers must be able to compete in world markets to thrive, all while protecting the health of America’s soil and water. The budget request would provide $4 billion for USDA’s research, education, and outreach programs focused on making investments in agricultural research to put science and data-driven tools and American technologies in the hands of farmers. The budget also increases funding for climate-smart agriculture, climate resilience, and clean energy by almost $1.5 billion. House Ag Committee Chair David Scott says he applauds the focus in the budget on important investments in rural America and food systems, particularly in rural broadband. ********************************************************************************************** Crop Insurance Pays Out Premium Benefit for Cover Crops Agricultural producers who have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for a premium benefit from the USDA if they planted cover crops during this crop year. The Pandemic Cover Crop Program, offered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency, helps farmers maintain their cover crop systems despite the financial challenges caused by COVID-19. “Cultivating cover crops requires a sustained, long-term investment, and the economic challenges caused by COVID-19 made it financially challenging for many producers to maintain cover crop systems,” says RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy. “Producers use cover crops to improve soil health and gain other agronomic benefits, and this program will reduce producers’ overall premium bill to help ensure producers can continue this climate-smart agricultural practice.” The program provides premium support to producers who insured their spring crop with most insurance policies and planted a qualifying cover crop during the 2021 crop year. The premium support is $5 per acre, but no more than the full premium owed. All cover crops reportable to FSA are eligible and include cereals and other grasses, legumes, non-legume broadleaves, as well as mixtures of two or more cover crop species planted at the same time. ********************************************************************************************** New Market for U.S. Soybeans Emerging in Africa The U.S. Soybean Export Council is continuing its work to develop new markets for U.S. soy. One of those new regions is Sub-Saharan Africa, the area south of the Sahara Desert consisting of more than 50 countries. USSEC says the region demonstrates a lot of factors that make it a valuable potential soy market. There’s a growing population that exceeds one billion, and it’s expected to double in size by 2050. That makes Sub-Saharan Africa one of the most substantial “frontier markets” in the world. The economic conditions in the region are getting stronger, with the annual GDP growth rates between 2 and 6.5 percent. Projections for the recovery and growth in the region are positive coming out of COVID-19 during 2020. People in the region are also taking steps to address protein deficiency as awareness, knowledge, and investment to combat the shortage continue to grow. USSEC says the African Development Bank Group is working to increase livestock ownership to help fill in dietary gaps and make an impact on nutrition in the region. Soybeans will play a key role in helping produce protein sources like milk, eggs, and fish.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Cyberattack Impacts Major US Meatpacker The ransomware attack that hit global meatpacker JBS affected its Australian and U.S. IT systems, and Politico is reporting that the company has told the White House they think it was a "criminal organization likely based in Russia." And the White House responded to the situation by prodding Russia on the situation, the second such major cyberattack on a U.S. company. "The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals," White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. USDA has reached out to other U.S. meatpackers to alert them of the situation and Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration is seeking to "determine what we can do to mitigate any impacts as they may become necessary." JBS has reduced shifts or shut plants in the U.S. in Greeley, Colorado, Cactus, Texas and Ottumwa, Iowa, as a result of the cyberattack. A statement released by the company indicated it could "take time" to resolve the situation and there could be sales delays as a result. Plants in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Nebraska were also affected. "The company took immediate action, suspending all affected systems, notifying authorities and activating the company's global network of IT professionals and third-party experts to resolve the situation," the statement said. "The company's backup servers were not affected, and it is actively working with an Incident Response firm to restore its systems as soon as possible." Given the supply disruptions that emerged along the U.S. East Coast after the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, there are rising concerns that meat supplies could be interrupted due to the situation. And, if slaughter plants are dark for any extended period, it will back live animals up in the system and reignite supply disruptions that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Already, meatpacking plants have been dealing with labor shortages as worker absenteeism has been running higher than normal. So, the longer any cyberattack-linked shutdowns last, the potential for supply interruptions rises. It potentially has already impacted some daily USDA livestock reports, including the midday updates on wholesale boxed beef and pork reports. USDA said the reports were delayed due to "packer submission issues." This also raises another potential issue as more and more automation has been deployed in meatpacking facilities. Those systems are computer driven, and if computer systems are down, that could also play a role. And that raises yet another issue for things in the future if the industry continues to shift toward more automation and less human involvement in the processing of pork, beef and poultry. But this situation has revealed once again that computer networks remain a vulnerable point across several areas of the U.S. economy. These attacks will continue to keep the issue in focus, but it is not clear how fast government can respond to be able to do much more than retroactively get involved in the situation. As lawmakers continue their focus on consolidation in the U.S. meatpacking industry, this adds one more area of focus to the calls by lawmakers like Sen. Chuck Grassley, R., Iowa, and others for congressional hearings on the matter. JBS is the world's largest meatpacker and it controls around 25% of all U.S. beef capacity and roughly 20% of its hog slaughter capacity. Plus, they are also a major poultry market player with the Pilgrim's Pride business. And some retail deliveries of product there have already been reported. So, we will see. These two cyberattacks have continued to signal that bad players in the world are still at it and by tapping into two key areas of the U.S. economy -- food and energy -- it creates a situation that needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


Dairy Margin Coverage Payments Triggered Again in April Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) payments were triggered again in April as the difference between the national all milk price and the national average feed cost (margin) was below several of the producer-selected margin triggers. The national margin for April was $6.94 per hundredweight (cwt), triggering DMC payments for those that elected Tier 1 margin coverage levels from $7 per cwt to $9.50 per cwt, and for those with Tier 2 margin coverage levels from $7 per cwt to $8 per cwt. The payments range from $0.06 per cwt for those with $7 margin coverage to $2.56 for those with $9.50 per cwt margin coverage. As of May 17, USDA said that an estimated $344 million had been paid out to dairy producers opting for the DMC program. Payments have been triggered for January-April this year.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Closes to New Applications The federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) closed to new applications Friday as funding was on track to be exhausted. That marked the end of a $961 billion emergency effort that helped millions of small businesses survive the pandemic but included fraud claims and criticism that it did not reach the neediest businesses. The program had been scheduled to end on May 31, but the Small Business Administration on Friday said in a notice to lenders that "due to the high volume of originations today, the portal will be closing for new originations that evening." U.S. ag interests also fought details of the program in order to be considered eligible for the aid, and there were ag-specific enrollment opportunities during 2020 that afforded farm businesses to tap the aid.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders will keep close watch over the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. The only official report on Wednesday's docket is the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, due out at 1 p.m. The Energy Department's weekly inventory report is moved to Thursday, due to this week's holiday. Weather A system moving through the Ohio River Valley will bring showers to the southern and eastern Midwest down to the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday. More isolated to scattered showers will continue across the Southern Plains as well. But heat will continue to build across the Pacific Northwest and into the Northern Plains over the next few days. The heat will continue to exacerbate the ongoing droughts and lead to further damage to wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Regional Farm Credit Conditions Improving Further strengthening of the U.S. ag economy bolstered farm credit conditions in the first quarter of 2021. A Federal Reserve survey of agriculture credit conditions shows farm loan repayment rates continue to improve rapidly. After many years of growing financial stress and weakness in the ag economy, bankers reported that farm income was higher than a year ago for the second consecutive quarter, and demand for farm loans weakened. Interest rates on farm loans remained at historic lows during the quarter. Along with the better financial conditions, the lower interest rates helped to support widespread increases in farmland values. Stronger markets for most of the major commodities have led to higher prices and expanding profit opportunities across the sector in recent months. With the help of robust government support due to COVID-19, ag sector conditions have led to a rapid improvement in farm finances. While prospects aren’t as strong in the cattle industry, and drought continues to stress producers in many areas of rural America, the overall outlook for farm income and credit conditions remained significantly improved from recent years. ********************************************************************************************** Brazil Drought Worst in 91 years Brazil faces its worst drought in 91 years, causing the government to issue a drought alert. Late last week, an agency that’s a part of the Brazil Mines and Energy Ministry recommended the country’s water regulator to recognize a state of “water scarcity” after a prolonged drought-hit central and southern parts of the Parana (Pah-RAHN-yah) River basin. Financial Post Dot Com says a weather monitoring agency that’s part of the Agriculture Ministry issued its first “emergency drought alert” for June through September, saying that rains are likely to remain scarce in five Brazilian states during that period. The lack of rain across Brazil is hurting their agricultural commodities, livestock, and electricity generation as Brazil relies heavily on hydro dams for power. Drier-than-normal weather is especially hard on the second-corn crop, sugar, and coffee. Coffee futures recently hit a four-year high as traders are concerned that drought could even affect the 2022 crop. As they try to deal with the trouble, the Mines and Energy Ministry announced measures aimed at adjusting water levels that supply the country’s hydro dams to try and prevent power shortages. *********************************************************************************************** Corn Exports Sales Jump While Bean and Wheat Sales Fall Corn sales to overseas buyers rose while beans and wheat sales dropped during the seven days ending on May 20. The USDA says corn sales totaled 555,900 metric tons, up from almost 278,000 metric tons a week prior. Mexico was the big buyer at just over 378,000 metric tons, while China bought 168,000. The USDA report says unnamed countries canceled shipments worth 70,500 metric tons. Sales for the 2021-2022 marketing year that begins on September 1 were reported at 5.69 million metric tons. China bought 5.64 million tons, followed by Panama at just shy of 132,000 tons. But the agency says large cancellations expected during the week ending on May 20 didn’t materialize. Exports for the week hit 529,000 tons, down seven percent from the prior week. Soybean sales dropped 34 percent from the previous week, coming in at 55,900 metric tons. That number was 65 percent lower than the previous four-week average. Indonesia was the top buyer at 74,900 metric tons. For the 2021-22 marketing year, sales totaled 248,300 tons as Mexico bought 162,500. Exports totaled 294,600 tons, down 12 percent from the previous week. Wheat sales for delivery in the 2020-2021 marketing year that ended on May 31 fell 76 percent to 29,500 metric tons. ********************************************************************************************** Argentina Cattle Producers Ban on Sales Continues Argentina ranchers are protesting the government’s decision to suspend beef exports by halting their sales of cattle. One of the country’s beef producer associations announced the halt will continue through Wednesday, June 2. The sales strike began several days ago when the country said it will ban beef exports for 30 days because high food inflation has caught the attention of officials ahead of the mid-term elections in Argentina. Groups protesting the decision issued a statement saying, “The policy path chosen by the government will not achieve the stated goal of lowering domestic meat prices.” Reuters says the export ban pushed agriculture groups to halt the trading of livestock as tensions continue between the country’s farm sector and government, which is dealing with a forecast of consumer price inflation at 50 percent this year. Farm groups in Argentina are asking the government to address inflation by printing fewer pesos. A source from the Argentina Meat Exporters Consortium tells Reuters that, “There is a permanent dialogue with the government. The problem is we can’t find a solution.” Argentina exported over 897,000 tons of beef in 2020, which was worth 2.7 billion dollars. ********************************************************************************************** EPA Opens Application Period for Grants Dedicated to Sustainable Pest Control The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting applications for a 1-million-dollar grant initiative through the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program. The program, according to the EPA, encourages smart, sensible, and sustainable pest control in agriculture. Through the grants, EPA will support projects that explore innovative practices, technologies, education, and non-regulatory solutions that adopt integrated pest management strategies. While traditional pest control involves the routine application of pesticides, IPM focuses on pest prevention and only using pesticides as needed. EPA’s Michal Freedhoff says, “The work done under these grants supports the agency’s goal of providing a cleaner and healthier environment for all Americans.” EPA anticipates awarding approximately $1 million in total federal funding to support ten projects – one from each EPA region. Applications must be submitted by July 9, 2021, to get considered. The partnership program has previously invested nearly $4 million annually. Awarded projects will start in the fourth quarter of 2021. Grant applications can be sent online at www.grants.gov. *********************************************************************************************** NCBA/PLC Disappointed with Prairie Chicken Ruling The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council expressed their disappointment in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency decided to move forward with the Endangered Species Act Designation for the Lesser Prairie Chicken. The decision designates two Distinct Population Segments of the species. The Northern DPS is southeastern Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and the northeast Texas Panhandle, where the birds will be listed as “threatened.” The Southern DPS that covers New Mexico and the southwest Texas Panhandle will now list the species as “endangered.” NCBA and the PLC say the decision to implement restrictive ESA protections for the species after decades-long conservation partnerships directly cuts the incentive to continue effective public-private partnerships. “The scientific data supports our belief that voluntary conservation work led by producers is the most effective way to provide stability for the birds and their habitat,” says Kaitlynn Glover, NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and Executive Director of the Public Lands Council. “After years of successful voluntary conservation efforts and the development of meaningful partnerships, the ESA designation of the Lesser Prairie Chicken is severely disappointing.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Overtures From Europe Bloomberg is reporting that the European Union (EU) is now seeking to mend the fences with the U.S. and seeking to rekindle what is typically a strong relationship. The EU has sent President Joe Biden "a proposed joint statement to smooth over recent conflicts and give a boost to the trans-Atlantic alliance to confront China and Russia," the report noted. The new offering from the EU seeks to move the U.S.-EU relationship beyond trade disputes and address tariffs imposed during the Trump administration that have applied to more than $18 billion in goods. The effort is with an eye on an EU-U.S. summit in Brussels on June 15. The draft argues that shared values and interests will help both sides meet "unprecedented global challenges." The EU, according to Bloomberg, said in the document that they will "closely consult and cooperate on the full range of shared challenges and opportunities in the framework of our respective similar multi-faceted approaches to China." That, no doubt, is music to the ears of the Biden administration as they have publicly been seeking to enlist other countries and trading partners in addressing issues with China. But the EU did not stop at China, as Bloomberg said the document also addressed Russia. "We stand united in our principled approach towards Russia and we will respond decisively to its repeating pattern of negative behavior and malign activities," the document said. That has become another thorny situation for the Biden administration to deal with in the initial stages of Biden's presidency. Expectations for Biden's first foreign visit as president are that the two sides will seek to establish closer cooperation on China, Russia and no doubt the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 situation. And timing is key -- Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva the next day after his session with the EU. But this is hardly a surprise. The EU has been making conciliatory gestures for the last several months, including their agreeing to a four-month hiatus of the tariffs each have imposed over the large civilian aircraft disputes involving Airbus and Boeing. And contained in that announcement was a clear mention of the two wanting to address China's actions. The two partners need to address "the trade distortive practices of and challenges posed by new entrants to the sector from nonmarket economies, such as China." And the EU and China have seen a rise in their tensions. In March, Bloomberg noted, China retaliated against Western sanctions over human rights in the Xinjiang region by announcing measures against 10 individuals and four entities from Europe. And EU lawmakers have committed that as long as China has sanctions on those officials, the bloc will not ratify an investment agreement between the two. Of course, the document is still subject to change, Bloomberg pointed out, but currently said the two want to "join forces to prevent and peacefully resolve conflicts, uphold the rule of law and international law, and promote human rights for all." But there are also challenges in this desire by the EU to have a closer relationship with the U.S. For example, global tax issues remain a sensitive subject from both sides and a reading on that issue will come when G7 finance ministers meet at the end of the week ahead of the G7 summit next week. Plus, look for climate change to be another area where both will seek to broaden their relationship. But there is a hot political potato for President Joe Biden in that document, as Bloomberg pointed out it includes statements on "discouraging investment in fossil fuels, including coal, and calling for a phase out of unabated coal in energy production." That one will be a major test for Biden as oil-state lawmakers already view themselves as being somewhat under attack by the administration in early decisions. So, we will see. This effort by the EU to again become more closely aligned with the U.S. is a strategic move on their part as they seek to end trade tensions between the two sides. But agriculture will still need to watch this relationship closely as even if some of the most-recent tensions are addressed, there are still a laundry list of ag trade and other topics that remain unresolved, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Lawmakers Probe USDA General Counsel Nominee on Several Issues The key topic at a hearing last week for USDA General Counsel-nominee Janie Simms Hipp was concerns that meatpackers are using their market power to drive down prices paid to producers. Several GOP senators led by the panel's ranking member John Boozman, R., Ark., were joined by Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D., Mich., in calling for a hearing on the matter to "look for solutions," Stabenow stated. Hipp said that she needs an economist and a scientist "at my elbow" to inform her about the technical issues in agriculture. Regarding biofuels, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D., Minn., asked Hipp if she would defend the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the Environmental Protection Agency. Hipp promised she will be "a big voice at the interdepartmental table."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Stabenow Calls for USDA to Implement COVID-19 Relief Provisions Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D., Mich., is urging USDA to swiftly implement provisions included in the two latest coronavirus relief bills to protect food and farm workers and increase the resiliency of the U.S. agricultural supply chain. In a May 25 letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Stabenow highlighted the supply chain provisions of the American Rescue Plan as well as programs in the consolidated appropriations bill intended to increase food assistance and safeguard workers from COVID-19. Language in the two measures provided a combined $5.5 billion to USDA for those efforts. "As USDA begins to implement these investments, I encourage the Department to take swift action and use creative approaches to help farmers and families recover from the pandemic," Stabenow wrote in the letter. Stabenow also highlighted the capacity of some existing programs at USDA to help make the supply chain more resilient and flexible in the face of large-scale disruptions. "Allocating a portion of the funding toward programs like the Healthy Food Financing Initiative and the Local Agriculture Market Program Regional Partnerships will help ensure we are reaching all facets of the supply chain to improve food access and respond to COVID-19," she wrote.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Trading in U.S. grain futures resumes Monday evening at 7 p.m. CDT and traders will be paying close attention to the latest weather forecasts and any reports of freeze damage over the weekend. On Tuesday, ISM's index of U.S. manufacturing is set for 9 a.m. and USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. USDA's Fats and Oils report will have a soybean crush estimate at 2 p.m., followed by Crop Progress and the first report of U.S. corn crop conditions at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather June begins on a dry and very warm note in northern and central crop areas. Rain will focus in the far southern Plains and portions of the Delta. Excessive heat adds to dryness stress in the western and northwestern crop areas as well. The seven-day outlook features heavy rain south, moderate amounts in the southeastern Midwest, and little to no precipitation for drought areas of the northern Midwest, Northern Plains and the Northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


USDA Forecasts Record Farm Exports in FY 2021 The Department of Agriculture projects U.S. farm exports for 2021 at $164 billion, the highest on record. USDA announced its quarterly agricultural trade forecast this week. The results represent an increase of $28 billion, or 21 percent, from last fiscal year’s total, and a $7-billion increase from USDA’s previous 2021 forecast published in February. The annual export record of $152.3 billion was set in 2014. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the estimate "shows that our agricultural trading partners are responding to a return to certainty and reliability from the United States." Key drivers of the surge in exports include a record outlook for China, record export volumes and values for several products, sharply higher commodity prices, and reduced foreign competition. China is poised to be back on top as the United States' number one customer, with U.S. exports forecast at $35 billion, eclipsing the previous record of $29.6 billion set in 2014. *********************************************************************************** Stabenow Urges USDA to Implement Food and Ag Supply Chain Provisions Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow urges the Department of Agriculture to implement American Rescue Plan provisions to protect food and farm workers. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Stabenow states the American Rescue Plan "included resources so that the people who power our food and ag supply chain are protected and have the resources they need to stay safe and keep the shelves stocked." In the letter, Stabenow highlights supply chain provisions of the legislation, as well as programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, including measures to increase purchases of food for donation, supply chain infrastructure investments and others. Additionally, Chairwoman Stabenow highlighted the capacity of some existing programs at USDA to help make the supply chain more resilient and flexible in the face of large-scale disruptions. Stabenow writes, "This is also an opportunity to better prepare the food supply chain in the event of a future disruptive event.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Not Appealing Court Decision on Pork Slaughter Line Speeds The Department of Agriculture will not appeal a federal district court ruling on faster line speeds in slaughterhouses. USDA told the Hagstrom Report that only the Justice Department can make a decision about the appeal. The comments came less than a day after the National Pork Producers Council urged USDA to intervene in the matter before the ruling takes effect at the end of next month. NPPC cites an analysis by an Iowa State University economist that shows the ruling will result in a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide and more than $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers. However, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union praised the response from USDA. The union represents over 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers. UFCW International President Marc Perrone says, “UFCW is calling on CEOs across the pork industry to work with the USDA to slow their line speeds.” ************************************************************************************ Perdue Documents Ag Confined Space Injuries Purdue University's Agricultural Safety and Health Program recently released the annual 2020 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities report. The program reported 64 fatal and nonfatal cases involving agricultural confined spaces, including 35 grain entrapments, seven falls into or from grain storage structures, four asphyxiations and 12 equipment entanglements. The total number of cases represents a 4.5 percent decrease from the number documented in 2019, exceeds the five-year average and the number of reported mining-related fatalities in 2020. The report says, “there is a direct correlation between out-of-condition grain and an increased likelihood of worker exposure to entrapment situations.” Further, the report reminds farmers to never enter a grain bin with evidence of crusting on the surface or within the grain mass. If the grain is crusted or the floor outlets are plugged, contact a professional grain salvage service that has the equipment and experience to remove out-of-condition grain. ************************************************************************************ ASA Announced Wool Assurance Website The American Sheep Industry Association launched the American Wool Assurance website last week at AmericanWoolAssurance.org. The website allows American sheep producers to take a crucial step in certifying their wool through a voluntary, American industry-driven certification process. The American Sheep Industry Association worked with Colorado State University the past two years to develop the voluntary program and standards that will allow manufacturers to purchase American wool with confidence that the animals producing that wool have been raised with a high level of care. Industry input from producers, shearers, buyers, extension, animal welfare experts and processors was critical in the development of program standards. ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson states, “This is something that consumers and brands are asking for increasingly, and so it has become important to retailers, processors and wool buyers in recent years.” ASA says Sheep producers interested in earning certification should go to AmericanWoolAssurance.org and sign up as soon as possible. ************************************************************************************ NCBA to Honor Cattle Feeder Hall of Fame Inductees in August Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame inductees and award winners will be honored in August. The event, August 9, will precede the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, to be held in Nashville, Tennessee. The Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame was established in 2009 to honor the exceptional visionary men and women who have made lasting contributions to the cattle-feeding industry. Inductees for 2021 are Johnny Trotter, president and CEO of Bar-G Feedyard in Hereford, Texas, and Steve Gabel, founder of Magnum Feedyard in Wiggins, Colorado. Dr. Gary C. Smith, visiting professor in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, will receive the Industry Leadership Award. George Eckert with Green Plains Cattle Company in Garden City, Kansas, and Gaspar Martinez with Harris Feeding Company in Coalinga, California, will receive the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award. Information on the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, including tickets to the 2021 Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame banquet, can be found at convention.ncba.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US, China Talk Trade U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held discussions Wednesday evening, the first such session between the two since the Biden administration took office. The session was labeled candid on trade issues between the two sides. Tai discussed the Biden administration's guiding principles on trade policy and her continuing review of the U.S.-China trade relationship in a virtual meeting, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) said. And Tai said she expected further discussions with Liu ahead. No doubt future discussions, depending on timing, will center on the review of U.S.-China policies that USTR is conducting. A review that is still underway, so timing of the next Liu/Tai discussion is not yet certain. All Tai has said so far about the Phase One agreement is that her view is “mixed” on the agreement that included purchase commitments made by China for manufactured goods, energy and of course agricultural commodities. From the Chinese side, their Ministry of Commerce described the call as “candid, pragmatic and constructive.” Outstanding issues include tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump and U.S. sanctions against Chinese companies. The latter is one where the U.S. is not alone as several other countries have been targeting Chinese firms as well. What has not been given any mention publicly is the situation where the U.S. and others are putting restrictions on imports of cotton/textiles from Xinjiang over the issue of the Uyghur minority. Many outside of China say the Uyghurs are being subjected to forced labor, something China vehemently denies and there have been numerous articles in Chinese state-run media that seek to counter the allegations being made by the Western World. But even before Tai and Liu spoke, lower-level discussions took place Tuesday night. Chinese trade staffers on that call also called on the U.S. to roll back remaining tariffs on Chinese products. During the call, the Chinese stressed the importance of tariff rollbacks as a necessary component of next steps in the relationship. It is important that Liu was the point person on the call as there had been talk of him being replaced in the role that saw him negotiate the Phase One agreement with Robert Lighthizer, USTR under President Donald Trump. In letting Liu, President Xi Jinping's right hand on the economy, speak with Tai, the Chinese leadership is signaling the continued importance of the economic relationship to Beijing. When it comes to the Phase One agreement, many continue to point out that China is running behind its two-year purchase commitments under the deal. Both Chinese and U.S. data indicated that to be the case. But agriculture has done better than the other sectors relative to the purchase targets. Long-time trade folks have pointed out that the purchase commitments are kind of the “shiny object” in the deal. Several U.S. commodity interests point to other components of the Phase One agreement as being perhaps even more important. Indeed, those other matters are things that deal with sanitary and phytosanitary issues, some of the biggest areas where trade problems arise. Of the more than 55 policy changes that China committed to on agriculture trade, some 50 of those have been implemented. And some have had an immediate impact. Take the agreement between the U.S. and China that was announced in February 2020 where China cannot block all poultry imports from the U.S. in the event we have a bird flu outbreak. China halted its imports of U.S. poultry in 2015 after the bird flu outbreak, and only agreed to reopen its market under the Phase One agreement. Less than two weeks after that agreement was announced on the regionalized approach to poultry trade issues, the U.S. confirmed a case of bird flu in turkeys in South Carolina. The result was China only blocked poultry from South Carolina, not all of the U.S. The other that many point to is China now accepts export certification for meat and poultry plants by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service. That has meant more than 4,000 plants can now ship product to China, up from around 1,500 before the Phase One deal. The changes made by China are important in that they cover not only trade under the Phase One agreement but they put in place changes that will govern future ag trade between the two sides. And that increased trade between the two sides spurred by the Phase One agreement helped push USDA to raise its forecast for U.S. ag exports in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to a record $164 billion. The U.S.-China relationship is a key one and it is one that has rising tensions as a component. It does not appear that China wants to walk away from the Phase One agreement, but they are pushing the “new” administration on the issue of tariffs, tariffs that got them to the table to negotiate the deal in the first place. So we will see. U.S. agriculture has clearly benefitted from the Phase One agreement. Perhaps not as much when viewed from the purchase commitments. But when the other critical changes that China has taken governing trade in agricultural products are considered, it is a relationship that so far is a sizable benefit to U.S. agriculture. But the China-U.S. relationship is a delicate one and must be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


Biden Budget Arrives Today The Biden administration's Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget arrives today and contains hefty spending for FY 2022 and lots of budget red ink. For agriculture, the key focus will be on what the plan offers for a spending plan at USDA and what kind of spending increases for areas like conservation that might be included. The focus there will be on what kind of signals, if any, the administration opts to send relative to using those programs to address climate change. With the Democrats in control of the House and Senate, it ups the odds the Biden budget plan will be able to get through. But there will be changes as lawmakers often want to put their own stamp on certain areas of any spending plan. Even the budgets proposed by the Trump administration were not adopted lock, stock and barrel when Republicans held both the House and Senate.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


USDA To Work With Hog Plants That Will Need To Slow Line Speeds USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said the agency will not challenge a court ruling which vacated a portion of the “New Swine Slaughter Inspection System” (NSIS) relative to line speeds at hog processing plants. “The Court vacated the rule only insofar as it eliminated the maximum line speed cap for NSIS establishments,” FSIS said of the decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. “The other provisions of the final rule were not affected by the Court's decision.” The court issued a 90-day stay to give plants time to adjust, FSIS said. “At this time, establishments operating under NSIS should prepare to revert to a maximum line speed of 1,106 head per hour on June 30, 2021,” the agency said. “We will work with the establishments to comply with the Court's ruling and minimize disruptions to the supply chain.” Those supply chain disruptions were cited by the National Producers Council (NPPC) as they called on USDA to appeal the decision. They pointed to an economic analysis showing the ruling would mean a 2.5% loss in pork packing capacity and an $80 million drop in income for producers. The group also said they will continue to “pursue all avenues” on the matter.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday is the final trading session ahead of a three-day weekend celebrating Memorial Day. Grain prices could be volatile Friday with several weather factors at play and forecasts closely watched. A report on U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. Grains and livestock close at their normal times Friday. Grains will next trade at 7 p.m. CDT on Monday evening. Weather Friday brings an unseasonal dose of freezing cold to the northern Plains and far northern Midwest, with possible damage to crops. Meanwhile, light to moderate rain is in store for the eastern Midwest, which will offer favorable crop moisture. We'll also see a swath of rain extend into the Delta and southeastern Plains. Other crop areas will be dry. Showers will work into the western and central Plains during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


National FFA Organization Picks New CEO The National FFA Organization and the National FFA Foundation have new leadership after picking Scott Stump as the new CEO of both organizations. Stump lives on a small ranch in Colorado with his wife, Denise, and their three children. He has a background in agricultural education, career and technical education, and the FFA. He received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from Purdue University. “it’s with great anticipation that I return to National FFA in this leadership role,” Stump says. “I know from personal experience as a student and as a parent the positive difference FFA makes in the lives of students across this nation.” Stump also says he looks forward to working with FFA’s talented national staff, committed board members, state and local leaders, and supporters to advance and expand the organizations’ collective impact. Ronnie Simmons, Chair of the National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees, says they’re excited to welcome Scott Stump to their team. “Scott brings decades of experience to the table, having been a part of FFA and agricultural education at nearly every level, including as a student member, classroom teacher, state staff, and national staff,” Simmons says. Stump replaces Mark Poeschl, who resigned in January after leading the organization for five years. *********************************************************************************************** Groups Ask Court to Vacate Trump Water Rule Environmental groups have asked a federal court to vacate the Navigable Waters Protection Act enacted during the Trump Administration. The motion for a summary judgment comes as the Biden administration continues to review the existing water rule. DTN says the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League filed the motion in a South Carolina U.S. District Court. They asked the court to vacate the rule based on what they call undisputed facts, including what they say has been lost protection for U.S. waters. In its motion, the Coastal Conservation League says the Army Corps of Engineers has been “flooded” with requests to get approved jurisdictional determinations securing the right to “pollute or fill newly excluded streams and wetlands free of the Clean Water Act’s permitting regulations.” They say in the past year that the law has been in effect, the rule’s threat to the nation’s waters has already been profound. However, agriculture groups support the current rule because they say it simplifies questions about the Clean Water Act jurisdiction that farmers face on their land. The groups call the Trump-era rule an “arbitrary policy reversal” that removed the Clean Water Act’s protections for millions of miles of streams and tens of millions of wetland acres. ********************************************************************************************** NBB Happy with Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Proposal The National Biodiesel Board thanked a bipartisan group of senators and representatives for introducing the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2021. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Reps Cindy Axne (D-IA) and Mike Kelley (R-PA) introduced the legislation that would provide the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry certainty for an additional three years. It would support continued growth in the U.S. production of better, cleaner fuels that are reducing carbon emissions now and boosting rural economies. “As Congress looks to jumpstart economic growth, rebuild infrastructure, and reduce carbon emissions, they can count on biodiesel and renewable diesel to help achieve those goals,” says Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. “Biodiesel and renewable diesel are on average 74 percent less carbon-intensive than petroleum diesel and have cut more than 140 million tons of carbon emissions since 2010.” The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industries support 65,000 jobs in America and more than $17 billion in economic activity each year. Biodiesel production supports approximately 13 percent of the value of each U.S. bushel of soybeans. “The biodiesel tax credit continues to be extremely successful in expanding consumer access to clean, low-carbon fuels,” Kovarik adds. ********************************************************************************************** Iowa Coalition Reminding Biden of His Biofuels Promise Iowa lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack asking them to support the biofuels industry and seeking information on how proposed tax changes will affect farmers. The senators and representatives sent the letter to remind Biden that he promised to promote renewable fuels, including ethanol, to support rural America. The letter points out that despite the promise, the administration’s proposed infrastructure bill would spend $174 billion to subsidize electric vehicles while hardly mentioning the biofuel industry. A Successful Farming article said when the plan was introduced in March, Ag Secretary Vilsack announced that the president’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan, known as the American Jobs Plan, would include money toward increasing the production of biofuels. The Iowa lawmakers say they want the president to recognize that biofuels can be used as a permanent energy solution to help decarbonize the transportation sector. “Biofuels should not be treated as a transition fuel but prioritized as a fuel of the future,” the letter says. The lawmakers also state in the letter that they want data from the USDA showing how a proposed change in the tax law affecting capital gains taxes would affect farm estates. *********************************************************************************************** Foundation for Agriculture Awards Ag Literacy Grants The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture awarded $9,500 in grants to ten communities that are creating new ways to educate the public about agriculture. The end goal of each grant is to help communities with the funding they need to help people of all ages understand agriculture and the important role it plays in their lives. “The Foundation for Agriculture is pleased to highlight these ten communities that are bringing innovative agriculture literacy ideas into the classroom,” says Daniel Meloy, the foundation’s executive director. “The grant program is an exceptional way for educators, volunteers, and other leaders to get started on or expand an ag literacy project.” The criteria for selecting winners included the effectiveness of demonstrating a strong connection between agriculture and education, how successfully the project enhances learner engagement in today’s food, fiber, and fuel systems, as well as the timeliness and processes for accomplishing project goals. The foundation gave grants to recipients in Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, and South Carolina. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Initiative to Quantify Climate Benefits of CRP The USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced an initiative to quantify the climate benefits of the Conservation Reserve Program contracts. The multi-year effort will enable USDA to better target CRP toward climate outcomes and improve existing models and conservation planning tools while supporting USDA’s goal of putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change. "CRP is a powerful tool for implementing voluntary, measurable conservation outcomes to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” says FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-sheh-know). “Nearly 21 million acres are currently enrolled in the program that prevents the equivalent of more than 12 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.” He also says further quantifying program benefits will allow the agency to better target CRP to achieve continued climate wins across environmentally sensitive lands while strengthening their modeling and conservation planning resources for all producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fed Says Taper Talk Coming The U.S. central bank is poised to start at least talking about when it will start to adjust its monetary policy as the U.S. economy continues to climb from the depths of the pandemic. The Federal Reserve has set the target range for the key Fed funds rate, the interest rate that governs costs of borrowing across the economy, at a range of 0% to 0.25%, in a bid to provide low-cost money so that the economy can recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fed is also purchasing some $120 billion in bonds in a bid to keep interest rates low. As the economy recovers, a reduction or tapering of those bond purchases is expected as the Fed's first action to tighten monetary policy as it seeks to not let the economy grow too fast to spur inflation that would cause damages across the economy and curtail economic activity. For months, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has said it is not yet time for the Fed to start “talking about talking about” tapering the bond buys. That comment he made months ago has become a source of questions nearly every time he has met with reporters, and he has maintained that it is not yet time for that to happen. But that time is getting closer. The April 27-28 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the meeting of Fed officials where they set monetary policy, indicated that to be the case. The recap of the meeting issued last week noted that FOMC members thought that if the U.S. economy continues to make strong progress, “it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases.” That is “Fed speak” for talking about tapering. This mention is important because coming out of the financial crisis, the Fed also embarked on purchasing securities/bonds in a bid to keep interest rates low. A comment from then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in congressional testimony that the Fed was talking about reducing those bond buys spooked investors and roiled stock and financial markets, a response that was called the “taper tantrum.” Bernanke responded by emphasizing over and over in following appearances that the Fed was not ready to take such a step. In fact, the Fed did not take that action for several months after Bernanke's comment. Powell, it seems, learned from the Bernanke experience. That is why he has taken grate pains to emphasize that the Fed does not think things have reached a point where the bond buys need to be reduced. Powell also pledged that when the Fed does take such a step, it will not be a surprise to markets. He wants to avoid another “taper tantrum” from unfolding in the markets. So, based on the minutes from the April meeting and comments from Fed officials in recent days, we're getting closer to the discussion taking place on tapering those bond purchases. This sets the stage for the U.S. central bank to tighten its easy monetary policy. That will mean borrowing costs will start to increase. That will start a new chapter for the U.S. economy as it will start to increase costs for consumers to do many things, like buying a home, buying a car, and using credit cards and more. So we will see. The process of raising interest rates has begun as the economy recovers. And, it means that agriculture will be seeing a rising cost component in the form of higher interest rates. While any increases are not expected to be large, this is still situation which needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


USDA Ups Grocery Store Price Outlook Upward revisions to food at home (grocery store) price forecasts for several food categories prompted USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) to up their forecast rise in grocery store prices to an increase of 1.5% to 2.5% in 2021 versus 2020--the midpoint is right in line with the 20-year average of 2.0%. Overall food price inflation is still forecast at 2% to 3% (2.4% 20-year average) with food away from home (restaurant) prices seen rising 2.5% to 3.5% (2.8% 20-year average) from 2020 levels. So far this year, overall food prices are up 1.7% from the same period in 2020, with grocery store prices up 1.2% and restaurant prices up 2.4%. “Forecast ranges for meat categories, poultry, eggs, dairy products, fats and oils, and fresh fruits were also revised upward,” USDA noted, with only fish and seafood forecasts left steady with the month-ago outlook. “Forecast ranges for cereals and bakery products, nonalcoholic beverages, and other foods were revised downwards” compared with USDA's month-ago forecasts. “The meat and poultry price increases were driven by high feed costs and strong domestic and international demand,” USDA said. “In addition, winter storms and drought disrupted the beef supply, and high prices for sows dampened pork production.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans Want USDA Analysis On Tax Plan Republican members of the Senate Agriculture Committee are calling on USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to make public a detailed explanation and any supporting economic analyses that clarifies how the Biden administration's proposed tax increases will affect farm estates. The panel's Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., authored a letter to Vilsack that questioned USDA's analysis of President Joe Biden's proposed changes in capital gains tax rates and the modification to stepped-up basis on America's family farms and ranches. The letter specifically asks for an explanation of how USDA arrived at the conclusion 98% of farm estates will not be impacted by the proposed tax changes. “The proposed tax impacts are dependent on a number of factors, including but not limited to appreciation in farmland assets prior to a property owner's death, size of the farm operation and associated assets, income of the heirs, and the farm's ownership structure. Given these factors, we are writing to seek a detailed explanation and supporting economic analysis clarifying how these tax provisions will affect farm estates, including specifically how USDA arrived at the conclusion that fewer than 2% of farm estates will be impacted by the proposed tax changes,” the senators wrote.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims, durable goods orders for April and first-quarter U.S. GDP are all set for release at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, along with an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department reports on natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. The International Grains Council's monthly supply and demand estimates are also due out Thursday morning. Even with all of Thursday's reports, the latest weather forecasts get top attention. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the northern and western Midwest and portions of the Northern Plains Thursday. This includes areas which were bypassed by recent rainfall. We'll also see some light snow in colder air. The rain moves into the eastern Midwest and southern Plains later Thursday with a broad area of severe storm potential in the southern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


USTR Begins USMCA Dispute Panel on Dairy Trade with Canada U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai Tuesday announced the U.S. has requested and established a dispute settlement panel under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement regarding dairy trade. The request seeks to review measures adopted by Canada that “undermine the ability of American dairy exporters to sell a wide range of products to Canadian consumers.” The U.S. is challenging Canada’s allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas, specifically the set-aside of a percentage of each dairy TRQ exclusively for Canadian processors. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded, “This is an important step for American agriculture and one that brings the U.S. dairy sector closer to realizing the full benefits of the USMCA.” Vilsack adds the action “puts our other agricultural trading partners on notice that they must play by the rules.” Praising the announcement, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern states, “Canada has failed to take the necessary action to comply with its obligations under USMCA by inappropriately restricting access to its market.” *********************************************************************************** Senate Finance to Consider Clean Energy for America Act. The Senate Finance Committee Wednesday (today) will consider the Clean Energy for America Act. The legislation introduced last month will overhaul the federal energy tax code. Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon states, “The federal tax code is woefully inadequate to address our energy challenges.” The legislation consolidates current energy tax incentives into emissions-based provisions that incentivize clean electricity, transportation and energy efficiency. The incentives would be available to all energy technologies if they meet emissions reduction goals. The bill provides long-term incentives for battery and fuel cell electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging. It also provides a technology-neutral tax credit for domestic production of clean transportation fuel that are at least 25 percent cleaner than average, with clean fuels required to reach net-zero by 2030 to qualify. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says the bill “simplifies our tax code and shifts tax incentives away from oil and gas to clean energy,” adding the change is long overdue. *********************************************************************************** NPPC: Federal Judge Ruling Disastrous for Small U.S. Hog Farmers Left unchallenged, a recent federal district court ruling will result in a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide, according to the National Pork Producers Council. NPPC says the ruling would reduce income by more than $80 million for small U.S. hog farmers. NPPC is urging the Department of Agriculture to intervene before the ruling takes effect at the end of next month. The federal court’s decision struck down a provision of USDA’s New Swine Inspection System allowing for faster harvest facility line speeds. NPPC says the court's ruling will have the opposite effect sought by those seeking to expand the number of meatpacking plant facilities. Lawmakers have recently called for increasing the number of pork processing facilities nationwide by bringing smaller state plants up to federal inspection standards. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, “With the stroke of a judge’s pen, the lives of many hog farmers will be upended if this misguided ruling takes effect.” ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Applauds Senate Push for Transparency on Refinery Exemptions Farm state Senators recently reintroduced the Renewable Fuel standard Integrity Act. Senators Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, and Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, reintroduced the legislation as a companion to House legislation introduced in February. The bipartisan proposal would require small refineries to petition for Renewable Fuel Standard hardship exemptions by June first of each year. Currently, EPA does not provide any deadline for refiners submitting a request for a small refinery exemption. The change would ensure that EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations it sets each November. Senator Duckworth states the bill would "bring much-needed transparency to the waiver process and prevent it from being misused to benefit billion-dollar oil companies at the expense of hardworking Americans again." Biofuels groups welcomed the bill. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, "This legislation provides long-overdue transparency for requests to avoid blending more low carbon renewable fuels that are key to America's low-carbon future." ************************************************************************************ Organic Sales up During Pandemic U.S. organic sales soared to new highs in 2020, jumping by a record 12.4 percent to $61.9 billion. The increase marked the first time that total sales of organic food and non-food products have surpassed the $60 billion mark, according to the Organic Trade Association. The organization released the data as part of its 2021 Organic Industry Survey. In almost every organic food aisle, demand jumped by near-record levels, propelling U.S. organic food sales in 2020 up a record 12.8 percent to a new high of $56.4 billion. In 2020, almost six percent of the food sold in the United States was certified organic. The COVID-19 pandemic caused consumer dollars to shift almost overnight from restaurants and carry-out to groceries, with traditional staples and pantry and freezer items flying off the shelves. Consumer habits were upended, online grocery shopping and grocery deliveries exploded, and new products were tried as families ate three meals a day at home. ************************************************************************************ JBS, Pilgrims, Announce Free Community College Tuition Program for Rural America JBS USA and Pilgrim's this week announced the launch of Better Futures. The effort is a free-of-charge, two-year college tuition program providing more than 66,000 company team members and their dependent children the opportunity to pursue their higher education dreams. Better Futures removes a major financial barrier to college attendance and stands to become the largest free college tuition program in rural America. JBS USA and Pilgrim's advisors will also help team members, many from first-generation American families, navigate the application process, which can be a deterrence to people applying to college for the first time. To be eligible, JBS USA and Pilgrim's team members need only to have worked with the company for the last six months and remain in good standing with the company through completion of their education. College tuition is paid upfront by the company. If there is a facility where a college is not conveniently located, the companies will provide an online community college option.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fights Ahead in Carbon Accounting As the focus on carbon emissions rises, there figures to be new battles looming on carbon accounting, according to the Bloomberg Green Insight newsletter. The start examining the issue by looking at the claim Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made in April that the country had cut its emissions by 19% in 2019 compared with 2005 levels. He made the announcement during the climate summit organized by President Joe Biden. Bloomberg labeled his claim on emissions reductions as "an attempt to burnish his country's coal-stained image." But digging deeper, the Green Insight author Ashkat Rathi said that the figures touted by Morrison was merely an accounting trick. Turns out, it was a neat accounting trick. "Australia has made minimal progress towards net zero and its emissions trends are among the worst in the developed world," a new study from the Australia Institute concluded. The study said that the reduction claims made by Morrison was only possible to get to if the land-use sector is included -- forests, agriculture and other related emissions. Taking those items out of the mix, the study said, Australia's emissions from fossil-fuel use and industry increased by 6% in 2018, relative to 2005. The big focus is on fossil fuels as their contribution of emissions, something which Bloomberg said is something that only can happen over the course of decades, according to Pep Canadell, chief research scientist at CSIRO's climate science center. But those emissions from land-use areas are certainly important. The Global Carbon Project said that the land-use sector added some 6.5 billion tons of emissions in 2019. To put that in perspective, that is about 20% of the emissions from fossil fuels for 2019. But therein lies another key issue. Experts agree that measuring emissions from land use are not easy and the measurements used on emissions reductions are largely based on avoiding a hypothetical polluting activity. Those emissions are going to be key in the climate change debate. Those also figure high on the list of things that will be focused on at the COP26 in Glasgow in November, Bloomberg said. That COP26 confab will see countries seek to come up with ways to agree on rules for the Paris Agreement to create a new carbon market to help the public and private sectors trade those offsets. Presumably, that would also provide the basis for pricing those credits, another key factor in the process. "The goal of the market is to reduce emissions, but without clear accounting and strict regulations there's a big risk of greenwashing," Bloomberg said. One of the terms that figures in the mix is "avoided deforestation," that is based on the concept that the world will have to avoid cutting down forests in order to meet climate goals. So to measure avoided deforestation, there will have to be a baseline of deforestation established. If, for example, that would be set at 1%, then if the rate of deforestation falls by 0.5% then those developing the projection can create offsets based on the 0.5% of emissions avoided because some trees weren't cut down. Those offsets could then be purchased by those who need such credits to "reduce" their carbon emissions. But that also leaves the situation rife for the potential for "greenwashing" of figures and manipulating baselines by sellers to create a big batch of credits. That sets up a situation where those that need to buy the credits could obtain them at a cheaper price. Then there is the potential for double counting. Bloomberg said that could arise as a company could delete emissions from their own accounts and a country could conceivably also cancel those same credits for that country. And Bloomberg said that is a real situation. "One of the reasons Article 6 negotiations have failed at previous COP meetings is reportedly because Brazil objected to the phrase 'double counting' appearing in the rulebook governing the new carbon market," Bloomberg said. So we will see. This situation could become a major issue ahead, particularly the matter of double counting and greenwashing and more. And agriculture figures prominently in the mix, particularly on land-use emissions. This creates a series of discussions and debates that agriculture will need to follow closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


NPPC Weighs In On Court Decision On Pork Plant Line Speeds A recent ruling by a federal judge would be "disastrous" for small U.S. hog farmers, according to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). Left unchallenged, a recent federal district court ruling will result in a 2.5% loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide, and more than $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers, according to an analysis by Dr. Dermot Hayes, an economist with Iowa State University. NPPC is urging USDA to intervene before the ruling takes effect at the end of next month. The ruling, NPPC said, "will dramatically reduce hog farmer market power--particularly smaller producers located near impacted plants--and undermine pork industry competition." NPPC said the court's ruling will have the opposite effect sought by those seeking to expand the number of meat packing plant facilities. Lawmakers have recently called for increasing the number of pork processing facilities nationwide by bringing smaller state plants up to federal inspection standards. These facilities represent less than 1% of total harvest capacity.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


Mexican Judge Rejects Bid to Freeze Mexico GMO, Glyphosate Plans A request to freeze a government plan to ban imports of GMO corn and glyphosate by 2024 was rejected by Mexican Judge Martin Adolfo Santos Perez, marking the latest of what Mexico's National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) said have been 17 legal challenges of the order issued by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The latest action was brought by the National Farm Council (CNA). The group argued that it is concerned "radical and unscientific interpretations" of the planned bans will stoke uncertainty. CONACYT has been directed to come up with an alternative to glyphosate. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has said he has continued to discuss the issue with his Mexican counterpart and has indicated that the ban on GMO corn could apply only to corn used for food as opposed to feed, but the issue is not clear at this juncture.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts continue to get close attention Wednesday and we'll watch for an export sale announcement, but there haven't been any export sales reported since Thursday. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report is set for 9:30 a.m. CDT and includes an update of ethanol production after it broke above 1 million barrels per day last week. Weather Showers and thunderstorms are in store for much of the eastern Midwest along with the central and western Plains Wednesday. Storms are capable of producing locally heavy rain in these areas, including flash flooding. Severe storms are also likely with a threat of hail, high winds and tornadoes. Other areas will be dry. Frost potential is also featured in the far northern Plains Wednesday night

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


JBS Exits NCBA JBS has left the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as the group is taking a closer look at market consolidation. NCBA, along with other livestock and general farm organizations, met recently to discuss livestock market concerns. And lawmakers have requested the Department of Justice continue, and provide an update on, its cattle market investigation. Politico reports JBS suspended its membership to NCBA last year as part of an internal review. Now, JBS is no longer a member of NCBA, but company officials say they expect to remain involved with the group. In response to the lawmaker’s effort, NCBA’s Ethan Lane stated last week, “We have a high supply of cattle at one end of this equation and a high demand for U.S. beef at the other, but the middle is being absolutely choked by the lack of processing capacity.” Known as the big four, Tyson, JBS, Cargill and National Beef process more than 80 percent of U.S. beef. *********************************************************************************** Bill Would Give USDA Authority over Rural Broadband House lawmakers last week introduced the Broadband for Rural America Act. The legislation would put the Department of Agriculture in the driver’s seat for rural broadband rather than the Federal Communications Commission. Georgia Republican Representative Austin Scott mentioned last week, "The FCC’s had their chance, and they haven’t gotten it done.” The bill is one of several infrastructure proposals from House Republicans. Scott says the legislation will provide new investments for USDA connectivity programs to bring high-speed internet infrastructure to rural communities. Specially, the bill would authorize $3.7 billion per year for rural broadband programs, including the ReConnect Rural Broadband Program, the Middle Mile Broadband Program, and the Innovative Broadband Advancement Program. The legislation would also target assistance focused on the most rural and least-connected residents, which are often the most expensive to connect. Finally, the bill aims to promote borrower accountability and protect taxpayers with new tools to ensure promised services are delivered to rural communities. ************************************************************************************ Organic Valley Announces Low Carbon Footprint Dairy on Path to Carbon Neutrality Phase one of Organic Valley's dairy life cycle assessment evaluated on-farm greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms using different management practices. The results are in, and farming practices of Organic Valley farmers have a measurable benefit for the planet, reinforcing the cooperative's commitment to bringing ethically made organic food to families. University of Wisconsin-Madison's assessment reveals that, on average, the dairy farms of Organic Valley's members have a smaller carbon footprint than average U.S. conventional and organic dairy overall. The most significant difference in calculations of the carbon footprint of Organic Valley milk is in the inclusion of carbon sequestration from pasture as well as from forage and crop production. Including carbon sequestration in the LCA reduced the net farm emissions of the cooperative's dairy farms by an average of 15 percent. In addition, on average, Organic Valley farmers report engaging in 50 percent more pasture grazing than that required by the National Organic Program. ************************************************************************************ Real Organic Project Meets with Secretary Vilsack Farmers of the Real Organic Project met with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week, discussing what the group calls the “organic problem.” The meeting followed a letter sent to Vilsack last month signed by 43 former members of the National Organic Standards board. The farmers told Vilsack, “the National Organic Program is in serious trouble because of the failure of the USDA to uphold the integrity of the Organic Standards.” The standards board is intended to represent a broad spectrum of interest groups. However, the group alleges, “The choices by the USDA are often skewed, with mid-level Agribiz managers oftentimes taking a farmer position.” In the last eleven years, the program has failed to successfully bring a number of key recommendations to rulemaking. The group’s April letter states, “This failure has led to real damage to trust in and the integrity of the organic program, as the NOP has failed to respond to serious challenges to the meaning of organic from industry.” ************************************************************************************ AEM Offers Insights on High Machinery Sales The Association of Equipment Manufacturers says there are several factors driving the current machinery sales trends. In the first quarter of 2021, total farm tractor unit sales are up more than 50 percent in the U.S., and nearly 60 percent in Canada. AEM’s Curt Blades says, “We're operating in a very interesting market right now.” Over the last 12 months, there’s been a rise in under 40 horsepower, or small tractor sales. Blades says, “This is due largely to a lot of the industries that have done very well during the pandemic." Small tractors fall into that category as well as sales are spiking largely in suburbs with larger lots to help homeowners with improving the property. However, starting later in 2020, larger row-crop and articulated 4WD tractors have also enjoyed increasing sales success. Blades adds, “Tractor sales are strong, commodity sales are particularly good, and optimism is at an all-time high in the farming community." ************************************************************************************ USA Rice: USDA Acreage Forecast Higher than Actual Acres Planted USA Rice says the Department of Agriculture’s acreage forecast for rice is higher than the actual acres planted. The USA Rice World Market Price Subcommittee met last week, to discuss supply and demand, rice stocks, and projected plantings. Subcommittee members from all six rice states reported expectations that actual plantings for 2021 will be significantly lower than those estimated by USDA in the March projected plantings, with a total projected difference of 15 percent less acreage, due to a range of weather issues. Following the Subcommittee meeting, Chair Keith Glover and USA Rice staff met with teams from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Economic Research Service, and World Agricultural Outlook Board departments. Glover provided feedback from Subcommittee members regarding NASS statistics, and reviewed the areas where members thought changes could be made. Glover states, “As always we were happy to meet with USDA to pass on input from our World Market Price Subcommittee.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Infrastructure Negotiations Continue The White House has lowered its price tag on an infrastructure package to $1.7 trillion, down from an initial package of $2.25 trillion, as efforts to find bipartisan agreement on infrastructure spending continues. Republicans had offered up a $568 billion package which some Democrats dismissed immediately as woefully short of what is needed. Indications are Republicans may be willing to bump their offer up by some $250 billion, but even that may not be enough to win much support among Democrats. The offer to Republicans, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, was made “in the spirit of finding common ground.” The offer, she noted, “exhibits a willingness to come down in size.” While the size of the package is one objection from Republicans, the other is how the administration wants to pay for the plan. One of the key ways to pay for the administration's package is an increase in the corporate tax rate to 28% from the 21% that Republicans put in place via their 2017 tax package. But touching the GOP tax package is a non-starter for many Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said as much last week. “If they're willing to settle for a targeted infrastructure bill without revisiting the 2017 tax bill, we'll work with them,” McConnell said, but he noted a package of $2 trillion or more “is not going to have any Republican support.” Republicans, on the other hand, have suggested paying for their package in part by tapping unspent funds from the massive COVID-19 aid package. Other money could come from uncollected tax revenue or public-private partnerships. But Biden has continued to meet with Republicans even as those in his own party are warning him not to let Republicans just negotiate for an extended period of time. But that does not appear to be the case – that Biden will let the negotiations drag on for weeks or months. Biden will “change course” on the infrastructure plan if he can't get bipartisan support, White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told CNN's State of the Union. "He wants a deal. He wants it soon, but if there's meaningful negotiations taking place in a bipartisan manner,” Richmond said. “He will not let inaction be the answer. And when he gets to the point where it looks like that is inevitable, you'll see him change course.” That change in course is going the reconciliation route which would allow Democrats to move the infrastructure deal forward without needing to have 60 votes in the U.S. Senate. Another factor which is chafing some on the Hill are items included in what is labeled infrastructure. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has been involved in the negotiations with the White House, and said the price tag is one thing but that reflects the amount of various issues that are included. But this situation is unfolding as other countries around the globe are investing in their infrastructure. Brazil, for example, has focused their attention on improving the infrastructure for their soybean industry. Brazil's infrastructure minister has predicted a boom in development of the nation's highways, railways and airports on the back of $50 billion in investment in concession projects by the end of next year. “Brazil will become an immense construction site,” Tarcisio Gomes de Freitas told the Financial Times. “With the planned concessions, by the end of 2022, $50 billion will have been contracted in investments for the modernization of airports, ports, highways and railways. In other words, the equivalent of more than 30 years of the public budget for infrastructure,” he said. Indeed, Brazil has put $10 billion into an array of projects that include airports, seaports, rail lines to reach into the interior of Brazil and more. But Brazil is also looking at the infrastructure effort with an eye on climate change. The country current sees some 65% of their distribution system in trucking and only 15% by rail. Freitas said that connecting the interior of the country with Amazon River arteries would reduce up to 1 million tons of carbon dioxide. Brazil has production costs for their soybean that are very favorable compared with the U.S. But it's getting their crops to export channels that is their biggest cost factor. And they look at infrastructure as not only addressing that situation but also making their country more eco-friendly. Here in the U.S., infrastructure was hoped to be one of the topics that could find Republicans and Democrats working together. But so far, that hope is not being materialized, at least not to the point where the two sides are ready to put a package together that can get votes from both sides of the aisle. And that is part of the irony. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that infrastructure is something that benefits all Americans and it is not a partisan matter. Few can disagree that the nation's roads, bridges and rail system along with the lock and dams on the Mississippi River that move ag products to export locations are sorely in need of updates. Yet getting to that point where all can agree is moving at a slow pace. And that slow pace is coming while our foreign competitors continue to invest in what it takes to move their ag products in particular to export to the rest of the world. We shall see. If budget reconciliation ends up being the route for infrastructure spending, it will keep the fractured Washington in place. And that is something agriculture needs to monitor closely as they produce the crops, livestock and other ag products that would benefit considerably from improving the farm-to-market system, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


Steel and Aluminum Import Tariffs Remain in Focus The Section 232 tariffs imposed on imports of steel and aluminum by the Trump administration are still in place and the Biden administration has not yet signaled they are ready to lift or alter those duties. A union and various steel industry groups are calling for President Joe Biden to keep steel tariffs in place. Leaders of seven groups wrote a letter last week addressed directly to the president on behalf of U.S. steel producers, fabricators, and workers emphasizing the impact that Trump's 2018 steel tariffs had on their industry. They said that the move was necessary because surges in steel imports threatened nearly 2 million domestic jobs. “Since the tariffs took effect, American steel producers have announced plans to invest more than $15.7 billion in new or upgraded facilities -- investments that are now beginning to bear fruit in the form of permanent, family-sustaining steel jobs and economic activity that supports communities across the United States,” the letter said. Meanwhile, the UK government has indicated it will put new tariffs on imports of U.S. wine, chocolate and lobsters as it rebalances the list of goods it will target for import duties the U.S. imposed on imports of steel and aluminum. The British trade ministry said the new tariffs would be aimed at "the needs of the UK economy and shaped to defend industries across the UK." No specific tariff rates were mentioned and the list published reflected a six-week consultation with businesses and other stakeholders.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


State Lawmakers Urge USDA to Conduct Another Beef Checkoff Vote A new producer referendum on the Beef Checkoff is being called for by 131 state lawmakers from 11 states. In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the lawmakers said the $1-per-head assessment needs to be voted on again by producers. “This tax was voted on in 1985 under the auspices that the money raised would go to promote exclusively USA beef,” said in their letter. “Unfortunately, that money is being funneled away from its original intent and is being used by private associations and entities that do not exclusively represent USA beef.” It is not clear whether USDA will act on the request and whether there would be enough producer support for altering the checkoff if it were put to another vote by producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday starts with attention on the latest forecasts and any export sales news that might arise. At 9 a.m. CDT, there are reports on April new home sales and a consumer confidence index in May. Weather Tuesday will bring scattered shower and thunderstorm activity to the central and southeastern Plains, central Midwest, far Northern Plains, Northwest, and Canadian Prairies. Rainfall will be mainly light; however, some locally heavy amounts are possible in the Plains storms. Other areas will be dry. Strong winds are also in store for the northern Plains during the afternoon.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


USDA Announces Plan for Black farmer payments The USDA says it plans to make debt relief available to Black farmers. The announcement came one day before Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack participated in a roundtable discussion with Black farmers in Georgia. A spokesman says Vilsack will be traveling to other states to discuss the plan in the weeks ahead. Late last week, the Farm Service Agency published the first notice of funding availability for loan payments for eligible borrowers who have qualifying direct farm loans under the American Rescue Plan. “The Plan has made it possible for USDA to deliver historic debt relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers beginning in June,” Vilsack says. “USDA is recommitting itself to gaining the trust and confidence of America’s farmers and ranchers using a new set of tools provided in the American Rescue Plan.” The Plan authorizes funding and authorization for the FSA to pay up to 120 percent of direct and guaranteed loan with outstanding balances as of January first of 2021. He says the tools are designed to increase opportunity, advance equity, and address systemic discrimination in USDA programs. To learn more about the loan payments to socially disadvantaged farmers, go to www.farmers.gov/americanrescueplan. *********************************************************************************************** SD/MN Senators Ask Colleagues to Sign onto Meatpacking Letter Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN) wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding the state of the U.S. meatpacking industry. They asked him to enforce or examine America’s antitrust laws to restore fairness in the marketplace for cattle producers and are asking their colleagues in both the House and Senate to sign the letter. The Hagstrom Report says the letter was released last week by R-CALF USA, which is launching an effort to get 200 members from both chambers of Congress to sign the letter. Producers want to know why boxed beef prices are rising while the prices they get for their cattle are stagnant. During an R-CALF USA Facebook Live event held last week, Rounds said it’s vital for producers to let consumers know about the industry’s issues. He’s also asking R-CALF members to put the letter out in front of consumers outside of their home states. South Dakota is one of nine states where livestock outnumber people. Rounds says those states support more market transparency, but those same states make up just five percent of the country’s population. Rounds says meatpackers currently sit in the middle of the situation, noting that the industry is controlled by only four companies. ********************************************************************************************** Reps Ask Biden Administration to Utilize USMCA Enforcement Measures A bipartisan group of representatives sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding dairy and the U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement. They’re asking the administration to move ahead with enforcement measures negotiated in the USMCA to support U.S. dairy farmers. A key part of the USMCA agreement was the promise of new export opportunities for America’s dairy industry, including the introduction of fairer trade rules to ensure American-made dairy exports can compete on a level playing field. The coalition says it’s crucial that the Administration hold U.S. trading partners accountable to their tariff commitments. So far, Canada hasn’t taken actions to alter its dairy tariff-rate quotas to bring them into compliance with the USMCA. That undermines the ability of American dairy farmers and producers to sell a wide range of products to Canadian consumers. The representatives say the immediate use of enforcement measures is necessary to ensure Canada delivers on their obligations in a way that’s fully consistent with the agreement. “USMCA made key advancements for our dairy farmers,” says Representative Ron Kind (D-WI). “However, I’ve long said trade agreements are only as strong as their enforcement, and we need to make sure our trading partners live up to their end of the deal.” ********************************************************************************************** Coalition Defends Gray Wolf Delisting A coalition of agriculture and forestry groups filed court motions in defense of delisting the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act. Three cases filed by environmental and animal welfare groups in California challenge the final delisting ruling issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last November. The coalition is defending the delisting because it recognizes the successful recovery of the wolf and enables responsible wildlife management and protection of private property by farmers, ranchers, and forest resource users. The coalition provided the court with personal stories that illustrate the harm inflicted by unchecked wolf populations on livestock ranchers and farmers, natural ecosystems, and other wildlife. A Minnesota farmer stated in the filing that he lost 26 calves in a single year to gray wolves. Groups in the coalition include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Forest Resources Council, the American Sheep Industry Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Public Lands Council. Since being listed under the ESA in 1974, the gray wolf has exceeded recovery goals by more than 300 percent. This has been a runaway success story, with uncontrolled populations now threatening livestock and rural communities across the country. *********************************************************************************************** Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour Finishes Last Week The Wheat Quality Council’s 2021 Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour finished up last week. The total weighted average yield estimate was 58.1 bushels per acre, a likely tour record that DTN says far surpasses USDA’s national yield projection of 52.1 bushels per acre. It’s the highest tour yield estimate in 19 years and the best in the event’s history, which stretches back over 40 years. The tour made 250 stops in multiple fields, most of which were in Kansas. They did visit several fields in southern Nebraska and northern counties in Oklahoma. Kansas is the nation’s largest winter wheat producing state, and Kansas farmers planted 7.3 million acres last fall. Harvest will get underway in June. Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin says recent rainfall greatly helped to improve crop conditions after a dry early spring. He also says good prices prompted many farmers to closely monitor their crops for disease pressure and spray fungicides to keep the crop healthy. He was also quick to credit improved wheat genetics in helping plants better endure stress, such as drought. “Mother Nature has been good to the crop over the past two weeks with rain,” Gilpin tells DTN. “The yield estimate is a testament to wheat breeders and better genetics.” ********************************************************************************************** NCGA Soil Health Institute Will Close The Soil Health Partnership, a project of the National Corn Growers Association, is scheduled to close the doors for good on May 28. John Mesko, the groups senior director, says SHP has accomplished its original mission of determining the economic and environmental impact of conservation practices and communicating the importance of soil health to farmers and the agriculture community. “Despite our good work, the empirical on-farm research that SHP conducted is expensive,” Mesko says. “Add to that our high level of farmer-facing support, with field staff covering 16 states and a bona fide research and data analysis staff, and the current cost of SHP exceeds the existing levels of support.” In carrying out the mission, Mesko says they developed the best-in-class farm research protocols, farmer engagement strategies, and an elite suite of communication channels to tell the story. They also released key findings that included 2019 and 2020 cover crop planting reports, two published research papers, held several important webinars, and a study on the economic impact of conservation practices on farms.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Escalation in US-Canada Lumber Dispute The U.S.-Canada dispute over softwood lumber appears to be heading to an escalation. Bloomberg reported that the U.S. Department of Commerce issued new preliminary rulings on antidumping tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports that would double the current duties if implemented. The International Trade Administration calculated a preliminary duty of 18.32%, but the current amount of 8.99% is in effect as there has not been a final determination, a Commerce official said Friday. The final determinations will not be in place until later in the year. But the report will no doubt catch the attention of many in trade circles, particularly in Canada. But this is only the latest chapter in what has been a seemingly decades-long battle between the two sides. Both sides have traded trade actions over softwood lumber. Canada took a complaint to the WTO and in 2019, the world trade body said the U.S. had violated international trade rules in the way it calculated tariffs on Canadian imports of softwood lumber. That resulted in the current duty level of 8.99% which went into place in November, a trim from the level of 20.23% that had been in place. British Columbia has been the most vocal in the situation. "We find the significant increase in today's preliminary rates troubling," Susan Yurkovich, president of the British Columbia Lumber Trade Council, said in in a statement. "It is particularly egregious given lumber prices are at a record high and demand is skyrocketing in the U.S. as families across the country look to repair, remodel and build new homes." A big portion of U.S. lumber imports comes from British Columbia. As for the preliminary increase, the U.S. Lumber Coalition welcomed the development. "A level playing field is a critical element for continued investment and growth for U.S. lumber manufacturing to meet strong building demand to build more American homes," Jason Brochu, co-chair of the coalition, said in a statement. The National Association of Home Builders has urged the Biden administration to negotiate a new trade deal with Canada to secure supplies and halt further hikes, Bloomberg said. But the situation is not only a concern in Canada but also in the U.S. as the current duties have pushed up lumber prices at a time when residential construction has been on the rise. Low U.S. interest rates have translated into low mortgage rates. And with a low supply of homes on the market, new construction efforts have been rising. Permits to build new homes have been posting strong increases at an annualized rate each month even as the level of starts is not coming close to the potential level that would be signaled by permits. That is in no small part as lumber prices have risen dramatically. There has been a roughly 300% increase in lumber prices the past year. In fact, some builders and construction firms are bidding construction or addition jobs on a labor-only basis, saying that the materials cost will be what it costs. If the higher duties go into effect, that will cause another rise in building costs for renovations, remodelings, additions and new construction. Already, the higher lumber prices are prompting some to hold off on such projects, but the potential increase in tariffs on Canadian lumber could cause some to "bite the bullet" and go ahead with on-hold projects in a bid to get them rolling before even higher costs are seen. The situation has been interesting on the policy front. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told lawmakers she was eager to reach a softwood lumber agreement with Canada, being well aware of increased costs seen on the U.S. side of the border. But she also told lawmakers recently that Canada was not interested in any such agreement. But then after the Free Trade Commission meeting last week between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng told reporters she wanted to reach an agreement with the U.S. on softwood lumber. It is not clear why there appears to be a disconnect from the top trade officials in the two countries. But it is a disconnect that so far has not reached the point of the two sides setting time to sit down and discuss the matter in detail. So we will see. The current tariffs have boosted lumber prices at an inopportune time on this side of the border. It would be an accomplishment by Tai and the Biden administration if they were to put this dispute behind them with some kind of a resolution. But the length of time this dispute has run, positions may not be as easy to change. But it is a trade matter that agriculture needs to watch closely as it feeds throughout the U.S. economy and an escalation could prove damaging to the U.S.-Canada relationship on several fronts, Washington Insider believes, as history has shown that other sectors outside of those at the heart of a dispute can get snared as collateral damage.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


Appropriations Timing Set In House House Appropriations Committee action on the one dozen Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 spending bills is planned for a three-week period around the July Fourth recess, according to a report from CQ RollCall. Subcommittee markups would start June 24 and run through June 28--before the chamber exits July 1 for its break. A final subcommittee markup would be held July 12. In the full committee, markups would be held from June 29-July 1, with work resuming July 13-16. Given the timeline that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has laid out of wanting to get all the spending measures through the House by the August recess, it may mean several of the bills could be packaged together. Several hearings on FY 2022 budgets for various agencies are on tap this week and more will be coming after the Memorial Day break. So far, the FY 2022 USDA budget hearing has not yet been scheduled in either chamber.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


USDA Sets Payouts to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers in Motion USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) has released the initial notice of funding availability (NOFA) for eligible borrowers with direct loans under the Farm Loan Programs (FLP) or Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) programs authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). "FSA will pay 120% of direct loan balances outstanding as of January 1, 2021, for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers," the agency said. A subsequent notice addressing guaranteed loans and remaining loan balances will be published within 120 days of the initial NOFA that is expected to be published this week. All eligible direct loan borrowers are included in the initial NOPA "except those who no longer have collateral or an active farming operation," FSA said. "These borrowers often have more complicated cases and may not have the same opportunities to invest in their farming operation to manage tax liabilities. FSA expects these cases to account for approximately 5% of eligible direct loan borrowers. Procedures for payments to these borrowers will be addressed in a subsequent NOFA, which also will include eligible guaranteed loan borrowers." "Eligible Direct Loan borrowers will begin receiving debt relief letters from FSA in the mail on a rolling basis, beginning the week of May 24," FSA announced, with the agency indicating that effort will run through June. Those receiving the letters have to sign and return it to FSA. In June, FSA said it would begin to process signed letters for payment. "About three weeks after a signed letter is received, socially disadvantaged borrowers who qualify will receive 20% of their total qualified debt by direct deposit which may be used for tax liabilities or other fees associated with payment of the debt." Those payments will be issued on a "rolling basis," FSA noted.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


Markets Traders will catch up on the latest forecasts by Sunday evening and be attentive to any export sales news that arises. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT. USDA's monthly cold storage report will be out at 2 p.m., followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. with new crop ratings for winter and spring wheat. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store Monday in the far Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies, offering more needed moisture. We'll also see light showers in portions of the central and southeastern Plains. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal, with notable heat in the Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will catch up on the latest forecasts by Sunday evening and be attentive to any export sales news that arises. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT. USDA's monthly cold storage report will be out at 2 p.m., followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. with new crop ratings for winter and spring wheat. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store Monday in the far Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies, offering more needed moisture. We'll also see light showers in portions of the central and southeastern Plains. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal, with notable heat in the Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Court Vacates Midnight Refinery Exemptions Biofuel groups hailed an order from the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacating three small refinery exemptions granted to Sinclair the day before President Biden’s inauguration. The decision came promptly after the Environmental Protection Agency filed a petition asking the court to overturn the waivers on April 30. Sinclair responded on May 18 that it didn’t oppose the EPA request. “We’re pleased the court has vacated these improperly granted waivers and is sending them back to EPA for reconsideration,” says Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “If these exemptions had been allowed to stand, they would have erased RFS blending requirements for 260 million gallons of low-carbon renewable fuels.” He says it would also have destabilized rural communities and been a big step backward in the fight against climate change. National Corn Growers Association President John Linder says, “We look forward to working with EPA Administrator Michael Regan to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard and appreciate his early action to change the EPA course when it comes to waivers.” *********************************************************************************************** EPA Will Keep Biofuel Mandates Steady in 2021-2022 Three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the Environmental Protection Agency’s biofuel blending mandates for this year and next will be in line with those from 2020. The agency is said to be accounting for weaker fuel demand since the onset of COVID-19. That would mean the U.S. refining industry would avoid added costs normally associated with the usual expansion in renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard. That will come at the expense of biofuel producers and the corn industry, which depend on regular increases to expand their businesses. The required amounts of biofuels that refiners must blend into the nation’s fuel supply usually increase annually in hopes of reducing foreign petroleum imports and helping the nation’s farmers. Former President Trump delayed the 2021 proposal because of COVID-19 and the 2020 election. The EPA says it intends to issue both the 2021 and 2022 volumes proposals later this summer. In the last ruling back in 2019, the EPA mandated that American refiners blend 20.09 billion gallons of renewable fuel into the nation’s fuel mix for the 2020 compliance year. That mandate included 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels like ethanol. The upcoming volume proposals are expected to largely be the same amounts. ********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Tops One Million Barrels The Energy Information Administration says U.S. ethanol output topped the one-million-barrel mark for the first time in 14 months, while stockpiles also rose last week. Ethanol production jumped to an average of 1.032 million barrels a day in the week ending on May 14. The latest EIA report says that’s up from 979,000 barrels a day, on average, during the prior week and the highest level since March 13, 2020. The Midwest, by far the largest ethanol-producing region, saw its output come in at an average of 985,000 barrels a day, up from 940,000 the previous week. That’s the highest level since the week ending on February 28, 2020. Gulf Coast production jumped to an average of 20,000 barrels a day, up from 16,000 the previous week. Rocky Mountain output rose to 10,000 barrels a day from 8,000, and East Coast production rose to 7,000 barrels a day from 6,000 a week before. The West Coast was the only region where output didn’t improve, holding fast at an average of 9,000 barrels a day. Inventories rose, but only slightly, coming in at 19.4 million barrels last week, up from 19.39 million the prior week. *********************************************************************************************** USDA Releases 90-Day Climate-Smart Progress Report The USDA published its 90-Day Progress Report on Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry this week. The agency says it represents an important step toward President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and the shift towards a whole-of-department approach to solutions. “With the right tools and partnerships, American agriculture and forestry can lead the world in solutions that will increase climate resistance, sequester carbon, enhance agricultural productivity, and maintain critical environmental benefits,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At this pivotal time, the president has called upon USDA to develop a strategy for climate-smart agriculture and forestry as part of a whole-of-government effort to addressing the climate crisis.” He also says central to USDA’s approach is the concept that whatever the agency does must work for farmers, ranchers, and landowners. The goal is to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect the nation’s lands, biodiversity, and natural resources like soil, air, and water. Through research, conservation practices, and partnerships, USDA is looking to find solutions to agricultural challenges, enhancing economic growth, and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers, and private foresters. More information on the progress report is available at www.usda.gov. ********************************************************************************************** First Long Flight Powered by Biofuels is Successful A coalition of companies came together to carry out the first long-haul flight powered by a renewable fuel called Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Air France Flight 342 took off from Paris and headed to Montreal with its tanks full of the renewable aviation fuel produced in French manufacturing plants. Renewable Energy Magazine says the flight is a tangible result of four groups that came together to decarbonize transportation and to develop a new supply chain for the fuel. The biofuel used for this flight was made from waste and residue sourced from the French economy. A company called Total produced the biofuel from used cooking oil at a biorefinery and a factory in France without using any virgin plant-based oil. The 16 percent blend of biofuels on this flight lessened the CO2 emissions by 20 tons. Air France-KLM is known as a pioneer for testing sustainable aviation fuels. In addition to this flight, French company Airbus is conducting several series of tests to certify that airliners can fly with 100 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM, says, “For many years, the Air France-KLM Group has been committed to reducing our environmental footprint. Supporting the emergence of an economically viable French aviation biofuel sector is a priority for our group and the country.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Chicken Producer Charged with Price-Fixing Claxton Poultry Farms Incorporated has been indicted in Colorado on charges of price-fixing broiler chickens produced for sale to restaurants and grocery stores. A Successful Farming Dot Com article says the U.S. Justice Department announced the charges on Thursday. The company’s president and vice president were previously indicted for their roles in a nationwide conspiracy to fix chicken prices from 2012 to 2019. If the company is found guilty, Claxton could be fined up to 100 million dollars or twice what it gained in the price-fixing. Claxton is based in Georgia and sells 300 million pounds of chicken every year to 750 customers, including some of the country’s biggest restaurant and grocery store chains. In February, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, one of the largest American poultry producers, pled guilty and was sentenced to pay $107.9 million to settle the federal charges that it conspired to fix chicken prices and passed on the costs to consumers and other purchasers. Pilgrim’s Pride is primarily owned by Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fed Sticking With Inflation View Fed officials met at the end of April and continued to hold to their view that the rise that was being seen at that point was "transitory" and would not be "more persistent than expected," according to minutes from the April 27-28 session. But that view may not be as universal as it seems or at least as universal as some Fed officials continue to insist. When the Fed issues the minutes from their meetings, they do not attach any names to comments and generally do not use any more than rather generic terms to describe the numbers that express a certain opinion. Terms like "some" or "few" or "many" are often used, leaving something to the imagination the actual number of Fed officials that think the way the comments indicate. And meeting recap dealing with inflation is case and point. The recap noted "some participants mentioned upside risks around the inflation outlook that could arise if temporary factors influencing inflation turned out to be more persistent than expected." When it came to their $120 billion per month purchase of bonds that aims to keep lending rates low and spur economic activity, their decision on when to begin tapering those purchases was notable. The decision to trim or "taper" those buys, would be one of the first actions by the Fed to tighten monetary policy -- make it more expensive to borrow money. The meeting recap noted that "some" emphasized their decision on the bond purchases would be determined by actual results, not on "uncertain economic forecasts." But there were "a couple of participants" who said the "risks of inflation pressures building up to unwelcome levels before they become sufficiently evident to induce a policy reaction." The Fed officials also noted the strong spending by consumers who were in part working off of stimulus dollars doled out by the government via the March COVID aid package. But that consumer spending is another potential inflation worry, according to the meeting recap. Rising consumer spending as the economy continues to reopen was another factor Fed officials said would likely "boost inflation temporarily, particularly if supply bottlenecks limited how quickly production could respond to demand in the near term." But even so, officials also "viewed these increases in prices as likely to have only transitory effects on inflation." As for when that discussion on tapering the bond purchases will start, "various participants" pointing out it would "likely be some time" before the Fed shifts from its stance that asset purchases will continue at least at the current pace until there is "substantial further progress" toward the Fed's goals. But the minutes also said that "a number" of Fed officials thought if the U.S. economy keeps posting rapid progress, that discussion on tapering the bond purchases would come at "upcoming meetings." That still leaves the Fed plenty of wiggle room on when that discussion will take place. But the rise in inflation may bring on that discussion faster than "some" Fed officials apparently think. There are five meetings of the Fed remaining this year -- June 15-16, July 27-28, September 21-22, November 2-3 and December 14-15. So we will see. The current monetary policy in place has kept interest and financing costs low for farmers, so the coming debate on those bond purchases is one that needs to be watched closely given the prospect that it will increase those borrowing costs and make them a rising, rather than falling, production expense, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Biden Budget Release Pushed Back By One Day The Biden administration's Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget proposals will not be released until May 28, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), one day later than had been previously signaled. The budget release will be looked to for more details on the Biden tax and spending plans for FY 2022, including the $4 trillion the administration has proposed for infrastructure and social spending. And it will allow lawmakers on the Hill to really dig into the government funding issues ahead via the annual appropriations measures. And the situation will also factor into the efforts by Democrats to push through a budget resolution that will allow the use of budget reconciliation to bypass Senate rules that normally require 60 votes to get things like the $4 trillion in spending envisioned in the infrastructure and social plans.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Court Invalidates Three SREs Granted Late By Trump Administration The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday invalidated three small refinery exemptions (SREs) granted by the Trump administration to Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company, returning the matter to EPA for review. EPA sought the court action, arguing the SREs--one for the 2018 compliance year and two for the 2019 compliance year--had been fully examined. Sinclair declined to oppose the EPA request. Biofuel backers welcomed the action, with Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper hailing the court action as they agreed the waivers had been "improperly granted." While a victory for biofuel supporters, the biofuel waiver issue is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court following an earlier Tenth Circuit decision that invalidated three SREs for the 2016 compliance year. And EPA has said they will not act on any pending SREs until after the nation's top court issues its ruling. And the number of pending SREs continues to rise as EPA now shows there are 32 pending for the 2019 compliance year and 18 for the 2020 compliance year, an increase of two for both years.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts have gotten a lot of attention in this week's markets and will again Friday. China's appetite for U.S. new-crop corn has also gotten a lot of press and traders will be watching for the possibility of a seventh consecutive purchase on Friday. A report on U.S. existing home sales for April is due out at 9 a.m. CDT. USDA's cattle on-feed report for May 1 is set for 2 p.m. CDT with analysts expecting roughly 11.58 million head, a modest drop from last month's 11.90 million head. Weather A stream of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will produce a band of scattered showers arcing north-northeast from Louisiana and eastern Texas through Lake Superior on Friday. Additional showers and thunderstorms are expected across the Northern Plains with some late afternoon and evening thunderstorms in the High Plains, the latter of which could be strong to severe. Showers should continue to improve soil moisture and ease drought across northern areas that have been in desperate need over the last several weeks. Snow in western Montana will continue through the day and there will be some occasional showers in the West as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


