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| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 17, 2019 |


China Demand For Brazilian Soybeans To Remain Stable: Reuters China's demand for imports of Brazilian soybeans should remain stable, Yang Wanming, China's ambassador to Brazil, told Reuters in an interview. "I personally think there is no need to worry," he said, indicating that is his view regardless of whether a deal is cut between the U.S. and China. There has been concern in Brazil that current U.S.-China trade discussions could negatively impact Brazilian soybean shipments to China which rose dramatically after China hit U.S. soybeans with tariffs. Yang also said that Brazil could see more meat exports to China via high-level talks set for May. "We believe through the cooperation of both countries' agriculture ministries and quality inspection departments, more Brazilian farm and animal products can be imported into the Chinese market," Yang told Reuters. The news service said that up to 78 Brazilian meat plants could be added to the list of those approved to ship to China. US Wheat Industry Reps in Brazil To Discuss Imports Representatives of the U.S. wheat industry are in Brazil this week to talk about demand once the tariff-free quota of 750,000 metric tons is opened by Brazil. The U.S. group met with the president of Brazil's wheat milling association Abitrigo, Rubens Barbosa. "They know Brazil will continue to import significant amounts of wheat in coming years, and they want to increase their share of that market," he commented, adding the group supports the import quota since it will provide the industry access to greater supply at lower prices. There has been no date set for implementation of the quota that will cover wheat from all sources, but Barbosa noted the government is working on the regulation. The U.S. is expected to hold some competitive advantage under the quota, but Russia has been making overtures to Brazil as a wheat supplier which could be a factor. Washington Insider: Shifting Politics of Trade Rural voters are widely seen as solid supporters of the President, The Hill says this week, but Senate Republicans are negotiating among themselves over how to respond to the volatile trade agenda as they brace for possible tariffs on the European Union (EU) and a trade deal with China that some fear could leave American farmers worse off. The result is divisions over whether to send a stern message to the White House with a tough bill that’s likely to get vetoed — or a more modest proposal that could actually get the presidential signature and become law. This was formerly “a dilemma that GOP leaders eschewed altogether” because of fears that an intraparty fight could hurt voter turnout, The Hill said. This year, however, there is strong support from influential members of the Senate GOP for reining in presidential tariff powers but disagreement over exactly how to do that, putting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a bind. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says he will introduce legislation in the coming weeks that would strengthen what his office calls “checks and balances between Congress and the executive branch by imposing new consultation and reporting requirements.” But Republicans on the Finance panel are divided over how hard to push back against the President with two leading members — Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., — advocating different, competing approaches that Grassley is trying to meld together behind the scenes. Time is short, The Hill emphasizes, as President Trump has already threatened to impose $11 billion in tariffs in retaliation for EU subsidies to Airbus, putting new pressure on GOP lawmakers to act. The White House threatened earlier this year to impose a 25% tariff on imported cars, which could boomerang on several Republican states if trade partners impose retaliatory penalties, a problem for politicians in Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi, which all rank in the nation’s top 10 for auto manufacturing. McConnell, who is up for reelection in 2020, also doesn’t seem eager to confront the president head on and won’t say whether he’ll bring legislation curbing his tariff authority to the floor. In addition to senators concerned about auto manufacturing, farm-state Republican lawmakers say they worry that the president’s anticipated trade deal with China will hurt U.S. agricultural interests and some fear that the president will negotiate an agreement under which China would buy a certain amount of soybeans or pork but leave other U.S.-produced commodities in limbo. Though the biggest obstacle to quick action in the Senate is disagreement among Republicans over how hard to push back on Trump’s trade policies, there also are concerns about how much Democratic support to expect. While Democrats can be counted on to oppose most anything that Trump wants to do, his trade policies have put them in a quandary as Democratic constituent groups such as labor unions are critics of globalization and free trade. Portman has opted to work closely with the administration on legislation that could have a chance to become law and would require the Department of Defense, instead of the Department of Commerce, to justify the reliance of national security concerns to impose new tariffs under the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, and Congress could block such restrictions using a “resolution of disapproval” expanding the check provided in the original trade law — which only applied to action on oil imports. However, this approach would only apply prospectively and would not undo some of administration’s other trade actions, which might make it more palatable to the White House. However, critics say Portman’s plan doesn’t have sharp-enough teeth and argue there’s no mechanism to guarantee the disapproval resolution floor time. Toomey’s bill is tougher. It would give Congress 60 days to approve any proposed tariffs under the 1962 Act — which would also require “an approval resolution within that period.” Toomey’s legislation also would shift more authority to the Department of Defense to determine whether a foreign trade practice actually poses a national security threat. Unlike Portman’s bill, the Toomey proposal would apply retroactively and any 1962 Act tariffs and quotas imposed over the past four years would be repealed unless Congress passes approval resolutions within 75 days of enactment. The Hill notes that several provisions in the Portman and Toomey proposals are irreconcilable, such as the conflicting oversight pathways — either a disapproval or an approval resolution — and the issue of retroactivity. Critics of Toomey’s legislation argue that it is “destined for a presidential veto,” as the president won’t be willing to give up his tariff powers.” They say Portman’s plan has a better chance of becoming law because of his close consultation with White House advisers. The sponsors of the competing bills say they expect Sen. Grassley to have a hearing on the legislation after the two-week April recess and to trigger a very important debate that producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 17, 2019 |


The Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB) has named Gregory Hanes of Colorado as its new chief executive officer, effective June 17, the organization said in a news release. Hanes takes over for Scott Stuart, who was named CBB CEO in December 2017. The association did not announce Stuart's departure or provide any additional background. Hanes joins the CBB from the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in Denver,where he most recently was vice president of international marketing programs. Hanes also served as the USMEF liaison to the beef industry and worked closed with a variety of national and state beef organizations. From 2006 to 2009, he was the director of the USMEF’s Tokyo-based office, where he was responsible for all activities occurring in Japan. During his time as the USMEF Japan director, Hanes lived in Japan for nearly 11 years. Hanes currently serves as the chair of the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council (USAEDC), a group composed of 80 U.S. commodity trade associations, farmer cooperatives and state regional trade groups from around the country, representing the interests of growers and processors of U.S. agricultural products. In addition to a master’s degree in international management with an emphasis in marketing from the Thunderbird School of Management at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Hanes also holds a B.A. in economics from Colorado College. He was born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyo. The Beef Board oversees the Beef Checkoff and works with USDA, state beef councils, contractors, beef industry leaders and cattle producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 16, 2019 |


OMAHA (DTN) -- U.S. corn planting slipped behind the five-year average pace and spring wheat planting fell further behind average last week, according to USDA NASS' weekly Crop Progress report on Monday. For the week ended Sunday, April 14, 3% of the nation's corn crop was planted, equal to last year at the same time but 2 percentage points behind the five-year average of 5%. In last Monday's report, corn planting was reported as equal to the five-year average. Most corn-planting activity was still only taking place in the Southern states, such as Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee, noted DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman. Spring wheat planting also further behind the average last week. NASS reported that only 2% of spring wheat had been planted as of Sunday, up only 1 percentage point from the previous week, behind 3% at the same time last year and significantly behind the five-year average of 13%. There was no spring wheat planting progress reported yet in the Dakotas or Minnesota, and only 1% of the crop was planted in Montana. Progress of the winter wheat crop also slowed last week. Nationwide, 6% of winter wheat was headed as of Sunday, behind 8% at the same time last year and also behind the five-year average of 9%. The condition of the winter wheat crop, on the other hand, remained steady at 60% good to excellent, the highest good-to-excellent rating at this time of year in seven years. Fifty-nine percent of winter wheat in top-producing Kansas was rated good to excellent. Sorghum was 16% planted, compared to 20% last year and a 19% five-year average. Cotton planting was 7% complete, compared to 8% last year and a 7% average. Rice was 26% planted, compared to 30% last year and a 35% average. Thirteen percent of rice was emerged, compared to 14% last year and an average of 15%. Oats were 30% planted as of April 14, compared to 29% last year and a 40% average. Emergence was at 26%, compared to 26% last year and a 28% average.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 16, 2019 |


U.S. Talking Trade with Japan This Week Trade talks are underway between Japan and the United States this week as Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer meets with Japan’s Economic Advisor. Agriculture complaints are “front and center” according to Politico, ever since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the then-called Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Trump administration is expected to push for similar concessions for U.S. agriculture as seen in the TPP. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, called the CTPP, replaced the original agreement the U.S. backed away from, giving U.S. agriculture’s competitors a market advantage. Japan will be seeking market access in return, which could include growing markets for its specialty agricultural products. The preliminary talks are expected to wrap up early this week. For now, there’s little word on what objectives the Trump administration has for any deal with Japan, with the expectation that talks this week will surface more details. ************************************************************************************* 2018 Farm Bill Increases Limits and Makes Other Changes to Farm Loans Higher limits are now available for borrowers interested in farm loans from the Department of Agriculture. USDA announced last week the increase would help farmers purchase farms or cover operating expenses. The 2018 Farm Bill increased the amount that producers can borrow through direct and guaranteed loans available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency, and made changes to other loans, such as microloans and emergency loans. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce called farm loans “increasingly important” to farmers and ranchers “as natural disasters, trade disruptions and persistent pressure on commodity prices continue to impact agricultural operations.” Key changes include increasing the Direct Operating Loan limit from $300,000 to $400,000. The Direct Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $600,000, and the Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $1.429 million to $1.75 million. Producers can now receive both a $50,000 Farm Ownership Microloan and a $50,000 Operating Microloan. For more information on FSA farm loans, visit fsa.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************* Farm Bill Status Update: Dairy Programs to Open Soon In an update on the 2019 Farm Bill, the Department of Agriculture has provided target dates for dairy programs. In the announcement, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated, "we still have a lot of work ahead of us," but added USDA is diligently working on completing the process. Specifically relating to dairy in Title One of the farm bill, USDA says the Farm Service Agency will begin offering reimbursements to eligible producers for Dairy Margin Protection Program premiums paid between 2014 and 2017 by May first. The Office of the Chief Economist has entered into an agreement with the University of Wisconsin to develop a Dairy Margin Coverage decision tool that will be available to producers by May first, as well. FSA will open sign-up for the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program beginning June 17, providing coverage retroactive to January 1, 2019, with applicable payments following soon after enrollment. Additionally, USDA says Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage program elections by producers for the 2019 and 2020 crop years should be available beginning in September of this year. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Changes to Future WASDE Reports The Department of Agriculture Monday announced changes to future World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Reports. Starting with the May 10 issue, USDA announced price range forecasts will be eliminated in favor of single price points for all crops and livestock. USDA says the international Supply and Use tables for Crops will include an aggregate value for “World less China,” representing the balance sheet values outside of China. Also, the ordering of countries and lists of Major Importers/Exporters will be updated to eliminate outdated aggregations, such as “Former Soviet Union,” and better reflect current trade patterns. The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, or WASDE, is prepared monthly by the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board based on information from USDA and other domestic and foreign official sources. It includes forecasts for U.S. and world wheat, rice, and coarse grains, oilseeds, and cotton. U.S. coverage is extended to sugar, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. *********************************************************************************** Midwest Lawmakers File Tax Relief Bill for Disaster Victims Midwest lawmakers last week introduced a bill that would provide tax relief for disaster victims stemming from events this spring. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced the Tax Relief Act of 2019. The bill would provide tax deductions for individuals and businesses affected by federally declared disasters that occurred between January 1, 2019 and April 15, 2019, including flooding in the Midwest and tornadoes in the South. Benefits under the bill include special rules allowing access to retirement funds, a special credit for employee retention during business interruption, suspension of limits on deductions for certain charitable contributions, special rules for deductions for disaster-related personal casualty losses, and special rules for measurement of earned income for purposes of qualification for tax credits. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst joined Grassley and says the bill would “help provide important and badly-needed relief for Iowans in disaster areas.” ************************************************************************************ USDA, Transportation, Provide Funding Assistance to Iowa The Departments of Agriculture and Transportation are providing federal relief for parts of Iowa damaged by spring flooding. USDA announced Monday that Farm Service Agency offices in six Southwest Iowa counties are now accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program. Last week, FSA also announced that emergency grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program acres is approved in Iowa through May 14, 2019. Similar measures have been approved for Nebraska producers. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation has made $9 million of emergency quick release funds immediately available from the Federal Highway Administration. The funds are to help Iowa repair road damages caused by flooding in Iowa. Requests for emergency relief funding for transportation repairs have reached approximately $90 million The “Quick Release” funds are intended as a down payment on the costs of short-term repairs while further damage assessment for long-term repairs take place. A major thoroughfare that connects Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, Interstate 29, remains closed primarily due to extensive flood damages in Iowa.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 15, 2019 |


EPA's Wheeler Says Agency May Not Grant as Many RFS Waivers EPA may not grant as many small refiner exemptions relative to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Reuters in an interview. Prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) have been lower for an extended period, he told the news service. "The RIN prices have been relatively low and relatively calm since last spring so that would tell me that there should be less economic harm in the refining industry right now than there was a year ago," Wheeler said. Acknowledging there is "more than just the price of RINs for economic harm," Wheeler said, "but just by that factor alone, I would think there would be fewer refinery exemptions because of that." EPA is still awaiting recommendations from the Department of Energy on the small refiner waivers, Wheeler said, but still expects those to arrive by the end of the week. Wheeler did not put a timeline on the decision-making for the exemptions, only saying they would be made following receipt of the DOE data. Grassley Seeking Info From Energy Dept. on Small Refiner Exemptions Senate Finance Committee Chairman and noted biofuel backer Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is seeking more information from the Department of Energy (DOE) on the criteria they are using to make recommendations to EPA on small refiner exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Grassley said in an April 10 letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry that he wanted more information on why the number of small refiner exemptions under the RFS surged for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years, particularly when DOE has indicated that their criteria for evaluating those requests has not changed since 2011. Citing litigation that revealed out of 48 applications for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years, DOE gave the applicants in at least half of those cases a viability score of zero. "This seems to indicate that compliance costs with the RFS had little to no impact on the small refinery's ability to stay competitive and profitable," Grassley stated. Grassley said he wants to know if DOE has changed criteria on small refiner exemptions, the interpretation of that criteria, the methodology or any other significant aspect of how it makes recommendations to EPA for smaller refiner exemptions. He also asked if DOE is aware of instances when they recommended no exemption or a partial exemptions, only to have EPA grant an exemption anyway. In a 2011 Small Refinery Study, DOE said they would they would make a recommendation "of disproportionate impact" if both indices they use were greater than a rating of one. "How does DOE's recommendation for a partial exemption to a small refinery with a Viability Index of 0.0 square with the statute's requirement that the exemption can be extended only if the refinery is subject to a 'disproportionate economic hardship' from compliance with the RFS," Grassley asked. Washington Insider: Progress Seen on China Trade Deal On Sunday, the New York Times reported that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a group at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters in Washington that the biggest obstacle to a U.S.-China trade deal — how to enforce the pact — was “nearly settled.” He called the proposed deal the “biggest change in the economic relationship between the countries in 40 years,” the Times said. The Times said Mnuchin’s note of optimism came as the world’s two largest economies are racing to end a protracted trade dispute that has resulted in damaging tariffs and business uncertainty that is providing a “drag on the global economy.” “We’re hopeful that we’re getting close to the final round of concluding issues,” he told the press. The United States has been pushing China to agree to a mechanism that would allow Washington to impose tariffs on Chinese goods if Beijing reneges on certain parts of the deal. Mnuchin elaborated that the United States and China would both have the authority to enforce commitments that are agreed to indicating that Beijing “would be able to exert some control in the future as well.” We’ve already agreed there’s a big component of this that will depend on “real enforcement on both sides,” he said and noted the establishment of an enforcement office “on both sides with significant resources.” At a congressional hearing in February, Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative, described a complex enforcement mechanism under discussion that aimed to ensure China would live up to its promises. Lighthizer said then that China had agreed to regular meetings at the levels of office director, vice minister and minister that would allow the United States to keep tabs on China’s behavior and air complaints from companies about unfair business practices. If China did not keep its promises, the United States would respond “proportionally but unilaterally.” The implication was that the United States would respond with tariffs. American officials have also been pressing China to agree not to retaliate against the United States if it reimposes tariffs on Chinese goods. China has been reluctant to agree to a one-sided enforcement mechanism, viewing it as infringing on its sovereignty and giving Washington too much power over its economy. “If complaints are real, we may have to use tariffs to deal with them and we’re asking the Chinese not to retaliate,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said in March when discussing enforcement of a deal. The Times noted that people who have been closely tracking the talks “cautioned that enforcement continued to be an obstacle that remained unsettled because China and the United States had not agreed on the specifics of penalties.” “The problem with the so-called enforcement issue has to do with finding a mechanism that allows punishment for violations of the agreement,” said Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who advises the Trump administration. “That hasn’t been done yet.” On Saturday, Mnuchin declined to clarify whether the United States and China had agreed on an enforcement mechanism that would allow only Washington to respond with tariffs as punishment for violating the deal. “I want to be careful in answering that because I don’t want to get into the details of the negotiations and specifically on tariffs,” he said. But Mnuchin said later that he expected enforcement of the trade pact to be reciprocal. “There are certain commitments that the United States is making in this agreement and there are certain commitments that China is making, and I would expect that the enforcement agreement works in both directions,” he said. “We expect to honor our commitments and if we don’t, there should be certain repercussions and the same way in the other direction.” The deal under discussion would require China to end its longstanding practice of requiring American companies to hand over valuable technology as a condition of doing business there and would open portions of China’s economy more liberally. The two sides have discussed China’s buying more than $1 trillion worth of goods over the next several years to help lower the trade gap between the countries. To get China to the negotiating table, the administration slapped tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods. That punishment has begun to pinch China’s economy and Beijing’s negotiators are demanding that at least some of the tariffs be removed as a condition of any final deal. It remains unclear how many—and at what point—those tariffs will be lifted, the Times said. The Treasury secretary made clear that there were still provisions that need to be completed and that a deal was not yet certain. Officials from the United States and China are in regular contact by telephone, Mnuchin noted and they are determining if additional face-to-face meetings are needed. A far-reaching deal that improves trade relations with China would be a real step forward, especially for U.S. ag producers. But the devil is always in the details which should be watched closely as they emerge Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 15, 2019 |


Senators from states that are still recovering from natural disasters met with President Trump at the White House to talk about stalled disaster aid. The House passed a bill that failed to advance in the Senate. Politico says the legislation has been bogged down for months over a dispute about U.S. aid to Puerto Rico. Roll Call Dot Com says Hurricane Maria battered the island in 2017 and Congress set aside billions of dollars in assistance. However, some $20 billion in rebuilding aid hasn’t been spent yet and President Trump has accused Puerto Rico officials of mismanaging the aid. Senate Republicans have introduced a $13 billion aid package, which includes $600 million in additional assistance to Puerto Rico. Democrats want an additional $462 million for the long-term rebuilding of the country. House Democrats introduced a $17.2 billion bill last week that builds on the House version while adding an additional $3 billion to help Midwest flooding victims recover. Another winter storm dumped heavy snow on parts of the Plains and the Midwest last week. At one point, almost 90,000 people were without power in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The additional precipitation and snowmelt could cause another surge in the Missouri River after severe flooding swamped farmlands and grain storage sites last month. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Pork Still Pushing for Quick Trade Agreement with Japan The U.S. pork industry is pushing for trade talks with Japan to get underway immediately. Politico says the industry is lobbying the administration to move quickly in striking a favorable deal. Nick Giordano (Jee-oar-DAH-no), vice president and counsel for the National Pork Producers Association, spoke during a recent media roundtable. He says the 11-nation CPTPP, which is the new name for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has squeezed out U.S companies that are already being hit hard by retaliatory tariffs from China and Mexico. “The pork industry is on no less than three retaliation lists,” Giordano says. “I’m not sure there’s another industry in our country that’s on three lists. It’s an immediate hair-on-fire issue.” He says a lot of people really don’t know what’s at stake in Japan. It’s the pork industry’s biggest-value market and “the math says we have a big problem.” Politico says there was a slight glimmer of hope for the pork industry. China bought more than 77,000 metric tons of U.S. pork last week as African Swine Fever continues spreading throughout parts of Asia. It’s the biggest weekly sale to China since the USDA began keeping records. ********************************************************************************************** Rabobank Says ASF Will Create Large Protein Shortfall Production losses from African Swine Fever have exceeded initial estimates. When you combine the shortfalls in China with those in the rest of Asia where the disease has popped up, Rabobank says there are both challenges and opportunities for protein exporters. Rabobank says it expects China’s pork production losses to total between 25 and 30 percent. The disease is also in Vietnam, where productions losses will reach 10 percent. ASF has also reached into Cambodia and Europe. Animal protein companies that have the necessary supply, as well as access to Chinese and Asian markets, will likely benefit from the impact of ASF. The European Union, the U.S., and Brazil appear to be in the best place to respond to the increased import demand for pork and other animal proteins in China and Asia. However, the disease outbreak in eastern Europe could potentially restrict the amount of available European exports. The U.S. is a major pork producer, yet the tariffs in place on U.S. pork exports to China are restricting current trade opportunities. The U.S. is also a major poultry exporter but can’t send shipments to China because of a ban that’s in place thanks to avian influenza back in 2015. ********************************************************************************************** Fewer Biofuel Waivers in the Future In a statement sure to please ethanol backers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may grant fewer waivers that exempt small refineries from the country’s biofuel policy. Reuters says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler feels that move can be made because lower prices for blending credits have made the cost of compliance lower. The administration’s recent use of those waivers to save the oil industry money has drawn the ire of the corn lobby, which claims the exemptions have been overused and threaten demand for corn-based ethanol. The waivers have been handed out at a time when farmers are already struggling financially. During the Trump Administration, the EPA has granted far more waivers than at any time in the past. In an interview with Reuters, Wheeler says the prices of the Renewable Identification Numbers have fallen, easing the financial strain on refineries in complying with the biofuel blending requirements. “RIN prices have been relatively low and relatively calm since last spring,” Wheeler says, “so that tells me that there should be less economic harm in the refining industry now than there was a year ago.” ********************************************************************************************** Veterinary Association Applauds Bill to Address Vet Shortage The American Veterinary Association is happy about the re-introduction in Congress of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act. It’s an important bill to the industry because if it’s passed, it will play a critical role in addressing shortages of food animal and public health veterinarians in rural and agricultural communities. “Veterinary shortages are one of the many significant challenges facing farmers and ranchers today,” says AVMA President Dr. John De Jong (Young). “If we don’t take steps to address these shortages, we’ll likely see an increase in animal disease incidents that impact our economy and even public health.” De Jong says they’re very grateful to all lawmakers who’ve been supportive of the legislation. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture designated 190 regions in 44 states as suffering from shortages of food animal or public health veterinarians, the most in the program’s history. Student debt is a key cause of the shortage. Students typically graduate with $180,000 in debt. Careers as a food animal vet typically pay less than a career as a companion animal vet. ********************************************************************************************* Livestock Producers Pleased with Bernhardt Confirmation Ethan Lane, senior executive director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands, says the confirmation of David Bernhardt as Secretary of Interior is good news for livestock producers. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Secretary and are glad he can finally focus on the Department of Interior’s critical work,” Lane says. “While we celebrate the new Secretary’s confirmation, several senior positions at the Interior Department remain vacant.” Lane says they’re asking the administration to get those vacant spots filled as quickly as possible. In the meantime, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says Bernhardt reinvigorated multiple-use management of America’s public lands while serving as Deputy and then Acting Secretary. “This included regulatory efforts to reform implementation of the Endangered Species Act, streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as promoting outcome-based grazing across our nation’s rangelands,” Duvall says. “He also implemented policies to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the West.” Duvall says they look forward to working with the new Secretary on behalf of all farmers and ranchers.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 15, 2019 |


Number of American Sheep Producers on the Rise The Census of Agriculture was released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and included an influx of sheep producers since the last census in 2012. The current census shows 101,387 sheep producers in the United States - a rise of more than 13,000 producers since the last census. This is the first time since the 1969 Census of Agriculture that the United States has shown more than 100,000 active sheep producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 12, 2019 |


