| Main | | Idaho Radio Shows | | Montana Radio Shows | | KMON Radio Shows | | Rodeo Profiles | | Useful Websites | | Facebook |

| Rural Advocate News | Sunday December 9, 2018 |


Pelosi: USMCA Needs Changes House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi caused doubt about whether or not Congress will approve the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement. Pelosi and her party take control of the House next year. The Canadian Press says Pelosi met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in her Capitol Hill office before issuing a statement that said the trade pact does have some positive aspects to it. However, she says, “It’s just a list without real enforcement of the labor and environmental positions.” In the statement, Pelosi said she and Lighthizer had a “constructive conversation.” The chief trade negotiator says that he wants Democrats to not only vote for the deal but to “be happy with the agreement.” Meantime, President Trump is now threatening to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. That might potentially leave lawmakers either ratifying his trade agreement or going back to the pre-NAFTA trade laws. Pelosi called Trump’s tactic “disappointing but not surprising. ********************************************************************************************** Dairy Farmers Want Access to Japan America’s dairy farmers are urging President Trump to work on opening up the Japanese market as soon as possible. Officials are getting ready to begin trade talks between the two countries next month. The National Milk Producers Federation was one of four groups that gave testimony at the U.S. International Trade Commission hearing on the potential trade pact. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will also hold a hearing on Monday about the possible agreement with Japan. U.S. dairy exports to Japan could grow by 450 percent if American farmers had full access to the country’s market. It would also raise dairy farmers’ income by up to $12 billion over the next decade. However, Politico says there might be a problem with that idea. President Trump has already agreed not to press the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe (AH-bay) to expand access to Japan’s ag markets when they agreed back in September to start talks aimed at establishing a bilateral agreement between the nations. ********************************************************************************************** October Tariffs Highest in History Tariffs Hurt the Heartland released data that showed an increase in import tariffs and falling U.S. exports due to new tariffs and international retaliation. They say tariff costs to U.S. businesses have never been higher. The data is drawn from U.S. Census statistics on tariffs. It includes the first look at the full weight of the tariffs that were imposed on $200 billion in Chinese imports, as well as the impact of trade retaliation. The data shows that U.S. businesses paid $6.2 billion in tariffs during October. That’s the highest monthly amount in U.S. history. It’s also more than twice the amount that businesses paid in tariff costs last year. A Tariffs Hurt the Heartland release says the numbers don’t lie. “Americans are paying these taxes and they’re paying more than ever before,” says group spokesman Charles Boustany (boo-STAN-ee). The tariffs aren’t making our country wealthier, they’re doing the exact opposite.” Boustany says the data shows that the tariffs have been an unmitigated failure in achieving any of the Administrations’ goals. The former Congressman says, “American businesses, farmers, manufacturers, and consumers are suffering under the weight of the current tariffs and are reeling from the continued uncertainty over whether they’ll be increased further.” ********************************************************************************************* USDA Gives Schools Flexibility in Meal Preparation Schools across the country now have additional options in serving students meals that are both healthy and appealing. USDA issued a final rule on school meals last week. A USDA release says the rule increases local flexibility in implementing school nutrition standards for milk, whole grains, and sodium. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the final rule will deliver forward-thinking strategies that ensure school nutrition standards are both healthy and practical. “USDA is committed to serving meals that are both delicious and satisfying,” Perdue says. “These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.” The USDA actions will benefit almost 99,000 schools that feed 30 million children annually through the USDA’s school meal program. The new rule lets schools provide low-fat flavored milk to children in school lunch programs. It requires half of the weekly grains in school food programs to be whole grain-rich. It also gives schools more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals. ********************************************************************************************** DOJ Recommends Supreme Court Not Touch CA Animal Welfare Laws The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief recommending that the Supreme Court not hear the lawsuit the state of Missouri filed against California. The subject of the lawsuit is California’s laws requiring larger enclosures for egg-laying hens and other animals. The industry website Meating Place Dot Com says the Department’s position could be a big benefit to animal rights groups and activists who are pushing for similar laws in other states. Missouri officials said in spite of the recommendations, they’ll be pushing ahead with their lawsuit against California. Missouri joined a dozen other states in filing the complaint last year. They argue that California’s laws, which were implemented in 2015, make interstate commerce much more difficult, which in turn drives up egg prices. In its brief, the Department of Justice says egg prices are determined “by a series of market factors.” Because of that, the Justice Department contends that the plaintiffs’ argument that California laws are raising egg prices in other states is not reasonable. ********************************************************************************************** Culver’s Support for Ag Education Tops $2 Million The average age of American farmers is rising, coming in most recently at 58. The Culver’s restaurant chain wants to make sure that young people have access to quality agricultural education in order to properly maintain the nation’s future food supply. Culver’s has donated $465,000 to agricultural education, including the FFA, during 2018. The donations are a part of the Culver’s “Thank You Farmers” project, an initiative that supports agricultural education programs that teach smart farming. Culver’s raised money and awareness for ag education through a number of different outlets. The Scoops of Thanks Day raised over $111,000. Customers give a donation of $1 or more to local agricultural education programs in return for a free scoop of custard. A Culver’s news release says, “Every day we’re inspired by the passion and intelligence of our country’s agricultural students. Through the Thank You Farmers Program, we’re able to support them and ensure the agricultural industry has bright future leaders.” Culver’s established the Thank You Farmers program in 2013 and, with the help of its customers, has donated over $2 million to agricultural education programs since then.

| Rural Advocate News | Sunday December 9, 2018 |


Livestock Producers Praise Modifications to Sage Grouse Land Use Plans WASHINGTON (December 6, 2018) – Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Federal Lands, released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration's modified state-by-state Resource Management Plan Amendments and Final Environmental Impact Statement contributing to the ongoing effort to overhaul the 2015 Obama-era sage grouse plans: “The 2015 Sage Grouse plan amendments failed to incorporate critical input from local stakeholders and risked causing serious damage to sage grouse conservation efforts. We are pleased to see the administration continue its efforts to bring the 2015 amendments in-line with state plans that better account for the diverse ecosystems across the West. Secretary Zinke and his team deserve our thanks for walking the walk and listening to those closest to the ground. We cannot afford to take important management tools like livestock grazing out of the toolbox.”