FFA Announces Hybrid Annual Convention The National FFA Organization announced Wednesday the organization will hold its annual in-person convention this fall in Indianapolis. The event, which traditionally brings more than 65,000 attendees, will take place October 27-30. Expected in-person events during the convention include the American FFA Degree Ceremony, Career Success Tours, competitive events, delegate business sessions, entertainment, the National FFA Expo and shopping mall, general sessions, student and teacher workshops, and the National Days of Service. In addition to the in-person event, the organization will also offer a virtual program, including student and teacher workshops, the virtual FFA Blue Room, National Days of Service and the streaming of general sessions. Dr. James Woodard, national FFA advisor, says, “We are excited to bring an in-person event back to our members and the city of Indianapolis.” In 2020, the organization canceled the in-person event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead offered a virtual experience. For more information, visit convention.FFA.org. ************************************************************************************ Produce Industry Sounds Alarm Over Pallet Shortage The United Fresh Produce Association says pallet shortages are disrupting the produce supply chain. The organization says the lack of pallets is adding stress to a supply chain that is already facing significant challenges. Other supply chain issues include a lack of available trucks and shipping containers, labor challenges and a pending shortage of resin used to make reusable containers and pallets. Expectations are that the pallet shortage will continue for months, perhaps for the balance of 2021. The shortage of lumber and wood products has increased the cost of raw lumber 200 percent to 350 percent and makes the cost of wood pallets increase incrementally. Some report over the past few weeks, pallet costs have increased more than 400 percent, if the pallets are even available. The organization warns that without ensuring pallet availability for produce shipments, "there is little doubt that it will be very difficult, if not impossible,” to meet consumer produce demand. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announce Cosby as NRCS Chief The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the appointment of Terry Cosby to serve as chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Cosby began his career with USDA in 1979 as a student trainee in Iowa. Over Cosby's 42 years with the agency, he has served in numerous capacities, most recently, Acting Chief of NRCS and State Conservationist for Ohio. Cosby also served in leadership positions at the agency in Iowa, Missouri and Idaho, before his time in Ohio. The National Association of Conservation Districts welcomed the announcement. NACD President Michael Crowder says of Cosby, “His extensive experience in conservation as a farmer, a sportsman and state conservationist will further strengthen NRCS’s impact on the nation’s land.” USDA also announced Meryl Harrell as deputy undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Harrell most recently served as the Executive Director of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. Both will assume their positions Monday, May 24. ************************************************************************************ Meat Institute Responds to DOJ Investigation Calls The North American Meat Institute this week defended its members against allegations of wrongdoing in the cattle market. The response follows a closed-door meeting between livestock and farm groups focusing on ways to improve cattle market transparency and a letter from Republican lawmakers to the Department of Justice. The lawmakers requested DOJ continue its investigation regarding cattle market manipulation. In reaction, Meat Institute spokesperson Sarah Little told the Hagstrom Report, “In July 2020, USDA analyzed the effects of the 2019 Holcomb facility fire and the pandemic, finding no wrong-doing and confirming the disruption in the beef markets was due to devastating and unprecedented events.” She pointed to several announcements to build new packing facilities or expand capacity that will increase cattle slaughter capacity roughly four percent. In the letter to DOJ, the group or republican lawmakers state, “while black swan events do not always prove wrongdoing, additional attention can reinforce confidence in the system.” ************************************************************************************ NIFA Invests Over $2.3M for Small Business Innovation Research The Department of Agriculture this week announced a $2.3 million investment as part of the USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently awarded eight grants totaling $812,900 to small businesses to improve plant production and protection. Additionally, NIFA awarded eight grants totaling $797,600 for animal production and protection, and seven awards totaling $706,100 for conserving natural resources. NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille says the program, "stimulates technological innovations in the private sector and strengthens the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses." Funded plant production projects include research into domestic vanilla production, blueberry pollinators and plant-based proteins. Animal production projects include vaccine research, testing animal feed for quality and herd reproductivity data. Finally, conservation projects include fertilizer and irrigation research. The next Phase 1 request for Small Business Innovation Research applications is scheduled to open in July 2021, with a deadline in October 2021. Learn more at nifa.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Application Period Open for Conservation Innovation Grants Program The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is investing up to $15 million to support the development of new conservation tools and practices. Specifically, NRCS is seeking new tools, approaches, practices and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands through the Conservation Innovation Grants program. USDA says CIG partners use creative problem solving and innovation to address our nation’s water quality, air quality, soil health and wildlife habitat challenges, all while improving agricultural operations. This year, funded grant partners will focus on climate-smart strategies for water resources, soil health, nutrient management, grazing lands conservation and strategies to increase conservation adoption. NRCS intends to expend at least ten percent of the total funding for CIG Classic on projects that are focused on providing conservation benefits to historically underserved producers. All U.S.-based non-Federal entities and individuals are eligible to apply. Proposals must be submitted through Grants.gov before July 20, 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


Washington Insider: USMCA Sessions End With No Major Breakthroughs The first meeting of the Free Trade Commission (FTC), a panel established under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is now history, taking place the first two days of this week. The first day saw U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai meet one-on-one with Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng and separately with Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier. Those discussions saw Tai raise several issues, but the readouts from the parties involved did not signal any new or major breakthroughs were scored. Tuesday saw the three trade chiefs meet together and get presentations from various working group committees that were established under USMCA. Those panels provided various updates on issues and developments they were responsible for. One of the concrete developments that emerged came from the panel that met on small and medium-sized enterprises. That resulted in the setting up a session October 13-14 in San Antonio, Texas, for a "dialogue" on issues for those businesses. So that is at least a positive. The joint statement released by the three countries was long on the usual phrases that mark these kinds of meetings -- the talks were labeled "robust" and the three held discussions in which they said they would "recommit to fully implementing, enforcing, and fulfilling the Agreement's terms and high standards throughout the life of the USMCA." On issues of labor and environment, ones where Tai was expected to push her counterparts to think about putting a climate change component into the deal, those talks were termed "robust, forward-looking discussions." But again, that offers little in terms of substance regarding how the Canadians or Mexicans received what Tai was expected to bring up. Reports also indicate Mexico raised matters on automotive content rules under USMCA and Mexico called on the U.S. to review its ground transportation rules that provide Mexican truckers access to the U.S. market. The U.S. raised labor issues during sessions, noting that recent matters raised by both the U.S. and Mexico show "how well this can be used by both countries." On key ag trade topics, there was also little signs there was progress made. The U.S. filed a case late in the Trump administration which charged Canada was not fulfilling its commitments on implementing import quotas for dairy. Tai acknowledged that case in testimony last week before the U.S. Congress, but it's not clear any headway was made -- Ng related she signaled Canada believes it is implementing the provisions in USMCA when it comes to dairy. As for issues such as Mexico's policies on glyphosate and GMO corn, reports indicate that Mexico's economy ministry the country "reiterated its commitment to ensure compliance with the obligations assumed in the chapter on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, as well as to promptly address any problems or concerns that may arise." There also appears to be a difference of opinion between the U.S. and Canada on the issue of softwood lumber, another long-running dispute between the two that has seen the U.S. impose duties on imports of softwood lumber from Canada. Reports said that Ng she pressed the U.S. on its "unwarranted and unfair" tariffs on imports from Canada and the country would defend the sector and also sought to reach some kind of agreement. Interestingly, Tai told U.S. lawmakers last week that she, too, wanted to find some kind of agreement with Canada, but our neighbors to the north were not interested in negotiating. To be fair, the first meetings involving all three trade chiefs from the three countries should not have been expected to have all of the issues raised by each country resolved. That would have been a major development. But a session like this was more than likely used by each official as a way to "test the waters" and get a read on the official that will be on the other side of the table when it comes to really negotiating on these issues. That's when the statements of "robust" or "productive" talks could take on additional meaning. For example, an agreement suddenly on something like softwood lumber would have been shock since that dispute has been around for a long, long time. Keep in mind, this was also the first FTC meeting ever. So all three officials were probably feeling their way a bit relative to what they could -- or perhaps more importantly, couldn't do. So we will see. The trade issues that existed before the meeting are still there. And it appears there was little ground given by any of the officials. That means these will remain issues to be dealt with along with others that could also come to light in coming weeks and months. So these are clearly matters that farmers need to monitor closely, especially ones that deal with dairy, GMOs and glyphosate, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


Lawmakers Introduce Plans To Block Administration's 30x30 Plan Sens. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., have introduced the 30x30 Termination Act, a measure aimed at blocking the Biden administration's 30x30 plan that would seek to conserve 30% of land and water by 2030. Under the Biden administration's 30x30 plan, America the Beautiful, the program stresses voluntary conservation and expansion of USDA's conservation programs. Republicans, however, have portrayed the plan as an attempt to force conservation measures onto private landowners. The legislation prevents a number of actions on public and private land in the name of conservation, according to Marshall's office. "Land ownership is a core right protected by the Constitution and we cannot allow radical environmentalists who are in the driver's seat on 30x30 dictate what happens on our land. This initiative is further proof of the clear disconnect between the left and those who feed, fuel, and clothe the world," said Marshall. The measure would nullify the executive order being used to put the 30x30 initiative in place and blocks any funds from being spent to carry out the initiative among other provisions. Freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has introduced companion legislation in the House.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


House Ag Chair Working On Disaster Aid Fund at USDA The U.S. government needs to be able to respond more quickly to natural disasters that affect agriculture that accompany climate change, House Agriculture chairman David Scott, D-Ga., remarked during a "member day" hearing the panel held Tuesday. "Many of our farms are done away with because we move too slow" in drafting and passing relief bills, he said. "We are working on a bill to set up a permanent disaster aid that is already there, that we can get help down to our farmers." Scott noted the possibility of such a fund at USDA after another lawmaker on the panel said he wanted to get losses for 2020 included in the Wildfires and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP-Plus). "Just let me tell you, this is an issue we are grappling with on the committee … disaster aid is so critical," said Scott. "I'm trying to put together an effort to create a separate immediate disaster aid fund, so it doesn't have to go the regular appropriations process (which) takes too long." He added that "this climate is really causing us to come up to our challenges." However, it is not clear yet how any permanent disaster fund would impact the crop insurance program.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, along with U.S. weekly jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Traders will pause at 8 a.m. to see if China signs up for more new-crop corn. An index of leading U.S. indicators will be out at 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. CDT. Weather Drought-easing precipitation is in store Thursday in the northern Midwest, northern Plains and Canadian Prairies. The moisture will occur mostly as rain with some snow. We'll also see a wide swath of light rain from the western Midwest south to the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. Other primary crop areas will be dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Lawmakers Urge DOJ to Continue Cattle Industry Investigation Lawmakers from South Dakota this week led an effort urging the Department of Justice to continue its investigation into the nation’s four biggest meatpackers. Republican Senator John Thune and Republican Representative Dusty Johnson also requested that DOJ provide Congress with updates on its investigation and encouraged ongoing vigilance. The lawmakers write, “It is critically important that producers have fair and transparent markets for the commodities they produce.” The letter comes as last week a group of six livestock and farm groups held a rare meeting unifying the diverse backgrounds of the organizations focusing on cattle market transparency. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association welcomed the letter. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, “We have a high supply of cattle at one end of this equation and a high demand for U.S. beef at the other, but the middle is being absolutely choked by the lack of processing capacity.” ************************************************************************************ USTR Raises Ag Concerns with Mexico, Canada U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai raised agriculture concerns with Mexico and Canada on the sidelines of the Free Trade Commission of the United States, Mexico and Canada meeting Monday. A readout document posted to the USTR website noted Tai engaged with counterparts from Canada and Mexico. Regarding Canada, Tai stressed, "the importance of Canada fully meeting its USMCA commitments, including its allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas and home-shopping.” They also discussed softwood lumber and WTO reform and agreed to continue collaborating on addressing these issues and others. As for Mexico, Tai emphasized the importance of several issues, including science- and risk-based regulatory approaches in agriculture, access for U.S. fresh potatoes to all of Mexico, and an immediate resumption of authorizations of agricultural biotechnology products in Mexico. The U.S., Canada and Mexico, this week took part in the inaugural meeting of the trade commission. The meeting helps all three countries discuss cooperation and trade issues regarding USMCA. ************************************************************************************ Drought Forces California Farmers to Leave Fields Empty For some farmers in California, there's not enough water to grow a crop this year. Bloomberg News reports farmers north of San Francisco are not participating in farmers' markets or produce box programs and are leaving fields empty. California grows one-third of U.S. vegetables and two-thirds of U.S. fruits and nuts. Normally, California receives the bulk of its water needs from the winter season. However, the current drought has diminished the supply, leaving growers of specialty crops without enough water, as the La Nina weather pattern pulled winter storms away from the state. Nearly all of the 11 states in the U.S. Drought Monitor western region are suffering from some form of drought. Much of the southwest is in an extreme or exceptional drought classification. In the Four Corners states, the last 12- and 24-month periods were both the driest on record for the region. And, the western fire season, typically starting in the summer months, is already underway. ************************************************************************************ West Texas Cattle Ranch to hit International Marketplace The massive Turkey Track Ranch hits the international market later this year. After 120 years, the family owners have decided to sell the near 80,000 acres of ranchland, known as the Prize of the Panhandle. Land brokers representing the ranch state, “It is simply revered and respected for being good, diverse, stout, and solid. It is both beautiful and productive and has been well managed at every level.” Located in the Texas panhandle, the ranch is one of the largest in the state. The Whittenburg and Coble families, current owners of the ranch, state, “Due to our family's increasing numbers and geographical distances, we recognize that it is time to find a new steward for this historic holding.” The Turkey Track Ranch was first established around 1878, making it one of the first five ranches in the Texas Panhandle. The property is also the site of the two famed battles of the Adobe Walls of 1864 and 1874. ************************************************************************************ Piglets Pay the Price of Mom’s Heat Stress Piglets born to heat-stressed sows may carry the burden of their mother’s discomfort later in life in the form of health complications and diminished performance. Now, this so-called "in utero heat stress" may also hypersensitize the piglet’s immune system, potentially doing more harm than good to the young animals, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. Pigs are more susceptible to heat stress due to an inability to sweat. This places them at greater risk of health and production problems that can add up to millions of dollars annually in revenue losses to swine producers. Research has shown that pigs experiencing heat stress during pregnancy can predispose their offspring to complications later in life that can lead to diminished performance, including efficient feed use, growth rate and ultimately, pork production. However, less is known about how heat stress affects their offspring’s innate immunity. The USDA research is helping the industry learn more. ************************************************************************************ Bayer COO Begemann Retires Bayer this week announced that Brett Begemann, Chief Operating Officer for Crop Science, will retire from his role after 38 years with the company. Rodrigo Santos, currently Head of Crop Science Commercial Operations for Latin America, will succeed Begemann and assume global responsibility for the division's commercial organization. During his tenure with the company, Begemann held several global and regional leadership positions and had responsibility for global commercial and operations teams at Monsanto before the acquisition by Bayer. As President and Chief Operating Officer at Monsanto Company, he led global efforts to increase manufacturing and supply chain efficiency, as well as the company's growth agenda. Santos, a Brazilian national, has spent over 23 years with the company and has led the Latin American Crop Science business for Bayer since the integration of Monsanto and Bayer in 2018. Earlier in his career, Santos worked in sales, marketing, strategy and business development roles, including a leadership role in Eastern Europe.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: The Push for Electric Vehicles A key part of the climate goals by the Biden administration is reducing and eventually eliminating vehicle emissions. That is part of a $174 billion push to put more electric vehicles on U.S. roads by the Biden administration. President Joe Biden traveled to Dearborn, Mich., to see firsthand the new Ford F-150 picking that is electric powered, not using an internal combustion engine. But even that push by Ford drew some comments by Biden about the prospects that EVs could be built in other countries and brought back into the U.S. "We need automakers and other companies to keep investing here in America and not take the benefits of our public investments and expand electric vehicles and battery manufacturing abroad," Biden said, a reference to Ford rival General Motors announcing plants to make a $1 billion investment in building EVs in Mexico and Ford opting to build some EVs in Mexico versus Ohio. But even as Biden got to drive the F-150 that will formally be unveiled on Wednesday, it was still camouflaged so that no one could get an early peek at the new truck. Rather than using consumer incentives for high-priced vehicles, Reuters reported that the White House wants to use government spending "to prod Americans to buy electric vehicles." Rebates and tax credits are the usual routes used to financially encourage consumers to buy something like an EV that can be more expensive than a traditionally gasoline-power vehicle. But there are consumer rebates involved in the push for them to purchase EVs -- $100 billion of the $174 billion effort is for such rebates. More spending on battery facilities and technologies is also planned as a way to bring the cost of the EVs down. There has been a $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of EVs, but White House Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy told Bloomberg TV that Biden is looking to "actually provide consumer rebates at the point of sale." She argues that will make it more likely that lower or middle-income Americans might be able to afford the vehicles. One of the keys for EVs, however, is charging stations. There are currently less than 100,000 of them in the U.S., and few if any in more remote areas of the country. And the cost of putting those charging stations in place will be a key one with the administration wanting Congress to approve funding to put 500,000 of them in place. But many point out even that many charging stations will not be enough to meet an aggressive push for EVs. The other issues for EVs that consumers will need to be convinced of will include their range. Currently, there is about a 250-mile range for EVs, a range that works fairly well for urban settings. But that may temper interest in areas where consumers have to drive for distances to get even basic services. The recharging time will also be important even if there are more charging stations available. And for those in northern climates, there is the issue of winter travel. Currently, internal combustion engines provide heat to keep vehicle passengers warm. In EVs, providing heat takes extra battery power and reduces the travel range. By putting an EV pickup together in the form of the best-selling F-150, Ford is clearly trying to woo what may well be one of the more difficult-to-convince customers: Farmers. They rely on vehicles and at times need to travel at a moment's notice. And having to charge a vehicle first or fully to do that could be a major hurdle. But those championing EVs contend there will be better and better battery technology ahead that will address these issues. But then the same argument was made on cellulosic ethanol which has failed to reach that key "commercially viable" stage. And then there is the matter of replacing gasoline-powered vehicles, something which means less ethanol being used. And that is raising more than a few concerns with farmers who have helped in the push for ethanol over the years. So we will see. EVs are clearly going to be in the U.S. vehicle mix ahead and will increase in numbers and use. But the broad deployment of those vehicles is coming. And with that will come challenges and opportunities, matters which agriculture will need to monitor closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Antitrust Push On Beef Packers Lawmakers and attorneys general from several states are pushing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to continue their investigation the four largest meatpackers in the U.S. In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, a bipartisan group of House and Senate members called on DOJ to continue the investigation of "improper and anticompetitive activities in the live cattle and beef industry" that was launched one year ago. They cited a lack of information from the investigation, noting "there is no information to even suggest whether the investigation has concluded or is still ongoing." They called for the continuation of the investigation and requested an update on the situation. Cattle producers and small producers in particular are continuing to see difficult conditions, the lawmakers said. "It is critically important that producers have fair and transparent markets for the commodities they produce," the letter stated. "We urge the DOJ Antitrust Division to continue vigilance and where possible, provide updates of findings."

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Bilaterals Marked First Day Of US-Mexico-Canada Agreement Confab U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with both Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng and Mexican Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier on the first day of two days of meetings under the Free Trade Commission established under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). With Ng, Tai pressed on issues relative to Canada "fully meeting its USMCA commitments, including its allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas and home-shopping." The Trump administration brought the dairy case in late 2020 and Tai has said she will seek to use negotiation with Canada to move the issue forward. Ambassador Tai also expressed concern about Canada's recently proposed digital service tax, according to a readout of the session from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). "They also discussed softwood lumber and WTO reform," the statement said. However, the dairy issue was not mentioned in a similar readout of the session released by Canada, with Ng raising issues with Tai on the U.S. Buy American effort. With Clouthier, Tai raised several "ongoing issues," the readout of their session said, including "science- and risk-based regulatory approaches in agriculture; access for U.S. fresh potatoes to all of Mexico; an immediate resumption of authorizations of agricultural biotechnology products in Mexico; an energy policy that respects U.S. investment and is consistent with efforts to tackle climate change; and enhanced trade facilitation efforts." Mexico's labor situation was also an issue broached along with U.S. investigations into Mexican agricultural products, according to a recap from Mexico.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders will check the latest weather forecasts early and, given China's recent appetite for new-crop corn, will stop at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has another sale announcement. The U.S. Energy Department has its weekly energy inventory report at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol production. Minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting will be released at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store from the southeastern Plains through the Coastal Bend Wednesday. The heavy rain will cause flooding and will be unfavorable for crops. Farther north, light rain will cover much of the western and southern Midwest. Dry northern crop areas remain in line to receive moisture as rain and snow beginning Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


Trade Officials Begin USMCA Summit Trade talks are underway between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, as part of a two-day summit regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The agreement is nearing its first anniversary, and there are a handful of issues of concern. Politico reports there are continuing labor concerns between the U.S. and Mexico and trade barriers in place by Mexico and Canada. Farm groups have concerns over recent policies by Mexico, including decisions against genetically modified corn and the use of glyphosate, along with concerns over a new Mexican food labeling law aimed at combating obesity. Regarding Canada, the U.S. dairy industry claims Canada is placing barriers to U.S. products and wants Canada to open markets more quickly. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told lawmakers last week those issues should be explored, because USMCA includes mechanisms to do so. However, Tai cautions, it’s too early to say if Canada has violated its dairy commitments included in the agreement. ************************************************************************************ Dairy Groups Seek Broad Focus on Pricing Reform Five Midwestern dairy groups evaluating solutions to federal milk pricing issues recently sent their comprehensive focus to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The groups seek a broad scope of focus should there be a Federal Milk Marketing Orders emergency hearing about reform. In April, the groups announced a proposal called Class III Plus, aimed at creating long-term stability in fluid milk pricing and reducing the likelihood of negative producer price differentials. Class III Plus would tie the Class I price to the Class III skim milk price plus an adjuster and do away with advanced pricing. The letter states, "We believe in order reform, but we would prefer to tackle more than just Class I pricing if we are going to go to the trouble and effort of having a hearing with national scope.” The groups include the Dairy Business Association, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Nebraska State Dairy Association and South Dakota Dairy Producers. ************************************************************************************ Land Values Near 2014 Peak Average sales prices for high-quality land in many states are at or near the peak prices last seen in January 2014, according to Farmers National Company's internal estimates to be released in June. Land values have taken a sizable jump the past six months, and the new levels reflect that move. For instance, the company says the June 2021 value for Illinois will be $12,300 per acre versus $12,500 per acre in January 2014. The estimated price per acre in Arkansas was $5,000 at the start of 2014 and is now $5,600. Ohio was $8,000 per acre and is now $8,150 per acre. Each January and June, Farmers National Company publishes its estimates of the average sales price for better quality cropland observed in each of eighteen states. The estimates are intended to show the trend in land sale prices in each state and not reflect individual sales that may be higher or lower. ************************************************************************************ Farm Profit Projections Mixed Through 2030 The Department of Agriculture's Economic Research service projections for farm profits are mixed through 2030. USDA ERS provides forecasts for net cash farm income and net farm income, two major profitability indicators of the agricultural sector. Net farm income is a broader measure of farm sector profitability that incorporates noncash items. Net cash farm income includes only gross cash income minus all cash expenses. For last year, ERS forecasts net farm income to be at $123 billion, which was $31 billion more than the 20-year average, and net farm income at $139 billion. Further projections estimate these profitability indicators to rise in 2022, then level off through 2030 because of a projected increase in production expenses. In 2030, both measures of farm income are projected to be lower than their 2020 forecasts. Net farm income is projected to remain slightly higher than the recent 20-year average, but net farm cash income is projected to be lower for 2021-30. ************************************************************************************ NRECA Calls for Federal Clean Energy Tax Credit The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and other industry groups seek a federal clean energy tax credit. In a letter to lawmakers, the groups ask for support of tax policies that will allow public power and electric cooperatives to fully utilize direct pay for renewable and clean energy tax credits. President Joe Biden has set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power generation, transportation, and other sources. The groups say reaching the goals will be a daunting challenge for community-owned electric utilities. All the increased costs associated with reshaping their generation profile will burden customers and consumer-owners. The letter says allowing public power utilities and rural electric cooperatives to receive tax credits as direct payments for building clean energy infrastructure would ensure that all utilities serving Americans would have equal access to federal resources. The direct payments would be used to help offset project costs for public power utilities and rural electric cooperatives. ************************************************************************************ Pipeline Outage Sparks National Average Gas Price Increase For the fourth consecutive week, the national average price of gasoline increased, posting a 6.4 cent per gallon gain from a week ago to $3.03 per gallon. The national average now stands 16.8 cents higher than a month ago and $1.17 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel increased 6.3 cents in the last week and stands at $3.17 per gallon. The jump was largely attributed to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, "With the pipeline now back in service, I expect prices to come down in the hardest-hit states." De Haan says the drops should lead the national average to fall back under the $3 per gallon mark. But, he cautions, “prices may start to head higher in a few weeks should Memorial Day gasoline demand be red hot.” The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists was $2.89 per gallon, up 20 cents from last week.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Tariffs Talks Between U.S. and EU The use of tariffs as a trade tool is one that has been around for decades. And, so too has the concept of pausing those tariffs. The Biden administration touted the four-month suspension of tariffs in the long running disputes over large civil aircraft between the U.S. and the European Union (EU) and the U.S. and UK. The U.S. tariffs against the EU and UK were imposed by the Trump administration with the backing of the WTO. The U.S. had successfully challenged the subsidies provided to Airbus by certain EU countries. As is usually the case, the WTO scaled back the level of tariffs that the U.S. could impose. There was a delay in the EU putting retaliatory tariffs in place after they also won a WTO ruling against subsidies they maintained were provided to Boeing. The underlying dispute over large civil aircraft dates back some 16 years. It took until early 2020 for the U.S. to be able to hit the EU with tariffs. The EU followed up later in 2020 which prompted another response from the U.S. to broaden the level of tariffs. Then in March this year, the U.S. and EU and separately the U.S. and UK announced a four-month suspension in tariffs as they try to reach a solution in the long-running disputes. Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said she fully expected the four-month period would result in a solution. Considering that we are now halfway through the four-month cease fire, that could be an optimistic statement by Tai. After all, some argue that outside of the tariffs, there would really not be a reason for the parties involved to actually resolve the disputes given the length of time where a deal could have been reached. Others still argue that perhaps the "fresh" look at the disputes by the Biden administration might just be enough to push the issue to the finish line. And now there is another tariff suspension that has popped up, this time the EU pledging now to impose higher tariffs on a host of U.S. goods as a response to U.S. Section 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. USTR Tai did not give any hint that a suspension was potentially in the cards from the EU when she testified to House and Senate panels last week. And lawmakers raised the issue of those higher tariffs that loomed as of June 1. But these are not the first uses of suspensions of tariffs. Recall that China hit U.S. agricultural products with tariffs in response to U.S. Section 301 tariffs against China that hit a host of products. But, China itself suspended those tariffs last year as they sought to boost imports of U.S. goods, purchases that were outlined in the Phase One agreement between the U.S. and China. So it is clear that tariffs have been used in trade actions, but so have suspensions of tariffs as countries seek to achieve a certain goal or at least cool tensions to allow officials to negotiate in earnest to figure out solutions. So we will see. The use of tariffs is not likely going away and there is no sign the U.S. is ready to pull back tariffs imposed by China. But ag interests should watch the situation closely as tariff suspensions can at least provide some relief and could set the stage for trade resolutions or successes, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


USITC Votes To Continue Probe Into Imports Of India Organic Soymeal The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) Friday (May 14) unanimously voted to continue the investigation into the import of organic soymeal from India. The USITC said there is a "reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of organic soybean meal from India that are allegedly subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value." The U.S. Department of Commerce will continue its investigations of imports of organic soybean meal from India, with its preliminary countervailing duty determination due on or about June 24, 2021, and its preliminary antidumping duty determination due on or about September 7, 2021. The USITC will issue a report after June 14 on views of the agency and information it gathered during the investigation.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


More Time to Provide Info to USDA on Climate Actions USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Monday published a notice in the Federal Register that extends the comment period for 30 days relative to its request for comments on Supply Chains for the Production of Agricultural Commodities and Food Products. AMS published the request April 21 and sought public comments by May 21. But based on requests from stakeholders and organizations for "additional time to provide thoughtful and thorough feedback to this request." Specifically, AMS said it received requests from "representatives of critical supply chain activities whose comments would be of great value." Comments are now due June 21. It is not surprising that USDA is allowing more time for comments since their request was very broad -- supply chains for the production of ag commodities and food products. That cuts a very wide swath and USDA asked for comments on any aspects of that, including which current programs and policies could be deployed on that front.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. housing starts in April is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday, followed by USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook at 11 a.m. Traders will stay close to the latest weather forecast and any export sales news that emerges. Weather Tuesday brings another day of rain from the central Plains and mid-Mississippi Valley to the Coastal Bend. Amounts will vary; however, heavy totals with flash flood potential are indicated from the southeastern Plains to the Coastal Bend. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures continue to show notably warmer trends in most areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


Mississippi River Reopens to Shipping The U.S. Coast Guard said there were over 1,000 barges backed up along the lower Mississippi River late last week. The Coast Guard stopped all traffic on the river near Memphis, Tennessee, after a fracture was discovered in a bridge that carries traffic over the river. The good news is barge traffic was allowed to resume last Friday. The U.S. Coast Guard issued a statement saying that “Based on the information provided to us by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Coast Guard has determined that transit under the I-40 bridge is safe for maritime traffic,” says USCG Captain Ryan Rhodes, the Captain of the Port of Memphis. Mike Steenhoek (STEEN-hook) of the U.S. Soy Transportation Coalition says, “This is obviously good news. We look forward to seeing barge traffic on the Mississippi River back to normal conditions soon.” Steenhoek also notes that the U.S. can be increasingly described as a spending nation, not I hope that this situation will spur efforts to produce a comprehensive infrastructure investment strategy that addresses the needs of both urban and rural America.” ********************************************************************************************** Bronaugh Confirmed as USDA Deputy Secretary Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says he’s grateful for last week’s confirmation of Dr. Jewell Bronaugh as Deputy Secretary of the USDA. “Dr. Bronaugh’s confirmation is historic, as she will serve as the first black woman and woman of color to be named Deputy Secretary,” Vilsack says in a statement. “Dr. Bronaugh has a long, distinguished career as an educator and champion for farmers and rural communities.” She most recently served as the 16th Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, where she worked to expand opportunities for small and midsized farmers and ranchers to obtain infrastructure and processing capabilities. Bronaugh also developed strategies to meet environmental and water quality goals for Chesapeake Bay. “She speaks respectfully of producers and rural Americans, and believes that as a public servant, her job is to find a way to help those who need it,” Vilsack adds. “I look forward to working with Dr. Bronaugh to help ensure that USDA lives up to its calling to be a department that serves all people equally and fairly.” ********************************************************************************************** Land Grants, Extension to Teach Rural America About Vaccines The USDA says that land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System will step up educational efforts to improve COVID vaccine confidence in rural America. The announcement comes as the Centers for Disease Control says that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks for most outdoor and indoor activities. The new educational effort will use a $9.95 million CDC grant given to the Ag Department’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “Cooperative Extension agents are recognized and trusted messengers in their communities and can help deliver fact-based information on the COVID-19 vaccine and other adult vaccines,” says Jay Butler, CDC deputy director for infectious diseases. NIFA Director Carrie Castille (Cas-STEEL) says, “Cooperative Extension has a century of experience as change agents and educators in communities across America. NIFA is proud to be the federal partner with such a trusted education resource, but especially in this effort to deliver science-based vaccine education.” The Hagstrom Report says a “Facts Not Fear” website, developed by Extension staff, contains a curated collection of culturally appropriate resources from the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins, and USDA. ********************************************************************************************** Effort Underway to Stop Iowa’s E15 Mandate A new effort is underway in Iowa to stop a proposed fuel mandate from becoming law. KCCI-TV in Des Moines says beginning in 2026, Governor Kim Reynolds’ mandate will require E15 to be sold at every gas station in the state. A group against requiring gas stations to sell E15 is trying to get drivers to rally behind them in the fight against the bill. The group calls itself The Fuel Choice Coalition, and it’s plastering stickers on pumps at many convenience stores and gas stations. The stickers say, “Iowa lawmakers are taking up a law that will result in higher gas prices,” and they also feature a QR code that helps drivers send an email against the move to legislators. The opponents say the bill will force gas stations to make expensive upgrades to their tanks, which will cause fuel prices to “skyrocket.” They note that 1,500 sites in the state would have to spend anywhere from $300 million to $800 million, a cost that will have to be “passed on to consumers.” However, farmers support the legislation, saying it will help improve the ag economy that Iowa depends on. ********************************************************************************************** Kansas City Southern Makes New Railroad Deal Canadian National Railroad outbid Canadian Pacific in its attempt to buy the Kansas City Southern Railroad. Global News says Kansas City Southern determined that CN’s revised bid of $33.6 billion was better than the $25 billion it had already gotten from Canadian Pacific. The new CN offer includes $200 in cash for each KC Southern share, but Canadian National upped its offer of 1.129 shares of its stock. The transaction also includes about $3.8 billion in Kansas City Southern’s debt. Canadian National’s President says the combined railroad will connect Canada with the U.S. and Mexico and take advantage of the expected growth in trade between the three nations in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. KC Southern had been reviewing both bids and holding talks with both potential buyers since CN got involved with the bidding last month. So far, Canadian Pacific has declined to up its offer for KC Southern. CP officials say the Canadian National deal will have trouble getting approved by regulators concerned about the deal’s impact on competition. CP says combining KC Southern and Canadian National would hurt competition because they both have rail lines that compete for business between the Midwest and the Gulf Coast. Canadian Pacific’s network connects to KC Southern near its headquarters, but the two railroads don’t overlap elsewhere. *********************************************************************************************** Lamb Board Launches Outdoor Cooking Adventures Campaign The great outdoors and grilling are favorites of many people across the country. The American Lamb Board wants to help consumers make the most of their outdoor adventures by launching the American Lamb Outdoor Cooking Campaign. The recipe contest challenges outdoor enthusiasts to showcase their outdoor cooking prowess with American lamb in short videos. The board also partnered with chefs, pitmasters, and outdoor cooking experts to develop and share a variety of American Lamb recipes and videos for grilling, smoking, and over-the-fire cooking. “We’re so excited about all the opportunities this campaign has to put the spotlight on our great American-raised meat,” says Gwen Kitzan, ALB Chair. “Earlier this spring, our consumer poll earned an exceptional amount of media coverage, and now we’re implementing the recipe collection that adds video excitement to the mix.” The new campaign section is available on the American Lamb Board website at www.americanlamb.com. Consumers can also download or order copies of the new Outdoor Cooking Adventures recipe booklet that features six new lamb recipes for everything from ribs to burgers to kabobs.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Focus on Inflation Continues A pair of inflation reports last week beat expectations to the upside, signaling that inflation may be building in the U.S. economy. And the situation remains a focus across the U.S. economy -- from Washington to Main Street. As the Biden administration has pushed through the $1.9 trillion COVID aid in March that was in addition to some $900 billion that lawmakers agreed to in December, inflation was cited as a potential impact from the big fiscal outlays. Federal Reserve officials have continued to insist that the situation with inflation will be "transitory" -- in other words, not big enough nor sustained enough for them to have to tighten monetary policy to cool down the economy. Even as both the reading on inflation at the consumer -- the Consumer Price Index (CPI) -- and at the wholesale level -- Producer Price Index (PPI) -- came in above expectations and put the annual rate of inflation much above where market expectations were, the Fed did not change its tune. At the White House, Bloomberg reports that President Joe Biden's top advisers are sensing there is a growing political challenge ahead from the spike in inflation, "even as they see little immediate peril to the economy from price increases that officials expect will last through the rest of the year." They point to the rise in inflation coming for items like used cars, air travel and hotels. The price rise in April for rental cars was the sharpest for the used car index since that data began being kept in the 1950s. Some argue that the shortage of computer chips for new cars has dried up or severely curtailed their availability, forcing those needing a new vehicle to turn the used car market. But the White House also views the surge in prices as being from pent-up demand being unleashed as consumers emerge from the COVID pandemic, "That's different from a sustained pick-up in inflation, they argue," according to Bloomberg. Besides the Fed, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said she it not concerned about the rise in inflation. But she is monitoring it closely, Bloomberg said. Markets have also taken note. The S&P 500 dropped sharply on the release of CPI data, but turned around to post gains on Thursday and Friday. Plus, bond yields also retreated after a recent rise. Both are being taken as a sign that markets are not overly concerned about the inflation bump. What the situation has prompted, Bloomberg said, is that the administration are now "mulling ways to better explain the rise in prices to the American public, while backing away from putting any specific time frame on when the price volatility will end." And therein comes the political situation. Republicans are already taking note of the big rise in inflation and are readying it as one of their tools/talking points for the midterm elections in 2022. But some Democrats are also sounding the alarm. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and economist Jason Furman are sounding concerns about the situation. "I'd love to see them tilt a notch toward concern about inflation, but I think they'll mostly be doing more to explain this away," Furman, the head of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama said last week on Bloomberg TV. The administration hears all the concerns, and officials are bracing for a potentially difficult time ahead as they contend with rising inflation and figure out how to explain it in a way that will ease consumer worries. Already, consumer sentiment declined recently with some linking it to the rise in inflation. Council of Economic Advisers Chair Cecilia Rouse on Friday took part in a White House briefing and cautioned that the months ahead could be "choppy" in terms of inflation. "There's going to be a period, as supply starts to equal demand and sectors are healing and recovering" that features some "choppiness," Rouse said. "We're making good progress" in restarting economy, but there's still "a long way to go," she said. There are about $4 trillion reasons that the Biden administration is watching the inflation situation as closely as they are as that is the amount of additional spending the White House wants Congress to approve in the form of $2.25 trillion for inflation and $1.8 trillion for social spending. If consumers become spooked by rising prices, that could sour support for another big installment of government spending. So we will see. Agriculture is also seeing price inflation, but it is somewhat welcome for the sector as commodity prices lifted higher as 2021 has progressed as demand for commodities has been strong and there are supply concerns in some key areas around the globe. The rise in prices is rebuilding the financial health of the U.S. ag sector. But if the inflation picture gets out of hand and it is enough to prompt the Fed to tighten monetary policy, a rise in interest rates could easily eat up the commodity price gains as costs would rise for farmers, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


USTR Tai Signals She Will Raise Several Trade issues With Mexico, Canada The first meeting of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Free Trade Commission will be a busy one as U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai listed several items she will raise in the meeting as she testified last week before U.S. congressional trade panels. Mexico's GMO and glyphosate actions, Mexican labor issues and Canadian dairy actions are all items Tai said she will be raising with her counterparts from Mexico and Canada in the first meeting of the Free Trade Commission this week. On other trade areas, Tai still did not shed a lot of light on the U.S. trade focus ahead nor provide lawmakers with additional information on the U.S. worker-centric trade policy. She did not provide much more on the timeline for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) which expires in July and did not give lawmakers a significant update on prospects for U.S.-Kenya or U.S.-UK trade negotiations that were started by the Trump administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


USDA to Make Big Seafood Buy USDA said it will purchase up to $159.4 million in domestically produced seafood, fruits, legumes, and nuts for distribution to a variety of domestic food assistance programs, including charitable institutions -- the largest purchase of U.S. raised seafood by the USDA to date. The purchases will be done using authority under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act and is "one of many actions USDA is taking to address the disruptions in the food system supply chain and worsened food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic," USDA said. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack noted the fisheries and seafood sector have been dealt a "heavy blow" from COVID and this action is one of many efforts to address those effects. Selected commodities include: Alaska pollock, apricots (canned, dried, and frozen), chickpeas, dry peas, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic wild-caught shrimp, lentils, navy beans, Pacific pink shrimp, Pacific rockfish fillets, Pacific whiting fillets, pistachios, prepared peaches, and sockeye (red) salmon. The inventories of these commodities are in high oversupply due to a decrease in demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption in the supply chain, as restaurants and other outlets closed during the pandemic.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will check the latest weather forecasts to start the week and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has any export sales news. China has been putting in early claims on U.S. new-crop corn. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CDT. The National Oilseeds Processors Association will release its member estimate of soybean crush in April later Monday morning. USDA's Crop Progress report is set for 3 p.m. and is likely to show another active week of planting progress for row crops. Weather Showers and thunderstorms with locally heavy rain will cover much of the southern Plains, southern and eastern Midwest, and the Delta Monday. The rain will be favorable for crops; however, some flash flooding and severe storm intensity are also possible in the southern Plains. Meanwhile, dry areas of the northern Plains and northern Midwest have a high to extreme fire threat due to very warm, dry and windy conditions.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


Agrisafe Launches Agristress Network AgriSafe Network this week announced the launch of the AgriStress Response Network. The launch coincides with May as mental health awareness month. The network includes agriculture professionals committed to sharing non-proprietary information, ensuring that resources and training are widely disseminated to reduce farmer and rancher stress. The effort seeks to eliminate the stigma of seeking support for mental health, including depression, anxiety and farmer suicide. AgriSafe says research shows 20 percent of any population has mental health complications, including farmers and ranchers. Stigma and privacy concerns associated with mental health issues may mean that many people do not seek out available behavioral health services. Many of the factors that affect agricultural production are largely beyond the control of the producer. For example, isolation, variability in weather, lack of access to health services, and low commodity prices, could have a direct impact on the rise in mental health issues. Learn more about the network at agrisafe.org. ************************************************************************************ Farm Credit Conditions Show Additional Strength Agricultural credit conditions in the Tenth District of the Federal Reserve continued to strengthen in the first quarter of 2021. After a sharp rebound at the end of 2020, conditions in the broad agricultural economy continued to improve alongside additional increases in crop prices. Stronger profit potential for farm borrowers supported a second consecutive quarter of significant increases in farm income, loan repayment rates and farmland values, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. Overall, farm borrowers in the district were in a better financial position than at the beginning of 2020, but the pace of improvement was notably slower for livestock producers and for producers in areas affected by severe drought. Cattle prices remained below pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter, and the scope and severity of drought was a major concern in western states. The Tenth District includes portions of Missouri and New Mexico, along with Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wyoming. ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Restore Forests and Grasslands A group of Senators Thursday announced the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act of 2021. The legislation would formally authorize the Department of Agriculture’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Initiative to better support forest and grassland restoration projects across public and private land. The lawmakers say the bill supports voluntary restoration projects across ownership boundaries, so that treatments can occur across a landscape. Since USDA launched Joint Chiefs in 2014, the initiative has supported 93 projects, treated 300,000 acres of hazardous fuels, restored 29,000 acres in watersheds, and enhanced 200,000 acres of wildlife habitat. The legislation would formally establish the program at USDA, double its funding to help meet demand, and improve outreach and accountability. Senators Micheal Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, and John Hoeven, A North Dakota Republican, introduced the bill in the Senate. House Democrats Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Joe Neguse, along with Republican Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, introduced the bill in the House. ************************************************************************************ United Fresh and PMA Members Approve of New Organization The Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association held a member vote this week to seek approval to move forward in creating a single new organization. The new organization, announced earlier, this year will represent the global produce and floral communities. Each organization solicited votes from their members, and both reported full confidence in the initiative. The member vote was the final step in approval to dissolve each organization at end of year to incorporate a new association launching January 1, 2022. PMA and United Fresh have indicated that the next priority will be to create the organization’s new structure focused on best serving the industry’s needs and goals. Members can expect an update on the staff team, volunteer leadership structure, and business plans for 2022 in the coming months. Based on the member vote, both associations will now honor the membership status of the other organization when registering for events and programs. ************************************************************************************ USDA Purchasing Oversupplied Commodities for Food Assistance Programs The Department of Agriculture will purchase up to $159.4 million in domestically produced seafood, fruits, legumes, and nuts for distribution to a variety of domestic food assistance programs. The purchases, announced Thursday, are being made with funds under the authority of Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “These healthy, nutritious food purchases will benefit food banks and non-profits helping those struggling with food hardship.” The inventories of the included commodities are in high oversupply due to a decrease in demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption in the supply chain, as restaurants and other outlets closed during the pandemic. Within a few days of approval, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service will offer these commodities to their networks. Orders should be received during the first week of June with solicitations being issued mid-June and awards occurring near the end of the month. Deliveries should start to occur by mid-August. ************************************************************************************ Memphis Meats Rebrands as UPSIDE Foods, Plans Cultured Chicken Production Cultured meat company Memphis Meats announced this week a rebranding to UPSIDE Foods. The move comes as the company prepares to produce its first consumer product, cultured chicken. Uma Valeti, CEO and founder of UPSIDE Foods, says, "the evolution to UPSIDE Foods communicates our passion and potential to make our favorite foods healthier for the planet." The company released the world's first cultured meatball in February 2016 and the world's first cultured poultry in March 2017. Cultured chicken products will be available to consumers later this year, pending regulatory review. Grown from animal cells, the UPSIDE chicken cultivated without the need to raise an animal, and is not a plant-based meat alternative. To create the products at scale, UPSIDE Foods has broken ground on a pilot plant in the San Francisco Bay Area. The first custom-built for meat cultivation, the end-to-end facility will produce, package and ship cultured meat all under one roof.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Hope for an Infrastructure Deal Republican senators emerged from a meeting with President Joe Biden expressing some optimism on the prospects there could be a bipartisan deal on infrastructure. Republicans have resisted Biden's plan for $2.25 trillion for "infrastructure," arguing the package proposed by the White House is not just limited to infrastructure. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has emerged as the "point person" on the matter for Republicans having publicly called for Biden to listen to Republicans on the situation even when members of his own party are urging the president to go it alone and let the party use the budget reconciliation tool to get it done. Under budget reconciliation, it removes the requirement a package get 60 votes in the Senate in order to pass. Given the 50-50 margin in the chamber, it is an understandable push. A bipartisan counter-offer to Biden of $568 billion in infrastructure spending -- a package compiled by not just Republicans -- was rejected out of hand by most Democrats. But Biden agreed to meet with the lawmakers to see if and what kind of a deal could be reached with Republicans. And he has done so with some in his party warning they won't sit by and let Republicans negotiate and negotiate on the topic. Some Democrats believe Republicans would deploy that tactic only in the end to say no deal could be had. But Republicans were not disheartened after their session with Biden at the White House. "We think this infrastructure package can carry forward," Capito said. "The president has asked us to come back and re-work an offer so that he can then react to that, and then re-offer to us." Biden himself was positive coming out of the session. "We had a very, very good meeting," he told reporters in the Rose Garden, according to Bloomberg. "It was great to be back with so many of the colleagues that I had served with in the Senate. And I am very optimistic that we can reach a reasonable agreement. But even if we don't, it's been a good faith effort that we started." But the road ahead remains a rocky one potentially, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., emerging from a Wednesday session with Biden as saying the GOP has a "red line" on the Biden proposal to use an increase in corporate taxes as one of the ways to pay for the infrastructure deal. Even moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has expressed resistance to the 28% corporate tax rate proposed by Biden. Manchin has favored a tax rate no higher than 25% on companies and Biden recently said he was open to a discussion on that tax level. And there are signs, Bloomberg said, that Biden may be willing to break the package up. "There are increasing signs the bill would be split up if a bipartisan agreement on some infrastructure measures did emerge," Bloomberg said. "That would leave Biden to try to advance some or all of the rest of his proposal without Republican support." But what appears more and more likely is that to get bipartisan support for an infrastructure plan, there may need to be a refocusing of the effort on the traditional definition of infrastructure -- roads, bridges, railroads, locks and dams and the like. The crack that appeared in one of the supports on a key bridge on I-40 that crosses the Mississippi River could become a factor in the debate. While the bridge has been closed indefinitely, it means there will be automobile and truck traffic that get diverted to other routes to cross the river. But the other key is that the Mississippi River has also been closed to barge traffic, right at a time when U.S. ag products are being moved to export locations. So we will see. Infrastructure has long had an air of bipartisanship to it. And there are signs that could be the case this time around. Given the importance for agriculture of infrastructure to get their products to market and export channels, this situation needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


USTR Tai Provides Some Additional Insight On Biden Trade Plans U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai spent much of her appearance this week before the Senate Finance Committee defending and explaining the administration's newly adopted position of backing a waiver of intellectual property (IP) rules at the WTO relative to COVID vaccines. Republican lawmakers took the greatest exception to the shift, warning of what they viewed as an action to turn over U.S. IP to foreign countries, including Russia and China. While Tai did not specifically address the concerns relative to China and Russia, she continued to frame their administration's stance as one of wanting to expand COVID vaccines and save lives. Ag trade issues did not get a lot of focus in the session and even China was not a major attention point for lawmaker questions. More attention was put on issues with Mexico and Canada, ones that Tai pledged would be raised next week at a meeting of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Free Trade Commission. Those include Mexico's announced ban on glyphosate, GMO corn and softwood lumber and dairy issues with Canada. On China, Tai reiterated that the U.S. is continuing to approach the situation by engaging allies and she also referenced the top-to-bottom review of U.S. trade policies with China. Tai still has not shed a great deal of light on the Biden administration's trade focus, including on a U.S.-UK trade deal. She did acknowledge there are still "very critical issue areas" that are open in those negotiations, and there is "quite a road to go there." That suggests there is not yet a focus on pushing those negotiations forward as she related she is still wanting to think through how to construct such a trade accord.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


EPA Plans Public Hearings On WOTUS This Summer, Fall EPA will conduct public information gathering sessions this summer and fall relative to its plans to revisit the navigable waters rule, Radhika Fox told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing to be Radhika Fox's confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to be the assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Water. She said EPA will seek to learn from the "wisdom, the voice, and the lived, practical experience of people in complying with our rules." That echoes remarks from EPA Administrator Michael Regan who said the agency was seeking to revisit the issue and he also has pledged EPA will not keep the Trump version of the rule in place nor will they return completely to the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. "Administrator [Michael] Regan and I want an enduring definition of waters of the U.S., one that can withstand administration changes," she added. The WOTUS rule was a flashpoint for many in U.S. agriculture and fed the Trump replacement of the rule. Ag interests will be following the process closely to make sure that a return to the Obama-era rule does not unfold.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. retail sales for April is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, followed by the Federal Reserve's report on April industrial production at 8:15 a.m. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey for April is set for 9 a.m. Traders will keep close watch on the latest weather forecasts. Friday is also the final day of trading for May grain futures. Weather Light rain showers are in store for portions of the western Midwest Friday. The rain area expands into the central and southern Plains later Friday. Areas with rain will have useful crop moisture. Drought areas of the northern and far southwestern Plains along with the Northwest and Canadian Prairies have very little rain indicated.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


USDA WASDE Report Released The Department of Agriculture released its latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand report Wednesday. USDA says the corn crop is projected at 15.0 billion bushels, up from last year on higher area and a return to trend yield. The yield projection of 179.5 bushels per acre is based on a weather-adjusted trend assuming normal planting progress and summer weather. The season-average corn price received by producers is projected at $5.70 per bushel, up $1.35 from a year ago when much of the crop was marketed at lower prices. The soybean crop is projected at 4.4 billion bushels, up 270 million from last year on increased harvested area and trend yields. With lower beginning stocks, soybean supplies are projected down three percent. The season-average soybean price is projected at $13.85 per bushel, up $2.60 from last year. The outlook for U.S. wheat is for smaller supplies, higher domestic use, lower exports, and reduced stocks and a season-average farm price of $6.50 per bushel. ************************************************************************************ Study Shows Consumer Attitudes on Cultivated Meat Global research released this week shows consumers are open to pivoting to cultivated meat in the future. The study was released by Aleph Farms, a cultured meat startup based in Israel, with an office in the United States. Their research claims many consumers were not familiar with cultivated meat. Yet, upon being presented with a description, the respondents, on average, imagined that cultivated meat could make up about 40 percent of their future meat intake, with conventional meat constituting around 60 percent. The survey included roughly 2,000 U.S. consumers and 2,000 UK consumers. In addition, the study showed patterns of greater openness to trying such products by younger generational groups: 87-89 percent of Gen Z adults, 84-85 percent of Millennials, 76-77 percent of Gen X, and 70-74 percent of Boomers were at least somewhat open to trying cultivated meat. An Aleph farms representative states the organization's vision "is to provide a better alternative to industrial livestock farming.” ************************************************************************************ Report Offers Farmer Insight on Data Collection and Sharing Several challenges prevent farmers from collecting and sharing data on their production practices. However, there is ample opportunity to empower farmer’s digital transition, according to new research from Farm Journal’s Trust In Food initiative and the Sustainability Consortium. Farm-level production data plays a critical role in conservation and sustainability efforts. Previous research shows only eight percent of food and beverage companies who could report data said they have visibility into on-farm practices. More than half of all respondents, 64 percent, said they do not rely on-farm management information systems exclusively. Almost a third of respondents, 28 percent, said their primary data storage method is paper or another non-digitized method. Of those that do not use digital, only half have considered transitioning to digital. Additionally, 73 percent of respondents do not trust private companies with their data, and 58 percent do not trust the government with it. Conversely, 71 percent do trust their financial institutions with data. ************************************************************************************ April 2021 Farm Tractor Sales Grow Over Already-Large 2020 Gains U.S. farm tractor unit sales continue double-digit growth rate in both the U.S. and Canada, and inventories continue to fall, after a strong month of April. U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 22.7 percent in April compared to 2020, which was the first month of the current sales growth trend, while U.S. combine sales fell 3.2 percent. U.S. tractor sales grew across every segment, with the biggest gains in the 100 plus horsepower segment, up 29.2 percent. For Canada, April monthly tractor and combine sales were positive across all segments, with the four-wheel-drive segment nearly doubling, up 93.3 percent to 201 units sold, while total farm tractor sales were up 72.3 percent. Combine sales also grew 23.1 percent. Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, says, “Seeing the larger row-crop units leading the way in segment gains shows the pull rising commodity prices have been having on equipment sales.” ************************************************************************************ U.S. and Mexico Keep Organic Trade Open Mexico last week agreed to extend the deadline for U.S. organic exports to be certified to its Organic Products Law. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with his counterpart, and they agreed to extend the compliance deadline to December 31, 2021. Through 2021, USDA-certified organic products may continue to be exported, but on January 1, 2022, organic products exported from the U.S. to Mexico must be certified to the Organic Products Law standard. Secretary Vilsack this week commented on the deadline extension, “This is another important step for American agriculture and for maintaining positive bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico, one of our most important export markets.” Mexico’s Organic Products Law and regulations for organic production were implemented in April 2017. The regulations require all organic products sold in Mexico to be certified under the Mexican organic standards or to a standard that has been deemed equivalent under an organic equivalency arrangement. ************************************************************************************ Farmers for Sustainable Food Marks Transformation of Conservation Alliance An alliance created five years ago to support and promote farmers in their conservation efforts has reached a new level. The Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance this week announced its transformation into Farmers for Sustainable Food. The group is a nonprofit organization that provides resources, advocacy, support and empowerment for farmers who are innovating and demonstrating sustainable farming practices. The transition marks a change to a broader focus, more innovative projects, and a diverse set of partners, according to a news release.” Farmers for Sustainable Food President Todd Doornink says, ”Our focus is on uniting stakeholders to collaborate across organizational lines, inspiring farmers to be leaders of change and empowering our partners to meet their goals.” The organization closely supports six farmer-led watershed conservation groups encompassing 211 farms, nearly 300,000 acres and 212,000 cows, hogs and other livestock. The organization and its partners are also developing on-farm initiatives to test ways of measuring sustainability and documenting the impact of conservation practices, both environmentally and financially.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


Washington Insider: USDA Winding Food Box Program USDA this month is winding down a program launched by the Trump administration in an effort to help farmers that saw markets disappear for their products during the pandemic, CNN is reporting. They launched the Farmers to Families Food Box Program at the height of the pandemic and it delivered nearly 167 million boxes of fresh food to families in need and helped farmers sell their produce at a time when supply chain disruptions forced them to dump milk and destroy their crops. The Biden administration initially had not signaled which way it would go on the program, with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack suddenly signaling the agency would end the effort. But the end of the program is one that will also be a challenge as CNN pointed out it needs to be wound down "in a way that doesn't create more problems for those still in need." Surprisingly, the Food Box program was ended even though it had a lot of support on the Hill, including several Democrats. During Vilsack's confirmation hearing, Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., spoke glowingly about the program and how it provided help to families in need and provided them access to nutritious and fresh foods. Another Democrat, Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J., the chairman of the Senate nutrition subcommittee, is calling on the government to keep a version of the food box program permanent as a way to make sure that needy families are able to get access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Food Box program was not without its issues. USDA bypassed normal food aid channels in a bid to try and get the aid out quicker and in a more-regional way. Their choice of a firm in Texas to handle a portion of the program that had no experience in food delivery raised more than a few complaints, but their participation in the program was short-lived. The Trump administration injected funds into the program when they were nearly exhausted and warded off ending the program. When food deliveries began to dry up at one point, several stories appeared about recipients and those delivering the food were anxious for it to continue. CNN reported that the Capital Area Food Bank based in Washington, DC, helped deliver more than 1 million of the food boxes to families, making up nearly one-third of the meals it provided during the pandemic. They are among those hoping it will continue. "For our clients, the recovery is a long and slow one," said Radha Muthiah, Capital Area Food Bank's president and CEO. "The most important thing is to provide good, nutritious food for them and we certainly still need USDA as a partner." But politics also came to play in the program. CNN pointed out that in the run-up to the election, former President Donald Trump required that the boxes include a letter from him touting the benefit. While critics argued that it should have deployed the $5 billion spent in the program via the usual nutrition programs, the effort focused on fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat and put it all into one box. In a statement, the USDA said the Food Box program was meant to be a temporary effort. "It served that purpose, although with serious challenges, and now we must make sure people are getting access to food through other, more reliable channels," USDA said. But even in ending the program, Vilsack hinted that it may not be totally dead. Rather, he suggested that USDA would possibly take the "best of" the Food Box effort and incorporate it into existing program. So we will see. The expectation of many had been that the program would see at the very least a new name and some structural changes. But few expected to see it jettisoned as a whole, especially with bipartisan support for an effort launched as an emergency action that became very popular. The Food Box program may be gone by name, but expectations are that remnants will still be present. It is a situation which bears watching, especially one that creates a closer link between farmers and consumers, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


USDA Reopens Comment Period On Origins Of Livestock Rule For Dairy Under Organic Regs USDA is reopening the comment period for 60 days on a rule published April 28, 2015, relative to the origin of livestock regarding dairy cattle under USDA's organic regulations. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is reopening the comment period "to give all interested parties an opportunity to comment on whether AMS should prohibit the movement of transitioned cows in organic dairy production as part of the final rule." Comments are due July 12, according to the notice in the May 12 Federal Register. USDA initially reopened the comment period on the proposed rule October 1, 2019, receiving around 750 comments at that point. The reopening of the comment period now is to get views on two additional issues on the movement of transitioned animals and the updated economic analysis of the proposed rule.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


Canada Firmly Opposes Any US Attempt To Resurrect COOL Kristen Hillman, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., said Tuesday the country would strongly oppose any new proposals from the U.S. to resurrect mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef and pork. "We went through this in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and we are very firmly of the view that mandatory country of origin labeling is inappropriate," Hillman said during a Washington Ag Roundtable webinar. "That's an issue that has been fully litigated and I wouldn't want to see us go back to that." Both Canada and Mexico challenge the last U.S. COOL attempt and won a battle at the World Trade Organization. The U.S. appealed and lost before repealing it under threat of $1.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on a list of U.S. products. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, long an opponent of mandatory COOL, raised the issue last week with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims, the U.S. producer price index and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory is due out at 9:30 a.m. Traders continue to watch the latest weather forecasts and check for any export news. Weather Dry conditions will cover all primary crop areas Thursday. A warming trend is also in store which will favor planting and early crop development. Eastern Midwest progress will lag due to cooler conditions including some frost and freeze issues. Dry conditions remain stressful in drought areas of the northern Midwest, northern and southwestern Plains, Northwest, and Canadian Prairies. Forecast maps indicate a slow-moving storm system during the first half of next week bringing possibly significant precipitation to central and southern crop areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


12 States Launch Farm Stress Resource Center Midwestern farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers have direct access to a new tool to help them manage stress, anxiety, depression, or substance issues. A new website, www.FarmStress.org, is designed to help provide the agricultural community with resources and support provided through the North Central Farm and Ranch Assistance Center. “May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s an opportune time to unveil this website that will serve as a clearinghouse for stress and mental health resources for anyone experiencing stress related to the many challenges of farming,” says Josie Rudolphi (Roo-DOLL-fee) of the University of Illinois. The North Central Farm and Ranch Assistance Center is a 12-state collaborative based at the University of Illinois and works to expand access to and knowledge of mental health resources. The website shares available resources and research in a convenient, easy to access location. It also has resources by state and topic, including crisis numbers, telephone hotlines, and training resources. Rudolphi wants to encourage people in the agricultural community to bookmark the site for future reference on the many challenges that they, their families, employees, and clients face in agriculture. ********************************************************************************************** Agriculture Linked to U.S. Air Pollution Deaths Air pollution is the largest environmental mortality risk in the U.S. The National Academy of Sciences says air pollution is responsible for 100,000 premature deaths every year, and one-fifth of those deaths are linked to agriculture. Scientists from five universities noted in the study that air quality is largely ignored in discussions on the health and environmental impacts of food. “Agricultural production in the U.S. results in 17,900 annual air quality-related deaths, 15,900 of which are from food production,” the researchers say. “Of those, 80 percent are attributable to animal-based foods, both directly from animal production and indirectly from growing animal feed.” The study authors also say that dietary shifts toward more plant-based foods that maintain protein content and other nutritional needs could reduce agricultural air quality-related mortality by 68 percent to 83 percent. Agriculture groups like the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association told the Washington Post that they consider the report’s data and methodology flawed. ********************************************************************************************** Growth Energy on the Colonial Pipeline Incident Growth Energy sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the cyberattack against the Colonial Pipeline. The letter calls for the officials to immediately reduce restrictions on higher ethanol-blended fuels as relief for resulting supply disruptions and rising gas prices. “E15 is now sold at nearly 2,400 locations across the country, including several hundred locations in the Southeast, where the impact of the Colonial is most felt,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “By immediately removing remaining regulatory hurdles and providing greater access to E15, you can help keep fuel prices in check for American consumers and ease concerns about the fuel supply.” The organization asked the officials to make E15 broadly available at all fuel terminals in areas impacted by related fuel shortages. They also want the EPA to finalize the proposed rule that would broaden the availability of existing infrastructure for use with E15 and related labeling concerns. “We also urge you to remove unnecessary misfuelling requirements, including the restrictions on the use of E15 in shared fueling hoses with 10 percent blended fuel and related fuel sampling requirements,” Skor adds. “Finally, we strongly encourage the government to strengthen its use of higher ethanol blends such as E85 in its current flex-fuel fleet.” ********************************************************************************************** ADM Building First Soy Processing Plant in North Dakota ADM says it will build the first-ever dedicated soybean crushing plant and refinery in North Dakota. The goal of the new facility is to meet the fast-growing demand from food, feed, industrial, and biofuel customers, including renewable diesel producers. It will be in Spiritwood, North Dakota, with the approximately $350 million crush and refining complex to feature state-of-the-art automation technology and have the capacity to process 150,000 bushels of soybeans a day. The company is putting the facility in the middle of a major soybean-producing area, which means ADM’s logistics network will enable the facility to access both domestic and global markets for soybean oil. The new plant will be completed before the 2023 harvest. “This project allows us to partner with North Dakota farmers to further advance the role of ag in addressing climate change through the production of low carbon feedstocks for products like renewable diesel,” says Greg Morris, ADM’s President of Ag Services and Oilseeds Business. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum says, “This plant is a gamechanger for North Dakota farmers, adding value and expanding the market for this important crop closer to home while also supporting the production of products like renewable green diesel right here in the state.” ********************************************************************************************** Drought Emergency Declared in 41 California Counties California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an expanded “drought emergency proclamation” for 41 of the state’s 58 counties. Reuters says he cited above-average temperatures and dry conditions in April and May. Newsom directed the state water board to consider modifying the requirements for reservoir releases and other conservation measures. In addition, the declaration gives California officials flexibility in regulatory requirements to mitigate drought impacts, which Newsom attributed in part to climate change. “We’re working with local officials and other partners to protect public health and safety and the environment and call on all residents to help meet the challenge by stepping up efforts to save water,” Newsom says. The move was criticized by a wildlife protection group called Save California Salmon, which accuses Newsom of favoring big agricultural interests. A statement from the groups says, “California’s antiquated water rights system leaves cities and the environment high and dry while almonds get clean water. Poor water management during the last drought led to 90 percent of salmon dying, and toxic algae bloom in cities’ water supplies.” *********************************************************************************************** Global Pork Production Slowed by Herd Health and Supply Issues Rabobank says hog prices are sharply higher in many markets worldwide as processors are scrambling to find adequate supplies. Higher disease losses in key growing regions, along with the lagging impact of industry liquidation brought on by COVID-19, have limited available hog supplies. “African Swine Fever has proven harder to manage than initially expected in some regions, slowing herd rebuilding efforts in Asia and shifting trade expectations for the rest of the world,” says Christine McCracken, Senior Analyst for Animal Protein at Rabobank. Higher disease-related losses in parts of North America are also contributing to the supply shortfall in the U.S. and Mexico. The re-emergence of Classical Swine Fever in Japan and Brazil is currently expected to have a limited impact on production but still brings new risk to the markets. “We expect a gradual recovery in the herd, yet higher costs of raising animals and demand uncertainty are expected to moderate the pace of growth,” McCracken says. Higher costs in raising hogs are contributing to production slowdowns in certain regions, as the price of feed is up 35 percent year over year. Lower production expectations have left the market short of pork, just as demand is getting stronger.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Mexico to Allow US Organic Products in Through 2021 Trade issues between the U.S. and Mexico have emerged the past week, with the AFL-CIO filing a case under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on what they say are labor abuses by an auto-parts factory in Mexico. The U.S. has also pushed Mexico to remove its restrictions on imports of U.S. potatoes, but that dispute remains in the hands of the Mexican court system. That one is expected to result in Mexico allowing in U.S. potatoes, but so far that resolution has not yet been put in place. But there has been some action on the part of Mexico that will at least temporarily remove some uncertainty on the trade front in Mexico agreeing to extend an allowance for U.S. organic products to come into Mexico. Mexico put in place its Organic Products Law which would require all organic products sold in Mexico to be certified under Mexican organic standards. Or the rules also would allow those products to be sold if they came from a country where Mexico deems the standards to be equivalent of their rules. Organic products from Mexico have to be certified under USDA organic regulations, with around 24 accredited certifiers in Mexico and more than 1,600 operations in Mexico that have been deemed USDA certified. But therein lies the rub. U.S. products that are USDA certified can be exported into Mexico, but the two sides have not yet reached agreement on whether that USDA certification meets the standards laid out in Mexico. The two sides have been working on that issue for quite some time. According to USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service, "The U.S. and Mexico hope to sign an arrangement to allow USDA-certified product to continue to be sold in Mexico under organic equivalency arrangement." Mexico has put in place a deadline of June 26, 2021, for U.S. products to be certified under its organics law (LPO). Mexico held a seminar on the matter last month. But USDA on Tuesday announced that Mexico has agreed to let those USDA certified organic products enter the country through Dec. 31. "I am pleased to report that on May 7, 2021, Mexico's Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) extended the deadline for U.S. organic exports to be certified to its Organic Products Law (LPO)." USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced. "This is a request that I made directly to Mexico's Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development Victor Villalobos and am grateful that he extended the compliance deadline to Dec. 31, 2021." The U.S. will continue its efforts work with U.S. organic exporters to assist in transitioning to LPO compliance, Vilsack said, "and will continue to provide updates as necessary." In 2017, U.S. exports of selected organic products to Mexico totaled more than $133 million, while U.S. organic imports from Mexico during that same time topped $278 million. The USDA and Mexico's National Service for Animal and Plant Health, Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA) are evaluating each other's systems to determine whether an organic equivalency arrangement could be established between the U.S. and Mexico. While pushing back the deadline is certainly welcome, it still does not resolve the issue that the Mexican regulations could pose. And it underscores that even close trading partners like the U.S. and Mexico do not always see eye to eye on trade and regulatory matters. So we will see. Clearly for organic products this is at least provides some breathing room. And it provides still-more time for the two sides to work out some kind of agreement. But moving the deadline back still does not resolve the issues, nor does the situation address other trade matters between the two sides on ag products. These are developments that producers beyond organic growers should monitor closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


CFAP 2 Payouts Rise Slightly in Latest Week Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) increased to $13.59 billion as of May 9, up from $13.55 billion the prior week. Totals include $6.25 billion in acreage-based payments, $3.44 billion for livestock, $2.63 billion for sales commodities, $1.21 billion for dairy and $58.31 million for eggs/broilers. Payments under CFAP 1 payments were little changed at $10.57 billion. There still is little information available about payments under the CFAP Additional Assistance effort even though USDA has said they are processing payments for "certain applications" filed under that effort.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