New Census of Agriculture Data Released The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The census covers around 6.4 million points of information about America’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The National Ag Statistics Service collected the information that shows both farm numbers and land in farms have continuing small percentage declines since the last census back in 2012. The average age of all farmers and ranchers continues to rise. Some of the other highlights include the fact that there are 2.04 million farms and ranches in the country. That’s 3.2 percent lower than 2012. The average farm size is 441 acres, up 1.6 percent. American farms and ranches cover 900 million acres, also down 1.6 percent. Average farm income is $43,053. A total of 43 percent of the nation’s farms had a positive net cash farm income in 2017. Farm expenses are $326 billion, with feed, livestock purchases, hired labor, fertilizer, and cash rents topping the list in 2017. Also in 2017, over 130,000 farms sold products directly to consumers, with sales totaling $2.8 billion. ********************************************************************************************** Perdue Unhappy with Vietnam Decision on Glyphosate The Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development made the decision to ban the importation of glyphosate. U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says he’s extremely disappointed in the decision. “It’s a move that will have a devastating impact on global agricultural production,” he says. “As I’ve said before, if we’re going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, farmers around the world need all the tools and technologies at their disposal.” Perdue says the USDA has shared scientific studies on the safety of glyphosate with the Vietnamese Ag Ministry on numerous occasions. The studies come from the Environmental Protection Agency and other internationally-recognized regulatory bodies and they all show glyphosate as unlikely to be a carcinogenic threat to humans. He says the decision by Vietnam flies in the face of all the available scientific evidence. Vietnam has sidestepped its obligation to notify the World Trade Organization of the regulatory change. “Vietnam also needs to look at the potential ramifications for its own farmers,” Perdue adds. “Not only will it slow the development of Vietnamese agricultural production, but there’s also a real risk that the country’s farmers will turn to unregulated, illegal chemicals in place of glyphosate.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Soy Leaders Hold Successful Meetings in China Leaders from the U.S. Soybean Council, the American Soybean Association, and the United Soybean Board visited with Chinese customers to reinforce and strengthen trade relationships. “We are ready to do more business with China in the coming season,” says ASA President Davie Stephens. “Our farmers are proud of the soy they grow in the U.S., and we are optimistic a mutually beneficial trade agreement will be reached soon so that open and free trade can start again.” USB Chair Keith Tapp says customers around the world know they can count on American soybean farmers to deliver a consistent, sustainable, and nutritious product year after year. “U.S. soy is the preferred choice in more countries than ever before and continues to deliver strong performance internationally and here at home.” The visits to Beijing and Shanghai were a part of USSEC efforts to maintain and continue to build relationships with exporters and stakeholders in China. The U.S. Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, delivered keynote remarks during the meeting in Shanghai. The American organizations wanted to remind Chinese customers of the benefits of U.S. soy, thank them for their trust in American soybean farmers and the U.S. supply chain, and foster business in the future with U.S. soy interests. ********************************************************************************************** ASF Picture Getting Even Worse African Swine Fever is continuing to devastate China’s hog population while it disrupts global pork markets and forces U.S. industry stakeholders to work together on prevention efforts. David Williams of Informa Economics and Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board, recently gave presentations at the North American Meat Institute’s Meat industry Summit. The trade industry website Meating Place Dot Com says both presentations were very bleak. “African Swine Fever is the worst possible disease in swine in the world,” Even said during his remarks. “China is home to half the world’s pigs, so preventing ASF in North America is critical. There is no vaccine for ASF. There’s no way to treat it.” Even says the Chinese producers they’ve spoken to describe the disease as a flow of hot, molten lava, moving slowly through their facility but killing everything. ASF has killed 18 percent of China’s herd, which topped 435 million head before the outbreak. That 18 percent is more than the entire U.S. hog population. The disease is transmitted through sick animals, as well as contaminated feed and casings. Outbreaks are now popping up in Vietnam, Tibet, Cambodia, and South Africa. ASF is not in the United States, nor have any U.S. pigs been affected by the disease to date. It’s a viral disease that only affects pigs, so it’s not a public health threat. ********************************************************************************************** House Ag Chair Backs One-Time Payment for Flooded Grain Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says farmers ought to be eligible for federal compensation for grain lost in flooded bins this spring. At nearly the same time, House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson called for a one-time payment to flooded grain operators. Insurance policies typically cover grain bins and the equipment needed to move the grain. However, that doesn’t apply to the contents of the grain bins. The USDA says none of the agency’s disaster programs cover stored grain hit by floods. The problem is farmers are storing larger-than-normal amounts of grain because of past bumper crops and an ongoing trade war. “I think we can do a one-time thing to try and help people with that,” Peterson says. What makes the flooding even worse for farmers is grain cannot be sold for food use if it’s been contaminated by flooding because of possible mold and fungal development. On Capitol Hill, Perdue compared flooded grains in bins to flooded grain fields, saying, “If it was flooded prior to harvest, would we have compensated for it? Yes. Just because it’s in the bin, does that make it different? They haven’t marketed that. I think it’s something we should consider.” ********************************************************************************************* Burger King Selling Plant-Based Whopper Burger King, the fifth-largest fast food chain, is getting into the plant-based alternative protein market. Burger King, working together with Impossible Foods, announced they’ll be selling what’s called the “Impossible Whopper,” a plant-based version of the company’s most famous sandwich. A Drovers’ Report says Burger King will start selling the new offering at 59 restaurants throughout the St. Louis area. If the pilot project in St. Louis is successful and sales justify it, the plant-based burger could make its way into the more than 7,000 locations around the country. Burger King is the latest fast-food chain to start selling a plant-based meat alternative. However, they aren’t the only restaurant chain that’s been looking into the possibility. In recent years, other restaurants have partnered with companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Carl’s Jr. is currently the largest restaurant to sell a plant-based burger after it started selling a Beyond Meat product called the Beyond Famous Star in more than 1,100 locations. TGI Friday’s started selling plant-based Beyond Meat Burgers in January of last year.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 12, 2019 |


Advocates Urge Idaho PUC to Reject Idaho Power’s Anti-Competition, Anti-Solar Proposal Utility Proposal Puts Solar Energy Savings at Risk for Idaho Businesses, Farmers April 11, 2019: Boise, Idaho - Advocates are raising concerns about a proposal from Idaho Power Company that would increase utility bills and uncertainty for many businesses and farmers that want to use solar energy to meet their own electricity needs. The utility’s application to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, which was filed Friday, seeks to immediately suspend the state’s net metering solar program for its Commercial, Industrial, and Irrigation Customers and keep those markets closed until 2020. Vote Solar and Idaho Conservation League are urging the Commission to reject this latest attempt by the utility to protect its monopoly energy business at the expense of competitive clean energy and consumer choice. "Idaho has a tradition of fostering independent businesses and individual choice. Rooftop solar is a great example of this, with local companies seeking to help individuals meet their own energy needs with competitive clean options. Now the monopoly utility is trying to unilaterally change the rules of the game just as Idaho's independent solar industry is starting to grow," said Ben Otto, Energy Associate with the Idaho Conservation League. "This unfair and unjustified move to squash competition from the local solar industry also undercuts Idaho Power's recent announcement to go 100 percent clean. To achieve this goal will require a wide variety of clean energy developments, including distributed energy systems where customers spend their own money to meet their own needs." "Idaho Power may be promising 100% clean energy, but now the monopoly utility is making clear that it wants to be the only one that controls that affordable, reliable clean power,” said Briana Kobor, Regulatory Director with Vote Solar. “Every Idaho family, church, school and business should have the right to go solar on their own property if they so choose, and they deserve fair net metering compensation and predictability from their utility for making that investment. This proposal is bad for businesses that want to go solar, bad for Idaho’s growing solar job market, and another worrisome blow to consumer choice and energy freedom from this utility.” Net metering makes sure that solar customers receive fair credit on their utility bills for the valuable, reliable electricity they deliver to the grid. This individual investment in local solar power reduces the need for expensive utility infrastructure, lowers energy bills, and supports local solar installation jobs. This sudden move by Idaho Power to restrict net metering is already impacting local energy businesses that have developed pipelines of planned solar projects for commercial, industrial and irrigation customers across the state. “We are a third-generation family-owned Idaho solar company and shocked to hear of the recent filing as 75 percent of our projected revenue for 2019 comes from agricultural and commercial projects,” said Cat Gietzen of Gietzen Solar. “In our experience, it has become clear that the impact of electrical costs on agricultural operations can be extremely prohibitive and solar has given them the opportunity to combat those costs. We hope the Public Utilities Commission will realize the detrimental impact this could have on local Idaho businesses and their families.” Friday’s filing comes on the heels of a 2017-2018 proceeding in which the utility created a discriminatory new rate class for its residential and small commercial net metering customers for the purpose of modifying net metering in the future, making it the latest in a series of attempts from Idaho Power to weaken this important consumer solar right. The Commission is expected to take up the case in the coming weeks and Vote Solar and Idaho Conservation League will be advocating for fair treatment for Idaho Power’s solar customers.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 12, 2019 |


Ranchers Welcome Bernhardt Confirmation, Urge Action on Remaining Vacancies WASHINGTON (April 11, 2019) – Today Ethan Lane, senior executive director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands, released the following statement in response to the confirmation of David Bernhardt to be Secretary of Interior: “The confirmation of Secretary Bernhardt is welcome news for livestock producers across the country. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Secretary and are glad he can finally focus on the Department of Interior’s critical work. While we celebrate the confirmation of a new Secretary, several senior positions at the Department of Interior remain vacant. We urge the White House to quickly address these vacancies by re-nominating qualified candidates like Aurelia Skipwith to serve as Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as filling other critical vacancies throughout the Department and Administration.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 12, 2019 |


Census of Agriculture Shows Changes for Montana Agriculture Report shows demographic changes, loss of farm income Helena, Mont. – USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service today released the 2017 Census of Agriculture, highlighting several key data points important to Montana’s agriculture industry. Montana’s report can be found here. “The Census of Agriculture is an important tool for both producers and policy makers,” said Montana Department of Agriculture Director Ben Thomas. “While the report shows that Montana farmers have taken a big hit in farm income over the last 5 years, it also shows that our producers aren’t taking those hits lying down, as they continue to diversify and adopt new practices to make their operations more resilient.” Perhaps the most significant datapoint from the report is that farm income in Montana is down nearly 30% since 2012. The loss in farm income shows that Montana farmers have not been immune to the higher input costs, extreme weather, and market volatility facing the industry. There are also several bright spots included in the report: Women are making up a larger piece of the Montana agriculture pie, with nearly 24% more female producers since 2012. Montana producers also continue to show their willingness to adopt new technologies and conservation techniques, with no-till acreage up over 17% from 2012, for a total of 8,050,902 acres. New to the census this year is a question on value-added agriculture. The report shows that 292 farms across Montana are adding value to raw commodities through further manufacturing or processing, worth over $9 million in 2017. Producers are also taking more of an interest in specialty crops. Since 2012, Montana has added 162 new orchards and increased hops production from nearly 0 to 14,400 pounds. The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. 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 agr.mt.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 11, 2019 |


USDA Can't Speed Dairy Margin Coverage Program Implementation of the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program really cannot be pushed any faster than USDA already has done. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue told the House Appropriations Ag subcommittee that it would be impossible to move up the signup date for the Dairy Margin Coverage program, now set for June 17. But he said the program should be a “no-brainer” for farms with fewer than 250 to 300 cows. He said implementation of the dairy program has been slowed by a requirement that USDA reimburse farmers for fees they paid under the old Margin Protection Program, but that many of the records needed to make the reimbursements were kept on paper. Washington Insider: New US, EU Tariff Fight Amid continuing suggestions that trade talks with China are going well, the New York Times is reporting this week that the U.S. and the EU “are preparing to impose tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s products.” The report calls this development the latest escalation in a 14-year fight over government aid given to Boeing and European rival Airbus. President Trump tweeted that the WTO found that “European Union subsidies to Airbus adversely impacted the United States which will now put Tariffs on $11 Billion of EU products!” on Tuesday morning. The NYT report said that the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said on Monday that it was preparing a list of European products to tax as retaliation for European subsidies to Airbus, which the WTO ruled illegal in 2018. In response, the EU countered that it was also readying a list of tariffs to counter American subsidies to Boeing. The Times notes that the current moves come amid tense trade relations between the United States and Europe, “which are engaged in a battle of tariffs after the president’s decision last year to tax European steel and aluminum.” The administration has repeatedly threatened to impose tariffs on European cars and car parts if it does not agree to better trade terms for American products – and Europe has said it will retaliate on American goods if the U.S. follows through on that threat. This increase in tensions stems from a dispute that began in 2004 related to government subsidies that Europe provides to Airbus, the Times said. Then, last May, the WTO concluded that Airbus had received illegal funding for several of its aircraft models so the U.S. requested authority to impose retaliatory tariffs of $11.2 billion per year. Now, the two sides are awaiting a decision on the level of tariffs that the United States will be authorized to levy on the European Union. In preparation for that decision, which is expected this summer, the U.S. said Monday night that it was beginning to identify European products to tax. The initial list would cover $11 billion of trade in products including airplanes, cheese, fish, wine, clothing, nails, pipes and clocks — the same dollar amount of harm that USTR estimated European subsidies cause each year. Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative said that, “Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft. When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.” The European Commission indicated on Tuesday that it considers the $11 billion in retaliatory measures to be overblown and not justified by any findings by WTO. It said it will ask WTO arbitrators to authorize retaliatory measures aimed at Boeing tax breaks in Washington State and incentives in South Carolina “that amounted to subsidies." For its part, Airbus called the American tariff announcement “totally unjustified” and said that the European Union would take “far larger countermeasures against the U.S.” The European Commission also has begun drawing up a list of products that would be covered by retaliatory tariffs, but is awaiting a WTO decision before specifying which products would be targeted and how much trade they would encompass. The U.S. arguments at the WTO have centered on billions of dollars of “launch aid” that the EU has given Airbus to develop new products. The U.S. contends that such aid gave Airbus an unfair advantage, allowing it to gain market share in Europe, Australia, China, South Korea and elsewhere at Boeing’s expense. European criticism of the American aviation sector has mostly focused on government research contracts, but also tax breaks at the federal, state and local levels. While the subsidy dispute predates the president’s trade war by many years the conflict has recently taken on some of the same tone that has characterized relations between the United States and Europe during the last two years, including reciprocal threats, radically different interpretations of the same facts, and an undercurrent of hostility. The two governments announced plans in July to negotiate an agreement that would reduce tariffs and other barriers to trade on both sides of the Atlantic but have since disputed exactly what would be included in the agreement. Trump and his advisers have fiercely criticized the WTO for infringing on trade decisions that they insist should be the purview of the United States and for failing to police unfair behavior by China. However, they also have been quick to publicize the organization’s decisions when it finds in their favor. In its statement Monday, the administration emphasized that its latest measures against the European Union would comply with the rules of the WTO. And President Trump also cited the organization in his tweet supporting the tariffs. So, the political fights over U.S. economic and trade policy appear to continue for the foreseeable future, and to reach well beyond China. And, they likely will involve agriculture to an important extent as subsequent rounds of retaliations are imposed—and they make the fight to approve the “new NAFTA” increasingly important for producers to watch, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 11, 2019 |


U.S. and China Near Enforcement Agreement in Talks The U.S. and China have “pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism,” a major hurdle in trade talks between the two nations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC Wednesday that both sides have agreed to establish enforcement offices as part an effort to reach a trade agreement. Enforcement is a top priority and one of the most difficult to agree on, as previously stated by the Trump Administration. Meanwhile, earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described ongoing talks with China to cut ethanol tariffs “positive” for U.S. farmers. However, Perdue warned the talks were not over. Perdue says lowering ethanol tariffs in China “would obviously be good for our domestic corn industry,” but “it’s never over till it’s over with the Chinese.” Last year, China imposed up to 70 percent tariff levels on U.S. ethanol as part of the tit-for-tat trade war between the two nations. An industry source told Reuters the expectation is China will decrease the ethanol tariff level to five percent and push for E10 fuels in China. ************************************************************************************* Disaster Aid Uncertain in Congress Disaster aid for states hit by flooding is more uncertain as Congress nears recess and ag lawmakers seem at odds over what producers need. Politico reports negotiations to pass a disaster relief package have collapsed just as another storm hits the Midwest and Great Plains, prompting blizzard warnings from Colorado to Minnesota. Midwest Senators are pushing for a disaster bill that includes $3 billion for flooding in 2019. But, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson told reporters the Midwest doesn’t need billions in disaster aid like farmers in Southern states do. Peterson says the majority of crops or livestock damaged by flooding in Nebraska and Iowa were covered by crop insurance or are eligible for farm bill disaster programs, which isn’t the case for many Southern crops like pecan trees and peaches hit by last year’s hurricanes. Peterson says the only thing not covered in the Midwest is stored grain that was damaged. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers this week USDA can assist in crafting language that would allow those farmers help. However, time to provide immediate assistance is running out as both chambers begin a two-week recess Friday. ************************************************************************************* NPPC Cancels World Pork Expo Citing an abundance of caution, The National Pork Producers Council Wednesday announced its decision to cancel World Pork Expo 2019 as African swine fever continues to spread in China and other parts of Asia. World Pork Expo, held each June at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, hosts approximately 20,000 visitors over three days, including individuals and exhibitors from ASF-positive regions. David Herring, NPPC president, called prevention the “only defense against ASF,” adding “while an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution.” The decision to cancel this year's World Pork Expo comes as more than 100 U.S. pork producers gather in Washington this week to meet with their members of Congress during NPPC's Legislative Action Conference. Pork producers are asking Congress to appropriate funding for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to further strengthen defenses against African swine fever. Despite the cancellation, the National Swine Registry, Certified Pedigreed Swine, and the American Berkshire Association are still planning a live swine show during the week of June 2-8, 2019. ************************************************************************************* Midwest Senators Push for Locks Modernization A group of Midwest lawmakers is leading a new push to modernize locks along inland waterways. A letter from lawmakers representing Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. urges Senate and House appropriators to include funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Restoration Program in the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bills. The program, authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, would modernize and expand seven outdated locks and restore ecosystems along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Funding is needed so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can move forward with preconstruction engineering and design for the projects. The letter, led by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, says Inland and intercoastal waterways and ports are vital to the U.S. economy. Those waterways serve 38 states throughout the nation as shippers and consumers depend on the ability to move around 600 million tons of cargo valued at $232 billion annually. 73 percent of U.S. agricultural exports were carried on U.S. waterways, as well as 65 percent of imports. ************************************************************************************* R-CALF Praises Introduction of Beef Checkoff Reform Legislation Legislation reintroduced last week seeks to reform the beef checkoff program. The Voluntary Check-Off Program Participation Act, reintroduced by Senate Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, would “allow producers to vote freely with their pocketbooks regarding whether they are individually satisfied with the checkoff’s performance,” according to R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. R-CALF applauded the reintroduction of the bill, calling the mandatory checkoff a “cattle tax.” The bill was previously introduced during Congress’ 2017-2018 session and was referred to the Agriculture Committee. Reintroduction will ensure the measures are again considered by the full Congress. Bullard of R-CALF says the bill would bring accountability and transparency to the beef checkoff program. In reintroducing the bill, Senator Lee of Utah stated, “Checkoff programs force farmers to pay into a system that sometimes actively works against their interests.” Lee continued that boards of checkoff programs have also “come under fire for a lack of transparency and for misuse of their funds.” ************************************************************************************* Former Senate Ag Chair Blanche Lincoln Joins Farmers for Free Trade Former U.S. Senator and Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln is joining Farmers for Free Trade to help launch the #MotorcadeForTrade Tour in Pennsylvania. The tour kicks off Friday and Lincoln will join the campaign as a senior advisor and spokesperson. She brings over two decades of experience working on agriculture and trade policy. Her expertise brings a powerful voice to American farmers during a critical time in trade history, according to the organization. Lincoln called Congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement “a top priority for our nation’s agriculture industry.” Senator Lincoln represented Arkansas in Congress for 16 years as both a two-term member of the House and a two-term member of the Senate. She is the youngest female ever elected to serve in the United States Senate and became the first female in history to serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 11, 2019 |


Public Lands Council to Fund Federal Lands Ranching Projects, Opens Proposal Application Period WASHINGTON (April 10, 2018) – Today the Public Lands Council (PLC) launched a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) for projects designed to strengthen the long-term viability of the public lands ranching industry. Funded by the PLC Endowment Trust, the RFP provides financial support to projects addressing key issues across the federal lands ranching industry. While all project proposals are eligible for consideration, the PLC Endowment Trust identified the following priority areas: Generating current, relevant data on the public perception and misconceptions amongst suburban/urban and non-western consumers and voters regarding public lands ranching and surrounding issues; Contributing to the body of science and data illustrating the importance of grazing to western land management, ecosystem services and other benefits of grazing, and other such relevant science and data; and Compiling data related to the regional and local economic impacts of grazing and related industries to rural communities compared to the seasonal tourism and recreational impacts. With more than 22,000 public land ranchers maintaining 250 million acres of U.S. public land, grazing on federal lands contributes to the economic and social sustainability of America’s rural communities. All those interested in submitting a proposal should visit the PLC website for proposal submission instructions. The proposal form and any additional materials should be submitted via email to anelson@beef.org no later than Friday, May 31, 2019. The PLC Endowment Trust was established for the purpose of maintaining an endowment to protect, enhance and preserve public lands and the public lands livestock grazing industry. For more details please visit www.publiclandscouncil.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 10, 2019 |


Canada Prepping Tariff list as U.S. Section 232 Tariffs Remain Canada is refreshing a list of tariffs on the U.S. as section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs remain against Canada. Politico reports the effort is part of Canada pressuring President Donald Trump to remove the tariffs he imposed last year. Removing the tariffs, though separate, were thought to be part of reaching an agreement on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump has yet to remove the tariffs that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has previously said would negate any benefits on the updated trade agreement. Canada has also stated it would not implement the agreement if the tariffs are not removed. David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, said this week the refreshed list of tariffs is not yet complete, and he expects “a significant number” of agricultural products to be on the new list. While it’s too early to name specific products, he noted some in Canada have called for including apples, pork and ethanol. ************************************************************************************* Flooding Harms Ethanol Production, Drives Gas Prices Higher March flooding throughout the Midwest caused shortages of ethanol as production was reduced, with threats of more flooding on the way. The decreased ethanol production is also fueling the increase seen in gas prices, according to Reuters, as ethanol prices on the coasts spiked due to shortages. Midwest producers have been unable to take advantage of the price increase because of washed-out rail lines. In Southern California, including Los Angeles, the ethanol shortages are one of the factors that are pushing gas prices towards $4 a gallon, a level not seen since 2014. The multi-billion dollar damages in March impacted farms, homes and infrastructure, as well as cutting ethanol production by 13 percent. The biggest problem facing the industry, getting ethanol to market, will continue as repairs are made to railways and U.S. ethanol inventories rise to near record levels. Additionally, storms across the Midwest and Great Plains threaten further flooding, further impacting plants and the transportation systems they rely on. ************************************************************************************* USDA WASDE Lowers Corn Use, Soybean Imports The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates released Tuesday by the Department of Agriculture reduces projected corn use and calls for lower soybean imports. This month’s 2018/19 corn outlook projects lower feed and residual use, reductions in corn used for ethanol and exports, and larger stocks. The season-average corn price received by producers is unchanged at a midpoint of $3.55 per bushel. Meanwhile, soybean supply and use changes for 2018/19 include lower imports, higher seed use, and lower ending stocks. Soybean imports are also reduced in line with reported trade through January. The season-average soybean price is forecast at $8.35 to $8.85, unchanged at the midpoint. The outlook for wheat this month is for unchanged supplies but reduced exports and domestic use. The season-average farm price is raised $0.05 per bushel at the midpoint to $5.20. The cotton supply and demand forecasts show lower consumption and higher ending stocks relative to last month. The season-average farm price is unchanged with a midpoint of 70 cents per pound. Finally, the 2019 forecast for total red meat and poultry production is lowered from last month on lower expected beef, pork and broiler production. ************************************************************************************* House Approves Colorado River Drought Plan The U.S. House has passed a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River aimed at improving water conservation. Led by Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (Ra-ull- Gree-al-vah) a Democrat from Arizona, the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act implements the Drought Contingency Plan. The plan is a water-sharing agreement between Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, California, New Mexico and Nevada that accounts for ongoing water shortages and regional climate change throughout the Southwest. The House passed the bill on a voice vote, and once transmitted to the Senate, "it will be considered approved and will be sent directly to the White House." The agreement establishes new water conservation measures to protect reservoir levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell, using voluntary water reductions and management strategies to avoid historic lows in Colorado River reservoirs, which would trigger dramatic water delivery cuts to the seven states. Utah Democratic Representative Ben McAdams called the Colorado River the "lifeblood for farmers and ranchers in Eastern Utah," adding Lake Powell and Lake Mead are operating as designed, but both "at uncomfortably low levels." McAdams says Congress needed to act quickly so "the new agreement can be implemented, and water conservation efforts can begin." ************************************************************************************* Bayer Releases 107 Studies on Safety of Glyphosate Amidst lawsuits claiming the product causes cancer, Bayer has released more than 100 studies on the safety profile of glyphosate. Bayer sent 107 reports to the European Food Safety Authority and has made the reports available on its dedicated transparency platform. The files reports include crop protection safety studies as part of being more transparent following the acquisition of Monsanto. Many of the studies were submitted to and evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during its own risk assessment of glyphosate. The new addition to the Bayer Transparency platform follows last December's publication of more than 300 glyphosate safety study summaries submitted under the EU substance authorization process for plant protection products. In a statement, Bayer called transparency a “catalyst for trust,” adding Bayer stands behind the safety of glyphosate and will continue to vigorously defend its glyphosate-based products. Bayer says the information comes from a “strong body of science that confirms glyphosate and glyphosate-based products are safe when used as directed and that glyphosate does not cause cancer.” ************************************************************************************* Largest Plant-Based Food Operation Planned in Indiana A $310 million investment will create North America’s largest plant-based food facility in Shelbyville, Indiana. The planned facility is slated to become operational in late 2020 and could create more than 400 jobs. Greenleaf Foods, SPC, a subsidiary of Canada-based Maple Leaf Foods Inc., will construct and equip a 230,000-square-foot facility on 57 acres in Shelbyville, some 30 miles southeast of Indianapolis. The facility will more than double the company's production capacity to meet what it calls surging consumer demand for its portfolio of brands, including, the top two brands in the refrigerated alternative protein category. Fresh refrigerated products represent approximately 24 percent of the total market and delivered 40 percent sales growth in 2018. While burgers are fueling category growth, all refrigerated products are forecasted to deliver double-digit growth for the next 20 years. Dan Curtin, president of Greenleaf Foods, says the new facility "will be a center of plant-based protein excellence." The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Greenleaf Foods, SPC up to $5 million in performance-based, conditional tax credits and up to $1 million in training grants based on the company's job creation plans.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 10, 2019 |