| Rural Advocate News | Sunday December 9, 2018 |


Mountain States Legal Foundation Announces Resignation of President William Perry Pendley LAKEWOOD, Colo. – December 07, 2018 – Mountain States Legal Foundation, a non-profit, public interest legal foundation focused on constitutional government, property rights, and free enterprise, announced today that William Perry Pendley has resigned as president. Roy Cohee, CEO and Chairman of the Board, will continue to direct the foundation. Cristen Wohlgemuth, Executive Vice President and COO, will continue to lead day-to-day operations. “The Board is very grateful for Perry’s decades of service,” said Mr. Cohee. “Perry’s passion and energy have led the foundation to prosper for nearly thirty years. His love of liberty will live on in the important work MSLF does. We wish him the very best in all that lies ahead.” “Perry has been a vital part of our success.” Mr. Cohee added. “18 months ago, however, the Board of Directors selected Executive Vice President Cristen Wohlgemuth to manage day-to-day operations at the foundation, in anticipation of Perry’s eventual departure. We are excited about MSLF’s future under our current leadership team.” Mr. Pendley became president of MSLF in 1989. He argued cases before the Supreme Court of the United States as well as various federal courts of appeals. In 1995 he won what Time called a "legal earthquake" when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of MSLF’s client in the historic equal protection case, Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Peña. In 2009 Mr. Pendley began to focus more on writing, speaking, and fundraising. He published several books, including Sagebrush Rebel (2013), a biography of Ronald Reagan, and Summary Judgment (2015), a collection of essays on law and American politics. MSLF’s General Counsel, Zhonette Brown, will continue to lead the foundation’s ongoing litigation efforts. Those efforts include a high-profile class-action discrimination suit involving a race-based hiring program for federal air traffic controllers, Brigida v. U.S. Dept. of Transportation; and Ministerio Roca Solida v. United States, a case that holds the government accountable for illegally destroying land belonging to a Nevada church. “MSLF is well-positioned going into 2019,” said Mr. Cohee. “It is MSLF’s mission to protect the constitutional liberties we all hold dear. We are ready to build on our remarkable legacy. We will continue winning big cases that shape our laws and the lives of all Americans.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 7, 2018 |


EPA Asks Court to Stay Challenge Of Livestock Air Emissions Lawsuit EPA has asked a federal court to stay litigation challenging agency guidance that exempts livestock operations from reporting releases of hazardous air emissions to local and state emergency officials. The agency contends the case should be put on hold while it works on a rule that will expand the exemption and make it permanent. The request is unlikely to satisfy environmentalists who have long been frustrated with EPA’s bid to shield livestock operations from the reporting requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). A federal appeals court in 2017 sided with environmentalists and blocked a 2008 rule that exempted most Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations from EPCRA. The move prompted the Trump administration to issue new guidance last year that went further than the 2008 rule, exempting all farms from the EPCRA requirements. In March 2018, Congress amended the Superfund law with language in an omnibus spending bill to expressly exempt air emissions from animal waste at farms from that statute's reporting requirements. EPA in April 2018 issued a second guidance document reiterating the exemption for livestock operations from EPCRA. On Oct. 1, the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch and others filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging both sets of guidance. The groups argue the agency's actions violated federal administrative law, alleging the two guidance documents essentially constitute a legislative rule that requires public notice and comment. The groups filed a motion for summary judgment on Oct. 29, arguing that EPA's rulemaking through "guidance" – without notice and comment – "flouts basic tenets" of administrative law. In its Nov. 30 filing with the court, EPA says the legal landscape has changed, noting that it has released a proposed rule to finalize the EPCRA exemption. The proposal was published Nov. 14 in the Federal Register, and EPA intends to take comments through Dec. 14.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 7, 2018 |


China Appears Ready to Purchase U.S. Ag Products China appears to be getting ready to follow through on commitments it made with the White House in a short-term trade bargain with the U.S. Politico calls it a potentially encouraging sign for U.S. ag producers. A Chinese government official said the two countries reached agreement in sectors like agriculture, autos, and energy. U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached a short-term trade truce during discussions in Buenos Aires. Politico quotes a Bloomberg report saying Beijing officials are preparing to resume importing products like soybeans and liquefied natural gas. That appears to confirm White House statements that said China will begin buying more American farm goods “immediately.” It’s not known for sure if China will drop its retaliatory tariffs on soybeans and other commodities, or possibly compensate customers. It’s also unclear yet when the promised purchasing will begin. In another positive sign for the long-term discussions, China also announced new punishments for IP theft. That’s one of the central disputes the U.S. hopes to resolve through further negotiations over the next three months. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Beef Gains Access to Morocco U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that Morocco will begin importing U.S. beef and beef products this year. 2018 is the first year that U.S. beef and poultry exporters have access to the Moroccan market under the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement. Morocco already opened up its market to U.S. poultry back in August. “New access to Morocco for beef and beef products is an important step in ensuring that our farmers and ranchers can continue to expand their exports of U.S. agricultural products,” says Lighthizer. “American beef is the best in the world,” Perdue says, “and as soon as the Moroccans get a taste of it, they’ll surely want more.” As of last month, U.S. ag exports to Morocco were worth more than $512 million dollars. Initial estimates say that Morocco could be an $80 million export market for U.S. beef and beef products. In 2017, the U.S. was the third-largest beef exporter in the world, with global sales of beef and beef products worth $7.3 billion. ********************************************************************************************** Market Facilitation Program Payments Stuck at OMB Farmers thought they’d have more details on the second round of USDA trade-aid payments by now. However, Farm Journal says the payments are still under negotiations. USDA is negotiating with the Office of Management and Budget for that second round of payments under the Market Facilitation Program. USDA had originally intended to release the information on Monday. The agency had wanted to assess the potential impact of the temporary U.S. and China trade truce. The OMB is tasked with making sure the cost of what the government projects it will spend is kept in check as much as possible. Following the China news, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue told farmers that payments would still be happening. “From my perspective, nothing has changed as far as the damages farmers have experienced,” Perdue says. How large those payments will be is unclear, but they will likely be a different amount than the first round of payments. The Farm Journal report says the prospect of a more normalized trade flow with China going into 2019 might mean this round of aid payments will be a little less than they were before. ********************************************************************************************* Some Crops Still in Fields with Crop Insurance Deadlines Approaching Extremely wet or snowy conditions have caused lengthy harvest delays for a number of farmers across rural America. It’s possible in some cases that the moisture content has gotten so high, the crop can’t be physically harvested with normal harvesting equipment. With the end of the insurance period on December 10 for most of the spring-planted crops, farmers need to know they have options they can take with regards to crop insurance coverage. Farmers need to call their agents to talk about the possibility of more harvest time so claims can be settled based on harvested production. Approved insurance providers can allow more harvest time if certain conditions are met. The requirements include timely notice of loss to each agent. A farmer’s insurance provider must determine and document that the delay in harvest was due to an insured cause of loss. Farmers must also demonstrate to their agent that harvest wasn’t possible due to insured causes. They also must show the delay in harvest wasn’t because the farmer didn’t have sufficient equipment or manpower to harvest the crop by the end of the insurance period. More information is available on the Risk Management Agency’s website. ********************************************************************************************** OK Considers Rules Addressing Poultry Farm Growth Oklahoma’s board of agriculture is considering adopting setbacks and other rules addressing the increasing number of poultry operations in the northeast part of the state. Local media reports say the operations are using up the local water supplies. The proposed rules are available on the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture’s Food and Forestry website. If adopted, the rules would require new or expanding operations to be located at least a quarter-mile from the nearest occupied residence, as well as at least a half-mile from a public school or incorporated city limit. Board members are expected to discuss the proposed rules during a meeting next week. The industry website Meating Place Dot Com says 207 new poultry operations were established in eastern Oklahoma over the past year. The farms support an expansion of a Simmons processing facility in nearby Arkansas. Back in November, Oklahoma placed a moratorium on applications to build new poultry feeding operations to allow more time to consider the issue.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 6, 2018 |