COOL On List Of Issues NCBA Raised With USTR Tai National Cattlemen's Beef Association CEO Colin Woodall met with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Friday (May 7) to "discuss ways to resolve issues surrounding country of origin labeling and agriculture's contributions to meeting the administration's sustainability and environmental goals," according to a readout of the virtual meeting released by the Tai's office. Tai also "committed to monitoring Chinese compliance with the structural commitments of the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Agreement," and the two agreed to continue a dialogue in the future. The issue of country of origin labeling (COOL) has continued to be talked about as the Biden administration has begun its work, something that observers in Canada and Mexico have been following closely. The U.S. removed mandatory COOL from law after losing a case at the WTO and Canada still has the authority to impose $1 billion in retaliation should mandatory COOL be brought back in.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will report on consumer prices at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday with ramifications for interest rates and the U.S. dollar. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly inventory report, including ethanol production. USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports are due out at 11 a.m. CDT, offering new-crop estimates, as well as old. The U.S. Treasury reports on the April budget at 1 p.m. Weather Wednesday will be dry and very cool to cold in the Midwest. Frost and freeze advisories cover much of the region early. The pattern shows a warming trend beginning during the day to more seasonal values. Precipitation will focus on the Gulf Coast and Southeast with a flash flood threat in the lower Delta. Dryness and drought concern continue in the northwestern Midwest, Northern Plains and throughout the western and northwestern U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Canadian National Railway Purchasing 1,000 Grain Cars Canadian National Railway has placed an order for 1,000 new generation, high-capacity grain hopper cars. The new railcars, to be built in Mexico, will help meet the growing needs of North American grain farmers and the demands of grain customers. The order is part of a larger program to build and renew a fleet of 6,000 hopper railcars over the next three years. CN recently made a formal offer to acquire Kansas City Southern. The combination would extend the span of CN’s network from Canada and the U.S. into Mexico, making it the first railroad to link North America’s three national economies. CN President and CEO JJ Ruest states the railcars "will help move more grain across the CN rail network, which continues to make CN the embodiment of a true USMCA railroad.” The railway also noted that support for its Kansas City Southern proposal is expanding, with more letters of support being submitted to the Surface Transportation Board. ************************************************************************************ Vilsack Tours Colorado Wildfire Recovery Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Colorado Friday, surveying wildfire recovery efforts. Joined by Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, and others, Vilsack visited two sites in the Cameron Peak Fire area, the largest fire in Colorado history, burning 208,913 acres. After, the group held a roundtable discussion on climate change mitigation and adaptation, drought, conservation and soil health, the agricultural workforce, and other issues. Senator Bennet says, “We have to protect our forests and invest in our watersheds —these are national assets. Secretary Vilsack understands that, and I'm glad he was here to see Colorado’s efforts.” Vilsack continued his trip Monday, focusing on ensuring children have access to safe and healthy food with a visit to a school in Aurora. USDA says the Biden Administration is committed to ending child hunger and has taken steps to expand healthy and free school meals. As a result, hunger has fallen by 43 percent since December thanks, in part, to these investments. ************************************************************************************ Impossible Foods Gains School Nutrition Label Impossible Foods recently secured Child Nutrition Labels, clearing a path towards entering the K-12 market this fall. Child Nutrition Labels are voluntary food crediting statements authorized by the Department of Agriculture. The labels make it easier for schools participating in federal Child Nutrition Programs to determine how much a particular food contributes to federal meal pattern requirements for nutritionally balanced meals for children each school day. With the Child Nutrition labels secured, Impossible Foods is kicking off K-12 pilot programs this month with school districts across the United States. Participating schools are using the product in dishes ranging from Impossible Street Tacos to Impossible Frito Pie, to Spaghetti with Impossible Meat Sauce. School district pilot participants also surveyed kids after using the Impossible items to gauge their interests. Jessica Appelgren, Vice President of Communications at Impossible Foods, says, “Our CN Label launch is just the beginning of Impossible Foods engaging this next crucial generation.” ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Launches New Consumer Campaign Growth Energy last week launched a new consumer campaign to encourage drivers to choose biofuels. During the organization’s 12th Annual Executive Leadership Conference, Growth Energy announced the effort that seeks to raise awareness about biofuels’ positive environmental benefits. Through a series of targeted digital content, advertising, and digital media, the Get Biofuel campaign aligns biofuel benefits to an empowerment message titled “Fuel Beyond.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “Our industry’s passion for showcasing the benefits of biofuels is unparalleled, and I’m thrilled to unveil this new initiative.” The website, getbiofuel.com, outlines the benefits of biofuels and encourages drivers to choose biofuel blends at the pump. The website tells consumers biofuel cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent. The pilot campaign for the initiative launched on Earth Day, April 22, 2021, in the Raleigh, North Carolina and Salt Lake City, Utah media markets, and is slated to expand nationally in fall 2021. ************************************************************************************ USDA: Develop a Food Safety Plan for Hurricane Season The Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service urges residents along coastal areas to have a hurricane food safety plan. USDA says when a hurricane hits, prolonged power outages and flood damage are two of the biggest risks to food. The recommendations including buying ice packs and coolers days before a hurricane arrives, and freezing containers of water to make ice. Additionally, USDA says to use an appliance thermometer to determine the safety of your perishable foods. Meat, poultry, fish and egg products must be kept at 40 Fahrenheit or below and frozen food at zero degrees or below. Illness-causing bacteria grow in temperatures between 40 and 140 Fahrenheit. Bacteria that develop at these temperatures generally do not alter in a noticeable way. During a power outage, a refrigerator will keep food safe for up to four hours, and a full freezer will hold temperatures for 48 hours or 24 hours if half full. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Veteran Coalition Issues Grants to Small Farmers The Farmer Veteran Coalition announced grants last week to support veterans in their early years of farming and ranching. More than 100 farmers are being awarded equipment thanks to the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund. FVC Executive Director Jeanette Lombardo says, “We directly purchase a piece of equipment the farmer has identified as being critical.” Over 11 years, more than 700 veterans have benefitted with $3.5 million in equipment distributed. The 2021 class includes representatives in nearly 40 states and 47 females. Equipment will soon be delivered to farms starting now and into the summer. Grantees anxiously await greenhouses and grow tents, walk-in coolers and cold storage units, milking systems, water filtrations, and honey extractors. Other unique requests include a mushroom substrate steamer and a lavender bud stripper. Funding is made possible through sponsored support. Some of this year's grantees have been mentored by other farmer veterans throughout their careers, and many intend to hire veterans as they expand their own businesses.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US Labor Brings First USMCA Challenge The U.S. labor union AFL-CIO has filed a complaint against a Mexican auto-parts factory over working conditions at the plant that is just across the border from Brownsville, Texas. The Tridonex plant in Matamoros is facing the first complaint brought under provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The groups are utilizing what is called a rapid-response mechanism that was put into place as part of the USMCA deal that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). "USMCA requires Mexico to end the reign of protection unions and their corrupt deals with employers," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. The AFL-CIO said workers at the plant had been "harassed and fired over their efforts to organize with an independent union, SNITIS, in place of a company-controlled union," according to the New York Times. Susana Prieto Terrazas is a Mexican labor lawyer and leader of SNITIS and was jailed last year. Prieto was only released after she agreed to internal exile in another Mexican state and was banned from appearing in labor court. Under USMCA, the Times reported that Mexico was required to make major changes to its labor system which the paper said included actions like putting "sham collective bargaining agreements known as protection contracts" in place, actions which lock in low wages. Under the rapid-response system that was put in place by USMCA, complaints about labor violations can be brought against an individual factory and penalties can be applied to that factory. Under USMCA, Mexico was pushed to improve labor conditions and pay for workers in Mexico, something which backers of the provisions said would aid American workers as it would not encourage companies to shift operations to Mexico with cheaper labor. Tridonex is a subsidiary of U.S.-based Cardone Industries, controlled by Canadian-based Brookfield Asset Management. Cardone moved its brakes division to Mexico in 2016 and laid off some 1,300 workers in Philadelphia, the Times noted. Agriculture is among the industries that have been eyeing the USMCA for action, with an initial complaint filed against Canada over their dairy import actions and implementation of provisions in USMCA that would grant the U.S. more access to the Canadian market. That case is still pending. Under USMCA, the dispute settlement processes put in place have a relatively short timeline for resolution. So neither the labor complaint nor the dairy complaint are expected to become protracted actions that take months or even years to resolve. Indeed, the rapid-response mechanism on labor was billed in a fact sheet for the agreement as "providing for monitoring and expedited enforcement of labor rights to ensure effective implementation of Mexico's landmark labor reform at particular facilities while respecting sovereignty and due process." And from the U.S. side, one of those intimately familiar with those provisions is none other than U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. She was chief counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee when the Trump administration worked with Congress to put together the implementing language for USMCA. And, Tai has made clear that U.S. trade policy under the Biden administration will be more worker oriented. So we shall see. The administration now has two complaints to manage under USCMA even though they are disparate issues--labor and dairy. Still, these represent some of the initial examples of how the new trade deal will run. Ag interests should follow both of these cases closely as they unfold, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Friction Between Food Suppliers and Retailers Increasing Big buyers including Walmart and Sysco are starting to fine suppliers over late food deliveries or incomplete orders, as tight labor conditions, supply constraints and higher freight costs course through distribution channels, the Wall Street Journal reported. The paper said that penalties revive programs that were suspended during the pandemic, when sudden upheaval in consumer buying patterns triggered widespread supply shortages. Retailers say they are trying to keep shelves stocked in a rebounding U.S. economy, but suppliers like Pillsbury owner Hometown Food say their supply chains are still challenged by soaring raw materials costs and tight transportation capacity. The higher costs are filtering through to consumers. A new reading on inflation at the consumer level will arrive this week along with an update on wholesale inflation levels.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Bipartisan Carbon Tax Bill Would Replace Federal Fuel Taxes A bipartisan bill in the House would tax carbon emissions, send 70% of the revenue to the Highway Trust Fund and eliminate the federal gas tax. According to text obtained by CQ Roll Call, the bill would levy a $35 per-metric-ton tax on fossil fuels--specifically coal, oil and gas--a charge that would begin in 2023 and increase by 5% every year, indexed to inflation. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., introduced the bill in the previous Congress. The bill's reintroduction Friday comes as some conservative-leaning industry groups have warmed to the prospect of pricing carbon emissions while elected GOP politicians continue to drift away from the concept. The measure calls for the remaining 30% be spread across other projects. The bill would also extend tax credits under Treasury's so-called 45Q program for carbon-capture technology, a method of trapping emissions before they enter the atmosphere, from 2026 to 2028.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no official reports on Tuesday's docket, but traders will be watching the latest weather forecasts and any for any news of export sales or grain imports into the U.S. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for much of the Southern Plains through the Delta Tuesday. The rain offers moisture benefit for wheat and cotton. Some flash flooding is also likely in the lower Delta. Other crop areas will be dry with frost and freeze potential early morning in the northern Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


China Trade with U.S., Australia, Growing Despite Tensions Chinese exports hit higher numbers in April than anticipated as global demand for the country’s goods remained high despite other countries’ dealing with coronavirus recovery. A CNBC report says Chinese exports to the U.S. rose 31 percent in April, compared to a year ago, to $43.05 billion, while imports from the U.S. rose 52 percent to $13.94 billion. China’s trade with its major partners grew despite tensions. China and the U.S. levied tariffs on each other worth billions during the trade war with the Trump Administration. Tensions between China and Australia took a wrong turn late last week as Beijing suspended further high-level economic negotiations between the two countries. Economist Joseph Capurso of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia says the improvement in trade between the U.S. and China is due to President Biden’s fiscal stimulus. “The recovery in U.S.-China trade has reversed much of the trade war slump, even though few restrictions on trade have actually gotten removed,” he says. “China has also bought Australian products despite restrictions, most of which are on farm goods.” Chinese imports from Australia rose 49 percent to $40 billion, while imports jumped 43 percent to $26.79 billion. ********************************************************************************************** Coalition Asks Tai to Consider Rejoining Pacific Trade Group A bipartisan coalition of House and Senate members sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Hagstrom Report says the letter points out that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement was wrong and asks her to investigate the “pros and cons of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which was signed by 11 other TPP countries in 2018 without the U.S.” The legislators say in the letter that “our current trade policy in the Asia-Pacific region needs a strategic direction that includes robust engagement with our allies in the region, similar to what was envisioned by the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership.” They also say that withdrawing from the trade agreement was a missed opportunity to strengthen U.S. leadership in the global economy and reinforce America’s commitment to a rules-based system for international trade. “The stakes are exceptionally high,” the letter continues. “The region is home to China, one of America’s biggest rivals, whose values and interests are much different from our own.” They say that China’s trade practices have violated international rules and the fundamental principles of fairness, causing harm to U.S. businesses and workers. ********************************************************************************************** PLC Seeks Proposals to Address Public Lands Issues The Public Lands Council has released a Request for Proposals on subjects related to the public lands ranching industry, economic viability, natural resource stewardship, and other issues. Each year, the PLC Board of Directors identifies priority areas that will help address scientific and practical challenges that affect cattle and sheep producers across the West. The PLC board identified several issues for consideration, including carbon storage. They want to know how livestock grazing interacts with carbon storage, organic matter volume, and other environmental metrics on public lands. Another topic is livestock and wildlife, with the board wanting to know if there are demonstratable interactions between public lands grazing and wildlife habitat or migration patterns. They also are looking for input on multiple-use challenges and education for public lands, as well as wildfire challenges and how grazing affects the development of fires. The PLC awards grants for the Fiscal Year 2022 that will help support projects designed to answer some of these questions and solve some problems when it comes to public land grazing. For more information, go to www.publiclandscouncil.org. ********************************************************************************************** AEM Talks Record-High Equipment Sales Curt Blades, the Senior Vice President of Ag Services with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, says, “We’re operating in a very interesting market right now.” In the first quarter of 2021, total farm tractor unit sales are up more than 50 percent in the U.S. and nearly 60 percent in Canada. Those numbers come from the recent AEM Ag Tractor Combine Report that comes out every month. “For the last 12 months, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the under-40 horsepower, or small tractor sales in North America, both the U.S. and Canada,” he says. “This is due largely to a lot of the industries that have done well during COVID-19, like luxury items or things that have to do with the home.” Small tractors fall into that category. Small tractor sales are spiking as they head to suburbs with larger lots to help homeowners haul rocks and dirt, work around trees, and improve their property. Later in 2020, larger row-crop and articulated four-wheel-drive tractors also enjoyed rising sales numbers. Over the last five years, the average age of the ag fleet grew in both the U.S. and Canada. As commodity prices rose and trade difficulties eased, not only is the replacement market doing well, but farmers are upgrading their operations with newer technology. *********************************************************************************************** April Food Price Index Up 30 Percent Over Last year The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities. The index shows a significant price increase for food compared to 2020. The newest Food Price Index averaged 120.9 points in April, two percent higher than March and almost 31 percent higher than the same point last year. It’s the eleventh-consecutive monthly rise in the value of the index, which has reached its highest level since May 2014. The April rise was led by strong increases in the prices of sugar, followed by oils, meats, dairy, and cereals. The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 100 points in April, four percent higher than March and almost 60 percent higher than the same month last year. Another big jump took place in the Dairy Price Index, which averaged 118.9 points in April, up two percent from March, the eleventh-straight month of increases. The dairy index is also 24 percent higher than the same time in 2020. ********************************************************************************************** FFA Continues to Support Next Generation’s Leaders FFA awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships to 974 recipients with the help of more than 300 sponsors and donors. The FFA scholarships were available to students pursuing two-year or four-year degrees, or vocational certification, or specialized training programs. The average recipient had a GPA of 3.7 on a 4.0 scale. This year is the 37th year for the scholarship program, which began in 1984 with only 16 scholarships. Since then, more than $50 million have gotten awarded in scholarship funds through the National FFA Organization. The selection process considers the whole student, including FFA involvement, work experience, supervised agricultural experiences, community service, leadership skills, academic performance, and financial need. “We know that our FFA members are the next generation of leaders who will change the world,” says Michele Sullivan, senior manager of local engagement. “These scholarships are just one more way to support them on the next steps in their educational journeys.” More information is available at www.FFA.org. New information on the 2022 FFA Scholarships will be released on November 1.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Cyberattack Shuts Down Key Pipeline Politico is reporting that the pipeline system that feeds much of U.S. East Coast fuel supplies was shut down Friday as a cyberattack hit the Colonial Pipeline. The company said on Sunday it had no estimate on when it could restart the 5,500-mile pipeline that it shut Friday after a cyberattack. The pipeline supplies about 45% of the gasoline and diesel that is consumed on the U.S. East Coast from the hub of refineries near Houston. It remains offline for now, the company said in a statement, though it restarted some smaller lines that run off the main arteries. Prices for wholesale gasoline in the financial futures market jumped as much as 4% in Sunday evening trading to their highest level since 2018, the report said. Colonial also confirmed that hackers used ransomware to shut down its internal computer business networks. That prompted the company to shut down the systems that control the pipeline as a precaution, and it has brought in third-party cybersecurity firms and is trying to restore its IT system, the Georgia-based company said, according to Politico. "It's an all-hands-on-deck effort right now," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said of the government's response during a Sunday television interview. "And we are working closely with the company, state and local officials to, you know, make sure that they get back up to normal operations as quickly as possible and there aren't disruptions in supply." The trade group American Petroleum Institute said it was closely monitoring the pipeline situation and that cybersecurity is a top priority for the energy industry. The Department of Transportation issued waivers on Sunday allowing fuel truck drivers in 17 states to work additional hours to try and supply products. And several media outlets reported that a Russian group has links to the situation with CNN reporting that the Russian group "Darkside" is believed to be responsible for the ransomware attack. The situation has exposed one of the biggest fears that is nearly unspoken -- the U.S. energy sector is one of the biggest potential targets for cyberattacks. The situation hinges on how long the pipeline stats shuttered. And with the Memorial Day holiday ahead and U.S. drivers likely champing at the bit to break free of the pandemic even for a few hours, the cost of such an activity could be key. While the situation unfolded Friday, there was little news that emerged on the situation until Saturday when major newswires were covering the matter. So we shall see. The U.S. energy infrastructure is one that farmers also depend on. And with planting activity still ahead in some areas of the country, costs that are rising for fuel could become a factor that farmers will have to deal with in and that could create additional turbulence for the sector just at a time when prices were rising for their products.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


Beyond Meat Reports Loss on Slower Restaurant Sales Beyond Meat reported a bigger loss in quarterly earnings than expected, sending shares in the company down 7% after the report. The company blamed sluggish sales to restaurants, increased freight and storage costs that dented the earnings picture. The company said slow sales had built up supplies of pea protein and that raised warehousing costs. The firm reported net revenue of $108.2 million in their first quarter that ended April 3, below expectations it would be nearly $114 million. They registered a net loss of $26.8 million compared with a profit of $1.8 million one year ago.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


House Democrats Join Those Concerned About Stepped-up Basis The latest pushback from President Joe Biden's tax plans come from 13 House Democrats via a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other House Democratic leaders asking for an exemption for family farms from the stepped-up in basis tax hit. "The requirement to recognize capital gains at death runs the risk of forcing farms and ranches to sell part, or all, of a farm that may have been passed down for several generations in order to pay the tax burden," wrote the Democrats, who include some that are viewed as potentially being vulnerable incumbents. According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, estimates that raising the top capital-gains tax rate to 43.4% would shrink federal revenue by $33 billion over 10 years, a smaller hit than the Tax Foundation's projected loss of $124 billion. To compensate, the Biden administration has proposed a $1 million cap on the "step-up in basis," which excludes unrealized gains from taxation at death. The Wall Street Journal labeled it a "backdoor death tax," and Penn Wharton estimates the change would raise up to $113 billion over a decade. USDA pledged that the Biden plan included exempting agriculture from the capital gains/stepped up basis, but clearly those assurances are not enough for the Democratic lawmakers penning the letter to leaders. It also underscores the Biden tax plan faces potential issues ahead relative to having enough support. Based on history, the farm family carveout is likely the first of many requests ahead.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets After six consecutive weeks of higher corn prices, traders will keep watch over the latest weather forecasts and perk up at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has another corn sale from China to report. USDA's weekly grain export inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store Monday for the southwestern and far Southern Plains along with the lower Delta. We'll also see a few light showers in portions of the northern Midwest and Southeast. Other primary crop areas will be dry. The southwestern Plains rainfall is timely and beneficial for developing winter wheat. During the past weekend, beneficial moderate to locally heavy rain was also noted in portions of the dry Northern Plains and the western Midwest. Temperatures stay cool one more day before trending to more seasonal ranges.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


Biden Administration Announces America the Beautiful Proposal The Biden administration Thursday announced its so-called 30x30 plan, renamed America the Beautiful proposal. The plan seeks to collaboratively work to conserve and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife that support and sustain the nation. The recommendation report outlines a locally-led and voluntary nationwide conservation goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The proposal outlines eight principles that should guide the nationwide effort, including a pursuit of collaborative approaches; a commitment to supporting the voluntary conservation efforts of farmers, ranchers, and fishers; and honoring of Tribal sovereignty and private property rights. The American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall responded, stating AFBF appreciates the report address the organization's concerns and includes input from agriculture. However, Duvall adds, “The report is a philosophical document that emphasizes important principles such as incentive-based voluntary conservation, protecting personal and property rights and continued ranching on public lands, but it lacks specifics.” ************************************************************************************ Record-Breaking Performance for U.S. Beef and Pork Exports in March U.S. red meat exports ended the first quarter on a high note. The U.S. Meat Export Federation reports March beef and pork exports each posted the highest monthly value on record. Pork exports and shipments of beef muscle cuts also set new volume records in March. Beef exports totaled 124,800 metric tons in March, up eight percent from a year ago. Export value broke the $800 million mark for the first time at $801.9 million, up 14 percent year-over-year. March highlights for U.S. beef included record exports to China, Honduras and the Philippines and strong results in South Korea, Chile and Colombia. March pork exports were record-large at 294,700 metric tons, up one percent from last year's strong total, and set a new value record at $794.9 million, up four percent. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says, "It's very gratifying to see such an outstanding breakout month for U.S. beef and pork exports.” ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Seek Level Playing Field for U.S. Pork Producers in Vietnam More than 70 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter this week to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai seeking her support for enhanced Vietnamese market access for U.S. pork. Vietnam represents a tremendous opportunity for U.S. pork exports. National Pork Producers Council President Jen Sorenson says, “Vietnam represents a significant opportunity for U.S. hog farmers, yet we’re hamstrung by unjustified tariff and non-tariff barriers.” Vietnam’s domestic pork production industry is struggling with African swine fever, yet unwarranted tariff and non-tariff barriers restrict the United States from supplying this major pork-consuming nation with pork. The letter states, “Domestic pork producers need a level playing field to compete in this critical market, particularly after being devastated by trade retaliation and the global pandemic.” Last year, Vietnam took an initial step forward in addressing the U.S. pork tariff disadvantage when, from July-December 2020, it temporarily reduced its Most Favored Nation tariff rates from 15 percent to ten percent for frozen U.S. pork products. ************************************************************************************ Ag Group Urge Biden Administration to Appeal Chlorpyrifos Court Decision A coalition of agriculture groups urge the Biden administration to appeal a circuit court decision related to chlorpyrifos (Klohr-PEER-uh-fohs). The court ruling requires the Environmental Protection Agency to either write a new rule to allow for the safe use of chlorpyrifos or halt all food residue tolerances of the insecticide, which would effectively ban its use. The Ag Retailers Association along with dozens of agriculture groups oppose the court ruling because “it will set a bad precedent for EPA's registration review process for all agricultural chemicals.” The groups say the ruling sets the precedent of allowing petitioners and the federal courts to impose their decision-making process in reviewing the science over EPA's long-standing regulatory authority as established by Congress. The letter states, “We urge EPA to pursue all available legal review avenues to protect the science-based and risk-based regulatory process.” Chlorpyrifos is a widely used pesticide for use on crops, livestock and buildings to control insects and worms. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Breakthrough for ASF Vaccine Candidate The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced that an African Swine Fever Virus vaccine candidate has been adapted to grow in a cell line. The announcement means those involved in vaccine production will no longer have to rely on live pigs and fresh cells for vaccine production. The discovery overcomes one of the major challenges for manufacturing of an African Swine Fever Virus vaccine. The newly developed vaccine, grown in a continuous cell line — which means immortalized cells that divide continuously or otherwise indefinitely — has the same characteristics as the original vaccine produced with fresh swine cells. USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist Manuel Broca says, “This opens the door for large-scale vaccine production.” No commercial vaccines are currently available to prevent the virus from spreading. There have not been any outbreaks in the United States, but it is estimated that a national outbreak could cost at least $14 billion over two years, and $50 billion over ten years. ************************************************************************************ Drought Conditions Driving Lowered Missouri River Runoff Forecast Very dry conditions in April resulted in low runoff in the upper Missouri River Basin. Runoff was 44 percent of average, the 9th driest April in 123 years of record. The updated 2021 upper Basin runoff forecast is 17.8 million acre-feet, 69 percent of average, the 22nd lowest calendar year runoff volume. John Remus of the Army Corps of Engineers says, “The extremely dry April, current drought conditions, and below-normal mountain snowpack has led our office to significantly lower the 2021 calendar year runoff forecast.” Mountain snowpack in the upper Basin has peaked and melting is underway. The mountain snowpack peaked above Fort Peck in late March at 86 percent of normal, and the Fort Peck to Garrison reach peaked in late April at 96 percent of average. Gavins Point Dam releases will provide full-service navigation flow support through July 1. That, in combination with the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project, is generally sufficient to provide an adequate channel.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Tax Plans Continue to Worry Farmers President Joe Biden's plan proposing tax increases on the wealthy also contains potential tax changes many in U.S. agriculture are very concerned about. The elimination of stepped-up basis is one of those provisions. That would end the current allowance that says when a farmer/landowner passes away, heirs receive the land based on its current value. If the stepped-up basis is done away, heirs would face capital gains taxes based on the value when it was originally acquired by the farmer/landowner. When announcing the proposed changes, several officials including USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, touted the fact their plan has an exemption for farms that remain family owned and operated after the owner passes. USDA said that would mean 98% of farms would be exempt from the decision. But that has not yet eased concerns. That is evidenced by a bipartisan group of House members who wrote to House leaders and urged them when compiling the legislation to put Biden's plan in motion they make sure farms and small businesses are exempt from the Biden plan. "The repeal of stepped-up basis for capital gains and immediate taxation could especially hurt family farms, some of which have been in families for generations; therefore, we strongly urge you to provide full exemptions for these family farms and small businesses that are critical to our communities," the Democratic lawmakers wrote. The use of the phrase that the exemption would apply to land that remained family owned and operated has also raised questions about whether that would apply to land inherited by those who do not farm the land. That is another potential worry point for agriculture where a rising number of landowners potentially have no heirs that are actively farming the ground, and that has those wondering if the loss of stepped-up basis and higher capital gains taxes would still apply in those situations. Another component of the Biden plan would end another tool farmers have already seen reduced -- 1031 exchanges. The tax package approved in 2017 narrowed the use of the Section 1031 exchanges to apply only to real estate. Previously, 1031 exchanges were allowed on personal property such as farm equipment and livestock. It allowed farmers to exchange their old tractors and upgrade to new ones without being taxed on their traded-in equipment. The 2017 tax law kept Section 1031 exchanges in place for real estate. That allows a farmer to sell land that perhaps would be located near an expanding city and take the resulting money and purchase land further out without paying capital gains on the sold farm ground. Similarly, some have used it sell an operation in one area with more-stringent regulations on farm practices and purchase ground in another location with fewer restrictions. The Biden plan would cap the level of profits that can be deferred tax-wise to $500,000, a limit that could effectively eliminate the 1031 exchanges on farm ground. The administration already had shelved another possibility that would also have set off alarm bells for agriculture. The initial talk was that the Biden plan was going to include an increase in the estate tax. Ag interests have led a successful campaign over the years to keep the estate tax from being increased. While they have also succeeded in raising the exemption level that determines when the estate tax kicks in, they have yet to see success in totally eliminating what they label the "death tax." So, we shall see. The Biden team has gone to great lengths to insist farmers would not be affected by the changes relative to capital gains and stepped-up basis. But the effort by a group of Democratic lawmakers makes clear they want more than just assurances; rather they want it in legislative language. And the 1031 issue also could remove another tool farm farmers' tax toolbox. All are items that bear watching for a sector that is asset-rich but at times, cash-poor, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


USDA to Press on With Minority Farmer Debt Relief Plan USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was asked to weigh in on a legal challenge launched by a group of white farmers contesting USDA's debt relief efforts on behalf of Black farmers and other selected minorities. The American Rescue Plan set aside $4 billion for the initiative, which provides unconditional USDA-held loan forgiveness for certain minority farmers along with extra funds to cover any potential taxes that arise. The lawsuit, filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, alleges the move violates equal protection rights because it excludes white farmers solely on the basis of race. Vilsack said the debt relief moves aim to address past USDA discrimination against socially disadvantaged farmers -- defined under the legislation as Black, Hispanic, Native American and other racial minorities. "We have reimbursed people in the past for those acts of discrimination, but we've never absolutely dealt with the cumulative effect," he explained. Vilsack said USDA will press forward with the debt relief program, even with the pending litigation. "I understand that litigation is going to be what it is, and we'll obviously have the Department of Justice and others do what they do," he commented. However, Vilsack said the legal actions will not affect ongoing implementation of the effort in the meantime.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


Vilsack Acknowledges Carbon Bank May Need Congressional Action USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday at a White House press briefing acknowledged a USDA carbon bank will likely need some action from Congress to get off the ground. However, he also noted farmers expressed support and interest in the bank and USDA's broader climate-smart ag push during a session this week alongside Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan. A reporter pressed Vilsack on whether a proposed USDA carbon bank would require congressional approval -- something Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., and others have asserted. "Well, it needs congressional approval in the sense that you have resources in all of these programs that require funding," Vilsack responded. "We have a lot of flexibility already at USDA, and we're going to be utilizing that flexibility in a way that creates more, new and better markets," he added, though he did not elaborate on what specific flexibility he was referring to. This indicates USDA's ability to establish and run a carbon bank using authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is not at all assured with Vilsack's indication that some congressional action will be needed.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, the U.S. Labor Department will report on non-farm payrolls and the unemployment rate in April. Traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. A report on U.S. consumer credit in March follows at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Isolated to scattered showers are expected across the eastern Midwest and up and down the Plains on Friday. Other areas will be dry. This will promote fieldwork and planting for much of the country while providing some soil moisture as well. Winds across the Northern Plains have raised red flag warnings and threats for fires. Lower temperatures will remain in place across the Midwest, unfavorable for crop progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


CME Group Permanently Closing Physical Trading Pits CME Group announced this week it will not reopen its physical trading pits that were closed last March due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the trading pits for corn, wheat, soybeans and other ag commodities. Contracts for ag commodities will be traded only electronically. However, CME Group’s Eurodollar options pit, which was reopened last August, will remain open, allowing these contracts to continue to trade in both open outcry and electronic venues. The once busy trading floors saw traffic decline as electronic trading became popular. The ongoing transition led to trading pits closing in Chicago and New York in 2015. The Chicago Tribune reports that when CME Group temporarily closed its 11 trading pits last March, about 450 traders, clerks, and employees were on the trading floor most days. CME Group also announced it will delist its full-size, floor-based S&P 500 futures and options contracts following the expiration of the September 2021 contracts. ************************************************************************************ White House Announces New Vaccine Goals, Funding for Rural Communities The White House this week announced a new national vaccine administration goal of 70 percent of all Americans by July 4. President Joe Biden is also taking additional steps to get vaccines to rural communities. The administration is sending new vaccine allocations to rural communities, along with granting $100 million in funding to rural health clinics. The funding will be used to assist rural residents in accessing vaccinations as well as education and outreach efforts around the benefits of vaccination. Additionally, the Health Resources and Services Administration is providing nearly $860 million in funding to help rural health clinics and rural hospitals. The funding will help broaden rural care providers COVID-19 testing and mitigation to slow the spread of the virus in their communities. HRSA will provide up to $100,000 per clinic to each of the 4,600 federally designated rural health clinics and up to $230,000 per hospital to 1,730 small rural hospitals. ************************************************************************************ NBB Requests Meeting with EPA Administrator Regan The National Biodiesel Board this week sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan requesting a meeting to present the findings of a new study. The study, according to NBB, assesses and quantifies the public health benefits and resulting economic savings of using 100 percent biodiesel in U.S. communities near heavy transportation corridors. The organization says heavy transportation corridors are an emerging area of concern for the EPA. Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, writes in the letter, "We believe that including biodiesel and renewable diesel in the administration's plans to address carbon is fully consistent with your agency's focus on environmental justice.” The study shows switching to 100 percent biodiesel would result in 340 fewer premature deaths, 46,000 fewer lost workdays and $3 billion in avoided health care costs. Additionally, the study says the switch would bring a 45 percent reduction in cancer risk for communities near heavy-duty transportation corridors. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Union Members Advocate Immediate Climate Action Through Days of Advocacy, an event pairing National Farmers Union members with lawmakers, the organization is advocating legislative solutions to address climate change. NFU members are participating in virtual meetings this week and next with members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. They are advocating for voluntary, incentive-based programs and market initiatives that help farmers implement climate-friendly practices and install on-farm renewable energy systems. NFU President Rob Larew says, “While we’re really encouraged by the strong, bipartisan support for climate action, we want to ensure these efforts take farmers’ unique needs and interests into account.” To ensure such programs are executed smoothly, they will also promote robust funding for technical assistance. Additionally, participants and other Farmers Union members will sit down with Department of Agriculture officials to learn more about the administration’s climate initiatives. The members attending the meetings sit on NFU’s Climate Change Policy Advisory Panel, through which they advise the organization’s climate-related efforts. ************************************************************************************ NCGA Yield Contest Opens Farmers can now enter the National Corn Growers Association’s yield contest for this year. NCGA says entrants contribute to a pool of shared knowledge that helps all corn farmers in challenging years. The National Corn Yield Contest offers challenges and rewards to each entrant. In 2020, the organization says 7,844 growers accepted the challenge, enjoyed the friendly competition with fellow farmers and helped provide information that will lead to future innovations. This year, to add transparency and visual confirmation to high-yield entries, the contest requires a photo inclusion to be submitted online with the recheck yield results. Winners will receive national recognition in Progressive Farmer's Best in the Field Winner's Guide in mid-February. State winners will be honored at the 2022 Commodity Classic in New Orleans, Louisiana. Contest winners will be announced on December 15. For the 2021 Entry and the Harvest Rule Book, along with information on changes this year and other resources, visit NCGA.com. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $92.2 Million in Grants for Local, Regional Food Producers The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced $92.2 million in competitive grant funding under the 2018 Farm Bill’s Local Agriculture Market Program. The program grants are funded through the Farmers Market program as part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative. USDA launched the initiative in March to address shortfalls and disparities in how assistance was distributed in previous COVID-19 assistance packages, with a specific focus on strengthening outreach to underserved producers and communities and small and medium agricultural operations. The grants support the development, coordination and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets and enterprises and value-added agricultural products. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “These grants will help maximize opportunities for economic growth and ingenuity in local and regional food systems to kickstart this transformation.” USDA encourages projects that assist underserved local and regional agricultural businesses, producer networks and associations, and local and tribal government in responding to COVID-19 disruptions and impacts.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Debt Limit Issue Again on the Horizon The issue of the nation's debt limit is set to return as something that Congress will have to deal with in coming months. The New York Times reports that the issue is again coming to light after the 2019 action by a then-bipartisan Congress to suspend the debt limit until July 31. The suspension was aimed at putting the budget issue off until after the elections and keeping it out of politics. But now the matter is fast approaching as lawmakers will have to address. While the U.S. Treasury can take what are labeled "extraordinary measures" to avoid hitting the debt limit, the agency is warning that they are not sure this time around how long they can use those tools before the debt limit is hit. "In light of the substantial COVID-related uncertainty about receipts and outlays in the coming months, it is very difficult to predict how long extraordinary measures might last," the agency said in a section of its so-called quarterly refunding statement on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg. "Treasury is evaluating a range of potential scenarios, including some in which extraordinary measures could be exhausted much more quickly than in prior debt limit episodes." Some of those extraordinary measures can suspending sales of state and local government series Treasury securities and suspending reinvestment of the Exchange Stabilization Fund, the Times said. Treasury can also redeem existing investments of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund and suspend reinvestment of the Government Securities Investment Fund. In a briefing, a Treasury official would not commit to how long those tools could be tapped, again pointing to the uncertainty over the COVID situation. "If Congress has not acted by July 31, Treasury, as it has in the past, may take certain extraordinary measures to continue to finance the government on a temporary basis," said Brian Smith, Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for federal finance. "In light of the substantial COVID-related uncertainty about receipts and outlays in the coming months, it is very difficult to predict how long extraordinary measures might last." While Treasury could also prioritize what debts they will pay and which ones they will not, Smith simply said, "Congress needs to raise or suspend the debt limit, that's the way to resolve this issue." With Democrats in charge of the House and Senate, they may opt to use budget reconciliation to push through an increase in the debt ceiling. But even then, they will have to count on all 50 Senate Democrats and nearly every House Democrat to even use that option. If that approach is not used, the Times warned that Republicans could use it as leverage for spending cuts as they did several years ago. While not an immediate issue, the matter will become one later this year. And with the level of debt piling up, the interest payments on that debt will be very important. The current level of interest rates has reduced the cost to service the debt. But if conditions which the market fear relative to inflation manifest themselves near the time the debt ceiling issue has to be addressed, that will add to the cost servicing the debt. Plus, fears the U.S. could default on its obligations could send shockwaves through financial markets, another unwelcome development. So, we will see. But producers will need to follow this issue closely as the deadline for action approaches. It could easily become a more-protracted fight than most would like. And a fight on that front could spill into several areas of the government, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


US Ag Export Value Shot Higher in March Along With Imports The value of U.S. ag exports rebounded sharply higher in March to $15.34 billion after slipping to $13.87 billion in February. But the big rise in exports was nearly equaled by sharp boost in the level of imports which hit a record $14.56 billion in March after having fallen to $11.86 billion in February. The result was a trade surplus of $774 million, a sharp decline from the $2 billion surplus in February and marked the first surplus under $2 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The export mark also means U.S. ag exports have been valued at $15 billion or more five out of the six months so far in FY 2021. This brings cumulative FY 2021 ag exports to $92.42 billion against imports that total $76.87 billion, for a cumulative surplus of $15.5 billion. USDA in February forecast U.S. ag exports at a record $157 billion against imports at $137.5 billion which would also be a record. USDA will update its forecast for U.S. ag exports May 26. Historical patterns are for U.S. ag import values to increase in the next few months while export values have typically softened

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


GAO Embarking On Extensive RFS Exam The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week published a notice in the Federal Register that they are turning over information to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Renewable Fuel Standard, including data that could be considered confidential business information (CBI) relative to small refinery exemptions (SREs). EPA said they will disclose to GAO "all documents, information, and data related to all small refinery exemption petitions received by EPA from the start of the RFS program through the present." EPA said GAO will either return the information to EPA or destroy it when their study is done, and they noted there are rules preventing "any further disclosure" of such information. That suggests GAO is embarking on a major exam of the RFS and SREs in particular, most likely coming at the request of a lawmaker or lawmakers. It is not clear when the study will be completed, but this could be a key report on what has been a dicey subject in the biofuels arena.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, along with weekly U.S. jobless claims, a report on U.S. productivity in the first quarter and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department will release its weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. CDT. Trader attention will stay glued to the latest weather forecasts. Weather Cool and dry conditions will cover northern and central crop areas Thursday. Precipitation will be confined to showers in portions of the eastern Midwest. The cooler pattern is unfavorable for crop progress. There is also an extreme wildfire threat in the northwestern Midwest and northeastern Plains later Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Ag Economy Barometer Mostly Unchanged from April The April Ag Economy Barometer was 178, virtually unchanged from a month earlier. Last month, the index stood at 177, and just five points below its all-time high of 183 set back in October. Compared to March, however, there was a small change in producers’ perspective on the ag economy as they became more optimistic about the future, while their appraisal of the current situation waned. In April, the Index of Future Expectations rose five points to 169, and the Index of Current Conditions moved down seven points to 195. Ag producers continue to report expectations for solid financial performance on their farms and expect farmland values to continue to rise over the next year. However, producers were a bit less optimistic about the long-term outlook for farmland values, suggesting there might be some concern that recent farmland price rises might not be sustainable. And 95 percent of producers surveyed say they are concerted over new tax changes being considered. ************************************************************************************ Dairy Checkoff Working with Entrepreneurs to Address Industry Challenges Dairy Management Inc. has entered a partnership that will provide access to a network of inventors and entrepreneurs. The network is tasked with providing marketplace solutions for industry challenges focused on health and sustainability. DMI is partnering with Venture Winston Grants, which has designed a competition where startup companies can apply for funding that will allow them to incorporate dairy into their concepts in one of four areas. The areas include health and nutrition, biobased products, smart communities of the future and regenerative agriculture. Dwyer Williams, chief transformation officer for DMI, says, “We want to disrupt the marketplace before we’re disrupted and that requires looking for unexpected partners outside of the dairy industry.” The process is underway to identify potential startups who are a match for DMI’s four focus areas, with the expectation to have the winners named in January 2022. Barnes says once a technology is completed, it could take two to three years to have concepts commercialized and in the marketplace. ************************************************************************************ Biofuel Groups Welcomes EPA’s Moves to Vacate Last-Minute SREs The Environmental Protection Agency this week filed a motion in the D.C. Circuit Court to vacate three last-minute small refinery exemptions issued on January 19, 2021. In the last hours of the Trump Administration, the EPA issued the three waivers to Sinclair. According to EPA’s April 30 filing, the agency under the previous administration “failed to properly analyze the waiver petitions submitted by Sinclair.” The filing says the Trump administration’s EPA “granted exemption extensions that EPA now believes are ‘outside the scope of the EPA’s statutory authority.’” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper states, “We strongly support EPA’s request for vacatur and remand of these three midnight-hour exemptions.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “EPA is addressing the previous administration’s mishandling of the SRE program,” adding, “We are hopeful that EPA will continue to rein in the SRE program to achieve its limited purpose and ensure that the RFS advances the biofuels industry.” ************************************************************************************ Farmers National: Interest in Farmland Selling to Increase Land sales activity was flat the past few years, but that may soon change. The lower supply of farms for sale has been one of the factors that supported land values after the 2013 peak in prices paid for ag land. Farmers National Company reports seeing indications for increased land sale activity through to the end of 2021. Farmers National Company and its agents have already received an increased number of calls from landowners who are thinking about selling later in the year. The company says the main reason that will drive the current and upcoming sales decisions is that landowners are seeing a large and rapid run-up in land prices to levels last seen in 2013. The other reason that there might be more sales activity this fall is that a market doesn't like uncertainty. Landowners are factoring in both the higher land prices and the uncertainty of future tax policy to make the call whether to sell now or keep the land. ************************************************************************************ Consumers Considering Health, Environmental Impacts of Food Post-COVID-19 Consumers are increasingly considering their health and environmental sustainability as they shop for food. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend in the past year, according to a panel of experts participating in Farm Journal Foundation's Speaker Series. Half of consumers have made changes to what they eat in the past two years to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, according to Michael Hughes of FMCG Gurus. Hughes says changes to consumption patterns include reducing food waste, eating more local and fresh foods, and making greater attempts to check the sustainability credentials of food companies. Tina Owens of Danone North America told the panel, "Consumers are looking even more than they were before the pandemic to play activist with their grocery dollars." And Christine Daugherty of PepsiCo says consumer brands have a large role to play in driving sustainability. PepsiCo recently unveiled a set of Positive Agriculture goals, which aim to impact seven million acres of farmland and reduce three million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade. ************************************************************************************ USDA: World Food Gap to Narrow by 2030 The intensity of global food insecurity, indicated by a measure called the food gap, is projected to lessen over the coming decade in the world's poorest regions. The improvement comes amid decreased incomes associated with pandemic-related drops in Gross Domestic Product, according to the Department of Agriculture. The food gap measures how much food is needed to raise consumption at every income level to meet the nutritional target of 2,100 calories per capita per day, a minimum intake to sustain a healthy and active lifestyle. For the four regions studied in the Economic Research Service International Food Security Assessment, the food gap in 2020 ranged from a low of 12 percent of the daily caloric target in North Africa to 20 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa. Income growth, along with relatively stable prices for major grains and lower population growth, are contributing factors to this improvement, However, the gap is 12 percent higher than earlier estimates reported by USDA after pandemic-related revisions.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inflation and Markets It's hard to read nearly any market-oriented publication and major media without seeing some reference to inflation. The prospect of rising prices for goods that consumers purchase remains a concern as commodity prices have risen and the government either has or wants to pump trillions of dollars into a U.S. economy that has been battered by the COVID pandemic. The U.S. Federal Reserve, and Chairman Jerome Powell, have taken a stance that inflation will show, but it will be "transitory," a term to indicate that they do not see a sustained rise in inflation that could hamper the U.S. economy as the U.S. central bank would likely have to increase interest rates in order to quell price increases. One of their goals is price stability. Enter Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, herself a former Fed chair. In remarks to the Atlantic on Tuesday, Yellen suggested that the Fed may have to raise interest rates, spooking investors. "It may be that interest rates will have to rise somewhat to make sure that our economy doesn't overheat, even though the additional spending is relatively small relative to the size of the economy," she said in a prerecorded interview at the Atlantic's Future Economy Summit. Stock indices fell moved lower in response to the comments as many in the marketplace have been betting the Fed will have to increase rates in a bid to quell inflation that many expect will be moving higher. Later, in remarks to a Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit, Yellen shifted her comments, with many outlets noting she "walked back" her earlier inflation comments. "I don't think there's going to be an inflationary problem, but if there is, the Fed can be counted on to address it," Yellen remarked. This market dustup even with several Fed officials reiterating the view that the rise in inflation is going to be temporary in nature. She also noted later in the day that the $4 trillion in spending now being advocated by President Joe Biden -- a $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan and another $1.8 trillion American Families Plan -- would not spur inflation as the spending would be spread out over eight to 10 years. What is somewhat unusual in this situation is that Yellen commented on monetary policy in the first place. Typically, there has been an unwritten rule that an administration does not comment on monetary policy and that the Fed does not wade into fiscal policy which is the responsibility of Congress and the administration. The situation arises as prices for corn, soybeans, wheat and other commodities have risen sharply. Indeed, Wheat prices jumped some 20% or more in April, corn prices gained more than 30% and soybean prices were up some 10%, based on futures market prices. This coming while U.S. farmers are in the midst of planting this year's corn and soybean crops. The price increases have come as supplies of corn and soybeans in particular have fallen and demand from foreign buyers like China has been strong. And couple that with crop concerns in Brazil and the price rise has materialized. U.S. farmers have been quickly planting this year's corn, soybean and spring wheat crops. But global markets are hopeful that the U.S. does not experience any major impacts to the seed that has only just gone into the ground. The commodity price increases are among those that do raise inflationary concerns as they raise raw material costs. They also come after farmers have seen market prices battered by large supplies, trade wars and the Pandemic. But as history has shown, low prices cure low prices. And that brings the inflation situation into a broader focus as the U.S. economy pulls up out of the depths of the pandemic. So we shall see. Any potential rise in interest rates would increase costs for farmers as they seek to operate or buy farmland. It becomes a cost factor for farm incomes that have been supplemented during the low-price time by government support. It is a situation which farmers will need to monitor, adding yet another watchpoint for the sector as crops come out of the ground and move toward maturity, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Dairy Producers Press USTR Tai on Key Dairy Trade Issues Eliminating non-tariff barriers to U.S. dairy exports and expanding market access for U.S. dairy products are among the issues that U.S. dairy producer representatives raised in a Monday meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Representatives of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), led by its President and CEO Jim Mulhern, emphasized to Tai a need for enforcement of existing trade agreements such as ensuring Canada meets its trade obligations; countering European Union attempts to misuse common food names through inappropriate geographical indication rules; engaging with Mexico to ensure a normal flow of trade; and concluding new market expanding trade agreements.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Coalition Calls on USDA to Launch Pilot Projects on Carbon Banks Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) is calling on USDA to launch pilot projects to explore creating a carbon bank, an idea not popular with Republicans on Capitol Hill. The group released recommendations for how USDA should think about a potential carbon bank. But the report comes after several GOP lawmakers have made clear they prefer a private industry approach rather than getting USDA and the government involved in creating a carbon bank. Initial reviews of the alliance recommendations were that they reflected a committee approach that lacked specifics. One of the FACA members is the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), and its leader Zippy Duvall has indicated he was still not totally on board with the concept. There also remains a question on whether or not USDA has the authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to create and/or operate a carbon bank.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, ADP will report on private sector job gains in the U.S. for April, an early hint of Friday's unemployment report. At 9:30 a.m. CDT, the U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly inventory report, including ethanol production. The latest forecasts for Brazil and the U.S. will continue to get plenty of attention as will any news of an export sale. Weather Wednesday features light rain showers in the Northern and Central Plains and moderate to locally heavy rain in the eastern Gulf Coast. Other primary crop areas will be dry. The northern moisture will offer only marginal drought easing, while the southern rain may be heavy enough to cause flood concern. Below normal temperatures in many areas will slow the pace of fieldwork and early crop growth.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


FACA Recommends USDA Use Pilot Projects to Build Toward a Carbon Bank The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, or FACA, delivered recommendations Monday to the Department of Agriculture regarding a potential carbon bank. The more than 70 members of the alliance, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, says USDA should first develop a series of pilot projects. The focus areas include scaling climate solutions to help increase adoption of climate-smart practices, removing barriers to adoption, improving carbon account standards and ensuring equitable opportunities. The alliance says information gained from the pilots will serve two critical purposes. First, it will help USDA build a durable foundation for a carbon bank that earns long-term bipartisan congressional support. Second, it will help USDA build confidence in how to verify the climate benefits delivered by specific practices and management approaches. Read FACA’s full carbon bank recommendations and see a full list of member organizations at agclimatealliance.com. ************************************************************************************ More Farmers Suing USDA Alleging Discrimination The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty last week filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the alleged race discrimination in the American Rescue Plan. Specifically, the organization targets a provision to offer loan forgiveness based on racial categories. The organization filed the lawsuit Thursday on behalf of five plaintiffs from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio. The American Rescue Plan Act provides billions of dollars of debt relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. But the law’s definition of socially disadvantaged includes explicit racial classifications: farmers and ranchers must be Black or African American, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian American or Pacific Islander. Other farmers are ineligible for the program, according to the plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleges discrimination, calling the program "illegal and unconstitutional." The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction and a declaratory judgment that the racial classifications in the farmer loan forgiveness program are unconstitutional. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bureau Launches Farm State of Mind Resource The American Farm Bureau Federation just launched a comprehensive online directory of resources for farmers, ranchers and their families who are experiencing stress and mental health challenges. In recognition of May as Mental Health Month, the directory provides users with stress and mental health resources in every state. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “It is so important to spread the word that no one has to go it alone.” The directory, which is on the Farm State of Mind website at farmstateofmind.org, features listings for crisis hotlines and support lines, counseling services, training opportunities, podcasts, videos, published articles and other resources. National research polls conducted and published by AFBF in 2019 and 2021 showed that a number of factors including financial issues and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting farmers’ mental health, highlighting the need to identify local resources that can help farmers and ranchers cope with chronic stress and mental health concerns. ************************************************************************************ Dairy Groups Welcome U.S. Callout of EU Food Name Protections The Consortium for Common Food Names, National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council recently commended U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tia for announcing an opinion on geographic indicators. USTR’s Special 301 Report, an annual publication tallying global challenges pertaining to intellectual property issues, called out the EU’s policy of blocking fair competition through the pursuit of geographical indications. The dairy groups say geographic indicators restrict the use of common food and beverage terms, which create barriers to trade in products relying on common food names. The Consortium for Common Food Names Executive Director Jaime Castaneda says, “USTR has accurately diagnosed the problem,” adding, “Now the task before the U.S. is to take the necessary steps to effectively curb this scourge to U.S. food and agricultural producers.” The Consortium for Common Food Names filed extensive comments with USTR outlining geographic indicator-related developments, foreign governments’ roles in driving those policies and the impacts on U.S. farmers and food producers. ************************************************************************************ Kind Joins Organic Caucus in Introducing Legislation to Improve Organic Standards Wisconsin U.S. Representative Ron Kind and a group of bipartisan House members last week introduced the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act. The legislation seeks to improve the federal process for the oversight of organic food standards. Kind is co-chair of the bipartisan House Organic Caucus, stating, “This legislation will take necessary steps to ensure our organic farmers can continue to succeed and innovate for generations to come." The Wisconsin Democracy says the bill will establish a new framework for advancing organic standards and improve oversight and enforcement of new rules and guidance. Illinois Republican Representative Rodney Davis, also co-chair of the House Organic Caucus, says, “Our bipartisan legislation will clear the backlog of rule recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board.” The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 directed USDA to establish national standards and assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard. However, the lawmakers say USDA inaction has stifled innovation. ************************************************************************************ Illinois’ Bustos Not Seeking Reelection Illinois Democrat Cherri Bustos announced she will not seek reelection after completing her current term in the House of Representatives. In a video posted on Twitter, Bustos says, “I feel it’s time for a new voice.” Bustos represents Illinois’ 17th District, a largely rural district, and has served on the House Agriculture Committee since first being elected in 2013. This Congress, Bustos chairs the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over policies, statutes and markets relating to commodities like corn, soybeans, wheat, pulse crops and more. It also oversees the Commodity Credit Corporation and crop insurance programs. Congresswoman Bustos also serves as a member of the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit. Bustos made the announcement on Friday. The Illinois Dem County Chairs’ Association thanks Bustos for her service, adding, “Her commitment to her district is unparalleled, particularly to the hard-working middle class and rural communities.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


March DMC Payments Triggered By Margin Prices Payments under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program are triggered when the national all milk price and the national average feed cost (margin) falls below the margin trigger levels selected by producers. The calculations for March for milk prices and feed components (corn, blended alfalfa hay, and soymeal) will trigger prices for March 2021 as the national average margin is $6.46 per hundredweight (cwt). As a result, dairy operations that elected Tier 1 margin coverage levels at $9.50, $9.00, $8.50, $8.00, $7.50, $7.00, and $6.50 per cwt., and Tier 2 margin coverage levels at $8.00, $7.50, $7.00, and $6.50 per cwt. will be issued a payment. Payments range from $0.04 per cwt. for the $6.50 margin trigger to $3.04 per cwt. for the $9.50 margin trigger coverage level.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


USTR Section 301 Report Notes US-China Phase One Deal Exam Ongoing The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on Friday (April 30) issued its 2021 Special 301 report, a 90-page recap of the state of intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement with U.S. trading partners. China, not surprisingly, garnered nine of the pages, with attention on several issues regarding IP protections of movies and other media. The report notes that China agreed to several changes via the Phase One agreement that went into effect in 2020, but the report noted that a review of that deal remains ongoing. That echoes what U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told lawmakers last week -- that she was eager to kick off the top-to-bottom review of the agreement to determine areas of success and areas where more work is needed. "The United States-China Economic and Trade Agreement (Phase One Agreement), signed in January 2020, also includes several trade secret commitments to address a number of long-standing concerns in China, including on expanding the scope of civil liability, covering acts such as electronic intrusions as trade secret theft, shifting the burden of producing evidence, making it easier to obtain preliminary injunctions to prevent use of stolen trade secrets, allowing criminal investigations without need to show actual losses, ensuring criminal enforcement for willful misappropriation, and prohibiting unauthorized disclosure of trade secrets and confidential business information by government personnel or third-party experts," the report said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Census Bureau will release the U.S. trade deficit for March at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by a report on U.S. factory orders at 9 a.m. CDT. Traders will look at the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. USDA will release export data for agricultural goods later Tuesday morning. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the eastern and southern Midwest through the Delta and Southeast Tuesday. The rain will disrupt planting progress. Dry conditions elsewhere will favor fieldwork. Temperatures will be above normal in the southeast and seasonal to below normal in other crop areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


New Study Shows Health Benefits of Biodiesel A new study sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board shows switching to biodiesel will result in several health benefits, including decreased cancer risk, fewer premature deaths, and reduced asthma attacks. The research got conducted at 13 sites across the U.S. that get regularly exposed to high rates of petroleum diesel pollution. Researchers found that switching to 100 percent biodiesel in the home heating oil and transportation sectors would provide immediate community health benefits that can be measured in reduced medical costs and health care benefits, such as preventing 340 premature deaths every year. Other benefits include a 45 percent reduction in cancer risk when heavy-duty trucks like semis use B100 and an 86 percent reduced risk when biodiesel is used for home heating oil. Other yearly health benefits include 203,000 fewer asthma attacks, 46,000 fewer sick days, and $3 billion less in health care costs after switching to B100. “This study quantifies the health benefits and shows that by using renewable fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel, we are bringing positive change to people’s lives, the nation’s health, and the economy,” says NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. ********************************************************************************************** California Court Rules on Chlorpyrifos A federal court in California gave the Environmental Protection Agency two choices on the insecticide chlorpyrifos (Klor-PEER-ah-fahs). The agency has 60 days to write a new rule to allow for the safe use of the insecticide, or it can halt all food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos, which would basically ban most uses of the product. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco says the EPA has had long enough to respond to a 2007 petition by environmental groups to ban the chemical. The court says, “The EPA has had almost 14 years to publish a legally sufficient response to the 2007 petition.” The court’s ruling also says that, during that delay, the EPA has exposed a generation of America’s children to unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos. “By remanding back to the EPA one last time, rather than compelling the immediate revocation of all chlorpyrifos tolerances, the court is being more than tolerant. But the EPA’s time is now up.” In a statement to DTN, the agency says it’s reviewing all its options. “As the agency pursues its mission to protect human health, including that of children and the environment, EPA is committed to ensuring the safety of pesticides and other chemicals,” the agency says. ********************************************************************************************** U.S., E.U. Ag Groups Ask for End to Retaliatory Tariffs A total of 88 U.S. and European organizations representing a wide range of industries are asking for an end to trade tariffs between the U.S. and E.U. The groups sent a letter to leaders on both sides of the Atlantic asking for the permanent removal of the tariffs on sectors unrelated to the ongoing Trans-Atlantic trade dispute. The Hagstrom Report says the organizations range from agricultural products to consumer goods. The letter opens by thanking the U.S. and E.U. for the four-month suspension of tariffs imposed in connection to the World Trade Organization dispute concerning civil aircraft subsidies. “We are hopeful that this suspension will help reset the vital transatlantic trade relationship and lead to the permanent removal of all additional and retaliatory tariffs on products which are unrelated to the sectors subject to ongoing transatlantic trade disputes,” the groups say in the letter. “It’s important for our members, already hit hard by the economic impact of COVID-19, to be able to rely on the continued suspension or complete removal of these tariffs after July 2021.” They say the transatlantic relationship is of enormous economic importance to their sectors and are eager to see it protected and nurtured. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Groups Respond to USDA Climate Smart Solutions The National Association of Conservation Districts submitted a letter to the USDA in response to the agency’s request for comments on climate smart solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. “Climate-smart agriculture and forestry need significantly more government investment and action to meet the need of oversubscribed programs,” says NACD President Michael Crowder. Among the suggestions, the NACD Climate Action Task Force reiterated its request for at least $1.2 billion in the Fiscal Year 2022 discretionary funding for conservation operations to bolster local technical assistance. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says carbon markets represent a great opportunity for farmers to help in the effort to mitigate climate change, but they do come with risks. Larew calls on the USDA to minimize those risks and provide more certainty for farmers by creating a “public third-party verification system,” facilitating access to information about the markets, and working to “prevent consolidation in agricultural carbon markets and the corporate purchasing of farmland for the generation of carbon credits.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor submitted comments pointing out that plant-based biofuels like ethanol are a readily available, renewable energy solution that reduces carbon emissions today. “Recent studies demonstrate that biofuels can immediately contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonizing our transportation sector,” Skor says. *********************************************************************************************** Poultry Supply Chain Slowing Down as Demand Rises Chicken is in such high demand that U.S. restaurants and processing companies are having trouble keeping up. Supply challenges are hitting all sorts of chains that serve chicken, including bone-in chains, burger joints that sell chicken sandwiches, pizza chains selling wings, as well as traditional wing restaurants. The problem has led to higher chicken prices, especially for chicken wings. Restaurant Business Dot Com says prices will stay at record levels for the foreseeable future. “We believe these higher prices are likely to continue in 2021 as suppliers are struggling to hire enough people to process chicken, thus placing unexpected pressure on the number of birds that can get processed,” says Charlie Morrison, CEO of Wingstop. “That’s negatively affecting the supply of all parts of the chicken in the U.S. and not just wings.” Prices for bone-in wings on the spot market are up more than 50 percent year over year. KFC introduced a new chicken sandwich earlier this year and is having trouble keeping up with demand. While there are multiple challenges facing chicken supplies, a lot of the challenges are based on demand. Chicken sandwich demand has risen dramatically, while chicken wings have seen even greater demand increases. *********************************************************************************************** Topsoil Moisture is Lacking in Half of the Midwest Large parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are abnormally dry, and most of Michigan is in moderate drought due to limited spring precipitation. Last week’s Drought Monitor shows arid conditions covered 48 percent of the Midwest, the heart of U.S. corn and soybean production. That’s compared to 32 percent a week earlier. “Much of the Ohio Valley states, as well as Iowa to lower Michigan, had little to no precipitation over the past week,” the drought monitor reports. Almost all of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and the eastern third of its Upper Peninsula were in moderate drought. Precipitation deficits over the last 90 days have been building, streams are low, and soil moisture continues to dry in the Lower Peninsula. The USDA rated topsoil moisture as short or very short in half or more of Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Several Colorado counties were asked to voluntarily conserve water.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Administration Prepares to Boost Food Stamps Bloomberg is reporting this week that the Biden administration is quietly laying the groundwork for a long-term increase in food aid -- without going through the ordeal of a fight with congressional Republicans. The change apparently can be achieved by an obscure USDA shopping list used to determine food stamp benefits, known as "the market basket." A review of the so-called Thrifty Food Plan, ordered by Biden two days after he took office, could trigger an automatic increase in benefits as soon as Oct. 1, a day after expiration of a temporary 15% boost in food stamp payments that President Biden included in his $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package. James Ziliak, director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky, said the re-evaluation "could result in an upward adjustment of 20% or more in the benefits." That would amount to roughly a $136-a-month increase in the maximum benefit for a family of four, which was $680 before the temporary pandemic-related increase. "This is really meaningful," said Jason Furman, a Harvard Kennedy School of Government professor who was chairman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. "It's one of the bigger things government can do for poverty without Congress." The reappraisal culminates a years-long campaign by anti-hunger advocates to reassess the market basket. The value hasn't been increased other than adjustments for inflation for six decades. The move is emblematic of a broad commitment to anti-poverty programs across the Biden administration. In April, the Agriculture Department extended a universal free school lunch program tied to pandemic relief through the entire 2021-22 school year. However, it's a sharp reversal from the Trump administration, which tried to limit eligibility for food aid -- though the proposed restrictions were overturned by courts. Food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, once enjoyed broad bipartisan support, but have evolved into a partisan flashpoint in recent years. House Republicans tried to impose cuts in 2013 and 2018, the last two times the program was reauthorized as part of the five-year Farm Bill. Biden often speaks of one of the most jarring images of the pandemic-year economic collapse -- cars lined up for miles outside food banks to wait for a box of groceries -- and invoked it again in his first address to Congress as he explained the importance of anti-hunger initiatives in his vision for the country. "I didn't ever think I'd see that in America," he told millions watching at home. The pandemic stirred public concern over hunger as seemingly secure middle- and working-class families suddenly became vulnerable. By December, one in seven U.S. households reported not having enough to eat sometimes or often in the prior week and in January 41.8 million Americans were on food stamps -- 4.7 million, or 12.8%, more than a year earlier. Advocates argue that the $22-a-day food budget USDA currently sets for a family of four is woefully inadequate and relies on outdated, unrealistic assumptions. The market basket assumes a family eats more than five pounds of beans a week, for example. And outside studies have found that the food plan requires spending about two hours a day preparing meals, largely from scratch, at a time the average American family spends just a half hour on daily food preparation. SNAP benefits are calculated on a sliding scale based on income and the number and age of people in a household. Recipients are expected to spend 30% of their net income on food, with food stamps making up the deficit from the USDA food budget. Benefits can only be used to purchase groceries. More than a quarter of the households enrolled in SNAP exhaust their monthly benefits in the first week after issuance, and more than half do so by the second week, according to a 2011 USDA study. The Obama administration considered changing the USDA food budget and took the decision all the way up to the president. But at a June 2015 Oval Office meeting with his top economic and domestic policy advisers, Obama ultimately decided not to tamper with the market basket, mindful that Republicans then controlled both houses of Congress, according to Furman. With Democrats now holding narrow majorities in the House and Senate, "the Republicans could put up a good fight, but at the end of the day I don't think they could stop it," said Mike Conaway, R., Texas, a former Republican House Agriculture Committee chairman who retired from Congress last year. The U.S. has periodically reviewed the market basket, first established as the Economy Food Plan in 1961 and updated in 1975 as the Thrifty Food Plan, to adjust for changes in nutritional guidelines and food consumption patterns. The most recent review came in 2006. Yet the reviews were always constrained to keep costs constant. This time, the review won't be required to be cost-neutral, said Stacy Dean, a senior USDA official leading the review on behalf of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Biden administration isn't officially prejudging the outcome of the review, but officials have made clear they believe current benefit levels aren't sufficient. "It's fair to say that the SNAP benefit is in many cases not adequate enough to provide the help and assistance that is needed," Vilsack told an anti-hunger conference in March, describing the review. "I suspect that we're going to find that the foundation of that program doesn't meet the activities of normal American families today and that may result in some adjustment in terms of the benefit." The USDA nutrition programs were designed to benefit both those in need of food assistance and the producers who supply the products. Program advocates often point out that the increased program levels can be expected to support significant increases in demand for key farm products -- changes likely to be implemented in the coming months and which producers should watch closely as they appear, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


US Maintains Blockade On Restarting WTO Appellate Body The U.S. this week refused to lift its effective block of the WTO Appellate Body, saying the country was still not in a position to back a plan to open the selection process to fill vacancies on the Appellate Body. The proposal not supported by the U.S. has been backed by 121 WTO members. But the U.S. position of blocking new appointments to the Appellate Body goes back to the Trump administration and so far, the Biden administration has not shifted from that position. There has been speculation that the new U.S. administration might look more favorably at restarting the Appellate Body. But the Biden administration has so far indicated they also want to see reforms to the dispute settlement appeals process. The WTO Appellate Body has been inactive since December 2019 when the U.S. blocked appointing new members, preventing it from having a quorum to decide on appeals to WTO rulings.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


House Members Don't Press EPA's Regan On Biofuels, Ag Regs The second appearance before Congress on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not see issues on biofuels raised nor was there a major focus on any agricultural regulatory issues in the House Appropriations subcommittee session. EPA Administrator Michael Regan reiterated his stance that EPA will work with all stakeholders on various issues. Asked how to address jobs in fossil fuel, coal, natural gas and oil sectors with the push toward electric vehicles (EVs), Regan said EPA would seek to "leverage the technologies to do so," noting that there need to be a "robust conversation" on how to achieve the goals. He noted EPA will come forward in July with its proposal on tailpipe emissions from automobiles and in September relative to methane emissions. On agriculture, Regan reiterated he has established good working relationship with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and referenced his actions as a state environmental regulator in terms of addressing issues in the sector. In his appearance Wednesday before a Senate panel on the FY 2022 budget, Regan said that no fuel technology is being excluded as the agency looks at meeting climate goals. He observed that there needed to be a glide path toward alternatives like EVs, and that "ethanol plays a significant role in providing those resources here and now today and will evolve as we start to look at the new futures for advanced biofuels and electric vehicles." As for corn-based ethanol, Regan said, "Agriculture is at the table and biofuel plays a role in reducing our carbon footprint and so do many of the voluntary practices of our ag community to capture carbon and operate in a sustainable manner." His comments still are not perhaps providing a greater deal of clarity on issues surrounding biofuels and other regulatory actions that are expected from the agency.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Starting a new week, traders will check the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT for any export sale announcements. An index of U.S. manufacturing is due out at 9 a.m. and follows similar indices for other countries overnight. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. NASS has a monthly Fats and Oils report at 2 p.m., followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the eastern Midwest and Southeast Monday, offering useful crop moisture while interrupting planting. Some local flooding is also noted in portions of the central Plains following heavy weekend rain. We'll also see periods of rain and some snow in the far western Plains with beneficial moisture. Dry conditions are in store elsewhere including the drought-affected northern Plains and Northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


USTR Tai Lays Out More Of The Biden Trade Agenda U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai faced lawmaker questions Wednesday on trade policy plans by the Biden administration as she testified on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget plan for USTR. She touted the four-month pause in tariffs between the U.S., UK and European Union (EU) as a significant move and stressed to lawmakers she was committed to ending the dispute that goes back more than 10 years. As for the U.S.-China Phase One agreement, Tai indicated that she was looking forward to kicking off a top-to-bottom review of the agreement and China's compliance. "The picture is more nuanced than you might think, by just looking at the trade data," Tai told lawmakers. A top-level review meeting between the U.S. and China has not yet been scheduled, but Tai said such a session would be scheduled "soon." Tai also pledged to use the enforcement mechanisms in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), noting she has raised compliance issues with her Mexican counterpart and the U.S. has already launched dispute settlement mechanisms on dairy with Canada. On matters regarding Mexican bans on imports of glyphosate and GMO corn and other ag-trade barriers, Tai said USTR is "looking at it in terms of what our options are to resolve these issues soon." There was not perhaps a lot more information about the Biden trade plans than was known ahead of the meeting and it may be somewhat surprising that it appears USTR has either just started or will start a broad review of the Phase One agreement with China. This appears to underline that trade policy has not been a high focus for the Biden administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


Biden Plan Carves Out Exemption For Ag Land, But Proposes Big Limit On 1031 Exchanges The $1.8-trillion plan unveiled in a joint session of Congress Wednesday evening by President Joe Biden included proposed increases in the capital gains tax rates with an exception included for agricultural land. USDA released an analysis, noting the plan would defer any tax liability on family farms "as long as the farm remains family-owned and operated." USDA also said assets subject to the $1 million-per-person exemption would continue to receive a step-up in basis when sold. Only 2% of farms would owe any tax, and that would be on non-farm assets, USDA detailed. "No capital gains taxes at death for family farms. This plan includes a special protection for family-owned farms and businesses," USDA said. "It defers any tax liability on family farms as long as the farm remains family-owned and operated. No tax is due if the farm stays in the family. No one should have to sell a family farm they inherit to pay taxes and the President's tax reform guarantees that." There would an exclusion on the first $2 million in capital gains for married couples. "This plan also excludes the first $2 million of gains per couple ($2.5 million if the farm also includes the family home) from capital gains tax and heirs continue to get step up in basis on those first $2 million in gains. If an heir decides to sell the family farm, the first $2 million in gains is tax free." In a proposed change that will raise concerns for agriculture, the plan proposes dramatically curtail what are called 1031 exchanges which allow taxpayers to defer gains on real estate if they exchange that for a like property within six months of the sale. The plan would end the 1031 exchanges on real estate profits of more than $500,000.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


Ag Businesses Report Favorable First Quarter Earnings Earning reports topped headlines on Wall Street this week, and agriculture businesses seem to be doing well. Syngenta reported first-quarter sales of $7.1 billion, up 20 percent for the same period last year. BASF reported first-quarter sales were up 16 percent, to 19.4 billion euros, or $23.52 billion. AGCO reported sales for the first quarter were approximately $2.4 billion, an increase of 23.4 percent. Meanwhile, ADM reported first-quarter earnings of $689 million. The company says its Ag Services and Oilseeds sector achieved a record first quarter, with operating profits 84 percent higher year over year. Tractor Supply Company reported net sales for the first quarter of 2021 increased 42.5 percent to $2.79 billion from $1.96 billion in the first quarter of 2020. Finally, CME Group reports revenue of $1.3 billion for the first quarter of 2021. CME Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Terry Duffy says, "Trading volumes in Q1 have returned to pre-pandemic levels.” ************************************************************************************ NCBA Stands Ready to Fight for Sound Tax Policy In his American Families Plan, President Joe Biden targets several provisions of the tax code to raise approximately $1.5 trillion in revenue over the next ten years. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says those provisions must not burden the nation's farmers and ranchers. Biden's plan would repeal the deferral of gain for real estate, like-kind exchanges for gains greater than $500,000 and eliminate stepped-up basis for gains over $1 million, or $2.5 million per couple. According to the plan, the reform will be designed “with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.” NCBA Senior Executive Director of Government Affairs Danielle Beck says, "When considering how to offset the cost of a comprehensive infrastructure package, it is essential that Congress preserve sound tax policies for family-owned agricultural operations." Beck adds, "We firmly believe that it would be irresponsible to pay for an infrastructure bill on the backs of farmers and ranchers." ************************************************************************************ Mexican Supreme Court Overturns Ban on U.S. Fresh Potato Imports The Mexican Supreme Court ruled by a unanimous vote of five to zero in favor of overturning a 2017 lower court decision that blocked the importation of U.S. fresh potatoes. The ruling, cheered by the National Potato Council and Potatoes USA, marks the end of a decade-long legal process that began when Mexico's potato industry sued its government to prevent competition from imports. National Potato Council vice president of trade affairs, Jared Balcom, says, “This ruling is consistent with Mexico's obligations under the USMCA and the WTO.” Balcom adds the ruling represents a major step forward for the industry. Since it first allowed for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes in 2003, Mexico has restricted those potatoes to a 26 kilometer-area along the U.S.-Mexico border. That restriction has violated Mexico's obligations under numerous trade agreements. In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “This decision is important for American agriculture and for positive bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Updates to Livestock Insurance Policies The Department of Agriculture this week announced updates to livestock insurance policies for 2022 and beyond. USDA says the updates are designed to improve options for producers and to create additional opportunities for producers to participate. The changes include ensuring the Class Pricing Option remains available for purchase even when either the Class III or Class IV milk price is not published. USDA is also relaxing records requirements by allowing monthly total pounds of milk and milk components to be acceptable records instead of daily. The Livestock Gross Margin is available for cattle, dairy, and swine producers and provides protection against loss of gross margin, the market value of livestock minus feed costs. The changes include allowing producers to purchase coverage on a weekly basis instead of monthly. Risk Management Agency Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy says, “We strongly feel that these updates will benefit producers and their dairy and livestock operations in the years to come.” ************************************************************************************ USDA to Invest $31 Million for Restoration Work in Gulf States The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced $31 million in funding to advance restoration work and improve water quality in the Gulf Coast states impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The funds will support three priority programs and related project work approved by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration, or RESTORE Council, as part of a multi-year process of collaborative planning and public engagement throughout the Gulf. USDA's Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, along with state forestry agencies in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, will leverage the funds to restore forest health, improve coastal ecosystems and provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners. The USDA-funded activities include the Gulf Coast Conservation Reserve Program, the Enhancing Gulf Waters through Forested Watershed Restoration Program, and the Apalachicola Regional Restoration Initiative. The RESTORE Council was established in 2012 by the RESTORE Act, a federal law enacted in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. ************************************************************************************ Texas Ag Commissioner Joins Discrimination Lawsuit over COVID Relief Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller this week joined a lawsuit against the federal government. Miller claims the COVID relief plan passed in March discriminates against white farmers and ranchers. Miller, a rancher himself, joined the lawsuit as a private citizen, not as a public official. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 offers relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, which the plan defines as people of color. Miller’s complaint against the Department of Agriculture, according to the Texas Tribune, says the definition in the program fails to include “white ethnic groups that have unquestionably suffered” because of their ethnicity, such as those of Irish, Italian, German, Jewish and eastern European heritage. America First Legal, a conservative group that claims, “the radical left is using its power inside and outside of the government to destroy our country,” filed the lawsuit. The organization says the Constitution forbids government action that discriminates based upon race, alleging the Biden administration is “actively engaging in outright racial discrimination.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's employment cost index for the first quarter and a report on U.S. personal incomes for March are both due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index of April is set for 9 a.m. CDT. Otherwise, traders will be watching the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales. Weather Dry conditions will cover most primary crop areas Friday. Precipitation will focus in south Texas through the lower Delta with possible flooding. This pattern is generally favorable for fieldwork and planting; however, extreme wildfire threat covers the drought-affected northern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