Gov. Bullock Temporarily Lifts Hours of Service Regulations to Meet Fertilizer Delivery Demands Helena, Mont. – With a compressed spring planting schedule and an increased fertilizer delivery demand facing farmers across Montana, Governor Bullock yesterday signed an executive order temporarily exempting certain carriers from hours of service regulations. The order pertains only to carriers actively involved in transporting anhydrous ammonia and other fertilizers. The executive order requires that carriers and commercial drivers operate their commercial motor vehicles in a safe and prudent manner, and that “hours of service” requirements must be followed if a driver needs immediate rest. The order will expire at midnight on June 6th, 2019.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 10, 2019 |


MSGA travels to Washington DC to advance priorities (HELENA, MT) The Montana Stockgrowers Association traveled to Washington D.C. this week to meet with Montana’s Congressional Delegation and advance policy priorities of Montana’s ranchers. The Association’s priorities included advancing international trade for Montana ranchers, finding a permanent solution for Electronic Logging Devices for agricultural haulers, increased research for brucellosis, and promoting an industry-led Country of Origin Labeling program. “It’s critical that Stockgrowers has a presence in Washington DC and we have a voice at the highest level,” noted Montana Stockgrowers Association President Fred Wacker of Miles City, Mont. “We were able to meet with agencies that affect the day-to-day at home in Montana. It was a successful trip and we would like to thank the Montana Delegation for meeting with us.” President Fred Wacker was joined by First Vice President Jim Steinbeisser of Sidney and Second Vice President John Grande of Martinsdale for the trip. The officer team from MSGA met with Senator Tester, Senator Daines, and Congressman Gianforte in addition to agency meetings with the Department of Interior, Department of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 10, 2019 |


Hanford, Calif.–based Central Valley Meat Holding Company has agreed to acquire Selma, Calif.-based Harris Ranch Beef Holding Company, forming the seventh largest beef packer in the United States, the companies announced. Currently, Central Valley Meat Company processes up to 1,400 head per day or 365,000 head and 350 million edible pounds annually. Harris Ranch Beef processes up to 1,200 head per day or 270,000 head and 216 million edible pounds annually. Central Valley operates three plants in Vernon, Hanford and Selma, California.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 10, 2019 |


America’s onion supply coming up short this spring Weather issues and dwindling global supplies will put the squeeze on the United States’ available onion stocks for the next few months. Normally, American growers have enough onions in storage to last through the spring, while the spring and summer harvests get under way. That’s not the case today, as April supplies have dwindled 30 percent from the same time last year. April 1 stocks on hand sat at 6 million 50-pound units, down 61 percent in just one month. At current demand levels, onion storage will be all but nil by June. “Decreased onion exports out of Europe, coupled with shrinking supplies from Mexico and Canada, fewer acres planted and increased demand in the United States are making for these tighter supplies,” said Greg Yielding, executive vice president and chief executive of the National Onion Association, based in Greeley, Colo. “Our nation’s growers will be working around the clock to continue to meet consumer demand. This could take another few months to balance out.” The tight supplies are a direct result of continued strong demand for onions across America, coupled with increased pressures on onion supplies across the globe. A good 74 percent of the United States’ onion imports come from Mexico. Bad weather has hurt Mexican crops, especially, their coveted white onions. Shortages in European markets also have put increased pressure on worldwide onion supplies, which have a ripple effect in the United States. Imports from Canada, which make up about 10 percent of the United States onion import market, also are impacted by this worldwide crunch. America’s spring and summer harvests are starting to get under way, but they are down a bit from previous years. The overall spring crop in California is down 25 percent to 30 percent in acres. Texas onions, also with fewer acres planted, are coming out of the ground but the harvest has been slow due to wet weather. Georgia’s Vidalia crop also is smaller than previous years – about 20 percent — while harvest also is rather slow due to weather. Look for Vidalias to hit the market on April 22. Onions are grown throughout the United States and are harvested at varying times through the year. The spring and summer harvests normally replenish spring shortages, while the fall crops keep Americans eating onions throughout the winter.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 10, 2019 |


Corn: Cash corn prices moved sideways on Tuesday, and now is close to the lower end of the four month range. Soybeans: Cash soybeans continue to chop sideways, now in the middle of the three month range, as futures closed unchanged on Tuesday. Wheat: Cash winter wheat prices remain under bearish pressure, moving lower again on Tuesday following the bearish USDA report. Cotton: May cotton prices nearly touched the 200-day moving average before settling lower on Tuesday, but well above contract low. Live Cattle: June cattle futures moved sideways to lower on Tuesday and remain above the 50-day moving average.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 10, 2019 |


Risk of African Swine Fever Introduction to U.S. Herd Considered Negligible; Decision Made Out of An Abundance of Caution Des Moines, IA, April 10, 2019 – The National Pork Producers Council's board of directors today announced its decision to cancel World Pork Expo 2019 out of an abundance of caution as African swine fever (ASF) continues to spread in China and other parts of Asia. World Pork Expo, held each June at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, hosts approximately 20,000 visitors over three days, including individuals and exhibitors from ASF-positive regions. African swine fever affects only pigs and presents no human health or food safety risks. There is currently no vaccine to treat the swine disease. "While an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution," said David Herring, NPPC president and a producer from Lillington, North Carolina. "The health of the U.S. swine herd is paramount; the livelihoods of our producers depend on it. Prevention is our only defense against ASF and NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the United States." The decision to cancel this year's World Pork Expo comes as more than 100 U.S pork producers gather in Washington this week to meet with their members of Congress during NPPC's Legislative Action Conference. To augment the USDA's efforts to protect the United States from ASF and other animal diseases, U.S. pork producers are asking Congress to appropriate funding for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to further strengthen our defenses against African swine fever. "Our farmers are highly export dependent," Herring said. "An ASF outbreak would immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds. The retaliatory tariffs we currently face in some of our largest export markets due to trade disputes are among the factors that prompted a conservative decision regarding World Pork Expo. U.S. pork producers are already operating in very challenging financial conditions." Herring added, "The widespread presence of African swine fever in China's swine herd, the world's largest by far, takes the threat of this swine disease to an entirely new level. We ask all producers, travelers and the general public to recognize the heightened risk since the first outbreak was reported in China last year and to heed biosecurity protocols in support of U.S. agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 9, 2019 |


- Canada could announce a new list of retaliatory tariffs on more U.S. goods, including agricultural products, as early as next week. The tariffs would maintain parity with the U.S. over steel and aluminum tariffs the Trump administration imposed against Canada. David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., highlighted the tariffs Monday as he spoke to members of the North American Agricultural Journalists at the group's annual meeting in Washington. MacNaughton said Canadian officials are reconfiguring retaliatory tariffs to keep roughly $15 billion in products from the U.S. under either a 25% or 10% tariff. As a result of some exclusions and modifications, MacNaughton said, Canadian officials "will be refreshing that retaliation list," likely within the next week, to maintain dollar-for-dollar retaliation. The retaliation will include "a significant number of agricultural products." Possible new targets for tariffs could be apples, pork, ethanol and wine, he said. Once a list goes out, there will be up to 45 days of consultations to see which products would have the biggest impact on the U.S. and least impact on Canadians. "There are a variety of agricultural products we would look at and see to what degree they would impact Canadian producers and consumers," MacNaughton said. "But I would think it would be a fairly long list." He added, "I can't imagine we wouldn't at least put those kinds of products on consultation." The Canadian tariffs are in response to "Section 232" tariffs placed on steel and aluminum imports by the U.S. last year. The Trump administration maintains the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are needed for national security reasons, but the tariffs also helped force Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has become the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA still needs ratification by all three countries to go into effect. "On balance, I think the USMCA is a good deal," MacNaughton said, adding Canadians want to remain a strong partner with the U.S. MacNaughton added that President Donald Trump has a new trade deal "which he indicates is the best trade agreement ever negotiated," so the need for 232 tariffs should presumably be gone. "That is an important condition for us moving ahead." Canada's government is committed to passing the USMCA, but MacNaughton said the 232 tariffs on Canada and Mexico must be removed for the Canadian government to move the USMCA through its parliament. At the moment, MacNaughton said, there are no talks between the countries about dropping the Section 232 tariffs, only a "restating of positions." Canadian officials argue the 232 tariffs are unjustified and illegal. Some Trump administration officials have talked about setting steel and aluminum quotas for Canada and Mexico, which MacNaughton said would translate into distorting trade. Under exclusions the U.S. has given already, China has more than 20 times the exclusions Canada was granted by the U.S. "When the stated purpose of these tariffs was to curb overproduction by countries like China, I find it difficult to understand why it is being imposed on Canada," MacNaughton said. For 15 straight years, the U.S. had a surplus with Canada on imports-exports of steel products. MacNaughton noted, with a little irony, that the U.S. trade surplus ended last year when U.S. exports to Canada fell by $800 million. "So my question is, how's that program working for you so far?" In terms of aluminum, MacNaughton said, at peak capacity, the U.S. aluminum industry can only produce about 25% of its aluminum needs. The question then becomes where does the U.S. want to get its aluminum? "If you put quotas on Canada, it necessitates that imports will come from other places like Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and how does that enhance U.S. national security?" the ambassador said. "So we think steel and aluminum quotas make no sense." Canada is facing some time constraints on the USMCA, MacNaughton noted. The Canadian Parliament adjourns June 15 to campaign and will not reconvene until after elections in October. MacNaughton said it's not a good idea to go into the election with the USMCA hanging out there unratified because it would stir the political pot. "If this is unresolved, if the 232 tariffs are still in place, then the discussion about our relationship with the United States of America will be a central part of the campaign, and it won't be a really positive discussion, I think," he said. The ambassador added that it's important for the U.S. and Canada to maintain their geopolitical alliance because Russia is considering establishing military bases in the Arctic. China also continues to bring political pressure against Canada over the arrest of a Huawei executive by Canadian officials at the request of the U.S. China has arrested at least two Canadians as spies and also cut off imports of Canadian canola and petroleum. MacNaughton said it's important during the U.S.-China talks for U.S. officials to help Canada address these issues, especially the arrests of Canadian citizens. "We face more challenges internationally today than I've ever seen in my life," MacNaughton said. "It's a time when the word 'ally' actually has substantial meaning." While U.S. officials appear reluctant to deal with the tariffs, MacNaughton added U.S. officials are consistently seeking Canada's help with Venezuela as well. "It is that kind of thing that is causing a real sort of irritation and befuddlement as to why?" MacNaughton said. "If our two countries can't get along, what does that say to the rest of the world?" Approval of the USMCA in the U.S. Congress hinges partially on Mexico passing new labor laws that coincide with the trade deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., raised that point last week. MacNaughton said it was part of the agreement that Mexico would update its labor laws. "That was part of the negotiations, and I think an important part of it," he said. Outside the tariff argument, critics of the USMCA deal don't think Canada opens up its dairy or poultry markets enough under the new deal. Without an agreement, Canada would keep the Class 6 and Class 7 pricing schemes for milk and maintain the current wheat-grading program that discounts U.S. wheat. Mexico would also maintain substantial wage advantages in automobile manufacturing compared to Canada and the U.S., MacNaughton said. "I don't think there is any question whatsoever that it (USMCA) is an improvement over the status quo," he said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 9, 2019 |


USDA's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report on April 9 remains focused on old-crop estimates and is not likely to tell us much we don't already know. But we'll keep an eye on the numbers all the same. USDA will release its WASDE and Crop Production reports on Tuesday, April 9, at 11 a.m. CDT. CORN After USDA just told us on March 29 that U.S. corn stocks totaled a greater-than-expected 8.605 billion bushels (bb) on March 1, it is almost certain that USDA will increase its estimate of U.S. ending corn stocks for 2018-19. Dow Jones' survey of analysts expects a higher estimate of 2.013 bb, which if true, would be down just slightly from 2.14 bb the previous year, keeping expectations for corn prices similar to what has been seen the past two years. Coming off of Argentina's drought in early 2018, U.S. corn exports got off to a robust start in 2018-19, but the pace has dropped lately, and export commitments are now roughly 300 million bushels (mb) below USDA's estimated pace with five months to go in the season. The latest bearish pressure is coming from the anticipation of larger corn crops in South America and Tuesday's numbers will have something to say about that. Dow Jones' survey expects USDA to increase its estimate of world ending corn stocks, from 308.53 million metric tons (mmt) in March to 312.4 mmt (12.30 bb) in April. Slight crop estimate increases are expected for Brazil and Argentina to 94.7 mmt (3.73 bb) and 46.8 mmt (1.84 bb), respectively. You have probably guessed by now that barring a surprise, USDA's corn estimates are likely to be bearish for corn Tuesday. SOYBEANS Unlike corn, USDA's finding of 2.716 bb of U.S. soybean supplies on March 1 was in line with market expectations, so USDA's new estimates for April probably won't be too different than what we saw in March. Dow Jones' survey expects USDA to peg U.S. ending soybean stocks at a record high 913 mb for 2018-19, up slightly from March's 900 mb. If there is a bearish surprise Tuesday, it may come from a reduction in the export estimate as total export commitments are roughly 170 mb below USDA's estimated pace. As we have mentioned often the past several months, predicting U.S. soybean exports and demand has been difficult this season due to not knowing how trade negotiations with China will go. To date, China's 25% tariff remains a bearish weight on U.S. soybean prices. USDA's estimate of world soybean stocks at the end of August is expected to increase from 107.2 mmt to 108.4 mmt (3.98 bb), which, if correct, is up 9% from a year ago. Estimating world supplies of anything always takes more faith than evidence can justify and we have seen two significant revisions of past data by USDA in the past six months, which remind us these estimates are never etched in stone. Supporting the notion of higher world soybean supplies in 2018-19, Dow Jones' analysts expect Argentina's crop estimate to come in at 55.5 mmt (2.04 bb), up from 37.8 mmt a year ago. Brazil's crop estimate is expected at 116.1 mmt (4.26 bb), down from 120.8 mmt a year ago. Tuesday's new USDA estimates have a chance to be neutral for soybeans, and I hate to keep bringing up a sore topic, but the bigger issue for U.S. soybeans continues to be restoring trade with China. WHEAT Wheat prices have had some (but not many) bullish moments the past several years and it is difficult to remember the last time a WASDE report actually provided a bullish outlook for U.S. prices. It is safe to say that April's WASDE report will not be an exception. 1.591 bb of U.S. wheat stocks on March 1 meant that three quarters of wheat demand in 2018-19 was at its lowest in at least 14 years. With such anemic demand, Dow Jones' survey of analysts expects USDA to increase its estimate of U.S. ending wheat stocks from 1.055 bb in March to 1.076 bb in April. The modest increase shouldn't necessarily result in lower wheat prices at this late point in the season, but it will again confirm long-held bearish views. A sneak preview of USDA's May WASDE report is apt to reveal an early expectation for a larger world wheat crop in 2019-20. In Tuesday's numbers however, USDA's old-crop estimate of world ending wheat stocks is apt to increase only slightly, from 270.5 mmt to 271.1 mmt (9.96 bb), if Dow Jones' average estimate is correct. USDA's April WASDE report is not known for big surprises, but we'll keep a watch all the same.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 9, 2019 |


Bomb Cyclone Take Two Expected This Week Farmers appears set for a familiar weather event this week as forecasters say another bomb cyclone, or similar event, will hit parts of the Great Plains and Midwest. Numerous weather forecasters now say models are showing one to two feet of snow, if not more, in the northern reaches of the Missouri River basin, the same area that flooded in March from a bomb cyclone event. The storm this week overlaps areas hit last month, but the bulk of the predicted heavy snowfall is expected further north, into South Dakota and Minnesota. The so-called cyclone, which presents a unique shape clearly defined on weather maps, is expected to form Wednesday afternoon. The storm creates a swirling air pattern and includes conditions that allow for significant precipitation. However, forecasters say round two should not be as disastrous as the first bomb cyclone in March, as spring seasonal conditions are limiting the potential for storm. Still, the storm signals more flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The National Weather Service last month predicted flooding to last into July. ************************************************************************************* Significant Work Remains in China Trade Talks Significant work remains in trade talks with China, according to a statement from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s office. President Trump has indicated a deal could be reached in the next four weeks, but the two sides offered little details regarding last week’s meetings, according to Reuters. Lighthizer says negotiation team members "will be in continuous contact to resolve outstanding issues." The most recent negotiations included intellectual property, or IP, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases and enforcement. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has previously said the negotiations could conclude with a doubling or tripling of U.S. ag exports to China. U.S. agriculture is impatiently waiting for the results of the talks which stem from the trade war enacted last year between the U.S. and China. The talks are now expected to conclude sometime within the next few months, well beyond the original deadline set by President Trump of March first. However, Trump extended the deadline because the talks were making progress. ************************************************************************************* FAPRI Releases The 2019 U.S. Baseline Outlook Pressure on farm finances appears likely to continue, according to the 2019 U.S. Baseline Outlook from the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. The report finds projected net farm income will increase in 2019 but remains below the 2014-17 average. Longer-term projections suggest little change in real net farm income over the next decade, resulting in continued increases in the farm sector’s debt-to-asset ratio. Projected prices for U.S. soybeans and other products affected by current trade disputes remain below levels that would prevail if foreign tariffs were removed. Marketing-year-average soybean prices are projected to stay below $9.00 per bushel for a second straight year in 2019/2020, and corn prices are estimated to increase from averaging $3.53 in the current marketing year, up to $3.81. Further recovery in wheat prices could be limited by continued large global supplies, while cotton prices could fall in response to increased U.S. production. The estimates were prepared before the March 29 USDA planting intentions report was released, which suggests slightly more acres of corn and fewer acres of wheat and cotton than included in the outlook. ************************************************************************************* USDA Responds to Washington Post Regarding New Swine Slaughter Inspection System The Department of Agriculture in response to a critical report from the Washington Post says the newspaper “deciding to reprint the talking points of special interest groups while claiming the agency declined interview requests.” USDA jabs back in the opening of its response: “The Washington Post says that democracy dies in darkness. If that’s the case, then The Washington Post’s story about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is a solar eclipse.” The Washington Post published a story titled, “Pork industry soon will have more power over meat inspections,” which the pork industry and now USDA have criticized. The story focuses on the proposed New Swine Slaughter Inspection System, first proposed in February after "a 20-year evaluation," according to USDA. Of the many facts disputed in the article, Washington Post reported: "the responsibility for identifying diseased and contaminated pork would be shared with plant employees." However, USDA says under both the proposal and traditional inspection, establishment employees sort market hogs before FSIS inspection. ************************************************************************************* Lawmakers Seek Expanded Rural Broadband Access Lawmakers are seeking funding to expand rural broadband access across rural America and to ensure equal educational and economic opportunities in rural communities. Led by Illinois Republican Rodney Davis and Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a bipartisan letter sent to key House Appropriations Committee members ask them to boost funding for rural broadband internet infrastructure. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, more than 30 percent of Americans in rural areas lack access to fixed terrestrial broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps—compared to only two percent of Americans in urban areas. The Davis and Spanberger-letter calls for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies to provide $550 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program. Additionally, the letter requests $350 million for the rural broadband loan and grant program—an amount authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. This funding would represent an overall increase of $350 million in rural broadband development funding from fiscal year 2019 ************************************************************************************* USDA Invests in Rural Electric Infrastructure and Smart Grid Improvements in 13 States The Department of Agriculture Monday announced $485 million of investment to rural electric systems across 13 states. The funding includes nearly $7.1 million for smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security. The loans, according to acting assistant to the secretary for rural development Joel Baxley, will “enhance rural economic development and help improve the quality of life for people who live and work in rural America.” USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. Topping the list includes South Dakota’s Northern Electric Cooperative, which is receiving a $24.8 million loan to build or improve 360 miles of line, while Missouri’s Central Electric Power Cooperative is receiving a $72 million loan to finance electric distribution and transmission facilities. USDA is providing financing through the Electric Loan Program to improve rural electric infrastructure in Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. These investments will help build or improve 2,635 miles of line.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 9, 2019 |


NRCS announces application period for Conservation Innovation Grants program in Idaho BOISE, Idaho, April 5, 2019 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering grants for innovative ideas for conservation strategies and technologies. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Idaho plans to invest up to $225,000 in the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, funding innovative conservation projects in three focus areas: grazing lands, soil health and management to benefit threatened and endangered species or species of greatest conservation need. Grant proposals are due June 7, 2019. “Conservation Innovation Grants play a critical role in developing and implementing new methods to help our customers conserve natural resources, strengthen their local communities, and improve their bottom lines,” said Curtis Elke, State Conservationist in Boise. “Today's announcement supports our efforts to help producers build economically-strong and resilient farms and ranches by providing producers tools to utilize across their working farmlands.” The NRCS uses CIG to work with partners to accelerate transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches that address some of the nation’s most pressing natural resource concerns. This year, applications for all resource concerns will be considered by Idaho. These include Rangeland, Wildlife, Soil Health and any other categories that relate to NRCS conservation priorities. Special consideration for funding will be given to applications that relate to the following priorities related to Water Quantity and Quality: Irrigation Water Management: This priority will focus on innovative water management systems that enhance a producer’s ability to monitor irrigation needs effectively; manage irrigation practices efficiently; and increase water, energy, and nutrient savings while maintaining high levels of food and fiber production. Innovative irrigation systems should focus on balancing producer needs with conservation benefits Source Water Protection/Precision Agriculture: This priority will focus on innovative processes to protect source water from pollutants and contaminants through proper application of pesticides, herbicides and proper farming practices using precision and other agricultural techniques that can demonstrate their usefulness in the protection of source water. “Every sector of American agriculture has its unique conservation challenges,” Elke said. “CIG enables USDA to help support new, innovative tools and techniques which have helped U.S. agriculture become the powerhouse we see today, leading the world in both production efficiency and conservation delivery.” Potential applicants should review the announcement of program funding available at www.grants.gov offsite link image ,

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 8, 2019 |


No US-China Trade Deal Yet, But Finish Line May Be In Weeks President Donald Trump did not announce a trade deal has been reached with China when he met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House Thursday, but signaled one could be in hand in about four weeks. "We will probably know over the next four weeks. It is looking very good," Trump said. "We have negotiated out some of the toughest — really, the tougher points. But we have some ways to go and I think we have a very good chance of getting there." Trump also mentioned the four-week period in remarks before meeting with Liu, a figure that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed. Trump indicated it could take another two weeks to finalize text once an agreement is reached. As for a potential summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said, "If we have a deal, there will be a summit." Xinhua reported that Xi sent a message to Trump talking about substantial progress having been made. Indications are the drafts of the deal currently would give China until 2025 to meet some commitments – primarily purchases of US commodities and opening the ability of U.S. companies to buy Chinese firms. Other provisions in the pact reportedly would have a 2029 deadline. Lighthizer made clear there are still issues remaining. There are “major, major issues left,” he said. “We are certainly making more progress than we would have thought when we started.” Enforcement issues are among those that remain to be finalized, with China said to still be resisting a U.S. demand that would prevent China from retaliating if the US were to hit China with tariffs in the event they do not live up to terms of the deal. The issue of U.S. tariffs currently in place on Chinese goods also remains a sticking point. Lawmakers Retry Effort to Alter Checkoff Programs Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Cory Booker, D-N.J., have reintroduced their bill to reform the checkoff program, utilized by U.S. commodity organizations to help promote their products and perform research. But the programs have earned a controversial reputation due to errant activities involved by some participating in the program. “Checkoff programs force farmers to pay into a system that sometimes actively works against their interests," said Lee. "On top of that, the boards for these programs have come under fire for a lack of transparency and for misuse of their funds.” The effort was also tried in the 2018 Farm Bill, but was overwhelmingly rejected in the U.S. Senate version of the bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 8, 2019 |