Peterson: Farm Bill Could be Passed Next Week The Ranking Democrat of the House Agriculture Committee predicts the farm bill will be considered next week. Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota told reporters this week the bill is nearly finalized and should be filed Monday, with House consideration Wednesday and Senate consideration Thursday. Peterson says the bill would rename the Margin Protection Program and change the way it operates in an effort to better help dairy farmers. He says dairy farmers “got the best deal” out of the agreement, and “they needed it.” The bill includes another provision that will refund half the premiums paid under the MPP program “because everybody thought they got ripped off.” Peterson also says of the agreement in principle that it would raise the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, acreage by three million acres, but reform how it works. He says there are also changes in how yield is calculated in the Ag Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs. Full details of the bill will be made available next week. ************************************************************************************* Steel and Aluminum Tariffs a USMCA Roadblock Steel and aluminum tariffs against Canada and Mexico remain a roadblock that would limit the impact of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Politico says the tariffs could prove to be a huge obstacle for congressional passage of the deal next year, as lawmakers have expressed displeasure with the duties remaining in place, despite a new trade agreement. The U.S. is facing industry and agricultural retaliatory tariffs on more than $15 billion worth of goods. Agriculture industry analysts say the tariffs would negate any benefit from the trade agreement. Negotiations to remove the tariffs are ongoing, with some expecting the tariffs to be replaced with quotas. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said any deal to eliminate the U.S. duties should be “fair” to Canada and Mexico, but maintain “the integrity of the president’s steel and aluminum programs.” ************************************************************************************* Activists Groups Target Kansas Law Protecting Livestock Owners Property Rights A coalition filed a lawsuit this week in Kansas challenging the state’s law that protects the property rights of livestock owners. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Food Safety, Hope Sanctuary and others argue that the law violates the First Amendment by deterring activists from undercover investigations at animal facilities. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the groups have popularized the phrase “ag gag” to describe such laws. The Kansas law was enacted in 1990 and is the oldest of its kind in the country. The Animal Legal Defense Fund claims the law “exists solely to protect the financial interests of industries that abuse animals.” The Animal Defense Fund also led a coalition that saw significant parts of similar laws in Utah and Idaho struck down. Lawsuits against such laws are pending in Iowa and North Carolina. ************************************************************************************* CoBank: Grain Elevator Margins Outlook Average grain elevator margins are expected to be relatively normal this year for most of the Midwest. However, according to a new report from CoBank', elevators should be cautious about the outlook, as several variables, such as trade issues, could affect elevator margins. Corn and wheat margins look solid on good carry and expected basis improvement, although corn ownership may be difficult for some elevators to obtain. Soybean margins for the year ahead face some uncertainties. Elevators are confident they will make a margin, but the question is when. Trade, logistics and export competitor production will be major factors impacting margins going forward. A CoBank economist says soybean basis appreciation will face resistance over the next year as “ample supplies and weak demand will continue to hobble the market.” Farmers will opt to store the crop as elevators seek to purchase it. Corn basis remains relatively strong considering the large crop, thanks to strong domestic demand. Ethanol use is expected to increase year-over-year, and feed demand will remain robust as cattle, hog and poultry numbers continue to increase. Amid this strong demand, elevators will likely see strong basis appreciation this year. ************************************************************************************* Soil Health Partnership Expanding Associate Program The Soil Health Partnership is launching phase two of its pilot Associate Program and will invite 75 farmers to enroll in 2019. The organization says the effort will enable more farmers to join the partnership in its mission of using science and data to support farmers in adopting agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm. Joining the Associate Program during the pilot phase will give farmers access to no-cost soil health sampling and results. The program will provide data insights and reports on how making a change, like growing cover crops, impacts their soil. After enrolling 25 farms in the pilot program in 2018, phase two will bring the number of associate sites to 100. The partnership plans a full-scale launch of the Associate Program for 2020, when even more farmers can join. Learn more online at soilhealthpartnership.org. ************************************************************************************ EPA, USDA Encourage Collaborative Approaches to Address Excess Nutrients The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture issued a letter this week to state and tribal co-regulators that encourages increased engagement to reduce excess nutrients in waterways. David Ross, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, says stakeholders have made significant progress reducing excess nutrients in some watersheds, adding “now is the time to build on that success.” EPA and USDA are committed to working with stakeholders to identify watersheds where market-based approaches can supplement traditional regulatory programs to reduce excess nutrients and improved water quality. The agencies say this work could include providing technical and financial support and participating in problem-solving at the local level to explore approaches including water quality credit trading, public-private partnerships, pay-for-success, supply chain programs, and more. USDA undersecretary Bill Northey says farmers are leading the way toward improved water quality by taking steps to decrease sedimentation and nutrient runoff, but adds ”we know more can be done.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 6, 2018 |


U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., is asking USDA for additional information on the agency’s oversight of operations at the JBS Tolleson beef packing plant in light of this week’s expansion of a ground beef recall. DeLauro, a ranking member of the House Committee on Appropriations, sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for “complete Salmonella testing results from the plant in question during the 52 weeks prior to the outbreak,” which was first reported in October. DeLauro noted in the letter that 246 people across 25 states were sickened during the outbreak of Salmonella Newport, resulting in the hospitalization of nearly 60 people. DeLauro said her request is consistent with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Directive 1400.1, which permits the release of agency records to external entities. The recall expansion now includes nearly 12.1 million pounds of raw, non-intact beef that was shipped from the JBS plant in Tolleson, Arizona, to retail locations and institutions across the country. The FSIS recall notice said the investigation is ongoing and may also eventually include additional product from other companies.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 6, 2018 |