Biden Plan to Protect Farms from Elimination of Capital Gains Tax Breaks Ahead of Wednesday night's joint session of Congress address by President Joe Biden, the White House released details of the American Families Plan. The bulk of the $1.8 trillion package focuses on education, direct support to low- and middle-income families and extending tax breaks to families with children. Biden plans to end other tax breaks to pay for the package, including stepped-up basis. However, Biden says, “The reform will be designed with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.” American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Veronica Nigh recently explained, “A long-standing provision of U.S. tax law is that a capital gains tax is not imposed when assets are transferred at death to an heir. Furthermore, tax law allows the heir to increase their basis in the asset to fair market value without paying capital gains tax," which is referred to as a step-up in basis. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Find Barriers to Carbon Markets Farmers are struggling to enter carbon markets. A new report from Reuters says a climate push from the Biden administration is sparking interest in farm-based carbon credits. Companies like Microsoft are purchasing credits and others like Bayer and Cargill have subsidized projects to incentivize farmers to reduce emissions. The Department of Agriculture is monitoring the success of the carbon markets with an eye on future farm bill programs. However, a Nebraska farmer told Reuters, "It's very new; it's still the wild west." Lukas Fricke is generating carbon credits for Microsoft but expects the $20 per credit to not cover the cost of expenses to participate. Much of the cost to companies purchasing credits goes towards verifying carbon-capture claims. Ecosystem Services Market Consortium executive director Debbie Reed says, “Until we get to a market where there is liquidity, we will continue to see projects without buyers, and we will continue to see buyers without the supply they need.” Her organization is investing in satellite and remote sensing technology to help lower verification costs. ************************************************************************************ Dairy Groups Announce Federal Milk Pricing Proposal Four Midwestern dairy groups this week announced a Federal Milk Marketing Orders proposal. The proposal aims to create long-term stability in fluid milk pricing and reducing the likelihood of negative producer price differentials that cut into farmers' revenue last year during the pandemic. The proposal from the Dairy Business Association, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Minnesota Milk and Nebraska State Dairy Association comes after the groups began studying options early this year. They say the proposal, which they are calling "Class III Plus," aims to build upon the current pricing system, recent proposals by dairy cooperatives, and dairy farmer petitions to define a better Class I pricing system. The Class III Plus proposal would, among other things, tie the Class I fluid skim milk price to the Class III cheese skim milk price plus an adjuster and do away with advanced pricing, a cause of the negative Producer Price Differentials last year. The proposal is also revenue-neutral, therefore more equitable among farmers, processors and customers. ************************************************************************************ Dates Announced for Export Exchange 2022 Export Exchange will return next year, as organizers announced the event this week planned for October 12-14, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The dates were announced in a joint statement, including U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, and Renewable Fuels Association President Geoff Cooper. The statement says, "COVID dictated we cancel Export Exchange in 2020, and sadly, we have officially canceled it once again for 2021," while noting its return in 2022. The groups say Export Exchange allows overseas attendees the opportunity to build relationships with U.S. suppliers of distiller’s dried grains with solubles, or DDGS, corn, sorghum, barley and other commodities, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in grain sales. Export Exchange, the biennial event co-sponsored by the Council, RFA and Growth Energy, is expected to bring together 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products, with approximately 300 U.S. suppliers and agribusiness representatives. ************************************************************************************ USDA to Incentivize Purchase of Fruits and Vegetables under WIC Participants in the Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children may soon see a temporary increase to their benefits. The increase will apply to the purchase of fruits and vegetables. With $490 million provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, USDA has offered the option of boosting the cash-value voucher benefit by more than three times the current amount for up to four months to provide additional relief during the pandemic. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “We need to promote nutrition security alongside food security to ensure all people at all times have access to nutritious foods.” The cash-value voucher allows participants to purchase fruits and vegetables as part of their WIC food package. Under normal circumstances, the monthly cash-value voucher is $9 per child and $11 for pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women. The American Rescue Plan allows state agencies to temporarily provide up to $35 per child and adult, per month. ************************************************************************************ Biden to Nominate California Ag Official to USDA President Joe Biden this week announced intent to nominate Jenny Moffit as Agriculture Department undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. Moffitt is Undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, where she previously served as Deputy Secretary from 2015-18. Before that, Moffitt spent ten years as Managing Director at Dixon Ridge Farms, her family’s organic walnut farm and processing operation. The White House says, “As a farmer and policymaker, Moffitt has engaged with agricultural stakeholders on the critically important balance of sustaining our environment, strengthening our rural economies, and building healthy communities.” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack adds, “Jenny says that growing up and working on the farm solidified the importance of taking care of the land and the people who farm it.” If confirmed, Moffitt will join a mission area that is focused on facilitating the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products, ensuring the health and care of animals and plants, and setting national and international standards.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Expanded Family Plan Pushed President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $1.8 trillion plan to expand educational opportunities and child care for families, funded in part by the largest tax increases on wealthy Americans in decades, Bloomberg is reporting today. Called the American Families Plan, the president's third major legislative proposal combines $1 trillion in spending with $800 billion in tax cuts and credits for middle- and lower-income families. The plan would make pre-kindergarten and community college free across the country, extend the child tax credit through 2025 and make permanent an expansion of the earned income tax credit to childless adults with low incomes, provide direct support to families for child care, finance teacher training and create a national paid family leave program Bloomberg says. Biden's tax hikes include raising the top rate for individuals back to 39.6%, changing the treatment of capital gains so that wealthy people don't benefit from lower rates on their investment income, eliminating the "carried interest" provision that benefits fund managers, and greatly increasing funding for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce tax collection and audit wealthy taxpayers. His proposals are uncertain in Congress, where Democrats hold a working Senate majority only by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris's tie-breaking vote. Ahead of Wednesday's speech, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he expects an “aspirational” presentation that “gives you encouragement” on “how we should all unite and come together.” "It'll be an upbeat speech," Manchin told reporters yesterday. Manchin has publicly said Biden and congressional Democrats need to work with Republicans on a bipartisan infrastructure package rather than immediately trying to forge a partisan path ahead. He said yesterday he's satisfied Biden is doing his best so far. "Sure, they can always do more but he has," Manchin said. "He's reaching out now, and even on this infrastructure bill, you haven't seen him double down and say we've got to pass it all in one big package." Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., also said bipartisan talks on an infrastructure bill are going well. "We continue to be having conversation," Wicker told reporters on Tuesday. "There's a nice back and forth, an exchange of ideas. I think they're interested in our proposal." Over the past 14 months, Congress passed three pandemic-relief packages that injected almost $5 trillion into the economy. The president will today make the case for an additional $1.8 trillion in spending and tax credits on initiatives from education and child care to paid family and medical leave. And that's on top of $2.25 trillion in infrastructure, home health care and other outlays proposed last month. The raft of new spending would be funded by a host of tax hikes directed at corporations and wealthy Americans. It's all aimed at raising productivity, expanding the workforce and spreading the benefits of the U.S. economy more equitably. There is no sign that Republicans will go along with any of Biden's proposal, leaving Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with a narrow majority and hardly any votes to spare. Bloomberg sees this as a potentially tight spot “if her Democratic rank-and-file members don't let up on their demands.” In the Senate, expanding Biden's proposal could jeopardize the ability of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to get it through an evenly divided chamber using special "budget reconciliation" rules. In the meantime, Biden urged Americans hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to reconsider, citing new federal guidance that inoculated people can begin socializing outdoors without masks. "Gathering with a group of friends in a park, going on a picnic -- as long as you're vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without a mask," Biden said at the White House yesterday. "If you're vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely." Roughly 141 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, but the pace of vaccinations has dropped under 3 million a day despite abundant supply. "For those who haven't gotten their vaccine yet, especially if you're younger or thinking you don't need it, this is another great reason to go get vaccinated now." Biden said. "Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky at a news briefing announcing the changes today. She pointed to a "really hopeful decline" of about 21% in the 7-day average for cases. The CDC's new recommendations, which represent one of the most significant relaxations of guidelines since the pandemic began, are complex and wide-ranging. They come with almost 30% of Americans fully inoculated and with increases starting to slow in the daily coronavirus caseload. At the same time, the guidelines send a message that getting vaccinated may offer a clear route to a more normal lifestyle at a time when a large number of Americans remain hesitant. Also President Biden has said he intends to send vaccines from the U.S. to India as that nation battles the worst COVID-19 surge on Earth – but he did not specify timing for a decision or shipments. He said he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed "when we'll be able to send actual vaccines to India, which is my intention to do." In the meantime, the U.S. is shipping aid including the therapeutic drug remdisivir and machinery for vaccine manufacturing, he said. So, we will see. This week has turned out to be highly political in its focus, and more than a few of the key trends are positive. Nevertheless, many risks remain and producers should watch current developments very closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


New Trade Deals Continue as Question for Biden Administration Wrapping up trade deals with the UK and Kenya remain open questions for the Biden administration, with a discussion between U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss yielding no update on the pending trade deal. Readouts of the session from the U.S. and UK noted the two discussed "issues of mutual importance," including "industrial subsidies, climate change, and the large civil aircraft dispute," the USTR readout said. But neither side made mention of the pending trade negotiations that were started under the Trump administration. As for Kenya, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo. A U.S. State Department fact sheet released ahead of the meeting noted that two sides launched bilateral trade negotiations in July 2020. “The two sides are currently reviewing the negotiations before deciding the next steps,” the fact sheet noted. The Biden administration has made clear that negotiating new trade deals is lower on their priority list on trade with more attention likely on enforcement of existing trade deals. It appears that is still the case.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


Senate Agriculture Panel Met With USDA's Vilsack Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee met with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday in what was an off-the-record session, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. While not sharing what other lawmakers brought up or Vilsack's responses, Grassley told reporters he raised issues on "protecting farmers from corporations." He noted provisions in farm bills that addressed some of those issues and he called on USDA to “complete the work of Congress” on that front. While he slipped and said that Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., brought up biofuel assistance that Congress authorized in the December COVID aid plan, Grassley said his intention was to raise the issue as it is "very important" for his home state of Iowa which is "number one" in biofuel production. He noted that former USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue had told Congress he needed more authority to be able to provide financial assistance to biofuel producers which was provided in the COVID aid plan.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. Sales have been lower lately, but in case you haven't noticed, there's not a lot of excess corn or soybeans available. U.S. weekly jobless claims, the first estimate of first-quarter U.S. GDP and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are set for the same time. An index of pending home sales for March will be out at 9 a.m., followed by natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. CDT. Weather Moderate to heavy rain with some flooding is in store Thursday from the eastern Midwest southwest to southern Texas. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Wildfire threat in the northern Plains is noted for Friday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


Vilsack: No Land Grab or Beef Diet Limits Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says there’s no truth to the talk that the Biden Administration wants to take land away from people and discourage consumers from eating beef to help fight climate change. Vilsack says the president wants to protect 30 percent of the nation’s land by 2030 but doesn’t plan to use eminent domain to take possession of that land. The Hagstrom Report says Vilsack told ag journalists that the talk of a land grab is really off base. “There’s no intent to take away land from farmers,” he says. “The goal is to give farmers more opportunities.” Vilsack also talked about rumors that the Biden Administration plans to limit how much beef Americans eat. Vilsack says there is no effort in place to limit the intake of beef coming out of the White House or USDA. “In the political world, games get played, and issues get brought into play,” Vilsack says. The rumor seems to have started thanks to a University of Michigan study on beef. The study says cutting the intake of all animal-based foods by 50 percent and replacing that with equivalent quantities of plant-based food would decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent. “There’s no policy paper in the administration suggesting that people eat less meat,” he adds. ********************************************************************************************** CME Group Raises Daily Price Limits on Grains After a biannual review, the CME Group is expanding the daily price limits for the Chicago Board of Trade grain and soy futures, and the new limits go into effect on May 2. The new limits include 40 cents for corn, currently at a limit of 25 cents a bushel. Soybean limits are now one dollar per bushel, with the current limit at 70 cents. Soy Meal is up to $30 per short ton, soil oil is now 3.5 cents a pound, and soft and hard red wheat futures are both up to 45 cents per bushel. CME price limits represent the maximum price range permitted for a futures contract in each trading session. Price limits vary by product, as does what happens when a limit gets reached. “Some of the price limits are expanded by 50 percent,” says Jerry Gulke of the Gulke Group. “That’s a lot of volatility.” Gulke also tells Ag Web Dot Com that limit up and down on corn will now be 80 cents. That’s $160 per acre on 200-bushel corn. On 10,000 acres, gross income could move almost $1.5 million per day. Now that the trading limits have widened further, Gulke says it should give volatility a whole new meaning in future months. ********************************************************************************************** Indiana Governor Defends Biofuel Producers and Farmers On Monday night, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb vetoed Senate Enrolled Act 303, legislation that would have stalled sales of homegrown biofuels in two ways: The first is by mandating confusing labels on E15 fuel dispensers and by muddying key regulations on retailers seeking to offer the lower-cost blend. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says her organization is deeply grateful to Governor Holcomb and Lt. Governor Crouch for listening to the concerns of Hoosier biofuel producers and standing up for rural families. “From the very start, SEA 303 got fueled by a wave of misinformation,” Skor says. “Hoosiers already enjoy legal access to lower-carbon, lower-cost E15 at 79 locations, and this veto is an important step toward ensuring greater competition at the pump, lower prices for drivers, and stronger markets for Indiana farmers.” Earlier this month, Growth Energy wrote a letter to Governor Holcomb asking that he veto the legislation, joining a chorus of ag and biofuel leaders in the state in opposition. State groups that worked to get the legislation vetoed included the Indiana Ethanol Producers Association, Indiana Corn Growers Association, the Indiana Ethanol Plant General Managers, and the Indiana Mayors and County Commissioners. ********************************************************************************************** America Grows Act Introduced in the Senate The America Grows Act of 2021 was introduced on Monday in the Senate. It would significantly increase U.S. public investment in agricultural research and development. The bill would increase funding for agricultural research by five percent every year on an inflation-adjusted basis at four USDA agencies over the next decade. Those agencies are the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Backers of the legislation say more support for agricultural research is badly needed. U.S. public funding has declined in real dollars since 2003, while investments in other forms of domestic research have risen dramatically. The U.S. has fallen far behind its major competitors like China and Brazil when it comes to agricultural research funding. However, the America Grows Act would help to reverse the trend and reassert American leadership on the global stage. A recent study in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics says agricultural research has one of the highest returns of any public investment, estimated at $17 for every $1 spent. Maintaining U.S. competitiveness is vital to ensuring abundant, affordable food supplies, as well as supporting the economy. Food and agriculture account for nearly $3 trillion of the U.S. GDP. *********************************************************************************************** Export Inspections of Corn and Soybeans Rise While Wheat Drops Week-to-week exports of corn and beans rose while wheat assessments declined. Corn inspections in the seven days ending on April 22 came in at 1.95 million tons. That’s up from 1.56 million metric tons the previous week and was almost double the 1.08 million tons two weeks ago. Soybean assessments last week totaled almost 224,000 metric tons, up from 222,065 tons the previous week. The USDA says that’s well below the 561,063 tons inspected during the same week a year earlier. Wheat inspections through April 22 totaled just over 564,000 tons, down from almost 626,700 a week before. Last week’s total, however, was up from the 506,700 tons assessed during the same week in 2020. Since the beginning of the marketing year on September 1, the USDA has inspected 41.2 million metric tons of corn for offshore delivery, well above the same period the year before. Soybean inspections since September are at 55.3 million metric tons, ahead of the 33.4 million tons inspected at the same point last year. Wheat assessments since the start of its marketing year on June 1 are at 22.6 million metric tons, just ahead of last year’s 22.5 million tons. *********************************************************************************************** Renewable Fuel Credit Prices Climb to Highest Point Since 2013 The price of renewable fuel credits soared to its highest point on record early this week. Reuters says higher costs for soybean oil pushed up both renewable fuel and biomass-based credits. Renewable fuel credits for 2021 traded at $1.50 each, after trading at $1.44 in the previous session. Biomass-based credits traded at $1.58 each, up from $1.52 during the prior session. Both of those are the highest prices since Reuters began reporting the data for renewable fuel credits in 2013 and biomass-based credits in 2014. Front-month soybean oil, which can be used as a feedstock in biomass-based fuels like biodiesel, traded at 67.71 cents per pound on Tuesday, their highest point since 2008. The credits, known as RINs, rose at the same time the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments for a case involving the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires refiners to blend biofuels into their fuel mix each year or buy RINs from those that do. The Supreme Court’s decision around the case will likely heavily influence the future of the RFS and biofuels.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Taxes Collide with Political Reality President Joe Biden is poised to unveil a plan that to raise taxes on the income, investments and estates of the wealthiest Americans to levels not seen in more than four decades--and that that move will trigger "intense debate in Congress about whether and how to address income inequality," Bloomberg reported. Biden's "American Families Plan," itself featuring the biggest expansion of federal support for lower-income and middle-class Americans in decades, will be offset by a series of tax increases on the wealthy, administration officials say. The president will unveil his program during the Wednesday night State of the Union speech to Congress. To pay for a bill that could top $1 trillion, Americans earning over $400,000 will face higher marginal income tax rates. Those taking in $1 million or more will get hit with a levy of up to 43.4% on their capital gains. The last time rates got close to that, Jimmy Carter was president. Biden is also likely to propose increases in the number of Americans subjected to the estate tax. He campaigned on closing popular tax breaks including a provision that lets appreciated assets go untaxed when they are inherited, along with eliminating the carried-interest tax breaks – which let private equity managers cut their Internal Revenue Service bills. Republicans are likely to oppose the tax increases en masse, but the White House is also risking a struggle with Democratic lawmakers. Some of those from New York, New Jersey and other high-tax states in particular were already mobilizing to demand relief for their constituencies even before Biden's official announcements. With the 50-50 Senate and a narrow margin in the House, long negotiations loom. In the meantime, Republicans may be ready to back as much as $900 billion in infrastructure spending, according to a senior senator, Bloomberg says – though that would still cover less than half of Biden's proposal. "There's a deal to be done on infrastructure," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Sunday. Graham suggested "to not pay for some of the infrastructure spending immediately because I think it over time pays for itself." There are other interesting proposals afoot--for example, President Biden is betting $100 billion he can deliver a lifeline to rural America, and a boost to the economy overall, by making high-speed internet available to all Americans. The plan could help millions, especially in agrarian states where the Democratic party's support is weakest. Estimating the precise impact, however, is seen as virtually impossible because no one truly knows how many Americans lack access to the internet. In the meantime, there are other fights aplenty, Bloomberg thinks. One focuses on judges. However, the administration's aggressive timeline for vetting potential judges while seeking nominees who would bring experiential, racial, and gender diversity to the federal bench is proving difficult for several Democratic senators to meet, Bloomberg says, The report notes that the once-a-decade battle to redraw the U.S. political map promises to be one of the most contentious ever when it kicks off this week, shadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and hindered by partisan divisions stoked during the Trump's presidency. The process has begun with the release from last year's constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the U.S., which happens every 10 years – numbers that are already emerging and are determining which states gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and which ones lose. Meanwhile, an Arizona judge demanded more information about an audit of Maricopa County's 2020 general election results by a group called the Cyber Ninjas after the state's Democratic Party argued it was being conducted by "unqualified and completely unhinged actors." Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury in Phoenix ordered the auditors to release documents explaining their internal procedures. Also, seven decades after the U.S. Supreme Court said the NAACP didn't have to give Alabama its membership list, so prominent liberal groups are in the unlikely position of supporting two conservative charities in a challenge to California's requirement that they disclose their top donors. In a Supreme Court argument set for this week, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and the Thomas More Law Center will contend that California can't be trusted to keep the information private – and that it's opening up the groups' supporters to threats and harassment, much like Alabama once did to the NAACP. After three months of vaccination across the U.S., a majority of American adults have gotten shots – and the effort will soon shift from mass inoculation to "mop-up," Bloomberg says. Over the next few weeks, what the vaccine campaign looks like is going to change dramatically. Finally, President Biden is exploring the idea of a border adjustment tax that would slap a levy on imports from nations with weaker climate policies, according to John Kerry, the administration's special climate envoy. "President Biden, I know, is particularly interested in evaluating the border adjustment mechanism," Kerry said on Bloomberg TV. "He wants to look at that and see whether that's something that we need to deploy." So, we will see. Clearly there are controversies to go around and a razor-thin and infinitely toxic climate over it all. A key will be whether the administration's rapid recovery hopes turn out to be true. Certainly, these are developments producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


Census Population Shifts Will Bring More Changes In Congress US population growth was at its slowest level since the 1930s over the past decade, according to updated Census data released Monday. The changes in population will also shift political maps, with the long-running trend of the South and West gaining population -- and congressional representation -- at the expense of the Northeast and the Midwest, is still intact. Texas has gained two more votes in Congress and the Electoral College for the next decade, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon each gained one seat, based on the first set of results from the 2020 Census released Monday. The seven states losing one vote each: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Census will release data later this year that will outline growth in population centers that will assist states in redrawing congressional maps.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


CFAP 2 Payouts Climb To $13.5 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) have reached $13.50 billion as of April 25, up from $13.45 billion the prior week. Acreage-based payments now total $6.23 billion, livestock payments are at $3.43 billion, sales commodities total $2.57 billion, dairy is at $1.21 billion, and eggs/broilers payouts are at $57.29 million. CFAP 1 payments are now at $10.56 billion, up from $10.55 billion the prior week. As for the CFAP Additional Assistance program, no payout information has yet been made available from USDA even as the Farm Service Agency said that actions under CFAP include processing of CFAP AA payments. "USDA will finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustments on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed for this program," according to FSA.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts and any news of an export sale continue to get quick attention from traders. The Energy Department's weekly inventory is due out at 9:30 a.m. CDT, including an update of last week's ethanol production. At 1 p.m. CDT, the Federal Reserve will conclude its two-day meeting and is expected to keep interest rates near zero. Weather Rain is in store across much of the central U.S. Wednesday, including a threat of flash flooding in the southeastern Plains and southern Midwest. Severe storm potential is also high in the far southern Plains and portions of the eastern Midwest. The rain will delay planting but offers favorable crop moisture. Drought areas of the northern Plains, Northwest and Canadian Prairies will be bypassed by this rain event.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


Biofuels Coalition Readies for Oral Arguments in Supreme Court In oral arguments scheduled for Tuesday morning, four agriculture and biofuel organizations will argue that the U.S. Supreme Court should affirm a unanimous 2020 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The Tenth Circuit decision held that only small refineries that have remained continuously exempt from obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard are eligible for future extensions of the compliance exemption. The four organizations comprising the Biofuels Coalition—the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and the American Coalition for Ethanol—will share time during Tuesday’s oral arguments with the U.S. Department of Justice, which will be representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA announced in February that it supports the Tenth Circuit’s decision. The coalition claims that the EPA had exceeded its authority in creating new exemptions, stating, “The Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling is consistent with the Clean Air Act, congressional intent, and the purpose of the RFS.” ************************************************************************************ U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Staff Appointments The Department of Agriculture last week announced the names of individuals who will hold senior positions in Washington, D.C. Karama Neal was named Administrator for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Most recently, Neal served as president of Southern Bancorp Community Partners. Mike Schmidt was named senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary. Previously, Schmidt served as senior advisor for USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation Mission Area since January 20, 2021. Lisa Ramirez was named Director of the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. She most recently served as the Chief Innovative Officer for the Lubbock Independent School District in Lubbock, Texas. Finally, Doug McKalip was named senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary. Most recently, McKalip was a senior advisor for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says they will “play an integral role in our mission to create a department that represents and serves all Americans, addresses the climate crisis, builds new and fair markets for American producers, and rebuilds rural America.” ************************************************************************************ Dairy Farmers to Seek Emergency USDA Hearing on Class I Mover Reform The National Milk Producers Federation’s Board of Directors voted last week to request an emergency USDA hearing on a Federal Milk Marketing Order proposal. The proposal, NMPF says, would restore fairness for farmers in the Class I fluid milk price mover. The endorsement of the board, which represents dairy farmers and cooperatives nationwide, follows approval from the organization’s Executive Committee. The NMPF plan would ensure that farmers recover lost revenue and establish more equitable distribution of risk among dairy farmers and processors. The current mover was adopted in the 2018 farm bill and intended to be revenue neutral while facilitating increased price risk management by fluid milk bottlers. But the new Class I mover contributed to disorderly marketing conditions last year during the height of the pandemic and cost dairy farmers over $725 million in lost income. NMPF’s proposal would help recoup the lost revenue and ensure that neither farmers nor processors are disproportionately harmed by future significant price disruptions. ************************************************************************************ Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Brand Launches Sustainability Campaign The Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. brand, managed by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, launched a new beef campaign highlighting real beef farmers and ranchers. Consumers will be invited to learn more about how cattle farmers and ranchers around the country are employing sustainable practices to care for the land and produce high-quality beef. Recent scientific research funded by the Beef Checkoff shows that due to decades of continuous improvement efforts on farms and ranches around the country, the U.S. is the leader in sustainable beef production. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, greenhouse gas from beef cattle only represents two percent of emissions in the United States. Additionally, 90 percent of what cattle eat is forage and plant leftovers that people can’t eat. The campaign will come to life in various ways, including new advertising, an interactive map on BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com, a series of interviews showcasing sustainability from farm to table on local TV and radio stations, influencer partnerships and content partnerships. ************************************************************************************ USDA to Provide Critical Nutrition Assistance to 30M+ Kids Over the Summer The Department of Agriculture Monday announced a new effort funded by the American Rescue Plan to provide adequate nutrition to more than 30 million children over the summer. The effort expands the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT benefits. USDA says summer months are difficult for low-income children because they lack access to school meals that fill a nutrition gap during the school year. This summer, USDA will offer P-EBT benefits to low-income children of all ages. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “The expansion of P-EBT benefits over the summer is a first-of-its-kind, game-changing intervention to reduce child hunger in the United States.” P-EBT was established in March 2020 to provide food dollars to families to make up for meals missed when schools have closed due to COVID-19. The program was set to expire on September 30, 2021, but through the American Rescue Plan Act, benefits are now available for the duration of the pandemic, including during the summer months. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Reach 2019 Seasonal Price Level The nation’s average price of gasoline is again on the rise, posting a slight 0.4 cent per gallon rise from a week ago to $2.87 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. The national average now stands 2.0 cents higher than a month ago and $1.13 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen 0.3 cents in the last week and stands at $3.07 per gallon. Nationally, gas prices now match the average prices seen on the same dates in 2019. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “perhaps we may see additional upside as most states in the nation have finished the transition to EPA-mandated summer gasoline.” While gasoline demand did dip last week for the third straight, it was yet another small decline, and as temperatures continue to warm ahead of summer. The Energy Information Administration last week reported a key headline- implied gasoline demand rose over 9 million barrels for the first time since last August- a metric that has weakened over the last few weeks.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Worried About Dollar Outlook Bloomberg is reporting this week that the most popular currency trade at the beginning of the year has splintered now as Wall Street takes to opposing sides on the outlook for the fate of the dollar in the world's pandemic recovery. JPMorgan Asset Management and T. Rowe Price see the dollar weakening as U.S. economic exceptionalism wanes, while PineBridge Investments expects it to strengthen. Currencies from the euro to the Brazilian real – which suffered in the first quarter – have attempted rallies this month leaving the greenback sitting at a closely-watched technical crossroads. "You have that idiosyncratic U.S. rates outperformance story being offset by the global cyclical upswing and by expensive valuations on the dollar," said Ian Samson, a multi-asset fund manager at Fidelity International in Hong Kong, who is long the currency against the euro. "We see significant crosswinds blowing the dollar in different directions." While most on Wall Street called for a weaker dollar in January, the world's reserve currency went on a run that left speculative funds scrambling to cover some $30 billion of net short positions as Treasury yields climbed and expectations of rate hikes were brought forward. That trade soured this month, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slipping 2.3%. A break of the uptrend in place from its first quarter would point the way to further downside. This week's policy assessment by the Federal Reserve, which has held firm against hawkish expectations, could lend weight to bears. At the crux of dollar forecasts is expectations for the pace of recovery in the world's biggest economy. Credit Suisse Strategist Tantia discusses the outlook for Asian markets and why his firm changed their negative view on the U.S. dollar to neutral. As the world strives to break free from the bruising economic effect of coronavirus restrictions, the U.S. has inoculated more citizens than any other country, giving it an edge in the race to re-open. Coupled with the Biden administration's multi-trillion-dollar fiscal stimulus and a Fed that's allowing inflation to overshoot, it's spurring the likes of PineBridge Investments to predict more dollar gains. "U.S. Treasury yields could see another leg higher once we see some inflation come back," with their premium over peers supporting the dollar, said Omar Slim, portfolio manager at PineBridge in Singapore. "Our view is that the dollar will retain a strengthening bias this year." Ten-year U.S. yields surged more than 80 basis points this year to 1.77% in March, the highest since before the pandemic. While the benchmark stood at 1.58% Monday, it remains well above this year's low of around 0.90%. "Positive U.S. data might very easily kick-start a dollar rally again," wrote Commerzbank AG currency strategist Thu Lan Nguyen in a note last week. "So for now U.S. dollar bears should make sure that they don't get excited too soon." But not everyone is convinced the U.S. will continue outpacing peers. For JPMorgan Asset's Thushka Maharaj, its exceptionalism is set to fade as other nations catch-up on vaccine roll-outs and economic re-openings in the second half of the year. The London-based strategist is keeping tabs on developed markets like Europe, the U.K. and Japan, and sees the euro outperforming the dollar in the medium term. “We are expecting the rebound in these economies to mirror what we are seeing in the U.S. right now,” she said. Signs abound this trend is underway. Coronaviruses cases are rising in all regions except Europe, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. The European Union is unleashing a new immunization drive to cover the bulk of its population within a few months, while on the economic front, recent PMI data have beaten expectations. The euro has climbed about 3% from a four-month low in March and broke through the key $1.20 level last week. However, some favor other currencies to best the greenback. T. Rowe's Thomas Poullaouec sees more gains for Australia's risk-sensitive dollar as China's economy rebounds from the pandemic and demand for commodities rise. Aberdeen Standard Investments' Edwin Gutierrez is watching for opportunities to boost exposure to riskier developing currencies as "the rest of the world catches up on the vaccine roll-out." In the meantime, vocal bears continue to warn about long-term headwinds for the dollar. "Beyond the near term, we continue to see a structurally negative outlook for the U.S. currency," wrote Goldman Sachs Group Inc. strategists including Zach Pandl in a note Tuesday. "The dollar is still substantially overvalued."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


Rise in Cost of Eating Out Now Seen Higher for 2021 The cost of eating out will be a little higher than previously forecast by USDA for 2021, but forecasts for overall food price inflation and grocery store prices were kept at prior marks by USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS). Food away from home (restaurant) prices are now expected to increase from 2.5% to 3.5% in 2021 compared with 2020, ERS said, up from 2% to 3% forecast as the increase in March. The higher forecast was "driven by increases in prices for food from 'limited service' vendors (locations where customers pay at the register before eating)," ERS said. Food prices overall so far in 2021 have shown increases compared with 2020, with restaurant prices up 3.7% in March from year ago while food at home (grocery store) prices are up 3.3% from year ago. So far in 2021, food at home prices are up 1% and food away from prices are up 2.3%, while the CPI for all food is up 1.6%.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


New WTO Chief Cautions China Cannot be Made to Feel Targeted Chinese cooperation on trade reforms is most likely to come if it is not made to feel targeted by other countries, according to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the World Trade Organization. Several countries have been pushing for reforms on industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises used by China, with those countries saying the policies distort global trade. "We also have to show China is not being targeted... When China feels it is being targeted, and it's only about China, you get a lot of resistance," Okonjo-Iweala told a European Commission conference. "The dealings I have had with China have been very constructive and I think that if we put the facts on the table about the negative spillovers from such industrial subsidies and share them with China ... they will be willing to look at that." The WTO is working with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OCED) to "put some objective facts on the table," the WTO chief remarked. This comes as the U.S. has continued to seek to build support with allies to take on China's actions on trade and economic policies.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday has an index of U.S. consumer confidence set for 9 a.m. CDT, but no other official reports. Traders will keep a close eye on the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sales news. Weather Tuesday will be very warm, humid and windy over the central and southern U.S. Precipitation will focus on the Northern Plains and northern Midwest with scattered light showers. This combination will favor additional row crop planting progress. Strong thunderstorms with locally heavy rain and potential severe intensity are in store from the southeastern Plains through the southern and eastern Midwest Tuesday evening and Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


Biden Pledges 50 Percent Cut in U.S. Emissions By 2030 During a virtual Earth Day summit with other world leaders, President Joe Biden pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. A DTN article says biofuel groups are relieved after the president’s plan talked about very low carbon, new generation renewable fuels to help achieve rapid emission reductions in both the auto fleet and aviation. Biofuel groups had expressed concern that the president’s infrastructure plan relied too heavily on electric vehicles. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the reality is the country will be using combustion engines for some time into the future. “We know that biofuels have a better greenhouse gas impact or footprint than petroleum-based fuels,” Vilsack says. “To the extent that we can increase our biofuel blends, that’s going to take us closer to our reduction goals.” Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper says biofuels have already made a significant impact on carbon reduction, lowering emissions by almost one billion tons since 2008. Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, says the initiative could potentially expand biofuel markets around the globe for American producers. “Other countries have initiated national ethanol policies as a part of their initiatives to decarbonize transportation fuels, and American biofuel producers are ready to play a much bigger role in meeting the targets domestically and around the world,” Jennings says. ********************************************************************************************** Biden’s 30X30 Proposal Causing Concern Among U.S. Agriculture The American Farm Bureau Federation is one of many ag groups calling on the Biden Administration to act responsibly when it comes to conservation. Biden’s goal to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. land and water by 2030, commonly known as “30X30,” is raising many questions. A letter to the administration makes three key requests: that the administration provides clarity on the initiative; that the effort recognizes voluntary conservation efforts already underway; and that the administration seeks input from farmers and ranchers. “This ‘30X30’ goal has received a great deal of attention in farming and ranching communities across the country,” writes American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “America’s agriculturalists are asking whether their good work will be recognized by the administration.” The letter points out that farmers and ranchers have voluntarily enrolled more than 140 million acres of private land into federal and non-federal conservation programs. That’s a landmass larger than the size of New York and California combined. “We ask that you move swiftly to provide clarification about your intentions, and when you do, make sure to invite public comments because farmers and ranchers are leaders in conservation and deserve to get heard,” Duvall adds. ********************************************************************************************** Soy-Based Innovation Clears Air and Helps Respiration A new soy-based dust suppressant is now available for roads, construction sites, farms, and many more uses. It offers a sustainable choice for rural, urban, and business communities to improve air quality for people, pets, livestock, and crops. As part of the marketing effort, a new video shows how this innovation can help reduce dust on rural gravel roads near farms across the nation. BioBlend Renewable Resources EPIC EL dust suppressant is the latest industrial use product to enter the market after getting research funding from the United Soybean Board and the North Dakota Soybean Council. EPIC EL is made from soybean oil as well as glycerin, a coproduct of biodiesel production. “The soybean checkoff is driving demand for U.S. soy through innovative and sustainable industrial use products,” says Dan Farney, USB Chair and a soybean farmer from Illinois. “A long-lasting soy-based dust suppressant is a natural choice for farmers, county engineers, and government agencies, as well as businesses in rural and urban areas, to improve air quality, traffic safety, and sustainability.” Because EPIC EL is an odorless water-soluble product, it offers environmental benefits compared to the salt-based mixtures commonly used to control dust that trigger concerns about soil leaching and equipment corrosion. ********************************************************************************************** Cargill Building New Canola Plant in Canada as Demand Soars Cargill is building a new $350 million canola plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, to take advantage of the booming demand for the oilseed. Canola futures recently hit record highs, and soybeans reached multi-year highs as demand for canola to process into vegetable oil and animal feed is greater than the available supply. Refiners are also planning to produce renewable diesel from canola and soybeans to comply with Canadian government mandates and several U.S. states to manufacture cleaner-burning fuels. “There’s going to continue to be a strong pull in countries like China, from a food perspective,” says Jeff Vassart, president of Cargill’s Canadian unit. “We do see demand increasing for renewable diesel too, and we’re going to make sure we get positioned for it.” The new plant in Regina, Saskatchewan, will have the capacity to crush one million tons of canola every year. Reuters says the plant is expected to start working in early 2024 and will create 50 full-time jobs. Cargill will also be modernizing its two canola crush facilities in Alberta and Saskatchewan to increase volume. Canada’s canola stocks will drop to their lowest point in eight years sometime later this summer, but Cargill still plans to crush at a strong pace. *********************************************************************************************** Corn Export Sales Rise While Beans and Wheat Drop The USDA says export sales of soybeans and wheat dropped week-to-week while corn sales rose. Soybean sales in the seven days ending on April 15 were reported at only 64,300 metric tons, down 29 percent from the previous week but up 25 percent from the prior four-week average. Japan was the big buyer at 58,200 metric tons. China kept the total from going higher by canceling cargoes of 51,200 tons while an unnamed country canceled 37,200 tons. Sales for the 2021-2022 marketing year totaled 315,300 metric tons. Exports for the week dropped to a marketing-year low of 226,400 metric tons, a 45 percent drop week-to-week. Wheat sales also dropped, falling to 240,200 metric tons, still up 55 percent from the prior four-week average. Mexico was the top buyer at 137,500 metric tons. Sales for the 2021-2022 marketing year came in at 373,800 metric tons. Exports in the seven days through April 15 tallied 561,000 metric tons, 20 percent higher than the previous week. Corn sales rose to 387,500 metric tons, 18 percent higher than the previous week. However, that’s down 75 percent from the previous four-week average. Mexico was the top corn buyer at 366,300 metric tons. Weekly exports totaled 1.61 million metric tons, which was 12 percent lower than the prior week. *********************************************************************************************** Farm Progress Returning to Live Events in 2021 Farm Progress will return to hosting live events with the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, August 31-September 2, and Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Nebraska, September 14-16. A survey done by Readex Research indicated that 84 percent of past show attendees will go to the show in person or plan to attend if their schedule allows it. The industry hasn’t come together in person since early 2020, so groundbreaking product introductions and technological advances haven’t been seen in over 18 months. Farm Progress says its entire team is working to ensure that the agriculture community can reconnect in meaningful and safe ways when they return to these yearly events. The All-Secure Guidelines, a transparent and vetted industry-wide collection of health and safety policies, will provide direction during the upcoming shows and make sure that all attendees and exhibitors will be safe and healthy. Central Illinois farmer Chase Brown tells Farm Progress that “It’s exciting to get out to see and touch the newest equipment, but also to interact with not only exhibitors but fellow farmers.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fight Over Taxes Increases The Hill is reporting this week that lawmakers are digging in for a "bitter fight over tax increases" that President Joe Biden is expected to propose in the coming days – which he says are necessary to pay for expensive infrastructure and family support bills. The expected proposals, which largely hew to his campaign promises, would raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, implement a minimum corporate tax, nearly double taxes on investment gains for the wealthiest and tweak inheritance laws. The announced corporate tax plans would cover a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan dealing with transport, broadband, water and electricity. Capital gains and other proposals are being finalized ahead of next week's rollout of a so-called family infrastructure plan focusing on early education and home care that could run as high as $1.5 trillion. Republicans, whose signature achievement under the Trump administration was a 2017 tax bill that cut taxes significantly are continuing to excoriate the proposals. "This is another economic blunder by the Biden Administration," said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, which deals with taxation. This time, President Biden is also confronting blowback from progressives such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who are pushing for the corporate tax rate to return to its 2017 level of 35%. "We need a progressive tax system based on the ability to pay, not a regressive tax system that rewards the wealthy and the well connected," Sanders said in late March. Progressives want Biden to use the extra cash to pay for expanded health coverage. Republicans are also torn between sacrificing their most recent crowning legislative achievement and proving that they are not obstructionists to popular proposals from a popular president. A recent survey conducted by The New York Times and Survey Monkey found that two out of three American voters support Biden's American Jobs Plan, The Hill said. The White House has portrayed itself as open to negotiations on pay-fors, though Republicans remain skeptical after the president dismissed their COVID-19 offers and passed his last $1.9 trillion plan with only Democratic support. "It's the beginning of a discussion," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday, adding that Biden's red line was his campaign promise to not raise taxes for people making under $400,000 a year. Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said he prefers a negotiated bipartisan solution, but has drawn a line in the sand, arguing that corporate tax increase should not go beyond 25%. Republicans presented their $568 billion infrastructure counter-offer Thursday and ruled out any corporate tax increases arguing that the bill should be funded through user fees and already-appropriated funds from the last COVID-19 relief measure. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va, who led the effort for the GOP response, said that increasing corporate rates was out of the question. "I think that's a non-negotiable red line," she said. "For me personally, that's a non-starter." But Republicans face an uphill battle with that approach, The Hill says. "It definitely should be raised, because the break that they got from the Republicans was totally untoward and these corporations should be paying their fair share of taxes," Sen. Mazie Hirono D-Hawaii, said. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Democrats couldn't accept Capito's red line. "Their idea is that the biggest of the big corporations should not pay one penny in taxes," he said Thursday. "It's pretty hard to get to a bipartisan approach from that. You know, I always try to find common ground, but that's gonna be a stretch." Republicans backing Capito's counterproposal agreed with Biden on one thing: They don't want to raise the gas tax, despite a push by big business groups hoping to stave off a corporate tax hike. Complicating things further, a group of House Democrats have insisted that they will vote down any proposal that doesn't roll back limits on the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT. The GOP tax law limited the deduction to $10,000, a move that largely affected the wealthy in blue states such as California and New York. But eliminating the deduction would raise the price of legislation by $130 billion, half of which would accrue to millionaires. Progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., were the only New York Democrats not to sign onto the SALT letter. Market watchers believe that ultimately Democrats will moderate their asks in order to secure support for passing their bills, whether that requires simply satisfying moderates such as Manchin for a budget reconciliation bill, or persuading 10 Republican Senators to join them in passing legislation through regular order. A Thursday analysis from Goldman Sachs predicted that Biden's plans to raise capital gains from 20% to 39.6% on high earners would likely end up closer to 28%. "While it is possible that Congress might pass the proposal in its entirety, we think a moderated version is more likely in light of the razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate," analyst Jan Hatzius noted. So, we will see. The tax plan will be a hard ask for both parties, and certainly is one producers should watch closely as they proceed this summer, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


Former USDA Secretary Perdue Being Considered As Leader Of University Of Georgia Atlanta TV station Fox 5 is reporting that the University System of Georgia is considering former USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to become the next chancellor. The station reported that a group of students is planning to protest the consideration of Perdue to lead the university system in the state. "Students Against Sonny" has published a petition on Change.org and plans to hold a protest this week in front of the Board of Regents building in Atlanta.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


USDA's Vilsack: Administration 30x30 Plan Not a 'Land Grab' The Biden administration's 30x30 plan to protect 30% of U.S. lands and ocean territory by 2030 not a "land grab," according to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The secretary told reporters, "This is not about land grabs, this is really about utilizing public lands and private working lands in a commitment to conservation." He said the department is reaching out to farmers for their suggestions about how to achieve the "30x30" and other goals, but that "there's no intention to take something away from folks," rather the moves are focused on encouraging adoption of climate-smart practices. He also said the action to increase acreage levels enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will not increase market prices for commodities. But the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) cautioned that "drastically" increasing CRP could result in negative climate impacts. Mike Seyfert, president and CEO of the NGFA, said, "NGFA believes CRP should be targeted at the most environmentally sensitive portions of farms, and avoid enrollment of whole farms or large tracts of productive farmland. Programs that drastically increase acreage idling in the United States send market signals to competitors to plant more acres, resulting in negative climate and environmental impacts. We look forward to hearing additional details from USDA and working with the department to ensure this acreage is targeted for the most substantial environmental benefits while preserving U.S. agricultural productivity and competitiveness."

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will start a new week examining the latest weather forecasts, watching for a report on March durable goods orders at 7:30 a.m. CDT and will pause at 8 a.m. to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. At 10:00 a.m. CDT, USDA will have its weekly report of grain export inspections, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Monday features very warm to hot and dry conditions over much of the central and southern U.S. This combination favors spring planting along with bringing stress to winter wheat. Red Flag wildfire warnings cover much of the Southern Plains. We'll also see widely scattered light showers in the Northern Plains with little to no easing of drought.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


Senate Ag Committee Advances Growing Climate Solutions Act The Senate Agriculture Committee quickly advanced the Growing Climate Solutions Act Thursday morning. Via a voice vote, the committee approved the legislation, sending it on to the full Senate for consideration. Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow states, “On Earth Day, our committee came together in a bipartisan way to pass the Growing Climate Solutions Act.” Ranking member John Boozman says the bill "demonstrates what can be accomplished if we take a bipartisan approach to legislating." The bill creates a structure at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help farmers and foresters scale-up climate-oriented practices and benefit from emerging new sources of farm revenue. The bill was reintroduced on Tuesday with the support of 42 Senators and over 70 agricultural and environmental organizations. Agriculture groups are supportive of the legislation. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, "The Growing Climate Solutions Act rightly rewards farmers for climate-smart practices and provides important guidelines for success.” ************************************************************************************ NACD Announces Climate Action Task Force The National Association of Conservation Districts Thursday announced the formation of a Climate Action Task Force. The Task Force will assess current and emerging climate policy opportunities and make recommendations to NACD’s leadership. The goal is to utilize the technical knowledge and expertise of conservation districts as part of the U.S. solution to climate change. NACD President Michael Crowder says, “It’s important to keep locally-led conservation at the forefront of U.S. climate mitigation efforts to set strong direction that also serves the needs of local communities.” President Crowder selected NACD Immediate Past President Tim Palmer to lead the task force. Palmer says, “The task force members have a keen knowledge – from different perspectives – of how utilizing continuously refined and emerging practices can help our soils and ecosystems produce climate benefits.” NACD says conservation practices that are trusted and familiar to landowners can play a critical role in climate change mitigation and healthy farm, ranch, tribal and forestry economies. ************************************************************************************ NMPF Supports Labeling Integrity Through DAIRY PRIDE Act The National Milk Producers Federation commended lawmakers for reintroducing the DAIRY PRIDE Act. The legislation, NMPF says, would bring clear, accurate labeling information for consumers and end harmful mislabeling of dairy foods for plant-based products. The legislation requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to enforce its own existing standards of identity on imitation dairy products after decades of inaction. Senators Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, and James Risch, an Idaho Republican, introduced a Senate version of the bill, and a companion bill was introduced in the House. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern states, “FDA is responsible for the integrity and safety of our nation’s food, medicine, and medical devices, and it’s crucial that it enforce its own standards and requirements.” Standards of identity legally define what constitutes a specific food or food product, requiring the food product to carry certain qualities. When enforced, these legal standards protect consumers by helping to ensure the integrity of their food. ************************************************************************************ White House Launches Drought Relief Working Group The White House this week announced the formation of an Interagency Working Group to address worsening drought conditions in the West and ongoing water shortages. The Working Group will be co-chaired by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, "With our interagency Working Group, we will collaborate with Tribes, agricultural producers, landowners, and rural communities to build regional resilience to drought." Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says, “We are committed to using every resource available” to accomplish their goal. The Working Group will work to identify immediate financial and technical assistance for impacted irrigators and Tribes. Development of longer-term measures to respond to climate change and build more resilient communities and protect the natural environment will also be a priority, including through President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan and through a recommitment to strengthening the National Drought Resilience Partnership. Formed in 2013, the NDRP brings together federal agencies to build long-term drought resilience. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $487 Million in Rural Water, Energy, and Biofuel Infrastructure The Department of Agriculture celebrated Earth Day Thursday by announcing a $487 million infrastructure investment to help communities in 45 states. USDA says the funding will help communities build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship. USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The investments include $374 million through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 31 states. The funding also includes $78 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program, and $17.4 million in loans in New Mexico and South Dakota through the Electric Loan Program. Finally, USDA is using $18.4 million in 20 states through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to build infrastructure to help expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 218 million gallons per year. ************************************************************************************ Electric Car Sales Up 81 Percent Sales growth of both electric and hybrid vehicles outpaced overall market performance in the first quarter of 2021. Electrified vehicles - automobiles featuring large battery packs and electric motors in the propulsion system - accounted for 7.8 percent of the total U.S. market, up from 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2021. Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book released the data that finds electrified vehicle sales growth of 81 percent far outpaced industry growth. Sales of electric vehicles - battery only - grew by 44.8 percent year over year, reaching nearly 100,000 sales in the quarter, which is a record. Sales of hybrid vehicles outpaced both the market and electric vehicles, doubling to more than 200,000 in the quarter. Hybrid sales are increasing more quickly as sales of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles jumped by 106 percent in the first quarter of the year. The overall automobile market increased by 11.4 percent in the quarter.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Investment Fights and How to Pay Bloomberg is reporting this week that key Senate Republicans are already planning to participate in a revived system of earmarking congressional funds for local projects although their conference left in place a non-enforceable ban on the practice. The conference kept its non-binding ban on earmarks in its Wednesday meeting on caucus rules, members said. Democrats have said they plan to bring back a limited version of earmarks, which hadn't been used in a decade. Now, it appears that at least some Senate Republicans are planning to join in the process, as well. Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said it'll be up to individual members to decide if they want to participate. He said he was confident that "the new system of earmarks won't get the bad reputation it had before it was banned in 2011." "If you don't want an earmark don't ask for one," Shelby said of this week's decision. "Even if you ask for one, you might not get one, because the old earmark days, they're gone. They're going to have to be meritorious, they're going to have to be substantive in nature, and meaningful for us to really even consider it." Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and of the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee said she'll consider possible earmarks. "I'm going to look seriously at earmarking," she told reporters. "If I can make my voice heard and be specific on it, and mindful of the transparency, I don't have a problem with it." Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Transportation-HUD Subcommittee, also told reporters she plans to submit earmark requests. Members expected to vote on a proposal to remove the conference's ban on earmarks but didn't complete that vote on Wednesday, instead opting to leave the "symbolic ban" in place and let members decide for themselves how to legislate. "I certainly hope that every member of the Republican conference complies with what the conference rules say," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, an earmark critic, told reporters. "Can a member choose to act differently? Sure." In the meantime, Senate Republicans say they are working on an infrastructure counteroffer in an effort by conservatives to push the Biden administration to narrow the scope of its package and pay for it with user fees rather than a corporate tax hike. Republicans have discussed a ballpark figure of $600 billion to $800 billion, rather than the $2.25 trillion proposal by Biden. They've also pushed back on Biden's call for an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% as they push to have their bill paid for with user fees. The anticipated announcement is closer to the beginning of negotiations than the end, Bloomberg opines. Capito, who has led the effort to assemble a Republican counteroffer, said it's "an opening bid" in discussions with the White House. "This is an honest bid and a negotiation," she told reporters on Wednesday. "And I just want them to know that we want to be at the table." Capito will join Commerce, Science, and Transportation ranking member Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Energy and Natural Resources ranking member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs ranking member Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to announce the plan at a coming press conference, likely before the end of this week. Wicker called the new proposal "a very viable plan," in his remarks to reporters. Plans to pay for the spending are continuing to be a major divide between Republicans and Democrats. President Biden has said the bill's costs must be offset and proposed a corporate tax hike for upper bracket taxpayers to achieve that. Republicans argue that is a nonstarter. "We're not interested in raising taxes," Capito told reporters. "We think that people that use our infrastructure are a lot of the solution. There's a lot of private money out there." Bloomberg also noted that advocacy groups from states across the U.S. are urging Congress to "evenly" fund transit and highways in the next surface transportation reauthorization bill. The effort, convened by the National Campaign for Transit Justice, is expected to kick off today with letters sent to federal lawmakers from at least 13 states. In additional budget discussions, the White House told lawmakers the administration's goal is to send a full budget proposal for fiscal 2022 by Memorial Day, May 31, House Budget Chair John Yarmuth, D-Ky., told reporters Wednesday. That will help kick off a late start to the congressional budget process, he said. Yarmuth noted that lawmakers are doing preliminary work on a budget resolution, but thinks it will be June by the time the budget portion of the process is finished "because of delays on the White House's end." Members have discussed simply deeming a budget outline to allow appropriators to start their work, Yarmuth said. "Deeming" a resolution sets the top-line spending figures without going through the full process of adopting a budget resolution. So, we will see. It is clear that solutions to the question of how to pay for new federal investments will continue to be a hard, nearly impossible sticking point. Whether or not the administration can rely sufficiently on targeted, high bracket taxpayers and avoid new taxes for the middle class will be increasingly important; an issue producers should watch closely as these investment debates intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


Senators Again Push EPA To Restore The 'Integrity' Of The RFS EPA is being called on to set the 2021 and 2022 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to require "conventional renewable fuel volumes of at least 15 billion gallons per year, as required by statute, along with the court-ordered 500 million gallons illegally waived from 2016 standards and increase biodiesel, advanced, and cellulosic volumes." The lawmakers told EPA Administrator Michael Regan that "restoring the integrity of the RFS and expanding market opportunities for renewable fuels should remain a core part of our plans to assist in the economic recovery of rural America and further reduce emissions from the transportation sector." The lawmakers also called on EPA to update their modeling on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. The lawmakers also took issue with those refiners indicating they cannot comply with the RFS for 2021, noting the extension of the compliance deadlines for 2019 and 2020 and pointing out that action is in addition to the prior administration granting small refinery exemptions (SREs) that "undercut renewable fuels." They also sought to counter arguments that high prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) are threatening the viability of refiners, pointing out that there are many ways refiners can show compliance with the RFS. They called on EPA to "reject requests" to waive or reduce RVOs and continue the commitment to "support farmers and rural communities by upholding and restoring confidence in the RFS." The letter was signed by 12 bipartisan Midwest Senators, including Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and others.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


EPA's Regan Commits He Will Not Go Back To Obama-Era WOTUS Rule The Biden administration is seeking to tackle the issue of Clean Water Act regulations by "learning from the lessons of the past," EPA administrator Michael Regan told members of the House Appropriations Interior-Environment Subcommittee. Specifically on the issue of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule from the Obama administration and the Trump administration rule, Regan said, "We don't have any intention of going back to the original Obama Waters of the U.S. verbatim, and we don't necessarily agree with everything that was in the Trump administration's version as well. We've learned lessons from both. We've seen complexities in both, and we've determined that both rules did not necessarily listen to the will of the people." He said that he and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack are "attached at the hip" on the issue and Regan said he has had discussions with agriculture company officials about WOTUS since he has been at EPA. "I'm interested in moving forward, not in a ping-pong way, but a way that we can provide some certainty to the ag industry, where we don't overburden the small farmer but we also balance the protection of our wetlands and our sounds and estuaries," Regan said.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. new home sales for March is set for 9 a.m. CDT Friday. Traders will check the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales at 8 a.m. At 2 p.m. CDT, USDA will release its cattle on-feed estimate for April 1, comparing to 12.0 million head reported for March 1. Weather Light rain showers are in store for the central and southeastern Plains and western Midwest Friday. We'll also see late-season snow in the northwestern Plains. Other crop areas will be dry. Freeze threats are focused on the Ohio Valley through the Mid-Atlantic coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


USDA Expands and Renews Conservation Reserve Program Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack just announced that USDA will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program with higher payment rates, new incentives, and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation. Additionally, USDA is announcing investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 Regional Conservation Partnership Program projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement at Wednesday’s White House National Climate Task Force meeting. Vilsack says, “We need to invest in CRP and let it do what it does best—preserve topsoil, sequester carbon, and reduce the impacts of climate change.” USDA’s goal is to enroll up to four million new acres in CRP by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentivized environmental practices allowed under the program. USDA says CRP is one of the world’s largest voluntary conservation programs with a long track record of success. ************************************************************************************ Regan: EPA Won’t Return to Obama-era WOTUS Definitions Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan told lawmakers Wednesday the agency would not go back to the Obama-era definitions of Waters of the U.S. Regan made the comments as part of the 2022 Budget Request for EPA during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. Regan told lawmakers, “We don’t have any intention of going back to the original Obama Waters of the U.S. verbatim.” The statement was in response to questions from two Republican members of the subcommittee. Regan, who noted his meetings with top agriculture industry leaders, says, "We all believe that the courts weighed in on the Obama rule, and that the courts weighed in on Trump's Navigable Water Rule." Regan pledged to begin a stakeholder engagement process, including agriculture and environmental groups, to find a way to move forward. Specifically, in a way, Regan says, "where we don't overburden the small farmer, but we also balance the protection of our wetlands," adding, "I think we can do it." ************************************************************************************ Agriculture Welcomes Growing Climate Solutions Act Agriculture groups responded mostly positively to the Growing Climate Solutions Act, sponsored by Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow and Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun. The committee will hold a markup session for the legislation Thursday(today). The act establishes a Department of Agriculture technical assistance and certification program to assist producers and forest owners seeking to participate in voluntary carbon markets. Additionally, the bill would establish an advisory committee to make recommendations to Congress and the Department of Agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance applauded the bill’s introduction. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “This bill is evidence lawmakers can come together in a bipartisan manner to find solutions to environmental challenges while respecting the role of farmers and ranchers.” And National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “By creating a certification program, the Growing Climate Solutions Act would bring much-needed clarity and certainty” to carbon markets. ************************************************************************************ Baldwin Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Retroactively Extend PPP Benefits Senator Tammy Baldwin, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, this week introduced bipartisan legislation to extend more relief to farmers and small businesses. The PPP Flexibility for Farmers, Ranchers, and the Self-Employed Act offers changes to the Paycheck Protection Program. The bill includes a legislative fix authored by Senator Baldwin that would make critical changes to PPP loan calculations to allow self-employed farmers and ranchers to apply for more generous PPP loans based on their gross income, retroactively. Under Baldwin's legislation, any self-employed farmer, even those who already received a PPP loan based on their net income and got it forgiven, could now get a loan for the difference between the gross and the net income loan amounts. Baldwin says of the legislation, "farmers will now have an opportunity to receive an increased benefit with more generous loans." Two other Democrats and four Republicans joined Baldwin in introducing the bill. ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks Comments on Food System Supply Chains The Department of Agriculture seeks comments on a Department-wide effort to improve and reimagine food supply chains. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced the comment period Wednesday as part of a response to an executive order signed by President Joe Biden in February. The comments received will help USDA assess the critical factors, risks, and strategies needed to support resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains and. USDA says such supply chains are needed to address conditions that can reduce critical processing and infrastructure capacity and the availability and integrity of critical goods, products, and services. Identifying food system supply chain bottlenecks and vulnerabilities also may provide valuable insights into the competitive and fair markets landscape, effects on local and regional producers and processors, and equitable access to food and economic opportunity across diverse communities. Secretary Vilsack says, "USDA plans to tackle this supply chain assessment holistically – looking across a full range of risks and opportunities.” ************************************************************************************ USDA’s National Agricultural Classification Survey is Underway The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Classification Survey is arriving in mailboxes around the nation. The survey, one of the most important steps in determining who should receive a 2022 Census of Agriculture questionnaire, asks recipients if they are involved in agricultural activity. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service recently mailed the NACS to 633,000 potential agricultural producers. NASS requests that each person who receives the survey respond by May 3. NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater says the survey “shows the breadth of American agriculture and helps to ensure we get a complete count of farms and ranches in the upcoming agriculture census.” NASS encourages recipients to respond online at www.agcounts.usda.gov, using the 12-digit survey code mailed with the survey. Completed questionnaires may also be mailed back in the prepaid envelope provided. Referenced by countless national and local decision-makers, researchers, farm organizations, and more, the once-every-five-year Census of Agriculture is the leading source of facts about American agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Digital Weapon for China Bloomberg is reporting this week that in spite of China's economic and military power "perhaps nothing reveals Beijing's weaknesses more than the U.S. control of the global financial system." Recently, China has sought ways to counteract U.S. sanctions after President Trump targeted Chinese officials and companies over policies from the South China Sea to Xinjiang. Hong Kong's leader can't access a bank account and a top executive at Huawei Technologies Co. is detained in Canada. Even China's state-run banks are complying with U.S. sanctions. That's one reason the Biden administration is starting to study whether China's development of a digital currency will make it harder for the U.S. to enforce sanctions, Bloomberg said. The digital yuan, which could see a wider roll out at the 2022 Winter Olympics is also spurring the U.S. to consider creating a digital dollar. But instead of challenging U.S. dollar dominance and neutralizing sanctions, the digital yuan appears potentially more geopolitically significant as leverage over multinational companies and governments that want access to China's 1.4 billion consumers. Clearly the United States has a lot of power through our Treasury sanctions," Matt Pottinger, former U.S. deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration said. "That currency can be turned off like a light switch." So far China has mostly resisted hitting foreign firms in response to U.S. actions on companies like Huawei. But Beijing has gone after companies like Hennes & Mauritz AB for statements on human-rights issues, even while government officials have been careful to avoid directly endorsing a boycott. Controlling access to China's massive market remains the best way for Beijing to hit back at the U.S. As long as Chinese companies still want access to the broader financial world dominated by the U.S. and its allies, Washington can effectively wield sanctions against nearly anyone who doesn't operate exclusively in China's orbit. While President Xi Jinping has called for greater self-sufficiency in key technologies like advanced computer chips, a financial decoupling from the U.S. would only hurt China's economy and potentially leave the Communist Party more exposed to destabilizing attacks. After Xi effectively ended Hong Kong's autonomy last year with a sweeping national security law, the U.S. refrained from cutting off the territory's ability to access U.S. dollars due to the potential devastation to the global financial system. Widespread use of the digital yuan -- also known as the e-CNY -- could potentially give China's central bank more data on financial transactions than the big tech giants, allowing the Communist Party to both strengthen its grip on power and fine-tune policies to bolster the economy. However, while that level of control may boost growth in the world's second-biggest economy, it also risks spooking companies and governments already wary of China's track record on intellectual property rights, economic coercion and rule of law. China's ability to see every transaction may make it difficult for foreign banks to use the digital yuan and still comply with confidentiality rules in their home countries, according to Emily Jin, a research assistant at the Center for a New American Security. But, she added, the currency might appeal to some regimes that prioritize control over privacy protection. The digital yuan would serve as a back-up to Ant Group Co.'s Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s WeChat Pay, which together make up 98% of the mobile-payments market, according to Mu Changchun, director of the central bank's Digital Currency Research Institute. Last month he said the electronic yuan has the "highest level of privacy protection" and the central bank wouldn't directly know the identity of users, but the government could get that information from financial institutions in cases of suspected illegal activity. Chinese policy makers have also repeatedly emphasized that the digital yuan isn't meant to challenge the dollar. People's Bank of China Deputy Governor Li Bo said last weekend the motivation for the e-CNY is primarily for domestic use. The Chinese currency now makes up about 2% of global foreign exchange reserves compared with nearly 60% for the U.S. dollar and most of Beijing's trade and loans in Xi's Belt-and-Road Initiative are disbursed in dollars. "The dollar is not the dominant reserve currency because the Americans say it must be," said Michael Pettis, finance professor at Peking University and senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing. "The dollar is the dominant reserve currency because the Chinese, the Europeans, the Japanese, the South Koreans etc. say it must be. It's the rest of the world that imposes that because they think its the safest place to park money." China began research on the digital yuan back in 2014. It has begun technical testing with Hong Kong for cross-border payments and is working with Thailand and the United Arab Emirates on real-time foreign exchange settlements. Authorities are also studying how the digital yuan can be combined with 5G networks and the internet of things. Josh Lipsky, director of the Atlantic Council's GeoEconomics Center, said. "China is really leading in this area and it should be a wake-up call to the U.S. and to Europe," he said. "There is a serious first mover advantage not because of what China will do, but what other countries are doing. So, we will see. There is a strong hope across agriculture that the massive financial control systems can be made to accommodate trading needs -- and that new deals to help supply China's growing food needs can be made, as well. These are among the world's most promising markets and should be redeveloped and expanded to the extent that is possible, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


Revised Climate Solutions Measure Reintroduced A bipartisan group of senators reintroduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act Tuesday, a bill that would establish a federal program to help agriculture producers access carbon credit markets. Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., joined Sens. Mike Braun, R-Ind., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., spearheading the legislation. The American Farm Bureau Federation is one of more than 60 agricultural and environment organizations to back the measure. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall called the bill an "improved" version of the one introduced in the last Congress.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


USDA Seeking Public Input to Compile Report On Supply Chain Issues USDA is calling for public comments through May 21 on actions to "secure and strengthen" U.S. supply chains as it seeks to prepare a report on supply chain issues for agriculture commodities and food products. The request for comments, published in the Federal Register April 21, covers a host of topics and USDA said they will also use feedback provided to shape their thinking on "how stimulus relief programs and spending related to food supply chain resilience as authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA), and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) can help to increase durability and resilience within the U.S. food supply." The request covers a broad range of issues for the supply chain in food and agriculture, including on issues such as "market concentration and consolidation," on crops or products not produced here that could be, transportation systems, digital products, risks posed by climate change, and "how to best target support for socially disadvantaged producers and processors, tribal communities, small businesses, beginning farmers and ranchers, and other key stakeholder groups." USDA also wants commenters to offer any "specific policy recommendations important to transforming the food system and increasing reliance in the supply chain for the sector." USDA is to provide a report within one year of the executive order signed February 24 by President Joe Biden on "America's Supply Chain," and the comments it is seeking are aimed at providing information to compile that report. The broad nature of the request also outlines the administration's policy thinking moving forward which appears to be less focused on mainstream production agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's export sales report, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. A report on March U.S. existing home sales and an index of leading indicators is set for 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. CDT. USDA's monthly cold storage report will be released at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Thursday will be mainly dry and cool to cold across the Midwest, with morning freeze threat and disruption to fieldwork and planting. Scattered light rain will move across portions of the Plains during the day; however, northern and far southwestern sectors face extreme fire threats due to dry conditions and strong winds.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


USDA Reports Early Planting The amount of corn planted doubled in the last week, but don’t expect the same progress this week, with cold weather and snowfall moving across the Midwest. The National Weather Service issued freeze warnings across the central and eastern Corn Belt as a late winter storm tracks through the region, along with winter weather advisories. The Department of Agriculture’s latest Crop Progress Report showed corn plantings over the last week increased to eight percent, from four percent last week of the crop planted. Just two percent of the crop has emerged. Last year, during the same time, six percent of the crop was in the ground. USDA also reports three percent of the nation’s soybean crop is planted, compared to two percent last year. Meanwhile, 11 percent of the nation’s cotton crop is in the ground, along with 15 percent of the sorghum crop, 33 percent of the rice crop and 25 percent of sugar beets. ************************************************************************************ Senators Offer Legislation to Help States Rebuild Infrastructure Following Extreme Weather U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Mike Braun Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation to help states rebuild stronger and more resilient roads, highways and bridges. The Wisconsin Democrat and Indiana Republican say the legislation will help states as they recover from extreme weather and natural disaster damage brought by severe storms, floods or hurricanes. The Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program provides federal funding to states to rebuild roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters. Incorporating resiliency improvements into emergency relief projects has become increasingly important, the Senators say. Yet too often, highway infrastructure is rebuilt to pre-disaster specifications, leaving roads and bridges vulnerable to another disaster and costly damage repairs. The bipartisan Rebuilding Stronger Infrastructure Act ensures that resilience improvements are eligible for federal funding and requires the Federal Highway Administration to provide states with the guidance and tools needed to rebuild infrastructure that is more resilient to the next severe weather event. ************************************************************************************ Canadian National Launches Rival Bid for Kanas City Southern Railroad Canadian National Railway Tuesday made a rival bid for Kansas City Southern. The proposed cash-and-stock transaction is valued at $33.7 billion. The proposal represents a 21 percent premium over the implied value of the Canadian Pacific transaction. Dow Jones reports the new bid from Canadian National is $200 in cash and 1.059 Canadian National shares for each Kansas City share. That works out to roughly $325 a share. The prior bid is $90 a share and 0.489 Canadian Pacific shares for each Kansas City share, worth roughly $270 a share. Regardless of who wins the bidding war, the winners of the looming battle look to be KCS shareholders, as shares are up 25 percent for the year. In a news release, Canadian National states, “CN is ideally positioned to combine with KCS to create a company with broader reach and greater scale, and to seamlessly connect more customers to rail hubs and ports in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.” ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Calls on EPA to Fix E15 Labeling Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency this week regarding E15 labeling and infrastructure. Growth Energy supports modification of the E15 label requirement to "increase clarity and ensure it adequately advises consumers of appropriate uses of the fuel." In addition, Growth Energy and NCGA support EPA's proposal to modify the underground storage tank compatibility requirements for E15 and other fuel blends. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor states, "As our nation faces the challenges of climate change, it's imperative that EPA act immediately to support greater access to cleaner renewable fuel blends." NCGA President John Linder wrote in the organization's comments, "Finalizing this proposal will remove additional barriers to retailers offering E15 and provide an immediate fuel decarbonization opportunity." NCGA’s comments urged EPA to adopt proposed updates to the E15 label and make further revisions to the label statement to keep it fact-based and avoid speculation and confusion. ************************************************************************************ USDA Releases Vegetable and Pulses Outlook The Department of Agriculture recently released its April 2021 Vegetable and Pulses Outlook. Despite a continuing pandemic and weather-related events, USDA says the U.S. vegetable industry was able to overcome a myriad of obstacles and continue to supply consumers with an almost uninterrupted flow of vegetables and pulse crops. Assuming the impact of the pandemic begins to wane in the second half of 2021, potatoes and potato products may see a burst of demand as consumers resume some activities such as travel and away-from-home dining. Meanwhile, the Producer Price Index for all fresh vegetables, excluding potatoes, reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics through the first quarter of 2021, reveals fresh vegetable producer prices decreased by eight percent. And as global economic activity continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and energy prices return to and exceed pre-pandemic levels, growers can expect to pay more for most of the inputs required to produce, pack, and ship vegetables in 2021. ************************************************************************************ USDA Issues Pandemic Flexibilities for Schools and Day Care Facilities through June 2022 The Department of Agriculture Tuesday issued flexibilities to allow school meal programs and childcare services return to serving healthy meals in fall 2021. Several meal service flexibilities that enable social distancing are now extended through June 30, 2022. A recent study from Tufts University found that in 2018, schools were the single healthiest source of food consumed across a sample of children and adults. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “USDA will remain relentless in ensuring our nation’s children get the critical nutrition they need.” Vilsack says states and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for a safe reopening in the fall. Schools nationwide are allowed to serve meals through USDA’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option, which is typically only available during the summer. This option maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal while allowing schools to serve free meals to all children. In addition, schools that choose this option will receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Green Plan Fuels Farm Rush to Profit From Carbon Market Bloomberg is reporting this week that President Joe Biden's “green push” in the discussions of Earth Day this week is fueling something of a gold rush across America's farm country as companies seek to profit from a nascent market for pollution offsets. Examples include butter maker Land O'Lakes and agri-tech firms Indigo Ag and Nori LLC who all have set out to sell carbon credits, produced when farmers adopt practices that reduce emissions. And more firms are moving in, Bloomberg says, with non-profit group Ecosystem Services Market Consortium -- supported by Cargill Inc., General Mills Inc. and McDonald's Corp. -- planning to launch a national carbon market by 2022. With livestock emitting methane as fertilizers emit gases and tractors burning diesel, agriculture is seen as part of the climate problem with the sector accounting for about 10% of U.S. greenhouse emissions total. Still, the world's soil may be able to sequester as much as the fossil-fuel emissions from the transport sector globally -- or nearly as much as the carbon dioxide released by the electricity industry worldwide. It's that potential that agriculture firms, big and small, are keen to tap. Buyers so far include Microsoft, North Face and others eager to offset their emissions. “It's a little bit of a gold rush out there, with a lot of new entrants coming in with a lot of great claims,” said Chris Harbourt, global head of carbon at Indigo, which will be one of the few companies to have credits verified by formal carbon registries. “But do they have the buyers to really back it up?” The Biden administration has promised to make climate change a top priority and bring down emissions to net-zero by 2050. And the president also has ordered all agencies to come up with a whole-of-government approach to achieving the goal. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack touts potential “early wins” from a sector he argues can pivot more rapidly than other major polluters such as power plants, transportation and construction. U.S. agriculture in 2019 was responsible for 629 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, up 8 million tons from the prior year, according to EPA. A carbon credit represents a 1 metric ton reduction in carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount in a different greenhouse gas. Farming is in constant exchange with the atmosphere, Bloomberg notes. Methane emissions from livestock are 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Fertilizers emit nitrous oxide, more potent yet with 300 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide. But crops, pasture grasses and trees take in carbon from the atmosphere and deposit it in roots and soil. The idea is to re-balance that exchange. Special feeds can reduce livestock emissions and digesters can turn methane from manure into biofuel. Cutting down on fertilizer reduces nitrous oxide. “No till” and reduced-till farming avoids disturbing soil and reduces the emissions from that source. Cover crops planted between growing seasons draw more carbon from the air into the soil and over time may reduce the need for fertilizer. “For the first time, many different sectors are realizing that you need brown and green to actually do green,” said Erin Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action. “We need to lean into the next decade. This is no longer business as usual. We're faced with extreme episodic weather events.” But it's also far from simple. Startup costs can swamp financial gains so large operators may squeeze out smaller ones and increase farm consolidation. Adding a cover crop costs at least $20 an acre for the seeds and up to $15 an acre to get it planted, according to Indigo's Harbourt. And there's the question of how to reward farmers like organic growers who are already using these methods. Mark Isbell, an Arkansas rice farmer who has reduced emissions, says he is worried about creating “perverse incentives.” A coalition of farm groups has suggested one-time payments for early adopters. Environmental groups are split, worrying about paying farmers for steps they might take anyway. Activists are pushing the administration to lay out ambitious goals and detailed plans when it holds its virtual summit with world leaders this week on Earth Day. However, there are also questions over how to measure carbon sequestration since soil types and climate vary greatly from farm to farm and even within the same plot of land. Verification is an issue, with Indigo so far being one of the few working with the so-called carbon registries that are recognized in voluntary markets. Registries haven't escaped scrutiny. Nature Conservancy, the top U.S. seller of carbon offsets, said it's conducting an internal review of its portfolio following concerns that it's facilitating the sale of meaningless carbon credits to corporate clients. Pricing is another issue, with wild variations between what companies charge. CME Group Inc., one of the world's largest derivative exchanges, recently started a carbon offset futures contract, accepting credits issued by certain registries. “It's a voluntary market, it's a developing market, it's a nascent market,” said Ben Fargher, a managing director of sustainability at Cargill, which for now is only using carbon programs to offset its own emissions. “That price discovery is still being discerned.” Biden officials say they want to move quickly and their climate policy for farmers will be based on voluntary incentives. Robert Bonnie, Vilsack's main climate adviser, posed a scenario in a transition memo in which a USDA carbon bank might spend $1 billion a year to buy farm-related credits. So, we will see. Secretary Vilsack has experience with these issues, gained in his previous tour as Secretary, so he can be expected to play a strong role in the newly emerging policies -- efforts that likely will be both important and controversial and should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


CFAP Payment Update Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) have reached $13.45 billion as of April 18, up from $13.33 billion the prior week. Payments break down to $6.22 billion for acreage-based crops, $3.42 billion for livestock, $2.55 billion for sales commodities, $1.21 billion for dairy, and $57.1 million for eggs/broilers. There is a slight increase for CFAP 1 payments as the total still rounds to $10.55 billion. But payments for livestock are now at $5.04 billion ($5.03 billion prior), $2.66 billion for non-specialty crops ($2.66 billion prior), $1.80 billion for dairy ($1.80 billion prior), $930.7 million for specialty crops ($929.7 million prior), $120.7 million for aqua/nursery/flora ($120.6 million prior) as of April 18.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


Brazil Suspends Import Duties On Soybeans/Products, Corn Brazil's Ag Ministry announced Monday that the country has suspended import duties on corn, soybeans, soymeal and soyoil through the end of the year as it seeks to rein in commodity price inflation. The Chamber of Foreign Commerce (Camex) had previously authorized suspension of corn import duties until March 31 and soybean import duties until January 15. The ministry said the expectation when the original action was announced was that external prices would stabilize. "However, international prices had an upward trend, putting even more pressure on domestic prices," the ministry said. "Domestic prices continued to rise due to the strong external demand and the continued devaluation of the real against the dollar." Some are expecting that the U.S. could benefit from the action.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