Trump Backs Off Threat to Close Southern Border President Donald Trump backed away from a recent threat to close the southern border with Mexico after widespread opposition. The Washington Post says the president gave Mexico a “one-year ultimatum” to halt the flow of drugs and migrants into the United States. The president told reporters late last week that he would impose a 25 percent tariff on Mexican auto imports, and then would close the southern border if Mexico didn’t make enough progress on drugs and migrants flowing into the U.S. He also didn’t provide a clear path on how his administration will deal with the record upswing in migrants. The president’s announcement comes amid reports that the U.S. Border Patrol was at the breaking point. The threat to close the border took administration aide by surprise. The change in plans was sparked by heavy pushback from both the business and agriculture communities. Members of Congress, as well as White House advisers, warned of potential economic damage from such a drastic move. The Mexican government doesn’t seem concerned. The Mexican Undersecretary for North America simply says, “We are not concerned.” ********************************************************************************************** Democrat Concerns Over USMCA Making Progress Mexican President Obrador pledges to help make sure the nation’s Senate will overhaul labor laws to enforce workplace standards. Politico says that’s a major sticking point for American lawmakers as they look at possibly ratifying President Trump’s signature trade achievement. During a press conference, Obrador said, “We don’t want there to be any excuse to reopen the negotiations for the deal.” The good news is that Mexican officials are optimistic the new laws will be passed soon. However, they’re less sure of the legal time frame needed to implement the changes. Congressional Democrats aren’t sure the current rules in the USMCA agreement are secure enough to enforce labor standards. Many have called for reopening the deal to strengthen that language. That’s an idea that Mexico, Canada, and the Trump Administration all oppose. Vice President Mike Pence says the White House wants Congress to get the deal ratified by this spring. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she won’t bring the pact up for a vote until she sees evidence of the revised Mexican labor laws in effect. Last Thursday, the Speaker said she won’t try to use the trade pact as a bargaining chip to achieve Democratic policy priorities. ********************************************************************************************** Trump Says Trade Talks “Rounding the Turn.” President Donald Trump said last week that trade talks with China “are rounding the turn” and that something “monumental” is coming in the next few weeks for both countries. During an appearance in the Oval Office with both negotiating teams, Trump said, “We have a way to go, but it’s not very far.” China’s top trade negotiator told Trump that “because of your direct involvement, we do have great progress.” An Associated Press report says U.S. and Chinese negotiators dove into their ninth round of negotiations midway through last week. The report says the two countries have made significant progress on some of the more contentious issues in the discussions. For example, China passed a law last month that loosens restrictions on foreign investment, which is designed to prevent Chinese companies from forcing American countries to hand over technology. Beijing is also expected to agree to sharp increases in the number of purchases from America, including agricultural commodities, in order to help reduce the sharp trade deficit America has with China. That trade deficit came in at a record amount of $379 billion last year. ********************************************************************************************** NBB Thanks Representatives for Proposed Biodiesel Tax Extension The National Biodiesel Board is grateful that several representatives in the House introduced legislation that would provide a two-year extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive. The NBB says the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act will provide certainty for 2018 and 2019 to biodiesel producers and their employees. “NBB and its members are grateful to the representatives for their leadership to extend the expired biodiesel tax incentive,” says Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs. “We continue to appreciate the strong bipartisan support in Congress for biodiesel and renewable diesel industry workers.” He says biodiesel companies and their workers are facing a lot of uncertainty in their future because the biodiesel tax incentive has been expired for 15 months. “The economic pressure is building and it’s threatening the future of the industry,” he says. “It’s putting good-paying, blue-collar jobs and production of a low-carbon, domestic fuel at stake. It’s also adding economic pressure to farmers who’ve already been hit hard from both sides by unfavorable weather and trade disputes.” Kovarik adds that this bill will provide the agricultural economy some certainty and relief for 2018 and 2019. ********************************************************************************************** CoBank Says U.S. Protein Demand Uncertain in 2019 Beef, chicken, and pork supplies are expected to continue their expansion from 2018 levels. However, CoBank says domestic and international demand bring a lot more uncertainty this year. A new report from CoBank says overall U.S. animal protein production climbed by 2.5 percent last year. Pork led the way at three percent. Per capita, U.S. protein consumption has grown by nine percent since 2014. This year is expected to test the record set back in 2006, potentially coming in at one percent higher than the current record. However, CoBank says price weakness in chicken and pork reflects what it calls “fatigue” among U.S. consumers, which means supplies are likely to continue to climb even higher. The bank says trade issues remain a wildcard for animal protein markets overseas. Trade negotiations with Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, and Korea could dominate opportunities for U.S. protein producers, especially considering that the talks with China and Japan are currently ongoing. Trade flows with Canada and Mexico are still up in the air and awaiting U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement ratification by all three countries. If it’s not approved by all three participants, that means trade flows with Canada and Mexico would be interrupted. ********************************************************************************************* Study: Biofuels Don’t Raise Food Prices A recent study published in the trade journal Biomass and Bioenergy concludes that there is no evidence of food price increases because of biofuels. There’s also no evidence of other lands converting to agriculture because of biofuel. The Hagstrom Report says the National Wildlife Federation had reached a different conclusion using satellite data. The study was conducted by scientists at the University of Idaho and the Agriculture Department. It was funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as well as the USDA Office of the Chief Economist. The study findings say, “The use of satellite data is prone to error in classifying certain land uses, such as distinguishing between cropland used to grow hay and pasture land for grazing. Although an automated satellite image classification provides a convenient way to quantify land use change, the results could be highly misleading if not carefully verified.” The study was also highlighted in a recent news release from the Renewable Fuels Association.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 8, 2019 |


MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF LIVESTOCK CONDUCTING TUBERCULOSIS INVESTIGATIONS Helena, Mont. - The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) is conducting cattle testing related to the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in animals during routine inspection conducted at out-of-state slaughter establishments. These investigations, involving several states, stem from the detection of TB in a steer at slaughter in June of 2018, a second unrelated steer found in December of 2018, and a cow in March of 2019. The purpose of the traceback investigations is to determine where an animal was infected, if possible, and to identify other potentially infected or exposed animals. Tuberculosis testing is required in a herd when a link has been established between the herd and a positive animal through movement and/or sale records. At this time, no infected herds have been confirmed within Montana. Testing is expected to continue through the summer and into early fall of 2019. “Slaughter surveillance is a critical component of our national TB surveillance program,” said State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski. “Subsequent follow-up herd testing is necessary to ensure we find and eliminate any potential pockets of disease to protect Montana’s livestock producers.” Bovine TB is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium bovis. The disease causes granulomatous lesions inside the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, spleen, and skin of affected animals. The primary route of spread is aerosol transmission to other animals in close contact. The bacteria is also capable of infecting wildlife, such as deer, and people. The disease has an incubation period that can range from months to years and infected animals may show no clinical signs until later stages of infection, meaning healthy appearing cattle may be infected with the bacteria. Although TB is a zoonotic disease capable of infecting people, it is not a food safety threat, thanks to a robust meat inspection program and the pasteurization of milk for retail sale. The mission of the MDOL is to control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals. For more information on the department, visit www.liv.mt.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 8, 2019 |


NRCS Idaho releases April 2019 Water Supply Outlook Report BOISE, ID, April 5, 2019 – The Natural Resources Conservation Service in Idaho has released the April Water Supply Outlook Report for the 2019 water year. While March turned out to be a drier than normal month, thanks to February’s prodigious storms all indicators are that there will be adequate water for users throughout Idaho. Looking at precipitation, the lowest percentages were a third of average in northern Idaho. The Clearwater basin did slightly better at 40% of normal. Moving south, amounts increased, but only to 50 to 80% of average across central and southern Idaho. Greater precipitation amounts that were closer to near normal fell in Oakley and Bear River basins because the primary March storm track was across the Great Basin. South of the Owyhee, Bruneau, Salmon Falls and Goose headwaters in Nevada and Utah, March precipitation totals reached 150 to 200% of average. “Streamflow forecasts decreased slightly from March 1 because of the below normal March precipitation but still mirror the snowpack, increasing as you move from northern Idaho to southern Idaho,” said Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist with the Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service. As the snow accumulation season winds down, reservoir operators have a good feel for how much snow is in the mountains to meet and exceed this year’s water supplies. Since enough snow has fallen in the mountains to ensure adequate irrigation supplies this season, many of the farmers’ and irrigators’ decisions have already been made. Recreationists should be able to enjoy spring skiing until the snowmelt season fully kicks in; and early season river runners will also want to keep an eye on the Owyhee River. For information on specific basins, streams, and reservoirs, please view the full report online at April Water Supply Outlook Report.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 8, 2019 |


USDA Announces Sign-Up Period for Updated Conservation Stewardship Program BOZEMAN, Mont., April 5, 2019 – The next deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2019 is May 10, 2019. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $700 million for new enrollments and contract extensions in fiscal year 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm or ranch to the next level. “CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Tom Watson, NRCS state conservationist in Montana. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.” While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by May 10, 2019, to ensure their applications are considered for 2019 funding. Changes to the Program The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes NRCS to accept new CSP enrollments from now until 2023, and it makes some important improvements to the program. These updates include: NRCS now enrolls eligible, high ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres. For fiscal year 2019, NRCS can spend up to $700 million in the program, which covers part of the cost for producers implementing new conservation activities and maintaining their existing activities. Higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations. CSP now provides specific support for organic and for transitioning to organic production activities and a special grassland conservation initiative for certain producers who have maintained cropland base acres. About the Program CSP is offered in Montana through continuous sign-ups. The program provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe. More Information For additional information about CSP, contact your local USDA service center.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 5, 2019 |


CoBank: Three Drivers Impacting Farm Supply Outlook A new report from CoBank shows three threats to the agriculture supply sector for 2019. Poor weather last fall and so far this spring have combined with stressed farm financials to pressure ag retailer margins and impact farmer decisions that could reduce sales volumes. Increased costs in the form of operating expenses for ag retailers, including labor, equipment and other expenses, will potentially rise due to a compressed spring planting season. The report says that as commodity prices have declined, farmers are increasingly price shopping and looking to cut costs. Variable costs like fertilizer, seed and crop protection products are key targets. Delayed farmer decisions can also be linked to weak farm financials. The report says stressed farm financials combined with a decrease in prepays, ag retailers are facing greater inventory risk and more difficult inventory decisions. Accounts receivable risk for ag retailers will likely increase as cash farm income dropped nearly ten percent in 2018. ************************************************************************************* Report Details Risks of U.S. Hemp Industry The U.S. hemp industry is poised for growth, but there are serious financial, regulatory and agronomic risks that farmers must understand. A report by Rabo AgriFinance says the market is “highly fragmented,” and there is no reliable source for pricing and production data. The report notes that the 2018 Farm Bill set off a process to completely overhaul hemp industry regulations, including the legalization of hemp and hemp-derived products. USDA plans to release its new rules in the fall, but new regulations won't take effect until the 2020 planting season, and hemp production is not legal in all 50 states. The report says hemp will not be treated like other commodities. Growing hemp requires a lot of paperwork and careful record keeping, and regulatory infractions could result in the seizure and destruction of a hemp crop. Finally, the report says the U.S. may soon face an oversupply of hemp grown for CBD extraction, which could result in major losses for farmers once prices adjust. ************************************************************************************* Missouri River Runoff Breaks 1952 Record March runoff in the upper Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, was a record 11.0 million-acre feet, surpassing the previous record of 7.3 million-acre feet set in 1952. The average March upper basin runoff is 2.9 million-acre feet, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. Division Chief John Remus says the record high runoff in March was caused by 2-4 inches of rain falling on heavy plains snowpack causing the snowpack to rapidly melt on frozen, saturated soils. Pool levels have increased in flood control reservoirs, capturing some of the runoff. The Corps plans to increase Gavins Point releases to 55,000 cubic feet per second by early next week. Gavins Point releases will be above average for the next several months, and possibly as late as November. Typical releases during the spring season are between 20,000 and 30,000 cubic feet per second. The releases increase anxiety along the Missouri River as the March flooding event left more than 50 levee’s breached between Kansas City, Missouri, and Council Bluffs, Iowa, leaving vast areas of farmland without flood protection. ************************************************************************************* Iowa Flood Losses Estimated at $2 Billion The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Says Iowa may see more than $2 billion in damages from recent flooding in the state. The organization says damages from the Missouri River are not complete and the Mississippi River’s anticipated flooding has yet to hit, which will make this a challenging year for Iowa farmers. Iowa Farm Bureau senior economist Sam Funk says the damages will continue to culminate long after the floodwaters recede. Compared to the 2011 flood that destroyed 127,00 acres of crops, Funk says “this flood isn't just bigger; the effects will last longer." Flooding may peak again, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, when snow melts make their way down from neighboring northern states and heavy spring rains arrive. Many farmers in the flooded areas won't plant a crop this season. And, like in Nebraska, Iowa livestock farmers were challenged by floodwaters directly impacting animals or in accessing roads needed to care for livestock or transport them to market. ************************************************************************************* USDA to Release Census of Agriculture The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will release the 2017 Census of Agriculture results on Thursday, April 11, at noon ET. The full Census report will include millions of data points, including number of farms, land in farms, total value of production, demographics, and more at the national, state, and county levels. The report, along with a number of related publications, will be available on the NASS website at www.nass.usda.gov. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the date “will help inform decisions about ag education, research, farm programs, rural development, and much more over the next several years.” The 2017 Census report will include new information on military service, food marketing practices, and on-farm decision-making. USDA says these additions help better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others involved in running a farm enterprise. The first Census of Agriculture was conducted in 1840 in conjunction with the decennial Census. ************************************************************************************* Grassley, Merkley, Push for Robust Wind Energy Funding Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Jeff Merkley of Oregon are leading a bipartisan push for “robust” wind energy funding in the 2020 funding bills. Grassley, a Republican, and Merkley, a Democrat, call the funding necessary to “continue supporting rural communities, advance domestic energy independence, and ensure America remains a leader in wind energy technology.” Their comments were sent in a letter to the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee. The senators noted that the wind industry employs more than 100,000 Americans and the wind turbine technician is America’s second-fastest growing job. The wind industry also employs veterans at a rate that is 50 percent higher than the national average. Grassley and Merkley were joined on the letter by a bipartisan group of 17 senators. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates distributed wind could be deployed at an additional 49 million sites in the U.S. alone. Approximately 99 percent of wind turbines are located in rural communities, and in 2018, winds turbines produced $289 million in annual land lease payments in the United States.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 4, 2019 |


H2-A Reform Needed But Solution Elusive Reform of the H2-A program that grants temporary visas for farm workers is in dire need of reform, growers and lawmakers agree. But that appears to be where the unified view ends as there has yet to be a solution to address shortcomings in the program that all sides can support. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship held a hearing Wednesday, featuring testimony from several stakeholders in the issue. Lawmakers agreed the program is difficult for producers to work with and has resulted in labor shortages. Growers testifying indicated the program can impact their operations, especially in situations where crop harvest has to take place within a limited amount of time. The difficulties in obtaining workers through the program has also led to some producers turning to undocumented workers on their operations, according to the panel's Ranking Member Ken Buck, R.-Colo. Panel Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said getting the program fixed is also a matter of national security and raises the need for imports of certain products which can up the risk for contamination and increase costs for consumers. Further, growers at the hearing noted that those workers coming in via the H2-A program are not taking jobs from U.S. citizens as these are jobs that Americans are not competing for. But while the hearing revealed a unanimous view of change needed, it also underscored that there is no unified solution that lawmakers and stakeholders can both get behind. WTO Sees 2019 Trade Growth Falling Short of 2018 Mark The World Trade Organization (WTO) said global trade shrank by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the trade body now expects growth in 2019 will be 2.6%. World trade expanded by 3% in 2018 despite the disappointing end to the year. Roberto Azevêdo, WTO director-general, said the dim outlook is not surprising given rising trade tensions and tariffs. Separately, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde labeled the global economic outlook “precarious.” Washington Insider: Economic Fallout From Threatened Border Closing President Donald Trump's threat to close the southern border is stimulating widespread analysis as well as concern. Some of the estimates of potential impacts are very large. For example, Bloomberg cites reports that U.S. auto production would grind to a halt in a week if the border were shut. Bloomberg also says that while pork producers and dairy farmers would be shut out of their largest export market, grocery shoppers also would quickly notice shortages of avocados, tomatoes and other produce along with steep price increases as supplies plummet. Bloomberg notes that the administration has been short on details and that even inside the White House aides are unsure how — or even if — the threat will be implemented. But any move that would shut down or hinder the $1.7 billion in daily cross-border trade is seen as having far-reaching consequences across the U.S. economy. Amid warnings from Republican allies and his advisers, Bloomberg says the president on Tuesday “dialed back” somewhat from last week’s “threat by tweet” to shut the border. Trump also said that the U.S. could “close large sections of the border, maybe not all of it,” but emphasized the idea that a border action isn’t off the table. “Let me just give you a little secret: security is more important to me than trade,” the president said at the White House. “I’m totally prepared to do it. We’re going to see what happens over the next few days.” Trade experts and analysts quickly moved to describe ways that a border closing would reverberate through the U.S. economy with its closely integrated supply chains. A closure would hit the auto industry hard and damage farmers already reeling from the impact of the trade war with China. Avocado prices, a product being used by the urban press as an example of an imported consumer item familiar to many, are already reported to have “spiked,” Bloomberg said. “You can’t build an auto without all the parts,” said Kristin Dziczek, a vice president of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, told the press. “Within a shift or two we would start to see some parts shortages and some of those parts are so mission critical we would see the entire industry shut down within a week or so.” A typical vehicle is assembled from 30,000 parts and Mexico is the largest source of foreign components for U.S. manufacturers, who have geared their production to lean inventories and just-in-time delivery. Seats, for example, often go back and forth across the border several times as they are produced in stages, said Charlie Chesbrough, a senior economist with Cox Automotive Inc., an Atlanta-based research and marketing company. Late Tuesday, economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration was considering ways to limit damage. But, for American farmers and grocery shoppers, a border closing “would be disruptive really quickly,” said Veronica Nigh, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation. Mexico supplies more than 60% of all fresh produce sold in the U.S. during the winter and early spring, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, a trade association that represents importers and distributors of Mexican produce. American shoppers would see immediate price surges and then virtual disappearance from supermarkets of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, squash, eggplant, green beans, mangoes, melons, berries and chili peppers, Jungmeyer said. Mexico also is the third-largest export market for all U.S. ag and the largest for corn, pork and dairy products, according to the U.S. trade representative. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expressed concern recently that a border shutdown would hurt U.S. Farmers. “If we lose the market, it would be catastrophic,” said Jim Monroe, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council. “It could not come at a worse time. We’ve already seen a significant drop in producer profitability because of tariff disputes.” Tom Vilsack, a former U.S. agriculture secretary who is now president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, said in a statement that closing the border “would be a gut punch that could set the industry back by a decade or two." “There is not a ready alternative market for the millions of gallons of milk that are converted into the thousands of tons of dairy ingredients and cheese we ship to Mexico,” Vilsack said. Still, Trump’s threat and the way he made it caused consternation among Republicans in Congress and drew derision from Democrats. “Closing down the border would have a potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country, and we would hope he would not be doing that,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaking at an event in Washington Tuesday, dismissed Trump’s threat to shut down the border as “an applause line, not an idea.” Fights over the border, immigration and related concerns seem to be baked into this year’s political confrontations, with growing economic implications across the economy and should be watched closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 4, 2019 |


Leaders in Congress Warn Against Border Closing Leaders of the House and Senate are warning against any border shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi agreed this week that closing the southern U.S. border to stop migrants from entering the U.S. is a bad idea that would backfire on the U.S. economy, according to Politico. Trump is vowing to close the border, despite the major trade ramifications such a move would make, saying “security is most important.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls the potential move “incredibly destructive.” The move would halt trade of agricultural goods and lead to a shutdown of the U.S. auto manufacturing industry within days, according to the Center for Automotive Research. Earlier this week, the National Pork Producers Council warned the pork industry “cannot afford a total loss of the Mexican market.” Mexico accounted for more than 20 percent of total U.S. pork exports last year. A border closure would also halt the movement of legal migrant workers who tend to agricultural operations near the border. ************************************************************************************* Ag Economy Barometer Drifts Lower Farmers are expressing more concerns regarding the future as the monthly Ag Economy Barometer drifts lower. Released this week, the March survey fell to 133 down from 136 a month earlier. Organizers say increasing concerns about future economic conditions drove the barometer lower as the Index of Future Expectations declined to 139 in March compared to an index value of 145 in February. The current conditions measure was unchanged compared to February at 120. The Barometer surveys 400 agricultural producers monthly. A rating below 100 is negative, while a rating above 100 indicates positive sentiment regarding the agriculture industry. Producers expressed more concern regarding farmland values, as 25 percent of farmers surveyed expect farmland values to drift lower over the next 12 months. Survey results from January and March 2019 suggest that five to as much as seven percent of U.S. farms are suffering from some financial stress, using the need to carryover unpaid operating debt as an indicator of financial stress. ************************************************************************************* USDA Launches New Farmers.gov Features The Department of Agriculture says changes to Farmers.gov will help producers manage their farm loans and navigate the application process for H-2A visas. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the changes Wednesday. Focused on education and smaller owner-operators, the farmers.gov H-2A Phase I release includes an H-2A Visa Program page and interactive checklist tool, with application requirements, fees, forms, and a timeline built around a farmer’s hiring needs. Over the next several months, USDA will collaborate with the Department of Labor on Phase II – a streamlined H-2A Visa Program application form, regulations, and digital application process. For farm loan management, the self-service website now enables producers to login to view loan information, history and payments. Producers can access the “My Financial Information” feature by desktop computer, tablet or phone. Secretary Perdue launched Farmers.gov in 2018 as a portal to help farmers find the right loan programs for their business and submit loan documents to their service center. ************************************************************************************* Sen. Durbin Meets with NCGA, Offers Continued Support for E15 Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois reaffirmed his support for year-round E15 sales this week. In a meeting with National Corn Growers Association CEO Jon Doggett, Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said he would continue to push the EPA to not delay in allowing E15 to be sold year-round. He called the policy change good for the environment and good for farmers facing financial headwinds. In October, President Trump committed the EPA to lift summer restrictions on ethanol blends up to E15. EPA must issue the rule by June 1, 2019, to ensure that E15 can be sold at retailers this summer. In the last Congress, Durbin co-sponsored the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, a bill that would allow the sale of E15 year-round. During the meeting, Doggett and Durbin also discussed the importance of trade with Mexico and Canada, soil health efforts, and NCGA’s recent partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund to help farmers achieve economic benefits from conservation and climate practices. ************************************************************************************* Airline Passenger Brings Product with ASF To Japan Japan has detected African swine fever in a sausage an airline passenger from China brought to the country. Japan has in the past detected genes of the African swine fever virus in food brought from overseas, but never before has the virus been confirmed as being at an infectious stage, according to meat industry publication Meatingplace. The finding has prompted Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen measures against illegal imports of livestock products. The finding also serves as a reminder of the need for increased detection efforts at airports and other ports of entry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently intercepted a shipment that included illegal pork from China. However, U.S. policy dictates that the prohibited products must be destroyed, and because of that, the U.S. did not test the pork for African swine fever. USDA does not allow importation of pigs or fresh pork products to the U.S. from regions of the world where ASF outbreaks have or are occurring. ************************************************************************************* Farmers for Free Trade Launches RV Tour Farmers for Free Trade Wednesday announced the Motorcade for Trade tour. The RV tour will cover 11 states and 3,500 miles across the country in support of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The first two-week leg of the tour, which will take place over the two-week April Congressional recess, will include stops across the Midwest at family farms, coffee shops, ag equipment dealers, small businesses, and other locations. Events along the tour will highlight American farmer’s reliance on trade with Canada and Mexico which supports millions of jobs and over $40 billion in American exports each year. Several stops will include meetings with members of Congress who will consider the USMCA agreement. Farmers for Free Trade co-founder Brian Kuehl called the tour the “first step” in educating at the grassroots level about what USMCA is, and its importance to rural America. Tour stops and other information about the tour is online at www.farmersforfreetrade.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 4, 2019 |


Below normal mountain precipitation in Montana causes snowpack declines statewide BOZEMAN, Mont., April.4, 2019 – Major weather pattern changes in March marked a return to closer to seasonal temperatures during the latter half of the month for Montana, a welcome change after a brutally cold February. It was also a dramatic change from the well above average February precipitation across the state to well below average for precipitation totals at mountain and valley locations. According to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service snow survey data, all mountain locations experienced well below normal snowfall for the month. “Many mountain SNOTEL sites received record-low March monthly precipitation totals, and others were second lowest on record,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist. Some river basins were able to keep snowpack totals at near or above average on April 1. Snowpack percentages in the mountains supplying river basins in the central part of the state are near normal, while southern basins reporting above normal totals on April 1. “February was such a big month for snowfall in the central and southern basins that even though they experienced a record dry March, snowpack remains near or above normal for this date,” Zukiewicz said. “It may have saved winter and our spring and summer runoff.” He cautioned that not all river basins have been so lucky this winter. “There are areas of concern in the state,” Zukiewicz said. “Snowpack in the northern mountain ranges remains below normal for April 1 and below normal March snowfall certainly didn’t help.” River basins west of the Divide are typically frontloaded with snowfall and precipitation from November through March, while basins east of the Divide typically experience their largest monthly precipitation totals from March through June. “That means that the time for recovery in snowpack totals before runoff begins in these areas is running out as we progress further into spring, especially in northern basins west of the Divide,” Zukiewicz said. “While it’s still not impossible, it is less likely.” April 1 snowpack totals give more clear insight into the snowmelt component of runoff across the state, and streamflow forecasts issued by the NRCS for the April 1 - July 31 period reflect the variation in snowpack and precipitation across the state this year. Forecasts for river basins in the northern half of the state indicate below average streamflow volumes this spring and summer, while central and southern river basins have forecasts that are near to above average. Spring mountain snowfall and valley precipitation plays an important role in the runoff for any given year, and this year will be no different. “Snowpack across the state typically peaks during the month of April, meaning the next month will give us an idea of the total volume of water stored in the mountain snowpack ‘reservoir,’” Zukiewicz said. “That will tell us a lot about what we can expect relative to spring and summer runoff.” Long-range forecasts issued by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center indicate increased chances of above average temperatures across the western half of the state for April – June and increased possibility of precipitation across the southern half of the state. “If this winter has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected,” Zukiewicz said. “We’ll wait and see what April delivers.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 3, 2019 |