MT Dept. of Agriculture Requesting Specialty Crop Block Grant Applications Over $1 million in funding available for Montana agriculture Helena, Mont. - The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is now accepting applications for an estimated $1.5 million in federal funding available through the Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) program. This competitive grant program is designed to expand markets for Montana specialty crops. Montana’s SCBG program is available for projects enhancing the competitiveness of Montana specialty crops. Specialty crops include fruits and vegetables, peas, and lentils, as well as horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. “These grants are a great way for our producers to explore different opportunities to enhance and diversify their operations,” said MDA Director Ben Thomas. “There have been some really innovative projects in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing this next round of applications.” Eligible projects include education, marketing, improving distribution systems, development of good agricultural practices, pest and disease control, variety development, and improving production practices. Technical assistance calls will be held on January 15 and February 4, 2019. For more information, visit http://agr.mt.gov/SpecialtyCropBlockGrants. State and/or local organizations, government entities, producer associations, academia, community based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and other specialty crop stakeholders are eligible to apply either as single entities or in combined efforts. Grant proposals are due to the Montana Department of Agriculture by midnight on February 6, 2019. For more information, eligibility guidelines, technical assistance and resources, visit scbg.mt.gov or contact Jim Auer, Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Manager, at (406) 444-5424. The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the Montana Department of Agriculture, visit www.agr.mt.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 6, 2018 |


BLM Proposes Increased Flexibility and Access in Sage-Grouse Plans Proposed amendments would align conservation efforts at state and federal levels BOISE, Idaho – In keeping with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s commitment to work closely with states to enhance conservation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced the availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and proposed plan amendments addressing Greater Sage-Grouse conservation on public land in Idaho. The proposed plan amendments aim to better align BLM resource management plans with state plans for conserving sage-grouse populations, strike a regulatory balance and build greater trust among neighboring interests in Western communities. The proposed amendments and final EISs also addresses the issues remanded to the agency by a March 31, 2017, order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, which determined that the BLM had violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it finalized the 2015 Nevada plan. “We have appreciated the opportunity to work with Governor Otter’s team on a carefully crafted amendment to the 2015 plans,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “We know the successful conservation of the Greater Sage-Grouse requires the shared stewardship vision of the states, private citizens, landowners and federal land management agencies including those within the Department of the Interior.” Bernhardt continued, “With today’s action we have leaned forward to address the various states’ issues, while appropriately ensuring that we will continue to be focused on meaningfully addressing the threats to the Greater Sage-Grouse and making efforts to improve its habitat.” The BLM developed the changes in collaboration with Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, state wildlife managers, and other concerned organizations and individuals, largely through the Western Governors Association’s Sage-Grouse Task Force. “It is refreshing to have a federal agency willing to listen to the people in Idaho on an issue so important to our state and the West,” Gov. Otter said. “I appreciate Secretary Zinke’s commitment to upholding our state-based conservation plan for sage-grouse. We worked hard to develop a plan that was based in science and appropriately tailored to address the primary threats in Idaho.” The proposed changes refine the previous management plans adopted in 2015. Under the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the BLM is required by law to work cooperatively with states on land-use plans and amendments. “This plan has garnered wide support from a variety of stakeholders, including private industry, state agencies, and non-profit organizations that recognize the importance of conserving Greater Sage-Grouse while sustaining the multiple uses on BLM lands that are critical to Idaho’s economy,” said Peter Ditton, Acting BLM Idaho State Director. In Idaho, the proposed amendments would establish buffer distances corresponding to the state’s three types of habitat management areas; remove the Sagebrush Focal Area designation from the 2015 plans; and adjust objectives for grazing allotments that contain or overlap with sagebrush-steppe habitat. The amendment process also offered an opportunity for the BLM to align its mitigation requirements under FLPMA with those established under Idaho law. The BLM has also published Final EISs for lands it manages in Colorado, Oregon, Nevada/ northeastern California, Utah and Wyoming. Publication of the Final EIS and proposed amendments in tomorrow’s Federal Register initiates a 30-day protest period, which will run through January 8, 2019. The Idaho Governor also has 60 days to review the proposed amendments for consistency with state and local laws and regulations. The process will conclude with a Record of Decision (ROD) following resolution of any protests received during the 30-day review period. Approval of BLM’s Idaho Final EIS Proposed Plan Amendment would require amendments to 21 current BLM resource management plans: Bennett Hills/Timmerman Hills, Big Desert, Big Lost, Bruneau, Cascade, Cassia, Challis, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Jarbidge (1988 and 2015 Revision), Kuna, Lemhi, Little Lost-Birch Creek, Magic, Medicine Lodge, Monument, Owyhee, Pocatello, Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Sun Valley and Twin Falls. Anyone who participated in the process for the Idaho EIS and who has an interest that is or may be adversely affected by the proposed land use plan amendments in the Final EIS will have the opportunity to protest the proposed plan amendments.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 5, 2018 |


Survey Shows Farmers Concerned with Lack of Farm Bill Farmers are expressing concern over the lack of a new farm bill in the latest Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The monthly survey in November asked producers how concerned they were regarding the farm bill. 75 percent of respondents said they were either somewhat or very concerned about the lack of a new farm bill with 33 percent of respondents indicating they were very concerned. Just 24 percent of survey respondents said they were not at all concerned about the lack of new farm bill legislation. The November survey reading announced Tuesday was 134, a decline of just over one percent from a month earlier when the barometer stood at 136. The November reading leaves the barometer six percent below its most recent peak, which was reached back in June before the impact of trade disruptions were felt throughout much of U.S. agriculture. The Barometer surveys 400 agricultural producers monthly. Overall, a rating below 100 is negative, while a rating above 100 indicates positive sentiment regarding the agriculture industry. ************************************************************************************* Traders Await Tariff Reduction Before Moving U.S. Soybeans to China While the U.S. and China have reached a deal for China to buy U.S. agricultural goods, the market is waiting for China to drop tariffs before transactions take place. Reuters reports no substantial purchases can happen with a 25 percent duty still in place on U.S. soybeans, corn, sorghum and wheat, according to buyers and analysts. China over the weekend agreed to a trade war ceasefire, and the White House said China had promised to buy an unspecified but “very substantial” amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products, with purchases of farm goods to start “immediately.” Though, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the purchases will likely start next month. China’s foreign ministry said on Monday that the two presidents had instructed their economic teams to work towards removing all tariffs. Until then, Brazil is nearing harvest season of its soybean crop and, being cheaper, could instead supply China’s soybean needs. ************************************************************************************* China-U.S. Deal Threatens Brazil Soybean Harvest China’s pledge to buy more U.S. ag products will likely come at the expense of Brazil. The South China Morning Post reports a deal between the U.S. and China could turn Brazil’s expected bumper crop of soybeans into a glut. Brazil is nearing harvest time of the crop as it was thought to be the primary supplier of soybeans to China due to the U.S.-China trade war. But, with China and the U.S. halting further tariffs and working through a 90-day period to strike a deal, along with China’s promise to buy more U.S. ag products, Brazil farmers seem likely to lose the China demand. China imported 6.92 million metric tons of soybeans in October, of which 6.53 million, or 94 percent, from Brazil – almost double the 3.38 million metric tons imported from Brazil a year earlier. China has depleted Brazil’s market regardless over the last few months, meaning China would have to eventually turn back to the U.S. for soybeans. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said earlier this week that the Chinese purchases of U.S. ag products are likely to start around the beginning of January and 2019. ************************************************************************************* USDA Announces 2019 Trade Missions The U.S. Department of Agriculture will sponsor seven trade missions in 2019 to expand export opportunities for U.S. agriculture across the globe. The missions were announced by Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney Tuesday. McKinney says the markets were carefully selected as ones that “offer the best prospects for sales of U.S. farm and food products.” The markets include Taiwan, Canada, Colombia, Vietnam, Kenya, Mexico and the United Kingdom. USDA calls the seven markets the trade missions will visit next year “both developing and established.” In 2018, McKinney says six USDA missions enabled more than 200 U.S. companies and organizations to engage in 3,000 one-on-one meetings with foreign buyers, generating more than $140 million in projected 12-month sales. ************************************************************************************* NBB Asks Commerce for Rigorous Review of Argentina’s Biodiesel Subsidies The National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition has submitted comments for the record on how the U.S. Department of Commerce should conduct recently initiated changed circumstances reviews of U.S. duties on Argentine biodiesel imports. The Coalition’s comments state, “Commerce must conduct a rigorous, comprehensive review of all relevant facts, and not limit its consideration to the limited facts and narrow time period showcased by the Government of Argentina in its requests for reviews.” The Commerce Department imposed countervailing duty and antidumping duty orders in January and April 2018, following investigations that found massively subsidized and dumped biodiesel imports from Argentina had significantly injured U.S. biodiesel producers. However, recently, the Commerce Department issued a changed circumstances review on the actions. The Commerce Department invited the comments following a November 19 meeting with National Biodiesel Board representatives. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in 46 States The Department of Agriculture announced $1.2 billion of investments Tuesday to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 936,000 rural Americans living in 46 states. Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced the funding, stating “Access to water is a key driver for economic opportunity and quality of life in rural communities.” USDA is providing financing for 234 water and environmental infrastructure projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. The funding can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. Eligible communities and water districts can apply online, or through one of USDA Rural Development's state or field offices. A list of projects is available online at http://www.rd.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 5, 2018 |