Farm Groups Support Bonnie Nomination for FPAC Farm groups welcome President Joe Biden’s nomination of Robert Bonnie to oversee The Department of Agriculture’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area as undersecretary. FPAC is significant to agriculture and includes the Farm Service Agency, which manages commodity programs and the Conservation Reserve Program, the Risk Management Agency, which administers crop insurance, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which manages conservation programs other than CRP. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, "We appreciate his outreach and engagement with Farm Bureau during his tenure with the Biden administration, and we are hopeful he will remain fully engaged with farmers and ranchers in his new role." American Soybean Association President Kevin Scott says, "We have appreciated his public service in support of agriculture, and we respect Bonnie's accessibility and responsiveness to us as farmers." Finally, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Bonnie is "one of the nation’s foremost authorities and leaders on working lands approaches to conservation and incentive-based climate and conservation practices.” ************************************************************************************ DMI Announces Earth Day Strategy Dairy farmers’ longstanding commitment to the environment and their stories of stewardship are taking center stage for Earth Day communications strategies. Following Earth Day on April 22 and continuing into May, Dairy Management Inc. will showcase tangible examples of real environmental progress being made on farms and throughout the dairy supply chain. DMI will use its channels, including USDairy.com and its social media properties, to publish sustainability-related content, such as videos, articles and infographics highlighting farmer stories. Other strategies include cultural influencers publishing dairy sustainability content via their social channels and the recent release of a video from media partner Vox examining what happens to nutrition and the environment if the U.S. dairy cow herd was removed. Finally, the checkoff has led efforts to build awareness with audiences about dairy's vital role in sustainable, equitable and secure food systems over the past six months, sparked by the announcement of the 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals and Net Zero Initiative. ************************************************************************************ Sysco, Cargill, NFWF Announce Sustainable Cattle Grazing Program Sysco and Cargill, two of the world's largest food companies, just announced a major partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The partnership will help ranchers in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado tackle climate change and improve grasslands and wildlife habitat. Through a public-private partnership, $5 million in funding from Sysco and Cargill will accelerate the implementation of sustainable grazing practices over the next five years across one million acres of an area responsible for approximately 30 percent of the beef produced in the United States. The Southern Plains Grassland Program has the potential to sequester up to 360,000 metric tons of carbon per year, or the equivalent of removing 78,000 passenger vehicles from the road in one year. Through NFWF, and in coordination with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service "Working Lands for Wildlife" framework, conservation experts will work with interested ranchers to plan and implement voluntary grassland management practices with consideration to the unique needs of their land. ************************************************************************************ Bayer Announces Carbon Credits Program Enhancements Bayer recently announced enhancements to the Bayer Carbon Program, providing new opportunities for U.S. growers to participate for the 2021-22 program season. Launched last summer, Bayer says the program takes a farmer-centric approach by offering growers simplicity, certainty and flexibility. By paying U.S. farmers for implementing climate-smart farming methods such as strip- or no-till and cover crops, which help sequester carbon in the soil, farmers receive guaranteed payments and are rewarded for how they produce, not just what they produce. Changes include a significant geographic expansion, nearly doubling the number of states where growers are eligible to participate. For the first time, growers who have previously adopted some climate-smart farming practices also may be able to enroll those acres in the program. Enhancements for the 2021-2022 program season include eligibility for growers who have adopted strip- or no-till or cover crops on fields on or after January 1, 2012. For a complete list of eligible geographies, to learn more or enroll in the program, visit bayercarbon.com. ************************************************************************************ JBS to Purchase Plant-based Food Company The world’s largest protein company and second-largest food producer has entered into an agreement to purchase Vivera, Europe’s third-largest plant-based food company. JBS SA announced the agreement Monday, worth $410 million. Vivera develops and produces a broad range of plant-based meat replacement products for major retailers in over 25 countries across Europe, with market share in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany. The deal includes three manufacturing facilities and a research and development center located in the Netherlands. The acquisition of Vivera strengthens and boosts JBS’ global plant-based food platform, according to the company. Strong growth is expected in the plant-based protein category throughout global markets. The deal will add a brand to JBS' portfolio that is well- established in consumer preference, strengthening the company's focus on value-added products. To nurture its entrepreneurial spirit, JBS plans to manage Vivera as a standalone business unit with its current leadership team to remain in place. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Remain Unusually Stable In an unusual feat for spring, the national average price of gasoline and diesel is unchanged from a week ago. The national average price of gas stands at $2.85 per gallon, 2.2 cents lower than a month ago, and $1.07 higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel is also unchanged from a week ago and stands at $3.07 per gallon. Meanwhile, nationally, gasoline demand fell 0.57 percent. Gas Buddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “Gasoline demand has given up ground for the second straight week, likely due to some areas seeing a rise in coronavirus cases, and as spring break plans conclude.” De Haan notes that the next trend in gas prices isn’t evident just yet, and we may see additional slight sideways moves in the weeks ahead, until either demand starts to increase notably again, or we see the opposite. Crude oil prices perked up last week on solid improvements in jobless claims, retail sales and consumer sentiment.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Politics and the Fed's Focus on Climate The Washington Post is reporting that criticism of the Federal Reserve is growing “as it wades into climate and equity issues.” While tensions are not new for the institution, the source is now different, the Post says. After years of criticism from the Trump administration, it now faces warnings of politicization from Republican lawmakers. As the Fed has taken a more expansive view of how it could work toward full employment, stable inflation and financial stability -- the loosely defined tasks Congress handed it -- conservative economists and lawmakers have complained that it risks going too far. One of the most prominent critics is Senator Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., and a member of the Senate Banking Committee. Such complaints don't carry much immediate threat, with Democrats in charge of Congress and the White House. But the mere accusation that the Fed is bowing to Democrats is a striking inflection point for a central bank that has often lived in America's imagination as a friend of bankers and free-market enthusiasts. The timing is also surprising since Republicans lead the institution. There's a reason for the shift, central bank watchers say: The Fed is trying to figure out how to do its job in a changing economy. "It's not so much a give in to political pressure as it is to economic reality," Steven Kelly, a researcher at Yale's Program on Financial Stability, said. That is particularly true when it comes to the focus on labor market equity, he said. The Fed is in charge of guiding the economy by setting the price of money. It moves interest rates to boost growth during bad times or to prevent painful overheating during good ones. Its national and regional policymakers -- 18 at present -- have been appointed by the president or by business and community leaders and do their jobs independent of the White House and with only arms-length oversight from Congress. Fed officials have guarded their independence fiercely and they generally refuse to weigh in on heated political debates. But they have occasionally made exceptions. Their opinions have at times been welcome to Republicans -- but that started to change after the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis, as Republicans sometimes accused former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan's successors of being political. When Janet Yellen, the Fed chair from 2014 to 2018 and now the Treasury secretary, talked about skyrocketing inequality, Republican lawmakers complained. In the years since, the Fed has become more emboldened to discuss issues that have an economic impact, even when they fall into areas of partisan disagreement. And Powell, who was appointed to the Fed by President Barack Obama but elevated to chair by Trump ushered in a new policy framework last year. It clarified that the Fed saw its full employment target as "a broad-based and inclusive goal." Chairman Powell said last week that the tweak was a nod to concerns about economic inequality at a time when low inflation rates had given the Fed leeway to foster a hotter job market that pulled more people in and pushed wages higher. And when the pandemic spurred a financial meltdown last March and April, the Fed introduced programs to keep credit flowing not just to Wall Street but also to Main Street, including state and local governments. In the subsequent months, Powell gently but firmly pushed for more congressional spending to shore up the economy. The Fed's emergency efforts were initially welcomed by both parties but ended in blowback the post says. In fact, Sen. Toomey held up stimulus negotiations in December 2020 to insert language that might have -- in its original format -- prevented the Fed from setting up programs that could help business or municipal borrowers. His office said the wording, which was eventually watered down, would protect the Fed from becoming a tool for Democrats. But Toomey has continued to raise concerns that the Fed is on the brink of losing its neutrality. "The Federal Reserve's independence and careful adherence to nonpartisanship has allowed it to avoid being seen as a politicized body," he wrote. "The Federal Reserve may pursue mission creep or welcome itself to political capture,” he continued. “But such activities are inconsistent with its statutory responsibilities." But Fed officials say the central bank is being pragmatic, not political. Chairman Powell said last week that the Fed sees such issues “through the lens of our existing mandates” -- racial, gender and other disparities in economic outcomes "hold the economy back," for example. Still, the Fed knows it's in fraught territory. When Fed officials talk about inequality, they often discuss opportunity -- a framing with more bipartisan backing. There is a risk if the Fed is seen as a "quote unquote Democratic institution," said Peter Conti-Brown, a Fed historian at the University of Pennsylvania. "The Fed always needs political support to do its job well," said Sarah Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University who studies the Fed's politics. And even now, some Democrats say the central bank could go further. Rep. Rashida Talib, D-Mich., has pushed the Fed to do more to get cheaper credit to states and localities, for instance. "I have a lot of respect for Chairman Powell," said Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., who has at times worried about the Fed's climate push. Still, Barr said, the regional banks risked "overstepping" by getting specific about social issues, inconsistent with the Fed's long history of jealously guarding its independence. So, we will see. The real test of the Fed's policies likely will be in future responses to inflation, if such trends develop. So far, the Fed has been quite transparent about its intentions in such cases, but actually sorting out the temporary from the dangerous can be extremely difficult and should be watched closely by producers as the economy bounces back from the COVID's destruction, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


House Republicans Unveil Climate Measures House Republicans Friday unveiled their own slate of climate measures to counter Democratic proposals as Biden has made combating global warming a top priority of his administration. The Agriculture Committee minority offered five bills that aim to encourage private-sector partnerships in conservation and to help farmers protect the health of soil, among other initiatives. Republican members on the House Natural Resources Committee proposed another measure aimed at reducing America's reliance on imported critical minerals. "We're no longer debating whether or not climate change is real," House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., said in an interview. "We're simply debating the best way to address it." Thompson is also calling for the panel to hold hearings on USDA's farm bill implementation relative to climate goals that were in the 2018 Farm Bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no official reports scheduled for Tuesday, but traders will keep close watch on the latest weather forecasts. Export sales have been quiet lately, but any new announcements will be noticed. Weather Snow and light rain are in store for portions of the central Plains and western Midwest Tuesday. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be well below normal in northern and central areas with possible damage to winter wheat and emerged row crops.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


EPA Asking Corn, Oil for Input on the Next Phase of U.S. Biofuel Policy The Environmental Protection Agency wants industry groups to give input on where the future of U.S. biofuel policy is heading after the current phase finishes in 2022. Four sources told Reuters that this is a new opportunity for the oil, corn, and biofuel industries to reshape the Renewable Fuel Standard, the source of a bitter dispute between the industries for more than ten years. Under the regulation, the EPA will have discretion over the annual mandated biofuel blending volumes from 2023 forward, taking over that responsibility from Congress. Oil and biofuel groups have begun to meet with the EPA and talk about ways the agency could handle the RFS after that date. While the EPA declined to comment to Reuters, some groups like the American Petrochemical Institute say they want the EPA to use the RFS to encourage increased use of advanced and cellulosic biofuels instead of conventional biofuels like ethanol. Brooke Colman of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council says the EPA shouldn’t discourage conventional biofuel production in favor of other biofuels. “Any plan that displaces biofuel with biofuel is an innovation-killing non-starter that would cannibalize the industry revenue needed for investment in innovation,” Colman says. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Sorghum Exports Shatter Single-Week Record The USDA says American sorghum exports during the week ending on April ninth totaled a record-breaking 33.9 million bushels. That tops the previous record by more than 10 million bushels, a mark set in August 2020. In addition to the record-breaking exports, new sales commitments hit 33.8 million bushels, most of which got purchased by China. “Sorghum exports continue to show a strong demand for our crop, and new purchases at this level only reaffirm that,” says National Sorghum Producers CEO Tim Lust. “The size of shipments reported this last week is equivalent to the size of approximately 10-12 Panamax vessels.” New crop purchases of U.S. sorghum at this point in the marketing year are also at a record level, reaching 40 million bushels during the week ending April ninth. That’s a 264 percent increase from the previous record set in 2014. “This is the strongest new crop demand we have ever seen at this time of the season,” says Lust. “Availability is so scarce that the sorghum crop being planted now is being marketed at the same time.” He says this sends a strong demand signal to U.S. sorghum producers from their international customers. ********************************************************************************************** NPPC’s In-Person World Pork Expo Set for June The World Pork Expo will be an in-person event scheduled for June in Iowa. The National Pork Producers Council says that all of the needed COVID-19 protocols will be followed, and they believe their members are getting vaccinated. The event is June 9-11 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. “The decision didn’t come lightly,” says NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “It was very carefully considered.” The Hagstrom Report says Sorenson notes that everyone in the pork industry values the in-person expo because they get together to do business, network, and adopt the latest technologies. NPPC officials say they don’t have specific numbers on how many of their members are getting COVID vaccinations, but they don’t know of any members declining the vaccine. CEO Neil Dierks says he’s talked to multiple members who say they’ve had their first or second shots. He believes producers are getting the vaccine because vaccinations are “part of the industry culture.” The trade show will include social distancing and hand-washing stations. As far as required proof of vaccination, COVID tests, or temperature checks, officials say the expo will follow government recommendations at the time of the event. ********************************************************************************************** Produce Union Unhappy with USDA’s Cancellation of Food Box Program A trade group in the fruit and vegetable industry is unhappy with the USDA’s decision to cancel the Farmers to Families Food Box Distribution Program. United Fresh says millions of Americans gained access to healthy, fresh produce throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, calling the decision by Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack “shortsighted.” The group says comments disparaging the program were a slap in the face to the thousands of volunteers, non-profits, regional food distributors, and farmers who worked together in communities across the country to deliver healthy foods to people in their time of great need. “For a major new program put together rapidly in a time of crisis, the food box program certainly included challenges,” United Fresh says in a news release. “Yet, hundreds of community non-profits and nutrition advocates have found delivering fresh produce directly to those in need has great potential to truly make a difference in the health of millions of Americans.” The trade group says the sudden decision seems more like a political statement against a program started by a former administration than an objective evaluation of the program’s ability to improve Americans’ health. “USDA bears a tremendous responsibility to develop new programs to get fresh, healthy foods to people in need,” they say. *********************************************************************************************** USDA Looking to Halt Decline in Conservation Reserve Sign-Ups Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the USDA is only days away from announcing “greater opportunities” for landowners to take fragile farmland out of production in exchange for a payment. A Successful Farming article says the Biden Administration is looking for ways to halt a 13-year decline in the number of signups under the Conservation Reserve Program, the largest land set-aside program in the country. Vilsack recently told Illinois public radio that the CRP could play a role in President Biden’s plan to make American agriculture the first in the world to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 20.8 million acres are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, with contracts on three million acres set to expire on September 30. While the 2018 Farm Bill calls for gradually raising the enrollment cap to 27 million acres, it lowered the annual rental rate to landowners to pay for those extra acres. Some senators had said last fall that the USDA was “being stingy” with the incentives and bonuses it had previously offered to encourage producer participation. *********************************************************************************************** USDA Announces 2021 Cotton Loan Rate Differential The USDA announced the 2021 crop loan rate differentials for upland and extra-long staple cotton, which are applied to the crop loan rate to determine the per-bale actual loan rate. The differentials, also referred to as loan rate premiums and discounts, get calculated based on market valuations of various cotton quality factors over the prior three years. The 2021 crop differential schedules get applied to 2021 crop loan rates of 52 cents per pound for the base grade of upland cotton and 95 cents per pound for extra-long-staple cotton. The 2018 Farm Bill stipulates that the loan rate for the base quality of upland cotton ranges between 45 and 52 cents per pound based on the simple average of the Adjusted World Price for the two marketing years immediately preceding the current marketing year. But the loan rate cannot be less than 98 percent of the preceding year’s loan. The loan rate provided to an individual cotton bale is based on the quality of each bale as determined by the USDA’s Ag Marketing Service classing measurements. The differentials are important to cotton producers because they’re used to derive the actual loan rate for each bale of cotton, above (premium) or below (discount) the average per pound loan rate, depending on the grade or quality of the cotton.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Currency Manipulation Concerns The New York Times reported late last week that the Treasury Department put Taiwan, Vietnam and Switzerland on notice over their currency practices -- but struck a more conciliatory tone than the previous administration and stopped short of actually labeling any of them as manipulators. The announcement came in the Treasury's first foreign exchange report under Secretary Janet Yellen. Treasury reports to Congress twice yearly in an effort to hold the U.S. trading partners accountable if they try to gain an unfair advantage in international commerce through currency manipulation. The U.S. requires "manipulators" to enter into negotiations with the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund to address the situation. The blemish is somewhat symbolic but can lead to tariffs or other retaliation if talks collapse. Both Switzerland and Vietnam were listed as "manipulators" last year and their removal on Friday means no country currently faces that designation. Still, Treasury said there were signs that Switzerland, Vietnam and Taiwan engaged in “improper practices,” "Treasury is working to address efforts by foreign economies to artificially manipulate their currency values that put American workers at an unfair disadvantage," Secretary Yellen said. Last week's decision is the latest attempt by the administration to deescalate tension with U.S. allies after four years of former President Donald Trump's confrontational approach to international economic diplomacy. It also steers the United States away from "the Trump fixation" on bilateral trade imbalances, taking "a more holistic view of trade relationships," the Times said. Treasury officials noted the extraordinary economic conditions brought on by the pandemic in the last year and said they were not trying to send mixed messages by suggesting manipulation was taking place but not labeling it as such. "This report adopts a more measured and analytical tone in evaluating U.S. trading partners' currency practices relative to the previous administration's approach of wielding the report as a political tool," said Eswar Prasad, the International Monetary Fund's former China chief. He said the Biden administration's report "comes to analytically balanced assessments of foreign exchange market intervention by U.S. trading partners." The Trump administration labeled Vietnam and Switzerland as manipulators in its final report in 2020, but the Biden administration said it found "insufficient evidence" to support the designation now. To receive the label, Treasury must conclude that a country manipulates the exchange rate between its currency and the dollar for "purposes of preventing effective balance of payments adjustments or gaining unfair competitive advantage in international trade." Treasury instead said it would continue "enhanced engagement" with Vietnam and Switzerland and begin similar talks with Taiwan, which includes urging the trading partners to address undervaluation of their currencies. There is no fixed duration for how long such talks can go without a resolution. Mark Sobel, the chairman of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, said the Biden administration was wise to take a more nuanced approach. He noted that Switzerland faced unusual monetary policy and safe-haven challenges and that Vietnam's foreign exchange reserves had been low when it received the manipulator label last year. A government can suppress the value of its currency by selling it in foreign exchange markets and stockpiling dollars. Moreover, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea have traditionally been even worse offenders than Switzerland and Vietnam, according to Sobel, although the United States has avoided calling them out for it. "I think the new Treasury team is more willing to recognize that the relative policy divergence between the U.S. and others is a significant factor in that," Sobel said. "I also think the Trump administration approach was much more belligerent as a general proposition." Taiwan was the 10th-largest U.S. trading partner in 2019, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Vietnam was the 13th largest and Switzerland the 16th. While the United States has been deepening ties with Taiwan as part of its effort to confront China, the Biden administration is also calling for a major investment in America's semiconductor industry to reduce the nation's reliance on imports from Taiwan and other countries. The Treasury report said that Taiwan's central bank "continues to actively intervene in the foreign exchange market" and that "less formal exchange rate management practices" had prevented the Taiwanese dollar from fully reflecting macroeconomic fundamentals. Currency analysts say they have been expecting the Biden administration to put more pressure on Taiwan to change its foreign exchange practices for some time. The Council on Foreign Relations reported in 2019 that Taiwan was hiding $130 billion in reserves to mask its currency interventions and that the case for naming it a manipulator was stronger than the case for naming China. The Treasury Department did not label China a currency manipulator either, instead urging it to improve transparency over its foreign exchange practices. Treasury kept China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand on its currency monitoring list, and added Ireland and Mexico. So, we will see. Currency manipulation is difficult to prove especially as volatile economic forces cause fluctuations in many situations. Still, relationships among currencies are extremely important and should be watched closely by government officials and investors alike as markets evolve, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


Nigeria To Halt Foreign Currency For Sugar, Wheat Importers The Nigerian central bank said on social media Friday that the country will no longer provide foreign currency to importers of sugar and wheat as it tries to conserve dollar reserves. "Sugar and wheat to go into our FX restriction list. We must work together to produce these items in Nigeria rather than import them," the central bank said in a tweet, according to Reuters. The mention of the FX restriction list refers to an action in 2015 which they restricted foreign exchange access for 41 items that could be produced locally and they have added products to that list over time. However, they have altered the policy at times. They banned access to foreign exchange for dairy imports and ordered lenders to stop offering credit to milk importers in a bid to spur domestic production. However, they later lifted the foreign exchange restrictions for six firms to import milk after businesses complained. USDA export sales data shows that Nigeria has been either the second or third largest importer of U.S. wheat since the 2015-16 marketing year, taking in anywhere from 836,200 metric tons to 1.09 million metric tons. Through the week ended April 8, U.S. wheat export commitments to Nigeria total 1.39 mmt, with only 250,000 mt of that business yet to be shipped. For 2021-22, Nigeria has booked 168,000 mt of U.S. wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


USTR Tai, Rep. Brady Deliver Two Diverging Trade Views Trade was in focus Thursday as U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai delivered remarks on trade to two different groups, and the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady, R-Texas, also offered up his views on trade issues, with the two focusing on different areas. Tai spoke to the Center for American Progress and laid out a view that climate has to become a component in global trade policy. "For too long, the traditional trade community has resisted the view that trade policy is a legitimate tool in helping to solve the climate crisis," Tai remarked. "That dated line of thinking only perpetuates the chasm that exists between the lived experiences -- and expectations -- of real people on the one hand, and trade experts on the other." She said the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) should serve as a template ahead even as she called it a "glaring omission" in the trade deal she helped move through Congress that it does not explicitly mention climate change. Meanwhile, Brady told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the U.S. needs to get off the sidelines on trade, a reference to the Biden administration signaling they are not focused on negotiating new trade deals. "I believe the first step is to renew without delay Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which for all practical purposes, has already expired. Every president of any party should have this important tool," Brady said. He chided the administration for not giving any indication of completing trade negotiations started under the Trump administration with the UK, Kenya and Japan. He also criticized the administration for as of yet not asking Congress to renew TPA, which officials like USDA's Vilsack have said is coming. The global minimum tax proposal floated by the Biden administration was also rejected by Brady. "There is a lot of concern on Capitol Hill that we will be party to negotiations that ultimately are a revenue grab on American companies, but more importantly would surrender America's tax base to our foreign global competitors," Brady said.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts to start off the new week and will pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m., followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Spring snow is in store Monday for the north-central Plains and portions of the western Midwest. Other crop areas will be mainly dry. The snow is an indicator of a strong cold wave which brings a freeze threat to the southern Plains and Midwest Tuesday. Freezing temperatures are threatening for winter wheat and emerged corn.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


U.S. Drought Monitor: Tale of Two Regions The U.S. Drought Monitor shows a tale of two regions—the East and the West. The Western U.S., in the latest Drought Monitor released Thursday, shows much of the region in drought categories, with several areas classified in extreme or exceptional drought, the two most severe categories. Comparatively, the Eastern U.S. is mostly drought-free from the Eastern seaboard to the Central Plains. Drawing a line from the eastern border of Texas to the North is where much of the trouble begins. Having missed out on rainfall, conditions continued to deteriorate in south-central Oklahoma and in North, South and West Texas. Meanwhile, much of the West remained dry. Where precipitation did fall, in the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies, it either missed the drought-inflicted areas or wasn’t enough to overcome shortages. Decreases in water allocation and reduced or negligible forage are causing livestock producers to respond by culling and selling herds. Fire crews are also arriving in California earlier than normal. ************************************************************************************ KC Fed: Farm Lending Remains Muted in Early 2021 Farm loan demand remained muted at commercial banks in the first quarter of 2021. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank reports that a reduction in the volume of operating loans led to an overall decline in total non-real estate lending. Financing activity also declined more notably at banks with relatively large farm loan portfolios, while lending was more stable among small and mid-size lenders. The KC Fed says factors specific to the pandemic in 2020 likely contributed to the reduced lending activity as the year progressed. Substantial government aid through various programs in 2020 provided financial support. In addition, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program accounted for a sizable share of loans reported, and likely displaced a portion of typical financing needs. Despite some challenges for cattle producers, financial conditions in agriculture remain favorable. The outlook for 2021 remained significantly improved from recent years, but rising input costs could also weigh on profit margins in the months ahead. ************************************************************************************ Grilling Season Rally Progressing Higher than Normal This year’s grilling season rally is higher than normal, fueled by vaccine availability, stimulus checks and the opening of ballparks. Cattle market analyst Ed Czerwien writes in Cattle Business Weekly the daily spot Choice box beef cutout ended last week, April 9, at $272.17, which was $19.32 higher compared to the previous Friday. Last year it was $223.93 on the same Friday, which was $6.51 lower, after jumping higher during the panic retail buying amid the coronavirus pandemic last year. However, last year then skyrocketed much higher during the packing plant shutdowns, topping out at $475.00 in early May. Last week, sales totaled 6,865 loads sold for the week, 153 loads higher than the previous week. Exports were reported at 956 loads which was good, but 116 loads lower compared to the previous week and about 800 lower than two weeks ago, which is normal when prices skyrocket higher. ************************************************************************************ NCBA Endorses House Companion of HAULS Act The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association just endorsed the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety, or HAULS Act of 2021. Introduced in the House of Representatives by Tennessee Republican John Rose and Democrat Darren Soto of Florida, NCBA says the bipartisan bill would deliver much-needed flexibility for livestock haulers. The House bill introduced this week is a companion to a bill introduced in the Senate last month. NCBA President Jerry Bohn says of the legislation, “Livestock haulers don’t need more regulatory hoops to jump through – they need the freedom and flexibility to continue transporting animals safely and humanely.” Current hours-of-service rules allow for 11 hours of drive time, 14 hours of on-duty time, and then require ten consecutive hours of rest. However, when transporting livestock, there is a need for further flexibility beyond the current hours-of-service. The HAULS Act would add a 150 air-mile radius exemption under hours-of-service regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities. ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends Comment for Proposed Revisions to Conservation Practice Standards The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently extended the deadline for public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards. The proposed revisions were published March 9 in the Federal Register with comments originally due April 8. Comments will now be due April 22. NRCS is encouraging agricultural producers, landowners, organizations, Tribes and others that use its conservation practices to comment on the revised conservation practice standards. The proposed revisions to 23 conservation practice standards are available on the Federal Register website. The 2018 farm bill required NRCS to review all 169 existing national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies to help the nation’s farmers and ranchers better protect natural resources. In 2020, 57 conservation practice standards were updated after public review and are available on nrcs.usda.gov. NRCS’s conservation practices offer guidelines for planning, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices nationwide. ************************************************************************************ Fertilizer Institute Announces New Tools to Better Understand Crop Nutrition The Fertilizer Institute recently announced two new updates to crop nutrient use tools. The tools provide the industry with scientifically backed data to better track nutrient use and nutrient balances across the United States. Working together, the Nutrient Use Geographic Information System and the Soil Test Summary are an index of performance, both agronomic and environmental. The tools indicate how well a cropping system uses crop nutrients. The two platforms can help provide an estimate of nutrient deficiencies and nutrients susceptible to loss, providing the fertilizer industry and farmers with insight into improving nutrient use efficiency and nutrient balance. Corey Rosenbusch, TFI President and CEO, says data from the tools position the organization "to collaborate with partners and soil testing labs to aggregate and analyze this information for our members and stakeholders." Both NuGIS and the Soil Test Summary are collaborations between TFI, the Foundation for Agronomic Research, and Plant Nutrition Canada. You can access both tools online at www.tfi.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Slowing Climate Change a Challenge for Biden Foreign Policy The press is widely reporting this week that the Biden administration is working to make a splash about climate change in the coming days. For example, Bloomberg says John Kerry "has been flying around the world trying to get some of the biggest polluters to step up their fight against climate change in time for a White House Earth Day summit on April 22." The report indicates that the April goal could turn out to be a disappointment. Kerry, the president's climate envoy, has been meeting with diplomats to reestablish America as a leader on global climate action after four years of backtracking under former President Donald Trump, Bloomberg says. "That means setting an ambitious 2030 emissions-reduction target and then cajoling others to strengthen their goals." There may be a problem overcoming the world's mistrust, Bloomberg thinks, "since the U.S. reneged on its climate promises before." "They've clearly been looking to try to encourage other countries to increase their ambition, but I don't think this is the date," said Pete Ogden, who served in the Obama administration and is now vice president for energy, climate and the environment at the United Nations Foundation. "I do not expect that everything will be on a glide path to 1.5 (Celsius) degrees," he said. The Paris Agreement strives to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, the limit scientists say is needed to avoid the worst effects of global warming. To get there the world will have to zero out greenhouse gases emissions by 2050, a timeline that will only be achieved if countries step up their climate action significantly. In its efforts to build deals by Earth Day, the administration is reporting favorable results for some close allies, but building agreements with powers like China, Brazil and India is proving difficult. The New York Times says the administration is nearing agreements with Japan and Canada to bolster carbon emission reduction targets ahead of a closely watched summit of global leaders on Earth Day, April 22. It says that "in the latest sign of how difficult it will be for President Biden to make climate change a core part of his foreign policy, similar agreements are also needed with China, India and Brazil, economic powerhouses that together produce more than a third of global emissions, and which remain elusive." The cooperation of China, the world's largest emitter of climate-changing pollution, is vital to slowing global warming--but Beijing is also Washington's biggest rival on the world stage, the Times notes. With Brazil, the Biden administration's efforts to negotiate an Amazon rainforest protection plan with conservative president, Jair Bolsonaro, have bitterly divided environmental advocates, given the Bolsonaro administration's dismal environmental record. And in India, where Kerry recently wrapped up three days of negotiations that did not yield any specific promise to strengthen New Delhi's climate ambition, the administration must weigh its need for cooperation with its concerns over human rights, the Times says. Indian leaders, meantime, have been unsettled by pressure to deliver an announcement in time for the administration's summit after spending the past four years working with a U.S. administration that abandoned the rest of the world's efforts to tackle global warming. "Maybe there's a little bit of time lag that will go into building that trust and relationship back," said Aarti Khosla, director of Climate Trends, a climate change nonprofit based in New Delhi. The focal point of the Leaders' Summit on Climate will be the Biden administration's plan to cut American emissions by 2030, and how it can overcome fierce Republican opposition. The ambitions and practicality of that target could determine the Biden administration's success in convincing other nations to do more than they have already pledged. "Summitry is theater, and it can be extremely impactful if there is a big centerpiece," said Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a climate adviser for the United Nations Secretary General. "That centerpiece is the U.S. plan." Publicly, the Biden administration has tried to dampen expectations that other countries will make major announcements at the U.S. event. Behind the scenes, though, State Department diplomats have been hustling to prod allies into doing just that. Kerry, in a statement, declined to specifically address the likelihood of other countries joining the United States in big announcements, saying the summit "will be a chance for major economies and other countries to work together at the highest possible levels to address the climate crisis." U.S. progress toward new agreements with some industrialized countries in less than three months is a testament to the climate diplomacy that Kerry has conducted, the Times says. He has traveled to six countries and held what aides described as dozens of video conferences and calls each week since January. Yoshihide Suga, the prime minister of Japan, is expected to announce a new emissions target in the range of 50 percent below 2013 levels by 2030 in the near future. The United States and Japan also have been discussing new restrictions on coal financing, though an announcement on that remains unclear. A major South Korean news outlet, the Maeil Business Newspaper, reported this week that South Korean leaders were poised to announce an overseas coal financing moratorium. And Canada, which already has signed a strong bilateral agreement with the United States on climate change, has said it will announce stronger targets at the summit. So, we will see. Certainly, climate change agreements are a central part if the administration's goals and producers should watch the details of these efforts very closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


USDA's NASS Undertaking Major Review of Grain Stocks Report USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is undertaking a “deep dive” on the policies and procedures the agency uses to prepare its Grain Stocks report, Lance Honig, head of the NASS crops branch, said during the first day of a virtual data users meeting. Sampling methods, questionnaires used to gather data and the processing of that information will be the focus. Findings of the review and recommendations are due by September 30, he noted. Honig acknowledged questions that have arisen over the Grain Stocks report in particular, where revisions to prior stocks figures have caused market reactions. Honig insisted that NASS has not altered its revision policy and said most of the adjustments on prior numbers were from late or updated reports from commercial grain storage firms. Honig told IHS Markit that the late reports are a combination typically of ones that come in after the deadline for the prior quarter or are corrected reports from the prior quarter and those can come into the agency at any time. Any changes recommended would not be put in place until after October 1, with any changes that are linked to manuals or training documents to be implemented immediately. He also pointed out during the data users meeting that that in the quarterly stocks data there is also an element of forecasting that takes place relative to imports, exports, food and industrial use, another factor that can produce revisions once final data in those areas for the quarter is available.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


Still More Questions Than Answers On Coming Ag Climate Efforts USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack fielded several questions on climate change and coming policy plans from the Biden administration relative to agriculture as he testified on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget plans for his agency. While the details of the major portion of the budget are yet to be released, Vilsack addressed questions on the proposed funding increase for USDA climate hubs. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., raised comments by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates that consumers in rich countries should be eating meat alternatives, something Fortenberry said would negatively impact his state and its cattle industry. Asked if he agreed with Gates' comments, Vilsack stated that he believes farmers are "great stewards" and that they will "embrace climate smart agriculture practices" and animal stewardship activities "and be able to allow us to message the ability and importance of animal protein production." He also said he did not favor barring certain technologies and expressed support for methane-reducing technologies and the ability to capture methane from cows could be important tools. There was little fresh information offered on the administration's plans for a carbon bank or how they intend to create climate programs for crop farmers.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, a report on U.S. housing starts for March will be released, followed by the University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment at 9 a.m. Traders will keep a close watch on the latest weather forecasts as we head into the weekend. Any export sales news will also get attention as USDA has not had a U.S. corn sale announced in April yet. Weather Rain and snow are in store for most of the Plains Friday. Amounts will be light to moderate in the southern Plains and light in the northern Plains. Southern Plains crop areas will have favorable moisture, with no more than slight drought easing in the northern Plains. We'll also see light rain in the Delta and Deep South along with the Great Lakes. A notable cooling trend will spread farther south as well. Meanwhile, dry and very warm conditions will stress northwest crop areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


USDA Cancels Farmers to Family Food Box Program Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told House lawmakers Wednesday the Department of Agriculture is ending the Farmers to Families Food Box program. Representative David Valadao, a California Republican, stated, “although it wasn’t a perfect program, this program provided families with healthy, nutritious food items grown here in the U.S.,” asking Vilsack what USDA will do next. Vilsack says USDA will continue to provide healthy food, but doing so through the most efficient system USDA has. Vilsack responded, “A lot of problems with it, Representative, a lot of problems,” regarding the cancellation during a House Ag Appropriations Committee hearing. Vilsack told lawmakers USDA will take the best of the program, “and incorporate it into our traditional regular programs that are very efficient of food distribution.” USDA announced new pandemic aid programs Monday to help make up for the Farmers to Families Food Box program. The program purchased U.S. commodities and food for distribution to the public. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Further Pandemic Aid The Department of Agriculture this week announced the availability of more than $330 million as part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers program. The funding includes $169.9 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, $75 million for Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program grantees and approximately $80 million in payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton. The funding will aid in developing new markets for U.S. agricultural products, expand the specialty crop food sector, and the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers. USDA also announced plans for the Dairy Donation Program as established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. USDA launched the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative in March with $6.5 billion in available funding to address shortfalls and disparities in how assistance was distributed in previous COVID-19 assistance packages, with a specific focus on strengthening outreach to underserved producers and communities and small and medium agricultural operations. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Outlines Top Legislative Priorities Expanding market access to Vietnam, visa reform to address a livestock agriculture labor shortage, and foreign animal disease prevention are the focus of 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 Jen Sorenson says, “Trade remains crucial to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry.” Domestic pork consumption in Vietnam is greater than 2.5 million metric tons per year, more than Mexico, where the United States exported 688,252 Metric tons, valued at $1.1 billion in 2020. Last year, U.S. pork producers only exported 25,183 metric tons to Vietnam, valued at $54 million. Additionally, NPPC says current visa programs fail to meet the workforce needs of pork producers and other year-round livestock farmers. NPPC is urging Congress to address labor reform that both opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without a cap, and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country. ************************************************************************************ Stabenow Introduces Rural Forest Markets Act Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow Wednesday introduced the bipartisan Rural Forest Markets Act. The Michigan Democrat, joined by Senate Republican Mike Braun of Indiana, introduced the bill to remove barriers for small-scale, family foresters and help them benefit from new economic opportunities through climate solutions like carbon markets. The bill is the latest bipartisan climate-smart forestry legislation to come out of the committee after the REPLANT Act was introduced last month. Stabenow says, “For too long, there have been barriers that prevent family foresters from being able to take advantage of the economic benefits of the carbon reduction efforts they’ve been doing.” As companies increasingly express interest in offsetting their footprint through carbon and other environmental markets, foresters are tapping into those opportunities and being financially rewarded for the voluntary, sustainable steps they’re taking in managing their land. The legislation provides a federal loan guarantee to support projects that help small forest owners address climate and other environmental challenges by adopting sustainable land management practices. ************************************************************************************ USAID Launchers Effort to Combat Infectious Disease threat, Antimicrobial Resistance The United States Agency for International Development has tapped a consortium led by Cargill to improve livestock management and combat the threat of diseases to both human and animal health. The five-year, $33 million Transformational Strategies for Farm Output Risk Mitigation consortium will harness innovation to sustainably improve animal health, strengthen animal agriculture production systems in Asia and Africa and enhance global health security. As a farm-based initiative, the effort will prioritize efforts to decrease the risks of antimicrobial resistance, diseases spread from animals to humans such as foodborne pathogens, anthrax and Avian and swine influenza. The group will also consider transboundary animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever. Scientists estimate that more than three out of five known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals. The effort seeks to increase the capacity of government, agribusinesses, and farmers to prevent and, if needed, identify, and quickly respond to these threats to human health. ************************************************************************************ USDA NIFA Invest $14 million in Ag Workforce Training The Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently announced more than $14 million in workforce training grants. USDA NIFA has awarded $9.4 million in funding for 19 Agricultural Workforce Training grants, and 12 awards totaling $4.8 million for rural economic development projects. The grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The Agricultural Workforce training grants will provide community, technical or junior college students the skills and tools necessary to secure industry-accepted credentials to join the workforce. NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille says, “These awards will help students earn a two-year degree or an industry-accepted credential that will create better job opportunities and fuel the talent pipeline needed in the food and agricultural sector.” NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges, and supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Recent Past Not Much Guide to Inflation The New York Times is reporting this week that keeping track of inflationary pressures is hard, and that it is important not to be fooled by reported numbers -- which are mainly backward-looking -- and "not necessarily a sign of what's ahead." For example, the Times says we could be on the "verge of a golden era for inflation nonsense," and it suggests that its start date may well turn out to have been Tuesday morning, when new data on consumer prices were released. Still, the concern is important and the Times says that the potential for misunderstanding derives from several forces crashing against one another at once. It expects that there are sure to be shortages of some goods and services as the economy creaks back to life. There are growing, valid concerns for investors and policy makers since the trillions of dollars of government stimulus dollars "could push the economy beyond its limits and create a broad-based overheating." But to be a savvy consumer of economic data, it's important to separate those potential forces from the inflation data coming right now, the article says. It believes this "tells us more about the past than the future." Don't take the backward-looking information in the new report as proof that those inflation warnings are coming true. The Consumer Price Index in March reflected a 12-month increase of 2.6%, which on its face would appear to be an uncomfortably high rate of inflation. That said, the Times notes that it had been higher than that for several 12-month periods ending in mid-2018. But March 2020 was not a normal month. The pandemic shut down huge parts of the economy virtually overnight. It would be hard for that kind of experience not to create distortions in economic data. NYT says the term for this is "base effects" and that it is the "misleading results" that can show up in year-over-year numbers when something weird happened 12 months ago. To get a better sense of true inflation trends, it helps to look at percent change in prices since February 2020, adjusted to reflect an annual rate instead of a 13-month rate. Using that measure, "we see a considerably more nuanced picture." Overall consumer price inflation is running at 2.2% -- very close to the 2% that the Federal Reserve aims for, especially considering that the CPI runs a few tenths of a percent higher than the inflation index preferred by the Fed. In the guts of the new numbers, we see how the recovery "creates distinct inflation dynamics in different parts of the economy." For example, gasoline prices are up an annualized 12.3% since February 2020 -- maybe not as dramatic as the 22.5% year-over-year price rise reported in March but still enough to suggest that people unhappy with prices at the pump have something to complain about. Specifically, in the early months of the pandemic, energy demand collapsed and drillers of oil and natural gas pulled back on exploration accordingly. Demand for gasoline, jet fuel and other petroleum products is finally rising but energy producers can't flip a switch and produce enough fuel to meet that demand overnight and are doubtless scarred by their losses last spring. Similarly, grocery prices are up substantially: an annualized 3.8% rise since February 2020, led by a 5.9% rise in the price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs. If it feels as if proteins are more expensive than before the pandemic, "you're not imagining it," the Times says. Central bankers tend to look past swings in energy and food prices which tend to fluctuate in ways that don't portend inflation across the economy. But some elements of "core" inflation are also showing odd inflation dynamics, even when corrected for base effects. Used cars and trucks, for example, are up an annualized 11% since February 2020, most likely because many people sought a way to get around besides public transport. The flip side of that is that airfares are still far below its pre-pandemic levels, down an adjusted 23.9% from February 2020. There is plenty of reason to expect that airplanes will be crowded this summer, especially on routes to leisure destinations, as a newly vaccinated population looks to stretch its wings. But prices still have not caught up to their pre-pandemic norm. Oh, and clothing is still cheaper than pre-pandemic levels as well, with a 2.7% adjusted fall in apparel prices since February 2020. The Times sees a lesson in the sharp divergences in these sectors and that it shows the importance of looking at economic data more deeply than usual in the coming months. Many of the sectors with the most extreme price effects from the pandemic bottomed out in April or May, not March -- meaning the distortions in year-over-year numbers could get even bigger over the next few months. But beyond that, with so many parts of the economy going through wrenching change, headline numbers on inflation or anything else will mean less than usual in the coming months. The Biden administration and the Federal Reserve are betting on a one-time reset, with temporary price spikes followed by a steadying of both inflation and growth in 2022. If something more pernicious arrives, it won't show up as a few weird data points in 2021, but as a broad-based surge in prices across the economy that becomes a cycle of rising prices. So, we will see. The Times warns that to understand an economy in uncharted territory, the details matter more than the headlines. This is probably good advice that should be heeded by producers as they continue to evaluate future trends, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


USDA Details Help For Cotton USDA will provide approximately $80 million in additional payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton to support textile mills impacted by the pandemic under a one-time payment program -- the Pandemic Assistance for Cotton Users (PACU) program. The payment rate will be $0.06 per pound to domestic users based on a 3-year monthly average during 2017 through 2019, covering 10 months in 2020. The program and payment formula were established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. USDA will use consumption information previously submitted to USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) by domestic cotton users as participants of the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills (EAATM) and Special Competitive Provisions for Extra Long Staple Cotton (ELS) to determine payments. The payments could start to go to domestic cotton users in mid- to late-April.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


USDA Announces Dairy Donation Effort to Start Soon Implementation of the Dairy Donation Program (DDP) as established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 to "facilitate the timely donation of dairy products to nonprofit organizations that distribute food to persons in need and prevent and minimize food waste" will be coming soon, USDA said Tuesday. USDA has provided an advance notice of minimum provisions to be included in the program to encourage the dairy industry to process and donate surplus milk supplies as it moves through the spring surplus milk production season. While noting the regulations for the effort have not been published in the Federal Register, USDA laid out minimum requirements for the program that was included in law. Those minimum requirements include: 1) a donation and distribution plan must be submitted and approved by USDA; 2) the reimbursement will be at least equivalent to the minimum classified value of milk used to make the donated product on the date of manufacturing; 3) records related to donating and receiving products must be maintained and available for review and/or audit; 4) eligibility is open to dairy farmer cooperatives and processors who "account to" a Federal milk marketing order (FMMO) and donate dairy products to any private or public nonprofit food distribution entity. The regulations for the dairy effort have also not been sent forward from USDA to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the usual interagency review.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims, U.S. retail sales for March and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The Fed's report on March industrial production is set for 8:15 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. USDA monthly outlook for Livestock, Dairy and Poultry is due out at 11 a.m., roughly the same time the National Oilseeds Processors Association will have an estimate of soybean crush for March. Weather Thursday features a spring snowstorm in portions of the western High Plains and light to moderate rain in the southwestern Plains through western and southern Texas. Rain is also in store for the Gulf Coast and the Great Lakes. Other crop areas will be dry. Much cooler air will spread throughout the central and eastern U.S. through the end of the week, slowing field work and crop progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


Ag Coalition Calls Infrastructure Proposal a Good Start The Rebuild Rural Coalition calls President Joe Biden's Infrastructure plan a good starting point for discussions with Congress. The group of more than 260 organizations representing rural communities and agriculture says in a statement, "We strongly encourage a bipartisan approach that considers the unique needs of rural infrastructure – and sets aside specific funding for rural communities." In a January letter, the coalition outlined the needs of rural America, while highlighting U.S. agriculture's ability to produce and efficiently transport products across the globe, adding, "Our deteriorating infrastructure threatens that leadership position." Beyond transportation, the coalition says other needs of rural America include locks and dams, railroads, electrical and water systems, agriculture research, broadband and healthcare and housing. The coalition says, "We hope Congress will work together to find bipartisan solutions that benefit all of America, including our rural communities.” The coalition is comprised of national agriculture and rural business groups and state Farm Bureau’s, commodity organizations, among others. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA Defend Year-Round E15 in Court Corn and biofuels groups made their arguments Tuesday in a court case for year-round E15. Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers gave oral arguments in American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers vs. EPA to the D.C. Circuit Court. Oil refiners are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019 rulemaking that paved the way for the year-round sale of E15. In a joint statement, Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA said, "Oil refiners are simply trying to reclaim more market share by blocking American drivers from year-round access” to E15. In June 2019, EPA issued its final rule extending the Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waiver to E15, and found that E15 is substantially similar to E10 certification fuel, allowing its introduction into commerce by fuel manufacturers without the need for a separate E15 waiver. The action allowed for the sale of E15 fuels year-round. Oil refiners are now challenging the rulemaking in an attempt to “undermine the expansion of biofuels in our nation’s fuel supply.” ************************************************************************************ Fertilizer Costs Shape Crop Production Expenses The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reports production costs for corn and other major commodities are shaped by fertilizer cost. From 2010 to 2019, fertilizer was a major expense in U.S. corn production, accounting for 33 to 44 percent of operating costs-a category that includes other variable expenses like seed, chemicals, fuel, and repairs. Fertilizer also comprised 16 to 24 percent of the average corn producer's total costs, which include overhead charges like land costs, machinery depreciation and farm taxes. Most U.S. corn acres are planted in April and May, and growers often purchase their inputs months in advance. Prices for fertilizer have risen since August 2020, with an even more pronounced surge starting in January 2021. USDA says farmers who made fertilizer purchases for the 2021 corn crop before this uptick may incur similar fertilizer costs to the 2019 and 2020 crops, while those who have waited may pay significantly higher costs. ************************************************************************************ March Farm Tractor Sales Show Broad Growth, Close Positive First Quarter U.S. farm tractor unit sales extended their growth streak to eleven straight months. Canada also extended its own streak with a strong month of March, according to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 84.1 percent in March compared to 2020. Meanwhile, U.S. combine sales grew 6.7 percent. For Canada, March monthly tractor and combine sales were positive across all segments. Total farm tractor sales were up 84.3 percent for March 2021. Combine sales in Canada were reported flat at 95 units sold. Curt Blades AEM, Senior Vice President of Ag Services, says, “It’s not just the length of time of this growth streak, but the size of growth that makes me feel optimistic this will continue past the 12-month mark.” A recent survey by AEM found increased customer demand has manufacturers optimistic sales will increase or remain stable, despite COVID-19 and workforce challenges in 2021. ************************************************************************************ Farmers National Company Reports Booming Land Sales The dollar volume of land sales listed and sold by Farmers National Company during the first six months of its fiscal year ending March 31 was up 56 percent over the same period last year. Farmers National Company reports sales are up 67 percent over the average of the past three years. Total acres sold to date are up 59 percent compared to last year and 26 percent over two years ago. The number of sales transactions handled saw an increase of ten percent over last year. The increase in land sales activity at Farmers National Company contrasts with what has generally been described as a slower land market that has had a steady to somewhat less amount of land for sale in most areas. While the number of auctions held by Farmers National Company during the past six months was only down two from last year, the number of private treaty land sales was up 48 percent. ************************************************************************************ FCC Looks to Consumers to Find Broadband Gaps The Federal Communications Commission wants consumers to test broadband speeds to help find broadband gaps. As part of the Commission’s Broadband Data Collection effort, the FCC is encouraging the public to download the FCC’s Speed Test app, which is currently used to collect speed test data as part of the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America program. The app provides a way for consumers to test the performance of their mobile and in-home broadband networks. In addition to showing network performance test results to the user, the app provides the test results to the FCC while protecting the privacy and confidentiality of program volunteers. The network coverage and performance information gathered from the Speed Test data will help inform the FCC’s efforts to collect more accurate and granular broadband deployment data. More information about the app is available on the FCC website. The FCC Speed Test App is available in the Google Play Store for Android devices, and in the Apple App Store for iOS devices.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Ambitious Infrastructure Efforts The Biden administration is continuing to assert that both the size and scope of its $2.25 trillion jobs plan -- as well as how to pay for it -- are up for negotiation, “setting the stage for what is likely to be months of congressional wrangling on one of the White House's chief legislative priorities,” the Washington Post reported. The paper says that a top GOP senator told President Biden on Monday that it would be "almost impossible" to win over Republicans if the plan envisions boosting the corporate tax rate, as it currently does. There is also widespread private skepticism among congressional Republicans that the White House is genuinely open to a cross-party agreement that might significantly scale back Biden's ambitions. But the president, as well as White House officials, insisted that his overtures at bipartisanship were earnest and that he would not have been spending hours meeting with Republicans otherwise. Monday's session, which a White House official said was the first of several the president Biden will host this month, marked the informal beginning of months of arm-twisting and vote haggling on Capitol Hill to line up support behind the administration's American Jobs Plan, a proposal that stretches beyond the traditional definitions of infrastructure. The plan forms the cornerstone of Biden's economic agenda and includes Democratic priorities that the White House hopes to enact before the 2022 midterms. Despite the president's stated appetite for bipartisanship, the infrastructure bill has received little interest from Republicans so far, particularly with Biden's proposal to finance it by raising taxes on corporations from the current 21% to 28%. Under former president Donald Trump, Republicans passed a bill cutting the corporate taxes from the then-rate of 35% to 21%, and few are willing to consider reversing that, even in part. "I view the 2017 tax bill as one of my signature achievements in my entire career," Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss, said. "It would be an almost impossible sell for the president to come to a bipartisan agreement that included the undoing of that signature." Biden gathered lawmakers including Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee and Wicker, her GOP counterpart. The panel plays a critical role in congressional debates on railroads and broadband Internet access, major elements of the Biden infrastructure plan. Reps. Garret Graves, R-La., and Donald Payne Jr. D-N.J. who also took part in the meeting, belong to a panel of House lawmakers considering legislation to fund and improve the nation's highways while implementing new programs to reduce carbon emissions. Other attendees at the meeting included Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Rep. David Price, D-N.C., and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. Young is the currently the longest-serving member of the House, and Biden affectionately dubbed him the "dean." "The president made a compelling case for acting big and broadly when it comes to the definition of infrastructure," Padilla said. The freshman senator, who assumed Kamala Harris's Senate seat when she was elevated to the vice presidency, said Biden's message was that simply catching up on deferred maintenance on roads and bridges would be a significant lost opportunity. Padilla also made a case that the administration could consider not paying for parts of the infrastructure and jobs plan -- echoing the view of some other Democrats -- although other attendees and people briefed on the meeting said Biden didn't appear too keen on deficit financing. The president also opposed raising gasoline taxes to finance parts of the plan, the White House later confirmed, despite suggestions from some Republicans that he consider doing so. Speaking with reporters after the session, Payne said Republicans raised many issues "with parts of the bill," including the size of the package, its policy scope and the White House's preferred means of paying for it. "The president was much more flexible than I was," Payne added. "I believe that the American Jobs Plan is a once-in-a-lifetime generational opportunity for us to modernize our airports, our roadways, our rail stations and our water infrastructure, and it's long overdue." Wicker confirmed that he and other Republicans wanted to stick with what they have described as traditional infrastructure--such as ports, rails and roads. Young agreed that lawmakers have to be cognizant about the "very definition of infrastructure." He added that he told Biden the White House should reconsider implementing an increase in the gasoline tax. The president has insisted that his outreach to Republicans is genuine, given the broad political appeal of addressing the country's infrastructure needs. But the administration has also signaled that if negotiations drag on, Democrats may decide to act on their own, as they did in approving a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in March. So, we will see. The administration's proposals appear to have considerable support, although there are major differences among key lawmakers. Certainly, these proposals are high stakes and should be watched closely as the debates continue, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


USDA Requests Comments On Extending Information Collection For Meat, Egg Product Recalls USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is requesting comments by June 14 on renewing its authority to collect information on voluntary recalls of meat, poultry, and egg products. FSIS can request firms recall meat, poultry, or egg products that have been imported or produced and are adulterated or misbranded. When making such requests, FSIS asks the recalling firm to provide basic information such as the “identity of the recalled product, the reason for the recall, and information about the distributors and retail consignees to whom the product was shipped.” Companies are required to keep this information under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act. FSIS said it has not changed its estimates on the burden of the data collection effort. The current authority to collect the information expires September 30, 2021. The request is non-controversial and the full expectation is the agency will put the extension in place before the current authority expires.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


USDA Sets April 30 Deadline For Processing QLA Applications The deadline for the Quality Loss Assistance (QLA) program was April 9, though producers in many areas across the country were unable to complete the process before that date. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set a deadline of April 30 for QLA applications on a register to be finalized and for producers to submit all their supporting documentation. County FSA offices are currently undertaking Phase I reviews of the QLA applications (determine if information provided is reasonable and adjust applications as necessary). Those Phase I reviews are to be completed by May 14. USDA at the end of March set a deadline of April 16 for all Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP-Plus) applications to be finalized and approved for payment. Plus, FSA said it would work with the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to determine if WHIP, WHIP-Plus and QLA applicants have met the requirements for the purchase of crop insurance or Noninsured Assistance Program (NAP) coverage as a condition of receiving their payment.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets USDA has yet to announce a corn export sale in April and traders will be watching for one early Wednesday. The latest weather forecasts will also get attention. The U.S. Energy Department will have its weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. CDT, including last week's ethanol production. At 1 p.m. CDT, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book will describe recent economic activity. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store for the Delta and Deep South Wednesday, slowing field work and planting. Dry conditions will cover most other crop areas. A cold pattern with some freeze threat is spreading over northern and central areas and will hinder field work and early crop growth.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


CoBank: U.S. Economy Gaining Momentum The U.S. economy continues to outperform expectations as stimulus funds are fueling robust consumer spending. Forecasts point to seven percent GDP growth for 2021, the fastest rate of expansion since 1984, according to CoBank. The transition to a less COVID-restricted world has begun. But for the economy and rural industries, CoBank says there will be no going back to pre-COVID conditions. Researchers say the focus in Washington is shifting from crisis management to building for the future, and the outcomes will reshape rural economies. Meanwhile, CoBank reports the cyclical turn in grain pricing continued during the first quarter of 2021 and has picked up further gains ahead of spring planting. Farm supply retailers are positioned to benefit from an exceptionally strong spring agronomy season, outpacing fall and spring 2020. The U.S. fuel ethanol sector has recovered, with production running near 90 percent of pre-COVID levels. And chicken, beef and pork all see strong demand and profitability. However, dairy exports are struggling, mainly due to shipping-related issues. ************************************************************************************ Farm Credit System Reviews Current Ag Economy Record agricultural exports are contributing to favorable economic conditions for the U.S. farm sector. Exports to China have risen to record levels, with increases in soybeans, corn, wheat, and cotton. High crop prices and strong producer margins are expected to bring more acreage into production, but continuing drought in much of the western United States is a concern. The Farm Credit Administration says farm sector income is expected to remain above average in 2021. Stronger market prices and receipts are expected to mostly offset the decline in government payments. Strong farmland values, especially in the Midwest, reflect current income prospects, increased interest from both farmers and investors, and low interest rates. The data was presented to the Farm Credit System last week. Despite the pandemic's shock to the U.S. economy and agriculture, the system remained safe and financially sound in 2020. The system reported strong results for the year, including robust loan growth driven by real estate lending, higher earnings, and increased capital. ************************************************************************************ Brazil Lowering Biodiesel Blend from B13 to B10 Brazil last week announced it will lower the percentage of vegetable oil blended into petroleum diesel. Brazil will reduce the blend from 13 percent, or B13, to ten percent, or B10. Brazil's government claims the change is the result of the high cost of biodiesel, citing the elevated price of domestic soybeans and soybean oil. Michael Cordonnier of Soybean and Corn Advisor Inc. writes, “The industry feels this will throw the biodiesel sector into disarray because they had already made the investments needed to increase the blend percentage to 15 percent by the year 2023, which was the stated goal of the government.” Biofuel proponents in Brazil criticized the action and asked it to be rescinded. Industry experts in Brazil estimate the announcement will reduce the use of soybean oil by 650,000 tons per year, and soybean crushing would decline by 3.25 million tons per year. Brazil has previously lowered biodiesel blends citing an insufficient supply of soybeans. ************************************************************************************ Average Hurricane Season to Feature More Storms The average hurricane season will feature more predicted storms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Beginning with this year’s hurricane season outlooks, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will use 1991-2020 as the new 30-year period of record. The updated averages for the Atlantic hurricane season have increased with 14 named storms and seven hurricanes. The average for major hurricanes, Category 3, 4 or 5, remains unchanged at three. The previous Atlantic storm averages, based on the period from 1981 to 2010, were 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. NOAA is updating the set of statistics used to determine when hurricane seasons are above-, near-, or below-average relative to the climate record. This update process occurs once every decade. The increase in the averages may be attributed to the overall improvement in observing platforms, including NOAA’s fleet of next-generation environmental satellites and continued hurricane reconnaissance. NOAA says it may also be due to the warming ocean and atmosphere, which are influenced by climate change. ************************************************************************************ Tyson Foods Unveils $425 Million Poultry Facility in Tennessee Tyson Foods last week opened the company’s new poultry complex in Humboldt, Tennessee. The $425 million project, which includes a processing plant, feed mill and hatchery, represents Tyson’s biggest investment in Tennessee. Several hundred workers have been hired so far and are being trained for the start of production later this month. The processing plant, which is expected to employ more than 1,500 people by 2023, will produce pre-packaged trays of fresh chicken for retail grocery stores nationwide beginning in late April. The payroll and payments to farmers from the new operation, along with the purchase of grain and utilities, is expected to generate an annual economic benefit to Tennessee of $150 million. The company’s Humboldt feed mill, which will supply feed for approximately 56 local poultry farmers, will employ 30 people and produce 14,000 tons of finished feed a week when production reaches full capacity. The Humboldt hatchery employs 30 workers and provides chicks for local poultry farmers who supply broiler chickens to Tyson. ************************************************************************************ Gas, Diesel Prices, Decline Slightly For the fourth straight week, the national average price of gasoline has dropped, declining 2.1 cents to $2.85 per gallon. The national average now stands 0.5 cents lower than a month ago and $1.02 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen 1.1 cents in the last week and stands at $3.07 per gallon. Gas Buddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “It has been a fairly tame last few weeks at the pump for most areas after a particularly active February and March when prices were screaming higher.” De Haan adds, for now, the risk of seeing the national average climb to $3 per gallon has been delayed by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, limiting the upside to gasoline demand. However, as the outlook improves, we still have potential to see summer gas prices at their highest levels in years. U.S. gasoline demand fell for the first time in seven weeks after a healthy Easter travel holiday boosted demand, down just shy of one percent.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Battle Over Administration Proposals Congress returns this week and the House and Senate Leadership are moving forward to begin to enact the President's long-term economic strategies built around massive infrastructure and manufacturing investments, Bloomberg is reporting this week. After first enacting a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery plan without Republican support, the Biden administration says it continues to hope to strike deals with the GOP in order to advance a multi-part plan that could total more than $3 trillion. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also is pushing for action this spring and summer on President Joe Biden's noneconomic domestic priorities that the House has already passed, including ambitious changes to federal laws on voting, civil rights, health care, and gun ownership rules -- among others. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is planning votes on legislation on worker protections and immigration. At the same time, Democrats say they are weighing different strategies to push the president's agenda, including use of budget rules to enact bills with simple majorities -- and possibly upending the long-standing Senate filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to pass most bills. But bipartisan deals still could be in the offing, as Biden seeks at least 10 Republicans to join Democrats in the evenly split 50-50 Senate, Bloomberg thinks. President Biden says he wants to boost the American economy and facilitate competition with China using his $2.25 trillion infrastructure and public works package. The investments included would include a “wide variety of projects,” from traditional spending on roads and bridges, to funds aimed at improving care for the elderly and people with disabilities. However, Bloomberg thinks that GOP opposition could drive Democrats to turn to budget reconciliation once again to sidestep a potential filibuster, which would require a supermajority of 60 senators to break. The plan includes about $620 billion for transportation and resilience; $580 billion for workforce development, research, and manufacturing; $400 billion for elder and disability care; and $650 billion for initiatives aimed at better quality of life at home, including lead-free pipes, broadband, and housing. The President is intensifying his links both Republican and Democratic members of Congress through numerous meetings on political support for a broad range of proposals. In addition, a consortium of chief executive officers and other leaders of major U.S. corporations held an hour-long Zoom call on Saturday to discuss ways to push for greater voting access amid new restrictions enacted or pending in Georgia, Texas and other states. Among the options being considered are re-evaluations of donations to candidates supporting restrictions on voter access and reconsidering investments in states that act upon such proposals, according to the non-profit Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, which co-hosted the meeting with Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale School of Management professor, and the Leadership Now Project. In addition, tensions within Biden's Democratic leadership have intensified, Bloomberg says. For example, leading progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., had a choice after they won election in 2018 and expanded their ranks in 2020: challenge Democratic leaders from the sidelines, or “get in the game.” Now Bloomberg says their decision to play by Congress' rules is giving them enhanced clout in a government under unified control of the new administration. The report notes that members of Ocasio-Cortez's so-called Squad are taking leadership roles in the House and building experience on Capitol Hill, turning them into not just ideological purists but also strategic legislators working toward more liberal dreams like a $15 federal minimum wage and a permanent child tax credit within reach. In the meantime, President Biden created a 36-member bipartisan commission to study potential changes to the U.S. Supreme Court, fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail. The Presidential Commission will look at “the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform,” the White House said on Friday. The departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency would all get budget hikes under Biden's $1.5 trillion discretionary spending request to Congress on Friday. The administration says it intends to make racial equity one of its top priorities and said it will have officials embedded across all federal agencies. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reported last week that the U.S. economy was at an “inflection point” with stronger growth and hiring ahead thanks to rising vaccinations and powerful policy support -- but that COVID-19 remains a threat. “We feel like we're at a place where the economy is about to start growing much more quickly and job creation coming in much more quickly,” Powell told CBS on Wednesday. Reports indicate that highlights a trend in which vaccination requirements are fast becoming facts of life in the U.S. as additional universities and many other institutions implement new requirements. It notes that Brown, Notre Dame, and Rutgers are among universities warning students and staff they'll need shots in order to return to campus this fall. Some sports teams are demanding proof of vaccination or a negative test from fans as arenas reopen. A Houston hospital chain recently ordered its 26,000 employees to get vaccinated; moves that imply new controversies for the future. So, we will see. These are trends producers should watch closely as highly controversial debates continue to emerge -- and as anti-COVID efforts intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


US-Mexico Potato Trade Situation Still Percolating With Postponement Of Action By Mexican Supreme Court The National Potato Council (NPC) said the Mexican Supreme Court's decision last week to postpone action on cases that would allow full importation of fresh U.S. potatoes appears rooted in political interference by the Mexico potato industry. NPC said the Mexican news outlet Reforma reported that CONPAPA, a group representing Mexico's potato producers, asked the president to direct the head of the Ministry of Agriculture to withdraw its appeal in the lawsuits, which would end the legal process. “Given that the cartel Wednesday morning requested that the government drop these cases, and immediately after the court again delayed their decision, it is reasonable to assume that the legal process in Mexico is impaired by politics,” NPC CEO Kam Quarles said. “Therefore, in order to enforce our rights, it appears the USMCA [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement] is the best option. Once we successfully prove our case there, it will allow the U.S. to attach retaliatory tariffs to Mexican agricultural products such as avocados until they provide the access we are due.” The matter is one of the early friction points between the U.S. and Mexico under USMCA, with NPC and lawmakers pushing for action on the situation from the Biden administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


Sen. Thune Expects CFAP, WHIP-Plus Payments 'Soon' Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said last week that the next round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments should be coming soon. Getting the payments restarted that were put on hold by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is a “top priority” for him, Thune said. As for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP-Plus), Thune noted that with the signup deadline April 9, that should mean payments will start to flow. Once the total cost is known, that will determine if more money will be added. He also said that when 2019-crop payments are finished, that's when they'll figure out if there will be a WHIP+ for 2020-crop.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will release the consumer price index for March at 7:30 a.m. CDT, the only official report of the day. Traders will keep a close watch on the latest weather forecasts and on any export sales news that emerges. Weather Periods of snow will continue in the far northern Plains Tuesday. Moisture from the snow offers slight relief from extreme drought. We'll also see scattered rain showers in the western and southern Plains and southern Midwest which will disrupt spring field work. Temperatures are on a notable cooling trend throughout the central U.S. this week, slowing planting and crop development.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


February Red Meat Exports Trail 2020; Outlook Still Strong in 2021 U.S. beef and pork exports in February remained behind the rapid pace set in early 2020. However, USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation shows exports were consistent with USMEF’s February projections. The federation still expects 2021 beef exports to increase substantially year-over-year, while pork exports are projected should narrowly surpass the 2020 record. Beef exports totaled 103,493 metric tons in February, down eight percent from a year ago and valued at $669.5 million. Through February, beef exports trailed last year’s pace by five percent at 208,540 metric tons. Beef exports to South Korea are off to a strong start in 2021, and demand for U.S. beef continues to grow in China. February pork exports were down 12 percent compared to last year at 239,240 metric tons, valued at $629.4 million. Through February, pork exports were 11 percent lower than last year’s pace. Pork exports set new records in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. February exports of U.S. lamb, helped by larger variety meat shipments to Mexico, Canada, and Hong Kong, increased 142 percent from last year to 1,152 metric tons, with the value up 19 percent to $1.6 million. ********************************************************************************************** International Trade Commission Hears Testimony on Cucumbers, Squash The U.S. International Trade Commission hosted an all-day virtual hearing last week on its investigation into unfair trade practices by foreign exporters on cucumber and squash imports. The Packer Dot Com says the ITC expects to send the results of its investigation to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office no later than December 7 of this year. Florida Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried (Freed) testified at the hearing and talked about the injury to Florida’s $90.9 million cucumber and $35.4 million squash industries caused by imports. Since 2015, Fried says a surge in imports of fresh and chilled cucumbers and squash, predominantly from Mexico, has caused an estimated loss of 2,721 jobs, lost cash receipts worth $944 million, and $1.85 billion in a negative impact on Florida’s domestic produce growers. “I hope that you will employ all the tools at your disposal to provide equity and fairness for American farmers,” Fried says. Lace Jungmeier, President of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, says labor shortages, rather than damage from imports, are what’s hurting U.S. growers. He also says Mexico isn’t to blame because of severe weather that’s caused damage to Florida producers. ********************************************************************************************** Biden Budget Proposals Invest Money in Rural Communities The Biden Administration submitted the president’s budget priorities for discretionary spending during the fiscal year 2022. The funding request advances key USDA priorities like economic development and growth in rural America, supporting American agriculture, aiding in the approach to mitigating climate change, and supporting a strong safety net to address hunger and food insecurity. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “The President’s budget provides the resources to build back better, stronger, and more resilient and equitably than ever before.” The president’s discretionary request provides an increase of $65 million over the 2021 enacted level for the Rural e-Connectivity Program “Reconnect,” which provides grants and loans to deploy broadband in underserved areas. Biden’s request also provides $4 billion above the 2021 enacted level for USDA’s research, education, and outreach programs. The request also asks for almost $1.7 billion for high-priority hazardous fuels and forest resilience projects to combat the growing threat of wildfires. The 2022 discretionary request also provides $6.7 billion for critical nutrition programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, And Children, or WIC (wick). ********************************************************************************************** April WASDE Shows Lower Corn and Higher Wheat Ending Stocks The April World Ag Supply and Demand Estimate report from USDA calls for lower corn and higher wheat stocks in the U.S. at the end of the marketing year. The outlook for wheat calls for lower supplies, reduced domestic use, unchanged exports, and higher ending stocks. Wheat supplies are lowered to 110 million bushels because of lower-than-expected imports, while feed and residual use were lowered by 25 million bushels. Projected ending stocks were raised to 852 million bushels but are still 17 percent lower than last year. The season-average farm price is unchanged at $5 per bushel. The corn outlook calls for greater feed and residual use, increased corn use for ethanol, larger exports, and lower ending stocks. Exports increased by 75 million bushels, based on the March export inspection data that hit the highest total set since November of 1989. The season-average farm price is unchanged at $4.30 a bushel. Supply and use changes for soybeans include higher exports, lower crush, residual use, and seed use. Soybean ending stocks are predicted to be 120 million bushels, unchanged from the previous forecast. The season-average soybean price is up 10 cents to $11.25 per bushel. *********************************************************************************************** Export Sales of Wheat, Soybeans Hit Marketing-Year Low Points The USDA says export sales of soybeans and wheat dropped to marketing-year lows in the seven days ending on April 1, while corn sales were down slightly during the same period. Soybean sales to overseas buyers in the 2020-2021 marketing year that ends on August 31 registered a net loss of 92,500 metric tons after a large cancellation occurred. Egypt was the biggest buyer at 66,200 metric tons, while Japan took in just shy of 41,000. China canceled shipments totaling more than 216,000 metric tons, resulting in a net loss for the week. Soybean sales for delivery in the next marketing year that starts on September 1 totaled 338,600 tons as China bought 264,000 tons from U.S. inventories. Wheat sales finished the week at 82,000 metric tons, also the lowest point of the marketing year. That’s 67 percent lower than the previous week and down 75 percent from the four-week average. Corn sales last week hit 757,000 metric tons, a five percent drop from the previous week and 54 percent lower than the prior four-week average. Japan was the top corn buyer by bringing in 285,300 metric tons. ********************************************************************************************** Consumers Feel Agriculture Can Positively Impact Climate Change American consumers feel agriculture can be part of the solution to climate change rather than the problem. A new Cargill Feed4Thought Survey says those who indicated climate change is important to them also rate livestock and agriculture lowest in negative impact compared to the other industries regarded as significant contributors. Over one-third of the respondents expressed confidence in the industry’s ability to limit its contributions to climate change. “Farmers are critical to feeding the world sustainably and responsibly,” says Ruth Kimmelshue, chief of Cargill’s animal nutrition and health business. “With a growing population and rising consumer interest in climate change, they are also part of the solution to address some of the toughest environmental challenges.” Survey responses came from consumers in the U.S., France, South Korea, and Brazil. Participants say transportation and deforestation were ranked as the greatest contributors to climate change. Fifty-nine percent of respondents say that federal and national governments bear the highest responsibility for addressing climate change. Fifty-seven percent said companies involved in beef production, and 50 percent say cattle farmers are responsible for reducing the impact of livestock. “Sustainability in our food systems starts with the dedication of farmers,” Cargill says in a news release.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Administration's First Budget Request President Joe Biden's budget proposal on Friday kicked off what's likely to be a long, drawn-out fight in Congress over how to fund the federal government, the Hill said this weekend. The request calls for annual discretionary spending of $1.52 trillion. That includes a 15.7% increase in domestic spending and a 1.7% boost in defense. Although the plan contained no detail on taxes or mandatory spending programs, as well as the usual 10-year projection for spending and revenues, it nonetheless offers valuable insights into Biden's priorities, the Hill said. The proposal “affirmed” the administration's embrace of government spending and follows recent big proposals with a “subsequent measures focused on highly visible issues like child care and college tuition.” The request, up $118 billion from current levels, is 25% higher than discretionary spending was at the end of the Obama administration. The administration is making the argument that the pendulum has swung too far toward austerity over the years, resulting in a lack of resources that “exacerbated inequality, left the country's infrastructure in disrepair, created educational stagnation and allowed social ills to fester.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that “we are inheriting a legacy of chronic underinvestment, in our view, in priorities that are vital to our long-term success and our ability to confront the challenges before us, so the president is focused on reversing this trend and reinvesting in the foundations of our strength.” The Hill said the proposal highlighted the fact that the defense budget is still a “sacred cow.” Budget watchers had expected Biden to keep defense spending flat – and progressives sought a 10% cut – but the proposal surprised both by calling for increases in Pentagon spending. It would add $12.3 billion to defense, a 1.7% increase, which in a typical year would just keep pace with inflation. At a total of $753 billion, it leaves in place significant increases to defense spending that former President Trump set in motion. But even the unexpected increase was not enough for some. A joint statement by top Republicans, including those on defense and budget committees in the Senate, characterized the 1.7% increase as a virtual cut and accused Biden of ceding ground to China and Russia – and sending a terrible signal not only to our adversaries in Beijing and Moscow, but also to our allies and partners.” In one important way, the administration's budget proposal matched the one Trump put out during his first months in office: it was more emaciated than skinny due to its limited details. Like Trump, Biden only released a very limited set of specifics and sidestepped questions about the long-term budget effects. The White House said a full proposal is due later this spring. Only then will it become clear how the administration intends to pay for the new spending, whether there is a plan to lower the deficit and how it intends to deal with mandatory programs. That spending, which includes programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a slew of anti-poverty programs such as nutritional assistance, accounts for about two-thirds of annual government spending. They are far more significant drivers of spending and deficits than the discretionary side of the ledger this proposal covered. “We can't truly evaluate the president's agenda until we know how he'll address the other two-thirds of the budget and what he will do on the other side of the ledger with taxes,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “We hope the full budget plan will include policies to not only offset new spending, but secure the trust funds and improve the country's long-term fiscal path,” MacGuineas said. But even the focus on spending without discussion of taxes, deficits or the country's fiscal outlook is a reminder that the issue of debt may have lost some of its political sway over both politicians and voters. Whereas President Trump famously promised to put “America First” in his policy agenda, Biden's budget request of $63.5 billion for the State Department and international programs, a 12% increase over current levels, reflects his view that some of the biggest problems the country faces require global cooperation, The Hill said. He plans to quadruple the funding for international climate programs and is requesting a four-year commitment of $4 billion to stabilize Central America, home to many of the migrants arriving at the southern border. He also would boost the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget to $8.7 billion, from $7.9 billion, with a focus on international preparedness to help tackle future pandemics. The budget would fully fund U.S. commitments to United Nations peacekeeping, including payments missed under the Trump administration. International programs at the Treasury Department would get a 73% boost, just as Secretary Janet Yellen is calling for a summer agreement on a global minimum tax to clamp down on tax avoidance by multinational corporations. The Hill notes that while presidential budget requests shape the debate around annual spending, Congress usually has its own ideas--and that those matter most since lawmakers have the power of the purse. So, we will see. The new administration's proposal suggests that it intends to work for significant changes, shifts that producers should watch closely as the new and modified policies are debated and implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


Senate Approach To Counter China Is Taking Shape A bipartisan bill was introduced directing the U.S. government to adopt a policy of “strategic competition” with China to “protect and promote our vital interests and values.” The 283-page bill crafted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is part of a push by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to vote this spring on a broad, bipartisan package designed to confront China's economic and geopolitical power. The measure seeks infrastructure investment and technology developments to compete with China on global supply chains, science and technology. Besides the legislation introduced yesterday, the centerpiece of Schumer's broader plan is the Endless Frontier Act, a bill to boost U.S. semiconductor development. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on that proposal on April 14. The Foreign Relations panel is scheduled to act on its bill the same day.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


Manchin Won't Support Ending, Modifying Filibuster Democratic hopes that they could convince Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to back modifying or ending the filibuster have again had their hopes dashed as the key senator last week again said he will not back such changes. "There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster," Manchin wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday night. He described the stand as sticking up for small and rural states and said that only through compromise between Republicans and Democrats would the Washington paralysis end. The means Democrats and the Biden White House will have to compromise to get the 60 votes they need on must-pass bills not tied to reconciliation.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will start the new week poring over the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if there are any new export sales announced. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m., followed by a budget report for March from the U.S. Treasury at 1 p.m. USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. will have planting progress information and an update of winter wheat conditions. Weather Rain and snow are in store for the northern Plains and northern Midwest Monday, offering some easing of extreme drought conditions. Other crop areas will be mainly dry. Portions of the southern Plains and southern Midwest have light precipitation in store Monday evening.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