CREDIT CONDITION Dallas Tonsager, chairman and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration, said agriculture faces stiff headwinds from lower commodity prices, falling net-farm incomes and trade concerns. There are a number of factors supporting the overall good condition of Farm Credit Services. That includes stable earnings, a strong capital base and reliable access to debt capital markets, he said. As of Sept. 30, 2018, FCS gross loans totaled $263.6 billion, an increase of $12.5 billion or 5% from Sept. 30, 2017, Tonsager said. Real estate mortgage lending was up $5.7 billion or 4.8% as demand for cropland continued in 2018. Overall, real estate mortgage loans represent almost 47% of the system's loan portfolio. Production and intermediate-term lending increased by $1.4 billion or 2.7% from the year before, Tonsager said, and agribusiness lending for processing and marketing increased by $2.7 billion or 12.8%. "The system also continues to benefit from a strong capital base, which enhances its risk-bearing capacity at a time when system borrowers in certain agricultural sectors face increasing financial stress," he said.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 3, 2019 |


Dairy Group Warns Against Border Closure U.S. ag lobbyists are out in force with warnings for President Donald Trump not to close the southern border, with U.S. dairy groups leading the charge. The U.S. Dairy Export Council warned a southern border closure would add to the industry’s economic slump caused by retaliatory duties imposed after Trump slapped tariffs on trading partners including China and the European Union. Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. dairy, importing nearly $1.4 billion worth of dairy products in 2018. “Dairy exporters already are suffering from diminished access to export markets due to high tariffs and lack of progress on U.S. trade agreements,” Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the group, said in a statement. “Closing the U.S. southern border to Mexico would be a gut punch that could set the industry back by a decade or two." Mexico is the largest customer of U.S. milk powder, cheese and butterfat, according to the dairy council. R-CALF Asks Justice to Prevent National Beef from Buying Iowa Premium R-CALF USA has called on the U.S. Department of Justice to block the proposed acquisition of Iowa Premium by National Beef, a division of Brazil’s Marfrig. The group made a formal request to Attorney General William Barr this week, arguing that the deal will substantially reduce competition for fed cattle regionally as well as nationally, harming independent U.S. cattle producers. The group says the takeover of Iowa Premium will also likely substantially reduce competition for boxed beef, which will harm American consumers. R-CALF contends National Beef is a member of the “Big 4” beef packers, calling those packers a "cartel" due to their control of cattle supplies in the U.S. The group claims that National Beef, Tyson and Cargill all limit access to the marketplace unless producers become certified under the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program. Washington Insider: Spending Fights Seen as New Source of Gloom There is a great deal of anxiety in Washington these days, but POLITICO is reporting this week that coming spending battles will be central. It sees a “looming battle” between President Trump and Democrats over spending and the debt limit that could “make the 35-day government shutdown look like a blip.” A series of budget deadlines converge in the coming months, POLITICO says that could leave Washington on the precipice of another shutdown, facing $100 billion in automatic spending cuts and a full-scale credit crisis. It reports that “lawmakers are openly worried about stumbling over the edge.” Some top Democrats have begun quietly pushing for a grand bargain to simultaneously raise the debt ceiling and Congress’ stiff budget caps—avoiding market turmoil and staving off harsh cuts to domestic and defense programs, according to multiple lawmakers and aides. At the same time, the White House – focused on the President’s reelection bid – is resisting talk of another massive deal that could cost as much as $350 billion over two years. Administration officials, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are instead pushing for a “clean” debt ceiling hike that extends the federal borrowing limit without making any other policy changes. These battles will come to a boil this fall — around the same time that Congress must pass its annual funding bills, timing that is guaranteed to dredge up the same standoffs between President Trump and Democrats that led to the earlier shutdown. By September, lawmakers could be faced with a fiscal cliff rivaling that of 2011, when another divided government nearly defaulted on its debt. “This is the Congress of the United States. Of course, there will be a cliff,” said a senior Republican lawmaker involved with the budget negotiations. The conflict is still at arm’s length for most of Washington, POLITICO thinks. Talks between House and Senate leaders have only just begun and while there's some hope that a deal could come together as soon as this spring, neither party has finalized its strategy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are confident they can avert a scenario in which the U.S. government fails to pay its bills. Also, Senate Republicans, eager to defend their majority in 2020, will be in no mood for any shenanigans surrounding the debt limit. Officials in both parties say they’re committed to reaching a deal to avoid sequestration and lift the budget caps. Without a bipartisan agreement, the Pentagon would be forced to slash $71 billion from the next fiscal year’s budget, for example, with an additional $55 billion cut from domestic programs. The White House, however, isn’t on board and is angry about accepting a previous deal to boost spending. One of the key questions for Democrats and Republicans is whether to try to strike a deal that would lift the debt ceiling and budget caps at the same time. Entangling the two — in theory — could offer enough incentive for both parties to hold their noses and sign. Other headwinds to a deal this fall, some lawmakers say, is the president’s circle of advisers including, especially, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who as a congressman threatened to refuse to raise the debt limit in 2011 until then-President Barack Obama agreed to deep spending cuts. Publicly and privately, the White House has said it wants a no-drama debt ceiling lift. However, that would mean none of the spending cuts that Republicans have demanded in past years. In addition, this time Democrats see the debt limit as a potential pressure point to persuade Trump to agree to another massive budget agreement. Meanwhile, another little-known math problem could severely complicate Congress’ ability to produce a two-year deal: the $350 billion budget boost being discussed could actually cost more than $2 trillion on paper, POLITICO says. Because lawmakers would be technically phasing out the 10-year Budget Control Act sequester, its cost would not only include the two years' worth of spending hikes, it would also account for many years of future projected spending increases, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars that the government had "saved" during the sequester. The final cost, as much as $2 trillion over a decade, according to a source familiar with the process, would even exceed the cost of the GOP tax law. The many fights over economics and trade certainly will be controversial and extended and should be watched closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 3, 2019 |


Disaster Aid Comes Up Short in the Senate The Senate rejected disaster-relief proposals from both Democrats and Republicans on Monday. Politico says the legislation’s fate is now uncertain after the House passed a $14.2 billion aid package in January. Communities hit hard by disasters have waited months for Congress to approve additional federal aid. States from the Southeast all the way to California have been battered by hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, and now floods in the Midwest and Plains states. The $13.5 billion Senate aid package included $3 billion for farm disaster aid, as well as $150 million to rebuild rural facilities. Republicans criticized Democratic presidential candidates in the Senate, many of whom recently campaigned in Iowa, for voting against the GOP plan. It included assistance for Midwestern states recovering from catastrophic flooding last month. Democrats blame Republicans because the GOP took out aid money for Puerto Rico that was included in the House plan. Lawmakers planned to introduce new legislation as early as Tuesday that would provide billions of dollars in new disaster funds for farm-belt states that were hit by the recent flooding. ********************************************************************************************** Trump Threatens to Close Mexican Border; Ag Groups Concerned President Trump wrote a series of Tweets on Friday that caught agriculture’s attention. The Hill Dot Com says he threatened to close the southern border unless Mexico took steps to stop the illegal border crossings. The tweets come as the administration continues to warn of a crisis at the border. Trump blames both Democrats and Mexico for the problem, even accusing Mexico of making “a fortune” from the U.S. that is greater than the cost of protecting the border. In the meantime, both the business and ag communities are pushing back against the threat. The president hasn’t said yet how it would actually work, but business groups are preparing for the worst. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the threat alone “creates a degree of economic uncertainty that could potentially wipe out the administration’s other economic policies.” Dairy producers point out that Mexico remains the largest export market for U.S. milk products. Mexico accounted for $1.4 billion in dairy exports last year. Dairy Export Council President Tom Vilsack says, “Closing the southern U.S. border to Mexico would be a gut punch that could set the industry back by a decade or two.” The move would also hurt American consumers at the grocery store because nearly half of the U.S. vegetable imports and 40 percent of fruit imports come from Mexico. ********************************************************************************************** China Buys More Soybeans Ahead of Negotiations Monday was the second-straight day that USDA announced China had purchased U.S. soybeans. An Agri-Pulse report says that may be a good sign as U.S. and China trade negotiations are set to resume in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The USDA says that China purchased 828,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans for delivery during the 2018-2019 marketing year. Last Friday, USDA made a similar announcement as China purchased 816,000 metric tons. However, soybeans aren’t the only commodities that China has purchased in spite of the ongoing trade war. Just over a week ago, China bought 300,000 metric tons of U.S. corn, which drew praise from U.S. Grains Council President Tom Sleight (Slate). “The corn purchase is very welcome news for U.S. agriculture,” Sleight says, “and we see it as a positive sign for the U.S. and China relationship as the intense negotiations are continuing.” On the trade policy front, a House Small Business Subcommittee held a hearing on Tuesday that looked at the impact of Trump’s trade policy on agriculture and labor. ********************************************************************************************** Corn-Ethanol Greenhouse Gas Emissions Lower Than Standard Gasoline A new study released this week from the USDA shows that greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol are 39 percent lower than regular gasoline. The study also shows that when ethanol is refined at natural gas-powered refineries, the greenhouse gas emissions are even lower, coming in at 43 percent less than gasoline. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the new findings provide even further evidence that biofuels from America’s heartland reduce greenhouse gases even more than first thought. “It also shows our farmers and ethanol plants continue to become more efficient and effective,” Perdue says. “Expanding the sale of E-15 year-round will provide consumers with more choices when they fill up at the pump, including environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions.” Perdue also says he appreciates Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler moving quickly to finalize the E-15 rule before the start of the summer driving season. The study was published in the trade journal Biofuels and it supports findings of other research that ethanol has a significantly better greenhouse gas profile than previously thought. ********************************************************************************************** Meet Chuck, the Virtual Beef Assistant The beef industry is going high-tech when it comes to promoting its products. The “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” brand is launching what it calls a “beef virtual assistant.” Chuck Knows Beef is powered by Google artificial intelligence and brings together a rancher’s knowledge, a chef’s expertise, and the humor of the average dad into kitchens across the country. The new virtual go-to expert on beef can be found at Chuck Knows Beef Dot Com. Customers can also access Chuck by enabling Chuck Knows Beef with Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant Devices. Chuck will provide instant access to recipes, cuts, nutrition information, cooking tips, and more. Consumers can ask questions like, “What should I cook tonight?; what’s a strip steak?; or at what temperature is a steak well-done?” Chuck can also help shoppers by texting recipe shopping lists to consumers who are out shopping for beef. The new virtual assistant if funded by dollars from farmers and ranchers through the National Beef Checkoff. The goal is to help shoppers feel more confident when approaching the meat case, as well as shopping for and cooking beef for their families. ********************************************************************************************* Groups Unite to Protect Farm Bill Conservation Funding Many of the nation’s leading farm, conservation, and wildlife groups worked together to protect Conservation Title Funding in the 2018 Farm Bill. Now, more than 140 of those groups are working together again to protect those hard-fought conservation funds and programs in the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Process. Groups like the National Farmers Union, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, National Association of Conservation Districts, and many others delivered a letter to appropriators asking them to respect the funding decisions made in the 2018 Farm Bil. They’re also asking appropriators to reject any proposed cuts to farm bill conservation funding through the appropriations process. Farm bill conservation programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and many others all play a vital role in helping farmers keep their operations sustainable and profitable for generations. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says, “As America’s farmers and ranchers endure significant environmental and economic challenges, it’s as important as ever that we maintain funding for voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 3, 2019 |


Ranchers Promote Benefits of Grazing at Public Lands Council Legislative Conference WASHINGTON (April 2, 2019) – Federal lands ranchers from across the West attended the 2019 Public Lands Council (PLC) Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. The event, which wrapped up Tuesday afternoon, was a platform for official association business and featured updates from congressional and agency officials. The 2019 Legislative Conference featured speakers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior as well as elected officials such as Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID-01) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY-At Large). “The challenges cattle and sheep producers face while operating on federal lands are vastly different than that of traditional operations,” said Ethan Lane, PLC Executive Director. “This week provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of grazing to individuals we work with in Washington – from our success as conservation partners to our role in fire prevention, the industry is instrumental in federal land management.” Attendees will spend the remainder of the week on Capitol Hill visiting with congressional offices to highlight the critical role of livestock grazing in maintaining healthy ecosystems, preserving wildlife habitat, and preventing catastrophic wildfire on western landscapes. “With a large number of freshman in Congress, cattle and sheep producers have their work cut out for them as they hit the Hill through the remainder of the week,” said Lane. “My hope is that the western cattle and sheep producers who joined us this week will use this opportunity as a platform to begin a relationship with leaders who may have questions about public lands ranching. Our industry is complex – we know that – but we are here to help cut through the confusion and drill down to the importance of grazing to western landscapes.” To learn more about the PLC, visit www.publiclandscouncil.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 2, 2019 |


More H-2B Visas Issued The Department of Homeland Security is allocating an additional 30,000 H-2B visas for foreign seasonal workers, the agency announced Friday, granting some relief to businesses and tourist destinations that cannot find enough Americans to cook and clean, and fill other low-wage jobs during the summer season. Access to foreign labor has become a major issue for seasonal businesses that have for years struggled with severe worker shortages. Even with the additional visas announced Friday, employers say there will not be enough to go around and predict they will again begin the high season shorthanded. The new visas, besides the 33,000 already issued for jobs beginning April 1, will be available only to returning H-2B workers who have worked in the U.S. in the past three years. The agency has not said when employers can begin applying for them. FDA's Gottlieb Exiting Government This Week FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb will leave his post atop the agency Friday after serving for two years in the spot. Under his watch, he focused on several issues and leaves and imprint on the agency. Gottlieb has changed the reporting structure within the agency, by having heads of agencies within FDA report to the Commissioner, not to lower-level officials. Gottlieb said that was to "not only advance policy but to maintain perspective on what was going on and help the centers solve their problems.” Gottlieb has also had to field issues such as the rise in CBD products and for U.S. ag interests in particular, addressing questions on the terminology for plant-based "dairy" products and cell-based meat. Washington Insider: US-China Trade Talks Front and Center Bloomberg is reporting this week that the U.S.-China talks will take center stage now once China’s Vice Premier Liu He arrives in Washington. These are very high-level negotiations, Bloomberg says, and will involve U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin as well as Congressional representatives and top Chinese officials. Liu’s trip will be part of the countries’ efforts to build on progress toward ending their nearly year-long trade war. The vice premier will be leading a delegation for meetings beginning on April 3, the White House said. The visit follows the late March meetings in Beijing where U.S. and Chinese negotiators met to lay the groundwork for the talks—and a possible deal. Still, Bloomberg says “U.S. lawmakers—particularly Republicans—and industry representatives are increasingly nervous about the economic impact of tariffs that the two countries have imposed on each other,” and are increasingly aware of the high stakes involved in these upcoming talks. As a result, Bloomberg cites well-informed observers who say the situation presents a unique opportunity to extract long-sought concessions from China on issues such as improving treatment of U.S. intellectual property and opening up market access for American companies. As part of the effort, the U.S. is pushing for an “enforcement mechanism” to hold China accountable to its promises. “How you structure that is the key,” Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., co-chair of the congressional U.S.-China Working Group told Bloomberg. It’s a big part of what Liu and Lighthizer are going to have to nail down in coming days, he said. Meanwhile, as the U.S.-China negotiations intensify, AFL-CIO President Trumka scheduled a morning briefing in Washington this week to address questions regarding the labor movement’s opposition to the current version of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. He was expected to focus directly on the federation’s criticisms of the deal, the AFL-CIO said. And, as part of the administration’s push for approval of the new pact, USTR Lighthizer also is traveling to Capitol Hill this week to meet with new members of the House to build congressional support for its trade deal with Mexico and Canada. Bloomberg says that “the USMCA faces an uphill climb in the House, where Democrats have voiced concerns about labor and environmental enforcement and provisions for cutting edge biologic drugs.” “For many new members of Congress, the vote on USMCA will be their first trade vote and some have said very little on the record about trade,” National Foreign Trade Council Vice President Investment Vanessa Sciarra said. “Educating them and their staff members will be a vital step in moving towards passage of USMCA.” Amid all the speculation about the U.S.-China talks and the USMCA approval fight in Washington, trade officials and executives from Alphabet Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. will descend on Geneva this week for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development annual e-commerce meetings, Bloomberg says. The event comes two months after a group of World Trade Organization members—including the U.S., European Union, and China—launched negotiations aimed at forging new rules to cover the $25 trillion e-commerce market. Separately, without a great deal of fanfare, WTO delegates plan to hold a week-long working group meeting aimed at breaking new ground in the WTO’s deadlocked agriculture negotiations. Trade issues are emerging from many directions just now and are assuming greatly enhanced importance in early debates about the 2020 races. From now until that vote, almost everything will be increasingly political and trade and other economic policies are no exception, and will lead to increasingly fierce debates that should be watched closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 2, 2019 |


Flooding Impact: More than One Million Acres of Farmland Damaged More than one million acres of farmland are reported to be damaged from historic flooding so far this year. Satellite data analyzed for Reuters shows the “bomb cyclone” weather event left wide swaths of nine major grain producing states under water. Farms from the Dakotas to Missouri and beyond have been under water with weekend rains adding more concern. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned this spring could be an “unprecedented flood season" as it forecasts heavy spring rains, and cites flooding conditions already seen along major river basins. The report shows that nearly 1.1 million acres of cropland and more than 84,000 acres of pastureland in the Midwest was covered with floodwaters for at least seven days between March 8 and March 21. Still, the flooded areas represent less than one percent of U.S. land to grow corn, soybeans and other crops. Iowa, the top U.S. corn and second soy producing state, had the most water, covering 474,200 acres, followed by Missouri with 203,100 acres, according to Gro Intelligence, the agency that compiled the report. ************************************************************************************* NPPC Calls for Swift U.S./Japan Trade Negotiation The National Pork Producers Council is urging the Trump administration to “expeditiously complete and deliver” a trade deal with Japan. The announcement follows reports that China and the U.S. will begin trade negotiations on April 15, 2019. NPPC President David Herring in a statement says the U.S. needs a level playing field in Japan, adding "U.S. pork producers are losing market share in Japan to international competitors that have recently negotiated more favorable trade terms.” Six countries, Canada, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam, have implemented the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement of Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP replacement, and gained more favorable access to Japan. Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, says U.S. pork will see exports to Japan grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to more than $2.2 billion over the next 15 years if the United States quickly gains access on par with international competitors. Hayes reports that U.S. pork shipments to Japan will drop to $349 million if a trade deal on these terms is not quickly reached with Japan. ************************************************************************************* E15 Expansion, Consumer Adoption Driving Terminal Growth Growth Energy Monday announced that consumers have surpassed eight billion miles on E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent renewable biofuel that is approved for all cars 2001 and newer. U.S. drivers just surpassed seven billion miles in January, and the six-billion-mile mark in November of last year. The organization says the milestone reflects the growing popularity of the fuel made possible by rapid retail adoption and more terminal availability across the nation. Growth Energy Vice President of Market Development Mike O’Brien says Growth Energy’s Prime the Pump program that works with retailers has “put pressure on terminals to follow suit, causing a domino effect in their offering of E15 at their locations across most of the country.” The Prime the Pump program has helped increase E15 availability at terminals across the country, from five in 2017 to more than 100 today. ************************************************************************************* Perdue Applauds USDA Chief Financial Officer Appointment Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue applauded last week’s appointment by President Trump of Scott Soles as the Department of Agriculture Chief Financial Officer. Perdue welcomed Soles more than 30 years of experience to the agency in internal and external financial auditing, consulting, and finance operations. In the announcement, the White House noted that Soles currently works as a senior special financial projects analyst and has previously served in roles at global Fortune 500 companies. Perdue says Soles will “bring valuable financial management experience and knowledge to USDA,” an agency that is facing budget cuts from the Trump administration and the proposed relocation of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The nomination must be confirmed by the Senate. Perdue urged lawmakers to quickly consider and approve the nomination, along with the nominations not yet considered for Food Safety, Civil Rights, and Research, Education, and Economics, positions at the agency. ************************************************************************************* Montana Joins States Addressing Cell-Cultured Meats Montana has joined the growing list of states to pass legislation clarifying the difference between animal meats and cell-cultured meats. The state’s House and Senate have passed legislation dubbed the Real Meat Act, which meat industry publication Meatingplace says will clarify what is hamburger and ground beef and provide a definition for “cell-cultured edible product.” The legislation says “cell-cultured edible product,” is derived from muscle cells, fat cells, connective tissue, blood and other components produced via cell culture rather than from a whole slaughtered animal. The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk for signature before it becomes law. The growing list of states seeking to enact similar measures includes Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Illinois are considering a bill that identifies what a cell-cultured food product is and says that calling such a product meat or poultry is misbranding. ************************************************************************************* MLB Fans to Consume 18.3 Million Hotdogs in Ballparks The Major League Baseball season is underway, and the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council says fans will chow down on more than 18 million hot dogs in ballparks this year. A survey by the organization found fans are expected to consume 18.3 million hot dogs throughout the season in U.S. ballparks. The Los Angeles Dodgers home, Dodger Stadium, tops the list with projected sales of 2.7 million hot dogs. Cubs fans are Wrigley Field in Chicago are the runner up, with projected sales of 1.2 million hot dogs. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ rivals up the coast, San Francisco Giants fans are expected to purchase 450,000 sausages, with Cubs fans not far behind at 400,000. As in past years, the Brewers’ Miller Park is the sole MLB venue where sausage sales will outpace hot dogs. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council was established in 1994 by the American Meat Institute and celebrates hot dogs and sausages as iconic American foods.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 2, 2019 |


Public Lands Council Legislative Conference Kicks Off in Washington, D.C. WASHINGTON DC (April 1, 2019) – The Public Lands Council (PLC), a national organization exclusively representing western cattle and sheep producers who hold federal grazing permits, today kicked off its annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. This marks the beginning of a two-day event packed full of briefings with congressional leadership and agency officials as well as an industry reception that showcases American beef and lamb. The 2019 PLC Legislative Conference agenda includes updates from Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID-01), House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY-At Large), the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Forest Service. Additionally, the PLC is hosting a “Best of the West” cookoff reception Monday night featuring dishes from teams comprised of affiliate members. “This is the premiere legislative event for federal lands ranchers, and we are thrilled to be in our nation’s capital,” said Bob Skinner, an Oregon rancher who serves as the current PLC president. “We are here to ensure the value of livestock grazing is recognized by demonstrating the benefits of responsibly managed western landscapes. Part of this includes highlighting regulatory red tape that keeps us from doing our job.” “Thanking those key individuals who served as a voice for federal lands ranchers is important to each of us as well,” said Skinner. “From agency leadership who led the lengthy process for the sage-grouse amendments to those who championed measures benefiting the ranching community in the Natural Resources Management Act, we had a successful year, and we want to express our gratitude.” To learn more about the issues impacting federal lands ranchers visit www.publiclandscouncil.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 1, 2019 |


The USDA has a habit of surprises and Friday's Grain Stocks and Prospective Plantings reports were no different. The overall bearish stocks and seeding reports on corn were both much larger than the pre-report estimates. While both wheat and soybean stocks were also above expectations, those were not on as large of scale and acreage intentions on both fell more than estimated ahead of the report. Corn led the bearish reaction, but wheat and soybeans fell as well. At Friday's close, corn futures were down 17 cents, with wheat off 6 to 10 cents and soybeans were down 5 cents. PROSPECTIVE PLANTINGS Corn Corn seeding intentions came out at 92.8 ma -- not only 1.7 ma above the average trade estimate, but 600,000 acres above the highest pre-report estimate. The total increase in acres is projected to be 3.7 ma above last year. The trade will likely take this as a starting point, with changes as massive flooding issues throughout the Midwest could lead to lower acres. Soybeans Perhaps Friday's low acreage intentions is the first step in curing what is now a U.S. and world record large soybean supply. That's likely due to falling Chinese demand due to trade disagreements with the U.S. and the demand-dampening African swine fever, which has decimated the Chinese hog herd, reducing demand for soybean meal. USDA pegged U.S. soybean seeding at a sharply lower 84.6 ma -- 1.6 ma below the pre-report estimate and a huge 4.6 ma below last year's 89.2 ma. As in corn, the soybean acres are a moving target with even more flooding problems anticipated and the tendency for USDA's March-to-June acreage to increase. Typically, a late spring often leads to more soybeans at the expense of either corn or spring wheat. Wheat Prospective all-wheat plantings at 45.8 million acres (ma) compares to the pre-report average estimate of 46.9 ma, down 2 ma from last year. Spring wheat acres were at 12.8 ma, 600,000 acres below the average estimate and 400,000 acres below last year's final planting number. The drop in spring wheat intentions is likely attributed to the anticipation of potential flooding and excess water from the huge snowpack in the Northern Plains, along with the large spring wheat carryout expected. Conclusion The net effect of the planting intentions released on March 29 is clearly bearish for corn, but slightly bullish for wheat and soybeans. Price movement between now and when planting commences in the Midwest will send a signal to farmers and falling corn prices on Friday clearly signaled this many acres aren't needed.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 1, 2019 |