December 4, 2018 Ag organizations call on U.S. Department of Agriculture for livestock loss relief The Montana Farm Bureau Federation and U.S. Cattlemen’s Association are giving kudos to Mike Foster, Montana State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, for his hard work supporting Montana’s ranchers who have been unsuccessful in working with the FSA Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) regarding death loss of livestock from October 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018. Many ranchers across Montana faced not just one devastating “weather event” but an entire calving season (January through mid-April) of catastrophic weather which resulted in an unprecedented loss of calves and cows. Many ranchers were turned down by the FSA with the governmental organization noting they did not “meet the weather criteria.” Mike Foster sent a letter to William Beam, deputy administrator of farm programs, U.S Department of Agriculture, citing his disappointment that the agency turned down a request for a waiver. “We submitted our waiver request as a good faith effort to assist our producers and county offices in the processing of our LIP applications and accurately reflects the huge challenge that producers faced because severe winter weather conditions from Oct 30, 2017 through April 30, 2018 were unrelenting across the state. We provided nearly 20 attachments demonstrating the severity and unrelenting nature of that winter.” Montana Farm Bureau President Hans McPherson noted, “Farm Bureau truly wants to thank Mike Foster for stepping up to the plate for ranchers in Montana. He has talked to many ranchers and is as frustrated as they are regarding the fact that the USDA, despite their mantra that they are ‘here to help’ have been uncooperative in providing much-needed assistance to our family ranchers. The USDA needs to realize this past winter/calving season in many cases provided an impossibility to care for calves and cows for even the most dedicated cattle producer. The endless snow, bitter cold and deep mud didn’t happen in three days but continued over months, so sadly, did not match the LIP criteria. That criteria needs to be changed.” USCA Secretary Whitney Klasna added, “The farm bill livestock disaster programs are intended to assist livestock producers during severe weather elements. Montana had one of the worst winter events in recent history, and yet compared to losses incurred, very little support has actually been allocated via Farm Bill programs. We appreciate Mike Foster taking this issue head on. His efforts combined with the support from Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines and Representative Greg Gianforte is making an impact and we thank them for their work. Livestock producers from across the state need to pass along their input and keep the heat on to put this cold event behind us.” Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte sent a letter to the USDA, noting, “Livestock loss claims were estimated to be 11,000 calves, more than 1500 adult bulls and cows and more than 1000 other livestock animals,” said the Congressmen. “These are the only the claims filed; many others have found the LIP program very difficult to successfully participate in and did not file claims. The LIP is designed to help with such losses and we ask you reconsider your position regarding the request to consider this entire winter as a qualifying event.” Senator Tester penned a letter to Richard Fordyce, FSA Administrator, noting how disappointed he was that FSA was denying the request to treat October 1, 2017 – April 30, 2018, as one eligible adverse event under the Livestock Indemnity Program. “The unprecedented winter conditions directly caused thousands of livestock losses and forced producers to apply for relief through the LIP,” Tester explained in his letter. “LIP is a vital program when Mother Nature strikes and livestock producers experience excessive loss. While it is critically important to administer LIP fairly and accurately, some of the qualifying requirements can be impossible for adverse-weather affected producers to meet. Please reconsider the decision to disapprove the Montana FSA request to treat last winter as one adverse weather event.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 4, 2018 |