World Food Price Index Rises for Tenth-Straight Month World food prices rose for the tenth-consecutive month in March, rising to their highest level since June of 2014. Reuters says the climb got sparked by costs rising in the vegetable oils, meat, and dairy indices. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat, and sugar. The index averaged 118.5 points in March, compared to 116.1 in February. The FAO says worldwide cereal harvests are on course to hit an annual record in 2020, with early indications for 2021 pointing to another production increase. The vegetable oil price index jumped eight percent to its highest level since 2011. Dairy prices also climbed for the tenth straight month, rising almost four percent and driven by a surge of imports in Asia. The meat index rose 2.3 percent but was still slightly down on a year-to-year basis. Poultry and pig prices increased in part because of the fast pace of imports in Asian countries, mainly China. Sugar prices dropped four percent month on month but were still 30 percent higher during the year. The drop in March was driven by prospects of large sugar exports from India. ********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Hits Highest Point Since December Ethanol output jumped to its highest level in more than three months while inventories dropped again. The Energy Information Administration report says production rose to 975,000 barrels a day, on average, in the week ending on April 2. That production level rose from 965,000 barrels a day the week before and was the highest output level since the week that ended on December 18. The Midwest, by far the highest producing region in the U.S., saw production rise to an average of 929,000 barrels a day. Government data showed that was up from 917,000 barrels a day the previous week and was the largest output since mid-December of last year. East Coast production was unchanged at 12,000 barrels a day, and both the Rocky Mountain and West Coast output remained steady at 9,000 barrels a day. The Gulf Coast region was the only area that dropped production, falling to 16,000 barrels a day from 18,000 the previous week. Ethanol inventories dropped to their lowest level in four months. Biofuel stockpiles fell to 20.642 million barrels in the seven days ending on April 2, the lowest level since November 13. ********************************************************************************************** Petition Asks EPA to Regulate Large Livestock Farms Two dozen environmental and consumer groups are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate large dairy and hog farms under federal air pollution laws. Groups like the Sierra Club and the Government Accountability Project say in their petition that “The EPA has the duty and authority to regulate these methane super-emitters under the Clean Air Act as part of the administration’s larger strategy to prevent catastrophic and irreversible climate change.” A Successful Farming article says the petition points out that the EPA could use the same section of the Clean Air Act to set air pollution limits on industrial hog and dairy farms that it used to propose carbon emission limits on power plants. The petition calls for regulations on operations with at least 500 cows or 1,000 hogs in place without access to pasture. The groups say in their petition that large farms account for 13 percent of all U.S. methane emissions. “Proven, pasture-based farming with reduced, sustainable herd sizes will help restore rural communities, help stabilize the climate, and provide environmental justice,” the petition states. ********************************************************************************************** Coalition Asks for Increased Conservation Funding Seventy of the top agriculture, conservation, and wildlife groups delivered a letter to Congress last week asking for robust funding for conservation programs and technical assistance for the fiscal year 2022. In the letter, groups like the American Farmland Trust, the National Association of Conservation Districts, and many others called on House and Senate appropriators to provide necessary robust increases to discretionary USDA conservation funding and reject any cuts to farm bill conservation programs through the FY 2022 appropriations process. The coalition says, “As Congress and the USDA continue to increase focus on climate change and the opportunities that agriculture and forestry can provide to sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build resilience, funding for conservation support is more important now than ever.” The letter asks lawmakers to maintain full funding for conservation programs mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill. They also want appropriators to provide at least $1.2 billion in discretionary funding for Conservation Operations, including $1.1 billion for Conservation Technical Assistance. This money facilitates Natural Resources Conservation Service operations outside the mandatory farm bill programs. “Technical assistance is essential for the delivery of conservation support for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners across the country by providing capacity and conservation planning to support implementation,” the letter says. ************************************************************************************ Farmers, Biofuel Producers Not Sold on Electric Cars Both President Biden and the U.S. auto industry say the nation is headed to a giant shift from liquid-fueled cars to electric vehicles. However, the Associated Press says biofuel producers, farmers, and their congressional supporters don’t agree. They say now is the right time to increase sales of ethanol and biodiesel, not set them aside. Biden’s infrastructure proposal includes billions of dollars to pay for 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, while General Motors set a goal of shifting its entire production to electric vehicles by 2035. But any shift to electric cars will be gradual, so ethanol and biodiesel producers say biofuels will be needed for the foreseeable future. Biofuel supporters cite a recent study from Harvard and Tuft Universities that found ethanol emits 46 percent less carbon than gasoline, which they say makes it imperative for the climate that the nation prioritize increasing its biofuel production. In the effort to cut carbon emissions, Geoff Cooper of the Renewable Fuels Association calls ethanol the “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to slowing global climate change. He supports an immediate change from gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol up to a 15 percent blend. ********************************************************************************************** Plant-Based Retail Food Sales Grow 27 Percent New data from the Plant-Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute shows U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods continued double-digit increases in 2020, rising 27 percent. That brought the total plant-based market value to $7 billion. The plant-based food market grew almost twice as fast as the total U.S. retail food market, which increased 15 percent as COVID-19 closed restaurants and consumers stocked up at the grocery store. Of the total households in the U.S., 57 percent say they purchase plant-based foods, up from 53 percent in 2019. The value of plant-based meat, which is the second-largest plant-based category, hit $1.4 billion in 2020. Sales grew by 45 percent, up from $962 million in 2019. The plant-based meat category grew twice as fast as conventional meat and now accounts for 2.7 percent of retail packaged meat sales. Eighteen percent of American households now buy plant-based meat, up from 14 percent in 2019. Plant-based milk, the largest plant-based category, reached $2.5 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Leafy Green Warning Food Safety News is reporting this week that the Food and Drug Administration has aimed an “unmistakable warning shot at the leafy greens industry.” FSN says the actual warning came in a column from Mike Taylor who co-chairs the board of the non-profit group “Stop Foodborne Illness” that represents foodborne illness victims and their families in efforts to keep people from getting sick. Taylor has a long history with the industry. He served as FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine from 2010 to mid-2016 and later worked for USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, where he was acting under secretary for safety. FSN reminds that Taylor was the official who, after the deadly 1992-93 Jack in the Box hamburger outbreak, ruled that the pathogen E. coli O157:H7 “is an adulterant in meat.” Taylor says that he hopes the recent FDA warning will serve as a call to urgent action that gets to the root of the problem of the persistent dangerous E. coli in the growing environment for leafy greens and other fresh produce. He says the warning cited the recurring nature of the E. coli hazard in the Salinas and Santa Maria growing areas and declared the recurring strain implicated in the 2020 outbreak to be a “reasonably foreseeable hazard,” which it attributed to the presence of cattle on land adjacent to growing fields. This finding seems obvious and shouldn't be surprising, Taylor thinks, but noted that the surprise is that FDA used regulatory language to spell out implications: farms covered by the current produce safety rules “are required” to implement science and risk-based preventive measures to minimize the risk of serious illness or death from the E. coli hazard. Make no mistake, he says, FDA's message is aimed not only at farms but at every entity involved in the commercial production, processing and sale of leafy greens coming from the California Central Coast Growing Region. The message is that, without effective preventive measures, important quantities of leafy greens will be in persistent violation of federal food safety regulatory standards. He does not anticipate FDA taking extensive judicial action to enforce its April 6 finding, absent egregious practices or clear negligence in a particular leafy green growing situation. He does see, however, a heightened sense of urgency at FDA and frustration that efforts to date have not solved the leafy greens safety problem. He shares that frustration, he says. Fifteen years ago, the disastrous spinach outbreak caused by E. coli O157:H7 was linked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to run-off from nearby grazing land, he recalls. “Since then, we've had outbreak after outbreak associated with E. coli in leafy greens and other fresh produce. And the outbreaks are just the tip of the public health iceberg. The federal government estimates that 60% of all food-related E. coli O157:H7 illnesses are associated with fresh produce. The vast majority of these illnesses are not part of an identified outbreak,” he concludes. Recent E. coli outbreaks and illnesses persist despite a lot of hard work by a lot of people in the leafy greens industry, researchers, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the FDA and its federal partners, Taylor says. He mentions groups he works with and says he knows “serious people are at work on the problem.” Then he asks what actions does public health demand? At one level, the answer to these questions are the same he says--the leafy greens industry and all those across the leafy greens supply chain and in government should be doing everything they can to minimize the “now well-known risk posed by E. coli O157:H7.” Certainly, this includes preventative measures within the leafy greens production system, such as strict implementation of rigorous water quality and irrigation standards, improved compost management, sanitation of harvesting equipment, and pre-harvest test-and-hold programs. He also thinks that modern food safety best practices dictate that prevention should begin at the root of the problem -- and that as long as leafy greens are grown outdoors in the vicinity of cattle operations, the food safety problem will persist. However, he notes that effective vaccines are available. Changed feeding practices have promise. Perhaps containment measures can reduce risk. He adds that it is clear that “no responsible food manufacturer would today deem it acceptable to produce food in an environment in which dangerous bacteria are being released or are present on a sustained basis. The same principle should apply to leafy greens and other fresh produce grown outdoors.” However, he notes that neither greens producers or cattle producers can exert “the necessary direct control over the source of the hazard, in many cases.” That is why FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas calls for “industry leadership and collaboration among growers, processors, retailers, state partners and the broader agricultural community,” including cattle producers, Taylor argues. He says he is “glad” the alarm has been sounded and that even though the kind of leadership needed is difficult in a “notoriously fragmented” sector, he thinks too much is at stake for all concerned to let such obstacles stand in the way. He says “now is the time for leaders from all across the commercial value chain and government to act together, with greater urgency, to get to the root of the problem.” So, we will see. Clearly FSN and Taylor have strong voices throughout the industry and their ideas can be expected to attract attention. Whether or not this will be adequate to control this growing safety problem remains to be seen and should be watched closely by producers in the months ahead, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


Groups Call On EPA To Regulate Large Hog, Dairy Operations Several environmental and other groups have petitioned EPA to use the same authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate power plants to regulate large dairy and hog farms. They said the agency should regulate those operations with more than 500 dairy cattle and more than 1,000 hogs without access to pasture as major sources of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane. They also called on EPA to reject classifying methane captured from such operations as “biogas,” calling burning of methane collected from such operations as a “false solution” relative to climate change. EPA said it would respond to the petition. If it were to actively pursue regulations requested by the groups, it would entail a process that could take up to two years before any actions would be taken. And, there would have to be a public comment period as the rules/regulations were being developed.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


US Pork Producers Welcome Philippines' Actions to Boost Pork Imports The Philippines Pork import tariffs will be reduced and a quota for those imports will increase as the country seeks to address a shortfall in pork supplies caused by a sharp reduction in the countries hog herd due to African Swine Fever (ASF). The order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte would see tariffs cut to 5% for three months from a current 30%, and it would rise to 10% during months four through 12. The tariffs would apply to imports under a quota of 404,210 metric tons -- a rise of 350,000 metric tons from a prior import quota of 54,210 metric tons. For imports over the quota level, tariffs would drop from a current 40% to 15% for the first three months of the action and would rise to 20% for the remainder of the 12-month period covered by the order. The National Pork Producers Association (NPPC) welcomed the move, noting it came after a meeting between the group and the Philippines ambassador to the U.S. “NPPC has been pressing both the U.S. and Philippines governments to lower pork import tariffs since ASF outbreaks began in the Philippines,” the group said in a release. “Since 2019, the Philippines has been battling African swine fever (ASF), and as a result, domestic production has declined, supplies have tightened, and pork prices have spiked,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “While we are saddened by the spread of ASF in the Philippines, we appreciate the opportunity to send more high-quality U.S. pork to ease the shortage and the spike in prices.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will release the producer price index for March at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday. At 11 a.m., USDA will post the April WASDE report with updated estimates of U.S. grain supplies and South American corn and soybean crops. Traders will continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. Weather Friday brings scattered thunderstorms to the northern Plains and northern Midwest. Precipitation will be light and accompanied by strong winds, leading to high fire threat in drought areas. Dry and windy conditions also lead to high fire threat in the southwestern Plains. One other area of precipitation extends from the southeastern Plains to the Gulf Coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Animal Welfare and Environmental Groups Want GE Animal Regulations to Stay at FDA This week, thirteen animal welfare and environmental groups urged federal agencies to maintain regulatory authority over genetically engineered food animals within the Food and Drug Administration. The request is in response to the Trump-era proposal to move the regulatory authority to the Department of Agriculture. Specifically, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would oversee regulatory authority over genetically engineered animals. In letters to the FDA and USDA, the groups claim, “FDA possesses the scientific and administrative capacities to regulate these animals better than USDA.” The groups contend, “Genetically engineered animals are a significant new threat to our food system.” Dana Perls of Friends of the Earth says, "Handing authority over to the USDA will dilute the already-weak GMO animal regulations." The thirteen groups signing the letters to the Biden administration include the Center for Food Safety, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth and the National Family Farm Coalition, among others. ************************************************************************************ ASA/AFBF: Stepping on Stepped-up Basis Has Big Consequences Any change in capital gains tax policy that eliminates or scales back stepped-up basis could result in a massive tax burden on the agricultural sector. A new analysis by the American Soybean Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation confirmed the findings. To minimize the impact of burdensome capital gains taxes, farmers and ranchers use stepped-up basis, which provides a reset for the asset value basis during intergenerational transfers. The magnitude of the tax burden that would be felt if basis is taken away or reduced would likely significantly exceed the annual income generated by the assets, something that has American farmers concerned. ASA President Kevin Scott says, “What people may not realize is that it could take years of returns to equal the amount of the tax if stepped-up basis is reduced, or worse, eliminated.” AFBF President Zippy Duvall adds, “Eliminating stepped-up basis would make passing the family farm to the next generation much more difficult.” ************************************************************************************ NCBA Welcomes Preserving Family Farms Act House lawmakers recently introduced the Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021, a priority for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. NCBA has long supported efforts to reduce tax burdens on farmers and ranchers. This bipartisan legislation to expand IRS Code Section 2032A would allow cattle producers to take advantage of the Special Use Valuation and protect family-owned businesses from the impact of the federal estate tax, commonly referred to as the Death Tax. The Preserving Family Farms Act increases the maximum amount allowed under the exemption from $750,000 to $11 million, indexed for inflation, thus reviving an important tool in the toolbox for farm and ranch families across the U.S., according to NCBA. If enacted, the legislation will provide a permanent solution to an issue that has long plagued cattle producers. While the current 2032A reduction is 55 percent higher than the value established two decades ago, USDA estimates that cropland values have increased by 223 percent. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Applauds the Philippines’ Decision to Import More Pork The Philippine government will provide more market access for pork imports to combat rising pork prices and stabilize supplies. Securing better access to the Philippines market has been a top, long-term priority for the National Pork Producers Council. NPPC President Jen Sorensen says, “While we are saddened by the spread of ASF in the Philippines, we appreciate the opportunity to send more high-quality U.S. pork to ease the shortage and the spike in prices.” Under the announcement, tariffs for imported pork under the increased minimum access volume of 404,210 metric tons would be reduced from 30 percent to five percent for the next three months, and then ten percent thereafter. The announcement comes on the heels of NPPC’s meeting with the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. NPPC has been pressing both the U.S. and Philippines governments to lower pork import tariffs since African swine fever outbreaks began in the Philippines. NPPC says the expanded market access is expected to generate significantly more U.S. pork exports to the country. ************************************************************************************ 2020/21 Sorghum Quality Report Released by U.S. Grains Council The U.S. Grains Council has published its 2020/2021 Sorghum Quality Report, and for the second year in a row, U.S. sorghum was, on average, graded above necessary requirements for the U.S. No. 1 designation. Protein content in sorghum was up eight percent year over year, with readings coming in at 11.2 percent, almost a full percentage point jump above last year’s content. Reece Cannady, USGC manager of global trade, says, “Protein content in sorghum is really what can set it apart from other coarse grains.” The report, funded through the Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service Agricultural Trade Promotion program, provides international customers accurate, unbiased information about the 2020 U.S. sorghum crop. To generate the report’s findings, samples were collected from 13 participating elevators located in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. Total sorghum damage came in at just 0.0 percent in the aggregate, and broken kernel and foreign material was only 1.6 percent, both similar to last year’s results. ************************************************************************************ Application Period Opens for 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has opened online applications for the 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. The national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies that are providing solutions to challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Farm Bureau will award $165,000 in startup funds provided by sponsors Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, Farm Bureau Bank, Farm Bureau Financial Services, FMC Corporation and John Deere. Launched in 2015 as the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the contest continues to identify the next ag entrepreneurs to watch and supports innovation essential to Farm Bureau member businesses and communities. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “Now, more than ever, we need creative solutions from entrepreneurs to help our farmers, ranchers and rural communities thrive.” For this eighth year of the competition, Farm Bureau is seeking entrepreneurs who are addressing either traditional or new/emerging challenges. Find application guidelines and apply at fb.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inequalities in Recovery Alarm IMF The New York Times is reporting this week that there is a danger that emerging markets will fall far behind their advanced counterparts and become “the whole world's problem.” The Times argues that the global economy is rebounding faster than previously expected, largely thanks to the strength of the United States. The global dynamic appears to be following a “K-shaped” pattern worldwide, NYT says. While many wealthy nations are poised for a major economic expansion this year, others could end up reversing decades of progress in fighting poverty. Top international economic officials are now warning that this divergence, which is being amplified by sluggish deployment of vaccines in developing countries, is a threat to stability and long-term growth. “Economic fortunes within countries and across countries are diverging dangerously,” Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, said at a panel discussion on Tuesday during the annual spring meetings of the fund and the World Bank. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen emphasized that point, saying that the inability of low- and middle-income countries to invest in robust inoculation programs could result in “a deeper and longer-lasting crisis, with mounting problems of indebtedness, more entrenched poverty and growing inequality.” Fears over rising inequality were underscored on Tuesday as the IMF said it was upgrading its global growth forecast for the year thanks to vaccinations of hundreds of millions of people, efforts that are expected to help fuel a sharp economic rebound. The wealthiest countries are leading the way out of the crisis, particularly the United States, whose economy is now projected to expand by 6.4% in 2021. The euro area is expected to expand by 4.4% and Japan is forecast to expand by 3.3%. Among emerging market and developing economies, China and India are expected to drive growth. China's economy is projected to expand by 8.4%, offering its own significant boost to overall global growth, and India's is expected to expand by 12.5%. But within advanced economies, low-skilled workers have been hit the hardest and those who lost jobs could find it difficult to replace them. And low-income countries are facing bigger losses in economic output than advanced economies, reversing gains in poverty reduction and risking long-lasting pandemic-era scars. Emerging market economies in many cases have fewer resources for fiscal stimulus, vaccine investments and labor force retraining--factors that put them at risk of falling behind and getting stuck as the world starts its rebound. If their growth lags badly, the fact that big economies like the United States are accelerating could compound the pain. A stronger American growth outlook already is pushing up market-based interest rates on U.S. government debt. As that happens, it attracts capital from abroad, making borrowing more expensive in already-weak economies and risking currency volatility. Researchers at the IMF pointed out recently that it is important that rates on U.S. debt are rising because of a strengthening economic outlook, one that will benefit many economies by stoking demand for their exports. Still, “countries that export less to the United States yet rely more on external borrowing could feel financial market stress.” Most U.S. officials have focused on how stronger domestic growth could actually help the rest of the world as American consumers buy foreign goods and services. “This year the U.S. looks like it's going to be a locomotive for the global economy,” Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said. Yellen made a similar argument on Tuesday during a panel discussion at the IMF, at which she urged countries not to let up on fiscal support. “Stronger growth in the U.S. is going to spill over positively to the entire global outlook and we are going to be careful to learn the lessons of the financial crisis, which is 'don't withdraw support too quickly,'” she said. “There's a race right now between these variants of concern and vaccines,” she said on Tuesday. Yellen urged “global cooperation and attention” to how disparities in vaccine distribution affect inequality and economic recoveries. The IMF agrees. Vitor Gaspar, the fund's director of fiscal affairs, said that the virus cannot be eradicated anywhere until it is eradicated everywhere. “Global vaccination is probably the global public investment with the highest return ever considered,” Gaspar said in an interview. “Vaccination policy is economic policy.” “We think market participants underestimate the likely pace of improvement in both the public health situation and economic activity in the remainder of 2021,” Jan Hatzius at Goldman Sachs said. Vaccinations are high or progressing in Canada, Australia, Britain and the euro area. In emerging markets, he noted that Goldman economists expect 60% to 70% of the population to have “at least some immunity” by the end of the year when counting prior coronavirus infection and vaccine proliferation. From the Fed to the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan, monetary authorities have employed a mix of rock-bottom rates, huge bond purchases and other emergency settings to try to cushion the pandemic's fallout. Organizing bodies have echoed Yellen's comment: They argue that it's important to see the recovery through, rather than pulling back on economic help early. So, we will see. The vigorous global reductions in virus cases and sighs of economic recovery will be very welcome. Efforts to widen the recovery will be welcome, but difficult to manage -- trends producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Countries Taking Trade Actions on Food Price Inflation Russia's government has approved a formula-based export tax system for sunflower oil and a higher export tax on sunflower seeds, the government said, with the actions linked to ongoing efforts to combat domestic food price inflation. The order signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin would set a one-year export tax on sunflower oil of 70% of the difference between $1,000 and a price per metric ton calculated by the country's ag ministry. That price will be reduced by $50 per ton each month. Sunflower seed exports will be taxed at 50%, with a minimum of $320 per tonne for July 1, 2021 and August 31, 2022. Meanwhile, South Korea will lift import tariffs on edible corn and some grains through the end of 2021 in a bid to ease inflationary pressures in the country, but the quota system will still apply, according to an announcement from South Korean Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki. Currently, duties of 3% are levied on imported edible corn, according to Yonhap news. The country will also import eggs and release reserves of napa cabbage, with imports of 25 million eggs planned in April to temper prices that have risen due to bird flu -- Yonhap reported egg imports totaled 64 million since late January.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Olympics Now Snared In Xinjiang Controversy Axios is reporting that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave a uniform contract for this summer's games in Japan to Hengyuanxing (HYX) Group for formal uniforms, including those used in ceremonies, for IOC members and staff. HYX has advertised on e-commerce platforms that its products contain Xinjiang cotton, and one of the factories overseen by HYX Group is located in Xinjiang, according to the company website. An IOC spokesperson told Axios that the HYX Group has provided the IOC with a certificate on the origin of cotton for the production of IOC uniforms and that the cotton originated outside China. The IOC did not provide a copy of the certificate to Axios and emphasized that the IOC “must remain neutral on all global political issues.” While it is committed to upholding human rights, the IOC said it “has neither the mandate nor the capability to change the laws or the political system of a sovereign country.” The item also notes that the IOC did not say where the certificate came from or what process was used to make the claims.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all set for 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. The U.S. Energy Department releases natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Grain traders may be cautious ahead of Friday's WASDE report, but will check the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the Midwest and Mid-South Thursday. The rain offers row crop soil moisture ahead of planting. Meanwhile, dry, warm and windy conditions will sweep across the Plains with a notable fire threat. This combination is stressful to wheat

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


Ag Economy Barometer up 12 Points The Ag Economy Barometer rose in March to 177, the highest reading for the barometer since the record high reading of 184 in October. Organizers say this month’s 12-point rise in the barometer was attributable almost entirely to ag producers’ more optimistic view of the future. The Index of Future Expectations climbed to 164, 16 points above February’s index. Although the Index of Current Conditions, at 202, changed little from a month earlier when it stood at 200, it did mark a return to the index’s record high, first reached in December. Strong ag commodity prices and improved farm financial conditions continue to support the Ag Economy Barometer readings as heading into planting season. The improvement in future expectations occurred even though producers are becoming increasingly pessimistic that the trade dispute with China will be resolved in a way that’s beneficial to U.S. agriculture. Producers continue to be relatively optimistic about making capital investments and became more optimistic about farmland values. ************************************************************************************ USDA Weekly Crop Progress Reports Begin Planting season is underway as the Department of Agriculture released the first weekly Crop Progress report for 2021 Monday. USDA says planting has begun for barley, corn, cotton, oats, rice, sorghum, spring wheat, and sugarbeets. By this time last year, two percent of the corn crop had been planted, and two percent has been planted so far in 2021. Six percent of the cotton crop is in the ground, one percentage point behind the same time last year. Meanwhile, 14 percent of the sorghum crop is planted, one percentage point behind a year ago. Barley, oats, rice, spring wheat and sugarbeet plantings are similar to 2020 progress. Crop Progress reports are released the first workday of the week during the growing season from April through November. The reports list planting, developmental, and harvesting progress, and overall condition of selected crops in major producing states. Crops featured in the report include corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, cotton, oats, barley, peanuts, sugarbeets, and sunflowers. ************************************************************************************ Droughts Longer, Rainfall More Erratic in the West Dry periods between rainstorms have become longer, and annual rainfall has become more erratic across most of the western United States during the past 50 years. A study published by The Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service finds rain has been falling in fewer and sometimes larger storms, with longer dry intervals between. Total yearly rainfall has decreased by an average of four inches over the last half century, while the longest dry period in each year increased from 20 to 32 days across the West. Extreme droughts are also occurring more often in the majority of the West, according to historical weather data, as there has been an increase in the year-to-year variation of both total rainfall amounts and the duration of dry periods. Notable exceptions to these drought patterns were seen in Washington, Oregon and Idaho and the Northern Plains region of Montana, Wyoming, and the most western parts of North and South Dakota. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Calls on Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to Veto Anti E15 Bill Growth Energy Tuesday urged Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to veto state legislation the biofuels group claims is intended to destroy demand for E15, a fuel blend with 15 percent ethanol. In a letter to Governor Holcomb, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor states, “SB 303 was designed to stall new competition at the fuel pump and prevent more consumers from saving three to ten cents per gallon on a lower-carbon, higher-octane fuel blend.” According to the letter, SB 303 seeks to limit sales of E15 by mandating warning labels on E15 fuel dispensers that serve “only to confuse consumers and add completely unnecessary redundancy” to already burdensome federal labeling requirements. The fuel already has similar federal label requirements. The bill establishes new maximum vapor pressure limits for gasoline and for ethanol blended fuels in the state. Additionally, fuel dispensers of E15 must have a statement “Attention: E15. Check owner's manual for compatibility and warranty requirements." ************************************************************************************ Missouri River 2021 Runoff Forecast Below Average Reservoir inflows in the Missouri River basin above Sioux City, Iowa were well-below average in March, contributing to a below-average forecast for 2021. John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division for the Army Corps of Engineers, says, "Due to the lack of plains snowpack in 2021, below-average mountain snowpack, and dry upper basin conditions, we expect upper basin runoff to be below average.” The updated 2021 upper basin runoff forecast is 21.3 million acre-feet, 83 percent of average. The upper basin runoff forecast is based on soil moisture conditions, plains snowpack, mountain snowpack, and long-term precipitation and temperature outlooks. System storage is currently 56.1 million-acre-feet, at the base of the annual flood control zone. The Army Corps of Engineers says the system is positioned to serve all Congressionally authorized purposes during 2021, including flood control, navigation, and water supply. Gavins Point Dam releases were increased near the end of March to begin flow support for Missouri River navigation. ************************************************************************************ World Dairy Expo 2021 To Remain in Madison, Wisconsin World Dairy Expo will remain in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2021. Event organizers last week announced the 54th edition of the event is scheduled September 28 – October 2, 2021 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. The announcement follows contingency planning and consideration of alternative venues. Bill Hageman, WDE Board President, says, “The clarity that Expo’s leaders sought from Dane County officials regarding the path forward for responsibly and safely hosting World Dairy Expo 2021 at the Alliant Energy Center has come to fruition.” Also, Dane County, Wisconsin, Home of World Dairy Expo, offered the event a ten-year contract extension to keep it in Madison. Discussions regarding the contract extension proposed concerning World Dairy Expo’s use of the Alliant Energy Center, a county-owned facility, will take place over the coming months. In a traditional year, World Dairy Expo welcomes upwards of 70,000 attendees and provides anan economic impact of more than $45 million each year.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Senate Parliamentarian Ruling Favors Democrats Bloomberg is reporting this week that the prospects for President Joe Biden's economic agenda could be enhanced by a new ruling from the Senate parliamentarian that opens the door to passing multiple additional bills this year without Republican support. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Sunday that Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has ruled Democrats could enact another reconciliation package by revising the budget blueprint the Democratic Congress adopted earlier this year. The ruling “allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstructions continue,” said the spokesman, Justin Goodman. Goodman said no decisions have been made on how to move Biden's agenda, but called the decision nonetheless “an important step forward” and “that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed.” Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., praised the ruling. “The American people want bold action to address our country's many challenges, and Democrats now have more options to overcome Republican obstruction and get things done,” he said. Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed using the budget reconciliation process, which bypasses the 60-vote rule required to pass most legislation in the Senate. The Democrats' plan released over the weekend and Biden's corporate tax proposals last week are designed to help raise revenue for the administration's sweeping $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan. Both mark a shift from the 2017 tax law, which dramatically lowered corporate tax rates and eased rules in the name of making U.S. companies more competitive globally – but which both Biden and Senate Democrats say has given incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas. However, the plan proposed by Wyden, Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Mark Warner, D-Va., doesn't call for an increase in the corporate tax rate, as Biden's proposal does. The Senate plan would also retain in altered form some provisions of the 2017 law that Biden apparently wants to scrap. The tax plan the administration laid out last week would likely hit technology and pharmaceutical companies particularly hard, although the challenge for legislators would be to minimize loopholes and thus diminish the impact, tax experts said. Much of the most valuable assets at pharmaceutical and tech companies are intellectual property, like patents and algorithms--intangibles that make it easier for them to structure global operations in a way to minimize tax costs. Both Republicans and Democrats have sought to bolster the U.S. tax take from companies' overseas operations and President Trump's 2017 overhaul included measures to do that. Biden's plan takes a tougher approach, with a 21% minimum tax on foreign profits and a 15% minimum levy on profits reported on financial statements. It limits companies from using credits for research and development costs and deductions for paying employees in stock. The provisions--part of the administration's plan to finance a $2.25 trillion infrastructure package--mean that tech and pharmaceutical companies could lose many of the tax-planning tools that allowed them to pay low rates for years. In the meantime, in other news, Bloomberg noted that nuclear talks between Iran and world powers began their most serious attempt yet to resurrect a troubled deal, with negotiators from the U.S. and Islamic Republic gathered at the same venue for the first time since the U.S. withdrew from the earlier deal. Diplomats arrived at Vienna's Hotel Imperial this week for the talks, which may extend through the end of the week if progress is made. Iranian and U.S. negotiators aren't expected to speak directly, reflecting the deep distrust they will have to overcome. Also, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is in New Delhi this week to push Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to boost its climate ambitions as it considers announcing a net zero target ahead of a virtual summit later this month. The visit comes ahead of a meeting of leaders from 40 nations organized by President Biden that will run from April 22-23 aimed at galvanizing efforts to commit to more ambitious climate change mitigation targets, at a time of rising pressure on nations to consider net-zero greenhouse gas emissions targets after China announced its plan last year. Kerry met in India on Monday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss climate issues. The brief talks in New Delhi came as the U.S. is seeking the participation of the leaders of Russia and China, along with dozens of others, in the global summit on climate change later this month. So far, the Kremlin hasn't said whether President Vladimir Putin will attend. Finally, Bloomberg says Fed Chair Jerome Powell will attempt to forecast Black unemployment in the near future. This suggests that Wall Street economists will need to try their hand at forecasting new variables – like the Black unemployment rate. That shift in focus could itself contribute to the outcome that the Fed chair says he wants: an economic expansion reaching corners of the labor force that have been slower to recover in the past. So, we will see. The new administration is attempting to apply new tools and stronger approaches to a number of social objectives, although the toxicity of the Washington climate remains very high. These are fights and concerns that producers should watch extremely carefully as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


Biden To Tap Bianchi For USTR Post Bloomberg reports that President Joe Biden will likely name longtime aide and Obama administration veteran Sarah Bianchi as deputy U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Bianchi is a senior managing director at Evercore ISI International and has previously worked for BlackRock and Airbnb. She is also chair on the advisory board of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. A decision is not yet final, and Bianchi is still being vetted, the report said. During the second term of the Obama administration, Bianchi served as deputy assistant to the president for economic policy and director of policy for then-Vice President Biden.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


USDA Reopened CFAP Signup USDA announced that with updates to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), signup for CFAP 2 restarted April 5 and will run at least 60 days. CFAP updates include an increase in CFAP 1 payments for cattle which will total more than $1.1 billion for over 410,000 producers. An additional CFAP 2 payment of $20 per acre for producers of eligible flat-rate or price-triggered crops will total more than $4.5 billion to over 560,000 producers. USDA said it will also process eligible payments for CFAP Additional Assistance (CFAP-AA) and will finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustment on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed for the program. USDA also said it would earmark at least $6 billion for new programs using funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act approved in December. However, the agency did not detail yet what form the assistance will take beyond a broad list of commodities and other areas the program will address -- Pandemic Assistance for Producers. The assistance is also expected to come for biofuel producers who have so far not been deemed eligible for any USDA assistance. USDA is currently accepting proposals for cooperative agreements to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Census Bureau will report on the trade deficit for February at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday. Later that morning, USDA will distribute official export data for various ag products. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly inventory report, including an update on ethanol production. At 1 p.m. CDT, the Federal Reserve will issue minutes from its latest FOMC meeting. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the north-central through southeastern Plains and the western Midwest Wednesday. Moisture is favorable ahead of spring planting. Driest areas of the northern Plains are being bypassed by this rain, however.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


USDA Reopens CFAP2 Enrollment The Department of Agriculture Monday reopened the signup window for the CFAP 2, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. CFAP 2 provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial CFAP 2 signup ended in December, but USDA has reopened the signup period for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days. Producers have multiple options to apply for CFAP 2, including through an online application portal and working directly with the FSA office at their local USDA Service Center. USDA will also finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustments on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed as part of the CFAP Additional Assistance. Additionally, USDA announced $2 million to establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. A USDA spokesperson says, “This funding will support grassroots organizations and public institutions as we support their producers.” ************************************************************************************ Consumers Grocery Store Visits Down A new report from Placer.ai shows consumers are not heading to the grocery store as much in 2021, compared to 2020. Pandemic-driven shopping sprees last year had consumers cleaning grocery store shelves. The analytics firm reports a 28 percent drop in store visits the week of March 8, 2021. One researcher says, “2021 is going to be mired in the unique challenge of trying to make sense of certain sectors in a world where year-over-year data could be heavily misleading.” Visits to leading grocers like Albertsons or Publix during the week of March 8 were down 34.6 percent and 20.3 percent, respectively. Yet, when looking at the same brands compared to the equivalent week in 2019, the picture shifts dramatically, with Albertsons down just 0.3 percent and Publix up 0.8 percent. While COVID’s health effects seem to be dissipating, the economic consequences will last far longer, as researchers say grocery stores still provide a cost-conscious alternative to eating out. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Hemp Seed Production Increasing Hemp cultivated for seed and grain comprised approximately ten percent of 2020 total U.S. acreage, approximately 14,000 acres, according to data provided by Hemp Benchmarks. By comparison, Canadian cultivators grew more than five times that acreage, beyond 75,000 acres, the vast majority of which were exported to the United States. Exports to the U.S. have exceeded $300 million since 2010, and the U.S. is quickly closing the gap as the artificial protectionism provided by prohibition evaporates. Growth in U.S. acreage is being fueled largely by increased consumer demand for plant-based proteins, as well as optimism that hemp legalization will broaden potential markets for grain. Hemp grain production in the United States is most concentrated in three states – Indiana, Montana, and North Dakota. New Frontier Data projects that 2020 retail sales for hemp food products will account for $67.1 million, and grow to $144.1 million by 2025. The fastest-growing product category of hemp seed products is protein powder, which rang up $4.7 million in total sales in 2020. ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks Public Input to Create a New Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program The Department of Agriculture seeks public input to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. USDA is seeking written comments and will host a public listening session on April 22, 2021. USDA’s Justin Maxson says, “we must put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions, and that begins with getting feedback.” The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 provided $10 million to USDA to develop a pilot program that provides financial assistance to rural communities to further develop renewable energy. The request for information and the stakeholder listening session seek input to help develop options for the Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. The new program will aim to support the nation’s critical energy needs, and combat climate change while advancing environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity using distributed energy technologies, innovations, and/or solutions. Written comments are encouraged and must be submitted online by April 29, 2021, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at regulations.gov. ************************************************************************************ Chicken Marketing Summit 2021 Registration Opens Registration is now open for the 2021 Chicken Marketing Summit. The annual executive conference, hosted by WATT Global Media, is scheduled for July 18-20, 2021, at the Omni Amelia Island Resort in Fernandina Beach, Florida. This year’s Chicken Marketing Summit will focus on what consumers will be looking for from protein suppliers and what strategies will be most effective for chicken marketers going forward. Organizers say the Summit begins with a look at the future of food and a high-level look at the impacts of African Swine Fever and COVID-19 on world supply, demand and trade of meat. The talks progress from there to explore foodservice and retail strategies that succeeded in the pandemic and ones that are poised to soar post-pandemic. The Summit wraps up with discussions on strategies for connecting with consumers and creating effective messaging in the post-pandemic era. The conference includes eight general sessions focusing on the forward-looking theme "Charting post-pandemic success. For more information, visit www.chickenmarketingsummit.com. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Stabilize as OPEC Increases May Oil Production For the third consecutive week, the national average price of gasoline dropped, declining 0.4 cents to $2.86 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. The national average stands 9.9 cents higher than a month ago and nearly 96 cents higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel fell 0.2 cents in the last week and stands at $3.08 per gallon. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “last week was a mixed bag for consumers at the pump as gas prices in half of states rose, while the other half saw declines.” De Haan says gasoline prices may see a second run to reach a national average of $3 per gallon in the months ahead. Data from the Energy Information Administration last week printed a decline in U.S. oil inventories, which now stand about six percent above the average range for this time of year. Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline demand continued to rise for the week ending March 27, as Americans continued to get outside amidst better conditions and fewer travel restrictions.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Chinese Banking Rules The New York Times reported last weekend that China has been putting “limits on foreign banks, and that foreign businesses are worried by the move.” The new rules are seen as efforts to tame big money flows and possibly for controlling the Chinese currency, “that could give domestic rivals a competitive edge and make international firms more dependent on local lenders,” the Times says. The rules changes are seen as “sharply limiting the ability of foreign banks to do business in the country, making them less competitive against local rivals,” the Times said. One set of rules enacted in December and January restricts how much money foreign banks can transfer into China from overseas. Another, which took effect last Wednesday, required many foreign banks to make fewer loans and sell off bonds and other investments. The changes are causing a stir among the global bank executives and foreign companies in China that depend on those lenders for money, the Times says. Among other concerns, borrowers worry that the rules could make foreign-owned businesses more dependent on China's state-run banking system for the money they need to grow — and could give Beijing another potential pressure point to use against Washington and others over trade, human rights, geopolitics and other sticky issues. Banks and trade groups have been reluctant to speak publicly for fear of triggering further regulatory measures. But in a January letter to China's central bank that was reviewed by the Times, the EU Chamber of Commerce in China raised concerns about the money transfer limits. “In some cases, the risk brought about by this major structural change may fundamentally overturn the strategic development direction of EU banks” in China, the letter said. The new rules could complicate already thorny political issues, such as the U.S.-China trade war, a pending investment agreement between China and the European Union and long-simmering tensions over how Beijing controls the value of the Chinese currency. The new U.S. administration has shown little interest in letting up on the trade sanctions pressed by his predecessor and the two sides are also clashing over human rights, particularly Beijing's repression of mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang and its crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong. International companies have been caught in the middle. Over the past two weeks, Chinese state media and the country's online community have encouraged boycotts of foreign businesses like H&M, the Swedish retailer, and Nike, the American athletic brand, after they vowed not to use cotton made by forced labor in Xinjiang. Still, the Times says that the reasons behind China's new banking rules aren't clear, though they appear to have little to do with the tense political environment. They seem to be aimed instead at stemming big, potentially disruptive flows of money into the country. China, which keeps tight control over external money movements appear to be worried that a surge of funds could lead to nasty surprises like inflation. Money poured into the country in the second half of last year as the Chinese economy threw off its pandemic doldrums while activity in much of the rest of the world shrank. Big money flows into a country can also make its currency rise in value — and China appears to be working hard to counter that. China's currency, the renminbi, rose sharply in value against the U.S. dollar in the second half of last year — a shift that was bad news for China's exporters. But since the Chinese government enacted its new banking rules, the currency has begun to weaken and now stands at about 6.6 renminbi to the dollar. The new rules alone aren't likely significant enough to account for the sudden halt to the renminbi's rise. But they join other moves by the Chinese government in recent months that have made moving money into China slightly harder and moving it out slightly easier. Combined, they could put pressure on the renminbi to weaken. Still, Chinese officials continue to stress that their country is open to foreign investment, particularly banking. “The inflow of foreign capital is inevitable, but so far, the scale and speed are still within our control,” Guo Shuqing, the chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, which has worked closely with the central bank on the new policies, said during a news conference on March 2. “We continue to encourage foreign financial institutions to enter China for shared development.” With near-zero interest rates elsewhere, international banks borrowed cheaply abroad. Until the new rules kicked in, they could send that money to China and lend or invest it there, reaping higher returns. The first of the new rules, issued in a memo to banks in December, appeared to be aimed at that trend and it limited the ability of global banks to raise money overseas and move it into China. The rule is being phased in but was written in a way that has already had a big effect on financial contracts involving bets on currency trends. Concerned about the rapid growth of credit in the Chinese economy, regulators ordered domestic and foreign banks to limit their balance sheets recently to show only slight growth from last year. Because China has recently loosened limits on foreign purchases of bonds, many foreign banks had been buying more bonds for sale to foreign customers, expanding their balance sheets. The full impact of the new rules will depend on how long they stay in place. Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist, predicted that China would eventually resume opening up to foreign financial institutions. “They don't want to scare off foreign investors in the medium to long term,” he said. So, we will see. The new administration is strongly stressing domestic job growth, and appears to be committed to continue that emphasis, high-stakes policies producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


Chinese Boycott On Certain Western Clothing Brands May Be Backfiring After several brands such as Nike and Adidas said they would no longer buy cotton from Chinese suppliers in Xinjiang over reports that the growers rely on forced labor by ethnic minorities to produce their cotton, Beijing called for a boycott of several companies. However, reports indicate sales of most of the boycotted brands are soaring as Chinese consumers rush to buy items before the government blocks sales entirely. Clearly, this is not likely the impact Beijing intended.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


Still Waiting on Initial Look at Biden Budget The first look at President Joe Biden's Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 discretionary budget request was not unveiled Friday, April 2, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) confirmed. OMB declined to provide more specifics on the timeline for release, which had been expected last week. It seems there are funding disagreements among some departments, with most of the focus on the Pentagon. It will be interesting to see how the new administration puts forth its initial spending plan, with ag interests watching to see if there are any proposed reductions in programs like crop insurance that have been proposed over the years. But those suggested cuts from any administration have rarely been followed by lawmakers that write the spending details.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday has no official reports on the docket, but traders will pay attention to the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news on export sales. Weather Tuesday will find light rain showers crossing the central Plains and western Midwest. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to below normal north and above to much above normal central and south. In addition, strong south winds will lead to high fire danger in the southern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 5, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Strong March Jobs Report Helps Focus on Infrastructure The Hill is reporting this week that the strong March jobs report is helping the administration make its his case for a major investment in U.S. infrastructure funded by corporate tax hikes. The U.S. Labor Department said that accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations, easing restrictions and growing confidence fueled a strong surge in hiring in March, helping the U.S. add 916,000 jobs last month and push the jobless rate down 0.2 percentage points. The growing strength of the economy is sorely needed for millions of Americans who are still struggling to get by more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic. But it's also a significant political asset for the administration as it fends off Republican criticism of the next stage of its economic agenda. GOP lawmakers have ripped President Biden for proposing a series of corporate tax hikes to fund the $2.5 trillion infrastructure proposal, called “the American Jobs Plan.” While Republicans are usually opposed to raising taxes in any context, they've argued that doing so now will undercut the recovery from the pandemic. The exceptional March jobs gain, however, gives the president and the Democrats a boost as they push to kick the recovery into another gear, The Hill says. “It's a once-in-a-generation investment in our economic future — a chance to win the future, paid for by asking big corporations, many of which do not pay any taxes at all, just to begin to pay their fair share,” the president said Friday. “Asking corporate America just to pay their fair share will not slow the economy at all. It will make the economy function better and will create more energy.” After shepherding a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill through Congress, President Biden is looking to cement a rapid recovery from the pandemic-driven recession and permanently lift the long-term trajectory of the U.S. economy with an eight-year building spree, he says. The administration's proposal, released Wednesday, would fund projects to repair 20,000 miles of roads and 10,000 bridges, expand broadband access to rural and underserved communities, and replace all of the nation's lead pipes and service lines. It also includes investments in research, development and manufacturing, affordable housing, climate resilience, and access to home and community-based care. “I think we were in a decent place in the past but I think the pandemic has really ripped the bandage off all the scars that we've been hiding for decades,” said Jane Oates, a former Obama Labor Department official who serves as president of non-profit WorkingNation. “Building back better would be looking at people for what they can do, the skills they have, rather than looking at just where they had the privilege of attending school,” she said. “People and families who are out of work or working below the level they were working in February of last year – do we leave them out and wait and hope that everything will be okay?” While some Republicans say they're interested in aspects of Biden's plan, its size, expansive scope and the tax hikes to cover its cost make it a non-starter for GOP lawmakers. The measure can still pass through budget reconciliation without any GOP support if Democrats are united on the measure. But Democrats can afford barely any defections in the House and none in the Senate – and Republican lawmakers and conservative groups are reminding voters of the tax hikes in seeking to make centrist Democrats pull support for the measure. “With lockdowns easing and vaccine distribution ramping up, small businesses are reopening and consumer demand is surging. However, the long-term economic outlook remains murky,” said Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, a conservative non-profit campaigning against the administration's proposal. “Biden's tax plan is a dagger in the heart of small businesses who are finally getting breathing room after one of the toughest years in history,” he said. Most economists, however, expect the U.S. economy to accelerate even faster as COVID-19 vaccinations increase and funding from the administration's relief plan fuels further growth. The surveys used to calculate the March jobs report took place the week Biden signed the bill and before any new aid was disbursed. Orin Klachkin and Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics said in a Friday analysis that the U.S. is on track to add more than 6 million more jobs this year. “Looking ahead, the labor market is poised for an impressive run as expanding vaccine distribution, more reopenings, and fiscal stimulus drive a hiring surge,” they wrote. Even so, the U.S. would still be down more than 2 million jobs from pre-pandemic levels, and there roughly 4 million people who left the labor force because of COVID-19 still lack any clear path back in. Biden administration officials say the long road to a full recovery and the deeply unequal impact of the pandemic makes passage of the American Jobs Plan even more urgent. Janelle Jones, chief economist at the Labor Department, cited the increase in the unemployment rate for Asian Americans from 5.1% to 6% in March. “And the rates for Black and Hispanic workers remain high,” she wrote in a Friday analysis. “At the same time, the average duration of unemployment increased by two weeks. We'll need a tight labor market to get them back to work.” So, we will see. The administration and others are citing strong signs of recovery in support of their programs and proposals, but the opposition also is highly energized. The coming fights will continue to be highly significant for producers and should be watched closely as the season emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 5, 2021 |


DMC Payments Triggered For February With monthly USDA prices for milk and feed components (corn, blended alfalfa hay, and soymeal) resulting in a National average margin in February of $6.22 per cwt., dairy operations with Tier 1 coverage levels under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) will see payments triggered for levels at $9.50, $9, $8.50, $8, $7.50, $7 and $6.50. Payments under Tier 2 coverage levels are triggered for $8, $7.50, $7, and $6.50. For Tier 1, payments will range from $0.28 per cwt. at $6.50 coverage to $3.28 per cwt. for $9.50 coverage. The Tier 2 payments will range from $0.28 per cwt. for $6.50 coverage and $1.78 per cwt. for $8.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 5, 2021 |


China Prominent in USTR Report on Trade Barriers The National Trade Estimates Report on Foreign Trade Barriers issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) covers 61 countries, the European Union, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Arab League, with a note that just because countries are not included in the report, it does not mean they not of concern to the U.S. Not surprisingly, China occupies 35 pages in the 574-page report, with several notations on the Phase One agreement between the U.S. and China. “The Phase One Agreement also includes a commitment by China to make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in calendar years 2020 and 2021,” the report noted. “Importantly, the Phase One Agreement establishes a strong dispute resolution system that ensures prompt and effective implementation and enforcement. Since the entry into force of the Phase One Agreement in February 2020, the United States continues to engage China as issues arise and will continue to monitor developments closely.” The report noted several areas relative to agriculture where progress has been made, but still concluded, China remains a difficult and unpredictable market for U.S. agricultural exporters, largely because of inconsistent enforcement of regulations and selective intervention in the market by China's regulatory authorities. The failure of China's regulators to routinely follow science-based, international standards, and guidelines further complicates and impedes agricultural trade.” The report also focuses on China's overcapacity in several areas, their intellectual property rights actions, technology transfers and more.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 5, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Early Monday, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and will pause at 8 a.m. CDT Monday to see if there is any export sales news from USDA. USDA's weekly report of grain inspections is set for 10 a.m., followed by an update of winter wheat conditions in the first Crop Progress report of 2021 at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Some isolated showers will dot the area from Nebraska to Michigan on Monday. Otherwise primary crop areas will remain dry and very warm.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 2, 2021 |


Biden Announces Infrastructure Plan President Biden released a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that will address needs in rural America that agricultural stakeholders have been asking Washington to address. The Hagstrom Report says the proposal will cover many traditional infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, and inland waterways. The plan will also attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the big benefit to rural America will include trying to bring high-speed broadband service to the most remote parts of rural America. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “The plan promises to close the broadband gap in rural America for millions of Americans, something that’s vital for health care, education, and employment in the digital age.” The package would be partly financed by increasing the corporate income tax rate from 21 to 28 percent. The rate increase has already generated growing opposition in the business world and among many lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable have already rejected the idea of raising the corporate tax rate. The Chamber says the plan will slow the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and reduce global competitiveness. ********************************************************************************************** Hog Slaughter Line Speed Rule Tossed Out A federal court invalidated a Trump-era rule that allowed hog slaughter plants to run without line speed limits. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union filed a lawsuit against the USDA challenging a 2019 rule change that allowed faster slaughter speeds. The union said in its lawsuit that the change made working conditions unsafe for line employees. Reuters says the ruling from a Minnesota federal judge won’t be received well by the U.S. pork industry, which is trying to rebuild supplies of meat after COVID-19 closed slaughterhouses last year. Workers at Seaboard Foods, the second-largest pig producer in the country, told Reuters that faster line speeds increased worker injuries at the plant. The Biden Administration, which promised to make worker safety a priority, withdrew a Trump proposal to allow all poultry plants to work at faster-than-established line speed limits. The pork rule was going to be more difficult to reverse because it was already in effect. Food & Water Watch, a U.S.-based environmental group, calls the ruling “a resounding victory for the safety of plant workers.” Senior staff attorney Zach Corrigan adds that “This decision should send a signal to the Biden administration that it should reverse course and consider every aspect of those rules.” ********************************************************************************************** Weekly Ethanol Production Rises While Inventories Drop The Energy Information Administration says ethanol output surged before last week while inventories shrank. Ethanol production increased to an average of 965,000 barrels a day in the week ending on March 26. That’s up from the 922,000 barrels produced daily during the previous week. The Midwest, by far the largest producing region, averaged 917,000 barrels per day, up from 876,000 a week earlier. Gulf Coast production jumped to an average of 18,000 barrels per day from 14,000 barrels. The East Coast ethanol output didn’t change from week to week, staying at an average of 12,000 barrels a day. Government data also shows West Coast production staying at 9,000 barrels. The Rocky Mountain region was the only one that saw its production drop, averaging around 9,000 barrels a day. In the meantime, U.S. stockpiles of ethanol dropped to 21.14 million barrels in the week ending on March 26. The Energy Information Administration says that’s down from 21.809 million a week earlier and the lowest since the seven days that ended on November 20. ********************************************************************************************** AFIA Applauds Vilsack Enthusiasm for TPA The American Feed Industry Association commends Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack for his leadership in asking Congress to renew Trade Promotion Authority legislation. AFIA’s President and CEO Constance Cullman says the animal feed and pet food industries are encouraged by Secretary Vilsack’s recognition of the importance of renewing TPA and is hopeful that the Biden administration intends to take an active and supportive position in renewing it. “As trade in the animal food sector continues to grow, we applaud Secretary Vilsack for standing behind U.S. agriculture and being the first within the administration to express both the need and support for TPA renewal.” The Trade Promotion Authority allows the U.S. trade representative to enter trade discussions with negotiating positions and priorities already agreed upon by Congress, which provides potential trading partners with the confidence that Congress will likely ratify any final agreement. TPA is not a new idea; it’s been utilized during presidential administrations going back to 1974 and has only been authorized four times. As the administration focuses on domestic issues, it’s not clear if it will request TPA renewal before the deadline this summer. ************************************************************************************ CFTC Charges Washington State Rancher and Feedyard in $233 Million Scheme The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court in eastern Washington state. The action charges Easterday Ranches, Incorporated, a Pasco, Washington-based cattle feedyard, and Cody Easterday, the co-owner and former president of Easterday Ranches, for engaging in cattle fraud in connection with the sale of more than 200,000 non-existent head of cattle to a beef processor. Easterday is also charged with making false statements to an exchange and violating exchange-set position limits. The CFTC complaint seeks restitution, disgorgement, civil monetary penalties, permanent trading and registration bans to Easterday, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and the CFTC. According to the complaint, Easterday accumulated more than $200 million in losses over a decade from speculative trading in the cattle futures market. To meet margin calls, Easterday came up with a scheme to defraud one of his biggest business partners, a South Dakota-based beef producer. Easterday Ranches submitted fake invoices and reimbursement requests relating to more than 200,000 head of cattle it never actually purchased or raised on the producer’s behalf. Easterday received more than $233 million to which it wasn’t entitled. ********************************************************************************************** 20 States Support NAMI Against Prop 12 A total of 20 states filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting the North American Meat Institute’s petition challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 12 in California. “The governments of nearly half the states agree that if California is allowed to apply its laws of conduct in other states, a single state will dictate policies in all others,” says Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “That will encourage a patchwork of regulations and threaten the free flow of interstate commerce.” The brief before the Supreme Court says, “If Prop 12 freely permits California to impose regulations directly on out-of-state commercial conduct and thereby fosters inconsistent state regulatory obligations, it enables tit-for-tat regulatory conflict.” They say the ultimate result may be a transformation of America’s current integrated national market into a patchwork of regulatory regions. The main question in the case is whether the U.S. Constitution permits California to extend its police power beyond its territorial borders by banning the sale of wholesome pork and veal products sold into California unless out-of-state farmers restructure their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


USDA Releases Prospective Planting, Grain Stocks Reports Producers intend to plant an estimated 91.1 million acres of corn in 2021, up less than one percent from last year, according to the Prospective Plantings report released by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Planted acreage intentions for corn are up or unchanged in 24 of the 48 estimating states. Soybean growers intend to plant 87.6 million acres in 2021, up five percent from last year. If realized, this will be the third-highest planted acreage on record. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be up or unchanged in 23 of the 29 states estimated. NASS also released the quarterly Grain Stocks report. Corn stocks totaled 7.70 billion bushels, down three percent from the same time last year. On-farm corn stocks were down nine percent from a year ago, but off-farm stocks were up five percent. Soybeans stored totaled 1.56 billion bushels, down 31 percent from March 1, 2020. On-farm soybean stocks were down 41 percent from a year ago, while off-farm stocks were down 22 percent. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy: To Decarbonize Transportation, America Must Turn to Biofuels  Following President Joe Biden’s announcement of a nationwide infrastructure package, Growth Energy says the plan overlooks the need to expand low carbon biofuels, like ethanol. The American Jobs Plan seeks to improve highways, bridges, ports, airports and transit systems. The plan also seeks to improve drinking water, the electric grid, and broadband. In total, the plan will invest about $2 trillion this decade. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “it’s disappointing” the American Jobs Plan doesn’t expand biofuels. Earlier this year, a new report from the Rhodium Group, found that biofuels are an essential element of the path to a net-zero future by 2050. However, the plan does call for $35 billion in research priorities, including offshore wind, biofuels and electric vehicles. And Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the plan "will help us rebuild our economy and rural communities.” Vilsack adds that the Department of Agriculture is central to President Joe Biden’s strategy to build a strong economy. ************************************************************************************ Biofuels Coalition Welcomes Amicus Briefs in Supreme Court RFS Case A coalition of farm and biofuels groups welcome a Supreme Court brief filed by U.S. states supporting the coalition's arguments in a case regarding small refinery waivers. The Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and American Coalition for Ethanol offered thanks to Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia for filing the brief. HollyFrontier and other refiners are asking the Supreme Court to overturn the January 2020 appeals court ruling in which the court found EPA exceeded its authority in granting certain small refinery waivers. The brief from the states concludes that “the judgment of the court of appeals should be affirmed.” The coalition says, “As the filings make clear, the exemptions have had a devastating effect on rural economies and on the demand for all types of renewable fuels.” The coalition adds, “we are very grateful that these states and other renewable fuel and agriculture interests have stepped up to endorse the decision as well.” ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Introduce ACRE Act A group of House lawmakers Thursday introduced the Agriculture Civil Rights and Equality Act, or ACRE Act. The legislation would prohibit officials at the Department of Agriculture from discriminating or providing preferential treatment to any person on the basis of race, color, national origin or sex. The prohibitions would apply to USDA hiring, contracting, and programming, including programs administered by states, territories and universities using USDA funds. The bill comes just weeks after President Joe Biden signed a massive, partisan $1.9 trillion spending package into law that includes a $5 billion agriculture debt relief program earmarked exclusively for non-white farmers. Wisconsin Republican, Representative Tom Tiffany, says, “it is fundamentally unfair for the government to treat farmers differently based on immutable characteristics.” Utah Democrat, Representative Burgess Owens, adds, “I’m deeply concerned that Congress feels emboldened to perpetuate a modern-day form of racial segregation rather than provide relief to those who need it most.” ************************************************************************************ AFBF Opposes Elimination of Stepped-Up Basis and New Capital Gains Taxes at Death American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the organization objects to a proposal by several lawmakers to tax unrealized capital gains at death and roll back the stepped-up basis on those capital gains. Duvall says, “Taxing capital gains when a loved one passes away would have a devastating impact on farm and ranch families.” Even more so, Duvall says, if the stepped-up basis tool is taken out of the toolbox. Stepped-up basis encourages families to grow their businesses and pass them on to another generation, and elimination could force those families to sell their farms just to pay the taxes. The value of many farms is tied up in land and equipment. AFBF says cash flow on most farms is much too small to pay large capital gains taxes. Farm Bureau says these taxes would cause further consolidation in agriculture, with small farms more likely to be forced out of business by the tax liability. ************************************************************************************ PMA, United Fresh, Announce Agreement to Form Combined Trade Group Leaders of the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association have reached an agreement to create a new global trade association. The agreement will combine the two groups. The two associations will continue to operate as independent organizations through 2021, with the new association to be launched January 1, 2022. A United Fresh spokesperson says, ”This agreement reflects the ongoing commitment of both associations to deliver the highest level of value to members.” Over the past several months, PMA CEO Cathy Burns and United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel have worked with a group of Board leaders from each association to develop the strategic commitments for the new association. The new association will be led jointly by Burns and Stenzel as Co-CEOs throughout 2022. After that time, Burns will become the sole CEO. Over the coming months, Burns and Stenzel will work with their staff teams and Board leaders to build out the new organization.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Some Hope for Ag Worker Program Bloomberg is reporting this week that a bill that would create a program to allow agricultural workers to earn legal immigration status has the potential to break through a partisan logjam in the Senate — if it is revised to address some “GOP concerns.” The Farm Workforce Modernization Act which passed the House earlier this month, would overhaul the immigration system for farmworkers and alter the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program, cementing a stable workforce for employers and more protections for laborers. “The bill has a lot of merit. I think there's an opportunity to improve it yet,” said Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, the top Republican on the Senate subcommittee that oversees conservation, climate, forestry, and natural resources matters. “I support the overall concept, but it needs some tweaks,” he said at the Capitol last week. Backers of the legislation also would have to bring on board Republicans who see a greater priority in stemming the growing numbers of immigrants coming over the border with Mexico, Bloomberg said. Most of the nation's roughly 2.4 million farmworkers are undocumented according to administration estimates — a problem for them, as well as for the farms and dairies that often struggle to find workers. “If this bill becomes law, these workers can avoid the lingering fear of deportation or their children's concern about whether their parents will come home from work each night,” said Janet Murguia, president and CEO of UnidosUS, a Latino civil rights organization. The House passed the measure spearheaded by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., on March 18 with 30 Republicans voting in favor — a wider margin of GOP support than for the American Dream and Promise Act that passed the same day. Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, plan to introduce the bill's companion, with Bennet optimistic more Republicans will sign on to fix systemic flaws in the farmworker immigration system. Republicans and Democrats who recognize the system's problems introduced a bill in 2019 that was passed by the House but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Industry groups, such as the United Fresh Produce Association, say reforms have been needed for decades. Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council, points to the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House as reasons the reintroduced bill could fare better this year — along with lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic. In its current iteration, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would give agricultural workers and their spouses and minor children a path to gain legal status through continued employment, with a path toward a green card. It would offer as many as 20,000 H-2A visas annually for three years for year-round agricultural employers, such as those in the dairy industry. The White House backed Lofgren and Newhouse's version of the bill. Many farm and food trade groups, including the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, also support the legislation. “Passing this bill would give these farm workers the chance to earn legal status and bring more certainty to farming operations across the country,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D., Ill., said. He urged the Senate to join the House in taking up the measure. Several farm-state Democrats point to a need for immigration system changes with the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, calling for “efforts to fix the system, including creating a pathway to citizenship for individuals and addressing inequities in guest worker programs.” However, top Republican senators are mixed on the legislation. Senator Crapo doesn't back the House version, press secretary Melanie Lawhorn said, adding that he and Bennet are working to put finishing touches on their own language. House Agriculture Committee ranking member Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., who voted for the original bill, suggested revisions, such as extending the time period required as an agricultural employee to maintain visa status and cutting a provision that would include H-2A workers under U.S. federal law that protects some workers with set employment standards. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., an Agriculture Committee freshman, plans to discuss the bill and weigh support for it at the Alabama Farmers Federation, his state's largest farm organization. “I told them, when I got on this committee, I'm going to bring everything to them,” he said at the Capitol. “I think they'll be pretty strong with it.” However, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee ranking member John Boozman, R-Ark., doesn't see an immediate future for the measure. Republicans have criticized the Biden administration over its immigration policies as migrants—especially unaccompanied children—continue to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border. “Now is not the time to take up this bill given the ongoing crisis at our southern border,” he said. “Our discussions on immigration must focus on ending the humanitarian crisis and securing the border before we move any other legislation that pertains to this issue.” So, we will see. Immigration continues to be among the hottest of hot button issues, although producers who depend on seasonal labor do provide a strong basis of support. The issue is clearly one producers should watch closely as it is debated Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


USDA Sets WHIP-Plus Closeout Deadline USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set April 16 as the deadline to have all Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP-Plus) applications finalized and approved for payment, effectively the closeout for the program. A signup deadline of October 30, 2020, was set for the program relative to 2018 and 2019 losses, and the April 16 date now marks a deadline for county FSA offices to have those applications finalized.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


Vilsack Signals TPA Renewal Request Coming There has been little from the Biden administration on the prospect for renewing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), but USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday made clear the administration will seek its renewal. Renewing TPA is “the only way, eventually, for us to have trade agreements that create that balance,” Vilsack said, noting there was a “very delicate balance” needed on several issues in a trade agreement. “So I'm hoping that Congress, during the course of this year, begins to get serious about resuming and extending Trade Promotion Authority, which will then give us the opportunity to complete negotiations.” Under TPA, an administration can negotiate trade deals and present them to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no amendments. Vilsack said at an event organized by the Virginia governor's office that it was a key for U.S. trade policy ahead since it prevents there from being “535 new negotiators” on trade deals—the 100 members of the U.S. Senate and the 435 House members. Vilsack also focused on enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in his remarks, noting the coming Mexican restrictions on imports of GMO corn. However, last week Vilsack noted that the coming rules in Mexico would not apply to corn imported by the country for feed use, but only that destined for human consumption. As for a U.S.-UK or U.S.-European Union (EU) trade deal, Vilsack stressed the need for a “science-based” set of trade rules. The British Ambassador to the U.S., Dame Karen Pierce, also addressed the meeting, noting their exit from the EU will potentially ease up the ability of the reaching a trade deal with the U.S. While not signaling a shift on GMOs, Pierce did state she believed that gene-edited products should be treated differently and not regulated like GMO crops. “We've requested public input on a possible change to regulations,” she noted. This appears to mark some of the first comments from the Biden administration on TPA and its renewal as the current authority expires in July.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. ISM's index of U.S. manufacturing for March is set for 9 a.m., followed by natural gas inventory from the Energy Department at 9:30 a.m. A monthly Fats and Oils report from NASS at 2 p.m. includes the soybean crush for February. U.S. futures markets are closed Friday. Weather With a front moving off the East Coast, quiet conditions are expected across the primary growing regions for Thursday, though there are some lake-effect snow showers in the eastern Great Lakes. Temperatures will be below normal for most of these areas as well. Temperatures below freezing Thursday morning and Thursday night could produce some light damage to vulnerable winter wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


Farmers Satisfaction with Inputs Has Room for Improvement A recent report from Biome Makers finds 84 percent of farmers have not found an input product yet that they find completely satisfying. The report, 2021 Trends and Challenges in Agriculture, is based on a survey conducted at the beginning of the year among nearly 100 farmers and agronomists worldwide. The report found ag-input satisfaction rates have ample room for improvement, and the costs of ag-inputs weigh heavily on farmers, as 39 percent selected ag-inputs as one of their top two major operation costs. According to the study, sustainable practices are increasingly being embraced and implemented by farmers. Cover crops, in particular, are one of the top sustainable management practices that 45 percent of farmers expressed a willingness to adopt. Climate change continues to be a considerable challenge this season, causing a variety of issues for 68 percent of farmers. However, only about a third of them have reported any involvement in carbon farming initiatives. ************************************************************************************ Iowa State Releases Custom Rates Costs Survey Iowa State recently announced results of the 2021 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey. The survey covers the amounts charged and paid for common crop and livestock services in the state. Tillage, planting, harvesting, manure hauling and livestock transportation are all included. Compared to last year, most custom rates saw a decline except for the cost of farm labor. The cost of combining corn ranged from $22 to $45 per acre, with an average of $35.10 per acre. The cost of combining soybeans ranged from $22 to $46 per acre, with an average of $34.20. The cost to mow hay ranged from $8 to $15 per acre. The average cost for baling small square bales was $.59 per bale, $9.35 for large square bales, $10.80 for large round bales without wrapping, and $13.20 for large round bales wrapped. Meanwhile, 14 percent of the respondents perform custom work, 16 percent hire work done, and 45 percent indicated they do both. ************************************************************************************ AEM Welcomes Legislation to Create Executive Branch Manufacturing Post The Association of Equipment Manufacturers applauds legislation that would create the Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy in the Executive Office of the President. A bipartisan group of senators this week introduced the bill, called the Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy Act. AEM President Dennis Slater says the new proposed office “will help ensure America's global leadership in manufacturing.” AEM was the first industry group to call for the creation of a Chief Manufacturing Officer and the development and execution of a national manufacturing strategy. Last spring, equipment manufacturers called on the federal government to develop and implement such a strategy. U.S. equipment manufacturers represent one in eight manufacturing jobs in the United States and support 2.8 family-sustaining jobs, highlighting the need for the office, according to AEM. Slater adds, “We urge lawmakers in both parties to support this important legislation and increase our nation's global manufacturing competitiveness." ************************************************************************************ Interior Disburses Nearly $249 Million to Gulf States for Coastal Conservation The Department of the Interior Tuesday announced nearly $249 million in Fiscal Year 2020 energy revenues to the four offshore Gulf oil and gas producing states. Those states are Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The funds, disbursed annually based on oil and gas production revenue, are used to support coastal conservation and restoration projects, hurricane protection programs, and activities to implement marine and coastal resilience. The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 created a revenue-sharing model for oil and gas-producing Gulf states to receive a portion of the revenue generated from oil and gas production offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The act also directs a portion of revenue to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The announcement represents the second-largest disbursement since the department first began paying revenues to states in 2009. Since enacted, Interior has disbursed over $1 billion to the coastal states to further conservation efforts of critical coastal wildlife habitats. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Oscar Gonzales as Assistant Secretary for Administration The Department of Agriculture this week announced the appointment of Oscar Gonzales as Assistant Secretary for administration. Gonzales, nominated by President Joe Biden, previously served in the Obama administration in several senior positions with USDA, including Deputy Assistant Secretary for administration. He also served as the California State Executive Director for USDA's Farm Service Agency, where he oversaw FSA programs across 58 counties in the nation's largest agricultural producing state. His government background includes working for top California leaders, including Governor Gray Davis and others. Most recently, Gonzales served as Vice President for Government Relations, Western States, for Goldman Sachs. Before that, he was Vice President for Community and Government Relations for Aura Financial. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Gonzales "has dedicated his life and career to fighting for underserved and marginalized communities." Vilsack says Gonzales will help USDA ensure equity across the department. Prior to serving in government, Gonzales worked with various nonprofit organizations. ************************************************************************************ Alltech ONE Ideas Conference returns virtually in 2021 Alltech’s global agri-food conference, the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference, returns virtually on May 25–27, 2021. Now in its 37th year, Alltech’s flagship event is an industry resource, with innovative ideas, inspiration and motivation from world-class speakers. The virtual platform provides on-demand tracks, streaming keynote presentations and live Q&A chats with select speakers. And this year, it will also offer an interactive networking experience, allowing attendees to connect with their peers from around the world. This year’s virtual event features sessions that will uncover the challenges and opportunities in the aquaculture, beef, business, crop science, dairy, equine, health and wellness, pet, pig, and poultry sectors. Each May, the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference typically attracts over 3,500 attendees from more than 70 countries to Lexington, Kentucky. In 2020, the event transformed into the Alltech ONE Virtual Experience and brought more than 21,500 registrants from 126 countries together online. Registration for the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference is now open at one.alltech.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


Washington Insider: GOP Senator Probes San Francisco Fed Research on Climate, Race The Hill is reporting this week that the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee asked the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to explain several recent research bulletins and seminars on racial economic disparities and climate change. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., asked Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Fed, to provide a briefing and a decade of records related to the reserve bank's economic research activities. “The Federal Reserve may pursue mission creep or welcome itself to political capture. But such activities are inconsistent with its statutory responsibilities,” Toomey argued. The San Francisco bank is one of the Federal Reserve system's 12 institutions, each responsible for conducting monetary and regulatory activities within a certain U.S. region. Each reserve bank is responsible for bank supervision and examination, lending to financial institutions, operating Fed services and reporting on the unique business environment and development within its respective district. The Fed system is funded with fees paid by banks and contributes billions of dollars annually to the Treasury. Reserve banks also publish economic research conducted by staff economists on a wide range of topics relevant to the Fed's mandate to foster maximum employment, stable prices and a secure banking system. Toomey argues, however, that “a sizable portion” of San Francisco Fed research focuses “on matters unrelated to monetary policy and how these impact narrow subgroups of people.” He specifically cited two San Francisco Fed blog posts on racial equity and a series of virtual seminars on the climate-related economic issues hosted by the bank. The San Francisco Fed has also published recent research on capital flow surges, the economic impact of school closures, inflation, community bank resilience and differences between the U.S. and other advanced economies in recovering from the COVID-19 recession. While Toomey criticized research from other reserve banks, he wrote that the “seemingly sudden and alarming inclusion of social research” at the San Francisco Fed “risks being of a bitterly partisan nature” and warranted a probe from the Banking panel. He asked Daly to provide a briefing for Banking Committee staff, all records related to the San Francisco Fed's climate seminar series, all documents related to climate change and racial justice research dating back to July 1, 2019, and 10 years of reserve bank's annual expenses on research and community outreach. “We have received and are reviewing Sen. Toomey's letter, and we look forward to discussing the contents with Sen. Toomey's office," a spokesman for the San Francisco Fed said. The Hill said that Toomey's letter “opens another front in the battle between Republicans and the Fed over the central bank's growing focus on climate change and other social issues GOP lawmakers consider irrelevant to its mission and Democrats consider essential.” Republicans have fiercely criticized the Fed for creating committees and investing in research related to the potential climate-related risks facing the banks it supervises. The Fed also has joined a global network of central banks and financial supervisors focused on climate change. Fed leaders have insisted that the bank will play no role in setting climate policy for the U.S., but rather focus on how climate change effects bank supervision. Even so, Republicans fear the bank could eventually steer credit away from certain energy sources — something the Fed has ruled out ever doing. Toomey and GOP lawmakers have also blasted moves toward climate and diversity policy from the Treasury Department and Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has faced intense blowback from Republican lawmakers after declaring climate change “an existential threat” that required action from the department. She has also opened the door to fiscal and regulatory policy designed to limit carbon emissions, but has not explained what form that would take. Gary Gensler, Biden's pick to lead the SEC, also irked Republicans when he voiced support for tougher climate, diversity and political spending disclosure rules for publicly traded firms. In fact, there is considerable intense debate over a number of Congressional and executive research topics—as well as Democratic interest in using the Congressional Review Act to overturn controversial Department of Health and Human Services rules passed in the final days of the Trump presidency. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., on Monday introduced a resolution of disapproval over the HHS "sunset" rule, which requires all 18,000 agency regulations to be reviewed every 10 years, or else they expire. However, provisions of that are available for only the first 60 legislative days of the new Congress and would end likely sometime in April. The resolution currently has no Senate co-sponsors. The CRA was a legislative tool favored by Republicans in the early days of the Trump administration and was used to strike down 14 regulations from the Obama era. But Democrats have been more reluctant to use it, partly due to concern over statutory language in the CRA that blocks the relevant agency from crafting another rule that's substantially similar. So, we will see. Clearly the administration and the Congress are interested in implementing changes, including prominently program changes to cut back on climate change—important proposals that should be watched closely as they are considered, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


WH Group Cites Illegal ASF Vaccine Use As Factor Tempering Chinese Hog Herd Expansion The use of illegal African Swine Fever (ASF) vaccines in 2020 was a factor which tempered the efforts to rebuild China's hog herd, according to the Ma Xiangjie, president of Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development, WH Group's domestic unit. In remarks to reporters after the release of WH Group annual earnings, Ma said commented on impact of illegal vaccines. “Since the second half of last year some pig producers in China, especially south of the Yangtze river, used some immature pig vaccines and caught African Swine Fever again," said Ma. The WH Group processed 46% of its hogs in China in 2020 compared with 2019 due to tight supplies, Ma, noted, with capacity utilization at its plants reduced to 30%. But imports of 700,000 metric tons of pork, beef and poultry helped make up with shortfall, with 70% of the imports coming from the U.S. Ma said the firm's Chines hog price forecast has been raised due to the impact from “toxic vaccines” and said the company was expecting 2021 meat imports rise as the firm was working to expand the range and volume of products from the U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