Progress In US-China Talks with More This Week Attention in the week ahead will be on U.S.-China trade talks to take place in Washington. The sessions this week come after U.S. officials were in Beijing for talks last week. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin met with China officials, headed by Vice Premier Liu He. "The two parties continued to make progress during candid and constructive discussions on the negotiations and important next steps," the White House said. "The United States looks forward to the meetings planned with Vice Premier Liu He and the Chinese delegation in Washington." Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters last week that while some progress has been made, “much work remains to be accomplished.” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said on Thursday that the Trump administration was prepared to stretch the talks with China for “months” and Washington was in no rush to resolve the problems. “This is not time-dependent,” Kudlow in a speech in Washington. “This is policy and enforcement-dependent … If it takes a few more weeks, or if it takes months, so be it. We have to get a great deal, as the president says, that works for the United States. That’s our principal interest.” Kudlow added that Washington had proposed including in the pact a provision for regular meetings to assess China’s implementation of any reforms agreed — including improving treatment of U.S. intellectual property and opening up market access. US Ag Export Continue to Struggle U.S. agricultural exports in January totaled $11.929 billion against imports of $11.365 billion for a trade surplus of $564 million. The export figure reflected a rise from December when exports were valued at $11.277 billion while imports also moved up from a December mark of $10.680 billion for a $597 million surplus. The totals also marked stronger export and import values compared to January 2018 and the trade balance was wider than the $305 million in January 2018, the smallest trade surplus of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The January data means after the first four months of FY 2019, exports are off more than $3 billion compared to the same period in FY 2018. Similarly, import values are up more than $4 billion over the year-ago four-month period. So far in FY 2019, the U.S. ag trade surplus totals $4.313 billion compared with $8.932 billion at this stage of FY 2018. FY 2018 saw U.S. agriculture register five months with trade surpluses of $1 billion or more, including three months to open the FY. This year, U.S. agriculture was only able to put together two months in a row with an ag trade surplus of $1 billion or more. That suggests U.S. agriculture could well struggle to meet the USDA export forecast of $141.5 billion against imports of $128 billion for a surplus of $13.5 billion. Washington Insider: More US, Latin American Angst There is a great deal of pressure on the Southern U.S. border these days as the president threatens to close it at the same time he cuts “hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to three Central American countries in retaliation for what he called their lack of help in reducing the flow of migrants to the U.S. border,” the Washington Post reported Sunday. The Post said the aid cut was one of the harshest actions yet as the administration escalates a confrontation with Mexico and Central America over a surge in irregular migration, largely involving children and families seeking asylum. The aid cut was announced by the State Department on Saturday. It said the U.S. will be “ending ... foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle” — a region encompassing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The move would affect nearly $500 million in 2018 funds and millions more left over from the prior fiscal year. The money was destined for Central America but has not yet been spent, the Post said. The administration’s action was the culmination of a months-long battle in the U.S. government over the aid program, which grew substantially under the Obama administration and was intended to address the root causes of migration—violence, a lack of jobs and poverty. Some administration officials argue that the program failed to achieve “enough” results and in recent months have been looking into alternatives. Still, the decision to cut off the remaining funds appeared to take many people by surprise, especially since it came just a day after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed what the department called a “historic” memorandum of cooperation on border security in Central America. One former U.S. official said there was “chaos” in the State Department and U.S. embassies as officials tried to figure out whether they had to cancel existing contracts or simply not renew them. The number of apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border has been soaring, with more than 76,000 migrants taken into U.S. custody in February, most of them from Central America. On Friday night, during a trip to Florida, the president faulted governments in the region for the increase. Democratic officials, aid groups and former officials said the president’s action could boomerang by shrinking or eliminating some of the very programs keeping would-be migrants in Central America. “Ironically, our goals of having people stay and thrive in El Salvador are very similar to the current administration’s,” said Ken Baker, chief executive of Glasswing International, which runs education, health and entrepreneurship programs in El Salvador and receives funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. “Through our programs, we’ve been able to provide opportunities and the belief that they [would-be migrants] can thrive here.” “The key is to get to them before” they leave for the United States, he said. “When you’re talking about the problem at the border in the U.S., it’s already too late.” Jim Nealon, a former U.S. ambassador to Honduras, said that the president “doesn’t seem to understand” the way the Central American aid program works. The U.S. government doesn’t give the money to foreign governments, but rather “to programs designed and implemented by the U.S., with the cooperation of governments and civil society,” he said. Much of the aid is administered by nonprofit groups. He also thinks that Central American governments are not seeking to send their citizens to the United States. “To the contrary, they already cooperate with us in trying to deter migration.” Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are among the poorest countries in the hemisphere, and among the most violent in the world. Authorities in the region have said they are taking what measures they can under their laws. Mexico, for example, has offered thousands of temporary humanitarian visas to migrants, permitting them to stay and work in the country. Raul Lopez, vice minister of justice in El Salvador, said Friday that the flow of migrants from his country was actually slowing. U.S. assistance has had a positive impact in reducing migration from El Salvador, but “we need more help to continue this fight,” he said. It was unclear whether Congress will try to block Trump’s decision to shift the Central American aid elsewhere. A delegation of congressional Democrats visiting El Salvador on Saturday called the administration’s move “counterproductive” and said they would “do everything in our power to push back on the president’s misguided approach to Central America.” The group included Rep. Eliot Engel, N.Y., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Unauthorized crossings of the U.S. border have reached their highest level in a decade, although they are still well below the peak of 1.6 million in 2000. But the migrant flow has changed in character. Most migrants used to be Mexican men who could be easily deported, but now they are asylum-seeking families that are entitled to certain protections under federal law. The president apparently has won his fight to substantially expand the border wall, but immigration continues to be an intensifying flashpoint—and likely will continue to be throughout the runup to the 2020 elections. These fights should be watched closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 1, 2019 |


Corn Back On Top of the USDA Prospective Planting Report A DTN summary of the USDA Quarterly Grain Stocks and Prospective Plantings Report shows that corn is once again the acreage leader this year. Farmers are expected to plant 92.8 million acres of corn this spring. That’s a four percent rise over 2018. Soybean acreage is projected at 84.6 million acres, down five percent from last year. Wheat planting may set the wrong kind of record this year. The all-wheat acres are forecast at 45.8 million, down four percent from 2018. If it does hold true, that would be the lowest all-wheat acreage on record since 1919, the first year that USDA began keeping track. DTN notes that the survey likely took place before flooding hit the Midwest states, so the numbers will likely be much different in Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. USDA says corn ending stocks were at 8.6 billion bushels, within the range of expectations and three percent lower than last year. Soybean stocks took a huge jump from last year, rising 29 percent to 2.7 billion bushels. The all-wheat ending stocks were also higher compared to last year, up six percent to nearly 1.6 billion bushels. ********************************************************************************************** China Talks May Drag On Before Wrapping Up Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, put a damper on the prospect of the U.S. and China wrapping up trade talks in the next few weeks. Politico says Kudlow is normally upbeat, but he threw out a bunch of caution last week by saying it may take a few months yet for President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet and finalize an agreement to end the trade war. “We’ll get there when we get there, and it will be a historic moment,” Kudlow said during the keynote speech at the Export-Import Bank’s annual conference. “If it takes a few more weeks or a few more months, so be it.” Negotiations were still ongoing as of late last week as both U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) were in Beijing. A Chinese delegation will visit Washington, D.C., this week in order to continue talks and will likely meet with President Trump. However, Politico says any permanent end to the trade war between the world’s two largest economies will have to come during a face-to-face meeting between the two presidents. ********************************************************************************************** NBB Asks EPA to Reform Small Refinery Exemptions The Environmental Protection Agency held a hearing last week on the proposed Modifications to Fuel Regulations, which are intended to provide flexibility for E15 and to Elements of the Renewable Identification Number Compliance System. Members of the National Biodiesel Board testified during the hearing and asked the EPA to not adopt the proposed changes to the RIN system as it finalizes the E15 rule. NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik said at the public hearing that EPA must change its practice of encouraging retroactive small refinery exemption petitions. “We ask the agency to use this opportunity to instead address the timing of small refinery exemption petitions,” he said during testimony. “If EPA finds that it can easily propose a quarterly compliance deadline in the RIN proposed rule, the agency should feel just as comfortable applying a similar reasonable administrative requirement that small refineries submit petitions before the end of the compliance year.” NBB Chair Kent Englebrecht says they appreciate EPA taking claims of RIN market manipulation seriously. However, because the agency has yet to see evidence of such behavior, he says they’d like EPA to not finalize the RIN reform portion of the proposed rule. ********************************************************************************************** House Ag Chair Pushing for Rapid Dairy Program Implementation House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson, Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, along with more than 70 Democratic and Republican colleagues wrote a letter last week to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. They’re asking the secretary to make implementing the dairy provisions in the new farm bill a high priority. The lawmakers are concerned about the continuing loss of dairy farms, as well as just how deficient previous dairy programs were in slowing those farm losses. Peterson and Thompson note that the 2018 Farm Bill can provide much-needed assistance to the nation’s struggling dairy farmers. The letter says, “Provisions of the new farm bill, especially the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program, will provide vital help if they can get it to dairy farmers quickly enough.” Peterson says the average Minnesota dairy farmer earned $15,000 last year, about a third of what they did in 2017. “Given what faces dairy farmers, USDA needs to get a move on implementing these dairy programs as soon as possible,” Peterson says. “I hope USDA will overcommunicate on what the new programs can do for farmers because Congress worked hard to include higher and more affordable coverage options.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Hog Inventory is Up 2 Percent U.S. pork farms contained more than 74.3 million hogs and pigs as of March first. That’s a two percent climb from March of 2018, but it’s down slightly from December first of last year. The USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service came out with its Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report last week. National Hog Farmer Dot Com says the numbers came in right where industry analysts expected they would. NASS says 67.9 million of those were market hogs. The other 6.3 million were kept back for breeding. Farmers weaned 33 million pigs on U.S. farms between December of 2018 and February, up three percent from the same period last year. From December through February, producers also weaned an average of 10.7 pigs per litter. Hog producers intend to have 3.1 million sows farrow between March and May of this year, as well as 3.2 billion sows farrow between June and August. Iowa has the largest inventory among the major hog-producing states, coming in at 23.5 million head. North Carolina and Minnesota had the second and third-largest inventories respectively. Carolina had 8.9 million head, while Minnesota had 8.7 million. ********************************************************************************************* Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” Helps Hungry Americans The farm and ranch families that makeup Farm Bureau donated just over 32 million pounds of food to assist hungry Americans. They also raised more than $360,000 as part of their “Harvest for All” program. The initiative is now in its 17th year and spearheaded by the members of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Program. When you combine the numbers, the monetary and food donations total up to an equivalent of 28.2 million meals. In addition to raising the food and funding for the initiative, farmers and ranchers also totaled up 22,500 volunteer hours assisting local hunger groups last year. “Hunger continues to be a concern for many Americans in rural areas and farming communities,” says Paul Molesky, Chair of the Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. “Farm Bureau’s long tradition of helping put food on the tables of those who need it the most continues through our Harvest for All efforts.” *************************************************************************

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 1, 2019 |


Montana’s House and Senate have both passed a bill dubbed the Real Meat Act to clarify what is hamburger and ground beef and provide a definition for “cell-cultured edible product.” “Cell-cultured edible product,” according to the legislation, is derived from muscle cells, fat cells, connective tissue, blood and other components produced via cell culture rather than from a whole slaughtered animal. Such a product must contain labeling indicating it is derived from those cells, tissues, blood or components, the bill states. Hamburger or ground beef mean ground fresh or frozen beef, or a combination of both, with or without the addition of suet, to which no water, binders or extenders are added. “The term includes only products entirely derived from the edible flesh of livestock or a livestock product,” and does not include cell-cultured edible products, according to the legislation. Meat is defined as “the edible flesh of livestock or poultry and includes livestock and poultry products.” Montana’s bill attempts to define a number of food- and drug-related terms, ranging from dietary supplements and food additives to what is meant by misbranded and adulterated. The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk for signature before it becomes law. The growing list of states pursuing such legal initiatives includes Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. Illinois also recently joined the movement, with a bill in the works that defines what a cell-cultured food product is and says that calling such a product meat or poultry is misbranding.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 29, 2019 |


Senators Urge USDA to Pull Proposed Food Stamp Rule USDA should withdraw a proposed rule that would limit state officials’ ability to exempt food stamp recipients from time limits and work requirements for their food aid, 47 senators said Thursday in a letter to USDA Secretary. Sonny Perdue. Public comment on the draft rule closes on Tuesday, April 2. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition and Oversight plans a hearing on April 3 to examine the potential effects of the rule, which would make it more difficult for states to receive waivers from USDA. Those waivers now allow states to extend benefits beyond a three-month limit every three years that an able-bodied adult can get aid. Washington Insider: Rescuing Farmers from Big Ag Americans are known to be well fed and to have access to an abundance of healthful food and fiber products which cost a far smaller share of their disposable income than in other developed countries. Producers see this as solid economic progress for the nation—but many urbanites don’t. They delight in criticizing efficient farms as “factories” that produce often unhealthful products at heavy cost to the environment. The family farm is idealized, but not clearly defined in spite of the fact that nearly all U.S. farms are family operated and mostly family owned. Still farmers are far fewer in number than they were even one generation ago, so the urban press controls the social image of the US food culture and frequently finds much not to like. This image appears to be translating into politics to some degree. For example, Bloomberg reports as candidates appeal for votes in Iowa they often appeal to family farmers. Bloomberg focuses on one proposal by an East Coast candidate that includes a promise to break up big agricultural businesses to end their “stranglehold” over farmers. Bloomberg notes that several candidate proposals are follow a somewhat similar pattern in their attempts to distinguish themselves in a crowded field by offering competing robust--and progressive – policy proposals. These have included, Bloomberg says, numerous proposals for consumer financial protection since the 2008 banking crisis as well as “ultra-millionaire” tax proposals along with tighter regulations for large technology companies. Such proposals are offered as floods damage the Midwest and “economic setbacks” affect farmers in the region already hit by the trade war with China. Even some Republicans who represent rural areas have warned the administration that low commodity prices and retaliatory tariffs could add voters to a Democratic coalition currently concentrated on the coasts, Bloomberg says. Bloomberg’s report focuses extensively on a proposal that aims at “structural” problems and asserts that the Bayer-Monsanto merger, approved by the Justice Department last year, “never should have happened” while promising the appointment of “trustbusters” who would reverse that merger, along with others said to be anti-competitive. It also criticized the 2017 merger that formed DowDuPont Inc. and China National Chemical Corp.’s 2017 acquisition of Syngenta AG, along with Tyson Foods Inc.’s domination of chicken farming. It charges that corporate consolidation in agriculture is “leaving family farmers with fewer choices, thinner margins, and less independence.” The proposal was released ahead of Democratic candidates’ Heartland Forum on rural issues to be held tomorrow and is expected to draw several presidential hopefuls. Bayer spokeswoman Christi Dixon said regarding the proposal, "We brought together two talented teams and a robust portfolio to offer more choices for farmers." Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson told Bloomberg that “family farmers are essential to Tyson Foods and their success is important to us.” He added, “The best way for the U.S. government to support farmers and ranchers is to ensure we have bilateral trade agreements in place to help increase exports.” There is little that is new in claims that farmers are paying the price for decisions in Washington that “favor interests of multinational corporations and big business lobbyists,” especially in Iowa or other important farming states. However, at least some of the current focus is unusual in that it bypasses key farm issues, including trade, soil conservation and market development efforts, among many others. Clearly, the structure of agriculture is important to producers everywhere. However, to the extent that emerging proposals are seen by Iowans as catering heavily to the coastal food cultures and their view of an ideal ag system, at least some of its components may be seen as heavily nostalgic. In addition, a subtle message seems to be emerging that paints ag as big, industrial, out of touch with consumers and in need of returning to its roots. Such images have at least some potential of leading to unwelcome interventions and should be watched closely as next year’s campaign intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 29, 2019 |


USDA Eyes New ERS, NIFI Locations by May The Department of Agriculture will release it’s shortlist of potential spots for relocating the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture "in the coming days." USDA is working towards deciding on the final relocation spots by early May, according to Politico. An official from USDA told Congress this week that, under the plan, the Economic Research Service would keep 76 jobs in Washington and relocate 253 positions, while the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would retain just 20 employees in Washington, D.C., and move 315 to the new site. However, those numbers are based on currently appropriated positions. President Trump's fiscal 2020 budget calls for cutting the full-time ERS workforce in half, from about 330 positions to 160. USDA will also provide a cost-benefit analysis with the final recommendation. USDA maintains that taxpayers would benefit from the proposal because USDA would save money on rent by moving outside of the nation's capital. The agency also says employees would benefit from shorter commute times and lower housing prices. ************************************************************************************* Abundance of Moisture Limits Drought Conditions An abundance of moisture across the United States has greatly diminished the Drought Monitor’s findings of drought across the nation. Just this week, officials declared California “drought free” for the first time in seven years. There are no areas of extreme, or exceptional drought classifications in the nation, and very few cases of severe drought. However, dryness intensified across parts of the South, while the overall trend toward drought recovery continued in the Four Corners region. Elsewhere, dryness concerns increased in the Northwest where drought expanded slightly. Most of the nation from the central and northern Plains to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast remained free of drought, with severe flooding the primary concern in the nation’s heartland. Over the next week, an unsettled weather pattern will continue over much of the nation. A pair of Pacific storms are expected to bring relief to the Northwest and northern Rockies. As the system marches east, it will produce rain and snow from the central Plains into the Midwest, though the Upper Midwest will remain dry. ************************************************************************************* Midwest Flooding Drops Ethanol Production 13% Flooding in the Midwest impacting ethanol facilities has reduced ethanol production by 13 percent in the United States. Plants in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Missouri were forced to shut down or scale back production during and following the flooding. Rail lines are washed out, hampering the transportation of products to and from ethanol plants. Some have damaged facilities or soaked stored corn, and local roads need repair around the facilities. The U.S. has some 200 ethanol plants capable of producing 1.06 million barrels per day, and about 100,000 to 140,000 barrels per day of capacity has been taken off line due to the floods, according to Reuters. Nebraska officials say crop damage in the state will exceed $400 million. The flooding disaster comes as the industry is in the midst of low prices and demand falling for the first time in 20 years. ************************************************************************************* FCA Encouraging Farm Credit System to Work with Borrowers in Flooded Areas The Farm Credit Administration is encouraging Farm Credit System lenders to work with borrowers who have been affected by the extensive flooding in the Midwest. The mid-March “bomb cyclone” dropped heavy rain and triggered massive snowmelt, which led to widespread flooding in the Midwest, particularly in Nebraska and Iowa. Known damages include loss of livestock, production facilities, and grain in storage. Also, saturated soil is adversely affecting preparations for spring planting. FCA regulations and the solid financial position of lenders offer considerable flexibility in providing disaster relief. FCA says Farm Credit System lenders can alleviate stress for borrowers affected by natural disasters in several ways, including extending the terms of loan repayments and restructuring borrowers’ debt obligations. A Farm Credit Administration official stated, “We encourage institutions to use this flexibility following disasters like this one to help borrowers get back on their feet.” ************************************************************************************* Bayer to Appeal $80 Million Jury Decision Bayer, in response to an $80 million award to a California man suing the company over Roundup, says the verdict “does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science.” Bayer will appeal the action, which is considered the phase two verdict in the case Hardeman v Monsanto. The jury found Bayer liable for Edwin Hardeman's cancer. Bayer acquired Monsanto in a deal that closed last year. Bayer notes that the jury deliberated for more than four days before reaching a causation verdict in phase one, an indication that it was very likely divided over the scientific evidence. The legal rulings under which the court admitted expert scientific testimony from the plaintiff that it called "shaky" is one of several significant issues that the company may raise on appeal. Monsanto moved to exclude the same evidence before trial. Bayer offered sympathy for Hardeman and his family, but added “Bayer stands behind these products and will vigorously defend them.” ************************************************************************************* Major Food Companies Release Nutrition and Dietary Guidance Framework A group of major food companies says more can be done to address public health and environmental health concerns, including climate change, through food. The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance was formed by Danone North America, Mars Incorporated, Nestle USA and Unilever to influence food policy. This week, the group released its framework for the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The group says the guidelines should be transparent, reflect the current public health environment, incorporate food groups that reflect a wide range of possible healthful diets, and be enhanced through education campaigns, along with clearly stating rational with scientific citations. The groups state the guidelines are “the right place to explore issues like sustainability and emerging areas like Food is Medicine, in order to turn the tide on food and nutrition-related public health concerns.” The framework also says dietary advice should account for how climate change, water scarcity, soil health, and other environmental challenges may impact the availability and nutrient density of foods and beverages.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 29, 2019 |


President Trump signs public lands package On March 12, a bipartisan public lands package became law, and I was honored to return to the Oval Office to see the president sign it into law. The law includes two measures important to Montana, including the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, which I championed and led. The new law is a victory for Montana. Our communities came together for our public lands and deserve a lot of credit for getting this across the finish line. It was the second time in six days that I met with President Trump in the Oval Office. I appreciate having a seat at the table where I can advance Montana’s priorities.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 28, 2019 |


Limits on Section 232 national security tariffs Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, expects bipartisan legislation "in the coming weeks" to propose time limits on Section 232 national security tariffs. Grassley's announcement comes days after the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump imposing 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum via Section 232. The legislation would impose new consultation and reporting requirements through the investigative process to keep lawmakers informed. It would also allow lawmakers to “weigh in on any action” by potentially limiting the lifespan of tariffs or other trade restrictions unless Congress grants an extension. The bill would require the White House to provide reports on how any trade actions are achieving national security objectives. It would also require a “transparent and accountable” process for requesting tariff exclusions. Senate Moves Forward On Disaster Aid Plan The Senate voted 90 to 10 to move forward to consideration of a $13.46 billion disaster aid package Tuesday, but that plan will not address current flooding in the Midwest. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said disaster aid would get approved in piecemeal fashion as the number of disasters multiplies. "Clearly we will be doing another supplemental here in the near future once we assess the damage in the Midwest," he told reporters Tuesday. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said lawmakers had been trying to expand the aid package to include recent flooding in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. But if the price tag for those three states exceeds $8 billion, he said, "you would add money later to that fund." The government has an indemnity program for livestock killed by storms and flood, but nothing to compensate growers for grain lost to flooding. For privately stored grain, “we do not have anything in place at USDA,” USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach said earlier this week. “If Congress passes a disaster package, that may or may not be part of that.” Crops contaminated by flooding cannot be sold for food or feeding because it is considered adulterated. Flood waters may contain sewage, pesticides, pathogens and other toxic substances. Washington Insider: The US Push to Limit Metal Imports Amid widespread fights for better access for U.S. exports, the United States is continuing to push for limits on sales of foreign metals, angering allies, the New York Times is reporting this week. The U.S. demand, reiterated in meetings with Canadian officials this week, has been rejected by Canada and Mexico and is eliciting opposition from American companies that use foreign steel and aluminum. This dispute is further complicating efforts to finalize the new NAFTA which faces a long battle in Congress and must be ratified by legislators in all three nations. Canada and Mexico had hoped that the administration would remove the metal tariffs last year when the three countries agreed on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). That did not happen and Mexico and Canada are now pushing hard for the United States drop the levies as a condition of ratifying the deal. On Monday, Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister, called the tariffs “illegal and unjust” and “completely unacceptable.” Her comments followed a meeting with Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative, that focused mainly on the tariffs. Freeland said Canadians would be “really troubled” at the prospect of moving forward to ratify the new pact while the tariffs were still in place. “To a lot of Canadians, it just doesn’t make sense,” she said. To try to resolve the impasse, the Trump administration has proposed switching Canada’s current 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum to a quota system, in which specific amounts of Canadian metal would be allowed into the United States each year, the Times says. However, Canada has rejected that idea, as have American companies that use foreign steel and aluminum in their products — from beer brewers to jet makers. They argue that capping metal imports at a specific level would be even more disruptive than tariffs and could result in steep price increases or a scarcity of metals. The United States and Mexico are locked in similar negotiations. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, traveled to Mexico last week to discuss the tariffs, the new trade deal and investment. On Tuesday, associations representing the aluminum industry in all three countries wrote to the president asking for their industry to be exempted from any tariff or quota. “Replacing a tariff with a quota on aluminum imports in North America would be highly detrimental,” the letter said. However, the president credits the tariffs with reviving the United States steel and aluminum industries and claims that American steel mills are “roaring back to life.” And American giants like United States Steel and Nucor say the tariffs have helped them build new facilities and hire workers. Still, the Times says that “experts believe those gains have come at a high price.” For example, the Peterson Institute for International Economics recently calculated that the administration’s tariffs would create 8,700 jobs in the U.S. steel industry but at a cost to users of $650,000 for each job created. “What we hear from our member companies is tariffs are bad and quotas are worse,” said John Murphy, the senior vice president for international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a recent statement, Canadian leaders of the United Steelworkers called on their government not to ratify the new trade pact until “tariffs and quotas are removed from the equation.” Aaron Padilla, the senior adviser for international policy at the American Petroleum Institute, said quotas would further hinder the oil and gas industry, which needs steel to build pipelines and other infrastructure and has already been affected by tariffs. “With surging production of natural gas and oil, the steel needs have increased,” Padilla said. “Quotas can actually stop steel at the border.” That can result in companies having to either store the metal or have it sent back to the factory at great expense, he said. Traders can also game a quota system, stockpiling metal and then flooding the market when the quota period opens according to the Harbor Aluminum Intelligence Consultancy, the Times said. The report also concludes that the administration’s strategy has strained American alliances and given allies little room to maneuver. However, although Canada and Mexico repeatedly insisted that they would not negotiate a revised NAFTA with the threat of levies hanging over their heads, the three countries signed their pact in November without the levies being lifted. The administration continues to threaten to withdraw from the North American trade pact altogether if Congress does not approve the new deal. Increasingly, the metal tariffs appear to be assuming a growing importance in U.S. trade negotiations with important implications for U.S. consumers, a development producers should watch closely as the trade policy fights continue, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 28, 2019 |