GMO Disclosure Rule Cleared By OMB The much-anticipated federal GMO disclosure standard has been cleared by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a final step before USDA publishes the rule. OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) completed its review late last week (Nov. 29). The food and agriculture industries are bracing for the GMO disclosure rule and nervously waiting to find out the details of the regulatory regime, officially known as the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. Confusion remains about the scope and impact of the rule as the 106-page draft plan released by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in May left many questions about the regulations unanswered. The AMS draft rule did not fully explain which foods are covered, lacking definitions needed to clarify what is considered a "bioengineered food." The draft also left key exemptions unexplained and failed to completely outline the disclosure requirements or how companies must comply. The law says food manufacturers and retailers can satisfy the standard by use of on-package text, a USDA-created symbol or electronic means such as a quick response code, but the draft rule suggested AMS would also allow compliance via text message. Washington Insider: Year-End Policy Confrontations Bloomberg reported on Monday that the president’s recent Argentine trip was somewhat unusual, compared to earlier trips “remembered most for what went wrong.” Bloomberg notes he “stuck to the script with fellow leaders, avoided major gaffes and got some qualified successes, including an admission that the World Trade Organization needs reform and a commitment from China to buy more U.S. goods.” Even this summit started with that familiar feeling of trepidation about the potential chaos to come after news broke that presidential lawyer Michael Cohen had pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about plans for a Moscow real estate project. That provoked a pair of Twitter posts in which the president denied any wrongdoing – he said his business was “very legal & very cool.” This time, though, the President did what he rarely does--he eased off the tweets and he scrapped a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, ostensibly to show disapproval after Russia opened fire on Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov near Crimea and captured several sailors. For the rest of the summit the President performed much world leaders typically do. He met with close allies--such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe--and shunned counterparts such as Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, both of whom actively lobbied the U.S. side for formal meetings with him. And, moments of tension or awkwardness were the exception, not the rule. For example, rather than ripping up the final communique over U.S. disagreements with the language and Trump’s own “America First” approach, U.S. negotiators scored what they viewed as a crucial victory on one of the administration’s biggest issues – an acknowledgment that the WTO needs to be changed. In the dispute over climate change, rather than allowing it to scuttle the communique, the signatories to the Paris climate accord reaffirmed their support for the deal while letting the U.S. reiterate its decision to quit the agreement, essentially agreeing to disagree. Part of the reason for the president’s restraint was respect for President H. W. Bush who will be honored with a national day of mourning on Dec. 5. President Trump canceled two planned media briefings hours beforehand, saying it would be inappropriate to take the podium so soon after Bush’s death. The key question is, what will happen now after the “brief respite” for the Bush funeral, both with regard to trade and to the budget fight. President Donald Trump and members of Congress are now poised to shelve that battle with its risks a partial shutdown of the government at the end of the week in order to pay their respects to late President Bush. However, that comity isn’t expected to last long, Bloomberg says. The president has repeatedly threatened to veto a bill extending expiring funding for some government agencies if he doesn’t get the $5 billion he wants for a wall on the southern border. Democrats, whose votes are needed to enact spending bills, have refused to supply that level of funding unless Trump agrees to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Dec. 7 deadline to renew funding for agencies including the Internal Revenue Service and Homeland Security Department is widely expected on Capitol Hill to pushed back by one week, although Trump has floated the idea of extending it until Dec. 21. Lawmakers, especially lame-duck members, are eager to leave town, and a deadline right before Christmas risks forcing Congress to work through the holidays. All eyes will be on Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who had been scheduled to meet to discuss the spending standoff. Their planned meeting on Tuesday was postponed until after Wednesday’s funeral services for President Bush. About a quarter of the government’s $1.2 trillion discretionary budget remains unsettled for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. Congressional negotiators say they’re making steady progress resolving differences over line-items in the budgets of the departments of Treasury, State, Commerce, Justice, Interior and Agriculture as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. The main problem area is the Department of Homeland Security and Trump’s demand for $5 billion to build a wall on the southern border. Congressional Republicans have attempted to persuade Democrats to compromise by providing $2.5 billion in wall funding in the coming year, and another $2.5 billion the year after. But so far, Democrats have refused. Schumer of New York said on the Senate floor Thursday that the $1.6 billion for border security agreed to by Republican and Democratic senators in a draft bill is “our position” and any shutdown will be Trump’s fault. Democrats say they have the upper hand because Trump has threatened a shutdown repeatedly in the past over the border wall and backed down. In the House, more liberal Democrats are urging Pelosi not to compromise on the wall after the party won control of the chamber in Nov. 6 midterm elections. She’ll need those lawmakers’ votes in her bid to return as speaker when Democrats take over in January. So, we will see. A proposed deal on immigration failed in February after Trump was pressured by conservatives into seeking additional cuts in legal immigration. Tensions are higher now, and the deadline is closer. These clearly are fights producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 4, 2018 |


Advisory: CME Group has coordinated market openings and closings concerning the declared National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush. However, this does not appear to include Agriculture or livestock markets: AGRICULTURAL: Both the open outcry and CME Globex trading session for Agricultural products will have normal trading hours on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Agricultural transactions submitted on CME ClearPort will have normal hours. MGEX: Both the open outcry and CME Globex trading session for Grains and Oilseeds and MGEX products will have normal trading hours on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Grains and Oilseeds transactions submitted on CME ClearPort will have normal hours. LIVESTOCK, LUMBER, HOUSING AND BLOOMBERG COMMODITY INDEXES: Both the open outcry and CME Globex trading session for Livestock, Lumber, Housing and Bloomberg Commodity Index products will have normal trading hours on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Bloomberg Commodity Index transactions submitted on CME ClearPort will have normal trading hours.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 4, 2018 |


Secretary Perdue Names NRCS Chief Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Monday appointed Matt Lohr to serve as Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Perdue says the “knowledge and experience he brings to the table will help ensure our locally-led, science-based approach continues to offer farmers the conservation solutions needed to enhance their environment and commercial viability.” Lohr, raised on a century farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, now owns and operates Valley Pike Farm. Before his appointment by the Trump Administration, Lohr held public office, serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2006-2010. He then served as Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010 to 2013. More recently, Lohr worked as Knowledge Center Director for Farm Credit of the Virginias.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 4, 2018 |


No House Votes, Farm Bill Delayed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California Monday said the House of Representatives will not hold any votes this week due to the mourning and funeral for the late President George H.W. Bush. The announcement means the farm bill will not move forward this week, and the conference report that was expected early this week is now anticipated early next week, according to the Hagstrom Report. President Donald Trump has closed federal offices Wednesday, the day of Bush’s funeral. Trump is also threatening a government shutdown, but indicated over the weekend, he may approve funding extensions because of the limited schedule this week, pushing contentious issues later into the month, while still providing an opportunity to sneak the farm bill through the system before highly political issues, including the border wall, are tackled. The schedule leaves a week of planned time for lawmakers to wrap up the year. ************************************************************************************* Announced China Ag Purchases Lack Details Agriculture eagerly awaits any details regarding increased purchases of U.S. ag products by China. President Trump over the weekend said following a discussion with China that the nation “will be buying massive amounts of product from us,” promising an “incredibly positive impact on farming.” Politico reports, however, there is no guarantee China will hold its end of the bargain, as China’s statement on the talks made no mention of ag products. There are also little details in the announcement from Trump as the quantities and specific products are undetermined, though the White House says the purchases will begin “immediately.” The U.S. Meat Export Council called China’s willingness to return to the negotiating table encouraging, but added that “exports cannot reach their full potential until the retaliatory duties imposed by Mexico, China and Canada are removed.” Trump also signed his North American Free Trade Agreement replacement on Friday that does not address steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, which both have retaliatory tariffs in place over. ************************************************************************************* USDA Predicts 12 Percent Drop in Farm Income Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to decrease $9.1 billion, or 12.1 percent from 2017 to $66.3 billion in 2018, after increasing $13.8 billion in 2017. The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service recently announced the forecast. USDA says, meanwhile, net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $8.5 billion, 8.4 percent, to $93.4 billion. Net farm income is a comprehensive indicator of U.S. farm profitability, while, net farm cash income less comprehensive and does not include noncash items, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to increase $2.5 billion, However, when adjusted for inflation, cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to decline $6.1 billion, with crop cash receipts forecast to decline $1.6 billion and livestock cash receipts to decline $4.5 billion. AFBF Chief Economist John Newton writes that the challenging financial situation highlights the need for improved access in key foreign markets, along with continued commitments to renewable energy, reduced regulatory burdens and a completed farm bill. Combined, Newton says "these efforts will go a long way toward improving the farm economic outlook." ************************************************************************************* Signing of USMCA Fails Canada Dairy Industry Canada’s signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement marks another instance of Prime Minister Trudeau (True-doh) failing the Canadian dairy sector, according to Dairy Farmers of Canada. The group says Canada has gone “beyond the original concessions made when the USMCA was announced, and signed a deal granting the U.S. oversight in the administration of Canada’s dairy system.” This, according to the group, “equates to no less than a loss of sovereignty for Canada.” USMCA grants an additional 3.9 percent Canadian market access to the U.S. and eliminates "competitive dairy classes," according to the industry group. Once other recent trade deals come into effect, total dairy imports will make up close to 20 percent of the Canadian dairy market. However, the deal was praised by U.S. dairy groups. U.S. Dairy Export Council CEO and former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says USMCA “gives America’s dairy industry greater confidence as we head into 2019.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 3, 2018 |