US Has Suspended Trade Relations With Myanmar The U.S. suspended trade relations with Myanmar after soldiers and police backing the military coup there killed more than 90 people. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Monday the U.S. was reviewing trade benefits for the country under the now-lapsed Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The U.S. imported slightly more than $1 billion worth of goods from the country, including around $621 million of apparel and footwear.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, the private firm, ADP, will have an estimate of U.S. payrolls for March, an early hint for Friday's unemployment report. The U.S. Energy Department will have a report on weekly inventories at 9:30 a.m. USDA's Prospective Plantings report and March 1 Grain Stocks are set for 11 a.m. CDT. As usual, the latest weather forecasts and any trade news will also be noticed. Weather A cold front situated across the Delta and Midwest will move southeastward with moderate scattered showers on Wednesday. Behind the system, temperatures are falling well below normal, inducing some freeze potential for portions of the Plains through Thursday morning and the eastern Midwest and Southeast through Friday morning. Temperatures will be on a rising trend thereafter. This could briefly affect vulnerable winter wheat, but the short duration should not have a profound impact.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Consumers Plan Record Spending on Easter Consumers plan to spend an average of $179.70 this Easter, the highest figure on record, according to survey results released by the National Retail Federation. A total of 79 percent of Americans will celebrate the holiday and spend a collective $21.6 billion, down slightly from last year's pre-pandemic forecast of $21.7 billion. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says, "There is a lot of momentum heading into the Spring and holiday events like Easter." The momentum is fueled by positive trends in vaccinations and growing consumer confidence. Easter gifts, food and candy are the biggest drivers of growth this year. Consumers plan to spend an average of $31.06 on gifts, $52.50 on food and $25.22 on candy. As more and more individuals become vaccinated, consumers plan to celebrate in ways they might have missed last year due to COVID-19. Consumers plan to celebrate by cooking a holiday meal, visiting with family and friends, planning an Easter egg hunt or attending church. ************************************************************************************ Fertilizer Prices Up Dramatically Fertilizer prices are up dramatically this spring, increasing input costs for growers. Data from the Department of Agriculture shows prices are up between 17 and 57 percent since the fall. David Widmar of Agricultural Economics Insights says that while nitrogen often gets the most attention, phosphorus prices are up the most. Anhydrous ammonia and urea are up 37 percent from the fall, but considerably smaller increases over Spring 2020. Meanwhile, liquid nitrogen prices are only up nine percent over last year, but 20 percent higher than last fall. The increase in fertilizer prices means fertilizer expenses are up $29 per acre than last spring, or 30 percent higher. However, Widmar notes, the increases follow a strong downturn a year ago, adding prices are up from historic lows and, for the most part, remain well below the levels of 2011-2014. The exception, however, is phosphorus fertilizer, up 51 percent compared to last fall. ************************************************************************************ Interior Joins Government-Wide Effort to Advance Offshore Wind The U.S. Interior Department is part of the Biden Administration's effort to boost renewable energy, including offshore wind generation. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland joined leadership of Energy, Commerce and Transportation at a White House forum Monday on the topic. The event included a commitment to establish a target to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, creating nearly 80,000 jobs. At the forum, leaders discussed key opportunities and challenges to ensuring domestic economic and employment benefits of aggressively expanding offshore wind. Interior announced the final Wind Energy Areas in the New York Bight – an area of shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for wind energy development. Additionally, the department is initiating the environmental review of the third commercial scale offshore wind project by announcing a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Ocean Wind, LLC’s proposed project offshore New Jersey. ************************************************************************************ USDA Restricts PACA Violators from Operating in the Produce Industry The Department of Agriculture Monday announced sanctions on five produce businesses. The sanctions are in response to the businesses failing to meet obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased and failing to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, or PACA. The sanctions include suspending the businesses’ PACA licenses and barring the principal operators of the businesses from engaging in PACA-licensed business. The businesses are Urban Fresh Produce of California, Sunrise Produce of Maryland, PFI Express and Temple Turmeric of New York and Eli Gonzalez Distributors of Texas. PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving transactions, which may result in a reparation order that requires damages to be paid by those not meeting their contractual obligations in buying and selling fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. By issuing these penalties, USDA continues to enforce the prompt and full payment for produce while protecting the rights of sellers and buyers in the marketplace. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Taper Off The national average price of gas and diesel fell for the second straight week, after a constant rise to start the year. GasBuddy reports the national average price of gasoline fell 2.7 cents to $2.84 a gallon, with diesel prices down 1.2 cents to $3.08 a gallon. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, "increases have largely tapered off, and we're now seeing decreasing prices in most areas of the country, thanks to oil prices that have moderated for the time being." However, demand is rising. According to a new dataset released by GasBuddy, U.S. gasoline demand continued to rise for the week ending March 27, as Americans continued to get outside amidst better conditions and fewer travel restrictions. National gasoline demand rose 1.95 percent. Weekly gasoline demand last week again set another new pandemic high, rising to just three percent above the last pre-pandemic figures from mid-March 2020, but still stand down several percentage points from what would be considered normal for late March.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Watching for Signs of Recovery Bloomberg is expecting more political fireworks this week as the Biden administration reveals some of the main elements of its coming infrastructure plan. President Joe Biden is expected to describe the “scope and ambition of his plans to expand and reorient the U.S. government, setting the stage for a bitter fight on Capitol Hill that could define his presidency.” Bloomberg said it expects the president will unveil the framework for a major infrastructure-and-jobs program Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Later this week he is expected to offer the first glimpse of his 2022 budget — which promises to redirect federal funds to areas such as climate change and health care. The announcements will include the first concrete details of the administration plan to overhaul federal spending, in a sales pitch without the immediacy of the pandemic emergency that he had for his first package. To succeed, it will have to convince the public and lawmakers on a multi-trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure and social safety nets, along with a revamp of the tax code to help address funding needs and widening inequality, Bloomberg said. “Successful presidents — better than me — have been successful in large part because they know how to time what they're doing,” Biden said Thursday when asked why he was pursuing the massive spending package instead of other legislative priorities, such as gun control. Infrastructure is “the place where we will be able to significantly increase American productivity, at the same time providing really good jobs.” While Biden has made clear his plans will include tax-policy changes to help fund what aides have laid out as a roughly $3 trillion long-term program, how specific he'll be on Wednesday is uncertain. His budget plan also won't include a comprehensive breakdown about the agency-by-agency spending increases the administration is seeking. “What the American people will hear from him this week is that part of his plan, the first step of his plan towards recovery which will include an investment in infrastructure,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, referring to plans for two separate proposals. “He's going to have more to say later in April about the second part of his recovery plan,” she added, which will include health care, childcare, and other social issues. They're “not quite at the legislative strategy yet,” and “the total package” is still being worked out,” she said. “But he's going to introduce some ways to pay for that, and he's eager to hear ideas from both parties as well,” she said. Bloomberg also says that a vehicle “miles traveled tax is no longer on the table as an option to pay for infrastructure projects.” After Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an interview on Friday that a vehicle miles traveled tax “shows a lot of promise,” a spokesperson for the department countered his comment. “The Secretary was having a broad conversation about a variety of ways to fund transportation,” Ben Halle, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said. “To be clear, he never said that VMT was under consideration by the White House as part of this infrastructure plan—and it is not.” In a political counter move by Democrats, Postmaster General DeJoy's 10-year plan for the USPS, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., on Friday introduced a bill that seeks to “ensure that the USPS maintains the 2-3 day standard delivery option,” the lawmakers said. The move came on the same day that the Postal Service filed a notice to its regulatory board seeking to push back the delivery time for priority mail and change the classification of printed materials to competitive products. The Postal Regulatory Commission will review the changes before they are scheduled to take effect, Bloomberg said. So, we will see. The administration's antivirus efforts and its new economic proposals are still big news items with the capacity to provide relief in the form of new jobs and economic growth — signs that are being watched closely as they appear, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Vilsack: Mexico GMO Restrictions Won't Affect Feed Asked how he will respond to Mexico's plan to stop importing genetically modified (GM) corn, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that Mexico is only considering such a ban for corn used in human food products, not animal feed. He called the distinction a “big difference here to producers in the United States.” He has been in contact with his Mexican counterpart and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the GM corn issue, noting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) includes provisions for formal consultations, and, if needed, a dispute resolution process. However, he stressed, “we're not anywhere near there yet,” referring to invoking dispute settlement provisions of the trade pact. “We're just having these conversations.” Bottom line, Vilsack said, “It is important to distinguish between what Mexico is currently thinking about doing, and the fact that it's not going to have as great an impact it would if it was everything all at once, all right now,” referring to fears of a broader GM corn import ban. This appears to clarify a situation which has caused major concern on the potential for U.S. corn and soybean exports to Mexico to be affected.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Vilsack Outlines Expectations On Climate Efforts USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said that climate-smart ag policies will include initial moves to harness existing conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). “Congress has basically authorized and approved up to [25] million acres to go into that program,” he explained. The data on what is currently in CRP is 20.8 million at the end of January, Enrolling an additional 4 million acres to meet the cap can “begin the process of addressing some of the challenges that we face” related to climate, he said. USDA may work with states to come up with ways to encourage farmers to enroll more marginal lands in CRP, potentially including additional incentive payments. A key will be ensuring a balance between promoting climate goals and not distorting markets in regions across the country, he added. For CRP and other USDA conservation programs, Vilsack said he hopes to focus them on climate-smart ag practices. “We need to provide incentives, we need to provide resources, we need to provide cost-share for all the activities that are currently taking place and see if we can expand them and build upon them.” Vilsack reiterated that harnessing carbon markets will be another focus and ensuring they serve the needs of farmers will be critical. “You can set up the prototype if you will, or the pilot, and then see how it works,” he said of an ag carbon bank, suggesting the move could tap extra funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Should the pilots prove successful “then we basically go back to Congress and say, 'How can we get this thing ramped up to a point where more and more farmers are participating?'”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Other than a report on U.S. consumer confidence at 9 a.m. CDT, there are no official reports on Tuesday's docket. Traders will examine the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sales news that might develop. Trading in grains will likely be quiet ahead of Wednesday's Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports. Weather A cold front from the Great Lakes southwest to the Texas Panhandle will lead to variable temperatures and breezy conditions Tuesday. Precipitation will be minimal, with a few showers in the Texas coast area. Rain becomes more prominent in the eastern Midwest, Delta and Mid-South Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


EPA States Position on RFS Exemptions Before the Supreme Court The Environmental Protection Agency filed a brief with the Supreme Court last week that lays out its new position on the Renewable Fuel Standard. A DTN report says the brief covered EPA’s view of the scope and purpose of the RFS, stating that three refiners who received RFS exemptions in 2017 and 2018 didn’t qualify for them. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that the agency violated the law when it granted the exemptions during the Trump administration. The January 2020 ruling led biofuel groups to push the former administration to apply the ruling nationally. The EPA brief also says that few refiners would be eligible for extensions if the law is followed. The Trump EPA granted 88 small-refinery exemptions between 2016 and 2020. The Tenth Circuit Court remanded three exemptions granted to refiners in Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Utah. In February of this year, the Biden EPA reversed the previous administration’s course and sided with the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling. Also in the Supreme Court brief, the EPA says the exemptions program was put into the RFS as a “bridge toward eventual compliance” for small refineries. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Hog Inventory Drops Two Percent The USDA says there were 74.8 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms as of March first. The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report says that the number is down two percent from March 2020, and three percent lower than December first of last year. Among the other key findings, the USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service says of the 74.8 million hogs and pigs, 68.6 million were market hogs, while 6.21 million were kept for breeding. Between December and February, producers weaned 33.3 million pigs, down one percent from the same period a year earlier. U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 10.94 pigs per litter between December and February of this year. Producers intend to have 3.07 million sows farrow between March and May of this year and 3.12 million sows farrow between June and August of 2021. Iowa hog producers have the largest inventory among the states at 23.8 million head. Minnesota was second with nine million head, and North Carolina was third at 8.5 million. To get an accurate measurement of the American swine industry, NASS surveyed almost 5,000 operators across the nation during the first half of March. The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report is available at www.nass.usda.gov. ********************************************************************************************** Sheep Industry Report Covers the Challenges and Positives in 2020 2020 was a year of ups-and-downs in the United States, and the sheep industry was no exception. COVID-19, major changes in processing, and changes in consumer behavior led to challenges for the U.S. sheep industry. However, there were also positives outlined in the 2020 Sheep Industry Review, a checkoff-funded report commissioned by the American Lamb Board and the American Sheep Industry Association. “COVID-19 made changes to the way U.S. consumers bought and consumed lamb last year,” says ALB Chair Gwen Kitzan. Commercial slaughter was down four percent last year when compared with 2019. Total sheep and lamb inventory decreased one percent to 5.2 million head. Leg, loin, and shoulder sales outpaced ribs. Weekly feeder lamb prices started off the year above 2019 ls but quickly dropped and stayed low through the summer before they rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2020. Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, the report estimates commercial lamb production will increase by three percent, and the year will bring a two percent increase in the commercial slaughter of American lamb. Imports will potentially drop as much as ten percent. Steady production, lower imports, and the lowest available supply since 2017 may set the stage for solid prices in 2021. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Corn Export Sales Jump Higher Corn sales to overseas buyers jumped higher over the seven days ending on March 18. The USDA says wheat and soybean sales declined during the same period. Corn sales totaled 4.48 million metric tons, up from 395,500 tons during the prior week. China was the big buyer at 3.89 million metric tons. South Korea was next with 353,300 metric tons, followed by Mexico in third place with 196,000 tons. Exports totaled just over two million metric tons, down seven percent week-to-week. Wheat sales dropped 12 percent week-to-week at 343,600 tons. That’s still 24 percent higher than the prior four-week average. Japan was the top wheat buyer at 118,800 metric tons, followed by South Korea’s 116,400 tons. Unnamed countries canceled shipments of just over 215,000 metric tons. Soybean sales were dismal at 101,800 metric tons, a 50 percent drop from the previous week and a 56 percent drop from the four-week average. Egypt was the top buyer with 109,700 metric tons. Unnamed destinations canceled purchases totaling 152,500 metric tons. Exports fell six percent week-to-week at 501,400 metric tons. ************************************************************************************ Report Highlights Need for Increased Ag Research Spending A new report says stagnant public funding for agricultural research is threatening the future vitality of U.S. food systems. That poses risks to farmer productivity and profitability, the steady supply of affordable food, and ultimately, global food security. The report is a joint effort from the Farm Journal Foundation and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The report highlights the vital importance of public funding for agricultural research and development. New innovations are crucial so farmers can increase their productivity and meet the rising global demand for food. The world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and food production will have to increase by 60-70 percent to meet the rising demand. While private-sector funding for agricultural R and D has been rising, U.S. public spending has been flat for the past ten years. “The U.S. has always been a leader in agricultural innovation, but we’re at risk of losing that advantage by falling behind the rest of the world in research and development,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. Tricia Beal, CEO of Farm Journal Foundation, says, “COVID-19 showed we need more research to deal with unexpected shocks and to find solutions that make our entire food system more resilient.” ********************************************************************************************** CCC Won’t Buy and Sell Sugar Under Feedstock Flexibility Program The USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation won’t be buying and selling sugar under the Feedstock Flexibility Program for the 2020 crop year, which runs through September 30 of this year. The CCC is required by law every quarter to announce its estimates of sugar that the agency will purchase and sell under the Feedstock Flexibility Program based on crop and consumption forecasts. Federal law allows sugar processors to get loans from USDA with maturities of up to nine months when the sugarcane or sugar beet harvest begins. On loan maturity, the sugar processor may repay the loan in full or forfeit the collateral sugar to USDA to satisfy the loan. The FFP got created as an option to avoid forfeitures on sugar loans. If the USDA faces the likelihood of loan forfeitures, it’s required to purchase surplus sugar and sell it to bioenergy producers to reduce the surplus in the food use market and support sugar prices. USDA’s most recent WASDE report shows that the U.S. ending sugar stocks are unlikely to lead to forfeitures, so USDA doesn’t expect to buy and sell sugar under FFP for the crop year 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US Manufacturing Momentum Grows Bloomberg is reporting this week that American manufacturing “continues to pour on the momentum” as the first quarter draws to a close, despite some supply-chain woes and rising materials costs that are inflaming the inflation debate. Freshly released March data show that an increasing number of factory purchasing managers are reporting faster expansion, Bloomberg says. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's index of general business activity soared to an almost five-decade high, while the IHS Markit's preliminary gauge of U.S. manufacturing was the second-strongest in data back to 2007. Orders continue to grow as the economy gathers steam, while inventories of finished goods and stockpiles of materials remain lean, a combination that should fuel even quicker production growth in the months ahead, Bloomberg says. Yet, challenges remain. Producers are struggling with some bottlenecks in the form of shipping and port delays as importers battle over a limited number of available containers. Those strains existed even before a ship stuck in the Suez Canal last week raised more questions about the potential for future delays or price increases. What's more, steady demand and shortages of supplies needed to manufacture goods have sparked price pressures for inputs. In February, the share of manufacturers who signaled slower delivery times approached 50%, according to Institute for Supply Management data. Excluding the period that followed the nation's shutdown to control the spread of COVID-19, that's the largest share since oil imports from Iran were disrupted in 1979. Meantime, producers are paying up for everything from copper and aluminum to crude and iron ore. The latest Philadelphia, New York and Richmond Fed surveys highlight growing materials inflation that risks filtering through to higher prices of finished goods for households and businesses. Fed Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers this week, however, that he views the current supply-chain bottleneck pressures on input prices as temporary. “We have been living in a world of strong disinflationary pressures, around the world really, for a quarter of a century,” Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. “We don't think a one-time surge in spending leading to temporary price increases would disrupt that.” New York Fed President John Williams, in a Wednesday event, noted that “we're still about 9 million jobs lower than we were a year ago in the U.S. economy, so I think that that's going to keep inflation pressures pretty low for some time.” Recent manufacturing figures for March support Powell's forecast. While regional Fed prices received indexes have been increasing, they're not keeping pace with prices paid. The Richmond Fed's latest manufacturing survey showed the region's manufacturers aren't expecting much more room to raise prices on their products. Respondents said they expected prices received to rise an annualized 3.57% six months from now. That compares with the 3.52% increase they're currently receiving, the smallest difference in seven months. A March survey from the Kansas City Fed showed that while nearly half of manufacturing firms were able to pass through a majority of materials price increases, just 8% said they could fully pass them through. In the meantime, the press took a dark view of the impacts of last week's accidental blockage of the Suez Canal. NYT said the event “called into question the global reliance on globalization.” Of course, the ship involved is not just any vessel, it is one of the world's largest container ships, with space for 20,000 metal boxes. And the Suez Canal is not just any waterway. It is a vital channel linking the factories of Asia to the affluent customers of Europe, as well as a major conduit for oil. The fact that one mishap could sow fresh chaos from Los Angeles to Rotterdam to Shanghai underscored the extent to which modern commerce has come to revolve around truly global supply chains—and their fairly recent dependence on “so-called just-in-time manufacturing.” Some experts have warned for years that short-term shareholder interests have eclipsed prudent management in prompting companies to skimp on stockpiling goods. The report cited Ian Goldin, a professor of globalization at Oxford University who said, no one could predict a ship going aground in the middle of the canal, just like no one predicted where the pandemic would come from. Just like we can't predict the next cyberattack, or the next financial crisis, but we know it's going to happen.” The canal's blockage, he says, affects roughly one-tenth of the world's trade—and has intensified the strains on the shipping industry, which has been “overwhelmed by the pandemic and its reordering of world trade.” If the Suez remains clogged for more than a few days, the stakes likely will rise drastically. Ships now stuck in the canal will find it difficult to turn around and pursue other routes given the narrowness of the channel. Those now en route to the Suez may opt to head south and navigate around Africa, adding weeks to their journeys and burning additional fuel — a cost ultimately borne by consumers. And, whenever ships again move through the canal, they are likely to arrive at busy ports all at once, forcing many to wait before they can unload—an additional delay. “This could make a really bad crisis even worse,” said Alan Murphy, the founder of Sea-Intelligence. So, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the implications of this accident—and what it might mean—and its implications for future US inflation. These are developments producers should watch very closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


EIA Details New Biofuel Information To Be Released The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said it will start publishing additional biofuels data in a monthly report to account for the increase in biofuel production. The report to be released March 31 will include expanded information on production capacity for biodiesel, fuel alcohol and renewable fuels along with expanded information on feedstocks used to produce those biofuels. Reuters previously reported the change was coming and could possibly be added to the WASDE report in May, the first 2021/22 forecasts from USDA.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


Vilsack Discusses China Phase One Progress While China is purchasing large amounts of many US ag commodities, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday (March 26) he thinks they could “be doing more” in some areas to meet their commitments under the US-China Phase One agreement. For corn, soybeans and many other commodities, Vilsack said China is “purchasing fairly significant amounts to the point where we're probably back to where we were pre-tariff and pre-pandemic.” However, China could ramp up imports of biofuels, distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and dairy, Vilsack said during an appearance at the National Press Club. Beyond those products, he said “there's still work to be done on the relationship,” noting overall US ag market share in China “has suffered as a result of the trade and tariff war.” Asked whether there was the need for any additional trade aid for farmers, Vilsack said no, noting high commodity prices and the rapid clip of purchases by China.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets There are no official reports on Monday's docket, but some state NASS offices will offer winter wheat crop ratings at 3 p.m. CDT. As usual, traders will check the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has a new export sale announcement. Weather Dry, warm and very windy conditions will cover the Plains and western Midwest Monday. This combination is leading to widespread high wind and extreme wildfire warnings. Precipitation will be confined to snow squalls in the northern Rockies. Outside the wind and fire threat area, conditions will favor field drying and spring fieldwork.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


Farm Groups Welcome USDA Pandemic Relief Agriculture groups applaud the Department of Agriculture for this week’s announcement of plans to distribute more than $12 billion under the Pandemic Assistance for Producers. The funding includes $6 billion to develop new programs or modify existing proposals using remaining discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Another $5.6 billion will be directed to formula payments to cattle producers and eligible flat-rate or price trigger crops. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s action to release funds and expand eligibility for farmers hit.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “This sensible approach will help reach farmers who have previously been excluded from relief programs and keep them in business.” The aid programs include biofuels, previously excluded from relief packages. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “Secretary Vilsack’s announcement that aid is on the way is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Sign-ups for the new program begin April 5, 2021. ************************************************************************************ NCBA: Grassley Bill Not Solution Industry Needs Senator Chuck Grassley this week introduced legislation to address transparency in the cattle market. The Iowa Republican, along with a bipartisan group of Senators, says the bill intends to foster efficient markets while increasing competition and transparency among meatpackers who purchase livestock directly from independent producers. This bipartisan bill will require that a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer's weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or spot market. However, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association does not approve of the legislation. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, “simply put, Senator Grassley’s bill misses the mark.” NCBA says any legislative solution to increased price discovery must account for the unique dynamics within each geographic region. United States Cattlemen's Association President Brooke Miller commended Grassley for introducing the bill. USCA says the '50-14’ or spot market bill, follows legislation already supported by USCA, the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021. ************************************************************************************ Business and Ag Groups Urge Rollback of Section 232, 301 Tariffs The National Foreign Trade Council this week re-launched the Tariff Reform Coalition. The coalition is a broad alliance of business and agriculture groups substantially harmed by the import tariffs imposed by the previous Administration. The group urges the rollback of Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs, saying the tariffs "are causing serious damage to those already struggling.” The coalition says the Biden administration needs to reassess the Section 232 and 301 tariffs, and Congress should hold hearings to see if the tariffs are achieving their objectives. The coalition says tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum should be removed, and use of other trade laws more consistent with the WTO should be considered to address the issue of overcapacity. The coalition includes the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Pork Producers Council, Farmers for Free Trade and others in the agriculture sector. The coalition made the requests in an advocacy document directed at the Biden administration and Congress. ************************************************************************************ Farmers for Free Trade Announces New Board Members Farmers for Free Trade Thursday announced five new Board members. Farmers for Free Trade is a coalition supported and comprised of America’s leading ag organizations and businesses. The new board members include Michael Anderson, trade and industry relations Vice President at the Corn Refiners Association, and Iowa corn farmer Bob Hemesath, a National Corn Growers Association member. Additionally, Angela Hofmann, co-founder of Farmers for Free Trade and Lauren Sturgeon, CoBank Government Relations Director, and Maria Zieba, National Pork Producers Council International Affairs Director, joins the board. Sara May, former President of Farmers for Free Trade, has retired from the board. Steve Noah, President of Farmers for Free Trade, says, "We're pleased with the diversity of interests on the Board of Directors." Brian Kuehl, Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director, says the new members have all built careers that reflect the organization's central mission to help deliver economic opportunity for American agriculture. ************************************************************************************ Anhydrous Ammonia Tank Recovered from Missouri River Federal, state, and local response agencies worked together last weekend to recover an anhydrous ammonia tank floating in the Missouri River. Recovered near Jefferson City, Missouri, the 1,500-gallon tank, including its wheeled chassis, was seen floating downstream last Friday. Given the tank contained anhydrous ammonia, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources requested Environmental Protection Agency’s support with recovery and disposal. The river was at flood stage Friday, and the EPA secured and recovered the tank Saturday. The tank was found intact and not leaking. A Missouri DNR representative says, “Without the collaboration from all teams, removing the tank from the Missouri River would not have been as successful.” Missouri Farmers Association, known as MFA, agreed to store the tank at its location in Jefferson City. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and MFA agreed to work together to find the tank owner. MFA will keep possession of the tank if no owner can be found.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Better Fish Food The New York Times is reporting this week on worries by the “world's foodies” over a potential “environmental mess” have eased some. The concern was that fish farms were gobbling up wild fish stocks, spreading disease and causing marine pollution. This week, some of the same experts who published that report issued a new paper concluding that fish farming, in many parts of the world, at least, “is a whole lot better.” The most significant improvement was that farmed fish were not being fed as much wild fish. In fact, they are eating more plants, such as soy meal. The study was highly sophisticated and synthesized hundreds of research papers over the last 20 years across the global aquaculture industry. The latest edition was published on Wednesday in the journal Nature. The findings are seen to have “real-world implications for nutrition, jobs and biodiversity,” the Times said. Aquaculture is a source of income for millions of small-scale fishers and revenue for fish-exporting countries. It is also vital if the world's 7.75 billion people who depend on fish and shellfish but want to avoid draining the ocean of wild fish stocks and marine biodiversity. This has led to concerns among some environmentalists about aquaculture's effects on natural habitats. The new paper found promising developments, but also lingering problems. And it didn't quite inform the average fish-eater what they should eat more of — or avoid. The report called the aquaculture industry “too diverse for broad generalizations,” according to Rosamond Naylor, a professor of earth systems science at Stanford University and the lead author of both the 2000 cautionary paper and the review published Wednesday. “The aquaculture industry includes over 425 species farmed in all sorts of freshwater, brackish water, and marine systems, so it doesn't make sense to lump them all together into a 'sustainable' or 'non-sustainable' category,” Naylor said. “It has the potential to be sustainable — so how can we ensure it moves in that direction?” Global aquaculture production has more than tripled in the last 20 years, producing 112 million metric tons in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics were are cited. China leads the way, producing more than half of all farmed fish and shellfish worldwide. Outside of China, Norway and Chile are big players, producing mostly farmed Atlantic salmon, while Egypt produces mostly the Nile tilapia. Most fish produced in Asia is consumed in Asia, meaning that it serves as an important source of protein for citizens of those countries. The study also found that the production of farmed seaweed and bivalves, like oysters and clams, had greatly expanded as well. That is perhaps the most encouraging news, because neither seaweed nor bivalves need extra food to reproduce. They filter nutrients from the water and, in turn, produce nutrition for human consumption. The study reported that freshwater aquaculture today accounts for 75% of farmed fish directly consumed by humans. Its most striking finding, though, concerns fish feed, the Times said, especially for carnivorous fish like salmon, which were traditionally fed lots of wild fish, like anchovies. Between 2000 and 2017, the study said the production of farmed fish tripled in volume, even as the catch of wild fish used to make fish feed and fish oil declined. Martin Smith, an environmental economist at Duke University who was not involved in the study, said the changes in aquaculture resulted partly from new regulations in some countries — rules in Norway, for instance, reduced the spread of sea lice in salmon farms — but mostly because the aquaculture industry had no reason to buy expensive wild fish feed once they had access to plant-based alternatives. “It was always in aquaculture's interest to reduce their most expensive ingredient,” said Smith, who teaches a class called “Should I Eat Fish?” “The language around aquaculture has been overly negative and overly pessimistic,” he thinks. “But also, the industry has gotten a lot better.” Still, problems linger, the authors of the latest study point out. Aquaculture needs better oversight to ensure that environmentally sustainable practices are followed and rewarded. Some countries need to better manage the use of antimicrobials in fish ponds to guard against drug resistant microbes. Aquaculture also remains vulnerable to extreme climate events and disruptions in global trade, such as those created by the coronavirus pandemic. And then there's the question of where the soy used for fish farming comes from. Pressure is mounting on the aquaculture industry to ensure that it does not source soy from deforested areas like the Amazon. “As is the case with all food systems, consumers must realize that there is no free lunch, but there are important choices that can be made with sufficient information,” Naylor said. So, we will see. Environmentalists are rarely happy with the way the world is going — and many would prefer totally plant based diets for more people, in spite of the extent that many of these products rely on manufacturing — and in spite of the frequent criticism that often surfaces for farmed fish. As a result, ag producers probably should be happy with the modest, if growing, areas of agreement recently observed and interpret those as possible future growth markets as they do tend to be, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


Administration, Groups Urge Supreme Court To Uphold Decision On Refinery Exemptions The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit which said EPA overstepped its authority when it granted small refinery exemptions (SREs) to three refiners for the 2016 compliance year. The court ruled the SREs should have only been made available to those refiners that had continuously received them previously. “By providing an initial, 'temporary' exemption that can be extended only under specified circumstances, Congress struck a sensible balance, giving small refineries time to develop compliance strategies while maintaining the ultimate goal of universal compliance,” the filing from the DOJ and EPA said. Filings by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and others echoed that view, saying the law supports the court decision and that the SREs “siphon a significant portion of renewable fuel blending requirements” called for under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case April 27.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


USDA Announces New Payment Effort, Resumes Some CFAP Actions USDA announced a new Pandemic Assistance Program (PAP) and said that it has completed a portion of the review of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). USDA said the new effort will reach more producers and it will make at least $6 billion available for the new program. Signup for CFAP 2 will be reopened for at least 60 days starting April 5. The new effort will target payments to a host of ag and other sectors, including biofuels. Additional payments under CFAP 1 will be made to cattle producers, with more than $1.1 billion in payments, but additional payments to hog producers and contract growers remain on hold and are “likely to require modification,” USDA said.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department releases U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending for February, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. Traders remain interested in the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales. Concerns about rising coronavirus infections in Europe were a bearish influence on Thursday's soybean oil price. Weather Friday brings showers to the Great Lakes with an easing of dry conditions. We'll also see light showers in the Southeast after the volatile severe weather events of Thursday. During the weekend, periods of rain will cross the central Plains and the Midwest, with heavier rain in the eastern Midwest and Delta Sunday.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


AFBF: Agriculture Must Be Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccine The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging the Biden administration to prioritize agriculture for the COVID-19 vaccine. In a letter sent to the administration Wednesday, AFBF President Zippy Duvall called for the elimination of barriers to vaccine access for America's farmers and farm workers. Duvall says, "This prioritization would ensure that planting, harvesting, processing, and distribution of human and animal food can continue to ensure our grocery shelves and food pantries remain stocked." The administration recently directed states to prioritize vaccines for teachers. AFBF's request that similar action be taken for agriculture is consistent with the recommendations of several medical and science groups, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While farmers and farmworkers in some states have been able to access the vaccine, AFBF says other states have not allowed food and agriculture workers priority access. Duvall asks the administration to "take additional action to eliminate any barrier to vaccine access for America's farmers and farm workers." ************************************************************************************ Farm Lending Pullback Continues Agricultural debt at commercial banks eased further at the end of 2020, and loan repayment problems moderated slightly, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. Research by the KC Fed released this week shows general improvement in the agricultural economy likely drove the pullback in farm lending activity and strengthened credit conditions. Higher crop prices and an influx of government payments in 2020 also contributed to stronger growth in deposits, which supported a sharp increase in liquidity at agricultural banks. Agricultural loan balances at commercial banks reached a five-year low in the fourth quarter and continued to shift toward farm real estate. Although the accumulation of farm debt remained higher than the average of the past ten years, the total value of farm loan portfolios fell five percent from the previous year. Moving forward, the research says the pace of lending to farmers may remain slower than in previous years, as 2020 government payments and recent strength in crop prices have improved borrower liquidity and farm balance sheets. ************************************************************************************ EPA Extends RFS Compliance Deadline The Environmental Protection Agency this week extended the compliance deadline for refiners to meet their Renewable Volume Obligations. EPA is extending the RFS compliance deadline for the 2019 compliance year and submission of reports for the 2019 compliance year for small refineries. The new deadlines are November 30, 2021, and June 1, 2022. EPA is also extending the RFS compliance deadline for the 2020 and the associated deadline for attest engagement reports. The new deadlines are January 31, 2022, and June 1, 2022. Finally, EPA is extending the attest engagement reports deadline for the 2021 compliance year to September 1, 2022. Following the Announcement, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor stated her organization is disappointed in the decision to agree to the deadline extension request by refiners. Skor says, “Refiners using COVID-19 as a pretext to attack the Renewable Fuel Standard is wrong, as biofuel producers were among the hardest hit by COVID-19.” ************************************************************************************ Equipment Manufacturers Report Positive Outlook for 2021 Equipment Manufacturers report a positive outlook for 2021, according to a new survey by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The survey found 88 percent of manufacturers report a positive outlook for 2021, while more than half expect sales to increase or remain stable despite the ongoing impact of the global pandemic. The online survey was targeted to employees of AEM member companies and includes results from more than 130 respondents, including CEOs, vice presidents, and sales and operations leaders, among others. AEM President Dennis Slater says, “Equipment manufacturers have begun to turn the corner.” Looking at the biggest challenges facing company executives and the equipment manufacturing industry as a whole in 2021, respondents indicated that the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and keeping employees safe and on the job remain the top concerns, followed by finding skilled workers for new jobs being created. One in eight respondents said that COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how they work. ************************************************************************************ Organic Valley Launches National Clean Energy Fund for Its Farmers Organic Valley is partnering with Clean Energy Credit Union to launch the Powering the Good Loan Fund. The fund seeks to provide the best loan terms for farmers seeking to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels with renewable energy and efficiencies. Organic Valley says the program is the first of its kind for both cooperatives, pioneering a unique clean energy loan fund for over 1,700 farmers across the country. To accelerate energy improvements, Organic Valley and Clean Energy Credit Union will roll out a $1 million fund with plans to expand. As the nation's largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative, Organic Valley pulls carbon out of the air through regenerative practices like rotational grazing, while also working to reduce carbon emitted wherever possible. Bob Kirchoff, Organic Valley CEO, says, “We are providing farmers a means to reduce their energy costs and become more self-sufficient and sustainable.” He says farmers who participate will contribute to a healthy, regenerative future for the next generation. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bureau Chief Economist Join Senate Ag Committee Staff Farm Bureau Chief Economist John Newton is joining the Senate Agriculture Committee staff. Newton will serve as Chief Economist for the Ranking Member John Boozman, an Arkansas Republican. Boozman announced the appointment of 15 staff members this week. The Senator says, “I am excited to move forward with this accomplished team.” AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “Although I am sorry to see John go, I am also pleased to know he will serve in such an important role.” Before joining AFBF, he served as the chief economist for the National Milk Producers Federation. Newton holds a doctorate in agricultural economics and master’s degrees in macroeconomics and agricultural economics, all obtained at Ohio State University. Boozman also added Pam Miller as a Senior Professional Staff member. Miller previously served as the administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. And, Martha Scott Poindexter returns to the Committee as staff director for the Republican side. She had previously led the committee staff from 2005-2010.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Administration Begins Discussion on Water Infrastructure Bloomberg is reporting this week that the proposed Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 is beginning to be discussed in both chambers. It says that Senate proposals would invest more than $35 billion in water resource development projects across the country. A major target of the effort is to authorize two critical EPA programs—the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) — which provide financial aid to localities' drinking water systems and to state safe water programs, as well as loan financing and assistance for communities for a range of water infrastructure projects. The legislation would reauthorize the DWSRF at $2.4 billion in fiscal 2022, gradually increasing that amount to $3.25 billion in fiscal years 2025 and 2026 for a total of $14.7 billion. It would increase the minimum percentage of those too be aimed for “disadvantaged communities” from 6% to 12%. The CWSRF would be reauthorized at the same funding levels between fiscal years 2022 and 2026 as the DWSRF. The legislation also would re-up the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act through 2026 at the current funding level of $50 million per year. “Rebuilding our water infrastructure must be at the heart of the ongoing 'Build Back Better' efforts because we will have missed a huge opportunity to improve American lives if we only fix our roads, but fail to repair and upgrade the pipes beneath them,” said lead author of the bill Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. The legislation “begins to bridge the growing gap in federal cost-share of water infrastructure,” wrote Adam Krantz, chief executive officer of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, in a letter to EPW leadership. “Overwhelmingly, the increasing costs of these essential public services are borne by local ratepayers – with no reliable safety net for households when costs are unaffordable.” On the House side, the Energy and Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure panels both have jurisdiction over water issues. T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., has unveiled legislation that would authorize $40 billion over the next five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have introduced a $300 billion infrastructure package that includes $51.6 billion to protect Americans' drinking water “by extending and increasing funding for the State Revolving Loan Fund and other safe water programs and providing substantial new funding for the replacement of lead service lines that threaten public health,” a committee fact sheet said. Even as Congressional majorities are beginning to discuss new projects, Republicans signaled they “aren't ready to engage in bigger infrastructure discussions.” Democrats say they hope for a bipartisan bill, but advocated for a broad definition of infrastructure that Republicans rejected. House Ways and Means ranking Republican Kevin Brady, Texas, said no Republican members in the committee joined “because Democrats over-politicized the infrastructure process.” Also this week, USDA said the government should be prepared to support prices farmers receive for carbon credits but “avoid setting up a federally run carbon market that would compete with nascent private markets.” Robert Bonnie, the department's main climate adviser, said a key way the agency can work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be by making purchases to bolster prices of the credits, which farmers can sell for switching to practices that reduce emissions or sequester carbon. In addition, the Federal Reserve said it is planning to make climate change a major part of its Wall Street oversight by creating a new committee that will identify and respond to dangers from a warming planet to the financial system. The Financial Stability Climate Committee will be “charged with developing and implementing a program to assess and address climate-related risks to financial stability,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in a speech yesterday. Also, Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little told a House Natural Resources subcommittee Tuesday that Democrats' efforts to protect federal land as wilderness and other designations “could prevent states from getting control of climate change-driven wildfires.” Little urged the Biden administration to “scale up” its management to deal with the effects of climate change by allowing workers to log forests to reduce the wildfire threat. Democrats, however, said land use changes from logging and oil and gas development are driving climate change and their impacts need to be considered in federal land decisions, including wildfire mitigation. At the same time, some Democrats are continuing to target fracking. Reps. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., plan to reintroduce a package of five bills to hold big oil and gas companies accountable to national standards for water and air protection. The measures would close the “aggregation exemption” written into the Clean Air Act for oil and gas activities, require increased regulation of waste from production activities, require an Interior study on stormwater runoff, repeal an exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and require testing of underground sources of drinking water in connection with fracking. So, we will see. Clearly, the Biden administration is taking concerns about climate change seriously, along with more limited threats to the environment. These are policies and proposals that producers should watch closely as the continue to emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


USDA To Pursue Rulemaking On RFID Tags USDA announced it will not finalize a plan put forth by the Trump administration to approve Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags as the official eartag for interstate movement of cattle, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will use the rulemaking process for future actions on RFID tags. APHIS said his means that all current approved ID methods can be used until further notice. The agency said they will “continue to encourage the use of RFID tags” while rulemaking is pending as they believe the tags provide the “best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases.” USDA in July 2020 had issued a notice seeking public comment on making RFID the only ID devices approved for cattle and bison laying out a timeline of no longer allowing the official USDA shield to be used on metal or other tags that did not have RFID components starting January 1, 2022, and would make RFID tags the only official ID tags effective January 1, 2023.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


Vilsack Initial Discussion With China Counterpart Yields Little Fresh Information USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with Chinese Minster for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian, with the two agreeing that it was “important” for the two sides to “work together and address areas of common concern.” A USDA spokesperson said that Vilsack did “raise concerns” about Chinese trade barriers, but provided no information on any specific issues that he raised. The two also discussed the “positive role agriculture can play in addressing climate change.” The two agreed to “discuss these issues further” in the future. As has been the case with initial readouts of discussions between U.S. and foreign officials early in the Biden administration, there are few details being offered about the specific issues raised and thus it is hard to determine what kind of progress, if any, may have been made. But these initial sessions are never expected to be ones where significant breakthroughs take place. If anything, they are more of a “meet-and-greet” effort to hopefully set the stage for detailed discussions or resolutions in the future.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday looks busy with USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, report on fourth-quarter U.S. GDP and the U.S. Drought Monitor all out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly report of natural gas inventory. USDA follows at 2 p.m. CDT with its quarterly report of hogs and pigs inventory. Weather forecasts and any fresh export sales will also be noticed. Weather Thursday features moderate to locally heavy rain in the Delta and Mid-South, along with periods of snow in the Northwest. Areas with rain will have field work disruptions along with a threat of flooding. Heavy rain potential moves into the eastern Midwest Thursday night. Dry northern areas will again be bypassed by precipitation.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


USFRA Announces Growing Commitment to Future of Agriculture U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action celebrated National Ag Day by announcing the growing list of companies, organizations and individuals who have joined the Decade of Ag. The program is the first sector-wide movement to align to a shared vision for the next decade centered around investing in the next generation of agricultural systems, restoring the environment, regenerating natural resources and in doing so, strengthening the social and economic fabric of America. USFRA CEO Erin Fitzgerald says, “These leaders are stepping up in action to collaborate for meaningful impact.” The shared Decade of Ag vision is for a resilient, restorative, economically viable and climate-smart agricultural system. The Decade of Ag vision was a two-year process finalized at USFRA's annual Honor the Harvest Forum in the fall of 2020. USFRA says the case for food and agriculture to become the first U.S. economic sector to become carbon negative is promising, but more collaboration, partnerships and investment are needed to accelerate progress and make a meaningful impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. ************************************************************************************ Pro Farmer Survey Predicts Record Corn and Soybean Acres A survey from ProFarmer predicts farmers will plant a record number of corn and soybean acres this year. The Pro Farmer/Doane survey revealed total area planted to crops in the U.S. is expected to rise to 319.4 million acres. That would be up nearly three percent, or 8.9 million acres, from 2020. If the survey findings hold true, it also means U.S. acreage will hit the highest level since 2018. The survey projects total corn and soybean plantings at a record 182.3 million acres, which would be up 8.4 million acres from last year. Total acres planted to corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton, are expected to rise 9.5 million acres from last year. USDA's 2021 Ag Outlook Forum in February provided an initial look at acreage. USDA's new chief economist, Seth Meyer, released projections showing the agency expects farmers to plant 90 million acres of soybeans this year and 92 million acres of corn. Combined, that would be a new record. ************************************************************************************ AFBF: U.S. Must Enforce Trade Agreements with Mexico The American Farm Bureau Federation and 26 other industry groups urge the Biden administration to enforce U.S. trade agreements with Mexico. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall states, “recent moves by Mexico to limit American imports and to undercut prices in the U.S. puts America’s farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage.” In a letter, the groups ask Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to tackle various trade issues with Mexico. On December 31, 2020, the Mexican government issued a Presidential Decree stating the intention to phase out the use of glyphosate and use of genetically modified corn for human consumption. The groups say that while the standing of the Decree is unclear and the scope is vague, the Decree creates a significant risk and uncertainty to trade of corn and corn products with Mexico. Other issues include dairy trade, organics, meat industry access and geographical indications and biotechnology approvals, among others. ************************************************************************************ New Report Details Connection Between Conservation Practices and Farm Profitability A new report from the Soil Health Partnership details the financial impact of conservation tillage and cover crop usage among Midwest corn and soybean growers. Titled Conservation’s Impact on the Farm Bottom Line, the project was done in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund. Based on an analysis of farm operations, management practices and financial records, the project team identified three key takeaways. The first is conservation tillage reduces operating costs, resulting in higher net returns per acre among study participants. Meanwhile, cover crops can be part of a profitable farming system, especially as experience with the practice grows. Finally, success with conservation practices is optimized when farmers take a targeted, stepwise, tailored approach to implementation. The hope with this project, according to the National Corn Growers Association, is that analyses like this will encourage continued and expanded support for farmers, both technical and financial, as they transition to conservation practices in the future. ************************************************************************************ USDA Awards Over $11.5 Million to Help Small and Mid-Sized Farms The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced $11.5 million for research to ensure small and medium-sized farms become more profitable. Announced on National Ag Day, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the funding "will give these family farms the tools they need to be more sustainable, profitable and productive as they face agricultural and economic challenges. USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded 24 grants to 20 universities and organizations through their Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the nation's leading and largest competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. These research efforts focus on alternative crop enterprises, marketing, and scaling up fruit and vegetable production to overcome marketing constraints. By focusing on these key elements, USDA says small and medium-sized farm operators can increase their competitiveness in local markets and can provide greater access to food for their communities, something USDA says is extremely critical as we build back a stronger, more equitable food and farming system. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $266 Million to Improve Rural Communities Facilities The Department of Agriculture is providing more than $200 million for rural community services. USDA undersecretary for rural development, Justin Maxson, announced the funding Tuesday. USDA will invest 266 million to build and improve critical community facilities to benefit nearly three million rural residents in 16 states and Puerto Rico. This funding includes $156 million to support health-care-related improvements and emergency response services that will benefit nearly one million rural residents in nine states and Puerto Rico. Maxson says the funding will “spur community development and build sound infrastructure like hospitals and medical facilities to help rural America build back better and stronger.” Specifically, USDA is investing in 41 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The assistance will fund a variety of essential community services, including emergency response vehicles and equipment. The investments are going to Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Puerto Rico.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Administration's Large-Scale Economic Plan Bloomberg is reporting this week that the White House is preparing to send to the president a large-scale economic plan that's “expected to make infrastructure and climate change its leading priorities.” The proposed programs are expected to include as much as $3 trillion worth of measures to include in the long-term economic investments that will follow the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill signed earlier this month. Infrastructure and climate change have long been described as major priorities in the proposals and new details show the administration is looking at some $400 billion for so-called green spending, according to persons involved in the effort. The plan also addresses investing in human capital, with tuition reductions proposed for minorities along with health care initiatives. Unlike the COVID-19 emergency-spending program, the longer-term proposals will feature a major revenue-raising effort. Bloomberg said increasing corporate taxes and rates for the wealthy are expected to be core components of what's set to amount to the biggest tax increases since the 1990s. The New York Times and Washington Post both reported earlier on White House discussions of the new investment program that Bloomberg says likely will be divided into two main components. The $3 trillion investment figure compares with economists' estimates that ranged of around $2 trillion to $4 trillion. Bloomberg noted that no final spending total has yet been decided on and $3 trillion is what will be presented for consideration at this time. In related news, Bloomberg said that the rich got richer in the U.S. last year, as wealth created by rebounding stock and real-estate markets skewed toward high earners. The richest 1% of households saw their net worth rise by some $4 trillion in 2020, meaning that they captured about 35% of the new wealth generated nationwide, according to the latest quarterly study of household wealth from the Federal Reserve. The poorest half of the population, by contrast, got about 4% of overall gains, Bloomberg said. Widening wealth gaps during the pandemic have become a key driver of Biden administration policy, cited by officials as reasons for the proposed tax increases on high-income groups. In the meantime, the administration is coming under increasing pressure to respond to a growing crisis at the border, with the surge of migrants fleeing Central America showing no signs of abating. In response to the new pressure, the president sent two top White House officials to Mexico and Guatemala this week for talks in his latest attempt to stem the flow of illegal migration. The trip comes as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote to the White House to urge the president to use his “full authorities” to respond to the “border crisis.” The letter argued that “immediate action” is needed to ensure there's enough space to house migrants and to improve the asylum process. Roberta Jacobson, the coordinator for southwest border affairs, and the National Security Council's Western Hemisphere Director Juan Gonzalez will meet with senior leaders in Mexico and Guatemala to “develop an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration,” NSC spokeswoman Emily Horne told the press. They plan to discuss ways to stop the migrants from traveling north to the U.S. border as well as strategies to address the root causes of the migration, such as corruption, violence and poor economic conditions in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The surge has been increasingly embarrassing for the administration given its promises to liberal activists for a more humane immigration system. That pledge has come under increasing fire from conservatives – joined by some Democrats from border states – who are pressing the president for a firmer policy to deal with migrants seeking asylum. The influx of border crossings is especially pronounced among unaccompanied children and teenagers, creating a humanitarian predicament and political problems for the White House. President Biden said Monday that he plans to visit the U.S.-Mexico border “at some point” for a first-hand look at conditions. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said today said the U.S. has amplified warnings to people in Central America not to come, citing more than 17,000 radio ads aired in the region by the State Department. At the same time, she denied the situation amounts to a crisis. “Children presenting at our border who are fleeing violence, who are fleeing prosecution, who are fleeing terrible situations, is not a crisis,” she said. “We feel that it is our responsibility to humanely approach this circumstance and make sure they are treated and put into conditions that are safe.” Also this week, the recently confirmed U.S. Trade Representative held her first meetings with counterparts from the European Union and the UK, Bloomberg said. Participants are hoping they can resolve the dispute over subsidies to manufacturers Boeing and Airbus. Katherine Tai and European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis discussed “their strong interest” in resolving the dispute, Tai's office said. In a separate meeting with British Trade Secretary Liz Truss, Tai agreed to partner with the nation toward the same goal. The new administration's trade objectives have been dampened somewhat as a result of the recent fractious sessions with China in Alaska. Follow-up efforts have concentrated on reassuring investors in important sectors of the U.S.-China markets and downplaying potential long-term concerns. At the same time, it is clear that China is a major market for U.S. ag products and producers should watch those trends closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


USDA Increases SNAP Benefits With Funding From American Rescue Plan USDA on Monday announced a 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through September 2021, providing an estimated $3.5 billion to households experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was part of the American Rescue Plan. The 15% increase in SNAP benefits will provide about $28 more per person, per month, or more than $100 more per month for a household of four, in additional SNAP benefits. “We cannot sit by and watch food insecurity grow in the United States,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The American Rescue Plan brings help to those hurting the most due to the pandemic. It increases SNAP benefits so households can afford to put food on the table. It invests in working people and small towns and small businesses to get the economy back on track. And it makes the most meaningful investments in generations to reduce poverty.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


Ag Groups Press For Action On US-Mexico Issues Under USMCA U.S. ag and commodity organizations continue to press the Biden administration on agricultural trade issues with Mexico, calling for continued action on implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The groups highlighted several existing and emerging friction points in U.S.-Mexico ag trade relations, including actions related to biotech crops, organics, market access and enforcement of European Union (EU) geographic indications (GIs). The groups noted that biotech crop issues and Mexico's actions on glyphosate are significant issues and create “a significant risk and uncertainty to cross-border trade of corn and corn products.” The groups also noted that U.S. dairy market access to Canada remains an issue that needs to be addressed. The groups' letter came as newly installed U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai held virtual discussions with her Canadian counterpart on USMCA and other issues.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets A report on February U.S. durable goods orders is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT and don't be surprised if it is less than expected, as many reports for that cold February have been. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. and traders will check in on last week's ethanol production pace, in addition to the latest weather forecasts and export sales news. Weather Rain showers will cover much of the Great Lakes and portions of the eastern Midwest Wednesday. Snow showers will also occur in the far southwestern Plains along with portions of the Northwest. These occurrences continue the unsettled pattern over the central U.S. which will remain through the end of the week. The pattern turns drier during the six to ten-day period.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


FFA Students Share Ag Story for National Ag Day This week, students from around the country will be busy sharing the importance of agriculture. It’s all in celebration of National Ag Day, which is Tuesday, March 23. The day celebrates agriculture and provides an opportunity for those in the industry to share the importance of agriculture with a broader audience. The future of agriculture is strong, and this is evident in the many student-led agriculture organizations. This week, students from FFA, 4-H, Agriculture Future of America, and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences will share information on the critical role agriculture plays in our culture and economy. An FFA news release says, “National Ag Day gives students from agriculture youth organizations the chance to work together and share the importance of agriculture and agricultural education with our national government leaders.” Students will also learn skills this week that they can use as they go forward in their lives and strengthen agriculture along the way. All this week, student leaders will work together virtually to discover how they can continue to be advocates for agriculture while telling the vital story of ag throughout the nation. For more information on those events, go to www.FFA.org. ********************************************************************************************** White House Proclamation on National Ag Day To celebrate National Ag Day on Tuesday, March 23, the White House issued a proclamation regarding the value of agriculture to the country. “We recognize the unique and irreplaceable value that farmers, ranchers, foresters, farmworkers, and other agricultural stewards have contributed to the nation’s past and present,” the White House says. America’s agriculture sector “safeguards our nation’s lands” through sustainable management; ensures the health and safety of animals, plants, and people; provides a safe and abundant food supply and facilitates opportunities for prosperity and economic development in rural America. “Over the last year, workers and other leaders across the ag sector have stepped up to ensure a stable food supply in the face of COVID-19 challenges,” the proclamation adds. “Farmworkers, who have always been vital to our food system, continued to grow, harvest, and package food, often at great personal risk.” The White House also says local farmers helped meet their communities’ needs by selling food directly to consumers. The White House notes, “These collective efforts helped get food to millions of adults and children in America when it needed food the most.” ********************************************************************************************** Rural Mainstreet Index Rockets to New High The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index climbed above growth neutral for the fifth time in the past six months. The monthly survey of bank CEOs in a ten-state region dependent on agriculture and energy shows the index increased to its highest level since the survey launched in 2006. The overall index for March hit a record high of 71.9 from a solid February reading of 53.8. The index runs from zero to 100, with 50 representing growth neutral. Almost 70 percent of the bank CEOs said their local economy is expanding, while the rest say they’re in a state of little or no growth. “Sharp gains in grain prices, federal farm support, and the Federal Reserve’s record-low interest rates have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet economy,” says Dr. Ernie Goss of Creighton University. “Only three percent of the bank CEOs indicated worse economic conditions compared to the previous month.” However, Goss also admits that rural economic activity remains below pre-COVID levels. The farmland price index moved above growth neutral for the sixth-straight month. The March reading is 71.9, the highest level since 2012. The March farm equipment-sales index hit 63.5, the highest level since 2013. ********************************************************************************************** Utah Egg Producers to be Cage-Free by 2025 Another state will require egg producers to turn to cage-free production methods by 2025. Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill last week that prohibits producers from confining hens in cages beginning on January 1 of 2025. It also requires farmers to provide amenities that allow egg-laying hens to exhibit their “natural behaviors,” such as hen perches, nest boxes, and scratching areas. Utah joins other states like Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, and Colorado in eliminating cages. Josh Balk of the Humane Society says Utah’s law is part of a rapid industry shift toward cage-free production methods, noting that “nearly 30 percent of the industry is cage-free.” ABC TV in Utah says egg-laying hens can be raised in an indoor environment as long as they have enough room under the United Egg Producers’ Animal Husbandry Guidelines for U.S. Egg-Laying Flocks. Someone found in violation of the new law could face a fine of $100 per every written notice, regardless of the number of violations identified in the notice. The Humane Society also says Utah’s approximately five million hens will be able to “run around and stretch their legs in cage-free barns.” ********************************************************************************************** Railroads Combine to Form First “USMCA Rail Network” Canadian Pacific Railway and Kansas City Southern have come together in a merger agreement worth approximately $29 billion. The transaction has the unanimous support of both boards of directors. Following final approval from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, the transaction will form two railroads that create the first rail network connecting the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The two railroad systems come together in Kansas City and will connect customers via single-network transportation offerings between points on CP’s system in Canada, the U.S. Midwest, and the U.S. Northeast, as well as points on the KCS system through Mexico and the Southern U.S. The two companies say their combined network’s new single-line offerings will deliver dramatically wider market reach for customers served by CP and KCS, provide new competitive transportation service options, and support North American economic growth. Additionally, the expected efficiency and service improvements should achieve meaningful environmental benefits. Mike Steenhoek (STEEN-hook), Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, says it’s normal to have concerns about a merger like this. “It’s healthy to be concerned, given how past mergers and acquisitions resulted in a reduction of rail service access rates or increased rates among agricultural shippers,” he says. “However, there’s also little service overlap between the rail companies, which means this proposed merger may result in increased service options.” *********************************************************************************************** Soils Warming Across the Corn Belt The Corn Belt has seen warmer-than-normal temperatures in most of March. A Successful Farming article says the big questions are will soils be warm enough for on-time planting, and will there be enough soil moisture? Weather Trends 360 says mostly warmer trends through the end of March will likely help soils warm-up well through early spring. However, the occasional cold front shouldn’t be ruled out yet, with the biggest risk of short-term, below-normal temps in the Northern Plains and western Corn Belt. The bigger concern in this area is a shortage of rainfall that might continue. Weather Trends 360 says areas of below-normal rainfall are expected in parts of the Northern Plains and the western Corn Belt. The one good thing about the drier weather is the reduced risk of flooding in most of the Midwest. Recent heavy rains caused some flooding in the lower Missouri and Ohio River Valleys, but the overall threat for widespread flooding is very low.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inflation Debate Intensifies Bloomberg is reporting this week that the idea that it is safe for governments to borrow and spend more money – so long as they can get hold of it cheaply, is attracting new attention. However, the report says that “as a guide to policy, the doctrine has a blind spot.” Because even after arguing the point for a couple of centuries, economists find it hard to pin down what drives long-run interest rates. “The greatest area of uncertainty in any forecast really concerns interest rates,” Laura Tyson, a senior economic adviser to the Clinton and Obama administrations. “The profession has not been great at timing either the direction or the amount.” Those are crucial questions as governments try to figure out how much it's safe to spend on pandemic recovery – and for investors wondering if this year's surge in sovereign-bond yields is a blip or the start of an important new trend. For years, estimates of future borrowing costs have tended to be too high – leading to projections of bigger debts and helping deter public spending. Some worry the opposite could happen now: politicians will grow complacent about low interest rates, borrow and spend too much, then get a nasty surprise when they spike. But there's a growing school of economic thought that says that governments and central banks play a bigger role in shaping interest rates than the mainstream acknowledges. This could mean that countries can turn their own borrowing costs into “policy choices,” instead of a price that gets discovered in the marketplace. It's not a new idea, says Paul McCulley, the former chief economist at Pimco. “The central bank has always had more power over long rates than the consensus thought,” he says. “They just weren't exercising it.” Now, they are – one way or another, Bloomberg says. The Bank of Japan has been explicitly targeting government borrowing costs for years, under a policy known as yield-curve control. Australia followed suit during the pandemic. But central bankers, often the main buyers of sovereign debt nowadays, have other ways to steer the yields without officially making them a policy tool. European Central Bank officials, for example, acknowledge off the record that they manage the cost of borrowing for euro-area governments via bond purchases, Bloomberg says. Sometimes the idea on its own is enough, says McCulley, who now teaches at Georgetown University. Once central banks acknowledge they have that power, “and the market agrees with that, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” The concern about such policies has been that politicians will spend their countries into bankruptcy or hyperinflation without some kind of external discipline. Once, financial markets were thought to provide it. More recently the task has been assigned to central banks which were walled off from the rest of government so they can focus on nipping any signs of inflation in the bud. Key parts of that intellectual edifice have crumbled, however. Bigger budget deficits and debts, one of the things that were supposed to push interest rates higher, didn't do so. Politicians pivoted to austerity anyway, without much of a push from the markets--and economies suffered a lackluster recovery as a result. COVID-19 is now being seen as different. Spending by governments has been the key to recovery – and the frameworks for assessing how far they could safely go didn't seem much use. Typically based around budget deficits or national debts as a share of the economy, traditional fiscal guidelines didn't have a role for interest rates – as debt has become cheaper to service even as it grew bigger. Even the Euro area, which enforces a strict version of the old-school rulebook, threw it out in the pandemic. So, economists are now working on new rules, Bloomberg says. In a November paper, Jason Furman and others argued that the interest payments a government has to make every year are a better benchmark than its total debt or annual deficit. The idea carries weight in the Biden administration Bloomberg says and notes that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen agrees with it. Furman says that the rule of thumb advocated in his paper – keeping real debt-service costs below 2% of GDP – is applicable regardless of who's right in the debate about what drives interest rates. “Can central banks decide one variable? Yes. Can they simultaneously decide three variables? No,” he says. “You can do financial repression for a while,” but that just makes it harder to meet other targets like keeping inflation under control. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) agrees that inflation is the ultimate yardstick for policy. But it has different ideas about how governments pay for their spending – and what determines long-term interest rates. While some economists favor explanations such as ageing populations, rising inequality and capital-saving technology, the MMTers believe that when central banks persist in keeping short-term borrowing costs low, they shape long rates too. And MMT economists see the debate increasingly shifting in their favor. Countries that borrow in their own currencies can't go broke, they say, and the real risk of overspending is inflation not bankruptcy. Now the MMTers would like the profession to take another step in their direction by acknowledging that governments can manage their own borrowing costs. In the mainstream models, even low interest rates face the danger of spiking that threatening economic plans, says Scott Fullwiler, an MMT economist and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “They haven't put into this framework that the interest rates are a policy variable.” So, we will see. These ideas continue to be bitterly controversial in some quarters and stakes are high. The debate is far reaching and certainly one producers should watch closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


Local Government Getting Involved in National 4-H Conference Sale Members of the Chevy Chase Town Council in Maryland now plan to put together a task force to ensure they have a say on the future of the National 4-H Conference ahead of a potential sale later this year. Representatives for the National 4-H Council briefed members of the town council during a virtual Zoom session last Wednesday evening after residents weighed in by email and the jurisdiction's Listserv on what public amenities and uses they would like to see integrated into future plans for the 12.28-acre site. The 4-H has retained CBRE to market the property for sale, with a prospective purchaser being selected in the second quarter and a closing before the end of the year. The property is currently assessed at about $19.9 million, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. Commercial uses are not permitted by right on the property, and several of the town's elected officials asked whether a condition could be imposed on the sale requiring future owners to maintain its residential zoning.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


House Sends PAYGO Measure To Senate A bill to avert Medicare, farm program, other mandatory program spending cuts was approved by the House on Friday, passing on a vote of 246-175. The measure waives statutory requirements to offset the $1.86 trillion COVID aid law and extending the suspension of separate Medicare cuts another nine months, as well as any potential cuts to mandatory farm program spending. Ultimately, 29 Republicans voted with all Democrats to pass the bill. The bill also would make several other changes to the aid/stimulus law, including a correction aimed at ensuring that hospitals serving a disproportionate share of uninsured patients are not penalized for receiving additional aid. The bill preserves special rules for disproportionate share hospitals in California, allowing them to claim funding up to 175% of their costs. It is not clear whether the Senate will approve the plan or if the action will be included in another must-pass bill later.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on February new home sales is due out at 9 a.m. CDT Tuesday. Traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts, watching for any export sales news that develops and will keep an eye on soybean oil after its limit-up close on Monday. Weather Rain is in store Tuesday from the central Plains through western, central and southern Midwest and Delta. Continued dryness easing and soil moisture recharge will occur with this rain. Northern Plains areas in drought continue to be bypassed by the precipitation. A system bringing snow to the Intermountain West looks to track southeast toward the southern Rockies later this week.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


House Passes Ag Workforce Bill The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act last week. The vote was 247-174, with 30 Republicans siding with 217 Democrats voting in favor of the bill. The Hagstrom Report says the act would give farmworkers in the United States without legal documents a way to gain legal status. The House also passed the American Dreamers and Promise Act, which would allow young people who entered the U.S. as children without legal status to stay in the country. “Farmworkers are vital to the wellbeing of our country and our economy,” says President Joe Biden. “For generations, farmworkers across America, many of whom aren’t in the country legally, have worked countless hours to feed our nation and ensure our communities are healthy and strong.” He says that’s even more clear because of COVID-19. Democrat Zoe (ZOH-ee) Lofgren of California is a primary sponsor of the Ag Workforce Bill. She says stabilizing the ag labor supply will protect farmers and our future supply of food. “The act accomplishes this by providing a path to legal status for farmworkers and updating and streamlining the H-2A temporary worker visa program.” She says it also ensures fair wages and working conditions for all workers. ********************************************************************************************** Groups Respond to House Passage of Farm Workforce Act Some of America’s prominent agricultural leaders and organizations responded to the House passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. National Milk Producers Federation CEO Jim Mulhern says, “Nothing gets done if we can’t move forward. The broad industry and bipartisan support for House passage of the act shows that we can achieve consensus.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says the legislation will create a more functional and compassionate farm labor system. “It will allow more flexibility for agricultural employers, as well as strengthen protections for agricultural workers and provide them a path to citizenship.” Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of United Fresh, says, “This will stabilize our current workforce and make improvements to ensure that a future workforce can meet the growing needs of our industry.” House Ag Committee Chair David Scott of Georgia says, “A stable supply of labor is essential for our U.S. agriculture industry to help it thrive in the face of the ongoing competition. I will continue to work with stakeholders and our colleagues in the Senate to make improvements to this needed legislation.” ********************************************************************************************** Aircraft Dispute Still Threatens U.S. Wheat Trade with EU U.S. wheat farmers and customers on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean applauded a temporary truce in the tariff war between the U.S. and European Union. The cross-Atlantic dispute is centers around an unrelated case regarding aircraft subsidies. The 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. hard red spring wheat imports into the U.K. and European Union are suspended for four months, temporarily reopening trade. The temporary break in the tariff comes as Katherine Tai got confirmed as the new U.S. Trade Representative. The dispute goes back to 2004 when the U.S. challenged E.U. subsidies for Airbus, and the E.U. followed suit with a challenge against certain states’ support for Boeing. After years of back and forth, the U.S. and E.U. received authorization to apply retaliatory tariffs in 2020. While the reprieve is welcomed by U.S. wheat producers, many are still cautious. Dalton Henry, Vice President of Policy for U.S. Wheat Associates, says both sides are dug in and the four-month window for the tariff suspension may not be long enough to solve the dispute. The U.K.’s recent departure from the E.U. further complicates the dispute’s outcome. The U.K. has made it clear they want the dispute resolved, offering in December to unilaterally drop its retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods as an act of goodwill. *********************************************************************************************** Soybean Sales Drop While Grain Sales Higher The U.S. Department of Agriculture says export sales of soybeans plunged while grain sales rose higher week-to-week. An agency report says soybean sales in the seven days ending on March 11 totaled 202,400 metric tons, down 42 percent week-to-week and 31 percent from the prior four-week average. China bought the largest number of soybeans, only totaling 71,500 metric tons. Bangladesh was next at 57,100 tons, followed by Japan. Totals would have been higher, but an unknown country canceled cargoes totaling 123,200 metric tons. Exports came in at 534,100 tons, 24 percent lower than the prior week. Corn sales last week came in at 985,900 metric tons, with Mexico the largest buyer at 285,500 tons, followed by Colombia and South Korea. Exports reached a marketing-year high of 2.2 million metric tons. Wheat sales through March 11 reached 390,100 metric tons, 18 percent higher than the previous week and 40 percent from the average for this time of the year. China was the main buyer at 132,300 metric tons. Mexico and Taiwan rounded out the top three wheat buyers. Unknown destinations canceled shipments of 215,800 tons, while exports for the week came in at 662,300 tons. ********************************************************************************************** Weather Challenges for Chinese Crops China is the number one producer of rice, wheat, potatoes, and many other commodities. However, it trails U.S. corn production by 42 percent. Chinese corn production set a record in 2015, but since then, it’s been too wet or too hot in the country’s three major corn-producing regions. 2019 was one of the wettest years in the past two decades across China. It was followed by near-record-hot conditions in 2020. A Successful Farming article says 2021 is looking at a big change in weather conditions with things trending much drier for most of China’s corn-growing season. The weather will be out of sync as the early spring looks cold and wet, likely delaying the start of planting. The core summer months in China will be much drier, trending toward some of the driest weather in over a decade. There might be enough soil moisture to carry some crops through the season, but there will no doubt be a fair amount of risk that will likely have traders searching through weather maps. Chinese farmers are less likely to have the yield-producing hybrids that farmers in America can access. ********************************************************************************************** February Milk Production Drops 1.3 Percent The USDA says milk production in the 24 major milk-producing states totaled 16.8 billion pounds in February. That’s down 1.3 percent from February of 2020. However, production was 2.3 percent above last year after adjusting for the leap year. January revised production was 18.4 billion pounds, up 2.6 percent from January of last year. The January revision represents an increase of 150 million pounds, or .8 percent, from last month’s preliminary production estimate. The number of milk cows on farms across the 24 major dairy states was 8.94 million head, 88,000 more than February 2020, and 2,000 more head than January of this year. Total U.S. milk production hit 17.6 billion pounds, which was 1.5 percent lower than last year at the same time. However, production was up two percent from last year after adjusting for the leap year. Production per cow in the U.S. averaged 1,864 pounds for February, 44 pounds lower than last February. California was the top state in February with more than 3.3 billion pounds of milk produced, followed by Wisconsin’s 2.4 billion pounds of milk.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Climate Change and the Banks Bloomberg reported late last week that the new administration is considering ways to push the global finance industry into consistently accounting for carbon dioxide emissions and green investments. The report said that the Treasury Department and U.S. regulators are in the early stages of working on measures to improve companies' disclosure of their environmental impact. The moves seek to address carbon leakage — situations where producers move to regions with less restrictive pollution rules — and climate-related metrics for Environmental, Social and Governance-based investing, Bloomberg said. Part of the effort would include recommendations being crafted by the SEC for companies to report their environmental impact, the report noted. The intent is to boost demand for assets that tackle climate change, while preventing companies from making claims that could be considered “greenwashing,” or overstating the significance of emissions reductions and sustainability efforts. Bloomberg also noted that there are already several industry-driven initiatives to establish a set of rules for green finance. But experts warn that without strong government oversight the industry could settle on looser standards that allow firms to continue supporting carbon-intensive activities while using cheap offsets to claim they're doing what's needed to slow global warming. Both the Treasury and the Securities and Exchange Commission refused Bloomberg's request for comment on the report. However, the SEC announced last week that it would solicit public comment on potential changes to policies governing climate disclosure, including whether it should set different standards for various industries and whether investors should have a say in what specific corporations have to reveal. Gary Gensler -- the administration's nominee to lead the SEC currently awaiting Senate confirmation -- would be responsible for implementing any changes to companies' disclosure requirements. Wall Street banks such as Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions. That requires a focus on cutting emissions first, before using offsets to neutralize any pollution that still remains. Doing so usually requires costly structural changes, Bloomberg said. President Joe Biden is pushing for the U.S. to take more aggressive climate action. He's expected to announce a 2030 pollution reduction goal next month that will align with efforts to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 C (2.7 F) from pre-industrial levels, Bloomberg noted. That's the most-ambitious target under the Paris Agreement. The U.S. government is convening a summit with the world's top carbon emitters on April 22, with hopes of driving more ambitious emissions-reductions and climate-finance commitments. Since taking office, Biden has sought to convince other world leaders that the U.S. is firmly back in the global fight against climate change, after it pulled back under President Donald Trump. Hashing out definitions of green financing will be a key part of discussions at international climate talks scheduled for November in Glasgow, Scotland. Bloomberg also noted that the new administration's green finance framework should start to take shape by June when leaders of the Group of Seven countries are due to meet in southwest England. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government also wants carbon leakage to be on the agenda. “Raising ambitions as we go to Glasgow is so critical,” U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said earlier this month. In Glasgow, “we will meet with the nations that met in Paris to hold the earth's temperature hopefully to no larger than a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase,” Kerry said. “Our hope is that by keeping the 1.5 degree target alive in the next 10 years, we lay the groundwork for the exciting venture of transitioning to clean energy.” The U.S. and Europe could have an identical set of rules that determine what counts as green investment, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Kerry last week in Paris. The EU is due to propose a regulation on the so-called taxonomy next month. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said she will create a “climate hub” within Treasury to address the administration's “whole-of-government” approach toward climate change. The hub will be overseen by a senior adviser who is expected to report directly to Yellen, one of the people said. A Treasury climate “czar” has not been announced. Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former Federal Reserve official who served in the Treasury Department during the Obama administration, was under consideration for the post, Bloomberg reported last month. So, we will see. The definition of new program efforts for agriculture also are being watched with interest across the industry. However, environmental criteria can become important hurdles for agricultural activities, especially if they are closely linked to capital availability. In general, programs to limit climate change have been well supported across the U.S. — depending on how interventionist they are and their overall impact on ag and industrial operations. Thus, the new climate rules and programs should be watched closely as they emerge and are implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


Vilsack Again Signals Continuation of Food Box Effort With Changes Food and nutrition programs remain a focal point for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, including the Farmers to Families Food Box Program (FFFBP) launched by the Trump administration during the pandemic. The agency will hold listening sessions on the FFFBP to determine what worked and what did not work, he told an Anti-Hunger Policy Conference Wednesday. The aim of the listening session is to develop adjustments to the program to make sure as it is “is refashioned, and redesigned, if you will, [and] it's done in a way that provides the greatest amount of help to the most people.” He also touted increases in benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other nutrition-related efforts at USDA. This is more evidence that the FFFBP will continue under the Biden administration which is not surprising given the popularity of the program and creating a closer link between farmers and consumers. As with any new government program, actual implementation often brings changes or tweaks, but the underlying concept is fully expected to continue.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


House Clears Immigration Measures, But Senate Outlook Uncertain The House approved to bills to address immigration issues, approving one that would provide a path to citizenship for around 2.5 million undocumented immigrants, including those referred to as “Dreamers” (came to U.S. before the age of 19 before January 1, 2021), on a vote of 228 to 197. Nine Republicans voted in favor of the bill. A second measure won passage 247 to 174 and would provide a path to citizenship for farmworkers in the country illegally and their family members, with 30 Republicans voting for the bill. The farm worker measure was approved by the House in 2019 but was not acted on by the Senate. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides for some agricultural workers in the country illegally to receive a temporary legal status if they have worked at least 180 days in the last two years. The bill would also modernize the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program, making year-round H-2A visas available for the first time. But the outlook remains uncertain as the measures face steep odds in the evenly divided Senate. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., noted that Democrats control the White House and Senate. "With a Democratic majority in the Senate and President Biden in the White House, when we pass it again it is with better assurance that it will become law,” Pelosi said. But Republicans are becoming increasingly opposed to any new immigration measure, a situation accented by the worsening situation at the U.S. southern border. The U.S. is on pace to see the largest number of migrants crossing into the country illegally in two decades, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Starting a new week fresh, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and for any news of export sales. Monday's first report is for February existing U.S. home sales at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by weekly grain export inspections at 10 a.m. USDA's monthly cold storage report follows the livestock close and is set for 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Another dose of rain is in store for the central and southern Plains Monday, with more drought easing and soil moisture benefit for winter wheat. This rain system expands into the Midwest and Delta the next several days with moderate to heavy amounts. We'll also see rain and snow in the Northwest, but only limited coverage in the northern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