Report: 55% of Corn Acres Face Potential Flooding A report from Plantalytics says current conditions in the Corn Belt leave 55 percent of the nation’s corn acreage at risk of flooding. Plantalytics is a business weather intelligence firm. The firm reports that major flooding throughout the United States leaves 55 percent of corn acres at risk, along with 60 percent of the nation’s soybean acres to be planted this spring. Thousands of acres have already been inundated with flood waters along the Missouri River, and some will not be used to produce a crop this season. The report follows a forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, depicting at-risk areas this spring. The Missouri and Mississippi River, throughout nearly all of their length, are at risk for major or moderate flooding. NOAA has much of the eastern U.S. at risk for minor flooding, along with the south and Midwest. The report from Plantalytics based its data on 2018 production of corn and soybeans. ************************************************************************************* Mississippi Seeks Federal Disaster Declaration A delegation of elected officials from Mississippi is seeking a federal disaster declaration for the state. Mississippi, much like other states near major U.S. rivers, is experiencing record flooding. In a letter to the Trump administration, the state’s lawmakers reported 43 of the state’s 82 counties have been affected by flooding this spring. The state reports more than 1,300 homes have been damaged, along with 35 bridges and 938 reports of damage to roadways. Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said flooding in southern states, including Mississippi, could be “potentially historic.” Historic flooding is already occurring across the Midwest and flood waters in several areas have eclipsed previous records held since 1993. Minor to moderate flooding has been a threatening issue to the entire Mississippi and Missouri river basins since last summer and fall. Flood advisories, watches and warning are in effect along nearly the entire length of both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. ************************************************************************************* Trump Wants Quick Action on USMA President Donald Trump wants lawmakers to move quickly to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The USMCA, Trump's replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, is currently being navigated through procedural hurdles before the administration can present the final proposed agreement to Congress. Lawmakers must consider the agreement on a simple yes or no vote, with no amendments, with Trade Promotion Authority in effect. Politico reports Trump told House Republicans in a meeting this week the administration is preparing for a vote on the agreement before the summer, but a vote by the end of the year is a more likely timeline. Although, a vote is allowed to happen sometime after the U.S. International Trade Commission submits its analysis of the economic impact of the deal on April 19th. The USMCA agreement is considered Trump's top legislative policy in 2019, before election-year politics muddy the path forward in 2020. ************************************************************************************* ASA: Growers Not Pleased with Keeping Tariffs in Potential China Agreement In a statement by the American Soybean Association, leadership of the organization say the group "is not pleased" with recent comments by the President regarding tariffs and the China trade talks. President Trump has suggested that he could leave tariffs in place under an agreement with China. However, ASA considers the removal of tariffs on China part of an exchange for China to lift its retaliatory 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybean imports. ASA president Davie Stephens questioned, "How can the U.S. and China reach any deal without doing so?" ASA in prior statements said “it’s not enough for China to make one-off good will purchases,” of U.S. soybeans over the last three months. Any longer-term plan to manage soybean trade under which China would guarantee to buy specified amounts of soybeans over an extended period—but still keep its 25 percent tariff in place—"is not an acceptable alternative to full market access,” according to ASA. ************************************************************************************* U.S. to Inspect Brazil Beef Plants U.S. officials will inspect Brazilian beef plants in June following trade talks between the U.S. and Brazil. In a news release, Brazil’s agriculture minister said U.S. officials will audit the inspection system for Brazil beef and pork from June 10 to June 28, calling the audit “an important step” to allow Brazil to re-export to the United States in the future. Brazil says the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection intends to verify that Brazilian products meet U.S. sanitary requirements. Brazil and the U.S. last week issued a joint statement agreeing to “science-based conditions” to allow for the importation of U.S. pork, according to the statement. Still, concerns remain within the U.S. regarding allowing products from Brazil into the U.S. market, according to meat industry publication Meatingplace. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in 2017 suspended imports of fresh Brazilian Beef in the wake of public health concerns, sanitary conditions and animal health issues. ************************************************************************************* Western U.S. Farmers Urge Lawmakers to Address Water Challenges More than 100 organization representing Western U.S. agriculture are urging Congress to use infrastructure legislation to address Western water challenges. The groups say, “existing water infrastructure in the West is aging and in need of rehabilitation and improvement.” President Trump has said infrastructure might be one area that both political parties in the 116th Congress can agree upon. The Democratic Party’s to-do list also includes an ambitious infrastructure program. California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson says, “many California water users will still face water shortages in 2019,” despite an above average snowpack, highlighting the need for reforms. Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, was one of the recipients of the letter. DeFazio now chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he intends to lead efforts to produce a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure bill to fund transportation and water projects. The letter underscores that water conservation, water recycling, watershed management, conveyance, desalination, water transfers, groundwater storage and surface storage are all needed in a diversified management portfolio.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 28, 2019 |


A rancher in Montana who was injured while working with his cattle on March 6 and was rescued by a neighboring rancher who drove a tractor through snow drifted roads to pick him up. The Billings Gazette reports that the rescue happened after the rancher was badly injured while handling cattle south of Broadview, Mont. Roads were too heavily drifted with snow for emergency vehicles to arrive at the scene. Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder says that the rancher, who was not named in the report, was also too injured to drive himself out. Rancher Justin Downs answered the call from Broadview Fire Department to help rescue his neighbor and came with his tractor. At the time snow depth in Yellowstone County was estimated to be between 12 to 17 inches. “He has pulled people out of the snow banks, and dug people out,” Linder says. “From time to time we run into these things where you can’t get in to them because of the weather conditions and we rely on neighbors to help us out.” Downs and a medic drove out across snow covered pastures approximately 2 miles from the main road before arriving at the ranch. Upon arriving at the ranch the medic was able to stabilize the injured man in a collar and he was loaded into the tractor. It is estimated to have taken 40 minutes to reach the injured rancher and take him back to first responders who were waiting on the road. After Downs dropped off his fellow rancher he went back to the ranch to pick up the medic.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 27, 2019 |


'Green New Deal' Resolution Defeated as Expected The Senate Tuesday voted 0-57 against the non-binding "Green New Deal" resolution (SJRes 8 (116)), with all Republicans voting against, joined by Democratic Sens. Joe Machin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, and Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine, who caucuses with the Democrats, also voted against the measure. But the remaining Democrats voted "present," protesting what they said was a political stunt by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who pushed the vote on the non-binding resolution. Those voting present included the author of the resolution and others who have expressed their support for the plan. Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was among Republicans expressing dismay at the resolution. In remarks on the Senate floor, he touted the fact that farmers are the original environmentalists and are adapters of new technology. "Show me a farmer who does not practice conservation or does not have access to the very latest technology and I will show you a farmer in trouble," he remarked. Roberts said he could understand where those drawing up the "Green New Deal" were coming from, but called on them to "catch up with the agriculture committee and with farm country." FSA Announces Conservation-Related Help for Nebraska FSA has approved emergency grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for all Nebraska counties due to the flooding, Nebraska FSA State Executive Director Nancy Johner announced. She also announced 45 Nebraska counties have been approved to begin accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) to address damages from recent flooding. The allowance for emergency grazing of CRP acres is effective immediately and runs through April 30. Producers will be required to contact their local FSA office to complete required paperwork before being able to utilize their CRP acres under the emergency action. There will be no rental reduction for those CRP contract holders to utilize their acres for emergency grazing and they are not allowed to charge livestock producers to graze the acres. ECP helps producers with the recovery cost to restore agricultural land to pre-disaster conditions, with those approved for ECP receiving up to 75% of the cost of approved restoration activity. *** Washington Insider: Bloomberg Cautions on New NAFTA Outlook Bloomberg is reporting this week that the president’s new NAFTA – U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – is “running out of room” to find a path to congressional approval. The report says that the administration’s biggest hurdle is “educating new lawmakers on trade priorities.” In addition, Bloomberg notes that for approval of his new NAFTA to become law “he’ll need the help of a political rival with a track record of blocking such deals.” In 2008, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was House Speaker when Democratic lawmakers denied President George W. Bush’s request for a vote within 90 days on a trade pact with Colombia. The rejection delayed approval of deals the Bush administration negotiated with South Korea and Panama, though all three were later ratified. Once again Speaker, Pelosi will play a pivotal role for the administration’s renegotiated accord with Mexico and Canada – which isn’t one of her legislative priorities. “If the House doesn’t want to move on this, it doesn’t have to. So it’s really up to her,” said Edward Alden, a trade expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. Pelosi is expected to move the deal through the House only if she can find a critical mass of her caucus supporting it and if she extracts concessions unrelated to trade from the White House in return, senior congressional aides say. With 60 new Democratic members who still have to familiarize themselves with their districts’ priorities and the content of the trade deal, the biggest challenge is educating lawmakers, the aides said. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is expected to meet with freshman members in the coming weeks to make his case. Lighthizer is already wooing Democrats to support the updated NAFTA and sympathetic groups are thought to include the New Democrat Coalition, which includes 100 lawmakers who back pro-growth policies. However, the administration expects a tougher challenge from the party’s left flank that includes newcomers including some who identify as democratic socialists and back a sweeping plan to reduce carbon emissions, Bloomberg notes. “That’s the most amorphous piece of this: When is the caucus happy enough that she feels confident moving this? Hard to say," said the National Foreign Trade Council’s Vanessa Sciarra, referring to Pelosi. Bloomberg also notes that some Democrats are calling for changes to sections of USMCA dealing with labor standards and drug patents. The pact commits Mexico to reform its labor laws to allow workers to engage in collective bargaining. But senior Democrats have said the commitments are lack adequate enforcement provisions. America’s biggest federation of labor unions, the AFL-CIO, has said it won’t support USMCA in its current form and would oppose it if the business community forced a “premature” vote. “What we hear on the Hill is the same thing we’re saying: It’s not ready to be voted on,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told Bloomberg on Friday. In addition, Mexico and Canada have warned they may not ratify USMCA unless the U.S. lifts tariffs on steel and aluminum – duties that also are unpopular with lawmakers from Trump’s own Republican Party. For example, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Finance committee, said the agreement wouldn’t be considered as long as the duties remain in place. The administration can make tweaks to the agreement to mollify concerns, but major revisions would require reopening talks with Mexico and Canada, a scenario Lighthizer has ruled out. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met with Lighthizer and Democratic lawmakers earlier this week in Washington, where she discussed USMCA and urged the removal of metals tariffs. However, time is not be on the administration’s side, Bloomberg thinks. A report on the pact’s economic impact is expected in mid-April and following that, the administration expects to submit legislation to implement the agreement. But if the deal isn’t passed by the time Congress leaves town in August, it may be doomed to languish until after the presidential election in November 2020. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told Bloomberg that Republicans tried to press the administration to ratify the deal when they controlled the House. “Now, it’s going to be a heavy lift, I fear," he told Fox News. The president has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the existing NAFTA to pressure lawmakers to approve his new deal, a plan that Pelosi calls “not a good idea.” On Friday, the president said if congressional Democrats don’t ratify USMCA, his alternative would be to “maybe go pre-NAFTA” with trade practices in North America. But with a strong economy expected to be one of Trump’s campaign talking points, he may be more hesitant now to pull the plug. “It’s pretty clear that he’s not willing to take that gamble, given the effect that would have on markets ahead of the 2020 election,” said Alden, of the Council on Foreign Relations. With very important trade deals and policies under consideration in several regions, these ongoing talks are critical to future sector growth — and should be watch closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 27, 2019 |


- While historic floodwaters that ravaged northeast and north-central Nebraska and parts of Iowa are receding, agricultural operations continue to struggle to return to normal. Ethanol plants and feedlots, in particular, continue to have trouble shipping ethanol and sourcing feedstocks, as many rail lines across the region continue to be down and highways in shambles. Tom Feller, president and CEO of Feller and Company Cattle Feeder that operates along the Elkhorn River in Wisner, Nebraska, said his feedlots are battling higher transportation costs as they work to repair a key roadway into their property. "Our bridge road south of Wisner is out," he said. "South of Wisner is home to about 70,000 cattle. We have cattle on both sides of the Elkhorn River, which causes us added expense of $500 per day to go 22 miles around through Pilger with feed. "All our employees' drive time is greater also. We do have a back road out of our feedlot, so we are bringing corn, hay, etc. in a back driveway. We are hauling the dirt into the bridge approaches from the feedlot, so hopefully this week we can get bridge open and back to normal," he said. Mike Drinnin, owner and manager of Drinnin Feedlots Inc. in Columbus and Drinnin West Cattle Company in Palmer, said damaged highways into Columbus continue to cause problems for his operation. "To ship cattle from our Palmer yard to Cargill (Schuyler, Nebraska) adds at least $250 per load to delivery costs," he said. "Byproduct that we normally source out of ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) Columbus has to come out of Aurora, (Nebraska), and with the extra miles to get to Columbus, adds at least $15 per ton to the cost delivered. Rail lines need to be fixed west of Columbus, and Highway 30 from west into Columbus needs to have extensive repair." The Nebraska Department of Transportation and the railroad have been "working day and night to get things moving," Drinnin said. J.P. Rhea, feedyard manager for Rhea Cattle Company in Arlington, said with the ADM Columbus and other ethanol plants down in the area, his operation has had difficulty sourcing distillers grain.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 27, 2019 |


Canada, Mexico, Continue to Press for Removal of Steel, Aluminum Tariffs Canada and Mexico this week are again pressing the Trump administration to remove steel and aluminum tariffs. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer earlier this week and threatened to withhold ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement if the duties remain in place, according to Politico. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and others have previously said that if the tariffs remain in place following the implementation of the USMCA, the tariffs would offset any gains reached in the agreement. Specifically, Freeland of Canada is urging the administration to lift the tariffs without replacing them with a quota, telling reporters “Canadians feel the right thing is there should be no 232 tariffs or retaliatory measures between our two countries.” A trade official from Mexico echoed the comments, saying “what industry in North America needs is the elimination of this tariff.” ************************************************************************************* Trump Effort to Change China Trade Drawing Global Support The efforts by the Trump Administration that seek trade policy changes by China are drawing global support. Reuters reports the European Union shares many of the same frustrations over China’s technology transfer policies and market access constraints and is a “quiet supporter” of Trump’s efforts with China. That comes though as the U.S. is seeking trade talks with the EU, as well, which agriculture is a key sticking point. The ongoing talks with China continue later this week, and the Trump administration claims to be in the final stages of the negotiation. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has previously said China could double, or even triple its purchases of U.S. agricultural products as part of a trade agreement. The current tariff climate between China and the U.S. slowed China’s purchases of U.S. farm products, including soybeans and pork. Originally thought to be completed at the end of March, some experts now say a deal may be finalized early this summer. ************************************************************************************* Upper Midwest Farm Bankruptcies on the Rise The Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank reports farm stress and bankruptcies have increased in the upper Midwest, which includes dairy country. The Federal Reserve Ninth District reported 103 chapter 12 bankruptcies in 2018, compared to 79 in 2017. Farmers in the region continue to face low prices for commodities, including dairy products, and high production costs. Total costs for inputs like seed, fertilizer, pesticide, fuel, and electricity have risen by 50 percent since 2006 for Minnesota farmers. The district of the Federal reserve includes parts or all of Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Dairy farmers in particular have seen hard times, with overproduction and low prices. Many farms have gone out of business or shifted to other agricultural production sectors, while surviving dairies are growing. Bankers apparently don’t have the optimism of farmers either as the Minneapolis Fed reports the most recent quarterly ag credit survey conducted in January found that bankers widely predicted lower capital spending and net farm income for the coming three months, as well as more weakness in loan repayments. ************************************************************************************* FSA Permits Emergency Grazing on Conservation Reserve Program Acres in Nebraska The Farm Service Agency this week authorized emergency grazing of Conservation Reserve Program acres for 45 Nebraska counties impacted by the recent weather events. The emergency grazing authorization is effective immediately and ends April 30, 2019. The authorization was granted to address the impacts of the recent extreme weather, including flooding, snowmelt and mud. CRP contract holders who are interested in using the emergency grazing authorization must contact their FSA county office to complete required paperwork before allowing grazing to begin. Farmers should also contact their local FSA office to report all damages and losses. CRP participants who use this option will need to obtain a modified conservation plan, which includes emergency grazing provisions, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. CRP participants can allow others to use their CRP acres under the emergency grazing authorization. However, the livestock owners also will need to complete FSA paperwork indicating their grazing land was adversely impacted by severe weather. ************************************************************************************* Flooding Impact Could Include Thousands of Rural Water Wells Thousands of water wells are located within flooded areas of the Midwest that could be contaminated with E. coli, according to the National Ground Water Association. The Association says the number of wells impacted could be substantial because a large portion of the Midwest affected by flooding relies on groundwater for rural and small municipal water supply. Household, farm, and small business wells could be standing in water for several days, raising the potential for contamination. While the exact number of wells possibly affected by contaminated floodwater cannot be readily counted, Census Bureau data show over one million wells in 300 counties impacted by flooding. This estimate includes counties flooded in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin during the March 2019 winter storm. Following a flood, disinfection and wellhead repair may be common needs among well owners. Well relocation and elevation may also be useful and protective. The association says well owners should continue to monitor and test their systems. ************************************************************************************* USDA Announces Investments in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in 23 States The U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced a $116 million effort to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 171,000 rural Americans in 23 states. USDA is working with local partners to provide financing for 49 water and environmental infrastructure projects. The funding is being provided through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley called the funding "foundational to health, safety and economic development." One of the larger projects includes a $2.3 million loan for Lake City, Arkansas, to modernize its wastewater treatment and collection system, which serves more than 2,000 residents. Another effort in rural Northwest Indiana includes a $3.4 million loan and a $1.7 million grant to connect three unserved areas of the city to the sewer system and to replace the main water lift station. Find the list of projects at www.rd.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 27, 2019 |


Less than one week after talks with USDA officials, Brazil says an inspection mission timetable that could open the door to a resumption of shipments of Brazilian beef to U.S. markets has been established. Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply says a USDA audit of the inspection system of its “agricultural establishments” will take place between June 10 and June 28, according to a statement on its official website. The announcement followed the release of a joint statement outlining efforts to build a future partnership that could reduce trade barriers on meat products. Concerns about the safety of Brazilian beef prompted USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to suspend all imports of fresh Brazilian beef in June 2017 in the wake of public health concerns, sanitary conditions and animal health issues, USDA announced at the time. USDA at the time noted that the rejection rate of 11 percent for Brazilian beef was substantially higher than the 1 percent rejection rate for fresh beef arriving from the rest of the world. The upcoming USDA inspections are intended to verify that Brazilian meat products and the plants where they are processed meet USDA sanitary requirements, Brazilian officials announced. A report of the findings are expected to be released on an unspecified date, the announcement added.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 26, 2019 |


USDA Lowers Rate of Increase For Grocery Store Price Outlook USDA now expects food price inflation for food at home (grocery store prices) to be 0.5% to 1.5%, down from their prior outlook for those prices to increase 1% to 2% in 2019 compared to 2018. USDA economists followed a similar pattern with their forecast for 2018 grocery store prices, initially setting the outlook at one percent to two percent, but trimming it to 0.5% to 1.5% in February 2018 with another revision down to steady to up 1% in July. Grocery store prices in 2018 ended up rising 0.4% after having posted annual declines in 2017 and 2018. Compared to February, USDA analysts downgraded their outlooks for several commodities relative to grocery store prices, including meats, poultry and fish, dairy products and fruits and vegetables. USDA trimmed the forecast decline in egg prices and increased its outlook for cereals and bakery products and nonalcoholic beverages. USDA did not change its outlook for overall food price inflation, leaving it at 1.5% to 2.5% compared with a 20-year average of 2.3%. USDA Sets Enrollment for 2018 MPP For Some Dairy Producers Dairy producers who enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) insurance product for the 2018 calendar year can now enroll to retroactively participate in the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for that year. Previously, those with the LGM insurance were unable to participate in MPP, but the signup running through May 10 will allow those producers to be able to get a one-time MPP payment for 2018. Producers will be required to visit their local Farm Service Agency office to signup for the limited retroactive MPP program. USDA said this will apply to a "limited' number of dairy producers. The option to get the 2018 MPP coverage in addition to having the 2018 LGM coverage was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA is still working on getting the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program ready to roll, with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue saying the agency will have portions of it ready to go next month. Washington Insider: China Promises Openness in Push for US Deal There is a lot of activity between the U.S. and China these days as well and important promises are being offered. For example, the New York Times says that top Chinese economic policymakers “promised this weekend that Beijing was ready to open up the country’s economy to more market-based competition and international trade.” Clearly, contacts between the two countries have intensified, the Times says. Senior American officials are scheduled to go to Beijing in the coming days for trade talks, with Chinese officials then headed to Washington the following week in an attempt to wrap up a deal. The Times also says that Chinese officials have “an extra incentive in pledging to loosen their hold over the world’s No. 2 economy – and not just to the Trump administration.” In addition to a trade war that is hitting the country’s exporters, China’s economy has also been hurt by private sector business leaders who have become increasingly cautious in recent months about making new investments. Key developments in China include a slowing economy that creates “a self-reinforcing cycle of skepticism that further private investments will be profitable.” State-owned enterprises have claimed a growing share of the loans available in the economy, a sign that the government may be crowding out the private businesses that could drive future growth. The promises of economic opening may sound familiar. Chinese officials have said for years that they were ready to allow foreign competitors to enter their market on a more equal footing, with slow progress. The tone of remarks at this weekend’s session of the China Development Forum, the country’s premier annual economic policy conference, was nonetheless “striking” and coordinated, the Times says. It lists several examples. Han Zheng, one of the seven men who run the country as members of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, said that China wanted to keep increasing imports. “We do not strive for a trade surplus,” he said. Yi Gang, the governor of the central bank, said that China wanted more foreign investment. He said the government was looking for ways to let foreign investors trade derivatives and other financial instruments so as to limit their exposure to risk. Such a move could mean loosening Beijing’s controls over the value of its currency — a politically sensitive subject, and one in which Beijing has a mixed record — and Yi offered no details. Han, Yi and other senior officials took turns extolling a new foreign investment law approved by China’s legislature on March 15, describing it as a carefully thought-out framework for making the country a more appealing place to invest. However, foreign lawyers have described the new law as vague, noting that a third of the provisions are no longer than one sentence each and that domestic companies are still covered by separate legislation. China has made similar offers ever since President Trump visited Beijing in November 2017, as part of an effort by Beijing to woo support from Wall Street during the trade war. At the same time, President Trump’s remark on Friday that the United States would keep its 25% tariff imposed last summer on $50 billion of Chinese goods drew irritation at the forum. For the United States to insist on keeping tariffs could “ruin the whole base of this negotiation,” said Zhu Min, an influential adviser on economic policy issues in Beijing and a former senior central banker in Beijing and former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund in Washington. The Trump administration had consistently taken a hard line on retaining the tariffs on the $50 billion a year in goods. The administration has been much more willing to discuss removing a 10 percent tariff imposed last autumn on another $200 billion a year in goods. But corporate lobbyists in Washington have mounted a strenuous campaign for the repeal of all tariffs, including on the $50 billion in goods. Chinese officials have been hoping that campaign would be successful. An extensive interagency effort by civil servants and political appointees produced the $50 billion list of products. They came up with product categories in which they did not want the United States to become more dependent on China. Some products were included for reasons of national security, like components for nuclear reactors and aircraft. At a separate gathering on Friday afternoon that was organized by the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing research group, former senior American and Chinese officials also expressed worry about whether the broader relationship between China and the United States could be quickly fixed even if a trade deal were reached soon. In spite of widespread signs of interest in reaching a deal between China and the United States, there are still important hurdles to be surmounted, both in China and the US. However, the negotiations increasingly appear to be serious and highly focused and should be watched closely by producers as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 26, 2019 |