Flurry of Action Holds Major Ag Implications A flurry of activity over the last week could bode well for agriculture. Over the weekend, President Trump met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit with China, which has since agreed to purchase more U.S. ag products. Trump also agreed to not increase tariffs on China in January. Meanwhile, following the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, Trump said he wants to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement in six months, which will be replaced by the USMCA. The move to terminate NAFTA is an effort to pressure the next Congress to approve the USMCA. Lawmakers could also soon take up the farm bill, which some thought could come this week, though the schedule of Congress is muddied by the passing of President George H.W. Bush, who will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for a portion of this week. Trump also said he may also be willing to allow an extension to appropriation bills that are needed by Friday, which include funding to the Agriculture Department, because of the expected limited schedule this week for Congress. All this comes as a fresh farm economic forecast predicts that farm income could drop another 12 percent in the next year. ********************************************************************************************** USMCA Agreement Officially Signed at G20 U.S. President Donald Trump joined leaders from Mexico and Canda in signing the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement. Trump gathered together with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique (ehn-REE-kay) Pena (PAIN-yah) Nieto (nee-EH-toh) on the sidelines of the G20 meeting going on in Buenos Aires. The revised agreement will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. At the signing, Trump says the new agreement will “change the trade landscape forever.” Now comes the challenging part: lawmakers in each country still need to ratify the agreement. That may prove to be extra difficult in the U.S. because Democrats are taking control of the House of Representatives in January. Several Democrats have already been very vocal in wanting changes to the agreement. The CBC news website says the final vote could even be close in the U.S. Senate. Some Republican Senators have been critical of Trump’s trade policies. However, under the rules of fast-track authority, changes are not supposed to be made after a legal document has been officially signed. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Reacts to USMCA Signing Ag groups responded to the U.S., Mexico, and Canada signing the updated North American Free Trade Agreement, called the USMCA. Kevin Kester, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says “U.S. beef producers are one step closer to “unrestricted, science-based trade continuing in North America.” Kester says the agreement brings the trading relationship with U.S. neighbors into the 21st-century. The National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates say this is good news for wheat producers. Most notably, the USMCA gives tariff-free access to imported U.S. wheat for long-time flour-milling customers in Mexico. Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts says the signing marks an important step toward Congress considering the new agreement, which he’s looking forward to in the new year. U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the agreement secures greater access to the Mexican and Canadian markets and lowered barriers for many American products. At the other end of the spectrum, the National Farmers Union says the USMCA does make important improvements over NAFTA. However, it doesn’t go far enough to institute a fair-trade framework that benefits family farmers and ranchers and restores U.S. sovereignty. NFU president Roger Johnson wants changes before Congress ratifies the agreement. ********************************************************************************************** EPA Releases Biofuel Targets for 2019 The Environmental Protection Agency released its 2019 renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard. EPA boosted final RFS volumes slightly from its earlier proposal to nearly 20-billion gallons next year. That includes up to 15 billion gallons of mostly corn ethanol, nearly 5 billion gallons of advanced biofuel, over 2 billion gallons of biodiesel, and 418 million cellulosic gallons. Overall levels next year will be three percent higher than in 2018. Reaction to the news was mixed from various Ag groups. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “The latest EPA rule is also a missed opportunity to correctly account for billions of gallons of ethanol lost to refinery exemptions.” Until those lost gallons are taken into account, she said it’s “two steps back for every step forward.” The National Biodiesel Board says EPA sets the advanced biofuel and biomass-based diesel volumes lower than what the agency acknowledges will be produced. The NBB also says the rule leaves open a backdoor to retroactively reduce required volumes through hardship waivers. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the total approaches 20 billion gallons. “The biofuel blending levels for 2019 are good news for farmers, biofuels producers, and all Americans,” he said. “The increased levels are an encouraging development after a year of often disappointing news from the EPA,” Grassley says. ********************************************************************************************** China Buys U.S. Pork Despite Tariffs The African Swine Fever outbreak is forcing China to buy more U.S. pork in spite of high tariffs imposed during the trade war between the two countries. China, the world’s biggest pork producer and consumer, placed its largest order for U.S. pork since the trade war began. A Reuters article says the purchase seems to signal that China has serious concerns about supply shortages due to the disease outbreak. Brokers and traders both say that could be potentially superseding trade tensions. During the tit-for-tat trade war, China has imposed a tariff of 62 percent on imports of American pork. U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were scheduled to meet and discuss trade tensions during the G20 meeting over the weekend in Buenos Aires. For the week ending November 22nd, China bought more than 3,200 tons of pork to be shipped this year. USDA data shows that’s the biggest purchase of the season since February. China also bought close to 4,000 tons of pork to be delivered in 2019. Brett Stuart, President of Global AgriTrends, says pork is abundant in China right now and prices are low. However, he adds “that doesn’t mean there will be plenty of pork in China next year.” ********************************************************************************************* White House Won’t Stop Farm Bill over Forestry President Donald Trump won’t stop the farm bill over forestry concerns. An inside source told the Hagstrom Report that he’ll direct Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to use all the tools at his discretion to suppress forest fires. Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the final farm bill should include provisions in the House-passed version that would increase government agencies’ authority to clear forest floors and thin trees. The White House says it won’t insist on those additions because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t want to make forestry the defining issue of the new farm bill. The Hagstrom Report was made aware of the White House position hours after the chairs and ranking members from the Senate and House Ag Committees announced an agreement in principle on the new bill. Several steps still remain before the bill gets to President Trump for his signature. The joint statement from the Ag Committee leaders says they’re committed to getting a new farm bill delivered to America as quickly as possible. ********************************************************************************************** NFU Unhappy with GIPSA Agency Elimination The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will eliminate the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration as a standalone agency. USDA will consolidate the GIPSA functions into the Agricultural Marketing Service. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said the timing of this announcement doesn’t benefit family farmers. “At a time when just a handful of companies control all of the markets that supply and buy from family farmers and ranchers, the elimination of GIPSA is a big step in the wrong direction,” says Johnson. “The agency’s statutory duty is to ensure fair and competitive markets for family farmers.” Johnson adds that this decision comes on top of USDA’s decision to withdraw the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, which would have given American family farmers the most basic protections against abusive and undue practices levied against them by companies that hold substantial market power. “Farmers Union strongly encourages USDA to reconsider both of these decisions that undermine competition and place family farmers and ranchers at a significant disadvantage in the marketplace,” says Johnson.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 3, 2018 |