National Biodiesel Board More Than Halfway to a Big Goal The National Biodiesel Board recently unveiled a big goal for the industry as it celebrated Rudolf Diesel’s birthday on March 18th. Rudolf invented the diesel engine back in the 1890s. In honor of that achievement, the NBB announced a plan to grow the industry to over six billion gallons by the year 2030, and, with the right advancements in feedstocks, 15 billion gallons by 2050. Right now, the operating capacity for the industry stands at more than three billion gallons, meeting half the NBB’s vision ahead of schedule. Already announced expansions and new projects could add over three billion gallons of capacity as early as 2023. “To see a concept like Rudolf Diesel’s get us to a three-billion-gallon industry is remarkable,” says National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen. “Our industry has seen its challenges, but for nearly 30 years into commercial biodiesel production, our association never took no for an answer.” He says the biodiesel industry is “well on its way” to meeting its six-billion-gallon capacity goal. ********************************************************************************************** Legislation Would Expand Access to Affordable Credit for Farmers Wisconsin Democrat Ron Kind and Iowa Republican Randy Feenstra introduced the bipartisan Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act. The legislation would remove taxation on income from farm real estate loans made by community banks. The act would benefit farmers, families, and rural communities by allowing more institutions to offer affordable credit to rural and agricultural borrowers. “I’ve heard from many Wisconsin lenders and farmers about a credit crunch for agricultural and rural loans, which has only gotten worse because of COVID,” says Kind. “The act will take steps to address the issue, lowering the cost for farmers and families to acquire credit in our rural communities and providing a pathway to increased income.” Kind also says America needs to ensure its hardworking family farmers get the support they need. “Our hardworking farmers feed and fuel the world, and I will support any effort that provides the resources they need to succeed in today’s economy,” says Feenstra. Early estimates show the act could reduce the average interest rate on a farm real estate loan by 1.5 to two percent. ********************************************************************************************** Japan Setting Temporary Higher Tariff on U.S. Beef Japan is imposing an emergency tariff hike on U.S. beef imports late this week. The volume of imports for the fiscal year 2020 is believed to have exceeded 242,000 metric tons, beyond which the duty hike gets automatically implemented. If the tariff goes into effect, it jumps from 25.8 percent to 38.5 percent for a month under a bilateral trade agreement that went into effect in January. Japan’s agricultural minister says the resulting increase in prices for fresh, chilled, and frozen U.S. beef will “not likely have a major impact on consumers.” The margin of increase will only be in place for 30 days. For the fiscal year 2020, which began in April of last year, Japan’s cumulative U.S. beef imports totaled 233,112 tons at the end of this February. Finance Ministry Data in Japan says the volume total may have surpassed the agreed-upon threshold by early this month. Japan’s consumption of American beef rose sharply higher because of a drop in beef imports from drought-hit Australia. The Japan Times says when the threshold is reached, the two countries have to start consultations within 10 days to adjust the applicable safeguard trigger, according to their agreement. ********************************************************************************************** The U.S. and Canada Prepare for African Swine Fever The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have developed a protocol regarding African Swine Fever and bilateral trade. The Hagstrom Report says the protocol will ensure bilateral trade will keep going if African Swine Fever shows up in feral swine in either country while staying out of the domestic swine herds. If ASF is detected in feral swine, all trade between the two nations would immediately halt. Then, the protocol says trading would resume in three stages with increasingly reduced restrictions on live swine, swine germplasm, and untreated swine commodities. “Continuing trade with Canada in the event of a feral African Swine Fever detection is important to our stakeholders, and this protocol provides the necessary guidance to minimize the impact to the swine industry,” says USDA Chief Veterinarian Burke Healy. How quickly the U.S. and Canada establish initial control areas, initiate surveillance/case findings, remove feral swine, and start surveillance of captive swine, will then determine when it’s time to go to phase two of the protocol. Trade restrictions then reduce to the boundaries of the established control areas during the third phase. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Endorses the Bipartisan HAULS Act The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is endorsing the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021. Introduced by four senators, the bipartisan bill would deliver much-needed flexibility for livestock haulers. “One year after COVID-19 began to disrupt daily life, U.S. cattle producers continue to prove each day that they are committed to keeping grocery stores stocked with beef,” says NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “Livestock haulers are a critical component of the beef supply chain, and flexibility in livestock hauling regulations remains vital.” Current hours-of-service rules allow for 11 hours of drive time, 14 hours on-duty time, and then require ten consecutive hours of rest. NCBA says when transporting livestock, there’s a serious need for further flexibility beyond the current hours of service. Unlike drivers moving consumer goods, livestock haulers cannot simply idle or unload their trucks when drive time hours run out without jeopardizing animal health and welfare. Bohn adds, “The HAULS Act represents the best long-term solution, which is a permanent change to existing hours-of-service regulations that preserve animal welfare as well as safety on our roads.” It also makes sure that truckers can keep stores stocked with beef. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bureau Gives Back Through “Harvest for All” The farm and ranch families that make up the American Farm Bureau donated 53 million pounds of food and raised almost $1.5 million to assist hungry Americans in 2020. It’s all a part of the organization’s “Harvest for All” program. Combined, the monetary and food donations totaled the equivalent of 53 million meals. The Young Farmers and Ranchers donation programs complemented the Farm Bureau’s donations to support COVID-19 relief of $5.4 million and 1.4 million pounds of food, announced in January. In addition to raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranched tallied almost 23,000 volunteer hours assisting local hunger groups in 2020. “Hunger remains a concern for people from all walks of life, including many rural Americans and residents of farming communities,” says Jon Iverson of Oregon, Chair of the AFBF’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. “Farm Bureau’s longstanding commitment to helping put food on the tables of those in need through the Harvest for All outreach is more important than ever as the effects of COVID-19 continue.” Florida’s Farm Bureau took the top honors for donating the most food and raising the most money in 2020 by donating 43 million pounds of food and $413,000.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Holding Fast to Strong Growth Fed Policy The New York Times is reporting this week that one of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's big tasks in the coming months will be to convince the financial world he means what he says about allowing more than usual inflation. He was asked at a news conference Wednesday whether — in light of forecast that the economy would recover quickly — was it time to “start talking about talking about” slowing the central bank's purchases of $80 billion in bonds each month. He responded with a “half-laugh,” the Times said, before answering, “Not yet.” His dismissiveness of the idea that the Fed would even consider slowing its efforts to strengthen the economy was one of many chances he took in last week's session to convey one simple message: The central bank will not waver in its aggressive efforts to encourage growth until the economy is truly and unquestionably back to health. It almost surely won't be the last time he faces questions that second-guess that resolve, the Times thinks. If the economy evolves as Powell and most private forecasters expect, a veritable boom will be underway later this year. As a result, he and his colleagues at the Fed will face a continuing test of their willingness to follow through on the approach they unanimously agreed to last summer. That new policy framework ended an era in which the Fed pre-emptively raised interest rates because falling unemployment risked future inflation. Powell's job on Wednesday was to persuade financial markets and everyone who makes economic decisions that the Fed was serious about this plan and that it won't be swayed by all the things that, based on its history, might cause an increase in interest rates and choke off the expansion prematurely. If prices for certain goods and services were to surge as the economy comes back, it would, in this view, be a one-time bulge rather than a continuing rise in inflation to which the Fed might need to respond. The central bank's officials now project 2.4% inflation this year, overshooting their 2% target, with a projected return to the target in 2022. The job now is to persuade the world that it really will allow modest inflation and that any coming economic party “will be worth attending.” They insist that any “slow down” policies will be based on actual problems rather than “forecasts of potential future stresses.” Powell's dismissive chuckle was just one piece of the messaging, and he returned to the prevailing idea in several ways. For example, he pledged that “we will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes.” Also, “we're not going to act pre-emptively based on forecasts for the most part, and we're going to wait to see actual data. And I think it will take people time to adjust to that, and the only way we can really build the credibility of that is by doing it.” “People start businesses, they reopen restaurants, the airlines will be flying again — all of those things will happen and they will turn out to cause one-time bulges in prices, but they likely won't change inflation going forward.” He also played down the release of the Fed's “dot-plot” of when to expect it to be time to raise rates. Four of 18 Fed officials thought that rate increases would be warranted by the end of 2022, and seven by the end of 2023. Powell emphasized that a comfortable majority envisioned no rate increases in the next three years. The questions he faced from the press Wednesday were just the beginning of what figures to be a perennial topic whenever he or other leaders of the central bank face lawmakers, business leaders or the news media. The tone and details may vary, but will all mean: “Are you sure you're not going to start tightening the money supply?” The questions might tie into inflationary pressures. For example, many conservatives have already started to complain about rising gasoline prices. Based on the experience of past Fed leaders, Powell can expect plenty of questions about that in his next visit to Capitol Hill. Or the questions could focus more on booming financial markets and whether the Fed needs to raise rates to rein in speculation. In many ways, it is the inverse of the situation that Paul Volcker faced as Fed leader in the early 1980s, as he engineered aggressive rate increases to curtail the high inflation of that era. He had to resist pressure from fellow Fed appointees who had not fully bought into the overall strategy, even threatening to resign rather than lose a close vote. The situation is certainly not that dramatic — yet — in 2021, given the unanimous vote on the new policy framework and the apparent strong majority on the committee who believe rates need to stay low. But if history is a guide, and inflation trends and financial markets are as unpredictable in the months ahead as they have been in the recent past, it may take more than a laugh for Powell to dismiss questions from the tight-money crowd. So, we will see. Certainly, everyone will be watching price trends as the economy recovers — and there is deep concern in many quarters that the policy makers will allow “too much” inflation,” what ever that is. The Powell approach almost likely will be highly controversial and should be watched closely as it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


House Republicans Vote By Secret Ballot To Support Earmarks House Republicans passed a resolution during their conference meeting on Wednesday in support of restoring earmarks, which allows members to secure federal funding for specific projects. The caucus voted 102-84 as Democrats gear up to revive the practice, which allows members to secure federal funding for specific projects. Opponents of the GOP move say the vote tally would have been far different had it not been by secret ballot. Both parties banned earmarks in 2011 after years of them being associated with wasteful projects and corruption. Advocates say new transparency rules will help address those issues and encourage the kind of deal-making essential to bipartisan agreements. Earmarks are being seen by some Democrats as a way to potentially bring Republican support for a major infrastructure effort.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


Vilsack Signals USDA Farm Program Design May Be Creating Inequities The design of U.S. farm programs to link benefits for the safety net programs to production could be creating racial inequities, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said at a nutrition forum Wednesday. Programs based on the level of production could leave out smaller or socially disadvantaged farmers, Vilsack said. “The problem is when you basically compensate on production, the person who's producing more, benefits more,” Vilsack remarked. “So what does that mean? It means the gap widens.” He said an equality commission established at USDA will take a look at all programs and how they are designed and enacted. He labeled it “perfectly understandable” that farm programs focus on production “because that's the way it's always been.” But in a climate of heightened sensitivity on discrimination and equity, Vilsack said it makes sense to focus on broader equity impacts, not just “specific acts of discrimination.” It is not clear what areas of U.S. farm programs that the USDA review will focus on, but no doubt lawmakers who have formulated U.S. farm policy will be tracking the USDA effort closely, likely paying close attention to making sure the USDA attention is on how the programs are enacted as opposed to the underlying legislation that creates the programs.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The only official report on Friday's docket is USDA's monthly cattle on-feed report for March 1, due out at 2 p.m. CDT. Keep in mind February placements will have been affected by the interruption of bitter cold temperatures throughout the central U.S. Otherwise, traders will keep an eye on noncommercial activity after Thursday's sell-off in grains, tension in the crude oil market and the latest weather forecasts. Weather Dry conditions and mild temperatures will cover almost all primary crop areas Friday. This combination favors field drying, snow melt and the easing of river flooding after heavy precipitation during the past week. The only precipitation will be in the Northwest, where rain and snow are in store. There is no easing of drought conditions indicated in the northern Plains and Canadian Prairies indicated through the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


China Buys Another Large Shipment of U.S. Corn China bought a large shipment of U.S. corn on Tuesday. Private exporters reported the sale of 1.15 million tons of corn for delivery by the end of August. The corn is equivalent to more than 45 million bushels and was worth 251 million dollars based on Chicago futures prices. It was the largest sale of U.S. corn to China since the Asian nation bought 2.1 million tons on January 29. Successful Farming says the USDA expects China to buy a record $31.5 billion worth of U.S. farm products in the fiscal year that ends on September 30, thanks in part to its large corn purchases last fall. Sales in the fiscal year 2020 totaled $17 billion when the trade war was in full swing. If those purchases happen, China would be back on top as the number one customer for U.S. farm goods. Last year, China was third in line behind Canada and Mexico. Despite a large number of recent purchases, China didn’t meet the target in its Phase One trade agreement with the U.S. when it pledged to buy $36.6 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural commodities, and seafood products in 2020. This year, the target is even higher at $43.5 billion. ********************************************************************************************** Oil Industry Asking for Help with Rising Costs The price of renewable fuel credits in the U.S. hit new multi-year highs this week. That has an oil refining trade group asking the White House for help in stabilizing the industry. Prices for the Renewable Identification Numbers have climbed all year as the costs of feedstocks like soybean oil continue to climb higher. Reuters says the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers group sent a letter on Monday to the Environmental Protection Agency saying that uncertainty about blending obligations for 2021-2022, which have been delayed since missing a November 30 deadline, is contributing to the rising cost of RINs. The group says the high RIN prices threaten the viability of refiners already hard-hit by COVID-19s effect on fuel demand. Renewable fuel credits for 2021 were trading at $1.43 each earlier this week, the highest price since 2013. Also, in the letter to the EPA, the group is asking the agency to finalize proposed extended compliance deadlines for the RFS and urging the EPA to consider the demand destruction brought on by COVID-19 as it decides on the blending requirements for 2021. ********************************************************************************************** Tai Confirmed as U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is the new U.S. Trade Representative. CNBC Dot Com says Tai, a critic of Chinese trade practices, was confirmed by a Senate vote of 98-0. She’s the first Asian American woman and the first woman of color to fill the USTR spot since the position was created 60 years ago. Her confirmation comes as the Biden Administration attempts to move away from the previous administration’s more belligerent tone in dealing with China while also taking a tough U.S. stance against the rival economic power. Several times between 2007 and 2014, Tai successfully argued the U.S. case against China’s trade practices before the World Trade Organization. “There’s also a lot of gray areas where the rules aren’t as clear, or where we don’t have rules yet,” she said last month. Tai also wants the U.S. to work together with other countries to confront China on its trade policies. When testifying before the Senate Finance Committee in February, Tai said she wanted to hold China to its Phase One commitments in the agreement negotiated by the Trump administration. While her predecessor, Robert Lighthizer, used tariffs against China, Tai didn’t say she’d add any additional duties on Chinese goods but did say there are “legitimate tools in the trade toolbox.” ********************************************************************************************** Senate Approves Haaland as New Secretary of the Interior The Senate confirmed New Mexico Democratic Representative Deb Haaland (Holland) as the new Secretary of the Interior. The Hagstrom Report says Haaland is the first American Indian to hold the post. Native American groups applauded her confirmation, but there is controversy over her views on oil and gas leases on federal land and fracking. The vote was 51-40, with four Republicans joining with Democrats in favor of her confirmation. She earned bipartisan support to take over the department that employs a staff of 70,000 people and oversees the country’s natural resources. The agency manages a total of 50 million acres of land, which is one-fifth of the surface area of the U.S. During the hearing, Haaland emphasized her ability to work across the aisle. During her first year in the House, Haaland introduced more bills with a co-sponsor from another party than any other House freshman. Those stats come from the website Gov Track Dot Com, which also rates her as the tenth most politically left member of Congress. ********************************************************************************************** EU Crops off to “Fair Start” After Rapid Temperature Change The European Union’s MARS weather forecasting agency says it’s been a fair start to the spring for winter crops in Europe. Cold spells in February were followed by warm weather that kick-started plant growth. A MARS monthly report says cold weather in southern Russia has likely caused some damage to winter crops. Temps in parts of western and northern Europe swung a long way, going from five degrees above zero to 59 degrees during February. The agency says, “The warm weather contributed to rapid snowmelt and the restart of growth and development after winter dormancy.” Based on trend models, MARS now says it expects 2021 yields to be higher than the disappointing yields of recent years. EU wheat sales will likely rise 3.1 percent year-over-year and 3.5 percent over the prior five-year average. Soil moisture levels shouldn’t be problematic for EU farmers, as even the eastern EU countries all have moisture levels above critical thresholds. ************************************************************************************ Syngenta Selects Site for North American Crop Protection Headquarters Syngenta has selected its current campus location on Swing Road in Greensboro, North Carolina, as the place to redevelop its North American Crop Protection headquarters. The announcement follows a comprehensive assessment of the company’s future needs and multiple site options in North Carolina and several other states. The company intends to build a more than 100,000 square-foot office building to connect with its existing laboratory facility on the north side of the 70-acre campus. Plans also include a complete renovation of the lab facilities. The new workspace will support approximately 650 employees and 100 contract workers. “The Syngenta family in Greensboro has been part of the fabric of this community for many decades,” says Vern Hawkins, president of Syngenta Crop Protection. “It’s our goal to remain in Greensboro for many years to come.” Construction will begin on the new building later this year. The entire project will take about three years to complete. The redeveloped headquarters will include contemporary work and conference spaces, health, wellness, and fitness centers, a cafeteria, auditorium, coffee areas, and many other amenities.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Big Fight Over Filibuster There is a lot of talk this week about really big policy ideas—and many of these concern direct supports and specific taxes. Budget and spending battles are interesting, but perhaps the most intense conflict appears to be brewing over the filibuster. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned that removing the need for 60 votes to advance most legislation would lead to dire consequences. The Hill quoted McConnell as saying, “let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin, to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. Still, The Hill reported that Democrats “largely shrugged off the GOP leader's predictions, arguing he's already gummed up the Senate.” “For Sen. McConnell and other Republicans to plead for hanging onto this tradition is actually threatening that the Senate will continue to do less and less each year. There are those of us now in control of the majority side ... who really believe there is much more to be done in the Senate, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.” The President “appears to agree,” The Hill said. "It almost is getting to the point where democracy's having a hard time functioning." Biden then announced that he supports changing the rules to bring back the so-called “talking filibuster," when senators needed to be on the floor if they are attempting to block bills. At the same time, Senate Republicans are accusing their Democratic colleagues of hypocrisy for talking about reforming or getting rid of the filibuster after using the same procedural tool to block several GOP bills during the previous Congress. The Hill thinks this “back-and-forth” is intensifying amid growing support within the Senate Democratic Conference for reforming the rules over concerns that Republicans will use the filibuster to obstruct proposals that have the support of a majority of Americans. Durbin, who has been participating in behind-the-scenes talks on rules reforms, offered his strongest rebuke of the filibuster to date earlier this week, comparing it to a “weapon of mass destruction” that is holding the Senate “hostage.” The filibuster undercuts American democracy as it is misused by senators to block legislation urgently needed and supported by a strong majority of the American people,” Durbin said during a floor speech Monday. Supporters of reforms argue that without changes, many of the administration's key campaign promises are effectively dead on arrival. Though Democrats control the majority, they still need the support of at least 10 Republican senators to pass most bills. Democrats were able to use reconciliation — a budget process that allows the majority to avoid a filibuster — to pass the recent $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill. Democrats are also likely to use reconciliation to pass a sweeping infrastructure and jobs package amid deep divisions with Republicans on the scope of the legislation and how to pay for it. But without filibuster reform, Democrats will need GOP support to pass any of their other big priorities: immigration reform, voting rights, anti-discrimination measures and background checks, just to name a few. Ideas being discussed by the caucus include everything from smaller changes that would leave the filibuster intact to reinstating the talking filibuster now backed by Biden, or gutting it altogether by use of a simple majority. “I support discussing any proposal that ends the misuse of the filibuster as a weapon of mass obstruction. If the Senate retains the filibuster, we must change the rules so that a senator who wants to bring our government to a standstill endures — at least — some discomfort in the process. We need new rules that actually promote debate,” Durbin said. It's hardly the first filibuster fight that has buffeted an increasingly partisan Senate in recent years. In 2011, McConnell and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reached agreement where Republicans would limit their filibusters if Reid agreed to open up the floor to more amendment votes. In 2013, Democrats used the “nuclear option” to end filibusters on lower courts and most executive nominations. Four years later, Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate ended the use of the 60-vote filibuster on Supreme Court nominations, a move that helped former President Trump add three justices to the court. This time around, part of the problem for reform advocates is the razor-thin margin in the Senate. To go nuclear, Schumer would need the support of every lawmaker in his 50-member caucus. But several are viewed as wary, and Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., are both on the record as recently in opposition to such a move. Manchin indicated on Tuesday that he wasn't getting pressure from the caucus saying they “know who I am” and that his position hasn't changed. “Everybody's talking, there's so many different ideas out there. And that's healthy when you want to talk about everything.” Asked what his bottom line is, Manchin added: “You cannot get rid of the filibuster unless your intention is to destroy the Senate.” So, we will see. It is clear that opposition to the current filibuster process is growing—but it is far from clear just what could productively replace it in the current political environment. The expectation is for more and more controversial fights on this issue alone, among a number of others that should be watched closely as the season progresses.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


Japan To Temporarily Raise Tariffs On Imports Of US Beef Japanese trade data have confirmed that the country will impose a higher tariff on imports of U.S. beef for 30 days. Japan's Ministry of Finance said the tariff will be raised to 38.5% from a current 25.8% for 30 days starting March 18; for scraps, the tariff will rise to 38.5% from a current 34.7%. The U.S. shipped 242,229 metric tons of beef in Japan's fiscal 2020, exceeding the 242,000-metric ton quota agreed to in the U.S.-Japan trade deal. The two governments will now hold talks on the situation within the next 10 days. The tariff will drop to 25% April 17, the level for Japan's fiscal 2021. Beef importers could delay their customs processes until then to avoid paying the higher tariffs, according to an official with the Japanese ministry.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


Experts Signal Carbon Bank, Carbon Efforts Will Take Time Experts at a Farm Foundation session on climate and carbon markets laid out the possibilities for farmers with the efforts to capture carbon and to provide financial incentive/support for farmers on that front, but also indicated that developing the processes, procedures and tools needed for the important factors of measuring carbon and verifying activities will take time to develop. The experts also stressed a need for farmers to be able to get benefits from deploying carbon capture efforts and that failure to make that happen will limit the effectiveness of any such program. While corporate efforts are being seen, those participating in the forum related a view that government could play a key role in research into technologies and practices. The effort will not be an immediate shift, with some indicating it could take upwards of 20 years for moving to new farming practices that sequester more carbon in the soils. And for farmers that have already deployed those efforts, one of the keys may be having the data to back up what their actions have meant in terms of carbon capture. Carbon measurement and carbon prices remain two major components ahead, especially for those already deploying practices like minimum-tillage or no-till. Developing ways to measure those actions retroactively will be key.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims and the latest U.S. Drought Monitor are due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. An index of leading indicators is set for 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sales that might develop. Weather Thursday will be wet in the eastern and southern Midwest with rain and some snow. Other crop areas will be dry. The pattern turns mostly dry through the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 17, 2021 |


USDA Announces Protocols to Minimize ASF Trade Disruptions if Detected in Feral Swine The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced protocols to help ensure bilateral trade if African swine fever is detected in feral swine in either country. USDA’s Plant Health Inspection Service announced the protocols Tuesday. The protocols would be in force if ASF were still absent from domestic swine. Upon an ASF feral swine detection, all trade between both countries would initially stop. Then, according to the protocol, trade would resume in three progressive phases with increasingly reduced restrictions on live swine, swine germplasm, and untreated swine commodities. How quickly the U.S. and Canada establish initial control areas, initiate surveillance/case findings and removal in feral swine, and start surveillance in captive swine, will determine when they enter phase two of the protocol. During the third and final phase, trade restrictions are reduced to the boundaries of the established control area. APHIS and CFIA are continuing to work with the industry to ensure that both countries have the processes and procedures in place to fully implement the protocol. ************************************************************************************ Report: Markets Shaping Planting Intentions A new planting intentions survey from Allendale shows market prices are influencing planting decisions. The Illinois-based analytical research and brokerage firm released its planting estimates this week following a nationwide survey that spanned 29 states. The survey estimates corn planting intentions of 92.8 million acres, two million more acres than in 2020. This would be the fourth largest of all time and 4.5 million off the 2012 peak of 97.2 million. Allendale’s production estimate would imply an increase of 1.058 billion bushels over 2020, a production record, if achieved. Soybean planting intentions are seen at 90.3 million acres, 7.2 million more than last year. This would be a record acreage, 155,000 over the 2017 peak of 90.16 million. Allendale’s 4.5-billion-bushel production estimate would also be a record and 422 million over last year. Wheat acreage is estimated at 46.4 million acres, 2.1 million more than last year. Assuming normal abandonment and trend yields, Allendale’s production estimate of 1.9 billion is 84 million bushels over last year. ************************************************************************************ ADM Settles Peanut Price-Fixing Lawsuit Archer Daniels Midland has agreed to settle a price-fixing lawsuit regarding U.S. peanut crops. The Wall Street Journal reports ADM will pay $45 million to settle the lawsuit brought against ADM, Birdsong Peanuts and Olam International, by nearly 12,000 peanut farmers. Birdsong and Olam previously settled for a combined $58 million. The three companies buy upwards of 90 percent of U.S.-grown peanuts. All three denied any wrongdoing in the settlement, but chose to settle to avoid further litigation-related expenses. The lawsuit claimed the three companies drove down peanut prices by overstating inventories, creating a false sense of oversupply in the market. Unlike other major commodities, there is no futures market for settling prices. The lawsuit claims prices from the three companies offered little variance, leaving farmers with few choices to sell their crop. In court documents, lawyers for the farmers involved in the lawsuit cited private discussions between the rival processors that the farmers claim showed coordination. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety The Department of Agriculture Tuesday named Sandra Eskin as deputy undersecretary for food safety. Eskin comes to USDA from The Pew Charitable Trusts, where she served as the Project Director for Food Safety. Before joining Pew, she was a public policy consultant to consumer and public interest organizations, providing strategic and policy advice on a range of consumer protection issues. USDA also announced other staff appointments. Eyang Garrison was named chief of staff in the Office of the Deputy Secretary. Before joining USDA, Garrison served as the deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio. Jeremy Adamson was named policy advisor for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the Foreign Agricultural Service. Most recently, Jeremy served as the portfolio manager for Certis USA. And, Edyael (edge-yall) Casaperalta was named senior policy advisor for the Rural Utilities Services agency. Casaperalta is an attorney who has supported indigenous and underrepresented communities in telecommunications matters. ************************************************************************************ USDA Investing $598 Million to Improve and Modernize Rural Electric Infrastructure The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced investments to modernize and improve rural electric grids through 11 projects under the Electric Loan Program. The funding will benefit 460,000 rural residents and businesses in Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia. Several of the loans will help expand smart grid technologies, which can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas. The funding comes just weeks after grid disruptions during a historic cold snap across the nation. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, "These USDA investments will bring affordable electric power to rural residents," adding, "Now is the time for our nation to make significant investments in infrastructure." USDA's Electric Loan Program helps finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, and improvements to produce clean energy from coal-fired plants. Local utilities also use the loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable power to millions of residential, commercial and agricultural consumers. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Union Foundation Donates Meals to Troops in D.C. Farmers Union Enterprises recently donated $50,000 to provide roughly 5,000 meals to National Guard troops on duty in the nation’s capital. The funds went to D.C.-based restaurants Farmers Fishers Bakers and Founding Farmers, both of which are part of Farmers Restaurant Group. FUE is made up of several Farmers Union-owned businesses in the Upper Midwest, the dividends of which help fund Farmers Union organizations in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, as well as National Farmers Union. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, "As farmers, one of the best ways we know how to thank these brave individuals for their sacrifice is with food.” Farmers Restaurant Group co-owner Dan Simons says, “My team and I are honored to be able to provide delicious meals to those who serve and protect each and every day”. The first delivery of lunch and dinner meals was made Tuesday morning to the D.C. Armory. Several more deliveries will be made over the next four weeks.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 17, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Global Tax Deal Considered Bloomberg is reporting this week that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is working with her counterparts around the world to forge an agreement over a global minimum tax on multinational corporations to help pay for its emerging domestic agenda. Bloomberg says the effort involves “a fraught and challenging global negotiation of tax laws,” but if it succeeds, could prove one of Yellen's biggest policy legacies and could also prove central to Biden's presidency. The $1.9 trillion stimulus signed into law last week was financed completely by additional federal borrowing. But the administration seen as searching widely for ways to minimize reliance on taxes for other big-ticket priorities such as the massive infrastructure and jobs package being discussed by White House officials and congressional Democrats. A key source of new revenue being discussed is corporate taxes, which President Trump cut sharply cut in 2017. Although President Joe Biden has not proposed reversing the Trump's cut in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, he has said he will aim to raise potentially hundreds of billions more in revenue from big businesses. At the same time, tax experts, business groups and Republican lawmakers worry that raising the rate could damage U.S. competitiveness. Countries around the globe have both recently and over the past several decades joined the United States in reducing tax rates to attract corporate investment – a trend some economists see as a destructive "race to the bottom." "It's a little like the Paris climate accord, every country thinks it can steal business from others by lowering taxes. The main beneficiary of that race has been the richest multinational corporations," Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Columbia University and mentor of Yellen's said. Yellen is now seen as working to curb the trend through an effort at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in which more than 140 countries are participating. The goal is for countries to agree in principle to a minimum corporate tax rate—likely to be nonbinding – that would make it harder for multinational corporations to play countries off each other by threatening to leave. At this time, Yellen's efforts face myriad skeptics who worry the push could encourage further tax shifting to countries outside the OECD agreement, or lead the United States to make concessions that will hurt its competitiveness. This group includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It's just a money grab from the Europeans, and we should not let them do it," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the center-right American Action Forum and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. "My big concern is that—as part of their desire to be on a 'let's be friends' parade – the administration will give away too much.” Over the past four decades, industrialized nations around the globe have dramatically slashed businesses taxes, especially in industrialized countries not considered tax havens. The average corporate tax rate globally in 1980 was approximately 40%, but more recently has fallen to about 23% in 2020. About 40% of profits earned by the world's multinational firms were stashed in tax havens in 2017. Bloomberg calls the worldwide tax declines “startling.” From 2000 to 2018, OECD says 76 countries cut corporate tax rates while 12 countries maintained their corporate tax level and only six increased them. In 2000, more than 55 countries had corporate tax rates above 30%. Now, fewer than 20 do. For example, the effective U.S. federal tax rate had fallen from about 44% to closer to 29% before the 2017 tax law was passed, according to Goldman Sachs. After that cut, the effective rate paid by the largest Fortune 500 companies fell from 21% to about 11.3%, with 91 of the world's biggest corporations paying zero dollars in federal taxes. Biden campaigned by promising to enact new federal programs but critics charge that those plans mean “tax hikes that hurt U.S. competitiveness” and encourage multinationals to relocate abroad. This is leading administration officials to argue that the OECD negotiations are crucial to the administration's broader agenda. One part of the global tax restructuring effort would involve OECD grants of taxing rights over a part of multinational firms' profits where the consumers reside, based on set international formulas that would cover about $100 billion in global tax revenue. To support this approach, there is discussion of an agreement on a floor on international corporate tax rates, based on an OECD global minimum tax rate, probably at around 12% of profits – both highly controversial approaches. "The OECD's blueprints offer little more than a 'tax haven lite' model where tax havens can keep the majority of profit they siphon from around the world so long as they share some of those profit with the richest of countries," Alex Cobham, chief executive at the Tax Justice Network, said in a statement last fall. Any agreement reached by the administration about digital tax rules likely would have to be ratified by Congress in a series of highly difficult negotiations, depending on the details of the deal. Critics say these fights could take years for the OECD member countries to pass laws putting the agreement into effect – if they do so at all. But proponents say the cost of inaction remains too steep, Bloomberg says. It sees the OECD negotiations as a major early test of the global tax ambitions and it cites Yellen's letter to the G-20, highlighting the global impact of the coronavirus, among other crises. "We have come together to face great challenges in the past. We must do so again." So, we will see. It is clear that political pressure against sharply increased borrowing to support new programs is increasing rapidly and that the OECD approach could provide some important opportunities. These proposals are extremely important and should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 17, 2021 |


USDA Seeks Input On Climate Change Efforts USDA is requesting public comment on four areas of USDA policy: Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry; Biofuels, Wood and Other Bioproducts, and Renewable Energy; Addressing Catastrophic Wildfires; and Environmental Justice and Disadvantaged Communities. The request does not offer any potential actions on the part of USDA in these areas nor does it discuss a carbon bank which has been touted as a potential action or specifically the use of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) authority for any of efforts. USDA has set a 45-day comment period on the request and it is not clear whether they will allow more time for public feedback given the breadth of the information they are seeking. The attention on climate change actions at USDA is clearly rising as the situation is a government-wide focus, and one that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has spent a considerable amount of time focusing on in his initial time in office.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 17, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Markets will notice a report on February U.S. housing starts at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. Traders will examine the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sales news. The Federal Reserve concludes its meeting and is expected to announce the federal funds rate target will stay near zero at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather Moderate to heavy rain and snow will cover much of the southern Plains and southern Midwest Wednesday. This stormy pattern includes blizzard warnings in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, tornado threats in the southeastern Plains and flood risk in the southern Midwest. This stormy pattern is stressful for livestock, safety and transportation but provides continued soil moisture benefit.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


USDA Requests Information on USDA’s Climate-Smart Agriculture Strategy The Department of Agriculture is requesting public input on a climate-smart agriculture and forestry strategy. The request follows President Joe Biden’s executive order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The executive order states that America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis, and directs Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to solicit input from stakeholders as USDA develops a climate-smart agriculture and forestry approach. Vilsack states, "We want your ideas on how to position the agriculture and forestry sectors to be leaders on climate-smart practices to mitigate climate change." The request was published in a Federal Register notice, which will be available for public input until April 30, and is available online through the Federal Register. The notice seeks information on four topics: climate-smart agriculture and forestry; biofuels, bioproducts, and renewable energy; catastrophic wildfire; and meeting the needs of disadvantaged communities through USDA’s climate strategy. ************************************************************************************ Democrats Reintroduce Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act Democrats have reintroduced the Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act. The lawmakers say the bill will protect worker, consumer, and animal safety by suspending all current and future USDA waivers and regulations that allow companies to increase production line speeds at meatpacking plants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Democrat Corey Booker, along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Bennie Thompson, announced the reintroduction last week. In January, the Department of Agriculture withdrew the Trump administration's proposed rule, which would have allowed poultry processing plants to increase the speed of their production lines by 25 percent. For the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, this bill would suspend all active waivers issued by USDA and suspend USDA's authority to issue new waivers in this area. The bill would also suspend implementation of, and conversion to, the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System established under USDA's final rule published in October 2019, titled Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection. ************************************************************************************ Kind Introduces Bipartisan Legislative Fix to Protect Rural Access to Care Representative Ron Kind last week introduced the bipartisan Rural and Underserved Small Hospital Protection Act. Known as the RUSH Act, the legislation will update the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act to help ensure rural health clinics across have the resources they need to provide care for patients in rural and underserved communities. The Wisconsin Democrat says, “We must continue to support our outstanding rural health care providers and protect access to care for rural communities.” Kind says the RUSH Protection Act provides clarity after changes were made to the Rural Health Clinic reimbursement rules. Rural Health Clinics play a vital role in providing access to care for rural communities and have been on the frontlines of combatting COVID-19 in rural regions. However, due to a drafting error in the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, many are affiliated with critical access hospitals that opened in 2020 and face significant Medicare payment cuts. Kind says the legislation will correct this mistake. ************************************************************************************ CoBank Releases Spring Agronomy Outlook Farm supply cooperatives and distributors are positioned to benefit from an active and profitable spring agronomy season, according to a new report from CoBank. The report says the profitable spring is driven by high commodity prices, strong input demand and an expected increase in planted acres of soybean, corn and wheat. Ag retailers begin the 2021 planting season with favorable industry fundamentals and an opportunity to expand profit margins, according to the report. A CoBank researcher says, "Improving profits for cooperative agronomy departments should help cushion the negative carry caused by an inversion in futures prices." Given the higher acreage forecasts, farmers are expected to purchase more fertilization products during the spring planting season. Rising fertilizer prices are also a positive indicator for new sales and retailer margins. Inventory levels of seed, fertilizer and crop protection products are largely expected to be sufficient for the projected increase in spring-planted acres. However, pandemic logistics challenges may impact deliveries. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $28 Million in Wetlands Restoration The Department of Agriculture is investing $28 million in six new Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership projects and four ongoing projects. Announced Monday, the investment enables conservation partners and producers to work together to return critical wetland functions to agricultural landscapes. Partners will contribute $2.82 million, bringing the total investments to $30.82 million. Terry Cosby, acting Chief for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, says, “Wetlands have tremendous benefits ranging from cleaner water to flood prevention, to enhancing wildlife habitat to sequestering carbon.” Since 2014, similar projects across 11 states have resulted in 136 closed wetland easements and wetland easements pending closure, protecting more than 27,400 acres. In total, NRCS has supported landowners in protecting more than 2.85 million acres through wetland easement programs nationwide. The balance of the $28 million initial NRCS investment after the projects are funded is $14.7 million, which provides funding for four projects now in their second year. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year Nominations Now Open Farmers are invited to submit nominations for the 2022 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest, supported by Purina. This is the fourth year of the contest, which celebrates farm dogs and the ways they support farmers and ranchers throughout America on the farm. The grand prize winner – Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year – will win a year’s worth of Purina dog food and $5,000 in prize money. The winner will be recognized at a Farm Dog of the Year award ceremony at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in January 2022. Up to four regional runners-up will each win $1,000 in prize money. Desired attributes for the Farm Dog of the Year include helpfulness to the farmer and his/her family, playfulness and obedience. The 2022 Farm Dog of the Year will also be featured in a professionally-produced video. Eligibility guidelines and submission requirements are available online at www.fb.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Considering Future Economic Policies Bloomberg is reporting this week that the new administration is considering the first major federal tax hike since 1993 as it works to design its long-term economic program. Unlike the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus act, the next initiative, which is expected to be even bigger, won't rely just on government debt as a funding source. In fact, it has been increasingly clear for some time that tax hikes will be a component. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said at least part of the next bill will have to be paid for. Key advisers are now making preparations for a package of measures that could include an increase in both the corporate tax rate and the individual rate for high earners. The result is increasing pressure on officials like Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell who will be required to “defend his ultra-easy monetary policy outlook amid a quickening economic recovery that's ignited fears of inflation,” Bloomberg says. The Fed is wrapping up a two-day policy meeting this week, almost exactly 12 months after slashing interest rates to nearly zero as COVID-19 spread. It will publish its policy statement and quarterly forecasts at midweek and the chair is expected to hold a press conference the same day. A lot has changed in the three months since the Fed last published economic projections, Bloomberg notes, including passage of the massive fiscal stimulus and accelerating vaccinations. Powell's spent recent weeks trying to dispel premonitions about impending tightening and he'll be asked to reconcile a likely upgrade to the Fed's economic outlook and its projections that are expected to show zero interest rates through 2023. “I think this is the kind of meeting the Fed would rather not have,” said Ethan Harris, Bank of America Corp.'s head of global economic research. “the big problem that they face is that they have to raise their forecasts — the GDP forecast they have right now is so stale it could be carbon-dated.” The Fed last updated its projections in mid-December before broad distribution of vaccines and almost $3 trillion in fiscal aid was signed into law. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect Fed officials to upgrade their 2021 economic-growth forecast to a median 5.8% from 4.2%. That's still below some of the most bullish Wall Street estimates, the report said. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is calling for a 7.7% increase in the same period and 11 other firms tracked by Bloomberg say growth will be at or above 7% at the end of the year. The better outlook has raised market expectations for future inflation and prompted investors to sell bonds, pushing up yields and renewing skepticism that Powell can keep rates low for as long as the Fed has indicated. But the Fed chief is sticking to his guns, arguing that the economy has a long way to go in fully getting back to where it was before the pandemic. He's reiterated that the central bank's new policy strategy means it will focus more intently on returning to maximum employment, and will judge that in a much broader way than before. Although 75% of economists in Bloomberg's recent survey said the Fed will have to raise rates “before long,” they didn't see a change to the Fed's median 2023 projection at this month's meeting. Interest-rate futures, however, are pricing in about three 25 basis point rate increases before the end of that year. Recovery optimism reflects a sense that activity will bounce back quickly in the second half of the year. Hiring has already picked up, with more than half a million jobs created in the first two months of 2021 and some see that improvement accelerating. But as Powell pointed out earlier this month, nearly 10 million Americans remain jobless. The Black unemployment rate rose to a staggering 9.9% last month. Inflation also hasn't reflected much of a recovery yet. Stripping out more-volatile food and energy prices, the consumer price index edged up 1.3% in February, far from the Fed's 2% target. Economists expect bigger gains in the coming months, both due to transitory pandemic-related effects and things like higher gas prices and increased spending on leisure activities following a year of lockdowns. Powell last year unveiled a new policy framework, saying they'll allow inflation to overshoot 2% after periods below it. That'll likely mean the Fed will keep policy accommodative for longer. But if the quick and powerful recovery that bond traders are betting on materializes, it could cause a more disorderly sell off in Treasuries, threatening stable financial conditions, which the Fed wants to avoid. In the meantime, Powell and his colleagues have indicated they're not worried about the recent rise in Treasury yields, saying that as long as such price moves are driven by the right reasons — such as the stronger economic outlook — it's not a concern. So, we will see. Clearly, the new administration has large ambitions for new programs leading many to look for evidence of new inflation — a potential development producers should monitor closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


Vote On Tai As USTR Expected This Week The U.S. Senate will finally vote on Katherine Tai to be the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Her approval has never been in doubt, but it still took longer than most thought for her confirmation vote which should occur sometime this week as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., signaled late last week in filing cloture on the nomination. Some believe this is also why the Biden administration has been less public about their trade policy views.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


Focus On Supreme Court In April Relative To Biofuels Policy The U.S. Supreme Court April 27 will hear refiners' appeal of the Tenth Circuit Court ruling that invalidated three small refinery exemptions (SREs). The decision relates to the refiners' appeal of the ruling that said in order to be granted SREs, the refiners needed to have obtained them continuously from 2010-forward. EPA recently came out in favor of the court ruling and said that it will not act on the pending SREs until after the Supreme Court issues its decision on the matter. EPA data as of late-February showed 20 so-called “gap year” SREs were pending covering 2011-2018 compliance years, with another 30 pending for the 2019 compliance year and 16 for the 2020 compliance year. Expectations are if the Supreme Court sides with the Tenth Circuit ruling, it would dramatically reduce the granting of SREs moving forward.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Commerce Department will report on February retail sales at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday, followed by the Federal Reserve's report on February industrial production at 8:15 a.m. Traders will check the latest weather forecasts and see if any export sales news emerges. Weather Tuesday will feature a swath of rain in the southeastern U.S. along with periods of snow in the central and northern Plains and the Intermountain West. The system producing the western U.S. snow is indicated to be a rain and snow maker in the south-central U.S. Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


Kansas City Goes Year-Round on E15 The Environmental Protection Agency approved removing the low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) gasoline requirements in Kansas City. That allows the KC metro area to sell E15 year-round. Both the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources worked with the EPA to remove those requirements. “The continuing work by state agencies to reduce ozone and improve the air quality for the Kansas City region is what made this move possible,” says Acting EPA Region Seven Administrator Ed Chu. Growth Energy says the announcement is a big step for Kansas City and a continuation of their hard work to improve their air quality and address environmental issues. “Allowing the year-round sale of E15 will help strengthen these clean energy efforts and give Kansas City area residents more access to cleaner and more affordable fuel options,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. A recent report says switching from E10 to E 15 across the country would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 20 million tons per year. “Ethanol’s benefits are tangible and will help Kansas City protect human health and help decarbonize the country’s transportation system,” she adds. ********************************************************************************************** ITC Placing Duties on Phosphate Fertilizer Imports The U.S. International Trade Commission says phosphate fertilizer imports from Morocco and Russia have affected the U.S. fertilizer market. The ITC also says it will place a countervailing duty on the imports from those countries. U.S. commodity groups have warned that new duties on imported phosphate fertilizers would raise prices by more than $80 a ton. A DTN report says the ITC voted 4-1 in favor of the countervailing duties. The ruling comes a month after the Department of Commerce recommended the tariffs get placed on phosphorous fertilizer imports. Mosaic filed petitions last year to request the start of a countervailing duty investigation. The company said foreign subsidies on imports are unfair and that these duties would restore competitiveness in the U.S. market. “Today’s decision upholds our belief that fair trade is the bedrock of a healthy U.S. economy and that American farmers will benefit from having a more competitive American fertilizer industry,” says Mosaic in a news release. Moroccan importer OCP says in a news release that it disagreed with the ruling and will cooperate with U.S. authorities. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Organizations Want Continued Market Development Funding The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports says farmers and rural businesses need continued investment in the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program. Those programs are necessary to make up for the lost export opportunities brought on by COVID-19 and fight foreign competition. The coalition sent a letter on that topic to House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee leaders that was signed by 130 agricultural organizations. “Studies show these public-private programs provide a rate of return that far exceeds their public expense,” says Robbie Minnich, Coalition Chair and Senior Government Relations Representative with the National Cotton Council. “Our organizations are asking leadership to provide $255 million for Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation apportioned under the Farm Bill, and from that amount, MAP should receive at least $200 million to promote agri-food products in China, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and Mexico.” The coalition says fully-funded export programs are critical to helping U.S. farmers, ranchers, and food exporters keep pace with the rest of the world’s exporting countries.” ********************************************************************************************** Ag Market Outlook is More Optimistic The USDA’s Food and Ag Policy Research Institute says the Market Outlook Report is uncertain, but it’s more optimistic than it was a few months ago. The most recent baseline projections for agricultural and biofuel markets were prepared using market information available as of January 2021. The agency says commodity markets will continue to be volatile. Some of the key findings include major crop prices will retreat from recent peaks but remain above the prices from 2015-2019. Projected corn prices in 2021 will average $4.06 a bushel, and soybeans will average $10.61. Increasing Chinese imports are behind the recent strength in grain and oilseed markets. If China’s purchasing pace continues, exports and market prices could be higher than projected. However, if purchases falter, there is a downside risk as well. The report also says higher prices and assumed normal spring planting conditions would allow the 2021 total area planted to major crops to rebound to 2018 levels. The average prices for livestock should increase this year as the sector returns to more normal operating conditions after the plant closures and other disruptions during last year. Lastly, after COVID reduced driving and fuel use in 2020, projected ethanol production and use will increase this year but won’t immediately bounce back to pre-COVID levels. ********************************************************************************************** Soy Checkoff Research Shows Strong Trust in U.S. Farmers The United Soybean Board released the results of a consumer survey that sheds light on the needs and perceptions of people nationwide about their food supply. The dependability of farmers who nourish the world hasn’t gone unnoticed. U.S. farmers rank as the most trusted members of the supply chain when it comes to ensuring its safety, taking the top spot in 78 percent of consumer responses. “We knew it was vital to understand the values of the very people who purchase the products our farmers grow,” says Mace Thornton, USB vice president of communications and marketing strategy. Some of the key findings include 79 percent of consumers having either a very or somewhat positive view of U.S. farmers who grow crops, including soybeans. Consumers are united in their support for domestic agriculture, with 70 percent saying it’s somewhat or very important to buy food made with U.S.-grown crops. Sixty percent of the respondents see soybeans as healthy, while 26 percent are neutral on the idea. Less than half are aware that the soybeans used to make their favorite products are sustainably grown. ************************************************************************************ USDA Offers Renewals for CSP Contracts Set to Close The USDA says it’s accepting Conservation Stewardship Program renewal applications through March 31 for over 11,000 contracts set to end this year. More than nine million acres are currently enrolled in the CSP, USDA’s largest working lands conservation program. “In the fiscal year 2020, NRCS helped enhance 9.3 million acres of land enrolled in CSP,” says Terry Crosby, Acting Chief for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “CSP continues to prove its worth by helping farmers and ranchers advance their business operations through conservation enhancements on their land that sustain the natural resources that improve productivity and their bottom lines.” Participants with existing CSP contracts that close on December 31 of this year can benefit from recent program changes by renewing their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional conservation practices on their land. Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by March 31.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Administration Economic Activism The Hill is reporting this week that President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief act this week is being heralded as a “bridge for low-to-middle income households to” cope financially until vaccines enable the U.S. economy to function normally. The program is popular because of its benefits: large direct payments and funding for the “rollout” of vaccines and enhancements for school safety — as well as $350 billion of support for state and local assistance. Many of the provisions will lapse after specified periods, but advocates are pushing for permanent increases for child-tax-credits—supports estimated to cost more than $100 billion annually in the provision of “permanent assistance to families.” However, a main item on the Democrat's wish list was not included and that was the proposed doubling in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. However, progressives indicate they will seek separate legislation on this issue. The Hill argues that the main issue for investors is increasingly what the “overall budgetary impact of increased federal spending” will be. Last year, the federal deficit ballooned to a post-war high of nearly 14% of GDP — an increasingly controversial policy seen by many as boosting the risk of higher inflation and interest rates in the future. This view is enunciated in detail by Michael Bordo and Mickey Levy, who have studied the relationship between expansionary fiscal policies and inflation for over two centuries, the Hill says. They suggest that a key difference from the 2008 global financial crisis is the growth in the money supply which has surged this past year partly as a result of excess saving associated with COVID transfer payments. Meanwhile, the increase in federal debt outstanding has created a situation of “fiscal dominance” in which the Fed is compelled to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future to keep the government's debt service costs manageable. For some observers, these conditions are similar to those that developed in the mid-late 1960s when President Lyndon Johnson expanded “Great Society” programs as the Vietnam War was ramping up. The initiatives included a “War on Poverty,” Medicare and Medicaid, the Head Start program, urban renewal and the Motor Vehicle Air and Pollution Control Act. When these programs were first unveiled the federal budget was close to balance and interest rates and inflation were low. Thereafter, federal spending rose by 50% as social programs expanded and costs for the Vietnam War rose. Because tax rates then were substantially higher than today (with the top marginal tax rate for households at 70%) the increase in the federal budget deficit did not rise above 3% of GDP. Nonetheless, consumer price inflation, which was only 1% at the beginning of the 1960s, rose steadily in the second half and approached 6% in 1970. The principal reason was the Fed's slow pace for interest rate increases as inflation expectations increased. The situation culminated with the first U.S. dollar devaluation in December 1971 that was the precursor of the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, The Hill says. By comparison, few economists today believe the economy is headed for a repeat of the 1960s and 1970s because the Fed has “regained its credibility as an inflation fighter in the 1980s and it has kept inflation at or below its target of 2% for several decades now.” Accordingly, proponents of fiscal stimulus contend low interest rates mean the opportunity costs for new programs are low. However, even if inflation does not resurface quickly with unemployment still elevated, the likelihood is that Treasury bond yields will continue to climb as the economy recovers. Ten-year yields have already increased by more than 50 basis points this year to 1.6% recently and they could reach or surpass 2% as COVID vaccines become widespread and businesses resume normal operations. Beyond the near term, the big issue is how much, or whether, government programs will be rolled back as economic conditions improve. The main cost incurred by the “Great Society” — added healthcare expenses associated with Medicare and Medicaid — did not show up immediately but grew exponentially over time. For example, U.S. spending on healthcare was only 5% of GDP when these programs were launched as compared with 18% today and federal programs now account for nearly one third of the total. Observers continue to argue that it is clear that the pace of increase of federal debt held by the public over the past decade is not sustainable: It has doubled to nearly 80% of GDP from less than 40% before the 2008 global financial crisis. Moreover, some forecasts call for further increases in the coming decade. Meanwhile, the administration is expected to unveil its plans for boosting taxes on corporations and the wealthy to help to defray some of the costs of the federal programs enacted. According to Wharton's Budget model the tally could exceed $3 trillion over the coming decade, while other forecasts call for taxes to increase between $1 trillion to $2 trillion. Only as actual tax increases are finalized, will investors have a clearer idea of the sustainability of the budgetary outlook. So, we will see. It is clear that the size and impacts of the public debt are expected to become increasingly important as new social programs are implemented — fights that are increasingly important to producers and which should be watched closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


Still Skepticism Over Climate Change Efforts Ahead For US Ag Policy Farmers and ranchers have expressed skepticism about a forthcoming push for climate change proposals, and their views were echoed in a Senate Ag Committee hearing Thursday on the climate situation. Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., noted his concerns that carbon credits will not benefit farmers significantly or broadly enough. “This may be a potential income stream for some producers, which is a good thing. But for others it could be cost prohibitive,” he said. Boozman stressed anxiety that Democrats would use the budget reconciliation process to pass a climate bill backed by President Joe Biden and Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., with minimal or no Republican support. Boozman highlighted how chicken, beef, dairy and rice industries have increased production with a significantly reduced environmental impact over recent decades. He noted how “exciting new opportunities to compensate farmers and foresters for these environmental gains hold promise,” but he cautioned there are complex barriers that must be eliminated in this uncertain marketplace. “There are costs associated with verification, validation, technical services, new technologies and equipment, and often times costs associated with reduced yields. These costs add up and can become prohibitive. For this new opportunity to be viable for producers and forest owners, the benefits must outweigh the risks and costs they take on,” he said. The American Farm Bureau Federation said it would not support a partisan climate bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


USITC Sides With Mosaic In Phosphate Fertilizer Case The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) Thursday voted that imports of phosphate fertilizers from Morocco and Russia are causing material injury to the U.S. phosphate industry, the result of a complaint brought by the U.S. fertilizer company Mosaic. The vote was four-to-one in the decision which followed a determination by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) that the imports were subsidized by the governments of Morocco and Russia. Chair Jason Kearns, Vice Chair Randolph Stayin, and Commissioners Rhonda Schmidtlein and Amy Karpel voted in the affirmative while Commissioner David Johanson voted in the negative. DOC will now issue countervailing duty orders on imports of phosphate fertilizers from Morocco and Russia. The USITC will issue a final report Phosphate Fertilizers from Morocco and Russia that will contain the views of the Commission and information developed during the investigations. The report is to be made available by April 13. USITC will provide their determination to DOC March 30. Morocco's OCP issued a statement countering the ITC ruling, saying there is “no basis” for the imposition of a 19.97% countervailing duty on exports of phosphate fertilizer from Morocco. “Despite this decision, OCP recognizes the supply challenges that American farmers face and is determined to serve them in the future, and will explore the most appropriate options to do so,” OCP said.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Starting a new week, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and take a timeout at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. As usual, USDA's weekly grain inspections report is set for 10 a.m. CST and this time is followed by USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook at 11 a.m. and a weekly cattle slaughter summary later Monday morning. Weather Monday brings moderate to heavy snow to the north-central Plains and northern Midwest, with moderate to locally heavy rain moving through the central and southern Midwest. This storm system brought record heavy rain and snow to the western and central Plains and western Midwest during the past weekend. Moisture is beneficial for winter wheat and for drought easing, but hazardous for safety, transportation and livestock. A new system forming in the Far West will cross the Plains and Midwest later this week

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Senate Ag Committee Holds Climate Change Hearing The Senate Agriculture Committee held its first hearing on climate change Thursday. Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, says sustainable practices farmers are using now help cut down their emissions. Stabenow says, “now it’s time to dramatically scale up this work.” Oklahoma Farmer Clay Pope, representing National Farmers Union, detailed how the Department of Agriculture helped his farm convert to no-till and cover crops. Pope says, “Our investment in soil health has helped us better prepare for climate change in a way that’s helped both our bottom line and the environment.” Cori Wittman, representing the Environmental Defense, told the committee, “we need robust investment and research” to develop methods to address agriculture’s role in climate change. Wittman called on lawmakers to support the design of voluntary, incentive-based programs. Top Republican on the Committee, John Boozman of Arkansas, says, “While protecting our climate is critical, we must avoid a heavy-handed government approach.” The committee also heard testimony from representatives of USA Rice, GROWMARK and Arizona Farm Bureau. ************************************************************************************ EPA Considers Combining 2021-22 Biofuel Blending Targets The Environmental Protection Agency is mulling over the idea to combine 2021 and 2022 biofuel blending obligations, according to a report by Reuters. The EPA has in the past combined biofuel targets after missing deadlines, most recently in 2015, when it announced 2014, 2015 and 2016 targets at the same time. Biofuel targets must be published annually under the Renewable Fuel Standard, outlining how many gallons of biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel refineries must blend into fuels. Trump administration EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler opted to delay the announcement last year, awaiting action in a Supreme Court case. The RFS has been long plagued by a battle between the oil industry and the biofuels industry. Ethanol production reached five-year lows last month, following demand destruction from EPA small refinery exemptions and the coronavirus pandemic. However, the industry sees the Biden Administration's priority on climate as an opportunity to include biofuels in climate change policies. ************************************************************************************ AEM Reports Monthly Equipment Sales Farm tractor and combine sales continue to increase in both the U.S. and Canada, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. AEM released February sales data this week, showing U.S. tractor sales were up 41 percent from the same month last year. For the first two months in 2021, more than 32,000 tractors were sold, which compares to 23,900 sold through February 2020, representing a 34 percent increase year to date. For the month, sales of two-wheel drive smaller tractors, under 40 horsepower, were up 47 percent from last year. Sales of 40 to 100 horsepower machines were up 28 percent. Meanwhile, sales of two-wheel drive 100-plus horsepower tractors were up 46 percent, while four-wheel drive tractors sales were down three percent. Combine sales were down 19 percent for the month. Sales of combines for the two months totaled 544, increasing 25 percent over the same period in 2020. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Welcome Senate Confirmation of EPA Administrator Farm groups welcome the confirmation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, hoping for more transparency than in previous administrations. Specifically, biofuels groups are seeking more support for the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Senate confirmed Regan to the post Wednesday. During his confirmation hearing, Regan emphasized that the "RFS is definitely a priority for this administration." Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor congratulated Regan, while saying, “Administrator Regan has been on the record supporting biofuels as critical to help meet an ambitious climate agenda.” Crop Life American President and CEO says Regan’s commitment to reaching out and working with agriculture, “will be critical in developing solutions to address climate and to enhance the credibility and transparency” at the EPA. House Agriculture Chair David Scott joined the crowd congratulating Regan. Scott says he’ll work with the new EPA administrator to “ensure EPA's pesticide registration programs remain trusted and science-based,” along with the role of the RFS to mitigate climate change. ************************************************************************************ World Pork Expo Slated to Return After Two Year Delay World Pork Expo is back on the schedule this year, following a two-year hiatus. The 2021 World Pork Expo will occur at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, June 9-11. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, "We look forward to connecting with our fellow producers, business partners and others who contribute to our nation's essential pork production system." World Pork Expo in 2019 was canceled "out of an abundance of caution" as African swine fever spread at the time in foreign nations. The coronavirus pandemic forced cancelation of the event in 2020. NPPC will continue to monitor developments in COVID-19 guidelines for World Pork Expo to ensure the health and safety of all participants. Sorenson says, “A safe event is our number one priority, adding, “We will implement appropriate precautionary measures to ensure a great experience.” Registration information will soon be available online for those who plan to attend the 2021 World Pork Expo. ************************************************************************************ NASDA CEO Announces Retirement Barb Glenn, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, announced she would retire from her position this fall. Serving the organization over the last seven years, Glenn has marshaled NASDA as the unified voice for agriculture, but the organization says her influence on the industry stretches over her 40-year career. Glenn says, “It has been an honor to serve state agriculture departments and amplify their united voice.” NASDA President Ryan Quarles reflected on Glenn’s contributions, saying, “Glenn has worked tirelessly for more than four decades, benefiting all who rely on agriculture.” Glenn has spent her entire career serving the agriculture community. In 2014, Glenn was selected to serve as NASDA’s CEO. Glenn will remain in her position as NASDA CEO through early fall 2021 and will assist with the transition. NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association representing elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of state departments of agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Searching for Broader Support in Infrastructure Bloomberg is reporting this week that a key discussion underway now concerns whether the next legislative goal be bipartisan or single-party only? The current view is that the administration will need GOP support for central parts of an expected infrastructure package which can't pass through expedited procedures. After advancing the new COVID-19 relief package without Republican support, the Biden administration and congressional Democrats have signaled interest in greater bipartisan support for infrastructure and haven't ruled out using reconciliation to achieve that. One option would let them pass a bill without Republican support in the Senate, but would limit it to provisions that affect revenue or spending. “We don't prefer going solo,” said Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser at the White House. “We may have to do that, but that's not our first choice.” Tied to the infrastructure push, lawmakers face a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize highway, transit, and rail programs. Analysts think that much of what Congress would do in a surface transportation reauthorization bill, including moving funds from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund, can't be done under the current rules for budget reconciliation. That could make it harder to reauthorize highway programs at the same time enacting an infrastructure package. Reconciliation means problems for the administration's agenda because of things that “do not fit,” said Tori Gorman, policy director for the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that focuses on the federal budget. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he is “not ready to take any option off the table at this point.” Rep. David Price, D-N.C., chair of the House Appropriations panel that oversees transportation, said he is working with the administration to determine the best path forward — including how to structure a major infrastructure package alongside surface transportation reauthorization. His preference is to “move forward on a robust infrastructure stimulus plan that is as bipartisan as possible,” he said. “The reconciliation process comes with a host of restrictions and limitations, but it is a potential option,” he added. Neither lawmaker described how they would approach elements of the highway bill that can't be passed under reconciliation. The Senate's Byrd Rule, adopted in the 1980s, allows reconciliation to be used only for provisions that affect the deficit and prohibits “extraneous” material if Senators enforce the rule. Analysts say the traditional way that surface transportation programs have been funded wouldn't comply with that rule. The Highway Trust Fund, the main source of federal money for highways and transit, is nearing insolvency. Last year's House infrastructure bill, which some Democrats plan to use as the template for this year, included a $145.3 billion transfer from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund. That transfer likely wouldn't be possible in reconciliation because it wouldn't affect the deficit, said Jeff Davis, a senior fellow with the Eno Center for Transportation think tank. Outlays from the fund also wouldn't meet reconciliation requirements. Davis said highway bills passed using regular order have been able to inject funding into the trust fund to keep it solvent. “But the downside is that everything in reconciliation has to be completely on the mandatory side of the scorecard, which means that you can't really do any spending from the trust fund the way it's currently set up, and you can't do any bailout of the trust fund because those bailouts don't score,” he said. However, Congress could tweak the rate of the motor fuels tax — the main source of money for the Highway Trust Fund — under reconciliation since it would affect revenue, Davis said. Senators may also have an opportunity to include specific scoring directions in the budget resolution that would lay the groundwork for the bill passed using reconciliation, the Concord Coalition's Gorman said. The Biden administration campaigned on a $2 trillion infrastructure package to help with economic recovery and tackle climate goals. Mandatory spending on infrastructure could pass through reconciliation, but would need to follow stricter guidelines and might still face hurdles depending on decisions by the Senate Parliamentarian rules. Legislation under the Byrd Rule can't increase the deficit beyond a designated time frame, such as 10 years, so spending on infrastructure would have to be temporary or have a corresponding offset, said Zach Moller, deputy director of the Economic Program at the think tank Third Way. That restriction would make it difficult to fund larger projects like high-speed rail, which can take many years to develop and construct. So, we will see. There appears to be solid political support for infrastructure investment just now, but whether that would attract minority support in the Senate remains to be seen. This is likely to be an important debate producers should watch as it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Still Waiting On US-EU Tariff Suspensions In Aircraft Dispute The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative published the formal notice of the suspension of additional tariffs on goods from the UK for four months, with the tariff suspension effective March 4 in the civilian aircraft dispute. The UK had suspended its tariffs on U.S. goods as of January 1. But there has not yet been the formal notice on a suspension of tariffs between the U.S. and European Union (EU) that was announced this week. In announcing the two sides would suspend tariffs for four months in a bid to work out a resolution to the dispute, the countries said the suspension would be “effective as soon as the internal procedures on both sides are completed.” Presumably, that means for the U.S. side that the notice be published in the Federal Register, but so far there has been not action taken as of yet.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Reuters: Biden EPA Mulling Combining 2021, 2022 Biofuel Requirements The Biden administration is mulling a plan to combine the 2021 biofuel (and 2022 biodiesel) proposed levels with those for 2022 biofuels (and 2023 biodiesel). This would not be without precedent, as there was a similar action in 2015 when the Obama administration issued the 2014, 2015 and 2016 biofuel requirements at the same time. EPA did not comment on the possibility except to say the agency was looking at options. The coming biofuel decisions are among several the Biden EPA has in front of them, including decisions on small refinery exemptions (SREs) which they say will not be made until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a case relative to the 10th Circuit Court decision which invalidated three SREs for the 2016 compliance year. EPA has also come out and said they now back the 10th Circuit reading, signaling that the administration may make limited use of the SREs in the future.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will release its report on producer prices at 7:30 a.m. CST Friday, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. Traders will look over the latest weather forecast and watch for any news of export sales ahead of the weekend. USDA has yet to announce any daily export sale for an old-crop grain or oilseed in March. Weather Moderate to locally heavy rain is in store for portions of the southern Plains and southern Midwest Friday. The rain will improve soil moisture for winter wheat but also brings a threat of flooding. We'll also see periods of snow in the western High Plains. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. The forecast continues to suggest heavy rain and snow in the central U.S. during the weekend and early next week.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


American Rescue Plan Act Passes Congress Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack touted provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress this week. The House of Representatives passed the bill Wednesday afternoon, following previous Senate approval, which made a few changes to the legislation previously passed by the House. Vilsack says, “America’s farmers, ranchers and producers will reap the benefits of the American Rescue Plan as more resources flow through the economy.” In rural America, Vilsack says the plan provides significant investments to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages, property taxes and property insurance. It expands rental assistance and funds broadband to schools and hospitals, and other community facilities. He adds, the bill “provides historic debt relief to Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and other farmers of color who for generations have struggled to fully succeed due to systemic discrimination and a cycle of debt.” National Farmers Union says the bill “provides a lifeline” for struggling Americans and takes “several steps towards more meaningful, enduring improvements” in the food system. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Welcome Death Tax Repeal Legislation Legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would eliminate the estate tax. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act temporarily doubles the estate tax exemption to $11 million per person indexed for inflation through 2025. However, without congressional action, the estate tax exemption will revert to $5.5 million per person in 2026, putting even more farms and ranches at risk. And some lawmakers are hoping to end the extension to pay for spending priorities. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “Eliminating the estate tax removes another barrier to entry” for future family farmers. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jerry Bohn says, “The estate tax disproportionately harms cattle producers because with few options to pay off tax liabilities," while announcing the organization's support for the bills. The effort, however, is largely symbolic. Previous efforts failed to gain traction during the Trump administration, when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate. ************************************************************************************ USDA Delays Signup for Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands The Department of Agriculture is postponing the Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands signup originally planned to start mid-March. Announced this week, USDA is currently evaluating the program and ways to increase enrollment. The Department says it will announce new signup dates in the coming weeks. CRP Grasslands helps producers and landowners protect grassland while enabling grazing activities to continue. Lands enrolled support grazing operations and promote plant and animal biodiversity. Lands are also protected from being developed. Timing of some activities, such as haying or mowing, may be restricted by the primary nesting season of birds. The CRP general signup began January 4, 2021. USDA’s Farm Service Agency extended the original deadline, and a new deadline has not been set. This signup includes increased opportunities for enrollment of wildlife habitat through the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement initiative. The program provides annual rental payments for 10 to 15 years for land devoted to conservation purposes. ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Call on USDA to Support Biofuels Industry A group of Senators wants the Department of Agriculture to assist biofuel producers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. The group includes Republican Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds of South Dakota and others, led by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar. Additional funding was added to the Commodity Credit Corporation by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stabilization Act. The lawmakers request Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "use this explicit authority to aid the nation's biofuels industry." The Trump administration claimed using the funds would go against congressional intent. The lawmakers tell the Joe Biden administration that the funds are intended for the biofuels industry. The Senators write to Vilsack, “We have been encouraged by your recent statements at your confirmation hearing that you will fully utilize USDA resources to get biofuel producers back on track and will aid the Biden Administration in restoring the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard.” ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Create an Intelligence Office in USDA A Group of House Representatives this week introduced the Agricultural Intelligence Measures Act. The bill would establish an Office of Intelligence within the Department of Agriculture. The lawmakers say the office would utilize the intelligence community to ensure the Secretary of Agriculture is fully informed of all imminent threats to American agriculture. The highly specialized office would work to understand any efforts to steal U.S. agriculture knowledge and technology and develop or implement biological warfare attacks, cyber or clandestine operations, or other means of sabotaging and disrupting the agriculture industry. Introducing the bill, Arkansas Republican Representative Rick Crawford states, "the complex supply chain and invaluable nature of the agriculture industry means it is particularly vulnerable." Crawford adds that "Agriculture security is national security," calling the legislation a critical first step to safer food, farms and a safer future. Co-sponsor, Ohio Republican Representative Mike Turner, adds, the legislation “will help safeguard the agriculture industry” from foreign and domestic threats. ************************************************************************************ State Officials Recommend Enhancements to Farmers to Families Food Box Program State agriculture officials ask Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide recommend adjustments to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture this week outlined recommendations to promote equity in farmers’ access to the program and remove unnecessary barriers of entry. Recommendations include considering the adverse impact on smaller farms when awarding contracts based on price, enabling vendors to curate boxes based on local preference and availability of food, and encouraging the participation of socially disadvantaged farmers. NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn states, “with some enhancements, we can extraordinarily expand the benefits of the program by allowing more producers to contribute and increasing the amount of food we can share.” NASDA members voted during the NASDA 2021 Winter Policy Conference to advocate for changes to the Farmers to Families Food Box program based on feedback from their relationships with farmers, ranchers, vendors and food box recipients.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Modified USDA Biodiesel Reports Coming Vegetable-based fuels are important markets for U.S. producers and future growth is expected. On the basis of biodiesel's environmental benefits, ease of use, availability of federal and state financial and other incentives, and the federal Renewable Fuels Standard Program contributed to the growth in U.S. biodiesel consumption/demand from about 10 million gallons in 2001 to about 2 billion gallons in 2016. The growth came in spite of reduced consumption (and imports) in 2017 through 2019 because of duties imposed in 2017 on imports from Argentina and Indonesia. This policy effectively removed all of those imports from U.S. supply in 2018 and 2019, EPA says. U.S. renewable diesel production, imports, and consumption are concentrated in California where nearly all of U.S. production and all imported renewable diesel are consumed “mainly because of the economic benefits for its use in California under California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard.” This week, Reuters is reporting that USDA and the U.S. Department of Energy plan to change two closely watched monthly reports to account for the rapid growth of the fuel. The report cited government sources and indicated that “surging demand for renewable diesel is part of a larger global transition to green fuels and could increase prices of crops such as soybeans and canola it is derived from.” Reuters said details about the planned new reports came from USDA's monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates. The changes are expected to be in place as early as this spring, an agency official told Reuters. They would be included “only after the U.S. Energy Information Administration begins reporting more detailed data on the renewable diesel sector,” Keith Menzie, an economist at USDA's World Agricultural Outlook Board told Reuters. The EIA is planning to begin incorporating renewable diesel data in its Petroleum Supply Monthly report, with a goal to publish data for January by the end of this month, the agency said. The unusual change to USDA's WASDE report, viewed as the “global gold standard” of agricultural commodities data, would reflect the strong demand potential for soyoil at a time U.S. soybean supplies are the lowest in years. "We're taking our lead from EIA. When they start publishing data, we will add that to the WASDE table," Menzie said. "It could be as soon as May." Reuters notes that “renewable diesel” can power conventional engines without being blended with diesel derived from crude oil, making it attractive for refiners aiming to produce low-pollution options. Production of the fuel is expected to nearly quintuple over the next three years, according to investment bank Goldman Sachs. It uses a variety of feedstocks ranging from plant oils and animal fats to used cooking oil. The USDA's updated soyoil supply-and-demand forecast would combine information on use by biodiesel producers and renewable diesel producers to adhere to its reporting confidentiality guidelines, Menzie said. "This will allow us to be more granular in terms of the energy component and the food component," he said. Soyoil use by renewable diesel producers is currently included in a broad category of data that also includes use in food and livestock feed. The U.S. Energy Information Agency notes that most of the large trucks, buses, and tractors in the United States and around the world have diesel engines and that diesel-powered cars and light trucks are common in many countries. Most “diesel fuel” is refined from crude oil—"petroleum diesel.” Biomass-based diesel fuels are made from biomass or materials derived from biomass and include biodiesel and renewable diesel. They are mostly produced for use in diesel engines, but they can also be used as distillate heating fuels. Both fuels can be used as direct substitutes for petroleum diesel and provide the same vehicle fuel economy as petroleum diesel fuel does. In 2019, the United States consumed about 43 million barrels of biomass-based diesel fuel, nearly all consumed as biodiesel blends with petroleum diesel and data has not previously been reported specifically for renewable diesel consumption. However, the EPA estimates that total U.S. renewable diesel consumption was about 900 million gallons. Many countries encourage the use of biodiesel. In 2001, total world biodiesel consumption was about 0.3 billion gallons in at least 56 countries. U.S. consumption accounted for about 22% of the global total in 2016. So, we will see. It is no surprise that the new administration's programs will include additional support for biofuels, a move that can be expected to have positive price and returns impacts for producers, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


Former House Ag Chair Peterson To Join Combest, Sell Former House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will join the Washington lobbying firm of Combest, Sell & Associates to “form a bipartisan alliance to protect and promote rural American and U.S. farmers and ranchers,” according to a release from the firm. Peterson his “vast experience” in an advisory and consulting role with Combest Sell & Associates, but will not be able to lobby in the near term due to restrictions on former lawmakers—Peterson was defeated in his reelection bid in November. Though unable to lobby, the firm said Peterson would “engage with current and future Combest Sell clients who seek to promote and protect policies that bolster U.S. agriculture and rural America.” Noting that that they can come at issues from “different political perspectives,” Tom Sell said teaming up with Peterson will promote “a dynamic and diverse U.S. ag sector rooted in the family farms that bring stewardship and entrepreneurial creativity to the critical work they perform each day.” Peterson said of joining the firm that Combest Sell has a “strong reputation” with their work on ag issues and that they now “we hope to raise the bar for all those affected by farm and food policy—providing wise counsel and building the case for strong and fair policies going forward.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


USDA's Vilsack Discusses Ag, Trade Issues With EU Counterpart USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with European Union Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Janusz Wojciechowski Tuesday, focusing on “environment, rural economies, and trade,” according to an email sent to news organizations from a USDA spokesperson. “The secretary stated that he looks forward to a positive working relationship with the EU, as our shared interests should help us find positive solutions to challenges facing agriculture, and address longstanding issues.” From the European side, Wojciechowski said on social media, “1st exchange with new US Secretary for Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Happy to share similar views on issues of common interest such as sustainability, climate change and organics, where active bilateral cooperation is needed.” He also noted that “collaboration is crucial for both sides.” He also pointed to the suspension of tariffs in the civil aircraft dispute and agricultural quotas for the US following Brexit as signs of “positive bilateral work.” Reports indicate Vilsack did not focus on the EU Farm to Fork initiative, an effort heavily criticized by the Trump administration as potentially reducing EU food supplies and setting new trade barriers in place. Initial sessions between government officials are usually short on any substantive results and usually are characterized as positive or constructive by the officials involved. Future discussions on key areas of trade and ag policy will be even more important to monitor for those reasons.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday. Traders will pause at 8 a.m. to see if USDA has an export sale announcement and check the latest weather forecasts for both South and North America. The U.S. Energy Department reports on natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Weather Light to moderate rain showers are in store from the southeastern Plains through the southern and eastern Midwest Thursday. We'll also see periods of snow in the extreme northern Midwest. Other primary crop areas will be dry. A storm system bringing snow to the Intermountain West is on track to be a heavy rain and snow producer in the central U.S. during the coming weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 10, 2021 |


Little Change in Latest WASDE Report The Department of Agriculture's latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand report offered little change from February estimates. Released Tuesday, this month's 2020/21 U.S. corn supply and use outlook is unchanged from last month. The projected season-average farm price is unchanged at $4.30 per bushel. U.S. soybean supply and use projections for 2020/21 are mostly unchanged this month. With soybean crush and exports projected at 2.20 billion bushels and 2.25 billion bushels, respectively, ending stocks remain at 120 million bushels, down 405 million from last year's record. The U.S. season-average soybean price is projected at $11.15 per bushel, unchanged from last month. Although current cash prices are significantly higher, prices received through January have averaged just over $10.00 per bushel, reflecting forward pricing at lower prices. The supply and demand outlook for 2020/21 U.S. wheat is mostly unchanged this month, but there are offsetting by-class changes to exports and imports. The season-average farm price is unchanged at $5.00 per bushel. ************************************************************************************ January Red Meat Exports Below Year-Ago Levels Amid Transportation, Labor Challenges U.S. beef and pork exports opened 2021 below the large volumes posted a year ago, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Beef exports totaled 105,000 metric tons in January, down two percent from a year ago, while value slipped three percent to $653 million. The decline was mainly due to lower beef variety meat shipments, as muscle cut exports were steady and accounted for a larger share of production than a year ago. January beef exports were strong to South Korea and continued to gain momentum in China. Following a down year in 2020, exports also rebounded to the Middle East. January pork exports totaled 248,600 metric tons, down nine percent from a year ago but slightly above USMEF's projections. Export value was down 13 percent to $642.8 million. Pork muscle cut exports were down 11 percent in volume and 15 percent in value, while pork variety meat shipments trended modestly higher than a year ago. ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends Free Meals to Children through Summer 2021 Due to Pandemic The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the nationwide extension of waivers that allow all children to continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session. These flexibilities are now available through Sept. 30, 2021. USDA is extending the waivers to provide local program operators with clarity and certainty for the summer months ahead, when many children cannot access the school meals they depend on during the academic year. The waivers were previously extended only through June 30, 2021. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “We will do everything we can to make sure children get access to healthy.” The waivers extended Tuesday allow for safe meal distribution sites that serve all children for free, regardless of income. The waivers also allow meals served through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option – collectively known as “summer meal programs” – to be made available in all areas at no cost. ************************************************************************************ Application Deadline for REAP Program is Nears The application deadline for the Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, is quickly approaching on March 31, 2021. The REAP program is designed to help rural businesses and farmers to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. Funds may be used for the purchase, installation, and construction of renewable energy systems, such as a $2,500 minimum and $500,000 maximum grant. The loan guarantee percentage is published annually in a Federal Register notice. REAP loans approved in Fiscal Year 2021 will receive an 80 percent guarantee. Grants are for up to 25 percent of total eligible project costs, and combined grant and loan guarantee funding is up to 75 percent of total eligible project costs. Grants can be used for projects including biomass, geothermal use, hydropower, wind generation and solar. Other examples include energy efficiency improvements, insulation, lighting, refrigeration units, doors and windows and switching irrigation from diesel to electric. Contact your USDA Service Center to learn more. **************************