Flood Damages Estimated at $3 Billion Damages from flooding in the Midwest are now estimated to top $3 billion, with threats of more flooding on the horizon. President Donald Trump has approved federal disaster declarations for counties in Iowa and Nebraska. Iowa officials say agriculture losses are at least $214 million. The Missouri River flooding will continue as an above normal snowpack in the North begins to melt and move downstream. Forecasters warn the flooding could continue through May. Meanwhile, other states in the region have also experienced severe flooding, including Illinois, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin. With Congress back in session, the growing price tag could ramp up pressure on lawmakers to offer additional aid, according to Politico, as flood relief will be in the mix when the Senate takes up a House-passed $14.2 billion disaster aid package. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure this week. ************************************************************************************* Farm Futures Planting Survey Shows Less Corn Acres than USDA Farmers indicate they may plant less corn than previously thought by the Department of Agriculture, according to the annual Farm Futures planting survey. The survey of 1,000 producers nationwide says that after planting more soybeans than corn in 2018 for the first time in 35 years, farmers want to return to more normal rotations this spring. However, with the impact of trade tariffs, weather and current conditions in the farm economy, many are looking for alternative crops. The survey reported corn acreage at 90.9 million, up 1.7 million from last year. The 1.9 percent increase was less than the 92 million in the USDA forecast over the winter. Farmers expect soybean plantings at 85.9 million, down 3.3 million, or 3.7 percent from last year. Still, soybean acres are reported higher than the 85 million USDA forecasted recently. The survey also found winter wheat plantings are expected at 31.3 million acres, which would drop all-wheat seedings to 45.9 million, down 2.4 million or 5.1 percent from 2018. That would be the lowest total since at least 1919. ************************************************************************************* Importers of Illegal Pork May Face Fine The illegal pork discovered by border agents from China could lead to fines for the importer of the products. However, the exporter, being China, is not likely to be penalized, according to officials, who say “It’s very difficult to penalize an exporting country,” adding “You have to have a very large burden of proof to prove what they’re doing,” as reported by Reuters. The U.S. and other nations remain on high alert to illegal imports of pork from nations with African swine fever. Customs Border and Protection say the shipment recently found included pork, but not all items in the one-million-pound shipment were pork, as previously announced. The containers seized also had noodles and tea bags that were used to facilitate the unlawful import of pork products. Because China has wide-spread African swine fever, U.S. agriculture and border officials say the imported pork may contain the virus, which is a threat to the U.S. pork industry. However, the U.S. will not test the product to confirm that, as officials say all products found in violation of U.S. regulations are destroyed. ************************************************************************************* Coalition Urges Full Funding for Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network A coalition of agriculture groups Monday urged Congress to fully fund efforts to improve mental health in rural America. The groups, including the National Farmers Union, asked Congress to fully fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network in fiscal year 2020. The program provides grants for extension services, state departments of agriculture, nonprofit organizations and other entities to provide stress assistance programs to farmers, farmworkers and others. The groups noted the current prolonged farm economy downturn is causing even greater stress for farmers and ranchers, as net farm income in 2018 was nearly 50 percent less than it was in 2013. Congress provided $2 million in the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill for a pilot of the program. A letter from the coalition sent to the Senate and House agriculture appropriations subcommittees urged lawmakers to fully fund the program at $10 million, calling the effort “critically important” to meeting the mental health needs of farmers. ************************************************************************************* American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Soda Taxes Health organizations Monday called for additional taxes on added sugars, like those on sodas and other sugary drinks. In a joint policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association endorsed a suite of public health measures, including excise taxes, limits on marketing to children, and financial incentives for purchasing healthier beverages, all designed to reduce kids' consumption of sugary drinks. The groups cited evidence of association between added sugars and increased risk of heart disease and other long-term health problems. The groups point out that the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and teens consume fewer than ten percent of calories from added sugars. But, data shows that children and teens now consume 17 percent of their calories from added sugars, nearly half of which comes from drinks alone. So, the groups say local, state and national policymakers should consider raising the price of sugary drinks, such as via an excise tax, along with an accompanying educational campaign, and say tax revenues should go in part toward reducing health and socioeconomic disparities. ************************************************************************************* AFBF Launches Women in Ag Survey The American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Program has launched “Women in Ag,” an online survey that aims to gauge the goals, aspirations, achievements and needs of women in American agriculture in a variety of areas. All women who are farmers, ranchers, farm employees, employed in agricultural businesses, pursuing ag-related higher education or supportive of agriculture in other ways are invited to participate in the survey at fb.org/women. Respondents must reside in the United States and Farm Bureau membership is not required to participate. The survey asks women in-depth questions about how they are connected to agriculture and what leadership skills they think are most important today, as well as the top business challenges they’re facing. Data collected from respondents will be used to gauge trends related to the achievements of women in agriculture, including leadership positions, business successes and election to public office. Results from the survey are slated for release in the fall and will add to findings gleaned from a similar survey conducted in 2014. Participants will be entered to receive one of five $100 gift cards after the survey closes on June 21.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 25, 2019 |


Focus This Week is on Disaster Aid A procedural vote in the Senate could come Tuesday on a disaster aid plan in the Senate. Details are uncertain just yet as there is likely some consideration being given to the heavy Midwest flooding situation. The version most recently was for $14.2 billion. A House-passed supplemental appropriations bill would authorize $3 billion in assistance for agricultural losses, largely directed at hurricane damage to crops in the Southeast last fall. But some think that the Midwest flooding will give lawmakers some pause and they will include amounts for those affected producers. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue expressed view a Midwest flooding aid should be included in any aid plan as USDA disaster assistance programs are unlikely to be sufficient. US-China Trade Talks Another Attention Point A US trade negotiating delegation will be in Beijing late this week. Led by U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the two will visit Beijing for two days beginning Thursday for another round of trade negotiations with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. These will be the first face-to-face talks since President Donald Trump delayed a March 1 deadline to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. A Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He will be in Washington to continue the talks starting April 3. The goal is to button down an agreement by the end of April.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 25, 2019 |


China Purchases U.S. Sorghum, Corn as Trade Talks Continue The Department of Agriculture reports China last week made another 2.6-million-bushel purchase of U.S. sorghum, to the delight of the National Sorghum Producers. China also announced significant purchases of U.S. corn last week. The purchase occurred as China confirmed continuing the ongoing trade talks with the United States. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin will meet with Chinese constituents in Beijing later this week. President Trump has also made comments saying he is pleased with positive direction U.S.-China trade negotiations have taken. Concerns remain, however, after President Trump said last week he would keep tariffs in place on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods until it is clear Beijing is complying with any trade deal that is reached. That could be further concerning if China doesn’t agree to remove trade tariffs on U.S. agricultural products implemented as part of last year’s tit-for-tat trade war. Still, signs remain that the trade talks are progressing and could be finalized by early this summer. ************************************************************************************* Growth Energy Calls on DOT to Provide Rail Assistance During Midwest Flooding Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor is calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to help expedite rail delivery of biofuels amid historic flooding. Flooding in a four-state area has delayed transportation of critical supplies of biofuel, which in turn, could impact consumer fuel costs. Rail lines in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri remain closed with many washouts reported from the flooding. Those rail lines are critical for the daily operation of biofuels facilities in the Midwest to receive and distribute its products. In her letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Skor said: “Further delays could not only impact our industry, but could also ultimately increase fuel costs for American drivers.” Ethanol plants report some damages, delays or even closures as flood waters inundated Nebraska and the Missouri River bottom grounds, home to ethanol facilities and critical rail lines for the region. President Trump issued a federal emergency declaration for Nebraska last week. ************************************************************************************* USDA Assisting Producers in Flooded Areas The Department of Agriculture is offering assistance to farmers and ranchers affected by the devastation caused by historic flooding in the Midwest. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says USDA staff in the regional, state, and county offices are responding and providing a variety of program flexibilities and other assistance to residents, producers, and communities. Perdue encouraged farmers to contact their local USDA Service Center, as USDA will “do everything in their power” to assist producers. USDA can help producers with the Livestock Indemnity Program, Emergency Assistance payments, along with resources through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and others. The department can also assist rural communities in removing debris, and offers technical assistance, loans, grants, and loan guarantees to rural communities and individuals to assist with the construction or rehabilitation of utility infrastructure including water and wastewater systems, community infrastructure, and housing. ************************************************************************************* Dairy Producers Enrolled in Livestock Gross Margin Program Eligible for 2018 MPP Dairy producers who participated in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program now can participate in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy for 2018 coverage. The Department of Agriculture announced the eligibility last week. Producers enrolled in 2018 LGM-Dairy, administered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency under 2014 Farm Bill, were ineligible for coverage under MPP-Dairy, a safety net program available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce says changes in the 2018 Farm Bill “includes the ability for producers with LGM coverage to retroactively enroll in MPP-Dairy for 2018.” The MPP-Dairy program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producers in a dairy operation. LGM-Dairy is an insurance product that provides protection when feed costs rise, or milk prices drop. This retroactive sign-up is only for dairy producers with 2018 LGM coverage who produced and marketed milk in 2018 but did not obtain full year MPP-Dairy coverage. ************************************************************************************* Canada Expanding Detector Dog Program for ASF Defense Canada, like the United States, is increasing its defense against African swine fever. Canada recently announced it would more than double the total number of detector dog teams at Canada’s airports within five years. The plan includes new funding of up to $31 million to add 24 Food, Plant, and Animal Detector Dog Service teams for a total of 39. Canada says the new teams are being deployed to help prevent illegally imported meat products from entering into Canada. Canada, like the U.S., is bolstering its efforts to detect potentially illegal animal products from entering its borders as African swine fever remains a threat. Detector dogs in the U.S. recently discovered one million pounds of pork illegally imported from China, where African swine fever is wide-spread. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says in a news release that meat and meat products from countries affected by African swine fever “present one of the greatest risks for introducing this animal disease to Canada.” *************************************************************************************​ MillerCoors Suing Anheuser-Busch of Corn Syrup Commercials MillerCoors has filed a lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch over its series of commercials on the use of corn syrup in the brewing process. Bud Light doesn’t use corn syrup, and MillerCoors does. The lawsuit filed last week alleges the ads are false, misleading and part of a plot to frighten drinkers of Miller Lite and Coors Light to favor of Bud Light, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. MillerCoors says that contrary to what the ads suggest, there is no corn syrup in the final product, as corn syrup is used only as a fermentation aid and is completely turned into alcohol by the time it is finished. The brewer alleges Anheuser-Busch is deliberately playing on consumers' ignorance that ordinary corn syrup is different from the controversial high-fructose corn syrup. Anheuser-Busch started the conflict with a Super Bowl commercial, which prompted anger amongst corn farmers. MillerCoors is asking a federal court to halt the ads and force Anheuser Busch to launch a new campaign "to correct the false and misleading impressions."

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 25, 2019 |


MWGA To Host Bighorn Panel Discussion The Montana Wool Growers Association will host a Bighorn Sheep Panel on March 29 between Washington State University and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to present, review and discuss sheep research efforts. Specifically, the panel will discuss recent research/findings at WSU concerning the management of bighorn and domestic sheep. Dr. Mike Mitchell of the University of Montana Wildlife Co-Op Unit will moderate the discussion. A panel discussion between landowner producers and FWP will include sheep producers Nina Baucus, John Helle, and John and Betty Sampsel. The meeting will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at MT Wild, 2668 Broadwater Ave. in Helena, Mont.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 25, 2019 |


The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is an exciting and rewarding place to start, build, and/or continue your career. Be part of our team and support the well-being of Montana agriculture and the American public. The Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA) is seeking to fill three full-time, permanent Farm Loan Officer Trainees positions at County Field office locations. These positions will be assigned to the Farm Service Agency in the Farm Loan Branch, located in Billings, Cut Bank, and Miles City, Montana. FSA’s diverse culture and benefits allow for a healthy balance between your career and home life. In addition to a generous salary, positions with FSA offer benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, 401(k) plan, paid holidays, vacation and sick leave, and flexible work schedules. Potential applicants interested in learning more about open positions with the Montana Farm Service Agency and/or applying for these positions should click on the link below: Farm Loan Officer Trainee Locations: Billings, Cut Bank, and Miles City, Montana Dates Open: March 15, 2019 to March 25, 2019 Salary Range: $33,394 to $72,437 per year Link: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/527550400 Announcement Number: FSA-19-10442794-MP-WY-MT-KGApply at: www.usajobs.govhttp://www.usajobs.gov Questions? Please contact your local FSA Office.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 25, 2019 |


Governor Steve Bullock today announced that he will establish a Grizzly Bear Advisory Council to help initiate a statewide discussion on grizzly bear management, conservation and recovery. The Council will be selected through an application process that ends April 12th. “The recovery of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems is a great conservation success. Still, official federal delisting has yet to come to fruition,” Bullock wrote in a memo to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Martha Williams. “Legal uncertainty has created a void requiring our leadership,” Governor Bullock said. “As bears continue to expand in numbers and habitat, we must identify durable and inclusive strategies to address current issues and prepare for the future. This advisory council represents a key step toward Montana embracing the tremendous responsibility and opportunity of long-term Grizzly Bear recovery and management.” Montana is home, in whole or in part, to four grizzly bear recovery zones designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS): the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE); the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE); the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem; and the Bitterroot Ecosystem. While grizzly bear numbers have surpassed recovery objectives in the GYE and NCDE, they have yet to reach recovery levels in the Cabinet-Yaak and Bitterroot. Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are officially under the jurisdiction of the FWS, but much of the day-to-day management of bears in Montana is done by FWP in partnership and with oversight of the FWS. The FWS delisted the GYE grizzly bear population under the Endangered Species Act in 2017, but a federal court decision last fall relisted the population. This delayed the delisting process for the NCDE and resulted in an appeal of the GYE decision by the State of Montana and others. Grizzly bear populations continue to expand, in some cases into areas they have not occupied for decades. Management challenges and conflicts have increased. FWP, along with partner agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the FWS, work together to respond to conflicts as they occur. However, the situation has become increasingly complex as bears move into areas of Montana outside of existing recovery zones, such as the Big Hole Valley, Little Belt Mountains, and the plains east of the Rocky Mountain Front. Developing strategies to ensure a timely and appropriate response to these conflicts and addressing the needs of communities and landowners most impacted in these areas are key priorities identified for the advisory council’s deliberations. “We’re excited to work with this advisory council, and we see this as a great opportunity to find a way forward that reflects the values and needs of Montana as it relates to grizzly bear management,” FWP Director Williams said. “A council that is inclusive in its composition will allow for the balanced discussion we need to have.” The Grizzly Bear Advisory Council will be tasked with considering broad strategic objectives, such as: Maintaining and enhancing human safety; Ensuring a healthy and sustainable grizzly bear population; Improving timely and effective response to conflicts involving grizzly bears; Engaging all partners in grizzly-related outreach and conflict prevention; and Improving intergovernmental, interagency, and tribal coordination. The Council will focus on providing recommendations to the Governor’s Office, FWP, and the Fish & Wildlife Commission that are clear and actionable on how to move forward with grizzly bear management, conservation and recovery. It will consider several pressing issues including bear distribution, connectivity between ecosystems, conflict prevention, response protocols, outreach and education, and the role of hunting and necessary resources for long-term population sustainability. Governor Bullock is looking for a broad cross-section of interests to serve on the Council, including livestock producers, wildlife enthusiasts, conservation groups, hunters, community leaders, Tribal Nation representatives and outdoor industry professionals. Council application information can be found online

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 22, 2019 |


Unchanged Interest Rates in 2019 Better for Agriculture With the Federal Reserve hinting at leaving interest rates unchanged in 2019, the farm economy has one less chance for deterioration. Low-interest rates have been cited as the reason the current farm economy has not reached the crisis seen in the 1980s. Politico reports that while farmers are having losses, those losses don't compare to the 1980s when interest rates were between 10 and 20 percent, compared to the five or six percent rates seen today. Despite declining farm income and low commodity prices, the low-interest rates are keeping land values strong. The Federal Reserve bank this week signaled interest rates will not likely be raised in 2019, veering away from the previous plan that included two interest rate hikes this year. Chairman Jerome Powell noted that there is "major uncertainty" regarding the U.S. economic picture, suggesting that the outlook is overall positive, but growth "is slowing somewhat more than expected." ************************************************************************************* EPA Likely to Grant Partial Biofuel Waivers for 2018 The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to issue partial waivers to some of the 39 refiners asking for a reprieve from the Renewable Fuel Standard. Reuters reports the EPA is set to decide on its pending 2018 exemption applications by the end of March, the compliance-year deadline under the RFS. Officials close to the issue say the EPA seems likely to issue partial waivers, a move only made once by the EPA in the past. Expansion under the waiver program has angered farmers, as the waivers reduce ethanol demand. Just last week, reports showed ethanol consumption declined last year for the first time 20 years in the United States. Under the trump administration and then EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the number of small refinery exemptions granted went from seven in 2015 to at least 34 in 2017. The waivers are intended for small refiners, but the EPA granted waivers to facilities owned by billion-dollar oil companies, including Chevron and Exxon Mobil. ************************************************************************************* Flood Losses Include Fields, Facilities and Stored Grains Flood losses along the Missouri River include farm ground and farm facilities, along with stored grains and livestock. The flooding came quick for many, leaving little time to evacuate farm products, animals and equipment. Those damages, topping $1 billion from flooding in a four-state area, includes rural roads, bridges and public infrastructure such as schools. Lawmakers are prepping to quickly consider adding the flooding to a large disaster bill when Congress returns to session next week. However, officials in states like Nebraska say the impact is not yet tallied, as the adverse conditions linger. Meanwhile, flooding continues to move downstream, and weather officials warn of more flooding this spring as the snowmelt begins and broken levees leave large areas unprotected. The National Weather Service Kansas City office reported Thursday the Missouri River was discharging 315,000 cubic feet per second at Rulo, Nebraska, where the river beat its 1993 records earlier in the week. NWS says that’s enough water to fill Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium in under nine minutes. The stadium has room for more than 76,000 football fans and stands 260 feet tall. ************************************************************************************* Long Term Outlook Shows Trade Issues to Define the Next Ten Years A long-term outlook from the Department of Agriculture predicts trade will continue to dictate the agriculture sector over the next ten years. Specifically, the report says that over the next several years, the agricultural sector will continue to adjust to the ongoing China-U.S. trade dispute. USDA’s Agriculture Projections to 2028 report out this week shows an improved environment, including a continued increase in trade, supports growing global demand for agricultural products. However, slowing global economic growth rates and a relatively strong dollar are expected to weigh on growth in U.S. agricultural exports. The 102-page report does predict increases in nearly all U.S. agricultural exports, adding developing countries will continue to account for most of the growth. However, regarding China, trade tariffs are limiting demand, and the report assumes those tariffs to continue through the projection period. Any trade outcome with China could drastically change U.S. exports to China, making the trade talks a vital step for the next ten years. ************************************************************************************* Pork Essentially Free of Veterinary Drug Residues A survey by the Department of Agriculture shows no veterinary drug residues were found and none at levels that even approached U. S. regulatory limits in pork samples. The Survey by the USDA Agricultural Research Service looked at more than 1,000 pork kidney samples. The findings, according to USDA, signal that U.S. pork producers are using veterinary compounds properly and indicate that veterinary drug residues in pork are not posing a health concern to U.S. consumers. A total of 1040 pork kidneys were purchased from four grocery stores in the Midwest and tested for residues of five commonly used veterinary drugs and feed additives. Pork kidneys are commonly used as an indicator meat as they are readily accessible and tend to concentrate drug residues compared to more commonly consumed muscle meats. Only six samples, or 0.58 percent, were positive when screened for antibiotics, indicating those samples potentially contained antibiotic residues. ************************************************************************************* Chinese Leaders Visit NCGA Offices Two business leaders from China visited the National Corn Growers Association's offices this week to discuss the U.S. corn industry and NCGA's role in working to create opportunities for farmers. Robyn Allscheid, NCGA director of Research and Productivity, said the visitors were intrigued by NCGA's focused mission of sustainably in a way that is profitable for the nearly 40,000 dues-paying members nationwide, as well as the 300,000 growers who contribute through corn checkoff programs. The two officials from China are part of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs International Visitor Leadership Program. The program connects current and emerging leaders who travel to the U.S. for programs that reflect their professional interests and U.S. Foreign Policy Goals. Allsheid says they were “were very interested in how farmers make independent planting decisions but also the role the market plays in determining corn prices."

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 21, 2019 |


US-China News Continues to Run Positive, Negative Statements by President Donald Trump and other officials are continuing a pattern of seemingly getting one step forward and one or even two steps back in the process of reaching an agreement on trade issues between the two. After Tuesday's news flow which saw reports that China was backing away from certain components sought by Washington in any trade deal and then word that top U.S. negotiators were headed to China next week, the pattern continued Wednesday. President Donald Trump said as he left Washington that the U.S. would keep tariffs on Chinese goods for a "substantial period of time," potentially even after a deal is reached. “We have to make sure that if we do the deal with China that China lives by the deal," Trump noted. But he also sounded some positive notes, including that "top representatives" are headed to China next week for negotiations, a reference confirming the reports Tuesday that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin would head to China for talks. And even despite the warning on tariffs, Trump still labeled the talks as "coming along nicely." Cruz Says EPA Will Keep Handing Out Small Refiner Waivers EPA has given "explicit promises" to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that the agency will keep granting small refiner waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and will not retroactively reallocate those waived obligations, according to a report from Bloomberg. Cruz said he extracted those pledges after working with other Republican senators to slow now-Administrator Andy Wheeler's nomination. Cruz said he and others extracted the pledge from Wheeler after warning that their votes were dependent on the administration continuing to lower the regulatory burden for oil refiners. EPA said it would not "backtrack" on what Cruz labeled "vital regulatory relief" by not granting the small refiner waivers. “We are going to hold the EPA and the administrator to those commitments,” Cruz said at the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers association meeting in San Antonio, Texas. “Those were public commitments that were necessary for his confirmation, and we fully expect him to follow through.” Washington Insider: Implementing Steel Tariffs There are a great many questions about the administration’s heavy reliance on tariffs as instruments of trade policy, but one that generally receives little notice is the equity of their application. Bloomberg is reporting this week that a number of firms are now raising questions about the role of the four largest US producers who have made a majority of the objections to other companies’ requests for tariff relief, “sinking many importers’ hopes of escaping the duties.” Nucor Corp., U.S. Steel Corp., AK Steel and TimkenSteel accounted for most of the objections submitted to the Commerce Department concerning steel tariff relief, Bloomberg says, and notes that US Steel and Nucor, respectively, prevailed in getting Commerce to reject tariff relief on 332 out of 333 and 515 out of 544 of decisions recently released, according to Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind. These data show that Commerce has denied more than 90% of applications where an objection was filed, Can Manufacturers Institute President Robert Budway said. Walorski said she was concerned that Commerce may be evaluating “each request in a vacuum” without considering whether companies “can actually produce the cumulative total if they prevail in their objections.” Data on exclusion requests and objections are made public on line where they are posted for comment, although the postings are not always up to date, Commerce notes. For their part, steel producers claimed that they filed only limited objections and did so “in cases where they could produce the steel for which tariff exemptions were sought.” This suggests that producers are relying on the tariffs to hold down supplies, Christine McDaniel, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at the George Mason University in Virginia, told Bloomberg. As of Dec. 20, 2018, US producers objected to exclusions on 145.2 million metric tons of steel — well above last year’s domestic production of 81.6 million metric tons, she said. “They would have to literally double or triple their production, which is unheard of,” she said. The American Iron and Steel Institute, the major steelmakers’ trade group, said claims by some opponents of the process are “grossly misleading.” Instead of focusing on the success of any particular request or objection, the focus should be on the impact that the cumulative requests could have. To date, the amount of steel from which US importers have requested relief far exceeds the volume that the entire US imported in 2017, according to the institute. At the same time, delays in getting decisions on 23 exclusion requests filed in June are costly for Mid-Continent Nail Corp., which faces objections from Nucor, according to Adam Gordon of Bristol Group PLLC. While Nucor can produce the products in question, it cannot supply the quantities Mid-Continent needs, he said. Gordon, who represents Mid-Continent, said extraordinary delays in processing exclusions are hurting downstream industries. One of the biggest things that would help speed up the process would be if steelmakers were more candid about their production limitations and choices, he said. Independent Can Co. in Belchamp, Md., has about 24 requests still pending, President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Huether told Bloomberg. Domestic companies lack the capacity to service Independent Can’s needs, he said. Independent Can, which needs an exclusion for tin plate, has spent some $160,000 just on filing the exclusions and paid about $800,000 in tariffs, he said. “For a small company, this is very costly,” he said. A major problem with the system is lack of information on how Commerce makes a decision, trade attorney Bernd Janzen of Akin Gump said. His firm represents Volkswagen Group of America, which is waiting for decisions on requests where objections have been filed. “How do they decide when the requester and the objector say different things?” he asked. Frustration with the delays and general opacity of the system will likely result in litigation, he said. Most manufacturers of industrial products hate the tariffs and the current system and are quick to charge that it raises costs significantly for consumers across the United States. The charges that it adds uncertainty and is widely seen as inequitable are serious shortcomings that will be raised repeatedly as the administration’s trade policies are reviewed in the process of considering approval for the new trade deals now being negotiated — a process producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 21, 2019 |


As farmers and ranchers try to get feed to their cattle to keep them alive, or find the ones who have died, the government is adding up how much federal help is needed. According to the eight-page disaster declaration request filed by Nebraska officials, preliminary estimates put agriculture losses from the flooding and blizzard near the $1 billion mark. State officials on Wednesday said the numbers could continue to rise as more-detailed assessments are completed. "Losses to agriculture, the major industry for the state of Nebraska, are already being felt, due to it being calving season," the request said. "Thousands of livestock have perished either due to extreme cold weather, blizzard conditions, or extreme flooding. The loss of water supplies in many areas has caused large concern for large cattle, swine and chicken operations. The farms and feedlots could not be accessed due to floodwater and drinking water for the animals had to be trucked in." So far the Nebraska Cattlemen's Association has estimated feedlot and cow/calf operations have lost $400 million in livestock. Increased transportation costs from infrastructure loss are hitting feedlots to the tune of about $1 million a day, the written request said. In addition, feedlots have lost about $36 million in feed supplies. On the cropping side, state officials estimate a loss of about $440 million. Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman said on Wednesday that crop estimates include the cost of removing debris from fields, lost supplies stored on the ground and stored grain losses, among other things. As of Wednesday morning, about 375 miles of state roads remained closed. Later on Tuesday night, Nebraska Department of Transportation Director Kyle Schneweis said Nebraska Highway 275 reopened between Wisner and Beemer along the Elkhorn River. About 200 miles of state highways need repair. "We heard from several ag producers about how important this was," Schneweis said on Wednesday. "They can now make way into their fields." The federal disaster declaration request paints an ugly picture for Nebraska's agriculture-based economy.