New trade agreement a win for Montana agriculture The Montana Farm Bureau applauds today’s signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement. “I think this new U.S. Mexico Canada trade agreement is great. It’s a win for all of agriculture whether you’re looking at beef, wheat, milk or other agricultural products,” said Montana Farm Bureau Federation President Hans McPherson. “President Donald Trump and Secretary Sonny Perdue have done a great service for all Americans in getting this done,” he noted “It’s exactly what President Trump set out to do with revising these trade deals and making them even better. It’s a win for Montana beef and wheat producers, as well as other commodities that have trade with our Neighbor to the North. In addition, we look forward to seeing trade agreements with other countries being approved soon.” According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico increased from $8.9 billion to $39 billion under NAFTA. That boost provided important markets for farmers and ranchers whose productivity has only grown since the agreement was signed. USMCA keeps all those gains and adds improvements in many ag commodities. AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “In every way, this new agreement is just as good, if not better than, the one that came before. We thank the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for all the hard work that went into this accord. Farm Bureau is still pushing hard for the end of trade wars and re-opening of markets. “As good as all this news is, farmers and ranchers still face retaliatory tariffs over steel and aluminum disputes with our North American neighbors and other trading partners,” Duvall said “We urge the administration to redouble its efforts to come to an agreement on those outstanding issues so we can regain the markets we had not long ago.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 3, 2018 |


Gianforte Announces Spirit of Montana Recipient: Webb Brown of Helena WASHINGTON – Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte recognized Webb Brown of Helena with his Spirit of Montana commendation for his dedication to making Montana more business friendly, for his commitment to creating jobs and opportunity for more Montanans, and for always putting Montana first. A fifth-generation Montanan from Trout Creek, Mr. Brown has been a strong voice and tireless advocate for Montana businesses since the early 1990s, including for the last 20 years as president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Montana Chamber Foundation. Gianforte’s Spirit of Montana is a weekly recognition of Montanans for their accomplishments, dedication, or service. Gianforte highlights the recipient in the U.S. House of Representatives and personally contacts the honorees.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 3, 2018 |


MGGA Elects Officers and Sets Policy for 2019 Great Falls – The Montana Grain Growers Association concluded a successful convention and trade show in Great Falls with approval of a policy platform and the election of new officers for the coming year. This year’s event was attended by almost 900 farmers, guests and agribusiness members. Lyle Benjamin, Sunburst, was installed as MGGA President for 2019. Elected Vice President was Vince Mattson, Chester; Treasurer Mitch Konen, Fairfield, and Secretary Tryg Koch, Kalispell. Michelle Erickson-Jones, Broadview, will serve asPast President. Re-elected to serve a second term on the board of directors was Josh Stentoft, District 2; David Ratzburg, District 6; and Evan Volf, District 10. New directors include Adam Billmayer, Hogeland, District 3; Eric Hanson, Gildford, District 4; Trevor Schock, Vida, District 13; and Scott Glasscock, Angela, District 12. During the committee and resolution meetings, MGGA policy is reviewed, debated and approved by the membership. These resolutions guide the organization, its leadership and staff on issues that affect our industry. The approved 2018 resolutions can be found on the MGGA website at www.mgga.org/policy/.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 3, 2018 |


President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jingping have agreed to slow the escalation of tariffs as the two countries accelerate trade talks, the White House announced over the weekend. The two leaders met during the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On trade, President Trump agreed that on Jan. 1, 2019, he would leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products at the 10 percent rate, and not raise them to 25 percent at this time. “China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately,” according to a White House statement. The two leaders agreed to immediately begin negotiating structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture. Both parties agree that they will endeavor to have this transaction completed within the next 90 days. If at the end of this period of time the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent. Particularly hard hit by the tariffs has been the U.S. soybean industry. “This is the first positive news we’ve seen after months of downturned prices and halted shipments,” said American Soybean Association President John Heisdorffer, in a statement. “If this suspension of tariff increases leads to a longer-term agreement, it will be extremely positive for the soy industry. We want to begin repairing damage done to our trade relations with China, which has been essential to successful soybean exports for years.” It is not yet apparent how U.S. pork exports to China will be impacted. Reuters reported last week that despite placing retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork, China has recently increased its imports of U.S. pork, leading to speculation that the outbreak of African Swine Fever in China has raised concern about a future supply shortfall.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 3, 2018 |


EXTENDING THE ELD DELAY FOR LIVESTOCK HAULERS Livestock haulers across the country are currently exempt from implementing electronic logging devices (ELDs). The question is: For how much longer? A few months ago, NCBA worked closely with allies in Congress to secure a temporary exemption through December 7, 2018. With less than ten days to go before that exemption expires, NCBA has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to remind lawmakers that a further extension is necessary. “The livestock industry needs additional time to work with Congress and the Administration on a long-term solution to overly-restrictive Hours of Service rules,” said Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera. “Extending the ELD implementation delay for livestock haulers will give us more breathing room while that process moves forward.” A draft fiscal year 2019 government spending bill includes a provision that would delay ELD implementation for livestock haulers until September 30, 2019. Keeping that provision included in any spending bill is an immediate priority. NCBA is also looking forward to further conversations with the Department of Transportation (DOT) on the recent petition that requests flexibility for livestock haulers on Hours of Service (HOS) requirements. Authored by industry groups including NCBA and the Livestock Marketing Association, the petition asks for increased drive time for livestock haulers and includes a plan for working with the DOT on additional fatigue-management practices. The petition has already garnered bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress (read the letters of support here and here). As a next step, DOT is expected to open a public comment period on the petition. MSGA has been closely working with NCBA along with the Montana Congressional Delegation to find a permanent fix for Livestock Haulers.